Decking My Halls

Today was a glorious day in which I got to stay home all day to decorate my house for Christmas. It was a cold and windy day, so I thought it a perfect day to deck my halls. I played Christmas music throughout the house, too.
I still have a few areas to tweak in decor, such as that pitiful bow on top of the tree. I have wanted a new topper for years, and this will be the year. Oh, yes, it will.

No, there aren't any gifts under the tree. I'm definitely not finished with shopping, and I'm learning to not stress over it. I'm typically finished by December 1st, but I will not hyperventilate if it takes me an extra two weeks.

I will not hyperventilate. I will not hyperventilate. I will not hyperventilate.

One of my favorite Christmas traditions with our little family is to sing Christmas carols in our living room while Rick plays the guitar. Because our wonderful friends loaned us their piano last spring and it has become Rick's favorite pastime, it is only fitting for us to move our Christmas carols to the piano. I snapped this picture of my men tonight.
The boys were already dressed for bed. Garrett enjoys the caroling the most, as he is our most musically-inclined child. Liam will sing the first couple of lines, and then he squirrels around. Jack usually moves around, but he was mesmerized by a picture frame I put out today.

My mother-in-law gave us this photo of my father-in-law last year, and I put it on top of the piano today for this holiday season.
I've forgotten how old my father-in-law was, but he's not so sure about Santa handing him a peppermint stick.

Since I just put the picture out today, the boys noticed it as we were singing tonight. Jack was completely distracted by it and could hardly take his eyes off of this picture of his Pop.

After several minutes of studying the photo, Jack asked, "Why is Pop Santa?"

"Pop is the boy, not Santa," Rick explained.

"Oh," Jack said, but I could tell he was still confused.

"Pop was a boy before he was a man," I said.

"Oh," and I could tell by his tone that he didn't realize that fact. Isn't it funny that we assume kids know certain things, such as grandparents once being children? It's never even occurred to me to explain that to them. Well, now he knows.

Clearly we need to show the boys more photos of their grandparents' childhood. Maybe that will become a new Christmas tradition.

Signing off to gaze at my Christmas tree. I want to enjoy this season.

Merry Christmas!

Thanksgiving 2010

It's been nearly three weeks since I've written, and I can blame the time lapse on the fact that I've suffered from writer's block. Crickets were chirping in my brain.

At any rate, The High-Maintenance Campers pulled out of town over the Thanksgiving holiday, which typically means I have writing material upon our return home.

My parents invited us to join them in Marble Falls, TX for four nights, and it was great to get away. I spent much of my childhood swimming and boating on the lakes in this area, so it felt like going home.

Shortly before our trip, Jack lost his second tooth up top. Just call him "the Toothless Wonder".
Winston, the dog, enjoyed someone else receiving all the snaggle teeth jokes.

The Toothless Wonder didn't let it slow him down. Not much does on any given day. He is our wild man after all.
And boy does he love sticks! Give him a twig of any size, and he can enter his imaginary world of gun fighting, bow hunting, kung fu, or fishing.

Meanwhile, give his brothers a baseball, a glove, and their Daddy.

Liam, the All Star
Rick, their hero
Garrett, the South Paw

The boys' other favorite pastime this trip was their Razors. On a whim, we decided to pack their scooters, and what a great idea.
They spent hours riding, racing, jumping.
The Toothless Wonder is quite the hot dog.
Garrett was rather perturbed with my need to get a close-up.

While the boys play happily, the adults typically shoot the breeze, but it's not long before someone needs us. Case in point: look at G's hands.
But before more baseball, we posed for a family photo.
Yes, we're all in Aggie shirts, except for my dad. He loves to give my boys a hard time about everything Aggie related.

And please pardon my hair. It just has a mind of its own some days.

The weather was very mild this Thanksgiving morning, so we pulled out the canoe.
Rick took each boy on a ride.
I have no idea why Jack looks unhappy, unless it's because it was time to share.
Garrett was the last to ride. Within minutes of that photo, the wind picked up and a cold front blew in within seconds. It was the strangest sensation to be standing in 70 degrees, and suddenly the wind shift caused the temp to drop 20 degrees immediately. Needless to say, we had to head for the comfort of the camper for our Mexican Thanksgiving meal and football.

As is Texas tradition for turkey day, we had to watch the Dallas Cowboys' game. We knew they would lose to the New Orleans Saints, but traditions prevail.

That night, THE football game entertained us on tv. The Aggies beat the Longhorns. Nothing says "Happy Thanksgiving" quite like an Aggie win over their arch rivals. WHOOP!

