Thursday, December 17, 2009

We're No Scrooges....

Merry Christmas!

As the cheery sounds of "It's a Marshmallow World" dance down our hallways, I am writing this blog post to give you a peek of our very first Christmas at Neverland!

I have immensely enjoyed our decorations thus far. As of today, I am done with tutoring until next year (I think Christmas break is even better as a teacher than it was as a student), and I am basking in the simple pleasures of the season; taking a few extra moments to shake packages under our red and silver Christmas tree, standing under the mistletoe with Stuart (many, many times a day!), and reading my favorite Christmas stories.

I hope you and your loved ones can find time to do the same in this over-too-quickly time of year!

Enjoy the photos!

Our staircase wrapped in Christmas garland...

Our front door Christmas wreath....

A close up. I love the butterflies and the fruit, even though it was a giant pain getting the latter attached!

This is the miniature tree we put up in the office for Stuart. I went up there one day, and peeked in and it made me sad that I was enjoying all of the decorations everywhere else in the house while he was stuck at the desk. So, voila! He has his own Christmas cheer near his desk!

This is a portion of my Christmas library. All of the downstairs windows are sporting their own Christmas titles, including some of my childhood favorites like Madeline's Christmas... it is so fun to decorate with books!

This is Iorek (pronounced "your-ick"), and he actually doubles as Christmas and Valentine's decor. Look at him, living the life on our bed....Stuart gave him to me, because he loves to give me stuffed animals...

Our sophisticated, not cheesy at all, snowman countdown piece.....

Ah...this is my "A Christmas Carol" table. This year most of it consists of snow, because I am slowly building my Jim Shore figurine collection. I have two more to get, and some other copies of the book as well. I just love it though! Especially Jacob Marley's miniature chains....such a great Christmas story! I don't why, but Chuckie D. (I call him that because we're pretty close) just makes me want to cry like a baby....

Here is our first beautiful Christmas tree! We've had one neighbor stop by and compliment us on it and the wreath! And I must admit, Stuart and I are very proud of it. We worked hard coordinating the colors together...well, Stuart told me what he envisioned and I coordinated, but still, it was a team effort! We're thinking about adding other trees as the years go on....huh. It is funny, but I never pictured us as "Christmas people." You know, the ones who have 12 trees in their house and all that, but we have had such a good time decorating together, that I think we might be after all! Maybe next year we'll add a UNC tree for Stuart and a Victorian one for me! I'm also thinking about a Travel tree. It is our tradition to buy a Christmas ornament wherever we go, and we've accumulated quite a few! It would be fun to have them all on one tree as a tribute to our adventures together!

Okay, our stockings were so fun to pick out! We went to Target together and decided to pick out each other's stocking. Our only rule was that it had to "reflect" the other's personality. And all I can say Stuart knowingly picked out a pink Shabby Chic stocking for me, trimmed with pink velvet and adorned with a jeweled crown. I was more worried about Stuart's...mine was so obviously me, but his was harder to pin down. Then I saw it! A reindeer stocking dressed in green (a color Stuart is in half of the time), with the little reindeer holding a chalkboard. Augh! Stuart loves chalkboards. Stuart has a chalkboard. I remember when I would visit him at UNC, I would write little love notes on the chalkboard he had for him to see when he would practice his math problems on it. And whenever we made a meal together there, we would make up a name for our imaginary restaurant and I would write it on the board in artistic lettering. Anyway, the stocking was such a perfect representation of that piece of his personality that of course I picked it up and waved it in triumph! We've hung them on our little banister at home...

In short, we're really embracing our Christmas together! We've watched several Christmas movies together, and are making many new traditions together, but trying to keep some old ones as well. Stuart was actually leaning towards not going home for Christmas, but having our own celebration here, and just going home for New Year's Eve, but eventually decided against it because both of our families are expecting us already. So, we're keeping that tradition for now! Also, for those of you who don't know it, Bedford is actually "The Christmas Capital of Virginia." Seriously. We have a sign and everything. We've gone to look at some great lights, but missed the town meeting in the square with the hot chocolate, carriage rides, and the decorating of the town Christmas tree. Also we missed the Christmas parade. We just found out too late because it is our first year here. Next year we'll be there because we love living in a small town and want to show our support!

