Monday, July 28, 2014

Early 20th Anniversary Weekend Get Away

In August, Larry & I celebrate twenty years of marriage.  Since our anniversary falls during the week that I go back to work for in-service at school, we decided a couple months ago that we'd do a little weekend away in late July to celebrate early.  At the time we planned the trip, Larry's dad was still alive and we had no idea what the future months held.  Since his dad's death in late May, we have all been working every weekend at his house, cleaning up things, getting it organized for an estate sale, working on the property, etc.  Larry has spent more time than the rest of us, dealing with legal matters and helping out the rest of his family who live in the same area.  So this weekend when we left town it was as much about our anniversary get-away as it was getting away from all the hard work he's been doing for months now.  He needed a break.

On Saturday morning, just before lunch, we left on our great adventure.  Our destination was Nacogdoches, TX.  This is where we lived when we first got married.  We thought it would be fun to spend the weekend there and reminisce.  On our way there, we stopped at this pretty church & cemetery.  We're weird like that.  Old churches and cemeteries are so interesting to us.  We have no particular connection to either, but it was a cool place to stop and look around briefly.  It's okay.  You can think we're strange.

After our visit at this stop, we continued on our way to Nacogdoches.  This was our home for the weekend.

This was the view out our window---notice the deer feeder in the field?  We watched for deer all weekend but never spotted one.

Upon arrival, we promptly took a nap.  I know, I know....we're old!  ha ha!  Later Saturday afternoon, we hopped in the car and went for a drive around our old stomping grounds.  It was fun to see how much has changed...and how much hasn't!

If you're not familiar with Nacogdoches, TX (pronounced Nak-ugh-dough-chiss) it is the home of Stephen F. Austin State University.  I attended there in the Fall of 1994 when we lived there.  We roamed around the campus for a while, getting lost in all the new paths and buildings that have been added.

We went to Beall's and bought Larry some sandals while we were there and stopped at Family Dollar to get a curling iron for me because I forgot mine.  Aren't we romantic?  Can't you see the flowers & balloons & little smiley faced sunshines all around us?  ha ha! 

And don't forget the stop we always make on every trip. Bookstore!!!!

I got these.  (I'm almost finished with Bossypants.)

After the bookstore, we went to the apartments where we first lived after our wedding and found our old apartment.  Great memories!  This place was where we spent our first four months of marriage, in a tiny 500 sq ft apartment.  I found a floor plan online and it can't convey well enough how tiny the apartment was--but it was perfect for us!  {Note:  Our apartment was the flip-flopped version of this floor plan, but it's the same place none the less.}  We had to be sneaky when we got there.  We weren't sure if the current tenants were home or might be freaked out that we were tip-toeing up to the door to get a picture.  ha ha!

We eventually found a place to eat and roamed around some more before finally heading back to the hotel about 6:00.  We laughed that we must be really old and boring.  I dozed off reading my book while Larry watched some TV for a while.  About 8:00, we (woke up) decided to go out for some ice cream, so we headed into town and found this humorously-named frozen yogurt shop.  It was yummy.  I really have no idea why it's called this.  The yogurt was made with regular milk.

Sunday morning we slept late and then headed out for brunch.  I had a not so lovely experience with a really greasy piece of zucchini there, but the rest of the meal was good.  We roamed around the SFA campus a little more after brunch and found the Arboretum.  I had seen it mentioned online and wanted to find it.  I'm so glad we did.  It was really nice.  I'm sure that it would be even prettier in the spring when all the flowers are blooming, but it was nice this weekend, too!  There are trails to walk through the flower garden part, then another trail through the "Shade Garden", which was really nice in the heat.  If you live within a couple hours, I would recommend it.  It only took us about 45 minutes to walk through it, but if it was a little cooler we would've stayed longer and enjoyed it more.  In the spring, there would've been more to see, too, so it would take longer to walk through all of it.

(Remember, it's late July in East Texas.  It was about 400 degrees at about 1:00 PM.  Sweaty selfies rock!)

After the arboretum we found some cold drinks and air conditioning for a while, then headed out again to the movies.

In all our driving around town, we found several really pretty churches.  These two were my favorites!  These are pics I found online because I didn't get a chance to snap a picture when we drove past.  This first one is Christ Episcopal Church.  The second one is labeled with its name.

After the pretty church hunt we went back to the hotel to swim.  It was nice.  The water was just the right temperature and the 2 kids and their dad left to go back to their room just as we got there.  When you can have the pool all to yourselves, that is the perfect time for swimming!  Hush up about my sock line!

