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My Mother's Daylilies: More Than Just Flowers

Flowers have been my mother's passion for the whole of her life.  It was flowers that helped her grieve the loss of my father. It was flowers that took her through all the different passages of her life.  And now, as I reflect on those flowers, I finally understand what the flowers meant to her; they were more than just flowers.

We all have passions or hobbies in life, or at least I believe one should.  Something that releases your mind from its worries.  Something that puts a smile on your face and makes your heart light.  For me, that is knitting.  I really love to sit down with my needles and yarn and almost immediately begin to feel my mood lighten.  For my mother, it has always been her flowers.

She always had the prettiest yard in the neighborhood.  Almost every single day one could find her on her hands and knees either weeding a flower bed or planting some new cutting she had come across.  And did she ever have a green thumb.  Whatever she put in the ground grew.  Once she took a piece of a rose that my husband brought me from his mother's rose garden when we were dating.  Today it is a beautiful rose bush in her own yard.

I watched my mother tend her flowers and care for them as one would tend to a small child.  She watered them in the hot southern summers, put pine straw around them in the fall and ran out to cover them if a freeze was in the forecast.  I watched her then,  but I never truly understood.  What I didn't understand was that the flowers were her way of dealing with life.  They made stressful situations more calm, long days shorter;  she created something of beauty whenever things were not so beautiful in her world.

As my mother has aged and her physical abilities are now limited,  she often longs to get her hands into the dirt to tend those flowers.  She worries about them; they are constantly on her mind.  Do they have enough water?  Are the weeds taking over?  She thinks about these and many other things as she sits in her chair,  unable to do so many tasks now.  And because of these things, I am so grateful that I now have some of her flowers growing in my own flowerbeds.

Whenever we built this house, about eleven years ago, my mother insisted that I come dig up some of her daylilies and other flowers to put in my own yard.  I did it, of course, but it was no big deal to me at the time.  However, yesterday, before the rain set in, I noticed that my daylilies were blooming.  That's when I took a moment to walk out and look at them.  They were absolutely beautiful!  That's when it hit me.  I won't always have my mother around,  but each year when my daylilies bloom, I will have her with me.  It was a sad, yet comforting moment for me.  Life is funny like that.  It slips up on you and that's when your realize how precious it really is.







Signed Children's Book Giveaway!

If you are here, you can see that I have been working with a designer to update the design of my blog.  How do you like it??  And how about that byline?  I invite you to check everything out, however, some of the sections do not have content added yet since it was just completed last week.

And because I am celebrating having this new design up and running, I am going to do a GIVEAWAY!!  Yep, and it's one that you don't want to miss out on; it's for your little one.  If you will click on "Books I've Written", you will find the children's book I have written.  I am going to GIVE AWAY 3 of these books in hardcover, signed by me to your child!

To get in on this GIVEAWAY here is all you have to do:

1.  Click on "Join this site" and enter you information. (No one will see this information!)
2.  Leave a comment on THIS post telling me that you have joined and are entering the GIVEAWAY.
3.  Tell your friends about the GIVEAWAY...The more the merrier!
4.  Check back NEXT MONDAY, MAY 23rd to see who the winners are.  (I will also announce the
     WINNERS on INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK.

Now, a little more about the book.  There is also a version of the book you can download for your child on the I-Pad and it's pretty awesome, if I may say so myself.  You can choose to read it to your child or there is an option where the book can be read to the child.  There are also color and puzzle pages.  This book is perfect for children who love rhyming and there are lots of concepts that can be taught from a learning standpoint.  It is my first book and I am currently working on another book for a little older child but I really hope that you will join this GIVEAWAY so you can share this book with your little one!













OUR TRIBE IS ABOUT TO INCREASE...AGAIN!

OK, so I have been holding out on you but only because I was sworn to secrecy.  OUR TRIBE will be increasing yet again in late November as Justin, Sarah, Parker Ann and Lila Kate will add a new baby to their family!
And what's more...They have decided not to find out the sex of the baby this time around!  That will be a first for all of us since that hasn't happened since I had my kids.  How excited we are to add NUMBER 8 to our BIG, FAT SOUTHERN FAMILY!!!

Cute Clothes Trump Poor Golfing Skills EVERY DAY!

Well, although I have been in Miami for a week now, I have not been able to find a minute to spare to write.  I've been up to my eyeballs in golfing and I'm not going to lie to you...it has broken me down like a cheap suitcase!

