Saturday, February 28, 2015

Julie Chicken

My Mother always cooked – always.  We would go out to eat occasionally but for the most part my Mom always cooked.  After I was married and would come home she would cook one of her terrific meals – all the time.  All three of us Light children have our favorites – Allen loved her peanut butter fudge, Larry liked the hot dogs, and I love her yankee pot roast..and we ALL loved her cabbage rolls and HATED her beef stew! 

I get it. 

Nothing gives me greater pleasure then to see my little hares and my big hare enjoying a meal I cooked.  I am always looking for new recipes to try out on my family, they are usually game to try something new.

When my Mother passed away my sister-in-law Leelee and my Momma Nancy made sure my family had plenty to eat and drink.  So much so we ended up donating some it and throwing the rest away.  Then when my Daddy died 10 months later Leelee and Nancy were ready to fix us up again but I declined the offer.  Everyone was going home after the funeral and it would just be my family.  My sweet friend Julie Sims called Randy and wanted to bring food, Randy told her that I said it would not be necessary.  I am so glad NO ONE listens to me because Randy would later text Julie and said YES – bring some food.

Julie and her beautiful daughters brought us a wonderful homemade meal.  I didn’t realize how hungry I was, grief will apparently make you forget to eat, it was such a great meal.  Especially the chicken.  Later that night I would call to thank Julie and ask her for the recipe for the chicken dish.  I finally got the recipe for Chicken Marbella and made it two weeks ago for the first time.  Randy loves it so much he wants it at least once a week.  We don’t call it Chicken Marbella – it’s Julie Chicken in our house.

I would have NEVER tried this recipe on my own.  It has both green and black olives, red wine vinegar, white wine and…prunes – all together!  It is so yummy.  If you want to try something new I highly encourage you to try Julie Chicken Marbella.


· 6 – 8 Chicken Breasts

· ½ Tbsp of garlic, peeled and finely puréed

· Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

· 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

· 1/4 cup olive oil

· 1 cup pitted prunes

· 1 jar of pitted Spanish green olives, cut in half

· 2 cans of sliced black olives

· 1/4 cup capers with a bit of juice

· 3 bay leaves

· 1/4 cup brown sugar

· 1/2 cup white wine

· 2 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped


1 In a large bowl combine garlic, salt and pepper to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, both olives, and capers with caper juice. Add the chicken pieces and coat completely with the marinade. (I use my large glass Pyrex casserole with lid) Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight – 48 hours is the best!

2 Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle brown sugar over the chicken pieces and pour white wine around them.

3 Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with the pan juices (I don’t do this – I ignore it!). Chicken is done when a sharp knife inserted into the thigh pieces, at their thickest point, run with clear yellow juices (not pink). The last ten minutes I change the oven the broil so the brown sugar adds a crisp to the chicken.

4 With a slotted spoon, move the chicken, prunes, olives, and capers to a serving platter. Pour some of the pan juices over the chicken and sprinkle generously with parsley. Serve remaining juices in a gravy boat.

Serve it over Uncle Ben’s wild long grain rice!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Can the Circle Be Broken?

Dear Mom –

It’s hard to believe you have been gone one year today. I still think of you every day especially at 9:00am. blog 018I have picked up the phone to call you at least 100 times. I wanted some advice, a pep talk, for you to tell me everything would be alright, or just for you to agree with me. You would be so happy to know that Donna Sue & I are the very best of friends. She has been like a Momma/best friend/favorite cousin all rolled into one. We talk at least 2-3 times a week. She has helped me so much - I knew losing you would be hard but not this hard.  Hard for so many reasons.

I didn’t really grieve after you died. I was still on medicine from my aneurysm that numbed my emotions and I had to go into “take care of Dad mode”. I have actually been really...I mean REALLY mad at you. For the last two years you just let your health go. You blamed it on Dad but it was your fault. You’re the one that decided not eat. You’re the one who was stubborn. You’re the one that wouldn’t stop smoking. You’re the one who would not take the medicine. You’re the one who would not slow down. You’re the one who would check out of the hospital even though the doctors would beg you not too. None of this was Dad’s fault. None of this was my fault, or Allen’s fault, or Larry – you are the one that made these awful decisions and poor choices.

