April

April Fool's Day is always a lot of fun around our house, though I
couldn't seem to "get" Brian this year!  He was one step ahead of me
everytime – he missed the salted toothbrush, the taped water faucet,
the green milk.  But I did get him with vaseline on the doorknob
and–the best–bubblewrap taped to his tire AT WORK (totally unexpected
:D) so that when he backed out it sounded like he had just run over a
ton of glass and he freaked out!  He got me way more, though, with
rubberbanded kitchen sink sprayer (classic!  how did I miss it?!),
changing my browser to several funny youtubes that are inside jokes,
changed my facebook profile pic.  At work, we got our boss Gary GOOD by
wrapping everything in his office in tin foil.  I mean, EVERYTHING. 
and then just for good measure, we put his telephone in the ceiling, a
la "The Office".

Gary's office

The first weekend was beautiful!  The weather was so pretty (it had been pretty bipolar through March) and it was the perfect day for "Spring into Nash Farm" – an annual event in Grapevine when they open up historic Nash Farm (in the middle of town a restored farmhouse and farm from the 1800's) and have all sorts of "olden days" things going on.  Clara liked the petting farm most of all… 

though at first she didn't know quite what to think:

IMG_6478

before long she was petting away!

IMG_6489

She kept saying "Oooooh!" and pointing

IMG_6490

IMG_6483

She got a perfect spot for watching the chickens…she was so fascinated by them!

IMG_6501

One thing she has started doing is running towards us with a big hug when she sees us – talk about melting your mommy-heart!!  Here she is coming for Brian.  She has become so much more affectionate – giving so many hugs and kisses, though I don't think I could ever have too many! 

IMG_6508

We got the GREATEST treat later that day — a visit from Christi, Larr, Aidan and Sophie!!  It was so fun to hang out with them and let the kids play. 

Trying to get three wiggly preschoolers to all look and smile at the same time = IMPOSSIBLE  (but way to go, Aidan!)

IMG_6512 

Clara the little hostess…"Hey, cuz, welcome to my crib"

IMG_6514

Aunt Chris is so much fun!

IMG_6521  

Me with my sweet niece and the other littlest Rhea…

IMG_6533

we took the kids to the Bass Pro Shop down the road and they loved the huge aquarium and all the animals!

IMG_6536 

they're such cute little buddies…

IMG_6541 

Guess who got sick…again?

IMG_6549 

After her hospitalization in December, they gave us a breathing treatment machine and medicine we could use at home, so for about 6 weeks we were giving her these a couple times a day.  She liked it because she got to watch TV during the treatment.  It got to the point where she would run to our room, point at her nose, point at the machine, then point at the TV.  :P 

IMG_6550

Another pretty day we visited the Botanical Gardens in Grapevine.  We played catch, looked at all the flowers, and went to the playground.  What a gorgeous day to be outside!

IMG_6556

Checking out the fish…

IMG_6557 

IMG_6560

I wanted to take her picture in the azaleas, but she was NOT having it!

IMG_6561

This is a tree that was alive when the Declaration of Independence was signed! Clara is appropriately amazed. 

IMG_6564

Cheese!!  Our little 17 month old!

IMG_6565 

IMG_6566

Brian got a Blackberry and he was soooo excited (and sooooooo obsessed) – here he is hiding it in his glove. 

IMG_6576

Someone just found the water fountain!

IMG_6571

Easter brought the annual Easter Eggsperience.  Prior to that were really moving Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services- it hit me all over again how tremendous the Father's love for us truly is.  Then Saturday was the EE – and what great, great fun this is!!!  It is an annual event that our children's ministry puts on, and I'm the director of.  It was so neat to see my own daughter really begin to experience it this year.  The most special part is an "Easter Path," and it is so powerful to see families walking through the Easter story together, talking and sharing.  Clara's still a little young for that, but she will be there soon enough! 

IMG_6579 

IMG_6589

Easter Sunday was special because my parents came in that afternoon, Kristi and Eric came over, and we all went to service together that night.  People shared stories about how "Jesus is alive!" So, so true!!  Afterwards, we had dinner together and it was just nice to all be together.  :)  Clara hunted for eggs…with grapes inside them.  Which, I might add, she was EXTREMELY excited about.  Wonder how many years we'll be able to get away with that?! 

Then…bluebonnet season came to this great stretch of Texas!  More bluebonnet pics to come! 

