Thursday, May 30, 2013

TAHG Comes to an End

For the better part of five years, I've been a part of my school district's Teaching American History Grant.  There are lots of posts about our travels in June 2011 and July 2012 posts.  TAHG is federally funded, but like all good things (and especially those proposed by the government) it had to come to an end.  I have made so many friends in these years.  I've learned and grown as a teacher and very much enjoyed having people in my life that understand history jokes and puns.  I have traveled from Selma to Montgomery, sat in Martin Luther King Jr's kitchen at his breakfast table and stood at his pulpit, spoken with true leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, and walked through the hallowed halls of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.  I've walked through Jamestown, explore Jefferson's inventions at Monticello, walked the river banks of Washington's Mount Vernon, and spent an evening watching the sunset while chasing fireflies and sitting on Madison's Montpelier steps. I sat on the embankments of Ft. McHenry and felt the sweltering heat of the muggy Maryland summer without a breeze, imagining what 1812 was like with the British closing in on the fort.  I've been to D.C. twice and soaked up more experiences of wars, political intrigue, rock star legends, cuddly pandas, Abe, and Kennedy than one little blog post can handle.  I've been to Philadelphia and walked in the steps of the dedicated minds that set up a government that they hoped would last the test of time.  I've walked through Seneca Falls, remembering the struggle for women to be recognized as equals in mind and status.  I heard the echos of millions who entered our nation through Ellis Island, holding tight to all that Lady Liberty promised as they clung to her image and began new lives.  I felt the tremble of NYC from 9/11 as I circled Ground Zero.  I squinted in the bright lights of Time Square and rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous on Broadway and at Suddies.  I strolled through Central Park, lost in the scenes of families at play.  I climbed the steps of a tenement building, hearing the aches and groans of those who struggled to own the American Dream.  I pretended to be in a league of my own in Cooperstown.  I tasted the spray of Niagara Falls.  I sat on FDR's porch at Top Cabin and felt the cool morning mountain breeze.  I learned to weave on a loom at Lowell Mills and walked through the loudest factory imaginable.  I rocked below deck on the USS Constitution, pretended to be Chief Slapaho (inside history pun...) fighting off the British during the Boston Tea Party, followed the path to American Freedom, and dined on lobster in Boston.  I listened to the silence at Valley Forge and Gettysburg, letting that silence tell the stories of all those lost as our nation fought to be born and later fought to be saved.  The ache of agony at Appomattox Courthouse is still strong. I fell in love with America these last 5 years. 

Wednesday night was our celebration dinner of all that was accomplished in these years thanks to the faithfulness of Patti, our grant coordinator.  She made sure we were never bored (her ears and sanity depended on it), had the BEST docents and lecturers and profs in the country, and encouraged us to keep using the tools we learned in new ways with our students.  Thank you, Patti!
Natashia, Sara, and me
Patti with the t-shirt quilt we accumulated on our travels.  The background fabric is from Lowell Mills.

Katy singing us one more song.

The one and only Patti!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I love that my parents return home from their cruise today.  It's been a month since I've seen them, and I've only had one phone call and three text messages.  Not gonna fly, folks!  I love all the dear, precious, wonderful women though who have stepped up to be my surrogate moms while my mom was gone.  Every gal should feel so loved, well checked-on, and held accountable spiritually.  You ladies know who you are.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Dad and Mom living it up in a local restuarant not frequented by the tourists of Rome.

I love my shorter hair.  Scroll down a bit to see a pic.  I can flip it out, straighten it, sweep it's awesome.  I always try and grow it out, but I have just got to accept that for my fine, thin hair, short is best. 

I love that we leave two weeks from tomorrow for Zambia.  My upstairs looks like a natural disaster zone with eight suitcases open and donations everywhere.  I'm also loving Ziplock Space Saver Bags for helping me fit all of this into 8 suitcases.  Oh, and there's way more than what would fit in one photo.  My friends have been incredibly generous!

I loved World Feast Day with my GT kids yesterday.  What a treat!  I forgot to take pictures of their delicacies, but they were excellent.  We ate food from Mozambique, China, India, Japan, England, Switzerland, Hungary, Russia, Mexico, Canada, the American Civil War Era, France, Sweden, and more.  Yum!!

I love my Jesus!

What are you loving this week?

Linking up with Jamie.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

BarkBox Review May

Oh, Bailey and Aggie Belle have learned that the postman now brings things for them, and they get so excited to see if the newest box is for them!

