Saturday, December 28, 2013



Wow!  What a week this has been!!  
Ami, Brian and I went to get Larry last Saturday afternoon and brought him home.  Finally.  We had a wonderful Christmas that was jam-packed full of activities, fun and love.  I thought I'd show some pictures from our first amazing, incredible week at home.

Ami and I tied yellow ribbons to every tree in the front yard to welcome Larry home.

We stopped off on the way home Saturday night to change clothes and saw this huge cow at a nearby Dairy Queen.  We just had to pose for a picture!

Sunday, we went to church and then out for lunch with our pastor, his wife and daughter.  Afterwards, we went and got our tree!

We had so much fun decorating our tree!  I think it's the most beautiful tree I've ever seen.

Christmas Eve, Larry and I hosted a little family get-together for my mama, daddy, Ami and Brian.  Ricky, Audra and Lizzie stopped by on their way to another family party and I was so happy to see them and to finally introduce them to my Larry.

Larry got me a record player for Christmas and it was so nice to listen to Christmas albums again!

Tabbie Hoffman struggled a little getting used to Daddy being around but now he's Larry's best buddy.  He follows him around the house and swats at Larry's feet when he walks by.  It's really so sweet.  Here we are opening his present from Aunt Ami and Uncle Brian.

Ami made us a beautiful framed depiction of our journey, every town we've been in, every road we traveled to get to this day, with a red heart right on Warner Robins.  Home.  We will treasure it always.

Christmas Eve, Larry and I opened all but one of our gifts to each other.  Here he is opening a GI Joe Vietnam Combat Engineer (which is what he was over there) I bought him 12 years ago and saved for his first Christmas home.  He also got a new phone and a new stereo for his truck.  Santa was real good to him this year!! 

 Tabbie Hoffman's loot from Santa!  :)

New ornament for our tree this year

We've been out to eat several times, gone to see the new Hobbit movie in 3D, been shopping...just normal every day ordinary stuff and we LOVE it!

Friday, we went to Wild Adventures and just had the best time!!  They went all out for Christmas, with lights and decorations and activities and we got to enjoy them all!  Larry even got me on a few rides, after he dragged me on kicking and screaming.  :)


Here we are at the Tigers of India show.  Larry bought me that little stuffed baby giraffe after we rode the safari train.  Her name is Gigi.  :)

We saw a beautiful performance of the Miracle of Christmas that made us both cry. 

 Us at the very top of the Ferris wheel.

This picture pretty much says it all.  It was taken in my parents' front yard Christmas Day.  We are so, so happy to finally be together!  We are also so grateful for the outpouring of love, good wishes and prayers that our friends and family gave to us during this amazing week.  We love each and every one of you!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Playing Santa

Andrea and I delivered the gifts we'd collected for those children at the substance abuse facility yesterday.  What a wonderful experience that was!  This is my trunk, about half of what we collected.  We had split the loot Monday night at work and agreed to meet in Macon yesterday at noon and drive over together.

The first thing I noticed about the place was how beautiful and peaceful it was.  I guess I expected some clinical white concrete building.  I don't know.  I really don't know what I expected, never having been in a drug rehab place before.  I just know I definitely didn't expect a beautiful homelike building with river rock trim.  I didn't expect it to look so cozy inside either.  Sure, there was a reception counter where we had to sign in as visitors but there was also a huge Christmas tree in the foyer and delicious smells coming from the kitchen/dining area.  After all, though, we did get there at lunch.  They were having ham and scalloped potatoes.  Some of the girls who live there call it a prison.  Well, it's the prettiest, nicest, cleanest, most peaceful prison I've ever seen.  And, trust me, I've seen 'em.

