Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Two Good Christmases

Wow, how blessed Ben and I are. We spent the last week half in Arlington and half in Dallas with our sweet families. I am the youngest and Ben is the oldest which makes our families very different. In his, we are the oldest and the first to do everything. In mine, we're the youngest and in many things we are the last to do them. Both have their pluses and I absolutely love both!

In Arlington, we went shopping, watched a lot of What Not to Wear, and just sat around and chatted. We had Christmas with them on the night of the 23rd. Our Christmas dinner was delicious burgers from the grill with all the fixin's. Then we opened presents. Everyone was very pleased I think with their gifts. Last year, we started a tradition with Pat (Ben's mom) that she gets Cherish (my sister-in-law) and I purses. And every year, we're going to take pictures with our purses as you'll see below. I love new traditions!
We went to my family's house for Christmas eve lunch with my mom's side of the family. One of my cousins is getting married in the summer so we had fun talking about wedding and marriage details and issues. One thing we do every year is sing Christmas carols. Yep, we have song books and we all sit around and sing Christmas songs in the room to each other. It went well this year I think - more participation and organization. Something we added this year was acting out the Christmas story. We assigned parts - one to each of the 20 people in our house. We had a whole flock of sheep and shepherds, a group of angels, wise men, Mary, Joseph, and even one of the adults was baby Jesus. It was quite crazy. I was the narrator and I felt like I was directing my group of 3rd graders. What a sweet memory!

Christmas day with my family was great and then we went to see my grandmother in the afternoon and play dominoes with her. Ben won twice and I won twice. The rest of the week, Ben played golf two days with my dad in the crazy wind. I shopped with my sister Anne one day and then hung out with my sweet friends Jamie and Chelsea the next day. With my family, we saw Marley and Me and also Bedtime stories. Both were great movies and I'd recommend them to anyone. Here's some pics from the week. Happy New Year!
Cousin Emily and I as we are about to sing Christmas carols

Christmas day with my sweetie

Christmas day with my nephew Zach, sister Anne, me, and my mom

Cherish and I with our new purses! Excited faces!

Ben's mom with her new scarf and our new purses

Monday, December 22, 2008

Chill time

So its Monday but it doesn't feel like Monday. School let out on Friday for the next two weeks. What a treat. I would just be getting home around now, about to start dinner, after a day of kids, teaching, and getting things done. Well, today was totally different than that.

We woke up early - but not as early as usual - and watched a little early morning tv which we rarely do. Its just so fun to do things out of the ordinary even if they're not that exciting in and of themselves. Plus, they have cable and we don't so we can watch shows on TLC and ESPN. So then we just read, watched tv, and did crosswords for the next few hours. Later, after Ben's parents got back (did I mention we're in Arlington with the Coopers?) his mom and I went out shopping. Wow, it was busy out there. We went to Hobby Lobby, Old Navy, Staples, Target, and the UPS store all in about 3 1/2 hours. And to top it all off, its below freezing outside. I haven't looked at the weather but if there was to be precipitation anytime soon, I'm sure it would be snow. Tonight we're going to Dave and Busters with the Cooper's and Ben's brother Luke and his wife Cherish so it'll be Coopers x 3. More about the festivities later!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cooper Christmas

Living in Houston, away from family, Ben and I like to have our own Cooper Christmas with just us two before all the big family Christmases. We are forming traditions for just our family. Since we are leaving Sunday for a Christmas week in Arlington and Dallas, this morning was Christmas morning at the Cooper residence. Last night we were exhausted from the week and went to bed earlier than usual for a Friday night. I will refrain telling you the exact early time lest we be embarrassed at how uncool it was. Anyways, at about 6am this morning, I heard Ben tossing and turning and whispered "Are you awake?" so as not to wake him up if he really was asleep. I heard a frustrated reply of "Yes." We both tried to fall back asleep but just couldn't. Going to bed at the normal time of weekday nights made us want to wake up normal weekday time. So about 6:30am we got up and started breakfast. Why is it so easy to get up at 6:30am when you don't have to? We made Grands cinnamon rolls (our new tradition) for breakfast with coffee. Then we read through the Christmas story in Matthew and Luke. I have been stuck anew with how amazing of a story and a gift it is that Jesus came to Earth for you and me. Just incredible.

Afterwards, we opened presents. I got a really sweet necklace and bracelet and Ben got a new video game. In our excitement, we went to play the new game and were met with the red ring of death for the XBOX 360. This is a new term for me but apparently the XBOX dies after a while and the on light goes red. It's kinda creepy actually. And sad. So we have to send it to the XBOX doctor to be fixed. Moving on, we looked at some more houses online and debated about built, new, old, big, 2-story, small, bedrooms, kitchens etc. So many decisions and options. Any advice on the home-buying process is advisable or if you know of a good realtor that would be helpful as well. At any rate, it was a sweet Christmas morning for the Benjamin Douglas Coopers.

Today we'll just be wrapping presents, getting together a few last minute Christmas things and cleaning our apartment so that we come back to it nice. Tomorrow is church and then heading off to the Dallas area.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Random happenings and the TREE!

Tonight, Christmas (the decorations at least) arrived at the Cooper residence. We put up our sweet little 4-foot tree, put the small collection of ornaments that we have on it and then took some pictures with it. We've got two stockings hung on the mantel or uh...counter ledge. We're making the best of what we've got. Anyways here are some pics of the tree and us and then some recent events I either didn't blog about or just didn't post a pic about...

The Coopers

Ben's cousin Anna, my sister-in-law Cherish, and I at the Arlington Mall at 5:30AM on Black Friday waiting for it to open. We were one of the first 200 people to get to Forever 21 and have a chance to win a $300 gift card...sadly none of us won. Ben's other cousin Sara was there too but somehow didn't make it in the pic.

My college friend Lindsey Bunker came to visit after 2 years in East Asia! We went bowling because she hadn't been in 2 years. I almost broke 100...it was a good round.

Random picture :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Happy Christmas

Tonight we went and got a tree and some decorations. And, to our great surprise, when we got to Lowes, ALL the Christmas decorations (including fake trees!) were half off. Yes friends, 50% off! Oh it was so exciting. We got a tree and stockings and a few other Christmas goodies. It was a nice evening out. I can't wait to set up the tree and get things lookin' all Christmasy. I'll post a pic when its all done. Today coming home, I listened to Amy Grant Christmas for the first time this year. Any fans? It's one of my favorite Christmas albums. One goal I have for this Christmas season is to not get side tracked with gifts, decorations, and events and really focus on being thankful for and worshiping Jesus whom we celebrate on Christmas. I think in past years, I haven't done as good a job at that so I want to do better this year. There is a lot more joy in that as well. We'll still do the other things but I don't want them to be the main event this year.

Some random thoughts....

We watched The Office tonight. It was a funny one. I'm so glad Pam is back because she makes the show a lot better in my opinion.

Tomorrow night we have a Christmas party with our Sunday School class and I'm bringing Peppermint bark...mmmmm!

Tomorrow is Friday and that equals my Friday latte from Starbucks, a lighter day at school, leaving earlier, fun night plans and staying up later than normal. So fun.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving holiday

Well, the Thanksgiving holiday is coming to an end and its been wonderful. We drove in Tuesday night to Allen and spend that night and the next day with my family. Ben golfed with my dad and I spent the day with my mom. We just talked and drank coffee and ate and looked for recipes for the next day. So refreshing. Wednesday night, we went to Arlington to spend time with Ben's family from Mississippi. If you know us well, you won't have a hard time guessing what we played with them...yes that's right...Rock Band! It was a roaring good time with cousins and aunts and family.

