Friday, March 28, 2014

Practicing Gratitude 3.28.14

- A very happy 14th to Bran...

- Essie's non-stop love for playing school. Usually by herself, as she's got the entire sun room organized as her classroom. She is, of course, "teacher" to Daboo and Basden here. 

- Making the most of a rainy day. Love that they still do this.

- Finding this note in the sunroom. Out of the mouths of babes. Grateful that love covers a multitude of sins - for both of us. 
Before selfies come the self-drawings. This one with self-inflicted tears.

- Essie's inner artist, and that Mrs. Pauling offers it opportunity to grow.

- Her very creative invention. That she took ownership of the project, and that it's over.

- Our driveway filled with great boys. Thrills my heart.

- I signed her up for basketball as an outlet for her competitive spirit. We weren't disappointed. Even down to her "Reid method" of making baskets.

- A full kitchen - with Papa making his guac!

- Honor choir. Getting to sing at a nursing home, among other neat events. She absolutely loves it.

- Running into an old friend. How very grateful I am for his music that streams into our home regularly. Thank you, David, for continuing to take risks in using your gifts in a vulnerable, authentic way. I've listed you in these gratitude posts before.  A treat to get to see you face-to-face.

- A phone call from Nickmo, and then getting to catch up for half an hour. What a gem.

- Phone call from Hud's PE teacher, Mr. Cartwright. Precious and meant so much.

- Kevin and his investment in Branson the past two years. So grateful.
Kevin, our middle school pastor, has calmly talked me off the ledge with reassuring words regarding parenting middle school boys
- My trip to the Apple Store. Breathed a quick prayer in the parking lot before going in that it would be productive - you never know. Not only did they combined my two "issues" into one appointment, but I got our laptop fixed quickly and inexpensively.

- Mark Gregston's website and weekly newsletter. Bless him.

- A backyard ringing with little girls' laughter

- Waking Basden up this morn. She had to be at school early, and I woke her when it was still dark. She lumbered out of bed happily and came downstairs with me with the sweetest countenance. She's just happy to greet the day. So precious. After what I put my parents through, I don't deserve her.

- That Essie can talk her big brother's friends into helping her with cheerleading stunts
Love these boys.
- Sunday nights with Aubrey. A jewel. And direct answer to prayer.

- Sweet school friends.

- The start of Spring baseball. Happy happy happy.
Hud  refusing to wear his UT hat during practice. I'm ok with this kind of rebellion.

- Saying yes to something I don't want to do, and God faithful in softening my heart

- Track - the finale of middle school sports era for Bran. He qualified for the City Championship meet TONIGHT in high jump, triple jump, and both hurdles ~ and he's more than a little nervous.

This kid gave Bran a run for his money. B hoping fora  successful re-match tonight... we'll see!
- Late on Monday night after a track meet, following a packed weekend, Corbin helping Bran with his homework. What a long-suffering daddy.
What cracked me up most - he's using colored pencils to draw the examples. Isn't this what all grown men do at 11 pm?
- Hud going door-to-door on our street selling cookie dough for choir, and Basden and Esther accompanying him as his managers - and the fact that he let them tag along. They both came downstairs sporting McLean shirts that Hud provided, Essie complete with a tutu and clipboard (Hud did ask that she not carry the clipboard and ginormous flower pen, but he relented when she insisted). Wish I had a pic of this one.

- Two signs of independence in my children - Hud shaking his head and looking at me like I was crazy when I asked if he needed me to walk with him door-to-door. And then a few minutes later Basden scooting up to my laptop to reply to one of her teachers, when I intended to reply myself. She wanted to take responsibility in the communication, and I gladly passed the baton. Reminds me of Mom teaching us independence by moving the cereal bowls to the bottom cabinet when we were young. Grateful this independence is passing down the generations.

- That Hud's cookie-dough sales were successful - thank God for great (generous!) neighbors - can always count on the Worleys and sweet TCU girls!

- An impromptu Saturday dinner with friends ~ really sweet evening

- Hud as George Muller, "Guardian of Bristol's Orphans" for Night of the Notables. Muller - what a hero.
The "wizard wig" we shaved down minutes before the event... thx for the inspiration, KDS!
- Hud (Muller) and Mitchell (Houdini)
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- How, at 7, Essie sees herself.
May her perspective continue...

- Spring tulips. Bulbs that Basden and I planted last fall and haven't touched since sprouted up and surprised us. The wonder of spring.

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles...   1 Chronicles 16:11-12

Monday, March 24, 2014

Bon Voyage ~ Spring Break '14

I spent a few hours (yes - hours) last week trying to put our Spring Break trip into words, but Corbin summed it up nicely in this email to my brother Trey -
Trey - Don’t know if you had talked to your mom/dad about our trip, but we planned a Spring Break cruise out of New Orleans with them, our family and my parents and whew… now I need a vacation.  I’m sure Ton will write an engaging memoir on her blog soon, but it was full of what are now comical elements - dragging along a 14 yr old bemoaning an 8 hr car trip, who became horribly respiratory/fever sick as we pulled out of Ft Worth, Esther literally FAINTING, crashing on the pavement completely dehydrated/disoriented as we were unloading at the port, then throwing-up outside the restaurant after breakfast the first day (they love people throwing up on cruise ships), a 6 hr private fishing trip in the Bahamas with a rude Capt. Jack Sparrow and caught ONE fish – then Friday, your sister couldn’t lift her head off the pillow, never left the cabin the entire last day, then we got to our car at the port and the back has been SMASHED in. Corbin then got to unpack 6 bags, wash 7 loads of clothes, and take care of 4 kids for 2 days after driving home from New Orleans and answering 193 emails while your poor sis is in bed trying not to throw-up. It really was fun overall, but doubt we repeat again soon!
Our trip in a nutshell.

