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:

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before long she was petting away!

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She kept saying "Oooooh!" and pointing

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

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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! 

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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!)

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

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Aunt Chris is so much fun!

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Me with my sweet niece and the other littlest Rhea…

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

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they're such cute little buddies…

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Guess who got sick…again?

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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 

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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!

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Checking out the fish…

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

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

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Cheese!!  Our little 17 month old!

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

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Someone just found the water fountain!

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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! 

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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! 

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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!

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Clara and her Dadly love reading together :)

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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! 

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Mimi wants a kiss, Clara wants the hiking stick…

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the best gift of all!

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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….

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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)! 

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

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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!). 

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Clara likes to push her stroller… :)

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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!

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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 :)   

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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. 

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we have fun together. :)

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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. 

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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!

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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!! 

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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. 

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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:

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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!

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

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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!"

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

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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!

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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!

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One of my holes…

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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:

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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 … :)

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

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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…

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Success!

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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. 

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

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

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

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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)

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Our friends Brian and Suzanne went, too!

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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 :)

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Papi teaching Clara how to garden

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in the compost stalls he just built

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I love this picture!

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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 :)

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Clara putting a pansy behind her ear

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Thanks for taking such good care of her! 

Clara and I both got sick…

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Playing with Nathan…

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Giving Drew a Valentine's Card

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

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watching the ducks!

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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! 😀

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

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

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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! 😛

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just call him Bugs Bunny…

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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…

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

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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! 

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(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. :)

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

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

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classic.

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

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

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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 :)

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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! 😛

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Playing in Nathan's bed…

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

let's go into March!

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Las Vegas

We went to Las Vegas with our homegroup in the middle of January.  It was a super fun trip to a place like no other I've ever been! 

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In front of our hotel, The Paris

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Street Art…this guy was amazing with spray paint!  but nothing matches grown adults walking around with yard long margaritas hanging from their necks, which we also saw plenty of!

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we walked through all of the casinos and hotels – just a WONDER to see; so much beauty and creativity and oppulence!  Here we are in the Venetian…

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the Wynn

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golden cow…how appropriate

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the first winnings!!!  130$ on a horse race! 

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Outside Treasure Island, watching The Sirens show

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Revolution Bar outside the Beatles show…

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back in the Venetian…

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dinner at the Trevi- great Italian and we really felt like we were sitting in a piazza in Rome!

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playing my first nickel slot…I didn't win anything…

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but Gene sure did!! He turned 60 cents into 25 dollars – wow!

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glass flowers on the ceiling in the Bellagio

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watching the water fountain show in front of the Bellagio…I wondered what the big deal was…and then I saw WHAT THE BIG DEAL WAS – wow!!  it was really cool!

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in front of our hotel

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eating in New York, New York

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found a slot machine for my girl!

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in front of the Luxor

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playing poker – ok, I'm just watching (much to the chagrin of the very not nice poker dealer who hated my guts), and they're playing.  they played lots and lots of lots of poker while we were there!

Continue reading Las Vegas

January

On New Year's Eve, Clara woke up with a 103.5 fever – talk about FREAKING ME OUT!  It was the first time she had a fever/gotten sick since her hospital visit, so you can imagine how I felt!  After taking a few deep breaths and hugging my baby girl tight, I settled down and called the doctor, and then called Brian.  We took her in and she had a double ear infection.  We picked up some antibiotics and canceled our New Year's party plans, and got ready for a family night :)  I still wanted it to be a party, so we took out the new year's hats, champagne, made calzones and rented West Wing for a movie marathon. 

Then we rang in 2009!!

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We both had New Year's Day off and Clara was feeling MUCH better, so we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and go to the Dallas Zoo! 

We looooooooved the Dallas Zoo!  We got to see lots of different animals (whoa!  had no idea that is what a real anteater looks like! :O) and enjoyed the day together so much.  Clara was even noticing the animals and pointing and laughing!

