Halloween in a Small Southern Town

Halloween in a small Southern town can be a little scary to some of us. This year it was particularly difficult because some communities did not want to celebrate this festive night on a Sunday.  I really am not sure why but if Halloween lands on a Sunday around here. . . pardon the pun. . . .

“All Hell Breaks Lose.”
Since Saturday was filled with racing for diabetes and a full 12 hours of debate tournaments, without giving it much thought, we opted to do our Trick or Treating on October 31 . . .like the rest of the country. 
To our surprise and much to our disappointment we found most of the town had celebrated the night before.  After all. . . October 31st this year had fallen on a Sunday. 
Oooops!!!! We forgot! 
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You know what else I forgot to do. . .I forgot to carve the pumpkin. 

Shhhhhh don’t say a word. . .No one even noticed. 

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Back to the story: 
This “little” Halloween problem had us a little worried but there was noway we could disappoint our crowd. Margaret got on the phone and started calling her friends. . . Which she still has because she is not home schooling high school
YET

 She  found a friend who told her about a community that felt Halloween only came once a year and it was a fun time for the kids. Her friend said this place did Halloween up big time on Sunday October 31. 

YAY! 
It was a great find! We had a great time! 
But finding a place to go was not the end of our problems:  
Liz’s daddy kept eating all her candy quicker then she could say “trick or treat”  
She was getting very frustrated until Nana decided to take control of the situation and hold the candy up high so her daddy couldn’t reach it
Elizabeth said her favorite part of the whole night was Nana coming with her. 
When we called it a night   

We rushed home to eat Halloween cake . . . Death by Chocolate of course!

AND

We loved every minute of it! 

THE END

The Human Spirit

Remember Joe? Remember the story I told you about the night he was almost killed?

Joe worked hard to be one among the living again……..The past two years he has not only worked hard in accomplishing the everyday aspects of life…He worked hard to move forward and make positive changes.
As of today, Joe is a High School Graduate. He passed his test with flying colors.
Funny thing is now he is talking about going to college.
You GO JOE!!!
We are so proud of you!!!!
Sometimes a little bump on the head is good for the human spirit.  
I don’t know about you, but, I think we should all have cake.

As Time Goes By

It’s May already.
It is almost June It is June already

Oh! My Gosh! It is June 11th already and I haven’t even finished telling you all about April.

I am always amazed how quickly the time just goes by.

With each passing month I wonder…Should I write about the things that happened months ago? Should I change the name of this blog to “Just Trying to Keep Up” or should I just keep looking forward and only post about what happened today?

Sometimes I just can’t help but to look back. Even though, where we are going is good….Where we have been has been great.

I want to share all those things with you and I really want to remember what happened in April. It was a nice month and then of course it went into May and then June with more celebrations and birthdays to come and time just goes by.

April brought another trip to the Biltmore.
This time there were no kids. Just Me, Mom, Karen and Karen’s Dearest Friend Pam…..Who is turning out to be on of those family friends we all consider to be family. She has been with Karen through thick and thin and now we just don’t remember the time she wasn’t there.
The Flowers were just beautiful in the gardens that day. As we talked about what this was or that, we meet Steve the gardener. He gave us clippings and told us how to transplant them.
And then…..
We picked up a few things along the way……

Oh! Geee! Did I say that out loud?

That day, as time went by, we strolled through the grounds of the Biltmore, we laughed, we talked, we ate and we just had a very nice day.

Aunt Ann came down with two of her daughters and granddaughter Mary Kate. There was more talking, songs were shared and the sisters laughed until they cried.

And time…. just went by.

We celebrated Auntie and Jim’s wedding again. The timing just seemed right.

Matthew took a childhood friend to her Prom and you know…..I don’t have one picture to mark the occasion.

Some how my camera disappeared.

Ya!

Makes me sad too.

That same weekend, my boys finished another successful year of debate…….and again no pictures.

