Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Thursday Thirteen

Halloween  is just 2 days away!  My children aren't little anymore; in fact, most of them don't even live with my husband and me anymore.  When they were little, trick-or-treating or trunk-or-treat at church were big deals.  Not so much anymore.  But in honor of Halloween, here are some "fun facts" from Random Facts.  Join Thursday Thirteen here.

1.  The first Jack-o-Lanterns were made from turnips!  Strange!
2.  Halloween is the second highest grossing "holiday" after Christmas.
3.  The world record for the largest pumpkin was set by a man named Norm Craven in 1993 with an 836 pound pumpkin.
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4.  The first known printed use of the term trick-or-treating occurred in Alberta, Canada in 1927.
5.  It is believed that Halloween began in Ireland.
6.  There is a legend that says if a person wears his or her clothes backwards and walks backward on Halloween, he or she will be visited by a witch at midnight.

7.  Fear of Halloween is known as Samhainophobia.
8.  In 1974, an 8 year old boy was poisoned with cyanide in his Halloween candy.  I remember it vividly because it happened less than 20 miles from my home.  His dad killed him to get $20,000 from a life insurance policy he had recently taken out on his children.  He had tried to poison his daughter, but it was his son, instead.  He was found guilty of murder and received the death penalty.  I was actually at his execution because I went to college about two miles from where Texas' death row inmates are housed, so some of us college kids went over to see the protesters.  The father's nickname was the Candy Man.Okay,, this wasn't really a "fun" fact, but it is a fact.
9.  The record for most jack-o-lanterns lit at the same time was set in Boston with 30,128.

10. Harry Houdini the mysterious magician died on Halloween in 1926 from appendicitis.
11. Halloween was once a festival that celebrated the boundaries between life and death.
12. Fifty percent of kids prefer chocolate for Halloween.  Me, too!
13. The owl is a popular Halloween image because Medieval Europeans once believed that owls were witches.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Random Tuesday and Coffee Chat

Join Stacy Uncorked for some randomness.

Time for random Tuesday, and I got nothin'!  Here is my perfect opportunity to write about anything I want, anything at all, and I got nothin'.  Isn't that ironic?  I'm usually a "Chatty Cathy," and here I am drawing a blank.
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Wait!  I got it!  Chatty Cathy!  Did you have that doll?  It was only made from 1959 to 1965, the year I was born, but I never had one.  I think my sister did, but she wasn't really into dolls.  I was, though.  I played with them until fifth grade, but I probably wouldn't have admitted it then.  My favorite Christmas present that year was Baby Alive.  I thought it was great fun to feed her and change her diaper.  If I'd only known what it was really like!

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Something else I liked to play with besides my baby dolls and Barbie dolls was paper dolls.  Do you see a theme?  I imagine younger people have no idea what paper dolls are.  And in our high-tech world, who would play with them now?  They were basically dolls made of heavy paper or lightweight cardboard-type material.  The dolls had tabs on the bottom so they could stand up.  You would punch outfits out of paper, which also had tabs so you could "dress" the dolls.  I loved them!

It's also time for Coffee Chat at Ink Interrupted.
This week she asks...
The long work day is done, you arrive home 
and the first thing you do...?

Usually, I take my school bag upstairs and change clothes.  I've been in "professional" clothing all day.  Time to pull out the yoga pants, tee shirt, and sneakers!  And I have to stop and pet the cat, too.  But sometimes, I actually start on dinner before changing clothes. Like last night... I had to start right away because there was much to prepare:  fried pork chops, sauteed asparagus, and whipped potatoes all from scratch.  If I wait until after dinner to change, I might as well just shower and get my PJ's on!  How about you?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Read This Roundup #55

20151016_161553_resizedPhoto courtesy of KissinBlueKaren
Welcome to Read This, a collection of book reviews and giveaways that were posted in the past week or so from around the web. This is a collection of book reviews & contests from real reviewers. If you want to be included in the next edition start with the guidelines, then use the submission form.
Want to read more reviews? Check out Read This for a list of the latest reviews and stellar reviewers. You can also follow on twitter for the latest round ups. Read This is now accepting photo submissions for each edition.























Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Brought to You by the Letter O

Join us for ABC Wednesday!

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Washington Monument
O is for Obelisk.  I like that word.  Say it a few times.  It slips off the tongue so smoothly.

An obelisk is a stone pillar that usually has a square or rectangular cross section and a pyramidal top.  Many monuments have an obelisk shape such as the Washington Monument in Washington DC.

But the obelisk I am thinking of today is right here in my hometown near the Houston Ship Channel.  It's called the San Jacinto Monument.

San Jacinto is the place of an 1836 battle during Texas' fight for independence from Mexico.  The Texas army surprised the Mexican army shouting, "Remember the Alamo!" and "Remember Goliad!"  It took the Texans 18 minutes to subdue the majority of the Mexican army.

