Saturday, September 17, 2011

T2 Update

Instead of breaking the year into Quarters like the business world, and since Three is the Magic Number, we here at the Williams Family Blog are going to break our year into Thirds.   You've already gotten the T1 Update of January through April, so lookie lookie, it all works out!

May was very busy and fun.  It began with Kim having a girl's getaway in Las Vegas.  While she was there I was the Homeschool teacher, and I think we all remember how that turned out.  Upon her return, we celebrated Drew's 6th Birthday with a Lord of the Rings theme, and, once again, Kim created a masterpiece of a cake.

May also saw Elliot celebrate his First Holy Communion!  He was so excited and we are so proud of him.  Gran and Pop Williams and Grandma and Grandpa Harvey came in to celebrate the special day with Elliot.

We closed out May with our first ever trip to Schlitterbahn Galveston.  We had so much fun and look forward to going back!

In June we tried to stay as cool as possible!  Evan recieved his rank of Scout in Boy Scouts and we spent many a day on the "dirt trails" playing and fishing.

We started July by volunteering for a flag route on the Fourth of July.  Evan, Elliot and Drew all woke up bright and early to put out 60+ flags around Mills Branch in Kingwood.  We picked them up that evening.  What a great day.

August was a very fun month for us, packed with many activities including Dylan's 3rd birthday and our first vacation in Texas Hill Country. 

For Dylan's birthday, we all gathered at Gran and Pop's and celebrated with a(nother) Dinosaur-themed party!  I can't recall how many dinosaur birthdays we've had throughout the years, but it has been quite a few.

At the end of August, I played music at a Fullness of Truth Conference in San Antonio.  We spent the weekend at the beautiful Hyatt Hill Country Resort, enjoying the grounds and taking in some solid Catholic teachings.

When it was over, we spent a day in San Antonio visiting the Alamo and the Riverwalk, and then a week in a farmhouse on over 60 acres in Johnson City, TX.  It was wonderful!  Oh, the views of that landscape and the quaint little towns.  Our farmhouse was right out of a picture book.  The look, feel and smell of that farmhouse brought me back to our old family Camp in Bundick Lake and it also reminded me of my Grandmother's house in Bull Shoals Arkansas.  There was a playhouse in the backyard that served as the boys' "home base" for their daily battles, and a bunk house that had a pool table.

Vacationing in Hill County is a big change for us, and we filled it with excursions to nearby attractions and just plain old decompressing under the large oak tree watching the boys play.  We spent one day walking around Fredericksburg and on the way back we took detour to pass through Luckenbach, Texas, and I was officially converted to the side who yearn to get back to the basics of life.  Jimmy Lee Jones was the leader of the picker's circle that day, and even though it was a bit early, he brought his guitar inside to get out of the heat and he played a few songs for us.  After he was done he looked at Evan and said, "Ok, now it's your turn," and when Evan said "OK", I think it took him by surprise!  He asked Evan if he played and if he needed a pick, but Evan had his own in his pocket.  Evan sat down and picked out the opening notes of Sweet Home Alabama, but not knowing the full song, he quickly switched gears to play a song that he knew all the way through.  So that day, in Luckenbach Texas, Evan played.....God of Thunder by KISS.  (I'm not sure, but I would think that is the first time that has ever been played in Luckenbach...)  It was a great experience, one I hope he never forgets.  I'd love to go back on the weekend, since that is the time the food vendors are there as well as the music.  It would have been great to eat lunch or dinner under the oaks while listening to some good tunes.

We also spent a day visiting Pedernales Falls State Park.  The water was low and hiking down to it wasn't a "walk in the park" (yuk, yuk) but once we got down to the river it was incredible.  The boys enjoyed trying to catch all the fish that would swim up and nibble on your toes.

On the way home we stopped in Austin and spent  a few hours swimming in Barton Springs, and we also stopped in Brenham and walked the antique shops in downtown and sat down to some Blue Bell at an ice cream parlor.  Breaking up the return trip made it much easier for the boys (and us!) and it also gave the trip a nice "Tour of Texas" feel.

With Labor Day wrapping up our Summer, came the beginning of the 2011-2012 School of Rock, and this year we have 3 students (Drew 1st, Elliot 3rd and Evan is a big time 6th grade middle schooler this year!!!)

So, that was our summer in a nutshell.  We are ready for this heat to go away and bring on the cool Fall weather and, Please God, some much needed rain.  Our prayers go out to all who are fighting the wild fires around the nation, and especially here in Texas.

God Bless You All!!
Love, the Williams Family

oh, and p.s.  - one more photo I'd like to share with ya'll:

"We're gonna need a bigger boat..."

Monday, May 02, 2011


I feel I owe it to the few who follow our blog to show both sides of the homeschooling coin.

