Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Chaney Farm

I'm tackling a project for the summer and so far it looks like this:

The last time I had anything to do with a garden was when I was probably in middle school and my dad gave me a patch of land on the side of the house. Since then, I have been successful in killing or letting more plants die than I care to admit. In fact, once upon a time when I was single and living at home, I was house sitting for married friends of mine around Christmas. One of my responsibilities was simply to water the Christmas tree. You know, that large, green plant smack in the middle of the living room? Well, you can guess that I somehow "forgot" about the tree and when my friends returned home they were greeted by a brown, brittle shell of their former tree.

I've been telling people that my dad had two green thumbs and two green big toes. It's true. He didn't just make things grow - they flourished. I remember people stopping by our house all of the time, asking him about his flowers, commenting on how great they looked. He spent hours outside in the garden, planting flowers, and taking care of them.

He even planted flowers at our house in Illinois and they looked great until our friendly raccoon, a frequent visitor, dug them all up. We continued to replant them until he got the picture, but they just didn't do as well once they were disrupted. I did plant some tulip bulbs the October before we moved and was able to enjoy those for one season, although I had bought the bulbs way early and then frantically planted them in the dark one night once I realized I was at the deadline of bulb planting season. Even still, they bloomed and from what I hear they've continued to bloom since we've moved away.

Taking on this garden is something I really want to do, and I really want it to succeed. I'm even praying over it that something, something will grow from it. Our friend Greg Bozeman came over and tilled three lines of dirt for us and also donated some compost to my effort. Here's what we're growing:

Sunflowers all along the back row for Addie.
Tomatoes and cucumbers on the middle row.
Cantaloupe and carrots on the first row.

The carrots were a last minute decision and, quite frankly, I'm least optimistic about those. I wanted to grow things I knew we would eat (I don't eat straight up tomatoes but Sabian does. I am hoping to make some salsa) and I'm also hoping we grow enough to give some away.

This process is also a test in patience. I'm not a patient person and these plants, much to my dismay, do not grow overnight. You can imagine my delight when I finally saw these this week:

Now, I'm pretty sure that first photo is just grass, but it is evidence that at least something is going right down there. I'm wary to yank it just in case it actually is something. See how much experience I have? The more little sprouts I see, the more I'll know what to pick and what to leave to grow.

It is a relief to see those leaves coming through the ground. I mean, seeds are cheap, but it is nice to know my efforts thus far are not totally in vain. But, when I actually see fruit, I think I'll experience a mixture of joy and fear - Hooray! What the heck do I do with it now? How do I keep it from dying a tragic Christmas tree death? How do I manage to nurture it to my dinner table? Is this process at all a little like having a kid? Maybe that's giving too much weight to it, but you get the picture.

We have also added some flowers and a pot each of cilantro and rosemary to the mix. I'll add those exciting pictures at a later date.

So, if you're interested, I will chronicle my gardening journey and if you're not, you can skip to the super sweet posts about Addie.

We're about to hit week two since I planted the seeds. We'll see what pops up next.

I am thankful for the awesome weather we've been having and for my continued remembrance to water my plants.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Happy Birthday to Sabian!

Sunday, April 18, Sabian turned 31. I've said it before about being in the ministry and having a family birthday that falls on a Sunday. It's no fun. But, that's why you improvise.

The day before Sabian's birthday, which also happens to be my nephew, Christian's, birthday, Addie and I took Sabian out for the day. First we headed to a local (as in, about 30-40 minutes away) park, one we had both passed and been told about. It is called Under the Oaks park and it is literally under the oaks. Well, under trees, anyway. It's pretty cool how the trees make a canopy over the entire park, making it a perfect place to play. It is also on the water, of what body of water I don't know, and has an awesome playground. Addie, of course, took up residence on the swings but I think she'll love going back when she can really play around.

So, we had a picnic, splashed in the water, and had a little fun at the playground.

After the park we headed home so that Addie could catch a nap before the evening adventure. We headed out early to get dinner because our destination was a mystery to Sabian and I wanted to make sure we got in not too long after the restaurant opened. I wasn't sure how busy it would be, nor was I exactly sure where we were going. It had been years since I had eaten at this particular place and Sabian never had, so I was excited to take him there.

We made it to Captain Anderson's in time to get a table with a great view of the water. The restaurant is located on the docks in Panama City Beach so you are able to watch the boats pull in and bring in their catch. We were more preoccupied with making sure broccoli and bread made it into Addie's mouth rather than on the floor, but it was still a nice view. After dinner we took a stroll along the docks to check out the boats and made our way through the crowd of prom goers waiting to board a boat for their dinner cruise.

On Sabian's actual birthday we celebrated with strawberry shortcake, a candle, and some singing. I think Addie thought we were singing for her because she got that embarrassed look on her face she got when we sang to her for her birthday, minus the tears.

