Tag Archives: grandaddy

Letter G #AtoZChallenge

Continuing my theme of a memoir encyclopedia, I present my Letter G entries.


When I say I’m a game player, what comes to mind? Maybe you think I’m a gamer, a video game junkie sitting in front of my TV screen for hours, battling imaginary foes and collecting points. Or perhaps you think I play games with the heart, you know, those people who play the dating game so well that they have swarms of people falling for them. You might even think I relish in the thrill of a competitive athletic game, a sporting match where I’m a member of a team seeking the next goal to win the game.

Well…hate to burst your bubble, but I’m none of these. I’m a board game player, and I enjoy a good game night more than your average person. My go-to board game is Settlers of Catan, and unless I’m playing against someone who’s really good, I usually win. I’m not trying to brag, but it’s true. I also enjoy a raucous game of Cranium or Quelf, but for those, you need a large group of people who want to play it. Half-assed Cranium is worse than no Cranium. Dice games are great, too, and don’t require a lot of prep work. At the moment, Quixx and Liar’s Dice are my faves- Quixx is better for small groups and Liar’s Dice for large ones.

The ultimate party game is Cards Against Humanity, and it’s a definite crowd pleaser. Someone’s bound to ask to play it at one of my parties, and then the fun really begins. Other than the sixth expansion that recently came out, I have the original Black Box and all the expansion sets, plus some hand-written doozies that I’ve gathered over the years…mostly inside jokes, but when you’re on the inside, they’re pretty side-splitting. If you’re not okay with being offended, Cards probably isn’t for you. You’re better off playing it’s milder cousin Apples to Apples, which is fun, too, but definitely doesn’t get the people going like Cards does. A relatively new game that I absolutely love is Codenames, which I love so much that I’ve bought three versions of the game. Codenames is a game in which two opposing teams are trying to guess words based on one-word clues given by the clue giver. I love this game because it requires you to be creative with your word choices and because every game is a new challenge. However, I find it’s better when you play with people you know, because they just get you and are more likely to guess based on your clues. Playing with new people can be fun, too, but it’s more tricky.

I’m always on the lookout for new games to try…any suggestions?

Good Grades

I was the kid who always got good grades. For me, a B on a report card might as well have been an F, because earning one was like I had failed at life. I’m pretty sure my obsession with getting good grades came from my parents’ high expectations of me. They knew I was capable and wouldn’t accept anything less than the best. Their pressure was sometimes overt, but mostly it was this unspoken expectation that I needed to always do my best, and my best was an A.

School was my thing, and more than anything else, it was how I identified myself. Other people identify as soccer players or piano players, but My identity was rooted in the fact that I was good in school. I enjoy learning for learning’s sake, but in school, it was more about getting the A. I knew how to play the game. I knew how to do just enough to earn the A. I have a photographic memory, so I would cram the night before and ace the test the next day, relying on my memory and deduction skills to get me through. A couple of weeks or months down the road, I didn’t really retain the information, unless it was something in which I was actually interested. In a way, I wish school hadn’t come as easily for me, because had I had to work at it more, I would be smarter and more knowledgeable now.

I carried this pressure to earn top marks with me into university, and while no longer pressured by my parents to earn good grades, I found myself stressed as I put more and more pressure on myself. I struggled a little bit, something that was brand new to me. High school was a cake walk, so when thrown into university classes where I was 1 in 100, where the professor didn’t know my name and couldn’t care less whether I came to class and succeeded, and where I actually had to study, I was out of my depth. Never having to struggle in high school meant that I was ill-equipped for the steep change in content and expectations. I faltered at first, earning my first D in a government class, which nearly killed me. Luckily, I was able to adapt to my new environment, and this early setback was just that, a setback. This bad grade made me work harder, and I ended up graduating Magna Cum Laude. Believe it or not, I am glad the D happened when it did. It put me in check knocked me down a peg or two, and was the lesson I needed in order to change.

Grad School

I began grad school more out of boredom than anything else. I had been teaching for four years in the same grade, and I needed a challenge. I’m not one of those people who is content doing the same thing forever. I like change, and I thrive on challenge. It seemed like a logical step that I’d go back to school. At first, I enrolled in the Curriculum & Instruction Master’s program, with the intention of becoming a Curriculum Coordinator in my school district. Shortly into my program, I had a conversation with Ann Smith, a trusted colleague and friend, who had recently been promoted to the Science Curriculum Coordinator position. Her recommendation was that I change my major to Educational Leadership, since it was a higher degree, and most likely one I’d need to have anyway for that position. But, I don’t want to be a principal. She assured me that I could still be a curriculum coordinator with that degree. Based on her recommendation, I enrolled in the Educational Leadership program.

