Visiting the Tokyo Tots

Anyone who has been fortunate enough to join the grandparents club knows the amazing joy of loving (and spoiling) the offspring of our offspring.

I’m so lucky that 7 of my 9 grandchildren live 2 miles away. I get to see them regularly and I’m very thankful for that.

My other 2 grandchildren live 6,469 miles away in Tokyo, Japan.   I don’t get to see them as often. However, I’m very thankful for the technology that allows me to video chat with them regularly.

I’m also thankful I’ve gotten to see them twice in the last 6 months.

In December, our son, Joshua, brought his expectant wife, Emma, his son, Donny and Emma’s parents, Takei and Kazue, to Texas for a visit.

We enjoyed their visit so much and had tons of fun spending Christmas with them and showing off some of the wonders of the Lone Star State.

When Joshua and Emma’s new son arrived in April we knew we wanted to meet Baby Alan sooner rather than later so my husband, Ronald, and I made the trek across the Pacific to spend time with them.

Alan is so adorable and that furrowed brow?  I’m totally owning it as he definitely gets that from me, his Nana.

Big brother, Donny, is just as handsome and at an ideal age for discovering new things every day.

For this trip my main objective was to give – and get – as many cuddles and kisses as two little boys would allow.  Luckily, they are still very young and weren’t opposed to Nana constantly loving on them.

It.Was.Wonderful

Snuggles, hugs, first baby coos, new baby giggles, toddler babbling and a lot of laughter from everyone made for a great vacation and visit.  It’s not easy being far away – I love them and miss them so much – but the life they have created is sweet and I cannot deny they are where they should be.

Matthew 19:5 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’

 

 

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A Day In Palo Duro Canyon

If I told you our recent outing to Palo Duro Canyon resulted in scraped knees, a sprained ankle, an attack of wind and sand, car trouble and temps in the 100’s you might be left with the impression it wasn’t a very good day.  But, take my word for it, it was.  Surrounding those mishaps was time spent together hiking, exploring, eating,  watching wildlife and a great musical.

When we arrived, our first stop, before going down into the canyon, was at the scenic overlook.  Rugged, simple, beautiful – that seems an apt description of the view.  Everyone enjoyed the scenery, the visitor center/gift shop and even took this first opportunity to meander down some paths and explore some old ruins.

Top of the Canyon looking down
Old dwelling just waiting to be explored
Leslie and Ben hiking

The sun was hot but soon, cloud cover moved in and provided a welcome respite.   With the clouds came a few rumbles of thunder and we searched the sky to see which way things were moving but, weren’t overly concerned since it seemed to be moving away from us.  We had been there for 15-20 minutes when I took the grandbaby, Colette, and stood on the path to admire the view.  Suddenly and without warning,  a gust of wind whipped the hat right off of her head.  It landed just over the side and got caught on a small branch but, between juggling her and the ‘big’ camera I wasn’t sure how to retrieve it.  That predicament was short-lived and ended up being the least of my problems because just a few seconds later the wind became ferocious and big, fat drops of rain began to pelt us.  Trying to run – into the wind – we were assaulted with grains of sand while getting drenched.  Trying to shield the baby and the camera from the rain and sand I finally made it back to the car where, luckily, the door was unlocked. Meanwhile, in haste to seek shelter five-year-old Gianna fell and skinned up both of her knees. Two minutes and two band-aids later all was calm again, and the brief storm both Mother Nature and Gianna unleashed had passed. The camera and Colette – baffled by the commotion and Nana’s antics – were fine.

As the saying goes here in the Lone Star State, “If you don’t like the weather wait 5 minutes and it will change.”

Just like that, the sun came back out and we decided it was time to move on.   We gave the teenagers, Patrick and Ben, a moment to alert their peeps that, once in the canyon, there would be little to no cell service.  The anticipation anxiety of being cut off from social media required some deep breathing on their part but after a moment they too recovered and we began to make our way down.

At the bottom, it was HOT – about 111 degrees  – with very little shade.  Meandering the two-lane road we kept the a/c in the car on full blast while we took in all of the rugged beauty. Undaunted by the heat, we got out and braved the high temperatures to hike, play and explore.  And, drink lots of water.

Our first stop was to look at some rustic cabins that we hadn’t seen on previous trips.  We marveled at the Cow Camp Cabins and the man who, in the distance and in the oppressive heat, sat with his easel painting.

Rustic cabins with bunk-beds, a/c, and a fireplace but no running water.
Can you see the speck sitting on top of the hill?

Unfortunately, Ben stepped off the side of the asphalt wrong and twisted his foot. Immediately, it swelled up but since we had coolers filled with ice and drinks we were able to get a nice cold-pack on it quickly.  It was sore and swollen for the rest of that afternoon and evening, but the park hosts provided us with an ace bandage and that, along with ibuprofen and ice, kept the discomfort to a minimum.

Moving on we discovered a cave in the side of the hill so all of us (except Ben and Granny) jumped out to explore it.  The pictures tell the story better than I can.