This is only our 2nd BarkBox, but it did not disappoint!

 Being a NASA family, we loved this cute little comic that was in the box.  Our pups would probably say the same thing about the moon!

We order the large breed box since Aggie Belle is the only one interested in toys.  Most of the treats can be broken into smaller chunks for Bailey, so everyone ends up happy.  Both dogs went after Bocce Bakery's Green Juice Cookies ($9.50). They really did smell wonderful, and I know with all those great ingredients, they're healthy snacks too.  I only wish I could convince myself to always eat as healthy as I feed my dogs!

 The Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Orbee Ball ($14.45) is awesome!  First, I love that it's a globe (I'll never be able to stop being a geography teacher), and Aggie Belle loves that it fits all her kibble for play time instead of meal time. 

Barkworthies sells awesome chews and bones for dogs.  We had some items from them last month, and Aggie Belle was thrilled.  This month we received a pig femur, and it was immediately deemed an outside treat that she devoured in one evening.  Yum!  These sell in a bag of 20 for $84 so our one cost $4.20.

The Grill-icious Treats ($8) are huge beef cookies that both pups have enjoyed.  They don't smell the best, but I'm not the one whose opinion matters here! 

 Total, our box was valued at $36.15, but our monthly subscription is only $18!  Wow!  These two give two paws up!

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Little Taste of Summer

Ok, so for us, summer doesn't start for another two weeks, but this weekend was a perfect taste of what is in store in the coming months.  And of course I was enjoying myself too much to take many pictures.  Le sigh.

Friday I chopped off a bunch of my hair.  I know poor Isaac loves it long, but it was time.  It might get shorter before summer ends.  For now, it's out of my face but long enough for a pony tail while we're in Zambia.

Saturday morning we went jet skiing.  This was my first time ever out on Clear Lake, and I've lived here most of my life.  That's pathetic for this water loving girl.  Anyway, I'm hooked on jet skis now.  I love the speed and thrill and sense of being absolutely free.  The only thing better is a wind driven sail boat.  Love!!

I spent my afternoon with my friend Michelle and her kiddos.  We visited and ran errands and just had fun.  Can summer come very quickly so I have more time to do things like this?!

Sunday afternoon was spent with my grandparents at the Houston Museum of Natural Science seeing their Faberge exhibit and the new Egyptian exhibit that is permanent.  We had a fabulous time, and I loved getting to share my knowledge of Russian history with my family.  For once, both exhibits allowed photography, and I ate that up.  No flashes, but I'll take what I can get.  My students are going to love seeing these!

The XB means Chris is Risen

Just a brief peek of the dozens and dozens of artifacts in the Egyptian exhibit.  There are also several mummies!
Today, our friends Tim and Ashley had a looooooong lunch with us at Tookies.  What a blast catching up with dear friends that we never get to see enough anymore.  What a treat!

Come on, summer!

Meal Planning Monday

Sunday: Fajitas at my grandparents

Monday: Homemade Egg McMuffins (one of favorites any time of the day!) and fresh fruit

Tuesday: Fruity Chicken Salad on lettuce

Wednesday: TAHG Wrap Party at La Brisa

Thursday: Ravioli with Salad

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Pearland with the family

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I am usually a traditionalist when it comes to dance.  Contemporary and modern dance just aren't my thing.  However, Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough had me in awe on Monday night and again last night during their encore.  Oh, my, word.  Just beautiful.  I love this dance, and it makes me miss my dancing days.

I love that one week from today my parents will be home from their cruise and I can finally talk to my mom again.  What a loooooooooong month! 

I love that three weeks from tomorrow, we leave for Zambia.  My countdown is getting shorter and shorter!

I loved our Chamber Singers' Spring Concert this past Sunday.  It was a beautiful evening of worship, made even more special as we remembered our friend Cindy.  She suddenly passed away 3 weeks ago, and we dedicated our concert to her years and years of service to music ministry. 
I love my Jesus!

What are you loving this week?

Linking up with Jamie

Monday, May 20, 2013

Meal Planning Monday

Sunday: Church

Monday: Grilled Pork Chops, Sweet Potatoes, and Corn

Tuesday: Grilled Chicken and Salad

Wednesday: Chicken Spaghetti from the freezer

Thursday: Ravioli and Salad

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Leftovers

Cousin Visit!

