Thursday, July 31, 2014

noah's ark

Meme and I took the kids to Noah's Ark in Locust Grove yesterday. We had such a good time seeing the animals and hearing some of their stories. Noah's Ark is a sanctuary for orphaned children and a forever home for abused and unwanted animals. The founder, Jama Hedgecoth, says this is God's purpose for her life and her story is amazing! Their website can tell you more. They are also on Facebook and Instagram, posting the sweetest pictures of their friends everyday.

This tortoise is gigantic. All of the other guys and gals in the cage can get through the cyclindrical barricades, but not this guy. He really seemed to want to get to Hannah and, as she stood at the fence, he kept ramming himself into the poles. It was sad, but at the same time I'm glad those poles were there. Thinking there is a reason they don't want that big tortoise that close to the fence…

We had to wait until noon for the main animal habitats to open, so we spent a little time with the emus. It was entertaining watching their necks zig zag as their eyes followed our movement.

Pretty peacock just roaming around on his own…

After walking past some goats, donkeys and other farm-type animals, we came to Golden's cage:

He is 3 1/2 years-old and apparently having a hard time making friends - or he just wants his cage to himself. The last two girl tigers they introduced into his habitat didn't go so well. He seems to have a sassy personality. Just as we walked up, before I could even get my camera or phone ready, he leapt in the air to a low-hanging tree branch, sending everybody back a few feet. A staffer standing nearby said she had never seen him do that. He saunters around and stretches out for brief naps. More pictures of him later.

Noah's Ark has a really neat set of residents called the "BLT" - a bear named Baloo, a lion named Leo, and a tiger named Shere Khan. They live and play together in the same enclosure, never separated. The cubs were confiscated from a drug dealer's basement and brought to Noah's Ark in 2001 at just a few months old. Unfortunately, we only got to see Baloo and he never moved from his spot on his porch (that's the big black blob above).

They also have a white tiger named Zuri. Her story is sad, as she was saved from being euthanized at a private zoo. We learned about the plight of the white tiger (a sub-specie of the Bengal tiger). I was very surprised (and sickened) to know that they are inbred and for every 1 perfect white tiger, about 100 are euthanized or neglected due to deformities. (A double-recessive gene controls the white coat color.) Zuri is normal-looking, but has a very weak immune system and was in bad shape, missing most of the hair on her body, when brought to Noah's Ark. She looked right at me when I talked to her:

This next guy just makes me laugh. According to the staff he considers himself royalty. Meet "King" Alvin, a baboon retired from a research facility:

We saw other primates, gray foxes (never heard of those), and parrots before heading back around the park to visit Golden one more time.

It was nap time…and I convinced H&J to stand with their backs to the fence so I could take a picture. They weren't thrilled…

He woke up and walked around a little before we left.

I'd like to go back some day. They house many more animals that we didn't get to see this time. Meme headed back to Savannah after our very full day. Our beauty queen and co-pilot escorted her down the driveway.

It was a fun day!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

trees, dentist, swimming and videos

Last week we had some trees taken down at the house. What was originally supposed to be 5 or 6 ended up being 8. Eight large trees. We didn't know when (day or time) the crew was coming, but I'm glad I got in a solid session of yoga in the morning. The p90x yoga is a really long workout (1:45) and, thankfully, the little ones were outside playing for most of it. When they did come in they were, of course, interested in doing yoga too…or at least crowding my mat. {The black blob is Mollie.}

When the tree crew showed up Tuesday afternoon, I knew we were in for some excitement. {We had 14 trees taken down at our last parsonage.} Hannah and Joseph were enthralled by the man on the bucket truck and all the equipment. Who am I kidding? We were all fascinated by the activity going on outside. I found myself a time or two just staring out the window. The first tree Hannah and I watched come down from the back porch swing.

Joseph napped through most of that first afternoon of work, so I took a video for him:

The next morning he was ready, and glued to the guest bedroom's windows when the "mans" arrived.

We did leave the excitement long enough to go for a walk. So you can experience part of my exercise entertainment, I took a video of them singing:

…Man, I love those two. Later that day the tree guys took down the pine outside of Joseph's room (while he was napping). The front of our house looks kinda weird without two of the big trees, but I won't have to worry about them coming down on the house during a storm, so that's good.

Their method is to go up the tree sawing off all the limbs until about a 2/3 of the way to the top. Then they cut the top of the tree off (as you saw in the video) usually attached to a rope to guide it down, but sometimes not. The man on the bucket comes down and he saws the tree at the base, and BOOM it hits the ground. The bobcat comes in periodically and scoops up the limbs and pieces of trunk, loading them into another truck and once they have a full load it's hauled off. Quite a process and a big mess.

