Picture Pages

Thanks for all of your encouragement from yesterday’s post. One friend of mine told me that she likes reading my blog despite the fact that lately it has been all text and no pics. Well, we can’t have that now can we? Funny how when we were kids we would judge a book by its pictures, and now that we are all grown up and oh so very sophisticated readers, let’s face it. We still like the pictures.

The Beasleys have moved. Again. No, I’m not referring to the time before the last time we moved into the house with the great sunroom turned creative learning space. That was a great house. We were only there a whopping 8 weeks, and I had barely unpacked my sewing machine when Clark got assigned to a post in Atlanta for the Summer months. No, he isn’t a military man, but you would think so based on the number of times we’ve moved. By the end of the summer, his temporary post turned into a full time position with benefits. I’m not even sure what that word even means… “Benefits”. When you are a contractor, the job IS the benefit, right? “Bonus” means you landed an extra gig so you can take that money and buy new tires for the minivan. So, Clark accepted the beneficial job with Super-Beneficial Benefits and we moved to Atlanta not the first… not the second… wait for it…ah, the THIRD time must be the charm. More to come on my feelings about that whole shenanigans later. Enough blah blah for now. This post is meant to be picture-y. So here you go.

This is out new street…

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And this is our new house…

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And this is my nature walking buddy all bundled for a stroll.

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The trails in this neighborhood are my favorite part about living here. There is always something new to explore.

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This garden statue is in the front yard of the house three doors down. Without fail, Mia always walks right up to it and says, “Hi Daddy!” Now, why is that?

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Every time we pass our neighbor’s flower beds, I remind Mia not to touch the flowers, and evvv-ery time she reaches for them and looks up at me with this “can-I-get-away-with-it-today?” smile. Then we have it out in the neighbor’s flower beds and I win and she cries and I hope the Flowery Neighbor is at work and not watching the whole episode through her front window with DFCS on speed dial. Just kidding. Not really. Fortunately, today, I snapped a pic of the “can-I-get-away-with-it-today?” smile so you can see for yourself how irresistible it is.

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I will save the home interior photos for another post as I am pretty sure that there is a pair of Buzz Light Year underwear (Salem’s, not Clark’s) on the kitchen floor and a crusty loaf pan in the sink. Hardly blog-worthy material. But, in case you thought I was kidding yesterday about blogging from the empty garden tub, here’s the view.

What did I tell you? When you stay at home all day, you have to savor the inspiration whenever and wherever it comes.

Hope you enjoyed the photos from our daily nature walk today. Tomorrow…the Gluten Free Banana Bread recipe formerly occupying the crusty loaf pan.

Coffee House Humor

While I was sitting in a local cafe this afternoon sipping my Counter Culture coffee, this subtle message to parents caught my eye and gave me a chuckle.

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Just a little local humor for your Tuesday commute.

Sticky Buns and Big Boy Beds

Do you live near an IKEA? I have been blessed to live within 10 minutes of one in the last two cities that I have called home. As part of Operation: Big Boy Bed, we decided to skip the toddler bed altogether and opt for a Twin which meant a trip to IKEA for the very best in cheap furniture that Sweden has to offer. And for Heaven’s sake, why does the entire store smells like sticky buns? I was not only fighting the most intense sugar craving of my life this morning, but I soon discovered that the furniture and textiles aren’t the only things that are cheap. The shopping carts have no power steering, therefore making it impossible to push in a straight line. I literally had to steer my kids at a 45 degree angle just to keep them on the center aisle. Note: IKEA shopping carts are not for the faint of heart. I was sweating by the time we reached the check-out counter. That explains the sticky buns. Sweat while you shop and then reward yourself with sweets. Those Swedes, I tell ya. Brilliant marketeers.

 All of the stars must be aligned today because my little ones were complete angels in the store….

…which allowed me to take my time and notice a few things I’d like to gift to myself this Christmas. {Which let’s face it, won’t happen, but a mom can dream right?}

TROLLSTA Tray Table— $99

KOTTEBO Basket— $16.99

VURM Wine Rack— $9.99
{Now believe it or not, we are not big wine drinkers. I’m thinking of mounting these up in my craft room and using them to sort my yarn. Perhaps that will keep Mia out of my knitting basket once and for all!

