(This is a picture that I found on the internet, but looked so much like my brother Jimmy did as a little guy...I had to put it on.  The tree reminded me of the way ours did growing up...lots and lots of icicles!) 

(below is a blog post that I made back in December of 2011 from my mom and dad's love story...thought you all might enjoy it again.  Mom shared this event with me...)

A Wonderful Christmas

The beds are warm  and cozy, the sugar plums are dancing in the heads and the reindeer are a
stirring outside.  Well that really could be what's happening, right?  

Let's back up a ways...Linda and Sondra, along with Jimmy and Larry, were put to  bed on Christmas Eve knowing that the morning could be bringing them wonderful surprises.  Not sure if they were dreaming about those things, but do know that they went to bed thinking about that.  As for the reindeer...I'm sure there were some of those stirring somewhere...maybe not outside their house, but
the patch of woods up the road could very well have a couple of 'em playing reindeer games or something.
Back to the  kids...they were all sleeping soundly in their beds...or...were they?  Willie and Helen had been so worn out from all the goings on the night before, they were sleeping extra sound tonight.  At first they didn't hear what was going on in the living room, but something definitely was going on!  I
think Paula heard the noise, and it may have been what woke her up...she began to fuss a little bit, which in turn woke up Helen.  She shook Willie and told him she heard something in the other room.  It was 3 in the morning...what in the world?  They both got very quiet and listened intently at the clanging and thumping, and began to smile as they realized the noise wasn't something scary at all.

Out in the living room there arose such a clatter...Helen picked up Paula, then followed Willie in to see what was the matter.  When what to their wondering eyes should appear?  Sweet little Jim Bo in his red wagon left under the tree.  He was all cuddled up in it, and falling back to sleep.  Willie gently picked Jimmy up and carried him back to his bedroom, and put him in the bed with Larry.  The other kids were still sleeping soundly and didn't know about the commotion ...they would be waking up in a few hours to find their presents under the tree.  But for now, they continued to sleep like little angels.

Paula fell back to sleep with no problem, and so did her mommy and daddy.  It felt as if they had just gone to sleep, when they again heard the pitter patter of little feet heading to the living room.  Linda came running in to their bedroom saying, "Santa came!  Santa came!  Come See!"  So, they got out of bed and headed to the couch to watch their precious kids with their treasures.

The stockings that were once in a row by the tree, were now strewn on the floor with the oranges and apples rolling out.  Linda was sitting at her new little table and chairs serving pretend tea in her toy cups.  She was so excited that Santa had been there last night.  Jimmy was back in his little red  wagon and was asking daddy to pull him around the house.  Larry was putting on his coat and opening the front door so he could go outside to ride his new bike...he couldn't believe he actually had his very own bike to ride around.  Sondra had wanted this bride doll for so long ...she was
beautiful. She was so happy to be holding the doll she had dreamed of having as her own.  What a wonderful Christmas!

Helen and Willie sighed ... it felt good to see your kids so happy!  Helen would start Christmas dinner and Willie would pull Jim Bo in his Wagon and watch Larry ride his new bike back and forth in the living room because the weather outside was frightful.  Sondra and her new bride doll would sit at Linda's new table and chairs and have a cup of tea.

Yes, it was a wonderful
What are you thankful for today?  I'm sure you would start with things like  home; family; faith; jobs...the list goes on and on.  This time of year is a great time to look in your life and just be a "noticer"...Notice your  blessings...don't take them for granted.  We often get into a rut in our lives and our blessings go unnoticed and in some cases we skip the blessings and start blaming others when our level of "blessings" wane.  What a sad way to be.  I'd much rather be a noticer than a blamer. Being thankful makes my heart happy...naming those things that have brought and continue to bring happiness in my life helps me realize just how blessed I am.

