Monday, December 21, 2009

A Life Lesson

I think I’m always conflicted this particular week of the Christmas season because we talk so much to our kids about focusing on the birth of Jesus and what that means in our lives and then run around like crazy people trying to get everything done.

Since we just got back from Mississippi last night, today is a day of re-grouping. There will be grocery lists made, laundry washed and , hopefully, an assortment of other things accomplished. What I’m hoping for most is that my behavior will reflect what we’ve been trying to teach the girls - that Christmas is not about gifts, food, or even family. It’s about Christ. And, if the other things weren’t around, it would still be one of the best times of the year.

So, what would a Christmas life lesson look like? Peace. Joy. True joy in all of my to-dos. I love making lists of things to do, not because I’m incredibly organized, but because if I don’t write things down, I don’t seem to have the mental capacity to remember anything, and this is incredibly annoying. But like the typical list-maker, I get a little caught up in my list. My goal this week is to let the list go. Oh, I will still make my lists, my friend, but I’m going to try and remind my little type-A self that the list is not the end goal.

I so want my life to not be sending a double message, especially to my sweet family. I think I’ve come to grips that it is impossible to escape hypocrisy entirely while we’re on this side of heaven, but I do want to constantly examine my actions and words to see if they line up with what I say I believe and tweak “as I go.” Sounds kind of like “working out our salvation in fear in trembling,” now that I think of it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Getting Caught Up Before I Go Crazy

If I don’t get busy and post some pictures, my brain is going to explode, and the grandparents are going to think I’ve fallen off the planet.  So, please excuse the long post, but it has to be done.

October 015

I gave Todd a surprise birthday party at one of our favorite local restaurants, and it was pretty chilly and windy that night.  It was a major accomplishment getting the candles lit.  Creed’s birthday was actually that day, too, so we celebrated together.  He is precious and as fun as he is cute!

October 017

The grown-up girls wanted to get a picture together while we were at the party, and the littl‘uns wanted to join us.  We are not matched up parent-to-kiddos, and I’m not even going to try and straighten it out!

October 019

We did get our own picture eventually.

October 021

Some of my dear Bastrop friends: Melinda, (me), Ashley, who cooked us dinner tonight because we’ve been a little sick around here, Erin, and Julie.

October 008

A picture of Emma playing soccer because I promised one a million years ago.

October 084

While Daddy was in Illinois, we carved our pumpkins.

And, finally, our Halloween pictures.  The poodle, gypsy and flower fairy had a great time.  We visited a friend’s neighborhood and hit some houses over there, and then we went to the nursing home to trick-or-treat and to hand out fall decorations that our kiddos had made during homegroup.  See why I love our homegroup?  I thought this was such a great idea, and all the kids did a great job.  You know, honestly, you never know what you may see/hear while in a nursing home, but all the kids were so sweet with everyone, and I was so proud of them.

After that, we headed back to Ann’s house (another homegroup gal) for the most incredible fall fest ever.  I’m scared to ask her how much time it took for her to set everything up.  Off the top of my head the following were available for the kids: pin the nose on the pumpkin, toss the hula hoop over the pumpkin, a go-fish game with prizes, bagged popcorn for the hayride, put a funny face on the pumpkin (using potato head pieces) bean bag toss through the pumpkin, iced cookies for the kids to decorate after they had finished the friendly ghost hunt inside.  I get tired just trying to list it all.  It was amazing!

October 105

The hula hoop toss.


I had to show the back of Aubrie’s wings.  I thought these would be easy to make.  I was wrong.

October 102

Homegroup friends.

October 109 

The poodle pose.

Thanks for hanging in there with me!  I feel so much better getting that done.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Year Now

I really wanted to sit down and reflect before I entered this post, but my pajamas are calling.  A year ago today we pulled up roots from our wonderful Mississippi town and landed here in Bastrop.  I must say that things have been about as clear as mud since then, but I know that there is purpose in our being here.  Just about everything thing we thought was supposed to happen hasn’t, and we’re really working on being okay with that.

We’ve really been trying to figure out ways to teach our girls gratefulness and contentment with what they have.  I’m finding that in an age when they have just about everything they want and/or need that this is very difficult.  It’s even more difficult when you realize that you struggle with this yourself. SO, I’ve been working on being content with the shelter, food and clothes that I have.  I’ve been trying to not think about the parts of my life that are in the garage or under the stairs in a box because we thought our rental would be temporary.  I want to cultivate thankfulness for the real things in my life, not the trappings that honestly can soak up a lot of time and don’t matter in the end. 

This is NOT easy for me.  At. all.  But, I’m working on it day-by-day…and here we are, a year later.  How is it that it was fast and slow all at the same time?  When someone figures that out, please let me know!

I have a ton of other things I want to post, but I’ll have to get to it later – sick kids lately, so the pajamas are now screaming at me.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Christmas Cards

Just in case you haven’t decided where you’ll be ordering yours this year, you can check out my sister’s Facebook page. Colleen does a great job and will work with you to get it how you want it!

This was our card from last year, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with this time.

Christmas card

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Lot For Which to be Thankful

Before I get to the thanksgiving, I wanted to let you know about my friend Mer who is having a giveaway every day this week (but she’s not determining the winners until the end of the week.)  So you still have plenty of time to stop by!

After reading a book this summer, I realized that I had lost the habit of thankfulness and that somehow ugly cynicism had crept in its place.  I don’t think there was some big event that caused this to happen, but it sure has.  One of the things I want most for our girls is for them to be truly joyful, but I realized that if I was full of complaints and looking at the negative side of things, that they were going to pick up these nasty habits as well.  Yuck.

I don’t really have a well-laid plan, but I’m going to try to post a little thankfulness on my blog just to keep my thankful/joyful juices flowing. 

I’m thankful for a GREAT husband who works so hard at a very thankless job so I can stay home and train our sweet girls.

I’m so thankful that I get to be the one to teach our cuties even when being at home really stinks – I’m trying to remember to tell Todd this, too, so he’s not always hearing about how hard homeschooling can be.  I really wouldn’t trade it for anything!

I’m thankful for a great community of homeschooling friends – seems like I make a new one every week or so.  (That includes the ones here and Jill, too!)

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but just to make sure, I’m so grateful for our church home.  We have been a part of some really great churches, but this is one that finally fits in just about every sense of the word.  Our church family has really become our extended family, and I don’t know what we’d do w/o them.

I’m thankful for Ashley who was crazy brave and went to the outlet malls in San Marcos with me and the girls today.  I would have even more gray hair if it weren’t for you!

