Saturday, December 31, 2011

Practicing Gratitude... 12.31.11

- Cappy & Daboo's full house for Christmas (almost full, anyway - missing our Atlanta crew!)


- That Christmastime can make even veggies a special treat


- Aunt Julie's creativity in merging James traditions... great job, Julie. You make Christmas FUN.
 

- Cousin banter.  These twins bring a fantastic new dynamic. 
 

- Basden's simplicity and contentedness


- Baylor victories - RG3 for Heisman and Alamo bowl. Go Bears! (and Frogs)



- Customized Secret Santa cousin gifts



- Bruce the shark, Aunt Julie hit the bulls-eye with this one
 

- As Pappy would say, for a minute there these girls had some real power



- Basden never more than a few inches from these babes



- Watching Chris and Crystal maneuver Payton and Naomi's sleeping and eating and playing schedules


- A couple of pretty hours at the park with pretty girls


 

- Private lessons from Uncle Chris - who can still wow his nephews with his home-run derby
My mind's eye still sees Chris at Hudson's age, baseball in hand, throwing the ball with Luke and dinging up the backyard fence



- Daboo's gift to all the (grown-up) girls - shopping, lunch, and TIME. Looking forward to next year's outing with Amy at the table (and thanks, guys, for watching all the kids!)
 
Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles...   1 Chronicles 16:11-12


Sunday, December 25, 2011

An Open Gate

This Christmas photo, circa 1976 or so, takes me back to my growing up years when we spent every holiday in south Texas with both sets of grandparents. Here I am with Pappy, Cappy's daddy. Pappy had more interesting stories than could possibly fill this blog, and loved to tell them over and over into late hours of the night.

Written this year by my Aunt Francine, my dad's sister, this poem wraps up all those memorable Christmases. I don't know how she managed to fit all these family memories into a few lines, except that she's her mother's daughter. No surprise there. Every line represents a hundred back stories.
Thank you, Aunt Francine, for remembering, for writing, for rhyming our stories. Love you much, and Merry Christmas.

An Open Gate

An open gate
under an old oak tree
A quirky little country club
we call family

Sell ice to the Eskimo, be a doctor, a model
build and pilot your own plane
What a trip up past the windmill
to the house at the top of the lane

A fair haired child on a pony
the CEO unloading hay
an artist at living digging a ditch
and pretty people in for the holiday

Someone grand at the piano
the kitchen full around a veggie tray
Triumphant laughter from the game room
as dominoes click and pool sticks go into play

Barbie babes parading braids
Computer guys playful with expertise
A cowboy in his copter flying by
after three tours with the Vietnamese

Cattle dotting the view from the pool
Big Fat and Happy, Sheba, Brahma and Bo
Driving instructors out on the range
And world problems solved out on the patio

Fireworks flaring, coyotes caroling
Hay rides and city lights on display
If you ever got to finish a sentence
No one was listening to ya anyway

Parting gifts include a legacy
Roots and wings inclusively
An open gate under an old oak tree
What on earth could be more Heavenly...                                  

Francine
December 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Practicing Gratitude... 12.21.11

- Amy's LIFE. We'll never know.


- Being reminded of this... There is no greater measure of my work as a woman than the extent to which I serve as the heart of my home. - Nancy Leigh DeMoss

- December 15 - happy happy birthday Dad! So glad you were born!


- December 17 - Trey's birthday - glad you were born, too!


- A night set aside for Christmas lights and Menches

- Bran's natural leadership among his brother and sister... four brooms in action

- That Esther can write her own Christmas wish list - and pin it above my desk to see! ("Costco - Mommy buy some Uggs")


- Yummy Christmas goodness from friends - dropped at our door warm!


- Luke, Julie and boys here,  Chris and family coming in tomorrow

- A spontaneous evening in a nursing home, and getting to watch my children's interactions
 

- Being stretched by house stuff, even when it's "all good," it can be hard to live in. Skylar's (and others') reminder for contentedness and satisfaction in the midst. And, what joy we have to look forward to. Grateful.

- First lost tooth!!


- Watching Christmas movies looks a little different this year, and no one seems to care

 
- The way a walk revives my heart

- Our dear friends the Brogdons, how much they mean to us, and that we got a couple of hours with them on a whim!


Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles...   1 Chronicles 16:11-12
 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

John's Gift

His thoughtful gift not only took me off guard, but it surprised me how much it meant to me. He met me in the kitchen, eyes bright and expectant, and ushered me to the festive gift bag and generous plate of cellophane-wrapped brownies perched on the counter top.

He helped untangle the mass of grocery bags from my arms while Basden chanted behind him, “Mom, he bought it with his own money!”

“Yeah, Mrs. TJ, I bought it with my money. I hope you like it.”

