Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Yes, I know I am behind on blogging again. The week before last I was on edge trying to figure out if Randy was going to get to go on this trip I has planned. Who knew ginning season would start this year before Labor Day when I planned it? Certainly not me, the person who booked this vacation. I knew Cari didn't have classes on Friday. So I knew she could join us toward the end of the week. We had the condo booked from August 28th (Sunday to Sunday) to September 4th. The plan was for Randy and me to go up there after church on Sunday and then the kids join us for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Well the best laid plans don't always go as planned. My Baton Rouge kids couldn't come. Randy had to gin cotton and I couldn't find anyone with a schedule flexible enough to permit them to join me.
So I decided God must want me to spend some quality time with Him. I took the challenge and that's what I did. I traveled the 6 hour trip alone. Totally stepped out of my box. I had never done anything like that. I did my morning walk and prayer time with God on Wednesday of that week. Then I came home and finished packing. Then set out for my journey alone. I got there a little before 5:00. I took some bible study with me, some Karen Kingbury novels and my swimsuit. The first day was spend walking, reading and relaxing by the pool.
The next day Cari and her boyfriend, John Mark, arrived by mid-morning. They were very tired when they got there from late night, little sleep and driving the 4 hour trip. So I showed them their rooms and I gave them a 2 hour nap time while I went to run a few errands. Then when I came back we went for a late lunch at a famous local place called, Whole Hog Cafe. I wasn't extremely impressed. Maybe because at that point I was still trying to eat healthy and my choice was a little dry. Still glad we tried the place. Next we headed to downtown Hot Springs. Poor BF...Cari's guy followed us patiently into each little dress shop as Cari and I shopped and browsed the merchandise. He quickly learned to find the "man chair" in each of the little shops.
After all the shopping, walking and sweating, we decided it was time to head back to the condo. We had worked up an appetite too by then, so we decided to go ahead and have dinner at a restaurant not too far from our condo on Lake Hamilton. It was called Fisherman's Wharf. It was actually on the lake. Cari had ate there this summer on a previous trip with her friends with some friends that she had met in Cancun. They drove a boat there that time. The heat of the day had finally begun to be cooled off with a breeze. So we ate on the porch. We didn't take any photos, but it was quite nice. And we all ate too much...especially me the WW person. John Mark convinced me to indulge since it was vacation. And I did!
The next day I let the kids sleep late. Maybe not late, but late for me. I fixed them a big breakfast, my Eggs & Bacon over Asparagus. Then we got ready and headed back downtown so we could go to the lookout tower. This was our view from the tower. John Mark had never been to Hot Springs so this was must do.
We stayed in this hotel back in 2006 when my family came to Hot Springs. The name of this historical hotel is the Arlington.

Cari and John Mark looking down at the city and the surrounding area of Hot Springs. It is so amazing how far you can see when are this high above everything.

Okay, posing for a photo for mom....
Yes, I had to ask JM to take one of me and Cari too.

Cari stopped looking at the historical info long enough to pose for me.

A candid image of these two...
This is an another area at the lookout tower that I wanted to take a few photos in before leaving. I remember doing so when I had been there 5 years earlier with the rest of my family.

They were patient with me on the "picture taking " thing.

Below: the view from this location...

So next we went to the little park by Arlington Hotel where the hot springs were flowing. I wanted JM to feel just hot this water really is.

This park is actually where I did Natalie's one-year portraits. I will do a short post and add a few those images soon.

Yes, I saw this yawn a lot. Cari has a hard time getting her sleep regulated lately.
These two were always so happy to take pics...which was very nice for this photographer/mom.

BELOW: It was nice that JM didn't mind taking a few of me and Cari too. I hate asking people, but I do it anyway and I am glad I did. Otherwise, I look back and hate it even more that I didn't have any of me with my family.

My trip didn't turn out like I had planned, but it was a great trip all in all. Cari and JM kept me laughing. They are so precious and obviously in love. How can you not smile and be happy for that. He is an answer to many prayers for my daughter (but I won't get into that on this post). We ate a famous pancake place before leaving downtown. We spent the evening resting, playing (put-put golf, badminton...they played horse shoes) and watching a movie back at the resort.

