Tuesday, November 29, 2011

i miss you

(no bribe needed)
wyatt and i are at home alone.
the kids are at school.
jc is at work.

the house is too quiet.

i am in the laundry room.
he is playing in the living room - which happens to open into the laundry room.

at the top of his voice he is yelling

i say - 'yes wyatt'
he says - 'where are you?'
i say - 'the laundry room'
he says - 'i miss you'

he feels the quiet house too.

he is happy to sit and have me hold him until his kids come home.
and i think i will do just that.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

ACL Family

Anyone that knows us, knows that we LOVE the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

I was looking through pictures from past festivals and I am feeling very nostalgic seeing my family grow-up over the festival years. I am so thankful that I always carry a camera to capture what this festival means to our family. (but that's another blog post)

So here it is. A look back at our festival years. (feeling so bummed that I can't find the pictures from 2004. Ugh!)







Thursday, September 8, 2011


The Barton Hills Choir was fortunate enough to sing at the 10th Anniversary Party of Austin City Limits tonight.

It was a load of fun and made for a very long day.
I wish I had a good video of Daydream Believer or Running on Empty.
Both songs in their ACL set.
Both songs on insane loop inside this noggin of mine.

The concert tonite left me wishing that next weekend was here already.
I can't wait.

And I am proud of these kids.
And I am thankful for their director.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I Can Be Alone

What I know about me is that I LOVE being a friend.

I sometimes have a hard time being able to see my positive attributes.
But what I know is that I value every one of my friends.

I love my friends.

I need my friends.

I don't know what my life would be without my friends.

I can't imagine our kids not seeing us have these relationships. I can't imagine our kids not being surrounded by the love of so many incredible people.

I don't know if our kids will grow up and have lifelong friends like us.

I hope they do.

I am aware of how unique it is that our closest friends are from childhood.

I also know that I am a big girl and I can be alone.

But why would I want to do that?

Life is so much better when shared with a real friend.

I LOVE my friends.

P.S. hours and hours and hours later and i still can't find a picture of me with terry a., denise g., liz c. or wendy g. phooey. drats. bummer. how can it be?!?!?!?! i just can't look anymore - but you friends are always in my heart. (and i might end up taking this post down in the middle of the night, because i am sure it will cause me to fret.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A bag of pills brings a dose of perspective

My cousin and her family are missionaries in Africa.
I am proud of her.
I've been carrying this post inside of me for the past few weeks.
I've been chewing on it everyday.
You should read it.
Read it to the end.
Chew on it.
I can't let it go.
I feel that I have to share.

Everyday, I am becoming more aware of the things that are important in life.
Everyday, I am more aware of how fortunate we are.
Everyday, I am thankful for our family, our friends, and the love.
Everyday, I am working to keep things in perspective.
Everyday, I wonder if I am doing enough to make a difference in the world or even in the life of another human being.

