Parrot Talk

On our way to go get snow cones, me, Audrey and Tucker walked out to the car. He always jumps in the front driver door and crawls over the console to his seat, while she gets in the passenger door because her car seat is by the window. Tucker is usually always racing and rushing to get where we are going, but on this particular day I stopped and smiled as I saw him jump down from the running board and open the car door for his cousin first. I was so proud to be his mother.
Tucker is one of those kids who just doesn’t slow down and think about things very often. He is always in a race to the finish line, so it was a pretty big step for him to stop and think and perform this kind act. In fact, it was just so sweet, I literally started crying when I told my mom a story about it later.
Later last week, my sister, my mom and the kids all went to the SA Aquarium. It is a really cool place–more like an aquarium/petting zoo/and arcade with jumping castles all-in-one. Of course, when someone asked Tucker what he saw at the aquarium, Tucker answered loud and clear–”there was a huge gift shop!” This is true.
My favorite event of the day was when we all stopped to talk to a parrot who was sitting up on stage greeting crowds as they came along. He was up there on his perch saying “Hello”–”Hello”–”Pretty bird” and things like that calmly when Tucker came along. Tucker wanted to talk to the parrot too, but not in English. Tucker started making his high-pitched bird like shrieks, and that Parrot just stared at him for a minute. I’d like to know what that parrot was thinking. He stared right at Tucker for a few seconds before he surprised us and answered Tucker’s calls–loud and clear–with a shriek so loud we could hardly stand it. That parrot was mimicking Tucker in his own annoying way, with a much deeper and boastful croaking sound. Tucker was of course very amused and I’m sure their conversation could have carried on forever, but my ears could only take that shriek-fest so long! Thankfully the fish in the next exhibit couldn’t talk back to us.
Parrots sure are entertaining animals. I don’t know what makes us so infatuated with hearing them repeat us, but even us adults we are indeed drawn to it and can’t resist it. But no one was as thrilled as Tucker! I’ve never seen a parrot so engaged in conversation–if you can call it that!

Tucker’s PF Flyers

We went shopping at both of the local thrift stores in Devine last week-my absolute favorite kind of stores-because both of the awesome thrift stores here donate all their profits to helping others. Plus why pay full price, when you can find a thrift store treasure? Indeed that is what we found.
I was looking for a fancy dress, but very quickly, my little boy spied something else, a pair of really cool looking shoes. It ended up being our most treasured find. The pair of shiny white tennis shoes with cool looking black rubber cleats on the bottom. I won’t lie; they are pretty snazzy looking shoes, though I didn’t know just HOW cool they really were. Tucker, 4, tried them on, and immediately stated, these were “really fast” shoes, using his deep little man voice. He raced across the small room only about 10 feet wide to demonstrate, and I could tell, he had fallen completely in love with these thrift store tennis shoes.
Tucker wouldn’t even take those shoes off to try on any other tennis shoes in there. In fact, he walked to the register IN those shoes, only handing the cashier the tag. And as of this writing, he has not worn one other pair of shoes since!
Naturally, I shared the legend of the “PF flyers” with him that day. You remember the PF Flyers from the movie Sandlot-the shoes that made Benny the Jet run faster and jump higher than any others? The shoes that helped Benny “pickle the beast”?
I myself have never owned a pair of the actual PF Flyer brand shoes, but I always enjoyed it when my daddy talked about how our best pair of shoes were “our PF flyers”. And I was so happy to get to share this magic moment with my little one. I, too, believe everyone has their own pair of special PF flyers in their life, brand name or not. For some, it’s that favorite pair of cowboy boots, and for some, it’s that one special pair of thrift store tennis shoes.
When I was a kid, I can remember that we had a race around the goal post everyday in PE, and there was only one girl faster than me in that class…Briana Mann (I can’t remember her maiden name). Every day my dad and I would strategize about how I would eventually get fast enough to beat her. Eventually I found myself the right pair of PF flyers and I believe I did beat her, at least once or twice.
In the past three years, Tucker has lost more pairs of shoes than I can count, so in all honesty, I hope this love affair lasts awhile!
Here’s to my daddy for instilling the magic and power of “PF flyers” in us-the shoes that can make any kid run faster and jump higher than ever before-even if they are regular old shoes, whatever brand they may be.
I am not exactly sure if my rambunctious little son needed anything to make him run faster or jump higher, but then again, I guess everybody does. If you’re feeling a little beat down by the “beast” of stressful days and wearing uncomfortable shoes, you know what to do- find yourself some PF flyers!

