Friday, December 3, 2010

Does God Read My Blog?

Today while walking the 3-mile power walk, I noticed the wind whipping up. Leaves trickled down softly, landing in the road, on the sidewalk, all over the driveway. I watched those leaves twirl and dance to the ground and couldn’t help but smile and think of my precious grandmother. She would have swept the porch three times already and had her blower plugged in and ready to go. She didn’t like an idle leaf on her pavement. It was rare that any leaf idled there long when MaMa was on watch.

I started thinking about all these little things that have been happening. It’s like my grandmother knows how much I miss her and knows she is on my mind. Out of nowhere “Good Housekeeping” magazine began arriving in my mailbox. I didn’t order it. I loved to read them at my grandmother’s house. She always had the latest issue ready for me when I visited. When it arrived in my mailbox, it was like a little gift from MaMa. I wondered how she knew I needed it.

I also have this little red bird that crosses my path from time to time. My grandmother especially loved the red birds! There are many birds flying through our wooded neighborhoods, but this little cardinal always seems to be the same. I only see it when I am alone. I am beginning to wonder if my grandmother isn’t sending it to let me know she’s with me.

This was taken at Christmas 2004.  It was the last Christmas she spent at home. 
She fell and broke her hip February 2005 and spent
the next 4 Christmases at Regent Care Center in The Woodlands.

There are so many things I would like to share with my grandmother. I know she would marvel at my “What’s on Tara’s Table” Facebook page. She wasn’t the most objective person when it came to me (and isn’t that just one of the best things about grandmothers?), so I have no doubt she would delight in each and every post.

This picture of my FABULOUS
Aunt Bobbie was taken at a
beach house in Galveston. 
It's one of my favorites. 
I often wonder what my Aunt Bobbie would think about my latest wine discoveries. She first exposed me to wine and taught me to appreciate it. She would have absolutely LOVED Hubbell and Hudson. Bobbie enjoyed “gourmet” treats like no one I’ve ever known. She was all about the “something special”.

So, God, if you read my blog, would you let my grandmother know that I miss her terribly and wish I could share my latest culinary creation with her? And would you tell my Aunt Bobbie that her two great nieces have inherited her love of jewelry and flair for fashion? Could you let them know that I hope there is some way that they could know all the neat things I’m doing? But most of all, could you just let them know that I learned so much from them and hope I am making them proud? And a hug and kiss wouldn’t hurt. Thanks, God. You’re the best!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Doing the Right Thing NEVER Goes Out of Style

Good Samaritans are few and far between these days.  It seems like there are a lot of people who are "all about me" or "what's in it for me". 

Just recently my husband, Charlie, was driving to Beaumont for a retirement celebration for a co-worker.  It was on a Friday that Charlie was off.  He had many things he needed to do around here, but this fellow retiring was a great guy and Charlie felt like it was important to drive over and wish him well.  Lucky for Bob Berry!

On the return trip, between Houston and Beaumont, along I-10, Charlie stopped off for gas.  As he filled up his tank, he noticed a wallet on top of the gas pump.  He opened it up to see who it belonged to and found Bob Berry's driver's license.  Charlie used his phone to look up Bob's address and phone number.  When he called his home, he reached Bob's wife.  Mrs. Berry told Charlie that 80-year-old Bob had been on a joy ride on his Harley when he left his wallet behind.  (Yes, I said 80 years old!)

Later that day, Bob and Charlie spoke and made arrangements for Bob to drive up and retrieve his wallet the next morning.  Bob arrived during our neighborhood Halloween Breakfast. 

Bob and Charlie posing in front of the Harley.
 The best part of Bob's visit was his GREAT story for leaving his wallet behind.  Bob said that he was just finishing up when this limo full of 20-something girls in various stages of dress drove up.  They had flyers for a new club called Girls, Girls, Girls.  They were offering to give him a lift to this new establishment.  Even an 80-year-old man gets distracted by young, scantily clad women.  The good news is that he turned them down and hopped on his bike.  Unfortunately he forgot his wallet, AND he told his wife the WHOLE story when he got home.  We were all rolling!

So during our short time with Bob, we learned that he was a marine and a decorated war vet from the Korean War.  He told us that with getting older, you start losing friends.  He said the friends that are still around can't drive anymore and their wives have to drive them around.  Bob said, "Or they're sick, can't walk or on some medication and can't drink anymore."  He told us that he had to get some younger friends.  So he bought a Harley.  Bob says it's like being in a fraternity.  He has friends wherever he goes.

