Subscribe: Just the Four of Us...
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
archie  back  camper  day  didn  family  house  kids  lawrence  life  lydia  new  people  phillip  picture  time  year 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Just the Four of Us...

Just Keep Swimming

Updated: 2018-03-05T12:08:35.986-05:00


BVI: Adventure Planning!


Back in 2015, during a couples retreat, Phillip and I were supposed to describe some goals we had as a couple.  The first was where we see ourselves in 2020 (five years in the future) and then 10 or 20 years in the future.  We had to draw a picture of our life in 2020.  This is what we drew and it still hangs on our refrigerator:We are both happy with our lifestyle and saw no changes, only progressions.  Our picture consisted of Phillip and I are sitting in the rocking chairs on the porch of the restaurant at Presley’s Outing.  As you can see, we are content and relaxed!  The figures in our picture are Cowboy (with the cowboy hat on!), Lynn, Mr. Presley has the cane, but has a dotted line drawn around him because he was (at the time of our drawing) an unknown due to his advanced age.  David Ray is next, and our neighbor, Susan (indicated by girl hair) is last.  The dotted people are all the unknowns.  The people who pass into and out of our lives due to the transient nature of our community.  You can see our fifth wheel, in which we still intend to live at that point in the future.  The kids are pictured, Archie at 18, Lawrence at 11, and Lydia at 10.  Archie has a dotted line from him to a camper because we don’t know where he will live at this point.  We hope if not in our camper, then another one close by.  During the time we drew this, he mentioned one time that he’d like to one day move into a camper in our campground, but it would be waaaay across the lake from us.  He’d like to be close, but not too close.  He has since changed his mind completely and claims to be living in an apartment at 18.  We shall see.  What I really want, no matter where we live or our circumstance, is to have adventures.  Adventures with the kids, adventures with Phillip.  But adventures.  Lots of them.Back toward Thanksgiving last year, Phillip mentioned in passing that his friend asked if we would like to join him and some other couples on a sailing trip around the British Virgin Islands on a rented 42 foot sailboat that this friend would captain.  Phillip has known Tyler since high school and they still remain friends, despite not seeing each other much due to adult responsibilities.  Tyler is a meticulous planner and we have gone on a trip with him before.  We hiked along the Appalachian Trail in 2008 while I was pregnant with Lawrence.  It was a great trip for me because it was one in which I didn’t have to work out all the details.  Where do we start?  Where do we finish?  How many miles in a day?  Where to make camp?  How to expect elevation to work into miles actually able to be hiked?  All I had to do was figure out meals for our family and handle gear.  It turned out to be a fantastic experience, one that planted a seed for me to eventually seek out the life I am currently living.  When the sailing was mentioned, I thought, “Yeah, right.  I could never pull something like that off.”  I dismissed it as impossible.  But the suggestion just wouldn’t leave my mind.  Fast forward to New Year’s Eve.  Phillip and I were out having drinks and talking about the year.  Where we were with our life goals, where we thought we might be going.  It had been occurring to me during my time of New Year’s introspection that I didn’t have adventures anymore.  Perhaps I should set a goal of an adventure per quarter of the coming year.  Try to make myself find time for adventures.  The topic of the BVI trip came up.  And as often happens when mixing goals and drinks, nothing becomes impossible!  I asked Phillip to check with Tyler to see if the invite still stood.  I could never plan and execute something as extensive as a trip like that by myself.  But I wouldn’t have to.  A fantastic planner is working out all the details--spent five years working out the details.  All I’d have t[...]

New Year Crisis Time


The time between December 26 and about the first or second week of the new year is so weird.  First, there is the Christmas letdown.   Then the new year.  The cleaning out of the cubbies, cabinets and closets and rearranging of the toys and organizing my physical space.  When the physical space gets organized, I feel like I should be figuring out how to make my life, health, attitude, etc. better. Usually at this time of year I buy a book about spiritual issues, de-junking, being more organized, or eating better.  I read it and fantasize how I am going to be a better me in the coming year.  I work on it for a while, then the old me sneaks back in my life, and screws up all my great planning.  I feel like I am stuck in an attitude and motivational rut and I don't know how to get out.  I am eating really awful junky food.  I am craving it, eating a lot of it, and feeling bad afterward.  I weigh more now than I have ever weighed, except for the tail end of pregnancies.  I am feeling so out of energy, so out of motivation, so tired and so... blech.  The annual "Be a Better Me" book purchase of this year is about eating better.  E-book this time!  Why clutter up my limited shelving?  One of my de-clutter books of New Year's past had a whole chapter dealing with paper / book clutter. This is when my semi-annual home school personal crisis happens too.  It happens every August and every January.  These are the times of year when my confidence in my own educational philosophy fails.  We are unschooling-led.  Most people don't get it, or misunderstand it.  I have very specific reasons and stand behind my philosophy in every way, except for a week in August and a week or so in January, when, for some reason, I let everyone else influence my thinking.  Everyone else is jabbering about curricula, worksheets, co-ops, or whatever.  I sit here and I think, "My kids are insert ages  and they don't know  insert whatever book learnin' I wonder if they are missing out on , and they are going to be failures, or in therapy, or forever living in my camper.  Because I am not doing insert cool new and different curricula.  Or we don't do copy work.  Or I don't make them conjugate sentences.  Or write book reports.  Or I let them play too many video games.  Or they are reading poetry books instead of text books.  Or I let them choose what they'd like to learn.  Or my son's handwriting is awful and it's all my fault.  Oh, shit, next year is high school!  What am I doing????"  And the internal dialog goes on.  I forget at these times that Archie has a job and makes and budgets his own money.  He knows more about science-y topics than I ever will.  All without any science textbooks.  He taught himself how to play the saxophone and he knows how to build his own computer from scratch and to make repairs.  I have to remind myself that Lawrence's reading level is waaaaay above his age peers.  All without 'reading' curricula.  And Lydia loves writing (without handwriting textbooks) and is finally turning the corner on her reading and she has an aptitude for art.  All these great accomplishments that indicate my kids will probably be fine in spite of my insecurities go straight out of my head during August and January.I really do want to eat better and feel better.  I am really interested in not letting my life get too busy for my creative outlets, my friends, and my family.  I am really interested in being a better wife and mother.  I really want to make time to enjoy nature and other activities which make me feel closer to God.  I really want my small space on the planet to be tidy and well-organized.  I want all of this for 2016.So, come on, regular non-holiday life.  Hurry back, confidence.  I don't know how much more self-doubt I can take.  [...]