And while it is true that homeschooling enables us to explore new ways to present material to help make learning "fun", the fact of the matter is that it is still school.

So, today, when Evan had written a snide comment regarding school at the top of his paper, I made him diagram it.

Just trying to keep it real.

God Bless

Friday, April 01, 2011


"It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade."

- Charles Dickens
It has taken 39 years, but Spring has finally taken over Fall as my favorite season of the year.  And it's no wonder - just look at all the great memories that our family makes each Spring.  From my childhood memories of the Camp at Bundick's Lake, the most memorable times were at Easter;  the March weather is so nice in Houston, our family spends many of hours outside; and with half of the Williams Family celebrating birthdays in the month of March, and Drew's Birthday in May (technically still Spring, but by then Houston's Summer has begun) I think it was only a matter of time.  I daresay that March is perfectly poised to take the crown of "The Most Glorious Month of the Year" away from November in my book.

Here is what has been going on in our family this month:

Cub No More

(Don't look, Evan, but there's an Indian staring at you!!)

After participating in the Arrow of Light ceremony, Evan officially became a Boy Scout!  What an incredible ceremony.  Gran and Pop came over to witness it which was very special for Evan.  Dad is an Eagle Scout and also a member of the Order of the Arrow, and he and Evan spent a lot of time talking about his days as a young Boy Scout and all the fun that they had at Camp Edgewood.  Evan loved it!

St. Joseph, Pray for Us!!

After many years of wanting to make a St. Joseph Altar, we finally did it this year.  My maternal grandmother's family immigrated from Sicily, Italy to New Orleans, LA in the late 1800's, and they brought with them this rich tradition of making St. Joseph's Altars on March 19th - the Feast Day of St. Joseph.

For many years, I've wanted to make one of my own and I've even discussed the idea several times with my grandmother asking her what all was on the altar and she'd tell me lots of stories from her childhood.

Ours was pretty humble, and it may not have had all the "official" items on it, but we decided to go kid friendly for this year and as the kids grow up and we actually plan well enough in advance we'll try for more traditional fare.

At the "heart" of our St. Joseph Altar was the brick that inspired me to build an altar in the first place.  While visiting Kim's grandmother in Baton Rouge, LA, I found this brick in her yard and I thought it would be a fantastic "cornerstone" for a St. Joseph Altar.  So, finally, here it is!  Also on the altar were fig newtons in place of the fig filled pastries, Goldfish in place of actual baked fish (I said "kid friendly" didn't I?!) and a can of fava beans instead of the dried ones (Kroger didn't have the dry, so we had to make due!)  Grandma told me about a man who would always take a lemon from their altar, so I made sure to have lemons as well.  Bruchetta, tomato salad, bread and wine rounded out the food, and we had a cookie cake with "Happy St. Joseph's Day" for dessert (God Bless the lady at the Kroger Bakery for helping me out in a pinch.  Actually the entire Kroger staff was wonderful that day helping me find the fava beans as well.)

Statues of Jesus and Mary and a vase of lillies completed the altar.

We ordered veggie pizza in keeping with the no meat nature of the altar and we said a prayer to St. Joseph asking for his powerful intercessions.  What a wonderful day that was!

"You say it's your birthday? It's my birthday too!"

Again, with half of the Williams household celebrating birthdays in March, we were having some serious party time this month.  Patrice came over to visit and watch the boys so Kim and I could go have dinner with our friends the weekend of her birthday.  It was so wonderful.  Thank you so much Patrice!!
That Sunday before Patrice left we had a birthday party for Kim.  It was a kitchen birthday this year.  She got a ceramic egg holder, a Kitchen Aid Ice Cream attachement and ice cream mix and topping to get us along on the first batch.  Hey...speaking of....where is that first batch of homemade vanilla?!

Next up was Elliot.  Oh my, I can't believe he is EIGHT YEARS OLD!!!!  Wow how time flies! 

The morning of his birthday he awoke to a table of balloons and streamers, a silly card picked out by Evan and a gift card to Toys R Us!  That afternoon, we all met for lunch at the Potatoe Patch near my work and later that evening, with the gift card, he bought a game for the Wii and we all had ice cream at Cold Stone.

