Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Never at a Loss for Words

I have often said, and don't judge me when I say this, that had John-Heath been born first, there would have been no Ren.  I would have been one and done.  Actually, we thought we were one and done with Ren but...SURPRISE!
To be fair, a lot of it, I'm sure, has to do with my age.  I am ten years older in experiencing everything with him than I had been with her.
 
He is all boy!  And keeps us on our toes.  But what a precious boy he is!
 
My children are like night and day. 
 
Where Ren was more independent as a child, almost a loner (yes, even at the ripe old age of three), John-Heath is a people person. 
 
Ren would plays for hours by herself if you let her.  She would take all her little action figures or dolls or even movie cases and line them up, just so, in a row.  John-Heath always wants an active participant or, at the very least, an audience when he plays. And there is nothing in a row in his room!  His action figures or army men or Legos are scattered to kingdom come!
 
Of course, both my children are tender hearted, albeit in their own ways. 
 
Ren is more reserved with her emotions and expresses them mostly in a private way and even tries her best to keep from putting herself in a position to become emotional.  She is the first to change the channel when a sad news story or a Feed the Children commercial comes on.  But she has secretly taken groceries to those in need.  And when she hurts...well she hurts hard, and just adds another layer of bricks to the fortress around her heart. 
 
John-Heath will watch, often cry, then launch into a hundred questions about whatever it was that he just witnessed.  I will never forget this time before he ever turned two when he was sitting playing with Ren's keyboard and the instrumental version of the song "My Heart Will Go On" from the movie Titanic, which was a pre-programmed selection, came on.  After only a few bars of the song had played, John and I heard him begin to wail.  When we turned to look at him he was just sitting there crying at the music. 
 
My children are also very different in their approach to meeting new people.
 
Ren is cautious, somewhat standoffish, and can actually appear to be a little conceited.  But once one gets to know her they will find she can be quite the talker and has a great, very dry sense of humor.  She is also a very loyal friend, if the loyalty is reciprocated. 
 
John-Heath never meets a stranger.  Once when we were all on our way somewhere and stopped to buy a watermelon from an older gentleman at a roadside stand, John-Heath busted a gut to get his shoes on in time to go with his dad to buy the melon.  With the car doors open, Ren and I heard him say excitedly, "I'm John-Heath!!!  What's your name?"  And then he and the man began to converse.   Ren asked at the moment, "Mom, was I ever that friendly?"  To which my reply was, "No, baby.  You weren't."  It was probably the longest watermelon purchase in history.
 
Sometimes, I think how much easier it would be if my children had each other's good qualities and neither of them had their "bad" qualities.  Then I think how boring that would be.  Who wants cookie-cutter kids?

Have a great one, friends.  I hope this hump day for you isn't as rainy as it is for us.
 



Oh, yeah...that funny "John-Heath-at-the-funeral-home" story...



The casket room at our local funeral home is located just behind the office area.  It is where all the
different samples of caskets, urns, and models of vaults are kept.  And it is a completely fascinating place for a nine-year-old.  Just before a recent funeral, the minister, who happens to be a good friend of our family, had retreated to this room for a few minutes to quietly reflect over what he planned to say during the service.  He soon notices he is not alone.  Walking around the room, taking careful note of everything he was seeing, was my son.  When he finished, he made his way over to the minister and began to speak to him...
 
"I've picked out the casket I want when I die.  (And then, looking at this man for just a moment) Wait a minute...why am I telling you this?  You won't be around then."

Monday, October 13, 2014

Umm...hello?

I feel like I am standing on the front porch of an old acquaintance quietly knocking on the door.   Knock, knock, knock.  Heyyyy...anyone home?  It's me.  Tyla.  I'm back for the moment.  (Insert awkward silence here)  No...Tyla.  You know, from Tire Swings and Fireflies.  That blog.  Tire Swings and Fire...Oh, nevermind. 

Yes, it has been that long. 

I would like to say that in my blogging absence I have gone on to do some extraordinary, blog-worthy things in my life...traveled the world, earned another degree, won the lottery...

