Tag: Piano

Christmas Memories Ease the Lost

Christmas Memories Ease the Lost

This Christmas will be the first one I will be spending without my Mom.  The worst one for me by far.  But instead of ruining the Holidays for me, I decided to let my Blog help me through it and relive some Christmas Memories.  I hope this helps those going through the same situation.

My Mom and I were always close.  I was supposed to be born on her birthday, but I decided I wanted my own birthday and came out six days early.  (Ha, ha).  I put Mom through a lot, including 23 hours of labor, which she never held that against me.  In fact she sacrificed to make our lives better and I will always thank her for that.

As with all kids, Christmas was a joyous time because of the gifts.  We hadn’t learned the true reason for Christmas which was the birth of Jesus yet.  Never will forget the Christmas my sister and I got our Barbie dolls.  It was such a big thing that all our cousins and friends in school wanted!!  My sister got the Brunette Barbie and I got the Blonde in their Zebra swimsuits.  Can’t believe how far Barbie has come and moved up in the career chain, when later I bought my own Doctor Barbie with its own stethoscope.  Along with the dolls that year, we got the tons of Barbie clothes and a Barbie house that was amazing.  Still remember those funny little shoes that were hard to keep track of.  We were occupied with those dolls for hours and hours on end, which I am sure is one reason our parents got them in the first place.  One painful memory that just came up was when I stepped on my Barbie Doll Stand and got two holes in the bottom of my foot.  I survived with no lasting effects.  But it was so comical that my Mom and Grand Uncle were so concerned about my foot and examining it, that they forgot it was attached to me and caused me to lose my balance and fall down to the floor with them still holding onto my foot! 

Another Christmas a cardboard wall appeared in the dining room.  Boy, the curiosity of what would be so big that the entire wall was taped up got us for over a week!!  For kids, that was the longest time ever!!  Then on Christmas morning, we were told to stay in our bedroom and the great reveal was on!!  When we came out, we were totally surprised to find a piano!!  Funny that Dad was the only who could play anything and did a small rendition of “Chop Sticks.”  How appropriate Dad!!  From there we started piano lessons.  I honestly didn’t like “lessons,” because we had to do so many scales.  Who cares about scales??  I just wanted to play the piano!!  But I kept at it and was able to go on from there to read and play any piece of music.  I still love playing the piano today.  I did discover later that my Dad did not favor piano playing, so I would play when he was outside working in the garage or in the yard.

One of the most special Christmas Memories was when Mom baked cookies to give them away as gifts.  Spritz Butter Cookies in all types of Holiday Cookie Shapes:  Christmas Trees, Pinwheels, Wreaths, Diamonds, Circles and the list goes on and on.  They were made in all different colors with all different sugar and chocolate sprinkles using this special cookie contraption that made even cookies.  Although when I first tried it, the cookies didn’t resemble any recognizable shape.  My Mom would make all the different types of Butter Cookies including her Pecan Puffs, Lemon Bars and package them up in Christmas Cookie Tins to give away.  Thank God, she stopped making Fruit Cake long time ago.  Boy, talk about visions of Butter Christmas Trees dancing in one’s head!!  My sister and I loved to take the leftover Butter Cookie Dough with all the colors and make unique Butter Cookies for ourselves.  They look super odd but tasted super good with a lot of sprinkles!!

Christmas Day was always special for us because my Mom would make Cha-Shui Baos (Chinese BBQ Pork Buns) for lunch.  Oh yum, I can taste those buns today!!  The buns she made were not like the steamed ones you can get in Chinatown for Dim Sum but were only made in certain restaurants.  These Chinese BBQ Pork Buns were made with regular yeast dough and baked golden brown.  Nothing like the crunch from the freshly baked buns.  A real treat for a special day.

In closing I would also like to mention a friend Kevin that recently passed.  I would see him every day with his little dog, Nola, when I would go to the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Manhattan Beach to get my coffee and work on my computer.  He had a lot of friends that loved both him and Nola for many years.  It is strange to see the empty table he always sat with Nola.  Another friend put a memorial with a cup of coffee, cookie and cup of water for Nola and others have added other items; a very fitting gesture.  His friends are holding a memorial service for him at that table he sat at this Saturday.  Such a lovely gesture; may Kevin rest in peace.

The Birth of My Creativity

The Birth of My Creativity

Last year I showed my Mom the Needlepoint Christmas Stocking I made for her  showing two penguins hugging each other with her name ‘Pauline’ on it.  I explained that she was the bigger penguin on top and I was the smaller penguin below.  Then I gave her the crocheted Popcorn Corner-to Corner Blanket I also made to keep her warm.  She started crying, saying they were beautiful;  Then added sadly that she didn’t teach me how to do any of those things.  But I corrected her right way!!  “Mom,” I reminded her, “You taught me how to sew, knit and crochet when I was only ten years old!!”  Then I added, “If you hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of the things I do today.”  My Mom not only gave birth to me, but she gave birth to my creativity.

