Monday, July 30, 2012

# 321 - Grown-Up Baby of Mine!

I am so excited about my oldest daughter coming into town for her upcoming wedding shower, to be held at my sister's house this coming Saturday!

We're having an "Alice in Wonderland" themed shower with a tea party set-up. There will be all sorts of petit fours, tea sandwiches, tea to drink and Sangria. Didn't they serve Sangria at the tea party with Alice?

So far, with every person counted for RSVP attendance, we have approximately 50 people showing up for this wedding shower, at the least. It will be a jam-packed event, for sure. With a family like mine, there is always a houseful of people to begin with --- it's a family tradition to show strong support during pivotal life moments, such as these. It makes me proud of my family, the show of solidarity is firmly rooted in our bloodline.

Heather will be here late Wednesday night. Her and I have plans to hang out and to have our own slumber party. On Sunday, we were talking about all of the wonderful memories we have to share throughout her childhood, memories of us three gals living life to the fullest. I hope she one day has her own daughter to have such an interactive bond. Heather, Stefie and I were a powerhouse team of activity. And today, on the phone, Heather and I shared laughs over being women...the good, the bad and the beautiful is a glorious thing to have a daughter who is growing to be such an incredible woman in her own right.

Sophisticated Heather with her
cotton-candy mustache. Don't be Jealous!
Since Heather is approaching the ripe old age of 25 within a couple of months and her wedding is also around the corner, we were talking about the next stage...babies. Her and Henry will be ready to begin their own family soon after the Honeymoon; they are very happy about growing a family of their own.

It's funny because I've not really had excitement in talks about babies since I had my own...which we know is nearly an eternity ago...since Heather is almost 25! Hardy Har Har!

Heather and Me --- Love my Girl

Anyway, these talks between my daughter and I about babies in her future (after the Honeymoon) is such a fun prospect for me to even contemplate. I think I will be the happiest grandmother on the face of the earth! There is no doubt that I will want photos taken with my daughter during her pregnancy. It's hysterical, I'm already planning first photos with my unborn grandchildren. And I can guarantee that even if I had twenty grandchildren, each one would be as exciting as the first!

Heather holding one of her friend's babies.
Yep, I can see the I'm-Ready-To-Be-A-Mom
kind of expression on her face. Almost Heather, almost!

As for my future son-in-law, Henry, he is quite a young man and he has more than proven his worthiness to be my daughter's husband. Most mom's can relate, it's difficult to trust a man with your daughter's heart, especially in this day and time. So many young men really do not understand the value of heartfelt commitment and the tenderness it takes to show to his wife that she is HIS woman. No caveman act, but simple faith and belief in her for the person she is in his life. A man cannot make a good husband until he's willing to put forth kindness, compassion and tenderness for the one special woman in his life, it is not something to be taken lightly. All moms want their daughters to be treated better than how women were treated in past generations...we always want more and far better for our children than we had for ourselves.

Henry loves Tux, Heather's dog from
her college days. Tux would cry when
Henry would leave the house. Yes, I
believe Henry is very lovable! Tux too!

I must say, I think Henry is wise in these areas because he has shown that Heather's opinions, her words, and her thoughts are of importance to him. He is off to a great start and just needs to keep it going for the next 50 years! Each year added to the next should only bring about more strength together. Not forgetting the importance of these matters will keep the marriage strong and stronger, until the very end.

Heather and Henry horsing around.

I believe Henry and Heather are ready for the serious commitment that marriage requires. In reality, there are no "classes" to attend that can prepare you for marriage; it requires fortitude, determination and wholesome love. Those things cannot be conveyed in a textbook or in a few hours of pre-marital counseling. As the old saying goes, "It takes two."

For me, watching a woman in the family get married can be very difficult. In my family, a woman gets married and the other women go into's a long-standing joke among the women in my family, yet said with half-hearted laughter. However, I am more than pleased with Henry as my son-in-law because of numerous reasons. He is respectful and loving toward his parents. He comes from strong-minded, stubborn Texas folk, and that's a beautiful attribute in my book. He is a hard worker and will make a good provider for his family. Henry is a big man, but always remembers to be gentle with others. And...he reads.

Lonesome Dove is one of his all-time favorites. I, at 44 years of age, had never read or seen it, but I watched the four-part series out of my admiration for Henry and I LOVED Lonesome Dove. It's now one of my own all-time favorites; I've got to read the book next! Even further, I love Henry's mom. She's someone I could actually sit down and enjoy being myself with, but we're always in the middle of some kind of chaotic activity every time we get to see one another.

Blondie is Henry's mom --- a woman
who is easy to love! He has to share
her now with all of us!

I look forward to sharing more quiet moments with her in the future. And Henry's dad is a character. He's warm-hearted and wants the best for his children and's assuring to me that Henry has a dad that is a kind sweetheart beneath the rough cowboy exterior.

Hermann, Henry's dad, is a fun, loving guy with
a tad bit of "Boot in your ass" character. Works for me!

Together, Henry and Heather will have precious children. With God's blessings...I wonder how many kids my daughter will end up having? Twins run in our family, so I'm going to personally be in hysterics if Heather ends up having twins. Of course, I'll be living on an air mattress in the twins' bedroom if this comes to pass, so my daughter and Henry can maintain some sanity, but it would be such fun to hold ONE baby in my arms that has the mixed attributes of both of our families.

So, the wedding shower is this coming weekend, but I feel such a wonderful depth of excitement of so many good things to come. The wedding itself is in October. Just around the corner! Then, they're off to an extended European Honeymoon!

Honeymoon travel itinerary

Life has taught me a valuable lesson, for those friends of mine who are going through is so important to give grievance to the areas that need to be mourned with a heavy heart, yet it is critical to also separate or to compartmentalize the different segments of your life that deserve to be celebrated or areas that deserve your joy. For me, having a daughter who is close to getting married is reason to celebrate with God who gave me this daughter alongside family and friends who have been an integral part of her life or who have simply been present to offer love and support.

As far as life goes, it always seems to be in a perpetual state of being bitter-sweet. There is always a dark force to reckon with, but the beautiful, joyful rays of sunlight that come from moments filled with love and beauty are stronger than any dark moments. As for me, I am filled with a joy so powerful that it seems capable of escaping the boundaries of my heart to reach my toes!

Heather and me --- I can't wait for this week!!!

