Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Little White Boy and a Little Brown Girl

Last week Marley and I had our first visitors from Michigan. 

My dear friend Ashley left two of her three children in the gracious and capable hands of her husband and made the trek down to stay the weekend.  After the long drive, it felt so nice to have her get out of her van, give me a big hug, and greet each other with a happy "Hello, friend!".  This was a daily greeting amongst the Kindergarten teachers and students where I taught for 12 years, and there was something so familiar and comforting about it.  It was quickly followed by a
"You two are SO BROWN!", which is funny if you know how
NOT BROWN Ashley and Landon are. 

Marley and Landon were born just a few months apart, and have attended the same daycare since they were tiny babes.  Ashley and I have worked together for several years.  Last school year she and I met weekly when Jim was so sick so that I could "piggyback" lessons off her (I did many of the language arts, math, and centers activies the week after she did.  She was kind enough to take the unit planning and coordination off my hands and allowed me to just come to work and do my job, without much of the weekend/after school prep hours that go into Kindergarten planning.)  During this time, I was encouraged by her new and fresh ideas as well as her unwavering faith.  All of my Kindergarten coworkers were such a great blessing to me!  But I digress...

Anyway, we waited all day for them to get here on Friday.  Marley and Landon haven't seen each other for quite some time, and they were so excited!  The nice thing about my friend Ashley and I is that we parent in much the same way.  And we have an understanding that our kids are young and still quite egocentric.  My daughter is bossy amd chatty, and Landon just isn't buying into her theatrics.  She tried her best to manipulate and work him, and he called her bluff.  It was funny to watch!  We were both encoraged to find that since they've last seen each other, they seem to be moving more from playing alongside each other to actually playing with each other. 

Our one full day was spent playing, eating, and going to see Winnie the Pooh at the movie theater.  It was Marley's first time in a big theater, and Landon led her through the procedure with cool ease.  He also brought her a shark toy, complete with little fish to swallow,  for when we went swimming.  And Marley taught him how to wear princess shoes like a pro!  (No, Xav, I'm not going to post the photo!)  In the evenings they had a bedtime snack and chilled out to some cartoons on NickJr.

Then it was bedtime for the kiddos and chatting for the mamas.  The next morning was Sunday, and it was so WONDERFUL to have them join us at church.  It felt right to stand and raise our hands in worship together. 
Here are our two munchkins all decked out for church:
And I had to include this one, even though it's blurry, cause their grins are beautiful.

All too soon, it was time to send them off to Michigan again.  Marley and I were both so blessed to have them here! 
Here's one more photo, just for fun...
We love you! 
We miss you! 
We'll see you soon!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Love These Girls

Exactly a month after Jim died, my college girlfriends treated Marley and I to a girls' weekend at a nice hotel in Indianapolis.  Every one of them drove several hours down from Ohio and Michigan, and one even flew in from the East Coast!  Though we've kept in touch and visited together in various combinations of people/spouses several times since then, we figured it was the first time we'd all been together (sans hubbies/boyfriends/children) since graduation, I think (and that was in 1998!).  They spoiled Marley and me rotten!

We played in the pool and visited the LARGE bird that lived in the courtyard.

They took us out for nice dinners.
First this...

...then this...

...And more of this than I've
had in a LONG time!

In between meals, we hung out in our rooms and visited.

Marley LOVED the attention that was poured
out on her, along with some new books
we picked up while we were waiting
for a seat in the restaurant.

After two glorious days of "girl time", it was time to line up for a group photo.

I love these girls!
Thanks, M'liss, Julie, Kudwa, Ellen, and Jen for knowing just what we needed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Canning Time

All of my growing-up years we had a garden and canned the vegetables that came out of it.  I have great memories of our family (under my Papaw Payne's watchful eye) planting, weeding, harvesting, and eating the bounty of our work. 
Last week, Marley and I got to go to Mom and Dad's to help carry on the tradition.

Picking beans with Grammy.

