Tag Archives: JJ

Rainbow Connection

Sylvia acts out with T-bird for a photo I texted to JJ and Grace, who have moved.

While I was sitting with my fab, long-time neighbors Sylvia and T-bird last Friday evening on T-bird’s driveway, an odd thing happened: The sprinklers suddenly turned on. Most people irrigate in the early-morning hours, but for some reason, these sprinklers were set to go off later. Right next to us.


As we jumped up and moved our chairs, I noticed that there was a rainbow where the sprays from two sets of sprinklers were converging. Naturally, I whipped out my iPhone 4S and snapped a photo.

Getting wet was well worth it!

Saying Goodbye to Our Dear Next-Door Neighbors

JJ the organizational whiz tries to brainwash the #2 son into liking her alma mater, the University of Kansas.

We’re extremely fortunate that we live in a close-knit subdivision in our master-planned community, which is marathon distance southwest of Houston. We not only know most of our neighbors, but we like them, too. They’ve got our back, and we, of course, have theirs.

Most of us have lived in our neighborhood for at least a decade, and we’ve watched each other’s kids growing up. When the weather is nice, we like to sit outside together and revel in the comfortable feeling that comes with warm, genuine friendship.

The neighbors crowd around JJ and Bill as they look at photos.

Last Sunday that friendship was once again on display, but this time it had a bittersweet tinge to it. Our dear, cherished next-door neighbors—JJ the organizational whiz, her husband Bill, and their kids Lindsey (a sophomore at the University of Kansas) and Michael (who graduates early from high school this week and will attend KU next fall)—are leaving our little nest. They’re moving back to Kansas City, Kansas (JJ already is there to set up their new house a mile from her mom and one of her brothers). Back to family and old friends. Back to being close to their beloved alma mater.

Bill and JJ check out a local wine in their Remember Texas bag.

We’re happy that they’re going back to the comforts of home after what’s been a very difficult year. A year that started with so much promise for them became one of shock as JJ’s much-loved father, Dick Jones, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in the spring and sadly passed away in October. No one can blame them for feeling the tug from their other favorite state.

Grace photographs her three girls with JJ and Bill.

But no one can blame us for wanting at least a few more years with such wonderful neighbors. Living next door to them for almost 11 years has been terrific! We’ve talked a lot, laughed even more, and shared lunches, dinners, tears, getting toilet paper out of their trees, highs, and lows. Our #1 son and Michael, who are the same age, became good pals in elementary school and had great fun together before drifting apart. We’ve relished the chance to watch Michael and Lindsey growing up to be fine young adults.

Marcel, Bill, the Mister, and Vic stand around.

I remember one Saturday years ago when we were taking the boys and Michael to see “Snow Dogs.” All of a sudden, JJ and Bill popped into our minivan. They wanted to see it, too!

The Mister, who owns a box company, inspects the moving boxes.

That’s what I’ll miss most about our neighbors moving: That sense of spontaneity. I loved it when I would call JJ or she would text me wanting to go to lunch at the spur of a moment. Can’t do that now . . . KC is a little too far to meet up at Chipotle or Quizno’s. I’ll also miss the heart-to-heart talks and discussing our hopes and fears when it came to our kids. Oh, and those catty chats, too! We did sharpen the nails a time or two!!

The ever-shy JJ and the #2 son hug goodbye.

Fortunately, in this day and age it’s so easy to stay in touch. E-mail and Facebook can’t replace that day-to-day contact, but they do take the sting out of moving away from long-time friends. They’re the next best thing to being there!

JJ, Bill, and their kids will always be in our hearts. JJ and I are forever friends; our destinies always will intertwine. I hope we never lose that sense of closeness that we’ve felt since March of 1999 when we first met on my driveway. I knew in an instant that she was someone I’d always want to be friends with.

Surprising weather news catches JJ off guard!

I sure hope JJ feels the same way when I text her every day this winter about how much warmer it is here while she’s freezing her butt off in Kansas City!

Running for a Reason

My dad in 1969

My dad in 1969

In 1986, my parents were driving from their former home in Virginia to their new abode in the Los Angeles area where my father had gotten a new job. When they got to L.A., my mother called me and said that my dad hadn’t been feeling well, and that she had driven part of the way.

Ever have warning bells go off like mad in your head? That’s what happened to me when I heard the news. My father NEVER let my mom drive. It didn’t matter if they were going a mile down the road or cross country. He was the master behind the wheel. I immediately knew something was wrong.

A few months later I got the frightening call from my mom: My father, at age 57 (a year older than I currently am), had been diagnosed with leukemia. Back then he was too old to qualify for a bone marrow transplant, so his prognosis was bleak.

At first I went through the range of emotions that affect most of us when we hear that one of our important loved ones is terminally ill. But then I got busy. I had been running avidly since 1978, but I only had participated in 5Ks (3.1 miles) and 10Ks (6.2 miles). I decided in the fall of 1986 to train for and run the Houston Marathon the following January in honor of my dad and to encourage him in his fight against leukemia.

I finished my first marathon in January of 1987. My dad, who was touched by my efforts, passed away in March of 1991, almost a year before my #1 son was born. I ran a four-mile race right after he died, and I still can remember crying away the miles.

I’ve finished several Houston marathons since then, but I’ve switched to the half-marathon distance, because it’s so much easier to train for and complete. I haven’t trained for a marathon since 2001, and I only miss those 26.2 miles when I’m watching marathoners finishing. Ah, but then I remember the hours of running and the aching muscles and the agony of mile 23, and I’m glad that Houston started its half-marathon tradition in 2002.

Dick Jones celebrates his birthday.

Dick Jones celebrates his birthday in happier times.

