My Beautiful Family

I know everyone thinks their loved ones are beautiful.  We all can find beauty in anyone or in anything we choose.  As expressed before, I am a hopeless romantic.  I believe in soul mates and also love at first sight.  I believe in true love and also in lasting love. I am not sure everyone, for whatever reason, is always lucky enough to find all or any of those things.  Or, if they do, it might not be the “right” time.  It may have taken me a long time but I was finally lucky enough to have found my love.  I can still remember seeing him walk into that restaurant where we met over twelve years ago.  I think my husband is the most handsome man I have ever laid eyes on.  He is tall, slender, smart, witty, has an incredible head of thick hair, full lips, deep, dark eyes, and dimples which, when combined with everything else, I find too much to resist.  He also has the finest speaking voice I have ever had the pleasure of hearing.  If all that weren’t enough, he wanted to marry ME.  And that stunning little girl sitting on his lap is all ours.  They say good things come to those who wait.  The father of natural history in Britain and Anglican priest John Ray once said, “Beauty is power; a smile its sword.”  I can say that these two have effortlessly and forever conquered my heart with their smiles — my beautiful family.


Our Family Walks

Things have really changed for us now that our little one is no longer in a stroller.  Our walks may take us longer but it feels way more participatory for us as a whole family.  We are blessed to live in one of the prettiest places in the city, surrounded by huge trees and a creek where we are able to enjoy all sorts of wildlife.  If we have time to do the “full loop” it is almost three miles.  (We essentially make a giant ellipses around the creek regardless.)  Our five year old walks our Shih Tzu Chin Chin, I walk our girl wolf hybrid Cheyenne (a little over 70 pounds) and my husband takes our biggest baby, her woflie brother Dakota, who weighs a little over 90 pounds.  On days when the weather does not permit we just take the “short loop.”  Pictured here is our beautiful early turning point, a bridge over the creek about a mile away.  I find the bridge, the creek, and the trees enchanting in any season.  But the true beauty lies in being out with our animals and each other.  Sometimes we’ll talk about the day or what we’d like to do coming up and sometimes we simply walk in silence and take in the always tranquil sights, sounds, and smells of Mother Nature.  And she never fails to disappoint.  I would say our walks and meals are the two most important times we have together on a regular basis as a family.  I realize as I write it is also the only time no electronic devices are allowed (except my Apple Watch to know if whether or not I’ve gotten any exercise.)  I look back and cannot believe I felt sorry for myself because I had never had a TV dinner until college!  My mother cooked every meal from scratch, and Daddy always appreciated it.  I took it for granted.  The only walking I did with my family was at the State Fair or Six Flags, but it was always a special time.  It takes a concerted effort to carve out and hold open that time and I often fail.  But each day I resolve to do better.  The American essayist Henry David Throreau once said:

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind.  To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again.  To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”

I hope and pray our family time will carve a deep path into all of us, just as the time I had with my parents did with me.  My father so often said that time was the one thing he could not replace.  I wish for our time to be spent loving, learning, and listening to each other over shared meals and our family walks.


Out By The Grill

I know many people are serious about their grills.  I’ve seen the monster stainless gas ones that are very expensive.  One of the things I have always loved about my husband is that he is not a snob.  I am particular about grills in my own way; I prefer charcoal.  My father taught me how to make the most delicious potatoes by burying them in the hot coals.  He said it was even better when they were in the ground.  So many Native ways seem to be becoming forgotten.  What he knew I want to pass on.  He taught me to ALWAYS grill corn in their own husks and I can still see his huge, red hands cutting the kernels off with a knife.  It was perfection.  Truly, no salt or butter was needed.  Since we have gotten our fence the workers inadvertently moved our grill to a much better spot.  This led to me wanting to fire it up and enjoy its new location.  I am always amazed by how just the placement of something can be so important.  It can either free up space, become more functional, or simply look better in its new place.  I would like to think our little grill qualifies for all three.  The American chef Bobby Flay said, “It is very important that when you put something on the grill, you leave it in place to cook.  If you move it around too quickly, chances are it is going to stick.”  My father taught me so much.  He taught me about patience and the value of waiting.  He taught me to trust my instincts.  He taught me to respect fire, not waste, and to savor the smell of being out by the grill.


