Archive | Small Town Life

A Hairbow Tutorial and the Last Day to Get Your Guesses In!

This past Friday was our town’s homecoming game (we won 56-0) and to celebrate there’s a pep rally at all the schools, early release for a parade, an elementary school tailgate, and then the game.

Yeah, homecoming is a BIG deal ’round these parts.

I’m the co-room mom for Moseby’s kindergarten class and I made paw print pins with ribbons, noise makers (water bottles with popcorn), and hair bows for the girls in his class.

I made the pins and the noise makers when MM was in kindergarten, but hair bows? I’ve NEVER made a single one. Lord knows I’ve bought ’em, but I never made one!

So one night I just sat down, found a YouTube video (here’s the link to it–it’s super easy!) and got to work.

And this is what I made!

Not bad, huh? I followed the tutorial and the bows are on the smallish side–like 3″, I guess–which is perfect for girls 6 and under. I made a bigger one for MM that was probably more like 5″ across.

It took me like 1.5 hours to make these ten bows which I really don’t think is that bad for a first timer!

In other news today is the LAST DAY to vote for what you think Baby B. will be! The winner will get a Starbucks gift card–eek!

(You can vote here, on my Facebook page, or on my Instagram! All you gotta do is put your answers in a comment–no need to fill out the form!)

hbp_0087_babyforecast_Natalie Cooper_final

Just to give you some hints: my due date is technically November 13-21, but baby will arrive no later than November 14. As of last Friday it was already 18″ long and 6 pounds, 4 ounces…and has hair & eyelashes! Hopefully that will help you out a bit. ūüėČ


Need Teacher Appreciation Week or Teacher End of Year Gift Ideas?

I thought I would share my standard end of year gifts for MM’s teachers ’cause I think they’re pretty cute.

And I’m a teacher (finishing up my 13th year in a couple of weeks…how am I¬†that old?!) so I think I have a pretty good idea what teachers like. I haven’t been a classroom teacher in like eight years though so I just fantasize about end of year gifts now, ha!!

First what *I* don’t like (and have received): apple-themed items, cheap pens, jewelry, strange/out of date candy, wooden painted pins (or really any pins), cheap heavily scented lotions or candles.

Now what do I like: personalized anything, gift cards (even $5 ones), scratch off lottery tickets, fun-colored Sharpies or felt-tipped pens, handmade cards from kids

At the beginning of every school year I send all of MM’s teachers a questionnaire to fill out. I ask them their favorite snacks, drinks, stores, hobbies, etc. to get a list of their preferences. Then throughout the year I try to send them one of their favorite things each month. (I even make a spreadsheet and keep it in my purse; I’m such a dork)

Anyway, here’s my go-to end of the year gift–a summer fun bag:

may 11. muffins with mom. teacher gifts_0007_edited-1

  1. A personalized tote bag
  2. A personalized beach towel
  3. Some kind of personalized cup

Then I also add either sunscreen, a magazine, sunglasses, favorite candy, or something else personalized. (This year we did sunglasses, a personalized cosmetic bag, snack, and homemade flower arrangements too).

may 11. muffins with mom. teacher gifts_0008_edited-1

For MM’s specials teachers, counselor, assistant principal, and principal we did $5 gift cards to Starbucks, their favorite candy, and flowers (for the ladies). I never leave out the specials teachers because I know what it’s like to not get any gifts {do I need some cheese to go with my whine?!}.

may 11. muffins with mom. teacher gifts_0009_edited-1

And that’s our gifts for the year! What are you getting your kiddos’ teachers? …or if you’re a teacher anything I should add to my no-no list? haha ūüėČ

Oh, and guess who’s last preschool Muffins with Mom I attended yesterday? This big guy. Oh, how the years have flown!

may 11. muffins with mom. teacher gifts_0003_edited-1

And he filled out the annual Mother’s Day questionnaire about me. He got some of them right (I drink water 99% of the time and I hug him constantly and I love me some yoga) and some of them wrong (I am NOT 50 years old and birds scare me to death).

may 11. muffins with mom. teacher gifts_0006_edited-1


Spring Festival Ballet Preformance

So last weekend MM got to preform in our little town’s spring festival.¬†

Ballet Performance at Historic Buford Festival, May 5th
MM is on the far right…that bob was tough getting into a bun!

