Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Texas Beginnings – July to September 2011

It is the middle of September and I found myself sitting quietly in my brown leather chair. It’s tricky for me to find those moments. The kids are both fighting colds so I canceled school today. They’re working on a new puzzle Caleb got for his birthday yesterday. So I had a few quiet moments to pray and listen to the Lord. And I was surprised by what He told me. He saved us! He sent us to Texas, in His perfect timing, to avert financial disaster for our family. He got us out in time! Our business would have hit hard times and we wouldn’t have been able to pay our rent. We would have become desperate suddenly. He saved us from disaster by moving us to Texas, and I wasn’t even aware of it. And not only that, but He started us on a new path to breathe life into our family and begin a new career path that would enliven Jon and provide more financial security, now and for the future. What if we hadn’t listened?!? What if we hadn’t obeyed the Lord immediately?!? How can God save us if we don’t listen and obey?

I really thought that obeying God and moving here was just about walking Jon through having desires and hopes and reaching for them; about learning how to live. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that God was saving us from disaster! I’m so thankful and feeling a bit overwhelmed with the goodness of our Lord. I would have never even known what we were spared had the Lord not shared that with me. How awesome is our God!!!

July was a crazy month. Jeremy, Julie, and their 3 kids arrived around midnight our first day here, after we unloaded our moving truck. It was chaos, stuff everywhere. Julie was a huge help to me! She took care of cooking duties so I could focus on unpacking. That was huge for me! And she helped unpack so much! Thank you Sister!!!!!! Jeremy was traveling all over playing shows. A few were more local and Jon played with him, along with some of our new neighbors. The kids got to really get to know each other, which was so needed. That’s the downside to family living in Kauai, you don’t get to see them as often as you would like.

Right off the bat being here I was invited to a Mary Kay party at one neighbor’s house. Another neighbor invited me to a girl’s night birthday celebrate in town. A few weeks after moving in we had a fun Mexican food night. One of my new friends decided she wanted to cook with me, so the girls took me to the grocery stores and we cooked together. Then we had a Mexican food party, played games, and had a great night. It feels good and normal to have a full house of friends. Yay! It was a nice way to break in the house.

Cousin Aaron came for a visit and took us hiking around the woods we live in. He is really good at identifying all the plants, animals, and evidence of animals out there. It was fun; hot, but fun!

My cousin Kara came for a visit and it was so nice to see her. Years seem to pass between visits. I’m glad I live so much closer to her now! We’ll get to do holidays together even! She and I had a nice girl’s day in town. We got pedicures (in massage chairs – the best!), shopped for jeans at the consignment shop, and caught up on life. I really needed that girl’s day. She got the kids gift cards to the toy store and made cake balls (cake in bite size form, rolled in chocolate) with the kids. It was a very merry un-birthday for them and they loved it!

September is our first month here in Texas of regular life and daily routines. We’ve been fighting cold after cold after cold, especially the kids. We’re just getting used to a new set of bugs and I’m sure we’ll develop immunity after awhile. Our house is functional enough to live in, although we have many corners filled with stacks of boxes and toys overflowing. We’re close to getting the boys rooms done and then the toys will have homes again, instead of being and endless messy pile that engulfs the entrance way into the house. We’ve got moulding up and painted. The bunk beds are almost done being built and are about ready to be painted. We plan to make a little stage in the room for the kids drum set that will have storage space underneath for toys. We also plan to build a wardrobe for the room since we had to knock out the closet to make enough room for their beds. It will be a really fun room when we’re done.

We’ve been enjoying our neighbors and getting to know them better. We’ve gone swimming, had BBQ’s, had date nights/babysitting trades, and the boys have gone fishing. Jon even canoed down a local river with our neighbor Justin. He took his gun because apparently there are alligators in the river. Ahhhh! No sightings though, so that’s good (if there were any sightings, Jon wisely didn’t tell me, so I’m at least under the impression they didn’t see any). We went to a get-together to watch the first game of the college football season. This town goes into crazy football frenzy mode! Just part of our new Texas life; Might as well embrace the culture :) I’m so thankful for our friends here welcoming us into their lives, including us, and making us feel at home. The Ruschs, Hamiters, Ericksons, VonGontens, & Rhodes rock!!!

The more things have started falling back into place, the more peace I feel. I’ve gotten back into the habit of cooking weeknights, except Tuesdays. Tuesdays are our go into town, deposit Jon’s paycheck, eat dinner out, and do our grocery shopping nights. I hadn’t been able to wrap by brain around cooking while our house was in chaos with unpacking and company and all. But we’re feeling much more settled, in routine, and peaceful. Right now I am on a quest to recreate Trader Joe's Chimichurri Rice. It used to be a staple in my freezer, but now I don't live by my beloved Trader Joes. I found a recipe online that will at least start me off in the right direction. I even ordered a 1 lb. bag of dried Peruvian aji panca chiles to give me the best chance at an authentic taste.