Granted...we "should" live in a state of thankfulness everyday...but what's wrong with taking the time during this season of the year to say out loud or type on Facebook some things that come to mind?  I say nothing is wrong with being thankful EVER.  I get a little "testy" when I see folks get on their bandwagon about things like this on the social network.  They have a right to post or not post whatever they want, so why would they be upset over the focus on thankfulness during the Thanksgiving Season?  I would venture to guess that they do NOT have a happy heart because a thankful heart is a happy heart.

Oh my goodness...did I just get on my bandwagon about other people getting on their bandwagon?  Well...just know this...I'm thankful for you, whether that's something you approve of or not!  :-)

Starting today, I am going to post more frequently in my blog.  What better place to begin again than with the man in this picture.  This is Bobby...my husband, my confidant, and my best friend.  I don't use those words lightly...I say them with all sincerity, knowing that he feels the same about me.  What better relationship to have...giving of yourself to another person knowing in your heart of hearts that it is reciprocated.  For those of you that don't know us very well...we both come from broken marriages and our relationship did not start with the best of circumstances.  It was a very difficult time, and one that we would hope will never be repeated in our lifetime for anyone.  Over the past ten plus years, we have learned so much about forgiveness and what it means to begin again.  Not easy, but so thankful that we were granted love and forgiveness so that we could do the same with others.  Actually even if we weren't forgiven by others...we still would forgive so that we could move on and glorify the One who made us.

There are so many characteristics to cover when sharing about who Bobby is, my post would be way too long if I were to speak on all of them.  I am thankful that he doesn't expect me to understand "everything" about him...just to love him in the same way God loves him.  Love him not because he is perfect...but love him in the midst of his imperfection.  As I type this...I know he loves me in the same way, because believe you me, I am far from perfect. 

He is a very giving man who has a servants heart...as seen here when I snapped a picture of him bringing me my Sunday morning coffee.  He never says, "Hey Old Lady...bring me some coffee", he makes sure I am taken care of...not just with my hot coffee, but with the way he respects me.  You will never hear disrespectful "terms" for wife coming out of his mouth...he loves me too much to use those.  It grieves his heart to hear those terms from other men when referring to their wives.

Bobby is a deep thinker...he spends a big part of his day deep in thought.    He spends that thought life, not on trivial things, but on things that matter.  He reads books that help him grow as the giving person he is.  He has his Kindle Fire with him wherever he goes and if there is a free moment, you will see him reading and enriching his life with a great book.  He feels things deeply and is misunderstood at times because of this.  He loves people so much and wants them to be everything they are meant to be.  By being where you are supposed to be and doing what you are supposed to be doing, you can have a happy and fulfilled life.

Bobby is one of the best "singers" I've ever known...this is an older video of him doing one of my very favorite songs.  Gosh I love this man!

Why would I include this picture when talking about Bobby?  Those that know Bobby, don't have to ask, because they know how much he enjoys to eat.  But this picture is more than that, it is his willingness to pose for any picture I ask him to.  Have you ever heard the term that someone is a "good sport"?  Well, Bobby is probably one of the best sports of anyone I have ever met.  I am not going to post all the pictures that show this trait in action, but there are numerous pictures that have him dressed in all sorts of "get-ups" because someone asked him to help them out.  He doesn't have a bashful bone in his body and because of that, he has been called on more times than not to be some sort of "character".  I will post one more picture of this though that his son recently posted on Facebook to show how long this has been going on...

This is Bobby many years ago (notice the glasses and mullet).  Not sure what exactly was going on here, but I do know he was being a good sport and acting goofy for the picture.  He has the ability to make people smile by being silly...especially the grandkids.  He will cause those precious belly laughs to happen when he is acting the fool with them.  He is not always "silly" with them though, he understands that life is not always silly, but there are times when being serious is important. 

He loves to laugh and when something is funny...then it is really funny to him.  Check it out...

As I said earlier, there is not room enough to share all there is to know about Bobby Maupin.  He is a great person...and if you get to know him, you can't help but love what he stands for and how big he loves others.