The Right Balance

Yesterday we ate with family and stayed out way later than normal for our little one.  She was a party girl and kept up with everybody.  I know some parents never deviate from a child’s routine.  But my feeling is hey it’s summer and she’s five.  I think a kid should be able to live it up a little and have some ice cream past their bedtime in the summer.  Now, once school starts all bets are off.  She will be going to bed early and we will already be prepared for the next day; no exceptions.  My father was the one who instilled a strict sense of discipline in me with regard to learning and it has stayed with me into my adulthood.  Our little one will be starting kindergarten so her foundation starts now.  And I want to do my best to ensure it is a happy and strong one.  I had a security of knowing church was on Sunday, school was Monday through Friday, and Saturday was devoted to the roller rink.  So while I very much had structure, I was also exposed to many different things by my parents, who were lovers of music, art, and history.  The American supermodel Christy Turlington said, “When you are balanced and when you listen and attend to the needs of your body, mind, and spirit, your natural beauty comes out.”  My baby doll certainly has a natural beauty; I just hope to provide her the with the right balance.



There is a place in our neighborhood which cannot be found anywhere else in the city of Dallas.  It is an unusual hang out where kids can play in a giant sandlot that is completely enclosed and even dogs have their own spot away from screaming little humans.  For those who prefer neither children nor dogs, they have the “civilized” section right in the middle as well as the option of dining/drinking either indoors or out.  With the exception of the dog days of summer (no pun intended) it is absolute heaven.  Their food, in my opinion, far surpasses typical “bar fare” and their huevos rancheros give New Mexico a run for their money.  What I love most is there is a true place for everyone where all are able to go and relax.  If you don’t want to eat next to Fido, don’t.  If you don’t want to hear kiddos shrieking in the sand, don’t.  Recently a local Facebook page published something I found hilarious.  It was an actual picture of a woman who had her toddler on a leash but her dog was not.  There is, sadly, another restaurant in the area where children have been allowed to run amok.  And I mean out of control to the point where a multi-tiered fountain had to be made into a planter.  I’m telling you my father would have taken me out and beaten me for even thinking about some of the things these kids have been allowed to get away with.  I am an older mother, so prior to having a baby I think people assumed I was just a crazy animal lover and/or child hater.  I AM in fact a crazy animal lover but I always wanted to have my own child.  There seems to be a growing trend toward children running the proverbial show.  Mine knows we will simply pack up IMMEDIATELY if she ever starts something like that.  And yes, once we had to leave our favorite Tex-Mex place because, at one and a half, I had let her drink five bowls of salsa straight and thought perhaps I should cut her off.  I remember she was so enraged the soft spot on her head was pulsing.  Have I ever been guilty of letting my little one have an iPad at a restaurant?  Yes … but only to enjoy that second margarita.  *grinning*  Stepping out of the confessional and back onto my high horse I will say I pride myself on our family enjoying an actual conversation during most of dinner.  Whenever I see a kid in a restaurant watching a movie with their headphones on I feel like they should be in an airplane.  When I was a child I was expected to just SIT there and behave.  However, I don’t mind our little one bringing her My Little Ponies with her so she can quietly entertain herself after she is done eating.  The British writer Tom Hodgkinson said:

“Festivals are fun for kids, fun for parents and offer a welcome break from the stresses of the nuclear family.  The sheer quantities of people make life easier:  loads of adults for the adults to talk to and loads of kids for the kids to play with.”

That is how I feel about this particular spot.  It makes life easier and kids are able to freely play with other kids.  As for essentially any other restaurant?  I believe it is the rotten parents who should be barred.


