Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Treasure Fairy

In the far away land of Nannie and Papa's House a small fairy was born among the tree nymphs and dryads. She knew her calling in life from the very beginning and was aptly named Treasure Fairy. She spent her time becoming an expert shopper in the nearby lands of Target Dollar Section and Everything's A Dollar, collecting items that she knew would please the sometimes inhabitants of Nannie and Papa's House.

She gave a mirthful giggle when the oldest one they called Nathan could not pronounce her name and began calling her The Blueberry, and sent happy thoughts his way when she would deposit the small gifts in his treasure box each night. She would hide in the closet to wait for his sleepy tread on the floor in the morning, basking in the glow of his delight which imbued her with magic and strengthened her for another shopping trip.

Then the next child named Gracie was suddenly old enough to have a treasure box, and she was able to procure girly gifts for the little one. She flitted among the pink items and sparkly stickers, anticipating the squeals of pleasure that would accompany their discovery. She loved the children, and although their visits to the land of Nannie and Papa's House were infrequent, she continued to stockpile gifts so that she would be ready at any time to welcome them back.

Then one day Nathan looked a bit perplexed as he opened his box. He was happy with his gifts, but she did not receive her normal boost of magic when he saw them. She followed him at a distance as he sought out the Queen of the land, and asked her in a quiet voice if there was really a Treasure Fairy (because by this time he could pronounce her name correctly) and she gently told him the truth. "No son, there is not a real Treasure Fairy. Nannie and Papa put those gifts in your box every night."

Treasure Fairy gasped at this blatant lie and quickly flew away to her small hidey hole in the closet where she sobbed her little heart out. Then she heard a small sound by the treasure boxes. She peeked out from her hiding place and saw Gracie sitting there with a look of pure joy on her face as she cradled a package of sparkly stickers in her hands. Treasure Fairy felt her strength coming back and leaped into the air with a little shout. "She still believes! She still believes!", she thought triumphantly.

And so it was that the oldest child left part of the magic of childhood behind, and soon thereafter lost his faith in the Tooth Fairy as well. But both fairies knew that although his growing mind couldn't hold on to them and logic both, that they still had Gracie for a season. And it was enough.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Old Roads

As I made the trip home to Louisiana this past weekend, I was immersed in a sea of memories and tiny moments that anchor me to that geographical location no matter how far away I roam. Like the mighty Mississippi that undulates and flows from Natchez to New Orleans, they washed over me in muddy waves with every car ride, conversation, hug and goodbye.

The road that runs in front of Granny and Gramps' house saw me get behind the wheel of a car for the first time. As we made the last turn after the long drive from Texas, I can still remember the knot of excitement in my stomach as Mama pulled over and let me drive the remaining 1/2 mile to their house.  I was beaming from ear to ear the entire time as I painstakingly drove down the shaded road, hands gripping the wheel and listening to Mama's instructions.  As I bounded out of the car with typical 15 year old enthusiasm, I couldn't wait to tell them that I had driven!

The open field beside Granny Traylor's house used to be a huge garden that was tended by my great-grandfather. There was sugar cane in one corner, and Papa would have a pile of the hard sticks on the back carport ready to be cut open and chewed until the sweet goodness was a pulp. He always had a hug ready, and I remember how hard they were, as though he was going to squeeze me to death. The smell of Zippo lighters still remind me of him to this day, and he's been gone for 23 years now.

The taste of Hi-Ho BBQ (which isn't really BBQ at all), and eating them as a child with all six double-first cousins sitting on the step in Granny's kitchen. Sauce dripping down grimy hands and arms and a cold Barq's root beer beside each one of us. Enjoying the taste of our lunch, but anticipating the rest of the afternoon that we would spend climbing the live oak and magnolia trees. There was one massive oak we named the animal tree because it had one of those impossibly low branches that almost touched the ground and we would ride it like a horse. Well, until the freakishly large orange stinging caterpillars sent us screaming in fear to some other mischief.

Strawberry season in the spring, with the seemingly limitless supply of berries bought by the flat and eaten in a myriad of ways: plain, with sugar, over ice cream, made into jam, over buttermilk cake and sliced and put up in the freezer for the rest of the year. All those little green plastic baskets in which the berries were packed that we used to make craft projects with yarn and whatever else we could find. Before the season was over, Granny would have stacks and stacks of those baskets and be completely unwilling to throw them away much like the mayonnaise jars and Cool Whip containers.

The smell of lunch cooking in Granny's kitchen, and the comfortable conversation around the dinner table. The faces are older now and more careworn, but they are the faces of the people who love me and who are loved in return. My past, present and future all in one room sharing a meal, just like the hundreds of meals shared before. There is something timeless about the ritual of breaking bread with family and the playful banter learned from years of knowing, loving and trusting one another. The inside jokes that no one else would get or even care about. The instinctive way that we serve one another and remember who likes which food and who has an aversion to another.

