The Family

The Family

Sunday, September 30, 2012


I forgot how great a city DC can be with kids.

There's so much to do for free.

There's plenty of green space to walk, run or picnic. We spent Friday strolling around the National Mall.

 We started at the Lincoln Memorial

and took our time past the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial,

the Franklin Roosevelt Memorial

and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial (forgot to get a picture there).

In addition to the beauty of it all, there are plenty of benches to rest tired legs. We took advantage of those often.

We eventually made it to the Smithsonian Museum of American History. After visiting the war exhibit and the president exhibit, the little boy was ready to head to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History to see some dinosaurs.

Did I mention all of this was free?!?!

On Saturday we spent our morning at the zoo. Free again!

Later, we went back to the Lincoln Memorial to see it at night. It's breathtaking, and these pictures from my tiny digital camera hardly do it justice.

A lot of laughter and good feelings permeate this place when it's dark. It was a stark contrast to the quiet reverence at the memorial during daylight hours.

It was a long walk back to the metro, and little priss was not happy at that point. She wanted her brother to hold her on the way back. Seeing as she is at least half his weight, if not more, the hubby and I assisted with this back-breaking endeavor for a few minutes.

Because we'd been to DC before, we didn't feel the need to visit every site. It was nice to go somewhere familiar because it eliminated the rush to see everything. We took our time and did mostly what the little boy wanted to do, which is why we visited the Lincoln Memorial twice.

DC is also an easy city to navigate without a car. We flew into Reagan airport and hopped on the Metro to get to our hotel. We rode the metro everyday to our points of interest. The card fare is a bit confusing when you aren't used to a subway system, but there were plenty of metro employees willing to offer a helping hand. 

I love this city, and we can't wait to go back. The little boy actually asked on the flight home if we could go back in 10 days. Unfortunately for him, we don't live that close.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Whirlwind September

We're off tomorrow to visit our nation's capital.

This will be the last of several trips we've made this month. After DC, we'll be home for a while.

But for now, no blogging for me these next few days. I'm leaving the computer home and am going to try and enjoy the time away with my three favorite people!

I made a post a few months ago about some struggles my family has been facing. Unfortunately this past week has been a nightmare, and there's not much hope of it getting better anytime soon. Prayers for God's guidance and protection are much needed and appreciated.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Is It Just Me...

Is it just me or are there any other mothers out there that find they burn dinner or their child's pizza, french fries, bacon, etc. etc., etc. way more than they'd like?

Is it just me or does anyone else out there loathe laundry and going to the grocery store?

Is it just me or do you moms find yourself feeling neglectful of at least one of your children at all times during any given day no matter how much time you try to devote to them all?

Is it just me or does anyone else feel like a walking zombie most of the time?

Is it just me or do you feel that despite all these things, life has never been more blessed or content?

Oh motherhood, you rob us of sleep, sanity and self and give us a whole lot of love and purpose in return.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Football and Parenting

It's a beautiful view from a place I did not expect to be last night.

After tailgating, my plan was to take the children home while the hubby went to the game. We have two faculty tickets we purchase yearly. I usually don't use my ticket, but after finding two free tickets for the children, we all headed to the stadium!

Even though our team lost, the guys played better than they had all year.

This season has thus far been a disappointment for fans and players alike. Thinking about our team has left me pondering the parallels between football and parenting more than once these past few weeks.

Pardon my rambling as I attempt to explain:
1. Football players don't start a game with the desire to lose anymore than our children start a day with the goal to disobey or be disorderly. They are children and by their nature end up needing A LOT of correction and guidance. A team's quarterback isn't trying to stick it to the fans by throwing lousy passes. He would just as soon bask in the glory of an amazing throw as anyone. The receivers don't want to drop the ball. They want to see themselves as an ESPN highlight for that amazing catch, not the other way around.  Our children aren't trying to ruin our day by making messes and disobeying. They are often doing nothing more than being themselves. As the day, or game, unfolds, troubles arise. Sometimes things go your way, sometimes they don't.
2. Struggles that come from loses often teach us more than our victories. Sure, it feels great to win. Everyone loves you when you are making them happy. On the flip side, one learns who will stand with them through the tough times. You learn more about the nature of life and can identify with others more through the struggles you yourself go through. When our children are down on their luck, they need us more than ever. They need encouragement and support, just as a football team needs to know its fans stand by the team win or lose. If it's one thing I despise about sports it's fans that boo their own team. I wonder how often yelling sounds a lot like booing to a young child's ear?
3. Noise and distractions are part of the territory. As players have to deal with taunts from the other team and obnoxious fans, children constantly have to filter outside voices. We as parents have to get used to the noise and chaos of energetic young children.  A coach's job includes helping players tune out the noise so they can focus. Part of our job as parents is to help our children decide which voices are worth listening to and which ones need to be filtered out. There will always be those willing to criticize, but plenty of others are willing to offer encouragement. We all need to understand that some criticism is helpful, but the encouraging voices are those we should take to heart.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fall is in the Air

The milder temperatures have been great this week, and today was the perfect day for a picnic.