Thanksgiving day, we went over to my Aunt and Uncle's house to eat our first Thanksgiving dinner. My cousin Emily recently got engaged so everyone but us (we'd already met the lucky guy) got to meet her fiance Preston for the first time. Oh I remember those days...such a special, sweet time of life. There are 4 girl cousins on my mom's side that I have grown up with. I'm the oldest of the 5 of us and its been fun to grow up with each of them and see how each year, so many changes happen. After a delicious lunch, people not at the "kids" table, shared memories of old Thanksgivings with people some of us have never met. It was so fun to hear funny stories about our family members we never met. Later in the afternoon, we headed on to Arlington for our 2nd Thanksgiving dinner. Delicious and fun as well, but different. Each family has their own traditions and I love them both. We also suffered through the Aggie game that will not be spoken of ever again.

Yesterday, we got up at, yes, 4:30 am to go shopping. I'd never done that before and it was more for fun than for actually getting a good deal. I went with Ben's high school age cousins and my sister-in-law Cherish. Our goal: be one of the first 200 people at Forever 21 so we could get a scratch-off card to win a gift-card. To no one's great surprise, none of us one anything but it sure was exciting. I bought 2 shirts at 6:30 am in the morning, not on sale. We shopped a little longer and left the mall about 8:15 am. It was quite strange to see so many people at 5:30am. Usually the only people I see at that time of day is either no one because I'm asleep or just Ben as I roll out of bed. Very strange feeling.

The rest of the day was more shopping, relaxing, 3 episodes of What not to Wear with Pat, delicious food, and some sudoku. I feel fully refreshed and feel like I can go back to work for 3 weeks before the next holiday!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Our new look

A few weeks ago, we rearranged our apartment. It's really not tiny - definitely bigger than our first apartment - but the way we had it arranged made it feel smaller than it was. So, we moved the couch and the tv and the bookshelf. We have enjoyed the new set-up a lot. It feels much more spacious and neater. This is what we ended up with...

The view from the door to the "dining room" (just use your imagination). The standing candles are some of my favorite decorative things. I got them for Christmas from my parents last year.
The "living room" with my husband - isn't he cute!

View from the kitchen

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Just 30 minutes

So, today I started a 30-minute work out plan. I have never been consistent at working out. I've never loved sports, and I've never loved working out. In first grade I went to one day of the little kiddie softball practice and decided it wasn't for me. I wanted to watch Garfield after school instead of do sports. I love outdoors but I'd rather be having a picnic or taking a walk than running. But, I've come to the point where I don't really have a choice for 2 reasons. The obvious reasons for working out haven't motivated me enough - more energy, just plain being healthy, and all the happy endorphins. But for the past couple years, I've had consistent headaches - not migraines but bad enough to be not fun at all. So, I've been told several times lately that working out really really helps them so that's motivation #1. #2 is that I haven't been sleeping very well lately. Sometimes I'm stressed out because of school but other times I'm really just thinking about tons of random stuff and can't fall asleep. I've been told and have experienced that working out really helps that also. So, I've come to the point where its headaches and no sleep or working out plus all the other benefits. So, for today (and hopefully a lasting amount of time), I choose working out.

So then comes the question...what do I do??? I've always been a person that backs away from something that's complicated to implement or that I don't quite understand how to do. Working out is one of those things to me. There's so many theories and different workouts that you can do. I've heard so many different little facts about how long, how intense, and just what you do in your workout that I was left with no clue as to which is best. So, today, I looked on WebMD about working out. It took me to a site about a 30-minute workout. It gave step by step what resistance training exercises to do and then a block of cardio and even exactly how to do that. It told me how long and how often and said results would follow after consistently working out. I found it here, just in case any of you have come to the same delimma that I have. Now if you go there and you have a better idea for me, please please let me know. But that is what I did tonight and I feel sufficiently worked out and ready to sleep. Goodnight!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Family, Football, Food

What a nice weekend. Ben's parents, Mark and Pat, came down to visit us. They could not be more loving or supportive to both of us. Whenever they are around us, they shower us with compliments, encouragements, and tell us over and over how they think we are wonderful. They are such a blessing. They rolled in around lunch time on Saturday and took us out to lunch at Pot Belly's, one of my faves. Muy delicioso.

After lunch, we went out to watch the Blue Prints class flag football game which we WON! Two games back to back! Now, I say we, but I say that to feel cool. I don't play - I just chat on the sidelines with other wives who have opted not to play. Yes, I was warmly welcomed to play, even encouraged, as they need a certain number of girls, but my past football experience screams DON'T DO IT! You see, long ago in a Powder Puff Football game in college, the girls on the other team were rough and I couldn't handle the pressure and yes...I cried. I didn't want a repeat of this in front of all my friends and with my husband on the team. Can't you just imagine the scene - wife cries, husband wants to say "STOP CRYING! This is FOOTBALL!" but knows of the serious consequences later for saying this. So, needless to say, I decided happily not to play so that this situation was not even a possibility. But I will faithfully be there to cheer and support the whole time.

Then we proceeded on to more good fun and food with family. We went to Lupe Tortilla (or The Lupe Torillia factory as Pat calls it with the ll pronounced incorrectly) and had their amazing fajitas. Ben told the waiter that it was my birthday and that we were out to celebrate it, so at the end of the meal, they brought out a huge sombrero that I wore as they sang to me in Spanish. White girl who speaks Spanish (that's me) didn't catch all the lyrics but one part did say "We come to you Drunk, and its our pleasure to wish you happy birthday". We laughed at this. With the sombrero came some delicious Flan. Again, muy delicioso.

This morning, Ben taught in Sunday School and did an excellent Job. He talked about the historical background of the Bible. Let me know if you want some more info on that. It was all about the validity of the New Testament as a historical document. As silly as it sounds, I sometimes forget that real people from history wrote the Bible. They lived in a different culture and time and that influenced their writing. It was a really interesting lesson.

Pat and Mark left after church and they made our weekend so special. We loved having you here guys!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Birthday marathon day

This weekend, Ben and I flew (go southwest!) to Dallas to spend the weekend with my family. They are so precious. I love them. As I may have said before, I love and crave family time and even more so now that we live in Houston. We flew in Friday night about 7:30. When we got to the baggage claim, my bag never came out! They kept telling us that our flight had just not sent their bags out yet, but that was completely untrue. Ben already had his golf clubs and there certainly was no one else waiting for their bags from flight 50. Finally we filed a claim and my parents took us to get ice-cream nearby. We came back about an hour later and my sweet little pink bag was waiting for me at baggage claim. Someone very irresponsibly put it on the wrong flight to Dallas but I'm thankful it made it at all.

Saturday was our marathon day. Here's how the day went...

First, we left at 8:15 for the FIRST (yes there were more) football game of the day. All three of my nephews play football and so my sister and brother-in-law go to about 3 games every Saturday and countless practices during the week. They are amazing parents. This first game was for my 6 year old Nephew Zach and we were privileged to watch him score a touchdown. After the game, we enjoyed a nice birthday brunch at Mimi's Cafe in Allen complete with eggs, bacon, and a delicious muffin. First Yum Yum of the day to be followed by many more.
Then, we took our FIRST shopping trip. We went to TJ Max and then the Allen Outlet malls, followed by a quick trip home for shower and very light lunch. Next was the 2nd football game - Andrew's, the 10 year old. After that, we had a brilliant idea to go out to Anthropologie and look for a fun birthday purse. We drove out there and it was so fun to shop around in that amazing store. After this, we rushed back home for the birthday dinner. Jacob, my oldest nephew, and I share the same birthday - October 29th, so we were duly celebrated with tacos, lemonade, cake, ice-cream and presents. Oh so fun. And in case you thought we hadn't done enough yet, we raced off to the 7:30 game for Jacob, oh but not after a quick airsoft gun between the boys. The "fun" game resulted in painful welts and muddy jeans...I don't understand. Anyways, by the end of the day, Ben and I hadn't really seen each other much so we left the football game early and went out for coffee. It was a sweet time despite the tiredness. *Sigh* I bet you need a deep breath just after reading that. But even with the craziness, that is my favorite kind of day - full of family fun!!

