Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Packing for a bittersweet trip to WR...sniff, sniff

This is an article in the Middle GA paper today. My dad forwarded it this morning ago and I have had several calls/emails already as people have seen it themselves. Evelyn's was such a BIG part in my life growing up and it is sad to see that end, even though it hasn't been the same as I remember in a long time. Change is hard sometimes, isn't it?

I remember my mom picking me up from elementary school and heading to the store. We'd go in through the back door (where on the outside wall there is still a patch of tar that I promise looks like a witch) and I'd run to Grandmama's office. Back in those days she ALWAYS had a blouse that had a bow tied around the neck and I LOVED to untie it even though I am sure it was horribly annoying! Mom would give me a dollar or two and I'd run across to Eckard (at that time a pharmacy and small diner in the mall) and get a snack. I'd bring it back and go see Arlette, our seamstress, and put all her threads in color order. I'd find Loretta who would let me sit on the checkout countertop and talk to the customers...unless Grandmama was coming. Sitting on the counter was NOT allowed and Loretta would toss me under until Grandmama had passed. I would talk to each lady checking out and feel like such a big girl!

On the really lucky days I might get to turn the crank on the bow maker and help make bows for packages. Or, I could sneak into the glass doored wedding dress section and pick up the fallen sequins and beads. Those were treasures and I saved them each day. There was a room behind the wedding dress section that seemed dark and I hated having to go back there, it scared me! Loretta always in charge of the windows and every once in a while I could sneak in while she was changing manequins and watch people walking in the mall from the window. Plus, there were rocks made of foam and I thought they were so neat (remember I was little!).

I knew the sound of Grandmama's heals when she walked across the brick in the middle of the store. I knew not to mess with the jewelry in the counter or I'd be in trouble! When a bride tried on wedding dresses I would sit quietly on the big round couch and watch her turn in circles in front of the mirror. I think I thought they were princesses! I drove Grandmama crazy when I'd come in the door 2 days before Prom or some other formal needing a dress. I'd had months to pick exactly what I wanted off the racks and I would NEVER try on anything until a couple days before. I don't know why!

I knew so many of the ladies who shopped in the store and was so LOVED on by all that worked there. It was a wonderful way to grow up surrounded by women that grew with me. That is why it has been so neat to take Matney to the store and hang out with Grandmama and Loretta. They watch her roll around and tell all sorts of stories about me...some of them I am glad Matney isn't old enough to hear!

Jared and I are heading down to help close things up (he's a keeper for his man strength alone!) and it will be bittersweet. A trip to WR will never feel ths same without the opportunity to swing by the store to see Loretta. She and Sandy have both been such loyal friends to our family. I know that Grandmama will find something to do with her time but I can only imagine how hard it will be to turn that key a final time. What a legacy she has left in WR and what a legacy Evelyn's left in my in life.

Longtime Warner Robins women’s-wear store Evelyn’s closing

By Chuck Thompson

WARNER ROBINS — Come Wednesday evening, Fanise Strickland will lock the doors and turn out the lights on an institution.

After more than 60 years as the place to go for prom, wedding and other formal women’s wear, Evelyn’s, believed to be the second-oldest business in Warner Robins, is closing for good.

“The fact is I’ve been here 50 years,” said Strickland, owner of the venerable business. “Plus the economy is not looking any better, and my family says it is time I call it quits.

“I don’t know what I’ll do with myself, but that’s the plan.”

She chose the end of the year so she wouldn’t have the expense of restocking for spring.

“Now’s the time to be buying the spring line, so this seemed a good time to stop before getting into another new season,” Strickland said.

Posted on Tue, Dec. 30, 2008

Fanise Strickland, right, and Loretta Hall at Evelyn’s in Warner Robins. After more than 60 years, the store, owned by Strickland, will close its doors. (I couldn't get the pic from the paper to load onto this page so here is one with Matney. They are cuter with her anyway!)

Evelyn’s debuted in 1947, and Strickland bought the business in 1959 soon after founder Jimmie Rosenburg died.

“I was his bookkeeper. I had come to work for him in 1953,” she said. “When he got sick, he told me I had to run the place until he got back. But he didn’t make it back.”

A native of Lake Butler, Fla., Rosenburg was one of Warner Robins’ leading businessmen in the community’s early years, moving to town from Macon following World War II. Besides owning and operating Evelyn’s, named for his first wife, he was a real estate developer and one of the founders of the Bank of Warner Robins. He was chairman of the Houston County Board of Tax Assessors and the Warner Robins Housing Authority, and he served on a number of other civic boards.

