Another year has flown by and it’s time for us to try to summarise it in just a couple of pages. 2015 has been a very full year so we hope you’ll excuse us if this missive runs a bit longer than usual!
In keeping with etiquette, let’s follow the “Ladies First” rule. Nikki’s third book, “Wish Girl“, hit the shelves in February and has been doing well as far as we can tell. So far, it’s been translated into Spanish, Portuguese and Italian and there are Chinese, Japanese and French versions in the works too. Her earlier books are also still performing with “The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy” making it onto a major school reading list in Oklahoma and “Nightingale’s Nest” winning both the Writers’ League of Texas award for best middle grade book of 2014 and the prestigious Texas Institute of Letters 2015 award for Best Children’s Book. She has made many school visits in Oklahoma City, Norman, Edmond and Tulsa this year and it’s fair to say that she’s now world famous (in Oklahoma at least). She was also invited to speak at several conferences including the National Council of Teachers of English conference in Minneapolis and the Texas Book Festival, and had a scary story included in the latest edition in the popular “Guys Read” series, “Guys Read: Terrifying Tales“.
18 months in, Dave is still thoroughly enjoying working for Apple in Austin. Outside work, he’s still very active in local photography circles and has continued volunteering as a photo shuttle driver at Circuit of the Americas, getting him close to the action at some world-class races including MotoGP and the United States Grand Prix. In June, he visited Seattle and the Palouse region of Washington on a now-annual photo trip with a bunch of buddies from around the country and came home with plenty of pictures to keep his daily photoblog happy for several months. Other photographic highlights included being commissioned to produce all the art for a newly-renovated library in Austin and producing a magazine feature on Jesse James (yes, he of “Monster Garage” fame) for American Shooting Journal. Locally, he spends a great deal of time acting as one of the photographers for the high school band and also mentors a group of kids from the local 4-H club.
Cameron is now a sophomore at high school and is deeply involved with band. Dripping Springs Tiger Band made it all the way to the state marching band finals this year and performed in the Alamodome in San Antonio where they placed 6th. Five of the top 6 bands in the competition were from our local Austin area! Being in band is a huge committment with summer band camp, months of early morning and evening rehearsals, weekly football game performances and many competitions to attend but it’s fantastic to see what an amazing job the kids do and how wonderful the final show ends up! Outside band, he has also become very interested in glass art and has taken classes on glass blowing, fusing and stained glass in the last few months. The next major milestone for Cameron is his driving test, scheduled for December 31st. He’s been taking drivers’ education at school this year and driving lessons in Dripping Springs but please keep your fingers crossed for him!
Drew is in 7th grade at middle school and has his fingers in many pies. He is involved in band where he plays saxophone and managed to audition into not just the district band but also the region band despite being up against many 8th graders. Apparently this puts him in the top 8 or 10 middle school sax players out of the 500 or so auditioning! He is still very active in the local 4-H club where he showed a goat, two pens of rabbits and a large number of photographs in the Hays County Show back in January. His rabbits placed high enough that he got into the auction and “sold” them to a local bidder.
Another major event occurred for Drew in November after he was cast in the main role of Troy Bolton, in the middle school production of “High School Musical Jr.” All the rehearsal paid off and the show was a huge success! As if all that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, he is also continuing his Tae Kwon Do and has climbed to purple belt this year, and has just joined the school mountain biking club.
As a family, we’ve made several trips this year. Our main summer trip took us to Seattle, Vancouver Island and Olympic National Park. We had a lovely two weeks of hiking, fishing (we caught a couple of salmon!), enjoying the cool Pacific North-West weather, catching up with some old friends and eating well. It was a wonderfully relaxing time and we all fell in love with Vancouver Island and its beautiful forests and scenery.
Late in the year, we decided to make a last-minute booking to spend Thanksgiving week in Cozumel, Mexico. It had been 15 years since Nikki and Dave last scuba-dived but, with both boys now old enough to try it, we decided it was time to give it a try. After a day’s introduction class for the boys and a 1 day refresher class for the parents, we all went diving and had an amazing time including an extended encounter with a 6 foot nurse shark and swimming out over the edge of a 1500 foot vertical undersea wall. Given the boy’s enthusiasm and the fact that Cozumel is easy to get to and not particularly expensive, I suspect this trip may become a regular fixture in our calendar!
As another fun-filled year draws to a close, it remains only to wish all our friends and family very best wishes for a great 2016! Please keep in touch (we’re all on Facebook!) and let us know how things are going for you.
Some family highlight photos from 2015 (in no particular order). Click the thumbnail for a larger version.