Over the next few days, my daughter and I will be sharing important, cherished moments that will be treasured deep in my heart. It won't be long and the wedding ceremony will officially change her name to reflect her husband's name. We will have one less thing in common, yet she will also become a wife and this will be a huge bond between us know what it means to take vows and to be vulnerable to being both forsaken or cherished...long marriages usually have a bit of both. I believe Henry will do his best to cherish Heather. He has kind eyes; I am ready to see those eyes looking back at me in the form of a grandchild.

For my daughter, I am deeply happy. My blessings are upon her and Henry with eager anticipation of their uniting in marriage. As a mom, I am thankful to God for His goodness in our lives.

Heather is on her way...Life will have its twists
and turns, but she's ready to face them all, in her
new role as a wife !

Sunday, July 29, 2012

# 320 - Cottage of My Altered Dreams

Lately, I've been doing a lot of thinking about what constitutes a "dream house." My ideas have changed tremendously over the past couple of months.

The thought of having a three-bedroom comfortable cabin has now given way to simply having a cabin or a country cottage that is suitable for my own immediate needs and for those of visitors that will include my children and future grandchildren. There's no doubt that I will make a beautiful home to share with those I love for the remainder of my life, which I hope will be long and full.


Lakeview f/p

Regardless, I intend to get to a point in life to where I can live in peace. For me, that means making some LONG NEEDED changes.

This past week, I've been speaking with two different builders so that I can get a cabin built on the acreage. These cabins will be in my price range and I'll hire local good-old-boys to do the electrical, plumbing and sheetrocking for me. I can do a lot on my own; it's amazing how much I can do when I'm put to the task and take my time, but the area where I am building has plenty of good labor readily available for a great price.

My drive-way will look similar to this
layout, but will be expanded out to one side
for parking behind cabin.

Here is a little cabin that is in my price range for me to look forward to building on my own. It is approximately 720 square feet with 192 square feet of front porch space.


Peniac f/p
I prefer this plan because it has a laundry area off the kitchen
and a good layout with the entrance at an appropriate location.
I'll probably make a change to the windows in the far wall
of secondary bedrooms, making them solid glass doors that will exit
onto a large side deck or screened-in room
to eventually be added for more outdoor space.


There's no mad rush for me to get the cabin finished out as I'd like, just as long as I go steady and stay on a determined path to make it the cottage of my altered dreams.

I guess I've scaled back to go the Hansel and Gretel route. Actually, the more that I do toward making this a reality, the stronger and more excited I am about the life waiting me. I have tremendous motivation beyond explanation toward building a beautiful life for myself so that I can better enjoy all other aspects of this life.

Such as having a corner of a room that is full of shelves for all my books and pictures of my treasured family members and friends!!

I am learning that venturing into the unknown is sometimes healthier and better for us than staying in a toxic environment that is far from what we ever dreamed of having as an adult.

Yes, sometimes you have to move away from the fire in order to not get burned. But, I'd take a fireplace with a ledge like the one below...

Yes, a home is about much more than sticks and bricks. A home is a place where you feel the warmth of love, acceptance, peace and security. I know I will have such a home again, very soon.

Very, very soon.

Friday, July 27, 2012

# 319 - Family Humiliation

Okay, here is the most goofy family picture of all time! My mother was a teacher at a private Catholic school in these days and they had a photographer come to the school one evening for a gathering to take family pictures of all the staff. Such a nice thing to do!

My mother insisted we all dress up in our 1970's best attire and head for the flashing bulbs.

Father Scholls was the priest in charge of this church and school; I remember him being one of the truest, most kindest souls I'd ever been around, plus, he was funny. The priest's collar didn't stop him from being a jokester.

On this evening, my dad was complaining and whining about having to go through this family picture. Even after we arrived to the church to wait our turn in the worship center so we could go into the little room set-up for the photographs, my dad still loudly moaned and groaned. Not one to be deterred by complainers, I think the priest-father kind of went into a stare-off contest with the burly father of three in order to get this picture taken.

The priest was loyal to my mother; she was one of his best teachers and my sister attended school there as well --- perfect attendance I might add. Anyway, the priest fully expected my father to behave like a big boy for the family photo. I don't think my dad could ever accurately size-up the priest due to the robe hiding potential muscle power, so the priest got what he wanted, and my mom got the family photo she longed to have so we could all be tortured for years and years to come.

I think my dad managed to crack a "cheese" smile, simple because the priest got his way, but I can almost see my dad's mouth moving in this can imagine what he is saying under his breath. Some people just don't know how to play nice unless they're scared of the lightening bolt zapping them. My mother looks rather giddy.

Mom, Bubba, Robin, Me, Dad
Circa 1979

My sister is the adorable blonde. Robin always has a smile on her face; she's now one of my best-friends in the world! The many years between our age no longer makes a difference. Of course, I'm the goofy, gawky teenager in the back, probably around 12 years old, with the feathered hair that I managed to do everyday, in spite of having curls and no flat-iron at my disposal. Bubba, the brother, well, he was very handsome in his suit and was probably trying to pinch me while also being scared that I actually WOULD throw him through a window, as I always threatened, any window, the closest window. I'd pick him up and RUN to it as he screamed for mercy. Ahhh...those were the days.

My mother...I look at her and see her beauty, inside and out. I see her fighting spirit that led her to conquer so many challenges. She would die at 57 years of age, from breast cancer, but she lived from the age of five as a "survivor" of Polio. Therefore, she lived almost her ENTIRE life as a SURVIVOR.

And my dad, he might have been a royal jerk on this evening, but these days, he's a great friend. To be fair, I guess his macho personality meant he couldn't express excitement and eagerness over a family photo. Perhaps the "jerk" routine was the best route for him to take. These days, even if I didn't know him as my dad, he'd still be a fun person to be around. He's one of those mean old goats that chilled out with age. Maybe it's the bad knees or the worn out part of him that realized angry young men turn into angry old men, if they aren't willing to change. My dad probably says at least one wonderful, uplifting thing to me every week --- one way or another. He lets me vent. He's a man who has learned to listen and to actually give wise advice.

There's no shortage of loving support from my dad. However, I do my part as well. I am happily there for my dad when he needs me and even when he doesn't.

