Friday, December 12, 2014

"My Christmas Miracle" from Judy Judy

Sharing this true story of Judy Judy's Christmas Miracle, a real life Hallmark Christmas Story!   "The Christmas Miracle" was written by Don Kesner, a minister, who continues to write part time for the Hampshire Review in W. Va.


"My Christmas Miracle

DON KESNER Review Staff
SLANESVILLE — Six-year old
Judy Ann stood along the
roadside, waiting for the big yellow
bus to come that would take
her to school.
Her hair was uncombed, her
face was dirty and the flip flops
on her feet exposed her toes and
legs to the cold wind.
There was no coat in her closet
to put on. In fact, there wasn’t
even a closet, according to Judy
Ann.
Her parents lived in a big, old
farmhouse, but stayed in just
three rooms. The rest of the
house was closed off to keep the
heat confined to the small living
quarters.
“I remember that when I’d get
to school, the teachers would
take me into the rest room and
wash my face and try to fix up
my hair before I would go to
class,” she said. “Those teachers

were very kind to me.”
She remembers kids at school
making fun of her because of
her clothes, and because of her
speech.
Judy Ann had a speech impediment
that made her difficult,
at best, to understand when
she talked.
“People would ask me where
I lived and I would tell them, ‘I
live in the ticks(sticks),’” she said.
Judy Ann said she didn’t
know to tell people that she
lived in Slanesville because all
she had ever heard about her
home was that it was “in the
sticks.”
The old farmhouse sat down
a long, dirt road that was seldom
ever traveled because her
parents didn’t have a car.
Her mom was mentally challenged
and her father was an alcoholic,
according to Judy Ann.
She is the fourth among six
siblings. The first three, two
half-sisters and a half-brother,
were given away at birth, she
said.
“People told me that my
mom always talked about wanting
to keep one of her babies. I
guess I was the lucky one who
got to stay home,” said Judy
Ann.
Home isn’t exactly the word
that would describe Judy Ann’s
living environment, but it was
all she knew at the time, she
said.
“I remember being hungry,
and that there were times when
Mom and I would go for a couple
of days without food,” said
Judy Ann. “I remember we had
company one time and after
they had left, I found a can of
unfinished Vienna Sausages in
the trash can. I couldn’t believe
anyone would throw away
food.”
She finished them off, she
said.
Judy Ann says her mom’s
mental limitations made it impossible
for her mother to care
for her daily needs.
“Mom was more like a little
kid,” she said. “She would go
out in the yard and play with
me and she’d go for walks in
the woods with me.”
Judy Ann remembers the next
baby being born — a younger
sister.
“She was born in the outhouse,”
said Judy Ann. “I remember
my mom telling me
that her stomach hurt and that
she had to go to the outhouse.
She came back carrying a
baby.”
Judy Ann said she remembers
seeing her little sister lying in a
bassinet that someone had given
her mother.
“I don’t remember ever seeing
her again until I met her at
my grandmother’s funeral,”
said Judy Ann.
That, she said, was nearly 23
years later.
It was when Judy Ann was 6
that her bus driver, Pat Percival,
told a friend about her.
Slanesville residents Robert
(Rip) and Brenda Riffle had no
children of their own, so in order
to make Christmas really
special, they would take a child
from the Burlington Children’s
Home and keep him or her for
the Christmas holidays, according
to Judy Ann.
After hearing about Judy Ann
from Pat Percival, the Riffles
agreed to take her for the holidays.
“(Pat) told me about this really
nice couple who wanted to
have a little girl at their home
for Christmas, and asked me if I
wanted to spend Christmas with
them,” Judy Ann said.
Christmas wasn’t anything
Judy Ann had ever really experienced.
There was never a tree
or a decoration. There were no
ornaments to remember or gifts
to open.
That was, until one year she
remembers the Voit family
coming to the house with boxes
of presents.
“There were toys and clothes
and I remember being so excited,”
said Judy Ann. “There was
a little ceramic Mickey Mouse
cup in the box. That was my favorite.”
Judy Ann remembers her dad
having a television installed in
the old home shortly before the
Voits had made their memorable
visit.
“I had seen a commercial on
TV for Bounty paper towels,
and how they would put a cup
on a wet paper towel and carry
it around,” said Judy. “I remember
trying it with my ceramic
Mickey Mouse cup.”
She said she can also still remember
crying because the paper
towel didn’t hold and her
cup fell onto the floor and
broke.
It was Dec. 11, 1974, and
Judy Ann awoke with an excitement
like none before.
“I just knew that someone
was coming to take me to their
house to stay for a while,” she
said.
It was an answer to a prayer
that Judy Ann had prayed many
times.
“I don’t know how I knew to
do it, but I would lay in bed at
night and pray for a new family,”
said Judy Ann. “And even
at 6 years old, I knew that
morning that someone was
coming to get me and that I
wanted the house to look nice. I
remember running around the
three rooms, trying to pick
things up so it would look good
for the people who were coming
to get me.”
It was a long walk down the
old dirt road and Brenda, Pat
and Pat’s daughter, Cindy, came
walking up into the yard.