The boys were anxious to play outside the next morning, and they were excited to need their winter gear.

Liam, the Nut
Jack, the glove lover
Garrett, whom always looks great in green

We drove to Austin later in the day. Let me just tell you that Hopdoddy's on South Congress has the most delicious burgers. I will most definitely get my buns back their in the future.
Rick took control of the camera while we waited for our lunch. There's proof behind the pickles.
And a picture of me while having a better hair day.
We also took the boys to see the Capitol.

Liam counted the steps inside and can't wait to report to his teacher next week.

After our tour, we stepped outside to a beautiful afternoon. It was warm enough to strip our jackets and take some pictures.

And the boys played with a new friend on the Capitol grounds.
We were able to spend the rest of our trip outside with light jackets. I think the boys got plenty of outdoor play, and I know I had plenty to eat.

We didn't have any major mishaps on this trip, which needs to go down in the record books. Maybe we're not the High-Maintenance Campers any long, as much as we're the Classy Travelers.

Lil Ron Rallies

As I was sitting in the school carpool line Tuesday afternoon, my cell phone rang. It was the Rangers again.

Yep, the Rangers have my number. Let's just pause and let that soak in....

"Hi, Ami. Have you all had a chance to settle down," Cherie (with Promotions) asked.

"Today has felt somewhat normal," I said.

"Well, that may change again," she continued. "Because the Rangers' coaches and players felt that Lil Ron was such an integral part of the World Series, they would like to feature him at our rally tomorrow night. The whole family can come this time. Would you all be available?"

"Wow, we had no idea this would continue! Yes, I'm sure we can come," I responded.

As soon as we got to the Ballpark, we tried for another Christmas card picture. It's not quite what I'm wanting though.
I won't quit until I'm satisfied.


Liam was recognized immediately, even though we arrived two hours before the rally began and the crowds were small. Immediately, his picture was taken by more people than I could count.

We'll pretend that this next picture was not taken inside a beer truck. It was a cute truck, okay!
Liam and I were quickly weary of all the picture taking. Thankfully, a Rangers' rep approached me and asked if we needed to be rescued. I responded with a quick "YES!", and he took us behind the fences. Fans could still take Lil Ron's picture, but at least there was space between us.

There was plenty of waiting, but the boys brought baseballs and were pretty content.
Remember when I said that deciding to take Garrett to the World Series game was an easy decision because he can sit through a game without falling out of his chair? Shortly after this picture was taken:
Jackson fell out of his chair in front of thousands of fans. Yep, he did.

We were interviewed by KRLD, Fox 4, Fox Sports Southwest, NBC 5, and probably someone else that I've since forgotten about. Radio and television interviews all run together after a while.

Now, there's a statement I thought I'd never make.

CBS 11 wanted to interview Rick this time. It's funny that he gets more nervous in front of the camera than I do. He's the extrovert in this relationship, yet he stumbles over his first few words when a reporter is asking the questions.
That sweet lady in the background with the red jacket is Cherie, the Rangers' rep that took such great care of us at the World Series. She feels like family now. Mom, I think we should set an extra place for her at our Thanksgiving table.

The rally began at 6pm. The coaches and many of the players were introduced and seated on the stage, while we stayed in the "family" seating.

All owners and coaches were present. A lot of the players have already gone home, but all of the big names were there. Kinsler, Hamilton, Murphy, Feliz, Andrus, Young, Oliver to name a few.

When Ian Kinsler was interviewed, he said, "I don't see that stadium over there, 'cuz this is where all the action is!"

He was referring to the Cowboys' stadium across the street, which is gigantic. But considering how horrible the Cowgirls are this year, his statement was hilarious! Kinsler got laughter from 10,000 fans and a high five from Emily Jones.
I won't bore you with picture after picture of the players on stage, but I will post another picture of my fave, David Murphy. Every time this guy sees my boy, he stops to acknowledge him. There's something very genuine about him.
When it was time for Chuck Morgan to introduce Ron Washington, Lil Ron was brought forward instead of Wash. The crowd cheered and laughed.
Wash found it hysterical, too.

Chuck asked Liam, "Wash, what do you have to say tonight?" Liam said, "That's the way baseball go!" And the fans cheered.

Coaches and players continually thanked the fans for their support throughout the season. And they all promised a winning World Series next year. I can't wait!

The players and coaches split pretty quickly at the end of the rally. I can't blame them. Their off season is very short.

But Captain stayed long enough to play with my boys and to bite my head.
I'm sorry; there's not a photo of him biting my head. I was a bit taken aback and didn't think quickly enough to take a picture.

