Follow by Email

Showing posts with label family fun. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family fun. Show all posts

Saturday, June 23, 2018

I see that it has been exactly 2 months since my last post for this blog. I confess I have wondered if it is time for me to hang up my blogs. But writing is healing for me, and stories still need to be told even when they are painful! I believe we model for our sons and grandchildren ways that we handle difficulty. After all, it is not about the heaviness of the load, but the way that you bear it!  Joe's vision is improved but still fluctuating after laser surgery; he is still unable to drive and vision related  pursuits he enjoys like reading and watching television are unsatisfactory.    A month ago I spent a week in the hospital due to pneumonia secondary to flu. Since then we have made and kept over 20 medical appointments! Friends and family have called, prayed, shared food and flowers. God is with us every moment. We have learned in new ways the blessing of asking for help, and allowing it!  

The week after I was released from the hospital, we had a surprise impromptu Parker family reunion!  Twenty three people, most of whom we have not seen in several years, gathered to not only bring a meal but clean up every single thing after we had visited all afternoon. There is great joy in keeping family connections. I love looking at photos and seeing all the smiles and shining eyes!  I stood near my kitchen table where 5 girl cousins and Ben were laughing and trading stories. 2 of these "girls" were flower girls in our wedding!  Sean and his family had just left to go home, and Jeremy (in Nevada) received a phone call from them. As they put the phone on speaker and continued their laughter, I thought this was a dear moment I could never have dreamed when we planned that  Christmas wedding 3 days after Christmas in 1963!  

Three of Joe's brothers (here with other groomsmen) have passed from earthly life. His brother Pasco (3rd from Joe in the photo) and his wife, Iris, my sister in law Judy, nieces, a grand nephew, and Iris' sister and her husband plus our sons and their families who live near us made the group that Saturday. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Easter 2017

When Nora and her Mom let me help to die these eggs in the days before Easter, and every time the eggs got hidden and hunted, I was reminded of all the years of Easter excitement and egg hunts with Nora's Daddy, Ben, and his brothers followed by our grandchildren as they arrived one by one to fill all our lives with the joy of doing things together.  I remembered our first son's first Easter.  He was only 3 months old on April 14, 1968,  so Joe and I were proud to share our new son with his grandparents and aunts and uncles. I remember sewing Easter outfits for him that got handed down to his brothers and handing down the things we did together to celebrate Easter and other holidays as well. With each new son, it seemed the traditions expanded and became richer.

At the time those traditions begin, we did not plan ahead for doing it over and over again, but I am glad we did. I am thankful that we included the larger elements of gathering with family and worshipping as part of these celebrations. I find deep satisfaction in "doing it again" with my grandchildren. I am thankful that our sons and their wives have loved these traditions and continue them while adding their own!

Funny how colored eggs tell such a story!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Family Time

In all my sorting through hundreds of family pictures from many years, I often think, "Why didn't I take more?"  I know, of course.  Family life was busy, it was hard to catch just the right candid shots, and our equipment for photography was not very good.  I take such pleasure in being able to pick up my cell phone and catch a moment of unexpected happiness. We went out house hunting this afternoon, and Ben, Kristen, and Nora took this few minutes to sit for awhile on a bench.  I am passing some of their sunshine on to you!

Saturday, August 8, 2015


 Joe added something important to our garden this week - a tree swing for Nora!  She has not yet been here to try it when it was cool enough to be out there.  106 - 108 degrees this week is forecast!  But it is almost mid August and we are looking forward to swinging and singing before long. We have a front porch swing that all of our granddaughters enjoy.  Recently, Maddie took her root beer float out to sit in that swing.
I remember the swing on my front porch when I was Maddie's age, and also the swings our little boys loved when they were growing up. There is magic in pumping your legs to swing higher and feeling the air rush past. There is such sweetness in remembering the calls to "Swing me higher, Daddy!" and "Please push me." I know our age is one of cell phones and tablets with online games and countless diversions that can be held in their hands, but I so want to offer our sweet girls the choices of spending time outdoors, finding beauty in nature, letting imaginations fill their stories with wonder. I want to encourage them to watch for the caterpillar and chrysalis and butterfly, and which plants are good for that. I hope they will make necklaces from 4 o'clock blooms, crowns from sticky weed, and make mud pies. I want them to love rubbing herbs in their fingers and knowing its name by the way it smells. I long for them to collect rocks and seeds, to feel the wonder of cool wet dew on bare feet,  and listen for cicadas in the trees in summertime. I want to enjoy eating watermelon and popsicles on the back porch with them, watching for bird nests, listening to birdsong, planting Morning Glories and Moonflowers, using a watering can to give the flowers a "shower."  And swinging.

