Category Archives: Friends and Family

Memories Of Terrible Tuesday – 35 Years Later


Tomorrow, April 10th, 2014 will mark the 35th anniversary of an event that changed my life forever.

When as many as 38 confirmed tornadoes danced the Red River Valley.  More destruction from the same weather cell would spill into the next day, affecting parts of Arkansas and Missouri for a total of 59 tornadoes confirmed.

Photograph of the Seymour, TX tornado of 10 April 1979.  (Wiki commons)

Photograph of the Seymour, TX tornado of 10 April 1979. (Wiki commons)

They later called it Terrible Tuesday.  Many remember that a mile wide path was carved through Wichita Falls, TX, killing 42 people.  But another tornado also came up through the edge of my hometown of Lawton, OK a few hours before.  And we lost 3 people too.

I remember it being called an F4 or F5 long ago, but it seems that time has downgraded it in the records to an F3.

They say that particular tornado split into two, possibly three tornadoes after it hit town.

I believe it happened at my house.

I always get emotional when I remember that day.  I was 7 and a half, and I remember the day like last week’s trauma.  The jewel green look of the sky when we were at the Safeway grocery store on Ft. Sill Blvd.  The way the air tasted, tingly like a weak 9 volt battery playing in the back of your mouth.  The way everyone ignored the weather in Oklahoma and went about their business.

You gotta understand.  Tornadoes were no unusual thing.  However, usually they were small.  Maybe they take out a barn or something.  Maybe they never touch the ground.  Maybe we get a little excitement, but rarely was it that big of a deal.

People ignored tornado “warnings” all the time back then.

I remember standing at the back glass door, staring at the heavy rain when we got home.  Watching the hail come down and get louder and larger.

My mother worked for the American Red Cross at the time.  She helped train folks in disaster preparedness.  I’d watched every film our local chapter had to offer at the time.  We knew well that the safest place in the home was as close to the center as you could get and away from windows.  And we had regular drills at school, filing into the hallways, crouching on our knees with our heads face-down towards the floor and wall, our open textbooks held to cover our necks and heads.

On Monday night before, there was a PTA meeting at Will Rogers Elementary School – the school I attended and lived across the street from.  Mom and her director gave a presentation to our school and parents about tornadoes, what to look for, where to go, what to expect. The biggest thing I remembered from that meeting was the Red Cross director talking about hail and rain.  He held strings of white beads in front of a poster to represent hail as he described the pattern progression of a storm.

He said, “It’s not the rain and hail you need to be afraid of. It’s when it suddenly stops.

It’s because a tornado sucks everything up.

I stood at our back door, watching the rain and hail get harder and larger.  Suddenly it was like a switch had been flicked and there was a stunning moment of silence against the jewel green sky.  My mom hung up the phone and yelled “Kids, hit the hallway!”

The hallway in our antique home, a house old enough that it still had some of the gas pipes for lighting in the walls, was a tiny 4-5 foot circle that our bedrooms opened to before spilling into the living room.  I grabbed my cat Taffy and my little brother’s hand and we sat down low.  There was just enough room for us and mom.  She managed to flip the breaker before the first crash.

They say a tornado sounds like a freight train….

But I never heard it.

I heard my swing set crash through my bedroom window.  Nearly every window in the house broke.  The sound of glass and boards flying through our home filled my ears.  As did the sounds of my little 5 year old brother screaming as he writhed in my hand and tried to get away to run.

“Hang on to him!”

Of course he was scared.  I tightened my grip on my brother’s wrist, and suddenly my cat bolted from my arms.

And somewhere, in the middle of all the crashing noises, there was a sudden pounding on our front door, just maybe 20 feet away.  Mom got to the door to let my friend Francis in, along with her brother and sister, from across the street.  We didn’t get to play real often, and she was a little younger than me, but Francis was one of my best friends.  Her father was in the army and her mother was at work, so the kids were home alone that afternoon.

I heard Francis’ sister say over and over, “The table fell on me.  The table fell on me!”

One of them was barefoot (or was it two?).  And somehow, they made it through the storm and across the street to our house before their home collapsed like a pile of cards.

