Friday, July 29, 2005

Before and After

Links and Locks

Back in Florida again. We had a wonderful trip but as always it was too short. We were busy the entire time. My brother took lots of pictures, so here are some links so that you can see what we did.

On this there are pictures of us eating crabs with my sister in law, mom, niece and nephew...and a trip to "Blue Diamond Park." Esp. note when T. Willy is crying...he did not like the sound of the roller coaster.

Pictures of the school reunion.

This is a video of my dad's skydiving experience. It is 12 minutes long but fun to watch. My brother is so talented.

Not much else to report. School starts on Thursday, so we went school supply shopping yesterday and will do some clothes shopping today or tomorrow. It is "tax free shopping" time here so we will try to take advantage of it before tariffs are levied once again.

Yesterday I asked MK if she wanted to get a new haircut for school. She said that she didn't because she was growing her hair out for "Locks of Love" so that she could donate it to make a wig for a child with cancer. So I looked up the site and found the requirements. There had to be at least 10 inches to donate. So we measured and she had it. After school shopping we went to the hairdresser and she did it. They had a few moments where they thought she might not be able to do it because of all the chlorine from the pool, but they did some conditioning and it all worked out. Her new cut is adorable (she can't stop playing with it) and she feels great about helping others, so it was a win/win for her. I have some pictures but I'll have to change computers to put them on here.

Hope you have a great day!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Big Day

I'm happy to report that my dad is alive and well and able to walk and Sha had her baby girl yesterday a.m.

That's the bottom are the details.

We drove up to Williamstown, NJ in the morning. The thing that struck the Big Man and me the most was how LUSH everything is. Since we were in South Jersey, it was easy to understand why it's called the Garden State. At our home the soil is so sandy that lush is a dream...we just hope for green. We arrived at the skydiving place around 9:30. We had some waiting to do but it was a beautiful day. Once we arrived and realized that it looked like a legitimate business and a busy one at that, our fears dissipated. Then we really got into it and were excited. We had a good time waiting but it was hot and T. Willy was getting tired, so we took him, MK and 2 cousins for a drive. He was able to nap for a few minutes and we arrived back at the place in time to see my dad in line to board the plane. Then up he went and maybe 20 minutes later he was back down. It was hard to tell which one was him until he was almost to the ground but it was a lot of fun to watch. Parachutes just seemed to appear out of nowhere. Most importantly, he loved it! He was so excited and really had a great time. Way to go, Granddad!

While we waited I called Sha's husband and found out that the baby had been born around 8:20 a.m. Everything went well. She was 8 lb 13 oz and 21 1/4 inches long. Summer joins her 4 year old big sister and I know they are all happy that she's here.

My high school (which was K - 12 and I actually went there from 4th grade on) is having a reunion today. It was a small school, so they're doing a reunion for all of the classes. That means my brother and sister in law will be attending too. It's at a state park so it will just be a big picnic and MK will have her cousins there to occupy her. It's supposed to be quite warm today so the Big Man has an "out" if T. Willy can't take the heat. He has kindly agreed to go, but he won't know anyone except us, so he's more than welcome to make his appearance and leave.

Then my brother and family are coming over tonight for crabs. My mom, sister in law and I are the only ones who really eat them, and we have fun sitting and picking.

That's it. Have a great day!

Friday, July 22, 2005

The First State

We're here! We had a bit of a long day yesterday, but we're finally here. We flew out of Pensacola, changed planes in Atlanta and arrived in Philly around 6 p.m. We were a little delayed due to weather in Atlanta but not too bad. T. Willy was ticketed so we were able to take his car seat on the plane and it really helped. He only really cried one time and I was strong and didn't get him out...he can't get out in the car so I didn't want to confuse him. The Big Man downloaded some shows from Tivo onto the laptop, so MK stayed busy with that and reading. She is and has always been an excellent traveler. After we arrived and got luggage and did the car rental, we stopped at Jim's Steaks and got cheesesteaks for dinner. Then we took a scenic route home (not on purpose - but the car has "Neverlost" navigation and we were playing with it) and arrived at my parents' house by 9.

