Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

Life and Joy

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blog post on loving life media

Helen with grandchildren Liam 7, and Katy 3, being silly.

I love life! I am at such an interesting stage in my life right now, (retired, disabled, too dependant for my liking) that it’s fun to stand back and analyze a bit. As a teen and young adult college student I was busy achieving and playing…like most of us at that age. Fun was my middle name.

Then I married and became a responsible adult with children of my own and a profession. I taught community seminars on parenting for heaven’s sake, who does that who actually has children! LOL I lived in fear of my children throwing a temper tantrum at the grocery store! LOL  Not my kids, they were perfect! LOL My husband and I were active in church, PTA, Band Boosters…Scouts…you name it, we did it! LOL We lived through, and lived with dying parents, such a sad time for all of us.

Then we lived through Max and I turning 50 and falling apart, so young! His open heart surgery was a fix and he has remained the rock and engine of our family with his mechanical heart valve!  Mine however, was experimental because I couldn’t be fixed, and yet, although predicted to die in five years, here I am 17 years later–looking forward to more! Everyday, I am thankful that I married Max who cares for me and opens my world. Our kids are grown and add joy to our lives in different ways.

Cakes by Annie, EasterAnnie learned well from her Dad all about baking…but she went further as kids are wont to do…and is an amateur pastry chef now.

Ali, our musician, is a mother of three kids from 17 months to 7! Can you say BUSY?!  Ali at 40th birthday party with Welcome to the Zoo sign!

Balloon fest 2015, Ali, Liam , Katy, and Evie, with friend Michael enjoy experience of being in the basketAli and family with Pooh at Disney Wd may 2015, cropped

Still, with life and sickness…comes hobbies and interests that make our lives thrive. Max’s woodworking, my Red Hatters, genealogy and our gardening more often fill our days. Blog post loving life

But then there are the surprises…

Six weeks or so ago a good friend and I piled into her car and joined my sister on a garden tour in Virginia!  On this tour, I got to see the church my grandparents met in just after the Civil War! Can you believe it! Wheelchair dependant, there I was, having a fancy lunch at the premier Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia with my sister, friend, and reuniting with old highschool friends, an unexpected blessing. SAM_0464

Last week we were in the midst of a hot-air balloon festival! So beautiful, so majestic, so peaceful!Balloon Fest 2015, glow Balloon fest 2015, flag balloon in flight Balloon fest 2015, Katy in red hat and dress

Last night, I was at Falls Lake State Park here in Raleigh, NC with all of our immediate family and extended family from South Carolina. My grandkids, ages 7, 3, and 17 months, provide unbounded joy in their enthusiastic enjoyment of the moment!  Sticks become swords or magic wands, sand and water become a huge playground of exuberance! Showers of sand, splashes of water, running, jumping, tumbling…oh to be a child with this kind of freedom on a summer evening again!  Fireflies…lightening bugs…oh my gracious..they are magical for a child and adults!  Campfires, hamburgers and hot dogs, roasting marshmallows! We met other campers also, hiking/rolling trails, and just enjoying the weather….campers are generally friendly, helpful people with interesting lives of their own of course. How much fun to meet strangers who are living next door or across the way in that tent or RV.

Last week, my last beautiful Iris bloomed, this week the daylilies are opening their cheerful colors to our days! The morning glories are singing, and yesterday, my first magnolia blossom opened! Tonight it looks like I’ll get to watch the first moonflower of this season quiver its way open and perfume the night!

Life….it is….enjoy!  Thank you God.

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“Z” is for Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah with Grandchildren

As a child, and as an adult I’ve always loved this song! When you’re happy, nothing else expresses the mood quite so well in my book! You can whistle it, and you can sing it as if no one is watching or listening! LOL That’s what I do..or perhaps, I should say, that is what my grandchildren and I do, and have done over the years!  

Helen with Liam and Katy, Zip a Dee Doo Dah

Helen with grandchildren Liam and Katy

My oldest grandchild, Liam is  7 now, but when he was three, as his sister Katy is now, he would sit on the arm of my power wheelchair (can’t walk far due to severe heart disease) and we would ride all over the neighborhood! He loved it, and wanted to ride and ride! So, we’d talk, we’d notice things, and we’d sing! My favorite song to sing with him was Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, I bet you couldn’t have guessed that huh?  Can you imagine the sight we made, riding around on my wheelchair, grandma and grandchild, singing at the top of our lungs! I know that some of our good friends/neighbors used to tease and also let us know they loved it! I often wondered if others who didn’t know us wondered about that old lady wandering the neighborhood in her wheelchair, singing with abandon with that little boy! LOL However, the men in white coats, nor the police ever showed! My sidekick and I had a ball, and I’ll never forget it for sure! 

