Thursday, September 23, 2010

First day of school! First day of school!!!

Posing for the 1st day of school photo out in the courtyard.

Rob letting the boys in the front door, welcoming them for their 1st day of school.

Boys walking out in the back yard on their way to the front door so we can kick off our school year.

Box day! The boys open the box with our new homeschool curriculum. It is always exciting to see the new books we will be reading and studying from--Box Day generally happens a couple of weeks or so before our official start date.

August 25 marked the official start to our new school year. Although we had been doing school off-and-on all summer long, we decided to have the official new year kick-off date be the same day that Rob started teaching classes at UTPA. To celebrate, I fixed an Italian breakfast casserole for breakfast (that truly only Rob, Aidan and I appreciated--David complained quite loudly about the fact that there were tomatoes and olives in it!), then Rob sent the boys out the back door with their backpacks so we could greet them at the front door to welcome in the new school year. We had purchased a model airplane for each of the boys that was tucked into their backpacks. My initial intent was to have them build their planes after they completed all of their schoolwork; however, they were so excited to have the planes that I allowed them to build them before we started the day's lessons. Even with building their planes, they still had their assignments for the day completed by 11:00 a.m. It was so nice to begin our year on a good note!

Last year, I read somewhere (either on a blog, or in a homeschooling newsletter that I subscribe to) about different traditions people have to kick off the new school year. Homeschooling is unique in the sense that many of us, intentionally or unintentionally, school year-round, so there is no real "first day" to prepare for like our private and public school counterparts have. So, I wanted to make the first day of what I considered our new year to be meaningful and exciting.

Sending the kids out the back door and welcoming them at the front was one of the traditions I read about and started for our family last year. This year, I added the "surprise" of the model airplanes in their backpacks to celebrate the special occasion. Next year, I will probably tweak things a bit, or will add something else as well to help make that first day special, memorable and meaningful for each of my boys.

A Happy Birthday and Celebration of Fall.

My 3 guys in Gruene, TX - 2010

Glimpse of Fall - Taken in Virginia, 2005

First off, I want to wish my husband a very happy birthday today--may your 33rd year of life bring with it many blessings and much happiness. Thank you for being such an amazing husband, my best friend, and an awesome father to our 2 boys. I love your servant's heart--how much you want to serve God and serve others. I love your sense of humor and how you bring immeasurable joy to our household each and every day. I cannot imagine my life without you, Dr. Cubmaster, Ph.D. You have enriched it more than I could have ever thought possible. God definitely knew what he was doing when he had our paths cross 11 1/2 years ago. :)

P.S. You don't look a day over 25!

Secondly, yesterday ushered in the first day of my favorite season--autumn. Sadly enough though, it's a season that I don't really get to experience where I currently live. So, I'll bring out photographs of fall scenes I have experienced in years past, bake my favorite fall treats, light fall-scented candles and will imagine the sights, smells and the feel of autumns of years past. That, and I'll excitedly wait for my trip to Boston next month--guess that the quote from the VeggieTales song The Pirates Who Don't do Anything where they sing "...and I've never been to Boston in the fall" will no longer ring true for me. ;-)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

More Vacation Photos...

You know you're loved when Grams bakes your favorite pies for you! Huckleberry for me, banana cream for Robbie! Gramma Royleen baked my other favorite pie for me when we were in Idaho, peach. Yum!!!

D with the little sunfish that he caught out at Waitts Lake

Boys playing in the Puget Sound (Whidbey Island in the background)

Life is never dull with these two crazies around. :)

Family photo just outside Leavenworth, WA

Friday, August 20, 2010

Vacation in Photos, Part 1

Boys @ the Columbia River--Mt. Hood in the distance

Multnomah Falls, Oregon -- beautiful. We all hiked up to the top!
Flight Mileage: Approximately 4900 miles, round-trip
Mileage put onto the rental car driving all over the Pacific Northwest: Approximately 2400 miles
A lot of ground was covered over 3 weeks!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

He's 6!

This post is a little late--considering how his birthday was 2 months ago; however, I did promise the little man that I'd do a birthday post for him this year (since I didn't get to it last year...). We had a blast at his superhero training camp themed birthday party. The guests received their felt masks upon their arrival--to protect their identities of course. Isn't that what all superheros need to learn first? :) They went through their superhero training course, received their personalized superhero capes at their "graduation ceremony," they ate lunch, they had cupcakes and helped Aidan open his presents, then they had fun splashing around in the swimming pool. It was a great birthday for a super terrific boy!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Meandering Deep in the Heart of Texas.

Nothing quite says "home" to this girl raised in wheat country like grain elevators.

Our first time experiencing the beauty of the Texas state flower - bluebonnets (and my, were they pretty!)

