Monday, December 24, 2012

Three years and forever.


Three years. Really? How is that possible?

No way it's been three years because I can still see him in his sweater vest, sitting at the computer in the sound booth, signaling "chorus" or "verse 3" to John.

It can't have been three years because I can still hear his voice so clearly. That accent. That energy. His "Y'all still likin' your house?" His "Hey, girl" phone greeting (which was even funnier when Brett took the call).


At football games I still half-expect to hear from him—some comment about the Horns, or more likely, about the officiating. And sometimes, when I'm especially frustrated with Big 12 refs, I imagine how he would defend his brothers in stripes. How is it possible that three football seasons have passed since we've exchanged those Saturday afternoon texts?

But it has been three years. Three years since we got the email about the accident. Three years since the phone call. Three years since we drove through the snow, the ugliest snow we'd ever seen, to the hospital. Three years since Facebook lit up with prayers for and then tributes to him.

It has been three long years since we said goodbye to our friend, our buddy, and in that sense, it feels like it's been forever. Forever since we've seen him, since we've laughed with him, since we've thanked him.


We will keep trying to count all the ways he used his 44 years on earth to bless people. We will thank God for the impact he made on our lives and others'. We will continue praying for comfort for his family and dear friends. And we will love Tim Head.

Forever.



Thursday, December 13, 2012

Twelve things for 12/12/12.

(inspired by saltycrunchybitterfresh)

  1. 'Tis the season for sick kids. Katie was sick at home overnight and went to school late, and Ryan got sick at school and came home early. Good grief.

  2. It's scary how much I'm enjoying this season of Survivor. It's our Wednesday night ritual (after church,  of course), and I can't wait to see each week's episode. What a treat it was to meet Lisa Whelchel, one of this season's castaways. It's a blast to get to watch the show with the world's greatest Survivor fan, too.

  3. It's also scary to think how angry The Amazing Race finale made me. There were all kinds of tough "road blocks" that challenged the contestants mentally and physically throughout the race, but it all comes down to a final test that relied mostly on luck? What a let-down.

  4. And I really wanted Trey and Lexi to win. In fact, I wanted them to win before the first episode even aired. (It might've had a little something to do with the Longhorn gear they were wearing in their team photo.)

  5. As much as I love Survivor and TAR and a few of the HGTV-type shows, I'm really not that into reality TV. I just don't get Duck Dynasty. Our school district was abuzz because Si was visiting campuses today (his daughter teaches at one of our junior highs), but I'm out of the loop on that one. 

  6. How cliche to talk about the weather. But wow, it's winter now, huh?

  7. After a hiatus of a few years, our pop culture Christmas tree is back! Ryan's the one who really encouraged me to get 'er done this year. It's so much fun to have all our comics/sci-fi/TV/Disney ornaments in one place! It's nice to have that multi-colored tree in the gameroom, too. Pix to come. It'll probably be next JULY(!!!), but they'll be posted--eventually. (In the meantime, here are our trees from way back in 2009, our first Christmas in this house.)

  8. You know you've been teaching Macbeth for a while when you start quoting it at every turn. Here comes my fit again: Full of scorpions is my mind, dear reader! 

  9. Our Christmas cards are done! They're waiting for pick-up at our local Walgreens. Of course, I'm far, far, FAAAAR from having the address labels ready, but hey, at least the cards are printed. 

  10. Even though the Walgreens photo-card route is so much easier, I still miss spending hours in InDesign coming up with an original card. It's so much fun to stretch those creative muscles and design something unique. Oh, well. Maybe next year.

  11. My attempts to hide from Christmas have not been altogether successful. I can't help but love the lights, the decorations, the food. Katie has even convinced me to turn the car radio to the Christmas station a few times. Remarkably, my breakdowns have not been as prevalent as they were in those first days after Thanksgiving, but even thinking about Christmas Eve makes my heart race a little.

  12. Or maybe that's just the Diet Mountain Dew I just drank.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Depleted.

There are two days left in NaBloPoMo, and in spite of my best intentions to wrap up our vacation posts before month's end, it looks like I won't make it.

