Saturday, June 29, 2013

a few more Chicago pics

 Ingenious solution to cramped quarters...seats and bleachers on apartment rooftops across the seat from Wrigley Field
 The pedestrian tunnel underneath Lake Shore Drive.  I HAD to walk it because my fav fiction series...YadaYada Prayergroup characters live in Chicago and this tunnel is mentioned all the time.  It was a tad spooky
 More gorgeous old buildings next to new ones
Cute old row homes in Lincoln Park.

Our kids were so happy to see us!!  Dillon couldn't get enough of me yesterday and last night asked "Can I marry you?"
And, I dont want to live in Chicago.  I sure love Wide Open Spaces here in TX!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Chicago trip

We have loved our time in Chicago.  What a cool city.  Oh wait, first...our plane trip.  We flew from DFW at 6:55am.  Most people were snoozing(Mike included).  I made a great friend.  Adidti was flying home from a biochemistry conference.  She is a professor at U of Illinois. We had the best time and I wish we could hang out more often!  Back to Chicago...
Our impression thus far is that the downtown area is so beautiful, clean, wide sidewalks, art is everywhere, people are very nice, and it is super easy to get around. I'm just blown away by the architecture styles.  Beautifully kept old buildings next to skyscrapers.  It is stunning for a girl who grew up listening to her mom and dad comment on art-deco and Victorian style buildings.  The city truly has a commitment to the arts.  Sculptures, museums, and theaters are all over the downtown.  And the public transportation....a breeze!  Mike and I have a love for conquering major city's public transits and thus far have ridden subways and buses in D.C, NYC, Boston, Chicago, L.A., and Seoul. Poopooh on you major cities in Texas for you sucky transportation!!  Anyways, the elevated train was so easy to navigate and I loved being above the city as we were carted to destinations.  Walking the Magnificent Mile and Millennium Park was so cool. Wrigley field is really funny and cool.  I mean, a MLB stadium and it is smack dab in the middle of an OLD neighborhood.  The stadium is a historical icon and really cute.  It is so small compared to The Ballpark in Arlington were we are used to watching baseball games.  A few pics of our trip

 Standing on Navy Pier looking at the city
 Just gorgeous city scene, standing on the bridge over the river
 The adorable Wheaton train station where we caught the commuter train.
 Yes, we braved the sky deck, 103 stories!
The Cloud Gate

Now, all that being said, everything is not hunky dory in Chicago.  We rode the commuter train several times.  When you get out of the main downtown area, the neighborhoods look like decayed and crammed in old apartments.  Gang crime is really bad.  As much as I could totally live here, I'm so glad my children have lots and lots of open spaces and nature to run around in. 
Speaking of our children, I was so excited about being alone at the hotel Monday while Mike was at his school conference.  I'd been anticipating the quiet, the time to do whatever I pleased, and finish my schoolwork without having to say "Hudson, please be quiet for just a minute so mommy can do her homework."  So, Monday after I'd been alone a few hours, I was bored and walked down to the hotel pool.  There were some floaties and beach balls, but not a soul was there.  I got so sad and lonely and missed my kids!!  On the second day of the trip I missed them.  Good gravy, Libby!  I texted my friend Meredith and told her I thought I was a lunatic.  She assured me I was a normal momma :)
We go home in a few hours.  Thank you Mom and Kathy for helping with our crew

Monday, June 24, 2013

What I'm learning from stickers

Our yard at our new place is humongous.  Below is a small picture of the side of the front yard.  It looks lush, healthy, and green.  Don't be fooled.  Nearly everything green in that yard is a sticker plant.  Do you guys know what stickers are?  Maybe there is a more botanically correct term for the painful and nearly impossible to get rid of little demons.  

Here is a sticker up close. They sprout barbed little seeds that stick and prick your feet or fingers.  Trouble is, if you just mow over them, you fling the seeds and that makes more stickers.  The only way to get rid of these is by digging them up, by the roots, one plant at a time. 

And that is our plan.  To dig them all up and grow real grass in our yard.  Mike and I, mostly Mike, have  spent a lot of minutes digging up sticker plants the last few weeks.  Once the ground is dry and hard(will be by July), it is super hard to pull them up by the roots. As I was plucking them up a few weeks ago, I had a thought.  A sticker plant resembles my spiritual life.  From far away, it looks so green and lush and, well, grassy!  But, get a good close look, take your shoes off and step on it, and OUCH, sticker plants!  Battling ugly hangups and sins is like battling stickers. You can't simply mow over it and cut it down short so that it looks good.  That will just produce more bad habits, hangups and sins.  And, if you leave those things too long, your heart becomes hard and dry and boy is it difficult to change at that point. True spiritual pruning requires uprooting by the roots.  It is hard and laborious.  My ever-growing sticker thatch is made up of a short-temper, critical spirit, spreading a bad report, grumbling, comparing myself to others, and envy.  I need a "sticker-ectomy"!  I want to grow the Fruit of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, self-control.

