#myfavoritehillbilly Meets 2021



Thanksgiving 2021

Sometimes, I think that my father-in-law is an 80-year-old man still existing in a world that stopped advancing for him decades ago.  A world that didn’t include cell phones with data plans, cars that drive themselves, and Keurig coffee pods.  Every morning when he puts that little Starbucks dark roast pod into the machine and pushes the blue button to get a “decent” cup of coffee, does he miss his 2 mile trip at 5 am to the gas station to buy an “okay” cup of coffee and say good morning to the locals?

I marvel at the life he is living in our modern home.  His head must be spinning because every day I am reminded that not only did our world completely change by moving him in with us, but so did his.

The remote control confuses him the most.  Until about 10 years ago he used a sliding channel changer that had a cord that stretched across the room.  His television definitely wasn’t smart.  Rather, it was a box tv with limited channels.  Now he lives with us and has access to two smart TVs.  He has over 600 channels, including Youtube, Netflix, and other streaming services.  I DVR all of his NBA and NFL games so he can watch hours of football and basketball during the day. He can speak into the remote and find a channel.  Sometimes he can figure it out, but most of the time he can’t.  And when he does speak into the remote, it doesn’t understand his “Hillbilly” accent.  When I can’t listen, for one more second, to the fans cheering and the whistles blowing, I put a pair of noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones on him.  He’s never worn headphones before, and he doesn’t like it, but it gives me a break from the constant background noise.

He never had a phone other than a rotary dial and then later a push-button phone plugged into the wall.  Years ago my husband and I  bought him a cordless phone.  He sat it next to the rotary dial phone and never used it.  When I needed to be able to reach him this summer during his long stays at the hospital and rehabilitation, I got him a flip phone.  The phone has no data or wifi.  You cannot send a text.    All he has to do is push the green button to answer and the red button to hang it up.  My husband wrote the key numbers for him to remember on a piece of duct tape and laminated it to the back of the phone.  His little phone is in a holster attached to his wheelchair and when it rings, he can answer it.  It has provided the lifeline for him that he never knew he needed.

I also upgraded his bathroom facilities.  Long gone is the standard plastic elongated toilet seat. It has been replaced with a fancy bidet.  He has many options to choose from, but I have marked the automatic setting for him to use.  He pushes the button and the heated seat washes and dries with an oscillating fan.  I’m sure he never dreamed his trips to the bathroom would be so posh.  Most of the time he doesn’t use the fancy settings because he claims he doesn’t have time.  He is so funny.

For years he has been sleeping on his living room sofa in his little basement apartment in Kentucky.  I’m not really sure why.  He had a bedroom and a bed.  But for some reason that even he can’t explain, he ended up on the couch.  Now he sleeps in an electric hospital bed, with 750 count white cotton sheets and beautiful Rae Dunn bedding with matching pillows and a gray velour blanket.  He never knew what he was missing with high-quality bedding, but he has taken to it and can’t or won’t go back to the couch. His blanket says “Blessed”.

For all the modern-day conveniences I have introduced to him, he has helped me remember a life of simplicity.  His life doesn’t revolve around a calendar or the clock. He once told me he didn’t need a watch because he could just look at the sun. His ways are simple and basic.  He is content to eat biscuits and gravy for breakfast every day, a chicken patty sandwich for “dinner” (lunch), and whatever I am fixing for supper.  He doesn’t complain.  But he always wants gravy with every meal.

Maybe he had the right idea by sticking to his old ways.  He doesn’t need shiny new electronics and all the bells and whistles.  His simple life had me confused for years just as my modern way of living has him baffled now. The life he used to live shouldn’t be taken for granted. It was easy. 

I’ve been thinking about how my life can be simplified. #myfavoritehillbilly  is the most laid-back person I know.  Maybe I should be asking him to teach me his hillbilly ways instead of expecting him to embrace our 2021 lifestyle.

Whatever the answer is, his 80-year-old slow ways are starting to rub off on me.  I find myself speaking more deliberately and taking a good nap in the afternoon.  It’s not a bad way of living.

