This is not an unusual scene in my backyard:
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.
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:
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!
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.)
More to come!
(I’ve missed you.)
ThrillCam left Monday afternoon with a twin bed tied down in the back of his truck, headed to Houston to see our oldest son play baseball and give him a bed for his summertime apartment. It was a very quick trip, but required ThrillCam to spend the night.
Of course, with ThrillCam away for the night, it meant our youngest punk and I were given the opportunity to have a date night and share one of our most favorite foods: sushi!!
ThrillCam will go with me to eat sushi, but it’s not his favorite. My youngest son and I love the little raw fish wrapped in yummy sticky rice and dipped in soy sauce… So tasty…
(My oldest son and I share an intense love for boiled crawfish–also not a favorite of ThrillCam, nor my youngest. Do you have a special food you share with only one of your children or with a sibling/parent?)
Sushi, while yummy and often memorable, is not the point of this story.
As we were driving home, my son started playing Tom Jones’ It’s Not Unusual on his ipod!!
Check out those moves!!! (My parents both really liked Tom Jones, so it was a wonderful memory for me. Music can do that, you know?) (How many 14 year olds do you know who has Tom Jones in the music library?? My kid is a goofball, honestly.)
Again, though, Tom Jones is not the point of this story.
Well, actually, he sort of is, because his music was the start of an entirely unforgettable evening I had the privilege of sharing with my son.
You see, we had to get home to make 50 pancakes (and one GIGANTIC one)…
…for a school project due the next day.
Now, in order to keep this real, I must admit that sometimes in moments like this I am prone to feel a little resentful and grumpy. (He texts me about this project on Monday at 1pm and it’s due on Tuesday; his partner is not coming over to help, so it falls solely on us to provide the pancakes; he has no idea what making 50 pancakes entails–“Does mom have milk and eggs and pancake mix? Does mom even have time to make 50 pancakes? Oh! You mean I’m supposed to help cook them? Should I provide syrup and butter? How am I going to keep 50 pancakes cold until class so I don’t poison all my classmates? How are we going to warm up 50 pancakes so my friends will actually want to eat them? Maybe mom can bring 50 pancakes plus one gigantic one to me on Tuesday right before my class at 11:28 a.m.? I like turtles.”)
Tom Jones changed my attitude. He put me in a good mood. My son didn’t even realize the impact the playing of a now-funny song would set the tone and mood for the evening.
Then, he played another 70’s groove.
Once we got in the house, still laughing about the songs we just jammed to, I turned up the stereo and blasted him with a whole playlist of 70’s R&B Funk while we made pancakes.
(He was making a REALLY weird face, on purpose, for this picture…I didn’t think he wanted it plastered all over the interwebs, so I photoshopped it. All photos were taken with my iphone.)
We cooked and played songs like:
We flipped pancakes.
We mixed more pancake mix.
We Vine-d some of his dance moves. (Vine is a new social media app that uses video.)
We flipped more pancakes.
We danced more.
We laughed…a lot.
I know this sounds so weird, but I will live on this evening/memory for a very, very, very long time. My son really has no idea what the evening meant to me, even though I’ve hugged him and told him how much I enjoyed myself and his company.
My hips are sore, but my heart is full.
My homemade Mother’s Day card from my youngest.
First, I’m impressed with his drawing skillz.
Second, I absolutely love the quote he added:
“I say there is nothing greater than the mother of men.” –Walt Whitman (1855)
Finally, in his goofy, lovable way, he writes, “And you are a hardcore Mama! Happy Mother’s day and all that junk.”
So, after 20-plus years, my two Baylor roommates and I actually met for lunch and caught up. It was such a lovely and laughter-filled few hours. Marcy and I have gotten to see one another, occasionally, over the years, and Sally and I lived near one another about 15 years ago, so needless to say, it was much needed.
We’ve all changed a bit, which is okay.
