Saturday, August 24, 2013

I have to ask........

If you are the person who is visiting my blog from Colombes, Ile-de-France, email me please!  I'm just so curious to know who you are & how you found my blog.  I find it amazing that there are people visiting this site from the other side of the globe!

Goodbye Summer 2013!

For many years, I did a days of summer count here on the ol' blog.  Somewhere in the craziness that is the internet blogosphere, a sweet lady named Rachel Teixeira found my blog & started reading.  And of course, in turn, I read hers.  Now and then I'd post a "roll call" sort of thing to see who was still reading.  After all, sometimes I write just for me--I love to write--but sometimes I write because I love the interaction between myself and my readers. Rachel would always email me & declare that she was still reading & would name off her favorite things I have posted about.  One of those was the summer count.  She got a big kick out of seeing how the silly Reeves fam spent our summers, day by day.  I adored Rachel, but we only talked now and then.  In April, when her birthday rolled around, Facebook reminded me to wish her a happy birthday.  Thinking how it had been a while since we talked, I went to her FB page to read her wall & see what she had been up to.  To my shock, I found out that she had passed away.  Others were posting "I miss you" messages.  I was able to contact her sister and mom who told me of her passing.  As sort of a 'tribute' to Rachel, I chose to skip the summer day count this year.  It just wouldn't be the same without her sweet comments on my posts and her cheering for the 40th or 65th or 80th days of summer along the way.  Rachel, I miss your encouragement in my life!  God bless your sweet family who misses you so much!  This post is for you, honey!

The kids got out of school for the summer in late May.  I had to work another few days before I was done for the summer, but we hit the ground running!

During the first week of June, Savannah traveled to Washington D.C. with the school band.  They visited all the big tourist sights and placed a patriotic tribute at the World War II memorial.  To their surprise, a busload of WWII veterans were visiting that day and watched them play.  It chokes me up just watching this video from our local news station that was filmed there.  (The man who did the report has kids in the band & he made the trip with them.)  I realize that you can only see about 2/3 of the screen for this video, but you'll get the idea!, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

While Savannah was in Washington DC, the other two went on a trip to San Antonio with their grandparents to visit some of our state's coolest sights---the Alamo, the River Walk and Sea World!  They had a ball!  (Sorry.  I can't find any of the pictures from that trip at the moment, so these will have to suffice.  Thank you google images!)

When the kids returned from Sea World, they begin joining me every Tuesday & Thursday in working at the preschool.  Samuel helped in the baby room while Sarah helped me in my classroom.  (Savannah was busy with other things this summer, so she didn't work at the preschool this year.)

Early in the summer, Savannah took her senior pictures for the school yearbook at the photography studio the publishing company suggested.  While they took the pictures there for her yearbook picture, one of my BFFs is a local photographer & she will take Savannah's REAL senior pics later in the Fall.

Late June and much of July was spent doing things from this list.

We went to the movies, ate ice cream for dinner, visited the library, watched 4th of July fireworks, camped out in the living room, read books, (Samuel) camped & fished.  We tried new fruits & veggies, and did a thousand other things on this list.

Savannah visited her out of town girlfriends for a week in July.

Samuel, Sarah & I worked at an in-town mission trip of sorts---leading VBS at a local park.

We swam.  We pet/house-sat.

We visited a couple colleges with Savannah.

And we all sweat like pigs.  'Cuz after all, we live in Texas where it's hotter than the surface of the sun from mid-May til late October.

And somehow, through what I can only attribute to the grace of my sweet Lord, the kids have (mostly) gotten along.

It's been a glorious, wonderful summer.  But in about 36 hours, it comes grinding to a screeching halt.

Savannah officially becomes a 12th grader, walking through the final year of high school while I wipe my tears and try to remember that graduating from HS doesn't mean I will never see her again and she's all grown up.  It's just the end of this season of her life.  Samuel officially becomes an 8th grader, which means this is his last year of well... not being a high schooler.  Somehow, the kids' "lasts" are as hard as their "firsts" for this sappy mama.  And Sarah officially becomes a 7th grader, her first year of junior high.  You know, the land of hormonal, bratty, clique-ish, drama-filled teenagers.  Good grief.  Protect her, Jesus!

