Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Pageant

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called
The mighty God,
The everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace."

The girls did a fantastic job in the Christmas pageant that our homeschool group put on this last Thursday evening. Macy did an excellent job saying her debut speaking part (wording above); Annie did an excellent job entertaining the people on the first row (thanks again, Julie, for maintaining her as well as you did!); and sweet, little Tressie did an excellent job singing the chorus lines and twirling her hair...and waving to mommy and daddy every chance she saw us looking at her! The evening was priceless!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Celebrating the Christmas Season w/ Friends!

What a perfect month to celebrate the Christmas season...

Those that enjoy warmer than normal weather have had that! And those that enjoy cooler than normal weather have had that as well! So all in one day, we were able to enjoy the best of both worlds!
The girls and I were able to go see "Dr. Fred" who is the world's best pediatric dentist! The girls LOVE going to his office, so that alone was equatable to a great day! That afternoon was spent delivering birthday party invitations, and we even helped ourselves to an impromptu visit with Brooke, Janie, and Marguarite! At this time of year, we couldn't plan a better opportunity to get together to visit and play outside!
Then that evening, we were able to get out and enjoy some of the Christmas season with some of our good friends, Charley, Laura, Annah, Sam, and baby Kate! The early evening brought Christmas lights, caroling, a quick visit with "a man dressed like Santa," hot chocolate and home-made marshmallows (Thanks...what a great gift!)!
After a fun evening with these peeps, we enjoyed a quick visit to our friends' open house to celebrate the birthday of our good friend, Micah, who is back at home for the holidays! Happy Birthday, Micah!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Time to start planning for Christmas!

For our family, there are three plants that must be present in order for it to feel like Christmas!

My top three favorite "can't live without" plants for Christmas are paperwhites, Christmas Cacti, and a collection of beautiful, blooming amaryllis bulbs. And for most a house still isn't ready for Christmas without at least one poinsettia, of course, so I'll add it to my list as well! And as such an emotional being, I do get butterflies in my tummy when I even think about the days' arrival when it's time to start preparing them for their big show!

Paperwhites: I can't think of paperwhites without thinking of my dear Alal. She gave me my deep love for the intoxicating smell of paperwhites. Going to her house during the holidays is such a wonderful, sweet memory for all of us! But one of my favorite memories is pulling up to her home and seeing the beautiful display of white blooms' leaning on the windows, and once you entered her home you could smell her perfume in her white hair as she hugged you and then immediately afterward smell the beautiful aroma of the paperwhites behind her! And how easy can they be?!?!
I like to be among the first customers of the year to purchase paperwhite bulbs (in bulk for a discount, of course!) to give away as gifts, display in our home, and if I can, save a couple for another impressive display at Easter. A pretty container, some pea-gravel (my preference), an odd number of bulbs, a little water...and you're done! And I'm absolutely positive that one can watch them grow, if you stand still and watch closely! They're so eager to impress! And that-they do!
(Tip to stunt their growth: if they are growing too tall, a little splash of vodka [or other strong alcohol] will prevent them from growing to heights unseen!)

Christmas Cacti: At this time of year in particular, I see Christmas cacti for sale in all of the stores; however, they look so small and lonely. I like to live in my world where I think that everyone and everything has a special, wonderful story. So as I look at the lonely Christmas cacti, I know that one day they will be much bigger, showing a beautiful display of flowers, and being passed down from one generation to another for years to come! And again...how easy is it to care for them?!?!
As sentimental as I am, I can't remember where I got my first Christmas cactus, but regardless it's been moving around with our family for years and growing larger all along. And when Alal passed away, I was able to smuggle one or two of hers into the back of the moving van (no, now I remember I had to hide them amongst several other plants that I hid in the back of the van that Jan and I were driving!). Anyway, it has adjusted quite well to life here with our little family...spending summers outdoors and coming inside to live with us once temperatures become cooler, and now what a wonderful display from this beloved houseplant!

Amaryllis bulbs: Well, it seems that I can't mention my third favorite "can't live without" plants for Christmas without mentioning Alal once more. Obviously, you can see that she gave me a love for the holidays as well as gardening (amongst many other loves!), and I think my fondest memory was her giving me the most beautiful container with three tall, beautiful blooming amaryllis bulbs as we were pulling out of her driveway. I still have the container and dream that I can once more get it to look as elegant as it did that day when she placed it in my lap as we drove away from her house. Of course, I also have to mention my gracious husband that drove me away from her house with the delicate centerpiece in my lap, his lap (when I was driving), or protectively seated on the console between the two of us.
Another fun memory of a beautiful amaryllis is the tallest amaryllis bulb that ever lived...in our home, at least! It grew so humorously tall that Eric and I contacted Steve Bender, the gardening editor for Southern Living as well as my favorite writer for SL, and he responded personally to us and agreed that exessive temperatures or too little light promotes a stalk that grows and grows and grows! Lesson learned!

And then the poinsettia: To most people this plant is considered easily disposable. And at this time of year when most outdoor plants have relocated indoors, I'm "this-close" to agreeing. And I can tell that Eric's about "this-close" to reporting plant suicide, when he tries to shimmy his way down to our basement, where I've convinced him our plants are enjoying living their snow-bird days! Anyway, it's quite easy to keep poinsettias alive and looking well, but once their red bracts die and reflower as "just green ones"... one has to really be dedicated to not tossing the plant in the trash with the rest of his brothers and sisters! Again, I said that I'm sentimental, so I do hang onto the plant year after year! However, this last Fall I wasn't as dedicated as I could have been to ensure that my plants rebloomed another brilliant red display this Christmas, so this year, my poinsettias will remain hidden...with the other plants on the steps to the basement and the huge fern that mocks Eric as he tries to pass it.
So for now I'll just wait and hope for the next poinsettia to grace my front door from an endearing friend...and I won't even tell the ones on the back steps that they've been replaced for the time being! If one of my gal-pals reading this also finds that poinsettia rebellion (refusal to being induced to reflower) is infuriating without diligence on our part, then lets just sit and sip some poinsettia cocktails! Jan, Mimi, Lorrie?!?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Golden Compass - Please don't support it!

