Friday, December 12, 2014

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Let's get a few things straight...

I am going to post a one time statement in response to some behind the scenes communication that has been spread across the internet to many of my family members.  Normally I do not use social media as a forum to spew drama of any sort, and seriously frown upon others that do so.  However, since my brother, Jeremy, decided that social media was the perfect place to spew his version of these issues (I suppose the act of libel means very little to him) I believe it is necessary for me to voice my response using the same media forum.  I will also reiterate that this is a one time statement that I am publicly posting – I will not even respond to any comments posted.  If anyone wants to ask me for more information, feel free to private message me.  I have nothing to hide, I am not trying to “protect” anyone, nor would I ever turn away a loved one who was completely looking out for my best interest.


I am sure that those of you who have no clue what I am talking about are probably massively confused.  Just hold on.  You will get the gist of it in a bit.  And I apologize in advance for including you in this drama – I’m just not sure who all was included in the original “mass message”.


In the not so distant past I chose to walk away from my church life for personal reasons.    It was not an easy decision to make, nor was it made frivolously or overnight.  Let me state, I am still ME!  I still love my family, care about my friends, and work hard at my job.  I still have morals and values in my life.  I still have faith in God.  I am not the first person to make such a change in their life, nor will I be the last.  While I do agree that this is a lifestyle change for me, it does not mean that I have to go to hell in a hand basket.  However, it has become apparent to me that there are those who are willing to judge me as such.  I have not lost my mind, my sense of direction, my ability to be a good judge of character.  I acknowledge the fact that to a degree I am na├»ve, open and accepting.  That does not make me stupid.


After remaining single for 17 years, I have met a man who has become special to me, and I want to pursue a relationship with him – to see where this goes.  I have been advised to not just date one person – to date around, play the field.   I am 43.  Young enough to have much life left to live, yet old enough to know who I am.  Let me just say that I have met a couple other men and we just didn’t click.  My friend and I do.  I have no desire to play the field at my age, but do see the concern, whether necessary or not, of ending up with the first person I meet.  We are not engaged, not getting married, just dating.  At this point, there is no one else I am interested in.  That does not mean that we are a permanent item – only time will tell that.  I had no idea that my dating life would become subject to harassment and scrutiny. I set my own personal desires aside while my children were small and dedicated my life to raising them.  I have done my best by them.  I am not perfect, do not claim to have been a perfect parent, nor that my children are perfect.  We are just our version of normal.  I try to stay out of everyone’s business, and thought I could expect the same.  Evidently I was wrong. 


This man, who does not live locally, and I decided after emailing, texting and talking that we would like to meet in person to see if we wanted to start dating.  This transpired right before the Christmas holidays.  We met, liked each other, and decided to continue pursuing the relationship.  At this time, he informed me that he had a past that was not good and enlightened me with that information.  He wanted me to know that he had a past he could not change, but that he had tried for several years to make his life better.  I took his word that the information he shared with me was the truth, the complete truth, and decided I still wanted to pursue the relationship.  Keep in mind – we are only DATING.  You know…the process where two people get to know each other better?!?


Upon finding out that he was going to be alone until after the Christmas holidays, and asking permission from Mom and Gerard and getting my kids ok, I asked him if he would like to attend our family reunion the Saturday after Christmas.  He accepted.  In retrospect, I realize this was a bad decision.  It gave the impression that we were further along in our relationship than we were.  I am not sorry I brought him, nor am I ashamed of him, but I am sorry that I subjected him to unwanted censorship and speculation.  For this, I owe HIM an apology.  For some reason, I thought my close family would support my new friendship.  It would seem that this was not the case.  (Please do not misunderstand - I had many family members there of whom I am NOT referring to.)


During the day I informed my brother of my friend’s past after his tattoos were commented upon.  I did have one piece of information incorrect and attempted to rectify this later, but it went unheeded.  I mentioned an argument between my friend and his ex-wife, but I had completely misconstrued this information in my mind.  Ask anyone who knows me, I don’t always pay attention to the details and easily get mixed information.  The incident was actually a disorderly conduct situation at a Mardi Gras, where my friend spent overnight in jail.  This happened when his son was 3 months old, and his son is now 17 years old.  This incident does not even show up on any background check or criminal history report.  To be clear, there was NO incident involving my friend and his ex-wife.


The next morning I received a phone call from my brother advising me that a background check was being performed and already tons of information was flooding in and this guy was a habitual offender and I needed to get away from him asap.  What I was NOT informed of is that this information was also forwarded to my family members, most of who have NO DESIRE to hear about my love life!  I was told this was being done out of care and love and concern for me…but if that were the case – I would have been given the information privately, no one else would have been privy to it and I would have been treated like the adult I am and given the space to make my own conclusions and decisions.  Instead, I feel as though I have been railroaded, isolated, and degraded.  To make sure that we are all on the same page – my friend gave me his Louisiana drivers license # to give to my brother, Jeremy, and offered to give his TDC#.  I informed my brother that I had already been made aware of the information he found, but that if any additional information was found, or anything recent, ANYTHING that would prove my friend was not up front and honest with me about his past, to please contact me.  I did not receive any further communication from my brother that provided additional criminal misconduct or deceit.


To catch you up, the “claims” against my friend are as follows – in my brothers private message to various other family members (I was conveniently left out of this) on December 31, 2013 – 2 DWI’s, 2 Class B Driving while license suspended, Fail to Identify-fugitive from justice, False report to a police officer, Class B Criminal Mischief, Motor vehicle theft, 2 burglary of a habitation with intent to commit theft, 2 unspecified charges, a felony fatality accident where the details are unclear as to whether it was DWI or fleeing from police.  In total 6 misdemeanors and 4 felonies in TX alone – no telling where else there were violations as he evidently lived in at least 3 other states (LA, KY, and FL), had 11 aliases and at least 3 different dates of birth.  My brother claimed to have proof of ALL of these violations and accusations.


