Farewell To “The Biscuit”

Lately, our minds have cast back to the winter of 2003-2004, when a certain vehicle — eventually to be known as “The Biscuit” — came into our lives.

Michael and I were fairly newly married and we’d moved to a 2 bedroom apartment in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, where the alternate-side on-street parking restrictions were loose enough to convince Michael he’d be willing and able to move the car from one side of the street to the other twice a week. And he convinced me I wouldn’t have to worry about it.

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Happy 9th Birthday To Our Eldest!

We remember when you were but a little thing. And look at you now!


More Family Media Production, With An Introduction To Dragons

Clearly we have a long way to go as a family video production team, but it’s a start…


Rory Narrates a Tale of Two Trains

It’s been way too long. Here’s our latest family media project.


Rest In Peace, John E. Parker (Pamela’s Father)

My father passed away last night. Here’s the full, detailed obituary that we published in the Groveton newspaper:

John Elvin Parker of Groveton, Texas, passed away on Sunday, February 12, at Houston Hospice at the age of 78, after a battle with leukemia.

He was born on September 26, 1933 in Groveton, Texas, on Magee Bend, to the late Jake Jefferson Parker and Hester (Wright) Parker.

John graduated from Jeff Davis High School in Houston and served his country in the U.S. Air Force as a combat flight engineer in the Korean Conflict. After he was discharged, John attended Sam Houston State University for his undergraduate and masters’ studies in agricultural education, and did his doctorate work at Texas A&M University. He was a member of Alpha Chi national honor society for colleges and universities. He spent many years as an influential agriculture teacher in Houston Independent School District, at Jeff Davis, Ross Sterling, Lamar, and Sam Houston High Schools. He owned San Felipe Texaco in Houston for 17 years, and ran other businesses in the steel and construction industries. After selling the Texaco business, he taught Animal Science as a professor at Houston Community College. When he retired to his beloved East Texas Piney Woods, he and his brother, Donald, operated a hay baling business in Groveton.

As an agriculture teacher, John was very active in the Future Farmers of America (FFA), and won a national award for increasing the membership and participation of the local FFA chapter at Sam Houston High School. He also advised a Ross Sterling student who had a heifer that won scramble champion Santa Gertrudis, open show Santa Gertrudis champion and grand champion at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. He advised his son, John Parker Jr., in selecting and raising what became the reserve champion and the grand champion steers at the Spring Branch FFA chapter livestock show.

He’s survived by his two children with his late ex-wife, Aurora Rodriguez-Parker: Pamela Parker Caird and her husband Michael, of Liberty Hill, Texas; and John Parker Jr. and his wife, Sheryl, of Sugar Land, Texas. John had five grandchildren, Allison, Abigail and Lance Parker; and Callum and Rory Caird. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews and numerous good friends.

In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his sister, Opal (Parker) McGraw, and his brothers, Jake Jefferson Parker Jr. and Donald Wayne Parker.

A funeral service will be held at the Cartwright Funeral Home at 1019 West First Street in Groveton, Texas, on Thursday, February 16, at 11 a.m. A viewing will be held on the Wednesday night before the service, between 6 and 8 p.m. A memorial celebration will take place on the following Saturday at his son’s home.

Memorial donations may be made to:
Texas FFA (Future Farmers of America) at Texas FFA Foundation
Attn. John Parker Memorial
614 East 12th Street
Austin, TX  78701

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
Texas Gulf Coast Chapter
Attn: John Parker Memorial
5005 Mitchelldale Road, Suite 115
Houston, Texas 77092
(713) 680-8088

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Eight Years


Pamela and the Boys


Since Michael is still in NYC most of the time, I’ve had lots of solo time with the boys. This photo was taken on an outing to a nearby town for “A Day Out With Thomas” — a rail-themed family-centric festival. Part of the fun included a 25 minute train ride.


Memories of Warren Street

On the eve of our big move, I have this need to honor, to remember, to sanctify, somehow, the home in which we spent the last two and a half years or so. As always seems to happen, I have this fear that I’ll forget, and somehow deny the significance of, all the marvellous and challenging things that happened in our duplex apartment on Warren Street, in Park Slope, Brooklyn. So, without further ado, let me reflect and record my memories.

When we moved from temperate California, winter had its frigid, wind-whipped but decidedly solid grip on our little neighborhood in Brooklyn. I remember our first breakfast out at a cafe on then-desolate 4th avenue — everyone else had taken shelter from the cold — wondering what we’d gotten ourselves into. The first few nights, we had to sleep on an air mattress that lost 90% of its loft as we slept — me 4 months pregnant, and thankfully not yet in the most uncomfortable stages of pregnancy. Our possessions arrived on Christmas Eve, and we made an effort to decorate, and celebrate, our last Christmas as a family of three.

Spring came, and, under the snow, we found a gorgeous, inspiring community garden across the street, wonderful neighbors with kids near ours in age, and a vibrant neighborhood full of unique restaurants and shops — some of them even kid-friendly.

