Friday, June 27, 2008

Many reasons to love living in Texas...

I've got to say that other than dealing with the unbearable heat of the summer, it sure is nice to be back in Texas. Ok, so the scenery is not nearly as beautiful here as it is Pennsylvania, but the people sure are friendlier and the customer service is SO much better down here! What's funny is that I was born, raised, and went to college in Pennsylvania, so you'd think that I wouldn't have culture shock returning home. But I am always stunned at how rude people are in public and how unhelpful people are in grocery stores and whatnot whenever we go back to PA. Nobody waves hello from their cars or around the neighborhoods, people just look down as they walk past, nobody asks me if I'm finding everything alright in the store or if I need any help out to my car (heck, I had to bag my own groceries), if you ask someone for help they act like you're bothering them, and if the cashier starts talking, it's usually to another teenager across the aisle and not to you. I chuckled to myself as I read the standard note below one cashier's name tag which said, "I'm here to help you!" I wanted to ask, "But are you really?" I mean, really?!?

John and I noticed the service get better and the people get friendlier at every stop the farther south we drove on our way back to Texas. People start talking to you about just anything at gas stations, everyone from truck drivers to cashiers will coo at your babies and talk to your children, and customer service sounds more like, "Are you findin' everything alright?", "Is there anything else I can get you?", "Here, let me get that door for you.", "Y'all have a good day, now.", and, of course, "Y'all come back!" And yes, even the teenager cashiers and baggers will ask you these questions and help you and your children out to your car. I remember getting nutritional advice from the butcher at Albertson's when he noticed that I was pregnant. I asked him to help me find the ham hocks, and when he showed them to me he stopped and said, "You're making that dozen bean soup, aren't ya?...What you really need are these pork bones because they're much tastier, they've got more meat on 'em, and you need to be eatin' your protein." I found the whole conversation very endearing.

Yes, I've seen the joke lists of "you know you're from Texas if..."
- you pick your parking spot based on shade instead of distance
- you've ever burned your hand on your car door handle
- you start your car to cool it down instead of to warm it up
and on the list goes joking about the heat. All very true, but another equally true one that I've come to appreciate is, you know you're from Texas if you wave to people you don't know from your car. I remember the first time I came to Texas and John waved to someone as we drove out of his neighborhood. I asked, "Who was that?" and he said, "I don't know." "Then why did you wave to him?" "Because that's what you do."

Ha! Not where I come from! But after living in Texas for 8 years now, I wave and smile to perfect strangers without even thinking of it. So maybe it's hotter than a firecracker down here, but at least we can talk about it with the people in line at the store or the pharmacist, who will probably recommend a good sunscreen and then tell us to stay cool.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sisterly love and fun...

While I was in the kitchen scurrying around to get lunch together after a full morning at VBS, the kids were happily playing around the house. I could hear Hannah and Sarah giggling in the family room, so I walked over to see what they were doing. I found Sarah holding Hannah in the little rocking chair and both thoroughly enjoying it. So of course, I grabbed my camera and now have to post the pictures because they're just too cute not to share.

Hannah, as you can see, is loving every minute of this.

You may recall an earlier post of both girls sitting side by side in this little rocking chair. They're both a little too big for that now.

The proud big sister just lounging back in the chair.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Our 8th anniversary...oops!

We've been a little silent on the blogosphere since we've been home from vacation. This is probably because we came home, unpacked and essentially hit the ground running. We got home late on a Friday night, and then Saturday was spent unpacking and getting our house in order so that Sunday, we could host one of our favorite missionaries (Dan Iverson - Japan) who was preaching that Sunday and spending the night at our house. We probably should have let someone else in the church host him considering the circumstances, but we insisted on hosting him because we wanted the extra time with him...and we had a wonderful visit with him, as usual. Then our denomination's General Assembly was the following week, where all of the pastors and ruling elders in the PCA gathered in Dallas. Then the next week (THIS week), was our church's vacation Bible school (VBS), where I've had to get all 3 of my kiddos up to the church every day by 9:00a.m. and where I've been in charge of teaching the Bible story to the 3rd through 5th graders. It has been a lot of fun, but pretty exhausting as you can imagine.

