Saturday, April 26, 2008

Boiled Peanuts and Foggy Pearls!

We've had a wonderful week....Meems and P-Daddy came through town twice, so we were able to visit with them while they were here! The last evening that they were here, my sweet daddy told us to invite Efrem to join us for dinner, and after I insisted that I just prepare dinner here at home, Dad went and picked up Efrem for a fun, enjoyable evening here at home. We enjoyed a wonderful meal (Eric prepared Mimi and Pawpaw's favorite...pan-seared tilapia with capers and a lemon wine's really good! Macy made her famous dill cole-slaw, and I prepared mashed red-potatoes, a really good spring mixed salad with cranberries, mandarin oranges, bleu cheese and toasted/candied pecans), and then after dessert Dad and Annie drove Efrem back home, while the rest of us went for a little walk. We absolutely love having them here, for they are so easy to entertain. They always bring us really great Mimi's special pumpkin bread for (one of her two) favorite son-in-laws, wine from our favorite vineyard, boiled peanuts from our favorite L.A. road-side stand (can you tell that I had a well-rounded childhood?) The girls put on little shows for them, scratch Pawpaw's back, get up early to visit with them...Annie rushes downstairs to "beat everyone else" so that she can have "just Mimi and her time" before the sun comes up, and Macy and Tressie usually snuggle up with Pawpaw while he reads to them one fairy tale after another! We'll have big breakfasts, and then decide what we'll do for the day! Generally, Mimi and the girls and I will go one direction while the fellas take off to either Northern Tool & Supply, Harbor Freight Tools or Sears. Then we'll meet back up with one another before heading back home....then on the tragic day that they leave, we all tear up. We love them so much and always hate to see them leave!
Thank you Mimi and Pawpaw for loving us the way that you do!
We love you too!

This last time when they left, we received a phone call from Aunt Jan and Uncle Eddie, who were traveling to Sewanee, and they wanted to see if we wanted to join them for a birthday dinner for Aunt Jan at Pearl's [Foggy Mountain Cafe]...uhhh, yeah! Reservations were at 5:30, so we had to get ourselves into high gear! So our sadness over Mimi and Pawpaw quickly turned to excitement to see Uncle Eddie and Aunt Jan while celebrating her birthday...woohoo...along with a strong desire for tasting really great food and wine! Eric and I enjoyed sea scallops with a port wine & pomegranate glaze, couscous and sauteed Napa cabbage (oh, I am craving more now!); the girls enjoyed chicken fingers (which we all agreed tasted just like Mother Simpson' good!) with white cheddar cheese grits; Uncle Eddie enjoyed the special, which was tuna with wasabi mashed potatoes and somethin' else...after tasting the wasabi mashed potatoes my thoughts disappeared; and the birthday girl enjoyed roasted chicken with Basmati rice and fresh English peas. For dessert (it doesn't matter where we are eating...), all Tressie has to do is give Uncle Eddie one look (and mind you...when he's around, she right there...I'm not sure if she's wrapped around his finger, or if she has him wrapped around her little finger!), for he will order her the moon! Eric and Eddie (and Tressie) enjoyed their bread puddings with a rich bourbon glaze while Macy, Annie and I took care of a triple-chocolate mousse, and the birthday girl enjoyed her favorite...a vanilla bean Crème Brûlée...oooh, it's all sooo good!

After enjoying such a wonderful dinner, Macy and I just had to take a ride in Uncle Eddie's new hybrid SUV, so we drove out to their "home away from home" and visited with them some out there. Of course, the girls feel right at home out there...we re-make friends with Prince Snarles (or Buddy as they call their sweet, darlin' and snarlin' yellow lab), and then the girls run to their favorite 'spots.' Annie always snuggles up on the big sofa and checks out the "Where's Waldo" books while Macy and Tressie race to call shot-gun and get up on the big comfy bed in "their" doesn't take long to see why they like it so much...there's a huge TV at the end of the bed, and Uncle Eddie always finds something wonderful for them to watch! That evening, the waterfall was running so loudly, so the rest of us hung out on their sunroom, enjoyed good coffee, talked about "this and that" (eh'hem) and laughed 'til we could laugh no more. We always have such a great time going up there, and it's always hard to leave!
Thank you, Aunt Jan and Uncle Eddie, for such a wonderful evening!
We love you tons and bunches!