I will take this moment to state that people who live in glass houses should not cast stones.  Everyone has something in their past they are not proud of.  My friend has no history of child molestation, spousal abuse, domestic violence, sexual crimes of any nature, weapons, drugs, or alcohol violations.  I know that my brother has a past.  Just because your past is wiped away because you committed your sins before you were 18, or because someone had enough money to help them disappear does NOT mean that your past did not happen.  It did – don’t forget it.  Restraining orders, shop-lifting, family violence, AWOL.  And let’s not leave out verbal & emotional abuse– these are issues that people do not easily forget.  Especially when you have been at the receiving end a time or two.  And remember, you are who you are – youth is NOT an excuse…right?


His private message to me had basically the same information, but included some “persuasion”.  First of all, my friend has been accused of “marking his territory” by liking things on my page and tagging me in posts on his page since we became FB friends.  Isn’t that what friends do?  I have been informed that he makes my sister’s ex-husband look like a saint.  I won’t even go into details about him (my sister’s ex) for the sake of my family’s privacy.  I was told how concerned that my father and grandfather were – and I have no reason to NOT believe this – however, they never contacted me with their concerns.  I was informed that my church family has been calling my dad and texting my brother out of their concern for my personal well being and safety in light of all this information.  I can see how one or two might call my dad just to check on me, but texting my brother?  How would my personal church friends have my brother’s cell phone # when he hasn’t been a member of that church since he was about 12 years old?  My true church friends have taken the time to contact me on MY cell phone – and I have kept in contact with them.  I will just add that I had not told one of my friends from church about my friend.  Again – we just were not THERE in our relationship!!!


When I responded to my brothers private message asking him to forward me the information he had, I was told to call him – not text him because I am afraid of confrontation.  It didn’t matter that I was merely hitting “reply” to his private message to me on FB.  I was accused of changing my phone # because I don’t want to hear the truth.  The misinformation in that statement is that my father had purchased a cell phone for me as a birthday present a couple of years ago and I received a text from him notifying me that my phone would be disconnected by 4pm that afternoon and if I wanted to keep my number I needed to go take care of it.  I opted to use a different provider, therefore had to get a new number.  It’s really that simple.  I’m NOT hiding, I’m NOT afraid!  Seriously, get real!  And get a life!  I had no choice but to get a new phone #.


I was warned by my brother to stay away from my father and his family, my grandfather, and my brother and his family, for as long as I continued to make such bad judgment calls.  Clearly my friend smeared his OWN name and what my brother was doing was completely justifiable.  I was told to have my daughter give my grandfather his garage door opener and the keys to his house back (she stays the nights with him often), and to get my daughters to quit lying to my grandfather-what they are lying about I do not know.  My brother stated he had sent me paper work and I had refused it.  (I will notate here that he did provide me proof that he had sent me an email (it did not show any attachment), but I never received it and when I went to check my spam…too much time had passed and that date of emails was gone).  He wanted to know why I didn’t bring my friend to my grandfather’s house for Christmas Eve – doesn’t matter that we hadn’t gotten that far in our relationship yet.  He wanted to know why I will sit down with certain family members, and not others?  I can answer that.  The family members that I have sat down and spoken with came to ME when my brother made his accusations to hear my side of the story, and my friend’s side of the story.  And even though my friend has had the same job for multiple years, he has now been accused of being unemployed.  To make matters worse – it is now assumed that my friend lives with me since he has been seen at my house on several occasions.  REALLY???  Come on!  This no longer borders on ridiculousness – it is full blown obsessive crazy.


Let me tell you what I have done and what the cold hard truth really is.  My friend volunteered his drivers license number and his TDC# to me to check him out.  I took the information that my brother sent to other family members and gave it to another friend of mine who is in law enforcement.  That friend was able to take it to someone who could read it and they were able to obtain a full blown National FBI Criminal Report on my friend.  It completely matches up with the information that my friend gave me up front when we first met.  It’s bad…I don’t deny that – auto theft and a one, not two, burglary of a habitation, driving while license suspended, and a false report to a police officer.  What you need to be aware of – if it even matters to you (it did to me) is that most of this is one incident and the most RECENT offense was in 1993!!!  He was 23 years old.


All the other charges?  Not him!  The aliases – I was informed are not truly aliases.  And there are no multiple dates of birth.  The report my friend obtained is the report of all reports – no one can obtain a more conclusive, current, or accurate report.  It is not Texas only – it is FBI – covers every state.


I have given this information to my brother in the hopes that he would let this go.  He will not.  His obsessiveness over this issue, which I remind you is absolutely NONE of his business, is harassment.  The private messages to my friend, which are poorly concealed threats for him to stay away, and the ones to me including warnings that he WILL soon be arrested, are beyond care and compassion.  It's unhealthy and I want it to stop.  I am of the opinion that every one deserves a second chance.  I have received second chances, and so has Jeremy, my brother – many of them.  And don’t even pretend that there has been no criminal mischief on his part ever.  We all know better.  I would use the excuse that it was all when he was young and immature, but as my brother so clearly stated – once a criminal (or convict) always one.  Age has no bearing on the stupidity of a man (or woman).   Apparently he never heard the story of Saul in the Bible.  A man who tortured and persecuted Christians, yet was forgiven by Christ and became a disciple.  I could go on and on, but I digress.  What point is there in trying to talk to the deaf?  Or the dumb?


