Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

We have had so much fun getting ready for Christmas and spending lots of time doing fun things as a family. Brian & I are enjoying a couple weeks off work so we can just relax, play and shop!

Our shopping this year has been different. I've known this in my heart, but I didn't start to "own" it until this year I think... the fact that giving gifts that are more than we can afford, in the name of "generosity" is actually very dishonoring to God. Our money is not our money... it is God's and nothing pleases Him more than obedience. "To obey is better than sacrifice..." (I Sam. 15:22). Displeasing my Savior is not worth the temporary satisfaction of knowing the gift we gave was the biggest & best. I am such a people-pleaser and Brian's love language is gifts, so it has been hard for both of us to accept this truth. Even now as I type, I'm planning to return a few things tomorrow that we bought that were not good stewardship of our money.

Brian & I have some very different opinions about things this time of year and it always gives us a lot of good conversations during Christmas-time that sometimes end with us agreeing to disagree. Thankfully we agreed this year that we would try to emphasize GIVING and try to minimize GETTING so our kids will hopefully not get so caught up in all the "me, me, me." Easier said than done. I feel like we've already failed. It's not too late, it's only the 22nd. We still have a few days to try to save this Christmas from being one more Christmas down the drain of commercialism, consumerism and greed.

One thing we've done that has been good is What God Wants for Christmas. Thanks Mom for this great idea. If you are looking for a hands-on way to share the Christmas story with young kids, this is a simple way. We are opening one box per night for 7 nights. The two older girls have been taking turns opening the boxes each night. Tonight it was Tatum's turn to open box 4. The past few nights we've opened Gabriel, Mary & Joseph. Avery has been saying all day she hoped tonight would not be baby Jesus, because she wanted to be the one to open that one. She started crying when Tatum opened up box 4 and sure enough, there was sweet baby Jesus inside! Thankfully God has blessed Tatum with a wonderful sharing heart and she sweetly let Avery hold baby Jesus right after she pulled him out of the box. Anyway I'm thankful for this new little tradition we've started that gets our focus on Jesus, even if it's just for 10 minutes each night.

We've also done alot of driving around looking at Christmas lights. We saw one house last week that pretty much ruined every other house & neighborhood in all of Houston. It was amazing. If you live in Houston, email me and I'll give you directions. Your Christmas will not be complete without driving by this house!

Yes, that was all ONE house! I heard they are the developers of Memorial City Mall, which is my favorite mall in the whole world, so you can tell they have good taste (all the candy, hehe!)

I am overwhelmed with joy at this life I live. I sometimes sit back and reflect on who I am and what life I lead and I have to catch my breath when I realize this is me. Me, the little girl who had so many big dreams. I am where I've always wanted to be. The life I am living out each day is truly my dream life. My heart is filled to the brim with love for my Lord Jesus for giving me this life, for my husband & kids for being the fulfillment of my dreams, for this house and all that is in it for making this lifestyle all work, for my family for being behind the scenes supporting us in so many ways, for my friends adding laughter & companionship as we journey through life.

My oldest friend Bekah is having her first baby tomorrow morning by C-section. It's a girl and her name will be Aubrey. Bek & I drank from sippy cups together when we were tiny. We have a picture of us when we were probably about one year old sitting together in a big recliner and another picture of us graduating from kindergarten together and of course, many pictures of us growing up and graduating from high school together. I can't wait to get to SA next week to hold that little girl and see my sweet Bekah as a momma! My second oldest friend, Brooke, had her first baby boy Charlie, a couple weeks ago. Brooke & I became friends in kindergarten. She's in NY now so I don't know when I'm going to meet Charlie, but I already love him so much. My college roommate had her second baby last week, a boy named Judah. Kristin & her twin Kelly, were my roomies at A&M. I always watched their friendship as sisters and was amazed by it. There is just something about sisters that amazes me. And those two are some of the sweetest, most genuine sisters I've ever known. Oh and I've been friends with them since elementary school too.

So much joy in those families that I have known my whole life. So much sadness in other families right now. A couple different friends & family going through great physical pain & uncertainty, others who are in very difficult financial circumstances, family members missing the ones we've lost in the past year, co-workers & students who desperately need JESUS to show them the reason they are here, the list goes on.

Lord Jesus, let us not be like the innkeepers at the time of your birth.... Let us all make room for You this Christmas... Let us not get lost in the world's ideas of shopping, eating, watching TV, forgetting You... May the cry of a new precious baby boy born 2000 years ago awaken our hearts throughout these next few days and may we praise You as we celebrate this wonderful time of the year.... You alone are our hope.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Happy December!

