Finding THE “One Word”…

Early December of 2017 I started thinking about “One Word” for 2018. As the “keeper” of so much of our families events, activities and daily living, it became very apparent that before I selected a personal “One Word,” my family needed their own “One Word” we could all get behind, use to push us forward, anchor our core values, and weather the challenges that would be coming our way.

joshua tree family picIt wasn’t until we took our family trip starting New Year’s Day 2018 (a new Christmas gift tradition for the kids), that the uninterrupted family time could provide opportunity for organic conversations and discussions to take place helping us select our word. It was on third day of our trip to California, as we drove through the vastness of the Joshua Tree National Park that we began to discuss what the Wilson Family’s “One Word” would be. To keep each individual’s ideas respected and honest, each family member was to submit three words to me. After some time given to ponder, each family member submitted their three words.

Words submitted were:

patience, exceed, thrive, nice, understanding, anticipate, intentional, dedicate, faith, serendipity, embrace (2)

Using a loose version of the “Affinity Map Protocol” from my educational coaching tool box, we put the words into related or similar groups and then looked for what might be similar or capture the meaning of all of our words into either a new word or a word that had already been part of our original list of words.

Our “One Word” wasn’t decided by the end of our trip. We revisited it several times.

Mid-January we moved toward the word “Embrace.” The timing of our family knowing this was the word was truly God’s timing.

Yet, I waited to write about it for almost a month. It was a word we had to “try on.”

It has found it’s way into many conversations with our children, with our marriage and with our interactions with others. Most of all it has defined how we, as a family, are walking in faith, trusting God’s plan and EMBRACING his will for us.

Embrace, as a noun, means “an act of accepting or supporting something willingly or enthusiastically;” as a verb, means “accept or support (a belief, theory, or change) willingly and enthusiastically.”

Whether as a noun or verb, the response is willingly and/or enthusiastically. So whatever we as a family encounter, or have an opportunity to impact, we will EMBRACE with willingness and enthusiasm.

_And for this further reason we render unceasing thanks to God, that when you received God's Message from our lips, it was as no mere message from men that you embraced it, but as--what

“Embrace” is our family’s “One Word” that confirmed my personal “One Word” for 2018. If you are interested in my personal “One Word” you can learn more about that through my professional blog “Tag You’re It.”

 

20 Years and Counting…

FullSizeRender (2)Eric and  I celebrated our 20th anniversary back in July.  We have moved to 4 different towns during that time. Had 7 different addresses, and become parents. All that moving around and child rearing can result in some friendships becoming more distant, and even lose complete contact with wonderful people.

However, there are just some people you can’t lose… no matter the how much you move around. As luck would have it, they sometimes move in the same places. The Johnson’s are those people.

FullSizeRender (4)Eric and I met Bruce and Janice the summer we were engaged to be married in Ozark, Arkansas (our first community to reside in as a married couple). Once married we attended several events at their home. Janice taught me the finer art of garage sale-ing and showed me how to “Design on a Dime” before HGTV ever thought of it as a concept for a television show. To top it all off, my first year of teaching, I taught Janice’s oldest son Cody. Our lives were intricately woven.

Fast forward five years, Eric was transferred to Waco by his employer. We loved the little town of Ozark and the people we had met. However, we were headed to a new life in a new town. We figured our interactions would be few if any with the Johnson’s and the rest of our Ozark friends.

Fast forward six years, we left Waco (with one child and another on the way) and headed to a new opportunity in Dallas/Fort Worth. Three years after that I returned to teaching at Haslet Elementary in Northwest ISD. A year later I discovered Facebook. Through a former friend still in Ozark via Facebook we learned that Janice and Bruce were living in the very town I taught in, Haslet!

FullSizeRender_4Quickly we reconnected. We have been going to most of their New Year’s Parties and other social events since then. This year was no different… except now our children have come to expect this celebratory tradition.

FullSizeRender (3)Some paths only cross for a little while, others weave back and forth and by creative design are intricately woven. That is the path that has formed between the Johnson’s and the Wilson’s.

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What paths in your life have crossed the paths of others and become a part of your intricately woven life journey?

It’s a Razorback Tradition

Razorback Texas Bowl

This Christmas Break we had the opportunity to take the kids to the Texas Bowl in Houston at the NRG Event Center.  This was especially exciting for Eric and I, who got to relive the old rivalry from the Southwest Conference days.

Experiencing the pre-game events, running into former head football coach Ken Hatfield made this family’s Razorback Football traditions even better. The kids were all in…

From the 5 hour ride down, to the stop at Bucee’s (going down and coming home), to the entire event, there enthusiasm never wavered. Even when we stopped at Whattaburger some time after midnight for an after-game victory snack.

Our Razorback game-watching family tradition continues, and this event will be one of the best memories in a long line of games that have already passed and the many games we will experience in the future.

