Thursday, November 3, 2011

Homegrown Roses

My love of roses began when we lived in Midland, Texas. The previous owner of our home had planted about a dozen huge red rose bushes which gifted us a bounty of roses each year! Then, when we moved to our home here in Waxahachie, I missed those rose bushes, so I eventually planted a few rose bushes of my own. Today I had the pleasure of cutting some of my homegrown roses for display.

 Recently,I found this vintage (circa 1930 to 1940) flower frog vase in a thrift store for only $3.00! Similar ones are going for $30.00 on Ebay. I think the roses look quite nice in the frog vase.

This was so satisfying!! I do love roses!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Original Three

On a Saturday not too long ago I enjoyed dinner with three of my adult children. I tend to think of them as "The Original Three" because they were our first three biological children before we began the adoption journey. Siblings in our family are spread out from age thirty-nine to age fourteen. (Because some of our children came via adoption, two of our children are actually older than "The Original Three".) Consequently, our youngest children only lived with "The Original Three" a year to a few years before this trio flew the nest. Even today, with families and busy lives of their own, they still remain tremendously committed to our big  family! Thank you, God, for "The Original Three"! My heart is full with gratefulness that I have the privilege of being their mom!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Old Texas House......Happy Halloween

The Old Texas House hails from Gonzales, Texas. While visiting there last weekend, I discovered this wonderful old Texas house all ready for trick or treaters!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tiny Texas Houses!!

Last weekend, I traveled to Austin to visit with three of my adult children....Stephen, Alison May, and Suzanne. Saturday morning, Alison May, Suzanne, and I drove to Luling, Texas. Luling is the home of a company named Tiny Texas Houses, a totally appropriate name because, well, the houses are Tiny. At least, the houses are much tinier than the houses I am familiar with! Check out to read about the vision of this company's owner, Brad Kittel. Basically, the idea is that we Americans live with much too much materially, and our lives and environment would be simpler and happier if we lived with much less. Kittel uses salvaged building materials to construct these tiny houses. This is such an interesting concept to me. I have always been interested in lifestyles that are different from "normal". Settling down in a Tiny Texas House would definitely fit the "different" sort of living bill!
Check out these pictures.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thoughts on the Midlothian TKD Tournament

This past Saturday, my TKD do-jo held its' annual TKD invitational tournament. Other schools from Texas and Oklahoma participated. I have to say that I am disappointed in my performance.  I just recently learned my new pattern,Choong-Moo. Choong-Moo requires me to perform a 360 degree jump turn. Needless to say, it is going to be several months to a year of persevering before I can complete that turn. So....I didn't perform my pattern up to the standard needed for competition. Next time, I won't enter a tournament unless I know I can perform the required pattern consistent with competition standards. This was my first tournament where I didn't place first, second or third, and I was sad. On the other hand, I left the tournament wiser than when I started. Watching the younger black belts with their crisp kicks and punches helps me to aim higher and farther in my pursuit of TaeKwon-Do.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

In All Seriousness

Horribly bad things happen to people. There is no way anyone can escape this fate. Of course, mentally we can understand that it is through pain that we emotionally and spiritually grow becoming better people. But, in the moment, that pain can be an awful place to be. Bad things have happened to husband....and unfortunately, my children. It's quite devastating to watch one of your children suffer. For myself, I've spent all of my parenting life hoping and praying that nothing too terrible would happen to any one of my children. has and will, I'm sure, continue to happen. But......I am a spiritual person and know that God loves my children more than I do. As a parent, I have to trust that He is in control and will be there with us though it all.
In large families, difficult life lessons are bigger just from the fact that there are more people having life experiences. My husband says that large families are a microcosum of society. I don't know about that, but sometimes it certainly does seem like that to me.
As a mom, I hardly have time to catch my breath before something else upsetting happens. But, even though the stormy times seem nonstop, I realize on the flipside, the super extraordinarily happy times are nonstop as well.....and bigger just from the fact that we are a large family.
Thank you God for taking care of us......through the good and the bad.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Scrabble......Thou Shalt Nots....