Most of you have already heard about or read about the movie Golden Compass. Not only is it blasphemous...well, enough said...basically, please don't go see it! To find out why...click the link below.
I do hope that this movie is not supported...at this time it's still "not yet rated."


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Annie and her buddy

As much as I love the days that have gone by as well as the present, sometimes I dream of a glimpse into our future!

I love our girls for so many different reasons; however, our little Annie is one complex being! She is so rough and tough, so active, yet so caring and gentle.

She has made a life-long friend at church, Señor Ephraim, who is extremely quiet at church; however, little Annie and he have the sweetest relationship. As soon as church is over, they both make a beeline for the area where they can sit and visit...they color, build paper airplanes, talk about their week past as well as their week to come.

They are both so blessed to have the sweet friendship that they do!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Haircuts all around, please!

Well, it's the end of summer, and we're all in the need of a haircut! So I lined 'em up and let Miss Melissa cut away! She even cut Annie's pigtails out and sent 'em home with her for us to keep! Annie wanted to be sure to have a piece to send to her penpal! Everyone but Macy and me got their hair cut, and I'm thinking of taking my hand to Macy's beautiful locks, and I think I'll let her do the same to me! My hair has gotten so long, I think I have enough to let her have a go at it! And she gets such a huge thrill out of my allowing her to paint my toes, just wait and see the look on her face when I tell her in the morning that she can have a wack at my hair!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Yummy fingernail polish!

Last Sunday we had some new friends over for lunch...Chet and Erin H. along with their new baby Harkins (or baby Hutch, as I seem to always call him!) as well as Ed and Erma C. with their son Daniel (who is a hoot!) and Ed's father, Señor Ephraim, who is "Annie's new best friend."

We had roast, cous cous, green beans w/ almonds, baby carrots, and E's delicious yeast rolls. Then for dessert, I served a new recipe that i made up for Bourbon Bread Pudding with a wonderful whiskey sauce. It seemed to be a big hit with everyone, and some even went for seconds...including the girls, to whom I had gladly given just the bread pudding; however, they were intrigued by the sauce that was being passed back and forth, and I explained to them that it was something that they most likely wouldn't care to have. And little Annie (who thinks that Sprite is too "spicy") insisted...so I gave her a teaspoon of the sauce onto her bread pudding, and she whispered to me, "Bleck...it tastes like fingernail polish!"

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

That precious girl!

Having four of us gals, we inevitably have seen most restrooms in restaurants, shopping malls, etc.

So the other day when we had to run into a store after a day of running lots of errands, I knew that it would be a good idea for us to run into the restroom "before" we began our shopping. And being in a hurry, I rushed us in and was hoping to rush us back out!

Well, Annie (the girl who is NOT in a hurry and just takes life in stride and enjoys every minute of it!) was slowly taking her time to wash her hands in the touch-free faucet and was in a stare in the mirror.

After a few minutes of us all standing there waiting for her to finish rinsing off her hands, I was "this close" to fussing at her when she broke her stare and said, "Momma, I've just been staring at how beautiful you are!"

What a precious thing that girl is!

"No talking with food in your mouth!"

"No talking with food in your mouth!" is the reminder that the girls hear from momma and daddy and of course each other over and over!

The girls and I were eating lunch together today (sandwiches that Macy had made for us), and I said, "Macy, that was delicious! Thank you!" Annie said, "What, momma?" I then said it again...the same way, for I'm in such a hurried rush today, "I told Macy 'that was delicious! Thank you!'" Then I realized why they couldn't understand me! Aghh...the horror! So I then corrected myself and told the girls, "Aghh! I was talking with food in my mouth! So sorry, girls!"

So Tressie sweetly said, "That's okay, Momma, I don't think that the neighbors saw you!"

Monday, October 01, 2007

Lost Dog - Reward!

The day that we prayed would never come has arrived! Beloved Brownie is missing!

He was last seen sporting red snowman pajamas and lovingly being held by his mother once she returned from church.

Oh where, oh where, is our beloved Brownie?!?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Book Club

I am so grateful that it is so much easier to homeschool in today's age! We are blessed by the support of much of society, our friends, our family, and our churches! And in addition to the many opportunities homeschoolers have, we have a wonderful homeschool group that has many additional opportunities for us! One of the opportunities is our homeschoolers’ book club! Each child brings a book of their choice which they have read along with a short report or narration, and it's a great opportunity for the kids to “speak” in front of a small group, and when the club meeting is over, the kids can collectively decide if they would like to all read the same book or to each choose his or her own selection! And then my favorite part...afterward, we usually get together for lunch! These are such sweet days, and I can already see them flying past!

Macy's Narration:
The Secret of the Old Clock

Annie's Narration:
The Velveteen Rabbit

Tressie's Narration:
Guess How Much I Love You

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Wo-man's best friend

Friday, September 14, 2007

Annie's riddle for PawPaw!

Backatcha, PawPaw! (I've removed the video!) In response to your riddle for Annie, here's one for you, PawPaw!

PawPaw's riddle for Annie: Why was the math book so sad?
Answer: Because it had so many problems.

Annie's riddle for PawPaw: Why is eating at a restaurant on the moon so boring?
Answer: Because there's no atmosphere!

