Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

In the spirit of the season, my favorite holiday, five grateful thoughts for today:

  1. I’m thankful for the sweet people in my life. From husband to sister, mother and mother-in-laws, precious friends, nieces, nephews, brothers, fathers and all, I’ve got good folks in my life and I’m so very grateful to have them!

  2. I’m thankful for my job. I have the best students in the world, a team of faculty and staff to lean on when needed and encourage whenever possible and days filled with dance. Sure, some days I might feel like my hair’s on fire, we all have stressful times, but most days, most days it’s just about pouring into students the passion for dance, teaching, and choreography.

  3. I’m thankful for my fur creatures! Yes, truly! Without my shadow, Penny Pup, I’d be a little lost. She gives me so much love and I can’t imagine a day without her by my heels. Those kitties, while they may be persnickety at times, they are without a doubt the best fuzzy motors anyone could ask for, especially my Honey.

  4. I’m thankful for all the great experiences I’ve had this year. Choreographing new works, meeting new performers in new venues, teaching, teaching and more teaching—it all fuels my life. It’s easy to forget in the trenches of work that all the time and efforts comes back ten fold to me, but I remember when those magic moments happen and I’m always grateful for those moments of pure bliss.

  5. I’m thankful for you, dear reader! Whether you’re a friend, family, someone just reading, each time you click on to my site, you help to build my little passion project up and I appreciate those clicks and those comments. Small though it may be, this blog has been a small dream I keep coming back to, way too stubborn to quit even when it feels indescribably frustrating at times. You’re engagement helps and I thank you for that!

Alright y’all, go dive into that turkey, enjoy the game, watch the parade, but most importantly, take a moment to say “thank you!” for the life you have, the blessings around you, and the people you’ve got your in life!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Birthday, Big Sister!

She's a lawyer by trade, but I still say she could have made it as a Mupeteer. She likes a good steak and good red wine, but I happen to know an Arnold Palmer and a Chik-fil-a sandwich will also do the trick. She's the one I know can offer unbiased opinion and see all sides of a story. She's also the one who will fiercely defend her baby sister at a moments notice. 

That's right folks, it's my Big Sister's birthday! So let's wish her a good one! 

Happy Birthday to my Big Sister who, like all good big sisters, is always there.

I love you, Sarah! 

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Great Uncle Wesley

All my life I'd heard about Great Uncle Wesley, my dad's uncle he never got to meet. He was the younger brother of my grandmother, Mother Prebble, and she gave Dad Wesley's middle name, Maldon, a name I still have no clue where they got. I'd seen his happy face in a vintage blue frame, smiling in his army uniform. The picture and his face just seemed to be a part of our daily lives, his story one that we talked about on days like today.  

2nd Lieutenant Wesley M. Green served in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II and worked with the famous Flying Tigers. His plane was shot done and he went missing in action during 1943. That's about all I knew until yesterday. 

My parents started cleaning through old letters and photo albums from Mother Prebble in the afternoon. Dad had some questions about Wesley and he picked Mom's brain a bit--She had listened to a lot of family stories from Mother Prebble and read through all those corresponding letters years ago. Plus, her mind is like a steel trap when it comes to family history. I can thank my mother for all the help on family tree projects growing up! 

In any case, I wandered into the room to listen to some of the letters and by the evening I was interested in seeing what other information was available online. After all, it's 2017. What isn't posted out there nowadays? So I asked my dad to look up some info about  General Claire Lee Chennault of the Flying Tiger Fame and his time in China between 1942 and 1943. Great Uncle Wesley served under his command and between General Chennault's history and some of the letters and dates we had, we were able to start searching a little more deeply into the webs of the internet. 

Wesley was a navigator for a B24  of the 425th Bomb Squadron, the 308th Bombardment Group in Kunming, China. My family always knew the basic information about Wesley's job and where he was and the day he died, August 24th, 1943, but we never knew what his mission was that turned out to be so fateful. That was our biggest question: what happened? 

