Archive for November, 2012

VA trip summary

Life is full and that is good, but it means that it’s difficult to remember what happened a few days ago, much less a few weeks ago, and THAT means that if I don’t make time to blog about something right away, it just gets lost.

My trip to see Katie was awesomely wonderful, and I think I was working on writing about our Sunday, but I don’t know if I will ever complete that post.  = (   Therefore, just for the record, I will copy here my journal’s full list from our time together.  Then, if the details of Sunday and Monday ever get blogged, that will be a bonus.

Dr. Roberts’ logic class

Subway lunch with Josiah

Dr. Spinney’s U.S. history class

yellow schoolhouse

paninis and peach ice cream

Veteran’s Day parade in Manassas


Roy Rogers lunch (with nifty drink machine)

Manassas battlefield

salad supper (with homegrown tomatoes)

Bookworm Adventures


Ball’s Bluff battlefield

White’s Ferry (both day and night!)

C & O canal

Violette’s lock

Wal-Mart and Target

mac & cheese supper with fresh pineapple

packing and wrapping the shoebox

Andrew Peterson concert

care package to Josiah

Union cemetery

picnic and hike at Algonkian Park

Hail to the Chief

On a tender note, we got up at 4:15 AM to leave at 4:45 AM to drive an hour and-a-half in the rain (it had been beautifully clear and sunny every day I was there) to the airport in Baltimore (which is, amazingly northEAST of Leesburg – how can that be?!??) to check in by 6:30 AM for a 7:30 AM flight, and as we finally approached the airport, I was thinking, “This time with Katie has been so very special.  She made every detail wonderful for me.  She did this to bless me for my birthday, but I know that she also did it just because she likes me and we enjoy being together.  The fact that she would WANT to spend four days with me, for fun, is just precious, and now I’m gonna have to get out of this car at the curb and say goodbye, and how can I possibly communicate to her what’s in my heart?”

Just then, about a mile from the airport, Katie turned to me and said, “What are you thinking?”  Sheesh!  What a question!  So, through tears (hers as well as mine), I told her the above paragraph.  We did the unison sniff-and-eye-wipe, and as we pulled up to the curb, I said, “Well, since I already said all that, I won’t have to say it standing out in the cold and rain!”  So we just hugged, I walked into the airport, and she drove home for an hour’s nap before going to work.

It was a sweet ending to a special time.

The beginning of the Sunday post

On my Katie vacation, I morphed into somewhat of a night owl. We stayed up late and I slept in a little bit.  Actually, I never did really pay much attention to the clock.  When your entire goal is to have fun with one of your favorite people, thins like, “What time is it?” just really don’t matter.

We did get up in time to go to church Sunday.  Katie attends Free Life Church in Leesburg, and there are a number of features of that church that I really like.  It’s mostly young singles and young families, so even with my streaks of gray, I felt like I fit in.  = )

(to be continued, I hope!)

I love a parade!

Our second day together began with peanut butter granola bars for breakfast, followed by a drive of nearly an hour to Manassas, Virginia, where our goal was to attend the local Veteran’s Day Parade.  It would occur on Saturday, November 10, at 11:00 AM.  This was somewhat disconcerting to me, as I firmly believe that Veteran’s Day Parades should always begin at 11:00 AM, on November 11.  However, we were somewhat limited in our choice of parades, as the one in Manassas is the ONLY Veteran’s Day Parade in the entire Greater Washington, D.C. area! Unbelievable and frankly unconscionable.

We parked at a CVS pharmacy and walked several blocks through and around downtown Manassas, seeking the perfect standing place from which to view the festivities.  Manassas is kind of like Branson, but on a slightly larger scale and with – as seems to be the case throughout northern Virginia – lots of lovely old buildings.  We parked ourselves near the grandstand, because we figured that was where the various groups and troupes would pause to do their thing.  I especially wanted to have the marching bands play right on front of me.

The parade began with the introduction of a bunch of dignitaries, and we endured that.  Then a lady stood in the middle of the street and sang The Star-Spangled Banner.  I sang along, because I believe that’s what you’re supposed to do with the national anthem, but it made me think of Ms. Bonnie Jean telling the story of the bombardment of Ft. McHenry, in the old schoolhouse at Silver Dollar City, and I began to cry.  = )  Then came a marching band, which was just dandy.  Following that, we were treated to a LOT of military-looking vehicles, a number of color guards, a lot of Boy Scouts, a fair number of Girl Scouts, two bagpipe-and-drum groups, and about 75 motorcycles, and another big jeep-looking thing.  and that was it.

