28 January 2009

iHeartFaces - JOY!

I'm at it again - shamelessly using a contest as an excuse to plaster my family photos all over the net!

This week's theme is "joy" and joy comes in all sizes, packages and flavors. My kid's face entry is from my granddaughter's first birthday this past July. Yes, an adult is in the photo too but it's really part of the story! Aunt Megan is holding Mirai and the two girls are just too cute and happy together! I think Megan was missing having a baby girl because Kennedy is now 4 years old. And Mirai? Well, she is literally one of the happiest children on the face of the earth - everyone is a friend to her and she knows no strangers.

My adult entry was taken when we lived in England. My son, Timothy, and his bride to be at the time, Megan (yes, the same Aunt Megan above - hey, when you're THIS beautiful, you get a lot of press time perhaps??) came to visit us and we took a trip to the beautiful heart of England, the Cotswolds. We stayed in a 200 year old stone cottage on a farm and I just happened to catch this interaction between them. I don't know what they were discussing but as they were to be married within a couple of months, I can only imagine. I've always loved the tenderness this photo conveys.

20 January 2009

Thank you, Mr. Bush

Dear George (can I call you George?),

I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your willingness to serve these past eight years. It's not been an easy job, not one I'd want for sure. And you were constantly on the receiving end of negativism and criticism, being the butt of jokes on late night television and having your own "home away from home" bombarded with folks when a certain "lady" decided to make your life a living hell. Yet, you bore it all with good grace and carried on doing what you were elected to do, lead the country.

On 9/11, I was an American living overseas. I watched from my small living room in the UK outside London as my beloved country was attacked. It was a sucker punch to me and, with all my children and family in the USA at the time, a most helpless feeling. I actually IRONED that day to have some outlet for my nervous energy - and I NEVER iron. But pillowcases, sheets and shirts got one, if not two, passes with the iron that day as I watched the news. Your ability to calm and inspire confidence were sorely needed and appreciated that day and in the days to follow. And I've been relieved that so far there have been no further attacks on domestic soil while on your watch. Air travel is harder to do - especially international travel - but that has been a small price to pay in the whole scheme of things.

You have been vilified by so many - often unfairly in my opinion. Everyone seems to think they have all the answers but until we've walked a mile in your shoes, we cannot possibly know what it's like to be called on by the entire world to solve so many problems. Living in the Caribbean as an oil company wife, I had my "unfair share" of negativity, receiving hate mail, vilified by other parents at our children's school for taking a stand for right, feeling like every move was being watched and dissected. It's not a fun feeling and one I'm loathe to ever repeat. And the accusations thrown your way dwarf any discomfort I have ever been exposed to. But you have taken it all with grace and "kept the course". I may not agree with all your decisions but I have respect for the way in which you carried out your duties as Commander in Chief.

And I have the utmost respect for that lovely partner in your life, Laura. What an wonderful example of wife and mother she has been to me. And being from Texas, I took great delight in her (and your) Texas heritage and mannerisms. I often tease my husband that one of my jobs is to make him look good, and your wife seems to be of the same mind. She has always been the epitome of grace and friendliness. She is "approachable" and I feel that, if you lived next door, she'd be willing to share a cup of coffee at the breakfast table and talk about her children. Her willingness to take on jobs she never aspired to, and with such grace and enthusiasm, inspired me to be a better wife and mother. She is, in truth, a Great Lady.

Your daughter even attended UT Austin the same years my son and daughter-in-law did. As I sat at their respective graduation ceremonies, I was saddened to learn that you and Laura had decided to have a private celebration and NOT attend your daughter's ceremonies so as to not take away from the joy of other parents due to the crowds your presence would inevitably bring. That was a sacrifice as it is a given that seeing your child walk and get their university diploma is a right of parental passage. How many other such things did you deny yourself and your family for OUR greater good?

When your daughter was married this past year, I was delighted that you were able to keep it a private family affair. The photos we were privileged to see only proved once again how proud you are of your family and the love within that family.

While folks were finger pointing right and left, I wonder if they considered the sacrifices you and your family made to give the eight years of service to our country? The lack of privacy. The constant scrutiny. The hurt your family inevitably must feel when yet another attack on your integrity or leadership is publicized. The inevitable no-win situation you consistently found yourself in when making hard decisions. And being President, I'm sure almost all decisions were hard decisions.

