Sunday, February 26, 2017

Welcome Luxton!

"Some women are dripping with diamonds.
Some women are dripping with pearls. 
Lucky me! Lucky me!
Look at what I'm dripping with...
Little girls!"

I imagine Brittany and Travis have felt that way on more than one occasion in the last few years, but here he is, in the flesh, a baby boy straight from heaven! 

Luxton Orson Tolman made his debut on February 23, 2017!

Luxton was born in the morning, so after Annabelle got off the bus from school, Grammie and Grandad packed up the girls, grabbed fast food and headed to the hospital. Sounds easy right? 
Well it wasn't...literally took us an hour to get everyone dressed and buckled in car seats! Madeline & Scarlett required rounding up more than once as I attempted to amend the 
"Grammie is in survival mode and has discarded all fashion rules" look to a  "We are a family who cares well for our children so don't judge us for choosing to have a fourth child!" respectable look:)
We stopped by Chick-Fil-A and fed the girls in the hospital sitting area while waiting for the green light to visit Mommy and the baby....probably won't be invited back:) 

Here is the moment every mother dreams about...the one where sweet older siblings are entranced with love for the new baby and the world is does happen, albeit very briefly:)

Luxton will be the most safe with 6 year old Annabelle, a seasoned oldest sister who has just the right touch and a respect for delicate baby bodies. She also can make her own breakfast, get herself dressed and fetch things like diapers, and baby blankets making her a valuable asset to mommy.

Almost 4 year old Scarlett will be much less safe for Luxton. She has an exuberant excitement for new baby siblings which manifests itself in rough and tumble encounters the baby may not wholly enjoy:)

Case in point...the picture below where he is experiencing his first Scarlett good lovin' squeeze...good luck Luxton!

At 19 months Madeline is at the top of the threat list to Luxton's well being and will find herself monitored like a newly released prisoner on parole:) 
So to recap, 
Annabelle -DEFCON 5
Scarlett-DEFCON 2
Madeline-DEFCON 1....again good luck little buddy:)

Enter the adoring grandparents....we have experienced this new grand-baby joy 7 times now and it never ceases to amaze me how much love I feel for a tiny human I don't even know. Babies are indeed love and purity, proof that life is meaningful. They are a gift, a miracle, a compensation for the challenges of life. Blessings straight from God.

This man I have been yoked to for 34 years is never sweeter to me than surrounded by our grand-babies of all sizes. He is so gentle and kind, worthy of their adoration which will increase as they grow, as it has for our four children. 

Travis really wanted his picture! I tell everyone he has an unusual love for little children, not known to most men. He is a fully engaged daddy in every way, endearing him to us for the extraordinary loving care of our daughter and grandchildren. We snapped about a dozen pictures and as you can see by the next shot, it became less civilized by the second:)

Our visit degenerated quite rapidly from here and we felt like we had worn out our welcome.....with their own parents..hahahaha! Scarlett kept escaping outside the room, down the hall, and even into other patient rooms! She stopped at every single hand sanitizer station down the hall more than once. I am hoping alcohol poisoning isn't possible with hand sanitizer! 

Travis has that look on his face below... the "we have worn out our welcome with even the parents of the perpetrators" exhausted fake smile from the "I have been up all night being supportive of my beautiful & brave wife who gave birth to my long awaited son" daddy Tolman:)

Our daughter, schooled in southern style polite company manners, agreed to one more picture with her new baby...for her mommy who was feeling nostalgic and full of love for her little girl grown, wondering how it was that she was already the mother of four!

And last but not least, the final Grammie family history documenting picture....the adoring sisters gazing lovingly into the bassinet, marveling at their new baby brother...or something like that:)

Welcome's a feisty girl's world you have come to, be tough little man, be Texas tough:)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Little Southern Gentleman

I am so pleased with this beautiful daughter. She is a phenomenal mother!
They say you know how you did as a mom when you have grandchildren.
What a blessing to be on the grandparent side of the fence!
A little southern gentleman is indeed on his way! After three little girls, Luxton Orson Tolman is his daddy's dream come true:) Brittany is 38 weeks and ready to welcome their little man!