And he that was sown among the thorns, this is he that heareth the word; and the care of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.  Matthew 22:13

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

10 years later, Dillon is a recognized US citizen

We were supposed to complete this process many many years ago.  You see, it is a long story.  I've told it before, but here goes again.  For more than 10 years now, children are considered American citizens when they land in the States with their adoptive families.  However, the bureaucracies haven't figured out exactly how to recognize them as so.  The Certificate of Citizenship is the last hoop in a loooooong series of hoops that international adoptive families jump through.
Oh, and to file that paper, it just happens to cost 550.00! 
Moving right along, we finally had our appointment for Dillon's certificate(I kept dragging my feet).  Abby's was several years ago.  I entered this day highly annoyed!  Mike and I have been tax paying and law abiding citizens forever and it miffed me badly that we had to do this for our tiny child who poses no threat.   
First off, let me say kudos to the Irving USCIS field office!  It is easy to get to, is new and lovely.  The security guards were friendly....umm, I made several trips to the old office in Dallas during our adoption journey with Abby---NOT friendly.
The staff was so happy and genuinely enjoyed hosting the citizenship ceremony. A large crowd of immigrants and their families were there to celebrate.  They did a country roll-call and had everyone stand up when their country of origin was called out.  I kept tearing up seeing the adorable children dressed up for a momentous occasion.  One little Ethiopian girl had one a Star-Spangled Banner dress and was so stinkin' cute!
We said our pledge, sang the National Anthem, and watched a greeting from the President.  Then, drum roll please.....A video montage with Lee Greenwood's "I'm Proud to be an American."  After the song, the director was all choked up.  She had a strong Hispanic accent and talked about what a privilege it is to be a citizen of the USA and she is so thankful for her job and opportunities.  I teared up again.
It was a sweet and memorable occasion and I am so grateful to the fantastic job the USCIS office in Irving did.
Next year, and next time I get a spare 550.00---Hudson will become official.
We next dropped off donations of new shoes to Shoes for Orphan Souls at Buckner International.  The huge pallet behind us is full of shoes for orphanages in Ethiopia.  Such an easy and sweet thing to gather at church...children's shoes.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Celebrating the daddy

Happy Father's Day Mike and 43rd birthday on Tuesday :)!  Your four blessings are truly blessed to have a strong and loving man to guide them and teach them.  If only every kid was so fortunate...
I barely knew you when I said Yes some 20 years ago.  Where has the time gone?  You are a fun and stable best friend to me and keep me sane(no small feat, true). So thankful for the hubby and daddy you are. Can't wait for our short getaway to Chicago!

And to my own dad, what a blessing to have grown up knowing I was loved, just as I was.  You taught us 4 girls that we had to have high expectations for ourselves and the  men we'd seek to marry.  You taught us to really examine the Scriptures for ourselves.  You taught us the beauty of art and music.  So thankful!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

running...for my life

I run.  I've run for many years.  In high school my coaches assumed, based on my physique(can you say long chicken legs?) that I was a distance runner.  Of course, I'm slow and have no muscle mass to be able to run fast.  But, I do like to run...some.  I generally run 2 miles 4 days a week. No pushing myself to do more or try harder.  My younger sister,Emily, recently became a running beast!  Last May she began running, lost 40 pounds, and recently ran a 1/2 marathon--insane!
This past Saturday I ran a really fun 5K with friends from work.  In case you can't tell...I'm the glowing white legs with the safety cone orange tshirt.  We have a runner's group at work and our Tshirts say "Cardiac ICU...We run for our lives"

I'm more and more motivated to push myself harder physically.  Guys, I'm going to be so darn blunt here...for your good, of course.  I've been a nurse for 17 years.  The last 10 of it has been in a cardiac unit.  Americans are killing themselves!  No sense in trying to be politically correct to spare feelings.  I'm trying to spare lives.  My patients are morbidly obese, don't exercise, eat total crap, have high blood pressure and diabetes. They expect popping a pill to fix all their ailments.  Guess what?  If  you eat fat, greasy'll be a fat, greasy dude!  I have 29 year old patients with heart attacks who get stents.  Yesterday, I sent a 32 year old man to open heart surgery to have a bypass.  Diabetes will cause blindness, kidney failure, loss of limbs and much more.  Smoking is BAD people.  I also teach the Congestive Heart Failure class for patients and their families.  Canned vegetables are not really veggies...they are smushy veggies bathed in a salt mixture.  30 oz Big Gulps full of soda are exorbitant in sugar and sodium.

