Thursday, July 23, 2015


Twenty years ago four friends embarked on an adventure. We sponsored a band trip to NYC with two hundred plus teenagers. The "yellow dogs" were boarded...headed first to Washington D. C. to play on the steps of the Capital...then on to New York City to march in the Macy's Day Thanksgiving Parade. That journey logged about seventy-two hours on a school bus. During that time we decided we really liked each other. Thank goodness! Lots of giggling, many memorable moments forged the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Later on the return home we began meeting at Denny's to share pictures. Yes, they had to be developed...and you had to wait! One thing led to trips, movie nights, and before long we planned a get away trip once each summer. 

We have shared graduations, moving kids to college, weddings and sadly divorce. We've buried parents and celebrated the birth of grandchildren. We have laughed and cried together. In the past years we have shared mountain top highs and unspeakable pain. Now we know way too much about each other. We have to be friends. 

So...this year marked the twentieth anniversary of that infamous bus ride. We decided to return to the city where it all began. It was a different trip to be sure. We are different. Older, slower, fluffier, with a few battle scars making the trip a bit more challenging. BUT...we are still the fab four! We know how to laugh and create fun wherever we go. I love these three women. They are the sisters I never had...but surely they are the sisters of my heart. They love me even when I am acting ugly. They know when my heart is broken without me saying one word. They are the first to know when there is news to celebrate. They pray for me...and with me. What a blessing their friendship has
been through the years.  

Me...with Kathy, Donna, and Marsha

The famous fab four foot shot! 

Monday, August 4, 2014

60...the new 50? Nah...60 is really 60!

Just a few days ago I celebrated my 60th birthday! YIKES! That just sounds so stinkin' old. But I feel just the same as I did the day before...and the day before that. I have lived on this planet earth for 60 years. So clearly, it provoked pondering. 

My teen years were like everyones I presume. Uncertain, unclear...child turning into a woman years when everything feels topsy turvy. Toward the end of those years you find yourself making life shaping decisions and mistakes. Check that decade off...believe I will pass on a re-do. What was done was done...

The twenties! Oh, Lord have much excitement. This is the decision/deciding/decided years. What will I do? Where will I go? Who will I marry? Will I marry?  College graduation...sign a contract...move to Hamlin, Texas...share a duplex with a 72 year old woman (can you hear the thrill there?). once again. New town with a new husband...and a new job. Then...three babies in five years. Whew...

The thirties! I don't really remember the thirties. Well, kinda/sort of...but just glimpses. We were mostly exhausted and broke. Episodes of Mr. Rogers and Sesame ducks in the backyard. Hospital stays...and more hospitals stays. Lots of tears, fears, and did I mention we were tired and broke. No...think we can move on...

The forties! Fun forties...healthy kiddos. Watching kiddos move from the goofy years when they are awkward and not really that cute anymore. Teeth too big for their faces...then suddenly grown into themselves...emerging handsome and stunningly beautiful. Life is a blur...coordinating calendars and events, graduations, college dorms, moving...lots of moving. Softball, boy scouts, cheerleading, band...boys...driving...lots of praying. Sigh...

The fifties...a mixture of complete joy and broken hearts. We gained and we lost. The loss of one parent before she died...completely lost to the fog of the cruel disease that robs you of your mind before it takes your body. Loss of another parent due to cancer that creeps in like a thief and steals those you love best...followed quickly by yet another loss of a parent...just passing over after celebrating 92nd birthday.  It is life...but life hurts. Three weddings brought three new faces to the clan. Then in the blink of an eye...we watched as the next generation filled up those empty spaces. Six little grands...The fifties were marked by celebrations...graduations, weddings, funerals, births. I am...60. It seems peaceful here...wiser, stronger, and truly at peace. Possessions, power, or position don't mean so much anymore. People mean more...really they always did. I would do a few things differently...but not too many. Certainly there is less ahead than behind...but praying for good health, good friends, lots of laughter...and Godly grandchildren. Sixty is just fine. I think I like it. I don't think I really have a choice! 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Christmas Outfits...Lessons Learned!