Last night was my husband, Tim's, and my date night. We had a stay-at-home date, and after watching a short documentary on DVD, we spent two extremely long hours playing Scrabble on the computer. Now, as everyone in my family knows, playing board games with Tim can be daunting. It's no exaggeration to say that Tim wins almost all of the time with everyone he plays!......Tim grew up playing board games; he loves the competition and thrill of the win.....Tim is the Lance Armstrong of board game athletes!!

Now, rarely do Tim and I complete a game of Scrabble in less than two hours. Why, you ask....well, because Tim has to "study" every move and be absolutely sure he is making the best move for the most points possible. I used to threaten to place a five minute hour glass next to him to keep him from stretching the agony of my wait time out too long.

In order for me to continue to play with Tim, I have written a list of ten "Playing Scrabble With The Wife" rules that must be adhered to for continued Scrabble happiness...

1. Thou shalt not hum while playing Scrabble.
2.Thou shalt not be a Smartypants!!
3.I repeat....Thous shalt not be a Smartypants!!!!
4.Thou shalt  not, under any circumstances, laugh or be perceived as laughing at your opponent!
5. Thou shalt not bob one's head up and down.....or sideways...while thinking...
6. Thou shalt not look so satisfied when one is winning.
7. Thou shalt not regard any single gain of less than twenty points as unworthy.
8. Thou shalt not fidget while one's opponent is concentrating.
9. Thou shalt not mentally make words out of your opponent's letters.
10. Thou shalt not say upon winning by seventy points, "That was a rousing game, don't you think?"

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Black Stripes

On August 19, three years after beginning as a white belt, I tested and received my black stripes in TKD! I am so appreciative of my son, Taylor, for being my partner. Taylor is a first Dan Black Belt. He has helped me so much, I can't even begin to tell you! Without his support and the support of my family, instructors, and fellow students, I certainly would not have made it this far. Now, I'm on the final part of my journey to first Dan Black Belt. I'm thinking it will take me a year, mainly, because I want to have a really good test. There's a whole lot to improve on both physically and mentally.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oma's Jiffy Burger

Last week, Taylor and I stopped and had a hamburger at Oma's Jiffy Burger. This diner is a tiny little restaurant just off the town square in Waxahachie. Celebrating 41 years in our Gingerbread Town, the cafe has become a bit of a cultural icon. Located on Water Street, the cafe was originally found on College Avenue. Eventually, the owner sold the business; the new owner moved to the present location, but took many of the diner's fixtures with him. The inside of Oma's Jiffy Burger resembles a classic 1950's malt shop. I love eating here, as does most of Waxahachie. Sometimes it's hard to find a place to sit!! The burgers here are beyond tasty......Do you have an out-of-the way place in your town or city that has become locally famous? 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sunday in Salado

This past Sunday, I met my daughter, Billie Sue, in Salado, Texas. We went to church together and had lunch. We also hit a couple of antique shops. We discovered this beautiful old white church built in the late 1800's.

After lunch, we found a wonderful antique shop/ book store. Behind the bookstore was a tiny little chapel. The doors were open, so we went inside. This is the stunning sight that beheld our eyes!!

I began to cry.......
Billie Sue and I will attend services in this chapel on our next Sunday in Salado.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Timmism #2

Every Saturday night,Tim and I have a date. Most of the time we just get a bite to eat at a local restaurant and take in a movie at our local "Show Biz Theatre". Except.....last week I wanted a bit more excitement to our dating experience. Hence, we went to "Taste of Europe" restaurant in Arlington. (Check out my previous post.) This Saturday, Tim was not to be outdone by me. With all the suspense and mystery he could create, he informed me he was taking me out for Greek an apparently, highly applauded Greek restaurant in Dallas. A little after 8:00, we drove up the interstate towards Dallas. I was dressed in black slacks, a crisp white French cuff shirt and black jacket, with a large turquoise necklace and handcrafted blue stained glass and silver chandelier earrings. Tim, on the other hand, wore khaki carpenter shorts and a shirt he bought several years ago when we were in Hawaii. Now, I was a bit worried that the restaurant would be closed by the time we arrived, so I called them while en route. The woman who answered the phone cheerfully announced that they were open until 2:00 am.......and, in answer to my question concerning proper attire,(Actually, I was really asking,"Would you let us in the door if Tim wore carpenter shorts and a t-shirt"?) she remarked, "Casual".
After pulling off the road to properly secure his GPS onto the front dashboard, and enter the proper address into said device, we finally arrived at our destination. Well, the place was certainly popular and probably justly deserved the twenty-five positive feedback comments listed on Google. The parking lot was full to overflowing.....the bouncer at the door was quite...bouncer-looking...and the neon sign of a belly dancer moving suggestively all the while with a sword in her mouth certainly caught our attention.

