Thursday, July 31, 2008

My Very First Blog Award

I got my very first blog award - thanks to my bloggin' buddy, Betsy

Betsy Maddox

Betsy is a new friend I've made through bloggyville.  I'm sure you probably already have, but you need to check out Betsy's blog.  We have a lot in common... she has kids around my kids age, we love a lot of the same music, and we both enjoy where we are in life and the joy our families bring us.  She is a teacher ... and I have the utmost respect for teachers!! And she's a great mom that does all kinds of fun stuff with her family.  I appreciate Betsy's words of encouragement that I receive almost daily!  Thanks, Betsy!

Ok, here's what I'm supposed to do:

1.  Put the logo on your blog.

2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.

3. Nominate at least seven other blogs.

4. Add links to those blogs on your blog.

5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog.

I am new to blogging and just beginning to find my favorite reads, but here are the ones I read faithfully and look forward to hearing from daily:

Jamie @ The Garner Family


I have known Jamie since she was 13 or 14 years old... I worked for her Dad for five years and had the pleasure of working with Jamie, too!  She is very neat and ultra organized (which makes me feel like a complete slob next to her).  She has grown to be a beautiful woman inside and out, and a godly, loving mother.  Jamie's blog is filled with fun family stories... she has more friends than you can shake a stick at!


Judy @ His Doorkeeper


Judy is my pastor/boss's wife and you already know how I feel about her (read here).  Judy is famous for attempting to smuggle cheese knives on airplanes and being the mother of a very famous blogger, Kelly.  She seems to have even made it to Oprah's couch!  You'll love Judy's blog... especially for ideas on decorating and hosting special events.  She knows her stuff.


Emily @ chatting at the sky


I love, love, love to read Emily's blog.  She is a very talented writer and I love her photography.  When I read her blog I feel as though I'm sitting in her living room with her.   You've got to check out her blog.


Kelly @ Kelly's Korner Blog


Kelly is quite famous in the blogging world and is the cutest little pregnant woman you'll find anywhere!  She is the daughter of my pastor/boss and I remember Kelly when her hair was BIG and BLACK.  She is genuinely a sweet, godly woman who, like her mother, has a heart for people and is just SO nice!  She's doing a great job keeping us all up to date on the development of Baby H as well as providing us with sweet spiritual insight, great decorating ideas, TV reviews, and fashion tips.  She's the all-around-gal!  I'm sure you've already got her on your blog roll.


Becky @ Looking Through The Eyes of Luv


I've gotten to know Becky and just love her and her energy!  She is a fellow Arkansan and has beautiful daughters and grand kids!  I love hearing about her trips and the fun she has with the "man of her dreams".  She has a sweet joy about her.  You'll enjoy her posts as much as I do!


Leigh Ann @ Horton Happenings

Leigh Ann

I just recently started reading Leigh Ann's blog.  She is a friend of a friend and I've really enjoyed reading her posts.  She leaves the sweetest comments, too!  I love how she loves her husband and children... and her desire to serve and find ways to make things around her better.  She has an inspiring story... and her positive outlook is contagious.

* * * * *

Ok, so that's not seven people, but trust me... they have some incredible blogs!  And, since I'm SURE they've probably already received this award, I officially dub them all "honorary award winners".

I do want to mention here that of the handful of blogs on my roll, the one blog that I feel is worthy of a true award belongs to Angie Smith.  Angie is the wife of Todd Smith, from the Christian singing group, Selah.  Their story is incredible.  Her posts are completely God-inspired.  Your life will be affected by the raw honesty in her words as she shares from the deepest parts of her heart.  She has a great ministry to women... and I encourage you to check out her blog.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

He Gently Leads Those That Have Young

Tyler and Kale 1989

I'm an open book.  Most people who know me know that I am one to talk things out.  I need to vent.  I always say I'm on a "need to know" basis... what I don't know KILLS me, but what I know I can deal with.

In my years of parenting (my poor kids will tell you) I had to discuss ... EVERYTHING.  If one of the boys was upset about something - I wanted to talk it out.  Sometimes they didn't want to talk, but I always believed things could only get better by sharing those feelings that are sometimes held in.  I don't know how my kids feel about it now, but it always made me feel better!

For me, the hardest thing as a mother is watching your child go through difficulties.

The very first time I felt it was when Kale was about 4 years old and had an experience one Sunday evening in the church nursery.  He said, "Mommy, W was jumping on my legs with his cowboy boots and hurting me."  Immediately, my hackles went up.