Good food, a good friend and two young children itching to run around led us to a local park that's too hot in the summer, but just right during the fall.

While it's still warm here, the outdoors are calling. Too bad my sinsuses don't seem to agree.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Let Me Introduce You to Jan

She's your typical church lady with short hair, thick glasses, a plump build and a quick tongue. In essence, she's a hoot!

I should add that she's also stern, but in a loving, retired school teacher kind of way.

Her name is Jan, and she's the warm-up act for President Carter.

As soon as the sanctuary begins to fill, she goes through instructions and rules for how everything will proceed when President Carter arrives. It's quite entertaining, and she helps the time to pass quickly.

There were a good many rules, but two points she made extra clear:
1. President Carter was not to be addressed as Mr. President. There is only one person that gets to be called by that name and that should always be the current president. President Carter, Mr. Carter or Jimmy were all approved choices.
2. There would be no applause at any time. We were in a place of worship and we weren't there to worship the former president. We were there to hear a lesson about Jesus taught by someone that just happens to be a former president. 

I wanted to give a shout out to her tonight because she is truly part of what makes the experience in Plains so memorable!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Note on Where We Stayed

We were in Plains Sunday morning, but we spent Saturday night a few miles up the road in Americus, Ga. at the Windsor Hotel.

This historic hotel can be summed up in one word: accommodating!

We were able to check in early, and the clerk called someone on staff to take us to the Jimmy Carter suite so the little boy could see where the former president sleeps when he stays at the hotel. 

The Carter Suite
The chef in the hotel restaurant fixed a special penne pasta with a homemade marinara (none of which was on the menu) and brought the dish out to the little boy himself.

While I’m on the subject of food, the Cornish hen I had with spaghetti squash and cooked black cherries was delicious. My mother-in-law raved about her rib order. Breakfast the next morning was as good as dinner the night before.

Here’s the little boy pretending he’s drinking coffee like a big boy:)

The elegant lobby and its spacious foyer gave little priss plenty of room to walk and run freely.

Later in the evening, the little boy and his nanny went on an exploring adventure throughout the hotel.

We also enjoyed some treats at Richelle’s bakery and ice cream shop earlier in the day.

After the sweets we walked around the block and visited the few shops that were open. We came across  a fabulous furniture store. I mentioned to my mother-in-law during the car ride that we would need a new sofa soon, so I took finding this place as a sign that maybe we should purchase a couch sooner than I was planning. 

I've warned the hubby that I will be dragging him to the store once the couch finally gives out. Even if the owner is named Snooki (raunchy images of the Jersey Shore popping into your head too?), the store has some fantastic pieces.

There isn’t much to do or see in Americus besides what we did, but it was a perfect one-night trip, especially to celebrate my 34th birthday.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

In the Presence of a President

Here we are standing beside former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn

I fear this post will be a let-down because there is no way to adequately describe what it was like seeing President Jimmy Carter and hearing him teach about reconciliation this morning.

I say teach because he didn't preach. He saved the sermon for the pastor, but President Carter's message was as meaningful.

For years the former president has taught Sunday school in the sanctuary at Maranatha Baptist Church near his home in Plains, Ga. He doesn't do it every weekend, but for several Sundays each year visitors line up early to get a seat in this small country church to catch a glimpse of this man and to hear what he has to say.

The primary theme of today's lesson was reconciliation - between individuals, in families, amongst communities and nations. President Carter used the account of an unidentified, yet wise woman's role in the reconciliation between King David and one of his sons. He reminded the crowd that reconciliation was a core element of Jesus' teachings as well (in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught "blessed are the peacemakers").

President Carter also touched on equality. Long a champion of civil rights, equality for women and human rights in general, he reminded us that we are all equal in the eyes of God.

I found this portion of the lesson especially poignant; it resonated with something I heard in our own church recently. We were asked as a congregation to read a prayer off the screen. At one point we read aloud "We are no more deserving than others of these blessings."

The words of that statement rang deep in my heart as President Carter's message did today.

While I'll be posting more throughout the week on where we stayed and on what today was like, I wanted to start with the most important part of the trip - the message of the gospel and a man that's not afraid to speak about Christ or of what he believes is right.

Friday, September 14, 2012

It's A President Thing

The little boy’s interest in presidents has taken me by surprise.

