June

June brought summer fun for the Grapevine Rheas!


Brian ended the school year, got a new teaching job, painted half of the house, and then got a new career!


Laura did Summer Spectacular (VBS), hosted a big lunch for the Adventure Zone volunteers and decorated the upstairs.  


Clara had her first swim lessons, began eating solids, and learned a few new tricks. 


What a month!


The first weekend we celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday.  It was quite a celebration!  Words can not begin to describe how much I look up to my mom.  She is the most giving, compassionate, thoughtful, kind, loving, Godly, considerate, selfless, generous person I have ever known.  If we all had just a thimbleful of the love that she has for God and for others, this world would be a drastically different place–harmonious and beautiful.  It is hard to believe she is 60 years old!  She is definitely one spunky and energetic 60 year old! (the woman gets less sleep than me each night…I seriously don’t know how she does it)  It was an honor to get to honor her, and we did it by getting together at the lake and remembering her years and all of the things we love about her.  It was sweet time together!


Here is the clan on the deck…see if you can find everyone….


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the birthday girl! (we posted around 60 of our favorite memories with her)


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The first Saturday of June is always Brian’s family reunion of his mom’s side of the familly (the Tallants).  We went into Paris for this.  Here are the three cousins “playing together”.  The first of many great times together!  Aidan was really sweet to Clara and kept sharing toys with her and bringing her things to play with.  He calls her “Baby Care-la” and it is precious!  Clara and Sophie (just 10 months apart) more play next to each other, with a slight tendancy to want to crawl on each other, pat each other, poke each other, pinch each other (I think Clara was even sucking on her arm at one point!) as they “discover” this other being that looks a lot like themselves.  It is the start of a tremendous friendship, I’m sure!
Trying to get three kids this age to look at the camera and smile all at the same time is like asking a cloud to rain. You can make funny faces, claps, even dance; but ultimately there’s just nothing we can do to influence barometric pressure…  But look at Aidan trying so hard – isn’t that precious?! 


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Mamaw and Papaw took care of the kids and we went on a double-date with Larr and Christi!


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Here is the actual reunion, with all of the extended family.


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Clara wants to play with her cousin Sophie!  Clara just couldn’t understand why hair yanking just wasn’t as fun for Sophie as it was for her.



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the brothers and their girls…


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Here is Brian’s family – the “Duane Tallant” (his Pepa) branch at the reunion…his grandmother, aunts, uncles and first cousins.  Quite the group! 


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It was a lot fun to see everyone and catch up!


That weekend Clara went swimming in my parents’ pool — her first time in a “big pool”.  She loved it!  This is a shot of her first reaction…


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She likes floating….


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and licking the water…


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and splashing Mombly!


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Clara started her very first swim lessons soon after that.  One of Grapevine’s city pools is literally less than half a mile down our street, so it works out great!  but the lesson…It was the biggest joke in the world!  I get that she is only 7 months old, but the only “instruction” in the class was, “All right, just walk around with your babies and let them feel the water.”  seriously?!?!!!    I think I can do that on my own time and without paying you $25 to do it, thank you very much!  the kid has had a bath before, so I think we’re good on the “getting used to water” front. Needless to say, we withdrew from the class and got our money back.  Wow.  I just realized that means that Clara dropped out of the first class she was ever in.  I hope I have not set her up for a lifetime of truancy and school drop outs!  Here are pictures from the short excursion into the world of “Mommy and Me” swim lessons. 


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Clara’s new tricks this month include shaking her head back and forth.  I realize I will dread the sight of this in about a year and a half when accompanied by a loud, resolute, “NOOOOO,” but right now, it is really cute!  She just sits there, shaking and shaking.  We do have a lot of fun with it…like, I will ask “Clara, is there any better daddy in the whole wide world?” (long head shake “no”) or, “Clara, are you going to date before you are 30 years old?” (long head shake “no”)  Of course, she isn’t really responding to our questions, but I like to pretend she is 😉


She also started eating solids this month, as I’m sure you saw in a previous post!  Still just eating rice cereal, but we’ll probably be moving on to green beans and squash here pretty soon…yum yum :) 


Clara Jane has the sweetest disposition.  People are always asking me if she is always this happy, and the truthful answer is, yes, she is!  We’ve been incredibly blessed.  (and believe me, after throwing up everyday for 7.5 months and not missing out on a SINGLE “possible pregnancy-related symptoms”, I will TAKE IT!)  Several people have said that this is the best age – between 3 and 9 months or so, before they have a will of their own and are in general pretty content and happy, and I can see why.  We’re trying to savor all of it! 


