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  • Timeless Toys

    July 29, 2009

    I did not have a lot of toys growing up.  I know. Break out the tiny violin.

    I had a hand me down Chatty Cathy.  I had some of the lesser Barbies – Midge? The redhead with the questionable reputation whom no one talked about.  Nothing was proven, mostly rumors.  I did have a Chrissy doll that I loved.  I had a Lite Brite that I loved.  My brother had the Spirograph which I coveted.  But among the three of us kids, we didn’t have a lot.

    Sean on the other hand.

    Like most families in America, our toy box runneth over.

    And here is the great irony. Sean plays with about 1% of the toys he owns. However, he would wail and fuss were I to relocate the other 99% toys.

    The toys that Sean loves most are ones that we have picked up at garage sales or were passed down to us. They are the least complicated, least expensive, require no batteries and have held his interest from ages 2-6 and I expect, into a few more years.  And they are toys that his mommy and daddy love to play with too.

    They are:

    1) Tinker Toys

    2) Leggos

    3) Wooden Blocks

    4) Plastic toy tools

    5) Plastic animals

    6) Matchbox cars

    7) Play-Doh

    Now there is another category of toys that Sean loves, that are not really toys and they are:

    1) 6-ft step ladder

    2) sheets

    3) empty boxes of any size

    * * * * *

    I’m sure everyone’s Top 10 Toys list looks a little different. If you were going to recommend the top three or four best toys to a new mom,  what would be on your list?

    Various, Sundry, Unrelated

    June 5, 2009

    Back when Survivor was a new show, I remember they made a big deal out of the one luxury item each contestant chose to bring with them.

    48 seasons later, they either gloss over it or have dispensed with it all together. I don’t really know, because I haven’t watched more than one episode of Survivor in several years.  AD’s luxury item would be Kleenex. He goes no where without a pocket full of Kleenex which are never used for their intended purposes but end up in the dryer all over only the black clothes, never the white.  If I were ever to leave my husband, which I wouldn’t because, let’s be honest, no one else would have me, it would be over his Kleenex abuse.

    My one luxury item would be a tablet of paper and a pen.  I never go anywhere without paper and pen because I might need to write something, draw something or do some addition.

    Sean is actually the only one of our tribe who stands a chance of winning Survivor.

    So the other day when Sean and I were getting ready to leave the house to run errands, I was tickled when he chose to wear pants with pockets which he filled with Kleenex and a t-shirt with a pocket in which he had tucked a tiny notepad and a pen.

    Unfortunately none of what you have read heretofore has anything to do with anything hereafter.

    So then, as we were on our way to Half Price Books to buy the rest of the Little House series, Sean mentioned that the neighborhood we were driving through looked like Skip and Glenna’s. I said it was indeed their neighborhood and I wondered if they had gotten back from China yet. They are involved in a ministry called Let’s Start Talking where they travel to foreign countries to teach English using the Gospels.  Sean suggested that when they go to China that we should eat with chopsticks the entire time so we can remember they are gone.

    I thought that was a terrific idea for a number of reasons. One, eating with such difficulty would help us remember not only the challenges and uncomfortable circumstances our missionaries face so far away from home, but also those for whom finding enough to eat every day is a challenge.  I want Sean to have an awareness that there really are people in this world who go hungry and don’t have enough to eat – something that neither of us know.

    After our errands, Sean asked if we could have lunch at Sonic.  He had been an especially delightful errand buddy, so I said yes.

    “Great!” he said, “Let’s get a meal with toy so that we can put it in the give away box,” he offered.

    “Sean, dude, that is awesome,” I said.  I was proud that he had taken ownership of the concept of charity and thinking of others.

    “Unless it’s something really cool, like a disk shooter,” he added.

    Here on earth, it’s about progress, not perfection.

    And now, here is a little something I made in Photoshop with one or two clicks using a free Photoshop action from PanosFX.


    My little boyfriend and errand buddy.

    I Digress And Call It A Post

    May 11, 2009

    So then, yesterday was Mother’s Day. Or Sunday. Whatever. To me, Mother’s Day ranks right up there with Boxing Day. I can take it or leave it.  I know. In your head right now, you are saying, “What kind of mother doesn’t like Mother’s Day!” Did you think I couldn’t hear that?

