Tuesday, September 30, 2008

So long summer

Okay, so I know summer ended a little over a week ago, but I just had to share this.

This past March I decided to be ambitious and plant my own, home-grown flowers.

I went to Wal-Mart and bought seeds and two flats that would act as "mini greenhouses" for the seedlings. I planted Forget-me-Nots, Marigolds, Shasta Daisies, Dahlias, Sunflowers, Zinnias and Cone Flowers.
My girls even got in on the action, although they got bored after planting a few seeds, plus it was hard to work with such small seeds.
A little less than two months later most of the seeds that I had planted had sprouted. It was fun for the kids to see the plants grow. Some of the seeds didn't do so well, namely the Cone Flowers and Marigolds, but it was rather painless. When the seedlings were ready and the weather had warmed up enough I transplanted them into our yard.
Out of all the flowers, the Zinnias did best although they were a lot taller than I had expected. My landscaping skills would certainly not get me on the pages of Better Homes and Gardens, but it was the learning experience that counts.
I wasn't thrilled with the way the Shasta Daisy's did, but since they are perennials I'm hoping they'll come back fuller next year.
The Dahlias also did very well and I loved the colors- many different kinds. Next year I think I'll move these to the backyard (since they are perennials also).
I also love how these flowers have made great arrangements in the house. It was a very fun, worthwhile family project.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Remember

I remember September 11, 2001. I had gone to school early that morning to teach my 3rd grade class in Norcross, GA. My husband had gone to work at 3rd Army in Ft. McPherson, GA. My parents were in town visiting and were going to the airport that morning to pick up my sister and her husband who were flying in from Washington D.C.

I remember a fellow teacher coming into my room and telling me that two planes had hit the World Trade Centers in New York City. I remember the shock and horror I felt, knowing this was no accident and wondering who could be that evil. I couldn’t begin to imagine the number of lives that were lost.

I remember hearing about the plane that had crashed into the Pentagon and knowing that my sister and her husband were flying out from D.C. that very morning. I remember the guilty relief I felt when I saw that their flight had landed in Atlanta but knowing that many other families were learning that their loved ones had not been so fortunate. I remember my sister later telling me that they had seen the Pentagon as they flew out of the city, just 30 minutes before it was attacked.

I remember trying very hard not to let my students know that something so horrible had occurred that day. During my lunch break I called my husband, and that was when I first cried because his job primarily dealt with the Middle East. I remember being afraid that he would have to go to war.

I remember the days, weeks and months that followed. My students came with so many questions. “Why had this happened?” “Who did this?” “Why didn’t they like us?” Too many of them had seen the images on T.V., burning buildings, people jumping, and they needed assurance that they were safe. I remember hearing so many stories on the news of acts of heroism and an increased sense of patriotism.

I remember holding my newborn daughter in my arms and watching as we went to war. I remember the mixed emotions that I had and how I selfishly prayed that my husband wouldn’t have to go.

I remember my husband telling me that with his new job assignment would be a deployment. I remember watching him hold our 5 month old son and praying that he would come home alive. I remember the sense of pride mixed with fear and an unexplainable God-given peace as I watched him walk away, knowing it would be a long time before I saw him again.

I remember the year without my husband. Relying on God’s strength for each day, and anticipating my husband’s phone calls, letters, and e-mails, and praying for his and the other soldiers’ safety. I remember feeling God’s hand through the hugs and support of friends and family, offers of help, the simple “Thank you’s.”

I remember him finally coming home, our children running towards him and holding on tightly to their daddy. I remember his strong arms holding me; it was as if no time had passed by at all.

I remember those who lost their lives on September 11th. I remember those in the military who endure time away from their family and friends and who have given their lives to defend our freedom. I remember those who anticipate the phone calls and letters from their loved ones who are far away, and I remember those who will never see their loved one again. I remember and pray for them all.

I remember. I will not forget.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Venezuela Parte Dos

I forgot to mention that the cabin we stayed at was a flower farm. It was breath-takingly beautiful, but sadly pictures will never really capture the true beauty.

We visited one of our favorite hotels, Hotel Lost Frailes, but with the sky-rocketing inflation we didn't stay there. Supposedly it was once a monastery and dates back to the 1600's.

Hotel Los Frailes nestled in the mountains.
The courtyard.

Venezuela Parte Uno

I was a bit taken aback today when I realized we'd been home for 2 weeks. When we got home after our vacation we practically hit the ground running with school starting less than a week later, hubby going back to work, and trying to return to the usual routines of life.

I've been a bit overwhelmed by all the pictures we took (I had over 400 and my parents gave me a CD of their shots- 700+). Even though I had originally said that this was my last trip to Venezuela, in reality this has only helped to increase my desire to return again. If only money grew on trees...

It's hard to pick out just the highlights from our trip. As much as Blogger will allow me, I'll post a as many pictures as I can and try to include a brief description of the trip.

After we got over our exhaustion from the flight, we drove to the Western part of Venezuela where the highest peak is located. It's always been a favorite vacation area for my family and my husband had never seen this area.

We stayed in Rincon de la Venta (a tiny little village) in a cabin that had a fireplace. As odd as this may sound, we needed it. I'm not sure what the temperature was, but there was snow on some of the nearby peaks since it was the rainy season. We all wore several layers of clothing. My girls had the cutest room, beds with curtains.

We drove to the nearby city of Merida where we planned on riding the world's longest cable care. Much to our surprise and disappointment, although it was the peak of tourist season, the cable car was closed due to maintenance. Later we did find out that it is now closed for good because it is beyond repair and must be replace completely. Glad we didn't ride on it after all!

However, there is a lot to do in that area. We went to the ice cream store that is in the Guinness Book of World Records for most flavors of ice cream. They sold flavors such as smoked trout, tomato, asparagus, sardines, and even Viagra. I tried corn, rose and lemon- and it was all good.

We also went horseback riding. There aren't very strict standards of safety, so my 5 year old and 1 year old were able to ride on the horses (helmets were not available). They had a blast. We enjoyed the unique beauty of the area. This plant is called a Frailejon and is native only to the Andes. It reminds me a little of the Edelweiss in Europe only these plants can grow up to 6 feet tall.