I was stunned.  Only ONE marching band?  No Shriners in tiny cars?  No Mustangs?  No men in knickers on big wheel bicycles?  No candy thrown?  And no fire engine at the end?!?!?  I am truly  thankful that I got to go to a Veteran’s Day Parade, but I really think the folks in Manassas need to contact the folks in Branson to find out how the thing is supposed to be done!

We enjoyed a great lunch at Roy Rogers.  I hadn’t had a cheeseburger in quite some time and it was very tasty.  Any guesses on what Katie had?  = )  The niftiest thing in that restaurant was a self-serve drink machine that was VERY high-tech.  You select the drink you want (about ten options), get your ice, then select the specific type of drink, and it comes squirting out.  For example, I initially chose lemonade, but on the second selection, I was given the option of some eight different kinds of lemonade!  I chose raspberry lemonade and it was so good I took a refiull to go.

“Go” was down the road a piece to the Manassas battlefield, site of two significant Civil War battles; First Manassas in July of 1861, and Second Manassas in August of 1862.  At the visitor center we saw various exhibits and learned stuff about First Manassas, but the really neat thing was the guided walking tour of a farm at the other end of the battlefield where Second Manassas transpired.  The guide was fascinating and we both enjoyed the walk and learned a lot, including the fact that the South tended to name its battles for local towns, while the North generally named its battles for geographic features.  Hence, these battles are known in Virginia as the Battles of Manassas (town) and in the North as the Battles of Bull Run (creek).

Having spent the day on the road, we wrapped up with a shopping trip to Wal-Mart (NEVER go the Wal-Mart in Leesburg!) and Target, to purchase the goodies Katie wanted for filling her Operation Christmas Child shoebox and some items of interest for Josiah, who had a crammed packed weekend, with major paper writing and study for a big test.  He had helped Katie and me on some stuff and we wanted to bless him with some junk food to aid the study process and a couple items of warm clothing, of which we were fairly sure he had none.  Llamas do have fur, but they still tend to get chilly in the winter, and winter does come early in Colorado.

At home, we had a fine dinner of salad with homegrown tomatoes, followed by a grand session of Bookworm Adventures.

Great times with Katie!

So far, my visit with Katie has been great! Here’s a summary of our first almost 24 hours together:

It was so wonderful to see her face when she picked me up in Baltimore!  We got home around 12:45 AM.

The apartment she shares with Miriam and Stephanie looks superb.

Her room decor is really perfect – so very Katie – and she GAVE ME HER ROOM!  She’s sleeping on the living room floor on an air mattress.

We went to he library at PHC, and I got to visit with Mrs. Thornhill (Katie’s former boss) and Mrs. Pensgard who direct the library, it warmed my heart to hear them say such glowing things about her.  = )   But then, she got permission to take me “behind the counter” to show me a new acquisition the library was storing there.  My heart was way more than warmed when she handed me her thesis, published and bound in blue hardcover as an official holding the PHC library.  I was SO proud, and it made me cry.  I took some pics of her with the book.

We attended a logic class taught by Dr. Roberts.  When we walked in, Katie said, “Do you see the Llama?”  I glanced around, but didn’t see him.  She said, grinning, “He’s here.”  And then I noticed the guy in the pea coat at the marker board, writing something I couldn’t understand.  It was Josiah, writing some computer code in long strings across the board!  He finished just before the class started, and turned around and smiled at us.  The class was very interesting, and we got to talk with Dr. Roberts afterward.  A super nice guy.

I treated them to lunch at Subway, when we learned that the dining hall was featuring teriyaki chicken; not our favorite.

U.S. History with Dr. Spinney was wonderful, and I now have a good overall understanding of Manifest Destiny.

I took a few pics of the two of them for possible use with Christmas newsletters, and we bid Josiah farewell to work on his papers.

Katie and I saw Amy, and that was fun.  We also met quite a few of Katie’s and/or Josiah’s friends. I continue to be very favorably impressed with that school and the people there.  It is a special privilege for our kids to be able to interact with and learn from such high-caliber faculty and staff.

We then went searching for The Yellow Schoolhouse, taking the scenic route along River Road (Shenandoah River, that is), where certain members of the landed gentry have on the left side of the road mansions on huge spreads of land and on the right side of the road private river access, often featuring such amenities as picnic tables, swings, and porta-potties!  We passed through downtown Frogtown, the only sign of which was the Mountain Baptist Church, notable for its two front doors.

Having thoroughly enjoyed the rural scenery,we continued toward The Yellow Schoolhouse, and on the way ended up in Berryville, which is the county seat for Clarke County.  We then spent a rather humorous stretch of time searching for The Old Jail, a small stone building constructed around 1800.  While we never did find the jail – and in fact question whether it ever existed – we did find bathrooms that can only be used by janitors, an awesome monument to Confederate soldiers, a nifty auto parts shop, an 1820s building that has been converted into apartments, a parking meter which will eat your quarter and then flash “Expired” in big red letters, and a kind policeman who promised us he wouldn’t give us a ticket for parking illegally.

