Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sweet day

This morning, our younger 2 kids 'graduated' out of their current Sunday School classes & into the next one.  On their last Sunday in the previous class (today), they have a little graduation ceremony.  It's mostly for the benefit of the older ones who are graduating out into the Youth group, but since all the kids' department is together, they do it as one big thing during the children's church hour.  All the parents are invited to attend.  And so, this morning during our regular worship service hour, I went to the kids' program & was so sweetly blessed.

Our children's pastor (Brandon "Chappy" Gray) gave a message to the ones going into the Youth group that was really touching.  He referenced 1 Tim. 4:12 in his message. [12 Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.]  He talked about how proud he was of this group.  They're so young, but they're on fire for God & have no inhibitions when they worship Him.  He asked them to explain what different components of worship mean to them, so that the adults in the room would know that nothing was ever forced on them or that they were acting in a certain way just to go along w/ the adults.  He asked them why they lift their hands when we are doing praise & worship.  One of the kids answered "to completely surrender ourselves to God".  Why do we close our eyes during praise & worship?  "so that we're not distracted by things going on around us & so we can focus on God alone"  Why do we stand in worship?  "to show Him respect & honor."    Wow.  That's pretty great for a bunch of (new) 6th graders to already "get" that.  I wish I had understood that when I was their age.  He encouraged them not to be pulled in by peer pressure & lose that passion for worshipping God as they moved into the Youth group.  He reminisced with them about all the fun things they have done together as a group over the years since he's been our church's children's pastor.  There were laughs & sighs, cheers and maybe a couple of tears (ok, so maybe that was just me!) as they took a walk down memory lane.  They started the music (Pomp & Circumstance) and handed out certificates to all the kids as they got one last hug from him.  It was a sweet time!

Afterward, all the younger kids 'graduated' too.  Here's a few pictures I took.  This first one is Chappy, while he was doing his sermon for the kids.

Our group of kids moving into the youth group.  (That's the youth pastor on the far right end.)

Here's Sarah with her certificate.

And her whole graduating group.

And here's Samuel with his certificate.

With his group....can you pick him out?  ha ha!  If only we could get him to come out of his shell.

Who me?  I wasn't doing anything.

After church, in dad's office.

Larry had a meeting to go to this afternoon, so the kids & I came home.  After lunch, I watched this movie:

PS-I-Love-You-.jpg and this one two image by michelle_20070407

It was a sweet movie about a very young widow who finds peace after her husband's death.  While a little portion of the movie's storyline wasn't exactly something I agree with, the rest was a very sweet story of romance & finding hope after a loss.  If you need a chick flick to watch, go for it.

After turning off the movie, I was standing in the living room just basking in the blessing that is my life.  It was quiet & calm.  Everyone was off doing their own thing.  Everything was peaceful and I was thinking " life is good".  I stood there & thanked God for my home, my beautiful children, my amazing husband, a day of rest, etc.

All in all, it was a good day.  Larry's home from his meeting now & the kids are in bed.  I am a rich woman.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fun God-story!

Last weekend at Women of Faith, Patsy Clairmont told the story of her giving her friend a word...a message from God...a Scripture to encourage her.  It was both humorous & COOL because of how it all worked out.  In my life, those are called "God stories"....those things that bare the fingerprints of only one person...the only One who matters.  I thought you might enjoy hearing the story too.

a gift from WOF/spending the night at the zoo

Last weekend I went to Women of Faith in Dallas.  When I got home, I posted about it & included pictures.  (Scroll down if you want to see that post.)  Upon posting, a lady who works for Women of Faith somehow found my post.  I'm not entirely certain how she stumbled upon it, but she did.  (Melissa, if you're still reading, can you tell me how you found me?)  She commented on how much she enjoyed the post & asked if she could send me a gift for supporting WOF & sharing about it on the blog.  Well, sure ya can!  :)  Who would turn that down?  My gift arrived yesterday.  It was a neat little stationary set with this year's WOF theme on it.  Very cool!  I almost feel like a celebrity!  :)