Layla (1), Aggie Belle (2), and Bailey (10)

Layla is our 'niece', and just turned a year old last week.  She had her first sleepover at our house this weekend.  David and Laura went out of town, and with all of the grandparents out of town, we finally got to have this bundle of fluffy energy come stay with us!  Aggie Belle loves everybody, so she was thrilled to have her cousin come stay for two nights.  Bailey, well, Bailey tolerates a lot these days, so I'm proud of him for putting up with all the WWE matches the girls had every waking moment.  Layla did so well away from her mommy and daddy.  Apparently she doesn't always like to sleep when she's away from home, but she was beyond perfect both nights.  She cuddled down in her open crate in next to Aggie Belle's bed, and off to dream land she went.  Isaac is such a great dog trainer, and had her doing tricks and learning new things in no time.  I think it helped her immensely that she had Aggie Belle as an example too.  Layla also learned how to share and never minded it a bit.  Now I want David and Laura to go out of time all the time so we can have more cousin adventures with these three.  Maybe next time we'll brave the beach.  Ha.  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Happy 40th Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Papa and Mama (my maternal granddad's parents), Mom, Dad, Nanny and Dede (my  mom's parents) May 19, 1973
40 years ago today, my parents were married.  They are such a fabulous couple, and they've raised us well.  They've taught us to put Jesus first, to work hard, and to appreciate what we have.  And, they're passion for travel definitely transferred to their kids.  I'm so glad that's something we all share!

Dad decided about a year ago that it was time to take Mom on a huge trip.  They left April 28th on the Ruby Princess out of Ft. Lauderdale.  After sailing across the Atlantic, they had several stops in Gibraltar, Spain, France, and Italy before staying on the ship for it's next itinerary across the Med to Turkey, Greece, Croatia, and a few more stops in Italy.  They'll be home May 28th.  Wow.  It's a much deserved trip, and I'm so glad God has granted them this opportunity.  We get emails from Dad just about daily, and I think my favorite stop to hear about was when they went to Ephesus.  To see pictures of where Paul preached and John the Baptist was born was just fabulous!

Happy Anniversary, Mommy and Daddy!  Here's to many, many more!
Mykonos, Greece

The flowers Isaac, David, Laura, and I had delivered to Mom and Dad today.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Thursday Night Out

Now that most of my friends have children, "Thursday Night Out" means something completely different than when I was at Aggieland.  Ha.  Honestly, I wouldn't trade babysitting nights for anything.  It's a joy to be the one not with kids so that I can bless others with my empty, very open arms when my friends need or want a night out for any reason.  I am so content in this role and really have no desire for it to change anytime soon.  I wish more of my friends with little loves lived closer so I could help them more too.  Now that makes my heart ache-to be willing but unable to help.

These 4 have been apart of our lives for so long it's hard to remember time without Madisyn hugs.  How in the world it happened that they are now 9 1/2, 3, and 7 months is beyond me, but I'm grateful for play time with them!  A night full of Candyland, pizza, loads and loads of books, and more giggles than I can count was just perfect!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What I'm Loving Wednesday

One month from right now my arms will be full of love.  Isaac will finally see what I mean by red dirt.  I'll be surrounded by family and friends and ready to be Jesus' hands and feet for three weeks.  A month seems so short, and yet, it can't get here soon enough!!

I'm loving Almond Naturally More Almond Butter.  I've been putting it on bananas, apples, trading it out for peanut butter in PBJs, and pairing it with a sliced banana and multi-grain waffle.  Yum!

I love that Isaac and I treated ourselves to ice cream last night simply because we ate ALL the veggies I cooked.  I sometimes still struggle with textures of my foods, especially certain veggies.  I know veggies are good for me, and I want to eat them.  But sometimes, it's just dang hard.  The taste rarely gets me; it really is just textures.  That's pretty pathetic for a 28 year old, but that's how it is.  Last night was one of those hard nights, so we declared it time to use a Sonic gift card I'd received from a student.  :)

I love that buying tickets to go see Josh Groban was such a complete flashback to high school.  Ha.  I realized that the first CD of his I bought was from 2001.  Twelve years later, I'm still buying his music, and apparently spending ridiculous amounts of money to take my mom and grandparents to go see him in November.  Isaac isn't a fan, so he'll be at home with the pups.  I personally think Isaac's just a tad jealous that I always claimed Joshie-Poo was my 2nd choice for a husband (the joke was that the first choice was whoever I married...).  Mom and I went to see Josh in August of 2004.  It was a hot, sticky, muggy night, but oh so fun!  November 12th will be a great night too!

