......revelations of one woman's reality of life, love, and all things hopeful...

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunset Cruise on the Hannah Marie

On Thursday evening of our trip, we set sail for a 2-hour tour of the port of Destin, the beautiful Emerald Coast, and the gulf in hopes of spotting dolphins in the sunset.

The first-mate on board the Hannah Marie was a gentleman named Glen Marler. At age 84, he was a very entertaining host who gave a very educational "talk" about the founding of Destin and the development of the harbour there. Interestingly, he is a descendant of one of the founders of the town. He spoke with great pride, but he made his opinion of the "developing" shoreline very clear. He
wasn't particularly impressed with all the progress but preferred the original landscape without the skyscraper.

The captain pointed out beach houses in the harbour belonging to Garth Brooks, Tim & Faith, and John Grisham. Huge. John Grisham's house was just beautiful, full of windows overlooking the water.

We spotted lots of dolphins, many even came really close to the boat. Unfortunately, they are fast little swimmers, so photos were almost impossible for me. In one of the photos below, I got a shot of a couple of the dolphins who came close the the boat, If you look closely, you can see their forms just under the surface of the water!

More about vacation....the Gulfarium

On Wednesday of our vacation, Aunt Kathy and I went to the Gulfarium, which was actually closer to Fort Walton if I remember correctly. It was a decent morning of entertainment for about 20 bucks. We watched a dolphin show, a sealion show, and then a show with both dolphins and sealions together. The trainers were great and the shows were quite educational. There was also a shark tank, penguins, sea otters, exotic fish and birds, and other exhibitions that I can't remember right now. The only drawback was that the facilities were somewhat rundown in my opinion...needed a facelift. The animals appeared to be happy and well cared for. The dolphins and sea lions were so adorable!

I would recommend the Gulfarium if you are on vacation there. Kids would love it.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Destin Highlights...

Speaking of highlights, I think my hair became a little blonder while I was at the beach. It reminds me of the days when I used to put lemon juice on my hair when I laid out in the sun. I don't know if that helped to lighten my hair, but I thought it did back then.

A lot of things have changed with my thirty-something self. I found myself doing things at the beach that I would have never done years ago....like staying under the umbrella lathered up in SPF 30, wearing an big-billed granny hat and bug sunglasses into the ocean. And, most geek-ish of all, the last day in the ocean, I wore a white t-shirt over my swimsuit (still donning the hat and sunglasses). Bad fashion for the beach, definitely. Did I care, definitely not! Hopefully when I am old and my skin is less-wrinkly than my former sunbather in the nursing home bed next to mine, I will be glad!

I did have one close call at the beach this year. One day, it was very, very windy. In fact, we were not even able to keep our beach umbrellas up. So Aunt Kathy and I had just gotten down to the beach. I was piddling around trying to set up my chair, etc., and Kathy was trying to set up her umbrella.
Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, a huge umbrella came darting right toward my face. Somehow I managed to put one arm up in front of my face and bat the umbrella away with my other arm. It's a miracle that the umbrella did not take my head off, or at least put one of my eyes out! I had a guardian angel that day is all I can figure! I returned the the umbrella to our very apologetic beach-neighbors.

I suppose I am 2 for 2 on near-death experiences at Destin. Some of you remember my close-call from last year. My shoulder still hurts from that one!

The weather was decent this trip. We were worried that tropical storm Fay would interrupt our vacation, but Monday was the only rainy day. We spent much of the day on the beach Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The water in the gulf was so rough Sunday and Tuesday that we could really only wade out about shin-deep. By Wednesday, however, the water was much more gentle and we were able to play in the water, relaxing on floats and boogie boards.

This is the ocean view from our balcony on Sunday. The picture doesn't really show how rough the water was, but you can see how far back from the shore the waves were breaking.

The water was so smooth by the end of the week. The waves only gently washed up on the shore. The water was crystal clear, a beautiful emerald green.
In water waste deep, I could see the bottom, spot and capture the cutest little hermit crab. I thought about bringing it home, then thought "naaaaaa..." I just put the little crab back in the water and watched it scamper across the sandy ocean floor. I guess it had a lucky day!
Stay posted for more Destin highlights including our trip to Grayton Beach, the Gulfarium, the sunset dolphin cruise, and my favorite discovery of the week!

