Thursday, August 30, 2007

Show Me the Love

And I will show you Chris an Christina! But first, here's your puzzle:

Have a Seat Jigsaw PuzzleHave a Seat Jigsaw Puzzle

Chris and Christina met when they were kids at the Carrollwood Skating Rink owned by Chris' parents. Tonight I shot their engagement pictures there and it was so much fun to reminisce with them. They share a very tender love and were so affectionate that I didn't want to stop shooting. Chris has aced this romance thing. He took her all the way to Ireland to propose! Thanks for sharing the love with me tonight and I am looking forward to your Love Feast
. . . er . . . wedding in October!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Koi Jigsaw PuzzleKoi Jigsaw Puzzle

My friend, Christian, raises Koi Fish. They are too lovely for words!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Catching Up

Troll Rock Jigsaw PuzzleTroll Rock Jigsaw Puzzle

I'm back after spending a vigorous day shooting a wedding on Saturday with Jen Davis in blistering Mooresville, NC, then sleeping off the entire summer last night. I left a picnic early yesterday so I could take a little nap to recharge and recover from a headache. I laid down at 7:30pm, woke up at 2:30am, ate a bowl of cereal, and went back to bed and slept until 9:45 this morning!!! Unbelievable! I haven't been supine for that length of time since 1994. I should post up some wedding pictures, but my computer has been tied up all evening, and if I start editing now, I won't be able to stop. . ."Help! I'm photoshopping, and I can't stop!" So, you get a picture of this quirky rock sculpture instead. We discovered the "Troll Rock" on a trail 2 years ago at Rock Castle Gorge on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This picture of the one-eyed toad rock brought to memory the Troll Rock.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Picture Time Tonight!

Night Rider Jigsaw PuzzleNight Rider Jigsaw Puzzle

I spent last week playing with my sister (and a wide assortment of other friends). She astounded me by keeping up the pace; a challenging feat for the healthy body, but even more so for a battered cancer survivor! Congratulations, Janet, and here is a slideshow of all the happy memories.

Just in case one slideshow isn't enough, here is another one of Rebeca and Josh's wedding. Congratulations, to you, as well, and happy ever after!!

The Resurrection of Erma Bombeck

I started off this day the usual way: cup of joe, my daily puzzle (hello all you Jigzone fans!), and reading my email. Michelle sent me a link to this item on eBay: "LOT OF POKEMON CARDS THAT MY KIDS TRIED TO SNEAK BY ME." How interesting could that be?!?!? So. I clicked on the link which led to a whole morning of snorting, chortling, and laughing right out loud. This gal actually sold those cards for $142.51!!!!! I have reprinted her entire description of this eBay item for your pleasure, and when you are finished, go check out her blog like I did and spend the rest of your day laughing, too!

"I'm selling a bunch of Pokemon cards. Why? Because my kids sneaked them into my shopping cart while at the grocery store and I ended up buying them because I didn't notice they were there until we got home. How could I have possibly not noticed they were in my cart, you ask? Let me explain.

You haven’t lived until you’ve gone grocery shopping with six kids in tow. I would rather swim, covered in bait, through the English Channel, be a contestant on Fear Factor when they’re having pig brains for lunch, or do fourth grade math than to take my six kids to the grocery store. Because I absolutely detest grocery shopping, I tend to put it off as long as possible. There comes a time, however, when you’re peering into your fridge and thinking, ‘Hmmm, what can I make with ketchup, Italian dressing, and half an onion,’ that you decide you cannot avoid going to the grocery store any longer. Before beginning this most treacherous mission, I gather all the kids together and give them “The Lecture“.

“The Lecture“ goes like this…

MOM: “We have to go to the grocery store.”

KIDS: “Whine whine whine whine whine.“

MOM: “Hey, I don’t want to go either, but it’s either that or we’re eating cream of onion-ketchup soup and drinking Italian dressing for dinner tonight.”

KIDS: “Whine whine whine whine whine.“

MOM: “Now here are the rules: do not ask me for anything, do not poke the packages of meat in the butcher section, do not test the laws of physics and try to take out the bottom can in the pyramid shaped display, do not play baseball with oranges in the produce section, and most importantly, do not try to leave your brother at the store. Again.”

OK, the kids have been briefed. Time to go.

Once at the store, we grab not one, but two shopping carts. I wear the baby in a sling and the two little children sit in the carts while I push one cart and my oldest son pushes the other one. My oldest daughter is not allowed to push a cart. Ever. Why? Because the last time I let her push the cart, she smashed into my ankles so many times, my feet had to be amputated by the end of our shopping trip. This is not a good thing. You try running after a toddler with no feet sometime.

