Category Archives: Family

The Last Band Concert

We attended our last official band concert at our daughter’s high school tonight.  The show was awesome and we stayed for the awards and the senior slide show.  They gave the first annual Charles Bush Scholarship this year and the recipient was his best friend and a fellow percussionist.  His mom presented it.

We came home and watched their performance at state in the Alamo Dome on DVD.  It was the first time we had seen it and it seemed perfect to us.  It was a great thing for my daughter’s senior year, to go to state, even if they didn’t make finals (especially since she had a solo) and it was one of the events that will she will never forget.  Next week, is UIL Banquet and Honor Grad Banquet and we will have little left except graduation.

It’s hard to believe that we will have both kids out of high school – it seems like nano-seconds ago they were starting elementary school.  I am proud of both of them.

Scholarship Update

J is third from the top on the waiting list for Honors College and after they have officially filled the first 50 slots they take five more for the first semester and she will definitely be on that list.  If someone doesn’t make their grades then she would has the chance to move into that slot so she will be going to A&M Commerce one way or the other:)

I think she will be happier there.

What To Do?

We are in a quandary (I love that word), though it is a good kind of quandary.  Jess got the Presidential scholarship from Devry which means about $32000.  That would not cover housing and some other things which I want to know a lot more about before a decision is made.

We had kind of gotten set on her going to A&M Commerce.  We haven’t heard from the Honors College and I think she is probably on the waiting list, but we had figured she could probably do her first year there anyway.

Now we aren’t exactly sure which way to jump.  She could do her first year at Devry if the credits would transfer so we will check in to that too.  The scholarship is wonderful and I am proud of her whichever way she decides to jump.  The Honors College fills fifty slots – there is only ONE slot for this so it’s quite an achievment I think.

I know that not everyone recognizes Devry as a college so that’s a consideration too. On the other hand they have a pretty good record of helping you find a good job and with her getting this scholarship it would put her on the high road for that.  You also finish sooner because you pretty much start school in July and finish with short breaks – not like semesters.  There is a lot of hands on which is something I don’t think colleges do as well as they should sometimes.

Soooo, I’m throwing it out there.  Any information or ideas are welcome!

Happy Birthday Babe!

And many more happy, healthy ones!  Happy Birthday tomorrow to your kidney donating, police exam passing sister :)  Many happy, healthy ones to her too – without her we might not be having such a happy healthy one!!

I’m not going to get all mushy, weepy or anything – well heck ya I am a little.  We have walked through the valley of death and found out that we can come through the other side and there is a mountaintop and sunshine waiting there. We have learned that while you are walking through the valley, God sends angels in the form of friends and family to hold your hand and walk with you so that even if you are stumbling in the dark, you never truly lose your way.

Happy Birthday to my Austin buddy too (you know who you are – enjoy your dinner tonight!)


Grandma and Faeries

I took a break from writing from prompts today and spent some time journeying back in time.  Here are some memories and stories to share.

Visiting my grandmother was always an adventure. She lived in Hamilton, Ontario which was about a two hundred mile journey.  I just looked up the distance this morning.  It’s funny, but I remember it seeming much farther. I know my brother and I must have asked “are we there yet?” at least a thousand times.  I don’t even remember what most of the scenery looked like – I was usually buried in a book.

Grandma lived on the very end of Aberfoyle Avenue, at the base of the mountain brow, across from King’s Forest, which had very few trees – just rolling hills and meadow.  There is a little road running out to the middle called Whitehouse Road.  Back then it was actually the driveway to a lonely, faded and peeling, two story white clapboard house.

My favorite place was a very old tree that was growing out of the side of a hill in such a way that one of it’s roots was out of the ground and formed a natural bench, sheltered by the branches.

I would take an apple and my sketchbook and sit looking out at that old house.  I imagined there was a girl locked upstairs, peering out from behind the curtains.  I would try to think of ways to sneak closer and see if I could catch a glimpse of her.  I had just read Jane Eyre and I’m sure was feeling the influence.

With the city behind me, a mountain rising to my right, and the horizon stretching on forever, the place had an edge of the world feel to it.  Throw in a cloudy day with a little bit of fog and you had the perfect scene for a Gothic novel.

I’ve since learned that Aberfoyle Avenue, the name of her street, is also the name of a village known as the Faerie capital of Scotland.  It was named appropriately.

visitaberfoyle has this to say:

The village of Aberfoyle sits astride the Highland Boundary Fault Line, which separates the Highland from the Lowlands of Scotland.  There is a strong magnetic field found on this geographical line.  It is in such an area that the mythology of the Celts is at it’s strongest and the activities of Celtic Faerie People are most evident.

The Fairy Minister

He heard, he saw, he knew too well
The secrets of your fairy clan;
You stole him from the haunted dell,
Who never more was seen of man,
Now far from heaven, and safe from hell,
Unknown of earth, he wanders free.
Would that he might return and tell
Of his mysterious company!

