It seems to have become a tradition over the last few years that I start this missive by commenting on how quickly the previous year has flown by so I promise not to do that this year (despite the fact that it is, once again, true :-) ). 2010 has been a good year for the Wilson/Loftin clan with no major catastrophes and only one significantly horrible thing happening in the sudden and unexpected death of our 12 year old fox terrier, Sugar. Drew also managed to break his wrist last week but, as ever, he's found the silver lining and is enjoying the extra attention that comes with wearing a cast!
The year started with some cold weather (for Austin) and a couple of inches of snow in February which provided some short-lived snowman building opportunities on the deck. Overall, it's been a pretty good year, weather-wise with enough rain to keep our tanks full and fewer ridiculously hot days than the previous years, or so it seemed.
Our travels this year have taken us to Disney World in Florida for a long weekend in June followed by a great road trip to West Texas and New Mexico in July. We visited Fort Davis where we hiked in the Davis Mountains and saw the fascinating little Rattlesnake Museum then headed on to White Sands National Monument and Alamogordo before spending 3 days in Santa Fe then heading home via Carlsbad Caverns. The whole trip was outstanding with new experiences every day (one of the highlights was a tour of the Shidoni Sculpture Foundry near Santa Fe where we saw molten brass being poured) and the minivan proved its worth as a reliable, long distance vehicle. The DVD player in the back didn't hurt either!
The boys are both still at Rooster Springs Elementary with Cameron in 5th Grade and Drew in 2nd. Both are doing fine under the guidance of great teachers this year. We are all very busy with sports and Cub Scouts. Cameron played soccer this year and Drew played baseball in the spring and soccer in the autumn. Nikki and I did a lot of driving back and forward to various fields in Dripping Springs for practices and games! The highlight of the Cub Scout year for Cameron was another chance to camp overnight in Space Center Houston. I rather enjoyed the opportunity to photograph some of the equipment there too. As a Wolf this year, Drew was too young to take part in the NASA camp but he will be able to go next year.
Nikki is still writing full time. Her agent in New York is currently submitting her latest middle grade novel to editors and she has a couple more almost complete (in final revision) and more ideas for books than she has time to write them. Although she has yet to sell a novel, she has had a great year with her essays, stories and articles including publication in Boy's Life, the national magazine of the Boy Scouts of America, A Cup of Comfort for Mothers, ParentWise:Austin, Skirt, Sasee, The Secret Place and The Ultimate Christian Guide. She has had several poems published in various literary journals including Front Range Review and Divine Dirt Quarterly. She has also become pretty well-known in local writing circles via her involvement in Writers' League of Texas and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Her blog provides a great insight into what's up with her writing and you can read her updates at http://www.nikkiloftin.com.
When not writing, Nikki is also busy as chair of the "Playhouse Singers", a Junior League group which performs at local senior centers and homes and is a very active Zumba Fitness instructor teaching at Austin's downtown YMCA and a local gym.
A couple of other highlights this year were Nikki's appearance as "Mombie" during Halloween (complementing Cameron's hobo and Drew's ninja) and the helicopter ride Nikki bought me for my recent birthday. We both enjoyed 20 minutes over New Braunfels but my Dad, who joined us, wasn't quite so happy since the chopper had no doors!
I continue to work for Texas Instruments by day and spend too much time on photography-related activities at other times. I've taught a couple of workshops this year and spent a week with a National Geographic photographer shooting in some of Utah's national parks back in February. I also had a solo exhibition in an Austin gallery during June and am currently organising a couple of workshops to be given by a well-known British photographer who will be coming over to Austin in February. One of the photographic highlights of the year for me was being asked to stand in as photographer for the University of Texas Longhorn Band for two home games this season. You can't believe how it feels to march through the tunnel at Texas Memorial Stadium surrounded by 100,000 enthusiastic fans (even if they're not yelling for you)!
So, all in all, it's been a great year for the Wilson/Loftin clan. We're keeping our fingers crossed that 2011 proves to be every bit as much fun as 2010 was (minus the broken limb and lost pets) and we all hope that your 2011 also proves to be healthy and enjoyable for you and your family.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!