Friday, July 24, 2009

Watermelon Festival?

Today I had just Ally and decided that we should go on an adventure. So I looked up today's date and East Texas and discovered that there is a Watermelon Festival just an hour away!

Doesn't the thought of juicy, cold, FREE watermelon just set your mouth to watering? What a great way to spend a summer day in July.

So I called my best friend, Pam, and told her I'd pick up her and Weasle (her daughter - just her nickname but I've been calling her that for so long I rarely use her real name) and we'd go to a Watermelon Festival!

I decided to bring Beast because she loves to travel and folks love to pet her. Seems like people are just nicer in general when you've got a cute little dog.

The directions were easy - pretty much straight north, then hang a right and go to the watermelon patch. Keep in mind that I keep using the word 'watermelon'.

We parked in a nice shady spot. It wasn't crowded at all, in fact we were the only car parked in this spot. We took that as a sign that luck was on our side. (I definitely need to read my signs better)

Ally had worn her boots and her jeans and told me she was a cowboy. So we needed to find her a cowboy hat, of course. There were some shaded booths so we strolled around. We saw a booth for air brush painted tattoos. Ally picked out a rose and decided she wanted it on her arm. As she was getting her tattoo, we were looking at all the different designs and I wondered out loud how Beast would look with a tattoo....

A small dog gets lots of attention, a small dog with a tattoo gets even more attention! Everyone who saw Beast laughed and it was like having our own icebreaker.

We got Ally a cowboy hat, we had lunch at a wonderful Mexican food stand and picked up a few more things.

Did I mention we were at a watermelon festival? We kept looking for watermelons. Sadly, we never found any. We found funnel cakes so we were sure it was a festival, but there weren't any watermelons. There weren't many vendors either. We weren't sure what the draw was. We figured it was watermelons. Did I mention we never saw any watermelons?

Ally told me she 'really, really' wanted to go to Grammy's house. So we knew it was time to head home. We made a last stop at the pony rides. There was a pony there who was about the size of Christy's doberman. Ally wanted to ride that pony. So the folks saddled up Peanut and Ally got to ride a real pony. She was tentative but finally let herself enjoy the ride. Instead of going around in a circle, they walked her all around the field nearby. When we were finished, they didn't even charge us!

Someone else gave us some free roses too. Pretty amazing when you think about it. Cute grandkid and cute dog seem to equal free stuff at Watermelon Festivals! (did I mention we never saw any watermelons?)

We headed home, full of memories, smiles and funnel cake. Definitely a successful adventure.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

What's in a name?

I am Ruth Alice. I was named after my maternal grandmother and my Aunt Alice. As a child, I loved having the same name as my beloved grandmother. And as I grew up, I loved that my name represented 2 women whom I love dearly.

Naturally, we decided to choose names for our children with special meanings too.

Christina Gail - Christina was a family name from both sides of our family. (Good Swedish name on my side, good Norwegian name on Kevin's side.) Gail was named in honor of my best friend who was tragically killed a month before Christy's birth.

Jaime Renee - Jaime's name has 2 special meanings. First, in French, her name means 'love reborn'. We almost lost her during my pregnancy and were warned that there might be brain damage. When she was born perfectly healthy, we felt we'd gotten a second chance to love this baby. Also, I had a dear friend, Jim, that we wanted to honor with a namesake. And my late friend Gail's middle name was Renee. We felt it a sweet way to keep her memory alive.

Kylene Larie - Here I confess we fell in love with the name. I saw a little girl performing with a gymnastic team and her name was Kylene. I just really liked it. But we were unable to come up with a middle name that we liked and that had special meaning. We finally chose Larie because a couple in our church in Mesa had adopted us and especially the girls. She had been so good to us that it just felt right naming Kylene after her.

And our girls have continued the tradition.

Russell James - Jaime used Slade's middle name and James for Jaime (and my friend Jim.)

Randall Stoddard - Jaime and Slade honored Slade's dad by using his middle name. And they chose Stoddard in Kevin's honor since he had 3 girls. This was to carry the Stoddard name on.

Joshua Steven - Christy and Kyle named Joshua because Christy knew that was the only boy name we'd ever had but didn't get the chance to use it. So they used it, to honor us. Steven was Kyle's dad's name. He'd died a few years previously but his memory will contine.

Julia Ruth - Kyle chose Julia and Ruth was in my honor. It melts my heart when Julia talks to me about "our" name...

Allyson Larie - Kylene wanted to honor me and Aunt Alice but wanted the name updated so Allyson it is. And Trey really likes Larie so Kylene was honored.

Benjamin Thomas - Trey really enjoys history and has much respect for our founding fathers. This strong name has deep roots.

Then, tonight, one of my former youth group kids came to visit. I was her youth leader when she was in 7th grade and we just adopted her into the family and have stayed close to her, even as she grew up, married and is now having her 2nd child. Her newest baby is a girl and she asked if they could name her after me! They're also naming the baby after her grandmother.

There have been times through the years when I doubted myself as a parent or mentor. I worried that I was too strict, too lenient, too aloof, too smothering. How sweet is our God, to give us a glimpse of things we've done right. Not so that we can gloat, but so that we can be encouraged and feel loved.

And then so that we can say, it was all worth it.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


The other day I had the grandkids in the car and we were all going swimming. The conversation was definitely thought provoking.

Russell was talking about going dirt bike riding with Oscar. So Josh chimed in saying that he wanted to go too. They then played a game of 'can you top that' regarding hanging out with Oscar.

