Thursday, July 28, 2011


Dear Riley,

You recently had your very first sleep-over. Technically, you’ve had sleep-overs before with Braxton, but as you would say, “He’s a boy,” and that doesn’t count.

Your third cousins, Lori and Jamie Wilson spent the night with us. We were covered up in princess dress-up clothes and all of your Disney movies. It was a great night!





The three princesses! Riley, Lori, and Jamie.



The silly face picture.


The “Aunt Ma Face” picture.


Aunt Ma’s got it down; looks like the girls need some work!

I love all the “firsts” I get to spend with you, Riley!

Love, Mama

Saturday, July 23, 2011

John Smith

Dear Riley,

I’ve mentioned before how much you love princesses and Disney movies. You’re now to the point that you know the stories and know the endings, so it’s fun to talk to you about movies and summaries.

The other day, we were watching T.V., when a commercial for Curtis Stone’s Food Revolution came on. I think that’s the name. Anyway, Curtis Stone goes into public schools and tries to revolutionize the food students are eating.


Photo courtesy of

When you saw Curtis’ picture, you said, “There’s John Smith!” That would be John Smith from Pocahontas.


And Riley, I have to admit, Curtis Stone is a dead ringer for John Smith.

You’re wonderful.

Love, Mama

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Louisiana Vacation–2011 edition

Dear Riley,

This year we once again visited our Louisiana relatives for summer vacation. Our first stop was Mamaw’s house, where it’s Christmas in July when Riley walks in the door.


A new chair, tricycle, dishes, clothes, movies, coloring books, purse… just to name a few. And that’s just on the inside. Outside, Mamaw bought you a new swimming pool.


Next, we visited Leslie at Lake Bruin, Louisiana.



We’re total tourists.


I spent a lot of my time here. I just love the cypress trees, something we don’t have in abundance in Texas. They are so beautiful.

Swimming was the main activity, and Riley, you participated. You love to swim!



I have to tell you something about swimming in Lake Bruin. I’m really nervous about alligators getting us while we are swimming! I’m so nervous in fact, I have to force myself to swim and have a good time. The thought that an alligator is about to yank me or you under is always on my mind. But I also have to tell you, we’ve never actually seen any alligators in Lake Bruin. I know they are there, but have to believe when Leslie says they won’t bother us. I guess you could say I’m a Texas-girl.


We ate a 50 lb., Mississippi watermelon on the pier one day. I’ve never seen a watermelon so big. It was so sweet too!


We also rode on the boat and tubed. In my mind, I braved the alligator infested water of Lake Bruin to let you ride a tube behind the boat for the very first time. It was an awesome experience and you had a great time!



The picture above isn’t an action shot, only us about to be pulled by the boat. Believe me, we went fast! Your daddy said we were going about 30 MPH, of course in a straight line. You held on and even started fake screaming. It was hilarious!

We ended our trip back at Mamaws. There, we waited for Grandad to come and get us to take us back to Texas. When Grandad came, we went and visited Poverty Point.



We rode the tram around the whole park. Poverty Point is my most favorite historical site.


Poverty Point is a series of earthen mounds built 3500 years ago. That’s before Christ and about the same time as the Egyptian pyramids. Not much is known about the Indians who built the mounds, other than they build mounds and didn’t bury their dead. We got to meet a real archaeologist who was digging around.


The ride home was a little sketchy, with all the “I need to tee-tees!” from you. The perfect way to instill fear into a parent of a potty-training toddler is to ride down the Interstate at 70+ MPH in rural Louisiana, and have the toddler tell you they need to “tee-tee”.

And, instead of asking, “Are we there yet?” you ask a million times, “Where we going?” Over. and. over. and. over. again.

After a wonderful week in Louisiana, we were both ready for our beds! I’m so glad we have the life we have! We are so lucky!

Love you so much,


Thursday, July 7, 2011


Dear Riley,
You are amazing. This age, almost 3, has truly been eye-opening  into your personality. All day long you say and do things that simply amaze your daddy and me.
  • You have to check your he-mail
  • You say words like many, tiny, and disappear, with correct sentence construction
  • You think for yourself and can make most decisions about what to wear, what to eat, and what to do
  • You love attention
  • You can sit still and watch a movie, well, almost the entire movie
  • You told me the other day, “I want to call Peggy!” your Grandmother
  • You can trace letters, something I am so very proud of
  • You are very empathetic and don’t like to see anyone upset
  • You say, “I have an idea!”
  • You love to dance
  • You love to pretend play and talk on the phone to Cinderella. "Hello, Cinderella?"
You are you and you are great. I love getting to know the person you are becoming, with all your thoughts and ideas. It’s hard to believe you are still 2. It’s going to be tough on me when you turn 3. There is already a fairy birthday party in the works.
I love you so, so much Riley.
Love, Mama

Friday, July 1, 2011

Who’s Your Favorite Historical Figure?

