Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Do you ever go weeks and nothing seems blog worthy and then you wake up in the morning with three posts you could easily pen in five minutes?  Maybe that’s just me. 

This is probably the last time I can get away with this subject as this boy is about to be a man.  And Grammy writing about him may not seem quite as cool.    I am not going to repeat his story…you can read it here or here.

There are more blog posts on my blog about him than any other subject.  He is the title of my holiday blog, he made me a Grammy, he has taught me life lessons, he and his Mom lived with us for six years, he has traveled with us from coast to coast, he has taught me that I just thought I understood love, he has made me prouder than proud, and has been my heart for almost thirteen years.  But he has also grown up.  Little’s do that.

But from that day in the delivery room in May of 1999 until I walked into Red Lobster on  Christmas Eve, he has taken my breath away.  This time it was different. 

We were running a little late and as we entered the room where the kids had a table, there sitting next to Amanda was this handsome 12 year old in a white button down shirt, with a nice sweater over it, clean shaven (yes he shaves) smiling at me.  Took my breath away…again.  So handsome, so twelve, so much my heart.

parker and hois mom

I remember the day my beautiful senior in high school told us she was pregnant.  I remember telling her we would all be fine.  Fine…what a inappropriate word.   We would all be BEYOND FINE.  This Baby That Changed Everything is  still changing our lives everyday. 
 I am so blessed to be his GRAMMY!

Grammy and Parker
                parker and grammy


Saturday, December 24, 2011


Alvin and Jack

There will be some new pictures tomorrow, but this was our trip to the movies last night.

Christmas 2011

This was going to be the year my Christmas letter died.

Who really wants to read about problems and heartaches, aches and pains?

Who really wants to hear how wonderful someone else's grandchildren are?
I do because I love nothing more than a good long newsy Christmas letter, but then I am not normal.
I have NEVER wanted to be guilty of being the "everything is over the top wonderful at our house' letter writer.

For the last three years I have blogged our lives so a Christmas letter seems to be repeat...But then I realize most of you are not blog readers.
If you really want to catch up you can always go to

http://teresa-grammygirlfriend.blogspot.com/ or http://grammyababychangeseverything.blogspot.com/ for my holiday blog.
That's where I log life weekly.

This last month has been the end of a very long year. I had my first tree decorating injury in probably 1,300 trees and 17 years.

It happened near the end of the season which was a blessing, but it has been a PAIN. I wish I could tell you I was stretching across a 24 foot tree, but I missed a step in a clients garage and my ankle may never be the same. Just happened to be at an orthopedic surgeons home.
It was ugly.

It caused me to miss work for the first time in all the years I have been in business. (And at the moment I cannot remember when I did not do trees)

My ankle was not broken, though some have told me that would have been better BUT it required an ER visit, crutches, a boot, and spending two weeks doing nothing more than elevating and icing. It is slowly healing but the emphasis is on slowly.

Never underestimate the value of ELVES (friends)! My elves carried on and finished the season. They decorated my home more beautifully than its ever been plus took care of my every need.

See how wordy I am...There is no such thing as me writing a short letter. I really had one purpose in this letter and that was to share a story from the summer.
Before I do I will catch you up on US!
Rehab would sum our lives up in 2011. When I wrote last year Jack had just had a stroke. This year has been spent finding a new normal.

Some days I do it well, others I fail miserably. He is 95% back to normal but that other five percent is a constant reminder to him that he had the stroke.
So everyday, he works out, hauls little's to and from school, and strives to regain that 5%...

Greg and Dana are relieved parents as Austin had successful heart surgery in Little Rock this summer. They are so happy to have that behind them. Gray is Greg at 2...Total twins.

We took a little family trip tonight to celebrate Austin's 10th birthday. I love the fact the Gray and Jack are best BUDS and Parker and Austin are best friends.