Someday, we may write a book about what it means to come through on the other side of heartache to a life that is strong and full of love and forgiveness.  There is happiness on that other side...and love...the Godly kind.

Let me leave you with one last "good sport" video of this man that makes me smile on a daily basis.  Watch him ride the bull.   I'd rather him ride the bull than be full of bull...haha!  (Side note:  Sometimes he's full of it!)

I was going through my editing tool for this part of my website and I noticed that I had a draft that was saved simply titled, "Helen."  It took me a second to remember why I had saved a draft title called Helen, and then it came  to me.  The first month that I started this website, I had a great idea to have moms write love letters to their kids.  They were to have a picture and a great story to go along with it.  Of course, as I started planning, the first mom that I thought of to ask to submit a love letter to her children was my mom.  I saved this draft titled "Helen" and knew that I could get that story from her at a later date.  As the deadline approached for me to start putting these love letters on the site, I asked mom if she had hers written yet and she said no because she didn't know what to say.  She said, "You go ahead and write it because you know me well enough to know what I would say to your brothers and sisters."  I know that she would have written it, if she could have, but had already been through a difficult surgery and was in the Nursing Home.  I told her that they would rather hear it come from her  and just said I would help her anytime she was ready.  

Here we are, a little over a year later...and  mom is gone.  I can't get that love letter to her kids in her words like I had planned.  Well, when I realized that this draft titled "Helen" was intended to be a love letter from Helen to her kids, I started trying to think what mom would say to them.  Well....Larry, Sondra, Linda, Jimmy and Paula (me) - you all could probably write this, but I think you would be harder on yourselves than you need to be, so I am going to do my best to say what I think mom would have said.

Larry - My firstborn, oh how I loved you. The first time I looked into those deep brown eyes, I fell in love.  I knew that being a mom was special because of how you made me feel.  You have always been strong, but being your mom also meant I knew that sometimes you pretended to be brave when really you were a little scared and needed me.  I didn't mind being needed like that...I actually loved it.  You also gave me my first grandchild...and everyone knows how much I love my grandchildren.  I thought being a mom was the best feeling in the world and then I felt that Mawmaw kind of love and oh my goodness.  I never doubted how much you loved me...ever!  You took me into your home when it became too difficult to live alone, which couldn't have been easy, but you shared a little piece of your world with me and I am thankful for that.  Then when I made the move back to the Nursing Home, you still brought me a cup of coffee every morning.  What a great son I was blessed with that would take the time every morning before he went to put in his day at the office to bring me a cup of coffee.  I'll be honest with you, sometimes that cup of coffee got cold and I didn't drink it...but it wasn't the coffee I looked forward to everyday...it was you.  I love you Larry Buck!

Sondra - On the day you were born, I was so excited to have a little girl.  You had the biggest ole blue eyes I had ever seen and I couldn't wait to make little girl clothes for you. You were so smart and even had to be your older brother's interpreter when folks couldn't understand what he was trying to say...you always understood him.  As you grew into a beautiful young woman, I knew that I would have to keep an eye on all those boys that would be calling.  I stood by the door when they brought you home from a date and turned the porch light on and off because I didn't want them trying anything with my girl.  Being the oldest daughter couldn't have been easy on you and I know I was hard on you at times.  Always remember I loved you more than I can say here...I trusted you with your siblings because you were not only responsible, but you loved them almost as much as I did.  When you graduated as Salutatorian of your Senior class, your dad and I couldn't have been prouder.  We knew you were smart, now everyone else did too.   As I grew older, you knew how much I loved to make quilts and would keep your eye out for supplies and patterns...that was so thoughtful.  If I didn't tell you enough....I love you Sondra!

