Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I adore my family.  Today is my Dede's (granddad, mom's dad) 75th birthday!  Since weeknight's are insane to coordinate with the 8 of us, we went to brunch at Brennan's on Saturday.  This man has lead our family through so much with grace and faith that few can match.  Dede made sure I attended plenty of International Mission Board conferences to help spur my passion for world cultures and reaching the whole world with Christ's love.  I love you, Dede.  Happy birthday!

We're horrible about taking family photos, but here are Dede and Nanny with Dede's birthday plate of pralines at Brennan's.

I'm also loving the brunch at Brennan's.  YUM!  I haven't been to Brennan's since December '03.  That's absurd.  If you haven't been since the fire during Hurricane Ike, go!  Yes, it's still pricey, but it's so beautiful, and the food is even better than I remember.  We didn't eat ourselves sick in celebration of the life of this fabulous man, but we sure ate bunches!  Brennan's isn't the kind of place to pull out the camera before starting each course, but I promise my strawberry spinach salad, Louisiana blue crab scrambled eggs with caviar, and white chocolate bread pudding were melt in my mouth, borderline sinfully delicious!

Starbucks and I have a love hate relationship.  I hate how people get addicted to them and spend hundreds of dollars there.  However, I love that they are fair trade and that as a teacher, parents think all teachers love coffee (I don't) and give their kids' teachers large sums of SB giftcards throughout the school year.  Isaac and I choose to make sure we never spend our own money at SB, but we sure don't mind spending my giftcards.  My favorite treat is unsweetened green tea lemonade.  Now that we're having warmer weather again, I'm very much enjoying picking up my treat before I begin my grocery shopping.  So refreshing!

What are YOU loving?

Linking up at This Kind of Love.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

NewlyWed Game

This is such a fun post idea!  Linking up with Megan and Taylor.

1) What do you think my best quality is?

My answer: You are BEYOND talented!  There is nothing you can't do!  Carpentry, Electric Wiring, Plumbing, Cake Decorating, Car Mechanic, Sewing, Painting Space-Walk Tool Making...all of it!

Husband's answer: Dedication to people you love.

2) What would be your ideal date with me?

My answer: Hiking or kayaking or a play/symphony concert

Husband's answer: Having dinner at the top of a tall lighthouse and watching the sun set.

3) What was your first impression of me?

My answer: You were way too quiet!

Husband's answer: Sweet, fun, flirty, outgoing.

4) What is your favorite memory of us?

My answer: Attending the STS-119 launch.

Husband's answer: Our honeymoon in Costa Rica.

5) What do you see for us in the future?

My answer: Way more dogs than kids, visiting Zambia annually, and you being in the astronaut corps.

Husband's answer: Homeowners, debt free, starting a family, loving each other more than ever.
Costa Rica, August '09

Monday, March 26, 2012

America is Much More Than Black and White

Jen Hatmaker has yet another post that speaks my heart.  This one makes me ache so deeply and yearn for Eden with a desire that words cannot express. This article makes me hurt too.  I know there is a TON of controversy about this event, but no one should get into fights, no one should be thought suspicious based on color, and no one should die because of it.  Maybe it wasn't murder, but it started from suspicion, that much has been proven.  Someday, Jesus, I promise we will all see Your fingerprints on each other, and not just what's on the outside.  Someday...

Meal Planning Monday

Sunday: Church

Monday: BBQ Chicken Mac & Cheese

Tuesday: Gumbo

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Friday: Mr. Gattis with coupons

Saturday: Hoping to go Pearland to see the fam

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sweet Friends

I have been surrounded by friends this weekend.  I'm exhausted at the moment from going, going going, but my soul is oh so full! 

Thursday my friend Danielle stopped by my classroom.  She was my ESL aide last year, and I miss having her with me each and every day.  Danielle now has her own Kindergarten classroom, but no one will ever quite have the touch she does with my ESL kiddos.  We had seen each other since Thanksgiving, and we just can't stay apart that long again. 

