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Showing posts with label Birthdays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Birthdays. Show all posts

Thursday, November 30, 2017

November Celebrations

November is a month of celebrations for our family. This year we added a few. Michala's birthday, my 77th birthday, Skye's 15th birthday, a successful surgery for her, all led up to a busy Thanksgiving. We had a bountiful spread of food and 17 of us spread around 2 tables.

Thanksgiving 2017

Before all the dishes were washed and put away, Ben began pulling out Christmas decorations and trees from the storage closet!  Trees were up but not yet decorated by the Sunday after Thanksgiving which held 2 big events for Olive- his baby dedication at First Baptist Church in Richmond (a whole pew of relatives) and his first birthday!  More people arrived to celebrate with pizza and birthday cake. 
Nora and Oliver all dressed up for church.

Joe and I are in a group that meets for dinner and poetry readings and the meeting on November 28 was at our house. By that evening, we had decorated 6 trees, wreathed all the doors, and placed our many nativity scenes. Nora helped with everything and Oliver is old enough this year for his blue eyes to shine with wonder at all the lights and color.  So we end November and begin Advent and the approach to Christmas, thankful for family and celebrations.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Birthday Rose

This week I celebrated my 77th birthday with a variety of celebrations, greetings, phone visits, hugs and meals. On the morning of November 14, Joe brought me this rose. I am thankful that at almost 54 years of marriage, he knows I love a flower cut from our garden best of all and that he will go out and find one to bring to me in a perfect little vase. He gave me a new Kindle for my books and music, and  Ben made me a strawberry smoothie. He and Kristen knew I would love the new Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds book. Hugs and Happy Birthdays from Nora added to my morning. We all made a trip to Costco for family groceries and lunched at P.F. Chang's in Sugar Land. All day the phone rang with happy greetings from my family, including all 4 of those in Nevada. In the evening, Joe and I joined our poetry group from church at a friend's home for dinner and poetry reading. Desert was a cherry birthday cake with candles and our friends' rendition of the birthday song.

That did not end the celebrations. Today, we all gathered with Sean, Teion, Lauren, Skye, and Kasey at a fusion restaurant in Sugarland Town Square called Jupiter's. Waffles, fried chicken, pizza, and sweet potato waffle fries filled the table!  More gifts, including a sweet nativity Christmas ornament, and a picture taking session by the giant Christmas tree in Town Square completed the morning.

I am savoring all the sweetness - not the kind found in the food. I am grateful for my family, and grateful for each day given to me to love them.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Birthday Greeting

We are celebrating Jeremy's birthday tomorrow - long distance. They now live in Nevada, too far to join him for a hug and birthday dinner. But celebrate we will, with a phone call or Skype!  He is faithful to call and I love the phone visits.

 I am glad you have the chance to travel and ski and climb mountains and work as a pilot. You followed an early call; from the time you were three years old that is what you wanted. I am proud of your integrity, your dedication to your family, your good parenting,  your determination and sense of adventure!  Happy Birthday, Son.  I love you! 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Celebrating 80 Years

Joe Dan Parker celebrated his 80th birthday this week, all week long! He chose some favorite ways to spend days this week - a movie with me (The Big Sick), another with Ben (Dunkirk), barbecue at the Swinging Door with Ben, Kristen, Nora, and Oliver followed by cake at home on his midweek actual birthday and a family celebration with Sean, Teion, Lauren, and Skye Saturday. We missed Jeremy, Michala, Maddie, and Jordann but he got phone greetings from them.

At Joe's request, the birthday cake on Saturday was baked by Sean, a Norwegian success cake. Suksesskake is traditionally served at important celebrations, and turning 80 is certainly important and celebration!

Also at his request, Joe himself made our dinner,  German Lentil Stew, and turned down all offers of assistance. Both Joe's soup and Sean's cake were welcomed.  I would have gladly made any meal he requested, but this was what he most wanted.  There is something about a batch of homemade soup on the table that adds to any family gathering, but this was special. He first made this soup on February 4 1973 when I was pregnant with Ben.  I have made it too many times to count, he has continued to make it too so it has been a family favorite; all my sons make it and their families vote for it too.  In years to come, I wonder if the name will change to "Papa's Birthday Soup."  That makes me smile. Happy Birthday, Joe!  You are so loved.  When the candle was lit and the birthday song sung, I smiled, too, at the mixture of names when the words came to "Happy Birthday, dear....Joe, Dad, Joe, Papa."  What a gift you are to us, and what a treasure of family gathers and loves, all beginning with the birth of a 10 pound baby boy on July 26, 1937.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

