Thursday, October 22, 2015

It's Official--House For Sale

It's official. The Sunnydale House is now for sale. You can find the listing here, on Zillow. It has been loved for 15 years. The first year by Mikie as he built it and then the last 14 years by all of us. It's just a little bit hard to pack up and move to a new place. We know that the family who moves in next will have as much fun in that house as we have.

It's a great place for...
Riding bikes in the street,
Running and Walking,
Making S'mores,
Snow sledding,
Raising animals,
Raising children,
Making memories.

I thought it only fitting to document some of our favorite times over the years. I wish I had access to all of my favorite pics but for now here are a few. Please don't judge the quality of these photos. Some are mine, some are the kids, some from friends, some are just when life happens, a few are by Wendy Ivens Photography. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Day 6 and 7--Childhood Dreams and Why I Became a Teacher

       Growing up I was determined to be Shuttle Commander for NASA, at least after becoming the first female fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force. That dream changed January 28, 1986. I was sitting in my fourth grade classroom eating lunch. We were allowed to eat in class that day because the Shuttle Challenger was launching and taking teacher Christa McAuliffe  to space.

As I ate my lunch my excitement grew. Then, suddenly, 73 seconds into departure the unthinkable happened. I watched as the Shuttle Challenger exploded and fell back to Earth. My excitement turned to shock, fear, tears.  I felt like I had lost someone on that shuttle that day. 

That’s when I realized that being Shuttle Commander wasn’t just a fun, cool job it was a huge responsibility and could be dangerous. I still wanted to work for NASA but maybe in other position as the years passed. 

Eventually I started to come to the realization that I just wasn’t Air Force or NASA material. I stink at math as you know and most everything related to it. Plus, I really wanted to be a mom and a stay at home mom at that. I would feel guilty I thought if Nana and Papaw spent all that money helping me through school and then I didn’t use what I had learned. 

I didn’t realize that I would have received money for my schooling, but by the time I found out, I didn’t want to go to far from home either. 

As my senior year of high school wore on I needed to declare a major for college. As much as I wanted a corner office, suits and high heels, a fancy desk and a couch for my clients, I knew counseling wasn’t what I really wanted to do. Miss Omega, my piano teacher, looked at me one day and asked, 

“Michelle, what do you enjoy doing the most?”

“Teaching kids piano and playing piano and singing.” I replied.

I got it. I knew I should be a music teacher. I could be a mom, have the same schedule as my own kids and do what I loved the most. I went to college and majored in music education. I taught music for seven years before I became a stay at home mom for six years. I loved teaching piano to my students, many of whom were in our wedding. One day I will teach piano again, when you all aren't in so many activities or can drive yourselves. Even if I don't go back to teaching full-time, I can sub and still do what I love.

       I know my childhood dream isn't as extravagant as yours, being a missionary, veterinarian, going to the Air Guard like your daddy or being a monkey handler are all great things to strive for. Know that no matter what you decide to do, where God leads you, your Daddy and I will be there for you. Nana and Papaw were for me and I've never felt guilty for being a stay at home mom. 

      On a side note to my readers. As I've written these posts, I've realized some should be combined, like this one, a few are a little more personal than I want to share online and a couple need pictures which are at my parents house. Look for the highlighted links to stories that have been posted and come back in a few days for some more. 

Day--3 Favorite Summer Growing Up

        My favorite summer growing up was the one between my freshman and sophomore years of high school. Papaw Gary lost his job. He spent the summer trying to draw his unemployment. It was a fight but the unemployment office agreed that he was unfairly treated and by the end of summer he began to receive his unemployment.

        That wasn't my favorite part. This is...

         I had my wisdom teeth cut out the first week of summer break. Once I mended the fun began. Papaw painted my Nana and Papaw Cureton's house inside and out. Uncle Buddy and I got to help paint the kitchen cabinets. Papaw did odd jobs for different people to help buy groceries and the things we needed.

        Every week we would spend a day or two in Greeneville, Knoxville or Morristown. We would sit in the car, play at a park or window shop while Papaw dropped off resumes and went to interviews.

        My Great-Aunt Betty Jo loved to listen to the local radio station. She was really good at the trivia questions they would ask. She would call in and answer and win prizes. That summer they gave away tickets to the Dollywood Summer Concert Series. Although she could only win every 30 days, someone we knew or were related to won almost every set of tickets they gave away, every week, that summer. Not one of us ever called in. Whoever's name won would pick up the tickets or send Papaw to get them. We went to Dollywood almost every week that summer with those tickets.

        We didn't get new things that summer and only necessities were purchased. I'm pretty positive that my Nana bought our back to school clothes. It was that summer that I realized just how much my Mom and Dad, your Nana and Papaw had sacrificed over the years for our family; the sacrifice for Nana to stay home with Uncle Buddy and I when we were little, the sacrifice to pay for piano lessons, doctor bills and birthday parties to name a few.  

