52 Faces: 2/52 – Marina

For this week’s 52 Faces Project (which is really last week’s…because it’s not even February and I’m already behind..), I’m interviewing the one and only Marina.

My mom is a character. When she took the Myers-Briggs personality test, her results showed that her level of extroversion was high enough to “be offensive to some”. If you’ve been around my mom, you’ve no doubt left feeling like you’ve heard a lot of words. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up. And, she’s prone to venture into some topics with a new acquaintance that you’d normally only discuss with a close friend.

However, one of the things I have to say about my unique and completely wonderful mom is this: her unapologetic tendency to boldly be herself is quite refreshing.

Oh that we would all take a lesson from Marina and let down our guards every once in awhile…and also? She’s gorgeous.


Hometown: Century, FL

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Science (psych major, sociology minor) from Wesleyan College, Master’s Degree in Education in School Counseling K-12 from Auburn University

Occupation: Guidance Counselor at W.S. Neal Elementary…She has been a school guidance counselor for 34 years..6 in high schools, 28 in elementary schools. She’s also been a church choir director in the past…for 11 years total, and is currently a pianist at a church near where I grew up.

Personal: Married to my dad, Roy, for 39 years. Mom to my brother (Jacob) and I. Grandmother to Helen, Elizabeth, Maxwell and Adelaide.

Fun Facts: She went by her first name (Donna) until she started elementary school…and changed to Marina because Donna was too popular. She was the valedictorian of her senior class in high school. She plays a mean flute! Her knowledge of vocabulary words would put most people’s to shame…


What do you do for fun? – “I like to hang out in the yard with my husband…go kayaking…camping (although lately I haven’t done that as much as I’d like)…reading…but mostly, I adore being with family and close friends…and playing with my grandchildren.”

In what ways do you think you are like your mom?- “I like things to be orderly. I’m very family-oriented…being with family is extremely important to me. We both have a strong faith in God. We both have a love for music..a love for singing.”

In what ways are you like your dad?- “He was very interested in politics and history, as am I. And I, like him, have a fiery temperament when something seems unjust…I cannot just let it go.”

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?-  “When my husband tells me that I was a good mother. And, when my co-workers say that I am funny…”

What have been the three biggest news events during your lifetime?- “I’d have to say, the assassination of JFK..and the assassination of MLK both left a huge mark on me. I was young when they occurred. Also, the events of 9/11.”

What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted but still don’t have?- “Ha! A Horse…I’ve always wanted to have a horse.”

What’s your most cherished family tradition?- “Having big family get-togethers and celebrating the holidays.”

If you had the power to solve one and only one problem in the world, what would it be?- “I would eliminate child abuse and/or child neglect…and closely related, I would eradicate fatherless homes… Maybe a broader problem is family dysfunction…it’s a huge problem that I’ve seen in all my years of counseling. Lack of a mother and father raising children in a calm, nurturing, stable environment…if that could be righted..then so many other issues in our society would be resolved.”

What is the best thing about being a grandparent?- “The joy of watching a beloved child grow and develop into their own person…and seeing how your own children parent, seeing differences and similarities in how you parented. It’s quite fascinating to me.”

Favorite Quote- “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead



How was your holiday?

We just got back from a few days at my parents’ house on Murder Creek. In total, there were 6 adults, 2 children, 1 baby, 4 dogs, 1 cat, 1 kitten, 7 chickens and 2 roosters. The one hogging the camera below is named John the Baptist.


John (my husband, not the rooster) and I drove down Wednesday night, and arrived around 10pm (as we do). Jacob and his family were a few hours behind us. As we waited on them to arrive, we wound up watching something on tv about sockeye salmon. This led to Dad requesting that Mom cook him some salmon…at that exact moment. He was determined he was going to have some salmon at 10:30pm, logistics be damned!

(He settled for scrambled eggs)

Lindsay, Jacob, Helen, Elizabeth, Maxwell and their dog (Sugar) arrived around midnight. The girls seemed completely unaware that it was well past their bedtime. Apparently the long car ride left them well rested and ready to PARTY.


I hugged them hello and then went upstairs to attempt to fall asleep.