Imagine the scene:  Three seasoned golfers (and by seasoned, I mean having played golf at all during the last 20 years) taking me...a girly-girl who doesn't care much for the heat unless there's a pool nearby...golfing for three days.  I'll just tell you right now it isn't a pretty sight.

Day one found us getting up early to head out to the golf course.  I can't tell you how many holes I played because I skipped so many.  And around hole 14, I HIT A WALL.  Yep...there was no food in the cart, it was hot and we didn't get finished playing until 3.  Didn't eat until 4.  It wasn't a good day for me.  
                     
Don't I look absolutely thrilled to be there?!  And this is BEFORE we started playing.  I refused to take another photo afterwards because I looked like I had been in a war zone.
                                               
The course was beautiful, however, all sorts of creatures kept trying to join me in the cart.  I think this little fellow just sat by the water to laugh at the humans who hit their balls in there.
                            
                                                         I think these babies wanted food.
                           
    I heard somewhere smoking a stogie while golfing helped your game; it was worth a try!
                     (NO...I'm not really smoking.  It just looked like a good photo opp.)
                                                                            

Day two found us getting up to meet our fishing guide at 7 a.m.  CRAP!  But I was prepared for Day two.  I had food, drinks and some reading material...I was set!  I actually caught the first fish...
                       
And then settled in for a nap.  And read some.  And ate.  All in all, it was a much better day for me.
                        
  
                                             
That night, however, I had to plan for the next day's golfing adventure.  First and foremost, I was going to dress cute.  Because dressing cute trumps EVERYTHING ELSE.  Next, I would make sure I had some food in that cart so I didn't hit the wall again.  And finally, I was determined to either play a scramble with Hubby or only attempt to play nine holes.  As fate would have it, deciding to play only nine holes would not be an issue as I learned what "turtle-back" green were (sigh...).  ALL of the greens on this course were humped up and hills...thus the name "turtle-backs".  I'll admit it was pretty frustrating but the weather was nice and cool because of the wind AND I knew when to throw the towel in for the day.  After nine holes, I sat in the cart and read a magazine I had picked up in the ladies locker room.
                                        
See how cute my outfit is?  And if you look closely, you can see that I'm wearing matching earrings too!
                               
 
After our second day of golf, I didn't feel like was a better golfer but I felt like I had survived better that day.

We had one day of golf left and I was pretty much done.  Let's face it, one day of golf for a non-golfer is a lot.  For everyone involved.  However, I must say that everyone in my group was very encouraging and positive.  Heck, someone had to be positive because I sure wasn't!

The plan for me this third day would be the same; I would not push myself to the point of frustration or exhaustion.  The weather was still windy and nice and we decided to play later in the day, teeing off at 2 p.m.  THIS, I found did the trick!  It was later in the day, I had eaten two meals and actually had the stamina to play 17 holes.  OH...trust me it started off rough again for me, but as the afternoon went on I found I didn't actually HATE golf any more.
                          
                 Here I am, picture taken before our round, rockin' my cute golf outfit for the day.
                           
                           
This was STILL the best thing I had seen all day!  I felt like singing that song, "I Will Survive", but changing the words to "I Did Survive".

Our friends left Tuesday morning and I woke up and stepped out onto our balcony to this beautiful view...
                          
                                       It was either going to be a beach or spa day for me!

No Really...I'm NOT An Athlete

I'm good at quite a few things, however, sports is not one of them.  And quite frankly,  I don't care.  I never played team sports growing up, only took the minimum, two years of physical education in high school, was the worst tennis player in my college tennis class and I never...NEVER attempted to join an adult women's sports team after I was married.  Once, a friend approached me at church when I was young and asked if I would like to join the women's softball team.  I stood there for a moment, I'm sure looking at her like she had just grown a third eye,  when my husband laughingly interjected, "Have you seen my wife play softball?!"  Now, you might think that hurt my feelings a bit but I'm here to tell you that it absolutely did not.  I could care less if I'm good at sports.  Truth is, I really don't care about them at all.

Now that you understand where I'm coming from concerning sports, you might imagine my total surprise when Hubby announced that we were going back to Miami again this spring (yippee, yahoo!) and our friends were also coming with us for the first part of the trip (awesome!) and that we were going to fish for peacock bass again (yay!) and...play golf (WHAT?!).

