Sunday, March 31, 2013

She's not here.

In the seven months and nine days since Mom died, one phrase has been just below the surface of every event, every milestone. Through Thanksgiving, Christmas, her birthday, my birthday, one sentence has been like the steady rhythm of train wheels on the tracks: "She's not here. She's not here. She's not here..." I keep thinking that train will slow down at some point, but it only seems to be picking up speed as the months pass. Oh, how I miss her.

Of course, we've still managed to make the most of holidays, of our annual rituals. I wouldn't dare deprive my own children of these traditions. Besides, we know she would hate for us to skip a celebration. With her positive outlook, every day was worth celebrating. No holiday was too small to recognize. Ever the kindergarten teacher, she saw each month as a new chance to hang another decorative flag, to hit the Target dollar aisles and buy some new trinkets.

But it's exactly that enthusiasm for the silly decorations that kept me from putting out our spring chickens and fluffy bunnies this year. I could see my mother's love of all things cutesy in those pastel eggs and ceramic baskets, and I just couldn't bear to have to look at them in our house—not yet, anyway. So in the boxes they stayed.

While I had three quite full tubs in my living room, our church was focusing its Easter service on the word EMPTY. The emphasis? Because of the empty tomb, we can have salvation. Jesus' death and resurrection mean we can have eternal life.

As a regular Sunday School student, I don't remember ever NOT knowing John 3:16, but as the list of my deceased loved ones lengthens, that verse's significance grows. The "whosoever" is more personal now that I can fill in the names: Mom, Daddy, Tim, Megann, Aunt Lois, Granny, Papa... They all shall not perish but have eternal life. Eternal!

So this Easter, I dyed the eggs and loaded the kids' baskets. I laughed about the well-hidden "prize egg" and chowed down at Nana's Easter lunch. And more than a couple of times, I cried amid the ever-present "She's not here" refrain. But because of that first Easter, I know that someday those words will no longer be true, that our separation is only temporary. Mom has eternal life because of that empty tomb.

"Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!"
—Luke 24:5-6

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Back-blogging: Stock Show 2013.

Such big plans I had when spring break began! Surely I can finish my vacation album, I thought. What's to keep me from filling in some gaps on the blog, I wondered. Now that spring break is ending, I admit my defeat AND my utter failure at this month's NaBloPoMo. (I blame the cold for that.) Still, I'm determined to get at least one, uno, ONE past event blogged!

Feb. 2, 2013

In a spur-of-the-moment decision, Katie and I decided to head to Fort Worth for the TCU-Texas women's basketball game that Saturday morning. After the game, as we were basking in the thrill of victory, Brett texted that some of our family would be going to the Fort Worth Stock Show. Would we want to meet them there?

Katie and I considered our options for oh, maybe 10 seconds. Even though I've lived in DFW for more than 20 years, I had never been to the stock show. That might've been enough enticement, but throw in my nephew (home from Japan) plus my niece and her family AND my sister- and brother-in-law? Oh, yeah. Not missing that!

While we waited for the others to arrive, Katie kept me entertained:

Drill bit, meet Katie.


 Katie was itching to ride something, and most of the rides did not tempt me (mostly because of the camera on my shoulder). The ferris wheel, though? I had to say yes to that one.

"Do not rock seat"? You had me at "DANGER."
 I'm typically not afraid of heights, but I was not too comfortable when the less-than-attentive carny ride operator stopped to load new riders.

The height didn't bother Katie at all.

She did put on a good show, though.

Nice view of downtown

Vertigo-inducing view of our feet and the ground

View from terra firma
After the ferris wheel, we found the swings. Katie loved a similar ride at Fiesta Texas, so she plunked down her coupons for this one:

Not long after that, we found our family at the front gate.

Sweet sisters

Chatting with Chris

Katie races her little cousin


On the sidelines

At one point, our two girls had no fewer than six cameras
focused on them. Hello, paparazzi!

Time to slide

We all shared the renowned carnival staple, the funnel cake:

Red velvet funnel cake: YUM
Ready for fun?

Here we go!

Have mirror? Must take self-portrait

Baby D's first ride

Pony carriage judging

Leaving one of the barns

Tired girls

Yes, we did see some stock! Even though most of our time
(and money) was spent on the midway, we did see a few
cows and horses. Next year we hope to see more "aminals."

Friday, March 15, 2013

Family business.

This weekend we're at the Texas Pinball Festival promoting the "family business," Brett's Classic Home Video Games book series.

We've been attending this event for years (check out these flashbacks from 2009 and 2008), but this time it's in a new, bigger location (the Hilton Anatole). The Trinity Ballroom must be at least as long as a football field, and it's filled with pinball machines as well as arcade video game cabinets, all set on free play. Vendors line the walls, selling a wide array of pinball paraphernalia, such as electronic parts and custom shooter rods. There's even a vendor selling nightlights made out of pinball bumpers! But the best table has games, game-related toys, T-shirts, and, oh yes, all three volumes of Classic Home Video Games books.

Ryan and Katie will be helping Brett man the table through the weekend, but tonight I'm here to check out the action while giving my man a break, too.

Considering the number of old games here, this place feels like a hands-on museum. It's fun to not just see but also play the old wooden pinball cabinets along with games featuring the celebrities of my youth, from Evel Knievel to the Six Million Dollar Man.

It's been interesting to chat with fans who pause at our table, and I've even shaken hands with two celebrities: a champion gamer and the head of a huge gaming group. I had met the game champ at the hall of fame event in Austin, but l didn't know the convention guy. When Ryan saw me talking to him, though, he was impressed. "That guy has 100,000 Twitter followers!"

Even though I'm an outsider, it's still incredible to delve into this gaming world now and then. The flashing lights and all the dings, bonks and pops really envelop you. And of course, it's a blast to watch Ryan and Katie tear up these machines with their great scores.

I may not "play a mean pinball," but I'm super thankful for the chance to once again stretch out my "flipper fingers" and play with the fam.

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