So happy to be home...

We made it home from the beach yesterday. I had been so worried about Tropical Storm Fay, but fortunately, we only had one day of rainy weather. More to come about the beach trip. I have a few good stories and lots of good pictures. And Crystal...yes, I stayed clear of the rip tide!

Opening night of college football. I'm just staying home tonight so I suppose I'll have Bama (boo!) muted on the television and AU (WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR Eagle!) on the radio. It's that time of year again, I suppose. By no means does the college football schedule dictate my schedule, but it's a fun time of year nevertheless. We have leaves falling in the backyard and I love it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Reviewing "Sisterhood 2"

I watched "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2" today. Loved it. Would go back to the theatre to watch it again. Will probably purchase the DVD.

No, I've never read the book.

Yes, I have seen "Sisterhood 1" but wasn't just crazy about it, but perhaps I just wasn't really paying close attention when I watched. I think I like the second one because the girls are older and dealing with some issues with I am more closely acquainted. There are themes of trust, betrayal, forgiveness and restoration weaved throughout the story. Just beautiful.

Interestingly, contrary to popular Hollywood storylines, the movie demonstrates a harsh and realistic portrayal of premarital "s*x"....

If you get the chance, it's a good mix between drama and modern "Chick-Flick" if that's your thing.

Beach update...1 more day til the beach, boys and girls! It still looks like I'll be spending much of my vacation with tropical storm Fay, but I'm confident that Aunt Kathy and I will have a good week regardless, come rain or shine!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Losing My Mind at the Photo Shoot!

Tonight after church I had a little photo shoot with little Amy Lynn. I was feeling so good about my photography skills with my new camera, which, by the way, I purchased in anticipation of my trip to the beach with my Aunt Kathy.

Just a little side note here... If you've been watching the weather forecast (or if you read my blog earlier today) you know that a tropical storm is headed straight for my vacation destination. I have had big plans for my camera....capturing images of the Emerald waters of Destin, sunset dolphin cruises, sunrise view from our balcony, bronze lifeguards (did I say bronze lifeguards aloud, naaaa!)! Unfortunately, unless something changes I will be photographing only rain until at least Thursday...

Anyway, I was feeling really good about my photography skills, amateur as they may be. I've studied the switches and buttons on this new camera and am learning to adjust. As you can see, I captured some really sweet moments of baby Amy Lynn.

When we were finished, I told Amy's mom that I would feed Amy a bottle while she (Mom) went to shower, etc.

Amy wasn't very interested in the bottle, so we just resumed our photoshoot. I had Amy lying on her back, draped in the lime green afghan. She, wide awake, stretched and wiggled and squirmed until she rolled over onto her belly! At 2 weeks old! Wow! Is this baby advanced or what? And it's all thanks to me! I'm such a good house-mom and and even better photographer that Amy would put on such a show!!! All thanks to ME!

I take sweet baby Amy into my arms a try the bottle again, famished as she must be after our strenuous and miraculous photo session. She goes to town on that ba-ba!

Then speaks up The Observer, Jessica.

"You need to get more creative with your photography," she says.

Like how?

"You need to take pictures really up close of random things sitting around..."




"......Like a coffee cup," she said.

Snap. She grabbed my new camera.

Oh, just great. Here goes my batteries!

"Now that's a neat picture," said Jessica confidently.

What was I thinking, taking pictures of this sweet baby sucking her thumb when there was a COFFEE MUG on the COFFEE TABLE? I lost my mind.

Art. Under my very own nose.

These girls humble me.

Go East, Old Lady! Go East!

Go East, Old Lady! Go East!
That's all I can say when I watch the Weather Channel.
Tropical Storm Fay is headed straight for Destin, FL. You know it's only 3 days until I'll be at the beach! So far the forecast says it will rain and storm until Thursday.
Oh, Lord, send Fay to Myrtle Beach, Please!!!!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

4 Days 'til The Beach!

Only 4 more days! Yes, that's right boys and girls. Only 4 more days then Aunt Kathy and I will head for the Emerald Waters of Destin, FL. I have an almost unbearable headache at the moment, so I must go to bed now. Until next time, friends!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

6 Word Memoirs

Once challenged to write a full story in just 6 words, legend has it that novelist Ernest Hemmingway did just that: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

It seems now that this is a new "thing" in the literary community, only there's a twist. Now the challenge is to write your life story, or essentially your epitaph, in exactly 6 words; thus, your "6 Word Memoir." In fact, it appears that a book full of hundreds of "6 word memoirs" has recently been or soon will be published this year, authored by renown and obscure writers. If you just Google "6 Word Memoirs" you will find tons of information....

