Reflecting at Year’s End

With the holidays fast arriving, I have been thinking back on this past year with some amazement. Ali’s Christmas letter always runs down the best hits and reading it before she began sending out cards spurred the thinking.

I suppose it is sign of age, but it does seem like this year went faster than normal. Of course the calendar year does run at odds with the academic year which might also have something to do with it. Being a teacher, the beginning of school through Christmas often seems a bit of a blur. Also, this was a World Cup year, which, for me, has always seemed to make the end of the school year longer than it should be with three first-round matches a day during school’s final weeks and then the summer shorter as the matches run into early July. Regardless, time does seem to be speeding up on me or it could just be that my son is now speeding up on me, making everything else seem to be moving faster. I also keep noticing a lot more gray hair when I get a haircut. That might be contributing too.

I have definitely seemed to travel more this year than normal. With various Writing Project activities, I have been all over Massachusetts and Connecticut. I spent some time up the Hudson from New York City, as well as a recent trip to Orlando. Apart from that, we all took a trip back home to Chicago so Ali and I could attend our twentieth high school reunion. I suppose it is at this point where anyone starts to feel a little bit older. As the impending reunion came more into sight a few years ago, I did have to force myself to simply stop thinking that I wasn’t in high school that long ago, let alone saying something like that to my students. I mean, how ridiculous would that have sounded. I had been out of high school longer than any of them had even been alive!

I realized that I hadn’t really mentioned a lot about this year finally seeing my first piece actually published in a real book that anyone could buy in a store or online. It is a funny thing seeing your writing printed in what most people see as legitimate publication. There is a definite sense of accomplishment. I didn’t mention it as much once the book was finally available, probably because it seemed like it took an eternity. Still, it was cool to receive a small check for writing and a couple of free copies of the text this fall. I even had an acquaintance discover the book and my piece all on their own. It was a truly pleasant surprise when he congratulated me out of the blue and had a copy of the book with him. It was the first time I had seen the actual thing.

Overall, getting something published like that was a great feeling I only wish that they would have got the spelling of my last name right. Seeing my my last name misspelled has become a pretty commonplace experience in my life. Apart from the sound not readily giving the spelling away, I am convinced that the proximity of the “A” and “S” keys on a keyboard further increase the chance of error. Still seeing it misspelled in print gave the goof a kind of permanence that is a bit disheartening. I guess I will just have to write enough more material to make sure that no one is confused about who I am or how you spell my name.

Photo: Kids with Santa

The Santa Scare

Apart from all that, Christmas is just around the corner. It is really time to put up the tree, since we’ve been running a little late on that, and the house will soon smell like cookies, lots of cookies. That smell alone makes me happy, and I am fairly certain the kids are rather fond of it too. This year marked the first real chance for the two of them to get their picture with Santa, always a dangerous proposition with the the young ones. For Fritz terror clearly is now officially part of the Christmas experience. Amazing to me is that my bashful daughter is in the picture at all, since as she puts it, “I am not always talkable to mans and ladies.” Nevertheless, it will prove to be a vintage shot.

So here’s hoping for  Happy Holidays to all.

Happy Thanksgiving to All

Wow. What a busy month since the last post. The timing of the last update was ever so close to Halloween, so the delay in these pictures is unfortunate. Nevertheless, this year was quite a blast . Hadley could walk around in her costumes and hold out her basket. It was all quite cute. I say costumes because just as last year, she had more than one as last. She was both a bee and a monkey, as the pictures attest.

A Baby Bee   Happy Monkey

I love leaves!   Seriously, I love leaves

Also in the interim, we packed up the car and dragged Keri along west to Williamsport, PA to visit the lovely Great Aunt Ede. It is always a treat to see her and since we were not going to be passing through this year on the way to Chicago, we tried to make a special stop just to see her. So many Scrabble games were played and her spirits seemed lifted. While there, we also got the chance to meet another relative, Great Uncle Frank and Great Aunt Pam. Since they lived in Hawaii for so long and only moved back to the mainland in the last few years, this was the first time that the girls got to meet this particular branch of the Little clan. Having lunch with them made the trip all the more enjoyable. If only we could cut the drive down things would have been even better.