Now things have become more personal…my daughter unfriended certain family members and was informed that this was disrespectful.  I can assure you it was not done out of disrespect, but out of an attempt to keep my brother from nit picking every pic, post and comment she makes.  He has made it his personal goal to make rude, hurtful and sarcastic comments on several of my children’s posts.  I assume he believes it is okay for him to bully others, but don’t pick on him or his.  Typical bully small-minded mentality.  Nevertheless, my brother has informed me that he has another family member (I will not name) that is keeping him informed of our activities and postings.  He has advised me to tell my children to stop posting their smart A** S&^% on FB – but let’s not ask the same of him!  I have given my children permission – and will take this liberty myself once this post is made public – to unfriend anyone who chooses to use facebook as a tool to bully, ridicule, or belittle us OR who chooses to use their friend status to keep my brother informed.  Not only will you be unfriended, you will be blocked.  I don’t need this kind of drama.  At first I contemplated getting rid of my FB page in its entirety – but why should I?  Just because one or two people choose to use FB as a weapon instead of a tool, I should not have to cut myself off from my friends and family members that I love and who I wish to remain in contact with.  Let’s not forget that my brother, Jeremy, their uncle, has made it clear that he no longer wishes to have any form of relationship with my children – they are no longer a part of his life.  His words – I have the private message to prove it.


I have been informed that I shot 20 years of good away in only 3 weeks!  My life is in shambles and the ruins are falling all about my feet.   It is of no apparent consequence that I am not the one bringing the drama and chaos to my life – my brother is.  Did any of you know that my friend refused to let me out of my house on New Years?  My brother did.  Let’s not take into consideration that there are pics of me OUTSIDE, or the fact that I went SHOPPING!  I know where that information came from and I promise you that I set the record straight on that point.  But did he ASK me if this was true?  No.  He stated it as fact.  I have been notified that while I am being beaten to death over the next 6 months, and can no longer pay my bills, to not come to certain family members to borrow money (because this is evidently something I do).  I will just have to remember that I turned MY back on my family…not the other way around!  Are you kidding me?  You really need to ask yourself how close you are to me.  How well do you know me?  Or my children?  If you think that spending a few hours 3 or 4 times a year at family holidays or events constitutes a close relationship – you need to look the word up in the dictionary.  I believe an investment in TIME is required to develop a real relationship.  And as much as I realize I am partially to blame for that deficiency, it is a two way street. 


Please remember, and take into consideration, that everything in my post would not have been necessary if my brother, Jeremy, had chosen to take the high road and be an adult.  If he would not have posted any of this on social media, and had given me the right to choose for myself, even if my decision went against his better judgment – I would NEVER have taken this route to get my point across.  I believe in keeping quiet – that usually you do not need to say anything at all – time shows all things as they are.  However, after he posted, I realized I needed to have a voice – even if for just this one time.  I wanted people to know the truth – the entire truth – and to be given the opportunity to make their own conclusions.  I realize there are those who love me unconditionally and who will stand beside me no matter what choice I make.  There are those that will see this post for what it is and let bygones be bygones.  And I realize there are those that will use this as another tool in their tactics for bullying.  It’s time to let it go.  Everyone has a life and I am certain that mine is not important or interesting enough to capture everyone’s or anyone’s attention for the amount of time it has taken to read my “novel”.


All I have left to say is to my friend.  I apologize.  I am so sorry that a past that you have worked 2 DECADES (A GENERATION!) to make better has been dug up and slung back into your face.  I apologize that it was at the hands of my family, thereby ME, that caused you to suffer through this.   I am sincerely regretful that I had to post the intimate details of your past to alleviate the false accusations being slung around.  I also want to thank you.  For being honest and upfront with me from the beginning.  For freely disclosing such personal information and volunteering to give me what I needed to obtain such private information about you so that my family and I might have some peace of mind.  For granting me permission to make a bad situation a little bit better – even at your own expense.  And most of all, for your patience and understanding throughout it all.


In conclusion allow me the opportunity to say that regardless, this is MY life, MY decision, and I will be the one to either reap the benefits or pay the consequences.  Someone else’s misguided approval or disapproval will have no bearing upon that.  I am fully aware of what he fails to give me credit for – having a sound mind, an ability to make good judgment calls, and of standing up for myself, my friend, my children, my family, and what is right. 


To those of you who opted to believe the rants and false accusations without giving me any consideration – your loss.  Evidently you had little faith in me to begin with and this situation only emphasized that fact.  To those of you who have contacted me to hear my side, or who have sat back to see what truth comes forth without passing judgment based on libelous, over exaggerated accusations and mud-slinging - thank you all for taking the time to read this entire posting – I am certain it was trying – but your persistence and patience gives me courage and hope! 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Jack & 'Cille

In loving memory of my Grandmother, Lucille, I am posting this brief documentary I wrote about 3 weeks ago in honor of my Grandparents 70th Wedding Anniversary.  I am thankful for the time God gave me to spend with her and for all she taught me.  My prior post, Memories, is a tribute to both of my grandparents based only upon my favorite memories of them during my childhood.  She went to be with the Lord, sing with the Angels,  dance around His throne and collect her crown with MANY jewels!  No one deserves it more.  She was a true saint, the epitome of a Virtuous Woman.
Jack & ‘Cille

Horace Newton Maxwell was born April 20, 1923 in Winn Parish, LA to Horace Maxwell and Fannie Malissia Autrey. His parents called him “H.N.”. He had two older sisters, Edith and Rachel. Rachel was not able to pronounce Horace, so she called him “Jack” and the name stuck.