For years we have been waiting for Dad to die, at least the last seven years we have been anticipating it. He was the one that took 20 different pills and had all the “health” issues. blog 001It made me mad that you died first! You were so so so very mean to my Daddy, said such awful stuff, and wanted him to die so “your burden” would be lifted. Yet the burden fell on my Daddy and then me. I hope you now know how much your husband truly loved you. I watched my Daddy die a slow, painful, and sad death. He missed you so much and ached for you every day he was lost without you. He stopped eating, reading the newspapers, or playing on the computer. All he would do was sit in the blue recliner. Sometimes he would watch TV but most of the time would just sit in the silence and weep for you. And you thought he didn’t love or care for you. He was lost. I tried my best to fill his void but I should’ve buried him the day I buried you. I would bring him to the house almost every night for dinner and we would play rummy but he stayed confused most of the time. By August he stopped taking a bath and really messed up his medication. He would tell me every day how much he loved me and missed you. And I learned so much about my Daddy that ten months but I also watched him die a little each day and his memory get worse day by day. He finally stopped going to the cemetery – it was just too hard. The day before his death his told the doctor you died last month, I didn’t have the heart to tell him it had been 10 months. He thought John was 10 years old and well he just wanted to kiss on Christina. The last week of his life he couldn’t walk. He back was bend and he was unable to stand up straight. Something told me the end was near. Then seeing and finding my Daddy dead is an imagine forever burned in my memory.

But today is about you. 

Am not mad anymore. 

I am grieving your death and the death of my Daddy.  As my doctor said “I am now an orphan”.  Am sad.

I miss you.  I miss the healthy, fun, and loving Mother I had.  The Mother that loved life and 008(Dang Mom – you look really good here!  You had to be about 45!)

You were a great Mother on so many levels.  You always looked out for me and loved me.  And rescued me. And let me have the better 012I called you one night in tears to tell you that Robert proposed marriage to me..”what do I do?”  Your best advice – “honey if you have to call your Momma for the answer then you already know the answer!”  That was pretty dang smart Mommy!blog 002I love how you loved your sisters.  Especially this one.  You both acted the same laughed the same and talk the same.  That’s why it is impossible for me to call her now.  She sounds just like 004Am sorry you had a tough childhood.  Am so sorry that you never felt love from your Mother.  I am trying to be a better Mother because of 003You were a great MaMa to all your babies.  Christina seems to miss you most.  Laying in bed at night she will tell me she misses you.  I tell her that I miss you too.  Thanks for all the fancy dresses you bought her.  I have them hanging in her closest – still.  Thank you for all the fancy dresses you bought and saved for me.  Stina likes to play dress up and twirl around in the dresses.iphone 035Thank you for the advice in 2006.  You told me “go back to Amarillo and MAKE my marriage work!”  I had a different plan Mom but your advice was 019You were always looking out for me and going on school trips with me.  Especially when I was State Officer in FHA.  I have a daughter now…I understand why you went with 010I was 5 months pregnant with John and the sonogram results were not good.  I called you in tears.  I was a complete wreck.  The doctor told me half of John’s brain was missing and his heart was not developed right.  You kept reassuring me John was fine and stop crying cause John could hear me cry!  You would call me on your cellphone later that afternoon and tell me to come out in front of my house.  There you were walking up my sidewalk with a freshly baked Pineapple Upside cake.  I started to cry and you stop me and said take this and go inside.  Then you left.  It was one of the most loving things you did for me Mommy.IMG_0026Thank you for supporting & loving me even when you didn’t understand or agree with my 011I miss you Gertie.  I miss your hair.  I miss your smell.  I miss you digging in your purse.  I miss you calling to tell a story I had already heard 500 times.  I miss you.  I miss your laugh, I miss you.  I will always remember February 21st 005This next picture of you in my all time favorite picture you.  You had finally quit smoking!  You gained 25 pounds overnight and looked so good.  I wonder what might have happened if you didn’t start smoking 021Mom – no one can replace you.  I was yours from the beginning.  I pray you are fully healed.  I pray that you are with the people you missed the most.  Hug Daddy for me.

blog 020

And yes Mom…the circle has been broken.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Top Ten

Last night three of my closest friends and I had a Mommy’s Night Out.  What a fun time we had…even if I was the oldest in our group??!  We laughed, learned new stuff about each other, giggled, ate great Mexican food, sang some Steve Miller songs, had a few beers, shared lots of teen-age girl moments and had one  two large Mojitos. iphone 032 I had forgot how good “girlfriend bonding” could be.  At the end of the night we already planned our next fun time…mail your check today Melody!

As the conversation turned from “none of us read that 50 shades of whatever, the pain of losing parents, moving to Wyoming instead of Hawaii (thanks US government!), what are you doing for Valentines, and why can’t my child just SIT in a seat, I then asked them what was their top ten moments in life.