In an age in our country where evoking the name of a sovereign Lord brings cries of derision from an increasingly intolerant left (who, ironically, is constantly calling FOR "tolerance"), your public admission of dependence on a faith based life was nothing short of courageous.

As I watched the inauguration this morning, you and your family stood with heads held high and with confidence. I watched in pride as you completed your years in office and fought back a tear or two as I watched you all fly away to Andrews AFB. I'm thinking about the days ahead as you all move to a new house and transition to the next phase in your life. Moving as often as we did with an oil company, I can relate to the "knowing you're going", the saying goodbye to the now familiar and the mixed feelings of missing the former while excited about the future. I can only imagine that is what is going through your mind now as you relinquish this office and go forth towards "the rest of your life".

So I want to thank you. And wish you well in your new home. Texas is the richer for getting you back (yup, I'm a Texan too) and who knows, perhaps there will be "Bush sightings" in the DFW when I'm up there where we often vacation. To say you've had a wild ride is an understatement and I hope that you can slow down and savor the things you've missed, for our sake, these past eight years.

Welcome home to Texas. We've missed you. And thank you again.

iHeartFaces..."adults" entry

My previous iHeartFaces "children" entry notwithstanding, I have to throw my hat in the ring (or "my jpeg on the net"?) in the adult category. Now, saying I'm publishing ANY photography in an "adult" category makes me wonder if my family will be concerned about the direction my blogging activities are going, but surely they'll read on to know what it's really about.

So I've been looking through iPhoto at my history of photographs and came across this one of my husband taken years ago when we lived in England. He's since shaved off the moustache (and with it about 10 years truth be told...it's rough being married to a suddenly younger man...sigh...) but this has always been one of my favorite photos as it represents my "in residence" family at the time. The children were all either married or in university at the time, all in the states. So Shelby and Mike were my entire family in the UK (can you hear the violins playing in the background?)

We've since moved back to Texas, adopted a "sister" for Shelby (Miss Izzie) and are closer to the rest of the family, now all grown, married and parents themselves.

Ain't life grand?

19 January 2009

iHeartFaces...my entry

Noticed the shiny new button to the right? No? Well you can't miss it now:

It's www.iheartfaces.com and I discovered there is a contest each week for photographed (wait for it now!) faces. Now, I'm no pro but having my not-s0-new-but-still-under-utilized Nikon combined with my new-got-it-delivered-today-oh-wow prime lens, I thought I'd give it a shot. And you can enter too as long as you post before Wednesday and follow the contest guidelines.

So without further ado, I present one of my favorite photos - of one of my favorite people. Here's a fav shot of Kennedy, my eldest granddaughter. Concentrate on the FACE because the contest isn't really titled "I heart faces and elbows"...

May the Force be with me.

And with all these folks who entered too.

Joining the throngs...

Yup, I now own a prime lens. I'm following the crowd. I'm keeping up with the Joneses (or at least Kathleen and Jennifer...) I'm wishing I had grandchildren to practice on instead of canines. But we must work with what we have. Plus, Izzie might read this and be offended. Not that my dog has either a computer or opposing thumbs. But you never know.

I decided to shoot some inanimate objects as well. I know for certain that a) they have no feelings, b) no thumbs (opposing or otherwise) and c) they can't read.

Testing: one, two, three...

Yup, this definitely has the potential to be VERY FUN!

Sigh...now I need a 77mm UV filter...

I'm never satisfied, am I?

18 January 2009

Fun things I've discovered about losing weight...

I went into this whole weight loss thing for one reason and one reason only - to keep my heart from going back into a-fib. And so far so good - my cardiologist is happy with how things are going. I'm feeling healthier.

But now I'm discovering so many other things as well. So I decided to make a compilation of "Fun Things I Never Saw Coming" concerning weight loss:

1) I can wear cute sandals - my ankles don't swell anymore. All those Brighton sandals have come out of their boxes and are getting used.

2) I can get down on the floor and play with the grandchildren - and then get back UP again! (without assistance...)

3) I have to put my car seat further up to be able to drive.

4) I can cross my legs. Yes, indeedy, I can CROSS. MY. LEGS.

5) I can make several trips up and down the stairs without wheezing. My legs and knees aren't too happy about it but at least my lungs aren't complaining.

