At the end of October/beginning of November we visited our dear friends the O’Reilly’s in Reno!  They had moved to Reno about a year and half prior in order for Shaun to attend graduate school there.  We had an awesome time, enjoying getting to be with them, taking in BEAUTIFUL sights and falling in love with Reno! (and all without even visiting the inside of a casino…can you imagine?!)

At an overlook on the way from the airport:


The Truckee River winding it’s way through downtown Reno…


very cool outdoor art installation…


Heck, yeah!


That night we made awesome vegetarian chili (in spite of my marked inability to successfully use their super cool ergonomic can opener) and Kyndra made the best biscuits I’ve ever had in my life while we handed out candy to trick or treaters at the door (including some really bizarre/scary adult trick or treaters with large backpacks – and you just don’t go around getting stingy with candy in the face of that).  And the sweetest part…Kyndra made an amazing cake for my birthday!!  What i had really wanted for my 30th birthday was a trip somewhere, so this was my “birthday trip”!  The cake was UNREAL and I was so touched!!


After a morning walk to get coffee, we saw Shaun’s school! beautiful campus!


We had breakfast at a cool spot in a little mountain town on our way to Lake Tahoe.  As you probably know if you know me at all, I drink a LOT of water.  Like, I can easily go through 64 oz. in any given meal, and usually several of those in between meals as well.  I tend to drive waiters crazy because they’re always having to refill my glass and I feel really bad about that!  However, this restaurant – this place – had it figured out!!!  Brian ordered water and coffee and I just ordered water…he got basically a shot glass, and I got basically a pail.  It cracked us up (esp since that is about how much water Brian drinks in a day). I was soooooo happy!


Squaw Valley…site of the 1978 Winter Olympics.  We hoped this was a much smaler sized replica of the torch…otherwise, come on Squaw!



overlooking Emerald Bay on Lake Tahoe…which the pics do no justice to — it truly was “emerald” and all kinds of beautiful greens and blues…


Hiking down to the lake…beautiful yellow aspens and gigantic evergreens everywhere…


Down by the bay!


You know Brian…he dreams of swimming in alpine lakes…and while this one isn’t “alpine,” I would argue the water in november has to qualify it for something along those lines! eek!





treehugger :)


After the awesome hike (with an arduous hike back up, that made me seriously wonder why anyone goes down into the Grand Canyon) we continued driving around the lake and just taking in its changing beauty, listening to great music and having great talks.  We had lunch at a GREAT vegetarian restaurant (it is so fun to travel with other vegs), had drinks at a place overlooking the lake and then caught sunset on a beach.  It was getting chilly, the yoga people were making
weird barking noises and stars were beginning to twinkle.  we sat on a bench just watching the lake change and feeling the cold settle in…it was magical.

(I love how obviously tickled Brian is in this picture)



We headed back to Reno and dinner at a great local pizza place along with a very funny game of Apples to Apples…


Brian tried not to take the cards he was good at winning personally….


next day – beautiful hike through some valley… yup, that’s snow!


the girls…


overlooking a misty lake Tahoe…


California!!!  (half the lake is in CA…which made for a great discussion about the “state line” (that’s for you, Brian ;))


(we’re “hanging 10″ just in case you’re wondering what that awesome gesture is we’re making)

And then back to Nevada!  doing the most “gambling”, ironically, that we did the whole visit…


walking along the lake again…great little walk


We drove out to the site of the Donner Party tragedy.  There was a great little museum and it was so intersting to learn all the history of that event as well as about life during that time…wow, so much respect.  I would so not have made it as a pioneer!  This stone behind me actually made one of the four walls of one of the 3 cabins that people lived out the winter in.


great little guided nature walk…


that night we found a great little campsite for a fire alongside the Truckee River…


The next day…packing up….booo hooooo :(

I can’t believe this is the only shot we got of their super cute house.  They have such incredible taste and we were taking all kinds of mental notes! It was such a sweet and warm home and Shaun and Kyndra were such kind, gracious and generous hosts.


But before we had to be at the airport, we picked up incredible sandwiches from Rubicon deli (once again, perfect for vegetarians!  seriously loving Nevada by this point) and headed to Pyramid Lake.  This was north, rather than south, which made for some different and beautiful scenery.  Instead of the mountains, greens and huge trees we found near Lake Tahoe, we were in the middle of the tans, beiges, and browns of the dessert, and in the middle of no where was a super deep, turquiose lake!  This lake was ANCIENT and had neat history.  We visited a museum that talked about the Native Americans who made their life around there for centuries as well as currently…very cool.


picnic on the beach!






