First Field Trip of the School Year


Today has been a busy day. I got up early to go to the hospital to take pictures of a friend’s brand new baby. The new big brother was such a sweetheart to his little brother, giving kisses and loving on him without prompt.

This was a different birth photography experience for me; this was a c-section birth. I wasn’t allowed in the operating room, which was totally fine with me: better safe than sorry, right? After the delivery, however, the mom was completely immobile. I didn’t get all the shots I would have liked, so I’m going back later this week when Mom is feeling more like herself.

Midday, the kids and I went to Tuscaloosa Environmental Services to learn about our community’s recycling efforts.

One of the kids gave an awesome PowerPoint presentation to show his fellow students why we should be recycling.

IMG_0103.JPG(that’s not the student giving a presentation; that’s the recycling center tour guide)

Did you know that clothing can be made from recycled plastic bottles? Feels softer than cotton!



Blocks of aluminum cans:


While we were observing the sorting room, one of the trucks came in to unload its bounty. This is a short clip of the truck dumping the plastic bottles.

Tuscaloosa's plastic bottles #fieldtrip

A post shared by Lesliewigginsphoto (@lesliewigginsphoto) on

I’m not going to lie…there was something oddly soothing about watching all of the bottles and newspapers and cardboard boxes cascade to the floor.

After the field trip, it was time to go home for a quick lunch and an afternoon of regular school work. In other words: no fun.

We do not live within the city’s limits, so we have to take our recyclables to one of the many recycling bins located around town. I hate to admit it, but we have been throwing away so many items that can be recycled. This week we’re going to see what happens when we sort our garbage and try to make recycling a regular thing at our house.

Not a Prepper

A friendly note to readers: You may want to skip along if you’re looking to have your thoughts provoked. If you’re in the mood for mundane, journal-type blogging, well, you’ve come to the right url. Welcome to my weekend.

Friday consisted of the usual events: school and chores. One major development was that Ben cleaned out our attic.

A little backstory: one day last week, our air conditioning system malfunctioned. The temperature outside felt more comfortable than the temperature inside the house. So, I sent my oldest boy up to the attic to take a look at the magic machine that helps maintain my husband’s mood. Beneath the machine is a drip pan. When the pan fills with water, the machine stops blowing cold air. So, the boy was sent to inspect said pan. But before he could take a good look at the pan, he had to wrestle his way through a decade of kids’ fashions. He decided to win the match by body-slamming multiple bags of clothing; he threw them down the stairs where they piled themselves.

We spent some time Friday, Saturday, and Sunday sorting all of those clothes into three piles: keep, garbage, donate. I am happy to say that about 10 bags have been delivered to our local thrift store, Abbey has a “new” wardrobe for the next year, and my attic is almost empty again.

Friday afternoon Hannah and I ran some last-minute errands to prepare her for her first formal dance. (Our homeschool community puts on a fun spring formal every year for kids 8th grade and up). We bought some new makeup and feathery things for her hair. We had fun getting ready. “A Party at Gatsby’s” was a phenomenal success. All of the kids looked so sharp! I had 2 rules for Hannah: 1) Dance every dance, and 2) dance so much that you have to carry your shoes out the door when I pick you up at 11 (because everyone one knows that the mark of a great dance is not being able to stay in your shoes). She obeyed.

We spent Saturday morning down by the river picking up trash. Our local group of geocachers gets together to pick up trash throughout the year. Because Earth Day was the 22nd, Saturday was one of our clean-up days. We collected about 8 bags of garbage in an hour along the waterfront. Afterwards, we grilled burgers and hotdogs and enjoyed hanging out; it was an absolutely gorgeous day!

Saturday afternoon, the kids and I worked on sorting clothing, washing laundry, and doing random chores around the house while Karl had to remedy a work-related crisis.

Around 4:30, we met up with our caching friends again to hunt for a very difficult cache together. It was hidden in an Cold-War-era fall-out shelter. I had no idea those were even around here! We caravaned to ground zero (GZ). When we arrived, we spied the hillside doorway that led into a very dark concrete room. We gathered our courage and went in. The opening hallway made a couple of 90 degree turns until it opened up to a huge room. Y’all, it was creepy in there! Imagine standing in a room so dark that you can’t tell if your eyes are opened or closed. No amount of light made it’s way into that room. When we turned on our flashlights, we could see giant camel crickets, spiders, and bugs were scattered all over the walls. In the corners lay strange dirt/dust piles covered in bugs. There were a few broken toilets along the right wall. I’m sure there were other random things in there, but I missed them because my flashlight could only shed light exactly where I aimed; the dark kept everything else covered.

We had to call the cache’s owner to get a hint. I don’t know how we would have found it without help; it was NANO….think needle in a haystack.

Karl’s Uncle Richard treated us to dinner at Hoo’s Q, a newish barbeque joint on 15th Street. Their smoked chicken with white sauce is my favorite.