 I started to wonder if the twenty-five positive reviews were all authored by men....Tim asked, "Well, what do you want to do? I certainly understand if you want to go somewhere else." Tim is always so democratic!! I did have to think about it for a minute....Because, I wasn't totally opposed to dining with  belly dancers...In fact, when Tim turned thirty years old, I surprised him when I hired a belly dancer to dance for us at a local restaurant.....Boy, was he surprised. But, I did worry that I was overdressed and wondered about the male/female ratio of patrons present in the restaurant. I opted for another, less exciting, restaurant! I have to hand it to Tim, though!! When he plans a date, he REAllY plans a date!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Taste of Europe


Last night, Tim and I had our usual Saturday night date. However, our date was anything but usual. We decided to step out of the box and drove to Arlington, Texas,to eat at the locally famous Taste of Europe restaurant. Taylor's geography teacher had mentioned this restaurant to me. It sounded like the adventure began.
The restaurant owners immigrated from Russia many years ago. The gift shop stocked primarily Russian item such as Russian nesting eggs, icons, tea service sets, wonderful Russian peasant marionettes, chess sets,iron toy Russian soldiers, Christmas items and Russian military items such as uniforms, coats and hats. Here's a sampling of the wares to be found....

This one Russian nesting doll set was huge!! I didn't even have the nerve to ask the price!

Finally, after checking out all the items in the gift shop, it was time to eat. Tim had the German sausage with sauerkraut and potatoes while I dined on the Hungarian goulash. Dessert was crepes with chocolate and whipped cream! Delicious!

The grocery market consisted of a good variety of items to buy as well as a deli. Several people came in just to buy items from the grocery market and deli.

Before we left, Tim had to try out the one sentence that he knew in Russian. When he was a boy, a friend whose heritage was Russian taught Tim to say, "I am a Russian man" in the Russian language. So...Tim asked the store owner if he could "try" his sentence out. The Russian owner was happy to oblige, and affirmed that Tim had spoken his one sentence perfectly!! Tim was so proud!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Alison May....Earnest Keep

My daughter, Tellanova.....actually Alison May, recently recorded her debut album, Earnest Keep through Misery Loves Company recording company with Jeff Price producing. Alison plays all the instruments on the album, sings vocals, and wrote all the original music!! How exciting is that? Release date is: September 13, 2011, but I thought you might like a sample. She's released three songs as a preview.

What is a Timmism?

What is a Timmism, you ask? Well.....obviously, I made it up, but my children and I know what a Timmism is! Timmisms are funny stories about my funny husband's adventures in the wide, wide world. Large families are famous for their outrageous, funny stories. In our family, Tim, has many crazy, out-of-this-world experiences as he is out and about with our kids. I thought it would be fun to periodically relate some of Tim's adventures as he navigates through life as the dad of twenty-two children!

Timmism #1:

The other day, Tim was standing in line at WalMart with a full cart. Since Tim is the resident cook at our house, he is totally in charge of the menu. He was making dirty rice that evening for dinner. He uses the Zatarans rice recipe. So...he has six boxes of Zatarans rice and six pounds of hamburger a cart full of other multiple foodstuffs. The lady in line behind Tim made a comment about the significant number of rice boxes in Tim's cart. She asked if he were cooking for a party, to which Tim mechanically replied, "No, it's just for the family dinner." The lady had a "shocked and amazed" look on her face, and was just about to say something additional when Tim said, "Actually, I'm a gormet chef". She said, "Oh, really?" Tim said, "Yes, tomorrow night I'm cooking macaroni and cheese". The woman didn't say another word!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Contrabass Flute.......This is Truly Amazing!

