Well, the last few months have been a whirlwind, to say the least. In October, we made an offer on a house (that I showed you in the last picture). Then, the next day, we found out that I'M PREGNANT!! Yes, folks, you read that right. Little Baby Bell is scheduled to arrive on June 15, 2012! Matt and I are very excited! We didn't quite expect to close on a new house on the same day that we had our first doctor's appointment, or to be trying to move in and get settled while I'm in my first trimester & can barely keep my eyes open past 5:00! But, I know that God's plan and timing are perfect, and I am so happy that we are moving into a new phase in our lives! I can't promise that I will be faithfully updating the blog over the next couple of months...things are about to get really crazy with the holiday travelling...but I will try to keep everyone updated as the pregnancy progresses. Thankfully, the first trimester has been pretty easy for the most part. Although I had a few weeks where any thought of food (besides peanut butter sandwiches) was out of the question, I have really only had 2 days of "morning" sickness (that happened to last all day long). God has truly blessed me with not much sickness, especially since I'm teaching at a tiny school where there are no substitutes, so missing work can really cause a problem! The one day I was sick at school, I would just leave my room, signal the secretary to watch my class, and head to the bathroom. It worked out quite well! Ha! Sorry, mom, I still haven't taken a "belly" picture...although there is really no belly to show as of yet. I keep telling Matt that if I hadn't seen the pictures of the baby on the ultra sound, I wouldn't really believe that I was pregnant! Anyway, until next time...have a wonderful day!
Well, last weekend we bought a house!! It's in a new neighborhood that we've been looking at for several months. We couldn't decide if we wanted to buy or build, but then Matt started working in Tampa every week & we decided having him out of town for 12+ weeks would make trying to build a house too stressful. We had originally wanted to be in a house by the time our lease is up in January, but decided that the timing might not work & we could just extend our lease. Then, a house that was already built in the neighborhood & that we loved had a significant price decrease. That, combined with very low interest rates, made us reconsider & go back for a second look (well, actually more like a 6th look). Everything seemed to be working in our favor, so we made an offer & the builder accepted! We are supposed to close on October 31st, and we'll move in during November (once Matt is back from Tampa, hopefully). Here are a few pics of the new place...we are so excited! To see more pictures, click on this link: Pics of the House
A few weeks back, Matt and I went with my parents & brother to Pigeon Forge, TN for the week. We had a great cabin, complete with pool table & hot tub, and we spent the week exploring Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. We went to Dollywood, saw a midnight 4th of July parade (it claims to be the 1st one in the country each year), and even explored the Great Smokey Mountains National Park a bit. The week was wonderful, although we all wished that we had spent more time in the National Park. It was absolutely beautiful! We also saw some pretty funny shows, and definitely got our fill of Bluegrass music! I think every show we saw played Dueling Banjos at least once! Oh yeah, and the temperature was in the 80's all week, so it was a nice break from the crazy Oklahoma/Texas heat! Overall, I would say that the family vacation was a success!
Well, lots of things have been happening lately, but the most recent & exciting is that I got a job! I interviewed a couple of weeks ago, and although I thought the interview went well, I wasn't very confident that I would get the job. But I received a call yesterday & I guess the principal liked me! The interview was the most relaxed interview I've ever had...we just sat and chatted about the school & my past experiences (which were not so pleasant) with teaching. She didn't have my resume before the interview & when I gave it to her she didn't even look at it the whole time!
The school is a tiny private Christian school, and I'm very excited about the upcoming school year! It is called ACI Academy, which stands for Academics, Christianity, Integrity. I will have a split 4th and 5th grade class, with around 10 students total. Not bad, huh? Quite the change from the 60+ hoodlums I had in the last school! (although some of the hoodlums did turn out to be pretty decent kids.) Now I'm busy gathering ideas & trying to figure out how to teach 2 grades in one classroom. I guess the one-room schoolhouse teachers did it back in the day. I'll just pretend I'm in Little House on the Prairie. Every class goes on a field trip once a month & does a service project at a local nursing home once a month, so I'm excited about the extra activities we'll get to do. I feel a little overwhelmed since I've been out of teaching for 1 1/2 years, and I can't even see the classroom until a couple weeks before school starts, but I think it will be a great year! I'm already impressed with the principal, and she's even going to meet with me and discuss all the curriculum with me, which is much better than walking into a room with 10 teachers manuals and trying to figure out which one to use (that was the experience at the previous school).
