Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Vacation Highlights

We just got back from Branson. We had a great time. Now that we're back home, I'm feeling it. I'm tired. But I would go again if I had the chance. We went to 3 music shows and 3 attractions. We even rode a train to Arkansas. I've been on plenty of kiddie trains at places like the zoo, etc.. But this is the first time I've ever been on a real train. It was a Zephyr. I felt like we stepped back in time. We went to a house of Mirrors. I'm glad Mr. Chat was leading us through the maze, because if I had been leading, we would probably still be there trying to get out. I was wanting to go to a Haunted House, but Chatty went to a Haunted House with some friends the weekend before and she vowed to never step foot into another Haunted House.

The scenery in Branson was spectacular. The changing colors were beautiful  (even if it means that the temperatures are getting colder....yuck!)

If you like Country Music and you ever get the chance to watch Neal McCoy perform, you really must see him. It is well worth the price of a ticket!!!!

Sorry, I forgot to invite you to my daughter's wedding. But you know, we had to be very discreet. Maybe at their next party we can slip you in via the back door. (Because you know----I'm good to my blogging friends that way)! A fun time was had by all. May I introduce you to Mr. and Mrs. Johnny Depp. LOL! (This was at the Wax Museum. Don't you love the way Chatty's brown sleeves compliment the wedding dress?)

We stopped by to help the Idol crew decide who would make it to Hollywood. Chatty, Paula and Simon were very indecisive on this contestant. They debated over it FOREVER and decided to crush this poor person's dreams. Randy and I found the contestant quite charming and we liked the performance. But a vote of 3 against 2 does not win a trip to Hollywood. So if you auditioned and didn't make it...blame the 3 on the end!!!

Jackie Chan did not agree with Chatty's American Idol decision. (Did I mention he was the one auditioning?)

I thought maybe Jeannie and I could blink up a new house with all of my belongings moved in.

Chatty joined this crew on their trip to Oz. She figured if they could ask for courage, a heart, a brain and a trip to Kansas, she could ask the Wizard for more height.


 I'm thinking about doing something like this on my front porch (minus the wine bottle and the wooden menu).

Down on the Landing, every hour on the hour, water and fire dance. The song "Around the Bend" by Creedence Clearwater Revival was playing when these pictures were taken.

Isn't it pretty amazing?

I didn't take a camera to the music shows. The pictures that were taken on the train were not all that good. But the important thing is that we had fun. We didn't watch Bubba perform. There was so much to do, we just ran out of time. Maybe next time. He is moving into the Osmond Theater next year. (I wonder if that means the Osmonds are leaving Branson)? Wayne, Jay and Jimmy were performing at their theater while we were there. That's another show I'll have to see another time. If for nothing else than for my own personal nostalgic reasons.

Well there you have it...our 3 day vacation. It was back to work today. I'm ready for another vacation. LOL!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Looky, Looky!

Back in 2007, I signed a guest book on a web site that had family pictures of a family who had the same last name as my maiden name. A few months went by. I never thought any more about it. In fact, I had forgotten that I signed the guest book. Then about this time last year, I received an email from someone who was unfamiliar to me. This woman explained that she saw my signature on her guest book a few months before but she had been very busy and hadn't had time to respond. She told me that her mother had the same maiden name as my maiden name. She referred me to a genealogy web site. After I filled in all of my family information, we found out that we are 5th cousins (I think it's once removed---In genealogy, they don't count cousins as I was always taught...you know...1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc...). Anyway, we have been corresponding for close to a year. Even though I have never met her in person, I feel like I have known her all of my life. She's taught me so much about the Internet and different computer functions. She's actually the person who introduced me to the world of blogging.