This morning we made our way back home.  It was a little sad to leave behind our weekend of sleeping late and taking naps and remembering the "good old days" in Nacogdoches, but reality called and it was time to return.

Tonight, we sat around with the kids and watched Monsters University.  It was good to be home, snuggling with them on the couch, watching an animated movie.

For those of you who knew about this little detail, our kids survived!  Since Savannah will be 18 next week {let's not even talk about that!} we decided it would be okay if the kids stayed here alone.  We left money for dinner Saturday night, tickets for the movies yesterday and a long chore list to be completed while we were gone.  Somehow we returned to a still-standing house and no one had bruises or stitches.  Could it be that they're really growing up & learning to get along?  For those of you who were watching out for them, calling & checking in and praying for them to be smart & safe while we were gone, THANK YOU.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Follow up about

A few days ago, I posted THIS post about snacking.  Today I got my shipment from the company mentioned in that post, so I wanted to post a follow-up.

First of all, this is what the box looked like when it arrived in my mailbox.  I know it's a tad hard to tell the size of the box by this picture, but it was about 1.5" thick, and about the length & width of a shoe box.  (for women's shoes!)

When you open up the box, it looks like this.

In my box, I got the following snacks.
(Top Left) Smoky Chipotle dip with rosemary breadsticks
(Top Right) Fruit & Seed Flapjack bars (think granola bar)
(Bottom Left)  Chili & Honey Almonds
(Bottom Right)  Key Lime Pie (snack mix)

Each of the snacks is about the size of my hand.

I opened the flapjack (the one in my hand in the pic above) first.  It was a very soft, moist, chewy granola bar snack.  It was made with rolled oats, mixed seeds & dried fruit.  It was SOOOO yummy!  This flapjack was cut into 3 pieces, so I ate one, then moved onto one of the other snacks (I wanted to try them all!)

Sarah opened the chipotle dip & rosemary sticks but was not thrilled with it.  She said the dip was a little sweet.  I tasted it & found it to be very tasty.

Next, Sarah opened the Key Lime Pie snack mix.  It was a combination of lime raisins, mini meringues, sponge (cake) pieces {but they really just looked like tiny Nilla Wafers to me!} and green raisins.  She doesn't like raisins, so she ate around the raisins & enjoyed several of the mini cookies & mini meringues.  However, when I tried 1 of each kind of raisin together w/ the mini meringues & mini cookies, it really did taste like key lime pie!  Yummy!

Last, I opened the chili & honey almonds.  Since I love flavored almonds, I really expected to like this, but they were way too spicy for me.  I don't like spicy things too much, so those were a no-go for us.  {Don't worry...I didn't starve.  I went back & finished off the flapjack bars!!}

All in all, the box was a hit.  And it helps that it was totally FREE.  I've had 2 people sign up under my friend code, so I will receive a couple dollars off my next box.  They're supposed to be $6 per box, so my next box will only cost $4.  And I figure, if I went to the convenience store & bought 4 snacks for the kids and I to share, I'd probably spend at least a dollar or two on each snack, so the cost is not totally unreasonable.

I'm looking forward to see what my next Graze box brings!!

{And don't worry--after trying all our snacks, I went to the Graze site & rated the snacks I got today.  We will never get another package of the chili & honey almonds....and we'll only occasionally get the chipotle dip & rosemary sticks!}

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Savannah had a wreck!

Tuesday, July 15th, was supposed to be a pretty average day.  Sam got up early & went to training camp at the school (think athletics boot camp) and then came home to hang out and help his friend (neighbor) who was moving into another house in the 'hood.  Sarah slept until 11:00 (ahhh....summertime) and I was doing my usual things around the house.  Savannah is working at a doctor's office these days, so she had left at 8:00 AM to go to work.  Larry was about 90 miles away for work.

About 1:30, Samuel, Sarah and I left the house to go run some errands.  We stopped at my thirty-one consultant's house first.  Then we left and went to the preschool where I subbed last week to pick up my paycheck.  When we got to the preschool, I left my phone in the car.  I knew I was just running in for a second, so I didn't think it would be an issue.  I was only in the building for 5-10 minutes, but by the time I got back to the car, my phone was blowing up with texts & missed calls.  When I picked it up to check those, it started ringing in my hand.  Larry was frantic.  "Savannah had a wreck & needs you there NOW."  Once we established where she was and that was sounded okay on the phone, I took off.  I was only about 4-5 miles away, but I think I made it there in 30 seconds.  (OK, so maybe a tiny bit longer.)  In those 5 miles, the cars on the road could not get out of my way fast enough!!  {Poor Larry was driving like a bat out of....trying to get to us as fast as possible.  Turns out, he admitted later that he was going 80, pulling a trailer behind his truck.  Once I called & told him I was with her and she was OK he slowed down, but those protective daddy hormones are strong, folks.}

