How 'bout we dust off the ol' blog and write a holiday letter? It's been a while!
Brett is still writing, employing his expertise in classic video games. 2022 brought the publication of his 12th and 13th books and took him across the country for video game conventions. I'm in my 32nd year of teaching, still at the same school, still teaching English with the best group of educators I can imagine. I'm still the self-proclaimed "AV Diva" in our church soundbooth, too, projecting lyrics for in-person worship and managing the switcher for streaming services. (I also watch a little football now and then.) Ryan, now in his fifth year, continues to teach Texas history and coach cross country at a middle school in DFW. Katie has begun her Ph.D. program at Texas Tech, teaching freshman English while taking her grad classes. We still love spending time together as a family, playing games (especially those of the video and pinball variety), and finding new places to explore.
In this year that kinda-sorta resembled life before COVID, Brett, Ryan, and I all had the blasted virus (and Katie had a miserable flu). But in spite of those setbacks, we made the most of this new normal, navigating tests like champs to get back to our much-loved traveling, football games, and conventions.
Below are some of our many highlights from 2022. (Since this blog sometimes acts as my personal scrapbook, please indulge the extra helping of photos from this year's travels!)
Friends Experience in Plano
Masks were required, but that was a small price to pay to pose and play on the recreated sets from the TV show.
2/2/22 "Tutu" Day
This was one of several fun dress-up days we had at school. Turns out it was also our last day at school before snow and ice closed everybody down for a while!
We had power and heat, so the 2022 edition of winter weather was a vast improvement over 2021's. Yay! After dripping our faucets for hours on end, we discovered a leaky shower upstairs, so thanks to these snow days, my Texas room got a new ceiling. Boo! But hey, Daisy had fun in the snow!
2022 brought gaming conventions back in full force. Ryan and I tagged along as Brett had a table at the ATG Expo in Waco. It's always fun to see Brett in his element among other classic gamers.
NES Omnibus Volume 2
Brett put in countless hours to autograph, pack, and ship orders from his Kickstarter campaign. It's incredible to think that this, the second volume of his exhaustive description of Nintendo Entertainment System games, was his 12th published book!
Hitting the Trails
Our Daisy dog loves her walks, and we love exploring our neighborhood trails! We walk year-round, but March gave us the best weather for it.
DFW hosted opening rounds of the men's tournament while UT's own Erwin Center hosted the women's. Dede and I made the trip to cheer for our Horns AND to be there for one last game in the FEC before Texas basketball moved to the new Moody Center nearby.
Can you believe our little "hint of a whisp of a puff" has grown into a 9-year-old little lady? She is quite the diva, and we take full responsibility for spoiling her. No shame.
First Monday Trade Days
Considering I grew up in East Texas, I haven't been to the famous Canton flea market all that often. Brett and I both love it, so we made time for it this spring.
Downtown Fort Worth Walking Tour
Here's another "meaning to" that we finally got around to doing: taking one of the free walking tours offered by a couple of downtown real estate agents. This one was about "stuff on the bluff." We learned all about the settlements, communities, and evolution of Fort Worth along the Trinity River. This particular tour happened to be during the Main Street Arts Festival, so after we got on learnin' on, we perused the artists' creations.
After watching a bunch of Lyle Lovett's livestreams, I was thrilled to see him back on stage with his acoustic group. We have been to more Lyle concerts than any other musician's, so we for sure weren't missing this one! Brett and I enjoyed seeing him and the Old 97s as we took in the magnificent surrounds of Dallas's Majestic Theatre, which was celebrating its 100th anniversary.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So our "kids" are grown. That's not going to stop me from dyeing Easter eggs! I'm thankful to have an indulgent family who will play along.
On Easter Sunday, Kelly, Cara, and Davis joined us at Heritage for worship. It was special to have them with us!
The Longhorns' spring football game gave us just the excuse we needed to visit Austin. Brett, Ryan, and I made the trip to enjoy the pregame hoopla (Bevo Blvd. and Longhorn City Limits), and then the guys explored campus and the city while I went to the "game." Crazy how many people showed up for a scrimmage, especially considering how underachieving our 2021 team was. Can't call us fair weather fans! Hook 'em!
The next morning, we met our dear friend Anne for breakfast at a new fave, the Austin Diner.
Then we stopped by our old favorite, Pinballz Arcade. That Pacman air hockey is crazy!
Texas Fight Tour
Guess it's not a surprise that I absolutely LOVE these events put together by Texas Exes and UT Athletics. It's so much fun to hang out with other Longhorns and hear from our coaches. I was pumped to get pics with Hook 'Em, volleyball coach Jerritt Elliott, and football coach Steve Sarkisian.
