Friday, October 25, 2013

Harvest Festival

Last Saturday we attended the Harvest Festival in Woodville, TX.  We've gone almost every year for the past six years or so. 

It's at a living museum of pioneer life, complete with a main street and lots of buildings filled with period items.  There's music and dancing all day on the main stage.

Sometimes I really wish I lived in a simpler time.  Maybe when husband and I are older I can talk him into wearing a period costume like the ones below, and we can pretend for a day we live in a different time.

This place just makes me happy.  It's so quaint and peaceful and just my style.

Over the years, on the stage, we've heard bluegrass, country, and gospel music; a whistler; seen a Russian dance troop, cloggers, and a Native American dance.  The acts are always entertaining.

The man in the blue kept trying to get the boys to sign up to join him in the army and to get their picture taken with him.  They declined on the picture and joining the army.

There is a second stage and I think this dulcimer group played almost all day.  I love, love to hear them play.  Again, I think this is another thing hubby and I can do in our senior years.  I'll just have to talk him into it.

Suddenly, our peaceful day was disturbed.  A reenactment of a shootout occurred.  The "lady" accused one of the men of man-handling her, so the man in the long jacket shot the accused who fell over presumably dead.  But the man was only injured and was able to sit up for a minute and shoot the other two guys.  But not before one of them took one more shot at him. All three men ended up dead from the shootout. 

This used to be Caleb's favorite building to visit.  

Caleb used to adore trains.  When he was younger we would spend forever in this building watching all of the trains.  This year, though, we were in and out pretty quickly.

 The day is just made better by lunch at The Pickett House Restaurant.  It's world famous.

The food is served family style.  There's all you can eat fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, mashed potatoes and gravy, greens, black-eyed peas, biscuits and cornbread.  This is the only thing on the menu.  Not sure the picture does this meal justice, but it was so good!

Oh, and the peach cobbler for dessert is so delicious.  I might have had two servings, since neither boy likes cobbler.

Luke loves camo.  He was so excited to get to wear these hand me down paints from Caleb for the first time.  In the morning as he was getting dressed, he cautiously asked me if he could wear his viper shirt with his camo pants as he wasn't sure it matched.  Looks like a perfect outfit to me for a day in the country. Oh, and his look was completed with his camo $2 yard sale Justin boots.

Luke rang the school bell and then...

these two little guys went up to the bell and kept looking at the bell and trying to figure out how to reach the rope and make the noise too.  It was so cute. 

We finished the day with a hike through the trails that surround the village.

The best part about the Harvest Festival is spending time with these guys.  It surely wouldn't be as fun without them. 

Lastly, we rode a school bus to get back to the parking lot.  My homeschool boy thought this was the best thing ever.  Probably the favorite part of his day.  He sat in the back seat and smiled through every bump.

Till next year.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


 He loves the cool fall mornings and asks please may he do school outside.  I say yes.

The guys prefer to eat in front of the t.v. on Sundays during football season.  They don't want to miss a second of the big game.

He loves sweaters and asks to wear one to co-op, even though its going to be 80 degrees.

Please Mom can I build a fort outside?

Yes to the $3 dollar throw from the estate sale.  

Less and less do the boys want their picture taken.  He said yes to this one.

He asked and asked for a puppy.
 (February 2013)

The puppy is now a dog who needs his daily walk.  

A long time ago he asked me to marry him.  Best yes I ever said.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!"
 Isaiah 6:8

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Dixie Chili

When people ask me where I'm from, I never know what to say.  I am a Texan, but I just can't bring myself to say I'm from Texas since we moved here when I was 16 years old.

Am I from Maryland, where I lived for four years? Am I from Virginia, where I lived for seven years?  Perhaps...these places and times in my life did have a large impact on me.

Or am I from Kentucky?  I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, right across the river from Kentucky.  I lived my first three years in the Bluegrass State, then also lived there for two years during junior high.

My parents were born and raised in Kentucky.  Most of my extended family lives in Kentucky.  But I've never truly felt like I'm from Kentucky, no matter how many times my Dad has said I am.