In truth, I have, as of late, put out some mums and pumpkins, cooked supper (occasionally) and saw a movie or two.

I know, I know...I should slow it down and save some activities for my golden years.

Even though life is as simple as always, I wanted to check in and say hello, or as some in my neck of the woods would say, hidee! (here's a quick how-to-speak-southern tip:  make sure you stretch out that 'i' in hidee and make it a really long one)

And since I know you have been asking yourself on a regular basis these past several months, "Just what has that Tire Swing family been up to lately", here's an update.

Moi:  In addition to all those mums and pumpkins I've put out and all that cooking I've been doing, I have spent quite a lot of time trying to figure out my password for blogger.

John:  He continues to plug away as an assistant principal at the high school in our town.

Ren:  Ren is still a theatre major in her second year of college.  This past spring she asked her drama teacher if she could possibly be a stage manager for a show before she transfers to a larger school.  Well, he chose her to be the SM for this fall's play The Adventures of Nate the Great.  She had a great time doing this and learned a lot, but said she missed being in the play and, truth be told, she was a little envious of not being able to take that bow at the final curtain.  Ren is more of a front and center kinda girl, rather than behind the scenes.  If all goes to plan, she will finish up at her current school in the spring and will be off to finish her degree elsewhere.  She would love to attend a school in Chicago.  Of course, staying in state would be tons cheaper and her dad is hoping she will take this into consideration.  But, hey, like I told her, you never know when some long lost uncle could kill over and leave her a fortune.  Or, at least, enough to cover tuition at a pricey fine arts school.

John-Heath:  My baby boy is a fourth-grader this year.  Can you believe it?  He is also now taking karate and karate-chopping everything in the house, including his sister quite often.  And, of course, he is still ever so full of himself and not the least bit backward or shy.  I have a funny story I'll have to share with you in a day or two.  I'll give you a teaser...it took place at our local funeral home.

Well, that's about all the time I have today.  But I'll be back.  I promise.  Wellll..."promise" may be too strong a word.  I'm pretty sure I'll be back.  Okay, how 'bout this...I'm pretty sure that I am hopeful to be back soon. 


Monday, February 24, 2014

I'm Back. Maybe.

Do you know that joke you make when you see one of your good friends after not seeing them for a few days...something like "I'm Tyla and you arrre..."?  Well, that's how I feel I should begin this post after such a lonnnngggg break from the blogging world.  I'm Tyla.  Nice to meet you.

Fall through winter is such a favorite time of the year for me and I wrote all of 11 times, with NONE in December and January.  What's up with that?

Today's randomness will catch you up on a few things that have gone on with us here at TS&F.  Hopefully, I'll soon be able to regain some of my mojo and bounce back into some sort of regular writing rhythm.

Ren finished with all A's for her first semester of college which landed her on the Dean's List.  And because she entered college with A's in classes she took as part of a "dual enrollment" program, she had enough hours to be placed on the Honor Roll.  She has since received invitations to join the school's honor society and become a Presidential Ambassador.  We have all been thrilled and have done our fair share of humble bragging. What is it that Robbert Herrick wrote, "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may"?  Well, she has a math class this semester so the roses may be scarce.  Therefore, we celebrate while we may.

On the drama front, she is auditioning for a little horror film.  She made it through the first two cuts, I guess you could say, and is working on the third step in the process, where she has been given portions of the script to rehearse and video.  If she gets a role, it is scheduled to be shot over ten days or so this upcoming fall somewhere in the south.  She's keeping her fingers crossed but also not getting her hopes too high, as she knows her chosen field comes with much rejection.  Luckily, she takes rejection and criticism well.  Except when it comes from me, of course.

She also has two plays coming up at her school.  One is for her children's theatre class and will be this Friday night.  She will play a lizard and is looking forward to dressing in a morphsuit.  The other is a part in the Neil Simon play Plaza Suite and will be later this spring.

John-Heath is enjoying third grade quite a lot.  I can't say he loves it - given the choice between going to school or staying home to play on his iPad, he'd choose the life of a gamer - but he is having a good year.

