Thursday, January 1, 2015

Reflections and Resolutions

As is my tradition on the first day of the new year, today I am sitting back looking over snapshots from the last 12 months. And, as with years past, I cannot help but marvel at how much things change over the course of those 12 short months.

There are several things that pop into my head as I look back at 2014. The first is how much Wonder Boy has grown. As we were closing out 2013, he had just passed me up in height. But since then, he has sprouted another couple of inches and is starting to gain ground on Wonder Dad now! Even when I am in my tall shoes and he is barefoot, I know I will have to look up in order to make eye contact. *sigh* And while there is a big part of me that remembers him fitting perfectly in the crook of my arm, there are some nice advantages to having a strapping young man around the house. He kills spiders for me, reaches for things on the top shelf of the pantry, and even pumps my gas. A mom could get spoiled with help like that.

2014 saw all 3 of us branch out to learn new things. For example, we enrolled in a new martial arts class, Modern Arnis, this past summer. We have all really enjoyed the class, but Wonder Boy has taken to this art like a duck to water. For me personally, I struggle with some of the coordination needed to be successful in Arnis, but neither Wonder Boy nor Wonder Dad share that particular challenge. We were also introduced to archery with a couple of compound bows. Wonder Dad has always wanted to learn, so the Boy and I got him a starter kit for his birthday. And we had so much fun just watching him with his bow, that it wasn't long before we picked up a second one for the Boy and I to share. Wonder Dad is the natural at this new endeavor. His bow seems to just be a part of him. And I gotta tell you, I really love the sound when the arrow is released like a little carbon fiber missile streaking for the target.

Due to some changes at work, we didn't have quite as many adventures in 2014 as I had hoped. So now that my gaze is turning to 2015, with the hopes and dreams a new year brings, my resolution - if you can call it that - is to step out of my comfort zone and embark on more adventures. I need to break away from my desk, my computer, and even my phone and GET OUT more. No excuses! That is my goal for 2015.

What are your goals for 2015?

Whatever your set your mind to do, I hope that you find the time, the motivation, and the resources to follow through this year.

Happy 2015 Everyone!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Happy Ho, Ho, Ho!

This holiday season, once it got ramped up, was about a 5 day extravaganza! We visited with friends, had quality time with family of all shapes and sizes, and still managed to garner some special just-the-three-of-us moments as well. I took a BOAT LOAD of photos and have a few here to share. You will see that I had a hard time cutting down what to post. But I just didn't want to leave anyone out!

Honestly, I couldn't cram half the pictures on here that I really wanted to share. So for now, this will have to do.

We enjoyed a small gathering with friends the weekend leading up to Christmas. We spent a wonderful Christmas Eve with a traditional-for-the-three-of-us feast. And then Christmas day almost all of my family made it in for a wild and wooly lunch with kids ranging from 2 to 13 running, playing, joking, eating, and infecting everyone with a good dose of holiday cheer.

I don't think I could have scripted it any better - aside from some family members that need to pay more attention to their watches *ahem* and the addition of a couple of folks who couldn't make it this year. It was a good day. A very good day!

I think what I will remember most about Christmas this year is the feeling of contentment from being around those that I love and who love me back in return.

Merry Christmas! And may God bless us, EVERYONE!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Sights & Sounds of the Season

Our tradition is that, the day after Thanksgiving, we kick off the Christmas season by putting up the Christmas tree. We rushed that by a day this year since Nanny was in town for Thanksgiving and starting dragging out boxes and lights and tinsel as soon as the turkey feast was cleared from the table.

I'll admit though, despite all of the Christmas cheer around the house, I have had a hard time getting into the spirit this season. I'm not really sure why that is the case. We did our shopping early, so I'm not dealing with the stress of holiday crowds and frenetic shopping. Maybe it's work. Maybe it's just the hot-then-cold weather (but that's pretty typical for TX at this time of year). I don't know. I've just had a hard time FEELING IT, this year.

But that has all changed in the last few days.

So what sparked the big change, you ask? It's actually a very simple answer - Christmas tunes! Wonder Boy loves everything Christmas: the lights, the tree, the specials on TV, the PRESENTS, and Christmas carols! He belts out his holiday favorites in the shower, in the car on the way to school, judo, and anywhere else we might travel. He even reads (in his head) questions on his math test to the tune of his favorite holiday anthems (he admitted to that one yesterday when I asked about the math test)!

So I wanted to share with you a few of the tunes we are enjoying this season. Hopefully they will inspire you the way they have our family!

Straight No Chaser - The 12 Days of Christmas:

Straight No Chaser - The Christmas Can-Can:

Straight No Chaser - The Nutcracker:

The Bobs - Mambo Santa Mambo:

Los Straightjackets - God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen:

Los Straightjackets - Feliz Navidad:

There are many more tunes, of course. But these are the ones that are being played (& belted out) most often!

Take care and Merry Christmas to you all!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dia De Los Muertos

The Mexican Holiday of "Dia de los Muertos" or "Day of the Dead" is celebrated on November 2nd each year. The holiday is a celebration to remember friends and family members who have passed away.

A few days ago, on Oct. 31st, I lost my maternal grandmother. She passed peacefully after a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease.

So this year on Dia de los Muertos, I would like to pause a moment to reflect on both of my grandmothers.

First, I'd like to introduce you to my paternal grandmother, my Granny.

This lovely red-haired sweetheart was simply known to me as "Granny." She lived on the top of a hill in the piney woods of Texas, was a fabulous artist, a writer, a teacher, a wrangler of grand kids, and an amazing woman of God.