Brian doing no justice to “the shaun”



thanks for a great visit, O’s and Reno!  Hope to see you again really soon!



I can't remember why she was so tired or naked, but isn't she darling?


After a few big weekends (work events the prior two) we were ready for some family time away, so we spent a day hiking in Bob Sandlin State Park (about 20 minutes from
the lakehouse).  It was such a beautiful fall day…we were teaching
Clara colors using leaves, flowers and sky :)

Here we are at Mamaw and Papaw's house the following weekend enjoying some good East Texas four-wheelin'!  We went in to meet Brian's second cousin, 3 times removed (or something like that).  They were visiting from California and were very nice! 



Throwing rocks into the pond!


One Saturday, we had "KidVenture" – a time for families and small group leaders to hang out together outside of church on Sunday.  We painted pumpkins in a nearby park.  It was a great day!



We took a trip to the Hall Pumpkin Farm in Grapevine:

riding a tractor:


in the hay house:


little cowgirl



We had a very wet October, but it was beautiful weather when it wasn't raining.  Lot of days with the windows left open!  

Brian got to hear Newt Gingrich speak at the FW Club…I think it reminded him why he voted for and is proud of Barack Obama 😉

We paid off Brian's car, making us almost completely debt free!! 
(almost because we still have a small loan on the a/c we had to replace last summer; big loan on the
house) What a GREAT feeling to get that deed in the mail!!  thanks, Dave Ramsey!

We decided to find out if we were having a boy or girl this time around…I just REALLY wanted to know and while Brian still wanted a "delivery surprise," he VERY generously and kindly agreed to let us find out.  I had the doctor write it down on a folded piece of paper and it took every ounce of self control I had not to open it.  I gave it to my mom, who had very kindly agreed to bake us a cake either pink or blue and cover it in icing so we couldn't tell the color…then we would cut into it together that night.  

And when we cut into it….we saw….the color pink!!!  AND FREAKED OUT!!!!  We were soooooo excited!!!!!  We both would have been so happy with a boy, but we really wanted a girl.  Kristi and Dad were there, too, and they were equally ecstatic!  It was just the greatest feeling and still a great surprise – even if didn't happen at her birth.  Here is a pic of the cake along with the paper from Dr. New that very clearly says, "Girl!" 

I had really been thinking it must be a boy because my pregnancy has been SO different.  I have definitely been sick/naseaus, just not NEAR as constantly or much as I was with Clara.  I have a miracle drug- zofran- that really helps a lot. 


Brian joined a Tennis League for the fall and had a ton of fun (he enjoys anything that involves sports and competition).  Clara and I enjoyed coming to some of his matches and cheering him on.  He was battling it out for first place in the league below – and he won!  It was such an intense game…I was honestly kind of amazed.  this picture was taken right before he literally did a frontward somersault across the court.  I didn't use a flash (I didn't want to embarass him; he had already told me I couldn't bring "Go Brian!" signs) so it isn't a great pic! 


He ended up getting third in his division, which meant he made the playoffs!  Especially considering it was his first time playing that was awesome.  He got knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, which just gives him a LOT of fuel for the spring league ;)  Now let's hope that Clara inherits his athletic abilities and not mine!

Clara rocking out:


Like Daddy, like daughter…


I was a witness in a custody trial for some good friends and IBC'ers who were fighting to keep custody of the little girl they had fostered for the first 18 months of her life, before being returned to her bio parents that had proven time and time again dangerous, incapable of making safe and wise decisions and positive on drug tests.  The whole experience was incredibly eye opening and a real test of faith.  In the end, Rylie was left with her biological parents (as Brian put it, "It's like it has to be 'too late' before they can do anything"); completely devastating.  That is all I'm going to say about that.  

At the end of October, we visited our dear friends the O'Reilly's, who had moved to Reno.


(more on that in it's own post!)

Clara spent time with her grandparents while we were in Reno.  Here she is at Mimi and Papi's house – learning her alphabet!






Clara also had fun at Mamaw and Papaw's!

She was there for Halloween and got to go trick or treating with Sophie and Aidan (how cute are they?!):


At Grandma Rhea's:


Trick or Treat, Mema!


Clara had some blue candy- can you tell??


What a fun night!


Denise took some sweet phot
os of Clara while she was there…