The end of summer brings a new world for me in a new job in a new school system 20 minutes from home.  And in just a couple of weeks, it brings a new season to Larry's job---he will begin working from home rather than in an office.  That is, on the days he doesn't have to drive all over creation for his work, which is more often than he'll be here at home maybe once a week.

We've slept a lot, we've had time in the sunshine and water, we've eaten lots of ice cream & watermelon and drank far more Sonic half-price-after-8-p.m.-milkshakes then I care to count.  But whether we're ready or not, summer is over and it's time to plunge head-first into Fall.  Gotta be honest y'all....I'm so ready!

Routines and schedules and football season and pumpkin scented candles, here I come!!!!!!!

Friday, August 23, 2013

New Job: Week 1

This week, I've been going to inservice at my new job.  It's been challenging, but not because the job duties were hard, just because it's such a huge change from where I've been.  You know how it is.  Any time you change jobs, schools, churches, move to a new town (etc, etc, etc) you can't help but compare everything at the new place to what you knew & loved in the old place.  Not that anything is WRONG with the new place, it's just new & different and takes some adjustment time. 

On day one, I noticed a weird phenomenon about all the toilets in the building.  This is what they look like BEFORE you go potty.  This one I flushed (thinking someone forgot to flush) and it filled back up this way.  It's so weird.  I guess the city's water supply is just umm....yellow.

After a trying couple of days, I found THIS!  Oh sweet Jesus.  These are my people.  This is a shelf of books for teachers to read/swap/trade.  Free!  It's like they knew I was coming!

Throughout the week, the other teachers' aides and I worked on some creative, cute, fun bulletin boards.  For one of them, we posed all the teachers & staff in front of a polka dot background, had them select fun props & took pictures.  The bulletin board says "Welcome Back" and is covered in these fun pictures.  I know the kids will enjoy getting to see their teachers, principal, counselor and office staff in pictures like this.

While the environment is very, very different from what I am used to, I am looking forward to Monday.  I'm ready to get started with kids on the campus!  Here's to a new school year!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Jesus Paid it All

A wise friend of mine once told me that you can't control your circumstances or the way other people act, but you can control the way you respond to them.

That has stuck with me for many, many years.  And each time I find myself traipsing down the rabbit hole of sins that I struggle with, I hear that again in my head.  I can make the choice to follow the trail of destruction or turn around and go the other way.

I want to say that I'm a good person and don't have too many struggles in life.  After all, I was raised in church and married a Godly man.  We are still in church regularly & I serve the children and women of our church every week.  I don't cuss, don't drink, don't smoke, haven't ever done drugs.  I was a virgin on my wedding night.  Heck, I can't even watch movies with a lot of yuck in them without blushing or feeling 'dirty'.  I work in the school system and our kids are 'good kids'.  My husband has been in law enforcement & ministry.  We are the picture of sweet, honest, "good" people, right?

But being a "good person" doesn't make me righteous or clean or pure.  Being a "good person" really does nothing for me other than give me a standard to attempt to live up to---and presents a front that other people see.  Deep down, I am just as filthy and dirty and disgusting as a thief, murderer, liar or cheater.

Isaiah 64:6  All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

This past week I have battled one of the areas of life where I struggle.  I don't intend to get into the details of that here.  It doesn't matter what my sin area is.  We all battle something in life, whether it is addiction or lust or lying or whatever! I've been reminded again that while my circumstances might be out of my control, only I can make the choice of how I respond to it.  Tonight I can not get this old hymn out of my head.  I pray it blesses you as well.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What a day!

This morning I woke up, excited about my last day at the preschool.  As I've been doing for the past several years, I spend two days each week all summer in a classroom.  Today was the last day for the summer.  While I hate to leave this sweet place & go back to "big school" the rest of the year, I was looking forward to today.  It was a scheduled fun water play day.  The kids spend time outside, sliding down a giant slip & slide, splashing in a wading pool and having fun!  (And sometimes, their silly teachers slide down with them!)  I always make a point of spending extra time loving on all "my" kids in the class on the last day.  Every day with them is special & important, but when I know it's the last time I'll get to see them for the year, it's hard not to spend extra time doling out hugs and kisses and high fives and soaking up their sweet little faces one last time.  It's a bittersweet day of saying goodbye, not just to the kids in the class, but to the fun of working at the preschool for one more year.  But today I felt mentally & emotionally prepared and woke up ready to go!