I could not wipe the stupid grin off my face yesterday. I tried, but to no avail. The white flakes of snow falling from the sky in Houston made me feel so happy, I forgot all about the rude emails I just got at work and the soreness that will not leave my throat no matter how much nyquil I take and the never-ending mess that is my house right now. All of it forgotten. We were with some friends for Bible study yesterday and the kids had so much fun having snow ball fights and pretending like they were northerners for a few hours.

Look at all the snow on my windsheild! I called Martin to tell him about it and he scolded me for not having an ice scraper (or whatever that tool is called). Ha! Look at the trees and the roofs of the houses! I still can't believe how beautiful it was!

Tatum's first snowball!

Laney did not like the snow that much, maybe because her negligent mother forgot her shoes, so she's in her socks! Don't worry, I only let her sit there for about 10 seconds. Thank you Lord for blessing Houston with a little taste of real winter. WE LOVED IT!

We went to SA for Thanksgiving last week and had a great time relaxing and being taken care of by my family for a few days. The girls all got a stomach bug for about 24 hours each, but thankfully they were troopers and we still had a fun time. Mom, Avery & I got to go see The Nutcracker downtown put on by a professional ballet company. It was beautiful to watch the dancers in all thier costumes and doing such amazing things on the tips of their toes! I will never understand how that is humanly possible, but it is beautiful to watch. Avery enjoyed it so much and still talks about the nutcracker and the mouse king and the sugar plum fairy almost every day. My brother's girlfriend, Tracie, gave our girls the most awesome gift: a computer loaded with all kinds of educational games that her kids had outgrown! Tracie sat down with Avery and showed her some of the games on it and Avery was in heaven! It is now set up next to our computer here in our study and Avery can come sit at the desk and turn it on and go to town all by herself! What an unexpected, amazing blessing!

This is about as good as it gets for a family picture of us!

Heres Nana & Papa with the girls

Here's my MeMe & PawPaw with the girls. Laney has MeMe's eyes, which are also my Dad's eyes. She's a "Lewis." I love how genetics works.

My mom MADE these adorable PJ's for the girls, with matching pillowcases for each one too!

Tatum has been doing really good at keeping her pull-ups dry so we ventured out to Target today in big girl panties and she did great! I am so proud of her and I am so glad that I'm only paying for diapers for one child now. That is another blessing, that I am JUST NOW paying for diapers again. Back before Laney was born, Brian's baseball team gave us a diaper shower (click here to see that post), and those diapers lasted us until about two weeks ago when Laney was 10 months old, I had to buy our first box of diapers again. Brian and I estimated it was probably almost $1000 worth of diapers and wipes we were given. We have thanked God so many times for that amazing blessing.

My little pee pee princess!

This girl knows how to enjoy a cupcake!

Laney is officially weaned. I must admit it has been a bittersweet experience. I am thrilled that she will take a bottle now and I can leave her with someone else for more than 3 hours at a time, but I am sad because it means she's not a baby anymore. She is growing up so fast. She has already taken her first steps, although I wouldn't say she is walking. I think she will figure out walking any day now. I had to put away the 12 month clothes last week and get her 18 month things out. She is almost too big for size 3 diapers so I am going to finish this box and move her into size 4, which is the same size Tatum wears to bed. I took her to the doc last week and she weighed 22 pounds! She had a double ear infection, poor thing, so we got some antibiotics and she is doing alot better. Here she is showing off her two top teeth! Sorry for the snotty nose!

Silvermist and Tinkerbell had lots of fun helping decorate our new house for Christmas!

One night last week when I was tripping over all the pairs of shoes that were all over the downstairs, I asked Avery to pick up all the shoes and put them by the stairs so we could all take them up before bed that night. I thought she would just pile them up at the bottom of the stairs, which would've been fine, but this is what I found when I walked by the stairs later on. Can you say OCD? They are arranged in order too. Her furry boots are at the top, I guess because they are special. Then Daddy's shoes are on the next step, Mama's shoes are on the next step and all the rest of the girls' shoes are all on the last step. I know God will use her organized, systematic little gifts for a special purpose one day!

Off to work on Christmas cards, and to call my dear friend, Jennifer, for her birthday today! Hope it's been a wonderful day, Jen! Your friendship encourages me more than you will ever know and we are going to take that birthday vacation together when we're 35, okay!? Let's start planning now!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dewberry Farm

Today was our annual Dewberry Farm trip and I think we enjoyed it more this time than we ever have before. It's so much fun doing stuff with kids, so I'm really glad God gave me three of them because they sure make life so much more fun. I've actually heard my mouth tell several people lately that I would have 2 or 3 more kids if Brian would let me because they are just so much fun! I don't know what to do with that thought, but it's out there so we'll see what God has for us.
Anyway, It was such a beautiful day today and the crowds today weren't nearly as bad as the last time we went, and I ran into a few new friends from the running club I recently joined, so it was just all around a great day. (Yeah, I just said running club. I am hoping they will help motivate me to get my rear back in shape. When I remind myself that i ran a 26.2 mile marathon 4 years ago and now I can barely run 2 miles without cramping up & quitting, I feel really sad that I've let my fitness go. The girls are all moms like me and they like running and some of them are trying to train for a half-marathon or some other event, so I'm just excited to see where it takes me.) Anyway, back to Dewberry Farm. Here are some of my favorite pictures from today.

Precious girls finding precious minerals

My middle pumpkin

A nice family on the hayride took our family's picture:

You can see all our pigtails in these pictures. Laney's were too cute!

I love Laney in this picture. She was on the bale of hay.

I can't believe we got them all to actually look at the camera at the same time. I'd pick them all!

Avery played on the swings in the hay FOREVER!

I remember when Avery wore these overalls that Tatum has on. I thought they were the longest overalls I had ever seen. Now my little Tate is about to outgrow them!!

We showed up to the "Dairy Classroom" just in time to see the farmer milk this precious jersey cow named Annabel. She looked into my eyes and she knew that I knew. We had a moment. We understood each other. I've never felt such an inner bond with a cow before.

They must have gone down this roller slide 87 times.

Thanks Dewberry Farm for another fun fall day! We'll be back next year.

Prayer Request: Please say a prayer for my sweet Dad. He started bleeding again today similar to what happened a couple years ago when he lost all the blood in his body and we almost lost him. Thankfully he is stable and he is staying in the hospital tonight for observation, but no one knows what is causing the bleeding. Pray that God will heal him and pray for my mom & dad to be comforted and at peace. THANKS so much!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

All About Avery..

Purple pajama party!!

So what did the tooth fairy do for Avery's first tooth? I happened to have this cute note card in my stationary stash, so here's the note that was under her pillow when she woke up, along with $1.00 and a page of cute pumpkin stickers (they were put on the note later on). Thankfully she has no concept of money, so she thought she was rich with her $1.00 bill. She very proudly put it in her piggy bank. Both this note and her tooth are now safely tucked away in her baby box.

I can't believe how grown up Avery is getting! She's already named her first future child. Are you ready? "Violetta" will be my first grandchild, and it must be pronounced properly too. "Vee-a-letta", and by the way, my grandma name is going to be "Mammy." I honestly do not know where she comes up with this stuff, but it keeps me smiling. She is such a little momma at heart, and it is so sweet to see how she gently leads her flock of sisters throughout the day.

She had her last soccer game on Saturday, and although she really improved throughout the season and she tried her best, she really did not like soccer. She told me very matter-of-factly that she would like it if she never had to play soccer again. She told everyone that she was going to do dance instead of soccer now. I'm hoping she "gets" dance a little better than she did soccer! It's so funny how God works... I am absolutely thrilled at the thought of her being a little ballerina or gymnast, even if that is the furthest thing in the world from what I would naturally have chosen for her to do. I have had so much fun researching the different dance classes around town and seeing all the fun things she will learn. I can't wait to see where it is she finds her niche.
So along with dance, she has recently began caring very much about what she wears. I guess I'm lucky I've made it until she's 4.5 before she's started caring b/c I know alot of little girls care much much earlier! She has been so laid back up until now and put on anything I chose for her, but lately she has only wanted dresses, no jeans, no pants, no leggings, just dresses. So I took her to the resale store to see if we could find a few cute dresses to satisfy her, and this is the dress that caught her eye. She had to have it. I would never have chosen it myself, but she loved it, so I paid $8 for it and we took it home. She LOVED herself in it. And I must admit, I have begun to love it too, if only because it is so "her" right now. It is bright neon yellow/green with a tie around the neck and a big pink flower pin on the side. Here she is before church this morning in all her glory:

These cowboy boots on Tatum are the single greatest joy in my life whenever she wears them. She wears them with everything and it makes me so happy to see them on her cute little self. Tatum is just plain cute. There is nothing you can do about it.