Last night, the local Cub Scout group (which Larry & Samuel are a part of) got to spend the night at the zoo!  The guys had to report in by 6:30.  They locked the front gates so that no one else could sneak in and everyone made their way to the African Huts for the night.  They had an educational program for the boys where they talked about the animals & safety stuff.  They took a flashlight tour of the zoo at 9pm.  They got to hand-feed the giraffes.  They made crafts.  They had snacks.  Animal cookies!  ha ha!  When it was all said & done, they crashed in the huts.  However, at 8am, there was a knock at my front door.  It was Larry & Samuel.  (Remember, the zoo is about a 35 minute drive from here, so they left EARLY!!)  Larry said he'd never been able to go to sleep.  They were really packed into this little hut thing.  It was co-ed, so everyone was sleeping in their clothes.  It was hot.  The floors were hard.  You get the idea.  He gave up about 7am & left.  Samuel still had a blast, though!  And Larry said it was worth the night of no sleep to get to do something cool like that with his son.

Oh....and he took some pictures.  :::snicker, snicker:::  The poor guy shouldn't quit his day job though.  These are the best two of the whole batch!

(that's Samuel in the gray shirt)

ha ha haha ha!!!


Friday, August 29, 2008

The first week

The first week of school is drawing to an end today.  With each passing day that horrible afternoon traffic has gotten slightly better.  I've adjusted my schedule each day to try to make it work so that I have to wait in a parked car in the middle of the road (read: LONG LINE!) for the least amount of time.  It's gone like this:

Monday-- Got in line at 2:45.  Long line was backed up approximately 1/2 mile outside of the school property.  Police officer suggested that it might be better to park & walk across the highway to get them.  While this went against the school policies, I got sick of waiting & did just that.  It was 3:40 when I got to Savannah's school.  (They get out at 3:00!)

Tuesday-- Waited until 2:45 to leave the house in hopes that the line of cars would be moving by then.  Nope.  I sat in the line from 2:45 til 3:30 before I got Samuel & Sarah....and then still had to make it to Savannah's school.  It was about 3:40 when I picked her up.  At least she knows it'll be a while & is good about sitting down to read a book while she waits.

Wednesday-- Decided to tweak it a little more & didn't leave the house til 2:50.  Nope.  Still no good.  I did get Samuel & Sarah picked up slightly earlier.  After all, it was only 3:20 when I got to them that day.  :::sigh:::  We were all back at home by 3:40.  That's progress right?

Thursday--  Yesterday I gave up & went back to my regular school year routine.  Didn't leave the house til 3:00.  By the time I made the 2 minute drive to their school, the line was moving.  I never had to put the car in park & just sit.  It kept moving from the moment I got in line til 3:15 when I got to the kids!  Hooray!  Much better.  (Still too slow, but better!)  I picked up Savannah at 3:27 & she said " were quick today!".  Poor baby!  She thinks 1/2 an hour is "quick".  Oh well, it gets a little better each day.

We are struggling with the morning thing though.  For years now, her tardy bell has rung at 8:05.  So on the days when we're really pushing everyone out the door to get to school on time, we knew that if she made it by 8:00 we were OK.  Even 8:02!  ha!  This year, at the junior high, things are different.  The first bell rings at 7:50 and the tardy bell rings at 7:57.  I realize that it's not a huge difference in time, but it sure changes the time we need to leave the house!  And since they get tougher on tardies as the kids get older, it only takes about 2 tardies for them to get a detention!  Yikes!  Mama & Daddy have to boogy in the morning!  (& try to inspire much boogying in all of their offspring!)

Today I am off.  After 2 days of inservice to get my room ready (see post below for pictures!) and 2 days of meeting parents, I'm ready for my 4 day weekend.  The school will reopen on Tuesday for our first day of school (after Labor Day).  I'm excited about getting started & seeing how my classes go!!

Have a good weekend & enjoy your Labor Day!


Thursday, August 28, 2008

funny boy

Samuel  just told me, "If God was a geenie in a bottle, I'd rub the bottle & when He came out, I'd ask Him for wisdom, a double portion of Elijah's life..........and a magic porthole!"
LOL!  Is he all boy or what?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My classroom

Yesterday & today, we had inservice at the school where I work to get our rooms ready for the Fall.  Tomorrow & Thursday we have "meet the teacher" days.  Want a tour of my classroom?

