My Girl, Button Girl

We sent Amanda off last night, first to my parent’s house in Birmingham so that they could make the rest of the trip to school with her. They wanted to celebrate a late Christmas with my brother and his family and also wanted to make sure that Amanda got to school safely. It’s convenient since my brother and SEU are in the same city.

She picked her car up yesterday, half finished, and it’s sort of a long story. The little caravan made it as far as Dothan, AL when her car started pouring transmission fluid. I got a call from her that went something like this

“(mumble, mumble, mumble,) been shot! Pouring fluid!”

As much as I appreciate my daughter’s dramatic side, I wasn’t appreciating it at that moment. The translation was that Babette, her car, looked like she’d been shot because transmission fluid was pouring out. No one had actually been shot.

Babette has now been towed and is in a repair shop in Dothan. It can’t be looked at until tomorrow and then they’ll determine whether or not it had anything to do with the damage from the raccoon. It will be at least Monday before it can be repaired so she and my parents are driving on to Lakeland. This whole thing seems so bizarre. It has been taken completely out of my hands and is in the hands of people I’ve never met before and my parents. I’m praying for wisdom for everyone involved and trust that 1. this didn’t take God by surprise and 2. that He has a plan. I’ll also say that I don’t like this feeling of being completely useless. I’m so thankful though that my parents are there, making the decisions and taking care of her so she’s not there by herself.

And now, I have a little announcement. I’ve started another little project where I’ll be posting  tutorials, recipes, homeschool ideas, etc. I’m not completely sure how much of that site will contain thoughts like this or what it looks like. I have a plan but I’m also trying to figure out what it’s all going to look like and how it’s going to come together. Probably the best way to figure it out is to actually commit to writing there and not so much over here. I’m a little sad because Button Girl is a cute title but is sort of unrealistic for me to keep forever. Which I outline in my first post at AmyButton.com. My goal is to post two days a week and I’ve done that for this week. I’ve got tons of ideas for posting fun, relevant things for people that have the same interests as I do. I envision myself as a faith-based DIY-stay-at-home-gluten-free-homeschooling-mom….that has a dog.

I hope you’ll follow along. I want to have a lot of fun in the process of making things pretty or delicious or crafty…whatever we’re doing that day.

Blessings (because I really don’t want to say adieu),

Amy

A Mad Dash

Amanda has been here for 3 weeks now and it’s time for her to go back to school. I’m a little sad. I’m also in a mad rush to get her car fixed so she can leave. What happened to her car you ask?

A raccoon. A raccoon happened to her car.

She was driving home from school with her friend, Taylor and they were both really sick…and they got lost in Alabama. They were on some kind of back road and a raccoon ran out in front of her. And the ill, sweet college girls sobbed.

When they got to Birmingham my Dad took Amanda to get her oil changed and the mechanic said she had a leak in her a/c and her radiator. Since it was at a Jiffy Lube and her car hadn’t shown any signs of overheating they decided to let us take care of it when she got home.

To make a long story short we took the car to a mechanic on Friday to get the radiator fixed and found out that it was cracked, along with the air conditioner and he asked her if she’d hit an animal. The estimate? 1K. D’oh!

I made a call to the insurance company and as it turns out, hitting an animal is covered under comprehensive on her policy. The policy we’d changed to less than a month earlier. The policy that Travis insisted on because it had a lower deductible. Good job, Honey.

Now I’m waiting to hear from the adjuster so I can get the mechanic to finish the work.

Which is helping me to forget that I won’t see her for two months and she only gets 1 break during the spring semester. I wonder if I can make a trip to Florida before April?

Hopeful,

Amy

 

The Year in Review Part 2

Our anniversary followed dropping Amanda off at school and at the very last minute my Dad suggested we meet at a resort in Florence, AL. While it may sound a little kooky to meet my parents at a resort, my Dad gets a ridiculously low rate because he works for a world class golf trail that’s associated with it. Seeing as how we weren’t planning on a fabulous resort retreat for that anniversary it sounded fabulous!

The girls loved the aquarium. Yes, the girls were with us. They kept my Mom and Dad company while Travis and I explored the area.

It had a swanky hallway and fabulous floors.

The view from our balcony to the left was the Tennessee River.

And to the right was the resort pool.

The decor is a bit rustic/outdoorsy…

They cater to golfers after all.

It was warm for the end of September and my Dad spent hours swimming with the girls. For them it was the best trip ever. The kid swimming like a fish? That’s Chloe.

This resort is in Muscle Shoals, AL and is close to the Rosenbaum House which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

This is the front of the house.