I've tried my hand at this new-to-me concept and have found it to be rather entertaining. Unfortunately, I can't publish them all here on "Read My Thoughts...," as I want to be a responsible blogger (he-hem, cough, cough.). Hope you enjoy and even more so, I hope you comment with your own 6 Word Memoirs. In no particular order, here we go...
  • How could I be so blind?
  • I'll never hit rock bottom again!
  • Long hair, short hair, long hair
  • God really does do what's best!
  • Joy does come in the morning!
  • Addicted to chocolate; cradle to grave
  • Your opinion of me doesn't matter.
  • Life gets better; butt gets bigger.

Now you try...

This one does not describe my life...

This one does not describe my life.

Not at all.

Add a line of people, shoulder-to-shoulder, down each side of the hall. That would describe my life.

My cousin Jay from Atlanta found me on FaceBook recently. We've been emailing a little bit, getting to know each other really. He has been living away for more than 25 years, so I really only see him sometimes at Christmas. So, he asked me some interesting questions....who are my friends?....what do I do for fun...where have I been?....am I dating anyone...lots of nice questions.

I was so thankful to be able to describe what a huge circle of friends I have in life. I have so many that I sometimes feel guilty. Many people feel that if they find one true friend in life, they are richly blessed. And that's true. But, I have so many true friends. Not necessarily the kind of friends you chat with on the phone daily, but the kind of friends you know will be there without hesitation when a life crisis comes along.

I want to be that friend to others. I don't know that I'm currently all that successful with that goal, but I'm working on it.

This graphic posted above came from www.postsecret.blogspot.com. This is an interesting blog where people create and post homemade postcards which reveal their secret in life. Some are touching, shocking, weird, and other are just plain funny. Check it out sometime.

That's all I've got for today, friend.

Until next time...

Monday, August 11, 2008

11 More Days

11 more days 'til the beach!!! Yip-eee! We are planning to go on a little dolphin cruise at sunset one evening, but other than that, we have no plans. Just resting and doing whatever we want to do!

Jennifer Chitwood McCurdy came for a visit today with her sweet babies, Sam and Reese. What cutie-pies!!! Jen looks really good and seems very happy! I tried to take pictures, but my camera battery died! Ug! I need to invest in some rechargeables!

That's all I've got for today people!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

My dad's side of the family normally has a "covered dish" on the first Sunday of each month. For the month of August, the get-together was moved to the first Saturday of the month as many of the family gathered for a cookout at Dad's house. He was home from working in New Mexico. I was happy to see my aunts, uncles, and cousins. My brother and his 4 children were there, but my sister-in-law was working.

I'm still learning to add pictures to my blog. I can download the pics, but arranging them with captions in a compact manner is my challenge...

My brother Stacy and his youngest son Grayson 3rd grade)

My cousin Tommy here from Knoxville. He's a funny guy!

Left to right...Piper and Brian, newlywed cousins from Knoxville, Cathy, my dad's friend, and Debbie, my cousin Brandon's wife, also from Knoxville.

Aunt Marie finds a comfy and cool spot to enjoy her burger!

Anna Brooke picks up apples from under the appletree.

My cousin, Amy and her husband, Zach. They have their first baby on the way.

Popcorn, anyone?

Yesterday and today I worked our tent at the World's Longest Yard Sale. The weather was most pleasant and breezy, and we had a lot of fun. We had a good deal of clothes for sale along with an antique stereo and phonograph cabinet, but our best attractions were grilled hotdogs, fresh-popped popcorn and cold drinks.

