Sunday, November 23, 2014

Fall Flashbacks

Nevin at One-Year
Welcome back to the very neglected Collins' family blog. Rather than bore you with the details of our last three months, I'd rather you capture our life, through the glimpses provided in the following photo's, with associated captions, coupled with the list of Flashbacks provided. Simply put, there is not enough room here to cover all the activity but suffice it to say, we have had a jamming few months of kiddo, Cub Scouts, work and drive-by, last minute fun travel and visitors!
Lunch In Lincoln with Carla and Doug
Gavin/Punk-Rocker Halloween

Aunt Leah & Uncle Joe at Eagle Creek

  • Gavin and Eric traveled to Canada twice in the last six months to see family. One trip was planned for months, the other planned and executed in less than 24 hours! They surprised Great-Grandma on her 99th birthday! Nobody knew but the three of us.
  • Ness also startled her family by surprising them in October with a short jaunt to Plano. I appreciate the crazy fun we always have and the outstanding homemade grub!
  • My business is rocking! God has blessed me with plenty of work for a part-time gig and I can't wait to see what 2015 brings.
  • Eric is busy running his company and planning to bring Christmas to nearly 800 local children. We will be wrapping and shopping fools from now til December 15th or so. Trust me, it is the very best way to get into and stay in the holiday spirit. Get out and GIVE your time people and your troubles will melt away.
  • Gavin's school and Cub Scouts are keeping me hopping. Wreath fundraiser for the Cubs yielded enough funds for the entire year ahead! WHOOO! School field trips are spent in my old red-bus, the Expedition, where food, dirty little boys and fun can be enjoyed. 
  • We are headed to friends for a large Thanksgiving dinner and Mexico for the New Year! Can't wait to put my white butt on a sandy beach and SIT!
  • Gavin's straight A record continues and so does his piano. Tae Kwon Do is on hold for now. He is doing upper level math and enjoying the challenge! 
  • Bandit is a GEM of a dog! Nevin is finally befriending the enemy.
  • A quote from a client I hope will impact you: "what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" Fear is such a powerful enemy.

    Eric's First-Ever Hunting Trip, Bottomless Lakes
    Tainted 80's Halloween Party and Custom Photo Booth!
    Love to all and may you have a very blessed and gratitude-filled Thanksgiving!                                                                   Ness

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Good Medicine

Bandit, 5 Months, Bonito River Falls

Planning is normally an exercise I conduct with little effort. For many years, it was an essential aspect of my career and since then, of my life. Being humble, however, has not been! Thus, I find it healthy, humbling and cathartic to be reminded upon occasion of the fallacies of planning and more generally, the idiocy associated with believing I can "control" all the events in our lives. Sometimes, life just evolves and you must adapt. I chose to do so with a smile on my face as each crazy day rolled into the next. Enter, stage right, the month of July, which laid out like a map during the planning phase and exploded like a Molotov cocktail upon execution.    Apparently, humbling for me, is good medicine!

Gavin, or Gelda?
Bec & Dave doing Hitchcock

For starters, my Sister and her sweet Husband (right) were just crazy enough to offer to help me drive nearly 2000 miles to Tennessee to purchase a smooth collie.

The three amigos hit Memphis hard for 24 hours, Beale Street, BB King Cafe, Graceland and cocktails at the Peabody Hotel after a rather entertaining and alarming trip through Arkansas. Let's just say, our most memorable stop included a gas station selling wooden bats (marketed as "tire kickers"), gizzards and tobacco. The crowd drinking Natural Light in the parking lot looked a bit eager for company, (and dental work) so we moved ON! We picked up Bandit (Neil on his papers) after looking for a collie for nearly a year. I must say, I would have driven much further. He is calm, loving and totally, 100% house trained! He is obsessed with panties and socks so we named him Bandit. WindKist Collies near Nashville did a fabulous job of prepping him. (Thanks Nancy!)  Most recently, he escaped with all of our clothes while we were in the hot tub. We sent the nude kid up the acreage to retrieve our essentials. :) Bandit will be hitting the trails in August so expect a Walmart Greeting!