6) I get cold sometimes. I have an arsenal of sweaters and take one to the movies because I actually get chilled at times.

7) I love honeycrisp apples. Nothing satisfies like a fresh, cool, crisp honeycrisp apple. I crave them. I buy them even when they are $2.99/lb.

8) People compliment me on my clothing and ask where I've bought it - like they are going to go looking for it or something. Like they'd like to have one like it. Like it's something trendy and new! Oh my...

9) I can buy clothing in mainstream stores. I am not limited to "Omar the Tent Maker" and others of his ilk.

10) Mike can put his arms ALL the way around me (and then some). Priceless.

I still have a long way to go. And I plan to take quite a while to get there so it will "stick" and become a way of life. But it sure is fun to have these successes so far. They do make the journey more pleasurable.

14 January 2009


Thanks to my friend, Cynthia (who sadly lost her dog, Patches, this past year). So here's to you, Patches - and dogs everywhere!

Blaming your farts on me.....

not funny... not funny at all !!!

Yelling at me for barking.
I'M A DOG you know!

Taking me for a walk, then

not letting me check stuff out.
Exactly whose walk is this anyway?

Any trick that involves balancing
food on my nose. Stop it!

Any haircut that involves bows or ribbons.
Now you know why we chew your stuff

up when you're not home.


The sleight of hand, fake fetch throw.
You fooled a dog! Whoooo Hoooooooo what
a proud moment for the top of the food chain.

Taking me to the vet for "the big snip", then acting
surprised when I freak out every time we go back!

Getting upset when I sniff the crotches of your guests.
Sorry, but I haven't quite mastered that handshake thing yet.

Dog sweaters. Hello ???

Haven't you noticed the fur?
How you act disgusted when I lick myself.
Look, we both know the truth. You're just jealous.

Now lay off me on some of these things.

We both know who's boss here!
You don't see me picking up your poop do you?

"Sisters, sisters..." - everybody sing along now!

I drove up to Keller on Saturday (via Pflugerville which has nothing to do with the story other than I like to type "Pflugerville" - it's that "Pf" thing...) with my two dogs, Shelby and Izzie. As "loyal readers" know (all three of you), Shelby and Izzie are my schnauzers - one old (Shelbs) and one not-so-old (Izzie-Bizz) - and when I travel in less than 80F weather, they go with me.

I pack up the car, leaving PLENTY of room in the back seat of my Pilot for both dogs - I have one car seat in there that Izzie usually rides in and Shelby gets the entire "rest of the seat" with a fluffy cushion and blanket - yup, they're spoiled. Plus, Izzie gets carsick and has to take anti-nausea meds so gets the "higher up so I can see out" seat - that's HER story and she's sticking to it.

So, I load up both dogs, go into the house to set the alarm and then come out. I start backing out of the garage when I notice it. Both dogs have "dug their heels in" and won't budge. Oh to have had access to my camera (which was totally buried in the back). Shelby initially had her front right paw in the seat and was glaring back at Izzie, daring her to make a move. I could literally hear her say "I call it". Izzie was sizing it up and sort of glaring at her (as much as the 15 lb "junior" dog can glare at the 20 lb obviously "alpha" dog in "the pack"). I laughed at their seemingly sibling rivalry and proceeded to drive on to join Mike at Starbucks before we got on I-10 for our trip.

I get to the main road and look back again when I hear a fair bit of groaning and huffing. And then I laughed out loud to see Shelby in the infant car seat, on the bottom, with Izzie on top, her bottom on Shelby's head and hind legs straddling Shelby's neck and both looking resolute and hanging on for dear life. Both had defiant expressions on their snouts.

Neither one of those dogs gave up their position until I arrived at Starbucks 15 minutes later. I have never seen such a display of canine stubbornness - ever. It reminded me of sister and me when we were growing up and the battle of wills we would get into - especially on a road trip. I had the right side - she had the left. And there was a line drawn down the middle mentally that we would mess with each other's minds on (all the way from Lubbock up to my grandparents in Missouri and Indiana twice a year) to see who could gain the upper hand in the battle of wills.

Perhaps you had to be there to truly appreciate how hilarious those dogs were and a photo would have helped but believe me, it was crazy funny! And watching Luke and Ben and their brotherly "battle of wills" makes it even more funny since it mirrors the antics of a human 4 year old and 1-1/2 year old so clearly.

Good times. Good times.