We're trying to do something Christmas oriented every night, so tonight I think we're decorating Christmas cookies together, and I'm trying to find "Charlie Brown's Christmas" or the cartoon "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" because Stuart hasn't seen either one of them. Sadness. They are two of my favorites! When he first told me that I thought he was teasing me, but no! There are really people who haven't seen these Christmas classics! One thing we do have in common is our love for "Mickey's Christmas Carol." We ordered it off of Amazon last year and love it, it brings back great memories of childhood for both! And of course we both love Patrick Stuart in "A Christmas Carol" as well as "It's a Wonderful Life" and many others!

I encourage all you bloggers to do something fun this last weekend before Christmas! It only comes once a year!

Signing Off,

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Typical Staley

This picture sequence pretty much sums up our relationship....

Haley enjoying a book, soaking up a good storyline....

Stuart enjoying a book, seeking intellectual stimulation and very interested in what he's reading....

Haley getting jealous and saying, "Hey, I want to be what you're interested in! I'm intellectually stimulating and cute!"

And as usual, he falls for my wiles hook, line, and sinker!

Evil laugh....

Friday, December 4, 2009

Turkey and Such

I'm just going to give a quick recap of our Thanksgiving week in photographs....


Stuart relaxing on the couch at my Mom and Dad's before lunch...

Stuart stocking up on the Thanksgiving goodies (especially the potato casserole!)

My fantastic parents! They were also the hosts of our first Thanksgiving dinner that day! When we went around the table and shared what we were thankful for, it was unanimous...Mom's restored health, her safety through her thyroid surgery, and most of all....a cancer free body! Thank you, Lord!

The whole Thanksgiving crew (we missed you Young and Williams families!)

On to Thanksgiving #2! This is me holding my always happy nephew, Michael. What a cutie! I'm only sad that I don't get to see my newest nephew, Matthew Thomas, because he's on the other side of the world from me!

Anyway, this Thanksgiving was held at Stuart's aunt and uncle's home. There were over 30 people there! Crazy!

Apparently, everyone was tired after eating except Mary......

And this last picture is of my niece Zara the day after Thanksgiving. She was helping us decorate the Christmas tree. It was adorable. She would watch my dad unravel the lights and try to help him, which of course, complicated things! Her whole face lit up when we finally turned the lights on for the first time. Here she is with some ornaments.....

All in all, it was a great week! Except for the part where Stuart and Harrison talked me into going to Wal-Mart in Danville at 1am to view all the Black Friday mayhem. I was dead on my feet by the time we arrived there. All that Thanksgiving food sinking into my body no doubt! I'm a night owl at heart, always lurking around until early hours of the morning, reading, cleaning, or, in tonight's case, updating our blog. So imagine Stuart and Harrison's surprise when I, the ringleader of all nighttime activities, zoned out and trudged around Wal-Mart after them like a zombie......When we got back, I slid in between the sheets while Stuart and Harrison went to the kitchen for ice cream. All Stuart could say was,

"I can't believe you're in bed before me!"

I didn't hear the rest.....

Happy Christmas-ing!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It Ain't Easy Being Green... or... How We Spent Our Weekend

This past weekend was really wonderful and really, really awful all at the same time....which in my experience is a lot like life in general. Great times corresponding with really hard situations...but I digress! On to the good, the bad, and the scary...


A great day! Stuart was on what I like to call his "Friday High" all day long. I think for him, the anticipation of the weekend is better than the weekend itself sometimes! He likes for me to stay in the office with him sometimes if I'm not tutoring or doing other chores around the house, so on Friday afternoon I basked in the sunshine filled office with a worn copy of Little Women and my journal, keeping him company while he worked. Bliss! We had plans later that night to eat at Moe's Southwestern Grill, go shoe shopping, and see this:

Those of you who know me know I am a huge fan of all things A Christmas Carol (and all things Charles Dickens for that matter), and this was the perfect opportunity to kick off the holiday season! What I didn't know or expect was that it was digitally animated (think Polar Express with Tom Hanks). We actually saw it in 3D, which means we had to wear those goofy glasses they charge you a fortune for. But! No matter to us! We were on a date, and Stuart of course had me giggling like crazy with his glasses and general hilarity. The storyline really didn't vary much from the book version, and the visuals were really stunning, especially with the 3D effects. Stuart was a little disappointed that it wasn't more humorous (being that Jim Carrey was playing pretty much every role in the movie), but still thought it was very well done. We shared our usual Coke Icee and popcorn and were two very contented lovers!