August 9, 2011…I couldn’t believe it!
Living in Africa has allowed us to have many new experiences…some good, and some not so good. A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to experience the “not so good.” If you know me, you know that I went to college YEARS ago to become a registered nurse. I believe that God has gifted me with a heart that sees people’s pain and He has given me the desire to try to help those people. I believe in quality care and have often referred to nursing as a career in caring. I recently had the opportunity to see that not all health care providers think the same way. My sweet friend called me a couple of Fridays ago. She was in the hospital, had just delivered twins and said “PLEASE COME!” Of course, I went. When we approached the hospital, we were a little confused about where the entrance was so we asked the men sitting around the flower bed where we should enter. Come to find out, the 8 or so men sitting there were prisoners. Prisoners in Lesotho are dressed in red sweaters and are wrapped with red blankets. This has absolutely nothing to do with my story, but we learned something new. The door that they pointed to was up the ice covered stairs and had a handwritten note taped to it that identified it as the “maternity ward.” We entered the room after calling out the official “koko” that means knock-knock. The women inside responded “kena” which means enter. There were 4 women gathered around a pot belly stove, shoving twigs and paper scraps into the stove, trying to stay warm. These were the mommas. They each had an old time hospital bed and their babies were snuggled under the blankets. No newborn nursery. From the time the baby is born, it is the mother’s responsibility to care for them. My friend was fortunate enough to have a private room. This very small room is actually attached to the nurse’s office/labor room and there was constant traffic down the middle of the room. The patients are responsible for distributing their own medications. The nurses give them a small bag when they are admitted with their meds inside, directions written on the bag. Each mom must wash her own clothes, baby diapers, empty her chamber pot, hang her clothes on the line, get her own water-from the outside long distance tap. My friend had a c-section and still was required to serve herself. The mom brings her own blanket from home, or she doesn’t have one. She also must bring her own bath basin, towel, washcloth, cup, plate, etc. Her meals consisted of dried up beans, cold moroho and a little bit of papa. She provides her own sanitary pads. If she does not have any, she must find an outside visitor to go to the store and buy some, if she has money. If she has no money, she must use whatever she can find that will serve the purpose. In the mountains, many of the women use brush gathered from the side of the mountain. My friend entered the hospital pre-eclamptic and her blood pressure had not been taken since she had delivered. I was introduced to the nurse, who was not too happy to see the white faced American. I was escorted to the hospital administrator’s office, who was very nice by the way. While I was away, my friend was forced to sign a document, that she could not read, saying that if she left the hospital that day, she would not be allowed to return if she developed a problem. The Basotho woman has no rights, no privacy, and my friend received no help. Twins, no family to help, no formula for the crying babies (her milk had not yet come in), no pampering, no nothing.
I thought about the birth of our sons. If we wouldn’t have been in such a progressive hospital with competent and caring nurses and doctors, our sons may not have lived. I had family surrounding me. All my requests were granted..all my needs met. When we arrived home, there were balloons welcoming us. When my friend arrived home the following Monday, her mat was on the floor, her husband away trying to make money, her daughter out of school so that she could stay home to care for the other children. There was no soft bed, no decorated nursery, there was not even any food…other than the corn from the field drying on the outside tarp.
Needless to say, the entire event stressed me out. I had been in a couple of hospitals in Lesotho, all of them run basically the same. I wanted to do something to fix the problem. There was little that I could do. Jimmy reminded me that I could not change the government health care system. I could not demand that my friend be treated fairly…in rural Africa they accept unfairness. What could I do?
Love the momma and pray that the joy of Christ is evident to her as I care for her and her babies. What did I want to do? Smack a few people upside the head…but missionaries probably shouldn’t do that sort of thing.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Memory Full

I can never seem to figure out why my camera memory is always full. ALWAYS FULL!!!

So I start looking through the pictures last night - and I had to laugh because I seriously take a zillion pictures a day. OF EVERYTHING. Everything that I see.

This is a very small recap of the week through my phone camera. Hope you enjoy.

ACL billboards going up on Barton Springs Road. This is a sign that one of the most wonderful times of the year is coming soon! YIPPEE!!

My favorite neighborhood grocery store has been bought out. I am sad. I am trying to be positive. I keep telling myself it will be okay. I WILL MISS YOU SUN HARVEST.

The old Chevy hits 200,000. Holy cow!

Driving through the park in the early morning and saw these dogs going nuts about a squirrel up a light pole. I also loved that the dog owner was sitting kinda far away enjoying the show.

Snake in our neighbor's pool. Got a huge laugh because our neighbor is a pretty big black guy and he came out in his sexy swim shorts and was 'screaming like a white woman in a horror movie'!!! (his words - not mine)

Love cactus art.

Awesome 3 year old bed head!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Ran into WalMart this morning to get 4 things.
Was headed to the check out when I looked at the contents of the buggy.
At the items I intentionally went in to buy.

Made myself laugh.
Out loud.
Cause I'm klassy that way.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I took Sam and Wyatt to the doctor for their wellness visit.
The oldest and the youngest.