I’m thankful for finished Halloween costumes!  Pictures to follow sometime this weekend, I’m sure.

Oh, and the thought which inspired the blog tonight – I’m SO thankful for good health.  We have had people battling illness left and right all around us, and we have been unscathed.  I’m especially thankful for this as Todd is away this week.  Thank you, Lord!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Just a Few Things

Thanks for stopping by.

Please don't forget to enter the give away on John's blog for his new book celebrating advent, Touching Wonder. If you don't win a copy, you can always purchase one here. You really don't want to miss the bonus gifts for weeks 4 and 5. They're going to be good!

Just a note - I did manage to work out last night but then had WAY to much energy and found it hard to wind down. I must say that I felt great getting some exercise in - physically and mentally. I'm feeling a little tired and achy tonight so we'll see how things go tomorrow. I've heard great things about echinacea tea so I'm fixin' to try some.

Have a blessed evening.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Little Craftiness and A Good Workout

So, I’m going to try to make some headway on Emma’s costume and finish up Aubrie’s.  May not get that much accomplished, but I’m going to give it a shot.  Thankfully, E’s doesn’t require sewing, and I’m done with the sewing on Aubrie’s.  Thank goodness for glue guns – that’s the only tool I’ll need to finish A’s.  What would we do w/o glue guns?  I shudder to think.

Also, I’ve GOT to figure out a way to get in some more exercise.  I find that the “at home video routine thing” is proving a little too much for my level of discipline.  I’m really hit-or-miss w/them which means I only work out about once a week, and let me tell you, friends, that is NOT cutting it.  At all.  I’m really trying to be aware of my eating, but w/o some sweat, I just don’t feel like much positive is going on.  I had worked so hard a while back (two summers ago) to shed some pounds and get fit, and I’m so discouraged that I’ve completely backtracked to where I was before.  I’m probably more fit now (not sucking wind when I run), but the scale is a real downer.  Of course, I could be working out instead of typing…choices, choices.  Maybe if I put on my workout clothes, I’ll get motivated!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Friday

I won! I won! I won! I’m not gonna gloat any more than that, but it sure does feel good. I won the advent book and the additional freebee, a Moleskine, that were given away here. Happy Friday to me, happy Friday to me, etc.

I love Fridays because we don’t do “formal school.” We may catch up on a thing or two left undone, but then we either go to the library for story time or do a homeschool p.e./playdate thing. Both are really fun and at the same time so we have to alternate. Today it’s pretty chilly so it looks like a library day. I better get movin’ because we’ve got to be in the van in about half an hour.

Hope yours is a happy Friday.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Potential Bliss

This year we decided to school three weeks on and take a week off and to pretty much school year-round.  We have found that we I just don’t do very well without some routine and structure to our days, even in the summer.  So, the first week we took off was for a trip to Dallas to see my dad and for me to go to an alumni board meeting since I hadn’t been to one in over three years.  Pathetic.

This week has the potential to be pure heaven.  I have been saving up some projects to work on during our week off.  I’m planning to sew Christmas shirts for the girls to wear in our Christmas card picture.  If they turn out decently, I may post a picture of the shirt, but I don’t want to give away too much of what our card may look like. 

My other project is to finish the girls’ Halloween outfits.  I’ve got Aubrie’s pretty much wrapped up, Jessie’s requires no work (super), and I haven’t even started on Emma’s.  I really want to have these finished over the weekend so I can devote the rest of my time to the sewing of shirts and my other big project.

As anyone who has been in our home knows, we don’t have much “new'” stuff.  We kinda sorta inherited furniture from my family for which I’m very grateful.  However, none of our stuff is of the valuable antique sort.  It’s worn, not particularly attractive, BUT it is solid wood and well-made, and so, much to sweet man’s dismay, I don’t want to part with any of it.  I am hoping to give it a face-lift.  I am trying to be realistic about this project because stripping and painting furniture always takes forever.  I’m starting with the smallest piece, a bedside table, and we’ll see what happens from there.  I would love to finish all three pieces, but this is VERY unrealistic.

So, if we can avoid major catastrophe for a week, and the weather cooperates, this week could such a fun break for me!  I’m keeping my fingers crossed!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Just a Reminder

for you to visit this site for another free giveaway.  I still need to get my copy of the book just in case I don’t win one.

No time for anything else today.  I have three busy little ones upstairs waiting for me to come and teach them something good!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Loving the Weather

We had our first cold spell last weekend, but of course, it’s Texas so things warmed right back up this week.  Last night a cold (ok, a cool front) blew in, and we get to wear long sleeves to the park today – heaven!

I really need to mention that we had a first last Saturday.  Emma scored her first soccer goal!  Since she plays on a co-ed team, I’m extra proud of her because the boys do dominate most of the time.  I had wanted to post pics (We didn’t get any of the magical goal, but I thought any soccer pictures would help set the mood.), but practice was rained out Tues., and Todd took her last night.  Maybe I’ll get some good ones at tomorrow’s game. 

Just guessing, but I think this may unleash the soccer wild-person in E.  She’s very assertive in other areas of life but has yet to let that out on the soccer field.  I think it will be so exciting when it happens.  Got a little glimpse last Saturday, and it was a beautiful thing.  I had to fight all my mommy urges not to run out on the field and hug her when she scored.  Don’t think that hugging a player in the middle of a game would have gone over very well…

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Chance to Win

I love winning things or getting anything for free. My friend Meredith's husband is giving away a copy of his new book about Advent (which I haven't read yet, but I'm sure is wonderful), and all you have to do is post a comment on his blog about your favorite Christmas song. So easy and so fun!

Here's what I said, and I hope you'll take the time to contribute, too! (But I really want to win the book.)

1) O Come, O Come Emmanuel - I love the word "ransom" in connection with Christmas. He really is our rescuer in every sense of the word! 2) A choral song I learned in high school called Baby, What You Goin' to Be? I found a choir singing it on YouTube so here's the link, and you can judge for yourself!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ballet Class

As promised, here is some footage of Aubrie's and Jessie's ballet classes. Aubrie's class is more like movement and music rather than ballet, but is bunches of fun! Jessie's class does actually practice "real" ballet, but the video shows what they get to at the beginning of class. I love her concentration playing hop scotch.

