Look whose book has just been picked as the Great Read of Texas for 2016! “Wish Girl” will be the state’s featured book at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. this week.
I made it in time for Christmas this year! Click here to read our annual family news update.
I’m typing this from Heathrow Airport on my way back to Austin after a lovely week in Scotland to celebrate my Dad’s 80th birthday. The week involved three parties, lots of catching up, visits with old friends and quite a lot of coffee drinking and shortbread eating. It was wonderful to see so many folks I’ve not seen in up to 20 years and also to have some more time with my British nephew and nieces.
Prior to my arrival, friends had organised a surprise party on the Saturday before Dad’s birthday. The surprises continued on Tuesday, his actual birthday, when I arrived, unannounced, at his front door and joined him and friends for his “official” birthday lunch at Ristorante La Vigna, our by-now-traditional venue for all major celebrations held in Lanark. On Saturday, brothers Ian and Alastair, along with their families, flew in for another lunch, this time at the Shieldhall Hotel near Biggar where we spent a very leisurely afternoon eating, drinking and making merry in the lovely country hotel.
I didn’t take too many pictures this week, but here are a few I did grab during the festivities.
Tonight, Drew was awarded the “Arrow of Light” – the top achievement that you can earn as a Cub Scout in the USA. It doesn’t seem any time since I took Cameron to his first Tiger Cubs meeting 7 years ago. Since then, I’ve been a clueless hanger-on, an assistant Den Leader, a Den Leader and back to a mere cub parent. I saw Cameron and his den through their Arrow of Light a couple of years ago and now Drew has followed. Thinking back, it’s really scary just how quickly this chapter of our family life has flown by. Cub Scouts may be behind us, but I’m sure there are plenty of new adventures awaiting both Drew and me as he moves on to life as a fully fledged Boy Scout in a couple of weeks.
Thursday night is baseball night for my youngest so I’ve been having some fun recently playing with my new Fuji X20 at the games. Here are a few of my favourites from the last couple of Thursdays. I shot in black and white then did final processing in Lightroom. I’m absolutely loving this camera so far – it focuses quickly, has controls positioned very nicely indeed and takes very clean pictures even at high ISO settings.
Yes, I’m running a bit late this year but I’ve finally finished the family newsletter for 2012. Whereas in previous years, I’ve written this as a standalone page over on webartz.com, I decided it would be better added to the blog so that I could take advantage of WordPress image galleries. You can find it here.
As many of you know, my wife, when she’s not writing children’s books, leads a double life as a Zumba fitness instructor at the Town Lake YMCA in Austin. One of her class members works at the world headquarters of Whole Foods Market (which, as an aside, is probably the most amazing supermarket you will ever find anywhere) and she was recently asked to put together a flash mob in the store to celebrate the Austin City Limits music festival that was going on last weekend. All the store staff were taught the dance and many of Nikki’s Zumba class members came along to beef up the numbers. At 4:30 on Saturday, this is what you would have seen had you been doing your weekly shopping at the Lamar Whole Foods store.
Update 10/15/12: The flash mob made it into an article on Huffington Post today. Fame or what?
No – I didn’t suffer a terrible accident that kept me away from the blog for a couple of months! Things in the Wilson/Loftin household have been phenomenally busy over the summer and this blog suffered as a result. Hopefully, you’ll forgive me when I show you what we’ve been up to.
As you will probably know, Nikki is a writer and her first children’s novel was published last Tuesday. As a debut author, there’s a ton of work you need to do to publicise your book and we’ve been doing it. Aside from design of a bunch of handouts (business cards, postcards and bookmarks), we also had to put together a book trailer. Since neither of us is a video expert, we decided on a still-based format which involved lots of portraits of kids eating various forms of evil candies, cakes and goodies. Two weeks of shooting, during which our front room was transformed into a photographic studio, followed by two weeks of editing and we ended up with the following little video.
Due to time constraints, we couldn’t include all the best pictures we shot in the final video so, to ensure that all the kids who came along and sat in front of my camera could see themselves at the official launch party (last Saturday at Book People in downtown Austin), I put together a simple slideshow which cycled through all the picks from the 500 or so individual portraits that we shot for the trailer.
Let us know what you think and, if you have an 8 – 12 year old child who likes scary stories, pass on the word about “The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy!”
… I drove to First Presbyterian Church in my old Miata (with the top down, of course), with my mate Steve Graham all the way from Scotland beside me, and married Nikki. It’s amazing to think how fast those 15 years have gone by and how much has happened – some good (the arrivals of Cameron and Drew, for example), some bad (the departures of my mum and Chas, for example). On balance, however, the last decade and a half has been spectacular and I’m so glad Nikki agreed to be the special person sharing it with me. Asking her to marry me was definitely the best decision I have ever made and having her accept was even better.
In celebration of our anniversary, here’s a portrait I grabbed last weekend during our trip to Fredericksburg (where, not-coincidentally, we spent a couple of days on a mini-honeymoon right after we were married).
I’ve spent too much time bragging about myself recently so now it’s time to brag about one of my kids. This week, Drew learned that he got an “Award of Excellence” in the state-wide Texas PTA Reflections competition in the musical composition category. This is, apparently, equivalent to second place which, given that this was the very first song he’s ever written, strikes me as a pretty significant result. Way to go, Drew!
He wrote and composed his song, “Everybody’s Different”, then performed it complete with ukulele accompaniment. The song is great but I bet the judges were swayed by the Elvis-style flourish at the very end 🙂