Here is the view outside the door in the hall.  There is a door at the end of that hallway, so the sunlight coming in makes it a little bit hard to see things, but I think you can get a pretty good idea of what it looks like.  There is an info board for the parents to see with the monthly newsletter, a calendar of events, daily schedule, class rolls & a line leader sign so that the parents can always congratulate whoever was the 'leader' for the day when they are there to pick up kids.

Once you step inside the room, you're looking across the room at this view.  (the empty shelf is my art center shelf & it will be filled on the first day of school)

See the little table (above) on the right side of the picture?  You can use that as a guide for where this picture (below) is.  It's a view further over to the right.  This is my home center & dollhouse/dress up clothes.

I went over to the kitchen & took a picture looking in the opposite direction next.

See those 2 yellow shelves (above)?  In between them, in that corner to the right, is my reading center.

Looking from the reading center over toward the bathroom, you get this view:

This is my cabinets & counters and the table where my kids sit for lunch & craft time.  All my paperwork for the parents to fill out is there on the counter in nice, tidy stacks.  Won't the parents be happy to see those tomorrow?  (yikes!)

See my closet (above) on the left side of the picture?  Those are my weather & days of the week charts on the door.  To the left of that door is my math/science center.  (although at the moment, it's mostly math manipulatives other than the 1 discovery bottle sitting on top!)

Oh....2 more pictures!  This is my birthday wall (which is over on the wall next to the bathroom--you can see it in the picture above where I was looking in that direction):

And my first of the year bulletin board.  It says "Can you spot your name?".  On the dalmation, each spot has a child's name on it.  Cute, huh?  (I got it from Mailbox magazine, so don't give me credit for it!)

That's about it!  Hope you enjoyed your "visit" to my classroom.  Now line up by the door, keep your hands to yourself & let's see who gets to be the leader today!

Monday, August 25, 2008

The First Day of School

Today was the first day of school.  All summer, Savannah's been my most resistant to the idea of going back to school.  Today, however, she was the first one awake, tip-toeing into my room to wake me up at 6:00am.  Umm, no.  We're going to sleep a few more minutes, dear.  She was back in my face asking if I was awake yet (ha!) 10 minutes later.  I pointed out that she was way too excited for that early in the morning.  She just laughed & said "I probably won't be this excited by next week, so enjoy it now."  ha ha!  Knucklehead!  We got up & started our day a couple minutes later.  Before we left, I snapped this picture of all three kids in the front yard.

We dropped off Samuel & Sarah first and then went to the Junior High to drop off Savannah.  When we got home, I peeked at some pictures I took this morning, one of them being a picture of Savannah's back as she walked away into the big kid school.  And it hit me.  She wasn't holding her lunchbox in that picture.  But maybe she was holding it in front of her & I just couldn't see it.  I checked the fridge & her bedroom.  No lunchbox.  Ok, surely that was it---I bet she had it in her hand & with all the other stuff she was carrying, I just missed it.  Hmm....yes, that's it.  Turns out that it was in the backseat of the car.  I saw it as I headed into work, so I made a U-turn & took it to her school.  Poor kid.  I could just picture her panicking about having no lunch this morning.

All three kids said they had a good day.  All is well.   :::sigh:::  But if I can't find 9x12 manilla paper soon, I'm gonna scream!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The last weekend of Summer 2008

As it turns out, we've had 85 days of summer vacation (that's counting today).  Eighty-five days to relax & rest and play.  Eighty five days to rest after last school year & look forward to a new one.  This is it.  Today was the last day of summer.  So, what on earth was I thinking going to Walmart tonight?????????????

walmart-3.jpg WAL*MART image by SCREAM78501

Yes, I went.  Along with everyone else in town.  We elbowed our way down the school supply aisle for one last binder (they were out of the 1/2" size that we needed, so we got a 1" instead...yeah, we're rebels like that).  We shoved through the crowd in the kids' department to find 1 new pair of jeans for all three kids.  We steered the shopping cart wildly around crates of notebook paper and herds of children, walking glassy-eyed behind their parents.  We stood in the dressing room area twice, waiting for all three kids to try on their jeans & pick just the right pair for the first day of school.  It was almost 8:00 by the time we got out of there!  Yikes!  There went my plan for everyone to be in bed on time the night before the first day of school.  Sigh...oh well, maybe next year.

