Thursday, November 24, 2011

2011 Thankfulness

I've seen lots of Facebook posts and blogs of all these people disciplined enough to post 30 days of thankfulness - way to go, guys, but I just don't have the time or discipline to keep up with all that. I have so much to be thankful for - it's overwhelming, and I could go way back in time and share specific things I have been blessed with throughout my life, but I decided to focus on five things I am thankful for specifically in 2011.
ESL - It is a sweet, sweet thing to feel like you are serving exactly where the Lord has called you in a season. I had been praying about this for awhile, and I wanted to use some of my time at home to serve in a ministry somewhere outside our Sunday School class. Houston's First Baptist has an amazing ministry through their Faith Center in Spring Branch. Benevolence, a clothes closet and food pantry, ESL classes and more - it is quite an operation. There are hundreds of ESL students that benefit from this ministry. My class is comprised of anywhere from 6-15 adults depending on the week, and I am so proud of them and their willingness to learn. I love spending time with them, and while it isn't always easy to get us there on Thursdays, it is always worth it.
Inside Out - In March we left our previous Sunday School class Veritas and began a new class called Inside Out. Cason and I had been deeply ingrained in that community as he'd served as a teacher for a couple years, and I had various roles as well. The Lord blessed our class and we were growing and growing. It was time to multiply. Our friends the Saxes were going to be the directors, and we signed on as the teacher couple. A few other couples from Veritas signed on and off we went. It was really hard, but looking back at the last eight months, we have seen God's faithfulness over and over, and I couldn't be happier with where we are. It's so neat to see another "flavor" of young marrieds as the Lord has already galvanized this group and given it a unique identity.
My new role - Being a stay-at-home mom has had its ups and downs, but I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity to be with Madeleine day in and day out as she changes so quickly. After three and a half years of a relatively easy marriage, Cason and I have had to work harder in our new roles as parents and really understanding where each person is coming from as well as taking time to really connect with one another.
Family in town - Many of our family is not in town, but I am so grateful for those who are - six different family households. This allows us to see many family members much more frequently. Madeleine and Granna days are every Tuesday - this is great for them because they get time to play, and it is great for me because I get to run errands or hide in the study and get some work done. Also, I am thrilled that Julianne moved back to Houston after graduating from Baylor. She has a wonderful marketing job downtown and swanky townhome in Montrose. It's so great to have a sister close by! We are working on Liz as she has a Chevron internship in Houston this coming summer, so...hooray for Deilys, Barnhills and Gajdicas all being in Houston!
Accountability - My sweet accountability group has been so dear to me this year - Jodie, Ally and Brandi are lights in my life that bring me joy, challenge me and encourage me in my walk with the Lord. I need to get a picture of just the four of us, but until I do, an Olive Garden logo will have to suffice - that's where we spend a few hours every other Tuesday night. :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Baylor Homecoming

November is sneaking away from me! I can't let the month end without giving an account of our sweet time in Waco. I won't go on a soapbox about how special Baylor is to our family and why, but just know that it is. I have only missed Baylor Homecoming weekend twice in my life. Once was my junior year of high school - it was a Region Choir clinic and concert. My second time to miss it was last fall. You see, I was having a baby. :) Madeleine came on the Sunday of Homecoming last year, so this was her first time to go. She has already been to Waco/Baylor many times for being only one, but Homecoming is a special weekend.
"Will you not, as a loyal student of dear old Baylor, lay aside for a few days the usual cares of life, come back to your alma mater, renew former associations and friendships, and catch the Baylor spirit again?" - Samuel Palmer Brooks, 1909
So we arrived on Friday afternoon to a lunch with our life-long friend Anna who is currently a senior at Baylor. She also wrote this article for one of her classes. We had no idea it would end up on the front page of the Homecoming edition of the Lariat. We told Madeleine she must be a very special little bear to have her first Homecoming memorialized that way. :) That's a picture of my dad and I at my second Homecoming.
After lunch, Cason took Mads to the hotel (we shared a room with my parents and lived to tell about it!) and I hurried to campus for some meetings. I am on the Alumni Advisory Board for my beloved BRH Choir, and we spent some time meeting for that, then practicing for Singspiration, which is basically like a campus-wide worship service celebrating many different styles of music and worship. It's a wonderful event (of many!) with which to kick off the weekend. I was so honored to sing in the alumni choir and be on the worship team.
After Singspiration, Mads grabbed a quick nap in the stroller on our way to the pep rally/bonfire. I was shocked she slept through the music from the band, all the pep rally music blasting from the speakers as well as the fireworks show. After the bonfire was lit, she decided to wake up so we could take a few pictures.
We made it back to the hotel before my parents (role reversal!) and got her down fairly easily. She had a wonderful night in the hotel, waking up happy and ready to head back to campus for the parade! I decided to not attempt the Tridelt breakfast this year - something's gotta give when kids come into play!
She napped from the hotel to campus, so Cason stayed in the car with her for a little while. The weather was crisp and beautiful - perfect, perfect Homecoming weather. When Madeleine did come to the parade, she got to play with her due date twin, Kade, and her sweet friend Miss Emma Grace. It is quite difficult to get two this age to sit still for a photo!
After the parade, we went to admire all the floats up close. They are truly amazing - so much work goes into them! Oddly enough, I spent the most time out at float when I was a senior. We had a fun lunch at Fuddrucker's with friends to celebrate Kade and Madeleine's birthdays - I love in this pic how the babies are looking anywhere but the camera.
After lunch we headed to the FBC Waco gym to hang out with our BSB group (our 9 families that my parents went to school with all the other parents etc., basically our other extended family.) I especially love this picture of Madeleine with my parents. Precious!
Annnnnd then we went to the stadium to check out the tailgating scene. So festive and fun. Madeleine was happy in her stroller with her pouch. We loved getting more time to visit with friends!
But alas, to the game we did not go. We didn't cheer our Bears on to victory in person, but from our hotel room (again, the whole baby compromise thing.) Madeleine was such a trooper all day long - catnapping in the car here and there and letting lots of different people hold her, so we decided to make a few stops in Waco as well as pick up to-go from Food for Thought, head back to the hotel and let her chill out and run around and play. She especially loved her bath.
Thankfully, she went down again easily and slept wonderfully that night. No one told her about Daylight Savings Time though, so we didn't really get to take advantage of that. ;) She "helped" us pack up the cars, and we met up with friends at Lolita's for breakfast burritos. Dad and Cason went back to Houston, and mom, Mads and I went north to Dallas, but that's another story. We were so thrilled to share Homecoming with Madeleine this year!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Family Policy

