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.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Project 15 to 15: Day 8

It's Day 8 of this project now and I am kind of hoping that today's picture and post will help the Boy and I do better about one adjustment he's been having with the start of high school - remembering to wear his student ID on Mondays!

It seems like such a simple thing. And Tuesday through Friday he does a GREAT job of remembering to wear it. But there is just something about the rush of Monday mornings that lends itself to him forgetting his ID. Thankfully, he can get a temporary ID name tag printed without penalty once he gets to school, but it is something we are both trying to be better at remembering!

In looking back to 2008, we see the Boy at his elementary school's fall festival working on his cowpoke skills:

This photo makes me laugh because, while the Boy doesn't consider himself "country" by any means, he is most CERTAINLY a very proud son of Texas! For many years he swore he would never, ever, ever leave Texas. Of course, we killed that plan by taking him out of the state to Colorado (with a stop or two in New Mexico) on vacation. And I'm happy to say that he has come around in his thinking when it comes to venturing out of state from time to time, but he will tell you openly and often that Texas is home. I'm glad the Boy loves his home state so fiercely, but I am also very relieved that he is learning to appreciate other places as well. Now, I hope that when the day comes that he willingly leaves home that he doesn't go so far that we fail to see him regularly. But I also hope that he gets to see as much of this world as possible.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Project 15 to 15: Day 7

We've made it to the end of the first week of this project and today I was able to grab this snap of Wonder Boy with his best girl, his puppy princess, Tori.

I love that the Boy loves his dogs so much. He has a "puppy alarm" set on his watch so that he never forgets to feed them in the evenings. He plays with them, he helps us bathe and care for them, and he makes sure they are bundled up warm and snuggly when he can't be there to cuddle with them. Watching him wrap up the dogs in one of his favorite fuzzy blankets is one of those things just makes me giggle. He treats them like his little babies. And they just soak it up! In the summer, when he is away at camp, they miss him terribly. And though he loves going to camp and being out on his own a bit, I know he misses them too (so we text him regular photos to keep him connected).

In looking back to 2007, we get another glimpse of our junior adrenaline junkie in his element:

This snap was taken a few weeks after his 6th birthday on a special family trip to Sea World in San Antonio. We all had a great time on that trip! The boy got to pet dolphins and manta rays. He laughed his head off at the silly antics of the seal and sea lions show. He was amazed by the acrobatics of Shamu. But the highlight of the trip was this Shamu roller coaster built just for kids his size. I think the 2 of them must have ridden that coaster about a dozen times - long lines and all! And to this day, roller coaster rides at theme parks are one of the Boy's favorite special treats.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Project 15 to 15: Day 6

Day 6 is here and I wanted to show you where you can most often find Wonder Boy these days: at his computer.

When in doubt, we know to go looking for the Boy at his computer. Sometimes he's working on school assignments. Sometimes he's pounding out a new program (he's working on making his own scientific/graphing calculator program right now). Occasionally we'll find him drawing on his Wacom tablet. And every now and then, he's just watching Youtube videos for fun. I am not sure if it is a generational thing or just a Wonder Boy characteristic, but this is his happy place. And since he, more often than not, uses his time for learning and expanding his mind, it's hard to begrudge him the time he spends on-line.

As we flash back to 2006, we see our Boy on his 5th birthday with his first favorite teacher:

The Boy has been blessed with an abundance of caring educators from preschool all the way through to his first year of high school. But this special lady was the first teacher who really connected with him. When he was at the height of his super hero phase, she let him wear his mask to class and even let him sign his papers as "the Dash" as long as he spelled it correctly. She encouraged him to express himself openly, regardless of what others might say or think. She played such a huge role in preparing him for the start of his academic career. She "graduated" from preschool with the Boy's class and we lost track of her for a number of years. But I am thankful that we now see her regularly around town.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Project 15 to 15: Day 5

Day 5 is here and so is the start of fall soccer! Whoop!

For a few weeks it looked like we might find ourselves without Saturday soccer for the first time in 10 years as the local rec league was short on players for Wonder Boy's division. The league kept registration open a bit longer and encouraged others to join in and in the end everything worked out. And I am so relieved that it did! I really enjoy watching the Boy play! This game was a tough one. Both teams were pretty evenly matched. The heat and humidity eventually took its toll though and Wonder Boy's team wilted a bit faster (they had fewer players to rotate on and off the field). And in the end, the guys in blue came away with a 4 to 3 loss. I think they show a lot of promise for the season to come. And the weather man is even promising a slight cool front for this week's game!

Our look back to 2005, brings a BIG smile to my face!

The boy and a book! Even today that is a pretty typical sight, I'm pleased to say. Curious George has long been a serious family favorite. We watched George on TV, we saw his movie, we read every book we could find, and we listened to the movie soundtrack in the car. We still have these books stashed away in the hope one day we'll get to share them all over again.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Project 15 to 15: Day 4

It's Day 4 of my favorite photo project, but unfortunately, I'm quite a bit under the weather and just didn't get around to taking a snap for today. So instead, I'm going to back up about a week or so and show this little snap I took while visiting with friends recently:

There is so much I love about this little snap - mostly the fact that it is just filled with laughter. I sometimes worry that, being an only child, Wonder Boy might have trouble fitting in when we are around large families like this one (our two closest sets of friends have 4 and 5 kids each). Wonder Boy has a number of cousins, but not any that live close by so we don't see them regularly. But it really is something I have never needed to worry over. The Boy seems to do well with older and younger kids alike. And in this instance, both brothers got a kick out of the big boy who didn't mind getting down on the floor and playing with them.