Jodie and Brittany frequently do family outings together,
...even venturing on a dual family vacation last summer!
 With the birth of Luxton they will have 8 children between. oh the chaotic fun! 
Pink anything would not do for this little guy! With 3 sisters ahead of him, hand me downs are not an option:) Brittany's good friend Jodie hosted a small baby shower for Luxton.
What fun change to see blue and greens in baby clothing!
Target has a new line of children's clothing called Cat and Jack which is adorable! I simply could not decide which dressy outfit I loved best so....I bought them all but in various sizes to be sensible:)
Luxton has his first line up of church clothes suitable for a southern gentleman courtesy of
Target, Cat and Jack and Grammie:)
I will obviously need to pace my new bow tie, plaid shirt and suspender obsession:)
I love the joy of baby showers, the ohhhs and ahhhs over the baby clothes,
the chatter about babies and children...such a happy event!
Brittany worked feverishly to finish birth albums for Annabelle, Scarlett, and Madeline,  wanting to display them at the shower. It was a sweet walk down memory lane for us, and a fun bit of family history for friends to enjoy!
Jeline an ardent fan of Brittany's girls:)
Her favorite thing to do is pinch chubby baby legs...isn't that everyone's favorite?!

Jodie had these cute shirts made for their first family photo op in the hospital! Poor little man...three sisters to mother him, he's in for a bumpy ride!
Brittany & Travis call their family Team Tolman! Tolman is on the front of these cute shirts.
I'd say they really do have a full team:)
Raelynn & Mari are an important part of our lives.
Mari is my right hand girl at Nellie's Cottage, and Raylynn loves to babysit  Brittany's girls!
Mallory was Brittany's good friend in high school, and now is the mom of four children:) 
Heather is a sweetie who knew Brittany in high school and married a cousin:)
Her children Emmett and Aubry are simple adorable! 
Gus and Cici, as these cuties are nicknamed..belong to Mallory and Daniel.
There is something so stinkin' cute about twins!
Carolyn and Amy are a kind mother & daughter duo who have taught Brittany's children in church.
Carolyn currently teaches Scarlett which I am sure is quite the adventure:)
Debi and Brittany each have 6 year olds, Annabelle & Rebecca, and 3 years olds, Scarlett and Taylor who are best friends!
Debi's daughter Megan is one of the frequent babysitters to the Tolman munchkins.
Annabelle came at the end of the shower to check out the gifts and cart them home. She is already a big help and has all the qualities one would expect from an oldest child... beginning with bossy:)

I rarely ever get an album complete immediately after an event! The small number of pictures and Brittany's preferred simple style made this an easy project. The invitation provided a design map and with my considerable stash and album was born!

I found this cute alligator on Cricut design space and rickety split was able to cut them out. Outlining simple shapes adds dimension and interest, as the picture above demonstrates. 

Even though we know who the guests's always a good idea to document for our future children and grandchildren. It gives them another clue about our lives!

I chose to create a simple One Event/One Design album for the shower even though I do LOVE to create "over the top fancy shmancy embellished pages"! This simple "every page the same" style allows me to whip out albums in a timely manner. After all, future generations will be more interested in the people than the embellishments! So for events, holidays and vacations this is my scrapbook method of operation:) 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Valentine promise

We frequently make promises in life. Some are forgotten, some ignored, and some fail...but once in awhile we really do keep one. 
On Valentine's Day in 1975 a young girl pledged a promise to her grandparents...that girl was me. I was a prolific writer of childhood poetry. The lyrical rhythm of rhyming words spoke to's how I shared my love. 