“His first store was way down on Watson Boulevard, not far from the base,” Strickland said. “Then he moved it to Williams Plaza when it opened, and that’s where I started working for him. That was when all the roads around it were still dirt, and Centerville was just a little speck on the map. Now it is all grown together.”

Later the store would move to Houston Mall when it opened, then to The Galleria in Centerville, back to Houston Mall, and finally, two years ago, to Shaheen Plaza on Houston Lake Road.

But through all the years and moves, Evelyn’s was the place to shop for classy women’s wear, prom dresses, wedding gowns and other party attire.

“For years and years, we dressed nearly all of the officers’ wives for special occasions at the base,” Strickland said. “And you always had to be sure you didn’t sell the same gown to more than one woman. People aren’t as worried about that now, but back then it would have been terrible to go to a party or banquet wearing the same dress as someone else.”

Loretta Hall, who has worked for Strickland since 1976, said Evelyn’s has dressed generations of Houston County’s most influential women. Sandy Hartman has worked at the store a dozen years.

“Mothers, daughters, granddaughters — we’ve had so much fun watching all these families grow up,” Hall said. “We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working here.”

LaVerne Norris, an Evelyn’s customer since Rosenburg owned the store, said she’s sad to see it close.

“It was simply the only place you bought your clothes,” Norris said. “If I had back all the money I’ve spent there, I could make a good down payment on a Ferrari. But I don’t regret a dime. They had everything you needed and it was good quality, and the people were so friendly. Jimmie Rosenburg was the nicest person and did so much for Warner Robins in its early years, and Mrs. Strickland has carried on the same way. I’m absolutely sad she’s closing, but she owes it to herself to retire.”

And business has decreased in the last decade or so. As Warner Robins has grown, new people coming in haven’t been as loyal to local merchants, the women said. Now women think nothing of driving to Macon or Atlanta to shop or even flying to New York once or twice a year.

“Once, everyone in the area came to us for prom dresses and party gowns, but not so much anymore,” Strickland said. “We would have big fashion shows, and we had as many as 13 people working for us at one time, sales staff and alteration ladies. Now we’re down to three.

“People don’t dress up as much as they used to, and they have more places to shop. And this economy doesn’t look like it will pick up anytime soon.”

Still, Strickland says she would probably try to keep the business open if not for her family.

“My kids (a son and three daughters, plus 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren) have been fussing at me for a while about quitting. They want me to close up and retire. I’ll be 86 in March, so they think it is time. But I don’t know what I’ll do with myself. I love working, and this has never really seemed like work.

“We haven’t just been a dress shop devoted to selling,” Strickland added. “Evelyn’s has been a place for friends to come and visit and talk with each other while they look for clothes. Any occasion in town found everyone at Evelyn’s busy finding that special gown. We were a part of what was happening in the community, and that’s what we loved and what I’ll miss most.”

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Miracle! Matney updates

Until I have more Christmas pictures I am stuck so I thought I'd add her professional pics while Blogger seems to be working and give a quick Matney update. The biggest, most exciting news EVER is that, beginning Christmas Eve Matney started sleeping though the night. We have no idea what changed...her room is the same, her pj's and bedtime routine are the same, her food is the same, etc. But, for the first time EVER, she has gone to bed around 7pm and slept without me having to go into her room until about 5am when she wakes up wanting a bottle. She goes back to sleep for an hour or two after her bottle. AND, if that wasn't good enough, she is napping in her crib...sometimes for longer than 20 minutes. Can you BELIEVE IT?!?!?! I can not! 10 months later...I am so excited!

If we say "Matney, wave bye-bye to...", she will wave. If we say clappy, clappy, she claps. Shakey, shakey makes her shake her arms/hands. Such a big girl! She will say mamamam and dadada but I don't think she really gets it, or maybe she gets it but she can't always get it out when she wants to. Lots of the time Jared is mamama too.

She still isn't crawling but is finally starting to show some interest in getting around. Her rolling across the floor gets her where she wants to go so most of the time she will rock on her hands and knees and then flop to her belly and roll to what she wants.

She LOVES sweet peas (whole peas warmed in the microwave) and Cheerios. LOVES THEM! She is getting really good with her sippy cup and likes to drink water. She has 8 teeth now, 4 on the top and 4 on the bottom. She is growing up so quickly!

And right now she wants to eat so I have to run. Hope this gets you caught up a little more!

