29 November, 2006

The last Sunflowers

The arctic blast is arriving in TX! I cut a bunch of the last crop of small sunflowers that have continued to thrive in our warm TX autumn almost to December! I snipped them by the roadside tonight, while on the way back from dropping off my three teens and their little brother at youth group. I wanted to bring some sunshine into the house, since the temps dropped 30 degrees (from 78-48 just in the 30 minutes that I was out)! Tigga-ma-jig is checking them out. These are my favorite yellow wildflowers.

Off to sip some warm coffee after eating nachos.


26 November, 2006

Inspired by Coffee Art

While visiting nephews and their families this past week, we went to a beautiful coffee shop just outside of Tulsa. The atmosphere of this place, Nordaggio's, was simple but stunning, with hints of Old-World charm; Venetian Plaster and dark wood tables and leather couches. It also could have had something to do with their counter filled with multiple flavors of *real* Italian Ice...YUM!

Another charming characteristic of this cafe was the sepia-toned, framed watercolor art on the walls. You can visit Karen's online gallery, and purchase some of your own coffee art, or be inspired by it, as I am, to try your hand at making your own! Our youngest son immediately recognized the art, since we've spent time with some of Van Gogh's works this fall.

My favorites from Coffee-Art: Cafe Terrace, The Lady of Chocolat, and Mona Latte...and there is just something about Nighthawks (the real version by E. Hopper) that I have always liked. It reminds me of pre-dawn life in a big city, like Chicago or Boston.

Enjoy and get creative!


The Birds!

Remind anyone of Alfred Hitchcock's movie? These birds are flying into and out of our trees. Autumn in Texas is in full swing!

25 November, 2006

Thanksgiving Road Trip to OK

JK was reading, Ky crocheting, Drewski was content with his legos, and J was sleeping.

We had a lovely trip to Oklahoma for Thanksgiving holiday; lots of laughter, connecting, and fun. We stayed with one of my six nephews, and his wife and two sweet kiddos in their new home. They have a game room with a pool table, which was a big hit with my family...especially the Hubster! It was good to get to spend real time with them, which we've not gotten to do before. We got to meet some of my niece-in-law's family, meeting her sister, first. Her sis has an incredible teedy-bear of a dog, a Rottweiler named Diesel! He reminded me of the children's picture book character, Carl, by Alexandra Day. He really was a big sweetie.

On Thursday, we drove about 30 minutes away to visit my Mom and Dad for several hours, after the big, Thanksgiving meal. My parents were in need of some quiet time at home, so skipped out on the big meal this year, what with Mammaw passing on so recenlty and mom being quite ill with bronchitis. We had both sweet and funny conversation with them. I will treasure these memories.

We spent part of Friday with my oldest nephew and his family at their home, visiting over a lunch of Mazzio's pizza, watching Texas A & M beat the Longhorns. Then they took us to one of their local coffee shops, which was absolutely beautiful. It was almost a dollar pricier than Starbucks, but they had a small internet cafe and cherry-wood tables and chairs, old-world Venitian Plaster walls, and dark cherry-brown leather couches, as well as a double-sided fireplace. Being that it was 80 degrees in the Tulsa area, though, it was not lit.

Our daughter learned how to crochet a scarf, thanks to Aunt Brenda and cousin April. They were such a help to her, giving her visual instruction as well as some printed instructions from a scarf book. She is a hands-on learner, so having them there to work with her was priceless! It gave her a lot of confidence, and she is so excited about Christmas projects, now.

The little great nieces and nephews were a blast to watch and talk with. I will continue to update with more photos of our trip this weekend!

~ our dd Ky and great-niece T ~

~ Great Nephew J trying to fill Daddy's boots! ~

Drew, Buddy and Curious George admiring Grandma D's new music box that Papaw bought for her

The girlies fixing their hair


21 November, 2006

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

I awoke early this morning, earlier than early for *me* - 5:30 or so. I couldn't have really felt 'thankfulness' (even though I prayed with others for it on Sunday afternoon) for the most recent batch of hard times (otherwise known as life) until this morning.

God directed me to the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 16 for this morning's reading, and once again it is confirmed to me that *Nothing* is ordered by God without purpose. Such a comfort and a joy! With God, hard times can be followed by times of blessing.

In this passage, God is instructing the Israelites on the second major annual harvest festival that they are to celebrate, in which he is telling them to give freewill offerings (vs. 10) and *rejoice* before the Lord your God (vs. 11), you and your son and your daughter, your servants, the Levite...the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are among you....you shall remember that (vs. 12) you were a slave (yes, we can be enslaved to many things!).