While I long for my girlish figure of 20 years ago, I wouldn’t trade the years of good food, childbearing, and lack of exercise for anything. (Although, now, I’m paying for the good food and lack of exercise and having to strictly limit my food intake and move my body more….)
It’s all good.
And, boy was it good to see these great girls, again!!
(Maybe I can convince them to bring their families to a Baylor football game this Fall! Wouldn’t that be fun?!)
Here’s my latest project!
I’m really excited about how these turned out!
I wanted to practice a new lighting technique AND I knew I wanted to create large photobooth-like portraits for the wall along the stairs.
I also knew I wanted them to be sort of on the goofy side, because that can describe our family, often.
I think I accomplished all of the above!
I had to re-design and re-order my youngest’s set. (His is to the far right, on the floor–my husband and I didn’t really like the middle picture I chose originally.) The replacement is finally hanging up, but I have yet to take another picture of the wall, now that his is up.
I’ll try to remember to do so soon.
I’m going to offer this idea for families and high school Seniors in my photography business!! I can’t wait!!
Central Texas has gotten a decent amount of rain over the last week or so.
This area has benefitted from the awful storm systems that ripped through Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas, as of late.
The day after Moore was hit, my area was under a tornado watch all day; that same system was creating unstable weather all the way down into Texas.
I’m already kind of antsy when tornado is mentioned, but my senses were heightened due to the devastation in Moore. Thankfully, we got nothing more than a good downpour.
Of course, I am thankful for the rain, because the tanks and rivers really needed the water, but, boy, if I could turn back time, I would….
Please join me in continuing to pray for Oklahoma, Grandbury, and of course, West. All of the folks effected by the weather and the explosion will be coping for months to come.
Because of the good rainfall, the grass has grown a ton in a week!
Hence, everyone was out manicuring their lawns and pastures.
Our neighbor was out:
ThrillCam was out.
I even hopped on the riding lawnmower to help out.
Here was my partner, while I mowed the yard:
He follows me–no, actually, he leads the way–always.
Or, at least, he tries to lead.
The dog tries, desperately, to predict where I will go next, and runs ahead, only to look back and see I’ve turned a corner or made a circle. So then he must adjust and run back, get ahead, and once again, predict my next move. This goes on for the entire hour or so I’m mowing (or walking, or driving down to the river, or going to the kitchen to get a glass of water, or, or, or….)
If it wears me out just watching him, it must be exhausting for him!
More on Bear in the next day or two.
(I’m telling you, my dog is certifiable.)
Oh, how I love my dog.
Happy Monday, all!
May I just say, it’s quite hard to type while licking icing off your fingers?
You see, on this cold and blustery morning (it’s late April–what’s up with that!?!), I invited some neighbors over for coffee and some scrumptious goodies to gab by.
About 6 months ago, we moved to a completely new area of Texas, one that we were familiar with, but one where we didn’t really know anyone. So, we’ve had to very intentional about meeting and making friends. With that in mind, I have occasionally invited over some of the neighborhood girls for coffee. I absolutely love the time we spend together–we laugh a lot, which is good for the soul. And, we, of course, eat a lot.
Well, not all of us. Just me. I eat a lot.
Anyway, I thought I’d pass along the recipes I made this morning. I figure, this way, if you have these easy recipes, you too, might invite some neighbors over for coffee (and goodies).
It makes the world a better place…or at least your neighborhood a better place, no?
This first recipe is not really a recipe. It’s just cooking an already prepared item in a new way. (This is why I still have icing under my fingernails.)
Cinnamon Roll Waffles!
Just place one or two cinnamon rolls (store bought pop-open-the-can cinnamon rolls–you know, like Pillsbury) into a greased waffle iron, close the lid, and press down. Once they’ve reached the crispy edged done-ness you desire, place them on a plate and squeeze on the icing!
(If you don’t have enough icing from the can, just stir together about 1/2 C. powdered sugar and 1-2 T. milk–or heavy cream–and a pinch of salt. You want the icing to be thick.)
By the way, your kids will love this new presentation of a cinnamon roll!