The most fantastic part of the whole house was the windows. The focal point of everything was the outdoors which is a big bonus because while I appreciate the design to an extent, the inside of the house was ugly and impractical. Frank Lloyd Wright was an egomaniac. In my humble opinion, of course.

He said of the Rosenbaums that they lived in the house “properly” and that’s because they never changed a thing. The floors were concrete, in Frank Lloyd Wright’s favorite color, brick red.

Sorry for the blurry pics. My camera had gotten increasingly unreliable…so it was replaced for Christmas. That wasn’t in time for this though.

This blurry shot (wink) is looking from the study into the living room and dining area.

And here’s the study, my favorite room in the house.

I think it’s because this room had carpet. It felt like the most comfortable room in the house. I could do the whole tour but I think that I might save that for better pictures and another day. I’d definitely see the house again. I couldn’t live in it but I really liked the tour. The tour guide was very personable, let me ask a lot of questions and he let me take pictures of the whole house once the tour was done. A lot of museums and tours like that won’t.

Travis and I also discovered Florence. It had a large, historic downtown. It’s not as nice as Franklin’s because a lot of stores were closed or hadn’t been refurbished. There were quite a few nice restaurants though. We ate at Rosie’s Cantina.

I loved it although I’m certain that something I ate had gluten in it. I got a little careless. I made up for it that night when we found a Demos‘ (the commercials pronounce it Demus), the only one outside of TN and they had a gluten free menu. I had steak and Jim’s famous spinach (love that stuff) and my tummy that had been aching a bit felt much better. I wish there was a Demo’s in Franklin.

We wanted to get to the Helen Keller house but it was closed on Sunday…bummer. I guess we’ll have to go back (insert sly grin here).

I loved everything about this trip and I really want to go back. For you Nashvillians, it’s only about 2 1/2 hours from Franklin so it could be a day trip although I highly recommend the Marriott Shoals, Rosie’s Cantina and downtown Florence for a fun mini vacation.

Happy Traveling,

Amy

The Year in Review…Part 1

2011 is in the bag and I couldn’t be happier! The year was a battle from start to finish and while I’m thankful for everything God has done I’m ready to move forward. Today, I’m doing a review in pictures. That way, I talk less and you get to see the big highlights that I never ended up blogging about. Um, yeah, not quite…I talk too much.

In a bit of a recap, this time last year we couldn’t have imagined that Amanda would end up going to college in Florida. We also couldn’t have imagined the doors that God would open for her in such a short time. In addition to being a panelist on the school’s TV show, she also starred in two short films. I saw one of them and it was funny and fantastic to see Amanda doing what she loves. So I think the college trip is a good starting point…

On the drive down, Halle gets the award for most uncomfortable sleeping position…ever.

Halle also gets the award for cheesiest photo.

I made Chloe do the water skier but she objected strongly. Gone are the days when she was up for anything. Sigh. She was definitely up for some Florida orange juice though.

When we got to Shane and Angie’s house (Trav’s brother and sis-in-law) we’d driven 14 1/2 hours. It was Amanda’s first time to ever drive that far. Add nerves to that and she ended up in a crying heap slumped over her steering wheel. I calmed her down knowing it was temporary (she is very much like me after all) and the next morning looked much brighter. Literally. It is Florida after all.

We visited the campus and got a head start on filling out all the forms. Thankfully we beat the mad rush and didn’t have to stand in line for anything. Then we headed to Ikea. We also planned to go to John’s Pass but it was too much for one day.

The next day was the beach…Not sure if you notice but this is *a lot* of driving. We were tired. But we were so close, we had to go to the beach.

The only picture of me taken the whole trip…by me.

I’m noticing that I’m much blonder in Florida. Hmmmm….

The beach was fabulous. Even though it rained and even though the water temperature was like bath water…it was fabulous. It casts a spell over me every.single.time. I find it hard to believe sometimes that I spent the majority of my life there. It often seems like a dream. Then I look at the hills here and I snap out of it.

We got back from the beach around midnight and were in bed around 1am. We had to be back up by 6 to get Amanda to campus to check into her dorm. We were tired.

And I took pictures of everything…this is Amanda leaving Shane and Angie’s house. She’s giving me the “Mom, you’re crazy!” face.

Here she is once we got to campus…and is giving me the, “Mom, you’re annoying me but I’m going to be nice about it” face.

And the, “Mom are you *really* going to take a picture of everything I do?” face.