Going back to school was enjoyable. I approached grad school with a more learning for learning’s sake perspective, and while it was tough, I excelled. Most classes were relatively easy for me, especially because I was actually interested in the content. I earned good grades, and which only fueled my desire for more A’s. One semester, near the end, I was under a lot of stress. I was working full time and taking a full course load. One of my classes was School Budgets, and it was kicking my ass. It was, by far, the hardest course yet. I can remember spiraling out with anxiety over an assignment one night. I was stressed to the max and I wanted to quit. I called my mom, and while pacing in the driveway with tears streaming down my face, I told her I was going to just drop out of grad school. This class was too hard, and there was no way I was going to get an A, and not getting an A would mess up my perfect 4.0 I had so far. She told me that it was okay if I didn’t get an A. She told me she was proud of me. And she told me that there’s no way I was going to quit; I was nearly done, and it cost way too much money. I finally calmed down, my mom having put things into perspective for me. I ended up finishing the assignment, and I actually did well. I made the A, and kept my 4.0.



Granddaddy and I had a special relationship. I was his baby girl, and he would have done anything for me. He and I were as much alike as we were different. Neither one of us ever met a stranger, and were known to strike up a conversation with literally anyone who’d listen. He was a country man at heart, and while I enjoyed it as a child, I’m more of a city girl.

I can remember riding in Granddaddy’s beat up old pick-up truck, sitting in the middle seat next to him. His favorite thing to do was to grab my knee, and using his thumb and pinky fingers (the only fingers he had left on that hand), he’d push as hard as he could, tickling me to no end. I’d laugh and squirm and beg him to stop. And he would. Until he did it again when I least expected it.

Grandaddy had a major sweet tooth and the table next to his recliner was always stocked with Tootsie Rolls, a box of Nilla Wafers, square caramels, M&M’s, and fun-size Snickers, 3 Musketeers, and Baby Ruth candy bars. Mamaw would get on his case constantly about it, but he’d just laugh and pop another Tootsie Roll in his mouth. Andrew and I only had to ask and he’d share with us in a heartbeat.

Growing up in the Great Depression, he was thrifty. He would reuse anything he could out on the farm in order for him not to have to buy it new. He’d wear his clothes until they were threadbare. It didn’t matter that my mom was always buying him new clothes- he wouldn’t wear them until the old ones were wore out. I remember being embarrassed of this quality as a pre-teen and teenager, when brand names and newness were so important to me. One day, my Granddaddy saw a pair of shoes that had been thrown out, and deeming them good enough to wear, he picked them up out of the trash heap and wore them. It didn’t matter that they were two sizes too big.

There wasn’t anything my Granddaddy couldn’t do. He was a great carpenter, and could build or fix anything. After their house burned down after an ex-employee set it on fire (in the middle of the night with me in it), he built their next house almost all by himself. My most favorite gift he ever gave me was a playhouse he’d built for me, complete with a door, siding, a window, and a real roof. It was very special, and I have many sweet memories in that place.

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

Letter F #AtoZChallenge

Letter F memoir encyclopedia entries on deck…


Family is important to me. And I don’t just mean my immediate family, but my extended family and friends who become your family, too. I love our family reunions every year, where all the brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandmas, and grandpas come together to catch up on life, share some good food (I have some really amazing cooks in my family), and spend a weekend playing and laughing together. They’re something I look forward to each and every summer.



Nowadays I’m a city girl, but growing up, I was a country girl at heart. My grandparents’ farm, where I spent countless days, was one of my favorite places. Their huge garden yielded enough corn, peas, watermelons, cantaloupes, strawberries, dewberries, okra, cucumbers, tomatoes, and more to last the year. We would help Granddaddy and Mamaw harvest the crops, and although we probably just got in their way, they humored us and let us be their helpers. One of my strongest memories on the farm was sitting on the front porch swing at dusk, swapping stories while we shelled peas and watched the sunset. We would work at it for hours and only make a dent in the pile.

