Jumping back in.

Monday, February 16, 2015

I could give all sorts of excuses about why my blog has sat dormant for months.  I could blame it on technology challenges, all legit.  I could attribute it to Google, which made it ridiculously hard to renew my domain name.  I could say that the pressure to post perfectly composed and edited photos is too much, also true (and also why I'm posting several imperfect, unedited photos today).  I could say that I've gotten comfortable with being in my 40s, and I'm enjoying feeling like I no longer have anything to prove to anyone.  Definitely true, and quite liberating!  I could tell you that I'm busy living life instead of taking pictures of it and writing about it.  But the biggest reason for my absence is this -- I ran out of energy.

I guess I'm not such a superhero after all.

I didn't sew as much as I would have liked last year (though I did log 31 projects and 16 new-to-me patterns).  I hardly ever photographed what I made.  And I almost never showed off my creations (a few made it to Instagram, however).  I didn't volunteer as much as I would have liked (though I did help Little Helping Hands get a new grant from Target, got my family out volunteering several times, and organized some Brownie troop volunteer activities).  We didn't have as many family adventures as I'd hoped or see friends as I'd planned.  The day-to-day stuff just plain wore me out.  When the house got quiet late at night, I fell asleep on the couch instead of sewing or editing photos or writing.  When everybody else went to bed, I went to bed too.

So here it is, 2015, and I'm finally jumping back in.  I've missed this little project, my creative outlet in a tiny corner of the blogosphere.

What have we been up to?  Well, this guy turned six.  He makes us laugh a lot, gives great hugs, builds amazing things with Legos, conquers monkey bars like the cutest little gibbon, and is perfecting the fine art of pushing his sister's buttons.

This young lady had a very successful violin recital (what a long way she's come since last year!).  She's nearing completion of Suzuki Book 1 and is preparing for a talent show performance at her school.  I'm so impressed by her determination, perspective, and skill.

She's had fun with practice challenges, playing at a farmer's market, writing her own piece, playing for fire fighters, and practicing in costume.

And she's an all-around good kid.  She finishes her homework without a battle, she works hard on her school work, she smiles a lot, and she teaches us things all the time.

These two have grown up.  They seem to have finally outgrown all their health troubles, thankfully.  They've coated our house in a layer of fur.  They're mostly sweet and mostly loved.

So here we are, a busy family doing our thing, trying to make the most of the time we have (but wishing we had a bit more time).  Sound familiar?

Photo courtesy of Sincerely, Sarah Photography

Saving a Mountain.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

If you've ever been to Wimberley, Texas, you know its charm.  You've shopped at the square or Market Days, you've gone swimming at Blue Hole, maybe you've seen a movie at the Corral Theatre or a play at the EmilyAnn Theatre.  Perhaps you enjoyed summer camp at Rocky River Ranch (more on that soon!).  If you know Wimberley, you know what a beautiful Hill Country treasure it is.

But do you know about Old Baldy?

Truthfully, this is not Old Baldy.  It's Baldy's sister, as viewed from the top of Old Baldy.

Wimberley has a tiny mountain---a hill, really---that provides a gorgeous view of the Wimberley valley.  It's an iconic landmark that's been enjoyed for generations.

Ask any Wimberley old-timer, and they'll tell you about hiking up Old Baldy's 218 stone steps for exercise, reflection, maybe even romance or up-to-no-good antics.  If you're lucky, you'll hear about twirling round the dance floor that once sat atop Old Baldy.

A few months ago, when people arrived to climb Baldy, they found it chained off with "Private Property" and "No Trespassing" signs.  Old Baldy had, in fact, been privately owned for many years by a church, which called it Prayer Mountain.

But the church decided to sell the property.  

My parents, who have decades-old ties to Wimberley and now live there, saw a news article referencing the sale of Baldy.  Fearing that an important Wimberley landmark could be lost to development, they quickly sprung into action.  Next thing I knew, they had put together a deal to purchase the mountain (follow-up news article here) and a family field trip to Old Baldy.

A generous local resident loaned money for the purchase.  A nonprofit foundation was formed, and a board of directors was assembled.  Then a deal was struck -- the City of Wimberley will purchase Old Baldy for $75,000 and make it a city park, ensuring that it will remain open to the public, but only if the foundation can raise $95,000 by the end of January to repay the remainder of the loan.  That's great news, right?  But it's not much time!

