Monday, June 29, 2009

Baby Laughs Are the Best!

I met Sarah halfway Friday to get Leon from her. As soon as she stopped her vehicle, I jerked the passenger door open to get to my boy. (Hey, it had been 24 days!) To get Leon out of the back seat, I had to pull him and his car seat over the passenger seat. For some reason this amused him and he started cracking up. It sounded like canned laughter. AWESOME! I'd heard a few little laughs before this, but this was the first time I'd heard him out and out chuckle! I loved it! The next day, he was in his swing and I was leaning toward him saying, "Ahhh, BOO!" and he started chuckling hysterically. I would get tickled and laugh at him laughing, then he'd get started up again. Who doesn't love baby laughs?!

This evening I heard Shelbi calling me from the bathroom and this is what I found. (After I told her to quit making him laugh until I got my camera ready. ha ha I knew he'd wear himself out laughing that hard and wanted to be sure I caught it on tape. Sure enough, he got hiccups and couldn't keep laughing. But I caught a few seconds worth. It's all about catching the little moments... for the blogs! lol) I LOVE the sound of his chuckle. Every time I watch it, it makes me smile. SO SWEET! =)

I'm going to post more pictures of our weekend later. I just HAD to get this video on here tonight. Isn't he a doll?!! (He sounds like one, too.)

PS Mallory, keeping this kid is not going to calm your baby itch! Your little itch is gonna feel like a BAD case of poison ivy after you babysit him! ;)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Coming Soon...

Tomorrow, I'll be picking up my sweet baby boy! While Sarah is moving, I get to keep my Leon for 5 days (6 if you count taking him back)!!! Yay! =)

My dad and stepmom are supposed to come see him this weekend for the first time. Last time I had him, my stepmom had cataract surgery and couldn't make the trip. They live about 2 hours away from me.

Doubt I'll get much downloading and blogging done while I have him, but I'll make up for it when he goes home. Until then, you'll have to make do with this shot from three weeks ago.

Now, isn't that sweet?!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Daughter's a Daughter for the Rest of Her Life

June 24, 2006 was a really special day. Not only did I get to watch my first baby get married, I also got to welcome a new son into our family. Mallory and Daniel had dated for two years before getting married, so we already knew and loved him. This ceremony just made him officially "ours." We were so proud that Mallory made a wonderful choice and had NO qualms about trusting her to Daniel. I'm sure her Daddy still gave her the traditional (he'd been the FOB two times before) "Forget about the money, if this isn't 'right,' you don't have to do this," talk that he gave the others right before that walk down the aisle/stairs. However, we would have been totally devastated if Mallory had been a runaway bride that day! LOL All kidding aside, I hope Daniel knows how glad we are to have him and how much we love him as our own. I'm sure Mal will show him this and that will erase any doubts he better not have had. =)

Mallory made a lovely bride and I would say that even if she weren't my baby!

We went to David's Bridal for the "$99 Sale." What a trick! Mallory had already fallen in love with a $600 dress in the brochure, but when we looked through the racks of dresses in her size, she couldn't find it. And this store was packed with brides! She picked out two or three to try on and I added one I thought looked similar to the one she'd shown me online. She went to the dressing rooms, where we were met by one of the many sweet, helpful ladies working there. As the lady opened up a room for Mal and helped hang up the dresses we were holding, Mallory told her about "the dress" she wanted. The lady looked at what we had picked out and told her, "This is it right here." She was referring to the only one I had added to the pile. How cool is that?! Mallory tried on the other dresses before this one, but we knew the minute she zipped this one up--- it was it! Seeing her standing there in it literally took my breath. It also made the fact that my baby was actually getting married way too real. Man, they really do grow up quickly!

Here are the beautiful bride, handsome groom, and all the new in-laws.
Back row left to right: Daniel's parents, Dennis and Judy, and me and Larry.

Happy Anniversary Mallory and Daniel... and many more!
We love you both!
Mom, Dad, and Shelbi

Saturday, June 20, 2009

New (Well, Fairly New) Wheels

Larry and I have been searching for a third car for weeks. The car he's been driving to work is really getting old and so is my van. It seems like he's constantly working on one of them. We needed something newer as a back up car and since Shelbi is also going to college in one year, we got a small car that she can take to school with her. (Next summer, we'll worry about replacing his work car.)