Judy Ann left her home that
morning and it was the last time
she ever went home.
It took her a while to warm
up to “Rip” because, she said he
had a beard and she was afraid
of men with beards.
“But I can still remember the
feeling walking into their home
and everything was so pretty
and clean,” said Judy Ann.
That night, Brenda gave her a
bath in a hot tub, something
she’d never experienced.
Her old home never had running
water, or any of the conveniences
of a real home.
“(Brenda) taught me that
night how to wash myself, and
how to do my hair,” Judy Ann
said. “And I got to sleep in my
own room with a big bed.”
It was only a twin-sized bed,
but to Judy Ann, it was huge.
Until she was at least 3, she
said she had to sleep in the bed
with her mom and dad.
“When I was 3, someone
gave us a crib, and that became
my bed until I left there that
morning,” Judy Ann said. “I
have memories of climbing up
over the rails to go to bed.”
But Judy Ann said she’ll never
forget Dec. 11, 1974, or that
Christmas.
It was the first Christmas tree
she had ever seen.
“Brenda and Rip asked me
what I wanted for Christmas
and I told them a talking kitty
that I had seen on television,”
she said. “I only asked for one
thing because that’s all I
thought a kid could get.”
That Christmas was the first
time she ever experienced helping
to make cookies, get presents,
see Christmas trees and
travel.
The Riffles took her to New
Jersey to Brenda’s parent’s
home.
“Their Christmas tree must
have been 20-feet tall,” she
said. “I just stood there and
stared at it.”
That was the Christmas her
life changed.
“They kept asking me if I
wanted to go home, and I’d tell
them no, I wanted to stay
there,” Judy Ann said.
She took to calling both
Brenda and Rip’s parents
grandma and granddad right
away.
Judy Ann said she remembers
her mom coming to visit her at
the Riffle’s house occasionally.
“Dad would drop her off in
the driveway and leave,” said
Judy Ann. “Mom liked my
room and would talk about how
pretty everything was.”
As time went on, the visits
became fewer and fewer until
she never saw her mom again
until one day she showed up at
the end of their old road, waiting
for the bus.
“Pat stopped the bus and
asked Mom what she wanted,”
said Judy Ann.
Her mother said she had
come to take Judy Ann home,
but Pat said she couldn’t let
Judy Ann off at that stop.
“I rode the same bus when I
moved to Brenda and Rip’s, I
just got off at a different stop,”
she said. “But I had drawn a
pretty picture that day at school.
I know it was pretty because
my teacher told the other kids,
‘look what a pretty picture Judy
Ann has drawn.’”
That day, at that stop, Judy
Ann said she asked Pat if she
could give her mom the picture.
“I walked to the front of the
bus, gave mom the picture and
a hug,” said Judy Ann. “I can
still remember her crying as the
bus pulled away.”
It took three long years before
the Riffles could officially
adopt Judy Ann.
“I really think my dad held it
up because he would tell Brenda
and Rip that he could get
good money for me,” she said.
“I think now that he must have
gotten a welfare check for me,
even though I was living with
the Riffles.”
But with the adoption official,
Judy Ann settled in to her
new home for good.
“Brenda and Rip are my parents,
and always will be,” said
Judy Ann. “But I guess that, because
it took so long to get
adopted, I just got used to calling
them Brenda and Rip.”
But Judy Ann said the Riffles
have made Dec. 11 of every
year extra special because that’s
the date she became theirs.
And Christmas has always
been special to Judy Ann ever
since.
“I never saw my mom again
until her mother passed away
and I went to the funeral,” said
Judy Ann. “I was married to my
husband Billy and was pregnant
by that time.”
Judy Ann said her mother
recognized her right away.
“Judy Ann,” she said, “I
would know you anywhere.”
Judy Ann said the kids at
school quit laughing at her after
she went to live with the Riffles.
And with the help of Gerald
Mathias, a speech therapist with
the Hampshire County Board of
Education at the time, and
Brenda, she overcame her
speech impediment.
Judy Ann uniquely married a
man with the same last name as
her first name and became Judy
Judy.
The Judy’s home shouts
Christmas from the time it
comes into sight in Pleasant
Dale Acres.
The inside is lighted as
brightly as the outside, with a
Christmas tree in every room,
yes, even the bathrooms.
Each one is uniquely decorated
with a different theme and
Christmas cookies set on the
table for company.
Everyone who visits the Judy
home during the Christmas holidays
goes away with a little
Christmas gift, a token showing
how special Christmas is.
She has reunited with all of
her siblings over the years. And,
she has visited her mother on
occasion.
She never saw her dad again
and sent a single rose to the funeral
when he died, but she didn’t
attend.
According to Judy, his abusiveness
to her and her mom
made him easy to forget.
But some things she’ll never
forget, like every piece of
Christmas decorations she has,
and who gave them to her, as
well as why she received them
and when.
This is the first year she didn’t
get to spend Dec. 11 with
her parents, Brenda and Rip.
They moved to North Carolina
and she and her family plan to
visit them over the New Years.
But, on Dec. 11, a dozen roses
were delivered to her, in
memory of Dec. 11, the day she
came to live at her new home
35 years ago."