I probably say it a lot, but I am thankful for my husband. He does countless seen and unseen things for us and I under appreciate him, but I sure do love him and am thankful for him.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fish Guts

There's nothing like providing a meal for your family by catching it with your own hands and preparing it at home, fresh out of the water.

So says a boy.

The day before Sabian's birthday our neighbor, Mr. Miller, took Sabian fishing for the day. When Sabian returned home he beamed with pride as he showed off his catch.

Addie and I, of course, were very proud of him and made sure he knew it. I was even happier the next morning after the cooler containing the catch had been removed from my kitchen and replaced with nice, neat ziplocked bags of fish in my freezer, safely out of view and smell.

A couple of nights later Sabian filleted the fish as best as they could be filleted and deboned and this was the end result:

A little oil and some salt and pepper and we had a meal. It was actually pretty good - we're planning on finishing off the rest tomorrow night.

I am thankful for my husband, who had fun preparing us dinner literally from start to finish.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Fish Guts, Seeds & A Birthday...

...this is what we have been up to, and this is what is to come. For now, I'm trying to stick to a before midnight bed time, so I'll just leave you with this teaser and thank you for coming back whenever you do.

Oh, and not to mention, a blue ghost has moved in...

I am thankful for a good weekend.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


If you've been following this blog for a little while you may know that the town where we currently reside is small. Not only is it small, but it is far from many things. In any direction it takes about 30 minutes to get to fast food restaurants, Wal-mart, drugstores, etc. Sure, we have an IGA in town and a drugstore. We even have a Subway and a Hungry Howie's that is less than a year old. But, unless you want to pay a hiked price, it is not unusual to wait until you can make a trip to "town." This can be frustrating when you forgot the chocolate chips you need for that recipe or the gallon of milk you have to have for cereal in the morning. It is a little like this:

There are a couple of schools of thought when it comes to this inconvenience. One is that you just suck it up and make your lists and when you do make it to town you just get anything and everything you need for eternity. Well, not quite, but you get the drift.

You can also just let it get to you and dread it when you have to go, knowing you'll be gone for hours and inevitably forget something.

On any given day I can belong to one of these schools of thoughts.

Not only is it far to get to where you need to go, but that 20-30 minute drive takes place on a two lane highway lined with trees, trees, and more trees. If you're reading this and you are from around my hometown you might say, "Well Melissa, it takes about that long to get to St. Louis. What's the big deal?" The big deal is that the 20-30 minutes it takes to get to St. Louis includes changing scenery and highways that, can you believe, have curves in them! The same time it takes to get to Panama City from Wewa is not the same time it takes to drive to St. Louis.

I've said all of that to say this. Last week we were driving back to Wewa after having been out on one of our mammoth trips. It was dark (no streetlights on the road back to Wewa, of course) and it was bedtime for Addie. As hard as Sabian was working to pacify her with goldfish crackers and silly faces, our girl was done for the day, and so were we. As a result, I was driving - fast.

Now, I've always driven a little fast, and at one point in my life, as I was being pulled over by the diligent cop just doing his job, I would pray that it had been at least a year since my last ticket. Times have changed and while I still tend to drive on the fast side I can't recall when I last had a ticket. I will add that I've never cried or rattled off a sob story to get out of a ticket and only once in my high speed experiences was I given a warning.

So here we were, making our way back to Wewa as quickly as possible in an effort to preserve our sanity and get Addie to bed. All was dark in the opposite direction until...those stinkin' blue and red lights popped on, turned around, and played a game of follow the leader.

To make this long story short, I was let off with a warning. No doubt due to Addie's cries from the back seat, pleading with the lady officer to let her mommy go so we could get home. Those cries sure took on a sweet sound in a hurry.

Needless to say, I am watching my speed, but I'll admit it is difficult. What else is there to do on that long, straight, tree-lined highway back to the swamp? I suppose it is better than having to pay for a ticket. Which, I'm sure, I'd have to drive that same, long, 30 minutes to pay. Good riddance.

I am thankful for the merciful officer that let us go that night. Thanks to Addie, too!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Myth: Gators Live in Florida

I'm going to say what I'm thankful for first - my neighbors! The Millers are wonderful people who have been wonderful to us literally since our first day here. I'll never forget the first morning we woke up in Wewa - there was a knock on our door and it was Mrs. Miller asking if we needed anything. She came back with cartons of OJ and milk for us and she and her husband have been as hospitable since.

Mr. Miller is a retired game warden. You may remember my mention of him in my rattlesnake post. Funny, it seems I mentioned the OJ and milk in that post, too. Just goes to show what an impression it made on me!

Last week we went over for a little visit (because that's what you do in small towns) and Mrs. Miller suggested we go for a ride with Mr. Miller in his fishing boat. You have to know that she is a middle school teacher and is very smiley and expressive. Yet, Mr. Miller is waaaay more subdued. They are a fun mix. You should try playing Cranium with them - one of the best experiences, hands down. But, I digress.