Since my mom passed away from cancer, my dad has battled his own bout with cancer. To the week of the first year anniversary of losing mom to cancer, dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer. A tumor was removed that put him at Stage 4 due to tumor size, but the miracle was the huge tumor had not grown through the bladder wall yet and the doctor managed to save his bladder, barely. The surgery would not be without major pain from a surgically thinned out bladder wall. But, the outcome was truly a miracle. I sat in the surgery room the morning of his surgery, by myself, saying my prayers. I had dug my sunglasses out of my purse and put them on at one point because I knew the tears were coming. I could not imagine our family going through the cancer routine so soon, especially as we were going through the first year anniversary of my mom's death.

An elderly woman saw me hiding behind my book with my ridiculous sunglasses, but that didn't stop her. I guess with age comes boldness. She rose from her seat and sat next to me...asking if she could pray with me. I can't tell you what a huge outreach her risking her own vulnerability meant to me. I told her that my dad had a tumor found on a scan, and the surgeon was trying to biopsy it, remove it, or remove his bladder, as we were speaking. Dad had been warned that he might wake up without a bladder, they knew the tumor was large. I also explained that I was especially on edge because it was also the week anniversary of my mom being gone for a year, due to cancer. The old lady waved over a GROUP of people and they circled me and began to pray. It was overwhelming. A traveling prayer group...or a big family or group of friends...I don't know, but it was powerful in a loving and positive way.

Wow. It wouldn't perhaps change the outcome, but it did help me cope with what was to come a couple of hours later.

The surgeon, Dr. Hemphill, came out a couple of hours later, covered in surgical garb, with sweat pouring down his face and he loudly proceeded to tell me that the tumor had been removed, but there was no doubt it was cancer. He pulled out these sheets of paper that had a series of pictures on them and he pointed to photo after photo that showed the tumor; it was discolored and large and beastly looking. He stood at the entrance to the waiting room with everyone listening...who could blame them? He said the tumor was "Big, Bad and Ugly" and the easiest to spot as cancer, and he was positive the biopsy would only confirm his diagnosis. I was a bit shocked, but very appreciative of his candid communication.

Needless to say, I think everyone in the room felt deflated, but I assured them that their prayers would have lasting value and the peace they shared with me, the strength in things bigger than a tumor, helped me digest the news.

My dad, whether fully drugged up or with a clear system, kept flirting with the nurses. I mean SHAMELESSLY flirting. I'd been with him as they prepped him for surgery and as they had injected the medication to "relax" him and I'd been with him through the hours of recovery, as he was still groggy. If he could open his mouth, he was hitting on a nurse...asking if they were ready to go dancing that evening. He was a BAD boy! All I could do was stand there and roll my eyes. But, everyone got a kick out of his joking around, in spite of his scary situation of knowing there was a tumor to confront, he kept his humor about him. I think the nurses appreciated his good attitude and knew he was also nervous.

But, the best sweet revenge, came later that afternoon, after he began to regain his clear-head. Since he KNOWS he's bad WITHOUT drugs in his system he began to worry about how he behaved as he was under the influence of surgical drugs. With trepidation, he began to ask me, "Did I get too out of line while under sedation? Did I give any of the nurses too much of my good charm?"

I gave him a serious expression with a tad bit of embarrassment, and half-whispered, "Dad, it was only bad after you starting hitting on the male nurse. They didn't know what to do with you"

His eyes grew huge and horrified, "No Sh*t? Why did I do that? There must be an explanation...Did he look like a gal?"

I did the one eyebrow in the air bit, "Oh no, he was built with big guns on display, over six foot and definitely no mistaking his maleness, especially with that mustache. You don't remember the mustache?"

Dad's deep shade of red began to be chased by a sickly looking green color. The funny part is...he'd actually had a really cute, young blonde nurse that had been good-natured about his flirting, so I knew he was imagining HER, but doubting what he'd seen because of the medication in his system.

Awww, these are such beautiful moments between father and daughter.  I think the priest from my mom's school would've been proud of me!

I busted up and let him off the hook, "No dad, even sedated, you kept your preferences in order for your macho image...strictly harassing the female nurses. In fact, there weren't any male nurses on duty to help you."

After this conversation, it wasn't so hard for him to hear that he had cancer. At least he wasn't hitting on the male nurses...all was right in the world.

Have I mentioned that I love my dad?

And after horrific treatment that lasted a year, which made him very sick...he's hit the five-year mark without a return of cancer. He lived with me during that year, and I'm glad he let me help him through the worst of it.

By the way, I think those prayers helped.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

# 318 - Sharing Good Ones...

The Texas Hill Country posted these photos. I love that site!

Here is a funny one they titled "Texas-Size-Mosquito-Repellent."


Photo: How 'bout a good ole Texas Caption.....

Best Captions by most LIKES are .....
Maria Rebecca Garcia-  Can we have 6 Number 2's with 2 Dr. Pepper's and 4 Cokes... and how about some apple slices....? You don't have carrots... do you?
Jason Aaron Oller-  So hungry they could eat on a horse!!!
JettieAnn Bailey-  "Whisky for my men `n beer for my Horses" To go.
Lisa Marie Reinhart-  Burgers for my men, apple slices for my horses
Louis Stephens-  Could you hurry please, we need to get back to the herd before they scatter all over the highway.


Photo: Good night folks.  Peace & sweet dreams~~~  :)  --CG

For all dog-lovers...

Photo: Good Sunday to you......

The way my kids grew up...

Photo: I agree & still enjoy this playstation.   Hard to beat skippin' rocks, splashing through the creek, checkin' out new bugs, climbin' trees, searching the caves in the cliffs, or just sitting with my feet in the water watchin' the teeny fishes come check me out.  :-)  --CG

Hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

# 317 - All's Not So Bad

Everyone should have a Lola in their family. My Lola is my great-maternal-grandmother. My mother and her grandmother were best-friends, so I got a heavy dose of this my credit. My great-grandmother stayed at our house for most of my childhood. On many school days, I'd come home to find my Nanny there because she was my official "babysitter."

Lola lived a very interesting life. She died at only 66 years of age, under very tragic circumstances and I have always missed her. There are some people in your life whose absence leaves a big heart-pothole and she is on the list of pothole worthy people.

Nanny's mother was full-blooded Native American Indian. Nanny's grandfather was the medicine man of the tribe, which is a position of honor and prestige within a tribe. So, my Nanny raised me with MANY Native American traditions that I thought were "normal" for every family to know.

One of the things she would always say during a rainstorm was that it would rain again tomorrow if the sun could be seen during today's rain. She taught me how to SMELL rain before it ever made an appearance and to FEEL the weather, as if my body were a barometer. To this day, I still make jokes about my body being a barometer, but that joke comes from CONSTANT childhood lessons about the weather. I taught the same to my children.

