Friday, February 25, 2011

Ode to Oklahoma

My grandparents live in Olkahoma. My first memories of Oklahoma are puncuated by long car rides. When our family would arrive Ben and David would run laps around the house to pay for rowdy car behavior. We would walk in the door to an always extra excited Aunt Cathy, the clicking of Lady's feet on the kitchen floor, Mom Skaggs in the kitchen, a house full of life. After a few days we would leave way before daylight to make the long ride home. I remember driving away one year after Christmas, staring through tears at the muli-colored Christmas lights lining the roof as we were pulling out of the driveway. I didn't want to leave.

Well, I'm older now. And while the visits looked a bit different, I still kept going back. One year I visited alone, I dressed up in Aunt Cheryl's old prom dress. Then Mom and I had a tea party on the deck. She made tea sandwiches and we wore hats. I went fishing with Dad Skaggs on the lake. It was peaceful and quiet. I played in the snow with Micayla. I traveled through their home on the way to see Corey when he was training. I bought my wedding dress there. I went on my first motorcycle ride in Olkahoma. While on the bike, we saw a thunderstom from miles away across the flat land. We heard the thunder, I was in awe. I found my favorite Mexican Restaurant. It is named Ted's and has the best cheese dip and tortillas...ever. I have had hours of "girl talk" in the car with my mom and her sisters. But I never really thought of it as home.

On a plane now. I'm sitting by the window approaching OKC. I'm coming to visit my grandmother. She is battling ovarian cancer and just finished her last treatment. As we get closer, the land starts to look familiar. My mom and aunt Cathy are on the way to pick me up from the airport. For some reason, I start to tear up. After 25 year of coming to this place, this time I feel like I'm coming home. I'm truly filled with joy.

I went on to have a perfect weekend. I arrived at the hospital, happy to find Mom Skaggs as pretty as ever with her same spunk. I realized that Dad Skaggs reads my blog, he got me my favorite tea ;) We laughed....we laughed a lot. I got to eat my Mexican food at Ted's. My mom and I got lost driving through the city. We laughed about that too. I went to the house, the basement too and breathed deep the smell of so many memories. The room I stayed in, surrounded same familiar things I've grown to love over the years. I realized, this place is a part of me.
On the plane back to my Philadelphia home now. Oklahoma, Mom, Dad, I'll be back soon!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Welcome Home, Bennett

It is official, I am an aunt five times over! And number 5 is pretty special. Bennett has been my nephew since November 27th but we just didn't know it yet. Over the past weeks as Ben and Abbie prepared to bring a new child into their home, I have been in awe and at times in tears at the beauty of adoption. As all acts of love are, it is an extension, an outpouring of the love God has shown for us. But Bennett isn't the first adopted child in our family. We all are.
I stumbled upon this verse the very week that we knew Bennett would be in our family.

"Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do and it gave him great pleasure."
Ephesians 1: 4-5

Watching Bennett's story unfold pointed me to the Father in a new way. He adopted me when he didn't have to, but he wanted to. It was a source of great joy for him! And in our small human way, I have seen so much rejoicing and celebration over Bennett's life. I thank God for his adoption and mine.

I feel incredibly blessed to be in Bennett's family. I can't wait to hold him, tell him I love him and watch him grow up.

Welcome to your family, Bennett. I'm glad your are finally here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day (one day late)

The Valentine's one stop shop just a few blocks from my house. Oh Philly, you are funny.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

For my fellow perfectionists

This quote made me stop...and breath....this week.

"No great thing is created suddenly. There must be time. Give your best and always be kind."


Monday, February 7, 2011

My Weekend in Recipes

"Jackie, Didn't you have anything better to do than take pictures of food all weekend?"

No, I did not. This weekend I cooked and I watched an entire season of The Tudors and that is all. Welcome to my life minus husband plus winter plus exhausting week of work.

So here is a breakdown:

1. They guys at work have been bugging me to bring in biscuits and gravy for months. Did they look at me, decide that I was Southern and then make the judgment that I would automatically be good at making gravy? Well, yes that is kinda how it happened. This past Friday I finally budged. The gravy turned out fine...and the biscuits did not. Note to self: never put biscuits on a pizza pan with holes. The grease will drip and smoke up your whole house at 8:15 in the morning when you were supposed to be in the car 15 minutes before. You will forget that it happened and smoke up your house again the next time you turn the oven on. You will be forced to open every window and door in 20 degree weather. Did I ever mention that I really love my coworkers? To them, I am a gravy goddess.

2. Breakfast with the girls on Saturday morning. I LOVE waking up on a Saturday morning and making a good breakfast. Especially if you can have a few hours of girl talk in the process.

Aunt Ellen's Caramel Soaked French Toast. How many sticks of butter? I'll never tell.
3. I love homemade pizza. My mom made it almost every Friday night of my childhood. I never feel more at home than eating her recipe on a weekend night. I made this one all for myself!
4. Pot of Chili for the week. Because I work ungodly hours (in my opinion).

5. My masterpiece. Devil's Food Cake with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Filling and Ganache on top. Peanut butter and chocolate are the best combination....ever. Thanks Mama for finding this recipe. And thanks to Toni for the Super Bowl Party so I had an excuse to make it.

And there you have my weekend.