We did get to the Yellow Schoolhouse about dusk and we when we pulled in I asked Katie if we could go in.  ‘I don’t think so,” she replied, but I walked up the wooden steps anyway.  After all, I had already opened a lot of doors and asked a lot of strangers a lot of questions.  I’ve been knowing about The Yellow Schoolhouse for s couple years, so now that I finally had it in my sights, I wanted to get the full experience.  I did notice a pair of men’s tennis shoes on the deck an told Katie it looked like someone had been there recently.  I put my hand on the knob to see if the door was locked, and we heard a dog bark inside the schoolhouse!  We suddenly realized that someone LIVED in The Yellow Schoolhouse, and we needed to get off his property quickly!  Which we did.

Back home we ate excellent paninis for supper (with homegrown tomatoes) and had peach ice cream for dessert!  What could be yummier?!?!

We went online to look at maps, figure out where all we had gone, and make plans for tomorrow.  It’s been a tremendously wonderful day.


At least Chuck won!

I was talking today with someone who said he had had lunch with a friend who had won on Tuesday.  He said, “I told my friend that he was one of the few people I had voted for who won.  He’s our new assessor.”  New assessor?!? Why, that would have to be our good friend, Chuck Pennel!  He won the Republican primary in August by just a couple hundred votes, and he was unopposed in the general election.  I voted for him anyway, just because I could.  = )

In reviewing my dutifully marked sample ballot and comparing it to the election results, I see that I voted for nine individuals whose races were contested.  Of those nine, two of my picks won; our incumbent lieutenant governor, Peter Kinder, and our incumbent U.S. representative, Billy Long.  The other seven, from U.S. president down to Taney County Eastern Commissioner, all lost.

It has been a very discouraging day for our nation, but at least we know will have an awesome county assessor!

In a one-quart zip-loc bag?!?!?

So I’m going to make a trip to see Katie later this week. She gave me this trip as a birthday present! I am not what you would call a seasoned traveler, and I am not one to madly throw things in a bag a few minutes before departure.  I start thinking about the packing a week in advance, I make a list four or five days out, and three days before I leave the suitcase is on the bed.  Some people have been known to scoff at this M.O., but it works well for me, and in fact, I almost always end up using 97% of what I pack.

Today was the day to begin the packing, and since I’ll only be gone five days, and since we want things to be as quick and simple at airports as possible, I decided to do only a carry-on bag.  While sitting at the gym yesterday, I made a list of what all I want or need to take, and there is clearly no way on God’s green earth to fit it all in a carry-on bag!

I am allowed one carry-on (small suitcase) and one additional item, so I have chosen to take my blue backpack as my additional item.  I am hoping that a series of strong, courteous men will sequentially heave my bag up into and down out of the overhead compartments, and I’ll shove the backpack under the seat in front of me.  This means that I will need to have in the backpack anything I might like to access for something like eight hours – including but not limited to:  book, pencil and paper, journal, breath mints, lip stuff, a jacket, MP3 player, ear buds, driver’s license, money, credit card, and itinerary.

The suitcase needs to carry toiletries, PJs, underwear and socks, and a business casual outfit for classes and church, as well as a board game we love and some tomatoes.  Oh, it might also be nice to have a couple changes of clothes, but right now those have dropped lower on the priority list.  I’m thinking that Katie won’t mind seeing me in the same jeans and one of two shirts for several days, and if all else fails, there’s a washer and dryer in her apartment, so in theory, I could wash one set while wearing the other.

The season also complicates matters.  If the lows are in the 40s and the highs are in the 60s and you’re not exactly sure what all you’re going to be doing (that is, will you be mostly inside, mostly outside, or a combination thereof?), do you take a jacket or a coat?  Or a jacket and a coat?  My current thought is to wear a short-sleeved shirt and jacket on the plane and pack a sweatshirt and another short-sleeved shirt.  Although, if space continues to be at a premium, maybe I should wear the sweatshirt AND jacket (and risk sweating as I hoof it through the Atlanta airport) and shove two short-sleeved shirts in the suitcase.

Well, none of that is as complicated as the liquids-prohibited-in-carry-ons rule.  See, all I’m taking is carry-ons, so (A) I can’t take more than 3 ounces of any liquid or gel , and (B) ALL such liquids or gels must fit into ONE one-quart zip-loc.  THIS IS A FARCE!  For crying out loud, I am a WOMAN!!!  Here is the list of stuff that I need to take, but can only take IF I can cram it into my one-quart zip-loc:





hair gel


inhaler (shouldn’t need it but would hate to be without)

lip gloss

lip therapy (vaseline)


The online blurb says this stuff needs to “fit comfortably” in the bag.  I did get it all in, and the bag is zipped closed and has not ruptured, but it sure doesn’t look like the resident components are comfortable.  I’m thinking that “intimately cramped” or “painfully crowded” would be more accurate descriptions.


