Friday, December 31, 2010

Only 359 Days Until Christmas 2011

Just posted a guest blog on A Baby Changes Everything.  Check it out!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Welcome Christmas – Past and Present

The Marshall’s are making merry, making memories, making messes and welcoming Christmas. A fun-filled week around here making sugary Christmas cookies with ALL six of the grands – ages 7 months to 13 years. Sometimes I wonder if my silly traditions are noticed, but when my almost 30 year old son reminds me we’re still using some of the same cookie cutters he used when he was a boy…now we’re still pulling them out for his three boys. Wow, they do notice!

Cookie-making steps: First, you get Poppy to show you how to do it. When that doesn’t work you get Mommy to show you.

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Then you decorate it…Christmas2010 (20)

bake it, show Daddy where it is, Christmas2010 (13)

and while it’s in the oven you raid your grandmother’s pantry ‘cause that’s where all the GOOD stuff is…

Now showing it to Ninny…and the best part eating and eating and eating… Christmas2010 (14)


and end it all with an up high ride from Aunt Jessy. Glad the kitchen ceiling is vaulted because Aunt Jessy’s six feet tall and this is up high!

A fun day making cookies and memories…new ones with the grands.

A special memory for me was over 30 years ago I made Santa cookies for my in-laws with their names on each one. You know, completely forgot I even did it. Didn’t know they were anything special and I especially didn’t think they were decorated that great. But they were made with love…apparently my MIL thought they were a treasure because when we moved her from Arkansas to live with us in Louisiana, look what we found in her freezer…

and inside were those not-so-special cookies I made so long ago. I guess they were more special than I imagined. So we moved them to Shreveport, kept them in our freezer, and on cookie day we bring them out to take a look at them.

This year my DIL Jessy took the same cookie cutter and made a pair of Santas for us…

and yes, they will proudly take their place next to the other two in the freezer.

On another note, we won 2nd place in the Christmas house decorating contest and here’s proof.

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Merry Christmas from Ninny and Poppy!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

More Tree Photos

Not much time to post because it’s WAY past my bedtime. Just wanted to post a few of the latest photos of trees I’ve personally decorated. I promise there will be more photos of my house in the next few days. Enjoy!


Friday, November 19, 2010

Little tree creations for my littles

I’ve had fun putting together these little white trees for some of the littles in my life.  The pink tree is for my first newborn granddaughter’s first Christmas and the penguin tree is for my grandson Devin who will be two in March.  The penguins light up and play jingle bells. So cute.

Today I’m off to decorate another house and hopefully work on some more little trees…I have a list and I’m checking it twice to make sure I get them all done.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead

Well, I’m not officially dead, but today’s tree decorating did get a little crazy. The client’s tree was especially wobbly after being partially decorated and the only way to fix the problem was to do a controlled fall.  That is we laid the tree on its side, fully decorated on purpose so I could fix the stand. It turns out the tree pole was not all the way down into the stand and had been partially screwed in enough to hold it in the wrong place.

We took the opportunity to make a fun photo op – thinking about the Wizard of Oz and how Dorothy’s house fell on the witch.  If only I had on ruby slippers and striped socks, it would have looked better. But I had on Nike tennis shoes and white socks.Smithwick 2010 (1)WARNING:  DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!  Remember, we are professionals and this controlled tree fall should only be done as a last resort.

There was a happy ending – tree stand securely fixed, tree positioned upright, only a few non-essential ornaments broken, and in the end the tree was beautiful.  Here are the photos from today’s tree fun.

Glittery Glimpses

Much too busy with untangling tinsel, decking the halls, taking way too many Tylenol Arthritis pain formula, long days and late nights…you get the picture.  So all you’re going to get is a little glimpse of the holiday sparkle created over the past week.

Yesterday we had a new friend helping us named Beau. Of course he’s a Louisiana puppy. All he needed was a big red bow!

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

There’s Snowplace Like Home

Not much time to post because it’s so late and I have to be up in a few hours to hit the road again decorating more trees.  But I wanted to post a few pixs of my snowman tree.  It’s the first time I’ve changed it from what I normally do with reds and golds.  I was ready for something whimsical and fun for my grandkids and the kid in me.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

So glad I didn’t wash my hair!

Today is my sweet husband’s birthday. So happy birthday to the love of my life. Stay with me….getting to the hair part.