What a character!  80-years-YOUNG and full of life!
We all enjoyed meeting Mr. Bob Berry.  I don't think our neighbors will ever forget this Halloween Breakfast! 

What we all learned is that it's always fashionable to do the right thing.  It might have taken a little effort to find Mr. Berry and track him down, but we all know the fear of identity theft.  His wallet, in the wrong hands, might have actually MADE it to Girls, Girls, Girls.

But for us, we were blessed to meet this fine gentleman who served our country proudly, who lost soldier buddies in war, who has a new lease on life after doing a little evaluating as his aging comrades began dying off.  I think we all learned a lesson from Bob Berry. 
  1. NEVER, pay attention to scantily clad women with a flyer for a new club.
  2. And, never grow old!

Even Hope and Gracen got in on the fun.
 So it just goes to show you, there are still honest people in this world.  I happen to be married to one.  Mr. Berry offered Charlie something for his trouble, but my southern gentleman shook his head and said, "No, thank you, Mr. Berry.  Meeting you was thanks enough." 

And with that, Mr. Bob Berry climbed onto his big blue Harley and started it up with a roar.  Charlie had mapped out a nice route for his return ride home to Houston.  He turned around and gave a big smile and a wave and was off like the wind.  Safe travels, Mr. Berry!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dancing Around the Subject

It happened. I found myself at a real crossroads. One morning after walking with a friend, I thought with complete and utter dread about a meeting I had planned to attend. That’s not like me. I thought more about the meeting and asked my friend if she was attending. When she told me, “No, I never attend those meetings,” I was shocked. I sort of thought it was mommy mandatory. As silly as it sounds, I didn’t know I had an option.

I began to assess the situation. I didn’t want to volunteer to be in charge of anything. If I didn’t go to this meeting, I couldn’t be asked to be in charge of anything or feel compelled to raise may hand to volunteer again, as I had done so many times before. I was starting to get the picture and found myself searching for a way to give myself permission not to go.

I thought about my calendar. To attend this meeting, I would have to miss my tap class. I clearly cannot be two places at once. I had just started back with my tapping and had recently met a number of new and wonderful ladies tapping and laughing and having a grand time. My heart and my feet longed for the tap class.

Was I just being selfish? Is it okay to do something I wanted to do instead of something I felt obligated to do? This was unchartered territory for me.

I began to reflect and those words I had heard so many times before came flooding through my mind. “You are a selfish girl! The world doesn’t revolve around you.” I felt myself let out an audible sigh. Maybe it was selfish to do something that made me feel alive and exhilarated instead of sitting in a meeting and hearing the same tried and true message, albeit important. It was certainly more noble and selfless to give my time to an organization dedicated to children, but I just didn’t have it in me.

Instantly 10 imaginary hoops appeared before my eyes and I envisioned myself jumping through hoop after hoop. Over and over again, I was reaching and stretching and doing and then, all of a sudden, I couldn’t even remember what I was working toward. I was completely burned out. I couldn’t raise my hand for one more thing. I was officially done.

Feeling like much less of a person than a few minutes earlier, I tried to validate my belief that I am NOT a selfish person. I am a person who love, love, loves children. I adore seniors. I appreciate their lined faces, their stories, their lessons to share. I think back to that little bunny that just hopped across the bike path during my walk and smile. I even love the little woodland creatures. And just like that, it hit me.

I am a middle-aged
Disney Princess

The visual made me laugh out loud. I could just see myself in some fabulous ball gown, hair in tendrils flowing down my back. A little bird perched upon my finger as I break out into song and dance. I was laughing, and it felt great! I laughed right past the guilt, obligation and sense of duty. I gave myself permission to be ME again, whoever that girl is today. I’m sort of still looking for her.

It’s easy to lose yourself in the things that you do. It’s extremely hard for me to tell someone, “No, I can’t help.” As much as I’ve been told how selfish I am, it’s really not in my nature not to help. I’m grateful to all those friends (Amy, Cheryl, Charlie, Martha, Sherry, Kendra, etc.) who have reassured me that I haven’t a selfish bone in my body. 

