A glimpse into our family – the good, the bad, and, of course, the funny

Our Own Terabithia September 25, 2012

The king made the decision – they would seek refuge for the night high in the trees.  And so the royal family made preparations to camp perched in the branches of a towering poplar.

They climbed into her branches and peered through the leaves into the enchanted forest.  The queen and her two small children settled in for the long, cold night while the king scavenged for firewood with their trusty Boxador.

He returned with a cart full of freshly chopped wood and built a fire high above the forest floor.  The family huddled around the small fire and roasted their dinner, keeping the aroma of sweet meat in the leafy canopy in the growing darkness.

When the stars began peeking through the leaves to get a glimpse of the royal family, the queen prepared pallets upon which they would slumber.  The king stoked the fire and the queen tucked the small boy and girl into their downy blankets.

The poplar embraced the family with her giant limbs while they gave way to sleep.  The ever-attentive dog kept watch for the wild things of the night…

We had a true Terabithian adventure last weekend – we spent the night in the tree house directly under the stars.  It was all Ronnie’s idea, and the kids were understandably thrilled about the plan.

I, on the other hand, wasn’t really what you would call a happy camper.  It was cold and windy and I was miserable.  We only own two sleeping bags, so the kids naturally got those, so Ronnie and I covered up with rather inadequate (for the circumstances) blankets and froze our butts off.  The cool breeze chilled me from every angle – it had the unique advantage of even being able to get us from underneath since we positioned ourselves in a tree.

Ronnie tried so hard to make me comfortable.  He was really sweet.  He moved my cot closer to the fire and told me he’d be fine if I went to the house.  I couldn’t sleep at all.  I swear every time I closed my eyes, the fire went out.  We spent all night trying to keep it going.  All I could think about were Copperheads.  And when I did manage to doze, I dreamed of fighting off the bears that were trying to eat us.

Sometime in the middle of the night, Ronnie and I were lying there, freezing and resigned to the fact that we weren’t going to sleep, and he said to me, “At least you’re being a good sport.”

“I am?” I asked, a little surprised, but proud of myself.

“Not really,” he answered, “but at least you’re doing it.”

And that kind of summed up the night for us.  I wanted morning to come so badly.

Then, to our surprise, we heard Kendra’s sweet little voice.  “The stars in the trees look amazing.  This is so cool.”  I looked over to see her sleepily enthralled by the view above her.

That changed everything.  Even when she needed to walk all the way back to the house to use the bathroom and get more socks, it didn’t bother me.  I didn’t even notice the cold while we walked.  Well, while I walked and she skipped and chattered about how cool it was to walk in the dark and how amazing nature is.

When we got back to the tree house, I zipped her back into her sleeping bag and she went right back to sleep.  I checked on Max.  He was snoozing happily even though he was completely uncovered.  I felt him and he was  somehow warm as can be.  I zipped him back up, too.

I climbed back in my cot.  Even though we had hours left until dawn, we were out of firewood, and it was getting colder and colder, it was somehow not quite as terrible knowing how much fun the kids were having.

I think they’ll remember it forever.  And we will, too.  And I think we all might remember it as the royal family on an enchanted adventure…


At least lightning doesn’t strike twice…Right? July 31, 2012

It all started with a lightning strike…

Our dogs are contained by an invisible fence.  When the lightning struck, it fried the fence, so obviously, it didn’t work any more.

This meant the dogs could now get to the garden that contains the rabbit hutch, and the dogs seized the opportunity.  I barely saved the rabbits from becoming a snack, and I moved them temporarily to the garage until we could repair the fence.

The fence is finally repaired.  The dogs are back where they belong.  The rabbits are back where they belong (and are enjoying weeding the garden for me again).

However, in the meantime, one of the chickens crossed from the back yard where they are safe to the front yard where they are closely observed by very interested dogs and then to the driveway where they are in the territory of dogs who have felt unnecessarily teased by the presence of chickens just out of their reach.

A dog ate the chicken.