I have the key to good health and it is SO cheap!  Want to know???

Get up off your BUTT
Eat real vegetables.

My kids get spinach and grated carrots hidden in their turkey meatloaf.  Not eating broccoli because they don't like it is not a viable excuse.  You will eat it because I said so and I'm the boss!

And now, some free running tips, from my personal observations at 5Ks over the past many years:
Tiny spandex "shorts" are not attractive on anybody!!  When you run and your butt cheek hangs out the bottom of those "spanx" or whatever they are called...eeewwww

Pick up your feet.  When I'm running in a race, it totally grates on my nerves to hear someone shuffling along.  To run properly, you must pick up your feet and place them heel then rock to toe

Costumes look ridiculous.  Basic running wear people.  Let's keep it simple please.

Chugging a bottle of water while you run will me.

Nobody else wants to listen to your "motivational music."

Nothing cuter and more inspiring that adorable octogenarians running along and beating you...I'm half their age!  OH, that I'd be that spry in my winter years :)

Okay, I'm signing up for the Jailbreak DFW(5K with 20 obstacles) in September.  Anyone want to join me??

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A little furniture reno for almost free

We are making good progress on our house.  I painted the red dresser that we needed to put in the strange hall bathroom that had not a stitch of a vanity, counter, or storage space.  The dresser was bright red and is now basic brown, plus new knobs.  

Thanks to Mike's bright idea, we took the drop leaves off of our antique table to make a sweet little computer desk for the "reading nook."  It is full of memories.  The table was our wedding gift, the table cloth my mother brought back from her trip to China, and the chair was also a re-purposed gift. 

 As for the reading nook, it is coming along smashingly.  As you know, we were "Dave Ramsey-fied" several years ago, which means living without debt...or trying to anyway.  So, our reading nook was not something we could spend money on.  We have big plumbing repairs that are going to cost us a lot of cash!  God blessed us with a free(and very nice) chair that was being given away be someone.  The adorable little table was a garage sale steal for 5.00 that I used the same delightful brown paint shown above to give it new zest. Umm, I think we have a problem with too much brown.  Oh well, bigger fish to fry.

And speaking of God blessing us, a sweet friend was updating her home and we bought her large, brown(shocker!) sectional for a crazy good deal.  Now, our whole fam can sit on the couch to cheer on the Rangers!
One more sweet thing:  Mike and I are going to Chicago in 2 weeks!  He has a conference there and I'm tagging along.  It will be a combo trip:  20th anniversary and work development for Mike.  I'll spend some time exploring the city by myself(I'm a great explorer on my own) and I'll work on my class.  My research class started this week...trying to be positive here..

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sweet memories this week

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice. Proverbs 27:9
       Meredith has been a sweet friend for the past year and a half.  We finally met several days ago.  She and her husband and 4 children(the youngest just came home from Korea last summer) met us at Rainforest Cafe in Grapevine. 

Such a great family!  We had fun and felt like long-time buds.  If only we lived closer(she is 3 hours away).  But, in November we are going to see Jen Hatmaker together!  Yippeee  :)
     This week we kicked off summer.  Mike built a firepit in our backyard and tonight we cooked hot dogs over it.  We also bought a plastic kiddie pool for the deck.  The little boys put the slide into the pool and had a blast. 

We may be a tad redneck--or Duck Dynastyish! Our new place suits us so well.  We are hardly turning on the tv and everyone seems happier.
     Wednesday Hudson was a maniac.  He chattered constantly and was so funny.  At one point he had a backpack on, loaded with trains,and told me that he was "going on a Souf Afwica twip."
     Carter is back at work at the hardware store.  He took off 3 months due to the demands of the school musical.
     Abby is my official sitter this summer and plans to buy a Mac book with her earnings.
     Bless Dillon's heart, he has 5 more days of school and the others are out.  My mother suggested I make the other kids get up and put on their school uniforms(private school) to fake him out!  He is taking it well.
I can so tell it is summer:  there are little boy undies and swimwear lying out in my bathroom to dry, I took 2 baths today(1 after running early this morning and 1 after cooking out over a fire), my menu is not organized at all and "just scrounge in the fridge" is an actual planned for meal.