If I said he’s my EVERYTHING, I would not be exaggerating. Who knew so many years ago when I first met him it would be the one I end up spending my life with, sharing memories with, raising children and grandchildren with.  I certainly didn’t know. I actually thought he was annoying.  So let me explain our love story and then you will know why.

It was the summer of 1972 after my senior year in high school. Those summer days were spent on our houseboat on Caddo Lake. I had just gotten in from the lake so I had “lake” hair – dirty from being in the water. My hair was long and thick, straight, parted down the middle, you get the picture.David daydreaming It was the 70’s.

David was dating a girl I went to high school with. They both worked summer jobs where their fathers worked and that’s how they met.  Nancy Alexander, where the heck are you now?  Anyway, Nancy begged me to go with her to the company family skate night at a local skating rink.  Yeah, I know….skating is so lame when you’re out of high school. My excuse for not wanting to go was my hair was dirty – must stay home and wash my hair. Nancy was relentless so off I go to the skating rink. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…….

All I could think about when I got there was how quick I could leave. Didn’t know anyone except Nancy who was flitting around enjoying herself with all her work buddies. Then it happened. Nancy introduced me to David and one of his other work friends who had figured out a way to endure skate night with fellow employees – go to a bar before you go.  Let me just say I was not at all impressed. David thought he was so cute flirting with me, skating up behind and tapping me on the opposite shoulder so I would turn around the wrong way. How stupid and childish. Really?

Now here’s the part where I get stuck with my future husband. Nancy decides she wants to take a joy ride in someone’s Thunderbird which leaves me stranded. So sweet little David offered to give me a ride home.  Thankfully, he had sobered up by then and off we go.  He thought he was so cool, college guy, a guy with a brand new Montego, as in he had only had it a few days. After we pulled up in my driveway, he asked me to go on a date that next Friday.  I can’t believe I said yes, dirty hair and all, but I said yes. I got half way to my front door and realized I didn’t even know his last name. So I turned around, tapped on his car window, and said, “I don’t know your last name”, to which he replied, “That’s okay. I don’t know your’s either.”  Little did I realize his last name would one day be my last name.

Mora Lou Scan Job0001Happy birthday, love.  So glad you were the one for me. So happy to be your wife for the past 37 years. Thankful I didn’t wash my hair. 


Monday, October 11, 2010

What Matters

It’s been a while since my last post about Disney and now I realize the summer has been left behind. I had good intentions to do another Disney post with a wonderful giveaway….it just didn’t happen. Does it matter? Not really.

My husband and I took a 7-day cruise to Jamaica, Cozumel and the Cayman Islands. It was a wonderful restful week. Wouldn’t it be great if I posted about our trip?  Maybe, but I think this post should be about something that really matters.

School is back in full swing for the grands. I could post photos of my 5 yr. old grandson’s first day of school and his first school bus ride.  That would be fun to talk about and share. And while this big event was important to our family, I’ll save it for another time.

All my Fall and Thanksgiving decor is everywhere in my home, inside and out. You could see great pictures of my wreaths covered in beautiful autumn colors. I love this time of year and would be excited more to share it with my followers.  But I’m going to wait on that one as well.

You see the truth is my focus has not been on the things that many times consume my world….not necessarily bad things, but things that occupy my thoughts. That’s all changed.  Let me tell you what really matters to me now.

  • It matters that a little over a week ago my dear friend Teresa’s husband Jack suffered a stroke while out of town.  If you haven’t already been following Teresa’s journey on her blog, I encourage you to sit down with a cup of coffee, a box of tissue and read how her world changed in an instant. The fear and uncertainty for all that happened, and now the next phase of rehab and learning to somehow do all the many things Jack did every day for so many.  We’ve all got some big shoes to fill until he’s back in action.  But what a miracle he is!
  • For the past couple of weeks my 89 yr. old mother-in-law’s health has continued to spiral down.  She’s weak, not eating, sometimes not very responsive.  But what matters is how my three sons and their wives have pulled in close to us to walk through this sadness with us. I’m overwhelmed how my boys have shown us as parents that they get what family is all about.  It matters they are taking time out of their schedules to visit her in the nursing home, to cheer her up with flowers or kisses from the great-grandchildren. It matters I think more than any of us realize. Yes, it really matters for us to hear the encouraging words from our kids telling us we have their love, their support, and how much they are depending on our strength in the days ahead. You bet it matters.
  • Not only is my oldest son seeing his grandmother so frail, so sick, and possibly facing death soon, but his wife’s grandmother as well is now home with hospice just waiting to die.  Stage 4 cancer, and many other problems too numerous to mention. The bottom line is she’s dying. It’s just a matter of when.  So they wait and try to come to terms as a young married couple with two little ones to care for – how will they both grieve losing their grandmothers so close together?
  • It matters very much to me that my sister Cindy survived extremely high blood pressure yesterday – we’re talking 200+ over 140+.  After a trip to the emergency room, numerous tests and lab work, she left with a prescription for blood pressure medication (which I also have to take) and will be just fine.

