Friday, January 30, 2009

The Bloggies and Cake Wrecks

I came across this picture twice this week. Earlier this week I was reading Shirley Buxton's blog, writenow.wordpress.com, which I found through apostolicbloggers.blogspot.com a couple of months ago. She had this picture posted and a link to another blog, inhistime.wordpress.com, which told the story behind the cake. I got such a laugh out of it, and it was especially interesting that apparently this cake was made by a Walmart in the Little Rock area where I live. According to the story, it was made for a going-away party for someone at BCBS in Little Rock.
Then yesterday I came across this picture again. I was (and still am) housebound due to being sick - fever, achy and all that. I had little energy, so I entertained myself throughout the long day by reading blogs.
One of my favorite blogs is thepioneerwoman.com. On her site, she mentioned the 2009 bloggies awards. She has been nominated in several categories. So I went to 2009.bloggies.com and voted for her and while I was there I checked out other blogs that had been nominated in various categories.
That's where I came across this picture again. If you want to read a funny blog, check out cakewrecks.blogspot.com. The subtitle is "when professional cakes go horribly, hilariously wrong." And believe me, it is hilarious. Not just the cakes. The accompanying narrative only adds to the humor. Even though I was so sick, I was laughing out loud.
I found the picture above on the sidebar under "the cake that started it all."
Laughter - it's the best medicine.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Daddy's Birthday


My daddy was born in January. January 3, 1912. He would be 97 if he were living. I have been thinking about him a lot this month.
He looks to be about three years old in the picture above. (I just started to learn to use Photoshop 3 days ago. I cropped this from a family picture and smudged the background. I have a lot to learn about Photoshop, and this is as good as it gets today.)
I imagine the picture below was made in the late fall of 1912. I love it that my grandmother's face is in the upper right hand corner of this picture. She was eighteen years old. It's the only picture I have of her before the ravages of working in the sun on their cotton farm began to show on her once-smooth face.

If you look closely, you can see that he is holding some type of paper and some type of writing instrument. Curious about this, I googled "when were crayons invented" and learned that the first set of Crayola crayons debuted in 1903. So, I guess that writing instrument could be one of those early crayons.
He is wearing a little dress, which was common for baby boys at that time.
I wonder whatever happened to that old rocking chair. Over the course of the next seventeen years, my grandmother would give birth to eight more children. I imagine she got the use out of that rocking chair.

I try to imagine what the day of his birth was like for my grandparents. My grandmother was 18, my grandfather 23. They had been married one year and two days, having married on New Year's Day of 1911.
Oh, I have a good idea of how she felt. I know what it feels like to be a mother holding a firstborn son. Experiencing a new kind of love, so unimaginable, so all-encompassing and so powerful. I like to imagine her cuddling him in her arms, clasping him protectively to her. I imagine she felt a kind of pride in producing a son for my grandfather.

I am pretty sure he would have wanted a boy. I have observed that in men, that longing for a son. My husband certainly wanted a boy. My grandfather may have wanted a boy for the reasons that so many men want a son. Someone to carry on the family name. A little guy to roughhouse with. To do manly things with, like hunt and fish. But there's another reason I think my grandfather would have wanted a son, and not just one son, but many more strapping boys. He was a farmer. A cotton farmer, with a farm to work. He needed boys to help him work the land. I imagine his manly pride on the day of the birth of the first of his children. A son, yes, a son!
They named him Samuel Bruce. Samuel, for his grandfather, his great-grandfather, and his great-great grandfather before him. Bruce, for his uncle. They called him Sam.

I wonder if the day of his birth was a cold, gray, wet January day like today, so common in this part of the country at this time of year. Or was it like January 3rd of this year, sunny and a warm 76 degrees? Was he born at his parents home or his grandparents home? Was he delivered by a grandmother, an aunt, or a midwife. I don't suppose I'll ever know the answers to these questions. There is no one left to ask.

This is what I do know. This little boy grew up to be my daddy. He loved me.



This is Daddy with Mark and me in 1967, celebrating his 55th birthday.

