The Trip

For the first time in over two years, we loaded the van and made the long drive to Georgia to visit our family over the week surrounding Thanksgiving. That drive had grown into a big nightmare in our minds, and we were less than eager to attempt it. But, my sister Abby convinced us that it was time. Last year, I don’t remember what we did for Thanksgiving, but I know that we celebrated alone. The year before, Sarah and I cooked a big Thanksgiving meal for our two families. Something told me that this year was a good one to leave town and surround ourselves with people we love. The drive was surprisingly painless both ways, and I am so glad that we went.

I am going to squeeze all of my trip photos into this one post and I’ll throw some notes in here and there. For those of you who don’t care for reptiles, there are some photos towards the end of the post featuring them. In fact, photo number 40 has a snake in it. It’s a beautiful snake though, and you can’t see it’s face. I figure the snake warning system would be kind of cumbersome for this post (40 *s!) given that I am setting a record for number of photos in one post I do believe.

Abby scores points for wearing the little shawl that I knit her.

My stepdad built this crazy 3-D printer from a kit.  I should have taken a photo of one of the finished objects.  Very cool.

Jonny and I took our kids to Athens, Georgia for an afternoon.  We moved away over twelve years ago, but in many ways it still felt like home.  Jonny used to work at Memorial Park which contains Bear Hollow Zoo.  We spent a lot of time there during our college years, and loved getting to share the zoo with our kids.

All of the wildlife in the zoo is non-releasable.  This hawk is recovering from a wing injury.

Jonny and I lived in this apartment for about four years.  We got married while living there and it was Seth’s first home as well.  It was my first home away from my parents’ house.  I still have dreams about it, that we still live there.

I know that our kids weren’t as excited as we were about seeing all these places that are special to us.  Jonny and I laughed at ourselves as we shouted things like, “Seth look!  There’s the hospital you were born in!  Do you want to stop and get a picture next to the sign?”  (eye roll.)

But, when we noticed that the bushes I planted on the side of the apartment are still there (though pruned into awful shapes) Beatrix shouted, “That’s amazing!”  Last week, Keats pulled some dry twigs and leaves from his pocket and told me he had grabbed them off those same bushes.  I think they understood our excitement, after all.  They have their own special places, so of course they did.


Right outside the door of our apartment there was a forest; there is still a forest.  We walked through those woods to a hidden lake hundreds of times.  When Seth was about Job’s age, I carried him on my back in a bulky metal framed backpack.  During the months that Jonny and I lived apart, him in Virginia looking for a place for us to live, me waiting in Georgia, I made that walk carrying Seth every single day.  I had routines in place to break up the monotony.  Those woods were so important to me.  So of course, we had to take our kids back to see the lake.

There’s a group of large rocks next to the water, always a favorite place to sit.

We have a photograph similar to this one of me holding a one year old Seth, sitting on those rocks.  I can’t quite explain the feeling of being back there, Seth fourteen years old now.

(Jonny’s parents’ dogs with Trudy, who doesn’t usually care to play with other dogs.)


Mr. Greg is a friend of my mom’s.  She has this swamp of sorts in her backyard and spends a lot of time there.  It’s her favorite place.  Mr. Greg helps her identify creatures and such and shares a love for wild animals, especially reptiles.  My mom thought that it would be fun to invite Mr. Greg to come to her house and share some of his reptiles with all the grandkids.  It was great fun, though I have to say that Jonny and I were more nervous than we expected to be with all those critters!  And while the third photo down from this spot contains a snake, I spared you from seeing the absolutely enormous python that I photographed lying across all of the kids’ laps (except Gabe’s!  He doesn’t care for snakes, and sat about a foot away from the tail of the python which was close enough for him.)  If you are in the Atlanta area, I highly recommend Mr. Greg’s Reptile Roadshow. I was very impressed with his professionalism, knowledge, and the way he interacted with the children.

I don’t know what Silas is looking at, but he looks hilarious!

georgia trip-7218

Our boys spent most of their last day in Georgia in the swamp with my mom.  They all got muddy, but my mom was the muddiest, head to toe!

Okay, now just for fun…  What do you think we brought home from Georgia with us?  I’ll tell you next week.

*OUR* Big Ol’ Oak

I wrote these words in August of 2010:

We’ve read that a white oak tree spends two hundred years growing, two hundred living, and two hundred dying.  Branch by branch, ours is dying. 
Over the years I have recorded my children sitting in front of this mighty white oak tree many times.  While my children are young and constantly growing, our Big Ol’ Oak saw it’s youth hundreds of years ago, long before we were born.  So now, as we thrive, it declines.  It seems that each time we visit, another branch has fallen to the forest floor. Nevertheless, the Big Ol’ Oak it will always be; champion tree in our neck of the woods.
I’m not sure that I can remember even the year that marked the first time Seth and Keats came racing in the house shouting that they had discovered an enormous tree in the forest behind our house.  I know they begged me to hike to it with them, but I am not sure if I went that day, the following week, or even the next month.  I am not sure how much time passed before I sat the boys down for a picture with “their” tree.

And though we’ve spoken of this ancient white oak tree as if it were ours for many years, it has officially belonged to three others during the time we have lived in our house.  The acreage it lives on has passed from landowner, to developer, and finally a couple years ago, to a builder.  We live in an expensive part of the country, and we never could afford to buy the land ourselves.  Early this year, Jonny sent the builder an email, asking what his plans were for the lot on which our tree resides.  He informed us that he would be building a house there this year.  Though our tree wasn’t directly threatened, our dreams of ever truly calling it ours would end.  It may sound silly, but I cried.  Jonny wrote and asked the builder if he might consider selling the lot to us instead, and he agreed to meet us on the land to discuss the possibility.

Last week, after all those years of hoping and waiting, and one mama’s pleas to a builder, not to build a house on the four acre lot next to us, but instead to sell it to us at no profit to himself, the papers were signed and the Big Ol’ Oak is officially ours.

We have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, including four acres of forest, and one dear old white oak tree.



(early spring 2007)

Big old oak 2009

(summer 2010)