Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Here's to Christmas!

I must confess I'm using this post to make myself a list for the next couple of weeks. After traveling home after Thanksgiving in Tennessee (what a wonderful time with family and friends!) on I-10 with half of Americans, we hit the ground running.

Mark had driven 14 1/2 hours, unloaded the truck (we brought home several things), then asked me if I would like him to set the Christmas tree up. I couldn't believe how sweet that was. It was 9 p.m. and he went into the garage and retrieved the box. After quickly assembling the tree, we fell into bed for a good night's rest. The next day I did the re-entry thing; laundry, sorting, cleaning so I could put up decorations. Monday night we went to dinner with our good friends, Mike and Francine Creecy, who were here for Thanksgiving with their girls, Brad and new grandbaby, Morgan.

Tuesday I set up the nativities, did more laundry, changed sheets, cleaned some more. Mom is due on Thursday, and I want things in good shape for her. I put up the cookie tree in the kitchen and decorated the big tree. We got out the Dickens houses for the dining room. We took our photo for our Christmas card.

Today I finished a lot of previously unfinished things. I found some items I had purchased last year on sale to add to the Christmas decor. Set those out. Cleaned the kitchen. More laundry. Set up the Dickens Village and got all the lights in them appropriately. I cut some magnolia off our tree and put it in the dining room fixture. I hung some pretty ornaments from it, too. I still have to clean up, put boxes away, etc. I also organized our Life Group decorating two tables for the Christmas Cafe Sunday night and our progressive dinner Saturday, Dec 11.

Thursday morning I'm meeting good friends for coffee.
Pick up mom at 1:30 ish.
Drive to REI on Westheimer for a final small thing for Ross.
Go to grocery. Buy things for mom to eat as well as prepare two of my most famous desserts for our Christmas Cafe at church on Sunday; chocolate fantasy cake and ultimate cheesecake.
Go to Post Office where they will draw more blood for one last package for the Italian Stowers.
Friday we are going to Richmond to get some more pecans. Gotta love Texas pecans.
I'll probably bake my cheesecake that day, too.
Saturday I'll bake the cake for the chocolate fantasy and put it in the freezer. It has to be frozen in order to frost's sooooo moist.
Mark will put the lights outside and clean up the yard after being gone for 2 1/2 weeks. We will probably grocery shop for Tuesday nights dinner....see below.

Sunday we have church. I'll go back around 2 to begin to decorate our tables. I'll also take some Show Hope merchandise I picked up in Nashville. We are using this season to promote interest in our new 1:17 ministry at The Fellowship at Cinco Ranch. The Christmas Cafe benefits this new ministry which will help families in our church with the cost of adoption. We will enjoy the evening filled with Christmas music and lovely desserts!

Monday we will prepare for a dinner party for 15 of Mark's staff. It is a lovely evening. I'll prepare what I can ahead of time.

Tuesday we will get everything ready for dinner so Mom and I can join the Feathered Chicks (ladies who worked at The Feathered Star Quilt Shop) at The Taste of Texas. Tuesday will be a food overload day for sure! We'll get home in time to run items in the oven. Mark will grill. We'll enjoy the evening together.

Oh, and by the way, we are giving Mom a netbook for Christmas and I will be teaching her how to navigate the internet and email everyday while she's here.

Wednesday we don't have any plans. I'm sure we'll come up with something! Mani/Pedis maybe?

Thursday Mom returns to Tennessee. I'm going to my friend Becky's house for a benefit for The Apparent Project, an effort to help parents in Haiti provide for their children.

Friday I get my hair done and we have Mark's office party that evening.

Saturday is our progressive dinner with our Life Group. We are hosting the main course, so I'll have to figure that out sometime! HA

As of now, we are done after that until Christmas where we are having a couple of ladies from Mark's office for Christmas dinner. Our kids are all somewhere else this year, so it will be just the two of us....for the first time in 31 years! Even then we went to our parents' houses, etc. so this is really is a first.

It's all good and part of God's plan for us....this year at least!

Thanks for letting me make my list. I hope it didn't bore you too much!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Few Mnutes of Your Time, Please

This is an explanation/introduction to the ministry Grace's young man, Charles "Chachi" Avirett. is beginning. I think it would appeal to several of you who have young men as sons. Read and enjoy. If you want to contact Chachi about a trip for your son and his friends, please do!

