Sunday, April 27, 2008

I know who holds the future

We have been having SUCH problems with our internet service. Needless to say,
C-O-M-C-A-S-T isn't high on our popularity list these days. So, if you've sent an email but haven't heard from us, please don't be offended. We may not have gotten it! Right now, we have internet but no wireless so this 30 week pregnant woman is having to sit at the desk to type which is not very comfortable since this little girl seems to be acting like her biggest sister and basically trying to stand up inside me which makes it hard to sit at a desk for too long. Anyway.......

It was nice to have the weekend off together as a family. I continue to be thankful that Chris's schedule allows him to have the weekends off and even with the Houston commute, he is home during the week by around 6:20-if not earlier-which isn't so bad. He will also have every other Friday off which is great.

We went out Friday night and enjoyed some barbeque. I've been craving a chopped BEEF sandwich and it was good! Still no Joe Allen's (for all you Abilene people!) but good nonetheless. We then topped off the evening with a family trip to H-E-B! I'm telling you-the Shanks family knows how to have fun on the weekends!

Saturday, we organized the girls' room during which Gracie showed some maturity by acknowledging the fact that they have a lot of toys and the baby won't really need any new ones since they have so many. Katie on the other hand said she only had "12 toys and that's not that many." I guess one day she'll have the maturity of a 7 year old-and learn how to count! We then headed down to the Galleria near downtown Houston which was lots of fun. Since I don't quite have the energy these days + my back was KILLING me, we really only skimmed the surface of it but did enjoy a late lunch at The Cheesecake Factory! YUM!!!!! Chris also showed us the outside of his office building. This summer, the girls & I will head down to actually see the inside of his office and eat lunch with him-something we NEVER got to do while in SC, so we're excited about that.

Later in the day, Chris & the girls went swimming again. Well, Chris swam. The girls kind of pretended to. They're both timid around the water which I HATE to say they get honestly from me. We're hoping that having easy access to water while in our apartment will help them with this and that Chris can teach them to swim.

Sunday, we went back to visit the church we'd visited on Wednesday. It was nice yet again. We were blessed to have some people take us out to eat for lunch which was very welcoming! They have a 2nd grade girl which is GREAT for Gracie and a 4th grade boy. Guess which girl was more interested in him?!?! Yep-Katie! At one point they were having a staring contest and Katie was holding her own. It was hilarious-she is such a hoot! Both girls seemed to enjoy their Bible Classes, although Katie didn't like Children's Bible Hour that much. It was only for ages
2-5 and didn't start until after several songs & communion. Chris said she did fine when he dropped her off but when I picked her up, they said she'd gotten upset and I guess had cried. I'm not sure why, but she did say that she wanted "Sissy" to be with her. So, I'm not sure if we'll try that again or just keep her with us. She's used to sitting with us anyway, but I thought she would like it and I liked that they stayed with us through a large portion of the service before they went, so they were still in "big church" and learning about all of that. It may have just been a little overwhelming to her.

We went back tonight and continued to meet many more people "our age." We're still trying to find the best way to get there, but tonight the commute was less than 30 minutes which wasn't bad at all! Wednesday was just hard because of the time of day with work traffic, etc. I imagine we'll stick with it and try to find the best way to get there. There are a lot of kids and people we seem to relate to. The worship style is very similar to what we're used to, although MUCH larger. There is a great courtyard with a playground where the kids go after church to play which is really nice.

That being said, we've only visited 2 churches and there are others we've seen and/or heard about, so we'll probably visit at least 1 or 2 more before making a decision about where to attend full time.

I heard from an "old college friend" (a.k.a. maid of honor at my wedding) who lives here (although not very near me!) who told me about a free night at the local children's museum so we may meet her there sometime soon. I would love for our girls to meet, and it'd be nice to see her too since it's probably been........gosh, I don't even know! Years & years!