Vs 14, he says "And you shall rejoice in your feast, you an your son and your daughter, etc...because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice.

This is a scene of the ultimate experience and outward expression of inward Thanksgiving, and I am thrilled that this morning, I have a similar sense of Thanksgiving, in my heart and home and life. That said, I am going to be careful that when family members start to wander from the Thanksgiving table, and my romantic expectation to be all deep, warm and fuzzy, rejoicing (dancing), may melt quickly before my (our?) eyes, as brothers, nephews, husband, sons...even *I myself* amble to the TV to watch football.

This was THE common occurance during my growing up
years, which we experience even as adults returning "home." BUT...I will treasure this passage in my heart. God has given me a very clear reminder, I am thankful before hand, and I will also lower my expectations on extended family events.

I awoke this morning with a sense of comfort and grattitude that I can feel thankful for hard times.

Love and Rich Blessings in HIM alone!


Autumn Favorites

Change is in the air, and that is a good thing. Here are some of my favorite little poems about this change of season, in the physical world, and in the spiritual.

"Autumn is the eternal corrective. It is ripeness and color and a time of
maturity; but it is also breadth, and depth, and distance. What man can stand with autumn on a hilltop and fail to see the span of his world and the meaning of the rolling hills that reach to the far horizon?"

~ Hal Borland

Give me the end of the year an' its fun
When most of the plannin' an' toilin' is done;
Bring all the wanderers home to the nest,
Let me sit down with the ones I love best,
Hear the old voices still ringin' with song,
See the old faces unblemished by wrong,
See the old table with all of its chairs
An' I'll put soul in my Thanksgivin' prayers.

~ Edgar A. Guest, Thanksgiving

Then, there's Louisa May Alcott's short story An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving
that I love to read. This site also has links to other Thanksgiving specialties and stories.


20 November, 2006

Sweet "Niephces"

Playing music together, checking out little instruments from Auntie's music basket

These are some photos from visiting family a few weeks back. These two "niephces," along with others, will all be together at Thanksgiving.

18 November, 2006

New Twist on Autumn tree photos

I think some of my Spanish students did this :-). What fun!

If you notice, they even got the mailbox and the (fake) fall flowers on the front porch!


16 November, 2006

Catching up

Homecoming was pretty fun, and I've been grading Spanish lessons and tests and preparing lesson plans and homework assignments like crazy. This year's Spanish curriculum is BJU Spanish I, and it is loaded, detailed, and keeps us all busy. It doesn't help that we have to try to cram 33 lessons into 25 or 26 weeks. That just goes against my philosophy of education! Ha! I'm doing everything that I can to make it work at its best for the majority of my (formerly 12--two moved-- currently 10) students.

This is the last Friday to meet at our co-op this year. I've worked 16 hours for this class so far this week, since I need to have all things caught up, corrections and everything graded and grades/labs, etc. averaged for grade cards this Friday.

My class and I will have a study fiesta in December to help them get through their coursework between semesters.

I am looking forward to our Thanksgiving Week break!! We will be visiting one of my nephews and his sweet little kids, then making the 1/2 hour-drive to spend some time with my parents. Then it's back home, since oldest son has to work.

Sending out prayers for safe travels and blessed Thanksgiving holidays for all my friends!


07 November, 2006

HomeSchool Homecoming :-)

Ever heard of one? It is kind of an oxymoron, isn't it? But our homeschool co-op is having one this weekend! Should be fun :-). This is an awesome group of kids and families. Alumni have been invited "home" and their are no mums required :-). We'll have flag football and a dance, plus a chaperoned afterparty for the seniors.

06 November, 2006


This is the last song we sang for Mammaw's funeral

There's a Stirring
Words and music by Annie Herring
a capella

Altos begin:

There's a stirring deep within me, could it be my time has come?

Add tenor:
When I see my Gracious Savior face to face when all is done.

Soprano and bass join in:
Is that His voice I am hearing, come away my precious one.

Is He calling me? Is He cal----ling me?


I will rise up, rise up,
Then I'll bow down
and bow down
and lay my
lay my crown
at His
at His wou-ounded feet.

Repeat first verse

:Repeat Refrain:

Then Fine, all parts, softly

There's a stir-ring deep with-in me....

Happy Blog Birthday to Me

The Booksncoffeehaus turned two this past weekend, and begins its third year of "production." It has been a nice way to simplify my writing in multiple places, being able to post my opinions, thoughts, ideas, photos, experiences, with family and friends all in one place. There is so much more that I'd like to write about these days. I am pretty opinionated, I just haven't had a lot of free time to formulate my arguments as well as I'd like in the past year. Being "Mom" and "Wifey" holds the higher place in line, and therefore, many of my thoughts go unposted or unpublished for now.