A big smile for her basket full of
 beans (and a few other fresh veggies!).

Mom and I were both surprised at how well she did with
snapping the beans and tossing out the ends.

Gotta wash them~ three times!
And check for any bad spots...
The washing was by far her favorite part.

Into the jars they go!

Yes, I DID help some!

She was soaking wet, so off came the shirt.
Time to put the buzzer on the top!

There's a certian beauty to a
simple thing like fresh green beans.
Love the color of them!

And the best part?  Eating big platefuls of beans that didn't quite make it into the jars!  This is the stuff great memories are made of!

Saturday, July 9, 2011


I've always thought bats were amazing creatures. 

While living in Michigan, I had quite a bit of experience with bats.  Since they don't really scare me, I was called upon to rid my friends' homes of them more that once, and usually in the middle of the night.  Remind me to tell you the hysterical story sometime of the bat that was in my friend Julie's house.  That bat became an occupant of my freezer (yes, it was in a glass jar).  Being the teacher that I am, I wanted to take it to school to teach my kindergarteners about bats and let them take a close look at one.  Unfortunately for me, my boss at the time was more hesitant to allow one of those vile creatures into the school, frozen or not, so it eventually made it into the garbage instead.  I could go into all the reasons that I think bats are cool, but now isn't the time.

Jim was TERRIFIED of bats.  Our backyard was a place they liked to fly around at night.  I noticed this right away when I would take the dogs out for their last potty break before bedtime, but I somehow *neglected* to mention this to him.  Well, he comes stomping in the house one night, indignant, and demands of me, "Did you know there are bats flying around our yard?!?".  I told a white lie when I responded with, "Really?  I never noticed.".

One night I was outside with the dogs, two very curious Jack Russell Terriers, when I noticed that they were circling around something in the yard, hopping and darting like they did when they got excited.  Since they were ignoring my calls to come inside, I went to investigate.  When I got over there, I saw that they were hopping around a bat that was flailing around on the ground.  The tricky part was that there had been several reports of rabid bats in our county.  So I quickly escorted them back into the house and went back outside to take a better look.  I was fascinated by the fact that the bat was just flopping around, since this seemed to be atypical behavior.  I clicked my flashlight on and then I discovered that bats can hiss.  This was one ticked off little fellow.  I had to get it out of the yard, just in case it was rabid, but I knew I'd need help from my sissy brave husband.  So I went inside and called him out to "help me with something".   He was curious, so he came with little convincing.  Until he saw the hissing, flopping creature in the backyard. 

I've never seen a man run back into a garage so fast, and I can't repeat the words that came flying out of his mouth!
I had to go over the entire capture strategy with him more than once before he agreed to slide something under the box I was going to put over it.  He put on thick work gloves, I grabbed a shoe box, and out we went.  He got a little frustrated with me because I would break out in fits of laughter every time he jumped backwards when it hissed.  After getting said creature into said box (and nearly wetting my pants), he made me hold the box while he wrapped the box completely in duct tape.  He wanted to run over it several times with the Jeep, but I reassured him that even Houdini couldn't get out of that box and I needed to see if animal control wanted it for testing.  We settled on leaving it out in the front yard. 

End of story, I thought.

A full three hours later I was lying in bed, peacefully sleeping, when I was awakend by RRRIIIIIPPPPPP...RRRRRIIIIIPPPPPP.  It's a sound you know withouth even looking- duct tape.   My first thought was that someone was downstairs tying my husband up, where did he put the gun, and is it loaded?  Then I became aware that there was no sound of a scufflle, so it must be Jim.  But what in the world was he doing???  *Sigh*  Downstairs I went to find him duct taping the kitty door that went to our basement completely closed off with duct tape.  We don't have a cat.  I asked him what the *beep* he was doing in the middle of the night with duct tape.  He looked at me like I was the idiot and replied...

"I'm making sure no bats come up out of the basement." 

Of course you were, dear.  Because that's were all bats come from.