It was a mighty big deal for a three year old, let me tell you.

Ballet Performance at Historic Buford Festival, May 5th

She and three of her classmates danced to Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear Turn Around and it was precious.

Ballet Performance at Historic Buford Festival, May 5th
She’s on the far left.

Ballet Performance at Historic Buford Festival, May 5th

Ballet Performance at Historic Buford Festival, May 5th

Ballet Performance at Historic Buford Festival, May 5th

MM did such a good job watching her teacher and doing the moves.  So proud of my little ballerina!

Ballet Performance at Historic Buford Festival, May 5th
Nothing like a celebratory snow cone to end a great day!

And Moseby?¬† Well, he spent the performance watching it from under his daddy’s hat ’cause it was so sunny¬†{love his reaction to that} and relaxing in the car.

Ballet Performance at Historic Buford Festival, May 5th

Ballet Performance at Historic Buford Festival, May 5th


Eleanor Jane

The first time I met Miss Eleanor it was an early July afternoon and the temperature boiling.¬† She had put a small ‘For Sale’ sign in her front yard earlier that week, so small that it was not much bigger than a greeting card, knowing that someone would come.

We were those someones.  It was our destiny.

She let us in her home where honestly it wasn’t much cooler inside than outside on that summer day.¬† All the windows were closed and there was but one fan whizzing by somewhere in the back of the house.¬† It was trying its hardest to produce some sort of cold air so she could sit in her recliner, watch the news, and talk on the phone all day to her friends.¬†

{I’m sure we were the topic of her conversation that day.}

Within five seconds of walking through that door I knew.  I spied the corner of a beautiful fireplace with a summer screen.  If she had given me the opportunity I would have signed the contract right there.

There was something special about her homeplace.  Something so full of history and wonderful and already such a part of my soul.

I’ve said before it was like a dance to buy her home.¬† During the almost three month process we never mentioned money to her and all legalities of attorneys and closing dates and such were passed through her niece and then told to her after we left.¬† If she had anything to say about the sell it was told to Margaret who relayed it to us.

Miss Eleanor was a strong-willed, stubborn lady in her late 70s then.¬† She had never married and was what my mama calls a “change of life” baby meaning that by the time she was born her three older siblings were basically grown.¬† Her father died when she was a small child which left her and her mama to fend for themselves together.¬† She was strong and had opinions and could give you a sideways glance and an upturned mouth¬†that would cut right through you.¬†

But boy did I love her from the start.

She let me ask question after question after question.¬† Yes, of course she remembered when her mama bought that Hotpoint stove in 1939 {it had replaced their wood burning two-eyed Jack after all}.¬† Yes, she remembered when they put the radiators in and stopped using the fireplaces.¬† She even remembered the man’s name who did in the early 40s and she would spell out each letter which I wrote it down in the big notebook I carried around with me whenever I was with her.¬† She told me about the drunk boarder who once fell thirty feet over the stair railing who just got up and walked away laughing.¬† About the World War II soliders being shipped off to war who would let slips of paper with their names and addresses float out of the train windows as it carried them to ships that would take them to other countries to fight.

She wrote to several and one even came calling after the war.  But he lived too far away and she wanted to stay with her mama and her small town.

She worked at the phone company for years and always wore high heels.  She was pretty with beautiful hair and was impeccably dressed.

And when I got to meet her that first day she was sharp as a tack, smart, and inquisitive about why exactly these two young people wanted to live in such an old house.¬† Why didn’t we want to go live in a nice, new house in a subdivision?¬† Because that’s what she was going to do!

During the restoration I thought about her constantly.¬† ‘What would Miss Eleanor think of this paint color?’¬† ‘Will she be upset we tore down this wall to make a mudroom?’¬† ‘Will she think the house is pretty?’