"What?! Tell me what happened."  He recounted the story again to me and I nearly turned the car around to go find the boy myself.  Then, he told me that Miss Brenda (Jamie's mom) was in the nursery and when she saw what little W was doing to my (precious, sweet, innocent) child she picked him up and held him in her lap for the rest of the hour.  I felt much better, although the desire to get a hold of that boy was not totally gone. 

What is it that kicks in to a mother when someone is threatening ill will toward their child?  Don't even get me started on the time some boys in middle school knocked Tyler to the ground and proceeded to pummel him!  Something to do with the principal's office and contacting the police if those boys even breathed near my child again....

It doesn't get any easier when they are 8, 10, or even 19 or 21.  And still yet, sometimes they don't want to talk to you about it or to help them with it. They are still your babies and you want to protect them from pain... even if they've caused some of it themselves.

My most pain-filled moments as a mother have been when my children have made decisions that go against what they know is right.  It literally hurts my heart.  And THEN I think about the things I do that bring pain to my God's heart... and I have clarity. An "aha" moment.

Me 4/1989

From the moment I looked in to each of my boy's eyes in the delivery room (ok, probably from the time I saw blue on the little stick), I have given completely of myself to being the best mother I could be for them and in the great scheme of things I think I've done (mostly) okay. There are times of pain and trial, but there is also great joy.

Kale 3/1987

David and Tyler 4/1989

Kale and Tyler 1989

Having small children is challenging, exhausting, fun.

Having grown children is sometimes challenging, sometimes exhausting, and incredibly rewarding! (Especially when they tell you how much they love and appreciate all you do... and just call to see how your day's gone.)  I am blessed.

For those of you beginning your journey in motherhood, be consistent (I swear, that's the toughest part of parenting!) 

Love them... and laugh with them!!

And if you haven't seen this book - if you have little boys, it's a must.  You will cry.  Every time.

I'll love you forever

I bought one for each of my boys when they were 4 and 2, and wrote a special letter to them inside and have held on to them for later.

Isaiah 40:11 says:

"He tends his flock like a shepherd:
       He gathers the lambs in his arms
       and carries them close to his heart;
       he gently leads those that have young."

Where would I be without His leading?  And some days, like today, I need that sweet reminder.

* * * * * * * * * *

EDIT:  After I published this post, I noticed in the picture of the boys together (the bottom photograph) that Kale has his Batman band aids on his thumbs.  This is the little trick we used to get him to quit sucking his thumb.  I think I have a picture somewhere of him sleeping in the "thumbs up" position with those band aids on. Hilarious.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Down the Hill, Up the Hill

For 31 years, we've referred to my parent's property as "up the hill" and "down the hill"... I guess it was the most creative we could get when we began our pioneer days in the Ozark hills. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about ... you'll have to read Mom's journal.

Fall up the hill 2

A small part of my parent's driveway leading up and down the hill.

At the beginning of our journey, we set up camp at the "bottom of the hill". I finally found a picture of our camp there.

Our Camp down the hill

This was where we stayed for about a month and a half while Dad was clearing property, setting up the tents, and blasting for a basement "up the hill". The trailer usually slept Mom and Dad and several of the youngest kids. The rest of us slept in the Ford van or the Volkswagen - not quite the Hampton Inn.

I love that we had an American flag displayed! I think, but I can't be certain, that the trailer that held all our earthly belongings is on the far right. Dave's lean-to is attached to the backside of the trailer... can you see it?

These pictures are shots from "up the hill" as progress was being made...

Up the hill

Construction up the hill 1977

Robert in the basement

My brother, Robert, standing on the beginnings of our house on the hill. Not sure we frequented a barber much in 1977.

My Dad retired from the police force in California to move out here. He built our house by himself... well, my brothers helped, and us girls even pitched in when he needed/forced us. He then went on to build a construction business of his own. My brothers, Darren and Kevin, have remained in construction, while Robert is a police officer.

I think all those summer camping trips were good preparation for our year and a half of tent life! They sure were some fun times... but I wouldn't want to do it again!