At this point, a woman looks at our two carts and asks me, “Are they all yours?” I answer good naturedly, “Yep!

“Oh my, you have your hands full.”

“Yes, I do, but it‘s fun!” I say smiling. I’ve heard all this before. In fact, I hear it every time I go anywhere with my brood.

We begin in the produce section where all these wonderfully, artistically arranged pyramids of fruit stand. There is something so irresistibly appealing about the apple on the bottom of the pile, that a child cannot help but try to touch it. Much like a bug to a zapper, the child is drawn to this piece of fruit. I turn around to the sounds of apples cascading down the display and onto the floor. Like Indiana Jones, there stands my son holding the all-consuming treasure that he just HAD to get and gazing at me with this dumbfounded look as if to say, “Did you see that??? Wow! I never thought that would happen!”

I give the offending child an exasperated sigh and say, “Didn’t I tell you, before we left, that I didn’t want you taking stuff from the bottom of the pile???”

“No. You said that you didn’t want us to take a can from the bottom of the pile. You didn’t say anything about apples.”

With superhuman effort, I resist the urge to send my child to the moon and instead focus on the positive - my child actually listened to me and remembered what I said!!! I make a mental note to be a little more specific the next time I give the kids The Grocery Store Lecture.

A little old man looks at all of us and says, “Are all of those your kids?”

Thinking about the apple incident, I reply, “Nope. They just started following me. I’ve never seen them before in my life.”

OK, now onto the bakery section where everything smells so good, I’m tempted to fill my cart with cookies and call it a day. Being on a perpetual diet, I try to hurry past the assortment of pies, cakes, breads, and pastries that have my children drooling. At this point the chorus of “Can we gets” begins.

“Can we get donuts?”


“Can we get cupcakes?”


“Can we get muffins?”


“Can we get pie?”


You’d think they’d catch on by this point, but no, they’re just getting started.

In the bakery, they’re giving away free samples of coffee cake and of course, my kids all take one. The toddler decides he doesn’t like it and proceeds to spit it out in my hand. (That’s what moms do. We put our hands in front of our children’s mouths so they can spit stuff into them. We’d rather carry around a handful of chewed up coffee cake, than to have the child spit it out onto the floor. I’m not sure why this is, but ask any mom and she’ll tell you the same.) Of course, there’s no garbage can around, so I continue shopping one-handed while searching for someplace to dispose of the regurgitated mess in my hand.

In the meat department, a mother with one small baby asks me, “Wow! Are all six yours?”

I answer her, “Yes, but I’m thinking of selling a couple of them.”

(Still searching for a garbage can at this point.)

Ok, after the meat department, my kids’ attention spans are spent. They’re done shopping at this point, but we aren’t even halfway through the store. This is about the time they like to start having shopping cart races. And who may I thank for teaching them this fun pastime? My seventh “child”, also known as my husband. While I’m picking out loaves of bread, the kids are running down the aisle behind the carts in an effort to get us kicked out of the store. I put to stop to that just as my son is about to crash head on into a giant cardboard cut-out of a Keebler elf stacked with packages of cookies.

Ah! Yes! I find a small trash can by the coffee machine in the cereal aisle and finally dump out the squishy contents of my hand. After standing in the cereal aisle for an hour and a half while the kids perused the various cereals, comparing the marshmallow and cheap, plastic toy content of each box, I broke down and let them each pick out a box. At any given time, we have twenty open boxes of cereal in my house.

As this is going on, my toddler is playing Houdini and maneuvering his little body out of the seat belt in an attempt to stand up in the cart. I’m amazed the kid made it to his second birthday without suffering a brain damaging head injury. In between trying to flip himself out of the cart, he sucks on the metal bars of the shopping cart. Mmmm, can you say “influenza”?

The shopping trip continues much like this. I break up fights between the kids now and then and stoop down to pick up items that the toddler has flung out of the cart. I desperately try to get everything on my list without adding too many other goodies to the carts.

Somehow I manage to complete my shopping in under four hours and head for the check-outs where my kids start in on a chorus of, “Can we have candy?” What evil minded person decided it would be a good idea to put a display of candy in the check-out lanes, right at a child’s eye level? Obviously someone who has never been shopping with children.

As I unload the carts, I notice many extra items that my kids have sneaked in the carts unbeknownst to me. I remove a box of Twinkies, a package of cupcakes, a bag of candy, and a can of cat food (we don’t even have a cat!). I somehow missed the box of Pokemon cards however and ended up purchasing them unbeknownst to me. As I pay for my purchases, the clerk looks at me, indicates my kids, and asks, “Are they all yours?”