I would watch my Mom all the time while was she made my sister and I all of our dresses for school.  At the time I didn’t mind that my sister and I were dressed alike because I was proud that my Mom made them.  None of my classmates had dresses like we had.  Besides, the dresses Mom bought were made of nylon and I just hated those ‘sticky icky’ things.  They itched and made me scratch like crazy, but Mom told us we looked cute in them.  Who cares about cute, when you itch all the time??  So, it was no wonder when one day we had to go to a party and Mom dressed us in those icky dresses.  I rebelled (true Leo that I am) and said I wanted to take it off and wear one of Mom-made dresses.  Mom tried to reason with me, telling me that the dress on was more ‘dressed-up’ than the one I picked out.  But I wouldn’t accept (again true Leo) and kept trying to take it off, stating (also stubborn Leo I am) I wouldn’t leave until they let me change.  Well, my parents decided to leave the house anyway (which was actually a trick to scare me and just went around the block).  That didn’t stop me from wanting to take off the dress, but I still couldn’t unbutton it.  I few across the street to my friend’s house to ask her to unbutton me, knowing I could watch my house from there.  Meanwhile, my parents had returned only to find the house open and I was nowhere to be seen!  When After my friend finished, I went home.  My parents were not happy with me, but I defended myself and said I could see the house and I HAD to take this icky dress off!!  Well, the lesson was really on my parents and they admitted to each other that I adamant about it, so they let me change into the dress I chose by my Mom. 

It was no surprise that I hounded my Mom to let me sew like her.  So at the age of ten, she bought the fabric and pattern and taught me how to make a simple sleeveless blouse.  It was plain by normal standards, but it was my first project.  And to this day, I have made hundreds of different clothing from tops and jackets to dresses and pants – which does not include the hundreds of Barbie clothes I made.  Mom coached me on all of the things after that first blouse.  But Mom started it all. 

I went on to sew for not only myself, but relatives and friends too.  I think the hardest items I had to sew were the different bridesmaid dresses for several weddings I was commission to do unpaid.  Nothing like having to sew five or more dresses for different-sized bridesmaids especially when those dresses that had to be corrected for size and then hemmed.  It wasn’t so bad for those girls that lived locally, but usually for those that lived far away and only arrived a few days before the wedding, I had to stay up late several nights to complete the dresses on time.  I think the worst case was when I made a bridesmaid dress for a girl that was as busty in front as she was in the back!  Took me a while to figure out that rather than to try to adjust the pattern, the solution was to make the front the same as the back and thank goodness it fit!!  No surprise that this caused my retirement from the seamstress business for good.

Knitting and crocheting gives me real relaxation, another thing I can thank my Mom for.  And now that I have time to do those things during the medical treatments I take, I have made a bunch of blankets, baskets, scarfs and beanies.  No, it not for only the ‘elderly’ to do, but for those who are creative and like to make things and give them away.  It is an item that for those that receive them remember for a long time.  Once I crocheted a blanket for a friend that supposed to be a gift to her grandson.  Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t think she gave it as a gift…she kept it for herself!!

My Mom also sacrificed a lot for my sister and I to be in the arts.  She made sure we took dance and piano lessons, chopping vegetables at my Uncle’s Chinese Restaurant at night.  It was hard and grueling work, but Mom did it for us.  I started dancing as a Sugar Plum Fairy in the Christmas Show at the age of five.  No, don’t think anyone in the class knew what we were doing, we kept bumping into each other.  But we were sure cute, if I do say so myself.  I advanced all the way in ballet to toe shoes, modern and tap.  That gave me the training to allow me to hit the dance floor with a vengeance!!  Love dancing.  I still love playing piano to this day.  Nothing like house-sitting for a friend that had a house with a street that surrounded the whole house.  I played to all hours of the night and bothered no one!!

When the scrapbooking craze came out, I went along right with them.  I even became a Creative Memories Demonstrator to get the supplies at wholesale.  Since I had hundreds of photos, it was easy for me to organize and eventually make complete scrapbooks into Memory Books to relive the events and trips of my life.  A blog article on Easy Scrapbooking with appear in the lineup.

The last addition to my crafting has been card making. Hallmark has been nice, but it gets expensive and my relatives and friends truly value my handmade cards using stamps from Stampin’ Up! Invoke Arts and the different vendors at the Stamp Conventions held three times a year (or at least I think that do). Going to card-making workshops, and craft fairs has been rewarding, and yes, expensive too, but well worth it. More in depth on this in another article.

So, you can see my Mom was a great contributor to my life in many ways.  And yes, Mom, you did teach me a lot for which I am eternally grateful, and I will always love and miss you.