The Best Worst First Date


30 Year Anniversary

September 6, 1991

He was supposed to arrive at 6:00 pm, but 6 rolled by and he didn’t show up.  6:15.  Still no Gary.  I was getting nervous. This was my first week at college.  I was a 17 year old who had  never lived away from home.  I had spent all evening teasing my hair and changing outfits to look cute for our first date and now I was starting to think he was standing me up.

At 6:30, Gary finally pulled up to the dorm and bounded  up the stairs to greet me and brought me out to the car.  I was so relieved.  The cute red-headed math major I’d met the week before hadn’t stood me up after all. 

As he opened the passenger door to his 1981 Plymouth Champ with it’s mix-matched tinted and untinted windows and torn fabric hanging from the ceiling, he introduced me to a young man sitting in the back seat of his car.  He said the guy’s name was Wade and he had seen him standing on the corner downtown playing a guitar.  He explained that he had invited him to  go with us on our date to Lexington and provide some music entertainment along the way in return for a free meal.  Wade began awkwardly strumming his guitar and it became obvious pretty quickly that he wasn’t that great of a guitarist.  He would strum a note and call out a word or phrase.  

I was really wondering what I had gotten myself into but I was trying so hard to be nice and accepting to Wade and to Gary.  But this date had gotten off to a weird start.

As we made our way out of campus and onto the main stretch of road through Richmond, Gary and I made small talk, interrupted occasionally by Wade, and started to learn a little bit about each other.  

When we came to an intersection in front of McDonald’s, Gary slowed to a stop at the red light.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a straggly man standing at the crossing with his thumb out hitching a ride.  He had on dirty clothes, needed a haircut,  and had rolled up clothes under his arm.  

Gary leaned over me and yelled out the window, “Hey!  Where ya headed?”

“Lexington! Or as close as you can get me!”  he replied.

I looked at Gary bewildered and whispered to him that this was not a good idea.  I had always been warned about hitchhikers and I could not believe that Gary would even consider giving this bedraggled man a lift. 

Gary assured me he did this kind of stuff all the time and it would be fine. He  told him to jump in the back with Wade and he could ride up with us and that he could join us for a good meal.  I got out of the front, pulled the lever on my seat for the hitchhiker to climb in, sat back down and off we went.  

My date was chatting with the strange man and the guitarist while we rolled along.  I was so confused and starting to get scared.  I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into.  I had no way of contacting the authorities.  This was 1991!  There were no cell phones.  My parents didn’t know where I was.  I was literally experiencing what every mother and father warns against.  Do not talk to strangers and do not get into a stranger’s car.  I had innocently put myself in a lot of danger.

About halfway to Lexington the real trouble began.  

“Pull the damn car over!”, the hitchhiker shouted.  “I need you to shut up and pull over.”

I looked at Gary and became very frightened as he quickly turned his blinker on to get in the right lane and pull over to the side with cars whipping by us on Interstate 75.  The hitchhiker kept screaming at us to pull over and give him our money.  Gary kept saying he didn’t have much money, but the hitchhiker became more frantic.  

As we came to a stop and Gary put the car into park, the hitchhiker became more agitated.  He was yelling at me to give him all the money and to get out of the car.  I kept looking at Gary and he had his hands up in the air telling him to  take whatever he had and let us go.  I didn’t know what to do, but I was imagining my parents and my friends reading about my disappearance from college during my first week at college. 

 I imagined the headlines: “College Freshman Murdered on First Date by Hitchhiker”. What would they think?  My family would never be the same.

Pondering these questions, I heard the hitchhiker order me out of the car.  I was so scared and trying to stay calm, but my head was telling me to panic.  Gary looked at me and implored, “Just do what he is telling you to do.”  I thought, “Wow, what a gentleman.”

I gently opened my car door and eased myself slowly out of the car.  The hitchhiker started to climb out behind me while shouting, “Get out of the car!  I have something to give you!”

