Category Archives: Personal Stuff

Date Night August 6, 2011

Well, we have been doing our date nights pretty regularly and I am enjoying the time we are spending together. Last week, it was a family event as it was my birthday. This week, just Daniel and I went out. We grabbed a bite to eat at Subway, then went to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
I loved Planet of the Apes when I was a kid. And who can forget Charlton Heston (“Get your hands off me, you filthy ape!”) And Roddy McDowell made an awesome ape scientist! And then the powerful moment at the end, when we realize that the astronauts have landed on a future earth…knock your socks off moment!
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They did a remake of Planet of the Apes in 2001. The less said about that the better…
Today, we went to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes. After all, we need to know how we got to that ending moment in the 1968 version (yes, I know there were four other movies that helped explain that, but let’s forget that for now, okay). This movie is fantastic! The visual presentation is amazing, the story-line believable and interesting and we learn that even when we are trying to do something good, not so good consequences can result. Be sure to be on the lookout for Tom Felton. Be aware of type-casting Tom, could be bad for your career! You can watch this movie without having watched any other Planet of the Apes movies, but if you have seen the old ones…there will be some especially interesting tidbits/moments for you! I absolutely cannot wait to see the next one!
I highly recommend this movie and I give it 5 bananas!
We ended our night with a visit to Sweet Frog – now that is a hopping and yummy place! Ran into Todd and Lily Foster while we were there and saw the Harkins family leaving…

Awesome Birthday!

I had an awesome birthday yesterday!
It began with a couple of hours at Blue Ridge Community Church. I arrived in time to pray with the Cafe staff. I got all kinds of wonderful birthday hugs and greetings and I was even sung too (but escaped the dreaded birthday spanking!). After a great service, the kids and I headed home.
We went to Choice Hibachi Buffet for lunch (all the sushi you can eat…and good stuff!) Then we went to see Cowboys and Aliens. It was good. A much more serious movie that I had anticipated and an unusual setting for alien invasion!
We came home and watched Haven from Friday night. I love Haven! A great show! Then we watched The Twilight Zone the Movie – there were so many actors in there that I have since seen in other things and they all looked like such kids in this movie! Then Daniel, Jack, Katrina and I played Settlers of Catan. Jack won of course!
I couldn’t have asked for a better day!

45 Years Young and Counting My Blessings

45 years ago today at 9:17 p.m., I opened my eyes and said, “Hello, world! Gee, it sure is bright out here!” Onlookers thought I was just saying ‘ waahhh!’ but that is because they weren’t smart enough to understand newborn baby talk:) It is hard to believe that I am closing in on the 1/2 century mark. In some ways, I still feel like a ‘twenty-something.’
I feel a little retrospective today. I have so much to be thankful for. Life has had its ups and downs, but overall, I consider myself to be very blessed. So here I am to count my blessings!
1. I am the child of a loving, living God. What can possibly be better than that?! He is forgiving, loving, and has provided directions for me to grow into a better, more complete person.
2. I am grateful to be alive. My dad’s side of my family is known for longevity. My mom’s father and grandfather and great-grandfather all died in their early 40’s. My mom and I have both passed that milestone in good health.
3. My parents are both alive and are healthy. Though they didn’t remain together, they are both now in happy marriages. I am glad.
4. I am blessed to have spent the last 21 years with my wonderful husband. It hasn’t always been easy for either of us. But we have weathered the storms, grown stronger through them and our love keeps evolving into something more and more beautiful and permanent. He is my knight in shining armor, my shoulder to cry on, my personal cheering squad, my comedian, and the love of my life. I look forward to our further adventures.
5. I have four wonderful, amazing children:
Bruce: who keeps me on my toes by encouraging me to think outside of the box. Who never lets a Mother’s Day or birthday pass without a call. Who calls sometimes just to chat. Who is always ready to help when I have a cooking question and who is always up for watching a movie at midnight.
Charles: who always makes me smile. Who has loved me even when I didn’t deserve it. Who is trying to figure out his way in this crazy world. Who doesn’t take himself too seriously. Who is always ready to have some fun, play a game or act a little crazy! Who will climb trees, crawl into the crawl space, and who watches out for damsels in distress.
Jack: who loves the Lord. Who will watch SciFy with me at any time. Who is so good with younger children. Who is respected and loved by his peers. Who isn’t afraid to be vulnerable. Who doesn’t kill his sister when she plucks his last nerve. Who has a serving heart. Who is stretching his wings as a leader and who gently reminds me when I might want a better choice of words.
Katrina: who is my only daughter. Who sometimes drives me to distraction, but never ceases to amaze me with her acts of kindness for me and others around her. Who talks openly to me about what she is thinking and what is going on with her (I deeply treasure this). Who loves to help me and help others around her. Who is creative, ambitious and leaves sweet surprises in my lunchbox.