My brother and his 3 kids were waiting for us. T. was shy at first, plus had just woken up, but he warmed up quickly. MK and the cousins went swimming and entertained us, so already the fun has begun.

I don't know why I'm up so early. I don't sleep well when I'm home. I think I'm afraid I'll miss something. What I won't miss today is my dad skydiving! My mom and I are less than thrilled about watching, but we'll be trekking to New Jersey anyway to witness it. It's done in tandem, but, still, my mild-mannered father will be plummeting from the sky. He said there's a 60 second freefall. Nothing in this world would make me want to do that for sport. I'm moderately adventurous but that is where I draw the line.

Also, Sha, was to arrive at the hospital at 6 a.m. I can't imagine that she slept well last night, but I hope she was able to get some rest and is ready to meet "Summer" this morning.

A sweet story: at the airport in Pensacola, I was walking with T. Willy and a woman seated nearby asked how old he was. I told her and she said, "We find out what we're having on Tuesday." She did not look pregnant at all, but she was beaming. She appeared at least my age or older and said that it was her first baby. She asked T's name and talked to him a little bit. Then her husband walked up and she said to him, "Honey, did you see T? This is T. You have to see T." She was obviously very excited about kids and it was neat to see.

Of course, I am, and admittedly a bit too much, conscious of the fact that MK was sitting right near us and hearing every bit of it. T has no idea people are fussing over him, but she is acutely aware. Most people are really kind and talk about what a great big sister she must be and how lucky he is to have her, but this lady was focused on babies and I understood that too.

So, I'll keep you updated. Have a great day!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

I've Been Tagged

Okay, Melissa in VA, here we go.

10 years ago
MK was 2 months old and we were living in Statesville, NC. I was a new stay at home mom and just trying to figure out the whole mothering thing. I remember little sleep and lots of nursing, lots and lots and lots.

5 years ago
We were living in this town but in another house. I was dreaming about this house although I didn't know its address. I even had a list. The Big Man was working at his current job and I was teaching 4 year old preschool. I think I was working that summer and MK was in my class. I became certified to teach in Florida and taught a first grade class for the school year.

1 year ago
T. Willy was 3 months old. I was only getting up once a night with him and then he'd go right back to sleep, so I was getting more sleep than I did with MK. I wasn't nursing. I believe we had just gotten back from Nashville to see my niece play in a basketball tournament. We were living in this house.

The Big Man was home and it rained all day so we watched movies. We finally saw National Treasure. We are not at all current in our movie watching. We liked it and enjoyed snuggling on the sofa while we watched and T. napped. I don't believe I even left the house. I cleaned and sneezed.

I finished cleaning and played with T. He was in a great mood which let me get a lot accomplished. I pushed him on the swing and then we waited for MK to come home. She did and we're so happy. She had a great time but it's wonderful to have her home. She and I are watching a movie on the Disney Channel and I'm answering my tag.

5 Snacks I enjoy
Mint chocolate chip ice cream, Movie theater popcorn - the next day, Soft pretzels, Snowcones, Green olives

5 bands I know most of the lyrics of their songs
The Beatles, Matchbox Twenty, James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkel and Nanci Griffith

Things that I would do with 100 million dollars
In addition to making sure that my loved ones were financially stable, educations secured, investments made and donating money to worthy causes, I would treat the Big Man to a Rolex. He is a "watch-o-phile" and that is something he has always wanted. I know exactly which one he wants, so I would run right out and get it. But if there are any philanthropists reading this who are just dying to part with their money - this is what I would like to do: my uncle lives on the land that I knew as my grandparents' home. It isn't where all of their kids grew up, but it is the only place I ever knew as their home. Uncle N never married or had children, but took care of my grandmother after my grandfather died and sacrificed a lot to do that. The home sits on 58 acres in West Virginia, but the house is in really poor shape. It's over 100 years old and probably just needs to be torn down and a new home built. I would also rebuild the barn. That land is my favorite place on earth and I would love for it to be a place for my kids to visit with their children. Incidentally, my second favorite place on earth is my mom's front porch, specifically on the swing that her dad made. We've thought about making that request to Extreme Home Makeover, but it's not really a sad story of need, just something that would take more money than we have to make happen.

