Wednesday, April 30, 2008

20,000 hits and Refocus

I have been tracking visits to The Park Wife since December 1, 2007 and this morning I hit 20,000 visits. Yea! Now, I know it took me 5 months to get what some blogs get in 1 day (hats off to Pioneer Woman), but I am very appreciative of all of you who stop by everyday to read my ramblings, kid bragging, our love story, photos, or whatever else is on my mind that day. Thanks everyone!

I have slacked off a bit lately on blogging as the days have become nicer and we have spent more time outside. I must confess, I got to a point a while back where I felt I was spending WAY too much time writing my blog and visiting others. My focus got a little out of whack in the hopes of attracting more visitor's to my site, thankfully I have re-adjusted and got my priorities straight again.

I am still going to be here, but not every day as I had been. Again, thanks everyone for taking interest in our lives and stopping by, please continue coming around!

This, my friends, is why I must now go outside and play with my boys!

They have battles to fight, adventures to live, lesson's to learn from those who stood up for truth and did not waiver, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And, I am blessed to be the mommy of two little warriors for God --- life is good.

The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name (Ex. 15:3)
The Park Wife

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Birthday Weekend Blast

I had an extraordinary birthday weekend that started with breakfast in bed and ended with a day at the Zoo with all my guys.

We saw the cutest baby when we got there, no I'm not talking about Littlest Buckaroo, but this sweet new one. This was the only time we saw the mom get up, she just kind of hung out and ate a lot, hey she is a new mom, I feel her pain.

However, Dad was trying to encourage his big mama to do some exercising. He was performing some of his stretching exercises, this did not get her motivated, so he moved on to a little Yoga.

This is called Wide Squat or Frog, it is great for your hips. "Hey Big Mama, after birthing our baby your hips need to be stretched, strengthened, slimmed...."

"Oh my, he will be sleeping alone tonight. Doesn't he know that you don't tell a new mama she needs exercise? Gorillas, I thought they were supposed to be smart."

Now, this is why we went to the Zoo. Little Buckaroo kept saying, "this is the awesomest day, I love the Zoo. Let's go have some more Zoo fun."
This my friends is what it is all about, look at the smile on our angel's face.
Thanks to everyone for their birthday wishes, it was a GREAT weekend!
And, yes, this week you will be able to read the day that The Park Wife and Ranger met.
Until then,
The Park Wife

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Celebrate Good Times

My incredible husband took me on a date last night in celebration of my birthday tomorrow. We had a fabulous time enjoying each others company. Even though we love our Buckaroo's, we cherish the times we have just for he and I. I found that lately we can sit together in silence and in that quiet minute (because I can't be quiet for too long) there is such overwhelming peace and happiness.

After we arrived home from our date, paid our extraordinary babysitter, and looked in on our sleeping children, I looked at my husband and my heart was overcome with pure joy and contentment.

It made me think... what is Heaven going to be like? Will Big Buckaroo and I know each other there? Will I be able to see my children as men, enjoying their wives and families. Many questions that I do not know the answers to, but what I do know is that just as many people are living in hell on earth, I am blessed to have a bit of Heaven right here with my adoring husband and two little guys that call their mommy princess.

Happy Birthday to me, tomorrow and everyday that I am with my guys, my greatest gifts.

The Park Wife

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Hunka Hunka Burnin' Love....

Oh, you thought this was a continuation of the love story prep, didn't you? I know, I am so very cruel because it is not time yet. So, if I am not going to tell you about Big Buckaroo with that title, then of course I am going to talk about Elvis!!

Now, you can not live in Memphis and not have a secret love for Elvis. You might swear under your breath at the "crazy Elvis people" during death week when traffic is ridiculous, but somewhere deep down, all Memphians have a love for the King. O.K. you can try and deny it, but...

So, turn up your rhinestone-studded collar, rest your blue suede shoes on a comfortable stool, and read along as I tell you a little bit about The Park Wife and Elvis:

I was only 6 when he died, for all you Elvis fanatics, yes, that puts me at 36 (o.k. 37 this Sunday, a mere 5 years younger than the age of Elvis at his death). Of course, growing up everyone knew who Elvis was but my indoctrination into "the Memphis Elvis" came only a few days after starting work. In August of 1977, Elvis was brought to the ER at Baptist, the same hospital where I worked. On his birthday, death anniversary, and well, just about any random day, you could look out my office window and people where walking around looking at the ER entrance. No, they were not gushing blood, they were afflicted with The Elvis Presley syndrome, they wanted to see where Elvis died!

My nephew came to Memphis when he was about 5 and we went to tour Graceland. On the shuttle bus over, his mom asked about the night he died and was brought to Baptist. I was telling the story that had been passed down from hospital administration of that fateful night. When I said, "he died of acute respiratory distress in the ER", my nephew looked up and in a VERY loud voice on a bus full of Graceland visitors said, "I thought he died on the toilet". We were not very popular on the tour that day.