This hectic pace from vacation until now is probably the reason why John and I both forgot our 8th anniversary yesterday!! What's funny is that yesterday morning, John turned on the computer and I asked him to check my email before I ran off to VBS. While he was pulling up my email, we both saw a notification from my facebook calendar that today was our anniversary! We simultaneously let out a slight gasp, looked at each other and said, "Uh...happy anniversary!" Where would we be without our facebook birthday/anniversary calendar?? Gotta love technology...

These are not our professional pics, but a couple of the only digital ones that I have from one of my bridesmaids. After John got home from a pretty busy day at work, we ate a normal dinner, got the kids in bed early and then spent the remainder of the evening reflecting on the last 8 years of our marriage - how MUCH has happened, how far we've come, and in what ways we need to grow. What's funny is that this isn't the first time we've forgotten our anniversary! Believe it or not, we BOTH forgot our 1st anniversary for the same reasons! We had just gotten back from vacation, John had just been installed as senior pastor at Trinity, we were in the process of packing, moving and, in the meantime, commuting from Dallas, and our anniversary fell on Father's Day, which is a Sunday...a day that John had to get up and preach. So it wasn't until one of my in laws came over to me and whispered, "Happy anniversary" that I nearly fell over. John said that he remembered right in the middle of his sermon. We always joked that it would be really easy for us to remember how many years we've been married since we got married in the year 2000. Now if we could only remember the date!

Here we are, walking happily down the aisle...finally able to relax and enjoy the moment! The pastors who married us (look behind us) were Peter Lillback and Michael Easley.

Here is our bridal party. My matron of honor was my sister, Melanie, and my bridesmaids were Hien Nguyen-Le (my best friend from college), Lillian Campbell (a dear friend who went home to be with the Lord a little over a year after this picture was taken), Lizabeth Swayne (a dear friend of mine from Proclamation PCA in Bryn Mawr, PA who is now with RUF), and Kim Starr (one of my neighbors with whom I became very good friends). John's best man was Joe Gage (his best friend from college and now one of the ruling elders in our church!), and his groomsmen were Mike Emlet (one of his roommates from Westminster and now a counselor with CCEF), Jake Yohannan (another great friend from seminary who became one of our church's associate pastors and has now gone on to plant a church in northern NJ), Claude Taylor (another great friend from seminary who is now the pastor of an OPC church in NJ), and Rick Shurtz (a great friend from Baylor U. who is now an assistant pastor at Gateway church in Austin, TX).

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Finally HOME...

After 1 month in Pennsylvania and 2 VERY long days in the van (traveling through PA, MD, W.Va, VA, TN, AR, and finally TX), we are finally HOME in the great state of Texas. As soon as we crossed the state line from Arkansas into Texas, we all broke out into song - "The stars at NIGHT, are big and BRIGHT (clap clap clap clap) deep in the heeaaaarrrt of Texas!" There was much rejoicing, and yet we still had 3 hours of driving left before we reached our front door at 10p.m. (CST). The kids were troopers and all did very well on the long drive, but we were all very relieved to walk into our own house, bathe in our own tubs and sleep in our own beds last night.

Hannah was very eager to help Mommy unpack today.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Picnic in Valley Forge...

I cannot tell you how many times I've been to Valley Forge, either as a mock tour guide for out-of-town family or friends or simply for pleasure. The place never gets 'old' to me and I always enjoy taking walks out there. I used to do a LOT of running there, but not so much these days unless it involves running after my children...

Yesterday we took advantage of the near-perfect weather to have a picnic under the shade of the many trees surrounding the arch. We kind of decided to do this at the last minute, so we just made a bunch of pb&j sandwiches, packed some snacks we had around the house, loaded the cooler with drinks, grabbed some blankets, and piled into the van. The park is only about 10 minutes from my mom's house, so it made for one of those incredibly simple, no-fuss outings that turned out to be one of our most enjoyable and relaxing!

Here is my mom (Paw Paw) and Sarah thoroughly enjoying their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

The best way to contain a highly mobile baby on a picnic is by putting her in a booster chair with an attached tray. As long as we supplied her with food and drink, Hannah was perfectly content to sit here while the rest of us ate.

Christopher and Sarah thought it would be fun to climb on Daddy, who thought he'd try and relax by sprawling out on the picnic blankets. No such luck...

Even after the kids ran off to play, Hannah was happily munching on goldfish, raisins, or whatever else we put in front of her.

Inspired by the cabins that are set up in various places all throughout the park, Christopher and Sarah began to build one of their own.

Christopher points out the windows that he put into the cabin.

And here is the finished product!