The obelisk (monument) is 570 feet tall; that's 15 feet taller than the Washington monument.  Construction began in 1936, 100 years following the war with Mexcio.  It opened to the public in 1939.
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San Jacinto Monument

According to the monument's website, "The shaft itself is octagonal, 48 feet at its base, 30 feet at the observation level and 19 feet square at the base of its crowning jewel—a 220-ton star made from stone, steel and concrete. Despite the scale, danger and novelty of the project, not a single life was lost during its construction."
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Star on SJM

“In future time, then may the pilgrim’s eye see here an obelisk point toward the sky….”
— Anonymous poet
The above prediction was penned in the poem: “Ode to San Jacinto”, even before the Republic of Texas became the State of Texas.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Random Tuesday

Join Stacy and the rebels for a totally random Tuesday!

You can't drive faster than the car in front of you!

The drive home from Abilene is mostly two lane highways.  Sometimes you get behind a cattle truck that smells like dirty diaper.  Sometimes you get behind an RV apparently driven by people who have no place special to be at any particular time.  And sometimes you get behind someone who's just an a** who refuses to go faster or scoot over on the shoulder so you can pass.  In any case, you can't drive faster than the car in front of you.  I exhibited a lot of patience on that 380 mile trip!

My daughter's university had homecoming this past weekend which included a parade.  My sweet angel is a pledge in a social club (basically a sorority, just not Greek).  As a pledge, she had to dress up and march in the parade with her pledge group.  Their club was founded in 1920, so they were dressed as 1920-ish cheerleaders.  She looked so cute!

When I was in high school, our colors were purple and white, and our mascot was Willie the Wildcat.  In college, my daughter's colors are purple and white, they're the Wildcats, and yep, you guessed it, their mascot is Willie the Wildcat!  Cool, huh?

And speaking of cats...   Have you seen this adorable video?  So funny!

And speaking of pirates, what is a pirate's favorite letter of the alphabet?

Have a happy week!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Brought to You by the Letter N

Defintions on behalf of



    adjectivenaughtier, naughtiest.

disobedient; mischievous (used especially in speaking to or aboutchildren):
Weren't we naughty not to eat our spinach?
improper, tasteless, indecorous, or indecent:
a naughty word.
Obsolete. wicked; evil.


adjectivenicer, nicest.

pleasing; agreeable; delightful:
                            a nice visit.
amiably pleasant; kind:
They are always nice to strangers.
characterized by, showing, or requiring great accuracy, precision, skill,tact, care, or delicacy:
nice workmanship; a nice shot; a nice handling of a crisis.
showing or indicating very small differences; minutely accurate, asinstruments:
a job that requires nice measurements.
minute, fine, or subtle:
a nice distinction.
having or showing delicate, accurate perception:
a nice sense of color.
refined in manners, language, etc.:
Nice people wouldn't do such things.
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Only 73 days until Christmas!  Have you been naughty or nice?  Check Santa's official list!  Here's what he says about me:
Forgetfulone:Has been nice most of the time. Has been helpful around the house at times. Needs to wash hands more often.

Or you can take this "Naughty or Nice" quiz to find out.

Join the ABCWednesday fun!

Random Tuesday

This was a difficult weekend for me.  My dad passed away October 10, 11 years ago.  I got to spend some time with my sister on Saturday and my husband on Sunday, so that helped.  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't grieve for my dad, and for all that my children missed out on by losing him at a young age .(He was 69.  They were 8.)

Life goes on, through the sadness.  And sometimes, one of the best things you can do is laugh.  So, I watched The Big Bang Theory - again, with no other work in my lap and in real time.  Amazing!

And my new favorite show is Criminal Minds.  I never watched it when it first came out, and I'm a little OCD, so I went back to season 1 and started from the beginning.  Now I'm on season 3.
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I really wish I had time to craft, or at least organize my craft room.  But no such luck.  Our entire curriculum changed this year.  In addition, we have two new software programs that we are using.  Also, all of our students have a tablet issued to them, so we're trying to figure out the best ways to incorporate those in our lessons.  These first eight weeks of school have been a whirlwind!
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The Astros suffered a disappointing loss against the Royals.  An Astros win would have ended this series, but now they're on their way to Missouri for the last game.  It's hard to win on your opponent's turf.  Wishing them luck tomorrow!  But I'm really looking forward to basketball season!

That's all for now!  Link up with Stacy if you want to share your random.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

It's Just My Opinion

The Guilty OneThe Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was very disappointed in this book. It is touted as a m suspenseful psychological thriller about the darkness in all of us. There was nothing thrilling about this book. It was bland and boring and poorly written. The fact that it was set in England with some unusual dialect was mildly irritating, but I could get past that if it held my attention. I really wanted to abandon this book, but it would have been three in a row that I abandoned, so I forced myself to read it. There were no surprises. It was predictable and repetitive.

Attorney Daniel Hunter is asked to defend an 11 year old boy accused of murder. This forces him to relive some of his own tumultuous childhood in foster care. The author tries to draw parallels between the two characters, but they really don't connect. For a novel that claims to be character-driven, the characters are rather unlikable and it is easy for the reader to anticipate what will happen next.

I just wasn't impressed.

View all my reviews

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Eleven Years Ago Today...