Brian enjoyed his first Father’s Day.  What an amazing Daddy!  I am so grateful for him and the way he loves and cares for our family.  It was a whole baseball weekend in celebration – we bought new gloves, watched “The Sandlot” and “The Natural,” and on Sunday, went to a special event at The Ballpark in Arlington.  We got to run the bases, see the locker room, play catch in the outfield, see the media room and indoor batting cages, and meet Nolan Ryan.  It was quite a day!!  amazingly, despite missing two naps and being in 98 degree heat, Clara Jane never cried or complained once – it was like she knew what a special day it was for her Dad and wanted to help make it happen! 


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She was EXHAUSTED when we left!  She had worked so hard to be good…you can see she was just wiped out!


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Brian posted a lot more pictures here if you would like to see them! :)


I don’t have any pictures of it, but it was a good month at work – we had “Summer Spectacular” (our VBS) and it was a great week – I got really re-energized spiritually and in ministry, seeing all of those precious kids and remembering what we’re doing can mean in the life of a child.  We hold SS off-campus at a middle school down in this community that we’re really trying to reach out to and love on, so that a lot of the kids that live around there can walk over to Summer Spectacular.  It was neat to see so many new and different faces (as well as “old” and beloved ones!).  The following week I had a big appreciation lunch for a lot of adventure zone volunteers and their families – about 150 people  – I was ecstatic that that many were able to come!  Having lunch and saying “thanks” seems so pitiful in comparison to what these amazing people do, but my hope was that it in some way encouraged them and helped them “get” what a huge difference they’ve made this year in the lives of kids.  The commitment they make is incredible- almost every week to show up and pour into preschoolers, and the love, generosity and selflessness they do it with is completely unmatched.  There is seriously not a group of people I have more respect for, and it is humbling, refreshing and inspiring to get to serve with them.  


Brian also had a big month for work, as I’m sure you’ve seen.  All told, the boy had six new job offers this year…and the wild thing is he took three of them!  But the last was the best and he is going to be there awhile! 


We went to the wedding of one of my previous interns, who was marrying one of the adventure zone volunteers.  They are a PRECIOUS couple and I love them so much – I am so excited for them and know they have years and years of bliss ahead!  A special privilege (that also made me soooooooooooo nervous) was that they asked me to be the “announcer” at the reception, like the person that says, “And now please turn your attention to the dancefloor for the Father/Daughter Dance” :O  I think they thought storytelling and talking to a puppet for 2 and 3 year olds during Sunday large group translated into skills for DJing a wedding reception, but I think June brought another discovery of another “possible career” that I am NOT cut out for! 


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It was a beautiful ceremony and wonderful reception. Andrew surprised us all by playing guitar and singing a song to Christen during the wedding! A gift he was apparantly keeping secret from everyone on staff!


Well, musical gifting runs in Andrew’s family because another wonderful part of the ceremony came at the end when Andrew’s three sisters sang, “From This Moment”. It’s a gorgeous song with touching lyrics, perfect for a wedding and his sisters sang it beautifully. The song got stuck in both of our heads pretty good for the next 24 hours. We’d just be walking around the house and start randomly singing…you know how that goes. And just when I thought I had moved on, Brian would belt it out from the other room. Fast forward a day and Brian would think he’d forgotten, and then he’d get a text message from me, “Frooooooom … Thiiiiiiis … Mooooment!” So, our latest game is to see who can come up with the most creative way to put the song back in the other’s head. Notes in random places, a disguised link to the youtube video of shania twain’s version, getting his grandmother to sing it to him (that one was VERY unexpected – the key to a good “from this moment” play), etc.  Now we’re trying to top each other for the best “get”.  