Unpublished Writings--Friends and Meltdowns


I found this piece I wrote last winter or early spring.  --------Since late December and January, we have a few families with young kids here at the campground.  It has been great for my little ones, as they now have friends to play with during the day.  They are longer term stayers, as they are traveling with their husbands, going where the work is.  One family is staying through June and one is deciding whether to move on in April when her husband’s work goes to Gulfport, or stay on longer here and have him commute.  I can understand why it would be a tough decision to leave, because there are very few campgrounds as nice and family-oriented as this one.  Both of the moms have told me how hard it is to find a campground where they can just let their kids go outside and play, where they will be safe.  There is no place like Presley’s! Having these families around has been mostly good for me, as it cuts down on the sibling fighting since the little ones are busy with their friends during downtime at home.  Both the moms are super nice and I enjoy chatting with them.  Last winter, we only had one family with kids here.  The two boys were Archie’s age.  They moved on last spring, and we still miss them very much.  Archie seems to have a difficult time bouncing back from goodbyes.  Unfortunately, goodbyes are an inevitable part of life.  I hope he is able to integrate in with some of the older summer kids when they arrive this year.  Here are Archie's buds, Matthew and Hunter at an Easter function we had at our church.  The three amigos!The families here are mostly great because they respect a quiet, family-only morning.  In general, we start slowly and do our inside things like coloring, documentaries, reading, playing games, etc. My neighbor Crys told me that *my* kids seem to be the catalysts for all outside play.  It is all quiet and still in the campground until the Dutton kids emerge.  It doesn’t take long before all the other kids come outside as well.  She told me that days when I work and we aren’t here, she doesn’t see anyone playing outside!   With new kids, we have had a couple of hiccups with regard to boundaries.  I enjoy an excellent relationship with my neighbor, Susan.  She seems to enjoy my family and I really value her friendship and presence in my life.  Shortly after the new families arrived, the kids started pushing boundaries with her and I have had to correct that.  No climbing on Miss Susan’s golf cart.  No going on her screened-in porch when she isn’t home, or you aren’t invited.  Stuff my little ones already know, but seem to have forgotten now that they have a gang of kids to run with.  I think we have conquered this particular hiccup, but my little ones still ‘forget’ family rules on occasion when they are running with other kids.  Mostly, they ‘forget’ to come and tell me they are going to the beach to play in the sand.  I don’t mind, but if they are going to be near the water, I want to know about it so I can pay a little extra attention and know where to check on them. Setting my own boundaries with the other children has been a challenge for me as well.  I don’t mind passing out snacks or drinks, or making a couple of sandwiches for other children every now and then.  However, it was beginning to get out of my comfort zone.  I knew it was bad when Archie began to refer to our house as The Dutton Café.  The Dutton Café?  Really?  It started out as one asking for a snack.  Which was totally fine.  Then the older one saw that the younger one had a snack and asked for one too.  The next day, the little one asked for a sandwich.  Then the older one, upon finding out that the younger had a sandwich, needed one too.  But she needed grilled cheese.  Ummm…alright.  The older one seemed to hav[...]

Unpublished Drafts Part 3--What I did Last Summer Part 3


Apparently I was too forgetful and disorganized to finish the third part of something I wrote back in 2010, circa itty bitty baby Lydia!


Mid-Summertime 2010

When we drove back to Cincinnati in June, we took my niece Analise with us.  She had requested a year previous to spend some time with us in Cincy.  I figured since we would be back down in Alabama two weeks later, this would be a golden opportunity for her. 

We didn't get to do as much as I had hoped with her--having two little ones that must tag along everywhere cramps one's style somewhat.  But I did the best I could.  I hope she had a good time anyway.  I really enjoyed having her here.  She was very helpful with the little kids; always willing to hold one while I dealt with the other one.   Things got a bit hairy between her and Archie the second week, but that is to be expected living in such tight quarters.  We had her in the room with Archie and Lawrence. 

We stopped at a gas station that had this gorilla out front, so we used it as a photo opportunity.  Lawrence was very frightened of the gorilla and wouldn't turn his back on it to get in any pictures.  Archie looks very afraid here, doesn't he???

Prevously Unpublished Drafts Part 2--Camaro Cruise


Another unpublished draft post I found.  August-ish of 2011, maybe?  Looks like from We went on a driving cruise with the Camaro Club near Cincinnati.  The first stop was some bar where we would take a really cool picture of a whole bunch of Camaros all together.  All the Camaros in this picture are all facing the same way.  Except Phillip's.  We are the oddballs again!  Go figure. I think this was taken while we were all waiting for the Anderson Ferry to cross the Ohio River.A ferry chock full of Camaros!Awww!  Baby Lydia!This was at a restaurant we went to toward the end of the cruise.Sunset over the Ohio River.This is the beginning of many ridiculous facial expressions Archie now does during just about every picture.[...]

Drafts I found Part 1


While trying to straighten out my blog and tidy everything to begin again and move some things to yearbook form, I noticed I had several 'draft' posts that never published for whatever reason.  This one had just a bunch of pictures uploaded, but no text.  My guess is that this was winter of 2013, our last winter in Cincinnati.  Lawrence LOVED sledding!  


One or more of the kids sledded down the hills in our backyard and ended up under the fallen tree and in the creek bed!

Apparently I was working on my crocheted TARDIS at this time.  It is a finished wall hanging now.

Enjoying Paradise


While out on the water, my thinking is clear and I have all these great ideas occur to me, most of which I forget by bedtime, or even when I pull up on the shoreline.  Here is something that came to me in the silence of ‘up the creek’ that stuck around in my head:My neighbor, my very first friend here at Presley’s; someone who I became closest to outside of my own family, moved recently to a house on Dauphin Island.  (I am still recovering from the feeling of devastation.)   She always has lots of super nice outdoorsy gear.  It made me a little sad for her that she lived here at Presleys and only occasionally took part in the activities that make this place heaven on earth.  She has a few really cool bikes, but she only occasionally went bike riding.  She has really nice kayaks, but only kayaked occasionally.  She was the person who turned me on to paddle boarding, but my paddle board that I got two months ago has seen more water than hers ever has in the year that she had it.   She is always very busy and goes lots of places and does lots of things, but it seemed to me she didn’t take time to enjoy the perks of living here in Paradise.  I hope she takes the time to enjoy the perks of living on Dauphin Island. I know I miss her very much here.My thought that occurred to me when I was out on the water was that I have been too busy and have not been enjoying the perks of living here in Paradise.  Last Tuesday, while hurrying back from Archie’s music lesson in Biloxi to catch the very end of Lawrence’s baseball game, I got a speeding ticket.  The really irritating part was that I got the ticket juuust as I was about to turn into the ballpark driveway.  The State Trooper held me up for an eternity.  And I only caught a half inning before the game ended.   And now, I have something else on my plate—to juggle my time to go downtown and pay my ticket.  Settling my business with kids or without kids.  That is the question. I have been hurrying around too much.  I cannot be everywhere and I have been over-scheduled.  I have taken zero naps in my hammock on these perfect 70 degree temps lately.  I have not been ‘on patrol’ in my golf cart, telling stories with my neighbors for ages.  Some of the activities we have going on are dragging me down.  I yell at the kids to ‘hurry up and get ready’ so we won’t be late, and then I speed to get there.  Really, if it is like pulling teeth for them to get ready to go, then maybe we shouldn’t be doing said activity.  So I dropped out of one activity (which made me feel instant relief).  One activity ended, and one will be ending after the beginning of December.  I typically get out on the water (weather permitting) every “at home” day.  I know that living in Paradise is a fragile thing.  Anything can happen and circumstances could change without any notice or planning.  I love living here and have absolutely no plans to return to sticks n bricks.  But the fact is that this isn’t my land.  I am borrowing it.  So in the event we have to leave Paradise, I want to know that I took the time to fully enjoy being here; that I have no regrets.  I want to get the most out of my time, and continue to enjoy my community.  I want to remember that when I had a lake, river and creek as my yard, I always took the time to sit in my kayak or paddle on my board, even if it was only for thirty minutes at a time.  I am never as happy driving away from Paradise as I am driving toward it.  When I make the curve in the road and see the lake and the campers and the trees, I feel relieved to be home again.  Yes, my indoor space is small, and we get in each other’s way at times.  We can’t have as many ‘things’ as oth[...]

