Monday, January 09, 2012

Abby's Kindness

On Friday, I received this email from Abby's teacher.

Mr. and Mrs. Encalade,

I wanted to tell you just what a wonderful girl you have! We have a little boy in class who struggles with behavior and finishing work. On Fridays I draw tickets for prizes. He doesn’t get many tickets and becomes very upset, so Abby told him, a few weeks ago, if her name is pulled he could have her prize. Then today, her name WAS pulled—She is the one who reminded him that he could have her prize. As if this wasn’t touching enough- her name was pulled AGAIN!!!! And AGAIN she gave him her SECOND prize!!!! I was about to cry!:) She is just so wonderful – she is always willing to help others. She thinks of ways to help others in such a way that they really know she cares. I am truly enjoying having Abby in my class this year! Thank you for sharing her with me this school year! She is truly a blessing!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Emily Carr

Hyde Park Elementary

1st Grade

This email brought tears to my eyes and made me super proud! Abby let me know about this idea that she came up with on her own a few weeks before the break. I am thrilled that she actually went through with it. What a sweetie pie!
We told her how proud we were of her, and that this made us even prouder than all her good grades. We told her those kind of actions made God proud too.

New Year's Eve

Our church was among a small percentage of churches that were given the DVD of Courageous before it was released to the general public.
The church decided to show it on New Year's Eve. We ate finger foods then sent the kids to another room to watch CARS 2 while the adults watched Courageous. What an awesome movie! I was really impressed! If you have not watched it, be sure to have some Kleenex with you when you do.
After the movie some people hung around to play Minute to Win It under the direction Wes and all his creativity. We also got in a game of Mafia before the countdown to the new year.
Again, I didn't take pictures. Well, at least I have this post to document our good times with great friends.
I don't know what I would do without my church family.

Dinner With Old Friends

It is not very often that we get to see old friends of ours that were missionaries in Kenya when we lived there. It was such a treat for David and Mary Helen Bush to stop in Denison on their way home from vacation. We had a great time eating together, catching up and playing some fun games.
The Bush family was some of our best friends in Kenya. We got together with them often, even though we lived hours apart. We made lots of great memories with their kids who were our age while at each other's houses, at the beautiful Mombasa beach and on other vacations. We finally got to live in the same town years later in Abilene.
It was so good to see David and Mary Helen once again. The Bushes will always hold a special place in my heart. I only wish we could have seen their kids and their families, too.
Sadly, I didn't think to take any pictures.

Friday, January 06, 2012


Because we spent Christmas Day in Panama last year with Aaron, we spent Christmas Day this year with the Encalades.
We had Dad and Gina over the day before Christmas Eve. We got a few games in before opening presents. We enjoyed watching everyone open their gifts with eagerness.
Our Christmas dinner together included honey ham, sides, and desserts that the girls and I prepared. Following dinner we drove to see the Christmas lights at Loy Lake. I must say that they were pretty impressive. It was especially nice because the line wasn't that long and it was warm enough outside to even have our sunroof open which allowed Avery to poke her head out.

On Christmas Eve we celebrated Christmas with just our family. In keeping with our tradition, we read a children's book about Jesus's birth and why we give each other gifts at Christmas. Then we took turns opening presents. I love watching the girls get so excited each year as they open their gifts.

Later, we finished packing up a bit before driving down to Arlington to be with the Encalades. Katy and Blake and their kids joined us Sunday after church. Of course, the cousins had a ball together.
Before opening our presents we carried out our tradition of singing some Christmas church songs and reading about the birth of Jesus.
This year, Avery and Abby took turns reading it to us. Tripp also helped a little by filling in some blanks or repeating sentences. It was pretty cute.

All in all, we made some great memories together and had a good time celebrating the birth of Jesus together with our family.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Granny's Birthday Party

On Monday, December 19th we headed down to Maggiono's in Plano for a special dinner with lots of extended family to celebrate Granny's 80th birthday. Wes's parents rented a large dining room there, so we could walk around and visit with everyone. Plus, all the kids could roam around and not have to be seated the whole time. It was great to be able to see everyone and catch up. Avery and Abby especially had a great time with their first and second cousins.
After dinner all the older girls (Avery and Abby's age) were standing near the front of the room. I told them that they should sing some Christmas songs. They loved the idea and immediately put their heads together to decide which songs they should sing. Tripp (our 3 year old nephew) even joined in with them. They did an awesome job and it was a special treat, I think, for Granny (and the others) to be entertained by these sweet kids.
Debbie hired a photographer, so I need to post some of those pictures when they are ready.
Granny was super pleased with the party and mentioned several times how much fun it was. We are blessed to have Granny in our lives, and it was a joy to celebrate her!

My Little Bakers

One Christmas tradition we have around here is baking together. This usually involves decorating some sugar cookies as well.
This year I decided to help the girls make gingerbread cookies to decorate with icing.

We also made some Holiday Pretzel Treats.

We also tried our hand at some Molasses Cookies that Pat made for a couple different church events and was kind enough to pass along the recipe.
After everything was all made we delivered them to family, friends, neighbors, and some elderly couples at church.
This year was a success, and it was interesting to see how much the girls have grown in their decorating skills. There are no longer globs of icing, but they now better understand that, often, less is more when it comes to decorating with icing.
I love that Avery and Abby enjoy baking for others as much as I do, and I hope to continue this tradition for many years to come.

