Sunday, December 30, 2007

one of the best parts of Christmas...

is giving. well, that's one of my favorites anyway. i think one of my highlights was the look on our parents' faces when we unveiled the beautiful handmade cedar gliders that we bought each of them. they totally weren't expecting it and to tell the truth, it was completely last minute and impromptu. (as is most of my life. ha). but, one of the best gifts this year.

the rest of the christmas pictures can be found here:

they are not edited or captioned. yet. maybe i'll go do some of that now... there wasn't anything overly exciting (the best part is just being with the family, in my opinion), so i won't write about it here. i'll let the pictures tell the story...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

christmas with the family has begun...

kelly, cassidy, houston, chris, adrianne,
mamaw, garrison, zac, casey,
chad, ashley, pawpaw

thanks to ashley's persistance and planning... we all spent the weekend in saratoga with chris' grandparents. it came about because we knew that thanksgiving was going to lack a couple cousins and christmas day will also lack a couple cousins. we're all at points in our lives that we have to work around our "other" families and jobs (hospitals don't close on holidays). so, we decided to find a weekend outside of a normal holiday. december 15th and 16th was it. only john and ashley's husband, andy, were unable to be there. but, we had a blast. we all arrived late saturday morning with food, board games, and not much of plan. after lunch, we set up the christmas tree and the other christmas decorations. then, the guys headed outside to play football. the photo is real crappy becuase i was just shooting and not even looking at the previews. had i looked, i would have realized my flash was fighting with the direct sun. however, i wanted to get back inside to the cookies that the girls were baking!

football and cookies.

soon after the cookies were baked, we brought out the games. we played apples to apples for much of the afternoon until dinner. then we broke out taboo. taboo nearly ended our family. there was much debate on the use of words and the scoring of points and when the points counted and when the words were vocalized during/after the buzzer. it actually got rather heated and there is much vicious, unresolved debate on who actually won. in case you're wondering -- it was the girls. fair and square. just don't ask the guys.

playing apples to apples.

before taboo, when we all liked each other. ;) actually, we spent most of the weekend at this table. eating, playing games, arguing, playing games, eating, and just talking.

sunday morning we headed to west end baptist church. we took up 1 1/2 pews! and of course we were introduced as "sam and mildred's grandchildren that came for the weekend... would you all please stand up?" we were the talk of the church that morning. :) chris' grandparents were positively glowing.

it was definitely a great weekend. with tons of pictures to show it. i'm so thankful for this family!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

the nativity project

i have a really great missions project to share with you guys (all 3 of you who read this... ha). my cousin, teri rae, told me about this project and i absolutely fell in love with it. the elim christian center in poland began the nativity project about 3 years ago to help the needier families in their church. the inspiration came about during a time when the church was experiencing a 90% unemployment rate. many women in the mission had never sewn nor constructed handicrafts before, but classes were held and the women learned. they now sew and handcraft nativity sets. beautiful nativity sets. i had seen the pictures on the website and thought, "these are cute," but when i unpacked the box -- i was simply blown away by the detail, the craftsmanship, and the overall beauty of each individual piece. and i think the stories of the women are even more beautiful than the sets themselves.

i want to share one woman's story with you...

this is iwona, standing in front of her home and holding her contribution to the nativity project --the mary dolls. quoted directly from the website: She has 7 Children, and God has
blessed her so much through the Sewing project. God has also provided her family
with a proper stove through the Nativity Sets, which works on bottled gas. (She
previously had a wood stove, and one hotplate).

the steps leading to the children's room, just inside the home.

iwona's old wood stove.

iwona's new stove. one thing that strikes me in this photo -- notice her newfound pride in her kitchen area. before, there was no hanging rack for her dishes, no cloth or backsplash covering the counter and back wall.

the old toilet... basically a hole with seat. and no running water.

her new toilet. and a bathtub!

even a washing machine!

iwona and her family are so grateful for the items they have been able to purchase with her earnings from the nativity project. her story is far from being the only success story stemming from this project. please click on this link: to read about two other ladies named iwona (apparently, a popular name in poland!) and a lady named basia. one has come to know Jesus as her Savior through the project, one bikes 12.5 miles round trip to deliver her dolls and restock her supplies and one supports her children and her mother through her nativity earnings.

i recently received a box of 10 sets that cassidy and i put together. i've sold about 5 of them so far. if you are interested in purchasing one for yourself (or maybe for someone for Christmas!), please contact me. the sets are $130, but they are worth every penny. between the beauty of the set itself and the stories of the ladies who pour their hearts into handcrafting each one...

the contents of each box can be seen in detail here:

on a side note... cassidy and i had a blast (as usual) putting the sets together. even through the point that we realized we were on box number 7 and we had 4 baby Jesus' left. ha. that was fun. since baby Jesus is packed on the bottom of the set and we had to open 6 boxes to locate which one was missing a baby. need i even say that it was the last box we opened?

here are our doll assembly lines:

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

i LOVE autumn

i. love. autumn.

i love...
  • pumpkins and gourds
  • leaves turning vibrant shades of amazing colors (well, not in texas, but i can still visualize this from when i lived up north)
  • indian corn
  • cooler weather -- those beautiful crisp days when the sun is shining brightly and the sky is so blue without a cloud in sight
  • yummy soups and sandwiches
  • thanksgiving day!
  • cozy fireplaces (okay, once again, notsomuch in texas...)
  • the scent of wood fires burning
  • hay mazes
  • warm, yummy cider
  • fall festivals and craft shows
  • the colors -- orange, yellow, gold, brown, red all melded together to create a kaleidoscope of fantastic proportions.

