The following is yet another blog post inspired by a song.  A song I probably wouldn’t even like if it weren’t for the subject matter involved.  Actually, I used to always change the station when this song came on…it’s not really my thing, but one day I listened to it and it struck a chord.  Or hit a nerve.  Or both.  Now I listen to it a lot because I feel what he’s saying…I’ve lived the lyrics.

My version (and there’s actually a Part 1 and Part 2) started when Anna was about 3 months old.  As I have mentioned in previous posts it was around that time that I was not sure my marriage was going to make it.  I was having a tough time, and in all fairness, I’m sure Mark was too.  I just wouldn’t know because we didn’t talk about it at the time.  We did a lot of hurting each other…not on purpose, but out of frustration, out of sleep deprivation…and at least on my end, because I didn’t know what to do with myself.  My life (with a colicky baby) was unrecognizable.  I was depressed, I was tired and I was scared that things would never feel ok again.  Then when Anna was 4 months old, Mark quit his job.  I had never gone back to work after my maternity leave.  We were both suddenly unemployed.  I understood his reasons.  I didn’t disagree, but it put us in a very tight spot.  We were lucky to both find something within a few weeks…both at the same place, both doing what we had been doing before.  It was an ill-fated career move, but I would’ve taken just about anything at that point.  We worked those jobs for 6 months and managed to make it past the colic stage with Anna.  Money was still tight.  I ended up having to put Anna on TennCare (that’s Medicaid for those outside the State of Tennessee) because we had no insurance through our company.  I also broke down and applied for WIC…that stands for Women Infants Children…it’s public assistance of a sort.  A program that provides vouchers for certain food items to nursing mothers, infants & children.  I did it because we needed it.  There was a lot of putting my pride aside and doing what I had to do to get us through.  I didn’t want to…I seriously did not want to!  I found the whole Medicaid/WIC experience humiliating…which could be simply due to my own personal hang ups, but it hurt my pride.  It sucked.

We did that for 6 or 7 months, then we both lost our jobs…at the same time.  Once again, we were both unemployed…this time, thankfully with unemployment benefits, but that will only get you so far.  It was in this mercifully short period of time when we were both unemployed that things shifted.  It was a nightmare in so many ways, but it was an experience helped us find our footing again in our marriage.  We had each other and our daughter…and not much else.  This is when I remember sitting up talking…laughing because if I didn’t I’d cry.  I remember it like it was yesterday…that feeling of being constantly on the verge of tears.  I’d wake up in the morning and feel normal for about 10 seconds before reality set in, I remembered the state that our lives were in and the lump in my throat returned.  The only solace sometimes was sitting up at night after Anna was in bed…drinking cheap wine and talking to Mark and laughing.

Then I got a job.  Mark became a stay-at-home-dad for 4 months or so.  Things felt better for about a week…then I found out I was pregnant again.  Mark didn’t take it well.  I struggled with his reaction.  I knew a lot of why he felt the way he did, but it didn’t change the reality of it…and it didn’t change the way his reaction hurt me.  Our relationship had taken a big step forward in the previous month, but when I found out I was pregnant for the second time (surprise!) it took two very large steps back.  It wasn’t until the following Spring…a whole year later…that we recovered.  Much in the same way as before…It started with a short trip without the kids and it continued through the Spring.  We’d sit up and talk on the weekend after the kids went to bed.  We still do.  It’s nice to have that time to reconnect and talk about our week after the kids are in bed.  We still struggle…with money, with the kids, with everything, but our tough time in 2009 was a solidifying event for us.  We figured out what was most important to us…and we ended up on the same page.  For the first time I felt like I knew we were working towards the same goals.  One of which was/is making this work.  Our marriage and our little family.  I guess it was a true test of our marriage, and we somehow managed to come together and push through.

And here’s the song (written by:  John Daniel O’Donoghue, Mark Anthony Sheehan)

For the First Time by The Script

She’s all laid up in bed with a broken heart,
While I’m drinking Jack all alone in my local bar,
And we don’t know how,
How we got in to this mad situation,
Only doing things out frustration,
Trying to make it work but man these times are hard.

She needs me now but I can’t seem to find a time,
I’ve got a new job now on the unemployment line,
And we don’t know how,
How we got into this mess is it gods test,
Someone help us cause we’re doing our best,
Trying to make it work but man these times are hard

But we’re gonna start by
Drinking old cheap bottles of wine,
Shit talking up all night,
Saying things we haven’t for a while
A while yeah
We’re smiling but we’re close tears,
Even after all these years,
We just now got the feeling that we’re meeting for the first time

She’s in line at the dole
With her head held high
While I just lost my job but
Didn’t lose my pride

But we both know how,
How we’re gonna make it work when it hurts,
When you pick yourself up,
You get kicked to the dirt,
Trying to make it work but,
Man these times are hard.

