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The Bahama Mama Rum Shack in St Croix

The Bahama Mama Rum Shack in St Croix

Holy Mackerel! It’s been almost an entire year since I posted a top 20/bottom 10 list. I thought I should do one just so you all know that I’ve not fallen off Planet Earth. I’ve traveled to a lot places on it this past year, but I didn’t quite fall off. This past year has been amazing. I could write a long novel about it (maybe I should!) but I’ll just give you the super condensed Reader’s Digest version here so you’ll know what I’ve been up to since January of last year. Just the highlights.

Jaxon and Ella and me, at the duck pond in Huntsville

Jaxon and Ella and me, at the duck pond in Huntsville

In February my niece Ella celebrated her third birthday at the Houston Zoo, and I got to do that with her. I actually got to hang out with Ella and her brother Jaxon throughtout the year, and it was awesome. In March I presented at the Community Development Institute at Lonestar College. In April I had lunch meetings almost every single day, preparing for the launch of a new organization I co-founded in partnership with the Center for Rural Studies that we called the Central East Texas Alliance.


Jackson Square in New Orleans

Jackson Square in New Orleans

We launched the Central East Texas Alliance in May.  Also in May we took Jamey’s dad to the ZMR Music Awards show in New Orleans, where Jamey got to present one of the awards, I got to wear a pretty dress, and we all got to eat amazing food and drink mojitos. In June I had my wisdom teeth pulled. A lot of other things happened that month: I got in minor but annoying a car wreck, went to conferences in San Antonio and Waco, hosted the first CETA event in Coldspring, and made several presentations.  But I was too drugged out on painkillers for most of the month to take notice of anything else.


ALASKA!!

ALASKA!!

In July we took a Holland America cruise with a huge group of extended family members to beautiful, majestic, awe-inspiring Alaska. It was amazing. We also welcomed a new cat to our household. We named him Olaf after the snowman in the film Frozen. In August, at a routine eye exam, I learned that there was a hole in my retina. So I had to have surgery again, and it was not fun. We also hosted the first Focus Series for the Central East Texas Alliance.  In September Jamey and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary.


Sarah at the Texas State Fair

Sarah at the Texas State Fair

In October all of my sisters and my parents came to Texas and we went to the Texas State Fair in Dallas. It was loud, hot, and very crowded but we all agreed it was something they needed to see. In November I worked at the polls on Election Day–we only had 65 people show up the entire day, which was pretty sad. But it was a good experience. Also in November we celebrated Thanksgiving with my family in Albuquerque–all of my sisters and their families were there and it was so nice to hang out with all of them for a few days. The day after Thanksgiving we visited the Sandia Peak Tramway and saw the City from the height of 10,378 feet. It was pretty spectacular.


One of my favorite pictures from St. Barth's

One of my favorite pictures from St. Barth’s

In December Jamey and I wrapped up the year with another cruise, this time on Celebrity Cruise Lines, to the Eastern Caribbean. Our stops included Haiti, Puerto Rico, St. Croix, St. Barth’s, and St. Maarten. All of the port were stunning and we had a fantastic time at each one. We stayed in Ft. Lauderdale for a couple of days afterwards and flew home on Christmas day. It was a great way to end an exciting and sometimes turbulent year.


Now that you’re all caught up we can move on to the lists, which include some of my favorite (and least favorite) things from this past year’s adventures.

top 20

  1. Me with Kellie and Rich in Alaska

    Me with Kellie and Rich in Alaska

    My sister Kellie, her husband, Rich and my fantastic niece and nephew Ella and Jaxon. They’re moving back to California soon, and I have so enjoyed knowing them better this past year while they lived here in the Houston area. We will miss them so much!

  2. reliving our travels through photographs and videos
  3. experiencing the insane beauty of the glaciers and the fjords, both from the balcony of our cabin and from the air, courtesy of Taquan Air Alaska
  4. seeing whales up close and personal
  5. getting to share the Alaska experience with so many members of my family
  6. traveling all the way around the island of St. Maarten/St. Martin on a four-wheeler with Jamey
  7. touring the Cruzan Rum factory in St. Croix
  8. driving to Key West from Ft Lauderdale in a Mustang convertible on a whim
  9. Starting a new organization from the ground up. It’s been a gratifying experience
  10. Paying with ApplePay
  11. Olaf the Cat, when he’s being nice. He has learned how to fetch like a puppy and it’s ridiculously cute.
  12. Discount Tuesday at the Cinemark movie complex
  13. free popcorn
  14. Jamey, for driving me everywhere I go. I hate driving alone, and it’s so nice to have his company.
  15. the return of sunshine–it’s been missing for the past three weeks
  16. homemade limoncello
  17. Rediscovering The West Wing on Netflix. I’m not sure if today’s television viewing audience could handle the themes in that show, which says a lot.
  18. Benedict Cumberbatch
  19. talking to my family on FaceTime
  20. exploring new horizons

bottom 10

  1. He doesn't look like a terrorist. But he is.

    Olaf the Cat. He doesn’t look like a terrorist. But he definitely has those tendencies.

    Olaf the Cat, when he’s being not so nice. He has sharp claws and occasional terrorist tendencies.