I’ve really been enjoying school with the kids. I was a little intimidated by the idea of homeschooling two kids at the same time. I thought that it would be a big process with a lot of readjusting and tweaking to make it work. I was so wrong. I did no preparation. I hadn’t even cracked open Ben’s books to see what they were like. I had no plan. I didn’t have the time or brain space up till then. I was just trying to get through our move and getting settled. I just jumped right in on our first day of schooling. I opened all the books. I made a schedule and a strategy. And, thank the Lord, it worked beautifully! We had a very successful 1st month of homeschooling 2 kids!!! I was thrilled it went so smoothly! We were organized and we had fun. Ben and I still are really enjoying learning his letters and reading books together. We've been playing all kinds of games to help lock the letter names into his brain. I'm really cherishing this time with him. There's something especially sweet about this stage. I have lots of fond memories of Caleb at this stage too :)

Caleb’s 10th birthday has been great. It started off slightly bittersweet. Both kids woke up a bit sick and he was missing his friends more than usual because of his birthday. He wasn’t really up for a birthday party because of that. We all got up early so Jon could make Caleb a special birthday breakfast and so he could open his presents. It was a nice time. We laid low most of the day because the kids were fighting little colds. Our neighbors asked Caleb over so they could give him a present. Legos and a singing card! It made him feel really cared about. Thanks Rusch Family! Then we went out to dinner at Caleb’s choice, Chuy’s, a Mexican restaurant. We let him open all the cards he’d received. He kept getting more birthday love and money as he opened each card. Thanks everyone! That was really special and meant so much to Caleb! He felt loved! He has been saving for about 2 years for a Lego Mindstorm, which is a toy that incorporates robotics and computer programming with Legos. It is $300 at the toy store and, before the birthday money he got for his birthday, he was halfway there. He was thankful that he was getting closer to his goal. And then he opened up the last card from Grandpa Artie and Grandma Cheryl. He admired the card for quite awhile. Grandma Cheryl is really good at making special cards. It even had a picture of the Mindstorm in it. Then Caleb found the check folded up in a slot in the card. There was enough money to put him well over the amount he needed! His mouth fell wide open. He was stunned; frozen in shock! We could see his wheels turning as it slowly began sinking in…he would finally be able to buy his Mindstorm after 2 years of hard work doing chores to earn money, careful saving, and lots of patience!!! We had seen one at Toys R Us, which is where we headed directly after dinner. He didn’t even want to order birthday dessert because he was too amped about getting his toy. To our disappointment, Toys R Us no longer had any in stock. But it was okay, he was a trooper, and we ordered it on Amazon from my phone as soon as we walked out of the store. He saved at least $40 by ordering in on Amazon. We got it for $270 plus a great book that will teach him how to use the toy for another $19, no tax and no shipping fees. Yay! We topped the night off with frozen yogurt and thank you calls to the Grandparents.

We decided a special family day was in order for Saturday in lieu of a birthday party. Caleb was too sick for any of our plans though, so we played Monopoly, watched SpongeBob, and made birthday cupcakes.

Just a few days ago the boys and I were sitting in the living room about ready to home school. Suddenly there was a wonderful display of birds out our front window. I’m really thankful for the big picture window that takes up quite of bit of our living room wall. We’ll have to get a good bird identification book. We’re pretty sure we saw a blue jay, a cardinal, and 2 or 3 other species. They were flying, perching, playing in the bird bath, and sharing their different bird sounds with us. It was spectacular! I haven’t witnessed anything quite like it since we’ve moved here. It was just a really special moment that captivated our attention. I’m really enjoying the nature of where we live. It’s impossible not to see life all around you here. We constantly see deer families (there’s probably a correct term for that), squirrels, and a variety of birds. Our first few weeks here were filled with the evening sounds of the cicadas. That was cool. But it wasn’t cool that they would bash themselves towards any light source, so trying to get into the front door at night was pretty freaky. Those cicadas are very large and very strong as they thrash and bash themselves around the porch light and front door. And there are so many of them. But that only lasted for a short time. I guess the cicada season is short. There’s so much for us to learn about the new environment we live in; plants, animals, and the ever changing weather. It’s almost impossible for me to not start singing praise songs to the Lord walking the quarter mile walk to the mail box. I like that.

Below is Caleb’s poem for one of his weekly writing assignments.

I Want to Invent a Machine

I want to invent a machine…
That can fly.
I want to invent a machine…
That can jump high.

I want to invent a machine…
That can run.
I want to invent a machine…
With a tongue.

I want to invent a machine…
That won’t lie.
I want to invent a machine…
That won’t die.

I want to invent a machine…
Who has a lot of fun.
I want to invent a machine…
Who gets my homework done.