We took a great vacation to Gatlinburg, TN with my parents & brother the first week of July, and the week before that spent the week in Alabama. I'll try to post some pics & highlights from our trip soon.
This week Matt & I made a trip down to Montgomery to work on our rent house and see our wonderful friends. The nice thing about the rent house is that some of our good friends live in it, so we can stay with them, which is cheap & makes it easy to work on the house. The not-so-nice thing is it's the house that we used to live in, which I love. And it reminds me that I currently own a house that I don't live in, while paying rent to live in an apartment, but I digress.
Back to the point. Our original plan was to spend a lot of the time working on the house, although Matt was still going to have to do real work (for the job that actually pays his salary). Well, he ended up with a short business trip to El Paso in the middle of the week, so I have been doing most of the work myself. I'm not complaining, because I love doing house projects! It's so much fun. Plus, I feel really accomplished & tough when I know how to do things that most girls don't know how to do. And I like going to Lowe's. So this week I have taken off the front door, sanded it, painted it, and put it back up, changed an electrical outlet, and painted the guest bath, which also involved taking down light fixtures, towel racks, etc., and sanding the walls. I'm about to head back to Lowe's to buy a new light fixture for the kitchen, since the old one is currently on the blink (quite literally, it flickers on and off when it's on.) The only thing I've had to have Matty do is remove the toilet tank & mirror (which were too heavy because I'm not very strong) and paint around the ceiling (because I'm not very tall & didn't have a ladder that would fit in the bathroom). Overall, I'm quite proud of what I have accomplished! Thanks Dad & Matt for teaching me how to do home improvement projects!
This week was our 6th anniversary & my 31st birthday! Yesterday, I found a picture frame with a saying on it that I hope describes mine & Matt's life. It says, "Happiness is not a destination, it's a way of life." Reading that quote got me to thinking: if Matt and I were waiting to make it to a certain "destination" in life for happiness, we most likely wouldn't have shared the happiness that we have over the last 6 years. When we moved to Alabama 6 years ago, we fully intended to stay there for the 3 years of law school & then move back to Texas. In our minds, Matt would graduate, get a good job in the Dallas area and that would be that. Boy were we surprised when we realized that God had other plans in store. I'm so glad that we were able to trust in God's plan for our lives & go with the flow. We never would have thought we would live in Chicago, California, & for a 2nd time in Alabama! And I'm sure we wouldn't have known how many wonderful friends & blessings we would find along the way. If we had waited to find happiness in Dallas, we would have been waiting much longer than expected. Thankfully, I feel like we have "lived in the moment," and found happiness all along the way. Now, I'm not saying that every moment has been perfect, or that I was always "happy" every day. According to Matt, I was pretty grumpy when we lived in California. But I really did try to find the joy in every situation, and I think Matt has done the same. Even California provided me with blessings by giving me some special time to spend with Regina, Chris, Caleb & Aidan, and giving us the chance to connect with a wonderful Christian family. I truly believe that what we imagine and plan for our lives will always fall short of what God will do in our lives if we step out of the way and let him. So just remember, don't wait for a certain future "destination" to find joy & happiness in your life. Live in the moment & try to find joy in the everyday blessings that God grants, no matter where you are in life.
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." -Eph 3:20-21
While flying to California last week, I had a few observations while on the plane... 1. (this was actually before I got on the plane) When planning to get on an airplane, it's a good idea to bring your ID. Otherwise, you'll have to make your cousins that went out of their way to bring you to the airport turn around and take you home & back to the airport again. 2. Mr. Seat Partner, do you really need 2 vodka tonics on a flight that's only 1 hour 20 min? 3. Airplane bathrooms are tiny & the power of the toilet flusher is frightening. 4. I could never be a flight attendant. I would most likely puke on the passengers. 5. Dear people that insist on getting up when you're supposed to be sitting down, SIT DOWN! You're making us late. 6. To my new seat partner, since you already smell like alcohol, I'm pretty sure ordering more alcohol will not make it easier to complete your crossword puzzle. (An hour later) maybe I was wrong. You seem to be doing pretty well. 7. Why does the lady across the aisle think she needs to loudly share her medical history with the stranger sitting next to her? Her seat partner & everyone else around her clearly do not want to hear. 8. Flying makes me dizzy. 9. I'm thankful to be flying to California instead of driving. 10. I'm glad Southwest let me choose my seat...I like the front of the plane for an easy escape!
