Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Storytime!!

These days Aleeyah is loving to tell us stories. We encourage it not only because it's always funny, but also because she is using her creativity. Today, I don't think we mastered the creative side of story telling, but it's definitely worth a few laughs!

Make sure to watch the first one all the way to the end-after the long pause that is. She had me cracking up after I stopped recording!



And here is what we will call, Storytime Bloopers.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Be Still and Know

I've never been a morning person. I love everything about mornings, but just have always had the hardest time actually getting up. Probably for the fact that my bedtime is somewhere between 12am and 3am every night.

Last night turned out a little different. Chris and I relaxed and enjoyed a movie together late in the evening after getting quite of bit of packing done for our move next weekend. I ended up drinking some Mt Dew-something that isn't normally much of a problem because caffeine seems to hardly have any effect on me anymore. Well, other than 1 cup of coffee, I haven't had any caffeine in almost a week. It probably would have been a good idea to think about that before I drank the 20 ounce bottle of it.

One hour leads to another hour and all the sudden it's 6am. I looked towards the bedroom window and I could see the sun peeking through the slats of the blinds. I figured it out that I had about 1 and 1/2 hours before Chris headed to work. So, I got up, put some decent clothes on, threw my hair in a ponytail, put on my running shoes, and made my way towards the trails right outside our complex.

I was excited for a few reasons. I had slipped up and traded in my 5 night in a row gym streak for Mt Dew plus some other brown, creamy substance that tasted a lot like chocolate ice cream the night before-I'm still in denial that I ate it. I wanted to get out and work some of that off. Plus, my love for mornings could actually be enjoyed on a morning that I didn't actually have to wake up for.

It was a beautiful 62 degrees outside and the dew still covered the grass and trees. As I headed down into the trails, I was greeted with beautifully colored skies. The sun was just rising in the distance beyond the trees.


I was a bit disappointed that once in the trees, the skies color could no longer be seen, but my attention was quickly diverted to the rustling around me. The birds were just waking up and beginning their morning songs and a few squirrels were already up and scampering about. Chris even had the joy/scare to run with some deer one morning, so I kept an eye out for them also. Sadly, no deer to report this time, but I did see a young possum climbing up a tree just a few feet in front of me.

We have spent a lot of time on the trails since we moved here almost a year ago. They provide such peace and relaxation, when we take the time to enjoy them. For me, I've always felt closest to God when I'm outside walking among the beautiful things He gave us and the trails brings the intimacy that I need with Him and what a gift it is.

Because I left my iPod at home, I was able to hear the bird songs. Some traveled to the ground right beside me as I passed to peck their morning meal from the grass. I heard some woodpeckers, pecking at the old trees. I heard the streams flow as I journeyed down the path.


Contrary to popular belief, it is not flat here. In particular, there are lots of hills in the direction that I went this morning. Lots of hills. As I was trekking up one of them, my shin splints started flaring up and I was getting tired, but I knew once I made it up the hill then it would be time to enjoy the ride downhill. I was looking forward to it.


When I approached the top of the hill, I found a park bench. A lovely surprise for my hurting shins.


I sat down and let my mind wander for a little bit. I thought about the packing that still needs to be done. I thought about the other things I needed to get done in the next week. I thought about the endless list of things I want to accomplish in the next few months to a year. I thought about unfinished plans and the overwhelming means of how we were going to get there.

Then, I thought about the coincidence of the uphill struggle to what's raging inside of my mind. A struggle between honest desires in my heart and balancing it in my day to day life. The struggle of giving it ALL to Him. The struggle of being still and patient in Him.

And here at the top of the hill, I began thinking about the time that will come when we sit at the top to rest. Just like these trails, there will always be more hills to follow, but it's comforting to know that He will give us the rest that we need, if we are willing to take it in. So often, I find myself not resting in Him, but always looking ahead. Always wondering what will need to be done next.

The impatient part of me says that I'm ready to begin the downhill ride for a little bit,


but I believe the desires that I have are not only my desires for me and my family, but His as well. He knows what is best for us, He knows what struggles we must face to get there, and only He knows how those struggles will help us grow.

So for me, I'm trying hard to trade the busy and distracting noises for those of things that bring a calming quiet to my mind. I'm striving to give the burdens and worries to Him as I make my way up the hill. I'm looking forward to taking rest in His arms at the tops of the hills and while He carries me across the bridges to come.