Our search began. All we had to go off of were the letters Wesley had sent, pictures of him and his crew, correspondence with the other families missing their men and the telegram about Wesley missing in action. Wesley was declared deceased in November of '44, a year and a couple months after he went missing. His remains were identified in '46 and kept in Hawaii with his other crew members until '49 where they moved him to be reburied in his hometown of Wellington, Texas. He was one of four they were able to identify out of ten men, his dog tags were blessedly on him. 

Wesley sent his last letter to his sister on August 21st, 1943, which turned out to be a pretty bloody day for his station. Apparently a fleet of Liberators from Chengkung went to bomb Hankow that same day he wrote. See, these men were in charge of fighting off the Japanese by bombing trade routes, docks, airfields, coal yards, and more. Their purpose was to keep the Japanese from invading China by supporting Chinese ground forces. The history of this group is fascinating and it really opens your eyes to all the moving parts of this war. 

On August 21st, the Liberators went out on their mission with a promise of an escort of fighters to flank them. The escort was unable to join.  The Liberators made the decision to continue on with the mission, but where attacked by 60 Japanese fighters on their way back and lost all but one of their planes. This is where Wesley's story comes in; Three days later, in an attempt to destroy a supply line and avenge the deaths of their fellow men, Wesley's flight crew and six other planes were dispatched on a mission to bomb Hankow.  Wesley was to fly with his crew of ten in the plane, "938," unnamed since it was so new it hadn't been given a name yet. 

On their way, four P-40's flanked the grouping, saluted, and then flew ahead never to be seen again. After dropping their bombs on an airfield, the planes began making their turn to head back having accomplished their mission when a swarm of Japanese fighters came upon them. 

Wesley's plane was struck first. Three men from "938" parachuted out, no one knows who they were, before the plane began to smoke and spin out of control. The rest of the men and planes experienced what I can honestly describe as a harrowing experience.

At this moment I can turn your attention to the story published on History.net, originally in the Aviation Journal back in 2008. This article gave us this information from a firsthand account of 1st Lieutenant John T. Foster written by his son, Alan Foster. Lt. Foster was in one of the seven planes that left for this mission and survived. Out of the 73 men that went out on that mission, only 11 returned home.  

Without this article, we would still be wondering what happened to Wesley, what his mission was, where he was going, and why he perished over Hankow. I'm so glad we were able to read about it in detail, although the details are heartbreaking, to say the least. At some moments it seems as if you're reading a great story from a novel until it hits you that this is real. Real men were on those planes fighting for their country and had families, loved ones waiting for them to come home. This was a real man's history, not a fictitious character in a book, but a smiling face in a blue frame sitting atop his sister's piano.  

Wesley had wanted to share details with Prebble and his family but couldn't and wrote secret hints for her to figure out where he was going. He often referenced how much he wanted to tell her of his adventures. Sadly, he never got the chance and we never knew why until now. Wesley was a beloved brother, a light in his family's life with a good sense of humor, a star athlete, and a smart man with a bright future. What else I know about Wesley is that he wanted to serve his country and that his mission was important enough to risk his life for our freedoms. 

Mom read this account out loud with my dad and I wide-eyed in amazement, sometimes tearing up. Wesley's story is finally known and it's sobering to think this is only one of many for families across the US. 

Many men and women have laid down their lives in order for us to have the freedoms we have here in this country and continue to have today. Without the brave services of men and women like Wesley, I can't begin to think of what a world that would be. I do know that I am incredibly thankful for his services and his lineage. 

Home of the Free Because of the Brave. 

Happy Memorial Day to All!

May you remember the ones who have served this country bravely and given their lives so that we may live freely. 

 

Thank you, Alan Foster, for publishing the detailed description of your father's account. This story brought an answer to a question we'd wondered for years and more importantly, it closed a chapter left open since 1943. 

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Happy Birthday, Dad!