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Mouse Infestation

So, a few weeks ago, we saw a mouse scurry through the house…then there were signs… chewed up Qtips under the bathroom sink, dropping under the stove… so I looked at Sam’s for mouse traps. But, alas they don’t carry them and the mouse got a reprieve of a week (I only shop one day a week as one effort to conserve gas).
Then I picked up glue traps. I shy away from the snapping traps for two reasons. 1) I have had many instances where the mouse triggers the trap and doesn’t get caught or eats the food and doesn’t even trigger the trap and 2) the regular old mouse trap can be a bit messy.
The first night I got one mouse. Success! But then no more. I thought we only had one mouse, but then we saw one scurrying across the floor. I checked the other glue traps I had set down and couldn’t believe my eyes…they had mouse footprint on them! Some of them had so many, it looked like the mouse had been doing the cha cha on them!!!!
So, Tuesday, on my way home from work, I stopped at Food Lion to pick up the good old fashioned mousetrap. And guess what! Food Lion only sold decon and glue traps!!!!!! Wednesday Katrina and I were in town and we got the old-fashioned mouse traps from Wal-mart. Last night, I caught three more mice!!!!! They were all smaller than the first, so I think it was a mom and her children. Hopefully this will be the end of the problem.
I hate killing anything, but I have had clothes ruined and then there are the germs from mice. So, mice…you are on notice. Live in the woods all you want, I am happy to have you there, but please, please, please…stay out of my house!!!

I’m Back……

Well, I have been hankering to write on my blog again. The problem has been that I have two working blogs and I am not one of those people that can carry on multiple blogs. I like all of my thoughts in one place. On top of that now that I am back to work, life has been busy and I haven’t really had the time to write.
But life has been kind of calm the last week and a half and I decided to see if I could bring all of my articles from Homeschool Blogger over here to this blog. And guess what!? I could! It was easy peasy!
So now I am planning to blog again on a regular basis. Whatever comes to mind or tickles my fancy. If you decide to drop by, be sure to say hi:)

A Letter from a Grateful Daughter

Dear Heavenly Father,
I am a weak, wounded, selfish, irritating, nagging, worrying, annoying, addicted, judgmental, flawed, and sinful human being. I am in awe that You love me even so. I am flabbergasted that even when I am disobedient, fall away, try to run things my own way and don’t talk to or listen to You for days, weeks, or months on end that You still love me; that You are still here….waiting.
When I think of the sacrifice You made of your son/self, I find myself unable to comprehend. I couldn’t sacrifice my own children that way.
Thank you, God. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for being there for me even when I wasn’t reaching out to you or looking up. Thank you for so many wonderful people you have placed in my life: Virginia, Randy, Mary, Tess, Sheryl, Tracy, Amy, Kristin, and Emily. And that’s just to name a few. Thank you for the ones you put into my life whose Christian influence I didn’t even recognize.
Thank you for the traumas and the difficult times. These things have made me turn more to you. They have made me stronger. They have given me experiences so that I may help others.
Thank you for being here, for always listening to my heart, even when my mouth is closed and my eyes are looking everywhere but up, and my will is mine, not yours. Thank you for loving me, for wanting me to walk in fellowship with You.
Thank you for molding me into a better person, for filling my life with love, health, and so many friends and so much beauty. Thank you for Your Word to guide me and for imparting wisdom to others so that I can read their insights, hear their insights and understand You and Your plans/will for me better.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, from every nook and cranny of my soul. You have given me so much, Lord, that I hesitate to ask for more.
Help me to be a beacon to others. Let them see You when they look at me. Help me to still my busy mind, to listen to You, to follow You, to trust You completely. Give me courage when needed. Fill my mouth with the words You want me to say, fill me with the love that only You possess. Fill me with peace, joy, and understanding. Make my marriage stronger. Make me a better parent, daughter and friend. Continue to place wonderful people in my life and continue to mold and shape me to Your purpose.
I love You.
Your daughter,
Melissa

