My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Thursday, June 26, 2014

What June Looks Like - The Outdoor Version

Another week is flying by and I have barely blogged enough to convince you that I am still among the living. I am. Living. Got a bit of a sore throat and the usual aches and pains but Austin's been hanging out at his girlfriend's all week and it's been pure bliss down here in the Whine Cellar!

I'm also very excited about the start of another season of Big Brother. Unlike Survivor, Amazing Race, The Bachelor/Bachelorette, etc, Big Brother is only on once a year except for that one forgettable Winter season that stunk. Last night they introduced half of the cast - a big twist because they usually all enter the house at the exact same time - and I'm encouraged that this will be a much more interesting group than in years past. One houseguest's personal Facebook page shows that we have two mutual friends and I am REALLY excited about that two degrees of separation with him! It's like the season when my (then) husband was working with the business partner of Mike Boogie - it made the characters seem more like real people than plastic wannabe actors right out of central casting. The live feed isn't in my budget but I still plan to follow along with all the recaps and watch the broadcast and waste a lot of time on Big Brother this Summer.

I posted a dozen cat pictures the other day to show you what life is looking like indoors here at Cedar Hollow so this afternoon I ventured into the great outdoors to take a few snapshots of life OUTDOORS. Riveting blog fodder, I know. It's all I've got. Buckle up, folks, here goes!

 My brother made a glider for my parents and it never did glide right so my mom took it apart to make a lovely bench and (once we add a board) table for the porch. Today she painted it. So that was new.
Also new... courtesy of our good friends at Lowe's... an outdoor dining set. While at Lowe's my parents met a neighbor, the one who lives behind the scary fence with the rebel flag and "don't tread on me" flag on it... he told them that there's a guy who lives in the nudist colony across the street from him goes horseback riding in the nude. Glad we haven't come across that sight! I might run off the road.
Remember all the excitement last Summer about my huge mushrooms in the front forest? (You can't really call it a yard). There's a new one this year and I've named him Marvin. You're welcome, Marvin. I thought you might enjoy that. 

There's a new trellis for one of the rose bushes beside my porch. When Little Kitty and I were outside exploring this morning he noticed it and had to put his little paws on it to see what it was. He is so OCD that he notices anything different, whether it's inside or out.
 Another view of the new trellis so you can see it in relation to my porch swing and rocking chair. Even on the hottest days by mid-afternoon the porch is shaded and it's pleasant to sit outside.
 Garden bed #1
Tomatoes are getting large and squash is blooming. I think that's squash. I can't tell until something grows.
Garden bed #2
Contains squash. I know this because there are squash in it. Actual, just about ready to pick squash.
 The other side of the flower bed beside my porch. You can see two kitty cats on the shelf right inside the door. Look for the glowing eyes - and the arrows pointing out the kitty cats.
Garden bed #3, contents unknown to me, surrounded by new fence to keep out deer
Blackberry bushes
Wildflowers growing on hill (that's the tall stuff, you can't really see the flowers but in real life it looks like flowers, not tall grass)

Close up of blackberry bush
Berries I picked tonight. I covered them in sugar to sit overnight and will have them for breakfast tomorrow! Mmmm!

AND.... that's what June looks like outside here at Cedar Hollow!
Love and hugs, y'all!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What June Looks Like

Cats in boxes

Cats on shelves

Cats in chairs and nests and beds

Stubby took over Jamie's nest last week and has been proudly perching on the snuggie she likes to cover up with ever since. When he first settled there she said, "Oh Stubby! Now Mawmaw is going to have to wash all my blankets!" since she's allergic.

This is my pillow... my favorite pillow. I sleep on it until Little Kitty gets in bed with me. He is so determined to sleep on MY pillow that he will sit on my head until I move. The sweetest thing is that when he lays beside me he pets me on the head until he falls asleep. And he sleeps with one paw touching me. It's just precious! 

I also think it's cute that he naps in the same spaces at the same time every day. The "penthouse" - the top of the pantry shelf with the sleeping bag on top - is where he goes down (or up) for a nap at 7pm every night. He sleeps somewhere on the main floor or top floor of the house during the day. At night he sleeps with me. I think he sleeps about 23 hours a day. 

