Thursday, December 31, 2015

Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs...

I've been finding the cutest signs to put up in our house!  It all started with the vintage PB&J one I found with our sweet friends, Mike and Brandy, in Juliette when we met at the Whistle Stop Cafe for lunch, oh wow, THREE years ago now.  We were in one of those little shops there and I saw this sign and loved it.  It was $12.  I only had a ten on me.  I sweet-talked the shop owner a little bit and got it for $10.  :)

Rhiana gave me the purple peace sign and I loved it from the start!

This little Hole Sweet Hole plaque belonged to my dear neighbor and friend, Gladys Farrell, when I lived at the condo.  I was able to get it at her estate sale after she passed away.  I will treasure it always.

One of my favorite sayings!  I'm always blessing somebody's heart.  Ha!

 Nothing is safe in this house!  Not even the thermostat!

My favorite Bible story, aside from Jesus' story, of course, is the story of Naomi and Ruth.  Such a sweet story of love and loyalty.  Where you go, I'll go and where you stay, I'll stay.  Just a simple statement Ruth made but it was oh so powerful.

The laundry room even has a few!

Truer words have never been spoken.  We know we are blessed to be here in this place right now, to be together, to be FREEEEE.  We are having the time of our lives, the life we always dreamed of, and we owe it all to God.  He gets all the glory!!

A few over the tub in the master bathroom.  I still lovelovelove that mermaid Larry got for me at the famous T. S. Chu's last summer.

Our master bath has a beachy theme so this anchor was perfect.

This one over the back door sums it all up. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

From home to home and heart to heart...

We had such a wonderful Christmas!  THREE Christmases, actually.  Larry and I had our Christmas at home on the 23rd and opened our gifts to each other.  This was our tree before!

All I asked Santa for this year was cookware.  Pots and pans.  That's all I wanted.  I had my heart set on The Pioneer Woman's set that Walmart carries.  In turquoise.  With the cast iron skillet.  Larry got it for me months ago.  Along with the cute rolling pin and matching salt and pepper shakers!  And Stephanie wrapped the rolling pin and shakers for me when she was here.  I love it all!!  Mama and Daddy gave me a matching Pioneer Woman skillet and Ami and Brian gave me two of Rachael Ray's pans.  I am SET!!  I threw out all of that old scratched Paula Deen stuff I've had for years.  Yay!!

I'd also been lusting after a Pyrex casserole dish at an antique store here in town and dang if Larry didn't get it for me!  It has been there for at least a year and we look at it every time we go.  A rare 1971 promotional Moon Deco.  I've always called it the Olive Pyrex.  :)  It looks more like a black olive to me than the moon!

We spent Christmas Eve with Rhiana, Juan and the girls and on the way to Atlanta, we ran into some horrible weather.  Heavy, heavy rain, black-as-night sky and tornado sirens blaring.  We drove right through a tornado warning and outran the tornado by about 15 miles.  It was really scary.  I started crying and Banjo started shaking.  Larry pulled us into a gas station parking lot where we waited it out, along with a bunch of other folks who had the same idea.  We prayed the whole time, praying for Jesus to calm that storm!  The rain let up and the clouds parted and we even started to see a little blue sky!  We made it to Atlanta safe and sound.  I believe in the power of prayer and although I talk to God every day, all day, sometimes you have to stop and focus on what's going on at that moment and pray specifically for what you want and need Him to do.  It works.  I promise you, it works!!

Juan and Rhiana had everything decorated so beautifully and we so enjoyed all the excitement that only Christmas Eve can bring.  We had our traditional spaghetti supper (Larry's mama's recipe) and we adults got to bed around 2:00 AM.  We had a great time waiting up and trying to catch Santa for Elizabeth, who is eight and hearing "slappy" stuff (her words) from the kids at school.  We caught Santa on video right there in their living room so there, slappy kids at school.

Larry loved having his grandgirls all over him on Christmas Eve.  They played games and read stories and made wonderful memories that will last all their lives.

We had a last-minute Christmas Eve surprise that kinda just fell into our laps Thursday morning and we were so excited for the girls to see it!  It's a KidKraft Majestic Mansion dollhouse, complete with an elevator and a garage.  They LOVED it!!

I got the sweetest, most thoughtful gifts from Rhiana.  This handmade ornament hung on Larry's family Christmas trees for fifty years.  I am honored to have it hang on ours now.  She also gave me some of her grandma's recipes, a bottle of her favorite perfume and some scarves she wore.  Miss Corrine (as I called her) has been gone ten years now and I miss her every day.  She was the best mother-in-law a girl could ask for.