What matters to you today?  Are you upset because someone said something very hurtful to you?  Do you feel life is not treating you fair? Are you depressed because you can’t get that last 10 lbs. off before Christmas? Hey, don’t get crazy on me – I’m talking to myself. Now I realize none of that really matters in the big scheme of things that do matter.  I’m thankful, prayerful, humbled by all that has happened in recent days and keenly aware how God has shown me how much we all matter to him. Let’s don’t forget.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Disney Diary

It’s been a busy summer so I’m just now getting around to my much awaited Disney post (if your name is Teresa, she’s the only one who has been waiting). In the next few days I will do a shorter post with my best tips and ideas for a Disney trip and hopefully my first give away. I’ve got to find out from the giveaway Queen Teresa how to do it and come up with a super prize. So look for the next post with tips and a giveaway.

First let me say, the trip was a success largely because of our very knowledgeable Disney travel planner, Tammy Ewert. I love what Teresa had to say about her – all very true – so check it out. Tammy sent us a 30 page itinerary of what we were doing each day, which park to visit, all of our meal reservations and numbers. She gave us hints on things to avoid, things to do, and suggestions for things you cannot find in a travel book. A big thank you to Tammy!

I couldn’t imagine trying to keep up with all the info Tammy sent to us so I decided to make a handy little travel flip book. I bought an Oxford flip binder at Target. Oxford flip binderI had to get two so I would have enough cards and I also found bigger ring holders to hold more cards. It was the perfect size (4 X 6) to carry in my fanny pack every day for reference. All I did was cut out and paste the info from Tammy’s itinerary into my little flip book. Magic!

There was a tabbed section for each day with ALL our important details. P1050293So handy I will probably do this for other trips. Since it was a Disney trip I found some cute stickers to dress it up just for fun.

On the back I wrote down our Schedule at a Glance – so glad I did this because it was handy to reference for the many, many, and did I say many times the boys asked me where we were going tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day.P1050285 The flip book had this little plastic pocket pouch which was an added bonus.

Complete Walt Disney World 2010

I also bought The Complete Walt Disney World 2010 book – great reference and it was easy to take every day.

Day 1 – Saturday

P1040978We had VERY EARLY flights – like 6:00 am that morning. The plan was to have at least a partial day at WDW. No problems getting there on time because who can sleep when you’re leaving to go see the Mouse? My youngest grandson Alex had never flown before so he couldn’t wait – so anxious, so very curious. I loved seeing the anticipation in his eyes. He didn’t want to miss getting on board so he stood by the stairs ready to beat the crowd. P1040984Then we must talk to the backup pilot to make sure he knows the way to Disney. And he did.

P1040986Alex before take off – can barely stand it. After take off, this must be what heaven looks and feels like. (I love the cow lick!)P1040991






Me and WoodyShhhhh, the early morning flight finally took it’s toll. Woody needs his rest to play with Mickey later.

After we arrived at the airport, my husband decided to pull out his Disney surprise – yes, walking down the terminal with his vintage Donald Duck hat. P1040995That’s hubby and our son Jared.Disney006We kept this hat from a trip to Disney when my youngest son was 4 yrs. old. (That’s Colin almost 20 yrs. ago hiding under his duck hat at the airport.) Same airport, same hat, same childlike pose. Still had it and guess who packed it in his carry own luggage to share with the world. My hubby makes me laugh and this is just one example of how he does it.

Our first day was at Magic Kingdom. We ate at the Crystal Palace with many of the characters.P1040999 Here’s Chance, Will and Alex enjoying food and Pooh! (ew, that sounds kinda yucky at the moment).