Sunday we just went to church and watched the Cowboy game and then flew back home. Below are some pics from the weekend.

Zach gearing up for the airsoft game

The birthday people - Lynn 25, Jacob 12 (almost). We're awkwardly high-fiving :)

My brother Keith and I

The delicious cake!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Our Wal-Mart Trip

Today, we went to Wal-Mart. Judging by our purchases, you would have no idea we were professional, mature (we're still working on this anyways), adults in our twenties. My bag: Halloween stickers (for my kids of course), glitter pens, a journal, and neon note cards. Ben's bag: ROCK BAND 2! It was buy your special treat day at Wal-Mart for us.

So, yes, we have Rock Band 2 now. We started a new local tour to unlock all the new awesome songs. I'm Dazzle, Ben's Blazer, and we are from Chicago. Our band name is the Dazzling Blazers. I mainly play the drums and Ben rocks it out on the guitar.

It was a nice day together. We ate lunch at Jason's Deli and then went to the driving range. I usually start out very enthusiastic and pumped up when we go and then about halfway through my pile of golf balls, I start to get discouraged and start hitting bad (really just worse) shots and this just makes things worse. So today, before I went down this slippery slope of despair, I got my Harry Potter book and read on a chair out in the grass behind Ben while he hit the rest of his golf balls. It was such an amazing day outside.

Then we went to see the movie Fireproof. It really makes you think about your marriage and how you treat your spouse. I was definitely convicted of little ways that I treat Ben and ways that I can show him more respect and more love in the way I respond to him or speak to him. We had a good conversation about it afterwards and were very encouraged by the movie. I recommend it.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

6 Random Facts

Well, I was honored to be tagged in Becca's blog to write 6 random facts. I will then tag 6 more people at the end of my post. Read my facts, and if your name is at the bottom, write your own set of 6 random facts. Just for fun. Enjoy!

1. I absolutely love sweets - my favorite being chocolate chip homemade (or break and bake) cookies.

2. I have issues with ordering food, especially at new places or at places where I haven't found my "regular" dish. I deliberate over all the different choices - healthy or not, sandwich, soup, fries, fruit...there's just so many choices. I try to imagine the flavor of the food and then decide if that's what I'm feeling like eating. I then try to imagine how I will feel when everyone else gets their food because I hate the ordering regret I so often get. I often come down to the last minute and make a rash, incorrect decision.

3. I speak Spanish almost fluently. Most of you that are reading this know that, but some may not. I'm not a likely candidate - not one drop of Hispanic blood in me, never lived for more than 2 months in a foreign country, and I can't salsa very well. I have been told though that I could look Spaniard with my dark eyes and brown hair - I was ecstatic to hear that.

4. I rode the Limo Bus today to church because we parked off-site. It was incredible and is just like it sounds. Regular bus on the outside, plush limo on the inside with stars on the ceiling, the mood lighting, and cushy fancy seats!

5. I am reading book 7 of Harry Potter...it's amazing! I have never been much of a reader until I got married and Ben is a reader so now I love to read...any good suggestions are welcome.

6. I love routine. I have a routine for everything it seems. I get up, get ready, and drink my coffee in the exact same order and way most mornings. I walk my kids to lunch and pick them up going the same route everyday. I drive to work and home the say way everyday. The things that are not a part of my routine don't get taken care of us much. For something to consistently happen, I have to weave it into my routine. Ben is exactly the opposite. Makes life interesting in the Cooper house :).

So there ya go...hope you know a little more about me now. I now tag...

1. Pat Cooper 2. Jana Mattern 3. Liz Ramsey 4. Jen Lewis 5. Amber Roberts 6. Caroline Traylor

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Funny quotes

Teaching bilingual kids can be pretty funny sometimes. Words come out that mean nothing to them, but are pretty funny to me. I'm sure I do the same in Spanish sometimes and people laugh when I'm not looking. Some examples...

Today we started talking about Synonyms. Tough word in English I guess. So one of my kids kept saying cinnamon. "Ooo! Ooo! I know a cinnamon for sad!" So funny. I let it go once, hoping he'd catch on as we all kept saying synonym, but no, he definitely kept saying cinnamon. Then the other kids started copying him...not me...all talking about the cinnamons for sad that they could think of. Quickly, I corrected them and we chanted Synonym together many times during the lesson and again throughout the day.

Next funny story...So this week in science, we are learning about Simple Machines, like inclined plane, screw, wheel and axle, etc. I didn't really know what they were until I taught them last year. Did anyone else never learn them? They were new to me. Anyways, one of them is a wedge. Well, in Spanish, you don't have a silent e. I asked the class, what is the simple machine that is like an inclined plane but moves? One of my sweet little girls cries out WEDGIE! Not many of the other students caught it, probably also thinking in their heads wedgie, but I again, quickly corrected them as I chuckled. No, no, wedge, not wedgie. Haha...just some funny moments from my sweet kids learning English :). I love them!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New class and a funny story

Well, today, we officially moved out of the Newlyweds Class at our church (Houston's First Baptist Church). Hard to fathom...we're not technically "newlyweds" anymore. It still feels like we are just starting out sometimes but then when I think of it, it's hard to imagine life differently. So, anyways, today we graduated and moved on into a new class called Blueprints for young married adults. It's a brand new class that just started today. Ben is going to be one of the teachers along with another man. I will be a part of the teacher support team (I just made this up) where I will give ideas, feedback, insight, prayer, possible co-teaching and any needed encouragement or lifting of spirits. I'm so excited about this opportunity for us. The other husband and wife duos in leadership with us are wonderful and I'm really excited about getting to know some new couples on a deeper level. So, looking for a class for young married adults? Just let me know and I'll give ya all the details!

So, the funny story. The characters in this story will remain nameless to protect their identities...but you know who you are :). And I do have permission to tell this story, so don't think I'm being mean. So we ate lunch today with our wonderful new class at Goode Company BBQ (yummy!). Afterwards, of course, we were some of the last to leave, standing around talking. Moving from table, to then door, to then outside, and eventually to car, stopping at each to talk for 10 minutes. I love it when that happens! So, we've made it outside and are talking about light stuff - the wife and I having a separate conversation from our husbands. Well, we started talking about being politically correct and saying "a woman walked in" instead of "a girl walked in" and I said something that made the girl I was talking to think of something hilarious in her head. Unfortunately, she had just taken a big gulp of tea and bursted out laughing at the same time. I'm sure you can only imagine the result. Yep...tea all over me sprayed out of her mouth. It was one of the funniest things ever. I didn't care at all - really it just made me laugh til I had tears in my eyes. It was one of those good bonding moments when really any pretenses or fronts just kinda go away :). A blessing in disguise I think.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A perk to the job

Well, the first few days back have been pretty good. I must say that beyond the high possibility of stress, impossible tests, and a never-ending to-do list, teaching has some major perks. Yes, there's the obvious ones - summers off and...(maybe that's the only obvious one), but anyways there's lots more that are pretty great. One, I realized anew today. It's been tough getting back - hard to return after getting a taste of a summer-like schedule again, and then the kids are very focused and are out of their routine. But today, there was a bright spot! One of my tougher kids started getting my jokes. I usually will say random things here and there throughout the day that most kids don't catch b/c they're not paying attention or they just don't understand so they just stare at me. I don't know what it was, but this one kid just thought I was so funny today. He would laugh when no one else was even getting it and it was just fun. They say one of the best ways to motivate children to get them to do what you want them to do (i.e. learn!) is to simply love and respect them and in turn earn their love and respect. This takes time and intentional comments, conversation, and actions but the returns are immense. So this gave me hope into the feat of earning this sweet but tough little boy's admiration. All in all, a good day and good to be back. :)

Friday, September 19, 2008

We're back

Power's back up at BCE and school's back on! I'm making lesson plans and getting ready for school to keep going full steam. It'll be good to be back.