Work's crazy, home's busy, and grief's tough. Some nights blogging is great therapy, but some nights it's yet another chore. So I'm calling this whine-fest a post. While I'm at it, I'm calling it a night!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Green-eyed.

It is a blessing to be married to someone who complements you, someone who does what you don't, who is up when you're down. Over the 19 years we've been together, Brett and I have done a pretty good job of complementing each other. As Jerry Maguire would say, he "completes me."

But sometimes, it's just plain irritating that he's so good at something that gives me fits.

There are many things Brett does exceptionally well. Fitness, for example. At 45, Brett's in fantastic shape. He works out all the time. He walks the dog and rides his bike, hitting our neighborhood trails multiple times a day. It pains him to miss getting outside when the weather's nice. He's a model of physical activity.

Cooking is another one. He has a gift for mixing ingredients to create tasty meals. He also has an inner calorie counter that keeps tabs on what he's eaten and how many soft drinks the kids have consumed in the last 48 hours.

But Brett's quality that's causing me the most jealousy right now? His utter LACK of jealousy. He has always been the kind of person who can be genuinely happy for others' success. Sadly, I can't say the same of myself.

I have long struggled with being jealous, of wishing I had what others have. I can logically see the huge flaw in my thinking and I KNOW that envy is a sin—a destructive one, at that. I have prayed about it, and over and over I have counted my many blessings, trying to make my heart feel what my head knows. I'd like to think that I'm doing better with this ugly envy as I've aged, but events of late have reminded me that I'm NOT.

It only takes a quick survey of my husband's enviable (See what I did there?) attitude to see how far from the goal I really am.

So yeah, it bothers me that he's able to bypass the downfalls of jealousy, and it's frustrating that he can't empathize when I'm caught in the envy trap. But Brett is gracious enough to forgive me when my many flaws rear their ugly heads, and I'm blessed to live with such a great role model.

It's time I quit being jealous of Brett's attitude and start emulating it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chop, chop.

After putting it off for weeks, I finally got a haircut.

Actually, I got quite a few hairs cut. I had the stylist take off a good 3-4 inches. By the way, it's interesting to see her rendition of "shoulder length." Am I supposed to shrug all the time to make my hair reach my shoulders?

Anywho, I don't like it yet, but I'll get used to it. My hair was the longest it'd been since—oh, I don't know—fifth grade, and I was tired of it getting caught behind my back when I drove or getting entangled in my purse strap. And I guess I was just plain tired of it.

Vive le difference!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Honorable.




We are so proud of our National Honor Society member!




Congrats, Ryan!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pay no mind to that crazy lady sobbing in aisle 5.

Think I could pull off wearing noise-canceling headphones while I shop? I'm already ├╝ber-emotional dealing with Christmas, but it's all the piped-in holiday music that's pushing me over the edge! (Have I mentioned that my mom loved to sing?)

At the symphony last night, I lost it a couple of times, but in the Bass Hall, it was nice and dark, allowing me to have my moment privately, even as I was surrounded by people.

At Garden Ridge (or Target or Walmart), there's nowhere to hide.

Of course, holidays are hard for lots of folks, not just those who have lost loved ones in the past year. Individuals who have gone through divorce or are far away from home really struggle. And even for those grieving, there's no one-year limit to the pain of facing the holidays without that husband, wife, son, daughter, mom, dad, friend, etc.

Even though Mom's rapid decline stunned us, we still knew that she was in terrible health. We had no idea this would be our first Christmas without her, but at least we had some inkling that this could happen. I can't even imagine how much harder it is for those who lose their beloved with no warning. I look at my two friends who abruptly lost their husbands and just marvel at their strength. How much harder holidays (not to mention every other day) must be for them, and yet they face each occasion, each moment with such courage.

Until now, I feel like I've had the luxury to let grief wash over me at the most opportune times. I'll grieve privately in my car, in my darkened classroom, on my couch at home. But thanks to those Christmas carols, I'm afraid that my grief will leak out of my every pore and reveal my hidden anguish. Suddenly, my mourning won't be so private anymore.

So I'm thinking it's either headphones or a great big nametag: "WARNING: Woman prone to sudden emotional breakdowns."