Monday, October 22, 2007

quick update.

chris feels fine today, with the exception of a very stiff neck and back. he insisted he would be fine if i went to work, so i did. when i left, he was still in bed. when i called him after lunch he said again that he was fine but still very sore. he had already watched 3 movies by that point. :) right now, i believe we are on movie number 5 or 6 from what i can tell.

and, now, a little picture for your enjoyment. this is chris standing in the doorway of his ER exam room -- impatiently waiting for his ct scan and neck xray. and harassing every nurse that walked by. please notice the boots and spurs he still has on. typical chris.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

never a dull moment...

well. i had an unexpected, exciting afternoon. and not in the good way, necessarily.

chris and i started the morning off rough with a little disagreement before church that basically left me in the church parking lot and him leaving in a huff. when i bummed a ride home after church, chris was already gone to the property in trinity with one of the horses and the 2 cow dogs. i wasn't surprised, i pretty much figured he would do that. well, i did some stuff around the house and was outside reading when my dad called. he told me chris had had an "accident" and i needed to head out to trinity. at that point, all i was told was that he was okay, but had been thrown from the horse and had been very confused and disoriented after it initially happened. somehow, he had managed to get my dad on the phone who in turn had managed to get our neighbor over to check on chris. we also knew that chris had managed to call a friend, wesley, that was supposed to be meeting him on the property. wesley and a couple other guys from chris' office were headed out to trinity also. i was able to talk to wesley on their way (flying, apparently, at about 90 miles an hour) who confirmed that chris was completely disoriented and had no clue where he was following the fall. chris apparently called him and said, "i'm hurt and i need you to come help me." when wesley asked him where he was, he said "i don't know, i think on my ranch."

i had called vivian by this point and we started to head the direction of trinity ourselves.

we were able to piece together what happened by comparing the phone conversations chris had. chris was not much help because he had absolutely no memory of what happened. chris had unloaded the dogs and the horse and was about to head out to bay up the cows. the new cow dog is a young dog that wanted nothing but to attack the horse. the barking and nipping at the horse's feet caused the horse to buck and jump around. chris rode it out and was trying to control the dog with a shock collar, but there was no stopping the dog. eventually, he was thrown from the horse and slammed into the steel cattle trailer. whether he was knocked out or the wind was knocked out of him or whatever happened he doesn't know. but, he somehow came around, loaded the dogs into the cattle trailer (even separating them by a gate inside the trailer) and proceeded to back the truck and trailer up and move it as if he was going to leave. by the way, the horse has run off and he hasn't even attempted to go after her. at some point he got out of the truck and layed down on the ground. he tried to call wesley, but didn't get a hold of him. so he called my dad. once my dad realized he was seriously hurt and not being silly, he got on another phone (so that he wouldn't have to hang with chris -- because he was telling my dad he was going to hang up and go to sleep) to call a neighbor. when the neighbor arrived, chris didn't know who he was and "whose dogs were in that strange trailer, and where was he?" he slowly came around and got his bearings. shortly after this, wesley and the other guys arrived. everyone agreed that he needed to go to the hospital. but, in typical male form, chris did not want to go. of course, he finally was convinced. :)

in the mean time, vivian and i are headed to huntsville. once we all arrived, we waited for quite awhile in the ER. finally, he was called back to check his vitals. everything was normal there, which chris thought constituted a ticket home. ha! we insisted he stay and allow them to do a ct scan and neck xray. of course, i called casey (who is a trauma nurse in an austin ER) and she absolutely insisted that he had to stay and get the tests done. after much waiting and sitting, the results from the scan and the xray came back just fine. the ER doctor determined he most likely had a minor concussion and would be fine as long as no other symptoms came up. so we were allowed to leave.

he's really sore and will probably be barely able to move tomorrow morning. he is still confused about what exactly happened. he has no idea how he was able to get the dogs in the trailer and move his truck. frankly, all of us are. which is kind of scary... at least he didn't get out on the main road and start really driving off somewhere.

he'll be home tomorrow "taking it easy," so feel free to call him and chastise him for going out by himself today. :)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

happy birthday to me...

well. today. i turned. 28. still a couple years from... shudder... my 30's. ;)

the day started out a little blah -- but i won't go there, because it got progressively better.

i had many birthday wishes via myspace, video message on my phone (mom and dad singing happy birthday -- so lovely), a serenade at church from a precious friend, and a couple phone calls. thank you, thank you to all my dear friends and family that made my day special. i needed it in a big way today.

one birthday wish i missed with all my heart didn't come. the ever faithful birthday card from my sweet grandma. she was on time, actually early, every single year for 27 years. it was tough not receiving that card this year. i don't even want to think about christmas right now and how much that will hurt...

anyway, back to the happy part!

i had a fun lunch with amanda at the ole' favorite -- rancho (rancho grande, but we're on single name terms with that place. we've been going there since the early dismissal days of high school, probably before.) it was complete with whipped cream all over my face. i'm sure i'll have pimples in those spots by tomorrow. ;) i endured all that, but didn't get a free dessert! despite amanda's comment to "take one for the team." yeah, that backfired. she did get a lovely picture though. check my myspace comments for that one... love-ly.

but, i guess that's okay... because, my neighbors remembered my birthday and brought a huge slice of tiramisu over for me. it was incredibly good. and it was from HEB of all places! i was pleasantly surprised -- because that means i can go pick up a slice from there now and then. i mean, no, i won't. because i'm starting a diet. tomorrow. or sometime next week... ;)

we were supposed to head over to scott and viv's for one of scott's famous dinners from the grill... however, vivian isn't feeling well from a minor knee surgery on friday. so, we decided to do that another night.

around 6ish, i went to ask chris and brent (our friend staying with us) what time they wanted dinner and brent offered to take us out. so, we headed out to macaroni grill. it was amazingly good. i hadn't been there in a couple years. we did a the full meal -- appetizers, main course, dessert. hey, it's only my birthday once a year... right?

and, now, here i am -- stuffed and sleepy and happy and thankful.