Friday Isaac finally introduced me to coworkers of his from NASA whom he's been hogging for 3 whole years!  I told him that this is worse than my dad keeping Fuddruckers a secret from us for the first year we lived in Houston.  The Padillas are such a sweet Christian couple, and Isaac was so smart becoming friends with them.  They invited us to their house for dinner on Friday, and we stayed well over four hours to eat, watch basketball, and play Settler of Catan.  We cannot wait to get together with them again.  We all have a thing for being outside and eating good food, so I think this will be a beautiful friendship!

Saturday was epically fun, and I typically don't use 'epic'!  My family gathered for my granddad's 75th birthday celebration (more to come), and then sweet Michelle and I went shopping.  The Tanners just found out that they are having babies 3 AND 4 in October, so we had lots to discuss as we shopped for new shoes for Miss Megan.  It was a treat to see my dear friend looking happy and healthy, if not a bit freak out still.  This is going to be such an adventure!

I hadn't been home from shopping for more than 5 minutes when one of my childhood best friends called to say she was in town and invite me out to Chick-fil-A with her mom and her 13 month old.  I hadn't seen Carrie in almost 5 years, which is ridiculously too long!  I had yet to meet Miss Rebecca, who is an absolute doll!  It was beyond blissful to sit with Carrie, Rebecca, and Carrie's mom Melanie to catch up on our families and talk about when we were little girls.  Carrie actually comes to town fairly often for work, so we're hoping to get all of our families together very soon.  It's surreal to see old friends with their own children; I remember us being little girls playing house with our baby dolls like it was just last week.
Rebecca, Carrie, and me

I have a terrible habit of holing myself up at home and not seeking out fellowship with my friends.  God has certainly shown me this weekend how much I unknowingly crave time with my friends.  I am certainly going to start making a point to check in with the dear ladies in my life much more often.  Life is busy, but phone calls and emails just don't cut it!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Heaven if for Real: Book Review

I must admit I was skeptical about the authenticity of Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo.  I adore small children, and I like what they remind me about child-like faith, but I also know how imaginative kids are.  I thought this book was probably just that-an imagined story by a cute little guy who really loves Jesus.  I also admit when I'm wrong, and this time, I'm wrong.

Colton is not yet four when a ruptured appendix makes him very sick.  During surgery, Colton's spirit must have surely visited the real Heaven.  I don't want to spoil the awe and excitement for anyone who hasn't read the book, but as Colton recovers, he begins telling his family things that no one had ever told him or taught him.  He describes aspects of God and Heaven that preschoolers aren't taught in Sunday School.  The kid touched Christ and strengthened my faith in the process. 

Colton's awesome story is either the most elaborate scam in Christian history or it's real, and I'm choosing to believe it's real.  Check it out if you haven't already.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cedar Chest Reborn

Do you remember the post back in September about how Baby Aggie Belle chewed up the side of my heirloom cedar chest?  It looked like this:
The left side is a mess!
After months of blood, sweat, and tears (ok, not blood or tears), Isaac finally got the whole thing stripped, sanded, repaired, re-stained, re-hardwared, re-upholstered, and put back in our bedroom Monday night.  Ok, so it shouldn't have taken that long, but Isaac has had more than a few extra projects thrown in his way! I know, I should've taken pictures of each stage of the restoration, but I didn't.  Maybe I'll get better about that.

The new trim looks just as good as it did originally.  The stain is gorgeous!

I contributed two things to this project: picking out the new hardware and picking out the seat fabric.

I really like the new fabric with our bedspread.
Yes, I can keep all of my baby treasures safe once again, but the best part is that Bailey has his spot again.  We keep his bed on the bench seat, and he can hop off and on our bed very easily that way.  He was soooooooooo happy Monday night!

Thank you, Isaac for using your talents to fix Ah-Belle's mess and spoiling our family!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

What I'm loving:

One of my friends from church, Shelley, surprised the tar out of me by becoming a mommy yesterday!  She and her husband Stephen have been wanting to adopt for more than 'just awhile' (try 4 years...).  They had even stopped the process, but I got a text with the most darling picture of Miss Evelyn yesterday.  I can't wait to meet her and eat my heart out on her cuteness.  Check out their amazing story of God's goodness here.

