Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snapshots of December

12th Man Day (12-12-12)
"Saw varsity's horns off"
Refusing to listen to the War Hymn at 12:12 on 12-12-12

Johnson City Courthouse

Carriage ride around Johnson City

Papa got all the kids head lamps just for fun, and Max rarely takes his off.

playing "Silent Night" at the nursing home

I have developed a growth.
Which reminds me of a song:
"Oh you can't pack a bag with a kid on your feet...
But you can be happy if you've a mind to."
Or something like that.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What's your secret?

Hey there, readers. I'm doing a little research for a writing project I'm thinking about taking on, and I need your help. What I want to know is this: What do you consider to be the secret(s) to a happy marriage? I don't care if you're young or old, male or female. And I don't care if you've been married 80 years or if you've never been married. I'm willing to bet everyone out there has some thoughts about this. Your answers can be silly or serious, have a story to go with them or just stand alone. Comment here on the blog, or on my Facebook page, but please comment. The more secrets I can collect, the better.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Family Talk

I was recently shopping and came across some Family Talk conversation starter cards on the super-clearance shelf. (It happened to be the Family Talk 2 set, but I wasn't picky). I picked them up on a whim, thinking it might be kind of fun sometime when there wasn't much to talk about at dinner. Well, it turns out it's the best $4 I've ever spent. The kids LOVE them! They want me to share our "table topic" before everyone can even get their little tukuses in a chair. And they get almost giddy looking forward to the next one. They were really bummed today at lunch that Jeff was going to miss it, since he had a meeting in Houston. I was touched by this and texted Jeff to let him know we were thinking about him. He immediately called and requested to be put on speaker phone, and then we all chimed in with our thoughts on space travel. Our family is close, and we always seem to have something to talk about, but I love these little cards and the fun, new element they've added to our mealtime conversations, whether we stay strictly on-topic, or whether we veer off in another direction. Some of them seem like they are more for older kids, but we haven't had any trouble making each topic work for our group. If you're looking for something to spark the conversation around your table or on an upcoming road trip, I highly recommend these. It would also be fun to do with extended family over the holidays.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


At breakfast this morning, I announced that it was "donation day." I gave everyone a large trash bag and told them their only goal for the day was to fill the bag with toys and clothes to be donated. It was interesting to watch how the rest of the day progressed under the influence of such different personalities. Weston finished his breakfast and immediately made a bee-line for his room, bag in hand. He got a quick start on filling the bag, and then kind of stalled out. But when I told him he couldn't play outside until the bag was filled, he managed to complete the task in a relatively short time. Ruth lingered at the table and leisurely made her way to her room. She then proceeded to empty every drawer, bin, box and closet and spread her possessions out in the middle of the floor. She slowly filled her bag, while simultaneously playing with  and admiring everything she owns and picking out some items that she wanted to wrap up to give to loved ones as Christmas gifts. That distraction seemed to bring the bag filling to a screeching halt, when the bag was only half full. While the gift giving was generous and thoughtful and sort of in line with what we were trying to accomplish, I insisted that she stick to the original goal of filling the bag. She was not happy to continue this work, but she did do it. Max refused to get up from the breakfast table. He just sat there. For-Ev-Er. And then, when I finally forced him to get up, he bawled and squalled and declared he wasn't going to give any of his things away. His bag sat empty on his bedroom floor for the better part of the day, while he alternately sat on his bed or on the floor just staring at it. If Jeff or I checked in with him, he began the bawling again. He finally found it in himself to put one item in the bag. When told that wasn't going to cut it, he went into hysterics once more. There were bribes, threats, appeals to compassion and competition, and leading by example. And finally, at the end of the day, when my vision for this project was wearing thin, I declared I would just do it myself, leaving him no choice in which toys would be donated. (In fact, I had been secretly slipping things into the bag while his back was turned). This, and the fact that he finally decided he was ready to go outside and jump on the trampoline, motivated him to add a few more things to the bag, filling it to an acceptable level. It was so amusing to see all the different personalities at work (or not at work, as the case may be).  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

5K before breakfast

Sorry I've been absent from the blog for a while. But between my more-than-full-time (unpaid) day job, my actual paying job and the multitude of holiday parties, well, "ain't nobody got time for that." But, today, I have big news! Back in January, Jeff and I started a running program to fulfill one of our New Year's resolutions. (Couch to 5K, if you're interested.) I'm no runner, so the thought of running a 5K seemed pretty fantastical to me. In fact, at that time, I could barely run for one minute without huffing and puffing and feeling like I was going to die. But, we kept it up, and eventually, I improved. By mid-summer, I could run for about 20 minutes at 5 miles an hour. I wasn't ready for a 5K, but I was feeling pretty good about myself and the progress I was making. Then, I had an intimate encounter with the concrete, and my running program came to a screeching halt. For two months, the pain and the fear and the advice of the doctors kept me off the treadmill, except for the occasional slow-paced walk. When I was finally given the o.k. to go back to running, I was definitely not where I had been. But, at least I wasn't completely back to square one. I have been running pretty consistently every other day since then, usually at 5 miles an hour. And today, I finally ran my 5K! There were no cheering fans or free t-shirts, but I certainly felt like a winner! And for any of you out there who may be considering starting something that seems impossible or beyond what you think you are capable of, I would just like to encourage you to go ahead and get started, and keep at it, even if you have to move slowly. Because nothing feels quite like doing something you didn't think you could do!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Holiday Festive