Judy with her roses celebrating Dec. 11!
Wasn't that beautiful!  "My Christmas Miracle" makes me wonder how God must have felt sending Jesus to earth on Christmas to give away his only son.  How hard it must have been for Judy's mom, although compromised, watching that bus pull away with her baby.  God so loved her too... and little Judy, He gave a child a new life that December 11, 1976.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave his only son...."  John 3:16

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Oh I Want a Lego Robot Kit for Christmas!

Listen to Levi and EV3 sing about a way to ignite a student's STEM education and put Lego Robotic technology under a teacher's tree this year!  Join the community helping Morgan County launch a Robotics STEM Program for students county wide!  Donations of $500 will purchase Lego robot technogy for a teacher's classroom, 4H Club "Relentless Robotics", and provide needed intervention in math and science!  Any contribution welcome! To find out more, contact Angie Hott (ahottfamily@gmai.com) or visit us at:
RELENTLESS ROBOTICS

 Here are the words to sing along with Levi (the tune is "Oh I Want a Hippopatimus"):

Oh I want a Lego Robotics Kit for Christmas
Not just any Lego Kit will do
A Mindstorm EV3, or a WeDo for me
My teacher at school will use to teach us math see

See me at school after Christmas morning
Walking down the ha-all
Imagine my surprise
When I open up my eyes
To see a Mindstorm Robot standing tall!

Oh I want a Lego Robotics Kit for Christmas
Not just any Lego Kit will do
A Mindstorm EV3, or a WeDo for me
For Interventions needs At Morgan County After 3

Help Morgan County grow a program
To benefit us a-all
Achieve careers in STEM
This is how we can begin
Teachers need equipment to start on the ball

Oh I want a Lego Robotics Kit for Christmas
Help us buy a robot kit or two
A Mindstorm EV3, or a WeDo for me
Send your donation to be under teacher’s tree

Monday, December 1, 2014

Advent Conspiracy for Cyber Monday

December 1st!

Cyber Monday!

So, the kiddos are back to school and this morning is the first time I have checked my email since before Thanksgiving.  Holy cow!  214 messages in my "Promotions" inbox!  Are.you.kidding.me?

Thinking I could do a little online shopping since the house is quiet (and Levi is not manipulating my laptop), the shear amount of great deals and offers are making this 49-year-old-grey-haired-PD blogging-hott- mama-of-four's mind spin!

Aaaaaarrrrrgh!  Delete,... delete...  DELETE!

You know what?  Yesterday, Pastor Stan shared this video called the "Advent Conspiracy."  Check it out.  I never realized the US spends $450 billion at Christmas!  Wow...that sure could purchase quite the STEAM robotics engineering program for our at risk county here in rural West Virginia.

Excuse me, can I tell you something?  My sister-in-law, Tammy (who headed home to Philly early Sunday morning) proposed just this idea on Thanksgiving Day!  She suggests that our family contribute to a charity collectively as a family rather than purchase gifts for adults; and continue her traditional yummy cookie and mint fudge exchange!  Her idea was that we select the Michael J Fox Foundation, who is researaching a cure for Parkinson's Disease.  There's a cool gift!

I love it!  And, how interesting that within an hour after she heads home Pastor Stan shows us all this video.  I think God was winking at Aunt Tammy as she headed north on that PA Turnpike!




Thursday, November 20, 2014

Career Day at the Elementary School


Meet your future Hazmat Civil Engineer!

Today is Career Day at Warm Springs Intermediate School.  Organized as a fundraiser for the fourth grade field trip to the National Zoo, each student is encouraged to come to school dressed as a career which interests them.  Each student brings $1 to participate!

So, imagine the excitement from Levi when he announced that he wanted to go to school dressed as a Hazmat Engineer!  I thought his daddy was going to burst at the seams as well!  I am not sure what was more fun for Levi; looking like the Hazmat dude in the Godzilla movie or his suit moving in and out when he breathes.

A retired civil engineer for Chevron, my hubby Dan was able to round up the professional mask and hazmat suit pictured here on Levi on his way out the door this morning.  Since Dan closed his environmental engineering firm in 2008, providing our 9 year old with his career day clothes made him just as giddy!  You should have seen them both!

Levi also has bathroom duty today.... a task for which he is well prepared!