…Sigh…

Mary Elizabeth’s “bestest dearest friend” ((as she says)) came to play…or was that in May? 
Time goes by so quickly it is hard to remember.
                                                            
Alexander won big! He was the tennis champion in his league.
And to think…….Time moves so quickly this bit of news almost slipped right by.
Matthew had his 18th birthday, and I wonder: “How did 18 years come and go so fast? 

After picking him up from Anatomy Class we went to his favorite restaurant with Nana, James and all the family.
We sang the “Happy Birthday” song in Espanol
passed around  “the hat”.
And the time just went by.
There were bike races that night in down town Spartanburg and the streets were filled with excitement.
 Mark hurried to catch up with James and our towering two …To tell them “Be smart, stay together and we would see them in an hour or two.
That night, as we listened to Jazz bands play in the streets we felt time slip gently by and it all just seems right.

Give me your best shot at Better in BulkPhotoStory Friday

Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

I Wonder…Did I Blow It?

Can you get behind on blogging?

Blogging is something I do for fun; to look back and see what has really happened through the year….To see if my memories match what truly was, to see who was loved, to see how the children have grown and all the other “stuff” in between.

Now with our seasons changing I wonder, Did I blow the post I should have done about the snow and the fort Stephen built.

One February night, almost a month ago now, we had the prettiest snow fall. It was so soft, fluffy and light. The perfect snow to play in, to build forts in, have snow ball fights in and to just really enjoy the night.

It wasn’t even that cold. The best part of the snow, to me, was, IT was gone the very next day.

Those are the snows I like.
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Did I blow not posting about the “Little Flowers” volunteering at the Soup Kitchen?

They got up very early a cold February morning excited about “doing good” for their fellow man.

It really was a warming site.

The girls were a little nervous a first……

But, they jumped right in and did everything they were asked to do with warm and loving hearts.

Did you know, at the Soup Kitchen they not only give one well prepared feast, they offer; a bag that contains some food for the rest of the day, clothing, and just a few personal items, if they can.

You can only take one deodorant, tooth paste or soap …….NOT one of each…..ONE!

You must choose …”Which one do you need the most???”

AND THAT was REALLY tough to have to say.

This was my job…..and mostly, the people ,down on their luck at soup kitchen, understood; Most would just take one, and say “thank you” with a smile and then walked away.

After it was all said and done.….The six girls that came with me, giggled all the way home in the back of my van sharing doughnuts, talking about school issues, books they have read, foods they like and how they should wear their hair.

When I asked them what they thought about the Soup Kitchen they didn’t say much….Thinking about it now, I don’t know if they really knew what to think. They understood, for the most part, these are people that are down on their luck. They understood some of these people made bad choices but some where stuck in a very bad economy. They understood anyone of us could be standing on the other side of that soup kitchen line easy enough.
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So now here we are……The middle of March.

DSCF5944-1.jpg picture by marka5477

In the height of our birthday season. And, with every passing birthday the memories DO NOT fad…….The presence of our dad grows stronger and the tears still flow freely and easily when we realize…It IS true. All “that” really happened.

But somehow the “Time goes on” as I can hear my father say….and we celebrate each and every birthday and all the “mile stones” of our lives.

There are seven birthdays in our family this month.

DSCF5964-1.jpg picture by marka5477

AND the BIG surprise this year…

DSCF5960-1-1.jpg picture by marka5477

James in now 21!

Birthdays this Week ~ Stupid February!

Mom and Margaret

maybe you should not read this one

So this is it….The big birthday week. And we are all trying really hard thinking of ways we can make IT stay away…..but we know we can’t.

Margaret’s birthday is Tuesday and then……my father’s birthday will be Wednesday……Ash Wednesday…… and we have to do it without him.

I keep telling myself we should celebrate. It was so wonderful having him here with us. He truly left the world a better place. Life and Love should always be celebrated.

RIGHT???

And then I cry.

