Archive for the ‘Family Ties’ Category

bailey of strawberry plains

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

bailey1When Jim and I decided on a whim to get a dog during our vacation to Tennessee back in October of 1996, we certainly didn’t think about the future and the events of this morning. We decided on a name (Bailey of Strawberry Plains for the AKC) and w focused on then “right then and now” stuff, like will this dog be good with our kids? (She was.) Will she be protective of our family and a great watchdog? (She was.) Will we enjoy having her in our lives? (We did!)

But this morning, we had to put our loyal companion and friend of over 13 years down to rest. Bailey had developed cancer in her leg several months ago, and while we were dealing with that she continued to be a loving and loyal friend who enjoyed her life. Sure, she was a little slower to get up from a seated or laying position, but she was a senior citizen. She didn’t make the trek upstairs too often, but who could blame her? She was still always happy to see us, anxious to be loved and petted, thankful of any treats or ice cubes that came her way, and her tail wagged constantly.

Over the past 48 hours, her quality of life declined. She had severe stomach issues and we saw other problems as well. Jim and I made the tough decision that it was time to let her go. Bailey rallied briefly this morning and was able to enjoy her last minutes with our kids. Jim and I drove to the vet, who was wonderful. His staff laid out a large quilt on the floor so we could sit next to Bailey and love on her. The sedative was administered and they all left the room for Jim and I to say our goodbyes. We told her she was loved and what a good girl she was. Her tail was still. My favorite vet administered the last injection, and it was over.

Thank you Bailey for being a fabulous friend and pet. You’ve made my children feel better when they were sad. You gave me the chance to exercise when you escaped from the yard and I needed to chase you down. You were patient with my babies when they poked you in the eye, pulled your tail, and climbed all over you as you tried to nap. You chewed the rungs of my dining room table and ate my shoes, but who could be mad at you when you came to me with that tail between your legs and a pitiful look on your face?

You were a gift to our family for the past 13 years and we enjoyed every minute of your time with us.

post christmas wrap-up

Monday, December 29th, 2008

I figured I’d update you all on our Christmas escapades, which no doubt you’ve been waiting for anxiously, right? Here goes:

We had a delightful Christmas. The End.

HA! I kid, I kid. But I’m not here to brag about the things we got or bitch about what I didn’t get, because in the end none of that matters. Sure, we unwrapped some delightful gifts that cost a pretty penny (Wii? I’m looking at you!) but the end result was a Christmas Eve and Christmas Day spent with family and friends.

And to show you that the best gifts are cheap and/or free, one of my favorite things I received this year is a 30 year old photograph. My sister Cheryl and I decided not to exchange gifts this year, but she received a photo in the mail she just had to pass on to me. You see,our Aunt Doris passed away somewhat recently, so her daughter has had the task of cleaning her house out and going through her things. Aunt Doris saved EVERYTHING, so I wasn’t surprised when I received a package from her house via my sister of all our past Christmas cards and photos and the cards my children made for her. I was surprised when Cheryl presented me with one more thing from Aunt Doris’ house…a small picture of ME as a babe on our Grandma S’s lap. I should tell you here that Aunt Doris wasn’t my aunt at all, and Grandma S wasn’t my grandmother – they belonged to my siblings, but you wouldn’t have known it. Grandma (ravishing in a mint green pantsuit – hey, it was the late 1970′s!) looks just as happy to be holding me as she would one of her flesh and blood grandkids, and Aunt Doris always welcomed us into her fold as if she was a blood relative. I don’t have any pictures of myself with Grandma, so this is one I’ll treasure.

I even forced a hug on my sister after I unwrapped the picture!

thirteen used to be my lucky number

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

My oldest turned thirteen this weekend, as is normal for children who have been twelve for the requisite 365 days in a row. As I’m *only* 32, I’m feeling too young to be the “mother of a teenager”, but this is what happens when you have your first child at the ripe old age of 19 years old. So far, we’ve had an easy time with this kid – she studies hard, she follows our rules, she chooses friends wisely – I can only hope it continues to go so swell.

