Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Project 15 to 15: Day 15

For the final day of this project, I wanted to share what has been one of the BEST parts of my day for many years now: the drive home from school.

Each day on the way home from school, Wonder Boy goes down his class list and tells me about his day. He lets me know if he has any homework and then tells me about anything especially cool or unusual that occurred during the day. He's been giving me this "daily report" since first grade, I think. It started as an exercise to get him to talk more and to make it easier for him to write personal tales at school. But it has become a little shared ritual that I truly cherish.

It dawned on me today that I only have a year of this left! Next year when he turns 16, he will be able to get his driver's license. And then he'll be able to take himself to and from school without me. I don't know how I will possibly fill that time once he is on the road by himself, but for now I am just going to enjoy the report while it lasts. Hopefully we can come up with a new tradition once he takes the wheel for himself.

In looking back to 2015, I wanted to share this snap taken on Thanksgiving Day:

We grabbed this picture at a park in my hometown while we were visiting for a family Thanksgiving lunch. We got to town early and took the opportunity to stop by this park to kill some time and grab some photos while we were all dressed up. I just love his easy smile and the "thumbs up" that has become his signature gesture.

And with that, this little project has once again come to a close. Tomorrow we will light the candles and sing the songs to celebrate another year for our favorite Boy.

Here's to hoping that 15 is the best year he has ever known!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Project 15 to 15: Day 14

We're nearing the end of this year's birthday countdown project and I have really been enjoying it!

For Day 14, I wanted to highlight another musical part of the Boy's life: his piano

Wonder Boy loves his viola, but I have to admit, what I love to hear him practice is the piano! I don't care what time of day or night he wants to play - if he's in the mood to play, I'm in the mood to listen! His skill has grown quite a bit over the last few years and it is a true joy to listen to him play. He's not a big fan of jazz, but he loves classical music and some ragtime as well. Honestly, I don't care if he's just practicing scales, it's all music to my ears!

In looking back to 2014, I wanted to share this snap of the Boy at the start of a summer camp on the campus where his dad and I work:

There is so much I love about this snap. This camp started a string a summer camps that has truly brought Wonder Boy a lot of joy over the last few years, for one thing. And it opened his eyes to University life. He's talked about college since kindergarten, I think, but there was something about attending classes on the TAMU campus that really awakened that desire in him. Right now, he says he wants to go to college right here at dear, old TAMU, which is where his dad and I both went to school. It would give me great joy to share that with him some day. But I really and truly just want him to go where his heart leads him. And I know Wonder Dad feels the same way.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Project 15 to 15: Day 13

On Day 13 of this project, the Boy decided all he really wanted to do was chill.

Having a "chill day" at home is pretty high on the Boy's list of favorite things. But I never know exactly what that will entail. Some days it's spent cuddling in the couch with his pups. Other days, he parks himself in the computer room and only comes out for meals. For today, he mixed it up a bit. We enjoyed some family movie time. He got lots of snuggling in with his pups. And he spent a good bit of quality time with his computer. But to close out the day, he went upstairs for a bit and enjoyed a bit of Playstation time. A little fun and games to wind down the weekend sounds like a good plan to me!

In looking back to 2013, we see a bit more ... animated ... version of Wonder Boy:

This snap was taken during his free-running/American Ninja Warrior phase when every object around him was a physical challenge! And while I'm glad that I am not losing my mind watching him "body prop" his way up the stairwell, I do miss this outlook on life. We could hardly go anywhere without him trying to jump up on or over everything in sight. He could still do it today if he wanted, but these days, it's just not very cool to do that out in public.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Project 15 to 15: Day 12

It's Saturday and that, of course, means more soccer:

I've been trying to come up with the right words to express what I am thinking today. While this is another action photo of my favorite son playing his favorite game, there is more to it than that. Bottom line: this was not the Boy's best performance on the soccer pitch. And at the end of the game, when we piled in the car to head home, Wonder Dad and I both knew that he would soon be asking for our approval.

And sure enough, we hadn't even cleared the parking lot before he asked,"So ... what did you think of the game?"

It's hard to be a parent in this situation. We enjoyed the game. His team came away with a win this week after losing a close one last week. So we understood the Boy's desire to celebrate a little. However, we all knew that the Boy didn't deliver his finest performance. So we did what we could ...

We told him that we were glad that his team won, but then we pointed out a few things that he could have (and normally WOULD have) done better. We were able to tell him how he improved over the course of the full game. And let him know we were looking forward to next week's game.