IMG_6681

After all the craziness of Easter (those are a couple of LONG LONG work-weeks), we escaped to the lakehouse the following weekend, arriving Thursday night to maximize our relaxin' before heading back Saturday night!  I can't believe these are the only pictures I took…I guess I was too busy not doing anything to get the camera out!

IMG_6754

Clara and her Dadly love reading together :)

IMG_6755

And the on Sunday…paybacks from April Fool's Day.

My wrapped car

We celebrated my mom's birthday with dinner and then gifts, games and cake at our house.  They were going to the Texas star party down at the McDonalad Observatory the next day, so we got her new hiking sticks! 

IMG_6761

Mimi wants a kiss, Clara wants the hiking stick…

IMG_6764

the best gift of all!

IMG_6774

Clara is ALWAYS trying to get into my make-up, and has even managed to a few times – the mascara and lipstick make quite the little mess.  But those time pale in comparison to the morning she found a shaprie…right as we were leaving for work…and a meeting I had to be at on time…and she treated it like it was mascara….

IMG_6780

Amazingly, none of it got on her dress!  and sharpie comes off surprisingly well with baby wipes – it's like they KNOW! 

Brian painted a piece of art for an organization in Paris that is trying to restore the old Grand movie theater.  This is a really neat landmark in the historic downtown area that fell into major disrepair after they shut the theater down about 15 years ago.  It holds lots of special memories for us and many people in Paris and Brian was so honored and excited to get to be a part of the project.  They asked him to paint a painting of the Grand that would be auctioned at a party/fundraiser in June.  Here he is working away (the painting is of the marquee)! 

IMG_6777

This was the first draft…he ended up completely starting over…

IMG_6784

It was an art-filled week!  We went to "Art in the Square" in Southlake's town center (Southlake is next to Grapevine and the town center is about 5 minutes from our house) and enjoyed the festival, checking out all the art and booths with Kristi, and then all went to Baja Mex for dinner and margaritas afterwards (our favorite mexican food in Grapevine!). 

IMG_6791 

IMG_6795

Clara likes to push her stroller… :)

IMG_6790

Here Clara and Brian are rooting on the Rangers! They were doing so good and really making a run for first place!!  It has been such an exciting season!

IMG_6800

At the very end of April I went to the Orange Conference in Atlanta with several others from our children's ministry staff.  We were gone for five days and I missed Brian and Clara so much!  It was a FANTASTIC, inspiring, motivating conference, however, and I was so grateful I got to be there!  "Orange" is what happens when you bring together the heart of the family (RED) and the light of the church (YELLOW) – you get ORANGE, a combined influence that makes a much greater impact on the life of a child than either of those two influences alone.  Tons of great teaching for children's ministry and especially with how we can empower and build into families in order to leverage their time with their children.  And lots of other great info along the way, too :)   

IMG_6807

The speaker that I got the most out of was Francis Chan.  WHAT A TREAT to get to hear him live.  He has a great and really strong message about "crazy love" –living that kind of love that Jesus lived and called us to, but that gets called "crazy" in our culture (especially Christian sub-culture) nowdays.  He's done some really cool things with his church out in California and with his own family and life that have gotten him called a "radical" by many, though he is quick to point out that he is just living like Jesus said to live.  pretty awesome. 

IMG_6809

we have fun together. :)

IMG_6821

the last night we went out and did "atlanta" things – we went and ate at the Varsity, walked around centennial park (and prayed our car didn't get broken into), and saw the olympic torch from 1996. 

IMG_6856

We stayed with a former IBC volunteer (who had moved to Atlanta) that I had worked with to create our creative programming large group worship experience for preschoolers.  I've missed him and his sweet family so much!  They went above and beyond in "hosting" us and we were so blessed, while also very much enjoying getting to catch up with them!

IMG_6876

My mom came in to help out with Clara while Brian was at work and we were very grateful!  She said that when Clara would wake up in the morning she would point to my room and run in there and be so confused that I wasn't there…that made me feel so bad, but also so good! :) 

Other highlights of April:

Meeting with my "mom group"–we meet every other Tuesday night and just talk for hours – sharing stories and encouraging each other.  Sometimes we read from mommying-devotional books and talk about them.  They've been such a great source of love and encouragement over the past 18 months and I don't think I've ever mentioned it on here :)  It's definitely something I want to remember one day when I am reading back through our life recorded here, though I don't know how I could forget such an amazing group of Godly, compassionate, supportive women! 

