Happy Holidays from the Lavender-Mulkey Clan!

Wow, 2017 is about to come to an end, and in some respects, none too soon. But despite the extraordinary political challenges we’ve confronted in our nation this year, 2017 has been a fulfilling time in many ways for our little family.

On January 21, Gracelyn, Shonnie, and Bruce joined thousands of Ashevillians in the local Women’s March, uniting with millions of others in the U.S. and beyond to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change. “Build bridges, not walls” was a common refrain throughout the joyful march.

Gracelyn’s scarecrow created in her Evergreen art class

In late August, Gracelyn entered the first grade at Evergreen Community Charter School, where the curriculum is based on Expeditionary Learning, an educational approach created through a partnership between Harvard Graduate School of Education and Outward Bound, USA. While it took some time to settle into the new routine, Gracelyn now looks forward to each day, especially lunch and recess, though art comes in a close second. Shonnie volunteers each week to read with Gracelyn’s classmates and help out in art, while Bruce serves as the co-chair of the Equity Leadership Team, a group that is working to create greater racial and cultural equity at Evergreen. Speaking of reading, some of Gracelyn’s favorite books include the Little House on the Prairie series (a gift from her sister Lilla), Elephant and Piggy books, Bedtime Stories for Rebel Girls, and her two books of Shel Silverstein poems. During the spring Gracelyn participated in her Ballet Conservatory of Asheville recital at Diana Wortham Theatre. And in early August, she played the role of Brave Girl #1 in a local production of the Broadway musical Peter Pan Jr. Gracelyn listened to the CD of the production almost every day and learned all the lines and songs of every character in the play . . . and so did Shonnie and Bruce. 😊 On September 7, 2017, Gracelyn turned seven-years-old and celebrated with friends and classmates at the local putt-putt golf course, one of her new passions.

Lilla, Bruce’s older daughter, and her husband Brandon Newton (now a full colonel in the Army) will wind up their three-year tour in Seoul, South Korea in 2018. They’re getting accustomed to the empty nest as their kids (our grandkids) are now both in college–Jack a freshman at The University of Texas Dallas, where he is on the cross-country team, and Molly a senior at Colorado State University, who will graduate with a degree in microbiology in 2018. We had chance to visit with all the Newtons in Fort Collins, Colorado last spring and will be very glad to have Lilla and Brandon back in the States.

Shonnie continues her work as a parent coach, working remotely with moms (and some dads) from around the world. Her Conscious Moms Circle on Facebook now has 2700+ members, and her popular parenting videos have been viewed by hundreds of folks worldwide. Plus, Shonnie’s blog offers dozens of helpful tips for more conscious and peaceful parenting, including “Have happier holidays with your family” and “How we can become more empathetic.” Even so, she still takes time to go on trail runs on the nearby mountain footpaths and has been participating in an improv class in which she gets to demonstrate her quick-wittedness and sense of humor. Of course, hanging out with Gracelyn remains a top priority, and she and Bruce work in a date night on a semi-regular basis.

Bruce has reached a milestone on his memoir project. Tentatively titled A Tale of Two Fathers: The True Story of One Man and His Two Daughters Born 42 Years Apart, his 50+ page book proposal is now in the hands of a NYC literary agent who is ideal for this project and will hopefully agree take the project on. Via contributions to The Huffington Post, OpEd NewsSelfGrowth.com, and The Good Men Project, Bruce also continues to speak out on the issues of the day, including the current state of our nation (“We shouted out who killed democracy, when after all it was you and me.”) and aging (“I don’t mind growing old; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”)  Though Bruce has slacked off on trail running, he continues to play handball, a twice-weekly ritual capped off by steam and a long shower. His new musical passion is the Avett Brothers, an American folk-rock band from Concord, North Carolina. Here’s a link to a poignant story about our family’s response to an Avett Brothers tune on a recent Saturday night.

Fun trips during the past year!

  • Colorado in April to visit Grandma Deb and Bruce’s daughter Lilla, Lilla’s husband Brandon, and grandkids Molly and Jack, a trip that included a visit to Molly’s college campus (Colorado State University) and a snowshoeing trek in the Rocky Mountains

    Molly, Gracelyn & Lilla

  • Shonnie and Gracelyn’s July train trip to Maryland to visit Shonnie’s brother Jason, Jason’s wife Courtney, their new baby Charlotte, and Jason’s kids Jason, Jr. and Marissa
  • Whitewater rafting on the Pigeon River in Tennessee in July
  • A great view of the total solar eclipse on August 21 near Brevard, NC
  • Shonnie’s two business trips during which Bruce and Gracelyn learned to manage without Mom for the first time in their lives

Great visits from out-of-town friends and relatives during the past year!

Grandma Deb

  • Grandma Deb Lavender—twice!
  • Bobby Bennett, our dear friend from Austin
  • Stewart Horn, Bruce’s long-time pal from Tullahoma days
  • Loyd Kinnett, who, with her husband Ken (now deceased), welcomed us to western North Carolina 20 years ago and since that time played a huge role in our lives

Well, that’s it for now. The Lavender-Mulkeys wish you a happy holiday season and a New Year that brings deeper connections with family and friends, stronger community bonds, and a renewal of true democracy throughout our nation.

May peace be with you and yours!

Gracelyn, Shonnie and Bruce

Chez Lavender-Mulkey

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  • AbbyBates

    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to All three of you!