Christmas Morning

Christmas morning Matney woke us up and we headed downstairs around 7am. I don't think she knew what to do with all the gifts and toys on the floor. She was excited! We opened all our gifts and had a lazy morning. My dad got here about 11am and we had another round of present time before another yummy lunch. Those elastic waist pj's were great. The rule about Christmas pj's is that you stay in them Christmas Day...how wonderful!

Things sure change when you have a baby, including Christmas. Jared and I expected to not have much for us anymore but we were TOTALLY SPOILED!! For a year that has been pretty much all about Matney it was super fun to realize we had piles to open of our own...just being honest!

It was also lots of fun to watch Matney with all her her new things. Some of them were my favorites as a kid (like the Cabbage Patch doll from the Matney's and the huge Strawberry Shortcake from Kathy). I can't wait to see what she will like as she grows up!

We lost our camera about halfway through the day (buried under piles of stuff) so I'll have to get pictures from Mom. She had some cute ones of Miss M later in the day. My dad and Josh left around 4pm and we took Matney for a walk in the park since it was such a pretty day.

All of Matney's loot. Jared and I actually one bought one thing in that pile and the rest was from Grandparents, Great Grandparents, friends of the family and the rest of Jared's extended TX family. The UPS man stopped at our house a lot!

As soon as Matney sees my dad all she cares about is his IPhone. He downloaded a baby animal program and when Matney touches the screen she can make it make the animal noise. She LOVES it!

Josh trying to put together a toy.

Jared putting together a toy. Payback for Christmas Eve!

Matney and Daddy with the pink soccer ball Matney got him.

Matney playing with her music catepillar from Aunt Vickie in TX.

Matney eating a present

Matney surrounded by all her gifts!

Christmas...in many posts

I am a horrible blogger! So sorry for the lack of posts, it has been crazy and I just haven't done it. No good excuse! The week of Christmas was a whirlwind here at the Heald house so I'll try and run through it quickly...so that you can get on to viewing pictures of Matney.

Sat the 20th Matney woke up in the middle of the night with a fever. I knew she felt hot when I picked her up to feed her (around 4am) and when we took her temp in the AM it was 101.5. She had no other symptoms of illness so we just kept her in all day and watched her. Poor baby! My mom and her friend Kathy had driven up to babysit so that Jared and I could go to my friend Lisette's wedding Sat night. It was beautiful and fun to be at her wedding when she was at ours just a few years ago! Matney stayed on Tylenol for a couple days and then she was fine. We never knew what bug she was fighting. Strange.

When she still seemed ok on Sunday I threw in the car late afternoon and headed for WR. We had some friends in town that haven't all been in Middle GA at the same time in years. Mom, Matney, Sue, Donna and her extended family had a great time catching up and the girls enjoyed a nice lunch and time shopping.

Then M and I loaded it all back up and came back to Atl just in time to get Christmas all ready at our house. Christmas Eve morning we went to Jared's parents. It wasn't 10 minutes after we left the house that Matney pooped her pants...and her cute pink dress. We pulled over and changed her (and her clothes) and kept going. There is never a dull moment here! We enjoyed a yummy lunch with his parents, sister and her husband, and all received great gifts. Matney's favorite thing was pulling the tissue paper out of bags! In the rush to get out of the house we didn't take our camera so I'll have to get pics from his family later.

We left Jared's family in time to get back to our part of town for the Christmas Eve service at church. It was a candlelight service and helped get us in the Christmas mood (which was hard when it has been 65-70 degrees outside!). My mom and brother drove up that night and helped Matney make Christmas cookies for Santa. Jared apparently didn't understand who Santa is because I looked up and he was eating the biggest one off Santa's plate! We will work on that before next year.

It is tradition in my family to open one present on Christmas Eve. I don't know how old my brother and I were before we realized that it is always Christmas pj's! This year we all sat an opened our gift. Then the boys went to a late movie while mom and I got stuck at home putting together Matney's toys for under the tree. I am not sure how that happened!

I think that goes through the last week and these pictures. I am geting the Christmas Day pics off the camera now so more to come!

All our stockings

"Um, Mom. I know you like bows but I think this is a little too big!"

Jared's version of Christmas pj's. He wore this nice outfit to the movies!

Jared, opening his pj's, wanted to be like Matney and wear his bow too.

I have no idea why she was naked. But she is cute! Love that belly!!!

The tree after Santa came and dropped off put together toys!

Matney's Christmas pj's

random tree again before Santa and before the room got cleaned

Jared with Santa's stolen cookie

Matney's cookies for Santa

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Keeping you hanging...

I actually am NOT trying to keep you hanging but I forgot that I hadn't posted Matney's Christmas pics and now I can't get more than one to upload. This is one of my favorites but I promise they are all great. I will try again later today and see if I can get it to work.