12 January 2009

A long time ago, in a town far, far away...

...my eldest child was born. I can kid her all I want about age because she is over 30 now...31 to be exact. So it comes with the territory.

"Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you..."

A close up of the "forest fire"

Luke seriously concerned about the safety of this exercise

Blowing out the candles

"Now THIS is what I'm talkin' about!"

I am up in Keller this week specifically for said birthday because, let's face it, we're gonna keep getting older but doing so with panache and chocolate cake is mandatory. So chocolate cake it was - ala Mom and Benjamin - and for panache, P.F. Chang's. And let me tell you, I feel (physically) SO much better than I did 31 years ago right this minute! :) And I wager I will sleep completely through the night as well.

With age comes privilege.

So Happy Birthday, Jennifer! And let me tell you, the 30's and 40's in a LOT of ways are TONS better than those measly ole twenties...

Because, let's face it, "we're older and can afford more insurance".

Not that we need it. :)

06 January 2009

Seen on Christmas Day...

We sincerely hope no one was hurt. Freakish accident. Always at the holidays.

(Please note: no plastic animals were harmed in the making of this post.)

The Rigors of Christmas...

Every year, there are so many things that have to be done to properly prepare for Christmas.

Bills have to be paid.

Gifts must be purchased. And what good deals were online this year!

Parents still have to commute to work.

Housework needs to be done.

And gifts have to be wrapped.

It takes a lot of seasonal choreography to get it all done.

But it is so worthwhile when Christmas morning comes and we get to witness the joy and glee on those sweet faces as they see what Santa has left under the tree.

I hope you got what you wanted from Santa and that you as much fun as we did this year!

"Haul Back the Holly! Put up the..."

And how cute is THIS???
top row - Ben and Kennedy
bottom row - Luke, Mirai and Lleyton (well, the back of his head anyway...)

I've been noticeably absent lately. There's a good reason for this - several actually.

First and foremost, Christmas so was just SO MUCH FUN this year, that the fact of it being over and the kids/grands having all departed was still very much on my mind. We "Wii'd" until the wee hours of the a.m. We ate caramel corn and snickerdoodles and chocolate chip tollhouse cookies and cheesecake (well, THEY did...although I will admit to flirting with the snickerdoodles and caramel corn). We watched all the grands/cousins interact with each other and enjoyed (laughed sometimes at) their banter with each other and with us. The house was teeming with people - 13 in fact, 14 on the day WE had Christmas (Saturday) with my mom as well. So much fun. So little time. So sad to see it end.

Secondly, Mike has been ill. I did my best nag-a-thon for about a week to go to the doctor. Finally, feeling like he was on death's door, he went on New Year's Eve to the Urgent Care Clinic. Seeing as how Kennedy and Lleyton had been sick with bronchitis BEFORE Christmas and now Mike was ailing, I decided to be seen myself. One hour and $60 later, we had matching prescriptions and care sheets. Isn't that just the cutest thing? :) Matchy, matchy after all these years...but I digress. We will live. I evidently will get to live sooner since I came in within 3 days of symptoms. Mike, however, is looking at 2 more weeks minimum of "discomfort" (a fancy term doctors like to use for "I'm freaking dying here! Put me out of my misery!!! When will this be OVER!!!! - similar to the other fancy phrase they use, "Now, you might feel a twinge here) since he didn't come in till 7 days after symptoms.

AHA! I was RIGHT!! But he's been so miserable that my jubilation is downgraded considerably to pity and compassion.

I am a humanitarian after all. Yes, shocking, I know.

Thirdly (is that a word?) I have been disemboweling the living room, taking down all the decor from all the rooms (anyone who's ever been to my house at Christmas knows that I decorate with, shall we say, "gusto"?) and packing them away. I decided it was high time to organize, clean and clear out the "Texas Basement" (an large attic room that has been drywalled and connected to the HVAC system - we can't have basements in Houston as they would flood). I found boxes that had not even been unpacked when we moved back from the UK three years ago!

So now all the decor is put away properly. The sheets and linens all washed and changed. The playroom is tidy and in order. The living room is in a new arrangement which is more pleasing visually and convenient to room flow. The house is a picture of calm and tidiness with everything in it's place.

I'd rather it be full of people and all the resultant mess of having scores of family roaming the premises.

Sigh. It was the BEST of times....