She's a great seamstress and quilter. How do I know? Because I have seen some of her creations on her blog. She stays really busy with all of her projects. I really don't know how she gets all of them done. Not only does she sew and quilt, she plants beautiful plants and flowers out in her yard. See, I told you she stays busy! Since it's summer, she spends a lot of time outside. Does she run in and out of the house for things that she needs? NO! She just whips up an apron to carry her phone and supplies that she needs to carry from the house to the yard. Isn't that smart? I told her that I usually keep running from room to room to get the office supplies that I need to do my book work. So, guess what? Yesterday, I received a very pretty package in the mail. Not only was the package pretty, but the item inside the package was gorgeous. Yep! Now I have my very own "cousin-made" apron. She calls it a cobbler's apron. But I think a "cousin's apron" sounds more fitting, don't you? This is what it looks like:

And this is what it looks like on me:

Yes, I have a head, shoulders, more legs and feet...but I wanted to show the apron...isn't it very pretty and very modern looking? I think most aprons look old ladyish...but I think this one has a younger look to it, don't you? Chatty fell in love with it. I may have to share with her. What I love about it is the pockets are really deep. It looks like there is only one pocket...but it is divided into 4 sections, making 4 pockets. The two middle pockets are smaller than the two outside pockets. The little brown patch on the front is actually a pocket, too! It's great for putting a pen, pencil, or ear phones in. I am so proud of it! It's more special to me because she took time away from her other projects to make it for me!!!

Thanks, Eileen! I will be looking for a vintage "Thank You" surprise for you!


Sunday, July 5, 2009

The World through Chatty's Eyes

I know this is my 2nd post for today, but I'm on a roll!!! Being that it's been a couple of weeks since my last post, I hope you'll forgive me for being piggish and gabby today.

If you've read any of my posts, you know that Chatty is my (almost 20 year old) daughter. I LOVE teasing her. I tell her it builds strong character. But in all reality, it's just plain fun for me. hehehehe!

Anyway, Chatty is the photographer for most of my blogs. I always tease her and tell her she is fired when she misses opportunities to take pictures of the main points of interest for my posts. But when she is photographing for her own personal pleasure, she takes some pretty amazing pictures. She points her camera at the things that most people take pictures of... but her eyes and hands will slowly gravitate away to something else that grabs her attention. Her focal point is usually slightly to the left or to the right of what most people would shoot. When she tells me what she wants to take a picture of...I always roll my eyes....but when I see the results, I am amazed. I guess I have no imagination.

I mentioned in the previous post that we went to our friends' house for a barbecue for 4th of July. Well, I would like to show you what Chatty saw as she took a stroll through their yard.

Pretty amazing, huh?

A Late Holiday Post

I didn't get a chance to wish all of you a Happy 4th. So I will say it a day late. I hope everyone had a fun, safe 4th of July. In the midst of all of the celebrating, I hope we all remembered to say a prayer of thanks for our freedom and a prayer for those who are fighting to make sure that we keep our freedom. I say a prayer for our military people and their families every day. But this year, the words and the meaning of what I pray were put into reality. Just a couple of weeks ago, our home town streets were lined with flags and hundreds of people as they waited for a hearse to bring one of our boys back from Afghanistan. So as I look at our country's flag, I not only feel pride and honor, I also shed a few tears. Because to me, the flag represents more than a piece of cloth with stars and stripes. It symbolizes a couple of hundred years of human sacrifice and the many citizens who worked hard to make this the country what our fore fathers envisioned. It also symbolizes a great land that up until recently, ALL Americans wanted to be "one nation under God".
We went to friends' house for a barbecue and a quick swim in their pool. Well, actually for Chatty, her friend, and me it wasn't quite swimming. They floated and I stood. This has been a tradition for me for years. The girls just started doing this since they have been old enough to wear makeup. My friend swims. She has a perm that she just fluffs up and she wears no makeup, so for her it's not a problem. I bet you're wondering why it's such a problem for me, aren't you? Well, right after the swim, we always go to the public fireworks display in town. You still don't get it, do you? Well let me put it in terms you will understand. My hair is not the care free kind of hair. It requires a curling brush and some maneuvering. And let's just put it this way, if I went straight to town right out of the pool....I would look like a raccoon from all of the mascara running down my face. Get the picture? So I don't swim. I just stand and do my favorite thing....TALK.