"...For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise."  (John 5:19)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Politicans and Parkinson's Disease Always




U.S. Senator Cory Booker.  Do you know him?  Honestly, I really don't have a clue who he is. With the recent election, politics have invaded my family time with incessant calls on our home phone - always during dinner!   I am not the most political savy rower in the boat, that's for sure!  But, when the National Parkinson's Foundation shared this link, I listened!

Even if I do not follow politics closely on national matters as well as I should, my radar always perks up when I hear any elected representative of the people speak on Parkinson's Disease.

U.S. Senator Cory Booker's message in this short video is no exception!

I especially like what he says about recognizing the early signs of Parkinson's Disease.  For this, I congratulate and admire his promotion and support during this Caregiver Month:  November.  Countless times, someone will ask me how Dan (my husband) knew that he had Parkinson's Disease.  We eagerly share the story from 2008 when his neurologist gave him the news:  "You have Parkinson's Disease."  In fact, a cousin just asked me about the specifics and how to get help.

Well, here is the answer!  Thank you Corey Booker, U.S. Senator, whereever you are!  With this helpful video, resources from the National Parkinson's Foundation are ready and waiting to assist!  In my experience, all you have to do is ask; and a friendly compassionate person from NPF is waiting to guide you!

Now, go watch and share this clip!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Funerals Are Fun

Are you kidding me!  Then why do these guys look so happy after attending the funeral for Violet M. (Smoot) Hott? Sure, we shed some tears today, didn't we...but, we also were surrounded by God's unending love of our family and friends,... including Ms. Gina and Abbygirl.

About 30 minutes after we all arrived home following what was the end to a very long week, our dogs began to bark.  It was dark outside.  We had just shed our funeral clothes, poured our first beverage, and began to discuss the remants of a very long day saying goodbye to Dan's mom when on our porch came Ms. Gina carrying this:  a pumpkin pie!

Still warm from her kitchen, this pie was so much more than the standard loving gesture of food folks deliver at these awkward times.   After celebrating my mother-in-law's life by posting "Permission to Eat Pumpkin Pie" during her final days on this earth, receiving this gift felt like a message from her in heaven.  Maybe it was the perfect timing of its' arrival or maybe feeling the warm pan in my hands.  I cried one more time today.

Sometimes, life has us do some pretty hard stuff, you know...like saying goodbye to someone you love.  Going to the funeral today was, indeed, one of the hardest things I have ever done.  You see, the family asked me to read at the service.  Have you ever met this Hott family?  Well, they are loud and cranky, and with 141 direct descendants I knew I was in for a tough crowd.

Oh, did I ever want to say "No way!"  But just like some of the crazy things Pastor Andrew asked me to do, somehow the Holy Spirit had other plans for us today.  Saying "no" sure would have been easier, right?  Like, if I never stood up there then I never would have risked disappointing you guys or felt weird for saying something goofy.

But typical fool that I am, I said "yes" and read at the funeral today.  Here is my unedited presentation:

(Today, I am here to share with you a post from my online blog called “Excuse me, can I tell you something?”.  Both Uncle Phil and Aunt Pam asked me to read for Grandma Violet’s service today, an indescribable privilege for me.  After Mrs. Hott passed on Saturday morning, I was hanging out down at the house with many siblings when their request that I share “P to Eat PP” both surprised and, honestly, scared the bejebbies out of me.  You see, I began blogging about faith and family in 2008 as, now - don’t you laugh,…oh, ok, you can laugh – the blogging “Hott Mama!”  Looking around this room, I can see many more “hott mamas”.  Saturday, Phil called me, instead, the family poet laureate – “ah” I think I like that better, quite a compliment.  Once, Mrs. Hott called me Sonie,…an even better compliment.  While Mrs. Hott was in the hospital last, I posted this story you’re about to hear.  Within an hour, it was trending on facebook.  In fact now, if you google pumpkin pie, it comes up third after a Better Crocker recipe.  Hahahah….imagine that!  So, someone out there is reading it.  Honestly, I’m not sure if I can today.  In fact, I tried to get Caity to do this for me but she said “no;” so…. Here I am.  You’re stuck with me, uhhh your blogging Hott Mama.  So, please bear with me.)

Before I start, I want to show you something.  You see, when I was little, I always heard my mom comment on the participation of my brother’s girlfriends/wives in kitchen work.  Woe to the woman who did not offer to assist my mom with supper dishes!

Being used to lending a hand, I thought it was customary to assist as well.  So, imagine my surprise during my early visits in 1995 to the Hott Farm when supper was underway, and dishes began.  You see, with a small crowd of… oh…90 or so on any given Sunday back then, supper dishes began as soon as the first round at the table is cleared with just say 82 mouths waiting to be fed. And, each mouth had to sit at the table too.  There would be none of that eating a plate of food in front of the tv or on the couch.  So, I jumped up and offered to wash! 