What traditions does your family bond through? How has it become a part of your family culture and fabric?

Ice Skating and The Stockyards

Only in Fort Worth, Texas can you take your kids to ice skate and see a cattle drive all in the same day.

On the Monday before Christmas with our good friends the Bear’s, we ventured out to ice skate at the Outdoor Panther Ice Rink (yes the high temperature was in the mid-50s) and then watch the Cattle Drive in the Stockyards. We also enjoyed a delicious lunch at the one and only Joe T. Garcia’s followed by the kids trying out the life sized maze off of Exchange Avenue near the stockyards and made famous by the “Amazing Race.”

Here is a few snapshots that was compiled into a flipagram for viewing pleasure.

Look for more updates from the holiday break to be posted soon…

“You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!”

FullSizeRender[1]By the time the last day of school before the holiday break starts most of us are ready.  Some of us are so haggard with events and parties we may even exclaim “I just want to poke my eyes out!” But God gave me a Christmas Baby, and he gave me the energy, stamina and creativity, I believe, to do both the holiday activities and Embug’s birthday with equal energy and excitement.

Lucky for me, Embug loves all things Christmas and I have given extra effort to keeping her birthday special in the mix of all the holiday hullabaloo. Even though I do everything to separate the events of Christmas and her birthday, it has become a natural process to integrate the themes of the season into her birthday.  This year was no exception.

This year my biggest challenge was not to keep it special for Embug… but to make it “cool” for my blossoming Tween. We’ve tried small intimate birthday celebrations and big “on site” birthday events. Either have had their set of challenges. Most of our difficulties lie in scheduling a time when there weren’t conflicts with everyone getting to her party due to parentals having holiday events of their own.

To try to plan for the least amount of conflict we planned for the evening on the last day of school. Most parentals have had their company or neighborhood parties and kids events are over. Now we just run into those that may be headed out of town for family holiday events or vacation.

The second challenge, which is a new one for us this year, is making it appealing for both boys and girls. This is where the collaboration between myself and Embug came into play. One of Embug’s favorite movies is “A Christmas Story.” Over the course of several discussions with her friends she discovered that this was not a well-watched Christmas movie by her peers. After she got over the initial indignation of the lack of Christmas culture, an idea arose. Embug and I devised a plan to have “A Christmas Story” Themed Birthday party.

Christmas Story Invite frontChristmas Story Invite BackThis party involved PJs (footie PJs preferred), BB Gun target practice with a Red Rider BB gun, fried rice and egg rolls in honor of the Chinese Restaurant where Ralphie’s family was relegated to after the Bumpus’ hounds destroyed the Christmas turkey, and a viewing of the Cult-Acclaimed “A Christmas Story.” What tween boy or girl would not enjoy this event?

 

 

The evening arrived and there was an excited buzz in our home.  The fried rice and egg rolls were a FullSizeRender[1]surprising hit and the party guests couldn’t get enough of the BB gun target practice. While some didn’t have quite the artistic appreciation for the movie, Embug was content in knowing she had passed on yet another nugget of Christmas culture to her friends.

Embugs Birthday 2014FullSizeRender[1]

 

 

 

 

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While we didn’t have cake. Cake pops were all the rage with flavors of lemon, red velvet, vanilla and FullSizeRender_2[1]chocolate done in thFullSizeRender_4[1]e shapes of the “Frah-gee-lay” box, Target with the words “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!”, lampshade from the “Leg Lamp Award”, and Ralphie “Bunny PJs” head.

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It was a success all the way through. I have the evidence to prove it, as over and over again Embug thanked me for a great party.

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I only have about 6 more years of birthday parties that I will be able to plan for her before she’s out on her own, and I realize that the next 6 years will probably be some of the most challenging parties to plan, but I am going to enjoy the success of this one.

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However, any and all suggestions for future parties are welcome!

Family, Football and Faith

It doesn’t happen every year, but we try as best we can to go to at least one home Razorback game in Fayetteville. With my sister now living in Farmington (a small country town near Fayetteville) and my parents in Little Rock, coming to a game is a family event, for the four of us and beyond.

We packed up the car and headed to Fayetteville this November for the last home game against Ole Miss. We drove up hopeful for a win, but the sting of loss with every home game we had been to the last few years in the back of our minds. With that the forecast was for 100% chance of rain with temperatures in the low 50s.

This was not a game for the faint-hearted. Only the committed need attend… and attend they did. Despite the rain the Hogs shutout the Ole Miss Rebels 30-0 to a nearly full Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Even better, we, as a family, were there to witness in person.

With my sister’s family and her kids with us at the game, we cheered on our Hogs with unbridled enthusiasm and joy. Being a Razorback has been a part of who I was a child, then attended the University where I received my Bachelor’s in Education. I even married a second generation Razorback.  The Hog blood runs deep.