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Symphony Saturday.

For the third time*, we attended the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra's "Home for the Holidays" program. It's a great way to get in the Christmas spirit, and it gives us a great excuse to head downtown to see the big tree. 

While the concert wasn't up to the very high bar set by that first performance we saw, it was still excellent. The handbell choir, the Seminary master chorale (acapella "Ave Maria"!), the sing-along and the snow all make it worthwhile. (Dinner at Jakes before the show and seeing tons of Heritage folks there didn't hurt, either.)


Snow in the Bass

The FWSO, handbell choir, master chorale

FW Christmas tree



We're gangsta.


Photobomb!


The dudes abide.


Bass Hall angel
(Yes, I photograph these every. single. time. So?) 


And just to show Ryan and Katie that you CAN survive having a ridiculous photo of yourself posted online, I present this outtake:
YIKES!
*We first saw the Christmas pops performance in 2008. Last year's post is here.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Turkey at the tailgate.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Horns take on the Horned Frogs tonight in DKR, so I'm celebrating turkey day at the tailgate with our section 1 friends.


Frog legs in honor of TCU


Just desserts


The spread



Full plate

Our bellies and hearts are full. Now all we need is a Longhorn victory!

Hook 'em!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giving thanks.

Since I've had more than a couple of sobfests today, it seems like a good time to count some blessings. Obviously I'm not dealing with tomorrow's holiday as gracefully as I'd like, so I'm overdue a reality check. It's thanks-giving, after all!

I'm thankful for...

  • a husband who has supported me through not just the loss of my mom but her illnesses and dementia, too. The way he loved and cared for Mom was exceptional, and my love for him grew with each errand, each hospital stay, each phone call he fielded to spare me some pain. Needless to say, Brett filled the ol' "love bank" (to use a marriage class term) to overflowing.
  • children who loved their Memaw and gave her so much joy. They love their mom, too, and they're so good to me. I feel like I've been too needy lately to really mother them as I should, but they've been gracious enough to cut me some slack.
  • family that comes in many forms. I have my family-family, my husband's family, my school family, my church family... All of my families have supported me immeasurably over the years and especially over these past three months.
  • a job that's not just a job but a calling, a ministry. I'm proud to be a teacher like my mom.
  • parents who taught me what life is all about. They lived to give of themselves to others. I don't know if I'll ever make it, but I hope to live up to their example someday.
  • memories. In my office are boxes of photos that remind me of my childhood. I fear I'll forget those sweet memories, so I'm glad that we have those keepsakes to help me recall those precious days.
  • football. My favorite stress-reliever is also a great distraction. Even though it means being away from my family on Thanksgiving, I'm thankful to have a non-traditional holiday celebration at tomorrow's tailgate, a place that does not remind me of Mom. I'm also looking forward to cheering, clapping, high-fiving, and yes, SCREAMING tomorrow night at the game!
  • family recipes. If I can't be with my family, I can at least have broccoli-rice casserole to remind me of our family gatherings.
  • our home. My housekeeping has been rather lackluster lately, but even all my clutter can't obscure my love of our house! It suits us so well. These days, I'm glad to have this safe haven, this cocoon.
  • new life. My niece and her husband added three little girls to our family 13 months ago, and those sweethearts have brought us so much joy! This afternoon, Cara and Jeff added a little boy to their family. My heart overflows with happiness for their family of six and for the grandparents, the great-grandparents, and all of us who will get to love on these children.
  • my heavenly Father who gave me all of these and countless—literally! can't count 'em all!—blessings.





Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lovin' Lyle again.

It's pretty awesome to get to kick off a holiday at the Bass Hall,

but it's out-of-this-world fantastic to go there to see LYLE LOVETT!

How can I begin to describe my love for Lyle? Actually, I kinda already did. (See this post from our last Lyle concert way back in 2008.) But really, he is my all-time favorite musician. I've lost count of how many times I've seen him in concert, but in recent years, my visits to those concerts have been all too rare.