(note:  we didn't actually elbow or shove anyway...we're way too nice to do that.  we use our good manners & politely ask people to move the heck out of the way when we need to pass them in the aisles  ha ha!)

Earlier this weekend, I went to Women of Faith in Dallas.

women_of_faith.gif Women of Faith image by okijenninga

As always, it was fabulous!  Patsy Clairmont was funny & cute & spunky as always.  Lucy Swindoll tickled us with her dry sense of humor & made us think with her depth.  Sandi Patty was humble & honest and shared with us about a lot of hard times in her life and God's infinite grace to forgive & love us.  Marilyn Meberg, my personal favorite WOF speaker, challenged us & made us laugh.  (She has such a sweet tone about her, I can picture her being a very maternal, mentoring influence on all of us younger women.)  Steve Arterburn (founder of Women of Faith & author of all the Every Man's Battle books) spoke on Friday night & was both hilarious & very good.  Sheila Walsh touched everyone's hearts with her message about her relationship with her dad.  Both Natalie Grant & Nicole C. Mullen blessed our hearts with their amazing talent & ability to get everyone in the crowd involved.  I clapped and cheered and cried and laughed.  I came home blessed & refreshed & touched.

As always, Natalie Grant's "Held" took my breath away.  When she stepped on stage, one of my friends who knows how much I love her asked if I was going to cry.  I laughed because, at that moment, I had no reason to cry!  I just giggled & said "only if she sings Held".  Fifteen minutes later, when the first notes were played, I was immediately choked up, but was thankfully surrounded by 4 sweet buddies who all pulled out Kleenexes & handed them my way.   ::::sigh:::  I am blessed!

Nicole C. Mullen did 2 of my favorite songs as well --- One Touch and My Redeemer Lives.  Wow.  Powerful stuff!

And so, we've had a full weekend.  It's 9:30 now.  All three kids are in bed, not necessarily asleep, but in bed.  Tomorrow morning we'll get up at the crack of dawn & start our school year routine of leaving bright & early, fighting through the stinky morning traffic and taking one more first day of school picture.  (don't worry---I'll post the pictures tomorrow!)

For now, I'll leave you with my WOF pictures from this weekend.  The opening was done by Sheila Walsh & Sandy Patti.

There were lots of ladies who didn't get to come til Saturday, so they missed all of the Friday night stuff.  See all those open seats??!!  This particular area is where a friend of mine from Mesquite, TX would be sitting the next day.

Saturday morning, we were excited to see Natalie Grant come into the arena carrying her twin baby girls.  They're 18 months old.  She had one on her hip, dancing & singing at the beginning of the conference.  That's Sandy Patti to her left & Nicole C. Mullen to her right.

She handed the babies over to her relatives who came with her while she did a concert for us.  This was just prior to me boo-hoo'ing through "Held".  Sorry about the slight blur.  From that distance & with all the cool lights, my camera didn't focus well.

Nicole C. Mullen did a really cool concert with some young kids that now travel with her to dance & sing for the Lord.

On Saturday, my friend from the above empty seats found me!  Yahoo!  Hi Terry!!!  It was fun getting to see you there!

Just to give you an idea of how many people were there---this is a shot of all the seats to the left side of where I was sitting, which amounts to about 1/4 of the total arena.  Lots of Christian ladies!!!

In the closing session, Natalie Grant sang a song that included a verse of "this little light of mine".  She had all the ladies in the arena pull out their cell phones to shine a light.  Too cute!  I got a quick picture before we took off.  It's hard to see in this picture b/c AOL makes the pics so small for the blog pages....but if you can right click it & edit it on your picture program to make it bigger, you can see the little lights of cell phones better.  :)  Not that anyone wants to see it that bad, though!  ha ha!

Time to get a shower & head to bed.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thurs Aug 21 (day 82)

Well, summer school is officially over.  Today was our last day.  3 of "my" kids brought me gifts!  Wow!  I really didn't expect that, but it sure was nice!  Here's a pic that one of the kids' mom took of us.  I had this little sweetie in my class all of last school year & this summer, so today was our last day together.  I love ya, Sophie!