How do you like those World Series jackets? Cherie gave one to each boy. But because they're too big on the boys, guess who scored herself a World Series jacket?!

The family with the antlers:
My mom was able to go with us, and we got a cute picture of her and the boys.
I owe her BIG time after this whole ordeal. She was a huge help to me during the many interviews! She watched the little boys so that I could focus on reporters, and she took behind-the-scenes photos. She even brought us a lasagna for dinner the night after the big game. She knew I was worn out. Thank you, Mom!

Once the crowds thinned out, we made our way to the car. Liam's picture was taken a few more times, until he finally said, "No more pictures. I've taken like a billion tonight!"

With that being said, we've made sure there are no more photos, and we've turned down interviews. We told him all along that we would make it all stop as soon as he got tired of it.

Lil Ron woke up early the next morning, so we pulled out the clippers. He was ready to be Liam again.
I missed that cute head.
All good things must come to an end.
But what a wonderful time it was!

Lil Ron & the World Series

So, if you haven't opened your web browser or turned on your tv in the last week, then you might not know that my eldest son, Liam, dressed as Lil Ron Washington, the Texas Rangers' manager, for Halloween. His photo spread like wildfire on Facebook and Twitter, and before we knew it, we needed our own assistant to help us field calls for interview requests.

No, I do not have an assistant, but it sure is a nice thought.

Lo and behold, the Rangers called last Friday and invited him to the 4th game of the World Series and to say "Play ball!" in costume.

For those of you that have missed my previous posts on this whole outer body experience, they are here, here and here. (Is the phrase "outer body" or "out of body"? Words...sometimes they fail me.)

The Rangers gave us two tickets. Rick was able to buy two more, so that he and I wouldn't have to have a knock-down-drag-out over the whole issue. People often ask how we decided which little brother to take with us. One of our little boys can sit through an entire game without falling out of his chair, and the other can't. It was an easy decision.

But if Jackson had been with us, we would have the perfect Christmas card.
The Rangers requested that Liam not arrive in costume as a safety precaution.

Let me tell you that walking from our car towards the Ballpark was a surreal experience for me. I have been a Rangers fan since I was a little girl, and I can't tell you how many games I attended in my high school and college years. I have loved this team since before they were anything big, and here I was walking up to the beautiful Ballpark with a World Series ticket in my hand! And my son was getting to say "Play ball!" Yes, I had to breathe deeply to keep myself from passing out.

Liam's disguise didn't do much good. We were spotted a few times, especially after Fox 4 found us and put a camera on our tails. Actually, we were happy to give them and The Dallas Morning News each an interview while we waited.
At 4:30, we were swept away by our very own Rangers promotions rep, Cherie. She was an amazing asset to us for the next 3 hours! She put bracelets on the four of us, which told all Security personnel to let us be. And with that, we were whisked into the bowels of the Ballpark. She continually asked me if I was okay with how my son was being treated. She said, "Our number goal is to make sure you all have a safe and fun time."

First on the agenda: change Liam into Lil Wash clothing. Because the two former President Bushes were there, bathrooms and dressing rooms were at a premium, so we took Liam into the Groundskeepers' bathroom. Those guys acted as if we handed them the best Christmas gift ever when we asked to use their restroom as Lil Wash's dressing room.
They waited with their cameras and iPhones ready for Lil Wash's first appearance.
Yes, the Rangers made a #38 jersey just for him! He ended up not wearing it for the game because of the size, but I can assure you that he wore it to school the next day.

As a side note, Jack and Garrett were also given some fun gifts. Those Rangers know how to make some boys happy.

Cherie took us to the players' equipment room next. Liam enjoyed touching the bats and counting the helmets.
While we were waiting around, the players began to walk through the hall next to us. The first player we saw was David Murphy. He is very personable and now my favorite player.

The rest of the players filed by, and each one of them took one look at Liam and smiled. Some laughed. Some gave him a high five or knuckles. But each one of them welcomed my boy, and they all couldn't wait for their coach to see him.

Then, the moment we had all been waiting for! THE Ron Washington came to talk to Liam.

I'm kicking myself for not having my good camera out for this moment. My cell phone was the quickest thing I could get to. Wash was very gracious to us. He shook all of our hands, asked us our names, and then talked directly to Liam. He wanted to talk about baseball, of course.

After a few minutes, it was time for a press conference in the dugout.
Wash took Lil Ron to the bench. We were told there were 100 media present for this press conference, and Liam felt the heat. He clammed up in a big way, so Wash handled the questions for him. Liam did, however, give them the antlers and the claw.

