Here are some pictures I snapped out the van window on our drive to Lubbock last week. (Grandparents: I know you want, yea demand, pictures of the kids in their new backyard and playing in their new rooms. I'll get to it soon!)
Click on the pictures to enlarge. Some of them are pretty good, considering I took them out the van window while keeping my eye on the road ahead!
Remember I mentioned the trees turned to really small trees...which then turned to shrubs...which eventually gave way to this:
It does have it's own special kind of beauty though. The sky is huge and beautiful, and truly breathtaking:
Cool picture of a train:
Cool picture of giant windmill thingies:
Wait! What's that uphead! It is mirage? No...it's really a hill! A large one!
Me and the kids spent the morning out running around. I think we are really going to like our neighborhood.
THURSDAY APRIL 26TH
7:58am Me and the three kids load up in the van, and the kids wave goodbye to daddy and our home. I get a little bit teary. Jonathan stays at the house to wait for the movers to arrive at 8:00.
8:18 Jonathan calls; the movers have called and will be an hour late.
8:30 Ryan asks for the first of many times, "Are we in Lubbock yet?"
8:45 We've been in the car for 47 minutes of a 6 hour journey. Ryan sighs and protests, "Geesh! Are we even still in Texas?"
9:15 Highway construcion on I-20. Down to one lane. Stuck behind school bus.
9:30 Lauryn falls asleep. I start a movie on the portable DVD player for the boys. All is well and quiet.
11:00 We hit Abilene, TX. I tell Ryan we can stop at McDonalds. We never see the Golden Arches. We finally see a Dairy Queen, but I pass up stopping. In my experience, DQ's bathrooms are less than sanitary. Way less.
11:05 I realize I have passed through all of Abilene without stopping for lunch. I have no idea what's ahead and I start to worry about where and when we'll eat.
11:20 We are in Merkel, TX and I see another Dairy Queen and decide to stop. Earlier concerns about bathroom confirmed. I'm sure the entire restaurant heard me yelling "Hands in the air! Don't touch anything!"
12:20 I tell they boys, "We need to hit the road." Dylan replies, "Yeah mom, we need to hit the road if we're going to get to the airport." I guess since we flew to Lubbock last time, he thought that we were headed to a really far away airport.
12:30 I notice the trees are getting short.
12:40 These can really no longer be trees. They are shrubs.
12:45 There are no longer even any shrubs.
1:00 We hit a long stretch of road with no exits, and no place to take a potty break.
1:15 I need a potty break.
1:20 I am seriously doubting my judgment; why is world would I drink a large iced tea at Dairy Queen?
1:25 I am cursing the iced tea.
1:30 Feeling really desperate now. I am scouting out trees, but as mentioned before they are few and far between.
1:40 We finally hit a town with a McDonalds. I rush all three kids into the one stall bathroom. I yell at Ryan as he starts to pull down his pants that Mommy gets to go first and he'll just have to hold it.
2:30 I arrive at the apartment we have rented "sight unseen" based on pictures we see online.
2:35 I get the key to the apartment and walk thru the complex to find our unit. The smell of marijuana is heavy in the air.
2:36 I rationalize, "Well, it's okay. It's going to be fine. I know a lot of pot smokers who are perfectly wonderful, harmless people."
2:40 I unlock our unit. The apartment is....really, really bad. I won't write about it, for fear it would remain too long in my nightmares. NO STINKIN' WAY this is the same complex I saw pictures of online.
3:00 The associate pastor's wife arrives and delcares, "Oh no. You are NOT living here."
3:30 Real estate agents all over the city of Lubbock have been contacted, trying to find us a new place to live. The apartment has been threatened with legal action if they do not let us out of our lease. They have indeed completely misrepresented themselves online, and apparently they know it, because they eventually let us out of our lease with a full refund.
5:00 The associate pastor's wife and I take a break from calling Realtors and go eat dinner with her husband and all our kiddos. I had a Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad. It was wonderful. It's a good thing it was wonderful, because if something would have been wrong with it I would have probably completely freaked out.
5:45 We start getting calls back from Realtors. We schedule some rent houses to look at after dinner.