And then I think we should celebrate Margaret’s birthday even though she doesn’t want to. I can hear our father saying……”You have to celebrate. It is better then the alternative.” And I laugh and I wonder…Does he still think that……I can also hear him say; “Of course you will celebrate. I am so glad she is there with you.”….and then I think….. I am glad she is here too and then I cry.

We all cry…….separately.

It has been a very hard month for all of us.

Stupid February!

I haven’t posted much at all this month just because I really don’t know what to do. I have been dreading this whole week. I have been holding my breath all month not wanting to think about it at all.

So NOW….IT is coming and I sit here………. thinking.

Should I post his picture on Black and White Wednesday? After all it is his birthday and I really like playing that game….. Do I post a picture of him and Margaret? After all we always celebrate their birthdays together……Or do I do nothing?

I just don’t know what to do,

But I do know I miss him.

I miss him being excited about life……..and because today is Valentines Day and he always made it special for our mother. I miss him being excited because James in now at a University and Matthew made the Dean’s list at the community college and he is still in high school. I miss hearing his “WOW”.

I miss him being excited because Stephen is such a do-er and being so very pleased because Steve “did it” just the way he would of. I miss hearing him call all the girls “Dear” and everyone of those girls…..young or old….whether they knew him or not..… thought they WERE his one and only very special DEAR…….. I just miss so much about him.

AND It just doesn’t feel right going into the week not acknowledging the fact February 16 is Margaret’s birthday and February 17 is his.

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Please don’t forget to Ask Congress to support the Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act of 2009….It really is very, very important. It could save your life or someone you love.

Feliz Navidad … Día Tres ((Day Three)) Last Day I Promise!!!

Okay, I promise this is the last Christmas day post …
I almost called this post Merry Kissmass…but I thought you may think that would be way too tacky so I didn’t.
You will see why…….
There is something you don’t know about us….
Well, really there is something you don’t know about my husband…..
He is a huge Kiss fan…
Huge!!!! I tell you!!!
For Christmas and lots of fun this year Mark’s sister gave him Kiss things.

Thanks Kim!!!
Yeah! She looks nice enough BUT…should we encourage him?
Back to the day…This year we had planned on spending December 26 with Mark’s mother and sisters. They were thoughtful enough to make sure they included my mother but when all was said and done my mom was just to pooped to come. So She stayed home and enjoyed the quite of the season…
We arrived to a beautiful feast table full of desserts and snacks.

The Dinning Room was prepared beautifully with three tables arranged for us all to sit and celebrate together in the same room. It was really very, very nice.
We could see they must have been working for days.

It was Mark’s job to cut the turkey.

We had a wonderful dinner and great conversation.

They showered us with more gifts…and the day spending time with family was perfect.

AND

did I mention Mark is a huge Steelers fan too?
Huge!!!

I think the highlight of the day for me was when Mark gave his mom this GREAT BIG bottle of Sherry…To think, we brought in such a big bottle of sherry for his mother, who is such a sweet, kind, gentle LADY made laugh and laugh…Mark said he bought the big one thinking there was more bang for the buck…True…But it will take her the next 35 years to drink it all.
The thought of that just cracked me up all day…and everytime I look at this photo I still giggle.
MEN!

Matthew enjoyed it too.

And Liz…She wants to know where Santa Clause is and why he has only come

THREE times this year….

Feliz Navidad … Día dos ((Day Two))

Christmas Eve all the gifts from my mother’s house had tags on them that said, To: So and So, Love: Nana and Grandpa or Love: Mom and Father or Mom and Dad.
It was so beautiful…. everyone knew he was there.
The night was comforting and warm.
We learned early Christmas Eve day Karen wanted to be back on the road very early the next day to get back to North Carolina and celebrate Christmas with William and Kristen.
I asked my mother if Mark, the kids and I could stay the night, spend Christmas morning and then Christmas day with her…Surprisingly, to me, she said Yes!!! Mark agreed and after the party he and I snuck out into the cold, dark night to collect our Christmas gifts for our family.
It turned out to be a such wonderful day.