Ede and family   Frank and Pam

Been Swimming   Happy Pigtails

Crouching   This Big!

I recently spent a few days in San Antonio for a work related conference. While the weather was cool or a bit dreary most of the time, I got to spend a little time with Ali’s Aunt Joey while there. The conference was great, but kept me pretty busy the whole time. It was long time to be away from my girls too. Fortunately, I did get the chance to see a few sites the morning I was preparing to leave, just not as many as I would have liked, however.

Alamo   San Jose Mission (front)

San Jose Mission (side)   San Antonio Riverwalk

That brings us up to Turkey Day, and I hope everyone has a good one.

Lost in Leaves

Happy Holidays Hadley Days!

With the holidays finally coming to a real close, it is time to recap our annual trek back home to the Pride of the Prairie. This year, of course, was the first year we had an infant in tow, which provided surprisingly little challenge. Hadley was never the problem on the trip in either direction. More than anything, I was the problem, if you could imagine!

Hadley with Bunny
Hadley with Bunny
Originally uploaded by fritzwinkle

Coming off a week of feeling progressively worse at work, Friday evening brought an even more daunting feeling of illness, not to mention the fact that the multiple windows of our house began leaking just before we were leaving. So, our departure was delayed, I got even less rest in anticipation of the non-stop drive, and my demeanor was foul to be sure. I was certainly not up for my normal load of miles, leaving the bulk on the shoulders of Ali and Keri. Combine this with the fact that we had to stop more frequently for baby feedings, the drive was taking longer than it ever had when we finally collapsed into an Indiana hotel room late Saturday night. The blessing of this was that immediately after we pulled our necessary gear out of the rental and into the room all the inclement weather we would have faced passed over us while we slept comfortably in beds. Morning came, and we tripped across the rest of northern Indiana, arriving in Chicago late Sunday morning just in time for the Bears beatdown on the surging Packers.

Sleepy Hadley
Sleepy Hadley
Originally uploaded by fritzwinkle

Thus began a week of Happy Hadley Days. No longer were the traditional holidays, like Christmas and New Year’s, fully recognized they were eclipsed by a whole new celbration, Happy Hadley Days. They began before Christmas Eve and carried almost to New Year’s Eve, but we had to leave on the 30th. During this stretch, an outsider would have thought that our child was an Egyptian Pharaoh with all the loot that was piling up for her. We were lucky to stuff everything in the rented minivan for the return trip. Mind you she arrived with the largest suitcase of any of us, as she requires the most attire to fully exhibit the entire pre-Hadley Days gift giving extravaganza. Only Ali and I can fully appreciate and show gratitude for the bounty of gifts for our little daughter has received since her arrival on the globe. So, many thanks to all of you that made the first Hadley Days so stunningly kind.

The only mar on the cavalcade of cheer was that my intense cold began to work its way into our little darling, then Keri, and ultimately Ali, who now is suffering the full bloom. Poor Hadley was in such sad shape we had to harbor her a couple of days away from the outside world, as her little nose and chest crackled with cold and she required ever more sleep than usual. She still hasn’t quite been able to shake it all over a week later, but she has definitely gotten increasingly better with each day. I wish the same could be said for Ali who might not have experienced the full crest of misery before the mend just yet. Plus, a weekend check on Keri showed she has definitely seen healthier days.

Despite the insidious incubation of all these infirmities, we made remarkably great time on the return trip, whereupon we unloaded all Hadley’s booty, which has since taken over the living room of our never-ending work-in-progress home. All in all, it was a notably nice trip to the home front of the Midwest. Hadley coming down with the cold slowed things down just enough that we weren’t racing at breakneck speed to and fro the whole week. So we got to enjoy things in some ways more with the slower speeds, despite all of us travelers being at less than full strength.

So to all, belated Happy Hadley Day well wishes. We look forward to next year’s celebration, when the little sweet pea will be toddling around on wobbly legs and squealing with delight at all the fuss about her, while she rips down Christmas ornaments with fascination.