When I arrived at the scene of the wreck, Savannah was standing upright next to her car, a big truck and a police car.  All I needed to see was that she was standing up and I knew she was alright.  No blood, no bones sticking out...nothing else mattered!  I parked the car & told Sam and Sarah to stay in the car and ran to her and hugged her.  The police officer and the other driver's mom watched and grinned.  Obviously, all of us parents understand that moment of relief when you find out your kid is okay after a wreck....that moment of overwhelming panic is resolved in that first hug.

It turns out that she was stopped at a red light & was rear-ended by a 17 yr old boy.  She was in a Pontiac G6.  He was in a Ford Expedition.  Clearly, she lost that fight.  Or rather, the back end of her car did.

After we got home & the adrenaline stopped pulsing through her, she admitted that her right side was pretty sore.  Her neck, shoulder, arm, elbow & fingers even!  Since she works for a group of spine doctors, they're going to check her over today & make sure she's okay!  I feel like she's fine, but will just be sore for a few days.  This is what the back end of her car ended up looking like.

And fortunately it was the car that left on the back of a truck...not my baby in an ambulance!

Feeling very blessed and fortunate today that God protected my baby girl yeserday!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Do you like to snack?

It looks like my last several lengthy posts have all been catching you up sort of posts.  I promise to do that again soon, but I wanted to encourage you to try something with me.

A few months ago, a girlfriend of mine posted about a website called Graze on facebook.  I was intrigued as she talked about her 1st graze box shipment.  She said she had picked out items from a selection on the site and then they mailed her a box of healthy snacks every other week.  Each box cost her $6 and held a few snacks to try.  I looked at the website at the time & thought it looked interesting.  There were grains and fruits and nuts and "flapjacks" (which look like granola bars to me!) and seeds and popcorns and savory items and dippable snacks, too.  Everything looked yummy!  But at the time I wasn't ready to try it out.

Tonight I decided it was time.

I am so tickled & excited to get my first box next week!  I signed up for a "nibble box".  You can choose from that or a "calorie counter" box.  (Calorie counter boxes exclude the granola bars & a few of the other higher-calorie items.)  Nibble boxes include a little bit of everything.  Since I signed up under my friend's code, I get my first and fifth boxes free.  I'll pay $6 for the 2nd, 3rd & 4th boxes and I can cancel at any point if it's just not really the thing for me.  I thought about it and realized that we spend AT LEAST $6/mo on snacks anyway, so the cost is not that bad.

I'll let you know after I get my first box if it's crazy overpriced or if it's worth it!  But until then, check out the site & see what you think!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Let's catch up!

Let's sit down and have a cup of tea and catch up, friends.  Wait.  I don't like tea, so we should have something other than tea.  I don't like coffee either, so that won't work for me, but if you want coffee, feel free.  Hmm...actually, you get a cup of whatever you'd like and I'm going to talk (write) while you read.  After all, if I try to drink something while I talk (write) I might spit or spray and that's just gross.

Okay, so it's time to catch up.  I realized the other day that I haven't posted anything in almost a month.  So much has happened since then.  Let's see if I can fill in the gaps for all four of the people who actually read this.

As I mentioned in the last post, we lost my father in law on May 26.  It was a very difficult ten days before his death.  He went into kidney and heart failure, then liver failure ...and then slowly slipped away.  He spent six days in a local ICU before he moved to hospice.  God bless all the hospice workers of the world.  That has to be one of the most rewarding and emotionally draining jobs in the world.  The people who cared for my father in law were precious.  We will be forever grateful.  Larry performed his funeral service a few days after he passed away.  It was hard for him, but he loved being the one to honor his dad.  I just think it was wonderful and really brave.  Gosh I love the man God gave me!

A few days later, Savannah did this.

I know.  I'm still reeling.  I made it through the ceremony with only 2 tissues.  I really figured it would take many more, but somehow I pulled it together.  I still can't believe that she's done with high school... but at the same time, I can.  She was born for this time of succeeding and learning independence.  I look at her regularly and smile as I think "Wow.  I made that."  She is really an incredible, awesome kid.  So proud of her!

Samuel left for Yellowstone with his grandparents the day after they got out of school.  He had a ball.  Most of his pictures looked about this enthusiastic.  Sigh.  He is 14.  I have to keep reminding myself that he will smile for pictures again, one day.