Friday, September 28, 2007

i am so not good at this...

yep. here i am again. at loss for words becuase i haven't written on here in so long. sigh. i'm just not good at keeping up with this. that or i never have anything interesting to report! i think it's the latter. okay. maybe it's both.

i'm coming up on the last bit of the first six weeks at school. i'm so surprised at how quickly it has gone by! i'm not sure if it's because i've had a student teacher or if life at hildebrandt is just more relaxed and less stressful this year. i'll be sad to see my student teacher go. it's been really nice having an extra adult body in the room all the time. it really helps to have someone there to back me up when i have to run to the bathroom or check my mailbox or track down someone i need to talk to. but, alas, she will be leaving me october 5th.

our a/c unit finally gave up for the last time. we had been babying it along for several months, lately. last thursday, it just up and died. we had a friend that owns an a/c company come out and look at it and he suggested we go ahead and replace both the outside unit and the attic unit. they had lasted their 25 years and were pretty much toast. so 5 days and a few thousand dollars later, we are nice and cool again. thankfully, our friend that's staying with us had a window unit, so we were at least cool at night.

i'm a deer lease widow this weekend. chris "had" to take some guys out to the company deer lease for an elk hunt this weekend. i'm sure it's just a devasting thing for him. ha.

i'm headed out tomorrow for a busy day. i need to get my oil changed (kinda overdue on that), scout out some craft shows (hopefully get some vendors for our church's fall festival), pick up my contacts, and hit the mall for a couple things. i'll probably be driving in circles. :) oh, and grocery shop. and get dog food. the list goes on...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

time for an update!

well... as some of you know... my trip to illinois turned out a bit differently than i had hoped and planned. a few hours after i wrote the post below, my grandma passed away. it was about 9:30 wednesday evening while i was on the phone with my mom and my dad was on the phone with my cousin who was at the hospital (which of course, my parents were together driving). of course, i kept my thursday morning flight and met my parents in illinois.

despite the real reason for being in illinois; i really, really enjoyed my time there. i miss going back there so much and i manage to just "forget" that while i'm here in texas. then, when i'm there i spend all this time wondering, "why don't i come back here more?!" so, i guess you can say i learned a life lesson. and i will be making more of an effort to get back to illinois and my family more often.

two days after i returned from illinois, it was time to head back to work. i've spent this week sitting in meetings and presentations over a handful of important and useful things, but mostly time filler junk that applies to about 25% of the audience. i'm quite frustrated this school year, because i'm just not organized and ready for the first day of school. and yet, all that staff development has consisted of is sitting in a chair listening to someone talk. i've also spent a ridiculous amount of time sitting in a church parking lot with 5000 of my fellow klein employees attempting to leave convocation. that was just insane. for now, i'll refrain from hopping on my political soapbox. i don't have the energy to type all my commentary on the "poor little esl and special ed kids we're letting fall through the cracks." sometimes i feel like that's all we concentrate on. it sure is this week, anyway. makes me just want to barf.

in the midst of illinois and before the start of school, we managed to finally sell our lake house. it was quite a process of back and forth for various reasons. i'll spare you the details... but it's sold. and we ate it on the selling price. but, we'll chalk that up to another life lesson.

so, i have to admit... i started this blog entry a few days ago and kept getting sidetracked from finishing it. now, as i type this, it's the evening of the second day of school. i think it will, overall, be a better year. we have 1000 less kids on campus (because of the new school opening) and the hallways are much more pleasant now. most of my classes seem like they will be okay. i have a few rugrats, but that's always going to happen. i have a student teacher this year and we get along pretty well. it's different having someone watching me and basically critiquing my every move. not that i feel pressured, really, it's just that i know i'm supposed to be shaping her for her own classroom. ah! the responsibility! hopefully she'll pick up my good habits and weed out the bad ones. ;)

so i guess that's a good update for now... :) until something something else interesting happens...

an hour later... i'm re-reading my post and i just want to clarify something. i could change my wording in the paragraph i'm going to refer to, but i'm just not going to. i'm referring to my comment about esl and special ed kids. what i was trying to convey in that paragraph was that we concentrate so much on those kids during meetings and inservice. i do understand that they need a different approach and a different teaching style. but, i get so tired of the district making us feel as if they are more important than the rest of the kids. i had one mini-meeting about esl kids one day. a motivational speaker during convocation that cried about the insensitivity of america towards the less fortunate kids and the minorities. and finally a 3 1/2 hour (yes, three and one half hours) meeting about "the yellow brick road to success" with special ed kids. not once did i hear about what i can do with my regular, english speaking students to help them (and me) discover what makes them work harder and achieve more. so, just wanted to add that in, in case i sounded like an insensitive racist. ;)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

leavin' on a jet plane...

so... i'm leaving first thing thursday morning for st. louis and then driving on to my hometown in illinois. my grandma (my dad's mom) is in the hospital yet again. however, this time it looks quite a bit more serious. i must say that it has been "serious" for her in the past several times before and somehow she pulls herself back. however, something feels a little "different" this time, according to the doctor.

i'm long overdue for a visit to illinois. and i really meant to try to go this summer, but i just never put it together. this morning i felt like i need to go this time. as the day has gone on, i've already changed my flight to one 3 hours earlier and now i am hoping that i make it to the hospital before she is gone.

my awesome sister, cassidy, is once again helping me out. she's my chauffeur tomorrow morning and will be house sitting and dog sitting and horse sitting for me. (i told you she was awesome!)

Monday, July 30, 2007

it's been awhile...

hmmm... so, i thought maybe i should post a little update. nothing terribly exciting to write about, but i'll see what i can come up with. ;)

the first interesting thing -- and, acutally, quite exciting for me -- is that cassidy is home!! it almost didn't feel like 7 weeks while she was gone. i guess i was busy with this and that and didn't dwell on it for long. but, it's great having her home! i definitely missed her the most at night when i was online and she wasn't there to chat with on im. so, we've been making up for that.

our friends daniel and rachel had their baby girl, ava, saturday. on our 6th anniversary, no less! so, we actually spent the evening of our anniversary at the hospital visiting them. our mutual friends, jackie and ashley, also came out. so, afterwards we went over to katy mills mall and hit bass pro shops (for the guys) and the rainforest cafe. eating at the rainforest cafe was a treat. we had jackie and ashley's little girl, taylor, with us. she's a lot of fun to be around. she just turned one, so her little personality is definitely showing!