Being grandparents sufficiently removes us from the responsibilities so that we can be friends.

That conversation got me to thinking about my own grandparents. I didn't know my father's parents at all. My dad's mother died when he was about 3. I only saw his father for an afternoon every other year or so. My only real memory of him was his noticing my braces and then offering to remove them with sheep shears! I knew he was teasing by the twinkle in his eye and I remember he called me "Ruthie". But there was no relationship really.

I remember my mother's parents much better. My memories of my mother's father are dimmer because he died when I was 10. Then my grandmother came to live with us. I was named after my grandmother and I adored her. The year she lived with us was the only time in my life that I came home from school to someone there who wanted to hear about my day. My parents both worked and I don't ever remember just talking with my parents. I must have, though, because I have lots of memories of them telling me to stop talking!

But I remember talks with my grandmother. Before she was married, she was an elocutionist. I think the generic term would be 'after dinner speaker'. Back in the early 1900's, an after dinner speaker was often hired to entertain guests. They would often give a dramatic reading of a popular book of the day. I got to hear stories of her readings and then she would work with me on my speech. She taught me tongue twisters and had me repeat them over and over until I could recite them flawlessly.

Grandchildren are God's way of compensating us for growing old.

My grandmother would often darn socks (I don't remember socks with holes but they must have been someone's socks). She could also tat. She offered to teach me but I was clumsy and very left handed and was never able to master my fingers.

I used to love The Monkees TV show and my grandmother hated it. It was slapstick humor and she would always tell me that she couldn't stand to see things (like furniture) being needlessly broken, even if it wasn't real. She would mend my clothes that I would regularly tear and she listened to me. More than anyone else in my childhood, my grandmother really listened. And I knew without a shadow of doubt that I was her favorite. That was a very, very cherished memory because I had never been and never was again in my childhood, someone's favorite.

Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.

Kevin has wonderful memories of his mother's parents too. He loved going fishing with Grandpa and just talking with him. He still talks about things his grandmother used to bake. And we still laugh at some of Grandma's favorite sayings. "My stars and garters!" and "It's raining pitchforks and N***** babies!" were our favorites. I adored them too and I always felt loved and accepted by both of them.

A grandmother is a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit best friend.

All that ran through my mind as I heard my grandsons discussing their grandfather. Then I realized that our grandchildren are going to feel the same way about Kevin and me! What an amazing concept. I mean, it's easy for me to comprehend how much I loved my grandmother. But to think that my grandchildren will love me like that is truly incredible.

When my kids started their families, I told them that my goal in life was to be the favorite grandmother. It's definitely a good goal, but I'm learning that I'm getting the best end of that deal!!

Grandparents are similar to a piece of string - handy to have around and easily wrapped around the fingers of their grandchildren.

Monday, July 06, 2009

What I did on my Summer Vacation and other stuff

Our trip to the Outer Banks was truly a vacation to remember. We took 3 days to get there so that we weren't rushed and grumpy. We got to our townhouse and didn't even have to check in. We had the code for the house and it worked and all we had to do was unpack.

Here's a picture of the townhouses around us:

Ours is the one the left, that lovely Pepto Bismol Pink!

Here is a picture of the upstairs. This is from the balcony in the kitchen, looking toward the dining table and living room and then porch. The middle floor had 2 bedrooms, each with their own full bath. The bottom floor had a 2 car garage. The townhouse came with everything from linens to utensils. They even stocked dish soap and other staples for us!

And then there was the amazing location. (You've got to remember that I booked this all online. Even when I'm very careful, sometimes you never know if it's as good as you hope.) We were across the street from The Wright Brothers Memorial:

And we were just 2 blocks from the ocean, with free parking and public access:

The weather was phenomenal the entire week so we were able to go to the beach 3 mornings. Russell started out a bit tentative but by the 3rd day, he was going out beyond the breakers with me, diving under the waves and riding them in! He loved the beach. Definitely our grandson!

We were just minutes from Roanoke Island. The first evening we went to the outdoor play called The Lost Colony. It was a great play. We could only take pictures before it started, but you can see the amazing stage and that was only the beginning!

My brother and sister-in-law joined us the last couple days to share in Russell's Pirate Adventure with us. My SIL made an amazing pirate outfit for Russ and we knew they'd enjoy savoring the adventure with us. Here's the cool pirate outfit:

On the Pirate Adventure, the kids went on a boat, found a map, found a message in a bottle, found a pirate, shot water cannons at the pirate:

and, of course, found treasure:

We did other stuff, like visiting the aquarium, digging for real shark teeth (Russell found a bunch!), flying kites on the beach and hanging out. We even found a place that sold Chocolate Italian Ice! And we were able to bring some back to the townhouse and snack on it for a couple more days.

One of the best parts of the trip was discovering that the townhouse we rented is now renting for almost 3 times what we paid! It just makes it feel so much more satisfying knowing we got a good deal!

I can hardly believe it's July already! Since we've been home, we've spent lots of time at the pool. I can even watch all 5 g'kids, as long as at least 4 of them are wearing floaties.

We had a big celebration at the house for Christy's birthday. We can still fit about 35 comfortably.

It's good to be home (thanks to Pam for watching and spoiling Beast for me!) and it was great to have been on vacation. I think Russell will remember it for years to come. A grand time was had by all. We made special memories and that's what it's all about.

About Me

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Longview, Texas
In the autumn of my life, I am very content.