Eleven years ago today, the world lost one of the finest people I have ever known... my dad.  He was my hero and the best Papaw ever.   He was honest, reliable, helpful, kind, thoughtful, a good provider, a fixer-of-all-things.  My twins were only 8 years old at the time, and I cry over the fact that they didn't get more time with their Papaw.  He loved them so much.  Every time we talked on the phone, he would ask me, "How are the babies?"  That's what he called them, at least to me, "the babies."

We always thought he would live a long life.  His father lived to age 98.  So, for him to die at age 69 was a shock, and in more ways than one.  He had been at a CPR training class in the morning.  When he got home, he complained of a little headache, nothing unusual.  Everyone gets them.  Then a vessel in his brain burst, and he was gone.  I sometimes wonder if my mom had been able to get help sooner, maybe they could have saved him.  He was brain dead by the time they got to the hospital, and there was nothing they could do.

People might think, "Eleven years?  Shouldn't you be over it by now?"  But that is not the way grief works.  I may never "be over it."

Below are some things I've written about him over the years.
Now and Then (a poem)
My Dad, My Hero (another poem)
Hospital (a story)
Distance (another poem)

Thanks for stopping by today.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Worship Songs

Please visit "A New Paige is Here" and leave an encouraging comment for this new-ish, young blogger.  This time, she writes about worship songs that move her.  Take a look!  Thanks!

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The Letter M

Join ABC Wednesday!

Mom.  Momma.  Mother.  Mommy.  Matriarch... No matter what you call her, you know she's the reason you're here.

This may sound cliche', but my mother is my hero.  Don't get me wrong.  She's not perfect!  We quarrel like many moms and daughters, and sometimes she drives me absolutely bonkers.  She's a crazy cat lady, but there are reasons I consider her heroic.

She quit smoking cold turkey - for her health and for her grandkids.  She tried many times and failed, but when she finally made up her mind, she did it... with prayer.

She has beaten cancer, not once, not twice, but three times.  The first was lung cancer.  She had 1/2 of one of her lungs removed.  Then she got breast cancer:  double mastectomy and more chemo.  The third was skin cancer which she had removed.

After her knee replacement surgery, she was knocking on death's door due to a fluctuation in her electrolytes, potassium, and so on, and she slammed it in his face!

And the really amazing part of all this is... it has all happened since my dad died.  It's going on 11 years now, and I don't know how she has the strength to carry on, much less to deal with cancer, chemo, surgery, and still continue to be an active member of the community by tutoring school children (she's a retired teacher), helping out at the food bank, volunteering at the library, and other service projects through her church.
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If I could have half her courage and strength, I could tackle anything life throws at me.
Mom, you're the best!

Monday, October 05, 2015

Random Tuesday

It's Random Tuesday with Stacy Uncorked!  Join us!

Sooo... I have wanted to abandon the last three books that I've started reading.  One was about a woman my age who is developing early Alzheimer's Disease.  Can you say, "Depressing?"  I've put it down and picked it back up three times, and I'm still only on about page 100.

Another was a young adult novel about a girl who moves into a house where someone one was killed, but she is the only one in the family the "ghost" will communicate with, and it has something to do with a serial killer who is currently killing his victims and staging them like famous horror movies.  It was just moving too slow.
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Then, I started reading The Guilty One.  I wanted to give up on that one, too, but I thought, maybe there's just something wrong with me that I haven't liked any of the books I've been reading, so I made myself finish it.  It was a long, painful process.  Review to follow soon.

And Sunday night, I started reading a new book, and it was great, but it was sounding familiar.  I got all the way to chapter 4 before I realized I had already read it!  They were short chapters, thankfully.

But I'm happy to say that my One Year Bible reading is on track.
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Last night, I actually sat down to watch a show all the way through.  Okay, it was just a half an hour, but I watched in real time, and I wasn't grading papers, playing on the computer, I was actually watching the show!  That's pretty good for me.  I'm rarely ever doing only one thing at a time.  I guess I needed a break.

I can't wait for our summer weather to be over.  We don't get too many beautiful splashes of color here in Texas, but I'd like it if I could have morning temps in the low 70's and highs no higher than 85.  Cooler weather makes me feel all autumn-y and fall-ish.  I love the fall season.  AND... basketb all season starts in three weeks!  Woot!

If you pray, please start praying for me... My doctor thinks I may have to have another surgery, and I don't think I can take another 5 or 6 weeks in a sling so soon after my previous surgery.  Please pray for a non-surgical solution.

Last, please visit this blog and leave an encouraging comment.  It won't take you two minutes to make someone happy by doing so.

And now it's time for Coffee Chat with Time Out for Mom!

She asks us to...
 Tell us about something you have never done, 
but would like to do now.  
What was holding you back?

I've wanted to visit England.  My in-laws are from the UK, although they live here now.  I never really thought I would get the chance, at least not for a long time, due to the time and expense.  But, my baby girl is going to study abroad in Oxford for a semester beginning in January, so I am planning a visit!  I didn't know that Oxford University was the oldest English-speaking university in the world.  And it's beautiful!
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And London is only an hours' train ride from Oxford.
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Planning to visit in March!  Share your experience with me if  you've ever been to England!  I'd love to hear do's and don'ts!


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