He had a pair of dirty jeans rolled up under his arm with what I assumed was a concealed weapon of some sort. I imagined that he was going to get me out of the car, take me down the side of the highway, rob me and my date, then kill us with the weapon.  

I tentatively took a step away from the car while the hitch hiker climbed from the back seat still with the rolled up jeans under his arm.  

“I have something to give you!” he kept yelling.  I started to get angry.  How dare this man do this to us?  We had done nothing to him except to show kindness.

Suddenly, the hitchhiker lunged at me with the rolled up jeans and pulled out….

A dozen roses.


Not a gun.  

Not a knife.  


It was a prank or an ice breaker for the date according to Gary.  A thought out and perfectly executed joke played by Gary on me,  his unsuspecting 17 year old freshman date who had no idea what she was getting into.

Wade and the hitchhiker lived on his dormitory floor.  Gary was a resident assistant that year and roped them into playing a joke on a girl that he really liked.

I got back into the car and didn’t know what to think.  Gary had so much confidence that I would be the perfect person to set up like this.  And he was right.  I loved it.  I couldn’t stop laughing.  

We took those two guys back to the dorm and went on a real date in Lexington. We got Wendy’s take out and went to the BlueGrass airport and ate Dave’s Singles, fries and Frosties while watching the jets take off and land.  We finished with a rousing game of miniature golf.

I knew from the minute those roses came out of that greasy pair of jeans that Gary was the one for me.  I never wanted or loved anyone else.  He was mine.

Over the years we have told this story 100’s of times.  We tease our kids and tell them our first date story is their legacy.  People have asked me why I would ever go out with him again or why I didn’t  demand that he take me back to the dorm.  And my answer is always the same.   If it had been real and he had really thought a guy in the backseat playing a guitar was romantic and he had really picked up a hitchhiker, I never would have spoken to him again.  But in a strange sort of way, the fact that he took such a big chance on me with creative planning was a compliment. He had no idea how I would react, but had nothing to lose.    

On September 6, 2021, Gary and I will celebrate the 30 year anniversary of that first date.  It’s our favorite story to tell.  Our kids ask us to tell their friends.  Our extended family repeats the story.  It never gets old.  And people are always surprised we’ve made it this long.

My cute redhead math major is now a silver fox statistician  with a Ph.D. and I couldn’t love him or admire him more than I do.   He has loved me with wisdom, patience, understanding, humor and sometimes an exasperated sigh.  I will never regret getting back in that car after being pranked.  It was the smartest decision I’ve ever made. 

936 +/- a few

4F450236-80B3-40E9-81C8-85645692EEAFWhat seems like a million years ago at a home school conference in Indiana, we heard that number.


We would have 936 Saturdays with our child before she would leave for college. 936 Saturdays to fit it all in.  Trips to the park.  Laying on the beach.  Exploring museums in new cities. Eating every single type of food.  Lazy days watching movies and measuring the snow on the deck.

The years, months, weeks and days seemed like forever and it was a number I filed in my brain along with the latest penmanship book and history curriculum that I just knew we needed to buy at that conference.  She still loved Barney and her silk blankie.  That number would be slow getting here.

But as I was brushing my teeth this morning and thinking through what I wanted to accomplish today, it hit me.  Today was the last Saturday.  Today the number is 1.

I stood looking in the mirror trying to judge how I felt about this.  I took a mental test to see if I was sad, relieved, humored, dismayed.  But honestly….I was none of these. I was proud.

She’s ready. I can honestly look back at those 936 Saturdays and say without a doubt that we wasted very few.  I have shown her the world, taught her life skills, moved her across the country and she’s done every single one of these with a finesse that only a girl who has been invested in and loved can do successfully.

We have watched this girl grow from an outgoing home schooled elementary student, to an awkward middle schooler, to a confident high schooler….and now we happily send her off to the college that she chose because she knew it was perfect for her.  It’s her first adult choice…and we got the privilege to stand back and watch her deliberate the pros and cons.    And we are ready to cheer her on as we drop her off next Saturday at college.