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!


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Nora celebrated the Fourth of July with water!  She discovered the fun of sprinklers and splashing, tasting drops and chasing bubbles,  and made it all new again for the rest of us.  We lined our front sidewalk with tiny flags, grilled hot dogs and sweet corn and finished with homemade ice cream. But it was her little girl's excitement and laughter that made the day one we will always remember. I recently saw a billboard by the freeway that announced "Memories happen without warning." It was advertising vacations in Colorado, but we don't have to plan a trip or travel for the happening. On our back porch, on July 4, 2015, hearts filled up and ran over with happiness that is now a forever memory.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Nora was only a few weeks old last Easter, but this year she proudly walked around for all to see her Easter outfit!  Her Dad held her proudly as he brought her into our church's Easter breakfast wearing all the special clothes her Mommy had assembled for her. We were amazed how long the hat stayed on her dark haired head.  Later, at home when her shoes and stockings were given up for sweet bare feet, her hat traded for bunny ears. I looked around at the gathering her parents had assembled - fond grandparents, aunts, uncles, and proud cousin, and remembered a sweet line from a Fernando Ortega song called "This Time Next Year."

"... hold her high, because we are lifted in her laughter!"  

posted with gratitude to Ben and Kristen and Nora, and also to Nora's other grandmother, Desiree, who outdid herself cooking our Easter brunch. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Pleasure of Your Company

I enjoy so many things about my granddaughters, all 5 of them. Since they range in age from 10 months to 21 years, there is wide variation, but some things are common to all. I am happy they like to be in our home.  Without fail, when they come if I am not on the front porch waiting, they knock and peer through the leaded glass on our front door and greet me with excitement!  I love conversation with them, Nora saying it all with her gestures and her eyes, and the others chattering away with me. Like most people who enjoy cooking and being in the kitchen, I welcome them there and that seems to be their favorite place inside. I like that they like to cook and ask to help with meals and treats. I welcome their pleasure in our shaded back yard or in the sunny garden, enjoying the fragrance of herbs or looking for butterfly caterpillars or climbing trees (well, Nora looks and smells, she does not yet climb trees) ! We have fun with sidewalk chalk, planting seeds, cutting flowers to dry, art projects, dressup, and tea parties.  One of my favorite pleasures is the joy they have in being with each other, as in the top photo of Skye and Nora.  But of all the things we enjoy, Nora tells us the best...


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Mother's Kitchen Stool

I have several pieces of antique furniture that once belonged to my mother and her mother before:  an oak china cabinet of Civil War vintage, a wash stand, a library table, a rocking chair that I myself was rocked in when I was a baby, my dining table, Grandma Terrell's bureau.   I have written about the dining table, and will probably write about some of these other things at another time, but this kitchen stool with its worn edges and chipped paint, has been "talking" to me lately.  It belonged to my mother for as long as I remember, and she painted it this pale green when she repainted her kitchen cabinets in the house on Sunset Ave. where I grew up.  It went with her to the little brick house on Tena Street she and Daddy bought in the 1970's, and when she sold that house over 20 years later, the stool went to her tiny apartment in Jacksonville.  There, where the kitchen was not big enough for a stool, it sat in the corner with a circle of lace over it and held the Bible that had once belonged to my father.  In 2002, Mother's dwindling possessions and the stool moved from East Texas to Sugar Land,  to another small apartment where the lace cloth and Bible were unpacked and put back into place.  

In mid July of 2006, Mother began receiving hospice care so I began the sad task of clearing the rooms where she had spent her last years. The kitchen stool came home to another kitchen, mine. I once thought of repainting it with cheerful colors and patterns, but somehow that didn't seem right. I had grown to love every chip and scratch, and in these last 8 years it has taken on a new dignity and task. Now, this stool is where my granddaughters perch to help me cook. When they stir and taste and laugh, I feel my mother's joy blending with mine.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


The happiest times on my calendar right now are the days I care for my granddaughter Nora! Every third week is "our" week.  At 3 months, there are certain constants: feedings, diapering, and naps. I love the tending that requires. And I love the joy of the in between times - the cuddling, conversation and cooing, the rocking and singing and togetherness that refills her and comforts her and is important to her as well as those first 3 essentials.