Finding My Positivity


My vacation life has been getting too busy lately.  Somehow, during our camping vacation life, I have managed to get myself scheduled almost every day.  Lately, my attitude is to just 'get through' things.  If I can just 'get through' Christmas, then it will be better.  If I can just 'get through' church tax time, then it will be better.  Now, I find myself trying to 'get through' Easter.  I am not enjoying any of those events when I have to 'get through' them.  I have found something to 'get through' every week for the past few months.  More things just keep piling up for me to get through than I can get checked off the list.

Others' expectation of me (as well as the expectation I have of myself) is too high.  I have discovered more this past month that I am terrible at than I ever thought possible.  I am tired and my attitude stinks.  I don't have inspiration to write, and no time for it either.  No time for any of my creative outlets.  I haven't been taking care of myself and my migraines have increased to about two per week.  Four days out of seven, I have a migraine, which can be either mild or excruciating. This is a crazy way to live!  I live at a lake, for goodness sake!  What happened to my beach-time way of life?

On an afternoon therapeutic kayak trip a couple of days ago, I decided that I have had enough.  I want my old positive attitude back.  I made an appointment to get back on track with my migraine medications...despite the fact that I really don't have time to see the doctor.  Facebook has been a huge waste of my energies.  I like keeping up with my friends near and far, but I can't take all the negativity.  I began weeding out all the negative people, people with too many political agendas, and all news outlets from my newsfeed.  I am done with reading and watching news until I am feeling better.  So I will not be well-informed, but hopefully I will be feeling happier.  And I'd like very much to post at least one small thing per day, even if it is only one small sentence or picture on my blog about our life that day.  Because my kids are getting bigger and I am entirely too busy.  I'd like to remember how stinkin' cute they are and stuff they say.

Lawrence has been reading books to Lydia at bedtime.  Lawrence and I read books together, then he gets in bed and reads to Lydia.  I don't know why Lydia won't read with me.  Here, they read themselves to sleep.  And Molly Golly the Dolly too.



How Low Points Can Become High Points


As I tell everyone who asks, living in a popup was either really great or really terrible.  There was no middle ground for me.  I worked hard on having a good attitude during the really terrible parts--the days upon days of rain, having to make decisions before the storms whether to put the house down or keep it up, and then enduring said storms (such as hail) at night because they were never during the day, it seemed.  The having stuff all over the place but nowhere to put anything, etc.  Only twice during our year-long popup living did I have a breaking point where I just didn't see how I could go on.  The good really did outweigh the bad, because I would have never been able to choose this life if we only had bad times.  And of course, with time comes perspective and the ability to see the positive through the negative.  A very sweet couple from West Virginia happened upon me during a melting down point I had last year.  We were still in the popup and it was about this time of year when we had just finished battling cold weather (and the freak ice storm that occurred) and I was trying to re-organize our living space.  One of the passers-through was offering to wash all the campers in the campground (for a fee, of course).  Our camper was disgustingly dirty from living under a pecan tree for several months and it was still too cold for me to wash it.  Keeping it clean was keeping me sane, so I hired him to brighten up the dwelling a bit.  This meant that I had to move all of our belongings that we kept outside away from the camper or stow them inside the camper.  This took quite a while, as belongings seem to accumulate and multiply every time I turn my head.  So my stuff was everywhere.  And I waited.  And waited.  And reflected upon the fact that I had paid this jerkface $100 in advance to do something he was not going to show up to do.As I opened the fridge to get a snack while I was coming to this awful conclusion, I noticed that the yogurt seemed unusually warm.  As did the cheese, the milk, and everything else I had bought the previous day when I went grocery shopping.  The refrigerator was broken!!!  Again!!!  The very same refrigerator we bought only a few months earlier because of our previous refrigerator breaking. The very same refrigerator we didn't have any documentation of purchasing because where in the hell am I going to put documentation in all this mess?  And I had just gone grocery shopping the previous day, so there was another $100 down the tubes in bad food.  And a new dorm type refrigerator was going to cost about $150.  Not only was the cost troubling me--it was only mid-morning and already I was down about $350!  Imagine what the rest of the day was going to cost!  It was the trouble of it all.  The pain-in-the-ass-ness of it all.I sat in Lawrence's car seat which was on the porch of the next camping space beside my car, and just cried.  I can say with certainty that this was the absolute lowest point I have experienced in this adventure.  It all was very solvable in hindsight, but I felt beaten down, after so many hard experiences in such short a period of time.  I had no energy left and lost all hope that morning, as I sat there, squeezed into Lawrence's car seat. So Rick and his wife from West Virginia, staying a few spots down from us happened to catch me there, feeling very sorry for myself.  I saw him coming, so I quickly got up and went inside my very disheveled popup (because I was preparing for a camper washing that I was now sure wasn't going to happen) to hide.  Then came a knock at the door.  You can't hide and pretend you are *not* inside a popup because, well, of the canvas walls and everything[...]

Happy 13th! A Brand New Teenager!


I am taking a pause from my past ponderings to commemorate the beginning of a new chapter in our family:  the brand new teenager!  Here is his very first picture as a teen:I was reading an article that week about how parents might find the teen years frustrating in part because they are having trouble letting go of the wide-eyed child filled with wonder stage.  I have noticed for a while now that I enjoy talking to my son about more adult-y topics and our conversations show me how deeply he thinks and feels things.  His sense of humour is great, and his compassion for others gives me hope for the future.  I am enjoying getting to know him in a whole new way. We bump heads on occasion about attitudes and pushing limits, but all in all, I am confident in the outstanding, independent person he is and will become.  I want to focus on appreciating his current stage of life, instead of mourning a past one and consequently being resentful because he isn't a docile five year old anymore.  I'm not saying teen years can be all sunshine and rainbows, but I also think perspective can dictate whether they are all storms and hurricanes.  But what do I know?  I have been the parent of this teen for all of 8 days now!  I wasn't sure how to 'do' Archie's birthday this year.  My little ones are happy with the family bellowing out the Happy Birthday song, eating some cake, and opening some presents.  The older the kids get, the more difficult birthdays are to navigate for me.  Friends:  Do their families like us enough to break up their weekend to bring their kid out to wherever the party place is and hang out for a couple of hours?  I am always worried the answer might be "no" and no one will show up.  Thus far, that hasn't happened, but you never know.  Especially since we seem to be at a transition stage in life. Yes, I suppose people like us, but do they 'like us' like us?  So I feel wary of inviting people.When my folks mentioned wanting to camp with us this fall at Dauphin Island, I jumped on the chance to turn it into a crazy camping birthday weekend and scheduled it for the weekend after Archie's birthday.  *That's* what we'll do for Archie's birthday!  Camping!  Because we just don't do enough of that, right?  :-)Lydia has this odd 'rule' that one does not turn the next number year until the birthday person has had their cake.  I don't know why or how she came up with this, but Lawrence was six for four days before his birthday party took place.  So she kept insisting to him (and anyone else who would listen) that he was still five because he didn't have his cake yet.  She did the same thing to me when I turned forty.  So you can bet that she kept telling Archie that he was still twelve because he didn't have his cake. My mom, anticipating this, had them make birthday cupcakes that morning while I was at work.  Lydia *still* gave him a hard time because the rest of the family didn't have the cake yet.  Archie took this in better stride than Lawrence did!  Since we were camping on Thursday night and wouldn't be at church on Sunday, I couldn't get out of work on Wednesday.  I left early to take Archie to lunch for his birthday.  Here he is butchering his sushi with chopsticks.  I guess he needs to do sushi more often to develop better chopstick skills!While I would have preferred to spend the rest of our afternoon together doing fun stuff, my responsibilities called and we had to run stupid errands.  I had to cook the church dinner and buy the food for camping and the shrimp boil, as well as a few other errands.  So I drug him along for all that.  I promised a trip to the bookstore for next Wednesday since the little on[...]

