The house that we grew up in

They say you can never go back......

Each time I head back to Panama City for a visit, I make my rounds driving past the places that I once lived....the places that hold memories for me....the places that are still dear to my heart. It's nice to relive happy times. To remember the people we loved in the places in which they were once so alive.

One of the fondest places of my childhood is my granny's house. I grew up in this house. My brothers and I turned the crawlspace under granny's house into a playhouse of sorts. We would go on adventures and treasure hunts, finding old pots, pans, glass containers, and randomcar parts....once we even found hundreds of coins, mostly pennies, that were hidden there years before....by my own mom and her brothers. There were four intersecting pear trees in the backyard. We would climb in them and pretend we were in the deepest jungles of Africa, on a safari hunt for wild and exotic animals. Along the side of her house were a variety of trees and bushes....from a banana tree, to azaleas, pecan trees, fig trees, and elephant ears.

In the front corner of the yard was a small cement pond, that was empty most of the time. The walkway leading to the front porch was hemmed in by two leaning pecan trees and flowering cactus plants. We pretended that the cactus flowers held magical powers...since they only bloomed twice a year. Off to the left of the house stood a metal water heater....once upon a time they were lept outside the house I guess! We could pull limbs from a willow tree a stand on top of the tank, jump off and pretend we were flying. This home, our childhood playground....was protected by a chain link fence that surrounded the property.

As you walked up the brick steps that led to the wooden porch, you were encased by two cement plank like walkways that overlooked azalea bushes. On the porch to your right was an old cement tiled door....behind which was granny's pottery room....which wasn't really a pottery room anymore, just another place to hold mysterious treasures that would keep my brothers and I guessing at the contents to this day! To the far left of the porch was a wooden swing, attached to the house by metal chains and 2 large hooks anchored in the ceiling.

Walking through the door, the first thing you would see is a massive wood burning heater. I can still remember the smell....and the crackle the burning wood produced. My brothers and I would fight over who was going to add more wood when the door was opened. I remember the old, green, soft, felt like carpeting in the living room....and the bookcases that marked the entrance to the dining room. These bookcases were probably one of the biggest contributors to my love of reading. From these built in bookshelves with metal locking clasps came Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mocking Bird" and Melville's, "Moby Dick"...the first two "classics" that ever caught my attention. Inside were also old school books that were used by my great uncles and my own grandmother.....my mom's mother whom I had never met. These bookshelves were the best part of granny's house.

Keep walking....and you see a china cabinet to your right (the same that now sits in my formal dining room) and a small table that held the phone and the *very skinny!) phone book. Also in the dining room was a matching hutch that held shiny silverware and extra hand towels. There were two exits from the dining room. The one on your right led to the only bathroom in the house, to granny and papa's room, and to the refridgerator. The one to the left led to the kitchen......and to the laundry/storage room.

I will skip all but granny's room. A massive bedroom that held a king sized bed, a sewing room, a wall mounted space heater, and her beloved TV. My fondest memories of this room are of granny yelling at the wrestlers on TV and watching the Macy's Christmas parade with her. To the back of the room was a massive closet....a closet that I never dared to look into. My papa died when I was 5...maybe 6...and she told me that even though he'd died.....he was still with us. A saying that I totally understand now...but at the time, I thought it meant that she was hiding him away in the deep recesses of that never ending closet!

Last Thanksgiving, we went home for the holiday. I'd gone to pick up a pint of oysters from my favorite spot and decided to drive past granny's old house. The house had been sold years before after my grandmother died...and I knew that the people who'd bought it had done some major renovations. I'd always been curious as to how the house looked like inside...since the front looked much the same, minus the pottery room. For some reason I had a wild hair and decided to stop and take a picture.....for memories sake. As I was taking the picture, a man came out...so I decided to brave it up and ask if I could look around. I explained who I was and he was more than happy to let me take a look around. I was amazed at the difference!

I was even more amazed to find that my beloved bookcases were still there.....with the original hardware! Everything else was so different....but so much the same. This home of my childhood didn't fail to bring tears to my eyes....especially when the man told me that a woman that looked like me had come by several years ago and asked if she could do the same. The woman told him that she'd grown up in this house and had raised her children here as well.....I knew that he spoke of none other than my mom.

As I climbed back into the car, I broke down into tears. This place that had meant so much to me...and to my mom....to know that she had visited before she died....made me cry and smile at the same time. I am glad I have the memories that this old house gave me.....happy that I now have pictures of it to share with my children. I can only hope that someday this home we make for them will give them the same warm, happy feeling in return.


Brooke's 7th Birthday!

