Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend

Paige and Morgan lakeside

We had an absolutely wonderful Memorial Day weekend at Silver Lake. This has been a Memorial Day tradition for many years. Just a few years ago it was a big group of single college kids and it has progressed to a large group of young families with kids. I have to be honest I had several reservations (even more than last year when I was very pregnant and only had one child). I wasn't sure how it would work and where everyone would sleep, etc. I wasn't sure how the kids would nap, or if they would even nap at all. But everything worked out beautifully and it was such a refreshing and renewing weekend. It's always such a blessing to be in the company of excellent friends. These people are genuine friends who mean so much to Justin and me. These are friends that we know we will be friends with for life. Even the ones we just see on Memorial Day. I look forward to seeing all these little children grow up together.

We had excellent weather and thanks to lots of SPF we had responsible tanners and everyone escaped without a trace of sunburn. Even the little fair skinned babies! Sunday was our busiest day, with a total of 24 people, 8 of which were children under age 5. We ate lots and lots of really good food, played lots of dock basketball, threw horseshoes, took several boat rides and canoe rides, fished, read, listened to music and just spent time catching up on each other's lives. I'll attach pictures from the weekend, but I will warn you there are lots and lots of them.

This is Reed Payne, she is the precious daughter of Brannon and Ann (Buster) Payne. She is 10 days older than Paige (10 months old). The Payne's found out last week that she has a mild case of Cerebral Palsy. As you can imagine this is devastating to them. They have an amazing faith in Jesus and I know they trust Him to bring them through. Please keep them in your prayers as they seek second opinions of doctors and therapists in Birmingham. Pray that they will find comfort in their Heavenly Father and that through this He will strengthen their faith in Him.

On a much lighter note and one of no importance at all compared to that of what the Payne's are facing... our old dog Jackson showed up at the lake this weekend. It's been almost a year since we had him put down and somehow he survived and was in full force at the lake this weekend. For those of you who had the pleasure of knowing Jack you will be quite surprised at the resemblance between Jack and the mysterious cur that showed up as soon as we got to the lake.

Enjoy the pictures.... the girls are both at my feet and I have a hard time concentrating... imagine that!!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Softball & Church

Daddy's Biggest Fans!

I thought Justin's softball games were fun to go to in Tallahassee. That's because I had never been to a softball game in Dothan. In Tallahassee the girls and I would load up the car and stroller (much like the picture above) and head up to Justin's game. We wouldn't see anyone we knew. I would sit in the bleachers and the girls would stay in their stroller. Justin played for his company's team and I didn't know any of the other wives. Well, softball in Dothan is much different. And much more fun. There's just something so enjoyable about going to a softball complex and seeing lots and lots of people you know and lots and lots of kids you know. Morgan doesn't sit in her stroller in Dothan. I talk to other wives that I know and meet lots of nice people who have known Justin and my in-laws for a really long time. We don't really watch the game (sorry Justin) we play, talk and eat fun treats from the concession stand.

Church in Dothan is similar to softball in Dothan. Wednesday night we went to church for supper and Wednesday night church and it took me back to Anniston all over again. It's something that is hard to explain, but going to a church for dinner (even if it is corndogs) and seeing lots of families with lots of children is so comforting to me. Don't get me wrong our church in Tallahassee has all of this and we did go a couple times, it's just so much larger that it has a different feel. We absolutely adored our church in Anniston and some of our fondest memories are due in part to the size of the church. It was a small church. A small church that was thriving, full of life, and full of people who loved Jesus and us. First Pres is larger than Faith Pres but not as large as Wildwood and I know it will be a good fit for us. There are lots of young families and the church body seems to be thriving. This makes me very excited about being a part of it and raising the girls there.

Here are a few random pictures. I may have talked the curtains up too much. The best part I think was the fact that the fabric was only $1.50 a yd. They don't look as cute as I had explained, but they do turn the girls rooms into caves.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Visitors, Wanted and Unwanted

DaddyBoy (the wanted visitor) & "Squash" (the unwanted visitor)
DaddyBoy was fresh from the bed (maybe you can tell by the hair) when I solicited his assistance to remove "Squash" from the living room.

We had an absolutely wonderful weekend with my parents. They came into town on Friday afternoon and just headed out this morning. Friday we had enough time to show them our garden at the farm. It is full and thriving (thanks to an irrigation system rigged up by Justin) with squash, zucchini, corn, peanuts, okra, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, black eye peas, green beans, zipper cream peas, butternut squash, pumpkins, sunflowers, and lots of zinnias for cutting! We've already harvested squash and zucchini and in a few days we'll be up to our eyeballs in the crookneck squash & zucchini. Justin and I have always gardened together. Even when we dated at Auburn. He had a plot through an Auburn Ag. Dept Fraternity. It's been a while since ours has been this big... if ever this big. I look forward to charting the progress of the garden on the blog.