I was asked to step out of the room for part of Sam's visit.
That was a first.
I didn't cry. I sure wanted to.
I was trying my hardest to listen through the door.

I can remember like it was yesterday when the big was little.
I can not believe that the little has gotten so big.

The little loves the big so much.
The big loves the little even more.

Grow children grow.
Be happy.
Feel our bond.
Be strong.
Enjoy your journey.
And don't let my tears of pride and joy hold you back.
I just can't help it.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Eyes Wide Open

Friday afternoon we went to Waco because Miles was scheduled to swim in the Games of Texas - the state swim meet. The week leading up to the meet, he overheard one of his coaches refer to this as the Texas Olympics. It turns out, that was a pretty good description. Athletes came from all over Texas to participate in many events.

Because of Miles needing to be at the pool super early Saturday morning, we chose not to participate in the parade of athletes or any of the game opening ceremonies. As we were driving back from dinner though, we saw the incredible fireworks display over the river. Wow wee!!! These folks do know how to put on a fireworks show! It was a great display that lasted a good amount of time. The kids were thrilled since we haven't seen fireworks in such a long time.

The next morning we saw a beautiful sky. Makes me wonder if we would see this every morning if we were out and driving around at 6:00am. The kids and I just could not get over the colors and the beauty.

Miles and his City of Austin teammates did very well in their medley relay. I first posted that they received 4th place overall, but the final result was 6th. In my book that is still pretty darn fantastic! All of these South Austin boys worked hard and were super proud of their accomplishment.

It is always such a cool feeling to watch your kid do something that you could never do yourself. I had such a feeling of pride watching him have fun and excel.

In less than 24 hours, I saw fireworks light up the Waco sky, a beautiful sunrise and a confident boy swim with all of his heart. I am so glad that I was able to share these things with my family.

I am thankful that I had my eyes wide open.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

When the big kids help momma during the week, we take them to Manvel and drop them off on Sunday and then head down to pick them up on Thursday.

I learned a few weeks ago that it is too hard this summer to make the trip to momma's house and back in one day. It becomes 7+ hours in the car with 3 or more kids, no air condition and 100+ temps. After trying it once, I decided that I would try my hardest not to put the kids or myself through that again. My goal was to drive down on Wednesday night and come home on Thursday morning. That would break up the driving and have us in the car during cooler parts of the day.

Early this morning I got up and loaded the three youngest kids in the car and we headed to Manvel to gather up the older two. Miles had swim practice yesterday and it was my girlfriend's birthday and I didn't want to miss out on celebrating with her - so I ended up bailing on my own goal of making the drive in two days instead of one.

By 11am this morning, we were sitting in momma's house, I was trying to cool off and I was already dreading the long drive home.

And then the phone rang.
It was Heather.
She was in the area for her grandma's funeral and her flight got canceled. She was calling to see if I was still around.
Well low and behold, one thing lead to another and she ended up in the car with me catching a ride to the Austin airport to make the 6pm flight back to stoopid Kansas!

Nothing makes a long hot drive better than having your sister friend in the car. I am not sure we stopped talking once. Somehow having your best friend with you makes it seem a little easier to deal with the three stops to pee and the one pee-pee accident. (yes, all the same kid.)

Somehow it seems that no matter how poorly I have managed to plan (or not plan), things always work out. If I had gotten to momma's Wednesday night, I would have left Manvel by 7am this morning. And I would have missed Heather.

Thank goodness I am so scattered.
I needed that girlfriend time today.

I am so thankful!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cleaning House Makes Me Cry

For the last 4 weeks, Ella and Sam have been spending 5 days a week in Manvel to help my mom. They have enjoyed hanging with her and living the slow country life.

Well, I got a wild hair yesterday and decided that I'd try to re-arrange their rooms before I pick them up tomorrow.

Around our house I have a reputation of making rooms look like a tsunami hit while in the process of cleaning.

I have stuff scattered everywhere. While pulling and piling, I don't pay much attention to what I am touching. I am just trying to get the junk outta the way so that I can move the big furniture.

