Monday, August 21, 2017

Orange Adventure, Part 2

I woke up earlier than Firstborn and caught this beautiful sunrise. 

While we were there, she began to get emails about her upcoming courses. This was an email about Chemistry. We ordered her book right then and there. 

Another blessing we had down at Orange Beach is that Firstborn got up the courage to inquire in a gift shop if they would be willing to sell her art on consignment. They said YES! I was immensely proud of her. It's a hobby for her, but she is very good. I'm glad she found a way to start making a little income with something she loves to do. 

Here are some of the things she painted while we were down there on a rainy afternoon. 

Movin' To MC

We rolled into Clinton, MS, to prepare for move in day. We had a couple of days to do the things we needed to do. Because we just drove one small car, we needed to buy several things there in the town. We spent our time getting her registered at the health clinic, paying her first semester bill, getting her parking decal, and other things to get her all set up.

This is her dorm. 

It was so exciting to me to see her campus! 

The School of Nursing

I really missed CC and my other 4 kids. My friends texted me some pictures of an outing they had with friends! 

We kept our time light and fun, even though we both were saying each day, "It's going to be hard to say goodbye." 

And finally the night before move in day came. We got in the car one last time, crammed to the ceiling (after we had unpacked her and I had ironed all her clothes and put them on hangers). We could not stop laughing at how ridiculous we had looked for an entire week, everywhere we went! 

We curled up in bed one last time. She said, "Mommy, this is our last sleepover night." And then she hugged me. I'll never forget that. 

Orange Adventure, Part 1

Back in the Spring, it was a very low time for me. In a matter of a few days, I had several "heartaches," which I am sure I have shared on this blog. I knew my dear friend would be leaving Turkey,  and I was facing a goodbye that is, honestly, all the more difficult overseas when friends are like sisters. She'd been my sister for 10 years. That same week our sweet kitty was hit by a car. You know how God infused some joy into our family after that. A new kitty! Who was pregnant! During this same time, life began to speed up, and the reality of sending our first child to college was becoming all the more real. So, during that time, I planned a little 3-day trip to Orange Beach, Alabama, for Firstborn and me during our week before her college move-in day. Even the planning was a bright spot during a hard time.

We returned from Virginia, packed the car up, and headed out. We had a good time together as we rolled down the highway. At one point, we saw some roadkill. Firstborn wondered if it might be a monkey. The first of many adjustments to the USA!

We got there in time to catch a few rays on the beach. And we quickly realized that in all our "college packing," we weren't really beach-ready! That night we shared a plate of delicious fish, then went to a CVS across the street to buy some summer clearance beach chairs and towels! The weather had been showing thunderstorms for days. The Lord was so gracious, and we enjoyed sunny skies each day. 

I really had fun taking Firstborn out for coastal food. She'd really never had crab, oysters, and boiled shrimp from the coast. 

She loved it! After we went to Doc's Seafood Shack, we ended up there the next night as well! 

We had no real agenda. For me, it was a wonderful buffer between summer and her college launch. We enjoyed the beach, spotted dolphins each morning, ate seafood each night, and began to talk about college! We even spotted a rainbow! I held myself together, though I was keenly aware that we were on the clock. One night, I saw a man walking with his 3 small girls, all dressed alike. I told him that I had 3 little girls and that I always dressed them alike when they were little. I could see them all in my mind on the beach of Malaysia. I then laughed and said, "But then I had one more girl, and a surprise boy!" He laughed and thanked me for the warning. The warning wasn't for the extra kids; it's how fast they are going to grow. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017


I never attended my Papa's funeral. I was just four, so I stayed home with someone who took care of me. I really appreciated seeing these tombstones before we left.

My Granny, who my youngest daughter is named for, went to heaven just after Big Ben was born. I wanted to come, but was unable to due to the distance, timing, and a new baby. Firstborn quickly assembled a little bouquet of a Virginia wildflower to place there.

I was also unable to come to my Aunt Ethel's funeral and burial. It was our first year in Singapore, and I couldn't make it in time. She was adopted by my great grandparents from the local orphanage and was a big sis to my mom. She was even more special than an aunt to me, as she was my nanny while my mom went back to teaching. I slept with her every night when I lived in Indiana. She loved me like her own. 

I haven't seen Granny's or Aunt Ethel's burial places ever. For some reason, just facing the launch of my own little girl, seeing these provided some closure for me in my own childhood. We will see them again, hallelujah. I've found the one faith where that is never in question.

The entire trip was so very good. I'm glad we did it!

It was time to head home. Time to pack the car for college. Time to say goodbye to summer. Time to head to the beach for a few days, one last girl trip, then on to the college town!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Virginia Visit: Mabry Mill

We made one final stop before we ended our time in Virginia. I really wanted Firstborn to see the Mabry Mill, the most photographed place in all of Virginia. As we crossed over the highway, my dad mentioned that my Papa had helped build that section of road that led to the Mill. Though he's no longer here, his fingerprints are all over this beautiful land.

We just quickly went through the grounds of the mill and took some beautiful pictures.

I left Virginia with a full heart and having spent quality time with family. What more could I ask for?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Virginia Visit: Outdoor Beauty

I really think Virginia is a beautiful state. Every state has its own characteristic beauty, but stopping at this spot, Lover's Leap, took my breath away.

Virginia Visit: Stanley Side

Both my Granny and Papa were from this part of Virginia. So, after visiting the Alderman side, we went to see some Stanley kin. Everywhere we drove, my parents pointed out things my Papa had built. So many of them were churches; it really touched me.

We drove to see my Papa's baby brother. He was 18 years younger and claims my Papa was like a second father to him. He looked so very much like my Papa. I can't tell you how much it meant to me to see him and to see his wife Bitsy. I was 4 when my Papa went to heaven. How I can still remember sitting in his lap and tractor rides, I don't know. But I do.

He took us to see my great aunt Iva. She was precious, and bragged to all the gals in the nursing home, "Isn't this my lucky day?" No, it was our lucky day.

Uncle Lowell is the epitome of a Southern gentleman. A terrible accident involving a jack under a fire truck giving way and crushing his lung, then a crippling reaction to a vaccination would set most folks back. He insisted on opening the doors for all of us ladies. Sharp, witty, and handsome. That's what he is.

My papa built his barn, which still stands.

And then we got to see my great Grandpa and Grandma Stanley's house, built in the early 1900's. My great-grandparents outlived their son, and I spent many vacation days running in and out of this little house. It's funny, but many times when I am reading a book and the story evokes a small country house image, I put the characters in this house. Even this year, the family in the book Jacob, Have I Loved lived in this house in my mind. It's had some fire damage, but I was happy to see it again.

And the spring house. Always cool. Always with a tin cup to get some water. Always full of Grandma Stanley's canning. Always wondering if it might have a snake.

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