Putting an exclamation point on March we had Evan turning 11!!  It seems like yesterday I was blogging about Ten Years Gone

Again, the traditional birthday breakfast of powdered donuts with candles greeted Evan as he awoke this morning.  He got a Pokemon game for his DSi and he loves it.  For lunch I met them at Chuy's Mexican Restaurant and afterwards, Kim took all the boys to an indoor bounce house place where they jumped to their hearts content.  Later in the evening after a wonderful homecooked meal we enjoyed cupcakes from a nearby bakery.  YUM!!
God is Good indeed!
p.s.  As you will notice from the boys' birthday pictures, they are both wearing KISS t-shirts.  I took Evan, Elliot and Drew to the KISS concert at the Rodeo earlier this month and it was fabulous.  It took Drew a few songs to fully get into it, but eventually he had a blast as much as Evan and Elliot did.  They all have t-shirts to commemorate the event.
p.s.s.  The buzzkill of the month goes to our two year old AC that went out unexpectedly last week.  Luckily it is still under warranty.  Unluckily is that warranty work apparantly is on the back burner for repair priority.  We've been without AC for a week.  Luckily, the weather has been absolutely perfect....did I mention that Spring is my new favorite?!
Love Y'all!!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Lord of the Quiddich Rings (or my comparison of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter)

***Spoiler Alert.  If you haven't seen or read the Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings books, and you do not wish for plots to be revealed, stop now, go pick up those books and read them instead.  Tolkien and Rowling are much better writers than I***

I have a confession to make:  I was one of "those people" who made a judgement call about Harry Potter before reading the book.  Years ago, a co-worker of mine had commented in amazement that I had let Evan watch all three Lord of the Rings movies, but not Harry Potter.  The details are fuzzy to me now, but from what I recall I had "heard" that the premise was that the adults were made out to be the bad guys and the students were sassy.  I know I saw the Sorcerer's Stone on DVD when it came out, and I don't recall my exact feelings towards it, but it must not have shaken the notion mentioned above, because for 7 more years I had no desire to watch any of the movies, let alone read the books - especially beginning with Goblet of Fire, as it seems they got exponentially larger!

Well, at the constant nagging of yet another co-worker, I finally gave the series another chance and I rented all of the movies through Netflix over the course of this past Summer.  I guess it was after Prisoner of Azkaban that I got really hooked and I started going to Blockbuster because I couldn't wait for the mail in movies to arrive.  At the conclusion of Half Blood Prince, I was dumbfounded and I absolutely could not wait until November to see the movie, so I bought the Deathly Hallows book and read it.  I'll admit I'm not an avid reader like Kim is, so it took me a while to get through it, but eventually I did, and once I was done, I decided to read all of the books starting at the beginning.

It was then that I really began to appreciate the writing of JK Rowling, and the overall theme and message of the books.  I especially liked how each book ended with Dumbledore imparting a deep truth to Harry, and how those messages are not only good, but downright Christian.

One day Kim emailed me a wonderful article that listed the common "sticking points" that Catholics in general have (or should have) with the Harry Potter series and countered each with a comparison of how the same sticking points existed in Lord of the Rings.  Shortly after reading that article I received a dramatized version of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy on CD to listen to on the way to work.  As I listened day after day, I couldn't believe how alike the Harry Potter series is to Lord of the Rings.  Furthermore, it blew me away that, given how much I loved Lord of the Rings, it took me so long to come around to Harry Potter.

Which brings me to the main reason for this post. Many Catholics will sing the praises of Lord of the Rings, going out of our way to tell people that "JRR Tolkien was Catholic, you know," and in the next breath throw JK Rowling under the bus for writing a book about a school where boys and girls learn about witchcraft (gasp!)  Rather than compare the philosophical points of both series, I'd like to just begin with pointing out the similarities in characters, plots and such.

The Hero's Quest:
As with most good adventure stories, the Hero's Quest involves mortal quote Ron in Chamber of Secrets:  "Follow the spiders??  Why couldn't it be follow the butterflies??"
HP - Ultimately to destroy Voldemort.
LOTR - To destroy the Ring of Power.

The Hero's Mentor:
HP - Albus Dumbledore. A wise wizard who mostly guides Harry along his journey, but will join the fight when he needs to.  Is killed in Half Blood Prince, but "comes back" in Deathly Hallows to help Harry finish his quest.
LOTR - Gandalf. A wise wizard who mostly guides Frodo along his journey, but will join the fight when he needs to.  Is killed in Fellowship of the Ring, but comes back in Two Towers to help the Frodo finish his quest.

The Hero's Company:
Both series illustrate the necessity for the Hero to have help from not only close friends, but an extended support cast as well.
HP - Besides close friends Ron and Hermione, we gradually realize that most of Harry's adult allies are members of the Order of the Phoenix.
LOTR - Besides close friends Samwise, Merry and Pippin, Frodo is joined at the outset of his adventure by the Fellowship of the Ring.

The Villain:
HP - Voldemort aka The Dark Lord. Was "killed" after his killing curse meant for Harry backfired on himself. Somehow returns to power to command dark wizards and witches against the rest of the wizarding world.
LOTR - Sauron aka The Dark Lord. Was "killed" in battle by Isildur, yet somehow returned to power to command dark forces against Middle Earth.

