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It’s been a rough month…months…how the heck is it June already???  After (finally) moving into our awesome new house, I thought the big stresser of the year was behind us.  Silly me.

Sometime in mid-May, we found out that my father-in-law has a brain tumor.  It’s been a rough ride dealing with doctors and nurses, surgery and rehab, and soon-to-be radiation and chemo.  It’s been one of the most exhausting and frustrating months of our married life.  But more than that, more than all the long nights and tears and arguments and fears, there has been an overwhelming outpouring of love.

Family and friends from all over the state of Texas and beyond have been in and out of Pop’s room since day one.  We’ve taken over waiting rooms and family rooms.  We’ve played Gin Rummy, Texas Hold ’em and Hide & Seek.  We’ve shared hugs and kisses and smiles and tears and lots and lots of food. We’ve played with new babies and loved on old friends.  As a family, our hearts are overflowing with love and gratitude for every prayer, thought, kind word, card, visit, hug, smile, laugh, sigh, and every other act of love you’ve shown us.  Thank you.

For updates on Pop’s condition and to leave a message for him and the family, please visit his CaringBridge site.

makayla poppins

A few weeks ago, I had the joy of picking up my now 4-year-old neice from school.  Since her class gets out at 10:30 and her sisters’ didn’t get out till much later, we had a few hours to kill before going to pick them up.

On that particular day, Makayla wanted to go for a walk.  Since it was pretty cloudy, she insisted on taking Nana’s umbrella with us on our walk – she assured me that Nana wouldn’t mind us borrowing it as long as we put it back exactly where it went.

We walked out the door and, before I could stop her, Makayla took off at a full run down the sidewalk with the open umbrella not above her head, but held out in front of her at arms length.  I swear this child knows she’s hilarious because she was laughing the whole time as she shouted:

It’s blowing me away, Aunt Leslie!  It’s blowing me awaaaaaaaaaaaay!

When I finally caught up to her, she had crouched down on the sidwalk under the umbrella to rest.  I sat under there with her for a while and we perused the pictures on my phone.  I showed her a picture I snapped of her and said, “you look just like Mary Poppins.”  Without batting an eyelash, my awesomely comic neice replied, “I know.”

candy cops

Halloween is one of those holidays that seems to really change for adults.  As a young trick-or-treater, I can remember dressing up as Raggedy Ann, a raindrop, and I’m sure some other girly things like a princess or ballerina.  Then, no one dresses up for Halloween when they’re in high school.  Then of course, once you hit college, Halloween is cool again because you dress up as a sexy cat or a sexy witch or a slutty pumpkin.  Once you graduate, you may have a few adult gatherings to attend, but for the most part, it’s a different animal than it was all those years before.  And since I can tell you’re dying to know, as an adult, I’ve dressed up as Gem and Sprout (to Trey’s Jolly Green Giant – Ho Ho Ho). Since we don’t yet have children, we’ve got no Halloween plans this year, other than to eat chili and pass out cheap candy to whatever poor kids show up at our door.  Also, my beautiful pumpkin that I carved has died.  So we don’t even have that anymore. 

 

One thing I’ve just realized this year is that Halloween is as much for adults as it is for kids…but not in the way I first thought.

 

I have several vivid memories of trick-or-treating with our dear family friends the Rivenbarks.  We’d truck out through the neighborhood being as adorable as possible whilst shouting “trick-or-treat” in the faces of anyone gracious enough to open their door.  But what I remember most is what came after we got home.  We’d all dump out our pillow cases/baskets/plastic pumpkins full of loot onto the coffee table and commence trading Smarties for Dumdums, Tootsie Rolls for Jolly Ranchers…until the candy police came and confiscated all our hard earned sweets.  Dad and Tom (aka Daddy Rivenbark) would swoop in and take all our candy under the guise of inspecting it for needles and other evidence of tampering.  I don’t know what was wrong with people in the 80s, but I’m thirty years old and I’ve never heard of anyone getting a needle wrapped up with their Milk Duds.  Once the dads had carefully probed every peice of candy, and removed anything they deemed “suspicious,” we were free to stuff ourselves silly.

