Saturday, September 16, 2017

It's Saturday morning and Brian is lying next to me trying to get a little more snoozing in. He and I had planned to go to Georgetown to run the Vern's 5K this morning, but we backed out. It's been a full week and it feels good to lie around.

I just finished my third week of school. I'm enjoying this semester so much more than the previous. My classes are interesting and I'm not taking any math - Yay! Margaret is home two days a week since two of her classes are online, so we spread out our school work and study together on Mondays and Wednesdays. She is gone to class all day Tuesdays and Thursdays, and is home all day on Friday when I go in for classes. She watches Olive for me and gets Hazel to and from school. I wish every semester could work out just like this one is, but I know it just can't and won't.

Margaret has taken on several regular nannying jobs in the neighborhood. These have turned out to be much better than her restaurant job as the pay is better, they're closer, and she's able to study while she works. The downside is that she no longer takes or picks up Sam from work as they no longer work together.

Sam has been on crutches or in a boot for the past month recovering from a stress fracture. He ran the first XC meet of the season and was the fastest finisher of all the runners there. The next day he started hobbling. By the next weekend he was in so much pain he struggled to even finish the race. He's been off of running this month and has been going to a therapist. He's continued to work out aggressively every day to stay in shape so that he'll be reading when he gets the go ahead to run again. He rides 20-30 miles every morning on the bike, aqua jogs in the pool every night for 45 minutes to an hour, and stretches and foam rolls for an hour. It may sound over-the-top, but he really wants to stay in shape so he doesn't lose anything he's worked so hard for over the past year. He still has his eye on a running scholarship, and this is the year schools will start talking.

I've had a colitis flare up this year and finally scheduled a much needed colonoscopy. Not looking forward to that two day prep, but it will be good to know if I've got anything going on in there. The worst part for me is not getting to eat. I don't like to not eat.

Brian's sister and husband's home was flooded in Hurricane Harvey last month. They're living with friends for now until they can get the house livable again. They had to throw out almost everything that was in their downstairs. We went down to help that over Labor Day weekend. It was both very sad, but very encouraging - so many people loving their neighbor as themselves.

Well, I have two little ladies wanting me to fix breakfast - I've promised biscuits and sausage - so I must cut this short.
August 2017

I just got back from taking the little girls and Sam to Menchie's for frozen yogurt. Too bad, so sad for the others who happened to be out of the house at the time and missed out. Our house is like Grand Central. I never know who will be around at what time on what day. The other night it was John, Hazel, Olive, and me sitting down together for dinner. Last night it was everyone but John and William. That should change some after school starts and people stop working as much or gallivanting the neighborhood all hours of the summer days.

I'm all done with school for the summer. I have a week and a half to enjoy the break before the new semester starts. I'm taking three classes: US history, psychology, and english comp. Two of the classes are online, and the classroom one is just once a week, so I should be available for Olive and not miss many chances to be up at Hazel's school as needed.

We went to Port Aransas a week or so ago. Thomas arranged for all of us to be in a large house in a nice neighborhood with beach access. Everyone agreed that it was one of the best beach trips that the family has taken together. I spent hours and hours in the water and was kind of emotional about leaving. Not sure what came over me to make me like that.

A few weeks ago we met Brian's family at Schlitterbahn for the day and then spent the night at their place which isn't too far from the park. Hazel and Olive were real troopers and rode anything we put them on. We rarely saw the older kids the entire day.

Margaret has decided to focus on babysitting instead of a restaurant job. She posted her info on the neighborhood babysitting site and has been booked solid. Definitely better money than she was making at the restaurant and more enjoyable for her. She's so fun and imaginative and all the kids just love her. She is just an amazing girl! She may look like she's 14, but she takes control and tackles challenges like someone much older than her age of 18. She's always been an old soul with childlike enthusiasm. She's never been silly about boys like I was. She isn't out looking for someone to marry. She has places to go and things to do. Yeah, she wants to marry and have children eventually, but there are more important things to do in the meantime.

Samuel has his first cross country meet tomorrow morning. Without bragging or exaggerating, I can say that he is one of the fastest boys in all LISD and our entire UIL district. We're excited to see how the season plays out. This is the year he needs to start looking at colleges. He would very much like to run in college and his times already could get him into division 2 schools, possible even division 1. He needs to work on staying on top of his academics though. He wants to be a psychologist or something along the line of counseling. We'll see.