And then, as they huddled into the tiny circle of our hallway with us, it was over.  And somehow, our home filled with debris, none of us were hurt.

“There is no tornado. There is no tornado.”

Mom had grabbed our radio.  An announcer emphatically urged the public not to panic, that reports of a tornado were false.  “There is no tornado. There is no tornado.”

Dad had seen the tornado from downtown where he worked, just a few miles away.  He raced home.  Mom said he kicked in the only undamaged door left in the house.  My grandma lived a block away.  She saw a board come at her through her hallway and managed to get into the hall closet in time.  It would be three days before I saw my cat again, thankfully alive.

Stepping out into the world after that was surreal.  Destruction and chaos surrounded our still standing home.  We lived on a corner diagonally across the street from my school.  Surveying the damage, half the school gym was peeled away and gone.  On one side across from our corner, a neighbor’s house was missing its entire roof.  Francis’ house on the other side across from our corner was a pile of rubble.  And the house across from us next to hers had completely vanished.

People used to steal our apples all the time. I guess they won’t anymore.

Trees, rubble and power-lines were everywhere.  The neighbor’s old tall tree beside us just missed crashing through my parents’ bedroom.  Our old sycamore tree looked shaved on one side.  The apple tree didn’t survive.

Bits of someone else’s swing set were in our yard.  Unbroken dishes that didn’t belong to us had miraculously shown up inside our house.  Even food had been blown around. For decades our neighbor had a saltine cracker framed that was put through their ceiling.  I heard that it finally fell out one year when her husband was fixing the roof.

The day took on an even deeper experience as it was also Passover night for our family.  We weren’t Jewish, but our church at the time kept Passover services after sundown on April 10th that year.  I forget why it was a day earlier than other Passover services.  Some sort of argument about the right way to figure the date.

Normally, children were not allowed at these solemn services.  But there would be no babysitter in our home that night.

We were late for the service, but I remember the deacons and other volunteers helping us in.  My brother went with my father and I with my mother for the foot washing ceremony.  I watched as a woman removed my mother’s shoes and washed away the mud and grass from her feet.  I watched as the symbolism impressed itself upon her.  Tears were in her eyes and suddenly everything felt raw to me.

More tornado sirens would go off that night. 

Some of our church members drove up from Texas for the service.  I heard that one of the families returned to Texas that night to find their home completely gone.  They thanked God they were at services instead.  Everyone murmured how we were all indeed “passed over.”

I remember sitting in a little diner that night, mom and dad talking, trying to figure out what to do.  We couldn’t go home to sleep and we didn’t really have the money to eat out or get a hotel, but there wasn’t any choice in the matter.  I remember hearing mom talk about how the mattresses would have to be replaced, that there’ve been cases of glass being embedded in mattresses by tornadoes.  The diner had those little juke boxes on the tables.  “Don’t Say Goodnight Tonight” was playing at a table nearby.  It was really popular back then, but to this day, that song feels like a haunting to me.

To my knowledge, our neighborhood and school district on the edge of town was the only part of town affected. I’ve often wondered how many people were saved thanks to mom and her director’s lecture at our school the night before.

A lot would change after that.

As the weeks would pass, our community would come together to help each other.  I remember the American Red Cross bringing relief bags with food and toiletries and the irony of it.  Grandpa came and helped my dad fix our roof.  The repairs seemed to go on forever.  And I remember how a year later, it still seemed like we’d never recover.

Our neighbor who lost his roof fixed up his house and moved away.  I can’t remember his name, but I remember that he had red hair and had been so kind.  I liked him and was angry that the tornado took him away from us.  The new neighbors never could compare.

Francis and her family also moved away and I never saw her again.  Never got an address; don’t even know her last name.  It felt like injustice and I’ve always wondered about her ever since.  I remember when the cranes came to clear away the rubble of her collapsed house.  I kept hoping she’d come back.  But it was like a curse had fallen on our neighborhood.  Her home’s lot remained empty for a long time.  And the empty lot left next to Francis’ home (where the whole house had disappeared) remained empty for the longest.

And for years, my brother and I cringed with every swirl of wind, every time the leaves blew into curls, every time a storm pounded our roof.  And for years it was hard on our parents too.  It took a long time to balance the trauma we all felt.  And the financial blow was no small thing.