 

It wasn’t until this year, this very week, actually, that I realized that adults look forward to Halloween so they can con their poor unsuspecting children out of all the best candy.  Sneaky parents, very very sneaky.

 

And yes, in a few years, I’m pretty sure Trey and I will be doing the exact same thing.

_ a n g _ a n

I get my love of words from my dad. Spend a week with him and it’s obvious that my joy of reading and writing comes from him. 

Ever since I was little, when my family would go out to eat, we’d always play hangman while waiting for our food to arrive.  Sometimes the words or phrases were easy to guess:  they were written on the menu or were on the walls of the restaurant or were the logo on a tshirt that was in plain view.  Other times, they were almost impossible to guess. 

A month or so ago, Trey and I were out to eat and while we waited for our food, I decided we should play hangman.  Since we were at Chili’s, Trey’s first phrase for me to guess was “baby back ribs.”  Then, with a stroke of genius, I thought of the best hangman phrase ever.  A phrase that was so good, I decided to email it to dad, thus starting a week long game of hangman.  Once he (finally) guessed my brilliant phrase (and no, I won’t tell you what it is), he came up with an almost-as-brilliant word for me to guess. 

In order to keep up my mad hangman skills, we started Tivo-ing Wheel of Fortune. Is it just me, or is it a little creepy that Pat Sajack hasn’t aged since the mid 80s?  And isn’t it strange that it’s not at all creepy that Vanna White hasn’t aged since the mid 80s?  Weird. 

I like the “before & after” category.  They take two comon phrases that share a common word and link them together.  Example:  “The Belle of the Ball and Chain,” “Moisturizing Cream Pie,” “Fairy Dust Mop.”  I love it.

Another sign that I’m getting old:  I’m a Wheel Watcher.

the cork

It started innocently enough.  Childhood curiosity is a beautiful thing.  Really.  It’s true and honest and genuine…and often embarrasing to others.

A few weeks ago, we were on our way back from Beaumont (a 6 hour car ride) in a caravan with Trey’s sister Robin and her family.  On one of our many bathroom breaks, I stealthily snuck a tampon into my front pocket and proceeded to help usher Robin’s girls into the bathroom stall at the McDonald’s.  At some point during the hustle and bustle, Mary Beth, our 7 year old neice, noticed something yellow sticking out of my pocket. 

tampons“Ooh!  What’s that?”  She squealed.

“It’s nothing.” 

Come on, even in the ladies room, we don’t advertise that it’s our time of the month unless we have to. But she wouldn’t let up.  She was reaching and grabbing and making all too big a fuss about the tiny little package.  Finally, I gave up.

“Mary Beth, it’s a tampon.”

“What’s a tampon?”

“You’ll learn about it when you’re older.  Ask your mom.” 

All us ladies had a good laugh about her curiousity in the bathroom. And we thought that was that.

 

It wasn’t.

 

Yesterday, Trey and I spent the afternoon with his family: lunch, a Barbie movie, home made cake and ice cream.  We were all sitting around the table talking, when Mary Beth came flailing her arms:  “What’s this?”

You guessed it.  A tampon.

She’d seen one sticking out of the pocket in my purse and this time decided to bring it to the dining room table for everyone to see.  Since it was the second time this had happened, I jokingly mentioned to Robin that it might be time to have the talk.

So, there, in the dining room, at a table with my mother in law, Trey, 4 year old Bella, and a friend of theirs from church, Robin proceeded to explain to Mary Beth what a tampon is. While the women at the table were getting a big kick out of it, I’m pretty sure Trey was mortified. 

As Robin tried to be honest and thorough in explaining to her 7 year old daughter the changes that her body would inevitably go through, Mary Beth couldn’t keep her eyes of that tampon.  Finally, after about 5 minutes of trying to tell her what a menstral cycle is, we did what any good natured, fun-loving family would do, and we opened up the tampon and dropped it in a cup of water.  Now that (and pretty much nothing that was said prior) was interesting to Mary Beth. 

Nana (Trey’s mom) said it reminded her of one of those washcloths that comes in the tightly wrapped package but expands when you put it in water.  Robin called it “the cork.” 

I’m pretty sure Mary Beth didn’t retain any of the information given to her regarding her impending puberty.  But we sure had a good laugh about it.  Well, except for Trey…who’s really hoping that, when the time comes, we have boys.

beginnings and ends

Grandma HarmonIt’s been a tough week for the Hendon family.  My father-in-law’s mother, known to all her grandchildren as Mamaw, passed away Tuesday night.  I only got to meet her once, about 18 months ago, but even then, Trey says, she was just a shadow of the amazing woman that she once was.  Nursing homes and  strokes always change people.  I think he feels guilty about it, but I know Trey doesn’t want to remember her in that nursing home bed, he wants to remember her at home, where she loved her family and could tell them so.

Last night, as we were lying in bed, thinking about Mamaw and the funeral ahead, I couldn’t help but remember Grandma Harmon.  I remember she used to bake cakes.  I remember the blue house she lived in when she married Mr. Bill.  I remember her big blue eyes and her smile.  I remember her hands.  And her voice.  I can see her walking from room to room.  But now, 12 years after she passed, I can’t think of one specific memory of her, and it makes me sad. 

I absolutely know how Trey feels, because when I try to remember Grandma Harmon, I don’t want to remember her in that nursing home, not remembering who I was or even knowing what year it was.  I want to remember her young.  I want to remember her smile, not the confused, worried look of a woman losing her mind to alzheimer’s.  Death is sad.  And scary.  But with every end, there is a new beginning.  Death exists so that God can bring new life. 

When the wind blows, the world turns, the seasons all pass till beginnings are no more than ends. For death comes from life but then life springs from death.  See how each on the other depends? We are the leaves and the limbs, and we are the trees in God’s wind. ~Paul W. Harmon

pray

It’s been two months since we packed up all our belongings and moved across the country to San Antonio.  We quickly got settled into our apartment; the cats have also (finally) made the adjustment.  We’re slowly but surely getting involved: I joined a women’s bible study with 7 beautiful, faithful women, my only complaint is we just meet once a month; Trey and I are attending our first choir practice at Oak Hills Church this evening; and next Sunday, the 26th, we plan to audition for one of the many community theatres here – they hold auditions for their entire season all at one time (next season includes Xanadu, The Drowsy Chaperone, and Hello Dolly).  However, for some reason, the homesickness is just now starting to sink in.  We miss you.  A lot.    I’m sending you this tiny update in hopes that you will do us a great favor.  Please keep us in your prayers.  More specifically: please pray that we will follow God’s path and trust in His plans for us; and please pray that we can sell our house soon.  We’ve had one showing so far and our (fabulous) real estate agent has two other couples in mind but is playing phone tag with them.  She has also (finally) gotten either the city or the county to fix the alley in front of our house.   If you know anyone looking to buy a house, it’s being represented by B.K. Vernon at Prudential.  Please pass this link on to anyone looking: http://www.trulia.com/property/3050285667-907-Wo-Ezell-Blvd-Spartanburg-SC-29301   Also, please add us to any and every prayer list you have.  We know God has great plans for us. We know he didn’t lead us to San Antonio to abandon us or leave us lonely or bankrupt.  And we know that He loves us beyond measure.   Thank you Friends, Thank you Family.  From the bottom of our hearts, we love you and we pray for you, and we miss you a whole awful lot.

sea bass

Sisters are the best.  Don’t you a gree?  Somehow, God figured out that the person you fight with the most in your childhood days will grow up to be your best friend in the whole wide world.

Amy and I, over the years, have developed some of the most ridiculous and elaborate inside jokes of all time.  Usually, it just takes the first word of one of our many “Muffinisms”  (why yes, I did just invent that word) to leave both of us in stitches.

Funny how time goes by.  Sisters go from trapping each other under the laundry basket, to fighing over clothes and boys, to missing each other like crazy and taking insane road trips (Days-O-Fun).

Now that we’re both grown up and married, our husbands are learning just how ridiculous we are.