So am I a cheer mom now?  Surely not!  But it’s been important to us to keep Andrew tumbling during this season when his favorite coach, Carl, is not working at the Y.  That has meant driving to Nixa every Monday evening for him to participate in a tumbling class at All-Star Gymnastics and Cheer.  He strongly prefers me to sit and watch him, and since I don’t have anywhere else to go in Nixa for an hour, I usually bring my computer and try to get something done while I watch him flip.  I can’t get online here, so I blog in Word for posting later.

It’s a little sad to me that Andrew doesn’t seem to be progressing much and that he’s not up to the level of the other girls (it’s all girls) in the class.  I think the part that really gets to me is that he thinks he’s as advanced as them or better, but even this non-athletic mom can tell that that is simply not true.  Andrew has never been challenged in the area of self-esteem.  = )   I have tried to encourage him to work toward mastering some of the skills the others have conquered, especially his standing back tuck, his punch front followed by something other than a roll, and his “full” (round-off back handspring back layout with a full twist).  He had almost mastered the full on the floor at the Y with Carl (they normally master new skills first on the very springy trampoline and then later on the less springy gym floor), but all I usually see him do here is a series after series after series of back handsprings.

At least he is moving and getting a decent workout once a week.  For that I am thankful.  I just wish I knew how to motivate him and help him be more teachable.  He is clearly not the only Roberts to struggle with pride. . .

Ripped ’em out

I got tired of looking out at the dead Morning Glory vines hanging all over the mailboxes and the dead dahlias and dead marigolds in the front bed, so this afternoon I finally got the snippers and ripped ’em all out.  I also whacked off the wilting and shriveled mums in the mailbox bed.  In addition, I got tired of the dead silver maple tree (that I keep running into) next to the big bed, so I grabbed it and twisted, expecting nothing to happen, and the thing snapped off at the ground!  Andrew was watching and was very impressed by my brute strength.

Hayride a success!

We had 33 folks, including three new families, at our life group’s hayride outreach tonight.  It took lots of planning, recruiting, and work, but a number of us pulled together and pulled it off.  Most of the folks met here at our house at 4:30 PM, and we carpooled up to the low water bridge at Round Mountain Road.  From there, we loaded everyone onto two flatbed trailers of hay (straw actually) for  leisurely three-mile jaunt out into the boonies.  It was a gorgeous evening, and the scenery through there is really spectacular. 

Being severely allergic to hay, I rode in the cab of one of the trucks, but the folks on the hay bales really seemed to have a good time.  Scott had most of the kids and teens on his hay trailer, and he had them laughing, singing, and carrying on like crazy!  The other hay trailer seemed a bit more sedate, although they, too did some singing and hollering. 

Once back home, we lit a bonfire and roasted hot dogs.  Scott and Andrew had strung some playroom lights out there, and we turned on the lights in the camper, so it wasn’t pitch black.  We were a little slim in the side dish and dessert department, but we had loads of dogs and gallons of soda.  I think everyone got enough to eat. 

The kids played, the adults visited, and by 9:00 PM most everyone had cleared out.  Then I re-set the clocks to give us all a glorious extra hour of sleep.  What could be nicer?

Oh, I must explain how we got the hay.  I had been assigned to price and arrange for acquisition of the hay.  I wasn’t sure how to do that, so I figured I’d call the Mule Barn and see how much hay bales were selling for.  Two weeks ago, I had not yet made that call, when, one day as I was picking up Andrew from his piano lesson, I saw, tooling down Bee Creek Road, a pick-up truck pulling a flatbed trailer piled high with hay bales!  I said to Andrew, “LOOK!  There’s hay!!!”  Just then, the truck pulled into a driveway, and I told Andrew, “I’m going to go find out where that hay came from.”  So I pulled into the driveway, walked past a No Trespassing sign, and met the man getting out of his truck.  I introduced myself, told him our church was planning a hayride, and asked him where he got his hay.  He told me that the Mule Barn was selling it for $6, but that he’d be glad to sell it to me for $4.  We shook, I got his business card, and he asked me to call him and remind him.

Well, a couple days ago, Scott tried to call him and couldn’t reach him.  Scott then drove over there and just happened to get there when the man was out in his yard.  They talked and the man told Scott that he really needed the hay, but that if we would bring it back on Sunday, we could pick it up on Saturday and use it FOR FREE!!!  So that is exactly what we did.  What amazing favor!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.