She came to see it five months later when we had finised.¬† She talked on the front porch for almost an hour before she made it inside, almost as if she wasn’t sure if she was going to like what she saw.¬† She didn’t say much as she walked around, just a little ‘Hmpf’ every once in awhile.¬† Finally, when she came back outside she said in her matter-of-fact, never sugar coating what she had to say way, ‘Well, I’m not sure if it’s what you were going for, but it looks just like it did in the 1940s!’

We assured her that it was indeed the look we were going for and she looked at us like we were crazy and shook her head.

I talked to her a few weeks ago about a myseterious water leak on the outside of our house to see if she knew where it was coming from.¬† We had looked for hours and had called her as a last resort.¬† Of course she knew were it was coming from and she remembered who installed the pipe fifty years ago too…if I wanted to write his name down in my notebook.

When we told her we were naming our daughter after all she said, ‘Well, now, that is special’ and left it at that.¬† But I know¬†it made her proud as she was always calling to check on Mary Margaret Eleanor {she always made sure to call her by all three names} and sending her little mementos signed “With Love, From the Other Eleanor”.¬† I hope she realized how much she meant to us.

I loved her sassiness.  And her kindness {and patience} towards me.  I loved her strength and resillence.  I loved her with my whole heart. 

When I heard this morning that she had passed away last night I was so sad at first.¬† And honestly if you looked at me right now with tears rolling down my cheeks you would think I still was.¬† But I know she is in heaven with her daddy and mama and her brother and sisters–all of who she hasn’t seen in a very long time and I know she is thrilled.

But that doesn’t stop my heart from hurting.

We love you, Miss Eleanor.   You have left an imprint on our hearts.


C., Natalie, Mary Margaret Eleanor, and Moseby


Our Halloween Evening, in Pictures

Call me crazy {you probably have before, huh?}, but I love…LOVE…that we live in a historic downtown. ¬†I love that so many of our neighbors are friends. ¬†And I love that all the houses MM trick-or-treated at were old homes that have seen decades upon decades of little goblins, ghouls, witches, and brown bears in corduroy overalls.

…even if it means walking and walking and walking while MM “drove” her little pink car down one tree-lined street after another. ¬†This ain’t no subdivision–in our little downtown you work off those candy calories pretty easily.

So here are the pictures in chronological order…I think you can definitely can see the more chocolate MM ate by the more haphazard her costume became as the night wore on.

halloween night_0003

Ready to go! {This is a picture of someone on a mission for chocolate!}

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First step: getting her candy from Memaw in our carriage house.

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Walking up to Mr. Steve + Ms. Jill’s front door.

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Not only did she get treats, but also a stuffed horse!

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On the road…err, sidewalk…again.

halloween night_0013

Those steps look awfully big for such a small girl.

…at some point her ears got broken {won’t name names, MM}.

halloween night_0018

She LOVED ringing doorbells and knocking on doors. Not as much as the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups she got, but close.

halloween night_0021

At first she was scared to death of the rat, but after awhile she was his friend.

halloween night_0022

A little rest for the weary trick-or-treaters {notice that crazed sugar-induced look in her eyes? Uhm, yeah, she snacked A LOT tonight.}

halloween night_0026

And one last house. Aunt Jen-Jen and Mamaw came and picked her up so the rest of us could stay and have our annual Halloween dinner.

This was the best Halloween yet…and I think it’s only going to get better. ¬†Can’t wait.


Just a Walk in the Park, uhm, Cemetery

This afternoon was a beautiful day for a walk.  So I loaded up MM with her juice and apple sauce and off we went up the street in her little wagon.


The air was damp and cool from our morning rain and the leaves crunched under our feet.


As we walked we pointed out the things we saw: cat, tree, train, and shoes {on our feet}. ¬†She talked about who she wanted to see: “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!”


We had quiet moments where we just looked around us.  I saw beautiful old windows in a house that is under restoration.  She watched the squirrels jumping from tree-to-tree on their hunt for acorns and pecans.


We were on our way to the city cemetery–one of our favorite walking destinations. ¬†MM always loves to run through the grass and sit on the “little walls”. ¬†That’s what I call the small borders of granite and marble that are along each family’s plot.