Reasons that sleep seemed impossible:

  1. My parents’ house is made entirely of wood, and the living room ceiling is shaped in such a way as to send all of the first-floor noise rolling up the wall and smacking the inhabitants of the second-floor right in the face.
  2. Greta was whining incessantly because she was convinced we had no idea that these new people had brought a dog with them…because surely if we had SEEN the other dog, SOMEONE would have let her out so that she could examine it.
  3. Elizabeth had misplaced her “inside voice”.
  4. The sound of my mom’s flip flops flopping as she walked (what seemed like laps) around the house to make sure everyone had everything they needed.
  5. John snoring, because he had taken two Benadryl…

Somehow, sleep found me, and the next morning we woke up to celebrate my Dad’s 60th Birthday! (oh..and, also Independence Day…)


Helen shucked fresh-picked corn with Poppa. And, when that turned out to be very short-lived, Jacob and John helped him finish.


Helen helped Poppa feed the chickens and both girls took turns gathering eggs.



DSC_0759Elizabeth was not a huge fan of the feeling of dirt in her shoes, but was mostly ok with it when she went barefoot. However, occasionally she would only be consoled if someone carried her when she was outside.

This is her “I’m upset that my feet are getting dirty…pick me up!” face.


Here’s Nonna obliging her, on a different day. Elizabeth looks pleased with the situation, don’t you think?
DSC_0791It was overcast and rainy the entire time we were there, so we didn’t kayak. Although we did spend some time (in-between downpours) wading in the creek. Helen was pretty fearless in the current, as long as she knew someone was close by in case she needed a hand to grab onto.


Elizabeth was less inclined to get in on her own, and for that I was thankful. She is so full of bravery in other things, that I can’t imagine how many times I’d have to fish her out of the creek if she ever became convinced she could conquer it.DCIM100SPORT

Even Greta took a swim or two in the cold water. Although I’m sure she’d have me let you know that she much prefers digging in the sand.DCIM100SPORT

This was Max’s first trip to Nonna and Poppa’s house, and I have a feeling he enjoyed it…even if his crazy Aunt Hannah kept putting crayons in his pocket and toy guitars in his lap for her own amusement.IMG_4795


Uncle John was always there to provide a cozy place to nap. And, I do mean ALWAYS. Every time I turned around, John was holding Max, and it usually looked something like this:


On the rare occasion that John ever put Max down, someone else was always there to scoop him up.
IMG_4830 And, as usual, Mom and Dad fed us well! Dad cooked ribs on the 4th, while Mom was in the kitchen frying okra and cooking peas, cornbread and squash. Yum!

The next night, Jacob and I “helped” Dad cook some chickens. We just followed his instructions on the seasoning, and then stepped back while he worked his magic. It was delicious.


And, we all enjoyed the veggies from Poppa’s garden.


No pictures to post of Lindsay or I, although I assure you we were present…either behind the camera or elsewhere.

Until next time, Murder Creek!

Birthday Week Guest Post #1 (from my mom): “A Mother’s Reflections”

(I’ve asked several people close to me to write guest posts this week…the natural first choice for this is my mom…)


As soon as Hannah asked me to write a guest post for her blog to post in the week leading up to her birthday, my fierce Momma brain started energizing.  Now here as I begin to write, who knows when I can finish all I’d like to expose to the world about this unique human being.   She is still “becoming” or self-actualized  as we describe in the counseling profession.

I need to reveal right from the near start that I have been a school guidance
counselor for 34 years now, so please bear with me as I overanalyze this only
precious daughter.  I’m going to try to keep this to a few areas of Hannah’s
world which impress me the most.

Her appreciation of her own birthday.


Now, one may think this is horribly narcissistic, but Hannah has always, I repeat ALWAYS, found her own birthday to be very important.  When she was young, she usually began reminding family, friends, etc., maybe about 3 months ahead of time.  She adored the few teachers who remembered to celebrate summer birthdays at some point before school let out. I think this is great evidence that her parents (of course with Divine help) created some pretty healthy self esteem, but also probably due to the fact that SHE LOVES A PARTY!! However, this trait is overshadowed by the fact that she always made other people’s birthdays a very fun event for those fortunate enough to know her. So, friends, let me warn you that if you remember Hannah’s birthday in a big way, she will never forget.

Hannah and friends.


