Thursday, January 02, 2014

A look back at 2013.

To quote Papa, “HARK!” Behold our annual year-in-review blog post, which, like our Christmas cards, is better late than never.

Our mourning for my mom (who died Aug. 22, 2012) and the cancer diagnosis for Brett’s dad (who died Dec. 19) consumed much of our physical and emotional energy this year. Even now, as the waves of grief seem unending, it’s tempting to chalk up the year to mere survival. But this blog is our family scrapbook, and it’d be inaccurate to say that’s all that happened in this eventful year. Because of our busy-ness or sadness (or both), some of these never got their own blog posts during the year. I have grand plans to rectify that—someday!—but for now, here’s a summary of 2013’s many happy moments.


Brett was honored at the Twin Galaxies Trading Card Premiere in Austin. At this event, video gaming legend Walter Day presented Brett and other Texans with posters commemorating their inclusion in his video game trading card series. Brett actually has two cards in the collection: one for himself and one for his book series.

It was a huge honor for Brett to be recognized for his contributions to the video game community. Held at Pinballz, our favorite Austin arcade, this evening was a fun chance for us to rub shoulders with Day and other video game greats. (Brett’s account is here.)


I’ve lived in Fort Worth for 23 years now, but until 2013, I’d never been to the famous Fort Worth Stock Show! In February, we had the perfect excuse to go: a visit from our nephew from Japan along with our niece and her sweet family. We didn’t see just a ton of stock, but we did get to explore the midway and share some funnel cakes.

More photos from that day are here.

Another fun February adventure was a visit to the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History for the Titanic exhibition. Nana had heard about this and made sure we didn’t miss it. That was another fun winter Saturday! Upon arrival, each guest received a boarding pass with information about one particular passenger. After going through the exhibit, filled with artifacts from the ship, sample guestrooms and even a chunk of “iceberg,” we found out how our passengers fared. It was a touching and fascinating look into the Titanic tragedy, and I’m so glad we were able to attend.


Katie joined her high school bowling team, so much of the winter and early spring was consumed with her weekly bowling contests and the big regional and state tournaments.

In Katie’s first year on the team, they won STATE! It was so exciting for all of them, and it was a real learning experience for all of us who had never delved into the world of competitive bowling. (More photos from the regional tournament are here.)

Katie and I also spent a few hours at Watauga Fest one Saturday in April. It was great to check out this community event and challenge my fear of ferris wheels. This year, we tried to get out of the house more often in an effort to fight the blahs. It’s amazing what a walk around a carnival can do for the soul.


Shortly before the school year ended, we welcomed the newest Dub into our family. Precious Daisy was just a whiff of an idea of a dog when we first brought her home, but she found her way into all of our hearts. We already can't imagine our home without her.

Over Memorial Day weekend, we all gathered at Nana and Papa’s house for an old-fashioned “singin’”!

This was before the cancer diagnosis, but we knew Papa had not been feeling well. This gave us a great excuse to get together and worship our Lord while boosting all of our spirits. It was a nice reminder that even when we’re not in control, we know who is!


We knew how busy our summers can be, so we made an early June visit to my hometown, Tyler, and the Tyler State Park before band and camps took over.

More pix here.

While in Tyler, we also visited the cemetery where my parents are buried and stopped by the Tyler Rose Garden. It was a quick trip but a nice little get-away. 

Katie attended church camp one week in June, and while she was gone, Ryan and I decided to spend a couple of days in Austin.

We played with the grandnieces and grandnephew, ate lunch at our beloved Chuy’s and Kerbey Lane, swam in the frigid Barton Springs, and knocked down some tokens at Pinballz. It was great! (And Katie’s turn would come in July.) More photos from that adventure are here.

This was Katie’s summer of camps! She went to Camp Zenith in Oklahoma, band camp at TCU, and helped the special campers at Camp Barnabas in Missouri. Whew!

More here.


Early in July we enjoyed another excursion with Nana. This time we took the Trinity Railway Express into Dallas

Our first stop: Dealey Plaza and the Sixth Floor Museum. Since this was a summer day, the museum was really crowded. The upcoming 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination certainly added to the interest, too. And no wonder. It’s sobering to stand on the grassy knoll and fascinating to see all the exhibits on display in the museum. 

After that, we ate lunch at Spaghetti Warehouse in West End and then paid our first visit to the Dallas World Aquarium. What a fun day! More pix here and here

Ryan and I had escaped to Austin in early June. In mid-July, it was Katie’s turn! We brought her friend along with us, and we hit our favorite spots: Amy’s Ice Cream, Pinballz, and Cara and Jeff’s house. We also watched the bats emerge from the Congress Avenue bridge, and we toured Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and the Horns’ trophy room.

The girls were sweet to humor me for that stadium tour. It’s something I’d always wanted to do but had never taken the time. It was really interesting to see all the trophies and parts of the stadium I’d never experienced in my 20+ years of watching games there! More pix from that trip are here.