This particular table was step one. I fully intended to take a picture of steps 1-4. At the end of step 1 though, Travis started tearing up and we both sort of bolted out the door so that she wouldn’t see us cry. We knew that the last thing she needed was for her parents to start sobbing. She was being so brave, her life had changed so much in just a few short months and we needed to be strong for her. I think I said something ridiculous like, “If she stays here for more than a semester I’m moving back.” I’m not really, it’s one of those silly distraught mom things to say.

Then we got to see her room!

And even though it’s sort of bare bones, it was a hundred times better than the nasty dorm she stayed in at MTSU. I’m slightly jealous of the palm tree view she has outside her window. I’m not even remotely jealous of the heat and humidity. Just sayin’.

We rushed off to pick Chloe and Halle up (who were having a fantastic time playing with cousins)…

Then rushed off to Target to pick up essentials and meet my brother and sister-in-law for lunch.

I also got to meet my great-nephew for the very first time!

I also got to see my nephew (pictured) and nieces.

Target seemed to be the breaking point for the girls. Halle wanted me to carry her through the store and tried to sleep on my shoulder. Chloe burst into tears because someone she didn’t know rolled their eyes at her. We were truly at the point that we couldn’t jam one more thing into the trip. So we went back to campus and then back to home base. Trav’s family was kind and all met us at Shane and Angie’s.

It was lovely and rainy and I tried to sneak out to the patio undetected to cry a bit. Amanda saw me and she and I had a talk. Then after everyone left all the girls watched the first two episodes of season 4 of Gilmore Girls. The ones where Rory goes to college. It was a moment that you’d have to be Amanda and I to understand but it helped. I think we were both ready to move forward after that.

The next morning we packed up and left for the long drive home. Amanda didn’t start sobbing and neither did I. It’s miraculous really.

Okay, so I stink at not narrating.

You Might Have Noticed

So, you might have noticed that my last post is missing. It is and it’s not a computer glitch. See, Travis and I have vastly different views of what being discreet is. My view of being discreet is what I wrote and his is more something like this…

God is doing big stuff! Yay!

Only he wouldn’t say it like that. I suppose that’s the cheerleader version. He’d say it in a guy way. But I’m not a guy.

Anybody that knows us knows that we are really different. Different is good. As it applies to us, he keeps me from flying off into space, um scratch that, I don’t want to go into space. He keeps me from taking off on a cross-country road trip at the drop of a hat and I keep him from being too…I’m not sure that anything I could say here wouldn’t sound insulting. And that certainly isn’t my intent. Travis is just a really cautious guy. And in this case, it pertained directly to him so I pulled the post. It’s not the first time our ideas of what’s discreet and what isn’t haven’t lined up. And it won’t be the last.

I really do enjoy playing the part of the spit-fire in our relationship. It’s fun and it hasn’t made him crazy. Well, sometimes it does. But I find it very amusing and our life might be boring otherwise. I’m very thankful to be married to a guy that gets me, that doesn’t expect me to be perfect and tells me I’m beautiful about 100 times a day. I really like that about him.

Blessings,

Amy

Catch-Up

It’s a catch-up post!

First off, it’s Amanda’s last week of classes! Then finals and then she’ll be home for at least 3 weeks! I’m so thankful that even though college in Florida wasn’t even on our radar until a month before classes started, she has thrived and I’m truly blown away by the doors that God has opened for her. My kid has always, always wanted to be in movies. Always. It’s a scary thing for me because of everything that comes with that. But I was given some very wise advice just before she left for school and that was to “never parent out of fear.” As I’ve watched Amanda this semester (thank God for Facebook!), I’ve watched her star in short films and get a part on the campus talk show and God has really validated her dreams…at least to me but I think to her too. I’ve never discouraged her wanting to be in media. Ever. We have prayed and listened for what God’s plan for her is. And we’ll keep doing that very thing. We’re taking it all one semester at a time. When she visited here over fall break she told me, “Mom, I love it here (in Franklin) and it’s where I want to be but I know it’s not where I’m supposed to be right now. I’m thankful that my daughter prays and listens for God’s will too. I am very blessed.

I’m thankful for my husband who, upon hearing me groaning in pain (my darn back) yesterday morning, decided to stay home with me and our sick girls and crazy dog. He ran all the errands, including grocery shopping and Target run, did the dishes, folded clothes and washed laundry. Then got up at 5am to be at an early meeting this morning. Yesterday would have been incredibly difficult if he hadn’t been so unselfish.

