My Front Yard: Before & After

On May 29, my husband and I will have owned a home for four years! What a joy it has been to have our own property! We have enjoyed fixing it up and making it our own, without having to ask a landlord’s permission. A little over a year ago, we fixed up our front yard a bit. There used to be a big circular piece of landscaping right in the center of the yard. It probably was lovely when the previous owner had it; she probably had lovely plants and flowers growing there. I’m sure she also ran the underground sprinklers often, and she probably rose before dawn to start weeding it.

Right after we moved in, I entertainted delusions that I, too, could make it look like a million bucks. I got a book at the library on Oklahoma plants and shrubs, and thought about how pretty it would be. I went out to start weeding and came in with a horrible case of poision ivy or oak or sumac – who knows! I obviously didn’t see the said poisonous plant. After getting a shot (because I’m highly allergic), I vowed to just let the weeds have it. Terry thought it looked bad, though, so he did fill it in with mulch later to hide the weeds. Meanwhile, I returned my book to the library and applied calemine lotion generously to my arms.

After many months, the weeds were showing through the mulch. Something had to be done. I couldn’t maintain it, but I knew how to rip it out. (Or, rather, how to ask my husband and my strapping teenage boy to rip it out.)

Here is the before:

Shortly after we moved into the house, 2013.

 

Sometime in 2014, after the mulch was added.

Terry and Mitch had to dig up the rocks that encircle the flower bed. They were buried about a foot into the ground in a block of concrete, which I didn’t even consider being the case. Then, they had to pull up the metal band that is around the rocks on the inside of the flower bed. Of course, the mulch and plastic had to be pulled up from the flower bed, revealing bare earth.

Terry rented a trailer from UHaul and loaded it with the rock. We ended up having 2 tons of rock and concrete on the trailer, in two different loads. I never would have imagined it would be so grueling to take this out!

We then called TruGreen to come by and help us kill the weeds and fertilize the good grass so it would grow. It took over a year, but the grass has finally made itself at home.

Here is the finsished product:

Tada!

This was a few days ago, before the hedges were trimmed for the summer.

 

This morning, after Terry shaped up our hedges.

I have to say, TruGreen came through for us. We have much thicker grass now than we did before, and you can barely see the ring of the old flowerbed rock border near the shrubs in the foreground. It’s much nicer than having a mulch-filled area there. It used to dominate the yard, which is nice if you know how to garden, but I’m not the gal for that, unfortunately.

As I look back on the last four years in Oklahoma, I cannot help but feel blessed. Not just with our home, but with our friends, our church, our homeschool group, and I could go on! Truly, the Lord as done exceeding, abundantly above all that I could ask or think. (Eph.3:20)

My Book Bag: The Residence

When we learned that we would be able to take a trip to D.C. and possibly see the White House, I happened to see a book on Twitter called The Residence by Kate Anderson Brower. I looked it up on our library’s website, and behold! They had a copy!

The Residence is a behind-the-scenes look at life upstairs at the White House. The author interviewed several butlers, ushers, maids, and chefs who lived and worked in the residence with the first family. This book mostly covers the administrations of the Bushes (both families), the Clintons, and the Obamas, with occasional mentions of the Reagans, and a few others. It gives the reader glimpses of the enormous responsibilities of managing the White House, like the cleaning, decorating, maintenance, and regular daily life. Just reading the part about how they move a new first family in and the former first family out is enthralling. This book also shares some of the personal moments of the first family, be it quiet moments, loud fighting, or quirky personal behavior, like LBJ’s fascination for strong water pressure in the shower.

The staff at the White House work hard to show love and protection to the first family, regardless of politics. They have no favorite family, they are simply part of the White House. Though certainly, some staff members are closer to some families than others. Chief Usher, J.B. West, was very close to Jackie Kennedy, but he also had a tight bond with Mrs. Eisenhower. Nancy Reagan rubbed some staff members the wrong way with her strong demands. Others, like Barbara Bush, loved and respected the staff so much, that the staff was saddened when the Bushes only had one term in the White House.

The most interesting stories of the book are the ones about the Clintons. The lack of love in their relationship was evident. While the staff tries to be invisible, they couldn’t help but hear their loud fights and see the times when they gave one another the silent treatment. During the Lewinsky scandal, Hillary had the chef prepare her favorite mocha cake more than once when the pressure was too much. Chelsea once called her secret service agents “pigs”, which I found to be the most disappointing part of the whole book.