Another one of my nearest and dearest, Michelle, let out her family's secret of baby number 3 on the way.  Yay!  Now I can talk about it and not explode with secrets!  As long as it's her and not me, I can't wait to talk about all things baby again and watch this sweet family grow!

This nail polish by Essie.  It's called Beach Bum Blu.  It's on my fingers and toes at the moment, and I'm possibly a bit obsessed.  It's making me very happy.

I do enjoy cooking, but I really like that church, friends, and family are feeding me three nights this week.  It makes the transition from Spring Break back to the real world a little bit softer. 

I'm also loving that we're really, truly talking about buying our first house by the end of 2012/beginning of 2013.  Like, as long as I find something I like, we'll buy it.  It's so cool!

What are you loving?

Linking up with Jamie.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Rescuers...Gone Texan???

So, we're not in Australia, but we sure seem to rescue a lot of pups here in Texas. I don't know what it is, but Isaac and I seem to attract all of the escapee canines in our neighborhood.  Maybe it's us, maybe it's our house, but they sure seem to find us.  I think in 2 1/2 years, we've reunited at least 7 dogs to their owners.  It's a precious feeling, but I sure wish folks took better care of their pets.

The only time it's frustrating to rescue these sweet pups is when puppy parents don't get collars with tags on their babies.  Please folks, this is oh so important!  One time, Isaac had to drive a dog 20 minutes to a vet to get the microchip read because it had the random kind that most vets don't use anymore, so our vet couldn't get any info off of it.  Turns out the dog lived two streets away, but how were we supposed to know?!

Tonight was a fun rescue, if not a bit chaotic.  We were talking a leisurely stroll when it started to rain.  We picked up our pace, and out of the bushes came three dogs, running right at us.  My momma-bear instinct is to scoop up Bailey and hold him tight when strange dogs head our way.  I know, I know, he's a street dog himself and can handle it, but I don't let him.  Lord help us if we ever have 2 legged children.  Anyway, Aggie Belle doesn't care if dogs are growling and snarling, she still wants to play.  Goosey-loosey!  Thankfully, these three were all very friendly.  I told them to go home, but they just followed us home.  Sheesh.  We got into the garage, out of the rain, to assess our new friends.  We had one boxer, one pit mix puppy, and one corgi/dachshund/something else mix, all three boys.  Each darling guy had a collar, but only one had tags.  I am so thankful they were all good buddies and made sure to stick together so we could get all three returned home.  The rain stopped, so we moved tot he backyard and let Aggie Belle romp and play while we waited on their daddy to come get them.  He happened to be on his way home from out of town, and somehow the dog sitter must have let them out.  Oops.  They were so glad to see their dad when he came home!

Aggie Belle enjoying her new friends.  Gotta love the way dogs greet.  Ha.
While Aggie Belle very much enjoyed meeting her new friends, I would've much preferred to have her meet them in the park.  Folks, dogs do get out, despite your best intentions, so please, keep current tags on them!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Meal Planning Monday

Sunday: Church

Monday: Chicken in Red Wine Sauce

Tuesday: Dinner with choir for me; Isaac's on his own. 

Wednesday: Pork Tenderloin, Mac & Cheese, and Green Beans

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Dinner at the Padillas

Saturday: Brunch at Brenan's...dinner won't be needed.  :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Family Vacation Day 4: Texas A&M University

After one last fabulous breakfast courtesy of Pat (fruit, sausage, eggs, and french toast), we sadly packed up the cabin and headed east to College Station.  We decided it was high time Aggie Belle be properly introduced to her namesake.  See, Bailey is a true Aggie Dog, having been born, raised, and rescued from the Brazos Valley area.  Aggie Belle isn't as blessed, but her names is a weak attempt to make up for her lack of maroon roots.

I love the drive down Highway 21; this time of year it's especially pretty with fields and fields of horses, cattle, and wildflowers.  The pups slept the whole way down the road, but they were ready to jump out when we pulled up to the Bush Library.