So I am in Sam's room and I have begun putting things where they belong. I pick up a canvas from the pile and turn it over. I am not really sure what I am seeing at first - and then it hits me. It is me. A pencil drawing of me. A pencil drawing of me holding a baby that says Merry Christmas.

I kind of sit and look at it for a while. I am trying to figure out what the deal is. Do I tell him that I've seen it? Do I put it back under the bed? What do I do?!?!?!?!?!

Naturally, I can't let the dog lie - so I call him.

It turns out, he had paid a kid in one of his classes to draw this picture of me and Wyatt. He was going to give it to me for Christmas, but he wasn't pleased with the way that it turned out.

I try my hardest not to start bawling and squalling on the phone. I tell him thank you and that I love it. And then I hang up and sit in the room and cry for a good long while.

What a kind thing to do.
What a beautiful gesture.
What a thoughtful kid.

I really think that someday this kid is going to be a great husband to some sweet young lady.

You've Come A Long Way, Baby!

Our summer days are filled with swimming, reading, paint by number, finger knitting, a little sewing, some baking and of course, making pet rocks.

The pet rock has come a long way since we were making them in the 70's.
Wouldn't ya say?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Look of Summer

I sometimes wonder why we have such a terrible laundry problem. I know part of the reason is cause I kinda suck at doing laundry. Another part of the problem is that I kinda hate doing laundry. But there is a small part that isn't my fault.

It's cause we are in constant disguise mode in this joint. There is always at least one kid with a weeks worth of clothes on hiding from another kid who is probably mostly naked.

There is the constant pile of blankets and sheets on the living room floor. Every clothes pin, binder clip, chip clip and hair band can also be found on the living room floor. All of these items are in place (in a mess) so that forts can be built on a moments notice.

And the towels. There are towels and towels and towels...

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Call Me Crazy

Our kids have been selling lots of lemonade this summer.

They make the lemonade from Country Time powder, load their stuff in the car and I drive them down to sit on the corner for hours.

Jena loves to do it and would sell every single day if I would let her.

All of this lemonade selling kinda makes us stick out like a sore thumb in the neighborhood.
(maybe i exagerrate a bit)

Our kids are the only kids that aren't selling and donating their profits to the homeless, the animal shelter, the save the schools campaign or the school library.

They are selling lemonade because they want money.

We don't give our kids allowance.

If they want money, they need to earn it.

When did it become wrong to work for your money?

I was pretending to be a customer at the lemonade stand this afternoon.
A lady asked the girls if it was fresh squeezed (um, no) and what they were raising money for.

Jena's answer - 'summer'.

Call me crazy, but is it so wrong for kids to pony up their own money for ice cream, sno beach, chewing gum and movies? And to sweat a little in the process.

We don't have grandparents that send us loads of birthday money. You aren't getting money for doing the jobs that you are suppose to be doing to contribute to our home. You aren't getting money for grades.

I guess our kids could say they are selling lemonade to help needy children.
It wouldn't be a lie.

Monday, July 11, 2011

One giant leap for mankind

Can you even believe we will never see a Space Shuttle lift off ever ever again?

How will little boys and girls be able to dream about being astronauts if there are no America space ships taking off and heading into space?

It really bums me out.
I vividly remember watching the first Space Shuttle take off.
And now our kids will remember seeing the last Space Shuttle take off.
I just can't imagine that the American space program will now be paying the Russians to let us ride on their space ships.
I guess it is just another one of those things that we could have never dreamed possible when we were kids.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


One of the things that I brought home with me from the Country Stampede was a feeling of sadness for a mom and dad that I have never even met.

Thursday night, Heather and I were getting dinner and we saw a flier about this kid, Jacob Kreutzer. He died last year at the Country Stampede. He was 19.

His parents handed out almost 30,000 fliers to folks attending the festival this year.

Click here for local news story about Jacob's parents quest to find information.

How do you send your grown kid to a music festival and handle the phone call that he was found dead?