You are a fortunate person if you are Hannah’s friend. Her kindergarten teacher once said,  “Hannah’s friends would do anything for her. I can’t quite figure out just how she does it, but they absolutely adore her.”  In my counseling job, I  made a home visit to the mother of one of Hannah’s friends in 2nd grade (because I needed her signature on a form and she did not have transportation to the school).  When I introduced myself, this parent said, “I am so glad to finally meet you.”  I was proud that she must have heard about me, how much I cared about students, etc…but then she burst my bubble. She said, “Finally I get to meet the mother of Hannah Chancery.  My son talks about her constantly.”  Ha! I think after 30 years, I have figured out that Hannah makes people from all walks of life really feel worthy, has a natural knack to put others at ease with themselves, and manages to deliver in a sincere way that she really cares about them.  She is fair to all people at all times.

Hannah the Cheerleader, etc……


Yes, folks, Hannah cheered for an estimate of 6 years, from 7th grade through 12th.  And for those of you who believe that cheerleaders are stuck up idiots; well, that was not my Hannah.  She really loved cheering for a team and still cheers folks on in many areas of their lives.  She did, however, tire by her senior year of the typical cattiness that was present in any cheer team.  She also loved cheering from the Toomer’s Corner wall at Auburn…even without the cute little uniform.  Little known fact: She actually marched in London as a USA UCA AllStar Cheerleader on New Year’s Eve of 1999.   She also excelled at softball, volleyball, basketball, and track/field.  And yes, she played varsity on all these teams. Her best event in high school track was running the 400, a quite grueling race once around the track…still holds the local hometown high school record for that.  I think also for the high jump and the long jump? While doing this in high school, she was involved in so many other academic and social activities, it would be hard to list them all here.

Hannah and family connections.


She is all about family, and once remarked to me when I was asking what she wanted to be when she grew up, “I don’t want to be a career woman like you; I want to be a mother.”  Now this stung just a little, but her honesty was for real.  Hannah is one of those people who holds families together.  She calls/writes/emails/texts, keeps pictures of, takes pictures of, sends pictures of…….. cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, grandmothers, in-laws, etc. and keeps up with addresses of all kinds. The remark, “Ask Hannah about that,” is a remark often heard in our family.  Cousins are really like brothers and sisters to her.

Hannah and her Daddy.


I think I married the most perfect man in the world to be Hannah’s Daddy, but I didn’t really know that of course until basically, now.   He has always understood her in ways only he can.  Their personalities click.  He was and is the kind of Daddy who calms her just when she needs it most, I think.  And…….this helped her pick the perfect man for herself – John.

Hannah and her Man.


What can I say?  They click in that way that makes life so meaningful and so much fun.   They “get” each other.  And before I say too much, I credit God  for making her a man she can love the  way she loves him. And also, at the risk of getting too serious, I have mooned him once (watch out John, I may do it again) on a kayak trip when he least expected it.  It was not
very pretty…

Hannah and her pets.

Hannah has had hamsters, many cats, dogs, rabbits, begged for a bird…but the best dog ever in this world for her has been my grand-dog, Greta.  She is the cutest little thing with a sparkling personality and has been there through thick and thin for Hannah and John. Hannah’s care of Greta is touching and endearing to me.

Hannah and her flair for the dramatic.


When I look over pictures of Hannah, her flair for that extra drama revealed in pics by her and of her and those around her just kinda leaps out at me.  That’s one reason that it slowly has dawned on me over time that her theatre major so very well suited her personality.  When well meaning adults have asked me, “did you approve of Hannah majoring in theatre…didn’t you worry about her getting a job in that?”, I just usually think,  “Are you kidding?”  It was perfect for her, and how would one dissuade someone like Hannah from a major she adored?”   Nevermind how much she learned and did in theatre (and continues to do I might add) – it was just quite simply a perfect fit for her talents and personality.  Money?  Yeah, one tends to worry sometimes about it, but not Hannah.  She can be Miss Thrift whenever she needs to be, but also has never failed to get hired when she needs a job.  She can organize and orchestrate any  play, production, office or business she works in, so as her Mom, I’m just a little defensive of that kind of question from relatives or friends.  Sorry – just am.

Hannah and her sense of humor.