But then life happened.

A few days ago, we heard the hot water heater making some funny clicking sound, but didn't think much of it.  Honestly, I should've gone and checked it then but sometimes older appliances make weird noises & you sort of tune it out.  That was the case with the water heater.  This morning, however, I realized that the noise it was making a couple days ago was probably a warning sign we should've checked.  When Savannah went into the laundry room to get something from a basket of clean clothes, she mentioned that someone must've spilled some water.  I thought it was odd that someone had a glass of water in the laundry room, but thought it might've been that someone dropped a wet towel after a shower.  Then she noticed another wet spot...and another.  I went to check where the water was coming from and it hit me that it was coming under the wall.  On the other side of the wall is, you guessed it, our hot water heater!  When I ran to check it I stepped in a puddle.


I called Larry, who had left at 5:30 am for an out of town training class for work.  Unfortunately he was far away with our Lowe's credit card (which means I had no way to pay for a new hot water heater, which I figured we probably were going to need.)  Then I called the next most important man in my life---my daddy!  Within a few minutes, he and my mom were on the way to my house.  Daddy is an incredible fixer & has replaced lots of water heaters over the years, so I knew he could handle the task.  He agreed to let me go on to work at the preschool and he would take care of the water heater.  We could pay him back later.  So with great speed, Samuel, Sarah and I finished getting ready & loaded up all our special last day of summer school supplies & left for the preschool.

Or at least we tried. 

When I put the key in the ignition of my mini van, it just clicked.  I may have uttered a word I've since repented for.  I turned the key again & got the same result.  I tried several times before I pulled the keys out and sighed.  Really?  TODAY?  The last day of summer school is NOT a good time for me to have to be absent!  I needed the van to start!  I tried one last time before giving up & calling my dad again!  He was 5 minutes away and agreed to check the van when he got here.

While he could jump start the van, there was no guarantee that it would start up again this afternoon when I left the preschool.  Or when I got ready to leave the orthodontist appointment that we had to get to immediately after school.  Or when I was ready to leave the music store we had to visit to get Sarah's flip folder & lyre for band.  Boy oh boy.  Before I knew it, we were on the parking lot of Auto Zone, $120 poorer with a new battery in the van.  Thank goodness for smart dads who know how to fix things!

I took my dad back to my house, picked up my kids & all my preschool stuff again and left him with the task of replacing the water heater.  I was about an hour late getting to the school, but I wouldn't have missed it!

Our fun water play time went off without a hitch and I was able to spend lots of extra time sitting in the floor, snuggling my sweet little friends, laughing and playing with them, hugging and high fiving, planting kisses on foreheads & rubbing noses with one particular sweet baby girl who loves to give "Eskimo kisses".

After a round of hugs and goodbyes this afternoon, I drove away from the preschool feeling quite blessed, honored to have been given the opportunity to be a part of all these little ones' lives this summer.  They're young.  They may not remember me six months from now, but I will remember them!  My life is richer for having taught them and gotten to know their parents.  I am grateful I had the chance to teach them this summer and look forward to coming back next summer.

At the end of the day, I am down several hundred dollars and I'm worn out, but what a great day!  Thank you to my mom & dad for coming to my rescue this morning!  And thank you to all the moms and dads who trusted me to love their babies this summer.  I can hardly believe it's over, but a new season is dawning and it's time to see what God has in store this Fall.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Random Thoughts with Liz

I keep starting a new blog post, but then keep freezing up.  I've been blogging since early 2006 and there are times when I feel like I've said everything there is to say.  I mean, how many more ways can I say that I love my husband & kids & Jesus?

But I keep writing anyway.  I love to write and hopefully you're not sick of hearing about my family and my faith and whatever other random stuff I choose to write about just yet.  So with that said, here is the latest string of random thoughts with Liz.

