My dear, dear blog,
I have had so many good intentions of writing to you over the past few weeks, but alas, they got lost in the dust stirred up by time racing by. And now here it is, the first of December, and all I've written you since August are two little birthday posts.
Enough is enough. It's time to catch you up on all that's been happening around here....so many things worthy of their own blog post - in my opinion, at least - but a condensed version will have to suffice.
First of all, you may remember that last year at this time my eldest was in New Zealand, celebrating his 30th birthday.
Well, guess where he is tonight? Cuba! He'll be celebrating his 31st birthday there in a couple of days, traveling to some of the smaller towns, meeting the locals, and soaking it all up.
For him and his adventurous wife, it was a pretty spur-of-the-moment trip, although they've gotten really good at researching and planning their vacations.
For example, they explored Iceland in August via a camper van. I hadn't even gotten around to telling you about that!
That is just not like me.
I'm so grateful for their photos, Facebook, and their adventurous spirits.
Tom and I took a road trip to Florida to celebrate Thanksgiving with his mom. Although I call her a couple of times a month, somehow a year and a half had passed without me seeing her in person. Tom traveled there for her birthday in May, but I just couldn't get away. (My business exploded after my mom passed away. I think she stirred things up. Thank you, Mama!)
My mother-in-law is an amazing lady, so sharp and energetic, with such a positive outlook on life. I'm determined to help her celebrate her next birthday in May.
On this trip there was a lot of card-playing, television-watching, and sleeping. In other words, it was a true vacation! Plus, my sweet sister- and brother-in-law took me to my favorite antique/thrift store where you can still find bargains.
And then they hosted Thanksgiving, with another brother- and sister-in-law driving up from central Florida who I hadn't seen since Pop's funeral in 2012.
Overall it was an awesome trip. No beach...nothing exciting or fancy....but absolutely wonderful.
The week flew by for me - and then I had to fly home. By May I plan to have systems in place that allow me to stay the whole time.
On our way to Florida, we stopped in Houston to help one of our oldest friends celebrate his 60th birthday. Bob was in the Coast Guard with Tom, and except for Tom's roommate David (who was also at the party), Bob and his wife Lisa were the first of Tom's friends I met.
They always hosted the best New Year's Eve parties, which included silly interactive games which ensured everyone got to know each other fast... sometimes pretty intimately.
(No, not that intimately. Totally innocent. Just sort of embarrassing, in a junior high kind of way.)
Anyway, we played them again at Bob's birthday party. It's a great way to peel away 30+ years!
No photos of the games, though, just us and our dear friends...
There are no friends like old friends, right? I'm very grateful for these!
My daughter-in-law turned 29 a few weeks ago. For her 30th birthday next year, they are already planning a trip to Italy, so she has been taking Italian lessons, and to celebrate her birthday, we joined her at an awesome Italian restaurant in Austin, Vespaio.
Afterwards, we went to Cedar Street Courtyard and enjoyed a Spazmatics concert. It had nothing to do with Italy, but it was a lot of fun and worth staying up late on a Wednesday night!
This is a terrible photo of a photo from my 16th birthday. That's my grandmother on my right, my sister on my left, and my brother-in-law Boyce behind me.
I was 10 when my sister went on a blind date with Boyce. Five years later they were married, and they stayed that way for a very long time. He was absolutely the funniest person I've every met, very loyal, smart, helpful... but a very complicated person.
He loved to embarrass me, but was one of my most ardent cheerleaders, too, keeping me humble and building me up at the same time. He was one of my best friends.
Boyce and my sister were second parents to me when my parents divorced, giving me valuable guidance, financial advice, and stability.
But he was also bi-polar (we later realized) and it got worse as he got older. They eventually divorced, but remained friends, and he always remained my big brother, a dear friend, and one of the funniest people I've ever known. My parents adored him.
So it broke my heart when he passed away several weeks ago after almost a year of severe illness.
May you rest in peace, Boyce. I love you, and thank you for being such an awesome big brother.
If you're a fan of the HGTV show Fixer-Upper, then you are familiar with Magnolia Market.
I finally got to visit it in person!
I always love helping my clients, whether buyers or sellers, realize their real estate goal or dream. But I recently had the joy of helping my son's best friend and his wife (who is also one of my son's long time friends I've watched grow up) move back to Austin from Washington D.C. and buy their first home - a really cool modern home in east Austin.
They were so much fun to work with - they had thought it out thoroughly and knew their priorities. There was one house they kept coming back to... and they got it. I'm so grateful they let me help them in their adventure. And I'm so happy they are back in Austin!
I had a little adventure of my own on the way to their closing... a flat on a major highway!
I made the mistake of pulling off on the left shoulder, but fortunately an awesome Austin policeman came to my rescue. With his car, he blocked traffic on the highway so I could get across to the exit, then blocked traffic on the feeder so I could pull into an Academy parking lot. Then he proceeded to change my tire until the highway assistance truck arrived and took over.
His name is Office Wally and he's my hero.
I still made it to the closing, though, because my awesome son met me at the tire store, gave me his car, and waited there while mine was repaired. Later, he met us for brunch to celebrate the closing and we traded back.
What might have been a horrible day turned out to be wonderful, thanks to Officer Wally and Tommy.
For something like 15 years, I've been retreating to the beach in Port Aransas each fall with friends. I've truly lost count of the number of years.
A few of the faces have remained the same, but every year there are some changes.
This year was extra special because one of the ladies - who happens to be the daughter of one of the originals, but who has been joining us since she turned 21 ten years ago when we picked her up at the Corpus Christi airport and now she essentially keeps the whole thing organized... um, where was I?
Oh, yes, Lauren is expecting her first baby, so we gave her a surprise baby shower.
That was definitely a first.
A lot of us also went out dancing one night and witnessed some fights (and subsequently knew it was time to leave) so it all balanced out and was yet another memorable weekend that will blur together with all of the others into a blissful montage that I remember distinctly but can't keep straight from year to year.
And that's it for now. Those are just the highlights of the past couple of months. In between these big blessings are so many small ones that are easily overlooked, and I feel guilty for not sharing those.
But I do hope you have been keeping an eye open for them. To me, they are the most powerful... the quiet reminders of hope and God's love.
Until next time... whenever that may be.
"Let a joy keep you. Reach out your hands and take it when it runs by"