Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

November 29, 2010

Despite being sick for nearly all of vacation, we had a great Thanksgiving. Lisa, Devin, and Bailey came up (Taylor was with her dad in Oakland), and Jim and Kathryn joined us for our feast. Ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, deviled eggs, pumpkin pie, lemon meringue pie, sparkling apple cider--the works. We ate til we couldn't eat anymore. Not long after, we went back for more. During dinner, I asked everyone to say something they were thankful for, as I do every Thanksgiving. Our responses this year?

Bailey--I'm thankful for parents, because they get you stuff.

Devin--I'm thankful for everybody I know, even the mean ones, because they've taught me I can face them.

Danielle--I'm thankful for food, family, and when cousins and aunts come. I'm also thankful for pizza and softball. The emphasis is on the FOOD.

Taylor (by phone)--I'm thankful for all my family and friends.

Nicholas--I am thankful for this wonderfully wonderful dinner.

Kathryn--I'm thankful for good teachers, because I can learn so much, and for this day because it's been good so far.

Brianna--I'm thankful for everyone being able to be together, and not just getting together once a year.

Lisa--I'm thankful for family and our extended definition of that, and that we can all be together for the holidays.

Doug--I'm thankful that in these tough economic times, we have too much food, rather than too little.

Jim--I'm thankful for economic easements instated by the government.

Donna--I am thankful for our family, and how we are blessed with not just the family we are born into but the ones we have chosen to be family as well.

On Friday Lisa and I took the kids to the Oh Wow Nickel Arcade, and later to the pool room. Saturday Laura came up to join us, and we converged on the baseball field at our neighborhood park for the annual Mayes Girls Thanksgiving Softball game. I think this might have been my favorite softball game so far, since it started raining on us during the middle of the second inning. Softball in the rain is far more desirable than our ill-timed 100+ degree game at the Fourth of July celebration! That evening we all gathered for one of our famous family and friends pizza nights, and then the adults all headed out to Thai Fusion for a little karaoke. What a blast! We closed the place down, as we have been occasionally known to do, and then Doug, Laura, and I came back home and talked well into the night.

Although we missed the members of our family who weren't with us, I am so thankful that so many of us are able to get together and really have fun. I love my family!

Fall Leaves

November 29, 2010

One of my favorite things about fall in our neck of the woods--I just love the changing leaves.

Nicholas' Birthday Lunch

November 29, 2010

My boy and me, enjoying his birthday lunch at Marie Callendar's. We love our family time, but I think Nicholas really loves having Doug and me to himself every once in awhile, too.

The Lovely Bones--Alice Sebold

November 29, 2010

I've got a new book review of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones up at Sisters Recommend. Check it out--and then read the book!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fourteen Years Ago, I Met You

November 22, 2010

Bright and early, you made your arrival into this world fourteen years ago today. Just like your sister before you and your sister after, you thought it best to come on the scene after keeping your mama up all night. At three in the morning we arrived at St. Agnes Hospital, since I decided I'd do most of my laboring at home. We were progressing quite nicely, and everyone was predicting a six a.m. birth. I thought that was perfect, since your sister had made her arrival at 6:01 a.m. three and a half years before. But that time came and went, and the doctors finally had to admit it--you were stuck! With some extra intervention and with great relief to all, you were born at 6:30--all 9 lbs., 3 oz. of you. Perfect little fingers and toes, no hair, and tiny translucent eyebrows that were almost invisible unless you looked carefully.

We named you Nicholas Taylor because it's the only name your dad and I both liked. We had no back-up names, no what-if-he-doesn't-actually-look-like-a-Nicholas names on deck. I was pretty fond of Steven as a possibility, since that's your dad's middle name. Turns out, your dad doesn't like his middle name at all. Your dad lobbied pretty hard for Liam, a name which just looks to me like someone forgot to write the whole name. He also threw his own name into the ring. But William? It sounds so formal for a tiny little baby. And Billy doesn't work for me, nor does Willie, which is what they called your dad as a child. As a nickname, they called him Willie Lump Lump. Maybe you had to be there in order for that to be cute, but I wasn't there, and it wasn't cute. I didn't want to saddle you with that nickname, too. We also let Brianna throw out a few choices. She really was hoping for a baby sister, so I thought maybe if she felt she was part of the naming process, she might bond more easily with the new addition to the family. Bear in mind that Bree was only three and a half at the time. If she had had her choice, we would be calling you Simba or Figaro, names of animals from two of her favorite Disney movies. We opted to go another direction.
So Nicholas you were, and Nicholas you remain (despite your gradual transition to the more 'manly' Nick over the years, your mama named you Nicholas, and you will always be Nicholas to me). It's been incredible to watch you grow over the years, from an energetic, kinetic, whirling dervish of a little boy to a mature, responsible, respectful young man. You showed real creativity and aptitude for building and creating as a tiny little guy, and today you are talking about studying engineering or architecture when you go off to college. You tower over me, and your voice is deep and booming, but my little boy is still there in my gentle giant every time you hug me or tell me you love me. I love that you are so loving and affectionate, and that you love to explore science and history, and that you are so gentle and caring with those who are younger than you. I love that you still love Legos and Star Wars and soccer and video games. You are at that unique time in your life when you are straddling the worlds of childhood and adulthood, and as you continue to grow and challenge yourself and find the person you want to be in your future, I hope you never forget to bring along with you that loving, innocent, sweet child-like heart. You are a wonderful young man with so many doors opening up before you. I'm so thankful I get to come along with you on the journey.
Happy birthday, Sweet Pea. Mom loves you!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

In the Spirit of Thankfulness

November 21, 2010

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
--Albert Schweitzer

Each day offers us the gift of being a special occasion if we can simply learn that as well as giving, it is blessed to receive with grace and a grateful heart.