I remember:

  • Sitting out on the deck looking for fireflies with Callum, then, once back inside with the lights out, seeing a streak of light across the bedroom — one of them had gotten inside!
  • Pushing Callum uphill to his day care along the bumpy sidewalk, both gigantically pregnant and, later, with tiny Rory snuggled into a sling.
  • Many times, after Rory was born, I’d sleep in the front bedroom near his crib, while Michael slept in the back bedroom with Callum. Those nights, I’d do my nightly book reading in the dark, on my BlackBerry. When the windows were open, and sometimes when they weren’t, I’d hear the sounds of the sidewalks. To the click of high heels or the thump of more solid footsteps, I’d hear snippets of heated conversations — snatches of dramas played out as strangers passed by our street-level windows.
  • Callum grew from a barely-speaking 2.5 year old, into a potty-trained, verbal, big brother, so proud of “my baby,” as he’d call Rory.
  • Rory was born in Manhattan, came home in “The Biscuit” (our red Ford Focus wagon), and grew into a train-loving toddler with shaggy brown hair and luminous blue eyes.
  • It was on Warren Street that I began to wonder about Rory’s speech development. He had two evaluations through early intervention before we started private speech therapy out of frustration with the system.
  • Meanwhile, Callum was diagnosed with sensory integration disorder, and began receiving twice-weekly occupational therapy and help from a Special Education Itinerant Teacher. I was introduced to the bureauracratic nightmare that is the IEP process here, and thought often of my mother, who was a speech therapist and worked in special education for much of her career.
  • With us through most of the trials and tribulations was our wonderful, sweet, Mexican nanny, Luz, who helped the children learn scattered words of Spanish, and gave them so much love. I’d come home to find that she’d bought Callum a new pair of shoes, something I’d been meaning to do, but never got around to. She has been a godsend in that way, doings I didn’t even realize needed doing, and making our lives richer.
  • The pumpkins we unwittingly grew the first growing season, and the tomatoes, carrots, basil and thyme that burgeoned over our second summer.
  • We were blessed with a well-endowed playground, the Park Slope Playground, in a few blocks walking distance. It has climbing and sliding structures geared toward both younger and older children, a water feature in summer, and a wide, open yard for scootering, soccer and baseball.
  • Michael and I stayed up late one November night in 2008, and heard the shouts of excitement on the streets when it was announced that Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black president, had been elected.

Michael remembers:

  • The snow. (We had some amazing feet-deep snowstorms on Warren Street, and had some very memorable sledding sessions in Prospect Park.)
  • Playing ball on the stoop. (The boys would sit up on the stoop and throw the balls down. Grown ups stood on the sidewalk, throwing the balls back up and fishing the occasional one out from under a parked car. This game often involved neighbor kids, and parents, also hanging out on their stoops in the evenings.)

Callum remembers:

  • A bigger bed, that you can bounce on better. (We’ve spent the last few months in a temporary furnished apartment, a bed and breakfast, really, and the bed isn’t as springy as our own.)
  • Going to school. (Callum started Pre-K, his first real school, while we were living on Warren Street.)

Goodbye, Warren Street, we will miss you!


Rory and his Bottle

1276218152854.jpg, originally uploaded by Pamela PC.


Signing Time

Intrepid readers of this site (if there are any left), may notice that I haven’t yet given any updates on Rory’s burgeoning vocabulary, as I did with Callum here and here. It’s not just because I’ve been so busy, what with two kids and all. It’s because Rory, at 22 months, doesn’t exactly have a burgeoning vocabulary.

We’re not seriously worried about him, especially not about “the A word,” because he’s super cuddly, interactive, and seems to understand most everything we say in a simple way. He can point to things in books, when asked. “Where’s the crocodile?” we prompt, and his little fingertip immediately pounces on the green toothy creature in his favorite book – Dora saves the Little Duck. But not a single word has passed his lips. He sometimes says “uh oh!” and there’s a lot of “dah” and “buh.” Still, no “mama” or “dada” or anything particularly resembling a word.

Anyone who knows me (or who read the title of this post) will wonder why I didn’t try teaching him sign language. Well, I did. Of course I did. And, every once in a while, we’d get a sign out of him. He’d say “hat” or, occasionally, “milk,” but he somehow didn’t “get” that he could express himself, either with sign language or with words. Until yesterday.

Yesterday, the dam broke. He was outside with his father and Callum. Michael did the sign for “water” and Rory did it back. One sign led to another. Turns out, the kid knows, and can do, TONS of signs. Besides “water,” he knew”milk,” “dog,” “apple,” and “bath” right off the bat. It’s like he was just soaking it in all these months. You can imagine my reaction, I’m sure. I was beaming, laughing, clapping — so relieved he is learning to express himself… finally.

In the last few months, we’ve had him evaluated twice and he’s finally qualified for speech therapy through early intervention, so we’ll continue to pursue that. But, what a relief to see him say these words we’ve been teaching him all this time. Our little boy has words, at last.