Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year in review.

(Click on image to see bigger version.)

Our Christmas/New Year's card this year features highlights from 2008. Since some recipients may not know the stories behind the photos, here's a quick recap of this crazy year:

Upward Basketball:
Both kids participated in the Upward league last winter. It was a fun experience for all involved. Highlights are here, here and here.

New birth:
Ryan was baptized in January! We were so excited to see him make this commitment. Details are here.

Old mom:
I turned the big 4-0 this year. In spite of being sick the week of my birthday, we still managed to have a little fun—and sneak in an Austin trip—to mark the occasion. Photos and stories are here.

New heights:
The photo of Katie rock-climbing is from the Fourth of July. More pix from that outing are here. We also did some real "mountain climbing" this year when we visited Hot Springs, as you can see here. While we sometimes reminisce about our long-gone toddlers, we love that the kids are old enough to participate in more vigorous activities now.

Snow fun:
We had a couple of "snow days" this year. We had one night of snow, and then there was a drive home in snow. The real fun came when we had enough snow accumulated to create some pals in our yard. (We might've gotten a little carried away.) Snow photos are here. And then there was our other "snow day" when my school district closed after a wind storm because of massive power outages.

Regular readers know that we Dubs have a ton of random traditions. One such tradition is heading to Baskin-Robbins after certain school programs. Katie's picture is from our post-choir festival celebration. We seem to have a thing about going out for food after performances! Photos are here.

On the card, Ryan is celebrating his success in our family Easter egg hunt. (He found the "bad egg.") On other fronts, though, the kids celebrated success in school (spelling bees and the like) and at home (pwning me in Guitar Hero). Brett successfully completed volume 2 of Classic Home Video Games, and it was fun to collect a couple of royalty checks from his first book. Of course, he really enjoyed getting to meet other gamers at local signings and other events. As a family we also marked Brett's parents' golden anniversary. The celebration, though tinged with sadness, was another of our successes this year.

We have loved having our own pool, and that's where you could find us for most of the summer. This year, however, we started our swimming season just a tad earlier than usual. We also hosted our 12th annual swimming party for Ryan's birthday. Who would've guessed the silly little rubber duckies I threw in the pool would be turned into projectiles? Swimming photos are here.

We didn't plan any big trips this year, but we did manage to sneak in some time in Hot Springs, Arkansas. We also spent more than a couple of summer days at Six Flags, and on one crazy Saturday, we took a day trip to the Fort Worth Stockyards. The kids and I had a "big day in Big D," and for yet another mini-vacation, a friend and I headed west to celebrate a football buddy's 40th. These vacations are chronicled here.

Summer camp:
Katie attended Camp Impact in June, and then Ryan and I were at Camp Cornerstone in July. Both camps are on the Oklahoma Christian University campus, and both were rewarding! From my stint as a dorm mom at Ryan's middle school camp, I could tell how much fun the campers get to have and how much they learn. Some photos from our OC experiences can be found here.

New dog:
Frisco came to live with us this summer! She was a stray when she stole Brett's heart. The dog is flat-out crazy, but she's found a home with us. The story of how she came into our lives and some photos of her exploits are here. Unfortunately, soon after Frisco arrived, KitKat departed. ChaCha's still here, though, so we have the matching set of black-and-white pets.

Hook 'em:
For the 23rd year in a row, I had season tickets for Texas Longhorn football. The games and tailgates kept me entertained all fall (except for that one November night). The Texas-OU game and the State Fair were especially fun. (The BCS might not remember it, but Texas won, 45-35.) Ryan and Katie got to go to two games with me this year, and as always, their presence made those weekends extra special. Football and tailgating photos and a couple of rants are here. You'll also find all the times we spelled TEXAS with food at that link!

The photo depicts Ryan and Katie's Halloween costumes, but on this site are accounts of other holidays, too: New Year's, Valentine's Day, Mardi Gras, Easter, Mother's and Father's days, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The holiday collection is here.