Take a few minutes to think back to early adulthood. You’re finally free from parental control; the world awaits your arrival; possibilities are endless. Reflect long enough and you will likely remember some of the circumstances that make teens and college-age young adults quite vulnerable to an onslaught of moral and spiritual battles. For Trail’s target audience, young men ages 16-24, familial independence, insatiable curiosity, and bold exploration beckon. Like a champion thoroughbred, we chomp at the bit, muscles trembling, waiting for the gate to fling wide. As many of us learn years too late, what we choose to do with that energy and passion, particularly in our first years of autonomy, will often dictate the life path on which we travel. Will we tread on the road of integrity, strength, and character, or take the bypass? As Ephesians 2:10 reminds us, God invites each of us to use our strength and abilities to pursue the great adventure he has planned for our lives. Trail will intercede for these young men, show them the truly thrilling life God offers, and start them on the path to achieve it.

Our unique wilderness expeditions blend a man’s life journey with the challenge of extreme outdoor adventure. Participants may choose to paddle roaring whitewater, scale sheer cliff faces, or trek along Smoky Mountain ridges. Their experience on a Trail expedition mirrors the bold and daring life God has planned for them. Living for God is not for the faint of heart. In a life with Christ, as in our wilderness adventures, challenges are inherent, and obstacles must be overcome. But, that’s what makes it exciting.

Currently, we have eight expeditions planned for 2011. They include: rock climbing in Foster Falls, Tennessee, a fly fishing/backpacking course in the Chattooga River Gorge in Georgia, and one more “to be determined” expedition in Big South Fork National Park in Kentucky. Each week long trip includes 12 students and two to three certified guides. The small group size ensures personal instruction in the applicable outdoor skill and the freedom and time to build close relationships. Time for reflection is built in to each day, and there is no better place to talk with God than from the awe-inspiring apex of a mountain.

If you believe in our cause, please join our team. We need both consistent prayer and financial support to boldly move forward. I ask, above all, for prayer. Please pray daily for Trail; God will bless our organization to impact thousands of young people in the years to come. We must also raise capital for several major expenses including: marketing materials, liability insurance, rock climbing and fly fishing gear, and employee compensation.

Our goal is to raise, or have pledged, $30,000 in 30days from October 10th through November 10th. This is the amount needed to achieve Trail’s short-term goals and to propel us, full tilt, into next year. Though one time donations are extremely helpful with start-up costs, smaller, recurring donations allow us to plan for Trail’s future and are greatly appreciated. We hope to find 100 supporters who give just $20-$50 per month. To join our effort, please refer to the “Donation Options” insert.

If you wish to donate please give us a call 1.866.494.4755 or go to our website;

Thank you for your time and your continued support!

For the freedom of our hearts,

Chachi Avirett
Executive Director
TRAIL Ministries

Monday, October 25, 2010

Head Knowledge and Heart Acceptance

So, I had this plan. I would raise my three children and they would stay right around where I was and I would get to see them and their offspring (when it happened) often, regularly, and systematically. For instance, we would have Sunday dinner every week or I would babysit on Friday night for one family and Saturday night for another. In this plan, we might even go to the same church together and get to sing and worship together and I would get to look down the pew or row of chairs and see them all sitting there. I would have LifeSavers or gum or Tic Tacs, glittery crayons or surprises in my purse each week to keep my grandbabies entertained while the preacher was speaking. I would have one in my lap and one sitting next to me, giving their mamas a break. Why shouldn't this plan work? It did for my immediate family. I mean most of us, anyway.

I should have known better. Most of my plans didn't end up the way I had originally intended. And I'm so thankful for that. My life has turned out the way it was supposed to, infinitely better than the small plans I had. Not without a lot of pain and death to the dreams and expectations I always held in my heart or thought was important. I've had to learn the lesson of release. I guess this first happened when that first child got their driver's license. Then went to college. The second child got that freedom, the driver's license, then went to college. Number three followed suit, but having realized the void that took place when each child left, I tended to hold on tighter to that one. Maybe I squeezed a little too much. Poor thing. I picture a toddler holding on to a pet around the neck, fearful of letting go or the animal just might run off. All the while choking the squirming fuzzball to near death. That was me; holding on too tightly.

My children are growing, changing, becoming the adult people they are supposed to be. And, surprise, surprise, nowhere near where I am. That is due in part to the fact that I moved and in part to them being where God called them to be. God had a plan for me that included pulling me out of a rut of complacency, the expected, the "norm" for my life. He wanted me to go on a great adventure.

The comfort he gives through all the phases of life is remarkable. Reflecting on the advent of child rearing, the addition of more children, their growing up and becoming independent, it is a gentle process. He reminds me that He has my children in His hands, He loves them more than I ever could, and that He has wonderful plans for them. Funny enough, he has great plans for me too.