We stop by and see relatives.

We check on the graves of the people for who our house is named.


And you know, originally I was going to make this a spooky Halloween post with black and white photographs of the tombstones, but I realize that’s not our little city cemetery at all.

It’s a peaceful, non-threatening place and one that we really enjoy visiting.



Small Town Parade

waiting for the parade to start

The city where we live has its own locally-controlled independent school system–the only one in the state, in fact. ¬†It’s a small school system and has a very hometown feel. ¬†It’s like you’re either related to or know every one of your kid’s friends…and their grandparents, and their great-grandparents. ¬†You get the idea.

marching band

But it still took me a long time {okay, okay 8 months} to buy MM her first wolves shirt. ¬†You see, I {as well as my mother and father} went to the big rival high school down the road and it’s a hard pill to swallow to cheer on this team.

waving to get candy

But it’s getting easier and I’m sure I won’t have any problems at all in four years sending MM to off to school in her green and khaki uniform…though I will always bleed red and black, of course.

homecoming parade_0014

Last night Buford had their homecoming game.


They won, of course {they’ve only lost one game in the past four seasons and are the reigning state champions}, 48-2. ¬†Doesn’t that mean they officially “whooped” the other team? ¬†I think so.

football players

Anyway, before the homecoming game there is the homecoming parade.

a line of beauty queens

It goes right through our downtown and there are beauty queens, the marching band, and more cheerleaders and football players than you can shake a stick at.

bms cheerleaders

They throw candy to the little kids and MM had an absolute blast.  Especially when she saw two of her cousins in the parade.


I couldn’t help but wonder as I watched the parade yesterday, will MM be a part of that one day? ¬†Will she be a cheerleader or in student government? ¬†Will she work on a float or march in the band? ¬†Will she hang out with her friends watching the parade? ¬†It made me smile.


I love our little town and our little traditions…and our big football team. ¬†Go Wolves!

the shirt says it all


My Perfect, Little, Southern Hometown

I live in a great place.  {You can see a walk I took with my then-puppy, Vivi, around town by clicking here}


And a place where my family has lived since the 1830s.  They came here from Ireland via Charleston.

My whole family is here, it seems.  My mother went to the same elementary school as me and I was taught by two cousins.  My dad and mom both went to my high school.  My grandparents went to a neighboring (and our rival) school.  At the church where I grew up I was basically related to everyone there.


And then there’s the whole “they’re not family, but we’ve known them for 100 years” people in my little town. ¬†That is¬†how we got our house, after all, because I had so much family here that knew the woman selling.

I cannot go to Walmart or to dinner or to the movies without seeing countless people I know.

And I love that. ¬†And I love that Mary Margaret is going to grow up experiencing the same things I did. ¬†Not only is this my¬†hometown, but it’s now her¬†hometown too. ¬†And I think we’re pretty dang lucky.


I’m a Big Kid Now

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!¬†

This afternoon we stopped by our small playground in our little downtown to give MM a chance to try out the big kids’ toys. ¬†It’s just a small park, but to her I’m sure it seemed giant.


If she could talk I’m sure it would sound something like this, ‘So many things to do! ¬†What should we try first, Dad?’


First up, the swings. ¬†And…she HATED them. ¬†I think this photograph shows the intensity of her feelings towards the swings. ¬†We got off them pretty quick, as you can imagine.


Next up was the slide.  She loves the slide and wanted to do it again and again.


But her most favorite part of the playground?  This yellow tube-like thing she could crawl through.  She spent a loooooong time crawling around in it!


I know this was just the first of many, many trips to Beard Park we’ll be making in the years to come.


Well, We Survived the Party

Our little shindig started last night at 7pm.¬† The last two couples didn’t leave until after midnight so I think it was a pretty good party.¬† And it was a perfect night to have it on our front porch–very breezy (Thank you, Tropical Storm Fay) and a nice 75 degrees.¬† There were about twelve couples and we had a very good time…and our house looked pretty good too!¬† Unfortunately, my camera died after four pictures and it was too late to recharge the battery before everyone got here.¬† Oh well, here’s what I took:






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