A whole section is focused on Obama, but rather than cover his personal life or even his political one, it is focused on his race. The Obamas faced three times more death threats than any previous President, and they attribute it to his race. I can’t help but wonder if President Trump has beat that record? He certainly seems to be hated, and he is a white man! Hate is color blind, I guess. According to the staff of the residence, the Obamas did love one another deeply, and that is refreshing.

Visitors taking a tour of the White House visitors will never be able to tour the residence, but this book definitely will take you there.

Theological Term of the Week: Postmillennialism

This week’s term: Postmillennialism – That form of eschatological doctrine which teaches that the return of Christ shall occur after the Millennial Kingdom. 

Last week’s term: Premillennialism – That form of eschatological doctrine which teaches that the return of Christ shall occur before the Millennial Kingdom.

The White House

Sometime in the 60’s, my dad got to tour the White House. He even owned one of the early editions of The White House Guide Book, first written by First Lady Jackie Kennedy. Dad loved history and the Presidents, and he is the one who got me interested in it, too. As I sat snuggled beside him as a young girl, he would read to me from a big red book about the Presidents. I used to dream about visiting this historic home one day. When Mom and Dad took me to D.C. as a teenager, we missed out on seeing the White House – remember, that was before the Internet! But on March 7, 2017, the first day of White House tours in the Trump Administration, I got the opportunity I had dreamed about.

Terry enjoys history also, so we began visiting Presidential homes and museums shortly after we were married. Our first tour was of Monticello when I was expecting Lauren, almost eighteen years ago. Since then, we have toured five others. But the White House – that’s the crown jewel of Presidential homes! Every President since John Adams (the second President) has lived in the White House.

I cannot begin this story without mentioning the difficulty in getting a tour of the White House. If I thought security was tight in Washington, D.C., in general, it has nothing on the White House. First of all, you must submit your tour request within three months of your visit through your U.S. representative or Senator. Each person in the tour must submit their Social Security numbers (even babies). If you pass this first step, then you wait patiently for your appointment. We got our appointment less than a week before our departure. The delay was partially attributed to the change in administrations. I mentioned in previous posts about how the Lord arranged this trip for us, and that definitely includes our White House tour. It was an exciting day to get this good news. We had already secured our tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the Capitol, so it was a bonus that the White House tour didn’t interfere with those.

We were instructed to print out our confirmation number and have it with us. No purses or bags of any kind. No cameras with lenses longer than three inches. No selfie sticks. You must have your photo I.D. if you are over 18. I was thrilled that I could take my phone and take photos with it.

We arrived at the White House visitor’s center at 7:45, fifteen minutes before they opened the doors. It was not as cold on this day as it was the day before, and our wait time was shorter. We used the restrooms at the visitor’s center because no restroom is available for visitors at the White House. We then went across the street and stood in line as we waited to file in.

So while we waited, we took selfies!

We stood in this line for about fifteen more minutes, so close to the White House, yet still unable to see it. A nice gentleman came around with a White House brochure and offered to answer any questions we had. We stood near a statue of William T. Sherman on his horse, supposedly where he reviewed the troops after the Civil War ended.

My first glimpse!

Eeek!!

We got to the first security station where we showed our I.D. and got our names ticked off of a sheet by a secret service agent. We then passed by another secret service agent. After that, we walked past a large German shepherd in a cage, with a fan blowing on us toward the dog. We then passed two more agents and finally, I stepped into the WHITE HOUSE!

Lots of photos of past Presidents lined the first hallway we entered. I could have stood there all day, but I thought we were on a time schedule to go through the tour. I found out later, that we were not on a strict schedule.

They already had photos of President Trump up!

My first photo in the White House!

I look back at these photos and still can’t believe I was there…

A bust of Lincoln in the first hallway.

The library!

This is the Vermeil Room. It was once a billiard room, but now contains a collection of European and American gilded silver (vermeil) objects from 1700-1950s. Most rooms were corded off and the halls were filled to overflowing with loud groups of children. I was blessed to be able to capture any clear images at all. Several of my photos have strangers in them, but that’s just how it is at the White House.

More of the Vermeil Room. Lady Bird Johnson’s portrait is in this room, along with Jackie Kennedy. I thought this room was delicate looking.

The China Room contains China from past administrations, but not all of it. Not every administration has their own pattern. There is so much China now that much of it is in storage. Any chipped or broken pieces used to be tossed into the Potomac. First Lady Edith Wilson began this display.