To the guy who drove me to a million dance classes, carried my dance duffle bag, helped move props and took part in Dad/Daughter dances...

In true Texan form, Dad still wears his nice boots out of fancy occasions. 

In true Texan form, Dad still wears his nice boots out of fancy occasions. 

To the CPA who suffered with me through every math class and patiently listened while I re-created the entire accounting system in college (I still think I could make it SO much easier for folks)...

Here he is, patiently waiting for me to figure this accounting stuff out...the right way. 

Here he is, patiently waiting for me to figure this accounting stuff out...the right way. 

To the man who has helped paint closets, move furniture, mulch leaves, and love my pup...

Dad says, "There's no special bond here." 

Dad says, "There's no special bond here." 

I beg to differ! So would Penny. Just sayin'. (Poor quality picture--It was a sneaky photo documenting Dad's uber fondness for Penny.)

I beg to differ! So would Penny. Just sayin'. (Poor quality picture--It was a sneaky photo documenting Dad's uber fondness for Penny.)

To the dad who stands up for me, supports my dreams, answers every dumb tax question, and still comes to every show...

Dad cheesin' pretty hard. 

Dad cheesin' pretty hard. 

Happy Birthday! 

And awfully big thank you, too! I think you're pretty rad, Dad, and I hope you have an awesome day! I'm glad we get to celebrate another year of hot cups of coffee and you! 

Love you! 

Thanks, Dad, for doing all those Dad/Daughter dances and for relearning one for my wedding. It meant the world.   Photo by Apryl Ann Photography

Thanks, Dad, for doing all those Dad/Daughter dances and for relearning one for my wedding. It meant the world. 

Photo by Apryl Ann Photography

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Love Him

Just a heads up, this one a little mushy...

Thankful Thought #11

11. I'm thankful for my husband. I really am. He can drive me crazy sometimes like when I can't get him to focus on one topic for long or when he gets so impassioned about something his ears turn off or when he leaves dishes in the sink. It's all part of his charm, really. Plus, I know I do some things that drive him nuts, too, and I'll be the first to admit that.

But what I love is that he really cares for me and my wellbeing and he does take time to listen and understand my concerns or points of view. He is a compassionate man who genuinely wants to help, who thinks beyond his own needs, just really selfless. He challenges me in so many ways but it pushes me to take a stance, have a stronger say and I feel more confident in my opinions and beliefs. 

He knows what to say when I need to hear it and he's always trying to crack a joke to keep it light. We balance each other out and I appreciate that we're both willing to learn more about the other's interest. I've sat in a stand and yeah, I've even gotten a spike--the truth is I've enjoyed being more of a outdoor girl with him. It's a whole new world! He equally will sit through shows, listen to my creative ideas, and even offer help. I think he legitimately thinks he can help my budding choreography students but dang if he doesn't actually nail it on the head! He's helped me design props and sets for my future shows and it makes me really happy to know he shares in my dreams.

We're a good fit and I don't think I could have dreamed up a better guy. He's everything I ever wanted and everything I never knew I needed. Today I'm just extremely grateful to have him by my side.  

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Magnolia

The first musical I was ever in was "Showboat" and I fell in love with it completely. How much more of a southern name can you get than Magnolia? PS, those flowers are gorgeous! I would love to have a magnolia tree in my backyard some day. But I'm not writing about about a flower or character today. No m'am sir! I'm talking about the Magnolia Market in Waco, Texas! 

My big sister came up with this brilliant plan to hop down to Waco for a day trip and see what all the excitement was about. A quick group text between Mom and our Aunt Diana and the whole thing was set! 

Dad saw us off with a big breakfast at Le Madeline (Thanks, Dad!)!. 

We all piled into my car and off we went! 