But we’re gonna start by,
Drinking old cheap bottles of wine,
Shit talking up all night,
Doing things we haven’t for a while,
A while yeah,
We’re smiling but we’re close to tears,
Even after all these years,
We just now got the feeling that we’re meeting for the first time.

Drinking old cheap bottles of wine,
Shit talking up all night,
Sayings thing we haven’t for a while,
We’re smiling but we’re close to tears,
Even after all these years,
We just now got the feeling that we’re meeting, for the first time

Oh these times are hard,
Yeah they’re making us crazy
Don’t give up on me baby

Oh these times are hard,
Yeah they’re making us crazy
Don’t give up on me baby

Well…Anna’s birthday has come and gone.  I don’t even think I cried at all…although I teared up a little a couple times during the day…especially when I posted on Facebook at 4:06pm…that’s exactly when she was born.

I didn’t take nearly enough pictures this weekend, but the few I did take I’ll share in a few minutes.  I think Anna had a good birthday.  This was the first year that she was actually aware that it was her birthday and that birthdays are special.  Mark & I both worked all day, so she spent the bulk of her birthday at daycare.  I made cupcakes for her class, and they sang to her (which she reportedly didn’t like much ), so at least her day was a little extra special.  I can’t believe how my baby girl has changed and grown…the obligatory birthday picture progression:

Sorry for the poor quality of the 3rd birthday picture, but I think it’s the only one I got of her on her actual birthday.  Mark took it Gran’s house that evening on his Blackberry.  She was feeling extra-sassy with her new sunglasses on…the jacket is a swimsuit cover-up that goes with her new swimsuit from Mickey.

We went to my mother-in-law’s (Gran) house after work/daycare on Friday & opened her presents there.  We also made an attempt at eating dinner there (not at ALL successful) and doing cupcakes (with candles & singing) there (slightly more successful).  We saved a couple presents (including her big one) for Saturday.  She opened the big present Saturday morning:

My sister’s youngest son handed down all his Thomas the Train stuff to Anna & William and they’ve really gotten into it.  We only had the trains, though, no tracks, so I thought I’d get her some for her birthday.  Unfortunately only 1 of the trains that were given to us fit on this set.  Ugh!  They’re even made by the same company!  They’re just a little bit off…Thankfully this set came with an engine and a car.  The kids haven’t really even noticed the others don’t fit on the track quite right.

Check this out…Anna’s not the only one getting big!

There was a method to our madness in withholding a couple presents until Saturday.  We had a birthday party to go to for a little girl who was born the day after Anna in the same hospital.  We had a couple playdates a couple years ago…before the girls turned 1, but we haven’t seen them since I went back to work.  Her mom & I (hey Cassie!) have kept in touch on Facebook since then and we were excited to be invited to Gabriella’s party.  All 4 of us went and William & Anna had a great time & really enjoyed playing with the other kids (and all the new & different toys!).  It was nice to get out of the house with the kids and we all really enjoyed ourselves.  We really don’t do that sort of thing enough…which was apparent in the end.  The kids did great the whole afternoon…even during the opening of presents, which I was a little worried about since Anna was still in “birthday mode” herself!  However, as it got to be around 5:00 I could tell Anna was wearing down and I knew we were going to have to wrap things up and head home.  I just didn’t wrap things up fast enough.  Anna finally had a meltdown and we left with her screaming.  Nice, huh?  She screamed the whole way home…it was unintelligible at first, but then we could make out that she was screaming, “Gabriella!  Gabriella!”  Over and over and over again.  She had a little time out in her room when we got home & finally settled herself down enough to eat a little dinner…and lick the icing off a cupcake.  *Eyeroll*  Oh, and she got to open her last present too…a sandcastle mold.  She couldn’t wait to get out to the sandbox today to try it out.

