Friday, December 6, 2013

Baby It's Cold Outside!

It's not even technically winter and we've already had our second snow of the season! That makes for one happy pregnant lady!

Yesterday morning while waiting for the storm to roll in, I started putting the lights on the tree and couldn't resist taking pics of my cute helper.

You all know Roy Boy loves the cold and the snow--in fact before it started snowing and was a brisk 20-something degrees he was outside rolling on the grass and barking at himself with sheer glee. 

Last year Tatum liked the snow, too, but being only 1 1/2 she wasn't as able to express it as she is now. This kid LOVES snow. And does the cold bother her? Not a bit. Yesterday it was again in the 20's and with the windchill was close to the single digits, but this bundled baby was happy as could be outside! It was Mama who decided it was time to go in when I couldn't feel my nose anymore...

It snowed most of the day yesterday, and by this morning we had three gleaming inches of powder to play in. Bonus: Daddy was home to play too!

She tried eating the snow...apparently it is not to her liking...

The Miley Cyrus look?

After taking a little tumble (and being checked on by the Boy)...

Daddy showed her how to make a snow angel.  She was not impressed.

Roy sprinted like a banshee...

We all threw snowballs at Roy because he liked it and tried to catch them (most of the time)...

And we thoroughly wore ourselves out. Here's hoping she'll take a good, warm winter's nap!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Jazzed Up Entryway

When we moved into our house one of the things I utterly did not like was the entryway. 

It was dark gray. 

Dreary, dark, depressing. 

It was the door on the cul-de-sac that girls selling cookies wouldn't want to knock on.

The bottom was chipping badly, frayed and scuffed. The whole thing looked dirty. In fact, the day after we closed on our house the first thing I did was get a stiff scrub brush and scrubbed down the entire entry...with red mud running down the walls. Yuck.

However, since I mostly went in and out through the garage things on the inside of the house were more of a priority to get redone. We put a pretty welcome mat there and called it good.

Last May we finally decided it was time to do something about the entryway. A brand new door was not in the budget, so painting was the obvious choice.

After a lot of paint samples, determining what would look good if we left the rest of the exterior the same (the trim and garage door are gray as well...blah), or if we painted it to our preference (either an almost-white gray or a pale pale dusty blue), we decided on our entry colors.

And we decided to go bold. Hey, it's just a door. We painted it in a day, and if we hated it we could always get a small can of paint and redo it again! Why not take a chance?

So we went with Behr's Jazz Blue for the door and Light French gray for the entry.

Last May, while keeping a weather eye out during a tornado watch, we got the entry painted, and primed the trim on the front door. It was warm, muggy, and definitely not the best painting weather but we took what help we could get! We also changed out the doorbell, peep hole, door knob and deadbolt.

So much brighter! However, summer quickly followed and my outdoor time was taken up by a rapidly growing garden (including out-of-control tomatoes) and not finishing the trim or adding the kick plate.

So FINALLY, over a year and a half after moving into our house, I got the trim done and the kick plate on today. 


Now that's an entry I would want to go right up to! 

Just a refresher, and because I love comparisons:

Before                                                                            After

Saturday, June 15, 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow

But first, here's my spunky girl.

I couldn't resist--can ya blame me?

The garden is booming. Sunflowers are shooting up 6 inches or more a day, I've got a couple dozen green tomatoes on my ten tomato plants, the morning glories are starting to bloom and we're beginning to harvest yellow squash and zucchini. Summer must be here!

Before I show you pictures of my little Eden (which is still not finished flower bed and mulch-wise but that will have to wait), let me take you back before the muddy month of March, all the way back to last summer.

This was our yard then.

One (not level) raised garden bed and a pumpkin vine. And a sad little tomato plant in a pot. We had thrown ourselves into the house and there was little energy leftover for landscaping.

When late February came around I was amped up with seed catalogue and Pinterest visions, and I bravely dug my outline.

Moved the bed...

And then the outline grew again...