I'm hoping to find more pictures at my Mom's of our days in the tent... Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Our Ms. Charlsie

We have lived in our house for almost 18 years. After we had been here a couple of years, there was a knock on our door one Christmas eve morning. It was a little man in his late 70's, maybe early 80's, wearing a pair of overalls. He walked with a bit of a limp. He was carrying a jar of walnut kernels that he had handpicked and cracked and gifted me with it. He introduced himself as "Hardy Huddleston" and told me he lived down the road from us and wanted to wish us a Merry Christmas. What a sweet man!!

When David got home that afternoon, I told him about our visitor and Dave, born and raised an Arkie, in true Arkie form, went straight to the freezer and got out a roast of some kind and ran it up the road to our newfound neighbors. So began a beautiful relationship.

We began going to visit them in the evenings. Oh, how I loved to hear them tell stories about when they were young. When they married, Charlsie was 16, almost 17 years old... so young. They never had children, but they had so much love for each other and they love their neighbors.

David especially developed a bond with them. He used to go visit or to help Hardy with yard work... many times I'd drive by and they'd all three be sitting on the porch for story time.

Then when Hardy was diagnosed with a heart problem, Dave started doing as much as he could for them. But, not long after Hardy's diagnosis, he passed away at his home.

Charlsie lost the love of her life. We lost a dear friend.

Charlsie is 89 years young now. She'll be 90 in December. She is sharp as a tack and remembers just about everything from her youth. I love to get her talking!!

She has some health problems of her own now and we value what time we have left with her. David lost his mother 12 years ago and his father 2 years ago, so Charlsie has become like a mother to him... and I think he is like the son she never had. He checks on her nearly every day and they have had a (huge) garden together pretty much every year since Hardy died... Charlsie loves to spend her mornings in her garden. She also has a Rat Terrier dog, Sweetie, that keeps her company.

During the long winters and in the heat of the day during the summer, Charlsie likes to read. She is quite a reader. I bring her books from our church library and it takes her no time at all to get through a book.

Tonight, after church we stopped at Sonic and got her a vanilla ice cream and took it to her. She loves vanilla ice cream. We visited for a while and tested out the self-timer on my camera (a first for me).

I wish we had taken the time to introduce ourselves long before Hardy took the first step with us. They are a part of a precious generation that is leaving us all too soon... and knowing them has truly enriched our lives.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday Fun

Having sisters is always fun because you always have someone to call.  Someone to shop with.  Someone to laugh with.  Someone to shop with.  Did I say that already?

I called my sister, Suzanne, last night and asked her if she wanted to go with me to take Mom shopping and out to lunch today.  She needed to go to town anyway, so she was game.

I called Mom and signed her up.

So, this morning we shopped a little and went to lunch at El Chico.  I had only been there once before, because I'm pretty loyal to my normal Mexican restaurant... but I had the Fajita Quesadilla and it was good.

Suz Me and Mom 072608 Suzanne, me, and Mom

Last night, while Dave and I were on our "hot date", Kale's girlfriend, Kayla, sent me an MMS of the cutest purse she'd found for me at TJ Maxx (of course).  They were kind enough to make the purchase for me, so I have a purse-in-waiting at Fayetteville!  Now, I believe that gives me another reason to go visit them sometime soon.

KVZ purse

On another (TV) note, Betsy mentioned a TV show called "Rock the Reception" and I watched it last night and got a good laugh.  One couple's story was especially moving; Michael, a three tour Iraq war veteran, and Trycia, who is battling breast cancer.  With all the sadness of her diagnosis, the couple wanted to do something uplifting.  They did a fun dance to MC Hammer's, "U Can't Touch This".  They were a cute couple and their dance was really good.

Trycia and Mike RTR 

Have a blessed Sunday!!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Mayberry Lives

David and I went to "town" tonight to eat.   In our neck of the woods, people still say that. 

Our little town of Flippin has a population of about 1,357.  When it comes to dining out, Flippin has about 5 choices (unless you count the vending machines at Ranger Boats - which David and I did a few times back in our dating days... that was all there was here then).  So, when we go eat,  we usually go to a town that's about 15 miles east of Flippin... Mountain Home.

Downtown Mountain Home

Mountain Home has a population of about 12,215 and while it's not a big town, there are a few more dining options.

Of course, we have to go to Wal-mart after a meal here because there is no T.J. Maxx.  Tonight, when we pulled in to the parking lot at Wal-mart... we got a glimpse of  Mayberry RFD.



Ask you can tell from the second picture, the owner walked out while I was taking pictures.  I think he liked that because he loaded his stuff and got in the car and sounded the siren for us as we were walking off.  Then, he drove down through the parking lot and had Andy Griffith, himself, singing the TV show theme song over the loud speaker. 