The field in front of the Bush Library is typically full of bluebonnets this time of year, and this year was no disappointment.  Aggie Belle channeled her inner Barbara Bush and posed in the blue abyss with a strand of pearls (totally fake, from the dollar aisle at Target).  She is just stunning-all of her grey against the blue and green of the field.  And yes, pearls quite become her!  Bailey is an old bluebonnet posing pro by now, and was quite well behaved.

After a successful, if not horribly windy, photo shoot, we headed to our beloved Research Park in West Campus for a stroll.  Bailey and I spent hours and hours in the two and half years we were together at A&M.  It certainly seemed that Bailey remembered right where he was, even though we hadn't been for a visit since September of '08.  Aggie Belle loved Research Park too.  We really do need to make a point of getting up there more often.

Before heading home, we made a pitstop at Blue Baker so I could get my Blue Baker fix...yum!!  I'm starting to think this week was more about food than the dogs!  We ate as we drove home, and now we're all crashed into a heap on the couch, trying to recover from our 'relaxing vacation'.  Honestly, this has been one fabulous trip, but we did run ourselves ragged.  I sure hope we make it back this fall to visit our new friends!

Tips if you visit Decker Creek:
~Bring a plastic sack to pack up dirty/wet clothes.
~Plan on taking one or two outfits to be mud clothes for the week.  There is no sense in getting all that's packed muddy!
~Small dogs need to bring a their life vests from home.  There are vests for larger dogs provided.
~Don't worry about packing towels, blankets, shampoo, bowls, or crates for the pups. They are all provided.
~Check the local events in Austin; if something big is going on, don't even think about heading into the city.  Oh, my, I'm so glad we didn't try with SXSW happening this week.
~Eat dinner at the local places recommended by Pat and Byron...yum!
~Breakfast is HUGE, and I'm always hungry, but we never ate lunch a single day we were there.
~Don't go if you don't like mud, dirt, or sweat. I happen to not mind those three and I ADORE vacations where t-shirts, ponytails, and mascara are the wardrobe choice of the day.  :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Family Vacation Part 3: Decker Creek Bed, Breakfast, and Biscuit

Today's plan had been to leave the dogs and go horseback riding, but after another amazing breakfast from Pat (pancakes, sausage, and eggs), all four of us were too tired to go out.

We had a lazy morning, enjoying the breeze and clouds before taking a 2 hour tromp through the back 30 acres of the property.  This included scaling across a fallen tree to cross the swollen creek.  Bailey had no problem getting over, but Aggie Belle couldn't maneuver the huge branches still sticking straight up the trunk.  She managed to swim across just fine though.  :)  The property is fenced, so we never had to fear getting lost, but there were a few branches, mud pits, and fire ants that kept us on our toes.  I don't think the pups minded one bit.  They blazed the trail several times.  Bailey even went swimming...again!  These two are so adventurous!  I love getting to go hiking with them-and then crashing into a relaxing nap with them too!
Splashing in the creek.

Trail blazzing

Deciding if they want to jump in.

This is where Aggie Belle had to turn back on the old tree.  She couldn't get over those two branches.  Swimming is a great alternative!

Part of our trail this afternoon.
This evening Isaac and I got the creek mud washed off and headed into Downtown Manor to the weekly farmers' market.  Manor is home to about 5,000, so the farmers' market is equally small, but the selection was fabulous!  I'm now wishing I had more than one cooler so I could have bought meat and eggs to take home tomorrow.  I had to settle  for a bunch of the sweetest carrots I've ever tasted, a jar of apple butter, some strawberry preserves, and a bag of homemade noodles.  I can't wait to taste it all!  For dinner, we headed to the Good Luck Grill...super tasty food and awesome decor!

I don't think anyone wants to go home tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Family Vacation Part 2: Cook's Canoes

We woke up today to clouds, but Pat had a fabulous egg and cheese souffle, bacon, and sweet potato fries.  Yum!  The dogs were invited to breakfast, and Mrs. Pat made sure to sneak all of the pups some bacon tidbits.  Such spoiled babies!  Aggie Belle was in puppy bliss wrastlin' and playing around the table and in the yard with Razr and Beau.  Shiva isn't too fond of dogs that aren't street dogs, so she stayed in the bedroom.