P.S. If the videos don't start, you can press F5 to refresh the page. At least that's worked for me.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Fritters

Some things you need to know…

Jessie had mono and CMV this summer except that she had NO symptoms (so crazy). We didn’t know anything was going on until she wanted to wear her pajamas in the middle of the day and lay down. She tested negative for mono because she technically didn’t have it anymore. More blood work showed that both viruses had been in her system but a while back. The human body is truly an amazing thing. She still gets a little tired but hasn’t wanted to wear her pajamas during the day for a while now. It’s so good to see some improvement in her.

Our house search continues, and in the middle of this economic uncertainty I have to wonder if it’s really a huge blessing to have such a wonderful place to rent. There are lots of things that bug me about this place, but when I find myself starting to complain on the inside, I remind myself how much it would cost to rent an apartment and how much we’re paying for a large house on five acres. Keep your mouth shut, Dee Dee Williams!

Emma and Jessie both took swimming lessons this summer and were little fish by the end of the summer. Emma was already swimming fairly well, but Jessie’s more like her hesitant mama and wasn’t so sure about this swimming thing. The last day that we were able to go swimming Aubrie (who has gills, I think) swam for the first time. What a fun summer and even better is how much easier next summer will be for Mom!

Now for some real fritters:

I love that Aubrie will say something silly and will pause and then add, “Just kidding,” at the end.

I love that all three girls will create a new make believe game just about everyday and carry it out all day long. We have to make them stop at mealtimes because they REALLY get into their roles.

I love that the girls are getting to have some real time outside.

I love that they play in the back of Todd’s old truck and have made it their clubhouse of sorts. They even have a flag flying from the bed of the truck.

I love that Emma grabbed her Bible and asked me to read some more about David and Absolom yesterday after we learned about part of their story in our history lesson.

I love that the girls are learning so much about nature and the outdoors from their sweet dad.

I love that we can watch hummingbirds, cardinals, finches, wood peckers and a variety of doves from our dinning room window.

I love even more that, thanks mostly to their dad, Emma can identify all of these on her own; she’s even better than me at telling the different doves apart.

I love that we have a great church family and that we get to go to homegroup tonight – sure to be a lot of fun!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Little Relaxation

I don’t know why I forget this time and again, but my sweet children are only 7, 5 and 3. I get so caught up in our schooling schedule that I think it really stresses them out. The problem is that they are unable to tell me they’re stressed so it shows up in other ways like completely forgetting things that they know to do or being really grumpy. So, today we are enjoying a little relaxation. We’re still doing school but in small time segments and not worrying as much about the to-do list (with which I can be COMPLETELY consumed).

They’ve been out of sorts all week long and about to drive me to distraction. The funny thing is that while I’m down here on the computer taking a break, and they’re upstairs coloring, they are also going through their favorite books and reminding me that we haven’t done our weather graph yet. These are things I love – when I don’t have to prod and pull them, and I get to see their real joy and interest in learning.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bears in My House

I don’t promise that this is a full return to blogging, but I thought I would make a brief appearance. Let me start off by mentioning that homeschooling two at the same time whilst keeping occupied the very busy 3-yr-old who lives with us too is quite the challenge. And, unlike others whom I truly admire, I will probably not find any extra time to blog any time soon. Not only blogging, but other activities as well have been cut from the schedule. We are pared (sp?)down and trying to get the basics firmly under our belts. I have to say that every now and then I feel a little cooped up, but it is making for very full and interesting days that are primarily spent at home.

I was in a book/Bible study this summer which focused much of its time on Titus 2 where the older women are admonished to teach the younger. One of the tenants taught is to be “keepers at home.” (The NAS says, “workers at home.”) Now, one of my dear homeschooling friends that I’ve known since college once said to me, “How can we teach our girls to be keepers at home if we’re never home?” She doesn’t know it, but that has stayed in my head over the years, and this year I was finally brave enough to follow through.

You see, as a homeschool mom I fell into a common trap that because my children are schooled at home that I must make up for their lack of “socialization” by carrying them to every activity imaginable. (In homeschool circles this is often referred to as the “s” word, very nasty indeed.) Some moms even joke that they become van schoolers instead of homeschoolers. I think for some moms/families this is fine, and they really do seem to function well. For me, running around from place to place is like death. A slow and painful death.

So, each girl has an activity. Emma is still playing soccer, and Jessie and Aubrie are both in ballet – I will have to post pictures soon because Aubrie’s class is too much fun. Jessie’s is, too, but there’s just something hysterical about those little preschool behinds in their leotards that begs for pictures. We have playdates/story time on Friday (We alternate because they’re at the same time.) and are trying to get most of our schooling done Monday-Thursday so we can relax on Friday. This is our life. We don’t even leave the house at all on Mondays and Wednesdays unless we absolutely have to. Heaven!

Back to the bears in my house – since that’s what I titled this silly post – I was just thinking about how crazy a homeschool house can become. My lovely sister Colleen used to teach second grade and was cleaning out some of her stuff and decided to bless us with these wonderful bears used for counting and various other things in math. Now, there are a million of each color, and we have four tubs each with a color of its own – so many bears to count. In order to keep the beautiful 3-yr-old child happy and learning something constructive we sometimes get out the blue bears and let her take off with them. For days and sometimes weeks I find blue bears all over my house for she finds such creative places to put them.

The bears are put in the kitchen (and I assume cooked, for I can’t imagine that raw bear tastes very good). There are bears in purses – apparently they like to shop. And bears in jewelry boxes, the vain little things. I’m sure some of them are laughing at me right now because I haven’t discovered their little hiding places yet.

This week Jessie needed to use all four colors of bears for one of her lessons so you can only imagine the bears that I am finding. It kind of drives me crazy finding them in random spots and having to dig the tubs out to put them up. I am trying to turn over a new leaf and let go of the bears. After all, they aren’t doing anyone any harm, and I apologize in advance if I suck any of them up in the vacuum cleaner. It has happened, I’m sad to report.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Little Break

I know, this is already pretty obvious. But I've realized that trying to still do school (long story, but basically we postponed school a while last fall while we were trying to sell the house and Todd was already in TX) and do summer stuff too is very overwhelming. I think so that I don't feel bad about not blogging, I'm just going to declare a blogging vacation and pick things back up in the fall. I'm still on Facebook, and it doesn't seem as overwhelming so I'll keep checking in there.

Something random - after a bazillion days our computer was ready this last Monday except that no one called us. I really think I'm in the Twilight Zone sometimes. Anyway, unless something really bazaar happens, I'll be able to pick it up this coming Monday and get caught up on so many things that have been nagging the back of my mind.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Where did the month go?