And I kept digging. For a month I dug. In icy rain and sunburning heat. Often both in the same day because--hey--this is Oklahoma and we like to be a little crazy.  I tossed out every tiny bit of bermuda grass I dug up. Squashed grubs and carefully transported earthworms (or chucked them into the garden bed).

Then we put our two other beds in, outlined some areas for flowers...

And I planted flower seeds, and lettuce,and carrots, and squash. And lots and lots of sunflower seeds. And put in a few seedlings. And waited...

And covered the plants when it froze. And uncovered them when it rained. Then covered them again when it was freezing rain. And watched some seedlings fry from the never-ending wind.

And then before I knew it the sunflowers were towering a foot over my head!

My flowers are finally recovering from the battering they took in a hail storm.

And this little munchkin is learning "good bugs" and "bad bugs." Although she did squash a ladybug larvae today and we said "sorry" to its poor little body.

And now to indulge myself with some more pics...

This was taken four days ago, when I could still reach the camera up and take a shot of the sunflower head forming. Now it is way too high!

We've had a couple of dinners from our squash, too.  Nothing like cutting it up still warm from the sun!

And these little guys I planted from seed and they somehow managed to survive. This was the first bloom of my coreopsis!

I'm experimenting with morning glories in a hanging basket...they keep wanting to go up and I keep training them back down...we'll see how confused they are by the end of summer!

The peas that had been growing up the trellis have been pulled down, but Tatum still likes playing in her teepee.

So that's where the yard is now. It's not going to win any landscape awards but I am immensely proud of it! I still am amazed that these things came from seeds I stuck in the ground. So simple, yet when I look at the base of one of the sunflowers that is two inches thick, it still astounds me.

That's all for tonight--this tired girl is getting in bed!

I hope you all enjoy your weekend and remember to step outside, listen to the birds, and thank God for being smart enough to start life in a garden.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


First off, excuse the large pics overlapping the edges on the right, but I wanted to convey the sweeping feel of the destruction, and needed the larger size for that.

Here is Part One and Part Two of this little series.

It had been five days since the tornado when my mom, Matt and I headed to Moore with Henderson Hills Baptist Church.  We had our leather gloves and heavy boots, but we weren't really sure what to expect. Personally I wondered if we were really needed. The influx of volunteers had been so great, I couldn't imagine that twenty of us would really make any difference.

On the drive down in the bus we all chatted. But as we drove through the strip of land that had been decimated on both sides of the freeway, the bus fell silent.

Seeing it in person is different.

This was taken from what was the living room of a two-story house.

You can see down the stretch where the tornado ran, because nothing is left standing. Near the fringes, varying degrees of destruction showed on tarp-covered roofs and piles of mangled branches ripped from a tree and shoved into yards.

We parked at the CVS on SW 19th and Santa Fe where a large volunteer feeding station had been set up.  As we ran to use the restroom in CVS before heading into the zone, the pharmacist saw us, ran out and stood to the side, nodding and thanking each one of us as we headed to the bathroom...before we had even done anything!  The gratefulness touched my heart.

A few of the team members (including Matt) got a free tetanus shot from Walgreens across the street and then we began walking into the zone. We neared a house where a man was clearing out debris and asked if we could help. This house was on the outer edges of the main path. The roof was partially gone and damaged, and the backyard was filled with branches, fiberglass insulation, glass fragments, roofing shingles and wire. 

Back and forth, from the backyard through the muddy red clay side yard and to the front yard we carried armfuls of debris and dumped them in an ever-growing pile. I pulled a twisted piece of metal thicker than my arm a foot and a half out of the soaked lawn where it had impaled itself. 

Glass was everywhere. So many tiny fragments. How do you ever pick them all up from the grass? When can bare feet run here again?

My arms started to itch, and then my neck and chest. Fiberglass insulation was not just in cotton candy pieces on the ground, but in the air as well. Making its way into your pores, spreading with your sweat and driving you mad with itching.

We finished taking down the man's back fence, and as we toppled it over he said, "Well, we were going to replace this fence anyways."