They also gave me this beautiful Venezuelan apron (I LOVE aprons!) and a vintage Pyrex orange juice carafe! 

We left Atlanta around 11:00 and headed home to unload and pack up again to get down to Oglethorpe for Christmas #3!  We had Daddy's delicious chili with Mama's Martha Washington candy.  It's not Christmas without Mama's Martha Washington candy!  I can't remember a Christmas when I didn't have it.  Or the roasted pecans that Mama makes for me every year.  Even in constant pain with a messed up disk in her back, she still made sure we had all of our favorites for Christmas.  She's something else.  I got a cute top and a gift card to Old Navy and my skillets.  I am a happy, happy girl!!

I got to meet my new great-nephew, David, too, born on December 18th.  He's a tiny little thing but he'll grow soon enough and be running around with his sisters.  Ami took this beautiful picture of Mama feeding him.  I just love it.


I'm a great-aunt times THREE now and a Gama to THREE.  I am so incredibly blessed.  Baby Charlie had a great first Christmas full of smiles and bottles and naps.  :)

And let's don't forget, I'm Mama to TWO.  Tabbie Hoffman was really, really happy to see all those gifts gone.  He has a new favorite spot. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Knowledge is power!

I am a strong believer that learning is a lifelong experience.  Get as much education as you can, whenever you can.  I kinda regret the years I did nothing but work and live my life when I could have been in school somewhere learning and collecting degrees.  Going back to school was one of the best things I ever did!

Sooooo, when I had the opportunity to take a Georgia Tech OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) course at the campus here in Warner Robins, I jumped on it.  There were six classes and we finished up the last one today.  These classes were so much fun!  We learned so much, experienced so much (playing the part of a Safety Specialist at a simulated badge manufacturing plant was a hoot!) and I can't wait to take all that I learned back to my F-15 family. 

This was a wonderful opportunity for me and I'm so thankful my training supervisors sent me through the course.  It wasn't cheap.  Tuition for each class was a whopping $875 so that means Robins Air Force Base paid over $5,000 for me to go.  That's a huge investment in me and I plan to give them back the most positive return for their efforts. 

The six classes I took were Standards for General Industry, Industrial Hygiene (that one was my favorite!), Machine Guarding, Accident Investigation, Safety-Integrated Process Improvement and this week, Ergonomics for Work-Related Musculoskeletal and Nerve Disorders.

We were given binders for each class as well as the 2015 1910 OSHA regulations guide, along with highlighters, pens, pencils and page markers.  We all received certificates with the Georgia Tech gold seal for each class and we'll receive the official framed one at our graduation ceremony at the base on January 20th.

The Georgia Tech faculty, which consisted of engineers and researchers, was knowledgeable, friendly and they made the classes a lot of fun.  We even went on a field trip!  During our Machine Guarding class, we went out to the base to do a walk-around safety inspection and were able to identify a few hazards and to give them praise for some things they were doing just right.

My head is full of all sorts of things and ways to keep my folks safe and free from danger and injury.  Tearing down and rebuilding airplanes can be a dangerous job.  We have injuries out there nearly every day.  I hope to be able to sort through my notes and thoughts and be ready to do my own version of OSHA training with them after the first of the year and together, we can create a safer and healthier place to work!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Uncle Jiggs

Me getting a life lesson from my Uncle Jiggs
It's been a pretty sad week around our house.  My Uncle Jiggs passed away suddenly last Thursday, after a very successful surgery.  We are all devastated and have gone through all the emotions -- shock, sadness, anger, sadness again.  We're not entirely sure things went the way they were supposed to at the hospital following his surgery and we have lots of questions about his care (and lack thereof).  None of that will bring him back, of course, but still, we wonder and we question and we cry anyway.  He was a good man, my mama's oldest brother.  He was very honest about his feelings (sometimes too honest!), he was funny, he was loving in his own way and when he loved you, you knew it.  I knew he loved me.  He was so proud of me when I went back to school to learn something completely different from anything I've ever known and then when I got a job turning wrenches on F-15's, he was so tickled.  I have a lifetime of memories of Uncle Jiggs and I will cherish each one.  I remember him coming out many icy mornings to help my daddy get our country well going again.  Uncle Jiggs was always there when you needed him.  He would give you his last dollar if you needed it.  He was also very blunt; "curt" the pastor who preached his funeral Sunday afternoon called it.  Curt.  Yeah.  That's a good word for it.  He was a man of few words, a private man, very independent and very stubborn.  I loved him dearly and I will miss him terribly.  I will never drive over the Flint River without thinking of him or walk into my mama and daddy's living room without seeing him sitting in that chair.  He was one of a kind. 