I would later grow up and move on.  But every once in a while, there’s a look in the sky and a taste in the air that throws me back into the memories of a serious 7 year old child who would never forget.

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Someone Needs Your Good Thoughts Tonight


I had planned on writing about something else, but changed my mind after a phone call from a friend today.  Her nephew is in great need of your kind regards and prayers right now.  Because today, this young 23 year old is considering the taking of his own life.

He’s suffers from depression and ADHD and is in therapy, but he’s struggling. And she’s very worried.

It’s one of those dark concerns we all have, but don’t really talk about, as it becomes more and more common to know someone touched by depression and suicide.  According to Save, suicide is the third leading cause of death for kids 15-24 years old.  It’s the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S. (homicide ranks behind at 15th), according to the CDC.  On top of that, WebMD reports that there may be a connection between ADHD and depression and suicide attempts.

Certainly, my friend’s story also strikes a personal chord for me, as I still carry childhood pain from a family member’s multiple talks and attempts of suicide. Not to mention my heart goes out as a mother of teens myself.

I don’t have more details about this young man, and I do not know him personally. I do know that his family is doing everything they can for him. And that everyone is hurting.

My friend asked if I would please pass the word and ask my friends to pray too. So I extend the request to you. Please keep this young man, my friend and their family in your thoughts tonight and through this trying time for him.

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Suffering in Korea – Veteran’s Day Tribute To Grandpa Chester


Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day.

There are many veterans in my family, including my husband. But at this time, I think most of my two grandfathers, each who served entire careers for the army.

My Grandpa Chester wrote letters and poems for Grandma Leona while he served overseas.  During her last couple years of life, Grandma shared these letters and poems with me and asked me to type them up for her.  Some of the letters were getting brittle and I wanted to preserve anything she’d let me.  I marveled at the works she showed me of his hand.  Grandma said Grandpa was always a little self-conscious about his writing, but it was something special to her.

The following is a poem Grandpa wrote during his time in Korea.  I asked Grandma if I could share this on my blog sometime.  She said she thought it would be alright, but I never did post it before she died.  It seems appropriate today.  I plan to include this along with other writings from my family in a book someday.  Seems we’ve all aspired to create through pen and paper, typewriter or keyboard.

God bless you Grandma and Grandpa – I miss you both.

If you wish to share this, please send people here so Grandpa gets proper credit.  Thanks.  And please note, this poem is presented exactly as it was written.  I did not think it right to change anything even though some of the language might be sensitive.

Suffering in Korea

Below the Russian Border
Korea is the spot
Where we are doomed to serve our time
In a land that God forgot

Fighting the mosquitoes
Digging the ground with picks
Doing the work of gooks
And too damned tired to kick

Down with the lizards and snakes
Down where I get blue
Right in the middle of nowhere
Ten thousand miles from you

We freeze we shake we shiver
It’s more than we can stand
But we are not convicts
We are guardians of the land

We are soldiers in the ordinances
Earning our meager pay
Guarding the people of Korea
For two sixty a day

Living with only memories
Just waiting to see our gals
Hoping when we get home
They haven’t married our pals

Nobody knows we are living
Nobody gives a damn
Back home we are soon forgotten
We belong to Uncle Sam

And when we get to heaven
We will hear St. Peter yell
Bring in those guys from Korea
They’ve served their time in HELL.

By: Chester William David Combs

Grandma told me she thought this was written in 1949.  However, it seems the US did not get involved in Korea until 1950 and I believe Grandpa was actually in Japan in 1949.  Or at least officially.  Still, there was something about my grandfather being part of a special group serving in Korea that I don’t have enough information about, nor that Grandpa would talk about.  All I know is he had some part in helping to set up the new government and grandma was presented with a gift from the new Korean …  someone?  I’m not sure.  But grandma had this poem stuffed inside a letter and she still had the gift from Korea.

Copyright, all rights reserved.  Again, if you share this, please do not copy and paste.  Please send people here so Grandpa gets proper credit.  Thanks. 

Let’s not forget our veterans.  Thank and hug a veteran today.