Yikes! Still no power!

So, my school, Bear Creek Elementary, is the only school in the district that doesn't have power. I am praying the power comes back on by Monday...teaching in the dark would be difficult and ineffective. We'll see!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Close to normal...

Well, we got back to Dallas safely and were welcomed by electricity and water in our apartment! We are so thankful. We were also welcomed by a very foul smell of rotten chicken we had accidentally left in a cooler on the counter in our rush out of town last Saturday. Absolutely nasty. Apparently there really is a great need for food to stay in the fridge.

So today and tomorrow I have no school. Seems a little like I'm playin hooky. Ben's at work as are most people but I guess the schools had to be a little more conservative. If half their employees don't come back they don't just have an empty spot but an empty spot with 20-30 kids unattended...no bueno! I'm ready to get back and hear the stories from my kids. It is nice though to have the time to catch up on laundry and cleaning in our apartment. We left it a mess last Saturday. Things should be back to normal soon...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Heading Back

Well, the time has come. We've been in Dallas since Saturday night and its time to return home. Ben has to go back to work tomorrow but for me, school has been canceled until Monday. For the rest of the week, I'll probably just clean up our apartment and try to get some order back, maybe see if there's anywhere I can help out.

God has been so gracious to us. It's definitely not desireable to be in a hurricane, lose power etc but He has blessed us during this time emensely. We've been with my family and had a lot of fun and sweet times. My mom and I took my sister Anne out to a birthday breakfast yesterday at La Madeline (delicious!). I love my sister. Ben and I got to hang out with Dennis and Alecia Doty last night because they had come up to Dallas as well to get away from the storm. Also, we played 42 (dominoes) with my parents for the first time. And I had coffee with Jamie and then went to Target and had a great time together. It's just been such a sweet time with my family and friends and I'm so thankful for it. We were going to go to Dallas next weekend but we moved our plane tickets to the weekend before my birthday and will stay in Houston next weekend.

We're looking forward to being back in our apartment and getting back to some sort of normal. I don't think we have power at our apartment but I'm not sure...we'll see! It'll be another adventure :).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Safe in Dallas

Well, we decided to stay in Dallas with my family for a little while. No power, no water, limited food...Dallas was looking better by the minute. Saturday night in Houston, we decided to go out for food, just to get out of the increasingly hot apartment. We went by the only open McDonalds on Westheimer but the drive-thru line was wrapped around the building almost twice. We kept going to Double Daves. They were turning people away because they had flat run out of food. We drove around some more and found a random Chinese restaurant we've never even considered eating at before. It's amazing how good things look when they're the only option and you're hungry. Haha. We stood in the line out the door for about a minute with the other stinky, unshowered people. We started to think...hey, we've got family in Dallas. It could be like this for a while...let's just go to Dallas!! So we jumped out of line and into the car, zoomed home, packed enough for several days (including essential items like golf clubs and books and snack food) and headed to Dallas. Best decision ever!

We went to church this morning with my parents. The pastor asked for any evacuees from Houston to stand up and the entire congregation applauded us for being courageous and just for what we came out of. We were very honoroed.

When we were driving around, we took some pictures. They were all through the car windows while it rained, but it gives a picture of the state of Houston. It makes me think of someone just grabbing Houston and shaking it back and forth really hard and then setting it back down. We didn't have any damage in our apartment besides trees down and we're thankful that neither of our cars were damaged. God was very gracious to take care of us.

Pictures to come...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Serious stuff

Ok, this hurricane is serious business. Starbucks was even closed this morning! We went out for breakfast to take advantage of possibly our last chance to get food outside of the house for a few days (turns out lunch would have been fine too) and headed first to Panera - it was closed - and then thought oh well surely Starbucks will be open, they're even open on Christmas! Ha but no, they are closed today and tomorrow.

Well, so far, its just windy. We've watched news most of the day, watched one movie, played 5 games of speed, tidied up, graded papers, read, took a nap, and had random conversations. It's been a good day. Everyone be safe tonite.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

the huricane!

Everyone else was posting about Ike so I decided I should too. Yes, school is canceled tomorrow. An announcement like this is absolutely disastrous to all hope of productivity or concentration for 8 and 9 year olds. I waited to tell my kids until about 2:00 when we were about to take a test we usually take on Fridays. Some of them cheered, others got a little scared. Then the questions started. Trying to teach rounding to kids who are thinking about hurricanes was not desirable. Haha some of them got it though amazingly...but only after I danced and rapped to the "Rounding Rap". We were singing "Slip to the Side, and Look for a 5!" the rest of the day. Anyways, somehow I managed to hold off all questions until about 3:15 when we had a class "Hurricane Talk". They didn't seem to scared. Most of them were just excited for a 3-day weekend.

We're planning on just staying in our apartment all weekend...in the closet if necessary. Church is closed, the baseball game canceled, and we had to cancel a birthday party we planned for Ben. But we trust the Lord and are praying for safety.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New Style

So, I was getting tired of my old blog layout and it ceased to be exciting to me. I have a new look now. I just love yellow, but I can't decide if its too hard to read or not. What do you think? Well, I hope its not too hard on the eyes. I might change it to white or a lighter yellow if there is one.

In other news, Ben had a wonderful birthday this past Monday, September 8th. We went to PF Chang's for a delicious special dinner on Monday night. On our anniversary in July, I wrote a post about the things I love about Ben so I thought this time, in honor of my sweet Ben, I would tell you 6 things that he does that make me laugh and smile.

1. Funny facial expressions
2. Impressions of me and my habits (I can do a pretty good Ben as well)
3. Fake laughs and clever jokes
4. Startling me when I have the hiccups to make them go away and it works! (For some reason, I have very frequent hiccups)
5. His astonished and unbelieving reactions to girly things I say and do
6. The complete randomness of some of the things he says and does

He's just so fun and a pleasure to live with. I'm not saying life is perfect around here - we both have our ups and downs but God uses him so much to teach me and grow me and to simply bring me joy and comfort.

He keeps me smilin, that's for sure.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Car Rides

I love car rides. The not so long but not so short ones. Especially with Ben. We have some of the most random conversations about the widest of subjects on our car rides. They get into some interesting topics along with topics that we really need to have conversations about. For example today, we talked about finances but also how America (along with ourselves) focuses a lot on numbers and data, sometimes looking past other aspects of something. I love it.

Since both are families live in the Dallas area (Arlington and Allen), we are not strangers to the I-45 four (traffic turns it into more like five) hour trip back and forth. At least we get to make the trip together now! When we were dating and engaged, I lived in Allen, and Ben in Houston so one of us made the trip EVERY weekend. I can't believe we did it really. It was my first year of teaching and Ben's first year in a real job but somehow the Lord graciously gave us both strength, energy, and a non-complaining heart to be able to make the drive so often. Both of us look back and think "How did we do it??".