well... my closet has not gotten cleaned out. that's one of my major projects to work on this summer. and the days are counting down and i don't have a clean closet. haha. procrastination, what? i need to locate a good consignment shop for some of my clothes. i know there is stuff in there that i don't wear or can't fit in anymore that are still good enough for a second hand store.

i only have about 3 weeks left before i have to be back at hildebrandt. i've already spent a couple days up at school trying to get a couple new teachers set up. seeing as how there is only one keyboarding and one desktop publishing teacher in each school, the "newbies" often lean on other schools' teachers to get them started. i don't mind so much, though. kind of forces me to get my own assignments in order. i'm thinking of going up one or two days in between now and the 17th to work in my own room. i think if i spread it out a little before i "have" to be there, i can get some stuff done.

well, i'm off to clean out the fridge. trash day is tomorrow and i have a few things that are not doing so great hanging out in the fridge. ;)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

maclaren parker bell

i finally got to meet maclaren today!
jamie called me yesterday to let me know she and maclaren were ready for visitors... so, off i went to downtown houston this morning to pay the little guy a visit. he is just precious and was so good while i was there. i'm not much of a baby expert... but maclaren has the longest legs and fingers and toes i think i've ever seen on a baby. he's going to be tall and lean like his daddy, i believe. check out those toes in this photo!

here's me looking just lovely after sweltering in the 106 degree heat index today. and, of course, the proud mama.

and here's toby. he holds a special place in my heart because i helped find him a home with jamie. he's been feeling slightly neglected with all the attention maclaren gets, yet he is very good with the new little guy around. he just comes and takes a peek at him now and then and then goes on his way.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

houston race for the cure

so... i'm thinking about doing this. anyone interested in forming a team with me? my friend amy - her sister-in-law beat breast cancer last year - brought it up tonight. i've thought about it in the past, but never have followed through, because i didn't want to do it alone. maybe this will be the year?

houston race for the cure

Thursday, July 05, 2007

the neverending rain of summer 2007

so, someone told me today that it has rained 17 out of the past 18 days. well, i don't believe them. because, it sure feels like it's rained a heck of a lot longer than 17 days. i'm seriously starting to think i know what noah felt like. i thought it might be interesting to list the realizations i have come to over the past days of rain and thunderstorms.

~ i've given up vacuuming the carpet every time a muddy paw print shows up. the dogs come in with wet feet every time they venture outside.
~ i dump 1 to 2 inches of rainwater out of the feed buckets and sarge's dog food bowl every time i go to feed.
~ i've only filled the horse's water trough once in the past 2 weeks. typically, this time of year i have to fill it - at the very least - every other day.
~ i automatically put on rubber boats when venturing into the backyard.
~ i don't bother to wait for the rain to end before i leave the house to run errands. i'll only get stuck in the next thunderstorm a couple hours later. might as well leave when i planned to.
~ i have forgotten what the sun feels like.
~ the yard may never be dry enough to mow.
~ i shouldn't bother straitening my hair. the incredible amount of humidity ruins my attempt. yet, i stubbornly continue to do it. one must hold on to some normalcy.
~ driving through massive amounts of water collected on the side of the road doesn't even make me slow down.
~ the trees are so waterlogged that every time it rains, new branches break off. i'm praying a tree doesn't fall over.
~ i base the clothes i put on before leaving the house on "how will this do when i get drenched?" "will the hem of these jeans/pants drag through water puddles?" "how do these shoes handle massive amounts of water treading?"
~parking in the driveway has become a strategic operation. what position will avoid the most puddles and allow me to get back out without having to touch any grass (because i will get stuck in the muddy grass)?
~ i have learned to watch tv around flood watch and thunderstorm watch messages.

now for a few photos...

the horse pen. i feel so sorry for them.

where once there was grass. the camera strap got in the
way of my trusty rubber boots.

sarge stays in a perpetual state of muddiness.

what i wade through to feed twice a day. my lens got a bit foggy.
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***disclaimer -- i am by no means implying that my bout with the rain is more disturbing than some of our neighbors suffering real flooding. i am thankful, so thankful, that it is not worse for us... however, i thought it was fitting to blog about my own experience with the seemingly neverending rain.***

Thursday, June 21, 2007

update from cassidy!

well, nothing can say it better than their own words! this is an email from cassidy and samantha about their honduras experience, so far. one of cassidy's biggest fears was that she would be so homesick. well, i think this email confirms that she definitely is not so homesick! haha. this particular email was sent to several of the girls' supporters, so i feel comfomfortable sharing it with you all. especially since i know some of you have specifically told me you are excited for and are praying for them.

Hello everyone! I hope everyone is doing well and the preparation for the trip is coming along. We are already feeling this is our home. Bill and Mary are two of the most amazing people we have ever met. What a privilege to be living in their home. I can tell that throughout these seven weeks the Lord is going to teach us many things through them and the boys. Mary is our best friend and Bill is our protective father. How awesome it is to work along side these two on a daily basis serving the Lord.

Immediately when we arrived, the younger boys flocked to us. They are so cute. However, the middle aged boys took a couple of days to see what we were all about. Some of the older ones are still “observing”. Overall we are already extremely close with all the boys and can’t imagine leaving them.

Thursday morning we and Mary were driving to the project and we got in a small car accident. It was not Mary’s fault but they tried to blame it on her. She remained calm but it scared her a bit because it was her first wreck. Later that day, a man from the group here from Florida fixed her car. Praise the Lord they did not have to put it in the shop. That is only one of the examples of how Satan tries to discourage us. One of our main desires to come here for seven weeks was to see the ins and outs of the lives of missionaries.

A typical day is to get up and leave around nine. We go with Mary to run tons of errands every morning. At 11:00 o’clock we pick up Michael and head to the project. Usually the boys have already eaten lunch so we grab a plate and eat quickly. The rest of the afternoon is spent with the boys playing, having their devotional, working on homework, or helping Mary out with anything she might need. We eat dinner with the boys pretty much every night. It consists of beans, rice, eggs, bread, and sometimes some meat. We say our goodbyes and leave around 6:00 to come home. The first thing we want to do is jump in the shower because we smell like sweaty children. :) Many nights we spend with Bill and Mary on their bed eating dinner and watching TV or hanging out with some people our own age that we have met. Overall, our days are long and tiring but so rewarding. Like we said earlier, we can not even imagine coming home.