Mostly bad! I woke up sick, sick, sick. Ugh. All I could do was curl up with my heating pad and try and rest. Achy, dizzy, headache.... No fun Saturday adventures for us! Or so I thought. Stuart very sweetly stayed with me and talked to me, and somewhere during that conversation we decided to paint the kitchen...for real. No more deliberating on the green swatches splattered against our wall! Just pick a green and go with it! So we did! I blame that decision on the Extra Strength really....because there is no way I would have spent all of Saturday afternoon, Sunday afternoon, and Monday afternoon painting if I hadn't been feeling...extra powerful. But we love it! Sure, it took forever because I needed to rest quite often and we had to tape up 3 million things, but hey...

it is so done....

Here's a picture of the painful taping process...

Don't have one of the finished product yet, because I don't consider it one! So you'll have to be patient!

Well, after collapsing into bed on Saturday night, I thought the excitement was over. No no! At 3:45ish I woke up not feeling too well (I went to sleep with a bucket by my bed...I hate nausea, don't you?) and was pretty restless. I got up to go to the restroom and then I slid beneath the covers once again and tried to fall asleep....

So there I was...

minding my own business.....

trying to go to sleep.....

trying not to be sick.......


I heard a noise. A car actually. Somewhat in the distance. Which isn't highly unusual being that we live in a neighborhood and all, but still.... I noted it.

And stomach tensed.

Was that a gunshot?

I thought, "No, it's just the car backfiring. It sounds like it has a really loud engine and all that, so that must be what it is. How obnoxious!"

But then all in a rush, I heard tires squealing, and the engine roaring closer and closer and then...

another gunshot!

A really loud gunshot.

"Stuart!" I cried ( in what can only be described as a panic-stricken voice), sitting up like a rocket in bed.

Stuart was awake in an instant saying, "I heard it! I heard it! It was in my dream! Gunshots in my dream!" (We've kind of laughed about this since then, because his reaction was so fast but still so muffled and sleepy sounding. If I hadn't been so freaked, I probably would have laughed right then!)

We ran down the hallway and into the office, both of which are on the second floor of our house. The office has 5 windows in it, and you can see everything that's going on outside, so that was naturally where we headed. Instinctively, we dropped into a crawl once we hit the office, not knowing what might be going on outside. Stuart warned me to stay down as he looked out of the windows, but whoever it was had turned around in our cul de sac and gotten the heck out of dodge. Needless to say, we were exhausted, shaken up, and worried. What on earth had happened? We found out later from some neighbors that no one was hurt, but some windows were shot out of at least one of the houses being built around us. Sooo, in the last couple of days I haven't been sleeping too well, and tense up every time I hear a car driving by. I don't know if it was a prank or what, but it definitely messes with your security, you know? And we live in a really safe, family friendly area, so nobody is really sure why this happened as of right now.


Well, after a not so restful night of being sick and worrying about being murdered in my bed (you know, the usual), we slept in and missed church. Stuart let me sleep. And sleep. And sleep. I woke up about noon, still not feeling like myself, but a bit better with no nausea. We pretty much just rested and painted a little and that night, since the kitchen was totally destroyed, we did something absolutely unheard of in the Graydon household. We went out to dinner for the second time in one weekend. Ruby Tuesday is only about 5 minutes from our house, so we got all cleaned up (which made me feel a lot better in and of itself) and headed out the door, talking about how approx. 4 years earlier (November 5, 2005 to be exact), on our first date at the Colonial Ball, we had no idea that on this night approx. 4 years later we would be married and painting our kitchen and going to Ruby Tuesday because we were tired and our appliances were all covered in plastic (I'm sure all you married couples know this game). We snapped a fast photo as we headed out...

See? Not a speck of green or a single bullet hole on us or in us!

Well, that was the first weekend in November for us! Hope yours was a little less exciting than ours was!

Kicking off the holidays with a bang-bang,

Monday, November 2, 2009

Acceptance...It Feels Nice

So, I didn't want to leave everybody hanging about my grad school application...

I got accepted!

Please pray for Stuart and I as we have to make several choices between now and December! We both feel that this is where the Lord wants me to be as of right now, so unless he leads us down another path before January...grad school it is! I will be pursuing a MA in English, an opportunity I am elated about!

The next step in this process is pursuing a GSA position, which stands for Graduate Student Assistant. This position is harder to get, as it is a full scholarship for the program, and several people want them! The education is free, and you are assigned two English 101 classes to teach under the guidance of a full-blown professor. The great part? It is a paid job as well! Not very much, but coupled with the free Master's and the teaching experience, it is a pretty sweet deal. On the down side, I am planning to start the program in January, and I'm not sure if there are any GSA positions open until next fall, so we may have to foot the bill for at least one semester.