So anyways, our first year of marriage, living in the same city, the thought of that blessed drive was unbearable. So we took very few trips back and forth. This year, I think we'll make the drive a little more often. This weekend, was one of those trips. Ben's birthday is tomorrow...(birthday post to come!) and so we went to Arlington to visit his family and celebrate. They are such a precious sweet family. I leave feeling special, loved, and like a very important part of the family, just like I do with my own. The car ride was totally worth it and even a bit of a treat.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

So gracious

God is so full of grace. He is so kind and so loving. When I am messing up, getting mad when I shouldn't, being prideful, and am not acting in a way that would please Him, He still blesses me and shows me kindness. There are so many things He daily blesses me even though I am daily sinful and fall short of His glory.

Speaking of blessings, I am loving my students. They are a precious group. I love not being a first year, or 2nd year in a new school. I've paid my dues as all must do. I must say I have tons more to learn and improve on but I actually feel competent and am enjoying my job a lot more so far.

In other news, I got very very close to getting a new baby kitten. Finally we decided it could be ok to get a pet, even for a small pet deposit price. Before we asked about the price, I started to look up the costs of adopting at the SPCA...not too bad really. Then I started imagining this sweet little kitten walking around our apartment, playing, and being really cute. I pictured myself sitting with it, taking care of it, the whole nine yards. I started to get very attached to the idea and to our future family pet. Then, the final piece - find out how much the pet deposit is at our apartments. Should have found this one out first. It was exorbitant and all non-refundable. I even made Ben go in and ask again as if he were someone new who didn't know already cause I just didn't believe it. Needless to say, we're not getting a cat anytime soon unless our living conditions change in the near future. I will just have to trust the Lord on this one. The Cooper family pet will just have to wait.

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Day success

The first day was a success. The new little 3rd graders were so small compared to my almost 4th graders from last year. I just want to pick them up and give them a huge hug. I saw some of my old kids and really wanted to sit with them and talk with them but I have a new class now and I need to embrace them. It's like new friends and old friends or like when you've moved on from a group that is staying together. It's not the same if you go back but there's still that desire to. Hard feeling to explain. But I loved seeing them and look forward to seeing them throughout the year and in to 5th grade.

My kids today were so well behaved. They followed directions and laughed when I was silly and got into the book I read and did their work so well. I'm so excited about this group of kids. I'm praying for love for them and trying to get to know them best I can. One of the funniest thing is that they always ask "How old are you?" and I love to let them guess first. Today I got a 34, then a 23, then some in between and then finally a 24 to which I said BINGO! But last year someone actually guessed 68. Can you believe it? I think actually the girl was mad at me and somehow knew even as a 3rd grader that its insulting to a woman to be guessed too much older than she actually is. Haha I wasn't phased though. I'm secure in the fact that I look no where close to 68. I hope everyone else had a good first day of school!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Round 3

Can you say new sharpened pencils :)! Round 3 (year 3!) of teaching begins. Each year is like a new adventure. New kids, new teachers, new issues, new lessons, new everything if I want. I'm nervous but the least nervous I've been so far. These kids don't know me. I can be whoever I want to be to them - very strict or very loose. They (for the most part) have no real pre-conceived ideas about me. It's nice because the mistakes I made last year in discipline or planning or classroom procedures are gone and I get to start new. Can I just tell you I'm so excited to get these 14 new children. I already love them! I met about 12 of them last Thursday at meet the teacher.

There's one little boy who is new to the school. As we were talking about the books I had in my classroom, he asked if I had any about Lamberguines (sp??). Sadly, I don't have any although I'm on the lookout now. But he said that in his old school there was this great book about Lamberguines but it was a 3rd grade book. He's been looking forward to being able to read it...and then he changed schools! They're just so precious. I'm going to just do an almost complete overhall of my classroom, plans, procedures etc. I'm going to try a lot of new stuff and keep the stuff that worked from last year.

I have a wonderful team this year. 7 of us...6 girls and one guy. Some are my age, some a little older. I've got 3 years of experience, we've got 2 first years, and then the rest a mix of levels. But they are so fun and so sweet. We've had so much fun getting to know each other and laughing and getting ready for the year. They are going to be a huge encouragement and help this year. The Lord is so gracious. I have prayed that He hand pick the children to go into my classroom so I am estatic to find out who He put there. I will be exausted this week so if you see me, just excuse the glazed over, dead look in my eyes...I will come back to life in a few days once I'm back in the routine of school. Yippeee!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Last day of Summer

No, I know its not the official seasonal last day of summer (When is that anyways??), but its my last day of summer defined as no work. Last week, I went into school and set up my classroom (see photos below) and I even went in yesterday but today, my last day, I said NO, no school stuff! I have thoroughly enjoyed my day. I woke up, drank coffee and watched the Today show which was all about the Olympics I watched last night. Then I continued scrapbooking our honeymoon making a complete mess of the living room. There's piles of paper, stickers, scissors of different designs, and double sided tape surrounding an empty circle in the living room where I sit and scrapbook. I need some sort of rolling table that I can move in and out of the living room. KatyISD teachers go back tomorrow for convocation, staff development, and then some work days at the end. As much as I love the summer, I actually am happy to get back to being a productive part of society, getting up early, and going to work. It was a much needed break but it must come to an end. Early morning alarms, delicious strong coffee waking me up, traffic, sweet children, lesson plans, going to bed early, routine, and more all walk back into my life tomorrow. I have loved you summer!

Here are some pics of my room...teachers if you have any suggestions or ideas, I'd love them!

Below is a picture from the door - it my desk area with school supplies, and the "Wild Wild West" word wall. Our school's theme this year is Western.

(Above) This is my reading corner with all my books and some fun "book nooks" to relax in and read.

Also, this weekend, my sweet friend Jamie came down from Dallas for the weekend. We did all the girly things that could possibly be fit in one weekend: 2 girl movies, shopping, a pedicure, yummy food, and good talking.

We introduced Jamie to Rock Band. She had never played before but she still played fabulously!

On our way to church


Friday, August 8, 2008

Questions I have

Hello all. I need you. Now, I know a wealth of knowledge is available to me out there. On the Internet and in books and magazines, but the knowledge most valuable to me is what YOU have! I value personal experience over any book or magazine or review or article. So, that leads me to my question...

So, I've been cooking for a year now. My husband is patient and content and hungry. He's content to eat most anything I set in front of him to satisfy his hunger...whether it be the best meal ever or just ok. Usually, if a meal isn't good that I've cooked, I'm the one to speak up and say, "Man I don't wanna keep eating - this is just gross." If I didn't say anything, he'd prolly just kept eating. Sweet thang. Well, anyways, I want to beef up my cooking (heehee get it?!). I usually stick to chicken because its the easiest. It stays frozen in the freezer until I need it and I can always cook it without thawing it or making any preparations ahead of time. It goes with veggies, pasta, soup, and more probably. I occasionally throw in a ground beef dish - usually no more exciting than spaghetti or tacos. Fish and pork are few and far between and I need more of them. Now, I'm not saying I think I'm a bad cook, I just need some new life into my cooking. I've gotten bored with it and have stopped trying new things as much. So, I need to branch out and I need some inspiration...