My Son and His Son

There are so many sights and sounds that fill a Grandmother's heart.  I have loved watching my sons and their daughters and am grateful for their special relationships.  I am proud of the men my sons have become and the fact that they are engaged with their daughters.  And it has been a joy to be their Granmary.  Since Joe and I had 3 sons, these girls have been an amazing delight. And now we have a grandson!  When I see Ben holding him, I marvel - thinking of Ben himself as a baby and a little boy who grew so fast.  I love seeing my son hold his son, thinking of the

Friday, February 24, 2017

Oliver Byron Parker

Guest Post by Joe Parker

This is my father, Oliver Parker. Daddy and his twin sister, Dora, were born 112 years ago today on February 17, 1905. All of my family loved and are so proud of this great man in our lives and we miss him very, very much. This is a picture of Daddy at about age 12 with a friend.

Note:  My father-in-law, Oliver Parker, passed away before Joe and I were married, so I never met him. But he left a legacy of hard work, perserverance, faith, and love as communicated through the years to me by my husband and his brothers and sister. Now there is another Oliver Parker, his great grandson who bears his name - our baby grandson, Oliver Hilton Parker! 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

November, Thanksgiving!

November is a month of giving thanks - for Thanksgiving Day, of course, and for the many occasions our family also celebrates during the month. Ben and Kristen plus Jeremy and Michala have wedding anniversaries. Michala, Skye, and I have birthdays!  We just celebrated Skye's fourteenth birthday.  So many images of her come to mind.  I am grateful that she has always lived near me and that I have been able to go to church with her, hear her ring handbells, enjoy cooking and gardening, and art with her. She is lovely, inside and out. Happy Birthday, Skye!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Birthday Gift for Nora

We celebrated Nora's Birthday yesterday.  She is now 2 years old.  Grandparents from Tennessee and Texas (that would be us), aunts and uncles from both sides of her family plus her cousin Skye were all here to enjoy the balloons and bubbles that were floating everywhere.  There was a chocolate cake, a candle to blow out, the birthday song, and of course, presents.  Among our gifts to her was this apron with lots of polka dots and pockets.                                                                                     

I made it from 2 sizes of red and white polka dot fabric, so it was reversible.  This apron is actually gift from 3 grandmothers.  I, her paternal grandmother, found the valentine print in my own fabric stash to make tiny pockets. The other 2 pieces of fabric were cut from scraps of fabric from my own grandmother's quilting scraps. That means Mary Clyde Terrell, Nora's great great grandmother is part of the gift. Her daughter, my mother, Opal Terrell Teal, Nora's great grandmother (for whom she is named), contributed to my grandmother's quilting scraps from her own sewing although she did not quilt herself.  Plus, she kept the box of fabric pieces for years before handing them down to me!  She is the third grandmother represented in the gift.  
I like thinking about the stories behind aprons and quilts and grandmothers.  I am glad Nora's first apron has a story.  She just likes wearing it!
Nora Opal Parker

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Postmarked Santa Barbara, California, July 16 1986

I have been doing some serious opening of boxes and sorting and clearing. Family correspondence, greeting cards, memorabilia from years past that some might have discarded long ago become not only memories, but stories that surface.  I am glad that my Mother saved many things that remind me of details of family story.  I prefer to pass on some things, discarding others after a photo and passing on the story itself. A large picture postcard featuring the inn above in Pismo Beach, California, is postmarked Santa Barbara, California, July 16 1986 and contains the photo and following description:
                                  Shore Cliff Lodge & Inn (Best Western and Triple A logos)
                                                       2555 Price STreet
                                               Pismo Beach, California  93449
                                                     (805) 773-4671
                                          "Your complete Resort at the Beach"
Restaurant open from 7a.m., Cocktail louge.  Banquet facilities, Heated swimming pool.  Hydrotherapy pool, 2 lighted tennis courts, Spiral staircase to the beach, Cable,color TV with bedside remote, Air conditioning. Claming, fishing, dune buggy riding, All rooms and kitchenette suites overlook the ocean.

