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!

 

Goodbye to the Amarillo Crew

As mentioned, David flew home on Friday but Bonnie and the kids stayed till Saturday. We decorated some glass stones in the morning and then they got loaded up to make the long drive back to Amarillo. But wait! Bonnie’s car wouldn’t start! Rich gave her a jump and let the car run for a bit. We loaded everyone up again and followed them to a gas station to fill the car and make sure it would restart, which it did.  Said our goodbyes one more time, then took Jack back to his house after sleeping over with us.  Thankfully Bonnie made it home with no further mishaps! We sure had fun with them and wish we could see them more often!

Bonnie has been a stay at home mom for the past couple of years but has always planned to go back to teaching when Ada starts Kindergarten. She and David both used to teach at Amarillo High and he is still there, but the school district has decided to enforce a rule they didn’t previously enforce, in which spouses cannot teach at the same school. She was pretty bummed about that but decided she’d get her certification to teach middle school math because there is a middle school very close to their house. She did her testing and got the certification out of the way and has done a little bit of subbing at that school to get her foot in the door.  She was recently contacted to see if she wanted to start teaching “immediately” because they’d lost a teacher. She said no, but was then asked about coming in January and she decided to go for it. So she  had a video interview, a test, and a personal interview before being hired to teach 6th grade Pre-AP math and one section of regular math starting next semester.  This has created a little bit of a scramble since Ada only goes to preschool 3 days a week and all three of the kids are at different schools, needing drop offs and pick ups. But she’s getting it worked out and I think is feeling a combination of excitement and worry about going back to teaching while juggling a family and lots of other responsibilities with a husband who already has two jobs!  I’m sure they will manage and I told her at least it’s only for half a year so they can see what works and what doesn’t and use the summer to regroup for next fall. I’m looking forward to hearing how she likes middle school after teaching high school for many years.  The kids will be lucky to have her! I know she cares a lot about them and wants them to be successful and competent in math and in life.

Thanksgiving

We got home from Amarillo on a Sunday and began our preparations for Thanksgiving right away. First off, I should mention that our guests from Honduras left a little unexpectedly for Austin, a long story that I will not go into here, but they are with family members and hopefully doing well. Unfortunately, they left the apartment in a mess so we spent some time cleaning it up and packing the items they hadn’t taken with them.  At any rate, it was convenient so that Bonnie and David could stay in the apartment when they came to town.

Sarah’s kids came over to help us make some pies and Elle especially wanted to make a cheesecake so we enjoyed hanging out with them while getting some baking done.  The boys helped me with pumpkin pies and Grandpa helped Elle with the cheesecake.  The next few days I made a pecan pie and some pumpkin bread while Rich made a chocolate pie and we prepped for Thursday.

Bonnie, Dave and kids arrived Tuesday night late and had Thanksgiving with my ex and his wife at Sarah’s on Wednesday, then we had our big meal here on Thanksgiving day.  Susan had to work so her family couldn’t come and were greatly missed. It is harder and harder to get all three families together as their schedules get more packed and the kids get older with other interests and activities. Someday I hope we can all be together at the same time again! Thanksgiving was really nice, too much food, lots of good conversation and laughter and cousins getting to play.

Friday morning Bonnie and I went with Sarah to Elle’s soccer game while the rest of the kids stayed with Rich and David. Elle played well and took a very hard hit ball to the mouth without missing a beat and kept on playing. That girl is tough! Afterwards David brought all five of the other kids (good job, David) to meet the rest of us for brunch at a cute place called Snooze that has an outdoor play area for the kids.  David was shooting a wedding the next day so he had to leave for the airport to fly home.  After brunch we came back to the house, then Bonnie, Sarah and Miles took all the kids to a movie.  Emery and Beck share a birthday on November 23 so we had a little party that night and then a very long, complicated “Game of Life” with the kids.  🙂  Happy birthday to these sweeties who are a lot alike in being creative, funny, smart, and very kindhearted. Emery is 9, loves all animals, “beanie boos,” reading, writing, drawing, asking hard questions, discussing deep subjects and is enjoying playing volleyball this year. Beck is 8, loves legos, building things, potty humor of any sort, reading, movies, piano, acting, and is having fun on his new school’s soccer team. We love these two!