An old friend posted this picture of him on Facebook from some 20 years ago, laughing while he tromped through muddy river water.  I absolutely love it.  I imagine he's camped out on the river bank in Heaven already.

James Lawrence Clark
February 9, 1946 - December 10, 2015

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Gettin' ready!

We spent the weekend getting ready for Christmas!  We got our tree Saturday and put out the blow molds we've collected here and there at estate sales and yard sales.  We put lights on the porch, decorated the tree and got a few presents wrapped.  AND I think we finished our Christmas shopping!

We got a 7-foot Fraser fir that's a little slimmer than we usually get and I love it!  It's so much easier to get around. Larry gave it a fresh cut when we got it home.  We got one of those Christmas tree funnels, too, and that'll make it much easier to keep water in the pan.  

The Super Fabulous Schneider Christmas Tree of 2015!

The first time I've ever had a porch tree!  I think it's so cute.  I saved some of the big tree's trimmings to go underneath it.  Maybe I'll get that done tomorrow.

We still have lights to put on the trees and some for the top of the porch but it looks like a Christmas wonderland out there!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Welcome December!

This year seems to be passing us by at amazing speed, huh??  I haven't been updating my blog much lately but I have a good reason, I promise.  I've just been living life!  We had a wonderful family Thanksgiving at our house, with Mama, Daddy, Ami, Brian, Miss Dale, Kyrie and Alita joining us, Juan, Rhiana, Elizabeth, Emma and Baby Charlotte for turkey, dressing and all the trimmings.  Ami made Mama's famous dressing this year and it was absolutely delicious!!  Larry and I roasted the turkey again in our Oster roaster and it turned out just as juicy and perfect as last year.  Again, don't follow the instructions that come with the roaster.  Get your meat thermometer out and check that bird!  I baked a ham, too, and made Brussels sprouts, sweet potato casserole and a butternut squash risotto.  I took the easy way out with the pecan pie that Larry wanted and I got Wilson's Bakery here in town to make it.  I just couldn't beat their $9.99 price, not even with my Kroger Plus card.  :)  The pecans alone would have been nearly that.  So I had them make that and a brownie pecan pie and both were, well, Wilson's usual stupid crazy amazing good.

We had a group picture made outside with our Tom the Turkey inflatable that we picked up at a yard sale for $7 last summer.  It turned out great.  Lizzy is doing bunny ears over Emma's head and that's hilarious. 

I had the best time with Baby Charlie!  I had a hard time putting her down and then letting her stay down.  She's just the sweetest little thing and I just wanted to gobble her right on up.

I wanted to have a Peanuts-themed Thanksgiving for the girls so I found some really cute plates and napkins and cups and tablecloths a couple of months ago and I also found some Snoopy Thanksgiving stickers on eBay for everybody to wear.  Larry and I found a singing, dancing Snoopy wearing a Pilgrim hat out in our travels somewhere and I bought a little plush Snoopy for each of the girls.  I have some really wonderful childhood memories of the three big holidays and I want that for them, too.

Juan and I took Lizzy and Emma to see the new Peanuts movie Thanksgiving night and that was a lot of fun, too.  It is such a cute movie and I've said this at least a dozen times since Larry and I went to see it, I am SO amazed at the animation in that movie!  They sure don't make Charlie Brown like they used to.  Larry's been collecting the McDonald's Peanuts Happy Meal toys for me, too.  We've got 10 of the 12.  Two to go!  Fifi is my favorite.  :)

I had to get new brakes for my car on Friday (joy joy) and after the girls and I decorated our gingerbread house and my car was done, all of us went and had the Black Friday Family Experience.  Now that we've done that, we don't have to do it anymore.  I hope.  I hate Black Friday.  It really wasn't bad, though.  We just went to Target and Hobby Lobby.  The girls got a toy and I got some ideas for Christmas.

Friday night, Larry and I wanted to give Rhiana and Juan a little break and a chance to get a good night's sleep so we kept Charlie in our room and she did so good!  She slept right through her 10:00 feeding and I let her so she woke up around 2:00, I changed her britches, gave her a bottle and she went right back to sleep and slept the rest of the night, until 7:00!  Such a good baby!

We watched movies and ordered pizza Saturday afternoon and then they got packed up to go home.  We so enjoyed having them and are looking forward to Christmas Eve at their house!