We worked some on home improvments – I’ll take some pictures of that later.  Mainly, we painted the whole house except for the game room and kitchen, and got new bedding, some amazing new-to-us furniture from our friends the O’Reilly’s (they have incredible taste, and it includes a coffee table that Kyndra and her sister actually made…we’ve been admiring it for years, and now it is in our living room!  what a sweet reminder of our now far-away friends…), and are working on updating the bathrooms with new fixtures, towels, shower curtains, etc.    What I desperately want to do is replace our living room couches and dining room table, but that will have to come in time after we can save up!   


Here are some “just hanging out” pics….


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Clara had a great month as well!  She became one laughing little bumbo.  She has been laughing for a long time now, but it was a lot easier and more predictable to make her laugh by tickling her or playing “peek a boo”.  one of my most favorite things in the world is to look over at her across the room, lock eyes and smile really big at her.  She takes a second, taking you in, and then her whole face breaks out in a huge grin of pure joy.  this is usually followed by her whole body getting in on the happiness-expression, flapping her arms, bouncing and kicking her legs, she just can’t contain all of the joy she is feeling!  She continues to love sticking her tongue out, and rolling it, and curling it.  She is fascinated by cats and dogs and other kids – she will watch them very intently as they move about a room. 


We have many, many nicknames for her.  These include, but are not limited to:  bean (usually in reference to her, like, “Have you changed The Bean’s diaper recently?” or “I’m going to Bean-Feed.” and it’s variations “beanie, Clair-bean, little bean,” Bumbo (and it’s variations: Bum, Bumbina (from Aunt Chris), Bumby, bumbo-bean), chee-chee, little koompie, Bommie (this is what we called her in the womb), Baby, babygirl, angelbaby.  We call her Clara Jane and Clara interchangably, but never ever Claire.  not that I have anything against it, I just realized we never use it!


 


We have made up many songs to go along with these names, as well.  J-Lo has a song called “my humps” (yeah…yuck.) and I changed it when I was pregnant to “My bump, my bump, my precious baby bump” or “…big ol’ baby bump,” depending on how I was feeling.  I would sing it to Brian to make him laugh.  But now I sing it as “My bean, my bean, my precious baby bean”!  I also alway sing a song to her I made up with her name to the tune of “frere jaques” and “you’re my favorite person” that my mom sang to me when I was little.  Brian has one he made up to the tune of “I am a C” (an old sunday school song where you spell out CHRISTIAN…if you were a southern baptist or knew a southern baptist during the mid-80’s, you know exactly what I’m talking about).  It goes, “You are my bean, baby bumbo bean, the cutest little thing I’ve ever seen; and I will love you all my days, no matter what you do or say, there’s nothing you could do to make me ever stop loving you” 


If you wonder why in the world I am writing all of this because, seriously, is this really interesting to anyone else?!?!!, then I will tell you :)  I have done one really awful job at keeping up any kind of baby book for Clara.  I’m pretty sure the one and only time I’ve written anything in it was when she was 5 weeks old.  hey – I’m just trying to not make the 2nd and 3rd kids feel bad!  soooooo my plan is to keep a good blog and then make it into a book, like the ones here.  isn’t that awesome?!!  so, I want to be able to tell Clara what she was like at each age, and this is how I hope to do it! 


plus, there are about 50 unique visitors to our blog each day, even if you never comment, you lurkers!!! 😉 


Almost time for July!

Time for Change…

Laura mentioned in a previous post and many of you have heard from me already, but yes indeed, the days of Mr. Rhea the Art Teacher have come to a close. I am now working for The Miller Company as Director of Marketing, and with a whole two weeks under my belt, I am loving it.

More about the specifics of the new gig later, but first, some words about teaching. I consider myself profoundly blessed and forever changed because of my four years at Polk Middle School in Carrollton. It’s cliche, but (almost as cliche as the phrase, ‘it’s cliche but…’) I suspect I learned more from my students than they learned from me. I know the time I spent there was valuable and lives were changed; tears on the last day of school let you know that you did at least part of your job with excellence.

My own path towards becoming a teacher began one day in the computer lab at UNT during my second semester there as a Communication Design major. I looked around at the seniors fretting over projects that I would be working on in a few years and a future devoid of personal meaning revealed itself to me. From that day on, I had absolutely no passion for my schoolwork. I quit attending classes and eventually left UNT without even bothering to formally withdraw from the University. Predictably, academic probation and a card full of Fs followed me. Not that I cared.