William has been hitting it hard with football this summer. He's determined to do well, not just in football, but also in academics. He signed up for all AP and preAP classes and keeps telling us how motivated he is. He's a smart kid and was an incredible student until half way through 6th grade when he bottom fell out. Puberty hit him hard. He started breaking things - phones, computers, using racial slurs towards kids at school, bullying, texting vulgar things on his newly acquired phone, charging nearly $2K worth of Madden football related things to our credit card, etc, etc. As abruptly as they started, the behaviors subsided. He's matured so much the past 9 months. One summer night he came in really late. We were frustrated with him once again not getting home by the time he said he would. To back up a bit, remember, he was the kid who didn't speak for four years of school. He was too shy to befriend anyone. Fast forward to this year. He is all over the neighborhood dropping his calling card from Bella Mar to Canyon Glen (two sub-divisions within our city-size neighborhood). So he comes in late and starts enthusiastically talking about a discourse that he and several other 8th grade boys had had been having for hours over theology. They were from different back grounds and denominations sitting at the park discussing what they believe about the Gospel.

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." 3 John 1:4

I started this blog post nearly a month ago and am just now getting back to it to publish it. Oy!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

 July 2017

A month and a half has passed since I last blogged. I get so busy living that I forget to write about it. Then something reminds me: a great memoir I'm reading that inspires me to write my own story, a friend posting on her blog after a long hiatus, or finding an old journal of mine stuffed away in a box in my closet.

I'm sitting in Starbucks at the neighborhood Target. I dropped William off for Strength and Conditioning this morning and decided to spend the next couple of hours before class studying. Target is a distracting place to study. I keep thinking I need to go check out the hair products, or see if they've put those throw pillows on clearance yet. I have midterms this week. I'm only taking two classes this summer. With all our traveling I didn't think it was good to take the 5 week biology class. I really didn't want to take that class anyways. It was just a refresher course that wouldn't count for anything and felt like a waste of time, money, and energy.

Since I last blogged Margaret graduated high school (!), William graduated middle school, we took a trip to New York with the older four kids, Hazel learned to swim on her own, Olive potty trained herself, we took a week long camping trip to the Davis Mountains with both sides of our extended family, I got a new library card (woohoo!), and there were many small and large blessings from heaven that I do not have the time to chronicle here.

We hosted a big graduation party for Margaret and Claire. Everyone chipped in to make it special for them. I made a 600 photo slide show to play at the party, and I think I cried every time I worked on it in the weeks leading up to the party. Those girls are precious. We watched Claire accept her diploma on Friday, June 2, and then Margaret on Saturday, June 3. Brian and I whooped and hollered for all the seniors we knew personally in the Viper Class of 2017. That was a special class. We came home to a house full of food leftover from the party and scrambled to clean up and pack for our trip to New York early the next morning. Margaret left for Project Grad with her friends, and the rest of us went to bed for a few hours sleep before getting up at 2:30 am. We picked up Margaret at Dave & Busters where Project Grad was held around 4 am. and headed to the airport. After such a crazy, hectic last month, we kept joking about how we were headed to New York City to "get away from it all".

The trip was just what we needed. It's great to have kids that are at the age you can enjoy taking adventures with them. It's no longer stressful, and they are really fun to be with. New York was beautiful as ever. I'm Texan through and through, but there's a part of my heart that belongs to New York City. I think heaven will be something like NYC, all the different colors, languages, and beautiful people God made all living together.