So, almost a month ago, Ashley and I walked in the March for Babies walk-a-thon in Austin. I had intended to post our pictures back then, but we were in the middle of our computer bru-ha-ha and didn't have our loaner yet. I really wanted to share because I was so amazed that my new friend Ashley would give up her Saturday to walk in honor of someone she had never met. Thank you, Ashley!

If you haven't heard the story yet, please visit this site to find out about Noah and Julie and their precious Magdalena. Ashley and I walked for Magdalena's Feet (their team) and had a great time on a beautiful day in downtown Austin. In the midst of the gorgeous day I was often moved to tears because there were so many people there representing so many precious little ones. It was really wonderful to be a part of something so big.

You can read about the Mississippi team's walk here. Thank you, Noah and Julie, for being so faithful and letting God use you in wonderful ways to reach so many!

Monday, June 1, 2009

More Important Things

I should have posted this last week, but we were in the throes of company and lots of special events, and since Aubrie can't read, I don't think she'll be offended! Our sweet third arrival had her third birthday last Monday on the 25th. Although we had already had her party, we still like to do something special on the actual day. (I'm infamous in my family for cramming in multiple b-day events and stretching out my birthday celebration for as long as possible. I even had a college friend explain to me that my b-day was not the same as Rashashana (sp?). I'm apparently passing this trait on to my sweet girls.) So, we were with Nanny at one of our favorite local restaurants, and they brought Aubrie a piece of cake and sang to her. She was very thrilled.

Aubrie is truly the one to keep me on my toes and remind me that I'm not as on top of things as I would like to think. The most recent episode occurred not too long ago, thankfully on a cool day. All three girls were outside playing, and I had just seen Aubrie go by. I stuck my head out a few minutes later just to check on them, and no Aubrie. Anywhere. So, we start calling. I'm pretty sure she hasn't taken off down the driveway because it's pretty long, and she would still be visible. We're on five flat acres so she should be pretty easy to spot. Right? Oh, how I wish. We call inside and out for what seemed like an eternity but was probably about five minutes. I'm finally calling Todd to inform him that I've lost his youngest child when I think to look in the van. There she sits happy as a lark putting on sun screen. If I told you all the things going through my mind at this point, let's just say it wouldn't be pretty.

Aubrie Ann is a great joy in our lives and things literally just roll right off of her - a trait she did NOT get from me or Todd. This she got from my dad and my sister Mary. It is also amazing how much she looked like my dad when she was a baby. She also looks a lot like my nephew (Mary's son) Judah. Strange, huh?

I know every parent must feel this way about each of their children, but we simply cannot imagine life without our Aubrie. We were at the "should we really be crazy and have a third child" crux in our lives, and we were trying to figure out if that would push me over the edge, and if we knew just how much fun this little one was going to be, there would have been no discussion. Happy third birthday sweet girl!

Also, important was Jessie's and Aubrie's end-of-the-year preschool program. We had a blast watching them perform their artist songs. Their last unit of the year was on famous artists, and Jessie represented Degas (He painted ballerinas.), and Aubrie represented Mary Cassatt who painted moms with their babies; she also painted ladies with hats on. Hence the outfits.

Jessie graduated and looked MUCH too mature in her cap and gown to suit me. We may have to follow through with our threats to put bricks on their heads.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Fritters

-Gearing up for Emma's first sleepover. A friend from church is coming. We've planned fun in the sprinkler, a dance performance, make-overs, popcorn and chocolate chip cookies.

-I'm missing the girls who are in MS with Nan and Pops. Emma, however, is relishing the time with mom and wishes they were going to be in MS for another week.

-We still have a loaner computer as the part for our broken down one is on back order. Other than a few things (my budget software, grocery list, etc.), I'm perfectly happy as long as we have a good internet connection.

-Emma and I slept in this morning. She crawls in bed with me when Todd leaves, and I must say it has been heavenly. Can't remember the last time I slept until 8. Emma looks at the clock and says, "Mom, why am I in bed at 8:02?" We were all out late last night so sleeping in was a good thing for both of us. Poor Todd must need a nap!

-Emma and I have turned our brains to mush today watching TV. We watched back-to-back episodes of Meerkat Manor, and she's now watching a show about leopards. We're gonna school through July so I figure this is our very short summer break, at least until August.

-Last summer we visited the San Antonio Zoo with my sisters, and we had to cut the trip a little short because Aubrie had had all the zoo she could handle, and Jessie got a fever while we were there. I'm very excited about taking Emma on Monday so she can zoo all she wants. Last year she cracked us up with map in hand planning what we would do next. I can't wait for this year's excursion.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Special Times

This has been a truly full weekend in the Williams family. We celebrated Jessie's and Aubrie's birthdays this past Saturday. If folks got graded on their family planning skills, we'd probably get a D. Jessie and Aubrie are 2 years, one week and a day apart. Makes for interesting planning since you can pile on a bunch of end-of-year stuff on top of that. They had a blast at their joint party, and we actually had very pleasant weather considering that it is May in Texas.

Yesterday we celebrated two special events. Todd and I were married twelve years ago in Clinton, MS, and time has zoomed past ever since! We have had a wild ride and lived in ten homes in nine different cities during those years; we've been seminary drop-outs (twice) and almost missionaries!! :-) We have considered ourselves on mission whether here or in Africa, and God took us seriously when we told Him we'd go wherever He asked! We are truly enjoying our new adventures in Bastrop, TX, and can see so many wonderful reasons that God landed us here. We are so grateful.

Our other special event was Emma's baptism. About two years ago she told us that she had prayed to receive Christ. She was in our backyard swinging and praying and came inside to announce her news. We've tried to always have an ongoing discussion about what it means to be His and what happens when we are. So, we decided to continue the discussion and look for fruit in her life. We looked for the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5 and for a few other things: conviction when she messed up and a desire to tell others the great news of salvation. She continued to ask about baptism, and we continued to look for fruit. We began seeing quite a bit and had actually planned to have her baptised at Morrison Heights before we left, but things got pretty crazy when Todd had to move to TX before us, and we just never got things worked out. I have to admit that I was pretty disappointed. Well, of course, God has a great plan. Shocker. It would never have occurred to me for Todd to baptize her. But I can't think of anything more beautiful or special in her life than for her dad to get to welcome her publicly into God's family.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Fritters

--Baking a cake and talking on the phone at the same time - not a good idea. Thankfully, I had extra batter that saved the day. I wouldn't say the cake was burnt, just a little extra crispy.