P1050006Favorites at Magic Kingdom

  • Jungle Cruise (Alex was an excellent driver) P1050026
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (I even did this one.)
  • It’s a Small World, Dumbo, Mad Tea Party
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (LOVE LOVE LOVE)
  • Older kids loved Splash Mountain and Space Mountain
  • SpectroMagic Parade a must see
  • Wishes Fireworks

AVOID – DON’T DO IT – Stitch’s Great Escape (trust me)

We had a magical first day and ended with the Wishes Fireworks Dessert Party – yummy desserts and special reserved seating for the fireworks show. No one had trouble falling asleep the first night – even if we weren’t in our own beds.

Day 2 – Sunday

Today was Hollywood Studios. Alex and toy soldier Lunch was at Mama Melrose’s where we got fast-pass seating for the Fantasmic light show for later. Great food, plenty of it, and the boys all loved it there.

Favorites at Hollywood Studios

  • Toy Story Mania (make this first on your list)
  • Star Tours
  • Indiana Jones
  • Older kids loved Tower of Terror (not for me and hubby), Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (again not me and hubby)
  • Fantasmic – wonderful musical light show

AVOID – Journey into Narnia which is just a glorified movie trailer.

Day 3 – Monday

Today was Epcot.P1050063 The older boys were not so thrilled about the Epcot day until they discovered it had some pretty cool things to do. Walking through the countries would have to wait until another day. We started off with Test Track, enjoyed Soarin’ and had a wonderful lunch at the Coral Reef. Here’s Alex cooling off at the Test Track entrance. It was so unbearably hot while we were there, and rainy most days at some point. So getting wet was not a problem – whether from Disney or Mother Nature.

Favorites at Epcot

  • Soarin’ (you have to do this one maybe more than once)
  • Test Track
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Turtle Talk with Crush – this was so much fun!
  • Older kids loved Mission Space and wanted to do it over and over (not me).
  • Illuminations Fireworks show – a must see!

AVOID – Not much to avoid here but I do recommend two days at Epcot. It takes an entire day to walk through the countries.

Day 4 – Tuesday

Today was Animal Kingdom. Okay, I’m admitting something – we DID NOT DO ANIMAL KINGDOM VERY WELL! We weren’t the family you see early at the parks for rope drop. We were all still “dropping” from the day before so we got there when we got there. There was some time to wait for the thrill rides like Expedition Everest. So we missed a lot of the attractions, shows, exhibits, but it was a fun day. P1050068

The three boys, Chance, Will and Alex drumming it up at Animal Kingdom.


Got wet on the Kali River Rapids – but I was prepared with rain gear for those who needed it. Here’s (left to right) Alex, Will, Chance, Jared and Chasta – all wet from the ride and loving it!


The animals we saw were beautiful. Some scary and I was glad they were behind glass.P1050091 Animal Kingdom paradeMickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade was so much fun!

Favorites at Animal Kingdom

  • Pangani Forest Exploration Trail
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris Ride
  • Kali River Rapids (take rain gear)
  • Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade
  • Older kids loved Expedition Everest (long wait)

AVOID – The only thing I say to avoid here is AVOID GETTING HERE LATE. We had a short day because of an early dinner reservation at the Polynesian Resort, but it was so worth it. The food at the Polynesian Resort was to die for – as in it could have been my last meal ever! P1050118Will’s not sure where the flowers go. All three boys, Alex, Chance, Will enjoying their dinner. P1050119

Day 5 – Wednesday

P1050133Today was our second Magic Kingdom day. On our way to the shuttle, we saw an airplane spelling out “JESUS” in the sky. A great reminder the name above all names is “J-E-S-U-S” and not “M-I-C-K-E-Y”. P1050131

So today we were able to do things we didn’t get done the first day – Dumbo’s Flying Elephant, of course.P1050135 The older boys weren’t thrilled about this one.

One of the few pictures I have of me on the trip since I was the one with the camera. Me and Alex on the Dumbo ride. It was worth the 30 minute wait for this picture.

P1050138Our evening meal was at Whispering Canyon Cafe in the Wilderness Lodge. This was a crazy meal – good food and some seriously nutty antics from the wait staff. Hint: Please do not ask for ketchup. The kids had fun with their wooden horse stick race.

Day 6 – Thursday

Today we went back to Hollywood Studios. More of the same for the older guys: Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, thrill city, you get the picture. But we weren’t able to stay long – again, not a “rope drop” kinda family. Short day and dinner plans at Downtown Disney at Wolfgang Puck’s.P1050147







Atmosphere was good, food okay, but the wait staff there was not too happy about being in the Disney meal plan. Downtown Disney was fun, but we were all pretty tired so there was not much shopping.