I was slightly fearful of the damage the limbs and trunks might cause as they fell. And for good reason; we had issues at our last house. This time there was collateral damage, too. We lost our little crop of butternut squash that had started growing in the compost pile, the fence was damaged, and our struggling fig tree got whacked. Oh, and two of our new azalea bushes were smashed. AND a few sprinkler heads are broken. We still have to wait for the stump grinder to come and then we'll get to really see the results of all this work…and clean up our yard.

Joseph had his first trip to the dentist on Thursday in Augusta. He surprised me. I thought he'd be terrified of the whole thing and ready to get the heck outta dodge. Instead, he did great. I mean, great! He actually seemed to enjoy it all, laughing at the vibrating wand tickling his teeth, fascinated by the light overhead and all the dental tools, and loved getting to yell "AGHHHHH!!!" every time he was told to open wide.

Hannah was so sweet, being overprotective as usual and making sure he was ok. You may remember his "help" during her experience at the dentist was quite different! I think he added more anxiety to the already-overwhelming situation…

The weekend was pretty low-key. We met our friends, Tyler and Elisha, and their girls for dinner in Milledgeville and swam at Mrs. Barbara's pool.

There is one very exciting thing that happened over the weekend (other than my brother celebrating a birthday miles away - Happy Birthday Uncle Will Will!). I haven't been able to video Hannah's progress in the pool because I'm the one that's with her, but since Daddy joined us for a swim on Saturday, I got to take this:

She's become a little fish and come so far in just a few weeks! So proud of her.

Monday, July 28, 2014

old houses and a dream

I've been taking the kids for long walks this summer. With the knee thing going on, running can sometimes be a problem but I don't have trouble walking - even while pushing the weight of a 4- and 3-yr old. They like getting outside and are usually pretty good in the stroller. Occasionally we have little squabbles like, say, when one of them thinks both sun canopies should be down and the other doesn't, or when someone's legs aren't on their side. But, generally speaking, we enjoy our time outdoors walking around Sandersville. When we go, I am seeking a good work-out so we go, hills and all, for 45 minutes to an hour or more.

I like to look at houses as I run or walk by. I examine them - good design choices and interesting ones - and consider what I might do if that particular house belonged to me (or dream it did belong to me). Sometimes it's as simple as a paint job, in other cases there's a whole laundry list of things that come to mind. It is a passion, even if just in my head for now.

Buying, restoring and renovating an old house is a dream of mine. When I say old, I'm not talking about 1970. I'm talking more like 1870 - or somewhere in the early 1900's. Joe and I own a small bungalow in Ardsley Park in Savannah, built in 1930. It was where Joe lived when we got married and our first nest. And that little two-bedroom, one-bath house with a screened porch has a special place in my heart, even if I did complain a bit about the infinitesimal closet space. I spent a lot of time on our front porch swing and making that house our first home together… But, I digress.

There is no shortage of old houses in this small southern town with great character. Recently I snapped some pictures with my phone while on a walk with Hannah and Joseph of a few on my route. A few I'd like to get my hands on…

I love that one above. There is an entrance on the side there with a little porch. The roofline, the wood siding, the huge original ornate front door… And here's another one:

Might not seem like anything to you, but that's the one I'd like to re-do the most. Cannot get enough of that porch!

This one was built in 1900 and is for sale and listed for $75,000:

The only thing I can think is that it's in real bad shape inside. Also for sale, over 100 years hold, and in need of a lot of TLC:

It's way too big for me, but has great potential. This one is in good shape, I just love it:

I'm not interested in flipping houses, but if there was someone here that would do that to some of these, I would love to watch! And with three of these fixer-uppers being on our main street, it would sure make the drive/walk that much more beautiful.

Maybe down the road I'll have my dream of restoring an old house. Or my dream of building a new low-country one. Or just my dream of having my own house to do whatever I want with! I have lots of dreams in the house department… But for now, I live vicariously through my family and friends building, renovating and decorating theirs. Not to lose sight of my blessings, I am grateful that our church here has a nice parsonage (way nicer than some of our peers' parsonages) for us to live in. Don't think I'm not thankful!

Monday, July 21, 2014

the pool, tractor, baby clothes…and a one-year anniversary

Well, here I am for what has become my weekly post. There's a lot I could write about and would like to write about if I put forth the time, energy and effort to make it happen. But I find it challenging enough to put together one blog post a week. And I don't want to spend all my time on the computer when these summer days with the little ones are fleeting.

We've had a really good summer. It has been so different than last summer as you can imagine, and with the kids being older, it's just been more fun. Last week was spent much in the way we've been spending our time these last weeks of summer: swimming, playing with friends and playing at home.

Hannah has become quite the little fish…

…swimming and jumping into the pool all on her own.

We FaceTimed Uncle Ben and Aunt Katie in Cincinnati. They liked seeing H&J playing in the bathtub.