Mom, checking her pants after entering her surprise Party.
My crazy family arrived for a long weekend and we enjoyed every second we could with them. We laughed, we held a birthday party for my Mom (scaring the hell out of her with the orange masks pictured above) and dressing her in a crown and robe as Queen for the evening. Typical Warren holiday, killing rodents, eating homemade food, 42 dominoes and plenty of margaritas. I hated to see them leave but am so grateful to have had them!

The remainder of the month, while Eric and Gavin were in Canada, I spent spoiling myself with long trail runs, old movies, plenty of time with friends and zero housework! I think half of Lincoln County bought or made me dinner!  Expect a long blog and plenty of pictures dedicated to their annual Father-Son journey.

In Gratitude,

Monday, June 23, 2014

Gavin's Own Kin-ship

Frequently, we quip, "they are just like family" but explaining this concept more literally to a child is a bit of a task, requiring some consideration on my part. 

Gavin gave me this opportunity before he stayed with Joe and Leah in Albuquerque for an ENTIRE week. (The first trip away from home of this length of time), with people I have known for decades. 

Gavin's questions prior to his departure traversed this path: If you are not related by blood, but have all the qualities and often more, than you share with "family", what are you forming? A kin-ship. Reaching beyond the boundaries of blood lies a relationship where we are intimately connected. I have known a kin-ship with these fine souls, since I was very young. Gavin appreciated it, vicariously through both Eric and myself. In a matter of days spent with Joe and Leah, this all changed.   

Upon return, he talked of little else, ironing out the fine details of every journey, walk, swim, movie and discussion they had shared. Leah, really hit it out of the park with her recommendations of an architecture camp at Explora: 3D Dimensions of Design. The kids learned about architecture, built models, used dimensions and tested various building materials for strength over several session days. Gavin's passionate about architecture so of course, this was a HUGE hit! Additional fun came from the day to day, such as choosing the home (movie) each night to be watched (maybe painfully):). His first taste of sushi at Sushiya has similarly received multiple accolades. Obviously, I was incredibly happy for his "present tense" experience. The weeks spent on their part of planning were with great consideration and care, choosing activities they knew were special to Gavin. He understood this fact and took notice of how their days were dedicated to fun with him. But, at the end of the day, and in retrospect, my lasting joy for him lies in knowing he has formed his own kin-ship with these two. Beyond the boundaries of my own, unencumbered by me, a new Genesis for them. 
Top of Sandia Peak

 noun \ˈkin-ˌship\
: the state of being related to the people in your family
: a feeling of being close or connected to other people

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Circus Du Collins

March and April were slated, on our personal calendars, and appeared manageable at first glance; then we received the calendar from school and it was all over, like the fat lady singing. Field trips, Gavin's Teachers Retirement, Science Projects, Fundraisers and Robotics all marched through our spring calendar like a heard of wildebeest. The dust flew. We looked a bit stampeded for a time but recovered nicely. School ended last week and we are all taking a long, deep breathe as we await the warmer days of summer with fewer calendars, fewer obligations and the passing of the herds. 
We hit Tuscon for Spring Break and are most definitely headed back! Our trip was filled with mountain bikes, long canyon runs and even a few dips in the creek with a turtle. We stayed at an upscale condo and swam in a heated pool by day and hot tub by night. Nevin, the dog-cat traveled with us and spent most of the six hours each way on Eric's lap. The condo had an enclosed patio/cat room so Nevin thought he had died and gone to heaven. We were stunned at the greenery of the topography and the amount of water coming from Mt. Lemmon. Who would have thought Tucson would be so lush and green? Our condo shared boundaries with the National Forest and a very upscale golf course. Needless to say, we were in no hurry to get home! If you are into the outdoors, I can't say enough about Sabino Canyon. Gavin and I spent an entire day in Sabino and could have easily spent another.

