Monday, June 29, 2015

Garth Brooks World Tour

Growing up, Mom always made sure we heard a healthy dose of Abba and the Beach Boys.  I'm sure there were other bands too, but that's what I remember.  Dad, on the other hand, would have us singing along with The Judds, Reba, Vince Gill, and Brooks and Dunn.  But mostly, Dad had us twirling and singing to Garth Brooks.  When the man released an album, Dad bought it, and we learned it.  I have silly memories of my brother and me spinning in circles in the living room until we fell over from dizziness while "Papa Loved Mama" was echoing through the house.

For whatever reason, none of us made it to a Garth Brooks concert in those days.  There were opportunities; I remember him being in Houston.  Probably there was a mentality of, "Oh, he'll be back in a few months." When he announced his retirement, we were a bit crushed that we had missed our chance.

Fast-forward 18 years, and one morning found me receiving an email with confirmed tour dates to Houston with Garth and Trisha Yearwood for EIGHT shows.  I still can't believe the man played 2 shows a night for two weekends, but he did.  There was no way I wanted to go to that concert without my brother, and we made it happen. 

Garth's show did not disappoint.  It was everything it should've been and then some.  With the exception of two songs from his new album, we knew every song that was played.  It was like a sing-a-long for 18,000 people.  Trisha still has it too.  What a treat.  

I could've stayed all night listening to these songs live.  It was completely a childhood dream come true to hear the soundtracks of childhood on the big stage. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Man Cub: 11 Months

Sweet Boy,

Your personality blooms more each day.  You are a joyful baby, and you bring smiles to everyone who makes eye contact with you.  I love that you engage with strangers when we go places because they just light up and grin so big when they interact with you.  Keep it up, buddy!  You love to go, go, go, but you still love to cuddle and sit in my lap to read a book.  Keep that up too!  Daddy and I pray each day that you love Jesus with all that you are and seek Him always.  We love you!

You are sleeping a solid 10-11 hours each night without waking up.  Yay!!!  We all love uninterrupted sleep!  Morning naps and afternoon naps of 1.5-2.5 hours are still pretty normal for you too.  You like your sleep, and Daddy and I like our sleep, so we're all happy people. 

We let you try almost anything these days, except sweets.  We went for hibachi one night, and you ate shrimp, steak, and all of the veggies.  Still, you aren't a big meat fan.  I'm still making your food, though you eat organic pouches if we go out.  Lately, if food is on my plate, you want it, so I often just put what I want you to eat on my plate so you'll eat it.  Easy as that!  You also like your purees in reusable pouches more than on a spoon.  I'm anxious to see if you'll like more chunky type foods when you get some more teeth.  More and more possibilities open to your little taste buds all the time, and there isn't too much that you flat out refuse.  Thank goodness!  Please be a good little eater always!

Oh, wow, Baby, you have so much fun playing!  You can drink through a straw now, and your favorite cup is Mommy's Tervis tumbler.  You are officially a walker, but you still like crawling because you are faster.  I love watching you take a few steps and build your confidence though.  We see you becoming more and more brave each day.  You still like running your push toys around the house or up the driveway.  We gave you your birthday present early, a pirate ship splash table, and you love it!  Daddy has been teaching you swim lessons almost daily.  You've mastered a front float and spider crawl on the wall, and you're working on a back float.  You love to splash and be in the water.  You stand on your tip-toes to reach things.  You can figure out how to put simple puzzle pieces in their places.  You have 7 teeth!!

Water (being in it and drinking it in a cup), the dogs, reading, singing, your nursery class at church, your family, playing with your friends, stroller rides, being in the carrier (despite the heat), sleeping, climbing the stairs, all of the same things you've been loving!