Even though our kids are grown and Mr. Chat's hair is thinning and some of his blond hair is being replaced by silver, he still has a lot of kid left in him. He disappeared while most of us were still eating. I knew where he went. And it was confirmed when I heard the big bang go off in the yard. He does love 4th of July and he still likes playing with fire.

And what better way to end the evening than to be with friends sitting in a safe country!

So I hope all of you were able to celebrate in a way that brought you peace and joy! May God bless you all!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Night Time Stories

When I was a little girl it was always a thrill to go to my southern grandparents' house to spend the night. I loved everything about it! Every thing, except one thing. Usually at night, someone would start telling ghost stories. Then as we would head for bed, my grandpa would tell us kids to be good and stay in bed, or RawHead & Bloody Bones would grab us and pull us under the bed. Before you get the wrong idea about my grandpa, I want to make it very clear that he loved us all and he was very protective of everyone in the family. That being said, I don't know how to explain why this was one of his favorite things to say to us at night. As I got older, I figured it was one of two things...either he didn't have enough entertainment throughout the day and this was his way of getting a chuckle. OR he wanted to make sure none of us kids wandered outside after everyone was in bed. But one thing I know for sure, it worked! We always made sure we made a stop at the bathroom before we went to bed. Because there was no way after the lights went out that any of us would get up...Not even for a trip to the bathroom...Not even if we had to go so bad that our eyes were floating. One time as I lay in bed thinking about this thing that was under my bed, I started daring myself to put one foot on the floor for just one second. I wanted to see what would happen. I uncovered my foot. Then I eased it to the side of the bed. Just as I was about to swing it over the side of the bed, someone in the next room started snoring. Not only did my foot go back under the covers..but my head and the rest of my body did, too.

Now I'm older and my grandpa is gone. My mom, my brother, uncles, aunts and cousins still talk about grandpa's ghost stories and his way of keeping us in bed. Now it's not so scary. Inevitably, someone will mention it at family gatherings. There is always a lot of loud laughing when we re-tell his stories. When someone even mentions RawHead & Bloody Bones, 2 of the 4 generations that are there will all break out in a smile. My uncle came to visit me the other day. He has an eight year old daughter. She said, "Dad, tell her what we read about RawHead & Bloody Bones the other day." It seems like RawHead & Bloody Bones is a real Missouri folklore. We always thought grandpa had made it up. According to what I've found on the internet, there are 2 versions of the story. One from the south and one from Ireland. Neither of them are like grandpa's version. But I'm guessing that southern kids and Irish kids all possess strong bladders, too!

"Good night! Don't let the bed bugs bite!" That was another one of grandpa's favorite nightly sayings that freaked me out. Not only was I busy making sure that my foot did not fall over the side of the bed, I also had to keep an eye on the sheets to make sure there wasn't anything crawling on them. I guess that's why when I came home, my mom always let me sleep late the next morning-----She knew that I had a few hours of sleep to catch up on.

It's getting late. I'm heading to bed. That is...after a quick stop at the bathroom.....I wouldn't want to have to get up in the middle of the night, you know!

Monday, June 8, 2009

On the Road Again!

Another weekend and we hit the road! This time I had the whole family---my immediate family, my parents, my brother's family and spouses & my great niece----in tow. We loaded up and headed for a town that's about 2 and a half hours northwest from here.

My aunt had a family get-together for everyone who has birthdays and anniversaries in June. Believe me when I say that June is a very popular month for my dad's side of the family. His mother (my grandma) had 3 children. They are each 8 years apart and each born in June. Talk about family planning! She was precise, wasn't she? I would say she could teach the modern day girl a thing or two, wouldn't you? Not only are their birthdays in June, but there were 2 other birthdays and 3 anniversaries. So there was a lot of celebrating to do. Mr. Chat was back from Texas in time to go with us. He gathered the younger people together for a lively game of volleyball. I'm not sure who won. But they all had fun. We played the White Elephant game but that sort of fizzled out. It seems as if everyone on that side of the family is too polite to steal from each other. My niece and I were the only ones bold enough to swipe what we wanted from someone else. I wonder what that says about our character?