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He’s Smarter Than He Knows…


It was one of those days, with all the details and “have to’s” coming down on my head.  Too much demanding my attention, too many things vying to converge on the same space-time continuum, too many worries and nothing I could ignore, put off or say no to.  And it all required a lot of concentration.  I stare at figures and paperwork and bills, trying to apply a sense of logic and peace to it all.

My son runs into the kitchen (my office).  His enthusiasm about a funny incident at school gushes over me. Then he notices I’m already sitting there in tears.

“Mommy, what’s wrong?”

“I’m sorry honey, things are not so great right at this moment and I have a lot to figure out.”  Caught off guard, I’m not very good at choking back tears.

“Well, but things are going to be so much better now that you are here,” he tells me.

I smile.  “I love you very much son.  That was sweet.  Thank you.”  There are times he’s amazingly sweet and his belief in me catches me off guard.  Changing subjects and pulling myself together though I add, “But I do need you to do your homework.”

“No…” he declares.  “First I’m going to come over and hug you right now!”  He loom tackles me in my chair.

Sigh…..  It’s one of those sighs where I love his hugs, wish I wasn’t so stressed and am trying to refocus so I can do what I need to do.  My son never hugs lightly.  It’s always a tackle and a bear squeeze.  And in effort to comfort me he hangs on a little longer.

I hold on to the moment just a bit and then pat his arm.  “I wish I could just live on hugs dear.  But there are just so many things coming down on me right now and I need to think.”  He lets go.

“So…” he says lightly, “just use an umbrella.”

I know I am here to teach my kids and guide them in life, but so often it is they who teach me. I stare at my son as he walks away, his words striking a tone.

And I realize he’s right.  It’s so simple.  Just use an umbrella.  And there’s always time for hugs.

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“Mommy: Which Would You Rather Have To Fight In A Tank – A Tarantula Or A T-Rex?”


I take my head-phones off.  My son just came barreling into the kitchen.  “What?” I ask. 

It’s Sunday morning and I’m sipping coffee at the table, enjoying the quiet while typing.  I’m working on a blog post.  Well… I was.  Until now.

It’s another one of those convoluted questions he throws in my lap when my head is completely dedicated to something else already.  And I’m not even really awake yet. 

He repeats the question.

“Wait,” I ask. “So the tarantula and the T-Rex are in the tank?  And I’m outside the tank trying to fight them?” I’m trying to visualize a tarantula and mini t-rex in a tank.

“No!” He says.  “You’re in the tank! It’s for the game I’m programming.”

“Oh, so I’m in the tank with them, trying to fight them?”

“No! Only you are in the tank, they are outside.”

“Wait, so I’m in the tank and a giant tarantula or T-Rex is trying to attack me?” 

“Yes!”

Since my brain was literally torn from the job it was tasked with when he popped his question, I’m struggling harder than usual to visualize and a scene from Honey I Shrunk The Kids comes to mind.

“Why am I trapped in a tank trying to fight a giant Tarantula or T-Rex? Shouldn’t they be in the tank if there’s a tank at all? Am I miniature or something?”

I clearly do not understand.  I see no logic in this game scenario. 

“No Mommy! You are in a military tank – shooting at them!”

….Duh…. 

Oh….

New light is dawning on my morning coffee brain.

“I thought you meant something like a fish tank.”

Well… when you’re talking about a tarantula and a tank, of course I thought of pets!  And of course I was way off base.  No wonder it seemed so illogical to me as a game.

“No Mommy!” He puts his hands on his cheeks, staring at me incredulously.

Yeah, I don’t care for that look and my inner self pokes fun at me.

“Hehe.  That’s the look that says: ‘Am I really related to these people?‘  I thought you never wanted your kids to have that look.” 

You know what?  Shut up self!  I’m just tired, OK?  Now get on with answering your son!

“Oh.  OK, well I guess I’d rather fight the tarantula,” I say.  “I know more about them.”

“Too bad!” he quips.  “You’re fighting both!”

 


My Surreal Life on Sunday morning: October 7, 2012

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“You know Mommy? I wonder what would happen if all the magic in the world made all the water bottles in the world appear inside a car? The car would probably explode.”


Ya think?

Random thoughts in the car after school from dear son, September 30, 2010…..