Brian played poker via videochat and WON!  just wanted to include this as a "this is sooooo 21st century moment" – the guys were together (and oh how they love them some Texas Hold 'Em) and he couldn't go because Clara was sick, so they just set it up, showed him his cards on the camera and he played that way…amazing.  If only we'd had the same set up for Vegas :P 

Brian poker

In other gambling news…Brian won 3rd place in our dentist's college basketball pool!  yes, you read that right…our dentist.  He has a free pool every year just for fun with all of his patients.  And Brian won 3rd place out of several hundred people – a $100 Best Buy Gift card! woohooo!!  me…I got 139th, which I must say wasn't a big shocker.  at least I get to enjoy in the spoils with him!  :D 

Clara makes this piggy face with huffing sound everytime she sees any animal, and especially when she sees any dogs.  They could be live, pictures, or on TV.  It is hilarious.  She is becoming more and more independent – and WANTING to be independent.  She is pretty good at feeding herself (don't think we'll be losing the bib anytime soon, but definitely an improvement), following simple instructions and walking, jumping, climbing, running.  The run isn't very smooth but includes some sort of hop/skip and is just hilarious.  One of her favorite things to do is try to put her clothes on by herself, but she is definitely NOT very good at that yet!  But I love how determined she is and how she doesn't give up very easily.  She eats pretty much anything now.  She has oatmeal with raisins and a banana for breakfast everyday (she thinks the oatmeal is a treasure hunt for the raisins, actually) and usually a PBJ (whole wheat bread, natural peanut butter, and just fruit jelly make it not a dessert like most PBJ's ;)) with green beans or some other veggie and a fruit for lunch.  dinner varies greatly but she never fails to eat a TON!  She will out-eat kids 3 times her size — I can't imagine where she got that love of food from! ;)  She loves to put my purse on, grab my keys, say &
quot;bye bye" and blow kisses and then head for the front door, and even pretend to put the keys in the door knob.  She also loves to play "Bye Bye chase" where she acts like she is leaving and then runs around through the kitchen and playroom to "get you" from behind.  

Happy April, on to Merry May…

March March March

For Christmas, Kristi and I got my mom tickets to a Judy Collins concert that was at Bass Hall on March 2nd.  Judy was a big folk singer-songwriter in the 60's and 70's that my mom loved/loves.  She has a beautiful voice and plays the guitar and piano.  Our "girls night" was really fun and special!  We were all laughing because – seriously- we saw two other people there out of the whole crowd of HUNDREDS that were below the age of 50.  And even then I would say the average age was closer to 65. :)  It was even more cool because of that!! 

IMG_6418  

IMG_6419
IMG_6421

Brian surprised me with a date (thanks Aunt Kristi and Uncle Eric for making it possible!) – we went to dinner at a great little Italian place in Grapevine, and then went and saw a new play by a playwright (with Bootstraps Comedy Theater) we love, and it was HILARIOUS!  The play was called "Hello Human Female" and was put on by Audacity Theater Lab in this teeny tiny, very cool theater in Dallas called Ochre House. 

HHFwebspot

The weather started to get really pretty and we took advantage as much as we could!  It was sooooo nice – 70's and everything starting to bloom – walks in the evenings, picnics in the day…  Clara and I met Brian for lunch one day at a park in between his work and our house:

IMG_6426

The weather couldn't seem to make up it's mind, though, because just as soon as it started to get pretty, a super cold or rainy front would move in for another 4 days.  I felt like I was changing out long sleeves and short sleeves all month long! 

We went to a parenting seminar on Friday night and Saturday morning at Fellowship Church.  It was AWESOME!!  I felt so much more equipped walking out of there and like we have a PLAN! :)

The following Saturday we had a Kid Venture at the church, where families and teachers all come out and hang out together.  It is a good time to get to know everyone a little better!  We had a "Teddy Bear Parade" for all of the preschoolers and it was SO STINKIN' CUTE!!  I think if I started everyday getting to watch a teddy bear parade I could never have a bad day :)  The kids made "floats" out of shoeboxes and then pulled their little buddies around the "parade route".  Clara was SO cute because, even though she didn't really get what was going on, she would walk for awhile, then stop and do a total "princess" wave to the crowd, walk a little while then stop and wave again and so on.  so funny!

One night that my dad was in town for work and staying in a hotel, we went over and swam in his pool.  Even though it was so COLD Clara still had a great time!  I definitely preferred the hot tub though!

IMG_6431 

IMG_6432

When I cleaned out my car, Clara decided to help.  In fact, she thought she would just take off!