Dear Riley,

I love history and I love reading. I encourage you to love both, especially reading.

I want to tell you who my favorite historical person is and why.


John Adams is not the most well-known historical figure, and I have to admit I’ve learned much about his since reading John Adams, by David McCullough. It’s my favorite book.

John Adams was a founding father from Massachusettes, from Braintree, Massachusettes. Isn’t that an interesting name? I thought so.

John’s father was a simple farmer who dreamed of sending his son to Harvard. Through hard word and dedication, John graduated from Harvard and passed the bar to practice law in Massachusettes.

John was a struggling attorney in Boston, when he was asked (basically begged) to represent the British soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre. First of all, it wasn’t really a massacre. Five New Englanders did lose their lives, but it was because they were pestering the British soldiers. One New Englander actually yelled out, “Shoot us!” After one of the soldiers was hit in the face, shots rang out.


I’m sure you can imagine the controversy during the time: Americans were tired of having to submit to British rule, and mainly their taxes. Not to mention beer flowed freely.

John Adams was approached to defend the British soldiers. At first he declined, but after some pleading and learning the facts, John agreed to represent the soldiers. I should point out, John Adams lost his first case, so he didn’t have GREAT confidence in his abilities as an attorney. Not to mention, many New Englanders were upset that one of their own would represent the British soldiers, including John Adams’ cousin, Samuel Adams (yes, from the beer).

Despite the high tension, John Adams won the case. The British soldiers were freed (and advised to leave the country!). This victory was a great boost to John’s self-confidence. He was a very moral and wise man.

When talk of separating from Britain began, John Adams was a central figure. Although he wasn’t very tall and had a beak-like nose, John Adams was very respected. While serving in the Continental Congress, he was a fierce advocate for American liberties and freedoms. John Adams made the suggestion of George Washing to lead the new military, and eventually the new young country.

John Adams was eventually nominated to serve the American people overseas. From Great Britain, Holland and France, John Adams left his family to serve our country.

Perhaps my favorite story of John Adams occurs on his first trip to Great Britain. His son, John Quincy Adams travelled the 3000 miles with him onboard a ship. During the crossing, a British vessel was spotted in the distance, and John’s boat ordered to take arms. The captain even consulted John on this point. John Adams ordered his young son below deck, and to his surprise, the captain even ordered John below deck as well. John went below for a time, but eventually emerged holding his own pistol! The future POTUS! The British vessel was at last captured and sent to American soil.

He and his wife, Abigail Adams, spent many years with an entire ocean separating them. Their letters are proof of a phenomenal love. John Adams referred to Abigail has his “dearest friend” and after one particularly long absence told Abigail, “If I were near you, I would soon convince you that I am not above 40.” Of course, John was well above 40 years old, but I think this line just speaks of his deep love for Abigail.


In her own right, Abigail was one smart lady. John Adams would defer to her opinion on many occasions. He truly valued her advice and was noticably happier when she was with him.

As John and Abigail aged, John retired from public service. He longed to spend his time on his farm, Peacefield, surrounded by Abigail and his children.

Little did John know, he would next spend 8 years as Vice President, and then go on to serve 4 years as President of the United States. Things were much different in those times, so John was able to spend short breaks at Peacefield.

John Adams’ family was not perfect, in fact, far from it. John had two sons who suffered from alcoholism, his only surviving daughter had a disastrous marriage and then had to undergo a mastectomy with no anesthesia.

John Adams was ultimately able to spend his final years at Peacefield tending his farm. He and Abigail celebrated over 50 years of marriage together. When Abigail passed away John said, “I wish I could lay down and die beside her.”


(A scene from the HBO miniseries, John Adams, showing John Adams on the left and George Washington on the right. The miniseries was awesome! Of course, read the book first!)

On the 50th anniversary of America’s independence from British rule that was due in very large part to himself, John Adams passed away hours after the only other surviving founding father, Thomas Jefferson.

In my opinion, America was shaped by John Adams. He was a very wise man and I am truly glad I have been able to learn so much about this man.

Riley, I hope you can find your own favorite historical person. It will be well worth your search.

Love, Mama