For me, this “picking and choosing” where and what I do has been liberating. No longer am I weighed down and burdened. I’m finding time to enjoy the little things. I can notice them now. I SEE them. I don’t want to ever go back to the over-committed, consumed, over-achiever, “what am I trying to prove?” person that I once was. What I want, is to use my gifts where they can help the most. Spreading myself too thin didn’t help anyone. I’m living and laughing and dancing every chance I get. Won’t you join me?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Five Things

Sometimes you just know God is trying to tell you something. Recently, a friend posted a little ditty about 5 things that will ensure you have a miserable week. When I read this, I really took notice:

Having a miserable week is easy; just do these five things each day:
• worry a lot
• focus on getting rich
• compare yourself to others
• cling to unrealistic expectations
• be 10 minutes late everywhere you go.

Seriously, who wants that? But it's easy for one bad choice to lead to another; adding up to a rotten week. Wise words.

Well let me tell you. I am a self-professed fretter. I usually justify it as anticipating and troubleshooting, but if I was honest with myself, I would call it worrying. I worry if I’ll get it all done. I worry if I’ve made the right decision. I worry if my family will like the dinner I’ve prepared. I worry if I’m good enough, if I’m doing enough, if I’m even close to getting it right.

I have to cut myself some slack because I never focus on getting rich. That makes me laugh a little. I don’t buy lottery tickets, I don’t gamble, I don’t even have a paying job. I am not focused on getting rich in the least. Charlie might even say I might be focused on making us not rich.

But when my eyes rolled over “compare yourself to others” my heart sank. I was convicted. I am always doing a little “measuring”.  I sometimes think about the career woman who wears stylish shoes and fashionable clothes. I think that she “gets to go to lunch” at nice places with interesting people. I think about my trivial errands or silly volunteer work and feel extremely inadequate. I notice the beautiful girl parked next to me at Target. I notice her beautifully coordinated, perfectly fitting, workout attire and I grimace at my lumps and bumps. The skort that I love to wear because it’s so comfortable suddenly seems so frumpy. I have skipped over everything positive about myself and highlighted every flaw, real or imagined. Comparing yourself to others serves no purpose other than to fill you with self-doubt and accentuate every little insecurity.

Do I cling to unrealistic expectations? I am almost certain of it. I expect people to do the right thing. I expect my children to do what I ask the first time I ask them. I expect my husband to read my mind. I expect every stop light to be green. I expect the puppy to “do his business” immediately when I take him out. I suffer from chronic unrealistic expectations which leads to chronic aggravation.

Late? Well, let’s just start out by saying I was two weeks late gracing the world with my presence at the time of my birth. I am late. I am a late riser. I’m a late-night person. I’m late even when I’m trying to be early. I make myself late. My children not meeting my unrealistic expectations make me late. My dog who takes forever to do his business makes me late. My husband usually tells me we have to leave 15 minutes before we really do, because he knows I’m always late. “Tara Time” is late. I hate being late. It drives me nuts and I can see how it can really add to making a miserable week.

So this little helpful hint really got me thinking. I don’t want to have a miserable week. I decided to be proactive and to change the way I approach these problem areas.

Worry. Well, I still have my share of worries, but I am making a conscious effort to pray when I worry. I pray for peace, for strength, for patience, for direction. I pray. When I pray I seem to think about all the things I am grateful for. When I am grateful, there is no room for worry. My load is instantly lighter.

Focus on getting rich. Well, I am focusing on spending my money wisely. I’m balancing needs and wants. I’m focusing on sharing what I have with others.

Compare yourself to others. I am thinking about the amazing things my body did to bring my two precious girls into this world. I may not have a terrific career and lunch with interesting people in wonderful places, but I am blessed to be home with my children. I am free to volunteer in their schools, pick them up in carline, and personally deliver them to their dance classes. Maybe there are working moms out there who wish they could do that, too. I am giving myself permission to shut that little guilt door and not getting my self-worth or validation from how I think I measure up to the person next to me. I am reminding myself that we are human. We all have ups and downs, highs and lows, good and bad, struggles and triumphs. The honest to goodness truth is that we just don’t know what the other person has been through or might be going through right this minute. These kinds of comparisons are not uplifting or encouraging. They are counter-productive and are based on skewed data. It’s unusable. It’s irrelevant.