5 bad habits
I interrupt people, that's a really bad one.
I am critical of people as if I have never looked in a mirror or at my own heart.
I would rather write a list of what needs to be done than to just do it.
I watch too much tv.
I am stubborn when I think I'm right - but in my defense, have no trouble admitting it when I'm shown to be wrong.
Possibly more character flaws than bad habits, but it was cathartic.

5 locations that I would run away to
New York City at Christmastime
Paris anytime - but only for 3 days...just to see the touristy things and then go home.
Mountains - no specific mountains...just bigger than I can find in Florida.
Australia - My family lived there when I was a kid, but I was too young to remember...I'd like some memories.
The last is a tie between Uncle N's house and my mom and dad's house

5 things that I'd never wear
A bikini
Hip huggers - when they make skinny girls look not so skinny, there's no way.
Culottes - I went to the same kind of school as Melissa in VA
A"Vote for Nader" shirt
A tube top

5 things I like doing
Traveling, reading, swinging, swimming and rocking on my front porch

5 biggest joys at the moment
MK being home
T. Willy and the Big Man tucked in bed
Air conditioning
Anticipation of the 4 of us heading to DE on Thursday

5 Famous People I'd like to meet
I thought and thought and could only come up with 2: Laura Bush and Nanci Griffith. I don't want to meet too many people. I'm afraid it will ruin the illusion and then I won't have it to look forward to anymore. (My brother got to meet Nanci Griffith in May. When he was with her, he called me, but the Big Man was on the phone and didn't recognize the number on call-waiting/caller i.d. Thanks for trying, Aaron. He did get me a shirt that she signed, "SING OUT," but I'm almost afraid to wear it.)

5 movies
The Wedding Singer, Breaking Away, Grosse Point Blank, Steel Magnolias,
Shawshank Redemption I LOVE every one of those movies and could watch them over and over.

5 TV shows
Cold Case Files, Investigative Reports, Law & Order, Extreme Home Makeover and, I'm almost ashamed to say, The Brady Bunch

5 Favorite Toys
Digital camera, laptop, baby monitor, power edger, and my new cell phone which the Big Man and I use to text message all day long. I never thought I'd use that feature, but we love it.

5 People to Tag
Well, most of the bloggers I know are because of Mel, so Noelle, Laura, Aaron and Melissa G are the only 4 left.

Whew...I was finished and proofreading on the desktop when it just clicked off...and of course, I hadn't I had to do much of this twice. But it's finished now. Bye!

Friday, July 15, 2005

I've long suspected it - but now I know it's true!!!

I am allergic to cleaning. Yes, it's true! MK is coming home tomorrow so I decided to give her room a good once over. Right in the middle I started sneezing nonstop and my head completely stuffed up. I'm sure it isn't dust or the concentration of cat has to be the cleaning.

To combat my miserable feeling, I decided to medicate. After downing a Benadryl tablet, I realized that its expiration date was January of this year. Hmmm...maybe I should clean out my medicine box too. But due to my newly self-diagnosed allergy, that could prove fatal. What to do - what to do.

I think that I will go to bed. Later!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Thanks, Ben

So today I took T. Willy to the library. While I was there I thought about what a great concept the library is. If you're here, I have to imagine that you enjoy reading too, because my life certainly isn't compelling enough to attract a non-reader. I vaguely remembered that Benjamin Franklin started the first library. What didn't that man do? I just love the idea of getting books for free and then taking them back and getting more. Plus I was pretty excited about the books I got today so that made me happy! Not great literature but not beach-fluff either.