"Annie's Watermelon Patch"

"Annie's Watermelon Patch" is now officially open for business! She grew her watermelon plants from seed, has watered them all summer, and is now going to reap the bounties of her harvest...well, maybe she and the ants are reaping the bounty. But she and her sisters were thrilled to have been able to pick their first watermelon of the season!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Nature Study - Charlotte Mason Style!

Here are a few tips that I have learned and wish to better incorporate into our nature study, as Charlotte Mason would have approved!

1. Scheduling more regular time outdoors and encouraging a spirit of investigation.
2. Encouraging the girls to try to figure out answers to their questions rather than expecting me to do all the reasoning for them.
3. When answering their questions, make the answer living—not just facts from a textbook.
4. Not to overwhelm them with too much scientific terminology too soon.
5. By giving direction, sympathy, encouragement, and helping with experiments.
6. By teaching science through a combination of nature study, laboratory work (uh... albeit, that's daddy's department!), and living books, using both random and structured studies.
7. Remembering that dabbling in random scientific information is not the same as learning careful observation and understanding.
8. By not showing my fear and/or distaste of something that interests my children.
9. By sharing their wonder and admiration for their nature discoveries.
10. By my constant learning about science and nature so I will have information to give them as they desire it.

For Sale!

It's that time of year when I clean out the kids' closets, and look what I found! I warned my fellas* to keep their stuff put up! If interested, leave me a comment and make an offer!

*permission and blessing were given by dear husband to sell!

Here's what I found:

A really nice set of Men's Tommy Amour 845 Oversize irons. In excellent condition with graphite shafts and original grips. Played only 5 rounds. Includes stand bag with double shoulder strap. $200 or best offer made by Saturday, September 15th!

A Brand New Craftsman Professional 9.0 amp reciprocating saw! Comes in hardshell case with bonus kit (blades, gloves, extension cord, safety glasses). New... never used and includes manual.
$60 or best offer made by Saturday, September 15th!

A "nearly new" Sony TRV250 camcorder! This records to Digital8 media (2 hours per tape) and also has USB streaming or i.Link connectivity. Features include, Steadyshot, 700x zoom, nightshot, and snapshot. It has only been used for about 10 hours and has been well taken care of. I will also include the battery, charging cable, AV/out cable, USB streaming cable, infrared remote control, owners manual, software CD's, and unused media!
$150.00 or best offer made by Saturday, September 15th!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Brody's first vacation...Labor Day weekend!

Well, I've finally been allowed to ride in the car...I was a little nervous at first while riding around without a strap around me like my family was riding, so they finally pulled over and helped me into my crate, and I slept all the way to our destination...I had to rest up for my first vacation...ever! Once we arrived, I excitedly jumped out to greet my favorite cousin, Buddy, whom we lovingly call Prince Snarles!

Let's go over the rules one more time, for that's a long way down!

After a long day of following this bucket'o'fun, several romps under the bridge and getting to lap water out of the creek with my cousin Prince Snarles, I had to enjoy my first over-night vacation! After all, it's a hard time keepin' up with all of my gals, and I was ready for an evening of relaxation! But did I hear someone say, "Who wants a treat?"

What would stayin' at Aunt Jan and Uncle Eddie's be without a midnight snack?!?

Friday, August 31, 2007

Such a neat idea!

After discussing paying bills, responsibility, and other "hot topics" with a girlfriend of mine (LeighAnn was it you?), she told me something that I thought was so interesting! Some friends of theirs were working on encouraging and training their son to become a wise, responsible, young man, and they allowed him to open up his own checking account so that he could take over the responsibility of managing their family's electric bill. The son was to be held responsible for paying the monthly electric bill...he would have to accept the electric bill, write out a deposit slip and check for the appropriate amounts, have it all approved by his father and pay the electric bill in a timely manner or know that his family would have to suffer the consequences. I think this is so neat!

Of course, we have daughters who we are training to (Lord-willingly) be godly, young ladies, so I don't feel that this would be appropriate for our family...and certainly not at their ages at this time! Yet the girls and I do pray regularly for their future husbands AND their families.

One day last week, the conversation of their future husbands came up between Macy and me, and I asked her if she hoped that her future husband's parents disciplined her husband, and without a hesitation, she said that she did hope for that. I asked why she felt that way, and she said that she hoped he was being taught to do what was right. I was so proud of her for thinking about this!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Busy days!

I just absolutely love being able to be a "stay at home mom"! To me, it's the most rewarding job in the world! I'm absolutely in love with my kids, husband, and making our house our home. Thank you, Lord, for the many blessings that you have given to us!

And my favorite days are the days that daddy spends with us...even if it is just for an afternoon. So I was thrilled to have an afternoon that E took off of work early to run around town with our little fam as we went and ordered a couple of "workbooks" (who doesn't crave the smell of a fresh workbook...it's all I can do to keep myself from doing the girls' workbooks myself!), visiting our friends' new baby Katherine Jane S. (although I told everyone that it was Katherine James!) who is absolutely adorable! And then a successful, family trip to Sam's!

Now, I'm not saying that I wouldn't rather be spending a relaxing day with my toes in the warm, sugary-white sands at Rosemary Beach on the gulf of Mexico while E and I sipped refreshing margaritas and watched our sun-burnt free children playing in the sand; however, this was a pretty great day!

Friday, August 24, 2007

How much does this cost?

Yesterday, we quickly did most of our school work in the morning (leaving some more readings to be done in the afternoon) so that we were able to go and pick up Miss Craig and take her with us to have lunch with Laura S...and Anna and Sam!

After lunch, we ran inside a new bookstore in the mall, and the girls were thrilled! But so was I, for everything in the store was automatically half-off...I love stores like that; however, it just makes me cringe a touch when I go into the next store and my brain automatically takes 1/2 off there as well! But back to the girls...it is so nice to have children that get thrilled to go into a bookstore; however, there were too many books that they were begging for me to purchase for them.