The week that Sam returned from his trip, we had a couple of big moments.

I interviewed for a new job.

I didn't get it, but a good friend did, so it's all good!  I really wasn't dying to change jobs but I would love to get back into the local school district.  I was born & raised here and my kids are in school here...and we live here.  Saving money on gas would be awesome!  However, I am content and happy in the job where I am so I will gladly return there this fall unless God drops something incredible and unexpected in my lap.

Savannah has started a new job.  After almost two years in food service at Chick Fil A, she was 'done'.  God bless the fried chicken patty and waffle fries that kept her employed and bought her first car and paid for her insurance and phone bill since October of 2012, but she was ready to move on and get out from behind a fast food counter.

She is now working in a doctor's office doing filing and other office tasks.  We know the office manager and she has offered to keep Savannah busy long-term.  She will be able to work there through the next couple of years while she attends our local junior college (they will flex around her school schedule) and it is only a few miles from the college, so it will make life easy for her.  She was on information overload the first few days, but she's settled in nicely now and is enjoying the job.

Speaking of school.........

Savannah attended freshmen orientation this past week.  She hated it.  A friend reminded me tonight that most people hate freshmen orientation.  No one enjoys being forced to play cheesy ice-breaker games with strangers and learn chants and cheers in the Texas heat.  Ha ha!  She made it through and registered for her fall classes.  Now we just have to get her financial aid (Pell Grant!) complete so we can get her books purchased.  We thought it was done until Friday when they announced that we had 1 more step to do.  Yikes!

Samuel has been attending a training camp (think workout boot camp) since he returned from Yellowstone with my parents.  I can't even imagine ENJOYING working out from 7 AM to 9 AM Monday through Thursday during the summer when I could be SLEEPING, but my crazy boy is loving it!  The school district offers the training camp to keep the athletes in shape through the summer so they'll be ready to jump back into the weight room and gym in August.

Sarah and I have been going to a park in the next town over doing some local ministry with the youth group.  We've done this every summer for the past several years and I love it!  I love mission trips and I think they are life-changing and awesome, but I also love local relationship-building ministry.  We've been hanging out at a park most of our youth kids would never visit otherwise, playing with the kids, making crafts, just being there to be their friends.  It's been wonderful to see some of the same faces, week after week.  I've been at the craft table each week, doing different things with the kids (our youth kids & the ones who come to the park to hang out.)

A pic from face-painting week:

This morning I beat the socks off this kid, over & over, at Connect Four.  When he finally beat me after several rounds I thought he was going to grin til his face popped.  So fun!

Samuel has joined us the past couple of weeks after his training camp.  Today he played with the kids a lot with this sling shot & foamy balls that they soak in water before they launch.

This weekend, my sisters and I threw my parents a 50th anniversary party.  It turned out really well!  In this day & age, fifty years with one spouse is practically unheard of.  This is my sisters, my parents and me at the party.  You'll have to excuse the fact that when I get flustered or busy, my face & head sweat like crazy and my bangs had long since gone flat and plastered themselves to my forehead.  Oh queen material.  ha ha!

Between staying busy with driving the kids places and going to my father in law's house to work (we're cleaning, sorting, donating...) and trying to find 5 minutes to rest here and there, things at the house have gotten a little backed up.

I figure I can start a shoe store in the kitchen by this weekend.  We're always looking for little odd jobs to supplement the family's income.

And perhaps we can start boarding travelers on this bed I've crafted from piles of clean clothes.  I wonder if they'd mind toaster waffles for breakfast?

Honestly, every time it is like this I tell myself I'm not ever going to let it get this bad again.  But I've pretty much decided that it's time to find a white flag and start waving it like crazy.  Maybe one day when the kids are all grown and out of the house I'll have time to be good at keeping up the laundry.  {'Til then, I've got some built-in slave labor in the form of those three munchkins that I birthed.  Guess who folded these clothes???}

I never got a chance to post about our May date, so here's the quick version.

It ended up that we went on this date the day before Larry's dad got sick and it was rainy so we just skipped the walk and went to Subway for dinner.  Just ignore the fact that we had cookies after we ate our sandwiches on our 'health date'.  ha ha!

{I figured I should quickly share about the date since Larry and I are going on our June date this coming Friday!}

I guess that about sums up my past few weeks.  God bless & if you actually made it to this point, go have a cookie.  Or a scone if you're drinking tea.  Maybe a biscotti (or however you spell that!) with your coffee?