Hi Buddy, It is 2014, and you are now FIVE.
It's been a rough few weeks, for some reason. The end of the holidays is always hard for me, and selfishly, I've just been feeling very unfulfilled. I feel like I am trying so hard to follow my passions, though, that I am neglecting you. And that is something I never, ever, ever want to do. So my goals for the New Year are to put you and your dad first, every day. My fulfillment first and foremost should come from the saving grace of Jesus, and then from the enormous blessing of family He has given me. My desire is to be content where I am, because I have you guys.
I've done a terrible job of it today, as I've been in the office allll day, but when we go back to work, I am going to try really hard to manage my time so that you get me before any work gets me. All that being said, this post that I have wanted to write for you was very cathartic, in a way, because I spent most of the time looking back through images from the year. If there is anything that can help me count my blessings, it's seeing through pictures all the wonderful times we've had together this year. Thank you for blessing my year, and my life. You will always be the most important thing to me. I hope I always show you that.
So here we go.
You got your very first playset. And sat outside and watched the entire time they were here putting it together.
You got me a spot in my first gallery show. If you want to read about it when you get older, the story is on here as well.
You got your first bike. Well, actually you got this in 2012 (It was a Christmas present), but the majority of use and practice on it was in 2013. I loved watching you with that little helmet on, cautiously making your way along.
You played team sports for the first time. Soccer. You liked it ok. I don't think you liked it as much as you would come to like baseball, when you played later in the fall, but we are glad you participated! For your first time playing as part of a team, there were no tears, and no meltdowns. That's a great thing, and we were so proud of you!
This is from your first game, I think. The weather was awful! Cold, wet, and windy! But no one seemed to mind except the parents. :)
You spent time in Abilene. This isn't really unique to this year…we are traveling fairly often to see family in various places, but I wanted to include this photo for you, because I think it is one of the last ones we have of you and Grandpa Jack. I was so, so thankful he got the chance to know you. In his last year, sometimes he didn't seem too excited to see us adults. All we wanted to do was check on him, bother him, nag him, etc. :) But when he saw you, his face would always light up. I think he really loved to watch you play.
Unfortunately, you never got a chance to meet any other of your great-grandfathers. They had all passed away before you came along, so this was very, very special to me.
You went to California for the first time. San Francisco, to be more specific. As I'm sure you will know by the time you are reading this, it's a goal of your dad's to visit all 30 major league ballparks. We have visited 10 so far, and you have been with us to all of them! Hopefully we'll get to finish it before you get tired of going with us. I don't think you will though…you seem to love seeing new places. Life is one big party to you. Your lack of fear and your joy in everything is inspiring.
You wore this hat constantly. Uncle Jake bought it for you at his favorite hat maker's flagship store, which we got to visit while we there.
You are quite the little hipster like your uncle.
Who, by the way, was a pretty awesome addition to our vacation. This was the first baseball trip he has been on with us, and I think he really enjoyed it. You were attached at the hip to him the whole time!
You saw seals for the first time, and now do a spot-on impersonation of their barking.
We went to the Giant's game...
...and a game in Oakland.
For some odd reason, you claimed that the personal pan pizza you had at this ballpark was your favorite meal of the trip. We ate lots of yummy food, so none of us understood, but as I mentioned, you find joy in anything and everything, so I am not going to complain!
We rode the ubiquitous trolley, and saw the Golden Gate Bridge. Those were probably my two favorite things we did in San Francisco. I know, your mom is pretty boring, but I just loved the breathtaking views of the bridge, and the trolley was so much fun because you were so excited about it. We even got to experience the changing of the "engine" on the trolley! It's not really an engine, but whatever it is that keeps the trolley moving had to be replaced, and we got to see it all. We were stopped in the middle of one of those steep streets for half an hour while two men replaced it all by hand! Apparantly this has to be done fairly often, and we were just lucky enough to experience it. Very cool.
Here you are at the bridge. You are a daredevil, but the hill below you was not nearly as steep as it appears. I am a big scaredy cat when it comes to your safety, so trust me, you would not have been sitting there had there been any risk involved.
What a view!
And finally, we did try and drive up to see the redwoods, but never really got there. We were on a time schedule and didn't have the time to see the really big trees. We stopped and explored for a couple minutes then had to turn back around. Still was a pretty drive.
We took the opportunity while we were in California to go see one of my favorite bands (who you also love); the Zac Brown Band. They were playing at a festival in Napa Valley, so we drove over for the night.
We ate an amazing meal at the Normal Rose Tavern, and watched the Spurs lose, then headed over to the concert grounds. You partied your tail off, to be sure...spilling not one, not two, but three of your Uncle Jacob's beers with your dancing! It was funny. You and he danced and sang and spun all night. And of course, you had to roll your jeans up too.
So now we're back in Texas. And Texas summers are hot. You did a lot of playing in the sprinklers, and I'm always so delighted to watch you do this. It just drips of summer, and childhood, and simple pleasures. Me and your Uncle Jacob used to love doing this when we were growing up too.
