Friday, December 31, 2010

Post Christmas trip

Monday after Christmas, we spent quite a bit of time de-Christmasing the house! I like having all of the pretty Christmas things around the house, but I have to admit that when Christmas is over, I like having it all put away.

Tuesday after Christmas, we headed to San Antonio! We love San Antonio. Chris has an aunt & uncle who live there, and a cousin with a baby we hadn't met yet, so we contacted them about coming to visit. We ended up staying with Karla & T.O. (Chris' aunt & uncle) and having dinner with them and Vince, Ashley (Chris' cousin), & Connor. Gramps & Gramme had dinner with us, too. Connor is such a sweetie, so it was really great getting to meet him and letting the girls have a chance to meet him as well.

Wednesday, Gramps & Gramme headed back to New Mexico while our little family headed to Uvalde. Chris & I lived in Uvalde from July 1997-April 2001. Gracie was 9 months old when we moved to SC from Uvalde. The 3 of us went back to visit in December 2001, and Chris went back one other time. Uvalde was where I taught for 3 years, and there are some people there who are really special to us, so we took the opportunity to go back to visit.

It's always kind of funny to go back to a place where we once lived. Kind of bitter sweet in a way. One of the main couples we wanted to see, Ron & Kay Royal, weren't there, and we were really looking forward to seeing them. Another couple that is really special to us is Bob & Kathy Lester, and we were able to have dinner & go to church with them.
Both of these couples were 'surrogate grandparents' to Gracie for the first 9 months of her life. We joked with Kathy & Gracie last night that Kathy held Gracie in church for those first 9 months, not us! :) Bob prayed at church and said something about being thankful that we were there and how it helps him to remember that we have people all over that will one day (in Heaven) all be together. There were a couple of other specific ones I wish we'd been able to see, specifically Steve & Linda Forehand.

Chris & I have been blessed to make special friends in each place we've lived: Abilene, Lubbock, Uvalde, Aiken, and now Houston. I'm thankful for the path God leads us on throughout life.

Another special person we were able to see was Letty! She & I taught next door to each other for the 3 years I taught 2nd grade at Anthon. She is a great teacher. She & I have very different backgrounds, and I loved being friends with her and learning from her. I wanted to see her since we were there, but I didn't have her phone number, but I vaguely remembered where she lived. So...we drove to her house, and I knocked on the door, and she opened it, knowing immediately who I was even though she didn't know I was coming and it had probably been 9 years since we'd seen each other! I am blessed to know her.

This is a distant picture of my old classroom. I taught in the 3rd door, the yellow one. It seems like a lifetime ago.

The hospital where Gracie was born was very, very, very small. Here it is! She started out her life in this world at 5 lbs. 11 oz. in this hospital.

Wow...I drove through this place morning after morning to pick up my Dr. Pepper or diet Coke on the way to teach for the day. I almost expected someone to recognize when we drove in today. ha!

When we first moved to Uvalde, we rented a house which was located behind this gate. This gate brought me frustration many times because the man who owned the land also owned some horses & donkeys who liked to stand right next to the gate. When I'd open it (with a remote opener) and it would open & close slowly, those stupid donkeys would walk right on out. Oh my goodness! I hated it! Those things wouldn't listen to me. probably wasn't near as bad as I remembered, and 9 times out of 10, they probably didn't get out, but the few times they DID, I hated it! I felt so much responsibility because I knew our landlord would be pretty mad if one of his donkeys got hit by a car because I let them out! I always liked it if his worker guy was out because they would listen to him and not get out!

We also owned our first house in Uvalde. We loved that house and were anxious to drive by and see it again. Wow...we were disappointed. It didn't look good at all. I don't think it has been taken care of very well. Very disappointing because we really loved that house. It had such character.

Uvalde is quite the small town, which has grown some over the years. It has a cute little square that has a lot of charm.

This morning, before we left, we enjoyed going to the little gas station cafe and getting a breakfast taco. Yum! Seriously, I know it sounds weird, but there's a gas station that has a little restaurant attached that sells breakfast tacos that are really good!

When we left Uvalde this morning, we headed to San Antonio. We hoped to meet up with LeAnna, another friend from Uvalde who now lives there, but it didn't work out. Mark Hale was our preacher in Uvalde when we were there, and LeAnna was his wife. Sadly, Mark died a few years ago of cancer. He was a great preacher! We keep in touch with LeAnna through Facebook, etc., so we'll keep trying to get together with her. She also spent her fair share of time loving on Gracie for those first 9 months of her life!

We went down to the Riverwalk, one of our favorite places to be! We went through the Alamo and walked around the mall then went to eat at Casa Rio, our most frequented Riverwalk restaurant.
Katie & her daddy are dancing to the mariachi players in the background.

Katie & Ellie were dying to ride the Riverboat once they saw them floating down the river, so we did. It's always fun to ride them and listen to the San Antonio history.

Chris & I stayed in this hotel for an anniversary once, so it's special to us.

