Sunday, June 30, 2013

The month of June

June ushers in the beginning of SUMMER in Houston.  While it's not my favorite season of the year, we try to make the most of it. :) There's a lot we try to do inside to stay cool...

And when we do go outside, we try to make sure our activities include water!

Lots of backyard swimming with friends...
 Many trips to the Y pool and the occasional ice cream treat seem to help with the Houston heat.

And Madeleine loved the water slide at the Westside Club when we joined the Halgrens and Agnews for a summer swimming outing.
We took a weekend trip to Wimberley early in the month for the wedding of our life-long family friends' daughter Lindsey.  Mom and Dad rented a house out in the country, so the first part of the weekend, we really enjoyed the property and some leisurely time in town. 

The actual wedding took place at a beautiful venue called Old Glory Ranch.  Every detail was just beautiful, and we were blessed with dry, mild weather, despite the calendar reading June 8.  It was also so much fun seeing so many friends from our childhood and Baylor days!  The picture on the bottom left is the beautiful bride with many of our friends from Tridelta days at Baylor - everyone else in the picture was pregnant, so there are really 11 of us in the picture. :) 
I celebrated my 29th birthday - it was pretty low-key between two out-of-town weekends.  I had lunch with the Deilys at Benjy's (yum) and got some typical grown-up birthday presents (like patio furniture, which was a combined Father's Day and birthday gift, curtains and new pillows.)  HA.  Believe it or not, I also had a queen air mattress on my birthday list.  I am so exciting. 
The very next weekend, Cason was in the wedding of his dear friend David Sweeney and his new bride Emily.  This time we dropped Madeleine off in Cypress and went to Little Rock for the weekend.  We were actually really excited to drive because we love road trips together, just the two of us.  Madeleine would have made the seven-hour drive just a little more challenging. :)   Cason and I decided we could "totally live in Little Rock." It has a lot of natural beauty, and it is big but not huge.  Also, if anything is going to come to Arkansas, it would probably go to Little Rock.  Anyway, we liked it. It was really fun to see all of his college friends, and the Sweeneys were his other family during those years, so we had lots of fun reconnecting.  Congrats to all the newlyweds!
We closed out the month with a week of Vacation Bible School!  The theme was Colossal Coaster World, and both Madeleine and I had a blast.  I taught the same age group I had last year, but I was only with one teacher from last year - the rest of the girls comprised a new group!  It was a lot of fun.  Madeleine really enjoyed playing with some of my "leftovers" from activities I did with my students like the green moldable sand, and my mega blocks set-up for telling the story about Paul escaping through the wall around Damascus in the middle of the night.   Madeleine learned her first Bible verse - "God helps me. I will not be afraid." Hebrews 13:6.  Hey, you can put anything to the tune of "Twinkle Twinkle." 
Madeleine learned a lot about ocean animals in her Tuesday/Thursday class, and she has the crafts to prove it! 

Finally, the last weekend in June we celebrated my sweet friend Amy's 30th birthday with a surprise dinner at El Tiempo.  We didn't have a sitter so we brought M - would you believe she sat in her chair for two hours?  She was the only kid there, so maybe she felt the pressure.  Whatever it was, we were grateful because that is not her typical modus operandi.  We also celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary with a dinner at Backstreet Cafe.  It was delicious!!  Lots to celebrate in June with my birthday, Father's Day and our anniversary!  Going to the mailbox was lots of fun. 
June was a great month!  The pictures below were just random ones on my phone I didn't want to forget - petting zoo day at M's school, a cute grocery store picture, puzzles with Daddy... I think the only one that needs an explanation is the middle picture on the right column.  We were on our way to Madeleine's class on a Tuesday I think, and a tanker truck had overturned on a strategic ramp not far from home just before rush hour.  Traffic was backed up EVERYWHERE, so we had to take side streets and it took us an hour and a half to get to church (vs. our usual 10 minutes!)  Anyway, someone (understandably) had to go potty, so thank goodness we had the froggy in the trunk of the Tahoe!  Thank you Jesus.  These are the funny parenting moments I never want to forget, and word to the wise, always keep wipes on hand.  I think I will carry wipes until all of our children go to college.   I also completed my time at Community Cloth.  With baby coming in the fall, it was best for me to bow out in the slow summer and let them get someone else on board before the craziness hits around September.  I will dearly miss the organization, but I hope to stay involved in a volunteer capacity in the future.  What a blessing it was to have this job for a year!

Friday, June 14, 2013

5 years in our house!

It's hard to believe, but as of this June, we have been in our house for five years!  It's tempting to get the itch to play around on and search for the next house (which could be in just a couple years or in ten years, who knows!)  Anyway, I'm in no hurry to leave, and I thought to celebrate this milestone I'd compile a list of the top five things I love about our house.

1.  The trees/outdoor space in general - I do think this is number one.  We have five oaks in the front yard, and a few big ones in the back too.  We used to have six in the front, but we had one removed in order to accelerate our grass-growing efforts.  (sniff sniff)  I think they add such character, beauty and certainly comfort as well, as our backyard stays shady all day long.  It has been the perfect spot for entertaining - we hosted Madeleine's first birthday and a number of socials for our Sunday School class back there. No spot for a vegetable garden with all the shade, but I'm not complaining!