Seriously, he looked like a kid in a candy store. And his big grin looked just brilliant on his eleven-year-old face. With one child plinking away at piano keys in the foyer (yes, the foyer), a couple of puppies playing tag at our ankles, and a few more kiddos watching our exchange, John stood before me at full attention, arms extending the gift bag in my direction.

“Ok, John, I can’t wait to see what this is. I can’t believe you thought of me on my birthday, and went to all this trouble bringing a gift!”
I pulled out colorful tissue paper and found two homemade cards - one from John and one from his little sister, a couple of years younger. His sister’s was sweet, adorned with stickers and a happy birthday message. John’s was a little more masculine (unadorned) but his scrawled words caught my heart strings.


Regardless of what I would reach in and find, I’d already received his gift. The fact that John likes me is nothing short of a miracle. Yes, he frequents our home. A lot. And we all love him. He’s like a brother to Bran & Hud, and of course the girls as well. But I’m telling you, I speak to him like one of my own children, raise my voice with him right there, and he sees all the real sides of this mom. He’s seen me overreact and overcorrect. And then ask forgiveness because of it. He’s seen me respond to my children at the height of hormones, seen me throw a sloppy meal together in minutes, seen my disgusted reaction when I walk into a messy room. When I bark at my kids to bring in the groceries or firewood, his name is part of the roll call (and for the record, he works hard and happy - often an example for the Wilson kids). What I can mask or disguise for some, John sees it all.

And... he still likes me... the real me.

I kind of expect that from my children, my husband. But it took me back a bit for a neighbor boy to love me despite knowing the real, sometimes-harmonious but sometimes-dissonant me. He is at times shooed out of the house, we’ve said no to spending the night way more times than we’ve said yes, and he’s expected to live by our house rules when in our home. 

And yet he loves us.

Under John’s watchful eyes, I reached deep in the bag, and nestled in the tissue paper were a blue and gray knit scarf and matching gray gloves.
Beautiful.
“I hope you like it, Mrs. TJ! ”
“John, it’s just gorgeous. Thank you so much, this means so much to me. This will keep me warm ALL winter.”
And believe me, it does.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Practicing Gratitude... 12.12.11

- These eyes. They’re not from me or from her daddy. Just an over-the-top gift.
 

- Boxing gloves

- Oh goodness - how we love Mrs. Warner! She not only teaches Basden to play piano, but she brings out such sweetness in her.
 
 
- Michelle's email

- Friends who remember. A birthday’s a birthday, no matter the age.
 

- Atlee’s ten years... a golden friend for Basden


- That amidst mounds of dirt, boulders, gravel and mud, there’s a POOL in our yard!
 

- An Augustine quote shared from a friend just last night, “I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write.”

- Tears in my kitchen sink - feeling pain for a dear friend's pain

- These two, inseparable and too funny
 

- Yummy potato soup that everyone loves (and that's easy to make!)

- That our home opens the door for us to a great public school

- Hudson’s “1st Annual” trip to the coast - ha!

- Bella's generosity


- Two episodes of “World’s Strictest Parents” with Bran over the weekend, sequestered to watching on our bed with popcorn and a laptop because there’s no furniture or TV downstairs

- Jordan

- Toasted chocolate chip bagels with butter

- My awesome Christmas decor. Seriously. Learning some great lessons.

- Aunt Francine's Texas Kiss Almond brittle... makes it seem a little more like Christmas


 


- Fourteen and counting. These kiddos will ALL inhabit Mom and Dad's home next week - who hoo! And - even more incredible... these stockings are in age order, and all four of mine are at the top. That means there are TEN younger than Esther. Who wants to come and spend Christmas with us??!


- Christmas cards from near and far - amazing people who have shaped Corbin and me over the years. Grateful!

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles...   1 Chronicles 16:11-12


 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Practicing Gratitude... 12.05.11

- Hand prints in wet concrete, evidence of those precious souls who inhabit this home

 

- Psalm 1, timelines, and a bag of apples


- That Adventures in Odessey has the power to draw in my (no longer) reluctant tween

- From Essie, "I just love you so much, I could kiss you a thousand times."

- Another from Essie, "Mom, I really love school, I just wish it wasn't so long." TUGS at my heart. Grateful for the tug, for how much I love this little gal.
 


- Great basketball teams for both boys

- Hearing Bran laugh at Hud's joke during dinner - instead of rolling his eyes...

- Actually enjoying Cross and Ruby's company at home during the day

- Simple, sweet Advent

- Celebrating 40


- Ready forgiveness from my children

- Our (quite beautiful) Charlie Brown Christmas tree - getting to where I can love and appreciate (and be grateful for) the simplicity

- False alarms at 3 am - and dogs that need to get outside

- No Ordinary Home, that she taught me how to Celebrate His COMING
Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles...   1 Chronicles 16:11-12