IDGRAN slippers— $12.99

ASELE silver table lamp— $44.99

…which oddly enough looks much like this Isabella lamp I’ve been drooling over for $275 a pop!

And finally…

VILSUHLT Picture, London Bus— $49.99
Every time I go to IKEA, I pay a visit to my favorite print and promise to one day bring it home and give it a name. I don’t even know where I would put it, but it is London-inspired and therefore welcomed as part of the family.

And after all that, I managed to come home with this…

Sure, it doesn’t look very inspiring now, but just you wait. Operation: Big Boy Bed will end in sweet victory.

Sweet like sticky buns…sweet.

Happy Monday, Everyone!

First Place

I don’t usually post on Saturdays but this morning’s 10k training experience is well worth documenting. I took a different route through downtown Charlotte, and soon noticed that most of the roads were blocked by squad cars. I thought about asking a cop what all the fuss was about, but then out of the corner of my eye, I saw them. Runners. Not just any runners. Front runners. And they had to be a block away still which meant, I was at the front of the race. Now any self-respecting citizen would have cheered them on and gone their merry way. But no. Not me. I saw it as the chance of a lifetime and before I could help myself, I tore off in front of all of them right behind the leading squad car. All 15 seconds of glory and triumph was mine though never to be had again. No sooner than I began to revel in my undeserved gain, did the real runners start passing me as though I was standing still flagging NASCAR. Then I got that sinking feeling that you get when you realize you accidentally skied down a black diamond slope and you are inevitably going to die or lose a necessary appendage. When an elderly gentleman and a prepubescent boy passed me doing a 7 minute mile, I fell into a heap of laughter nearly beyond recovery. And then I noticed that the race was called “Run For Your Life” which as previously determined, if I ever did have to run for my life, I would probably die. Now my laughter is at the point of hysteria. So I fell into pace with all of the other “normal” runners and yes, I even stole the free water that the cub scouts were passing out and threw my Dixie cup on the pavement with gusto… twice. Don’t worry. I made sure I hit up a different cub scout on the other side of the street the second time I passed the water station.

Yes, I feel like one of those people that park in expectant mother’s parking when they’re not pregnant. No decency, no shame. But, for that brief moment in time when I was in first place, well, what can I say? Don’t hate me, but it was worth it.

Happy Saturday everyone!

New Addition

Clark brought home a new addition to the family over the weekend. He waited in line for 2 hours at the breeder for something small and black that comes house trained and obeys our every command. In all of our anticipation, we actually considered updating our will and giving our little precious its very own room in the Beasley Estate.

Allow me to introduce “IPhone 4S” Beasley.

I am outnumbered when it comes to those in my family who are utterly fascinated by anything that lights up and has push-able buttons. Its been 72 hours, and already 4S has mowed the lawn, filed our tax returns, swept the chimney, and potty trained my two-year old. What will those Fruit Lovers think of next?

4S joined us on our annual Pumpkin Picking Hayride Extravaganza, and I will say this, he was well worth the money and the wait for his rad picture-taking abilities alone!


Two Peas…

Two more Peas…

Am I just a proud mama or does my second-born look like a page out of Baby Country Living?

Salem utterly fascinated with water pump racing

I had to include this candid shot from our off-road hay ride because at any given moment, Salem is hollering about something {usually his lost drum sticks}, and Mia is making this “I’m-up-to-no-good” face.

Typical.

  Our first outing with our new addition was successful. 4S was a perfect angel and luckily, he didn’t have any accidents in the car on the way to the pumpkin patch. What more could we ask for {until next year’s upgrade}?

Happy Fall from the Beasley Family Party of Five.