A short two hour drive and a trolley ride and we were there! I'll admit, I don't actually watch Fixer Upper--I'm afraid I'll dive down a demolition hole I won't be able to recovery from. All the ideas for redo's will be too much for my poor husband right now!  I've enjoyed reading about Joanna and Chip Gaines and I certainly liked their style.  Without being a huge fan of the show, I didn't know what to expect from this place but I figured it out pretty quick! 

We made it! Upon seeing this picture I'm starting to seriously consider getting a selfie stick...

We made it! Upon seeing this picture I'm starting to seriously consider getting a selfie stick...

Here's what to expect: people. Lots and lots of people! The lines inside the actual marketplace were long and it was wall to wall people. As soon as you saw something of interest, it was snatched up by a quickly moving shopper. Just when you thought said item was gone, a store clerk had already replaced it. The way that place operated was amazing! 

Of course the merchandise was incredible, farm house and rustic looking, very much the in style and one I like a lot. I kept wandering around taking it all in, trying to remember what I could do to improve my own home decor. 

We didn't really stick around long in the market place for too long. It's definitely not a spot you can linger and peruse for while; it's a hot spot with tons of folks wanting to make their purchases quickly. 

There were several food trucks that lined the inside of the marketplace with all sorts of decadent options including a small trailer for their bakery. Excellent cupcakes! 

We had a peanut butter chocolate cupcake and split the lemon lavender, a sweet surprise we all really enjoyed! 

The coolest part of this place is the giant lawn full of corn hole games, soccer balls and footballs, and even several swing sets. Kids were running around playing, men throwing footballs back and forth and everyone of all ages jumped on the swing sets. They had great big porch swings out where cute couples cozied up on and picnic tables with black and white stripped covers full of people savoring their lunches and treats. 

We took a tour through the garden, incredibly beautiful. Nature is already amazingly beautiful but what people can do and what they put together using gorgeous herbs and plants, I'm amazed all over again!  

Cutest little fairy gardens! 

Cutest little fairy gardens! 

It was such a fun experience and we all had a great time spending the day together in a cool hub. I'm sure some day I'll want to go back but I'm looking forward to the next adventure, Pioneer Woman's Mercantile store in Pawhuska, OK!

Overall, one awesome girls trip to Waco! Can't wait for the next one! 

Thankful Thought #10

10. I'm really glad that I'm just a drive away from family. I can hop in the car and spend a couple days with the people I love and get back home without much more than a traffic issue. Not many people live close enough to do that so I'm pretty thankful for that.  

Got a place you're dying to take a day trip to see? 

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Little Piece of Home

I'm a total transplant here in OKC. I've really learned to love the city in the last ten years and I've seen it change and grow in some pretty awesome ways like seeing the Thunder come to OKC--boy, was that huge!--and seeing the small businesses just boom. You want a really cool place to eat or shop that's got some local flavor? It's here, baby, and it's all good! 

I love that it's a big city without being overwhelming. Sure, I grew up in the Dallas area, but I wasn't living downtown my whole life. Hello! Suburban kid much? Long ago my dream was to move to NYC and take up residence as another hopeful dancer hitting every audition I could find. It took me a couple of trips and a lot of soul searching to realize that was too big of a place for me and that dream just didn't fit the same any more.  

It's really interesting to find out things about yourself you never knew before (Yes, I did just end this sentence in a preposition. English Teacher Mother, please forgive.). For example, my lifelong desire to live a big, busy life suddenly showed me how much I wanted a steady, slower pace. That was a door in the face. Did NOT see that coming and truth  be told, I was a tad disappointed in myself that I couldn't "just do it," make the move and get comfortable with it. It's like my heart kept shouting out,  "this is not what you want! Just listen to me for a moment and quit trying to force it to happen!" So much racket in my head and an aching heart slowed my roll and gave me serious pause to consider what I really wanted and needed. 

To make a long story short, through a series of surprising and happy accidents, I ended up back in a city I did a lot of growing up in during college. And you know what? It turned out fine. In fact, it turned out to be what I really needed. Plans change, dreams do, too, and I think it's part of growing up, learning to be okay with that especially if you're like me, someone whose harbored a dream since childhood.