Then making the trip back home on I-10 and realizing that it's a road that will not be used much in the coming years. Trevor and I have both been traveling that stretch of interstate since childhood, leading us to and from our families for as long as we can remember. As we slowed to make our exit, we discussed the probability that we would not need I-10 to get to the ones we love anymore. We'll be coming from the north from now on, and although we may make the occasional drive to Louisiana from Texas in a combined trip to see his parents and mine, it will be the exception and not the rule.

But even with the particularly sharp nostalgia I experienced this trip, there was an intermingled feeling of excitement about our move. The knowledge that my children have already begun to make memories that will sustain them their entire lives gives me a feeling of contentment.   Memories of cousins and grandparents...memories of the places I love...memories of their own. I-10 will not be the familiar path home, but they will have their own paths and they will always lead them back to us.

Monday, May 11, 2009


There has been so much going on recently, and I feel a little guilty that I have not been recording all the details as they happen. I want to look back at this season in our lives and remember all of the details, from the life changing all the way down to the small decisions that affected our move. So far I don't have much of a track record, but I'm going to try and remedy that over the next few days.

Trevor and made the trip to Tulsa last Saturday to look for housing, schools, daycare and a church. It was also a chance for us to reconnect as a couple without the stress of day to day living with children. I mean, we love listening to them argue about facial expressions, proximity to one another and whether or not a girl movie or a boy movie is going to be put in the DVD player, but we felt like some alone time was in order. Did I mention that his company paid for everything?? Airfare, hotel, food....it was like a free vacation!

The weather was unseasonably cool and wet, but we weren't complaining at all. The low humidity and temperatures that never broke 65 were a pleasant break from the current conditions in Houston. We met up with Trevor's boss and his wife for dinner at a local restaurant, and had a great evening together. I had met Ed and Carol a few times before, but it was good to get to know them a little better.

I had found a church on the Nine Marks website, and decided to attend there Sunday morning. From the moment we stepped out of our car, we were made to feel welcome. Before we even got in the door, a deacon was waiting there to greet and direct us to our class. He walked us to our Sunday school room and introduced us to the teacher, who was warm and welcoming. As class members arrived, he introduced us and it felt like we were already part of the class. Everyone was very easy going and open, wanting to make us feel comfortable.

Before class even started, we had been invited home for lunch by a couple named Paul and Tracy. We had been hoping that someone would be interested in going out to lunch so we could get to know them, but we never dreamed that we would be included so completely by total strangers. The people in this church are truly the body of Christ...working and serving in His name.

The church service was wonderful, and the pastor used scripture to interpret scripture and the preaching was expositional. It was all that we could have hoped for in a church, and we felt right at home. I lost track of the number of people who spoke to and welcomed us that morning.

Anyway, after church we followed Paul and Tracy home for lunch with their family. As we ate and enjoyed fellowship with them, I was struck once again at how lavish God is with His mercy and grace when it comes to His children. These people didn't know us from Adam, and yet they opened their home and hearts to us. It turned out that their two youngest children were close in age to Nathan and Grace, and their oldest were old enough to babysit. We had a good visit with them, and Tracy and I exchanged Facebook information and email addresses before we left.

Monday morning we met with a realtor to look at a rent house that we had found online, and with one appointment we settled the issue of housing. We decided to go ahead and rent for a year until we become more familiar with the area. The house is in a planned community, with a non-existent backyard, no trees and minimum storage...pretty much the polar opposite of our current house, but the rent is reasonable and hopefully we will only be there a year.

So, with a new church and house checked off the list, I went to my first interview that afternoon. It was for a PRN (or "as needed" for the non-medicals out there) position, and it went very well. The facility was beautiful and it would really fit the kid's schedules so that I could be home with them for the most part. The only drawback is that there are no guaranteed hours since it's PRN, which makes it difficult to plan a budget.

We spent Tuesday looking into daycare, enrollment for school and going to the local grocery store to see if there was anything that we needed to stock up on before the move. Lo and behold...they sell Blue Bell ice cream! There is actually a creamery in Broken Arrow, so it makes it feel more like Texas for us. We'll have to take the kids for a tour once we get settled. The only thing that we couldn't find in the store was a particular brand of syrup that we like to eat with our biscuits, so when I got home I bought 2 large vats to include with our moving boxes. Because you know how we Southerners are about our biscuits...

We met Ed and Carol again for dinner at this really good Greek restaurant called Helen of Troy, and the chef was very informative about the different sauces and whatnot. He brought out a sampler tray so we could taste them and decide what we wanted to order. I ended up with an incredible Greek salad that looked nothing like what they serve at Panera Bread, but was out of this world.

Wednesday morning I went to my second interview, this time for a full time position. I loved the center, the staff was very friendly and laid back and I really felt like I could see myself working there. The interview went well, and I am waiting to hear back from the manager. The only problem with the two job interviews is that they had to fill the positions before I was able to get up there to meet them, but both hospitals are pushing to have additional positions opened because they are so busy. It's sort of a waiting game right now, but I am confident that God has all the details worked out and that I just need to patiently wait.