Anna starts swimming lessons tomorrow at our local pool.  I’ve been excited for her to do this, but I’ve also been a little uneasy about it…simply because I will have to take BOTH kids with me since her lessons are right after daycare.  I decided earlier in the week that I wanted to try to go to the pool today so I could at the very least familiarize myself with the layout of things and figure out what the heck I’m going to do to entertain William while Anna has her 3o minute lesson.  So, even though Mark didn’t seem overly excited about it, we headed to the pool today.  We really had a good time & the kids did well.  They have a toddler pool that is sectioned off from the big pool & the kids had so much fun splashing & scooting around in there.  William hasn’t quite figured out how to stand back up if he goes under the water, which, understandably, freaks me out, but I was right there to pull him up each time he went under.  I’m hoping he’ll get the concept after a few more trips to the pool.  Sunday afternoons seem like a good time to go.  It wasn’t that crowded in general, and we had the whole toddler pool to ourselves most of the time.  Both kids had a slight meltdown when we had to get out of the pool for the required 10 minute break.  Thankfully, one of my co-workers was there & Anna was more than willing to go right to her.  She calmed right down after that & I got William calmed down too.  We managed to leave without a meltdown at all, shockingly enough…just the promise of a popsicle at home & some playtime in the backyard was enough to convince the kids that going home was a good idea.  🙂

They did play in the backyard when we got home…Anna finally got to try out her sandcastle mold, which she really seems to like.  They were both so tired by 5pm that I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to keep them up until their usual bedtime at 7:30.  The water really tires them out quickly!  At just after 5:00 William was barely holding himself together…he was hungry and tired.  I took him in and gave his bath early since he was covered in sweat and sand (not a good combination).  Then he snacked until dinner!

They did end up both going to bed a little early, which is fine because tomorrow is going to be an early morning for me & Mr. William.  He’s getting tubes put in both ears & we have to be there (30 minutes away) at 6:30.  Ugh!  On that note…it’s 9:55 & I have to get up at 5am.  I should probably think about getting some sleep!

Although I mentioned nothing about it previously in the post…Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, especially my 2 favorite dads…My Daddy & my husband!


Well…tomorrow my big girl will be 3.  Today I baked and iced 36 cupcakes (24 for daycare) and made a small 2 layer cake to put her candles on.  We may or may not still have 36 cupcakes…there was quality control to be done, so we may be down to 35 now.  I also may or may not have sucked the remaining icing from the piping bag when I was done.  What?  There wasn’t that much!

Anna actually seems a little excited.  She saw the first batch of cupcakes sitting on the kitchen counter & knew they were for her birthday.  She knows and will tell me that she will be “3 years old.”  I so wish I could take of part of day tomorrow to spend more of her birthday with her, but it’s just not going to happen.  We’ll be extremely shorthanded tomorrow anyway.  😦

I fully expect to shed a few tears tomorrow, it seems like so far on every birthday that my kids have had (which, so far is only 3 between the 2 of them 🙂 )  I have cried at least a little.  I got a little sad putting her to bed tonight because I thought “this is the last night I’ll be putting her to bed as a 2 year old”.  Seriously.  Why do I do that to myself?!  On the flip side of that, Anna really made the most out of her last day of the terrible 2’s.  We started off with a big tantrum this morning, over I’m not even sure what, and we ended with a couple this afternoon.  I can only imagine what her day was like at daycare!  I’m hoping for a better day tomorrow!

Just a quick post tonight…I’m kind of biting my tongue because all I want to do is think back to three years ago, but I’ve done that in my last 2 posts, so I’ll just keep it to myself.

I’m hoping for a fabulous 3rd birthday for my big girl!

Dear Anna,

In just a few days you will be 3 years old.  You were sick today, so I stayed home with you while your Daddy went to work and took your brother to daycare.  We don’t get to spend time together, just the 2 of us, very much anymore and I enjoyed having you all to myself.  You are such a fun little girl.

Each year, around your birthday, I think back to before you were born.  I think about how different my life was then and although I may have had some freedoms then that I don’t have now, I wouldn’t change a thing.  You and your brother (and your Daddy) are my whole world.  Before you were born I had spent years wishing for a baby of my own and I had almost given up hope.  It took a long time to get you here and I was so excited when I found out I was pregnant with you.  I read books about how you were growing and developing each week that you were in my belly.  I daydreamed all the time about what you would be like.  When I was a few months pregnant, I rented a fetal doppler so I could listen to your heartbeat.  Every time I heard the whooshing, galloping horses sound of your tiny hearbeat, my own heart skipped a beat.  I loved you so much even then.