Bluebonnets - a view from the city park in Crawford, TX

Our recent trip up north was full of new delights and wonders, and also proved to be a bit nostalgic. We were so amazed and enthralled by the beauty of the Texas countryside around Waco and Crawford. It's quite a bit different from what we have down here in the valley. The Brazos River and the different cliffs carved from the water that we glimpsed while at the Crawford City Park or even while driving along were so beautiful and unique. The green fields and the farms, er, ranches we drove past were so peaceful. And the wildflowers were oh so beautiful (the bluebonnets were definitely my favorites)!

We drove to and around Crawford one afternoon--just wanting to see what it was like (and to see where former President and First Lady Bush lived...). When we drove into town and I caught my first glimpse of the grain elevators, it felt like I had finally arrived home. A part of me wanted to pack up my bags and move right then and there. ;-) Alas, that is not meant to be, but it was fun to imagine and I enjoyed reminiscing about my hometown, small town life, relationships and dreaming about the grain elevators that dot the landscape of my childhood stomping grounds.

The weather was beautiful--perfect for a drive, and perfect for being able to play and explore around the park. The boys enjoyed a little rock climbing and rock skipping, and also enjoyed playing on the large wooden play structure in the park. Rob and I enjoyed the peace and quiet of the park (minus the laughter and shouts from our children) and the beauty of the view there. We felt so thankful to be able to enjoy a different part of our new home state and to be able to take in the beauty it had to offer. And just maybe, when we're in that area again, and I'm feeling a bit homesick, we can stop and see the grain elevators. :-)

Thursday, April 15, 2010


The mood around our house is a bit somber and contemplative this morning. The boys and I just finished reading Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose by Janet and Geoff Benge and have been thinking about and discussing what we have read. When I asked the D-man what his thoughts and impressions were after reading the story, I was a little floored. He told me that Jim's story taught him that he should be willing to tell others about Jesus, even if it is risky. Following God's plan is more important than doing what will keep us comfortable (that was my thought, not his). Aidan was sad that Jim Elliot and the other men died, but was happy that Jim's wife was able to go tell the Waorani (aka "remember, those people") about Jesus later.

D mentioned last night that he wants to be a missionary pilot when he grows up. He has spoken of a desire to be a pilot in the Air Force or to be a missionary (or a catcher for the Texas Rangers), but our readings lately have blossomed this desire in him. A part of me wants to cling to my baby boy, to always be looking out for his safety and comfort; however, God was speaking to me last night, reminding me of the fact that in reality my children are His. Rob and I are to raise them, to train and teach them the ways of the Lord, to love them, and nurture them, but God has an ultimate plan for each of our boys' lives and that I need to be willing to submit to His will for them. So, while I sewed into the wee hours of the morning, I prayed for them.

I read 2 Corinthians 10 and 11 the other night and was reminded of the passage where Paul boasts about his sufferings. That man went through so much--beatings, multiple shipwrecks, imprisonment, stoning, hunger, thirst, etc. but he persevered to fulfill the purpose God had given him. That purpose was to share the gospel of Christ with others. What am I willing to go through to share the gospel? Am I willing to undergo potential rejection, discomfort, etc., or will I merely be content to stay within my comfort zone, choosing not to allow my boundaries to be stretched so He can be glorified? I can say that my boundaries are being stretched currently with starting a life group at our house and having just moved to a new community (although I think a part of me was begrudgingly obedient on that account--I would have been happy to have stayed where we were if that were a possibility).

The pondering is going to continue, and my prayers will increase. We need these challenges (or at least I do) from time to time to shake us out of our complacency and to make us reevaluate and seek His will for our lives.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

post game fireworks - the show was amazing

The Mariners fans of the bunch (Aidan is pouting because the Mariners were losing)

One happy Texas Rangers fan before the game

We Texans like our star. :)

Our view of the field - right after warm-ups.

We were able to take a trip up to Waco and Dallas late last week and were SO excited to find out that the Seattle Mariners were in town playing the Texas Rangers at the Rangers Ballpark at Arlington. The trash talking that happened between the male members of our household before the game was very enjoyable! Three-fourths of us are Mariners fans (although I must admit that Aidan hasn't really chosen his team yet--he's more of a Mariners fan by persuasion of his parents), while the other one is a Rangers fan (his Daddy hasn't gotten him to drink the Kool-Aid yet--lol!).

The game was so much fun. A 9-year-old boy and his family sat right in front of us, and David and Aidan enjoyed getting to talk to him about the game, the players and David and Jack played the Topps Attack card game with each other too. We enjoyed getting to meet Jack and his family during the game as well. David was happy to have a bunch of Rangers fans to do victory dances with whenever they scored runs (while we Mariners fans would just wonder when our team was going to start playing ball). The Rangers ended up being the victors; however, we all had a great time together watching baseball and getting to experience the wonders and excitement of seeing a game live.

After the game, we stayed to watch the fireworks show. We were supposed to have seen one last July when we were up in Arlington for a Mariners/Rangers game; however, the game was rained out and the fireworks canceled. This was not the case this time though. The weather was perfect for the game and for the fireworks afterward, and the show did not disappoint! We had a great time together watching baseball deep in the heart of Texas.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Brotherly Love.