    Regardless of whatever personal issues I have with the highest of the Hallmark holy days, I am still obligated to participate.  I crumble easily under the weight of societal expectations to buy flowers and cards and to festively order others to “Have a happy (insert occasion) day!” I just go along. I grumble, but I go along.

    Texas has been gray and wet for what seems like two years now, but according to the newspapers it has actually only been two weeks.  And yesterday, Mother’s Day, was no different.  So we drove up to Tuna under a gray cloud of drizzly rain to have lunch with Memaw to celebrate Mother’s Day.

    When we arrived, we exclaimed “Happy Mother’s Day” in a festive tone and then we sat down to eat too much.  Papa George had fixed us a yummy meal and it was swell all the way around even though I had to do the dishes.

    When we got home late in the afternoon, we noticed an odd bright orb in the sky, so we Googled “bright orb in the sky” and we were delightfully surprised to find out that it was the sun. A few little sunbeams and my girlish giddy and glee returned to wash away all my sour feelings surrounding having a national day set aside to honor the fact that I managed to procreate.

    A few sunbeams were all it took for Sean too.  He raced into the house and put on his swimming suit.  And when a 38-pound boy wearing a swimming suit, snorkel and mask is standing in your den, the cuteness will short circuit your brain and you will be rendered powerless to do anything other than say “Okay!”  And that’s how we ended up at the swimming pool late in the afternoon on Mother’s Day.

    In my opinion, the water in the swimming pool was fuh-reee-zzzzing!  But according to Sean, the water was “refreshant!” Although my research is not scientific, I believe that human children learn to discern uncomfortably cold swimming pool water around the same time they develop sense enough to come in out of the rain. Unlike chickens however, human children will not drown if they look up when it’s raining. This fact, I have proven scientifically. I’m not sure how that relates to anything heretofore.

    So, I sat a safe distance from the edge of the pool and its uncomfortably cold water to watch my scrawny little boyfriend jump in and out of the pool about 658 times;  each time crafting a unique approach and/or creative pose for the amusement of his mother.

    “Mom!” he shouted as zipped past in a blur, “Memaw’s AND swimming, all in the SAME day! This is the best day EVER!” And then he disappeared into a big splash of chilly water.  My heart was drenched in joy.

    So yeah, Mother’s Day was the best day ever.  And so was every day of the last five and a half years.

    Unfinished Business

    March 22, 2009

    In 1982, a woman I worked with named Jackie introduced me to art of cross stitching.  I watched her work on her cross stitch projects during our lunch hour,  how her fingers tenderly and precisely poked the needle through the fabric and how she gently teased the thread through to the other side and then started again.

    It was rhythmic the way she worked that needle and almost hypnotizing to watch.  She said she found it relaxing and it was easy to see why.  She inspired me to want to make beautiful cross stitched things too.

    I was 22-years-old at the time and had just moved to Texas from the Midwest and didn’t know a lot of people. Consequently, I had more time than friends and I thought that maybe cross stitching would be a good way to absorb some of those long after-work hours that I spent alone as well as satisfy the itch to do something creative.

    I went to a craft store and picked out a cross stitch kit with a butterfly motif.  As I handed over the few dollars I had to the cashier, I fully believed with all my heart that like Jackie, I would finish it in a week or two.

    As I walked out of the store with my new cross stitch kit, I was already envisioning the glory of the finished product and experiencing the glow of satisfaction I would feel as I gave it to my mother for Christmas.  She would be delighted and awe struck that I had created such finery for $3.99.

    I worked on it faithfully every day for a few weeks, tediously stitching and un-stitching the rainbow of thread into butterflies.  Then one day, I decided to take a short break and set it aside.  It was another year or so before I picked it up again.  That was 1984.  I haven’t touched it since.


    Every once in a while, as I’m looking for something, I’ll find it tucked into a box of odd things that fail categorization.  I suppose I could feel badly that it has remained unfinished all these years, but for me there was tremendous value in the doing, if not the finishing.   And besides, we will all leave this life with unfinished business.  None of us will finish all we set out to do.

    I just hope that when I leave this world, that any unfinished business I leave behind is no more consequential than butterflies.