It is no coincidence that are kids have aspirations to attend the University of Arkansas. While those future plans may not be realized, the memories and the love for the Razorbacks will continue. There is no doubt memories were made with this game, where this shutout with ranked Ole’ Miss was epic.

After the game on Saturday the kids went to  my sister’s to have cousin time, while Eric and I met up with one of my former students, Kelley Whitson and her boyfriend. We enjoyed amazing gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches at “Hammontrees.” Their homemade soups and their multitude of twists on the basic grilled cheese are incredible both in taste and creativity. After great conversation and sandwiches, we made our way down Dickson Street to check out the night life. We quickly became aware that we are no longer “night life” people. Plan B led us to our favorite college eatery, “Hugo’s.” There we had their famous grasshopper crepes. We wrapped the night with a walk on the Fayetteville Square already lit up for Christmas… complete with Christmas Razorbacks!

Hog Christmas Lights

The following day we enjoyed an early Thanksgiving dinner with my sister, her family and my parents that came up for the game from Little Rock. We had a great time reflecting on our blessings, laughing and eating delicious home-prepared food in my sister’s home. Food, family and faith… that’s what brings us together, connects us, and holds us together.  For that, I am thankful.

How was your Thanksgiving?

#RazorbackFB as a #HogFamily

razorbacks-banner

We have been Razorbacks since before the Wilson Family was founded July 23rd, 1994.

My father, Gary Huitink, received his PhD. from the University of Arkansas. I received my Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Arkansas in 1994.

Eric’s father is a UofA graduate, as well as his brother Michael and himself. Eric received his Bachelor of Science in Poultry Science in 1994 as well.

It is in our blood. So it was no surprise when we had our children, while in the middle of Texas where football is King, we taught them the ways of the Razorback.

Their first words were momma, dadda and calling the Hogs. Our memory books and photo archives are full of images of the kids and us in Razorback regalia.

It is a family tradition that we are proud to show.

This fall is like the others. We count down until the first game of the season. We schedule our events, as best we can, around the games or set the DVR.

Every year it becomes more fun to go to games with the kids and this season is no different.

We traveled to Lubbock to see the Hogs defeat Texas Tech, but had to leave EmBug behind due to her musical rehearsals. The entire family missed her like crazy. While there we saw a new side of Kritterman… he has become fully invested in his Razorback team and feels the victory and defeat with deep abiding passion.

A few weeks later we were able to see the Razorbacks expose Texas A&M and almost beat them. The loss was felt by all, but was best expressed by Kritterman in tears of anguish at the end.

Snapshots from Lubbock and AT&T Stadium Arlington

This team built by Bret Bielema is deep and abiding in passion much like Kritterman’s true love for his Razorbacks. They have been built to be men from the inside out. I look forward to the upcoming games this season. We are #Beliemer’s and know that while this team was rebuilt from the ashes, it is being reconstructed on a foundation of strong character and fundamentals. When you #NeverYield you will succeed.

Top 6 Things We Learned on Vacation

This brings an end to the blog series on our Family/Anniversary Vacation to Florida.  There are a few pictures that didn’t make the #wilsongetaway previous blog posts or Flipagrams that I will share here along with 6 things my family and I learned on this trip.

Here are the Top 6:

6. Sharing a bathroom with 4 people when 2 people have their own bathroom at home brings to light all the bad habits. (I will now be intentionally reminding my son often to put the lid BACK DOWN! My mother-in-law instilled that lesson in my husband, I only think it fair to my future daughter-in-law no matter how far in the future that might be!)

5. “We proudly serve Starbucks.” Does not mean it will taste anything like Starbucks, and in some cases the gas station coffee is MUCH better and less expensive.

4.  Send a post card each day to your home residence from the location you spent most of your time for that day highlighting the most memorable moments/events.  Send it the next day (most hotels will mail it from the guest services desk if you provide the postage).  There will be some post cards  waiting on you when you return from your vacation and others will arrive as you return to your ‘normal’ life.  Everyone can enjoy the vacation just a little longer.

4. Blog as you go, then schedule to publish the following week where it posts to your Social Media accounts.  This lets you tell everyone about your vacation adventures without letting the opportunistic burglar know you are away from the house.

5. Keep your expectations low.  If you expect great things and the situation doesn’t live up to it, you could unexpectedly rob yourself of joy you were intended to have but let unsubstantiated high expectations get in the way.  (This one was compliments of Embug.)

6. Teach your children that “hole-in-the-wall” eateries are often the best way to taste the local flavor and have the best food.  Our kids learned this lesson time and time again while we were on our #wilsongetaway.   It will be one they won’t forget!

I hope you enjoyed this little blog series tracking our #wilsongetaway vacation.  We aren’t sure when our next getaway will be, but this one will linger in our memories for a long time.

It’s a REAL Beach!

