Thursday, June 30, 2011

Farewell, my friends.

The online community that I have been a part of for the last 6 years, is shutting down forever tonight.  This is the post that I wrote as my farewell to my friends on The Porch.  A friend mentioned that I really needed to copy it and keep it someplace.  And seeing as I hadn't blogged in quite some time, and blogging was first encouraged to me by one of the gals I am so honored to call friend, I felt it fitting to leave my post here. 

To Mitford:

"Well, my glass of tea is empty. The ice in my glass has long since been melted and the sweat on the sides of the glass has been neatly dabbed up by my napkin. My dessert plate has a few crumbs remaining from some delicious concoction that someone brought. The sun is setting, and the crickets are starting to sing their song. The fireflies will be making their appearance shortly. I need to make my departure before the mosquitoes come out to play though.

This place has been a beautiful adventure. I have enjoyed getting to know each and every one of you. With me, I take little snippets of days gone by. Little tales of fun and adventure. Empty places in my heart of friends that we have lost along the way. Memories of children growing, grandbabies born, dreams, trips, meetings, drama, and vacations. Decorations, invitations, recipes, prayers. Birthday wishes. I take with me encouragement, and praise, and little discussions about everything...whether it be about what we are wearing for the day, or politics. I have enjoyed it all.

I love each of you, and hope to see you on the other side of the hedge when the porch light goes out. If I don't....
“May your days be many and your troubles be few. May all God's blessings descend upon you. May peace be within you, may your heart be strong. May you find what you're seeking wherever you roam.”

*Jenny rises slowly from her rocking creaks softly. She shakes the wrinkles and dessert crumbs from her floral skirt and puts her flip flops back on her feet. She blows kisses to everyone around her and looks around one last time to the porch that she has spent so many hours and held so many treasured moments. She steps down off the porch and walks briskly over to the hedge, the path going through it made fresh by a few friends that have gone on ahead of her. She hears a few voices on the other side and knows that she will be welcomed there.

She glances back over her shoulder, one last time...tears in her eyes and waves to her friends, young and old, who have all been brought together for a moment in time by a few books, but mostly by God. She dashes through the hedge....and voices are heard through the other side..."HEEEEY!" "HIIIII" "Applesofgold is here, everyone!!!!"

Her rocking chair remains empty on the porch. Her tea glass and dessert plate remain, as reminders of a delightful time spent with people she calls family.*"

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What do you do...

What do you do, when the weather is fantastic....but your husband took your car because his vehicle is at the Car Spa getting a new transmission?

You grab your easel, your brushes, and your paints and head to the empty driveway.
 Don't forget your painter's beret, smock, and your imagination. 
 Something about painting out in the sunshine and fresh air makes the experience better.  She had more than one car slow down in front of the house to observe her talent. 
 The wind made painting a little tricky.  We figured out that putting one leg of the easel in side the legs of the stool, it wouldn't flip.  A stroke of genius with a couple of pieces of velcro kept the canvas on the easel instead of flying away in the breeze.  Remind me to ask an artist how they deal with wind while painting outside?
I love her work.  She's keeping this one.  She has given away so many of her paintings, I'm so glad she decided to keep this one for herself.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I don't think I have ever tasted anything better than carrots fresh from the garden. Except for maybe snowpeas.  Or Cabbage.  I dearly adore gardening year round here in The Swamp.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Birthday Do-over.

Since the Big Apple was sick on her birthday, I scoped out a place to take her this weekend that would TOTALLY make up for the fact that her birthday was a bust. 

I scored.

 The family piled in the van and headed to Folsom, LA to the Global Wildlife Center.  I had heard of this place on several different occasions but wanted to wait until The Little Apple was a little older to go.  Nothing like being stuck on a 2 hour long safari ride with a crabby baby. But this turned out to be the perfect age for her to go, as she was thrilled by every animal she saw. 

 When you go, you purchase your tickets, and of course animal food.  Eben chose the family bucket...which turned out to be an enormous amount of food...but we quickly found out why we needed that much food.
There was an enormous amount of animals.

