Moon over New York City.

U for Untied States of America all represented in New York……Home of the brave…

U for United States of America
U for United States of America

The United State of America…Home of the Brave…Sometimes they’re just words. Do you ever stop and think what they mean?

For many it was and is leaving everything you know for a hope of something better. In New York City the storyteller in me became enthralled, I felt the shadow of fear, hope and determination left by millions of immigrants. I could imagine them seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time after a long grueling voyage.

Imagine, arriving in the harbor and seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time
Imagine, arriving in the harbor and seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time
Lady Liberty from the boat. photo  taken by Jolene Navarro
Lady Liberty from the boat. photo taken by Jolene Navarro
I think sometimes we forget New York is surrounded by water and is a port city. Old ships in the docks of New York.
I think sometimes we forget New York is surrounded by water and is a port city. Old ships in the docks of New York.
New York, surrounded by water
New York, surrounded by water. Photo by Jolene Navarro

On 9/11 the fear as they tried to flee on boats that were taking people away from the horrific destruction. The day we all turned to New York, helpless. Just like everything else on this small piece of Earth the 9/11 Memorial is overwhelming.

911 Memorial as the set sets. Photo by Jolene Navarro
911 Memorial as the set sets. Photo by Jolene Navarro

I walk the streets of New York, filled with people from around the world that now make America their home – the history, spirit and feel of America was in every stone, brick, window and steel frame that makes up the city. I have to say man’s ability to create a habitat beyond our imagination is awe inspiring and maybe a bit scary.
Here are a few of my favorite pictures.

The old reflected in the new.

Taken from our hotel window, Andaz. The old and new next to each other. Photo by Jolene Navarro
Taken from our hotel window, Andaz. The old and new next to each other. Photo by Jolene Navarro
View from Central Park. Photo by Jolene Navarro
View from Central Park. Photo by Jolene Navarro
Sensory overload in New York City.
Sensory overload in New York City. Photo by Jolene Navarro
Central Park - Loved this part of New York.
Central Park – Loved this part of New York.
Approaching Central Park
Approaching Central Park
New York from Central Park. Photo by Jolene Navarro
New York from Central Park. Photo by Jolene Navarro
On the edge of Time Square. Have to say my least favorite part of New York City.
On the edge of Time Square. Have to say my least favorite part of New York City.
Hanging out in the M & M Store, waiting for the rain to slow down. Photo by Jolene Navarro
Hanging out in the M & M Store, waiting for the rain to slow down. Photo by Jolene Navarro
Time Square New York- the rain had started
Time Square New York- the rain had started
The storm is rolling into the city.
The storm is rolling into the city.
The Financial District.
The Financial District.
View from the Financial District.
View from the Financial District. Photo by Jolene Navarro

Then there is the art…everywhere.

New York Art
New York Art photo by Jolene Navarro

One thing that was suggested to us was to go to the website of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and map out what you want to see and go to those rooms first. This is a must or you might miss the art you really want to see – there is no way to see this museum in one day. They art they house is incredible so go with a plan and when you see the originals up close…well words can not do the emotions justice.  I could do a whole blog on the art of New York.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The ancient civilization among the newbies.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The ancient civilization among the newbies. By Jolene Navarro
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Degas.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Degas
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Degas
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Degas

To see the textures and colors up close is simply amazing. Even if you can’t make it to the museum, you should follow them on facebook. They share a piece of art each day.

http://www.metmuseum.org/visit

This summer I get to go back to New York for the Romance Writers of America conference. I’m excited to go back to the city. Is there a place you would love to visit again? Have you been to New York? What is your MUST do when you are in the city.

Port A on Texas shoreline. From the Sand Castle balcony

O – Oh what a story. Overcoming dyslexia

When my oldest daughter was born I would tell her alphabet stories. I was inspired by Graeme Base’s illustrated book  Animalia.

Animalia by Graeme Base
Animalia by Graeme Base

As she started school the teachers worried that she wasn’t learning as fast as she should. They suggested that I read to her.  I explained I did read to her, every night, during the day, we even made up stories based on alliteration from the time she was born.

If she was having a hard time learning sounds and letters they wanted to blamed it on her environment (aka mom and dad’s fault).

To say the least, frustration would knot my stomach. From Kinder on the second grade I heard the same thing – “You need to read to her more. She needs to see you reading.” Really? I read all the time..some in my family might even say too much. My husband read. He loved reading to the kids. I knew something else was wrong.  Finally we took her to a sociologist and neurologist husband/wife team. They changed her life in school. At that point she was too young to be diagnosed with dyslexia, but as it turned out she was severely dyslexia. We did discover that if we tied movement into the learning processes she did better. Having her move her finger in the air as she blended sounds, shooting a basketball as she went over her spelling list made it happen for her.

Unfortunately movement is frowned upon in school especially elementary. Especially when a teach doesn’t “believe” that dyslexia is a real thing and says she is just being lazy. That was a rough year.

