Happy New Year

photo-1537470284582-8da71000386cWe started out with a bang with Susan and Corey coming on the 1st for an overnight visit and leaving the kids for the rest of their holiday break. We were excited to see them as it had been a little while. We all went to Sarah and Miles’ for the evening and had a lot of fun hanging out. Susan and Corey headed home in the morning and we spent the next several days entertaining grandkids!

We went to see “Mary Poppins Returns,” Rich and Aidan saw “Bumblebee,” Elle and Jack slept over at our house while Beck and Miles went with friends to a basketball game, we went out for treats, we attended Elle’s soccer scrimmage with Durham cousins and back to Sarah’s house to play some more, Rich cooked all their faves, we played Mexican Train and Racko and Apples to Apples, ran around outside, and basically wore ourselves out.

One day we decided to take a hike at the Trinity River Audubon Center.  Arriving around 3:30, we drove into the parking lot and walked up to the visitor’s center, which was closed. The sign on the door noted that it was only open till 3 PM. There was a staff member inside who saw us and waved to us so we decided to go ahead and hike even if we couldn’t go inside the building. We took off and had a nice little stroll on the trails. I’m sure it’s prettier in the spring but I was still glad we got out in the sunshine and fresh air. and off our “devices.” 🙂  At the end, we got into our car and drove out of the parking lot, only to find the gate padlocked! Oh, no! We drove around looking for another exit, which did not exist. Circling around to the visitor’s center, we saw a young couple walking through the parking lot so I rolled down my window and asked if they knew of another way out. They said no, but they had already contacted the staffer in the building and he was coming to unlock the gate. Whew! We joked with the kids that we could have spent the night in the abandoned bus on the lot! Kinda strange they would let us drive in and then lock us in. Maybe better to lock the gate right at 3 and not let anyone else enter??

Before we knew it, it was time for Aidan and Ally to go home and back to school.  We always love having them come to visit and hope they won’t ever outgrow it! Aidan will be 16 in March and Ally 12 so our days may be numbered!  We drove them to Abilene because Susan and Corey were working, had lunch with our friends Kyle and Ingrid in from France for a visit, got to see our friend Karen for a few minutes during her work day, and met Susan after work so she could get the kids. Another great visit ends and we are back to our routine in Dallas.  Happy 2019, everyone!

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Christmas Time

Here’s a little round-up of the holidays.

Rich’s sister Vesta had a long layover at DFW on her way to a friend’s in Georgia. We picked her up, took her to lunch, and visited for several hours before having to return her to the airport.  It was a nice surprise to get to see her!

Volunteer party, looking at Christmas lights, playing in a huge box is better than anything, hot chocolate always hits the spot!

Visit from my friend Susan, gifts and cards from near and far, holiday toys donated to refugee families, Christmas Eve and Day with Sarah and Miles, along with Miles’ family. It was a lovely season and we are appreciative of the many people who bring so much to our lives. Thank you to all and let’s hope for peace, love, and justice in the new year.

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Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Best Wishes for 2019!

We wish all of you the happiest of holiday seasons and a fabulous new year.  I always love sending out Christmas cards and love receiving them even more.  And photo cards are the best ever! But with all of my kids scattered, with different schedules and kids’ activities keeping them close to home, it has become more and more difficult to get everyone together for group pictures these days.  Also many of my family and friends keep up with us on Facebook and Instagram so it seems redundant to send out the same pix they see online. So this year I am just referring my card recipients to the blog to catch up on our news and see the latest photos. Welcome, friends! Scroll over the photos to see captions and feel free to read blog posts if you want more info than you can stand. 🙂

Susan, Corey, Aidan and Ally live in Clyde TX where Susan is a CNA at a nursing home and Corey drives a truck for an oil company. Aidan’s a high school freshman (WHAT?!) and Ally is in 5th grade.

Bonnie, David, Emery, Luke and Ada live in Amarillo where David continues to teach high school economics and has a thriving photography business on the “side” (more like another full time job). Bonnie is returning to teaching in January after a few years home with kiddos. She will be teaching 6th grade Pre-AP math and one section of regular math at a middle school near their home. Emery is in 3rd grade, Luke’s in 1st and Ada is in 4 year old preschool.