For all I knew at the time, I was done with school for good. The irony of that sentiment would be fulfilled a little over a year later. I was living in a duplex on Polk St. in Paris, grappling with the issue of having left school to avoid a life that would leave me unfulfilled, only to find myself equally passionless at home. It would be a while before I discovered that my lack of hope and meaning had nothing to do with my major, job, or geography; but instead had everything to do with my own spiritual anemia — something God Himself would rescue me from at around this time as well.

Bored and with no particular direction, I happened to be on the phone one evening with a friend from high school who was attending Texas A&M, Laura Swasko (you know her as Laura Rhea). The great thing about Laura is that we’ve always had fantastic conversations. Even during those years where I was a logically convinced atheist, and she a joyfully redeemed Christian, we were best friends and always afforded each other our deepest respect. I even said to a friend once, “You know, in a different life, Laura and I would be perfect for each other.” So, it was during one of these conversations on the phone that I was sharing my general lack of … you know, what the heck to do with my life … and she says, “Didn’t you want to be a teacher in high school?”

This was true. Our senior year, my interest and appreciation for Art had really taken a hold of me. Too practical (even as an 18 year-old) to believe that I could make a living for myself as a liquor-swilling studio artist, I settled upon the idea of following in the footsteps of my art teacher and all around one of my favorite people, Mrs. Tschoerner. When I shared this sentiment with her one day in class, she dryly replied in classic Tschoern fashion, “You sure about that?”

Equally disconcerting was the time I spied my Middle School G/T teacher at the Valentine’s dance our senior year and struck up a conversation that pretty much ended with, “Well, I’m thinking about becoming a teacher.”

“Oh, Brian. No.”

Those conversations and others like it are what eventually convinced me to major in Art, but with a focus on graphic design instead of education. But then, fast forward a couple of years and drop-out status to the phone conversation with Laura, “Yes! Teaching!”

Within days, I was registered for a Summer class at Texas A&M – Commerce. I would continue to live and work in Paris while commuting back and forth doing 18 and 15 hour course loads over the next several semesters. I worked hard and made good grades; unfortunately, the Fs from that last semester at UNT resulted in my graduating GPA being one one-hundredth of a point below Honor Grad status. On the one hand, that means nothing. I’ve never been asked in an interview, “So, did you graduate with honors? No? Mm. Sorry, there’s the door.”

On the other hand, and this is the one I look at most often, I love that. It took no small amount of commitment, sacrifice and focus to graduate in that window of time; but in the end, what would have been a symbollic reward for that work was kept away within a hair’s breadth as a reminder of who I once was.

In the Fall of 2003, I did my student teaching in middle and high school and that experience confirmed my decision to become a teacher. I graduated in December, one week before Laura and I got married, and one week after the wedding Laura and I moved to Arlington so that she could attend UTA and pursue a Master’s in Social Work.

There aren’t many teaching jobs that open up in December (go figure), so I spent three weeks as a waiter at the Chili’s near the Ballpark before I was hired as a graphic designer at Bioworld Merchandising. I liked the guys I was working with, but I applied and reapplied at every school district in DFW and we hoped and prayed for a teaching job in the upcoming school year. Fittingly, a volunteer that Laura met at IBC knew of an opening for an art teacher at Polk Middle School … I interviewed with Mr. Hicks and received the job!

Nobody needs to be told that teaching is really hard. Though in this modern world, I don’t know of many jobs that are without their own immense amount of stress. But teachers seem to garner an extra degree of sympathy. Laura can attest to this: I cannot even count how many times over the past four years when telling a new acquaintance I teach middle school, that their response has been, “Oh…My Goodness!! Well, God bless you! I just can’t imagine.”

Besides graduating with a lot of educational philosophy, developmental psychology, and best practice pedagogical approaches rolling around in my head, I also had a couple of numbers up there, too. Twenty, one, fifty, and five. Twenty percent of teachers quit after one year. Fifty percent before five.