The famous Christmas Outfits! 
In Russell folk lore there is a famous story that we often recall with great affection. This photo is a part of our yearly decorations as a reminder of an object lesson of long ago. Of reminds me of my sweet kiddos...that were adorable then...and amazing now. is also a reminder to each of us in the Russell clan of a Christmas lesson embedded in our hearts forever.

This particular Christmas we were broke. We are always kind of broke. But...that is another story! In November I saw the dresses at a local downtown children's store...Young Fashions. I splurged. I spent money I didn't have on these two adorable (my girls question this even now)  Christmas dresses...and then to make sure Andy was not left out purchased dress pants, shirt and red sweater for him. I was SO excited. I wrapped them and presented the gifts to them as early Christmas presents...knowing they would be worn the entire month of December. To buy clothes to be only worn for one month was truly a luxury...sacrifices were made for those three knuckleheads to look cute! Was it wise? Probably not...but it was my gift to them. And I couldn't wait to see the excitement on their faces.

Well, needless to say...their faces were less than overjoyed when they discovered the early Christmas perfectly wrapped...were clothes. Kids are always underwhelmed with clothes. Their reaction was flippant...ho hum...whatever...kind of an eye rolling moment between front of me. Not one "thanks mom"...or a hug...or any kind of appreciation for the gift that I was so excited about giving them. Now we could stop right here and have a whole lesson on how God must feel when He lavishes us with gifts...and we are flippant! BUT...the story continues.

I was furious. I told them to pack up the clothes. Put them back in the box. You could have heard a pin drop. Once again I told them to pack up the clothes...get their coats and get in the car. NOW. Quietly, the little Russell sprouts gathered their Christmas clothes and headed to the our old mustard colored station wagon. I drove to the most pitiful parts of our little town I knew about. We drove up and down streets...some I had never seen before. I drove slowly. Intermittently I would stop and point to a run down old structure that appeared kids might possibly live there...and I would say, "Do you think the kids that live here will get Christmas clothes this season?" Complete quiet in the back seat. We drove in silence while I slowed down and sometimes stopped for the kids to take in exactly the scene that I wanted them to see...when out of my wandering eye what did appear? Oh was God-thing for sure. Suddenly, on an old over-grown vacant lot there sat an old beat up school bus...with curtains in the windows. It was clear that someone was living in this bus headed to no where. I was as surprised as anyone...but just stopped the car...letting them take in all in. Quietly, I you think kids that live in this bus will get Christmas clothes this year? Sniffling...soft be honest at this point I am sniffling myself. We were all having a moment.

Now during this time in our lives we owned a restaurant called Embers. We drove to Embers for a snack and a visit with Dad. When we walked in it was clear I was with a little band of down trodden kiddos. Jim joined us in one of the old bright orange booths...and asked what was going on. I explained to him about our outing...and why we were on this little trek and what we had observed with a special emphasis on the bus. All three looked at the floor...ashamed. Then little Katie looked up with tears brimming and said, "Daddy, can we take a pie to the people that live in the bus?" Of course...her sweet Daddy replied...he explained to her he would need more information. He told the kids he would ask our local police officer about the family in the bus and we could most definitely take a pie to them. Lesson learned.

The Russell kiddos wore their Christmas clothes that season with grateful hearts. And to my recollection they were never ungrateful again. One time Andy even boldly commented years later...."You better say 'thank you' or my momma will take you for a ride!" OH...and the people in the bus...well, it turned out to be a crack house. The kids never knew...we made a pie...and gave it to Dad to deliver to the bus. The Ember employees had a sweet treat on the Russell kids that year! And the little Russell band of munchkins grew up to be beautiful, grateful children of God.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

It's been too long!

So many life events! Suddenly you check the goodness...grands have multiplied and grown. My sweet Mustache Man and I are growing old! When the blog was started we were living in the sandwich...and now we are very close to being the bread on the top layer! As the circle of life turns...we have lost Jim's mom and dad...and my dad. My mom is the only living parent. Not sure I like being the top layer...sigh.  Other life events have shifted the family...births, divorce, job changes...knees bruised by lots of prayer. But God continues to be faithful and hears our pleas. He sees the beginning and the end...thank goodness.
Here they are...all six! Baby Parker being held by Shelby, Lily Belle, Ansley Kate, and Emma holding Sawyer!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Real Coffee drinkers!