In recent days I've come to the realization that all my successes don't have to be in my twenties (Well, I just added thirties to that because that number is coming around the corner too soon!). I've got my whole life to make new dreams and see them through. I'm not too old--please, loving older adults in my life, don't laugh at that line. At one time I could not see what would happen in life after about 25 and I'm pretty far past that now so I have figured out, yes, life does go on past mid-twenties. I just had this idea that I had to have everything happen while I was young. Not really the case. Such a simple thought but resolving that in my head has been SUCH a struggle. 

Okay, back to the point of this post. I can't call myself an Okie yet--I just don't know that will ever happen. BUT, being in Oklahoma sure did make me proud of something I totally took for granted: being a Texan.

I love my home state. I'm pretty proud of it and I'm glad that's a part of who I am. I love my tall Texan man, his boots, accent, and easy going way. I love true Tex Mex, salsa goes on just about everything and how Texas is mentioned in almost every country song. How 'bout them Cowboys, y'all? I've learned more about whitetail deer and Texas hunting season than I ever thought I'd have to know. I love the bluebonnet fields in the spring and big blue skies in the summer. I love how massive the state really is and that you don't have to ask if people are from Texas. They'll just straight up tell you the moment they meet you. 

Best of all, I love that my family is all down there. I can move anywhere and it won't change the fact that when I say "home," I mean the Lone Star State. So I might be transplant whose big city dreams changed and dropped me in another panhandle state, but this girl will always have Texas in her heart. It's in my roots, part of my blood, and a definite part of who I am.

Now, I feel like I need to smoke a brisket, whip up a bowl of queso, and pop open a Shiner. Whose with me? 

Last trip home I stopped at  Nan Lee  in downtown McKinney and picked up this sweet sterling silver souvenir. I wear it as a reminder of home and keeping those I love close to my heart.  

Last trip home I stopped at Nan Lee in downtown McKinney and picked up this sweet sterling silver souvenir. I wear it as a reminder of home and keeping those I love close to my heart.  

Where are you from and why are you proud of your state? Got something that makes your heart go pitter pat for your home state? Share it! 

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Sister, Sister, Sister Time!

This last weekend my Big Sister came into town for a quick trip! I always enjoy spending time with her and I adore her little munchkins to no end--my little niece has been bitten by the dance bug and I can't help but love that about her. My mom and I went in on dance lessons for her last year and this year and it's a gift I'm happy to pass on. 

What was I talking about?

Oh, right! My sister coming to town! Well, in any case this was a more special trip because was just Big Sister, not kiddos in tow. That kind of visit is really rare and I enjoyed every minute! I took her to Empire Slice House for a giant New York thin sliced dinner, complete with fresh salad and red wine. We hopped over to Pie Junkie--a  must if you come to OKC ever--and enjoyed taste testing four different kinds of a pie.

A big breakfast the next day with Pyro Man topped off the trip before she had to whisk back to Texas. Short, but definitely sweet. I can't wait for her to come back again! 

Yes, in about every picture you see I'm donning that super cheesy grin. It's because I'm so happy to have my super cool Big Sister up here! 

Got any siblings you love spending time with? What's your favorite thing to do together?

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Happy Mother's Day!

Wishing a very happy Mother's Day to all my precious mothers out there!

I'm lucky to have two sweet mother-in-law's who are always a joy to be with and always so supportive! I've got a great sister-in-law who made me an aunt and showed me how much fun little boys can be--and how any oil can fix just about anything. I've also got precious aunts who are so much fun! These are the women who shared their love of outdoors, how to pitch in on projects, and what good food and a good beer can do for the soul! 

I'm always missing Grandma, but I certainly miss her today with all her sunshine and wisdom--she was a pretty spunky woman with a lot of happiness to share! I'm grateful every day to be her granddaughter. I've got a wonderful sister who just welcomed her second bundle of love into the world. I'm so grateful to be Nannie JuJu to her kiddos and all that comes with: play time, story reading, hair braiding, and dance classes. 