I also talked to another friend this week who plans to drive down with her family in the next month or so to visit. I am way excited about this because our husbands are just the biggest goofballs together and have so much fun together. Well, they used to anyway..........he's never even met's been that long since we've seen him! I have a feeling though that their friendship will pick up where it left off! Krista & I keep up online and we have seen her since we have seen him, but it's still been probably since I was pregnant with Katie that we've seen her. They are from ACU, but we really weren't friends 'til we lived in Lubbock together as "young married people with NO kids.' Memories, memories. Since then, they've been blessed with 3 children and of course, we have our girls and I just really look forward to seeing them now that we're in the same state, although still probably 4 1/2 hours away! And....if Gracie decided to marry their oldest and Katie marry their middle, that'd be A-OK with us! Gracie said, "I don't know if I'm going to marry Blake. I've never met him." You never could be love at first sight!

It seems like there's so much more I could write, but it's late and I need to get to bed. People keep leaving comments about how great we're doing, etc. Things are going well, but please don't misunderstand. This is still a struggle because we left behind such great friends who I miss! I cried this week on the phone with a friend because she was expressing how she missed me and I kinda lost it. I'd been "so strong," but it hit me that she was a long, long way away. I have prayed for God to send me girlfriends and I know that He will. I don't want to replace my Aiken friends-just add to them. I know that He has plans for all of us here. It made me happy to watch Gracie at lunch as she was being silly with her new friend who is only about a month older than her-but it also made me think about she & LA and how much fun they always have together-and to hear about all the other 4 year olds that hopefully Katie will connect with. I loved meeting new people who welcomed us to church. But it's still hard.

I did like what our Bible Class teacher said this morning (the class was on 'worrying'), "I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future." I am holding onto that!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

this past week

This past week....let's see.........

Saturday, we went to the home of some new friends and had dinner. In Aiken, we'd gone to church with a lady and this new friend is her niece. The lady in Aiken had contacted her-she's just a few years older than me-and she & her husband have been SUCH a big help these last few weeks! She (Lisa) has told me SO much useful information about the area, the schools, apartments, etc. It was nice going to their home. Their 3 children and Gracie & Katie had lots of fun playing together. Gracie played 'American Girl' dolls with their 4th grade girl while Katie played played guns & light sabers with their 1st grade boy. Sounds about right to me! :)

Sunday morning, we visited the church of the above mentioned new friends. It was a very nice church with lots of friendly, welcoming people. One of the best things was that the PE teacher from Gracie's school attends there, so we were able to meet her. That really made me feel better about sending Gracie to school there the next morning. Tonight, Lisa emailed me saying that the coach said really sweet things about having Gracie in class. I guess she's already had PE on Monday & Tuesday and will again tomorrow. It's always good to hear sweet things about one of my girls!

Monday, Chris headed off for his first day of work while I took Gracie to her first day of her new school. Things went well for both of them. That night we went to a local steakhouse because it was one of those things where a portion of the proceeds went to benefit the school. Fine by me!

Tuesday, Chris's car FINALLY arrived! Things went well again for both Gracie & Chris. Katie & I explored a little more-finding a neighborhood I've heard a lot about and the outlet mall that's right at the entrance. That was fun! (Thanks Stephanie for telling me about it-it's definitely somewhere I want to explore more once we start seriously looking for a house!) I made my appointment with my new doctor. I'm glad to have that scheduled!

Today, Chris went into work a little late so he could return his rental car. Katie & I stayed pretty close to home most of the morning & afternoon. We did go out once to try to find a Babies R Us. Chris's cousin let us borrow his GPS unit which has been great, but it made me mad today because it seemed like it was taking me in circles. I never did get to the Babies R Us + this guy honked at me once and really scared me and I started crying! I really needed a Starbucks but never ended up getting one. I've lived in a relatively small town for a long time, so I'm having to get used to this Houston traffic! God has really had his angels watching over me because I know there have been a few times I've changed lanes a little too quickly and have somehow not caused any harm!

Tonight, we went to visit a church that was a little farther from home. My brother had told me about this church because one of his friends had moved here and attends it. I braved I-10 (which pretty much EVERYONE has warned us about!) by myself with the girls and 50 minutes later made it to the church! Chris's work is only about 20 minutes from the church so he just met us there. Getting onto I-10 was probably the worst part. Once on it, it's not like we went very fast b/c of all the other millions of people on there with me but we went along pretty steadily. Coming home, it only took about 30 minutes which isn't too bad.