Saturday Justin and dad played at the farm and all the "girls" stayed here. Saturday evening we took Mom and DaddyBoy to see our lot. Because Justin and Dad had been bushogging the farm all day, they both added some sense of urgency to the need of bushogging the lot. On Sunday, with bush-hogging on the mind, he and Justin DROVE THE TRACTOR from the farm to our lot--- a grand total of 18 miles (1.5mi on 231-- which is a death sentence in a car, let alone a tractor going 15) and it only took and hour and a half to get there; thankfully my dad survived. Justin and Morgan followed in the truck, while Mom and Paiger and I went to TJ Maxx. We all headed back out to the lot Sunday night to see Dad's work and we were all duly impressed. I told Dad it looked like Central Park (which might have been a slight exaggeration) but it did look 150% better than it did the day before. We're trying to fix it up to sell it; it's kinda like a house, you fix it up and then you hate to leave, which is the story of our house-buying career. Anyway, it will make a very nice lot for someone... and it's rather relieving that it's not us.

We enjoyed many meals on the veranda (my parents referred to it as a carport but here in S. Alabama we call them verandas-- that is for you dad) and lots of quality time with Squash. She's become somewhat of a permanent fixture around here and has made herself right at home. Since I've told you how hot our house is, you're probably not surprised that we leave all the windows and doors open. Squash thinks that's an open invitation. Mom was quite shocked to find Squash in the bathroom Sunday afternoon and ever since the little stinker likes to sneak in. She also has found a new favorite spot to nap... you'll see on the pictures. She looked so comfortable I couldn't dare throw her out!

I also had a very short and sweet visit with a dear friend from Tallahassee. Brooke, Brock, and Jake Veleber came by on Sunday and it was so good to see them. I was quickly informed by my husband that I needed to go get dad from the lot shortly after they got here, but it was a delight nonetheless! I hope to be a stopping point for lots of Alabamians who now reside in Tallahassee! We both got a good laugh out of the fact that when she called she was in the DQ parking lot... she knew she was close... she just didn't know how close! Thanks Brooke and next time I hope we can visit longer!!

The girls are down and I'm wiped out so I'm going to go to bed. I started this earlier this afternoon and just now have been able to wrap it up! Here's a link to some pictures from our weekend. I didn't get as many as I hoped but here they are anyway!

Friday, May 18, 2007

14 days is too long!!

Obviously I was in a rut yesterday! I just had to write so those of you who were worried about me would know that I'm doing better, much better! My friend Tami came to my rescue and offered to watch the girls so I could run to Walmart. (and she hadn't even read the blog!) You know it's been a while since you've been away from your house when your sister-in-law calls to check on you because she sees you're not at home and someone else has your children. More important than buying my groceries I was afforded time by myself. I knew it had been a long time since I had been by myself but I didn't realize how long until I started backtracking in my mind. The last time I was alone, by myself, without a child or a husband was May 3 (I had to double check my receipts). That's 14 days! 14 days is along time if you have no kids, 4 kids, or 6 kids to not be by yourself. I think it was wearing on me and robbing me of my joy. I notice that I'm a happier person and nicer to my children if I can just be alone, even for a quick hour-long trip to Walmart. Hopefully it won't be two weeks until I'm alone again! I got to listen to my music in the car and talk on my cell phone and it was such a treat! It is our choice for me to stay home with the girls and I am so grateful for that. I wouldn't have it any other way and I feel so fortunate for the opportunity to be home with them... but there are times when it is nice to have a small break.

As for the timeline, it hasn't been emailed to me yet! Thankfully we're just fine where we are and thankfully the temps at night still go down to the 50s. My husband is almost done raking and bailing 250 bails of pinestraw and I know he'll be emerging from the woods soon! The girls and I went walking early yesterday morning and I got to spend some time thanking God for His provisions and for the fact that He is in control.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Timeline PLEASE!

Morgan helping me make eggs for breakfast. That's the butter for her toast (she wants to do everything herself these days).

I'm trying to be positive but I'm having a hard time here lately. As I've mentioned before I'm a "glass half-empty" person and thankfully I've been convicted of this and have made some changes. But this week I'm really struggling with it. The combination of interrupted sleep (by both a two year old and a ten month old), a house that's not ours, hot and a "little bit gross" as MCS would say, a husband who has been in the woods as long as the sun is up (raking pine straw... not playing), uncertainty of what the future holds, and some unmet expectations have put me in a disillusioned state. I'm still trying to convince myself that I don't want to switch places with my husband and go to work or push rewind on our lives and go back to Tallahassee.