So on our last Saturday, we may not do anything special or life changing to mark the end of this chapter.  But we will acknowledge, that part of our parenting journey with our daughter,  is coming to an end.  We won’t be around for the day-to-day stuff, but we are a text away and watching in the wings ready to cheer her on.

I couldn’t be more proud of her and I’m chalking this child up as a parenting win.

And next Saturday, as we say goodbye at the curb of her dorm, we will do so with pride and joy.









Dr. Pepper Peer Pressure

I have a confession to make and it’s a shameful one. I’m almost too embarrassed to write it! What will my fellow mom’s think of me? What about the crunchy Moms? What about my Southern mom friends who will roll their eyes and wonder…big deal?

So here goes.

Last week… I used an incentive (bribe) to get my four-year old to participate at soccer who had suddenly decided that soccer was “boring”

You say…big deal? Everybody does that.  Here comes the confession part.

I bribed him with a can of Dr. Pepper.

Oh The shame!!!

We were ready to leave for soccer when Eli brought me a can of Dr. Pepper….yes I drink pop (soda for the rest of the USA) so get over it. I have one a day.  I know….it’s awful for the body with the chemicals and what not. Yada Yada.

I told him that he couldn’t have it unless he participated in his soccer lesson and didn’t whine. He was excited to take on this challenge and off we went. Frankly, I was high fiving myself because the only thing good about this soccer class has been listening to the adorable (good-looking) British coaches laugh with the little preschoolers and play sleepy lion on the field.

And then we got to soccer and Eli refused, in front of ALL THE OTHER MOMS to play, announced that he hated soccer, and stood and cried.

I played it cool… you know. I looked at the other Moms, put on my best “oh my word, he is so tired today” face, then calmly whispered in his ear so that none of the other Moms who were sitting on their perfectly spread out blankets with their BPA free water bottles and organic, non gmo, gluten-free, peanut free, bland snacks would have to hear me say, “If you want your can of DR. Pepper you have to participate”.

Then I waited… would he announce that he wanted his DR. Pepper and that I had promised? I had already planned to deny that we drink pop and announce loudly how awful that stuff was, but he didn’t say a word.

He also still refused to play. Instead, he sat in the shade and watched his team run up and down the field. The upside was that one of those terrific British (handsome) coaches sat next to him and played with him the whole time. He was loving the attention!

Every once in a while he would come back to my chair and tell me that he wanted to go and I would whisper “Dr. Pepper”. He would go back to his shade and sit.

An hour later, soccer was over and we went to the mini van. He was ready for his reward. But nope, he didn’t get the Dr. Pepper. He was distraught and as all the other Mommy’s were watching and LISTENING he was exclaiming loudly “I want my Dr. Pepper!! I NEED my Dr. Pepper!!”

I shrugged it off to the yoga pants-wearing Moms, but inwardly cringed. What were they all thinking??

We drove off and Eli settled down. I explained to him, in the privacy of our van, that he didn’t earn the Dr. Pepper because he had not participated in his class. He looked wistfully out the window and I thought, “I think he understands!”

We pulled into the cute little farmers market stand in our town to buy some fresh tomatoes and cheese. I was feeling good. I won this game! I played by the rules! This has been an awesome parenting moment! Mommy 1 — Eli — 0.

Until he spotted the bottled Stewart’s Root Beer behind the glass door.

He looked at me and smiled knowingly with those sweet little blue eyes.  I looked around and saw a couple of the other Moms from soccer with their lovables  babies wrapped in slings and reusable groceries sacks thrown over their shoulder and I suddenly didn’t really care what they thought.

And then I made a decision… it wasn’t a Dr. pepper and I wasn’t rewarding his bad behavior…so I bought him a bottle.

**Disclaimer:  I love my crunchy mama friends.  No offense intended 🙂

Keep smiling and waving!