How do you wake up every single morning not knowing how your kid died?

I don't understand how these things happen.

My heart hurts for these parents.

And I guess if I was them, I would be doing the same thing. Standing outside all day long handing out fliers with the simple hope that just one person would come forward and say that they knew something. Just one person.

Oh God, how I am so thankful for every single day that our kids are safe. That the kids in our village are safe.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011


This past weekend, I had the pleasure of flying to Kansas and going with Heather to all 4 days of the Country Stampede. What a great time! We talked and danced and ate and laughed and talked and cried and sang and talked and just had the very very best time!

One of my favorite parts of the festival was the people watching and getting to know our festival neighbors. We were in the VIP Section which has assigned seats, so for the most part, we were sitting by the same neighbors all four days.

Sitting right beside me was an fella named Luke. He is 81 years old. Been married for 56 years and has 5 kids. This was his 8th Country Stampede. He comes alone because his wife 'smoked for 60 years and never walked around the block, so her legs don't work so well anymore.'

Luke and I struck up a fast friendship. We had an instant camaraderie because we both have 5 kids - 3 boys and 2 girls. We talked quite a bit about our families. You could see that Luke was just as proud of his grown 40-50 year old kids as I am of our school age kids. We talked about raising the kids and he was so complimentary of his wife. He told me how he had worked a lot to provide for his family and of how his wife did most all of the parenting. At one point, he teared up and told me that he wasn't around enough for them when they were growing up and that he worries about it. When I asked to see a picture of his kids, he said he had left it in his planner. Sure enough, the next day he showed up and busted out a wallet size picture of his family. There was no doubt that this is one very proud dad with loads of love for his family.

The other incredible thing about Luke is that he LOVES country music. He knew every artist that was performing and the names the artists he had seen in the past. He also knew what he liked and didn't like. And let me tell you, he was not pleased at all by Tim McGraw only playing for 51 minutes a few years ago. He will be happy if McGraw never comes back to Country Stampede because 'you just don't treat people that way!' And he knew the names of the songs, the words to all the songs. And on the songs that he really loved, he was dancing and clapping!

It was such an honor to sit beside someone with so much heart. I believe that things happen for a reason, and we ended up neighbors with Luke as a reminder not to ever stop living.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

It will dry.

I guess I might be the only person in this entire area that was upset when I heard it rained last night.

Actually, my initial feeling was extreme joy. Thankful for the liquid gold that was falling from the sky. And then I looked out the kitchen window, and the joy disappeared.

I've been sick since Sunday evening. Like can't get out of bed sick. In that time, there was no news, no internet, no radio. I had no idea what day it was, much less that it was going to rain. If I had been able to watch the news, I could have made provisions for rain. And that would be to bring this inside.

(Doctor - Teacher - Artist - Business Executive - Chef - Astronaut - Fashion Designer - Firefighter - Ballerina - Pet Doctor)

You see, this is a very very special book to me. It is special because I can very clearly picture my sweet girls walking around holding it by the plastic handle with some sort of plastic high heeled shoes on. It is special to me because I know practically every word by heart because I have read it to all of our kids over and over again.

It is special to me because it is teaching our girls (and boys) that when they grown up, they can be anything...do anything.

And because of this...

(When you grow up to be a business executive, you'll need a fax machine.)

We bought this book when the oldest were babies. Pre-September 11. The Twin Towers were a place that kids could dream of working someday.

After the towers collapsed, I couldn't read this book to our kids for a while.

(Copyright 1999)

Of course, they know what happened. (Sam even has memories of that day.) And we talk about the tragedy. And the planes. And the innocent people. And what is inside the heart of such a terrible terrible person.

We read this book to Wyatt. And he can also grow-up to be anything he wants to be. And someday he will understand what happened to those Twin Towers. And will be told the same words that we tell all of our kids...

You can do ANYTHING you want in life.
Do not be afraid.
We will always love you.

And I guess he will join the chorus of our kids telling me...
Don't cry mom, cause the book will dry.