Frustrated, exhausted from my trip, sick to my stomach from writing out a check for $289.53, dreading unloading all the groceries and putting them away and tired of hearing that question, I look at the clerk and answer her in my most sarcastic voice, “No. They’re not mine. I just go around the neighborhood gathering up kids to take to the grocery store because it’s so much more fun that way.”

So, up for auction is an opened (they ripped open the box on the way home from the store) package of Pokemon cards. There are 44 cards total. They're in perfect condition, as I took them away from the kiddos as soon as we got home from the store. Many of them say "Energy". I tried carrying them around with me, but they didn't work. I definitely didn't have any more energy than usual. One of them is shiny. There are a few creature-like things on many of them. One is called Pupitar. Hee hee hee Pupitar! (Oh no! My kids' sense of humor is rubbing off on me!) Anyway, I don't there's anything special about any of these cards, but I'm very much not an authority on Pokemon cards. I just know that I'm not letting my kids keep these as a reward for their sneakiness.

Shipping is FREE on this item. Insurance is optional, but once I drop the package at the post office, it is no longer my responsibility. For example, if my son decides to pour a bottle of glue into the envelope, or my daughter spills a glass of juice on the package, that’s my responsibility and I will fully refund your money. If, however, I take the envelope to the post office and a disgruntled mail carrier sets fire to it, a pack of wild dogs rip into it, or a mail sorting machine shreds it, it’s out of my hands, so you may want to add insurance. I will leave feedback for you as soon as I’ve received your payment. I will be happy to combine shipping on multiple items won within three days. This comes from a smoke-free, pet-free, child-filled home. Please ask me any questions before placing your bid. Happy bidding! :)"

I'm not certain that I can find an appropriate picture puzzle to follow that act, but here is one anyway.
Dog (and Cat) Days Jigsaw PuzzleDog (and Cat) Days Jigsaw Puzzle
It's been 86 degrees in my house just about everyday for the last 3 weeks . . . and that is in the cool, (choke-choke) air-conditioned room. Talk about DOG DAYS!! Today, it blessedly, only got up to 82, so maybe those dog days are finally waning.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Flower Girl Sweetness

Flower Girl Sweetness Jigsaw PuzzleFlower Girl Sweetness Jigsaw Puzzle

Some flower girl sweetness . . .

and a glowing bride.

Just two of the reasons I love what I do!

Monday, August 20, 2007

A View from my World

River View Jigsaw PuzzleRiver View Jigsaw Puzzle

Tonight, I am so tired and cranky!! My house is full of people and It was 86 degrees inside at suppertime . . . and that was in the one "cooled" air-conditioned room!
I appreciate everyone's kind words and prayers for me today as I prepared for Mr. Higgin's funeral. My ringers are soooo amazing. We haven't been together for a rehearsal since May, and they absolutely nailed our selection for the service!

This has to be short tonight. I have to be up early tomorrow to take my sis to High Point to catch the train. Here is a shot I took with Agape's snappy camera last night on Claytor Lake. It's my absolute favorite time of day on the lake when the sun is setting and all the other boats have gone home.

I am Bereft

Blue Bells Jigsaw PuzzleBlue Bells Jigsaw Puzzle

My most ardent handbell fan, supporter, and benefactor passed away this weekend. Mr. Higgins, I am forever in debt to you.

The JoyBell Ringers will be playing for his funeral tomorrow. Please pray for us that we will honor him well.

Warning! Long eulogy, coming; skip if you don't have time!

The following is reprinted from a letter that I sent to Mr. Higgins last year. I am sharing it with you all today so that you might understand what a generous spirit he possessed, and perhaps be enlightened to see the far-reaching and unexpected impact we can make on somebody's life through our kindness.

"Through the ministry of the JoyBell Ringer, you have profoundly enriched the lives of at least 20 home-schooling families. These are mostly people of very limited means who could not otherwise afford a music education for their children. It is a well-documented fact that learning music is just plain good for you! Here is an excerpt from an e-mail that I recently received that serves to underscore the value of music education and ringing in the life of the church:

"So many times churches stress the idea of small group fellowships and here you are providing room for them (the handbell ringers)! Congratulations! Also, while they are with you, they are experiencing wonderful sacred music to treasure the rest of their lives. I just got back from attending the MENC conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was so fun to learn that when people are performing music, and especially when it calls for the use of both hands, there is an amazing thing happening within the human mind. Thanks to MRI imaging, there are now ways to trace how much of the mind is working for a given task, and what parts of the brain are activated. When performing music, there are no less than 7 areas of the brain firing at the same time, and not only that, they are firing back and forth in 7 directions at once, utilizing both the left and right sides of the brain, while passing through the core which is being stimulated to think creatively - out of the box, so to speak. What they have discovered is that musical performers are developing not only artistic talent, but the ability to problem solve and think creatively in all other aspects of life. This means, your church is being doubly blessed with the development of people who will be not only adept at music, but will be huge contributors to all aspects of church involvement. They are learning valuable thinking tools that will enable your church to become all that God intends."

