Thursday, September 24, 2015


“Daddy! A Rubik’s Cube DOES help you get girls!” – Joey Daniel, September 23, 2015

Dear Joey,
Tomorrow, you will turn twelve years old. I need to pause here and let that sink in. Twelve. I spent part of the day today finding the past letters I’ve written you. It is easy to get lost in them. In the memories. It is so easy to become wistful and nostalgic, thinking back on the milestones and the lifetime we’ve shared with you up to this point. I used to post these letters to my blog, and go month by month, listing out all the things we did. It is nice to remember.

Each year seems to go by at a faster and faster pace. Maybe it is because we are all getting older. Maybe it is because we are so busy. Maybe it is a combination of both. It hardly seems possible that in a year, you will officially be a teenager.

This last year has probably been your busiest and most challenging year yet, but you managed to handle all the school work and all the extracurricular activities and shine the entire way. Fifth grade had its tough moments for sure. There was a lot of homework, you had multiple teachers, many projects, and even learned firsthand about different methods of conflict resolution. In November, you performed again in the school’s annual program (this year, it was the 80s- Totally O’Rama – and you belted out a line from Livin’ on a Prayer! It was awesome!). You competed in the Science Fair in January and the first elementary academic UIL competition in the spring! You also managed to earn straight A’s yet again to close out your elementary school career.

Let’s talk about baseball for a bit, shall we? You are still on the Round Rock Vipers Select Baseball Team. If my calculations are correct, your team played and practiced together for nine out of the past twelve months. That adds up to a whole lot of baseball! To be honest, you have had some ups and downs. You have gone through a hitting slump or two and have had games where you were just, for lack of a better word, off. You love your team, though. And baby, when you are on? You are ON. I don’t know how you do it, either. You have this drive and perseverance that never ceases to amaze me. You work your way up and out of the rough days and they become fewer and fewer as you get better and better. Your attitude and determination shine through both during the games and during practices. And your perseverance pays off. You did not end the spring season with a hitting slump. Instead, you hit a walk off triple to win one of our World Series games in July! What a moment! And then you got an entire month off only to start again, this time in 12U. Our team has such a good record for the spring season that the powers that be moved us up into a more difficult division. Your team is in development mode this season, and you are getting an opportunity to play some different positions. First base is still your favorite, but you love the outfield and getting those opportunities to make the big plays. You also enjoy pitching, but don’t do it that often. We play our second tournament this weekend. I love to watch you play.

In addition to baseball, you are still lighting it up at Taekwondo. You are actively pursuing your third degree black belt. That belt takes a while. Six mid-term tests, one test for recommended, and one test for decided, in fact. You have successfully passed three of your six midterm tests. I don’t have the opportunity to come watch your classes as much, but I have not missed a test. And every time I see you in your gear or completing one of your complicated forms, I am blown away. You are precise and sharp and have memorized so many moves. You make it look easy when I know it is not. It took hours and hours of practice to get it right.

This year, we also did some traveling and had quite a bit of fun. We went skiing in Beaver Creek in December with your Nana and Granddad. For Christmas, for the first time ever, we stayed at home. Good thing, too, because on Christmas Eve we got a puppy! Our very own little Alaskan Husky. You named her Loki and she is true to her name (the chaos-maker). She is a constant source of entertainment and dog hair. Your father and I also took you to Playa del Carmen for both Spring Break and an end of summer vacation. Spring Break was a little rough. You hurt your knee right before our trip and also got a respiratory virus. The virus wasn’t so hard on you, but then you shared it with me and your father and it took us out. You did get to hang out and just relax and play on your iPad quite a bit that week, though. We also went to League City, TX with the team to play in a baseball tournament and go to a Houston Astros game. That was such a great weekend!

In May, we also started talking about summer vacation plans and ideas. You really, REALLY wanted to go on an RV road trip. Some of your friends have gone on these trips and made them sound like a lot of fun. After some digging on my part, you confessed that they sounded fun because your friends also went to amusement parks and rode roller coasters. Your voice broke a little as you said, “And I’ve never ridden a real roller coaster!” Well, we did something about that! We had a family weekend in San Antonio and you got to bring a friend along. We stayed at the Hyatt Hill Country, and your grandparents and uncle also came! You and Anthony had a blast at the pool and y’all even got to surf! The next day, after a very intense but short rainstorm threatened to ruin our day, we headed to Six Flags Fiesta Texas. We were some of the first people to ride their newest roller coaster, the Batman ride. I believe you were able to get your fill of roller coasters that day.