Chunks in your purees, most meat, being too sleepy or hungry

11 Month Stats:
Weight: 18 pounds, 14 ounces
Length:  29 inches
Eating: nursing/breast milk bottles 6:40 am, 9:30, and 7:30 pm; breakfast around 7:30, lunch around 11:15, and dinner around 5:30.
Bedtime: between 7:45-8:00
Awake: sometime between 6:15-7:00
Naps: usually 9:45 and 2:00. 
Diapers: Size 3
Clothes: size  6-12 and 9 months onesies; size 6 months and 9 months pants/shorts; 6-12 and 9 months rompers.  You're just sleeping in onesies now for pjs because it's so warm.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Cousin Fun

It only took us 10.5 months to make it happen, but we finally had 9 days for these 3 to be together.  Can you spy Man Cub's little face in his mirror?  The kids were so incredibly excited to meet each other and the girls were thrilled to get to come to Houston for a week.

Last week was UBC's VBS, so the girls enjoyed learning about God's power in the mornings while the baby slept.  That left our afternoons free for adventures.

Monday was rainy as Tropical Storm Bill was trying to decide where he was headed, but we headed to the zoo anyway.  We circled the zoo twice before we called it a day.  The kids were able to feed giraffes, watch the gorillas play tag, blow kisses back and forth with a chimp, find the tigers in their forest, peek at the lions, and watch sun bears climb trees.  We escaped into a few of the buildings to see some smaller critters when the rain came down, but we had a great day!

Everything came to a halt on Tuesday because the media spun Bill out of proportion.  He never brought us a deluge, though we did get rain.  Still, we spent the morning shopping at target and then the girls spent the afternoon building a fort so they could watch movies during the heavier storms that arrived.  We also made homemade cupcakes (yummy strawberry!) and pizza for dinner.  Uncle Isaac thought he'd keep us giggling by dressing up silly and judging a burping contest.  It's what uncles and daddies do, right?!

Wednesday actually was our super rainy day, and let's just say all VBSs everywhere need to come up with a plan to keep moms with babies who don't get to go to VBS from having to drag them out in th rain to pick up kids.  I'm all for safety, but I saw countless moms juggling huge umbrellas and multiple children during crazy wind and heavy rain.  Just not cool.  Come on churches, get your thinking caps on-there's a solution, I'm sure!

We braved the afternoon storms and headed to Space Center Houston.  It'd been awhile since the girls had last visited.  I needed to renew my spouse support badge so I wouldn't have to pay (there are a few perks for being married to a government employee), so we stopped at the badge office first.  The sweet gal working that day gave all three kiddos special little visitor badges.  They technically don't need them as minors, but they all thought they were so official and important with their cute little NASA badges.  If it hadn't been pouring so hard, I would've taken them around on site a bit, but I just wanted to get in the visitor's center and get dry!  Uncle Isaac came with us for a while.  The girls were very interested in all of the science and living in space shows this visit.  I think they were too little to care much last time.  Both little ladies thought liquid nitrogen was pretty cool, and it is!  They also had fun walking around like astronauts floating in space.  Too cute!  Man Cub took a great nap and climbed on a few space ships.

Didn't realize until we got home that my childhood best friend's dad photo bombed us in the background.  This stuff just doesn't phase us.  Sigh.  I best I could juggle in zero G too!
The next day was spent helping me replant aloe.  Anyone local need some?  It multiplies like bunnies, and I can't keep up with it all.  My little artistic nieces painted pots so they could take some home too. 

For dinner, we headed to Ichibon, one of the girls' favorite places  Apparently Man Cub loves it too!  He ate more of my shrimp and steak than I did!  Then we hit up the Kemah Boardwalk for a spin around the ferris wheel and carousel.  It was a gorgeous evening, and it was great to be out on the water.