She taught me how to watch the clouds, to look for rain in the distance and to know whether it was coming my direction. I suppose she found all of these abilities to be very valuable in the days of not having a reliable weather man on television with a fancy weather radar to warn everyone in advance to head indoors.

All I know is...I have extreme heightened senses related to the weather. When I'm in the forest, I notice the trees on a level that I can't even describe to others. I notice the slightest change in the wavering of the limbs, noticing how far down the branches the movement is spreading, I can hear the changes of the wind flowing in and around the trees with every sound seeming to be magnified by my internal radar...often I've asked people around me, "Is it going to rain?" I can sense rain, even though the sun is out...I can SENSE it coming even though the weather appears deceptive. So often I've been answered, "No, it wasn't in the forecast." However, usually within 30 minutes, we're beneath a sudden summer downpour.

It took a few years for my husband to realize that if I'm asking the question, it's probably about to rain, no matter how it looks outside. I think his own senses have been heightened by my constant attention to the changes in weather throughout our marriage. Probably, no one discussed it on the level I had approached it...but my children definitely are more in-tune with the weather than most young adults their age.

Most of my childhood lessons about the weather revolved around rain. I guess being able to sense these things for nature-respecting people such as Native Americans had been integral to their daily life and passing down these things to children and grand-children were very important.

So many things she taught me. I wish I would've had more time with her.

My nanny grew up as what many would consider to be a "wild child" which was probably typical of many Native American families because they were more apt to let their children be children. I could tell things about her that could fill a book. She never had a need unmet, yet she never carried more than $5.00 on her, tucked in a purse, at any given moment. She simply never wanted for much of anything.

Her motto in life was "All's not so bad."

She'd say that in response to everything, even in the midst of terrible circumstances and to the irritation of a few people. However, if something bad happened in the family, she'd swoon and have to find a place to sit, fast. She couldn't tolerate bad things happening to her family. No doubt, she lived a hard life, yet she always found a reason to joke around, to dance, to laugh, and she had so many sisters and brothers that she said she didn't have time for friends.

I'm blessed to have such beautiful memories of being around a woman of unusual strength, of minimal needs, of strong belief in God, yet never to the point of feeling so holy that she judged or preached to others...she truly loved people for who they were in life. She literally lived by example, not by words. It didn't matter if you'd just stepped out of prison or out of church, she'd love you just the same.

I guess this woman instilled the love of country in my blood. Beyond any one's viewpoint of themselves living a "country" lifestyle, this woman was pure country with a bloodline that truly lived off the land. When I was very, very young, I remember being reprimanded to get off the stool at the sink and to quit trying to look out the kitchen window because she was outside catching a chicken and wringing its neck so it could be served for dinner.

After that incident, my mother seemed to think it was uncivilized for me to be exposed to such things, so she insisted she buy chicken for nanny from that point forward. Slowly, the chickens disappeared and were not replaced. I guess this is why I started to develop a huge desire for chickens, my mom didn't allow me to go out back with the chickens...I guess she was trying to further our family's "civilization" in her own way.

Weekly, I sat on the porch preparing vegetables just picked from the garden with my nanny; she'd sing songs from church and hum a few beautiful soft chants that I wish I could remember with more than vagueness. She taught me to savor these ordinary moments as part of a glorious day.

Most people find peace during the pitter-patter of rains. For me, my entire life, it's like a heavy sedative. I'm so in-tune with nature that a rainy afternoon brings me tremendous relief, as if I'm under pressure and the rain is my relief valve that's letting off tension. My girls are the same way. Beware of rain because if it hits, they go out like a light.

I guess I associate rain with tender teachings of my youth and it helps me to remember, no matter what...All's not so bad.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

# 316 - A Giraffe on the Farm?

Looking back on the years of raising my daughters, I'm so happy to have had unique moments with them.

Every mom should have an afternoon of feeding a Giraffe with their kids. Isn't this a normal thing to do?

I'm feeding the tall creature on a
Mommy outing with the Girls.
Heather and Stefie weren't afraid.
For weeks afterward, they continually asked
if they could have a pet giraffe.

By the way, it's a good thing to be fast on your feet so you can dodge giraffe slobber as it starts to SLOWLY fall your direction. And hang onto the bucket tightly because the giraffe will be glad to take it off your hands.

Yes, I'm very happy to have done these weird things with my children.

I had to go first, then the girls were eager to
be like mommy and feed the Giraffe. We had
to get a couple of re-fills on the feed in the bucket.

I can't even recall all the amazing things I've done with my girls, but this was one of the most unusual experiences we three enjoyed to the fullest.

At the end of this day, I concluded that giraffes were indeed one of the most beautiful and elegant animals I've ever seen, up close!

Can I have a pet giraffe?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

# 315 - Thank God for Electricity and Good Books!

Going through all of our boxes and closets brings me across little things like this sign, made by Stefie when she was a wee little one. It has a clothes pin glued to the back of the picture so it can be pinned to something. Ingenious! Of course, I pinned it to the lamp next to my bed.

How could this sign have been found at a better time than this? I needed to be reminded that "God will make a home for me."

Well, He always has in the past and I'm sure He will keep doing so in the future. God has truly done some miraculous things for me in my lifetime. I'm sure more of His miracles are to come.

However, today I had a few sad moments, then I stop to look at this drawing that Stefie made and I notice all the beautiful pictures drawn on the page...the sun shining brightly in the corner, wearing sunglasses; the rainbow over the house; and the little figure that looks like a cheerleader, but it actually has yellow angel wings. So intensely sweet!

Right now, I'm feeling a little sad, yet still thankful for all I've been given. I was reminded tonight that I should be grateful for having electricity, running water and gas for cooking...and I am grateful. And I don't mind cleaning the floors every day, the toilets, doing laundry and keeping things disinfected --- polishing furniture is a delight as is cleaning all the window blinds and vacuuming the carpets upstairs and downstairs. Life is a never-ending list of chores that need to be done. But, I'm surely thankful to my husband for the electricity.

As for my own tool box, well the photo below shows my nice set of tools that have pink accents. I like having my own toolbox. My grandmother gave me my first one when I was probably 13 years old. It was a rite of passage, you turn 13 and you get your own toolbox.