We would ask your prayers on this issue as well, as we really can't afford grad school without one of these positions. I'm pretty nervous about it because I know many smart, qualified people who want these positions too, and I can't help but think, "Yeah, right! This isn't going to happen!" But, we are just trusting the Lord! If this is really what He wants then I think we'll be fine... if not.............. I know He has something else for me out there!

God Bless You All!

Hope your Halloween was great!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pridefulness, Thy Name is (Gulp) Haley!

This morning while I was having my quiet time, I was perusing The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, along with my Bible reading. Before I proceed with this post, let me just say that this is a wonderful book brimming with spiritual insights. Many of the prayers convict my heart and bring tears to my eyes. They are beautifully written, but not in a showy way. These prayers are sincere, humble, and cover every subject imaginable, from a convicted sinner's prayer to longing after God. I ran across this book because our pastor, Dr. Kroll, read from it several Sundays ago, and the words struck a chord with my heart. Stuart and I have read some together as well, and enjoy discussing how they apply to us, how we can take our prayer lives more seriously, etc.

Anyway, I ran across this convicting prayer on pride. What a snare it has been in my walk with Him! How many times it has kept me from going to Him with repentance in my heart! How often I have sat in judgment of my brothers and sisters in Christ and felt it welling up within my soul! For those of you who find yourself in my shoes, I want to share it with you:


Let not pride swell in my heart.
My nature is the mire beneath my feet,
the dust to which I shall return.

In body I surpass not the meanest reptile;
Whatever difference of form and intellect is mine
is a free grant of thy goodness;
Every faculty of mind and body is thy undeserved gift.

Low as I am as a creature, I am lower as a sinner;
I have trampled thy law times without number;
Sin's deformity is stamped upon me,
darkens my brow,
touches me with corruption:
How can I flaunt myself proudly?
Lowest abasement is my due place,
for I am less than nothing before thee.
Help me to see myself in thy sight,
then pride must wither, decay, die, perish.

Humble my heart before thee,
and replenish it with thy choicest gifts.
As water rests not on barren hill summits,
but flows down to fertilize the lowest vales,
So make me the lowest of the lowly,
that my spiritual riches may exceedingly abound.

When I leave my duties undone,
may condemning thought strip me of pride,
deepen in me devotion to thy service,
and quicken me to more watchful care.
When I am tempted to think highly of myself,
grant me to see the wily power of my spiritual enemy;
Help me to stand with wary eye on the watch-tower of faith,
and to cling with determined grasp to my humble Lord;
If I fall let me hide myself in my Redeemer's righteousness,
and when I escape, may I ascribe all deliverance to thy grace.
Keep me humble, meek, lowly.

I think my favorite line is, "My nature is the mire beneath my feet..." In other words, I'm my own worst enemy! Many times I don't even recognize I'm being prideful until the moment, conversation, etc. has passed. Then I think, "Oh no! Not again! I had such a prideful spirit about that!" Then I'll have to apologize to whoever it was, or just confess it to the Lord and start over. For me I am often deceived because I'm simply thinking, "But I'm right about this!" and not recognizing that its the way I'm being right about it! My deceptive nature...

Also, I love the line about sin's deformity being stamped upon us. How true this is! When I begin to think of my sin nature as a literal deformity in my soul, I begin to see just how ugly it must be to a pure and Holy God!

In closing, I am happy to say (without pride I hope!) that pride is something the Lord has and is taming within my heart. In the meantime, I find that this prayer helps me to put in all in perspective!

Humbly Yours,

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's Called The Happy Dance For A Reason

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is indeed a sweet night. After many weeks of filling out applications and forms concerning various aspects of my life, writing a paper on why I want to be part of the Master's program at Liberty, taking tests (not to mention paying for said tests), begging teachers for recommendation letters (okay, not really begging...but still), checking on my transcripts, and waking up with vocabulary flash cards stuck to my cheek...

It is finished. The deed. The beast has been slain and I'm left holding the sword.

That's right. I am done applying to grad school!

Forget that this was the easy part and I have at least two years of grueling writing, research, late nights, and other unspeakable evils in front of me. I'm done until January!

I'm going to kick back, relax with Stuart, and pop Duck Soup into the DVD player because...

I have nothing else to do.

At this rate, I don't even care if I get in.


Free For Now,

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Hairy Situation

This hilarious procedure took place about a month ago. Watch, learn, and enjoy...

Step 1: Right before Stuart decided to shave off his beard I insisted on getting a picture to remember it by (because I loved, loved, loved the beard! So manly....)