Just Dance

My parents hosted the dove season celebration party this weekend, and it was the party of the year as usual. To my dad, dove season is right up there with Thanksgiving and Christmas. Everyone knows how Uncle Tommy feels about dove season, so it was cousins galore out there. Watching all those kids running around almost makes you dizzy.
Sure is awesome to spend time with my cousins though, and my best friend who also came. It’s funny how later in life, no matter how good of friends or cousins you are, you probably only get to see each other a couple times a year (unless your kids parties and schedules overlap) because (as it should be) the kids come first. There’s practices and birthday parties, doctor’s appointments, weddings, showers, work, and in between all of that business, there’s a few really special moments when you have this crazy thing called “free time”.
The highlight of the night was awesome live music by my dad “aka Uncle Tommy” and his buddy Barlynn (they used to play in a rock band together and they don’t miss a beat even after all these years). I even overhead some of the little girls talking about “what a great singer Uncle Tommy is”. It cracked me up, seeing how the younger kiddos enjoy it as much as the adults who look forward to hearing those old familiar songs that my daddy sings better than the stars who cut the songs (in my opinion).
Dad and Barlynn both chose the family man life over the life of rock stars, and that’s one more reason we love them so much! I am pretty sure my brother Sherman and Uncle David danced with every girl there. Props to the guys who aren’t afraid to dance! Even my cousin Lewis and Joanie got out there and danced to a special song Uncle Tommy played for them. It took a little coaxing but when Uncle Tommy broke out into a railroad song, the railroad man knew he had to take his girl onto the dance floor.
Unfortunately, at the end of the night, my daughter fell on a rocky driveway and the rocks were really mean. It left a huge gash, but she is so dang tough, she didn’t cry from the injury. While the doctor was threading stitches through her knee, I let her go on a little Amazon shopping spree to take her mind off things, but I am still amazed that she didn’t cry. That’s one tough girl.
Cheers to a little free time, and to the guys who aren’t afraid take girls on the dance floor. Girls love to dance! Dancing with my husband is definitely one of my favorite things to do even after all these years. So if you are looking for a way to charm your wife, take her dancing and don’t make her sit on the sidelines the whole time!

Tea-tastrophe

We finally got to go visit the San Antonio Aquarium last week, and it was really awesome. It’s kind of a combination of an aquarium and a zoo, with many animal interactions throughout it. Along the way, Tucker found dinosaur statues hiding all throughout the aquarium for added fun.
To top it off they have a huge room with 5-6 different jumping castles and slides, which the kids LOVED. Tucker made plenty of new little friends and jumped his heart out.
The next day I got really adventurous and took Tucker and his partner in crime (cousin Audrey) to eat INSIDE a restaurant. I knew this was a mistake. I planned to get it to-go and eat outside picnic style, but they begged and begged me to go eat inside the restaurant. I let them talk me into it; perhaps those scalding temperatures outside sealed the deal. They shrieked about how it would be “so much fun!”
It started off pleasant enough. They were both sitting across from me, smiling ear to ear, being their cute little selves when reality struck. We weren’t five minutes into our lunch before my son picked up his cup the wrong way and sent it flying across the table, creating a waterfall of sweet iced tea over my lap. It wasn’t just like a soft spill, it was a full on cup-emptier. The sweet and polite crew at Billy Bob’s ran to our rescue, with a smile they mopped it all up and seated us at a new, and dry, table.
Within the next five minutes, disaster struck again. I might as well have been sitting in a dunking booth at the carnival that day. It was Audrey’s turn, and before I knew it, her sweet tea and ice came a flying at me. I could hear the lady at the other table burst out into laughter at the ridiculousness of two repeat tea dunkings. I think we provided plenty of smiles to the people there that day at least.
Both spills were truly accidents, but that didn’t make things any less sticky. I don’t know how both of these little turkeys managed to have the perfect accidents that landed so squarely on me, but even they noticed. After I got drenched a second time, they both looked at me and said “Hey your legs are all wet!”
I can’t say I enjoyed it, but it’s a memory I won’t soon forget! I love iced tea, but not on me.

Treasure

I have the very special honor of being a god mother again, or “fairy god mother” as one of my little ones calls me.
Little Kenneth didn’t even cry when deacon poured the holy water over him. His eyes just got real big. I guess just about anybody is ready to cool off with this sweltering heat we’ve been having.
There was a pool party afterwards. As Pop Capps came out to enjoy the kids playing in pool, he joked “Well, it’s nice and cool out here!”
I guess a little wishful thinking can go a long ways!
As a child, I can remember, I loved the summer heat. It was a hundred degrees, and I had a canteen full of cold Big Red, and I was ready to go ride my horse. Me and old Dan went on a lot of fun adventures together, and that heat didn’t bother me back then.
I imagine our little boys, Kenneth and cousin Tucky, will have lots of fun adventures running around grandpa and grandma’s ranch in the boiling heat where I once did. What a treasure that place is. The red dirt roads, where you leave your tracks, the cactus where you see the old jack rabbit peeking out, the brush where you never know what’s gonna jump out, the open fields where you can just BE, without another person or building in sight for just a few moments.
Speaking of adventures, I got to interview the landowners and explorers who found the awesome cave underneath a ranch near Hondo. As a young girl, I did plenty of “treasure hunting” myself, so it was really fun to hear about the discovery of this cave–hundreds of thousands of years old.
You just never know what you are gonna find out in the middle of nowhere–but one thing’s for sure–you’ll find big blue skies and a simple kind of peace you can’t find anywhere else. That’s close enough to treasure for me, even if I never find anything else out there.