Obviously, I was somewhat bored on my flight. The dizziness was interfering with reading & the loud talking lady could be heard over the music from my iPod! Thankfully, the flight was pretty good overall & I made it safely to LA!
I'm in Los Angeles hanging out with these kids this week...
We're having lots of fun so far! We've been to the park, played games, watched movies, and painted a dining room (well, their mom & I painted the dining room)...and it's only Monday! We still have 4 days of fun ahead of us!
Well, the last few weeks have been very busy & I just haven't gotten around to posting anything. Mostly because I keep forgetting to take my camera (Matt gets irritated that I always forget it!), and I really don't like blogging without pictures. But, I can probably steal a couple of pictures from Facebook to liven up this post a bit!
May was quite the busy month for us. It started out with a girl's weekend in Dallas, with 2 different parties. First, we had a party for my aunt Robbie. She has been going through a terribly tough divorce for the past 2 years, so her daughter (my cousin, Brook) planned a special night for her. It was a time to celebrate her & to remind her how amazing and wonderful she truly is. The girls spent the next day hanging out in Dallas, and then Saturday night was my cousin Amber's bachelorette party. The weekend was a great time to hang out with the family & just relax. Matt was on a business trip to Chicago, so he missed out on all the girlie festivities...I'm sure he was heartbroken!
The next weekend was Amber's wedding, so we headed up to Norman for that. It was a great wedding at Thunderbird Chapel in Norman. The setting was gorgeous! The chapel is in the middle of trees, with glass windows all around. A beautiful place to have a wedding. Despite the pouring rain that morning, the evening turned out perfectly. Here's a pic of Amber, Brook & Adam and Aliyah (ring bearer & flower girl):
For Memorial Day weekend, we made the 10 hour trek up to Kirksville, Mo for Matt's cousin Hayley's wedding. She was a beautiful bride, and it was fun to spend some time with his family. Brook & I became cupcake decorating master's as we helped Aunt Elaine decorate 300 cupcakes! Here's a picture of the happy couple-Hayley & Derek Rouse:
I always love family time, so it was nice to have 3 weekends in a row to celebrate special occasions with our families! Although the wedding month is over, our traveling hasn't settled down just yet. June seems to be even busier, with Matt going on multiple business trips, our 6th anniversary, and a trip to Los Angeles and Alabama in the near future!
This year seems to be flying by...it seems like just yesterday that we were packing up our things and moving from California! Matt's job is going well. Although this month is busy with business trips, he doesn't work nearly as much as he did at KPMG. Which is good, considering he was generally working 80 hour weeks out there! He seems to be much less stressed, and I think he really enjoys his work, so that makes me happy! As for me, the job market for teachers is looking pretty bleak for the upcoming year. I have my teaching certification, but so far there are no openings posted for elementary positions. Luckily, I'm still doing the online teaching, which keeps me pretty busy! Not having a full time job has also given me the chance to spend some time with family & help out with some things that I wouldn't have been able to do otherwise. In the last few months, I was able to spend several days in Oklahoma City with Jen, helping her out with the girls when she was sick, help Brook cook & decorate for the party weekend, accompany my mom & brother to some doctor's appointments, and just spend time with the family. It's so nice to finally be close enough (and to not have to have a full time job) to be able to do those things. I'm so thankful that Matt is understanding of the difficult job market (they weren't even hiring subs in California or Texas) & that God has blessed him with a job that allows me some flexibility on the job front.