"I'm just so curious what the Lord has for us," I had said to my friend Skylar on a walk the week before Spring Break. "I know that even on a Caribbean cruise, He has something for us - someone to meet, some experience, something."

I'm still not exactly sure what that "something" was, but a couple of days into our trip Corbin looked at me and said, "You know why the Lord is doing all this, right?"
I looked at him, half wondering what his reasoning could be, and half grateful that I wasn't the only one who thought things were going less than smoothly.
"So that if you write about this on your blog, no one's gonna be jealous."

We certainly got off with a bumpy start. And kind of circled back that way, if you count the $1500 fender bender we discovered when getting back to my car. But already, just a week out, the memories are favorable. And comical.

A few lessons learned and things we hope to remember -
- If you choose to leave DFW for Spring Break again at 5pm on Friday afternoon, go ahead and tack on a couple extra hours for traffic. And construction.

- It's possible that teenage boys might not be excited about driving 7.5 hours (really 9.5 with said traffic), especially when their parents won't tell them where they're going. But regardless, keep up your expectations that they will be giddy and excited.

- Angst in teenage boy might escalate if he breaks his thumb at school that day, and if his head hurts so badly from congestion that he can't even look side to side. 

- Monitor otherwise healthy 7-year-old daughter riding in way back of suburban for fever and dehydration. Could possibly result in black-out-fainting while unloading bags from car at port.

- Quickly fill out "no fever" and "not aware of any sickness or viruses" on the health form while checking onto ship - even with a limp daughter slung over your shoulder, and even as you're stuffing decongestants, advil, tylenol, and gatorade down two of your kids just to get color back in their faces.
One sickie carrying another through the port
- The buffets on board are truly amazing, especially for teenage boys (and grandfathers) with hollow legs. But take care that passengers are crazy the first day. Consider yourself warned. All of those people who probably drove through McDonalds an hour before they arrived at the ship get on board and hit the food lines like scavengers. What in the world do the cruise staff think of us crazy, gluttonous Americans??!

- Teen activities / curfew on Royal Caribbean ends at 1:00 am. Hello.

- As a mom, if you're going to get sick on a cruise, get really sick and make it the last full day so that your mother and mother-in-love can pack all of your family's bags. Helpful if you still can't get out of bed after arriving home so that your husband can do all the "re-entry" work of laundry, mail, and unpacking for the entire family.

- Now... onto the FUN memories... Basden and I loved watching the belly flop contest together- won by a woman!

Once she started feeling better, Essie made a friend (or five)

Cute boys. Zooming in from my pool chair.
And then he spotted me zooming in.
- Watching Branson come ALIVE watching Frozen. Yes, Frozen. The rest of us have been telling him for weeks how great it is, and he totally snubbed us, until he got bored and wandered into a showing on the ship. He was back in the theater the next night, bringing with him a handful of sixteen and seventeen-year-old guys. Once home, he promptly purchased the movie and soundtrack.

- Boys playing basketball constantly. With his hurt thumb, it was Thursday before Bran was able to play with his right hand. But he made it work, and the court was such a great outlet for activity.

- Pretty flowers and even prettier ladies in Key West

Hudda enjoying his lobster. He surprised us with his adventurous palate - including escargot.
- Finding these on our beds each night. Small gestures of joy!

My fav.
- Our kids have the most amazing grandparents ever. EVER. As hard as we try not to, I know we take them for granted. Amazing, young, healthy, helpful, upbeat and fun. Goodness.
Cappy and Daboo, Mama and Papa
- We had trouble initially getting a dinner assignment for all ten of us and were told we likely couldn't all sit together. But after the first dinner, it worked out that we were assigned to the Captain's table for the week - a big round table in the middle of the dining room. Over and above.

- A gorgeous day fishing in Nassau, Bahamas on the crystal clear turquoise water. I got to go with all the guys, and the weather and scenery were absolutely incredible. 
Hud's barracuda

He was ready.
So was he.
We saw dolphin fish all around us in the water, but none took the bait. All day. None. Seriously.  
That ocean was full of fish, but except for Hud's barracuda, it just wasn't our day. We took turns fully blaming our guide (did I mention he was rude?!)
- Basden ~ all she hoped for was getting to the beach ("Pleeeeeeze let it be Florida!" she begged time and again before spring break). But alas, on our one "beach" day at Royal Caribbean's private island, the day after the fishing trip, we weren't able to tender to shore because of weather. Our island day was cancelled and we were given an extra day on the ship. Basden just sobbed when we told her, but her pretty face held this grin again pretty quickly. 

- Our one group pic... grateful for loads of memories and laughter amidst the crazy. Thankful for a thoughtful husband who put all of this together, who insisted on keeping the cruise a surprise for the kids, and who kept a good sense of humor even when folding laundry once home. We loved our special time with grandparents - and we needed you!!

Until next time... and according to Corbin, that will be a low-key fishing trip in the Ozarks.