IMG_6454 

IMG_6456 

Clara got a really bad cough and cold that she just couldn't shake.  Here she is taking some medicine.  We also did at-home breathing treatments.  Staying home for spring break (preschool was out) and keeping her home the week before seemed to finally do the trick (not being around other kids)!  Brian and I did a grand balancing act trading off being at home with her so the other could go into work–kinda stressful, but all ok in the end.  This definitely makes the list of "things you appreciate your parents doing now that you're a parent and REALIZE!"

IMG_6460

Brian started worm composting again!  go little worms, go!

IMG_6461

we had a super fun night of enchiladas, margaritas, and ROCK BAND with the Robinson's!  Michelle quite possibly has the biggest heart of anyone I know, and the coolest 1st grader! their whole family ROCKS – quite literally :D!

IMG_6464

IMG_6465

We decided to repaint the guest bathroom…last November.  I got as far as buying the paint and painting a test square.  And then it got pushed to the backburner and oh, you know how that kind of thing goes.  So after many months of a green wall with a one foot gray square, I decided to re-attack it, and unfortunately, also decided to remove the chair rail border.  It looked ugly, has been repainted several times and did I mention it looks UGLY?  well, that is easier said than done!  Let's just say, at the end of the day, there were two holes in the wall, a couple of dents, and the wall paper that was under several layers of paint, had been torn off and was hanging in several large chunk
s.  It turns out it was possible to get uglier!  I still painted all of the edges so I could at least have something to show for the day, but Brian ended up having to texture over it, as it turns out the only way to save the wall at this point was to re-texture the whole thing!  So maybe in the next few months I'll get up the energy to FINALLY repaint it!

Clara helped me tape it off…it was so cute how she was really trying!

IMG_6466 

One of my holes…

IMG_6467 

Maybe the next picture of it will be a gray bathroom???

We went to Dave Ramsey's "Total Money Makeover" with the rest of IBC staff and a lot of its members and we are total Dave-fans now!!  We are working on getting our finances in control so that we can be good stewards of what God has given us.  Let's see if "budget" becomes a verb this time and not just a noun!  He has all of these "baby steps" to financial peace, and we're done with baby step 1 (baby emergency fund) and now we're working on baby step 2 – debt snowball (getting completely debt free). 

another sweet fell-asleep-in-the-car picture:

IMG_6468

Full blown "monkey see, monkey do" was on this month…had been building the last couple but it just seemed like EVERYTHING we did Clara wanted to do (or at least tried to do), too.  From trying to suction her own nose and wiping it on the kleenex to dipping chips in salsa to brushing her hair to putting on make-up (trying at least) to patting me on the bottom.  She LOVES to wear our shoes and puts on any pair she finds out.  She loves to hide and jump out and say "boo!"  She has the cutest little run.  It is like if Tigger had a limp…bouncy, all over the place, but not  all-the-way coordinated enough to be smooth yet.  And she just laughs and laughs or says "ahhhhhhhh!!" really loud as she runs.  She still loves dancing and especially loves going in to worship time at church.   

On to April!

    

February…Finally!

I don't even know if I remember February it was so long ago :P 

Highlights!

Here is Clara carrying around a cake pan that had stones in it…she looked so funny since it was bigger than her, but she had so much fun putting all the stones in, carrying it somewhere, then taking them out again, and REPEAT. again and again and again … :)

IMG_6218

Larr got two guitars for their Guitar Hero and we ROCKED OUT!  Here are Kari and Larr being awesome…

IMG_6219

Clara turns around and backs up and down any kind of decline/step…only she allows about 4 feet of clearance on the decline and crawls all the way back…here she is coming off the back patio…

IMG_6228

Success!

IMG_6232

Clara and Brian like to go on "bucket walks" in the woods where they find neat and interesting things along the way and put them in the bucket and then bring them back home. 

IMG_6234

IMG_6236

but, being Clara, it isn't long before the bucket is somewhere else…!

IMG_6240

IMG_6241

Yay Superbowl!!  (we're ready for the 3D half-time!)

(see if you can find the flasher in this photo)

IMG_6244

Clara spent the weekend with Mimi and Papi while we went to the Family Life Marriage Conference.  It was an AWESOME weekend for Brian and I to talk about our marriage and help us stay on the right track.  I HIGHLY recommend this marriage conference!!  Our marriage has been immensely blessed by the three times we've gone.  And I was reminded what a amazing, wonderful gift God gave me in my dear Brian. :) 

At the Gaylord (where the conference was)

IMG_6256

Our friends Brian and Suzanne went, too!