The first order of the morning was to take a picture of Anthony’s $85.00 shoes before he left…He told me it was important because “They are the most expensive shoes I have ever had.”

…Well then, we must do what we must do…

Then it was time to drag a very sleepy Mary Elizabeth out of bed…and drag we did.

She didn’t quite understand what was waiting for her in the next room.

She is still young.

She doesn’t quite get we celebrate and celebrate and celebrate.

Santa brought bee suites and a Honey Bee keeping starter kit to both Matthew and Stephen.

The note from Santa said to order the Bee’s in mid January…

This is what I don’t understand…Do the bee’s come in a box or to they fly here on their own once they are paid for? Does someone give them a map and tell them to just go???

It will be interesting to find out.

Mark put Liz’s new bike together.

My mom was happy for her beautiful new scarf….

And everyone had a great morning.

After the morning excitement the boys got right to work putting the bee hives together.

Mom and I started more coffee and got to work on dinner…..Mark played with Mary Elizabeth and much to our delight Father Theo stopped bye for a visit, coffee and a Spanish Lesson for Matthew…He taught us all ALL the words to Feliz Navidad .
Bill dropped in to say hello and check on things and the afternoon really was a joyful time…Singing, building, cooking, visiting and just being together.
Ruffo inspecting for all the parts
Stephen finally finished the ping pong table he put together by himself.

Soon the feast fit for Kings and Queens alike was finished.
The table was set.
Margaret and Family came in and we all enjoyed the night.

It was a happy day.
Funny how somethings work…I thought we were spending the night and day for my mom so she would not be alone for a second that day and we did …But, then again, maybe it was ALL for me…Because once again it seems like I am the one that received the biggest gift…Being able to spend Christmas day at my parent’s house with my husband, children and mother was the best and biggest gift I could have received this year.
When we left that night I remember telling my mother
“We did it.”
WE got through and it was a wonderful day ~ I know my father was smiling down on us. I know he is happy about the bee’s I kept thinking all day I couldn’t wait to tell him about…but then I would remember…He already knows…and he IS happy. He is very happy.
Quiero desearle una Feliz Navidad desde el fondo de mi corazón y un
Próspero Año Nuevo y felicidad

Christmas Eve 2009

~ Never forgetting the Reason for the Season ~

We started the night off with a family Mass.

We humbly honored the Holy Family and are thrilled to have Aunt Carolyn’s manger safely tucked away in the cabinet that Love built…Given to Karen by her cousins Aunt Carolyn’s daughters Anne and Kathy

The table was grand

The children were ready

Well….most of the children were ready…

and the giving began

Anthony was here…and again having the “Best Time Ever”

Many wonderful gifts were given and received

There was laughter, there was happiness, there was joy…

There was giving, there was receiving, there was remembering, there was love…

Some gifts were just great!

Some gifts were simply better then great!!!

It was Aubrey’s First Christmas and she was not too sure of what to think

Joe has never looked better

Mark and Reiner were exhausted from all activity

And the bigger boys were thrilled with the biggest gift of the night….

As I sit here looking back at Christmas Eve 2009 just past……It is nice to know…Even though things have changed ~ Some things haven’t changed…Thank God

An Impromptu Leave…Isn’t that Silly

It is true….I have taken an impromptu leave from my blogging.

You and I have had this blog relationship for almost a year now and well……there is something you should know about me…

I am a procrastinator…Yes…disappointing I know…….. but true.

I even procrastinate on the things I like. But here is the thing……

Honestly; it’s the pictures of Thanks-Giving I have not wanted to post.

You see…..I have this strange way about me….maybe it is a Finnell thing….I really don’t think it comes from the Coleman side of my family but…….I find if I don’t think about certain things that have happened or are happening….. I forget.

Sometimes forgetting is good.

That is of course…….. until I remember.