When Jack was 16 years old they lived in a three room house with spaces between the slats in the walls and the rafters big enough that snow and rain fell inside the house. One afternoon, he had an argument with his younger sister, Edith, in the kitchen. She screamed as though he hurt her, and his father, who was a few hundred feet away in the field, heard her. He saw his father jump the fence and cut a thick switch from a tree. Realizing his dad was going to whip him without finding out what really happened, Jack made up his mind that he was never going to get whipped for something he didn’t do again. With only the clothes on his back, he walked out the back door and kept going.

He hobo’d around riding rail cars and begging for food from homes where the rail cars stopped. Jack ate raw corn from the field once (but doesn’t recommend it). He traveled all over Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and even went to Tennessee looking for a job. While in Arkansas he stayed with an uncle for a couple of months working around the house to earn his keep.

Jack joined the CCC camp earning $30 a month. He would keep $8 to live off of and send $22 back home to his mother to help out. He served two separate “hitches” with the CCC, one in Wyoming and another in Oregon. He was serving in Grants Pass, OR when World War II was declared. That following January he went home.

Joyce Young Maxwell (‘Cille) was born March 20, 1927 in Bogalusa, LA to Robert Ellis Young and Anna Agnes Rushing. Her mother told her that she was born on the 21st, so she celebrates both days. She was called Lucille. It wasn’t until many years later upon obtaining a copy of her birth certificate that she discovered “Lucille” was not her name. She had her name legally changed to Joyce Lucille Young Maxwell. Her mother later remarried to Norman Howard Peterson who lovingly raised her as his own. She was blessed with three younger siblings, Jean, Doug and Linda.

When she was 3 or 4 years old, she still had hardly any hair and was so little, she looked like an infant. The Gerber Company tried to get her mother to let them use her as a model for their company, but she declined.

‘Cille finished the 10th Grade in Bossier City High School. 11th Grade was the highest grade level offered. She worked at Greenwall’s Drug Store at the sandwich counter. She spent her earnings purchasing sandwiches to take home for her mother to eat.

Jack and ‘Cille met in 1942. She was the unwitting chaperone for her younger sister, Jean, who had a date with Jack. Jack took a liking to ‘Cille and decided to keep hanging around. She told him she was 18 years old…she was 15. He never formally took ‘Cille on a date, but they had lots of fun fishing and spending time together at the Peterson’s house.

They were married on Sunday, April 18, 1943 at high noon in the Nazarene Church in Shreveport, LA immediately following the Sunday service. She was 16 and he turned 20 the next day. Jack wore a suit with a hand-painted tie and ‘Cille wore a light blue Sunday dress. She did not wear a veil, nor did she have a bouquet or corsage. Mr. Alton Smith was his best man and Jean Peterson, her sister, was her maid of honor. There was a small reception after the ceremony with cake and punch. They did not take a honeymoon trip.

The story has been told that Jack told ‘Cille, “here’s five dollars, and it’s borrowed. You can use it to buy a washer board and make us both a good living, or you can use it to buy yourself a looking glass and watch yourself slowly starve to death.” The truth is he did give her the money telling her he absolutely could not manage money and asked her to manage it as well as she could.

Jack was in Class 17B Limited Services Army Reserves and going to school at Louisiana Tech when they married. They rented an apartment in Ruston, LA, which was nearby. Jack received a medical discharge when they discovered he had a weak eye while he was attempting to enroll out of the Reserves and into the Army.

On February 4 1944 their oldest son, Horace Newton Maxwell, Jr. was born in Shreveport, LA. The called him Jackie.

In 1946 Jack started shipping out as a pump man. He first went to work for Texaco in 1948. Later he went to work with Pure Oil and got his wiper license. He went back to work for Texaco with this third Engineer license in 1954 and worked his way up to Chief Engineer. He stayed with Texaco until he retired in 1984.

One day, after Jack went back to work for Texaco, he was checking in at the gate when an older gentleman walked up to him and asked him where he was heading to. Jack answered that he was heading up to the Mississippi (the ship). The man handed Jack his suitcase and told him to carry it onto the ship for him. He explained that he was the captain of the ship and they had been unable to pump the ballast out of the ship for the last 24 hours and wouldn’t be able to sail until this was done. He sent Jack to the engine room with instructions to see if he could figure out what was wrong and fix it.

Jack entered the engine room and immediately could hear a leak in one of the pumps. He followed the sound until he found the pump that was leaking and had lost suction. He shut that pump down and started up another pump, clearing out the ballast. They sailed within 2 hours of him fixing the leak.

Jack sailed on almost every ship ever owned by Texaco and sailed all over the world. He has many tales to tell - of the many people he met, places he’s been, sights he’s seen’ even real-life pirate stories! His favorite poem is titled “A Nautical Extravaganza” written by Wallace Irwin.

On February 5, 1948,’ Cille received the Holy Ghost in a little church in Rochelle, LA. She was baptized in Jesus’ name on February 8th that same year. Jack and ‘Cille moved to Port Arthur, TX a few days later. They rented a garage apartment behind Bro. & Sis. Desormeaux, where they lived for 3 ½ years. Bro. & Sis. Desormeaux were members of Faith Tabernacle Apostolic Church in Port Arthur, TX with Bro. A.T. Morgan officiating as pastor. They were in the middle of a revival. Bro. Desormeaux remembers Sis. Desormeaux calling out to him that she saw a Pentecostal lady next door and she had to go meet her and invite her to church. That was the beginning of a lifelong friendship between two families.