I can only imagine the thoughts of the several other daughters-in-law there!  Today, it’s HER turn!  Hah! LOL!  I stood there for three hours as the endless pile of dirty plates never disappeared.  I know for certain I saw the same cracked plastic yellow plate with flowers in the middle come through my soapy water 4 or 5 times!  Check this out…Here it is! 

Grandma Violet's Dishes
This is a simple, plain ‘ole dinner plate from Mrs. Hott’s kitchen.  I borrowed it from among the stack of many chipped and worn plates used to serve a flood of fabulous country food…even today.  Today, this yellow plate from the 1950’s “genuine melamine, made in the USA” that once held Mrs. Hott’s famous Sunday dinner, now holds a special corner of my heart.  I’ll tell you why.  Here… pass it around.


There was another time Dan and I happened to be early for Sunday supper (this never happened often…in fact, Ronnie would always look for snow when we showed up, even in July)  So, observing the Sunday supper preparations, I offered to help out in the kitchen.  Asking what I can do,  Grandma Violet assigned me to the task of peeling potatoes.

Oh….easy smeazzzzy!  Right? I can do that!  And, surely it won’t take forever like washing dishes around here!   And, once I get these potatoes peeled, I can play outside with Caity while they cook on the stove!  So….

“Sure!  I can peel potatoes!”  Immediately, Grandma Violet vanishes to the basement of her farm house (the basement - a place, by the way, to this day after 20 years of visiting I.have.never.seen! and do not care to venture full of critters and creachers– too spooky – Thanks for the scare Uncle Dump!)   After hearing all the ruckous below, Mrs. Hott emerges from the rickety old steps carrying something.  With ease, Grandma Violet then crosses the few feet to the sink to deliver to me

A 5 gallon bucket.

Of potatoes!  FULL!

Oh?...ok!  Wondering how this little lady managed to lug this 5 gallon bucket of potatoes from the depths below, I reached down to lift them and nearly pulled my arms out of my elbows.

Looking up and thinking this won’t take so long, I asked Mrs. Hott, “So,…. Uh…How many of these do you want me to peel?”

“Well, ALL of them.”  Then, thinking what a dummy I was, she turned around to stir gravy.

Of course.    

No,… Wait? She was serious?  “All of them?”. 

Just like the dishes, three hours later and four hand blisters later, I was still peeling potatoes.  That was the last time I offered to peel potatoes at the Hott house!  How do they do this?

So, proceeding to Phil and Pam’s request for me to read…. Here is my post called

PUMPKIN PIE from “Excuse Me Can I Tell You Something?”

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching and the leaves softly landing, this time of year brings to mind one of my many favorite treats:  pumpkin pie!  In fact, I have already enjoyed a homemade delicious slice of the orange fruit (or is it a veggie?) while visiting my cousin Tammy.  As I gaze out my kitchen window at the W. Va. fall foliage, crystal blue sky, and puffy clouds passing, Thanksgiving 2001 was my induction into the Hott's "permission to eat pumpkin pie"!

Well, I don't know about where you grew up; but where I come from we traditionally had a pumpkin pie or two to celebrate the season with family.  It was in 1995 when I made my first holiday venture to the Hott Family Thanksgiving Traditional Dinner.  Surely there will be plenty of turkey and the favorites;... wonder if there will be a pumpkin pie?!

So, how many pumpkin pies do you think there may have been? One..... maybe two pumpkin pies?

Nope.
Three pumpkin pies?

No.

You're wrong!

Not 1.  Not 2, or even 3!  --   28!  TWENTY-EIGHT!!!

Mrs. Hott had personally baked,... from scratch, with REAL pumpkins --  28 pumpkin pies! 

And I am sooo not kidding you!  Following a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner, pumpkin pies emerge from everywhere!  Apparently, desserts always are hidden out in the "milk shed" until supper is over. Mrs. Hott lovingly manages her kitchen table much like that of a New York City traffic cop; allowing for nearly 90 family members to each sit for a meal (not only on Thanksgiving but for each and every Sunday afternoon).  Once your plate is empty, you have to get up in order for someone waiting to eat to have a place to sit down.   Her farm house home is so crowded with relatives slowly inching their way, shoulder to shoulder, to the table.  Woo… Talk about a close family!

To this day, I am not sure from where all the food came!  Like a flood, endless plates of fresh garden vegetables, mountains of mashed potatoes, home-cooked casseroles -- all from seemingly bottomless pots and pans!  It really is kinda magical, you know.  Or, a bit like Jesus feeding the masses with just a fish and five loaves of bread!

Finally when she authorized permission to begin dessert, there was formed a caravan of grandchildren carrying inside 28 pies of pumpkin among a plethora of other delicious delectable desserts!