3 years ago today, I was anxiously awaiting your arrival…wondering when I’d go into labor and when I’d finally get to meet you.  Your birth was difficult…and long, but I would still do it all again in a heartbeat.  I will never forget the moment your were born…I couldn’t see you at first because you were born by c-section, but I heard your very first cry and knew you were here.  Your Daddy and I looked at eachother when we heard you…the way I felt and the look on his face are forever etched in my memory.  He had tears in his eyes, and that never happens.  I hadn’t seen that happen before and I haven’t seen it since.  It was the biggest moment of our lives…definitely the biggest moment of mine…the moment I became your mother.

We had some long months ahead of us that day, but we didn’t know it yet.  Your first year was a hard one, but we loved you so much.  You were a very serious baby…you spent your time observing everything around you…soaking it all in.  You didn’t talk until you were 2 years old…just about a year ago, but I could always see the wheels turning in your head…the intelligence in your eyes.  You were just soaking it all up and storing it away!  Now we see it and we hear it…you’re a very smart little girl!  You amaze me all the time with what you learn and discover.

As we sat in the rocking chair in your room the other night I was watching you talk.  The way you smile with your eyes, the way you gesture with your hands, the things that I say that you repeat…at only 3 years old, it’s amazing how much of me I see in you.  And yet I see so much of your Daddy too.   Then there are things that are strictly yours and yours alone.  You are certainly unique!

It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve only known you for 3 short years.  It’s like I can almost not remember life without you in it.  You make me smile daily…and you frustrate me on a regular basis too.  You are stubborn and defiant, but you’re sweet and lovable too.  3 years ago I wondered what you would be like and now I get to see you become your own little person every day.  I love being your mother.  I’m so lucky that you’re mine…

Happy Birthday my sweet, sweet Anna-banana.



Anna’s birthday is coming up and, once again, I’m having a hard time with it.  It’s not that I don’t want to celebrate her being another year older because I do!  I want her birthdays to be special and fun and memorable in the very best way.  I just have a hard time wrapping my head around how fast she’s growing and changing.  She’ll be 3 this week.  How on EARTH is my baby girl 3??  I got a little weepy about it last night.  Mark and I sat outside after the kids went to bed.  I had a margarita, Mark had a beer & we were just chatting.  It just hit me suddenly and it hit me hard…she’s going to be 3.  THREE!!  I cried for a few minutes thinking about when she was brand new…how tiny she was, how difficult her birth was, how strange and wonderful it felt the first time I got to hold her, knowing that she was mine.  I had waited so long.  I commented to Mark that 3 years ago on June 11th, 6 days before Anna was born, we had no idea.  No idea how our lives would change, how we would change.  We didn’t know then that her birth would be the ordeal that it was.  We didn’t know that she would develop colic when she was 2 weeks old and that it would last for months.  We didn’t know how little sleep we could actually survive on.  We didn’t know she wouldn’t talk until she was 2 years old and how that would worry us.  We didn’t know she would become a big sister at 18 months old.  We didn’t know how much we would love her.  We didn’t know how much we could love really.  We didn’t know what a sweet, quirky little almost 3 year old she would become.  It’s been quite a ride these last 3 years.

There’s a line in a Keith Urban song that I just love, which is weird, because I so DON’T love Keith Urban.  I find myself listening to that song when it comes on just to hear this one line, because it just sort of sums it up.  “Along comes a baby girl, and suddenly my little world just got a whole lot bigger.”  That’s a good description of it really.  I wouldn’t have thought so 3 years ago maybe, but in retrospect, that’s exactly what happened.  We went from our little Mark & Stephanie-centric world to one that was about so much more than just us.  A whole lot bigger for sure.

Ah…let me switch gears for a moment before I reduce myself to tears again!  We’ve had a laid back weekend.  The usual playing in the yard in the morning (at least until I felt like I was going to melt into a puddle of sweat), naps for the kids & a grocery run for me.  Garden tending (we ate our first cucumber of the year last night!) and pool time in the afternoon.  Today I washed dishes and did laundry, vacuumed the whole house, took the van to town to vacuum and Armor-All it.  Then lots of toy cleanup and re-cleanup.  Lots of playing with the little ones.  Oh, and we took some pictures!  William was 18 months old last week & Anna will be 3 this next week…it seemed like a good time for some new pictures!  Here’s a sampling…


And since my internet connection is not the best tonight…I’ll post some more pictures later in the week!  Goodnight for now!