I don’t know if it made it easier or harder that learning came without effort to her younger sister and brothers. One of my favorite memories is her reading to our youngest on his bedroom floor. She could read his picture books out loud without fear of being judged.

School years of struggling and working hard were ahead of her. Once she got in middle school and high school she did start enjoying school more. I think it was because of the sports and all the walking between classes. Secondary gave her more freedom and socializing opportunities. She wasn’t “pulled” out of class. She still had to work twice as hard as my other kids  but she loved school and was always a favorite with her teachers. I think because they saw how hard she worked. She has prevailed and is getting closer to finishing college.

my crazy navarro kids - truthfuly they might get that from the Guinther side.
My crazy Navarro kids – truthfully they might get that from the Guinther side.

We tell all of our kids to keep moving forward, failure is just a sign that you are trying and working, don’t let it stop you. Every path is different and as long as you are working toward those goals you are progressing.Can you guess which one she if of our four in this picture?

There are many ways dyslexia manifest it self and some people just don’t understand how letters, made of of lines and shapes came move on people. If images shift on you can you imagine trying to figure out the difference between b, d, p, q? It has nothing to do with intelligence it is about decoding abstract symbols.

In college I discovered I had what is called dysgraphia. I could always read really well and fast, but I could not spell to save my life. One reason I waiting until I was forty before believing I could sell a story I wrote. Author’s like Jodi Thomas encouraged me.

I’m sharing one of our O stories:  On the Ocean:

Ocean view at Port Aransas on the Texas shoreline. From the Sandcastle Condominiums
Ocean view at Port Aransas on the Texas shoreline. From the Sandcastle Condominiums

One overcast day an ocelot obviously hiding in the oat grass observed an Old English Sheepdog playing opossum next to the ocean. Offshore an odd sight was taking place. An octopus was overtaking an orca over the waves. The dog’s ordinary owner from Oklahoma  was obsessing over the original and outstanding opera singer who originated from Oregon. He ordered two dozen orchids and gave her a standing ovation. She fell head-over-hills in love.

What other O words can you think of?

Embracing Failure leads to joy and success!

Below is a link to a blog I wrote for the Craftie Ladies of Romance. What are the three things you need for a successful year? What about embracing failure, creating community and resilience? Hit the link below and read more about it.

All the things I need for a great 2015.

I want to thank my family for such a great year.

Enjoying Life.
Enjoying Life. My Hero Fred.
Bon fire and family
A year ago for my birthday family gathering around the bon fire
Lower-Manhatton-New-York-memorial-
A dream coming true. Lower Manhattan – It amazes me how so many people can live in such a small space. It looks as if it could just fall of the little piece of land.
Times Square with Fred. A dream coming true.
Times Square with Fred. A dream coming true.
June is the West Texas A&M writer's Academy with Jodi Thomas, Alex Sokoloff and Sasha Summers
June is the West Texas A&M writer’s Academy with Jodi Thomas, Alex Sokoloff and Sasha Summers
RWA panel about the truth of the Texas cowboy
RWA panel about the truth of the Texas cowboy
Great times with family and friends at Port A on the Texas coast
Great times with family and friends at Port A on the Texas coast
My parent had three girls who gave them ten  grand-kids - ten grand kids that love each other so much. Annual pumpkin carving slam down
My parent had three girls who gave them ten grand-kids – ten grand kids that love each other so much. Annual pumpkin carving slam down

 

Talking about How We Liove Our Heros at the Rita's & Readers in Dallas. With Jolene Navarro, Jade Lee & Julie Ann Walker
Talking about How We Love Our Heroes at the Rita’s & Readers in Dallas. With Jolene Navarro, Jade Lee & Julie Ann Walker
Best Group of writers an author could hang out with. San Antonio Romance Authors
Best Group of writers an author could hang out with. San Antonio Romance Authors
Family makes the year full of joy even if you only see them on the holidays - maybe because you only see them on the holidays. lol
Family makes the year full of joy even if you only see them on the holidays – maybe because you only see them on the holidays. lol
Here's to many more smiles in 2015
Here’s to many more smiles in 2015

Wow – Looking back on the year and finding my highlights I was amazed at the wonderful people that have been brought into my life. Some long term and had no choice, family is family, others have come in and guided me and came with so much love I have a hard time believing it.  Thank you.

Garner State Park with the Frio River

Busting sterotypes of Texas with the Hill Country

Generations of my family have been born and raised in the Texas Hill Country and now I write about fictional characters that live in the same beautiful county.

Some people have an image of Texas as a giant state of flat lands with tumble weeds and golden grass. There are parts of Texas that would resemble that stereotype there are more places that bust it.

Texas Hill Country heading to Utopia at sundown..
Texas Hill Country heading to Utopia at sundown.
Texas Hill Country Frio River at ConCan
Texas Hill Country Frio River at ConCan
Texas Hill Country
Texas Hill Country

In my books the sun is often raising or setting over the hills of Texas. I love the area of Frio Canyon, where the head waters of the Frio River can be found. Garner State park is nestled in this area between Kerrville Texas and Uvalde, north of San Antonio and south of Austin. It’s my favorite piece of earth.

