Monday, November 30, 2009

O Christmas Trees!

Christmas trees are bustin' out all over!
We started with our big family tree. It's in the entry by the staircase since there's not a good spot for it in our living room.
This tree is home to our family's heirloom, baby and handmade ornaments.
It's so handy to have the stairs right there! Of course, the stairs also tempt the kids to play "Plinko" and just drop ornaments to see where they'll land!
And the view from above.

One of my dreams was that after we moved, I'd have a tree in every room. I'm not quite there yet, but I did make one other dream come true: my Texas Longhorn tree!
Oh, it's all kinds of tacky with its orange and white, but I LOVE it! It's in our formal living room, the space that some day (Christmas break? spring break? SUMMER???) will become our library.
It's nice to put all of our UT ornaments in one place. I love all the burnt orange, too.
ChaCha wasted no time de-skirting our big tree, but she loves the Texas flag skirt! She has yet to mess with it (granted, it's early in the season), and we've found her on many occasions snoozing under this smaller tree.
We also have a little tree in our living room. This tree is home to our 13 years' worth of State Capitol ornaments that a friend has so generously given us over the years.

And then there's the gameroom tree:

This tree is home to most of our pop culture ornaments, from video games to superheroes to movie and TV characters.
And here's the story: It's home to the Brady Bunch, too!

Merry Christmas and happy NaBloPoMo! It's over!!! Thirty posts in 30 days. Whew.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving wrap-up.

After our delicious Thanksgiving dinner, we headed out to the gorgeous 60-degree afternoon for some...
Ryan's got some serious skill. Check out the mid-call toss!

Cara demonstrated her "Huggie Humdinger," a granny toss that was quite effective!
And after the game, Katie was tossing HERSELF around!

Then Cara and Jeff gave Katie's ripstick a try:

Next, we played HORSE. Wouldn't you know it, I was the first to get all my letters. What a surprise! ;) Ol' "Hoops McCoy" didn't stand a chance against those pros!

Ryan even came up with a shot that involved making a layup and then running over to Memaw and giving her a hug. Memaw thought that was a great shot, and wouldn't you know it, everyone made that one!

After enjoying the awesome weather, we all came back inside for the football games. Not content to veg, we also played Catch Phrase. Well, most everyone played Catch Phrase. A few of us were a little too involved in the Texas game to play once 7 o'clock rolled around!

And what a game it was! Like I said earlier, Colt was a stud. HE IS the MAN = Heisman? We can only hope!

By the time all the eating and playing and game-watching was finished, we were pooped! But more than anything, we were thankful for the time we got to spend with our family.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

So very thankful.

More Thanksgiving photos are coming, but today I'm compelled to record just how very thankful I am that we're in our new home. This afternoon we pulled our Christmas tree out of the garage, and as we were setting it up, I remembered this time last year when we were just a few weeks removed from the tremendous disappointment of NOT moving. By the time the sale of our house fell through, we had already cleared out many of our belongings, and just decorating for Christmas required spelunking trips into the depths of our stacked boxes and tubs in storage.

As we decorated our tree last year, we were still grateful to have a home, but we were so disappointed that we weren't in the house we thought would be ours. By the time our house sold "for real" this summer, we were old pros at getting by without all our stored junk, but last Christmas, we were still unaccustomed to life without our stuff. We also felt like we'd never get out of Dodge and we'd be stuck in that house forever. Those were not the best of days for the Dubs! I'd like to think we made the most of Christmas, but looking back, I can remember so well that feeling of disappointment.

But we kept the faith, and here we are! Praise God! Today as I pulled out the familiar decorations and found new places for them, I was overwhelmed with joy. We've been in this house for two months now, but there was something about seeing our stockings above our new fireplace, something about hanging our old "DecemBear" calendar in our new kitchen, that got to me. We're here! We're really here!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey Day!

It's not hard to count your blessings when you're sharing a bountiful feast with your family!
We spent Thanksgiving at Nana and Papa's house yesterday and stuffed ourselves with all kinds of wonderful food.

While we were sad that Chris and Erumi and Scott and his family weren't with us, it was wonderful to have Mike, Cara and Jeff in town!
And dinner was just the beginning of a gorgeous day!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Who won the Texas-a&m game?

We used turkey legs last year, and my in-laws happen to have a collie. I couldn't resist the temptation to spell Texas with our own Reveille look-alike!

I must admit: I had a TERRIBLE feeling about this game all week. Watching JJ and Michael run all over our defense didn't assuage my fears any, but how 'bout that Colt McCoy? The guy ends up rushing for a career high 175 yards on a night when we needed all the offense we could get. What a stud.

Texas 49, a&m 39. WHEW!!! Now let's beat Nebraska! Corn on the cob, anyone?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thirty days of thanks.

Many of my Facebook friends have been posting things they're thankful for as their status updates this month. I haven't done that, but I think that's an excellent exercise in gratitude. So today, on Thanksgiving Eve, I'm playing catch-up.

I'm thankful for...

1. My Father God, who loves me in spite of me.

2. My mom and dad who raised me to know and love my heavenly Father and who continue to teach me how to make my way through life's challenges, from health struggles to money issues to parenting dilemmas.