You also startd baseball this fall. It was such a fun, fun time. So much so that I had to do a separate recap of that for you back in the Fall. I do think you learned a lot, more so than you did with soccer, and it seems that you are excited about playing again in the Spring. I can't wait!
As I mentioned before, Grandpa Jack went to heaven this summer, and because his inurnment was to be at Arlignton National Cemetery, we had to wait for that date to be determined before we could actually say goodbye. The service ended up being scheduled for Thanksgiving week, so we got to spend the holiday in our nation's capital. It was an amazing time filled with history, and sightseeing, and of course family... many of which you had never met before. Not only did we get to honor Grandpa Jack, but we got to explore what ended up being one of our favorite cities. It was fitting, really, to get to see and experience so much of our country's history, because a large part of Grandpa Jack's life was spent in service and dedication to it. It was cold, and the air was crisp, and the city was fairly quiet, because of the holiday. It was just perfect. I hope to do a post at some point just about our trip for you, but for now I'll just share a few things.
Here you and Dada are at Mount Vernon, in George Washington's backyard. The most gorgeous backyard EVER. The picture doesn't nearly do it justice. It was FREEZING, but you were a trooper.
George Washington was such an amazing man and leader. I hope you become as interested in history as your dad is.
The day of the service was cold and rainy, but it was beautiful. I am so grateful for how our country honors its veterans.
We spent a lot of time at Uncle Bob's, Grandma's brother. You got to meet his grandkids, your cousins. They were so warm and welcoming to you, and you had an absolutely fabulous time with them.
We went to a church service with Jacob and Rachel at the National Cathedral. Breathtaking.
On Thanksgiving Day, we woke up early and went back to the cemetery. We walked almost the entire thing, and got to see it all on a pretty day. Here is the tree again, with sunshine, and here you are in front of the eternal flame. You were there during the week of the 50th anniversary of JFK's death. Was so crazy to look out and see that iconic strip of road down which the funeral procession took place.
We also collected some leaves from the cemetery, close to Grandpa Jack's resting place. We both had fun doing that. There were sooo many of them!
After the cemetery, we went to the National Mall. I still can't believe it, even as I type, but we walked the entire thing with you, after walking the entire National Cemetery! It wasn't intended…we thought we'd catch the Metro halfway down, but we just kept on trucking. You are such a rockstar.
For being so young, you're pretty good at judging the atmosphere around you, and visiting the Vietnam War Memorial was no exception. This is by far one of the most reverent places I have ever visited, and we made sure to talk with you about it before we walked up. I lagged behind a bit, taking some pictures, and then came upon you like this. I am really not sure what you were doing, or if you even actually comprehended what this was about…you may have even just been tired...but you sure did put a lump in my throat.
This is the Korean War Memorial. You never got to meet your Grandpa Rick (Dada's dad), but he fought in this war.
And this, this is one of my favorite little memories from that day. We were about 1/4 of the way through the National Mall, and you were beginning to get tired...understandably so. There were very few vendors out because it was Thanksgiving day, but we found a cart selling popcorn and gatorade. We bought you this little bag, and continued walking. Dada and Jacob have much longer legs than you, and weren't eating popcorn, so they got a little ahead of us. For the longest time it was just me and you, talking and walking, with you sticking your head in the bag every few seconds to get some popcorn. We fed the birds a little, and may have made the guys wait on us a little too much, but it was fun. I treasure those quiet 20 minutes or so we that walked with the capital at our back and the Washington Monument ahead of us.
You also rode your first zipline this year! It was made for kids, and it was one of the most fun things I've watched you do! Made me laugh so much to see you flying down that wire and then get bounced at the end. You were having the time of your life! There's not a sound I love more than hearing you laugh!
This was all at the tree farm we go to every year to get our Christmas tree, and they always have so many activities for kids. Pop went with us this year, and you had a blast.
Soon after we got our tree, we had a massive winter storm hit! In Texas! When we were in DC, you asked why we couldn't ever have snow. Then this happened! I was so excited for you. It was definitely more icy than powdery, but it was still white outside! We were trapped inside for days…I loved it. You and I did lots of baking and Christmas crafts, and when we did go outside, I didn't think I would ever get you back in! You "skated" on the ice, climbed your frozen-solid playset (with my assistance) and slid down the slide into a pile of ice at the bottom.
You provided some moral support for Dada when he ventured out after the fourth day to try and scrape our driveway.
Lastly, sweet boy, you had another grandparent go to heaven. Dada's mom, Grandma P, went to be with Jesus right before Christmas. I hope you always remember how much she loved and adored you…she thought you hung the moon. Dada was gone for a few days before we were able to go up to Oklahoma, and while he was gone, I let you sleep in our big bed. You took up the whole thing, somehow, but I sure did love watching you sleep. As I love watching you do just about everything.
It's strange to sum up a whole year in a few pictures, because really, every moment with you is precious. But I hope someday, when you are old enough to read this, that these photos bring back good memories for you. Happy 2014, Ian. You make the years WAY more fun.
Love you to the moon and back,