“X” = Extraordinarily Excellent Xylophone Player, My Daughter Ali

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Ali Holshouser Orcutt, High School

I’ll never forget the high school orchestra concert when I first heard my daughter Ali play the xylophone in concert. We were used to seeing her play the marching bells in the Marching Band, and used to hearing her playing piano at home, while she played timpani and other percussion instruments in the orchestra. But this night was special, as they spotlighted her solo on the xylophone! She played the Flight of the Bumble Bees! If you have never heard this song, give a listen to the recording below. It is so fast, oh my gracious, you could hardly see the mallets moving they were flying so fast as she struck the keys!  As a mother, I’m pretty sure, my mouth fell open, LOL, and I sat up a bit straighter–why are we so often the least prepared to know how talented our children are? Perhaps because to us they are children, our children forever. When they excel, its like…”My child, when, how, what?” I have been extremely blessed in that I have two daughters, Ali and Annie, who play multiple instruments and both sing! Music has always been a large part of our lives and a joy for our family. (I’m sure you noticed, but just in case, this is not a video tape of our daughter playing the xylophone, but somone else from youtube. We do have a vhs recording, but we have yet to get it changed to a more usuable format, so sad! Hope you enjoy the above.)

What brings you and your family joy?  

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“W” is for Walt Disney World

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Goggle Earth view of Cinderella's Castle at Disney World, 2015

Goggle Earth view of Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World, 2015

Walt Disney World in Florida, USA–is there a more magical place on earth?!  We don’t think so, and our family has had some very special adventures there over the last 45 years!  Yes! I said 45 years, Max and I got to go to Disney World for a preview in December, 1970, a full ten months before they officially opened in October, 1971! We had gone down to visit his cousin Ronnie Kennerly who was a police officer in Jacksonville, Florida. Disney had invited the law enforcement  officers to come visit, and Max and I got to go also! We had no idea the magnitude of what we were seeing, nor of how privileged we were to see it before it opened to the public! All we knew was that our 21 year-old selves loved it and thought it was magical for sure! 

1970 pictures of trip to Disney World

By 1989, Max and I realized our first child, Ali was 15 and our second child Annie was 7, and we had not taken them to Disney World yet! How had we let this happen! Off we went for our great adventure! Then in 2005, our daughter Annie did an internship at Disney World for her Hospitality and Tourism Degree at Appalachian State University. While she lived at Disney for eight months, we went down to visit her during the Christmas holidays that year. The family now included Greg Orcutt as Ali had gotten married in 2001. Max and I have not been to Disney World since that 2005 trip, but in nine days, our daughter Ali and her family, Greg and three kids 7, 3, and 15 months are taking the plunge and touring the wonderful world of Disney, I can hardly wait to see pictures! 

Look at the difference in tickets alone between when we went in 1989, and for Ali and her family to go now in 2015! While we used paper tickets, treasures in our family scrap books, Ali and her family will wear electronic bracelets, called Magic Bands, which they will scan to get in, proving they have previously bought their admission tickets.  The bands not only replace the tickets to the parks, but also room keys, charges to the room, and fast passes for rides. How cool is that! 

 In 1989, Max and I stayed off campus in a condominium. It was lovely, but we decided it would be easier to stay in a Disney Resort  if you had kids.  When our children and grandchildren go next week, they will be staying on Disney. To this day, I remember how lovely it was to visit Disney World.  From the moment we parked and entered Disney, we were met and catered to by Disney cast members who saw to our every whim–with a smile! If that alone didn’t put a smile on your face, surely the parades, the Castle, the riverboat where we had breakfast with Mickey, Minnie and all the characters–to the Broadway play we saw in the Contemporary Resort, every moment was awesome, for us adults and the kids!  We rode rides, and visited backstage at Disney MGM Studios to see how movies were made.  Back at Magic Kingdom, we actually had lunch with Cinderella in the Castle, an event we had signed up for six months ahead of time! To this day, Annie remembers seeing her favorite Princess and that when lunch was over, Cinderella said, “I have to go now, because I have to go feed the Prince!” That amazed 7-year-old Annie! The days and nights were filled with parades, fireworks, oh my, and we shopped ’til we dropped! We left Disney thinking what a fabulous trip we had.