Telling the story of Jesus

I recently visited La Sagrada Familia, a basilica built in Barcelona, Spain by the talented Antoni Gaudi.  Gaudi is known for his modernistic art style and embellishments on buildings.  You can see some examples here.http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/320.

I saw the basilica from a distance and was intrigued by its style because it isn’t the normal cathedral.  It’s different.

Gaudi, world famous architect, built this building to tell the story of Jesus.  The story of salvation, grace, redemption, and miracles….from the beginning.

Looking up to the  front of the cathedral there are intricate carvings of Jesus’s birth, the wise men, travelling to Egypt to escape certain death, and Jesus as a young child teaching the scribes in Jerusalem.  It is covered in carvings of flowers and birds symbolizing creation and the explosion of joy when Jesus’s prophesied birth took place.  You can’t help but feel happy when gazing at the statues.  http://www.sagradafamilia.org/en/symbolic-visit/

The passion façade depicts the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.  It is much darker with a feeling of dread and goth.  There are so many details like Peter denying Christ and the rooster crowing,  to Pilate washing his hands to clean himself of Jesus’s perceived guilt.

When you take the tour and gaze upon the story, you HAVE to learn about Christ and his life.  It’s a given.  Is that what Gaudi planned?  I believe that God used Gaudi and his talent to create a missional story to the world.  A way to show his love and the Bible to the millions of people who will never read it, but will visit a tourist attraction.

Millions of visitors come to La Sagrada Familia every year.  They come from all over the world speaking 100’s of different languages and many different walks of faith.  They come because it’s the number one tourist attraction in Barcelona and it’s a World Unesco site.  They come because the Pope dedicated it.  They come because it’s beautiful.  And because they come, they hear the story of Jesus and his love.  They can’t HELP but hear it.

And this is where I’m going with this.  My life should be a beautiful basilica.  An example of Jesus’s story.  When people meet me and get to know me, my life should tell the story of God’s grace.  I want to have a side that is exploding in joy because of Jesus’s birth and life, but a passionate side that tells about his redemptive grace.

I’m studying the book of Revelation this year.  Wow.  Just writing that gives me chills because for years I’ve been terrified of that book.  It scared me.  But the more I study it, the more I understand that it’s another way to prophesy God’s goodness and plan for my life.   It is becoming my desire to make sure that everyone has heard the story of the redemption of Christ.  That Christ wants them to know Him and not to turn away.  He’s coming back.  He is merciful.  He gives us what we DO NOT Deserve.  But His death on the cross and his resurrection gives us the ticket to be washed in His blood and forgiven.

I think about Gaudi and the talent God blessed him with.  What if he had said no?  So many times I say no.  I don’t listen to what the Holy Spirit is telling me.  It’s uncomfortable or embarrassing.  I don’t want to rock the boat.  But that is wrong.  I want to live on the edge.  To be different.  I want to be a tourist attraction where people ask questions and research my faith.

I want to tell the story of Jesus… just like La Sagrada Familia.

One Year Ago Today–We bought a piece of New Jersey

Love these ladies in my neighborhood!  Shirley from Manhattan, Jodi from Connecticut, and Danielle from Iowa.

Love these ladies in my neighborhood! Shirley from Manhattan, Jodi from Connecticut, and Danielle from Iowa.

One year.

365 days in our New Jersey town home.

12 months of downsizing and minimizing our lives.

52 weeks of weeding through 21 years of furniture, books, boxes, clothes, and toys to find a comfortable living arrangement in our 1300 square foot house.

When we sold our house and moved to New Jersey, honestly I had very low expectations.  I didn’t expect to put down any roots or make any friends.  I didn’t even want to try to make friends.  In fact, in July of last year when we had lived here for two months I still hadn’t made any connections and quite frankly didn’t want to.

Then something changed.  I started looking through my kitchen window at my cul de sac and wondering about the lives of those around me.  The ones I was sharing walls with.  Then I made the conscious effort to put a smile on my face and go out and meet them.