Addressed to:
                         Mrs. Opal Teal
                         413 Tena Street
                         Jacksoville, TX 74766

The content is in pencil, in my handwriting:

Hi!  We stayed here last night & the boys & Joe (notice I omit me) rode 4 wheel motor bikes on the beach today.  Ben hurt his leg but still had a good time.  We went to Hearst Castle yesterday & Joe took Jeremy to sight see at the local emergency room last night.  Some kind of allergic reaction, probably from eating too much shellfish.  He is OK today but had to have 3 shots.  We have had good food-lovely meals- Ben got a birthday balloon at dinner tonite. We will spend tomorrow (the 15th) in Santa Barbara - then back to Thousand Oaks. Love, M

This was the year that we lived in Southern California prior to moving to Indonesia.  That summer we drove up the coast on "the 101."  I am remembering several things about that time - 1. We knew we would be moving out of the country soon.  2.  We wanted to see more of California before we left, planning stops at several places on the beach.  3. Ben celebrated his 13th birthday on July 15, our last night of the trip in Santa Barbara,  the postcard was mailed.

In just over 2 months, our family said goodbye to California 1 day after an earthquake shook the Los Angeles area.  As the blog subtitle says - the joy of journey as a family!

Apparently, the Shore Cliff Inn is still in operation, although their website no longer mentions a spiral staircase to the beach!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Skye is 13!

Today is our lovely granddaughter's thirteenth birthday.  From the moment of her parents' excited news of her tiny beginning, she has been so much joy and gladness for me. In the months before her birth, I wrote a journal to her in the form of a letter, given to her parents on the day she was born, a tradition I have continued with each new grandchild.  I simply wanted to tell her she was already a part of our family story and would always be.  I wrote about happily we anticipated her arrival, of all the things we looked forward to sharing with her, and how we celebrate faith and family. From rocking and lullabies to planting flowers, building fairy gardens and baking macaroons, Skye continues to add delight to our time together. Thank you, and Happy Birthday, sweet girl!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Steel Magnolia

October 20 will always be Mother's birthday on my calendar even though it has been 9 years now since she left us. I took this photo two years ago when we visited hers and Daddy's graves, along with the many others of our family who were laid to rest here in the Bullard, Texas cemetery.  The giant magnolia tree reminds me of Mother, who was indeed a steel magnolia, a true lady, a eautiful, strong, courageous woman with deep roots who deserved the name long before anyone thought of making a movie!  She would have laughed at my calling her that.  That is one of the things I miss the most - laughing with her. Remembering!   Opal Auntionette Terrell Teal October 20, 1913 - September 21, 2006.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Gathering to Celebrate

                                                          Benjamin Andrew Parker, July 15
                                                     Joe Dan Parker,  July 26

Now that our family numbers 13 when we are all here to celebrate a birthday, celebrations are often so lively my photos are not great, but the smiles and joy they capture certainly are.  Since Ben's and Joe's birthdays are close on the calendar and we spread the celebrating out over various times and occasions, we start sometime after the 4th of July and finish up the month in the afterglow!  Ben's cake was Maddie's creation, using a family recipe called Mississippi Mud Cake. Maddie and Jordann and Skye made a butterfly cake and Reese's cupcakes for Joe's party.  I am happy to have lots of help in the kitchen!


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Nora, One Year Old Today

A year ago, we welcomed Nora into our arms. As babies do, she has grown and changed and welcomed her friends and family with outstretched arms when her parents invited us to share her celebration last weekend. There was a hungry caterpillar theme (thank you, Eric Carle!) and Nora had a tiny cupcake with one candle. Joe and I gave her a little wicker rocker which will always remind me of the sweet times I have had rocking and singing to her. Happy Birthday, sweet girl.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Happy Birthday, Maddie!

Nine years ago today in Birmingham, Alabama, we celebrated the birthday of a beautiful baby girl her parents named Madelyn Claire.  She brings us countless joys, blessing us with sunshine, laughter, and hugs.  We are grateful for her life and love.  Today we celebrate you, Maddie!  Happy Birthday!

Saturday, November 22, 2014


                               Nora and the knitted lace and satin coverlet I made for her.

I  am glad we have a day called Thanksgiving. I am blessed to gather family around our table to share prayers of gratitude and a meal we have prepared together.  I am also glad to practice being grateful and saying thank you every day. As part of my early morning quiet time, I keep a gratitude journal where each day I write 5 things for which I am thankful I write down what comes to mind without editing or spending too much time trying to say it well!  This has been a year full of paying attention to God's good gifts, being astonished at beauty and blessings, and wanting to tell about it.* As I look through the pages of that journal and browse all the photos, I have chosen a few things to share with you from these days of 2014.  I chose the photo above for the way it shows being covered.  I feel covered with the love of my family and God's good grace.

