Category: Family

Hammock-ing.

This is not an unusual scene in my backyard:

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You might get the idea that we are big campers.

Not that we aren’t, but we aren’t.

(I can’t tell you the last time we went camping, which is actually sort of sad.)

We aren’t opposed to camping, it just hasn’t happened recently. Life is busy, y’all.

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If you have teenagers, especially teenagers who have older siblings who go to college or teenagers who have attended summer camps where college students work, you may look out your back door and see the very same thing.

(Actually, if you have college students, you are more likely to see this around their college campus. I see hammocks, occasionally, on the Baylor campus, and I know it’s happening on college campuses all over the nation.)

(I would have LOVED to have a hammock, at college, to lie in while studying!)

(That statement assumes I actually studied.)

(Admittedly, I DID have a hammock in my apartment bedroom during my Junior year at Baylor. It was just for looks, though; it held my stuffed animals and Beenie Babies.)

(Remember Beenie Babies?!)

The hammock is called an Eno, short for Eagles Nest Outfitters. They are fantastically light-weight, small and quite comfy. Both of our sons love theirs.

Obviously, our youngest loves his enough to use his around the house, during non-camping days and weeks.

Sometimes, it’s even strung up directly on the back porch…so he can see the tv.

(I wish I had a picture of it; pure laziness and comfort at its best.)

iPhone pic of our son and a couple of his good friends, last Spring:

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The kids are even prone to stacking the hammocks, so they hang directly above and below each other!

My youngest and I recently had a conversation concerning Prom: he said he thinks it would be WAY more fun for his group of friends to get all dressed up, take pictures, go eat at a fancy restaurant, then, instead of going to the actual Prom, they should come back to our house, change clothes, go build a fire down by the river and spend the night in Enos.

(with adult chaperones, of course!) 

Enos and S’mores! How fun is that?!

Doesn’t his “non-Prom” idea sound fantastic?!

So, if you are in need of an unusual and uber cool gift for your teenaged (or college-aged) son or daughter (yes, many of our sons’ girl friends own and love them!), you might look into getting them a hammock.

(I’m all for a gift that moves them outside and up into the trees!)

Happy Hammock-ing, y’all!

E.

Texas! The Musical

(This post was written TWO summers ago and for some odd reason I never posted it.  What’s good about me posting this now is, you have time to make some summer plans! So…here you go, y’all!)

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Ha! Bless the sweet Greeter’s heart, he tried a couple times and just could not get the family in focus!

Oh well.

(I guess that could be said of us on many levels…)

No matter, our main focus, during a recent vacation, was a side trip to the Texas Panhandle to see Texas! The Outdoor Musical!

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Our oldest son had to finish up his summer baseball season, so he was unable to join us on the first leg of our vacation, so ThrillCam and I loaded up our youngest and started the drive toward Montana, with an intentional stop in Amarillo. We told our youngest that if he really wants to consider himself a true Texan, then he needed to see Texas!

Texas! Outdoor Musical, is performed, every summer, in the beautiful Pioneer Amphitheater, nestled in the basin of the Palo Duro Canyon (which is amazing  and entertaining, all by itself).

Sidenote: Palo Duro Canyon suddenly appears out of nowhere and drops down into the earth, revealing beautiful reds, browns and greens. (see above picture) Did you know, Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the United States?

(We’d love to go back and spend time there hiking and camping for a few days.)

We planned out our whole route, with a couple stops along the way, obviously, including an extra night just to see the musical.

(As we left town, we stopped here: another Texas must!)

The musical is about…you guessed it…Texas. It’s a little bit of history and a whole lot of entertainment.

Yes, the show is sort of cheesy at times.

Yes, it’s even occasionally corny.

(Would that be cheesy-corny?)

But, by golly, you learn a little Texas history while being entertained.

(And who doesn’t want to learn more about Texas?!)

And, because we drove straight there, we opted to eat dinner, on the grounds, before seeing the show. (Your ticket can include dinner, if you’d like. Click on the first link above and you can see the ticket prices. The earlier you make your plans, the better!)

 

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I’m not going to lie and say it was the best BBQ in town, but it certainly wasn’t awful!

While waiting to be seated, we milled around outside the amphitheater where we noticed a huge map of the world. Folks could purchase a pin and show where they traveled from to see the show. There were numerous people from almost every country of the world. (Shown are the pins from just around the Waco area.)

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The stage is set, literally, in the cliffs of Palo Duro Canyon. As the sun sets, the special effects become a little more impressive and way fun for the kids.

(I may not remember any of the songs and dances, but I can still remember, as a young kid, seeing the Lone Horseman atop the cliff.)

(Oh! And, the lightning strike!)

(You just have to go to know what I’m talking about!)

No cameras are allowed during the show (that means phone cameras, y’all!), so I don’t have pictures of the set or the actors/dancers, but I can tell you, the colorful costumes are wonderful, the characters are sweet and funny, and the songs will make you tap your toes. It’s, honestly, not a bad way to spend a few hours.

TIP: When selecting tickets, don’t sit at the VERY front. Choose more toward the center middle to center upper-middle, so you can see the stage and cliffs fully. The place will fill up, so order tickets early for best seating choices.)

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Honestly, if you plan to visit the Texas panhandle (or just visit the state), this is a fun event for the whole family! There’s singing, dancing, decent BBQ, a few variety acts before the actual show. Of course, all of this while you sit under the great and vast Texas sky.

(“The stars at night…Are big and bright!”)

(clap, clap, clap)

(“Deep in the Heart of Texas!”)

If you’re a native Texan like me (6th generation, y’all!), I’ll tell you, like I told my son, you can’t truly call yourself a Texan until you’ve seen this show.

E.

Bringin’ Down da House.

This is the house my parents built.

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It’s where I grew up.

The above picture was taken in the early 70’s, before any landscaping, or tanks (ponds), or fences, etc.

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This one, above, was taken in the 80’s, back when we had a white van that was perfect for driving lots of family members to away Baylor football games.

Do you see all the cracks on the outer surface of the stucco? Shifting ground and a poor foundation made for many cracks and repairs over the years…something my parents never were able to properly remedy.

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Many wonderful memories are held in the walls of that house. It was my home from 2nd grade through high school.

It was where I brought my boys to see their grandparents, to breathe clean air and run with abandonment…to view a lot less concrete.

Fast forward past many years of shifting ground, lots of foundation repairs, and the deaths of both of my parents and what you get is a house that should no longer be standing.

Believe me when I say, it needed to come down.

So, this past Fall, my sister, husband and I had been working, feverishly, for 4-6 weeks, cleaning out 50-plus years of memories, of stuff.

Oh, the stuff.

Example:

My childhood bedroom had not changed in decades! Cheerleader uniforms, camp t-shirts, dried Homecoming mums, scrapbooks, music theory medals, old love letters, college notebooks and projects…all still in my bedroom…all in exactly the same place I had put them, so many years ago. I could walk into that room and be instantly thrown back in time…1970…1982…1989….Hours could pass as I reminisced, sorting through the wonderful memories.

Now, my stuff, along with all of my parents’ stuff and all of my sister’s stuff had to find a new home, whether that meant my house, my sister’s house, the dump, or Caritas (a local donation and distribution center).

(We tried to donate as much as we could, but some things just weren’t good enough to pass off as “gently used.”)

(People who are in need of your used stuff deserve good used stuff, not crappy used stuff, in my opinion.)

By the time we were done purging, we were utterly sick of the house.

We were worn out…emotionally and physically.

We had been making important decisions about where things should go, daily, for weeks on end, and our brains and bodies were exhausted.

So, as the day approached for the demolition to begin, we rejoiced. It was time, by golly!

Good riddance, old, dirty, falling apart house!

Then.

The day arrived.

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It was a nice, cool morning. The sun was shining. I had my camera. Our friends brought kolaches and fried pies.

It was a house demolition PAR-TAY!

My sister and I even posed in front of the house for a picture to commemorate the day. We were smiling and laughing.

Just as the excavator revved its engine, my sister and I moved away from the house and took our appointed positions to get the best videos and photographs.

We were ready.

Surprisingly, though, for me, the first swing and crunch of the claw into the stucco, wood and glass was like a punch in the stomach.

I was not as prepared for this as I thought.

In less than five minutes, my parents’ bedroom was gone from the house.

Gone.

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Surreal is a good word.

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While I know a house does not make a home and a building is only temporary, watching it being destroyed so seemingly carelessly, no, violently! was upsetting.

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I wonder if this is how someone feels when they lose their house to a fire or a hurricane?

Even though we got all our stuff out of the house, it still hurt to watch it disappear before our eyes.

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Isn’t that crazy? There was a whole house there!

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And, the left-over pile consisted of small, relatively tiny parts when it was all said and done.

Eventually, the bulldozer, and skid-steer, began the process of removing the rubble.

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So fast…

It’s amazing to think that something that took months to design and build, years to make and hold memories, took mere minutes to destroy.

 

(There’s a life lesson in that, y’all…how precious the things and people we spend time building up, can so quickly and easily be torn down…and it doesn’t take a bulldozer…just an untamed tongue wielding words and anger…)

 

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Now, the space is cleared and wide open.

Empty.

As if nothing was ever there.

Again, surreal.

Yet, there was something there.

It was a home.

A home full of love, dysfunction, dinners around the table, arguments, important decision making, tears, laughter.

…imperfect people who called themselves family trying as hard as they could to do the very best they could.