After we left the river, we went back to Karla's because Trey, Chris' cousin, had just gotten to town. We hadn't seen him years, but we love him and didn't want to pass up an opportunity to see him. He has traveled the world as part of the Army, and we're thankful he's returned safely from many stays in Iraq. He was stationed in Augusta, which is near Aiken, for awhile while we lived there, and we enjoyed being close to him during that time. He even babysat Gracie & Katie for us a couple of times years ago. Katie was probably about Ellie's age at the time!

We enjoyed our short trip; it was fun! I'm a sentimental fool, so it was neat to see things that made us think of times past. Tomorrow is New Year's Eve....a new year will soon begin. Prayerfully, we'll bless others and be blessed by others in this new year and will grow closer to God.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


*Update* I forgot to write about our annual cookie decorating day, so I'm adding it here at the top now.
I am having technical difficulties getting more pictures on here, but here is one. The Monday after school let out, we enjoyed our 3rd year of Christmas cookie decorating with Emily & some other friends. Such fun!

Christmas 2010 has come & gone. New Year's Eve is tomorrow. It's been a whirlwind!

Gracie & Katie got out of school on the 17th, with a half day, and I decided to take them to the zoo. One of the great things about Houston is that in December we can have great weather! Cool but not too cold! It was a great day for going to the zoo, and we had a really fun time.

The next day, I spent a couple of hours at HEB, shopping for our upcoming Christmas company! While there, I picked up a gingerbread cookie kit & gingerbread tree kit. The girls had fun decorating.

Ellie, being creative

She really liked using the icing!

Katie's cookies

The Sunday before Christmas, we decided to move Ellie to her big girl bed. *sniff, sniff* It was way later than when Katie moved (I don't remember when Gracie moved, but Katie's move is recorded in my blog.) Chris had been pushing me to do it for a long time, and we finally went for it. It's hard to believe she's getting so old!

Here she is, kicking back in her big girl bed! For now, she just has a frame; we'll add to it later and make the room cute eventually, but it's a start! So far, she has done great & hasn't fallen off...yet!

Wednesday, the 22nd, our first round of company arrived. Gramps & Gramme came from New Mexico. Thursday, the 23rd, Mike & Erin, along with Sara Jane & Cullen, arrived from Burleson. Let the fun begin! The cousins had a great time playing together! It was loud & crazy, but happy memories were made, and that's part of what Christmas is all about! It was good.

For Christmas Eve breakfast, we had "Orange Walnut Sunrise Coffee Cake" (or something like that...I can't remember the exact title) and a breakfast casserole with eggs, shredded cheese, sausage, tomatoes, spinach, & feta cheese. I thought it was really good!

3 of the girls having Christmas Eve breakfast. I don't think they waited for the good stuff and ate pop tarts! Oh well, more for us! :)

We decided to do some shopping that day, and we enjoyed looking around & snapping some pictures of the kids.

Every year, the girls get Christmas Eve pj's. I try to choose ones that represent them. Gracie got 'peace' ones. Katie got 'cupcake' ones. Ellie got 'monkey' ones. (She had an imaginary monkey for awhile!)

After quite a bit of assembly time, Santa's gifts were ready! Ellie got a little nursery for her baby dolls, with a feeding seat, bathtub, & crib.

Gracie knows all about the truth of Santa, but it's still fun to pretend. She got a bunch of art stuff.

Katie got a Black & Decker tool workbench! :)

Our kids have strict instructions that they are not allowed to go downstairs until we tell them they can. I like to record these moments. Katie bounded into our bed really early, and I was able to snap a picture of her excitement as she anxiously waits to be allowed downstairs!

The 3 big girls, anxious to see their presents!

Katie was thrilled with the tools!

Ellie is checking out her nursery.

Another favorite gift for Katie was "Ultimate Buzz!" She loves it! (It really is a cool toy!)

A favorite for Gracie, which really surprised her, was a DSi!

Our girls had a blessed usual, as did we! :) Katie was so sweet to wrap up gifts for many of us...mainly pictures she drew or things laying around her room. I loved her sweet heart for giving. Gracie brought me to tears with a journal she gave us, complete with poems about our family. It is precious, and I'll probably blog specifically about it later.

For breakfast, I made "Gorilla Bread" and was able to serve it on a new white cake stand my parents sent me. I love it! We also had "Sausage Biscuit Bites."

Sara Jane also got a DSi, so they had fun playing together.

Our table all set for Christmas dinner. We had ham, mashed potatoes, macaroni & cheese, green beans with bacon & brown sugar, 'pink salad,' deviled eggs, rolls and multiple desserts!

Sweet baby Cullen. His parents call him, "Mayhem." Well, he IS active, but he is also a cutie & a sweetie! :)

Part of our group, complete with the kids' table in the background!

Mike & Erin left early the next morning, but we were able to snap a picture of Gramps & Gramme with all of their grandchildren.

It was good to all be together.