I had books to return. So I had to search MK's room and find hers then I found mine and off we went. I knew that they were late, but they were due Saturday when we were in Alachua (if you find that I like typing Alachua, you should hear how much I like to say it "A-latch-oo-uh"). I was hoping that the library had a grace period for the evacuees, but no luck. So, $1.80 later, I was free to browse.

T. was really good at the library. His stroller has an attachment with a steering wheel that has a horn and plays music. After a few glares from the sweet library ladies, I decided it was in my best interest to turn it off. He was not happy with that. But it didn't take long to choose 7 books and hit the road.

The Big Man was at work so we stopped there to see him. He wasn't finished so I sat in the car to look at my books and T. napped. While we waited it started to pour. It rained so hard it woke T. We waited for it to stop and the Big Man invited us in for lunch! I'm not one to turn that down so we got to eat a nice meal together.

MK may be back Saturday. I know she's having fun but it's definitely not the same without her. She got to ride in a Hummer limo yesterday. Hope she can humble herself to ride in the Durango when she gets home.

Thanks to those who leave nice to hear from you all!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Things are quiet here

It's pretty quiet at our house without MK. T. Willy is in a good mood today. We've done some straightening up and playing outside. T. spent some time in his swing and I raked up some leaves and branches.

MK and G bought a gift for MK's friend, MN, while we were in Alachua. Her family came home yesterday from Georgia so I took the gift over to their house last night. They have a 10 year old girl and a 1 year old boy. Sound familiar? The girls get along really well but the boys don't quite know what to do with each other yet. They just look at each other but don't interact. It won't be long, I'm sure.

Other than that, it's a quiet day. T. is napping now and I'm making a grocery list and will head to Wal-Mart when he gets up. The Big Man is off tomorrow and Friday but may have to go in to do some things he didn't get to do Monday.

MK should be home Sunday and we leave for Delaware on Thursday. My brother, sister in law and I went to the same school and they are planning a schoolwide reunion. I'm looking forward to it. Also, my best friend since childhood, Sha, is scheduled to deliver her 2nd baby on the 22nd, so it will be fun to be in town for that if she doesn't go earlier. NS may stop up with Ava and I'm told that my dad may be sky-diving while I'm there, but I really don't know if I want to see that. Other than that, I hope to relax and swim and eat steamed crabs with my sister in law!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Another storm brewing??? I'll think about that tomorrow.

We're home! Our trip went fast, I guess because we didn't tack on an extra 3 hours like we did Friday. We didn't have much traffic at all, just some rain in spots. The sights I enjoyed the most were all of the power and tree removal trucks headed our way. Thankfully we didn't need them, but I'm sure there are still people west of us that are grateful for them. I took a few pictures. They tell the story better than I can.

The garden "before"

The garden "after"

The same damage to the same trim we had last year. Our house took the most damage of any on our street. We're on a corner that faces south so it took a direct hit from the wind.

The trim from the front of the house ended up the pool in the backyard.

The Big Man on the left...power trucks on the right.

Power trucks to my right and in my rear view mirror.

T. Willy happy to be home. MK is safely at G & P's house, and Savannah, you can rest can see the healthy and happy cat right behind T's head. She enjoyed this much more than traveling. She shook during the entire trip last year.

That's it for us. Good to be home! Hope you're all well!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Looks good...looks real good

Can you name the movie that produced that line? My favorite chick flick...bad Southern accents notwithstanding.