The years that we weren't living in Kentucky, my parents diligently took us there to visit and spend time with family.  We always stayed with my Mom's Mom.  My Grandmother never got her driver's license.  She raised eight children, including twins.  Sadly, my Grandfather had a tragic life and was an alcoholic.  He worked at a good job and earned a salary that would have provided enough for their family, except most of his earnings never made it home.  He would get paid on Friday and then head to the bars and some times spend the whole weekend there. My Grandmother struggled to provide food and clothing for her children.  When my Mom was 15 years old my Grandmother got a job at Dixie Chili.  My Mom became the caretaker of the home and to her younger siblings, while my Grandmother worked full time.  My Grandmother didn't drive.  Her husband didn't help.  She rode the bus each day, walking to and from the bus stop in any weather.

Dixie Chili is a chain of Cincinnati chili restaurants with three locations.  Cincinnati Chili is a chili that uses cinnamon, cloves, and allspice.  It's served at Chili Parlors throughout Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana.  It is served over spaghetti with cheese.

My Grandmother worked full time for 36 years as a "chili lady".  At Dixie Chili the customer orders from the front register, then they pick up a tray and move down the line.  The "chili ladies" are right out in the open assembling the chili spaghetti and coneys.  My grandmother worked for years.  She worked on her feet all day.  She would then get off work, walk to the bus stop, ride the bus home, get dropped off at the bus stop by her house and walk the rest of the way home. And head home to an alcoholic husband for many of those years.

Every time we visited my Grandmother we would venture to Dixie Chili.  She would have a big smile on her face as we came through the line and I'm sure she made our food with extra care.  She also, several times a year, would mail us a case of canned Dixie Chili.  My Mom would cook us up chili spaghetti and coneys and boy what a treat it was to have at home.

Two weeks ago my Mom sent my a package with goodies and tucked inside was a couple of cans of Dixie Chili.  Last night was filled with nostalgia for me as I made Dixie Chili for dinner.

 Now you can have chili spaghetti several different ways.  A 3-way is spaghetti, chili, and cheese.

A 4-way is spaghetti, chili, cheese, and beans.

A 5-way is spaghetti, chili, cheese, beans, and onions. Big A and I made 5-ways and Caleb had a 3-way.  It was so good! And Caleb ate his entire plate of food.

This dinner brought back many memories of visiting my Grandmother at Dixie Chili and lots of happy meals when I was a girl.

I'm incredibly proud of my Grandmother.  She took the life she was given and made the best of it and did what she needed to do to survive and take care of her children.  Her life wasn't perfect.  She didn't have years of plenty and ease and joy.  Her life was hard.  But everyday she got up and did what she needed to do to survive.

Dixie Chili means more to me than just a regional food that's popular in a place I lived.  Dixie Chili gave my Grandmother a way to survive her circumstances and provide for her family.

So where am I from? I'd say the same place my family is - Kentucky.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Book Review: Holy is the Day by Carolyn Weber

I devoured Carolyn Weber's first book, Surprised by Oxford.  It is intelligent, funny, so well written, and delightful in it's careful retelling of her experiences at Oxford University.

I developed an idea of who Ms. Weber is from reading her first book and her bio. She is a college professor. Has her PH.D.  Is super intelligent.  Went to Oxford.  Has a beautiful family.  Has plenty of money.  Has an easy life.

Umm, why oh why do I make assumptions about people.

I jumped at the chance to read her second book, Holy is the Day: Living in the Gift of the Present.

And oh wow.  First off, again I learn, every time I make assumptions- they are wrong.

Ms. Weber is not living an easy life where everything is beautiful and without difficulty.  She is a mother of young children, trying to balance work and home, and of course struggling with everything that needs to be done.  I learned that she is just like me and every other mother I know - pulled in so many directions and desperately wanting to do what's best for our families and never having enough time and many times failing.  But yet, there is beauty in each day through the difficulties we all face.

In this book Ms. Weber weaves stories of her everyday life, which are compelling, with the truth that God gives us grace to get though each day and that every day is beautiful and a gift.

This book encouraged me in my daily walk to be more compassionate, grateful, and humble.  And of course to not make assumptions.

Please, if you love superbly written books that will encourage you in your faith, then read this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, October 11, 2013


I had a most enjoyable birthday this year.  We schooled in the morning.  Then the fun began.  We headed to the botanical gardens in our town.  I love it because it's so beautiful, it's free, and it's just big enough.