Knowing that they each have their own little purses, and some of them actually haven't spent all of their "spending money," I saw an opportunity for them to decide whether or not they wanted to make their own purchases. Tressie quickly set her eyes on a book on tea parties...no surprise there!

She asked the lady, "Um. Excuse me, ma'am. Um. How much does this book cost?"

The lady answered, "$5.00."

Tressie said, "Well, I only have one dollar and a few pennies."

The lady was quickly cast under Tressie's spell and answered, "Well, if your mommy says that you may, then I will sell it to you for $1.00."

Tressie was beaming with pride, and she successfully made her transaction ALL by herself. I did show her how to set her purchase up on the cashier's table, then she counted her money out and slid them across the counter to the lady! Then she asked the lady for her receipt to put in her purse and then said, "It was a pleasure doing business with you!" And the lady ran to the back of the store to get her manager to have Tressie tell him what she had said.

Now, all the while Miss Craig had picked out the same book, and I could tell that she was thinking, "I'd like to get this for my grandkids, but I'd like that same deal!"

Then once the coast was clear, Annie set her eyes on her prize and begin to "bargain" for the David and Goliath book that she HAD to have! She went to the manager (since the other lady was still palling around with Tress!), and she asked him, "How much does this book cost?" And I'm standing back watching and thinking, "Once again...here we go!"

He answered, "$5.00."

Annie said, "Well, I only have one nickel!"

Now the fella was cast under Annie's spell, and he answered, "Well, let's think. What can you do?"

She said, "Well, do you have any jobs here that I can do?"

He said, "Well, let me think!" "There's a customer over there that looks like she might need some help. If you'll make sure that she can find everything okay, then I'll give you that book!"

As a mother-hen I watched her closely, and I could see that we weren't getting out of there any time soon! Annie was then proudly accepting her task as a "worker" and making sure that customers were "finding everything okay"! She did a great job, and the look on her face was priceless when she was awarded her earnings...she's still holding onto that book tightly! And she had to call her daddy at work and Mimi and Aunt Jenni and Aunt Losi,...to tell them what a great day she had! "My first real job!" she continued to exclaim!

After a couple of more stops to help Miss Craig get some of her shopping done, we dropped her back off at her house, helped her unload her shopping bags, then drove back home and collapsed...on the sofa to finish our readings, of course!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Back to school!

Well, we've already begun our school year...we generally begin the day after Labor Day! But this year, we wanted to begin earlier...and we've had a WONDERFUL week! I can't believe that it's already over! We're actually looking forward to next week, for then we'll be a little bit more "in the swing of things"!

To begin with a "fresh slate" this year, we re-organized our family room (which is where we get our seatwork done) and have created lots of checklists, which our girls LOVE like their mommy LOVES...and even daddy has grown to love!

Who doesn't have a successful feeling wash over them when they get to cross something off of their checklist?!?

And although Monday morning's schedule isn't quite yet "flawless," we did at least get a day of "orientation" done! I came into the family room, and the girls were lined up fully dressed and proudly wearing backpacks (under the thoughtful guidance of big sister!) and harmoniously saying, "Good morning, Mrs. Chandler!" And their daddy had written on a board, "Welcome back, students!" It was too cute!

On Tuesday morning we really got down to business and were finished by 1:30, so we still had time to spend a lazy, summer day at the pool with friends!

Now, it's Wednesday, and we're actually getting ahead of our schedule! What a wonderful, great feeling!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Firetrucks and Beach Balls! In that order!

Friday afternoon, the girls and I ran our errands...perhaps too many, for it was a hot day, and half of the cold things that we bought were sure to melt on the way home! After just running into Wally World "for a second," we ran into a friend of ours in the parking lot...I tell you that parking lot was so hot! It was so hot that I just couldn't stand there and visit...couldn't leave the car running with the girls in it...couldn't leave the girls in the car without the A/C running...what's a gal to do! The heat coming up off of the black pavement was torture enough!
So with very poor manners, I shouted to LeighAnn..."Gotta run...popsicles are melting...run by our house, have a popsicle, and we'll talk there!" Yes, very poor manners...but sometimes the best visits are impromptu visits! So LeighAnn and her girls ran by since their daddy and brother were out of town. And wow...I really recommend to anyone to have friends drop by when you're trying to get the groceries out of a hot car and into your cool house! What a treat!
Having too much fun just hanging out talking, we talked them into staying for supper, and Eric set up the DVD projector for the girls to watch a movie while we just sat there eating popcorn and still chatting! As the evening grew longer and the movie ended, they packed up and started to head home. As we were outside saying our goodbyes, we could hear nothing but sirens going up the street. Jokingly, I said, "Let me know if it's something Gladys Kravitz needs to know about!" Before I knew it, she was back in my driveway, saying, "Quickly, get in the car!" She drove me up the street to see our little local grocery store on fire! Yes, it's a small town, and this was huge! I called Eric, who then came with the girls in our car! After just a few minutes, the crowds began to grow just as quickly as the fire grew...situated right next to our gas station. Everyone was standing in awe...mind you that it's almost midnight...and people were standing there taking videos and photos with their cell phones held high in the air as if we were standing there at a concert.
Photo by Jonathan Payne
As the intensity of the heat grew, I stood there shielding my face, looking at the blazing fire with all of the other onlookers. It was becoming more and more obvious that this was a gas-leak that had exploded. And as I stood there, I had to think of those watching the Twin Towers on 9/11. If they had known that they had a couple of extra minutes, would they have been standing there with their children...uh, no! So I took LeighAnn's kids and mine back home. And after she left with her crew, Macy and I sat on the front porch talking to my mom, sister and brother-in-law, neighbors, etc. while Eric went back up there. Yes, it was 'something to write [call] home about'! Again, remember it was now getting close to 1AM...and people were walking up and down the road as if it was their usual 4:00 neighborhood stroll! So after Eric came home, Macy and I drove back up there...but first we drove by and picked up Kendall...it wasn't the first time she and I have run around the mountain in our jammies, and I'm sure it won't be the last! We went back up there to hang with the crowd that was starting to die down as the firemen were beginning to get the blazes under control. We parked our car and sat there watching, giving our own commentary...there's never a dull moment with Kendall's comedic commentary and my laughter. We made a memory...I'm sure that Macy won't forget that evening...ever...sitting on a grassy knoll at two in the morning with Mama and Miss Kendall, watching history being made. Our town is small, and nothing ever changes...which is what I love the most! But this evening, the entire mountain changed before our eyes.