After breakfast, we packed up a cooler with some water and granola, and headed down the road to Cook's Canoes.  The BBB isn't far from the Colorado River, and Mr. Cook seems to be making a fine living running a very redneck (but totally legit!) Aggie canoe service.  They brought a canoe down to the bank for us, and made sure we had a good map to know when our 5 mile trek was up.  If we didn't get out at the park, we were stuck on the river for an extra 15 thanks!  The river was flowing well, and it is absolutely gorgeous!  We had a bit of a south wind blowing against us, be we still never had to paddle too hard.  There were even a few small rapids on our stretch of river that made for a few 'weeeeee' moments with the pups.

A taste of our beautiful scenery

Bailey began in my lap; I think he was still tired from yesterday, so he slept until our first stop.  There are several islands on the river that make for great exploration stops.  We made three stops to let the pups run, chase sticks, and of course, swim.  I honestly didn't think Bailey would get in the river, but every time I turned around, there he was, belly deep in the water.  He was NOT about to be left out of the fun.  He's still not going to chase sticks, but he'll swim with the best of them.  Bailey amazes me with his tenacity consider how babied he is at home.  I think this Momma needs to loosen up and let her boy be a boy!  After that first stop, he hung out in the middle of the canoe, mostly rest his head on the side so he could ensure he wasn't going to miss a single thing.
Enjoying our first stop
Catching the sights.
Cooling off
About to head out from one of our stops

Aggie Belle wanted to jump out of the canoe to swim most of the river, but we didn't let her unless we were stopped.  She was well behaved, and made sure she found every stick possible to chase, throw, and gnaw.  I love the energy this sweet girl has.  She keeps us on her toes and reminds to enjoy each second of every day.
The breeze smells good!


After we made it back to Decker Creek, we took a jaunt to the creek before cleaning up for dinner.  I don't know how these pups had energy for it, but they weren't going to get in the shower until they'd seen the creek!  We went to Donn's BBQ so the pups could come with us.  Very tasty!  The chimenea was used to make smores just now too.  Yum, yum!  We are loving our family vacation!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Family Vacation Part 1: Decker Creek Bed, Breakfast, and Biscuit

We have traveled to Manor, TX to have a much needed, relaxing vacation at Decker Creek Bed, Breakfast, and Biscuit.  This place is smack in the middle of rolling, green, Texas hill country, and they cater to the dogs!  Our cabin is outfitted with everything the pups need, and everything we need too!

Last week was awfully rainy, so the water is still a bit high in places near the creek bed, but we had a phenomenal time exploring this afternoon.  There are bluebonnets in blume here, and we saw tons and tons of wildflowers on the drive up here.  Our canine hosts, Beau, Razor, and Shiva (a rescue from Bahrain!), helped show Bailey and Aggie Belle all the ropes of the 50 acres they have to explore the next few days.  All of the dogs enjoyed munching the wild onion.  Aggie Belle is now a creek swimming pro!  And, there are lots of broken branches and sticks lying around for Aggie Belle to enjoy.  What a treat!

Bailey just-a running!


Swimming away!

There is a reason why Byron and Pat had outdoor showers with hot and cold water in the backyard of the two cabins here: lots and lots of muddy puppies!  Both of our babies decided it would be oh so much fun to roll and roll in mushy, squishy mud pits.  Lovely!  Hey, we're on vacation, and I wasn't about to stop them from having fun! 
Bailey's muddy back.

And the front.
We grilled steaks for dinner tonight...yummy charcoal flavor.  Then we made s'mores, and now we're watching the season finale of Bachelor.  I DESPISE this show, but some how, some way, my so not into trash TV husband got into this season, so I'm appeasing him since it's the finale.  I think he just can't fathom how any guy can be so shallow.  Girls, he gets, but a guy, not so much.  Ha. The jokes the past three weeks have been endless!  We'll have to have some serious confession and repentence after tonight.  Then, no more TV this week! 

What are you doing for Spring Break?