One of my responsibilities in the marketing department was working with the Foundation, the charitable arm of the hospital. They had tickets to every gala, dinner, opening, etc. and felt that there needed to be someone there to represent them. Often, as a single gal that did not have to be home to cook dinner for anyone, I went and dined on rubber chicken and tough baked potatoes. One evening, I was asked if I would like to attend the Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center fundraising dinner. Sure, free food, maybe this time it would be good. So, I went home, put on a nice suit and headed to The Peabody (yes, where the ducks are). I found the place in the hotel where the dinner was and as I walked in, I found that I really was not dressed appropriately because my shirt did not light up. I have never seen so much Elvis paraphernalia on people's bodies. That was probably one of the top people watching nights of my life.

Greg, the photographer for Baptist, was sure that I was an illegitimate child of Elvis', probably the dark hair and crooked smile. My mom assured him she was nowhere near Memphis during 1970, but it sure would be fun to have free reign of Graceland for a day.

The Park Wife has left the building.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Prepping for the Love Story ~ Memphis, the Professional Years

When I first started at Baptist, I was the Publications Editor, yes I wrote for a living and let me just say, I had no idea what I was doing. But, I winged it pretty well (kind of like my blog as I find the need to do when I have a two-year-old wanting a banana and the mush ends up in my keyboard). After a few months, I was approached by the lady who was going to take over the marketing department offering me a position as a marketing coordinator. It was a good move career-wise, so I jumped at it.

Now, the lady that took over the marketing department had major emotional issues and our department frequently received the brunt of her craziness. We never knew what to expect, she was your best friend one day and the next she was re-organizing the whole department because she wanted you to report to someone else. Usually it was because someone in one of the main departments at the hospital befriended you and she was jealous, then the next week she was going to change it back because she liked you again. Um, was this high school, oh no, this was the professional world. There are many, many examples of her wackiness, if I ever feel like I am running out of things to blog about, all I have to do is remember crazy Marketing Director Woman and I could write a few weeks worth.

I made friends quickly at Baptist, the marketing department was the fun place to work. As I look back now, of course hindsight is 20/20 and now I am much more aware of these types of things, but I can see how the Lord strategically put people in my path for me to learn some small lessons from and some big doozies. O.K. crazy Marketing Director Woman gave me some of those big doozie lessons.

One of the first people I met and bonded with was Pat, she had worked for Baptist for umpteen years. She was one of the nicest, coolest, fun people to be around and she is a devout Christian. She has a husband who she adores and during our times together at Baptist she started laying the foundation for me in showing how to fully love a husband. We had lunch together almost everyday and I truly adore this woman.

Most of the single people in the marketing department hung out together. For any of you who are scrapbookers, don’t be jealous, but Marci over at Make Art Everyday was one of my friends. (And, yes Boo Mama and I were in the same high school social club, we could probably play six degrees of separation and you and I would know each other). Anyway, weekends in Memphis were filled with fun ~ from Redbirds baseball games to dinner parties to one of the many wonderful restaurants Memphis has to offer. I was loving my mid-20s, I felt that I had it made, a great apartment on the River, a job that paid pretty well and some nice friends, but there was something missing ~ a man.

I was looking for marriage material in the Memphis dating pool, but most of the guys I met just wanted to go out all the time and have fun. Plus, at 27 I was getting old, meaning most of the guys my age were dating 21 year olds, it came down to maturity level. There were dates with accountants to lawyers to doctors, many duds. A couple years into my Memphis time, I met and started dating a Radiologist resident, he was my only real serious boyfriend that I had while in Memphis and that relationship just totally combusted.

Among other things, the Marketing Department was responsible for trade shows. So, in March of 1999, we were preparing for the Southern Women’s Show, when……

We are closer than ever to the first glimpse of my Park Ranger, please give me a little linky love today, I would really appreciate it. It would be great to increase my readership for "the meeting".

The Park Wife

Chapter 6 : The Day I met The Park Ranger

Monday, April 21, 2008

My Best Friend, the Photographer

A few people asked to see a close-up picture of the still nameless baby horse at the Park. Well, I can point and shoot and that is about it, but fortunately for all of you my best friend is an AWESOME photographer. So, Nikki was contracted to take a picture of the horse and all I have to pay her is with hamburgers off the grill tonight.

Isn't she a beautiful little thing! I told you the girl can take a picture. So, then I started thinking, I know that can be dangerous, I should share some of her other beautiful pictures with all of you. No worries, I got her permission, but I have not got the bill yet. Donations will be accepted through the end of the month (of course I am kidding).

This is probably one of my favorite photos of hers from the Park. Isn't is wonderful?!?

