Friends Forever just sounds like something you write in the back of someone’s yearbook. But in this case, it’s true.
I have been friends with these girls for as long as I can remember. Though we had not all been together in the same room in the last 30 years, you wouldn’t have known it from the evening we shared. We graduated from Belfry High School in 1988 and this year will be our class reunion year.
I was thinking when I thought about writing a post on our night together that when I go to the Dr he always says, "Do you smoke" "Do you drink" as standard questions. My answer is always the same, No I don’t smoke but on occasion I do have some drinks.
Turns out last night was the occasion. Whew! Ya know that moment when you beg God to let you just live through something and swear you will never do it again, welcome to my morning.
I remember now the reason that I don’t drink.
Normally I would have a ton of photos to post but it hit me that one of the things that was so awesome about the night was that I didn’t have my phone. There wasn’t really anyone else on earth that I wanted to be talking to more than the girls there with me. That doesn’t happen very often. That and the fact that everyone agreed to no facebook photos about five minutes after we got there made it easy to put my phone away.
I don’t have a memory in my life of my childhood that doesn’t include Beckie. Her mother was like my own. She would wear me out if I needed it, talk to me like I was hers and if I fell into a ditch and nearly drowned she would always be right there to save me.
Beckie was my closest friend from the time I was in Kindergarten until forever. I have hated her and loved her and most of the memories of my life would suck if she had not been a constant that could always be counted on.
Amanda came along a few years later. To be honest, I was scared to death of her when I first met her.
She is tough. But she grew on me immediately and I can not remember my life without her in it. Beckie, Amanda and I cheered in grade school together and between the two of them, and Chris Moon, I swear I can’t single out a memory that they are not part of.
My brother dated Angie and by the time I was in 7th or 8th grade she had become my sister and would become my sister-in-law and mother to my two beautiful nieces. I have a dozen Christmas ornaments that are precious to me and they are all ones that came from her over the years and I cherish them. She was beautiful and sweet and had this laugh that seriously burst from her lungs like a bullet from a gun and I can’t say the word Angie without hearing that laughter over the 48 years of my life.
Anna came in later in high school. She was this amazingly strong and hard person. At the time, I didn’t have a clue just what a survivor she really was. I was young and just like my 12-year-old son today, I had my head so far up my own butt I dint know just how much she needed me and Amanda and Beckie and Angie. I admit that my heart hurts a little now looking back that the world treated her so badly at such a young age. Her brother Mike died of AIDS and it was one of the first cases of AIDS that anyone here had ever seen so close up. It was 1987. But when I was dancing with her tonight and cracking up, I swear to you all I could think to myself was that the things that she endured, the hate, the death, the loss of her brother, just all of the things that a kid shouldn’t have to suffer, sucked but they made her the person she is today and she really is a great person. Mostly, I was just thankful that she had been added to my life and that we had so many memories together. I was also thinking that she had some awesome dance moves. LOL
I guess the thing that makes us work still today when we are all together is that you can pair up any two of us and we still work. We are all friends and we can work as a team or one on one and do anything we set our minds to. We are grown, strong, independent women but the second you reunited us we became 16-year-old girls again. For one single night, there were no kids, bills or responsibilities, just 5 five girls laughing. And dancing 😉
I am not one of those people that spends much time with friends. I love to be home and I love to be with Bill. It was effort for me to even go to be honest. But I woke up today, sick to my stomach but alive, and all I could think was how much I loved my memories with these four girls.
In life we are doing good if we just have one person who we look back and think how blessed we are to have them. If we have one friend that we know would come to us and save us if we needed them. We are lucky if we get one single person who we can say has always been a part of our lives.
But I got four. I love you girls. Lets not wait 30 more years to reunite. I am just sure I will not be able to dance like that again next time if we do.