IMG_6264 

It was Valentine's Weekend, and Brian and I always make each other gifts for Valentine's Day.  I made him a CD of "Songs of Us" from the last year as well as a huge framed photo collage of our first 5 years.  It was so fun to look back at all the photos from five years!  Brian made me a framed photo collage, too, but of a different kind.  He took one big photo of us and it was created using lots of little photos of us – all the memories that make us up :) I need to get a photo of it up because I know that is a terrible explanation! 

Clara also had a great time at Mimi and Papi's!  She went exploring all over the land I explored when I was growing up.  They showed her their garden and she got to swing.  They played with her constantly; it was like paradise for her!  They took lots of great pictures and it was hard to pick favorites so here you go :)

IMG_2663 

IMG_2667

IMG_2647

IMG_2689 

IMG_2674 

IMG_2679

Papi teaching Clara how to garden

IMG_2693

in the compost stalls he just built

IMG_2691

IMG_2719 

IMG_2724 

IMG_2725 

IMG_2744

I love this picture!

IMG_2746

Kris and I played in this cart for hours and hours and hours (it was a fort, a boat, a cabin in the woods, among many other things)…it is neat to see Clara playing in it now :)

IMG_2750

Clara putting a pansy behind her ear

IMG_2759

Thanks for taking such good care of her! 

Clara and I both got sick…

IMG_6273 

Playing with Nathan…

IMG_6282 

Giving Drew a Valentine's Card

IMG_6283

The next weekend we went to a park in Dallas to play – but it was a lot windier than we had been expecting!

IMG_6290 

IMG_6291 

IMG_6295 

watching the ducks!

IMG_6297 

this picture of brian cracks me up because it catches him at a funny angle…I guess we'll see if he really reads my posts or not! 😀

IMG_6311 

IMG_6333

Clara was FEARLESS around these birds…not sure what the heck they were, but they were also fearless of squealing toddlers! 

IMG_6340

She was so tired…isn't she the
cutest thing ever?!?

IMG_6345

We went to the "Garden Cafe" for lunch, where they grow a lot of the food they cook in a large garden in the back.  Very cool!  though, surprisingly skimpy on the vegetarian options! 😛

IMG_6348

just call him Bugs Bunny…

IMG_6350

On the way home, we realized we were pretty near former President George W. Bush's new home in Dallas, so we decided to drive by and see what we could see!  He lives at the end of a cul-de-sac in Preston Hollow and there was a Dallas Police Car and a Secret Service dude (the whole black suit, earpiece, full bit) at the end of the street with a blockade…so we decided we probably ought to cruise on by :)  but we cruised by three times just trying to see something!  On our way out and back to the main road, guess what is pulling onto the street just as we're coming off of it?  The presidential motorcade!!  5 black SUVs with darkly tinted windows, with a DPD escort!  It was so cool!!  we whipped around and followed it.  We couldn't see Bush but just knowing we were that close to him was pretty cool!  They blocked the oncoming traffic with one of the SUVs and went down the street and onto the cul-de-sac road.

putting on Dad's hat…

IMG_6355 

IMG_6357

Our Children's Ministry staff had a fun day out together!  We went to….

IMG_6380 

the Fort Worth Stockyards!!  all these years in Texas and I'd never even seen a real cattle drive down a main street.  well, there you go!

It was a great time (as long as you weren't downwind) with lots of good bonding! 

IMG_6368 

(L to R: Ramona, Melissa, Michelle, Melissa, Me, Tammy, Becky, Michael (throwing the big F W), Gary, Michelle, Adrienne, Diana)

Diana lost in the Cattle Run Maze!  I'll admit it…I cheated. :)

IMG_6372 

Children's Ministry knows what to do with gold stars!

IMG_6375 

We got chocolate with ants in it.  I didn't eat them…you know, because I'm a vegetarian 😉

IMG_6376

classic.

IMG_6367 

Clara wondering why she isn't asleep yet (I'm stopped at a light; don't worry)…

IMG_6386

Free Pancakes at IHOP on Fat Tuesday – new family tradition!

IMG_6392 

It has become a mommy-daughter tradition that I take Clara by a playground on our way home from church/preschool on Thursdays.  It's some great time outside in the sun before we go home and she takes a nap and I keep working.  We like the new tradition :)

IMG_6394

this day, we ran into Suzanne and Helen Kate. yay!  I tried FOREVER to get a picture of them together, but this was the best I got! 😛

IMG_6398 

Playing in Nathan's bed…

IMG_6408

Clara had her 15 month check up and it went great!  She was 28 lbs. and almost 30 inches. 

let's go into March!

IMG_6409