I've never have been one to have my life planned out and I can pretty well roll with the punches. However, I seem to be struggling with this very thing. I had these expectations (they're dangerous I know!) of moving to Dothan and spending more time with my husband. I imagined him being a small business owner and being around so that I could have a little bit more time for myself. I imagined us being in a rental house while we build our house. And so far pretty much none of this is happening . And when I say time for myself, I don't mean time to get a pedicure, time to run errands, time to shop, time to sit and read, I really just mean time to go to the grocery store to buy our groceries. Having two young children really ties me to the house, especially when I can't seem to get them to sleep at the same time. I think I'm feeling a little trapped too!

I'm interested in seeing what the Lord will teach me through this. Being in limbo is hard for me and I'm certain His plans are better than mine and since I have none now, I'm really certain His plans are better than mine. I just wish He'd send me an email with a timeline of all the big and small details that I seem to be mulling over. And tell me exactly WHAT is next and WHEN would be nice too! But then what would I need Him for?

Thankful for and reminding myself of His SOVEREIGNTY... Darby

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Wonderful Mother's Day Weekend

Mama and her girls on Mother's Day weekend in one of about 5 outfits I made them last week. I figured if they were going to see my parents they were going to have to look cute and match! I got a little carried away but I was on a kick after those curtains!

We had an absolutely delightful time at the beach this weekend. As I mentioned before we left, I had very high expectations, which can put a lot of pressure on a weekend. Erika and Chance went out of their way to make sure we were all well taken care of. She even rented the neighbors cottage for Justin and I and Raiger to stay in so that everyone could spread out and be comfortable. Morgan, of course, had to stay at MommaSissy's house and sleep with "Mom" (which is what she calls my mom... and my dad is "DaddyBoy").

We arrived Friday night and enjoyed a wonderful dinner with some old friends from Louisville. It was great to see Cara and Matt and Angie and Chris and their precious children. Cara and Matt have a little girl (Lily) who is Morgan's age and it was fun to see them together. Mom and Dad rolled into town late Friday night (a GIANT roach just landed on me for the 2nd time in a week while I sit here and type...argh! Time to call the landlord, AGAIN!).
Saturday morning we headed to the beach. My sweet husband stayed home with Paiger Raiger while she had her morning nap and joined us at the beach later. Erika and Chance know how to go to the beach. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to go to the beach any other way after going with them. They have Walton County beach permits which allow them to drive their vehicles on the beach. We loaded up Chance's truck and Erika's old Bronco full of coolers, chairs, towels, and most importantly Morgan's training potty; you name we had it. And we just pulled right out on the beach with all our stuff and unloaded all our goodies right there.

My brother-in-law is a kid. And this may be one of my most favorite qualities about him. He's over 30 but if you didn't know it and only assessed his age based on his toys and eating habits you may think he was closer to age 12. Which is great for Morgan and those of us who like to pretend to be kids. Chance has devised this rope with handles out of marine rope and pvc and it is intended (by Chance) to be used to pull an individual on a skim board. The kids were flocking to Chance as he spun them around the lake at Grayton Beach. I thought it looked so fun that I needed to try. It was fun. It was SO fun. I honestly didn't care who saw me. It was like skiing (only in 3 inches of water). Well the three inches of water became a problem when my loving husband decided to fling me as fast as he could towards the shore line and I pummeled in the shallow water. I only cried for a few minutes and was able to get up and walk myself to the gulf to see if the salt water would help soothe the giant bruised, sand burned, strawberry that I got on my ham hock as a result of trusting my husband with my life. I still wince when I sit down and tonight may be the first night I can sleep on my left side. Justin (and everyone else) has only heard about 300 x how bad it hurt and still hurts! :)

Sunday we attempted to go to church. We actually all got dressed and in the cars but then realized it wasn't going to happen so we all got out of the cars and got undressed. This is what happens when you have a 2 year old and a 10 month old. Paige was ready to sleep and we were planning on going straight from church to the boat and those of you who are mothers know that this wouldn't work. So, the guys headed to Destin for the boat and Mom (my mom) decided to stay home and keep Paiger while the rest of us spent the day on the boat. We had a great time and great weather. We saw a ton of dolphins and I was about 2 feet from touching one. They are very playful and like to come up to the boat. They would flap their tails at us and swim along side the boat upside down. It was so much fun and I felt like I was on Flipper. I'll attach a link of pictures! I really was one of the most incredible things I've ever seen. The pictures don't do it justice. It's one of those things when you see those beautiful animals splashing and playing and coming so close to our boat that reminds me we have a Creator with a wild imagination! (Did I just quote Bob Dylan!?)