A Facebook friend of mine plays the flute. Recently, she had the opportunity to play a contrabass flute. This instrument is amazing! I didn't even know such an instrument existed! Check it out!

A Totally Perfect Day!

A surprise visit from our daughter, Tweets, and our sweet grandbaby, Baby Tweets, makes for a perfect Saturday!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Does Formal Training Stifle Creativity???

This post is mostly about creative people and their art. While I have quite a few creatively gifted children as well as  gifted extended relatives, I'm going to focus on my son, Alexander (Alex), in my discussion. The question I'm posing to you, my readers, is: "Does a university degree or formal "education" in an artist's expression such as a musical instrument, dance, mediums such as pen and ink, painting, mixed media etc., or voice training hinder or facilitate one's creative gift or gifts? From another perspective, "Does formal training in one's art damage or rob that person of his creative soul"?
Yesterday, my daughter, Tellanova, her fiance, my husband and myself discussed this topic over dinner. My daughter and her fiance  are professional musicians. Both of them attended the same elite music school in Boston, Massachusetts. One opinion presented was that formal training tends to remove spontaneous expression making one's art conform to the status quo of what is "normal" in that genre. Another perspective is that when exposed to a wealth of information from an "expert," one can glean tremendous knowledge that can only serve to make one's art eventually better. Indeed, in the early stages of study students may adhere to a strict standard, but eventually, over time, a student blends his own creative juices with the acquisition of formal training to produce a better product than if he had not been mentored by an expert in his field.

This question brings to mind my son Alex. Alex has never been to a prestigious music university, but he plays the piano quite well. Alex, a Filipino, came to our family when he was nine years old. While Alex is blind, he taught himself, while still in the Philippines, to play the piano. It didn't hurt that Alex has perfect pitch! Our family was stunned when we heard him play. I felt a tremendous responsibility to give him every opportunity I could to pursue his musical talent. So, when Alex was about eleven, I enrolled him in piano lessons with a classical piano teacher who had previous experience teaching people who are blind. Until then, Alex had only played the pop music he heard on the radio. (Alex also has a photographic memory.) Alex was quite accommodating to me, never complaining about his classical training and practicing everyday. As time passed, I noticed that Alex did not play the piano for fun anymore. He didn't seem to have any interest in music. His music, while playing the notes perfectly, lacked a sense of spirit. After, two years of classical training, I stopped the classical piano lessons. I thought that Alex would be overjoyed to be rid of the pesky scales and music by such composers as Bach, Mozart and Schubert. I imagined him with a big smile on his face, hammering out the pop tunes that he so loved.  Not so..... Alex didn't sit down at the piano again for almost two years after we had stopped the classical lessons. Those lessons had zapped him of his spontaneity and passion for music! I worried that he would never again return to the piano. I was so relieved when finally, he did sit down at the piano again and play.
This was an important lesson for me: what I think is an outstanding opportunity is not necessarily the best choice for someone. I'm just happy I realized that the classical lessons were hindering rather than furthering Alex's musical creativity before I made him take years and years of lessons. 
So, readers, do you have an opinion on this topic? Have you or someone you know actually had their artistic creativity harmed by "formal training"? I'd love to hear what you have to say!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Gardens at the Greenery

In our large family we are constantly celebrating birthdays!! When the kids were growing up, and now still, birthdays were major family events! Now, most of my "kids" are twenty-somethings with a few being a thirty-something. Recently, we have transitioned into weddings also becoming a frequent major family event. One of my daughters, Tweets, has been married over four years now to her sweetheart, Mr. Tweets. Recently, they had their first child, my new grandson, our Sweet Prince! Now, I have two more daughters engaged to be married within the next eight months. Penny and Tellanova will soon be a Mrs. to their Mister. Tellanova is getting married to a fellow musician in our hometown which we lovingly call Gingerbread Town! When searching for wedding venues; it didn't take long to find The Gardens at the Greenery! The Greenery is one of the finest landscape nurseries around these parts. They also dabble in the wedding venue business! So far, these gardens have top billing.

Did you have a garden wedding? Did a family member or friend have a garden wedding? Do you have a wedding story to share? Or....if you are a large family, are you, like us, celebrating frequent wedding events?