It has taken two years for me to be able to let go of some of my life expectations. It doesn't make it any easier to see new and old friends with their children near and seeing their grandchildren every day or weekend or even once a month. I still have a part of that dream living in me, that expectation. But more and more often, I am reminded that my life and the lives of my children aren't called to look like that and they are no less beautiful because their lives were ordained before the foundations of the world. In fact, what makes it all the more glorious is that I have nothing to do with it, no control over it. It really is ok. In fact it is perfect. I know that in my head, but my heart is taking a while to catch on and be totally on board with it. I have my moments. So the process continues.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. or just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ." II Cor. 1:3-5

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Some More Pics of Colton

Thanks, Aunt Jenn, for posting these on Facebook. I'll put a few on for the blog followers.

Colton will be 2 on Sept 25. They had a party while Aunt Jenn and Uncle Nate were there to enjoy the fun! I can hardly believe he's already 2!

Believe I'll have a little taste!

Note the cars on his tray. The child LOVES anything with wheels!
This is what I call a sly look. He's sizing everything up. Love the batman shirt!
I'll post more later!

Happy Almost Birthday, Colton!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

In case you didn't see this one...

Colton's Aunt Jenn and Uncle Nate are visiting right now. They posted this picture of Colton in this sweet outfit they brought just for him! Good work you two! He's stylin' all over Italy now! Go Titans! Hotty Toddy!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Squaring Up

Hello to the three of you who read my blog.....While I love reading other people's posts about anything and everything, I kind of feel like I need to have something to say before I sit and begin to type. So, I've not had any real inspiration until today.

One of the new adventures I'm on is to try to develop some new quilting patterns to possibly sell in shops, etc. I've begun with a few based on the incredible mosaics in the architecture of Italy which have inspired me so. I've made a few blocks and am working on what could be a book of those.

I'm also inspired by the Civil War reproduction fabrics and quilts inspired by this era. I love all the history and stories surrounding them. I've almost finished my first one, Miss Carrie's Crosses or Crosses at Carnton (not sure which name yet. Your suggestions are welcome!), is a scrap quilt made of cross-like patterns set on point. I used a tiny 1 inch border to set the center off from a flying goose border, followed by another 1 inch border, thus setting this border off, then finally a wide print border. Did you notice I added four, yes FOUR, borders? For those of you who know me, I don't like adding borders. There are technical reasons. You don't just plop the border down and start sewing.

To make sure your quilt is and remains absolutely square (not in shape, but in "plumbness" or flat!) before you add borders, you measure the quilt at the top, in the middle, and at the bottom. In a perfect world, these measurements would be the same and your first border cut for those opposite sides would be easy to cut and stitch on. However, I don't live in heaven yet, so that rarely happens. The more seams you have in the center of the quilt and the more you put things on the diagonal, thus the bias, the greater the chance of a variation in those measurements. As a result, you take an average of those three measurements, cut your borders that average and ease the sides of the quilt to match. Fortunately for me these days, my measurements rarely vary more than 1/4 inch or so, and easing this in is not too difficult. However, it HAS to be done. It is critical to do this for each side of the quilt for every time you add a border. If it starts off crooked, then you add more crooked borders, you will end up with one very crooked quilt. Not to mention that by this time the quilt has become large and unwieldy to deal with under the needle.

Now back to my design. Yes, I added FOUR borders. One of them is pieced with flying geese. Lots of seams means lots of chances for variation. Being off a mere 16th of an inch means after 16 seams you can be off an entire inch! There are 128 geese in the borders, thus LOTS of chances to be even slightly off. Not to mention in the design, I forgot to make allowance for setting the quilt on point and that adds in hypotenuse measurements.....oh my, it gets complicated for a 2" goose to fit and odd-number measurement!

So, I was squaring up; making sure the quilt was square before adding the first border. Really having to ease the geese onto the 1" border to get them to fit. Calculating how many geese for each side so they will come out even. Easing it all to fit. Measure, measure, measure. Average, average, average. Four borders, sixteen times to repeat this process. What was I thinking?

It came to me. I have the opportunity to do this with my life. I mess up, sin, am downright hateful sometimes. All I have to do to "square up" or get right, is to turn to my loving Creator, my heavenly Father, my Savior, my Rock, my Redeemer, and He will ease me back in. He squares me up not only daily, but minute by minute. He even does it gently. Stretching me when he has to, hemming me in when he needs to, gathering me up when necessary. Reminding me that in His hands, He can make me right. I can accept His gentle urgings or ignore them. It does take more work to make me into His image. When I succumb, I'm righted without too much pain or embarrassment. When I continue in my wrong ways, I really get out of "plumb," only increasing and magnifying the sin. As amazing as it is, He longs to have a right relationship with me. Even more often than daily; minute by minute, second by second, border by border. He even takes the time to do it every step of the way.