And guess what?  I liked them and they liked me.  We started hanging out in the driveways chasing kids and yelling “CAR!!” every time a car pulled into the lot.  We invited them into our homes and us into theirs.  We threw a holiday party and had over 30 people in our tight space and had two families over for Christmas Eve.  All the kids have become great friends and I’ve found a group of ladies I can’t live without.

My low expectations were unwarranted.  Living here has been amazing and everything that I thought I would hate, I haven’t.

New Jersey has a bad reputation, but so do other states.  I’ve found that by putting a smile on my face and genuinely caring for those around me can go a long way.

Gary and I are “change junkies” so who knows how long we nomads will live at this pad.  But wherever we go next, my expectations will be higher and our packing truck will be lighter.  And God will give me the resources and the smiles to love it.




21 Years — 21 Loves


That’s how long I have been married to my best friend and soul mate.  I know…sounds sappy.  But, it’s true.

So, in honor of our 21st, I’m listing 21 things I love about Gary.  Feel free to stop reading if you feel the need to hurl.

1.  I love that he loves Jesus first.  Okay, got that out of the way.  Shew!

2.  I love that he always puts my needs first like when I want to eat out, he usually lets me choose where.

3.  I love that he wears the same shirts over and over to work and never asks me to iron them (although..shout out to me because I ironed EVERY SINGLE SHIRT in his closet yesterday.  Your welcome)

4.  I love that he lays his workout clothes outside the bedroom door at night and quietly sneaks out in the morning to dress so he won’t wake me up.

5.  I love that he sleeps with his phone when he’s travelling with it turned on in case I need to reach him.  And, he knows from experience that if he doesn’t answer it I WILL call hotel security and report him missing and I WILL give them permission to go into his room to look for him (still sorry about that, honey…and apologies to the hotel in Vancouver for seeing him in the shower)

6.  Speaking of travelling, I love that he ALWAYS asks/tells me about business trips before he books a flight or hotel.  He just likes to make sure it’s okay with me and it always is.

7.  I love that he wants me to travel with him on those trips and lots of times I can.  The trips we have been on are amazing!

8.  I love that he takes me to places he’s been before just so I can experience what he felt the first time he was there.

9.  I love that he reads silly accidental texts with me and laughs so hard he can’t breathe.

10.  I love when he laughs so hard and can’t breathe and then he gets those awful “burp ups.”  Okay, I don’t really love those, but I’m getting used to them.  Remember…TWENTY ONE YEARS

11.  I love  when asked about his favorite Christmas memory of 2013, he said “watching you love Christmas this year”  oh. my. word.  That stole my heart…again.

12.  I love that he never discourages me from any crazy dream I’ve ever had.  Like..”Hey!  Let’s be nomads for three months and live in different hotels and houses in New Jersey.  Gosh.  Doesn’t that sound like fun??”  He said yes, and we did it.  And it was AWESOME!

13.  I love that he has a PH.D. in statistics.  He is the smartest man in the world.  I’ve been telling him that for years, folks, and I think he is starting to believe it.

14.  I love love love watching him work.  I’ve been going to professional conferences with him for years and nothing makes me prouder than to stand back and watch him talk rheumatology and drug research.  Seriously, I could watch him all night!

15.  I love that he has a quiet spirit.  He sits and reads his Bible every morning and prays over our children.  When a problem arises and I’m complaining, he asks me to pray about it first.

16.  Speaking of spirituality, the man is dripping with grace and mercy.  And my favorite quote that he says is “If we don’t teach our children grace and mercy, who will?”

17.  I love that in college he learned to ballroom dance with me and to jitterbug.  Then, we took dance lessons after the first two kids were born and had a ball.  We were terrible and I couldn’t stop leading, but we sure do have fun on the dance floor.

18.  I love that he never ever lies to me.  No matter what.  One time, I had a terrible rash on my face that I was convinced was getting better.  I asked him if it looked better and he said no.  I was so mad, but realized at that moment that he will always tell me the truth.

19.  I love that we both have the same dream to live in an RV and travel from one warm campground to another. And we will do that.  I promise.