Real coffee drinkers make a POT of coffee in the morning...not one cup at a time. Real coffee drinkers nurse that pot until around noon. We drink about two-thirds of the coffee and then go back for a warm up. Rarely do we drink an entire cup at one sitting. We carry it from random place to random place with us while we cools down...we refill/warm up and carry on! This cannot accomplished with the one shot wonder cups. 

Brewing a whole pot of coffee will fill the home with the delicious smell of morning coffee....without a coffee smelling candle! know what? A real piece of punkin' pie with the real cup of coffee is MUCH better than pumpkin flavored coffee. OR....a real chocolate brownie with your coffee is soooo much better than mocha flavored java. Even better...cook a pan of brownies while brewing a pot of coffee for the ultimate smell...and then eat that warm brownie with that freshly brewed coffee. It won't get much better than that! 

My brother and his sweet wife bought my mustache man and me a good ole' cheap Mr. Coffee coffee pot to use when we visit. Think they figured it might be cheaper than watch us go through dozens of their little creamer sized coffee shots each morning. But then...dadgummit...both of my daughters have succumbed to the one cup wonder craze. We're thinking we need our own traveling pot to take with us from now on. It's certainly not that we don't appreciate the efforts of our hosts. We do...we really do. We love them from the deepest place in our hearts...sigh...but clearly somewhere something is wrong. least they have not fallen the way of Jim's brother and his wife (we love them from that same deep place)...they and even some of their kids now drink HOT TEA! It's just plumb embarrassing! If you live in just can't put your pinkie in the air with those small dainty cups...folks get the wrong idea and think you're from England. 

Well...nuff said. No offense to anyone. I'm gonna go throw some cold coffee in the microwave and heat it up for one more sip before I make a new pot. :) 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Spring Break 2006

The following is an email I wrote in 2006...this was the height of our frustrational times with Papa...many have requested I send it to them decided to post! 
Four generations....Jim holding Shelby, Andy...and Papa! This was taken on Father's Day
...celebrating sweet Dads. 

Sat...uneventful...begin to wind down...looking forward to the glorious week stretching ahead....putter around the house. Jim is under the weather...but goes ahead and teaches a hand gun class at Gander Mountain. Nice to be alone in the house.....ummmmmmmmm!!!!

Sun....go to pick up Papa at Stonebrook....he is surprised I am there. He thought we were in California?????? I have never been to California....don't reckon I am planning to go there....He had called Daisy and she was supposed to pick him up from church. He tells me that his phone is not working ... he fell on his cell phone and broke it. SO....I go to his regular phone...pick it up. It works just fine. I try to catch Daisy at church....can't Bill, her husband...he is about to leave to pick up Papa. I tell him not to come...that I am at Stonebrook. He wonders if we canceled our trip to California?

Mon...Papa is distraught because he says he fell on this cell phone and broke it. Yes, it is REALLY broken into about six pieces. It cannot be repaired. Jim goes to Stonebrook (leaving around 10) takes Papa to get a new cell phone. Before he leaves he has to "fix" the regular phone (that was never broken???) They get to Cingular....they tell him (as we have told him a dozen times) that his cell phone cannot be repaired. we are on a quest for another cell phone. Papa is not thrilled with this idea......he wants his old cell phone repaired. Again....not possible. Finally, they try to get him an older model phone from the back of the store that is a little bigger, bigger buttons, etc. so that he can handle it. need to know that this phone cannot be dressed in the different colored covers that Papa so enjoys. You know how he likes to change the covers to match holidays ...and screw up his phone. Well, he can't play dress up with the new phone....he is not happy!!!! know the Cingular drill...cancel the old contract, deactivate old phone, new contract, activate new phone. Then, patiently, Jim takes him back to Stonebrook, programs all the numbers for him and they have phone lessons! Gets home about 3 that afternoon......weary and frustrated....but it is only Mon after all.......and the promise of the week ahead is still hopeful!