2. The floor plan - Our house is like a lot of houses built in the 60s, except for one feature I've yet to see in another home like ours.  Instead of a shotgun or L-shaped hallway with the master all the way at one end of the house, our bedroom hall makes an L shape and then the master actually has a door to the den as well.   Basically, it gives our home a very open feel and I can get ready in the morning while Madeleine sits at the kitchen table, and we can talk to each other.  I also loved it before we had kids because it just made the whole house feel more connected and open like an apartment.  I'm sure there will be a time in my life when I'd love the master bedroom to be more tucked away for privacy, but for now, it works great.
3- The way our home has grown with us - We bought this house two and a half years before Madeleine was born.  When we first moved in, it didn't feel enormous, and now, with a toddler and one on the way, we still aren't feeling cramped.  As is the custom in homes our age, we also have the formal living room and dining room in the front of the house.  While some would rather have the square footage in the kitchen or one main living area instead, I really like having those rooms separate in the front.  It has helped the house to grow with us, as they truly were a formal living and dining at one point, when we first moved in, but we were able to re-arrange and fit the playroom in the former formal dining room. 
With our three bedrooms, we used to have a master, a study and a guest room.  Madeleine came along, and we had a master, a nursery and a study/guest room.  Now we are in the process of losing our study/guest room completely (!) but it still feels fine.  It's a good excuse to pare things down and use the fantastic (three hall closets, three walk-in closets and plenty of bathroom cabinets!) storage we have to organize things we really use and need.  (Hello, bountiful nesting projects!)

4 - The location - We love our little neighborhood.  We are just one mile outside of 610 off of the Brays Bayou, so we can get lots of places quite quickly.  We love being in town, and I continue to love how close we live(d) to where we both work(ed) and now how close we live to Cason's office.  We can get to the zoo, Hermann Park, Children's Museum, Galleria, Memorial Park and church in about 10 minutes (all bets are off at rush hour, of course) but all-in-all it really works for us.  
Also, due to where we live, Madeleine has developed a bit of an urban landscape game over the past 9 months.  She loves to find Williams Tower.  We are up and down 610 all the time, and when we get closer to the Westheimer exit, she will say "I see Williams Tower!  He's so tall!  Good morning, Williams Tower!" Most of our Houston destinations are within sight of "him": her pediatrician's office, our grocery store right by our house, our YMCA, etc.  She loves to find it and greet it, even when it's not so close and she can barely see it peeking over the horizon. 
5. Memories - Okay okay, we would have made memories no matter where we lived, but we are here and the memories were made here, so therefore they can go on the list of special things.  The memories that have taken place here have always made this house feel like home.  Surviving Hurricane Ike in our hallway with the kitties, hosting numerous large events here, hosting weekly, intimate small groups here, bringing Madeleine home from the hospital, hanging Christmas lights, watching her learn how to crawl, the way the jasmine smells in the backyard in spring, the sound of the rain when it hits the tin pipe above my stove, measuring Madeleine's height against the window seat in the front room (seems like yesterday she couldn't see above it, now she climbs up and jumps of for fun!)  and many more just add to the warmth and the depth of this place.  I love that it is our first home, and I will shed many a tear whenever it's time to leave.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Jake and Madeleine Fridays

In the spring of 2012, my friend Cindy and I decided it would be fun to trade off our kids every Friday.  They were both still only children, so it was nice for them to have a playmate, and also it was fun to know that two Fridays a month, each mama got a 4-hour break for whatever!  We were able to keep up our schedule, barring travel and other circumstances, almost every Friday for about a year.

Here is their first picture together - not an official playdate, but months before when Cindy watched Madeleine once when I had a dentist appt.  Look at these sweet little friends!

 Here are some pictures of them when we did a little informal Easter photo shoot at the arboretum last spring:

When we got going last April, they were just so little.  Jake had just turned two and Madeleine was about 18 months.  They always got along really well, and we enjoyed lots of outdoor adventures around their respective neighborhoods.

 As spring progressed, we introduced even more outdoor play, and we noticed that they weren't old enough to really play together, but they seemed to play parallel quite a bit.
It's funny how early Madeleine was a little girl and Jake was a little boy.  This helped with taking turns, as they would have different interests, but they still had their fair helping of sharing issues.
 As time went on, and they got bigger, they had lots of adventures together in each home and their surrounding neighborhoods.
There were lots of wagon rides... (our May this year was unseasonably cool - the picture on the left below was taken in May!) 
 Many visits to the park...
and a few Fridays when Violet also joined them (see also the potty training blog entry)
 (real friends don't care if you have 8 accidents on your first day of potty training)
These pictures below of them playing in the dirt (they were explorers finding pyramids, supposedly - their play really developed!) were taken on their last official "Jake and Madeleine Friday" at our house - they had one more at the Rabes' on May 31.  We knew this arrangement would probably be only for as season as the Rabes were on the list to receive a foster child at any time (which they did - praise the Lord!) and we were expecting baby #2, so both families' lives were about to get a bit more complicated, in a good way.  The Rabes got baby Trey in June, so at least for now, we aren't officially trading off anymore, even though they will still play from time to time. 
They are such sweet friends, and I know they have a special place in each other's hearts!  It was a joy to get to watch them play and grow every week for a year.