A major item, Robots, were clearly not on said calendars. RoboWave was an aforementioned wildebeest, who came into our world in February after Gavin was nominated by his Teacher to participate as the ONLY second grader from his class. (We could not pass it up.) Eric began assisting the teams (there were 3) with the design, construction and programming of their Robot several weeks ago. Bit by bit, these kids, built a robot as did several hundred of them from around the GLOBE. Once we hit Albuquerque in May, where the kids would compete, we were awestruck and befuddled. The morning is complete, organized CHAOS and so DAMN fun! Hundreds of children, ages 3rd grade-12th had built robots and were now competing, filling three partial stories of the Convention Center with excitement and a once in a lifetime learning experience. Gavin's Team, Dragon, did very well, placing in the top 100 with a brand new robot in the Line/Ball competition. Depending upon the category and age, robots are required to conduct increasingly more difficult task, including seeking out heat and extinguishing fire! I wish, oh how I wish, my parents had been there on this very day, this very event. Precious time for sure and they would have loved every crazy second.

We had planned to get the camper ramped up and despite all the other events happening, we DID! After chasing the chipmunks out who had huddled in there to snack during the winter, we bleached, re-stocked and headed to Elephant Butte for a weekend. With Grandma Chris' kayaks in hand and a buddy, Gavin was set for two days of sun, water and sand. 

We stayed on the beach, sleeping very little due to the idiots next door to us, but had two warm, beautiful weather days to enjoy. Plus, a Campfire-a rare thing these days in New Mexico. 

Other Tid-Bits and Updates for you Gluttons:

Easter was celebrated this year at our home with 25 adults and more than 12 kids who enjoyed a fun-filled brunch with a Country Egg hunt on our acreage. The kids were a hoot and loved the money-filled prize eggs (a Warren tradition.)

I completed my math and physics volunteering at school with Building Big's team bridge competition. Gavin's class built bridges with straws, tape and stickpins, learning about tension, compression and teamwork. I really needed my Dad a time or two!

Both of us are busy with work. YEAH! I am nearly booked for the summer and FEMA via Eric's work has been good to us in 2014. The timing could not be better as the local real estate market is slower than a snail. No bites on our house, but someday...

We decided to go forward with our chlorine free hot tub. The slab will be poured next week. WHOOOO! If and when the house sells, it is easily moved. 

Cheers to all!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

"He Wasn't My First Choice but he was hers..."

Our Kid-Lover
Esa, our smooth Collie Mix, came into our home first and as such, made it quite clear she would be choosing a second canine, if one was to dwell, in her/our house. After biting, dominating, paw-punching and humping the first two humane society dogs we had chosen, we became keenly aware the choice we perceived to be our own, was undeniably hers. Thus, after the first two attempts of choosing a second canine on my own, I loaded her domineering butt into my car and took her to the PetSmart Humane Society monthly extravaganza so she could make a selection. Gordie caught my eye and hers. He was eight weeks old, found in a wood pile with his litter mates, and covered with more than 25 ticks. Once we ask to see him, he instantly rolled over to submit to Esa, exposing his fragile underbelly. Esa towering over him, keenly looked up to me as if to say "he is acceptable and therefore shall be allowed to co-exist under my reign." Boy, did she know how to pick em.

He turned out to be the most obedient, jubilant, family friendly, cat loving dog we had ever known. Indeed, as Esa had recognized, he was submissive and always seeking only one thing: approval. Esa's daily assertion of authority involved paw-punching, riding Gordie like a pony and gnawing the cowl of his neck. During their fifteen years together, Gordie loved every bit of her attention-good or bad!

Only once during our sixteen year relationship did we ever witness Gordie exhibiting any type of dominance and it was pathetically toward the gigantic stuffed teddy bear pictured below. We won the bear at a Circus but Gordie made it his bitch: riding it like a pony, chewing on its' ears and sniffing it out regardless of where we hid it. The bear got so nasty from Gordies defiling, we finally had to pitch it. Gordie spent a week looking in every crevice of our house before finally relenting.