Joseph has enjoyed his early morning tractor rides while I drink my coffee on the back porch…

He is sleeping in his big boy bed, and while we've had almost no issues at night staying in his bed, the morning is a different story. Once there is any shred of light outside he thinks it's "morning time" and therefore time to start the day. We take him back to his bed, cover him with his blanket and leave the room. {I have black-out lining on the curtains, but it doesn't matter once he discovers the truth out the window.}

Joe put a timer on a lamp in his room that is set to turn on at 7:00. If you ask Joseph the rule, he states it very clearly: "If that light is not on, I cannot leave the room. If that light is on, I can leave the room."

At this point I'm allowing him to get up once or twice before he gets the warning as he's waking up once in the middle of the night and usually once between 5 and 6. After that, if he leaves the room before the light comes on, he doesn't get to ride his tractor that morning. If he gets up (at any point) and go wakes up his sister, he doesn't get to ride the tractor that whole day. It took just two days of that happening, and has not been a problem since. He can still be loud, unintentionally waking sister up, so I try to take the noise outside. But sometimes Honey comes to find us.

My small group got together for another pool party on Wednesday. It was a great time with friends!

Couldn't decide which picture to post. I love Joseph in the one above.

Thursday, July 17, marked the one year anniversary of Joe's accident, the terrible morning he was hit by a car while riding his bike. We decided that "Grateful to be Alive Day" is a much better name. Joe went for a 9-mi run Thursday morning and visited the site of the accident for the first time since he was there, laying on the side of the road. He stopped and walked around for a few minutes on the side of the highway, every bit of that morning still so fresh in his head. Then, he thanked God he was alive and continued on his run. That afternoon he went for a bike ride with a couple of the guys in his riding group. We went out to lunch together, too. I love these sweet post-lunch kisses he shares with his Monkey girl:

I thought about the accident a lot on Thursday and how our lives were changed immeasurably that day last year. There's a lot that was lost last summer, but there also was a lot that was gained. A new perspective on life, a strengthened faith, and many blessings in the form of love and support from family and friends. 

My Facebook post said "One year ago today our lives were changed. I was waiting for Joe to get back on the bike so I could go run when my phone rang - the scariest phone call of my life. I didn't get to run that day, but today I will…praising God. Thankful that my husband is still with me, doing ok in his recovery, and filled with gratitude for our family and friends who have helped us through this last year. What a year it's been…" I wanted to share it here, too, as that is exactly the truth. 

To lighten the mood a little bit now, somebody got ahold of my iPad: 

And I had to make them stop long enough on Friday morning to get this shot (in their Christmas pajamas):

Joe surprised me with a massage later that morning. Suzette is the best massage therapist ever and her sessions are usually more painful than pleasant but I so needed it, for both my back and legs. I've had a good deal of trouble with my knees and running has been difficult (or impossible) lately. She is good at what she does and I felt like a (very sore) million bucks afterwards. 

Then, stupidly, I sat on the floor in Hannah's room most of the afternoon going through baby clothes. It's ok, I don't think I totally un-did all of Suzette's work. And it was time to take action on the big totes on the top shelf in Hannah's closet. Talk about a bittersweet endeavor. Just the sight or feel of a particular gown, onesie or dress sent me down memory lane. 

I realized I needed to separate memories of my baby girl with material possessions that could be of use to someone else, and I didn't need to keep everything. I've gone through her stuff a couple of times before giving things away here and there, but this time I was able to part with stacks of things. Don't worry, I kept all her special dresses and particularly cute or memorable play outfits. Instead of three large totes, we now have two. 

Of course, Hannah and I needed to try things on her babies. Bitty, Baby Hannah, Swingle Bear, Capoocus II (Capoocus I is my childhood bear), and Gradja (her newest friend, full name "Graduation Bear") now have a whole new wardrobe. 

"Honey, can you believe you were once this small??"

Saturday morning it started pouring rain while Joe was out on a long run. I put the kids in the car and we drove around trying to find him. By the time we did, he was a mile from home - determined to get his full run in - soaking wet, heavy shoes and all. {Runners are weird.} The kids were waiting for him when he got home, ready in their pajamas, boots and umbrellas to join him on his cool down (walk up the street and back).

Meme came in town to babysit and Joe and I went to a wedding, celebrating our friends, Kim and Parrish. It was a fun night of friends and dancing! Two of my girls, Brannen and Kati:

Yesterday leaving church, with sweet baby clothes still fresh on my mind, I decided to take a quick picture of my babies, Hannah in a dress that is most definitely her last wear. It is kinda sad to think about your child wearing something for the last time. Usually the occasion passes without you realizing it. I think it's easier that way too…

And, in case I don't have one already, I now have a picture of her in this dress. Yes, I can be very sentimental.

It was a great week. Happy Monday to you all from rainy Sandersville!