O_o

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“You know Mommy? What if there were a such thing as zombie crickets?”


Random thoughts in the car from dear son after school, 2010….

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“You know what’s strange Mommy? I fall asleep easily to Iron Maiden. I don’t know why….”


(My son one night before bed, August 14, 2010…)

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“You know Mom…? There’s no better friend than the one who kills monsters with you side by side…”


(Dear son’s reflections on the couch July 2, 2010…)

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“You know Mommy? Some days I wish I could be in an all out Nerf War…”


You know son? Sometimes so do I….

(random thoughts from dear son in the car June 25, 2010…)

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“Mommy? I Wonder What the Largest Rainstorm in the World Would be Like…? I know it’s not possible, but what if the largest rainstorm in the world was a drizzle?”


(More random thoughts from dear son in the car, June 26, 2010…)

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“Mommy, I wonder what it was like for the first people who first experienced rain….? Maybe it was scary. Or maybe they were like: ‘Look – water from the sky! Wonder if it’s edible….?’”


(More random thoughts from dear son in the car, June 27, 2010.)

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“Mommy? You know what’s the one thing a person doesn’t want to see when they’re hungry? A Burger King…. And that happens to me a lot.”


(Random thoughts from Dear Son in the car one summer morning….)

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“Mommy? Remember that restaurant we went to on our trip where they throw rolls at people? I want to go back sometime. They never gave me a roll when I asked for one….”


(Dear son’s thoughts in the car one day…)

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Saving Vision…


Not everything is about money.  Being wealthy doesn’t always mean stock piles of cash.  Living abundantly doesn’t always mean you never have worries.  And being rich doesn’t always mean it’s at the expense of others or that you don’t care or donate or serve. There are many ways to measure happiness and wealth and I have always been a proponent for getting outside of the media box and ancient/out-dated religious outlooks on these things.  Money is not evil.  People who have money are not necessarily evil or happy for that matter.  People without money are not necessarily unsuccessful or for that matter poor.  “Money” is nothing more than a tool.  Many people really don’t realize where their beliefs come from and I often challenge them.  Believe what you want, but life is always better when you choose your beliefs, eyes wide open, deeply with thought and without emotional fervor, instead of falling into them.

However, there are times when money is the only barrier between you and a calling, between what’s right and what’s wrong.

As a mother I am at one of those impasses.  There are a few things right now that only a monetary income can help me with.  I’ve fought a great fight, I’ve been a good person and parent and I’m very successful in many, many ways.  That said, finances remain a concern and it’s time for me to grab the bull by the horns and get more serious about marketing myself online.  And if I’m really in business, to get out there and ask for that sale.

What’s changed?  Why am I suddenly ready to wrestle with this less gently?  My children need me.  Even if I can’t succeed for myself alone, I have to for them.

It’s my son.  And my daughter too.  It’s a lot of things.  But right now, something big is in my focus.  Though we’ve managed to get far with our son’s vision therapy, managed to actually improve his eyesight, we still need more funds to finish his treatment.  Funds we don’t have and that insurance apparently no longer covers.   Managing insurance petitions, etc. has been a full time job alone.  And I just cannot express how entirely stressful and discouraging at times.  Insurance we pay for, but that will not help my son with funds that will give him back the vision he needs to succeed in life.

So it falls to a mother to find a way.  When the future can be changed, when your child doesn’t have to live the life of someone legally blind enough not to be able to drive, when you have found the right doctors and the right treatments, when 90% of his vision issues are correctable and he doesn’t have to struggle through the rest of his school years for comprehension just because his brain and eyes are different – how can a mother not do everything in her power to find the money to make it happen?  The difference between right and wrong.  If you know someone needs help who cannot help themselves and you turn away when you could make that difference, how could you live with yourself?  And how much more so for a mother?  Blame it on the government; blame it on God?  Whine for fairness but never act?  These are not things I understand. I don’t have the time or the luxury.

I imagine in 20 years this kind of vision recovery treatment will be easily insured, just as it took time for chiropractic care to receive any respect or medical coverage.  It’s just too new to be there now.  His type of vision deficiencies too rare.  But the treatment is effective and life altering. The great news is that we have proof – our son’s vision has already drastically improved!  But we’re not done and the funds we managed to gather thus far have run out.  The tool that I need is currently missing.  His present growth could cause him to back-track if we don’t stick with and finish the therapy.