I feel like I just blinked and suddenly it’s summer.  It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was wishing for Spring, daydreaming about my garden and wishing for tank top weather.  I remember looking at the brown, leafless trees & thinking they’d start to be green soon…and now they are.  My flowerbeds are in full bloom…and once again full of weeds despite a good, thorough weeding a couple weekends ago.  😦  Our garden is coming along pretty nicely.  I’ve enjoyed working in it the last few days, despite the heat and it’s a really good workout!  It all started with watering Saturday night.  It was ungodly hot Saturday, so I waited until 8pm or so, after the kids were in bed & headed down there to water.  It was nice in the garden that night.  Quiet.  I spent an hour or so, looking at the plants, weeding here & there and watering everything.  For some reason, I couldn’t wait to get down there again Sunday morning…I just found it so relaxing.  Then again, Sunday night, I wandered down there, watered a bit more, weeded the heck out of the corn, melons and cucumbers.  I spotted our first few squash (should be ready in a week or so) and lots of little cucumbers…one that will probably be ready within the week.  It’s  so exciting to me!

I’m not sure where the extra interest is coming from this year.  My interest may disappear as quickly as it came, but for now, I’m happy to take care of our little plot of vegetables and hope that it yields enough to freeze and/or can.  I took Anna down to the garden yesterday just before dinner.  I gave her a little basket & she helped me pick peas and broccoli.  I was really hoping that helping harvest the vegetables would make her more interested in eating them.  I cooked the broccoli last night & it was so good!  Anna still wasn’t interested in even trying it, but William made up for what she didn’t eat.  He loves it!

We’ve had a busy few weeks here on the farm.  We had visitors from Chicago (friends of Mark’s family) and then my whole family (minus one sister) was here Memorial Day weekend.  I tried to type out a recap post, but I just couldn’t get it started.  Suffice it say that we had a good time both weekends.  The kids loved all the extra attention & loved having their cousins, aunts and uncles here.  They’re always glad to see their Granddaddy and Grandma!  Anna is still talking about it.  I didn’t take many pictures & I regret it, but I was so, so busy!  Thankfully my sister Laura got lots of great pictures…Hey, Laura, can you send me some of those?  Thanks!  🙂

The pictures below are from the first weekend.  Here’s my favorite:

Say it with me, “Awwwww…”

Like I said, the kids enjoyed all the extra attention, here they are blowing bubbles with one of their new friends:

Mickey is one of my mother-in-law’s best friends.  She grew up around here, but they actually didn’t meet until they both lived in Chicago.  Mickey doesn’t have any grandkids of her own…so she’s adopted ours.  🙂  Mickey hasn’t been to Tennessee to visit since before the kids were born, so she’s never gotten to meet them in person.  Anna took right to her…soon after Mickey and Anne (my MIL) arrived Anna took Mickey outside to “walk around”:

Mickey further won Anna’s favor because she brought presents!

Anna got a new purse and a flower clip for her hair (she’s wearing it in the bubble picture above).  William got a backpack and both kids got Gyrobowls.  I LOVE the Gyrobowls!  They aren’t spill-proof, but they are definitely spill-resistant!


On to Memorial Day!  The pictures I’m about to share ARE NOT MINE!  They were all taken by my sister Laura…I just figured out that I could actually download them from Facebook, so I’m sharing some of them here.  Laura, I hope you don’t mind…I love these pictures.

Laura got some great pictures of my little man:

I LOVE that last one!  I could just eat him up!

Moving on…Once again, the kids loved all the extra attention.  Here is my brother-in-law, Wayne (Laura’s husband), blowing bubbles for both of my kids:

My brother-in-law, Dan (that’s Jennifer’s husband for those keeping track) took the kids fishing.  Multiple times actually.  Oh, and just a note…Anna was not a part of the fishing expeditions, she just felt it necessary to be included in the picture!

The kids played in the pool:

Hung out on the front porch:

We all hung out in the backyard under what used to be our crooked old cedar tree:

Jack pondered the meaning of life:

While Rhett worked the moody close-up (which he is exceptionally good at):

Then all the boys played some backyard football while my girl danced in the middle of it all:

…and then pulled the wagon (and eventually her brother) through the middle of it all:

That one cracks me up!  I’m so glad Laura caught that on camera!

And then, on Sunday afternoon, there came a moment…of terror.  Ok.  Maybe not terror, but surprise & uneasiness at the very least.  My parents & I were just hanging out in the pergola with our feet, thankfully, all propped up on the table in the middle when I spotted this:

Well, I didn’t spot that exactly.  Mark wasn’t holding the snake at that point.  What I spotted was more like this:

Except in the pergola and not on the front porch.  Our little snake friend was taken (by Mark, obviously) to the front porch for his impromptu photo session.  Thanks so much, Laura, for capturing the snakiness.  Although…I do really like this shot:

It was a pretty docile snake, actually.  Or at least that’s what I hear…I didn’t really hang around to find out.