Most of the children were either in daycare or school so we didn't get to meet them but we met all of the moms and the administrator told them who we were.  They'd already been told what we were doing.  They were all so thankful and appreciative and a few of them came up to me and personally thanked me, hugged me and one of them handed me her baby!  The one-month-old boy that I also sponsored (I ended up sponsoring three children!) and I was so happy to meet him!  :)  Now I know who's going to wear those warm teddy bear pajamas that I bought.  Andrea and I really got attached to these children the last three weeks and we were so excited to see this baby and the little two-month-old baby boy who was also there.  He stayed asleep the whole time, though, no matter how hard I tried to wake him up!  He was not at all interested in hearing about Santa Claus.  

We unloaded our cars and completely filled up their conference table.  The door to that room stays locked so our secret is safe.  Santa will be delivering our gifts on Christmas Eve, just as he should.

We left a disposable camera for Christmas morning pictures.  I sure hope they remember to take them!

Those girls are blessed to have that second, third, fourth, hundredth chance and to be able to keep their children there with them.  I've been praying for them all ever since I heard about them but now I can put faces to their names when I ask for strength and courage for them to defeat the monsters that hold them.  

I left there feeling really, really good.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


That's how many rings I counted in the stump of a red oak tree that was cut down yesterday between our yard and the yard next door.  It was right on the property line so we both claimed it.  I sure raked a bazillion leaves from that tree over the past ten years!  Three years ago, though, it got struck by lightning and if you were reading my blog then, you know that I thought it might have been those kids next door hacking at it.  That's what it looked like to me.  Since then, though, we discovered that it was indeed struck by lightning and was dying a slow death.  Our neighbor had a tree surgeon come out and look at it and he told us that the tree was no longer able to soak up water or nutrients from the ground and because it was so huge (70 feet!), it may take 8-10 years for it to die completely.  

We agonized over it for two days, trying to decide what to do.  We are both 
treehuggers and are very, very tenderhearted when it comes to any living thing, really.  Trees, raccoons, squirrels, we've had lots of those three to share our yards (and sometimes attics!) with.  We didn't want to cut the tree down but we didn't want it to continue to suffer either.  It was still making green leaves and acorns but we were told that they grow from nutrients in the outer shell of the tree.  The outer shell is the last to go.  I just hope we made the right decision.  

Here it is yesterday when the guys got here.


And here's what we have today.  I cried my eyes out over this tree yesterday.  I was so, so sad.  Ami sent me a Pinterest board of tree stump preservation ideas for sentiment's sake.  I think I want to make a planter out of one and put some pretty flowers in it in the spring.  Larry and David have a lot of chopping and splitting to do and then that sweet old tree will keep us warm this winter.

The spot where it stood.  It looks so strange out there now.

I think the first tree I ever loved was a tall, skinny pine that stood on one end of our front yard when I was a little girl.  My brother and I called it Tree Tree.  We played in the straw around that tree, we ran to it, rode our bicycles to it and Tree Tree always served as second base when we played any kind of ball. We loved that old tree!  I remember the first time I rode my bicycle to Tree Tree.  I was so proud when I turned around and saw that Daddy had let me go and was standing in the driveway!

I found this quote that I just love.

Love the trees until their leaves fall off and then encourage them to try again next year.  (Chad Sugg)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Remember that time it was December 8th and I didn't have a tree up yet?

Yeah, me neither.  

It is killin' me not to have a tree up!  I've seen so many beautiful Christmas trees on my Facebook news feed and of course, Mama and Daddy, Ami, Debee, every-dang-body has gorgeous trees!  While it's killing me not to have one up yet, too, I am determined to wait on Larry and wait on that live one I've wanted for years.  It'll be worth it.  I think.  I hope.  :)

I have decorated for Christmas, though, and wrapped most of my presents.

The sweet little rosy-cheeked family from Taproot 

 A few things I thrifted this year.  
I am so happy to give them a new home and a new life!

I have three Nativities but this one had never spent Christmas outside the box.  
I thought this year was about time.

Aren't these vintage Christmas kitchen towels adorable?!
Have I ever mentioned how much I love Etsy?