Settled Houses


I felt like I looked at a thousand houses.  I drove by and walked around many.  But I only went inside one.  The problem was that I couldn't decide what in the world I wanted for a house. I knew if I bought a house, I didn't want to move again.  This would be the house in which my grandchildren would visit me.  I looked online and drove by lots of them.  Too big, too small, too scary, about to fall.  Phillip and I were in disagreement on what it was we wanted.  Foreclosures vs. newer vs. older vs. land only.  And if land, then partially cleared, all the way cleared, fully wooded, pastures, etc. Since I had squeezed into a 1300 square foot house with as many as six people, I was looking for something larger (but not too large), with a craft room for me to pursue my own interests.   I wanted a developed yard that was low-ish maintenance and I didn't want to have to wait thirty years for shade trees to grow.  I wanted them already there.   I don't know what Phillip was looking for, really.  I thought it was land or something with acreage and a good shop or place for his car hobby, but he never seemed interested in what I found that had those things.Finding a Realtor was another obstacle.  We were directed by Phillip's company to one (who also, coincidentally had a kid on Lawrence's tee-ball team) but she was not interested in helping us at all.  We had this experience with more than one Realtor.  It made me realize that Realtors aren't really interested in seeing others get exactly what they want and having no regrets, but they are mostly interested in how things benefit them.  In other words, the Realtors we dealt with tried to make us believe they were interested in helping us, when they were only interested in helping themselves.   They did not have our interests in mind at all.  Realtors seemed to only want to sell cookie-cutter neighborhood houses with no yard that cost a few hundred thousand dollars. One we made it known that we were not looking for those at all, they stopped returning calls, or in the case of the Realtor tee-ball mom, just avoided us altogether.    I saw a house online while we were still in Cincinnati that interested me.  It was in Bayou Cumbest in Mississippi and had a yard that backed up to a canal.  It was about 10 minutes from Phillip's work.  I had been drooling over it for months.  Well, the price finally went down, and I was thrilled!  I just knew it was a sign from God.  I made an appointment with another Realtor.  We went to see it on a Friday evening after Phillip got off work. The owner had renters in it.  Nasty, stinky renters who would not leave for the showing.  The house was a mess and it had a peculiar smell.  It was in way worse shape than the pictures indicated.  I gathered that the renters didn't want to leave, so they mucked up the showings.  Phillip had a headache and wasn't feeling well, and the whole showing was a bust.  I really thought this one was it.  I had such high hopes.  And they were gone.  This, this was the message, the sign.  I felt like a balloon that had been deflated.  It was a moment of realization over dinner at Presley's after we had the showing.  I felt worn out and exhausted by the whole process and I was done with it.  The message from God was crystal clear to me and I was disappointed.  We were to stay put and wait.  Now was not the time.  It took quite a bit of resolve for me to move forward and have peace about this.  Little was I to know that not only would I have peace eventually, but I would love and embrace this camping life and a more simple lifestyle. &[...]

Life at Presley's Outing


When the weather was good, living at Presleys was great!  I remember Phillip came home from work one day and walked down to the back beach to find us.  I was laid out on a float in the water half awake.  "So what did you do all day?" he asked me.

My reply was something like this:  "I'm not gonna lie, this was how my day went.  We woke up, ate breakfast and then went swimming.  Then we went back to the camper for lunch, and went back swimming again.  I think I fell asleep for a while on this float, and the kids moved me around on the float in the water while I was dozing.  Then here you are.  So swimming, napping, and floating.  That's what I did." 

I was so brown that summer!  I had not been as tan as I was during that summer since I was a little girl and we'd spend our summers out at the Escatawpa River.  Lawrence developed these cute little freckles on his nose and under his eyes.  I called them cupcake sprinkles.  Lydia and Archie were brown bears too.  What a great life!  It was great waking up most days not having any responsibility except to make food decisions and to decide which swimsuit and sarong should I wear that day.  It was a much-needed resting period for the most part.  

During the first week we were at Presley's, Phillip told me that he told Lynn Presley that he expected we might be here for four months.  It was July, and the weather was warm.  This was a great place and I was happy to be where I was.  The four months came as a bit of a surprise, but I didn't mind too much.  Surely, we'd be in a settled house before too long.  During one of our moments of cross-purposes, I told Phillip that it was fine now, but I was not making any promises about staying when it got cold.  My rent was paid through August 23, and then I'd pay through September 23, if it still pleased me.  I could make no promises, but would take it a month at a time.  

Here is how I spent a good portion of my sunny days at Presley's.  The alternative was to be inside with three kids.  So the choice was obvious!

What To Do Next???


We brought our camper to my parents' home and de-frogged, de-junebugged, and de-ant'd it.  It was a little disconcerting after all was said, done and cleaned out that I still found crispy, crunchy dried out frogs in weird places.  It was nice to sleep in a clean, sand-free bed for a change and to be in a climate-controlled environment.Presley's Outing was recommended by several of Phillip's co-workers, but I wanted to check it out before I made a commitment for a month.  We went on a Sunday after church.  We drove to the gate and there was Mr. Presley, all ancient and tobacco juice spilling out of him.  I think the kids were kind of scared.  We had heard stories about Mr. Presley being a no-nonsense kind of guy.  Phillip got out of the car to chat with him.  The first thing I heard was a lecture about not allowing alcohol, that this is a nice place, and how they don't put up with any 'funny stuff' around there.  He was going on so much, that I thought that perhaps seeing me and the kids might make Phillip look a little less like a trouble maker, so we all got out of the car. Sometimes you need respectable companions in order to pass muster! Mr. Presley's whole countenance changed.  "So you're a family man, eh?"  He told Phillip about how he wouldn't have to worry about us being safe while Phillip was at work, that they keep a good watch over everything around here, and they don't put up with any junk.  Then he proceeded to show us his sheriff's badge.  I asked if I could look around to check the place out.  The first place we stopped was the bathrooms.  Sparkling clean!  And air conditioned!  And the lake was gorgeous, the place was spotless.  It had an excellent, peaceful vibe.  Despite the tough interview process, I was sold!  On July 23, Phillip called me around 1:00 and told me we were in!  We could get our camper and arrive at 5:30 that evening and he'd meet me at Presley's after work. So I had about three hours to prepare for a month or two of camping.   Not many people can make that happen.  I couldn't either, because Phillip was most irritated that I arrived at 6:00.  I had to plan food for the next few days, get the food, pack the clothes and beach items for four of us, and hitch up the camper.  I could tell right away that this was a different sort of place.  Lynn Presley met us at the gate and helped us set up our camper, leveled it, and made sure our power and water worked.  He was so considerate and welcoming!  He even checked back in on us after a couple of hours to make sure we were doing all right!  Despite having a full campground, it was so peaceful and quiet.  We didn't have an official spot because he had to make room for us with the campground being full. So we were in front of the row of camping spots.  It was a great spot in that our front yard was looking over the back beach and it looked so 'southern' to me with the Spanish Moss hanging down from the Live Oaks.  The picture below was the very first picture I took that evening, just after we finished setting up the camper.  The kids were excited, and it was a gorgeous evening!  That first night I slept so well.  It felt kind of like being 'home' again after a two week vacation.  Snuggling into bed, feeling all cozy and familiar.  Everything felt...well...right with the world.  [...]