*In late April, I started eating lower carb.  I didn't cut out ALL carbs (I refuse to give up some things, folks.  Let's just be real.)  It's been slow, but to date I've lost just shy of 12 pounds.  I'd love to see it move a lot faster, but it's coming off, so I'll keep at it.

*Being home for the summer makes the diet a little more difficult.  It's a lot easier to stay on track when I'm not at home (read: looking at the fridge) all day or running around with the kids (read: passing by fast food places that scream "Stop & get a drink.  You KNOW you're thirsty in this 110 degree heat!)  Things will get back on track later this month when I get back to work!

*In January, I returned to my old part-time job in our local school system.  We knew from day 1 that it couldn't be permanent.  After all, I left because I couldn't make enough money there, so obviously that hadn't changed.  By late January or early February, I was making contacts with all the other campuses in hopes to get hired full time this Fall.  Since then, I've applied and/or interviewed for EVERY job in the district that I am qualified for.  Nothing worked out.  So the first week of August, I accepted a full time position in a neighboring town's school system.  It'll be a bit of a drive, but it's full time and there is a lot of room for raises and moving up.  {Honestly, it's not THAT FAR of a drive, but anything more than the 4-5 minute commute I've had since 2010 feels like a long drive.  I know, I know...I can hear a thousand tiny violins playing for me.}

*I am looking at the calendar & realizing we are already over eight months into the year.  That means there are only 4 months left 'til Christmas.  No matter how much stress or hoopla is connected to the commercialized version of Christmas we all see every year, it's still a favorite time of year for me!  I love the special 'magic' that is connected to the holiday season!  Plus I refuse to celebrate the hoopla!

*My babies are starting school two weeks from tomorrow.  7th, 8th and 12th grades this year.  Shut up.  They're still my babies even if they are in junior high & high school.

*We visited 2 colleges with Savannah last week.  One is local.  The other is about 90 minutes away & costs a lot more, but is SUCH A GOOD FIT for her.  Guess which one she's hoping to attend?  I think the next 12 months of my life is going to include a million hours of scholarship applications and websites searching for free college money!  If we can pull it off, she will be living there and attending school there next year.  But first, let's get through her senior year of high school.  I have a lot of tears to cry between now & Fall 2014.

*I've seen so much growth in Samuel lately.  Between his desire to go to the youth Bible study group and his feelings about Savannah moving away to college next year and his tender, sweet side emerging from the shell of adolescent growling and griping, I love it.  Lord, please let it continue.

*I know none of the kids are grown ups just yet, but once in a while I get a vision of their maturity and am amazed.  Somehow we haven't completely screwed them up with our crazy parenting just yet.  Only by the grace of God....

*A dear friend moved halfway across the country this week.  It's a weird thing because this friend & I mostly only talked via email, text, Facebook messages anyway, even though we lived in the same town.  So really, not much will change for us, but somehow it feels different.  Miss you already, friend!

*We had ice cream sundaes for dinner last night.  No veggies in sight, but I did include some strawberry sauce so everyone got some fruit!  ha!

*Here are some cool/fun/good stuff on the web that I came across in the past couple weeks for your reading/watching pleasure.  Enjoy!

1st:  This cute video has me coming back over & over.  I've watched it a dozen times.

2nd:  Every time I read anything that Jen Hatmaker blogs about, I feel like we're best friends or sisters or next door neighbors or something.  Seriously, how can you not love her?  Enjoy this little gem.  It's lengthy, but so funny!

3rd:  I just discovered this blog a few days ago.  Girlfriends, THIS POST is the bomb.  If you're a mama, you'll recognize yourself.

4th:  Holy hallelujah.  If you're in full time vocational ministry or know someone who is or if you used to be, you will love this.  We're about 4 1/2 years removed from full time ministry, but I read most of this blog post with tears in my eyes.  I recognized every word.  I saw truth from start to finish.  Wow.

5th:  Are there people who are actually this dumb?  Hilarious!

Have a great week!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Year of Dates August 2013

For our August date, it was part regular date night & part anniversary celebration.  And since I was offered a new job yesterday, it was also a new job celebration date!