Most of them would eat right out of the cup.  Some ate neatly out of your hands. 
 And some, of the animals, they open their mouths wide, and you just pour the food right in.  That was The Little Apple's preferred method for feeding animals. She was so good at it.  She learned to shake the cup until an animal walked over to her and opened wide.  Then she'd pour it in.    At other times, the Little Apple liked to toss the food and yell "Mardi Gras!!!!!!!" I wonder where she learned that?

 The Big Apple, being the typical Daddy's Girl that she is,  hung out with her Daddy most of the ride, which explains my lack of pictures of her, as I was managing the Other Apples (mainly making sure The Little Apple didn't hop out of the wagon and try to ride a zebra!)
 But the Big Apple kept the wagon train driver busy with her questions about the various animals.  My favorite question of the day "How big is giraffe poop?"

Unfortunately, we weren't able to get up close to the giraffes....which created some tears on the part of the Big Apple.  The giraffes were more interested in the private jeeps that are available for tours instead of the big wagon train.  

I have to admit, I had a lot more fun on this trip than I anticipated, and was glad that we all went together on a weekend rather than a weekday without Eben along.  The Big Apple declared the day "Almost as good as Disney World."  I think that's a pretty big statement. 

It was a very nice Birthday Do-Over. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Naughty number 9.

The Naughty Number 9. 

The title of this post is a reference to the School House Rock video for multiplying 9's.  It's not referring to my Big Apple at all. 

I called the Big Apple from the grocery store the other day, to ask her what kind of cake she wanted me to get.  "Mama, can we just have a homemade cake?"  Music to this mama's ears. "Well, Big Apple, is there something you want me to get to put on TOP of the cake?"  "No, Mama...I just want to use some of the toys I already have."  More music to this mama's ears. 

"Mama?  Can I make the cake by myself?"  This is normally something I LOVE to do for my children on their birthdays...because one of the things I do really's decorate a cake.  But she really wanted to do it, and I couldn't turn her down. So the night before her birthday, I turned her loose in the kitchen.  She did great!
 The morning of her birthday, The Big Apple woke up feeling yucky in the tummy.  And all stuffy in the nose.  But Daddy didn't have to go into work until later this morning, so she wanted to open her presents. 

 She got her very own sewing basket and her own sewing machine.  I figured a girl who is considered half grown has earned her place at the table, right next to me~using her own machine.  (actually, the selfish part of me says that she needed her own machine so that she would stop using mine!)

I only wish she had felt better today.  We didn't get to sew together like I had originally planned.  She spent the day on the couch, sipping ginger ale and broth.
We are demanding a birthday do-over.

But I do have to say, that number 9 is a naughty one.  The way it kind of sneaks in and takes away your little girl in the middle of the night....replacing her with half grown young lady....A young girl who is brilliant, and vibrant, and eager to make her way in the world. 
Yup.  That 9 is a naughty one. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A little heart felt words on military transfers......

A fellow Coastie Wife posted this a few days ago, and I felt the need to share it, (with her permission of course!)   And to share it early, because every word of it rings true in how I feel around transfer season.  I'm giving you advance notice here, and cutting you all a break.  Please read, and listen with your heart, because this is what most military wives go through every single time we move.

"It is hard being the wife of a military man. You don't get the luxury of a stable life style, you don't get to go for coffee with your best friend (who is usually NOT next door or even the same state!), you don't get to plan vacations without checking the boat/flight/duty schedule. You get orders every 2/3/4 years and you pack up everything you own and move to a new place, where you generally don't know anyone.
Lately I have been called things like "selfish", "mean", "throwing it in our face". Well here is OUR side of it....we don't have time to wallow in the missing you category. We are to busy making everything good for our family and planning the move. We have to be the cheerleader, we have to stay positive and we can not show one ounce of sadness, because when we do it effects the whole family. Yes we are going to miss the friends we made here, that should be a given. Yes we are sad to leave on some levels. But again we can't show that to the children who are already upset they are moving, to the spouse who knows he is going to a more demanding job and will likely spend the first 6 months not home much while they get qualified for the new job. So we smile and we cheer. We make everything sound like roses and rainbows, how much fun we are going to have, how much we are going to enjoy this new adventure.