My mamaw would can vegetables and fruit, make pickles and jam, and freeze corn so that they could have food year-round. I can still remember the Ball jelly jars lined up all along the kitchen counters, waiting for the hot, fresh-made jelly to be poured in. My favorite jam that she made was dewberry, but I loved strawberry, too.

One of mine and Andrew’s jobs was to fetch the eggs in the chicken coop out back. We loved to gather the eggs, counting them to see if there were more today than yesterday. The smells in the chicken coop bothered me much more than they bothered him.

Grandaddy had cows, too, and they wandered around the 300-acre property in search of grass and hay to munch. I don’t really remember feeding them with him (maybe that was Andrew’s domain), but I do remember piling into that old beat up blue Ford pick-up to go search the back half for a lost calf or cow who hadn’t come back in a while. We’d bump along the uneven dirt track, stopping only to run out and open and shut the gates. We’d wind past the fishing pond, the trash hole (a huge gaping hole in the earth where Grandaddy would throw out any trash that couldn’t be composted or burned), and the camp house. I knew every twist and turn in that road back then. Now, I’m sad to say, it’s a bit foggy.


My dad was a fishing kinda guy and would frequently enter (and even win) bass fishing tournaments across the state. I never went with him on his tournaments, but he would take us out in his bass boat to fish on Lake Somerville or Gibbon’s Creek. Fishing was something we really enjoyed as a family.

I remember all the things we’d have to do to get ready. We’d pack a cooler full of food…turkey and cheese sandwiches, chips and dip, Nutter Butter peanut patties, cold drinks, and fresh fruit. The boat was always washed and sparkly before we went out, something I never understood because it’s just gonna get wet. We’d load up the tackle boxes, get the rods and reels ready with fresh taut line, and make sure the life vests and towels were packed.

Once we were out on the lake, my favorite thing wasn’t the fishing (I usually got bored after an hour of sitting and waiting on a fish to bite my line). The thing I loved the most was when my dad would cruise around the lake in his lightning-fast boat, going so fast the nose would shoot up in the air, the skin on our faces would flap, and we would fear for our lives. When he knew he’d scared us properly, typically when my mom would yell, “Shit!” (and she didn’t curse), he’d slow down and crack up as my mom told her how he shouldn’t drive that fast and my brother and I begged him to do it again.

As we got older, our family fishing trips petered out, but every so often, I can persuade my dad to dust off the boat and take me out again. I always love packing our snacks for the trip, and I never, ever forget the Nutter Butter peanut patties. That would just be sacrilegious.


I identify as a foodie. This wasn’t always the case though. Growing up in small town America, I wasn’t exposed to many different types of cuisine. Other than Tex-Mex, Italian, and Chinese, I had only really ever had American food until I moved abroad. At first, I was timid about trying anything that didn’t resemble something I had seen or tasted before, but as time went on and I became more adventurous, I found the fun and excitement in trying new foods. Now some of my favorite foods were things I never thought I’d even try.

I like experimenting with new flavors when I’m cooking, and I relish in introducing my friends to new flavor combinations. With a more sophisticated pallet, I can sometimes decipher various flavors in the food I’m eating. A drawback of a more sophisticated pallet means I’m no longer satisfied with mediocre food. I want every meal to be deliciously pleasing. As a foodie, I’ve become that girl who photographs her food and puts it on Instagram. I know, I know, you’re rolling your eyes, but I’m not ashamed. Beautiful, delicious food should be shared.

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

In fourth grade, my teacher, Mrs. Decell, read aloud what would become one of my favorite books of all time, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg. If you haven’t read it, you should. It’s the tale of Claudia and Jamie, siblings from Connecticut who, due to the injustices of their world, run away to NYC and live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Throughout the story, you find out how the survived (and where they slept, ate, and showered) without getting caught. Along the way, they work to solve a mystery that takes them on an epic adventure.

I remember wishing I was Claudia, on this grand adventure. I didn’t want to run away, but the idea of living in a museum sounded like a lot of fun! I also enjoyed their resourcefulness; without much money, they managed to figure out how to stretch it to the fullest.

I read this book aloud each year to my classes (grades 3 and 4), and shared the magic with them. Some of my students loved it as much as I did, others didn’t, but they could see how special this book is to me. When my mom and I took a trip to NYC in 2014, I took her to the Met, and I was transported back to that fourth grade class and the excitement of that first reading as I took my mom to all of the places Claudia and Jamie visited, slept, ate, and showered in the book. It was perfect.

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]