‘Cille’s Sunday School teacher was Sis. Wolf. ‘Cille, known to her church family as Sis. Maxwell, became the treasurer of Faith Tabernacle in 1956 and held this position until 1998. She taught herself to bake and decorate cakes and became the unofficial “caterer” of numerous weddings, showers and parties given at the church. She loved to sew and crochet and was always counted on to help when food was needed.

Her favorite scripture is Psalms 121: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy food to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is thy keeper: the lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”

Jack began digging water wells and repairing & installing pumps for families and businesses when he would be home between voyages. He was the area representative for Ruth Berry Pumps for over 30 years.

On February 19, 1952, their second son, Leslie Howard Maxwell, was born and fourteen months later, on April 15 1953, their youngest son, Douglas Edwin Maxwell, was born. Both boys were born in Port Arthur, TX.

In 1954 they bought their first house in the 2600 block of 4th Avenue in Groves, TX. In 1956 they sold this house and bought a home on Grant Avenue in Groves, TX. That same year Leslie started Kindergarten at the new school across the street, Van Buren Elementary School. They lived on Grant Avenue until 1976.

Jack received the Holy Ghost at Faith Tabernacle Apostolic Church in Port Arthur, TX under Rev. Murray E. Burr in 1965. Elder Bro. Bean was preaching. ‘Cille had been praying for Jack to receive the Holy Ghost and while praying she would vision him in a blue shirt. The night Jack came to church and received the Holy Ghost he was wearing a blue shirt, just like she envisioned!

That same year they purchased a camp near Dam B on the Neches River from H.B. Morgan. A few years later they bought the camp next door from Rev. Murray E. Burr. This camp provided many years of swimming, fishing, hunting, gardening, and family gatherings.

In 1976 they build and moved into a new home in Port Arthur Country Club in Beaumont, TX.

Their youngest son, Doug, passed away suddenly in 1976. There were too many memories, making it difficult to return, so they sold the camp in 1978.

They purchased a camp in Call, TX on Little Cow Creek near the Sabine river in 1989, which is still enjoyed by the Maxwell family today.

In 1996 they sold their home and moved to Beauxart Gardens in Beaumont, TX, where they reside now, to be closer to church, family and town.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


My Grandparents 70th Wedding Anniversary is April 20th, 2013.  In celebration of this our family is giving them a reception.  We have been going through photos and writing down memories and making all kinds of wonderful preparations!  I'll share more of that with you later.  Meantime, I wanted to share some of my own memories...and some of my brothers.  I just thought you all would enjoy it! 

Jeremy's Memories

To start off, I would have to say Grandma Lucille and Papa Jack are the most influential people in my life.  I am grateful and proud to have them as my Grandparents.  I was asked to write down a few of my collected memories with Papa Jack and Grandma Lucille.  It seemed to be an easy task until I began writing. Suddenly, I realized it would prove difficult because there were too many memories to count.  I had to whittle them down until I could find the ones I believed changed my life in significant ways. 

Stephanie and I lived with them for a while when they lived in Port Arthur Country Club.  Grandma Lucille was always either cooking or sewing.  Papa Jack was always working in the yard or installing a water pump somewhere for someone. They two never slowed down.  To this day Papa Jack can work circles around me.  He was never afraid of a little sweat getting on his blue overalls.  On his breaks, he would come inside, pull out his frozen mug from the freezer and fill it with milk or Big Red.  After his break, he headed right back outside to finish what he started.

 I can remember getting up early in the mornings when the droplets of dew were still heavy on the ground.  I would ask Grandma Lucille for shrimp to go fishing.  She seemed to always have plenty.  I would grab my fishing pole, bucket and the shrimp and head off to the dock to catch whatever I could.  It didn’t matter, I was having fun.  Often times, they would fish with us.  Papa Jack was the “Catfish King.”  If there was a catfish in the water, he was going to catch it.  As I became a teenager, Papa jack showed me how to trotline.  I loved it and spent every possible moment on the water, either fishing or setting trotlines.  Life with them seemed so peaceful.

Many times, while on our way to church Stephanie and I would count the hawks perched on the power lines.  It was a long drive so we had to find something to do.  Papa Jack and Grandma Lucille were firm believers in a good meal and Luby’s seemed to usually fit the bill just before church.  Come to think of it, those meals could account for Papa Jack always falling asleep during the sermon.  We will likely never know.

Once the sermon was over, we would head back home where Papa Jack would eat his usual cornbread and milk. Stephanie and I preferred the butter pecan ice cream from the 5 gallon Baskin Robbins bucket in the freezer.  Grandma always had something good to eat.  She happens to be the greatest cook ever was.  No one could cook a brisket, fried shrimp, gumbo or dinner rolls like her.  Not even if she gave them her recipe.  That’s a talent no one can duplicate.

Grandma Lucille is a firm believer in what I refer to as “Continuous Christianity.”  At any given moment she would sing praises.  She often knelt beside the bed to pray and routinely read the bible.  She was always peaceful and willing to lend an ear.  She could relate any of your worries to scriptures.  Most of which she knew by heart.

Papa Jack always has a story to tell or a smile on his face.  Everyone knows his weakness is children.  There is not a child he won’t play with…or tease.  They love him as well.  He is widely known by children as “Pawpaw Jack.”  He is the special kind of loving character everyone wants to imitate. 

As I said before, there are too many memories and too little time to share them.  I am so blessed to have the grandparents that gave me those memories.  They mean the world to me.  They have instilled their values and morals in me.  They are the most peaceful and Christian persons I know, and I have never witnessed a couple so perfectly made for each other. 