So as a friend, if you really are one, please do not act like we are abandoning you. You are losing one friend, we are losing all of you. You get to stay here and go on, we get to pack everything up and move on. So please understand the stress we are under, support us (even when we get pissy and snappy) and above all else just be there when we need a shoulder to lean on. Because you as the friend whom we have supported the last few years should understand that it is our turn. Because honestly we don't have time for your negativity and we can not emotionally be there to help you through this.
I love this lifestyle...been doing it since the day I was married. I love the adventure, I love the newness. But don't let that fool you into thinking we love this part of it. It is what it back to my cheering, because that is MY job in all this. "

It also never fails, every single time we get new orders we hear things like "Oh, you are going to hate ___ about that place."  or "I've heard that that place is awful because of ______."  "Why would you pick to go there?"  Trust me, my husband and I have very little to do with where the Coast Guard chooses to send us.  If I had my way, I'd stay in one place forever!  But what bothers me the most of all, are people that make judgment calls about a certain state or region of the country, having never ever lived or breathed the air in that location.  Please, don't do this. 

I have found that with every single place we have relocated to, I fall in love with it.  If you hear from me from another part of the country, don't expect me to tell you about how horrible it is where I am because you think I'm supposed to be having the time of my life where you are.  This is the life that I have chosen, and I love it. I'm up for the adventure.

Drumroll please! ............

We have received our new orders! 

For those of you that didn't get a text message, a phone call, or see it on Facebook yesterday....The Apple Dumpling Gang will be returning to North Carolina.  It appears that we can never fully shake the NC sand off from between our toes, as we will be reporting to Elizabeth City, NC early this summer.

Our family is thrilled with the new orders, but a little bummed at the same time.  My husband was so desperate for Alaska this time, he listed ALL of the Alaska billets on his dream sheet at the top.  I held my breath and prayed for God to change my heart and prepare me for the big adventure if that was where He intended to send us.  I had my own ideas...of returning to Duluth and slipping back into our old groove...(you guys know how much I like routine and all things familiar!) I thought about living on the West Coast for the first time, and put Seattle on the list next.  Followed by my ideas about how easy it would be on the girls to live close to our relatives in Florida (while selfishly hoping to be able to drop the kids off with them and run away for the weekend with the husband).

But none of that was meant to be.  We got pick # 14.  Which isn't bad.  We are happy with it.  Close to all the historical things in Virgina to visit, old friends and Sorority Sisters.  Close to our old friends in Sneads Ferry/Holly Ridge/Wilmington. 

This is going to work out at this new unit.  Somehow they always do.  This is where God is leading us, and that's where we will go.

Let the journey continue! 

Friday, January 28, 2011

When life gives you mud....

When life gives you mud.....

...........make mudpies. 

 Words to live by, my friends.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Just weary....

Friends....I need this space to just vent for a moment like this. 

Alot of people say that I'm so well put together and have my life all organized...well, right now, I'm not.  I'm weary.  We've had a great deal of sadness thrown at us in the last couple of weeks...and although most of it does not closely effect our immediate family, I am feeling weighed down by the sheer sadness of it all.

This last week has been filled with a detached retina (my dad), a dear college friend losing her spouse quite suddenly, my best friend's dad fighting stomach cancer, THIS, a friend who's daughter has a nasty stomach virus, and on top of everything else.....we are STILL waiting for order as to our next transfer. 

And as I type this, I realize that not a single item on this list of stuff do I have control over, and I guess that is where the sadness lays. I can't reattach retinas, I can't bring back my friends husband, I can't heal cancer, I cannot  comfort a sick and lonely teenager in a hospital in Florida, I can not  get rid of a stomach virus, and I can't predict the future, so I can't see where we will be stationed next.

Yeah...I know...Let go, and let God.  Try it in my shoes for a day, and I bet you can't.