But then my next-door neighbor JJ the organizational whiz’s father, Dick Jones, was suddenly diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma this past spring. It has been a tough, hard battle for him . . . kind of like a marathon. And that got me thinking (always dangerous for me!)—I need to draw inspiration from Mr. Jones’ fight as well as try to encourage him and help raise money for a cause. Why not train for and complete the January 17th Chevron Houston Marathon in his honor?


Fortunately, the Chevron Houston Marathon has a long-standing Run for a Reason charity fundraising program. I’ve signed up to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), and I hope my readers will help me inspire Mr. Jones. Here is the link to my fundraising page: Run for a Reason. Let’s show Mr. Jones that he is not alone in his war against this dreaded disease.

In addition to running for Mr. Jones, I also will run in memory of those who have died of leukemia: My father; my stepfather, Earl; my friend Karen R.’s brother, Ron Kalteyer; and my neighbor Tami’s father; as well as my cousin, Lisa, whose life was cut short by non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I hope to gain strength along the route from all of them.

Please join me in my efforts to raise money to help find a cure for blood cancers. I’ll do the running; I hope that you’ll support me by contributing to this worthy cause.

Let’s fight along with Mr. Jones!

Bubble Bear

He's forever blowing bubbles!

He's forever blowing bubbles!

Let’s file this under my It Doesn’t Take Much to Amuse Me category, shall we?

When we were in Kansas City last week, the Mister and I took time out to drive to the University of Kansas, home of the Jayhawks and four generations of my next-door neighbor JJ the organizational whiz’s family (daughter Lindsey is about to start her sophomore year there).

The Mister poses with a random Jayhawk.

The Mister poses with a random Jayhawk.

As we drove around the lovely campus (almost as lovely as my alma mater, the University of Illinois), we stopped to snap random photos.

Sidebar: I Googled to see what in the world a “jayhawk” was. Apparently, it’s a mythical bird found all over the KU campus!

Coach Phog Allen

Coach Phog Allen

JJ’s wonderful father, the temporary Texan, has been battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at MD Anderson’s cancer center here in Houston. I texted JJ and asked where his favorite spot was on campus. She told me it was Allen Fieldhouse, home of KU’s stellar basketball teams. So the Mister and I headed there.

In front of the statue of legendary basketball coach Phog Allen, frozen in time as he guards the fieldhouse and hexes opposing teams like my beloved Fighting Illini, I offered up a prayer that the temporary Texan be able to once again walk along the campus and watch his cherished Jayhawks. And I hope the timing for that isn’t as long as the preceding sentence!

We then moved to the campus town area to eat lunch. And that’s where I saw the bubble bear doing his thing outside of a toy store. Glad I had my Nikon D300 and Nikon 24-120mm lens ready for action!

Pretty bubbles in the air!

Pretty bubbles in the air!

Beary cute!

Ten-Minute Tasking Tuesday


family room clutter chair

One of the websites I enjoy reading is Lazy Moms. Last Friday on the Lazy Mom website, Amanda and Leslie set out the idea of doing manageable 10-minute tasks. I actually think that even I, someone with severe stay-at-home-mom ADD, could stay focused for that long. So here’s my first 10-minute task: the clutter chair in the family room. I cringe every time I pass that darned chair, not that it makes me jump right in and clear the clutter. Much better to do my best Scarlett O’Hara imitation . . . “I’ll think about that tomorrow!”

I’m hoping to have a good “after” photo to show tomorrow. And I’ll try my best NOT to just move all the clutter to the matching chair next to it. And I’ll do my best to put away, recycle, donate, or toss everything on the chair. Scout’s honor!

Receipts stack update


Here’s what the receipts stack looked like yesterday before I pulled out the receipts I need to look through (and if you’re wondering if I’ve completed this particular task yet, then you really don’t know me at all). The blue accordion folder? That’s for the 2009 receipts, as recommended by my ridiculously well-organized neighbor, JJ. I don’t pretend that actually using the folder all year will put me anywhere close to the same organizational atmosphere as her (as we’ve learned in science, the “JJsphere” is smack dab between the stratosphere and mesosphere), but it might allow me to revolve around her sun and make it easier to get information to Romeo, our tax accountant, earlier than April. My nonorganizational atmosphere that I reside in, the “cluttersphere,” means that it’s totally unlikely that every receipt actually will be found in the accordion folder this time next year. Time will tell!

A footnote: Half of the stack of receipts pictured is from 2007—they’re the ones we needed for that tax return and to keep for reference purposes. Just haven’t filed them yet. Sound like yet another future get ’er done . . . must add it to the growing stack of them!

Venting machine

tiger-woodsHere’s something that really chaps me: Every time I’ve read a story about Tiger and Elin Woods’ new son, it almost always proclaims that Tiger has become a father again. Excuse me?!? Once a parent, always a parent! There’s no expiration date, well, until we actually expire for good. Can’t the journalists just write that Tiger added to his family?

iPod Touch update

Speaking of family, it looks like the #1 son finally has made his new Touch his main iPod . . . and it hasn’t even been an entire week! Now to see how long it will take him to add his second app.


TV watch

Last night’s “The Big Bang Theory” was hilarious and worth waiting for (it was delayed by the presidential address). Christine Baranski (shown above with Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon) played Leonard’s mother, and she was brilliant! Kind of like a female Sheldon. We just love all the quirkiness surrounding the show; makes Monday nights just a little bit brighter.

the-biggest-loserTonight we’ll probably watch “American Idol” first and then “The Biggest Loser” as it’s being DVRed; that way we can fast-forward through all the commercials and maybe even avoid the product-placement pitches during the show. “AI” is still on its dreaded Hollywood Week where breakdowns and meltdowns are part of the daily menu. The question isn’t so much if the contestants can sing but rather whether or not they can take the pressure. Almost makes losing a hundred or so pounds a breeze!