--Sarah Ban Breathnach

Difficulties are opportunities to better things; they are stepping stones to greater experience. Perhaps someday you will be thankful for some temporary failure in a particular direction. When one door closes, another always opens.


Maybe God wants us to meet a few wrong people before meeting the right one so that when we finally meet the right person, we will know how to be grateful for the gift.


Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.
The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.
--John E. Southard

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
--John Fitzgerald Kennedy

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
— Albert Einstein
Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some.
— Charles Dickens

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bah Humbug!

November 18, 2010

The curtain finally rose on Danielle's elementary school play, Bah Humbug, this week. After weeks of hard work--nearly every day after school--the kids got to show off their skills in a retelling of A Christmas Carol. When Danielle first decided she wanted to audition for drama in 4th grade, I was a little skeptical. She struggled with speech issues when she was very young, and there was still some residual effect even then, although she had made great strides in improving her speech by that time. In 4th grade, she was cast as a chorus member, and by the time the play wrapped up, she was hooked and already looking forward to the next year's production. In fifth grade, she was once again cast as a chorus member, and again had a positive experience.

This year when the cast list went up, she was thrilled to find she'd landed a speaking role. She had several lines, along with some songs along with the rest of the chorus. I was so proud to see her up on stage, not looking nervous or sheepish, projecting her voice and enunciating clearly--something I could never have done at her age, by the way. She did a beautiful job, as all the kids did and I loved getting to see her in both of the evening performances. I'm thrilled that she is already thinking about continuing on with drama as she heads into junior high next year.

Ashley Riordan, Emma Zamora, Danielle, and Danielle Jenkins

National Honor Society

November 18, 2010

Last week I had the privilege of watching Brianna get inducted into the National Honor Society. In order to qualify, students must meet qualifications which include high achievements in academics, leadership, extra-curricular activities, and community service. Brianna's involvement in Link Crew, the Schools for Schools Club, Key Club, Drama, and Choir, just to name a few, while maintaining an impressive academic record is something she can be proud of. Even more impressive, however, is how she has continued to stay centered and grounded while doing all of this. I am so proud that she continues to be a beautiful young lady on the inside as well as the outside. Natalie Meier, Kaitlyn Sims, and Bree

Bree and Simone Leighty

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Yeah, We're a Little Weird

November 14, 2010

Some of you might recognize Eric. Eric became part of our Halloween celebration several years ago, presiding over our 'dressed-up-for-the-holiday' lawn. He holds court over the graveyard and all the creepies and ghoulies that inhabit our yard in October. A few years ago we decided to keep Eric around even after we packed up the Halloween graveyard, and he became our honorary Ghost of Christmas Past through December. We realized, however, that Eric seems a little awkward hanging out in the yard in the Thanksgiving interim between his two holidays, so this year we bought him a little something so that he could feel like he was playing a part in the Thanksgiving festivities as well. Eric looks pretty dapper in his Fall hat, don't you think?

Beauty and the Beast

November 14, 2010

Danielle and I had our own little Girls' Night Out last week when we went to see a Broadway Across America production of Beauty and the Beast. We decided to get dressed up and make a fancy night of it, just we two. Our seats were pretty good, even though we were up in the balcony. For a show with such grand productions as "Be Our Guest", sometimes a field of vision from a bit farther away is more desirable than being up close and personal. The moving sets were pretty spectacular, and the characters were just as endearing as the characters we both loved from the Disney movie. Danielle and I both decided our favorite number was a beer-stein-tapping number in the tavern with Gaston and the locals. The choreography was a lot of fun to watch. I think since Danielle's getting ready to be in her own school's production that runs next week, it was especially cool for her to get to see actors in top form entertaining their audiences.

Although we both really enjoyed the show and thought it was well-worth the price of admission, I think we both loved even more just getting to spend Mommy-Daughter time together. We rounded out the evening with ice-cream Sundaes after the show. Wonderful night!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans' Day

November 11, 2010

This year, Danielle entered an art competition commemorating Veterans' Day. Local entries were all put up on display at the downtown Veterans' Memorial Building, and we took a trip down there to check out her work as well as all the other artwork submitted by both students and adults from the community. Here, Danielle sits next to her submission. (It's the one in the bottom corner.)

Happy Veterans' Day to family and friends who have served, as well as those we'll never get to thank in person, for sacrifices in the name of freedom.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dressed Up and Ready to Party

November 8, 2010

Due to her early arrival, Miss Zoe got to be guest of honor at her own baby shower. Grandma Lisa and Great Grandma Estelle hosted a shower to celebrate. Based on the gifts she received, that little girl is going to be one snappy dresser! (She's off to a good start--check out the party dress and tiny dress shoes she was wearing--adorable!) The best part was that while Mama Courtney and Daddy Justin were opening presents, Uncle Doug and Aunt Donna got some baby-holdin' time in!