Once upon a time (about 20 years ago), I took a few golf lessons; I never really played much.  Why?  You've got it...I'm NOT an athlete.  Hubby bought me a set of golf clubs a few years ago.  I went to the driving range once to hit a few balls.  Why?  Well, I never really intended to do much golfing because it's usually either too hot or too cold or basically because I AM NOT AN ATHLETE (And, I've decided too lazy to play...Golfing is hard work!)  SO...Hubby decided that I would take a few golf lessons before we left for our trip; a crash course, if you will, in golf.

He signed me up and I attended 3 lessons last week.  I got ready to leave the house in my yoga pants and flip-flops and was told that there was a "dress code" for golf (ugh...are you kidding me?!).  I changed clothes. On Saturday afternoon, Hubby said, "Let's go out and play a few holes".  Now this would be the test.  Because not only am I not an athlete, I'm also a complainer when it comes to attempting to do something I'm not good at.  That, along with my smart mouth (Hubby's words),  does not generally make for much fun on the golf course.

The first several holes we played, I must say, were pretty rough.  Oh, I can hit the ball; I just don't like taking instructions on how to make my game better.  OK, I don't like to take those instructions from my husband.  There...I said it.  As I said, it was pretty rough UNTIL...he learned to "speak my language".  You see, he would tell me where to stand,  how to move my feet or how to swing the club and I totally did not understand what he was trying to tell me.  And then he said the word, "Tempo".  Ahhh...NOW he was speaking my language and my ears perked up and opened up!

It was truly an "Ah-Ha Moment!"  You see, I'm a music person and I understood the word tempo and exactly what he was instructing me to do.  I started swinging the club better and found that my attitude actually improved.  Do I think that I'm capable of playing 18 holes?  Absolutely not.  And playing 18 holes twice in one week?  That's laughable.  Am I signed up to do it?  YEP!

        I've decided that if you can't play well, you might as well LOOK as though you can...

Updating the House

We have lived at our current address for about 11 years now.  And after 11 years, apparently, it is time for a few updates.  While we were out of town the last time, Hubby had the painters come in and repaint my bar, the stairway hall,  all of the bathroom cabinets and re-stain my exterior doors.  Last week I had another surprise update, which was to remove the granite countertop on the kitchen sink side of the room and replace it with a new under mount version!  A while back, we also added a few more outdoor lights from Bevelo down in New Orleans.  I was super excited to have all of these things done but mainly because it wasn't my idea but his!


I love my under mount sink!  Whenever you wipe the counter down now, you don't have that ledge around the sink that catches everything.




I was never able to find an entry light for my front door and finally 11 years later I found this one at Bevelo and am SO happy to have something hanging from there now!
We previously had 2 fans hanging out on the back porch and we also changed those out with these lights from Bevelo.
Here, you can see the other lights we purchased from there a couple of years ago when we completed out back yard renovation and pool house.  These lights fit in perfectly with the French Country style of our home.




And now we continue the updates since we are about to leave town for 12 days...yes, you heard me right 12 days!  (But that's for another post...)  Anyway, the current updates we will be working on are a little more complicated and require a little more work, both on the part of the contractor AND us.  It all started with Hubby saying (And I totally agreed) that we needed to replace the carpet in our bedroom.  Well, of course, I was all for that and even picked out and AWESOME one.  However, then I began thinking about all the work it would take (aka:  the mess it would make) for us to do that.  All the furniture in our room would have to be broken down and moved AND the floor in the closet would have to be totally cleaned out (which isn't a bad idea...just something I'm not fond of tackling...EVER) in order to do it.  Well, I pondered and pondered this idea and the carpet is ordered and we are waiting for it to come in.

NOW...the real big project that I had NO idea Hubby was thinking about is the refinishing of our antique, pine hardwood floors.  It took FOREVER to put these floors in whenever we originally built the house but WOW was it worth it.  I absolutely loved them.  And them there was the house fire incident.  Yep, while we were moving in without even all of the boxes unpacked we had some people out here sealing our brick floors again.  They placed a highly flammable liquid near our commercial oven (whose pilots lights stayed lit) and BOOM!  There was so much damage that EVERYTHING in the house had to be redone; painting, granite replaced, carpeting, duct work AND the hardwood floors and brick floors had to be refinished.  We hired a floor restorer out of Baton Rouge to come in and refinish both the wood and brick floors.  I'm not going to lie; this was a pretty dark time for me.  We had been building this house for months and then to have to start over and wait for several more months was awful.  So, in saying all of this, I have never really wanted to have much done to the house again, whether for fear of something happening again or just not having the energy to deal with it.  But now...as we speak...the floor finishers are here.  They are sanding a small portion of the floor and preparing it for stain samples so I can decided what color I want to go with this time.