Stephanie's Memories

There are so many memories that it is difficult to know where to begin.  More challenging will be to determine what to leave out and when to stop.  My earliest memories are of the Sunday Comics.  I can remember Grandma ‘Cille being ill and giving me a shoebox, a pair of scissors and the Sunday Comics to cut out and play with to keep me quiet when she was sick.  Later in life it was Papa Jack who saved the Sunday Comics for me…I read them religiously!  Even now, I find myself reminiscing about reading Family Circus, Snoopy, Garfield, Snuffy Smith, Blondie, Marmaduke and Dennis the Menace.

Jeremy and I lived with Grandma ‘Cille and Papa Jack for several years.  They always made church our #1 priority, followed by family and our education.  I can remember waking up in the wee, dark hours of the morning to Grandma praying.  She prayed all through the day – she could be washing dishes, scrubbing toilets, sewing or cooking and you’d hear her talking and singing to her Friend.  It placed within my own heart a desire to know Him like she did.  No other gift could ever compare to the one given to me when they put a love of God, my church and church family in my heart.

Sunday evenings were always special.  That was when they would go eat at Luby’s.  Who knows how many times I walked up to them at church to give them a hug and could SMELL Luby’s on them!  I always knew!  When we went to live with them, they brought us along.  I can’t walk past a Luby’s today without thinking of them.  Papa Jack always got the chicken fried “snake” and Grandma frequently ordered the liver and onions.  The liver and onions always smelled so good!  I asked Grandma for a taste one time and that was the first time I realized not everything in life tastes as good as it smells! 

Images run through my mind…watching Grandma bake cakes (and letting me eat the scraps) and helping her make roses out of the icing, having Papa Jack ride us around on the golf cart (ask Tiffany Landry about me riding her on the golf cart – not such a nice memory, ha-ha), Sunday naps, Big Red and Root Beer floats, homemade birthday cakes, lazy evenings reading books, Grandma sewing me new dresses or working on crafts, Papa Jack hauling dirt around, mowing or running off to work on someone’s water well, eating fried pies at camp and fishing with a cane pole. 

They took us on many trips to see Pappy and Maw or Pawpaw and Grandma Peterson.  Believe it or not I loved riding in the back of the truck with the camper top.  I can remember listening to the train whistle and feeling the house shake when the train went by, swinging on the front porch, eating blackberry cobbler, and sleeping with the windows open at Pappy and Maws.  Pawpaw Peterson introduced us to boiled peanuts and would always play with his dentures to amuse us. Come to think of it, Papa Jack’s done that dentures thing a time or two, also!  They even took us on trips to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico (back when it was safe to go) and to Branson, MO.

Grandma and I loved to play Scrabble in bed in the evening and Papa Jack would hop into the bed to officially end the game when he was ready to go to sleep!  Of course, that was BEFORE they invented the board that had special boxes for each tile!

Holidays were always the best.  I don’t remember anyone needing an invitation – if you were family you were invited.  Period.  Everyone was always welcome.  The food, oh my…brisket, gumbo, homemade rolls, coconut cake, chocolate pie, chocolate chip cookies, homemade candies, fruit cake, sweet tea, sweet cream corn, purple hull peas with fresh okra steamed on top, butter beans with ham hocks…hungry yet?  To my knowledge, Grandma did all the cooking – all of it – by herself.

It wasn’t just food that made the holidays special.  Christmas was Grandma’s favorite time of year.  The decorations were endless.  Every room had something in it.  Every light on the tree had to be just so…thank goodness to whomever invented pre-lit trees!  The ornaments had to be spaced just exactly so – no two alike near each other while having the perfect balance around the tree.  The tree skirt, the train that choo-chooed around the perimeter of the tree, beautifully wrapped packages, a fire crackling in the fireplace, roasted peanuts, Scrabble or, more recently, Rummikub.  Grandma collected the Dicken’s Village with all the people, trees, benches, street lamps, skating pond and so much more.  The candy cane tree, her collection of Santa’s that adorn the mantle, the stockings, swags of greenery over all the windows tied up with bells, mistletoe and red velvet ribbons.  The homemade placemats, table centerpieces, the huge hurricane lamp with the big red candle inside and the bowl it sat in filled with Hershey’s miniature candies or Kisses.  Grandma even went so far as to wrap the extra large Hershey bars or Andes Mints boxes individually and set one at each place at the table so you always had a sweet treat to take home with you.

These are only a few of my childhood memories.  I can’t even begin to tell you of my more recent memories and the many memories they have given my children, also.  These days all the women split the cooking when we gather together, I wrap the chocolate bars, Jeremy puts up the tree and Malissia decorates it.  All the great-grandchildren insist on multiple rides on the golf cart and Papa Jack is always considerate enough to oblige.  It’s funny to see my kids fight over who gets to play Santa and pass out all the presents – it seems like just yesterday that I fought for this rite of passage!  No one in this world has been more blessed than I to have such wonderful Grandparents.  I love them more than words can ever express.  My greatest wish is that one day my grandchildren will have this same sense of family, of love, and just as many memories.  I can think of no better way to honor my grandparents than to pass the love they shared with me along to my future family.

Well, I hope you all enjoyed that!  I'll be posting a letter I created about their history - it's FABULOUS!!!  For's a pic of them that you might enjoy!

H.N. "Jack" and 'Cille Maxwell

K.  Bye now!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New blogs to follow!

Just a quick note to tell you guys about 2 fabulous blogs I have recently started following.  The first one is 100 Days of Real Food and the other is Food Babe.  Check them out!