When our daughters moved out of the house, they got their own tools, even Stefie who lived in a dorm her first year away from home had her own tools -- in her DORM.

I don't have any problem with hanging things. I can attach the wire picture holder hardware to the back of a frame that needs hanging. I can take my little screw gun and make things happen!

With the hammer, I am decent. And, I do know how to use a stud-finder very well.

I might be slower than the next guy, but I'm consistent and determined.

Some people might see me as pathetic in my attempt at...anything...maybe some just see me as pathetic overall, but I see myself as a person who loves being a part of this world and who tries to be as self-sufficient in as many things as I can do by myself! Like most women, if on my own, I'll have to hire out for a few things or maybe I can sew on a few buttons and repair some hems and even cook as a bargain for some help from good neighbors. One thing is for sure, I'd do my best to strike a good decent deal with everyone walking away as if they were able to get help in an area that was needed.

I might not be as strong as I once had been and I might be clumsier than ever, but I don't give up. In fact, the fumbling often makes me so frustrated that I go after the job with even more vigor than before; I keep going until I get it right.

I'm not one to throw pity parties, not that it's never happened, just rarely. However, some people around here have a viewpoint of me as if I live in one big pity party. Well, let me tell you, I'll shoot off the fireworks when I'm ready to throw a full blown pity party, but no one will be invited because I like to do those solo. Besides, everyone needs a pity party every once in a while, then you pick yourself up by the boot-straps and you face the beast directly so it can be conquered. Now, that's how I do it. I learned from the best, from my mother who was a true conqueror. But, for some people, no matter how much I conquer, their viewpoint of me is in the pits because that's where they'd like to keep me. I'd rather steer clear of foul-minded people like that --- they don't do me much good other than to try to drag me down. No thank you for the shove, I stumble enough on my own and certainly do not need extra help in that area. Don't hold out that deceptive hand of help, unless you truly intend to help lift me up. Otherwise, keep your hands in your pockets and away from me!

Anyway, these tools of mine have been used a lot over the past few weeks, especially after I took apart one of the twin beds and moved it across the 2nd story to another room, then put the frame and headboard back together again, on my own, with my little tool kit. I even handled the mattress and box springs on my own, along with the heavy nightstand.

Anyway, I am hanging in there --- still going through things in this house. Today I went through a sack of old clothes, and then went through boxes of old things to decide which things needed to be trashed and which things need to be saved. Tossed were a ton of old papers. I took the time to stop and complete several pages of a medical questionnaire for an upcoming doctor's appointment, super exciting. Then, as mentioned, I got to clean house...the usual sweeping, mopping, laundry, dusting, toilet cleaning and vacuuming kind of stuff --- unload, load the dishwasher and bleach the countertops...all the usual stuff in a day's work to keep a house under control.

And I've been taking time to read. Right now, I'm reading an older book, published in 1981. Heck, in 1981, I was 13 years old. You've probably heard of this book, it's titled, "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" by Harold S. Kushner.

Before I picked up the book and started reading it, I had thought, "Man, it seems like I've heard about this book all of my life. Then, I look at the publish date of 1981 and realize, WOW, this book was published before I became an adult, no wonder I heard about it all my adult life!

I must say, this book has been an emotional read for me. It's not what I expected, not at all. There are some notions about God that I have found to be tested while reading this book, but it boils down to confirm that God does want to help us, but we cannot blame him for all the bad things that happen to us while we are here on Earth. For the record, I never have blamed God for anything, but I've sure told him a time or two that I can't wait to get to Heaven to get the whole story!

A rabbi wrote this book after a hugely tragic experience, especially if you look at the context as to what he endured as his child suffered a most rare, horrific condition, probably the worst a child could endure. His son was would never be the same for anyone in the family. I can't even imagine the specifics of what the author and his family had to endure as their child suffered from this condition that goes beyond body-altering ramifications to creating the worst scenario for a child's mind and for the loved one's minds...I can't even express the admiration I have for families who live with children who have the condition that the author's child lived with for 14 years. I don't know how many of us would be able to hold up to such cruel tests in our own life.

His son had Progeria, which causes rapid aging...he would grow into the body of a little old man instead of a body of a child and would die young while looking withered and ancient, the cruelest of conditions. For the child to never be a child, but to instantly grow into advanced old age is unthinkable. If there is evil roaming the earth, this condition would typify the cruelty of evil, especially because it targets a child in the most unimaginable twisted way possible. I cannot even say anything uplifting about it, other than the minds of these children are so above their condition that they can usually teach us a thing or two as they learn from life in a rapidly aging body. These parents find the strength that most parents don't think they'd be able to locate. Still, I think it's a condition any parent would be crushed to confront.

Like most people, his experience led him to write this book and it is at the least, profound. A couple of times, I had to set the book down, either out of frustration or sadness, because it seemed God was getting a bum deal, then I would realize that the author was leading to the most interesting and different conclusions about God that I've ever seen.

Anyway, this is a timeless book for anyone who is going through a difficult phase in life. The book should probably be easy to find since it was in print for so long and might still be in print. I'm fairly confident that most used-book stores will have it in stock and it would be worth it to search it out to add to your personal library.

I'm near mid-way finished with the book and will do a post on it when I'm completely finished and after I've have had time to absorb all the words that have me spinning and questioning things as I've never done before. The author, Kushner, has also suggested, throughout his own book, that there have been other books that he found interesting and helpful in his search for why bad things happen to good people. I plan on writing all of those down and reading those as well.

But, my next book is a re-read. Actually, I'm working on reading these two books simultaneously. This book is worthy to stay on the bookshelves so you can pick it back up every two years or so and go over it once more. Needless to say, I love books by Henry Cloud. He gives straight-forward advice about boundaries with a Christian viewpoint. He makes it clear that just because you're a Christian doesn't mean you are to be walked on because others think it's YOUR job to just get over their trespasses against you. No, it doesn't work that way in life, only to the person who is eager to take advantage of a good heart. You are worth having boundaries and worth being respected. It's okay to quit putting up with the dysfunction simply because you had previously felt obligated...God does NOT expect you to be anything but cherished and loved, even if you must be the first in line to make sure the boundary breakers don't think it's "your problem" if they treat you foul.

"Boundaries" by Henry Cloud was originally published in 1992. Definitely a good book for any Christian feeling conflicted about HOW obligated they should be toward others who are not as good-hearted as they'd like to claim to be.

Like I said, it's a book worth having around.