"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift."II Cor. 9:15

Monday, April 26, 2010

Living the Abundant Life with Friends

Several years ago, I would have to think too hard to determine exactly when, but let's say 6 years ago, a group of new friends got together for dinner. I do remember that the Young girls and Fleet boys were in middle school/elementary. David and Susanne Young, Bill and Lynne Fleet, Jerry and Kathy McKinney and Mark and I ate at one of our houses. We had met/bonded in Robbie Hendrick's Sunday School class at CPC. I still can't remember who started it. We had such fun that we decided to keep having dinner together. It was decided that someone else would host the next time, and so we began. It doesn't hurt that we are all good to great cooks. Over the years we've shared fish, poultry, beef and pork. We are carnivores. We know who makes great salads....everyone except me, and who can make you cry from a great dessert; that would be all of us! Our own wine conneseur, Dr. Fleet, has educated us and shared from his collection. The men have all stood over grills in the heat and cold to put the goods on the table. We have scoured our cookbooks to come up with the best recipes. Gumbo's, stews, and chilis over Super Bowls or SEC football. You name it, we've probably shared it. Our birthdays are spread over the calendar year, so we morphed into a Birthday Supper Club.

Friday afternoon we were overjoyed when these six waved us in at the passenger pick-up at Hobby Airport. Hugs and kisses insued until the traffic control whistled us to get moving! Fifty minutes later we were seated at La Finca, our favorite Mexican eatery in Katy. Margaritas ordered, table-side guacamole, chips, salsa and fabulous entrees were delivered and consumed before we made it to the house, groaning from over-indulging.

How appropriate, then, that one of the best times we had this weekend was at 2 local grocery stores. Saturday morning after a waffle breakfast, all of us, men and women inclusive, piled in the cars and ventured out to Fiesta, a cultural experience, and My HEB at Fry and 99 to explore. We were like children at FAO Schwartz. We stopped in the produce sections to examine all the exotic melons, squash, roots, herbs, mushrooms, etc. and really wanted a tutorial on the uses of these things. We squealed with delight (really, we did!) at the fajita and charo bean seasonings and Mexican vanilla. Wonder was written on our faces. Susanne and the man who makes tortillas at HEB became fast friends. She tasted every variety as he handed them to her hot, directly out of the machine. (She went home with at least one package of each, so good marketing for him!) The girls headed to the nail salon as the men returned home to start on the ribs for dinner.
Susanne, Lynne and Bill, trying to figure out what to do with these things!
"You know, Susanne, I think you're right!" You two are so cute!

After a stop at Charming Charlie's, a jewelry/accessory store, we returned home to the guys sitting on the patio while the ribs cooked away. Somehow, the chips, guacamole and salsa had disappeared. Good thing we had a doctor on hand, although he kept saying he was on vacation...what's up with that!? Shrimp, ribs, slaw, garlic smashed potatoes, and rolls were loaded on plates and enjoyed by all of us. We had to take a walk after dinner to make room for strawberry shortcake for dessert!

Breakfast was a yummy blueberry/lemon cake and cereal before church. We had plans to get Jerry some "real Texas" barbeque (smoked beef brisket) for lunch, but with leftovers filling the fridge, decided we would go another round with the ribs and shrimp. Mark warmed the fajita marinated shrimp on the grill and we added shrimp fajitas to lunch. Homemade tiramasu completed the food fest. It was funny that the fact that the tiramasu didn't have a chance to set up and was a little runny didn't stop any of us. That stuff is so good!

All too soon, it was time to load up and head back to the airport. It means the world to us that these sweet friends would organize their busy lives, find a weekend, get their flights planned, and visit us for a few days. As Jerry said in his final prayer, these people have had a huge impact in my life. They have helped form me into who I am. I love them so much and am so grateful for the depth of friendship we share. All this food I've discussed is just a catalyst to so much more meaning. God brought them into my life to be a part of the abundant life He promises.....abundant salvation, abundant friendship, abundant love, abundant giving, abundant laughter. I'm so happy I will spend eternity with them, but between now and then, we'll keep on sharing the good stuff. "Let's eat!"