Well, Dennis hit while we watched the Weather Channel for several hours. If you happened to see it, and you noticed the guy in Destin, FL, you'll have seen MK's favorite shopping center. It's been open for about a year and a half. It has a great movie theater and, more importantly, Build-a-Bear. We are very thankful that we missed a serious hit. We called our home phone many times today and each time our answering machine picked up, so we knew that we had not lost power. The Big Man got in touch with a couple of people from work and they said that the damage is much less than the damage from Ivan. We are going to try to get home tomorrow to see it for ourselves. One dilemma is that the I-10 bridge to Pensacola is closed tomorrow. (It collapsed into Escambia Bay during Ivan - both north and southbound.) The alternate route is a much smaller highway around Pensacola and there will be a lot of people trying to get home. This won't affect us but may give G & P some serious delays.

Thanks for all of you who were praying for and thinking of us. We still don't know exactly what we're going to find, but we're optimistic!

Oh...and did you guess Steel Magnolias?

Sunday, July 10, 2005


We spent some time today exploring Alachua. Ten minutes later...okay, not really but so far we haven't seen much. G & P took Ty for a drive and MK and I went to the grocery store. After the store we decided to go for a drive and caught up with G & P. We saw some nice neighborhoods but never really got off the main drag where our hotel is. So there really may be more out there. The Big Man arrived safely around dinnertime and he is the best for finding fun. So tomorrow we may have an adventure after all. Mostly we spent today at the hotel.

T. Willy isn't sure what to do with himself. At home his life is fairly structured. That isn't to say that I am, but he is a child who likes routine and this has thrown him off a bit. MK is bored but she's making the best of it. G & P have their dog with them, so she's being entertained by Gracie. She's been reading and went swimming with P but has been disappointed because she was supposed to be in New Orleans with her cousin. If all goes well, she will still get to go home with them on Monday.

The Big Man worked this morning and checked the Weather Channel at 4:30 a.m. At that time the hurricane was a "1" and he debated even joining us. The last I heard they said it was only 6 miles an hour from becoming a "4" as it has picked up strength in the open Gulf. We live 30 miles from the coast but we are thankful that he decided to come. Our neighbor stayed at home through Ivan in September when we left. When we returned we asked how it went. He said that it was the scariest thing he'd ever been through. And he was in a helicopter crash as a soldier in Vietnam. He said that he would never stay through another one and moved a few months later.

Loss of life isn't so much a concern as far inland as we are. But we lost many tree limbs, roof shingles and fascia and many people lost their homes during Ivan. We know several people who have only been back in their homes since March and are now facing that again. We are thankful for the stuff we have but realize more than ever - it's just stuff. The most important things in our lives are in this hotel room as I write. (Although MK may argue that's not true, since we didn't bring her cat this time.) Nonetheless, stuff can be replaced. (I want you to hold me to that next week if the only stuff I have left is what I brought with me.)

So there you go. Drop me a line if you can...I'm bored!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Here we go again

I'm writing tonight from Alachua, FL. It's been a long day.

We went to sleep last night planning to go to the Big Easy with my in-laws (G & P) this afternoon. The Big Man has to work tomorrow, so I was going to follow them and the Big Man would join us after work. Instead, my father in law called me at 8 a.m. and suggested we leave at 9. least I had MK packed because she is supposed to spend next week with them. So I threw some things together for T. Willy and myself and we were ready to leave at 9. Then we sat around and watched the Weather Channel until 9:30 and decided to leave.

We had an easy trip...not much traffic in Pensacola, which we were expecting, and made it to Mobile, AL. G & P were listening to the local news in New Orleans and found out that their parish was being evacuated. So, we turned around and headed for......HOME! Three hours after leaving our home, we were back! Thank the Lord for cell phones. We contacted the Big Man and he was able to find us a hotel room here in Alachua, about 10 miles north of Gainesville. So we stopped at home and ate some lunch and got back in the car and 6+ hours later, here we are.

MK and T. Willy were soooo good. It could have been ugly. She got to ride with G & P. T. Willy rode with me and only cried twice. He has to be exhausted because he hardly even slept. We'll see how he does tonight in the hotel. We came to Gainesville for Hurricane Ivan and we had a great time. It was like a mini vacation. We returned to our house then to minimal damage and power and phone...our cable even came on later that night. We were so fortunate. We know it's in the Lord's hands, so we'll just ride it out and see what happens. Just another adventure.