1989 trip to Disney World in pictures: 

In May 2005 through January 2006, our daughter Annie completed the Disney College Program (an internship) at Walt Disney World! During that time she took classes at Disney College, became a cast member and worked at Pop Century Resort in retail and in the food court. She also had the opportunity to work special events like the Food and Wine Festival and Star Wars Weekends. She even joined the cast choir which allowed us to hear her sing along with celebrities on Christmas Eve in Epcot Center! We had never been to Disney at Christmas time, and the sight took my breath away! Luxurious greenery and decorations covered every door, arch, and window! By then, I was sick and using a wheelchair. Getting on and off the monorail, getting in and out of plays, restaurants, stores–always, ALWAYS there was someone to lend a hand and see that my needs were met! My life might have been stressful for me and my family at home, but at Disney World, being handicapped brought support beyond belief, so that only joy remained! Annie learned the ins and outs of Disney, including the underground, cast only, tunnels to get them from one place to another. With all the normal trials of working at a place that large and busy, Annie finished still loving Disney, and having made a lifelong friend.  A sick Mom, and the eminent birth of her nephew, persuaded Annie to come home, but she has always considered returning for a career at Disney. She is a family person, true, but she is a Disney girl as well. One of our cousins calls her “Disney Girl” in fact–a nickname she loves!

2005 Disney College Program with Annie and Family Christmas at Disney

I want to share with you some pictures and a video from the Candlelight Processional which they have at Epcot Center every Christmas season. If you are ever at Disney during the Christmas season, you might find this as awe-inspiring as I did. I will never forget the trumpets, the candlelight procession, and the beautiful voices raised in praise that night in 2005, including our daughter Annie’s voice. 

Being the amateur genealogist that I am , I cannot close this post without sharing with you that I discovered that my husband and children are actually related to Walt Disney himself!  The relationship chart, showing that they are 9th cousins, 3x removed  looks like this: 

Disney relationship to max, 9th cousin, 3x removed

Forty-five years of trips to Walt Disney World includes my daughter Ali and her family’s trip this coming week. I can hardly wait to hear about my grandchildren’s first trip to Disney and to add some of their pictures to our collection. 

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“S” is for Scavenger Hunt!”

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Easter was a big holiday for our grandchildren this year. It didn’t look like that was going to happen the week before however.  One of their grandparents became very ill and had to be hospitalized. Thank heavens he recovered  Even the kids were sick the week before, viruses sent their fevers to 103 degrees, you can tell in little Evie’s eyes above that she wasn’t feeling well even though she was enjoying her big pink ears and furry bunny!  The bigger kids were sick also, but an Easter delivery made them suddenly much better! Thank heavens they were well by the weekend and could enjoy the awesome scavenger hunt prepared by their loving Aunt Annie, as well as the Easter egg hunt and games in the neighborhood.
I think the scavenger hunt designed by their Aunt Annie, my daughter, was incredible, and I had nothing to do with its creation! I am writing a children’s book about it however.  The hunt was fairly short and simple, befitting of the players who were ages 7, 3, and 15 months.  Part of what I thought was so amazing was that Annie  not only planned a hunt to involve all three children, each at their own skill level, but made it so that they had to take turns, help each other, and all be involved–a herculean feat for that age in my opinion! The goal of the scavenger hunt was to find Easter baskets made for the grandchildren by their Aunt and Grandparents.

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Liam 7, Katy 3, and Evie 15 months were so excited!  Aunt Annie told them they would find a big surprise if they followed the clues of this scavenger hunt!  They had to follow exactly, to find the treasure! Aunt Annie gave everyone else in the room a colored plastic egg to hold, all different colors. She put pieces of colored paper down on the floor, each matching an egg. Then …
“Happy Easter everybody! We’re having a scavenger hunt so that Liam, Katy, and Evie (the only children present) can find a treasure!
First we need Evie to pick up a piece of paper and bring it to Aunt Annie. Can you do that Evie? Go ahead, pick up one of those pieces of paper and give it to me? That’s right, good job!” Evie picked up a purple piece of paper and toddled right over to Aunt Annie!
Aunt Annie then announced:  “OK Evie!  Now Katy and Liam, you have to get the matching colored egg from one of the other family members in the room! What color egg matches this paper? Their silly Granddaddy yelled out “Blue”! But the kids didn’t fall for it! “Purple” yelled Katy, and she and Liam both ran to their Grandmother whom they called GiGi, to get the purple egg! Liam got there first and opened the purple egg, inside was a clue for Katy! (all the eggs held identical clues so it didn’t matter what color Evie chose, that was just her task.)
Annie had planned for the next clue to involve Katy, youngest to oldest! Liam read the clue to Katy, and was so excited, he could hardly keep from giving her the answer!  The clue read:  “Next to a popsicle, which is really quite silly, Is your next clue, in a place dark and chilly.”
You could see Katy thinking, then she took off running to the kitchen, where the freezer is on the bottom half of the refrigerator, and she had helped get popsicles from before! She was thrilled to find another egg, with another clue!  This time she opened it, but her brother Liam read the clue–which was for him!
Oh my gracious, this clue was tricky, and had two different problems to solve to find the next clue! On the piece of paper Liam held in his hand, was a picture of some bunnies hiding in the grass, and you could only see their ears! The clue read: “Look at the bunnies trying to hide! Count their ears to see how many bunnies there are. (There were six bunny ears, so there were only three bunnies! Liam figured it out!)  Now count back to the car of the train that matches the number of bunnies, and you will find a clue!”  Liam rushed over to the train, “Oh, I know, I know…one, two , three…YES!” There was another brightly colored plastic egg with another clue!