We had a last day of summer school party today & afterward, I took all the chair tags off, took down the nametags, removed decorations from the summer & voila....all ready for the Fall!  :)

Tomorrow morning, I'll leave bright & early for Women of Faith!  I can't wait!  I really enjoy it, so I'm excited to get there!!

Tonight was Meet the Teacher night for Samuel & Sarah.  I was excited to find that Samuel got the same 3rd grade teacher Savannah had a few years ago.  Sarah's 2nd grade teacher is a sweet lady that we met briefly last year.  Her classroom was right next to Samuel's class, so they got to see each other every day & she loved Samuel.  With that being the case, she was happy to see him walk in with Sarah tonight.  The kids' classrooms are only a few doorways apart in the same hall, so they'll be able to walk in together every day this year!  I'm really excited about that!  Big brother can always walk baby sister into school & make sure she makes it safely.  :)  Yeah...that'll be good!

See ya when I get back late Saturday evening!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wed Aug 20 (day 81)

What exactly does a girl do on her 14th anniversary? my case, nothing really anniversary-related.  ha ha!  Seriously, our trip this past weekend was our gift to each other, so today was just another day.  I did find a surprise on Larry's blog site (a sweet post about me!) and he was first to say "Happy Anniversary" to me this morning.  I'm blessed.  :)  Seriously though, that was about it for the anniversary celebration.

This morning, I took a friend of mine who recently took a job at a local church as Children's Ministry director on a tour of our church children's department rooms.  She was looking for some ideas.  Our church spent a lot of money hiring a professional creative team to come in & design our rooms to engage the kids & excite them.  They are truely phenomenal.  Just a sampling of our preschool & elementary classrooms.  The kids LOVE it!

When I got done with that, I went to pick up Savannah & made the executive decision to stop at Sonic for lunch.  yummy!

During the kids' quiet time, I finished up my September lesson plans & calendar for school.  It was nice to get those done & out of the way.  Now I can focus on the inservice time next week & enjoy my Open House days without concerning myself with finishing these!

You may ask what exactly do I teach the kids about?  Here's an idea.  It is a theme/unit list for the school year.  (if you have to squint too much & really want to see, email me & I'll send you a bigger version of this pic)

my calendar for the month---

and my lesson plans---

When I got done with those, I set about labelling all the kids' school supplies.  Holy smokes.  That took 2 hours!  Of course, I do have 3 kids & lots of supplies for each one of them.  See?  The first pic is Samuel & Sarah's supplies.  The second pic is Savannah's supplies---or at least the ones we have so far.  We were instructed to get these & then wait for a separate list from each of her teachers.  Oy!

Somehow, I ended up with an extra box of markers.  I'm not sure how that happened, but I'm going to hang onto them.  It won't be long til someone will need more or they'll need them for doing homework.

We went to church tonight & now everyone is home and has hit the bed.  Pretty exciting day, huh?  ha ha!

Happy Anniversary, Larry!

I wrote this for Larry last year on our anniversary.  With very few tweaks, I decided to repost it this year.  I love you, baby!!!  Happy Anniversary!


Happy Anniversary Larry!

Sixteen years ago, you walked into my life. I remember the day I met you like it was yesterday. I was at the salad bar at Mazzio's, cleaning up & refilling things. You were standing at the end of the front counter with our manager, Randy. He was giving you your first week's schedule & commenting to you about where you'd parked. I am not sure why those particular details are so vivid, because in those first moments I layed eyes on you....I knew. There was something special about you. There was an immediate chemistry, something that told me you were "the one". Call it butterflies, call it a spark, call it whatever you want. For us, there was absolutely *something* at first sight & I haven't stopped feeling it since. Some people are never lucky enough to share what we do. Some people only feel it briefly when they first fall in love -- that crazy, head over heels, silly, flirty, can't-get-enough-of-you thing. I've been lucky enough to feel that way for the past 16 years.  Every day.  I am truly a rich woman.