Black Eyes and Beach Towns

I gave my husband a black eye. I’m not even sure how it happened really. Last week during our vacation to Amelia Island, we were…um… testing the mattress in our suite when my elbow met his cheekbone with such a force, I wondered if subconsciously I was releasing any and all aggression I may have stored up over the past 5 years of our marriage. Bless his heart. One minute he’s loving on his wife, the next minute he finds himself smack in the middle of a bar fight. I felt horrible, but for some reason it was one of those times where the emotional reaction was the inappropriate one. I started laughing. Which made matters even worse…. for Clark. Needless to say, he was a tad bruised and swollen, both in face and ego. Even as I type this, he’s telling me from the next room that his face is still sore. Shiner and all, we proceeded to enjoy the most relaxing and memorable 3 days we’ve had since our children were born. When you spend so many months trying to squeeze every bit of romance into the time afforded you between breast feedings, three days of undivided attention provides some much needed relational refreshment. The truth is, I am more in love and fulfilled by my relationship with Clark than I was the day we were married. While our time of reminiscing and “re-calibrating” had its fair share of introspection and future planning, it also came with a salt and peppering of fun. In between black eyes and dolphin sightings, we enjoyed some of the best that Fernandina Beach has to offer.

29 South Eats

When the menu says “Garden Fresh”, this is about as fresh as one can get. The vegetables are grown right in the back yard! Green and local is certainly this restaurants forte.

Fantastic Fudge

A slice of fudge, a couple of turtles, and $16 later, we were feeling not so fantastic. But, this mouthwatering confectioner’s corner is a must see if you are planning a visit to Amelia Island. Be sure to bring your wallet and your sweet tooth!

*Bonito Grill & Sushi

Clark almost cried when he learned that they serve sweet tea here even though we were vacationing in the Yankee invaded southernmost state. Its the little things that sometimes make life worth living.

Judging by the looks of things, I feel I ought to rephrase… we enjoyed some of the best food that Fernandina Beach has to offer. Before you think we just ate our way through the town, this was one of our favorite non-eateries.

The Book Loft Bookstore.

This little two-story shop had an entire wall of autographed hard copies. Some series ran upwards of $300-$400 dollars! We started our Chronicles of Narnia series with The Magicians Nephew (unsigned) for $8.99.

Fernandina Beach can best be described as “Southern Charm meets historic beach town”, and the sweet tea put it right over the top for my husband. Therefore, we are already planning our return trip.

*photo credit (Sara G.)

Shhh!

Great Cheap Date Challenge #12

“Put on tweeds and meet at the public library at an appointed time, library cards in hand. Decide on an esoteric topic or writer whose work has always fascinated you both. With the help of the reference librarian or the computer, carry out your literary scavenger hunt and then, treasures in hand (you can fight over who will carry whose books), walk to a nearby cafe for a caffeine fix while poring over your printed finds.”

OK. We might have bent the rules a bit on this one. Regardless of your faith background or beliefs, you simply cannot call Charlotte home without paying a visit to the Billy Graham Library. The locals tell us that Christmas is the best time to go, so last night chose this spot for our Great Cheap Date Challenge #12. Every tree, bush, and building was covered in Christmas lights. We had just missed the carolers, but the living nativity scene was still aglow with a very brave Mary and Joseph posing for passerbys in 30 degree temperature and freezing rain. There was even a live camel! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a camel up close. Awkward creatures. Anyway, the real treat was a tour of Billy Graham’s boyhood home. It figures that while I’m walking through the very rooms that this legendary evangelist was taught the path of Christ, I would be most thrilled with the decor of the kitchen.

I would probably get so much more ironing done if I had one of those fold out wall units.