We could tell that he was not hearing what he really WANTED to hear. But we also want him to know that when he asks for our opinion, we are going to give him an honest assessment.

Our hope is that he will then realize that when we do praise him that he will understand that he has truly earned it.

In looking back to 2012, I get to share a special snap of the Boy and I at a friend's wedding:

This was our first dance together outside of the privacy of our own living room. Wonder Boy was TEARING UP the dance floor that night and didn't hesitate to ask every lucky lady that he knew to join him on the floor! As for me, I was happy and honored to be his preferred partner, even if it meant Wonder Dad and I didn't get a chance for a dance all on our own. There's plenty of time for that. On this night, the three of us danced and danced and just enjoyed the festivities!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Project 15 to 15: Day 11

For Day 11 of our big birthday countdown, I wanted to brag a bit on the Boy's organizational skills:

It's a simple little thing, but he uses a note pad area on his phone to mark which classes do/do not have homework. There is enough room to also title the assignment and even add a due date. It's simple and to the point. Nothing flashy, but incredibly useful! I have been so proud of the effort the Boy puts into making sure his academic responsibilities are met. And I am so glad that he found something, all on his own, that works perfectly for him!

In looking back to 2011, we see the Boy acting out his adrenaline seeking behavior once again:

This snap was taken a few days before the Boy's 10th birthday with one of his best judo buddies beside him. The 2 of them raced to the top of this climb a number of times that Sunday morning before the crowds made the lines too long. And when they weren't on this wall, they were racing go carts or smashing bumper boats. It was a very fun day for us all!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Project 15 to 15: Day 10

Well here we are on Day 10! We've made it double digits into the project this year and only have a few days left. I am enjoying it every bit as much this year as the past two years. And so far, Wonder Boy has been pretty supportive as well.

Today we feature the Boy with his boy:

When I look at this snap, I think Wonder Mutt looks like either a ballerina or a great white shark - I can't make up my mind. I'm pretty sure if we could read his mind, he would identify more with the shark than the ballerina though. Wonder Boy and the Mutt have a very special relationship. They share a room. And Wonder Boy was telling me just this morning that every night, the Mutt settles down on his doggy bed in such a manner that he always has an eye on the Boy. I think that is just PERFECT. The Boy will literally drag the Mutt into the computer room with him or up on the couch for a good cuddle. The Mutt is always under the Boy's foot at the dinner table. The two are just meant to be together!

In looking back to 2010, we are back to another martial arts snap. This time from the Boy's muay thai classes:

This was taken just a week or so before Wonder Boy started the 3rd grade. It turned out to be a real blessing to have him in the muay thai classes as his 3rd grade year was, unfortunately, the year he would have real struggles with a classroom bully. His years in martial arts had taught him plenty of ways to AVOID a fight and he did his level best to follow through with that. But when push finally came to shove and he had taken his fill, it also taught him how to stand up for himself. And even better than that, Wonder Boy's years in martial arts taught him how to stand up for those that cannot or will not stand up for themselves. This is one of those characteristics that make my heart swell with pride. With his academic life taking more and more of his schedule, we've had to temporarily step away from martial arts. But I hope that these are lessons he will carry with him always.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Project 15 to 15: Day 9

For Day 9 of our count down to Wonder Boy's 15th birthday, I wanted to highlight his love of music with this snap I took during his viola practice of the day:

I've shared it many times here, but the Boy has developed a real love of music, especially classical music over the past 4 years or so. His dad and I are both music lovers and have played all manner of music for him since he came into this world. But things really took off when he joined the orchestra in 5th grade. He enjoys orchestra. It's his biggest social activity. But it's also a means of expression for him as well as a personal challenge. This morning on the drive to school, he was telling me about some of the advanced students in orchestra - those that he admires and aspires to emulate. I have been so pleased that he made the commitment to stay with orchestra into high school and hope that he will continue with it as long as possible.

In looking back to 2009, I stumbled on this photo of the Boy at a judo belt test:

Oddly enough, as part of this yearly project, I haven't shared many judo photos. For many years though, judo (and other martial arts) was the Boy's biggest confidence booster. What he lacked in size and strength, he made up for with determination and dedication. There were/are so many gifts from being involved in the martial arts for so many years. But for me, seeing the Boy grow in self confidence and in his ability to focus on a desired goal (like earning a new belt or mastering a particular technique) was the best part. I am thankful to every coach, sensei, instructor, and partner he had during his time in martial arts. I hope they all know that he carries a part of them with him where ever he goes.