We learned that hamsters are nocturnal.  Ours enjoys running in its ball all night long.  Not that it keeps me awake or anything.

Meanwhile, the goats got sick.  Very sick.  They had awful diarrhea and we had to sanitize everything and nurse them back to health.  “Poop” is not a strong enough word to describe what I scrubbed from their bottoms.  I straddled them backwards while Ronnie held their heads and comforted them while I cleaned caked-on sh*t from their behinds, legs, and tummies.  It. was. disgusting.

They’re better now.

But, Sparkles, our cat, is missing.  We haven’t seen her in several days.  Kendra is out looking for her right now.

So, currently, we have two dogs, six five chickens, two rabbits (thank goodness!), two goats (that was a close one, too), four toads, a tree frog, a hamster, and a missing cat.

Why do we have animals again?



Don’t prop me up beside the jukebox when I die July 8, 2012

I’m not one to dwell on death much.  But it happens to everyone, so there’s no point in never considering it.  I know everyone has unique wishes for their final departure from this world, and most cultures have traditions that preside over funerals or ceremonies.

That’s nice and all, but I don’t want anything extravagant.  In fact, if I could have what I really want, here’s what it would be:

1.  I want to stay home.  Don’t whisk my body away as soon as I croak to some stuffy funeral home.  Just leave me home for a day or two.  Let the people who love me come and say goodbye in my home.  Let my family get used to the idea that I’m gone on their own terms.  This may sound creepy nowadays, but in the old days, this is how they did it.  Granted, I don’t think it’s necessary to lay me out on the kitchen table as was commonly done in old Appalachia, but it wouldn’t hurt to put me on a cot or something in the living room.

2.  I want Ronnie to build my coffin.  And I want my coffin to be a simple pine box.  No cushions, satin, pillows, brass fixtures, varnish or anything else.  I live a simple life.  I enjoy simple things.  My middle name is Jane, for crying out loud!  Plus, building my box will give Ronnie something productive to do instead of sitting around and looking at me lying on the cot in the living room.  It’s better for him to stay busy.

3.  I do not want to be cremated or embalmed.  I want me – plain old me – chemical-free me – to be wrapped in a comfy quilt and put in my plain box and buried.  This is very environmentally responsible.  I will return to the earth and not pollute the ground with toxic carcinogens used in embalming.  Even better, plant a tree right over me.  I’d love to be part of a tree.  Maybe not a fruit tree, though.  That might be kind of weird for whoever eats from it.

English: Oak Tree

English: Oak Tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4.  I don’t want a funeral.  Have a party.  I like cook-outs, not that it matters because I won’t be there either way.  Don’t have a slide show about my life.  Just eat good food, laugh, tell stories about me, and listen to good music.  It would be cool if you played my favorite songs.  Pick the playlist on my iPod that says Spirituals and the one that says Some Favorites.  Trust me, it will be the best non-funeral music ever.

5.  Don’t leave all my stuff just how I left it.  Especially since I never really have things how I want them anyway.  Feel free to clean up the things I didn’t quite get to, to finish the projects that I have started, and to organize those things that clearly need help.  And if I have something you need, you’re welcome to it – as long as it’s okay with my family.


Why we went out to eat tonight after 19 days of eating at home… July 3, 2012

…some days are just terrible.  I had one of those today.  I got home and sat on the couch and cried.  At least nothing could make such an awful day worse…

…then I looked out back and saw this…

…we still hadn’t cleaned up from the last storm (which included a significant lightning strike on one of our trees)…

…and I just needed to get away…

…so after 19 days of planning, shopping, cooking, and cleaning, we slipped into a booth at Papa’s and Beer and tried to unwind…

…we also took the kids to the playground and strategically timed our arrival back home to be after dark so we wouldn’t be confronted by the mess again…

…at least tomorrow is a holiday!


Saturday fun July 1, 2012

Max recently asked Ronnie if we had to work the next day, which would be Saturday.  Ronnie told him no – we all get to spend the day together on Saturday.