To celebrate, we headed over to Orlando on Friday and enjoyed dinner at Ohana, located within the Polynesian Resort at Disney World. Pricy, yes, but entertaining and delicious. The kids did the limbo and participated in the coconut races, and we stuffed our faces with chicken wings (Hawaiian style!), shrimp, lo mien noodles, and of course, the world famous Ohana dessert of bread pudding with Bananas Fosters sauce on top. Saturday we headed over to Sea World for the day. I rode on Kraken with Catherine, Jim took her on Atlantis, and we spent the rest of the day enjoying the animals and the scenery.

All in all, not a bad way to celebrate getting older, whether you’re turning 13 or feeling ancient now that your oldest IS 13.

family fun night

Monday, December 8th, 2008

Saturday night we braved the cool temperatures and headed out as a family, picking up my mother and my sister along the way. Our destination was Tarpon Springs, the town that I grew up in, for a visit to the Safford House. My sister and I grew up just blocks away (seriously – all of 2 or 3 blocks away!) from this historical treasure, only it wasn’t a treasure in those days. Despite the pretty picture on the Wikipedia page for the Safford House it used to be quite the pit. I walked past the house time and time again in my youth never realizing the store behind it, and my sister even spent days and nights at a friend’s house right next door to the Safford House and didn’t know it existed. I guess it was a wee bit overgrown in those days.

Anyway, the Safford House was constructed in the late 1880′s by a settler of Tarpon Springs, and over the years it grew from a little one store house into the two story Victorian gem it is today. My sister told me about an event they were having called “A Victorian Christmas” – basically a chance to get inside the house and see it all gussied up for the holiday. Carolers in period garb were there, as was Santa! Despite the educational factor of the trip, the kids had a great time examining the house and they really got into how different it was from houses as we know them today. I loved the Victorian architecture and detail work, and my favorite part was the LOW railing around the upstairs landing. That would SO not meet building codes today, but as the docent explained to the kids, people were a lot shorter in those days. And um…no building codes either.

The Safford House is so named for the brother and sister that lived there. Anson P. K Safford was the 3rd governor of the territory we know now as Arizona, and his sister was a prominent doctor…a rarity at that time. The other neat part of the tour were all of the old pictures of the area. It’s really neat to see a place you know like the back of your hand as it was WAY before you ever knew it. As my sister and I looked at the pictures of Spring Bayou and the houses we grew up with, we noticed houses that no longer existed and boat houses along the bayou that have since been torn down. We also learned that the Safford House used to occupy a prime spot on Spring Bayou, but it was moved to it’s present location to make room for the Clemson house. Boy oh boy did it make me nostalgic for my old hometown! With scenery like that, it’s easy to see why I miss it! (Want to see something really interesting? Here’s an old picture of the front of the Clemson house pictured above…it hasn’t changed much!)

After all of the history and educational nonsense, it was off to another favorite spot of mine in Tarpon Springs – the Tarpon Turtle! In an interesting parallel to the Safford House, the Tarpon Turtle used to be a dive of a bar, but now it’s a respectable place. We snagged a table near a TV and watched the Gators win the SEC championship. (Now you know how I got Jim to come along for family fun night!)

one minute before midnight

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

It was at this very moment, 11 years ago, that I was in the throes of labor. My beautiful Gracie girl decided she couldn’t wait for her September 16th due date, and she decided to make a fast and furious entrance. One minute I was at home, concerned because I hadn’t felt her kick that afternoon, and the next minute I was at the hospital being checked in. Jim and my mother and both of my sisters were present to welcome her into the world at 11:59pm, August 28th, 1997.

Being that Grace came so early, we were stuck without a middle name. From my hospital bed, I sent Jim off to the public library to check out baby naming books. Both Mother Theresa and Princess Diana died the weekend she was born, so we considered giving one of those names to her. In the end, heritage won out, and I wanted something Irish – so Grace Erin it was.

Happy Birthday, baby!