As far as Dallas goes, we are getting settled in here, although I think all the traveling prevents us from really feeling like it's "home" yet. The few weekends that we have been in town we have enjoyed exploring the city & trying out different churches. We loved our congregation in California so much that we are finding it hard to find a place here that we love just as much. But, our search will continue...as soon as we are home on a weekend! I think our biggest struggle comes from not knowing where we will get a house. There are so many suburbs, neighborhoods, etc. to check out, and DFW is so big, that it's hard to choose a congregation until you know where you're going to live (long term). So, we have found a congregation near our apartment that we will probably call "home" until we buy a house (which will probably be January of next year, when our lease is up). Moving & making a transition to get settled into a new place can be pretty challenging, but we still manage to have fun along the way. Every city that we have lived in has given us new opportunities, but also new challenges. So, we'll hang in there & keep working to make Dallas feel like home.
A couple of weeks ago I made a quilt...actually 2 quilts. 2 quilts in 2 days. Sounds impressive, right? Well, I wouldn't call it impressive. The instructions that I used said you could make the quilt in a couple of hours. This estimate was off by a few hours, but nevertheless, I think the quilts turned out quite cute! The first one I made was for a childhood friend of mine that is about to have her 1st baby...a little boy! I have to say, it's hard to find fabric that is cute & boy-appropriate. Here's the first quilt:
I had some material left over, so I used it to make a couple of burp rags that match the quilt. I think they turned out pretty cute too!
The 2nd quilt was a birthday present for our niece Ava's 1st birthday. Now, fabric for girls can be found in abundance, and I just love the patterns & colors on this fabric collection! It's called "Enchanted Forest" & I found it at Hobby Lobby. So cute!
I love how this quilt turned out, especially with the pink satin border!
Here are the directions that I used to make the quilt, in case you're interested in making one of your own:
I can't find the directions I used for sewing on the blanket binding, but you can Google it and find lots of tutorials on sewing on a blanket binding! I used Wright's Satin Blanket binding in bright pink.
The last 2 months have kept Matt and I busy driving to Oklahoma & back to celebrate the birthdays of several special people! March started out with our niece Allie's 8th birthday party. For this year's celebration, Allie's request was simple...pizza at home& a movie at the theater with her friends. The relaxed party was a perfect way to celebrate year #8, and Allie's outfit of head to toe pink & purple suited her perfectly. I have never seen a kid open presents as fast as Allie! I think she opened all of her presents in less than 5 minutes!
The end of March brought a fun surprise party for my Aunt LouAnn's 60th birthday. Regina planned a great surprise party, complete with a surprise visit from Regina & the boys all the way from California! We had fun waiting around for Regina & the boys to arrive from the airport, and were just as anxious while we waited for Kevin to go pick up LouAnn & get her back to my parents' house. After a small white lie about dad being really sick & mom needing help, LouAnn quickly got ready & headed out the door. When they arrived, we all hid in the kitchen & sent Caleb in the living room to shout "Hey Mimi!" before we jumped out for the big surprise.
April had us heading up to Tulsa to celebrate Matt's Mema's 89th birthday party. This was another big surprise for her, since her grandkids, great grandkids, son, sister, and niece traveled from Nashville, Birmingham, Kirksville, Dallas, and Oklahoma City to surprise her. Since everyone arrived at her place at different times, she was surprised each time a new guest arrived. We enjoyed spending the afternoon chatting, eating, and listening to some bluegrass music. The slumber party that night was definitely fun for all the kids. Who can beat playing in a tent & then sleeping in the dining room, with wall to wall air mattresses, with all your favorite cousins? What a special day to spend with Mema & the family!
The following weekend marked the big 1st birthday party for our niece, Ava. We headed to Oklahoma City because we knew we just couldn't miss this very special birthday. Ava looked absolutely adorable, and Heather had made the cutest pink & green decorations to make the atmosphere festive. We had a great time watching Ava unwrap all her presents & dig into her special birthday cake made just for her. Even Oscar the Boxer showed up to celebrate with us! In spite of Ava falling and bumping her head and Allie smashing her foot in the recliner, we still had a wonderful time celebrating Ava's special day!
Matt and I are so thankful to finally be living close enough to share these special times with our families. What a blessing it is to be a part of these celebrations!