Last night, I received this text from Amy’s husband Adam:

California Raisins and Christmas Pie and Amy Grant and a Coffee Table Afghan.  What does this mean?  Amy will not tell me.

And that’s all it took.  I spent the next 20 minutes texing both Amy and Adam (Trey even joined in the fun) regarding the intricacies of our ridiculous childhood games and other inside jokes.  I haven’t laughed that hard in months.  I was wheezing and crying and doing that weird silent laugh…leaving Trey to look at me like I’d gone completely mad.  It was marvelous.

I love that even though we now live entirely too far apart, and that we’re both old married ladies, my sister and I can still be the silliest girls I know…and include our boys.  I love you Muffin!

Oh, and no, I can’t be Michael Bolton.

 

 

funky town

We’ve officially been in Texas for about two months now and I’m handling it much better than expected.  I sincerely anticipated a week or more’s worth of sobbing in the fetal position eating nothing but pudding and mashed potatoes…

Mmm, pudding.

Anyway, that didn’t happen.  What is happening though are isolated instances of the above mentioned phenomenon.  Last night being one of those instances. 

I had a busy day yesterday, well, busy for me.  Trey’s mom and sister came to pick me up around 10am Wednesday morning to go to the June meeting of the San Antonio Women’s…well fooey, it’s either Coalition, Company, Club, or some other C word that basically means  a group.  My mother-in-law, Deb, signed the 3 of us up to sing as the entertainment for this month’s luncheon since it had a Mother-Daughter theme to it.  After the luncheon (which went well, I might add…good food, good speaker), I decided it was time to call Yo Yo Ma and fill her in on last week’s babysitting adventure (AKA: Camp Leslie) and the luncheon.  We had a great talk…but I could tell she didn’t want to get off the phone.  After that I watched Fargo  (gotta love William H. Macy) and waited for Trey to get home.  I could feel the funkiness creeping up on me by this time, so we went to Whataburger for dinner (dude, there’s no Jack-N-the-Box in sight, but these Whataburger things are everywhere…what I wouldn’t give for an Ultimate Jack with mini churros) and used our 2 free movie passes (yes, we got them from our cat litter points) to go see X-Men: First Class.  The movie was excellent (minus January Jones’ complete inability to act).  But when we got home my funk was in full swing and I spent the evening in tears, curled up in Trey’s lap, watching How I Met Your Mother in hopes that it would cheer me up. 

I guess it’s homesickness.  It’s just not behaving the way I thought it would.  The way it has in the past when my family moved to a different city.  It’s like a new breed of homesickness. 

I must admit though, there is one great thing about living in Texas:

camp leslie

Baby fever. 

Those two words keep creeping up. 

Maybe it’s because Trey & I have been married for 2 1/2 years.  Maybe it’s because I’m rapidly approaching 30 (53 days and counting). Maybe it’s because life has thrown us a lot of changes here recently and we figure we might as well pile on one more.  Who knows?

No matter the reason, it’s there, floating above our heads, waiting for us to take the leap.

Last week I had the absolute pleasure of babysitting my two youngest neices, Makayla and Isabella.  A venture my mother called: Camp Leslie. 

Everyone had an opinion on the outcome of the week.  It would either cure us immediately of the afore mentioned Baby Fever, or it would make it much much worse.

We picked up the girls Monday evening just in time for dinner and at the end of the night, we both read them stories and tucked them in bed.  Tuesday was swimming and going to the playground.  Wednesday was legos and Cici’s Pizza.  Thursday was coloring and Toy Story.  And Friday, more swimming and that evening we met back up with the entire family for a sinfully delicious dinner at Maggiano’s Little Italy (stuffed mushrooms TO DIE FOR). And when we said goodbye to the girls Friday night, Bella hugged my neck so tight and asked when  they could come back to stay with us and Mak gave me a quick hug, pointed her pudgy little index finger in my face and said “I WILL be right back.” 

I know you’re wondering, what’s the verdict?  Did it cure the Baby Fever or take it up a few (hundred) degrees? 

Trey and I both finished off the week thinking the same thing:  when the time comes, we SO got this.