Ryan is now in seventh grade (middle school) and Katie is in fifth (elementary). Ryan's pre-AP classes have been challenging, and because of that advanced curriculum, he's brought home some interesting projects, from pirate Potato Heads to Newton cars. Ryan plays trumpet in band, and Katie is loving her involvement in her school's choir. Meanwhile, I'm still teaching high school journalism and English. Some photos and stories from our school days are here.

So why do we have a picture of a bunch of boxes on our Christmas card? Home may be where the heart is, but storage is where a bunch of our stuff is! We began Project GOOD (Get Out of Dodge) this year and put our house on the market in August. In September, we had a buyer who was in a hurry to get into our abode, so we were on the fast track to find a new place. We fell in love with a bigger house, had a contract on it, and started moving our junk into storage to prepare for our closing date. And then we waited. And waited. And waited. We ended up having to cancel both contracts (on the house we were selling and the one we wanted to buy) because our buyers had some financing issues. Bummer. Our house is back on the market, our stuff is still in storage, and we pray that God will give us some peace while we're living in our mostly empty house. We are so very thankful to have this problem (our stuff has its own house!), but we're ready to know what's next.

So there you have it: our year in review.
All of these events and many others have made 2008 memorable, and we are blessed beyond belief. May you and yours enjoy a blessed 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

In the mail.

After two years of early mornings, late nights and plenty of hard work, Brett's manuscript is in the mail!

This book will be volume 2, a follow-up to Brett's Classic Home Video Games.

This afternoon we celebrated its completion. Especially after these last few days of photographing games and systems, double-checking the manuscript and printing all those pages, we're all excited to have a break from the deadline crunch ... at least until the publisher returns the proofs!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Holiday in the Park.

We finally made it out to Six Flags for Holiday in the Park. Even though the decorations screamed DECEMBER, the weather yelled SPRING!

Upon our arrival, lines were really short. We rode the Titan right away. (By mid-afternoon, we wished we had gone ahead and taken another spin because the lines were much longer later.)

The Cave (as I'll always call it) was awfully pleasant.

Last year the kids got a big kick out of Frosty's Snow Hill. We were happy to see the lines so short on this trip!

Sledding in shorts: only in Texas!

We also rode the Shock Wave a couple of times. Katie especially loves this ride.

After lunch the crowds had grown considerably. We knew we'd have to wait a while, but we wanted to ride Superman Tower of Power one more time this season. To help pass the time, I gave one kid my iPhone and the other my camera:

Interesting shots, eh?

We miss the old big chair that used to be here! We had made it a tradition to take a picture there every visit.

By the time we made our way to the exits, the park was lit up beautifully. We were so tired from walking all over the park, and my 40-year-old dogs were really barking.

So what would make me smile at the end of this long day?

It's the Barrel of Fun!

We had passed the one in Boomtown when I was fresh out of quarters. We saw another one later, but some guy was resting there with his baby and I didn't want to bother him. But when we saw this one in Spain, WHEEEE!!!

I even had four quarters by that point in the day, so each kid got a turn and I got two. Now how sad is that: After the Titan and Superman, my favorite "ride" was the Barrel of Fun! Best buck I spent all day.

Before we could escape, the kids noticed that the Conquistador line was really short. They rode it about four times while I held the hot chocolate.

It was crowded later in the day, but wow, was the weather perfect. We love, love, love Six Flags, and we're thankful we had such a nice day to use our 2008 season passes one last time.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Santa brought Guitar Hero World Tour!

Frisco even got a present.

Our stockings were loaded.

Ryan got SOCKS! His Christmas list had included "socks (n0t)."

After about 15 minutes, we could tell Frisco had already loved her present. Apparently, that stuffing was yummy.

We had a blast opening all our presents,

and then trying them out!

We bought a fried turkey from Popeye's this year, and it was awesome to only have the side dishes to prepare.

What a great day!