Tea Time

My family loves hot tea, one of my favorites is vanilla rooibos. My favorite way to prepare it is to put one teaspoon of vanilla tea in an infuser in a cup, then pour boiling water over it and let it steep for 10 minutes. remove the infuser and add 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar. Enjoy!
Photobucket smaller small cup

I have been starting to cross stitch and embroider and thought I would share some pictures of my latest projects.
Photobucket Photobucket
Since I am enjoying embroidery and cross stitching so much I want to try quilting soon. If you know of any good quilting books or websites it would be a great help if you would leave me a comment. The first quilt I want to make will be a simple one with some embroidered pictures on a few of the squares.

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A New Puppy

On July 11th we got a new puppy. I had been wanting a pure lab puppy for three years but they cost so much money was not able to get one. My parents said if I could find a puppy at a low price, a good breed mix, and we all liked it we could get one. I was searching several hundred puppies a day on Craigslist. One night at about eight I had been looking at so many puppies which made me want one even more. I got onto Craigslist and saw that an hour before someone had posted a free puppy that was eight weeks old. She was just so cute with her big floppy ears and was just the right breed mix, lab/fox terrier. I showed my dad the ad and he said my mom could call to ask about the puppy. The next evening my dad, mom, Sarah, Caroline, and I were on our way to get the puppy which we were naming Penelope or Penny for short.

She is now five months old and weighs 37 pounds. She looks and acts mostly fox terrier so I call her a giant fox terrier. She loves people, she is a little over protective of me, she is brilliant, and learns new commands quickly. Since she is so smart she can be stubborn. She loves to play, she is sweet, funny, she loves fall, and will lay outside on the porch swing for hours at a time. She is just a wonderful puppy!

Penny loves toys. We got her her first stuffed toy a few days ago, a stuffed chicken, which she loves. If she wants to play, she will go get her chicken and hold it in her mouth, squeaking it and looking up at you until you will play tug of war or throw it for her.

She also loves her walks. I usually take her on one every night and when she sees I have my walking shoes on and have her leash she will get all excited and try to pull me to the gate. If I only have my walking shoes on or only have the leash she won’t get excited since she knows we aren’t going on a walk. She learns quickly.

I use the “It’s Me Or The Dog” training method which I think is by far the best method. I have watched most of her shows and have seen a lot of useful tips. I have not read her book but I want to get it soon.

I will continue to post stories, pictures, and videos of Penny so you can all get to know her.

Here is a picture of Penny I just took the other day. She had just woken up and I let her outside to lie on her swing. ;)

Penny on the swing 10/11/09

Here is a picture of her the day we got her.

Recent Life In Our House

Well, it’s 2 am and I am watching Fellowship of the Ring with Hannah, Rachel & Caroline, and listening to Lindsay cough uncontrollably in her bedroom.  In the last 24 hours the girls have had about 6 breathing treatments for their asthma, we have done several steam treatments tonight, countless doses of medicine, and hot tea by the gallon.  Sarah, the child that though she has special needs is rarely sick, even has an upper respiratory infection.  Gene seems to be getting over his URI, and I hope it stays away for a while.  Me, well, I’m not sick, I’ve just been running like crazy trying to keep up with everything that needs to be done (and quite honestly, I’m not succeeding).  I have started about 5 blog posts, which are currently waiting to be finished.

The opening to this post isn’t very cheery, but in all honesty, it’s not as depressing as it all may sound.  The Lord is teaching us all a great deal through this trial, and for that, I am very thankful.  Our holidays, while not full of activities, parties, and excitement, were full of meaningful times and expressions of love for one another.   For Christmas it is our common practice to have the girls draw another sister’s name, and they are given a certain amount of money to buy that sister a gift, or gifts.  They look forward to this with great anticipation, not looking forward to what they will get, but toward what they will give.  They spend countless hours in thought and preparation of their gift.  This year something spontaneous happened that surprised me.  The girls individually began spending their own allowances to buy small things to make for the sisters whose names they didn’t draw.  I know of many people who eschew gift giving at Christmas because of the belief that it causes greediness and the desire to get more and more.  In our family I have found the opposite to be true. The girls are appreciative of the gifts they receive, but generally have trouble even telling you what they want as gifts.  We have tried to nuture in them a desire to be cheerful givers whenever the opportunity arises, and we have seen good fruit from this thus far.

December 31st, was our 25th wedding anniversary and Gene planned a big surprise for me.  On Wednesday evening, December 17th, Gene told me that first thing Thursday morning we would be heading out for a trip to San Antonio.  I have wanted to go for years, and love history, so this was the perfect surprise for me.  I was so excited to get to go to the Alamo after hearing about it for so many years. This may sound strange, but it was all I could do to not start crying as I entered the building for the first time. The realization of what had taken place there was heavy upon my heart.  The grounds of the Alamo are beautiful; it is hard to believe that they are right in the center of the city.