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Travelogue of Italy March 2010

When we left off last time, Grace had arrived, we visited a winery, toured the Academia, the museum which houses Michelangelo's David, had a family picture made at Piazza Michelango, went to dinner at Zaza's as a family, got Robert and Charissa ready to go home, Ross got food poisoning, Robert and Char missed their flight from Amsterdam to Chicago because Italy went on daylight savings and Holland didn't, they got routed through Toronto which was a nightmare, lost their bags again, got home a day late, Ross slowly recovered.
Monday, all of us except Ross who was still recuperating went shopping...a common theme of the coming week! Grace got her Italian leather purse, some things for friends, etc. Grace experienced "Glee" for the first time. Of course gelato was included in the day's activities.
Tuesday, Ross was feeling better, so we went to what R & L call "Little America" outside of town. It's a mall with large stores, movie theatres, and Burger King. We shopped at H & M for Grace and Lindsay. I just hope Grace has as many interviews as we've gotten clothes for! Of course I'm kidding. We are glad to purchase things she will be able to wear as a teacher next year. Lindsay benefitted from the trip, too! She is one stylish Euro-mama! We ate dinner at Burger King. Colton loved the chicken nuggets, fries, and ketchup! Of course, Lindsay had given him some veggies as an appetizer.
Wednesday, Lindsay, Grace and I ventured back to Pisa for more Vietri pottery. We were successful in finding some great things! Ross and Grandy had the pleasure of spending the day with Colton and their day included a trip to the local "Home Depot" type store. Fertilizer, weedeater string, and other manly purchases were on their list. They cleaned up the back yard after the winter and cut the grass. Colton enjoyed the outdoors after his nap!
Thursday was a bit rainy, so we stayed close to home with plans of a train trip to Sienna the following day. While Colton napped, Grace, Mark and Linds did more shopping including a small surprise for Chachi. Every evening we watched more espisodes of Glee. We are all hooked! It was so good just being a family together with little or no agenda.
Friday we all got up early and ready for the train trip to Sienna. Grace wasn't feeling great due to a stomach reaction to some congestion medicine, but still tried to make it. After arriving at the train station, she was feeling no better. So we decided to go home. Lindsay and Ross were given the day off and enjoyed a lunch date and some shopping. Ross is always game to visit yet another sports store. The boy loves him some shoes. He has since he was little and would take a nap with his hands in his shoes! Later in the evening we went to a cool educational toy store and picked up a swimming pool and some water toys for the long hot summer ahead.
Saturday we did a last tour through town, bought a swing, installed it and Colton loved swinging in his own backyard! I have to say putting Colton to bed on Saturday was tough. Gigi shed some tears kissing that boy while we rocked and watched a praise video. I don't know when I'll see him and his parents again. But I do cherish each memory of smiles, giggles, running, sly grins, seeing something he wants to eat and making that face he makes, tears and even little temper fits.

(Pictures are on my facebook page. I have been challenged to edit and post this one!)

I know a darling redneck who lives in Florence, Italy!

More pictures and a travelogue about the rest of our trip coming soon!

Friday, March 26, 2010

A few pics

For those of our friends and family without Facebook, here are some pics from our time in Italy so far.

Right now, Grandy and I have cleaned and spruced up the apt a little....6 adults and one baby can bring in a lot of dirt and dust! Grandy is napping while Colton does. Ross is at work. Linds, Robert and Char are shopping. Grace lands in one hour! So, it's pretty much a perfect afternoon.

Whee! We are really having fun!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

First Few Days in Italy March 2010

Oh, man, are we having fun! After having the best sky cap in the business get us to the front of a very long line (we didn't ask him to, he just did it!) and even when the seat in front of me was broken so that the lady in it lay in my lap for about 8 hours, and our flight from Amsterdam to Florence was delayed about an hour, we arrived happy and full of excitement! Ross arrived about an hour after we did. He had been at a conference in Athens.....Greece, not Georgia! We opened presents, all of which were appreciated and well received. Even the Edward shirt Mark picked out for Lindsay as a joke. Yes, she's worn disguise under a cardigan, but she's worn it! HA Colton's shoes look great on him. There was enough room in the pantry for all the American goodies. The Velveeta did not send off any alerts in the TSA as being a plastic explosive. We had pizza for dinner, were able to stay awake until 9 p.m. and then went to bed.

Saturday morning we were full of anticipation waiting for Robert and Charissa's arrival. They were due at 12:05 noonish. About 11:30 we checked to see if it was on schedule...remember, the same flight was late the day before. Horrors of horrors, it had been cancelled. I went into "mama mode." Where were my babies? Who were they with? Did they have a phone to call us? When would they get here? on and on and on. I know you are thinking, "Isn't Robert 26? Don't both he and Charissa have college degrees and are intelligent and good problem solvers?" You forget, I'm a mama and I've been looking forward to this since Ross and Lindsay moved here! I wanted my babies and I wanted them NOW! Ross called the airline. We had all the flight info, including their confirmation numbers, so we found out that they had been sent to Paris to connect to Florence. Ok, they would be here at 3:00 p.m. instead of noon. I can handle that. Yay! Ross went to meet them. They arrived, but their bags didn't. That's the bad news. The good news is that they each received an allowance of 100 euros to purchase any "needed" items. They were extremely happy about that! We went shopping! Their bags arrived the next morning even before they had showered! Whoop whoop!