I think Nordstrom management and I would be fast friends. I've seen this circulating online, and I believe this is from a previous year, but I love this:
Not trying to hate on Christmas, I'm just a little legalistic with my holidays. I can't put up fall until the autumnal solstice or the first day of October. I can't put up Christmas until after the last bite of pumpkin pie. I just know for me, I'll enjoy it more if I wait. I won't even buy peppermint mocha coffee creamer until after Thanksgiving. If I put up Christmas on Nov. 1, I'll be sick of all the decor by the time Christmas really comes, and I DO want to celebrate poor Thanksgiving. Maybe I just feel like someone needs to stick up for Thanksgiving and buck retail industry that puts up Christmas as soon as Halloween is over, or earlier, ahem, Highland Village, ahem. Anyway, I do anticipate Christmas. I hum along with the tunes in the stores (as a choir girl I was always used to the music beginning in October) and begin planning, but decorate we do not until after the fourth Thursday in November. Just as I was excited about Madeleine's first de facto Halloween, I can't wait to share Christmas with her. Here's our family on Christmas day last year - she was just about 8 weeks old:
Now I know she's still too young to "get" mostly everything, but our trip to Lowes today made me so excited. She was in awe of the trees, the inflatables suspended from the ceiling and the big man himself. This one happened to be singing and dancing.
Please note the tragedy of Madeleine's attire. She is in a sundress without shoes on (didn't want to fight that battle for this quick trip) and it is mid-November. Sigh. Oh Houston. And poor Thanksgiving again, this post was supposed to be defending it and rallying behind it, yet all the photos have to do with Christmas. Hmmm...well here is a peanuts greeting and my dad carving a turkey in 2009. :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Rearrange and Repurpose

I've been meaning to post about this since...oh....September. Just didn't happen. Anyway, I've been so pleased with this change I thought it was worth mentioning. So before we had Madeleine, I was the naive/ignorant almost-mom that said "Oh we are not going to change our house that much for her. She will have her room and her toys will stay in there. We may have a small basket in the den, but that's it. IF she ever has a playroom it will be when she is older and has big girl toys like a table or a play kitchen etc." Well newsflash, toys don't stay in their room, and I really didn't like the den being a wreck all the time and feeling compelled to tidy it during every nap. Obvious conclusion: let's make a playroom! Our house was built in 1963 so we have the traditional formal living and dining in the front of the house. Prior to making the playroom, those rooms weren't used as often as the rest of the house, but I was always still so thankful for some extra space and the opportunity for flexibility. So, here's our "formal area" before:
We certainly aren't the first people to think of this idea - we have several friends in older homes who have logically done the same thing. I am thankful for such a deep living room - we were able to fit our whole dining room set toward the back while maintaining a sitting area in the front. Here's our "formal area" after - now with three very purposeful spaces:
I love it. I feel it is such a luxury to have a playroom. We added no square feet to our home but I feel like it is so much bigger! We also opted to not extend any walls or put in French doors between the new dining room and the playroom because Madeleine can really use so much of that area during the day, and I just like the open feeling of it all. It's a perfect place for her to play while I take care of kitchen chores, and it just puts her right next to me. I didn't have to buy any furniture. I think I'll eventually buy some baskets that fit in the bottom of those Ikea shelves, but for now we just repurposed furniture. I did add things on the wall - the melted crayons from pinterest, some framed scrapbook paper (wanted bright but not too juvenile since people still see this room right when they walk in), a framed poster from Hobby Lobby, magnetic panel from Ikea and the embroidered ABCs my mom did for me when I was a baby. I think we "added a room" for less than $100. Cason also swapped out the flushmount light with the chandelier.
I love it when Cason cleans up her room for many reasons, but my favorite is when he whimsically arranges some of her toys. (Like Dwight did to the knick knacks on Michael's desk on the Office. Ha.) Case in (or Cason?) point: see the two little birds on her glass table? The yellow one was mine when I was a baby. It tweets when you shake it. The little white one was his when he was a baby. It squeaks when you squeeze it. For weeks those two birds were always together, usually on that table, but he always put them side by side.
And, during the day, I have no problem if it looks like this all day long - I won't touch it.
We only pick it up once during the day - right before bed. :)