Sarah, Miles, Elle, Beck and Jack live here in Dallas so we get to see them a lot! Miles has a successful construction business and Sarah holds down the fort at home while volunteering and running around with kids.  Elle is in 5th grade, Beck is in 2nd and Jack is in 4 year old preschool.

I’m thankful for our family and the good year we’ve had. I know we are fortunate and life is not easy for some. Wishing for a more just and peaceful world where everyone can feel safe and encouraged and able to achieve their greatness.  We hope each of you thrives in the new year. Keep in touch, friends!

Weekend: Bball, Futsal, and a Reunion

Beck is playing basketball with some boys from his new school and has really stepped up his game this season.  The last couple of years, even though he wanted to play, he didn’t seem overly into it or quite sure of the rules. We went to his game this morning and, although his team got beaten pretty badly by their opponent, he was quite the little player, giving it his all, running up and down the court, defending with fervor, and he even stole a ball, dribbled down and made a basket. Yay, Beck! He was very proud of himself and I think it will help his confidence.

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Elle’s soccer team is playing in a 5 on 5 Futsal tournament this weekend so we had to check it out. Never heard of Futsal before! It’s played on a hard floor at a smaller indoor court with a smaller, low bounce ball.  Wow, super fast paced and very competitive, it was really fun to watch and, of course, Elle dominated as usual! That girl is good!

I’ve mentioned before that I have stayed close with some of my ex’s family, including two of his aunts who live in Dallas.  Aunt Lue had a birthday on the 11th and her daughter Susan came in from California for a visit, as well as planning a dinner celebration at a restaurant for Saturday night. Our family was included but the invitation said 8 PM to 10 PM, which made Sarah decide it was too late for her kids. She never could find a sitter so Miles was going to stay behind.  I told Sarah we’d pick her up at 7:30 because I did not want to be the ones who showed up late!

I had a little moment of panic Saturday evening thinking 8-10 PM was pretty late for the 80 and 90 year old aunts, and what if I had misunderstood? I dug back though my emails and had an e-vite to an event which plainly stated 8-10.  Still for some reason I had a feeling of unease and I almost texted the other aunt, Frankye, to ask her if that was correct. But then I thought, well, I have the invite right here and that’s what it says!  I brought all of this up to Rich and he thought I was just being silly and obviously it couldn’t be wrong.  So we started getting ready and about 6:30 Rich said I had a text from Susan which said, “hey, are you coming?”  OMG. I wrote back, “Yes! My invite says 8-10, is that wrong?”  She said, “No, honey, it’s 6!”  I couldn’t believe I didn’t follow my instincts and confirm with someone beforehand.  She called me and I apologized profusely and told her that I had even pulled the invitation back up and that’s what it said. She couldn’t understand what could have happened; said everyone else’s was right and they were all there. So we told her we would rush and we got into high gear.  I called Sarah and she said she was nowhere near ready and would just meet us there.  Then Susan texted back and said she was really sorry and the invitation WAS wrong.  Because the rest of them had been together, they all knew the correct time without really looking.  I felt a little better knowing that I had not messed up.  🙂 We finally arrived an hour late but everyone was in good spirits and no big deal.  Poor Sarah was even later, having gone to the wrong location first and then driving over.  The restaurant kept her dinner warm in the back but she arrived along with our desserts! All in all, a wonderful time was had despite the comedy of errors–and we stayed till 10 PM anyway!  So much fun to catch up with both aunts, Susan and her brother Steven, Frankye’s daughter Kim, whom I had  not seen in many years, her husband Gene and their daughter Summer.

Beck’s party Soars, Refugee girls Shine

Since Beck’s birthday was near Thanksgiving, his party was postponed till last weekend. He invited a bunch of friends to a place called SOAR United, where we’d never been, but it ended up being a ton of fun for the kids.  Obstacle courses, dodge ball court, skateboard park, lots of equipment to hang from and jump off and run up and you get the picture. Add in pizza and a cookie cake and the chilly, rainy, gloomy day outside was forgotten. Sarah and Miles are troopers and had four of the boys come back to their house for a sleepover afterwards. All survived and Beck was happy.