There were plenty of days during my rookie season that I thought, “Oh yeah. I’m definitely going to be in that 50% that leaves in a few years. No doubt.” But the vast majority of the time I was optimistic about my prospects for improvement and I didn’t have the trouble that many young teachers experience, that being a lack of administrative support. Mr. Hicks is a model for how principals should lead a school and his support was instrumental. I learned a lot in year one and I put it to work year two. It went about as well as I suppose a year can, and year three went great as well.

But when it comes down to it, there is a very, very small percentage of people who are actually cut out for teaching long-term. In my fourth year, I began to realize that I was not one of them and I probably would not be a teacher for the rest of my life. I didn’t know if that meant two years or ten, I continued to work hard and do well by my kids, but it was a realization that I became pretty comfortable with.

I didn’t feel like I needed to escape teaching and I certainly didn’t wake up with a sense of dread about going to work, but it was a sort of … yeah, comfortable knowledge that this is not, it turns out, what I’ll be doing from here on.

I shared this with the guys in my accountability group, and it planted a seed that would eventually sprout as this new job and the inevitable career change. One afternoon this summer I was showing Gene (who is in my accountability group) some design pieces I’d created and he shared with me that The Miller Company’s current Director of Marketing had taken a new job and would be leaving in a few weeks. Based on the work he was seeing, he offered to mention me to his boss and the owner of TMC, Tom. Gene called me later that night to say that I had an interview in the morning. The interview went great, Tom offer
ed me the job and I was more than happy to accept it. Start to finish the whole thing went down in less than 24 hours. It was quite the to-do in the GrapevineRhea household.

The extra tweak in this story is that just the week before I had accepted a job about three miles from home at Dawson MS in Southlake. It was the fork in the road that I didn’t expect to come to quite so suddenly. I still loved teaching and had gotten pretty good at it; I could give Dawson a few great years and see where we found ourselves then. But, I feel blessed that the exact type of job I would be looking for later was available now. I could leave teaching knowing that I hadn’t overstayed myself and that my new job was not an opportunity for escape I had clung to in desperation, but a timely, suitable challenge that I am all too ready to take on.

I was only a waiter for three weeks, but I always say I think it’d do everyone a bit of good that hasn’t waited tables to give it a crack. It’s made me more aware when we go out to eat. I usually pre-bus our table before we leave, and I try to be a little more sympathetic to a less-than-attentive-waiter if they look like they’re in the weeds (waiterspeak for swamped). There’s not a doubt in my mind that four years teaching will have some lasting effects. Some I can already sense, some I’m sure will only reveal themselves later; I’ll be grateful for them all.

May, Part II

(be sure to read “May, Part I” first! :))

On the actual Memorial Day, Brian and I took a “daycation” and went down to Dublin, Texas, where the oldest Dr. Pepper Bottling plant in the world is.  It is a really pretty drive southwest of Fort Worth, and ends in a cute little town, who is all about their Dr. Pepper!  It is the only plant that still uses the original recipe, which includes cane sugar (rather than corn syrup) and ooooooooo is it yummy!!!  Brian loooooooooves Dr. Pepper, so this was a real treat!  We toured the plant and a teeny little museum with an awesome guide (I think he might have been so entertaining because of the 10 DPs he had already had that day!). 

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(Clara Jane is playing with a cup here…no worries, having her own DP is waaaaaaaay off ;))

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This is great…the equipment is so old (built in 1891; newest piece is from the 60’s) it is hard to replace things and to repair it.  When it became a requirement to “date stamp” products so that they can be thrown out when they pass their time, this is the piece of equipment they added…a marker that swipes each botte as it passes, thus “date stamping” it, and they change the marker color each month.  As in, “brown marker was May of 08…it’s now June of 09, so better throw that DP out!”

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In “Ol’ Doc’s Soda Shop”

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We checked out the annual “Main Street Days” in Grapevine and enjoyed walking around checking out the booths and entertainment.  Kristi, my sister, works for GRACE in Grapevine, and volunteered in a booth to help out, and we visited her!

