Monday, December 9, 2013

Holly Jolly Shotwell Family Christmas?

There is a quote in Jim Carrey's version of the Grinch when he asks:  "Are you having a holly-jolly Christmas?".  This is just before he hatches his infamous evil plot to steal the Who's beloved Christmas.    Since I watch this movie at least five times every holiday season (my grandsons are now quite obsessed with it as well), I can pretty much quote it verbatim.  This quote reminds me that, as much as I hate to admit it, I may NOT be having a holly-jolly Christmas this year.    I LOVE Christmas.  Always have.   But despite myself, I keep letting my heart remember that in just a few weeks, my youngest son & his wife will be moving 700 miles away; and only six short months later, my middle son will also be moving away to parts unknown.     I know what you're thinking.....the same thing I keep telling myself...ENJOY THE MOMENT!   I'm trying!    I raised my kids with the mantra of following their bliss and becoming the men that their hearts desired to be.  I want them to be the very best version of themselves.   I constantly told them that they were the ONLY person who could stop them from achieving their dreams.  And believe me, I WANT them to be happy.   If being happy means moving out into the world and exploring their options, then that's exactly what I want them to do.      That being said, I just never envisioned my family being anything other than the typical family.  A family just like the one I grew up in.  I & all three of my siblings live within 15 minutes of my parents.  We all obediently provided my parents with a whole passel of beautiful grandchildren.   Family gatherings are full of cousins playing together & family frolicking.    

I guess that's how I have always envisioned my life too.   I figured, since I had my children young, I'd be a young grandmother with a station wagon (or it's modern-day, video laden, SUV equivalent) with 8 or 10 beautiful little bright-eyed cherubs, which my children would dutifully provided.  Just like a Hallmark movie, my sons would show up on Thanksgiving Day with their beautiful wives & pink-cheeked children in tow, dressed adorably, carrying a covered casserole.    Then we'd all say grace and discuss the wonderful things going on in their lives over dinner.  Stuff like, oh, I don't know..the new house they were building or their new book being released, or something equally as interesting.   We'd part company by promising to see one another the next Sunday at our regular Sunday family dinner.  You know, the regular family dinner for which they'd rather stick a needle in their eye than to miss, because they just love being around their family THAT much.   

Well, I'm here to tell you that life is NOT a Hallmark movie & my family is NOT the Hallmark family I'd envisioned.   In fact, I'd describe my family as more akin to the tv show, "Modern Family".   And even though I sometimes still daydream about that hallmark version of the family, I wouldn't trade the one I have for all the tea in china!   My family in a nutshell:

* I only have 2 grandchildren, and the prospects of have anymore, anytime soon, are somewhat dismal.   Don't get me wrong. My grandsons are the loves of my life!   They OWN my heart; and, they are so full of cuteness, I probably couldn't STAND it if they were any cuter!   I also have 3 grand-dogs, all of which I regularly see & dog-sit.  They love to come play with my 3 kid-dogs.  And, if you know me, you'd know that is almost as joyful! 

*There are no ideallic regular Sunday dinners.  In fact, I can BARELY get all of their feet under the same table at Thanksgiving.  Between everyone's busy schedules & in-laws, I seem to always be the one at the bottom of the list.    

*I do now have the 2 beautiful daughter-in-laws.   My middle son is gay, so hopefully someday I'll also have a handsome son-in-law, but for now, he's still looking. (Who knew I'd someday have a SON-in-law?-life sure is full of surprises!)   On the bright side, they DO bring covered casseroles upon request. 

My problem with this Christmas is that it's the last one for which all of my children will be living in the same state.   My middle son finishes his graduate degree in social work in May and plans to move out of state shortly thereafter.  My youngest son is reporting for duty to flight school in the United States Air Force in January, 2014, and will be serving for the next 10 years, at least, as a pilot & officer in the USAF.  In fact, we move he & my daughter-in-law to Oklahoma a few short weeks after Christmas.      My brain has known that these moves were coming, but the closer they get, the more my heart is just not prepared.  

What happened?   This is NOT the Hallmark Shotwell family that I'd always dreamed about!   But, after turning 51 this year, I've been thinking a lot lately about what my life will be about for the next 20 years.  What am I meant to do with this life?   I know that part of my purpose here (and by "here" I mean on this earth), was to raise my sons & help them become good people.  People who contribute good things to the world & help others.   But that's done now.   I know I didn't do a perfect job, but hopefully I had a hand in making them the awesome men they are today (and I'm not saying that about them just because I'm their momma.  If they were little butts, I'd tell you ;0).   I like to think that part of the reason they are all moving in the first place, is because of my encouragement to them to reach for their dreams.    I recently read a quote by Maria Shriver that really struck a nerve, "You have to be willing to let go of the life you planned in order to make the life you're meant to live."   That hits me square between the eyes!   So, this Christmas will not only be about giving gifts for me. It will also be a time for giving UP some old, worn-out, unrealistic dreams.   I'm letting GO of them. My plan this Christmas is to FULLY EMBRACE this crazy, wonderful, beautiful thing called MY FAMILY.   I LOVE the fact that I have 2 exceptionally loving adopted grandsons, 3 awesome grand-dogs, 3 sons who are all LSU graduates & who are each doing EXACTLY what they set out to do in their lives & careers, 2 beautiful daughter in laws who I adore, and of course my best friend & love of my life... my husband of over 30 years.   