The Kiss Of Angels’ Wings

There are so many things that come to mind when I think of wings:  birds, angels, “lightening bugs” and even the sky in general.  My little red headed mother loved cardinals and they say when you see them it is a sign that your loved ones who have crossed over are still near.  I have always associated my mother with cardinals anyway so when I hear their lovely call or catch a flash of red I immediately think of her.  We have dragonflies in our pond and for some reason I have always associated them with my father.  I took this picture of one who alighted upon Frasier Crane and then paused for a few moments, allowing me to admire him.  Our lawn man, who is from a different culture, noticed it and I was shocked when he somewhat reluctantly said that many people believe dragonflies are a sign of departed loved ones who are coming to visit.  Who is to say whether or not that is true?  Some say our loved ones become angels who watch over us.  Regardless, the Bible has referenced angels appearing from the beginning in the Book of Genesis to the end in the Book of Revelation.  The French Enlightenment writer and philosopher Voltaire once said:

“It is not known precisely where angels dwell whether in the air, the void, or the planets.  It has not been God’s pleasure that we should be informed of their abode.”

Any tangible reminder or remembered emotion of my parents is so precious it feels as if I have been kissed by angels’ wings.  I certainly believe God is gracious and grants us signs.  I often wonder how many I have missed.  A couple of my mother’s scarves and pieces of her jewelry have simply turned up.  I would like to think it is her way of showing she is still around; I know I certainly still need and wish for her to be; my father as well.  I found an old penny the other day out of the blue.  Daddy used to love old pennies and he kept rolls of them.  We do not even have change anymore and yet pennies still will turn up in our house.  I believe in pennies from heaven.  And I believe in the kiss of angels’ wings.



My mother used to sell Avon when I was little, but I was convinced she bought more than she sold.  In the days before childproof caps I once drank an entire bottle of Avon’s Skin So Soft.  I remember a nurse in a dress with a pointy hat standing behind folding avocado green curtains.  I also remember sitting on a cold metal table while charcoal I guess was put down my throat.  All I recall after that was overhearing the nurse telling my mother that I was “a drinker” and that she should watch me after that.  I was three at the time.  For the record, I also remember drinking a bottle of something at the vet’s office but nothing untoward seemed to have happened to me then.  It was the ’70’s.  So recently when my little one was going through some of my mother’s things she asked if she could keep this heart shaped bar of soap.  “Of course,” I told her.  Mama passed two and a half years ago and I still cannot bring myself to finish going through all of her belongings.  I try to do it in stages.  Anyway, my little one was thrilled with the soap and proceeded to give it a place of honor in her bathroom.  The Australian born, United Kingdom resident industrial designer Marc Newson said, “I have a lot of objects in my space, little things, reminders, memories.”  Even though my baby did not get to know her namesake long, I am thankful to God she will always have her “reminders;” both mental and tangible memories.


Our Child

Today my little one received her first medal — a tiger medal in taekwando.  Neither she nor I had any idea the Grand Master was going to bestow the award upon her in front of her peers at the end of a regular class day.  I think it is safe to say both she and I were shocked and so proud.  I do not think I ever got a medal until high school when I was in the elite choir.  Let’s face it, to some that can be pretty geeky.  And, despite all my little one’s achievements in martial arts thus far, she had never received a medal.  I am telling you it is just flat out cool.  It is heavy and substantial.  My little one is so very proud of it, as she should be!  Frankly, I wish I had a cool tiger medal like that!  I am amazed at the juxtaposition between the Grand Master’s strength and gentleness.  It is a contradiction worthy of pursuit.  She also got a super cool certificate with gold dragons on it!  I was all kinds of jealous (in a good way!) and wished I had gotten something like that.  The American football coach Bill Parcells said, “You don’t get any medal for trying something, you get medals for results.”  I confess I have never been a “team sports” fan but I believe that as well.  Medals go to the victors.  Trying is worthy and should never be discounted — but nor should simple participation garner a medal.  In life sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.  My father taught me if I did not win easily and did not want to lose I must simply work harder.  I believe in that ethic.  And I hope that is what I am instilling in our child.



Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I started kindergarten at a small private Christian school in East Dallas at the age of four.  I have an October birthday and at that time parents could choose whether or not to put their child in “early” or “late.”  I turned five just about six weeks later but I was always the youngest.  It never bothered me and I never had any issues going through school.  However, I was tortured at that little private sect of a school.  They locked me out of the schoolroom and stole my Mickey Mouse necklace which my Uncle Johnny brought me back from Disneyland — a place I have yet to go.  My father was a painter and he painted that entire school plus the playground so that I was able to attend, but I was just miserable.  Public school was different way back then and in the second grade my folks allowed me to switch.  So I am basically a public school educated girl who put herself through SMU on academic scholarship.  I believe it is human nature to want more for your child than you had … at least if one comes from a normal, functioning family I believe it is.  When we were interviewing for private school for our little one I was more nervous than when I applied for college!  I had an easy time in school but my husband did not.  Where would our daughter fall?  We had only applied to one school (when I’m told people apply to four or five) and fortunately she got in.  My husband and I, both lovers of academics, truly wish that we could go back and attend this school ourselves!  Not only is it incredibly colorful, one can tell from a tour there is an innate, inherent desire for learning.  It is contagious for those who have a thirst for knowledge.  All I know is I am incredibly grateful she was accepted.  They attend chapel four times a week, which I love.  For those of you for separation of church and state, I respect that.  It is just not what we wanted for our daughter.  It is not a Catholic school, rather it is our denomination, which is Episcopalian — or, as I am oft to joke, “Whiskeypalian.”  I must confess I am not a fan of single-sex education, as I do not feel that reflects the real world.  In fact, I have read multiple studies where girls cave once they’re in college and they actually encounter males.  The real world is made up of both males and females, and I do not view their segregation as an advantage.  But that’s just me.  Anyway, she made it!  I took this picture from her introduction to the playground for “littles” which goes from Pre-K through Kindgergarten.  I told her to enjoy being the oldest, because she would be using the other playground from first all the way through the eighth grade.  The American comedian Darrel Hammond has said:

“Play is under attack in our nation’s schools – and shrinking recess periods are only part of the problem.  Homework is increasing.  Cities are building new schools without playgrounds.  Safety concerns are prompting bans of tag, soccer, and even running on the schoolyard.”

I certainly hope all schools will realize the importance of music, art, and physical activity.  At present I am just so proud our little one made it into kindergarten to start her new school!


A Living City

There is something so peaceful about watering the garden.  Mostly I just have container plants and the sprinklers take care of the lawn.  But I love the fresh smell of damp earth stirred up in the early morning air.  I like watching the water sluice in rivulets down the spines of the ivy leaves and plop in fat droplets from our rose bush.  It is my time of quiet contemplation and a brief chance to connect with Mother Earth.  I also never know who will turn up.  This picture was on top of our swing (I finally have the ivy trained to go all the way up and over the trellis!) and this sexy boy agreed to let me capture him in a photo.  I had just caught him with his throat popped out trying to impress a lady who was watching him coyly from the ground below.  I do not see “doodle bugs” as prevalently as I used to as a kid, but when they’re around I never fail to pick them up for a moment to say hello.  It’s the same with “June bugs.”  I made my daughter hold one (she thought they looked gross) and explained to her that they were harmless and really quite interesting.  I then launched into a discussion about scarabs and watched her revulsion lessen just a touch.  I have seen lady bugs, earthworms, and garden snakes as well as butterflies, spiders, geckos, dragonflies, caterpillars, bees, ants, and moths that I can readily recall.  It is always an unexpected joy to see who will turn up.  We have some resident toads which I regularly like to pat … OK, and kiss.  Once I inadvertently made this huge, macho repairman working outside issue a shrill scream worthy of a teenage girl at a boy band concert.  Apparently he was scared to death of them.  I love this quote by the American marine biologist and National Geographic explorer, Sylvia Earle, who said:

“Look at the bark of a redwood, and you see moss.  If you peer beneath the bits and pieces of the moss, you’ll see toads, small insects, a whole host of life that prospers in that miniature environment.  A lumberman will look at a forest and see so many board feet of lumber.  I see a living city.”

That is exactly how I feel every time I am outside … I see a living city.