Our Senior, March 2014
In my heart, I believe all pets are good, delivered to us with the endless ability to unconditionally provide love. Everyone says they have or had a great dog. Maybe it is because we see them as such a reflection of our own ability to rear and raise. But, I would argue, there are very few GREAT dogs. Great dogs, once-in-a-lifetime dogs, if you are blessed-kind of dogs, are rare. His gentle ways are sorely missed in our home and I continue to listen for his shuffling paws, reaching for a cold nose kiss and long for the sight of his beautiful coat lounging in the sun of our backyard. Gordie IS a Great Dog. I have no doubt, he is in heaven with Esa, where she is riding him like a pony, once again.. Gordie Howe Collins 1998-2014 R.I.P.
Gordie & I, First Camping Trip, Northern New Mexico, 1998

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Scoot Scuttle

Carla Swinging at Rainmakers
Tour of Billy The Kid in Lincoln
Alas, we have been anxiously anticipating their arrival since they landed in Washington in January, following a very long journey from their boat in Fiji. 

Cedar Creek hike with Gavin

Gavin's anticipation for their arrival had reached epic proportions and he intended to get as much time with them as possible. The Scoots/Scott's took him hiking, played endless games with him and to my sheer pleasure, provided him with shuttle service to all of his activities. We enjoyed all the maid and culinary services they provided, incredible stories of their travels and just the constant chuckling their company always provides. We spent hours talking, attempting to wedge a year of all our lives into ten days. 

The Scott's carefully orchestrated United States road trip was impressive enough to rival any governmental mission, involving visiting dozens of friends and family across the Pacific Northwest and Southwest, via an old beater of a sedan they purchased for just this occasion. When logistics finally brought them to Ruidoso for ten days we enjoyed every fleeting second.

Scott's Presentation to Gavin's class
Gavin's class particular enjoyed the presentation they prepared of exotic birds, traditional Polynesian dancing and their home-a boat-which baffled them all. We had one nose-picker and one who refused to raise his hand (Gavin) from sheer excitement. The kids were really thrilled to know they lived on a boat!

Golf, casino, and a special tour of a collection of more than 100 antique cars rounded out their time with us. We hated to see them go, realizing we may not see them for quite sometime and vowing to get to Fiji next year while they are still residents. Love you!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Menagerie

The Menagerie increased in population on December 28th when we brought Nevin home from the local shelter. Gavin loved the name they had given the kitten, since it so closely resembles his own, and alas, it has stuck. What can I say, he is a wonderful pet. Quiet, loving and full of energy he has made the perfect companion for an only child living in the sticks. Gavin has leash trained him and taught him how to jump through a hula hoop. We are not sure where the circus theme is headed but it promises to be entertaining. Gordy is ambivalent and unsurprisingly submissive to the cat, despite his 70lb body mass advantage. He will be sixteen next month so I do not think he is interested in establishing a long term relationship. His arthritis is really advancing so we understand we are on borrowed time and thus intend to spoil him rotten.

Cub Scouting, work and school are keeping us hopping. I have sixteen Cubs in my Pack and incredibly dependable parents-what are the odds? I am still green, learning by trial and error with the usual smile on my face. I am volunteering at school twice a week as a teachers aide assisting with math skills and physical education. After an hour of volunteering, I am FRIED and depart with ever increasing appreciation for the profound patience the profession requires. 

Watching Gavin at Christmas this year was precious. As he prepared carrots for the reindeer and cookies for Santa, I realized the fleeting nature of these moments. 

Eric is progressing with his three-year FEMA project at work and my business is growing steadily. I have big plans for this year, including more education in the form of a new Health Coach license and meal planning application. I love my job and find it very rewarding. Gavin continues with his run of straight A's and is able to consistently manage more responsibilities with ease. I have not had to lift a finger to care for his kitten as he has taken full charge. The Pinewood Derby is in March so car construction will begin shortly. He and Eric will spend hours of time in the shop engineering, sanding and painting. 

The drought continues to plague our area and we have already seen fires in our subdivision. The elk are becoming more desperate and for the first time have jumped over our 6.5' fence to get to our greener, manicured patch of lawn. Their perseverance never ceases to amaze me.