Tuesday.......nine o' rings......Daisy Miller. She is letting us know that Papa has called her and he wants her to come get him so he can take his old phone to Wal Mart so that they can fix it! She wants us to know that he is not happy with his new phone that he cannot work it.....and it is black! Yes, we are aware the phone is black......and NO....Wal Mart cannot fix the old phone.....AND even if they did it has been deactivated....a concept that Daisy is not quite sure about. So....I tell her not to go pick him up....that Jim spent the entire day with him on Mon and what Papa wants does not exist. Daisy gratefully backs out of the phone deal....and is glad to hear we didn't go to California!

While Jim is running a few errands....I get three phone calls from Papa.....letting me know that the phone is not working out. He can't punch the numbers and because it is black he can't see it very well. He tells me that the people at Cingular are waiting for him to get there.....I assure them they are not! When Jim gets home he goes and picks him up and takes him to Cingular to see about trading phones. They wait for two hours......finally get to the lady.....and Papa goes into his big ..."let me tell you about my life" mode. He tells the lady behind the counter that he has had cancer and every week (he had about 5 treatments) for a year he had chemo. The chemo caused him to fall and when he fell he landed on his cell phone this is the good part....are you ready? You will really love this.......he broke his middle two fingers on his left hand! He raised up his middle two fingers and showed them to the lady! Because he has broken those fingers.....he cannot use his pointer finger on his right hand to punch in the numbers on his new cell phone. Well, good Lord! Why didn't he say so in the first place......who knew he had broken his fingers on his left hand.....that explains everything!!!!!!!

Finally, in frustration (because he is not getting his way) he decided he doesn't need a cell phone. God Bless America....Praise the Lord.......Papa without a cell phone....this is wonderful surprise blessing! SO....Jim returns the cell phone...cancels the new contract.....takes him back to Stonebrook. Jim gets home around 4.....goes to the back bedroom, shuts the is dark in there. Around 7 that evening....Papa calls.....he is upset.....his cell phone is broken!!!! Jim tells him....yes, we are aware of that. Papa tells him that a man at Stonebrook fixed his old cell phone for him and now it doesn't work. Jim tries to explain that first of all.....the man probably didn't fix it......but even if he did that old phone is now deactivated. This is just too complicated of a word....they just don't get that.

Wednesday.....around nine o' rings. Who in the hell invented phones anyway? Alexander Graham Bell.....what were you thinking ....wasn't the world better off when we couldn't contact each other so easily. I don't know about you.....but frankly I don't really care if I am in the know every second of the day.
It is Cingular! Yes, it is.....and guess who is there! Papa is at Cingular.....and is about the cross the highway to walk to WalMart.....where they can fix his phone. Then his son (that would be Jim) is going to pick him up there. I asked her how he got there.....she said well, I am assuming that your husband brought him and dropped him off......I said, husband is in the yard. It appears that George dropped him off.....thinking that Papa had already arranged with Jim to be picked up. cannot fix his old cell phone. I told her to NOT let him cross the highway to go to WalMart (I had to think about that one for awhile) SO......Jim went to Cingular to pick up he has decided he does want a new phone! NOW.....are you ready??????? He picked out the first phone that Jim got for him on Monday......YES, HE DID!!!!!! We are in cell phone hell!

Jim tried to explain to him that this was the very phone that they brought back yesterday because he couldn't punch the numbers with his broken fingers.....So Papa said, once again.....just forget the whole thing. I don't want a cell phone if I can't have my old cell phone. Jim takes him back to Stonebrook and about the time they get to Reba's Ranch house.....he changes his mind. Jim just stopped and pulled off the road and put his head on the stirring wheel. He says he just sat there for awhile. This patient God fearing man is about to blow.....I recognize the signs.

They headed back to Cingular....finally, they picked out another phone that is a flip phone.....but Jim thought he could handle it because the numbers are big....and there is a big red button for stop and a big green button for go. It is simpler. Completed more paper work.....took him back to Stonebrook, programmed it again.....and spent awhile in phone lessons followed by a stern home around 4. rings....around 7:30! It is not is Andy.....who is number one in Papa's cell phone list. He and Bobbie got 8 calls from Papa between 5-6 this morning.........just making sure that the new cell phone works. Sometimes they could just hear him eating breakfast......sometimes he would just hang up. Andy wants his name removed......At about 8 I intercepted a call from Papa....Jim is not allowed to talk to him today. Papa just LOVES his new cell phone.......and just wanted us to know.

