Christmas Orchestra Concert and Talent Show

This time of year seems to be heavy on Embug events. (Lucky for us Kritterman is content with his basketball and Legos.)

christmas orchestra pit 2014

Embug participated in her first Christmas Orchestra Concert. There was huge improvement with the 6th grade orchestras as a whole since their fall performance just 7 weeks earlier. They played a series of ten 30 to 60 second arrangements.

Christmas Orchestra Concert Program

I captured them on video but that will stay in the family archives, as I believe only a parent can appreciate the performance. It was also difficult to capture a shot of her with her bass, as we all know the bass section is always at the back of the orchestra pit. Of course we are proud of our amazing FIRST Chair Bass Player (Yes! First chair!).

Christmas Orchestra concert ImageThe same week as the Christmas Orchestra Concert was the Wilson Middle School Talent Show. Unlike in previous years there were tryouts where not everybody made it. We were very honored when Embug was one of the sixth graders selected.

She was in charge of this project from beginning to end. She selected her song and accompaniment soundtrack… “We Need a Little Christmas,” planned and rehearsed her own choreography, and chose her “flashy” Christmas sweater and metallic leggings (that look flesh colored in the video).

She had two performances on the last day before the holiday break that resulted in her singing in front of the entire student body by the end of the day.  I took her brother out of school for the first performance mid-morning so we could watch her, then returned him to school for his Christmas party.  Eric came for the afternoon performance.

Here is a less than professional recording job, compliments of my iPhone.

Unfortunately, the video also does a poor job of capturing her facial expressions as she sang, which made the song all the more entertaining.

Practically speaking, I should not go and buy expensive recording equipment or cameras to capture all these events, but part of me wonders if I should. Either way, the moment has been captured and this is just enough for me, Eric and Kritterman to remember how it was in person. Pure joy!

Sinterklaus and Ugly Sweaters

There are many traditions that families have during this time of year. Some light an advent candle and have an advent calendar, others visit every holiday show and light display possible throughout the season, and others may do an Elf on the Shelf.

Whatever you do it is something your family looks forward to with anticipation. Some traditions are influenced by your childhood, others are new traditions that have been created as a unique part of your family. There are opinions about all of them and with the explosion of social media and blogs there is no shortage of said opinions. I have come to a point that I don’t pay attention to others’ opinions, but rather, focus on the house where my husband and I create a home for our family.

One tradition, new to me but is part of my ethnic background, is Sinterklaus Day. Sinterklaus is the Dutch Santa or St. Nick.  From what I have learned over the years Dutch culture and tradition separate the visit of Sinterklaus and the birth of Jesus. Sinterklaus Day comes early in the Christmas season while Christ’s birth is observed on the 25th. This white-bearded man, donning a long colorful winter coat, rides in on his horse late in the evening on December 5th. Dutch children leave their wooden shoes on the front porch with goodies for Sinterklaus’ horse in great anticipation. On the morning of December 6th children awake to find goodies such as succulent fruits and sweetbreads if they have been well-behaved; if not they find switches.  The idea of the wooden shoe is believed to have evolved into the American tradition of hanging the stockings.

When my Daughter Embug was born we started celebrating Sinterklaus Day. While we do put out wooden shoes, they are not shoes we wear like the Dutch children. Embug and Kritterman enjoy leaving hay, an apple and carrots for Sinterklaus’ horse. On December 6th Sinterklaus usually leaves each child their Christmas PJs for the season, Christmas ornament, Christmas t-shirt or sweater, a Christmas Movie or CD, plus a variety of yummies and winter stocking caps/mittens. This tradition has become such a part of us that Embug and Kritterman were surprised when they found out from their peers that Sinterklaus did not visit their homes. However, Sinterklaus has made his way to homes of our friends in recent years once those children learned of his practices.

Sinterklaus Day 14

In addition to the tradition of Sinterklaus, the family has been caught square in the web of the Ugly Sweater themed Days and Parties. While there are too many events to recount, one party got Kirsten and Eric caught red-handed in the knitted disasters.

Chrismas Sweater

How are you creating memories and celebrating new and old traditions in your family?

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?

Trick or Treat… Under the Sea

I know the days are numbered when Embug will no longer Trick or Treat for Halloween. Carving pumpkins will be an after-thought. Attending the elementary carnival will be a distant memory.

But this fall we celebrate.  The trip to the Haslet Fall Carnival, costume contest at Fellowship of the Parks Youth Group, carving pumpkins with Dad, and the Lonesome Dove Estates Halloween Hot Dog Roast and Life group Hay ride made this another great Halloween for the books.

The Land-Shark and the Lion-Fish created the perfect under the sea treat for all who encountered them.

Enjoying the moment and hoping that this fast moving journey we call life doesn’t start playing it’s tricks and let these two grow up too fast.

#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.

In Her Element…

I haven’t posted in a while as the beginning of school coupled with Embug’s rigorous middle school musical practice schedule had moved the entire family into survival mode.

Often when parents look at schedules and putting more on the calendar something has to be sacrificed. I was one of those.  However, when Emmarie tried out for the Middle School Musical for our district in May, I had no idea our schedule would be so crazy.