Some prayer requests we have are:

~Financial support for Bill and Mary and for the project. They fully rely on the Lord but right now this is a huge struggle.

~Safety in everything. We take a lot of taxis and walk places and for those of you who have been here know how "interesting" they drive.

~The older boys have a hard time trusting us from day to day. It is like we have to win them over everyday and make them know that we love them and still care about them. We completely understand why because of their past and because of groups coming in and leaving as soon as they begin to get attached. Anyway, pray that the boys would be 100% sure that we love them every single day and that we are here for them.

~Please pray that in everything we do and everything we say, we are representing the Lord the way He should be. Let us have the light of Christ wherever we go.

~That the Lord would give us strength and endurance.

We love you all dearly,

Cassidy and Samantha

Saturday, June 16, 2007

green cottage designs

check out my latest venture:

green cottage designs

Friday, June 15, 2007

give me a "j"!

j! i got your j, i got your j.

give me an "e"!
e! i got your e, i got your e.

give me an "s"!
s! i got your s, i got your s.

give me a "u"!
u! i got your u, i got your u.

give me an "s"!
s! i got your s, i got your s.

what's that spell?

King of Kings!

Lord of Lords!

he's coming back!

whew! another year, another vbs. ah, how i love vbs. it's such a wild, crazy, exhausting, wild, fun, encouraging (and did i mention wild?) week. but, it's worth every exhausting minute. we had a tough curriculum this year for our story hours, but we had an amazing story teacher that practically rewrote it so that our 5th and 6th grade girls (my age group) could get the most from it. i really loved how she presented the gospel every day to the girls. typically, wednesday is salvation day at vbs. while we (obviously) make that our goal for the whole week, wednesday was typically the day we hit the gospel hard. but, this year, the girls heard it every day.

i've taught vbs for several years now and this year i felt my age! i came home everyday just beat. i really don't know what it is. i mean, vbs is only from 9 - 12:30. but, i am more tired after a morning of vbs than i am from teaching 7 full class periods during the school year. but, like i said, it was worth it.

i know we had a couple girls in our age group that accepted Christ this week. quite possibly one or two we don't know about, just because they can be shy about it sometimes. and of course, many little seeds were planted. we had a lot of kids not from tbc attend. we usually do. the church is in a part of tomball that really lets kids and parents see what's going on everyday and see the signs leading up to the week. that right there is advertising. plus, well, we're just known for the best vbs in town! it's true. we work really, really hard to make our skits and music entertaining, engaging, and full of truth. sometimes that means rewriting the skits (or at least "tweaking") and finding our own music. but, our drama and music teams are up to it. and they do an amazing job. the proof is in the numbers -- we had 315 kids on our lowest day and 345 on our biggest day. plus, we hear it in the community. after vbs each day, many of our volunteers head out to lunch or run errands in their t-shirts. many come back the next day with a story of how they saw someone that stopped them and said, "i went to a tomball bible vbs when i was a kid! that was the best week ever!" i swear i'm not making this up, in fact i'm "one of those." i literally remember sitting in a darkly lit room memorizing the books of the bible at a certain church for vbs. when i experienced vbs at tomball bible (granted it was from the volunteer perspective), i was blown away at the time, thought, blood, sweat, and tears that goes into vbs week. and the result of all that work was simply an awesome week of good fun for the kids. we even have grown men take vacation time to be group leaders for the 5th and 6th grade boys!

so, that's what i've been up to this week. i think it may take me a week to recover! ;)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

what a lady...

ruth bell graham dies at age 87:

the angels are dancing in heaven for her arrival this evening. what a welcome she must be receiving.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

random dreams...

someday, i want--

to own an used bookstore/coffee shop.
to open a wedding/party planning business.
to travel europe -- as many parts of it as i can.
to visit australia.
to return to russia.

--among many other things.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

please pray with me!

well, this morning my little sister, cassidy, went off on a plane to honduras for 7 weeks. she and a friend, samantha, were given an amazing opportunity to live in the home of orphanage directors (bill and mary) for the next 5-6 weeks. the orphanage is home to about 22 boys ranging in age from toddler to 17 years old. cass and sam will be helping around the orphanage mainly in school type lessons. english and math especially. they also took a bunch of craft supplies with them to share with the boys. at the end of that time, our church missions team will arrive. cass and sam will join the team at the point and participate in the scheduled mission trip. which will be more interaction with the boys in the orphanage as well as more community outreach in the village.

cassidy has been so excited about the opportunity for several months. but, 7 weeks is a long time to be away from family and friends. not to mention the fact that she is giving up a big portion of her summer to do this. and the comforts at home -- like air conditioning, food they are used to, english, their own rooms (among other things). on the other hand, they will gain so much more than they are giving up for this experience.

please pray for cassidy and samantha throughout these 7 weeks for:
~staying healthy
~bonding with the boys and other children in the village
~their time with mary -- she is so excited to have girls come stay with her! she is surrounded by boys and hungers for "girl-time."
~comfort while being away from their families, especially -- and also their friends.

and you can also pray for their families here at home. i know i am going to miss cass terribly. and i can imagine it's going to be tough for scott and viv, too. and for sam's family. while we are excited for them, we are also selfishly missing them! :)
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Sunday, June 03, 2007

my creations

every once and awhile i feel crafty. i get inspired by so many things around me. i love to pick up a new "crafty" magazine or walk through hobby lobby or jo ann's crafts and come up with new projects. of course, i'm a bit ADD when it comes to this stuff. i get impatient halfway through a project and sometimes i don't follow through with the materials that i bought. i attribute part of that to the fact that i don't have a "craft room." someday, in my dream home, i will have a designated "craft room." with a huge table on which i can create my projects and tons of storage to store my huge supply of craft "stuff." hey, i can dream, right? ;)

anyhow, i thought i would share some of my crafty creations over the past couple years. sadly, i don't have photographs of everything i have made and given away. i am sorely tempted to take photos of every single project from handmade note cards to the larger things like jamie's bulletin board. but, it seems slightly prideful and i refrain many times. i also have buried photos before the time of digital cameras somewhere that i haven't included here.