Back to the cuteness.  Sorry about that.

The kids wore themselves out.  It was so nice having all the extra Mama’s around to help.  Really, really nice.  Jennifer got Anna ready for her bath for me 2 nights in a row & my mom actually gave Anna her bath the 2nd night while I put Will to bed.  Here is Anna at the end of a long day last Saturday…looking more than a little unkempt:

And another one of my favorites…This is just before her bath that same night.  She absolutely adores her Granddaddy (my Daddy), and I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual:

I love having our family & friends here to visit.  I know it’s a long way from civilization for all of them, but it means so much that they make the effort to come to our little place.  We love to share it with them.

Wow…I guess I did manage to do a recap post!  Look at me!

Happy June (can you believe it?) to you all!  I’ve got to wrap this up, but I’ll end with this cuteness…I made the mistake of opening the piano and showing the kids what it is.  I have always kept it closed and it was just another piece of furniture to the kids, until now…Oh boy.




For some reason I’m up early today.  Early for me being 5am.  I just woke up and was wide awake…I wasn’t even upset about it.  So I got up and made the coffee, put the clean sippy cups and bottles on the drying rack away then went outside to sip my coffee on the quiet of the front porch.  The porch faces east so I watched the sun starting to peek over the horizon.  A welcome sight after last night’s storms.

I don’t do storms well and never really have.  Severe weather makes me one big ball of anxiety and ever since I’ve had the kids it’s a little worse.  The kids had been in bed for 45 minutes or so (and were both asleep) when the storm hit.  I watched the radar diligently and when it started to hit I got William out of his crib.  His room is on the “bad” side of the house…meaning the southwestern side…and there is a huge, old cedar tree that, if it fell, would probably fall on his room.  So, it’s become common practice to get him out of that room when a storm hits.  Anna’s room is relatively safe, so I let her sleep for a while.  The wind got worse and worse and at one point I just had to get her out of there.  William wanted Mark anyway, so I handed him off to his Daddy and got my little girl out of bed.  She barely woke when I picked her up, she laid her head back on my shoulder.  I climbed in the bathtub (the safest place in our pretty storm-unsafe house) with her and she slept on me until the storm had passed.  The kids seem to be the source of my anxiety these days.  Once Mark had William and I had Anna in my arms, I was ok.  The storm passed quickly and we didn’t have any damage from this round.

2 days ago, however, was a different story.  I had taken off work early to take both kids to the ENT (ear, nose & throat doctor).  We had been home for awhile, but Mark wasn’t home yet.  The storm came on suddenly and I watched the radar as closely as always.  It seemed to have almost passed when suddenly it got worse.  I called Anna into the kitchen (where I was with William).  I asked her to stay close to me in case we needed to make a quick trip to the bathtub.  The lights flickered and William clung to me…the rain was blowing sideways, the thunder and lightning was close.  The lights went out and the wind howled…and I mean HOWLED.  Anna, thankfully, followed directions and we went to the bathtub where we stayed until the storm was over.  When it was over I looked out the bathroom window and saw our gnarled, old cedar tree lying on the well house.  There were branches all over the yard and across the driveway.  Our flag pole had been bent in half, the swing set  had been somehow picked up and twisted.  Mark got home right at the end, but had to park halfway up the driveway until he could get the chainsaw out and move the branches to clear a path. I didn’t get any pictures of the damage immediately after, but I got a couple of the big cedar tree during the clean up process the next day.

By this time Mark had already cut the top of the tree out…it was covering most of the top of the well house…including our satellite dish.

This tree has had a split in it for years and it was mostly hollow.  It’s leaned (toward the well house) for as long as anyone can remember.  My mother-in-law, who is 77, remembers being told not to stand under it as a child because it leaned so badly.  So it’s been this way a long time.  It’s gotten worse since I’ve lived here…the split had gotten wider.  You could actually see through the tree in places.  Mark loved this tree…it was old and gnarled, it had lots of character.  🙂  It provided shade for many parties in the backyard…lots of fun times, with our chairs in a circle beneath it.  The backyard looks so different without it.