We raise our kids to take their commitments to people and groups seriously. If you say you want to do this, you show up at the beginning, then, when it gets tough, you stick it through. Nobody jumps off of the boat mid-ride.

So when the schedule came out in early August, I knew it was going to be a challenge. I also knew we had made a commitment to this production, volleyball for her, soccer for Kritter and piano lessons for both.

I became a scheduling genius and stepped outside of my comfort zone to ask for help from others.  Eric and I also tag teamed many of the shuttling so that neither child had to back out on their commitments.

Was it worth it? Absolutely.  Embug comes alive on the stage. You can see her soul being fed when she is in character and performing with her cast and for her audience. When you see her… you know, she was made to do this.

The play “Little Mermaid, Jr.” was absolutely incredible.  Every cast member played with such professionalism you would think all the kids did was prepare for this performance. However, all the kids had homework, full days of school, other extra-curricular activities and of course a social life.

Embug learned so many valuable lessons through this experience.  She learned to manage her time with school work, extra-curricular activities, and home responsibilities. She learned how important every role was in a production of this sort and showed gratitude to every cast and crew member. She overcame her feelings of inadequacy when singing in front of people and now will not hesitate to bust out into song in front of anyone, almost anywhere (that particularly makes this momma proud).

There has been so much growth in this time for Embug and our family.  Many would say how can that be when you are so “busy?” But I would say when you know what is best for one family member, all are willing to shift, so that one can shine. And shine she did.  She was “in her element.”

I am glad to have some of my time back, now that the musical practices and production are over, but I am so glad I didn’t allow my fear of not having enough time to keep Embug from this life-changing experience.

Embug’s performance choir is just getting started. Stay tuned as there will be posts coming about those events, too.

11 Things my Mother Taught Me

Mom and I at Tarleton GraduationThis is the last picture of my mother, Mary Lou Huitink, and I together before I became a mother.  I had achieved a huge personal and professional goal… my  Masters Degree in Educational Administration.  I was driven, setting my sights on my next goal and at the same time starting to think about starting a family of my own.  Since that day 13 years ago I have had the privilege of becoming a mother of 2 wonderful children, Embug and Kritter.  In that time I have realized some very important “lessons” my mother taught me but I did not fully realize until I became a parent myself.

There are many more lessons this but these particular ones rise to the top when reflecting on my mother’s “Mom-isms”:

1. Take the time to listen when your children share with you… when you listen with little things they will come to you about the big things.

2.  Provide your children exposure to many creative pursuits, i.e. piano lessons, quilting, crafting, book clubs, baseball, soccer, gymnastics, etc. This exposure may determine their future occupation and/or avocation.

3.  Encourage your children to try again when they fail, and when I mean encourage… strongly push them. In other words, when your children fall off the horse, make them get back on it.

4.  Don’t give them everything they want. Make them earn it.

5.  Lead your children by serving them and your spouse. Stress that they learn to serve one another and those around them.

6.  Model that everyone is deserving of respect and kindness.  Every job, role, person is of value.  Value each person as God does… as His creation.

7.  Let their dreams be their dreams.  Don’t let the hopes and dreams you have or had become their responsibility.  They are uniquely and wonderfully made for God’s purpose, not yours.

8.  Teach, model and practice the art of worship.  Talk about God’s mercy, kindness and unconditional love. Share your favorite hymn or praise song.  Celebrate the stroke of his hand in the sunset, rainbow and beauty of a fresh snowfall with them.

9. Pray with them and for them.

10.  Spend special time with them and only them.  This provides time for them to share their dreams, for you to share specifically why they make you so proud of them, and, most of all, assure them how much you love them.

11.  Laugh with them and teach them to laugh at themselves.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom. Thank you for the wisdom and lessons you have taught me that I have put into practice with my children.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the other mothers and grandmothers that may read this.  Please feel free to post the lessons you have learned from your mother or other mentors that have helped you navigate the job of parenthood.

Honored to be a Mother of 2 wonderful kids and the daughter of an amazing woman,

Kirsten Wilson

Starting a family blog…

Most people have been blogging about their family for years or their journey through a personal challenge.  I, on the other hand, chose to start blogging a year ago about my professional interests or passions.  It’s not that I don’t love my family, but sometimes I think my family tires of my continual posts of them on Facebook.  To blog about my family is like taking Facebook and putting it on steroids.

But what I am finding is that more and more people are becoming busy with their own families, challenges and lives.  Time to pick up a phone and catch up with one another isn’t always doable… especially when you are in two very different time zones.  So this is why I decided to branch out and share the humble, silly, sometimes serious stories of the Wilson Family on Razorback Ranch.

Our family stories are pretty ordinary, but you will see themes.  Themes of love, passion, persistence, faith, Arkansas Razorbacks and celebration.  I love this family that God blessed me with so completely that when tragedy strikes those around me I lose my breath and shudder.  I hope you enjoy the stories that I share and I hope my family forgives me for the transparency with which I tell our tales.Image

The family: Kritterman, Eric, Kirsten and Embug (fall 2013, Spoofers Stone, Old Main Lawn, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas)

~Kirsten (Mama Razorback)

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