Easter 2015, Scavenger Hunt

This clue was for Katy! Inside the egg were four pieces of paper, each had a letter and part of a picture. The clue read, “Spell your name with these letters to see what to find with your next clue.” Aunt Annie asked Katy, “What’s that letter Katy? and that one? Yes! Can you spell your name with them?” Katy knew just what to do, and put KATY together very quickly!  The pieces of paper came together as Katy spelled her name, to reveal the picture of a toy school bus. Liam got so excited when he recognized the toy, and he and Katy both rushed back to the toy shelf at the end of the hall! Sitting on top of the “Little People” school bus was another egg with another exciting clue!
Easter 2015, scavenger hunt clue
“For Liam” this clue said. “Something white like you sit on all day. Sometimes you may even lay,  I’m where you watch TV, your next clue is behind me!” Liam thought and thought, and looked around the room, very unsure. He slowly pointed towards the white sofa with a questioning look on his face. Aunt Annie said, “If you think that might be it, go take a look behind it.” Liam rushed right over and looked between the couch and the wall–surely enough, he pulled up a plastic bag of Easter eggs with a clue taped to the bag.
The clue read: “You’re almost there!  Now you BOTH have to help! Katy find four yellow eggs and open them up.”  Katy dumped all the eggs out onto the floor, selecting the four yellow eggs right away!  The kids opened the eggs and found pieces of paper inside with a single word on each piece.   “Now Liam…arrange the words to make a sentence you can read.”  Liam worked to put the words in a sentence that made sense to him.  He soon had the sentence “GiGi” “hangs” “clothes”  “here” spelled out in front of him.

SAM_0440

In  response to their perplexed looks, their Mom said, “Think about it, where does GiGi hang up her clothes?” Liam said, “Oh I know!” and took off running with Katy right behind! They went into their grandparents’ bedroom and looked around.  First, Liam went to his Granddaddy’s closet, there were none of GiGi’s clothes there!  Then Katy looked into the matching storage closet right beside it, but they could see no treasure there, or any of GiGi’s clothes.  Hmm…again, they looked around the room, finally noticing the door to the walk-in closet! They seemed to rush towards it at the same time! When they opened the door, there were three baskets of gifts for the kids!  “Ah cool!” you could hear Liam say, as he discovered a flying dragon made by Granddaddy in his basket! Katy ran from the room, carrying her basket to show Mom and Dad–pink dinosaur in tow! By now little Evie had joined the excitement, tossing Easter grass everywhere! and immediately putting the dinosaur made just for her by Granddaddy, into her mouth!
What a wonderful day, the whole family seemed to bask in the children’s excitement!

© April 22, 2015

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“L” is for Liam, 7- Year- Old Grandson Has His Own Blog!

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I have been blogging for a couple years now, mostly genealogical in nature. A couple weeks ago, my 7 year old, first grader, grandson Liam and his class at school started blogging! I was very surprised, and thrilled! Another writer in the family! Of couse, don’t tell him that, he’ll tell you quickly he’s going to be a State Park Ranger like his Papa!

Liam is the son of  my daughter Ali and her husband Greg Orcutt.  Liam is a nickname, named for his Great-Grandfather William Donald Brown, and his Great- Uncle  William Donald Brown II, called Bill (Greg’s mother–Kaysie Brown’s father and brother). So three in a row we have William, Bill, now Liam, all from the same name! I think that is very cool! A wonderful tribute to beloved family members as well.

