Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What have I been up to?

The first two weeks while the girls were at school I did not have any sub jobs and tutoring had not begun. I kept busy doing the normal necessary things - grocery shopping, preparing dinners, making school lunches, paying bills, cleaning the house, sorting through closets, doing laundry, running errands, and other exciting tasks.

I also got some projects done around the house that I had been saving for these weeks. I painted all the outside doors, part of the trim and all of the front porch ceiling. Thankfully, we had a cold front come in which helped make it more enjoyable. I'd like to call that a "God thing".

During those two weeks, I did research and made numerous calls in preparation to change our health insurance. The church doesn't provide health insurance so we have to get an individual plan which is super high (don't get me started). With all of Wes's medical bills dealing with cancer and all the required check-ups things have gotten progressively worse with our insurance plan. We plan to switch in January which should help a bit.

My friend and I are PTO Vice Presidents again which means we are in charge of 3 fundraisers throughout the year. It was easier this time around than last year, but it still takes lots of time.

We host our small group from church most Sunday nights, and we still have our weekly High School devo at our house. Keeping my house clean and in order for these keeps me plenty busy too.

Speaking of our small group, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! What a blessing it has been to Wes and I! Last semester our group studied Crazy Love together and now we are studying Coffeehouse Gospel. These are both AMAZING books, and I highly recommend them. Our group is going to go hear Francis Chan (author of Crazy Love) speak down in Dallas soon. I can't wait. Our studies and relationships have helped me grow spiritually. We have challenged each other, laughed with each other, served with each other, and shed tears together. Together, we are being reminded that this life is not all about us. We should care less about the latest gadgets, latest fashions, and bigger newer houses. We have a purpose on this earth. What matters is what we have done for God's kingdom. Are we being Jesus to those around us? Are we making the most of the opportunities around us to be a light for Him? Throughout these last several months we have tried to find ways we can serve others and be a light to others. A special highlight for me was getting to take a family from our community, whose daughter has battled brain cancer, school supply and clothes shopping before school started. Since then we have been able to minister to this family in other ways. I am praying for God to open even more doors so that we can share His love with them.

After those first two weeks the calls started coming for me to sub. So far I have about 25 jobs lined up through out the year. I only signed up to sub in the 7 elementary schools here and one middle school for now. I also started tutoring at Terrell Elementary where I tutored some last year. I am there Wednesday afternoons and most of the day Thursday and Friday. On occasion, I sub for the other tutors, too. On Wednesdays, I help 4th and 5th graders work on certain Math and Reading skills. On Thursday and Friday mornings I provide enrichment activities in Math to a group of about 22 second graders for an hour and about 23 third graders for a hour. There are a couple of other tutors in there to help out as well. They call this time, "Brain Lab" and it is for the higher level students. The rest of the morning I work with 1st graders building their fluency in Reading. In the afternoon I work with the 4th and 5th graders on Math and Reading skills. Terrell has a room for tutoring, full of supplies, resources, 15 computers, and tons of hands-on manipulatives. It is really a great set-up.

I have really enjoyed tutoring. I enjoy it more than subbing. It is nice to see the same students (even though it is many students across 5 grade levels), develop a relationship with them, and really feel like I am making a difference in their lives. I know what I am doing each day unlike when you sub and each class is different. I also get paid about twice as much as subbing, which is an added plus.

I may also be doing some tutoring at Hyde Park later on in the year and it will be neat to be on my old stomping grounds and at the same school with the girls.

I really like my schedule. I know I am really blessed! It is not stressful, my afternoons after school and evenings are free to devote time to our girls and have some quality family time. All my hours are not filled with tutoring and subbing, so I can get other things done while the girls are at school.

I often get asked if I will go back to full time teaching soon, and my response is, "not for a long time". I enjoy being able to spend a lot of time with the girls and being able to devoted time to youth group activities. Being a teacher is super stressful and takes a lot of time. (Can I get an "AMEN!" teachers?) I remember those days, and I have a lot of respect for teachers.

Soccer season has started - meaning two practices and two games a week around here. So far the Denison Lightning (Abby's team) and Denison Ponies (Avery's team) are undefeated! Woo hoo! Wes is Abby's coach again and Avery's assistant coach. They have both played well. Avery is playing on a larger field this year. It makes me tired just to watch them run all over it.

I want to end this post with a few funny quotes from the last several weeks.