We stayed the night last night and came back to Dothan this morning! We had so much fun and the girls are both wiped out. Our landlord arranged to have our attic sprayed with insulation while we were gone over the weekend, unfortunately I haven't been able to tell a difference yet... hopefully soon!

My sweet husband treated me to wonderful Mother's Day surprises and I was reminded this Mother's Day what a special blessing it is to have two healthy and loving girls. I feel so very blessed to have my precious children and it was my prayer this Mother's Day to never take a day I have with them for granted. I also felt so blessed to be with my Mom this Mother's Day! It was so special to have her there and my girls all together which is a very rare thing for us! Mom and Dad are hopefully coming back through Dothan on their way home to Illinois.
I better get back to killing roaches and loads of laundry!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Great Expectations

Here's the Raiger in her new favorite location!

You can see our bedroom windows behind her. There are 4 along the back and two on either side. You can also see our neighbors house directly behind our bedroom (the house with the pool). They have a dog. She is tied to a fence. She's not allowed in the fence. She barks at us... A LOT. She seems sweet but doesn't like it when we go to our bedroom. She must think our bedroom is her bedroom. We think a lady lives there with 2 kids. I haven't quite figured it all out yet, but I'm working on it. Anyway, due to the extreme heat in our house we sleep with all our windows open. The sun rises a lot earlier here in central time. And apparently so does the dog and her owner. About every other day at 6:15 am the woman will walk out of her house (which is just a few feet beyond those uninsulated and open windows) and in a very loud voice say, "Move cat, move!" This is directed towards "Squash" who apparently doesn't belong to her. She makes it very clear because after she yells "Move cat, move!" about 12 times she says, "I don't know who you belong to, but it's not me. Move cat, move!" I have placed my digital camera on my nightstand in hopes of getting this on video. Justin and I just look at each other and question if what we are hearing is really happening or just a reoccurring nightmare. Thankfully we find it very amusing. So, along with photos of my new curtains (which have turned my children's bedrooms into caves) I hope to have a video clip of "that neighbor" and her 6 am dialog with "Squash".

, about these great expectations I have. My parents are heading south tomorrow and I have very high expectations for a wonderful Mother's Day weekend. It has just been pulled together in the last week and I am so excited to see them and for them to see the girls. The girls have both changed so much since we were home for Christmas. Erika and Chance have been working hard pulling it all together and I know it will be a wonderful weekend. Morgan is so excited to go to the beach. Tomorrow night we'll get to spend some time with some old friends from Louisville that we don't get to see that often and I am really excited about the whole weekend.
Until next time, Darby

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Dangerously Close to the DQ

One thing I failed to mention in my previous blog entry is the proximity of our neighborhood to every eating establishment under the shining sun. Especially the DQ! We could walk there if I thought we could cross the circle and make it to the other side. I found myself there yesterday and the day before. My baby has become a big girl and has learned to wear her big girl panties. We had 2 accidents yesterday but about 7 successful trips to the potty... including #2! Bribery with candy and other sweet treats is my main method for potty training. Ironically I have a very large weakness for candy and treats so if mommy uses the potty she gets a treat too! How exciting for me!

I took Morgan in her panties (which is probably one of the scariest things I've done in a while) with me to Hancock's Fabric (which is equally as close as the DQ--- scary, I know!) and she proved herself to be a big girl so on the way home we stopped for a treat! She brought it up and if she hadn't I probably would have!

My recent undertaking is curtains for all our bedroom windows. Morgan is her mother's daughter and I am certainly my mother's daughter. My mother made curtains for every window she ever owned and perhaps, since I am her daughter, I imagine she probably (like me) made curtains for windows she didn't own. I have spent the better part of the last few days working on these little gems and I am very anxious to get them hung, largely because they will cover our windows which seem to be made of nothing. During the day the temperature in here will not go below 78, even with the thermostat set at 73. (And the air blowing out of the registers is very cold!) During the heat of the afternoon with the sun beating in our windows (that are old aluminum crankouts and not insulated) it's a toasty 82 in here. Making these curtains is kinda like potty training Morgan... kind of a pain to do, but deep down inside it's really exciting and pleasurable to me. I think there's some creative and artistic section of my brain that needs to be exercised at least once or twice a month. Here lately it's only been exercised by using Crayola crayons on Curious George coloring books. Thankfully for Morgan, her mom loves to color. Yesterday we sat down and colored together and she kept saying, "Oooh Mommy, yours looks so pretty! That looks so good Mommy!" (Don't worry I gave myself a little pat on the back!:))