Friday, April 25, 2008

"Remember the tattle-taling!"

Sitting downstairs, I hear the girls quiet play turn into something more. Then I hear Tressie say these words... "Remember the tattle-taling!" followed by a quick, deliberate walk across the upstairs floor...down the stairs...and right up to me, "Momma, Annie's coming downstairs to tattletale on me!"

"Um...what are you doing, little missy?"

Now tell me that you could look at her in the eye and give her words of wisdom without cracking a smile!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Annie's birthday "week"!

This week was a loooong week!

On Monday, we ended our spring break and got back to our regular school schedule, although Momma's still re-adjusting it! (Isn't that one of the many perks of homeschooling?) After we finished our school work, the girls and I ran off to do some errands...which did include picking up a few last minute things for our birthday girl! I was wondering how-on-earth I was going to pick up a few gifts for her from her family (like a fishing pole for her daddy, a fish for her sister, etc.), and God answered our questions...the little thing asked to climb into the back of the buggy, and I bought a towel (we can always use an extra towel, and she needed a pillow!) for her to lay her head...and she was OUT! At first, I thought she was kidding, but she was truly sound asleep! And thankfully, that allowed Macy and Tressie and I to pick up a few things for her gifts and her breakfast the next morning! She didn't even wake up until I awoke her...after I had hidden her gifts in the back of the car! I think she's still just worn out from all of the tests and attention given to her not feeling well! "Bless her heart!" Her sleeping in the back of the buggy was so cute that I just had to take a photo!

On Tuesday, we got up early to begin celebrating Annie's birthday! We woke her up (yeah, right...the little early-riser was lying there in her bed pretending to be asleep so as not to disappoint us!), and we gave her some birthday gifts. Later on that morning we went and picked up her best friend, Efrem, and took him out with us to have a fun day on the town! We met Daddy downtown to have a birthday lunch with him and then the girls, Efrem and I went on to the Aquarium. (Tip to self: next time, DON'T wear brand-new shoes to do so much walking and DO take someone stronger than you when you have to wheel a heavy, run-a-way wheelchair down so many slanted paths...whew!)

Annie's showing Efrem a beautiful butterfly that she 'caught' inside the butterfly pavillion...Annie's favorite exhibit!

The girls found some divers that showed them a good time! Through the glass they played patty-cake, rock-paper-scissors, etc. They were so funny!

After our fun trip to the Aquarium, we enjoyed sitting outside at Coldstone Creamery and had a little bite of ice-cream....ooh, it's so good!

Then on Wednesday, we had to wake up earlier than usual to do our shuttling around of girls so that Eric and I could get Annie to the hospital (see earlier post). Bless her heart, it wasn't a fun trip, but it was nice to have "just you and me time."

On Thursday, we tried to have a day of normalcy and tried to stay at home. We did our schoolwork, and I did a little tidying up and preparing our foods for Annie's birthday party on Friday!

Then the next day....thank goodness it's Friday...we spent the morning doing some schoolwork, and then I got serious about getting the house ready for our supper club to come over to help us celebrate Annie's birthday! Suprisingly, Eric was at home around lunchtime when I cut my hand VERY badly, and he helped me finish up a few last-minute things before our guests began to arrive! The Parkers, Daniels, Caulkins and the Scotts all joined us...and we realized that our supper club's ratio of children to adults has increased...we now have 10 adults and 11 kids! All of them individually are such blessings!

We were prepared to have a "Hoe Down" outside; however, the weather (God!) had other plans, so we all stayed inside where it was dry, and after the kids ate, Eric set up the DVD projector and had a BIG showing of Toy Story in the family room while the adults all enjoyed our dinner. It was a fun and wonderful evening!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sweet, little Annie!

Thanks so very much to those that called, wrote, etc. Your show of love, concern and prayers for our little Annie helped us through that difficult day! We greatly appreciated it! Annie did a great job...she was definitely scared but brave. I didn't tell her too much in advance, for I feared her dwelling on it, so I let the doctor's explain it to her while I sat beside her and reassured her. I was concerned that I was being foolish by not explaining everything to her ahead of time, but it worked out perfectly!