As mentioned above, we just got back from a week long camping trip to the Davis Mountains. Brian bought a mansion of a tent for us, and he and I enjoyed having a  "room" all to ourselves with the little girls in the next door on the other side of the nylon partition. It was like that old movie It Happened One Night. The rest of the kids were divided up among the 9 other tents our group set up. We had far too many tents for the number of people in our group, which wasn't much of a problem until it started raining and we had to rush and zip up every tent window and door. Or if we had happened to be away when it down poured, which happened several times, we had to go tent to tent and pull out all the wet things and hang them out to dry.
Despite the rain, the trip was amazing. West Texas is so barren and harsh, but at the same time so beautiful. The little town of Fort Davis does the Fourth of July week in a big way. We all joined the throngs lining the main street on July 1st when they had the parade. I still don't know where all the people came from as the town has a population of about 1200. There were probably 5 or 6 thousand in town that day wandering through the craft and food booths surrounding the courthouse, watching the Cowboy Hypnotist do his thing, drinking cocktails in the garden behind the Limpia Hotel, touring the fort, or eating at the handful of cafes in town
We did a lot of hiking, both in the Davis Mountains state park, as well as at Big Bend where we all caravaned one of the days. We split into two groups, one group hiking the Window Trail, and the other, more adventurous ones opting for the Emory Peak trail. Every since we planned this trip I had hoped to get to hike to Emory. It's where Brian proposed to me 20 years ago last April 2, and it would mean a lot to me to make the trek this year. It worked out that we were able to make the nine+ mile hike, us along with about 6 teenagers and Olive who Brian carried in the Ergo. I've made that hike three times and no time have I seen it as pretty as it was that day. They must've had some rains recently because the dessert plants were all in bloom. When we reached the pinnacle where you have to do a bit of scaling to reach to geo marker I completely froze. I couldn't look down and couldn't move. How did Brian ever coax me up there back in 1997. I have no memory of being afraid. We just climbed right up and spent about half an hour up there taking pictures and enjoying the miles and miles of views into Mexico. But this time was different. I almost didn't climb up to the top, but Brian spoke spoke courage into me and I made it up. There was a guy at the top that we discovered was also from Austin and he was kind enough to snap some photos of us. William was the only other one from our group that climbed to the very top, the others, Olive, Margaret, Patrick, Lil' Thomas (we still call him Little Thomas even though he's now 16 and taller than most of his counsins to differentiate him from the other Thomases in the family), Samuel, Tommy, and John stayed just below.
Another day we drove over to Balmorhea to swim in the large spring fed pool. The drive there is spectacular and snakes through an area that was once part of a great-great uncle's ranch.
It's now been nearly a month since I blogged the above post. I haven't had a chance to come back and wrap it up.
The past month has been filled with all the things I love best about summer: hours and hours spent at the pool, visits to the library, late nights watching movies, playing in the sprinkler, reading books together. I've been taking two classes, but have tried to not let it interfere with our usual summer activities.
Margaret and Sam have worked most days/nights of the summer. They both work at a neighborhood restaurant, she hosting and he bussing. She'll be moving on to a different job soon, and I'll miss seeing them coming home from work together in their matching work shirts.
Margaret has decided to go into nursing, and is registered for fall classes at ACC. We will have some classes together, which is kinda cool.
Activities has started picking up around here. William has been going to strength and conditioning every morning all summer at the high school, and now he and John are in football camp in the evening. Samuel trained with his trainer, David, all summer. cross country just began their season training yesterday, so he'll be having early morning workouts every day till winter. Sam is determined to get a running scholarship and is putting in hours of running and weight training every day.
William and John will both play football this fall: William at Vandegrift and John at Canyon Ridge. I'm happy to have another season to cheer on some of my boys in my favorite game.
Hazel starts kindergarten in less than four weeks. We've talked and talked about it for so long and it's finally  almost here. That little golden haired baby of mine is starting school.
Olive doesn't have much on her agenda for this fall but to be loved on by all her people. That girl gets cuter every day! Her curly hair now hangs in ringlets around her face which is sprinkled with freckles. She is a firecracker! Not a day goes by that I don't have to tell her to stop tormenting Hazel. She knows how to push Hazel's buttons and teases her mercilessly. She's feisty and stubborn and is so much like me.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

I'm so disappointed that I've neglected to blog in ever so long! So much life has happened worth noting, or at least that I'd like to remember, but I've been too bus to stop and type it out.

Margaret went to prom a couple of weeks ago. She was lovely in her peach skirt and brocade cropped top. She chose to go with a group of girl friends instead of a date. She was asked by three different guys, but turned them down. Not sure if I should feel proud or frustrated. She had so much more fun this year than last. not that last year was bad, but this being her senior year I think she was soaking it all up, cherishing the last moments together with her classmates.

We hosted a Mother's Day get together for the family here. Everyone seemed to have a good time. Our house has become the hub for family events in recent years, and I really don't mind at all. Both Brian and I enjoy hosting. After everyone left and things calmed down, Brian took me to dinner at Napa Flats where Marg and Sam work. It made me happy to watch them working. Margaret has just moved up to serving, and Sam is a busser.

William has been playing 7 on 7 football for the past month or so, so Brian and I meet over at Vandegrift and watch his practices and games on Wednesday nights. Not terribly exciting, as it's more practice than actual games, but it's a chance for Brian and I to spend a little time together. Our times alone are sometimes hard to come by, so we take what we can get.