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Brian checked out a Hummer…not sure if he liked it or not…

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That night we went to a very bittersweet party…it was a going away party for our dear friends Shaun and Kyndra.  Shaun is one of Brian’s thoseawake buddies, and has been an incredible influence and inspiration to Brian the past few years.  They are moving to Reno, Nevada so Shaun can attend grad school and Kyndra can do her OT internship.  We are so sad to see them go, but excited for them as they enter this new season! 

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Clara also said good-bye to her Kids Day Out teachers – her very first teachers!  They loved her so much and took such sweet care of her.  Here she is with Mrs. Jennifer:

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And Mrs. Judy:

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We went to a “Murder Mystery Dinner” at the church one evening along with our home group…something I have ALWAYS wanted to do!!  It was a lot of fun, but, there is definitely no future for me in forensics or crime prevention — I had NO idea how it happened and was pretty shocked when it did!  Here are the girls (it was a “cruise” theme)…

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Here are some pictures of us just hanging out…

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These are the kinds of times I don’t want to forget…. :)

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boy, did I get some wear out of that shirt in May or what?!!  I’m just realizing how much I wore it doing this post…I swear I washed it! 

Here Clara is getting tickled by Dad…squealing with laughter!

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She really perfected the art of “rolling” in May – it was a major mode of transportation!  It was crazy how quick she could get from one side of the room to the other just by rolling.  There was once that I looked away for two seconds and the next thing I knew she had managed to get over to a pair of my shoes and had one end of a shoe stuck in her mouth, just sucking away – YUCK!  That was when I realized…the time of being able to decide exactly where she is going to play is over!  She also got a lot better at using her hands -being able to really manipulate things with her fingers, pick things up with her feet, pulling things as little as a piece of hair (typically one she ripped out of my head!) off of her dress and consider it.  Clara also LOVES her jumper, as seen in other posts, and can really get a work out going in it!  She loves being independent and getting to move.  This is also why she loves her walker – it has opened up the whole world to her to discover and explore!  She loves zooming around in that thing checking everything out.  It is amazing the things she will find that I do not! 😛  (For example, I heard her gumming something so I went in to see her chewing on a price sticker she had pulled off of a bookshelf).  She wants to touch and feel EVERYTHING!  Her favorite things to do are pull the kitchen towel down and then feel the plastic bag sticking out of the garbage can – those are the first things she goes for each time she gets in her walker, and then she is off to find something new somewhere else in the house.  For the first time, she gets excited when Brian and I walk into the room, and reaches for us when she is with someone else.  That makes my heart burst in a way I didn’t think was possible!  Clara discovered a love for cups this month, and pretty much any object that isn’t supposed to be a toy.  She could have 10 brightly colored, kid friendly, super fun toys surrounding her, and the only thing she wants is either a 1) remote control, 2) cell phone or 3) cup.  She had her 6 month appointment in the middle of the month, and checked out very healthy and well.  She weighed 20 lbs. and was 28 inches long.  That puts her in the 97% for her age, but hey – at least it’s proportional 😉  Her doctor said she is developing just right and was pleased to see her progress.  Clara is still smiles all of the time and just pure joy!   

Good night, everyone! 

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May, Part 1

May was an awesome month!  We got to watch Clara grow and become even more adorable, and enjoy some perfect weather!  It was so nice that we took a walk most evenings down to Oak Grove Park, which is on the shore of Lake Grapevine.  It is a really nice 10 minute walk through some woods and then we played Bocce Ball in the Park.  I like this game because each “round” is different and I can actually hold my own against Brian in it, and Brian likes it because, well, it’s a game, and he likes anything that involves hand-eye coordination and keeping score.  Clara would sit in her stroller and we would take her from pitch to pitch with us and she would just watch, being cute.  This is her on one of those nights doing her (at the time) new favorite thing – sticking her tongue out. 

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Here is a picture of Clara sleeping.  I have become one of those moms who really does go watch their baby while they sleep because it is just so darn sweet!  What’s funny is she usually sleeps in one of two positions – on her tummy and knees, with her hiney hiked up in the air (seriously, I don’t know how she sleeps like that…but that is her primary sleep position) or flat on her tummy with a slight lean to one side and one leg down and one leg pulled all the way up and bent…which is exactly how I sleep.  crazy, huh?!   of course, this is a picture of neither of those, because I wanted to get her sweet face :) 

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The first weekend we went to the wedding of Marianna and Ben – Marianna is a good friend from college, and we are so happy for them!  They are so great together!  It was an absolutely beautiful wedding and so fun to see them in such bliss and to get to see so many old friends.