Shane and Angie and their 3 beautiful kids came here from Florida to spend Thanksgiving with us. It was crowded. It was loud. There was lots of laughing. And we loved every second of it. Sure, we had to time our showers. And yes, “I’m getting in the shower, does anybody need to use the bathroom?” was said several times a day. But the weather was (mostly) nice and it was even warm enough for the kids to eat Thanksgiving dinner outside. And I’m very happy that I took the time to refinish my patio chairs.

We had two fires in my fire pit (besides, Daisy, it’s the best birthday present ever!). We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows- with little kids roasted marshmallows can easily turn into flaming, gooey, sticks of death- and we talked an laughed into the night. We saw the Opryland Hotel, the first time for us since the Flood. And it brought back memories for, Angie, who grew up in Tennessee and went to many a youth convention there (do any A/G people remember Thanksgiving Youth Conventions?). The lights were fantastic, as always, and I plan on going back at least once more before the end of the season.

We visited mutual friends (that I’ve mentioned a million times), Kris and Mary at their house in Mt. Juliet. We ate the most wonderful food and my sweet friend took the time and went through the trouble of making a lot of things gluten free. I brought some gluten free bread, figuring I could eat a turkey sandwich, but I could eat almost everything there. Including a PEANUT BUTTER PIE!!! With a gf, oreo (type) cookie crust! It was absolutely incredible. And I honestly don’t remember the last time I had pie. (Oh wait, it was for Trav’s birthday…gluten free apple blueberry that tasted like sand paper :) ) I never expect friends or family to go through the trouble of cooking for me but it means so much to me when they do.

We also hiked and told stories from our Lakeland days. Then Shane and Angie bid our group adieu, to start the trek home. I know it wasn’t an easy trip for them but I’m thankful they came.

Travis and I stayed at the Kelso house, talking and laughing. I love making new friends but friendships that are old, the ones that have weathered many a storm with you, are the ones that feel like a pair of favorite jeans. Comfy and warm and familiar. There’s no worrying about saying the right thing, or whether or not you’ll say something dumb. It’s almost a given that somebody will say something dumb. Then we’ll riff on it for a while, have a good laugh and move on. It was a great day.

There are a lot more things that are good that are happening around here. Physically, I feel so much better. I’ve noticed lately that my strength has returned. I actually ran, no, sprinted a couple of days when Shane and Angie were here (chasing the dog and then chasing kids). Those of you that have walked through this saga with me know what a big deal that is. And we sold my exercise bike. I loved that bike. But after having it for 5 years it was time. I have to step up my workouts in order to really lose weight and Travis really wanted to do an annual membership to the local Rec. Center. We sold the bike for the exact amount we needed to cover a year at the gym (which was a nice profit over what I paid for it 5 years ago. Craig’s List score!) and not only can I workout, Travis can too and the girls can swim for the whole summer. We’ll see how this goes. In general, I’m not a fan of having to drive to workout. But I was willing to do that for all the Rec. Center offers and for a really reasonable price. It’s *way* less than the Y and the facilities are great.All-in-all I think it will work well for us.

That’s all for now…

Amy

Resurfacing

Yes, it’s been a while. It isn’t that I haven’t had time to write, it’s that I don’t need the distraction that comes with blogging. Every blogger *loves* comments. Whether one loves attention or not. Whether one is self confident or not. Everyone wants to know that someone is reading and likes what you wrote. I tend to get distracted by that. And I’ve needed to focus. To really focus on what my family needs rather than my own hobby (or hobbies), to give Chloe what she needs in this new, demanding school year, to focus on Halle, on my husband and our marriage.

See, the thing is, good kids don’t happen by accident. Marriages, friendships, school years, family relationships, etc. aren’t successful by accident. It takes focus.

And I’m a dreamer.

Focus doesn’t come easily to dreamers.

But I’m not content to just say, “That’s the way I am”. And leave it at that. I don’t think that my personal needs are the trump card in life. Yes, what I need is important (lest you think I’m a martyr, believe me, I am not) but the list of things I really, actually need is very small.

And what Chloe needs is for me to walk through 5th grade with her. I may not be her full-time teacher but it’s my job to set her up for success rather than failure (more on that later). Halle needs me to be fully present when we’re going through her lessons. Travis needs me to be his biggest supporter. And what do I get in return?

I get a husband and kids that adore me. They think I’m the best ever…even when I don’t think I’m the best ever.

And that is why I need to focus. It doesn’t mean I won’t write, I will. Maybe I always will. I can’t really seem to stop writing forever. I guess I can say that I’m a work in progress. I’ve seen homeschool moms that do outings and blog and own a business and all manner of craziness. I can’t imagine that’s the way it will be with me. But if I can do school and clean and cook and write and be very present in the lives of my family without being distracted…then I suppose I’m doing my job well.