My good friend Eric Hathaway reminded me that God 'often' does not reveal all of His details to us...only in His perfect timing. He agreed that children don't always need to know everything and that God does not always reveal everything to us. He asks us to trust Him and his knowledge and wisdom. Eric was so kind to relate these our withholding the info from her we were helping her to trust and rely on us as her parents...exactly as God teaches us to trust and rely on Him to know what is best for us. I really appreciated those words of encouragement!

I'm still amazed at how God paved our path for that day...I could definitely feel His answer to our prayers! Eric's typically even-keeled, so I didn't detect any anxiety on his part, and I could personally feel God's answer for our prayers of peace. I was still very anxious, but God did allow the doctors to have both Eric and I in the room with her, and Annie was a very strong girl!

And looking back, the time that Eric and I spent sitting with Annie and waiting 'for our turn' was precious time well spent. We always love to have the opportunity to just sit and enjoy one child at a time, and that day was set aside for some more "just you and me time"! We knew that the other girls were having a great time....Macy once again spent the day with sweet Miss Craig, while Tressie had the pleasure of becoming a Stephens for a day! And after several hours spent at the hospital, the nurses showered Annie with gifts, then we took her to pick out a new Webkinz...we would have given that girl the world! We were so proud of her, thankful that we had friends to help us out and most importantly thankful that God gave us a sense of peace and comfort!

Now just the waiting!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

God enjoys drawing us near!

After a more-than-wonderful trip to Louisiana, we knew that we needed to get back home by a certain day, for we had to have Annie at the children's hospital to have an ultrasound done on her kidneys after having several episodes with her over the last couple of months.

So early that morning Macy went to spend the morning with Miss Craig; Tressie had the joy of going to work with her daddy, while Annie and I had the pleasure of spending "just you and me time" sitting at the hospital. They checked her in, and we sat some more. The children's hospital really is a place of wonder. All of the waiting rooms are equipped with a television monitor that is playing the same movie, so as we walked from one room to another, Annie didn't miss a single line of "Surf's Up."

Just resting assured that they wouldn't find anything, I held Annie's hand through the ultrasound until she was assured herself that there was nothing to be of concern. After hearing that our doctor would 'get back with us' in a couple of days, we left and ran a couple of errands while enjoying some "just you and me time" before picking up her sweet sisters.

The next morning, the phone rang; it was our pediatrician, who called to tell us that they did find something on her left kidney, so he wanted her scheduled for further testing. Later that day, the hospital called and told us that they had scheduled her next test for the following Tuesday! Holding back the tears, I told them that was her birthday! So thankfully, I was able to reschedule it for the following day.

For some reason, God planned all of this around her birthday...I'm still not sure why; however, we decided that it was best to not say anything to sweet Annie, and we just prayed and asked our close friends and family to pray with us. We are in His hands, and in His timing He reveals to us what He wills. We as parents are so very thankful to have her...she adds so much to our lives! Sometimes so much that this 'lil gal keeps us on our knees!

Psalm 121

Monday, April 21, 2008


Easter wouldn't be Easter if we didn't go to Louisiana to spend it with our family. Well, I guess it would, for Easter is the beloved time of year that we set aside to remember our dear Savior's death and more importantly His Resurrection!

Yet it's this time of year that we travel to Louisiana to see some of our family...and this year just seemed all-the-more special. We left on Tuesday and traveled as far as we could before we ran into some weather. We got off the interstate in Pearl, MS, where we have stayed once before, but this time we accidentally chose to stay on the wrong side of the tracks...oops! The hotel, a Country Inn & Suites, appeared brand new from the outside, but once we went up to our was apparent that the inside had not been remodeled as the outside had been done. We were tired so we fell fast asleep and awoke the next morning for a quick bite to eat and then check out and hit the road...uh, watching the manager dropping his little baggie of drugs on the floor in front of us wasn't on our agenda...but it I said, 'wrong side of the tracks'! Next time, we'll either stick with what hotels we know or continue traveling! The next day we drove on to see my grandmother, my mom's mom, who was staying in the hospital. We were able to spend some time with her before we drove on to see my grandfather, my dad's dad. We drove by his house and picked him up before going to check into our hotel. The hotel was really nice, and we were given a suite with a king-size bed and a little living room/kitchen area which had a pull-out sofa for the girls at night. This set-up was perfect for us, for during the day time we could use the living area to visit with Pawpaw.