Long story short, thanks to Mr. Miller, Addie had her first boat ride earlier this week. It was also actually my first ride out on the water since we moved to Wewa. One of the things I learned about Wewa before we moved here was that this little community
boasts some of the best fresh water fishing in the country. Fishing tournaments are held here and people come here just to fish and also to hunt during those seasons.

Owning a boat here is like owning a car or bicycle - most anyone you know has one. The waterways around here still confuse me, as there are two lakes in Wewa, along with the Dead Lakes, which is where we were boating, which I learned the other day feed into the river, which is where a lot of people spend their leisure time.
Once out on the water, it really is pretty. We saw a wide range of types of birds, turtles, and a fish even greeted us by popping out of the water. In fact, later on, a fish made a swift snack out of Addie's treats.

For the most part Addie loved the trip. She cried a couple of times, but as Mr. Miller said, being on the boat can make you sleepy, and I think that's exactly what happened to Addie. She also wasn't too fond of the life jacket, but it's kind of like a car seat - she just had to learn to deal with it. Her favorite part of the trip was leaning over the side of the boat to put her hand in the spray. Hand in spray, hand in hair, hand in spray, hand in mouth, and so forth.

It didn't feel like we were out for a couple of hours, but when we pulled in we were sufficiently tired, even though I'm not sure what it was that made us so sleepy.

It was a good afternoon, and even though Addie is so young that she'll only know some of these experiences through pictures, I'm glad we are able to do things like this, thanks to the sweet people around us.

Oh, and as for the title of this post, we saw NO gators. I haven't seen a single one since we moved here. Bears, yes, gators, no. I don't believe they live in this state.

One more thing - as for that photo of Sabian, I had to laugh to myself as we rode along, wind whipping through his hair. It gave me a glimpse of what he might look like with 80s fabulous, senior pastor, bouffant hair.

Monday, April 5, 2010

'Twas the Day After Easter...

...and all through the house, not a creature was stirring...which means now I've jinxed myself and I better hurry with this post so that I get it in before that girl wakes up.

I was depressed. The thought of spending yet another holiday without my family was weighing on me. Through that I realized that instead of being depressed I just needed to make it a good day for the three of us as a family. If we were going to be away, why not establish some things for us? I was still sad, but we had a great day. Extremely laid back and the weather was picture perfect. After Addie's nap we headed outside to present her with her Easter wares (a basket from us and treats from our sweet Ms. Connie). Of course the first thing Addie picked up was a leaf, even with her basket and other fun things sitting right in front of her. Her new books and shiny Elmo toothbrush didn't even entice her at first but soon she got down to the nitty gritty.

What's that sweet treat Addie is eating? Why, I'm so glad you asked. It's a cake pop! My friend Lyndsay posted about these cake pops she made so I decided to take on the task myself. I was a little nervous about it and just knew mine would not turn out very well. Pssh, well, nay sayers (which, really, is just ME), they actually came out and they were cute! They also tasted pretty good and I'm looking forward to making this a Chaney holiday tradition. Don't mind the "blank" pops in the picture. They were rejects, but we were happy to take care of them.

Oh, and I can't forget the Easter dress pictures.

Did you see those CURLS?!!

I am thankful for a good Easter weekend. Good for many reasons, and not just because my cake pops worked out!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Spring has Sprung

We've been taking advantage of some of the beautiful weather we've been having here by heading outside. Addie loves being outside, but given that she's still moving mostly on all fours, plus my hate/hate relationship with the ants, I have to keep a fairly watchful eye as she makes her way around the yard. When our front door opens, if she catches a glimpse of blue sky and it closes without her getting to take a look at it, watch out!

Before we left for Illinois early last month we spent an afternoon in the yard and once again Addie showed her penchant for choosing sticks and leaves.

Just this week we ventured out to swing for the first time in weeks. This lasted *surprisingly* just a few minutes before Addie let it be known that she wanted to explore rather than be strapped in to some silly swing. What?! Is this the same girl who wanted to swing forever?

Then, finally, we made it to the beach one afternoon. We lasted about an hour before we gave in to the wind whipping the sand around our legs, but for that hour Addie enjoyed playing in the sand (not eating it!) and watching the birds devour our stale crackers.

Aside from the warm weather, one of the telltale signs of the season change here is our yard. Or front yard, as you may have seen from earlier posts, is pretty big. Once it starts turning green it makes such a difference, although right now it is harder to tell since we have piles of dirt strewn about. That's another story. Either way, it is nice to see a stretch of green out there and makes me forget, momentarily, about those pesky ants.

I also loooooove the smell of the wild onions in the air. That's one of my favorite signs of Spring.

I am thankful for a little girl who is teaching me that being cooped up inside is not a good thing. Fresh(ish) air, tweeting birds, and warm sunshine are good for the soul.

Happy Easter, everyone! Amidst the eggs and the ham and the other festivities, take time to remember the gift that we've been given, the reason we can rejoice each Easter and every day.