William turned 15 on Monday. Brian and I took him to dinner at the place of his choosing, Kome on Airport Blvd. We let him in on the surprise trip to NYC in a couple of weeks. He was excited in his own way.

We took the kids out of school early on Wednesday and drove to Houston for the U2/Lumineers concert. We got to town a few hours early, so spent a little time walking around down town and West University Place. Over dinner we told John and Samuel about our upcoming trip. John didn't believe us. To John, New York City is the greatest place on earth bar none. He knows more about it than maybe some locals. He can tell you everything you want to know about all the important buildings. our flight leaves at 6:23 on his 13th birthday. To him, this is the ultimate birthday gift.

We missed half of the Lumineers because we spent too much time admiring the houses around Rice, but caught enough to renew my appreciation for them and their talent. U2 was amazing. Indescribable. It was so worth it!

I've been working like mad to pull together Claire and Margaret's graduation party. I have one week and so much left to do!

I start school on Wednesday. Thinking of it makes me exhausted. There's so much else going on right now. It is difficult to invest much energy or thought into it.

It's that time of year when the flies come in droves to vacation at our house. I've been listening to two buzz around me head while I type this. I guess I'd better turn out the lamp so they'll leave me alone.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The girls and I sent everyone off to school and work and are trying to get stated on our day. I've been sick since Friday, which is a very long time for me to be sick and I am about to go crazy. I'm hoping this is the last day. I can usually will myself into good health, but the mind games haven't worked this time around.

I'm not sure when I last blogged, so here's a recap of the events of the last week.

William, Margaret, and Sam all had track meet on Thursday. Brian ran over to see William run at Vandegrift, but missed it. Marg and Sam was at Vista Ridge. Mama came to watch and we kept the little girls entertained for about five hours while we waited between running events. William wasn't happy with his race - 100m. I think he placed 8th. Not sure what his time was. Margaret ran varsity for both the 3200 and the 1600. The timing for the race wasn't well organized, and they still haven't released the times to Texas Mile Splits, but according to her Garmin, she ran a 12:10 two miler. I can't recall what she said she ran for the 1600. She placed fourth in both races. Sam ran both the 800m and 1600m again this week. He ran a 2 min. 800m which earned him first place, and a 4:31 1600m which was enough to win that race as well. He's been trying to break the school records in both races, but is still a second or two shy of it.

Marg and Sam worked over the weekend. We're getting used to one of both of them being gone and not able to participate in family movie and pizza night and other things like that. It was very stormy Sunday morning. Samuel was out for his long run when the tornado warnings went off. It was a nerve racking half hour while Brian tried to reach him on his phone to no avail. He drove all around Steiner looking for him. Margaret was finally able to make contact with friends that had been running with him and fount out that he'd been picked up by a friend over off Comanche Trail along Lake Travis. The rest if us hid out the tornado warning in our safe place: Hazel and Olive's playroom under the stairs.

Sunday was the twentieth anniversary of Brian asking me to be his wife. It was the best 'yes' I've ever said. We're such opposites in so many ways, but somehow we complete each other and our differences work together to make us a better union. We're truly a team. I'm glad he took a gamble on me. It still surprises me that he did. He's such a careful decision maker and doesn't jump into things. He's never been quick to commit to anything without careful research. And yet he proposed to me not even six months after our first date, and he broached the subject of marriage months before that! My eagerness to commit to him was also uncharacteristic. I was only 21 and enjoyed having boyfriends. It was fun, and I was young with more years of interesting, cute boys to meet before I ever thought of settling down. But then I was blindsided by this kind, introverted, somewhat awkward engineer. He was and is everything that I'm not: patient, quiet, calculated in his thinking, a planner, thorough, a listener. Would I do it again? Absolutely.

Yesterday I went to Bible study even though I wasn't feeling great. I am so very glad that I did! I've never been a part of a study that is so God honoring and opens up the Word to my understanding as these studies have done. I'm sad that this one will be ending soon, and I'll have to wait until fall to attend again.

William has his district track meet this evening. If he makes the top three or four he'll advance to the finals tomorrow. Margaret and Sam have their final regular season meet tomorrow, and then the district meet At Vandy next week. Sam will most likely advance to the area meet, but Margaret most likely won't as they don't allow JV to run beyond district, and she'll be running JV now that our varsity girls are back from Texas Relays.