…and many good, good memories.

Goodbye big house, with the red roof, on the hill.

You were well loved.

E.

 

 

 

Hello, friend.

Has it been nearly two years??

A lot has happened in those two years…mainly adjusting to country life is what has happened.

And, loving on and serving with our neighbors.

And, watching a ton of Baylor football (and basketball).

And, purchasing some cows.

And a donkey.

And, planting a garden (or two).

And, watching our oldest change colleges and majors…and join the wake boarding team.

And, cheering on our youngest in high school football…and soon, soccer.

I’ve missed occasionally writing and photographing the happenings around our family, so I’m hoping 2015 will be the year I get back in the habit…if you’ll have me back in your email box and on your FB newsfeed, that is.

Because we are wrapping up the last little bit of 2014 (say it ain’t so!!), I thought I’d throw out a couple of pictures of what I mentioned above. A lot of the pictures were taken with my iphone…”the best camera you own is the one you are presently carrying…”and I carried my phone WAY more than my “big boy” Canon camera. (That’s another habit I hope to change in 2015.)

Some happenings in 2014!

Some happenings in 2014!

More to come!

(I’ve missed you.)

E.

Around the Table

When we moved to League City, south of Houston, in 2007, we planted a church. It was just a little different from most churches where we had served in the past.

But, it was a good different.

We tried to take the good from the past and chuck the ineffective/not-so-great, and planted a church, designed on the church in Acts, in the Bible.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common.  They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47

Not every idea worked perfectly, and our church, which is still in existence, even though we had to move, is still trying to get it right. (Aren’t most churches trying to get it right? We are a group of flawed humans, after all.)

But, through all of it, we felt (and still feel) God’s hand of favor was and is upon that little church.

One of the things we did a little different was to have weekly local neighborhood gatherings. (A couple different families would host in their own neighborhoods, getting to know their neighbors.)

There was ALWAYS food involved!

(And, you know how I love me some food!)

Long story, short, we would meet at our house, or at our neighbor’s house, bring a pot-luck meal, and while eating, we would share our lives. The highs and lows of the week. The kids were included in the conversation, as well. It was important for them to hear and be heard.

We invited other neighbors and we shared meals with them. It was not designed to be exclusive in any way, shape, or form.

But, it was bigger than just a supper club.

We served our neighbors together.

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We played together.  (That link is only one of the many Hunks vs Punks posts I’ve written about…do a search for Hunks vs Punks, and you can read them all!)

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(Not only did we play football together, we went to football games together…)

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(I actually DO know the lady at the bottom right; I just didn’t when I took that picture. She’s probably still talking to her neighbor because he’s probably still texting…)

We prayed together and even baptized together…

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And, of course, we ate together.

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It was a beautiful thing.

ThrillCam and I will forever be changed, for the better, because of our neighborhood Table Group.

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(photo credit to Jeremy Knight)

So, guess what?

We are trying it, again, with our new neighbors!

We had a group of 4 families over, on Tuesday night (no, I didn’t take pictures…yet!).

We threw out the vision.

We’ll see what happens.

Either way, whether we meet weekly and eat together, or not, I’m excited to see where God takes us, as a neighborhood.

Because, I KNOW how lives can be impacted and changed just by reaching out and loving one another…doing life together.

E.

It is finally here…

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Third grade.

Baylor Homecoming Parade.

Keds.

Big gold buttons.

Gold turtleneck.

Polyester.

SIC EM BEARS! SIC EM BEARS! SIC EM BEARS!  over every inch of my suit.

My most favorite outfit. …Ever.

College football has begun.

Amen.

E.

College Bound…Again.

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Welp. Off he goes again.

This time, to move into an apartment, on campus, for his Sophomore year.

Unlike a lung that can regenerate after injury, my heart is, once again, damaged beyond repair–a tiny sliver is ripped away each time he leaves, and what is left is ragged and stringy. Unrepairable.

Don’t get me wrong.

I am so truly excited for him each time he leaves for a new experience; whether it was Kindergarden, summer camp, middle school, high school, summer baseball, and once again, college. It means he’s growing up and becoming the man God has designed him to be. He NEEDS to be away from me and his dad. It’s required.

Otherwise, he stalls out and remains dependent on us, not on the Lord. He doesn’t truly develop and grow, mature.

But, I must admit, each step my son takes toward a clean get-away, toward his complete independence, seems like miles to this mama.

And, I can’t seem to run fast enough to catch him.

I love you, J. Have a FANTASTIC year!! Come back to visit your old mama! 

E.

P.S. I have a number of friends who have just moved their kids into their new dorm rooms for the first time. I saw this article on FB, today, and thought I’d pass it along. It speaks to all parents who are sending their babies off to college, or on to a new adventure. Read: Washington Post article.