Sunday, February 27, 2011


This weekend, I experienced a lot of firsts: first girls trip with my aunts, mom, and granny; first trip to Vegas, first slot machine (I did not gamble much; I don't like throwing money away); first Vegas show, first time I came home to a wonderfully clean home thanks to my hubby!

Here's how it went down:
On Thursday, I left school early and headed out of town with my mom. On Friday, she turned 50! I am so grateful for the opportunity to celebrate with her; she is a wonderful mom and friend.
In the airport on our way to Vegas

We got in late Thursday night. My aunts and granny picked us up from the airport and we drove
along the strip. While I enjoyed the city life, I would not want to live there and I did not enjoy how much they objectified women. Despite that fact, I had a GREAT time! We got to our hotel room which is a fun little story in itself. My aunt booked the room on craigslist (who knew you could do that and it be safe?!?). We were staying in the Jockey Club (how many of you have ever heard of that before?). The Jockey Club is a little hotel room in between the giant Cosmopolitan. I know the picture is a little hard to see, but the Jockey club is the bright lights down below (this is the top of the building) and the bright lights above is the Cosmopolitan. Anyway, the Cosmopolitan opened two months ago and it is beautiful inside. We had to find a little sign that said Jockey Club, enter in a parking garage that had barricades everywhere because of construction and enter the Jockey Club. Fortunately, it was really nice inside. Perfect for a group of 5 and fairly cheap per night. It was a suite with two bedrooms (3 beds) and two baths with a kitchenette.

Back to Thursday night, we went along the strip and then went to the Jockey Club. We played 31 together, had a cocktail, ordered a pizza, and just hung out together. I really enjoyed getting to relax and be with the girls.

Friday, we woke up, had some coffee cake, and then headed out along the strip. Our first stop was the Bellagio. It was beautiful! We walked around the gardens, toured the bakery, saw the pools, and took in all the intricate details.

When we entered the hotel, there was this huge horse. I told my mom we had to take a picture in front of the golden horse in honor of her golden birthday!

This is the ceiling of the Bellagio lobby. Beautiful glass, right!
The bunny was in the Bellagio... they had beautiful gardens. It is in honor of the year of the rabbit.
The worlds largest chocolate fountain!

After that, we headed to New York, New York. This looked so neat from the outside, but it was really windy!
My mom, aunts, and granny are on the steps at the bottom of the picture!

My mom with her lucky 50 glasses on at New York, New York!

We left and continued walking along the strip. We stopped and had
Fatburger for lunch. It was
really yummy. I also saw the largest motorcycle coming out of a Harley Davidson store. I took a picture of it for my dad.

After some walking, we went back to the Jockey Club and had some birthday cake. Then, we had a wedding to go to! This was the show: Tony and Tina's wedding. It was really funny and I even got to lead my first conga line! The groom even danced with my granny... I think this made the bride mad! ;)

On our last day there (Saturday), we visited the Venetian, Palazzo, and Wynn. It was very interesting to see how the gondola ran through the Venetian. We also had lunch there and did a little shopping. I found a $.79 shirt in a souvenir shop inside the Venetian. That was my big win of the weekend!

Overall, it was a beautiful weekend celebrating the life of a beautiful mother and friend. I love you Cathy Kemberling and am so happy and blessed to call you mom!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

busy, busy, busy...

Busy is the watchword.

While this weekend was quite wonderful, it was still quite busy. A lot of planning and preparation went into the festivities. Monday was a staff development day. I was not quite prepared to jump right back into the work week, but I did anyway. Knowing that I was going to take a half day today and a full day off tomorrow, I pushed myself really hard this week. Not only did I need to prepare all the details of my lessons for this week, but I also only had half the week to prepare for next week. Since I am going out of town for my mom's 50th, I feel like I can't rely on this weekend to get things done.

This past weekend, we decided to go on an Alaskan cruise this summer with all of J's family. I am really excited but was nervous about the lack of winter clothes I had in my closet that do not look tattered and worn after this cold winter. So... I knew Monday was my only spare night to get some winter shopping done when clothes were on sale. I knew if I waited, it would be slim pickings. We went to Kohls and I found some great deals. I bought a short-sleeve top, a sweater, a light athletic jacket, a coat, a cardigan, a scarf, and a necklace all for around $98. I saved over $285. I love deals.

On Tuesday, we has small group at our house. I stayed a little after work to input some lessons and do "teacher stuff". When I arrived home, J and I began cleaning and cooking. The Nicholsons came by early to talk to us about future plans. It was a wonderful moment of rest in the midst of a crazy day. When other people started arriving, I knew it was back to work and I began playing hostess while trying to prepare little surprises for my mom's 50th. Around 9:45, people headed home and I kept on working.

Then Wednesday rolled around... I had the most productive planning period EVER! I input all my reading lessons for next week, I printed out papers for my class, I got scantrons for their test, I got my sub plans together... I just maximized every minute. That evening, I began hitting my figurative wall. I made J one of his favorites dinners. It is this Chinese dish with broccoli. After that, we met a Turkish family for dessert at Baklava Cafe. It was very enjoyable.