--Looked up online how to get rid of scorpions. Cleaning out leaves/debris from around your foundation is apparently a good idea since they like cool dark places. Also found out that cracks and crevices in your foundation and doorways are favorite entry spots. That'll have to be Todd's job, I reckon. Also found out you can spray pesticide around your house and up to a foot above your foundation. Apparently, cracks/crevices in the attack are a no-no, but looking at the attic in our rental house, this is probably not going to be a feasible part of our "kick the scorpions the heck outa here" plan.

--Pondering whether or not it was a good idea to tell my dear offspring that their grandparents are coming to see us today. I think surprise is going to be the order of the day from now on. They are wound up tighter than a who'da'thoughtit, and the grandparents from MS aren't coming until late tonight. UGH.

--Wondering why on the day you have a TON to get done your children can't seem to be in the same room together.

--While I was on the front porch swing on the phone letting the cake burn, uh, I mean get well-done, Aubrie swiped the scraper from the batter bowl, ran upstairs with it, and had a chocolate mask facial.

--I love that a family of mud swallows has their nest on our front porch (Can I blame them for the cake?), and I am fully enamoured with them. They are so big now that I'm not sure how they all fit in their fairly tiny nest. Also, I'm trying to prepare Emma for the inevitable - the birds will leave the nest. She's adopted them, named them, and I'm sure there will be mourning when they leave. If we're lucky, they'll set up housekeeping on our porch, too!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Two Posts in One Day...But For Good Reason

I know this is rare, but I'm just now learning how to upload pics to my loaner computer, and I didn't want to do this post without a picture. Just wouldn't be the same. Trust me.

First, and most importantly, I want to celebrate the birth of Jessie Claire. She was born May 17th of 2004, and is shockingly five years old. Have no idea where that time went.

Now if you know Emma and Aubrie, we could switch their baby pictures around, and no one, and I mean no one would be the wiser. Even Aubrie has convinced herself that pictures of Emma are her. Anyway, Jessie Claire has been her own individual since day one. While Emma's and Aubrie's hair was/is curly, Jessie's is stick straight. She was a hefty 9 lbs. at birth (w/nothing but Stadol, I might add) and is now a petite flower of a little girl.

She is a thinker, organizer and has one of the most tender hearts I have seen. She is so needed in our rough and tumble family, and makes me want to be more tender, too. She is our resident gymnast and is still torn between that and dance, and since we only have time, energy and wherewithal for one activity per kiddo, she must pick. It will be interesting to see which way things go. She also will be officially added to our little home school this fall although we've been easing her into things throughout the year.

I cannot fail to add that while she is, for the most part, a delicate flower of a child, she is also a Williams and has no problem in standing up for herself when she's just plain had enough. She actually used to get pretty physical ...okay, she was a biter. The upside was that she would only bite Emma (that sounds bad, doesn't it?). From my selfish perspective it at least saved me some embarrassment! The only exceptions to that were Reece Gibson and a kid at the YMCA. You didn't mess with Jessie's toys. Gladly, we've left that behind, but the tenacious attitude lingers. I hope we're the kind of parents that can help shape that attitude into perseverance and never-let-go faith.

Happy Belated Birthday, Jessie Claire!!

One last thing, if this post, you remember my encounter with the scorpion and my hope that he would NOT invite his friends to our house. Well, no such luck. Just discovered another live one in the girls' room as I'm putting them down for nap. 15 minutes ago. Ughhh! Going to have to find out how to get rid of these things. These pictures are of the first DEAD scorpion we found (also in the bathroom). I am so glad to say that the other two aren't quite as hefty as this one, but that only slightly eases my freaked-out-ed-ness.

A Little Homeschooling Stuff

I just sent this email to a friend of mine who is thinking about homeschooling her daughter when she starts kindergarten next year. I realized that I was talking her poor ear off, and so we decided I should email her some things so she could do some digging on her own. I thought that someone else might want to find out about our homeschool life so I'm posting my email to her on the ol' blog. Most of the websites I gave her are also on the right-hand side of the blog, but I went into a little more detail so she could pick and choose what she wanted to read. Hope this helps anyone who's considering this option.

Okay, here are my favorites:

This website will give you a VERY in-depth overview of some of the main reasons we chose to homeschool. Todd was introduced to classical education when he studied at Focus on the Family. Two things to read further on this are: _The Lost Tools of Learning_ and _Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning_. I can help you find is a book and the other is an article...we have both of them packed up "somewhere."

This is a website based on the book of the same name. This is kinda over-the-top, but follows the classical model (which I love) and has GREAT curriculum suggestions at the end of each grade-level chapter.

Charlotte Mason was an educator in England, and there is a book called _The Charlotte Mason Companion_ which condenses her 6-volume work into more understandable language. Also has some great child-rearing stuff in there. Her method is literature/experience driven and fits nicely with classical ed so I combine the two which I think lots of homeschool families do. Best of both worlds! This website actually provides a year-by-year curriculum guide which I consult. (I can show you how I combine all this later if you want.)

Now, when you've digested all that and are ready for curriculum websites let me know. If you want to go ahead and dig, I'll tell you that I use the following:

Saxon Math (going to use Singapore math with Jessie- tell you more later)
Handwriting without Tears
Winter Promise for readers
Ambleside online for read aloud material (it's free!)
Noeo Science (I've also purchased some stuff from Sonlight - they have an amazing catalog)
History Through the Ages for timeline figures
Mystery of History for their storybook (goes with the timeline - way cool)
I do a combination of things for phonics: Alpha Phonics, Explode the Code, McGuffy Primers, and one more book I just bought. I mainly use Alpha and McGuffy and fill in with the others if I feel E is getting bored. They're pretty old school so they aren't very colorful, but I LOVE how systematic and logical they are. If you watch Little House on the Prairie, you might notice that they are using McGuffy primers in the school, and they are really that old (which I also LOVE)! I know, I am so corny!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Computer on Loan

Well, our dead computer still isn't revived yet, but the place where we're having it fixed gave us one until it is! I was super excited since life without a fast computer is just no fun.

We've had a lot going on and even more coming up. Here's a brief summary just to catch you up:

* Emma was bitten in four different places by a spider on Monday. By Tuesday her forehead looked like a golf ball had landed on it, and one of the bites on her arm had a ring around it making it look scarily like a brown recluse bite.

*Tuesday Emma's bites are worse so we go to the doctor and are so THANKFUL to learn that they are not brown recluse bites but still kind of nasty. We are given a topical steroid, and things are finally looking much better.