Drawing to a Close


Our time on Dauphin Island drew to a close on July 6, after our stay of one month.  It was a time of adjustment and togetherness, and a time of fond memories.  One experience of note was the continuous plague of frogs.  Slimy green tree frogs.  They are usually pretty small, but sing quite loudly.  We had to do frog checks before bed, after a few times of snuggling down under the covers only to find a frog nestled under the edge of the pillow.  They were on our beds, on the couch, in the nooks and crannies of the popup, and occasionally I'd find them all dried out and crunchy in the storage places under the couches, or in the corners when we'd sweep up at night.  In retrobution for not giving him the Netflix password one night, Archie short-sheeted my bed.  I thought it was weird that the kids and Phillip kept waiting on me to go to bed.  That particular night I laid on top of the covers to read for what must have seemed like an eternity to them.  When I finally opened the covers to go sleep, I figured out what was going on.  You can't short-sheet beds effectively when the person who you are trying to 'get even with' is doing frog checks before getting under the covers!  So I outed Archie's failed attempt publicly by saying "Hardy, har, har!  Better luck next time" on Facebook.  The June Bugs were pretty active during that summer, and keeping those guys out of the popup and ducking them while just sitting out was sometimes a challenge.  Everyone slept with sand in their bed constantly, even after just washing sheets.  Adjusting to a new way of life was full of its challenges and full of excitement.  Our family still speaks fondly of our time there and we thought we'd go back in the fall when the rates were a bit cheaper.  I was ready to sleep inside for a week or so before embarking on our next adventure and destination.  So we stayed with parents and visited Cincinnati for some house business.   Phillip had been back a couple of times by now, but this was my first trip back since we held hands and said our prayer together on that first weekend in June.  I cried all the first night when we got there.  Our house was so cute and all the things that I had wanted to do for years was done.  For someone else.  I felt so resentful and angry about that.  We worked ourselves to exhaustion to get our house all cute and in good repair for someone else to enjoy instead of me.  This is not a realization that will be forgotten anytimesoon.  Lessons in stewardship are difficult, as it is only too easy to put off what needs to be taken care of until it is an emergency situation.The Cincinnati trip was good in the sense that we went without kids and could be alone together.  It was unpleasant in the sense that we had house work to do.  Phillip did basement work.  I refinished floors and cleaned.  I don't know how it got so dirty just sitting there with no one living in it.  We hadn't any showings then either.   The thing that I resented the most was the cleaning.  It took ALL DAY LONG to clean the house, and I wouldn't even get to enjoy the result.  My camper only took 15 minutes to clean.  And in the camper, the biggest cleaning issue wasn't the dirt, it was keeping our things organized and tidy.  I was just beginning to realize that perhaps having less stuff and less space might be a positive thing after all.  I still wasn't quite recovered from the 7 years worth of home repairs that we did in one month prior to us moving.  But having beers outside along the Ohio River was quite nice and sort of [...]

Fourth of July at Dauphin Island


We decided to stay at the campground through the July 4 holiday, and leave Dauphin Island on Saturday, July 6. There was not a camping spot left open.  It was packed out there!  Even though this was the day of the crazy kayak and almost Coast Guard rescue, it was still a good day.  After dark, we walked down to the beach to catch the fireworks show.  I'm guessing it was in Mobile.  It was very distant.  We could see several distant shows, in fact.  Archie found a crab trap tossing about in the waves (with crabs in it) so he drug it up on the beach. The wind was absolutely whipping out there and the waves were huge.  I am thinking that it would NOT have been a good time to kayak!  I had glow sticks on the kids so I could keep up with them on the beach in the dark. I wasn't sure how the Fourth of July would go with regard to the crowds, but it was great!  Most people were apparently attending the public fireworks displays, so it was nice and not crowded.  We had a cozy blanket spot on a not-crowded beach and could walk to our 'home' after the fireworks were over.  The fireworks were distant, but the atmosphere was festive and beachy. Here is Archie with his crab trap.  He looks quite pleased with himself!  Fortunately, someone else grabbed all the crabs out by the time we got back to the trail to the campground.  After the long and adventure-filled day, I just didn't have it in me to clean crabs that night.  And darnitall, we just don't have room for a crab trap.  I hope I am adequately conveying my attitude of broken-heartedness at not being able to take a crab trap home to keep in my popup camper. Here is Lydia displaying her glow necklace.  They later became frisbees.Phillip had gotten a little sun despite being overcast and somewhat dreary-looking while on his kayaking adventure.Yep, that is me.  It was really windy.  I really stink at photography that is more challenging than point and shoot.  The moon was gorgeous and I tried to get a nice picture of it.  Of course, it doesn't capture its fabulous-ness.And this was a spooky old tree sticking up.  I liked the way it looked against the almost-darkened sky.  And the picture doesn't adequately capture its essence.Here are my boys watching the fireworks.[...]

Decisions, Decisions: Is 6 PM Is The Time to Call The Coast Guard?


Regular E and Tia Sara were nice enough to leave their kayaks out at Dauphin Island for our use.   Archie and Phillip decided that they would take a quick paddle on toward the Dauphin Island Bridge.  They left around noon or one o'clock.  The little ones and I walked them across the road Frogger style and launched them off.  The sky was overcast, but the water was peaceful and smooth as glass as they were beginning their kayaking through the canal. Phillip did a great job of taking pictures, until the going got tough.The little ones and I had a lovely few hours, and by three o'clock, I was kind of ready for them to get back.  Three o'clock came and went.   So did four.  The weather seemed like it was beginning to turn.  It was getting more windy, but not particularly stormy.  At five, I was almost in panic mode.  I made a decision that at 6:00, I would ask the campground folks how to get in touch with the Coast Guard.  At quarter til 6, I was absolutely freaking out.  At five minutes to 6, here comes my boys, wet and exhausted.  Apparently they had been going down current for a way, and by the time they thought they would need to turn around, they couldn't get back.  They paddled and paddled and the land marks just weren't moving past them.  Finally, some people with a motorized vessel asked if they'd like some help, which thankfully, they took them up on their offer.  The boat towed them back up to the boat ramp.  I didn't know whether to yell at them or hug them.Here is Archie's account of the event as remembered by him:*****************************“The Trip”One year ago, when we lived at Dauphin Island, Daddy and I decided that we should go on a kayak trip in the bay. The first problem was getting the heavy kayaks across the extremely busy street! We decided that (for some reason) we should take these HEAVY kayaks across the street at the same time. So we put the heaviest kayak on the kayak dolly, and I carried the other one with Mama. It was very scary walking across a four lane road with two kayaks!When we finally made it across the street, I started to put in the kayaks. Daddy and I said good bye to Mama and Lydia and we set off!While we were paddling, we passed lots of neat water side coffee shops and restaurants. But, whilst we were paddling slowly along and having a good time, storm clouds were brewing in the sky! We eventually made it to the water neighborhood several miles away. It was starting to get a little late out, so Daddy decided that it was about time to go back. We paddled for about five minutes. It was at that time that Daddy looked over at a landmark that he found and realized that we weren’t moving! I looked at the water, and there were white caps all around us! I looked up at the sky, and there were the darkest clouds you have ever seen up there! The wind started pushing us back to where we started. That’s when I realized how hungry I was. My legs felt like jelly and my arms were weak! We paddled over to the small nature reserve island. We got out of the Kayaks and just walked in the shallow water for a bit. Suddenly, it got deep and Daddy told me to get in the kayak so I wouldn’t cut my foot. We eventually made it to the area near where we put in.Along the way, a boat came up next to us and asked us if we wanted a ride. They said they could just tie the kayaks to their boat and we could ride behind the boat. We finally made it to the area called Billy Goat Cove (Where we put in) and he dropped us off.  We walked back to the camper and Mama told us that if we weren’t back in another five mi[...]