I am finding this time……Margaret is doing the same thing. When we talk about “things”…..We will not use the dreaded “D” word. Margaret and I will always say “before Father” or “when Father” never saying that word…and now it is down to “Well, you know.”…..

We just never say the words…

Isn’t that silly?

And that is what I have been doing…..Simply; I have not wanted to think about these things or even say them out loud.

All in all Thanks Giving was very good.

It really was. We had a very nice day.

But the physical absence of our father was so great ~ I just didn’t want to think about.

I look at the pictures and think…..That was a nice day. In total, I think we had about 31 or maybe it could have been 36 people at my parent’s house.

Linda’s father came with his wife, Karen and Joe were there, George and all his kids, James tore himself away from his camp-out in front of Best Buy with is friends.

Father Theo stopped by. There was the usual football game

and

George Carved the turkey. He did a beautiful Job!

This was all done much to our relief…….after the meal was over. The turkey was not cooked and that simple under cooked turkey made us all smile and laugh at ourselves.

Isn’t that Silly?

((Karen convincing Mary Elizabeth she IS the angle on top of the tree.))

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But here we are and I have good news about Stephen and his team mate Mary winning a placement in the debate tournament yesterday…..I am very excited. This was his first debate ever AND his first academic award ever.

((Stephen on end in blue…..this is what happens when you just don’t think you will need your camera that day))

I am very proud of him both as his mother and his teacher. There are times when I really question our little school…..and then something like this happens and I know we are doing a good thing.

I quess that is just the mother in me…..always questioning.

Isn’t that Silly

Today, I think in the middle of all the kayos and confusion in our school days with; potty training, stopping to answer the business phone, checking this or that for Mark, laundry, the house work, finding what’s for dinner, dealing with everyday things life throws our way and lets not even mention what has happened these past few months with…

…Well, you know…

They are learning something. This school thing we have going on is good. So Yesterday; Kathryn recited her poem the Ballad of Birmingham By Dudley Randall for the debate club, Matthew judged and

Stephen argued the case he wrote by himself “Environmental Reform and Changing the Policies towards Cole Slurry ” with his partner and THEY WON….

I am so proud of him.

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I finally sit down and think……I am going to post this one……and see five comments I have missed and these very loving messages:

How are you doing, my dear friend???? I’ve been thinking of you A LOT!!!!! You’re in my prayers…Miss you!!!! Love always, Janine XOXO

Hey Lisa,
Just wanted to let you know that I’m missing your posts. Hope you’re doing okay. Thinking of you.
Love ya,
Regina

And I think…….Wow!!! Wow!!! Wow!!!

Thank you Regina and Janine………You guys are the best. Thank you for caring. Thank you for wondering and Thank you for thinking of me…..Thank you for thinking of Us.

We are doing………Well….you know.

Stupid Turkey

We have had another busy week of school and I think we are finally getting back into our school groove……just in time to stop for the Thanks Giving Season.

At first we thought it might be a good idea to go to Karen’s house for the holiday but as the time grew closer and the emotions grew stronger we realized we needed to stay home.

Most importantly my mother didn’t want to go……I didn’t want to go. I felt we have had enough change and Thanks Giving is always good at mom’s……There is the family time, the food that can’t be beat and don’t forget all the chocolate you can eat. ((a rhyme!))

There is always the football game in the warm November sun. Mark and Reiner team up with the smallest kids and cream the larger boys in the family. It is great fun to be in and watch.

It is warm.

There is love flowing through all the rooms.

There is happiness.

My father always cuts the turkey. The men or boys that are not in the game at the time stand around him and talk in hopes of a first taste…..My dad will arrange the slices in a fan and then garnishes the plate with oranges, green and red cranberries.

It is always beautiful.
This thought hit me the other day in the shower:

Who is going to cut the turkey?
How can anyone do it the way he did?
AND
Now I miss him more then ever.
Maybe I am a delayed reactor………and just really S-L-O-W
Stupid Thanks Giving….Stupid Turkey