On September 21st, 2011, Gramme left this world and entered a perfect one.

We love you Gramme.  You were so funny, easy going and happy-go-lucky.  You loved your daughters and grandchildren with your entire heart and we are all truly blessed to call you "grandma" and "mom."

It was such a blessing to have celebrated your 80th birthday with you this past July and we will always have that memory to keep you near.

I'll always remember sitting on the porch swing with you for an entire afternoon talking about birds, family and your fond memories.  I'll never forget you singing "On Top of Old Smokey" to me countless times when I was young, and especially the time just recently on that porch swing.

I'll always cherish how you sung to me and painted.  I will always have my stack of papers titled "Gramme's Songs" that I typed up and printed out when I was younger.  I'll always know what to do if a bear is chasing me too ;)  I'll remember getting coconut shrimp with you at Coconuts on the beach.

You are now with your Father, your parents and Papa.  You're happy and smiling, just like you were here and I can hear you singing to us.  We love you.

Shirley May Hanson :: July 31, 1931 - September 21, 2011



Our dear old Grandma turned 80 years old this past July.  Or 90 years old if you ask her!  For the second time this summer we flew down to Florida to celebrate with family and friends.  Our trip started off with my mom and Aunt Jackie wanting to take us to "the place right off the highway by the river will the alligators..."  Yes, it was exactly what you're picturing...

I really wanted to go on one of these things, but sadly, we missed the boat... literally, haha.

The birthday girl and my mom!

The crocodiles alligators were huge!  Very pre-historic looking.  And yes, I thought they were crocodiles the whole time until Ryan informed me that they were in fact, alligators.  For some reason, I picture alligators as being bright green, not brown, right?!

Frog legs... check.  Catfish... check.  Alligator... check.  No joke - I ate it all.

Ryan the Lion, as my grandma so affectionately refers to my husband as.

Beautiful baby Carrick.  I seriously could not get enough of him...

... and he couldn't get enough of AnnMarie ;)

Cake balls!  And huge, amazing ones at that.  They were probably a good two inches thick and they. were. to. die. for.

The sisters - Aunt Mary, my mom, Aunt Jackie and my Grandma.

The original cousins.

And the crazy but oh-so-blessed people who married into our family.

I absolutely love this picture of my mom and grandma.  It really captures her whole birthday celebration.  She was so simply happy that we were all there to be with her.

CarolAnn definitely wins best birthday card.  She works at a pre-school so she's got the hook-up for all things glitter.

The favorite picture of the trip is below!  My mom, Jackie and AnnMarie painted a picture frame for Grandma and little dishes for the rest of us.  That's a story in and of itself, but we'll just leave it as me getting several phone calls from AnnMarie asking what my favorite colors are and explaining that the giggling in the background is my mom and Jackie drinking their margaritas straight from the shakers... :)

Anyway, this picture cracks us up.  My grandma is so happy-go-lucky and even though she may not always be completely clued in, she's a riot to talk to and makes you feel like the most special person in the world, which she is to us.

The day we left, my family decided to get up early and watch the sunrise on the beach.  Perfect ending to a wonderful trip.  Especially the part where we ate breakfast at the Waffle House in Cocoa Beach right after this.

I wanted to make something to give to my grandma, aunt and mom, so I put together one of these photo books and sent it to down to Florida.  The best part is, when my Grandma got the book, she was laughing so hard at the picture on the cover that she didn't open it up to look at the rest!  Hopefully she has since then.  Happy 80th birthday Grandma!  We love you.



The morning of my birthday this past July started out like this...

Very sweet, considering it meant Ryan waking up early to run to Starbucks and grab some breakfast and coffee.  Getting ready in the morning with that was much more enjoyable than the usual.  After that it was off to work since turning an age in your mid-twenties means life pretty much carries on as usual for the day.  Except for that wonderful little wake-me-up :)

That night we had a mini-celebration with friends, my dad, and my brother.  Where was my mom, you ask?  Well, she was in Florida with her mom.  She came back two days later and we had an amazing dinner thanks to her, but the little fact that she missed the day of troubled her to no end!  You know what though?  That is the FIRST and ONLY one she's missed in the past 26 years.  Awesome track record for a parent if you ask me.  Plus, she was taking care of her mom, my grandma, watching her while she really needed it.  She needed to be there and she has the biggest heart and it really shows.  After all, it's about celebrating with family that matters more the specific day.

As for the loot?  Here are a few of my favorite things:

"Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte from my mom.  Recently finished "Jane Eyre" and loved it, so I'm excited for my next classic.

Fig Balsamic Vinegar from Williams-Sonoma from my brother.  Pure deliciousness.

The Baker's Assortment form Penzeys from the hubs.  Cinnamon and cocoa and vanilla?  Oh my!  Time to get my fall baking on.

The one thing I did ask for... coupons from the husband.  A few years ago, Ryan made some of these and they are one of the best gifts I've gotten.  This year, I asked him to save some dollars and splurge some favors!  And he really did such a cute job... even getting little paper holders and sticking not one, not two, but three(!) foot rub ones in there.  Major points scored.  They were very creative this time too... one for a night of my TV shows, one for a night on the town together, one for a home-cooked meal, my choice.

I also got this awesome perfume from my parents, who got it in Florida.  It's all natural and smells wonderful.  I don't wear actual perfume very often, so this little case of the good stuff is perfect for me.

Now... look at these earrings!  They are the sweetest things I've seen in awhile.  I actually spotted them about a year ago and have been pining over them ever since but wasn't planning on getting them for myself.  My mom had no idea about any of this - I guess they were meant to be.

Also got these fun and festive margarita stirrers and charms.  I love the little cactus ones... I also love an excuse to make margaritas.  Perfect.

Overall, my birthday celebration was very nice, it was the people who made it.  Another year in my mid-twenties!  Weird stuff...