I also whipped up a batch of Orange Juliusessssss. (How do you pluralize Orange Julius…esesesessss??)
(Can you tell I snapped all these pictures with my phone-camera? blech!)
Add 1 Can frozen OJ (12 oz.) to a blender, along with 1 OJ can of milk, 1 T. sugar and 1 T. vanilla. Blend away! (Add ice cubes, if desired.)
It’s good for what ails the soul.
Or for a nasty cold.
Or for neighbor friends.
Or just because.
Lastly, I made Eggs Benedict Casserole.
So, creamy and delicious. It’s one of those make-the-night-before-breakfast-casseroles that definitely fits the bill.
It had me at hello.
It hits the spot.
It scratches that itch.
It completes me.
The hardest (not really hard, but step-intensive??, if that) part was making the hollandaise sauce. Not a big deal, I promise. Just have your hand mixer near your microwave, so you can easily beat the sauce between heatings in the microwave.(The recipe I used calls for a hand mixer and the microwave. Most of the other recipes online have you whisk it over a simmering pan of water. I suggest you compare the recipes and decide which you think is easier for you and then go for it.)
I have all of these recipes on my Pinterest breakfast board. Check them out!
Now, make your grocery list and text or call a couple of neighbors, including one or two you don’t know well, and invite them over for coffee.
Don’t make a fuss. Just keep it real and casual.
Deepen those relationships!
Oh, and eat some good food!!
Mornings and evenings usually begin with ThrillCam and me sitting out on our back patio: me drinking my coffee, him staring at his Purple Martins, us listening to the water trickle down the pool’s waterfall.
It’s a beautiful beginning and ending to our days.
During these times, we are finding ourselves more and more intrigued by all the different birds that fly around our house. We have a ton of beautiful red Cardinals, some Blue Jays, Mockingbirds, Finches, Sparrows, Doves, Hummingbirds and even Road Runners!
Bird watching, to be honest, has never been my thing. I mean, I like them and all…
I love Mockingbirds (the state bird of Texas!), especially, for their constantly changing chirps and songs.
I love Road Runners, thanks to Warner Bros. cartoons. (“Beep. Beep. Zip-tang!”) (Please tell me you get that reference. Please.)
Oh! And, I love doves, because they are so tasty.
(Sort of. Okay. Not really. They are pretty, lovely birds to look at, but they are also pretty and lovely to eat.)
In the past, for me to sit and watch, and really notice birds?…not so much.
Thankfully, all that has changed.
Last week, we found our peaceful mornings disrupted by some bold and pesky little birds.
A set of Barn Swallows (or Chimney Sweeps, as I grew up calling them) were attempting to build nests under my office porch.
They’re pretty little birds, aren’t they?
They are part of the Swallow family (same family as the Purple Martins) and they do a good job of eating bugs.
So, why aren’t we helping them out, like we’ve helped the Purple Martins?
The problem is, Chimney Sweeps build mud nests DIRECTLY onto the side of the house. Not only that, but they are messy little critters.
I felt bad shooing them away, because they are so darn cute and beneficial, but I knew I did not want them living ON my house.
We noticed one spot, in particular, where they were returning to time after time. In fact, we could be standing there, directly under the porch where they were trying to nest, and those birds would literally dive-bomb us!
We had to figure out a way to thwart their efforts.
We tried attaching foil to the little ledge, but the foil blew off.
We tried knocking off the mud and grass the birds brought in, but they just returned to rebuild.
We were becoming nearly as obsessive about these little birds as our Purple Martins, but not in a warm, fuzzy way.
Finally, ThrillCam did this:
Pretty smart, huh?
The CDs move in the wind and reflect light and scare the little squatters away! (And, so far, no one has noticed the CDs up there since they are sort of hidden from view.)
I thought it was brilliant!
I’m looking back at some of the highlights of the past few months, especially because I did so little blogging during that time, and a lot happened.