And half I envy him who now,
Clothed in her court’s enchanted green,
By moonlit loch or mountain’s brow
Is chaplain to the Fairy Queen.


The Rev. Robert Kirk was the minister (Episcopalian) for the parish of Aberfoyle from 1685, when he succeeded his father in the post, until his mysterious disappearance in 1692, following publication in 1691 of his book,  “The Secret Commonwealth of Elves and Faeries”.

Of course I’m all grown up and I know that fairies don’t exist.  Kings Forest is now a ski and golf park and my grandmother is long gone.  She came to Canada from Glasgow which is only about forty miles from Aberfoyle, Scotland.  She probably heard the stories and legends and I can imagine her believing in fairies when she was a girl. Life was hard in Scotland and I  picture the Scots shepherd in the Highlands with nothing but sheep and a good dog for company.  Cold and tired with the mists playing tricks on his eyes, it would have been easy to let his imagination turn to give name to the outside influences on his daily life.

A Gaelic lesson – the phrase Woman of the Fairy Mound – bean-sìthe (in English – banshee and pronounced very similar)

A Long Day In Shreveport

Dale’s sister had surgery today.  It was scheduled for 10:00 and they didn’t actually take her to surgery til 1:30.  They removed two vertebrae from her neck and replaced them with bone and also cleaned off some bone spurs.  she has been fighting pain from this for years and it had gotten so bad that he arm and part of her hand was numb.  We stayed long enough to see her after the surgery and know that she was doing ok and will go back Friday.  Now she gets to spend 3 months in a rigid collar.

This surgery is last resort kind of stuff when you have pain that can’t be fixed any other way.

Pam is Dale’s oldest sister and has worked harder than most guys all her life.  She has always had a beautiful garden.  She hunts, sews, cans, landscapes, antiques, paints, and more. She isn’t very big but I don’t think she has ever been afraid to tackle anything.  Except maybe this, which is totally understandable.

She was swollen and in a little pain when we left, but considering everything, I thought she looked great. Please say a prayer for her.  She has a rough time ahead – three months of not being able to work in the yard, pick up the grandbabies, and a lot of other things she usually does.

A Walking Valentine

What do you give someone for Valentines Day when they are on a diet?  Especially someone like me who thinks chocolate is a major food group!  NOT chocolate.  Dale asked me what I wanted and I told him I wanted two new remotes for our tvs.  One old one doesn’t turn on or shut off.  It was the one for our bedroom tv and you would have to get up and walk across the room to shut the stupid thing off. I know that’s whiny but it sort of defeats the whole getting sleepy thing if I have to get out from under the covers and walk.  I am then wide awake and have to read even longer to fall asleep.

The extra one for the living room (the one I use of course) is the original one that came with the tv and it would do everything except turn the volume down.  Because I am a silly creature of habit I would pick it up, try to turn down the sound, growl and hunt for the other remote…EVERY time.

We now have two new ones but getting them programmed was interesting.  I followed the directions and pressed the device (tv) button and then held down the power button until it came on and stayed on.  Then for the old tv in our room there were about 12 sets of 4 codes that you had to enter.  The power button was supposed to blink each time you entered a set.  It did not.  I tried twice.  I read the instructions again.  I tried again.  I growled.  No luck.  My son picked it up and looked at the codes.  He pointed it at the tv, held down the tv button and entered the first code.  It worked.  I read the instructions again and NO WHERE did it say to do this.

I also asked for a pedometer so I could keep up with how far I walk.  I’m not obsessed about it – I just wanted a ball park figure.  I took it out of the package and like the remotes, this required a chainsaw, jackhammer, and much growling.  The instructions said to slowly pull the battery protector tab that was sticking out of the battery door on the back off the pedometer.  There was no tab and nothing came on.  We got out a tiny screwdriver and took the cover off and sure enough, there was the tab, folded double inside.

The last thing I asked for was another set of hand weights to have at the house, since I carried the other set up to school.  The only thing I had to do to them was cut the string that held the tag on.

Dale was not sure about these gifts.  He didn’t think they were very romantic but I appreciate all three gifts and have already used them all.  The frustration of getting the first two working gave me a headache, but walking with the last one helped get rid of the stress that caused so it all evened out.  Maybe next year I’ll stick with chocolate.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars

This weekend we will get together for a late family Christmas in Louisiana.  My job is to bring a dessert and I am bringing our family traditional Christmas goody that I have been making since Number 1 son was six and informed me that I had to make them for Christmas FOREVER.

Keep in mind that the recipe is for a double batch – 2 9×13 pans.  It’s easy to halve if you like.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

2 18 ounce packages of chocolate chip cookie dough

2 8 oz. pkg of cream cheese

1/4 cup butter

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 cans of Eagle Brand

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

12 oz. pkg of mini chocolate chips

Put cookie dough in the pans and let it soften a bit.  Press it into the bottom of the pans.  Beat together softened cream cheese, butter, and cornstarch.  Beat in Eagle Brand.  Add eggs and vanilla.