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November 24, 2018 Today is the first day that I have been able to settle down enough to write about everything that has happened this week. We were scheduled to go to China for what was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime. We were spending 20 days in the country and visiting so many cool things. I took my 13 year old son to stay the night with his dad so we could go to the airport to catch our flights and when we got to his house it was a bit of a shock. Mikey went in first because I was scared his dad might be asleep or taking a shower since he didn’t answer the door. He slept regularly during the day so it wasn’t out of the question that he had just fallen asleep. We knocked but he didn’t answer. I knew we had visited with him and talked on Saturday to discuss the trip plans so he would know we were coming on Wednesday afternoon around 3. Mikey opened the door with his emergency key and stepped inside but I stayed out on the porch at the door and waited. Mikey said “DAD” into the dark room and he didn’t answer. I looked up and noticed that the porch light was on. Both cars were in the driveway and I started to feel a little strange. The door cracked a bit and it smelled unusual inside the house. I started to think that something was not right. I looked inside and the house had this look of something odd. I pushed the door open and stepped into the dark room and saw the rugs in the kitchen seemed a mess. The garbage looked like it looks when you leave it by mistake in the can and go on vacation. Everything happened so quickly. When I am telling the story it takes way longer to tell than it took in real time. Mikey went right to his own bedroom and said “DAD” again, but again, Mike didn’t answer. I quickly felt the need to stop Mikey and said, “Mikey wait” just as he passed me and went to his dads bedroom. He jumped. I saw his face and he screamed and ran into the room away from me and toward his dad. Hysterically he reached down to touch him. He was terrified and ran out toward me as I entered chasing behind him. Michael Jaye Baisden was there by the bed in the floor and he had died several days before. The coroner thought that he had most likely passed away on Monday between noon and 5 since using his phone we could tell when the last time he had spoke to anyone was and when calls began to go unanswered and from the condition of his remains. Today I spoke with my ex-sister-in-law and she said that a friend of hers works at the school that Mike substitute taught at and that around lunch on Monday she saw Mike in the hallway and that he didnt look like he was feeling well and he talked to here momentarily and said he thought he just needed something to eat and that later he didnt feel better and had left the school day early to go home because he was feeling bad. I ran in towards Mike’s body laying there in the floor and Mikey and I both just panicked. We were hysterical. I look back at that moment now and I just don’t even know what to say to describe the situation beyond saying that we completely lost our shit. We were incapable of reasonable thought. We were jumping up and down and bouncing about in the space trying to do something but scared to touch what was left of him and I was sick to my stomach at the site of the room. We were just not expecting it. It came out of nowhere to us. We were busy living our lives and just didn’t have it on our minds at all that it was even possible that he would be dead. When we got there we were laughing and talking on the porch when we were waiting for him to answer the door and we made jokes that now we both look back at with regret. Mikey was expecting his dad to sell his truck the day before and he was looking forward to the video game that he had promised Mikey with the proceeds from the sale. The truck was still there and Mikey was complaining that he wasn’t going to get his game. Neither of us had a single thought in our minds that our entire world was going to change in just the turn of the knob on the door. Mikey kept screaming for me to touch him and saying, “Mom, Is he dead” ??? I finally got my senses enough to say Mikey come on and lets go to the porch. I took him outside and went back in to look at him to see if there was anything I could do and when I saw him the next time it was apparent to me that he had been there for some time and that he in fact was gone. I can’t say how long I stood there and looked at him frozen in that moment. Long enough that…About this event