Sometimes A Little Rain Must Fall


The summer of 2013 was a bizarre weather summer.  I know it rains every day along the Gulf Coast.  I grew up here.  Usually for 20 minutes or so in the afternoons and then it is back to hot, humid and sunny.  But the Summer of 2013, it RAINED.  We really picked quite a time to camp in a popup.  Figuring out what to do when it rains was a huge struggle for me.  Like when it rains for days at a time.  I think this is one of those convenient times of forgetfulness for Phillip.  Wait...this was not one of his battles.  He worked inside most of the days and didn't have to deal with three energetic children with mud and sand everywhere during these times. Sometimes we'd go spend a few days back in Mobile at one of the grandparents' houses.  Sometimes we'd go check out a museum.  We cozied in and read books aloud.  We watched DVDs on the computer.  But sometimes the rain was so heavy and intense, we couldn't hear the movie being played or the books being read aloud.  We all hoped we didn't have to go to the bathroom during one of these downpours. Because the walk was long to and from the popup in the rain!  The lightning was super scary in a popup.  If it wasn't a severe storm or hard rain, we'd play outside anyway.  The rain we got during that summer was unlike any I have ever experienced living in the Mobile area.  Or maybe I just noticed it more because the weather had such a huge impact on how my day was to go because we were essentially living an outdoors sort of life.  This is a picture of just underneath my camper during one of the downpours at Dauphin Island.  The water was ankle deep under the awning and the outside rug was floating off the ground.    Our little popup, despite the massive amounts of rain we experienced, never did leak.  However, it was sometimes difficult to count my blessings while I was on the pity pot regarding being cooped up in my camper with three children.  After a month or so, the all-day rains had a devastating affect on my spirit.  I really struggled on those days.  There were just so many, it seemed.  The rain was one thing, but then all the bits of mud and grass that came afterward felt stressful and depressing.  It was difficult enough to keep such a small place tidy with so many people in it.  The floor feeling clean under my feet still is something that is important to me, for whatever reason.  The rain made that part it so much worse.  I tried desperately to keep a positive attitude during those times.  Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn't.  During one such rainy day, in an attempt to lift my spirits and wait out the rain, we visited the Estuarium.  You can't visit the Estuarium without doing dive hat pictures.  Everyone had a turn!Live Action SCUBA.  This little SCUBA diver needed a kiss from her Mama!Look out everyone!  He does NOT have his license!Here I sit now, a summer past the one I am writing about, and the weather has been just peachy.  A normal amount of rain, normal amount of frogs, buggy, but not overly buggy, humid, but in the regular Alabama / Mississippi sense, and mostly stable conditions.  Maybe I felt everything more intensely during that time.  Maybe I took the weather too personally, like God was trying to teach me something or show me something and I just couldn't get it. ('Cause it's all about me, right?)  :-) Maybe we just picked a crappy weather summer to live in a popup.  Who knows?  I am glad for the experien[...]

Death and Life


I am really struggling with the words for the experience of the death of Phillip's Dad, which is what happened at the end of June of 2013.  I don't know that I can write about it now, but here is where it would be chronologically. Watching Pat experience the move from this world to the next is...well...apparently not something I am able to write about yet. I am able to say that this was a point of many realizations for me.  I saw again what a strong and admirable man I had chosen as my life's partner.  This move, and this experience with Phillip's family was a point of transition.  I saw something moving within his spirit I hadn't noticed before.  And I saw leadership in him which was very reassuring and healing for me.  With regard to Phillip's parents, they are an inspiration and a great example of love "in sickness as well as in health". I will add more in my book for the sake of the kids.  Phillip wrote an outstanding and moving eulogy which I will include in the yearbook.  I just am not able to put it all out there in a public fashion.  And I am just not ready to write about it yet.Archie and Pawpaw. Here is a picture of Lydia helping to care for Pat by putting lotion on him. During this time, four days before Pat's death, we celebrated Linda's birthday.  What a time to have a birthday.  The grandkids made a huge fuss over her and threw her a party.  She loved it and Pat would have been very pleased.  He loved having his whole family together celebrating.The display of pictures of Pat below were put together to be used at the funeral. Happy Birthday, Mimee!Lawrence and his cousin, Emilee.Beautiful ladies!  Lydia, Mimee, Granny and Annalise.[...]

Roses and Sunshine? Sometimes Not.


On occasion, I have made blog posts of the difficulties that arise regarding the complexities of family life.  (My last Mother's Day post in 2012 comes to mind.)  I am able to write through my aggravation.  I find it therapeutic to do this on the blog, because when the kids look back through the yearbooks (if they do) they will hopefully see that it is okay and normal to feel disappointed in your family at times.  You can't have sunshine and roses every day.  If you remember your childhood as all roses and sunshine, then it can be difficult to measure up to that when real life smacks you in the face.   On the flip side, I would hate for the legacy I leave my children to be one of kvetching and bitterness.  I feel mostly balanced and I hope that translates and my kids are able to see balance.I don't usually write about anything until I have gained a little perspective...meaning I have slept on it and am beginning to feel better anyway.  And by then, I am beginning to be able to see the humour in the situation and am feeling much less hostile.On Facebook, the impulse to write while hostile is too tempting for lots of people.  The observer doesn't usually see a whole picture from just a couple of sentences here and there.  Then with the commenting feature and the immediacy of it all, it turns ugly quickly. I am mostly weirdly entertained by some people's Facebook arguments, I certainly didn't want to be someone else's entertainment while my feelings were still quite tender.  So I usually just refrain from using social media at all when things are feeling angry or I am sensitive about a situation.  Consequently, it probably looked to most people that we were happily bumming at the beach when in fact, there was lots going on behind the scenes.Our house in Cincinnati was about 1300 square feet of living space (not including garages).  Which is quite small in some people's point of view for five people to live in.  Going from 1300 square feet down to about 144 square feet wasn't without its drama.For example:  Phillip had said that we should eat sandwiches and stuff all the time.  Like things people can fix themselves.  Which means we shouldn't cook food.  That worked for a while.  Cereal and sandwiches.  Sandwiches and cereal.  More cereal.  More sandwiches.  I got done with sandwiches for every meal pretty quickly.  So our first huge argument was about food.  We ran out of sandwich stuff and I bought 'cooking' stuff instead.  And then the kids got hungry while *he* was in the camper, and in charge.  And he had to cook it.  Holy, moly. Drama ensued.One of the downsides of living in a small dwelling with canvas walls is that everyone can hear whatever you are doing.  Yelling at kids, yelling at spouse, you are pretty much on display for the whole campground to observe.  And since it is so small inside there, you are most likely doing whatever it is that may cause a spectacle outside.  I think our neighbours got an earful that afternoon.  Some people seem to revel in their spectacle-ness.  I do not.  I like my arguments to be nice and private.  That was a very difficult for me...feeling like I was on display at tender-hearted moments. I remember going down to the beach in a huff to take a nap (and a break from family) and I don't know what he did all afternoon.  At the end of the day, we got past it, and we didn't eat sandwiches all month long either.  I say t[...]