We went out of town yesterday and found an affordable, reliable car, came home and got it financed. Larry went back this morning and picked up the car. We didn't tell Shelbi.

This was Shelbi's face when she first saw it. =) Now, what on Earth could make a teenager girl smile like that?! Only her first wheels... or a boy. Thank God, we got a car instead. hee hee

Nothing fancy, just a 2005 Pontiac Grand Am. Sad, but this is now the newest car we own!

Think she likes it? From the time she saw it until she had to go somewhere? 15 minutes!!!!!

She was gone for over THREE hours!!! Fun times! =)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Lessons in Love

Here, in the South, people don't necessarily have to be related to you for you to call them "aunt" or "uncle." That title can be bestowed on anyone-- from your Mom and Grandma's friends to an elderly neighbor. Larry's sister and I were best friends when I met their Aunt Willie, so it just seemed natural that she became my Aunt Willie. That was close to 30 years ago. How convenient when Larry and I got married, years later, that I was already calling her by her rightful name!

Everybody knows that when you marry a man, you marry his family. Well, I've teased Larry for years that I would have married him just to get Aunt Willie! She was my favorite person in his family! Don't worry---- I don't think that anyone else will be offended if they read this, because I'm not the only one that felt that way. Aunt Willie was everybody's sweetheart! If I could adequately pay tribute to her, you would love her as much as we do. (If Calley had known her, she could have written this for me--- far more eloquently.)

This picture of her sits in my living room, next to my grandparents.
As beautiful as she was here, she was even more beautiful on the inside!

I know very little about Aunt Willie's early years. I do know her mother died when she was very small, leaving three children under five behind. Her brother, the youngest, died in the war in his early twenties. She married Roy, suffered through two miscarriages, and was widowed at around 40 years old. Damage from the miscarriages left her unable to have her own children, but didn't stop her from mothering everyone she had contact with, including my mother-in-law. She helped her sister (Larry's Gammy) raise her six. She and Gammy remained close until Aunt Willie's death in 2005. (Gammy recently turned 95!)

I remember going with Tracey (Larry's sister) and their mom to Arkansas to visit Aunt Willie when I was just a teenager. She lived in a duplex with another older lady, perched atop the steepest driveway I've ever seen and next door was an ice house. The house was small, so when you divided it straight down the middle, each lady ended up with an apartment that resembled a shoebox. From the porch, you stepped into the tiny living room that was barely big enough for the sofa bed, TV, chair and shelves full of knickknacks. The only door out of the living room led into the small kitchen/dining room/laundry room. Yes, all in one tiny room. Head straight through the kitchen and you were in the bedroom. The bedroom had a dresser, hope chest and a twin sized bed. The bathroom was off to the side. Everything was spotless and in its place.
Aunt Willie did not own a car, so she walked everywhere she could. She worked hard, saved her money, and made do with what she had. I remember, as a teen, feeling sorry for her and wondering how in the world she could be so cheerful and content without a family of her own and in such meager surroundings. I never imagined that so much could come from someone with seemingly so little to offer. That's when the lessons began, or at least when the first seeds were planted.

For Aunt Willie, there was no distinction between immediate and extended family. From her sister, to her nieces and nephews, to her umpteenth cousin twice removed, they were all simply family. She loved every single one, kept in contact with each, and even sent birthday and Christmas cards to each family member recorded in her address book. This was not a perfunctory gesture! She made special trips to town, on foot, to hand pick those cards, buy those stamps, address them by hand, and get them in the mail at exactly the right time. So, even though she sent those cards to everyone, when you opened yours you felt loved by her. I don't know how she made everyone feel like we were special to her, but she did.

Eventually, the time came when Willie needed to be closer to family. While she still kept her own house and could work circles around people less than half her age, she didn't have family in Arkansas (except for a few older cousins) that could drive her to get groceries or to the doctor and walking long distances gets hard when you're near eighty. I was elected to go to Arkansas and help her start the process of packing up and transferring over 70 years of her life. It was probably the first time I'd ever spent time completely alone with her and I loved it! I loved it even more when she was finally in the same town with us.