This card created for Nellie's & Albert, Mama (maw maw) and PaPa (paw paw) was carefully tucked away in a keepsake box at my moms. In recent years she has gifted me all of my childhood memorabilia. Seeing this valentine brought tears...sadness in missing Mama and Papa, happiness for the sweet memories, and gratitude for the childhood promise kept... "I will never forget you" love, Kimberly

I grew up visiting Mama & Papa at least once a week. Mama had lush flower gardens all around the yard. Papa was a master vegetable gardener. He would often take us out to feed his chickens. He was a bit gruff in manner but we knew he loved us. Mama was sweet & always concerned about one's well being...which meant as a southern grandmother she loved to feed us:) 
It was the 1970's, a great time for childhood before political correctness and personal injury lawsuits dominated American lives. As you can see below my brother Todd had a toy gun in his hand! 

I do not have one single picture of me with Mama or Papa, only the treasured memories seared into my mind and heart. Papa began building this house after they lost their home in the depression. They started all over. I so admire the courage & resolve I see in their faces below.

Aunt Helen was the oldest of their 5 children. She remembered how embarrassed she was to lose their home. She is standing in front of the cottage as originally built.

My mom Martha came along 16 years after her next oldest sister. My aunts tell me she was quite spoiled:) Here she is in front of the home with an added screened in porch. 

Nellie & Albert were married 66 years.They were loved and well respected. I still miss them!

After Papa died in 1989 and Mama in 1990, my Uncle Albert took over the house. He lived there until his passing in 2009. At that point the house was in terrible disrepair. No one in the entire extended family wanted it...except me:) 
I dreamed a dream and could visualize the renovation possibilities!

My dad always said..."You have to make a mess to make progress" and boy did we make a mess. Day one, March 11 2009, I recruited son in law Travis, and Brian, best friend of my son Keith, for demolition. Hammers swung furiously as boots and fists went through walls, and cabinets were ripped from the studs. This was the day Michael stopped by after work, walked in and saw the destruction. He went totally white with shock as he thought we were going to slap some paint on the wall and find renters! I started talking super fast in my most charming southern accent and revealed to him my plan for a cottage retreat.

My marriage survived the information omission and once I showed Michael all of the research on retreats in Texas he jumped on board...well...more like cautiously walked on board:)
"Take it to the studs!" was the battle cry. Strong feelings of being "in over my head" were a constant companion as contractors and helpers came and went over the next 9 months.

Slowly but surely over the weeks and months things began to take shape. I cannot remember how many trips were made to the city dump and building supply warehouses. I became a back up pro with a lowboy trailer:) 
We completed the cottage in December 2009. Hallelujah, what a happy result! Taken to the studs and back again, Nellie's exuded all the cottage charm of my vision! 

There were many moments of complete despair during those initial 9 months of renovation. Even 7 years later anxiety can surface when thinking about this project! There were a few miracles along the way, and I often felt the spirit of my grandparents spurring me on.

Nellie's Cottage has continued to evolve and expand. A new large project room was added on the back of Nellie's, and Flossy's (Nellie's sister) cottage was renovated for additional sleeping space.
I sometimes sit in the driveway carried away in the wonder of this journey. As the girl who wrote "I will never forget you", I could not have imagined it would be so literal...that I would be the proprietor and caretaker of their home. 

Creative, kind and lovely women come from near and far to retreat at Nellie's Cottage. I always tell them the story of Nellie & Albert, about their courage and love. I end this story with a new poem...

Dear Mama and Papa,
I remember the garden, the chickens we fed,
The beautiful flowers lovingly planted in beds.

I still smell coffee in morning's early light, 
And crisp skillet pancakes, a breakfast delight.

The porch swing in motion, the two of you there
A memory my heart loves that lingers in air.

Sweet words that you loved me tucked deep in my heart
Hospitality given to all, you made quite an art.

A lifetime of service to family and friends
What lessons you gave me, true to the end.

A promise I made and a promise I'm keeping
Your home still well loved and happy, no weeping.

Love is forever and always my dears
I'll never, no never forget you in years.

Love, Kimberly