Nov 21, 2018 Check them out in my Etsy Shop ;:) Today is finally here. I swear I am so excited. Over the last couple years we have grown to be more and more comfortable with our travels but this last 12 months, 2017 – 2018 will go down in history as the year of amazing adventures for sure. We started out last February with a trip to Venice for Carnival. We made our costumes and got to travel there and spend a couple weeks enjoying the most amazing city. Then we took Mikey with us and took a trip to London where we got to see Stonehenge and many other awesome sites. We went on to a cruise of the Mediterranean with stops in Croatia, Greece, Montenegro and Dubrovnik and Olympia Greece. Bill and I then took a trip in February to Paris where we got to spend the most amazing time in the city that we love so much. We visited Egypt and saw the pyramids and now we are headed to the number one thing on our life bucket list. THE GREAT WALL of China !!! No year can ever top that. But we sure are gonna try !!! My aunt is staying with Mikey at our house so we are excited by the fact that he will be at home and safe and we wont have to worry about the house or him. People keep asking me if I used a travel agent to plan the adventure. I did not. I love the planning. I love sitting down at my computer with the map and google and searching the world over for the next location. Once I get that down, I start looking for things that are in the same general area that we might not plan an entire trip around that we want to grab seeing while we are in the area. In this case, the next thing on the bucket list was Angkor Wat, Cambodia so we added it to this trip. There are not a lot of things in China that we think we will want to go on a return visit for so we were trying to make sure that we saw all the major things in the country on this trip. That made it grow in size to something that boggles my mind, LOL. When we started it was a week and a half. Now its 20 days. That is the longest time I have ever spent away from my child so that part sucks but the things we will see will be amazing and I swear I begged him to go with us. The flights over to China will take us about 24 hours to complete. We leave Charleston WV on Nov 21 at 2:00am (the night of the 21st and morning of the 22nd) and we land in China the next day, Thursday at 5pm. Once we get on our last flight in the US we fly from Detroit to China directly and are in the air for something like 12 hours on that leg. Heck, Maybe even more. The time changes a lot while we fly on this one so it’s a bit confusing. We have decided that someday, maybe we will go back to China and stay in a hotel for 6 months or a year. Maybe, someday. We are getting a little old so maybe is a big word 🙂 A funny story about us, when we were dating we went to Florida on our first trip together and we traveled so badly together that we broke up on the plane headed home. We just didn’t enjoy each other at all on the trip. I remember thinking that I would never travel anyplace else with this man. LOL Now, He is my very best friend on earth and my travel buddy for life. I say all the time that I am the luckiest girl in the world and I promise you I am. We travel so well together now, it is so smooth that we plan the trips ourselves because we enjoy the planning part almost as much as we enjoy actually going. I’m not saying that everything always goes perfect. It doesn’t. Every trip has things that goes wrong and we find that we missed something because of the thing that we didn’t know. But we have learnt to deal with those things really well together and those things usually become such fun stories to tell that it becomes worth the madness at the time. Anyway, we are excited and cant wait to get on the plane. On this trip we are planning to take more video than we usually do on trips. We keep promising ourselves that we will do more filming. Fingers crossed that we keep our promise on this trip. Either way, we will take lots of photos and post them here each day of the adventures in China. Thanks for reading about our trip and sharing in our excitement. Bill & Wendy Richardson ________________________________________________________________ As promised to a dozen people I am putting the cost of the trip at the bottom of each days posts so we can tally up what it would cost to do the trip for those of you who want to copy our trip itinerary to build your own trip. The flights over to China and from…About this event
I love it when I feel creative. But it is extra fun when someone commissions you to create what they want, what they have in their head and you have to find a way to get it out of their brain, into yours and then into the real world. That’s what happened with the Alma Digital Planner. A customer contacted me to ask if another item that I had previously created could come in pink. Then the fun started. These digital planners are created to be used in the GoodNotes app on the Apple iPad. Some people do use them in Android devices but I don’t know a thing about that so I am not a good person to even ask if everything works as it should inside Android. When I make them, they are headed from my head to an Apple iPad device. This is the original design that I created and then this is the new one in pink that I made for my Etsy customer. Are they not absolutely adorable !? I am shocked by how expensive most digital planners are. I do know that it takes forever to create them. But I also think that an app on an iPad should never cost 25.00 ! All my digital items top out at 9.99 and hopefully over time those lower costs will catch on and people will start to realize what a great buy that is for the amazing digital products I create. I hope you will go over to my Etsy shop and give my digital products a try. But if you click on the contact button on this website and send me a message letting me know that you read this post, I will send you a sample digital iPad planner item for FREE. Please like, subscribe, share, follow, Help spread the word about this site and help me grow my new business. WendyAbout this event