Before Christmas, he invited a little girl to dinner and the movies.  It was the cutest thing.  He said he wanted to take her to see something girls would really like.  We saw Thor

Currently, he is on a Star Wars kick and has taken on the persona of Yoda, saying things like "fix me a snack, you must."

My niece Megan moved to Texas in December.  Her husband was offered a job that was really too good to pass up and so she is now a resident of Hallsville, Texas, which is basically in Longview, Texas from what I've been told.  We are looking at this as a positive thing, as it will provide a reason for road trips to the Lone Star State.  We just hope they don't stay too long.

John has kept busy attending a lot of basketball games.  A lot.  It is one of the few drawbacks to being an administrator.  With football, you have ten regular season games plus, hopefully, a few playoff games.  Basketball is a whole other monster.  I know the parents love watching their kids play, but I'm sure it gets very tiresome for them, too.

As for me, I have done nothing exciting since I last wrote.  I did make a new spinach dip for a Christmas get-together that was really good and I read a book that was also very good, but that's it.  Really.  It's quite sad, actually.  Could my life be any more bland?  Is it any wonder that parents begin to live vicariously through their children?

I hope you and yours have been well.  Talk to you again soon.  Hopefully, before another three months passes.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Ren's College Debut

I thought I would share with you some thoughts and pics about/of Ren's first college level performance as Sabrina in A Servant of Two Masters.  As most of my close friends know, she is a theatre major at a nearby community college.  Next year (or perhaps the year after) she'll be headed off to a four-year school to continue her education. 

Doing a scene during a dress rehearsal

I have to admit, her dad and I (both in stable, predictable jobs) cautioned her in her choice of study.  Why not do this? Or, perhaps, that?  There has never been any question in our minds of her talent and potential, only worry on how tough and competitive a field it is in which to "make it".  And, of course, the thought that so many jobs in the field would require her to move from our little corner of the world has certainly given us a momentary pause.  Finally, we just decided she should do what will make her happy - and pray she can earn a living doing it at the same time.



Ren and her "love interest" in the play - Truffaldino.  This kid has an amazing amount of talent and Ren absolutely adored playing opposite him. 



The picture from a dress rehearsal that accompanied an article in the county paper about the play.




This particular night was made for Ren when her high school drama teacher surprised her by attending.

Well, so far, there's no doubting the happiness factor of her choice.  She is just thrilled with every single aspect of her major.  From classes to weekly Delta Psi Omega (ΔΨΩ) meetings to auditioning for and then performing in her first college play (not to mention the "after-parties") she is one happy girl. 
 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

October in Review

Whaaattt???  We're already six days into November.  Yeah, well, when have I ever been on time with ANYTHING?

My plan - a plan...what a lofty idea - my plan was to do this little review here on Nov. 1.  Of course, things happen, life happens, I happen. 

But in the wee, small hours of this morning, the blogging gods smiled down and said, "Tyla, you need some time to blog."  And just like that I had a feverish son who had to stay home from school.  So, in between alternating the Tylenol and Motrin, disinfecting with Lysol, and changing out the dvds from Unstoppable to Glory to...well, whatever he wants to watch next, I have time, at last, to catch you guys up on what we've been doing.  I'm sure you've all been on pins and needles in anticipation of this.
 
 
Okay, these first four pics are from Ren's 18th birthday - which is at the end of September BUT couldn't be fully celebrated until the first of October because of absentee family members.  The first two pics are from her actual birthday evening - thrown in for good measure. 

with bestest buddies Austin and Caitlyn at the Cheesecake Factory in Green Hills

not cheesecake, but yummy just the same.  and cute

the second of the celebratory cakes

18 candles...and a little brother

Next up, it was time to celebrate my dad's birthday.  82 years young he was.


 
 
The third birthday celebrated within this two week period was my sister's.  She's ** years young.  I would never, ever divulge her age without her permission.  I'm a good little sister...born in 1970 when she was just shy of 17 years old.



