Once upon a time a long time ago there was a young man that escaped his boyhood home and made a place for himself in the idyllic islands of Hawaii. He fell in love with the green mountains, white sands, blue waters, and one particular local gal. The two of them got married, had a houseful of kids, and made a rich life in a colder environment. But the tropics remained in their hearts and occupied a good portion of their minds. As they began the transition from parenthood to grandparenthood, they knew it was time to reclaim their place in the sun. And so it came to pass that they bought a tropical island where they lived happily ever after.
This fairy tale is the overarching theme of this year’s update. As official “resident retirees,” Billy & Richele spent a good portion of each month at Royal Belize entertaining friends and family, overseeing renovations, catching rays (both kinds), and getting to know our wonderful new family members that live on island. It is a special place that we want to share with all of you. Come for a visit.
Real life happens back home where the world turns faster than ever. “Bully” gained another grandson and lost his Suburban in the transaction. Marshall Jack Kory was born in July and he and big brother Walker like riding in style. Both babies came for a five-day visit right before Christmas that required both their aunties and their uncle to pitch in. “Gigi” fell right back into parent mode, throwing a party for 60+ people with a twenty-one month old on her hip after four sleepless nights. Gigi’s got it going on. That doesn’t mean that everyone wasn’t ecstatic when Jensen and Sarah showed up late in the day on Christmas Eve to reclaim their little angels.
Charisse had a bucket list year at Tulane and is one semester away from graduation. As the short one with blue-green-purple hair, she was the ~*hot popular n cool*~ one on the Homecoming Court. (Her hair is now its natural color but, of course, her head is shaved.) She was named Senator of the Year in student government where she considers “agitator” to be an honorific. After teaching middle school in NOLA last summer she has decided that is her future. If her Fulbright Fellowship comes through she will spend a year in Turkey teaching English. If not, we’ll resume the conversation on the differences between a “job” and a “real job”.
Cheyenne was the surprise salutatorian of her high school class. The subtle message of her graduation speech was “I Am Never Coming Back.” After a celebratory trip to London and a brief flirtation with the idea of becoming a full-time SCUBA guide in Belize, she began her freshman year at Stanford. The Big Bang Theory is a lot more fun now that she explains the formulas on the whiteboard in Sheldon’s apartment. A committed Cardinal football fan, she has taken to assigning statistical probabilities of success to each play. She is thankful for the concept of the Gaussian distribution, her bicycle, and the phở in the Stanford dining halls.
Little brother Jacob is in his junior year and no longer requires much parenting. As long as there is food in the pantry and gas in the tank, he can handle the rest. He splits his time between school, swimming, League of Legends, and his friend-who-is-a-girl. He made it to the state swim meet as a sophomore, spent some time this summer training with Olympians at USC, and is on track to dominate this year. As the only remaining object of his mother’s parental attention, he is beginning to dream of college and may someday soon be able to articulate which one may be of interest to him. Good Wi-Fi seems to be his number one selection criteria.
Richele added “island hostess” to her job description this year. This role involves a lounge chair, a book, and a beverage. She still serves on the board of the local education foundation where she played a role in something called “Purse Mania.” As far as we can tell this involves drinking wine and buying purses all in the name of philanthropy. Billy thinks there is a profitable business model in there somewhere. The family’s slobbering lab experiment came to a sad end this summer as Tyson left us after a quick downhill slide. Richele is now the devoted caregiver to Cheyenne’s left-behind beta fish, Minerva, but it is really not the same.
Billy continues to plot and scheme. His consulting firm Kalypso is going strong and growing fast. He is developing the ability to be in more than one place at a time. He taught five courses of Housley at three universities this year while starting two new businesses, expanding Stelos, speaking, and writing daily. After spending 55+ days in Belize this year, he has the island bug and talks non-stop about building an empire in the Caribbean. After a failed attempt at delivering his new boat from Florida to Belize, he went to Cuba (before it was cool) to scout resort locations – and to drink lots of mojitos and daiquiris. He got a real good tan for Christmas.
In addition to Belize, Cuba and London, we got in family ski trips to Telluride and Snowmass, enjoyed a couple of weeks on Anguilla, and spent Thanksgiving in New York. Billy and Richele got away for a birthday week in Las Vegas and hosted the annual “Aloha Summer” luau for the tenth year in a row. Belize, however, was the destination of the year. We took a total of ten groups of family and friends down to enjoy the island on different trips. Diving, snorkeling, fishing and laying around are the favorite activities.
Home base continues to be the Texas Hill Country where we go to check the mail and pretend to be normal. Paradise is wherever we happen to be at the moment. The year ahead will bring new adventures and milestones. The calendar is already filling up with exploration and excitement. Stay tuned for news ahead and come join us for some craziness. It will be fun. You better belize it.