Cling to unrealistic expectations. A wise man once told me that if you don’t “expect” anything, you can’t be disappointed. Expectations are not a bad thing. It’s the unrealistic aspect that gets me into trouble. I am breathing a lot more these days. I am shifting gears. I’ve spent most of my life trying to be perfect. If you haven’t noticed, I haven’t achieved perfection yet. I will never be perfect. Perfection is unrealistic. Letting this go is truly liberating. And I will be completely honest. I still have some serious expectations. They are well-conceived, highest of the high, but with a little grace, mercy and forgiveness woven in there too.

Being late. This one I’m still working on, but instead of telling myself I have to walk out the door at 11:45, I tell myself 11:40. I know this is difficult to believe, but I’ve actually been early a few times this week. I know, it’s unheard of!

God used an email that a friend received and chose to share on Facebook to minister to me. Those words really affected me. They got me thinking and based on all that thinking, I’ve been making changes. Those changes have made my days a little less stressful and a lot more productive. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my Father was blessing me through others. He reached right out to me through others. He is an amazing God and He knows exactly what I need. He knows my heart like no other.  And you know what?  He wants to do exactly the same thing for you.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Tradition of the "Birthday Frock"

Birthdays are a rite of passage. We all have them. You might have noticed, as I have most recently, that birthdays seem to be a lot more fun when you are young and there is a slip ‘n slide involved. I have always adored birthdays. I love the celebration, the cake, the presents, but most of all, I love the birthday frock.

“What is a birthday frock?” you ask.

Well, it is that fabulous little number you get especially for your special day.

I have had a number of them over the years. One in particular stands out in my mind. I believe it was on my 19th birthday. My Aunt Bobbie gave me a beautiful, albeit simple, pale pink sleeveless dress with a draped neckline. I wore it on my birthday. My grandmother made spaghetti and the most wonderful three layered strawberry cake. My dress matched the cake! And I felt FABULOUS!

When I was in college one summer, I was taking Public Relations. Ben Hobbs was my professor. He had a reputation for being tough as nails and was unpopular with the Communications students. I know for a fact that his bark was far worse than his bite, and he was really quite the softie underneath all that gruff. Having an August birthday, I had never had to attend school on my actual birthday. I was devastated to learn that not only was I going to be in class on my birthday, but I was going to have a major presentation. We were supposed to present in business attire, but since it was my birthday, I pleaded with Mr. Hobbs to allow me to wear my new birthday frock. I thought he was going to fall out of his old, rickety, rolling chair. He agreed as long as it wasn’t my birthday “suit”. I wish I had a picture of that one. It was floral (forest green with bright coral and purple flowers) with a portrait collar and long flowing skirt—definitely NOT business attire.

So through the years, I’ve always gotten a birthday frock.

On my 22nd birthday, my grandmother sent me to Saks Fifth Avenue, armed with her charge card. Katie, the saleslady, had a dressing room filled with beautiful cocktail dresses in my size when I arrived. I chose a fabulous white lace sheath with a square neckline. I wore it to the ballet, “Cinderella”. THAT was a fabulous birthday frock. 

By the time my 23rd birthday rolled around, I was in the working world and actually having to WORK on my birthday. I bought a Maggie of London dress with big black buttons down the back that year and wore it with beautiful black pumps. I also enjoyed dinner at Butterazzi’s that night and was later surprised with a limo full of friends for a fun night on the town.

Apparently in my younger years,
the birthday frocks were rather SHORT!
Each birthday was different, but always great fun. Some years the birthday frocks were simpler than others.
Then there was the one when I was rained on.

One year, my dress actually had fringe on the bottom.
And I really liked that one!
Then there was the halter phase I went through…

I spent this birthday in Napa sampling tasty wines
and dining at Etoille at Domaine Chandon.

Last year, Charlie surprised me with a private chef and a delicious meal. It was perfect for my
"aloha-wear" birthday frock. We celebrated at home, but with style

But this year I didn’t buy my own birthday frock. I saw it in a little catalog that came in the mail and I showed it to Charlieman and commented that it would be the perfect birthday frock. Then I found it in a perfect little box, with a perfect little bow, in my perfect size (thank goodness I can still fit into it!).



Every girl should have a birthday frock! And every girl should be so lucky to have a fellow who uses his selective hearing selectively and still relishes in spoiling and surprising her.
So don’t let another birthday go by without getting a birthday frock. Take it from me, you’re totally worth it! ; )

Friday, July 2, 2010

Only in The Woodlands

There comes a time in a dog's life when the nails need to be clipped.  Now, I'll be honest with you and admit that I have dog nail trimmers and I have used this apparatus some 8 or so years ago on my beloved dog, TD (may he rest in peace).  I will also tell you that I would rather trim a newborn baby's nails with hedgetrimmers than to clip a dog's nails.  It's just frightening.  You can't tell what is nail and what is nail bed and the yelp that follows a clip to the nail bed is blood curdling. 