Little man, big thoughts

Out of the blue my little boy looked up and asked, “Did you know God lives with Jesus?”
“Yes,” I replied, asking what sparked this conversation. “Did someone tell you that today?”
“No, I just knowed,” Tucker replied in his cute little 4 year old voice.
Later HE reminded ME that we needed to say our prayers, and when he said something funny, he chuckled and said “That made God laugh.”
So sincerely. So sweetly. Moments like that can really take your breath away. Little children surely have a special communication with God.
Sure, we try to teach them these things, but when the teaching comes from the little one himself, it’s really something. Goes straight to my heart.
I don’t know what sparked such deep thoughts from a little guy who spends 99% percent of his day talking about dinosaurs, but we went for a last minute vacation to the beach recently; maybe it refreshed his little soul as much as it did mine. There is just nothing that compares to being able to hear and watch the waves roll in and out, like a deep breath. I recently learned something really interesting about the ocean too. The oceans produce a majority of the world’s oxygen.
Indeed on NOAA it states, “Scientists estimate that 50-80% of the oxygen production on Earth comes from the ocean. The majority of this production is from oceanic plankton — drifting plants, algae, and some bacteria that can photosynthesize.”
I accidentally discovered that little fun fact, but I’ll use it to talk my hubby into even more beach vacations–strictly for health reasons, haha!

The Creative Little Campfire

Last week I built an indoor tent fort in Tucker’s room and sat down on the floor to play “camping in Jurassic park” with my son.  I thought I’d be smart and build the tent fort in his bedroom instead of in the living room, so it wouldn’t be in the way.

He wanted to make a pretend campfire. So, like a good creative little mom, I took the lantern he had set up by the tent, and I used a washable orange marker to color the lantern lens and make it look more like a “campfire” for our camp. You know, when you are camping in Jurassic park you have to have a campfire to scare away the T-Rex and other “meat eaters”.  Then we proceeded to search his toy boxes for firewood, and Lincoln logs did the trick. We set those up all around our new, imaginary campfire.  

Tucker got really into it, and I was proud of my ingenuity. After all, how many moms can build a fake campfire so good? It was a lot of fun.

Well, shortly after our camping expedition ended, cousin Audrey and grandma came knocking on the door for a surprise visit. So then cousin Audrey went camping with Tucker for a while. 

In the next few days, I noticed an odd smell coming from Tucker’s carpet. I searched for it everywhere, with no luck. Eventually sister found a pile of empty water bottles in his room, and he told us what happened. 

“Me and Audrey put out the campfire,” he said proudly, with a beaming smile. “We poured water all over the fire wood to put it out really good!” 

It was very Boyscout -like of him, except for our creative little campfire was built right on top of a big thick carpet–which was now nice and wet underneath it–hence the odd smell.  So that was a nice, fun mess to clean up this weekend.

To make the story funnier, Audrey’s daddy is a firefighter, so I guess it’s fair to say she takes after him….leaves no fire untended.

We also found the jumbo box of snack-size bags chips that had gone missing.

 “We sneaked the box of chips into the tent and hid them under my bed!” he shrieked with joy.  It was apparently, the perfect camping snack assortment.

I think I’ll build the tent in the kitchen next time, and let Tucker know there is a burn ban!