I'm determined to look on the positive side.  I'll be doing a LOT of traveling in the coming months and years.   I LOVE to travel, so that'll work out great.     I'll BEG my children to strive to gather together at least ONCE a year, no matter what.    The hardest part of my dream to let go of is having a bunch of grandkids, but I steal every moment I can with the 2 I have & I've "adopted" some others that aren't mine in a legal sense.  I have to admit; however, that I  haven't given up on the idea of having at least ONE cute little granddaughter (preferably named "Abigail" after her adoring Doda)----WHAT?   A GIRL CAN DREAM!! 

I wish you & yours a very Merry Christmas, full of blessings, love & laughter!  

Take good care,


Here is a look at my beautiful family, sans my 3 grand-dogs & 3 kid-dogs:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Road Less Traveled

When Frost penned the words to his famous poem, I'm certain the "road less traveled" wasn't the context in which I write today.  That being said, I think the less traveled road can mean many things to many people.   I recently had an epiphany about a very important part of my life: that of being a mom.   Like many women, being a mother is THE most important part of my life.  It's the job I've worked harder at than any other.  It's also the job that I've probably screwed up the most.   Even so, at the end of my life,  at the very least, I hope my sons look back and realize that they were cherished.   I hope they realize that, although imperfect, my job as their momma was THE most precious thing to me.   Each of our children come with their own set of struggles and challenges.   Some more than others.    Out of my 3 sons, my middle son, Garrett, probably had the most uphill climb on his way from childhood to adulthood.   It just seems like he always had a roadblock in so many areas of his life.   Even so, from childhood epilepsy to dyslexia, he always seemed to rise above and find his way through it.    But it wasn't until adulthood that he finally faced down one of his biggest challenges in his life.   Garrett is a gay man.    I won't go into his story in detail.  That is HIS story to tell, not mine.  But as his mother, I'd like to share some of the things I learned about being his mom.    I won't pretend that it was an easy thing to process.   As parents, we tend to picture our children having a traditional adult life, including a spouse (generally someone of the opposite sex) and 2.5 children.   It wasn't until last weekend that I realized that I have not only processed Garrett's lifestyle, but have FULLY embraced it.     

We were attending an out of town wedding with Garrett and one of his best friends, Lauren.    On the way home from the wedding we were discussing marriage.  Garrett made a comment that struck me.   He said "I wish I weren't gay."    I'd actually heard him say this before, but not until that very moment did it really sink in.   He was being fully sincere.  Despite what I guess some folks believe, gay people don't CHOOSE to be that way.    It was one of those Oprah moments.   Immediately my mind asked myself "Do I wish he weren't gay?".    A year ago, I'm sure I would have answered YES!  I wish he weren't gay. While I'd accepted his life choices, I think deep down I was still carrying a bit of sadness for him.  Sadness for all the years that he kept this secret and the stress and fear that I know he carried around being unable to share with anyone.  I wish I would have been able to help carry that secret and take the burden off of him.  I look back at his adolescence and realize now that he struggled with happiness, in no small part due to this secret.   I also had sadness for prejudices that I know he encounters in this world.  No mother wants their child to be thought less of or encounter any hatred or bigotry.    I once had a friend tell me that their child being gay was one of their greatest fears.   Really?    Not them being a rapist, drug addict, murderer,  cheater, a bigot?    There are lots of bad things a person can be.  Being gay is NOT one of them.   But this attitude doesn't really surprise me.  There is much ignorance surrounding the gay culture and what it actually means to be gay.   Anyway...back to my "Aha" moment.     It wasn't until Garrett made that statement that I realized I'm actually HAPPY Garrett is EXACTLY the person he was born to be.   I wouldn't change him one bit!   For any of you who ever wondered or questioned whether a person is born gay, let me clear it up for you.   Garrett was BORN gay.  I raised 3 sons & I can promise you that Garrett was exactly who he is from the moment he drew his first breath.    I would NEVER try to push my belief system on anyone else.    Others are free to believe in any laws, rules, or sins they choose to.   But for me, I know that GOD has given me permission and  a directive to LOVE my children, UNCONDITIONALLY, just like He loves me.     Garrett has certainly taken the road less traveled and I, as his mother, have struggled at times because I can't remove all the bumps in that road.  But it's exactly those rough patches that have made him the man he is today.  That man is one of the bravest, strongest & most loving human beings I've had the privilege to know.    It's been my privilege to be his mom.     So I guess that makes me taking a road less traveled as well.   I'm the mom who is HAPPY that her son is gay &  HAPPY that he has the strength to live his life on purpose, and nobody is more surprised about it than I am. 

Monday, January 28, 2013


My family loves ANYTHING apple.  We love apples like Bubba Gump loves shrimp!   Apple pie, apple fritters, apple cake, apple dumplings....oh well, you get the picture. 

I found this quick recipe on Pinterest (in various forms).  This is the one I used & it was simply delish. I topped it off with some fresh vanilla ice cream I had made the night before in my new ice cream maker which my mom bought me for Christmas.    The hubs & my grandson, Eddie, literally were licking their bowls!!   


FAUX Apple Crepes. 
  Okay--here is the recipe:   Important part is to let them sit in the sauce for at least 45 mins: 

  • Faux Apple Crepes
1 pkg FLOUR tortillas
1 can apple pie filling
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
cinnamon to taste

Spray 9X11 pyrex dish with pam or butter... fill centers of approx 6-8 medium sized tortillas with apple filling (divide evenly)--sprinkle with cinnamon to taste & roll up, putting seam side down. Heat butter, both sugars & water on stove..bring to boil & simmer for 3 minutes. Pour OVER rolled up tortillas. LET SIT FOR AT LEAST 45 minutes. This softens the tortillas. Bake 350 degrees for 25 mins OR until slightly brown. SERVE while warm TOPPED with vanilla ice-cream.. YUMMY & DELISH. I actually make extra topping sometimes to scoop over ice-cream.


Take good care,