Avery's New Room

On the Friday that Christmas break began, Wes and I started painting Avery's room and actually finished it that night. She told us that for Christmas she would like her room redone with new bedding etc. I thought that was a good idea since I was the one who chose her colors and bedding when she got out of her crib many moons ago. Avery was so excited one Saturday afternoon to start shopping that she and I began looking online for ideas. About 45 minutes later she had found what she wanted. And much to my liking, it was on SALE!
We had told Avery that she would need to sleep in Abby's room that night since there was still a strong smell from the paint and her furniture was all in the middle of the room. She and Abby immediately became excited at this news. They have slept in the same room on numerous occasions at camp or at grandparent's houses, but I never would have thought they would get so excited about doing it at home. So, I jumped right on that excitement train and told them that if they got along during the day they could sleep in the same room at night. This worked like a charm during Christmas Break. My hope is that now that school has started back (and we don't really want them keeping each other up or waking each other up in the morning) they will be in a routine of getting along. Is that wishful thinking?

I uploaded the video of her room to YouTube since I couldn't get it to upload on blogger. Does anyone else have this problem?


Ladies In Faith Together, LIFT, is something my friends and I started back at the beginning of the summer. I actually wasn't much of a help over the summer because I was gone on all our youth trips. Basically we decided that we wanted to reach out to our community and be a light to those around us. We all agreed that one way we could do this was by planning activities twice a month with the Homeless Shelter in town.
We were able to come together and reach out to the people at the shelter. We helped one family that had just left the shelter by providing them with all kinds of donated items: from furniture and bedding to dishes and food. We even got to help them set up their house for their new beginning. Avery and Abby helped load and unload, set up clothes, and organize toys. It is never to early to make a difference, right?
We did other things like make ice cream sundaes at the shelter while we visited with them.
One thing that is especially neat about this group from the shelter is that the children go to school at Terrell where I tutor. It has been a joy to develop relationships with the students. One family in particular has five children, 2 of which I tutored on a daily basis. Another church picks up people from the shelter to go to church. One of the teachers I work with who goes to that church told us that the whole family got saved and was baptized on Christmas Day. Praise God! I have mixed emotions now because the family has moved out of the shelter into their own house in Sherman which I know is a fantastic thing for them, but that means that they have switched schools and I won't see them anymore. I had developed a bond with the oldest girl and boy who were in 5th grade.
One night before Halloween we brought the children from the shelter to our building for a meal and to try on all sorts of costumes that had been donated by our members. It was a hoot watching them try on and act like the characters they were dressed as. At the end of the evening they were able to choose a costume to keep.
During December they were picked up and brought to the church to shop for their siblings, parents, and teachers. Lots of new and used items had been donated by our members. I am always amazed at the generosity of our church family. Each child from the the shelter was able to choose three items for every member of their family and we still had items left over. We helped them wrap their gifts and they left with garbage bags full of wrapped gifts looking almost like Santa himself.
On another night they were picked up from the church by one of our members, Jim Russell, who was dressed like the conductor from The Polar Express. He even passed out tickets on the bus. We watched The Polar Express together while eating dinner and yummy Christmas treats. After the movie they each had a turn on Santa's lap and he gave them each a wrapped present with pajamas just their size that we had purchased.
I have thoroughly enjoyed working with these ladies and I am super proud of all the behind the scenes work that my friends put into making it all come together each time. My hope and prayer is that our new friends from the shelter have seen Jesus through our words and actions, and that we have touched them in some small way.

Project Christmas

Our church has a wonderful program each year called Project Christmas where small groups choose families from our community to adopt and bless with Christmas gifts.
Our small group decided to adopt one of my friend's precious students as well as a woman and her three daughters who have recently moved out of the homeless shelter. We all donated money and then we got to go on a shopping spree for them. Usually mostly toys and clothes are purchased, but because this family had just moved out of the homeless shelter they had many household needs. It was was such a joy to be able to bless them. Avery and Abby went with us when we shopped. They had a great time picking out things and were a big help. I am always thankful when Avery and Abby get to be a part of something like this where they get to learn the importance of giving and serving others. They were also with us when we delivered the gifts to the family and were able to see the gratitude expressed by the woman we were able to bless.
I am so thankful that our small group gave so generously to bless a young boy who has had a pretty rough life lately and a young family trying to make a fresh start.

Christmas Caroling

Each Christmas we try to go caroling. Usually we go with the youth group. This year we went with some friends from our small group. We took the church bus which made it extra fun, and it allowed us to practice our songs between stops. We visited two nursing homes where some of our church members stay and two elderly couples who cannot get out much.

We had such a wonderful time visiting our friends and bringing them some Christmas cheer. Wes was kind enough to put some Christmas song books together for us. It is amazing how you forget the words to the songs we sometimes just sing once a year. I think one of my favorite parts of the evening was watching our children share hugs and kisses with our elderly friends.

Abby, Abby, and Avery loving on Nikki.

We ended the night with dinner together at Panda Express.

This is a tradition we will definitely carry through the years.