Sharks, dinosaurs and trucks, sure - those are all typical little boy things.

I’m not complaining. I find American history fascinating. It’s just not something I expected we'd be talking so much about when he was 5.

It's possible it started after we visited Mount Rushmore in May, but I can’t honestly say when this strong desire to know about each president began. 

Whatever the reason, here’s a few things I’ve come across to satisfy his curiosity.

President Books from the library:
We usually have a stack of these to read through. We began reading some of these before visiting Mount Rushmore, so it could be this is how it all started???

A President Puzzle:
He loves puzzles and this one is just the right number of pieces for young children.

President Flash Cards:
I swear I have never drilled him on these. He loves lining them up in order and making us guess the number of each president.
More President Cards in the Form of a Fan: 
His aunt, the hubby's sister, found this for his birthday. I'm still impressed it hasn't been ripped to shreds by little priss yet.
 President Blocks:
I think this is more of an adult collector's toy, but he loves them. Because they are blocks, little priss has some fun with them as well.
And this weekend, we’re going to see a real president!!!!

Sometime Sunday night I’ll be blogging all about it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

For When You Grow Up

I see it too often. So many college students pursue a major they care nothing about. They go to college because they think that’s what they are supposed to do next. After they graduate, many of their to-do lists consist of getting a job, getting married, buying a house and having children - all noble endeavors. It's just that many do these things with no clear purpose or direction and wonder why they're so unhappy when they find themselves in a job they hate, a marriage that is not what they envisioned and children they have no clue how to raise.

It's the story of my generation. It was likely the story of many generations that came before mine and the ones following.

Oh my precious children, I can offer advice and moral guidance and stories that illustrate life principles, but one day you’ll have to make your own choices. 

When it comes to deciding on what you will do with your life let me offer this suggestion: Do only what you love. 

Your dad and I might be the only people in your lives to tell you this, but if your passion is movies and the only job that gets you close to films is working the ticket booth at the local movie theater, then do it. If you love being outdoors, never take a desk job. If you want to sing and dance, you might not make much money at the local community theater, but you will be content.

If you desire nothing more than to be someone’s mommy, don’t listen to those telling you that to be fulfilled you must have a career. If you desire to have a career, then don’t listen to those trying to make you feel guilty about it.

The only thing you should do is what God is calling you to do.

If you do anything with the goal of making money, there is no clearer path to misery no matter how big the paycheck. You may end up making a lot of money doing something worthwhile so long as you care more about what you are doing than the money. When you chase the dream, not the money, then you have found something worth devoting your life to.

And during those times when you are unsure, wait for God to show you the way. One thing I'm certain about is forging my own path never has worked. Following God’s path for your life won’t always be easy, but it will be more liberating than you could imagine.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Whale's Tale

If you’re looking for a way to help a squirmy child get to sleep, I think I’ve found the solution.

Read Moby Dick at bedtime.

I decided to tackle this leviathan of literature a few weeks back when reading about whales with the little boy and a suggested reading was Moby Dick. 

I'd put off reading this book for years because I assumed it would bore and disappoint me, but finally figured there was no better time than the present. So I sighed, took a deep breath and headed to the library to check out the only copy – Moby Dick in large print. The already enormous book seems much larger when the words are printed mostly for the benefit of elderly readers.

The verdict: I can see why people the world over love this book!

There are many passages touching on the core of human nature. Melville describes man’s relationship to the sea, to the monsters of the ocean and to his fellow man in deeply meaningful ways. The humorous friendship of Ishmael and Queequeg and the loyalty that results adds an intriguing aside. Captain Ahab’s madness and hell-bent determination to exact revenge are often frightening.

We’re currently about mid-way through the book and all I can say at this point is I'm ready for the crew of the Peqoud to find the beastly brute. These middle two hundred pages haven’t been as exciting; you might say they’ve at times seemed like a rant dragging on and on and on.

I’m hoping the next three hundred or so (remember, we’re reading large print) will be as interesting as the beginning two hundred.

I don’t think the little boy has much of a clue what is going on besides knowing that Moby Dick is the whale that bit off Ahab’s leg. I stop reading each night when I see he’s dozed off. Some nights I read five pages, and he's a goner. Other nights I get through twenty or thirty (those pages usually include many interruptions).

WARNING: It’s not the best idea to read it out loud in the car on a road trip for fear of putting your husband the driver of the car to sleep as well (let’s just say someone’s wife may have tried this for about an hour on a recent trip to Pensacola).

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dinosaur Invasion

We drove an hour south today to Discover the Dinosaurs, a traveling exhibit that made its way to Montgomery, Ala.