Grace Coolidge is the portrait straight ahead.

Here is the Pierce China pattern. He had a heartbreaking administration. His eleven-year-old son died in front of him and his wife in a train accident. His wife never really recovered from the shock and stayed in the White House during the first two years of his administration. He also interestingly took the oath of office on a law book rather than the Bible.

The Lincoln China has my favorite color (purple) in the pattern, but I do not think it’s very attractive. It looks a bit gaudy to me, which fits with what I have read about Mary Lincoln’s personality. Of course, this was another difficult administration both professionally and for the family. There is more Presidential China on display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. I enjoyed that display more because it was more accessible.

This is the hall of First Ladies, here is Laura Bush’s portrait.

I snapped this photo of the hall only minutes before President Trump would come out. Before you ask, no we didn’t see him. We just missed him. I wasn’t too upset about it because I was slightly…ok, I was wildly intoxicated with the history of my surroundings.

I was extremely excited to enter this room! This is the East Room: Abigail Adams hung her laundry here, TR’s kids had horses in here, JFK lay in state here, musical performances are here to this day, Amy Carter roller skated here, and lastly, this is where the painting of Washington hangs – Yes! The one that Dolly Madison saved from the burning of the White House in 1814! This room is truly replete with history. I could have soaked it up all day.

Me and Terry with George Washington in the background.

It’s not every day you get to take a selfie in the East Room!

The Blue Room was re-furnished by James Monroe after the British burned it. This is where President Grover Cleveland married Frances Folsom. The couch in this room is curved exactly to fit the oval shape of this room.

Andrew Jackson in the Green Room.

The Green Room, used for dinners by Jefferson and as a parlor by Madison.

A quick photo of some of the kids in the Green Room.

The amazing Red Room! This is where Rutherford B. Hayes took the oath of office in 1877.

The marble mantel has been in this room since 1819!

It’s appropriate that Grant’s portrait is in this room since he was the predecessor to Hayes, who took the oath here.

The State Dining room was furnished by TR – Teddy Roosevelt.

Kind of dark, but this stately old mahogany table has ornate eagles supporting it in the front.

This mantel is carved with the words from John Adams in a letter to his wife, Abigail, about living in the White House. It says, “I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but wise men ever rule under this roof.” The bison heads on the mantel show how much Teddy Roosevelt loved the wild west.

This is the family dining room, well, it used to be anyway, before the upstairs residence got their own dining area. Teddy Roosevelt and his family ate their meals here.

I wanted to get all the kids’ photos here, in front of the Great Seal, but it was so crowded with people waiting to get a photo, that I hurriedly took this one of just a few of them. And, I chopped off part of the Seal!

The Grand Entrance Hall

When Truman remodeled the house in 1952 due to its falling apart, he re-designed this stairway to make a better entrance for the President.

The grand entrance hall was our grand exit. It was a thrilling tour through “the people’s house”; a dream come true for me. I think my children will treasure this opportunity more and more as the years go by. As we made our way out, we stopped outside to snap a few more photos.

I asked a stranger to snap a group photo of us in front of Reagan’s portrait inside the White House, but it was so blurry, it was unusable. She only took one photo and it was the only one I had of all of us together. That was more disappointing than missing President Trump. So, we were back to taking photos in stages. I wish we could have taken our selfie stick inside!

We took these at Lafayette Park, across the street. This as close to the White House as you can get. If you step onto the street, a secret service agent or policeman will shout at you to “GET BACK ON THE SIDEWALK NOW!”. We heard them do it more than once.

After our tour, we made our way back to the visitor’s center to see the small museum there. I enjoyed touring it very much. It houses lots of furnishings from the White House along with stories about previous Presidents. A large screen film played with behind the scenes information as told by some first families, which I found captivating. It was not crowded and I could browse to my heart’s content.

Here is Washington’s chair in the Visitor’s Center museum. You do not need a reservation to tour this museum, and it’s free!

I enjoyed looking around the gift shop. I even found my own copy of the White House Tour Guide to bring home.

I will read it thinking of my dad, my partner in history.

With love,

Theological Term of the Week: Premillennialism

This week’s term: Premillennialism – That form of eschatological doctrine which teaches that the return of Christ shall occur before the Millennial Kingdom.