Eddie sleeps in the box on the lower shelf when he comes down in the evenings for treats. When I get out of my nest, he climbs into it and enjoys the warmth left behind by myself and my heating pad. 

I've been keeping busy with a cross-stitch kit that my grandma sent me... I'm about 11 days in and making good progress 
but I've made a dozen little mistakes so who knows what it will look like when it's finished. I'm enjoying it so much that I'm thinking about taking on a few more cross stitch projects for Christmas gifts. We'll see. Mom and I looked at materials in Walmart yesterday but I wanted to hold off on buying anything until I get through this project and see if I'm still in the mood for stitchin'. 

The weather has been hot and steamy and I've been eating mostly fruit and salads and such. The last time I checked I was down ten pounds from my birthday which is a tiny, tiny amount of weight to lose and trust me - hasn't made a bit of difference in how I look - but at least I'm going in the right direction for once. I splurged on a pound of cherries yesterday as a treat. My parents made this really good salad out of the latest Southern Living magazine with peas and pasta and mint and a lemon-shallot viniagrette. It was SO good! We decided it needed a few less peas and some ham or something extra tossed in. Pop had grilled steaks the night before so I tossed in some leftover steak. Really yummy! 

We've had to put fences around some of the raised bed gardens because of deer. You can tell my Jamie has been a country girl all her life. When I asked, "Do you know why Pop had to put a fence around the garden?" She said, "to keep the deer out?" Gold star. I'll take some outdoor pictures later on to share. Things are blooming and growing and it's all quite verdant and lovely out there. 

I'm reading Bill O'Reilly's book, Killing Jesus which has (so far) proven to be a very informative, much more in depth exploration into the crucifixion.I'm having to take it in small chunks because it's not a light read by any stretch. 

And of course, I pass my days with the tv playing in the background. Sometimes I watch, sometimes I just listen but it's on while I'm awake. I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm enjoying watching The Bachelorette and am looking forward to Big Brother which starts TOMORROW (please let it be a fun cast this year!). 

So that's what June looks like around here... hope yours is going well! Love and hugs, y'all!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Making Memories

Just when life was feeling stagnant and stale... my niece Jamie came over to spend the afternoon with me yesterday! We....

  • Watched the video of her week at camp, pausing to point out the significant people and scenes...
  • Watched Frozen complete with pausing to catch the scene with Rapunzul... and discuss important plot points... and to try to figure out how to do Anna's braid/bun... I said, "I wonder how they did that braid... " Jamie said, "ANIMATION!" 
  • Had a glass of chocolate milk and an ice cream sandwich (her) and shared a banana...
  • Gave a lesson on cross-stitch and helped her sew a few stitches at which point she agreed that it was indeed "VERY HARD" and she was going to just let me do it myself...
  • Watched countless episodes of My Little Pony, something about a Pet Shop, Pound Puppies...
  • Checked the garden to see what was growing...
  • Checked the blackberry bushes in the lower yard and determined they're about a week from ripe...
  • Climbed the hill to the front yard and slid out of my crocs and socks on the steep hill and giggled over it...
  • Picked blackberries from the bushes in the front yard which are about a week past ripe...
  • Made clover necklaces and tiaras...
  • Sat in the porch swing...
  • Searched Pinterest for craft ideas with cardboard (something we have in abundance around here)...
  • She took a boat ride with Pop and Oscar the dachshund...

And that was my very Jamie afternoon.

It's amazing how much joy a kid can inject into your day! Of course, you have to be willing to slow down and give them your undivided attention. I know parents can't always do that... and folks with 9 to 5 jobs can't do that. But the one thing I have in abundance is TIME!  I'm glad to have plenty of time to share. She may not remember every single detail but she'll remember the times we spent together. She mentioned her Gramps yesterday, something they had done together (I can't remember now what it was) and I thought that was pretty special that she has great memories of Gramps who passed away two years ago.

Today I'm feeling the effects of the extra activity but basking in the glow of memory making.

Austin is spending the day with his girlfriend so I've had the Whine Cellar all to myself. I've worked on my cross stitch and watched tv and cuddled with some kitties. The weather is too hot and muggy for me to be outside.

Hope your week is going well! Love and hugs!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Catching Up

I started working on a cross stitch project on Thursday and I've done little else since then - even blog! There's also really very little blogworthy happening in my life right now. Still, I know how my mother hens worry so I thought I'd give you a little update.