In our look back to 2004, we see the Boy and his dad at a traveling carnival that had come to town:

Like most kids, Wonder Boy loved the flashing lights and colorful sights of the traveling carnival as it set up in the mall parking lot each fall. And even better were all of the adrenaline inducing rides! This particular ride was pretty tame, even for a barely 3 year old Wonder Boy, but he loved it regardless! I still think about this evening when I see the carnival set up in the fall. Now days, the Boy sees the carnival as a "kiddie" thing to do, but he's still an adrenaline junkie at heart - he just prefers to get his kicks white water rafting or full sized theme park roller coaster rides in lieu of this simple airplane ride.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Project 15 to 15: Day 3

For Day 3 of this project, I wanted to highlight how much heavier the Boy's load has gotten now that he's started high school:

It has amazed me how much more he seems to have to shoulder (literally) each year. Every day finds him carting around his backpack with notebooks, text books, and lunch box, then he has his viola, his binder (with the rest of his school supplies), and quite often there are extra projects and supplies that have to make their way back and forth between home and school as well. To top it all off, the Boy's school is pretty big (by my standards). It's easily twice as big as the high school I attended, maybe even more. It has 3 stories and a ground floor. And the Boy's schedule is such that he doesn't stay on the same floor for any 2 consecutive classes. Before the year started, I might have worried about him not having a PE class this year. But he spends so much of his day running up and down those stair cases that I don't have to worry about that at all! He doesn't seem to mind the load. And he does have a personal locker and an orchestra locker to help with the load during the school day. But I know a lot of kids skip the locker all together and just carry everything everywhere. I guess that is good practice for when they move on to college.

In looking back to 2003 I'm going to share a big laugh with you all:

WHAT A MESS! I don't recall the specifics of exactly what led up to this massive cereal explosion on the kitchen floor, but for some reason the Boy was left momentarily unattended not long before bed time. And in that short span when no one was looking, he managed to spy his favorite cereal of the day (Kix) on the counter. I'm not sure how he reached it - he must have jumped. But reach the box he did! And after reaching it, he proceeded to empty it out on the floor for easy access. He ate his fill until the shock of it wore off enough for us to pull him out of the middle of it and let the dogs enjoy one HECK of a late night snack! It took us QUITE a while to find every last little kernel of Kix, even with the help of the dogs. I swear they kept rolling out from strange places for days! But as frustrated as I must have felt that night, I can't help but laugh now when I see this snapshot. Just look at his face - he didn't see a thing wrong with what he had done. And I suspect a big part of him was just proud of himself for getting that snack himself. Little bugger!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Project 15 to 15: Day 2

It's day 2 of my favorite project and today we look at another aspect of the Boy's personality that I truly admire - his creative side:

He gets on these creative kicks from time to time and I always try to soak it up when he does. He has some talent. Currently, he is enjoying sketching "impossible shapes" (think M. C. Escher) and some of his favorite fictional characters (like Deadpool and Bart Simpson). I love how he dives into his interests. He will watch tutorials on youtube, spend hours with his sketch book or wacom tablet on the computer, and some days (like today) he jumps out of bed having dreamed of something else he wants to try.

In looking back to 2002, we see Wonder Boy and his dad just a few weeks after his first birthday:

Even today, the first hour after Dad gets home from work is just about the best time of the day for our little family. Back in the day, the boys would hang out in the family room reading, wrestling, and doing all things boy before we had to jump into the routine of dinner, bath, and bedtime. These days it's more about going over whatever the Boy did at school or camp or whatever during the day and planning out our evening activities. It's still a great time though and I look forward to it just as much today as I did back in '02.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Project 15 to 15: Day 1

Woo Hoo! Today marks the start of my absolute FAVORITE photo project of the year - the photo countdown to Wonder Boy's birthday! As he is turning 15 this year, we start 15 days out.

This is one of the 2 white boards in Wonder Boy's room. Both boards are covered in equations, school notes, or programming functions. I tell people all the time that math comes to him like breathing and it is something I seriously admire about him. I love math as well, but what I love most about this aspect of the Boy's personality is that it's more than just school stuff for him. He wants to know how it works and WHY it works. He likes the theory behind the numbers and why they work together they way that they do. And that is something that I truly admire!

In looking back to 2001, we see our Wonder Boy at about a month old in one of his favorite places - the bouncy chair!

He was, in general, a pretty happy baby. He craved physical contact, but he was quick with a smile and was not really very shy (that came later). But this chair was one place he didn't mind letting go of us and hanging out long enough for us to grab a bite to eat, run a load of laundry, or maybe even grab a shower. We loved to get down on the floor next to the chair and watch him giggle as it bounced him around. Looking back at this snapshot, I can still hear that sound in my head and it is something I will always cherish.