I just found out yesterday that my sister's daughter, a young mom to twins, has been diagnosed with Mitral Valve Prolapse, which is hereditary. That's a new wrinkle in life that I'll need to look into, because it may have come through my Mom or Dad's side of the family. It could explain many of the little nagging health symptoms several of us in the family have struggled with at various times over the last decade or two, such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (yes, I have had bloodwork and gotten an official diagnosis, not a self-diagnosis!), heart "flutters," good-to-lowish blood pressure, spells of low energy or dizziness, slight scoliosis, headaches, all which I think can contribute to a frustrating general clutziness that I experience sometimes...along with other symptoms.

Life is interesting.


05 November, 2006

How to Express...

The gratitude I have for my family. I am truly blessed. Thank you to all for prayers on our behalf.

Mammaw's funeral - the honoring of her life - was special. The reunion with family, sweet. I will update this post as I am able, adding a photo or two.

Mammaw wanted my brothers to sing some of her favorite songs, but they were surprised by a couple of her choices. So, they asked me to help them...then we added other singing family members (including my nephew who just flew in from Iraq!) to the mix for a capella backup, and it was a special way to pay tribute to our Matriarch. We knew it would be difficult to get through it, but we sang from the back of the auditorium. We had about 90 minutes to rehearse and pull together the following songs:

"You Raise Me Up" sung most by Josh Groban. My brother and a nephew sang this, with our family choir backing them up.

"Wind Beneath My Wings." I sang this one, and another brother joined me part-way through as a duet, with family backup.

The chorus, as most are familiar, begins like this:

"Did you ever know that you're my hero,
You're everything I want to be-"

The words could not be more true!! She was a pretty great role model, and she did so much with her time here on Earth.

Then we all sang a four-part, a capella Annie Herring Song called "There's a Stirring."

It just felt right. She would have loved it.

She was an adorable, sassy lady who looked very much like Barbara Bush (really!) who would tell you exactly what she thought about anything. She loved shopping at Dillards and dressing like a lady. She collected music boxes, and I'd spend time listening to all of them as a small girl.

Mammaw's husband was once the mayor of their fair city and an elder in the church. He was an architect and designed church buildings and other structures. He loved modern architecture and had some futuristic designs kept in storage of funky, modernistic space-houses! My grandparents ran a dress shop back in the 60's and 70's named "Todd Fashions." I remember getting to pick out little girlie things from the shop, like scented powder with a powder puff and mitt or flowery bubble bath stuff. Mammaw also cooked for a local snack shop for teenagers. She made the best hamburgers, complete with saut├ęd, caramelized onions. I still make them just like she taught me. She also taught me how to make her (best-in the world!) tuna salad sandwiches and her favorite cole-slaw. I'm told that I'm a lot like her.

Photos of them from the 20's and 30's made us grandkids think that Grandad was a gangster, and that she'd been a flapper :-), that they were actually part of the witness protection program and changed their lives completely.

They lived in the same home for many decades; it is the only home I remember, besides seeing the one my mother grew up in in pictures, and when we'd drive by it on visits to their little city. The house that we live in now has a very similar floor plan to the way theirs used to be before they added on a huge kitchen to the back, and an extra room to the side. It's a little comforting in that sentimental way of just being "home."

As Mammaw's obit read, survivors include her four children and their spouses, 13 grandchildren (one, my favorite cousin, preceded her in death in a small plane crash exactly 13 years ago), 36 great-grandchildren, and 15 great-great grandchildren. What a legacy!

At the grave site on Saturday, the clouds rolled in and the winds had picked up substantially in the rural Norman, Oklahoma cemetery. After greeting and hugging some of my Aunts and Mom in the "tent," I realized that I was standing right before my late-favorite cousin's grave, and the urge came over me to place some of Mammaw's
flowers on Grant's grave, as I did when Grandad died not too many years ago. I said a prayer and patted his grave, and looked up and saw his parents, my Aunt and Uncle, and hugged on them. My cousin was an awesome guy who was working for the Senator of Oklahoma in Washington. I loved visiting him when we lived in Boston and he was working in D. C. For whatever God's reason, he was taken home before he turned 30, and someday we'll see him again.

Appropriately, the rain has arrived here, and I should sign off for now.

Hug your families, make amends with your loved ones and friends. Spend your time on Earth ~well.~ God has a reason and a purpose for your life. Don't squander it!