I am so excited to share my newest item in my Etsy shop. They turned out even cuter than they were in my brain late last night. I spent half the night and all of today getting them out of my head and onto the iPad. How cute are they ! I made two different versions so far. There are about four more half started so I could get the idea out of my brain. Those will be coming soon to the Etsy shop. Hope you enjoy them. They are perfect for little things you want to keep track of, out of your regular planner. Diet and Exercise, Brain Dumps, Names and Addresses that keep getting lost in the clutter of everything else, just anything you want to keep up with in a cute little way, out of your regular planner. This is the way to go. Only $9.99 in my Etsy shop.About this event
My husband and I have a bucket list. We pretty much sit around on our day jobs and do the things that are required of us, but secretly in our minds we are always thinking about where we will go next. Once we decided that we were going to just go straight to the top of the bucket list and clear off China (the number one must do thing on our list) it became a rush to the airport for us. That’s pretty much how most of our trips happen. One minute we are dreaming and the next we are booking tickets. I admit that this one has taken me a little by surprise in the budgeting. At this moment, I am about $1500.00 over budget on what I thought it was going to cost. One of the things I most tell people when they ask me about trip planning is to allow a markup for the things you don’t know. Something like 20-25% usually will cover it for us. This trip has, however, exceeded that for sure. I suppose, it probably speaks to my inexperience that I didn’t budget in for the cost of a visa to either China or Cambodia. Within a week of our purchasing our tickets we realized we needed to get our butts in gear fast to round those up. We used a company called Travisa for getting the Visa in China. We live in West Virginia so the nearest offices for the visa would be Washington, DC. I considered driving there myself, 6 hours one way, but in the end, did the math and determined that my lack of experience with the process could result in my having to drive there, do it wrong, drive home and then pay the company to do it. So I bucked up and ordered the kit and sent our passports to them the next day. The way it works is fairly simple. Pay them the fees, print and fill out all the papers that they send you, sign everything and put all the required documents with the forms and your passports (good for at least six months past the date of travel) and drop it into the Fed-ex box and wait. The wait was only 24 hours before our first communications came back. The company does a fantastic job keeping you updated on where you are in the process. Today the lady informed me that our bill was ready and the visa should be ready by next week and once payment was cleared they would ship our visa and passport back to us by overnight delivery and we should be ready to go. (Did I mention the wait part?) In stark contrast to that, the Cambodian visas were a much simpler process. I used this website and filled out the paperwork online and provided everything, including a digital version of our passport photo for the visa and paid the fees associated. Within an hour, I had both mine and my husbands visas applied for and within 10 hours I had both of them printed and in my hand ready to go. You can apply for a Cambodian Visa at the airport when you land in the country but because neither my husband or I understand the language we try to take care of everything that we can in advance of a trip to a country that will be hard to communicate in. The visa for China has not been approved yet but hopefully we will have it in hand this time next week and I can go back to sleeping at night instead of refreshing the page just in case they send me an email for any more information that I haven’t already provided. When you apply for a visa for China you need to provide quite a bit of information. I was actually pretty impressed with their system and how much information they required for a tourist to visit the country. A US Passport that is good for at least 6 months longer than your trip dates. I imagine always that is because if heaven forbid something happens and you get sick and stuck in their country or some other unforeseen set of circumstances should happen that you didn’t get home on time you would still have a passport that was valid when it was time to come home. Yikes, lets don’t think about that. A list of every single place that you will go, sleep and be during the trip. You provide these and they literally register you with the US Embassy in the places you will visit so that you are accounted for while in the other country with both the other country and with the American government. This makes me feel safe in several ways. A copy of your flights, tickets and hotel reservations, etc. A letter of invitation from the person who has asked you to stay with them or visit them and all sorts of information on that person are visiting them, if that is the case. I didn’t have to do this because of course, I don’t know anyone in China. They ask about your history, family to contact in emergencies and all the normal stuff that you would expect as well. Several questions asked what your plans were and why you wanted to visit China. That was not…About this event