my creations

Sunday, May 27, 2007

mighty to save

so... today was the last day with our current worship pastor at tbc (tomball bible church). he's a really great worship leader that is the whole package. great voice, amazing talent on the guitar and piano, wise insight into the words of a song and the ability to tie into the sermon. he also would occasionally share a song he had written with us. really neat guy. he's brought so much to our church through music and drama.

anyhow -- today was just an amazing worship service. we sang a song that is fairly new to us. we've sung a few times in the past few months. i absolutely fell in love with it the first time we sang it. i had previously tried to find it online, but couldn't. well, tonight i finally found it! i actually even came up with a video, also. i just wanted to share the words and the music with you. it's just one of those that makes you want to raise your hands to God and sing your heart out. the video itself is poor quality, but it's so much more powerful if you can hear the words, not just read them.

everyone needs compassion
a love that's never failing
let mercy fall on me
everyone needs forgiveness
a kindness of a Savior
the hope of nations

Savior, He can move the mountains
my God is Mighty to save
He is Mighty to save
forever, Author of Salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

so take me as You find me
all my fears and failures
fill my life again
i give my life to follow
everything i believe in
now i surrender

Savior, He can move the mountains
my God is Mighty to save
He is Mighty to save
forever, Author of Salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

shine your light and let the whole world see
we're singing for the glory of the risen King... Jesus

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Jamie's Baby Shower and the Quilt Show

Yesterday, I had the privilege of co-hostessing Jamie's baby shower along with her sister-in-law Kimberly, a good friend Mary, and Julie. I think this picture is the first one since the three of us lived together in our University Place apartment in Huntsville. Oh, the memories... haha. Jamie and I manage to meet for dinner every other month or so, but I hadn't seen Julie in way too long. It was good to hang out with both of these girls... Plus, I got to see so many girls from my Sam Houston days. I swiped this photo from Julie's blog... Thanks, Julie! :)

This is a photo of the bulletin board I made for the new little guy's nursery. It's unfinished... I'm going to add his name in the upper left corner. But, that will have to wait until he makes his arrival somewhere near June 20th. Jamie and Josh have decided to keep his name an absolute secret until then!

Before the shower, I dropped my mom off at the airport -- she went to Pennsylvania to stay with my dad until he comes back in November. Then, I headed on to Huntsville for the shower. Much to my enjoyment, I had time to stop by the Airing of the Quilts, an annual quilt show on the square. My mom's friend Gloria is an amazing quilter and had many of her quilts out. Unfortunately, I never found Gloria but I had a lot of fun looking at all the beautiful quilts. I was wishing I had my camera to capture the quilts blowing in the breeze -- they were hanging everywhere along the square! -- but, I had to settle for using my camera phone.

Monday, April 30, 2007


i meant to post where the rest of my wedding pics are. they are unedited, uncut, and uncaptioned. but they are up! so, enjoy! i'll post more as i gather them from others (that's a big hint to those of you harboring pictures!) and hopefully the photographers pictures will be up soon also.

casey's wedding

well, the wedding whirlwind is over! i can hardly believe it came and went already. the last couple weeks have been so full of wedding and shower plans and now it's all over!

wednesday night began the weekend of partying. those that were in town met up at del pueblo for a dinner. nothing special, but we got to meet some of the groomsmen that had come in. thursday the guys went to play golf and then pick up their tuxes later in the day. i spent the day preparing food and gifts for casey's lingerie shower/bachlorette party. i had a blast hanging out with the girls and just pampering casey. she got some really pretty things. we also got to get to know a little more about casey and zac's relationship. earlier in the week, cassidy and i came up with some questions for zac and then we videotaped his answers. during the shower, we asked casey the same questions, let her answer, then played his answers. it was quite hilarious. especially since zac couldn't just answer the questions... he had to do costume changes for each one. that night we headed to a house owned by a family in our church. they were incredible and let us borrow their house for the weekend so that the girls could all stay in one place. it was so neat to be able to do that. on top of that, they totally pampered us. it was like staying in a hotel!

friday i had several errands to run and the girls worked on folding the wedding programs. that evening we got up to ashelynn manor for our rehearsal. the people at ashelynn manor were great. they were very helpful and had us through the rehearsal in no time. we headed to the bake shoppe for the rehearsal dinner. then, it was on to the rosenbaum's (zac's parents) house for a party. we got to meet some extended family and just hang out. we then headed back to the ikel's to find beds for all the girls (we had acquired a couple new girls that needed beds). i helped cassidy a bit with her toast, hung out a bit with some of the girls that hadn't gone to bed, and then ashley and i headed back to my house and bed ourselves. however, when we got home, chris and chad had just gotten home from the rosenbaum's. (chad and ashley are chris' cousins). so we hung out with them a bit and cleaned up some of the leftover shower food. by this time it was about 3:30 a.m., so we decided to head to bed.

saturday morning was really special. suellen plachy invited the bridesmaids over for a brunch. she and her daughter ellie served us a wonderful array of food and let us have some girl time. and of course, it was quite a teary girl time. casey shared with each of us why she chose us to stand with her on her wedding day. we also got to have a really neat prayer time with her. it was definitely a very incredible morning. and very emotional. it's a good thing i didn't bother with make up. it would've all been cried off if i had. after that, it was on to the showers and then to ashelynn manor. things just flew by after that. we did our hair and make up, barely got dressed, and then it was time for pictures. i can't wait to see the pictures from the photographer, he seemed pretty on top of things and i think he had some creative stuff going on.