For the remaining ten years or so of her life, Aunt Willie became one of my best friends. =) It may sound funny when I say I fell in love with this old girl, but that's the only way to describe it! It was like opening a gift and finding another grandparent! (Maybe, even better because I knew that she didn't have to love me. =) There were so many sweet moments with her. I told her often, "Aunt Willie, you're one of my favorite people on the planet!" She would reply, "You're one of mine, too." To which I'd always fall out laughing and tell her that she was the only person that had ever said that to me. Sad, but true. LOL

She insisted that my mother-in-law bring her to my grandfather's funeral. Although, she'd been to my grandparents a few times over the years with me, she didn't know Poppa very well. She came because she loved me. I know this because... standing by the grave, during the quietest moment of the entire service, she looked over at me, and loudly proclaimed, "Penny, I love you." Of course, with her hard of hearing, I had to yell, "I love you, too, Willie." I'll remember that moment with fondness, and humor, forever. ;)

Aunt Willie showed genuine appreciation for every kindness shown to her. Right after she moved here I became her ride to church every Sunday. She insisted on paying me for gas and would stick it down in my purse when I refused to take it. Even though I reminded her that it was on my way and wasn't costing me a dime to pick her up, we went through this scenario weekly, until Larry suggested I stop "fighting" with her. I made sure she didn't see me drop that $5 in the collection plate during services. ;)

Although Aunt Willie attended church faithfully and, unfailingly, tithed her small Social Security check, she never "preached" a sermon. She didn't have to-- she lived compassion, love, humility, and trusted Jesus daily. She forgave any wrong ever committed against her and I never heard her dredge up old hurts. If someone in the family spoke ill of someone else, she was quick to find at least one thing good to say about that person. At her graveside, I shared these things about her and how we should all emulate Christ like Aunt Willie did.

The last year of her life, her health and mind started to deteriorate quickly. Anesthesia during gall bladder surgery started the downhill slide. In the ICU, recovering from the surgery, she was confused and kept asking the same questions over and over. When the nurse asked her if she knew me, she said, "Well, yes, that's Penny _________! I've known her all my life!" I was so touched that, in her confused state, she remembered me.

Her body and mind never fully recovered from that surgery and she ended up having to go into a nursing home. My heart was broken every time I visited her there. Two or three weeks later, she fell and broke her hip. In the ER, she kept crying out, "Jesus, help me" and asking us to pray for her. In all her pain, confusion, and fear, she didn't forget where our help comes from.
A few days later, my mother-in-law asked me to ride over to the hospital and check on Aunt Willie. It was late in the evening and I was tired, but this was for Aunt Willie so I obliged. She kept asking me, "What are you doing out so late?" (The clock over her bed read 8:30 and she could see the darkness through the blinds.) I kept answering her, "I came to see you." Each time she would giggle with glee and shake her head in wonder. She never understood how much we all loved her and couldn't figure out why anyone would drive so "late" to see her!

Aunt Willie had that effect on everybody! To know her, was to adore her! I honestly don't know anyone that met her and didn't absolutely love her. When Aunt Willie passed away four years ago, Bro. Paul gave a beautiful, touching eulogy that only comes with a personal relationship. He cried through the whole service! How precious to affect people that way! People that had been estranged from the family for years attended her service. One of them said, "Aunt Willie was always the peacemaker in the family." I ponder that statement often. Even after death, her lessons live on.

Blessed are the peacemakers, but oh how blessed are their families, too!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I've added a lot more pictures to my new photography blog and will be adding even more soon. Don't forget to look over there by clicking here. To see more of my sweet Leon click here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Picture Project

I think I bought this clock right after Leon was born and I just now got all the pictures in it. I didn't realize how much time it would take to pick a recent picture of 12 people, b & w them, crop them, and download them to Then I would pick up my one hour photos, come home, and realize that the wallet size was too small, the 4 x 6 too big, the next one was too dark or too light, etc. I now know how Goldilocks felt. *Sigh*
Finally, after several days, this is the finished project.

That is until I take a more recent shot that I like better. I think it was worth the effort, though. I kind of like looking at my kids/grandkids every time I walk into my kitchen. =)
Someone asked what I was going to do when the next grandchild comes along. (You know, since there are only 12 holes in my clock. 6 kids + 6 grandkids = 12. Neat how that worked out for me, huh?) Anyway, my answer was, "The next kid that has a kid gets bumped. Grandkids trump kids." Not really, but it sounds good. ;-)

PS Now my kids and grandkids are in birth order and clockwise. Debbie is number one and on down the line. Cute, huh?
BTW The clock is available at, where else, Wal-Mart. You're welcome.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Look Who's 30!