I cut off the best part of the ankylosaurus - its tail

It's not a real dinosaur exhibit unless it has at least one T-Rex

A shadow rotating across the floor
Things I liked about it:
1. It gave me a good excuse to get back to Farmhouse Kitchen for lunch. This place serves true Southern food. I had barbeque chicken with pear salad, cabbage, turnip greens and green beans. The little boy had a fried chicken leg, macaroni and cheese and cornbread. Little Priss had Mott's applesause (just incase you were wondering about her).
2. The exhibit was incredibly life-like. The heads and eyes moved, some looked like they were flying and they all let out ferocious roars.
Things I didn't like:
1. This exhibit was a money pit. It cost $25 for me and the little boy to get in. If you wanted to jump on a bouncy, play putt-putt or pan for stones you had to pay extra.
2. Two years ago, the little boy would have been terrified. I noticed several young children crying at the entrance. A few had their feet firmly planted as their parents were trying to coax them in. The website should probably have given a warning about the noise level. Little Priss was fine, but she's never been as sensitive to loud sounds as the little boy always has.
3. The website tried to make it out like buying tickets online was a discount. However, there was a ticket fee for purchasing them online. That fee wasn't charged at the door. Purchasing them online would have been $2 cheaper, but I also noticed the checkout wasn't secure. I opted to wait and get them at the door.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


I can recommend a good book.

I can pick out a fabulous outfit.

I love going to a great party.

But I'm not good at hospitality.

Visiting Grandma's house this past weekend got me thinking about creating a more inviting home.

I desire to be a good hostess, but it's not in me. I often spend too much time worrying about what things look like and making sure there's enough to eat that I wear myself out in the process.

Being a guarded and withdrawn introvert has something to do with it as well.  Someone showing up at the spur of the moment throws me off. I'm always apologizing about the mess or worrying about not having a candle lit that could be masking any potentially strange odor.

I'm also not good at small talk. I prefer deeper conversations and that can be hard with children running around.

How to demonstrate hospitality is something I've been pondering the past few days. I'm sure if I look for opportunities to practice, they will present themselves.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

If You're Ever in Pensacola

One of my favorite places to eat while in Pensacola is the New Yorker Deli.

It's actually within walking distance of Grandma and Grandpa's house.

I first tried this restaurant when the little boy and I visited a few years back. I was delighted when I found out how good the food was, but not happy with the hubby's family for holding out on me about this place. In all fairness, I should say they didn't know how good it was because they'd never tried it (a fact I still can't believe).

We stopped by again on our way into town this past Saturday, and I had the best cup of gazpacho I've ever eaten. It had enough onion to taste, but no so much that it overpowered everything else. I think it was the finely chopped cucumber that set it apart from other gazpacho soups I've had.

There is plenty to chose from - salads, pasta, sandwiches, a kid's menu and dessert. While a large menu usually leaves me disillusioned and frustrated, I've never had trouble picking out an entree at the deli. I've also never been disappointed in my choice!

Monday, September 3, 2012

For When We're In Need of Some Place Soothing

It's a place we go to physically and emotionally unwind that nourishes our souls.

The hubby's grandparents might think the visit does them a world of good, but that can't compare to what it does for us.

My husband once remarked that being in their home is so reassuring for him because it is the one thing that has been the same since his childhood. It's a place where some of his best memories are still intact.

So while the ever-strong winds of change continue their constant swirl around us, we go to this place of refuge for the sense of comfort found only in the familiar - a place untouched by time and technology.

I've known my husband for 10 years and can remember the first time I visited his grandparent's home. I was as comfortable on that Christmas visit as I am all these years later. That's because Grandma and Grandpa have the kind of home people want to be in.

It's not a luxurious or large home. What makes it so comfortable is it's the home where two of the most pleasant people on the face of this earth reside.

Their home might not ever make the cover of Southern Living, but inside its walls, true southern hospitality is demonstrated.

It's clear others feel the same as we do because everytime I have visited, someone pops in. It's usually friends from church or neighbors checking to see how Grandpa, who is 93, is feeling. Other times people have stopped by for nothing more than a quick chat.

Two of my favorite places in the their home are the sitting room (ideal for any bookworm) and the backyard. 

The well-shaded yard overlooks Pensacola bay.

Little priss and I enjoyed the swing most of all. She couldn' get enough of Grandma and Grandpa's dog. She terrorized loved on her every chance she got.

The little boy had plenty of room to run free. I snapped this shot after he begged, for the bazillionth time, for everyone inside to come out and take a look at the water.

Beautiful, mossy trees line the back and front of the house.

I've never figured out why looking out onto the open sea is so mesmerizing and soothing. Sitting in the breeze and staring at the ocean makes time irrelevant.

It's another of God's wonderful and majestic mysteries we get to enjoy each time we visit Grandma and Grandpa.