Things Done in 2010

Last year I made a list of 100 things I would like to do before I die. I published it on December 31, 2008. In the last year I have accomplished some things. I would like to have accomplished more, but I hit a couple of biggies! And there are wonderful things we did this last year that weren’t on my list.

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  1. Visit Hawaii
  2. Visit the Pyramids
  3. Visit Greece
  4. Visit Australia – Completed September 2009
  5. Visit Disney World
  6. Visit The British Isles
  7. Visit Germany
  8. Visit Switzerland
  9. Take a cruise to Alaska
  10. Take a cruise on a paddleboat
  11. Spend a romantic weekend at The Poconos with Daniel
  12. Take some art classes
  13. Learn how to play the piano
  14. Exercise regularly
  15. Visit the Statue of Liberty
  16. Take a train trip across the country.
  17. Learn how to quilt
  18. Play with my grandchildren (when I have them)
  19. Go on a camping trip
  20. See a play on Broadway
  21. Go on a safari
  22. Learn how to snorkle – Completed September 2009
  23. Play a marathon game of monopoly
  24. Go skinny dipping
  25. Meet a President of the United States
  26. Ride in a gondola in Venice
  27. See a total eclipse
  28. Get a lottery ticket that wins more than $50
  29. Visit Yellowstone
  30. Spend a night in a museum
  31. Volunteer at the library
  32. Go to a Pow-Wow
  33. Become a certified Paralegal
  34. Go Deep Sea fishing
  35. Participate in an archaeology dig
  36. Go to space camp
  37. Ride through the snow in a horse drawn sleigh
  38. Hit a Jackpot in Vegas
  39. See a ghost
  40. Spend a weekend on a sail boat
  41. Buy a stranger a meal at a restaurant
  42. Spend a week on a houseboat
  43. Walk on a beach by moonlight
  44. Get a makeover and have a photoshoot
  45. Have my portrait painted
  46. Spend a week at a secluded beach
  47. Find a hidden treasure
  48. Drive a Lambroghini
  49. Spend a winter weekend at a ski resort
  50. Attend a grand ball
  51. Visit the White House
  52. Go to a drive-in theater with my kids
  53. Act in a play
  54. Visit the Aquarium in Atlanta
  55. Live in a Victorian House
  56. Take a ballroom dance class
  57. Join a book discussion group
  58. Serve at a soup kitchen – Completed April 2009
  59. Learn how to Square Dance
  60. Whale Watching
  61. Get flowers for no reason
  62. Eat a meal prepared by a world class chef
  63. Build a snow fort with my kids
  64. Ride on a motorcycle
  65. Spend a week working in a planetarium
  66. Have a white Christmas
  67. Fly in a helicopter
  68. Meet Johnny Depp
  69. Sing a solo in front of an audience
  70. Renew my wedding vows
  71. Eat a dish that involves truffles (you know the really expensive truffles) – Completed September 2009
  72. Purchase and restore a 1975 Monte Carlo
  73. Purchase and restore a 1984 Monte Carlo SS
  74. Learn to play handbells
  75. See the Changing of the Guards in London
  76. See the Northern Lights
  77. Visit Antarctica
  78. Visit islands in the Carribbean
  79. Be Queen for a day – not with the decisions, but with the trappings
  80. Make a really good snowman – Completed March 2, 2009 12 inches of snow storm
  81. Fly in a private jet
  82. Go to Oktoberfest in Germany
  83. Go to a big New Year’s Eve Party
  84. Go to an adult Halloween party
  85. Visit the White House
  86. Live in a penthouse suite for a week
  87. Ride first class on a trip overseas
  88. Save someone’s life
  89. Sit on a jury
  90. Visit Hershey, PA
  91. Meet Stephen King
  92. Go to a mystery dinner theater
  93. Go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras
  94. Visit a Presidential library
  95. Go to a Christmas Eve Midnight Mass
  96. Spend a night in a haunted house
  97. Visit the Ozarks
  98. Take a year travel trip across the U.S. in a RV
  99. Have a surprise birthday party
  100. Publish a book

