Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 The Year In Review

  Well here we are, the last 3 1/2 hours of 2013 and as I do every year I am looking back upon the year looing at where I've come from and how it has set up where I'm heading.

    This has been a year of change in the Holloway household as our youngest graduated from high school and is now attending Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mi. He is doing well and enjoying the experience and challenge of college and already has been stretched intellectually. He has really grown and matured into a young man in the short time he has been gone. He is making strong wise decisions and taking responsibility for his actions both good and bad and I couldn't be prouder of him. This summer I again competed in Scottish Highland Games and had a pretty good year, I set some new PR's in several events and became more consistent in my performance.

    Earlier this year my wife had a quilt published in a national quilting magazine and then had a different quilt that was a semi-finalist in a major quilt show in Grand Rapids Mi. It has been fun to watch her develop her skill in quilting and to watch her gain confidence in her abilities as she goes. In December she had the opportunity to go to Chicago and tape a show with Mary Fons and it was pretty neat to watch her tape the show and just chat with Mary who is one of her quilting "heros".

    This year I stepped down as an elder of the church we attend, there was no specific season other than the fact that it was just time. I have been in leadership at this church for something like 12 years and I was ready to relinquish that responsibility and look for that next thing that the Lord would have me do. Unbeknownst to me our pastor announced that he was looking to move on at the same meeting. I think the timing of us both announcing our intentions was Gods plan and the church will benefit from this in a way that only God knows.

  The BIG NEWS this year however is our daughter Elizabeth and her husband brought into this world our first grand-children. Daughters Eleanor and Amelia were born September 17 in Virginia Beach Va they are beautiful and most importantly healthy. It is still sometimes hard to wrap my mind around the fact that my baby girl now has baby girls of her own. It has been a bit of a trial for Beth and Brad to get the routine down but they are getting a handle on it and they are doing a great job and are going to be great parents. I remember how hard it was with just one new-born in the house now double it WOW.

  What lies ahead? Well first up is our 28th anniversary, I can't believe that it's been 28 years that I've had the love of my life walking beside me. Vicki has been my rock through thick and thin and I look forward to the next 28 years with great excitement. In May the Highland Games season starts up with several games planned again this year with all efforts aimed at the Masters World Championships in Inverness Scotland in September. Vicki and I are both looking forward to this trip of a lifetime with much anticipation. For me its the opportunity to throw in the land of my ancestors and to visit the site of the Battle of Culloden in which my ancestor Donald Livingston played a prominent  role and do all this with the most important person in my world with me.

  Let me wrap this up by wishing you all a very happy, and blessed NEW YEAR. Everyone of you mean so much to me and I don't do a good enough job of letting you know.

                                                                                                     Be Blessed,


Friday, May 31, 2013

Alma has come and gone and other miscellany

     Well Memorial Day weekend brought along with it the first Highland Games of the season and it was a great time. There is nothing better than getting together with friends catching up after the long winter and even longer spring. The Alma games is associated with the Alma Highland Festival held each year at Alma college. The festival includes music, highland dancing, clan row and other things Scottish. I was pretty happy overall with my performance this week considering this was the first game of the year, I actually finished in 2nd place this year,  my best @ Alma ever. I even managed to win an event (the stone put which is by far my worst event). I have to give props to JT who won the whole thing but especially his performance in the sheaf. Vicki and I made a weekend of it heading down Friday night and staying at Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort. Neither one of us are gamblers but the room and food were great we enjoyed a fun weekend and staying closer to Alma definitely helped with the fatigue factor. We are already planning to do the same next year.

  Tonight my youngest graduates from high school and as I write this I am wondering "where did the time go?" We are well into the post-graduation planning, college is picked, financing acquired, and Monday we will get him enrolled @ GVSU. Tuesday our daughter is flying in to be here for his grad party and as I speak she is finding out the sexes of our first grandchildren. We are pretty excited for her and Brad.  I am confidant that they will be great parents and after the stress of figuring out the schedule that is a must with twins their lives will be a joy. I have to take a moment and say to my son, "I am so proud of you and the young man you have become, your sensitivity towards others and sense of right and wrong will serve yourself and others well throughout your life. As you move onto the next phase of your life always remember who you are and where you come from. You are a child of God made in his image, put on this earth for a purpose. Your mom and I are so very proud of you and know you will be successful in all you do."

 Well that's it for now time to go get a workout in before Graduation tonight then continue to train for the games, the next one is in 2 weeks in Spring Lake on June 15 time to build on what I started in Alma.

                                                                                                                God Bless,


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Spring At Last Maybe???