So, we’ve got lots of clean up in our future these next few days.  My whole family (minus one sister 😦 ) will be here on Saturday for our Memorial Day get-together.  I’m sure they’d love to help carry the branches away, but we’ll try to get it done before they get here.  🙂  That and my house is suddenly a mess.  I’m not even sure when that happened!  So, we’re going to be a bit busy.

I’ve got lots more to post, including a recap of our visit with our friends from Chicago from last weekend, but it may be a while before I get around to it…so much to do and a fun weekend ahead of us!

Weekend projects

We could do a whole year full of weekend projects and still have some left over…such is life with an old house!  We didn’t do anything major this particular weekend, but I got things done that I’ve been meaning to do for months.

As I mentioned a couple posts back, I’ve been planning on making some small changes in William’s room to make it feel more like his and less like it used to be his sister’s.  Thankfully not too much needed to be done & it’s complete with the exception of getting a new changing pad cover (in a color other than pink).  The first thing I did was rework the valance that’s been in there since Anna was born.  Here’s what it looks like now:

The green stripe was already there, it had a wide pink stripe underneath it.  I just removed the pink stripe and added the yellow and blue (both grosgrain ribbon).

I did that to match his quilt (made by my mother):

I also hung one of the extra quilt squares that didn’t make it into the finished product:

Last but not least I framed the painting I had done to match the one my sister gave me for Anna’s room.  I’ve had it since William was a month old…just now got around to framing it:

And that’s about it for William’s room!  Woohoo!  He’s only been in there for like a year!

Oh, and this finally happened this weekend too…Mark bottled his very first batch of homebrewed beer.  Look how proud he was!  😉

My last (and largest) project of the weekend was our “picture wall”.  As you may have guessed, photographs are really important to me.  I like them a lot!  We had a wall of family pictures in our old living room which is now Anna’s room.  They had been hung on that wall since before we had the kids.  Most of them were old pictures of Mark’s family.  Actually I think all of them were of Mark’s family.  Anyway, they had all been sitting in our roll top desk since we moved the living room to its current location.  I’ve been meaning to swap out some pictures and rehang them, but there are a lot of them (as you’re about to see) and I wasn’t looking forward to it.  It’s done now, and there are more pictures than ever.  🙂  I know some people might find it a bit much, but I love a good picture wall.  I love it even more now that I’ve mixed things up a bit.  There are pictures of the kids, pictures of our parents, grandparents, my sisters and their kids…a good representation of our family as a whole.  Lots of love on that wall…

Yeah, it all looks crooked because I took that picture at an angle to reduce the glare (I was only partially successful).  Now if I could just get rid of that freaking striped wall paper I’d be a really happy girl!  The stripes, flowers and picture frames kind of compete with each other, but until I can get rid of the wallpaper there’s just not much I can do about it.  😦  I’m still happy to have these pictures back on display.

So, nothing major, but all things I’m so glad to have done!  I really feel like I accomplished a little something.  Woohoo!

I’ve been known to over-think and over-analyze, so bear with me here…This line of thinking was brought about by a couple of different songs I’ve heard recently.

There is a 9 year age difference between Mark and I.  He was born in Chicago, I was born in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  He lived in Chicago for the first 12 years of his life and then moved to Martin (where his mother’s family was and where she grew up) about 2 years after his father passed away in 1978.  When Mark was going through the awful experience of losing his father at just 10 years old, I had just turned 2.  When he moved to Tennessee at 12 years old I had just moved to Tennessee myself a few months prior, and I had just turned 4.  Both of us moved in 1980.  So, for the duration of the 80’s we grew up in our respective towns…he was a teenager, I was in elementary school.  He left for college in Florida just as I was starting in 4th grade.  He moved back to Tennessee & continued going to college at the University of Tennessee – Martin I believe at some point in 1987.  I had never even heard of Martin at that point in my life.  In the 90’s I was in high school and Mark was in college at some points at just working at others.  I made a trip to Martin in 1994 for some sort of band competition I think.  I remember that trip vaguely.  I think it was on that trip that I got back together with my on again/off again high school boyfriend Joe.  I don’t remember much about the town from that trip.  I remember sitting in the stadium at the college and I remember being unimpressed by the University here.  Martin was not a place even remotely on my radar for college, much less as a place to live permanently.  Looking back now, I wonder where Mark was that day.  He was probably in town.  Was he working?  Did he pass our school buses driving down the street in town?   Little did I know my future husband was somewhere in that little town that I couldn’t have cared about less.  Little did I know that I would be living, working and raising my 2 children in that town.  This town.  Little did Mark know that his future wife, the mother of his children, was playing in some band competition in town that day.  Funny that we could have run into each other at the local McDonalds and not thought twice about it…we would never have known that 11 years later we would be husband and wife.  Funny how life works.