This spring semester, Katie earned her master's degree in applied linguistics at Texas Tech. Because her undergrad commencement ceremony was socially distanced and masked, we were excited to celebrate Katie's achievement with a full-fledged graduation this time around.
There she is! It was an intense game of "Where's Waldo" to try to spot Katie among all the grad school grads.
We were also tickled to spot some of Katie's friends on the big screen, too! We're thankful for the friends that have supported her throughout her time in Lubbock.
We celebrated Katie's achievement at Chuy's with a big group of her friends.
Truly, the whole family was excited to see Katie earn her master's degree!
Hooray for HollyVegas
For this summer's big family trip, we went to Los Angeles and Las Vegas. It was beyond wonderful to stay with our LA friends, Dana and Kelley, and benefit from their unparalleled hospitality. We revisited a couple of our favorite places like Universal Studios and went for the first time to the new Academy Museum. We also returned to Malibu for an afternoon at Point Dume.
One huge highlight of our time in Hollywood was attending a taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live. We were thrilled that the stars of Only Murders in the Building were his guests that night. Steve Martin was COVID positive so he appeared via Zoom, but Martin Short and Selena Gomez were there in person and were STELLAR. We felt like we won the lottery to (1) get tickets for all four of us and (2) be there for those particular guests.
And of course, I couldn't be in Los Angeles without visiting the Brady residence! It was our first time back there since the big HGTV remodel that made the interiors look like the Brady Bunch set. Visitors can only get as far as the cone on the sidewalk, but it was great to see the exterior look just as it does in all those old episodes—with the big window and without the stone fence that was there for our previous visits.
After several glorious days in Southern California, we bid goodbye to our gracious hosts and drove our rental car across the desert to Las Vegas. One of our first stops was the KISS mini-golf at the Rio. After a round of glow-in-the-dark golf, we were privileged to see a portion of Gene Simmons's extensive collection. Of all of the items he had on display, the coolest was a certain encyclopedia written by a familiar fellow.
Because we were in Vegas on our anniversary, Brett and I had a special date night—just the two of us—to see Cirque du Soleil's jaw-dropping Beatles Love show. What a spectacle! We loved it.
Before heading back home, we drove through the amazing Red Rock Canyon and then spent some time (and quarters) at the massive Pinball Hall of Fame on the Strip.
Fourth of July
Nothing like a horseshoes tournament to kick off the Fourth of July festivities! After playing in our backyard, we went to Roanoke to catch the fireworks show there.
Southern Fried Gaming Expo
Brett traveled practically coast to coast for gaming conventions this year! From Portland to Long Island and several states in between, he sold books and talked classic gaming as a guest and panelist at a wide range of shows. I was lucky enough to join him for the Southern Fried Gaming Expo in Atlanta. We had a great drive (with a stop at the Leeds, Alabama, Buc-ee's), a great show (with TONS of attendees), and for me, a great sampling of Atlanta's tourist attractions (with visits to the King Center, the Carter Presidential Library, the World of Coca-Cola, and the College Football Hall of Fame).
While in the Atlanta area, we also checked out some filming locations from Stranger Things, the 1980s nostalgia-filled sci-fi/horror Netflix show that we enjoy together.
On our way home we spent a night in Montgomery, Alabama. The next morning was a Monday so the main places we wanted to visit (specifically the Legacy Museum and lynching memorial) were closed, but we still paid tribute to Rosa Parks and Hank Williams.
From there we drove to Selma. The National Park Service Civil Rights exhibits were closed (again, thanks to it being a Monday), but we still stopped by the Edmund Pettus Bridge and saw the memorial park at its base. A local historian also made sure we noticed the footprints nearby to mark Dr. King's presence in Selma.
It's great to have family living in the Metroplex! As July drew to a close, we celebrated some of our July birthdays, including Ryan's.
Back to School
It seems like Ryan JUST started teaching, but here he is, already in his fifth year! He is such a rock star, teaching Texas history and coaching cross country. Of course, we're beyond proud!
As Ryan and I marked the beginnings of our school years, Katie officially began her first semester as a Ph.D. student in the English Department at Texas Tech. Along with her own studies, she also taught a freshman English class this fall semester. Can't even describe how proud I am of the teachers we've raised!
Back to school meant back to Hab's for me and Brett. Habanero's, a local Tex-Mex restaurant, is our favorite Friday Happy Hour spot, and many a Friday evening has been spent there, putting a crazy work week to bed while kicking off the weekend. (And check out that FIT! Brett's sock game is strong.)