    Well it's May 15th and there is still a little snow left in the parking lot behind the house and we actually got about 3 inches of snow Saturday night. It's been busy around here getting ready for our youngest graduation including getting the house ready for the grad party, and that's when it all started. Friday my father-in-law came up to help me paint the garage we had a couple of pieces of the exterior wall sheeting that needed to be replaced, as we got into it we realized the entire front needed to be replaced. At 10 am it was bright sunshine and all the old wood was down and we were getting ready to install the new. At around 1 pm it started to rain but we still had to get it covered up and we finally finished it up around 5 pm IN THE SNOW!! We will finish up the trim work and possibly get it painted this weekend. As if that wasn't enough we have been having problems with the main sewer line going to the city system. We live in a house that is about 100 years old and the line needed to be replaced, we were hoping to get it done this fall but it decided it couldn't wait so that was done on Monday. So along with everything else I have to do I now have to level and reseed half of the front yard so much for having a decent looking yard for the graduation celebration.

    On a happier and more exciting news. We are getting ready to celebrate our sons graduation from Gaylord High as that time grows closer our Wednesdays are filled with awards banquets, honors convocations etc for the entire month of May. Our daughter is now 18 weeks along in her pregnancy with twins. She sends us a weekly profile picture and she is absolutely glowing. Sean graduates on May 31, on June 3 we take him to GVSU for freshman orientation and to get his classes scheduled, the next day Beth is flying into Detroit so after we are done in Grand Rapids we will head toward D town and get a hotel and spend the next day shopping @ Ikea and some Scottish and Irish stores we like in the area ( Ackroyds Scottish Bakery here we come) We will also hit up Trader Joes and Whole Foods Market as we don't have them at home.

   We are also coming up on the Highland Games season with our first competition is Memorial Day weekend at Alma. Unfortunately my friend and Highland Games mentor Dale will be unable to compete this year due to an injury. I seem to have finally improved my technique in a couple of the events and I am starting to get some distance. I'm hoping for a better year this season I was a bit disappointed in last year. These games mean more than just competition to Vicki and I, we have made some pretty good friends and are part of a group where we are accepted as we are. Sometimes I think we are looked at by some people in a way that I think is unfair because we have interests that are different from most people we know and I think they may even go so far as to disapprove which is really to bad. Well that is enough for now I have probably said too much as it is.

                                                                                                              God Bless, Jay

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Year Of Change Part 2

  As I stated in my previous post this is a year of change. I had mentioned Vicki and myself were moving into a different phase of our lives becoming empty-nesters, since I last posted my daughter and son-in-law have informed us we are going to become grandparents this fall not only is there a baby on the way but there are babies on the way. That's right twins!!!! I always teased Beth when she was younger telling her that twins run in the family and they are overdue. I'm pretty sure my daughter will hit me when I see her again lol. Vicki and I are excited and scared for the kids as they are so far away from both families but it will be fine I'm sure. Elizabeth is healthy and physically strong (she runs 5k's and 1/2 marathons) and they are surrounded by a good group of friends from their church. Vicki and I have been making tentative plans to get down there when the time comes I think Vicki is going to fly down a day or two after the babies are born (or as soon as Beth wants her there) and I will follow down a week or so later. I told Vicki I was already looking for kilts for the babies and she just rolled her eyes at me.

    I have been spending a lot of time looking at everything in  my life from family to my job, hobbies, church etc. I have decided that I want to learn a foreign language and I am really leaning to Scottish Celtic. It would be pretty cool to be able to speak at least some rudimentary Scots when I go to the MWC next year in Inverness so if I can find something on-line I'll probably go that way. This has been a long hard winter and even as I write this we are getting snow. It is the middle of April and it's time to get into Spring and get rid of the snow. My first Highland Games is Memorial Day weekend and I haven't been able to throw since October. All my Highland buddies and I are chomping at the bit to get after it. I wasn't real happy with my season last year so this year I'm looking to improve in all of the events. I don't know if I over trained last year or not but I know I have to improve my technique. Last year I finally put everything together in the weight over bar 1 day and improved my PR by 3 feet and I haven't  been able to duplicate it since.

  Well I guess that's it for now WINTER GO AWAY!!!!!

                                                                                                                      God Bless, Jay

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Year Of Change

                 The new year is already into it's third month, where has the time gone?
As I do every New Years I evaluate where I am at and where I'm going in all aspects of my life and the theme for this year seems to be "a Year Of Change". How so you may ask,  the biggest change is the fact that my youngest is graduating high school in May. With that comes the choosing of colleges, figuring out how to pay for college and all the stuff that goes with that. The choosing has been done, he will be attending Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI in the fall. He has done really well in high school (time for dad to brag a little he is graduating #14 in a class of around 230 and has a GPA of 4.09). Pretty proud of my son he has worked hard to get where he is at and I know he will continue to do well @ GVSU. Along with him going to GVSU Vicki and I become empty nesters, I'm not really sure how to feel about that. I am excited for Sean as he moves on to the next phase of his life and I am excited for Vicki and myself as we move into a different phase of our life also. No more having to wait on the school schedule to plan vacations or work schedules if we want to do something on the weekend. But, along with the excitement comes a feeling of oh I don't know wistfulness maybe. We have been married for 27 years and for 24.5 of those years we have had children around it's just going to be different I guess.