Amanda and Micah moved to a beautiful new home this fall in one of the most gorgeous areas of Shreveport. Great things happened with Micah's job that enabled them to make some dreams come true. Amanda is still in nursing school(making all A's, forgive the brag)

Parker, the BABY that changed everything is a TWEEN. That means in May he will be a TEEN. I can't tell you how that makes this Grammy feel. Twelve years ago he changed my world, he still does today.
His little brother Jack, will be 4 in January and no kid has EVER made me laugh as much or as hard as he does. He stays with us often while Amanda is in school and his one liners are book material. 
Amanda really should rent him out to people who are having bad days.

Years mean nothing in real friendships. I learned that anew this summer. In late summer Jack and I had the privilege (which seems an odd word)to spend two weeks with two old friends at Baylor Hospital in Dallas. Keith was there waiting on a liver transplant.
We did something we have never done before and may never do again, but we stayed for two weeks for no other reason than just to be there for them. I wish I could explain it, but all I know is it was just something we were supposed to do...be available to them.

Some days we stayed at the hotel, some days we went and talked over old times, some days we just prayed that the transplant team would come bursting through the door announcing they had a liver.
The transplant world was something I knew little about. Hope is all they have. Hope for an organ. With that hope comes someone's else's loss.
Keith didn't make it. He had waited six weeks, getting more critical by the day. Before a liver became available, a massive infection ravaged his body. That last night as I left his room and said goodbye, knowing it probably would be the last time, as I got near the door, he said "Thanks for staying"!

I think he knew too. I knew as I walked down that hall, tears pouring, I would never miss an opportunity to ask others to be organ donors.
So if you get nothing else out of this letter, in honor of Keith Whatley, please sign up to be one.

If you are like me, you know so many people hurting this holiday season. Dianne's heart is broken as she celebrates her first Christmas in 38 years without Keith.
My friend, Gail will celebrate her first Christmas without her Mom and best friend this year and then a few weeks later losing her sweet dog of 17 years. She is hurting.
In the past weeks, a dear tree client and friend of many years found out she has a form of blood cancer. Please add Mischa to your prayer list.

One of Jack's former players, Greg Luman died suddenly this week, far too young.
No one checked on Jack more since his stroke. I want to be a
 GREG LUMAN, an encourager.
I could fill a legal pad with names of people I know that need encouragement. Friends that are going through extreme pain and looking for HOPE.

I am sure you can too.
Most of you know I am a snail mail lover and sender. I challenge you today to get a card, get a stamp (yes they are expensive) and encourage just one person.
Let someone that is drowning, know you care.
and I would love it if you would let me know you are....you can email me at annah99@aol.com.

From our family to yours, we wish you a year of
New Beginnings!

With love,
Teresa and Jack
Amanda, Micah, Parker and Jack
Greg, Dana, Austin and Gray

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Be sure and read last nights post if you missed it here.


Time to announce the winner of the Christmas Giveaway


I need to get your address in the next day so I can get it shipped….

Here are some links I want to share that I loved
Two posts I loved by a blogger I love Amy, go here and here

A few answers to your questions…

We wire everything…NO HOOKS
I got started almost 18 years ago…
did a friends house,
that turned into 5 houses,
that turned into 20 houses
that is now 70-80 trees….

I am writing a “hot to get started book” that will be out sometime in 2012

We use clients ornaments and then add to them each year ….make notes and plans for the next year….but all the decorations become theirs. Some clients I have bought everything for.  Every house is different.

I buy lots of stuff locally, also at market in Dallas….shop after Christmas sales….over twenty years, have lots of sources.

Do I prefer real or artificial?
ARTIFICIAL 100 per cent.
Real trees which we did 2 of this year are  10 times harder. 

No rhythm or reason how we put the stuff on…
We add ornaments, sticks, picks, ribbons all at the same time…
Some days we start at the bottom, some  days the top and some day the middle.
Normally two of us start on the tree.

One Elf starts on the mantle or mantles,
another elf  on the staircases,
then another elf will be putting out  all the Christmas D├ęcor.

If there are multiple trees we try and get them all going at once. 