The boys humored me and posed for a few pictures.  These guys are growing up so fast.  I cannot believe they are 13 and 9.  I miss having a little one in the house, but I treasure these years as they are getting older as well.  My 13 year old is a joy and a big help around the house.  He cuts the grass, carries in groceries, folds clothes, and if he sees me hand washing any dishes he will walk over, grab a towel, and dry and put away for me.  It's hard to believe he was a little before.  Now he's almost 6 feet tall and delightful.

We had the place to ourselves and enjoyed the lovely weather.  The boys of course needed to run a little bit.

Then we headed home and when hubby made it home from work it was present time.  Luke had some money saved up and purchased a gift for me with his own money.  He puts his hands over his ears when he is nervous, and in the first picture below you can see what he was doing as I opened the gift he picked out and bought for me.  So sweet.  Caleb too made his nervous face when I opened his gift.  He gave me the owl candle holder.  Luke gave me the colorful bird.  I adore both of their gifts! Aaron gave me a new book I've been wanting, a Hillsong United CD, and a gift card to Old Navy.  He knows me: a book, music, and shopping.  What could be better than that?

We then headed to dinner at Saltgrass, where I had a delicious dinner of Coconut Shrimp.  Our food was so good.  Then we headed home and I was surprised with pistachio almond ice cream cake.  Oh my goodness, the yumminess!

 I know that I'm incredibly blessed to have such a caring husband and two great boys.  I'm so happy to be 37.  37 seems like a great age to be and a year that new things can happen.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Three books and kindness

I adore books.  I just do.  Books are a part of me.  I need books.  Books also speak to me.  Most books that I read in some way impact me to live better, to love and forgive more, to treasure each day, to embrace my faith more, or to find the beauty in the ordinary.

Recently, I read three books that speak to me about kindness.

First is A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.  If you haven't read one of his books, please read one soon.  This book is not an easy or pretty read and things don't all turn out okay.  But it's a beautiful story about survival, perseverance, and the beautiful that occurs when people live out kindness to others.

Next is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  This haunting book is an incredibly moving and beautiful story.  What stands out to me the most about this book is the kindness of some of the characters against the backdrop of World War II and Hitler's atrocities.  At the end of the book I had tears running down my face.  I secretly love books and movies that make me cry.  I love the flawed characters in this book.  This is just a wonderful book.  I even talked hubby into reading this book and he said it was one of the best he's ever read too.

Now, I have never read a Stephen King book - they're just not my type.  But a few family members and one of my professors enjoyed and recommended 11/22/63 by Stephen King.  I didn't love this book, but I did find it intriguing and I keep thinking about this story.  In this book a man finds a way to travel back in time.  He decides he is going to stop the assassination of JFK.  You'll have to read it to find out what happens.  I couldn't stop thinking about time travel and what I would do if I could go back in time.  I know I would still marry my husband at 19, still make a lot of the decisions that I've made so far.  But if I could go back in time I think I would go back to high school.  Now this wouldn't be so that I could relive my glory days (they weren't glory days).  You see, I was a member of the high school band.  Anyone who's been in the band knows that the band becomes its only little group.  Band members spend lots of time together, especially for marching band.  The thing is, I wasn't always kind to everyone in the band (and other people in my life).  I'd love to go back in time and relive those years and shower my fellow band members (and even my family) with kindness.  Now I wasn't cruel or mean or terrible, but I was sometimes haughty, thought I was better than some of the them, and didn't always show the love of Jesus Christ to my fellow band members.  I regret not letting kindness rule my interactions.


And I think that's what I'm discovering.  That I will never regret being kind, showing mercy, and having compassion for people.  I so want to live my life that way.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32

But I can't go back in time.  There's no way for me to return to 1992 and change anything.  But there is something I can do.  I can choose to be kind to those around me now.  I don't need to go back in time because I have today, the present.  I don't always walk in kindness.  I've said unkind things, I've been easily angered, I've lost my temper.  But today I strive to really and truly live like Christ and be kind to others, to be tenderhearted, to be forgiving.

 Sometimes I need books to encourage me to do that.