She doesn't mind my crackly voice singing "A, You're Adorable."  We make it through that song every diaper change. If there is an entire clothing change, we sometimes get through several songs from The Sound of Music!  She talks to me with her eyes to say thank you, and flashes a coquettish grin when I brush her hair.

Yesterday we walked outside to catch a raindrop and she smelled a basil leaf when I made my lunch. She likes dots and patterns so I choose the blouse I will wear for her. We play peek a boo and pat a cake and chant nursery rhymes. When I rock her to sleep, I sing many of the same old hyms that my mother and grandmother sang to me. We have discovered that Christmas carols are wonderful lullabies!

Our other granddaughters are a joy to me and teach me just like she does that there is so much to look forward to. They help me remember some favorite lines from a poem by Mary Oliver:      "Pay attention.
   Be astonished.
    Tell about it."
 - all so much more fun when we do it together!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Crawfish Season

My granddaughters are such a source of delight for me, often reenacting a scene straight out of the past when their daddies were the same age.  In this photograph, Maddie has captured a large crawfish from one of the mounds near their house.  Her gleeful grimace may be a touch more dainty than those I remember on the face of her Dad and his brothers, but I love hearing that Maddie and her sister Jordann have now lured their neighboring friends from the grip of Minecraft and Dora the Explorer to this sunny spot outdoors to join them in their quest to "catch critters."  I am sure my son enjoyed showing them how, which is exactly what he did nearly 40 years ago!  Our sons were 3, 5, and 8 when we moved to a house that backed up to a creek in Plano, Texas.  They didn't have any trouble making friends once they got out their string and bacon and began fishing for the crawfish that were all along the creekbanks.  In good old East Texas lingo, they called them "crawdads."

The boys enjoyed keeping one for a pet now and then.  They had captured a very large crawfish which was being kept in an aquarium on our kitchen buffet. My mother came to visit and as usual, she got up earlier in the morning than any of us and slipped barefoot into the kitchen to make her first cup of coffee.  She suddenly woke up the rest of the house when she started yelling because she didn't know what had invaded the kitchen floor. The boys had unwittingly caught a mama crawfish that had dozens of tiny babies clinging to her swimmerets  She had crawled out of the tank, slipped onto the floor, and scattered little crawfish everywhere.  Mother thought they were bugs, and indeed, in some places they are called mud bugs!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Family Photographs

This picture wall is between our master bedroom and great room which also has our kitchen, so I walk through the area many times a day - from first thing in the early morning to last thing before I go to bed at night.  In the eight years we have lived in this house, I have rearranged the wall a number of times, particularly as new babies join our family circle.  Sometimes I stop to adjust a frame or touch a smiling face. Often, I stop, loving the connection with individuals and the gathering of all of us as family.  Those are the times I thank God for Joe and our sons and their wives and our grandchildren.  Through the ups and downs of our lives, we remain connected.  Sometimes I let my eyes travel from frame to frame, praying for daily strength and peace, fortitude in adversity, wisdom in plans, discernment for challenges, joy in new beginnings,   and overall that we will love God and each other well. Soon we will add another photograph.  Our family is growing.  I am blessed and grateful. Our story continues!

Thursday, August 29, 2013


After a day at work for Joe and a day of waiting for him to come home for Bella, they settle down in their favorite spot to stop and sit awhile.  Joe makes a fuss about whose chair it is and she turns around and wiggles a few times to find just the right way to view her world, but there is no question - it isn't his or hers, it is their chair. I wouldn't think of taking that place to sit! What furry friend shares your chair?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Scattered Memories

I heard a loud crash early one morning last week and rushed to check on Joe, who was getting dressed.  Then I walked through the kitchen and front part of the house looking for damage.  One cat was sitting calmly on the back of a chair but the other cat hid for the rest of the morning.  I didn't have to guess which one had knocked a bowl of homemade pot potpourri onto our ceramic tile floor. Skye came to spend the day with me and as she helped me take this picture and sweep up the broken pottery and remains of dried herbs and flowers , we talked about the damage and how breaking something can make us sad.  She wanted to keep the broken pieces of the bowl and some of the dried rosebuds to put with her fairy garden supplies.  Then we swept the rest into the trash.