Step 2: We call this the halfway point. Not too late to keep a remnant of your former beard, Stuart!

Step 3: We call this many things, including but not limited to:

Like watching a bad 70's or 80's cop movie
Hair Don't

And so at this stage it was definitely too late to keep a remnant. Sorry Stuart, now it all has to come off!

I just want to give you a moment to take it all in......



Well, I don't actually have the final picture of Baker without a beard, but most of you know what that looks like anyway. I think I was still shrieking with laughter at the sight of him like this to take another picture.

So there you have it! Future blackmail material...

Having Fun,

Sunday, September 13, 2009

For Me?


Thanks to everyone who helped make my 22nd birthday a great one! Not a day went by during my birthday week that I wasn't surprised by some pleasant phone call, facebook remark, or a fun package in the mail!

As most of you know, my parents and brother came up for my birthday weekend! Stuart and I gave them the grand tour of Neverland, cooked them a scrumptious supper, and settled in for a fun evening of talking. The next day was the perfect day to turn a year older! The weather was beautiful as we all piled into the 4runner to head to Cracker Barrel for breakfast! Then we strolled downtown Lynchburg for a bit, looking in antique shops and browsing the farmer's market, hiked Sharp Top (that is pretty much a given now with whoever comes to visit us!), and went out to eat at Abuelo's in Roanoke. On Sunday my family went to church with us and then Dad wanted to take Stuart and I out to Olive Garden for one last meal together! The whole weekend was a lot of fun, especially because I hadn't seen my parents in awhile!

Monday, Stuart had the day off of work for Labor Day, and we have been planning for weeks to make it our private celebration of my birthday. Stuart's pretty big on stuff like that, and of course I don't argue! I woke up to the great smell of pancakes, bacon, and soothing hot tea! That sweet man had sneaked out of bed to make me a birthday breakfast! And...he made me supper too! He set up a table out on the deck and grilled out steaks, baked potatoes, and made us salad as well! Then I opened the presents he had for me! It was so great! There were candles and everything. Such a great evening together!

I know I've already sent everyone thank you notes, but I just wanted say:

Dad and Mom - Thank you for the great weekend, the birthday meal, and the gorgeous antique trays! I couldn't have picked a better gift!

Harry-Sun - Love the Christie title you gave me and I cannot wait to read it! You're the best brother in the entire world!

Andy and Melissa - I have so enjoyed The Valley of Vision thus far! Thanks! Oh, and also I loved the e-card too. Bwahaha!

Liz Holbert! Your e-card just totally made my day! It was such a surprise to open up my inbox and see it there! Thank you my dear friend!

Seth and Karen - I love the Sephora gift card! There are always so many things there I want to get, but always stop myself because I don't "need" it. Now I can pamper myself a little! Happy face!

Jonathan and Denise - Love the makeup and writing pad! I remember our "sparkles" conversation we had last year sometime. I'm sure these sparkles will be perfect and not too gooky or sticky or just...weird like the other ones I've tried were.

Dad and Mom Graydon - Getting your package in the mail was such a surprise! I loved both books you sent me! I cannot wait to read the Elizabeth Prentiss title, and am eager to use some of the tips in the decorating one! Thank you!

Mary- Even though I know "technically" your gift was both to Stuart and me and was also a late wedding present, it hit right around my birthday, and so it kind of makes me think of it as one! We love that wonderful picture frame. I look at it all the time!

and know! : 0

Here are a few pictures we took over the birthday weekend....

My fab parents!

Stuart catching my reaction to a gift from my parents.

Stuart and Harry enjoying some birthday dessert!

On the Sharp Top trail! Pretty tired at this point as you can tell.....

Forgive me, but I don't have any pictures of Stuart's special dinner for me as of right now! Perhaps at a later time!

Happy birthday to me....

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Quick! I Must Write This Before I Have Something Else To Do!

So all of you won't think Stuart and I have fallen off of the face of the earth, here is a very short synopsis of our lives lately:

* Guests, Guests, Guests!
-We had Noah up for all of last week and had a ton of fun! We took him to Bojangles (of course), watched movies, and he and Stuart even had a fun "guy night" together.
- On Saturday, Noah's last day here, Phil and some of the Freeman's came up to go hiking at Peaks of Otter and eat pizza with us.
- We're meeting up with Dad Graydon tonight to eat dinner together and pick up Suzanne, who will be staying with us for a week. We have lots of fun things planned!
- Next weekend my family is coming up to stay the weekend, and help me celebrate the old birthday.