Larry and I have managed so far to get the Christmas stuff down from the attic and into the garage.  I've put up two garlands, spread a tablecloth and we put up a little tree on the front porch tonight.  We have just been so tired this week!  Hopefully this weekend, we'll get a tree and get some lights up zzzzzz snork.

Welcome, December, with your dreams and secrets and whispers and surprises and 77-degree self.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sweet November

Wow, November is nearly gone!  We have had a great month, cleaning out the garage, having a very successful yard sale on the 7th, driving down to Jacksonville Beach to visit Larry's aunt and uncle and getting ready to host Thanksgiving next week!

Our yard sale went better than we had even hoped!  We sold almost everything and what we didn't, we donated to a local church that has its own thrift store. 

I made these signs Friday night and Larry and I went around the neighborhood and put them out!

Saturday morning, we had folks out there at 6:30!  We had Tom the Turkey up early!

It threatened to rain all morning and did sprinkle on us once but I started praying and the rain clouds blew on away from us, the sun came out and it got HOT!!  Thanks to all of y'all who came out to see us and buy our junk!  :)  We had some pretty cool stuff.  And now the garage is empty and I can park my car in there again.  Yay!!

Sweet Cleo
Last weekend, we went to Florida and had the best weekend with Aunt Ruth and Uncle Don.  Larry had not seen them since he was a teenager and I had never met them.  They greeted us at the door with big smiles and warm hugs.  Aunt Ruth had homemade chicken salad and crackers waiting on us for lunch and she made a delicious lasagna for supper.  Then we had brownies and butter pecan ice cream at bedtime.  We were so tired and so dang full but we still got the best sleep that night in their guest bed and then we got up and went to church with them Sunday morning.  I made friends with their cat, Cleo, who has the most adorable black "ink spots" on her face!  She's an old girl, born in Germany about 13 years ago.  When raccoons started eating her food, she found her way to Aunt Ruth and Uncle Don across the street and they adopted her.  Her owners were okay with it so now she's theirs.  And she never has to fight raccoons for her food again!  And she likes to play in Aunt Ruth's hair at night.  :)

They gave us lots of old family photos and told us the stories that went with them.  Like this one of Larry's grandpa, Herb, and his cat, Smoky.

I loved this one of Larry's aunts and uncle, Carolyn, Wilma and Hal, Jr.  I LOVE that Wilma has her eyes closed!  We are kindred spirits.  :)  They were all very talented children and all played musical instruments, were actors and sang.

This handsome boy, Hal, Jr. has such a sad story.  Days after this picture was taken (he's the one on top) and hours after his performance as Huckleberry Finn in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at Jacksonville Beach's Junior Little Theater, he went to his job at the boardwalk amusement park and was killed trying to retrieve a lady's pocketbook from the roller coaster she had been riding.  He was only 15.  I'm thankful for all the photos we were given but the ones we have of Hal are special.  What a smart, talented, handsome, sweet kid.  He died helping somebody out.  So very sad. 

Aunt Ruth and Uncle Don are models, too!  We got to see this Winn Dixie circular they did several years ago.  :)

Sunday morning at First Baptist Church, they voted on their new pastor and we were there to welcome him in!  We made a new friend at church, too, a guy named Zach, who had the most awesome t-shirt on.  It said, "Pirates, Terrorists, Sex-Traffickers.  They need Jesus, too!"  We were immediately drawn to this guy and made fast friends with him, "friending" him on Facebook so we can stay in touch.  He shares Jesus with the homeless on the beach and we think he's just awesome.  If you're reading this, hey, Zach!  :)

We had lunch together at Longhorn and then Larry and I went to the beach!  Lannadoo was going on at the Seawalk Pavilion on the beach and we enjoyed the beautiful Celtic music, the dancing and the arts and crafts festival.  We even saw a guy walking around in a kilt! 

The beach was absolutely glorious!  Windy, with strong waves and a few clouds but I've never seen a beach day I didn't like.  

Now we're looking forward to hosting Thanksgiving here on Thursday with our family and some friends.  When we found out a few neighbors and friends didn't have anywhere to go for Thanksgiving, we invited them to join us.

It's almost Christmas.  Eeeeek!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Be our guest!

We took Stephanie back to the airport Wednesday and we were all so sad!!  We enjoyed our two-week visit so much!!  She was a little under the weather the first few days she was here so she just took it easy, got some good rest and got adjusted to an entirely new climate (and air conditioning!  She wasn't used to that.).  We spent those two weeks showing her some true Southern hospitality and a glimpse into our everyday life.  We never got around to hitting any yard sales but I took a few days off work the first week and we went to a few estate sales and antique stores.  We got her all caught up on "The Walking Dead" (thanks to Netflix!) and she got to try some Southern staples like grits, boiled peanuts, fried okra, fried green tomatoes and barbecue and she got to pick some cotton and hike Georgia's leg of the Appalachian Trail.