When Avery hurt her lip she very sullenly asked, "If my lip gets infected will they have to cut it off." I am pretty sure she was thinking about one of the Little House on the Prairie shows where someone ended up losing their leg due to an infection. Poor girl!

When Abby came home from school the day Avery hurt her lip, Avery was quick to inform her, "Abby you can kiss me anywhere else, but not on my lips." I don't blame Avery for warning her. Abby is known to be pretty rough when it comes to "loving" on people.

A few days after school started I asked Abby is she felt like her school day was long. She replied, "Yeeeeessss, like as long as all the days I will be on earth!"

Several times lately, Abby has prayed this, "Thank you God for my BIG, BIG sister and thank you for my BIG, BIG, Daddy, and thank you for my little, little, Mommy, and thank you for my little, little, Lexi." It is pretty cute. (The first time, I have to admit, I was afraid she was going to say BIG, BIG, Mommy.)

And just tonight, during our devo which included a lesson on God being our Abba,
one of the questions was, "Why is the name 'Abba' so special?" Abby chimed in, "Because it's so close to MY name!" Love it!

Beaver's Bend

On Labor Day weekend, we took a mini vacation with Nana, Paw Paw, Katy, Blake, Tripp, and Grace. We picked up the girls right after school and made it there by dinner time. The cabin we stayed at was a cabin we had stayed at before - twice with two different groups of Seniors. It was neat to go back and read what we had written in the guest book. They had a hot tub, which was a nice addition. The girls, of course, wanted to get in it right away.

On Saturday morning we enjoyed an interesting breakfast by Wes. On one of Wes's guy's trip they made chicken and waffles and he loved it. He wanted us to try it out too. Basically, you just take a waffle and put a Chic-fil-A chicken breast on top and cover it with syrup. I have to admit, I was skeptical about this, but it was actually pretty good.

After breakfast we had some time to relax and watch the cousins play. We also spotted a couple of deer right outside our window. (We saw deer about 3 different times the whole trip.) Nana also took the grand-kids on a nature walk.

Abby getting some cuddle time with Aunt Katy.

We all loved holding sweet baby Grace. She was so content and peaceful. Before we know it she will be running around with her brother and cousins.

That afternoon we rented a boat from the marina. We had a great time tubing and water skiing. The girls were cute as they kept signing for Paw Paw to speed up. They would also try different tricks like dancing while riding or raising their hands up quickly and not holding on. They thought they were pretty cool.

I also got to enjoy some water skiing. I hadn't skied since last summer, but I was able to get up and stay up until my muscles could no longer take it. (It's like riding a bike.) Can I just say that I LOVE skiing!

We love boating!

I believe we are singing, "I like to move it, move it!"

Wes and Blake went tubing together and were trying all kinds of goofy tricks (trying to play airplane - with Wes lifting up Blake on his legs - like you do with little kids). Thankfully, no one was near us to see their embarrassing tactics.

They are planning something silly, for sure.

Blake and Tripp tried to go tubing for a bit. There was a short moment where Tripp actually looked like he was enjoying it, but then he began to cry. We certainly weren't going to torture him so we pulled him and Blake back to the boat. Tripp did enjoy riding on the boat and even got to help Paw Paw drive. Next year, I bet, he will be ready to join his cousins (Abby and Abby- That is what he calls them.) on a tube.

"Let's go faster Paw Paw!"

Cousin fun!

The next day we had another big breakfast and a lazy morning. The cousins wanted to venture into the woods and explore. I am pretty sure this is where our wonderful little friends, "the chiggers", met up with us. I HATE those things! I was in the woods the least, yet I got the most bites. UGGGG! Dabbing bleach on the bites seemed to be the best remedy. Has anyone had luck with something else?

The cousins enjoyed playing in the water at the cabin. They filled up buckets, tried to teach some bugs to swim, shot each other with water guns, and even captured a grasshopper with Nana's help. The next day I convinced Avery it did not want to come home with us. It needed to stay with his family and friends. Tripp loved spraying the water hose. Who knew that something like that would be such a great form of entertainment for the little guy?

That afternoon we went swimming in the lake for a couple of hours. The weather was perfect for us!

Pondering important things at the lake.

All that swimming made them hungry for a snack.

That night we ate outside. Paw Paw grilled some delicious hot dogs and hamburgers, and we ate Paw Paw's yummy homemade ice cream for dessert. We also made a campfire and roasted some smores.