Silly girls…the elbow to somebody’s deserving nose was not what I was looking for but you know what – he deserved it – so put it on your Top Ten list! 

At the age of almost 43 here is my Top Ten Moments!

#10.  In the fall of 1990 my oldest brother had to go to Corpus Christi on business and took me with him.  I was 18, just graduated high school, and starting college.  It was the best trip.  Allen bought me lots of clothes (including a London Fog trench coat that I still refuse to get rid of!), he introduced me for the first time to a place called Olive Garden, taught me what an ATM was, and showed me how to correctly eat a raw oyster.  Wonderful trip.

#9.  DisneyWorld.  I was 14 but it was still magical and a ton of fun.  Great memories!

#8.  January 1989 my brother Larry bought me and three of my closest friends tickets to see Bon Jovi in Dallas…then took us!  We got to skip school and had a great time!

#7.  My work at the Crisis Pregnancy Center.  Especially when a client was 100% abortion minded until she seen the sonogram of her child growing in her womb.  Best.

#6.  My parents bought me a new car.

#5.  A very spontaneous trip to Dallas to see the Eagles in concert with Christin July 3, 1994 in Dallas.

#4.  The birth of both my little hares.

#3.  The day Randy asked me to marry him.

#2.   The events of 2013.

#1.  Coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and making Him my Savior and King in my life.

So I challenge YOU to think, pray and remember your Top Ten Moments.  Not the Top Ten Saddest, or Embarrassing, or Regrets – favorite memories!!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Happy Birthday Christina

On 1-11-11 at almost 1:11pm my baby girl gave her first scream in this world.  Her birth was just like her big brother’s birth experience except tears of fear ran down my cheek instead of tears of joy.  You see my girl had been diagnosed with the possibly of an extra chromosome.  

But…when Dr. Ashby pulled her out from my open stomach and she let out her that first scream nothing else mattered.  She could have had three eyes and twelve toes – I was her Momma  and she was my baby.  The magic that God does when He knits that baby together in the womb is truly one of the greatest miracles – life is truly a miracle.  She was perfect.  All ten fingers and toes, a perfect button nose, and got the nickname “Little Bit” immediately.   Her big brother weighed 10lbs 11oz, Little Bit weighted 9lbs 11oz…she was a “little bit” smaller than Bubby.  She was a little jaundice when she came home so she got to sun bathe every afternoon.IMG_7305Bubby was really unsure about this baby girl called sister and was shy at the hospital.  But the day we brought her home Bubby immediately went to his train set and got Lady a tiny pink train to give to her.  It was a sweet family moment.IMG_7435John fell head over heels in love with his sister.  It was really precious.  I told The Lord I wanted these two close as brothers and to always have each others back and they do.babies I bonded quickly to my smallest hare.  I went around the first three months telling everybody “I was in love with a girl!”babiesIt took Randy a few months to connect with her but when his eyes finally met her eyes it was love.  I was able to catch this precious moment.IMG_7940

IMG_8328My Mom (God rest her soul) was so mad that I named her Christina Berenice.  Mom thought her name should have been Mary-Katherine!  But I didn’t like the name Mary Hare…plus there was no “family history” of Mary and Mary means bitter.  Then there was this discussion between me and Randy…if I we ever had a baby after John Randall (which I picked) Randy would get to name the second one.  We had a hard time.  Then one afternoon Randy said “Christina Berenice”.  Chris – after his sister Christi, Tina – after me, and Berenice after his late Mother.  IMG_7444With tears streaming down his cheek he said he wanted to name after the three most important women in his life his mother, his sister, and his wife.  So how could I argue this?!?  And I loved it.  It didn’t take long for My Mom to fall in love with her first Grand-Daughter.  She sort of got over the name but she would tell everyone that Christina’s blue eyes were her blue eyes!  My Dad…well – he just didn’t want anything to do with her! IMG_7930 Seriously…   He would not hold her or pay her any attention.  I finally asked Dad – “what was going on?”  And he said “he didn’t want John to be jealous!”  I told him that would not work…he had to love Christina as much as he loved John.  And…he did.