*Tuesday evening Emma falls down while getting ready for bed cutting her lip - lots of blood so I was glad Todd was handy to help the clean-up on this one! Today (Friday) her lip and cheek are still swollen so we tried to get her in to get an x-ray, but no luck. I'll save the health care situation in Bastrop for another day, but will say that we'll probably be driving to Austin for most of our needs.

*Oh, on Monday Aubrie had been complaining of a tummy ache, and after we finished our trip to Costco and WalMart, she proved that she was in pain. Just as we're backing out of our parking spot, she gets sick. I don't want to be gross, but we had to have the van shampooed the next morning. Thankfully, we were five minutes from Todd's shop and were able to get some clean-up help from Daddy.

*My girls are growing up. Aubrie has said good-bye to pull-ups, and she and Jessie are both dry through the night. I think I may have bought my last diaper/pull-up, and Todd says that's enough money for a boat payment! :-) More on growing up - Emma fixed dinner tonight. We had VERY delicious turkey melts with dip and chips. I feel like I'm entering a whole new era of Mommyhood.

*I had the BEST mother's day weekend I think I've ever had last weekend. Todd and our friend Ruel kept all five of our girls so Julie and I could go to Chili's and have dinner including a Chocolate Molten yummy! Thank you, guys! That morning my friend Ashley and I walked for March of Babies in Austin and had lunch at Shady Grove which is really fun burger joint just down the street from the walk. My sweet family fixed a fun breakfast Sunday morning, and each of the girls had something special wrapped up for me. Later that evening we had a girls' night at the movies. Such a fun time!

* Highlights of what's ahead - Jessie turns 5 on Sunday, Judy and Jerry are going to visit next weekend for Jessie and Aubrie's joint b-day party, Todd is baptizing Emma the next day at church (our anniversary also), Monday Aubrie turns 3, and Tuesday Jessie graduates from preschool, cap, gown and all.

Oh, I forgot one more thing - I had a visitor in our bathroom this week...a live scorpion. I hope he doesn't invite any of his friends over! Those things give me the willies.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Comupter Dead

Our computer's mother board died last week. So sad. Not that I post just a ton, but it is really crimping other parts of my technical life. Thankfully, it looks like the issue we have has been covered by an extended warranty because the problem is so wide-spread. It may be a while before I'm back in action...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Much-Needed Retreat

I know I’m posting out of order, but that’s just the craziness of my life! This trip actually took place the first weekend of April.

I have two dear friends from college who decided during one of the most difficult times of my life to drop everything and come to my rescue. Chelsea was living in Colorado at the time, Kris was in the Dallas area, and I was living with my in-laws and pregnant with Jessie Claire. Jessie was just a few months from arriving, my mother had passed away a few months before, and we still didn’t have a house. To say the least, things were pretty stressful and, quite frankly, dark for me. Anyway, these two precious people did something for me I can never forget. Chels flew from Denver to Dallas and then she and Kris drove to Clinton to basically deliver a baby shower on my front doorstep. They came with gifts, lots of laughter,and, of course, Kris had baked goods! We played, ate, and shopped together, and thus began our “tradition.”

Two summers ago we hooked up again in Jefferson, TX, which proved to be pretty convenient for everyone. Chels, by this time had moved to east TX so it was a quick trip for her and only about four hours for me. We stayed at a bed and breakfast, shopped, ate and laughed until the wee hours of the morning.

Since we’re all in the same state again, we (actually Kris who always gets the ball rolling) decided it was time for another retreat. She threw out the suggestion that we each bring our oldest daughters along for the ride. I have to say that while we didn’t get as much personal visiting done as in the past, I have no regrets! Our daughters LOVED each other and had the best time playing together. I may be dreaming, but how great would it be if their friendship continues to develop through the years? Kris’ parents have a time share at Canyon Lake so we shopped in San Marcos and slept at the condo for free! Now that’s a retreat.

Somehow, we always forget to take pictures of ourselves on these little trips (which we are going to HAVE to get better at), but we did manage to get some of the girls.

Christmas and Canyon Lake 018

Emma, Reagan (Kris), and Alex (Chels) during a morning swim

Christmas and Canyon Lake 016

Lunch at Johnny Rockets

Christmas and Canyon Lake 017

Walking between shops at the outlet mall.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Weekend in the Woods

Well, I don’t have pictures from this big adventure yet – trying to get my non-tech friend to send me the ones she took, but I couldn’t wait anymore to post. We all survived, had a blast and got a little bit of sleep to boot!

Sleeping in our tent: we did have blow-up mattresses which came in mighty handy as the ground is really hard! (Feel free to laugh at me here.) The girls used their sleeping bags on top of the beds...keeps them from fighting over the covers. :-) Todd and I were sleeping in luxury with our cotton t-shirt sheets. We actually needed a fan for a while the first night, but when I woke up for the millionth time around 1 am, I turned it off...definitely a little chilly by then. I think the first night Emma had to go to the bathroom, Aubrie woke up cold and out of her bag, Jessie took Aubrie's pillow, and our friends' little girl had night terrors right next to us, and that kept E and I up for a while as we had just returned from the potty. Glad to say that the second night was VERY calm in comparison. We did have some younger campers next to us that second night who decided it was a good idea to wash dishes around 2 am. I'm sure I would have thought that at some point in my life LONG ago, too. :-)

We had s’mores over coals because we're still under a burn ban so it took a while but was so much fun! We also had an Easter egg hunt and just about lost Aubrie on the "mountain" behind our campsite. We were packing up and lost track of her so I go to a neighbor's site to look for her. I see her coming down the mountain, and let's just say that I've not allowed myself to think of what would have happened had she gone down the other side of the ridge... thank you, Lord, for your protection even when we're not asking for it! (For those of you who’ve read The Shack, I can’t let my mind go there either.)

The pictures I’m waiting for are of our crew up the mountain and on our hike that we took, and I'll be sure to share as soon as I get them. We have proof, I mean pics, of our pastor leading the kids in pushing down a pine tree which we're pretty sure is against the rules in our state park. He's a crazy man. We had seven families and about 14 kids along for the was wild to say the least.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Emma’s TX Birthday

We celebrated Emma’s 7th birthday this last Saturday at one of our favorite places: The Sugar Shack. It was one of the first places we discovered in our new town, and we love it. It has handmade candies, ice cream, every packaged candy known to man, and a really cute gift shop. They have a deck out back, and other than the wind, it couldn’t have been more perfect.