The next day we packed up and headed home different directions. Cari surprised JM with a detour home to an Auto Museum and a little more sight seeing. I will try to link some photos of that later once she posts them. [If you are her facebook friend, she has a nice album on her page of them.] She's a bit behind in blogging too. She got a little behind during RUSH week and then trip that she is trying to adjust to studying for college and just life in general. I am so glad that she and her guy joined me for two days of the trip. Before I left I had a very long lunch date with Randy's cousin, Karen, and her daughter, Clair. I had the best time telling her what all God has done in our lives the past 1/2 year and Celebrate Recovery. I've been planning to do a Celebrate Recovery post and I promise I will. I want it to be a good one so I stall on that for now.


I finally left and my trip home wasn't quite as easy going and as it was coming. Tropical Storm remnants started getting in my path. The last 2 hours home were the hardest and I had never been more happy to see this muddy dirt road that leads to my house than that night!

Friday, August 26, 2011

FLASHBACK Friday...(one year ago)

(This was NOT the new uniform that they bought the year before...the one that I matching when I order NATALIE'S NEW CHEER SUIT.)

A year ago today, I found myself embracing all of Cari's lasts. This photo is an image of her and all the seniors at her last Jamboree of high school football. Weren't the girls all so beautiful? Now she's enrolled in college. This weekend will be filled with RUSH not high school football. WOW! Isn't it amazing how things change so fast and things are so different a year later. I am still proud of this beautiful child of mine and her beautiful friends too.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


I suggested to Cari to start a college blog since I started back to blogging just before she moved off to college. I had blogged for several years pretty consistently, but mostly about Natalie (NATALIE'S WORLD) and then when she moved to Baton Rouge. I started my own family blog (this one). Well, between running ones own photography business, weekends with family from BR and parenting a very busy high school student, I became a slacker. I am so worried that I will again. I am about a week behind posting the posts that I want to post and in between there I am still hoping to backtrack listing highlights of what I've missed blogging about from over the last 1.5 to 2 years. And just maybe I will eventually backtrack some of the photos that go with some of those highlights that are listed. As you may already know from the previous posts, I am NOT good at summarizing, editing quickly and reducing the number of the images to show in a particular well documented event...thus why I am behind and probably the reason, I got behind to start with. It all seemed to get overwhelming because of keeping up with daily activities that I did just let this outlet go. I really want to stay on top of it and try to learn to give very short accounts of events/activites once I get very busy again as the fall always brings busy days my way. This is important to me and also a great source of venting to you, to me---just good therapy for me and great source to look back at moments and see the milestones that my family has accomplished through God's saving power.

So let me move...the post was to be about me doing a little mommy bragging and explaining. I am so proud of Cari for blogging. If you haven't checked out her blog please do: CARI IN COLLEGE

Cari pretty much already has one semester behind her belt between the her Dual Enrollment and the classes she clept because of her A.C.T. So she had a difficult time scheduling her classes which we did when we went to PREP (her orientation) back in June. We were in the first group to start scheduling her classes the last day and the very last person to leave to finally have her schedule completed. Thus her classes are sort erradic thus complicated to make an easy work schedule. So as much I believe kids should work while in college/high school and be responsible for their personal expenses (spending money), we made the decision for her to NOT work her first semester. I also really want to make sure she can get her bearings and learn how to be a good college student. You see, she was good high school student in the sense she made all A's, had a great A.C.T. score, but some teacher's might say she wasn't a good student. She did all this while often sleeping in class. So as the worrisome mother that I am, I worry that she is really prepared for college. Does she really know how to study? So I told her that I would pay her about as much as she did at her part time job that she had her last year at home at After Glow as an allowance which included a few things she had to be responsible for...to do, one of which is blogging. So yes, I am paying her to keep this up. But I am not paying for the quality! Only that she maintains it. I so enjoy getting an inside glimpse of what's going in her life. Yes, I talk to her daily (so far), but I does she tell me everything, of course not. So I love seeing her photos of her memories and her 2 cents on the little things in her life that she forgets to tell me about. I am proud of her and think she is doing a good job. Hope you enjoy viewing it too.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I guess I should have done this post this next day while it was all so fresh, but then again maybe I needed a little distance and some time to process it all. Yes, a week ago this past Monday my baby girl did it. She moved from her home of 11.5 years to a cute little apartment style dorm in Monroe. Her whole life has pretty much prepared her for this time in her life. I just pray that I've taught her all life's lessons that she really needs to embrace this next chapter. I think I am have. She seems so ready now and happy. A year ago this time I could see it. I couldn't see my smart, beautiful, but yet often gullible little girl all grown up and ready for this time in her life. We even had a few fights about it along the way. But she's here now and I think it is right where she should be. She and I have had a few disagreements along the way. Okay, maybe more than a few, but it is has been a time of growing and growing closer for both us and as a family as well. I am so proud of the young lady she has become.
On my 18th birthday, my mom wrote me a letter telling me how grown up I was and how she knew it was time for her to "cut the apron strings". Not sure if that is a phrase anyone uses any more, but I specifically remember that in my letter. I don't know exactly where it is at the moment, but it is a keepsake box that I run across from time to time. And I when I read it, I cry like it was yesterday that she gave it to me. You see, I've always been tender-hearted. My mom said that I got that from my daddy's mom. At wasn't always sure it was a compliment since she was often considered "over sensitive". I am sure if you ask my children about their mom. They would say the same thing. Sometimes emotional people, tender-hearted people, whatever you want to call us folks...tend to be overly sensitive too and sometimes have a hard time dealing with things. But overall, I am glad God made me this way. Sometimes it is hard to cope with, but I would rather be overly sensitive than cold hearted. It does make me the mommy-wife that I am!
So back to the letter. My 18th birthday was the summer after I graduated high school. Cari's was 1/2 way through her year and thought never occurred for me to write one to her then. She still had much maturing to do. It's like it all came together just weeks before she left for school. So I had the idea to do hers before she left and give it to her to read after I left her at her dorm for the first time. Being the procrastinator that I am I waited until the morning before she left to compose my letter. So by the time, I got Cari and Randy up, I had already poured my heart out as typed it on the computer (I certainly didn't hand write it) and of course, you might guess, I cried as I typed. It turned out to be one page (front & back) not bad for me! I am not including the letter to this blog post. It was a very personal one-side conversation to my daughter. I just re-read it. Found all of my grammar errors, typos and misspellings. I ran out of time that morning and had not time for proof reading. Oh well...she knows how to read between the lines.