My brother got home from Kenya on Sunday and of course, the very next day we have news reports of Christians being killed in Kenya. Although the chances of anything happening were slim, I'm so glad for our peace of mind that he was home before any of this news broke. Very, very sad for the state of affairs there and very, very worried about what this world is coming to, even more than usual.

Austin is dating a new girl that he dated off and on in high school. She's been married and divorced and gained some weight since then but I just say, "if you're happy, I'm happy" and let him figure these things out for himself. Lord knows I've got nothing worthwhile to contribute to the idea of finding a lasting relationship. I try not to project my neurosis on him any more than necessary.

Speaking of... he is going to a job interview this afternoon with a place that holds a lot of red flags, employment-wise to me. They seem to be a direct marketing place where you make appointments and then go to peoples' homes to sell very expensive knives. First of all... Austin in new places all the time? Not good. Austin plus knives? Not a match. They told him over the phone that he could work from home and make $13 an hour plus commission. I have my doubts. I expressed my concerns to him but encouraged him to go to the interview anyways just for the experience with job interviews. Much easier to get used to the process without the stress of REALLY wanting the job.

His vocational rehab counselor met with him this morning to go over his "plan" with them. She is getting him into counseling to help him overcome some of the autism issues that make working a little harder. She says they will pay for drivers training for him would be a huge, huge help. I don't know. His transition to adulthood has not been an easy process but then again, we didn't expect it to be.

I've been struggling to keep my spirits up about this whole disability process. I am officially out of money. I went on Friday and closed my bank account. I closed the Netflix account. I moved my car insurance to my parents' account. And that's it - thirty years of employment and I have nothing left to show for it. All it took was two bad marriages, raising three kids with a minimum of child support and a few really unfortunate health issues to wipe out everything I accumulated in my entire life. There's really no way for that to not be discouraging. I work really hard at not being bitter but I just think about the huge sum of money that I never got for child support that would have made a huge difference. I think about the employer who paid me less than I was worth. I think about the heavy burden I carried as a single mom that wore my body out sooner than it would have and it's hard not to carry a little grudge. Then I flip the page and think about all the good stuff that has happened to me over the years where people were beyond generous and kind to me. You have to feel like it all balances out - that I wouldn't be who I am if I hadn't struggled and I wouldn't have the faith I have if I hadn't had to depend on God to provide. He is still providing. I am still faithful. But broke.

Just think about the things that you buy in the course of a day. Take away what you spend on shelter and food and transportation - all that stuff is taken care of in my world, by the Grace of God - and think about every pack of gum and latte at Starbucks and newspaper or magazine you buy and imagine not being able to do that for yourself and knowing that it could be a long time, if ever, before you can do that again. It's humiliating and depressing.

So that's what's happening in my life right now. I snagged a few pictures of my Bubba that my friend took in Africa and I'll leave you with those. That's my perspective - no matter how tough life is, I still life in a place where it's highly unlikely that I'll be killed for my beliefs. My life ain't so bad.

 My brother is the one on the left, in case that wasn't obvious.
 Teaching middle schoolers. From the floor.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thankful Thursday

I think it's about time I resurrected my "Thankful Thursday" edition of the ol' blog. It's really easy these days to find a lot of reasons to be bitter/frustrated/depressed/discouraged... but there are just as many, if not more reasons to be thankful. In case I haven't mentioned them lately, I'm going to do so now and then we can refer back to this post on the days that I feel compelled to compare myself to Job.

Old mailbox = new birdhouse thanks to the kid's creativity
I'm thankful that my Steel Magnolia survived another health scare over the weekend and made it through surgery to implant a pacemaker which will hopefully keep her ticker tickin' for many more years to come.

I'm thankful for my Aunt Claire, who is dealing with her own health struggles but yet was able to be there at Grandma's side when she needed her.

I'm thankful for my mom's willingness to make the trip down with Pop to visit Grandma yesterday. I know it's a long drive and I'm glad he didn't have to go alone this time.

I'm thankful to be right down stairs from my parents so that any time there's a family crisis/event I am among the first to know and therefore the able to quickly bring it before the Lord.

I'm thankful for my parents who are generous with their time, their talents and their funds to make our home a lovely place to be.

