Archive for August, 2013

First Day of School
August 30, 2013

hynes

Where are you going, my little one… my baby my own? Turn around and you’re 2, turn around and you’re 4. Turn around and you’re a young girl, going out of the door. ~ as sung by Rosemary Clooney and others

Ah yes, every year it happens, that magical “first day of school”. Especially for those who are entering the classroom for the very first time, whether in pre-K or K, this calls for a photo op. Maybe Mom likes to document this annual ritual and does it every year? For sure, whenever one’s child begins a new school, it is de rigueur!

My mom took a photo of me on my first day of kindergarten at the Hynes School in New Orleans (See above. We had no pre-K back then, so it was literally my very first day of school).

robc

I took a photo of Shannon on her first day of kindergarten at River Oaks Baptist School in her new uniform. But that’s about it. Both of us are sadly lacking in subsequent first day photos.

However, my mom had a great excuse. She had six children. There was no way to document each child’s first day of school. I do not have that excuse, but I just didn’t buy into making an annual fuss. I’m sure Shannon isn’t too sorry that I didn’t. At least I hope not!

So this year marks my 10th first day of school without having a student to hustle, bustle and get going with a most healthful lunch, in her new, stylish outfit…

And I love it. There. I’ve said it.

But I’ve got to admit that the first day of school in 2004 without a student to get to school was more than a little poignant for me. I remember walking that morning and seeing the hordes of moms/kids making their way to Bunker Hill Elementary nearby. And I felt a big tug on the old heartstrings as I remembered the days when I was doing the same thing, albeit to ROBC, then Spring Branch MS and finally Memorial HS. I also remember feeling a little bereft, as if I weren’t sure what my next move would be.

I also felt really old. Basically, I had lost my job. So I went and got a new puppy (our Bailey), and he filled my days with a focus that I had lost.

puppy bailey

Now the only reason that I dread the first day of school is because the traffic in our neighborhood explodes between the hours of 7:30 and 8:30, with an elementary, middle and high school all within a few blocks. So I don’t go out with Tucker as early, because seriously, unless kind drivers stop to let us cross Taylorcrest, sometimes we just sit there for quite awhile.

At least that’s my reason for sleeping in til 7:30 or so… one the perks of the empty nest! So, all you bleary moms scurrying about every morning, there is hope for you yet.

You just wait… your little darling will be in college before you know it. Cherish these days, because they will be gone in the blink of an eye!

The Anniversary Waltz
August 24, 2013

wedding

Let this be the answer to our future years
Through millions of smiles and a few little tears
May I always listen to the anniversary waltz
With you
~ Hank Thompson

Another August 18 has made its annual earthly spin about, 34 years to the day we were married back in 1979. While this year’s celebration was somewhat muted in comparison to past years, it was nonetheless a happy one, spent at one of our most favorite restaurants, Bistro Le Cep.

Sure, there are fancier and more trendy places here in Houston, but we had just returned from being out of town, and it just felt right to go back to such a comfortable, reliable, excellent and most friendly spot.

Most of our anniversaries have been celebrated by going out for a special dinner like this. I now wish I had kept a log of how we celebrated each year, because after 34 of them, I am forgetting.

(note to Shannon and Kat: do this)

However, I distinctly remember August 18, 1983, our fourth anniversary. Two words: Hurricane Alicia. The storm roared through about 2 am that morning.  We quickly lost our power, but happily, it was restored about 12 hours later.

We were so lucky; I think my parents were without power for at least a week. Another stroke of luck was that while the rising water in the street was lapping at our front porch, it did not flood our house. And we both got the day off work!

Of course there was no fancy restaurant meal that year, but we were so relieved to have been spared, I don’t think either of us gave a thought to it. We probably ate hot dogs or something like that.

On another August 18, Joel arranged for a romantic dinner at La Columbe d’Or, a mansion here in Houston, built in 1923 and converted to a luxury inn and restaurant. The surprise was that he had also booked a room to stay in overnight, so we didn’t have to worry about driving home. The house our family lived in (not far from this inn) was built in 1926, and the bathroom in our suite reminded me of my old bathroom on South Blvd!

 la colmbe d'or

Another year, Joel whisked me away to Dallas to return to some of our favorite haunts in our newlywed days, back when he was finishing his last year of law school at SMU. If I am remembering correctly, this trip was to celebrate our 10th anniversary. Shannon would have been 3 years old; thank goodness for grandparents who were happy to have her spend time with them!

Once I got to make the anniversary plans, and I booked a limousine to drive us down to Galveston to eat dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf on the Bay. It was great to relax and leave the driving home to our chauffeur!  (can’t remember what year that was)

On our 20th anniversary, we took a trip back to the Pacific coast of Mexico to Manzanillo, where we had gone on our honeymoon to Las Hadas (where the movie “10” was filmed). I think we both agree that we had more fun the second time around! (especially because Joel caught a sailfish while deep sea fishing). We also went up the coast to another resort called Los Careyes, which was even better than Las Hadas, because it was so isolated and private.

las hadas

We celebrated number 25 with a driving trip north to Rhinebeck, NY to deposit our Shannon at Bard College. Needless to say, the trip up was fraught with anxieties of a motherly sort, worried about leaving my sweet daughter in a strange place where she knew absolutely no one. Now we know I needn’t have worried, but back then, who knew?