The next morning we awoke and quickly donned our bathing attire (some more or less than others!), for it was Carter-Man's first birthday! And a yummy cookout and pool party were definitely in order!

Happy Birthday, Carter!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Giggles and grins

A freshly bathed girl, a tummy full of supper, a pleasant, a gentle rain falling outside, and a comforting daddy's voice reading our family devotions proved to be just too much!

Lots of popsicles, plenty 'o sunshine, fun day at the pool, two wonderful girlfriends that took our girls today so that momma and daddy could go to a drs. appointment...

Can we tell who made the most of the opportunity?!?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Stephy's Restaurant Review - Shenanigan's in Sewanee, TN

Shenanigan's in Sewanee, TN
"Atmosphere is laid-back...waaay laid back, as in the front porch or door isn't even standing straight!
Table and room decorations are at a minimum, as in you must have a minimum of sticky spots on your dining surface, a minimum of "lovelies" in the window sill...even THEY had apparently died from their experience there!
Food is surprisingly really palatable and even quite tasty.
Service is just barely (e'hem) "below" average, with little to no interest for the customer (or the sake of their health) who is peer-pressured with morbid curiosity of how to "bus their own table."
The only way that I would return as a happy customer is if they met me as I was getting out of my car with a nice, tall pitcher of whatever they have on tap (those selections did look good!) with a large, sippy straw. And I'd have to have enough "spirits" in me to not be able to notice the crooked, splintered entrance.
My recommendation for one that's considering visiting Shenanigan's is to be sure to BYOP (Bring Your Own Plate), stock up at Sam's or Costco with an abundant supply of Purell wipes for your hands, Clorox wipes for the tables, and stop by a local doctor for an updated tetanus shot!

With all of this said, I do highly recommend Jump Off Fall's Pizzeria, locally owned and operated by our one and only J and E! "Atmosphere, food, and service is impeccable! And I have to strongly suggest that one tries the Puttanesca and wide selection of organic juice boxes! When one's there, they feel as if they're family! Pets welcome."

Happy Birthday, Ricci!

It's Ricci's birthday! (And Dan's and AJ's!) Happy Birthday, fellas!

After seeing a great ad (see MY review in next post!) for an ecclectic restaurant and art gallery, Shenanigan's, which is located in Sewanee, TN, we took the scenic drive up to Monteagle for a relaxing afternoon and birthday lunch with J & E!

Aside from a terrible but hilarious lunch experience (I'd like to see their restaurant report card!), we had a wonderful time just being together. And we also had a great time touring the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, which was actually founded atop Lookout Mountain in 1857! It is so unbelievably beautiful that it reminds me of stepping back in time in a european setting! And it didn't help my euphoric feeling any, when we saw an adorable fawn bounding across the open lawn right in front of us!

Then we headed back to their house, and spent the rest of the day and evening just having fun and spending time together! Even Brody and Buddy had a good time playing Frisbee! After our traditional home-made pizza throwing contest, movie, and dessert, we jammied the girls and kissed J & E goodbye and made our trek back home!

We love our daddy and husband, and I hope that he knows we all wish that he had a wonderful birthday!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Merry Patriarch's Eve!

Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. —Ephesians 6:1-3

Encouraging our husbands, fathers, and sons as future husbands and fathers, we gals have a important task at hand. During my first marriage (ha!) counseling session, I was told that one of the greatest needs of a husband is significance, while one of a wife's greatest need is security. Over the years, I have witnessed this is true. What an honor and what a task it is to be called to be a husband and a father, i.e. family shepherd and patriarch!

I am ever-so-thankful to have grown up in a home witnessing first hand the blessings of these needs being met by my parents. My father served our family by providing for us spiritually, physically and emotionally.

Thank you, Daddy, for being such a wonderful father to me!

Happy Father's Day!

I pray now for the husbands (and their families!) of my daughters and fathers of their children. May they be wonderful, godly men who wish to serve the Lord with all of the hearts as well as provide for our future generations!

For a really wonderful poem, check out The Patriarch, which can be found at Poems for Patriarchs: The Verse and Prose of Christian Manhood, compiled and edited by Doug Phillips.

Monday, June 04, 2007

May's out; June's in!

I absolutely can not believe it, but Celeste ('07) and Jonathan ('04) have both graduated and moved on! I only hope that we get to continue to see them! What an honor it's been to get to know the Stoddard family...feel free to come back, Amy!

We did get to see everyone (thankfully, Jonathan was able to return home from deployment for Celeste's graduation!) at Celeste's senior recital...what an amazing voice she has! Our love and prayers go with you all! And, Jonathan, don't be surprised if you open your door one day to find that the Chandlers have taken you up on your offer to come and visit you in Hawaii!

Later that weekend, we had the Bowers and the Dorizas' over for cinco de mayo! What a great evening it was to get together with friends and good food! Once again, this year, I made Alal's spinach-chicken enchiladas (amazing!) in honor of her, for May 5th is the first anniversary of her death. She is still so greatly missed, and I can weep for her at the drop of a hat; however, I have to just think about what she would do or say if she were standing next to me...she would shrug off my sadness (I'm the emotional one in the family!) and then she'd quickly change the subject...which I'll do right now!