I am really grateful for a new family friend. Justin has been meeting many new people lately but many of the men he meets are not married; it is a joy for there to be a family that we can both go visit.
...finish sidenote...

After that, I had to pull together my gifts for my mom. It all came together just in time. Around 11, I crashed. And at 5:30... the alarm beckoned me to begin once again.

I snoozed for a good 45 minutes, but finally had to pull myself out of bed because I had a meeting at school at 7:30. And here I am... at home... waiting for my mom so we can go to the airport. I am pretty tired. May this mini-vacation be restful enough to pull through two more weeks until spring break.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Weekend Update

Sometimes I sit down to write with nothing to write about but just a desire to write. Other times, I have a ton to write and no time to sit and write it all down. Well, this is more of the latter. This weekend was a wonderful weekend. I don't want to forget all that happened because it was very special indeed.

Friday: We had a full house. It was wonderful. We told Justin's parents that we wanted to spend the evening with Lizzy and Caitlin. Everyone was in on the birthday surprise for J's parents except for Lizzy. We had a wonderful Chick Fil A dinner with Lizzy and then Caitlin and Mark joined us. Before we knew it, it was time to pick up the biggest surprise... Eric and Amy! Lizzy had no idea! Everyone came back to our house to spend the night.

Saturday: the day of the big, surprise party for J's parent's 50th!
The girls woke up and began running errands picking up last minute items for the party. We had a wonderful lunch at none other than Chick Fil A. I really love J's family. After this we ran up to the Cypress area and began decorating.

The centerpieces: tissue paper flowers, dove chocolates (Julie's favorite), Maple Nut Goodies and twizzlers (Vince's favorites).

We had a few close calls with J's parents, but they remained completely out of the loop. The anxiety was building in the 5 to 6 o'clock hour. Finally, they arrived... boy, were they surprised!
SIDENOTE: Lizzy made the birthday banner in the back and did a great job! A few of my favorite thoughts on it are: "Your an old cupel.", "Your old geezzers!", "Were Selabating!", "Your old really fifty years old.", and "Your weird." So cute... I love it!

After the party, we went to the Elder household and spent time together as a family. It felt like Christmas all over again which made Monday came WAY too soon.

Sunday: We went to RCF and had leftovers from the party with the family.

Overall, the weekend was beautiful, refreshing, and encouraging. I loved every minute of it! Happy birthday Julie and Vince!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday Reflections

This morning I read a friend's blog. This woman was my mentor my sophomore year of college. When I think of her, I think intentional, wise, discerning, adventurous, content, free.

Even though it has been years since I have seen Liza Sharp, she still encourages me.

After reflecting on who Liza is in my life, I thought back to my sophomore year of college when she mentored me. That year was one of the most beautiful years of my life... there was healing, wisdom, contentedness, joy, celebration, community, prayer, and so much more.

At the time, I was single and loving being single. I shared life closely and openly with a dear group of girlfriends who I still consider some of my closest friends. My room was ALWAYS a mess and I NEVER watched TV. I was only in my room to sleep and I had a ton on my plate. But... I prayed and studied more than I ever have. If I look back, I know I was walking with God.

The past couple of weeks, my husband and I have been hungry to hear from the Lord. We desperately need guidance and discernment. We are calling on Him but don't know if it is His voice or our emotions. After reflecting on that beautiful year in college, I think my answer for today is to live the questions. To live intentionally, quietly, celebratory, and wait upon the Lord. I need to hold the future with open hands and just live today for that is all that I have really been given.

Thank you Lord for new perspective.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

celebrations of late...

The past couple of days have been full of celebrations.

On Friday night, I got a call from one of my best girl friends saying that she was engaged. Congrats Ashley!!!

On Sunday, my family gathered at Dave and Busters to celebrate my mom's 50th birthday, my brother's 32nd birthday, and my brother-in-law's 40th birthday! I love every opportunity that I get to spend with my family. They are a gift that I never want to take advantage of. I got to play a horse racing game with Addie... she can be SO much fun! I love that little girl. She also has a sassy side. On Sunday, she was asking her Doda (my mom) a question, and I asked, "What do you want?" Her response was, "I am not talking to you, I was talking to Doda." And Brody... he is growing so much! His personality is really starting to shine... I can't wait to watch him grow up!

Then, it was Valentine's Day. My hubby and I have never really fallen into the commercial aspect of the day. He might buy me a potted tulip (which usually dies because of my brown thumb) and write me some sweet notes.

Yesterday, we decided that gifts were not important but spending time intentionally together was. I woke early and surprised him with breakfast taquitos in bed. Then, I made him a yummy steak with mashed potatoes, mac 'n cheese, and green beans. It sure was yummy. While I made dinner, my hubby got my a diet coke with vanilla which I rarely let myself have, but I was really craving one. The hubby also surprised with some chocolate covered strawberries and a little plant that he said was very hardy (I hope for the best). We took a long walk and talked and just enjoyed one another's company. I really love that man; he is my best friend. He is good for me. Happy Valentine's Day beloved!

