Tuesday, August 19, 2014

After 9 Months in Texas, We Are Off...

to New Jersey! 

(Some folks down here don't actually know where Jersey is located. Gosh, I love Texas!)

We just found out that Michael's next assignment begins on September 1st in Woodbridge Township, NJ. Quite the change from our tour of Texas. We are excited for many reasons but mostly because this move puts us in close proximity to sooo many people we love and can't wait to see. We really don't know anything else at this point. We aren't even sure how we're getting there. Or where we're living. But it'll be fun and we'll make some more memories!

I can already taste the fancy food of NYC, see the pretty Jersey Shore sunsets, and imagine changing up my limited 4 shirt wardrobe by adding colorful scarfs. I also fully anticipate missing Texas. North Texas. I would love to have lived in Austin or Houston for a little while too, but at least I know we could be happy in Dallas.

I don't even know where to begin to catch you up on the last several months here in Plano so maybe I'll leave you with a video: A glimpse of a bedtime dance party on a yoga mat that's never once been used for yoga with giggles, tears, half-braided pigtails, no pants and frightening awesome dance moves by Michael

Friday, June 6, 2014

There are a lot of changes going on in our surrounding worlds. Sometimes it's overwhelming to think about but other times it is such a good reminder that nothing is permanent and it can be unhealthy to hold so tightly to earthly things. Here are some highlights, good and bad, from this past week:

1. On Tuesday night I got word that one of my closest friend's father suddenly passed away. It is devastating. This shouldn't happen to us yet. My heart is aching to be with her but there was no way to get me home for the weekend. I know he went to be with our Heavenly Father but there is so much sadness still on this side of eternity.

2. On a lighter, happier note, Brooks is growing up so fast. He is really showing his smarts - he seems to understand us more, dances, claps and plays the piano, he tries taking steps to walk, he imitates noises I make at him, and he screams oh-so-loud at night when he wants me. Some day I will sleep through the night again.

3. Michael and I celebrated our 7th Wedding Anniversary on Monday, June 2nd! We went to dinner last night just the two of us and it was glorious! Oh and Michael totally spoiled me and is giving me a trip to a spa out here. Fancy.

See? No kids in the car!

We had a lovely, precious time together and I ate more than I have in three years. I think having kids in a restaurant is better for my health.

4. We finally made it out to the Perot Museum and it is fantastic! Actually, so fantastic that we got a membership. Should have done that back in February, now we'll probably move in July. 

5. My parents put their house on the market this week in preparation for a total life change! It's exciting and scary and happy and sad all at the same time. I can write more on this later but I'm sure it will come out in other future posts as their life continues to change as well. 

A little over a week until my youngest sister flies out to visit us for a couple weeks! I simply cannot wait to have her company, share fun memories with her and have some help playing with the babies together. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Plano, TX for June

Got the word a week ago that we are staying right here in Plano, TX for the month of June. Same store, same apartment, same town - this makes the 5th month in a row. The consistency has been great for Michael in the store and for the kids at home. I'd be open to a little more change (as in a little closer to y'all back east) but I am so thankful we are getting to stay in a place like Dallas. I really do love it here.

Here are some picture updates of things we've done in the past month and a half:

Went to a Ranger's game in the Chick-fil-A suite with our other IM friend's in the DFW area

Sweet Grayson is the son of our friends Steven and Chrissy. Carmen loves hanging out with him.

We've been going out to dinner a lot more than we should but the evenings are just so pretty here and there are restaurants with patios all over the place. We love to find places where Carmen can have dinner entertainment so that Michael and I can catch up over the meal. In this case, it's dirt:

Michael's good friend in the IM Program, Andrew, came to visit for a day. Carmen loved having him stay with us and for whatever reason renamed him "Devin." Devin is a great guy!

Michael rekindled our Saturday morning donut drive. Ain't no one here complaining.

We traveled home for a fast 2 day trip. Aunt Sarah is home from Africa and got to meet Brooks for the first time!

We got in a few ours with some of our favorites. Reid and Brooks are best buds.

We finally were reunited with our beloved Farris family! Bret and Ashley stopped in on their way home to Houston and we met baby girl Rylie for the first time. She is dreamy and fits right in with her older brothers. Carmen seriously loves her time with those boys.