This week I decided that our guest bath needed a little update. And since I still had Christmas money to spend, I decided to go for it! I know, it's pathetic that I still hadn't spent money that I got for Christmas. We all know I'm cheap, so let's move on...
Here's the bathroom before:
Although I loved the shower curtain that Regina passed down to me (thanks, Gina), my husband had the same complaint as hers (it's too girly). I was also having trouble finding accessories that I thought looked good with it, and the blank walls were driving me crazy (these pics were taken after Matt hung the round towel holder).
Here are the "after" pics:
It's not a dramatic change, but I like it! I added dark gray towels & rugs, a white shower curtain & hand towels, and a small metal sign from Hobby Lobby (only $4). The black metal design over the toilet was something that we already had, I just moved it to the bathroom! The gray & white color scheme matches with the modern look of the bathroom & the dark gray counter that was already in there. Now I just have to decide what to do with the other shower curtain that I think is so cute...
As part of our "Trek to Texas," Matty & I stopped in Las Vegas for a night. Now, in case you're wondering, Vegas is not really on the way from LA to Texas, but Matt was really excited about this little detour. So we stopped for a night & walked up & down the strip. The hotels & lights were impressive, although the lines of people handing out business cards for "Girls to you in 20 minutes" was a little strange. Since we only had 1 night, we didn't have time to see all the sights, but we did make it to several hotels & saw the fountain show in front of the Bellagio. The highlight of the trip had to be a visit to the Pawn Stars pawn shop (if you haven't seen Pawn Stars on TV, you should check it out!) All in all, I would say it was worth the detour, but Vegas will probably not make it on my list of favorite places!
At least it made for a pretty display on the counter!
And if you've never tried grilled pineapple, you should try it immediately. It is absolutely delicious! Here's how you make it...Cut the pineapple into rings (remove the core & skin first). Honestly, Matty always does this part so I'm not exactly sure the best way to accomplish this task, and I'm not even sure that the outside of the pineapple is called skin. Anyway, that's not important, but, once you've figured it out, mix some melted butter (a couple tablespoons), brown sugar (maybe a 1/4 to 1/2 cup), and a good squirt of honey in a large ziploc baggie. Throw in the pineapple rings & squish it around until the rings are covered in the mixture. Don't squish it so hard that you break the rings. Place the pineapple rings on the grill & grill until they turn nicely brown. Eat while warm...you won't regret it. Yum! The first time Matt and I had this was in Mexico, and the pineapple had been grilled rotisserie style, but we don't have a rotisserie, so we cut it into rings.
This is a nice recipe to get you in the mood for summer...since the days are getting warmer & are now longer thanks to "springing forward."
Well, our 2nd stop on our trek to Texas was Los Angeles, CA. I know, I know, LA is not exactly on the way from San Jose to Texas, but the people waiting for us there were well worth the detour! We spent 2 nights with Regina, Chris, Caleb & Aidan. We had so much fun just hanging out with them. The boys are always a delight, and they keep me laughing the whole time I'm there. Although Caleb is not a fan of taking pictures (he would always hide when I pulled out the camera), I did convince him to pose for a few when he opened his Christmas presents!
We got there late in the evening on Tuesday, so I didn't want to get the boys riled up right before we went to bed by giving them presents. So, the presents sat in the floor of the living room for the night. The next day when Caleb got home from school, he looked at the presents then looked at me and said, "So...are you just gonna give those presents to us sometime while you're here, or..." So cute! He didn't want to just come out & tell me to give him the present (such a polite boy), but he was REALLY wanting to open them!
Both of the boys were in school on Wednesday morning, so Matt, Gina & I made a trip to Old Town & had breakfast at Panera. It was a relaxing day! When the boys got out of school, we all headed to Beverly Hills to see Chris' office & take a stroll on Rodeo Drive. The glitz and glamour of the stores was all you might imagine, but I'm sure the price tags would have made it much less appealing! After our stroll on Rodeo, we headed to Fat Burger for dinner. Wow! That place is delicious!