Brownie's Birthday! Every, single day we hear,"Today is a special day....it's Brownie's birthday!"

So one rainy Saturday, the girls planned a birthday party which we were all invited to attend! Macy made him a beautiful, three-layer birthday cake our using her easy bake oven while Tressie and Annie set the table and took care of the decorations. We all assembled, sang "Happy Birthday" to him, took some photos and definitely wrote it on the calendar...surprisingly, we haven't heard mention of his birthday...we all know now that his birthday is May 12th! What fun days these are to be able to celebrate the love that a child has for a floppy-eared, brown "magical" dog! Oh, to be loved like that!
Surprise... Happy 3rd birthday, Brownie!

Talk about surprises...we got a call early one Saturday morning to learn that K-ren was going to be passing through our area...well, we said, "Come'on! You must!" What a wonderful surprise it was, and what a great time we had! Please come back again, soon!

The next week was quite a busy one...not only are we trying to wrap up our school year, but we also had several "social" engagements....our church had a going away party for Andy and Moriah, Lindsey's bridal shower (such a sweet girl...I can't wait until she marries and moves here so that I can get to know her better!), Kellie's high school graduation party, and a farewell party at our house for the Bonds. So all week long, the girls and I made some progress toward our completions of 3rd grade, 1st grade, and Kindergarten; tidied up the house; a little gardening; and party planning! After several trips to party stores and Sam's with Lorrie for Kellie's party as well as our party, Friday came. And what a fun evening we had getting to catch up with friends that we haven't seen in a while at Kellie's party, and then we rushed home to set up our "drive-in" movie party for the Bonds. Eric and Rob R. set up the movie and popcorn machine while Nicky, the gals and I set up the tables...and once night fell, we relaxed and were able to visit with our friends before we had to say farewell....for a little while at least...y'all are coming back; right?!?!?

That Sunday, we ran into our good friends Scott and Kathy at church...so we insisted that they come home with us for lunch and to catch up! What sweet friends they are...Kathy spent most of the day snuggled on the sofa while Macy read to her, and Scott spent most of the day helping Annie find/count her and Brownie's 800 invisible puppies! We were able to talk to Jen and Mom, and we went and fed the reindeer. It was really great...and surprising to see them! I thought all week long...K-ren visited last weekend; Scott and Kathy visited this weekend; who will we get to see next weekend?!?

Well, after a month-long time of such fun, it was bound to happen...we wore ourselves out! One by one, we began to drop like flies! We've all sweetly shared a lovely allergy/cold virus which is unrelenting! And of course, we get a call saying that a good friend of mine is coming to town...Eric Hathaway! I haven't seen him in over 10 years! I just hope that we can all get better!

Although I don't have a voice, I do want to wish Brite and Elaine..."Happy birthday!"

Friday, June 01, 2007

A most memorable Mother's Day!

The Friday afternoon before Mother's Day, I answered the phone to hear a lady asking to speak to.... Macy, so I gave Macy the phone and watched her slowly walk into the other room...as if for privacy. I overheard her say, "Yes, ma'am! Oh! Thank you! Yes, ma'am! Wow! Thank you! May I have my daddy call you back? Thank you! Bye!"
It was then obvious that she was successfully scheming...after all, she had been looking at her calendar for the past month and then letting me know 'how many more days it was until Mother's Day'!
She then asked for permission to call her daddy, and then she once more walked into another room...again, as if for privacy. She spoke to him and then hung up the phone.
The phone rang again a little later, and it was daddy telling her to get ready, for he would come home and pick her up...they had a little errand.
All the while, Macy was fully gleaming with pride and excitement. She later left with her daddy and then returned with an even bigger grin...perhaps she'd tell me now...I couldn't wait until Sunday morning...and she certainly couldn't either!
I watched her hop out of the back of her daddy's car, as she gleefully ran up to me saying, "I was a runner up! I won a contest, Mommy! I won a gift bag for you from the Mtn. Escape Spa!"
She then handed me the gift bag along with the sweetest essay that has ever been written...
Why My Mother is So Special
By Macy C.
age 8

My mommy is special because she makes my life special. She loves me very much.
She is my teacher, she is my best friend. She teaches me my school lessons, but also teaches me how to sew, how to cook, how to take care of a family, and what the best kind of chocolate is.
She has taught me how to love other people, especially those who may not feel loved all the time.
My mommy tries to make each day as fun and interesting as it can be. She makes sure our birthdays are extra special, and even celebrates my half birthday because mine is so close to Christmas.
She tries to be the best mother she can, but I think she already is.
She makes me want to be a mother just like she is.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Grace, Peace, Strength and Confidence

Back in March, I read a wonderful speech by Anna Sofia Botkin, and I just thought I would blog some of my thoughts that I sent to some of my dearest friends. This speech was written for younger ladies, but I think that we can all apply it to our lives, in whatever stage of life we are...high school, college, post-college and awaiting God's calling on your life, mothering children, grand-children, or perhaps even great-grandchildren! We are still all Christian daughters that desperately need each other's encouragement! She reminds this generation of women to be good, faithful daughters of the King by yielding our hearts to Him.

I think everyone that knows us knows that I/we often wish that we could just live in our "little house on the prairie" and not look evil in the eye. Yet our lifestyles today do not allow us to hide...everywhere we go, evil and sin are blatantly in our faces. This is such an evil generation that we are in! I appreciated Anna's statement, "This generation is arrogant; it has no respect for its parents, for its heritage, for authority. They are blinded by their pride." Yes, we are! And she was also so right when she said that we are tempted to get used to such blatant and open sin...the more we see of it...the more desensitized to it we become! What great encouragement this article was to me...she reminds us that when we do see this blatant and open sin (or feel tempted to become desensitized by it), we have to see it with the Lord’s eyes... and that every time we see it, it should be even more despicable to us.