And, look at this beautiful shot.

Look at how she has captured the vibrancy and beauty of this Iris.

This one needs to be blown up on my wall in my kitchen, you know my birthday is next week, hint, hint. Oh, I kid, sorta.

I hope you enjoyed them, I will share more as she let's me. I know, she needs to have a photography blog so she can share all the pictures herself. Leave a comment and I will make her read them to entice her into the blogging world.

We are getting closer to the meeting of the Park Ranger in my story, hold on Susanna (a very dear friend of ours informed me at church yesterday that I need to get on with the story) the next installment is coming VERY soon!

The Park Wife

Friday, April 18, 2008

Living With Less Is a Choice

While I was re-hanging my newly cleaned blinds and curtains in my bedroom yesterday (a once a year task that it not my favorite), I clicked on the TV and Oprah had a show on about living with less. It was a follow-up to a show on freegan living. Immediately, I was intrigued and left it on because first, it was not Veggie Tales and secondly by worldly standards our family is odd so I wanted to see if there were any people "like us". Did anyone see this show?

They took two families and gave them a challenge to live with less for 7 days, yes, just one week. The first family admitted in the very beginning that they are wasteful, I guess the first step is admitting the problem. This family has picky eaters and the mom was making four different dinners a night, o.k. who has time to do this or the money? Even though their refrigerator was fuller than me on lasagna night, they went grocery shopping and spent $200 on more food they are going to throw out next week before they return to the grocery to buy more. The topper here is that they can not even afford this lifestyle, they are robbing Peter to pay Paul. The husband is struggling to keep them in this lifestyle and is not being very successful.

Oh, and the kids, I ache for these spoiled children. They are growing up thinking this is the standard so when they are out on their own, they will expect to still live at this level. When they don't, they will be lost and will be discontent, not living a full, joyful life. There is no work ethic being instilled in these children, so on top of thinking they will be able to live at the same standard, they will not have a work ethic to bring in money. Sadly, they broke the rules repeatedly during the 7 days. I don't think this is going to be life-changing for them. They need to meet some Katrina victims to get a little life perspective.

Now, the second family grieved me even more for the children. The five-year-old spent between 3 to 5 hours a day, yes, A DAY playing video games and the daughter had the TV on all day and night. The mom was ready to make the change as she saw her five-year-old going through withdrawals as an addict does when taken away from his "habit". Woohoo, this family did the challenge and have made some real life changes, I think they "got it". Seven days is a start, but it is lifestyle choice.

I am so blessed to have a frugal husband, I am not sure many wives would say that and in reality when we were first married, this was not my favorite quality of his. With "retiring" from the work world to be a stay-at-home mom and now a homeschool mom there have been many sacrifices, but I would gladly do it all again.

No, I don't have a ton of great clothes (hey Oprah, since you are simplifying, could send me some of your clothes), or get pedicures, or my hair fixed at the salon regularly. But, my husband thinks I am a princess and treats me like one. He does not deny me "things" because I never put him in the position to have to buy my attention or love or to be wasteful. If it is something that I feel that I NEED, I get it. If it is something I WANT, we talk about it and see the feasibility of it.

It is a choice for us to live this kind of life. In return, I am already seeing the fruits ~ we have children who are learning what real work ethic is, we will help them find their life passion and having fun doing it, we own 92 acres that we paid cash for, we own our vehicles, we don't have credit card debt and we are just in our mid 30s (o.k. so I have a birthday in a few weeks that is going to put me much closer to the 40 mark).

Living a simple life does not mean you are somehow inadequate or you are "poor". I feel like one of the richest women alive.

The Park Wife

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Park Surprise

The Park bought some new horses to pull the surrey just recently. They are beautiful gals, but not as beautiful as the site we saw a few days ago~~

Now, I am not a cowgirl and evidently the animal curators are not cowboys because they did not even know she was pregnant. Freckles is a very good mom and the baby is doing great.

What a wonderful, unexpected blessing. You know how I take pictures of everything, so The Park Wife readers will get to see her grow up! If you have a name recommendation, I will pass it on to Big Buckaroo.

Spring has sprung!
The Park Wife

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Prepping for The Love Story - Boomerang Kid

Returning to my Mississippi hometown after living and working all over the South was humbling, awkward, yet beautiful. At the ripe old age of 25, I was at a crossroads in my life and I did not know which way to go. I spent the year trying to reflect, focus, rejuvenate, and mostly, be still.

I lived with my parents, yes I became one of those boomerang kids that returns to the comfort of the home that they had known as a child. But, this time I could help financially and spent the time bonding with my parents as an adult, as their friend.