20.  I love that he knows when the kids are driving me crazy and I need to go out.  Like the time I threatened to smack the kid’s face off and threw skittles at them and they called him at work to tell him.  He came home, looked at me and said “wanna go get thai food?”.  Yep…he gets it people.

21.  I love that 21 years ago he looked at me…a young BARELY 19 year old college sophomore and said “I do”.  The sweetest words ever spoken.

Gary, I do again and again.  Love you so much.

Tears in Virginia

It started in Virginia.

Tears streaming down my face.

I was driving and looking at the beautiful expansive land of the Shenandoah Valley and comparing it in my mind to the cluttered and cramped land of Piscataway, NJ. I was remembering the nights we spent on our back porch in the mountains looking at the thousands of stars and wondering when I would see them again.

I was reminded of the kindness of the people in the mountains. They smile in the grocery store and wave you thru at a four way stop. The folks in the service industry welcome you into their restaurants with a slow southern drawl and a lack of suspiciousness, which I’ve come to expect up here.

Patience is a virtue and the South just seems to do it better.

But then we arrived back to our hotel where we have spent almost 3 months and the staff was excited to see us and catch up. Our breakfast crew welcomed us with open arms hugging and kissing on Isaiah and Eli.

A random stranger complimented me at the grocery store on how impressed she was with me at the store with four kids.

Another woman at the store encouraged me by telling me that she had also moved here kicking and screaming 10 years ago and has learned to love it.

We were driving back to the Embassy Suites and I could see the Manhattan skyline in the distance.

I was reading the local newsletter and came upon lessons for fencing for Samuel, art institutes for Sarah, summer camps for Isaiah, and toddler story times at the library for Eli.

I started to notice the variety of restaurants in our new town. Thai, Indian, Mediterranean, Greek, Mexican food. All on one block.

I got an email today offering tickets to the New York Mets games for $10.

My mind starting thinking again and comparing it to the remote mountains. I began to consider the opportunities that we have here.

At first I was overwhelmed and uncertain about my feelings. Would I like it here? Would I really fit in here?

I don’t know. But I plan to find out.

It isn’t my plan to live in New Jersey, as Gary well knows, but I will make the best of it while I can.

This is a season in life and I’m going to grab the chances we are being offered.

And who knows, maybe I will like it after all.

Written yesterday–Posting today from town deep in the NC mountains.

This week’s blog is coming from the back porch of our quiet and quaint home in the western mountains of North Carolina.  The week started out cool and we had to use the furnace and fireplace, but yesterday warmed up to the 80’s and the fresh humid air was wonderful.

The trees are just starting to bud.  We can see Fontana Lake in spots we didn’t know existed because the leaves are so sparse.  The mistletoe is growing in abundance around our house, another pleasant surprise since we are usually here during the late spring or summer months and you can’t see it growing within the branches of the pin oaks and maples.

The depths and ridges of the Nantahala and Smokey Mountains are engaging and magical.  One cannot help but look up and yonder.  Mountain music seems to live in the air here as if a soundtrack is constantly playing.

Without television, cable, Wi-Fi, or phone the days seem peaceful and relaxing.  The only thing to worry about is what’s going to happen next in the book you’re reading or who is going to win the game of checkers. 

It’s seems unbelievable that just last week we were in New York City walking down Madison Avenue and looking at Picasso and Cezanne’ paintings  in the Guggenheim.  The sounds of taxi cars blaring their horns and the smells of pollution are in stark comparison to the quiet of the stars in the mountains and the gravel road leading up to our home. 

Our front and back screen door squeak and slam shut.  I would never want to fix those doors as they seem a part of this world.  It fits here.

I love these mountains and this house with the mixed match furniture and the ugly curtains.  I love it for its lack of concern of being perfect and having all the bells and whistles of other cabins in the woods.  I love it for the memories we have made here for 15 years.  I love it for the traditional bonfires.  I love it because the kids love coming here. 

