Monday, June 28, 2010


After a few hours of sleep on the plane Saturday night, I hit the ground in London ready to go! I had about 6 hours, and I didn't plan to waste a second of them. Customs was a breeze, and it was so easy to drop my carryons at the bag leave. The Express Train into London is such a perfect idea...nonstop from Heathrow into Paddington, and buying my ticket ahead of time online made it even better.
I had my route all planned, so I knew exactly which Underground to hop to get to Kensington palace. The walk from High Street Kensington Station to Hyde Park/Kensington was intriguing. Families were shopping in the high end London clothing stores and novelty shops like Laura Ashley and Whole Foods. It was so exciting to see Hyde Park after all the novels I've read and history books I've studied. It really is amazingly huge. Families and friends of all ages were in the park playing, picnicking, and sun bathing. There are restaurants, paddle boats and canoes for rent, and lots of exercise trails. My sense loved taking it all in! It wasn't a far walk into Hyde Park before I reached this sight:

I had purchased my ticket for Kensington online, so they had my guidebook and 'dance card' for the palace ready to go when I arrived. Of course, like most historical sites, indoor photos aren't allowed, but the guide book has lots of neat drawings and photos. The palace is under renovation for the 2012 Olympics crowd, but the curators set up a great exhibit that leads the visitors through snip its of the lives of 7 of the princess who called Kensington home over the past 450 years. Everyone loves Diana, but Victoria has always been my favorite, probably because she lived one of the greatest romance stories ever told and had a passion for her subjects, most of whom equally loved her. I loved getting to walk up and down the stair case that lead the then Princess Victoria from her suite to the main entry for the arrival of visitors or to go outdoors. Her mother was so protective that someone always had to hold Victoria's hand up or down the stairs, even as a teen, in case she fell. Thanks, Mom, for giving me more independence than that! Because of the reconstruction, this is the best photo I could get of the statue of Victoria:
These are the main gardens that are open while the rest of the palace is being renovated. Lovely, lovely view.
After my tour, I was starving, and though it was only 2:30 and not quite traditional tea time, I headed to The Orangery for a traditional tea. The Orangery is built on the exterior much like the main building of Kensington, but was first used as a greenhouse in winter and party room in summer.
The inside is all white, and would've made a lovely backdrop for a summer ball! Oh, the grandeur! :)
I chose the Enchanted Tea to go with the theme of the palace exhibit, and it was delicious! It was served with chocolate tea, four finer sandwiches of cucumber, ham, salmon, and cheese, a super moist scone with proper clotted cream and jam, and a raspberry tart and chocolate mousse cake.
Two sweet ladies asked me to take their picture and then wanted to return the favor.
After tea, I had 2 hours before I had to be back on the train to the airport. As I studied my map, I realized that Buckingham Palace wasn't too far from the southeast corner of Hyde Park. I was on the west side, and figured it wouldn't be too far of a walk across the park and on to Buckingham. Ahem, the London map was NOT to scale. If you've ever walked with me, you know I don't understand what a leisurely pace is to begin with, but it still took me an hour and a half of hauling booty to get there. Oops! However, I'm so very, very glad I rose to the challenge and made my way, mostly unassisted, across a section of London I had never seen before. I was able to pass the Diana Memorial Fountain, see the Serpentine (a huge pond/small lake in Hyde Park), watch many more families enjoying the day, pass the WWII memorials, and see so much of sunny London. Besides, I needed to move after 8 hours on a plane with another 9 ahead of me!
Plus, when I round the corner and saw THIS:
and ultimately THIS: was completely worth it.
I had another 10 minute walk to Victoria Station, 20 minutes on the Tube, and then on to Heathrow. What an amazingly beautiful layover the Lord blessed me with in London!!!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010


This is what my piano room looked like yesterday morning:

The big suit case on the left is half full of donations, the little suitcase in the middle is my carry on, the blue crate has an overhead projector and a set of 8th grade ELA textbooks, and the card board box behind the blue crate has a keyboard and portable volleyball set. Phew! The scale was too make sure I didn't put more the 50 pounds in any of the bags. Everything fit just like a puzzle...perfect!

My big suitcase was full of beads for a beading project some of the local moms are doing for extra income, supplies for the long term volunteers at ACE, and lots and lots of underroos for the boys and girls at ACE. A HUGE thank you to the Tyler ladies! My things fit in the other half.

This suit case is full of baby wipes, bubbles, books, stickers, and glue sticks for the kiddos at ACE. My AMAZING 2009-2010 6th graders brought all of these things for me to take. I'm so proud of them!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


A trip to Dallas is never complete without a visit with my two brothers that live there. I was so excited to introduce Isaac to Fred and Jeff and their families.

Saturday after the wedding, we drove to Arlington, checked in at the hotel, and headed to Fred and Aggie's. I was thrilled to meet Aggie who I had yet to see as she was in Zambia for 7 weeks recently. Knowing Fred, it didn't surprise me one bit how sweet and kind Aggie is. Sarah seemed excited to see me again and loved showing me the big girl room Fred had set up for her while she and her mommy were in Lusaka.
On Sunday, we met Jeff, Bridget, Tina, and Joelle for church and then went to dinner with them before driving home to Houston. It was such a treat to spend time with them too, even if it was all too brief. Tina was way too cute with all four front teeth missing. It was tough for her to talk or eat, but she managed to make us laugh. :)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

It's a Bride on Her Wedding Day...