Meal Planning Monday

Sunday: Church

Monday: Steak, potatoes, carrots, and s'mores

Tuesday-Thursday: Kitchen Closed

Friday: Out to Ruggles to use a gift card

Saturday: Out with friends

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo: Reba

One of the great things about living in Houston is the Livestock Show and Rodeo that comes each winter/spring.  Three solid weeks of ranch demonstrations, emus, ostriches, cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, chickens, turkey, goats, llamas, and alpacas, fabulous bbq, winery competitions, and of course, bronc and bull riding.  I have loved it since my first one at age 5.  I really was born into the wrong family, but that's another story....

This year we of course visited the birthing center to see the newest calves, ewes and rams, and piglets.  So much cutness in one small area!  We had some fabulous BBQ from our favorite Goode & Co, and tried chocolate dipped cheesecake on a stick.  Yum! 

Friday also happened to be one of the rainiest days in weeks, so we skipped the carnival and headed in to Reliant in time to see the entry parade.  It just so happened to be Aggie recognition day at the Rodeo, and Daddy Bush and Barbara let the wagon parade.  Such a treat!  We had fantastic seats to watch all the action.  I love the barrel races, maybe because I could see myself doing that someday.  But, my favorite event is the mutton bustin' that was brought in a few years ago.  The little kiddos hanging on for dear life to the back of a sheep make me laugh so hard!  Adorable!

Rain garb is covering our fun rodeo garb.  :(

8 seconds...

I remember my first Reba concert when I was in elementary school.  I loved it, and I've always made it back.  Reba has been here many times since this, but this was the first year I've managed to catch it since I last saw her rockin' the stage in sparkly purple!  Reba owns the stage, and really the whole arena.  She rocks! 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Meal Planning Monday

Sunday: Church

Monday: Grilled Pork Chops, Grean Beans, and Salad

Wednesday: Bullitoni Tortellini

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Rodeo

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Little Mermaid: Ariel Birthday Cake

 **If you've found this post helpful, please click the blue 'join this site' button on the right hand side of the screen.  Then check back for more awesome cake ideas from my super talented husband!  Thank you for visiting!**

Isaac was asked to make a Little Mermaid cake for a friend's birthday.  The only stipulation was that Rylee asked for a plastic Ariel on her cake.  So much for creativity!  I still think this cake turned out oh so cute!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy Birthday, Bailey!

I can't believe I brought my little man home 7 years ago today.  Best guess from the vets is that he's 9 year old now.  Don't anyone tell me a pet is 'just an animal'.  Bailey has brought more love, joy, and scares into this family than I could have ever imagined.

Bailey decided that Aggie Belle could NOT give him night-night kisses last night and snipped her lip.  Since I'm attending TMSA in Galveston the rest of this week, and since our conference today doesn't begin until 1:00, the three of us spent until 8:00 this morning cuddling in the big bed to offer apologies from last night.  Growling tummies finally forced out of bed, but then we went on a leisurely birthday walk for the birthday boy.  Now that Aggie Belle has a harness that she likes and is over a year old, I can walk both dogs all by my big girl self, and it's a wonderful thing!  It's a warm, misty day in Houston, but we didn't care.  We've had so much rain lately that the ground is lush and green again.

On our way to the creek, we found the tiniest red-eared slider I'd ever seen.  He was just a bit bigger than a quarter.  Bailey sniffed Mr. Turtle; Aggie Belle licked Mr. Turtle.  Mr. Turtle quickly ducked into his pint-sized shell and just barely let me see his little eyes.  I scooped him up and we marched down to Turtle Bridge, so named because it cross the creek and all the turtles congregate there each evening.  One or two turtles were down there already, so I set Mr. Turtle on the edge of the grassy bank.  Hopefully he survives.

The rest of our walk was spent thanking God for the green grass, the mist, and the flowers.  On our way home, we spied the first of the bluebonnets already blooming on our street.  Woohoo!

For dinner, Bailey got to watch a whole pan of scrambled eggs cook.  I even let him lick the spoon.  Eh, it's his birthday; he's allowed!  He and Aggie Belle enjoyed their special dinner, and we all had extra fun play time tonight.  We love you, Sweet Boy!

I love Aggie Belle's nose in this photo.

Yum, yum!

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