Most of all, I'm grateful for my own mother. I'm grateful for the phone conversations, the funny moments, even the frustrating ones, and all the special projects we do. I thankful you passed down your love of list making, calendars, napkin ideas, and baking. Man, did that organization skill set ever come in handy! You're wicked awesome sewing skills gave me formal dresses I loved, dance costumes tailor made for me and my imagination, and the most perfect wedding gown I could have ever imagined. 

I love that you passed that gene for teaching down even when I swore that's not what I wanted to do as a kid. You always supported me for any idea I had and helped me research to figure out how to make it happen. Nothing was impossible so long as you could ask questions and keep asking questions to find all the possible answers to a burning desire. It's why I ended up going to the school I wanted to go to and earn the degree I never knew existed. It's why I got to dance my whole life and actually make a living doing it. Someone, my mother, believed in my dreams enough to say, "let me help" when she could have said, "try something more realistic." 

Happy Mother's Day, Mom! In short, you're a wonderful and I love you with all my heart!

Je t'aime beaucoup! 

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Porch Swing Mornings

Hot cup of coffee in hand, I slid open the backdoor and stepped out to great the cool morning. It felt like spring. I pulled my fuzzy white robe just a little tighter and shuffled in my slippers to my little porch swing. I watched sky turned from shades of pink to a faint, soft blue as steam floated from cup and felt it gently warm my face. Little birds chirped in the trees while Penny snuffled around the yard. Closing my eyes, I almost felt like I was in Lubbock in Grandma's backyard and maybe if I waited long enough, she'd be there with me, too. 

I think of my grandmother a lot. Truly I don't think there's a day that doesn't go by that I don't think of her in some small way, but this morning I felt like I had recreated a moment with her, as if she was right there. All I needed was the rustling of a newspaper to complete the memory. 

Her first swing, before the backyard turned into an arboretum. 

Her first swing, before the backyard turned into an arboretum. 

Every time we went to visit her in Lubbock, she'd always start her morning with a cup of coffee and time in her backyard. That backyard was truly a secret garden, a child's fantasy land full of flowers galore! When you opened the back screen door and hopped off the concrete slab, you could hear her chimes singing as you hopped down her rock-laid path to the hidden back porch swing. She grew beautiful vines and flowers that covered her wooden haven and a water fountain would be trickling just to it's right. It always felt like a some secret woodland place, gorgeous and flourishing, and as a kid I just knew some sort of fairy would peek around a flower pot sometime. 

There are lots of memories from my grandmother's house, but I think just about everybody will think on how she was the first one up enjoying the daybreak with a cup of coffee in hand. That's how she started her day and ended it, enjoying the outdoors. Every visit I always wanted to be up with her, be the first one to race outdoors and meet her on the swing, read the comics while she read the news. That was a time for just talking, chatting about nothing, hearing her sing as she patted your leg and rocked back and forth.

I can see her in her beautiful caftan, the one with the blue and red peacock trimmed in gold and a tiny apple pinned at the neck. She always threw that over her pj's in the morning with her little brown sandals, colorful toes poking out the top. Her red hair would still be a little fuzzy, curled about her soft face. I can see her leaning back, legs crossed and newspaper wide open, just swinging. 

I could have let Penny out, crawled back in bed or curled up on the couch. I could have missed watching the sunrise and break over the backyard, like I do most days. But I guess I was missing her today and I guess I needed to find a little peace in my soul. I never really asked her why this was her morning ritual and I don't think I needed to. I think it was time used for whatever you needed, peace, thought, rest, recharge.

Whatever it meant to Grandma, those moments turned out to mean a lot to me. I'm just glad she shared those moments with her family; she passed on more than she ever knew just sitting on a porch swinging welcoming the day. 

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