I am thankful for...

my forever friend, Joe

the miracle of new life:  Nora Opal, arriving this Spring

my word for 2014: Release

healing for hurting hearts

 knitting lace that I started in 1973!

winter garden harvest - cabbages, cauliflower, and a tree full of Meyer lemons

Skye's love of cooking and being with me in the kitchen

fragrance of a single gardenia

lessons from seeds

Grandma's rocker near the fireplace

March 16:  Maddie's 8th birthday

March 19:  Nora Opal arrives!

our rose arbor in full bloom (the survivor rose, Peggy Martin)

singing songs my mother and grandmother sang to me for  Nora while I rock her

our back porch

dawn sky, peaches and spun sugar

harvesting figs

old cookbooks, heirloom recipes

morning glory blooms at my kitchen window

August 19: Jordann and her birthday doll

the warmth of copper as it catches light

handwritten thank you notes

our porch swing

glimmers from the past - old family photos

November 19:  Skye is 12!

*this refers to my favorite quotation from the poetry of Mary Oliver:
         "Pay attention
           Be astonished
           Tell about it."

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Another November 14

Today is my 74th birthday, and I have received hugs and phone calls and cards telling me Happy Birthday. I feel loved and cherished, but mostly I feel overwhelmingly grateful for celebrating another year with those who provide these sweet greetings, and look forward as I give thanks for the days and months to come in the year ahead.  It occurs to me that I have never really had an Unhappy Birthday!  I have had birthdays celebrated in Jacksonville, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, and Plano, Texas.  But I have also celebrated my birthday in Oregon, California, Jakarta, Indonesia, and Singapore.

 On the evening of November 14, 1991, Joe was in the U.S. on business, Ben (17 at that time) and I had gone to Singapore for him to have minor surgery. He needed to stay in the hotel room and rest, so I left him for a few minutes and slipped outside to watch as the president of Singapore made a speech and flipped the switch to turn on the millions of  Christmas lights and displays that fill the shopping district of Singapore for the holidays.  It is one of the most spectacular (and completely commercial) extravanzas in the world!  I stood for a few moments, surrounded by thousands of complete strangers in a world that was bent on extreme celebration, and then quickly hurried back to my hotel room and my son, knowing then as I know even more all these years later that I feel most celebrated in the light of the love of my family.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


I think alot about my mother in October.  October 20 is the day we always celebrated her birthday, and I still do, although in different ways, since her death just over 8 Octobers ago.  She went home (her phrase) on September 21, 2006, one day short of a month before her 93rd birthday. I miss her still, but softer, gentler memories than grief color my thoughts when I turn the calendar this month. For Mother's Day the first year after I left home, I mailed her a postcard with a poem every day for a week before. I was in college, short in funds but long on words, and prompted by a longing to let her know how much I loved her and appreciated all she did for me.  As years passed and the physical distance between us grew (as far as the almost 11 ,000 miles between East Texas and the island of Java in the late 80's), she maintained her loving encouragement with long chatty letters filled with clippings and recipes. At the end of her life, when Alzheimer's had blotted out so much of her ability to communicate, she still told me she loved me, and, fearful that she would not remember to say so, she dotted her counters and space with yellow sticky notes telling me so.

Long before that, one of her letters to me contained this folded article. Unless you have a touch screen display that allows you to enlarge,the above photo is not of the quality that allows reading of the piece by Marya Saunders that appeared in The Tyler Morning News Sunday edition May 14,1961, but you will be able to see Mother's lovely, even handwriting, telling me "I Love You Darling, and Thank God for you, Mother."  And of course her ever practical pointing out, "This was in Tyler Paper yesterday."

So I echo the author's subtitle.  Neither time nor death has stilled this message from a mother to her daughter. 

Friday, August 15, 2014


As Nora nears 5 months old, she is increasingly aware of color and patterns.  She is more sensitive to faces, smiling at those familiar to her and exhibiting wariness or alarm at those who are not. She fingers spots and dots on toys, reaches for the bright paisley of my shirt and the textured wood panel of her changing table. Here, she is fixed on the butterfly quilt that belonged to one of the grandmothers she is named for, Opal Terrell Teal.  As I smiled and watched her admiration, I thought of so many stories the quilt could tell.