Sunday was an interesting day for some of us. I went to church. Karl slept in after working almost nonstop on that work-related crisis mentioned above. The boys went kayaking on Blue Creek. About halfway through their expedition, a thunderstorm, that we weren’t expecting until the afternoon, hit. Rain poured on them for about 2 hours, increasing the water level by about 100 cubic feet per second (I was worried until I checked the current water data. It went from less than 200 cfs to just over 300 cfs in 2 hours. At the time of this writing, the cfs for that creek is around 1500 — now that’s some white water!). Basically, the rain made their morning more fun so that they didn’t have to do as much portage over the rocks.

I had a little bit of a headache, so I took a nap in the afternoon. The boys came home around 4, at which time I listened to their kayaking adventure.

The rest of the day was spent at church, at the store, organizing items in preparation for the bad weather, and watching the tornado news out of Arkansas and Oklahoma. I am so NOT looking forward to Monday night and Tuesday. We’ve done all we can do, though. We have water, batteries, flashlights, a tarp, non-perishable food, weather radio, ham radio, helmets…I don’t know what else to do. As much as I’d like to try, I’m not much of a prepper.

You won’t waste a prayer for the southeast.


Status Update: May


That’s the number of times I’ve seen May 7th.

Say what you want about Facebook, but it is AWESOME on one’s birthday. I have thoroughly enjoyed every single one of my “Happy Birthday” messages. Several of the messages were thoughtful and helped make me feel special.

As I sit at the school table working on photos and watching Abbey do her math assignment, I feel incredibly blessed. Glad. Happy. We didn’t do anything out-of-the-ordinary; just a normal day. But it was a good day.

All I wanted was to spend the day with my people. I didn’t want anything special…just to be home and together.

I remember birthdays when I wanted anything for my birthday except to spend it with Karl and the kids. More than anything, I wanted to spend the day alone. Quiet and ponderous. I wanted Karl’s gift to be to come home from work so that I could go for a walk or go to the book store or just have a few hours to write, to do nothing and be nobody’s need. My how things have changed. Is this alteration a product of age? Or is it a product of having older children?

The reason’s not important; I’ll take it.

Finished reading…Melanie Shankle’s, Sparkly Green Earrings. It is free via Kindle right now, so I figured, why not? Lord knows I’ve read worse free books. I had not bought it because I was afraid that the book would only be recycled blog posts. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had not read any of it previously. Plus, Melanie really is hilarious. I laughed hard — so hard that my cheeks forced my eyes closed. I had to stop reading for laughter, which was annoying.

And let’s not mention how chubby my cheeks must have gotten over the years in order for them to force my eyes closed when I’m having a good laugh. Perhaps, in addition to a return to blogging, this year will see a return to exercise.

Reading…the only other books I’m reading are school-related, and I don’t want to blog about them.

Anticipating…the end our school year. Just 13 days left. Summer break, here we come! What’s something fun I can add to my summer reading list?

Geocaching…in old cemeteries. I am learning quite a bit of local history. Today, we visited the largest existing slave cemetery in Alabama. Some of the dates go back to 1819, the year Alabama became a state. You can see some of the pictures on my flickr feed. Despite there being residents nearby, no one is taking care of this cemetery. Not that it’s their responsibility, but it seems like someone would want to look after the site in order to preserve it.

Leave your summer reading recommendations in the comments!




A Tea Party

Last year, a tornado – “the” tornado – destroyed Alberta Baptist Church’s building. Open Door Baptist (my church) has been sharing a building with them ever since. While we have not combined our church families, we have been doing more and more together as time has gone on. Our children and youth groups do a lot together. So much that many of them refer to joint activities as “OpenBerta.” I love it!

Last year, because of the tornado, neither church held a women’s event. They were scheduled; however, they had to be cancelled because: a) Alberta no longer had a safe facility, and, b) both churches’ women were too busy serving in various areas throughout Tuscaloosa to play dress-up and eat chicken salad.  In fact, every event in Tuscaloosa was cancelled or postponed for months. So, you can understand why 2012’s spring events are special.

This past Saturday, OpenBerta women enjoyed a ladies’ luncheon together. Some of us put on pretty hats to eat our chicken salad. I have a garden hat. The only problem is that it looks like a garden hat; it is not fit to wear to banquets.

A handful of women decorated and hosted the tables. Each table had a unique theme and dessert. I wish I had taken the time to photo of each one. You can see more tea party photos at Lynn’s blog and Mary Kathryn’s blog.

Debbie Skinner, founder of Wisdom in Watercolor, shared from Psalm 1 about the importance of planting God’s word deep in our minds and hearts so that, when times of suffering and difficulty come along, the Holy Spirit can comfort us.

She painted while she talked.

Upon arriving in T-town, Skinner, a Tuscaloosa native, drove through some of the neighborhoods hardest hit by the tornado. She noticed that many home-less lots were dotted with beautifully blooming flower beds. The residents and their homes were gone, but flowers planted years before still bloomed. She reminded us that God’s word will be like those perennial flowers to us. Plant it deep, and the Holy Spirit will bring it up when it’s needed.

It was a nice way to spend a Saturday with my girls.

(I took this picture on a hike through Oak Mountain State Park, May 2011, when the Hollingsworths and Wiggins went camping to take a break from Tuscaloosa.)