Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Summertime Begins

Sometimes you need a little Hill Country--and your favorite people, Dairy Queen, and Garth Brooks' Ropin' the Wind CD playing from beginning to end.
I'm so happy that summertime is here. (Is summertime one word or two? If it's two, I apologize. Spell check is not correcting me though, so I can only assume it's right.) School is great and all, but man... spring is a busy time. And so is fall for that matter. I'm happy to significantly shorten the list of places I have to be at a certain time and things I have to do. Okay, I still have a lot to do, but my schedule is more flexible at least!

We're only a week and a half in, but it's been good for the most part. All good except for the fact that some days my kids just like to relentlessly annoy each other just for the sake of being annoying--all the while insisting that they are not doing said thing to annoy the other person. Yeah... except for that, it's been great. So far, we've seen the Lego Movie, been to a couple library events, swam at the neighborhood pool a lot, and done a little geocaching. (Does anyone else geocache?) We've tried not to watch much TV or play a lot of video games, though I confess that tonight I just let the TV stay on after time was up because they're happily watching The Munsters and I need to get a bunch of work done. 

The kids and I drew up a summer calendar and have been adding things here and there for the rest of the summer. I think it's going to be fun!

Monday, June 9, 2014

End of School 2014

The 2013-2014 school year was great for everyone, and it's hard for me to believe it's over (though don't be mistaken--I'm glad it's over). The kids had their class parties on Wednesday, and then went back on Thursday for their last day of school.
Carson had Ms. Bratcher as his 2nd grade teacher. The beginning of the year was a bit of a struggle for him (which was weird because he had no issues at all for Kinder and 1st grade), but Ms. Bratcher kept encouraging him to work on his self-control, and the second half of the year he did awesome! He tested for the GT program and was accepted, and this boosted his confidence and his behavior in a big way. He was only part of the program for a few weeks but he loved it so much. He got high A's all year long!
Abby had Mrs. Gilstrap for her 4th grade teacher, and she adored her. Abby had some struggles academically this year in math and reading comprehension, but Mrs. Gilstrap was the sweetest teacher and was very helpful and encouraging. With her help and the help of Mrs. Brown, Abby's tutor, Abby made it through the dreaded STAAR test with no problems and then sailed through the rest of the school year!

We're so thankful for the wonderful teachers that we were blessed with as well as the great administration at Ward Elementary--Mrs. Nelson is one of the best principals I have ever seen! It was a really fruitful year for both of our kids, but now we're looking forward to summer!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Pre-Summer Vacation

The last week of May, Aaron got a little surprise in his email inbox--free tickets for four to an Astros game as a thank you for some petition he'd signed two years ago. We try and go to a game at least once a season (some years we make it, others we don't), and since we're trying to beef up our emergency fund this year, this was going to be one of those don't make it years. He came home all excited about the possibility, and then we realized the game was on Carson's birthday. I mean, how fun would that be to go to an Astros game on his birthday? So we found a good deal on a hotel, and decided that we'd pull the kids out of school early on the 29th and head for Houston for a little pre-summer mini-vacation.
 Icees may or may not have been the best decision, but hey, they had fun, right?
We walked to the game from our downtown hotel and got there early so that we could watch batting practice. I used that time to take a lot of pictures an annoy everybody.
Since it was his birthday, as we were sitting there, I decided it would be fun to recreate this picture that we took on/near Carson's 4th birthday now that it was his 8th birthday.
We were sitting in the sun and it was crazy hot, but once the sun went down and I got a Diet Coke, I had a great time! It turned into a beautiful night and was so much fun.

This was also the first Astros game we'd been to where are kids were old enough to get into it and know what was going on. The Astros played a great game and both kids--Carson, especially--really got into it!

I feel like this is one of those pictures that will be a treasure years from now. The baseball, the holding hands... it's a little blurry, but I love it.
 On the walk back to the hotel, we came across a chicken and waffle. Why not take a picture, right?!
It was after 10:30 when we got back, and when the kids asked if we could go swimming, I said what the heck... let's go! It was a gorgeous night on the roof of our hotel and the kids (obviously) had fun.
The next morning, we woke up and enjoyed breakfast at the hotel, then we got on the road and headed to Galveston. I'd been just dying to go to the beach for months and months now, so I insisted (though to be honest, I didn't really meet any resistance--at all) that we go.
 I mean, I know that compared to Florida, Texas beaches are not really that great, but there's just something about the sand and the waves that's so relaxing! That and the kids love playing in the water, and it totally wears them out. We all had so much fun building sandcastles, swimming, and chasing a huge school of fish that came right up near us. (It was a hoot watching Aaron and Carson jumping after them!)
If I'm being totally honest though, as much as I love Galveston because of the water and the waves, this is my real reason for going there--Shrimp & Stuff. This place is for real. I am not a fan of seafood, but this place rocks my socks. I would eat there every day. Two words--stuffed shrimp. I've been craving it since we went there last--that's four years, people. It's worth the drive from wherever you may happen to live--in my humble, not really seafood loving opinion.
After lunch, we went back to the beach for an hour or so before a big storm blew in and we (and the coast guard/beach security people) thought it best for us to head home, and the kids were asleep before we even left the island.