Months & months ago, I asked my Facebook friends for recommendations on a low-priced, CLEAN hotel in our town.  A wonderful friend of mine from high school offered us a FREE night!  Her husband travels extensively for work and they have oodles of free nights built up in 'points' on their credit card so they cash them in regularly for family trips, date nights, etc.  But she said there was no way they could possibly use them all before they expired, so they offered us one for our anniversary date!  Such a giant blessing!!!!!!

We stayed at this hotel.

When we checked in, we were given our room keys & the lady at the desk said we'd need our key on the elevator.  I wasn't sure why, but just nodded an "ok" and walked away.  As it turns out, we were on the top floor where the nicest rooms are located and you have to insert your room key to get the elevator to go to that floor.  We were a little intrigued to see what was so special about the 8th floor!

Upon arrival to our floor, we noticed a little room marked "Club Floor Lounge" and wondered what exactly that was.  We checked into our very warm room, turned the A/C wayyyyy down and got settled in.

Because the drapes had been open (probably all day) we figured the room was just hot because of the sun.  We tried to sit very still and wait for the A/C to kick in & cool things down, but an hour later when we left for dinner, it was still HOT in the room.  The thermostat didn't show that the room had ever cooled off at all.  We thought maybe it just needed a little longer to cool the room.

On our way to the elevator, we noticed that the Club Floor Lounge was open, so we peeked in.  An older lady dressed very nicely greeted us and welcomed us to the lounge.  She invited us to sit and have an appetizer and a drink.  We could choose from a selection of beer & wine (no thanks) or soft drinks (yes please).  Our appetizers were southwest egg rolls and coconut shrimp.  Both were very tasty!  The concierge hostess (we learned that was her title) advised us to check with the front desk and let them know that our room wasn't cooling off because, as she said, it is their job to make sure our stay is perfect!

We left the lounge & headed downstairs, stopping by the front desk to let them know about the hot room.  They were ready to move us to another room right then, but we told them we were headed out to eat and would be back in a couple hours.  They told us they'd send maintenance up to check on things & we could check back with them when we returned.

So off we went on our scavenger hunt and to find a place for dinner.

Our first photo on the list was a picture of us at the location of the pizza place where we first met & started dating.  That restaurant burned down many years ago and a Mexican restaurant was built in its place.  It went out of business a year or so back.  Since picture #5 was of us kissing, we decided to combine the 2 and take a picture of us together, standing where we kissed the very first time---in the parking lot of the pizza place where we met!

This is the building currently standing at the location of the old pizza place.

This was about the 3rd try at this pic.  I kept aiming the camera in the wrong direction or Larry would lick my face or something.  He was still acting silly in this one, but I decided to go with it anyway!  ha ha!

The next picture on the list was a holiday character.  I thought for sure that we could hunt at toy stores or Walmart and find a Santa Claus or something for Valentine's Day or even a ghost/witch/goblin for Halloween, but we never found anything!  Now that the date is over I'm realizing we should've visited Hobby Lobby who put out their Christmas items in July!  Fooey!

The next picture on the list was a picture of each of us on playground equipment.  We drove by several parks, but there were always kids there and we were trying to find a slide or swings we could play on without an audience.  Plus it was blazing hot & the idea of getting out in the heat was less than desirable.  So while we were in Toys R Us (more pictures there later) we snapped these pics.  It's sort of like playground equipment right?  (My pose was Larry's idea--he thought I should kiss Dino rather than just sit there.)

 The next picture was a PG rated picture of each of us doing something silly.

I really didn't get one of Larry for this. He's nothing but silly 24/7 so it was hard to nail him down for this one!

The next picture on the list was Larry with a stuffed animal.  I swear, he was giggling just before I snapped this picture.  He's not a big smiler for pictures unless he's acting completely crazy.

The next one on the list was really just for our entertainment, so I'm skipping that one.  (Don't worry.  We didn't do anything R-rated in public!!)

Around this point, we detoured from the scavenger hunt to look for dinner.  We started out attempting to visit a local Hibachi place.  Larry wanted to take me somewhere I'd never been to celebrate my new job and I mentioned having never been to this place.  So we went and checked in with the hostess.