Sun, Sand and Water


Lawrence and Lydia didn't have much memory of a beach environment since they had only been as infants when we would visit Mobile.  So the very first walk and swim on Dauphin Island when we arrived with our camper was quite an experience!  After the camper was set up, we went for a walk to see the water with Reemie and Bumpa.  Lydia was so funny because she had a death-grip on Bumpa's hand.  She screamed in delight and giggled like crazy every time the waves touched her feet!  Lawrence was mostly worried about his feet getting dirty.  They'd get wet and then *GASP* they would get sandy which was a huge problem for him.  When we lived in Cincinnati, he never, ever walked around barefoot.  It was too cold, and we lived in the city with all the outside city trash that happens to be on the ground.  So he freaked out during the first several weeks at the beach every time his feet touched grass, dirt, sand or anything that wasn't shoes.  It took him darn near forever to build a sand castle because he kept having to stop and wash the sand off his hands!It's funny how quickly things change.  The kids are all self-taught, fish-like swimmers now, and I can hardly keep shoes on any of them!  It has occurred more than once that we arrive at a store, restaurant other such shoe-requirement place only to find that one of them forgot their shoes.  Fool me once and twice, blah, blah, blah.  So now the question is posed before cranking up the car and leaving the camper, "Does everyone, EVERYONE have shoes on their feet?"  This is when she finally ventured in close enough to let the water swirl around her feet!Of course, it didn't take long for the boys to become completely soaked on our walk!Still clingin'!Feet selfie alert!  Archie, don't look!  I was sporting flip-flop tan lines for most of the summer (well, and winter too!) and I still do!  What an adorable Sand Angel!Caution:  Engineer at work!It takes hours to build a sand castle when you have to stop every minute or so to wash off your hands!Aaak!  It's a head in the sand!I took a regular selfie to add to my flip-flop tan lines feet selfie earlier. Because otherwise, no one would ever know I was a part of the family.  I'm always behind the camera instead of in the shot.  I always have to ask for someone to take my picture, just to prove I was there! Living at the beach was great because we had visitors who liked to hang out at our beach house!  My sister-in-law is swimming with Lydia.It's so hard to get a picture of Lawrence smiling!  Every time he saw the camera go up, he would stop what he was doing and not smile.  So I told him he had to smile for me here.Beach Badminton.  We made good use of the screened shelter my parents got us for Christmas one year.  I'd get up in the morning, drag it down to the beach and set it up for the day.  We'd have a shaded shelter on the beach all day long.    [...]

Adventures in Fishing and Crabbing at the Island


Regular E let Archie use his fishing equipment and came every now and again to fish and crab with us. Dauphin Island is small and not as touristy as many beach places.  I would let Archie venture out to the beach or rocks by himself to go fishing whenever he wanted to.  He would gather up his tackle, bait, bucket and pole and head out.  The very first time he caught a fish all on his own, I knew it when he was far away from the camper.  He came with his bucket, grinning ear-to-ear and could hardly talk he was so excited!  He had caught a fish all by himself!  With no help from anyone else at all!  When he went to the cleaning station to go clean his catch, some other stupid kids were giving him a hard time about the size of his fish.  So he came back, fish still in tact, almost in tears and really mad.  I asked him how big was the fish that those boys had caught.  Of course, he said they didn't catch any fish.  So I told him to not let their jealousy get to him and they were trying to diminish what he had done by attempting to make themselves look 'cool'.  I think he would have taken it fine from just one kid, but it was a whole group of them.  They had done their work, though. It really made me mad and I could see it had somewhat diminished Archie's excitement.  He was still happy about his catch, but it just wasn't the same.  It's rotten how others can be so caught up in their own egos that they are quick to try to ruin a moment that is very thrilling or important to someone else.   It still bothers me every time I think about it.Another weird thing that happened on a different day when Archie was fishing, was that he was picked on and harassed by some old ladies on the pier.  They kept taunting him and made fun of him for using squid as bait.  Apparently shrimp is the old-lady bait of choice.  They spent a little while harassing my 11 year- old boy, then left all their fish guts, scales, drink cans, and other garbage on the pier when they moved on to other fishing spots.  Archie seemed okay about it, other than it being really an odd thing for a grown person to do.  His main complaint was that they were taking up a prime spot on the pier, then left it all crapped up with their fish guts and garbage so no one else could sit down on the dock and use that space when they left.    Most fisherfolks he came across were friendly, and wanted to share their hobby with the younger generation and were quite encouraging and helpful to him.  People would stop and chit-chat about what he was fishing for, what he had caught so far, and stuff like that.  I don't know who pee-peed in those ladies' cheerios that day, but it was really bazaar that old women would take time out of their day to taunt an 11 year old who just wanted to go fishing.  They must be really unhappy people. This is just a random picture of Archie fishing off the shore.His very first catch!!At the cleaning station.  Apologies to my vegetarian friends...This is the only guts picture I am including!He cooked his own dinner!And it was good!We also did our fair share of crabbing at the Island.  We never caught enough to eat in one crabbing event, but really, the fun part is catching them.  We let them go back in the water after we were done crabbing.  The cleaning is rather tedious anyway.  SUCCESS!!  He was thrown back at the end of the evening due to a lack of cooperat[...]

The New Beginning--A Summer Of Camping!


I have been the very worst family historian ever.  This has been one of the most interesting and pivotal times ever in our family and I have failed to record much of it, except snippets over Facebook.  I have lots of reasonsexcuses which I think are very good ones, but it is time to remedy this before I lose more of the detail.  There were parts I couldn't record via Facebook at the time things were occurring due to the personal nature and family stuff, but enough time has passed that I think it most will be okay to record in this fashion now.  I am using my Facebook posts and my hard drive pictures as a guide and will elaborate more fully when I can for this yearbook. It may not exactly be chronological...we will see how things unfold and what feels right.Phillip's new job with DuPont was to start Monday, June 3, 2013.  The weekend before, we held hands in the front yard, asked a blessing upon our new life venture and travels, got in the car with camper behind and migrated south.  It was previously discussed that we 'go camping' during the uncertain period of time when we wouldn't have our own housing.  We are not good 'apartment people', as we love being outside.  Also, our three children klomping about in an apartment just isn't a good idea with neighbors sharing walls, floors and ceilings.  This would be their home too, and I didn't want to constantly be the noise police.  Phillip's thought was, "Why not make this like a vacation?"  So we decided upon a summer of camping.  Living at the beach like dirty hippies.  Until we find housing.  Which was another whole issue.  We still owned (and still as of this writing, September 2014 own) the Cincinnati house.  We weren't able to get it on the market until July after we left.  We had much work to do on it which was all done about a month before we left, and bit-by-bit on our return trips.  Buying a house while still tethered to the mortgage in Cincinnati was not going to work.  Surely it would sell during the summer after we left the house, right? Right??We stayed with parents until our camping adventure began on Thursday, June 6.  I pulled the popup camper into the campground with the help of my parents that afternoon while Phillip was at work.  I was grateful for my parents coming with me because I was feeling a bit nervous, as well as terribly excited about this new phase in our journey.  Excited kids, excited mama!  A whole month at the beach!  Holy Cow, the reality of it actually happening was exhilarating!  I remember when Phillip came home that very first day.  I greeted him wearing beachwear--my sarong and swimsuit and the kids were playing on the playground and could hardly wait for him to get home so they could show him around our new 'camper home'.  He told me he was thinking as he was driving over the Dauphin Island bridge to camp, how great he felt about doing this, how great of an idea it was and that it would be an unforgettable time in our lives.    Definitely.  When times were good, they were really, super, extraordinarily fantastic.  When times were bad, they were excruciatingly awful.  This is only my opinion, as Phillip apparently only remembers it being really great.  To each his own, I suppose.  But he spent about ten hours of his five days per week not with us, so what does he know after all???  [...]