I became my parent’s third wheel. With their six kids out on their “own”, well five of them were gone, they had become accustomed to eating out on the weekends, a sweet reward for all the dinners they cooked throughout our childhood. So, I tagged along, many a weekends you would see me walking into a restaurant with them holding hands and me walking right beside them. I love how my mom and dad adored each other and visibly showed their love. Remember, my dad that I speak of is actually my step-dad. He was the one who sacrificed for me and I am who I am today because of his love and devotion, taking me as his own, he was my daddy. We lost him a few years ago and I cherish every minute I was able to spend with him.

My first order of business when I returned home was to get a job. With a car note, insurance, and a student loan, there was no other option. A family friend runs one of the hospitals in our hometown, so he put me to work in Admissions of the hospital which required me to work every other weekend in the ER. Now, I am not a blood person, but I am compassionate. I was able to share that gift on many occasions when moms were scared for their hurt children or an elderly lady was weeping over her sick husband of 55 years.

After a couple of months, I was hired to work for the local cable company in the advertising department. Now, I liked helping with ad sales support, commercial filming, but HORROR, the time came when they needed me to help in the sales department. Remember, I am NOT a salesperson, that my friends is not one of my gifts. But, I did it, the people pleaser in me could not tell them no. This is when I began spending my lunch hour at the local library around the corner from my office looking online for what my next move would be. I enjoyed my time with my parents and would not change it for anything, but all good things must come to an end, or at least a stepping stone to the next thing.

So, I began looking for a job in my field in larger towns ~ New Orleans, Birmingham, Nashville, and of course, Memphis. I knew Memphis, I loved Memphis, and I had friends there, so it was the logical place for me to focus my attention. It was during this time that I finally began to acknowledge the hand that was guiding my life and started to pray for His will to be done, for Him to direct my path.

I interviewed for a position in the marketing department of Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation in Memphis, was hired, started packing and headed north. I rented an apartment in Harbortown on the Mississippi River and showed up at Baptist for the first day of another life-changing chapter in my life.

Stay tuned, we are getting close to "the meeting day" of me and Big Buckaroo.

The Park Wife

Read Chapter 5: Memphis - The Professional Years

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Old Homestead

One part of owning our land that we love is exploring on it. The last time we were there, we crossed a stream and saw jonquils in bloom. We remembered a good friend of ours, who is an old park naturalist, say when he was out walking our land with us that if you see jonquils it is an old homesite. Jonquils are not native so someone had to have planted them.

Well, we saw jonquils and then found this!!!!!!

If you look close, you will see an old fireplace in the distance and right at the bottom, center of the picture are rocks that were used as footings for a home. All four footing rock piles are still there.

Here is the back of the fireplace, pretty cool stuff.

This is the front of the fireplace. Right in front of it you will see a huge cedar tree that is estimated at 80 -85 years old. So, the home has been gone at least this long.

When we walked a few feet from the old homestead site, we found the hand dug well! People, this is some awesome stuff.

My mind just goes crazy thinking of the people who lived here a hundred years ago ~ what their life was like, what the kids did way out in the middle of nowhere, how they had to work hard all day just to put food on the table and wake up the next day and do it all over again.

Big Buckaroo has found a few more wells on the property and we have more exploring to do. We are going to have to borrow a metal detector, can you imagine what we will find!

The Park Wife's Life/Love story will continue this week, stick around,

The Park Wife

Friday, April 11, 2008

Rain, Rain, Go Away

After a few days of very bad weather, we finally see the sun!!!!
And, thank goodness because I am getting a little tired of washing all the clothes the Buckaroos are getting wet each time they go out to play in the puddles. But, it is worth it because they had so much fun as did Lucky the dog.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

All in the Family

Tuesday was an adventure at our house with 4 buckaroos and about the cutest little girl buckaroo (would that be a buckarette?) you have ever seen.

LtR - Little Pumpkin, Cousin C, Little Lion, Little Buckaroo, Littlest Buckaroo

Big Buckaroo's Aunt Lolly, her daughter Mommy Lion, along with Mommy Lion's two kids Little Lion and Little Pumpkin spent the day with us playing with every toy in the house and then running like wild children outside. They had a blast.

You would have thought you were at a movie premiere with all the cameras flashing. The paparazzi ( everyone over 5 feet tall) were snapping pictures constantly. Mommy Lion has some great pictures over on her blog, so show her some bloggy love and go over for a visit. That means you too Tia! Tia is Mommy Lion's little sister, Big Buckaroo's other girl cousin, who reads my blog but sometimes does not get around to reading Mommy Lion's, but we are not going to tell Mommy Lion, alright?!....

Since I live in a house full of boys and will not have any girls (we are done, I am getting old), I loved having Little Pumpkin around. I can live vicariously through Mommy Lion in having a little girl, plus I don't have to stress about her dating, fighting over what clothes to wear and all that fun teenage girl stuff.

It's obvious that she is kin to Littlest Buckaroo as this was the first thing she played with when she got here.