We said goodbye to VBS and new friends on Friday.  The girls had a great week with sweet teachers and awesome kiddos who embraced these little visitors 

In the afternoon, Isaac and I took the girls out jet skiing.  They thought it was so cool Uncle Isaac had bought a banged up jet ski and made it work again.  It still isn't the prettiest thing ever, but it purrs like a kitten and is all ours for treating friends to fun on the lake and bay.  I grew up in KY being 'lake people', and it's good to be back in the water.  The lake was a little rough still from all the storms, but we had a blast.  Isaac treated the girls to fireworks in Kemah that night.  I think they had a great date included glow sticks and glow jewelery.  That's important stuff right there!

Isaac made a grocery run on Saturday morning, and all of his girls received a special treat when he came home.  He thinks of everything and certainly know how to make us all feel loved and cherished! 

The rest of the day was spent at Palm Beach in Galveston.  We had fun with water slide races, floating the lazy river, and playing in the sand.  Man Cub did great!

Sunday was special because Bridget had gotten in late the night before.  The girls were glad to see their mommy, and I was glad for some much needed big girl time!  Ha.    We made sure to take some pretty pictures in the prayer garden after church.  I always think it makes a perfect back drop.

We grilled burgers for lunch after church, and then hit the lake again.  Bridget had to learn how to jet ski too!  We all had so much fun to coasting over the water. The water was almost like glass, and it felt like flying.  Unfortunately we were too busy enjoying our freedom to remember to take pictures. Isaac and I usually have to take turns so someone is with the baby, but this trip we were able to go out together while Auntie Bridget entertain the little guy.  So grateful!  Dinner at Chuy's rounded out a pretty perfect Father's Day, according to Isaac.

Auntie Bridget and the girls had to pack up to head home Monday afternoon after a full morning of playing.  So, so grateful for these three and how God stitches families together.  I had no idea what all this would look like back when I was 11 and my family grew, but I'm more in love with it all the time.  We had a great week full of silliness, girl talk, and love.  

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day

This darling man wows us each day with his silly antics, caring words, diligent leadership, and thoughtfulness.  Isaac is an incredible father, and we love him so much!

We actually celebrated last week when we were all together.  There's a new little French cafe down the street from our house called La Poz.  It was amazing! The staff adored Man Cub, and he was brought an origami hat, extra straws, and even a mini fruit tart as a special treat.

These guys make my world go round, and I am so grateful for each one of them. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015


I woke up this morning, blissfully unaware of anything going on in the world outside the four walls of my home.  It's summer.  My time on the laptop and phone are limited because I'm not teaching (ie, don't have a lunch break these days), and I would rather spend my moments with my family.  On the way home from big kid VBS dropoff, the local Christian radio station mentioned something about a tragedy in Charleston and how Christians know the bad days will come.  I was confused, and started wondering if an ISIS-type attack had occurred.  After all the talk about those type of attacks lately, my mind went there.  I quickly turned on the news when the baby and I got home and was shocked at what I saw and heard. 

Today unfolded, and a picture of a racist, sickly twisted 21 year old has emerged, a picture of a kid hopeless enough to kill 9 out of hatred.  Why, oh why?  Charleston is where my daddy's family is from, and it's where we spent summer trips when I was little.  My parents and my aunt and other family members are headed there soon.  How could this beautiful city see so much evil?  What just happened?

 Oh, how we need Jesus.  How I pray for that boy to find Jesus.  I'm sure we'll soon learn if this is more religious or racial in nature, but perhaps it's both.  Either way, it makes me sick.  None of us is colorblind.  Not a one.  Say what you need to say, but we all see color.  What I'm ready for is for all of us to see past the color.  I want us to see our differences and accept them, not be afraid of them.  I want us to dig into the messy parts of life with each other and learn from one another.  Culture is learned, so why can't we expand our knowledge?  Religion, doesn't matter.  We're all desperate to be loved and accepted.  We all tough, hard, ugly sides to us that scream for healing.  When we will reach out to each other and start that healing?