Until that time, I press on.

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah Psalm 62:5-8

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Oliver, Smalliver, Ollie, O-Liver

We interrupt this house packing extravaganza for a special report.

Oliver is still alive. Repeat. Oliver is still alive.

--------

Oliver's girlfriend, Nola....wait, you didn't know that Oliver had a girlfriend? Oh, yes. She may be rocking the cradle and Oliver, weighing in at a whopping 3.7 lbs, might just well be the same size of her head, but Nola goes for the best of the best and well....we think Oliver is one of the best.

Meet Nola.



She's showing off her sassy side with one of Oliver's collars.

From time to time, Nola or her mom writes Oliver . A little weird for a dog you might think, but she is high class all the way. She recently wrote to find out how Oliver was doing and if he was still around. She wanted photographic proof.

SO, I snuck around today to get a couple of pictures of him and.....well....I don't know that she is going to like this too much. I heard he has been attending quite a few local tea parties, but even worse........okay, maybe you will just have to see for yourself....



And I think this little girl, hiding behind him, just might be the culprit.



Check out the pink mittens on the front paws!

And just to warn you, Nola, the two of them are pretty much inseparable. He can be heard whining or yelping (depending on how far apart they are) for her to come back to him. They are most definitely, in love.

Sorry girl!

So there ya have it, Oliver is alive and well. Just maybe a little prettier than one might expect! ;)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

4th Festivities and Birthday Celebrations


We had a wonderful 4th of July. The day is extra special to me because it's also my birthday.

I have been around here for now 28 years. Whew! I don't even know what to think of that number. Thanks for all the well wishes on my birthday! Everyone made it an extra special day for me and I was totally spoiled! I got some WONDERFUL gifts for my special day including a mosquito net donated to Hope Aid International!!!

I have so many wonderful memories of the July 4th. It's always been a time of watermelon and ice chests.

Chasing fireflies. Lawn chairs and patchwork quilts.

Anxiously, waiting for the fireworks to start.

Family and good times. Just good ol' fashioned summer time fun that goes out with a big bang or lots of big bangs if you make it out to the shows. We never miss them.

Since I was little, I've been called a "firecracker baby", a "Yankee doodle", an "Independence baby" or a "little firecracker". It's just part of my childhood that lives on with me. I still here those words when someone finds out my birthday is on the 4th. It doesn't get old. I rather enjoy it. It's the one time of the year that no matter what we are doing, we are celebrating and there are times I still pretend it's all just for me.

I recall thinking that the song, Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen was my song-which was released 3 years after I was born. I remember hearing it blaring across the local parks we visited for years to come on the 4th. I just knew it had to be about me. Even though, most everyone else around was also born in the USA. Actually, I think that's the only Bruce Springsteen song that I recall. My radio listening days didn't come until much later when George Michael and Milli Vanilli was popular.

It was on my 15th birthday, that Chris and I officially went "out" together. He and his friend (now our friend) picked me and my cousin up at my Aunt and Uncle's house in his parent's 1992 blue Plymouth Voyager, the same van that we had our first in just a few weeks later, and we headed out the park to meet the rest of my family-the same park that I spent many years chasing down fireflies with my sister and cousins . We sat on the old patchwork quilt and attempted to flirt with each other using long blades of Oklahoma waving wheat. Okay, so it wasn't so much wheat as it was un-mowed grass, but the waving wheat sounded much more romantic. We officially became an item a week and half later on the 13th. Then, the following year on my birthday he gave me my promise ring, tucked safely inside an open rose that was floating in water.



As I get older, some things haven't changed while other things have. I still don't like watermelon but insist that we or someone else brings one. The old patchwork quilt is gone, but this year I dedicated a new one in it's honor-the quilt that the ladies from our old church congregation made for us after our house fire. The ice chests get filled with lots of ice and drinks. I've missed the firefies but am now getting to enjoy the moment with my daughter. And laughter and good times still fills the warm, summer air.

While my focus use to be on me turning another year older and of course as a kid, the presents!

this year has been different. As I watched my daughter on the patchwork quilt, I remembered the times with my family. As watermelon dripped on her clean shirt, I wondered if she would remember these times someday when she smelled the fresh scent of a ripe watermelon. When I watched her run around and giggle, I thought of the years to come and the wonderful times we were going to have. And as the fireworks began, I thought of our freedom. Our freedom that has not come free.