        I knew we didn't have a lot of money growing up. I knew that I wasn't any different that almost of all of the other kids in my class financially, but I knew that I was different. My parents and grandparents made sure I never needed anything. Sometimes I didn't get my wants, but I always had everything I needed. That summer it all became clear. It was the happiest I had ever seen Papaw and Nana even with the financial stress and it was an awesome summer of fun and helping others.

        Your Nana doesn't speak to groups of people. She was asked several times, after that summer and Papaw received a new job, to tell her story of how and why she continued to tithe, give their 10% to God. She shared how she knew that if she gave God what was His, He would bless us. Oh how the blessings came. 

       Nana and Papaw won't say that was their favorite summer but I bet they will say it was one of their favorites. 


Monday, October 5, 2015

Earliest Childhood Memory--Day 2

     I was going to tell you about my earliest childhood memory. I don't really remember what it was though. Nana and Papaw are really good at sharing memories, slides and pictures. I need to visit them so I have some pictures to post. But that's the reason I don't know if I truly remember  as far back as I think I do.
     They tell us about our first trip to Walt Disney World. I was two and Uncle Buddy was in Nana's belly. They have slides of me kissing Pooh Bear, but I don't remember it. 

     I do remember singing Away in a Manager during the church Christmas Cantata when I was four. Kristy was baby Jesus and Mike and Starlene were Mary and Joseph. She cried the whole time I sang. I remember thinking if I touched her she would stop crying, but instead I almost knocked her and the manger off the stage. At least, that's how I remember it. 

     I remember going to the Woodzo Drive-in with my best friend and cousin Suzanne to watch E.T. in 1982. Your Papaw would fill brown paper grocery bags full of homemade popcorn. We would take a cooler of ice and two liter drinks. The little speaker detached from the pole and hooked onto the window of the car. I'm not sure how many times we saw E.T. at the Woodzo but it was several. Over the years, we saw several different movies there. Unfortunately, it closed while I was in college. There are still several drive-ins in East Tennessee. Taking you all is on my bucket list.

     I remember during a solar eclipse standing at the front door. Nana kept repeating, 
           "Do not look at the sun. Do you hear me? You will go blind."
     Guess what? All I wanted to do was prove her wrong. She wouldn't let us out the door though so one of these days I'll find out if it's true. 

     In kindergarten we had a wooden boat in our classroom. Two people could sit on each end and rock. One day a mouse ran across the room and everyone outside the boat had a fit.

      I also received my first, but not last, at school spanking in kindergarten. The way I remember it, Mrs. Weller, had told us to leave the cafeteria in order. If we had a tray, we were to go to the tray return, otherwise, dump our trash and line up on the wall outside the cafeteria. The most important part was that we were to line up in the order we walked out of the cafeteria. 
     I lined up in order, Tim did not. Tim will probably still declare that he was in order, but I gracefully placed my metal Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox into the side of Tim's head. Tim went to the nurse and I went to the bathroom for three licks with Mrs. Weller's paddle. Of course, in true what you get at school you get at home fashion, I also received three spankings with the belt when Papaw got home from work. 

     I remember my Great-Grandmother and Great-Grandfather Reece. They lived in Del Rio. They were complete opposites in size. She was very short. I'm not sure she was even five feet and round. He was six foot something and skinny. But they were a hoot. 

    Mattie's middle name was my Grandmother Brook's maiden name. She is your Papaw Gary's Mom. She was sick most of Papaw's life. She raised him for several years as a single mother. When I was in sixth grade, I think's when it was, she was 60 and dying. On Christmas Eve, Papaw worked it out for us to visit her in the hospital. The nurses disappeared as we came down the hallway. We weren't old enough to go back to her room. Our Cousin Phyllis, worked at T.J. Maxx then. Mamaw and Papaw had given her money to buy Christmas presents. I have no idea what anyone else received, but I got the best present ever. A denim skirt and a salmon colored sweatshirt, that slid off one shoulder just a smidgen. It became my favorite outfit, because it was from Mamaw, Phyllis had picked it out and no one else at school would have one. 

     Mamaw passed away on New Year's Eve at home. We had sat with her for a while and then Papaw Brooks told Daddy to take us home and shoot fireworks. It wasn't long after we got home that he called to tell us she had closed her eyes and took a breath and went to sleep. She was gone. 

     She was overprotective, that's where your Papaw gets it from, (love you Daddy). Yes, I wore that Christmas outfit for her funeral, house shoe and all. Uncle Buddy stepped on my toe the morning of her funeral and broke it. It was swollen and crooked. 

     I wish you could have met my grandparents. I'll tell you more about them another day. I could go on for days with stories. But these will have to do for today. 

     If you are reading this and have a memory you would like to share, whether I'm in it or not, please share!