Anyway, I LOVED the church! We met 3 people before we even entered the building and Gracie took off with a little 2nd grade girl whom she had JUST met. I was able to meet my brother's friend (his wife helped teach Gracie's class). There seemed to be lots of "our age" people and quite a few kids (and apparently there are more on Sundays which is typical). The adult class was well attended and very interesting. We even found out that there is a little girl who goes there (who wasn't there tonight because her mom was sick) who goes to Gracie's school and Gracie thinks she might actually be in her class! One of the people we met (who had the little 2nd grade girl) only live a couple of exits from us, so we know we're not the only people who would drive that far to church if we decided to go there. Apparently, lots of people drive quite a ways. I really, really liked it and look forward to visiting again Sunday. A lot of the men looked like they did similar type work to Chris and I could tell he was connecting with some of them which is nice.

I'm tired so I'm heading to bed soon. I miss my Aiken friends and have had a few moments of "panic" when I wonder what in the world I'm doing here rather than back in my comfortable little comfort zone, but I'm trying to trust in God and His leading. I'm just a creature of habit, so change is hard for me. Things are good though. I'm just trying to be real!

Monday, April 21, 2008

first day!

Chris & Gracie after arriving home on their 'first day!'

I'd like to post about all that's been going on, but I am soooo tired, SO this will be a short post. Today was Chris's first day at his new job and Gracie's first day at her new school. Both of them had a GREAT day! *whew* I was so nervous for Gracie, but she came home LOVING her new school! Yea Gracie!!!!! I KNEW deep down she would do great, but I still felt bad putting her through this transition. Sad thing is that since we're in an apartment, we'll likely be putting her through at least one more school change before we get settled into a house, but we'll just have to trust God to get us through that.
Chris also had a good day. Since he'd heard such horror stories about the traffic, he left WAY early this morning and ended up getting to work WAY early! This afternoon's traffic was not so good as this morning, but he tried running an errand and got lost so he ended up not completing the errand and taking awhile to get home. He was still home by 6:00 though, so that's not so bad.
We finally got wireless internet service at our apartment but still have some email kinks to work out. UGH We really like our apartment, have had dinner with some new friends, visited one church, and found more than 1 Target. Things are slowly getting unpacked. More later.........Please pray that our house sells soon!
Katie wanted to do a "funny face" picture, so here it is!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Quick update: We have arrived in Houston, TX! Our apartment lease doesn't start until tomorrow, so we are staying with Chris's family tonight. The girls have made themselves quite at home with "Aunt Pam" and 12 year old "Cousin Shelby." Part of the reason they're so into them may be because of the brand new jump rope, 'skip it,' and sidewalk chalk they bought them! There is an "Uncle Carroll" and a "Cousin Trey"and a "Cousin Ryan" as well, but they're much more interested in the 12 year old girl and aunt! I put "aunt" & "uncle" in quotes because Carroll is actually Chris's dad's 1st cousin so who knows how exactly that makes these particular family members related to my kids, but they are family and that's what's important!
Chris & I are going to the apartment tomorrow and hopefully meeting the movers to unpack our stuff. I hope to sleep in our new place tomorrow night!!!!!!!
Things are going well, but I am missing my South Carolina friends. My cell phone is getting a good work-out!
More later from the Lone Star State........

Thursday, April 10, 2008


What's going on:

*Packers have been here & gone.

*They will be back tomorrow to finish packing & to load the truck.

*Spent time packing suitcases and figuring out which things we didn't want loaded into the truck.

*Had to hold on tight so I wouldn't pass out when the plumber told me how much his repairs were going to cost!!!!!!!!!

*Have been very happy to receive our first official 'non family' dinner invitation for when we get to Houston! Chris's cousin has made it clear that we're welcome to visit them when we get there, but this invitation came from some new "friends" we've made. She is the niece to a lady we go to church with here in SC who has gone out of her way to help us as we make this transition and she invited us to dinner that first Saturday we'll be in town. Isn't the Christian bond wonderful?!?