Max gave an exasperated sigh.  “When you don’t have to go to work, all you do is work anyway.  And it’s no fun.  And it’s BORING!”

We thought about it, and the truth is we usually do have some kind of project going on the weekends.  So this Saturday, we made it a point not to do anything productive.  I had a few activities lined up for the kids.

First, we painted.  Kendra was especially wanting to paint after I brought a painting home that I did the other night at a friend’s house.  She wanted to paint a beach sunset just like I did.  So we spread all our supplies out on the living room floor (it’s over 100 degrees outside!) and we painted.

Kendra’s sunset at the beach. She did a great job!

Max’s airplane and sunshine.

Max’s zoo. There’s a lion by the tree, a giraffe, an elephant, a penguin, and a bird wearing sunglasses. I love this!

I played along, too.

Then, after lunch, I told them to put their swim suits on for a surprise.  I remember doing this when I was a kid.  It was one of my favorite things to do.  I put the water sprinkler under the trampoline and let them jump and play in their swim suits.  They had a blast!

Of course they bounced on their giant balls, too!

It’s hard to get good pictures when they’re bouncing so much!

Since we spent the day at home, I took the opportunity to get a few pictures around the yard too.

Boy is it hard to get a picture of a chicken. They are constantly on the move! And since I’m petrified of them, I can’t get too close. Yes, getting this picture was an ordeal.

Our goats act just like puppies. They are so sweet!

Oops! Too close, little goat!

Stretched out in the shade on a very hot day.

I ate the first cherry tomato the other day. Delicious!

And the regular tomatoes will be ready soon. I can not wait!

After naps, we went to a Fourth of July cook-out at Grandmom’s house.  It was the perfect finish to a great day.

At their house, we caught 150 lightning bugs to take home to Max’s frogs.

Overall, I’d say it was a pretty good Saturday.  But, more importantly, the kiddos thought it was!


Happy Father’s Day: Here’s 205 Worms June 11, 2012

Filed under: children,family,gardening,Kendra,Max,parenting — mandyholbert @ 7:16 pm
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My dad was going to buy worms for his tomato planter box.  I told him that was ridiculous – we have all the worms he could ever need.  So, Saturday, Ronnie, Kendra, Max, and I grabbed a bucket and hunted for worms for Grampy.

Ronnie, it turns out, is an expert worm finder.  He showed us where the best spots were to find them.  Kendra and I helped point them out, and Ronnie and Max picked them up and put them in the bucket.  We worked for I would guess at least an hour filling that bucket with squiggly slimy worms.

When we finished, I suggested that we all guess how many we had and then count them to see who was closest.  (I know I’m blessed to have such a patient husband.)  Kendra grabbed a piece of paper to record our guesses.

In case you can’t decipher that, Kendra guessed 205, Amanda (she used “A” for Amanda instead of “M” for Mandy so it wouldn’t be confused with Max) 212, Max guessed 15,023, and Ronnie guessed 189.  Please look closely and note the erasure marks on Kendra’s guess.  Please also note that Max has not started kindergarten yet, so clearly he can not be expected to understand the concept of estimation.  He just knew there were a LOT of worms.

When we got to about 100 worms counted, Kendra slyly erased her guess and changed it to 205.  I’m not really sure what her original guess was…

But there were exactly 205 worms!

What a great Father’s Day present for Grampy!  205 worms!  That ought to do the trick for his tomatoes.

I did also get him a new tool he saw on television and said he wanted, but that’s not nearly as interesting as a bucket full of worms.  Don’t you agree?



How does your garden grow?

Filed under: family,gardening,parenting,photography — mandyholbert @ 6:52 pm
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I haven’t done an update on the garden lately, so here’s a few photos I took today:

a bloom on a strawberry plant

a strawberry

the first cherry tomatoes of the season

the grapes are getting bigger

the blueberries are almost ready!

Darth enjoying some pesky kudzu

the laurels are blooming for the first time in years

day lilies

hydrangea bloom

the chickens are getting much bigger

this is a transplant from my mother-in-law’s yard – not sure what it is, but I love it