He was reserved and quiet and did not express a lot of outward affection.
But, I remember him holding me in his lap and telling me about the new room he was going to build on so I wouldn't have to share a room with my brother.
I remember him sitting by my bed when I had the measles and reading aloud to me from the new Highlights magazine he had ordered.
I remember coming home from school shortly after my 16th birthday and seeing a gorgeous white Mustang with red leather interior sitting in the front of the house.
I remember rushing up the front steps and him meeting me at the front door.
I remember throwing my arms around his neck and squealing with delight.
I remember pulling back and looking at him, and seeing that he had a smile on his face and his upper lip was quivering. That was the give-away that he was really excited and pleased about something. That upper lip quivering.
I remember all those things and so many, many more.
He died when I was 24 and Mark was 21. It has been over 27 years now. I appreciate him in ways today that I could not when I was in my early twenties. Before I had experienced more of life and raised a boy.
I know that he lives on in a far better place and that I will see him again. And yet I miss him.
When it comes my time to cross over to the other shore, I expect Daddy will be looking for me. I know I'll be looking for him. And when, after all this time, we see each other again, I expect I'll run to greet him and throw my arms around his neck. He'll be smiling and that upper lip will be quivering.
I love you, Daddy. I will meet you in the morning over there.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

John's House: Before and After

One year ago this month John bought his first house. As you can see from these pictures, he has come a long, long way in a year. He still needs some furniture, rugs, window treatments, wall art, and accessories, but I wanted to document the progress that has been made in a year.

This is what the exterior looked like. He has since had the brick painted and the old shrubs removed. No after pictures yet. This spring/summer he plans to add old-world plank style shutters and some new landscaping.




Living Room: Before


Living Room: After

Master Bedroom : Before
This is Jason, without whom John would have been at a total loss. Jason and his wife Angie have remodeled and flipped several homes. Jason volunteered and came and worked for about seven or eight weeks. He and John would work in the evenings after their jobs. They worked many, many nights until midnight or after. They worked all day on Saturdays and I believe even a few Sunday afternoons. You just don't find very many friends in life like Jason



Master Bedroom: After



Master Bath: Before




Master Bath: After

There's Tim making pictures. Up a little, dear, and get the new light fixture, please. :)


Guest Bedroom One: Before



Guest Bedroom One: After
Tim's mother gave us this bed when we bought our first house. I had slept in it when I visited Tim's parents' home when Tim and I were engaged. I thought it was so pretty, and I felt like a princess when I woke up the first morning in their lovely guest room. The bed is from the civil war period. There are two other pieces that go with it. I think John's Me-me would be happy to know we passed this on to him for his first home.


Hall/Guest Bath: Before



Hall/Guest Bath: After
This picture just does not do this room justice. It turned out so pretty. The white bottom portion of the walls are beadboard.


Guest Bedroom Two: Before


Guest Bedroom Two: After



Kitchen: Before

Kitchen : After


The small table and chairs were set up for the Christmas party. They are not normally there.

Family Room: Before
Family Room: After
The old trunk, serving as an end table at the end of the sofa, belonged to John's great, great, grandfather (Tim's great grandfather).



Dining Room: Before


Dining Room: After
The spindle-backed chairs were Tim's mother's. (The folding chairs, again, were set out for the Christmas party.)


Laundry Room: Before


Oops! No after pictures of the laundry room. I can report that it was all redone with beadboard walls and ceiling and tile floor. While it is not decorated, it is clean and neat. A big improvement!


Game Room: Before
Game Room : After
You really can't see the details, but this room turned out much nicer than I ever thought possible. Nick M. put in canned lighting (which Troy W. did in the rest of the house). Nick did the trim work in this room, textured the walls, and stained the concrete floor.

The game room seems to be a popular place. Next to the kitchen or dining room or whereever the food is. :)


The back yard has a beautiful swimming pool with a liner that was only a couple of years old when John bought the house. I have a before but not an after picture, so I will post those this summer.


This house was really a blessing from the Lord. I saw an ad in the Sunday paper that I thought was too good to be true. The next morning I decided to call on it. The seller told me he already had it sold. The buyer was bringing him the earnest money that afternoon. He said his phone had been ringing off the hook, but he agreed to take my number and call me if the deal fell through. Late that afternoon, he called. The buyer's girlfriend was upset because she hadn't got to look at the house yet, and they couldn't come until Wednesday, two days later.


I told the seller, "I am turning my car around and heading to the house now." When I found it, I saw it was in a good neighborhood and looked good from the outside. I called Tim and John. They came almost immediately. When the seller arrived, he found us converged in the driveway.


He explained their situation. They had already bought a new home in one of NLR's best areas. The house was vacant. Ah, that was good! He seemed very motivated to sell it.