It was only after I looked at the photo that I thought more about why this dish of dried petals was special.
Every thing in the bowl was from our garden and had been added one at a time.  The tiny Katrina rose buds and petals from a fragrant Maggie rose and the yellow rose which clambers over an arch,  tawny, leathery Magnolias, lavender fronds, pieces of basil and rosemary, even a dried slice of Meyer lemon.  All were gathered and collected in a small hand thrown bowl fired in a speckled jade green glaze that I bought when we lived in Indonesia over 20 years ago. Some of the rose buds had been picked by little girls and proudly presented as a gift. Joe likes to bring me a flower or piece of herb when he comes in from the garden. It was a joint endeavor.

So I was sad, not for the things broken and scattered, but for that which they represented: the growing and choosing and gathering, the connection and love of my family. And once again, I know that I can let go of things, but that I keep the love.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tea, Tree, and a Tooth

Maddie celebrated her seventh birthday at our house last Saturday with a tea party, complete with butter cookies and lemon tea served in tiny china tea cups that were mine when I was seven!  She knows how to dress up in a pink swirly dress and drink from dainty cups but she spent more time climbing trees and helping in the garden than sipping tea while she was here.

 Look at her smile in the top two photos.  Then notice what is missing in the next picture...
She pulled her own front tooth to finish a big day of celebrating!

The evening she and her mom and sister left to go home, Maddie released some ladybugs in the garden. The ladybugs are still hanging around on the roses and mint.  Maybe they miss her.  I do!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Good Times

We spent the night at Maddie and Jordann's house last week, and they modeled their new tops for me.  Maddie will celebrate her 7th birthday next week while they are here for Spring Break.  We have a list of things we want to do that includes planning a birthday Tea Party, having fashion shows from the dressup box, pressing flowers, doing leaf rubbings, making cookie press cookies, having a picnic in our Secret Place,  going ice skating, picking strawberries, planting new herbs in the garden, going to the American Girl Doll Store, and having lots of play time with cousin Skye. I can't wait!

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Celebrating our anniversary last week and heading into both our 50th year of marriage as well as the year 2013 has meant spending time in reflection and gratitude, savoring memories and looking forward to making more. Joe is the love of my life, my partner, and my forever friend.  Our sons are my pride and joy; my granddaughters fill my life with delight and laughter, more than I could have ever imagined.  That is why I love this image of our oldest son, Sean, and his daughter, Skye.  They are standing in our kitchen, surrounded by my pot rack,  the little altar at my kitchen window where I worship even while washing dishes, and that word, "Imagine" on the cabinet top. Just to the left is a smaller phrase, harder to see, but very big in importance.  On it are the words "Celebrate Family,  Friends, Tradition.  Here in one small photo - what a wonderful life!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Trees and Trims

Our Christmas house has more than one tree to trim.  We have artificial trees these days, but the decorations that dress them have been on many trees in many different places.  After the spare snowflake and string ball trimmed tree of our 1964 Christmas, Joe and I added an ornament or two or three every year.  So that our sons would have their own Christmas ornaments when they left to begin their own traditions and families, we let them choose an ornament for their own each year which was stored in a box.  I love visiting their homes and seeing a few of those childhood choices on their trees this time of year.  This tree is in my kitchen.  It celebrates family and the cooking we enjoy together, and is trimmed with cookie cutters I used when I was a little girl, cookie recipes handwritten  by grandmothers and friends, and little gingerbread boys and girls. The gingerbread family is over 35 years old, so of course is not real gingerbread.  When my sons were all in the same elementary school, one year we made baker's clay ornaments colored with instant coffee for all their teachers plus some for our own tree.  They come back out to dance on our tree and remind us of many happy Christmas times together in our kitchen.

My granddaughters are a delight all year 'round, but Christmas brings more fun than ever.  We enjoy making this tea tray with a tiny tree, teacups and teapots. We add a mix of pretty tea bags and Joe's mother's small spoon collection plus the book A Cup of Christmas Tea.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Cutting paper snowflakes can make young children into magicians and grandmas into little girls again.  There is mystery involved in the folding, choosing just the right place to cut, and carefully trimming little triangles and curves and slashes.  But there is wonder in the unfolding!  Much like the real ones, no two snowflakes turn out exactly the same.  I have never lost that sense of expectation and trying to imagine how this one is going to turn out.

