About 50 years ago, this little cutie was collecting turtles near the Magothy River ...pretty much having a Tom-Sawyer-like childhood in the Maryland woods where he grew up with his 8 brothers.
He just turned 60, but still loves playing in the woods around our house, discovering and observing wildlife, and he still looks pretty dang cute in a pair of shorts.
He's a little taller now, and his hair is tinted with silver, but I know behind that facade is the same mischievous cutie you see above.
When he turned 50, we had a huge blow-out party, which included all of his brothers and most of their families converging on our house.
There were people sleeping all over the house. We even threw mattresses in my closet and a bathroom.
It was awesome and crazy, all at the same time! I can count on one hand how often all nine boys have been in the same place at the same time since I've known them.
But this year he opted for a small party. Just the kids, with hamburgers and cheesecake on the menu.
And at this very moment, he's enjoying a weekend of fishing and hiking with his sons.
Happy birthday, Tom!
Plans were in place to go see the new "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie for Mother's Day. My older son - the planner - had already bought tickets. But when I woke up Sunday morning, it was such a gorgeous day that another idea popped in my head...
...We should go hiking in the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge near our house instead! I have driven past the entrance so many times, but just never have had the time to go explore it.
Thank goodness my sons were all for it and my older son was able to get a refund for the tickets.
It was totally the right decision. The views reminded me of how much I love living here in the Texas Hill Country. And the hike made me feel less guilty about the cheesecake I ate in honor of Tom's birthday.
(New tennis shoes are a recent 'sweet!'!)
Isn't it gorgeous? I can only imagine the sunsets viewed from up there.
Since both of my boys are Eagle Scouts, I really appreciated seeing another Eagle's project on the trail; he built these stands that help you see a little bit more of the vista. (I'm just guessing they do - I didn't test them out!)
After exploring all of the trails in this area, we drove to another part of the reserve called Doeskin Ranch, where trails meandered low along a creek, then headed up into the hills. Different, but just as beautiful, and a good reminder of all of the different terrains you can find in the Texas Hill Country.
My middle son spotted this heart shape on a rock. I would have missed it!
These unique flowers were growing near the creek. I only spotted this one bunch of them. Does anyone know what they are? They remind me of tulips! (But also a tiny bit of that flesh-eating plant on The Addams Family, so I didn't get any closer than this.)
Last week Belle learned the hard way she isn't really a puppy anymore. At least not physically.
She chased one of our tenant rock squirrels into the woods, but hobbled back onto the porch on just three legs. Thank goodness, she didn't tear her ACL, as I feared, but only sprained it.
After a week of leashed walks and blocking the stairs with an old suitcase and my rolling desk chair (which wasn't always effective) we ventured back down the road for a morning walk. The first one took awhile because of all the sniffing.
I guess a lot had gone on in the past week and she needed to get caught up, much like my email inbox or Facebook when I've been away from either for a couple of days.
Without furthur ado, here are a few other sweet! highlights from the past month...
~ Noticing a momma wild turkey and one of her chicks strolling beside the creek down below our back deck one morning, thanks to Belle, who noticed her first, but wasn't inclined to bark or run down to chase her.
~ Learning I'm #7 in my market center for individual closed production so far this year. I'm so grateful to all of my clients who have trusted me to help them with their real estate needs, and to everyone who has recommended me to someone, since my business is almost 100% referral based. I couldn't have reached this without them!
~ I don't have a hummingbird feeder, but almost every day I spot one zipping around on our back deck through my office window, and one morning he buzzed me when I was standing outside by the rail. (My cell phone case is red.)
How can you keep from smiling when you see a hummingbird?
~ Dinner with my cousin Pat. She was always so good about visiting my mom, and I'm grateful we still get together, even though it's not nearly often enough.
~ Finally having coffee with another UT mom who lives in Austin after months of trying to sync our schedules.
~ A gorgeous hydrangea arrangement from my son and daughter-in-law for Mother's Day, and a bottle of port from TG and her BF.
The annual Keller Williams RED (Renew, Energize, Donate) Day was on May 11. Last year my market center converged on my mom's nursing home soon after her passing and worked on several projects, which included planting a pink rosebush in honor of my mom.
This year we chose Open My World Therapeutic Riding Center as our RED Day nonprofit, helping with maintenance items like clearing rocks out of a riding lot, creating a butterfly garden, adding sensory stations to the riding path, building ramps/platforms to make it easier for clients to move from their wheelchairs to the backs of horses, and lots more. It's an amazing place and it was wonderful to be able to set aside a day of regular work to help them as they help others.
(That's me in the shorts and blue and white hat. I was on the landscaping committee.)
~ I completed the Certified Home Marketing Specialist designation, which I started back in November!
~ We have a new air conditioning system. Our awesome A/C guy had managed to patch up our old one the past few years, but warned us we'd need to purchase a new one. I'm grateful the old one held on long enough for us to have enough money to just write a check for the new one!
An afternoon break with Belle... a yard full of Indian Blankets ... and a geranium to remind me of my mama.
Our daughters shared adventures in Spain during high school, our sons are good friends, and now I've been able to help this sweet friend through the process of building a new home. Her phase inspections are going great!
~ My brother-in-law spent his birthday in the hospital getting checked out for a possible heart attack, but all of his tests came back great. We're not sure what caused his pain, but grateful to find he's in pretty good shape.
~ Back in junior high, I had a big crush on a friend's brother. We talked on the phone and wrote letters, then lost touch until Facebook came along. Now I'm helping him and his wife find retirement property. Life is weird and amazing!
Run-walking with Belle while I say my Rosary.
Sometimes we make it out in time to catch the sunrise from up the hill. And one day we timed it just right to meet up with a neighbor walking her two puppies, Levi and Willow. Belle had such a great time with them! And I enjoyed walking and gabbing with my neighbor.
I've been working with a two great couples since last summer who wanted to purchase investment properties in Austin. They each wanted a place where their UT kids could live for now, and where they could possibly retire to in a few years.
They didn't know each other. One couple lives in Illinois, and the other in west Texas.
It has been fun and educational getting to know them - we've looked at condos all over the Austin area on their trips here.
But within a few days of each other, they all narrowed it down to a new complexes in south Austin. One couple closed on a really cute condo last week and the other closes in a couple of weeks.
It's always rewarding and exciting when that happens, but it also always makes me a little sad, knowing we won't be exploring properties together anymore.
But it's incentive to stay in touch, as well as find more clients to help!
On our Mother's Day hike last week, I was just about to comment about how I hadn't seen any cactus blooms this year, thinking the season had already passed.
Before I could say anything, I noticed this beautiful bloom. The season is just beginning.
Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you.