100 Greatest 2
August also brought the debut of Brett's latest book, The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1988-1998. We were thrilled when his publisher sent him the first copy along with a celebratory bottle of wine for this, the sequel to his first 100 Greatest Book, which covered 1977-1987.
Thanks to a lackluster 2021 season (and no bowl for the post-season), I had to wait until 2022 to attend my 300th Longhorn football game. It was great to finally log that number alongside my steadfast football buddies.
In the middle of a glorious streak of attending seven games in a row, I got to visit Katie in Lubbock. The game did NOT go as I wanted, but it was a fun time on the South Plains anyway.
The Red River Shutout
49-0 win over our biggest rivals? Pretty good day!
As is our custom, we celebrated the anniversary of our engagement at the fine dining establishment where we ate that night 29 years ago: Taco Bueno! This time, Nana, Ryan, Mike, and Kelly joined us for the celebration.
Autumn Weekend in New York
It was the rare weekend without a gaming convention for Brett, AND it was between trimesters and the Horns' bye week for me: pretty much the perfect time for a fall get-away to New York City! While waiting for Ryan's arrival, we took the subway to the 9/11 memorial as well as Trinity Church, where Alexander Hamilton is buried. Before leaving that area, we found the lighthouse memorial for the Titanic's victims. We also made our way to Joe's Pizza, one of our favorite NYC spots for a slice.
Then Brett and I checked off my biggest remaining NYC bucket-list item: walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. Brett had been-there/done-that a couple of times, but I hadn't! I hope to get the chance to cross it again—what a view! After traversing the bridge, we wandered around Brooklyn, exploring DUMBO before finding our way to the Polonsky Shakespeare Center. That's where I'd spent two career-enriching weeks in 2018 studying Shakespeare. It was a thrill to be back in that neighborhood.
Back in Manhattan, we headed to the much-loved Washington Square Park for people-watching and listening to music. Then we walked around the Village to find a couple of familiar filming locations: Carrie Bradshaw's apartment from Sex and the City and the apartment from Friends.
After that, it was time to head back to Midtown to meet up with Ryan for the main purpose of this trip: seeing The Music Man on Broadway. When Ryan and I were in New York in January 2020, we had seen the billboards advertising the revival starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster. We were hopeful we could get back to NYC to see it. Then COVID happened and the world changed, so we didn't know if the show would go on. Thank goodness it did! I'm also thankful that because my friend Cindy, the sweepstakes queen, convinced me to enter a contest, our tickets were free! The two leads and the entire cast were crazy good. It was the theatre experience of a lifetime. Afterwards, we went to Junior's for the required post-show cheesecake.
The next morning we got up early to be among the first in line at Ellen's Stardust Diner, the home of the singing waitstaff. What a fun way to start our day!
Before Brett and I headed home on Sunday, we strolled through Central Park, delighted to see all the lovely fall colors, and then walked around Rockefeller Center and checked out the Nintendo Store.
Brett and I flew home that Sunday, but Ryan, thanks to a Monday holiday, stayed an extra day. He had his own adventures that afternoon, but a highlight had to be this selfie with a certain Mr. Jackman.
We were exhausted after our whirlwind NYC trip (and the first day of my winter trimester), but we set up our usual table in the frontyard. A decent number of "trickers" came by for candy and comic books!
Football Season, We Hardly Knew Ye
And just like that, another Longhorn football season came to an end. With all the tailgating, texting, and time in the stands, we had a blast! As soon as time ran out at the Alamo Bowl, the countdown for the 2023 season began. Can't wait!
This holiday was a blur, a full week of food, family, and football. We didn't even manage to take a family photo until Katie was on her way out of town, so we settled for a selfie in the middle of the Daiso store. #classy
For the second time, we enjoyed the Downtown Fort Worth Walking Tour, this time exploring some historic churches. It was a real treat to see this side of Panther City.
Christmastime Is Here
And that brings us all the way to this holiday season. Katie came home for her break, so we have made the most of all the family time, including a long-delayed trip to Grapevine, the "Christmas capital of Texas," to see the lights and shops.
Winter Break Fun
Since Katie was home for the full break for the first time in years, we had a blast celebrating with family, hanging out at home, and going to fun places like Six Flags, the Stranger Things store, and San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl.
So there you have it!
We are ever mindful of our blessings and grateful that we are privileged to spend time with our adult children. Of course, our year had plenty of struggles that aren't pictured—physical, emotional, and professional challenges—but we're thankful for the friends and family who continue to support us through the good times and bad.