I'm thankful for the family connections that have grown stronger over the past year or two... being able to chat with my cousin Mandie about our similar circumstances... being able to see photos of cousins and second cousins and second cousins once removed... having grown from the same roots makes them more precious to me.

I'm thankful that some of the tension in our family has eased over the past week. I'm thankful that we have the ability to overlook each other's faults and embrace each other's strengths.

I'm thankful for all the time I've had over the past few years to really expand my mind - to research anything that interests me from travel to genealogy to Hollywood gossip. Everyday I spend a lot of time surfing the net but those days are not wasted.

I'm thankful for the visitors to my nest from geese to frogs to salamanders to nieces to my kids and my kids' friends. It's hard to take a nap here because there is always someone passing through but I'm glad there are always people passing through.

I'm thankful for my fur babies. They constantly amuse and comfort me.

I'm thankful for my view. If you spend a lot of time in one place, that place should be lovely and comfortable and mine is both.

I'm thankful for my porch swing (which has now been lowered to make it easier for me to get in and out of).

I'm thankful for the roses blooming beside my patio.

I'm thankful for the sounds that serenade Little Kitty and myself as we go out for our little "walks" twice a day... the hoot owl, the crow, the birds, the frogs... it's a real symphony of nature.

I'm thankful for the library, for the opportunity to borrow books and expand my mind.

I'm thankful for our scenic small town, especially during the week when there are fewer tourists. I'm thankful for small, friendly shops where people remember us and for the congenial conversations that take place among the villagers. You can tell when someone is a tourist because they don't smile when they pass by.

I'm thankful for my family and friends in Africa this week, living out the Great Commission. I'm proud to know them and grateful that those who can go, do.

I'm thankful that my oldest is smoke-free for the past nine days. All those nights I lay awake listening to him breathe when he was a baby with asthma, praying that his lungs would clear... and he grew up to be a smoker. I'm thankful that he's taking better care of himself.

I'm thankful for the success of my brothers and my kids.

I'm thankful for the career I had, that it sustained us for so many years.

I'm thankful that I don't have to go to work. I suffered for so many workdays before I finally gave it up. I'm thankful that I can say that I gave it my best shot.

I'm thankful for being able to baby my back, not having to do things very often that exacerbate the pain. I'm thankful to be able to rest when I need to.

I'm thankful for the Godly men and women who are leading my nieces at camp this week. I'm thankful that they have this opportunity and these wonderful experiences to remember.

I'm thankful for the buckets and buckets of blackberries that are just about ready to be picked outside.

I'm thankful for you, my blog-readers, for those who know me in real life and read to keep up with me and for those who don't know me in real life but care about me anyways.

I am blessed.

Love and hugs, y'all!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Summer Camp Memories

Miss Sassafrass - my niece Jamie - stylin' at camp (on the right) 
This week my nieces are at Summer Camp. The kids from our church go to a camp that is actually located within our small town. Unlike when we were growing up - or even like when my kids were growing up - the kids don't just disappear into the wilderness where you don't have a clue what's happening in their lives all week. The girls' camp is on Facebook (which is how I snagged the photos included in this blog post, used without permission but hopefully with forgiveness). I'm not sure it's better this way because looking at pictures of my girls this morning made me SOB! They're having such a great time and I know this week, like the others they've spent at camp, will be cemented in their memory for the rest of their lives.

Sarabeth says, "Hello Muddah... Hello Faddah"... 
In preparation for their week at camp, I sat down last week and wrote a card to each of them for each day to be delivered during this week of camp. I reminisced about my own camp experiences and shared some (brief) stories with them. Their camp allows you to drop off mail when you drop off the kids and the mail is delivered to them on whatever day you indicate. The girls were excited to know they had mail coming but wouldn't even look at the stack of envelopes because they didn't want to ruin the surprise! I've been excited all week knowing that they are reading what I've written for them and thinking about Aunt Heather at least once a day!