That evening, we went to one of our favorite restaurants there, Imperial Cathay, and Tressie had the thrill of her life. We ordered her an appetizer, chicken-on-a-stick, for her meal, and they brought her so that she could heat her own food. Oh, what fun those girls had, and how special Tressie felt! They each had to take a turn at it!

The next day Pawpaw came over to the hotel and had breakfast with us, and then he took us to a really neat museum, one of The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museums. There are nine of them in the United States, and the museums rotate their privately-owned exhibits of original manuscripts and documents. We were able to see the first national Thanksgiving Day proclamation under the Constitution as well as several other well-written, historical documents. The museum also has exhibits of local artists, and one of Pawpaw's good friends, had an art exhibit going on, so we were able to see some of her beautiful watercolor paintings. Then we drove over to see some "old" friends of mine (just kidding, Brian and Rachel!) to give them a baby gift.

After we left them, we headed over to Barnwell to see another art exhibit (It was beautiful photography, Bob! My favorite was the close-up of Audrey! I know you are so proud!) While we were there, I took the opportunity to take a few photos in the conservatory of my beautiful girls!

We spent the rest of the day having fun and running around town checkin' out this and that. We ate lunch at an unusual Mexican restaurant and then went to visit Auntie "Uh-Oh!" She looks so good, and it was wonderful to see her. That evening, we had a quick bite to eat before taking Pawpaw home and then heading back to the hotel. After breakfast with him the next morning, we left to drive over to my cousin's home where my mom's side of the family was all getting together.

We love you, Pawpaw, and we had a wonderful visit with you!

Easter, cont.

After we sadly left Pawpaw, we got back on the road to make it to lunch at my cousin's house. It was really great to see everyone! Aunt Lil, my cousin Amy and her daughters Melanie and Miranda were entertaining us all! Aunt Losi and Uncle Richard were there, and I was even able to see my cousin Greg, whom I haven't seen in years! My cousins Mike and Dawn and their boys were there (next time I'll see them will be in Rome!); Uncle Ray and Aunt Virginia were there for a little while. And Jen and her kids were there (Mimi stayed with Mamaw at the hospital). Everyone had so much fun...and the fact that there was a new, little puppy didn't help any! The kids had a blast just playing in their backyard; Amy had a wonderful lunch and yummy birthday cake for Michael (Happy Birthday, again!); the little ones had fun hunting Easter eggs; Jen and I had fun playing their Wii (is that how it's spelled?)! Fun and lots of laughter was had by all!

That evening we drove back to Ruston, and Macy and I dropped off Eric, Annie and Tressie to check us into the hotel where mom and Jen were staying so they could unpack us while she and I drove to the hospital to see Mamaw. We ended up spending the better part of the night there with her, for she had a difficult evening. She was so weak, and her IV wasn't working. Macy was a trooper and so patient and kind while we stayed with Mamaw. We got back to the hotel late that evening, and early the next morning Mom and I drove back to the hospital to be with her. Thankfully, Mamaw had a good night's sleep.

Later that day we drove over to Uncle Ray's house to take Annie fishing (she's dreamed of fishing her "whole, entire life"!) and have a fish fry! We had a wonderful time, and the food was unbelievable! Uncle Ray prepared us catfish marinated in Dijon mustard and then rolled in talk about good! It was a fun day spent with Uncle Ray and Aunt Virginia, who gave me a ton of sewing books...thank you! A little sun on our faces, a little shopping at the Beehive, a visit back to see Mamaw, and a nice, quiet evening in the hotel...another wonderful day! Tomorrow would be Easter Sunday!