So, I'm apologizing if I haven't spoken to some of  you for a few days, not being as chatty on IM, or Facebook, or the phone. I'm just weary. The truth is, I feel helpless in these situations so I'm throwing myself into projects that can make someone feel better. I'm quilting for a friend in a nursing home, making baby blankets to share, making dinners for new mothers, and pillowcases for kids in the hospital.

I'll come up for air in a few days I am sure.  But for now, I'm just weary, and coping the best I can.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The post in which I compare my marriage to a quilt.......

Yesterday, my husband and I celebrated a landmark.....12 years of marriage. Pretty amazing to say the least. 12 years might not seem like much to some, but to us it means everything. Many didn't think we would make it. The odds were pretty much stacked against us from the beginning.

Eben had been asking if I would ever make a quilt that we would actually get to keep. So I purposed in my heart to make that happen. I put it off over Christmas, since there was a ton of other homemade goodies going on, but figured I could make him something for our Anniversary.

Here it is...But this isn't just any quilt....this quilt now has a story. And it's a story that I think needs to be blogged about and shared. Or at least documented for my kids, so they can read for themselves when they get older about the story of the Anniversary Quilt.

When I first began this project, I had huge expectations for it. I wanted the most gorgeous, beautiful quilt, the prettiest fabrics available, a predictable pattern to it, everything one could ever hope for in a quilt. Kind of like how we began our marriage 12 years ago. I had these grandiose ideals of a perfect marriage, a perfect little house, a perfect set of children, security, predictability, and the happily ever after that you see in the movies. About 2 weeks after the "I Do's" were said, the reality check slapped us both in the face.

This quilt looks perfect hanging up on the back fence....from a distance. So do alot of marriages. But I have a secret to tell you...if you look a bit closer you will find the mistakes. At on point in time, I sat on the floor of the living room, quilt in arms, telling myself how horrible it was. I couldn't get the fabric to lay flat, it puckered in all the wrong places, the pieces were just all in a jumble instead of a predictable pattern because of the Little Apple who insisted on rearranging the blocks every single time I had them lay them out on the floor. It was an ugly quilt, meant for the garbage can.

As I cried over that stinking quilt, I heard that comforting know the one. The one that comes from within your heart, and you know it can only be that still small voice of God. And it said "It's not ugly. It can still be used. Try seeing it through My eyes instead." And I began to see all kinds of comparisons and lessons learned.

My first mistake....TIME. I had neglected to take time to create a masterpiece. I expected myself to put together a gorgeous quilt in just a couple of weeks. Just the same....a good marriage isn't something thing that you can just throw together and hope for the best that it makes it. It takes practice. Years. Of Practice. And work. Hard work. But it goes on from there. Pictured above is the section of quilt that I am least happy with. You see, when I first started quilting it, I chose to free motion quilt it, because it requires a great deal of sewing and the quilt would last. Not to mention that I think it's just really pretty. As I started quilting it, the fabric started to pucker here, and wrinkle there. Not very much, so I disregarded it, thinking it wouldn't be noticeable. But by the time I got to the middle section, the fabric was so distorted that there was no other option but to just leave it alone. Had I addressed the minor problems with the quilt early on, the distortion in the middle wouldn't have been such a problem. Just the same, Eben and I have had many little bumps along the way in our marriage. It's far from perfect, but we have figured out after 12 years together, that if you address those little things as they come up, a huge problem in the middle won't be glaringly obvious to everyone.

Another huge mistake that I made...I didn't really have the right tools for the job. This quilt isn't a baby sized quilt. I made this one bigger so that my sweetie and I could snuggle and watch movies together.

But unfortunately, a quilt of this size doesn't exactly fit under a standard sewing machine. It was a hard job. And I definitely didn't have enough thread. I had to stop my project in the middle, drive into town, buy more thread and continue where I had left off. In the same way, with my own life...if I don't have the right tools I need to get through the day, of course I'm going to get off track and it's going to make life more difficult than necessary. I was reminded again that I had been slacking off in my quiet times with God, and in doing so, was giving myself a one-way ticket to what I got when I was finishing the edges of the quilt and I couldn't get the fabric to iron flat to fold over. I had no choice but to bunch it up and sew it and move on. For the sole purpose of just persevering to the end.