Every other birthday the kids don't have a party. We pretty much just let them "rule the day" on their "off" birthdays. Brooke made a plan for her birthday....and I must say, it was a pretty good one! She started her day biking with her daddy. She tells me they raced and that she won:) Bub and I went to Target to pick out his present from her and then we all met at Chic-Fil-A for lunch. She loved the Soda Pop dolls that Bub got for her! The kids ate and then played for a while....then it was off to Target (AGAIN!) for Brooke to pick out her present from mum and dad. I know this sounds weird, but this year she wanted a new bike....and I think it's best for her to pick the one she wants rather than I get one and she not like it. So we got the bike and she tried riding it in the store!!! She also had some birthday money so she picked out this massive Bratz beach thing.....(which took me no less than 30 minutes to open and I have the blister on my hand to prove that opening it was no easy feat!)

We made it home and she rode her bike for a while until we had to get ready for our BIG NIGHT! She chose to eat dinner at Wasabi, which is a new sushi place close by. We had a nice dinner and she was presented with green tea ice cream after the waitress took a birthday picture of her to pin on their birthday wall.

Brooke's birthday night

Lucky Brooke.....the last installment of the Harry Potter series was released at 12:01 following the night of her birthday. Didn't take a genius to figure out where we would be all night! We picked up Courtney and made our way to Books A Million around 8:30 to get ourselves pep'd for the book!

We started the night by choosing our house from the sorting hat. The kids were all in Hufflepuff (which irritated me because no kid of mine will be a Hufflepuff.....LOL!) so we made our way over to the first Hufflepuff activity which was making wands and snitches. While we were working on that craft, Amber, Gavin and Matt came up! YAY! Mum had someone to hang with and Bub had a boy to play with:)

After Hufflepuff we went to Ravenclaw and the kids raced on broomsticks.....they all raced very well and Amber and I had a good laugh over them:)

After that we went to Gryfinndor to watch a magic show and see the world's largest rabbit (perhaps....LOL!) While we were there, Candace and the girls popped up....I am not sure how they found us because that place was PACKED! I didn't take any pics in the magic show because Amber and I'd found two chairs and I about fell asleep in mine!

After Gryffindor was Slytherin.....there the kids got their fortunes told. Brooke was first to go since it was her birthday and she was ASTOUNDED to learn that the fortune teller already knew it was her birthday, knew how old she was, and knew that she'd already gone to see the movie! So you can imagine how excited she got when Bub's time came and the fortune teller predicted that he would be a millionaire:) HAHA!

As a surprise for Brooke, I had teh guy dressed as Harry annouce over the intercom that it was her birthday! You should have seen her face when she heard her name announced! Priceless:) Next we picked up drinks and made a potty run. When we were all finished, we realized that people were already lining up for the book! It was around 1045ish...so we hopped in line as well and the kids settled down to cast spells on each other until midnight. Believe it or not, they all sat in a circle the entire time (with only a few breaks to do the chicken dance) and had a BLAST casting spells on each other. Some other kids there joined in.....it was so funny watching them all make up spells:)

I was amazed at the number of people who were there to get the book. Projection numbers were 8-850, but I overheard the TV crew say that the numbers were already over 1000 by 11:00! Here are some pics from in front of, around, and behind us.....as we stood in line. I took these pics at 12:01....right after the countdown:)

All in all....Brooke had a GREAT day! I know her favorite part was spending time with her friends at the Harry Potter celebration. Thanks Amber and Candace for bringing the kids out and celebrating her birthday with us....and the release of this amazing book!!! I don't think you'll ever be able to say that you've been to a BIGGER birthday party:) hehe

Happy 7th Birthday my little Stringbean! I hope you had a MAGICAL day:) Mum loves you to pieces!


cleaning up spoilt kids

What you see here is a pile of dolls. Not just any dolls, but the 74 dolls that make up my daughter's collection of them. 74 dolls....even after only a year ago giving away 40 of them. Somehow she has amassed a record breaking number yet again. Now before you start clucking your tounge and shaking your head with the thought of me buying them for her....let me ease your mind of those hasty judgements.

Of these dolls, I may have purchased.....4? The rest come from grandparents, in the form of birthday presents from friends, and hand me downs from an older cousin. So in that manner, she is terribly spoiled. I knew the time to rid ourselves of some of them had come when I couldn't get the 4 foot long sweater box that holds them...closed. It took over an hour if sorting dolls, clothes, doll accesories, shoes, and hairbrushes...but we did it! For each doll she kept she had to get rid of one. Many clothes were tossed, shoes without a pair were thrown into the trash can, and the no longer wanted dolls were piled into a banana box along with some much loathed (on MY part!) stuffed animals.

Have to say, Brooke did a great job at keeping one, tossing one....of everything! We made progress as well as freed up more space in her room. I did attempt to clean off her bookshelf....but I have a penchant for books, even those easy readers! I can't seem to throw a book out.....but maybe when the book drive rolls around I will be able to toss one, keep one as well:)