Paw Paw had some fans while he made home made ice cream. Was it because he would give them some licks of ice cream? Hmmm...

Some good things take time.

Our family sitting around the campfire.

"Is it done yet, Daddy?"



After we put the kids to bed we played Things in a Box and had some good laughs.
The next morning we packed up to head on back home.

We sure had fun with everyone and made some great memories. We all wished Granny could have been there. Thanks Paw Paw and Nana for making the trip possible!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I Love My Lips!

Thursday, the first week of school, Avery gave us quite a scare. I was home painting our outside doors and porch trims (taking advantage of a cold front that had come in) when I got a call from school. The lady said, "We have Avery here in the office..." Immediately my mind starts thinking, "Oh no, what did she do?" But then the lady continued, "She had an accident in the cafeteria at lunch. She fell off her seat and bit through her bottom lip." I immediately called Wes who was just finishing up with a youth minister's meeting in Sherman. I told him to rush to school. I needed to at least change my paint stained clothes and wash the paint off my hands.

Thankfully, we live about 4 minutes from school. I felt much better when I saw her. It seems like you always imagine the worse. She was sitting in the office whimpering a bit with some Kleenex over her mouth. The office staff recommended I take her to the minor emergency clinic first. As I was pulling out of the school parking lot, Wes arrived and followed us. The receptionist at the clinic quickly got the doctor to come look at Avery. She reassured us that she could glue it, and that it would be no problem. About 5 minutes later Avery was being cleaned and then quickly glued. She was a trooper through it all.

As we were leaving the room, I felt extremely light headed and weak, like I was going to pass out. I told Wes who quickly motioned me to a chair. Then, of course, the nurses and doctor start coming to my aid. I was thoroughly embarrassed! But, I knew if I got up I would pass out. I passed out once in high school on a mission trip when I had been out in the heat to long and didn't drink enough, so I knew the feeling. They moved me to a room and had me lie down. They gave me some crackers and water. I think it was all the excitement from everything that happened with Avery, and the fact that it was 1:15 and I had not had anything to eat or drink since breakfast. Plus, I had been doing all that painting. Anyways, I felt pretty ridiculous. After 10 minutes or so I felt much better and was able to drive home.

Poor Avery's lip swelled up pretty bad. The outside did not look too bad. The cut where a bottom tooth went through was about 1 cm wide, but then it was really red for about 2cm past that. The inside of her lip looked very bad. It was all mauled up from her teeth. She is lucky more teeth did not go through. She had to gargle salt water or peroxide several times a day for a good week and a half until it healed up inside.

Eating and talking were hard for several days. You would think soft foods would be good, but harder foods were actually better. She drooled a lot because it hurt too bad to close her mouth, so soft food would just run out of her mouth. She couldn't suck on a straw because it hurt her to bring her lips together. Needless to say, we went through lots of napkins and laundry. She was tough though. She went to school the next day. The other students were sweet and caring to her. Now she just has a little red dot under her lip that I am sure will disappear soon.

I did not take pictures until a few days later because I didn't want to make her feel like some sort of freak show.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Our Kindergartner and Second Grader

Yes, I am just now blogging about the first day of school. Sorry, blogging is towards the bottom of my priority list. Ha!

School started August 24th. Wes and I both took the girls to school. We stopped at Abby's room first. She has Mrs. Mackay for a teacher which is the same teacher Avery had. We loved her! I taught with her at Hyde Park before the girls were born. Anyways, Abby was very excited, but quiet. I was excited for her, but my heart was breaking inside. This day had come way too quickly. I held back the tears as we got her settled and took some pictures, but I couldn't hold them in any longer as we left the room. Parents and teachers empathized as I boo-hooed my way up to Avery's classroom.

We got Avery settled in Mrs. Watson's room. It was a little strange because this is the first year that we really don't know her teacher. The first year she had Mrs. Mackay who I had taught with, and last year she had Mrs. Pughe who is a member of our church. I have heard great things about Mrs. Watson, but it was just strange dropping my kid off with someone for about 8 hours a day, 5 days a week that I really didn't know personally.

Wes went off to work and I headed off to many errands I had been saving for this day with no kiddos. All day, and for several days it was just a weird feeling having both girls in school. In some ways I am ready for them to be this old, but in a lot of ways I am not.