...It's Something Beautiful
Today one of my most precious friends in the world was married to a great guy! Ashley has been a dear friend since sophmore year when she joined Phi Lamb, and it's been a pleaure having her leave no more than 5 minutes away from me the past three years in Clear Lake. She has stuck with me through all kinds of fun and heartache, and she made one heck of a MOH back in August!
I remember when I first figured out Tim liked Ashley. Valentina was in Clear Lake from Germany for 2 months, and Isaac and I had just started dating. The three of us girls wanted to go to the wine bar near us, and wanted to have friends join us. I knew Isaac would come, but the only other person who came was Tim. The boy couldn't keep his eyes off Ashley the whole night! That was in February of '08, and at the time, Ashley had no interest in any boy and only wanted to finish grad school and move back to Dallas. The girl was adamant, and it was hilarious listening to her. I kept telling her she was simply asking for it by telling God her plans, but I do believe now she whole heartedly agrees God had the better idea. Ashley didn't get convinced Tim really liked her until that summer, with the wonderful help of the Tanners. Thank you, Will and Michelle!

Ashley and Tim's wedding was lovely, and I have lots and lots and lots of pictures. I haven't even seen them all, but I wanted to make sure June 19th, 2010 was marked as a special day, as it most certainly was!

After a brief honeymoon and reception in Missouri for Tim's large extended family, the Assels are moving to Aggieland for Ashley to be an LSSP for CSISD, and Tim will start his PhD. Ash, I'm going to miss our weekly (mostly) dinner dates and Bible study with you. I love you, sweet friend!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Big Girl Mini Adventure

Since I decided I'm a big enough girl to head fly to Africa by myself, I figured I was big enough to go to my first movie by myself too. Isaac was at work, my friend who was to go with me had a conflict, and I wanted to see "Letters to Juliet" before my trip. It really wasn't scary to purchase my ticket and kid's pack and see the movie. It was a quiet, relaxing, and enjoyable experience. And, the movie was adorable! I'm so glad I put on my big girl panties and did it! :)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Palm Beach

The Tanner family and we went to Palm Beach at Moody Gardens yesterday. With a 6 year old and 6 month old in tow, it was the perfect compromise of sand and surf. Lots of sand to sink our toes, but no deep water or undertow that might ruin a fun day, and none of the clingy seaweed that's currently invading the Galveston shoreline. Madisyn had fun swimming with Mr. Isaac and convincing him he needed to go down the kiddie slides too! What a hoot! I think the Tanners have a water baby on their hands because Megan sure liked splashing! Sadly, neither Michelle nor I snapped any pictures, which is odd for us, so I guess our tan lines will have to be proof of our fun this time.

Friday, June 11, 2010

It's Summer!

Ok, I'm being honest: I miss school! I have more lessons I want to teach, there are more places in the world I want to explore with my kids, I miss theirs stories and jokes, I miss the excitement when they figure out a new idea, and I miss their debates on global issues. I want more hugs and smiles and laughs! It was such a great school year. My 'babies', all 147 of them, were phenomenal, as were their parents. It doesn't get much better than that. Already praying for the next bunch, though I know 6th grade is the last thing on their little minds at the moment.

Since I can't escape summer vacation, I'm embracing it! The first week has been nice, and lots has been accomplished. Ashley and I were able to enjoy some quality chats in her last few days with us, I babysat some of my favorite kids, gotten to lay in the sun, spoil sweet Bailey rotten, get dismissed from jury duty, get the Hep A vacc and malaria prescription for Africa, exercise, sleep until 9:00 a few times, I've read three books already, and plan a Scentsy party. What a week!

Thursday, June 3, 2010


My sweet cousin Lindsay was in Cinci visiting her boyfriend the same weekend we were there for Mark and Anna's wedding. On Sunday morning, we met for breakfast at Craker Barrel. What a treat to see Linds' sweet face! She's usually in Paducah or Louisville for school, so more than one visit a year is sadly rare. Will is a nice guy; he has the cousin stamp of approval! Hopefully we can convince Lindsay and her little sis Ashleigh to visit Houston again soon!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Velvet Lovin'

A trip to Ohio is never complete without a visit to the Muterspaw farm for some Velvet lovin'! It's no secret I'm addicted to horses, and Isaac does all he can to help feed my addiction! While Dolly, Major, and Hot Rod will never replace my sweet Dixie Girl, they sure help feel the void until my next HUGE baby comes along. Most of last Sunday evening was spent grooming and pampering these three gently giants (Hot Rod thinks he's big stuff) while Isaac and Jacob fished in the pond. It was two and a half hours of pure bliss for me!

Hot Rod is already trying to be greedy. Poor Dolly!

Major is such a good boy. He loves grooming.

Cheeky mini-horse tried to eat my shirt!

Carrot breath kisses!

Hot Rod also tried to eat my bum, my knee, my elbow, my hair, my camera, and my boot at various times throughout the night. He loves to play, and I adore him for it!
Girl time with Dolly. She puts up with a lot from her two 'brothers'.
After nearly an hour of combing out tangles in Dolly's mane, I thought I'd won the battle. I turned around to find her rolling...

and rolling...
one last time for good measure...
and back up she comes! She was covered in grass stains and more tangles. I laughed and gave up!

Hot Rod kisses

Major and Dolly

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