It is around 10 on Thursday morning.....please don't try to contact us.....we are packing for California!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Daddy Bob Lessons

It is September. Every September I get a lump in my throat about a lot of reflecting, less talking...more listening and thinking. This week marks three years without Dad. It was this week that we spent together on Hospice floor in Abilene...when the world outside seemed far away while Dad slipped away. I miss him. It is now when I return to the blog site...go to the month of September and travel back through time to remember.

I often think of the way he leaned forward as he sat with his big ole' rough hands clasped together...and the way he chuckled. I miss his crusty take on life....his wise words....his politically incorrect... but right on target way of thinking. I just miss Him. He was not much for soft words....but I knew he had a soft spot in his heart for me...and I never ever wanted to disappoint him.

Lesson: My dad was generous. Now if you knew him you would laugh at that statement....because he was VERY tight with money. He was frugal....well...really....just tight! He was a saver...loved a good deal. He loved making a good deal. But...when it really came down to it....he was generous. If  he knew you were in could count on Dad. was the deal. If he gave money to you it was a pay was a gift. He didn't want you to go on and on about it....or even really acknowledge he had given you anything. He was notorious for slipping bills in your pocket and saying..."don't tell momma". Momma didn't care...but I just think he didn't want anybody thinking he had such a tender side.....We often heard from others that he had helped them out. He had a soft spot for folks down on their luck...or folks society had rejected for one reason or another. So he went about doing good secret....and it made it all the more special to those of us on the receiving end. I learned about giving and receiving from my earthly father...which made the giving and receiving of gifts from the heavenly Father all the sweeter.

Lesson: Dad forgave. Make no mistake about it....when we messed up we paid the consequences. Many a time I behaved myself simply out of the fear of the wrath when I got home. It wasn't physical....just a "won't put up with it" authority that kept us in line. Dad separated the silly from the serious....we never wanted to disappoint him. What I really appreciated was when something was was over. Your punishment phase was paid....then done. We didn't re-hash it....discuss it was done. As an adult I have come to appreciate his style more and more. Consequences, Forgiveness...Grace....Forgetfulness....hmmmm once again my Dad modeled for me heavenly qualities. Truthfully, I don't think he knew what he was doing. I doubt he planned to be or do what he was.....I think most parents just do the best they can. I think Dad was just a man of incredible integrity and common sense. He just followed his heart and lived as he believed was right.

Lesson: Dad laughed. He just got the biggest kick out of so many things. He told the best stories....and when he got tickled.....he was so funny. On his death bed....he called Guy and I to come in close....we leaned in expecting some revelation or some words from the heart.....he whispered, "I wanna tell you kids something...." We leaned in closer...."You're gonna have your hands full with your momma!" We pulled back, looked at each other....and all giggled. So much for heartfelt gut wrenching last thoughts. It was really just him.....being him.

Lesson: Dad didn't linger. When Dad knew it was time...he was ready. He didn't want rounds of chemo....he didn't want to fight what he believed was just fighting for a few weeks of sickness....he didn't want to put anybody out. When the doc asked him if he understood what being moved to the Hospice floor meant.....Dad replied, "Let's get on with it!" And...he did. He was ready....he was at peace. What a lesson! Why are we so afraid to go....when we have been promised so much?

Lessons: Generosity, Forgiveness, Laughter....and Dad's legacy! By the way....Dad was not perfect...and he would not want me to make it seem so....he was a forgiven sinner that struggled each day....but that is the point really! :) Can it really be three years?

My first grandbaby! Miss Shelby Grace...

My first grandbaby! Miss Shelby Grace...
Gabby holding Shelby...what a little baby doll!

Second grandbaby! Miss Emma Grace!

Second grandbaby! Miss Emma Grace!
More than I can say "Grace" over... :)


Watering Daddy Bob's tree

Princess Shelby

Princess Shelby
Castles and ponies!

Princess Emma

Princess Emma
Tutus and feathered crowns...