Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Ho Ho Ho, Y'all

I hope that you and your family have enjoyed a happy and healthy holiday season.

Until November 16th, 2013 had been a busy but peaceful year for the four of us: Tom worked hard, the kids played hard, and I coordinated it all like it was my job. But on that Sunday morning, a vicious tornado destroyed the home my little sister Sara shared with her husband, Jeff, and their two little ones. They escaped with their lives, thank goodness, but with little else. This crisis reminded everyone in our family that life is not about things, but people, and this holiday season we hold each other just a little tighter.

Will, who turned seven in early October, is an active, outgoing, independent first grader. To hear him tell it, he enjoys school when it comes to math, science, music, and computer lab but could do without art of any kind. Outside of school, my competitive and athletically inclined boy loves Tae-Kwon-Do, baseball, flag football, basketball, running, biking, video games, Beyblades, and Legos.

This fall we saw a new side of Will, a side that tests boundaries and questions authority. To put a more positive spin on things, he’s begun to stand up for himself, ask questions, advocate for more responsibility, and ask for a more heavily-weighted say in how, with whom, and where he spends his time. I see less and less “little” when I look at him, and while it breaks my heart to bid farewell to his younger (and perhaps better behaved) years, I love the boy Will is becoming.

Hallie, now four-and-a-half, is a confident, articulate preschooler with a passion for music and dance. When she’s not performing musical numbers or tap dance routines, Hallie spends her time coloring, painting, baking, accessorizing her stuffed animals, and challenging herself with self-assigned math homework. She’s given up on soccer for the time being, but she loves gymnastics and seems to have developed a knack for running. This summer she learned how to swim (defined simply as “make forward progress in the water”) and she’s very close to riding her bike without training wheels.

It seems that finally, after two long years, Hallie is…dare I write the words?...learning to control her wildly unpredictable emotions and fiery temper. Hallelujah! She’s a beautifully complicated blend of sweet and spicy, fueled by both passion and reason, and I love quietly watching as she takes on the world.

This December marks the end of Tom’s third year as a professor at Texas A&M University. His days are long and at times overwhelming, and more than ever he appreciates the opportunity to spend his free time (what little there is of it) at home with family and friends, at the gym, on the disc golf course with his league buddies, and on the baseball field as the coach for Will’s baseball team.

I continue to write for the National American Red Cross blog and MomsEveryday, and still enjoy keeping up my personal blog – which in April received a significant facelift to better serve as my writing portfolio – and our family blog. I look forward to one day branching out beyond the writing topics and style with which I’m comfortable, but I don’t anticipate finding the time to do so until Hallie starts kindergarten. On the other hand, I may decide to fill my newly-gained “free” time with a completely different kind of commitment…more regular substitute teaching, increased involvement at the local Red Cross, or even a new part-time job are on all on the table.

I have many goals for our family in 2014, but the most important one is to slow our lives down, if even just a little, so that we have more time to travel and stay home and talk and laugh and play with one another. Time passes so quickly these days, and my hope is that by embracing a slightly less chaotic lifestyle we can more fully appreciate our beautiful journey.

We wish you and yours a peaceful and joyful holiday season.

With love,

Tom, Erin, Will, and Hallie     

Click here to see Will and Hallie's Santa pictures from years past.             

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