When he opened the front door, we were greeted by the smell of DOG. There was old furniture and junk laying around. The house needed a major facelift. It was just what we were looking for. :)


Tim started bargaining. The seller wanted to sell the house "as is." While it appeared to have "good bones," we wanted to know what was under those "bones." We called Troy Willis. Bless his heart. He came immediately even though it was now about 8:30 and dark and cold outside. He went up in the attic. He crawled under the house. He assured us that it was in good shape structurally. The only thing he could see was that the electrical needed to be brought up to code.


We struck a deal, and in about a month John was a homeowner. The Lord blessed him with a sweet deal. And the opportunity to earn a little sweat equity, a character-building experience. :)

































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mouse Tales

Yesterday I got an interesting phone call from Tim. "Honey, there's a mouse in my car."

"What?!"

"Yes. He must be in the ductwork. He's chewing up things and it's coming out the vents. Blowing all over the place. And it smells terrible in here."

"Tim! How in the world did you get a mouse in your car?"

"Remember last weekend when we were at the farm, and I got those boxes out of the container and put them in the car?"

Ah! Then I understood.

The containers. That's a story in itself.

The containers are large trailers from former ABF trucks. Tim purchased them in 2002 about the same time we purchased the farm. He had the wheels cut off, had a nice large pad built and had them set up on the pad with some space between them - large enough to pull a dump truck or tractor into. He planned to use the containers to store tools and equipment and various other items.

As some of you local readers probably know, we lived at the farm for four years before moving back to town. During that time, the containers became our storage buildings. When we first began storing things there, we were pretty much city slickers with no thought for the little creatures that are just a fact of country life - mice.

It didn't take long for us to learn. But, not before the mice had invaded boxes of clothes, papers, and other items that should never have been stored in those containers. Oh, what a mess!

We learned our lesson about what was appropriate and what was not appropriate to store. If it can be chewed up, don't store it.

So, I was surprised when Tim came into the house at the farm last weekend and said, 'I found a couple of boxes of things I thought you might be interested in for the blog. Come out and take a look."

In the back of his SUV sat two cardboard boxes. Mostly they contained several old trays of slides. Some had been his dad's. Some had been my mother's. I had no idea those had been left in one of the containers. Year ago, even before we moved to the farm, I spent several days sorting through and organizing old slides.

We thought maybe these were just discards, slides we didn't want, that had somehow ended up in storage. But, no. We began pulling out individual slides and holding them up to the light. "Tim, look, here's a great picture of your mother!"

Then, "Here's another great picture! This tray belonged to my mother. Oh, I'm so glad you found these! Let's take them home and I'll sort through them."

What we did not realize was that lurking somewhere in one of those boxes was a mouse. That's the only plausible explanation we can come up with for a mouse being in Tim's car.

We conferred about what he should do. He turned off the heater and cracked the window. He made a quick stop at a store for mouse traps, but they didn't have any.

Tim is a busy man. His day planner was chock full of things to do. He had places to go and people to see. He was in another county nowhere near home where he could trade out vehicles. There seemed to be nothing for him to do but to proceed on his way with his little stowaway on board.

He called me later. "Honey, you better be glad you're not in here. I don't think you'd like it. It sounds like he's right above my feet."

He was right. I wouldn't have liked it. Not one little bit. And that's the understatement of the year!

Tim zoomed in just in time for a quick bite and change of clothes before church last night. He parked his car. We went to church in my vehicle. After church, we went to the store and purchased two mouse traps. Tim loaded them up with peanut butter.

This morning, he went out to check his traps. There, on the front passenger floorboard was a dead mouse.

Tim left for a busy day in a mouse-free vehicle. End of tale.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

John, December, 1988, age 4

Yesterday I felt spoiled here in the middle of winter. It was 61 beautiful degrees - and sunny to boot. I reveled in the sun's warm rays as I went about my errands.

But now, according to the forecast, it's time to pay the piper. The high forecast for today is 42 degrees. That's 19 degrees colder! And a low of 27. 27? For crying out loud, this is supposed to be the deep south. But wait! What's this for Thursday? A high of 35 and a low of 16?!

Here's what I recommend. If you absolutely have to get out, bundle up real good. And, don't forget your hat!