And that's all the news for now. Off to water my house plants, all 534 of them.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The God of the Bible takes our misery and suffering so seriously that he was willing to take it on himself. 
- Timothy Keller
The last 24 hours have been filled with unimaginable sorrow fo many people close to me. I'm still processing it all. Yesterday morning my inlaws' nieghbor Waylong Malone lost his battel with cancer. We've kept up with Waylon's fight the last four or so years, ever since Ben and Linda moved to New Braunfels. We saw them just weeks ago over spring break when we were visiting my inlaws. His father wrote this yesterday - 
I'm broken. 
It was NOT supposed to end this way. We were supposed to see Waylon get healed. We were supposed to see tons of pictures of he and Morgan growing up together. Pics of them at school, at the park, just having fun being siblings. We were supposed to see pics of Waylon playing soccer, going to karate, Little League, and Cub Scouts. Then later going to middle school, high school, graduation, and prom. Even later college, finding the love of his life, and then marriage. It was NOT supposed to end this way. Not at all. 
God rest your beautiful, "tough as nails," heart and soul. Now and always will be My Littlest Hero.
I can't imagine the sorrow of losing a child. 
Later on yesterday I got news that a church bus from my inlaws' church, First Baptist New Braunfels was hit head-on on the way home from a retreat in Leakey. Thirteen of the fourteen church members on board were killed. We feel a special connection with this church as we've been there about a dozen times. There are so many sweet elderly people in this church, and Brian and I have grown to really respect and admire the pastor, Brad, a man about our age. My father in law is retiring tomorrow, and he and my mother in law might have been on the retreat had he retired in December as had been his plan initially. They lost six close friends in this accident. I'm heart broken for them! They had been planning to leave out of Galveston on a cruise this Sunday, but have canceled their trip. 
Also last night the world lost a great man of faith. Dale along with his wife, Janis, were long time missionaries and faithful servants of the Lord. Though I've not spent a whole lot of time with them in the 21 years I've known them, I've been impacted by their lives. Their son was influential in leading Brian to Christ, and was best man in our wedding. His younger brother was an usher in our wedding. Here's what Janis said about her husband - 
Well, it looks like everyone but me has expressed how they feel. I can't believe this has happened. I had 
thought he would live to 94 and I to 84 and that we still had many years together. 

The time he has been sick took much of him away from me, with him rarely being able to be himself with me. 
I've grieved the loss of my life partner for months now and know that I will continue to grieve for a long time. I 
know he's with the Lord, but I had wanted to have him with me a few more years. I've told him many times 
that he is my treasure. Our life together has been sweeter as the years went by and now I'm grateful for 
happy, very intimate memories of the only person with whom I have had oneness of purpose, heart, soul, 
mind, body, memories, years, experiences, family. Now it feels like a treasured vase has been broken 
Thank you for your prayers and expressions of love.
I'm crying right now imagining what it will be like to someday live without my Brian, if the Lord takes him before me. 
But there's hope beyond the grave, of that I'm sure. 
 He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove His people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. 
In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in Him, and He saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in Him; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.” 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I've got the girls in the bath tub playing My Little Mermaid, and the dog outside. I should be getting ready to head over to Bible study, but I'm looking for distractions instead. Of course.
Yesterday was a full, productive day, as Mondays are wont to be. They're my Recovery Day. I try to do the bulk of the laundry that day, and this week is bedding week. As hard as it is to wash all the sheets, I love climbing in bed between fresh, clean white sheets and knowing that all the family (or at least all those that I was able to get to) are doing the same. I've switched to all white sheets for everyone but the little girls  - they're still using black and white ticking. I like having most of our things white. It may seem hard to keep clean, but actually I think it's much easier.
The girls and I walked to the park and spent an hour or so there. They played on the seesaw and picked wild onion flowers while I studied A&P. I did a whole house cleaning, made a decent dinner - black bean and sausage soup, jalapeno cornbread, spring mix salad, and fudgy brownies, did school with Hazel, went on a five mile run, and managed to cut both John and Brian's hair. It was a good day.
Margaret and Sam didn't work last night, so we were all home together for dinner. I cherish those times. Brian and I recommitted to having nightly Bible time at the beginning of the year, and we've been more consistent than we've been a a long time. We read through the book of genesis together and are now reading Matthew. We sing a hymn after reading, and have some prayer time. With all our busy schedules, it's comforting to come together each evening and worship together. It's not always peaceful and without grumbling, and the little girls usually want to get up and perform interpretive dance while we're reading or singing, but it could be worse.
Looks like a storm is rolling in, so I best get the girlies out of the tub.