the ceremony was one of the best i've experienced -- despite the fact it was 40 minutes long, my feet were dying, the sun was in my eyes, and bugs were crawling on me -- but truly it was incredible and i was so blessed to be standing up there. it was such a sweet time. casey and zac wrote their vows, they had a couple friends sing/play guitar, and they shared communion as their first thing as husband and wife. their pastor from austin did an incredible job with the ceremony.

the reception was one big party. i got to visit with several people, but there were several i missed talking to. i guess that's par for the course... casey and zac's first dance was something only casey and zac would do. they choreographed a really fun dance to a fast paced song (the name slips me) and kept it a secret from everyone until the music came on. it was simply amazing.

it was such an incredible weekend. i loved how God was woven into so much of everything that happened. i've watched casey grow up from a young girl to a Godly woman. her relationship with zac is nothing but Christ-centered. it has been so amazing to watch casey over the past years become the woman that she is and to now watch her and zac create this relationship. i admire casey deeply and praise God for what He has done in her life. after the rehearsal friday night, i took casey for one final wedding dress fitting (a whole other story completely) and on the way casey and i had a chance to talk about a certain subject. her words to me were so touching and so wise. i could hardly believe the truth that effortlessly came from her. she is so passionate about her relationship with Christ and it just pours out of her. i thank God for her and that relationship every day.

while i'm on the subject of gushing about my sisters -- i have to say cassidy and i have had a blast planning this whole thing. cassidy and i have always had a wonderful relationship and i admire her on many levels also. she, once again, showed me her wise and beautiful spirit the past couple weeks. i absolutely love spending time with her despite the fact she is 10 years younger than me. yet, in so many ways, she is if not equal, but usually wiser than i am. i just can't even imagine what i have done to be blessed with these girls in my life. but, i am abundantly grateful! my cup runneth over!

okay -- one last gush -- i've only met a handful of casey's austin friends. this weekend i got to know them better and got to meet a few new ones. her bridesmaids were amazing girls and the way they have each affected casey's life is simply written by the hand of God. i love every single one of them and only wish they lived closer!
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Friday, April 27, 2007

the dog catcher, cassidy, and i. and bear.

so, it's been a very eventful day. and, you know, everything just can't go smoothly. i just had to share cass' and mine's experience with the dog catcher. yep. the dog catcher.

this morning, i head over to pick up the paper for the programs from scott and viv's. cassidy was there alone, so she decided to head to the printer's with me. we walk out of the house, get to the truck and realize the paper is inside. so, we walk back in, get the paper and try to leave. bear decided at that very moment to snake by our legs and run out the door. well, when bear does that and the gate is open... he's gone. we see him directly in front of the neighbor's house and are on our way to go call him in, when the animal control truck pulls up. at this point, we have no idea why he's even in the neighborhood. but, i'll get to that in a minute. so, jerk-face dog catcher says to me (because i'm closest to him) is this the same dog we picked up a couple weeks ago? (let me just say, that yes, bear did get picked up and was put in "jail" for the night until vivian drove downtown to rescue him) anyway -- i stall because i am not about to admit that. finally, i say i don't know. he very rudely says "you don't know if you own dog got picked up?" by this point, i'd had enough of his rudeness, so i said back in the same tone "i don't live here." cassidy tells him she does. she says "can we go get bear now?" he says "if you don't, i will." cass says "well, you're blocking the driveway." he doesn't understand the problem. so she says, "bear runs faster than i can, we need to take our truck." so, he asks for her drivers license and says he'll "wait for us." very sweet of him, hm? well, by this point, we have no freakin' clue where bear has gone. if the jerk hadn't grilled us we could have had bear back by then. 10 minutes of searching later, we found bear. we pull into the driveway, make a big show of shutting the gate, putting bear in the house, climbing in the truck again, open the gate, and pull out. then he grills us about the rabies tag, or rather lack of, on bear. which is why he is there. he was coming out to check up on that today and just happened to arrive when bear darted out. impeccable timing. then, he drags meshack into the ordeal. poor meshack is laying peacefully on the porch. but, he doesn't have a collar on, so jerk-face has to ask about him. he wants proof of rabies papers on the dogs. well, of course, cassidy has no clue where those are and says as much. he finally relents and says he's writing her a warning, not a citation since her "parents should have taken care of it." such a thoughtful guy, he is. he sits in his truck for what seems like 5 minutes to write his little "warning." gets back out and "explains" the warning to us. he wants to know "how do you spell meshack? m... e...?" cass says "whatever, it doesn't matter." he didn't like that much. good thing i didn't say what i wanted to -- "you know meshack? like in the Bible? meschack, shadrack, and abednego?" then he goes into "why" she is getting the warning, because "when we got home, our dog ran off." WHAT?! i'd had it at this point -- so i say "we hadn't left yet! we opened the gate so that we could leave! and he was right in front of the neighbor's yard! we would have had him back in if you hadn't blocked the driveway!" he looks at me and says "if you don't stop right now, i'm going to write you a ticket." WHAT?!?! the DOG CATCHER is going to write me a TICKET?! he can do that?! i literally bit my lip so as not to say the words i wanted to -- "go ahead, make it legible though, because i want to frame this one!" he finished his little bit, cass signed, and we got in the truck. and preceded to die laughing. if he only knew how much he's been mocked this evening. oh and he was parked behind me so i couldn't pull my truck out and i am convinced he would have sat there longer if a car hadn't needed to get by. so he inched forward and blocked 3/4 of the road so that i had to drive in the grass to get around him. he also checked out my plates as he pulled past me. what a loser! i'm sorry he can't get a real job, but it certainly was no reason to start the whole exchange with complete rudeness and accusations.

so that began our morning. and really i could go on, because that wasn't the only issue in this crazy day... but i just really had to share my dog catcher story. anyway, it's been a long day and tomorrow is going to be just as long. so i'm headed to bed!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

new picture and a busy week

so... i finally posted a picture. i'm pretty displeased with most of the pictures of just me or just chris and i right now, which is my own my fault because i try to stay out of pictures as much as possible. so, when i go to post pictures on facebook, myspace, or here i get annoyed at the selection. but i will remedy that this week! there will be many photo ops because tomorrow begins the wedding week whirlwind (say that three times fast!)...