Over the last couple years we have been blessed to get to travel. I have seen so many amazing things, I can’t even count. But the list of things that we still want to see is far longer than the list of ones we have already enjoyed. The Great Wall of China is always at the top of a bucket list. So we have decided to take one last trip this year to mark that one off while we are still able. I know, it sounds like I think I wont have enough time to see everything. My 13 year old son said “Mom, are you sure that you don’t have cancer or something that you are not telling me” when I told him that we were going to China. I don’t feel like I am in a hurry. But I do feel like when I leave this world I am going to not have gotten to see all the amazing things that I want to see. The truth is, so many of my friends and family say to me, YOU ARE CRAZY FOR GOING THERE when I am planning trips. Or, I AM NEVER GOING THERE, is pretty common as well. I was around 45 when I started traveling with my husband and I cant tell you how much the experiences have changed my every day life. When I eat, I have a new found appreciation for all the many choices that I have in America. When I drive my car, I find myself praying while driving, thanking God for the opportunities that I have had and the freedom to go where I wish, when I wish. Every aspect of my life has been altered by the time and sights I have seen while traveling. And Bill likes to say that good travel makes you want good travel. I have a sign in my bedroom that says, Travel is the only thing you can spend money on that makes you richer. That’s so true. We can hardly wait for our November trip to China. I have been hard at the planning stage and almost have it entirely figured out. When I first started traveling I remember how scared I was. I still have moments that I have fears. But the rewards always out weight the stress or worry. Sometimes, we get lost. Sometimes, we can’t understand what people are saying. Sometimes, I even cry. But it is ALWAYS worth it for the experience. Our list of thing to see in China: The Great Wall Beijing City The Forbidden City The Temple of Heaven Tiananmen Square The Avatar Mountains Tianzi Mountain Cable Car Fenghuang City Hauihua & Changsha Guilin and the Li River Angkor Wat in Cambodia The current bucket list items is as follows: The Great Wall of China Angkor Wat, Cambodia Machu Picchu in Peru The Taj Mahal in Agra, India Petra in Jordan The Red Sea The Leaning Tower of Pisa The old city of Jerusalem & places where Jesus lived Berlin and the Berlin Wall Run with the Bulls in Spain Go to the Cannes Film Festival in France See the city of Naples and visit Mt Vesuvius The City of Pompeii Visit the Amalfi Coast in Italy Sicily Cinque Terre Point Go to Ireland See Edinburgh Visit the Krampus Parade in Austria La Biennale di Venezia Arsenale in Venice, Italy Visit Seville Spain and Semana Santa: Bellavista Visit the Day of the Dead in Mexico City Morocco Switzerland Galapagos Islands Hermitage Museum The Haag Museum Stay in an Ice Hotel Prague Warsaw Madagascar Dubai Go on Safari in Africa Brussels Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro (And a visit during the time of the Carnival Festival) A few things we hope to see eventually: Channel Tunnel, Strait of Dover CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario Canada Golden Gate Bridge in California Panama Canal Washington State & Mount Rushmore Victoria Falls Mount Everest The Great Barrier Reef in Austrailia The South Pole The Amazon Rainforest Some of the other amazing things we have already seen: The Roman Colosseum Stonehenge The location of the Statue of Zeus at Olympia The Pyramids of Giza & The Great Sphinx The Belize Barrier Reef Hoover Dam The Grand Canyon Paris London Egypt Milan & The Last Supper Florence Split in Croatia Amsterdam Dubrovnik Olympia and the first Olympic Stadium Greece Athens, The Acropolis Carnevale Venice Istanbul Bath, England Belize Cayman Islands Jamaica Dominican Republic Turks and Caicos San Juan Puerto Rico St Croix St John Cockburn Town Key West Florida Nassau The Bahamas Cozomel Cancun Mexico A few things out west we want to visit: Yellowstone National Park Mount Rushmore Redwood National Park Antelope Canyon Burning Man Festival Petrified Forest South Rim of the Grand Canyon Hoover Dam (Again) Lower Antelope Canyon Bryce Canyon I think everyone has a bucket list, right ? Ours keeps growing. We see new things in books and movies and before you know it the list needs revisions. I hope when my life is over there will be many more things that I clear from this list. But if I have to leave this life sooner than expected, I am so grateful for each and every single thing that I have already gotten to see.About this event