For this tour Lyle was with his acoustic group, and what a talented group it is! As always, Lyle was generous to share the spotlight with his band. That was one of Brett's first comments: Lyle appreciates musicianship, and he surrounds himself with the best musicians out there.

After warming up with "Fat Babies," he led off with several songs from Release Me, his latest album. Then he barreled right into some oldies, including "Give Back My Heart" and "God Will." The big numbers, "Church" and "That's Right (You're Not from Texas)," were there, as was the musician-spotlighter, "You Can't Resist It." I was thrilled to hear him perform "Private Conversation," since that's one Brett particularly likes, and "I Will Rise Up," a new favorite. But really, they're all my favorites.

One of the reasons I'm crazy about Lyle is his dry sense of humor, so this concert was a banter-filled delight. He talked more this time around than I'd seen at other shows. A Lyle first for me: Two of his songs ("The Waltzing Fool" and "She's No Lady") were interpreted by Texas Ballet Theater dancers on a raised platform behind the band. The second song was a little on the silly side (as is appropriate for those lyrics), but "Waltzing Fool" was sublime.

These were the best seats I've had for a Lyle show in—I don't know—ever? We were on row F, right in the center, which means there were just eight rows of people between us and Lyle, who seemed to be looking RIGHT AT ME as he sang.

He was THIS CLOSE to us, so close that his face
burned a hole right through my phone's camera!
Lyle repeatedly said how much he loves playing the Bass Hall, and I certainly hope that means he'll be back again soon and often! Surely it won't be four years until I can bask in his presence again!

(More references to Lyle are here, here and here.)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thank goodness for the girls.

Where would I be without female companionship?

Every day my lunch buddies lift my spirits as we gather strength to teach our afternoon classes. We laugh and gripe and celebrate and cry together. At Mom's funeral I called them my "lunch table therapy group," and they are just that: great therapy! I'm so thankful for these amazing women.

If my schedule allows it, I get to play bunco with a crazy group of women once a month. It's funny how these bunco nights tend to occur just when I need them the most. I had a mini breakdown this afternoon, but a night of great food and fellowship did me a world of good. What a blessing these girls are!

In the fall I get to hang out with my fave football buddy. She and I laugh and chat and gab all the way to Austin and back. We don't manage to get together that often in the off-season, but I wouldn't trade our football trips for anything. And of course, she's there anytime I need her. When Daddy died back in 1993, she drove to Tyler to take care of me as I tried to take care of my mom. When Mom died, she met us at the funeral home to help us make all those decisions and was by my side through it all. She's priceless, that one.

Because of my football fanaticism and my a/v duties, I'm blessed with some great guy friends, too. But there's no substitute for some old-fashioned "girl time" to keep me afloat.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Facts of life.

We missed worshipping at Heritage today because of this:

Facts of Life star and current Survivor contestant Lisa Whelchel was speaking at a church in Flower Mound, and we knew we had to be there!

Ryan, of course, is the world's greatest Survivor fan. He has met one Survivor (Coby Archa), and he didn't want to miss the chance to meet another—and this time, she's a "current" Survivor, competing on the season still airing.


Katie is a huge Facts of Life fan and was just as excited to see Lisa. As children of the ’80s, Brett and I were looking forward to seeing "Blair" in person, too!

We arrived a little early, so we met her before the 11 a.m. service started. She was so gracious with everyone, even when our foursome threatened to monopolize her time.


Ryan had wanted to know what she thought of Survivor host Jeff Probst but didn't get to ask her. When Brett stepped up for a photo, he asked. She said he was great—cusses like a sailor off-camera, but great!










After posing for photos, it was time for the worship service. Since the worship tradition we're accustomed to is acapella, it's always interesting to experience worshipping with a choir and special music performances. As an A/V geek, it's also fun to watch how other folks handle song lyrics, announcements and graphics. Nifty. (I did feel myself leaning forward in my pew when the lyrics were a line or two behind the choir, however. You can take the girl out of the sound booth, but...)

Anyway, after the songs, it was time for Lisa. Senior pastor Dr. John Allen interviewed her, and her responses were insightful, funny and inspirational.