We were running a little later than planned. Probably because I spent a little more time on my letter than I intended and thus got everyone up later. You have thought she would have been the first one up. She has been so ready to go for so long...so she says! But that was okay since we had no specific time to be there. We did choose to go in 3 vehicles so Randy could come back home work a half day and so that I could stay there and help her get settled. Before we left, Randy stopped us before walking out the door and wanted us to pray. He broke down crying as he started. My reaction was "I knew it would it you sooner or later". [He has been saying it wasn't going to cry. He was fine. He was ready...you know all that dad stuff.] He said he wasn't crying because of her leaving but because of the time he lost when he was a jerk. [I will share more of the background of this. Randy is recovering alcoholic. He quit drinking this past winter.] Of course, we were all crying before long. I love my family so much and I am so proud of the growth we've seen in our lives because of God's saving grace and power. On the way to eat before coming home. I asked Cari to ride with me rather than with the boyfriend because I knew from there I would be headed home. At this point she had not seen the letter I wrote, but I wanted to tell her how proud I was of her and I was fine because I knew she was ready. It was also the first chance we had time to mention what had happened during the prayer before leaving the house. I don't even remember who brought it up. But I do know I will remember it forever. She said that she had already forgiven him for the past and that she was just happy over the time that we had (like the last months). Our family life has been so much better. Often no one really knows what you go through. This was one of our family secrets. I am so glad that I God gave us freedom and rescued us from this demon. GOD IS SO AWESOME!
The day didn't go smooth by all means. I had car trouble before even left. Fortunately I have guy who is good at some many things who took care of this before leaving about 30 minutes later. After we got everything unpacked in the room and made a list of what we needed, we went to Johnny's Pizza right down the road for lunch. We had to take back her pink futon that we had picked up the day before at walmart. She really thought she was going to have more room. Actually, she thought she could put it under her bed. Oh well...live and learn. We bought some food and misc items for her at walmart when we took it back. Her meal ticket didn't start until the first day of school. After the 1st shopping trip to walmart, Randy dropped back off at the dorm and he headed back to work. Her roommate's boyfriend, help hand the curtain rod and then later John Mark helped with some wall hanging too, but other than that (and bring boxes in), Cari and I unpacked and organized her room. I ended up making another walmart trip leaving her there to work. Surprisingly enough, we finished before dark. We had a dinner at her Red Lobster, John Mark's fave restaurant, of course, Cari and I love Red Lobster too. I hugged them each and left. I love the peace that God provides for you when you needed it the most. I didn't even cry!

Okay, I have one more thing I want to leave with you on this post. Last week while looking through some of my quotes, I ran into a quote that was perfect for this week.