The dark color of stain I originally chose has grown old to me.  Oh, it's not that I don't like it because I do.  It is beautiful the day it is mopped but then you can see every footstep and piece of dirt on it and that drives me crazy!
Here is the current color of my floors now and as you can see there are cracks that need to be filled in and the finishers will do that with the sawdust from the sanding process.  It really is a pretty neat process if you've never seen it done.
Here is the small section that was sanded this morning and you can see there are two stain samples on there right now.  I like the one closest but think it's a little light.  The one in the middle is too close to the one I already have.  Tomorrow morning they will return with another stain that is in between these two and I'm pretty sure it will be the one I choose.  I want something this time that shows more of the grain of the wood.

So, there ya go!  We are well on our way to a freshened up house.  Once the floors are done and everything is put back in place I will be happy...because the floors, after all, are a pretty big project in and of themselves.  I'll post an update whenever all of this is done.  And now for that 12 day trip I will be taking...When, where, with whom and what I will be doing.  Tune in tomorrow for all of the details!

Easter With MY BIG, FAT, SOUTHERN FAMILY!

I love Easter time.  It is when the weather turns warmer, the birds begin to sing and I can hear the frogs serenade me outside my window every night.  It's also a time when school is out for a week and all the kiddos head home for Easter weekend.  This year was no different and boy did I have some fun stuff planned.  What I didn't have planned was that nasty tummy bug that got all of us (ugh...).  However, we didn't let that keep us down for more than a day or two and we were back in business for a Fun Family Easter Weekend!

The original plan had been to dye eggs on Good Friday and have Holli's birthday party festivities on Saturday.  Due to us being sick, we had to move everything to Saturday.  NO PROBLEM!  We waited until later in the afternoon (Thank you, Daylight Savings Time...) to boil the eggs and get the dye ready.  In the meantime the kids got to play with sidewalk chalk and chase butterflies...
 Beckett brought his butterfly net and bought Holli one for her birthday.  These two ran around chasing butterflies for quite some time.

 And everyone...Big and small enjoyed playing with the sidewalk chalk.  Someone drew this hop-scotch for the kids to play on.
                                                    Lila Kate even got in on the drawing...
                                                           Live played on the slide...
                                       While Holli and Beckett had fun swinging together.
After dying Easter eggs, every kids could be found with nothing on but a diaper or underwear.  These are the pictures that they will try to hide from us when they are teenagers (He-He!).
                        You might lose the clothes but don't lose the bow for goodness sake!

                    Hair bows and necklaces...They've still got the really important things on!
 And the little babies?  Well, Grayson pretty much just sleeps right now.  He's wearing a cute little outfit that used to be his daddy's on this particular day.
And Andrew?  Andrew was simply enjoying the warm weather here in Louisiana.  He put his shades on and took his shoes off!

Sunday morning found us all rushing off to Easter Sunday church service and then back home for our Easter fish fry.  Hubby always makes sure he has been fishing and has plenty of fish tucked away in the freezer just for Easter Sunday.

After lunch, the kids were ready to hunt some Easter eggs.  This year we hid both boiled and plastic eggs.  I decided that it would be fun to give each kid a specific color of plastic candy egg so they could look for their color without anyone else all the eggs up.
   Here they are filing out of the house with their baskets, chomping at the bit to find their eggs!







                       And then it was time to crack some of those eggs open and eat them!


And, as if we weren't having enough fun already, Aunt Sarah bought 2 dozen Confetti Eggs for the kids (and adults...) to crack on each others' heads!


                                           I'm so glad we took this picture the day before...

                           Because I knew that Sunday the picture taking would look like this...
                            Turn around, Beckett...Look up Holli...Oops, you're blocking YaYa...
                         Get up, Beckett...Hey, where are you going Holli?  Everybody look here...
                                  Hey, Hey, Lila Kate is on the move...Where are you going?
OK, just look here...snap, snap, snap...OK, Mom, I took a bunch so you can decide which ones you want...

It was a wonderful Easter; stomach virus, 17 people, chaos and all.  Our BIG, FAT SOUTHERN FAMILY celebrated the resurrection of our Lord and that is what Easter is really about anyway.  Family Fun is just a bonus.  Christ First...Family Second.