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Monday, August 24, 2015

School Days

Maddie and Jordann had their first day of the 2015-2016 school year last week. Now in 4th grade and 2nd grade, they headed back to school in uniforms, with book bag and back pack. Skye started her 7th grade year today. And Lauren is back in her college classes next week. I love this time of year. In our part of Texas, the temperatures are still too hot to think that Fall is almost here, but there are cues beyond the heat and the calendar page. Change is in the air. Back to school means schedule changes for everyone. Our church Wednesday night suppers begin again. Family music time and youth gatherings and handbell rehearsals get back into a rhythm and time is more structured.  I love the lazier days of summer, but there is something so satisfying about getting back into a familiar routine. There are new shoes, new clothes, new books, new projects, new teachers, and new friends. And even for those of us who don't start back to school, the beat changes. Think crisp mornings, leaves turning, pumpkins sprouting everywhere, caramel apples, and the fragrance of cinnamon.

When I was in the second grade, I was in a play called School Days.  I had a red checked dress and our group sang "School days, school days, dear old Golden Rule Days. Reading and writing, and 'rithmetic, taught to the tune of a hick'ry stick."  Hickory sticks are long gone, arithmetic an exercise in mathematics that is a puzzle to me,  reading and writing  may be done with computers and tablets. But school days are back and I am glad!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


One of Nora's first and favorite words is "shoes!"  Pronounced with a special lilt and emphasis! Whether it is used as she looks for her own little pink Nikes, or carries her Daddy's heavy shoe around, it is obvious she loves shoes.  This week I watched as she took her own shoes off and tried again and again to put on my sandals and walk.  I laughed with her as she tried, but my thoughts about the scene lasted for a long time after our giggles. It is a great privilege and a great responsibility to think about her wearing my shoes or following my footsteps.  It is serious business, being a grandmother.

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!


Saturday, July 25, 2015


Three of our granddaughters worked on learning to sew in the past 2 weeks.  Our niece came with her granddaughter to help them, so we had sewing camp!  Maddie and Skye have their own sewing machines, and Jordann practiced her handwork.  I am proud of them for working on a skill that will serve them well.  I think of the many hours I have spent at my own Singer, starting when I was near their age. Mother bought a new sewing machine that came with free lessons which she didn't need since she had been sewing for years.  I was only 8, but she had me take the sewing lessons.  I made a dress and jacket and modeled it in the "fashion" show with other students. As years went by, I sewed many of my own clothes, including my wedding dress and some clothing for Joe and the boys when they were very young. I sewed crib quilts and dresses for our granddaughters.  I would not have done this without the encouragement and example of my mother, great-grandmother to these girls.  I think she is proud, too!

Friday, July 17, 2015


Maddie and Jordann have come to stay with us for a couple of weeks. This week is our church's annual Vacation Bible School, so for the first 4 days of their visit, we went off every morning for VBS fun. Skye is old enough this year to be a volunteer worker along with other youth at First Baptist Church Richmond. Maddie's T shirt was too big, so Skye helped her to make it more fun to wear. She wore it every day, even washing it herself in the evening. They joined nearly 100 other children and even though they don't live here and did not know people in their groups, they made new friends and new memories. This makes me remember all my years growing up and doing this in the summertime. I loved VBS, and every summer I went to the one our local church had, went again with my best friend to her church's VBS, and later went to stay with my grandmother to go to another week of learning Bible stories, singing, and enjoying snacks, games, and crafts.  When I was in college, I spent 2 summers doing work with the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board in California and Arizona and helped with many different VBS weeks in Salinas, CA and Yuma, AZ.  The music may have changed, the crafts are more creative, and the snacks more healthy than Kool-Aid and cookies, but the well loved stories are the same. Smiles and memories continue!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Gardening Joy

The "Rachel and Jacob" wind chime

For many years, Joe and I have helped with our church's annual Christmas presentation which varies every year.  For a long time, we played the part of innkeepers in the Christmas story and were given the names Rachel and Jacob.  Several years ago I gave Joe this big wind chime which I named after the innkeepers.  I love its deep tones and the way the slightest breeze makes its music part of our garden. We have other smaller chimes, but this one is very special.  Yesterday our youngest granddaughter Nora was here to help us enjoy it!