Medical bills, deployments….  There have been no extra funds in a long time.  (Were there ever?)  Smart, frugal decisions have kept us going along with a lot of hard work.  But sadly, hard work and a good heart doesn’t seem to be quite enough right now.

So it’s time to turn up the business a notch.  I’ve had to pass on local shows I would normally work and rely on for income, because most of my “studio” and supplies are necessarily packed away while our house is on the market.  Business goals for the year are having to be postponed to make room for other foci.  I had thought we’d be set with the sale of our house and able to start the next segment of our son’s therapy by now.  Instead, we’re having to wait.  And school starts in less than two weeks.

Which means my answers have to be found in more attention to my online business presence, planning and marketing.  And perhaps even in asking for help.  I meet with my son’s doctor in a couple weeks to discuss a revamp of his treatment plan, retest for new glasses and payment terms.  Terms I have no concept of how I will be able to meet right now.  We are alone in this.  There is no family to help, no funds from elsewhere, no doting grandparents with ample wallets, just whatever self-made outcomes John and I can produce.  We are two hard-working first-born, forging our way on our own.  He’s keeping us afloat on the bills we’re paying off.  I have to figure out the medical funds.  And I have to figure it out now.

Up until now, I’ve been a successful business owner largely via face-to-face sales and public speaking.  Not enough to be comfortable, but enough to help make ends meet, time and again.  Online, well that’s a different energy somehow.  I’m socially successful online, but have as of yet to make a financial dent equal to my physical face-to-face accomplishments.

So I guess it’s time to stop putting online business on the back burner to local shows.  It’s time to switch for a while from producing physical goods to creating an effective online network and plan.  It’s time to finally take full ownership of offering my services online and getting my voice heard.

All of it? In exchange for my children.  So I can have the schedule I need to see those doctors and seize those opportunities, and so I can have the income to pay for them.  I can’t be hesitant to market myself anymore.  And I can’t be worried about how others take that either.

I have a child’s vision to save, and I suppose as well… my own.

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“I’m Such A Genius…”


Son: “Mommy Look!”
Me: “What son?”
Son: “I’m such a genius, I created a robotic arm to pick my nose!”

O_o


Originally published on June 7, 2011 on Family Quirks

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A Mother’s Surreal Moment #5987…


This story originally published on “Family Quirks” on June 24, 2010…


So I go by Sprouts on the way to pick up the kids from school. (It’s kind of like a Trader Joe’s.) And they have these great crunchy Bavarian pretzels. Basically a larger gourmet size dehydrated pretzel.

So I pick up a bag of them and have it in the car to give some to the kids, because they are generally ravenous when I pick them up from school.

The kids get into the car, we’re heading down the road and they find out I have pretzels in the car.

“YAY! Those are my favorite!” my son quips.

And I start to feel the inner satisfaction a mother feels when she knows she got it right.

And then he goes on: “They have this interesting texture that when you break them makes the edges kind of rough. And when your lip itches from the salt, you can scratch your lip with the pretzel.”

…… :blink-blink: ……

Umm, gee – that was not at all what I expected to hear……!
My kid… go figure.

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Zombie Squad On Your Side


We were out and about in AZ on our family vacation when I saw this car next to us in Phoenix.  I busted out laughing and just had to share a pic!  Too cool, too cool! (Click on the photo to see it larger and up close!)

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My Owl – Keep Watch Tonight…


I spent a little time in KS with my brother, sister-in-law, nieces and nephew.  Their newborn, Lilly, was born by c-section, so we went up not just to visit, but to help.  There was plenty to do with three kids under school age in the house.  And dear Lilly’s sleep schedule hadn’t ironed out yet, as is par for the course.

