Traditions, Where the Heart Is

Because It’s Summer

I love summer. Truly, I don’t hate any season since moving home from Colorado, but summer and spring still reign as my favorites. Longer days, warmer nights, swimming, fishing, barbecues, 4th of July… summer is just hard to hate.

Though today is the summer solstice and technically the first official summer day, to me the first day of summer will never be a date on a calendar. No, I mark summer by the feel of the air, the warmth of the sun, the colors of the world, the first frog that chirps and the first lightning bug I see flash.

Those mark the days of summer.

One thing that I have never missed out on during a Missouri summer was catching lightning bugs. It has always been a summer tradition of mine whether solo, with family or friends. I must admit that the latter two are much more fun as I sit here remembering my 20 year old self with my best friend darting about the yard one June evening.

Past my elementary years, the game has always been catch and release… immediate release. However, I remember my younger years keeping the jar full of blinking lights next to my bed as I slept; what a perfect country night light. The next morning I would let them loose on the front porch and watch them skitter away to enjoy them again that evening.

Those were in the days without tablets or smart phones and my parents managed to keep me entertained with all sorts of things on the farm. There aren’t many memories I have indoors during nice days back then and I could hardly even be kept inside during thunderstorms. I only hope living on the farm can afford our children a similar type of childhood.

I will teach our own children the art of catching lightning bugs… because it really is an art. The only equipment needed are hands, a jar, some grass to put in the jar and a lid with holes punched in the top. The sensitivity required comes with the actual catching of the bugs.

You must have delicate hands to successfully capture a lightning bug without crushing its delicate body. The flashing parts are especially tender and require gentle handling. Thus, cupped hands with quick, but delicate, sweeping motions are best.

Raking your fingers tends to capture a lightning bug between the fingers, resulting in a squished bug. Clapping your hands together too quickly can also result in the same fate. This makes it all the more tricky when trying to capture these insects, but results in great memories of mason jars flashing in the dark.

I hope to watch our children from a front porch swing for many years to come as they dart back and forth across the yard. And I very much so hope that this inspired you to start catching lightning bugs as one of your own summer traditions.

Family, Traditions, Where the Heart Is

For the Finnicky Father

I don’t know about anyone else… but Father’s Day around this joint is the most difficult gift giving event. I don’t know if it is that men have the tendency just to go ahead and buy what they want, or if they are just bad about asking for things they need or want.

Take my own father for instance, he has finally made a wish list on a couple websites, but most of them are bullets. Granted, he really wants them, but he does not need them nor does he use them often-maybe once or twice a year. He is also notorious for leaving things in packages for years after receiving them before finally deciding he’d like to use it.

Personally, I like to give gifts that will be used or appreciated often. Not to mention he rarely gets excited over gifts, particularly ones that he has had on a wish list. Since I also like to surprise people with gifts, this doesn’t really work for me either.

My father-in-law is just as difficult to buy for. No wishlists, no hints, no direct answers when asked what he wants (except homemade foods). He on the other hand, does act happy when receiving gifts and will open them immediately. We also know when we’ve hit the jack-pot on a gift because he will use it over and over again.

So what do I do to shop for them? I pay attention. VERY close attention.

My father recently purchased a new boat and has been like a little kid in a candy store getting it ready for fishing. Purchasing new equipment, putting together snack boxes and a first aid kit, and adding fancy new features to it each week (it has 2 fish finders folks… 2). So, that inspired my Father’s Day for him.

For him, we purchased:

Remember how I mentioned that my father-in-law is pretty good at letting us know in one way or another if he really likes a gift? Well one of the things he loved was moisture-wicking T-shirts. Before we got him more was literally wearing the same one so often that my mother-in-law would have to sneak it into the wash.

However, we got them for him to use at work on the back hoe and he has decided that they are fantastic to sleep in. In an attempt to get him something else to use on the back hoe, we are going to try moisture wicking shorts this time. He also enjoys TV, Tom Selleck and blue grass.

Thus, we got him:

I hope this helped you all with your Father’s Day needs. Those danged fathers are difficult to buy for!