Sunday we went back to the center of town and spent the day exploring, shopping, having gelato, coffee, wine, good snacks, etc. We ended the day at Zaza's, a wonderful trattoria and enjoyed some of their reasonably priced pastas. Good bread, good dinner, good wine, fabulous tiramasu!

Monday Ross worked. Robert, Charissa, Mark and I went to town to see the Duomo, the Baptistry, and piddle. Lindsay kept Colton at home since he had gone without a nap the day before. He needed his rest to keep up with us the rest of the week. Mark and I came home and LIndsay went to meet up with Ross, R & C. They had a wonderful afternoon out. We had a fabulous afternoon in with our grandbaby! I just love to play with him. We got him up from his nap, had a snack, played, played, played, had dinner, gave him a bath, readied him for bed and then put him there. When the kids got home, they were welcomed to a baby sleeping and burgers and home fries cooked by Grandy. What a fun day!

Today, Ross had to work pretty much all day, so Robert, Charissa, and Lindsay hiked to the Piazza Michelangelo, about a 45 minute walk. Mark found a project, replacing the broken frame on the stroller, and I played Gigi. After naptime, it was time for Colton's music class. Lindsay invited me and Charissa to go with them. It was so sweet. Colton was the only child who showed up today, and the teacher was so kind. We played with all types of rhythm instruments. Paula, you will be happy to know Colton loves the piano. The teacher played a child-like tune and allowed Colton to bang away to his heart's content. She never stifled his creativity or activity, and there was a lot of that! Tonight's dinner was an "everyman for himself, raid the fridge" kind of night. Right now, the big kids are off getting gelato (yes, again!) Mark has gone to the ATM to get money for our trip to Pisa tomorrow! Colton is asleep. I'm catching all y'all up with our trip so for.

Sorry no pictures this time as I'm using LIndsay's computer to write and I haven't given her the pics yet!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Little Mutton Bustin' and all things Rodeo

I've had a request for information on this rodeo thing with my niece, Sara Ross Foster, and her children.

It all started at Christmas when I told all my family that rodeo time would be a great fun time to visit us in Houston! For the uneducated, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a HUGE thing. It lasts for 3 weeks every March. Each night there are rodeo events leading up to the championship on the final night. In addition, there are concerts every night by some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry; Jonas Brothers, Mary J. Blige, Lady Antebellum, Brad Paisley, and a myriad of others. If you are that interested, go to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo website. There is a barbecue cookoff, a parade, a trail ride on horseback across the state of Texas to get here, etc......really over the top and unbelievable.

Sara was all on it. She planned and waited and arrived on Thursday. Our first stop was Cavendar's Boot Country to outfit the children in their boots and cowboy hats. Emma-Claire chose a striking pair of pink leather boots with matching hat. Tee went for a classic brown leather boot with a straw hat embellished with a longhorn bearing brad on the brim. So cute. As we were leaving the store, he clung his hat to his chest and said, "I've always wanted this 'weawy badwy." I could just eat him up!

That night we had a Pampered Chef party......a good reason for Sara to come and a tax advantage for her! Double fun as lady friends of mine gathered in my kitchen and we cooked and ate the night away!

Friday dawned and we ventured to the rodeo for our first day. I was a total novice as well, so it was a learn as we go experience. Suffice it to say that this rodeo thing is a state fair on steroids. They have a HUGE area for kids in the Reliant Center called Agventure. The FFA and 4Hers were there with their animals ready for show. The hides on those cows looked like the finest velvet in shades of black, brown, red, taupe, etc. There are exhibits of all things farming. There is a birthing area where if you are lucky you can witness the birth of calves, piglets, lambs, kids, and chicks. We were lucky enough to see baby chicks hatch and a calf only hours old. The cutest, though, were the hours old piglets......I wanted to bring one home......until I looked over at mama.....a heaping sow boasting about 700 pounds! She was a BIG, BIG, REALLY BIG girl! WOW!

We (of course I mean the children) rode ponies, shopped, (Sara got some really hot boots for mama!) and ate corndogs and chicken on a stick. We went into the petting zoo and loved on sheep, pigs, goats, a llama, a donkey, and bunnies.