Staying a week up there was a change of pace from home at the end of the school year and a joy to spend time fulfilling the role of “aunt.”  Over the last weekend of my visit I made a little owl amigurumi from a crochet magazine for my two-year old nephew.  I’d already been making flowers for my oldest niece and wanted to find a ball “recipe” I thought I saw in a magazine.  I was flipping through pages when my 5-year-old niece noticed the owl design.  “You know… Aunt Julia…” she said, drawn out with coy emphasis.  “I think you should make my brother an owl.  Maybe the little one….  (innocent pause)  Don’t you think?”  I looked at her with a barely veiled “is that so?” in my eyes.  And so it was that the simple ball toy for a boy that I was looking for became abandoned to a more involved ami owl.

I always bring yarn with me everywhere.  Trips especially.  I looked through all my bags and found enough navy blue yarn to complete the job.  “Ma’ owl,” my dear nephew kept saying as I crocheted, pointing to the photo in the magazine.  I worked on it all afternoon and on into the next day between chores and other activities.  Then on the second day, as the body was finally stuffed and starting to take form with the eyes sewn on, my nephew got real excited as he realized the owl was coming into being.  “Ma’ owl done?” he kept running up to ask as I sewed on each piece.  It seemed like every 5 minutes at this point.  “Not yet, still working on his feet/wing/beak,” I’d say each time.

Then finally the owl was complete and he was elated.  I managed to finish it right at his bed time, and he carried it around with him as he got ready.  “Owls are nocturnal,” his big sister said at one point.  Then referring to her new baby sister she piped up and said, “Maybe Lilly’s nocturnal!”  My sister-in-law and I shared a chuckle.

Then before they headed off to bed, my nephew put his new owl on the kitchen counter to keep watch.  Eyes on the fridge I guess – we’re not sure why.  The next night he had his owl sit on the banister outside his bedroom to keep watch.  I look forward to hearing more about where it roosts for the nights to come.

It’s a wondrous thing, to be able to create something special, while the kids watch, quick as a wink like that.  Wondrous indeed.

I’ll try to post which pattern this was when I find the magazine I used.  I don’t remember what it was or where I got it.

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Filed under crochet, Friends and Family

Home To Market We Go!


1005 East Austin Avenue.  I can’t believe how good the colors we picked for the outside paint job look! There is a rock wall in front and in back of the entire property.

Actually, the house has been on the market a few weeks now.  But per expectation, life and the craziness of this selling process, along with the end of the school year and details inherent, I haven’t had a chance to post about it yet.

As you probably know by now, I’ve been talking about getting our house on the market and sold for…  awhile now.  It’s taken us a long time.  And aside from John’s deployments and even my car accident when I lost the use of my hand for awhile, the whole process leading up to this final culmination has been one of the most important and emotional challenges in our family’s history.  It’s been a healing experience as well.  It’s also been a LOT of work and a lot of funds.  In fact, as we filled out the seller’s disclosure and had to provide all the receipts we could, it was both amazing and cathartic to realize that we have indeed sunk over $45,000 into this place in the name of major repairs and necessary upgrades while we’ve lived here.  That is, from what I could quantify and find the receipts for, as unfortunately a lot of my paperwork is all packed up.  Holy cow.  I knew we have spent and updated a lot.  I knew it felt like life was eating us up at times, but I did not have a clear number on the total picture until now.  No wonder… about a lot.

I made the pot rack the first year that John deployed.

The last year in particular has been a year of tears and more work than I thought I could survive at times.  A lot of it was about letting go. But we’re here – the house is officially finished, our clutter is gone. She’s staged, on the market and everything was done right.  The way I wanted.  As long as it took, we did it! No future owners will ever have the headaches we have had.  Everything is DONE.  There is nothing major left and the house looks great.  Can it be?  We did it!  

More red pine on the ceiling of the master bath. This room is large enough to be a master bedroom.

The house is not only beautiful, but she feels like a confident and graceful lady in her prime now.  I’m in love with my home again.

That said, no, I don’t love her enough to stay.  That’s not the kind of understanding we’ve had, this house and me.  She’s cared for us and we have cared for her.  But it’s time to set us all free.

Original wood floors. And we preserved this corner with the bead board wall.

She has no room for the studio I need, the workshop hubby needs, or the separate bedrooms and closets the kids need.  Besides that, the property is about to become part of the new residential historical district in our home town of Round Rock, TX.  (Bit of trivia: the very same town where the original 1974 flick “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was filmed.)