Last week’s term: Eschatology – The study of last things, that is death, judgment, heaven, hell, the return of Christ, the Millennial Kingdom, and the new heaven and the new earth.

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

After our meal at the food truck, we took off for our next destination, which happened to be the reason Lauren wanted to visit D.C.: The Air and Space Museum! We didn’t have very far to walk to get to it from the Holocaust Museum. As we entered, we were nervous about Mitchell’s Swiss Army knife (yes, this is the third post about Monday, March 6, so we still had the knife). Terry thought he would see if the museum allowed it. As soon as Terry emptied his pockets at security, a stout looking guard came over and told Terry, “Follow me.” Terry hadn’t even gotten his things from the x-ray belt! The guard led him to the door, opened it, and said, “Get out. We don’t allow any of that in here.” Fortunately, Terry was able to stash it outside somewhere and re-enter. I was holding his cell phone, keys, and billfold, hoping he could get back inside. It was at that moment that I felt a tinge of hatred for our nation’s capital. It might have also been the extreme fatigue setting in, too.

There was no coat check at this museum, which meant we were stuck carrying them because it was warm inside. Lauren instantly honed in on a tour that was about to start which took you through the highlights of the museum. She and Mitchell went on that tour while Terry, Leslie, Laci, Matt and I went on our own “Basham style tour”, meaning, we just went to the places that interested us, and we went quickly. This was not the favorite museum for the younger ones and *cough cough*me*cough cough*. I visited this museum when I was 18, and that was enough. I am not a math or science person, and this museum is all about math and science. They have engines hanging from the ceiling. Engines. That is about as interesting to me as if they had a display of paint drying. But Lauren loved it, so we found things to love, too. Here are a few photos of our day:

I really did love seeing the actual Spirit of St. Louis, the plane in which Charles Lindbergh flew the first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic. This was here when I was a teenager, so it felt like seeing an old friend.

Still taking turns taking pics! Here is Terry with this famous aircraft. They also had several of the Lindbergh’s things, such as clothing and flight instruments, etc.

We enjoyed seeing the display area about Amelia Earhart. They had several of her personal artifacts.

There was a neat section about Jimmy Doolittle, who not only served our country valiantly in World War II, but he competed in races, and won, in his early career.  I didn’t know airplane races even existed. Pretty interesting.

This little hideaway was in the Jimmy Doolittle area.

Matthew loved the Space Shuttle we got to walk through. Here he is standing next to an astronaut as he is working. This was a very small exhibit, and nothing was hands-on, so that made it less exciting.

I just liked this huge hot air balloon.

Laci is inserting herself into a serious conversation about navigation.

They have an old airplane from the 60’s that you can walk through. The cabin was huge and the seats were padded and comfy, with lots of legroom! It’s amazing people used have such luxury when flying coach. And just look at a typical meal you could enjoy on a long flight! Thos were the days. *sigh*

As we were leaving, I got this photo of Lauren and Mitchell with a display of one the ladies featured in the movie Hidden Figures, which Lauren saw and loved.

Lauren happily reported that the tour of the museum was amazing. Mitchell was mildly entertained. Lauren enjoyed hearing the little-known facts about all sorts of flying machinery. In fact, she decided to forego visiting the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History with us a few days later so she could go back alone to the Air and Space Museum. I think she would go yet again if she had the chance. I was disappointed that the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first Atomic bomb, is no longer featured at this particular museum. It’s now at one located in Chantilly, Virginia. I enjoyed seeing that when I came as a teenager and wanted to show the kids.

Terry took the three youngest kids on a three-minute flight simulator machine that let the kids do the driving. It even flipped upside down! They got to “shoot” at enemy targets and steer their “plane”. I could hear their squeals of delight ten feet away. It was definitely the highlight for them. It only lasted three minutes, but they thought it had to have been ten minutes.

We were able to retrieve Mitchell’s knife, for the last time that day, and begin the two mile walk back to the car. We had had a very fun and eventful first day in D.C.

Next up: the White House! *insert excited shriek here*

See you soon!

Easter {2017}

I realize I’m a bit late posting this, but here is a photo from our Easter Sunday. I try to take one every year for a keepsake. I enjoy looking back and comparing them over the years. Kids sure do grow up quickly!

We smile because He lives!

The trends of the world have turned Easter into a big show at most churches. I pray the Lord will help me to remember it’s about Him. It’s not about crowds, clothes, candy, or cantatas, but Christ alone.

Thanks for reading,