She told the story of her first visit to church when she was just 10 years old, and it was in that testimony that we discovered she has something in common with Ryan: a love for donuts! She and a friend had visited a church down the street from her house, and she was stunned to discover that they had donuts and orange juice there every Sunday! Those donuts, not to mention the love and acceptance she felt every time she visited, kept her coming back.

She also talked about something I struggle with, what she called an addiction to approval. She discussed this all-consuming obsession she has with making sure people like her. (Hey! I resemble that remark!) She confessed that she had tried to tell herself other people's opinions didn't matter, but it was her acceptance of God's love that has finally helped her deal with this lifelong spirit-crusher.

We were thrilled to hear her talk quite a bit about her Survivor experiences. The episode that aired just a week and a half ago featured Lisa making a big move: revealing one contestant's secret, a secret she promised she'd keep. She admitted that she's always been a big "gamer." Even when playing Monopoly with her kids, she was in it to win it. But when playing Survivor, she realized she's not playing little metal dogs and thimbles; she's playing actual people with feelings! On the island, it wasn't just about winning but about these relationships, these friendships.

She said that on the island, she struggled quite a bit with being a good Christian example on one hand while being a savvy game-player on the other. She knew that Survivors had to lie, deceive and betray in the game, and she thought she could separate those behaviors from her Christian walk. Watching this season, it's easy to see how much she has struggled with this dichotomy, so it was interesting to hear her discuss it in person all these months after filming.

By the time her days on Survivor had ended, she was so emotionally fragile that she needed some time out of the public eye to recover, she said. Now she is reliving a lot of those rough times each Wednesday night as new episodes air. She also struggles with the feedback she has received. As an approval-seeker, she said she has had a hard time avoiding the message boards and blog posts that denounce her as a hypocrite or say she's too soft for the game. Her children have told her to stay away from the online trolls, reminding her that "blog" stands for "basement-living opinion giver." (Funny!) Still, she admitted that she has a hard time avoiding those negative comments and an even harder time not taking them to heart.

On the drive to Flower Mound, Brett joked that her talk would pretty much be, "You take the good. You take the bad. You take them both, and there you have the facts of life." Turns out, that WAS part of her talk! She even sang those lyrics! (Day. Made.)

Seriously, she talked about how we all have these good parts and bad, and even as we struggle to overcome the evil within us, God loves all of us. He sees our whole selves and loves us anyway. She admitted that she spent much of her life trying to do the right things to get closer to God, but He is already with us and in us. Now she gets the concept of grace. She wants others to know that nothing you do can make God love you less and nothing can make God love you more. He LOVES us.

Thank you, Lisa, for reminding us of that and for using your time on Survivor to spread that message. And even though you don't need our approval, you've got it!



Saturday, November 17, 2012

Luv ya, Blue.


Tonight was a big one for the high school where I teach (as opposed to Ryan and Katie's school) because our football team had its playoff game. Since I spent my Friday nights watching the kids' team play, I didn't get to see my students on the field much this fall. I was excited to get to watch them. Plus, this first-round game was in Cowboys Stadium, giving us the rare chance to visit Jerry World, that shrine to overindulgence.

 Of course, I was obliged to overindulge. Ultimate Nachos? Yes, please!

 Katie went along to keep me company, bless her heart.

Sadly, our guys couldn't pull out a win, losing 31-28. But it was exciting, and as we like to say at BHS, we won halftime.




Thanks for a great season, Raiders.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Time to smell the cheese.

Oh, Bear, I've got so many chores I have to finish.
It's like someone grabbed my head and gave a squeeeeeze... really hard!

We were digging into a wheel of gouda last night when this song, "Take Time to Smell the Cheese," came to mind. It's from our family favorite Disney Channel series, Bear in the Big Blue House.


Really, how can you not love a song that advises, "Everything is bettah when you smell the feta"?

B in the BBH premiered while I was on maternity leave with Katie, and the show still reminds me of those precious days with my itty-bitty baby Katie and 1-year-old Ryan. As the kids got a little older, they became full-fledged Bear fans, and we had Bear shoes, Bear backpacks, Bear birthday cakes, you name it.