(funny, on the way up, we spent the second night in Lexington, VA, where she now lives!)

Joel made arrangements to drive home via the Homestead, in Hot Springs, VA to decompress, relax and celebrate our special day. It was the perfect thing to do, and it was VERY much appreciated by me.

homestead

While Shannon was still a student at Bard, Joel flew us back up to Rhinebeck for another anniversary as a surprise to me to spend a weekend with our “precious baby angel girl”. What fun we had! She and Kat had planned everything, including a trip to the Dutchess County Fair and even better, a tour of Olana, the magnificent home of the famous Hudson River painter, Frederic Church.

olana

Did we celebrate belatedly in Santa Fe for our 30th? I am drawing a big blank here.

All these happy memories are to me what make anniversaries special. We don’t exchange gifts; sometimes we find funny cards, but sometimes not (like this year, I totally drew a blank and came up cardless).

We are most blessed, and I thank God every day for my husband who works so hard for not only for me and our family, but for so many others in the community. He is just the best, and I love him dearly!

(So Joel, here is my anniversary card to you that is only five days late!)

Answered Prayers
August 16, 2013

oops

Constantly ask God’s help in prayer, and pray always in the power of the Spirit. To this end keep watch and persevere, always interceding for all God’s people. ~ Ephesians 6:18

A greater sense of spirituality would be a real gift to me. For some very blessed people, this natural gift is a part of their essence, but I believe that with practice, dedication, devotion and focus, an ordinary person like me CAN become closer to God and develop that connection. At least that’s my aspiration!

One of the things I’d most like to improve upon is my prayer life. I’d like for  my prayers to be more focused and intentional, with specifics that are sincere and not selfish. My hope and faith is that my prayers will reach the ears of God and be acknowledged. Whether they will be answered in the way that I would like them to be is the key. But acknowledgement is about all we can hope for.

After all, it’s His will, not ours. Sometimes we think we want things to go a certain way, but then they don’t, and we struggle through the aftermath. And it’s only long after we journey on and look back that we may come to realize that it was for the best that we didn’t get what we hoped for initially.

Recently, while we were in Wyoming, I read a book titled, “To Heaven and Back” (a doctor’s extraordinary account of her death, heaven, angels and life again) by Mary C. Neal, MD. It was a riveting read, and it made me long anew for that spiritual connection to God that seems to be innate to her.

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Reading her account fired up my resolve to be more intentional about my prayers, and I began with prayers of thanksgiving, sent aloft as often as my blessings occurred to me, which, honestly, is all the time.

Add the fact that I’ve accepted our church’s challenge to read the entire Bible front to back in 90 days. I’m in the home stretch now, reading all the letters from Paul to the various churches he founded. His exhortations to pray constantly are never far from my mind and only reinforce my desire to do so.

For me, I think the most difficult prayers are the ones that include personal requests for outcomes. They seem so greedy and trivial in the face of all the heartbreaking situations all over the world. My problems and requests are so small in comparison that I’m almost embarrassed to even bother God with them.

But inspired by Dr. Neal’s experience, I prayed for us as we headed for home (a two day car trip), and for our son in law, who had planned to drive straight through from Houston to Lexington, VA in one day, 1223 miles, 17+ hours in a 17 year old (awesome) car whose odometer died at 138,500 miles about 8 years ago, with no AAA card in his wallet. I was actually more worried about him than us.

For us, I merely prayed for safe travels home. For him I intentionally prayed that he have a safe journey back to Virginia, with no auto malfunctions or delays, for him to be alert and able to focus, and to have a safe homecoming. Off and on during our mutual journeys, these were my specific prayers.

Well, guess what? He made it safely and soundly to Lexington with no auto malfunctions or delays. He was alert and focused and had a safe homecoming.

We also made it home safely, as I had prayed for. But we also had a major auto malfunction (manifold intake blew all the coolant out) that involved needing a tow truck to haul our car home. Happily we were only 100 miles away, and thanks to AAA, it wasn’t too expensive to bring us safely home.

It’s funny, but when our car (only 11 years old!) failed, I was pretty serene about it. If I’d been alone in the car, it would have been different, but having Joel there to take charge meant that I didn’t have to second guess or worry about being stranded. But most of all, I knew we would be ok.

We parked under a tree by the side of I-45 near Madisonville and waited with Tucker, who had plenty of water. It was warm, but not too oppressive in the shade. AAA came through with a wonderful outfit from Huntsville (Drake’s Towing), and just as I had prayed for, we made it home safely.

But I can’t help but think about the exquisite timing of our breakdown. If the malfunction had happened a day earlier in the desolate panhandle of Texas where there are few towns and no shelter, what would we have done?

I think God answered both my prayers. And for that, I am truly grateful. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!