Anyway, the curtains are almost done and I'm so excited about them! I found some really cute fabric for Morgan's on the clearance table at Hancocks and found fabric for ours and Paiger's in my huge bins of fabric that I have toted from house to house and never used. Erika gave me the precious fabric for Paiger's curtains. I was so excited to tell her that I used it. She informed me that I made curtains for a rental house out of fabric that costs about $100 a yard! Oops, but it sure is cute!! Hope Paiger likes them! I have lined all of them with thermal black-out lining. Maybe my children will sleep all day now and not wake up drenched in sweat! :) I even bought velcro to velcro them to the window trim at the bottom; I don't want ANY of my cool air escaping!

Here's a link to some pictures of Morgan and Judson (and a couple of Paiger so everyone knows she's around too). We have 2 great baby pools, 2 sprinklers, and lots of outdoor toys, bikes, trikes, cars, you name it, but Morgan and Judson found the pond they built (with the help of Morgan's cousins) much more entertaining! Watching them play in it was so much fun! Enjoy! Oh, and don't worry... once these curtains are up, I'll send pictures of them too!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Camping (with a cat)

She is her mother's daughter!

We are settling in more and more everyday. Morgan has made a new friend. His (or maybe her) name (according to Morgan) is "Squash". Not as in "to smash" but as in the plant you put in your garden. She gave him a tour of our carport and told him about everything that was in the carport that belonged to her. The cat thoroughly enjoyed the tour and was especially fond of Morgan's little tummy that hangs out over her shorts. That tail would twist and turn and wrap itself around her tummy and she would giggle and say, "That tickles kitty!" I couldn't resist taking about 500 pictures. She was pretty gentle with him but I continued to remind her that not all cats are nice. So she told Squash about 20 times that "not all cats are nice"! :) Enjoy the slideshow.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Dothan, we live in an area called the "Garden District". It's absolutely a beautiful area of all older homes. Probably one of Dothan's first neighborhoods. It has mature trees and nice, well cared for lawns and houses. Most of the houses have been updated or completely replaced with a new home leaving just a few "peeling paint rentals" (like the one we're living in). It reminds me a lot of the neighborhood that George Banks and his family live in in Father of the Bride. It's very quaint and just makes you smile to walk up and down the streets. I met a nice man the other day named Mr. Wood while I was walking with the girls. He has a beautiful rose garden and cut Morgan 4 beautiful roses. Yesterday when I was telling Tami how nice he was, she said, "You know who that is don't you? It's Ashley Maddox's father-in-law" Which would be Brett and Maggie Wood's dad. I never put two and two together!

Yesterday, Paiger and I walked over to Tami's and on the way I saw the most meticulous yard I have ever seen. The grass was immaculate, they had a beautiful rose garden, and about 40 of the most beautiful blueberry bushes. Justin and I are in the market for blueberry bushes for the farm so I was drooling over them as I walked by. I noticed the owners were sitting in their carport so I decided we'd drop in and ask them a few questions about their bushes. As I walked up they had their backs to me so I said, "Excuse me, I don't want to startle you, but I want to talk to you about your blueberries." I was rather taken back with, "Oh, hey Darby, how are you!?" they replied. It was the Ganter's. We all laughed because I had no clue I was at their house. I got a quick tour and a brief history of the bushes and I told them I'd be bringing Justin back for a field trip! I was also informed that I'd have to beat Chris to the blueberries when they're ripe... thankfully I'm about 3 hours closer (and 8 doors down)!

We've decided to look at our time in this house as a camping experience; trying to get by on the bare essentials! Justin made the term "camping" a little more literal when I could hear him calling for me yesterday morning from the bathroom. I walked in and asked him what he needed, I thought he would ask for a bar of soap, a washcloth, but no, he was asking that I bring him his flip flops before he got out of the shower. I laughed pretty hard at the thought of my very manly archaeologist husband not wanting his clean bare feet to touch the bathroom floor!

I've taken some pictures over the last few days, check the link below if you want to see. The best thing so far about this neighborhood is having our family 3 doors down. Morgan loves her cousins and it's so fun to be just a short walk away. Justin has joined the First Baptist softball team with Ryan and I look forward to watching them play together. Ok, I woke up early to blog and now that Paiger is up it's hard to concentrate!