After the Alamo we went and checked into our Bed & Breakfast before going to the Riverwalk. It was a beautiful little B&B right on the river.  It was so peaceful and beautiful. It was quite overcast the two days we were there, which gave the city an unusual feel.  The river was beautiful, as was the boat ride down it.  As I was riding on the river, in the fog, under all of the bridges, it felt as if I was in London.  Once the sun went down and all of the Christmas lights came on, it was even more beautiful on the river.  I felt as if I was a child in a wonderland of lights.  After walking along the river for a while, we then at dinner at Boudro’s.  The food was amazing, and the bread pudding was a great end to the meal.  It was nice to eat on the riverwalk, watching the people as they walked by.  After we walked a while longer we went back to the van.  Gene knows how I love to take pictures, so he took me by the Alamo, so that I could get pictures at night.  It was an amazing site to see it with the lights illuminating it’s historic walls.  The next morning we ate breakfast at the B & B and then drove through a historic district nearby.  After a quick stop at the Buckhorn Museum downtown, we headed home.  The trip was wonderful for me, as it gave me a much needed break from the holiday rush.  It was nice to spend a day not thinking about all that I had to do to finish preparing for the holidays.  I don’t know that I have ever been so completely able to lay my thinking and planning aside.

San Antonio Album 1

San Antonio Album 2

San Antonio Album 3

Lindsay went to Little Rock the afternoon we returned from San Antonio for the wedding of some friends.  While there she was able to stay with Gene’s sister and to see her cousin’s new baby.  She had a wonderful trip, but picked up a bug on the return plane ride.

We had a very subdued but nice Christmas enjoying a lot of time together, with us all playing the new Wii together when the girls were up to it. Gene surprised me, and the girls, with a very nice present for Christmas. He had taken the girls shopping, and they picked out several nice things for me, not knowing about the secret gift.  He surprised us all with a top of the line Kitchen Aid Professional mixer.  The girls were as excited as I was to receive it.  We didn’t wait long to try it out either!

Since we had already celebrated our anniversary on our trip, on the 31st we just went to our favorite pizza place, New York Pizzeria and the mall.  Gene didn’t make it until midnight (I think he was beginning to get sick at that point) but the girls and I did.  We went outside at midnight to watch the fireworks, which lasted quite a while.  The next day Gene’s brother, Guy, came for a visit. We had a really nice visit while he was here, though the girls weren’t feeling quite up to snuff.

I haven’t been taking a lot of pictures as of late, but I did get a chance to Friday at Gene’s office.  Lindsay was taking pictures inside for a brochure and the website, so I went outside to take pictures.  Gene’s new office is located on an acre of land in old Katy, in the middle of a neighborhood, which provided a few flowers and such to take pictures of around the office.  These are a few of my favorites.

It was fun to watch this little fellow flit from flower to flower. He almost looks as if he could fall in on his head and get stuck!

One of the things I have come to appreciate about nature photography, is the details that pop out at you that you didn’t even notice while taking the pictures.

I have also come to see many things I would have overlooked before, such as this flower.

These little fellows were none too happy that I kicked their mound to see if they were home. Yes, they are fire ants, but none of them got me…. mwahahaha.

This tiny fellow was almost invisible, until I got down really close to take this picture. Isn’t his little red self cute?

Well, it’s after 4 am now.  Fellowship has finished, they have taken another round of breathing treatments, and they have started Two Towers.  I hope they are feeling better before it ends, but we’ll have to wait and see how that goes.  You are pretty much caught up with everything going on here.  I hope to begin posting more often, but only time will tell.

It’s A Wonderful Life

One of our family Christmas traditions is to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” together.  This year as we watched it together many thoughts came to me.  Maybe it is because of the economic climate and the realization that many are having a very hard time this year, or maybe it’s just because I’m getting older that I saw the movie through a different light.  I see so many parallels in this movie to our Christian walk, and it was a much needed reminder that my life, no matter how humble, is really quite wonderful.

George Bailey always had a plan for how he wanted to live his life, which included travel, adventure and excitement.  He saw Bedford Falls as a sleepy, boring town that constrained him. He wanted to do something important. Don’t we want this?  I know that I do.   I often see others’ lives as important or exciting and see the life they lead as somehow better or more important than mine.  In reality, I have been placed in this life, to serve the purpose that God has for me.  When all the girls are having asthma trouble, the nights get long, and my work seems never ending, I can feel overwhelmed.  I see my life as mundane and unimportant.  As I begin to pray for encouragement, the Lord reminds me that He has placed me here. He has me going through this circumstance to help me to grow to be more Christ-like.  The role He has given each of us is important.  We only need to serve Him faithfully and work to bring about His purposes.