6:00 Jonathan arrives in Lubbock. He's a bit stressed because I've been calling him telling him about the ghetto-ville apartments we've rented, but he can't really do anything because he's on the road. We leave the restaurant to meet him at a rental property.
7:00 After looking at two places, we find the perfect rent house for us. 3 bedroom..2 bath...2 car garage...big backyard with privacy fence...brand new carpet...fresh paint...and vacant and ready to be moved in tomorrow morning after our application is approved. I begin to think that God knew this would happen all along.
8:00 Jonathan goes to the property management company with the super nice, super great Realtor who was willing to work late and begin our application process. The church gets us a room at a suite hotel and me and the kids head on over.
8:15 Our application is approved. We can move in tomorrow.
9:00 Jonathan finally eats dinner.
9:30 Jonathan arrives at the hotel, and we talk about how no one but God could have worked this out for us in such a perfect way in such a short time. We talk some more about how good He is, and how we know He has called us here.
This was our first home purchase. It was cozy and charming, (for the astute reader, that means small and old) and we loved it. Tomorrow morning at 8:00am sharp, we will wave goodbye to our humble abode and return to apartment living.
I would take some time to talk about what it feels like to leave Dallas...but I'm too stinkin' tired. I have been packing up "last minute" things, and somehow what was supposed to be "last minute" has turned into a 12 hour affair.
Thankfully it's been beautiful outside today, so the kids have been banished to the backyard while we work in the house. We begin our apartment living tomorrow...how will I keep my sanity without being able to say, "GO PLAY IN THE BACKYARD!" ??
Ryan is on the couch, watching something on the Disney channel encouraging kids to eat healthy foods. It's two or three minutes longs and comes on between shows. Cartoon kids are happily munching away, while they engage in various fun activities. The hero is "Captain Carlos: Guardian of good eating, and junk foods worst enemy."
"Ryan, whatcha watching?"
"Oh, it's sort of a commercial on the Disney channel, but it's a good commercial. It's teaching us stuff."
"What is it teaching you?"
[with grave seriousness] "It's all about how you should eat your vegetables. You know....because if you eat your spinach you'll be a good bowler. And also if you eat turkey sandwiches you'll be able to put up a tent in the woods when you're camping."
I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this, but one thing I've been dreading about our move is that we will lose our satellite TV and our DVR; the device on our TV that allows us to easily record and pause live TV. Since our home still hasn't sold and we'll be paying a mortgage plus apartment rent, we're scaling back wherever possible. DVR is a small pleasure, and one I can certainly do without, but I was a bit troubled that I would probably miss the TV show I watch faithfully, "LOST." With three kids it's impossible to watch anything on TV without interruption, so I always just record it and watch it when they are snoozing. We don't even own a VCR, so going back to old school recording wasn't an option.
I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I would just have to wean myself off the TV show, but then I discovered today I can watch full episodes online! Bless you abc.com.
The future looks good though, because I have a suspicion that when football season rolls around my husband will find it in the budget to once again pay for satellite and DVR...
(This wins as my most shallow posting thus far.)
Today after church (our last Sunday with our current church family! What an emotional morning!), three of my good friends came over and helped me pack. What a stinkin' blessing! They were packing machines. We got my entire kitchen boxed up...every picture/mirror/decorative item got wrapped and boxed...both the kids rooms are packed and DONE.
I told them that letting them see the war zone that lies behind my kitchen cabinet doors is akin to seeing me without makeup - an embarrassment that only my VERY good friends get to witness.
These three ladies that helped me pack are the Nursery Director, the Assistant Nursery Director, and the Three Year Old Teacher/All-Around go to gal for anything needed in Children's Ministry. They will be greatly missed, and there will soon be a home in Lubbock that will welcome them anytime they feel like a road trip.
Last night after dinner there was a crazy amount of food on the floor around Lauryn. (A result of letting a 1 year fed herself Taco Salad.)
Jonathan said: "Man, I wish we had a D - O - G to clean this up." [spelling out "dog", as to not remind the kids that we had just given ours away]
Ryan says: "D - O - G? What's that? Duh...aww....gg. Dog? You wish we had a dog?"
Our days of spelling out words are numbered. It's time to find a more sophisticated code language.
How is it possible for one couple to have accumulated so much stuff in nine years of marriage? I mean seriously, how many pillowcases does one couple need?