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We stayed with another dear friend from college, Tiffany, and her husband Jason.  They just bought their first house in Houston and since Tiffany is an interior designer, we were taking all sorts of notes!  This is Tiffany (on my left) and Korie (my college roomate; a bridesmaid) and me. 

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Since we were down in Houston (and probably reducing our lifetime exponentially by the lung-clogging pollution and blood-pressure-increasing traffic…oh, how I loathe me some Houston) we decided to have a little fun on Sunday since I had the day off (I will begrudgingly say this about Houston – it does have some great museums).  One we had not been to yet was the Museum on Natural Science and History.  and we were not disappointed!  It had some fascinating exhibits on dinosaurs, the elements, energy and drilling.  Yes, I said drilling, like for oil.  Would you believe that Brian spent a TON of time completely entranced learning about off shore oil drilling?!  He was soooooooooooo into it!  It really is pretty amazing how they do that!

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Will she be a scientist?! 

The next weekend one of my best friends from college, Nicole, and her wonderful husband Ben, visited!  They live in Washington, D.C. so it was a very special treat!  It was so great to get to catch up witih them – we always pick up right where we left off.

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and then….my very first Mother’s Day!!  It was one of the best days of my whole life.  I was on cloud nine the whole day…Brian made it so special, and of course, Clara made it so special!  I kept thanking her all day for making me a “mommy.”  I’m especially grateful that I get to be her mommy.  Is that not the cutest face you’ve ever seen?

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Brian made me breakfast in bed and then we went to church.  Brian came and taught a class, and it is always so precious to get to do ministry together.  We went out to lunch and then I got to take a nap!  Nothing like a Sunday afternoon nap…  I went back to church for the evening services and then we went out to eat again (no cooking on Mother’s Day!).  We went to Joe’s, which is quickly becoming my favorite Italian restaurant nearby.  It is still no Cappizzi’s, but *sigh* I’m resigned to realizing nothing ever will be.  But this will be our Grapevine-substitute.  Brian made dessert!  It was an “edible arrangement” and it was beautiful and yummy!!  Have you ever heard of edible arrangements?  Check out the pictures on that link of what they’re “supposed” to look like!  well, here is Brian’s version:

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I think the homemade version is much better; what about you?!

Then we watched a movie and Clara fell asleep on my chest and I just kept holding her, feeling blessed beyond all measure.  What a perfect day!

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We had an IBC Staff and Families Volleyball tournament that was lots of fun.  I must say, I had no idea how good Brian is at volleyball. WOW! :O  Everyone was pretty impressed!  That boy can hit some volleyballs!  and, I think he thinks it extra fun when he dives into the sand to do it.  His team won the whole tournament!!  It was a great day and on a happy sidenote, we finally discovered the greatest sunblock in the world – the kind that sprays on like bug repellant.  life-changing.

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We went and saw the Rangers beat the Mariners in Clara Jane’s first Rangers game.  I think this was a dream come true for her ol’ Dad.  I must say, she wasn’t REAL into it, and even took a nap halfway through, but all in all, she seemed right at home at a ball game.

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Several days a week, I go into the office for work and I take Clara to work with me, and she is in “Kids Klub” at the church (soooooo wonderful that I get to be so close to her, and know and trust and adore the people taking care of her) and then some days I work at home.  This works out well because Clara is such a great napper AND when she is up, she is very content to play by herself.  So I work while she plays nearby.  Here is a picture of Clara “hanging out” during the day.  She was being so cute just chillin’ in her walker I had to take some pics! 

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and of course, I can take care of her when she needs to be taken care of!  and then I just work in the evening some when Brian gets home. It is a wonderful team effort! 

Brian had the Friday of Memorial Day weekend off, so we headed out to my parents’ lake house and had some relaxing fun with Mimi and Papi!  It was so nice to be out on the water, sleeping in and playing games.  Here Clara is on her first boat ride ever!  

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here are the two captains! 

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More to come, very soon!