This is Lolly (yes, her husband is called Pop's, get it Lolly and Pop) holding Little Pumpkin. I know, can you believe she is a grandmother! As you can see, she is very beautiful, but let me tell you she has a beautiful spirit too!

O.K., isn't she the cutest thing! I just want to squeeze her like Charmin.

We have severe storms coming through the area, hopefully I will not get electrocuted while typing this blog because then you would not get a next installment of the love story. Well, if I get electrocuted, I don't think there will be any more installments, ever. Now, it is not lightening, I am not that dumb.

Stay dry and I hope everyone is safe and sound,
The Park Wife

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Prepping for the Love Story - After College

And, then Ray DIED!

It had been over a year and a half since we broke up. I had dated and got engaged to EJ and he had dated and married a girl in Yuma. I am so happy he was able to be married and enjoy the fruits of a loving spouse and everything that comes with being married. Unfortunately, on deployment in the Indian Ocean there was an accident as he took off from the aircraft carrier.

At the young age of 23, I had invested a lot of my time, and yes, my heart in Ray. I was lost in which way to go. At this time in my life, I had not been involved in a church and was not spending any time in the Word. However, I always had that seed in me that knew right and wrong and convicted me to do what was right and good. Did I fail at times, YES, but the Holy Spirit was still there, ALWAYS.

One of the many results from Ray’s death for me is that it gave me clarity in the fact that it was not fair to be with EJ just because he was stable and the ingrained idea that I was supposed to get married because I had graduated college and the next step in the life plan was marriage.

It was time for me to get a real job. I sent out a zillion resumes in my field, public relations, for a few months and did not get many interviews. I thought about being a pharmaceutical rep and went on an interview in New Orleans. While waiting for my second interview appointment, I heard that an airline in Atlanta was hiring flight attendants, what a fun, adventure that would be. Ray loved to fly and I needed to do this to insure that I would not have a fear of flying, revel in the adventure and then close that chapter of my life (as much as that is possible). Within a three week period, I had interviewed, accepted a job and was in Atlanta training to be a flight attendant. It was right up my alley.

In a little less than a year, my feet were tired and the smelly business men that drank a little too much on short flights home on Fridays were about to wear me out. So, with a layover in Memphis, I grabbed a newspaper, searched the classifieds and sent a resume out to a HUGE health club chain (Q The Sports Club) that was looking for someone in promotions. Perfect job to use my degree, get some public relations experience and of course I already had some health club experience.

I got the job and rented a studio apartment in Midtown Memphis. It was old, but cool with beautiful French doors, eclectic neighbors, and a few mouse roommates. The first week I was there, I saw a mouse in my kitchen. I had never seen a mouse inside that close. So, I did what any logical, southern debutante would do. I grabbed the phone, jumped on top of my bed, and called my daddy… in Mississippi…. 4 hours away.

The landlord stopped by the next day and I told him about the fact that I had some new roommates and they were not helping me with the rent. He helped me to evict them with some traps. As I look back, I am sure the landlord just rolled his eyes when he had to put the traps in there and then check them for me daily because I would not go in the kitchen while they were in there. Every evening when I walked in, I would tell them that I was home and they better run to someone else's apartment. Talking to mice, hmmm, a wee bit crazy.

This was the beginning of the single life ~ out on my own, finding my way (and losing it at times). I had a great time working for The Q and met Kelly Jo who became one of my best lifelong friends. After about a year in Memphis, I had the opportunity to transfer to the Austin, TX club and Kelly Jo was not far behind, transferring a few months later.

I was there for about a year and loved Austin, it is a beautiful city. The job was a bit of a dead-end unless I wanted to go into Sales, and believe me, getting people to sign a gym contract did not entice me a bit, no matter the money. I felt bad taking people's money to join a gym when I knew they would not last until February 1 when their New Year's resolution wore off.

So, I packed up and moved back to Mississippi to regroup. Oh, what to do next?

Don’t worry; I am getting to that fateful day when my gun-toting ranger sauntered into my life.

Until then,
The Park Wife

Read Chapter 4 - Boomerang Kid

Monday, April 7, 2008

Birthday Buckaroo


Big Buckaroo's birthday was this past weekend so we went to his parents in north Texas to celebrate. My sweet Little Buckaroo asked to go to the dollar store to get his dad a present because all he had was a dollar and a bunch of change. He emptied his little bank and I gave Littlest Buckaroo a dollar and off we went. Big Buckaroo loved the new tire brush, play train and toothbrush they picked out for him.

He was very appreciative and made them feel like it cost a million dollars. So, why in the world did I only get 4 comments on my prepping for the love story that includes this incredible man? I guess I will just hold off on it for a while, or maybe not. Check back this week and see.