How the Villan Survives:
HP - Voldemort made 7 Horcruxes: special objects that held a piece of his own soul. He will not be truly defeated until all Horcruxes are destroyed.
LOTR - Sauron survives because the ring he forged has yet to be destroyed. In a way, the Ring of Power is a Horcrux for Sauron.

The Bad Guys:
HP - Dementors and Death Eaters.  Let's face it, from the first time you are introduced to a Dementor, you know they are not good, even if they are under "ministry control."  Feeding on despair, they seek out happiness and suck it out of people.  They are creepy and, of course, cloaked in black.  Completely hidden by their cloaks, but Harry spots the hand of one and describes it as "glistening, grayish, slimy-looking, and scabbed, like soemthnig dead that had decayed in water."  The Death Eaters are a group of dark wizards who have allegiance to Voldemort and do his bidding.
LOTR - Ringwraiths and Saruman.  The nine Ringwraiths used to be men, but they fell under the influence of the rings that were controled by the One Ring.  Now they do Sauron's bidding, constantly searching for the Ring.  They are creepy and, of course, cloaked in black.  They are actually invisible to mortals, but Frodo can see them when he puts the ring on and describes them as having "haggard hands".  Saruman is a dark wizard who have allegiance to Sauron and does his bidding.

Fear of a Name:
HP - Wizards are afraid to speak the name "Voldemort"and instead refer to him as "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" or "you-know-who."
LOTR - Everyone gets spooked at the name of "Mordor".

"Bad Guy" shown mercy in beginning...plays part in the end:
HP - Peter Pettigrew. Harry stops Sirius and Lupin from killing Pettigrew in Prisoner of Azkaban.  This act of mercy plays a part in Harry's escape from Malfoy Manor in the Deathly Hallows.  Immediately afterward, Pettigrew dies.
LOTR - Gollum.  Frodo wishes that Bilbo would have killed Gollum when he had the chance.  Gandalf reminds him that pity and mercy spared Gollum's life and that, perhaps, Gollum will play a part in the end, which he does.  Immediately afterward, Gollum dies.

Hero's Inner Connection with the Villain:
HP - Harry can read Voldemort's mind (and vice versa).  This is good and bad as sometimes it is used for Harry to know what Voldemort is up to (like the attack on Mr. Weasley), whereas other times Voldemort uses it to trick Harry (implanting the image of Sirius in the Department of Mysteries to lure Harry there.)
LOTR - When Frodo puts on the ring he can see the Eye of Sauron and hear Saruon speaking to him.  The Palantir was used by Aragorn to show himself to Sauron.

Looking into the Past/Future:
HP - Dumbledore's Pensieve is a bowl full of liquid that you look into to view memories.  It can put you into a memory so you can re-live it in case you missed something the first time.
LOTR - The Mirror of Galadriel  is a bowl full of water that you look into to view things that are, that were and that may yet come to pass.

Giant, Talking Spiders:
HP - Aragog
LOTR - Shelob.  (Shelob doesn't speak per se in the books however, it is implied that, somehow, she communicated with Gollum regarding the Hobbits.  We also know that Shelob's kin are none other than the spiders of Mirkwood in the Hobbit, and they actually do speak.)

That's all I can recall right now.  If you know of any other similarities in characters, plots, etc. between the two series, comment below.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Field

Across the street from my in-law's house is a large field in which the boys love to play when the grass is not too high or too wet.  When we went in to celebrate Christmas, the field was relatively dry and it had been mowed fairly recently, so the boys took the opportunity to run and play and I took the opportunity to take some priceless pictures.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Winter Vacation

What with the change in employment and all, we were unable to take a proper vacation in 2010, so we decided, rather spur of the moment, to take off the first week of January 2011 and travel to Orlando, Florida to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure.

Here are a few pics with some of the Hogwarts Express Conductors...

Of the whole experience, I'd say one of my favourite (sic) parts was eating at the Three Broomsticks.  It was an identical recreation of the movie set that had really good food for breakfast and lunch and, of course, ice cold Butterbeers to boot.  Here we are enjoying the famous beverage.


Got Butterbeer?

Kim and I toast to good health in the Hog's Head which was adjacent to the Three Broomsticks.  (The hog head in the background actually moved and snorted at you!)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Williams Family

We have been very busy here in the Williams Household.  It's hard to believe that Christmas has already come and gone...wasn't it just yesterday that we were inviting a ridiculous amount of people to our house for PumpkinFest the Saturday before Halloween?

I hope to post more and include many more pictures of our Fall/Winter activities, but for now, this photo caputres the peace and beauty of Christmas Eve night.

Be Blessed.

The Williams Family