Anyway, on to more spiritual matters…. The height of our experience was the gallery tour of the reverend’s life and work with a special exhibit dedicated to the life of his late wife, Ruth Bell Graham. I realize it is the Billy Graham Library, but I was most impressed with what I learned about Ruth. The old footage captured both her wisdom and firm resolve. She revealed that from their very first date, which was to a performance of Handel’s Messiah, she prayed that she might be given the great honor to walk alongside the promising evangelist as his wife and partner. Ruth said that if she had only known what was in store for the couple, she never would have had the nerve to pray that prayer. I can only imagine what it would be like to be the wife of a world-renowned gospel preacher. When asked if she had ever considered divorce, she replied, “Divorce? No. Murder? Yes.” I mean, here was this ambitious college girl pursuing a life’s work as a missionary to China when Billy waltzed into her life unexpectedly. She went on to raise 5 children (all of whom went on to work in Christian ministry) all while serving an evangelist who brought the gospel to closed, hostile nations and who counseled 11 U.S. presidents. And I complain about Clark playing his music too loudly. She went on to say that being a wife and a mother was one of the greatest callings in the world, and that one could find God in the most mundane tasks of life. The carvings etched into the wood above their living room fireplace simply stated “Divine service will be conducted here daily.”

This was the wedding dress that she sewed for herself. Later she trimmed the trosseau and used the material to line the bassinets of all five of her children.

Billy Graham describes his wife Ruth, as the “greatest Christian he has every known”. Needless to say, I was so inspired by what I learned of Ruth Bell Graham that I plan to collect some of her titles and read through them in the coming months. This was definitely one of my favorite dates so far, because while I was admiring this great woman who supported a man who’s life work has literally impacted millions of people, I was so challenged to become the wife that my husband needs me to be in order to fulfill what God has called him to do.

Heaven, help me!

 

Volunteer, My Dear?

“Although running off and joining the Peace Corps may not be practical at this time in your lives, there are other ways to spend time together while contributing to the welfare of others. Nonprofit organizations often put out a call for volunteers around major holidays, though you may want to avoid the rush and make a few calls yourself to see which cause could use a cooperative couple of volunteers.”

As I’ve mentioned before, Clark and I met playing music. We could be in a raging fight, but if we start playing music together, in a matter of minutes we can completely forget why we were on each other’s case. It is a gift really– to have a common interest that has continued to bind us since the very beginning. We were reflecting on this very fact as we prepared for this week’s Great Cheap Date Challenge #11 at Charlotte Emergency Housing— a homeless shelter for working families. This mission is unique in that it allows whole families to remain together in one shelter, rather than be divided. Center City Church sponsored this year’s Christmas party for the house, and we were the musical entertainment. We dusted off our Christmas tunes and attempted to spread some holiday cheer to 14 families who are fighting to stay together under the crushing weight of poverty and homelessness. One 4-year-old named Cameron attached himself to me early in the evening requesting song after song, to which I finally gave him the mic as we sang yet another round of Jingle Bells together. He must have asked me half a dozen times afterward, “Did I do good?” When he received his stocking filled with toys and candy, I expected him to tear into it like any other American, consumer-bred child would have. Instead, he lined up his new matchbox cars still in the packaging underneath the Christmas tree and stared at them for a long while. I dare say that I haven’t seen wonder in a child’s eyes like that before. It was a beautiful night shared with beautiful people. As we were preparing to leave, I caught sight of a framed canvas on the wall entitles, “My Name is Not ‘Those People’.” The following words stopped me dead in my tracks and humbled me right on the spot.

“My name is not ‘Those People’. I am a loving woman, a mother in pain, giving birth to the future, where my babies have the same chance to thrive as anyone.

My name is not ‘inadequate’. I did not make my husband leave us- he chose to, and chooses not to pay child support. Truth is though, there isn’t a job base for all fathers to support their families. While society turns its head, my children pay the price.

My name is not ‘Problem and Case to Be Managed’. I am a capable human being and citizen, not a client. The social service system can never replace the compassion and concern of loving Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Fathers, Cousins, Community- all the bonded people who need to be but are not present to bring children forward to their potential.

My name is not ‘Lazy Dependent Welfare Mother.” If the unwaged work of parenting, homemaking and community building was factored into the Gross Domestic Product, my work would have untold value. And I wonder why my middle-class sister whose husbands support them to raise their children are glorified- and they don’t get called lazy and dependent.

My name is not ‘Ignorant, Dumb, or Uneducated’. I live with an income of $621 with $169 in food stamps. Rent is $585. That leaves $36 a month to live on. I am such a genius of surviving that I could balance the state budget in an hour.