* School
- I'm currently sitting in on an English class at LU on Tuesdays and Thursdays (hurray for free education) at the request of some friends and a professor in the English Dept.
- Preparing to take the GRE, which for those of you who don't know, is the test you have to take to get into grad school...kind of like the SAT, just another level up. So, a lot of studying right now. Haha! It doesn't help that I'm pretty much horrible at taking these kinds of tests...I'm dead serious. I get all nervous under timed tests, and bored, and fidgety, and usually end up doing bad on them.

* Job Hunting
- I may have found a little something on this front. I'm in contact with a woman who runs a school and wants get someone to prep/tutor students for the SAT and critique essays and such...and that person would be me. So hopefully, that will work out. I'm not sure though.

*Normal Life
- I cook, I clean, I write letters, go to church, have quiet times, read books, take care of Stuart (not hard because he's so easy to please!), grocery shop...all of you ladies will know the drill!

So as you can see I've been pretty busy as of late! I'm very thankful for it, but it does mean I have not blogged for almost two weeks! So sorry everyone!

Have a great weekend! Do something fun!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On August, Autumn, Thunderstorms, and Life

August finds me in a bitter -sweet mood this year.

For me, I've always felt that the end of summer marked the beginning of a new year, and not January 1st. I think this is because everything in my life shifted in August and September as a small child. I moved up a grade in school, I turned a year older, and Sunday school always promoted me to the next class at the beginning of September. Everything seemed to start over, to change. While January only threw me back into the murky abyss of what I had been doing before the jolly activities of the holiday season, September whispered of new beginnings, new people, and new chances. And some goodbyes.

I've never been able to shake that feeling.

However, I'm always excited for the upcoming autumn season. It is no secret that autumn is my favorite time of year! It has been since I was a small child...autumn just seemed so right to me. And so, so beautiful. All of the best things happened around autumn. My birthday as I alluded to earlier, the excitement of a new year at school with brand new school supplies, leaves changing colors, walks in the woods near our house to collect pretty foliage, pumpkin carvings, Dad chopping up wood for the upcoming cold season, warm beef stews and roasted peanuts, and the much anticipated county fair with all of its promises of ferris wheels, caramel apples, cotton candy, and craft exhibits. I remember Harrison and I giggling nervously together as we held hands at the top of a giant sliding board, then the rush of exhilaration as we whooshed down it's curves, delighted when we landed in heaps at the bottom, safe and sound. I've seen that sliding board in recent years when I passed it at the fair. It looked so much smaller...

How can autumn be so joyous and so sad all at once? Everything is so beautiful, and yet in reality, everything is dying. Everything is changing. Everything is moving on.


My good friend Melissa and her husband Andy, are leaving Lynchburg next week and moving to Texas. Sadness. I will miss our college days, sitting together in church, and summer fun at local restaurants and bookstores. Thank you Lord, for such a good friend...and Melissa, I sincerely hope you two move back here after Andy's done with engineering school so we can raise kids together, and they can get married and we can finally be related! Ha! Have we got ambitious plans or what?

I know another part of me is sad that the school year is starting again...without me. This is the first autumn since I was 3 years old (I started school at 4, I don't think my mother could stand my begging one second longer, or my reading to everybody in the house from my hand-written, hand -bound, hand-illustrated books) that I haven't been preparing for school. And yes, I miss it terribly. Okay honestly, there is a possibility that I might be starting my Master's soon, but it won't be this autumn, and I don't know if it will happen at all. Also, it is a different kind of feeling than in years past. Whether I pursue another level in my education or not, I feel the sad ending of an entire chapter of my life. My Swan Song so to speak. And while I am ready to go on to the next thing, I will miss this wonderful part of life immensely. That feeling of knowing that every autumn will be like the one before, full of newness and learning. Now it is my turn to educate others- my students if I choose to teach, and my children as Stuart and I have little ones, and they in turn began all of the autumns of the rest of their lives.

But on to the "sweet" part of the bitter-sweet mood I'm in...

I love our new life here in Bedford, and I love being at Stuart's side for all the rest of our autumns. I love our sweet little house, dubbed Neverland by us, because it is the place made up of the love-filled dreams we talked of before we were married. Oh, how we planned and talked about having that "perfect little place of our own!" The place where our love never grows old and we are forever young, just like in the children's book. Also, the first book we ever read together was Barrie's Peter Pan, and I always thought that the first house we lived in, the first place we really settled into would be our Neverland house, where we could cook together, read together, love each other, begin our family, and never grow tired of it! Hence, our new blog title! All of our love to all of you, always!