When I look at picture of her, I conjure the scent of fresh coffee since she always had a pot at the ready. Saturdays, Sundays, and summers of my youth she took care of at least 6 of her 8 grand-kids and managed to do it all without bodily harm to any of us. She could tell a fantastical story, entertain us on the piano, and throw together lunch or dinner for a sudden crowd without a second thought.

But one thing that always sticks with me is that she was always teaching. Teaching was actually her chosen profession, but by the time I came along, most of her teaching came from within the walls of her own home. She had the uncanny patience to work with a reluctant writer, was always explaining her way through her day, and was always quick with a tale or Bible verse to illustrate a point.

She left us in September of 2008 and there has been a huge hole in my heart ever since.

Next, I'd like to acquaint you with my maternal grandmother, my Memaw.

As I mentioned above, she has only just recently left us. And she has been on my mind almost non-stop since I received the news.

I miss her already.

It's true that, with the severity of her illness, the Memaw from my memories has been gone for a number of years. But there is just something about hearing the end has come that drives it home all over again.

This little lady was the living spirit of "spit fire." So much life in such a tiny package.

When I look at her pictures, the first thing to come to mind is the scent of Chanel No. 5 perfume, specifically clouds and clouds of Chanel No. 5 powder.

If you knew my Memaw at all, you would know that she was a sports fanatic. And she loved all teams from Houston, her favorites being the Houston Astros (baseball), the Houston Rockets (basketball), and the Houston Oilers (I don't know if she ever warmed up to the Texans).

She also loved to make things. Arts and crafts were a constant part of her life.

It is from Memaw that I developed my love of elaborate holiday preparations. I don't recall ever walking into her home at Christmas without seeing at least 3 trees decked out with sparkles of all kinds.

In her earlier years, when my Papaw was still in the Army, she developed a love of travel. But for me, she will always be a symbol of home. And it didn't matter where she was at - wherever she found herself, that was home. I think that is why I feel a little untethered at the moment.

I have been very blessed. My grandparents (all 4 of them) were a huge part of my upbringing. These 2 ladies were at the center of that experience. And while they no longer walk this world with us, I carry them with me wherever I go.

And for that, I am even more blessed.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Birthday Blessing

Today, our dear Wonder Boy turns 13 years old! I have been sitting here trying to come up with the words to capture all that is going through my heart and mind, but I just can't seem to find the right words.

So ... for now, at least, I will borrow these words - from an anonymous source on the web - with a few modifications of my own - in the form of this birthday blessing for Wonder Boy:

Happy Birthday! You're now thirteen,
It's such a special age,
Choices and plans, what will you be,
A doctor, an engineer or sage?

It's quite okay if you don't know,
It's more important to live each day,
Take each challenge one step at a time,
Learn and enjoy, your work and play.

Live each moment, do all things well,
What's inside you, are things that last.
At home, at school, wherever you are,
we are so very thankful you're growing fast.

Happy Birthday Wonder Boy! and many thanks,
You've been blessed in many ways,
We pray He bless you all through your years,
And guide and guard you all your days.

Today we have enjoyed a family-focused day, which is what Wonder Boy requested. We slept in. He opened gifts. We had great food. Watched fun movies. Played games - inside and out. And just did our best to make this day last as long as possible.

Happy Birthday Wonder Boy! We love you more than you will ever know!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Project 13 to 13: Day 13

Well here we are ... on the final day before our dear Wonder Boy becomes a teenager. I cant' believe this day has come so quickly. We've had a fun and full day. And we are looking forward to tomorrow's celebrations.

But first, we got back on track today and grabbed this snap of the day at today's soccer game:

We had some GREAT soccer weather today and the Boy and his team battled hard against a very strong opponent. They didn't come away with a win, but we saw them playing better as a team than last week. I believe they will continue to grow and develop as a team. There is a lot of talent there. But they have only had 3 practices together so far. And to see how much they have gelled already is very promising for the rest of the season and beyond.

For our look back today, we only look back a few months:

Late last spring, Wonder Dad traveled to an out-of-town conference and brought back a "pyraminx" - which is a triangular prism Rubik's "cube." And with that one puzzle, Wonder Boy become obsessed! He worked tirelessly until he could solve any mix-up. And then he moved on to making patterns (& solving them). Not long after that, he invested in a traditional Rubik's cube. And he has done the same with it - worked and worked at solving it, until no mix-up is too complicated, and then moved on to creating patterns. Maybe we should call him "Kid Cube" instead of Wonder Boy.

Whatever we call him, this kid - soon to be teen - is a lot of fun! And I know there are plenty who cringe at the thought of living with a teenager. But Wonder Boy doesn't inspire that kind of fear (not yet, anyway). And besides, family is family - even when hormones are raging. After all ... Wonder Dad didn't hide from me when pregnant with Wonder Boy all those years ago. And surely teen hormone swings can't compare with pregnancy mood swings!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Project 13 to 13: Day 12

I should hang my head in shame as I come to tell you that there is no snap of Wonder Boy on day 12 of our countdown to teen-dom. But the reason there is no photo is that all three of us came home weary from the long week today, settled down on the couch together and spent the evening just enjoying being together as a family. We watched a movie, cuddled under a blanket, had a nice meal together and just relaxed.

Tomorrow is a busy day that will include a soccer game, errands, and some much needed cleaning before we begin our last minute birthday preps. So while I should hang my head ... I am not. This is just what our family needs today and so that is just how it will have to be.

I *do*, however, have a look back to share with you.

Here you see Wonder Boy a year ago today doing one of the things he loves the most in this world - knocking out a tune on his keyboard. That smile you see on his face ... it seems to ALWAYS be there when he is making music. And you can count on there being a smile on my face and Wonder Dad's face as well. We love having all this music in our home. It's a true treat!