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See the big gorilla behind us??

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We got to check his brother out up close!  Clara kept making her piggy face and noise (she always does this to animals…cats, squirrels, birds, dogs, and apparently gorillas…).

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Here Clara is sitting the skull of an elephant – man, they're big!

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Clara wants to show you the giant aquarium that was pretty cool…

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Just call Brian "The Birdman"…

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They LOVED him!  Even with the seed stick they would barely come to me, but he had 3 or 4 of them on him at a time!  Clara alternated between being intrigued by them and being totally freaked out by them.  I kinda related to that.

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It's easy to miss the second bird in this pic- look again…

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Here is to a great 2009!

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The antibiotics did a number on Clara's system and let's just say I got tired of changing, scrubbing and washing her clothes and everything else she was near…  so here is an environmental tribute to "Reuse" with plastic grocery sacks :)

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First Saturdays at the Nasher Sculpture Center are free and they have lots of activities for kids (plus you don't feel bad taking a kid into a quiet art gallery…because there are lots of other not-quiet kids running around ;)).  It was so cool!!  We definitely want to go back.  A  lot of the activities were too old for Clara but it was still neat to take her to her first museum!  We just want that to be a part of the fabric of her life for as long as she can remember :) 

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She REALLY wanted to play in the fountain!

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I'm talking REALLY wanted to play in the fountain!

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walking through a sculpture…

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We went to the wedding of a friend and co-worker, Michael to his beautiful bride Jessica.  It was a beautiful, touching, super-fun wedding. 

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One of the best parts, though, was that our dear friends the O'Reilly's were in from Nevada!  We got to spend some special time with them while they were in town, and Brian especially loved the complete "thoseawake" breakfast!!  (B has breakfast every Tuesday morning at 6 a.m. with a group of guys and they discuss what they're reading and thinking)

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Clarabean…14 months

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IBC Children's Staff Holiday party at Gary's house – lots of fun!

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About a week after Clara started taking the antibiotic amoxycillin she had an allergic reaction to it.  (it is normal for there to be that kind of delay) But because it HAD been awhile and I wasn't thinking about the medicine I flipped out when I went to wake her up and her poor little body was covered in red dots!  I thought she might have the measles or some other crazy kind of disease…  I took her in to the doctor and she realized it was an allergic reaction.  The dots were getting bigger and becoming hives that covered her whole body.  She was obviously pretty miserable for a few days as it worked it's way out of her system but it didn't itch, which I was SO grateful for. 

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They call themselves The Fail Train….maybe one day appearing at a living room near you.

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Barker bought Guitar Hero for the Park's Wii…and we've been rockin' ever since!!  One weekend they let us borrow it and I must say…we can play a mean "Float On". 😉

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Eric and Kristi came over and rocked out, too!

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vonTrapp family singers have nothing on us…

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Happy 29th Birthday Brian!!!

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Aunt Krissy and Uncle E watched Clara while I took Brian out for this birthday.  We went to Willhoite's – a very cool, laid back bar on Main Street, for dinner, and then we went and played a few games at Main Event. 

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and back to the house for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake (he thought it couldn't be done…but I did it!  the PERFECT cake for Brian!), wine and gifts, including an American Flag flown on that day at the Capitol in DC (that we will get in the mail a few weeks later), Sim City 4, new Converse shoes, Wendell Berry audio interviews, and Chessmaster. plus, lots of hugs and kisses from Clara :)  

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The next morning Brian left for Vegas for a work convention, and that weekend I and the rest of our homegroup flew up to join him.  I'll make a separate post for that.  Viva Las Vegas! 

The next week was HUGE…the inauguration of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

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Brian's take:

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So there was the celebration on election night, and even then Obama emphasized that the hard part was only just beginning.

"This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the
chance for us to make that change."