And that is what Eben and I will do. We will persevere to the end. For the next 50+ years if God chooses to bless us with that many years together. We don't claim to have the perfect marriage. It's full of mistakes. Heck, it doesn't even look good up close. But can God use it?

I'm sure He can.

Happy Anniversary, Eben. I love you. Matthew 19:26

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A month....

Is it true? Can it be possible? I haven't blogged in over a month!?!?!!? Could it possible that it was the Christmas season, and things got seriously crazy?

Here is a recap of what you missed.... (in pictures, of course...because I'm sure all of you would rather see it, than simply read about it!)

The Apples were in a musical...called The Grinch. It was wonderful. I am glad they got a chance to get their feet wet in the theater, since it is something that I have always enjoyed and it's dear to my heart. This guy came to their performance. I mean, how cool is that?!?!? Jindal in for President in 2012? I might consider voting for him!

The Saturday following The Grinch, The Little Apple got a strange bump on her neck. Sunday, she had another huge on her forehead, and one on her stomach. Oh-oh, I thought. A few hours later, she had a couple hundred bumps. Chicken pox. She had had no other symptoms, no fever, no crabbiness, nothing to indicate that she was coming down with something. Doing the math at the Dr. 's office, The Little Apple was at her most contagious time the day of the stage production of The Grinch, and had hung out with me most of the day at the Auditorium.

....along with every elementary age kid in our entire city. Nicely played. I'm such a horrible mother...having single-handedly exposed every kid in our city to the Chicken Pox in one day.

We survived. With a couple of scars. More emotional scars on my we were kindof treated like my family had the plague and not the chicken pox. Go figure. Small price to pay, though, for choosing not to vaccinate my kids. But we have successfully completed chicken pox with all 3 of the kids.

The next couple of weeks were filled with Christmas joy. Homemade gifts of jam, candied pecans, handsewn Christmas stockings, homemade wrapping paper, and kid made ornaments and presents. I am becoming more and more of a fan of "Homespun Christmas"

We saw lights, we wrote letters to Santa, and I asked the girls to consider giving something of themselves that would mean the world to someone else..... And they did.
I am proud to say that between the 2 of my girls, 22 inches of hair was donated to Pantene Beautiful Lengths Program...10 from one Apple, 12 from the other. They did this in honor of my best friend's Daddy, Papa Les, ...who is battling stomach cancer.

Christmas Eve was full of magic.
And cookies. The tiny carrots you see cam straight from our garden. You will be pleased to know, that the reindeer left the store bought carrots behind, and ate only the ones from the garden.
Daddy read all of our favorite Christmas stories, and each of Little Apples opened a new pair of pajamas. And Santa came, and with him, timely reminders of why we celebrate the Christmas season.
My mom and nephew, The Cannon, arrived the day after Christmas. And what a blessing that turned out to be. The day after Christmas, my husband slept most of the day. Which was weird...even for him. And he felt like he had the flu.

Only it wasn't. The day after that, he came down with a full blown case of the Chicken Pox. It was a gift that just kept on giving. His case was soooooooo bad in fact, he has refused to allow me to post the one and only picture of him that I have of him with the Chicken Pox. Having Geeya here was a Godsend for sure, as she was available to play with the children, cook all of my favorites (I have 6 bonus pounds from that week!), and spoil everyone in the house rotten for days. It was wonderful.
You see that pie? It was sooooooooo good. Just like the ones I enjoyed for every holiday as a kid.
And although we didn't go anywhere or do anything special, we did what families do....we enjoyed each others company.

And finally....(if you've hung on to this post this long, you get a gold star!), because of our Chicken Pox infested household, The Little Apples had to miss their dance recital. And the performance at a church too. I DID, however, have the pleasure of getting to see them do their dances at the Awards Party. I was sooooo moved to tears watching both of them perform. They know that the gift of dance was a gift from God and choose to dance for Jesus. I am so proud of them!

There. I think I'm all caught up. I hope. Until someone posts something that I missed. In the meantime, Happy New Year everyone. May this be the best, and most blessed year ever!

Love, Jenny