Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Fostering Justice

For several years now I have been running. I do it because it's great exercise, it doesn't require much equipment, it helps me maintain my sanity, and because I actually (shockingly) like it!

Lately I have been battling again with an ongoing knee injury. As I was feeling frustrated and struggling with not being able to run as fast or as far as I would like, a verse in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 kept coming to mind. "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances." So I started being thankful in my circumstances.

I am thankful that I can run. I am thankful that I am healthy and that I have two strong legs. I am thankful that I live in a place where running is a hobby, not a necessity, and that I am able to run safely.

As I began to think about the things I was thankful for, it brought to mind all the people in the world who are not able to run. People who aren't able to run because they are too sick, because they are in prison, because they are not allowed, or because they are enslaved. So it led me to begin praying for those people, and also to ask God how I could do more than just run for sport. How could I further the kingdom of God while running? How I can run for those who can't?

Then my friend mentioned running for Team Freedom, and I knew that this was a tangible way that my running could affect more than just me. As a member of Team Freedom I will be raising funds to help women who have been enslaved in human trafficking. Women who might live across the world from me, or who might be only a few miles away. Women who are unable to fight for themselves, unable to speak for themselves, and unable to run. So I will run for them.

My goal is to raise $500 by January 16th. I know that this time of year can be tight financially, but I humbly ask that you would consider donating just a few dollars to this worthy cause, and also join me in praying for those who are experiencing such an enormous injustice. If you can't make a donation at this point, help me reach my goal by sharing this page on Facebook and Twitter. Or, even better, send an e-mail to friends you think might be interested in contributing and include a link to my page!

Donate here!
Thank you friends!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Happy Gotcha Day!

I honestly cannot believe that it's been a whole year since we met Lily for the first time! This year has been filled with much laughter, tears, growth, change, and smiles. And we wouldn't trade any of it!

Friday, October 31, 2014


This morning Matthew woke up really early, too excited to sleep because it was Halloween! Unfortunately for us, all of them were up by 6. Not sure how this is going to pan out when daylight savings time hits in a few days. Anyway, we started off our day by accompanying Matthew to school for his Spider Spook-tacular! The girls had a great time entertaining themselves in his classroom while the kindergarteners did different spider crafts. They made spider hats, ball spiders, paper spiders, and webs. Matthew couldn't wait to hide his spiders at home to scare Uncle Scott later. 

This year was Lily's first Halloween, and Caroline's first time really getting into it, so as soon as Brian got home from work we ate dinner and started getting ready to go trick-or-treating. They couldn't wait! This year Matthew requested a Captain Barnacles costume. Captain Barnacles is from the Octonauts, and of course they don't sell a Captain Barnacles costume so we had to make our own. I love how it came out! And it actually looks just like him! 

The entire time leading up to Halloween Caroline said that she wanted to be a butterfly. However, when the time came to put her wings on for dress up day at school yesterday, she cried like someone was sawing off her arms. Apparently elastic straps are just too much for her. So, at about 5:00 today I created costume option 2 - a pirate. This one went over much better, and she kept running around the house yelling Arrrr! and waving her sword. She wasn't a fan of the bandana I tried to get her to wear on her head, but she loved the eye patch and kept it on all night, even after trick-or-treating! 

Originally when Caroline was going to be a butterfly, we thought it would be perfect for Lily to be a caterpillar. And of course the very hungry caterpillar was way too perfect to pass up. The only very hungry caterpillar costume out there is from Pottery Barn for an exorbitant amount of money, so I decided to make hers too. I did some online research and managed to create her caterpillar body. Then I bought her some striped tights and borrowed an already created hat from a friend. To say she looked hilarious and adorable is an understatement! 

So once everyone was fed and ready we headed out. Every year we get attacked by mosquitoes in our neighborhood right at dusk, so we were hoping to finish before that happened. The weather was absolutely amazing, and for once the kids weren't sweating in their costumes! The first few houses we went to Lily couldn't understand why on earth people were giving her candy. She would stand there with it in her hand, lift it up and show it to us, then stare at it, and repeat. We kept telling her that it was hers to put in her bucket. I think she finally got the picture, but she definitely did not waste any time asking us to open every single thing that she got! Matthew and Caroline were a little shy at first, not wanting to stand too close to the door or say trick-or-treat, but a few houses in they got into the swing of things. Normally we only go to about 10 houses, but this year they were having so much fun that we went all over the place! And Brian and I really enjoyed seeing our neighbors and getting to catch up with them as we walked around. We probably would have stayed out longer, but those blasted mosquitoes showed up again! Even with the cooler weather and the wind. Grrrr. 