No such thing as too much on a tree…The more textures, shapes, ribbons, ornaments you have the better the look

We start working on the schedule in July and August. 

We do the take down on about 20 houses…Especially the really large jobs…We are the best packers…

Hope that answered some questions….
Have a great week.


Jack and his animals

What a special day.  I got out for one of the first times since my little accident.  Got MUCH NEEDED color on my hair….
bought a few Christmas presents….drug that 10 pound BOOT around and then picked up this little guy. 

We have had the most special night. 

I had his room turned into a Winter Wonderland and he was in AWE….He kept saying, “It is willy butiful” ! 

We went to Cracker Barrel and bought all these new friends.  We had three and he found two more on the way out…so back to the register. 

He then got a sticker book and as we were driving home he said , “This is the BEST sticker BOOK in the WHOLE Wide WORLD.”

Next came his rendition of Jingle Bells.  He asked us if we wanted his
high Note voice, his loud voice, or his perfect voice.  I am still laughing over that one. 

He was determined they were all sleeping with him.  We watched a Christmas movie and then looked at Christmas catalogs…He wants everything.
He fell asleep in my arms and since I cannot carry him right now, we had to get Pop to  come move him to his bed…I was tucking him in and he said

“Grammy, will you leave the trees on all night?”  Then he added, “Put all my animals in the bed”!

So he is sleeping in heavenly peace!

loved, happy and more precious than words!

Don’t forget that Parker will draw tomorrow night for the GREAT CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY!! 

I will announce the winner Monday Morning so I can get it shipped. 

you still have time to get in on  it. 

Check out A Baby Changes Everything

pictures of my house are still coming..I promise. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I could think of so many titles for this post… some you would get, some would be inside jokes.
All would have been heart felt. 

If you read my blog you know I am injured. That is the only word I can think of.
I thought my ankle was better, now I think the injury was worse than I originally thought.
I have missed 3 houses and one today where they had light problems.
My ANKLE! I have iced it, kept it up, stayed off of it and all the rest.  I am good at none of the above, so my only alternative is to take a pain pill and sleep. Yesterday that is what I did.

Yesterday about 3 PM Head Elf Terri arrived…


and then Elf Liz ( who originally took me to the ER…and has been a constant encourager)


   Then Elves Robin and Sheri

Then my sweet neighbors, Mike and Shoni( and my new ELF)
mike and Shonnie

Then my sweet friend PAM (who has to be the most giving person I know) arrived with hot soup, her special cornbread, and homemade brownies for everyone

Pam and charlie

All here to decorate my house..
This was the only year I had not decorated early that I can ever remember..
Always in October…
They were still here at midnight…get that…midnight..I slept through it all.
I knew if I were up I would be working.  What tree decorator can sit while someone else decorates trees.
I fix trees in restaurants and doctors offices as discreetly as I can.
The only two elves I even saw last night were Terri and Liz..
Liz needed my laptop for the Mickey display from last year and Terri and I talked for a minute when she first got here…

I could hear laughing.  It sounded like a great party I was missing (the jokes were probably dust they were finding)!

I could hear vacuuming around midnight…who stays at someone's house until midnight on the first day they have had off in a long time plus knowing they had a long tree day today and it was looking doubtful that I would be there.

My foot is swollen, its black,(I mean all of it)!
It is now coming up the back of my leg. NEVER again will I take an ankle for granted.

I am beginning to wonder if its broken and it was too swollen to tell the night I had it X-rayed.

I don’t consider myself a wimp. I have worked sick plenty of times over the  years, but the ankle has stopped me.

I can’t wear the boot.

I cannot find anything that stabilizes it enough for me to stand on it and you have to pretty much stand and bend to decorate trees.

Trust me I have tried to figure out a way.  And as hard as I tried I could not stand long enough to do it.

When I got up to get water about 1 AM  this morning there was not one big tree, there were trees everywhere…magazine worthy trees.

I had told the elves they could use anything in my shop…and there are trees everywhere…gorgeous trees, big trees, gorgeous mantle.