An Open Christmas Newsletter to our Friends and Family

The Markham Family Christmas Newsletter – December 2010
We hope that as 2010 comes to a close our letter finds you happy and well. We are personally on an upswing after a year of lows.
We lost Tess and Johnny in 2010. While Johnny’s passing was not a surprise due to his declining health in recent months, if you had told us last Christmas that we would be celebrating this Christmas without Tess, we would not have believed you. We are blessed that she spent last Thanksgiving here with us. By the end of December we learned that she had an inoperable tumor. She went through strenuous chemotherapy in January which almost took her from us then. We made a rush trip to Florida and God was gracious enough to let us keep her with us for a couple of more months. She passed away the end of March in her home with Johnny by her side, which was her wish. Without Tess by his side, Johnny’s health steadily worsened and he passed away in July.
Tess was truly one of God’s angels. She left behind a legacy of people who were better for having known her. She taught us all the true value of the words “if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all.” She spent her life reaching out to others in kindness and love. She always was ready to help in any situation. God, family and friends were her life.
Johnny was quite a character. He nourished a love of maps in Jack. He was always there to give advice when we needed it (whether we wanted it or not). He knew so much about history and was always happy to share stories of his adventures. And we shared his love of travel which gave us endless things to talk about. He could always recommend some place to visit no matter where we were going in the U.S.
As we entered this holiday season with Thanksgiving, there is an emptiness we all feel due to the absence of our loved ones. As I look around our home and think of decorating for Christmas, I see gifts Tess has given us over the years. I think about times we shared with Tess and Johnny: campfires, meals at our home, endless games of rummy, dominoes and kings in the corner, Tess’s child-like excitement when it was time to come for a visit. These memories will keep Tess and Johnny alive as long as there are those of us who live to remember them. Their behaviors which wore off on the rest of us will be a lasting legacy, passed down from generation to generation.
Daniel worked for two months in North Carolina. But the rest of the year he has spent working on building up his own business of internet sales and he is working on an application that would be a revolutionary addition to a Kindle or IPAD. He spends pretty much 7 days a week, 10 hours a day working on one idea after the other. He is an idea machine and his ideas and hard work are beginning to pay off. Losing his mom and Johnny this year drove him to be buried even deeper in his work.
Lots of changes have been occurring as we make ‘sacrifices’ as we work towards our goal of financial independence. Daniel sold his beloved 1983 Scrambler in the Spring to bring in additional income and then we sold our 5 acres of land that Daniel’s office has been in since 1996 this past week. That will give us more operating capital, and less outlay. It does mean changes here in the house. The kids’ playroom will revert to Daniel’s office. We are going to put their toys out in the building along with whatever comes down from the office. Some games and such will come into the den…basically a lot of restructuring is on the horizon. And of course during the busiest month of the year, but that keeps it interesting
In addition, I have gone back to work. It is a bit of an adjustment after 14 years at home. I am working at J.Crew answering phones. The thing I like most about it is that I can work in the evenings and be home to homeschool and take the kids to things we are involved in during the day. A side effect is learning more about fashion (something of which I was woefully ignorant of).
Jack, Katrina and I have found a new church home. We are going to Blue Ridge Community Church. We really like it there. Jack has become very involved with the youth group at church and he is getting baptized on December 12th. He goes to weekly youth meetings and there have been pool parties and other gatherings. He has made a lot of new friends. Katrina loves going to Faith Girlz once a month which is a girls group for 2nd through 5th graders. She also auditioned for and was accepted by the AMPED team for this year (they perform during the Sunday service for the other 2nd through 5th graders). She loves performing! I was attending the Monday night women’s meeting, but had to stop when I went to work. I miss it, but there will be future opportunities. I am serving in the Common Grounds cafeteria on the Sundays that Katrina performs. It’s a lot of fun and I enjoy meeting new people.
Jack is President of the 4H Homeschool Clover Club this year and Katrina is the Recording Secretary again. We have been busy learning about the science of art (how you make paint, paper, and doing fiber arts crafts). We are going to be studying geology in the spring and are gearing up for our 3rd annual art show.
Katrina took beginning karate through a homeschool co-op this year and really enjoyed that. I don’t know if we will continue with the co-op in the spring. I am not as much of a superwoman as I think I have to have some time at home. Katrina also took part in a 2 week theater camp this past summer. She did a wonderful job in the lead role and it really lit up the acting bug in her. Our 4-H club served at the Hyland Heights Baptist Church Food pantry this past summer. Katrina and I enjoyed it so much, we have been going back each month to help on the 2nd Thursday. It’s a lot of fun, and we are glad to be part of a program that helps out so many people.
Jack volunteered at the Forest public library this past summer. He helped with the youngsters reading program and did other odds and ends to help the librarian. He earned a $15 dollar gift card to Barnes and Noble for putting in the most volunteer hours this summer. Now he is serving on the Forest Library teen advisory board.
Guess that’s about it.
Our family hopes that your family has a very happy holiday season. And we pray that 2011 is an even better year for you. If you happen to be in our neck of the woods, stop by for a visit! We would love to see you!
Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