In the weeks that followed our meeting, we flirted & eventually began dating. Two years later we were married. On that day, August 20, 1994, I felt like I was on top of the world, floating on a cloud. I had a starry-eyed romantic view of life & 'just knew' that nothing could ever be better than the way I felt about you that day. Boy was I wrong.

In the years since we've been married, the love I have for you has only grown. The intensity & passion I feel for you can't begin to compare to the way I felt on the day we were married. Of course it hasn't all been wine & roses, candlelight & starry skies along the way. We have had our share (and then some) of hard times, but our relationship has remained constant through it all. I never would've dreamed 16 years ago that I'd be standing here today, having lived through all we have, and still holding you as closely as ever, feeling like the luckiest girl in the world. Thank you for sticking it out in the tough times & celebrating with me in the good times. You are my best friend and I am so blessed to have you in my life.

You are my sunshine, my blue sky, my cool breeze on a hot day. You are the one who quenches my thirst, the key to everything that brings me happiness. Where I fail, you succeed. What I can't see, you describe for me. When I am losing the battle, you step in like a knight in shining armor to save me. You are all that I've ever wanted and I am so grateful for your place in my life.  When I cry, you wipe away my tears and hold me.  When I laugh, you laugh with me.  When I need to rest, you provide a place to lay my head.  When I need encouragement, you lift me up.  You are indeed the one who completes my heart and soul.

Everyone who knows me will tell you that I'm ready for Heaven whenever God chooses to bring me home or returns for us. I can't imagine the depth of excitement I will feel when that trumpet sounds. But until that day, I want nothing more than my little piece of "heaven" right here on earth--with you.

Thank you for loving me the way you do. Looking forward to the next 16 years with you!

All my love, Liz

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mon Aug 18, 2008 (Summer day 79) was hard.  I was sleepy & trying to take care of my kids & unpack 2 suitcases & do laundry and get the idea.  I did fit in a nap this afternoon, though, so that helped.

We got home last night about 2am.  It took me about an hour to unwind enough to get to sleep, so it was 3am before I was in bed.  (which is WHY I needed a nap this afternoon)

My parents brought the kids home about 9:30 this morning.  I had planned to go get them, but since they took bikes with them and those won't fit into my van, mom & dad did the shuttle service for me.  Thanks, guys!  I am blessed.  My parents love me enough to keep my three heathens (err...I mean, my sweet little rays of sunshine) all weekend long so that I can fly to the Show-Me-State to meet people.  Way to go, grandma & grandpa!

The kids came home & got unpacked & put away their stuff and then we just hung out watching TV together & talking for most of the day.  I did wake up enough to remember that they should eat lunch somewhere in there, and after I took a nap, we made a quick trip to the store for a couple of things that I had intentionally not bought before we left because it would sit & maybe go bad.  We came home & made supper, ate and hung out some more before bedtime.

I enjoy lazy days like this one!  Tomorrow it's back to work.  sigh...the weekend's over.  Boy was it a good one.

Monday, August 18, 2008

My trip to Bethany's

On Friday morning, my parents picked up our kids about 9:00 and off they went to have a fabulous weekend with them.  They kids had a blast & my parents said they were very well behaved all weekend.  (whew...always good to hear that!!)

Larry & I left soon after and headed to Dallas Love Field.

We decided to go cheap & parked in the "B" garage.  There was a $3/day difference between that & the "A" garage.  Here's a tip if you ever go there & fly out on Southwest:  Pay the extra $3/day.  It's worth it.  It turns out that the "B" garage was nearly a mile from the main terminal and when you're lugging a 50 pound suitcase, well...ouch.  We found our way through the airport & into the right gate only to sit & wait for a while.  The plane was scheduled to take off at 2:05 but it was later than that before the plane arrived.  They quickly got all the passengers off and loaded us into the plane and we took off.  I think it was about 2:30 when we left Dallas.  When the plane's tires lifted off the ground, I thought I might fly around the plane too.  I was so happy!  The trip was officially underway!  I couldn't help but think "I'm on the way, Bethany!!!".