Littlest Buckaroo loved the noise makers, imagine that, a Buckaroo making noise.
What is that you said Littlest Buckaroo? Oh, you are trying to get their attention with all the noise to ask why there were only 4 comments on the build up to a great love story (I know it is shameless to put words into my 2-year-olds mouth).

Little Buckaroo loves his MiMi. Thanks MiMi for the wonderful lunch and BIRTHDAY CAKE!!!!

It was a great time and we brought back a little buckaroo cousin with us for a few days.

Mommy Lion, Big Buckaroo's cousin, along with her mom and two little ones are coming for a visit tomorrow, we are all excited about seeing them since we have not seen them in a year. Expect pictures and stories on both of our blogs later in the week.

Until tomorrow,
The Park Wife

Friday, April 4, 2008

Prepping for The Love Story ~ The College Years

The Fall after high school graduation I entered the University of Southern Mississippi. Of the "popular"group in high school, the majority went to Ole Miss, a few to Mississippi State and I, alone, went to Southern Miss. That first semester was full of adjustments as it would be for any Freshman that came right from their parents home. I spent that semester in the Phi Mu dorm with a very nice roommate and many nice girls. I had a lot of fun, maybe too much.

I had a wonderful English teacher/newspaper advisor in high school, Mrs. Hyche, that took me under her wing and made me think that I could be a reporter if that is what I put my mind to. She had more impact in my life than she will ever know. My first job was at local radio station during high school and I caught the reporter bug. I hosted the Dedication Hour, funny huh? Listening to teeny boppers dedicate the latest Chicago song to the "love of their life".

Once at USM, I majored in Broadcast Journalism. I was going to be the next local reporter, I knew I had to work my way up to CNN. However, the head of that department had the DULLEST classes, I would nod off and that was not like me to do. I might not have been a straight A student, but I was respectful and at least acted interested. Well, until this professor's class. I quickly changed my major to Journalism/Public Relations, there was no way I could handle 4 years of his lectures. I am sure that decision allowed Katie Couric to propel to the position she is in today.

When I returned from Christmas break my Freshman year, I moved out of the Phi Mu dorm and it was one of the best decisions I could have ever made. I moved into another dorm and the day I moved in I was sitting on my bed and there was a knock at the door. I answered it and a sweet girl named Gayla was standing there asking to move in since I did not have a roommate. One of her best friends from her hometown lived down the hall and she did not know anyone else at USM. I said yes and from that day forward she rarely saw her friend down the hall because we became inseparable. Although our lives are miles apart now, she is still a friend of mine.

That summer I was looking for a fun adventure, so one of my high school friends and I moved to Destin, FL where I waited tables at The Back Porch Restaurant. It was fun and the skin damage I have today is from that summer of too much fun in the sun!

I returned to USM for my Sophomore year and Gayla and I moved up in the dorm world into one with suites. This is when we started hanging out with Olga, my friend from New Orleans, remember the one that forgot to build the ark before Katrina hit. She would come over and visit in the afternoons and too many times we would say, hey, let's go to New Orleans for the night (it was about an hour and 15 minutes away). We would all look at each other, throw down our books and get dressed. As a direct result of those New Orleans trips, I failed Statistics. Plus the fact that as a journalism major, I did words, not numbers. It also did not help that I could not understand my professor because English was not his native tongue.

I had to make at least a C in every class for my funding to continue. So, the Spring semester I moved home, got a job at the local hospital's health club and started classes at the community college. It was during this time that I met my first love, my first real, long-term boyfriend, Ray. He was a Marine Corp pilot at the Navy base and I just adored him. I returned to USM the next spring and continued my degree work. Gayla had left and went to Mississippi State, she just could not bear to be without me at USM, just kidding. Actually, God had it planned for her to meet her downstairs neighbor, a high school friend of mine (weird coincidence, huh), and marry him. They have 2 beautiful daughters now.

Olga and I became roommates and I continued to date Ray. I got a job at another hospital based wellness center (gym) in my college town where I worked the rest of my college years. Ray sent me flowers every week at college. It got to the point after he was stationed in North Carolina that he just sent Olga money and she was to buy the flowers for me. She did for a while, then she just gave me the money so I could put it on my school phone card to call him in North Carolina. He then was moved to Yuma, AZ and it was make or break time.

I had met some people who played soccer and started going out and kicking the ball around with them that first semester back at USM. I had never played soccer before but was pretty athletic and took to it. O.K., I became a little obsessed with it.

So, when Ray wanted me to move to Arizona and sent me a college packet that was from the University of Arizona Yuma, the Desert Campus, I freaked a little, O.K. a lot. Did they have grass out there? (yeah, yeah, I know now) Could I play soccer on sand? Was I ready to make such a big leap?