On long road trips, Bear came along, both as a stuffed animal and as a cassette. Whenever I picture our holiday drives to Arkansas, the soundtrack for those memories is Bear. "Brush Brush Bree," "Look at You Now" and "The Bear Cha-Cha-Cha" kept us company as we traversed those country hills. At home, Bear songs were our "spoonful of sugar" as we did chores: "Come on, everybody, let's clean up the house!"

It'd been a long time since I'd thought about those old songs, so when Katie grabbed some cheese out of the fridge, I was a little surprised to hear Bear and his pal Tutter singing in my head. Thanks to YouTube, the pair were soon singing on my laptop, too.

There I was, fresh off a long day of giving finals, grading papers, and stressing over who had or had not turned in all their work, and I was singing along with an orange bear and a blue mouse!

There's nothing here that can't wait until tomorrow;
A little rest will put your mind at ease!

Yep, I definitely needed to take time to smell the cheese.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dreaming of Pi.

I'm not much for big action-adventure flicks, but I can't wait for Life of Pi. We read the Yann Martel novel for our book club years ago, and I really enjoyed it. But the visual spectacle of the Ang Lee film? WOW.


It's crazy how rarely I actually see movies in the theater anymore. In fact, it's hard to recall going to the theater for a film that's not animated, about a superhero, or about an animated superhero. We'll see if I can manage to get to the local multiplex to take in this technicolor marvel.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

13 days of gratitude.

Many of my Facebook friends are making daily gratitude posts. I haven't followed suit this time around, but I love the idea. It's been life-affirming to see so many counting their blessings online.

While most of my friends' posts are serious, listing real blessings like the special people in their lives, I can't help but think of the more trivial niceties that make everyday life so peachy. As Robert Earl says, "It's the little things!"

So here on this 13th day of November, 13 of those little things that make me happy:

  1. sweatshirts 
  2. Dixon Ticonderoga pencils
  3. Maxwell, the Geico pig 
  4. pumpkin spice K-cups
  5. Longhorn Network on U-verse
  6. videos of runway models falling down (evil, I know) 
  7. pajama bottoms
  8. that drumroll at the beginning of "The Eyes of Texas"
  9. my heated throw that makes chilly evenings like this one so cozy
  10. the new Pentatonix Christmas EP
  11. green apple candy corn
  12. photos of cats wearing clothes (especially UT hoodies)




(Wait for it...)










Not my ChaCha, but man,
if I don't love that face!
(From the Co-op's
Facebook page)




And last but not least...






    13. photos of any animal in a costume

The little pink leggings? The sleepy Elmo 
that looks like it's eating the puppy?
I can't take it!  HAHAHAHAHA!
(Help me.)



Monday, November 12, 2012

For the birds.

What do Angry Birds gummies have to do with Texas football? And why in the world would I try to honor the memory of a Texas legend with fruit snacks?

The answers are over on SpellTexas.org.

(Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know this is a cheap post. But with this NaBloPoMo thing, I'm trying to post every day, see, and since I actually DID post something over there, I'm wanting credit for it over here.)


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Helpful hint.

Next time you find yourself facing a marathon grading day and you'd like a caffeine boost, instead of thinking what a nice treat the Gingerbread Latte creamer would be, take just a moment to check the expiration date on that creamer.

That second or two will prevent you from wasting an hour or more that you could've spent grading. It will also spare you from severe stomach discomfort, not to mention the mental anguish that comes from realizing you've made a stupid, stupid mistake.

Back to grading...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hook 'em, Ryan!

Today, for the first time in ages, Ryan was able to go to the Texas game with me. Since the game was an 11 a.m. kickoff, we drove to Austin Friday night.

First stop this morning: Krispy Kreme!
Our donut connoisseur decided he has
been spoiled by Shipley's. The KKs got
a big MEH from the expert.

After we parked at the Bullock, we
spelled Texas and headed straight
to the stadium. No tailgating today!
(Another reason why early games stink.)

Hook 'em!


We had so much fun! Katie attended the West Virginia game on her birthday, and now Ryan has had his turn in DKR for a game. It's always good to hang out with the kids, but it's extra special when we can have some one-on-one time, too.