At the end of July, Ryan and I left for a magical vacation. Ryan, a huge fan of the TV show Survivor, had saved his money for more than a year to make this trip happen. Our destination: the Hearts of Reality fundraiser in Celebration, Florida, featuring dozens of contestants from Survivor and other reality TV shows. Since Ryan paid for the flight and the Celebration part of the trip, I added on some days at Walt Disney World. (When in Rome, right?) 

It worked out that we were at Magic Kingdom for Ryan’s actual birthday, so we celebrated with dinner at the new Be Our Guest restaurant. 

What a treat it was to be back at WDW just a year after our first visit! We hit all the parks, stayed in the new(ish) Art of Animation Resort, and soaked it all in. But the highlight came once we left Disney for Celebration. Even before the big fundraising event, Ryan was hobnobbing with all these former Survivors and hanging out in person with other superfans that he’d met online. He was in hog heaven!

More pictures from the Hearts of Reality are on Ryan’s Facebook page.


August meant the return to marching band and school.

I was pretty emotional on the first day of school, realizing that this would be our last “first day” photo with both Ryan and Katie! How can Ryan be a senior?


Thanks to marching band, a good chunk of our autumns has been spent in football stadiums. (OK, so maybe my Longhorn obsession has a little something to do with that, too!) Brett and I had a great time going to the Friday night games and the weekend contests. Ryan and Katie did a wonderful job juggling band rehearsals and events with their school work and other interests.

As far as my Longhorn love goes, it was great fun to take both kids to a game. Brett even attended a game with me! That was his first time in DKR since we’ve been married. Crazy!

And yes, I’m still spelling “Texas” before every game. Check out for the evidence of my insanity.

At the end of September, Brett’s brother hosted a family reunion for Papa’s benefit. Because of his cancer, Papa wasn’t up to attending the annual Marshall reunion over Labor Day. This weekend party gave him a chance to see everyone closer to home. 

I think everybody was really glad to just spend time with him, too.

For Halloween, we again participated in our friends’ annual pumpkin carving party. Such a fun tradition! Our hosts are so creative with their decorations, and it’s great to see everyone’s creations.

I went with a retro photo theme this year.

For the big night, Brett again set up an old TV to play monster movies. We stuck to the whole Frankenstein theme, too!

Well, Daisy was a Ghostbuster, but she still fit in with our creepy and kookie family!


With November came the end of marching season, which was especially poignant for Ryan and the other seniors.

At the end of that last football game, after the last performance of “The Underground,” the seniors formed an “R” on the field. Not gonna lie: I cried like a baby to see my baby boy march for the last time! We are so proud of all he’s accomplished with band.

The day before Thanksgiving, we journeyed into Fort Worth to see the Hotel Texas exhibit at the Amon Carter. This exhibit featured art that had been displayed in the Kennedys’ Fort Worth hotel suite for their Nov. 21, 1963, stay.

After seeing those pieces, we drove downtown to see the old Hotel Texas, now the Hilton. After striking up a conversation with a hotel employee, we rode up the elevator to see the door to the original suite 850. It’s crazy how eerie it was to walk in that hallway! 

Considering we were there less than a week after the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, our little excursion was mighty timely, too.


We can expect a snow day or two in January or February, but when the ice storm came through in early December, we were surprised to get not one but TWO days off! 

We know we’ll have to pay for these bonus holidays when we make them up in the spring, but for four glorious days, we got to take a break from our crazy schedule. 

In mid-December Brett finished his sixth bookRetro Pop Culture A to Z: From Atari 2600 to Zombie Films is an eBook available for Amazon Kindle and B&N’s Nook

As his description says, “The book includes 60 fun-filled, feature-length chapters on such icons of popular culture as Alien, the Batman TV show, the Beatles, Dynamite magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland, The Flash, Forbidden Planet, Golden Age arcade games, He-Man, the Intellivision, Jaws, MAD magazine, the Nintendo NES, Ray Bradbury, The Wizard of Oz, and the X-Men.” (My favorite chapter? The one on The Brady Bunch!)

So there you have it: a rather long-winded “short” summary of 2013’s happier days! My prayer for 2014 is that even as we cry and reminisce and struggle to surf our waves of grief, we will cherish the good days and make the most of our time together.

Happy new year!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014


2013 ended with sorrow, and this new year, like the last, finds us grieving, struggling to find our way in this brave new world without a certain loved one. Historically I've struggled with post-holiday (not to mention post-football) blues, and now January offers some tough days ahead: my mom's birthday (the 9th), Papa's (19th), and mine (which will never be the same without Mom).

So this New Year's Day, I'm lacking the sense of renewal that usually shows up on Jan. 1. Worse, I can't shake this feeling of dread. So much loss. So many changes. Will we be able to weather whatever's next?

I already know the answer: Of course we will! I just have to get my head to convince my heart. 

Until then, I'm thankful for a belly full of Nana's cooking, an abundance of sweet memories, a little white puppy at my feet, and the truth behind this song: