Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Jam Session

There is a wonderful music store in Bastrop that basically will let you hang out and play around with some of the instruments. I was hoping they were open on New Year's Eve, and they were! So, after eating our lunch at the park and trying to feed sleeping geese and ducks who were not interested, we went on over to Owens Music.

It is about as laid back a place as I can imagine. One of the guys in the store turned on a keyboard for the girls, and they took off from there. Next, there were drums. Lots of drums. Apparently, the wee ones have a thing for them. We may have lots of visits to Owens in our future since I don't think the drums will be coming home with us any time soon!

I failed to mention that when we got there, the man who I am supposing to be the owner, was asleep on a couch kinda mixed in with the sheet music. After he woke up, he came over to where we were playing (they actually have a kids play area there with dress-up, games, toys, etc.) and showed Emma and I a few music tricks for learning rhythm. We also got a free piano book out of the deal which Jessie and I can try out as Emma has informed me she's not interested.

Finally, once I smelled an interesting aroma coming from the direction of Aubrie's pull-up, we had to have one last jam session on the drums. The girls were accompanied by an employee on the guitar, the owner on another drum, and I was assigned to the chimes. I hope they let us come back and don't run for cover the next time we show up! I felt badly for the lady behind the desk who was actually trying to get some work done. I so wished for a camera to capture the extremely animated faces of the girls while on the drums - maybe next time.

Monday, December 29, 2008

I Gotta Shake My Booty

No, not me. Our youngest, Aubrie, announced last night as we were getting ready for bed that she had to shake her booty. So, she proceeded to run to her bedroom where she shook it...for a a booty song she made up, apparently. How does she come up with this stuff? She is definitely the family comic, and her sense of comedic timing amazes us - she did NOT get this from me!

Christmas was wonderful here in the Williams house. We had my dad, two sisters, my brother-in-law, his sister, a friend from San Antonio, and my in-laws here at our house for Christmas. It was our first time to host the holiday, and I had a blast!! I would normally get pretty wound up about such a large gathering, but everything was really calm and pleasant - very un-Dee Dee-like. I followed a much-reduced menu that Judy (mom-in-law) gave me. I really don't know how she does this every year. I definitely have a new appreciation for her!

Todd was so sweet and remembered to take a picture of our Christmas Eve food. Judy told me that this tradition started so she didn't have to cook dinner the night before Christmas. So, we have snacks and sweets instead. The girls love it because they get to eat for dinner things that would typically be desert. What could be better than that?

Enjoying the mild weather Christmas Eve

Our friend Peggy's mother lives in Lockhart, only 30 minutes from us, so Peggy brought some of her family up to see us later in the evening. Peggy's mom Frances is 94 years old, very spry and can play anything on the piano in any key. I told Todd it was wonderful that he got me a piano for Christmas a few years back because it would truly have been a shame not to get to hear her play. The girls ran to put on dress-up clothes and danced away for as long as Miss Frances would play, and she knew all kinds of wonderful dancing songs. She also played a ton of Christmas carols - it was a wonderful way to end our Christmas day.

Backtracking just a bit, we really enjoyed lighting our advent wreath each week this year. I think there was added pleasure because Aubrie was old enough to participate. I've looked online for several different ways to celebrate the coming of the Savior and finally just decided to break up the telling of His arrival and the events leading up to it as they are found in Luke. We discuss the birth of John, the angels' visit to Mary, Mary's visit to Elizabeth, and finally, His birth. Next year, however, I'm hoping to be reading out of John's new book. I can't wait! Oh, I also wanted to steal Meredith's mom's idea of wrapping up baby Jesus from the nativity, but I forgot...maybe I'll remember that for next year.

I hope that you and yours had a blessed Christmas and have found or will determine to find time reflect upon what Jesus' coming means. I love the words from a song, "I'll never know how much it cost to see my sins upon that cross." I think that much of the cost was in His coming in the first place, leaving glory, leaving His father. We just couldn't have the cross without His willingness to leave it all to rescue us and to glorify His Father.

'Twas the night before Christmas...

Todd's first ham

Too full to move

Too full to move II

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Chance to Help and Win Something Beautiful

A friend of Todd's from Focus had this on her blog, and I hope I win it! Please stop by her site to go to the donation site and get a chance to win. . . I hope I get it, though. :-) I think the drawing is December 22nd so don't wait too long.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Different Kind of Week

Thanks so much for the Christmas food ideas - I've gotten some really yummy ones for breakfast, and a plan is already coming together! I looked up this online tonight and it was yummy! Again, my normal one is in a box...somewhere...

Have you ever had a week where you just couldn't get things going? I love to feel productive, and on my productive scale, this week stunk. I really LOVE to check things off of my to-do list, and this was just one of those weeks where I'd get some of a task done, but I really couldn't check it off, and it would just linger there, taunting me. I figure there's a lesson in there somewhere that I was supposed to learn, but I mainly just stayed frustrated. The biggest thing was that our van died. It was a minor death, and it was soon back to life, but it interfered with my plans, nonetheless. I think, on top of this, that I was homesick a little. My main evidence for this, besides being awfully teary this week, was that while I was at WalMart, I kept on thinking that I heard people calling me. Now, I either need medical attention, or, my personal theory, is that I'm used to running into people when I go out and keep expecting to see someone I know. Not very likely at this point. So sad, so sad. I know that this is a really long paragraph, but I also have to add that my teariness all started when I discovered one of the sweetest things. My friend Jill had given us a going away present. Now, when glancing into the gift bag, I thought that she had given us a photo album so, like the sometimes procrastinator I am, I had not really looked at it yet in the midst of getting settled. So, Sunday, I pull it out of the bag, and WHAM, I am hit with a flood of tears and couldn't stop. Jill had collected pictures of us and our friends and filled the entire album with a "year in Clinton" theme. She had written comments for just about every picture in there. Now, I've been aware for quite some time that she's a dear friend, but seeing how much our families have done together really overwhelmed me, and quite honestly, I know I took that for granted. So, even though I called her and left an embarrassingly teary message on her voicemail, I wanted to thank her in a more public way for her dear friendship and her sweet family. Thank you, thank you!

Okay. Now that I've gotten all teared up again, there are some more reasons that this week was odd. I visited The Best Little Hair House in Texas this week, and I could barely make the appointment to get my hair cut without laughing! However, Texas name aside, I got a great haircut, and the girls did a great job waiting for me. This was the first time EVER that all three had gone with me for something like this. I had each of them pack a fun bag, and they played in the waiting area like angels. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised! I think it helped that everyone in there was friendly and kept on telling them how good they were being.

Last thing. There are just some things in life that I just never pictured myself doing, like sewing a hat for a cat so that it can have a birthday/welcome to our family party. First of all, I'm allergic. Second, I'm not a cat person. And, third, I can barely sew. We had told Emma that when we got to TX she could have an outside cat so we very promptly found a *free* one (the only way we would get a cat...sorry cat people). Anyway, she planned out the whole thing. She made brownies. (I only measured the oil and vanilla, honestly.) Jessie made *whooped* cream to go on top - this is how she says whipped. She bought Misty, the cat, two outfits at WalMart, and she ordered, I mean commissioned me to make the hat. How can I not post pictures of this monumental event? Oh, and since Misty couldn't have chocolate, we served her a bowl of milk which she LOVED. I have to say she is a very sweet cat, and we really had fun at the party!

Emma making brownies - we had *camped out* earlier that morning...set up the tent in the living room.

The cat.

The cat in the hat.

Monday, December 1, 2008

SOS - Save our Supper!

I'm curious about your favorite holiday-time dinners, dishes, drinks, etc. Trying to be oh-so-wise, we decided that it was not a good idea to unpack everything at the rent house. I still think it was a good decision overall because we have way too much stuff, and the thought of having to pack it all up again in six months when the lease is up is a little daunting, to say the least.

That brings me to the part where my Christmas keepsake book is still in a box somewhere. I keep all my Christmas recipes in this book...

Rather than pout and completely spoil the wonderful season, I decided to see what your favorite things to eat and drink are and if you would share the recipes with me. I usually try to scatter holiday dishes throughout the month since we're kinda big on food around here so I'm up for just about anything.

Besides dinner-type stuff, I'm also looking for a good Christmas morning breakfast dish. We normally eat this wonderful treat called Apple Puff Flapjacks, but maybe it's time for something new. Thanks for the help!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fun With the Fam

Since we are all in Texas, we got to spend Thanksgiving Day with Mary and Micah at their house in San Antonio. Colleen lives a mere few blocks away, and Dad came down from Big D. It was much fun! Aunt Colleen was wonderful and braved the Wednesday traffic to come and pick up the girls a day early so they could spend the night with her. It took them three hours to get back to SA. Scary!! Thank you, Colleen for a great night to ourselves!! It was pretty weird waking up without the girls Thanksgiving morning, but they were full of fun stories and were thrilled to get the extra time with the aunts.

Everyone pitched in and fixed a couple of dishes, and there was so much food. We wound up with quite a crew: Mary, Micah, Colleen, Dad, the girls, Me, Todd, Micah's sister, Melissa, Karanda, Rudy and Ann. Karanda, Rudy and Ann are friends of Mary, Micah and Colleen who wanted to hang out with our crazy family for the holiday. What were they thinking? Oh, and I can't forget the two dogs who about dragged me all over the neighborhood while we were taking them for a walk! (Bishop and Brooklyn) Seriously, the circulation in my hand was cut off trying to keep Brooklyn from running off. She actually did get away from Jessie once, and Emma commented that she was hot and sweaty when we got back because they were so much work!

Karanda holding Emma, Me holding Aubrie, Colleen, Jessie and Mary (Judah is in her tummy.)

Todd is holding Emma in this one - he was napping when we took the full family pic, and Melissa had to go to work before we took the one of the girls.Melissa is holding Emma, and Micah is on Dad's left.

Aubrie and Dad playing a duet.

Well, my goal for this week is to finish unpacking boxes so we can drag out the Christmas stuff. I haven't had much time to devote to what we may do special this month. I think I may keep it simple and just do our advent wreath. The girls love it, and I think it will be so much fun this year since they're older (of course, they're older, it's a year later than last year...) and starting to appreciate the meaning behind things much more. The box thing may be a really lofty goal with how tired I am tonight. Maybe I'll get a good holiday second wind. I could always watch White Christmas or Polar Express to get in the mood!

Friday, November 21, 2008

No News is Good News

Friday night...

Well, since we didn't hear from the attorney's office otherwise, I will assume that our house closed without a hitch. Yeah! We had a rather eventful day yesterday trying to overnight some notarized documents back to MS. Apparently, delivery time with UPS depends upon the area in which you live. For instance, in MS delivery is between 10 and 11 in the morning. Well, delivery time here is guaranteed for 7 in the evening. Thankfully, we got our packet by 4:30, just barely got it notarized at 10 til 5 and dropped it off just a few minutes before the UPS man came by to pick it up. We had a back-up plan in place, but it was such a load off my mind to get it taken care of.

I need to tell you, though, how great the sale of our house was. We had been trying since August, when Todd left for TX, to sell the house by owner, and I had worked and worked and worked on it trying to get it ready for two open houses which were pretty unfruitful. We had finally decided that the time had come to hire a realtor so that we could all be together just a little while ago. A friend from church,
Lonnie, listed the house and was really optimistic about getting it sold. Long story a little shorter, the day Todd was coming home to help us pack up, I saw Lonnie at church. I was joking with him because he had shown the house on Sat., and I had all of about twenty minutes to get it ready. I was shocked when he said that he would probably have two offers for us Monday or Tuesday! The rest is history. Before we left for TX we had a contract on the house. We are so grateful to have that part of our move taken care of!

Now it's Saturday...

We are continuing to get settled here in
Bastrop. I made my first trip (since living here, anyway) into Austin today for a Christmas market that is very similar to MS's Mistletoe Marketplace. The Austin event is put on by the Junior League and is called A Christmas Affair. Much fun! Todd kept the girls all day, and I had a great time. I had some difficulty finding the mall where the shuttle was running, but if it hadn't been for that, I would have been to the market in half an hour - not bad. I love alone time and got to browse and sample to my heart's content. Got lots of great Christmas ideas and got more acquainted with a really neat part of Austin. Since Todd was super wonderful, he encouraged me to explore downtown Bastrop once I was done in Austin. There are some really great antique stores, gift shops and restaurants that I can't wait to visit again. Well, I guess my shopping trips aren't complete without a visit to WalMart so I ended the day there and bought some t-shirts and cute fabric (They still have fabric at this WalMart - so happy.) to make Christmas shirts for the girls for our card pictures. If they turn out well, I'll post pics...I only have until Wed. to find out!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Getting Settled

I realized when I was just reading my last post that I need to post about the sale of our house. I'll try to do that next time. We're supposed to close the 21st so please pray everything goes off without a hitch. Thanks!

I wrote this the other day because I didn't want to forget our first day or so in our new home:

When we pulled into our driveway in Cedar Creek, TX, Sunday night, Aubrie wanted to know where are animals were. In fact, the next few times we pulled into the driveway, she asked again about our animals and where they were. She’s apparently very excited about the prospect and has been paying attention! (By the way, don't know if I've mentioned that the place we're renting has 5 acres, goat fencing and a chicken coop so we're all set.)

Monday was supposed to be cleaning day since the moving van was coming with our stuff on Tuesday. I say “supposed to be” because like most best-laid plans, not much cleaning took place. We were in need of quite a few things from WalMart so we headed off to Bastrop which is about ten minutes away. Now, I wasn’t sure if there was a WalMart, let alone where it was. So, I pulled into McDonald’s, laptop in hand to get on the internet to find out. Todd asked me later why I didn’t just go inside and ask someone, but I really didn’t want to hear the possible answer that there wasn’t one. Turns out, the WalMart is just about a block away from McDonald’s so I was really glad I opted for the internet; that would have been too embarrassing.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to the store with all three kids, and like I said, we needed quite a few things. I was worn out when we were done. We were headed home when we realized we needed to look up a couple of more things online. Back to McDonald’s we go. This is where things really started to go awry. My car wouldn’t start after we were done. So, the nice people next to us give us a jump and back to WalMart we go to have the car looked at. I was pretty proud of myself (first sign of trouble; what's that about pride and a fall?) Now, I had already eaten at McDonald’s the day before (which is difficult for me in the first place), but that’s all there was at WalMart. While they’re checking out the car, we eat our fish and chicken. We then find out that they are not able to detect anything wrong with the car. (Jill, you will remember that this happened once before at church.) However, the nice man at WalMart said that the car was starting now. Off we go again.

I unload the stuff at home only to find out that several of the things I bought were the wrong size – mainly different light bulbs we needed and some sheets. Now this seems minor enough, but it was enough to get me near the edge. What happened next sent me over. We (okay, I) decided that it would be a great idea to put all the girls in the same room to sleep so that we could have a play/school room for them. This was the first sleep time that I had put them all together. Not such a brilliant idea, but remember, I went to WalMart w/three children. I have no brain power left. Skip ahead about half an hour. Aubrie locks the door to the girls’ bedroom, and I can’t get it open. Neither can Emma. I lose it now. There is screaming (I’m sad to say) on my part, tears on theirs, and I call Todd to ask him when he is coming home. While the girls are upstairs not getting a desperately needed nap, I am crying, cleaning the kitchen and wondering how long it takes to get from Buda to Cedar Creek. Meanwhile, the girls are not getting along and Jessie scratches Emma’s face – looks like she was in a fight with a cat. Lovely. I'm now feeling like the worst mom ever. Ever.

Anyway, in the midst of my meltdown, I thought about Africa. I thought about how much more stressful the days’ events would have been in a different culture, in a different language (that I wouldn’t know very well, if at all), where there is no WalMart (not that I'm a particular fan of WalMart; it's just so good and cheap). I have to say, and not in a trite way at all, that the last of my Africa grief is gone. I am now very content to allow the Lord to work out His plans for our future in His timing. And that, despite the days events, was very valuable to me.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

So Much to Say, So Little Time

Things have been so busy lately that I've barely had time to read a blog let alone post to my own. Let me catch everyone up really quickly, and I'll try to do better in a week or so.

Todd came home Sunday to help get us packed up for our move to Cedar Creek, TX. Monday, we changed our movers and our load date to Friday. Tuesday, our realtor came to our house with two offers on our house. Wednesday, we signed a contract on our house. Today we continued to pack like crazy. Todd is still there while I sit at Judy and Jerry's house with the girls asleep (finally) and get caught up on the blog world that I've missed. After the truck comes tomorrow, we'll spend another night here and then head to Grand Prairie.

We'll stay there a night and then head to our TX house on Sunday. The plan is to clean, sleep on air matresses and hope to get some sleep until our stuff gets there on Tuesday. So, I may not be back for a while. I have all kinds of pictures from our church's fall fest which was so much fun that I'd like to post when I get the chance - may be close to Thanksgiving by the time that happens!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tribute to Uncle Larry

Sorry, I took the pictures off because they were causing the whole page to jump. Maybe I can put them back later...

Todd's Uncle Larry passed away last night, and Todd is driving as I type to come back to MS so we can all ride to Dothan, AL, tomorrow. I expect he will sleep most of the way there since he didn't get back to Buda until 11:40 last night. I hope you enjoy the pictures from our cousin Kristy's wedding. They are just a little taste of Larry's incredible handiwork, and I thought it would be nice to share their beauty. Ironically, the wedding was over a year ago, and I just ordered these pictures yesterday which were ready for in-store pick-up today. I was just cleaning out my emails and realized that I had never ordered any of these great pictures that cousin Patty took. I'm so glad that I did so that I can post them tonight.

The wedding was absolutely beautiful, but my favorites have to be the lemon topiary trees. Once the sun went down, all the lanterns, candles and luminaries were lit, and it was even more amazing - truly a dreamland.

I would have posted some snapshots of our wedding from eleven years ago which Larry also did, but those are all packed up along with tons of other books and pictures so that our office doesn't scare people who come to see the house. Someday really soon, when we're all settled, I'll try to remember to post those, too.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Perfect Fall Day

We had a surprise visit this weekend! Todd called on Wed. morning and told us he was headed our way. He got here early Thursday morning (like 1 am early) and was able to stay almost all weekend. We didn't tell the younger two that he was coming home because I wanted to see their reactions when they woke up with him in the house. Before I knew that he was coming, I had told Jessie that she could sleep in the bed with me. I warned Todd that if/when she woke up during the night not in Mommy's bed, that we might have a visitor. Sure enough, at 4 am she comes to our room wanting to know why she was still in her bed. Finally, I got her attention so I could show her that Daddy was in the bed. She climbed up there so fast and was the cutest little cuddle buddy. I don't think we could have pried her from that bed if we'd wanted to. We didn't want to, of course. Aubrie joined us later that morning, and her reaction was equally as precious. Emma had made plans to spend the night with a friend, but we got in some special time with her Thursday afternoon.

We crammed in as much "Daddy Time" as we could. It was so wonderful to have him home for a while and so hard to say good-bye today. Since we weren't with him on his birthday last weekend, we had a little party of sorts today. Jerry had been home in Dothan, AL, and came back with one of our favorite things - oysters. Now, one of the things that Todd claims sealed the deal in our relationship was that I ate oysters on the half-shell. We love them, and so do the girls. Well, Aubrie hasn't quite made up her mind, but Emma and Jessie are on board. Todd and Jerry shucked them in our backyard, and we couldn't have planned a better day for an outside meal. The weather was so nice and cool and no bugs! It was great to not have to spray the girls down before we went out.

We got some great pics of the afternoon including Todd's "cake" which consisted of his favorite cookies (oatmeal chocolate chip) made into a sandwich of sorts with whipped cream in the middle. If you are grossed out by oysters, probably best to skip the pictures.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bunko Night

I had never heard of Bunko until I moved to Mississippi and was pregnant with Emma. I subbed for a friend of mine, and I have to be honest, I thought, "This has to be the silliest game ever." You sit around a table with your partner and another team and try to roll sixes. That's it. No strategy, no skill required. Which, as it turns out, is a good thing since I'm doing good to count how many sixes I've rolled. Seems I can't talk and count at the same time, go figure.

Anyway, we've had some turnover and some babies born so we made an executive decision not to have Bunko last month. I was so disappointed! The girls I play with are so much fun, and I really look forward to spending time with them. Since I'm more home bound than usual, it was really sad to not have my time with them. Most of the girls are in my Sunday school class, but it's just not the same as our time together every 2nd Monday of the month. For instance, I don't think our SS teachers would be too thrilled if we decided to talk about the woes of nursing babies for half an hour like we did tonight. It's just that kind of group where we can talk about quite a lot. I also love this group because, aside from a few rare exceptions, we are gossip-free. It is just so great and makes me really proud of our little group.

So, in the midst of missing Todd and being stretched really thin, tonight was just what I needed. Some really good food and great atmosphere (Thanks, Lori.) and wonderful friends. Just the thing for what ails me.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

"Down in the valley, the valley so low,..."

I have tried not to blog much about Todd being in Texas for fear that I would run off anyone who regularly or randomly reads this, primarily because it would mostly be whining, and who wants to read that all the time?

But, since this is one of the most difficult times in our lives, I feel a need to share it, or at least a part of it. I think it will be good for me. Tomorrow marks the eighth week that Todd has been away from us. That I've been without my best friend. That the girls have been without their daddy. That I've had trouble sleeping because I hear every little sound and because Todd is not in the bed next to me. I'm truly running on fumes, and the tiredness I'm experiencing ranks right up there with taking care of a newborn.

This is a time I'm full of questions and doubts, not about the big things since I know and have seen many times before that God's plan is always the best and is always worth waiting for. I hate waiting. Really. I think that it is probably the hardest thing in the world. To trust in what we can't see ahead, for what we want to happen, especially when we want it to happen sooner rather than later.

Last week at our church we had our Global Impact Celebration. I normally love this time when I get to visit with missionaries and see what they're doing, but to be really honest, I couldn't even make myself go. I think, for one, that I could not have held it together long enough to have a conversation with anyone, and once I break down, it's all over. So, I skipped the stuff I normally go to, but, alas, I was not out of danger. The speaker from the IMB chose to focus his attention on one country Sunday morning. You guessed it, Mozambique. To my friend, Tiffany, who was trying to see if I was holding up, thank you. I'm glad you couldn't see my grief from where you were!

Then, on to Sunday school where we were one of the classes chosen to have a missionary speaker come and tell us about their work. More Africa. This time tears I could not hold back. More loneliness at not being able to have Todd sitting beside me squeezing my hand.

I truly do not know what God's plan is for us, where we'll be down the road. Isn't that kind of stating the obvious? No one does, not really. I pray that by His grace we will still be seeking Him and wanting all that He wants for us. So, if we cross your minds, do you mind praying for us, most especially for a speedy family reunion! Thanks!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

35 Odd Things About Me

My friend Chelsea emailed this to me, and then another friend, Mer, had this on her blog, and it looked like fun especially after my ranting the other day.

35 Odd Things About Me - and this doesn't even scratch the surface!

1. Do you like blue cheese salad dressing? yes, with really big chunks of blue cheese

2. Do you own a gun? I personally don't, but if we're counting Todd in this, I'm not sure how many we have!

3. What's your favorite drink at Starbucks? caramel frap

4. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? water or coffee

5. Do you do pushups? only when I can't get to the gym and am feeling completely flabby

6. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? my engagement and wedding rings

7. Favorite hobby? reading and drinking coffee (at the same time!)

8. Do you have A.D.D? no

9. What's one trait that you hate about yourself? quick temper

10. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment: Why won't Aubrie go to sleep, why won't Jessie go to sleep, why won't Emma go to sleep?

11. Name 4 drinks you regularly drink. water, coffee, coke, and chai - only in the fall and winter, though

12. Current worry right now? When will our house sell, when will we find a new home?

13. Current hate right now? being w/o Todd!!

14. Favorite place to be? on a date with Todd

15. Do you like to travel? Yes, yes, and yes!

16. What color shirt are you wearing? khaki

17. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? no, too slick!

18. Can you whistle? not at all, sounds terrible when I try

19. Favorite color? red

20. If you could would you be a pirate? nope

21. What song do you sing in the shower? Actually I usually don't in the shower - sing lots of other places, though.

22. Favorite girl's name? Emma, Jessie and Aubrie!! I also love Elizabeth, but it got shot down - twice!

23. Favorite boy's name? John, actually is the only boy's name we ever had picked out, just in case.

24. What's in your pocket right now? nothing

25. Favorite bedsheets as a child? Raggedy Ann and Andy.

26. Worst injury? Due to quick temper mentioned above, I ran my bike into a tree when I was seven, and pieces of it got stuck in my eyelid. My second grade pictures are lovely. I'm sure mom was so proud...

27. Do you love where you live? yes, and I love where we're moving, too

28. How many TVs do you have in your house? Two

29. Who is your loudest friend? Brenda and Sharon, and when we're all together, we're pretty unbearable. If it happens to be in public, our husbands want to hide! So glad to be closer to you two!!

30. How many pets do you have? None, for now, but we're hoping to change that pretty soon.

31. Does someone have a crush on you? What kind of question is this??? No, and like Chels said, I wouldn't want to know about it if they did!

32. What is your Favorite Book? Ever? So hard. Most life-changing that I can pretty much re-tell w/o looking is The Hiding Place.

33. What's your favorite candy? anything dark chocolate with mint

34. Favorite Sports Team? Don't really have one, but I have a new-found love for the SEC; the competition is pretty fierce, and I definitely prefer college to pro.

35. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up? Can it really be time to get up already?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

To The Rescue

Can I rant a little today? I just watched an piece on Good Morning America, and my blood is boiling. I know most folks don't get into politics and such on their blogs, but seeing as how this is the new public square in our world, I really can't think of a better place for such discussions.

Anyway, Chris Cuomo was interviewing two congresswomen, one a dem the other a rep, who voted against the bailout bill. It wasn't so much the interview that got me boiling but the follow-up piece where George Stephanopoulos showed the results of of the ABC poll revealing who Americans blame for the economic crisis. Most blamed the president; of course, he's the easiest target. Next in line was Wall-Street, and then people blamed Congress. Here's the kicker for me.

Why weren't these two options on the poll: mortgage companies who made bad decisions by giving loans to people who couldn't afford to repay them AND people who wanted more house than they could afford but decided that really didn't matter. (Just a disclaimer - I realize, too, that life happens and people find themselves over their heads through no fault of their own. I am not talking about these folks.) Also, if we want to play the blame game, why not blame the lawyers/realtors who try to rush people through the signing of their mortgage documents when it comes time to close on a house? I know that both times we have bought a house that I was made to feel like a moron if I had a question about the mounds of paper in front of me, asked for clarification of a term, etc. (Of course, this didn't stop me, and I read everything before I signed which I think frustrated a few folks.) Maybe if more people had asked questions about adjustable-rate loans and gotten answers, there wouldn't be an economic crisis.

Okay, last gripe about this whole deal although I could go on for quite a while. One of the biggest things we try to teach our girls is that there are consequences for our actions. We reap what we sow. It irks me to no end that people feel like they should be absolved from their natural consequences. That they're too good for that somehow. That Big Brother should swoop down and rescue us. So, I realize that some kind of "rescue" bill is eventually coming down the pike, but I am so thankful for the two ladies this morning and all the others who did not vote for this past bill. Both pointed out that we did not get in this mess in a few days and that they refused to be steamrolled into passing a bad bill (which from all I have read and understand, it was).

Shifting gears drastically, I just had an interesting thought about God's rescue plan. For He did rescue us in the greatest and most dramatic of love stories. But, even in that rescue, He didn't wipe out the underlying system. Sin still brings about death and destruction and can make a mess of our lives. We still have consequences for our actions. We still have to choose life, to follow Christ in every decision. I'm no economist or politician, but wouldn't it be great if you could mirror the bail-out bill to look like that?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Feeling A Little Different

We're almost at the end of our visit with Todd, and I realized that I haven't mentioned anything about where we're staying. Todd was staying in an extended-stay hotel, but when he checked out to come see us in Louisiana, Ike was on the way. So, when he got back, they would only let him reserve a few days, and then, he got the boot. Since Ike arrived, he's been staying with his boss which we're so grateful for. Todd got a taste of Austin traffic since they live just north of Austin, and the Tuff Shed shop is just south of it. He's been thrilled.

Knowing that we were planning a visit, we knew that he'd have to find some other place to stay. Again, thanks to his boss' generosity, he has his current situation. Ron and Trish have an RV. Now, many don't know that Emma thinks we should sell our house and get an RV. That way we can live wherever we want and see the country. She wanted to do this even before we planned to move to Austin. She just thinks it makes sense. So, Todd looked around for a scenic state park, but most of them are pretty far away from Buda, TX. So, he then started looking for RV parks with play areas, fishing or something like that, but no luck. Finally, he just looked for a place to hook up.

All that said, we ended up in a side parking lot of an RV sales center which is right across the street - literally - from Cabela's in a sort of pseudo RV park. They do have a nice cabin with tiled showers, a laundry facility and wi-fi which cracks me up. So, yesterday for entertainment the girls wanted to hang out at Cabela's, one of their favorite places. While we were there, someone gave us a ton of free tokens for the laser shooting gallery. Turns out, Emma is a pretty good shot! We shot for so long my arm hurt, and I felt a little different as we left from our shooting practice session at Cabela's to head across the street to our RV!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Teeth, Fairies and Stickers

Random things.

Emma lost her tooth earlier this week pronouncing very loudly that she is no longer a little bitty girl. She's a big girl, and I have to say I am a little sad over the whole thing. Within five minutes of losing her tooth, she informs me that the other bottom tooth is loose. This is happening way too fast for me.

She has decided that the tooth fairy will not visit until we are with Daddy again. Thankfully, that should be some time this next week. I don't have a tooth fairy pillow handy...note to self - find tooth fairy pillow quickly.

Last thing. Tonight while I was putting Aubrie to bed, she sweetly let me know that I would get a sticker if I behaved. Not likely that will happen! :-)

P.S. My friend Mer's husband John wrote a much more inspiring post about lost teeth - at least I'm not the only one saddened by them!

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Friend Amy

I have a great friend here in Clinton, Amy, and she has friend, Stephanie, who has recently undergone great tragedy. I've never met Stephanie but am so encouraged by her faith and reliance on God. You can read about Amy and Stephanie's great weekend with two of their other friends from jr. high here. You can also link to Stephanie's blog through Amy's : Leaning on Everlasting Arms. I hope you'll be inspired by Stephanie's story as I have been.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tailgating and Camping, Sort Of

Weekend before last our Sunday School class met for a tailgate party before the first game of the season. It was the girls' first, and they had a blast. Emma was feeling a little sick then, but was still so into the game. She couldn't wait for the players to start tackling each other. Her daddy would have been proud. At half-time when Clinton had failed to put any points on the board, she let me know that they were going to have to suck it up and stop playing like babies. Oh the mercy she sadly didn't get from me!
Aubrie enjoying MY Coke.

This weekend we were able to meet Todd half-way for a much-needed visit. We stayed at SouthToledoBendStatePark which is fairly new and really nice. We enjoyed the cabins, going on walks, swimming, fishing, feeding the birds and squirrels and eating smores. Anyway, we didn't technically camp out since I'm not brave enough to do that until everyone is fully potty trained! Oh, and I thought that the lovebugs were bad here - my goodness, they were everywhere. Aubrie, who is a little bug-shy, was none to thrilled with their presence, but we convinced her they were lovin' on her, and she warmed up to the idea eventually.

Helping the ranger feed the squirrels.

Emma with her fish. She learned to bait her own hook and take the fish off - quite a big weekend for her!

Oh, other big Emma news. We have our first loose tooth, and let me tell you, her talk was of NOTHING else for two straight days. Thankfully, the new has worn off a bit, and things are back to normal. We had questions about how to chew, if she was going to need special toothpaste, and we were asked about a million times if we wanted to wiggle her tooth or see it move. Such fun! She's also decided that she's not handing it over to the tooth fairy until we're with Daddy.

Speaking of Daddy and our move, I'm going to have an open house this Sunday. I'm a little nervous and trying to get ready for it while I also try not to lose my sanity. Please pray that it goes well and that someone will fall in love with our house.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Thank You

Thank you, Lord that Gustav wasn't as strong as expected.

Thank you, Scotty for mowing our front yard and HUGE back yard Friday.

Thank you, Jill, for being the back-up to keep my kids last week while I showed the house and offering to let Jeremy mow our yard. :-)

Thank you Nanny and Pops for keeping the girls more times than I can count and for inviting us to Hurricane Party 2008.

Thank you Scott and Angie for checking up on us.

Thank you Sunday School class for praying for us.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gustav and Katrina

So, I just got back from WalMart where I stocked up on some extra batteries, water and some canned goods which I almost never keep in the pantry. Pickin's were slim. I feel a little reactionary doing all this since the likelihood that I'll need any extra staples is pretty unlikely, but three years and a day after Katrina, I'd rather be prepared.

It feels like yesterday that I was gathering up some things to take to our church which functions as a Red Cross shelter during emergencies. I was just about ready to load everything into the Camry when Todd called and politely informed me that I was not going anywhere because Katrina graced us with her presence 30 minutes early. From where he was calling limbs were already falling into the roads so I was confined to the house feeling pretty helpless. This was not the first time I was going to feel helpless over the next few weeks.

I cannot, for one, describe how strong this storm was where we are. Clinton is three hours from the coast, and when the storm blew in with sustained winds at 60 mph and gusts to 80, I cried knowing that I could not possibly imagine the devastation that most certainly had occurred on the coast. At the time, we didn't know what had happened because they had lost all power as did portions of Clinton for days and even weeks.

I can also not explain how strange and odd it was to watch all that was going on in New Orleans, also only three hours away in areas that I knew so well knowing that I could do nothing physical to help them. I've been back there just once since the storm about a year ago, and the neighborhood where we lived is almost a ghost town.

The way life changes in such a small amount of time amazes me. When Katrina hit, we were not a minivan family. I was not even pregnant with Aubrie, and Jessie had been walking for only 3 months. She looks so grown up now, and Aubrie is quick on her heels. Emma is ready to take over running the house.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

We Need Daddy the Most

Tonight Jessie was upset about Daddy Todd not being able to come home this weekend; we thought there was a slight chance, but it just didn't work out. I was trying to cheer her up by telling her about the football game we're going to tomorrow night - cheerleaders, bands, food. Her eyes lit up for a second, and then she said, "But we need Daddy the most." You know you have a high standing when you trump football, cheerleaders and marching bands. They really miss him.

So do I.

A friend sent me a message today asking how I was holding up. Most days we do pretty well. I have to say that I have no idea how single parents do this. I really think I am past tired, and it's so weird knowing there's no back-up when I'm tired or not feeling so great. Today was also difficult because I felt like a bad mom. Emma has had a persistent cough, but I waited it out thinking it would go away, plus she'd had no other symptoms and was completely functional. Anyway, the last few days she had said that she was just not feeling well, and it was starting to show. So, off we trek to the doctor today where she had a breathing treatment, was prescribed an antibiotic, steroid and and inhaler. We also made a visit to the radiologist for a chest x-ray to make sure she didn't have walking pneumonia. She was one sick little girl. I felt so low...I cried. And later, I cried some more.

The great news is that her lungs are clear. The weird news is that she looks really bad tonight. When I married into this Williams clan, I learned that I could tell if Todd is sick by looking under his eyes. If they're dark, I send him straight away to the doctor. Apparently this is a whole-family thing, and it works with Emma as well. Now the doctor said we would see marked improvement within two days and that she should be completely better in five. So, I leave our appointments feeling very cheerful, but she did not feel well tonight, and her Williams signs were not looking good. Will you please pray for her when you read this. I sure would appreciate it.

While you're at it, pray for me - I need my heavenly Daddy the most.

Update - I need to add that I have great in-laws and friends who have helped me out immensely and check in on me! When I said there was no back-up, I mean when I don't feel like baths, bedtime, daily routine stuff. I re-read my post and thought it sounded most ungrateful which I am most definitely not! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Little Rest

I was actually so tired at one point today that I wanted to cry, and I almost did except someone started fussing just about then so my focus went somewere besides my exhaustion. Emma sweetly reminded me that at least I wasn't a Hebrew slave during the Egyptian captivity because she was sure that they had to work harder than I did. Is she sure??

We got a call on the house yesterday. Sure, you can come see it tomorrow (after I do about a million and one more things to it)! So, quick call to Nanny Judy who keeps the girls last night and ALL day today - thank you - and let the house marathon begin. I painted, culled, and straightened last night and shopped, painted some more, cleaned and straightened this morning. I literally feel like I have been through a serious workout. My thighs hurt. And, my back is in such a state that I really can't even discuss it - because I'll probably cry. I had five trash bags and a broken set of folding doors to set on the curb this morning, and even more than that went to our local thrift store.

Just about the time when my tears were trying to resurface, Judy calls and says that the girls can spend the night again if they want. This makes me want to cry again - tired, wondering how I'm going to make it through dinner and bedtime, to not having to worry about it. All these emotions at once - just about can't handle it! So, now I'm fed, watching Entertainment Tonight, and wondering what to do with my evening. I realize I'm not chained to the house for the first time in ages, but I feel too tired to get up. I've thrown around the idea of Blockbuster, but we'll see if I can muster the energy. A good book and a bath are definitely on the menu.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Big Changes - Texas-bound!

For those who keep up with our goings on, you know that we were supposed to be commissioned in November to serve with the International Mission Board in Mozambique, Africa. Well...

A few weeks ago Todd's company offered him a job in Austin, TX. Of course, my first reaction was, "No, way. We're headed to Africa." Then, I decided to at least try to be psuedo-submissive/supportive and pack us all up so we could drive to TX to check it out and be there in the flesh to pray about it. Tuff Shed made the offer on a Wed. morning and wanted an answer by Friday afternoon. Nothing like a little time to make a life-altering decision. Anyway, Friday at noon came and went, and we were still unsure until I realized that we had been looking at the decision as either/or and not both. We had a Holy Spirit moment where we knew we were supposed to come to TX and re-apply to go overseas a few years from now. We called TS and told them we would come. It is very odd for us to make this kind of decision on a "feeling," but we've been praying about our direction for so long that we had total confidence that God had spoken. There it is, I know we sound a litte (or a lot) wierd.

Let me backtrack a little for a minute...

Todd's trip to Nampula in June/July was wonderful, but when he got home, I expected that he would have an immediate, "Yes, God confirmed that this is what we're supposed to be doing," or a "No, it's not." Since life is not always as clear-cut as I would prefer it, that's not how things worked out. He did have some reservations about the girls and what their life would look like in this city. And since he thought it would be particularly hard for them, he figured that would have a huge impact on me. Thanks to the wife who is constantly at his side saying, "Are we going or not?", he relented and said that we would go ahead with the process, but I don't think he ever had complete peace about the situation. This ought to be a great lesson in nagging!

Now, I know lots of folks who are on the mission field with more kids, younger kids, babies, in fact, and that God sustains them and takes wonderful care of them, and we know that He can do this for us, too. But, one thing echoed in our minds from our time at Candidate Conference back in May and that was the issue or question of timing. We heard over and over that a family's ability to stay and thrive on the field depends largely on timing. Is this the right time for your family? We have no idea what God has for us while we're still here, but we do know that His timing is perfect and we have complete trust and peace that we still have some lessons to learn before we're ready. Can't wait to tell you what those are!

The other strange and slightly confusing thing was that when we verbalized our decision with each other, it was as if a burden was lifted that I didn't even know I was carrying. Now, please understand that I WANT to be on the mission field. I don't think I've more sure of any of the other details of life except that I was supposed to marry Todd Williams. In fact, you could say that I'm utterly heart-broken that we won't be there next spring. When I read about Africa and my friends that are there, I lose it. So, I'm not sure what the burden was - did I have doubts about timing that I wouldn't even let myself admit, was it fear, wondering if I was going to have a meltdown when the electricity went out, and my dinner was in the oven? I'm not sure, but I look forward to the things that we have planned to learn in our extended training time.

For instance, we really want to be able to keep goats and chickens while in Africa. It's okay, you can laugh out loud, especially if you know me. We figure it might be easier to learn how to take care of them here while we're in a familiar environment. (I'm a little scared of powdered milk and would like some fresh eggs - the ones in the market are boiled.) Where was I? Oh, so we're looking for a place in TX that would give us the room to learn about getting hens to lay, milking goats, making goat cheese and whatever else one might be able to do with goat's milk. See, I don't know! Also, we've heard that it's easier to learn Portuguese after you've mastered Spanish. Great! There's lots of places to practice where we're going, and we're going to try to squeeze that into homeschooling.

So, my next blog will most likely be filled with much more whining because Todd is already in Texas, and I'm holding down, clinging to the fort with the girls trying to pack and get the house in decent shape to sell. (Todd did all of the hard, manual labor before he left.) But, there is some painting to do and lots of clutter to clean up so that someone will think that they have to have our house immediately!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Things That Make Me Smile

Recently, I downloaded from iTunes a few Toby Mac songs (my first time to visit the iTunes store and to download - I was very impressed with myself...). The girls love the song, Lose my Soul. Apparently, they have a favorite line in the song because every time it comes around, they bob their heads (car dancing they learned from me; it's my only move) and sing very loudly, "I'm a little kid in a three-ring circus." Makes me laugh every time.

I've just finished reading Isreal, My Beloved by Kay Arthur which I finished pretty quickly for me. When we were returning it to the library today, Jessie commented, "Mommy, you really like that book, don't you?" We had already talked a little about the book, and the girls knew that the book was about Isreal and how they were scattered throughout the world. Emma was commenting on that when I added that God had promised that He would gather them from the four corners of the earth to which Emma replied, "Is the world a square?" Sharp one, that Emma.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pealing Off the Pounds!

Good news to report - Todd is about 2 pounds away from the goal! He is currently at the Y running some more and has been eating smaller portions and healthy snacks. I'm so proud of him for sticking with it!

Also, we decided to purchase Rosetta Stone software so that we can get started learning Portuguese. We're going to incorporate that into our homeschooling this fall, too. I can't wait for it to arrive.

On the home front, please pray that we'll have wisdom there. We really want to go ahead and put the house on the market, but we would need a place to stay in the meantime if it does sell. Since we purchased our house at a good time, our payments are considerably less than most appartments in Clinton which would put the squeeze on the ol' budget.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Where We Are

Well, since Todd's trip to Mozambique, we've had quite a lot to process. Despite the challenges that will most definitely lie ahead for our family, we still feel God's pull on our family to go where He has called. We were able to eat dinner last night to continue our processing process with some wonderful friends of ours who served as missionaries in Africa until recently. They served in a "closed" area so, to be on the safe side, I'll leave their names out of the blog. Anyway, it always helps talking to them because they are able to shed light on something in about five seconds because they have this great framework for understanding our questions, doubts and even fears. They probably have no idea how much our dinners together have meant to us since we've begun this crazy journey.

So, before we can be officially approved on Oct. 7 there are some things we still need to do. We need to read a HUGE policy manual, send in a few more medical records for the girls, and Todd has a medical hurdle to get over. Many of you know, even though I haven't posted it, that Todd's BMI (Body Mass Index) is/was high. When we discovered this last November, he began working like a crazy person to get the weight off. In March he had lost 35 pounds and was able to send in a satisfactory weight to the agency that approves our health status for the IMB. This allowed us to go forward and attend the candidate conference in May.

Well, between March and May our family was introduced to something called Fifth Disease. (You can Google it if you would like to know more about it.) Todd suffered the most - Emma and Jessie didn't even know they had anything - and, for a while, we thought his arthritis had come back. The medicine he was given for his joint pain caused some weight gain (which is a known side effect of this particular medication) so that by the time we got to conference, he was above the qualifying BMI. The doctor in VA measured his waist and said that he thought Todd would be fine for health clearance.

After a while (It takes a little bit for the paperwork to get from the doctor's office in VA to the health agency), we got notification that Todd would need to lose the weight again. (He was probably 10 pounds over the mark.) Since he got back from Africa, he has been working on his weight, but it has been much harder for him to gain much ground. He's about halfway there. So, I have two requests. Please pray that he will be able to lose the rest of the weight quickly. Also, please pray that the health agency will be lenient in regards to the nature of the weight gain. They could possibly opt for him to have to maintain the weight loss for three months before we could move forward in the IMB process. This would mean that we would miss the Oct. 7 approval date that we've been hoping for. I know that would be so hard for Todd since he has worked so hard on this for what feels like forever!

Now, with all that said, I also know that God has the timetable for our journey all worked out - I just get a little antsy about it and really want things to work out the way we want them! So, please pray for peace and contentment for me when I get that way and lose sight of the fact that if God wants us in Moz, there is nothing that can stop His plan. I am more excited than ever about getting to go on behalf of my savior to another country where intimate knowledge of Him is scarce. It is truly what we feel we have been made to do and God seems to confirm this in our hearts, through His word and through our circumstances almost daily. Thanks so much for remembering us and praying for us!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Science Update...

Please see the post under the Africa pictures for an update on our science projects.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Pictures from Mozambique

At long last, we did find a way to upload our pics from the camera. (It took all of about 5 seconds...) Anyway, I've picked some of my favorites to post, and that took a while since I think there were between 500 and 600 to choose from! I'll try to talk him into posting here soon so he can tell his own story.

These are not in any particular order. Above is an example of a thatched roof which is the material of choice.

Above is a termite mound, pictures of which I've seen before, but somehow, it's different when you know your husband took this crazy picture.

Picture of an old church - just thought it was a really good picture. I think this is on Ilha de Mocambique, but I'm not positive.

Again, great picture he took while in Nacala.

This is the place he stayed while in Nacala (about two hours away from Nampula on the coast). So, I guess mosquito nets get folded up when you make your bed...pretty nifty.

I love this picture - the rolls are spice packets.

Another picture of a market in Nampula. Nampula is where we will live. It's the second largest city in the country with about 1/2 million people.

Dug out boats back on Ilha de Mocambique.

Another picture on Ilha - notice the folks carrying things on their heads. I wonder if I can learn that??

Granite outcroppings on the outskirts of Nampula.

I had to include the picture of the goats. We're hoping to have one/some. You can only get powdered milk so that would give us some fresh, plus I'd really love to learn to make goat cheese.

Just one of the many pictures of georgeous flowers he was able to take.

In a previous post, Todd mentioned the bicycles with charcoal piled up high - it's a little hard to see, but that's what this boy has on his bike.

More charcoal and bicycles.

Can't go to Africa without taking a picture of a baobab tree.

Since there was no order above, I thought the least I could do was finish with a great African sunset.