As most of you know I played the Game On Diet for about 1 year and then I got bummed out and quit.  While I realize I still have much weight to lose, reading these blogs has given me a new perspective. 

I don't want to "diet"!  I want to eat better, healthier, cleaner!  I'm not quite ready to go totally ORGANIC, but I am trying to clean things up!  A couple of weeks ago I decided it was time to check out the labels in my pantry and see what I was really eating and feeding my family!  GASP!!!  GROSS!!!  OMW!!!

I couldn't believe what I found!  Needless to say, I threw out about 3 trash bags full of stuff I couldn't give to anyone else without feeling guilt.  I gave away 5 grocery bags of stuff I didn't feel so bad about.  Then I cleaned out my spice cabinet.  Let's just say that I haven't cleaned that cabinet in about 6-7 years and you could tell!  I'm blushing, that's how embarrassed I am!  I filled the trash can...AGAIN! 

I am now proud to say I have the neatest, cleanest, most organized spice cabinet ever!  And I was able to reduce my "pantry" space by one whole cabinet...and that's saying a lot because I have large, deep cabinets!

I learned how to make my own granola for cereal, snacking and yogurt topping.  I learned to bake my own 100% whole wheat sandwich bread which Kirstyn said is so much better than what you can buy in the store I better keep making it!  :)  And I am learning to incorporate REAL food into my diet instead of processed food.  The Game On diet had already started this process...but being uneducated, I still used "fat-free", "low-fat", "lite" and other such processed foods.  Most pointedly, I continued to use Splenda because that stuff MUST be healthy - hello - no calories!!!  WRONG!

I got rid of all the white flour in my cabinets!  All the diet food, all the "lite" yogurts and such, AND the Splenda!  I now use honey, agave nectar and Stevia for my sweeteners.  Oh, and I have purchased a bag or two of organic sugar for special treats - 'cause that stuff's EXPENSIVE!    I am now using real butter, olive oil, sunflower oil and coconut oil for cooking and baking along with 100% whole wheat and 100% white whole wheat flour.  They even make a special 100% whole wheat flour for it!  I have opted to use real milk, no more 2% - which was very scary for me, but I LOVE IT!  I am buying organic milk, which is more expensive, but lasts so much longer!  I actually tried the coconut milk, which was like drinking whitish water - so that's a big NO for me...and almond milk, which is a bit sweeter, but not really my cup of tea.  So total whole organic milk it is for me.  I've tried the Horizon brand and love it.

I am trying to have 3 meals and at least one snack a day - if I'm hungry, I'll let myself have another.  I am working on portion control - paying attention to the size of protein and carb servings I give myself and trying to increase the veggies/fruit servings - which is really not a problem for me.  I've been eating "wheat" bread, pasta and brown rice for a few years now, so the only difference there is that I'm making my own bread and paying attention to make sure my pasta and rice are truly JUST pasta and rice - no additives and preservatives that are unneccessary.  I am drinking water for the most part although I do love a cup of tea for breakfast and an occassional glass of sweet tea. 

I'm trying to learn more about GMO's and Red #40, Yellow #5 & 6, etc...and about other sneaky items in our food supply that really aren't food and do nothing but convert to carcinogens.  We don't eat much candy in our home, but I did go buy some UnReal UnJunked candy to test it out.  They only make 5 candies - a clean version of M&M's, Peanut M&M's, Reeces Cups, Milky Way and Snickers.  I love the Peanut M&M's and my kids love the Snickers version.  They are only sold at Target and CVS, but they are priced just the same as any candy.  The candy bars at Target were $0.89 and the bag of M&M's were 2 for $7.00.  Try them - you will be surprised!

Oh, I have made my own homemade chicken stock and have a recipe to make my own onion soup mix and cream of mushroom soup using real, natural ingredients.  This should enable me to cook foods we are used to on a cleaner, healthier scale.  I hope to begin a small container garden in the next few days - maybe some potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, celery, green onions, onions, garlic and a few herbs just to start off with.  If I am successful, I'll try a few more and then maybe I'll actually try to have a small garden in the yard.  Wish me luck.  The last herbs I tried to grow died as fast as they could!  Sigh....

I almost forgot to tell you - I baked a lemon cream pie using 100% white whole wheat for the crust and it was TO DIE for!  Delicious!  Of course - it is still high in calories, so portion and control are a must, but still - it was nice to have a real sweet treat using healthier options.

I realize I need to increase my exercise - and I haven't been motivated to do so lately, but I purchased new tubes for the bike tires and once spring hits, I'm hitting the road!  I'll try incorporating some Zumba into my evening routine for now....

One last note - totally different subject - I am going to start teaching sewing classes and will be open to teaching cooking classes, if asked.  I'm doing some free lessons to some of the young ladies at church to begin with and get off the ground.  But I hope to take it to the next level and offer group classes and one-on-one classes for a modest price in my home.  Let me know if you or anyone you know are interested - unless you live in ALASKA!!  LOL!  :)

Auuuggghhh - I almost forgot - the Camry is now in operating order thanks to the loving generosity of my Dad!  He paid for the repairs for me - for which I am most thankful and he will probably be getting a big, delicious, chocolate cake from me and Malissia!  :)  After the throttle body was replaced there was nothing else wrong with it.  Of course, Toyota came back and said there was no recall on 04 Toyota Camry's - not even the V6's!  So...mute point.  I'll let God take care of them!  :)  He's good at that!  :)

K.  Bye now!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Post Remodel...for now

I have a few updates to share with you on Malissia's (aka the Guest) bathroom.