Back home the kids had a great time hanging out with Baba, Daideo, Uncle Scott, Aunt Catie, and Emmy. And Caroline became quite the candy distributor! Every time the doorbell rang she ran over, grabbed the basket, and greeted our trick-or-treaters. When it was time for bed I think she was more disappointed that she couldn't hand out candy anymore than she was about trick-or-treating being over! She asked me when Halloween would come again because it was so much fun. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

I'm not old enough to have a kindergartener

Well, I can't hide from it any more. Matthew is officially a "big kid" and started kindergarten today. I must say I did a pretty great job of avoiding the topic all summer long. The first day of school seemed so far in the distant future, I just kept it there. I thought this was a great plan, until I started realizing things like "I'm not exactly sure what time I need to leave the house to get to school on time. And I might actually need to start setting an alarm to get everyone ready. Are Matthew's uniforms ready? No?" So then I was forced to face the facts and start preparing all of us for kindergarten. This looked a lot like me again pretending it wasn't happening so I wouldn't cry and having conversations with Matthew about how great his year was going to be and how exciting it was to go to kindergarten (which obviously were way more for my benefit than his). He picked out his new Hot Wheels back pack and lunch box that lights up and is super cool, we got all of his school supplies ready, I finally sewed those patches on his uniform shirts, and we finished all the items on our summer bucket list. Then on Saturday I couldn't avoid it any longer - Rowlett Parent University and Open House arrived.

Now I'm assuming most if not all of the people who read this blog know that I have the super awesome and unique situation of sending my son to the school where my dad is the principal. And not only that, but Rowlett Academy is literally the best public school in the county. You might think I'm a little biased, and maybe that's true, but hundreds of other parents share the same sentiment. Oh, did I mention that his kindergarten teacher is absolutely amazing? She is. I've known her since I was about 8 years old, and grew up playing with her kids at school functions that my parents were attending. We both admit that it is a little strange that I'm old enough to have a child in her class (last I checked I was still 27, where did the last 6 years go?) but I am so blessed to have such a loving, nurturing, funny, amazing person taking care of my little amazing person every day when I'm not with him.

So, we went to Rowlett University on Saturday morning. Brian and I went to two workshops together and learned about how the brain works and everything to expect about our year in kindergarten. Then Brian drove back to get Matthew during the third session so that he could eat lunch with us. Matthew was pumped to not only ride in Daddy's jeep, but also to see Daideo and to have both parents all to himself. We enjoyed a delicious lunch from Olive Garden before retrieving all of Matthew's school supplies and his first homework assignment from the car. (Mrs. Bolno sent him a letter and asked him to draw his favorite farm animal. Of course he had it done early, so we brought it with us.)

Then it was off to his new classroom. If you know Matthew you know that he is a little shy and timid when he feels overwhelmed. The classroom was pretty crowded with students and parents, so we just let him take his time and explore. He found magnifying glasses and some super cool rocks to look at so he did that for a while. Then Mrs. Bolno came over and he showed her his drawing of a goat. One of the things I love about her is how special she makes every kids feel. As soon as she saw it she told him how awesome it was and insisted that they go out to the bulletin board and find a spot to hang it right away. Matthew played shy, but I could tell he was bursting with pride on the inside. They found just the right spot, stood back to examine it like real artists, and headed back in the room. At this point Matthew discovered the box of legos, so while he was busy with that I unloaded his school supplies. We let him play a little longer, and then headed home. He was happy, we were happy.

So all of a sudden here comes Monday morning! The night before we laid out Matthew's clothes, got his backpack and lunch ready, and headed to bed early. I thought I would have to wake him up this morning, but when I got back from my run he was already awake. I guess he was excited! We actually managed to get everyone ready and in the car on time, and then took our traditional first day pictures.

When we got to Matthew's class he went to his seat, and Lily sat right down next to him like she was in kindergarten too. Mrs. Bolno came over and gave Matthew a hug, then showed him where to put his lunch and snack and where to keep his backpack. He seemed pretty comfortable so we took a quick picture and then left. Miraculously I didn't cry! I kept myself pretty busy all day because I was pretty sure that as soon as I sat down to think I would lose it. Surprisingly it didn't seem all that long before it was time to pick Matthew up again. Daideo walked him out and I got a huge hug and a smile!