One of George’s greatest character traits was his unselfishness. When there was a run on the bank, in order to keep the Savings & Loan afloat he used his own money to help others out. I know that selfishness is a battle we must all fight.  One of the greatest things I have learned through being a mother of many, and one with special needs, is to set my own wishes aside.  Like George, I often don’t set out to do this and may even resent doing it.  With time I am learning to set aside my desires, and the way I am able to do this without having resentment is by realizing I am doing the task in service to the Lord. When I try to do things with other motives, it always seems to bring about frustration and resentment.  When I see every task as a service to Him, it seems that the frustration and resentment melt away.

Mary Bailey was great at making lemonade out of lemons.  When the money for her honeymoon was gone and George had spent the day saving the Savings & Loan, Mary could have built up resentment toward George and their circumstances.  Instead, she made the best out of a bad situation.  She put her own desires aside and looked for creative ways to serve George and to make their honeymoon special.  We often put pressure upon ourselves to have everything “just right.” We especially heap these expectations upon ourselves during the holidays.  On Christmas Eve as I was cooking our holiday meal and things began to go wrong, I started to feel that pressure. The three younger girls had been down with asthma & colds, and Lindsay was the only one who was able to help me prepare the meal. Then mid-afternoon, she realized she had the flu.  I sent her to bed and continued cooking.  For a while I let the pressure of trying to have everything “just so” get to me.  As the feelings of frustration and defeat began to take hold, I began praying.  I realized that I was taking the burden of the holiday being special on my shoulders, and I felt it’s success or failure rested wholly on me.  It was only when I began to realize what made the holiday special was our time together and enjoying one another, was I able to relax and enjoy the day.  I still had a good deal of work to do, but when I saw it as serving my Lord and my family, it became a joyful task instead of a burden.

As George’s life went on, he became more and more dissatisfied with his circumstances. He seemed to always be wishing for something other than what he had.  Discontentment is a joy robber.  When we are discontent, we are truly being ungrateful. We are saying to God, “I know that these are the circumstances that you have given me, but I would really like to be somewhere else. ”  Think on that for a moment.  We are telling the God of the universe that we have a better plan.  I cannot count the number of times I have done this very thing, and not even subtly.  I have flat out said that I had a better plan.  It makes me cringe to think of it.  How often do we ask God to deliver us from our current circumstances, when we should be looking to see what He is trying to show us.  Through many trials the Lord has shown me so many truths. I look back on my life and see the various trials I have gone through, not with regret or remorse, but with a thankful heart.  I feel blessed that the Lord has seen fit to show me His mercies and truths.

Times of despair will come to all of our lives, just as they did to George’s.  Often they are not of our own doing, just as George’s desperation wasn’t through any fault of his own.  Where do we turn when those times of despair come?  Who or what do we lean on? When we first found out that Sarah had medical problems, all we were told was that her head wasn’t growing.  Because we had no health insurance we had to wait for three months to see a neurologist.  I knew enough to know that if her head wasn’t growing, but her brain was, there were serious issues. All of this sent me into the pit of despair.  I had nowhere to turn, no one with any answers, except God.  I did a lot of praying during those three months.  When we finally did see the neurologist, the news was not good.  We were told to institutionalize Sarah, because she would never walk or talk and would basically be vegetative.  At those words the bottom fell out of my pit.  It felt as if the world were crushing in around me.  The only thing that got me through it all was the knowledge that God was in control.  I knew that He had me in His hand, and that nothing would happen that He wouldn’t help me to handle.  That doesn’t mean it was easy. Each day had a great many struggles, but I made it through each day.  He gave me the grace and mercy to make it through each hour, but He only gave me the grace I needed for that moment.  I learned a great deal about faith , and with each step I learned to have faith that He would be there to hold me up for the next step.

At the end of the movie Harry makes a toast to George saying, “To my big brother George, the richest man in town!”  Harry was right, George was rich . . . in everything that mattered. This is such a wonderful picture. Mr. Potter, who had all the worldly riches a man could desire, had none of the riches that really mattered. He may have lived in comfort, but he was bitter and lonely.  George, while poor in the things of this world, had love, family, and friends.

The jewel of life that matters most can’t be purchased for any amount of gold.  That jewel is what Christmas is all about.  It is the redemption that was bought for us through the birth, death and resurrection of Christ.  As the decorations and lights come down, please think about the meaning behind your life and who you have served through it.  Though you may be rich or poor in the things of this world, at the end of time only one jewel will matter, that is the jewel of Christ Jesus.  If you would like to understand this better, please read this article.