I loved Ray deeply, we were incredible together, but I was young, very immature. I decided against it (MARRIAGE OPPORTUNITY #1), but we decided to still date long distance but date other people also and life went on. I continued working and going to school and then kicked in my soccer boyfriend. We dated on and off for the rest of my college years, it was real serious and then off, real serious, then off. I don't even have words to describe us. (POTENTIAL MARRIAGE OPPORTUNITY #2 SIDELINED)

I moved out of the dorm and into an apartment with a girl named Karen that played on the USM soccer team with me. Four and a half years after my first semester away from home, I graduated. Yes, it took four and a half years because there was one more soccer season I could play. So, I did an internship, worked at the wellness center and played soccer my last semester.

During this time I met EJ playing soccer. He had graduated college years before and had an actual job as an auditor for a bank. We dated a while and then were engaged even though we really did not want to get married. I just thought it was what I was supposed to do because I had graduated college and was dating a nice, stable guy. We had not made any actual plans to marry, I just had the ring.

Then, Ray......

Until tomorrow,
The Park Wife

Read Chapter 3 - After College

I Am the Strange one?

There have been a few things happen recently that have labeled me "the strange one" or our family is "different". I am completely baffled by this and I guess this might be a Park Wife venting post. So, hold onto your hats .

First Thing: Last year, we, along with a few other families we know well signed our 4-year-olds up for T-ball. Now, all of you parents of little ones out there pretty much know what 4-year-old T-ball is about, right? A little playing in the dirt, learning to hit the ball off the tee and running around the bases. Big Buckaroo was one of the assistant coaches (along with 2 other dads from the families we know well) and we went to the majority of the practices and maybe missed one or two games the whole summer. Little Buckaroo was not the best but DEFINITELY was not the worst player on the team, again, he was 4.

So, with traveling to and working on our land, plus some inconsistencies of our parenting styles with many of the parents of the other teams out there, we had not decided if we were going to sign Little Buckaroo up for 5 -year old T-ball. (Inconsistencies meaning that many felt that this is the World Series of 4-year-olds and we must scream and berate them because, of course, that motivates them to do better) Big Buckaroo always focused on the fun and learning of it and never made it about competition, um, I have found out that did us in. Now, remember that I played college soccer and Big Buckaroo has run marathons and played sports in high school so it is not that we are not an athletic family-- we know about competition.

Big Buckaroo asked one of the other dads from last year about T-ball this year and was informed that they had already signed up, picked teams and it was almost time for the first game. Now, the two dads from last year plus another dad got together and are coaching a team which means they did not let us know because evidently they did not want us to be a part of it. I was a little bothered by this but took it as that it made the decision for us to not play this year. I have recently found out that it was said that we were not very "committed" last year, so they just did not even mention it to us..

SecondThing -Little Buckaroo was not invited to a birthday party of one of the boys who we have known since we moved here until the last minute, we were not able to attend on such short notice. A token invite of sorts. The little boy is in school and has school friends now and being that Little Buckaroo is homeschooled he was just not at the top of the invitee list I guess. Little Buckaroo was oblivious to it and always will be, I, though am seeing a trend here.

Third Thing- I have cut back on some of my outside the home commitments to make sure that my priorities are right - God, Big Buckaroo, my kids and then other activities as long as the first three are being taken care of correctly. This has been hard for me because I am a VERY social person. I am getting a little bit of a brush-off from those that I had worked so closely on many activities with, is this real or perceived? I am not sure.

Now that I have vented, I feel better and now is time for perspective. Our family has been called to be different. We are building a heavenly marriage and working to raise stable, Godly children who have OUR worldview, not that of their peers who only seek self-gratification.

Many of you read my blog daily (about 150 on average, thanks everyone for coming by!) and know from my writings, my heart. This is not being haughty for those of you who don't know me.
The question that boggles me is "why are we the different ones?" I adore, cherish and love my husband and he does me too. Our children are well-behaved (most of the time, the training continues), they are a joy to be around. I not only love my boys but like them, enjoy them. I am a very blessed woman.

Do I get tired, down, hormonal, ummmmm, YES! But, when I wake up for my quiet time, I thank God for the privilege to be Big Buckaroo's wife and the Little Buckaroo's mom. Have I had to refocus at times, yes. It seems God always provides the right scripture, person, book, etc. at the time that I need it most. The key is having an open heart to receive His word.

So, as the years go by, I am going to be stranger and stranger to the world. And, I am getting alright with that, I am not totally there yet. God has given me 3 (Big and Little Buckaroos) talons and one day I will have to tell Him what I did with them.

Are you willing to step out and be the "strange" one?
The Park Wife

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Prepping for the Love Story - My Childhood

It is finally time to prepare you for how the park ranger and I met and our love story.

First, I want to give you background on who I am and where I have been. If you have been reading my blog from the beginning, just be patient, this is some review with a few bits and pieces I have been holding back!