Never mind that there is a lack of living-wage jobs. Never mind that it is impossible to be the sole emotional, social, and economic support to a family. Never mind that parents are losing their children to the gangs, drugs, stealing, prostitution, social workers, kidnapping, the streets, the predator. Forget about putting money into our schools- just build more prisions.

The wind will stop before I let my children become a statistic. Before you give into the urge to blame me, the blame that lets us go blind and unknowing into the isolation that disconnects us, take another look. Don’t go away. For I am not the problem, but the solution. And my name is not ‘Those People’.”

— By Julia Dinsmore

24/7… sometimes

It’s Mom’s early morning out, and after the night I had last night (see “Elmo Potty” post), I had my sights set on checking out a prayer room that came very highly recommended in NoDa, Charlotte’s historic arts district. The website didn’t disclose an address as far as I could tell. I suppose I was to pray and ask God to lead me to their location. So there I was driving up and down North Davidson at 6am this morning in 25 degree weather hunting for the 24/7 prayer room feeling anything but Godly, when Hallelujah! I found it! The motion sensor floodlight above the door lit up at my approach as though the angels had been expecting me. Did I mention the place is called “24/7”? This was the sign on the door….

Oh, the irony…. oh well, there’s always Amelies, right?

Tallest in Town

I missed you yesterday! My posts this week will most likely be a bit erratic since we are in Mississippi celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday with Clark’s wonderful family. Our children did not get the memo yesterday that thirteen hours in the car the day prior  automatically qualifies Mommy and Daddy for a next morning sleep-in. They were up at 5:30am CST. Strong. Coffee. But I had to fill you in on our Cheap Date Night Challenge #8!

Tallest in Town

“Do a little research to find the tallest building in town, then meet by the elevators after work and have a vertical adventure. This adventure is especially fun when the top floor has a view. If you are a fan of express elevators, you can conquer a few other buildings on the same date. And if vertigo hasn’t set in by this time, head to your corner cafe or bar to share whatever comes in the tallest glass they have. While imbibing, tell each other tall tales.”

The Bank of America Corporate Center is the tallest building in Charlotte towering over the city skyline with its impressive 60 stories visible for up to 35 miles from any direction on a clear day. It is not only the tallest building from Philadelphia to Atlanta, but it is the site of the fictional office tower, JSP funds, where Jack Black starred as Hal Larson in the movie Shallow Hal. Pretty cool huh? It would be if we had opted for the tallest building in town rather than the tallest building in town with a view. I love an ear popping elevator adventure as much as the next person, but for our 5-year anniversary, we settled for a view from a mere 27 stories up at a restaurant called Bentley’s on 27 at the top of the Charlotte Plaza building on South College Street. Swank. Everything was impeccably decorated. Even the hostess looked like an Olivia Palermo project. We chose two secluded seats in the corner of the lounge overlooking the city lights where we each enjoyed an apple martini and an appetizer sampler of bacon wrapped filet, calamari with Asian sauce, and ahi tuna with ginger shavings. Quite an upgrade from the chicken chili we had for lunch. I took the Havilland quote to heart last week and wore the tallest shoes I own along with the diamond and pearl earrings that I wore in my wedding.

This is actually one of my favorite shots from our wedding day, and I think it features the earrings quite nicely don’t you?

We reminisced over drinks and appetizers for the better part of 2 hours. Being that high above ground provides me with an arial perspective on life. I feel the same in an airplane window seat– somehow everything I think is so major before take off seems to take its proper place in the grand scheme of things from 30,000 feet up. It felt like we had a bird’s eye view of our married life while overlooking the city Saturday night, and while we both agreed that we have scaled some peaks and valleys, it occurred to us that our marriage is actually only in kindergarten. So, we toasted to not having it all figured out and to another 5 years of summits and free falls.

Happy Thanksgiving week everyone! We are enjoying our holiday Mississippi style…. casseroles and lazy boys, Baby!

How do you plan to celebrate your Turkey Day?

 

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