So, as Thanksgiving quickly approaches this year I stumble across my favorite picture of Mrs. Violet Hott, the matriarch of the family.  A certain photo I LOVE is from Thanksgiving 2001! With rosy cheeks, twinkling eyes, snowy white soft hair… hers is a face to rival Mrs. Claus!  After six years of sitting at her table for the same holiday, it is this year that she allowed me to have pie early.  In fact, after a few brothers-in-law yelled at me and tried to get me in trouble with Mrs. Hott when I found a pie on the counter, with a twinkle in her eye she came to my defense!  I got pie first that year.

And, well...so did Heath (another Hott nephew)!  Grandma Violet hid an entire pie just.for.him!  (Really, she did!  I saw him eat it whole and am still amazed!)

You know,… I do like to write.  If God ever let me recreate that verse in Matthew 25:35, it would go something like this:  “You are never a stranger at the Hott Farm.  If you're hungry, Grandma Violet gives you food; if you are thirsty, she gives you a sweet tea; and if you're a stranger, well.... it's only for a second. And, if you're lucky, you just might get permission to eat pumpkin pie early!”  

Today, Grandma Violet is now 93.  She is surrounded here by her large loving Hott family.  As we remember our sweet angel, the strong, hard-working woman whose 141 descendants span the hills of West Virginia to the shores of the Potomac, the mother of my sweet-loving Dan, number 10 child among her 13, the grandmother to many, including her last granddaughter - my very own Violet, I am thankful to God, who waits for her at His Thanksgiving table with her very own fresh slice of heaven, and a plate flooding with His unending love and amazing grace, exactly like my early slice of pumpkin pie.  

Feeling a little lost in her crowded and noisy house, I found favor in my mother-in-law that day, when I thought she never noticed me.  Funny how in something like just a piece of pie there was an expression of her grace, not unlike Your grace, God, in the smallest smile or twinkle in her eyes, waiting just for me, among the many, many Hotts.  

 I also saw she had countless expressions of her grace waiting for each of you. As this plate is nothing fancy, just an old plastic yellow plate among the pile with stains and chips, circulates empty here today, it was once flooding with countless meals.  From corn cakes or sausage gravy, to dumplings and ham, fresh peas from the garden to even nasty kale Davey tricked me into eating, maybe it is Saturday night burgers fried in the iron skillet or salty Sunday country ham, or fresh lettuce with egg and hot grease, back bones and sourkraut, pumpkin or corn meal mush (whatever that is!)… or… perhaps even Stacey’s own personal boiled potatoes set aside just for her from the mountain of mashed, Mrs. Hott’s plate from the farm held something special for each of us here.    But for Grandma Violet, I know it was not what was on the plate that mattered, but who was sitting in the seat at her table.

Thank you all, Hott Family, for showing me a little slice of heaven through the grace of your precious mother, Violet Mariam Smoot Hott.  A woman able to see through the crowded room into the heart of a stranger with just a seat at her kitchen table and small piece of pie.  If ever you feel lost in this crazy world, like the crowds are many and your plate is empty, I want you remember Violet Hott, and know by the miracle that was, no is she, there is always her grace, and the grace of Jesus waiting to fill your empty plate.

Even though it will be hard to imagine this Thanksgiving, or any dinner, with our Grandma Violet…and all the pumpkin pies,…as of today,  Her chains here are gone.  She’s been set free. Her God and Savior, her ransomed be. And like a flood, His mercy reigns, with unending love….She sits now at Your table, serving Your amazing grace.

I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.  Genesis 22:17


Amazing Grace...for Grandma Violet

Friday, October 17, 2014

Permission to Eat Pumpkin Pie

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching and the leaves softly landing, this time of year brings to mind one of my many favorite treats:  pumpkin pie!  In fact, I have already enjoyed a homemade delicious slice of the orange fruit (or is it a veggie?) while visiting my cousin Tammy just the other day.  As I gaze out my kitchen window at the W. Va. fall foliage, crystal blue sky, and puffy clouds passing, Thanksgiving 2001 was my induction into the Hott's "permission to eat pumpkin pie"!

Well, I don't know about where you grew up; but where I come from we traditionally had a pumpkin pie or two to celebrate the season with family.  It was in 1995 when I made my first holiday venture to the Hott Family Thanksgiving Traditional Dinner.  Surely there will be plenty of turkey and the favorites;... wonder if there will be a pumpkin pie?!

So, do you think there may have been one..... maybe two pumpkin pies?

Nope.
Three pumpkin pies?

No.

You're wrong!

Not 1.  Not 2, or even 3!
28!  TWENTY-EIGHT!!!

Mrs. Hott had personally baked,... from scratch, with REAL pumpkins --  28 pumpkin pies! 

And I am sooo not kidding you!  Following a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner, pumpkin pies emerge from everywhere!  Apparently, desserts always are hidden out in the "milk shed" until supper is over. Mrs. Hott lovingly manages her kitchen table much like a New York City traffic cop; allowing for nearly 90 family members to each sit for a meal not only on Thanksgiving but for each and every Sunday afternoon.  Once your plate is empty, you have to get up in order for someone waiting to eat to have a place to sit down.   Her farm house home is so crowded with relatives slowly inching their way, shoulder to shoulder, to the table.  Talk about a close family!