Well, I've finally decided I'm going to break down and buy new batteries for my camera and fire Chatty from her photography duties. My aunt has a beautiful yard. Her roses, plants, and yard foliage looks like it came ordered straight from a catalog. But I'm afraid that there are NO pictures of it. From what I can tell, Chatty was more intrigued with getting pictures of trees from different angles. Since I can't show you any of my aunt's creative yard talents, I will share a couple of Chatty's tree shots with you. It's amazing how the younger perspective of nature differs from someone who is 30 years older. I guess, maybe when I was younger, odd looking trees would have caught my attention more than a yard that someone had carefully planned, planted and cultivated, too.

It's been a very busy weekend. Yesterday, we had another birthday to celebrate. One of our dear friends celebrated his 60th birthday. We had a day of barbeque and plenty of sun. Now it's back to the work week. I'm going to try to catch my breath because this weekend there will be 2 more birthdays. At the end of the month, my step-son will be celebrating his 27th birthday. Oh! I forgot. We have to squeeze Father's Day in there, too. I'm thinking that I really need to get a third part-time job.....especially through June.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Relaxing Sunday with Nature

It was time for another girls' day out. Today we were lucky enough to have another girl join us...my mom. My dad retired 7 years ago. Before then, my mom went on all of our adventures with us. We were always the 3 Musketeers. But now, my mom likes to stay pretty close to my dad---which is pretty amazing considering tomorrow they will be celebrating their 52nd wedding anniversary. Anyway, Mr. Chat wasn't home today, so I threw some ham sandwiches & chips into the cooler...grabbed my two girls and we hit the road. My mom can never go any where empty handed. When she climbed into the front seat, she tossed a few sodas and some home made cinnamon rolls into the cooler. And off we went. Destination: A natural spring.

And we had some company on our stroll around the springs.

The weather was great. The park wasn't overly crowded. It was one of those days that was just right.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Quick Walk Through Our Yard

I know this post is going to leave you wondering why I'm making such a big deal out of my yard. I know a lot of you have A LOT more things going on in your yard. But if you are new to my blog, I will catch you up. For the past 16 years, Mr. Chat has done a lot of landscaping on our property. His efforts paid off, because it was always so beautiful. People would stop and make comments about how pretty our yard was. Mr. Chat even got offers to do landscaping on other properties. He would love to do landscaping for a living, but he has a full time job and just doesn't have as much extra time to devote to it as he would like.

I never get attached to a particular land scheme he has created from year to year, because he gets bored with it. The man moves plants, bushes, & trees around in the yard like a woman moves furniture in her living room. I was accustomed to the look and the personality of the yard constantly changing from year to year...but two years ago..I was SHOCKED and a little embarrassed. The ditch beside our property started to create a flooding hazard. Mr. Chat stripped our yard. He hauled in a lot of dirt so that he could build the yard up. It never failed, every time I saw a little green twig of grass peeking through, he would get on his mower and rake it down. Then he would have more dirt hauled in. I'm sure our neighbors weren't happy with us. First of all, our yard was hideous looking. But also, he created a lot of dust every time he ran his machine across the dirt. I guess doing all of that put him in a pretty destructive mood because he took down some of our Willow trees along that ditch. Of course they had been killed from the ice storm that we had 2 winters before. Then he had the nerve to go to the front yard and take some of our trees down there. We had two trees that he had planted side by side when they were saplings. He twisted them together. They grew and formed together and looked like a spiraling tree. I loved that tree! But he said the roots were going to break up our driveway. He promised that he would replace them with a tree that's roots grow straight down. But after 16 years, I'm use to seeing full grown trees, not little shrimpy looking things. This is going to take some getting use to. Anyway, I will show you how a few of our plants are developing. Remember, everything out there is a work in progress, so I'm only going to show you a few things.