My sister and her husband just led a few Bible Teaching classes at their church and the book they choose was a book about children and boundaries, by Dr. Henry Cloud. I'm sure it was fascinating. Of Course, my children are in their 20's and my sister's youngest child is five...we've got quite an age span between our children. But, I'm very proud of my sister for being involved in her church. She and Warren always make good-hearted tries to be better people and to be mentors to others.

Anyway, I am going to get back to reading. It's late. I'm enjoying my peace while it lasts in the house. It is quiet with everyone fast asleep, dogs and chickens included. It might take me a while to fall asleep, I've had some insomnia, but last night I slept hard and had vivid dreams...that's pretty rock solid for me. I think I'm going to have another night of deep rest. Thank you God for electricity and for a solid night's rest!

Monday, July 23, 2012

# 314 - Magnificent Chair is NOT a Drink Table!

I have a magnificent chair, a family antique that I treasure. I am the fourth generation to have this chair in the family. It came from my Great-Grandmother, to my grandmother, to my parents' house and now to my house for the past several years. To be honest, I don't know if it goes back beyond my great-grandmother, it very well might have belonged to her parents, so the history is likely further beyond than I personally know.

Needless to say, this chair gets a high level of respect from everyone in this household because we know it's been around and has seated generations of family members before us that are now gone and buried. It's a heavy concept. I've calculated that this chair must be at least a century old.

My great-grandmother lived in Palestine, Texas and she lived with sophistication and elegance as a very educated, progressive woman for her day. Her family owned and operated the local grocery store. In fact, in the photo below you will see the parade cart pulled through town to advertise their store while participating in the festivities. They lived in town, in a large three story Southern house that would make your jaw drop open.

My great-grandmother Boyd's store advertisement
during the town parade. I can only imagine the year.
Every detail was important to Grandma Boyd. She taught her children how to be successful business people and to entertain with elegant flair. She thrived in an environment that was disciplined and every detail had to be "perfect." As a small child, sitting on her soft lap, she'd read book after book to me as I played with her drooping earlobes that were casualties of wearing elaborate heavy clip-on earrings every day of her life. Pearl's daughter (my grandmother) did not like reading books to her grandchildren, but Pearl, my great-grandmother loved reading any book I'd bring to her as her daughter would sit and smoke and do crossword puzzles while watching television.

I never saw Grandma Pearl Boyd's formal dining room displayed in all its Southern Grandeur, but I did have one chair in our house while growing up that had belonged to her. It seemed everyone got a little bit of everything once she passed away. Since my family was the last to get into town once she died, we were literally left going through the debris everyone else had left behind. This chair was one of the things that someone didn't want or didn't have room to stuff into their loaded down vehicle. That's how we ended up with it. The chair had been left behind in the rambling old house along with papers strewn about the place and empty closets full of discarded hat boxes that I also brought home. My mother would later give the hat boxes that I'd kept in my room to someone else, without asking me...she never realized how important those hat boxes had been to me. Oh well. At least I have this gorgeous chair!

Years later, another family member would like to have this chair for their own house. But, it's been with my immediate family for more than 30 years and with our immediate family it will stay. One day, it will be passed down to the next generation within our immediate family.

Pearl Boyd died in her late 80's, about 34 years ago.

It is nice to have a part of her in my house, a part of her that meant something to her. I have such sweet memories with Grandma Boyd, especially her willingness to nurture the love of reading.

The chair that had been part of her dining room table set is made priceless by the needlepoint design on the backrest and on the seat that Grandma Boyd stitched and upholstered herself. This particular chair is a "head" chair because it has arms. She would have had two of these, at least. I feel incredible that we have been blessed to own one of these end chairs.

An antique chair like this is properly moved by picking it up by the seat, not the arms. Since this chair is more of a "display" piece, we keep it in a certain place that highlights its beauty, but we do not leave it in a place to be incorporated with the regular seating. I especially work hard to keep the needlepoint work preserved for as long as possible.

However, we did have a couple come to stay a few nights at our house so they could take care their personal business in the Houston area and with me downstairs, they decided to make use of this antique chair in a way that would be odd and truly disrespectful. One evening I walked into the guest bedroom to find them unpacking, and I had brought in a couple of extra pillows. Looking over next to the bed, I was shocked to find they had appropriated that antique chair; it had been wedged in between other furniture and scraped, so that its needle-point SEAT could be used as a nightstand table, complete with a iced-tea drink sitting directly atop the threads - the threads that my great-grandmother had hand-sewn.

I looked around at all the other available furnishings that could've been used to suit their purpose and was stunned that this chair, a chair that was KNOWN to be a treasured antique could be so carelessly appropriated. It seemed to be an ugly act to state their feelings of disrespect without having to say a word.

The people making this grave error in judgment were not young adults, they were old enough to know better and should have attempted to use the brain God gave them to not have used this chair in this manner, a chair that is obviously a prized antique. Worse for them, this couple likes to brag about being self-taught antique experts.

One thing it did teach me that night...that some people think everything you have is worthless because it doesn't belong to them. My husband and I take very good care of our antiques. With our care, these furnishings will be passed down to our daughters and hopefully will be used for many generations.

I've learned to put some things behind a locked door when these people come to visit and let me tell you, this person gets set off like a firework when there is a locked door she can't open, even though it's not her house, none of her belongings are here, and it's none of her business what is behind that locked door, she goes a bit nuts wanting the DAMN KEY to unlock the door! It's been very revealing and a bit humorous!

As for the chair, I love looking at pictures of my grandmother's house from around 1930 and to see a piece of furniture in her living room that I now use in my own house. There's a sense of stewardship over antiques. The way I see it, all of those former generations were able to keep these furnishings nice and in good shape through their own years and I certainly don't want to be the owner who was the one who screwed up with keeping the furnishing in good order. If the person before me could keep it polished and kept clean in the 30 years they cared for it, surely I can do the same.

Needless to say, I try to keep the antiques free from damage by people who may not realize an antique is in their presence. But, most anyone on the planet can look at this old chair and know that it is special and probably very old. Most anyone would not dare to look at this chair with the old fabric seating and delicate needlepoint backing, then say, "Oh, I think I'll use this old chair as a make-shift table to hold all of my things, including my drink that's dripping all over the place." No, I don't think many people would be that dense or perhaps that calculating in their resentment at the family treasures we've worked hard to maintain.