Baseball pretty much consumed the first 7 weeks of summer, not really leaving much time to plan a family vacation. Your grandparents took you to Universal Orlando in June (during a non-tournament week) and you had an absolutely amazing time! Your Nana hired a guide for one of the days in the park and you got to go to the front of every line. While at the hotel pool one day, you also competed in a hula hoop contest. I believe you came in second place. When July rolled around, we realized that we had not planned anything for just US. After some consideration (and lack of planning time), we decided to have a do-over in Playa. It did not disappoint! It also just so happened that you had friends staying just down the beach! Having someone to hang out with makes all the difference! We did all the usual things, too… Exploring in town, lots of beach time, pool time, and we even did the night time Xplor zip lines.

We got home from Mexico and you had two weeks until middle school started. Middle school. I was a teacher at that school the very first year it opened. It never once crossed my mind so long ago that I would actually have my own child walk through those same doors as a student. Yet here we are. You are a month into school and have straight A’s so far, yet again. You come home from school and go right to work! You’re very busy and you somehow manage to get it all done.

You are such a unique young man. You are an aspiring YouTube sensation. You could spend hours recording Minecraft sessions (and sometimes do just that because everyone needs a little downtime). You are recently obsessed with Rubik's Cubes and can shock and amaze people with how quickly you can solve the two by two. You love hanging out with your friends when you get a chance, which admittedly is not often. You also just started cotillion classes very much against your will. You fought it tooth and nail, actually. Still, you put on dress pants, dress shoes, and a button-down shirt and went. An hour and a half later, we picked you up and you said you had an awesome time.
We rang in your Birthday Week with a Van Halen concert and we will be ending it with your first ever school dance, a party, and some baseball. I cannot wait to see what this year will bring for you!

Love, Mom(my) and Dad(dy)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Holidays

There is a chill in the air today as our first Arctic cold front of the season sweeps down to my little spot of Texas. I don't know why, but I always feel so energized when the cooler weather and shorter days arrive. I recognize that I'm a weirdo. But I feel so optimistic at this time of year!
The Pop Household Holiday Season is going to be a little bit different this year. Namely because for the first time since 1979, we will not be waking up on Christmas Morning at my Mema's house.
Long story, and Mema is still with us, but we will be spending Christmas at my parents' house this year. It's an adjustment, but a necessary one.
Lots of things are different this year. At the top of the list is my family dynamic. The loss of trust and relationships with my extended family. Some unpleasantness regarding finances. Side note here. Isn't it amazing how money can drastically change a relationship? Envy, jealousy, pride, and money. They are all interconnected. And there is a moral slippery slope, apparently, when one is entrusted with the caretaking of someone else's cash.
But enough of that. I'm so looking forward to the holidays this year. Last year, we went to Playa del Carmen with my parents the week before Christmas. Got home on the 21st, and I ordered Christmas cards. Ordered and let them sit in a box. I'm considering sending them out this year. Why not? They are just sitting there, wasting my money. And if I send them out, then that's one thing crossed off my to-do list right there!
This year, just The Mr. and The Boy and I are going away. We are taking The Boy out of school a week early and going to a winter wonderland. We get back in time for the Big Day.
So, today is November 12. My father is on his way down to help me out while the hubs is out of town. Next week, the hubs goes out of town again, but this time, I'm on my own. The following week is Thanksgiving. I am hosting again. I love hosting this holiday. Lets me shine. Then two weeks later, we head to snow. Then it's Christmas! Then New Year's! The remainder of the year is close to over.
I sure have a long list of things I'd like to get done between now and then.
Clean out the playroom
Organize the playroom
Organize The Boy's bedroom
Clean out The Boy's closet
Clean out ALL the closets
Clean out the junk drawers (yes. drawers. ugh.)
Clean out the spare room
Decorate the spare room
Lose 10 pounds
Make a big Goodwill donation
Throw out all of our old coolers
Clean out the garage
Fix our wood blinds
Organize the pantry
Throw out/recycle all my old magazines
Organize my kitchen cabinets
So. Um. Yeah. It's a long list. It's ambitious. Truth be told, I'll consider myself lucky to finish the top two items.