    * * *

    Anyone else have an aging and unfinished project tucked away somewhere? Anything older than my 25-year-old butterflies?

    No Go On To-Go

    February 26, 2009

    Last Friday I had lunch with some friends at a Mexican restaurant. I ordered the spinach quesadillas and they were delicious, but I could only eat about half of them, so I had the waiter box up the rest to take home.

    Today, around lunch time, it occurred to me that I hadn’t eaten those spinach quesadillas.  So I worked the inside of our overburdened fridge like one of those slide puzzles looking for those quesadillas.  But they were not to be found.

    “That’s weird,” I thought. “I distinctly remember leaving the restaurant with them and putting them in the….”

    Crud!  Crud!  Crud on a cracker crud!

    They were still in the car.  So I went out to the garage and there they were.  Under the driver’s seat.  Oddly enough my car did not smell any worse than usual.  It could be that the smell of rotting spinach quesadillas is actually a step up from how my car normally smells.

    But it begs the question, why do I even bother with the restaurant leftovers?  Is it hope or delusion that I ask for the to-go box?  Because I always fully believe that I will actually consume said left overs.  Even though I never do.

    Because Sr. Edwina never let me forget that poor children in China were starving when I was in the 2nd grade, I am psychologically obligated 40 years later to make the waiter box up food I won’t eat so that I can throw it away a week later, that is if I can find it, because by cracky, I paid for that food and I am going to be the one to throw it away to alleviate world hunger.   That actually made sense in my head. It’s complicated in there and the circuitry is circuitous.

    Now of course there is no real way to prove this without putting GPS on to-go boxes, but because this is a blog, I shall state it with some authority anyway,  as though it were fact:  99.9% of the leftovers taken from a restaurant never make it off restaurant property.  80% of to-go boxes are left on the table, 10% end up on the vanity in the ladies room and 5% end up in the parking lot after being placed on the roof of the car.

    What happens to the remaining 5% is anyone’s guess, but you might check under the driver’s seat of your car.

    Happy First Ladies Day!

    February 15, 2009

    Today is Presidents Day, but if anyone deserves a national holiday, I think it is the First Ladies.

    First Ladies are, more or less, accidental politicians – elected by default, blessed with opportunity, cursed with judgment and expectation. Some of them come into the role with reluctance and others with gusto, but all leave their own unique imprimatur on our nation’s history.

    I have been fascinated with First Ladies since reading the biography of Dolley Madison in the third grade. My admiration for her was cemented when I read how she heroically risked her life to save the famous Gilbert Stuart painting of George Washington before the British set fire to the White House during the War of 1812. In addition to her spunk, Mrs. Madison was greatly admired across several continents for her beauty, exquisite fashion sense and as a gracious hostess, albeit one who liked to dip snuff.

    Here are some fun First Lady facts:

    Lou Hoover graduated from Stanford with a degree in geology and spoke fluent Chinese.

    Grace Coolidge taught hearing impaired children.

    Elizabeth Monroe was an epileptic and would only speak French at home.

    Ellen Wilson was a professional artist and direct descendant of Pocahontas.

    Frances Cleveland was the youngest First Lady at 21.  She was also the only First Lady to marry in the White House as well as the first to give birth at the White House.

    Laura Bush is the only First Lady to give birth to twins.

    Three First Ladies died while in the White House.

    Five First Ladies were previously widowed before marrying a future president and three others were divorcees.

    Eight First Ladies were widowed while in the White House, but only one remarried.

    All but six First Ladies outlived their husbands after leaving the White House and only one, Frances Cleveland, remarried.

    Only two of our 44 presidents made it to the White House without a woman standing squarely behind him.  The rest of them had a woman standing in the background, smiling and nodding, applauding and waving, listening and encouraging. And those women deserve a national holiday, don’t you think?

    Happy First Ladies Presidents Day everyone!



    National First Ladies Library

    White House, Our First Ladies

    “Presidential Wives, An Anecdotal History” by Paul F. Boller, Jr., 1998, Oxford University Press.


    January 23, 2009

    Warning: Pointless and unrelated drivel ensues.