I am glad that they are at Hyde Park. Because I taught there for 3 years I know the principal and several of the teachers and staff pretty well. This helps me feel more comfortable and at ease.

Friday, September 03, 2010


Two weeks before school started we set out for Anniston, Alabama to see my Grandma (my Mom's Mom), my Aunt Cathy and Uncle Ed. I love road trips! This one took us 12 hours. The girls did amazing! Abby enjoyed watching videos. Avery read a book, watched videos and played Barbies with Abby. They are at a good age now where traveling is so much easier. They entertain themselves so well, they don't get fussy or cry, they can feed themselves, and their bladders are bigger (although Avery wins the award for needing more potty breaks - I think Abby must have a gigantic bladder).

We arrived around 8pm and had a good time catching up with Cathy and Ed. The next day Cathy and I ate breakfast with my Grandma. She is in a nursing home now. She suffers from Alzheimers and needs the help of trained professionals. She stayed with Cathy for a while, but now her Alzheimers has gotten so bad that she needs the extra care. Her nursing home is close to Cathy so that is convenient. It is a beautiful facility with gorgeous grounds. Most nursing homes have that gross smell and the people staying there look so sad and depressed. This place had a pleasant smell and cheery atmosphere.

It was sad to see Grandma in the state she was in. She was happy and content and would laugh from time to time, but it was clear that the disease has a strong grip on her. She sees Cathy almost every day and can't remember that she is her daughter. I have such good memories of Grandma. She was a wonderful artist and painted several pictures of her grandchildren. She even got paid to paint to paint pictures for people. She was also very crafty and made all kinds of things. She always had big doll houses in her yard that we could play in. The rooms had pictures of her grandchildren that she painted. She had dolls and dishes and would often play along with us. She always had a stash of dress up clothes for us too. When we were older she would bring costumes to our week long family reunions and would help us put on skits for the rest of our family. When we stayed at her house in Modesto, CA we always enjoyed going down the street together to swim in the community pool. I shared with Avery and Abby how my Grandma used to be. It was neat to show the girls pictures of Grandma and to show them her paintings and some of the crafts she had made. Cathy even gave the girls a pony Grandma had actually cut out and painted and another sculpture she had painted.

After breakfast we brought Grandma with us over to Cathy's house where we enjoyed watching some old home videos. One was of us and the Bushes (our good family missionary friends in Kenya) at Christmas when I was about 8 years old. The girls got a kick out of seeing me as a little girl. It was neat to see Mom in the videos. One of the hardest things about her being gone is the fact that the girls don't get to be around her or get to know her. Avery was 3 and Abby was 1 when she passed away.

In the afternoon we went swimming in Cathy and Ed's pool. The girls, of course, loved this. Cathy, Wes, and I all helped Avery learn how to dive. We all also had fun playing with their dog, Cisco who would get in the pool.

Avery enjoying her favorite fruit.

Nothing like eating some juicy watermelon around the pool.

We loved hanging out with Aunt Cathy in the pool.

After swimming we went to see Despicable Me. It was easily one of the best kid's movies we had seen in a while.

Sporting the cute 3D glasses.

The next day we did more swimming and we all went and saw Ramona and Beezus. I read all the Ramona books when I was younger so I really enjoyed the movie. We visited Grandma and told her good-bye.

We love you Grandma!

The next morning we headed back to Texas. A fun highlight of the trip back was our sing-a-long. We would take turns choosing a song off of Wes's IPOD to sing at the top of our lungs and dance to (as well as you can all strapped in). It was a blast!

Abby in the middle of her dance moves. Sadly Avery would not let me take her picture.

We also stopped by Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. Wes's favorite team is the Alabama Crimson Tide, so we had to make the stop. As we were walking to see the statues of some of their coaches, Abby asked why we were doing that. I replied, "To make Dad happy... lets go." They were actually about to put in the new statue of Nick Saban the day we were there, which made Wes's day!

Wes and the girls with Gene Stallings, coach of the 1992 National Championship team.

Posing with Bear Bryant. Abby is quick to comment about his "Horsetooth" (Hounds-tooth) hat.
The soon to be site of Coach Saban's statue.

I was so thankful that we made the trip. It was good to see Cathy, Ed, and Grandma and catch up with each other. Cathy, I am still rooting for you all to move to Texas. Thanks again for a great time! We love you all!