It was a quick trip, but totally worth the day and a half out of school (by this point all they were really doing was watching movies and doing crafts all day every day). Yay for baseball and beaches and seafood!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Birthday Weekend

For months, the kids have been dreaming of and planning their perfect birthday parties. There have been lots of ideas thrown out there. Should we go to Peter Piper with all our friends from school? Should I have a sleepover with my best friends? But finally, Abby and Carson both decided that what they really wanted was to celebrate their birthdays with their cousins.

Since both kids' birthdays are in May, we just decided we'd do it all in one weekend, so on Friday, the kids and I went to pick up Jerah and Andre (Benjamin and Amorette stayed behind) to begin cousins weekend. They spent the night and then the next morning we picked up Jackson, Reagan, and Madison and started the party! First, we went for Happy Meals and playtime at McDonald's.

Ready to go build bears!
Then we headed over to Build-a-Bear Workshop at La Cantera for the party. Everyone had an awesome time!
So many choices...

"Rub the hearts on your cheeks so they can always have smiles..."

Abby and her rainbow bunny, "Stella"

Carson and his camouflage bear, "Camo"

Uncle Aaron helping Madi and Andre bathe their puppies

The finished bears... and bunnies... and puppies

Game time!

Andre, Carson, Abby, Jerah, Jackson, Madi, Reagan
After Build-a-Bear, we headed home for cake, and then everyone played together and had a great time. Later, we ventured to the neighborhood pool for an afternoon swim, then it was pizza for dinner, and then a movie. One by one, everyone fell asleep and I'm pretty sure they were all asleep by 8:30 or 9:00.
"Happy birthday to you!"

Cake time!

We all thoroughly enjoyed our weekend with these great kids! Love 'em all! Now I'll just go take a nap and clean up the mess later. ;)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Catalyst & Stuff Weekend

Aaron and I had the awesome last minute opportunity to attend the Catalyst Conference in Dallas this year. As luck would have it, everything fell into place so that we could go. The kids got to stay for a few days with Ammie & Poppy, and we took off for Dallas.
We went up a little early so that we could go spend the afternoon with Nanny & Pawpaw. We had a wonderful time sitting on their couch and talking with them for a few hours. I wish we lived closer. It was Pawpaw's birthday too, so that was fun!

After the afternoon with them, we went and met my dad in Allen so that we could take him out for his birthday. We had the best fajitas ever at Uncle Julio's, and then finished the night off with ice cream at Cold Stone. Loved hanging out with my dad, and (again) I wish we lived closer.
The next two days, we were at Catalyst Dallas and it was so good. We heard great talks from Patrick Lencioni, Francis Chan, Jenn Hatmaker, and many many more.

Aaron with Patrick Lencioni
Worship with Jesus Culture
It was a wonderful few days that really recharged our batteries on a personal level. Much needed.

After the conference was over, we went and stayed the night in Howe so that we could go to Brendon and Madison's baby shower the next day. It was good to go and celebrate the coming of baby Landon and to catch up with family.
Brendon & Madison

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jewelry Workshops

Our dear friend, Francesca, gave me the sweetest gift for Christmas. She told me I could take one of her classes for free. (She has a great art studio/gallery--Roadhouse Arts--that is awesome!) In the end, she let me take Beginning Soldering and the following Next Steps Soldering class. I never thought I'd be one to enjoy jewelry making, but I had the best time! 
Jewelry I made in my beginning soldering class

Francesca said my "earrings needed a selfie". Ha! Well, here it is.

The ring I did on day two!

Making earring wires. Isn't the flame pretty?
Finished product!
The ring turned out a little (a lot) bigger than I typically wear, but my inner big haired preacher's wife loves it!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Wedding Weekend

We'd been looking forward to April 4th for a while. Not only were our good friends Brandon & Brittany getting married (she was one of our former youth), but some of our very best friends, the Phelps' were coming in to town--all of them--for the first time since they moved five years ago! The wedding was so fun, and we were honored to be involved. I did the photography and Aaron officiated. It was fun celebrating with old friends and we all had a great time!
Lauren and Terra at the wedding

Terra and Brittany

Aaron officiates the ceremony

Brittany & Brandon

The wedding was Friday night, and we spent the rest of the weekend hanging out with the Phelps and the other Powers crew.

The boys reunited
"Bobby and Lala" together again!
The girls and I went upstairs for a while to pull up a few old pictures for a good laugh. They ended up helping me put together a slideshow of a bunch of old pictures to play for everyone downstairs.  We had a really good laugh at all the funny pictures and happy memories!

And, of course, we had to take a few minutes for a family portrait session. (It was a little easier now that everyone's bigger!)