To this day, I am not sure from where all the food came!  Endless plates of fresh garden vegetables, mashed potatoes, home-cooked casseroles -- all from seemingly bottomless pots and pans!  It really is kinda magical, you know.  Or, a bit like Jesus feeding the masses with just a fish and five loaves of bread!

Finally when she authorized permission to begin dessert, there was formed a caravan of grandchildren carrying inside 28 pies of pumpkin among a plethora of other delicious delectable desserts!

So, as Thanksgiving quickly approaches this year I stumble across this picture of Mrs. Violet Hott (hotthubby Dan's mother), the matriarch of the family.  I LOVE this photo! Just look at her rosy cheeks (a face to rival Mrs. Claus)!          This is Thanksgiving 2001.  After six years of sitting at her table for the same holiday, it is this year that she allowed me to have pie early.  In fact, after a few brothers-in-law yelled at me and tried to get me in trouble with Mrs. Hott when I found a pie on the counter, with a twinkle in her eye she came to my defense!  I got pie first that year.

And, well...so did Heath (another Hott nephew)!  Grandma Violet hid an entire pie just.for.him!

(Really, she did!  I saw him eat it and am still amazed!)
Eventually, Thanksgiving dinner outgrew Mrs. Hott's old farm house and the family now gathers not far away in Pennsylvania.  Pictured here is the 2005 holiday.  Yes, this is her immediate family.  All 165+ of them (really, I counted)! 

"I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies."  Genesis 22:17

You are never a stranger at the Hott Farm.  If you're hungry, she gives you food; if you are thirsty, she gives you a sweet tea; and if you're a stranger, well.... it's only for a second.  (Matthew 25:35)  

And, if you're lucky, you just might get permission to eat pumpkin pie early!  

Today, Grandma Violet is now 93.  After suffering from a stroke 4 years ago, she is surrounded by her rather large family for what I am told may be her final days.  As we remember our sweet angel, the strong, hard-working woman whose descendants span the hills of West Virginia to the shores of the Potomac, the mother of my sweet-loving Dan, number 10 child among her 13, please keep us all in your prayers.  Let her know, Lord, that like my early piece of pie, You are waiting for her at Your Thanksgiving table with her very own fresh slice of heaven.  

Among the crowded and noisy house, I found favor in my mother-in-law that day, when I thought she never noticed me.  Funny how in something like just a piece of pie there was an expression of her grace, not unlike Your grace, in the smallest smile or twinkle in her eyes, waiting for me.  As the woman who opened her heart to countless people with a just seat at her kitchen table prepares to pass from this world to Yours, please allow us to rejoice in her reunion with You as she receives her place at Your table. The legacy of Violet Mariam Smoot Hott is a story to celebrate.

It's just so hard to image a Thanksgiving (or any) dinner without her...and all the pumpkin pies.



Monday, October 13, 2014

Why I Love the Apple Butter Festival



Tradition.

Beautiful Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, hosts an annual fall festival where the community pours into the streets to make, of all things, a delicious blend of locally grown apples and well, sugar.  Joined by travelers from around the country to stir the mysterious golden blend of goodness, apple butter is cooked in enormous kettles over a blazing old time fire.

Tradition.

I was nine years old when the Apple Butter Festival began as a fall event to bring tourism to my artsy little "home among the hills".  Now, my youngest Hott child is also nine.

Tradition.

Now it's Monday morning and our purchase of a pint of apple butter is nearly empty from a weekend of sharing it's ooooey sweetness on everything from wheat toast, warm bread, bagels, and yes, even bananas!

Throughout the 41 years of celebrating old town traditions from stirring apple butter, turtle races, parade, crafts, funnel cakes, and egg tosses, we always treasure the times we are priveledged to share the Apple Butter experience with our "newbies" -- or, first time participants!  This year was no exception.  And, it is always my honor to show all who ride to Apple Butter breakfast at First United Methodist at a ridiculous 7:00 a.m. and those who venture back to my house after a long day of festivities the above picture.

See that old guy?  Well, that's my Pap!

Pap Pap, or otherwise known as Marlin McBee LOVED the Apple Butter Festival.  He would stay down town all weekend sportin' his favorite hat and stirrin' the huge kettles till he was nearly 90 years old.  I was delighted to share the Apple Butter Festival Memory Book 25th Anniversary Edition with our new family members once again this year.  Pap managed to make the glossy cover as well as a few other featured photographs, even with then Governor Arch Moore!  Cousins and kids in the family are featured in turtle race memories as well.

From my Pappy at 90 to Levi at 9.....Tradition.