They are happy at this house on our mountain and not because they are being entertained by things of the world.  But because they also like to sit and be quiet and listen to the mountain air talk to them.  I asked Samuel what has been his favorite part of the week and he replied without hesitation…the chance to get caught up with his thoughts.

And that’s what our Nopad-Nomad adventure is all about this week.


Lots of links…

I haven’t updated in a couple of weeks, but there hasn’t been much to write about. In fact, last week we didn’t even leave the hotel for four days!

But it’s been good. We needed to catch up on lots of school work and have a little bit of normalcy in our days. The kids are doing a great job with their homeschooling and I’m proud of them. Samuel and Sarah both work independently in the open atrium of the lobby. The staff love seeing them hard at work and comment to me frequently how focused they are.

But we have had a few exciting events occur. So, here’s a quick rundown.

Last Friday, Mark and Jennifer (www.markallenwhite.com) drove to New Jersey for the first time in 8 years to visit us and see our future home. They used to live in New Brunswick, which is the next town over and haven’t been back since they left. We hung out at the pool, ordered hotel food, ran around Basking Ridge and took pictures of a 600 year old tree, visited two libraries and one bank, met the staff of our awesome hotel, had pizza delivered, and strolled through the atrium as if we were on Downton Abbey. It was a really fun day.

On Saturday we drove into New York City, which is only 45 minutes away and PARKED ON THE STREET BY CENTRAL PARK FOR FREE!!! Yes. Free. Quite possibly the highlight of our year. We visited the Guggenheim (www.guggenheim.org)  which was amazing and FREE thanks to a wonderful museum pass sharing program offered at our library. We walked through Central Park and spent some time at the Manhattan Children’s Museum (www.cmom.org), which was also FREE thanks to our library.

Easter Sunday we had planned to go to church at a local Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in Warren, NJ. Gary looked up the times at www.stonecreekchurch.org and determined that we could attend the 12:00 service. When we arrived we noticed that the parking lot was packed, but that it seemed that church was ending instead of beginning. That’s when we figured out that he had looked up Stone Creek Church in Georgia instead of Stone Crest Church in New Jersey www.stonecrestchurch.com. Only slightly embarrassing 😦

Since church was a no-go, we ended up watching a podcast online www.northpoint.org and eating at Applebee’s. Not quite the storybook Easter, but oh well…

On Tuesday Samuel and Sarah were doing their daily walk around the hotel and an unruly guest asked them for some “tree”, which we googled and learned that they weren’t actually looking for an oak or maple, but “weed”. We reported it and they were evicted from the hotel and escorted off the property by five Piscataway police officers.

Yesterday, Eli got into the hot tub and handed Gary his blackberry. It hasn’t been the same since and is being replaced, thank goodness.

And the best moment of the week was last night. A couple of days ago Eli’s milk spilled in my purse. I didn’t discover it until it starting smelling bad. I washed the purse in the sink and put it through a cycle in the washing machine. It still reeked. So last night, Gary had the GREAT idea to hang the purse outside on his side view mirrors of his junky car to air out the smell. About 10 pm the front desk clerk, Matt, called to ask me if we were parked around the side of the hotel. After confirming it was our car, he asked me if we had hung a bag on the side. I started laughing so hard just picturing how redneck we must seem to him when he informs me that someone had called 911 because they were concerned that there was an unattended bag on someone’s junk car and they were suspicious. The police were in the lobby to investigate. OMG! Does it ever end?? I assured the police officer that we were innocent and after a really big laugh they left.

Today was spent at the Honda car lot having the van worked on . I cried with a little old man in the lobby whose wife had just died of pancreatic cancer. He was so pitiful and I just couldn’t help but feel so sorry for him. They had been married for 54 years!

Tonight we have packed up our room and are moving out for a week. We’re off to the mountains of North Carolina for a week without television or internet. I can’t wait to slow down and smell some mountain air.

And being below the Mason-Dixon Line will be great, too.

http://www.vrbo.com/232877ha (My last shameless plug…) RENT FROM US!!