As I write this, my obviously white son is on the floor playing with my obviously black nieces.  I cried big, ugly tears this morning while the girls were at VBS and the baby napped because these three still aren't growing up in a world that looks past skin tone and into hearts and minds to find value and worth.  When?  When will it start?  When will one person stop looking at the other as inferior?  When will one stop looking at the other with fear and trepidation?  I pray over each of them daily that their experiences are not the norm and that they lead their friends by their example of loving openly and freely.  And in the meantime, I long for Heaven, for Eden, where all will be set right, and love will reign supreme. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Gorillas in Houston!

They're back!  After a long 'gorilla-drought' in Houston, we finally have not 1 but 2 troops calling our zoo home.  Y'all, this makes me so happy!

When I was little, we had one male gorilla who lived inside with some smaller primates at the Houston Zoo.  It was tragically sad and so unauthentic.  I was intrigued by gorillas, but I didn't enjoy visiting that exhibit.  Thankfully the Houston Zoo has undergone incredible renovations and thought processes about animal care and treatment in the last 20 years.  For the last several years, the zoo staff worked tirelessly to fundraise, design, and plan the state-of-the-art gorilla exhibit that now dwells in the middle of Houston's Med Center.  It's incredible!

We went to visit our two troops (one of single males and one of a family...but Daddy can't bread, so no babies for now) and introduce Man Cub to an animal he won't see in Zambia.  For over a year, we've watched the gorilla viewing areas be built, and the excitement was in the air as we dashed our way back to the African forest.  We were greeted by huge wooden doors and a thatch roof that reminded me so much of central Africa.  Inside was wall to wall windows that looked out over a river bed where red river hogs were snacking on breakfast.  A glimpse of a young male let us know that the boys were in the yard that day, and we quickly wound our way to the tree top overlook to find all three of the big guy.  Breakfast is exciting, y'all!  They were foraging all over to find their banana leaves and fresh produce.  They were close enough to make eye contact, and I can't help but wonder what they think of their new visitors.  Zoo staff reports that they enjoy watching the life fight helicopters that buzz overhead, so of course I want to know what they think about the people who are now seeing them after they've spent the last 4 months settling into their home.

As we joined the main path back to the chimp exhibit, we were welcomed into the viewing area that shows the day room for the troop that is currently staying inside.  Mulch covers the floor, and huge, realistic trees tower throughout the room for the gorillas enjoyment.  Enrichment toys, food puzzles, and hammocks rounded out the area.  Secretly, I wanted to go climb and play.  It reminded me of the glory days of Leaps 'n Bounds and Discovery Zone from my childhood!

The zoo staff has worked wonders for our new gorillas.  Man Cub was incredibly intrigued by the grey giants, and I'm looking forward to many hours spent learning about them and getting to know them.  God never ceases to amaze me with His creation!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Dan Dunn and the Houston Pops

It's no surprise around these parts that we love music!  Usually, we're the ones on the stage making the music, so opportunities to be in the audience are always a huge treat.  My sister-in-law has parents who love us and music, and they often offer us their symphony tickets when they are unable to go.  We jumped at the chance to see speed artist Dan Dunn paint while the pops symphony played their concert recently.

Dan is a local artist who has traveled the world.  He loves painting to music, especially live music.  I was so excited to see that the Houston Symphony had teamed up with him for 3 concerts.  Dan really know the music in the show.  He studies the nuances, the changes in rhythm and volume, and learns the phrasing.  Then he paints to it.  Dan keeps the audience on their toes by often having his canvas upside down.  I knew that going in, so I tried to visualize what I was seeing flipped, but he still often had me stumped until he was finished.  Dan painted a beautiful starry sky over a quaint village during a tribute to Revel's "Mother Goose".  A fabulous cowboy emerged during a Hollywood Western piece.  While Dan took much deserved breaks, we heard Pharrell's "Happy", a medley from "The Sound of Music" and some fabulous tunes we Texans love.  Isaac and I had a relaxing, entertaining date night, and we were so excited to get swept up in the music and the experience.  If Dan Dunn comes to a town near you, go see him!

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