One of my favorite recent sermons was our Pastor Kevin's sermon that he preached on a Christian's life being viewed as a moving picture and not just a snapshot! In other words, we can not form a picture in our minds of one another as we are; yet we are to view each other as a work in progress. And that is also so encouraging to me, for I know that I am definitely a "work in progress"! And yet tomorrow I should be closer to God and more aware of my tasks at hand than I am today!

I so greatly admire Anna Sofia's ability to speak graciously and with such strength and confidence. Consistently articulate, I am not; however, I am here if any of you need anything. I can listen, pray for you and walk with you by your side as we together pray for a better relationship with God as well as a thankful heart for His putting us in this generation, for there is so much for us to do! I am thankful that He made me a woman, born into a family of believers, given to a man of God, and has been given the honor to give life to three additional women of God! What an honor...and also what a task at hand!

So may we continue to encourage one another by prayer and friendship as well as encouragement to stay rooted in His word! I love you all, my sweet sisters! And as I've told you, Ruth and Ivey, we must remember "to stand firmly...with confidence"!! He will bless those who are obedient to Him! If you know that you are walking in the Lord's ways, trust and have faith that in His timing He will bless you with the desires of your hearts!
To read The Thirteenth Year by Anna Sofia Botkin, click here.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Busy but fun weekend!

It's that time of year again....the last weekend in April...one of our family's favorite times...a drive up to South Pittsburg for the National Cornbread Festival!

This year, we were able to coordinate meeting Aunt Jan and Uncle Eddie in South Pittsburg for the festival! It was great to see them and meet some of Uncle Eddie's family. We had lots of great food, fun shopping the local vendors, fun "spinning the wheel" to see if we won anything (which we did!), and had fun watching some of the Cook-Off! The weather again this year was more than pleasant...it was wonderful! We are already looking forward to next year's!

Then we had a little birthday gift exchange...they gave the girls' little gifts (thank you, again, for it was too sweet of y'all to also give Macy and Tressie little gifts too!) and Annie [April 1st] her birthday gift. And we gave Aunt Jan [April 15th] her birthday gift.
Then Eric, the girls, and I did some of our shopping for a few annuals and perennials at the Lowe's there in Jasper. And then we headed home to plant and play outside and get ready for the rest of our weekend!
The next day we had Celeste Stoddard and her suite-mate Jenny Johns over for lunch after church...it was great to see them, but we are so sad to be seeing Celeste graduate from college...it seems like it was just a month or so ago that her older brother Jonathan came! We love them so much!
Then that afternoon, our supper club had a surprise birthday party for Cici over at Rob and Laura's house...I thought Cici would know about the party, for sure; but she was definitely surprised!

Tour de Georgia

Now for the second year in a row, we've had the pleasure of watching an amazing bike race pass right by our house! On Wednesday, April 18th, the third stage of Tour de Georgia had the bicylists travel from Rome, GA to Chattanooga, TN (118 miles), and what a thrill it was to watch the pelaton buzz right past us! We could tell that the bicycles were nearing us when we saw the helicopter that was following them hovering over us...and before we knew it, the pelaton had already gone by us...it was a whirlwind!

Then the next day, stage four of Tour de Georgia traveled from Chickamauga, GA to Lookout Mountain (18.9 miles) as one of their time trials! And once again, it was amazing! Not only is it fun to get into the spirit of cheering on the bicyclists as they individually pass the finish line (which was directly in front of us), it's also fun to see all of your friends and neighbors out and about!

Plain, 'Ole Momma!

One morning after we had finished some house and schoolwork, the girls and I went to the mall to exchange/return a few things, and while we were in Belk I saw a door that led into a small room (rather a large closet!) that had nothing but racks of shoes (only for the left foot) heavily discounted. So as I began to shop in my size, the girls naturally began to pick up shoes that "they" thought were their size. [I can clearly remember wearing Alal's high heel shoes and thinking that they were the right fit, so I thought there was no harm in allowing them to shop as well...you have to understand that this room was not in the best order...nothing was in its place, so one needed to have some time sorting anyway to find an appropriate shoe!] And besides...it was fun to watch what shoes each girl picked out...it revealed a lot about their personalities! It was also fun to hear the girls' critiquing one another's selections! There were not too many other people in the room/closet with us, so I enjoyed watching the girls while we continued to try on right shoe after right shoe. Then Annie shouted, "Momma, those shoes aren't for you...you're just a plain, 'ole momma!" So of course, everyone that was in the room/closet turned around to see what I was wearing....she was right, they didn't look good on me. Thankfully, I did find the perfect pair...my Aigners which were originally $89 were discounted to $16! Woohoo!

Friday, April 20, 2007

AJ's 1st communion!

What a wonderful Easter!

Well, we were successful at finding a good home for our baby chicks (it was so amazing to watch them grow so quickly! I wonder how they're doing!?!?!), so we were onto our next project...getting ready for our trip to Louisiana to see some of my family. And what a wonderful trip it was!

Eric rode on to work with Charley, and the girls and I packed the last few things in the car, dropped Brody off at the kennel (his least favorite place!), picked up Miss Craig, ran to the bank, and then picked up Eric at his office around 10AM, and hit the road! We all just had to laugh at poor Eric when he saw the car that he was getting into...and his traveling across-country with five women...and all the things that we just HAD to have on a trip (hat boxes and all)! Our car was packed to the max!