Week 2 Unexpected Trip to Mobile, AL


During the second week of January, we left a slightly snowy Cincinnati, to arrive in mild-temperatured Mobile.  And humid.  Lydia displayed curls in her hair that I never knew she had!  I spent the first three or so days of our visit lamenting the wintery wardrobe I packed for us. Lawrence loves to wear short pants and short sleeves, so on a whim I thankfully threw in two pairs of short pants 'just in case'.  He was the only one of us prepared for the balmy 78 degree January weather.  Dad (Mr. McFrugal) even turned on the air conditioner in the house--an event usually reserved for the end of May or beginning of June.  You know it must be extremely uncomfortable if the air is turned on before then!  We made the most of those nice days by taking walks outside in the woods and heading to Tanner Williams park as often as possible.  I brought the boys' bikes on the luggage rack so they could ride.  Lydia (who will be receiving a girly-pink bike for her birthday in a month) rode Archie's old bike that he had when he was four.  I had to bring the training wheels from the new bike down with me. We usually visit our Mobile church when we are down on a Sunday morning.  Reemie took pictures of the kiddos all dressed.Archie is goofy for Dr. Who right now.  Even though he prefers the tenth doctor (as do I), he enjoys wearing the suspenders and bow tie of the eleventh doctor.  He looks pretty spiffy.  It seems like Lawrence, much like his father before him, has an odd look on his face in just about every picture taken of him.  Sometimes it is because Lawrence likes to say "groceries" instead of "cheese" for some reason during picture poses!  Anyway, he is stinkin' cute right here, whatever he is doing!There was much Reemie and Bumpa bonding time to catch up on.  On our first day, Lydia wanted to play tea party or 'foods' as she sometimes calls it.  Mom upped the ante on tea parties by incorporating a table, chairs, table cloth, tea bags, and snacks.  No more pouring pretend tea in tea cups on the floor.  She has made tea parties a rather complicated affair from here on out.   Pajama parties were had with my kids shoveling in popcorn as fast as they possibly could.  I went upstairs for a couple of minutes on this particular evening after the popcorn was popped and found the entire bowl eaten, with only a couple of hard seeds remaining.  You can see Lydia shoving in a whole fist-full of popcorn right here! [...]

Week 1--We Love Snow and The TARDIS


We've already had a couple of great snows, compared to the tiny one snow we had all year last year.  It was fun to see it again and the kids couldn't wait to get in it.  This first picture was taken on the day after Christmas snow.  I was still feeling crummy from the Demonic Flu, so all I could muster was to shoot a picture while standing in the front doorway.   It was a nice shot of The Car in all its snowy glory, and Lawrence's first snow that he can remember.  The Car, by the way, with its fancy rear wheel drive, is absolutely useless when there is visible snow on the ground.  I had to go outside and help push/slide it back in the driveway after Phillip came home from work.  Yes, he took my all-wheel-drive mommy car to work because it would actually get him there without sliding off the road.    Around New Years, we had another round of snow.  Archie showed Lawrence the way-cool thrill of sledding and we can't get him out of the yard!  Our yard has two steep hills.  If you start from the tippy top, you can go all the way down into the woods.  Every day the first thing Lawrence wants to do when he gets up is put on his snow suit and sled.  Lydia, not so much.  She likes giving people the initial push down the hill, but not riding herself.  Not even with a buddy. Phillip and Lawrence had a nice boys afternoon out together and went to a larger hill in Mount Airy to sled.  Lawrence was so tired, he said he forgot how to walk just before they left!This is Archie and Lawrence crashing into the downed tree behind the house in the woods.  Your sledding was deemed 'awesome' if you had to duck under the tree! What a little cutie!Meanwhile, the project I am currently working on (and a little discouraged about) is my TARDIS blanket.  This is my first foray into Tapestry Crochet and having to learn everything by myself via Youtube or good ole trial and error is proving rather frustrating.  For instance, I knew of no technique to follow to carry the other colour up a row.  About half-way up the second block from the bottom, I figured out my own little technique.  So now I have some imaginative cover-up to do about the blue strands going up the black edging.   It was when I got to this point (pictured below) that I realized that determining the 'right' side and the 'wrong' side is very important.  My windows are all zig-zaggy and the lock and door handle looked like blobs of grey dust on it.  I solved the lock problem by gluing a metal lock I found in the jewelry section of Hobby Lobby over the grey blob.  The handle, I am thinking will be solved by finding a metal barrette in just the right shape to glue on it.  And yes, I already realize that the lock and handle are on the wrong side of the TARDIS.  It will have to be a Bizarro TARDIS.  You can report me to The Doctor.  You know who. [...]

This is NOT a New Year's Resolution Post


 This isn't about the New Year, really, it isn't.  It merely happens to coincide, is all.  It is in spite of the New Year.  Yeah.  That's it.My kids always seem to sort of 'adopt' a nice person of the grandparent age group as their special friend.  I have no control over this, as it just seems to happen without my encouragement or discouragement.  My kids love the elderly people around them!  Miss Dottie across the street was that friend since we moved to Cincinnati.  After she passed away, they were without that special non-related grandparent-type friend for a little while.  (With the exception of our friend in Mobile, Dr. Joe, who, according to Lydia, apparently lives in ice cream parlors, but not the one near our house.)  There was one particular lady at the 'elderly ladies' table during doughnut time at church who had her eye on Miss Lydia for a while.  Miss B (Beverly) called Lydia over one Sunday morning and ever since she has been Lydia's special non-related grandparent-type friend.  She brings Lydia bee-related presents (you know, for Miss "B") and gets hello and goodbye hugs from her every Sunday and all special events at church.  I was sharing something with Miss B about the kids one Sunday morning and she said something that I just can't get out of my head.  She has five adult kids, but she has no memories of them as little kids.  She loves them and loves the people they have become, but she doesn't remember any of the little goofy details of her kids being two years old, like Lydia.  I know this is a natural progression of life, as there are many things that I don't specifically remember about Archie being two, unless I am reminded by something that I wrote down, or a video or picture I took.  Then I remember.  There are events that happen that I think will never be forgotten because they are so darned cute, but in reality, they are forgotten eventually.  I am focused on eleven-year-old Archie and not so much on two-year-old Archie anymore and need to be in the here-and-now.  Some of those two-year-old cute behaviours and things said in that cute, little kid way slip away.  The next Sunday we weren't at church due to the entire family coming down with the Demonic Flu.  The adults in the house had it worse than the kids.   We missed all the fun Christmas stuff at Church and in the community and we both felt miserable during Christmas.  The dinner I made was horrendous and I didn't even cook the Christmas turkey until after Christmas because I just couldn't get anything together.  Thankfully a couple of friends brought food to us, because we were bed-bound for a week and out of energy for the next week.  I assume the kids ate the food, because it was gone when the fog lifted.  Then there was the subsequent sinus infection that still has me in its clutches.  All the time at home in bed has had me thinking the past few weeks. That's about all I could do since I had no energy to do much else.  After two full weeks not getting out of my jammies for the entire day I think I am finally done stagnating. This record of the mundane details of my life left hanging since last August and before has been giving me feelings of guilt.  So much, in fact, that I have been neglecting to read the blogs of a few friends[...]