As he was driving by us with his window down, we stopped and talked to him and he told us all about the car (it's a 1962 Ford Galaxy 500 that he had fixed up - the exact same kind of car that Andy had).  After talking to him a few minutes we learned he loved all tings Andy... we kinda got the idea he might be just a tad obsessed, but it gave us a good laugh!

Only in small town America!!

Andy Griffith 

Kale, Daddy wanted me to email the pics to you and tell you that we had just bought this car!! Ha!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Two Girls and a Hairstylist

Jodi, my best friend from high school, and I went to the hairdresser today.  Finally.  My hair was beyond the ability to deal with.

I still can't decide what I want to do with it... so I didn't change much, I just shortened my sides a little.  My husband HATES my hair short... so I'm sure I didn't score any points with him.

Before...Jodi and Jacquie at Kays before 

After...Jodi and Jacq at Kay's

Jacquie side view

I'm still dreamin' of straight hair!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Waiting for TV

There's not too much to watch on TV these days.  I'm just getting into the new season of Big Brother (10).  Lots of twists and turns in that show... so it's always entertaining.

My DVR will be working overtime in September, though, with the 13th Amazing Race, a new season of the quirky Dr. House, AND my fave, Biggest Loser 6 ... rumor has it Alison Sweeney is "with child"... seems there's a baby boom these days.

I've been eagerly awaiting my man, Jack Bauer, to come back.  Seems like forever since I've gotten completely worn out from watching just one hour of TV!!  But, Jack and my other man, Simon Cowell, should be back to my living room sometime in January!!

Until then, I grab whatever seems remotely of interest to me... thank goodness for Lifetime Movie Network's Christmas in July!

I have only seen about 10 minutes of "America's Got Talent" in the past, but I watched it last night because of a preview I had seen. This was the finale of the show (the part of the preview that I'd watched for)...

From my "You Tube" search, I've pretty much surmised that they save the best act for the last of the show.  Most of the other "talent" they put on is not that interesting... and I could totally live without Jerry Springer.  But, I found another clip from this season that I just love!   His names is Neal and he just brought me to tears.  Neal loves his momma so much!! Since I have two sweet sons, that just makes this momma's heart sing!

Have a great rest of the week!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Something Sensitive

Don't laugh at me.  I'm going to share something with you that is very dear to my heart.  It is also very sensitive.  I have gone through some long and hard consideration before deciding to share it with you, my faithful reader(s)... but, here it is:Letter to Grandma page 1

Letter to grandma page 2

Letter to Grandma page 3 When my Grandma Morris died, this letter was found in her stuff.  It must have meant something to her... it only proves to me that I was a strange child. 

Actually, it means the world to me that she kept it all those years.

Grandma, like my grandpa, was a fun person.  I remember her laugh probably more than anything.  She always seemed happy to me.  Maybe it was all that fresh-squeezed orange juice!

Grandma and Mom

Grandma and Mom (ca. 1970's - hence the glasses!)

One time, I got to go spend a few days at my grandparent's house.  My parents warned me that if I wasn't good, I wouldn't get to go back.  I probably was somewhere around the age I was when I wrote the letter (3rd or 4th grade or so).  Anyway, I rode all the way to their house in the back seat of their car with my hands neatly folded in my lap the whole trip.  I called them "grandmother" and "grandfather" ... which never happened before.  My mom said that when my grandpa got home from work I'd announce, "Grandma, your husband is home!" (More proof of strangeness!)

Grandma and Grandpa Morris1Howard & Bea Morris - they must've been awfully young here.

Grandma and Grandpa Morris                    Love, love, love this picture.  Doesn't Grandma look so fashion-forward?


This picture is not very clear, but it is Grandma's childhood home in Bancroft, Ontario, Canada.  The picture below is also taken there, I think the same day from the looks of their clothes.

Moms Mother and Grandma

This is my absolute favorite picture of Grandma as a little girl.  I love her hair - and that dress! So cute!!

Do y'all still think I got my curls from Grandpa?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Remembering Grandpa

I spent the day Saturday at my Mom and Dad's house visiting them. My mom's computer has a pretty bad virus or malware or something and I worked on it most of the afternoon. While it was running scans and such, Mom and I looked through old pictures.