Jamie attacks the pirate
When I was a little girl I went to two years at Camp Pinnacle. It was (still is) located in far Northeast Georgia in Clayton, Georgia. Clayton the town, not Clayton the county. I used to always have to clarify that. It was about a four hour drive from home. I was 9 and 10 the two years I went. We slept in bunk beds in cabins and had a buddy from our church that we chose. The first year I was paired with a girl named Doreen. We never really clicked - she was a bit bookish and odd and I was more outgoing and loud. Between the first year and the second year of camp I got closer to my lifelong friend Dewayna (aka Tay) but when it came time to pick for camp, I picked Doreen again because even back then I was a girl who wanted things to stay the same. Dewayna eventually forgave me but I'll never forget hearing her on the phone crying to her mother, "I have to go with BETTY JO".

Other than that my primary memories of camp are having to hike Pinnacle Mountain (which I HATED), worrying about having enough money for the snack bar AND to buy craft supplies. I wrote about that in my notes to the girls - being sent to camp with only $3.35 for a week that had to pay for snacks AND crafts - and how God provided for me, even then. I remember almost all the goofy songs we sang - "Peanut, peanut butter - and jelly. Peanut, peanut butter - and jelly". I remember chapel services that were sedate and reverent and very much like all our church services were back then - conservative. None of these rockin' praise choruses that we get to enjoy now. None of that Pentecostal raising of hands in praise or shouting "amen".
Bethy on the zip line (on the right) 

The camp the girls go to is more adventurous than our camp was. The worship services are full of actual WORSHIP on a level that we never quite achieved. The facilities are new, modern and yet seem even more rustic than our old cement block cabins.

In my youth group we initially had two Summer camp experiences: Myrtle Beach and Trinity. Myrtle Beach was (of course) in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina which we would reach by traveling in an old school bus overnight after Sunday evening services. The journey was hot, sticky, sweaty and exhausting. The bus often broke down and left us sitting on the curb at a gas station in God-forsaken-nowhere while Papa Joiner tried to fix it. When we finally reached Myrtle Beach we set up tents in an ocean side campground and our meals were prepared on gas grills. We had lots and lots of Bible study and lots and lots of beach time. We had one night at the amusement park, one night at the water slide... and lots of time just hanging out. The two things I remember most from Myrtle Beach are the all-you-can-grab candy counter with every kind of candy you can imagine and the two-sandwich Chick-fil-a meal that we were given at the beginning of our journey back home.
Mess Hall at Woodlands Camp

Trinity was a camp that was set up on an island in Lake Lanier. There was no electricity or running water. A pit was dug for a privvy that we called "the wahine" for girls and the "mahine" for boys. We bathed in the lake. The girls' tents were set up on one side of the island and the boys' were set up on the other side with the adult tents in the middle. Meals were prepared on gas grills that were brought over on boats. I only remember one year of Trinity, I think it was discontinued after that. I forgot my swimsuit so I had to swim in a tshirt and shorts. The lasting joke - the funniest thing that ever happened at Trinity was Mary Beth Warren bringing a hair dryer - there was no electricity!

Worship Service at Woodlands
The Bible teaching and group bonding that I had during those weeks away at camp helped form my character and made me who I am today. Those friends from way back then are still friends to this day in many cases. It was such a precious time in life and such a wonderful adventure. My family rarely took vacations - there were too many kids and not enough money. These weeks at camp were my first vacations and my first grasp of independence. They are precious memories to me now.

I'm struggling with a lot of pain and depression this week. My money has completely run out. I've always had times where funds were low but this is the first time in my adult life where all my money was gone with none on the way. It's humiliating to not be able to even get a 99cent drink at McDonalds without asking for a parental donation and I hate having to be a burden on them. I'm facing having to close my bank account because I can't afford the $10 a month service charge and having to turn in the registration on my car because I can't afford car insurance.

Lake at Woodlands
It's absolutely demoralizing to have worked from the time I turned sixteen and to have nothing - absolutely nothing - to show for it. I'm grateful that I was able to make it through the first thirteen months of no income before reaching this point but man... it really stinks to be truly broke (not Hillary Clinton broke with millions of dollars in book deals in the bank). And I can't help but think - what if my case is eventually declined? What if there really is no money coming my way, ever, unless I suffer? I struggle to get through a brief trip to the grocery store... how would I ever work? It's been heavy on my mind this week.

Not Yo' Mama's Summer Camp! 
Mom and Pop have gone to spend the day with Grandma. She had a pacemaker put in on Monday and is recovering back at her Assisted Living home. She was having bouts of tachycardia and they hope this will regulate her heartbeat. Austin - who has been doing amazingly well at keeping his sleep schedule on a normal routine instead of his usual vampire schedule - graciously volunteered to do dog duty so I am not having to be up and down like I normally would be if my parents are gone. I'm so grateful for his cooperation. I'm even more grateful that some of stresses with him from last week have gotten better and he is doing much, much better with a much more positive outlook. It's a huge relief for me. The visit from Cody and Marquee went a long way toward neutralizing things up here.

Nothing at all like the lake at Camp Pinnacle! 
And... that's about all for today. Hope you enjoyed the trip down memory lane and I hope you enjoyed the photos of my girls! Love and hugs, y'all!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Answer Me This

Me on my 2nd birthday - just sharing because it's cute
Since my blog views increase by a few dozen every time I do it... I'm linking up with Kendra at Catholic All Year for her Answer Me This questions. It also gives me something to talk about when I don't have anything blogworthy to say.

1. Do you have a land line?

We have one but don't use it. The plan we're on charges something ridiculous for outgoing calls and since the number was never given out to anyone we know, if it rings we know it's telemarketing so it never gets used. We all have cell phones.

2. What is your least favorite food?

I'm about one rare steak away from being a vegetarian so most of my culinary dislikes are meat of some kind. I would never, could never eat organ meats - brains, intestines and other unmentionable parts that some consider delicacies however I also dislike red meat that is less than medium well or chicken on the bone. I love almost every vegetable or fruit you can think of and my diet is primarily vegetarian when I have the choice.

3. What's on your summer reading list?

I'm currently reading Appalachian Adventure - a journal with many, many photos of a group of journalists that collectively hiked the entire Appalachian Trail in 1994. Normally I'm not crazy about books that far back, especially non-fiction because non-fiction is real life and life changes a lot in the course of twenty years. The mountains, however, are timeless and I am enjoying every single page of this book. I'm also reading Rick Steve's guidebook to Rome. I know it seems sorta crazy to read a guidebook when I'm never ever going to be able to travel but honestly, it's a mental escape for me. Travel and biographies are at the top of my reading list for now. 

4. Is there something that people consistently ask for your advice on? What is it?

I get questions about the following subjects:
My grandma - around 1944
  • raising boys
  • raising a child with Aspergers
  • costumes - especially period costumes because I'm such a history buff
  • genealogy - Grandma called yesterday to see if I knew of any Revolutionary War veterans on her mother's side of the family. Why yes, there are FIVE! 
  • insurance
  • theatre and show tunes
Cody, Marquee, Austin & friends floating in the lake yesterday

5. What's the most physically demanding thing you've ever done?

Childbirth x3.  Nowadays the most physically demanding thing I do is walk down to the dock. I don't go down there unless we have company or something interesting going on down at the lake but I love it down there.

6. How do you feel about massages?
I've never really had one so I can't say. 

The next set of questions (I'm never really sure which set is the current set so I just go ahead and answer both because... why not?) 

1. What’s something you intended to do today, but didn't?
The day is young so I haven't disappointed myself yet. Mom and I did plan to go to the grocery store this morning but neither one of us is really up to it.

2. What's your favorite grilling recipe?
My cutie-patootie niece Jamie when she was around 3
I'm abnormally afraid of fire so I hardly ever do my own grilling but if someone is grilling for me I'm a big fan of kebabs and well done hamburgers.

3. What movie did you see most recently?
High School Musical 3 with my nieces.

4. Would you say your tendency is to over or under react to medical situations?
I always tend to lean too heavily on Dr. Google for medical advice which means that I can make a mountain out of any mole hill! However, considering that a lot of the stuff wrong with me is unusual for someone of my age, I can't really say that I over react because a lot of times stuff is really wrong. REALLY wrong.

5. Do you squeeze the toothpaste tube or roll it?
Squeeze because the kid does and there's no fighting it.

6. What are you doing for Father's Day? 
No plans as of yet. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Friday the 6th

I have about two dozen blog posts swirling in my head but none of them seem to be making it to the keyboard. Some are too deep, too controversial, too sad... and some are pictures of cats and cute kids. I really feel like I could jump off either side of the bridge any moment: life is pure bliss or life is a hopeless mess. I could be easily nudged in either direction by the smallest of events.

My kid is going through such a rough time. You are only as happy as your saddest child. I look at the accomplishments of the other two and am so relieved that they are safe and happy and loved but that can't undo the heartache that I feel for the one lost lamb. His whole life has been a struggle for people to understand and accept him. To those who show him grace I feel infinite gratitude. To those who treat him with indifference... I understand and accept because I know he's hard to deal with but I still hurt for him. I don't think there's a day lately that I don't shed a tear for him. He's the child who has the least amount of contact with his father - his entire life has been about rejection from him. He's a pariah in our family for something that may (or may not) have happened when he was very young so he carries that burden. The Darby years were traumatic for him for several reasons and honestly, for every person who showed him any kindness there are a dozen who treated him like an outcast. Years of those kind of events and this recent breakup have left him really discouraged and just... lost. The people who are hardest to love are truly the ones who need it most.

He was dating a local girl that he had dated in high school. They got together last Summer just a few weeks after she had a baby. She told him that the baby was a product of date rape and ALTHOUGH the story always seemed sort of suspicious to me, I never challenged it because what if it HAD been true and something like that had happened and no one believed her. I'm such a huge proponent of choosing life, no matter what the circumstances that I wanted to support her decision to have her baby. As it turns out the baby was conceived with a boy who was going into the military and the story was concocted to keep him out of trouble. She got bored since he was away and basically just used my kid for amusement lying to him about her situation for the past nine months. Honestly, I'm glad that she's out of his life because the last thing he needs is to be with someone so dishonest and manipulative but he's hurt that he was made a fool for so long. It sure doesn't help him be able to trust in the future.

Otherwise... I had a great day with my nieces yesterday. We went to Babyland General and then to the peanut stand for boiled peanuts. It was a hot day and I did a lot more walking than I'm used to so by the time I got home with them I was really feeling awful. I don't know if it's the meds or the pain but I was so sick to my stomach that I just knew I was going to have to pull over and throw up on the way home. The road that leads to our house is so curvy and those curves were killing me! I knew that if I got sick it would freak the girls out - I had the air on full blast and was breathing deeply trying to keep it together. We got home and settled into my very cool Whine Cellar and we all just sort of melted. When my mom popped down for something Sarabeth said, "Mawmaw.... Jamie needs something for lunch... and so do I..." and that's the last thing I heard out of her for a long while. She woke up long enough to eat and then crashed for the afternoon.

Jamie built her little nest on my blue rug with her special pillows and blankets that I keep tucked away in a cabinet in a trash bag so that they don't accumulate cat fur (she's allergic). Mawmaw set up a laptop for her and we watched a few episodes of My Little Pony. Sarabeth had booster shots the other day for middle school and I think that's what wiped her out. Whatever the cause... I'm your go-to-guy if you need a lazy afternoon. After awhile Jamie and I went outside to sit in the porch swing and then picked blackberries.

I'm not getting enough sleep at night because Little Kitty has become so needy and demanding that he wakes me up several times a night to PET HIM. I used to be able to tuck my arms in the blankets and he would think that the hands were gone so petting time was over. Lately he's been starting at my shoulder and tracing his paw down my arms until he finds my hands and then he'll use whatever means necessary to get that petting machine turned back on - nipping at me with his teeth, tapping me with claws, whatever it takes. I could just close him out at night but I'd miss his demanding little self. Austin's been sleeping better at night and I think Little Kitty is missing playtime with Austin. It doesn't matter how late I fall asleep or how little sleep I get, I'm wide awake by 8am at the latest and have a hard time getting a decent nap. This morning Pop had to wake me up to find the keys to one of his cars. I had driven it yesterday with the girls and was so sick when I got home that I dropped the keys in my purse instead of hanging them up. That particular car is the one with his golf clubs in the trunk and he was going to play golf so... after that I made an early morning (before it got too hot) trip to the store to buy more luigi's italian ice.

In other news... the geese around here have gotten really aggressive and come all the way up to the back porch. The yard is covered in goose poop and feathers. I guess that will translate into a really green lawn at some point. Pictures of geese replacing pictures of cats today.

You're all caught up for the weekend now! Love and hugs, y'all!

Picture taken through the sliding glass door... that's how close they are. The novelty of having geese nearby has truly worn off!