Let’s check out that cave!
Grandpa helping Therese
Almost there
Success
What a view

Following that fun, albeit hot and steamy hike we stumbled across a surprise snow-cone stand.  Without a second thought, we overpaid for the luxury of cold, refreshing flavored ice and enjoyed it in the only spot of shade around.

Days like this make me feel like I’m the luckiest person on earth and I’m very thankful to God for the opportunity to have these adventures. I love my family and I love spending time with them.  Even though we were missing several members we had fun with those who could be there.  $$-wise we didn’t spend a whole lot of money but the memories we made – priceless.

I hope this summer you find fun, too.  Even when things don’t go absolutely perfectly.

Carpe Diem!

To all the father’s out there – have a very Happy Day!  And may God bless you and your families.

Painted Churches of Texas: St. Mary’s at High Hill

There is joy in slowing down and relishing the journey.  Preferring to meander and not dash through the weekend we were delighted to experience these amazing, stunning, ornate, intricate and exquisite churches. Attending Mass at St. Mary’s in High Hill, Texas (known as the Queen of the Painted Churches) gave us even more time to slow down and soak in all the beauty.  Indeed, she was a splendor to behold.

I got the distinct impression this parish really loves their barbecue.  Their grills and smokers were some of the largest I’ve seen.  I think I’d like to attend one of their parish picnics!

Next up:  Sts Cyril and Methodius in Dubina, Texas.

Click here to see my post on parishes in Praha, Moravia and St. John.  Click here to see the post on Hostyn and Ammansville.  Each church is stunning.  Enjoy

 

 

Painted Churches of Texas: Praha, Moravia and St. John

No scampering for us as we continued our journey down country roads in search of the next Painted Churches in Texas built by Czech immigrants.

Having started our tour at Queen of the Holy Rosary and St. John the Baptist we meandered down more rural roads in search of our next stop.  We didn’t have to go far since all of the parishes are within a few miles of each other.

St. Mary’s Church in Praha (English for Prague)

The next two churches were only open to guided tours.  Since we were doing self-guided we were not able to go inside.  They were still gorgeous in their simple and quiet surroundings.

Ascension of Our Lord in Moravia

 Looking through glass doors Hubby managed to get a picture of the altar.

St. John in St. John, Texas

Many of the parishes had these wonderful outdoor spaces for gatherings.  What a great concept!

Next up – we attend Mass in High Hill at another church named St. Mary’s and also known as the Queen of the Painted Churches.  You won’t want to miss the beauty!

 

 

Painted Churches of Texas – Hostyn and Ammansville

Mention Texas and the first things that might come to mind are cowboys, horses, oil wells, Tex-Mex and barbecue. Or maybe it’s our love of all things football and our flare for doing things BIG.  While all of that is true it only describes a portion of who we are here in the Lone Star State.

The reality is Texas is very diverse culturally.  And, one of those cultures I recently experienced is the Czech heritage.  I was born in Dallas and have been back in Texas since 1979 and yet, I had no idea what a strong influence Czechoslovakian immigrants had on Central Texas.

First arriving in Texas in the mid-1800’s they built some of the most beautiful European influenced churches I have ever seen.  Who knew Texas contained such amazing dwellings for worship? Still in active use,today they are known as the Painted Churches of Texas.  My mom, having seen a piece on television about them, encouraged us to take a weekend trip and begin exploring.  A total of eight were in the area of Shulenburg which is off of I10 – smack in the middle between San Antonio and Houston.

We were overwhelmed by their beauty and the heritage which has been preserved so lovingly.  For this piece I bring you the first two churches we saw located in the towns of Hostyn and Ammansville

Our first stop was not actually one of the painted churches.  However, we were in the mood to explore and so we followed the signs to see what was what.

We were not disappointed.

The Queen of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Hostyn had something going on and we did not step inside.  That was okay, though, because the outside was enough to make us say, “wow”.

The Lourdes Grotto was the largest.

Smaller grottos dotted the church property.

The cemeteries at each church were similar and different from a typical American style.

From there we went to St. John The Baptist in Ammansville.

As we pulled up we saw a sweet little country church.

The quaint white building gave no hint as to the beauty inside.

The detail was amazing and intricate.

The back of the church – containing the choir loft – was also pretty.

Wandering around this sweet and holy property we were in awe of the magnificence we were experiencing.  Knowing we were at the beginning of the tour we couldn’t wait to see what other beauties were out there.

Tomorrow – St. Mary’s Church of the Assumption in Praha, The Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church in Moravia and St. John’s Catholic Church in St. John, Texas

 

 

 

 

 

The Sacred In My Life

Jesus said to him,“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me  John 14:6

Groom, TX

My faith is more than just Sunday Mass.  It’s keeping sacred every single day the realization of how Jesus suffered and died for me.

Groom, Tx

Along with remembering and rejoicing in His triumphant victory over that death.

Groom, TX

These pictures were taken in the Panhandle of Texas in a town called Groom. The Stations of the Cross are depicted in life like bronze sculptures with a 190 foot tall cross which can be see from 20 miles away.