As I have undoubtedly said before, I hated this area when I moved here in 2004 (10 years after that forgettable band competition).  It’s so unlike where I grew up in so many ways.  The people are different.  The socio-economic climate is, um…different.  The topography is even different.  It didn’t feel like home until I met Mark and moved to the farm about a year later.  Even then, I struggled a bit to get used to the lack of…stuff.  We don’t have a lot of stores or restaurants here…we don’t have a mall.  We don’t have much really…and there’s more here now than there was just 6 years ago.  I have adjusted slowly and now I’m not sure I could ever go back to a place like the one I’m from.  When we visit, I enjoy it for a while, but then I get tired of all the people and all the traffic and, yes, even all the stuff. 

As for Mark, I’m not sure that he ever really saw himself getting married, much less having kids.  Both were quite an adjustment for him, especially since he had lived in this house alone for probably 10 years before I came along.  He’s still adjusting…and so am I.  Kids seem to cause endless “adjustments”.

So, I guess where I’m going with all this is…What if just one seemingly little thing had happened differently?  If either Mark or myself had made a different decision here or there along the way would we have ended up somewhere else entirely?  We started out over 400 miles and 9 years apart.  It seems kind of lucky that we managed to end up working in the same little office in the same little town almost 37 years after he was born.  I hated him when I met him and yet for some reason, there always seemed to be something familiar about him somehow.  Not like I had met him before, but like there was something special about him, something I liked about him on some subconscious level because goodness knows it was NOT on a conscious level!  I guess it was just meant to be…it seems so impossible that we should ever have met…out of all the people and places that both of us saw before we met, how did we ever end up together.  I guess some people call that fate.  I don’t know that I would go there but, it’s certainly a remarkable coincidence.


Sometimes I wonder how I got here.  Not how I came to exist…I’m pretty clear on that, thanks, but how I got to this place in my life.  Geographically and otherwise.  I know everyone has a “plan” for their life…however loose of a plan it may be.  It’s safe to say my life didn’t go at all according to my plan…I don’t really wish it had either.

The past few days have been gorgeous (weather-wise) and I’ve caught myself taking in the scenery on my drive to and from work much more than usual.  This afternoon as I was driving back to the office at the end of my lunch hour there was a nice breeze blowing and I watched the wind ripple through the tall grass and the fields of still-green wheat.  It was lovely.  The honeysuckle is in full bloom and it’s everywhere around the farm…it’s scent hangs in the air, in the evenings especially, and I love it.   These are things you don’t get in the city.  At least not on this sort of scale.  Things like this make me love it here despite my love/hate relationship with our old farmhouse and my wish that we had real stores & restaurants nearby.

Speaking of our old farmhouse.  I’ve never really liked old houses.  I always found them spooky.  This one somehow never really had that feeling to me.  I mean, I don’t really like going to hang out in the attic because it creeps me out, but other than that I’m not generally spooked.  I love our house because it’s always been in the family (Mark’s family) and I like to think of all the stories this house could tell.  You know, if walls could talk…this house has seen a lot.  At least 5 generations of the same family…my children being the 5th have lived here.  At least 3 of the 5 were raised here (counting my kids).  Several babies were born here, and sure, people have died here too.  The house has stories to tell.  It’s kind of neat.  I try to remember that when the weird, chopped up layout, the constant maintenance, and the constant dustiness are getting to me.

Ah…moving on…

I just finished reworking the valance in William’s room.  The poor boy has been living with the pink trimmed valance since we moved him into that room almost a year ago.  We just kind of moved him in there and arranged it almost exactly like it was when it was Anna’s room.  Mark has mentioned several times that he thinks we should “fix” his room so it’s more his.  So I pulled the pink ribbon trim off the valance and added new yellow and blue grosgrain ribbon trim to coordinate with William’s quilt.  The walls are still green, but that goes with his quilt too.  Now I’ve just got to get his “W” painting framed and on the wall, get a non-pink changing pad cover and move around a few things on the mantle.   It shouldn’t take too much. Anna’s room is next.  We never really put it back together completely after we moved her room.  She’s still missing her “A” painting as well as couple other wall-hangings.

We have one more free weekend before we have lots of visitors here at the farm.  First up is some family friends from Chicago and the following weekend my whole family (minus one sister who can’t come 😦 ) is coming.  Woohoo!