Here's the girls in their bunk beds!

Tatum is not allowed to get in Avery's bed, so sometimes Avery gets in Tatum's bed to snuggle.

Tonight I got to witness Brian, the Tooth-master, at work. After brushing her teeth, he & Avery were looking in the bathroom mirror, just wiggling the second loose tooth around. Then he told Avery to scream & yell, and as she was enjoying hearing herself scream he yanked her second tooth out of her mouth! I thought to myself, that is genius! My man has skills! So here she is tonight with her TWO bottom teeth missing.

The adult tooth from the one that came out last week is already peeking through her gum and my goodness, is it crooked! I guess we better start saving up for braces!

Laney is doing great too, I just don't have any pics of her to post right now. (Mom, could you send me the one of her in her Rosetta costume??) I need to get a picture of her toothy grin because it brings tears to my eyes, it is so cute. She is almost 10 months old and standing up on her own. She took one step by herself a couple days ago, so I think it won't be long until she figures out how to walk. Today when I told her "i love you," she said "i luv" very clearly. I'm not lying. I so wish I had it on video. She lights up our day and gives me more reasons to smile than I deserve.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Much Ado About Teeth

It finally came out! I don't know what Brian did, but while he was helping her brush her teeth tonight, the tooth finally decided to fall out! I was downstairs watching the Kate special on TLC so I didn't even hear the commotion until they got downstairs. I told Brian that my parents always made us gurgle warm saltwater when we lost a tooth, so he got Avery a HUGE glass of VERY salty water and told her to gurgle it. She took one sip and spewed it out on the kitchen floor. I don't blame her. I fondly remember the yucky taste of saltwater, mixed with the inner excitement of knowing what a huge accomplishment it was to lose a tooth. Anyway, Avery was so excited and proud of herself! And I must say, I am so proud of her. My brave little Ave!

Now we need to go figure out what the tooth fairy is going to put under her pillow tonight!! The tooth right next to it is loose too, so whatever we do tonight is going to set the standard for the rest of the three mouths full of teeth that will eventually all fall out. Huge night for us, huh? Er, I mean, the tooth fairy!
Speaking of teeth, Laney's top two teeth just poked through her gum last week. I can't wait until they drop down to where I don't have to hold her lip up to see them.
Lastly, I am so sad for Jon & Kate and their kids. So very sad. I don't know what to make of it, or who to blame for what happened to their marriage and I know that's not my job anyway. I think my job is to pray for them that God will heal their marriage, restore their faith and provide for their needs. Wouldn't that make an awesome tabloid story!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'm Embarrassed Today

Yeah, I probably spelled the title wrong too.

This morning as I packed the girls' lunches for MDO, I realized they are probably as sick of PB&J as I am and probably won't eat it if I do pack it, so I packed the following in each of their lunch bags:

Yogurt & spoon
Nutri-Grain bar
Ritz peanut butter crackers sandwiches
Bag of goldfish(for snacktime)
I almost packed an applesauce but I only had two left and I knew I would need them for tonight at Brian's volleyball game.

Yes, I know these are all snack foods and not really "lunch" but I haven't had a chance to go the grocery store lately and I'm trying to clean out all the excess in the pantry. I had no idea anyone noticed what was packed in a 2 year olds' lunch, anyway.

So around 12:30, the director of the MDO called me on my cell phone while Laney & I were out running errands, and asked me if I knew that there was only a yogurt, granola bar and crackers in Tatum's lunch. I told her I knew that and I thought it would be plenty to fill Tatum up until I picked her up in two hours. She even offered to get Tatum a hot dog from the catered lunches (which I had declined to order for my kids today). I know Tatum and I know she loves yogurt and granola bars and I knew she would be perfectly happy with that lunch and like I said, I would be picking her up in TWO HOURS! Anyway, I assured the director that I thought she would be okay with that lunch and we hung up. I immediately felt the shame and redness creep up my neck into my face and i was so humiliated that they thought I was such a bad mom that I would pack such a lousy lunch for my child! Guess I need to throw a PB&J in there from now on just for show, so that I don't get any more phone calls.

It was in this frame of mind that I went to Target... has it ever bugged anyone else that there are like 30 handicapped parking spots in the front and the regular spots don't start until your nearly a mile away from the store? Seriously, I am all for accomodations, but I have never EVER seen more than 4 cars parked in any of those 30 spots at one time. There should be at least a few spots for "mothers of small children" in their place.

Academy made me happy. Tomorrow is breast cancer awareness day at school and since my good friend and co-worker Carol is battling breast cancer right now, I really wanted to partipate in the activities of the day, so I found a cute "Fight Like A Girl" shirt at Academy that I can wear tomorrow. I think Carol will love it!

I'm pretty glad this day is almost over. Thank you Lord that your mercies are new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness!

Saturday, October 10, 2009


This is my view most of the day. The top of Laney's sweet head. I look at it all the time, but just this week I noticed something new about it...

She has a double crown! One of the crowns is slightly covered by hair in this picture, but it's there. I checked Brian's head and he only has one. I'm pretty sure I only have one too. I think it's so neat that she has this unique genetic trait. Poor thing, I guess it's a testament to her being the 3rd child that it's been staring in my face for the past 9 months, and i just now noticed it. Here's a few other things I like to look at:

This is her "I'm going to eat you" face.

A few things that made me laugh this week:
I love when Avery calls thunder "funder" and when she calls vegetables "begetables."
I love when Tatum says "I amn't going to do...." (Prounounced ament).
I love when Laney says "Dadadadada."
I also caught Avery singing "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart." Except when she got to the second verse, she sang "And if the pebble doesn't like it, he can sit on a tack. Ouch!..."
She's also memorized her first Pearl Jam song, "Just Breathe." I guess when Brian took her to soccer practice on Thursday, that song played and she loved it. She asked him to play it again about 5 more times, and now she can sing every word for you, and with feeling! Even though alot of Pearl Jam stuff is no bueno, they have a special place in our hearts b/c Brian took me to a Pearl Jam concert on our first trip to Houston together, when I met his family for the first time. Something about the sound of Eddie Vedder's voice just makes me feel like a 22-year old falling in love for the first time again. So Pearl Jam we love you, and we pray you will come to know Jesus who will fill all the emptiness in your lives and give you hope.
This was the first week I felt victorious with the laptops in the classroom. A few thoughts about the laptop project so far: My students do not fall asleep in class anymore. They are actively engaged in my class from bell to bell. Granted, they are probably IM-ing each other and rocking out to their i-tunes throughout my class, but they LIKE my class. And I think they have learned a little bit of history too. The only downside is that I do not have time to be lazy anymore. I don't have time to sit at my computer and check my email, I don't even have time to enter my grades or keep up with my lesson plans. I am busy from the minute I get to work until the minute I leave. I sometimes long for the "movie days" or "worksheet days" of previous years. This laptop project is sharpening me and it's a good thing.
I got to play basketball tonight for the first time in months, maybe even a year. It was game night for FCA in our gym. We played knockout about 17 times. I won once. In the finale, I knocked out the star of our varsity boys basketball team. Yep, it felt good. Dont' feel bad for him, he won almost every other game we played. His ego was not harmed. Then we played football and I caught a touchdown pass and a couple other passes. I did a little bit of trash-talking and I was thankful I could relate to the kids this way. And I got them all a bunch of pizza and coke at the end. Super fun day.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Day to Celebrate

Happy birthday to the daddy of our little family. Brian's birthday not only marks the day the Lord created the single great blessing of my entire life, but it also marks the anniversary of our first date... it was 9 years ago today. Can you believe he would want to take me out on a date on his birthday? Wouldn't he rather go out with his family or friends and do something fun? Suprisingly he would rather not. He asked me out for his birthday and I said yes. That was the start of this whole journey of life we are on. He took me to dinner at Bennigan's in College Station and then he took me to play miniature golf at a little place that has since closed down. He won me a little plastic ring in the arcade. I wasn't sure right away that I would marry him, but I was pretty sure I would never ever break up with him.
Here's my man in action tonight at his volleyball game.

Here's one of the cheerleaders:

Daddy's girls

I keep telling him he is destined to be a girls' coach. He's a natural.

Here's another cheerleader

Here's cheerleader #3:

String cheese is a must when you need to keep a 2 year old occupied for a long period of time.
I packed us dinner to eat in the bleachers.

Avery even got to meet the CFHS Eagle! She kept calling it a puppet!

I'm so proud to be an Aggie tonight. I just came across a video of Dude Perfect, a group of guys from Texas A&M who do crazy basketball trick shots. One of their shots is the longest basketball shot ever and could be in the Guiness book of world records. For every 100,000 people who view their camp edition videos on their website, they will sponsor a child through Compassion, which is a ministry I love. So go to their website and watch the long shot and the camp edition. Such cute Aggie guys! I'm so glad I've got me one right here to snuggle up to!