IMG_20130606_0023Oh, this is a biggie in describing her, so hope I can manage to help you understand.  From mooning folks in unexpected situations, an inherited propensity from Mom,  to squirting water unexpectedly on her orthodontists and assistants in teenagehood, to cracking jokes with nurses during her recent super-serious hospitalization, she is a HOOT.  She can take the grimmest of situations and turn them into laughter. She once helped mastermind the completion of a practical joke at church when maybe about age 10.  It seems that the ladies in charge of the Chrismon Tree were perplexed about how suddenly the tree lights began to blink rapidly during the beginning of the service.  She had slipped in one blinking bulb, and it took the poor ladies a while to figure out how to get it to stop.  I stayed quiet about this, but I kinda think her brother helped too.

Hannah and her intellect.


I worked rather hard to teach Hannah skills, but it was amazing how quickly she could learn all manner of stuff just from watching and absorbing.  Often as a little girl, when I would say, “Here, let me show you how…” from tying her shoes to writing her letters, she would reply, “I know how, Momma, let me show YOU.”  I think she was born putting on her own socks and fixing her own hair. She seems to have been born knowing how to figure out mechanical stuff and especially computer/tech stuff.  I really don’t remember when she first started talking – I think at 8 – 10 months.  At age 5 she wrote a little picture book, and I hardly remember her not being able to read. She aced logics courses at AU.  She won poetry writing recognition in middle school, and she probably has a book or two within her, but don’t know right now if it will be fact, fiction, or a crafting book.  She is very well read and makes herself lists of books she needs to read and really works on reading them (even the weird ones I suggest to her).  I adore that about her.

Hannah and her crafts & hobbies.


This could have probably been included in the last paragraph, but it kinda deserves its own space. When I recently remarked about what a good cook she has become, she said (to make me feel better cause I can’t remember teaching her to cook)….”Well, I watched you more closely than you thought.”  To which I called “bulls___” on. She accomplishes what she puts her mind to, and she is great in all areas of sewing from cross-stitching to knitting, quilting,  etc. She uses these skills to make especially meaningly gifts for others like the one she cross stitched for her Dad which states, “Don’t Make Me Cut You” (no room to explain that here)  and my personal favorite that I like to look it in my school counseling office when I get down about children’s problems, complete with a cute cross-stitched teddy bear, stating, “kill me now.”  This seems like a sarcasticly weird sense of humor, but it helps one gain perspective on life.

Hannah and discipline.

Now this strong willed child, and now strong willed adult, has been rather hard to discipline at times.  (John, not asking you to “discipline” her – that would be dangerous.  Maybe “reason with her” would be a better adult type of action needed at times…)  She thinks that I have always loved her brother best, and that is certainly very inaccurate.  Once I began to agree with her (just some basic reverse psychology which worked briefly) in her teens, she kinda stopped saying that.  The fact of the matter was that she was more difficult to discpline than her bro. She once threw her supposedly uncomfortable Sunday shoes (which we had shopped for in about 10 stores in the mall)  at her father and they hit her bedroom door. Spanking her did not work – only made her angry for a long time, (so don’t try that, John).  We found that this was one child who usually responded better to a brief 30 sec time out with her nose turned to a spot on the refrigerator, followed by a “talk”.  Suspension for maybe 2 to 4 hrs from talking on the phone was helpful also.

Hannah and faith.


Hannah has faced with courage many situations in her life which sometimes makes me feel she is an old soul in a young lady’s body.  Her walk of faith is one which I greatly admire and I draw strength from it also. One of her close friends died at the age 16, and she was asked by his family to speak at his funeral at their high school.  She was stupendous at this, and then her very best friend died of leukemia at about age 23 and again, she spoke at his memorial service.  Her recent tragedy with her three girls was one that would have crushed a lesser person and a lesser faith, but instead, her faith is strong, and though I can tell there are times of grief, she is moving on down the road of faith and life.  I could quote lots of scripture here, but won’t for fear of not getting her feelings right.

Hannah and an array of things you might not know about her, but find entertaining.


She was once a terrific saxophone musician, plays guitar, ukelele, and some piano, has sung in many choirs and has an excellent alto voice, loves many types of music, and keeps an open ear for new musicians.   Hannah hates eggs and shudders in disgust at the thought of eating them in any form.  She will often rise to a challenge, so be careful.  She decided suddenly one Christmas to prove to her brother that she could successfully pee inside a sleeping bag into a cup without spilling it, promptly zipped it up, and succeeded!!  She is a great kayaker, along with hubby John, and helps introduce novice kayakers to Murder Creek near Brewton, AL  where her weird parents live.