This Thanksgiving some extended family along with my husband and kids with be renting a cabin in in the woods by the river to celebrate our blessings. We won’t be the only ones.

Texas Hill Country Frio River at ConCan
Texas Hill Country Frio River at ConCan

You can’t talk Texas Hill Country without at least one picture of cowboys. Not everyone owns a hat or rides a horse, but the ones that do are fun to watch.

Texas Hill Country Rodeo Cowboys
You can’t talk about the Texas Hill Country and ignore the rodeo cowboy.
Garner State Park with the Frio River
Garner State Park with the Frio River

Do you have a favorite place on earth and do you have the pleasure of living there or just dream about living there?

pumpkin designs

Fall, Family & Fun carving pumpkins

I love the fall (some might call it autumn). Getting family together for fun and Frito pie with Kevin Ward’s homemade chili. The cooler weather rolls in from the north. In Texas that means we are moving out of the triple digits into the 90s and 80s. The other morning it hit 68…brrrr. Of course it was back to a cool 92 by 2:00 pm.

We might be limited in the color schemes too. The majestic oaks are ever year round green along with the juniper, but we have small splashed of yellow and orange in our foliage. I think this makes it more of a gift. We could pack up the SUV and head to Lost Maples outside of Vanderpool – it’s like a little pocket of Colorado tucked into the back of our bluejeans.

My favorite part is the unofficial kick off to the holiday season. In October 2004 my sisters and I got our kids together to carve pumpkins. We didn’t know we were starting a family tradition, but now it is part of our kids memories of growing up on the back steps.

Twelve years of carving pumpkins -growing up on the steps

Now twelve years later and the kids are actually carving their own pumpkins

This one might be the real picture.

cousins and pumpkins
Growing up on the steps – 2014 pumpkins

The level of skill and competition has grown each year.

The guts and glory of pumpkin carving
The guts and glory of pumpkin carving
Cousins helping with the pumpkins
Cousins helping with the pumpkins
My pumpkin is better than yours
My pumpkin is better than yours
Finding the right patterns
Finding the right patterns
Cleaning the guts of our pumpkin
Cleaning the guts of our pumpkin
Cousins & Pumpkins
Cousins & Pumpkins

The girls even got to use the power tools this year!

Girls using powertools to carve
Girls using power tools to carve
Carved Pumpkins 2014
Carved Pumpkins 2014
pumpkin designs
pumpkin designs
pumpkin a1
Sugar Skull Pumpkin Design
pumpkins designs
pumpkins designs
pumpkin designs
pumpkin designs

What are you waiting for go make some memories!  Do you have a favorite fall tradition?

I is for I LOVE YOU

I is for I LOVE YOU

For the A to Z blogging challenge we have arrived to I. For the letter I I’m rambling on about the phrase I LOVE YOU.

 

I was researching ways to say I love you. Guess what I found – tons of ideas that had to do with food. Makes me think of my earlier post about eating habits.

How we love is the core of our childhood.

I will always love you - I almost cried every time I read this to my babies
I will always love you – I almost cried every time I read this to my babies

The words “I LOVE YOU.” are so important to some, to others it is about actions. Words mean little if not followed up by action.

One of my favorite books is The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman.  How do you show love? What makes you feel loved?

http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

 

You can take a survey and find out what you value. You can also explore your children’s love language. Do they feel loved by words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, thoughtful gifts, or physical touch. For some, one hug means more than 100 words.

SO how do you say I LOVE YOU….how do you know your loved?

 

 

 

E for Eating Habits – Good, Bad & Ugly

We use to know our food – we grew it, we gathered it or we stalked it. I remember my parent’s huge garden. We would eat corn and green beans right off the plant. It was so good.
Now-a-days it seems my family has become separated from the source of our life.

But eating is also the heart of our culture – we use it to celebrate, socialize and grieve. Joy, comfort and grief are wrapped up in our food.
When we are not sure what to do we will reach out with food. It’s no wonder we can develop an unhealthy relationship with the source of our health.
My goal is to become a more conscious eater.

One of my family’s favorites.

Ready to Roast Fresh Brussel Sprouts & Carrots
Open grilled burgers are a favorite at home or festivals

St. Raymond Catholic Church
Open grill at Leakey’s July Jubilee

What is a festival without funnel cake. If you only eat it once a year – that’s not bad is it?

Funnel Cake!
Funnel Cake!
When I was little I couldn't eat asparagus, now it is one of my favorites
When I was little I couldn’t eat asparagus, now it is one of my favorites
How can you go wrong with beacon, cream cheese and a pepper.
How can you go wrong with beacon, cream cheese and a pepper.

Fast food and eating in the car is just about as ugly as it gets. I would put a picture, but I don’t want any evidence that I have ever done that.
Do you have foods you love that are not good for you or do you love the foods that are good for you?