The Save Old Baldy Foundation volunteers are hard at work to keep up their end of the bargain and ultimately turn Old Baldy over to the City of Wimberley.  Board members have been spotted outside Brookshire Brothers telling people about Baldy, they've been organizing local donation drives (Tuesdays in October at Linda's Fine Foods and the coin funnel at The Leaning Pear during parts of November and December), and they've been planning a big fundraising event.  I've hardly seen my mom the last couple of months -- she's committed to the cause and focused on the goal.

Baldyfest will take place on November 8th, noon to 8pm, at Cypress Creek Cafe.  There will be live music (great bands!), an auction, and lots of fun.  I bet you might even spot a baldie or two there.

If you're free that day, head to Wimberley and enjoy some local music.  Most importantly, help save Old Baldy so that this Wimberley treasure will remain available for future generations to enjoy.   And so I can see my mom again (hopefully before February). You can make a tax-deductible donation to the Save Old Baldy Foundation here.

Back to School.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Summer's over, and it's time to get back to the school routine.  But this year the routine is different.  Little Brother, who isn't so little anymore, is starting kindergarten.

I remember when we sent him to preschool.  He was a sweet baby with a big, toothless smile.  When he had a hard time, the teachers would open the door to the adjoining room so he could get a hug from his big sister.  Now, in the blink of an eye, he's too big for that amazing school that we've loved so much and joining Big Sister at her school.  He might still need a hug from the big girl down the hall, as he's a little bit nervous about this big change.

But he'll do fine.  He's a spunky kid who likes to explore and make new friends.  I think he'll end up enjoying this kindergarten adventure.

We've been through this before.  We've sent a tiny kid off to kindergarten with a big backpack and lots of big hopes.  So why is this such a big moment?  Because this is such a different kid.

It's not that I don't hope those same things for this kid.  I definitely do!  But he's a unique little creature and I find myself thinking about different things.
  • I hope he will not compare the new school to the preschool he loves so much, but will embrace the new school as a new experience.
  • I hope he will make new friends and not dwell too much on the preschool friends he misses.
  • I hope he will make it to the bathroom in time.  And when he doesn't, I hope he can recover well.
  • I hope he can sit still when necessary and stay quiet when necessary.
  • I hope he will run his little heart out during PE and recess so that he can focus the rest of the day.
  • I hope he will love learning.  I hope he will learn to love reading.  And writing.
  • I hope that when he gets frustrated, he will slow down and calm himself instead of letting his temper flare.
  • I hope he will let his happy and bright personality shine.
  • I hope he uses his mischievous side for good.
  • I hope he will soon come to be known simply as the great kid that he is, rather than as Big Sister's little brother.  But I hope that he will find comfort in having Big Sister down the hall.
  • I hope he will eat his lunch and not be picky about what we put in his lunchbox.
  • I hope he will not be afraid to try new things, even when he believes he will not be good at them.
  • I hope he will keep trying when things get tough. 
  • I hope he loves school and that this is the beginning of great things for this kid.
I love this kid so much, and I am so proud of him.  I hope he knows that.

That guy isn't the only one growing up around here.  This big kid is starting third grade.  Third!  She's got a teacher who loves Wonder Woman, and then she gets to spend part of the day with the other teacher who raises chickens right there at the school.  I've got a feeling that this will be a good year for this superstar.

Truth be told, it should be a good year for this mama too, who only has to pick up at one school and only has to manage one school schedule.   Hats off to a great start of a great year!

San Diego Vacation, Part 3, Torrey Pines Hike.

Friday, August 15, 2014

This is the last installment of our San Diego adventures.  Part 1 can be found here, and Part 2 can be found here.

This post is devoted to what may seem a small outing, but was probably Mr. Great's favorite part of our trip (unless it was La Jolla kayaking; tough choice!).

We went to the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.  Because we wanted something fun and doable for little legs, we chose the Guy Fleming Trail.  It's only 2/3 mile, and I would have loved to hike much, much more.  But it was just right for our tired family that day.  It's an easy, well-marked trail with interesting things to see around each bend.

We got to study torrey pine trees up close.  They're the most endangered pine species in the United States, and the grow only in San Diego and one other place that I've now forgotten (some island maybe?).  They have large, pretty pinecones and needles grouped in clumps of five.

The best part of this trail was the view of the ocean.  It's spectacular.  It put a big smile on my cute husband's face.

Our little family loves to hike, but we don't do it often enough.  It's so important to get out and explore the world around us.  It's so good for us.

Along our hike, we saw a few serious trail runners tackling the Torrey Pines trails.  As we finished our loop, I told Mr. Great to take a lap.  So he went for a run.  He returned feeling like a million bucks.

This little guy, however, didn't think it was at all fair.

So the kids did a little trail running, too.

And then we were all happy.