7th grade brings a whole new look

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

School starts on Monday for the kids. (Actually, it starts on Monday for Jim and I as well!) Since Catherine is going into the 7th grade, she wanted a new “look” and I mentioned a perm for her hair. She was a little dubious at first, with visions of Little Orphan Annie hair swimming in her head, but she decided to give it a try.

Today I took her to my salon for what turned into a 4 hour hair appointment. She had it cut, permed, and then had her eyebrows waxed for the first time ever! (She’s got her dad’s eyebrows, which could either be a blessing or a curse. They’re a curse if you don’t want to wax or pluck, but I say better to have too much and be able to remove hair than to have to draw fake eyebrows on, like a little old lady.) Anyway…she looks amazing. Her hair is fabulous, and what a difference on her face with her eyes being so opened up due to the eyebrow wax!

Here’s a before picture of Catherine, taken on our vacation last week, and one I look just a few minutes ago:

catherine beforepermcatherine perm

Big difference, right?

and so it begins

Friday, June 27th, 2008

A boy just called…

…for my 10 year old! It seems her little friend gave the boy, who was in their class, our number. (Note to self: tell little friend to knock that off.) This boy, according to the story I got from Grace, “liked” her at the beginning of the year but she doesn’t like him, and they’re just friends. She told me he used to poke her all the time in class, and I said, “That’s because he liked you!” I left out the part about how by not tattling on him, she proved she liked him back.

Raise your hand if you remember saying and / or hearing this from your friends when you were her age:

I like you, but I don’t like you like you.

(How is it that repeating a phrase makes it take on a whole new meaning?)

9 is fine

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Matthew is another year older! 10 minutes ago (as I write this at 4:34pm eastern time) and 9 years ago, I huffed and I puffed and I pushed him on out! As I did last year, I’m sharing a link to the story of his birth, as well as pictures (non gory / graphic) of May 13th, 1999. Please enjoy my circa-1999 Geocities homepage while you’re at it!

Click on the more link below for a trip down Matthew memory lane…


making summer miserable since 2006

Friday, May 9th, 2008

A few weeks ago, I mentioned my infamous summer chore chart. With less than a month to go in the school year, it’s time for me to revamp last years chart. Technically, it’s a list, but I’m making it into a chart and the kids will need to cross off or check off their chores each day during the summer. I’m also going to switch up the chores too. For example, Catherine has been vacuuming the upstairs, and Gracie has been doing the downstairs – they’re going to switch. Since everyone is a year older, we may even add additional chores! ::claps hands with glee:: Leave it to me to make my kids start dreading summer now, right?

I decided to make my life easier by using the free pre-made printable chore charts available at My plan for now is to have a separate chore chart for each kid – maybe the “Messy” theme for Catherine, “Rocking” for Gracie, and “Sports” for Matthew. I love the layout of the messy chore chart, because it lets you assign a number to each chore on the left hand side, like “Vacuum downstairs” as #1, and so on. Then, on the daily portion, you just bubble in the number of the chore or chores you want completed that day! It leaves room to write in something extra too, like, “Do a good job on the carpets, Love Mommy!” Hee, hee!

my famous summer chore chart

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

With summer vacation comes my famous summer chore chart. It’s not much of a chart – it’s more of a list of chores assigned to each child, with certain things to be done every day (make your bed, put away the laundry) and other things to be done twice a week (vacuum, clean the bathroom). The current chore chart has been on my fridge since last summer…outdated much? This summer I’m thinking of switching to a free printable chore charts that will let the kids mark off when they’ve done things day by day, instead of leaving it up to them to remember, which usually results in missed chores.

For those of you wondering, we do chores during the school year too, but they’re not required like summer chores. There are some days when it’s enough to go to school, do homework, and play – I want the kids to be tidy, but I don’t want them tied down. We tend to worry about the chores on the weekend when they have more free time. We also don’t tie the chores into an allowance. I expect chores to be done in return for being a member of the family. You don’t want to put away your laundry? Well, I don’t feel much like doing it, but the work needs to be done!