My friend and coworker, Andrea, and I discovered that there are ten children living with their recovering moms at a drug rehab facility in Macon and that they are probably not going to have much of a Christmas.  So we decided instead of doing a Secret Santa thing at work, we would involve the guys in playing Santa for those children.  There are five of them who are just babies, aged one month to a year old.  They really just need clothes and diapers.  The rest are ages three to thirteen years.  I'm sponsoring a little 5-year-old boy who only asked for a Lite Brite.  So Santa's bringing Jeremiah his Lite Brite along with a book that I hoped would encourage him and a stuffed Snoopy to cuddle.  The guys have been really, really sweet about choosing children to sponsor and donating money.  We've gotten so much that we were also able to fix a stocking for each child filled with coloring books, crayons, stickers and a little bit of candy and every child is getting packs of much-needed warm socks.  The babies are all getting clothes, diapers, wipes, bath stuff, toys and new pacifiers, too.  And the older children are all getting the toys they asked for.  I am so excited about this!  I can't wait to deliver everything to them. 

Oh Santa Claus, I still believe in you
There's still a kid inside of me that still believes you're true
Oh Santa Claus, the kids are tucked in tight
It's time to play ole Santa Claus tonight
(Santa Claus (I Still Believe In You) - Alabama)

Kickin' off Christmas

Our Maw was smiling so big down at us today!  My cousin, Debee, and her husband, Ben, hosted our Hall family Christmas at their home and we had a blast!  Great food, great conversation, beautiful Christmas decorations (three trees!) and oh my goodness, lots of laughs.  My face hurt from laughing so much.  When I was growing up, we always had Christmas Eve at Maw's house.  Always.  Nobody missed it.  They knew better but better than that, they didn't want to miss it.  Debee has been so sweet to host our get-together the past two years.  I didn't get to go last year but I went today with Ami and Brian.  Here are some pictures from our day!

 One of Debee's three gorgeous Christmas trees

Debee made some awesome sausage balls, Ami made brownies and some delicious ham and cheese sandwiches on those yummy sweet Hawaiian rolls, I made buffalo chicken dip and Rice Krispy treats, we had pigs-in-the-blanket, a pumpkin roll, Christmas cookies and cake.  Everything was SO good!

A tradition my mama started is the Ornament Swap.  You bring one, you get one.  I got two!  A beautiful gold bird and a glittery red bow and since I don't have a tree up yet and won't until my hubby gets home on the 21st, I decorated myself!  And then all the girls joined in!

 Here's the whole gang, complete with Ruger and Lucky!

We just had the best time!  I hope we do this every year.  Maw would just be tickled if we did.

After we left Debee and Ben's, Brian, Ami and I went on an adventure (possibly our last for just the three of us!) to Bolingbroke to piddle around in the antique shops there.  We got there and discovered that we had JUST missed the Christmas parade!  We got some awesome pictures of this old fire truck all decked out, though.


We found a couple of treasures here!  Ami added a new globe to her collection and I got an antique Saltine cracker tin that I've wanted forever.

 These little cuties met us at the door!

This yard made us want to come home and decorate some more.  Wow!


And we all just loved the old Methodist church. 

Brian spotted some mistletoe down the street and we walked down to try to get some.  It was so high up in the tree that you very nearly would have to climb the tree to get it.  I had to have some!!  Larry will be home in 13 days!!  And it's Christmas and you gotta have mistletoe at Christmas.  I saw some very close to a low-hanging branch wrapped in vine and I thought I could pull that vine down and that would pull the branch down and I'd have it.  Nope.  Vine snapped in two.  Dang it!  I was struggling with it when the owner of the shop came over to see if he could help me.  Mr. Jerry Schmitt pulled the branch down and I held it while he got the mistletoe!  What a sweet man!  He and his wife were closing up by that time but they stayed open and were so gracious to us.  That's that small town thing, you know.

We had such a great day!  A wonderful kickoff to Christmas!  Which will be here in 17 days and Larry will be here in 13!!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

But for the grace of God...