As Randy and I talked about out favorite Christina moments so far we had about 4,908,000 memories but our most favorite  was when Randy brought her to see me after my surgery in 2013.  We were in Dallas 4 weeks without seeing our little hares.  Randy would Facetime with them almost everyday but when we got back Christina was actually scared of Randy and it took her several minutes to “warm” up to him.  Randy had great trepidation bring her to see me at the hospital in fear she would have the same reaction to me as she had to him.  I was in rehab and had no IV’s or any other medical machines attached to me.  It had been over 45 days since I had seen my babies…I was in pain to actually see them.  So Randy brought them.  John ran in the room hugged and kissed me and was amazed by the room but Christina….she looked at me laying in that hospital bed and said…”MOMMY”.  It was a long MMMOOOMMMYYYYYY.  As if she was asking me where have you been, I have been looking for you, and she couldn’t get to me fast enough.  She crawled on the bed and laid across my chest for the best 16 minutes of my life.IMG_4568She is my spit-fire.  She is a spirited little girl!  If you know her…you love her.  She is funny and cracks John up almost everyday.iphone 013My best friend’s Mother told me once that “her son was her pride and joy but her heart ached for her daughter’.”  And I could not agree more!



iphone 003


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It makes me sad that my baby is growing up.  She would gladly be my baby again.  I ask her all the time if I can put a diaper on her, give her a bottle of milk, and rock her to sleep and she says YES – MOMMY I will always be your baby!!

So…I love you forever…I like you for always…as long as am living my baby you’ll be.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


When Mom passed away a sweet friend sent me a card and told me to expect the “waves”.  Her Mother unexpectedly passed away suddenly a few years ago – she understood what it meant to lose a Mother and grief in general. 

Grief is like waves in an ocean.  Your sitting by the  ocean, it’s a beautiful day, everything is going smoothly that BAM…out of nowhere a grief wave crashes into you and pulls you under.  No warning.  And can happen at the strangest times and the most inappropriate places.  I get up, pull my swimsuit from out of my butt, re-adjust everything and carry on.


I know.  I should just move on.  My parents both had full lives. They are not in pain anymore, suffering, or lonely.  But I still just miss my parents. 

It’s been a tough week.  My Mom’s birthday was the other day – she would have been 80.  I took her blue flowers…I knew she would have hated them but my Daddy would have liked them.  As I chuckle under my breath.scan0026My Daddy’s death certificate came today.  That’s like the final good-bye in away.  The bank has a “hold” on his account because they have been notified of his death but there are still some checks floating out there.  I have to get up early in the morning to get the death certificate to the bank so they can unfreeze the account…that could be a mess.  I have had major issues with the funeral home messing up my Daddy’s birthday, charging me $250.00 for an obituary that was never posted and…well – there it is…another wave of grief.

It’s hardest at 9:00am and 10:00pm.  I would always call Mom in the morning and Daddy at night…of course I would talk to them or see them during the day but I was always checking on them.

March is my magic month. 

If I can just make it to March. 

I have Christina’s 4th birthday this weekend, Ashley’s 21st birthday next weekend, then my birthday and then the one year anniversary of my Mother’s passing.

Spring will be here.

And hopefully I won’t be setting so close to the ocean.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Ease His Pain…

We always knew Dad would be the first to die instead of Gertie.  photoDad had everything from diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, unnatural rhythm in his heart, prostate cancer, and the beginning of dementia.  For crying out loud he took over 20 different medicines a day to keep him alive!  All Gertie had was a thyroid issues, COPD, and emphysema – the last two she would not admit too.  Dad had a major heart attack in 2009.  The VA doctors in Albuquerque, NM told me to expect him to live maybe 1-2 years.  His arteries were so hard the doctors said “they are like cement”.  There was nothing they could do, no by-pass, stints, or any new procedure all they could do would be to open it up the arteries to 70%, put him on a blood thinner (which is a complete nightmare), and sent him home to die.  That was a hard day to hear that news. You never want a doctor to say “that’s all I can do.”IMG_0319  I went back to my hotel room and cried out to the Lord.  I begged the Lord to please let my Daddy live until John was 7.  Looking back I don’t know why I chose 7 but I really wanted John to have great memories of his PawPaw.  I never had Grandparents.  All of them except one was dead by the time I came around.  So the bonding of my Daddy and my son would become even closer.


PawPaw would never let me discipline John.  That was his boy.  Randy and I would later come up with the nickname Bub or Bubby and coincidently  that was my Dad’s nickname from his parents.


But even his love for Bubby and then Christina would never compare to the love he had for my Mother.  As Mom aged and Alzheimer's was began to rear it’s ugly head she began to be very mean, angry and very hateful to my Father.  It would tear my heart out to see her say and do mean things to him.  I could handle it towards myself but not at my Daddy.  One of the last doctor’s appointment I went on with Mom she started knocking my Dad down so I just excused myself from the room.  She would later ask why I did that and I told her that I just couldn’t take her running my Daddy down anymore.  I would be alone at the VA with my Daddy and ask him if he needed to vent, that I was there for him.  Mom was just being so mean and such a bitch!  He looked at me cross-ways and said  - “shut your damn mouth!  She was my girlfriend before she was your Mother and she’s my girl!”