Next up, and this may be a bit odd...thunderstorms are on my list.

I love to watch them swoop down upon our new home in little Bedford City from the majestic Blue Ridge mountains! I love to watch the beauty of the clouds darkening, love the contrast of our small, quiet home against the boisterous rumbles of the open sky, love the scented candles and cheery lamps against the hushed darkness, love dinner baking in the oven, promising something warm and comforting to Stuart and me while the summer rain slaps the roof above. Sometimes at night, we turn all of the lights off, and sit on the porch, watching the lightning light up the night like the giant lightning bugs I caught as a small girl. We listen to the rain pour down, talk about our day, hold hands together, and I know all the while that this will be one of my best memories of our time in Bedford....I took some pictures (on a sunshine filled day) of the outside of our house, because I know many of you have asked...

The master of the house and hearth (and my heart *smiles*), Stuart Frazer Graydon, III.

Front view of Neverland. Next year in the spring we want to plant lots of flowers and maybe have a little garden in the back...

Our cute little front door with our wreath, and our cute little address plaque on the side....

Stuart enjoying his lunch break on the front porch after eating, a daily occurrence. You may also notice the background construction site. We think it adds a bit of class to the joint.

Our cheery pink petunias make our porch seem more home like....

Other things that make me feel oh so "sweet" in this hot and sticky month of August?

*An endless line of loved ones who are visiting almost every weekend make our hearts soar with joy. What can be better than catching up with people you love so much and being able to give them a bed to sleep in?

*Being "home." Man, it is the greatest feeling to have one.

*I have been spending time doing what I have always loved. Writing. And that is deeply fulfilling. With or without a publisher's contract.

*Getting to know Bedford. I love driving through the city at night, windows down, everything quiet and serene....

*Stuart and I deciding to bake a "fun" recipe every single week... and this is just a guess....most of them will probably be filled to the brim with chocolate and will most likely be desserts...those of you who know Stuart will know why...

*Turning 22 in a manner of weeks! I don't why, birthdays usually aren't a big deal to me (as evidenced by the fact that Mom Graydon gave me a look several months ago and said, "Haley, I don't remember ever having celebrated your birthday! When is it?" I had to laugh because Stuart always teases me about it too.) But this year I have been so grateful for my life, and the wonderful things in it, that I am deeply moved and grateful God allowed me to arrive here and see this wonderful number of 22. I feel like celebrating my life. So.... buy me presents all of you....Haha! I'm kidding about that part!

So, you see the good things far outweigh the bad!

Well, it is pouring outside, and I need to prepare our supper.

Happy "Last Full Month of Summer" to all of you!

Our Deepest Love and Best Hugs,

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Quick Update #5

A short list of all that has been going on in our lives the last week or so:

* My sister-in-law, Crystal, and her boyfriend, Joe came up to spend the weekend with us. Stuart and I made supper for them, and later we made snacks and watched the movie Defiance, which by the way, is really intense and keeps your attention. Stuart and I had already seen it and liked it, so....that's what we did. Crystal and Joe really liked it I think...

* Saturday, we hiked Sharp Top at Peaks of Otter nearby. We packed a cooler and backpack full of goodies and had a great time.

*I fell flat on my face while hiking... yes I did. And it was really funny even to me, but unfortunately, not to Stuart....

* After hiking, we went home and got cleaned up and went to the mall in Roanoke where we ate in the food court, shopped, ordered Ben and Jerry's ice cream, and had a good time all around...

*Came home, made more snacks and watched Jumanji...went to bed.

*Went to church Sunday morning and then came home, had a quick lunch and saw Crystal and Joe off...*sniff*

Other happenings?

*I got facebook again for any of you who don't know it yet! I had it for a long time throughout college, but got rid of it for various reasons...but now Stuart and I both have one. Look us up!

*I've been re-reading some favorite books for old time's sake, including (but not limited to), And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie and Alcott's Little Women. Each time I do this, I'm like "Man, I love this book!"

*We've been having storms and constant rain here, especially during the night, which I kind of like because it makes our house seem more cozy. I just snuggle up to Stuart in bed and listen to the rain beat outside!

*I'm still job hunting, but now Stuart and I are considering some other options. Will let you know as this develops more.....and no it does not involve children...

*Harrison might be coming up again this weekend! Yay! Always happy to see my little bro!

That's about it for now! Hope all of you are doing well!


Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Bern and Beyond

As promised in my last post, I have pictures from our anniversary trip to New Bern, North Carolina last weekend. We had such good jaunts, fellow readers! The beach is about an hour away (for those readers who don't know the area), and we spent almost the entire day there on Sunday (our actual anniversary).

We both got some sun...


I got some sun.

Stuart apparently got the entire sun and tried to swallow it or something.
I've spent the last couple of nights slathering the poor soul with Aloe Vera gel and listening to him bemoan the itchiness of his state. But I digress...

We drove down on Tuesday evening after Stuart got off of work and set up house. Stuart still had to work Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, so the party didn't really get started until the weekend. But those nights were still a lot of fun. I read a book to Stuart and we took the family's paddle boat out on the water at dusk to talk and such. We also grilled out steaks and of course, made our annual trek to Books a Million where I added to my library as I always do whenever we visit New Bern. However, I will admit that this wasn't quite as exciting as it used to be, simply because I live near Barnes and Noble now (10 times better) and didn't before. But still...I love any bookstore, anytime, anywhere. And who am I to fight the New Bern tradition?

I ask you...who?

FYI- I also love Next Chapter Bookstore in downtown New Bern. Yay for used books....okay I'm moving on.

Anyways, like I said, the real fun started that weekend. I'll let you look at the pictures now and just narrate as I go. Shall we?

This first picture is of me in downtown New Bern on Saturday. We slept late, ate lunch at Schlotsky's Deli, and browsed all the local shops. We also had a treat at the Cow Cafe, which Stuart makes me call the Moo Cow Cafe, even though I argued, "That's not the name. Look at the sign." Stuart just says its family tradition and we must call it the Moo Cow Cafe in honor of the old cafe...or something like that.

The treat at Moo Cow Cafe I mentioned above was in fact a banana split. Oh sorry, I mean a Moonana Split. And believe it or not, it was a first time experience for both of us! Can you believe it? I've heard my whole life about banana splits, but never really wanted to try one. Stuart said he had never had one either and we decided to seize the opportunity to share something together for the first time. It was surprisingly good. I don't know, I just never thought of bananas and ice cream as a very appealing thought, but I'd definitely do it again. Stuart agrees with me. The picture of our first banana split...awwww...

Now here was a funny event. Not only are both of us pretty horrible at miniature golf, but a storm had come through the night before and totally soaked the course. We couldn't even play one hole because it was under water completely. And yes, Stuart beat the pants off of me. But I looked better golfing! Ha!

July 19th! Our anniversary day on the beach! It was so nice out, not too hot, borderline chilly actually. We got up early, went to IHOP for breakfast, and drove to the beach with snacks, books, cards, and sunblock (but apparently not enough). Stuart buried my feet in the sand, and I collected lots of shells for a shadow box I'm making. We also played in the ocean together, Stuart bodysurfed, I watched and laughed, threw sand at him, ran from him when he tried to rub sand all over my back, and attempted to push him into huge breaking waves ( I know, my sense of humor is sick). Stuart later said that he let me push him...hmmmm....

Stuart. Pre-sunburn. A happy and carefree man....

Were you expecting a post sunburn picture? I don't have one. Sorry. But I do have a picture of us back from the beach, all cleaned up and ready to go out to eat at The Harvey Mansion. We ate filet mignons and they were delicious. The waitress wished us a Happy 1st Anniversary! It was fun. Note: You can't see Stuart's sunburn because of his shirt. But his smile looks like a slight grimace of pain to me, don't you think? And just so you guys don't think I'm heartless and didn't look after the Baker, let me just say I asked...nay...pleaded with him to put on sunblock. Several times. But he would have none of it. I hate to say I told you I don't....I told you so!

Me having a moment. Stuart says I look better this way and I quite agree. I think it adds a certain something to my countenance. I look more intimidating. Or perhaps....psychotic? Anyway, would you approach someone with this face? I didn't think so.

The stately Harvey Mansion and restaurant. Located near the water for your viewing pleasure.

And last but not least, Studebaker cranking up the grill for some steak eatin'. One night we also bought wings and other appetizers from Hurricane's just up the street. We popped popcorn, drank Coke, and cuddled through Spiderman 3.

So now you know several things, one being that I am not responsible for Stuart's sunburned state, and another being that I love to spend money on large quantities of books. But the most important thing you know is that Stuart and I had our first wonderful anniversary together and are now, even as I type this, beginning to live the second. And that is the best anniversary present of all.

Embarking on Number Two,

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