3. My husband, whom I love more every day. I'll never forget that Midtown singles Christmas party when we met. We were playing Trivial Pursuit and Pictionary, and I could tell I needed to get to know that tall guy who laughed at the same goofy things I did. Brett takes such good care of me and our kids, and he's the perfect even-keeled complement to my sometimes emotional temperament. He works harder than anyone I know, and he shows kindness to everyone he meets.

4. Our children. Ryan and Katie bless us every day with their sweet spirits, their insight and their humor. God has blessed us with them, and I try to do right by them.

5. My in-laws. Brett's parents are such wonderful people. Not only did they raise a wonderful man for me to marry, but they also have supported us over the years with babysitting and, most recently, with housing! I love them so much, and I thank God that we can live so close to them.

6. Our house. Oh, my goodness, I'm so thankful for our house! It took a while to get here, but I'm so glad we're finally here! I'm grateful for our friend who helped us navigate the real estate waters, too. He put in countless hours to show and sell our old house and help us buy this one. We're forever grateful.

7. My church family. I love Heritage, and it tickles me to see how much our kids love it, too. It's wonderful to have such a strong group of believers to worship with, to have a place to serve our Lord. I thank God for leading us to Midtown where Brett and I met, and I thank Him for leading Midtown to the Heritage community where so much growth has been possible.

8. My job. There's PLENTY to gripe about and much lately to be sad about, but today I thank God for putting me in a school with so many caring professionals who work so hard to enrich kids' lives. This is my 19th year there, and in those years, I've grown to love my Bell family so much. In times of hardship, that family has kept me afloat.

9. Summer! I LOVE having a job that gives me summers off! I wish I could've been a stay-at-home mom, but teaching is the next best thing. I relish my time with the kids. I have to remind myself of that when I'm bringing home mounds of papers to grade or when I'm working late every single night, but still.

10. Football season. Letting go of summer and going back to work is hard every single fall, but football season makes that transition easier. I love everything about football season, but the best part is getting to make those Austin trips to see my Longhorns play. The camaraderie with other Texas fans, especially our Section 1 friends, is unparalleled. It's nice to be among others who think burnt orange is the world's greatest color. (You think I'm extreme? There are women who paint their toenails burnt orange. I don't even do that!)

11. Facebook. I know that electronic friendships are no substitutes for real ones, but social networking has enhanced my life by allowing me to keep in touch with those real friends from days gone by. What's more, it's helped me keep up with friends I live near now but don't get to see or talk to as often as I'd like. That "ambient awareness" of what everyone's up to helps me stay connected, lets me know when and what to pray for, and gives me reason to rejoice with and for my friends.

12. Twitter. Again, many don't get the point of Twitter. They see it as some narcissistic nuisance. But for me, Twitter's not about what I'm saying; it's about what I can read from others! It's like being Facebook friends with famous people. Funny tweets, insightful tweets, some informative, some ridiculous—I enjoy the quick hits of info when I'm on the run. It adds to my sports-watching and enhances the way I get my news.

13. My iPhone. I joke that my phone changed my life. Now it hasn't really changed ME, but it has changed my lifestyle! When we were looking for a house to buy, it was awesome to go online and look up prices, square footage, etc. on the phone as we drove around town. When we need a movie time or a map or a score, it's right there. Too easy. Wonder where to eat? Give the phone a shake! House-hunting, vacationing, watching sports—all have been improved thanks to that phone.

14. ChaCha. You'd never know I'm not a cat person from the way I dote on my cat, but I'm not. Really!

15. Air-conditioning. I remember going to school before our elementary was air-conditioned: those big box fans, the open windows, the dirt, the sweat, the smells... I also remember that glorious first day of third grade when air-conditioning had arrived. I'm so thankful to live in a time and place where that luxury is so common!

16. Our cars. As frustrating as our cars may be sometimes, it's such a blessing to have our own transportation! Especially in our public transportation-poor area, this is such a necessity, and it's something we've never had to worry about. I take it for granted, but I shouldn't.

17. Proximity to shopping. Now that sounds superficial, but it's wonderful to be within minutes of a pharmacy, grocery store and gas station!

18. Plenty to eat. We're never hungry. Ever.

19. Plenty to wear. Now I may not like my clothes on any given day, but when we moved, I discovered that I had more clothes than I had closet space. Talk about an embarrassment of riches!

20. Adequate health care. Unlike many in the United States, our family is insured, and considering our needs, that's essential! I'm thankful that my insurance has no lifetime cap because we would have surely reached it by now.

21. Digital photography. Free from those rolls of 24 and 36 exposures, we can shoot to our hearts' content. Every now and then I have to remind myself how awesome that is!

22. Blogging. Even though I usually cheat and just post a bunch of football pictures, I still love having a creative outlet online. I'm a writer, after all, and at work, much of my writing is limited to responding to students' writing! I'm also grateful to have so many wonderful blogs to read (in all my spare time).