If you remember from my last post...THIS was the before:

And here we are now...

Standing at the door...looking directly into the bath

New light and mirror - LOVE!!!

Other view of new light and mirror

Wall of pictures next to toilet - these are the pics that came with the frames...we do NOT know these people!  LOL!

Another view of the sink side

The infamous BUTTERFLY-sorry it's blurry!

I apologize for the lighting again because all I had on hand were 2 25watt bulbs that would fit.  I'm going to go buy the 60watt versions this afternoon!  :)

This afternoon we will have the towel rack hung under the butterfly.  If you look closely you will see where we began to hang this, but the anchors that came with it were tiny and fell into the sheetrock.  At 12:00am this was not something we wanted to mess with, so we called it quits.

A big shout out to Papa Gourd (Gerard) for all his hard work.  Without him we would not have managed to hang the new mini-blinds, the light, the toilet paper holder or the hand towel and towel racks.  NOR would we have the doors hung with new hinges and handles!  Or the cute new robe hook that you can see in the third picture showing the mirror and light as viewed from the toilet looking into the hallway.  THANK YOU PAPA G!

Mawmaw Kay is planning on getting a pretty table in black with a couple of drawers and a shelf to sit next to the wall between the sink and the cabinets.  This should give Malissia some much needed countertop space for her dainty grooming needs!  ;)  A great BIG thanks to Mawmaw Kay for this sweet, special & thoughtful gift!

I still have a few more things I want to accomplish over the next couple of weeks to make this room "finished".  I will hang crown molding around the ceiling, add some molding to the door faces to give them more of a "custom" look, and then get a new floor.  But for right now...we are finished and I am happy with the results.  So is Malissia - which is the most important objective!  :)

K.  Bye now!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Guest Bath...

WOW!  It's been a LONG time since I posted anything.  It's hard to believe it is already February 2013!  Time is flying and I am finding it hard to keep up.

Well, some good news and some not so good news.

First, the good news.  Dad came by my house and trimmed up all my trees (there are a LOT of trees in my yard - like 14+ pecans, a couple of oaks, a sycamore, and I don't know what else!  One of the oaks and the sycamore were in my front yard.  WERE.  Not any more.  He cut those babies down!  He said the sycamore was only good for filling my garage and patio with leaves and the oak looked like it was dying, so better to get rid of it now.  I still have one very large, very beautiful oak on the other side of my driveway....  Anyway...what surprised me the most was how much bigger my front yard looks now that I have no trees in the front yard!  It's awesome!  Thanks, Dad!  Great job!

Second, the not so good news.  Malissia's car broke down the other day.  Apparently the throttle body is jammed.  After doing a bit of research, it appears that this is a recall item on 04 Toyota Camry's with a V6.  I have an 04 Camry with a 4 cylinder, so guess what that means?  Right - no recall for my car.  Can anyone explain to me how different a throttle body is in a V6 and a 4 cylinder?  I'm not the smartest cookie in the box, and I certainly know very little about cars, but the throttle body is part of the acceleration mechanism.  I don't see how it is immediately affected by how fast the car can go and how quickly it can get there.  I realize that they do work together, but how the throttle body of a V6 can have problems while the 4 cylinder cannot...?  It would seem that I am not the only one with this question, or this problem.  Several websites have complaints about the same problem with the 4 cylinder.  Grrr....  Well, anyway - I wrote the Toyota manufacturer and hope to hear back from them soon.  I don't expect much, but I am praying about it and will leave it in God's hands.  If it doesn't get worked out it'll cost almost $1,500 to repair.  The dealership has advised me that this repair will only get the engine to stay on long enough for them to decide if there is any other problem.  As it stands, with the jam, when you turn on the car it revs up really fast and loud (even though you don't press the gas or brake) and then it dies quickly.  Scary!  They cannot keep the car going long enough to do diagnostics and see if there is any other problem with the car!  Grrr...!

Last of all, I have decided I'll have to put aside my dreams of remodeling my bathroom for now (money issues and all that!).  So I have decided to update Malissia's!  :)  She is one very happy girl!  However, her bathroom is also the guest bathroom, so everything had to be okayed through me.   Here is a picture of her bathroom BEFORE the renovations began, but WITH the new shower curtain and floor mats she picked.

Lime Green and Aqua Blue with Black & Silver accents is what we want! is a pic once we stripped out the bathroom walls, sanded, washed, kiltzed where needed, and filled in all the holes in the wall!  Sorry about the lighting - that fixture had to come down, too!

Thank goodness the linen closet is neat!
Here we are now...almost finished with the painting...just one more coat on the walls behind and across from the sink and some cutting in on the same walls.

Looking good!
Again, sorry about the lighting.  Once the painting is finished, we'll rehang the doors with black hinges and door knobs to match her black shower curtain hooks, put up the new (brushed nickel) towel bars and toilet paper holder, hang her new wall accessories (black picture frames, a brightly colored metal butterfly, a beautiful mirror with a silver frame, and her new chandelier...

I am unable to post a picture of the chandelier for some reason, so here is a link to it.  Just keep in mind we picked out the brushed nickel version.  Perfect!

I still need to buy her a new mini blind in white - the cream one isn't going to cut it anymore.  And soon I'll get the floor redone...maybe next month.   Here's what I'm looking at...

All White tile at Lowe's
 But...I like this one, too...

Black & White tile from Lowe's
 So, as you can see, there are still a few more decisions to make.  Hopefully everything but the floor will be completed this week.  Wish me luck!

And PLEASE help me pray about that Toyota issue!

K.  Bye, now!