But, careless behavior is definitely revealing. Sometimes our actions are indeed worth a 1,000 words.

I am doing my best to make sure my children have some of the best pieces in their own homes one day. I think the passing down of antiques does not happen until each household has raised their own children. So, we'll see --- our antiques have a lot of aging to still do before they are passed to my own children.

Until then, with proper care, our antiques will continue to accumulate value both monetarily and to grow more endearing in our heart, day by day.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

# 313 - Creepy Happenings

This is a post that requires old-fashioned imagination. I didn't have the time or inclination to take pictures as I wrote it last night.

Well, it's not even Halloween and there have been creepy happenings around the house this week. I don't like walking into one of the bedrooms to find the ceiling fan chain swinging wildly back and forth as I'm looking around trying to figure out how it can be moving so fast, on its own.

I put my hands around the chain to make a circle to feel if the A/C register is blowing on it. Then, I watch it swinging and figure it's one of those things. Perhaps the fan brace that is in the attic has been impacted by wind blowing through the attic? Sounds good to me.

Then, I've heard sounds coming from the attic, as if someone was in there stomping's probably another critter trying to find refuge where it can be found, but I don't like it. Sounds in the attic are ultra creepy.

If you are from the North, you probably deal with basement sounds. In the South, we have attics. Either one is not good when it comes in creepy-form.

Then, this evening, I'm cleaning the gameroom upstairs and going from the playroom to the gameroom to the playroom to the gameroom, both rooms located on the second story. I'm passing through the hallway upstairs to get from the playroom to the gameroom and there's nice large closet with deep shelves for storage located in this hallway. Yes, this house has AWESOME closet space with plenty of room for extra storage---there's my sale's line for the week to market this house. And no, I'm NOT a heavy walker because I don't like the sound of footsteps. Besides, my footsteps are not powerful enough to shake this house in the slightest, at least, I'd like to THINK that way!

Okay, going between these two rooms in cleaning mode, I stop to gather the trash sack from the far corner of the gameroom. The sack is in my hands, I'm tying it in a knot when I suddenly hear CRASH, BANG, BOOM from the hallway behind me!!! I glance backward, then slowly finish tying the trash sack into a knot while on auto-pilot.

Initially, I thought I'd pretend that I didn't even hear the sound. Sometimes, that works well. I don't get scared easily, but this crash was loud. In fact, as I'm trying to go about my household business upstairs and trying to pretend to hear nothing...enjoying my peaceful existence while cleaning, I now hear Deputy Dave yell from downstairs, "What was THAT?"

Augh! I look over to the hallway. I'm about 20-25 feet from the crash impact. Automatically, I yell, "It's nothing!" I don't want him to come upstairs to start inspecting when I am fine and I can handle it on my own.

However, he persists in wanting to know, "What WAS that?"

Now I must go to the closet. But, I know it's nothing important because the closet only has books and games and decks of cards...boring, non-breakable things that are nothing to be concerned about, so I yell down to him, "It's nothing! Something just fell in the closet, no biggie!"

Augh! At least he was satisfied and stopped asking what had fallen.

I just want to clean the gameroom! But you know how that gnawing feeling is deep in your gut when you've GOT to find out what has happened...well...the gnawing was present, I had to investigate, so I dropped off the trash sack next to the stairway banister on my way to the hall closet.

Yep, my brave self goes to the closet. To the closet I go. Carefully, I open the door because something might have fallen from the top shelf and be stuck between the door and the shelving, UNTIL I open the door and catch it on my pumpkin head. Yes, being over 40 teaches you wise lessons.

Slowly I open the door to find a good-sized book lying on its side. As I open the door fully, the book tumbles onto its side, out of the closet to plop open at my feet. Really? I guess the door wasn't there for it to lean against any longer. Well, that sounds good to me.

From the position the book had been laying, on an upper shelf, it did fall about five feet onto hardwood flooring within the closet itself, so it's understandable that it made a loud noise upon impact. And everyone knows that anything that falls on the second story, especially with hardwood floors, will cause a resonating sound to take place.

I look up at the shelves. There's no way this book could've fallen on its own. The books are all positioned in a manner that is non-falling. Books are not positioned on the edge. The shelving is deep and adequate to prevent toppling-prone books from taking the plunge.

Oh well.

I reach down to pick up the book that is now blocking the closet door from being able to be closed...and I AM CLEANING, so I grab the darn book and have to let out a little gasp because this particular book belongs to Stefie and was purchased from the Christian bookstore last year. It's title is, "Preparing for Marriage."


Geez, of ALL books! Why couldn't the crashing book have been the title NEXT to the one that fell? That one is, "The Road Less Traveled". I'd prefer it had been that book to decide to leap off the shelf. How about the James Patterson book above it? Any other book would've been nice.

Is this a sign? If so, who is it intended for? Just because it lands at MY feet, what does that mean? Perhaps it means a person should read these kinds of books BEFORE they get married? I kind of giggled to myself at all the thoughts rolling around in the spare space that is called my brain.

For a brief second, I take a leery glance at all the shelves. I look up at ALL THE BOOKS ON THE SHELVES, as if I feel rebellious and I put it back on the shelf. Then, I do a double-take to make sure it is snug in its spot. Same as it was before the fall.

I don't like it.

Stefie, Why couldn't you have taken your book along with all the furniture to your new apartment? That book has come to life in my closet, Not funny. Quit laughing, I said it wasn't funny.

Heather, you better not be laughing either. Even though we've already had one creepy episode with this closet and the beads...another story for another time...the book is a different story. Maybe I'm supposed to mail the book to you...after're about to get married! Let the book hop around in your closet!

Closet, the next time, I want you to throw something like "Fifty Shades of Gray" at me. Then, I can be creeped out and amused while trying to figure THAT one out!

Friday, July 20, 2012

# 312 - Sharing the Soul

As a mom, I've diligently kept all of my daughters' art work from their childhood. Years ago, I made extra large-art portfolio holders by stapling two posterboards together, leaving the top open to slide in their artwork. This kept their work from being bent and creased.

In an easily accessible area, the portfolio was kept behind my china cabinet with the edge of the portfolio barely sticking out to make it easy to retrieve for adding new artwork to it.

Recently, I took a day to spread out some of their work and to simply gaze upon the beauty of each piece. I'm considering buying very large frames so that I can create a collage of framed artwork for each daughter; I plan to put these collages in the guest bedroom for everyone to enjoy.