Day 7 – Friday

P1050122Today we went back to Epcot to walk through the countries. Again, older boys not too happy. But in spite of postponing their thrill ride plans, we enjoyed our time there. Glass blowing, Chinese acrobats, lots to look at and take in. P1050178


A visit to Mexico, China and Italy all in one day.

Epcot CollageDinner was at the Garden Grill at Epcot. Again, yummy food in a rotating restaurant with some of our favorite characters.P1050185 P1050190 P1050194 Poppy and his friends.WDW150

Day 8 – Saturday

Today Jared, Chasta and the three boys traveled back home. David and I arranged to stay a couple of extra days to rest from the demanding park schedules. After we sent the kids on their way, we ventured out and took our time prowling around Magic Kingdom. No agenda, no plans, no one but me and my love. Our dinner was at the California Grill on top of the Contemporary Resort. This was another memorable meal – delicious food, high-end atmosphere, and we had a window table view for the Wishes Fireworks display.

The restaurant plays the music in the restaurant for the fireworks show so it feels like you’re right there – only you’re sitting at a beautiful table with Mickey glitter sprinkles, white table cloths, and a wait staff serving you divine food.WDW161

A topiary Mickey welcomed us to the Contemporary Resort. One of my all-time favorite days.

Day 9 – Sunday

Just the two of us now – late getting up, slow to get started, precious time together. We went to Epcot to ride Soarin’ again. P1050202

We took the Behind the Seeds tour at The Land. It was an interesting look at the greenhouses and horticultural experiments done there on the property as part of the Epcot Science Project. I was able to release some lady bugs into the greenhouse and we tasted some of the veggies. Most of them grow very large in all shapes and in very strange ways. P1050205

One tomato plant was listed in the Guinness World Records for yielding the most tomatoes from a single plant weighing a total of 1,151.84 lbs.P1050209 Pumpkins hang from wire and some are even shaped like Mickey Mouse himself. They put the young pumpkin in this mold and let it conform to the final mouse ear shape. Very cool. P1050210


Our evening meal was at the Disney Boardwalk at a new Greek restaurant Kouzinna @ Cat Corra. I think we must have ordered the wrong things because neither of us really liked the food. But that’s okay – I’m at Disney and there’s not a whole lot to complain about when you’re at the happiest place in the world.

P1050225 Sunday night we had the ultimate experience. Our own PRIVATE – as we were the only ones on it – 24 ft. party barge for a fireworks cruise.

Our Captain Sue took us around the properties via the water canals and then ended up at Epcot for the Illuminations fireworks. Up close and personal. So close we could feel the heat from the flames. Sue had small children and worked part-time on the cruise. She graduated from Texas A&M like my hubby so they had lots to talk about. Her husband worked for as a horticulturalist for a company that supplies Disney with all their plants and landscaping. Now that’s a big job! The grounds are all breathtaking and well-groomed.

The fireworks cruise was the most amazing way to end the day. I will never forget it. Thanks to my wonderful husband he’s created another memory for us.

Day 10 – Monday

Our last Disney Day. We didn’t do much of anything early, but just a little packing, laundry, getting ready to leave the next day. We had seen and done most everything we wanted to or felt like doing. Our evening meal was at Narcoose’s at the Grand Floridian Resort. So we saved a little time before our reservation to explore the resort. I would love to stay at this resort. It is nothing like I’ve ever seen. P1050240

P1050244Beautiful ceilings, massive architecture, exquisite P1050243furnishings… it’s all there. We just sat in the lobby listening to a man playing the piano, soaking it all in.

Our dinner at Narcoose’s was perfect. Food was fantastic – atmosphere and view outstanding. And the dessert, well, I’ll let you decide for yourself.


We ended the day at Magic Kingdom, just one last walk through and a sweetheart ride on the Mad Tea Cup. WDW210WDW212

Day 11 – Tuesday

It’s over, the end, time to go home. We were ready to get back. I know this is the longest post I’ve ever done – probably will be one of the few I will do this long because it has taken me forever it seems. But it’s all here, as much as I can remember. Thanks Mickey for inviting us to play with you for a while and for showing our friend Tammy how to plan the perfect Disney experience. And thanks most of all to Jared, Chasta and the boys for the precious memories. And my bestest most sincere thanks and love to my husband for making this all possible. Just so you know, I’m available to travel anytime any place.