December, 2013


Hello Family and Friends –

We hope the holidays have treated you right so far.

Most holiday updates I have written typically rehash all of the good news from the year - so it is tough to start this year's differently.

I received a call in mid-summer from my brother one quiet Saturday … he had devastating news. My sister’s youngest son, Travis, had died. Still can’t really process, even months later. Travis was 17 and about to enter his senior year of high school in Houston. A very talented, intelligent, and compassionate young man. He had a terrible accident at home when alone - a freak seizure (had only had it once before - about a year ago - while at camp), and was found in the family pool.

Travis was the kind of kid I’d be honored to have Elyce and Gavin grow up to be like. He was a stand-out in sports (found this video of him on YouTube at pitching camp), stand-out in academics (Princeton contacted him to consider attending), and our own personal experiences with him over the years where ones we will always appreciate. Our fondest memory was of the prior summer when we traveled to Houston and spent quite a bit of time with him. He was so good with Elyce and Gavin - just being a stand-up cousin to them. He had a very generous soul.

The services were gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, and very stirring as you can imagine. Again, it is still so difficult to process. It was devastating, and continues to weigh on everyone - especially during this season.

I don't know - I guess at this point I try to update you on what else happened this year, but I'm struggling a bit with that, I must admit ...

So, Elyce got braces this year. The ordeal of what started a tough relationship with her teeth and dentists has finally begun taking a very positive turn. The kids both have a great dentist (far from the incompetent one we had a few years back), and no longer fear going. We are very pleased about that.

Seems parenthood is full of so many stresses like this and trials/tribulations that you just have to learn. We are content in finally having that relationship with a local practician. Above, you can see the weekly shifting of her teeth to show just how far her teeth have corrected in just a few months (admittedly not my best animated gif, but you get the picture). At this point, she has the bottoms in braces, too. We should see all metal removed in April of this coming year. I know she is looking forward to that. But best of all, you can see the shine in her eyes when we discuss the progress. That's well worth the spend.

School continues to offer great things for the kids. We have benefited from living in a community that has some of the state's better schools. Elyce and Gavin both excel in school and Tina and I both stay close to their progress. We certainly aren't doting; however, what I love about Tina's Mom Side is her encouragment of their open-ended questions and curiousity of all things. We see eye-to-eye on allowing them to explore ideas, concepts, questions, and technologies. The latter is something Gavin can already amaze people with - over the summer I offered him 100 Stars (it's his reward/allowance system that we track for chores and the like) to write his first Javascript. It was very rudimentary - but he did it. And I have also noticed that he can already type on the keyboard without looking at the keys. I tell people that and they struggle to believe me - I must get that on video, but he is shy about it. Tina and I are hoping he can one day finance our retirement utilizing his love of creating with technology - already very evident at 8.

On the pet front, we got an Ant Farm for Gavin a result of a Christmas gift from last year. The ants died soon after. This theme then grew to the adoption of frogs (now dead - buried in the back yard, with headstones) in an aquarium for Elyce, then four fish for the aquarium (2 died, 2 still going strong), then a dog in June.

A dog was a long-time promise to the kids after years of them begging for so long. The kids did their due diligence in looking for the right breed; which, fell appart one early summer weekend when I took Elyce and Gavin by the local shelter. What immediately struck us with Lucy was that she was the only dog that was not barking. Lucy is a black lab - about a year old. Further, her 'bio' said she was a "snuggler", was potty-trained (BONUS!), and loved riding in cars (haven't really seen that side of her yet - she just curls up on the floor). We test-walked her that day with an attendant - she was very good natured. We put a hold on her, and came back a few days later with Tina.

Lucy come home with us that day.She has been an absolutely incredible dog. We are still discovering tricks she knows (last week we discovered she "Hi-Fives"), and she LOVES to chase tennis balls. We will often go outside and throw balls to the lower part of the property in the back and she will go back and forth until exhaustion. What is so great about her is her disposition as well as her seemingly loyal personality. She will not stray if off leash and has been very patient with the kids' attention. Wallie, our cat, has taken to her (as much as a cat can) - the first few weeks were a little touch-and-go, though - as you can imagine. I do have video of their first meeting ... just haven't had a lot of time to edit/post. Seems that way with a lot of video and pictures this year, though.

Our photo page is pretty scarce for 2013 -- so far, at least. I do have a lot of pics, I just need to get in better discipline of posting. Overall, though, '13 was tough as an extended family. Frankly, I kind of struggled to find anything overall that I felt merrited 'updating' visitors on - as the gravity of my sister's family's loss (everyone's, for that matter) has just been very hard to understand and come to terms with. One does not simply 'get over' anything like Travis. I still turn with guilt about time and opportunities wasted. We do hope that '14 rushes through more minutes, hours, and days where we can only hope the wounds heal but Travis' memory and legacy continue.

You're in our thoughts this holiday season -

The Foxleys