Liam does so many wonderful and fun things, as you can see from above, but today, I wanted to share his blog with you. It is on a site for his school, not available to the general public. However, he was kind enough to let me repost his blog posts!

Liam concentrating so hard, has his little tongue out, just like his momma used to do when she was little! LOL   Liam’s Blog               

March 30, 2015  9:52am

Thursday night, me and my sister got new shoes. I thought mine were best!

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March 30, 2015, 4:05 pm

“My Base” 

 I built a new base on “Disney Infinity.”  It has a hiding place.  I made a world for it myself.  

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 April 7, 2015, 4:50pm

Walt Disney World

 My family is going to Disney World. We are so, so , SO excited.  I ‘m really excited to go to Star Tours and Animal Kingdom.  

 

 

 

 

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K is for Katy! My 3 Year-Old Granddaughter

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Katy at 3rd birthday party. Collage by her father's sister, her Aunt Amy Orcutt Pickering.

Katy turned 3 on January 21, 2015,  Princess cupcake cake made by Aunt Annie Holshouser was a hit!

 

Kathryn Marie Orcutt, called Katy, my precious granddaughter, lights up our lives with her sweetness and joy. She is the daughter of Gregory Orcutt and Alexandra Kathryn Orcutt, my daughter. 

When she is sitting calmly by herself –sometimes, you can hear her singing her current favorite song–“Everything is Awesome!”

 

Katy climbing where she should not go

“Look at me! First I pulled all the videos off the shelf, then I climbed right up and leaned, fell, jumped over to the back of the chair! Now, how am I going to get down?! Help, Mommy! “

Katy is a daredevil too, however, so she keeps us  on the edge of our seats! She loves to climb and nothing is too daunting for her!  She once tried to climb  the long chain hanging  down from a stained glass lamp and pulled the treasured lamp, made by her Granddaddy, right out of the ceiling! Thank heavens, she wasn’t hurt, nor was the lamp, miraculously!

 

Katy the flower girl at Amy Orcutt's wedding, Oct. 11, 2014

Graceful flower girl in her Aunt Amy Orcutt Pickering’s wedding.

 

Katy is named after several beloved family members– first and foremost, her mother Ali, Alexandra Kathryn Holshouser Orcutt. We also have my beloved cousin Kathryn Youngblood Fuller, and my mother’s sister Katherine named after her mother–my maternal grandmother Katherine Steptoe Houchins Kearse/Kerse (called Kate) . These are some of the treasured family members her parents were thinking of when they named her Katy.

 Her middle name Marie, is just as, or even more prevalent in our family.  Max Holshouser, my husband, Ali’s father, Katy’s  granddaddy–his mother was Helen Marie Wagner Holshouser.  Helen Marie named her daughter Brenda Marie, Max’s sister. Brenda named one of her three daughters Patrice Marie, Patrice had Amanda Marie, who has Paisley Marie! That’s five generations of Marie’s in Ali’s father’s family!

I also had an Aunt Helen Marie Youngblood Webb, who had a daughter Grace Marie Webb Wingo , and a granddaughter through her son Philip named  Maria Webb.  In the South, we love family legacies, and family names, it makes genealogy harder, but it is a loving tribute.

Katy with wings and sophia gown cropped

Katy pretends she can fly as she jumps off the sofa, fairy wings held high!

Katy was a premature baby like both of her siblings. She was  6 weeks   early, and had to be in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for  about three weeks.  That was an extremely stressful time!  Every developmental milestone she reaches, counting, recognizing letters, talking– is duly noted by her mom, and her psychologist grandmother!  We are very aware of the concerns–possible leaning difficulties. So far she is meeting or exceeding every developmental milestone, counts and knows all her letters, and even laughs at her grandmother’s jokes! 

Katy’s current favorite joke is this one which sends her off into peals of laughter!

Knock Knock                
Who’s there
Banana                                   20140801_150129
Banana who…
Knock Knock
Who’s there
Banana
Banana who…
Knock Knock
Who’s there
Banana
Banana who…
(This bit can go on for some time!!)
Knock Knock
Who’s there
Orange
Orange who…
Orange you glad I didn’t say banana again!!

She even likes to tell it herself, dress herself, walk by herself, eat by herself, and just do everything–“by myself!” Miss Independent! I love it and her.  (Sorry if it doesn’t show, LOL)  I’d love to hear about the special kids in your own life! Thanks for sharing  with me. Helen

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