I remembered the gun salute at my Uncle's funeral many, many years ago. With every boom, I thought of our friend, who was with Chris and I on our first "date", that recently finished his tour with the Army and how each boom takes him back to a place he once was. He would never take credit for being a hero and would probably deny it in every way, but just like all the other men and women who have given themselves to keep our land free, he is. Not many of us would sign up to sign up to be away from our families, travel to some of the most dangerous places, and do the things required to stay alive like our soldiers do every day.

My star spangled hat goes off to the soldiers and their families and I continue to pray for those around the world who aren't free.

Here are some pics from our night, without captions. Although, one in particular should be captioned. I don't know the guy, but couldn't help but take his picture!!!








Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Family Update-Moving, Schooling, Working

Well, we are still working on getting packed up for another move here in about 2 weeks. We are just moving to a new complex a few miles from where we currently are. We have decided that apartment living is still the best option for us right now. Chris still has 17ish more months of schooling before he has his masters. School keeps him really busy after work. It leaves no time for things like yard work and house maintenance.

The new place will give us an extra 500 square feet which will be helpful. We will also have an attached garage. Basically, you go in our front door and you can either go to the garage through another door or go upstairs to our apartment. It will be nice to have the garage right there and our own staircase to our place. It's also gated 24 hours a day with smaller code entry doors for walking out. We will also be in a wonderful school district. One that's scores are consistently in the top 10% of the nation. Even better for her worry wart of a mom, her school will be right next to our complex with only a gate and some field in between us!

I can't believe it's already time to start talking about school. After talking to one of the teachers, we have decided to not send her to Pre K. I had originally planned on it, but with her current level in learning, we don't feel like it would be best suited for her. She's been reading more and more words and has been doing well reading beginner books (still with quite a bit of help moving through the book). She continues to excel in other areas also. So we have decided to basically home school her for a year. Which isn't much different than what we have been doing. We will just add a little bit more structure to get her use to that before heading into Kindergarten. We also want to add some sort of extra curricular activity in to help in her learning to take instruction from someone other than mom and dad. We aren't sure what it will be yet, but we want to choose something that won't fill up every ounce of hers and our time. I don't want our whole lives to revolve around that one activity.

Homeschooling was our number one option in Oklahoma, but with the school ranking here and her desire and excitement to go to school, we feel it's best if she begins school in Kindergarten at the public school when it's time-which will be not this coming school year, but the next. She is very excited about going to school and has been asking us for weeks about where her new school is. She thrives on learning and I love that about her. It's not about how much she knows, but how much she wants to know. I think that is what will help her succeed.

What will the ol' momma be doing while her little ones is off schooling? Well, there's a great possibility I'll be schooling myself and working. Because of our desire to not finance our adoption, we will be saving and saving before we begin the process. We've been working on some extra things and one that I'll be able to tell you about soon. Another one, I told you about in my last post some.....errr....weeks ago. I don't know if work will be at home or part time somewhere, but it will be one step closer to where we want to be. Of course, I'd love to sit and fantasize about our adoption process starting sooner than later, but patience is already being learned in the very early stages of all of this.

Through our patience lesson, we have used the time to really reflect on the desires of our hearts in conjunction for what God's will is in our family. Something I feel wouldn't have happened had we rushed into it all. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement and stories of other adoptions or the feeling of needing to save the world, but I don't feel any of those are any great reasons alone to bring a child into our family. It's like getting a family pet without the thoughts of all repercussions of that decision. Of course, on a totally different level. Children aren't pets. Just felt I needed to clarify that I felt that! :)

Schooling for me? Well, I've been considering going to school for graphic design. I've been going it off and on in various different jobs, projects, etc for about 12ish years. I have always enjoyed doing it and it's one thing I have really stuck to doing since I began. I've also enjoyed doing lots of extra stuff lately with it. Some friends of ours came and stayed with us this last weekend. I had to laugh when he asked if I was doing freelance work. FREE would be the key word in all that. ha! It's always been free. Which I love to do it for other people at no charge. For me the challenge is so rewarding. BUT it would be nice to one day say that it is what I do for a living. So we will see. Who knows what is in store there, if anything.

Okay, so I think that's it on the wordy updates. I'll be posting some pics soon and a couple more updates on other things!
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