We woke early at Hawk’s Cay ready to head up through the Everglades and along the west Florida coast to Marco Island.  Call it dumb luck, exhaustion at the end of an exciting and amazing trip, or just smart.  Whatever you want to call it, my family will probably call this leg of the trip their favorite.

Since the moment we stepped on the plane on this adventure the kids have been talking about the time on the beach.  The Space Coast we only had time for the Kennedy Space Center.  The Everglades… NOBODY gets in that water, unless they want to be alligator dinner.  Then there were the Keys.  Beautiful, colorful, seabreeze… but no real sandy beaches.  So came the term by my 11 year old while at Hawk’s Cay… “Faux Beach.”

We arrived in Marco Island at Noon.  My husband was already sold.  After driving the two-lane Scenic Highway 1, he was done with traffic and there was none…. HONEST!  We came in from the Everglades so the kids didn’t see the coast until we went  over a tall bridge welcoming you onto the island.  There was many exclamations of joy and excitement… over and over again, “Real  Beach, lots of it! Real sand!”

Unfortunately we wouldn’t gain access to the beach until after we checked into our hotel…and at noon, that was too early.  Seeing that it was noon, and knowing we all were hungry I turned to my trusty “UrbanSpoon” app once again.  This time it led us to a VERY local sandwich shop called “Big Al’s.”  It was so local that the cashier knew the name of everyone who came in and left… except us.  The sandwiches were awesome.  I have never seen meatballs so big or so yummy on a meatball sub before (I stole a bite from Kritterman).

After lunch the kids couldn’t stand it anymore, so we decided to take a chance and see if our room was available for early check in.  Off to the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort and Spa we went, hopeful we would be beach side within the hour.

Luck was on our side.  We were on the beach in no time, reserved an hour of family fun on a jet ski and played, sunned and relaxed beach side.  Aside from the hour on the jet skis the kids spent hours beach-combing and building sandcastles.  I finished a book I started mid-trip (Legend by Marie Lu) and Eric enjoyed the lack of crowds and the opportunity to just sit.

After 5+ hours of beach relaxation we cleaned up, went back to the beach to catch the sunset and then enjoyed our only “Seafood Buffet” of the trip (the Hilton does an incredible Seafood Buffet).

On Saturday morning, all but Kritterman  arose to catch the sunrise on the beach and gather a few more sea shells.  We also got to see a scientist examine a recently hatched sea-turtle nest and learn a little bit about her job. While eating breakfast a storm rolled in and persisted the remainder of the morning.  We longed for a little more time on the beach and will definitely return to Marco Island again.

This #wilsongetaway has been a home-planned event that won’t soon be forgotten.  So glad we saw so much… can’t wait to return to some of the same spots again.

20 Years, 2 kids, 2 dogs, 1 cat, 2 snakes and 1 fish

On July 23rd, 1994, 20 years ago, Eric and I for better or worse said I do.  Since then we have had a revolving door of pets and friends reside with us.  However, lately we are keeping to our 11 year old daughter, Embug, 9 year old, Kristopher in regards to additional humans in the house.  The animals far out number the humans with a boxer named Sammy, a Bichon Frise named Izzie, a very onry orange tabby named Ralphie, 2 snakes (Marty, Jr. and Bosco) and beta fish named Rainbow.  So it is no wonder we needed a get away!

Long before we planned the destination for our 20th anniversary, we decided we would make it a family vacation.  With that we agreed that a portion of the trip would allow us to enjoy time together and some just as a couple.  The Hawk’s Cay Resort in Duck Key provided just the place.  We arrived as the sun slipped below the horizon on July 22nd where we enjoyed a meal outside near the channel.  It was a few hours after a rainstorm had come through and cooled the air  making for a pleasant outdoor family meal.

The while the family slept I slipped out for a run.  I will say humidity and warmth are not my friend.  After 2 miles I unlaced my running shoes and traded them for a day poolside.  We enjoyed spending the day going back and forth from the pool and a man-made lagoon/beach.  The kids enjoyed water games and discovering resident anoles and iguanas who would occasionally make an appearance.

We were staying in a villa that was away from the actual hotel.  It provided us with a condo like living space complete with two separate bedrooms (and two separate twin beds for the kids), front and back porches both upstairs and downstairs.  Breakfast and lunch we utilized a limited grocery within the marina for coffee, breakfast biscuits and sandwich makings.  Dinner the first night the kids ate at the villa while we enjoyed an anniversary outing.  The outing included a sunset cruise and then dinner at “Hawk’s Cay” fine dining restaurant “Alma.”  It was a nice evening for just the two of us to celebrate.

The next day we spent it once again at the pool and lagoon.  Although there is no pictures the kids and Eric enjoyed messing around with a Kayak.  Eric is still feeling the enjoyment of that excursion in his lower back.

Here are a few more images from our stay.

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