D wrote a paragraph about his brother for school a few weeks ago. I thought it was so sweet that it just had to be shared! Enjoy. :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

We have an 8-year-old in the house!

Okay, okay...this post is over a month late since his birthday was in February; however, the truth remains that my baby who first made me "Mama" is now 8. Where has the time gone? He has grown so much--physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. His imagination always amazes me. He has a constant hunger to learn more and reads whatever he can get his hands on. He still loves Star Wars and is always building some new Lego creation. He is in his 2nd year of homeschool and seems to still enjoy it. :) He loves music and is always whistling or singing (and now has his guitar to strum on). He loves reading his new Bible and then shares what he has read with me.

We had a small family celebration with a homemade chocolate cake. Rob took him and a friend to a UTPA basketball game and then out for ice cream, then we all went on the Starlight Safari campout with our Cub Scout pack the following weekend at the zoo. It was a fun time celebrating a terrific boy!

Happy Crafting.

Here is my latest completed project--a pair of pink knitted booties, and a pair of hand embroidered felt booties. The booties are for one of my Alpha Phi sister's new baby girl. This mama to boys really enjoys the times when she gets to work on projects that cute and girly. :) I have been dying to post photos of these cuties; however, I had to be sure that the gift was received before divulging the surprise.

The yarn for the knitted booties was one I picked up at a cute little yarn and ukulele shop in Hanalei, Kaua'i. It's a bamboo-wool blend and was really fun to work with. I love how the light catches the fibers and was impressed with how nicely it knit up. I have only ever used Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino yarn on this pattern in the past and was glad to find a second yarn that I thought made a good substitute. The most difficult part of constructing the booties is grafting the sole; however, it's a lot easier than it seems (and I am SO thankful for the ladies at Mosaic Yarn Shop in Blacksburg, VA for teaching me when I made my first pair of these booties nearly a year ago).

The felt booties were completely a last-minute project idea that I found on a craft blog I follow, and once the idea was planted firmly in my mind, there was no turning back. The "pattern" for the embroidery was what I envisioned and turned out better than I ever imagined. The ivy vine was embroidered with dark green embroidery floss, and the little forget-me-nots were a light blue color with a buttery yellow center. Anytime I work on something this small on my sewing machine, I get a little bit nervous; however, these were surprisingly easy and Heather Bailey's instructions are very clear and easy to follow.

Both of these projects were great to do when I was running very short on time and needed to fulfill that creative urge. :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

From Sea to Shining Sea...

...or almost. What a month this has been! Rob and I flew to Kaua'i earlier this month to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary and so Rob could attend the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, more commonly known as HICSS. What an amazing week that was! Mom flew to Texas to stay with the boys so we could go (thanks Mom!). It was such a relief to know that the boys were in good hands while we were thousands of miles away.

Rob and I enjoyed exploring the island, playing in the Pacific Ocean, driving to Waimea Canyon to not get to see anything but a big white cloud, kayaking up the Wailua River, hiking to a waterfall, making new friends (or catching up with friends made at other conferences, as was Rob's case), drinking lava flows (or coconut porter from Maui Brewing Company), driving up to the north end of the island, sitting on the Seaview Terrace at the Hyatt watching the waves crash on the beach and listening to the waterfalls on the hotel grounds, watching the sun rise over Shipwreck Beach and watching a sunset at Poipu Beach. We especially enjoyed spending time together.
Poipu Beach, Kauai

U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.

We arrived back home and then I started getting ready to head to Washington, D.C. to spend the long holiday weekend with my friend Dana. I was really hesitant to leave (and wondered, quite frankly, about the wisdom of my taking this trip so close on the heels of our Hawaii trip...), but I'm SO glad that I went. DC is one of my favorite places to visit since there is so much to see, and I was really excited to get to spend time with my A-Phi sister.

I debated about going "crazy" with my sightseeing or just picking and choosing a few different must-see places and taking things a bit easy on myself. I opted for option 2 and have come home so refreshed as a result. Going to the top of the Washington Monument and taking the Capitol Tour were 2 of my favorite sightseeing things to do. The view from the monument is pretty spectacular. I also enjoyed getting to walk around the tidal basin and getting to walk through the FDR memorial (which was still nice, even without the water features running). Walking to Georgetown and window shopping was great fun, with the stop to la Madeline for brunch being quite wonderful. The newly remodeled Smithsonian Museum of American History is beautiful--Julia Child's kitchen was fun to see (especially considering how much Dana and I enjoyed watching her show on TV over the weekend...), and the Star Spangled Banner exhibit was neat as well (although many things were a repeat of what I learned at Fort McHenry last year, it was still worth going through the exhibit). Seeing the original copies of the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution in the National Archives was so surreal. It's hard not to feel a huge surge of patriotism when you get to see and experience these things in "real life."

Now, it's time to get back to the daily grind of my life. I will be looking upon these last 2 weeks and the places where they were spent with fondness as I move along here.