The Family Dinner

I was watching a late night old TV show, and as it ended, there was a pretty shot of a family sitting around the dinner table laughing and eating together. The camera had zoomed out and it was showing the sweet scene from outside the window panes, looking in. It got me to thinking about how long it had been since we rounded up our kids and had a family dinner around the dinner table.
Somehow, that notion just kind of slipped through the cracks lately. We have definitely been eating around the TV more than the table lately. That’s got to change. Without looking up any statistics, I think we can all confidently admit that we don’t gather around the dinner table often enough.
I heard something the other day that really struck me. If you have a 12 year old daughter or son, did you realize that there are only about 300 weekends left before they turn 18? Isn’t that crazy? That’s about 2,000 family dinners. Doesn’t sound like so long at all when you look at it that way.
So this past week, I enlisted the support of my prince and asked him if we could start turning off the TV and sitting around the table for dinner, and he quickly agreed.
It’s hard enough to get the house cleaned and dinner cooked, let alone get everyone together at the same time, focused on having a family meal together. But I am determined, now more than ever.
I won’t say that my teenager loves the idea. I’ll be honest; the kids were so frustrated about the TV being turned off, etc. that there was more bickering than talking the first night. But we had a pretty nice and funny conversation during last night’s supper, over a lot of smiles. I think family dinner time is growing on them too, though they still don’t want to admit it.
I know it will never be as peaceful and picturesque as that scene of the family through the window pane of that movie, but it will be in my memories, I’m sure.
With our phones containing the whole world at our fingertips, and endless entertainment, and TVs with streaming services containing every movie and TV show ever made, there are plenty of distractions in our home….pulling us away from the good stuff. I am as guilty as the next guy when it comes to the magnetic field seemingly surrounding my phone. But when I purposely set down my phone and don’t touch it, nor the TV all day, I feel so much better.
An electronic-free day is almost as good as a day at the beach. Can we just knock down all the cell phone towers? I’m so over it. Every now and then we go on a vacation where there is little to no cell service, and it is truly SO NICE.
What if there was a 2 hour time slot that was electronic-free every day? I bet we’d find ourselves having more family dinners.

Campout with cousins

My dad and brother invited a gazillion boy cousins over for a campout, fishing, and cattle-working day at the ranch this past weekend, and they had a great time.
My brother caught a big garter snake and proceeded to walk in the house with it to scare me so that was the highlight of the evening for them all I’m sure. They also caught lots of crawdads, frogs and only God knows what else trekking around the tank bank with Uncle Sherm. I doubt I want to know exactly what all they caught. My brother’s sort of like that crocodile hunter guy. Thankfully, we don’t have any of those. Tucker is the youngest of the bunch, and he had so much fun tagging along with his older cousins, who no doubt taught him the ways of the world and just one or two cuss words along the way (accidentally).
When you get a bunch of kids together, they sure ask some funny questions, that’s for sure. It’s a lot of fun to eaves drop.
Some of the teenage girl cousins were there too, and when they all came running up to each other when the third one arrived they shrieked with joy to the high heavens. It was so funny. Cousins are fun.
On the morning after the wild campout, I took a couple of the boys for a horse ride, and they sure loved it. I got my exercise leading the horse around the ranch in the full sun, but their conversations and observations kept me entertained. I love to share the love and joy of a horse with children every time I get the chance. My rides around the ranch meant so much to me.

Book written in Devine, Tx makes national news

I was scrolling news online last Wednesday night when I stumbled across an article about my book “Hello from the Great Blue Sea” on Yahoo News! It came as a total surprise.
An article about our book was published on the front page of the Corpus Christi Caller Times last Monday, July 11, and I noticed that article was written by a journalist who is part of the USA Today Network. So Yahoo News apparently picked it up sometime after that.
The book is illustrated by Chad Wildoner, an inspiring young man who battles the same disease as my little niece, but he won’t let this disease stop him from living life to the fullest. He’s gone skydiving, horseback riding, kayaking, you name it–and now he has illustrated a children’s book that made National news! I wrote this children’s book for my niece Audrey (after she was diagnosed with A-T) to help show her that she too, can do anything she wants to do and go anywhere she wants to go, wheelchair or not.
Chad and I are donating all book sales profits to a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding a cure for A-T, the A-T Children’s Project.
Because A-T is such a rare disease, the A-T Children’s Project is the driving force behind most of the research that’s being done. So our family has connected with Chad’s family, over 2,000 miles away in California, in our mission to help raise funds for a cure.
You can buy our book on Amazon by typing the title into the search bar: “Hello from the Great Blue Sea”.
The theme of the book is how the world’s oceans connect us all, so how appropriate it is to be a fundraiser for a condition so rare that it only affects 1 in 40,000-100,000 people, but to see so many people come together to help us in so many ways. Small acts of kindness can go such a long way, like the sweet lady, Mrs. Ann, who is the director of the condo at the beach, who agreed to sell our books in her little gift store in Port Aransas. Because of that, the Corpus Christi Caller did a story on our book, because the book is sold at a local store. Then the story ends up on Yahoo News. Pretty cool.
A direct link is as follows on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Hello-Great-Blue-Sea-Wonders/dp/B0B5KXGSYW/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2NTAACF3YETO8&keywords=hello+from+great+blue+sea&qid=1658175708&sprefix=hello+from+great+blue+se%2Caps%2C136&sr=8-1
Hello from the Great Blue Sea is a non-fiction picture book with sea animals including a starfish, shark, sea turtle, dolphin, whales, and fun facts along the way. A short 5-minute read. At the back of the book, are a “behind the scenes” story and pictures showing the illustrator as he drew the pictures and telling the story of how he continues to overcome his disabilities.