I grew up in a town in Mississippi next door to my grandparents. They had a lovely old home with white columns and between our home and their home was about an acre of what we called "the park". A little life foreshadowing, huh? It was full of beautiful trees and flowering plants that my great grandmother planted and tended to with help of only her husband and a "garden helper" named Obie. They also had a lady that worked for our family for a little over 50 years named Ira. I adored her and she was family to me. I miss her as much as I miss my grandmother now that they are with the Lord.

My childhood was a bit of a dichotomy, my parents were divorced and my mom struggled to raise her 4 children on her own. On the flip side, I had my grandparents (on my father's side) next door who made sure I had the "right" clothes, involved in the "right" circles, everything that prepared me to be in the "right" social club.

I have 3 biological brothers and when my mother married my step-father (who never treated me like a step-child) she took on raising his 2 boys at the ages of 4 and 6. She never treated them like anything but her own, they lived with us full-time so she was their mother. So, those of you who have number issues, that means I have 5 brothers. Nope, not a sister in sight.

I was an over-scheduled child, I was in gymnastics, dancing, softball, cheerleading, the social club, church activities and on and on. I do appreciate my mother's sacrifice that allowed me to do these things that many others were not as fortunate to do. However......

.....A warning to all mother's out there, find what your children likes, what they are good at, and their passion. Don't put them in every sport or every type of lesson just so they will be in the "right" crowd, that makes it about you and your social acceptance needs, not theirs. Oh, was I child training preaching, alright, moving on.

I was the head cheerleader and what everyone would consider a popular girl. I had friends that were in all different kinds of "groups" and because of this I was ostracized at times by the other "popular" girls. They talked behind my back, made things up about me, and pretty much were not real friends. As I look back, I would not change this time in my life. My feelings were hurt at times, but if I walked back into my high school right now with an array of people I graduated with, I could look them all in the eye and be happy that I was who I was, treated them how I treated them, and be even happier about the person I am today.

I was baptized at the age of 11 and was involved in my church youth group. In all honesty, I was baptized because I had been in church the majority of my life, I thought that was the next thing I was supposed to do, and because my friend Robin was going to get baptized. Yeah, yeah, I know that was not right, but give me a break, I was 11.

During my last two years of high school, I was in church sporadically as I was over-scheduled and hanging out with older people that were not church-goers. I lived in a town that trains Navy and Marine Corp jet pilots and it was during the "Top Gun" times. So, hanging out with these college educated pilot trainees was much more important to me than some of my other commitments, um, like church. I am not proud of this, but this is The True Park Wife Story, so I am just keeping it true.

All in all, I had a very blessed childhood. My brothers would say that I got away with a lot more than them because I was the girl, the only girl. Maybe that is true, but I tend to think I was too busy with all my commitments to get into too much trouble, plus I was such a people pleaser that I did not want to let anyone down.

Next, the college years, a few of my fun jobs, and eventually I will get to that fateful day that I saw that Wrangler-wearing park ranger walk into my life.

Until tomorrow,
The Park Wife

Chapter 2- The College Years

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Southern Belle of Flowers

How could a Mississippi Southern Belle not just love the flowering vine that is called "Southern Belle"? Wisteria brings back sweet memories of my childhood, living next door to my grandparents whose home was my great-grandparents before theirs. It had majestic white columns on the front porch and was surrounded by gardens of flowers that are staples for a Southern landscape -- azaleas, gardenias, Confederate Jasmine, Irises, and magnolia trees.

As I looked out my living room window a few days ago, I saw this majestic site and could, without even going outside, smell the sweet smell of wisteria. It is an ambitious vine and many Southerners have a love/hate relationship with it.

For avid gardeners, this vine will drive you crazy for 11 months of the year. My brown thumb is not too bothered by it, especially because when wisteria is in bloom the delicate perfume that permeates my yard is intoxicating. I know it can be trained, but in reality I spend my time training my children, so in this life season the wisteria vine training is going to have to wait.

I am not the only one who loves it, the bumble bees swarm to wisteria. I do not have a macro lens, so I was pretty close to these guys when taking the pictures. But, don't worry, I survived without being stung (do these kind of bees sting? remember, brown thumb girl, I ran away just in case).

Here is another bee-pleasing tree in our yard, a flowering crabapple tree.

Although these trees are customarily grown as ornamentals, later this year we will have crabapples that can be made into wonderful jelly. I tried making the jelly once and it was alright, but one of the cooks at the park restaurant can make some extraordinary crabapple jelly. So, now I just let her pick them for the price of a couple of jars. It's a win-win situation, well, maybe I win a little more because I don't have to do anything, I did not plant the tree. I do have to make the biscuits though, does that count?
I hope Spring is coming to your area.
The Park Wife