We flew back home Wednesday afternoon, and the sweetest sight in the entire world was Gracie's face as she opened the front door and saw us sitting there. I missed them while we were gone, but we were so busy that the time sort of flew by. But when I saw her little face shining with joy, I realized how much I missed seeing them and was so glad to be home. They were full of news about their few days without us, and it was good to just sit and listen to them talk.

We accomplished pretty much everything that we set out to do on the trip, and were also able to see a few movies and spend some much needed time alone. Our overall impression of the Tulsa area was incredibly positive because the people were so friendly. I don't know if I just was interacting with people who were all having great days or what, but I don't think I had one rude experience the entire trip. Even the teenagers at the local Subway seemed happy to do to their job, instead of the standard "I'm too cool to be here what do you want so I can get back to texting my boyfriend" or the "I can't be bothered to do my job" attitude.

The only obstacles that we need to overcome now are selling our house and nailing down my job in Tulsa. My last day of work here is June12th, and we are planning to move that weekend so we can be in the house the following week and get settled. My mom is going to take the kids home with her to Louisiana for that week so when they arrive, all of their stuff will be moved in and arranged so that it's less of a shock for them. We want to make this transition as easy and painless as possible, and they are both excited about the change.

So now, we just wait. Wait for the house to sell, wait to hear back about my job(s), and wait to say goodbye to Texas.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Did Someone Alter the Number of Hours in a Day?

I think that must be the problem, because I can't seem to find the time to do anything these days! Every time I think about blogging, I think of 10 other things I need to be doing and so the blogging gets pushed to the bottom of the list...again.

To be honest, I don't have time to blog right now, but I did want to say that the trip to Tulsa went very well, we love the area and we are even more excited than ever to be moving next month. I plan to write about our trip in more detail, but today I am going to spend time with my kids and just relax.

For all you moms out there, Happy Mother's day!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Limbo is Coming to An End

I realize that my blogging has been spotty to say the least, but the uncertainty of this move has sort of turned my life upside down. I'm usually very organized, methodical and have things planned out days in advance but this past month I have been a pod person. I have struggled to answer emails, check my favorite blogs and even return phone calls. This is so out of character for me that friends have started wondering if I succumbed to the swine flu!

No swine flu here, but we have had lots of drama! We put the house on the market April 1, and by the 6th, we had a buyer. The contracts were written up and signed, inspections completed and we were just waiting on a closing date. Then our buyers suddenly developed a case of unrealistic expectations, and sent us a list roughly 2 yards long of things they wanted us to fix from the inspection report. I would like to interject here that this house was built in 1972. What was up to code then, is not necessarily up to code now, but that doesn't mean that it is unsafe or not functional.

Some of the things Trevor was able to fix himself, but there were a few items that were just ridiculous. They wanted us to move the breaker box! The breaker box! We also had an inspector who liked to spin tall tales of "what ifs" and who also liked to provide inappropriate information to the buyers about his perception of property values in our neighborhood. He also provided an incorrect inspection report to the buyers. He said that there were no smoke detectors in the bedrooms (ummm...then what are those round, blinky things above each door??) and that we had gas logs in our strictly wood burning fireplace.

Those were just a few things, but if he got the simple stuff wrong, who knows what else was inaccurately reported. At any rate, the realtors kept trying to tell the buyers that unless an item on the inspection report made the house functionally deficient, the list was simply a suggestion of things to address. I think they were first time buyers, because they insisted on the entire list being fixed and before we could even give them an answer they called to say that they wanted to reduce the price by $10,000 and they still wanted us to fix everything.


We had already agreed to pay their closing costs, title insurance, home warranty and warranty transfer fees. We also had to pay our realty fees, so after it was all said and done we would have had to bring money to closing to sell our house. Am I the only one who thinks that's ridiculous??? We countered, they refused and backed out of the contract. We were disappointed, but knew that God had a plan for our house and finances and that it would all work out in the end.

So, it's been a week and our friend and realtor Kellye called us with the news that someone wanted to see the house today. I can't adequately express how much I appreciate Kellye. She has worked tirelessly to sell our house, and to be the go between for us. She has researched problems for us, and is never more than a phone call away. We have been so blessed to have a Christian friend advocating for us in an area where we have little or no expertise.

Trevor and I are leaving to explore the Tulsa area today, and we will not be home until Wednesday evening, so the house will be available to show anytime she wants to. I am so excited about spending some quality time alone with Trevor, and having the opportunity to see the area where we will be living. This is such an exciting time, and so many of our decisions hinge on this trip. We will be looking at houses, schools, day cares and churches and I have two interviews while we are there. Many of our questions about when we will be moving will be answered in the next few days, and that will be a huge load off of our minds. The uncertainty of our future has been the one thing that has stressed me out. I know that God has it all worked out, but I am a planner and the not knowing has left me in a state of limbo.

So, the kids are packed and ready to go to Gran and Grandpa's for a few days, and we are packed and ready to be alone!