And in keeping with the trend of the previous year, two years, four, eight (depending on your perspective), each day's news only reminded us that things were continuing to get worse. With every day that passed between the election and the inauguration, the new President's job was going to be that much more difficult.

But, on the morning of the inauguration, the seriousness of our situation, the real possibility that our country has been so dramatically derailed that recovery could be a generation away; instead of desaturating this moment in history to seem like nothing more than fluffy, cynical theater, the crisis did just the opposite and focused the gravity of the world on that podium and on those words.

At work, we rolled in a TV with rabbit ears and watched the inauguration in the conference room, together. The room was 6-3 for McCain, but you wouldn't have known it. Eyes welled, heads nodded. It's obvious enough that this peaceful transition of power every four or eight years is one of the things that affirms the Constitution's genius and makes us blessed to be citizens in this place and time. But, a wider view takes it from being just an American accomplishment of shifting party control in the midst of turmoil without the need for tanks or assault rifles, to a shining affirmation of Spirit and the complex reality that hope is more powerful than fear.

As divided as this country is, and as serious as our threats are, it matters that the single most powerful individual in our government can inspire people through hope and imagination. An antelope, a rabbit, even a field mouse can be motivated to action by fear. But it takes something different to swell that distinctively (non)human thing within us that is capable of being inspired to dream colorful dreams. Footnote: take a look at the last paragraph of Thoreau's "Higher Laws".

It's worth noting that the final line of the U.S. Declaration of Independence is, "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the
protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our
Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." and not, "We really believe in this and are gonna die for it, too."

Given our situation and what will be needed to correct it, the right man for the job at this place, in this time, won in November. Regardless of whether or not someone agreed with President Bush's objectives themselves, what has to be admitted is that he failed to successfully execute them. Again, I'm not saying it must be admitted that the objectives were wrong, but the agenda has failed, and it comes down to poor leadership because of President Bush's inability to inspire people who do not already agree with him. This is a weakness that Barack Obama does not struggle with, his ability to connect with people is over-the-top obvious. And hero that he is, more courageous a man than 99.9% of us will ever be, I think Sen. McCain's difficulty in staying focused and on message would have led to an even shorter honeymoon with the American public and even more gridlock with Congress.

On top of it all, it was a great day to be a Democrat, because in Texas, our guy or gal just does not win that often (but that's changing, especially in the
metroplex thanks to ridiculously committed community organizers with plenty of responsibilities like our friend, Kathleen, who will be a legislator one day).

As the Senator officially became the President, "Change We Can Believe In" went from being a slogan to a concrete opportunity, and I walked out of that conference room with an extra spring in my step.

A look back at our Barack-related posts:

  • July '06 – One in the Bank For My Goal of Shaking a Prez' Hand
  • Oct '06 – "Amen" to the Cover of Time
  • Jan '08 – Obama Wins Iowa
  • Feb '08 – Obama Comes to Dallas

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The other big thing that happened that day is….I dyed my hair!!  ok, probably not NEAR as big of a deal, but monumental for me nonetheless, AND all about change as well!

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Clara had a great month, too!  Every morning she has a banana (ok ok, I normally let her have 2, but only if she has had a bowl (adult serving) of oatmeal already), and then she starts to play with the peel…so I would always say, "ooo yucky, trash" and take it from her and walk over to the trashcan and throw it away.  Well, one morning we were in the living room and she finished her banana, and (without any prompting from me) she stood up and walked into the kitchen and threw it away.  I wish I could have seen my face!  I was astounded!  It was like, in that moment, she became a HUMAN BEING to me!  I know it sounds silly now, but it was truly staggering.  She had seen me do something, and so she did it, too.  It was pretty convicting – how many times has she seen me pray?  worship?  hug Brian? So I started testing it with other things…handing her a paper towel, a wrapper, and other pieces of trash and said, "trash" and off she went…this could come in handy!  :)  I've tried to train her on "remote" now to get the TV remote and bring it to me but she is NOT catching on to that one ;)  And she does this in whatever room we're in – she finds the trashcan and throws away whatever we've given her.  I think we got too excited about it though, (clapping and saying "yay Clara!") because we've been finding NON-trash items in there…socks, books, anything from our nightstands… uh oh! 