We went outside to the carnival area. I wanted to see the child-sized mechanical bulls and find the pig races and mutton bustin'. We found the mutton bustin' first. Emma-Claire and Tee were mesmerized. Children donning helmets and protective vests were put on the backs of sheep by sheep wranglers and told to hold on for as long as they could. The shoot was opened and away they went! And off they came! It was hilarious! About 8 or 9 children participated. They awarded prizes and ribbons to all the children and a silver belt buckle to the first place winner. Emma-Claire looked up at her mama and said, "I want to do it!" We didn't know that just anyone could until we heard the announcement: "Sign up your child for the noon session." After investigation, we discovered that indeed any child under 60 pounds with the fortitude to stand the odor of the sheep could give it a try. However, being who they are, our darling children were dressed in very cute outfits without forethought to rolling in the dust/dirt/sheep stuff or being trampled by a mutton. The rules say that the children need long pants and a shirt with sleeves. EC in a dress to match her boots and hat and Tee in shorts and shirt were not attired properly. So, we said we would come back. We left happy and full of mutton dreams.

Saturday dawned and we loaded up to go to a farm owned by a friend of mine in Weimer, Texas, about an hour west of us. It was a beautiful spread. About 40 head of the cattle roamed around us, 11 or 12 newly birthed calves included. They raise brangus cattle, a lovely reddish color. In fact the color of the cattle matched Tee's hair.....a lovely coppery red color. We had a picnic lunch under a huge live oak tree next to a "tank" or pond to those who don't live in Texas. EC and Tee went fishing in the tank with Uncle Mark and struck! Tee caught a bass about as long as your forearm. We did throw him back to go live with his family, but it was so fun to catch him! After fishing, we got in the back of Mr. Darrell's pick up truck and went looking for the other bull and some 7 month old heifers he keeps in the back 50. We came back up to the house. The "old folks" went to the front to sit on the lovely porch while Tee got his turn to drive the tractor. I mean a really big John Deere farm tractor. As they came to the front of the house, I said to my friend,"He is having such a fun time riding." Kay responded, "He's not just riding, he's driving....Darrell only intervenes if they are getting into trouble." Ok, Tee was driving a tractor at age 3 1/2. Emma-Claire got her turn and had a great time. Tee got another turn, which if you know him, was something he had to do. That boy loves a tractor!

Sunday we took time at my house to recuperate and chill. We did go to one of our neighborhood parks and bake cookies, but it was generally a rest day. Isn't that what the sabbath is for? :) I will say that the children decided to practice for their mutton bustin' debuts. Our chocolate lab, Bear, was a willing participant. They would have him sit. Tee would get on Bear's back. Emma-Claire would control Bear's movements by having a dog biscuit in her hand. She would throw the biscuit across the den and Bear would run after it like lightning. Tee did his best to hang on, but he was slung all over the room by day's end.......need I say hilarious!?

Monday dawned and we ventured back to the rodeo properly attired for our turn at mutton bustin'. They ask the children their favorite foods, what they want to be when they grow up and to name their sheep. As they announce each child it goes something like this. "Folks, This is Tee Foster. He's from Alabama and he likes to eat corndogs. He wants to be a cowboy when he grows up. Let's see if he can break in this sheep he's riding. Let's go, Tee, and have a good ride!" They open the gate and away he goes for about 4.5 seconds of sheer delight. He rolled off, jumped up with the help of the rodeo sheep wranglers, waves to the crowd and runs out of the arena. Emma-Claire's turn was next. "Well, folks, here is is Emma-Claire Foster. She's from Alabama, loves to eat strawberries and wants to be a teacher when she grows up. Let's see if she can teach this sheep a thing or two." Well, EC's first sheep was a little lazy (or just tired of children riding her) and just stood there, so she got a second chance. She changed from Princess to Bosheepus and he gave her a thrilling 3 or 4 second ride. She too jumped up, waved to the crowd and ran off. The youngster who won our round stayed on the sheep all the way across the arena. However, our mutton busters were thrilled with the backpack filled with a real ribbon, chest number and other prizes. It was a fabulous time. The practice on Bear paid off.

Needless to say we had a terrific time with our little ones. Luke at 3 months old was the champion of the weekend. He went along with all our shenanigans with little or no fussing. He ate and slept and rode in the stroller and got out to look around and go back again. I see a completely cooperative little boy in the Foster's future. What a darling.

Can't wait for next year. We didn't even get to the mechanical bulls or pig races! Something to look forward to! y'all come!
Sorry, Sara has all the pictures on her camera. She'll be sending them to me soon! I'll post later!

Monday, March 1, 2010

So Big....He Loves his daddy's hat!

Here are a couple of pictures of Colton wearing his daddy's Titans hat. He now has 8 front teeth and is getting all 4 molars at once! Ouchie!