Linda - You have always had the bragging rights of being the only child that your dad and I actually "planned" to have.  When your dad came home from the service, we decided it was time to have another child.  He had not been around as much as he wanted to be when the other two were babies and he wanted to experience that too.  When you were born, I thought you were the cutest little baby.  Those brown eyes just shot out at me and stole my heart. You were always so special to me and there was something about your personality that made your peers want to be like you.   You were my second daughter and I was overprotective of you too...I wanted so much for you to be everything you were capable of being.  You were head strong and there was no talking you out of getting married before graduation.  Being a little stubborn served you well in your life though.  It helped you to get that college degree by driving 2 hours everyday for college classes.  It helped you to take in two sweet boys as foster children and then to adopt them when the time was right.  It gave you strength as you tried for 10 years to get pregnant to finally see that happen and have that little boy.  It meant that you would be one of the first I called on when I needed something and you would stay with me at the hospital the night I slipped into something even the doctors couldn't explain.  Your name was one of the last names I would say and that is fitting since you were one of the first I called when I was not feeling well.  For those reasons and so many more...I love you Linda Bug!

Jimmy - Two years after Linda, came a surprise little boy that lit up my life.  You were always such a cute little tow headed boy, with a voice of an angel.  You were singing for people even when you were in grade school.  I always knew in my heart you would be something, and something your were.  Some of my fondest memories were of me and your dad going on those family vacations with you and Becky.  Those were times that I would laugh until I cried...you all knew how to make me laugh.  I remember the first song you wrote and all the many songs that you wrote after that one.  You have never given up on your dream...your songwriting has been recognized by folks you would have never thought of when you were a teen.  I can't think of you without telling you how proud I am that you followed the call on your life to preach.  You are such a good preacher and many have the assurance of heaven because of listening to your messages and praying.  I know that when you prayed with me and for me, the love that you had for your mom was evident.  I enjoyed every time I was able to spend time with you because you had a way to always make me smile.   I love you Jim Bo!

Paula - My baby girl...another surprise...but one that has been wonderful.  I know that I probably spoiled you a little more than the other kids, but I knew you would be my last.  You always tried to be a good little girl and therefore you were pretty shy as a little one.  I worked and you had to go to a sitter, but seemed to adjust when you needed to.  Before your dad passed, he and I moved to be closer to you and our doctors.  I am so glad that I was able to spend that time with you and your little family.  I know that was a lot of responsibility when you had to make sure we were taken care of, but you did it without ever complaining and we noticed.  It was during that time in my life, that you would stop by my duplex and we would visit until your baby boy got out of school...I loved that.   Even after I moved back to my home town, I knew that I could call you on the phone and you always had time for me.  I'm thankful that when you went through a rough spot in your life, you knew that I was on your side and loved you through it all.  I looked forward to those visits you made to my apartment, Larry's house and then to the Nursing Home.  They just never seemed to last as long as I wanted.  But if I had my way, all my kids and their families would've lived right next door so I could see them all the time.  I love you Paula Pete.

I hope I did mom justice in sharing how she loved all of her kids.  Larry, Sondra, Linda and Jimmy...I love you too!
There is something to be said when a family loves their momma as much as this family does.  We don't all get to see her as often as we would like, but when it comes to making sure she knows that we love her and that she is taken care of... as well as having everything she needs...there is no comparison. 

She has always "ruled the roost" in our family and we have always known we had to take her seriously when she spoke.  If not, you better believe we heard about it LOL. 

We love her more than words can say and there is no doubt in her heart that her kids, grandkids, great grandkids and great great grandkids want her to feel at peace in this knowledge. That is why what I'm going to share is so "crazy", but (because we have experienced many Tollison episodes over the years) is not surprising.
Mom called me a couple of days ago and said she was thinking that she could possibly be getting the flu again.  She lives in a Nursing Home and the flu was taking it's toll on many residents.  My brother, Larry, got a call at 3a that night from the Nursing Home telling him that they were taking mom by ambulance to Delta Community Hospital in Sikeston, MO.   She had experienced more flu symptoms and was very sick and it was decided that the hospital was where she needed to be.  I called that evening to the emergency room and was told by the nurse that she would get back to me when she found out what was going on (that never happened).  Larry had been told when he left mom at the emergency room (she was asleep and resting) that they were moving her to a regular room.