I have done some serious purging - if I haven't used it in a couple of years and it doesn't have sentimental value, it's out the door. Praise the Lord, one of the ministries at our church is having a garage sale fund-raiser this weekend. The timing couldn't be better. They are sending a truck to pick up all the stuff I'm donating. Hope they're prepared to make more than one trip.
Pictures from our recent trip to see family:
Lauryn discovered her baby doll isn't nearly as fun as a real baby! Cousin Connor was very gracious, allowing Lauryn to pop his pacifier in and out for a solid five minutes before finally getting a little irritated.
Papaw bought the kids the new Charlotte's Web movie, but Dylan didn't make it five minutes before crashing on the couch. Even when his brother pulled on his toes (with encouragement from Uncle Brian) he didn't wake up.
Double-teaming Uncle Michael. It will be several more years before they even come close to fending him off.
The boys went fishing on my Grandparent's boat dock, but Lauryn was satisfied to stay at the house and "fish" off the front porch.
Jonathan and I have lived in Dallas for 7 years and four months. We have come to love this city and think of it as home. We moved here as a couple of DINK's (double income no kids), and we are moving away from here as a family of five. Crazy.
We have fallen in love with Children since we've lived here. Not just our own, but also the ones we've ministered to (and who truly, have ministered to us). Indeed, the Lord has given us a new heart to love and encourage the smallest members (and sometimes most overlooked) in the family of God.
This week a report, published by the Children's Medical Center Dallas and The Coalition for North Texas Children, landed on my husbands desk at work. It's titled: Beyond ABC: Growing up in Dallas County. It is an 85 page report that details every aspect of growing up in Dallas. It includes details regarding Health, Economic Security, Education, and Safety.
Page 5 of the report gives a Summary of what the researchers consider the "Most Pressing Problems in Dallas County." Some examples:
More than 30,000 children have a serious mental or addictive disorder, and thousands go untreated.
Nearly half of DISD high school students report recent use of alcohol, 20 percent report recent use of marijuana.
More than 5,300 cases of sexually transmitted diseases were reported among young people under 19.
More than half of homeless people are women or children.
And estimated 30,000 Dallas County children experience hunger because of inadequate family resources.
More than 40 percent of students in the ninth grade do not remain enrolled in school through the 12th grade.
That is just a small sampling of the most pressing problems in Dallas County. That last statement blows me away. FORTY percent of ninth graders don't make it to twelfth grade? What is happening to those children? Why is this happening?
I am not sure why I feel compelled to share this information. Perhaps it is because I am prayerful that the seeds of God's word that we planted in kids while in Dallas will take deep root, and I hope you will join with me in that prayer. We are also hopeful that more and more people would begin to recognize the need all around them, and begin to invest themselves in the life of a child. How can kids maneuver through life without becoming a statistic? By the power of God. And by loving adults who will get to know children, and see the beauty in them.
The boys LOVE, LOVE, LOVE going to Oklahoma to visit family. The reasons are numerous, but one thing that's great is the abundance of Uncles (4) willing to wrestle, fish, play hide and seek, and just generally provide all kinds of rowdy fun.
At 17, Stephen is the youngest Uncle, and therefore still limber enough to act as a human amusement park.
As I mentioned in a previous post, we have been looking for a new home for Zack the dog. I am happy to report, he now has a wonderful new family. He had been adopted by my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Joy and Brian. Zack was welcomed to the family by his two new "sisters" Katie and Max(ine), canines. He also has a new little "brother", Connor, human.
Joy and Brian have had Zack for a little less than a week now, and they already love him dearly. (Or, they're just saying they already love him to make us feel good. Either way, I'm good with it.)
In our nine short years of marriage, this is the second dog that a family member has inherited. When we moved to Dallas and onto the campus of the Bible school Jonathan attended, no dogs were allowed. So my grandmother adopted Gracie, our miniature poodle. I'm sure that when we get settled in Lubbock and inevitably get another dog, our relatives will shake their heads and discuss among themselves who will eventually end up with our new pet. However, we are hopeful that we are finally in a place in our lives where our next pet can happily live out the length of it's days with us.
