We pride ourselves in burning the candles at both ends and in cramming a lot of living into every year. Sometimes it feels a little out of control, but there are occasional moments of quiet contemplation squeezed in there somewhere. So while Congress postures, procrastinates and prevaricates, we are going to get this job done and tell you the whole truth about our year (some facts might be embellished in the name of telling a good story.) For those that have been following for a while, we are still working to create our own Utopia here in the hills of Texas. Are we getting closer? Come join the craziness and judge for yourself. We can all put our hands in the air and jump off a cliff together. Here we go!
Sixteen-year-old Cheyenne decided not to follow her sister to the Amanda Bynes School of Driving and passed her first year behind the wheel almost incident-free. Swimming, sleeping, school, scuba, skiing, and eating comprise her life. Her legendary, swim-fueled appetite is the subject of an upcoming short film. A Flynn effect proof point, she is on pace to break Charisse’s high school records in Academic Decathlon. Ask her anything. Cheyenne’s low single-digit class rank – she will not allow us to reveal the number – is a source of both pride and angst. She spent enough time at Georgia Tech over the summer to conclude that Sherman had the right idea about Atlanta. Her eyes are now on the western horizon as she contemplates college choices. She is excited about her upcoming class trip to St. Petersburg – the one in Russia.
Charisse continues to ride the Green Wave where she switched from studying third wave feminism to the equally employable fields of English and economics. Her fall back career plan is to be a zip-line guide in some tropical paradise. You can hear Charisse as “DJ Peach Passion” on WTUL New Orleans at 91.5 on your FM dial where she spins the “hits” of bands you have never heard of. Her summer in Boerne reinforced her love of NOLA and we do not expect to see her back home much more. That gives us the excuse we need to go to Jazz Fest, Mardi Gras, our favorite restaurants, and Tulane football games. In November, we paid real money to watch Rice beat them in the Smart Kid’s Super Bowl. Like the rest of Charisse’s exuberant fans, we keep up with her through her constant updates on Twitter and Facebook. She is super fabulous.
Big little brother Jacob is a competitive swimmer, casual tennis player, X-Box enthusiast, and our resident Coke addict. In the real world he does not have to deal with attacks from monsters, falls, drowning, falling into lava, suffocation, starvation, or other Minecraft risks. He is a survivor. His occasional “Asian F” (otherwise known as an A-) requires constant vigilance to ensure the family’s reputation remains intact. There are at least three women in their twenties that use 15-year-old Jacob as the benchmark standard for dates while they wait for him to turn eighteen. He got his fill of adventure this summer on a fishing trip to Kodiak Island with his father and grandfather. His summary of the trip, “Paw-Paw can’t hang.” Jacob continues to protest his required attendance at musicals. He is waiting for “Call of Duty” to come to Broadway.
Jensen graduated with his master’s degree from the University of Houston and has promised us a “grand” surprise in the spring. Big changes are coming for him on all fronts as he looks to put his degree to work in a new career. We are hoping he can put his advanced psychology education to good use analyzing our “lab” experiment, Tyson. The old dog is clearly insane. He combines chronic depression with cyclothymia, short-term memory loss, agoraphobia, & other social disorders. Caring for him is good training for ultimately dealing with aging parents. Mom?
Retired taxi driver, Richele, has no trouble filling her days with one exercise class or another. The fitness queen of Cordillera Ranch is now threatening to remove even more good stuff from our daily diets in the year ahead. We are afraid that we will soon be eating nothing but cabbage soup and celery on the “free” diet; fat-free, sugar-free, sodium-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, calorie-free, and taste-free. I am pretty sure that the kids drive through McDonalds on their way home from swim practice every night. Fortunately, our September trip to Napa Valley turned her on to good red wine, so there is a bit of a Cougar Town feel to the kitchen these days. We are not les misérables after all.
Billy’s schemes and dreams continue to amaze and amuse. After multiple trips to Belize in a failed attempt to buy a resort, he invested in the G2G Collection and is helping launch that business through the Stelos Alliance. His Housley Principled Leadership class at Texas State was oversubscribed both semesters. Kalypso keeps him busy, while his raging midlife crisis drives him to seek adventure. Whether it is heli-skiing in Canada, fighting bears for salmon in Alaska, hiking the Inca Trail, four-wheeling on Lanai, breathing the air at Jazz Fest, or navigating a romance novelist convention in Chicago, he is always on the go. His debate with Richele over the proper placement of Marlin Brando – his mounted marlin – ended in a compromise. He was allowed to put it over the coat racks by the back door. If only the Congress could do as well.
While Billy’s “work” travel takes him all over the place, the whole family got into the fun this year with trips to Telluride, Costa Rica, Punta Cana, New York twice, New Orleans twice, and a wonderful weekend in Cuero, Texas (home of the Turkey Trot and the Fighting Gobblers.) In addition, Billy and Richele snuck away to Belize, Cabo, Napa Valley, Watersound, and Charlotte. Add it all up and you can break into our house just about any time. No wonder the dog has separation anxiety disorder and that this letter is always a couple of weeks late.
So we send another amazing year off with a bang and eagerly await the adventures ahead in our perpetual pursuit of happiness. We are so blessed to have each of you in our lives and sincerely hope that we can spend some quality time together in our evolving utopian experiment. You can find us here on the sunny side of street. As Tramp once said to Lady, “It’s a big world out there. Let’s start building some memories.”