Opal was my mother, making her Nora's great grandmother.  The butterfly quilt was made as a gift for Opal on her 17th birthday in 1931, a common pattern choice in those depression years that so needed the butterfly's symbolism of hope.  The women who chose these colors and patterns and stitched every tiny, even stitch were Opal's mother and grandmother, making them Nora Opal's great-great grandmother and great-great-great grandmother.  I stood as I watched Nora admire their handwork, thinking of their stories and hers.  They could not have known that almost a century later, a beautiful little girl would so love what they made. But I am confident they know now.  Opal herself did not know when she passed the quilt on to me how I would keep it and love it and give it again.  But I know she joins Clyde and Earnestine in blessing Nora and returning the admiration. Hope is a wonderful gift to pass on.

Friday, December 20, 2013

To Mary Ann From Daddy

On December 18, John William Howard Teal, my father, was born to Thomas Jefferson (1877- 1958) and Ida Mayfield Teal (1870 -1958)  Ida must have considered her first child a gift for her own birthday on Christmas day a week later.  Three more children, another son and two daughters were quickly added to the family because Ida was in her late thirties when she married.  Times were hard for poor farmers, so Howard, his sisters Edna and Lela, and the youngest, a brother named Woodrow worked hard along with their parents on farms, one in an area called Mt. Enterprise in Cherokee county, finally settling in the community of Bullard, Smith County, Texas, where they farmed and had a small weathered clapboard house. I remember visiting my Teal grandparents.  Papa Teal, 7 years younger than Ida, was a round white haired man with a red face.  He was hard of hearing so he seemed very loud and gruff.  Ida was a tiny woman with white hair worn in a tight bun.

Daddy was loving and attentive to his parents, especially his mother, calling her "Mama."  Many people have told me he was one of the kindest men they every knew.  He was also kind and caring to our Mother and to my sister and me. He did have a temper but rarely lost it.  Since he only had a 7th grade education, he worked very hard to earn a living. He was working at Cameron's cafeteria in Tyler, TX when he and Mother married.  They both continued to work there for some time. During World War II, they moved to New Orleans, LA so he could work as a welder in the shipyards. After they came back to Texas, he worked in the Bon Ton Cafe in Jacksonville, and eventually owned a restaurant with his brother. Later he owned and operated the Bus Station Cafe across from the Liberty Hotel in Jacksonville.  My first job was in that cafe. I was twelve years old, and pleased to greet customers and take their orders.

Although they didn't live on the farm, my parents purchased land from my maternal grandparents where Daddy kept a small herd of cattle, had a garden with a fruit orchard and grew some crops.

Daddy made a profession of faith and was baptized in the cotton gin pond in Bullard before he and Mother married.  He was a faithful member of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville and rarely missed a church service where he could be found on the same pew two rows from the back every Sunday.  He loved his grandsons and they loved going with him to feed the cows.

I never doubted that he adored me and I adored him.  He was proud of my good grades and the fact that I went to college.  He has been dead for over thirty years but I still miss him.  It is part of Christmas for me to honor his birthday.  He was not big on gift giving, but every Christmas he put chocolate covered cherries under the Christmas tree for me from him.  Today, I bought a box of Queen Anne Chocolate Covered Cherries and put the unwrapped box under the tree with all the wrapped gifts.  Thank you, Daddy - you are still a gift to me.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Opal and Howard

My parents, Opal Auntionette Terrell Teal and John William Howard Teal, photographed on  July 2, 1943
They were married on December 27, 1931. This photograph was taken at the wedding of H.P. and Catherine Terrell.  H. P. was Opal's youngest brother.

November is a month when many focus on gratitude.  For several years, I have kept a daily gratitude journal to use as part of my morning meditation time.  I write down 5 things for which I am thankful.  Some are very small things - a bird at my kitchen window, the way morning light casts a lacy shadow on the wall, a phone call.  I say thank you, too,  for the biggest things in my every day:  God's faithfulness and love, for the way he is working in my family's life.  I give thanks for food and shelter and good hugs from Joe and our sons.  I am grateful for my daughters- in- law, and my granddaughters' laughter.

 I was born on November 14, 1940, so today is my birthday. I am grateful for my parents' life and love which began my life.  Thank you, God, for Opal and Howard Teal.  Thank you, Mother and Daddy, for loving each other and for loving me.  I never doubted for a moment that I was cherished.  Your faith and love and your hard work to provide good things for me continue to sustain me. You live on in me, in your grandsons, and in your great grandchildren.   You are part of everything I ever write down on my gratitude list.