We arrived in Kansas City about 4:00, found the rental car place & left to head toward our destination about 5:00.  It was about 7:40 when we got to Bethany & Chris, who were waiting for us in the parking lot of a gas station.  I knew this would be an emotional trip but I never expected to cry right off the bat!  When we pulled up, we had one of those moments that you see in movies & on TV where 2 people run to each other, embrace & boo-hoo.  It was awesome.  Both of us were crying & so excited.  Our poor guys had to introduce themselves to each other while Bethany & I had our moment.  When we perked up & let go of each other, they took us to Hu-Hot or Ho-Hut or Hoo-Ha.   Something like that.  ha ha!  I kept messing up the name.  It's this Mongolian grill place & it was really good!  You get a bowl and go to this buffet-line style thing where you pick out your meat, your noodles/rice, veggies, sauces & toppings and then you go to this big grill thing where the chefs throwyour bowl of stuff on the grill & cook it.  It was fun to do something completely different right off the bat.  :)  We sat at the table talking & goofing around with our chopsticks.  It was like we'd never NOT known each other in person.  It was totally comfortable.  (That was one of my fears before we left, that we'd have some uncomfortable, awkward thing.  But it wasn't like that at all!)  As you can see, Bethany & Chris were kind of shy at first.

It didn't take them too long to warm up to us, though.  ha ha!

Larry & I were acting silly too.  We were doing the walrus teeth with our chopsticks.  In fact, sometimes walruses fall in love.

We got a few pictures of Bethany & I, but it was interesting...we were always either laughing hysterically or not looking in the right direction or giving each other bunny ears.

After eating, we went to the hotel & checked in.  We got into our room & got showered & cleaned up, PJs on and then we pulled back the sheets.  And well, let's just say that the sheets hadn't been changed since the last visitors.  Yuck!  The hotel upgraded us to a jacuzzi suite for having to move & swap rooms at 11:30pm!

Saturday morning, Chris & Bethany came to the hotel to pick us up at 10:00 and we headed to The Pinnacles.  It's a park of some sort &'s beautiful!  We hiked & climbed all through the trails, across the creek, up the side of a bunch of rocks & stuff.  Wow.  Perty!  We were all sweaty & yucky by the time we were done, but it was so worth it.

We left there & went back to Chris & Bethany's house for lunch, then back to the hotel to shower & change into our clothes for the evening.  Larry was sleepy, so he took a short nap while I read magazines & hung out.

Saturday evening we went back to their house to have a cookout/BBQ with them and some other friends.  I've met Mindy on myspace through Chris & Bethany, but this was the first time to meet her, too.  It went really well.  We had some yummy burgers & some awesome fruit pizza.

We finally got some serious pictures of Bethany & I that night.  Well...and maybe a couple more silly ones.

When the night was over, we headed back to the hotel & packed up because we knew that Sunday would be a short day together.  It was a little sad to pack everything because I wanted to get to hang out a little longer.  The trip was entirely too short.

On Sunday, we ate breakfast & then headed over to their house for our final hours together.  Chris had to go to work at noon.  Bethany took Larry & I on a tour of the "big city" of Moberly.  (For those of you who live locally, it's similar in size and age and everything to Jacksonville, so you clearly see the joke behind me saying "big city".)  We came back to her house for a few more minutes with her and Lucy, her sweet doggie!

All too soon, 3:00 rolled around & it was time for us to leave.  We shed a few more tears in her driveway, hugging & saying goodbye.  I decided I needed to get in the car & go or I'd just stand there and cry with her all day long.  We had not made it far from her house before we got a text message saying "come back!  I miss youalready!".  :*)  Sure was hard not to turn around & go back!  But I kept telling myself something I read online last week --- "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened!"  I love that!  We made the long trip back to Kansas City (it's about 3 hours) and got into the airport on time.  As we sat at the gate waiting for our 9:30 flight, we watched a beautiful sunset.  I had to snap some pictures.  It seemed fitting to see God put such a pretty ending on our trip.

One last picture before we got on the plane.

As the tires on the plane lifted off the ground, I got teary again.  The trip was officially over.  As we flew off into the dark sky, I bid goodbye to Bethany one last time.  Our trip was awesome & I'm sad to see if over, but I will not forget it and the memories made!  I love you, Bethany.  Come to Texas soon!

(I have lots more pictures in an album on, but AOL will only let me post so many, so feel free to email me if you'd like to see the whole album of pics!)