I didn't want to overwhelm him with too many questions since I knew he'd be tired, so I just asked him if he had fun and he said he did. Then he said that he did have one bad thing happen. He got a bloody nose. Poor kid! A nosebleed on the first day of school! Thankfully I had given his teacher a heads up about his frequent nosebleeds and had prepped him on what to do if he got one at school. He told me that he was brave and didn't cry at all, and that he made a new friend who walked him to the clinic. He doesn't remember his friend's name or what he looks like, but he was excited that God answered his prayer to make new friends already! And he and his friend have planned to both wear red shirts tomorrow. Good thing I bought two red ones! The other things that I got out of him today were that he saw Daideo on the announcements, at lunch, and in his classroom. He told me how Daideo taught everyone how to do the pinky wave. I asked him if he was supposed to call him Daideo or Mr. Flynn and he said "Mr. Flynn. Well, actually I'm not sure." He of course liked recess the best, and told me that he only got to go on the swings, because when he was going to "the other thing" Mrs. Bolno said it was time to line up. I was glad that he went and lined up right away! He sat with his friend Jacob at lunch, he learned some Spanish, he met all the specials teachers, and was excited that the P.E. teacher was a man.

After school we celebrated with some frozen yogurt at Menchie's with Jacob, of course went swimming, and then went to dinner at Hungry Howie's. Then it was time to institute early bed time! I loved just spending time snuggling with Matthew. My favorite was what he wanted to pray for tonight. He wanted to pray that he would stay on green forever, that he would listen to Mrs. Bolno, and that he wouldn't get any more nosebleeds. How I love that little boy!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Our Beach Staycation

A few months ago we decided to take advantage of the beautiful beaches in our backyard and book a beach vacation over the 4th of July. We found a cute little condo with a gorgeous view right on the gulf side of the island. We checked in Tuesday evening for the week. It was so nice being away from the daily grind, but still being local. Tuesday night we went out to dinner at the Sandbar. We realized that we hadn't been there in almost 3 years!

Wednesday morning Brian went to work (he's taking off next week for me to go to El Salvador and didn't want to take off an entire week again) and the kids and I headed down to the beach. It was slightly overcast and pretty windy which made the temperature really comfortable. We played in the sand for a few hours, then headed back in for a snack. Good thing we did, because a storm rolled in and blew everything and everyone off the beach! After a Publix run, lunch, and naps we decided to venture out to the library to get some entertainment for the week. Thankfully when Brian got home the weather cleared up, so after a quick dinner in the condo we rode our bikes down to the city pier and got some ice cream.

Thursday Brian headed to work again, and of course we went back down to the beach! The kids did a great job playing together and we had wonderful weather again. We have this funny trend where we coincidentally plan vacations to the same place at the same time as the Johnsons, so of course they were staying out on the island this week too! After lunch the kids and I headed over there to swim for the afternoon. When Brian got home went back out to the beach again. The kids got to fly their kites and Brian spent some time in the kayak. Unfortunately he couldn't convince any of them to go with him! We had another dinner at home and put the kids to bed early since the night before there was lots of crying and not much sleeping. Then Emily and Dave came over and we hung out for a few hours.

Friday was July 4th, and filled our day with fun! In the morning we got donuts from Anna Maria Island donuts. They were as amazing as we heard they were! Then we spent the morning on the beach with the Johnsons. We came back up for lunch and to rest before an evening full of fun! We invited friends out to the condo to watch fireworks and to eat some delicious Hickory Hollow BBQ. We definitely fit a lot of people into a tiny space! When it was time for fireworks we went back to the beach. We enjoyed some small fireworks and sparklers while waiting for it to get dark. We were surprised by how many people were setting off legit fireworks up and down the beach. We were just planning on watching the ones put on by the Sandbar, but were thrilled with the extra bonus! Caroline wasn't quite thrilled though. As soon as a loud one went off she got scared and started crying. Brian had to take her back inside.

Saturday morning we woke up and opted for a change of scenery. So we decided to take a bike ride! But after discovering how hot it was and how much traffic was still on the island we only made it to the library. The kids had a great time climbing on the stuffed animals, doing puzzles, and listening to stories. Then we hit the beach again in the afternoon. We spent a lot of time finding coquinas!

Saturday was also our 11 year anniversary, and Emily was super awesome in finding a babysitter that could come to the condo so Brian and I could go out for dinner! Brian made reservations at Beach Bistro, and since it was only a few blocks away we were able to walk down the beach to get there. We enjoyed a delicious dinner and some dessert, then walked back on the beach while the sun was setting.

After a little more beach time Sunday morning we got ready to go out for lunch. The weather was looking questionable, so we opted for the car instead of bikes and headed to Rod 'n' Reel pier. Then Sunday evening we invited our church small group out to the beach. We enjoyed some frisbee, kayaking, and chatting on the beach until the sun went down.

Monday was our last day at the beach, and unfortunately it was really rainy. It rained pretty much all morning and wasn't supposed to stop so we decided that if we were going to be stuck inside we'd rather be stuck in our house. So we packed everything up and checked out a day early. But before we left the island we stopped at Poppo's Tacos for a delicious lunch.