Because of your decision to bless our church and honor your wife, Margo, with the donation of handbells:

Candice and Michelle Jordan were able to participate in the Word of Life Talent Competition, winning first place regionally AND nationally, earning them a handsome scholarship to the Word of Life Bible Institute. Candice applied her scholarship to study at Word of Life in Argentina for a year. What an amazing opportunity for a young lady who is the oldest of 7 children, and whose father was making a missionary’s salary working at Joy Ranch!
One of my young ringers, who comes from an un-churched, broken home, heard the gospel and accepted Christ as his Savior. (It was another JoyBell Ringer that prayed with him and led him to Christ!)
The Bennett family found immediate support and a warm welcome to the community when they arrived here 2 years ago. This family had been through a long series of hard moves over the previous years and were imminently expecting their fourth child when they arrived. The JoyBell Ringer quickly befriended them, helping them to find housing and providing for their needs when the new baby came. Through involvement with the JoyBell Ringers, their children (who did not have any prior musical training) have gained new abilities, leading to a soaring level of self-esteem and confidence, AND they have formed many rich and lasting friendships, as well.
Our church has been able to bless many other area churches, crossing denominational lines with the message of God’s love through the beauty of handbell music.
You have brightened the lives and brought joy to a countless host of infirm, elderly, and disabled people in the local nursing homes and at the Training Center through our regular performances at these institutions. I personally know for a fact that the JoyBell Ringer’s program at Wheatland last December was the single and last moment of delight that my mother –in-law experienced on this earth. She spoke of it frequently until her death.
You have so profoundly impacted, enriched, and changed my life that I am utterly overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude. The first time I ever heard handbells was at First Baptist Church in 1979. At that moment, I found my way to be involved in music ministry (a deep, unfulfilled desire of mine since I am NOT a vocalist, nor proficient on any other instrument.) Since that time, I have grown from being a nervous beginner, to skilled ringer (and even solo-ringer), to nervous, inadequate, new director, to well-trained, proficient director and music educator, and now, highly- capable member of the Rejoice Ringers, and so many children’s beloved, "Miss Charlotte." Teaching these children and ringing in Rejoice are the highlights of my life!! Every week, I get to experience the "magic" of being on a handbell team. My dearest, life-long friends are ones that I have met through my involvement with handbells.
So you see, Mr. Higgins, you didn’t give just a set of handbells to the church. You gave rich treasures of friendships, Christian community, belonging, beauty, music lessons, self-esteem, inspiration, opportunities to explore the world, and even the eternal gift of salvation. Only God knows the extent of the influence your gift has had; Only God can adequately repay your investment.

Friday, August 17, 2007

What a Week!

Fresh Picked Jigsaw PuzzleFresh Picked Jigsaw Puzzle

How many ways can I say EXHAUSTION??
Monday: Drive home from Virginia Beach.
Tuesday: Swimming and Jetskiing at Byllsby.
Wednesday: Hiking and swimming at Hanging Rock.
Thursday: Tubing and Swimming at Pa-Pa's.
Friday: Drive to Bedford, Pick up Agape. Meet Kay for lunch in Radford. Take my sister and kids horseback riding in Ennice. Got to pizza party with exchange students.
And the most amazing thing of all is that my sister, the cancer survivor, has kept up this pace all week!!

Here's some great news: two of my 4H photo class students are winners in the the North Carolina 4H Photo Contest!!!! Congratulations to Katie and Jackie Galyean. You can see their winning entries at these links:

4H People and Places Junior Division Winners

4H in Action Junior Division Winners

Corey is Sixteen!

Buca Di Beppo Jigsaw PuzzleBuca Di Beppo Jigsaw Puzzle
Last week we celebrated Corey's Sweet Sixteenth Birthday at the Buca Di Beppo (and the Embassy Suites and Carowinds) in Charlotte. Corey is such a confident, remarkable young woman, brimming with life, love, and dreams. I am SOOOO blessed and privileged to have watched her blossom from a cherubic baby to the threshhold of womanhood. I look forward to walking the rest of this life with you for my girlfriend.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Ye Ole Swimmin' Hole

Upper Cascade Jigsaw PuzzleUpper Cascade Jigsaw Puzzle

Nothing like a good ole swimming hole when it's 95 degrees! We found the perfect one at Hanging Rock State Park today.

Even though the upper cascade was not deep enough for swimming, it still provided beautiful refreshment.