Our Banjo and Tabbie Hoffman absolutely loved her!  We knew Banjo would be all over her 'cause that's just his way but Tabbie is different.  Way different.  He always hides under the bed when people come over.  Not with Steph, though.  He was out and stayed out from the first day on!  That is huge for him and we were so proud!! 
He fussed a lot the first night she was gone, too, like he was asking where she was.

Stephanie cooked for us EVERY NIGHT!!  I cannot even express how much I enjoyed that.  She cooked us things that we'd never had, like Sri Lankan Sambar and Borscht soup (Larry remembered it from his childhood but I'd never had it) as well as things like spaghetti, flat bread, stir fry, poached chicken, fish with the most delicious white sauce EVER, amazing salads made from cabbage, mustard greens, beet greens and quinoa and since she's a pastry chef, she baked fresh bread for us and made the yummiest fruit and white chocolate scones and chocolate chip cookies for us.  I swear I couldn't believe all that came out of my kitchen!  We attempted to make homemade butter, too, but the heavy cream I got at Kroger was heavy whipping cream so the amazing homemade thyme and sea salt butter we had planned turned out to be a Mason jar full of plain Cool Whip.  No biggie, though!  We just added some sugar and called it real.  Ha!  It was most yummy on the scones.  Anybody got a cow??  I need some real cream.  :)

One of the things she wanted to do when she was here was go to work with us.  I had class all week but she did get to go work with Larry for the day!


Steph also cut our grass for us, while she was sick!  And since she's a musician, she played guitar and harmonica and sang for us, too.  

Larry wrote another verse to "You Are My Sunshine" that she played and he sang to me.  Awwww! 

She helped him do a little Christmas shopping for me, too, and wrapped my gifts for me so she'll be with us at Christmastime, too.

We took this selfie at the airport Wednesday.  We had a half hour before she had to go through security so we got some coffee and a little breakfast at Starbucks. 

She posted this so long (not goodbye!) picture on Facebook for us right after she got on the plane.  It still makes me cry.  (BUT!!  She ran into Sean Penn at the airport in Los Angeles that afternoon and he told her "cute hat"!!)

After we got back home, we found letters and goodies she'd hidden for us in the guest room.  She left me a beautiful scarf that I cannot wait to wear!  

We love you, Stephanie.  If you ever need a place to land, you know where we are.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


Stephanie Ballendine, our longtime friend from British Columbia, has been visiting with us for a little over a week and we have so enjoyed having her. We've had a lot of fun finding things for her to do and see and showing her some good old Southern hospitality.  For years, Larry has talked about hiking the Appalachian Trail.  He wants to do the entire thing, from Maine to Georgia at some point, so we thought we'd give it a trial (trail!) run and go up to Amicalola Falls State Park this weekend, where the AT actually begins, and hike up there some.  I knew I'd never, ever be able to hike the 11 1/2 miles with my bum ankle and Stephanie is an experienced hiker, having hiked all over the world, so it was perfect that they would go together!  So while they did that, Banjo and I hiked leisurely, taking pictures and sniffing folks.  There were lots of folks there yesterday to sniff!

Amicalola Falls is the tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi.  It is 729 feet high!  The word "amicalola" is Cherokee Indian for "tumbling waters" and boy, do they tumble!

We got there later than we planned because we ran smack dab into the middle of Moonshine Festival traffic in Dawsonville!  But once we got there, we got down to the business at hand.  We walked a little while together, the four of us, and then Banjo and I hung back and Larry and Stephanie walked on.


This was the last time I saw them until they got back around 7:30.

Banjo and I walked a little more and then we decided we'd just drive up to the top.  I highly recommend driving! :)

Here are a few of the things we saw!

And then the view from the very tip top!

Banjo and I hung out at the top the rest of the day, visiting with picnickers and walking some 300 steps down and then back up to get different views of the falls.  Banjo was super scared because the steps are metal and you can see the ground through them.  Bless his heart.  I carried him most of the way until he got used to it and then he started going down the steps himself!  I was so proud of him.  Brave boy!  I can imagine how scary that must have been but he trusted me and followed me.  That's my Baby Banjo!

We went back to the car, shared a grilled chicken wrap and a bottle of water, listened to the rushing waterfall and took a nap!  :)  It was such a beautiful cool day.  

Larry picked up a few things for me on the trail.  He's a keeper.