A Piece of Work, Care Packages, Gifts, Traditions, Where the Heart Is

BBQ in a Box

For those of you who don’t know, my husband is an Air Force Veteran. Since this is a recent development, most of our relationship has been that as an active duty military couple. Of Eliott’s 9 years in, we were dating, engaged or married for 5 years, and friends the prior 4. Thus, I got really good at care packages. And I mean REAL good folks..

I thought I’d put my talent to good use and share some of my boxes with you all. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy having my husband home all the time, but why let the gift go to waste, right? As Memorial Day is coming up this weekend, I thought it would be appropriate if the first box I shared with you was my “BBQ in a Box.”

On my husband’s deployment to Africa, they would barbecue about once a month. The chow hall was nice enough to provide the meat and a few of the guys, including my husband, would fire up the grill (or whatever open flame it was they used). After this seemed to be an established trend, I decided to send my husband some extra equipment since there seemed to be a shortage of certain items.

Thus the “BBQ in a Box” was born.

All us military folks know that a good care package needs decoration. So we’ll get into that first. I’m sure that I could have been more extreme with my decor, but I chose to go with simple black construction paper background and stick on letters “Barbecue Master.” For that little extra something I added some red and orange glitter, for the embers if you will.

The contents of the box were as follows:

Clorox Disinfecting Wipes (sometimes they were without hot water to wash with)

Wet Ones

-BBQ Spatula

-BBQ Tongs

-BBQ Basting Brush

-BBQ Meat Fork

-Favorite BBQ seasonings

McCormick Grill Mates Brown Sugar Bourbon

McCormick Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple

McCormick Grill Mates Sweet and Smoky Rub

-Grill Mit

-Grill Apron

Technically, BBQ sauces are not an item you should mail, as they are considered liquids and those are not allowed with USPS. I did send my husband some shave cream one time, not thinking about it being in an aerosol can and technically a liquid. That particular package was confiscated.

*Make sure you check the rules and regulations of your postal service and of the country your military personnel is deployed in before mailing your package.*

Family, Popular, Traditions, Where the Heart Is

The Perfect Wedding

I always wanted a simple, outdoor, country wedding. I’d dreamed of it, the colors, the dress and, of course, the man standing at the end of the aisle for years. However, after my husband and I had been dating a while, I quickly realized that he had always dreamed of a church wedding. At first I was a little disheartened, but I have always held the opinion that the wedding is as much the groom’s as it is the bride’s. So I decided to search the beautiful world Pinterest for “Church Weddings.” There, I quickly warmed to the idea of the simple, undecorated, white churches as I scrolled the pages.

We are members of a small section of the Christian denomination known as “Missionary Baptist” and have been all my life. If you aren’t familiar with us, we have loud preachers, song services that could rattle window panes, and (conveniently) little white churches dotted all over the countryside. Note that I said “countryside”… I could still have my country wedding! My mother and I drove and drove looking at those churches in our area. She would send me pictures while I was away, and if I liked the outer appearance, we would attend church there the following Sunday to see the inside.

Photo By: Devon Garton Photography

When I finally found a church I loved, undecorated, it had something a little extra special; honestly, I don’t know why it wasn’t one of the first I chose to look at. Goodson Missionary Baptist church had been my grandfather’s home church for years. In fact, his photo was still up on the bulletin board near the church doors decorated with pictures of military men they prayed for throughout World War II. What wonderful symbolism for my grandparents (who’d long since passed) attending one of the greatest days of my life. I still get goose bumps thinking about it exactly 3 years later today

Photo By: Devon Garton Photography

What about my wedding dream, you ask? We had a simple, outdoor, country reception. We compromised. His dream became mine and mine became his until this wedding became OURS. OUR wedding was catered to US; a simple, inexpensive wedding with all the people we loved most invited. It wasn’t traditional to a T, but we enjoyed ourselves, had fun and look back on it with warm hearts.

Photo By: Devon Garton Photography

Sometimes the things that we always thought we wanted, end up not being the things we need or the things that end up being the most amazing. Compromising can result in one of the greatest days of your life. Not to mention that it is an awesome way to start off marriage and sets the tone for the relationship. My husband’s wish for his wedding day and my wish for mine combined to make something awesome that day. It symbolically marked the beginning of an official “Us.” The perfect wedding results in joining two hearts in love and all their ideas, hopes and dreams. And I’ll tell you what, that church wedding was perfect.