Monday, November 11, 2013


Quick Reminder... Be sure to thank a veteran today. Well, really, you should thank a veteran every day. The reason we are all here, all typing away, going to work, driving cars, speaking (mostly) English, and have the freedom to say just about whatever we want about anyone is because of someone braver than you or I decided to stand up and protect all the things we hold dear. These United States of America are truly exceptional. I, for one, am so proud to be an American!
That being said, I dropped the ball on NaBloPoMo. I really wanted to be able to say, after almost a year of not writing more than a status update on Facebook and Twitter, I posted every single day for a month. Now that I missed a day, it's a slippery slope and I can see myself falling back into my old, non-writing ways.
All's well, though. This past weekend was one that was 100% free of commitments. I mean, we had NONE. No where to be on either day. No family to attend to. Just the three of us. It was wonderful. Until... It was wonderful until I decided to get a pedicure. At a place that serves free wine. With a good girlfriend of mine. Of COURSE that did not go well. Because of COURSE it wouldn't.
Here's the timeline:
Friend comes over after dropping off her daughter at a birthday party. It's 4:30PM. The University of Texas kicks off at 6PM. Nail place is near my home. Get to the parking lot of where the salon is supposed to be. It is gone. Call. Drive 5 more minutes to the correct location. Arrive at 4:50PM. Immediately get seated in a chair, feet soaking, and handed a lovely glass of wine. Soak. Soak. OMG! My feet are shriveled! Look at the clock and it is 5:15. I start to worry. They refill my wine. Finally the pedicure begins. They are slow.
I then get a text from my husband, "XXX and XXX are coming over for the game." Then I get a text from another good friend, "We are on our way to come over and watch the game." Then I text the hubs to let him know about that and he texts back, "It's a party. XXX and the kids are coming, too."
PANIC ensues. On my part. I can literally feel the anxiety sweep over me. I snap at the sweet little pedicurist. I tell my friend that we GOTS TO GO! She tells me to chill. She is getting a manicure, too. OMG. I was dying. Finally. FINALLY. The pedicure is over. My toes are gorgeous. It is 6PM. Texas has kicked off. I decide to go to the Mexican Market next door to get ingredients to feed our growing guest list while my friend gets her mani. And another glass of wine. I do my shopping and get back as they are finishing up. On the ride back to my house (it's 6:30 and my house is FULL of PEOPLE), I determine that probably, I should drive to pick up her daughter from the birthday party.
So it's in, say a rushed hello to everyone, apologize profusely for being a terrible hostess, and rush back out the door. We have 14 minutes to get to the next town over and pick up the daughter. We go to the wrong place. Because of course we do! 7:30, 30 minutes after the party ended, we get to the right place, and pick up little miss. We then have to run by my friend's house and finally get back to my home at around 8.
If you're counting, my pedicure took 3 and a half hours. Made stressful only by the fact that for the first time in months and months we actually had a large amount of company. Oh well. For what it's worth, it was really nice to have a little "girl" time. My toes are gorgeous. And I know I'm an anxiety-riddled fool. Once I came down from all that adrenaline and drank a little more wine, it was all good. Except, well, at 11PM, with my house still full of people, I go into my bedroom to charge my phone. And that's all I remember until I woke up, on top of the covers of my bed, fully dressed.
I'm sure glad my friends like me. Because I suck at parties.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Well Shoot!

I missed a day. Oh well. I'm not giving up on blogging. I really do enjoy it. More maƱana!

Friday, November 08, 2013

On a Roll!

Wow! Today is my 8th day in a row of blogging! I have not done that in years. I'm very proud of myself.
I really enjoy taking a few moments to write a little something each day. To write more than a status update. To really take the time out to get some thoughts down.
For the past, oh I don't know, (two? three?) several years, my mother has paid for a subscription to this little bi-monthly magazine called The Upper Room. It is a book of daily devotionals, each with a Bible Verse and a story to go along with it. The stories are written by people from all over the world. Until September of this year, I would get that delivery in the mail, set it aside with good intentions, and end up recycling it, along with others that I'd found, completely ignored and unopened.
I actually started opening it up this past Sepetember and reading the daily devotionals. I didn't make it all the way through the first one. And how sad is that? I didn't have time to read a 4"x3" page with an uplifiting and inspiring message? That is just twisted.
I am proud to say that I am up to date with my November readings. It is so good to just take 2 minutes and read something that has the power to turn a day in the right direction. To be thankful for this life I've carved out. To rejoice in the fact that I am sitting here, at this computer. To give thanks for simply waking up. For my family. For the wonderful selection of friends I have. For The One who blessed me with this life.
As a pastor friend of mine writes at the end of every Facebook post... Be Blessed. Today and every day.
Happy Friday!