We still visit the store regularly. Brooks had his first waffle fry at 9 months old. My standards are way lower this time around. He also gets licks of my ice cream any time we have it. Sometimes Carmen just eats fries for lunch. Oops. However shall my children survive?!

Oh, look. More ice cream.

She's a mess! But we give them baths every night. Despite what the pictures above show, we don't get to see friends much. I just don't take pictures of our lonely days. And well, it's really hard to make friends in a living situation like this. We try though! We go to our community group on Sundays, I take her to play dates organized by the church. I try and make conversation with other moms at parks and libraries but it's just not the same as living somewhere permanently. I've realized how hard it is to break into established circles of people groups. It's giving me a new, fresh perspective on how to love people and go out of my way to include those "on the fringe." Next time we put down roots I hope to be able to bring these experiences with me and always be one to have open arms for those new folks in town. 

Carmen regularly asks to go to Nonni and Bri's house (my parent's home). That's always so tough for me because I simply can't give her that. She wants to play with her cousins, Tirzah and Malachi, and her best friend, Kate. But I can't give her that either. As Brooks gets more mobile, Carmen is realizing that she has a playmate in him. He's starting to chase her around the kitchen but most all activities end in tears these days. Some days I worry that I'm a crazy person by the time evening falls and Michael walks in the door. I think I've been told this is normal and most moms go through this? Two kids two years and under is hard. It just is. I know things will get easier as they both grow more independent but right now, sheesh, doing this thing far away from any outside help is tricky. Before Kaylee and David (another IM couple) moved away, Kaylee offered to come stay with the kids for two hours while I ran errands. It was life changing. But just for an hour and a half. I think I have issues when I'm on my own now, it's absolutely foreign to me. Kaylee is the sweetest thing ever and I was so blessed by her. We were sad to say goodbye to them last month. 

If you've never read the Honest Toddler blog, you should because it's hilarious. Here is a post that sums up some of my days, the section where he lists the "5 free items" to give for Mother's Day is my favorite. Laugh on. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sweet Memories

Seeing all these YouTube videos of children dancing and singing to Frozen makes me think of my own childhood. My siblings and I (along with pretty much any friend we had over for a play date) owned the spotlight on our video camera. My dad was always great about letting us use it to record ourselves for hours. I think he knew there would be some gems in the footage that were sure to make an appearance with the intent of embarrassing us later on in life! We were hilarious and strange at times. To this day we still love to watch those videos of ourselves dancing, singing, acting, whatever it was. This lip syncing to your Disney princess ballad is not a new idea folks. I guarantee every little girl around my age did this with "Once Upon a Dream," "Belle" (the market place song), "A Whole New World," "Part of Your World," etc. Our parents just didn't have smart phones and instant upload onto a website to make us famous. I know we have enough hilarious footage from our childhood to win "America's Funniest Videos" at least twice. I'm not kidding. 

I also think my own children are darling and already super funny, but most of those moments I haven't captured on camera. They go into the vault of memories that Michael and I will share. If we're lucky, one of us will think to email the story or a picture to their email accounts for safe keeping. I want them to be able to know how cute they were. I often think, "Man this would be so funny to put on Facebook! It would surely be a hit on YouTube!" but at the end of the day I tend to choose to keep these sweet moments to myself and cherish living in the here and now with these little babes. This is not to say I won't post videos and gems when I catch them. If I think it's worth it, I will not hesitate to share! Who wouldn't want to be famous!? (I'm only half serious.) 

I wish I had access to some of my sibling videos in honor of "National Sibling Day." I'd love to slap one on here and make y'all laugh. We had a magical childhood - Heather, Preston, Bri, Ashleigh, Katelynn, Julie, Sarah, you know what I'm talking about. :) 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A First Time for Everything

Last Tuesday evening Michael and I joined the other Dallas area IM's and Julie Kendall from Corporate for dinner. It was great to get a dinner out of the house without bringing the babies, but that did mean leaving the kids with a babysitter for the first time. I was a bit nervous because it was during the "we should be getting ready for bedtime" hours for both Carmen and Brooks, but all in all, it went well! A good friend from Charlottesville has a life-long best friend living in Dallas who has an awesome teenage daughter. She was a delight and Carmen had an instant friend. I'm grateful for connections! 