So, we homeschool. And, we work from home. And, at the risk of opening up the stereotypical argument about "socialization," let me just say we haven't had a whole heck of a lot of opportunities for non-family holiday parties in the last few years. This year is different. We have a slew of parties to attend. One of the invitations requested that we wear "holiday festive" attire. Y'all. I didn't even know what holiday festive attire was, and I certainly didn't own any. But, that was easy enough to remedy with a little Internet searching and a swipe of the plastic. The real struggle is that I'm just not very good at people. (Seriously, the kids are "socialized" just fine, but I'm another story altogether). I can write words all day long and put them together in a way that sounds fairly decent, but when the mode of delivery is my mouth, all bets are off. Just knowing this about myself makes me uptight and awkward, and I tend to withdraw. The life of the party I'm not. But, I am determined to improve myself in the interpersonal department. It's one of my New Year's resolutions that I'm trying get a jump on. And this is one of those that only comes through practice, so there's nothing to do but just do it. The first party of the season was tonight. I was not amazing by any stretch of the imagination. But, I did have my "holiday festive" on, and Jeff said I didn't embarrass him, so we'll call that a baby step in the right direction. I will continue to practice, and we'll see how it goes. I'm open to suggestions, so feel free to share your tips and tricks for being party perfect.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Beginning

Fifteen years ago today, Jeff and I got engaged, and it seems like the right time to share the beginning of our story, for those of you who have joined us a little later in the journey. 

We met the summer before our Senior year of high school at Student Council camp in San Angelo. I say "met," but that's not quite right. We noticed each other from a distance but never had a face-to-face conversation. On the last day of camp, as I attempted to carry all my earthly possessions to the school van in one trip, with my right hand bound up in an Ace Bandage because of a surgery I had had the week before, the door closed in my face. Jeff happened to be on the other side and stepped up to open it. I knew him only as Jeffy Weffy at that time, from a silly incident earlier in the week, and I remembered he was from Wink, only because it was a funny sounding name for a town. We had no other interaction at camp, but I remembered his smile and his kindness long after I got home. 

In some crazy, alter-ego experience (because this is not who I was, nor is it who I am) I decided to look him up in the camp directory and write him a letter a few weeks later. It was a ridiculous letter, filled with silly high school girl nonsense. And I slipped in a photo because I was sure he wouldn't know me by name, but I thought he might remember me if he saw the picture. Turns out I was completely wrong about that, because he had no recollection of our brief encounter at the door. But, fortunately, he thought I was pretty, so he wrote back. And, that's when we became "pen pals." Because this was back in the day before rampant teenage cell phone usage and certainly before texting was even a thing. And, I'm so thankful for that, because over the next year we were able to develop a sweet friendship, in plain English (not text-speak) and in my comfort zone of communication, that has laid a firm foundation for our entire relationship. 

About nine months after that first letter, we had an opportunity to meet each other face-to-face. It was just a couple of hours, in a mall in Austin, but it was a blast. And, we were both elated to know that there was another Student Council event coming up in just a few weeks, that we would both be attending. And, it was probably at that next event that we fell in love, without even knowing it. What we did know was that we laughed (a lot) and talked about everything under the sun and that we had a tremendous amount in common and enough not in common to make it interesting. 

In the fall, Jeff went off to Rice and I headed to Texas A&M, and the letters (and newly added phone calls) continued. I invited Jeff up for a football game, and we had what we call our first date. And, then we were hooked, and I guess we started to consider ourselves a couple. Jeff transferred to A&M after the spring semester. 

After almost a year, we called it quits and decided to "date other people," even though neither of us did much dating of other people. We remained friends, and after a few few months decided we wanted to give our romantic relationship another go. It was a few awkward months of each of us trying to decide (separately) if we wanted this to be a permanent thing. 

And then, following the Thanksgiving break of our Junior year, Jeff stopped by my parents' house to talk to them about asking me to marry him. With their blessing, he then concocted a great engagement plan. He asked me to drive down to Houston with him on the 5th, to visit his old roommate and have a nice little date before finals. I went along, unsuspecting. When we got to his former roommate's place, Jeff unloaded a pile of packages, which I thought were for Jamison. As it turned out, it was my fancy black formal and all the accessories, which he had had my roommate smuggle out of my apartment for him. He said he just wanted to treat me to a really special night before I got stressed with finals. I believed him, because he had done this kind of thing before. We went to a South American restaurant we had visited when he was attending Rice. There were roses waiting for me, which was also not completely out of the ordinary. After dinner, we decided to drive down to Galveston, repeating another date from his days at Rice. We walked on the beach for a while, even though it was freezing. And, just as I was about to demand we go back to the car and crank up the heater, he stopped and said he had something for me. He asked me to close my eyes, and when I opened them, he was down on his knee in the sand, extending the most beautiful ring to me and asking me if I would marry him. 

And the rest, as they say, is history.  It's one of my favorite stories of all time.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

new toys

Kings and Queen of the Hill

posing with Mimi

"I'm 7 and you're not"

setting traps with Grandpa

Tiny Hunter 
Speed Racer takes on the ranch

the best catch of the trip

half-birthday girl

bundled up and ready to roll

sack race

Sound asleep in the back of the truck.
What you can't see are the two dead coons just under his elbow.