Our hottest item was an album from 1980 of Con Hunley. None of "us girls", of whom I am the oldest, had ever even heard of dear ole Con. The album had never been opened, shrink-wrap completely intact, with the original Target price tag of $5. Throughout the weekend we commented and speculated on Con, his handsome "eighties self" on the cover and his interesting song titles. Why, oh why, was nobody buying our coveted Con Hunley album? Surely it was because everyone's phonograph needles were broken.

I came home and googled Con Hunley. He has, as a matter of fact, made quite a name for himself in the country music industry. I believe he performs in and about the Smoky Mountains. Just google him for yourself....

The yardsale continues through tomorrow, but TWH is finished until next year...

Yummy hotdogs! They were grilled with KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce. Quite the hit with the customers!

Here's our social worker Jennifer and her husband, Jacob. As he slaved over the grill, she wiped his brow. Please don't overlook Alice as she cheeses in the background. She loves to get in the picture! Gotta love that Alice!

Baby Amy makes Blog Debut

Amy Lynn was born to Mommy Maggie on Monday, August 4. She weighed 8lb 10oz and was 20 inches long. She is a very sweet little baby who eats and sleeps very well but burps and poots even better! She is sweet as pie with her cute cheeks and head full of thick black hair!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Where were you when Kerri brought it home?

I love the Olympics. Tomorrow night they get started again, and I can't wait!

I will never forget being in my apartment in Auburn in the Summer Olympics in 1996 when Kerri Strug had the whole world watching as she fought to win the Gold for the US Gymnastics team. It was up to her. She finished the first vault with a fall, limping away to go for her second try in obvious discomfort. Then it happened....

Well, just watch for yourself....

I sat still, stunned, in tears. I could hear my neighbors cheering!

Where were you when that happened?

Just a regular day, really...

15 days 'til the beach, just so you know....

Today has been just a regular day, really.

Maggie, the new mommy in the house, is recovering from her surgery just great and is doing a good job caring for her baby. Last night I set my alarm to go off at about the time I thought she should likely be up with the baby (3 a.m.), and she was in fact up. Mommy was dragging a bit today, of course, but she was able to work in a power nap. I'm sure she is going to do just splendid!

It's time for "The World's Longest Yard Sale" again. It began today and goes through Saturday. It begins somewhere in Ohio, I think, and runs 600 miles across 5 states, through our front yard, and ends somewhere around Gadsden. I didn't have the chance to check it out much today, because whenever I was on the road, I was too busy trying not to run over people who parked their cars half-way off the road that were making mad dashes to the sale. I'm sure they wanted to be the first to pilter through the chipped raccoon figurines, half-empty bottles of White Shoulders perfume, rusty hatchets, or boxes full of naked Barbie dolls. TWH is set up along the way to sell grilled hotdogs, popcorn, cokes, chips, etc. I will be helping with that tomorrow, I suppose. I'm sure I'll have some good stories.

I have things to write about, but I haven't made time to get my pics downloaded (or is it uploaded? I'm no good with computer lingo...) from some most recent events....family cookout, birth of new baby Amy Lynn....so stay tuned. Hopefully this weekend I will get after it! I feel like I'm getting behind with my blog! Wait a minute...there's no deadlines here! This is my hobby. Ok, scratch that, if I'm in the mood to, I'll get after it!

And Linda....I know that "pilter" may very well not be a word, but it sounded good to me. So there. I love you too!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

BamaSlammer, you're good!

For my good friends who humor me by reading my little blog spot, I need to turn you on to BamaSlammer. I laughed my rear off tonight when I read her post on her grandmother. If you knew BamaSlammer, whom I have known since the 2ND grade but haven't heard her voice in years (thanks to the world wide web), you could appreciate the stories even more. Even strangers, in my opinion will enjoy her posts at http://www.bamaslammer.blogspot.com/. (BamaSlammer, I'm sure you will want to thank me later.)

Today was a good day.

Jessica took her GED exam at Northeast, and I am confident that she did great. She has studied a lot for the test.

I had lunch with my former partner-in-crime Jennifer Hembree (refer to the very first post on this blog for more on this gal a.k.a "Marie"). She staying busy with her family and work but no earth-shattering news from her life.

Congratulations to my good friend Sonia Morales who finished finished nursing school today!

Maggie is recovering from her C-section and hopefully will be discharged from the hospital tomorrow. Baby Amy is so sweet, such a good baby. She is well.