That's where you and your valuable personal experience come in! I find things in magazines or books or online and try them sometimes but it's such a shot in the dark. Sometimes good, sometimes tasteless. Also, it just kills me to buy all those random ingredients, spend more time than normal cooking and then it turn out bad...so I just don't try it. I want to cook new styles of food (more than chx and veggies stir fry) and different meats. So, any advice you have? Any good recipes? Any good tried and true cook books or sites or secret ingredients you always use? Now, any and all of you that have helped me with cooking thus far, THANK YOU! Your advice has been invaluable and has gotten me to where I am today. I just need more! Thank you in advance. :)
One more quick question. Why does my feed of people's blogs sometimes show a list of names and sometimes shows the feed with their last post and its title? It's been acting up and only appearing occasionally. I can't figure it out. Thanks!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Caymans

A week ago (or so) Ben and I went to the Cayman Islands for vacation for fun and to celebrate our anniversary. We've been married a year (as I said earlier)! I am a little late on telling about trip because we came back home and got right back in the swing of things. It was beautiful and a nice temperature. My sister, her husband, their 3 boys, and their nephew were there the first 3 days we were there so we got to spend time with them. With three boys all under 12, they run full speed going 10 million miles an hour. There's always something going on. I love it! Family gatherings with everything going crazy around me is one of my favorite things. Anyways...they went back home and we spent the rest of the time just relaxing, touring the island, and eating yummy island food. Here are some pics from the trip...

A beautiful spikey flower.

Fortunately, this was at the end of our trip but we got a little bit of the tropical storm.

Ahh! There's an iguana under the bench!

Ben relaxing at sea.

Ben playing golf with a view of the ocean! Man look at that swing. Just like a pro.

An unlikely friend met along the way. He actually let me get this close without running away. Aparently, since the hurricane in 2004, they have been all over the island including the golf course. He looks kinda friendly don't ya think?

The signs a little hard to see but it says "Crocodile Hole." Yikes! We actually did not see any crocodiles.

About to board the submarine. The Caymans had the most beautiful blue water I have ever seen.

A storm was blowin in!

We loved the trip and we say thank you to my sweet sister for inviting us there! Happy last week of summer (for all you teachers out there, or at least it is for me)!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Benjamin Douglas Cooper

As promised, I wanted to give an ode to my husband. Our anniversary was a week and a half ago so in honor of that, I wanted to tell everyone 6 things about him that I love. Why 6 you ask. She must have some cool reason for 6. Nope, just a random #. So here they are in no particular order...6 things I love about Ben Cooper.
1. He's wise.

He is wise beyond his years. I always know that I can take a problem to him whether it be personal, about work, between us, or just something random. He has wonderful advice and has great perspective. He points me to the Lord and gives me Biblical insights. I come away feeling comforted and feeling more peace about the situation. I think, well Ben's not freaking out and yet he knows about the problem that I was freaking out about...I guess I can be calm as well. I am so blessed by him in this way!

2. He's light hearted.

In a good way, Ben doesn't take life too seriously. He trusts in the Lord and has joy. I tend to worry and fret about things that might happen, small problems that I worry will turn into big problems, or past things that have happened. Ben is not worried about these things. He knows we will be ok and we will be taken care of. This encourages me so much to have that same peace! He has fun in life and is so goofy. It makes life quite entertaining and fun. This picture is from our first date...it was exciting!

3. He's handsome.

I just think he's so good lookin'. Blue eyes and a great smile and he's so strong! He often jokes that his purpose in life is to lift and carry heavy things for me and to open jars. He has saved me so many hurt palms and hurting arms. What a servant!

4. He is great to talk to.

We have some of the greatest conversations and he has so much to say. He thinks about things on a deep level and likes to discuss it. I love hearing what he has to say about any manner of subjects. Amazingly, I can bring up almost any topic and at one point in his life he has researched it, talked to someone about it, or just thought about it on his own. Amazing.

5. He's a fact man.

I can always count on him for correct, accurate, random, and not so random facts.

6. He loves me!

This one is a huge plus for me :) . He shows me love in so many ways and does it well. He shows me through service, time, touch, conversations, gifts, sacrifices, and many things that I probably don't even see.

What a great husband God has blessed me with! I simply adore him! Here's a typical Ben Cooper moment...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Freezer Burn Delight

What more could you want than a year old peice of cake. Last night we ate the top tier of our wedding cake. Did anyone else do this on your anniversary? Ben was doubtful of the condition this cake would be in and if it would be a unwise health choice to eat it. On the other hand, I, being very sentimental, was very excited and couldn't wait to open the box that has sat in our freezer since last July. As we opened it, a very distinct freezer burn scent filled the ktichen. I had not thought to thaw it out before hand so we defrosted it in the microwave and soon began to smell vanilla cake. Mmmm Cake! But not just any cake, our wedding cake. Sigh.

Despite so many warnings against eating a year old cake, we cut two slices. I braved the first bite, and Ben cautiously took the next bite. Sad to say, it was not as tasty as it was on our wedding day (shocking!). It was still a bit frozen and had a funny taste. I had a few bites, resulting in a not so good feeling in my stomach. As much as I wanted to keep it and savor it, it just was grose so we thew it out. So for all of you wondering what this magical event will hold, go for it but know, it still is a year old cake. Enjoy! :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Happy Anniversary Coopers!

Ha, that's us! We just arrived back from vacation in the Caymans...more about that later. But I just felt the need to write and tell the world that today is our anniversary. One year. WOW. Later I will have an ode to Ben, my sweet, wonderful husband. Just wanted to document the day. We've kinda celebrated all week. Gifts before the vacation, fun outings during and then a nice breakfast at a fun place in the Caymans. I am emensely blessed by my husband, his wisdom, his goofiness, his confidence and trust in the Lord. I will expand later, but now about all I can do is say goodnight and hit the sheets. It's good to be back in Houston, tropical storm Dolly and all.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Houston Project

This week, Ben and I got to be a part of Houston Project put on by our church First Baptist. It was a week of VBS at night for kids, teens, and adults in areas all around Houston. It was amazing and I can't wait to do it next year. There's just so many ways to serve and give and use your gifts. Ben led the very organized and smiling registration team, the first people the kids see when they come in. He and his team got them all recorded, name-tagged, and greeted and then they were sent off to have snow-cones and dinner (in that order I believe). We really saw the Lord work.

I was on the evangelism team. We walked door to door just sharing the gospel with people in the neighborhood. Some people shut the door on us, others listened politely and declined, while others genuinly listened with interest. I had the amazing privilege of seeing many people make decisions to pray to receive Christ! I met new sisters and brothers in Christ! I was encouraged and amazed at how God went before us. Some were obviously ready to hear and respond, but others were not. Praise God for His amazing power to work in and change the hearts of people when we surely cannot.

I was blown away by the number of people who thought they were just not good enough to get into heaven or the opposite, people who thought they had done enough good to merrit getting into Heaven. Truth is, neither matter - how much bad you've done or how much good you've done! The Bible says, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Then it goes on to say "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." We're all sinful but by believing in Jesus and His death and resurection for our sins, we are saved from that punishment and may go to heaven with Jesus. All of us are not good enough for Heaven but we have Jesus. I am deeply greatful for this gift.

I learned this week that I assume way too much that people know the truth. I assume way too much that people are believing the truth and applying it to their lives. I am challenged to be more open and less assuming with the people around me. I want them to know the truth!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

New Car Week

Well, it was finally time. We could wait no longer. All the signs were telling us that this was the right direction to go. First the overheating, then the radiator, and finally the timing belts. All things led to one path...trading in the Honda Civic! So we did it. We took the plunge. It all happened Monday night, the last day of the month when many a good car deal is made. After some amazing deal making skills by Ben, we traded in my old, green, '99 Honda Civic and got a new 2008 Honda CRV! Check it out for yourself...

(Video compliments of Benjamin D. Cooper - currently taking orders)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Weekend excitement

What a fun weekend! Here's some highlights...