Meanwhile, I was standing in the background trying to hold myself together. I was overcome with emotion. I couldn't believe that the Lord loves us so much that He chose us to live this big adventure! He loves us so much that He chose something so big to us, yet so trivial in the grand scheme of things, to bless our socks off with. Yes, tears flowed.

Once we saw how nervous Liam became during the press conference, we scratched the idea of him announcing the starting lineup. It would have been really cool to hear, but we needed to make sure that Liam would remain excited about his main job of saying "Play ball!" instead of becoming overwhelmed.

We were then taken back into the tunnel to wait. Everywhere we waited, Rangers' employees took pictures with Liam. Eventually, Mrs. Washington wandered over and said, "Are you my husband?" Liam gave her the deer caught in the headlights look.
Liam, Rick and Garrett were then taken into the clubhouse, where they were able to meet every single player, except for CJ Wilson. Rick said it was amazing to see these star athletes taking pictures of his son.

The players needed to get their mental game on, so we left them and went into further hiding. We were able to spend most of the time watching the Giants warm up.
When it comes to baseball, we don't get bored.
When it came time for Liam to be prepped for his announcing job, Garrett and I had to leave. Only one parent was allowed with him from that point. Liam originally said he wanted me with him, but Daddy gave me the boot, as if it wasn't a girl's job. I may never forgive my husband.

Garrett and I had a long walk to our nosebleed seats, so I had to suck it up and get movin'. The crowds in the breezeway were so tightly packed that I was afraid we wouldn't make it to our seats in time to see Liam's part. I was even more afraid I would lose Garrett in the crowd. He clung to my hand for dear life, and I prayed like crazy until a man finally reached out and parted the crowd for me to get through. I didn't even tell that man I was desperate to move, but he saw the emotion on my face. Thank you, dear man.

We made it to our seats with time to spare. Our seats were true nosebleeders, and I had to use binoculars to find my men. But I did find them in time to see Liam playing with Captain, the mascot. Once I saw him having fun, I knew he would be okay. Rick said it was awesome to see Nolan Ryan, the two former Presidents and their wives, and a big whig with MLB all waving at his son. Joey Votto, recipient of the 2010 NL Hank Aaron award, even stopped to have his picture taken with Lil Ron.

At one point, Liam seemed to be taking it all in. He asked Rick, "Daddy, can I just down reach down and touch the dirt?" He just needed to feel it to make it real.

Finally, his big moment came! I held my breath from my seat, as I watched him through the binoculars and waited to hear his voice in the Ballpark. "PLAY BALL!" He came through loud and clear to 52,000 fans, and I cheered with tears pouring down my face. It was a proud mama moment.

After Lil Wash's big job, he and Daddy were taken to meet Chuck Morgan, the big voice behind all Rangers' games. He specifically requested that Liam be brought to see him.

Once Rick and Liam were ready to find their seats, they plopped a hat on Liam's head, removed the mustache and his glasses, and put a new jersey on top of his t-shirt, all in hopes to disguise him. It didn't work. A white dad with a black boy is an automatic giveaway, especially when that particular child has been all over the internet and television for the past four days.

Finally, MLB found out where they were seated and asked if they would like to be moved to their suite. YES! He was able to call me, and all four of us were escorted to a much more comfortable seating arrangement. We had plenty of elbow room, and they fed us well. Most importantly, we were left alone to watch the game. Thank you, MLB!!

And we were ten feet away from Lyle Lovett!

Liam said, "Lyle who?" We said, "Just smile, son."

After the game, we were interviewed with Fox's post game show. Liam was asked what his favorite part of the day was. He thought about it for a few seconds and replied, "Church." The news caster giggled and repeated, "Church was your favorite part of the day?" Liam nodded.

Everyone asks me if that made me proud. Yes, it made me proud but not the way you might think. I'm proud because only God could do that kind of work in his heart. Only He could keep a 7 year-old boy grounded through several days' worth of television, newspaper, and radio interviews. Only our Father could form Liam's heart to keep Him first in spite of the biggest day of his life. But for the grace of God....

At 11:30pm, we called it a night. Lil Ron and his baby brother fell asleep within minutes of buckling up. Rick and I talked all the way home about how amazed we were at our experience. "We just went to the World Series! And met the coach! And the players!..."

No, our Rangers didn't win. And they lost the next game to end the Series with a Giants' win. But they made some amazing memories for us. And we are forever grateful.

Once the Texas Rangers' promotion office has time to sort through their photos, I will have some good ones to share. I can't wait to see what they captured on camera!