23. ESPN Radio. Because the Ticket is sexist and never seems to talk about, you know, SPORTS when I turn it on.

24. Blogs like Rude Truth. I'm thankful for women who call for the church to allow all Christians to use their spiritual gifts.

25. Kohl's, JCPenney and Belk for sparing me the hassle of shopping at the mall.

26. Chuy's bean and cheese stuffed sopapillas with tomatillo sauce. And the creamy jalapeno dip!

27. Our crazy dog. I usually refer to Frisco at Brett's dog, but she is really OURS. She's certifiable, but I'm glad she's ours because she makes Brett so happy!

28. The Brady Bunch, The Price Is Right and all the other mindless TV shows that remind me of my childhood.

29. YouTube. Sure, there's plenty of garbage on that site, but some of the old clips found there are gold!

30. These United States of America. We the people are blessed to think for ourselves, vote for ourselves, and express ourselves, and I'm thankful for all the men and women who have given their lives to preserve those rights for us.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Victory lap.

I didn't shoot this video, but I'm so glad someone did. What a great send-off for this senior class!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Game 11: Texas 51, Kansas 20.

With temps in the lower 60s, our last home tailgate was perfect football weather, or as Dede saw it, Snuggie weather!
Former Longhorn great (and Dallas Cowboy) Don Talbert paid us a visit. He was a regular visitor this season!
We watched Ohio State-Michigan and Tech-ou and later caught the UConn-Notre Dame game.

Dede and I walked over to Longhorns Ltd. While we were on that side of the stadium, we checked out the new Frank Denius Veterans Plaza. On one side is the memorial to Texans killed in World War I. Before the massive remodel, this used to be displayed in the north endzone (and over our heads when we had those awful seats in '01).

The newest addition to the plaza is "The Doughboy," a statue dedicated this past Veterans Day. Although it depicts a World War I soldier, it is meant to honor veterans of all wars. Frank Denius, the UT alum and D-Day hero, commissioned the statue and was there for the piece's dedication.

While on the north side of DKR, Dede and I cast our vote for Colt for the Davey O'Brien Award. We also got a chance to pose with the trophy.
Back at the tailgate, it was time to start cooking dinner! It takes a while to brown 20 pounds of ground beef!
Mmmm, chili!

Later we had a visit from a special guest: Tommy Nobis. Nobis paid our tailgate a visit last season, too, but it was still such a thrill to have him stop by. The guy is a true legend in Longhorn lore (starting on offense AND defense for his entire college career!), and he was the #1 pick in the NFL draft and Rookie of the Year as an Atlanta Falcon.

Nobis ate some chili and then was kind enough to share some stories with us. He talked about playing for Coach Royal and winning the national championship in '63. He also talked about how much he loves the University—the Tower and everything else about it. He mentioned how he was at training camp for the Atlanta Falcons when he heard about the Tower shootings in '66 and how devastating that was.

With all of his storytelling, it's not surprising that Tommy had a crowd around him while he was with us. It was interesting to listen to passersby. "Hey! That's Tommy Nobis!"

A couple of younger girls at the tailgate were asking who he was. Their dad told them it was Tommy Nobis, but that name didn't ring a bell. I told them that the opening video played before every game shows five former players: Bobby Layne, Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams, Vince Young and Tommy Nobis. Putting Nobis in an elite group with Vince seemed to make an impression on those young ladies! Truly, those five names are the ones on our stadium's version of the "Ring of Honor." It's nice to know that this big-time football star is such a down-to-earth gentleman—and a guy who likes his chili on the spicy side!

FINALLY, after a long day at the tailgate, it was gametime!

The senior introductions are always bittersweet.

Notice the trophy down there by Bevo? Ooh, I can't even type its name lest I jinx it, but ABC was promoting a certain January ballgame.

In the fourth quarter, when the game was well in hand, we knew Colt's time was almost up. He was shown on the Godzillatron joking around with Coach Brown, even talking on Mack's headset. Sure enough, Mack sent him back into the game for one more down. After that snap, all the senior starters were pulled off the field so they could get their ovation. On KU's next possession, the defensive senior starters had their moment of recognition. That kind of thing happens at basketball games all the time, but I don't remember seeing that at previous senior nights for football. Nice touch.
At the end of the game, we all celebrated Colt's record: the most career wins in Division 1 history!

After "The Eyes," the seniors took off on their victory lap around the field. They shook hands, fired Smokey the cannon, and Colt even beat on Big Bertha, the giant drum.

Then most of the seniors headed for the center of the field for a giant dogpile. Their joy was palpable! Colt, by the way, didn't join them. He was still jogging around the perimeter, shaking hands and high-fiving fans and security guards along the way. You could tell he was drinking in every last moment on that field.

I was, too. It's no secret how much I love these football weekends, and even though I still have at least one more game to attend, I'm still sad to see the home season end. That's why I tried to soak in every cheer, every high five, every note from the Longhorn Band and make the most of this last '09 home game.

After the game we headed back to the tailgate and took it down, packing everything away—for a couple of weeks, at least, since we'll have a mini-tailgate at the Big 12 championship game at Jerry World! Still, it was sad to see our spot cleared and dark and empty.
Until next fall...