I love that my parents' month long cruise is officially half over.  Not getting to talk with my mom for this long is doing me in!  I've never gone more than a day or two without texting, emailing, calling, or seeing my mom. This has been emotional torture!  It does look like they're having fun though!  Sunday will be their 40th anniversary.  :)

Kaitlin has been a dear friend since 2005.  Her now husband was a friend from high school, and he knew she and I both suffered from endometriosis and thought we needed each other.  He was right.  Anyway, thanks to the Army, we haven't seen each other in something like five years.  She texted this week that she'll be in town to see Josh's family this summer, and the visit won't overlap with Zambia.  Alleluia!  Let the good times roll (as we poke the baby rolls on her two munchkins!)!

I love my Jesus!

What are you loving this week?

Linking up with Jamie.

Monday, May 13, 2013

KSBJ 30th Anniversary Concert

KSBJ is our Christian radio station.  It has served our city well for 30 years now.  KSBJ started as a radio station wanting to bring Christ's love to the city through the growing genre of Christian music.  It is supported fully by listeners, but has grown to now have several satellite stations, and rock station called NGEN, and served to support and help grow Christian radio stations all around the world.  They chose to celebrate their 30th anniversary by hosting a multi-artist concert on Saturday night, and they underwrote a lot of it to keep ticket prices as low as possible.  What a treat!

Isaac and I decided it'd been fun to take as many of the teens in our Sunday School class as wanted to go, and we managed to get a lot of their parents to come too.  In all, 22 of us (7 6th graders, 3 7th graders, and 3 8th graders...I love middle school kids!) headed out to hear some of our favorite artists.  King and Country (little brothers to Rebeccas St. James for you teens of the 90s) opened the show.  I really enjoy their music.  Their sister taught them well.

Chris August then took the stage.  He's great, and a staple on the radio these days.

Chris was followed by Family Force 5.  FFF is a little too hard core for me.  Oh well.  The orange pants through us too.  Um...gentlemen, skinny pants on men are NEVER attractive.  Please stop trying to look like girls.  Thanks.

Then Francesca Battesteli brought diction back to the stage with her set.  We all like her, and she makes us all smile.

Amy Grant made a surprise appearance.  While she's not my favorite human being ever, she's a great artist, and I enjoyed hearing songs from when I was younger than the kids who were with us.  Um...that made me feel old.  She made me cry when she sang a Rich Mullins staple.  I can't wait to hear Rich's new music in Heaven.  I miss his talent on this earth so very often.

Switchfoot brought things back up a notch.  I really, really like those guys.  Such powerful lyrics.

The second 'surprise' (he ruined it by making a public appearance earlier in the day at Cracker Barrel...hehehe) was my own personal favorite Steven Curtis Chapman.  I've written about him and his amazing family for years.  Steven did an acoustic set too, so I marched my little self right down the hill to be just 50 feet or so from the small stage for his songs.  Just joy.  So much joy.  Thanks, sir, for using your whole life to minister to others through all God gives you.

The night ended with a sermon that was awesome by a guy whose name I didn't catch and then a beautiful worship set by MercyMe.

I am so grateful to parents who trust Isaac and me with their kids.  We enjoy fellowship with them as much as we enjoy teaching them.

Meal Planning Monday

Sunday: Church

Monday: Longhorn Steakhouse (didn't make it there a few weeks ago)

Tuesday: Russian Chicken, Rice, and Sweet Potatoes

Wednesday: Tuna Salad on Salad

Thursday: Babysitting

Friday: Pearland

Saturday: Grilled Chicken and Veggies

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

My family is scattered this month, with Mom and Dad all over the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, so we've had a few celebration's this weekend.  David, Laura, Nanny, and Dede came to our house Friday for steaks and all the fixins'.  It was so much fun to sit, let the dogs play, and visit.  What a treat for all of us.

Nanny and Dede took Isaac and me to lunch today after church for another celebration.  It's always a treat to just be with them.  We just talked.  So simple, but so needed.

Mom received a spa gift card from us while on the ship, and then Dad had cards from us to give her as well.  We haven't heard much from them, and that's starting to wear on me.  Here they are, on one of the most advanced, fancy ships on the seas, and can't hardly get an email to us.  When we go to Zambia next month, I'll be able to email, call, and text daily.  The irony here is not lost on me.  This gal needs her mommy!

Oh, and my babies surprised me with my first Kindle for our trip to Zambia!

Happy Mother's Day to my Mommy and Nanny (from Nov. '02)

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