He is one lean mean stretching machine! Almost 36 inches tall at 17 months! He is enjoying turning the lights on and off now!

Boys are so fun! We will see you soon!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Quilts for Adoption

I have been praying a lot lately about how to help some friends of mine adopt a special needs child they have fallen in love with. They are going through the process which is quite costly; far more than their teacher salaries can supply. Therefore, to benefit them as well as Show Hope, an organization which helps other families adopt, I have listed some of my quilts for sale on etsy. If you are interested, please go to I will be dividing 25% of the proceeds of these quilts to these two deserving causes. Please send this to anyone and everyone you think may be interested.

I have priced the quilts to cover the costs of fabric and quilting services only, not charging anything for the time involved to create them. I pray you will be blessed by the works of my hands.
There are more quilts (9 right now) on the etsy site.

"Whatsoever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. " Colossians 3:23

Friday, January 15, 2010


Colton in his Euro/Christmas pjs.
I think he loves his new bulldog Santa brought!
Get ready, Baby Boy! Your Grandy, Gigi, Uncle Bobby, Aunt Char and Aunt Grace will be there to spoil the hound dog out of you soon! Get ready for lots of squeezes, blowing on your tummy, neck nuzzles, tickled toes, books read, balls thrown, cars revved, gelato sharing, cornetto bites, and glorious bathtimes! Of course we'll be so excited to see your mommy and daddy too! It will be hard to wait, but each day brings us closer!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tragedy Averted!

Well, if we didn't believe God was in his heaven watching over every step we take before today, we certainly do today!

Here's the story.

We woke this cold Saturday morning about 7:30 a.m. or so. I picked up the novel I've been reading and continued with the next chapter. Mark got up about 8 to make coffee and feed our "starving" dogs. Being Saturday, my day for fresh sheets on the bed, I got up, and began stripping the sheets off. As I am lazy this way, I usually just wash and dry the same sheet set and put it back on the bed. I hate folding sheets. I went to put the sheets in the washing machine and then looked for additional things to fill out the load. As I turned on the water and added the detergent, I noticed the water pressure was not nearly up to snuff. I mentioned this to Mark and asked if we could have a water pipe burst. He laughed.

Digress to this previous week. Here in Houston it is very rare for temperatures to go below 32. Heaven forbid that it go into the 20's----3 or 4 nights in a row. Note these are night-time temperatures, not day-time when it remained in the 50's and 60's. People here were freaking out! Each day Home Depot and Lowes ran out of insulating materials for pipes. Mark and I just laughed knowing it would take several days of temperatures below freezing to actually break the pipes. What we didn't know was that the water comes into the house by a single exposed pipe.

Now back to the story. I was walking across the front of the house and noticed water pouring down the street. Now I really said something to Mark (actually I yelled, "Go check our water!") He immediately looked out the bathroom window where the pipe is and started running. Did I mention we had just gotten up? He had to throw on some clothes, run outside in the 20 degree weather, find the valve, and turn off the water.

Now what? Mark is very handy, so he thought he could easily fix it. Thank goodness that it was an external break and not in the house ruining dry wall, floors, etc. He came in with good news/bad news. The good news was he thought it would be a fairly simple fix. The bad news was that it would require a part. A vacuum valve to be exact. The valve had popped off the pipe.

Mark went to his favorite place, The Home Depot, to look for the part. As he rounded the plumbing aisle with about 300 of his fellow Katy, Texas residents, he ran into a man carrying one of the valves he needed. He asked this fellow if he had gotten that valve at Home Depot. The man said, "No, they don't have any. You have to go to a specialty plumbing store." Mark asked him if he could tell him where to get one or if he would be able to install one. The man, Luis, answered, yes to both questions! When Mark asked how much he would charge to install it, he said, "$50.00." Mark then gave Luis our address and phone and Luis said that he would be in touch within the hour.

Luis and another man who spoke better English showed up with the valve and had it fixed within about 15 minutes! As they were leaving, Mark told them that he knew God had a hand in their meeting. The men answered, "Yes, Jesus is so good to all of us!!"

Now the rest of the story is that Mark went back to Home Depot for some air filters and pipe insulation. (No pipe insulation can be found in Houston right now!) However, while there for the second time, Home Depot was taking names of people who needed the vacuum valve. The shipment is not due in until TUESDAY!

The Lord had Mark get to Home Depot to meet Luis at just the perfect time. We are so thankful that even our water problems matter to our Lord and Savior!

Luis and his friend do lots of handyman things. We will certainly be calling them in the spring to help us get our yard in shape! Thank you Luis! Thank you, Jesus!