Well, I’m winding down and have gotten too wordy, and none will really want to hear something this long, so in conclusion, here are some lyrics of a song (“Who I Am” by Jessica Anderson) that reminds me of my daughter:

“I am Rosemary’s (sub in Lina and Inez) granddaughter, the spitting image of my father…..And when the day is done, my Momma’s still my biggest fan. Sometimes I’m clueless and I’m clumsy, but I’ve got friends who love me. And they know just where I stand. It’s all a part of me and that’s who I am.”


I would list your faults, but they aren’t significant enough to bother with.


June, thus far

Tomorrow is my birthday…which means I’ve reached the end of my 20 by 29 challenge. I’ve only lost 5 of the 20 lbs I wanted to lose, but it’s not like I’m giving up when the sun rises tomorrow. I’m continuing on, and not letting myself get discouraged.

Now, for a slew of pictures from the past couple of weeks:

Lindsay flew in with the girls to visit my parents the first week of June. I drove down to see them for two days.

Helen & Poppa in the garden…probably the cutest pictures I’ve ever seen…

Lindsay & I slipped away and went kayaking, just the two of us.  SO. MUCH. FUN.

Some of our extended family came over for a day in the creek.

I loved seeing my nieces and my cousin’s kids get to play together.

(Her little legs kill me)

All of the ladies went out to dinner…Helen & Elizabeth had to bring their purses.

I was sad to leave, but I’ll see them again at the end of July.  This is apparently the year when we see each other more than ever…and I am definitely NOT complaining!

Last weekend I got to spend my Saturday with John’s parents and my sis-in-law, Mary.

Mary & I went to Jones Valley Farms FreshFest. We ate some delicious food from local food trucks…

I got to see the produce stands and wash station that Mary’s rural studio group built for Jones Valley!

We met up with friends, watched a goat milking demonstration, had some popsicles from Steel City Pops…

Our trip ended with the purchasing of produce, and me carrying a watermelon for a block or two back to the car.

Then it was back to Mom & Dad P’s house for dinner…and a game of fetch with Oscar.

Thanks for spending your Saturday with me, Mary!  I love days spent with you!

Playing catch-up

I’ve been keeping up with my 52 Projects resolution, but seem to have failed at blogging as much as I would like to. Whoopsies…

Instead of boring you with a wordy, detailed report of everything I’ve been up to, here’s a visual update of life lately…according to my phone.






……I love my life….and the people in it………..

A week at Murder Creek

I drove to my parents’ house last Sunday to be with my mom while she had surgery.  I stayed until Friday…to cook, clean and paint her toenails.

While Mom was in surgery, I knit a hat for my Grandmother…then, that afternoon, I made a purple cowl (which I later gave to the night nurse).


Fun fact: we discovered that the nurse and I went to the same high school. She was a freshman when I was a senior…small world.

Dad and I drove Mom home on Tuesday, and I made some beef stew from a leftover roast. I was pretty proud of myself for throwing it together pretty quickly, with no recipe…using ingredients that my parents already had at their house. It was pretty yummy.


I made an early Valentine for John while I was there….as my project for the week.


The hearts have lyrics from our “first dance” song, and I used our wedding colors.  Pretty cheesy, huh?



By the end of the week, Mom was feeling better….so I spent an afternoon finishing reading The Night Circus.  I highly recommend it!


Don’t read the reviews though, you’ll completely spoil the book. My friend, Mikel, loaned it to me without the book jacket and without any explanation. She just said, “Read it”….and I’m glad I had no clue what it was about beforehand.

I drove back home Friday afternoon, and I’ve been playing catch-up on all the things that piled up while I was gone. I mean that figuratively and literally…you should have seen the kitchen.

Let’s just say that washing dishes is low on John’s priority list.


I was five minutes late to rehearsal

I picked up my Grandmother from the airport yesterday, and was thrilled to hear how much fun she had on her trip to Baltimore. Mom and my aunt, Melanie, came to my house to drive her back home. I stuck around to hug them all, and snap this picture of the trio before I hurriedly drove off to rehearsal.

I’m a sucker for family photo-ops.