Ever since I started this blog, I've been up and down "the hill" borrowing pictures to scan and blog about. I think I might possibly be driving her nuts!

I don't know what it is about old pictures that makes me so nostalgic. I wish I could magically transform myself back in time and see what my relatives were like in their childhood and young adult days. I want to know where life brought them and how they were changed by the twists and turns, peaks and valleys of life. I want to read it like a good book.

My Mom has several sweet pictures of my grandparents... her Mom and Dad. They have passed on now, but they live on in my memory and the pictures of them are dear to me.

My grandpa Morris is someone that I always looked up to. He was a meek man, with a large presence, and his heart was kind. To me, he was quite tall, but I don't actually know how tall he was. I considered him a dapper man, who took good care of himself and even better care of my grandma. In their married life, my grandpa fresh-squeezed orange juice for my grandmother ever single morning... now that's LOVE.Morris wedding photo

My grandparents loved golf. They lived on a golf course many of their years together. Grandpa was an athletic man. Here's a picture of him in his speed-walking days. He qualified for the 1932 Summer Olympic games in Los Angeles, but in those days they had to pay their own way and he couldn't afford it.


Is that you, Kale??

When I got to stay at my grandparent's house, I remember waking up and hearing my grandpa exercising in his study. Maybe that's where I got my love for they gym?

Grandpa always smelled good. Like cologne.

He was the one who kept up with all our birthdays. I envision a calendar on his desk (he was an insurance salesman) with the names and birth dates of all his family members. He never failed to drop a birthday card with a fresh $1 bill in the mail for each of his grandchildren. O, how I looked for it in the mail!

From my childhood eyes, I saw my grandparents as happy people who were kind-hearted and fun-loving. They loved the Lord and they loved each other.

Grandma and Grandpa 1963

I don't know if they always did, but in later years, my grandma and grandpa matched their clothing colors... I thought that was cute. I don't think Dave would go for that!!

In my estimation... Grandpa was a CATCH!

Grandma and Grandpa 1989

And, he even did dishes!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

They made it work

Kevin Robert and Darren

I love this picture!  My youngest brother, Kevin, is innocently working on the bike tire while Robert (L) and Darren (R) are in a scrape about something.  Look at those faces.  So hilarious!

Mom and Dad were very creative when it came to making a big family work.

Eleven kids can't be easy to keep "under control".  I don't know how my Mom and Dad took us kids anywhere... but they did.

I remember when we would go to someone's house, we either had to stay in the car while my parents went in to visit  (there were a few times the  car "accidentally" got knocked out of park and might have rolled down a driveway or two) or, we got to go in the house, but we would line up in a row and have to sit with our hands in our laps and stay quiet.  Seems we were constantly lined up in birth order. 

Cadillac_Camper 1

The "camper" came in handy during extended evening visits, too.  It became our babysitter/motel on wheels... we'd get put to bed at the appropriate time in the camper and would stay there until Mom and Dad were ready to go home.

They found ways to make life fun.

Dad on motorcycles

We used to pile in the back of the truck and go to Savon Drug store for ice cream.  A nickel a scoop and we were allowed to get two whole scoops!  One mint-chocolate chip and one chocolate chip for me, please.

We went to the beach (of course, they tied all us kids together on a rope so no one would go missing) and deep sea fishing.

Jim and Steve with fish

We went on camping trips.

Rock Creek 1975

Lake Pillsbury 1976 Kevin Mom Sharon

They found ways to stretch their money.

Dad worked year after year at Christmas to rebuild trikes and bikes (over and over and over again) so that they were brand spankin' new for the next kid on Christmas morn. (Notice the fire engine in the fishing picture above... it got worked over a time or two.)

He had his own shears and barber's apron and set up shop in the garage buzzing (and sometimes Mohawk-ing) all the boys hair.  I recall us girls occasionally cut each others hair, right Suzanne?  (Remember after you cut mine, I didn't want to go to school because I had chunks of hair missing??)

We dined in... rather than going out.

Dinner in Placentia

With the exception of our school uniforms, Mom made about all our clothes.  See...

Family shot

Can you find me in these pics??


They found ways to be alone together.

I remember going to bed while the sun was still up and Mom and Dad would have a "date" in the back yard.

I am so grateful for a childhood that is filled with innocence.  My parents did an exceptional job of keeping us kids from the latest headlines during a time of war and unrest.  I didn't have a care in the world.  I was safe.  I was happy.