Tradition.  I guess among all the crazy things that have evolved over the years at the Apple Butter Festival, from beard contests to hog hollering, one thing always stays the same -- Columbus Day weekend I can roam around my home town and always find an old friend from 40 years ago.  As we stop along Fairfax Street and reminise about old high school days and farting brothers, it is always fun to see the new traditions developing as well.  We catch up on the latest babies being born; accomplishments of our children; share family stories.  And, for some reason, it never fails, my crazy family manages to provide updates for the Apple Butter Festival Turtle Race.  Want to know what happened?  Find a Hott/McBee!  Because likely, they were all there.

It's a tradition.

2014 "newbie" Rob with Crystal, Grandma, PapPap (Bobbie McBee) Isaac,
Levi, and Cotton Eyed Joe, a turtle campion!

"So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, 
either by our spoken word or by our letter."  2 Thessalonians 2:15

Tradition.  That's why I love the Apple Butter Festival.  Tell me, why you love it; or, if you never been before, maybe we'll see you next year and start a new tradition.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Why I Love School Sports

I'm still taller!  Well, maybe not (keep reading)!

Last night was the Warm Springs Middle School's final Cross Country Meet.  Following yet another season of trials and tribulations for hard working young athletes, I saw this picture just now on facebook (Thanks Ken Reed!) and I still have goosies!  This 49-year-old-grey-haired-hott-mama-of-4 will forever treasure this photo.  Ken captured Isaac's dimple -- a rare event that only emerges when Isaac is truly pleased with himself.

Why is he so pleased?  Did Isaac finish in the top of the race?

No.

Did Isaac receive a medal for his speed?

No.

But he finished!

He finished the cross country season a first time runner in the sixth grade.  He finished each and every practice and meet telling mom, "I had fun!"  Our solo "techie" kid finished the season with a new understanding of being a part of a team, showing encouragement to his teammates. He finished the season running his best mile ever last night.  He finished every meet with an improved personal record.

At 10 years old, he finished with a smile on his face! (See the dimple?)  That's why I love school sports.

And when he was finished his race last night, his first act was to offer water to his fellow team mate, who also ran with endurance.  (But his friend, Erin, got there first...hahaha!...go figure!...lol)

(Leaning on mom, Isaac really is taller....)

"...and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Moving Day Chicago Meets W.Va. Team Co-Captain...ME!

Hello,

My name is Angie Hott.  My husband, Dan, has Parkinson's Disease.  We have four children and live in rural West Virginia.

I am tickled to be an honorary co-captain for Team Martini Shakers participating in the upcoming Moving Day, Chicago.

Like the picture I chose to tag?  I.LOVE.IT!


The reason I selected this picture is because I strongly feel that this represents how with God's love, a positive attitude, and some pretty awesome neurologists, we can kick this stinkin' thing called Parkinson's Disease!

You see, when Dan was diagnosed in 2008, one of the crazy things that scared me was how his symptoms would progress.  At the time, our boys were just 2 and 3 years old.  I worried if he would be able to dance at our two daughter's weddings.
Well, here he is at Caity's wedding on June 8, 2014...six years since his diagnosis.  He not only danced at the reception; but he walked Caity to a beautiful alter of sand and sea before our closest friends and family.

Although we will not be in Chicago in a few days to walk with you, we will be there in spirit!  For what we do today to help bring awareness to Parkinson's Disease will have Dan dancing at Violet's wedding next!
She's only 14 now...so let's get busy!!!!

And, so you know this is a nation wide event, check out the National Parkinson's Foundation spokesperson, Katie Couric, she is also involved because her father suffered from Parkinson's Disease.

To donate to Parkinson's research and learn more about Moving Day, see here:  Team Martini Shakers  Then click on "Angie Hott" (in blue) if you feel so moved to donate.  If not, that's fine too...thanks for spending a little time on this site and send it along by sharing!

Now,...here is the remainder of NPF's Moving Day info:

Walk For Parkinson'sI am participating in the Moving Day Chicago walk, benefiting the National Parkinson Foundation on October 19, 2014.

The event will take place at the Grove 2 at Lincoln Park and will be a fun-filled, family-friendly event for all ages and abilities. We will be able to enjoy a variety of movement activities yoga, dance, Pilates, Tai Chi, stretching and much more and celebrate the importance of movement in our lives.

Please consider being a part of my team or sponsoring me, and I encourage you to get your friends, family and coworkers involved.

Why Get Involved

The National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) continues to bring help and hope to the estimated one million people in the United States, four to six million worldwide, who are living with Parkinson’s disease. NPF is the only organization with a singular focus on improving the quality of care in Parkinson’s disease. NPF programs reach more than one million people a year through its network of 39 chapters, 43 Centers of Excellence and 900 support groups. Since 1982, NPF has funded more than $180 million in care, research and support services.

Thank you for helping me reach my fundraising goal to support the vital work of the National Parkinson Foundation.