My Daddy would go to his grave without saying one nasty, mean, or  any disparaging remark about his girl – my Mother.  To that – I am humbled.momdadWhen Mom died on February 21st we all thought Dad might live another 4-5 months top.  They were together 60+ years, more than half their life-time.

The last 10 months have been very bittersweet for me and my family.  I have spent so much time at the VAiphone 198 I think I am going to start volunteering there once a week – I know where everything is and I know just about all the paperwork and hoops you have to jump through plus I know many of the people out there!  I would cook almost every night and Randy would pick Dad up while I sat the table.  We would usually always play rummy after dinner but I could tell Dad was fading and slipping away from me.  He would ask me over and over why did Mom die and how long had she been dead?  He was retelling old family stories that I had never heard.  But why wasn’t God easing his pain?  And…Dad would tell me everyday how much he loved me.  It would break my heart to take him to see Mom because he would cry and I would have to carry him back to the truck.  Then Dad started to fall all the time.  He once fell in the backyard by his self  and it took him over two hours to get enough energy to crawl to a post to pick his self up off the ground.  (Of course the old coot would not wear his help button or carry his cellphone)   But why wasn’t God easing his pain?    Then he started having potty issues, mixing up his medicines, and letting anyone who rang the doorbell just come on in.  The pain of losing my Mother was there everyday,  I hope she knows just how much he loved her. But why wasn’t God easing his pain?  

In late November my Daddy had a dream that woke him up at 3:00am, he called me at 7:30 really shook-up.  In his dream he saw my Mom, Aunt Pat, his Grandparents, and parents all standing beside a riverbank telling him to “just come on Allen!”  I asked my Daddy if he was scared of dying and he said no.  Then I asked him again who was Jesus Christ to him?  And he said “well I am not stupid!”  And I said “let me hear you say it – Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior”.  He said it.  I then told him to go home, don’t fear death, this is not our home, me and the little hares will be just fine,  go home Daddy – they are waiting for you.  And I will be there someday too – much thinner with long flowing hair!  Once again dear Sweet Jesus ease his pain!

On Monday, December 15th I sent both my brothers the same text message.  The 17th would’ve been Mom and Dad’s 59th wedding anniversary, please don’t call Dad, mention it, or even call.  I want to sweep the day under the rug and move on straight to Christmas.  I had it all planned out – it was going to be just a normal ordinary day.  I had been dreading this day Dec 17th for at least a month  not knowing what to expect.

I had seen Dad the evening of the 15th.  He was having trouble with his furnace. He was very joyful and cut up with me a bit.  He once again told me he loved me and I told him I loved him more.

The next day the 16th Randy was going over to Dad’s house to check the furnace again.  I had called several times that day with no answer.  It was a pretty day and he usually like to be outside swinging.  I didn’t think anything about it.  When we walked into the house my parents bedroom is directly on the right.  I just glanced cause I was going to the backyard when I heard Randy cry out “Oh my God”.  I knew.  By the tone of his voice and the look in his eyes and the tears already swelling in my big man’s eyes – my Daddy was dead.  My Daddy was gone and Jesus has eased his pain.  He died just in time to celebrate his 59th wedding anniversary with his sweetheart and he died just how he wanted to – in his own bed.mdI am happy God eased his pain and put him back together with my Mother and all of his family.

I know I should just “get over it”!  But this one….this one…is going to take a little bit of time.  We all grieve differently.  We all have different relationships.  My Daddy was the first man I ever loved and he loved me unconditionally until the day he died.

My Mom loved to tell me that when I was only a few months old her and Daddy were loving on me and Daddy said “I must be doing something right for God to give me a Tina”.  Well Daddy – God did right in making you my Daddy.644390_10204909620612387_175003382047699042_n

Friday, November 14, 2014

My Thinking Rut

I can’t control the things that happen to me each day, but I can control how I think about them. I can say to myself, “I have a choice to have destructive thoughts or constructive thoughts right now. I can wallow in what's wrong and make things worse, or I can ask God for a better perspective to help me see good even when I don’t feel good.” Indeed, when we gain new perspectives, we can see new ways of thinking. And if we change the way we think, we’ll change the ways we act and react.

Jesus, teach me to trust You and to believe that even though my situation is overwhelming, You are out to do me good. Give me Your perspective today. Amen.”

Excerpt From: “Unglued Devotional.”