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Posts Tagged ‘thanksgiving’

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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So it’s Thanksgiving next week. I know I have lots of things to celebrate, so every year I use this space to forgo the usual top 20 and bottom 10 list and instead take the opportunity to list the 30 things I’m most grateful for. I number the list just to show how many there are; with the possible exception of the first item, I’m equally grateful for each and every one of them. For those of you who read this blog regularly, I’m sorry if you see repeats from years past. There are a lot of things that just continually cause me to give thanks!
I hope you all enjoy the things that you give thanks for this year, and I wish you a happy, safe, and wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, wherever and with whomever you celebrate it.

Thanksgiving Top 30

  1. My husband. Being with him is absolutely the best part of my life.
  2. My parents. I’m very glad they’ll be with me this year on Thanksgiving.
  3. My sisters. Sarah, Kellie and Jackie make my life full and rich, and I only wish I could see them more often.
  4. My in-laws. Craig, Rich and Evan have added so much to our family, and I love all of them for being so good to my sisters.
  5. My nieces and nephews. I cannot imagine our family gatherings without the happy energy and absolute delightfulness of Olivia, Jaxon, Sevrin and Ella. We’re so lucky to have them.
  6. My step-kids. I love Carly and Eric and I’m so glad that I’ve been able to share them with their mom.
  7. My in-laws. Jack, Jen, and Joey and their families have always welcomed me into their family with loving arms.
  8. The time I had with the loved ones who are no longer with us. My late grandpa Kelly, aunt Kaye, brother-in-law Jeff, mother-in-law Joan, aunt Ganene, and grandma Eva made my life better, and I feel their influence every day. I hope my readers will indulge me if I add my late, great cat George to this list–I still miss her.
  9. My pets. I’m often mocked for being the Crazy Cat Lady, but Banzai, Oliver, Furbie and even the fish (Rupert) make life happier for me.
  10. Good friends. There are too many of you to list by name, but I’m so grateful that you are a part of my life.
  11. People who make it their mission in life to give help to those in need. You are an inspiration to the rest of us.
  12. Veterans, past and present, of the US Armed Forces, and the families who support them.
  13. freedom and democracy
  14. new experiences
  15. The opportunities I’ve had to see some really amazing places. I’m excited to see more of them.
  16. Coffee. It is literally a lifesaver for chronic insomniacs like me.
  17. my health
  18. My education. I had an amazing secondary education, and I realize every day how lucky I was to have it.
  19. literature
  20. My iPad and iPhone. Seriously. How on earth did I ever live without them?
  21. music
  22. art
  23. GPS technology. I’m severely challenged when it comes to directions, and without the GPS in my car/iPhone/iPad I would never get anywhere.
  24. innovation
  25. Being employed. My job and I have a strained relationship sometimes, but I’m extremely grateful that I have one.
  26. air conditioning in the summer
  27. fireplaces in the winter
  28. life’s essentials (food, water, clean air)
  29. life’s lessons (even the hard ones)
  30. Gin. Do not judge me for this until you’ve sat through a four-hour City Council meeting on a Monday night.

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