We have been totally busy here in the Heald house. Last week on Thursday we had about 15 people here to eat dinner...all female except my husband who sat in the room even for the pregnancy/childbirth discussions. I know that Susan, Gina and Jen all had pictures up on their blogs so check it out if you are interested in estrogen! I was way too busy eating Jen's sugar cookies (she only makes them once a year and I LOVE THEM) to take any pictures. We had a WONDERFUL time catching up in our Christmas pjs. I cannot imagine my life without these ladies.

Every night since Thursday we've had some Christmas party to attend and we are worn out! Tonight is the last day of our Christmas party marathon and only I am going so Jared and Matney will be hanging out without me. I will miss them!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Is there a mouse in the Heald house???

Nope! If you notice in the last post Matney pulled out Funetti cake and Rainbow Chip icing...that this pregnant lady didn't remember we had. While dinner cooked my cupcakes baked. Yummy! Jared is trying to be healthy eater and I REALLY like to make my cupcakes a little too full so that they spill over the sides and the top is crunchy. Since he isn't eating any of them, sometime in the last few hours I might have had a couple tops. And I don't feel bad about it at all. They were GOOD! Thanks for finding this, Matney. She loves her Mommy!

I have about 15 girls coming over for dinner tomorrow night and I am super excited about it. But, ladies, if you notice your cupcakes aren't as tall as you'd expect or that they seem to have an abundance of icing...just don't ask questions!

Playing in the kitchen

Matney was rolling around on the ground last night while I cooked dinner. I could see her out of the corner of my eye but wasn't paying much attention. Until she was squeeling. I looked down and she'd emptied out the bottom shelf and was SO PROUD of herself. Jared didn't seem too impressed with her new toys when he came home. She enjoyed every minute of it though and if it keeps her quiet to let me cook we will do it again tonight!

Matney and HER puppy

There are pigs flying all around in the sky if you look out your window right now. promise. At least there are for anyone who has known me since I was a kid. You read the title post correctly. I have given up and handed him over. I am so lonley!

Here are pictures of Matney and her puppy. She LOVES this dog. She has to have him to sleep, she makes us carry him from room to room. I am trying HARD not to let him go in the car so that our chances of loosing him are less.

9 Months Old...and egg yolks

It is hard to believe that Matney is 9 months old! We went for her check-up last week and she is 28 (and something...can't remember!) inches tall and weighs 19lbs10oz. That puts here in the 74the percentile for height and 69th for weight. She is a big girl but her growth does seem to be slowing a bit. The dr checked her and said he has no concerns and that she is doing GREAT!

We talked about her not really being a good eater except for her 2 favorite things. Hard to believe she has such a belly from banana oatmeal and pears and mangos! He said she doesn't seem to be a kid that likes baby food and just start giving her more of what we're eating. I boiled her an egg to see if she'd like egg yolk and YUCK! She spit it across the room each time I put it in her mouth. Jared and I both hate eggs so I am not suprised. We may try again later but for now I guess we'll move on to the next food!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

You have GOT to check this out!!!


go to www.basspro.com/santaphotos
click on link "already have a photo?" view photo button
enter this pass code:
Batch B113
Photo 31 150

It will say "PROOF" ... look in the "O"

Just trust me.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Our first Christmas decoration

I have been waiting WEEKS to get this up. Once again, in WR week this month (it is always good to go home!), Mom, Donna and I were shopping and found a PINK tree! Now you know I couldn't pass that up even though my husband knew I had Christmas trees in my room as a kid and said M wasn't ever going to have one. We found the perfect tree and the cutest pink and green ornaments...and bought them all!

M and I went to visit my Grandmama and Loretta at the store later and were showing off our great find. Loretta has been asking for months about what she could get Matney that she would keep for years and when she saw the tree she knew she had it! So, Loretta ended up getting M her pink Christmas tree, I stayed out of trouble with Jared and Matney LOVES it in her room. At night we take her in to get ready for bed and change her by the tree light. She rolls over and gets so excited when we let her touch it. What a happy girl! THANKS LORETTA! Look back in the spring, I think every little girl needs a pink Easter tree too!!!

Also notice this outfit. M is by her tree in her Christmas outfit. Did she need more clothes? No. Did she and Grandma get distracted out shopping the day after Thanksgiving and come home with this cuteness? Yes. I can't leave them alone for a minute! I will also tell you that M turned 9 months old yesterday and this is an 18 month outfit...and the first thing she has worn in a while that isn't too tight. She's a big girl!