*Chris got the fun job of going into the attic to drag down all the stuff we haven't looked at in years. Some of it will be moved to Houston, some of it met the trash can. After all, if we haven't missed it in the 6 years we've lived in the house, we probably don't need it, right?

*A great friend took the girls today for about 9 hours! I know the girls had lots more fun going to playgroup, playing at LA's house, and going to LA's softball practice than they would have had here with me watching the packers pack!

*Texted a prayer warrior friend when I started getting really stressed. She called back a little later and left the most wonderful prayer on my voicemail. It was so full of petitions to God for peace & help and all sorts of things that needed to be said. I love having her as a friend-and I love that we've been friends for over 20 years!

*Chris had to go to the bank because we had a suspicious check clear out of our account. It was a check number that was way off from the check numbers we're currently using. Apparently, the teller had cleared the check out of our account, but it was written on a completely different account! Thank goodness it was only for $12. What if it had been for a large amount?!? Goes to show how important it is to keep an eye on what's clearing out of your checking account!

*Another sweet friend brought by dinner for us-such a help!

*I had a prenatal massage which was really nice! Chris had gotten me a gift certificate for Valentine's Day and I didn't want to leave town without using it!

*Loved watching American Idol and hearing them sing, "Shout to the Lord!" Awesome!

*The girls (mainly Katie) were a little concerned about where all their toys were when they got home. To distract them a little, I 'stole' an idea from a friend and we played hide & seek! Since there were so many boxes in the house and it was getting dark, we turned off the lights (as many as Katie would let us) and played in the dark.

*Trying to finish up the laundry and will begin sorting through all the things we didn't allow to be packed and see if all of it will fit in the van!

*We will spend the weekend with some gracious friends who offered to let us stay with them until we pull out of town Monday or Tuesday.

Here are some pictures from our hide & seek game:

Apparently, people who work for moving companies don't have to pass spelling tests. Notice this box came from the "purpule room." I also saw a box that was full of "Tuppaware." *sheesh*

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

day at the park

There's so much going on (the packers come Thursday!) and I felt bad yesterday that the girls didn't really do much that was fun. Going with me to the doctor at 8:15 in the morning and waiting through my glucose test & regular visit & other test wasn't exactly at the top of their list of things to do! So...I told Gracie that we'd do something fun today. We ended up getting
take-out from 3 different places (McDonald's, Subway, & Honey Baked Ham) and going to the little park next to our library then going into the library. Here are some shots from the day-including a couple of the beautiful azaleas Aiken has to offer. I don't think we'll be seeing too many of those in Houston-although I am looking forward to seeing bluebonnets again!

Friday, April 04, 2008

two big things done!

Chris flew into Houston yesterday and met with his new boss & co-workers and got to see his new workspace. He said he felt very welcomed by everyone. I sure am glad because how horrible if he'd left with a bad feeling, right?!? He spent time in the Galleria mall which is somewhat near his new office-he thinks I'll like that! I'm excited that I'll now have an opportunity to meet him for lunch sometimes. His current work situation is behind a "secure" gate, so I've never been there.

Today, he has spent a large majority of his day driving around & looking into the 3 schools & apartments that I had narrowed it down to. He liked all of the schools but was unimpressed with one of the apartments (just from driving by) so that was a good way to eliminate that one. He really liked the 2nd apartments but they were quite a bit more expensive than the others we'd seen online. He liked the area a lot though. He drove to the other area, which was a completely different part of the city, and checked out that school & apartment complex. He said the lady at the school was probably the friendliest of the 3 schools & he liked it, and the apartments are very nice & pretty new & less expensive & they have a garage which will help with storage!!!!! One problem we've run into is the lease time. It is running into next school year which I didn't want it to do, BUT there may be a way to break it. Even so, this particular apartment is actually larger than our current house (which isn't big but isn't like a matchbox either) so we won't be anymore cramped there than we are here! We gotta do what we gotta do! So.....he has gone to the bank to get some cash and is going back to make a deposit which means we also know which school Gracie will be going to in a couple of weeks, too! *whew* Thank you, God!