The rock wall that has served as a back drop for so many of my photos.

It will be an honor to receive the historical note, but it also means this house needs someone who will love her 1950’s bungalow style, the coming tax breaks the city will give and someone who will keep her well-loved and preserved.  And on a more personal level, someone to love and care for her very old, giant trees.  The old oak in the backyard alone is somewhere around 500-600 years old.  A majestic old tree and my children’s favorite.  Then the two old pecan trees, some of the largest in all of downtown.  (sigh)  Not to mention the old rock wall that surrounds the property.  The rock wall I photograph many of my hats in front of.  I will miss a lot of this place’s charm.

More tongue ‘n groove wood. The biggest hallway I’ve ever seen.

It won’t be emotionally easy to leave here.  This is where my kids have grown up.  All their memories are here.  Climbing trees, forts made in the rock wall, dirt they fought over, slides combined with kiddie pools, neighborhood cats, the cardinal families that eat at our back yard bird feeder, bringing new babies every year.  The butterflies that fill our backyard trees every spring, the dragon flies that fill our front yard every summer.  Even the kid on the back side of our lot who plays in a band while we take turns lazing in the hammock outside.  The giant hallway the kids played in, the living room large enough for two pianos and ten floor puzzles, the garden tub they pretended to swim in, that bathroom large enough to accommodate an XL changing table next to tub, sink and shower.  So many unique things this house offered us.  So many stories.

Yes, there are two pianos in this living room. It’s that big. Tongue ‘n groove red pine planks decorate the vaulted ceiling.

Our kids have worked hard on this place and left their mark too.  They helped pack, paint and fix and even know how to run a good bead of caulk now.  And before saying goodbye, they feel the need to share their home with their friends.  And provide a meaningful closure to a chapter ending.  JT has had his friends over for his recent birthday party.  My baby is now 13.  Now it’s time for Jessica’s birthday party.  My 15 year old.  It’s going to sound funny, but having this last birthday party gathering with our daughter’s friends is really important not just to her, but to all of us.  She wants “Thanksgiving Dinner” for her birthday and we will enjoy baking and smoking a turkey just for her.

I’m not sure exactly what to expect, or what the summer brings for us.  We got it all done, and now it’s a waiting game of finding the right buyer, someone who would consider living in the historical district of one of the most “recession proof” towns in the US.  Or so we hear.  I hope that timing will work out so that we can move before school starts.  Find that someone who will be so excited to live in an older home that has nothing left that it needs anymore, aside from the typical carpet allowance, though we’ve already replaced most of that.  The rest is waiting on my antique pianos to move, since it costs more to move them than to carpet the entire house.  When we first moved here, the house was so not up to speed that American Home Shield wouldn’t cover anything.  Now it will cover everything.

And there she is, on display, ready to be bought for a price. I never imagined our house could look so nice. It’s been a blessing to see it through the eyes of others.

Living here has big city convenience with a small town feel.  We live at the heart of the community, middle of everything, but far enough away from the busiest street.  Quiet neighborhood, pleasant sidewalk strolls, 5-star dining, local library, my favorite coffee shop, the city pool, the monthly Market Days shopping (and vending when I have a booth), the new Main Street Plaza Fountains and Round Rock Donuts just a few blocks away.  Kind of awesome when I slow down and really think about it.  I’ll miss living just down the road from those donuts on the weekends I crave them.  Not to mention the light walk each year for the free music, cookies, hot cocoa and bonfire at Round Rock Christmas Family Night.

What I do know is that as summer break is here, I’m going to soak it up.  Sure, I need to have things 24/7 “show ready.”  But we can do that.  Not a problem.  Not really.  Flylady style routines go far to keep us on track.  And true, most of my life is packed up into boxes now.  But I can enjoy this last bit of respite, a simplified life with my pretty, pretty house.

Both my attitude and life has become more reverent.  Knowing that something sacred is taking place and a life-altering transition awaits for us all.  Awakening at each moment, drinking in each picture, capturing each step, smell, and emotion in this place, like a movie in slow motion.

She’s happy now… brimming with excitement.  And so am I.

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Filed under Editorial, Friends and Family, Inspiration