Forty-nine years ago Joe and I celebrated our first Christmas as a married couple.  That December found us far from our Texas family and friends, in Corvallis, Oregon.  The original plan for Joe to enter graduate school there had been delayed.  In the meantime, he did any odd job available, including painting houses.  I worked as a nurse in a busy pediatric practice within walking distance of our apartment.  One of our doctors had a farm outside of town where we were invited to come cut a Christmas tree. We tramped around the hillside brushing away blackberry vines to find a perfect small Grant pine.  Its symmetrical, graceful branches had wide spaces that were perfect for decorating.  But we were beginning our home and our traditions.  We had no old familiar ornaments to unbox and remember.  We also had no extra money in the budget for buying same.  So we hung a few candy canes, made some string balls from twine and starch and balloons, and carefully cut lacy snowflakes.  That year I knitted my new husband a green sweater with sleeves twice as long as his arms.  He painted a tiny recipe box for me and pasted "Good Things You Can Fix" on top.

The photograph is the few snowflakes that remain after all these years.  I framed them last year for a gift for Joe.  This year we will remember our 1964 snowflakes when we make paper snowflakes with our grandchildren.  If you have never cut a snowflake, try this project.  You will agree with Charles Dickens - "It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself."

For some wonderfully fancy paper snowflakes, visit

Saturday, November 3, 2012


What do these things have in common other than the fact they are all colored glass?  I could say that all three pieces belonged to my mother, as did the aluminum tray. They were all originally purchased in what was once termed a "five and dime" store.  True, too that each piece of glass reflects a part of childhood images: the little cruet filled with vinegar for my mother's favorite wilted lettuce salad, the ashtray once holding Daddy's Lucky Strike cigarette ashes, the candy bowl that held lemon drops.

My story is not about where the items came from, or what they were used for.  It is the story of how they changed from plain clear glass to the colors of honey and amber. Each one of these pieces was carried on one of our family's rare summer trips for an unusual purpose.  Hardly a vacation, still somewhere to go and much anticipated, Mother, Daddy, my sister Janice, and I for several years traveled from our home in Jacksonville, Texas down to central Texas to a similar sized town where we stayed in a tiny motel room cooking our own meals.  There were no theme or waterparks, little scenic attraction, and no relatives to visit.

 Why would we use Daddy's precious one week of time off from work to do this?  One reason:  Marlin, Texas had a mineral hot springs. Located about four miles east of the Brazos River,   Marlin had a clinic and bath house where people with various ailments (Daddy had rheumatism) could go for a round of hot mineral baths as healing therapy.  Daddy signed up for a week's worth of the baths at the bathhouse. He encouraged us to drink the mineral water for its health benefits, but I hated the taste. Mother, my sister, and I amused ourselves in various ways, the most exciting thing being taking dime store glass to the mineral water fountain in the center of town and leaving it for the hot mineral salts to splash over  We checked it every day. Yes, it was still there, along with assorted other glass objects that people had left - to my knowledge, no one ever took anyone else's glass.  By the end of the week, the glass had turned varying degrees of golden colors, an enchanting kind of magic to me. 

It was a long time before I learned more of Marlin's history. While digging to find a water supply for Marlin’s 2,500 residents in 1891,  engineers struck sulfur-laden water that gushed out of the ground at 147 degrees F. Several physicians interested in the curative properties established clinics, bathhouses and sanitariums. More wells were drilled, hotels and boarding houses opened their doors, and by 1900, Marlin was a popular spa emphasizing medical water treatments. The New York Giants baseball team trained there from 1908 to 1919.  Some think it was not  mere coincidence that the Giants won the National League pennant in 1911, 1912 and 1913.

In the 1920s, the Marlin Hot Wells Foundation for Crippled Children established a hospital to treat young polio victims  In 1929, Conrad Hilton built his eighth Hilton Hotel in his chain in Marlin, a nine-floor, 110 room Falls Hotel, which could be seen for miles from the city limits of Marlin. Across the street was the Marlin Sanitarium Bathhouse. An underground tunnel connected the two buildings. A fire destroyed the underground tunnel, the Sanitarium Bath House was torn down, and the Falls Hotel was closed. Despite sporadic attempts to revive them, Marlin’s mineral-water establishments were pretty much gone by the 1960's.

 The hotel remains the tallest building in Falls County. The location of the bath house is now the city post office and a gazebo park. Another former hotel, the Arlington Hotel on Coleman Street, is now the location of a Mexican restaurant, Lupita's, and the Marlin Inn.

Today, you can drink mineral water  from a fountain from that era, right next to the Chamber of Commerce Office. You can soak your feet too, (they've thoughtfully provided a separate facility for that )  Water has laxative properties, which locals have timed at 43 minutes!.  I think it is fun to visit the fountain, but I don't seen any glassware transformation going on there these days.  I still don't drink the water, but Lupita's is a great place for lunch.