    It’s Friday, y’all. Good gravy, another week of life down the drain. How does that happen so quickly? I am positive that when I was in Sister Luke’s 5th grade class, that one day time actually stood still.  During long division class time did not advance one minute for three solid hours.  It’s documented somewhere in the annals of St. Cabrini history.

    Speaking of St. Cabrini, I am reminded of this:  Back in the summer of 2004 (which seems like it should be last year), my 8th grade class got together for a class reunion and we toured the school, all eight rooms. Sadly that school closed recently (moment of silence).

    Anyway, still hanging in the hallway since 1966 when I was in 1st grade, was a big picture of Jesus (you know the one) with a portrait of John F. Kennedy to the left and a portrait of The Pope on the right.   Just as it will be in heaven.  I don’t know why I bring this up, but it made me laugh then as it does now just thinking of it.  The message in that arrangement is not very subtle, even for a 1st grader.

    Moving on…

    There was mostly good stuff this week.

    We had several spring-like days this week. It was in the 80s here, so that was lovely and a very nice reprieve from our so-called winter.  Sean and I got out and went “scootering” as he calls it. It is entirely too much fun to jog  behind him as he hot rods around the neighborhood on that little red Radio Flyer scooter. At five, he’s so happy and delighted with every aspect of life and unburdened with woes of any kind.  To witness that kind of unfiltered joy kind of makes up for the fact that my den looks like the Lego factory exploded in it.

    Which brings me to pointless point number two, or is it three? I’ve lost track:

    Old Coffee Table:  Time, Newsweek, Architectural Digest, Art in America, Venetian blown glass object d’arte, cocktails and appetizers.

    New Coffee Table:  Ranger Rick, Highlights, Lego sculpture, 2-day-old sippy cup of milk, half eaten Ritz cracker and a small pair of dirty socks.

    Wednesday I was honored to speak to an amazing group of young moms and chat with them about seeking joy on this astonishingly beautiful, difficult, precious, absurd journey that is motherhood.  I went to offer encouragement but I believe that I left with more than I brought.  I get to speak to another group of moms this coming week on the same topic and I’m very much looking forward to it.

    Monday, I’ve got a super awesome give away from the people, some spending money with them, just in time for Valentine’s Day.  So you might want to go there and snoop around and see what you might like to have.  Check back in on Monday to see what hoops I’m going to make you jump through for that.  I love it when in the interest of winning something, y’all reveal something of yourselves to me because you guys are fascinating and always make me laugh.

    And finally, I will leave you with this story, a rare golden moment in parenting when I think I got it right. And all because I kept my mouth shut.

    Yesterday, my friend Shelly invited Sean over after school to play with her little boy Max.  When I picked Sean up, he and Max were having a great time playing outside with the garden hose and he had obviously had a very good time.

    On the way home, he mentioned that Max has all kinds of cool stuff.

    “He’s got a really big play room with lots and lots of really big toys,” he said with a tinge of envy in his voice, “And he also has a big swing set with a fort. And a swimming pool. Max has everything.”

    Sidebar: Yet, they were outside playing with the garden hose and some plastic cups.

    I had my speech all ready to go, you know the one:  There will always be people who have more than you, but there will always be a lot more people who have a whole lot less than you. I would remind him of how blessed he is and of how much he has for which to be thankful. I might even go so far as to tell him that some children don’t even have enough to eat.  Although the last time I used that line, he said they should just get their mom to go to the store.

    But I didn’t. I didn’t say those things. I just kept my mouth shut and waited and watched his face in the rear view mirror.

    “But, you know what?” he finally said, “I’ve got a lot of toys too. I’m lucky.”

    Sometimes the truth is taught and other times it is discovered.

    When we got to a stop light, I turned around and told him that he was an awesome little boy and I was so glad that I got to be his mom.

    And if that was the only good thing that had happened all week, it would have been enough.

    Have a great weekend y’all.

    Farm House – The Story

    January 12, 2009

    After I put up the post on the farm house last week, my cousin Jim emailed me with the back story on the house and I thought I’d share it with you if you are interested.

    Jimmy got the low down on the house from his father who passed away a few years back, but lived to be almost 100. It turns out that AD and Jimmy’s granny knew the family that owned the house and often told stories about them.