Hugs, Amy

Rainy Days and Mondays

‘Tis a rainy day here and I’m busy. Like an “I do not have a good grasp on my life” sort of busy. School is different because Chloe is going to the Academy two days  a week and I love it. I love that someone else is giving her homework and she’s excited about it. It also makes it easier to focus on Halle. But Halle is doing more work and I’ve been visiting (visiting? It would be great if I knew what I meant to write there) and a Realtor is coming to look at the house Friday and our anniversary is Sunday and we’ve been given an amazing opportunity to get out of town and, well, I just don’t have a good grip on it all. I know it just takes time. We’ll get there.

The Realtor thing? I e-mailed a Realtor about a week ago and I really just wanted her opinion on the market and such. So she’s coming to take a look because it seems that the market may be catching up with us. There are still some things to be done but we’ve done a lot and Realtors are really good at advice like, “don’t worry about that” or “fix that” or “I’ve got a guy that could do this for $$ instead of $$$”, you get the idea. So I guess we’ll see. But we’re cleaning and mowing, etc. like mad and everything takes more time than I want it to.

The out of town thing? My Dad works for a golf course and it’s part of a trail of golf courses in Alabama. One of the perks is that we can get really good rates at an awesome resort. So we’re meeting my parents in Florence, AL and they’ll take the kids so that Trav and I can spend some time together. But the town is really close to the house that Helen Keller grew up in and they’re having a Helen Keller festival the weekend we’re there and we can take the kids on a tour of the house which means I can count it as school. Yay! Besides, I read a Helen Keller biography about a dozen times when I was younger and was fascinated with her life so I benefit too. Then Saturday Travis and I will tour a Frank Lloyd Wright house as part of our anniversary celebration. I’m a nerd and I don’t care…this is exciting!

Getting Lost

Yesterday I mentioned that I was going to Columbia to return some ferns for a friend and I did.

And I got lost.

More than once.

It was fortuitous though because I’d never been to Columbia and I couldn’t have known that they had a very cool, historic downtown. Like Franklin only this one could be way cooler if they did some publicizing…and refurbishing. And I didn’t have my camera so I can’t show you what it looked like. Sorry. If (when) I go back I’ll take some pictures. There are so many cities around here that have historic downtown areas that are fantastic but you never hear of them. Lebanon, Gallatin and Columbia, I know there are more but I guess you just have to stumble on them.

But back to the story, I ended up not taking the right turn and saw ahead of me what looked like a capitol building. It was Columbia’s courthouse built in the middle of the town square with shops built all around it. Halle said, “Mommy can we get out right now?” So we did. We went into a toy store and then an antique shop where I found a bicycle helmet (really) and then I found these…

Pretty, huh? My favorite is the blue, of course.

There were a couple of ladies in the shop, the owner and an apparent acquaintance, and I got some very good tips for the next time I can “kraut”, as in “sauer”. I thanked her for her “old wives tale” wisdom and said that the next time I canned kraut, which would be never, I’d keep it in mind. She gave me a shove on my arm and laughed so I think we’re best friends now. I like those gals. And apparently Columbia is constructing a river walk so I think I’ll visit again. This time with a camera in hand.

Finally

 

I’ve been back for 3 whole weeks now. Don’t fret though, I haven’t been crying into my coffee every morning. I’ve just been thinking and trying to find what normal is and the girls and I were enjoying our last little bit of summer.

Then last week hit us like a train.

School started for Chloe and Halle, I helped a friend that’s moving to India (I should/could maybe say more than that…later…maybe…they say it better), I helped a friend with her wedding reception and both of those friends needed more help than I realized so I did a bit more than I thought I would and school ended up just getting scrapped by the end of the week. I really tried, honest. But life happened and we’ll do better this week.

I want to write about our trip and all that happened and the amazing things that have happened since then but I got distracted by this last week…

We spent 3 days out at this place last week helping set up for a wedding reception. Oddly enough these are the only 3 pictures I took and I didn’t take any of the very cool barn or any of the decorations or flower arrangements… It’s a bit disappointing but I was busy and didn’t want to take a lot of time to take pictures. I wish I had. It was so beautiful and I  fell in love.

Today? Today is school for Halle, Chloe will likely do homework even though she has a cold. Then I will chauffeur some ferns to Columbia (south of here) so that the lovely couple can honeymoon and not worry about things like returning ferns.