We really enjoyed our time in LA, and hope to get back out there sometime soon. We always enjoy playing with the boys & catching up with Chris & Gina! Not living close to them was the biggest reservation we had in moving away from California! Here are a few pics from our time in LA:
Well, Matt and I had a very busy month to start out 2011! We began by spending New Year's in Santa Fe, driving back to California, packing up our apartment, hiring a moving company, saying good bye to friends, and driving back across the country (with several stops along the way)! Wow! We certainly accomplished a lot in a month!
Matt started his new job as a Senior Associate in Ernst & Young's International Trade department on January 31st, and had 2 snow days his first week! He seems to be liking his job so far, although with the snow days & a 2 day orientation in Houston, he really hasn't had a "normal" week yet. He was excited one evening when he was at work around 6:00 & a partner called him & told him to stop working & go home for the night. This is a definite change from KPMG where he was expected to work all hours of the day & night! So far, it seems like the working environment will be much better for him! Hopefully his work weeks will be less than 80 hours!
Since we had just made the long drive between California and Oklahoma twice over the holidays, we decided to take a few extra days to sight see on our move from California to Texas. We had a WONDERFUL time! Our first adventure was a drive from San Jose down to Los Angeles on Hwy 1 (aka Pacific Coast Highway). The drive was beautiful, and with the help of less-drowsy Dramamine, I managed not to get car sick on the twisty, windy roads.
We left San Jose, after the movers packed up our things, on Monday afternoon & headed down to Carmel, California for the night. We stopped on the way in Monterrey to see Fisherman's Wharf & enjoy a bowl of delicious clam chowder...it was so good! Here are a few pictures:
In Carmel, we stayed at a cute bed & breakfast called Carmel Resort Inn. It was a collection of old artist studios that had been turned into individual rooms. Ours was called Cannery Row & it was adorable! I loved the atmosphere (and affordable price) of this Inn! We walked around the cute downtown & stopped in Cafe Carmel for a cannoli & coffee (instead of having dinner...don't tell our mom's!). The beach was gorgeous & I could have stayed there all day.
After spending the night in Carmel, we woke up & headed the rest of the way down Hwy 1 toward Los Angeles. The drive was amazing! We stopped along the way for lunch overlooking the ocean, the fogged rolled in & covered the ocean (but not the surrounding mountains), crossed a historic bridge, spotted a waterfall (though we couldn't get a good picture of it), saw a beach full of elephant seals, & Matt made friends with a hungry squirrel. What a great day of viewing God's creation!
Our final destination for the day was Los Angeles, actually San Marino, to visit Regina, Chris, Caleb & Aidan. We were so excited to spend a few days with them. Stay tuned for another post about our visit & to see some fun pictures...
...it's messy business. Although we have packed up our house several times in the last few years, I always seem to forget how long it takes & what a big mess I make while packing! Our house is a wreck, but I'm hoping to have the packing finished by Friday. That will give us the weekend to say good bye to friends & prepare for (yet another) cross-country drive!
On our way back to California, we stopped in Santa Fe to celebrate New Year's. Brook & Heath went with us to Santa Fe & Heath reserved a great place for all of us to stay. It was COLD & we even faced some inclement weather along the way. The high on Friday was 14 degrees, but the wind chill was -7 degrees. Like I said, it was COLD! But we had fun nonetheless. We got there on Thursday night, just before they closed I-40 (as some friends headed to the Fiesta Bowl experienced). We stopped & grabbed some groceries, settled in to our hotel, & then headed out in the snow to grab some dinner. We found a cute little pizza place with a great atmosphere & even better food. Friday morning we spent a little while looking at the shops around the plaza, & checking out the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis. This church was built in 1869, but is on the site of the 1st church built in Santa Fe in 1610. Part of the original building is still standing today.
The wind & cold had us heading for lunch & a movie before too long. We saw True Grit, which was a GREAT movie, and then headed back to the hotel for a crazy, wild night of playing SkipBo, board games & chatting. We were party animals for sure!
Here are a few pictures of the Basilica:
And a few pics from around town:
We had a great weekend & were so happy to get to spend time with Brook & Heath! Santa Fe is beautiful, especially in the winter, covered with snow. I would recommend a trip to Santa Fe, especially if you have time to ski or explore the nearby mountains!