After reading this one again, I felt even more pride and peace as a mom. Looks like I've done my job!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Cari's last day home was a Sunday. After church we had lunch as a family with Cari's boyfriend, John Mark and his family, at her favorite restaurant in Natchez, LaFiesta. [All the time and money that she and her friends spent there the past few years--she should have owned stock in the place. LOL...Now that she wouldn't be going there several times a week now, made her want her last after church lunch there.] After lunch she spend some time at with his family and then came home to finish packing. She picked up a movie for all us to watch. Before the movie, we moved most of her things she had packed to to the porch.
I don't think this photo actually does it justice as far as how much she had. I told her she didn't' have to take it all now, but you know how daughter's often don't want to listen to their moms. Well, this was one of those times. Behind here are four larger Rubber Maid boxes of "stuff" stacked to two high. She's so excited.

Cari and John Mark (he was such a trooper dealing with documentation obsession)

See what I mean?

He was even helpful in loading the vehicles with the heavy boxes. And yes, they were heavy! One box alone was nothing but shoes!

Randy's truck loaded. We decided to go ahead and load up that night since we were planning to leave early.

Even had some things on the backseat.

The back of Cari's SUV. She had seats laid down.

Her backseat section...

We probably didn't really need three vehicles, but we wanted Randy to be able to come back home after he unloaded boxes and such. I wanted to be able to stay as late as I needed to to get her settled...which is why we used 3 vehicles to move one college student into her dorm. We had most of her stuff in Randy's truck and her SUV before we even started on mine. So we used the back of mine for her closet. Yes, this was her entire closet (less the shoes).

Her closet and space was NOT as large as she thought and she did send some things back with me.
Another angle of Cari's SUV...

Passenger side of her car...

Yes, it was getting dark by the time we finished loading the vehicles.

Randy before we left. Yes, I was in a documenting mood...

More documenting...
Just before leaving...

And there she goes...

and she's gone. Moved out of her home for the last 11.5 years and to her her new home...

Before unpacking images:

Catherine's mom, Erin, helping unpack and get her settled in...

Cari's college bedroom....

the other side...

Her roomy closet (that is before she put her clothes in there)...

Hers and Catherine's double sink vanity...

Now some of my labors...

Cari's things sorted and organized in baskets under her sink.

Cari's side is the left side...

Cari and JM posing for pics in her finished room.
Doesn't her room look cute? And oh yeah, they do too!

Her name letters that my friend, Kate, gave her for grad gift.

Love her mirrored closet doors...

I had to go by her the plastic chest of drawers. And I still brought a few clothes home. So far all she has been wearing are her workout shorts and tees. I wouldn't be surprised if she brings more clothes home soon.

They have this nice little foyer/kitchenette area for their microwave and fridge.

Cari painted this at Catherine's Senior Paint Party back in May. (below)

They even had a nice size bathroom.

Erin and I have them in good shape for toilet paper and cleaning suppies! I think this will be enough for this semester and next. [Notice the Rubber Maid box below the towels.]
I forgot photograph a view like this in Cari's room showing how she did her jewelry and such behind her dorm door. Trust me...it was cute and organized too!

Catherine's artwork...

Cari's roommate, Catherine, in her room...

Trying to get a casual shot of them in the room watching TV or something, but there someting about telling people to act normal that prevents them from doing so.

It usually creates this.

The view from the parking lot.

The outside of her dorm...which looks more like an apartment building than a dorm.

JM car and Cari's in the parking lot...like I said I got a little carried away in documentation some days.
Cari and JM started walking toward his car when we were leaving to go to the restuarant. I was like "Hello"..."she can ride with you all the time now, but I am about to leave to go back home." I wanted to have a few minutes of alone time with my baby girl since we had not really had much since leaving the house. I wanted an opportunity to tell her how proud that I am of her and jsut how "okay" I am about leaving her because I know she is ready. It is so much easier to let go as a parent, when we know our child is ready for the next phase.

My car was further down. After I ran to walmart this last time, I had to park further down.

I realized while we were having dinner that I forgot to have someone take a photo of me and Cari in her dorm...after all, I was the one who spent hours and dollars helping her get it all together. So I asked John Mark to take one before I left...before I hugged them bye and gave her the letter that I wrote that morning before we left. I didn't cry when I left, but I did when I wrote that letter.

I will do one more post on this give a few more details without photos of things about this day that I want to remember. Photos trigger memory, but sometimes we need to write our thoughts down that do not have a visual image to trigger memories.

Some things are truly Worth Remembering.