I'm more than a little surprised to find myself not uncomfortably stuffed tonight.  It's Thanksgiving, right?  The one day a year we have tables of food and eat until we can't move, right?  We had the food, believe me, but I don't have one picture to show you.  We had it all, though.  Turkey, ham, dressing, gravy, green beans, zipper peas (my favorite!), Brussels sprouts, sweet potato souffle, corn, potato salad, pumpkin and sweet potato pies, chocolate and pumpkin cheesecakes, brownies, banana pudding, you name it, we probably had it or my mama could have whipped it up for you right quick.  I had a small plate and didn't even finish that and I brought my dessert home for later.  It may be because I'm sick with a sore throat/cold, I don't know, but I just didn't feel like being a pig today.  Thanksgiving is not about the food anyway, although we always have a feast.  It's about being grateful for what you have and who you have.  I am grateful for so many things in my life.  One of those things is this sweet baby girl right here.  

I regard every single thing as a gift from God, even if it's just a good parking spot at work.  And even if it's something I don't like, and that's tough.  I try to see it as a lesson I need to be taught, a trial or weakness I need to overcome.  I posted this on Facebook yesterday and it pretty much sums it all up.

I am thankful for a God who loved me so much, He couldn't let me go; I'm thankful for my husband who loves me, seeks God in all things and is my absolute ROCK; I'm thankful for my parents who gave me life and for their continuing health; I'm thankful for my sister who is also my dearest friend; I'm thankful for my brother-in-law who couldn't be more of a brother to me if he was my flesh and blood; I'm thankful for a job that I love, finally; I'm thankful for my family and my friends who love me even at my most unlovable and I'm thankful that in three weeks from Saturday, my beloved, sweet, adorable Larry will be sitting in his leather recliner!!

Ami gave me this framed Peace on Earth world map today.  I absolutely love it.  We are so fortunate, so blessed, to live in this big, plentiful, beautiful country, where we can take a day (or two!) off work and gobble 'till we wobble, where we can spend the weekend buying Christmas gifts for our loved ones and come home each day to our warm, cozy homes.  We are the minority.  Tonight, let's give thanks for being put right here, right now, and let's DO something about it.  As we head into the Christmas season, my challenge to you is to try to find someone you can help, someone whose life you can make a little brighter.  It's easier than you think.

Let our hearts overflow with thanksgiving.  (Colossians 2:7)

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Last March, my friend, Brandy, mentioned getting an issue of Taproot magazine in the mail and since then, she's mentioned it a few times and has really enjoyed it.  I've ordered a few toys for Christmas from Nova Natural in the past week or so and I decided I'd give Taproot a try.  I chose Issue #2: Paths simply because I liked the cover and I've been through it several times this weekend and I'm still reading it.  
I love it!  They're on Issue #7 now so I have some catching up to do!  And there's a 2014 calendar, too!

From the magazine's About page, Taproot is a quarterly, seasonal, subtly-themed collection of stories, poems, photography, recipes, arts and crafts that entertain, educate and inspire its readers to spend more time connected to themselves, the earth and each other.  I just love that!

The Paths issue has so much to absorb and consider!  I'll be reading it a month, I'm sure.  From having a family cow and sometimes school not being the best place for a child to get the best education to sweet little canning labels and birthing babies the natural way.  I've always been enamored with The Farm, the caravan that brought them all there, the peaceful, self-sufficient way they've lived there for over forty years and the gentle way they bring babies into the world.  I'm really studying that story, Brandy!  ;)

I think my favorite thing about the whole magazine experience has been Phoebe Wahl's Wandering Through The Seasons watercolor prints.  I'm going to find a pretty frame and display them in our home with the changing of the seasons.  They are so beautiful!  And the sweet little rosy-cheeked family looks a lot like Brandy, Mike, Willow and Roan.  Phoebe needs to paint some more and add a wee baby girl to the family since Laurel Mae is here now.  :)

Taproot is not a traditional magazine.  It has no advertising, it's beautiful cover to cover and there's no silly filler content.  Every word is deep, thought-provoking and inspiring.

Paths are one part free will, one part fate.  (Meredith Winn)