I didn’t carry my DSLR around as much as usual, so I relied on my phone to document our family’s events. (Of course, if you follow me on Instagram, these photos are repeats, for the most part. Sorry.)
So, in Part One, I took you through the summer, culminating with our move from the Houston area to the Waco area.
One of the first things we did was move our oldest into his dorm at college.
(There are no words to describe how much I miss this punk being around on a daily basis.)
After we got him moved into the dorm, we headed back out to the middle of nowhere to hang out for the next 6 weeks with my sister, who lives in the same house where I grew up.
We weren’t able to move into our new house, immediately, so in order to get our youngest started in school we had to live with my sister. We drove him 45 minutes, both ways, every day, to and from school. I wouldn’t have wanted to do that for much longer, but it was fine while it lasted.
While living out in the boonies, ThrillCam took our youngest dove hunting one weekend. In the shot above, he’s showing our son how to clean the dove he shot.
(I know I took pictures of the bacon-wrapped doves we grilled after their hunt, but I can’t find them. Probably a good thing. It would make us all hungry, and I’m trying to lose weight, so no need putting you or me through that agony.)
Of course, one of the many benefits of moving to Central Texas is the close proximity to ThrillCam’s and my alma mater, Baylor University.
You know, if you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, I bleed green and gold. And, during this particular time in the university’s life, it is very, very exciting to be a Baylor Bear! I have ALWAYS, ALWAYS supported my Bears, through thick and thin, but I must say, it is quite fun, especially when it comes to athletics.
(Here’s one of the many reasons being a Baylor Bear is so fun! Our Heisman Trophy winner, RGIII:)
But, Baylor football wasn’t the only scene in town.
Our youngest put on the pads and played hard.
Last year, in 7th grade, the kid was an offensive lineman. He was tall and sort of on the chunky side. (Aren’t we all? …No? …We’re not? …It’s just me? …Shoot.)
After that football season, though, his entire body went through a complete metamorphosis. He dropped a ton of weight and slimmed up so much.
I think he grew 35 feet, too. …Give or take a few.
He could no longer play on the line.
Instead, he played Tight End on offense and Outside Linebacker on defense.
Below was one of my favorite shots during football season. I just loved the lights on either side and the team in the middle. And the sky’s colors…dreamy.
In the meantime, our oldest son discovered a local wake boarding cable park. I’d never heard of such a thing, but leave it to my thrill-seeking boy to find it.
You grab hold of a handle and the cable pulls you around the lake, while you
hang on for dear life wakeboard. There are jumps and ramps and such all the way around the lake. It’s honestly way cool!
I’ll try to remember to blog about it more, soon.
At the end of September, our family made its way back down to League City to have one last celebration with our church family. They held a lovely reception for us.
Oh, how my heart aches for these folks.
In October, we had some of our first visitors! Our youngest’s best buddy and his mom (one of my best buddies) made the 4-hour trek to hang out for a while.
November brought a number of visitors. Which meant I had to scramble to unpack most everything and finally get the house in order!
First, I hosted a small reunion for my childhood summer camp friends. (Which tribe do you think I belong to?) (Answer: the winningest tribe, of course!) (I’ve now made my Huaco friends angry…again.)
Then, the very next week was Thanksgiving and we hosted ThrillCam’s family for a few days.
ThrillCam and the boys went deer hunting in December, right before Christmas, and they got 2 deer each.
(I should take a picture of our freezer, right now. It is packed!–we eat all that my boys/husband hunts. We are eating the healthiest we’ve probably ever eaten, thanks to all the venison; it’s lean and hormone-free.)
I was going to end there, but for those of you who might get a little squeamish at the sight of blood (sorry), I figured I should end with something else.
Something festive and pretty.
There. No one gets squeamish over Christmas presents, right?
After I rushed to get everything into its place, in the new house, I turned right around and moved it all to decorate for Christmas. I felt like I was in a perpetual move.
Our December was busy and fun, so I’ll save that for tomorrow or the next day.
Then, for the most part, we’ll be caught up on the past 6 months or so.