Friday night, we went to the Astro's game with Julie and Justin Lenamon. Such fun! The Astro's played the Red Sox (aparently a really good team) and the 'Stros lost...badly. Not a big downer for me though. Watching the people arouns us was much more interesting. I love to people watch and try to guess the lives they're living. Do they have kids? Are they happy? Where have they come from?

One interesting person we observed all night was the man selling concessions up and down the seats. Wow, what a hard worker who took his job seriously! His big selling point was that his drinks were cold. Instead of just carrying a few drinks at a time to sell, he carried around his entire cooler of ice with the drinks all the time. He kept reminding us, "What is this stuff? That's right, its ice and that makes things cold!!" It seems there's some politics involved in the concessions people as well. When our guy left periodically, someone would come steal his section and this didn't make our guy happy when he returned. A whole world I've never really thought about before.
We also had a COR group event with our Sunday School class and the theme was ROCK BAND! If you don't know what Rock Band is, please let me know and I'll explain, or better yet, you can just come over and try it. The group had a blast and really got into it. Ben shocked and awed them all with his amazing singing and super skills and I wasn't too bad either :). This is a pic of our fearless COR group leaders rockin' out - Rachael and Nathan Herrington! Thanks everyone for a fun time!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Part II

Dallas Vacation: Part 2

I got to spend the rest of my days with all the people I love the most that live in the Dallas area. I managed to fit in time with Mom (more than just the first day!), Dad, Keith (brother), my sister Anne and the rest of the Kalinkes (Bob, Jacob, Andrew, Zach), Grandmother, Jamie (my super sweet friend!), and even all the Cooper's for a few hours. My family time bank was almost filled up. Family dinners are my favorite.

Anne my sweet sister. She's amazing. She's a mother of 3 boys (6, 10, and 11) and a great example for me as a wife and mother. We also have had a lot of wonderful times growing up. She was really almost grown up (15 years old) when I was born so she got to watch me grow up. I visited her in college when I was 4 and was a junior bridesmaid in her wedding when I was 9. I had a much different life than most kids...but I loved it! This weekend, we shopped around like we love to do and had a lot of good conversation and laughter. She's always an encouragement to be around.

Sweet Jamie. Jamie and I have been friends since 2nd grade. We met awkwardly in Sunday school class when I was new and my mom was trying to find friends for me. "Lynn, this is Jamie." I shyly said hello and sat next to her. She was my second friend in Allen (the first was my neighbor Chelsea). We were a part of the famous four-some in our highschool youth group, four of us girls who did everything together. We went to different colleges but remained best friends. Last summer, she was the perfect maid of honor in my wedding and I am blessed to be her friend today. One of our favorite summer passtimes is to lay out by the pool and get sonic for lunch. Mmmmm a sonic drink, chicken sandwich, girly magazine, sun, pool, and a friend - that's a good afternoon. Well, we got to do this while I was there and it was thoroughally relaxing. We baked in the sun but it was all worth it. Thanks wonderful family for a great week!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sweet Mom

This past week, Ben and I went to Dallas and Arlington to visit our families. I hadn't seen my family since Easter. Shopping, eating, watching TLC, and just hanging out characterized our visit. All in my list of favorite things. So much happened that its really too much to write about in one post. So I'll start with my mom and leave ya hangin for the rest.

I love my mom. Being the last child by a lot (13 years), my mom and I have spent so much time just running around in the car doing random stuff for me and for the rest of my family. Its one of my favorite things to do now! Amazingly, we have some of the deepest, most real conversations just driving around. My first day there, Wednesday, we visited my grandmother and then went to Half Price Books. Our stamina is low so we went home, watched tv, and took a nap. That's my kind of vacation. Throughout the weekend we ran around some more looking at furniture, going to random stores, and eating out.

Another treat of going home is that my parents have been taking care of my sister Anne's dog Cody on and off while they do some construction at their house. I confess that I'm more of a cat person (as many of you know) but Cody definitely grew on me. By the end of the weekend, I was sitting with him cuddled in my lap, talking to him like a baby. We have all fallen in love with him! As all dogs do, he loves to take walks. In my growing love for him, I walked him one morning all by myself. All was merry until I realized I forgot to bring the little baggies for the poop! He started to go and I freaked out. What do I do now? I thought I could just make a break for it, but there was a trash man nearby staring at me from his truck. I was so afraid he was going to come out and give me a ticket or a fine for not picking it up. Do they do that? Well, turns out they don't or else he just let me off the hook. Needless to say, after that the walk was over and we headed home.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Another new look

So yes I know, I know. This is like the 3rd or 4th background I've had on my blog. I just hadn't found one I really liked. I would find one and then I'd see someone else's blog and get blog envy. I wanted mine to look like thiers! But of course, you can't go and get their template (lam-o!) so I had to go and find a cute one of my own to spruce up the blog. I think I like this one...we'll see how long it lasts. I just don't like the ad at the top but it seems that I have no choice...any tips? Is there any way to get those ads down at the bottom even? I'm sure someone out there knows some fancy html. Just checking.

On another note, we moved today. Currently we have two apartments - until Monday. The new one has no internet or cable until Tuesday. Our old one has internet and cable until Monday. So while our couch, chairs, food, and mostly all our stuff are in the new apartment, we and our tv are in the old apartment on the floor. Haha...that's silly you may say, just sit and read a book or play a game. Well, it seems you just don't understand. The US Open is on this weekend! Tiger has returned! This is no ordinary tournament and not a tournament to be missed. So you sit on your couch, you rest in your chairs. I will be on the floor this weekend, enjoying an exciting round of golf.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Spanish Lessons

Today I had my 2nd Spanish lesson. I took a test my first lesson (this Tuesday), my teacher assessed it and came back today with a full plan on what we will do each lesson for the summer to whip my Spanish into shape. My grammar is sloppy and its just been so long since I had a formal Spanish class. I'm so excited. We're doing it Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for an hour and a half each day. My teacher's name is Nelly and she is from Ecuador. She observed in my classroom this past semester for her education class at a nearby college. She did a wonderful job today of teaching me different grammar points and idioms and I learned sooo much. The greatest part about it is that if we get off, it's totally ok because we're still speaking Spanish. She's also really good about not speaking any English. I might tend to want to cheat but she's smart! The most essential thing is just to practice Spanish. Talk talk talk.

Another interesting part about today was that I got to walk in the shoes of my kids (school kids that is). It was really really interesting to be in their place - being a student in my 2nd language. Nelly and I did a lot of just talking back and forth. While yes I understood about 95% of what was said, I missed things at times. Sometimes I would ask her to explain but sometimes I really thought I could figure it out. Wanting to save face and hope to regain understanding as she keeps explaining I politely respond with a nod or an "ok". As do my kids - and I totally buy it! They're smart. Most of the time, I'm able to come around and understand what was going on but sometimes not and a smile and nod is just the least embarassing thing to do.

Then, we did a worksheet together. It was about idioms and phrases. There were a couple that I really didn't know and felt pretty lost on. I sat there and quickly tried to figure it out, feeling a little silly that I was not understanding. I mean I'm a teacher! I should get them all right! Then, without really reading all of it, I just guessed...wrongly. Guessed again...wrong. Even a 3rd time I guess wrongly. That's totally what my kids do - and sometimes they get lucky - and I buy it! They just start pulling things out of their hat to get it over with and hope for the best. I enjoyed being a student today. Such valuable insights gained today in Spanish lessons with Nelly. Maybe sometime I'll post in Spanish...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Precious little children

June 11, 2008

Day 3 of VBS. I love VBS. I love little kids and I love 3rd graders. They are so tender and sensitive. I have loved getting to teach about Jesus and to get to talk to these kids about what is most important to me and what gives me hope and joy. I love getting to sing these little kids songs that have such deep and significant truth in them. I sang and learned about Jesus all week. It's been very encouraging and a wonderful reminder of how amazing my Jesus is.