    According to Uncle Sewell, the road that originally went by the house was a horse and buggy trail that ran between Tuna and Podunk.  The road was wickedly crooked and was known as Looney Corner, partly after the Looney family who owned the property and maybe partly because of the many cars they found in their tank.  For you non-Texans, a tank is what the rest of the country calls a pond.  I grew up the Midwest where a tank is where you keep your tropical fish.

    Anyway, in the days of horse and buggy, the curve of the road wasn’t so much of a problem, but after the automobile came along, those who had been to Tuna and partaken of the spirits offered there didn’t always make the corner and ended up in the tank.

    Later the road was graveled and then expanded into a two-lane road and then the four-lane highway that it is today.  According to Cousin Jim, the house has been abandoned since about 1955.  A construction-related business bought all of the property but chose to preserve the farmstead.  There are rumors that the property could be sold again. And of course who knows what the new owners will have in mind.

    Time changes everything and so much history erodes with it,”  Jim writes.  “I can remember as a child riding in the car from Podunk to Tuna.  At one time that was a great house and only one of about five between the two towns.”

    Also, it turns out that tarp that I Photoshopped out was the last remaining piece of tin on the roof. At one time, it had an all-tin roof and this one piece has managed to hang on through wind, weather and time – but not Photoshop.

    Who knows what the rest of the story is for this house.  Maybe someone will come along and buy it and restore it to it’s former, long lost glory. Or maybe the earth will eventually reclaim it as it does all things that stand still for too long.


    Not a solar panel or a tarp, but tin.


    November 8, 2008

    Are y’all feeling the pinch of the economy and failed markets?  If so, what changes are you going to make?   Drastic or small?  Life style changes?  Less eating out?  Closer eye on grocery bill?  Just curious.

    Antique Shopping

    July 16, 2008

    I was in downtown Tuna last weekend and one of the things I like to do when I am there is to browse the antique stores.   I’m always searching for a ceramic donkey planter.  I find aimlessly wandering in and out of the stores to be a very relaxing way to pass an afternoon.  And it’s just fun to see stuff – dishes, furniture, toys, etc. – that I recognize from my own childhood.  I’m not super big on antiques,  I like them and appreciate them, but by no means am I a collector.

    One of things I find that I’m drawn to lately are antique linens, which kind of disgusts my mother-in-law Cleo.  She does not understand why I would pay good money for something someone else has blown their nose into. Yet I do.  Here are a few of the hankies I picked up recently.  Any ideas what I could do with them other than, um, stick’em in a drawer?


    I guess I could have ironed them before photographing them.  I wish you could see them in person – very retro and very charming. You would love them, I know you would.

    blue and red hankie

    This blue and red hankie is one of my favorites. Love the color combo.  Would love to do a powder room in these colors and motif.

    more antique finds

    These are some aprons I picked up.  My Godmother Rose always wore aprons and maybe that’s why I love them so much. The apron on the far left looks stained, but it’s not – it’s actually perfectly starched.  Kind of makes me want to put on some pearls, high heels and get out the vacuum.  These aprons are much more charming in real life. I have to take the resolution of the photos down to 72 (from 300) so my blog will upload them and it seems to drop the charm factor as well.  Don’t know what to do with aprons either. Ideas?  No matter, it’s enough just to posess them.

    Johnson Bros

    I also like to collect the odd plate which I use, sometimes to display on a wall or in a cabinet or on a tiny easel, sometimes to hold a bar of pretty soap and sometimes, yes, sometimes even on the table. Because I am so very creative.  This is “Old Granite” by Johnson Brothers.

    yet more

    I fell in love with these two little pewter bunnies just waiting to hold up a candle. $5. Currently sitting in my kitchen window where I gaze upon it with affection.

    mexican<br /> box

    I bought this little expandable Mexican box for the boy because I knew he would dig carrying it around and stashing stuff in it.  And he does.

    open box

    And it came with about 12 big heavy duty plastic forks and spoons which will no doubt make their way out to the sandbox.  Which is better than my silverware, yes?

    Do you antique/garage sale? What kind of stuff do you look for?  And what is the psychology behind what you buy?  Maybe we should do a carnival and show our wares.