Every Sunday we have a large group worship time for our preschoolers with creative storytelling, high-energy music/worship, puppets, singing and prayer.  Afterwards, we bring in the older nursery classes for a short music/pupet time (they have the story in their rooms).  Well, Clara came for the first time!  This just about made my heart burst!  It was so special and meaningful.  Of course, at this age the main point is that they feel comfortable in that room and are exposed to corporate worship and begin to understand that God made them and how much He loves them and wants to be their friend forever.  We know it will be a few years before they respond back with words and can reason out the teaching, but even at 1 they can respond to God's love and experience Him in a simple way (if you know me at all you know this is something I am very passionate about) (afterall, see: banana peel trash story) and more than anything, this is when laying the foundation to know and love God starts!  So anyway…all to say we don't have high expectations of them doing all of the motions or singing all of the words or even staring at the stage the whole time – they are welcome to wander and dance around, and we trust that they are being immersed in the things of Christ!  and for the first few months most of them do just stand or sit there, too overwhelmed by everything to do much.  But…there Clara Jane was, raising her little arms up and swaying back and forth!  And then she was bouncing, and then she was stomping her feet.  That girl just LOVES to dance.  Every one of her teachers when we pick her up (and she has many different teachers over the course of a week) says, "Wow, that little girl loves to dance.  We put music on and she just starts moving!"    So that has been neat to see that part of her little personality coming out – and in a more general sense, just so neat to watch her personality develop, period.  She is fearless, and full of laughter, and determined.  She will try 100 times to do something before getting frustrated or giving up. 

She loves climbing, especially this month climbing onto the couch and sitting with us.  She began coloring and will sit for a long time just scribbling and trying different colors.  She hasn't quite gotten the hang of coloring ONLY on her coloring pages though ;)  She loves shoes and will bring you pair after pair to put on – both of hers and of ours!  This, I think, she definitely got from Brian.  We always give her "zerberts" (where you blow on her tummy and it makes a funny sound) and she started giving them to us, too!  it is too cute!  She says several words – all of them expressions!  (what does this mean???)  They are "WHOA!!" (and she says it with a lot of "expression"), "Uh-oh", "Boo!!" (when she is playing peak-a-boo or hiding behind a curtain), and (of course and unfortunately) "NO".  She also says "ba" for her beloved bananas. 

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February, here we come!

Merry Christmas, Part 2

Since we were out of town on the official Christmas Day, we got to celebrate Christmas with the Rhea side of the family a few weeks later! 

We did something new this year and it was a huge hit!  We had a Christmas breakfast complete with pancakes, sausage (veggie and real ;)), and orange juice – YUM!  Larry kept the grill going and the pancakes coming.  Then we exchanged gifts and opened presents and just enjoyed being together.  Our camera's battery was dead that day so thankfully Denise has shared all these great photos with us – Thanks Mamaw! 

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Pancakes for everyone!

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Clara and Sophie had a BALL hiding behind the curtain…Clara was just following Soph and Aidan around trying to do everything they were doing!

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I think this picture is SO cute…

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Mamaw made – yes, MADE (wow!!) – matching outfits for the kids….they were sooooooooooooo cute!!!  We tried to get a pic of the three of them but you can imagine how that goes with 3 under 5… 

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Opening presents…we were all so blessed!!

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Clara giving a gift to Sophie…or stealing one…can't really tell and both equally likely 😉

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Aunt Kari excited about the DVDs we gave her…

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Aidan is GOOD at puzzles -WHOA! 

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the cousins playing together :)

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Great-Grandma Rhea and Great-Mema Tallant…the best!!

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Merry Christmas!!