Long stretches of wire had wound its way into trees and tied large bulk of debris together. Picking up armfuls of shingles, I found one shoe. A startlingly human reminder in the construction material cleanup we had been doing. Then I found a soaked teddy bear, his head cocked to the side as if to say, "Wha happened?!"

Matt went inside to help move out furniture and came back shaking his head. The rain had gotten everywhere inside, and everything was mildewed. 

When that neighbor's backyard had been cleaned up, we did his two neighbors on either side. Carrying armfuls of debris no bigger than your hand. Sliding in the mud. Tossing it on the growing heap.  When those three backyards were pretty well cleaned up, we moved on.

As we rounded the corner, we came upon the main path the tornado took. And it took our breath away.  One man from our group just turned in circles with his hand over his heart.

Everything was just flattened. There were stumps of trees, and larger heaps where the homes had stood, but the overall look of everything was just smashed. Like a giant had decided to practice the polka there.

We headed down the street and broke into two groups--one searching through the wreck of one house for photos and a wedding ring, the other to help clear debris to get a truck out.

The white Dodge Ram truck only had 8,000 miles on it, and had been parked in the driveway of the house. So much debris had been shoved under it from the force that it was a couple of feet off the cement, and piled on top was the remains of a house. The front windshield was busted in, but amazingly while clearing debris the car alarm went off.  When the door was finally clear, the owner got it...and started up the car! This gives a new level of meaning to their slogan "Guts. Glory. Ram."

Not only did the car start, but when a path over the debris was cleared, they hooked the back of it up to another truck, and the white Ram drove out.

One of the most shocking things to see was a pickup truck on its side, nearly wrapped around a tree trunk.

Want that closer?

Next we headed to a home that had been two stories. I worked in the area that was the downstairs bathroom as we dug for photos and jewelry.  Thankfully we found a lot of photos--wedding pics, baby pics, graduations and birthdays, and some from the 1940's and 50's.

When  I looked down this was what we were sifting through.

It was amazing we found anything at all! Sheetrock was so saturated from the rain that when you tried to lift pieces it just crumbled in your hands.

We pulled out unbroken framed pictures, books, cards, silverware, and some of her collection of bells and squirrel figurines.

While combing through I heard my mom exclaim, "OH!" I looked over and she said, "I think--I think it's...dead? OK, I can do this," and she reached in and grabbed...a wax squirrel. It was the weirdest, ugliest tchochke I'd ever seen, but it meant something to the owner of the house and we were glad we found it.

I also found a small revolver, and when I brought it to the sister of the owner who was working with us she shook her head and said, "Oh no--she wouldn't have anything like that in her house!" Wonder what house it came from...

After awhile working in that house, and lots of cheers for each time we pulled up a soggy photo, we headed out again.

The whole time, volunteers were continually driving by, offering water, hamburgers, snacks, baby wipes, and encouragement from the back of pickups or wagons they pulled around.

We pitched in at one more house where the chassis of a pickup truck was lodged firmly into the front of the house, and somehow a man who had been inside the house and trapped behind the truck was able to get out with no serious injuries.

Talking to a woman a couple of houses down, we found her son's best friend down the street had broken his pelvis and lost his mom.

As it was getting later in the day and getting warmer, most people we starting to head home. Here are a couple more snapshots from walking around.

Then we headed back, ate a hamburger and boarded the bus for home. Because of the horrendous traffic on the freeway, we took side streets miles from where we had worked, and the damage stretched all the way there, too.

When we first headed down I thought, "What's one little team going to do to really help? There are thousands of people volunteering every day?"  After seeing some of the 1,200 homes destroyed and 12,000 damaged, I see that our team did help.

We helped the homeowners get their yard cleaned up a whole lot faster than if they had been by themselves.

We helped a lady recover photos that, a day or two more, would have disintegrated in the moisture.

We pulled out a toolbox for a man who had worked for GM for years, and when he retired they had it specially made for him.

What we did made a difference to those people.

And whatever contribution you make--be it monetarily, your time, your energy, food, or prayers--that makes a difference, too.