If you've read previous posts, you already know I met my husband and his family a long time before we became a couple. In fact, Stephanie was two weeks old when I met him for the first time. If you want to read more about that, click here.

In this picture, Stephanie (on the left) is 3 years old. Her "original" sisters, Debbie and Leslie, were 5 and 5 months old, respectively. Yes, Stephanie is a middle child with all that that entails. lol

I took this one the weekend after Christmas. Here are the "original three" again. This time Leslie is on the left and Debbie on the right. Steph is in the middle-- right where she belongs. =) Don't you just hate photogenic people? JK

Here she is with the whole gang. Between us, Larry and I have six girls!

In birth order from left to right: Debbie, Stephanie, Leslie, Mallory, Sarah & Shelbi.

Since I've known Stephanie almost her whole life, I can share a little bit about her. hee hee She was a funny, precocious kid. Always on the go from the time she learned to crawl! She still is, but not quite as busy as she was then. She was as curious as Mason, her five year old, and was always in to something. She was also fearless like him and still is, to a smaller degree. ;) She has a VERY high tolerance for pain, too. (Does not take after her daddy on that one! lol) Once, while riding her bike, she broke her arm and did not shed a tear. Her daddy didn't believe it was actually broken until they did the x-ray at the hospital. Steph is now a proud mom to two boys and one girl. While Mason acts the most like her, Noah is her look-alike, and Harlee inherited her blonde hair. They're all different, but all are smart, cute and funny. Not unlike Stephanie, herself. Stephanie is probably the most resilient out of our girls. Whenever life knocks her down, like it does all of us at some point, she gets right back in the saddle. If I could only use one word to describe her, I'd have to use spunky. =)

Happy 30th, Stepper!

We love you,

Penny, Daddy, Shelbi,

(& Noah, Mason, and Harlee)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Better Late Than Never!

My photography blog, Footprints Photography, is now up and running. Why did I name it "Footprints?" My favorite poem is "Footprints." (If you're not familiar with it, please google it.) I feel like God has carried me through most of my life's journey and I'm trusting Him to carry this part, too. We'll just see where this photography things leads. Anyway, aren't our pictures our way of preserving the "footprints" we leave behind as we take this incredible journey? That's the connection I made.
Coincidentally, (if I believed in coincidences, but I don't) I "googled" a long lost teaching friend today that I haven't talked to in at least four years and was lead to her photography blog. I left her a comment and then proceeded to finish building my new blog. Before I published the first post, I had a follower. Guess who? Yep! my old friend, Valerie. How awesome is that?!
Now, go here to read more about my "hobby" and see my pictures, or just click on Footprints Photography on my blog list. Maybe, one day I'll learn how to make a button. There's always hope. ;)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Let the Summer Games Begin!

In our small area, summer always starts at the ballparks. These are some pictures of a few of the first games of the season. This is Mason's second year of tee ball. The runner behind him almost passed him up. LOL

After three years of tee ball, this is Noah's first year with the pitching machine. Doesn't he look serious? Shelbi is in her 12th season of softball. She started at 5 years old. Now, she can only play one more year. =( I'm NOT into sports, but I do enjoy watching my child and the grandkids play.

And here is their biggest fan. I'm serious! This girl can cheer! and she'll sit there and watch the whole game!


Monday, while Stephanie worked, we kept the boys. Poppa and I took them, and Shelbi, to see "Up" and they loved it! Even though, it made some of us cry. Mason, our hyper child, actually watched the whole thing! Because of this child's usual inability to sit still for more than FIVE minutes, this was our first attempt at watching a movie in a theater.

Shelbi just made it back last Thursday from a week long trip to Disney World and Universal Studios with her friend Ashley and Ashley's family
where she bought Leon his first souvenir tee shirt and, of course, Mickey Mouse ears. We saw him Tuesday and tried them on. Isn't he a doll?

We kept Noah, Mason, and Harlee Wednesday and today. We attached a new sprinkler to the hose and they loved it!
Shelbi wouldn't join them and wouldn't even pose for me. Teenagers! Her Daddy had to help me out! =)

This is Harlee shivering. I love the way the water is sparkling in the background.

The boys head to their Daddy's tomorrow for the week and Harlee to her Dad's for the weekend. So after lunch tomorrow, things should be quiet for a few days. Since Larry has to work nights Friday through Monday, it'll just be Shelbi and me until Tuesday.