Thursday, April 24, 2014

Garden Party

If winter was far too long for you,
and you still haven't gotten enough springtime to make you forget, 
have I got a treat for you.

A little north of the Dallas metroplex ... 
just outside of McKinney ...
near the town of Anna ...
on top of a hill ...
is a private iris garden that will melt all the ice
from your over-wintered, ready for spring heart.

 The garden is the labor of love of Martha McDowell, 
whose family has owned the property for over 100 years.
She'll meet you on her four-wheeler for a chat when you arrive, 
and encourage you to sign her guest book before you leave.

The iris garden is Mrs. Martha's yard ... and you're genuinely welcomed to meander all over it.
She's happy to just let you wander,
or tell you about her home and her garden,
and offer her wisdom about the beautiful things she grows here.
She's truly delighted to share her little piece of lovely with you.

When I thanked her for sharing her garden with us,
she mentioned that someone said to her recently,
 "You should charge admission for this!"
And her reply reflects her generous heart, "oh, no ... that would take all the joy out of it."

I asked her if she had a favorite iris, and it was clearly an impossible question to answer.
So many varieties and colors ... it's probably best just to love them all.

When my sister invited us to accompany her,
I counted this a field trip and brought the kids along, 
not sure if they would really appreciate it or if it would be one of those,
"Moooooooom, when are we leeeeeeeeaving?" experiences.

But even they were completely charmed by the garden,
and by Mrs. Martha herself and her joy in sharing her place.

We enjoyed the creative names for all the different iris varieties.  

But our favorite name was ...

I watched Nathan intent on photographing something ...

it was a bunny - with a garden address better than Peter Rabbit.

The view from the back of the property is beautiful -
you can see for miles over the rolling hills.

We love our bluebonnets in Texas, and they're in full bloom everywhere.

But the show stoppers in this garden are the irises ...

I tried to pretend I was an iris judge,
and pick the prettiest one.


This feat is not for the faint of heart.

Because each variety has its own special charm.

And you fall in love again with each one.

We spent about two hours just making our way
from beautiful flower to beautiful flower.

I loved this one, with its delicate coloring ...

But my personal favorite was called Beat the Heat;
it's drop dead gorgeous.

I wonder if irises are easy to grow?
Mrs. Martha sure makes it look easy.
If you'd like to visit Martha's Iris Garden at Luscombe Farm,
you're invited!
They'll be open for the 2014 season through April 29,
with over 750 varieties of iris in bloom.

The address is
1400 County Road 366
Anna, Texas

Martha's Iris Garden isn't the only thing on this hilltop -
across the road is Luscombe Farm Specialty Foods,
offering event hosting, gourmet gift baskets,
and delicious lunches by reservation.
We'll head over there next - it's a gorgeous event venue!

Find the Luscombe Farm Specialty Foods page on Facebook }here{

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter in Hot Springs

I hope you had a wonderful Easter Weekend! 
We spent the weekend with LtDan's family in beautiful Arkansas.  
The dogwoods were in bloom, and there were wisteria vines everywhere ...
such a lovely time to get away.  

We spent Saturday morning on Central Avenue, 
enjoying a stroll down bathhouse row and browsing through fun shops.
We came thisclose to having an Old Time photo taken, 
but opted to keep going.  
It's hard to talk a bunch of boys into having their picture taken, have you noticed?

We checked in with Zoltar and remembered how great the movie Big is. 

You can always find lots of carved figures for sale ...  

because, after all, it's Arkansas.

We saw the tiniest, cutest puppy ever.

And we reminisced in front of the Thompson Building, where LtDan's grandparents lived for many years
and his grandfather managed the building.  
It's the prettiest building on Central Avenue, I think.

My favorite store on Central Avenue is Earthbound Trading Company.
It's pretty much guaranteed to bring out your inner hippie.

The kids enjoyed ice cream cones and made a new friend.
I don't know why my nephew isn't smiling.
He should be happy.  He's having ice cream with Al Capone.  

Saturday afternoon we gathered at my in-law's house ... I've written about this haven before }here

The Rocky Retreat is sure to bring on inner peace.

I'm sure I found a T-Rex skull.  
Or maybe a dragon's.  
It's obviously friendly. 

We celebrated Easter on Sunday together at church, 
had a lovely meal and spent the afternoon on the front porch ... 

feeling very joyful that spring is here and that He is risen, indeed.
How was your Easter?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Last Day

We're members of a homeschool co-op, and 
Friday was our last day for the semester.  

On the last day,
the kids are always happy, but kind of sad ... 
and the moms are always sad, but kind of happy.

When we started homeschooling more than 15 years ago, 
the most common question people asked was,
"What about socialization?"  

Attending a co-op made answering that question a lot easier,
and it's brought us 10 years of great classes 
and memories and friends
for our whole family.

So Friday was another last day.  
We had a performance expo during lunch, mostly for the little guys.
It's one of my favorite parts of the semester.
It's a chance to put on your best dress and take your place on stage.  

My favorites are invariably the four year olds.
I always secretly hope there is one who cannot suppress their inner star.
They rarely disappoint :o)

Gymnastics ... tumbling and cartwheels and the big finish ... just adorable.

The speedstacking class impressed us with their rapid-fire speedstacking.

The recorder class rocked it ... they're always so sweet and sincere.  

Service award certificates were given to several deserving students. 

The Yearbook Staff had a photobooth.

In Texas History, the students gave laid back and fun reports
on how their families first came to the great state of Texas.

While I graded the last homework papers, my Institute in Excellence for Writing co-teacher
finished up a great year of writing class 
with our enthusiastic and gifted and delightful 3rd through 5th graders.

And we closed the books on another semester of the Cashflow class, where I heard things like,
"I only need $10,000 to get out of the Rat Race!" and "Where are 1 million dollar bills?" all semester long.

In addition to the many practical applications they learned from playing the game, 
the two lessons I hope the kids from Cashflow class take with them are: 
"Always pay your bills on time" - so they'll never have to worry about their credit scores, 
and "Be awesome now!" based on }this{ awesome blog post by Jon Acuff.  
One of my students did a semester wrap up for me on the whiteboard ... 

On the way home, my kids were happy, but a little bit sad.
I was sad, but a little bit happy.
It was a good last day.