Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year in Review

At the close of each year, I like to post a quick look back over the previous 12 months. And here is my glance back at 2013:

As usual, looking back on the year makes me a bit nostalgic. We had a good year as a family. We stretched out a bit, tried some new things, continued with some old favorites, and in general just grew together as a family.

Any time you have a child in the mix, looking back over any period of time you will be able to see huge leaps in growth and accomplishment. And we are no different in that respect. Wonder Boy has grown and changed every bit as much in the last 12 months as in his first 12 months. The young man that he is becoming is one that constantly leaves us in awe ... and in anticipation of what the next 12 months will hold!

So as we kick off 2014 in style, here's to everything that is yet to come!

Happy New Year from our family to yours!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I'm actually posting this on the way far side of Dec 25, 2013 (it's now 2014, but I'll be back dating this post). I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to work on this. Perhaps it's because our holiday this year was so nice and peaceful that even taking the time to write a blog post seemed like an intrusion on our family time. Whatever the reason, here is a brief review of our 2013 holiday ...

Instead of one big family gathering, our celebrations were a bit more spread out this year.

We launched our family festivities with the Christmas-ification of the house, both inside and out, on Thanksgiving day. And we kept adding decorations and other such signs of the holidays all the way up until the week of Christmas!

On Dec 20th as schools (both big and small) shut down, we kicked off our long winter break with a family wedding. The next day Wonder Boy tested successfully for his purple belt in judo (post coming soon). And the day after THAT we welcomed our first visitors and had a great lunch and early present exchange.

Christmas Eve found us at home, just the 3 of us. We enjoyed an early service, had a super special (though quite non-traditional) dinner, a reading by Wonder Boy, loads of Christmas movies, and the exchange of our gifts to one another. Christmas day started pretty early with more presents and was followed by another wonderful family visit for yet another great lunch and even MORE gifts.

*WHEW* That was exhausting even to type! Honestly, It was a whirl-wind of excitement and we have all enjoyed it immensely. Here are a few sights from our season of celebration:

We'd like to wrap up our holiday re-cap by wishing each and every one of you a happy and healthy 2014!

Saturday, December 21, 2013


When soccer is done for the season in both the spring and fall, we make our way back to the dojo to re-sharpen our judo skills.

Before soccer started this fall, Wonder Boy and his instructor were preparing him for his next belt test. There was some talk of trying to squeeze in the test before soccer season kicked off, but it just was not in the cards.

When we returned to the dojo in November, those talks and preparations resumed. Wonder Boy, feeling rusty after the 3 month break in training, was much more hesitant facing this belt test than any other before it.

As a family, we spent more than a month drilling him at home, going over techniques, and even quizzing him in the car on the drive to and from school most days.

Wonder Dad and I both knew he was ready, but when the big day arrived, you could sense his butterflies.

He needn't have worried though, as with every belt test I can remember him taking in judo, once he was on the mat, his training took over and he flew through the test with ease.

This test was a little bit different. Sure, Wonder Boy still had to demonstrate every technique he has ever learned. He performed combinations of techniques, and answered questions on general judo trivia.

But what set this test apart was the kata. Kata in judo is performed with a partner. And maybe because it requires some pretty precise coordination, Wonder Boy's instructor saves the teaching and performance of kata until you are an advanced belt.

Here is Wonder Boy doing the first three parts of the Nage No Waza kata.

Nage No Kata (first 3 parts)

You will note that I had the pleasure of being Wonder Boy's uke (throwing dummy). Part of that was due to the fact that the test was held at the start of the winter holiday when there are fewer ukes from which to choose. And part of it was due to the fact that you need to be an advanced belt to perform the kata (or, in my case, have it performed ON you). And finally, there are not a lot of ukes at the dojo anywhere near Wonder Boy's size. Many are smaller. Many are a LOT larger. So this turned into a mother-son affair. I truly have been honored to be a part of this special day.

And I think you can tell from the looks on our faces, Wonder Dad and I are ever so proud of our purple belt boy!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Winter Interlude

As the fall semester draws to a close, one of our most anticipated moments finally creeps up on the calendar - Wonder Boy's winter orchestra concert! Now that he's in his second year of orchestra, an additional in-school concert was added for Veteran's Day back in November, but the BIG showcase for the fall semester is still the Winter Concert.

As in semesters past, Wonder Boy and his pals in the orchestra have been working for months to polish up a couple of special numbers for us and the concert was every bit as enjoyable as last winter and spring. In fact, in many ways is was even more enjoyable as the pieces they performed were longer and more complicated for these young musicians.

I have mentioned it in the past (& will probably mention it time and again), but it never fails to amaze me how far this group has come in such a short time. They hit the ground running the very first week of school and haven't slowed down one bit as they have prepared for two concerts already!

Here is your chance to listen to the winter concert. I apologize for the shaky video - I forgot to bring the tripod (oops!). The music is great regardless of my unsteady hand.

6th Grade Orchestra Winter Concert

I am confident that, after listening to them play their hearts out, you will understand why I can hardly wait until their next performance!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Introducing: Wonder Mutt

In the last few months, our family has added a new addition. We're calling him Wonder Mutt (at least, that's what we'll call him here). Our Puppy Princess (who is all princess and not much pup any more) wasn't too thrilled with our latest family member, but Wonder Boy couldn't be more thrilled and she is adjusting.

Wonder Boy has been dreaming of a dog to call his own for longer than I can remember. And he adores the Puppy Princess with all his heart. But she thinks of him as a litter mate. They play. And cuddle. But what he was looking for, I believe, is a dog that follows his every movement and cannot wait to be with him at the end of a school day.

Enter Wonder Mutt. The little man just ADORES Wonder Boy. They cuddle on the couch and play games of chase and fetch both in and out of the house(heaven help me).

Wonder Boy has started getting up 30 minutes earlier than normal so that he can lend a hand with managing Mr Mutt first thing in the morning, he helps with feeding time and potty training and all of the other little things that are needed to help Wonder Mutt fit into the puzzle that is our family and our routine. I believe this to be the key to their special bond.

Wonder Mutt came into our home about a month after Wonder Boy's birthday, but it seems like every day is a new gift, watching the two of them together. I look forward to many more years of seeing their relationship develop.