And...hey to Thom. Good to hear from you. Of course I remember you! I've been following your adventures and saved reading about your trip for tonight so I can take my time!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Monday, July 04, 2005

It's Independence Day!

Happy 4th, everyone! We normally have some friends and their kids over for eats and fun but this year they are out of town. One couple went to Stone Mountain, GA and I can't wait to hear how it was. They said there would be fireworks all weekend so they may come back early and enjoy the fireworks our own little town offers tonight.

We live in a small town in the Florida Panhandle. Small compared to where we grew up, but not as small as it was when we moved here. It has experienced a serious population explosion of late, but it still has a great small town feel. It seems that everyone in town shows up for the fireworks. Between my former job as a teacher, the Big Man's job, church, and my daughter's various activities, we can't pass many people without knowing some of them. Parades are even better. I've never experienced a Homecoming parade like we have here for the local high school. That's something I like. We have 5 elementary schools and 2 middle schools, but everyone grows up to be a "Bulldog" since we only have one high school. I imagine that will change due to the growth, but it's something we really enjoy right now.

Before the fireworks, the Big Man's folks are coming for dinner, then we'll come back here afterwards for watermelon. Pretty traditional but we wouldn't have it any other way. Various neighbors have been shooting fireworks for the past 2 nights, so I imagine we'll get to see some more.

Hope you all have a safe and fun 4th! Our freedom is something we don't take for granted. What a great country we have!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Not much going on

The Big Man's parents built a house in our neighborhood and use it as an occasional getaway. They came in yesterday and will be in town for a week. Then they're taking MK home with them for another week. She will love the special attention and getting to spend some time with her cousin. When she gets back, we'll spend one week here, then we're jetting to the First State to visit my family. Then only a week or so and school starts. It just seems too soon. August 4 is still summer!!!! But she doesn't complain when she's out of school in mid-May. Fifth grade and her last year in elementary. I can't even think about it.

MK spent the night with G&P, so we didn't see her until the afternoon. The Big Man was off of work and he and his dad ran some errands. T.Willy was in a rare cranky mood, so he napped early and woke up happy and active. I intended to hit the pool while he napped but turned on the news and was riveted by the rescue of a missing girl in Idaho. Finally I tore myself away from it and did swim until T.Willy woke up. I can't believe how different he is from MK at that age. If I walked into a room, she would follow. He does just the opposite. He can't get out of the room fast enough. He especially loves the bookcase. He pulls books off faster than I can get to him.

G&P came up to our house and the Big Man grilled hamburgers and sausages. We ate inside because the patio furniture was soaked after a torrential afternoon rain, then we waited for the Nascar (can you believe that?) race to start, but it was rain delayed. G&P left and Maddie and I curled up on the sofa with a quilt and talked and watched tv.

Enjoy the holiday weekend!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Getting started

Who we are:

The Big Man - He's the dad, the husband, my best friend. "The Big Man" because his dad used to call him that.

Me - Annette, wife and mom among many other things. I stay at home with T.Willy and will begin graduate school in August. I'm pursuing my Master's in Reading. Along with my "Bachelor's in Communications with a Concentration in English," I should be well qualified to speak and read my native language.

MK - Our daughter, 10 years old. She's an animal lover, artist, big sister and Girl Scout for starters. She loves to write and tell stories and brings sunshine to our lives.

T.Willy - Our son, 1 year old. He was a big surprise and a wonderful gift. We are thankful every day for him and the added fun he's brought to our family.

We've lived in the Florida Panhandle for nearly 8 years after moving around Virginia and North Carolina. We love to spend time together swimming and playing on the new swingset that the Big Man and his dad built for us.

That's about it. Feel free to comment!