Fast forward to this morning...Larry called to let mom know that he would be coming up to the hospital today.  When the telephone operator answered, she had no record of any Helen Tollison ever being there.  She transferred him to the emergency room and again no Helen Tollison was there.  He informed them that he had left her there the previous evening and to check again....making sure that they had the correct spelling.  He said, "This is her son, Larry Tollison and she is my mom, Helen Tollison...T-O-L-L-I-S-O-N."  And if you know my brother, you know that he is getting pretty irritated at this moment, besides being concerned as to what the heck has happened to his mom.  He even made the statement to them, "I was in this hospital with a gunshot wound 45 years ago, and now I know why I have never used it since."  (they lose people)

Finally after using a few choice words, Larry got the information that he needed from the person on the other end of the phone.  They had transferred mom by ambulance to St Francis Hospital in Cape Girardeau, MO.  They did this without letting anyone from her family know.  They had my number and they had Larry's number, but didn't call either one of us.  The way we found out was Larry calling the hospital and causing his blood pressure to rise in the process.  Why in the world wouldn't they call?  

Larry called the Nursing Home and discovered that the hospital had called them, but then again....no call to the family.  He straighted that out with them, helping them understand that we need to know when plans change for our mom...regardless of the time of day or night that it happens. 

These are the "Tollison" moments that our family eventually laugh about.  This will surely be one that we will share..."Hey...remember the time when the hospital lost mom? (imagine the Chris Farley skit on Saturday Night Live) that WASN'T awesome!"
Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.
George Eliot

Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile.  William Cullen Bryant

I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air.  Nathaniel Hawthorne

Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.  Emily Bronte

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.  Stanley Horowitz

Neither spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.  John Donne

To end on a funny one...

Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the birds change color and fall from the trees." David Letterman
Wow!  What a trip this has been and thank you Jesus for being there every step of the way.  I could stop right there and you would know that I've been through an experience that I was not expecting, yet realize that my faith in God's healing power has been astounding.  But, you know me and how I like to expound on stuff...so...we will start with the picture that says a thousand words...
I very rarely have aches and pains, and when I do...I believe and trust that God will take care of the situation.  I learned recently that sometimes that healing comes from the skilled hands of a surgeon.  I am not someone that cries "wolf", so when I have a severe pain in my side that can't be explained by something I've eaten or by strain from exercising...it probably means something.  When I was sent home from the emergency room on Wednesday evening with pain medicine and told that nothing was wrong...I was a little confused.  I was told to follow up with a Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine Physician and made an appointment to see someone on that Friday.  The doctor that the ER referred me to couldn't see me, but I was able to get into another doctor on that Friday, who after examining me immediately admitted me to the hospital.

My hospital experience was nothing less than a miracle, starting with the doctor that was on call for the one that I had seen in the doctor's office.  She turned out to be one in the same Physician that had been recommended to me while in the ER, that couldn't see me earlier. 

She immediately ordered a CT Scan and had a very good surgeon join my case.  The CT Scan showed that NOTHING was wrong...again I was confused.  Both the surgeon and the gastroenterologist were not satisfied with stopping there and sending me home because I was in so much pain.  They ordered another test which would show how well my gall bladder was functioning.  On Saturday, this new test was performed and it was horrible...they shot some kind of thick stuff in my IV that would cause my gall bladder to react and show how well my gall bladder was working and show whether there was a blockage.  I laid flat on my back for over an hour while they studied my gall bladder.