Overall, it was a beautiful time of celebration! I am so excited about Vegas with my mom for her 50th! Let's continue to bring on the good times!

Monday, February 7, 2011

in need of grace.

i have tried to do it on my own. i have thought about how i will get through... how i will face my fears... how i will be open... on my own. i have not felt the stir of God in a while. i have felt a little alone; i have searched and all the while, i am sure He was right with me... waiting.

here i am again... realizing something.

I need grace. I need Christ.

instead of feeling, i have numbed myself with media... with teaching responsibilities... with chores... with my sin.

the past two days, i have been reminded how black my heart is (thank you Lord for your revelation). and standing at the stove tonight, i felt utter helplessness wondering how i was ever going to get close to God again. and then i realized something.

I need grace. I need Christ.

for surely, i cannot do this on my own. i cannot bring myself back into His presence, but he can... only by His grace.

and then, i knew that He had always been there.

"I have only one question to ask you. Think back over those times when you have talked with your friends, and with your family. Think back over the times you have accepted people who have come to argue. Have you felt My Presence during those visits?" "Yes, Lord. Yes, indeed I have." "My glory was there?" "Yes Lord." "Then that's all you need. It is so often this way with friends. And family. The results are not your problem. All you have to worry about is obedience. Seek My Presence, not results."

I perhaps should not even wonder about results. The only thing that did matter to me was obedience. If the Lord asked me to talk to these people, then that is what I should do...
I Dared to Call Him Father

Sunday, February 6, 2011

a saturday in...

Well... it was technically not ALL in because we went to Chick Fil A. My husband and I enjoy going out to eat but I don't let us very often because it is too expensive. When we want to go we usually choose Chick Fil A. We are both creatures of habit and the employees at our Chick Fil A are realizing it too. I think we are crossing the bridge of becoming "regulars". That has never really happened to me before with maybe the exception of a Mexican food restaurant at home or the Whataburger after Sunday church in El Campo.

After Chick Fil A, we read some together. This book is beautifully written. I feel caught up in her words. It is a beautiful tale of the Spirit's movement so far.

Then, I challenged my hubby to a game of Scrabble. We played a lot over our second anniversary weekend, and I beat the hubs almost every game we played. Since he played the iPhone app awhile ago, he has gotten significantly better. I must admit, I thought I had the game in the bag at the beginning. I was really putting up some big numbers but Justin slowly started coming back. It came down to the last play. Justin got rid of all of his tiles. Had he not have found that last move, I would have won for sure because I had a big pointer left in my hand. Besides losing, it was a great game.

We settled in to watch 500 Days of Summer as I drifted off to sleep in my husband's arms. It was a great evening. We rarely get to relax like we did last night. I am a grateful woman for so many things... as I awoke this morning, I am especially grateful for my husband.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Financial Stewardship

Beginning in January, I really tried to crack down on our budget. I wanted to make sure that we were being good stewards of our money. Since I started working full time, we have had a lot of extra money with the intention of saving. We know that children (Lord willing) are in our future and we want to prepare for them, especially because I really don't want to work outside of the home when I become a mom.

So... I have been really proud of myself lately with how we are financially stewarding our money. I started a cash system for groceries and going out to eat. I allot about $60 a week in grocery money, but this week I only spend $45. Before I hit the grocery store, I look at what is on sale in the ads and what I have in my cabinets. I then find recipes that use those items (on sale and in my house.) Another must before hitting the store is syncing my schedule with my hubby's. If he is only going to be home two or three nights a week, then I know that I only need to make two or three larger meals and I can eat leftovers. Also, I usually cook for about four people with the exception of Tuesday night small group when I prepare for around 15-20. The extra food rarely goes to waste as it becomes our lunches or dinner.

So... this week on the menu, we have:
- Homemade Basil Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
- Baked Spaghetti (Tuesday night small group meal)
- Spicy Garlic Chinese Chicken with Broccoli
- Baked Potatoes with BBQ Chicken
- If I need another meal, I have everything here to make turkey burgers and homemade french fries.

The $45 not only bought the ingredients for these meals but also what I needed to make a seven layer dip and cookies for our church's Super Bowl party tomorrow!

Justin and I usually go out to Chick Fil A once during the week, and we have a brunch date on the weekend.

It takes a lot of work and at times can be difficult and confusing, but I feel really good about how we are choosing to steward what God has given us. Praise Him!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


It has been freezing all day... literally!

I made it outside during recess today, but I was really bundled. I wish I would have taken a picture thinking of it. While I hate the cold, I really felt like today was a bonding day with my students. They were so excited to find chunks of ice on the playground... and deep down inside, I was excited too. I don't know if I will be able to contain my excitement if it snows!

When I found out it was going to get cold again (and... really cold at that), I almost cried, but this cold weather has really been a blessing in many ways.

Happy Snow Day!