             One of the other changes that is going to happen is the fact that I am stepping out of working with the youth at the church I attend. I have been involved with the youth group basically since it was started when my daughter was in 7th grade something like 12 or 13 years. As much as I enjoy hanging with the kids and I know I will miss working with them it is just time, time to let someone else have the blessing of getting to know and guide that group of young people.

            Something that is not going to change is my involvement in the Highland Games, I have a full schedule planned for this year and I'm looking for some improvement in several events. Last year I several of my goals but not all of them so I wasn't really happy with the overall season. I am ready to go right now time to start throwing my body is saying, have you looked outside? my mind says. We still have 3 or 4 feet of snow and it is time for it to leave!! My buddies and myself want to start throwing heavy stuff and flipping trees. Last year we were throwing outside the 2nd week of march and it was 80 degrees, this year so far the best it's been is 42 degrees (today) and way to much snow still on the ground. All I know is Alma is coming and I don't have time for this stupid snow to stick around.  Enough of the rant, I enjoy everything about the Highland Games, the training, the people, the gear and the festivals we perform at. Most importantly is the people I have met a group of men and women in this sport (both as competitors and family/fans) that are truly a great big family, we keep in touch in the off season, worry about each other and rejoice with each other. It is truly an honor to take the field and compete with these people.

              Well that's it for now so long ad God Bless,  Jay

Thursday, November 1, 2012

 Well, It's been months since I last posted. The last time I posted it we were just getting into spring and now we are into fall.

 Alot has happened since I was on here last, I've completed my 2nd season of Highland Games competition ans it went pretty well. I didn't reach all the goals I set for myself but I did hit several of them so overall I'm pretty happy with the way the year went. The most important thing about the season was that we got to spend many weekends with some great people. The big news on the Highland Games front is that they have announced that the 2014 Masters World Championships will be held in Inverness Scotland in September. Vicki and I are already making plans to go both so I can compete but also to fulfill a lifelong dream of both of ours to visit where so many of our family came from. The big question is whether or not we should just do Scotland on this trip or combine it with time spent in Ireland also, fortunately we have about 18 months before we have to really start nailing down plans.

 On the home front our son Sean has started his senior year of high school so we have started the college visit thing along with all of the regular senior year things. I can't believe he's almost ready to graduate and get on with the next phase of his life which also means Vicki and I will also be moving onto the next phase too. We are getting ready to make the last college visit for the fall next Friday and Grand Valley State University near Grand Rapids. Then it is time for alot of talking with Sean about his goals and help him navigate through all the things he has to consider. He is a really good kid with a good head on his shoulders and he has a pretty good idea of what he wants. I think our role will be more of encouragement as he makes his decision.

 It's been almost 2 years since I completed my weight loss journey of 100 lbs and I have done pretty well keeping it off but recently I have allowed a few pounds to creep back on so it's back to the program of really watching what I eat and continued workouts. I have really been exploring eating alot more natural foods and staying away from the processed stuff. I'm struggling a little bit as far as really trying to maintain my weight but still eating enough of the right things to be able to continue to gain strength to improve my performance in the Highland Games. I think it probably of combination of refocusing and realizing that as long as the weight I carry is lean (muscle) versus fat it is OK to weight 235- 240 lbs vs 210 to 220 lbs. You definitely eat differently when you are just trying to lose weight vs trying to gain the strength needed to compete on a high level.  That's it for now I'll try to be a little more regular about posting.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Games are A Comin'

  Well it is March 21 and spring has officially sprung even though it feels like it is summer. We have been in the 70's and even some low 80's for a week now. Another sure sign that is spring is here is that I have been able to start training outside for the highland games competitions this summer already. We practiced outside Sunday and had a great time. I was a little rusty but it felt good to actually start throwing heavy stuff. I have been working hard in the off season to get stronger and on my technique. I t seems to have paid off, in the first practice I threw the weight over bar higher than I did at the end of last season and I have added the double spin to my throws in the heavy and light weights for distance. Those still need ALOT of work but at least I'm using 2 spins and I am throwing as far as I did with 1 spin last year. As I refine the technique I'm sure those distances will become greater so I feel pretty good about where they are right now.

  Last night we had the wrestling banquet for the high school wrestling team and Sean recieved his varsity letter. I'm so happy for him you don't just get your letter in wrestling you really have to work hard for and achieve certain goals. He has worked through illness and some minor injuries to achieve those goals and he is already in the gym lifting to get stronger for next year. He was able to wrestle varsity a few times this season and was able to get a key win for the team in team districts this year. I don't know who was more excited him or me. Well have to get to work more later.

                                                                                        God Bless, Jay