The test showed that my gall bladder was functioning at a  very low percentage and needed to come out.  The anesthetist came to my room on Saturday evening and told my hubby and I that I would be having surgery on Sunday morning at 8am.  I was so thirsty and was going to be without water for another evening, so that I could have surgery without complications.  So, back to ice chips and another long night.

I had surgery the next morning as planned and woke up in my room sick at my stomach.  Bobby said that he was not prepared to see me like that.  He said I looked dead...it kind of took him aback.  As the day wore on and I started coming around, my surgeon came in and explained my surgery and said I could go home later that day if I felt like it.  I made sure I felt like it! :-)

A week and a half later I had my follow up appointment with my surgeon and I can go back to work.  It is amazing to me how quickly your body can heal.  I am doing really well and am able to go back to regular activity as long as I rest when needed and don't lift anything weighing over 10 pounds

Sometimes when you have pain in your side and the tests show that nothing is wrong...Sometimes, it means there is still something wrong.  Believe me...I've been there.

Moms...I know you try to think of everything.  From making sure your kids have clothes to wear, food to eat and entertainment...you do so much for those babies. 

Something that we don't always think about is checking the house for spiders or getting your house sprayed.  For some reason, this year there are an abundance of brown recluse spiders. 

This is a picture of a brown recluse spider...just a little larger than a quarter...but can do so much damage.  One of it's characteristics is the fiddle that is located on the top part of the head.  Two of my sisters have been bitten by one of these at some point in their life and told me it was painful and ate away the skin.

One of my grand daughters, Blythe, was bitten by a brown recluse over memorial day weekend and was critical for a time.  Her mom and dad were so concerned and did all the right things, but once that spider did it's damage, they had to watch it closely.  The doctors had varying diagnosis as to what was going on, which eventually would lead them to take her back to the emergency room.  When the wound began to change dramatically, they knew something just wasn't right.   Below are some of the progression pictures.  Let me caution you that they are rather graphic.

She was in the hospital for 3 days with IV antibiotics for the infections caused from the bite and closely monitored.  The medication was hard on her tummy, but she was a trooper.  While she was in the hospital, her brothers and sisters came and did a talent show, which made her smile. 

This picture was taking on the day that they released her from the hospital.  She was sooooooooo happy to see her brothers and sisters...who are a constant entertainment for her.  She left the hospital with her finger still being protected with the hand guard as you see in the picture.  She had no idea how many people had been praying for her...she just knew that she was headed home to be with her family.  The prognosis changed from a grim one to there would be no permanent damage to her finger.  Below is what it looked like after being home a couple of days.

When we visited with Blythe this past week...this is how we found her.  Happy and a perfectly healed finger.  Wow...all of that caused by the bite of a brown recluse spider.

I did a Love Letters From Mom Series in February and meant to post this for Mother's Day and didn't get it done. Here you can find all the letters in one post... this way you can find the one that you want to view easily.  It is a slide show, so wait until the one you are wanting to see appears... then click on it to be taken to that post.  Enjoy! 
Also, if you have a story about going through any type of difficulty while raising your kids and wouldn't mind sharing it with me...I would love to see if it is something that my readers would benefit from reading.  I want you to show how you came through that time in your life with positive results.  I already have a few that have come in to me.  Please send to paula@paulamaupin.com 
I am starting a new series soon!  Thanks so much!  Paula
Pinterest-Lindsey Jacobson,learningaswearegrowing.blogspot.com
8-Oz. Color Splash! Washable Tempera Paint (Pack of 12) Using Washable Tempura Paints make this project an easy one to clean up after.

Washable Tempura Paints
Paint brushes
Wipes or a wet hand towel
Paper to apply prints onto

Step 1: Choose your colors for the flowers.   Place your hand and foot prints as shown. You can use regular baby wipes to clean off the paint but a wash rag would be far more economical.

Step 2: Draw in your stems. You can try a regular foam paint brush. They can be found at Michaels, at Target and Walmart. Make sure to wash these out ASAP, even just soaking them will make them last longer.