I imagine, one day, when my children have children of their own, my visiting grandbabies will get a kick out of seeing their mommy's art, created when their mommy was a child. It will be a link from childhood to childhood.

Some of their work is abstract, other work is "still-art" and a few pieces reflect a historical event. Each one is precious to me.

Most moms love to get their child's artwork, but I can't express how excited I had been to get each drawing, each painting, each sculpture...I never wanted to buy any art because I had little artists living in my household.

To add to the art of my children, I have my own artwork throughout the house that I've produced for years and years, especially some larger pieces that came with studying Visual Arts and Design at the University of Houston. I've been blessed to work in the Arbor Building through many art classes and to have professors of great artistic standing be my teachers in specific art methods.

Obeying my own need to create art is a tremendous stress reducer for me. However, I had some serious health battles that would put a wall between me and my need to create art, especially the battle with being able to use my arms since they were not getting adequate blood flow. But, I had two major surgeries to better enable blood to get to my arms and hands, a two year process of surgical intervention that went into three years after they decided to remove my minor pectoral muscle on the right side since it was shredded by bone shards. Even if the major surgeries were horrific and came with critical complications, I'm happy that my left side works wonderfully, but my right side was never properly "decompressed" by the removal of my first rib along with the removal of the anterior and scalene muscles in my neck --- I also have artery clips along the thoracic arteries as well, both sides.

The surgeries had to be done a year apart. Each one required approximately one year recovery, mostly because of the collapse lung that each surgery left me to deal with --- because of a paralyzed diaphragm. The nerve in your body that is the "control wire" for the diaphragm, which controls the lung, well, this "control wire" was impacted by each surgery, so each side ended up with a collapsed lung following surgery. It would take about 9 months, each time, for me to again be able to inflate my lung. Let me tell you, everything done to me in the dice and chop operating room could not compare to the lung collapsing. It's not a good feeling when your lung collapses and you can feel the lung sticking to itself --- to inflate it, with each labored breath or with pulmonary rehabilitation causes tremendous agony.

My left side was surgically decompressed by this method in 2005 and the right side was done a year later, in 2006. Since I am still unable to freely use my right arm, it's an ongoing battle. Even the simple act of blogging can cause me trouble as the right arm goes numb and pain from the lack of bloodflow creates pain down the arm and a sensation of choking on the right side of my neck. It's a big price to pay, but I try to position myself the best way possible so that I can type, type, type. I can use my arm for a short time, but it's never felt the same since the days when I could use my arms without a second thought and that was ten years ago.

I guess this is another reason I've treasured my daughters' artwork. If anyone understands the desire to create art, to play instruments and to do things that are ordinary daily activities without a thought about anything other than "Which color to use next," or "Which key to play next?" -- I do understand having the burning desire to do such things, yet not be able to do them because of physical limitations. I also understand what it means to push past the pain, to keep going in spite of challenges. Sometimes I've paid heavily for those decisions, but I rarely regret it.

Good thing I have partial use of my right arm since the surgery, it is better than before surgery, but still not completely workable as is my left side. I can often work around my incomplete decompression. Maybe one day I'll have the luxury to have the right side fully decompressed so that I can do normal things again, like drive to see my daughter in Dallas without it being a huge undertaking that causes me major issues, such as being able to feel my arm. Driving requires limited mobility, a huge issue for me.

Yes, maybe you can see a little through my eyes as well that this artwork is more meaningful than I can express.

Living life as fully as you can means different things for different people. Some people are given every tool and every healthy benefit to be able to live a beautiful life, yet they still take it forgranted. My mindset feels that there are enough problems, day by day, for me to conquer; I certainly don't need to add any more problems to what I already face. For many, like me, just getting through their day is a personal battlefield that brings constant reminders that simple things can be great challenges.

Others seem to look for problems because it seems they need more drama in their life or they are not satisfied with having an "ordinary" life full of blessings that deserve focus instead of contrived issues stemming from owning an ungrateful heart. I've seen so many people create their own problems and these same people proceed to wonder why their life is full of problems?

Personally, if I have extra energy and physical capabilities, it must go toward the constant effort to keep my health balanced so that I may have that awesome day with a few minutes at the piano or to do simple basic tasks, such as the laundry and dusting the furniture. One thing I must say is that a good day for me can indeed be jam-packed; I've learned to fully take advantage of a good day, probably much better than a "regular" person without any health hurdles.

However, once my neck broke, in 2009, it required massive reconstruction and double-sided hardware to support the neck so it would not collapse again. To add to the thoracic artery issues, I found myself confronting more challenges on top of existing challenges. It felt like I was being sandwiched between major health assaults that I had no control over and I did feel squashed like a bug. For a while, I didn't feel very excited about the added loss of sensation in my hands due to a spinal cord injury. I didn't like the struggle to move my feet forward and to lift them to take a step...all of it took more effort than could be expressed, even to those closest around me.

The spinal cord was squished between two bones that had broken, so it damaged the spinal cord in a manner that could not be repaired. It created a large lesion on the C2 section of spinal cord that is still present and visible on MRI scans. Still, I regained more feeling and better use of my arms/hands and legs/feet than the doctors thought were possible. I've been given more than my fair share of miracles, even if I've been given more than my fair share of physical hurdles.

Through it all, I've learned there is something powerful about art --- it is a healing expression of humanity. I finally understood that for many people, especially for those who have suffered deeply from physical or emotional pain, a piece of art can seem to speak to you or for you. Art can capture a feeling, it can represent the best in you, the worst in you or it can bring hope beyond words.

For some dedicated artists, on any level, from novice to accomplished, there seems to be a sharing of the soul in some of the work produced by particular artists. Often, you can feel pulled into a piece of art. If you haven't had this experience yet, then I recommend that you view art differently. Try to search for a piece of art that truly SPEAKS to you with such depth that you feel knocked out of your shoes. It's out there, you might have just not found it yet, but when you'll know it.

I have a few personal favorites that definitely evoke great emotion from within the well of my soul.

In fact, I'll be scanning a few pictures of historical art that have brought me great comfort and hope during times of great turmoil.

But, there is a certain peace, joy and innocence that comes with looking at a child's artwork. It's like looking out a window to see a different view of sunshine.

How many times have I been delighted by these works of art created by my children? I can't count. Even through difficult times of their children created with bright goodness, always doing their best to get their mind's eye down on paper.

I love the effort. I love the result. I love the sharing of their souls.