As much as part of me is glad I'm home with the girls, getting to go to Gracie's awards day and Spring Party, there's a part of me that wishes I was there with him. He tends to not have as critical of an eye as I do-especially when it comes to schools. But then again......that could be a good thing because he's been able to choose one easier than I would and won't stress about it as much. We have talked to each other about a gabillion times so it's not like I haven't had a say, but he is the one there able to make an ultimate decision. It's good to have this part done!

Yesterday, the girls & I met Mrs. Hooks at McDonald's after school. I've spoken many times about how much I like her, so it was nice to spend some time with her visiting before we leave.

This morning was Gracie's awards day for the last 9 weeks. Since it started at 7:45, Katie & I just walked Gracie in. On the way in, we passed by Coach who has morning car line duty. I had tried to send him an email earlier in the week but didn't have the right address, so I was glad to get the chance to talk to him and take a 'last' picture of him with Gracie. My parents still tease me about having a crush on one of my first P.E. teachers, and we do the same with Gracie! He makes Gracie feel special, and we appreciate that. I realize the sweater with sandals may be an odd look, but it's supposed to be 80 today. However, apparently today doesn't mean this morning because it's coooold! She has on a real cute little dress but had to cover it up with the sweater-oh well!

At the awards ceremony, Gracie received recognition for all A's, A in conduct, and meeting her A.R. goal. Good job, Gracie! I didn't get good pictures of her standing during the event, but I thought this one was cute. I especially like seeing "C' in the background-trying to poke his head into the picture (boy to the left)-because he is 'special' to Gracie. She has quite the crush on him, and I think he may have a little crush on her too! She told me the other day that he said he was going to miss her when she moved and then another time he said he liked her new glasses. (Do you notice them-they're red! They are a little crooked though, so we need to have them adjusted.) Don't worry-we have the "you're too young to have a boyfriend but it's okay to think he's nice and to think he's cute" talk a lot! He really is a cutie & a sweetie!
This afternoon I went back to the school for Gracie's Spring Party. Here are a couple of cute pictures from the event.
Even though Gracie will be at school one more day, it kind of felt like her last day of school because there was a party. I wasn't sure I'd be able to take a lot of pictures that last day so I made the rounds today. Here she is with Miss Stack (now Mrs. Powell) from Kindergarten, Mrs. Stauffer from 1st grade, and of course, Mrs. Zimmerman from 2nd grade. They all will have special places in our hearts!
In just a little bit begins the much-looked-forward-to "2 night sleepover" between Gracie & LA! They have been planning this forever!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

We are blessed!

Tonight our sweet "our age" friends from church threw us a going away party. Although there is an element of excitement in making this transition to Texas, there are also so many bittersweet feelings as well. Goodness. We are so blessed to have these Christian friends in our lives-along with all of their children. There were 21 adults & 20 children (and 2 on the way)-the oldest child being 12 and next youngest being 8 and all the others younger than that! Our little church of around 150 members is certainly blessed with a bright future!

They presented us with a framed picture of our house with space for people to write on the mat, a "P is for Palmetto" South Carolina alphabet book for the girls, and a wonderful gift card to Target that we plan to put towards the 'travel system' for our new little one. We also 'mysteriously' never received a bill for our dinner thanks to the generosity of our friends.

Even though I do consider myself an emotional person-especially right now-I was able to hold back the tears. I am more of a 'cry by myself' person. I know it will come though. It's inevitable. I am in a little bit of denial right now....with so much to do it's a good place to be! :-)

We'll be having a fellowship meal Sunday night after church where more good-byes will be said. Once again-we are blessed.

I also have to say that poor Katie had a rough day. She got FIVE shots at her 4 year check-up! Today was also her last day at Parent's Day Out. Here she is with her "teachers," Miss Kayleen & Miss Cindy, along with the precious picture they made her.