After about 10 minutes of sitting to wait for our spot at the hibachi table, I had a change of heart.  It was very loud, very crowded and honestly I just wasn't in the mood to share the table with a bunch of strangers.  I wanted a quiet corner where I could talk to my sweetie.  So we went to the hostess to tell her that we'd like to pay for our drinks so we could leave.  She asked why & I explained.  She offered to seat us on the sushi side of the restaurant (quiet, more private, booths for families & couples, etc) so we agreed.  However, once sitting at the table and looking at the pricey menu for about 15 minutes without a single waiter/waitress stopping to even say hello, we gave up & left.  There were oodles of waitstaff passing by our table over & over.  Even the manager passed us several times.  Not a soul stopped to ask if we were ready to order, if we needed drink refills...nothing.

So we moved on and drove around to see what else we could find.  We landed at Panera Bread.  I've heard people rave about this place since it opened but have never been there 'til last night.  If you're unaware of what it is, Panera Bread is sort of like an upscale deli.  Yummy food!  But for my sweet little country boy of a husband, the menu was a little hard to understand.  ha ha!  He ordered a steak bagootie (baguette) and even when the cashier & I both corrected him, he continued to call it a bagootie.  By the time we left, he was quite sure how to pronounce it, but loved saying bagootie just to mess with the staff who kept giving him funny looks when he said it.  ha ha!

On our list of pictures to take was one of Larry striking up a conversation with complete strangers about something crazy.  If you've seen the TV show "Impractical Jokers", you know what I'm talking about.  Larry was created to be on a show like that.  He can pull off those kind of nutty situations without cracking a smile.  I, on the other hand, would die laughing before I could get the first word out.  I attempted to take a picture of him having this conversation without looking too obvious, but all I got was this blurry one as he walked away from the table of the people he talked to.  (Some random couple who was also eating at Panera Bread.)

Since I had taken several goofy pictures of Larry, it was only fair that he get a picture of me doing something embarrassing in public.  So he got one of me picking my teeth after I ate.  It was only sort of posed.  My Sierra Turkey sandwich was really a tooth-sticking thing!  But even so, he thought it was hilarious when he snapped this pic.

The last pic on our list was our monthly self-portrait date pic.  I got results similar to previous months.  ha ha!  Oh well, he played along!

We grabbed a sweet treat before returning to the hotel.  God bless Andy and his banana coconut concrete!

When we returned to the hotel, the front desk ladies told us that the maintenance man had adjusted something about our A/C unit & everything "should" work now.  But they told us to call if it still wasn't right.  The moment we walked back into the room it was clear that it was not right.  It was sort of like walking into a steamy sauna.  We walked over to see if the A/C unit was even still ON, but realized that unless your hand was (literally) 1-2" from the vent, you couldn't even feel the air blowing.  So one call to the front desk fixed that.  We got a fresh new room with a brand new air conditioning unit that worked beautifully!  It looked exactly like the first room so I didn't take a 2nd picture.

I slept soooooooooooo well.  The pillows at Holiday Inn Express hotels are THE BOMB.  Not too hard.  Not too soft.  Not too thin.  Not so fluffy that you lay down and suffocate in the feathery plushness that wraps around your face.  I swear, every time we visit a Holiday Inn Express, I want to smuggle the pillows out.  I'm telling you folks.  I went to bed looking like this.....

....and woke up like this.  THAT is the image of a great night's sleep!  (For anyone who thinks I always have good hair days, here's proof that I don't!  LOL)

While Larry showered this morning, I pulled a little bit of a Pinterest-inspired prank.  If Larry had been appalled or said that it was really bad, I would've taken it all apart, but he thought it was hilarious.  Pillows & rolled up blankets give the illusion of someone still sleeping in the bed when you leave a hotel room.  (grin)

Upon check out this morning, the staff gave us two coupons for the hotel restaurant's breakfast buffet (for the trouble we had with the air conditioner last night.)  It was very yummy!!!!  Freshly made omelettes and every other kind of breakfast food you can imagine.  It was great!

Our date night was wonderful!  I'm so glad we're taking the time to do this every month!  Last night, Larry requested that I give him this same gift next Christmas---another year of pre-planned dates!  I'm already brainstorming for our 2014 Year of Dates!