The next day was Easter Sunday...what a gloriously, beautiful day it was! We all drove over to Monroe to worship with some good friends of ours at Auburn Avenue. It was great to see them, and the sermon was wonderful. When we got back to the hotel, we took a formal photo of Drew and all of the granddaughters ~ in their matching Easter front of a coke machine! We were all starving and ready to get out of our Sunday clothes. After lunch, some of us went to visit with Mamaw (we tried to go in shifts so as not to overwhelm her), and some of us took a nap while we were locked out of our hotel room...not even the manager's master key would open it! After the hotel had to call someone to take our door apart to get it open, we were finally able to get back into our room...and then I took the baby and left to go and spend some time with Mamaw and Mom, who was still at the hospital with her. And all I have to say is, "Whew! I had forgotten how incredibly heavy those baby carriers are! And all of the paraphernalia that one has to take 'just in case'!" But it was a lot of fun spending that time with my more-than-precious niece and watching Mamaw get so much pleasure out of seeing her! The next morning we planned to leave, but the hotel offered us another night since we had been locked out of our room, so we took it! Woohoo! Another day spent with family is great!

That evening, we had a little impromptu party/picnic in our hotel room and then the next morning mom and I went to check on Mamaw...she was peacfully sleeping, so Mom and I were able to sit outside her room and actually look at one another and visit...we had been able to see one another, but until then, we hadn't really had the opportunity to visit with each other! It was always so funny to go back to the hotel lobby to find Eric and Jen with all six of the kids' having breakfast. They always looked so cheerful and seemed to have everything under control. Of course, it was more fun to watch everyone else watching them...and some even asking, "Are all of these kids yours?" It was too funny! We spent the day meandering about town, visiting with Mamaw, going up to her house to see it again before it's sold, and an evening spent swimming in the pool. It was yet~again another wonderful day!

That evening, Eric and I packed the car, so the next morning we just grabbed a quick bite to eat from the hotel and drove over to say goodbye to Mamaw until we can come back and see her. It is so difficult to say goodbye to someone that loves you and that you love so much, but we had to start driving back home. We made an educational stop in Vicksburg for a while and then got back on the road. The trip back home didn't seem to take too long! Hope we remember that when we look at our calendars to go back out there! Soon, I hope!

Friday, April 11, 2008

The price of bird seed!

Has anyone else noticed the price of bird seed going up?!? I generally just purchase our seed at Lowe's, Sams or Walmart, but lately I've started to think, "What are my other options?!? Can I make some from scratch?!?" I think this week we may try to make our own suet...I wonder if Mikey will like it!

I get a newsletter from Bird Watcher Supply Company, and their last newsletter mentioned an apology to their customers for having to raise the prices on bird food more than twice in the last year! They mentioned that farmers are getting government subsidies to grow corn for the Ethanol craze instead of their regular sunflower crops, so there has been much less sunflower, safflower, etc. to go around. And another super-duper, interesting tidbit: Frito Lay is using more sunflower in an effort to make their snack foods healthier. Hmmm! The newsletter went on to say that the while the birding industry has never seen such high prices, we have been in this cycle before, so prices should come back down. Supply and demand at its finest!

I found all of this so interesting! Especially the part about Frito Lay! Who knew?!? And I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but I've noticed that the bird feeders themselves have been more plentiful and less expensive and demand, I guess! The stores can't sell you on buying birdseed due to its high cost, but they can certainly sell you a feeder on sale! "Now that I've sold you this lovely bird feeder, what may I sell you to put in it?!?"

Speaking of bird feeders being on sale...we do have bird feeders all around our yard, but this last one that we just bought has been my favorite! It's simple but fun! It's a hanging feeder with a tray in it that can be left in to collect water for a birdbath or removed to allow the tray under it with holes to just hold the bird seed. We have it hanging outside one of the living room windows; so for the last couple of days we've been watching several "couples" hangin' out in it! We've nick-named it the "jacuzzi" feeder...the females generally get down inside it, and the fellas hang out on the edge keeping watch of everything going on around them! One can almost hear them communicating with one another!

Now if I can just get the dern squirrels to get off of my feeders! I put out plenty of food for them on the ground....I think I'm going out there right now to 'vasoline' the poles that they seem to effortlessly climb to get to my new feeders! Those squirrels will also climb the window screens to get to the feeders that are suction-cupped to the windows...that just annoys all of us...especially the dog! "Go get'em, boy!"

God's boundless creation is amazing, and I'm so thankful that we have the opportunity to watch it...even if it is for the expensive feed and the annoying squirrels that steal someone else's food!