Next up, we had hay mowing time on the farm, so I took advantage of the newly baled props and snapped a picture of John-Heath and neighbor girl Emma, who is also a classmate of his. 

 
 
I ask you, what October is complete without watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown? John-Heath talked Pa Gene and Ma-Ma into coming up one night and watching it with him.

 


We typically get together with my dad's side of the family on Easter and Christmas, but I've always thought it would be fun to have them up in the fall.  It was, and I think we may have begun a new tradition.  My cousin Tammy introduced us to the card game Fill or Bust.  What a blast!  I'm going to have to make sure I order this game.



the winners of Fill or Bust - momma and Tammy
(we're still waiting on the scoresheet to be officially checked, though)
 
 
Halloween Eve brought on some father-son pumpkin carving.
 


 
 
Finally, the day had arrived...HALLOWEEN! 
Wearing his soldier uniform to school.  Yes, it was his costume from last year, but as he explained it, there are new kids in his class this year that didn't get to see it then.
 
Going as the Mayhem guy from the All State commercials for trick-or-treating
 
 
The customary Halloween picture with the boys (aka Weston and Dylan)
 
Stopping by Aunt Deann's for some goodies.

Now, these final two pics are from a time-honored tradition among teens in the south.  Do people even roll in the north?  Am I being geographically insensitive in my thoughts about rolling?  I would be interested in hearing from some of my Yankee friends on this. 
 
Ren had been given a "heads up" by someone on the inside (or rather the close relative of someone on the inside) that this was going to happen.  But when Oct. 31 came and went, we thought we were in the clear.
 
I guess one shouldn't rule out the early morning hours of the weekend following Oct. 31.  Next year, I'm shipping Ren off to college.  Maybe if she's in Boston or Winston-Salem they'll travel there and just roll her dorm room or apartment.

 

 

Hope everyone's October was as wonderful as ours.  Now, on to Thanksgiving!



Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween from...




...Mr. Mayhem (a.k.a John-Heath) and all the rest of us here at Tire Swings and Fireflies.  Have a wonderfully FUN and HAPPY night!!!  It looks like those of us in Middle Tennessee are in for some stormy weather, so be safe, too!



P.S.  Yikes!  Why didn't you tell me I spelled a word wrong on my last post?  Some kind of friends you are!  lol  I would blame it on auto-correct if I could.  Sadly, it was just a brain malfunction on my part.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy All Hallows' Eve Eve


Ahhh...the night before the biggest day of the fall season for kids and kids-at-heart is upon us. 

Here's a little Night-Before-Halloween survey.

Tonight, you are...

A.  trying to find the last of some accessories for a costume

B.  furiously stuffing treat bags for the class party

C.  contemplating which kind of face to carve on the pumpkin & pleading with the husband to go ahead and do the carving tonight

D.  making sure you're stocked up on extra-strength Tylenol to combat the headache sure to follow living with and working among sugar-crazed children

E.  all of the above


Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Favorite Halloween Poem


This is a somewhat recycled post and I almost feel like a "re-gifter" in rehashing an already used topic, but I couldn't not share this poem again.  It's my favorite to read this time of the year.  I first heard it, read it and recited it more than a few years ago as a fourth grade student.  We did a lot of things that year I remember with fondness, but this poem and all the other Halloween activities are among some of my favorites.  So, thank you, Ms. Ann, for a wonderful fourth grade year and for introducing me to an orphan named Annie.

LITTLE ORPHANT ANNIE
by: James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916)
      INSCRIBED WITH ALL FAITH AND AFFECTION
       
      To all the little children: -- The happy ones; and sad ones;
      The sober and the silent ones; the boisterous and glad ones;
      The good ones -- Yes, the good ones, too; and all the lovely bad ones.
       
      ITTLE Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
      An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,
      An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep,
      An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-an'-keep;
      An' all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,
      We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun
      A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,
      An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you
      Ef you
      Don't
      Watch
      Out!
       
      Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn't say his prayers,--
      An' when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs,
      His Mammy heerd him holler, an' his Daddy heerd him bawl,
      An' when they turn't the kivvers down, he wuzn't there at all!
      An' they seeked him in the rafter-room, an' cubby-hole, an' press,
      An' seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an' ever'-wheres, I guess;
      But all they ever found wuz thist his pants an' roundabout:--
      An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
      Ef you
      Don't
      Watch
      Out!
       
      An' one time a little girl 'ud allus laugh an' grin,
      An' make fun of ever' one, an' all her blood-an'-kin;
      An' wunst, when they was "company," an' ole folks wuz there,
      She mocked 'em an' shocked 'em, an' said she didn't care!
      An' thist as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run an' hide,
      They wuz two great big Black Things a-standin' by her side,
      An' they snatched her through the ceilin' 'fore she knowed what she's about!
      An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
      Ef you
      Don't
      Watch
      Out!
       
      An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
      An' the lamp-wick sputters, an' the wind goes woo-oo!
      An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray,
      An' the lightnin'-bugs in dew is all squenched away,--
      You better mind yer parunts, an' yer teachurs fond an' dear,
      An' churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,
      An' he'p the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about,
      Er the Gobble-uns 'll git you
      Ef you
      Don't
      Watch
      Out!
       
I read this to my own lovely bad one tonight, and I hope you'll be able to share it with your children, too.  Simply a classic.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My Halloween Table

I don't do a huge amount of decorating for Halloween, but I do like a few signs of the season here and there...usually my mantel, the dining room, kitchen and a guest bath.  Below is how our table in the dining room ended up this year. 

 
Lest you think I've put away my faith and upbringing to practice witchcraft, I have not.  However, I couldn't resist the  ceramic pumpkin (Home Goods), the ravens (Hobby Lobby) or donning up an old broom, which was a handmade craft given to me by my Pa Frazier and even more special because the hands that made it were his. 
 
 
 
I don't guess Pa ever intended on me using it as a table decoration, but I doubt very seriously he would mind.  And for the rest of this month, I will think of him every time I walk by my dining room - as if I even need a reason to think of that wonderful man.


 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Halloween Mantel 2013




Where have I seen this mantel before???  Oh, yeahhh...it's practically the same one I did last year. 

It's true.  I wasn't very creative.  But at least I got this one up early enough to get a little enjoyment out of it (during our awesome fall break).

 
 
I still love my "tombstone" bookends.  They are a tad on the creepy side but just perfect for Halloween.  They're also very heavy, too.  Toes beware!

 


The only "new" addition to the collection is this 88-year-old signal lantern from the railroad that once upon a time ran through my hometown.  If you'll look closely, you'll see the name of the railroad, L&NRR, etched in the glass.  It's been on a shelf in our garage these past seven years, so it was due a little recognition. 


 
In years past, when my husband would tell ghost stories to Ren's friends, etc., he would tell the story of Jake Vance, who fell to his death -via his horse- from the top of a tunnel in our hometown onto this very same railroad. 

Sweet dreams!



Monday, October 21, 2013

A Boy in the House: Vol. 1

When you have a little boy, anything is possible.





...like guns in the fruit bowl and faces drawn on the bananas.  We called him Bob the Banana...until he started to rot.  It was a slow, sad, fruit-fly-yielding death. 

"w w w w we loved him so much!"



P.S.  That last sentence was compliments of John-Heath - he came up with that one and typed it all on his own.  He said it's meant to show someone who is all choked up. 

P.S.S.  The gun is not real.  It is a toy gun that was bought for my husband John when he was little, so it's old.  Very old.  Like older than me.

P.S.S.S.  In other news…can you believe my almost favorite month has nearly come and gone and I have blogged a whopping 4 times!?!  I really have no excuses; except for ten of the days which were spent on fall break…they were glorious…the weather was beautiful…I almost decided to retire nine years early and just stay home each and every day.  But then I remembered that if I quit my job I wouldn’t be able to pay my mortgage and staying home every day wouldn’t be nearly as fun.