Emma, who wore camouflage for her party invitation pic last year and wanted a safari theme, completely surprised me this year when she picked out Barbie’s The Twelve Dancing Princesses for her invite this year. We were all pink, purple and VERY sparkly for this little shindig – all girl and so much fun. We made tiaras and beaded necklaces, and I tried my hand at a carriage cake.

Emma's 6th birthday invitation

Last year’s invitation

Emma's 7th birthday invitation

This year’s very girly choice, minus a few teeth.

Emma's TX b-day 036 Stitch

The really cute princesses.

Emma's TX b-day 039

The cake…just don’t look too closely! :-)

Emma's TX b-day 001

Emma striking a pose in her very sparkly pink dress. I love it!

For those who don’t know my dad, he was an elementary music teacher for a LONG time. We decided that he should hire himself out to do birthday parties to make some extra money. This is my sweet dad Bryan at his best! He was the hit of the party!

The best part was that the party was very low-key and low-maintenance. Both are very good in my opinion.

On a more sober note, I can’t believe that our first little one is seven years old. If my pictures weren’t in boxes under the stairs, I would scan one so you could see how curly her hair was and how dark it was when she was little. She is growing into such a precious young lady with way more self-control than I have sometimes.

I was talking to some friends in MS, and we found that we all seem to expect a great deal of our first-borns. I must say that Emma handles the expectations we place on her with so much grace and ease. She is a huge help around the house, and I find that I rely on her a great deal. Last week I really tried to just enjoy Emma and plan time with her doing things she likes. It was so much fun, and she just thrives on it. I tend to get wrapped up in my to-do lists, but I really want to plan more special time with this very special girl.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Good Times in MS

Just got in a little bit ago and had to follow up on our trip. This should be brief as I am really tired...

1. See Nan and Pops
2. Have a playdate with Amy and Jill (and anyone else that wants to join in!)
3. Go to Morrison Heights - visit my old SS class that I LOVE
4. Play Guitar Hero with Lori
5. Eat a chicken salad sandwich at Newk's!
6. Buy some t-shirts from the talented
Lisa Gunn
7. Sleep in
8. Drink coffee on the front porch
9. Celebrate Emma's b-day
10. Order a Mocha Choca Ya-Ya from Bops!

1. Loved seeing Nan and Pops which also made #7 possible on several occasions...complete bliss.
2. Got to go to Brighton Park with friends on Wed. - beautiful day and fun watching everyone keep up with their little ones!
3. Got to go to a SS fellowship last Sat. night and accomplished #6 while there.
4. Sadly, this one didn't happen!! Lori was out of town unexpectedly when I was free, and the week took off from me in warp speed after that. Sorry, Lori...maybe next time??
5. Got to have a girls' night at Newk's which was followed by #10. No, I did NOT follow my P90X diet this week...
6. :-)
7. :-)
8. Almost didn't happen, but Nanny decided to have breakfast on the porch this morning so all is well.
9. Nan threw a wonderful party for Emma and gave us a chance to visit with some more wonderful families.
10. Tried to figure out a way to do this twice, but considering the cake from That Special Touch for E's party that I ate, it's probably best that I didn't.

We're celebrating Emma's birthday here this coming Sat, so I'll blog about her sweet life later this week when I've had a chance to stop feeling like I'm still moving in a car. What causes this?

Thanks again to all our friends and family who made this week so much fun!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Post Script

Well, it seems that we won't be signing a contract tonight on the house in the Lost Pines. At least not for now. The sellers had some timing issues (things that they wanted taken care of next week), and we've had a Spring Break trip to MS planned for quite some time that we didn't feel we could cancel. They've decided to go ahead and list the house so the search continues. The good part is that we've gotten the lender search completed and are pre-approved so we are ready when we do find something that works out.

We are so excited about our trip to Clinton - we've really missed Nan and Pops not to mention all our friends and church family. We're planning to leave after Emma's game on Sat. if she has one at all. Last week we had temps near 90, and today we pulled the winter coats back out because it was raining with highs in the 40s. Crazy Texas weather! Personally, I'm kinda hoping the game is rained out because we could get on the road earlier and be rested for church the next morning.

Things I can't wait to do in Clinton:

1. See Nan and Pops
2. Have a playdate with Amy and Jill (and anyone else that wants to join in!)
3. Go to Morrison Heights - visit my old SS class that I LOVE
4. Play Guitar Hero with Lori
5. Eat a chicken salad sandwich at Newk's!
6. Buy some t-shirts from the talented
Lisa Gunn
7. Sleep in
8. Drink coffee on the front porch
9. Celebrate Emma's b-day
10. Order a Mocha Choca Ya-Ya from Bops!

(Notice the exclamation marks next to the food items.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Lot Going On, and a New Era

I have way too much to catch up on to be too creative so I'm just throwing it all out there. We have found a house and are planning to sign a contract tomorrow. Please pray all goes well, and we're able to amicably work out all the details. We found the house through our small group - just one more reason to love that group of people! We'll both save money because the couple hadn't listed the house yet so no realtor fees! Yippee!!

So, we've been busy with getting our affairs in order, finding a lender, and all the other gross stuff that comes with buying a house. And, we've just finished our taxes as well. Oh, the fun we've been having!! (I've had a root canal, and it was MUCH more fun than getting ready for a mortgage and/or the taxes.) We're excited about the house, but there was a little grieving involved because it finalizes the "death" of the hobby farm dream. The back yard is small. Very small. BUT, we are so thankful for the house because the space is great with wonderful closets, and we have lots of friends nearby. If you want to do some reading on the LostPines area of Bastrop, it's pretty interesting, and our neighborhood is smack dab in the middle of them.

In the mean time, life has slid by at a rapid pace, and we've been having a lot of fun!

Going back quite a ways, I made Todd's favorite cake for his Valentine's present: Lane Cake. I had never heard of such until I married into this fun southern family, and it is quite the southern cake. Judy (Todd's mom) gave me the treasured family recipe years ago, and we all agreed that this year's cake was my best performance. A random side note - I had never read To Kill A Mockingbird until a few years ago, and the cake is mentioned in the book. It also mentions one of the key ingredients, but I won't tell you what it is here! You'll have to look it up! :-)

Jessie and Aubrie studied life in Egypt at preschool this last unit and know all about the Nile River, pyramids, and Egyptian musical instruments. I LOVE their preschool. They also studied pottery and made their own bowls. They are eating their snack from their bowls below:

We made another trip to San Antonio to see that cute nephew of mine, and so I have to share pics. We realized that Colleen had somehow not gotten her picture with Judah at the hospital so we remedied that right away.