18 Days 'til the beach!!!

In honor of BamaSlammer...."This is my blog of the day..."

Monday, August 4, 2008

19 Days 'Til the Beach!

19 days 'til the beach! Yipeeee!!! Hopefully Aunt Kathy and I can make it through our vacation without the beach patrol coming to our rescue this year!

Right now I'm getting ready to head to the hospital. Maggie's having a C-Section today.

Whew-weeee, it's been hot outside! It's just "terble," as Mrs Kinney used to say.... (a few of you know what I mean!)
Gotta keep my post quick this morning...getting ready to go to the hospital. Maggie has a C-section scheduled for the morning. Will keep you posted!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Pondering my Mother

I don't know what she would think about me putting pictures of her on my blog. I guess she would think that it's ok. My Mom. I believe at this very moment, she would not be too interested in what her old body looked like. She's enjoying a new body, busy fulfilling whatever her eternal purpose in Heaven might be! Part of that purpose is surely to cheer me on. I'm sure another part of that purpose is to make fresh flower arrangements to decorate the Throne (it's okay to imagine!).

She has been on my mind today. In fact, I wept through Bro. Jeff's entire message this morning. Not necessarily tears of grief, but tears of joy and an overwhelming sense of blessing. Some tears were out of empathy for other people. Some tears flowed from a sense of regret and inadequacy. And yes, some flowed hot down my face out of sadness.

The pastor preached from Mark 5 about how the man Jairus, whose 12-year-old daughter had died, called upon Jesus. He preached about the compassionate and powerful response of Jesus in raising the girl from death to life. During the sermon, Bro Jeff talked about how a parent responds when a child is ill...they will pay anything, do anything, go anywhere, whatever it takes to see that the child gets help.

Then for some parents, they must helplessly let go of their children, entrusting them to Jesus until they are reunited in Heaven. Those parents who have lost a child often and understandably question "Why not me," preferring the child's life to be spared in exchange for their own life to be taken prematurely.

That's when the tears started. See, I've been there. Not from the perspective of the parent, but from the perspective of the child.

4 months before my Mom passed away, I was diagnosed with cancer. I remember the day we got the news. Dr. Azar called and I answered the phone. She asked if I was home alone. No, my mother is here. "Have her to pick up another phone. I need to talk to both of you."

I knew.

Mom was so sad.

I was upset too, but I guess I was more numb than anything.

I eventually had surgery. Mom was with me the whole time. Recovery was difficult, but we were together through it all.

My surgery was March 9, 2006. I went back to work around April 17. Mom died June 9.

It wasn't until sometime later that my Aunt Faye shared with me that Mom, referring to my cancer, had made the comment that she (Mom) wished the Lord would allow her to die if it meant I would be allowed to live. Oh, I can now hardly type the words through trembling fingers and blurred vision.

That's what a good mother does and how she thinks, isn't it?

When I first heard of my Mom's feelings about my cancer, I felt guilty for just a moment. Then I felt completely and unconditionally loved. What a gift of life.

Perhaps it was only coincidence that my Mom had that prayer then died suddenly less than 3 months later, but I don't think so. I believe God took her up on her offer. Literally.

So in church today, I really pondered all of that. Then it occurred to me, that more than just my Mother has died so that I can have life. I'm a born-again Christian, having trusted in Christ's death, burial, and resurrection as the payment for my sin and have accepted His gift of eternal life. But today, it just flooded me in a very new and fresh way that I can't even articulate.

So the question is what, now, shall I do with my life? I want to make every second count. I don't want the sacrifice of my Mom, or more importantly, of my Savior to be in vain.

Some areas of my life are going good in that regard. Other areas are painfully out of control. Making progress. It's a process day-by-day, minute-by-minute.

The good thing is this: Mom gave all she could give, but she recieved everything when she breathed her last breath on this earth. The human nature in us wants to avoid death, unable to comprehend the sting and unable to grasp what's waiting for those who know Jesus, and that's why she wanted me to stay and her to go. I miss her every day, but I'm glad she gets the good part in this deal. Even now, I wonder what she's doing right at this exact moment.

I don't blame God for wanting her there with Him. She's an asset to Heaven if you ask me!