My husband is a talented writer. He writes kids books, adult only scary books with somewhat of a twisted view of things, comics, graphic novels and sweet poems and so much more. I am always amazed at the things he writes. He really doesn’t have a specific type of writing. He can write something about a sweet lover one minute and a zombie eating his children the next. I love to watch him create. Check out his work at www.BilRichardson.com.About this event
Belfry Middle School Football ? ? ? I’m old. But these coaches are not spring chickens. They are grown men with kids, lives, jobs and families of their own and it is no easy task for them to raise one good boy. But they are raising 40 of them. They influence their lives and what they will become as much as their parents do and sometimes, more. Certainly, they deserve our gratitude for all they do for our boys. Today I watched a ballgame. That doesn’t sound special maybe to those of you who watch ballgames on a regular basis but to me it was nearly a religious experience. I started the morning off following the bus. My first time ever following a school bus filled with middle school football players. 40 boys, one that was my own and 39 that I pretty much didn’t know. Dear God, please wrap your hands about this bus and take it safe to its destination and touch the bodies of each and every precious player on board. Please bring them all home safe to their beds tonight…. I prayed while I drove along the way. My son is 13 and he is starting at a new school this year. It will be his first public school experience in 6 years. I am nervous for him. He doesn’t know any of the other kids at the new school and he really doesn’t know what to expect. So, when he said he wanted to play football this year I was shocked and figured that he would try it but quit because it would be exceptionally hard. I was correct about the hard part. I didn’t realize the amount of laundry that would come with playing football. I didn’t realize the amount of my own personal time that would be consumed with practice. I didn’t realize how stressful it would be to watch him play and worry over his physical ability to endure all that it would require from him. I didn’t realize how many ice packs and heating pads and soaks in bath salts it would require to help him to adjust to the practices and games. I certainly didn’t realize how impressed I was going to be with him and the other boys and most especially, with the coaches. I was sitting in the stands today and I noticed that a few moms from an opposing team where running along the side of the field where the team stands, and they screamed into the game and bossed their kids on every play. I was mortified for their kids. Our coach had just sat down for a moment of rest between the games and he was beside me when I leaned over and asked if it would be okay for our moms to start huddling in and coaching from the sideline. I knew what his answer would be, but I giggled as I asked and listened to his answer. Everything is harder when you are 13. Everything is more dramatic, more embarrassing and more humiliating. I am absolutely certain that to my son it feels as if he is an outsider and that he doesn’t have a friend in the world at the moment, so I thought letting him be on the football team would help him to assimilate a bit easier into his new school and life. I was thinking today while driving behind the bus about how hard this has been for my son and feeling so proud of him for tackling this adventure head on. The entire thing has been horribly hard on him physically. He is mine, but I have to say, he’s a good kid and in spite of the fact that he can hardly climb the steps in our house he has been in so much pain, he gets up and puts his uniform on and goes back to practice every day. I sat on the bleachers in the heat today for about 5 hours and I drank ten bottles of water while there. I felt so hot and overwhelmed by the heat that I wanted to bend over and vomit once or twice. I couldn’t bring myself to complain because I knew that whatever I was feeling, those 40 boys had to be feeling it much more in their uniforms while running in the game. I ask myself daily, why do they continue to do this? Why don’t they quit? But I think I figured out the answer. On the second day of my sons practices he was struggling so hard and was literally vomiting he felt so physically drained. He was pushing as hard as he could, but he just felt so sick that he didn’t think he could go on. I saw him walk over to the coach and say he just couldn’t do it and quit. He started to walk off the field toward the locker room and I admittedly felt some relief at that moment. As he got to the center of the field I saw Coach Oliver grab him and say Where are you going? My sons motions from across the field translated in my mind as him saying I am so sick and I just can not run one more step. I quit. I sat there with my eyes stuck to the situation like they had been gorilla glued to the back of my…About this event