Harry Potter Fever in Our House!

You know that the next Harry Potter movie is hours away when your children start running through the house brandishing wands and shouting ‘reparo’ and ‘accio_____’ We are so excited that my oldest is treating us to the midnight showing of Harry Potter tomorrow night!  So with Harry Potter glasses and Hogwart’s pin, we are ready to go!

The Three C’s: Co-op, Cook-out, and Chores

So, Saturday morning, the kids and I were up and early. We enjoyed the breakfast buffet at the Golden Corral, then we went to register with a local homeschool co-op. I wish now I had registered a couple of months ago. It turns out the perk of registering is that you get to be in the first group to sign up for the next semester’s classes. I arrived at 10 (when registration began) and there were already a dozen people in front of me and that didn’t even matter because 2 of the three classes that Katrina was interested in were already full! Dang it! But, we registered and we chose the classes because they told us that there are usually some who sign up and then things change over the summer. So the class we know Katrina will get into is Karate. We are hoping Guitar and Junior Acting will open up.
While I stood in line, the kids perused the book/curriculum sale. We were looking for Saxon Geometry in particular for Jack and Katrina was just looking. She found a book to read and Jack found a book called the Atlas of World History. The kid is a history buff. Daniel treated us to lunch from Papa John’s and I spent the afternoon cleaning dishes and baking brownies and making jigglers for the cook-out on Sunday.
Sunday morning, we were at church at 8:45. Enjoyed another good message. I really am loving Blue Ridge Community Church. I feel uplifted and enlightened every week. Then, we came home and I prepared baked beans, did a bunch of dishes and got things set up for the cook-out.
From about 1:30 until after midnight we entertained my Bruce, Ryan, Charles, Ashley, Therese, Joy, David, Jonathan, Dakota, Paul, and Faye. We had a good time eating good food, visiting, and playing games. Several of us played PIT and Settlers of Catan. The only downside for me was missing Tess. She normally is here this time of year and I missed having her help and just missed her presence.
We slept in on Monday and spent the day doing odds and ends (I had dishes and cleaning up to do from the cook-out). I took Jack and Katrina to a friend’s house for a cook-out and pool time. I took Daniel to pick up his rental car for the week and then he and I watched Crazy Heart. Very good movie. Jeff Bridges has a lot of talent and range!
Today, Daniel was back on the road to Raleigh. I was doing chores. I have done laundry, mowed, groomed the dogs, and put more tick powder and bedding in their dog houses. I have taken care of some odds and ends and took the kids to piano lessons. I have checked school work and prepared for tomorrow’s assignments. About 7 pm, I was ready to go to bed. Jack looked at me and said…but it’s only 7! I said, but I am tired!
When, oh when is someone going to learn to bottle the energy of a child and give it to adults??? Well, the hot tub is calling…