  2. insomnia
  3. surgery in general, but especially on my teeth and eyes
  4. the fact that my house does not clean itself
  5. Missing two of my sisters on our Alaska cruise. Jackie and Sarah weren’t able to come with us, and our experience was the lesser for it.
  6. gloomy weather
  7. having to start over involuntarily
  8. Throwing out my back. I’ve done it twice in the past two months and it is horrible.
  9. Being allergic to something in our cabin on Celebrity Cruise lines. It was pretty much the only thing not fantastic about that trip.
  10. being on the short end of someone else’s bad Karma
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Geez, have I really not been here since Thanksgiving? Sorry about that. It was a crazy, crazy holiday season, and I was horribly sick for most of it, but overall it was all good. Especially the Bahamas part and the part about hanging out with my family. Let me elaborate:

Jamey and my Mom, kayaking on Armand Bayou

Thanksgiving was great–my parents and Jamey’s daughter came and we had a wonderful time gorging ourselves on delicious food, shopping (me, Carly and Mom), watching football (Jamey and Dad) and kayaking (all of us). It was so good to see my parents and Carly, and I was so glad they were all able to make it. I hope they come again soon.

The weekend after Thanksgiving we went on a cruise to the Bahamas and spent a couple of days playing in Orlando. The Bahamas were ridiculously beautiful–Jamey hasn’t posted his photos online yet, but I’ll post a link to them when they’re up. We got to interact with the dolphins on Blue Lagoon Island, took hundreds of stunning beach photos, drank lots of mojitos and I won a second-place medal in the ship-board Jeopardy game. We ate tons of delicious food in Orlando, and visited THREE Disney parks in one day, a record for us! All-in-all it was a magnificent vacation, and we enjoyed every second of it.

The weekend after our Bahamas trip we went to Dallas to be with Jamey’s cousins as they said goodbye to their father, Joe Harrison. Funerals are always sad, but they’re also a great time to get together with family, and I enjoyed being with Jamey’s family as I always do.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

When we got back from Dallas I came down with a raging case of bronchitis and a horrible cold all rolled into one sneezing, coughing, nasty mess of an illness. I spent that week trying to drown it in orange juice and cough medicine before we left for Albuquerque to enjoy the holidays with the Ford Clan, but to no avail–I was sick the ENTIRE weekend, and halfway through Jamey ended with a cold as well. We were a lovely pair. Despite that, I had a great time seeing all of my sisters in one place, and thoroughly enjoyed my nieces and nephews. We shopped and wrapped and ate and shopped and played video games and shopped and then we shopped some more. I think we were even shopping on Christmas day, because some drug store had the good sense to stay open, knowing that we’d patronize them. My mom and my sisters made awesome meals, we played lots of games and had a great time watching all of the kids open their presents. I was either drugged to the gills or hacking up my lungs the entire time, but I had a good time anyway and I’m so glad we went.

We spent New Year’s at home, recovering from our sicknesses and saying a happy farewell to 2011. It was not a kind year to us in many ways, and we were really happy to toast to a new year filled with promise and happiness. We got Jamey a new car to drive to his new job in Huntsville (that’s a 90-minute drive, for those of you not acquainted with Texas geography) that he started on Monday. So far he loves it, and I’m really happy that he’s finally in a place that will appreciate his myriad talents and put him to work!

So that brings us to now, and a brand new set of lists for the new year. May 2012 bring you all of the things you’ve hoped for, as well as much happiness and good luck. Cheers!

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top 20

  1. saying hello to 2012
  2. New year, new car, and new job for Jamey

    Jamey’s brand new Honda CRZ (he gets 50 miles to the gallon on the freeway!)

  3. peach bellinis
  4. watching my nieces and nephews open their Christmas packages
  5. hanging out with my sisters
  6. getting a new mug from Kellie to replace the one I broke a few months ago
  7. The Bahamas. Beautiful, beautiful islands and people.
  8. Cafe Tu Tu Tango, an amazing Tapas restaurant in Orlando
  9. AMC Downtown Disney, the movie theater/restaurant in Downtown Disney
  10. hanging out with dolphins
  11. the return of The Daily Show after a holiday hiatus
  12. The Myth Busters “Behind the Myths” tour. I’m super excited about this because I am a nerd.
  13. staying at Jackie and Evan’s house
  14. Jackie and Evan’s dog, Morty. He’s awesome.
  15. everyone saying “Happy New Year” for the first week back at work
  16. Being told that I have good credit. You have no idea how long it’s been since I’ve heard that.
  17. wood floors
  18. www.dropsend.com. It’s a fantastic service for transferring large files, and it’s free!
  19. Apple TV
  20. The film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It was just as good as the book.

bottom 10

  1. being sick at Christmas
  2. not being able to stop coughing, even after two weeks
  3. passing along my nasty cold to my sister
  4. going back to work
  5. not having Jamey there in the morning to make me coffee because he has to leave before dawn to get to his new job
  6. irrationality
  7. The process of getting a government sales tax exemption at Fry’s. I’ve filled out the same exact same form three times.
  8. being too tired to exercise
  9. the travails of public servitude
  10. medicine overload

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