So what's a dog owner to do? 

We have no choice but to harness that puppy up and head to the doggie nail salon.

"We're going WHERE?"

That's right, we're going to take this puppy to have his nails clipped.  Who would have ever thought it would turn in to such an adventure. 

"I don't know about you, 
but this does NOT sound like a good idea to me."
So we headed out to "Natural Paws" for a little mani-pedi for our little pup.  It was a MAD HOUSE!  Two big dogs were in for grooming.  They were barking and carrying on and Beau just looked at them as if he was wondering why they would allow dogs in this place. 

It was almost like being in "Gina Nails" (and no, I didn't leave the apostrophe "s" off of Gina).  A little gal who looked like she was one of the girls who works at Gina Nails quickly clipped Beau's nails.  Then she pulled out her handy dandy nail drill (just like the ones they use for acryllic nails) and filed his nails.  No polish for Beau since he has those puffy paws.  Just a buff and shine and we were out the door. 

So now Beau has perfectly manicured paws.

And newly trimmed pads.


It's amazing what you can find in the Woodlands.  Let's just all be thankful that we have the good sense not to get this dog's nails painted shocking pink!  And for the record, I think Beau enjoyed his little outing.  He's completely metro-sexual.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Why It's Good to be a Barbie

Now friends, all of you have heard the FABULOUS story about how Santa saved the "strep throat Christmas" by bringing ME the Barbie Party Bus.

Charlie dutifully put every piece together and every last decal into place.  Never had Barbie had such a fantastic ride.  Of course that's when it occurred to me that I had no Barbies with which to play in the Barbie Party Bus.  This would not do and I was not about to use the "Bad Hair Barbie" cast offs of the girls. 

So I waited patiently until the next Christmas.  And much to my SURPRISE, I received, not one, not two, but THREE uniquely different, ready to party, Barbies! 

So now we're ready for business!  It takes a "village" to create a proper Barbie scenario, so I invited the princesses to engage in a little poolside Barbie play.

We are definitely "safety girls" so our Barbies have only expertly qualified lifeguards.  We find that mermaids make excellent lifeguards.  All Barbies, even Mermaid Barbies, must limit their sun exposure.  These lovely ladies prefer Australian Gold SPF 30 with Instant Bronzer for that Barbie Girl Fun Glow!
Now, you may be wondering if that Barbie Party Bus actually sees some play time, but you will be glad to know that our Barbies want for nothing.  They have their own pool, as you can see, as well as their own mobile hot tub with lights and music.
And to be perfectly honest, I've relaxed a bit about all the little pieces, because, let's face it.  It's no fun to play Barbies with the Barbie Nazi looking over your shoulder constantly harping on all those little pieces getting lost, blah, blah, blah.  So we're rolling out the Barbie Party Bus for weekly fun in the sun.  Now all that's missing is a Ken with his head still attached.  Those dang Kens' heads just keep popping off.  I think that cell block tango from Chicago, might have something to do with it.  "He had it coming, you should have seen it.  If you'd have been there, bet you would have done the same....I fired two warning shots, into his head...."  Gotta LOVE Chicago!  ; )

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Turning Over a New Leaf

I am a terrible blogger. It's official. Probably somewhere in the cyberworld of blogging, there is my picture with "Lazy Lima Bean" embossed across the bottom.

I have such good intentions and I truly want to document every little detail of every little thing I do, but quite frankly, I get caught up in DOING something fun rather than writing about it. Like floating in the pool with my precious puppy, Beau.

But all that's going to change! I have been inspired by my blogging sister friends. I am amazed at the clever posts and colorful photos. Quite frankly, I suffer from blog envy.
So, just get ready for news, opinions, chuckles and much more. I aim to please! So for now, let me leave you with a glimpse into my life.

This is merely a sample of the fabulous spa treatments available right here in my very own back yard. You see this incredible mud has unbelievable healing properties. It's often expertly applied and baked on.

Additional treatments are also available. Please call ahead for an appointment as walk-ins are not accepted. Stay tuned for more summer adventures...