Emma and I are still having fun with her history lessons, and we recently studied about Joseph and of his seemingly disastrous adventures which God used for good. She got to make a cookie coat of many colors. I think she enjoyed eating it much more than making it. :-)

Now, for the new era. I am officially a soccer mom. Emma's first game was this last weekend, and she had a really good time. She started out a little uncertain but warmed up as the game went on. She's the only one on her team who hasn't played before, but we haven't told her that! She is so enamoured with all that's going on around her that she still has a little trouble focusing on just her field, but I think that will pass pretty quickly. Her legs are sufficiently bruised despite the shin guards, and she cares not a bit.

Have to go because Todd and I are doing P90X. Yes, we are slightly crazy, but it has proved to be the solution to my fitness dilemma. I'll post more about that later.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Fritters

Okay, corny title, I know. But, I didn't have anything even remotely original to share and thought I would just ramble a bit. I know. The excitement is more than you can bear.

Have I mentioned how much we love our church? Well, we do. It is very casual in atmosphere but very serious about scripture and fulfilling our purpose as a church. To say we have a great band sounds very shallow, but they are great to me, not only musically, but in how they lead us in worship. I know I've mentioned our homegroup, and I love them even more now than I did before. Very real people on a real journey with the Lord. Does it get any better than that?

Yesterday Emma and I went to our second science class for homeschoolers which is sponsored by a non-profit group that helps take care of a section of the Colorado River. Anyway, the first one was on mammals, and this one was on tree bark. Doesn't sound thrilling, does it? But, it was really pretty fun. The foresters brought all different kinds of bark samples, and we wound up down at the river reserve on a nature walk. Pretty cool, and it was a gorgeous day! I'm starting to really love where we live.

There is also a state park about 15 minutes from our house where we have planned to go camping. in. a. tent. in April. I'm afraid. I need to hurry up an get Aubrie potty trained because I really want to be pull-up free during the day. I haven't camped in a tent since I was a kid. We've done the cabin thing several times so this is something totally new. There are lots of families here who are totally into the camping, cycling, outdoors thing, and who wouldn't be when it's in your own backyard? In some cases, literally. I have two moms who've promised to make lists for me of things I need to bring. Any suggestions from the blog world?? I so need them!

As you know, I've had a bit of a hard time lately, but this was Todd's week to struggle. Things were just rough at work, but they've been rough for a while so it made things even worse. Anyway, I just think it's pretty wonderful that my attitude seems to be on the upswing so that I can emotionally support Todd.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Meme

I did this for Facebook a while back and just recently realized that Missy had tagged me on her blog. I thought I would cheat and just copy what I had already done. On #20, I enjoyed my class and am getting better at strumming. They actually taught a couple of strumming patterns that I can practice, and I think it's helping! Also, I'm getting some nice callouses on my fingers...I can't wait for practice to not hurt.

1. Given the choice of doing something with someone or by myself, I usually prefer to be alone. I even go to movies alone.

2. I love to read. Right now I'm reading a book by Francine Rivers. She's one of my favorite authors.
3. I have such a temper - when I was seven, we were having family pictures, and I didn't like what my mom wanted me to wear so I stormed off on my bike, ran into a tree branch and had to have stitches in my eyelid. I also have a nice scar in my eybrow.

4. My hair was blonde as a kid and didn't start turning darker until high school and college. I still don't realize sometimes just how dark my hair is now.

5. Colleen and I used to never tell on each other when we were little. We both had too much dirt on the other to make it worthwhile.

6. I wanted to be a ballerina when I was little and read all kinds of books about different ballet companies. I broke my fingure in ballet class once...probably a good thing God shut that door!

7. I lived in a van with 13 other people for four months on a singing tour- not really. We actually got to stay in a lot of Motel 6s and other people's homes. I still like these people! :-)

8. I used to refuse to do Bible studies by Kay Arthur and Beth Moore because I hate bandwagons or Christian "trends." (I'm so badly stubborn and slightly rebellious.) Finally, I came to my senses and am a Kay Arthur nut. I really miss my Bible study group at Morrison Heights. Since I'm w/o my group, I'm doing a Beth Moore study on John.

9. I've lived in 1) Grand Prairie,Texas, 2) New Orleans,LA, 3) Independence, MS, 4) Hernando, MS, 5) Columbia, MS, 6) Rocket, TX, 7) Red Oak, TX, 8) Clinton, MS, and 9) Cedar Creek, TX, and this is all since being married for only 11 years. Yes, we are semi-nomadic! :-)

10. I worked at DBU for about eight years.

11. I've been a substitute teacher.

12. I've been a 6th grade teacher.

13. I've been a 9th grade teacher.

14. I've been a college lit. professor.

15. I've been a houseparent (w/Todd) to 9 boys at the same time! Crash crourse in learning to cook for large groups!

16. I've been a literacy grant coordinator.

17. I homeschool my sweet girls. And, let me put my two cents in, that of all the jobs I've had, being a mom is the toughest and the most rewarding.

18. One of my favorite things to do is to go out to eat with Todd. We love to eat and talk and never get tired of trying new places...we both eat anything - including crawfish and raw oysters. See #24 below. Truly, a match made in heaven!

19. I like to make baby gifts for people - blankets, diaper bags, burp cloths, etc. I really want to take a sewing class so I can actually know what I'm doing.

20. I am signed up to take a crash course in guitar on Feb. 6 and hope to actually learn how to strum. The class claims it teaches this so we'll see!

21. I bite my nails. I actually quit when I'm pregnant so I have this theory that I'm missing something that I'm supposed to have that will make me quit (not that self-control has anything to do with it...).

22. I cannot stand shopping for clothes and do it only when the girls are running out of things to wear.

23. I love to cook (and eat) and am so thankful for a mother-in-law who shares all her incredible family recipes with me!

24. Todd and I started dating on a trip to New Iberia, LA, for Habitat for Humanity. I went on the trip mainly because my tax return didn't come back in time, and I didn't have enough cash to go on my church ski trip. Thanks, IRS, for a wonderful 11 years of true adventure!

25. We have been to seminary twice and have no degree, we thought we were going to Africa in March but wound up in Cedar Creek, TX, and though I have no idea what God has next for our little family, I KNOW it will be good because He is good all the time, and all the time He is good!