Natalie, November, 1992, age 3

Natalie and Brock, December, 1995, ages 6 and 8
If you don't have to brave the cold, cozy up with a good book.
John, January, 1988, age 3


And don't forget the hot chocolate.
Brock and John, 1989, ages 3 and 5


That should do the trick.
And just remember, in this part of the country, the cold spells usually don't last too long. We'll get a respite. It'll probably be in the 70's next week. At least I hope so!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Steeple Sunrise

This is the view from the front of our house during the winter months when the trees are bare. Tim made this picture last week as I sat and sipped my morning coffee and looked out at this splendid scene. As far as we are concerned, it's the very best thing about our house - the view of the steeple of our church.

As I sipped my coffee, I thought about the very early risers who were already, at that very moment, praying in the church. I knew that by the time I made my way down the hill and around the bend, the fire of the Spirit would already be kindled. For this house of worship truly is a "House of Prayer."

Each day, from about 3:30 a.m. until midnight or so, many people make their way to the church to pray. Most of them attend our church, but some do not. They are simply local citizens who know that the church is always open for prayer.

Our pastor encourages us to pray. He makes the beautiful church sanctuary a place for prayer. Consistent daily prayer has made a difference for our church. It has made a difference for our family. It has made a difference for me.

There is no better way to begin, or to end, the day than with prayer. "The effectual fervant prayer of a righteous man availeth much."






Wednesday, January 7, 2009

John and Kyle Went to Sac, Had a Great Time, and Now They're Back!

John and Kyle at the airport upon their return Monday night


On December 30th, John and Kyle D. headed out to the great state of California. Kyle has a girlfriend there, whom he met at PEAK last year, and he invited John along. They were both pretty excited about the trip.

Lisa and Tony C. put them up in their guest house. Thank you so much, Lisa, for all you did for these guys. They both appreciate the hospitality you, Tony, and your Kyle showed them.


Thank you, too, for the pictures! As far as I know, they are the only ones John has of his trip.

.John, Kyle C., and Kyle D.


One of the highlights of the trip for John was going skiing. We don't get to do that here in the deep south. Tony and Kyle C. took him to Lake Tahoe, and he had "an awesome day."


John, Tony, and Kyle C. before the ski trip

John and Kyle at Lake Tahoe ski area
Other highlights of the trip, at least for John, were being in service at TheRock Church, playing flag football with the guys there, and visiting San Francisco. Thanks to Clayton W. for introducing John around. He said he met lots of nice people and made some new friends.
The welcome mat will always be out for you nice California folks. Ya'll come!










Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Friend's New Home, Plus a Bonus - Rylie!

Jackie, Kim, and Rylie

Last Friday afternoon, I had the pleasure of visiting with my dear friend, Kim, in her new home. She and her husband, Jackie built a beautiful new house last year. I had been there several times during construction, but I had not seen it since they moved in. She was going to take her Christmas things down on Saturday, so we agreed on Friday for the visit.

She gave me the tour - the house is gorgeous. She fed me, and we had a nice visit. Later Jackie came in from work, Tim called and was leaving work, so we all met up at Cracker Barrel and had dinner. Tim had not seen the house since they moved in, so they invited us back. When we got to the house, we were greeted by Kim's mother, Lou, and a friend, Michelle, who had stopped by. And then, oh joy, Rylie showed up! She and her parents, Jackie and Jen, were on their way to eat and came by. Oh, we had so much fun with Miss Rylie!

Jackie and Jen

Now, it was easy to tell Kim is a grandmother. She had Christmas everywhere - villages (lots of villages), angels, and a lovely nativity scene. She even had a Christmas room! What a magical place for a child! In addition to the tree were animated carolers, an animated Santa and Mrs. Claus, and other things too numerous to list. But, the thing that impressed me most was that, with the exception of a few things placed up high, Rylie was allowed to touch anything. (Of course, Rylie is not a destructive child and is amazingly careful for a two-year-old).

Kim also had several animated stuffed animals and toys that played Christmas music. Rylie liked to get them all going at once.

Here's a clip of Kim and Rylie.


Rylie also enjoyed "playing" an electronic keyboard that belonged to her daddy when he was a little boy.

Here she is jammin'.


What a fun time we had! Thanks, Kim & Jackie, and Jackie & Jen for sharing the joy of Rylie with Tim and me!












Monday, January 5, 2009

Oh, Boy, It's a Boy!


2009 is bringing Tim and Lauren a special kind of joy - they are expecting a baby boy!


It took 3, yes, 3, ultrasounds, to get the little fellow to cooperate, but on December 19th they finally got the exciting news. He is due on March 18th.


We are excited for you Tim and Lauren! We look forward to welcoming you to a brave new world this year - the wild, wonderful world of parenthood. Hang on for the ride!