the partying begins wednesday night and will last until saturday night. i may need a week to recover! and even before then, monday and tuesday will be busy as i wrap up last minute errands. i'm abandoning my little darlings at school to a sub on thursday and friday. that in itself is something to look forward to. now, i just have to structure my week so that they will have plenty to do rather than drive the sub mad.

anyway, probably won't be much new this week, but definitely check back after the wedding. i'm quite sure i will have plenty of stories and pictures to share!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

climbing down from my soapbox...

alright. let's move on to a much lighter subject! what's going on in my life?! many of you are probably reading this because i sent out an email saying that i've started a blog! skip down to my first post to read about the reasons. i'm going to use this post to update some of you that i've been out of touch with for far too long!

the most exciting upcoming event is one miss casey mcmullen's wedding. casey is chris' oldest, younger sister -- for those of you saying "who?!" the big day is april 28. we are in full wedding mode these last days before the wedding. the actual ceremony and reception is at a wedding facility called Ashelynn Manor. they have taken much of the work out of it for us! which is a totally new thing for me. i'm so used to be in control and having 25 dozen things to do at this point. a little strange for me. ha. but, despite that, i have found something to be in control of. cassidy and i are planning the lingerie shower/bachelorette party. we've got some great things cooked up and we are very much looking forward to it!

other than that -- it's the same old thing. chris is working mostly in mcallen these days. he heads down there for about a week to 2 weeks, depending on what's going on. he comes back to tomball for about 2 - 4 days -- again, depending on the work and what we have going on. he's also doing a lot of roping and still enjoying that.

i'm in my third year at hildebrandt teaching keyboarding. i take advantage of chris being gone during the week and try to catch dinner with friends or just have some "me" time. i'm all about that "me" time. ha.

we've still got the ranch in trinity with my parents. we have around 20 some head of mama cows and calves right now. and one bull. he's a happy bull. ;) we're up to 4 dogs these days. it's an absolute madhouse sometimes with all of them. 2 chocolate labs and a blue heeler/border collie mix -- which all live inside. and a black mouth cur that lives outside. 3 of the 4 are males -- so we have more dog testosterone than we need.

and that's really us in a nutshell right now. like i've said, i plan on just using this to keep everyone updated on my random thoughts and our more interesting activities. this post should catch everyone up on us for now. especially for those of you that haven't had an update in way too long. as usual -- ask questions, leave comments, tell me what you think!

virginia tech

well, i promised that i would be commenting on current events periodically. here's the first one.

i'm already seeing the first rumblings of

"we need better gun control laws!"
"guns should be outlawed!"

now, don't get me wrong. i'm very deeply saddened by what happened yesterday on the virginia tech campus. it was a horrible, heinous crime.

but, i do not believe that gun control laws could have helped much here. in fact, if the staff and faculty were allowed to conceal, maybe it would have been a much lower number than 32 (i refuse to count the gunman as a "victim").

many people do not realize the extensive background checks, lectures, and laws that are in place for concealed handgun license holders. a couple years back, chris went through the CHL class and now lawfully carries a concealed handgun. well, not all the time. he certainly doesn't just strap it on for kicks. it's usually in his truck. though, being in mcallen a big part of the time, i think he does keep it on him more often. anyway -- the point is -- i've heard a bit from chris about the seriousness of these CHL classes. CHL holders are taught many different tactics to diffuse a violent situation without pulling their weapon. you may only, lawfully, pull your weapon if your life has been threatened. if a CHL holder even pulls their weapon on someone, they must call the local police and file a report. if someone is shot, there is an extensive investigation that ensues. i daresay it is even more extensive than a random shooting by an unlawful person. if the CHL holder is found at fault -- their punishment is just as harsh, if not more so, than a random gunman. there are no second chances. period. end of story.

i have to say, i am extremely glad that chris has his CHL. he was in jasper, texas a couple years back and pulled his gun on a group of guys. he had stopped at mcdonalds to buy a milkshake (his diesel truck is too big and loud for the drive thru -- though we have all told him the drive thru is the way to go, now! ha), when he walked back out 4 black men were sitting on his tailgate, which they had helped themselves to lowering. they preceded to call him a "redneck" and telling him they were going to kill him, among other things. he didn't have his gun on him, but it was in the truck. he managed to get his keys in the door and reached in to pull his gun out. he showed his gun to the men and after a few choice words the men disappeared. i truly believe the men were intent on causing harm that day. and there was definitely an outnumbering in their favor.

take a look at the following sentences from john lott. lott wrote this article april 9, obviously before yesterday's bloodbath. i admit i don't know lott or his philosophies any other subjects, but i found this article quite interesting and in my opinion, very true.

Gun free zones may be well intentioned, but good intentions that is not enough. It is an understandable desire to ban guns. After all, if you ban guns from an area, people can’t get shot, right? But time after time when these public shootings occur, they disproportionately take place in gun free zones.

It is the law-abiding good citizens who would only use a gun for protection who obey these bans. Violating a gun free zone at a place such as a public university may mean expulsion or firing and arrest, real penalties for law-abiding citizens. But for someone intent on killing others, adding on these penalties for violating a gun free zone means little to someone who, if still alive, faces life in prison.

to read the full article, which i fully recommend, by lott, go here:

i believe that if the faculty and staff of virginia tech had been allowed to conceal, things may have turned out differently. it would not have stopped cho seung-hui from beginning his rampage yesterday. it would not have saved every single victim's life. but, maybe, just maybe, some of the lives could have been spared.

well, i'm sure this is going to stir up some controversy. let me know what you think. i won't hold it against you, if you won't hold my opinion against me. ;) oh. by the way. yes, i do plan on getting my CHL in the near future. i've wanted to for several months, but the timing is always wrong. it's a full saturday class. actually, it might be two full saturdays in a row? can't recall right now...

if you're interested, i also recommend reading this post: it outlines several arguments and rebuttals to the claim that europe is "gun-free," another outcry that i've heard a few times today.