Pour over the cookie dough and sprinkle with handfuls of choclate chips.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Let cool and cut into bars.  Refrigerate.

I just gained a pound typing that 🙂

A Blessed Thanksgiving

This is a very special Thanksgiving for us because it is the one year birthday of Dale’s kidney.  I can’t believe it has been a year since we packed up and headed to Dallas for nearly a month.  We picked up the apartment key that night at Baylor and “moved” in.  The next morning we reported to admitting before dawn and the entire family, friends, pastor, and more, got comfortable in the waiting room as Dale and his sister started the process of getting ready for surgery.  It was a long and nerve-racking day but everything went fine.  We had a few glitches after the surgery with Dale going into “acute” rejection and needing to be dialyzed one time before things started settling down.

To try to thank everyone for everything that was done for us is overwhelming.  We were LOVED.  Folks I work with collected money, put up with me being a little crazier than usual, friends checked on us, checked on our kids, sent things they thought we would need, gave money so that Sondra wouldn’t miss salary, prayed for us, sent cards, brought our kids to visit us (and cooked with them – thanks Beej!), visited us, and I’m sure I am forgetting someone or something.

The difference in Dale and our lives as a family in the last year is so great.  Dale is probably 50 pounds heavier, the transplant medications no longer bother him, he has not been diabetic and is able to eat almost anything he wants.  He only has to go the transplant center every six weeks now.  He laughs and picks at people again and if you know him at all, you know that is a sure sign that he is himself. He will always have balance issues but he is happy, is cooking, and goes to lunch with our busy son a few times a week.  He keeps us organized, and keeps us going.
To all of you that held us up and pulled us through, thank you, we love you and you will never know just how much every little thing meant or how each kindness pulled us one more inch up the hill we had to climb.

More Band Kudos

You may be getting a little tired of me posting about “THE BAND” but it is our last year in high school so stick around – there will be an end to it.  For now a bit of bragging from another town!
Quoted from The Paris News:

We were entertained

Published November 7, 2008

To the Editor:

For over 30 years I have attended high school football games of schools of all sizes. Each of these games came with half-time performances so I have seen many of those also. Last Friday night I witnessed the best performance of a high school band I have ever seen.

When the North Lamar Panther Band took the field at Van Alstyne Friday night it was amazing. From the moment they entered the arena we were entertained. Their performance was beautiful, moving and executed in almost perfection. It was obvious that many long hours of hard work had gone into preparation for this program. The Van Alstyne fans were the recipients of an outstanding show and we appreciated it. We look forward to their performance next year!

Your community should be very proud to be home to a high school marching band and the caliber of the North Lamar Panthers. It was obvious that the students, director, administration and band parents believe in this program. Congratulations to all involved in a job well done. Good luck to the North Lamar Panther Band in their future competition!

Betty Childress

Van Alstyne

Thank you Betty!

State 08!

State 08!!!

2:15 P.M. I am at work, repeatedly glancing at the clock, knowing that in about fifteen minutes, my daughter will be playing in the Alamo Dome with the North Lamar Panther Band at the State UIL competition and I am a nervous wreck because I am not there.  I am excited for them and nervous at the same time!

3:00 P.M. She just called me.  She felt like it went very well and she thinks she played the best she has ever done. Now we just have to wait for results to see who goes to finals!

4:30 She called again.  They didn’t make finals but they are 9th out of 20 so they can relax now and have a good time.  9th is not bad at all!!  There were 7 bands that made finals so they got pretty close.

I’m so proud of the band.  It has been a long road getting to State and will be a turning point in the lives of some kids just from the realization that they were able to persevere and while the death of one of their fellow band members is tragic and nothing can make that okay, some positive things will come from it.  Yay Panther band – you are champions in my book!

A Memory

One fall night when my son was little, I went outside for some reason after he had been put to bed.  We lived in the country in Louisiana then and had a big wooden deck on the back of the house.

Because we were away from town there were not a lot of lights to reflect against the night sky and it was one of those dark, crisp chilly nights when the sky is full of stars.  I went in my son’s room and and woke him and told him I had something to show him.  He was wearing yellow pajamas and I wrapped him in his blue quilt and took him out on the deck and laid down with him and told him to look up.

We both just laid there looking up at the millions of stars in that clear sky.  He is grown now and probably doesn’t even remember that night but it is etched in my mind as though it happened yesterday.

When he started getting sleepy I carried him back to bed and kissed him goodnight as I tucked him in.  If I had a wish, it would be to go back and take more moments like that with my children and then freeze them forever in a snow globe so I could go back and visit whenever I want.  I could shake it and watch the glitter fall and be back holding him wrapped in a quilt, smelling his curly baby hair.

Treasures aren’t things, nor are they huge events.  They are perfect little moments when time stops and we can count our own heartbeats.  This is one of my treasures.