We arrived in Monroe right at dinner time, and we made a quick detour to see Miss Craig's family's pecan groves, which is right beside the Children's Home that has the miniature horses that Macy and I met back in October. Since we had told Annie and Tressie all about the horses, and since we had been given an invitation to come by and visit, we did! The horses were in the cutest, little stable...which the girls think daddy is going to quickly build them a replica! Then we went to met my Aunt Lil, my cousin Amy, and her daughter, Melanie and Miranda (who our girls just adore!), and Miss Craig's grand-daughter Elizabeth at a restaurant for a quick dinner. After saying goodbye to all, Eric and the girls and I went on to our hotel for the night, and then on the next morning to see Mamaw.

We arrived a little early for the Easter egg hunt, so we were able to visit with Mamaw, my great-uncle Ralph and his lady-friend, Uncle Ray and Aunt Virginia, Aunt Losi, and once again Amy, Lil, Melanie and Miranda. What a great day it was getting to see Mamaw and some of her friends...and not to mention the Easter egg hunt (Tressie found one of the prize eggs...woohoo!) and getting to play BINGO! Although it was a little chillier than the last couple of Easters that we've spent in LA, it was wonderful weather. Then that afternoon, Miss Craig rejoined us, and we all drove on to Shreveport, where we met her brother Paul. After saying goodbye to them, we drove on to Pawpaw's house and then on to our hotel. After sweet Pawpaw and Eric got all of our luggage inside (that was a huge task, for it was bitterly cold!), we said goodnight to Pawpaw and had a great night's sleep.

We awoke the next morning, and Pawpaw drove over and had breakfast with us at the hotel. Then we drove over to his house and art studio and visited for a while. After a wonderful lunch at our favorite place in Shreveport, Imperial Cathay, we drove over to Jimmie's house...Auntie Uh-Oh! We had a wonderful visit with her, and then left to go and see some of Pawpaw's artwork on exhibit and then on to the boardwalk along the Red River...let me just say....it was soooo cold! After a quick dinner at our other favorite place to eat in Shreveport, The Real Pickle, we drove back to Pawpaw's and visited with him some more before we had to oh-so-sadly say goodbye....I hate goodbye's! Then back to our hotel....again, it was bitterly cold! I think back and wonder...did that groundhog see his shadow or not?!?!?!

Early the next morning, we got back on the road and drove back to Ruston to see Mamaw and Aunt Losi before she drove back to Dallas. We had Sunday School with Mamaw and visited with her for most of the day before beginning our drive back! Again, I hate goodbye's! We did drive back as far as Birmingham and stopped once we just couldn't drive any further.

The next morning, we ever-so-slowly got up, and Eric did a little work on his laptop there in the hotel, then in the colder-than-normal temperatures "we" packed up once again ("Way to go, Ricci!), and then had a great time having lunch with K-ren, also called "Aunt Ique!" Then we made a mad rush to get home to get Brody from the kennel...thanks again, Kendall!

What a truly, wonderful trip it was...I wouldn't have changed a single thing! Well, it was cold, but it made that trip all the more memorable!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Our dearest Mother Simpson is now with the Lord!

A little more than a week ago we got a phone call that my dearest, great-grandmother had fallen and broken her hip. So we spent several days praying for her as well as our dear Uncle Charles, for he's been the one caring for her, and he hasn't been feeling well either. After the doctors put several pins in Mother Simpson's hip, she just wasn't able to recover, and she passed away on Tuesday, March 20, 2007.

This coming July, she would have been 102, and up until the day she fell, she still lived alone. She was a wonderful servant of our Lord, and I'm sure that the heavenly host of angels are now enjoying having her cook 'em up a mess of food....friend chicken, friend okra, and yummy greens! We miss and love her very much!

In many ways, I'm thankful that she is now with the Lord...even though at times this will be a difficult transition for our family. She lived almost 102 full, happy, blessed years and now has the full rewards of the covenant. She was loved by so many people, and she will most certainly be missed; however, her legacy will continue...she has set the bar quite high for all of us to follow in her lead! She graciously and generously served our Lord and her friends and family with such joy, and she was such a gentle, lovely, genuine woman. We've all learned so much from her, and we will always cherish our memories with her! Our family will forever be proud to have called her mother, friend, sister, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great grandmother!

That weekend, we traveled down to Graceville, Florida to be there with family for her funeral. We met Mom and Dad, Aunt Jan and Uncle Eddie, Will and Aimee, and Uncle Chuck, and all stayed in a hotel in Dothan, Alabama. Her funeral services were so nice, and I know that she was so loved by so many! After the funeral, we spent some time at her house visiting with friends and family, and then we drove back to Dothan, and Eric and the girls and I stayed an extra night there at the hotel with Mimi and Pawpaw.

We all got up the next morning and drove back as far as Troy, Alabama to visit a wonderful pioneer village and museum! It was so much fun! There were many pioneer artifacts, an authentic 1881 wood burning locomotive, a covered bridge, a one-room schoolhouse, an old log church, several log cabins, a working smokehouse, a working grist mill and beautiful nature trails! The owner's wife was there and even gave the girls lessons on spinning and weaving (beginning with showing them how to pick cotton!), and Annie was amazingly good at it! She cleanly picked every seed out of every piece of cotton that she was given! One of the girls' favorite memories that they made was feeding the chickens...now, these were not ordinary chickens, y'all! The owners suggested that we take the girls to see them, and when we began walking toward their enclosure, those chickens ran to greet us like happy puppies! It was amazing! What a great day that was, and we sadly said goodbye to Mimi and Pawpaw until we would see them...in four more days!

On our way home, we did make our traditional stop at the Peach Park in Clanton, AL. And what a great way to end our short trip...wonderful BBQ, home-ade peach cobbler and icecream, a little shopping in their giftshops, and a stroll through their little gardens, which were fully in bloom!