Smoke Tree

Dwarf Chinese Red Maple

Various plants in the front garden

Hibiscus Tree

That's all for now. Mr. Chat has planted some new bushes along the sidewalk, but they are teeny-tiny so I won't show them. I was going to show some of the plants in the back yard, but the neighbor man was out in his yard. He's new to the neighborhood and I didn't want him to think he has a stalker. I'll let him live here for awhile before I let him know just how weird the neighbor lady is.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Best Friends and Life on the Mississippi

There are a couple of people who are a very important part of the Chat family life. We have shared some great times over the past 11 years. We've seen each other through the good, the bad, the loss, and the heartaches. But no matter what, we are there for one another. We share our strengths, weaknesses, flaws and above all else, our love for God & Christ. We are not "conventional" Christians. If you met us, you would know what I'm talking about. But you would instantly know that we love to laugh. We like to find humor in all things. And when we're together, humor we DO find. Chatty says that she can't take us ANYWHERE!!!!! If the truth be told, she gets a real kick out of us. Although, I have seen her walk away when we start having "too" much fun. *heeheehee.* Ain't life grand?

This holiday found us , along with our friends, making our way to a very popular town along the mighty Mississippi river. Yes, that's right! Hannibal, Mo. The boyhood home town of Samuel Clemens (a.k.a Mark Twain). The town and the characters in the Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn books were based upon the town and the people of Hannibal.

I still haven't gotten the knack of taking good pictures for my blog corner. I always forget to take a camera along on my adventures. Chatty gets so engrossed in sight-seeing and shopping that she misses a lot of great photo opportunities. I guess I'll have to quit laughing so much and start taking my blogging responsibilities more seriously.

Hannibal, MO
These are some buildings along the main drag of the old part of Hannibal. In fact, all of the buildings in this part of town have been maintained to keep it's original look of the 1800's. On this Memorial Day weekend, the town was having a festival. This street was closed down so that Merchants and Vendors could set up booths to hock their wares.

Display in Mark Twain Museum

Direct your attention to the buildings to the right. The brown building is the Clemens Drug Store. Mark Twain's dad purchased the whole front row of buildings around the corner from the Drug Store (The view that you can't see from this angle. I will get better at taking pictures, I promise). If I remember correctly, Mark Twain's dad died at the age of 49 when Mark Twain was 11 years old. The family fell on hard times and had to sell everything they owned to pay bills. The white building directly behind the Drug Store was Mark Twain's dad's law office. After a man was shot in the street, this is said to be the building they dragged him into. They put a Bible on his chest so they could see when he stopped breathing. We failed to get a picture of the outside of Mark Twain's boyhood home. Becky Thatcher's home was under renovation so we didn't get to take a tour of it. This picture was taken standing in front of Mark Twain's boyhood home. WRONG..WRONG..WRONG.. Correction....The buildings to your right are not the drug store and the law office....the white one is Mark Twain's boyhood home. The brown one is the gift shop. The picture was taken when we were standing between the Drug Store and the Law Office.

Chatty in front of the infamous whitewashed fence.

We're not Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn. But we ARE best friends who get ourselves into some pretty amusing situations sometimes. THINK: Lucy & Ethel!

Whose idea was this anyway??? At the foot of the steps there was a sign posted that stated whoever made it back down would get a survivor's award. And us being the crew that we are, we accepted the challenge. The sign, however, failed to inform us that there were 244 steps up (which means, 244 steps back down...a total of 488 steps).

This was at the top of the hill. Which (yippee!) meant the end of our uphill climb. This Memorial Lighthouse was built in 1935 for the commemoration of Mark Twain's 100th Birthday. In 1960, a wind of 70 m.p.h. blew the Lighthouse down. It was restored and dedicated in 1963. On March 24, 1963, President Kennedy pressed a button in Washington D.C. to turn the light back on. In 1994 President Clinton pressed the button to relight the beacon.

This was our view from the Lighthouse. The Mighty Mississippi.

And now

In honor of the men and women who fight to give us our chance to experience "peace & freedom" and to share good times & holidays with family & friends. A salute to the people who fight to keep our country "One nation under God":

To all, past and present, who have served and are serving....THANK YOU so much! Words can never and will never express how much gratitude and respect the U.S. citizens and the country owe to you and to your families!!!! May God bless you all!!!!