Every nook and cranny decorated.
From my couch I can sit and see 8 trees.(I promise pictures tomorrow)

I have been banned from getting up so I can’t really get any good shots.

My outside is not decorated this year…first time in 39 years, but if you can get past the front door, its winter wonderland..

To most people that would be nice and you would appreciate it. But that is not what it means to me.
To me it was the greatest gift anyone could give me. I don’t want that to come across dramatic. 

I was just so sad to leave beautiful homes everyday and come home to no trees.
I love Christmas lights and Christmas music.

I love Christmas cards and Christmas letters.

I love cold nights where the only light comes from trees and the fireplace.

I love trees, themed trees and old fashioned trees.
I love the smells of Christmas, children at Christmas, Christmas Eve services.

In my job many times that all blurs and this year it was getting very blurry.

Making it more special is that it was done by “tired elves” that had their own families trees to do, on a night they could have gone shopping, watched TV or done a million other things. Instead they served me. 

It was a gift I  will never forget. 

To everyone of you that helped last night a huge HUG and THANK YOU!

That friends is Christmas.

I have not bought a gift..that too is very unusual for me. I am depending on Mr. Online to help me tonight.
Don’t forget to comment here or on A Baby Changes Everything…My best giveaway of the year is this week!

Thanks for all the well wishes…If you have any suggestions for “speed the healing on a very ugly ankle”, please send them!!

Promise to be back with pictures tomorrow!

Must add one funny...they took all my everyday stuff up and in that was a brass urn with Annah's ashes...I keep them in a cabinet behind some books...They were gone...I panicked...Had they not known it was Annah and piled it in with a bunch of other stuff...Finally  found them with some candlesticks.  My sweet cocker spaniel of 17 years, my faithful friend, took a ride last night around the house. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011


I just posted a great giveaway on the holiday blog…Do not miss it. 

Go here now and leave a comment and you will have two chances.  

Plus there are new pictures of another home we decorated. 

And now for your laugh of the day…Amanda found Jack like this today.


Jack rudolph

Friday, December 2, 2011


If you missed this post, be sure and start there and see the beautiful pictures of the Hinton home.  This post will be full of more pictures of the same home.

 I guess I better share that I am
out of commission for several weeks. 

After seventeen years of no injuries, yesterday that changed.  We were at one of my longtime dear friends and clients and I had gone to the garage to put some empty boxes to take to the attic.  Just a normal thing we do everyday. 

We were about 50% finished with the house.  Somehow I missed the step that went down into the garage and in trying to break my fall ( I did fall) I turned my ankle or so I thought. 

I came back in the house, not in much pain, and went back to work on the tree.  I  casually said "Dang I fell in the garage" and at that point I had not even looked at my ankle.  We all looked at the same time and all felt instant nausea. It looked U.G.L.Y.

  It looked like I had a 10 pound tumor on my ankle and it was continuing to swell and turn blue.  Fortunately for me we were working at an orthopedic surgeons home.  He came home a few minutes later and checked it out...

I was still working on the tree and determined to keep working until he said I was going to the ER as in NOW

He called ahead to another orthopedist and he met me at the hospital.  Bill was thinking I might need surgery and maybe a pin put in...Not what I wanted to hear...

Long story short, it was not broken but a 4th degree sprain and some torn tendons and ligaments.

I have a soft cast to my knee for 10 days and then a walking boot for 3 weeks...Do the math! That means through Christmas.  We are down to 5 houses and the elves are totally able to do them...

I am going to work on one next week on a limited basis..I sure have new empathy for those on crutches...I really am horrible walking on them.  Today was the first tree I ever missed during a tree season

So I will be fine, I will be frustrated ( I cannot drive for a month) I will probably do things I am not suppose to, I will whine, I will do all my shopping online, and I will be so thankful when elves show up to decorate my house.  So that's the story and it is what it is.

Now enjoy more shots from this beautiful house. 

more pics:)

Now Move over To A Baby Changes Everything to see EVEN more GREAT pictures of this house.