Today was decision day. The Bible lesson was on Jesus's life, death on the cross, and His resurrection 3 days later. I taught the lesson today. After I presented the gospel, they wrote on a paper canoe (the theme is Outrigger Island) in Hawaiian Pau (means finished) for if they were a Christian, Ae (Yes) for they want to ask Jesus to be their Savior, or A'ole (No) if they are not ready today. This is all in the lesson plan booklet - I didn't just make it up. We had 3 write Ae's on their canoes. They went up during the decision service and prayed to receive Christ today along with a few others. It's amazing. They are just little kids but God has called them to Himself. Today was a very significant day in their life. Its very special and its a privilege to get to be a part of it. There were so many children that became believers today in all the grades. It was touching to see. When I see them, its a lot more clear what it means to have the faith of a child.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Family visit

June 9, 2008

Oh I love family. One of my favorite things is to be with a whole bunch of family - all different ages and stages of life. Being in Houston, I definitely don't get my fill of family, but this weekend was a wonderful dose of family. Ben's parents came down to visit. They just stepped for a weekend into "our world". We were proud to show it to them. Friday we went to Beck's prime for a good ole' Houston burger. Saturday the guys played golf and Pat and I drank coffee, set her up a blog, went shopping at Ross Dress for Less and Old Navy (with much success), a delightful lunch at La Madeline and a whole lot of good conversation inbetween...what a treat!

Saturday night,we took them down to Kemah boardwalk. They were amazed that you could see the ocean so close to Houston. We ate, walked around, and just enjoyed the area. Let us out of Jail! (do we look like we're in jail? I was trying to look distressed)

Pat and I trying on hats
I am greatly blessed by my in-laws. They treat me like a princess, compliment me constantly, pray for us, and have fun with us. They are a blessing from the Lord.
In other news, I did 3rd grade VBS today at First. It was enjoyable and I'm getting to work with some fun people.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Summer time

June 4, 2008

Summer time. Oh glorious summer time. Wow, give me 2 interrupted, free days with no one but me and myself and I can accomplish more (of non school related stuff) than I accomplished since January. Here are some things I have gotten to in the last 2 days...

Working out (twice!)
Cleaning out the abyss of random stuff that our bedroom corner had become - I even found a bag of trash that had been sitting there since like February! Storing trash! Ugh!
Treating my car to an oil change
Found the Library and checked out books!
Made friends with two neighborhood stray cats who a neighbor was feeding under the stairs- very hard to part with
Finished Harry Potter 5
Went to the cleaners
Made dinner (twice!)
Painted my boring colorless toenails
Browsed IKEA
Read some more of Leviticus

Wow! What a chill 2 days its been. It's a different summer I will admit. I've never had summer in Houston before. I'm far away from my normal summer buddies, but I've got my sweet Ben and my Houston buddies and my new cat friends (ha, they might not be too safe though). Oh glorious summer.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Well, I'm officially out for the summer. WOO-HOO!! We had to go back today to clean up and check out. It felt amazing leaving school today. I put on some wonderful music, zoomed out of the parking lot, picked up some lunch (a crunchwrap supreme), and went to the apartment to chill with Gilmore Girls. It was a lovely afternoon. Now, let me tell you that I do love teaching and I do love the children. They are precious and rewarding to teach. I can't imagine spending my day with adults only - it just wouldn't be as colorfulor interesting. That being said, I thought I'd give you a little list of the things that I will NOT miss in the next 2 1/2 months...

1. The sound of my last name at least 1000 times a day
2. Constantly trying to make people walk in lines
3. The never-ending search for the blessed dry erase marker
4. TAKS practice, even the word TAKS
5. Scarfing down my lunch

Now the top 5 things that I will miss in the next 2 1/2 months...

1. Love notes every day from my sweet girls
2. Discussions about the most random topics possible
3. Junie B Jones
4. Teacher friends
5. The constant supply of funny stories

Enjoy the summer everyone!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Last week of school

For those of you who don't know and who don't have any teacher friends, its the last week of some Texas schools - mine included. Its bittersweet I think. It's exciting to have a fresh start with kids who have never been in my classroom. They don't know any mistakes I made last year. They don't know if I'm strict or nice or tough or loose, I get to be whatever I want to be with them. So, I kinda get to reinvent my teaching every year - keep the good and replace the bad that I have spent the whole year recovering from and trying to backtrack on.

I have put so much love and energy into my kids this year that it will be sad to watch them go. I admit there might be some tears shed by me and by them. If they cry then I won't be able to help it. I love their sweet attitudes. Some of them are genuniely sad that school is over because their summer's aren't as thrilling as ours might have been. Such simple joys of life. I will miss them but I will get to see them grow up in the next two years. Unlike this year (because I moved schools), I'll get to see them in the hallways, talk to them, and watch them mature and grow. I'm excited and I'm so proud of where they've come from!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Austin Rocks!

This weekend, in honor of Memorial Day and having a lovely 3-day weekend, Ben and I took a trip to Austin. I have never offically been to Austin (only driven through it) and so it was quite the adventure for me. We left Saturday morning early in time for a quick lunch and a 1:00 tee-time. Tee as in a golf tee. Yes, I Lynn played golf on my vacation, by choice. I shot a 65...in 9 holes. Then, I just rode around in the cart for most of the back nine. If you know anything about golf, that's really not a desireable score, but its a start. But there is a double bogie and a bogie thrown in there somewhere that I am proud of. A good score for 18 holes would be somewhere between 30 and 45 or so. Anyways, if you just can't picture me golfing...I'll help you out.

After golfing, we chilled at our hotel and then went out on the town. We went to where Austin rocks - 6th street. We ate dinner at the Iron Cactus, walked around, and got to hear some cool music and see a live band along with some very interesting people. Overall, a good experience.

Sunday, we went to the famous Mozarts Coffee Shop. It was on Lake Austin with a huge deck right on the water. It was a very relaxing Sunday morning with Ben, my Harry Potter book (book 5), and the lake. After that, we went to see the Capitol building. Amazing building! We finished our trip off with some split shopping (Lynn) and golf (Ben) in the Round Rock area. Quite the relaxing weekend. And then we still had all of Monday to chill! I absolutely love 3-day weekends!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A lovely wedding

What a wonderful weekend. It was refreshing, relaxing, fun, and full of friends. We went to the Bonner - Blaschke wedding in Fairfield which is south of Dallas. Those of you who frequent I-45 (as I used to so much) know Fairfield as the little town you pass through that has a sonic and that maybe you can stop to get gas in. Well, this weekend, we actually drove into it and went to a beautiful outside wedding. It was a small little town without even a Wal-Mart (gasp!) or a Starbucks (HUGE gasp!). At one point we tried to find a coffee shop to just chill in and they told us McDonalds was our best bet. Wow are they missing out!

Anyways....Ben was a groomsman and even wore the same (I think) tux with green as was at our wedding. He was so handsome! What a superb job he did standing up in front. I couldn't be more proud :).

We got to see lots of Grace friends and talk to everyone about what they're doing. Its crazy how much happens in people's lives in just two years out of college. Let's see, some are getting married, some having babies, some moving to another country, some finding new jobs or just continuing in thier current ones. But its always nice to see everyone and its full of laughs.