We just got back home last night from a trip to Oklahoma, where we visited family and deposited Zack with his new family. After only two meals, I have already realized I never gave that dog enough credit for how much he contributed to this family....I will be sweeping much more frequently now that Zack is not around to lap up the crumbs!
I noticed a cut on Jonathan's hand. I asked:
"Babe, why didn't you put a band-aid on that?"
"I looked for one, but all I could find were Clifford [the big red dog] ones."
[teasingly] "We had Spiderman band-aids too."
[seriously] "I know, I looked for those but couldn't find them."
[puzzled] "So you would wear Spiderman, but not Clifford?"
"Yeah. [pause] Shut up."
Since I posted the pictures of Connor with the "green bean face" a few days ago, I thought it was only fair that I should post some pictures of him when he's being his normal adorable self. I know I'm a proud Aunt and perhaps a little biased, but this kid is so beautiful...
Looks JUST like his Daddy! (Sorry Joy, but you know it's true.)
Lauryn's new thing is to crawl up on top of the kitchen table. Last week I sat her in her booster chair with a Ring Pop (sent along with other candy for Easter from her Aunt and Uncle - thanks Stephanie and Michael!). I went to get the camera to snap some pictures of the kids with their candy. When I came back to the kitchen she had crawled on top of the table. I didn't even say a word, but she popped out the candy and gave me this look, like "Are you seriously going to ruin this great time I'm having by making me get off the table?" Mom's can be such a drag.
Old habits die hard, but I'm hoping new habits can be acquired as well.
We have our home for sale, so we've been working to keep it looking presentable all the time. Now that we have decided to sell it "For Sale by Owner", we've had even more frequent showings with even less time to prepare.
Sunday mornings are a little stressful. Getting myself plus three kids ready for church, PLUS making sure the house is clean before we leave pushes the limits of what I am capable of. In the past on Sunday mornings, the house generally looked like a tornado had passed through. My strategy for getting ready for church had been to let the kids pull out as many toys as it took to keep them happy, so I could have a solid 20 minutes to "put my face on" as my Grandpa would say. (I suppose I could just wake up before they do and get ready, but that would be betraying all I hold dear. Namely, sleep.)
So now that I've been living in this new clean reality for a few weeks, I wonder if I can keep it up even after our house sells? I wonder if living this way for a month or so is enough to develop a habit of keeping my laundry under control? My husband can (and will) continue to pray.
Our church had a Good Friday celebration this evening, and our four year old son went with us to the service. During a song performed by a trio, a gentlemen in the pew in front of us raised his hand, celebrating and agreeing with the lyrics. Ryan studied him for a while and finally asked his Dad, "Does that man need something? He has his hand raised."
My nephew Connor is the most adorable baby you could ever hope to meet. Not only is he precious and sweet to look at, he also has a wonderful little temperament. He is all smiles and giggles.
Well...all smiles and giggles until his mom presented him with baby food green beans for the first time...
Who knew that such a sweet little face could communicate such displeasure? And if this is the look he gives for green beans, I wonder what he'll do when forced to consume spinach? In my mind, baby food spinach is infinitely worse. Sorry Connor, but there are worse flavors yet to come.
While Ryan was trying to tell me something today, (actually he was trying to talk me into giving him some pudding), Dylan interrupted him to ask me for some pudding as well.
Ryan: Dylan! I'm talking to mommy! Don't easter-rupt me!
Dylan: [looking at him quizzically] Huh?
Ryan: Don't easter-rupt me!
Me: Ryan, what are you saying?
Ryan: You know...like when you are on the phone and you say 'Don't easter-rupt me when I'm on the phone.' I don't want Dylan to easter-rupt me when I'm talking to you.
Last night me and the boys were playing Chutes and Ladders, the Dora edition. Good times at the Cliff house. I was nearing square 100, already boasting in my victory, when I landed on a "chute square" and had to slide all the way back down to the beginning. Dylan sort of laughed at me, excited that now the game could continue longer, but Ryan just slowly shook his head and somberly said:
"Oh man. That's rough."
That's rough? Where does he get this stuff? Cracked me up.
For the past hour, The Flight of the Navigator has been playing on our TV. The boys are in bed, but my 31 year old husband is watching with rapt attention. It must bring up happy memories from his childhood, for I can think of no other reason to voluntarily sit through this movie.