Sarah and I attended the Project Shine holiday party last night and had a wonderful time.  Project Shine builds upon the strengths of adolescent refugee girls and helps them adjust to and negotiate their new life in the US. We always love these gatherings and were excited to see some of the girls we’d met before and to make new friends too. Besides snacks and chatting, we all got to make wreaths to take home. Very cool. It’s truly touching to hear the girls’ stories, their hopes and dreams for the future, and their self confidence as they feel supported and encouraged by the mentors who engage with them one-on-one.  We love Seek the Peace and Project Shine!

CookiePalooza

Rich and I were asked to make four dozen cookies for Seek the Peace’s holiday party for the Project Shine girls.  Of course my husband is an overachiever and wanted to make an assortment of decorations. We mixed up sugar cookie dough from scratch and let it chill for awhile, then cut out a bunch of cookies, baked them, let them cool and began decorating. This took us till 1 AM. We had some frustrations and some turned out better than others, but it was a labor of love for some wonderful refugee girls and we were happy to support them in this small way.

Our friend Tess and her husband Jason founded Seek the Peace and do a great deal of proactive work on immigration and refugee issues. Project Shine specifically supports adolescent girls in becoming empowered to “shine” in all of their greatness in their new country.  Learn more here (and support them if you can).

Jack Spends the Night, Beck Debuts in a Play and My Sister Comes to Town

Jack loves to stay with us and of course we love it too! Sarah teases that we are his “real parents.”  🙂   I picked him up from preschool one day and took him with me to mail a package at the UPS store. In the same parking lot stood a McDonald’s so he asked if we could get some ice cream. Now I don’t think he ever goes to McDonald’s or how he knows they have ice cream but I said yes and he was thrilled. We ate before he realized there was a playroom so he had to do that as well.  We came home and “Glampa” had the news on, which mentioned Donald Trump.  Jack said, “DONALD?? We got ice cleam there!” We had to explain DONALD Trump is not McDONALD’s.  Pretty cute.  We did our usual playing of games, eating, petting Ajax, bath time and overnight–he is so easy and we always enjoy this little dude.

The next day my sister Kathi and her granddaughter Rena arrived for a visit.  Kathi is active in theater so she wanted to see Beck’s first play, “A Seussified Christmas Carol,” in which he performed the role of Bob Cratchit.   Rena is 6 and super cute and sassy. She and Uncle Rich were at each other most of the visit.  🙂  The first night we played some games and she got out the rock painting kit I’d bought for Thanksgiving fun and never had time to do. We took a walk around the neighborhood, finding that the chickens are still not back…wonder what they are doing! Rena collected leaves of every size, shape and color to take home with her.  They slept in the apartment, which she called “the little cabin” and I think I like that name better!

Saturday we met up with Miles, the boys, Miles’ mom and grandmother for lunch while Sarah set up the concession stand at the theater for Beck’s play. It was fun to catch up with them before we headed over to the venue. The play was really funny and fast paced, with the kids speaking in rhyme to tell a mashed up version of Scrooge and his three ghosts, narrated by Thing 1 and Thing 2.  Beck did a great job as Cratchit and we were all very proud of him taking this on as an 8 year old! He seemed to have a good time and said he loves it.  Poor boy had soccer that morning, a matinee performance, a piano recital, and then a night time performance. Whew! He had a big crowd at the matinee with all of us plus most of Miles’ family.  Sarah said he seemed a little more nervous knowing we were all in the audience. 🙂

Afterwards we walked around the square in Carrollton where the theater is located, and browsed at a fun candy shop where everyone found their favorites.  Then back to Sarah’s to get ready for the piano recital, but Jack fell asleep in the car so we stayed there with him, Elle and Rena while the rest went with Beck to the recital. We had him play his piece for us first, of course!

More visiting with Kathi and Rena last night, then they had breakfast with us before hitting the road to San Antonio.  Another fun visit and we’re so glad they came!