Julie treated us all to dinner at Frankie's (our neighborhood favorite Mexican food) and it was, as always, delicious. The company was better though! I loved getting to meet Julie and seeing the faces of this IM program more. Julie is fantastic and I hope we get to meet again soon. It was also great to be at dinner with other IMs and listen to them all talk about their lives, struggles, and successes in the program so far. 

So now that I've had a small taste of "date night" while the kids are at home with a babysitter and I survived my nerves, I am ready for more! Who's ready to watch them for us?! 

(Thanks for the pic, Julie! I took it from your Facebook page. : )

Thursday, March 27, 2014

March in Plano

We get to stay in the Dallas area for the month April. Michael begins his third month at the same store. He is very excited about the opportunity to see growth within the team he has set in place. They are beginning some fun marketing campaigns to help draw students back into this store. He has great ideas and his employees love him. It's fun to go see them at the mall and hear about how they like working there with him. I know Michael is a great leader, but it is always so rewarding to see others affirm this too.

Carmen loves to see Daddy at work every chance she gets. I wish we could spend all day there. Being a part of his job is so fun for us.

Early this month we flew back home to Virginia to visit our families. Michael didn't get to come because he had training in Atlanta that week. I loved seeing how happy Carmen was to see our families and friends again! I miss you all so much! It was lovely, however I honestly don't think I will choose to fly alone again. We had a layover in Atlanta which made for a very long day of flying with two babies. Something about the altitude makes Carmen poop the biggest poops she can and just imagine being in the way back of the plane with Brooks on my lap, no where to move, cheese-it crumbs all over the place, no where to change her diaper, the smell just sitting there, and I just prayed that it wouldn't leak out until we got off the plane. My prayers were answered thankfully. And I swore off doing that ever again despite the kids being pretty good passengers. And thank you Jesus for our iPad! We watched Frozen over and over again.

March has also brought another birthday for me! Actually....I wasn't excited about this one - 28. Too close to 30. Despite being alone in Dallas, Michael made me feel so loved. He had 5 presents waiting for me when we got home from the airport: 

I love presents. There was one for each day leading up to my birthday. AND he even put one present in each bag for Carmen. He thought of everything.

On my actual birthday we went out to breakfast at Breadwinners Cafe:

Then we went to dinner at THE BEST restaurant we've eaten at yet, Whiskey Cake:

Everything we ate was worth eating 10 times over. Pictured above is the actual whiskey cake and I'm laughing in the pic because Carmen blew out my candle mid-song. Happy Birthday to....me. If you come visit us in Dallas, we will take you here to eat. We are trying to come up with reasons to go back. 

And Brooks is now up from his morning nap....gotta go get the little shark. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Family Photos

 We were long overdue for some updated family photos and Michael surprised me with a mini-session for Christmas back in San Angelo. These are a treasure to me for many reasons but it will be fun to look back and see our family at the starting point of our "Chick-fil-A journey." I've put some up on Facebook, changed my profile pictures, updated my cover photo, etc. so pardon the overkill but I don't have a home to frame and hang family pictures like everyone else. 

And Brooks, just look at his face. "Help me!"

Thursday, February 27, 2014

"Best Of" the first month in Dallas

 Good news! We are staying put in Dallas/Plano for the month of March. This means that Michael gets two consecutive months of leading his store, we can stay in our current apartment and don't have to pack up, and we can further settle into life here in Dallas. Below are some of our favorite times in the city:

1. The Dallas World Aquarium 

2. Fort Worth Museum of Science and History (Carmen could spend hours shopping in their kid area)

 3. Kidville (can you spot Carmen?)

We got to spend time with some Virginia friends that are hoping to move to Dallas very soon. Olivia is just darling, here they are eating cakeballs together:

4. Open gym time at a gymnastics center. Carmen is amazing at the gym.

5. Haggard Park in Downtown Plano - close to Daddy's store and across the street from a year round local market with fresh produce and 20 some varieties of coffee beans. I've been loving my cups of coffee!

6. Klyde Warren Park - Food Truck Sundays are pretty neat!
 Can you see all the trucks lined up?
 They have a fun splash park that the children go crazy for
 He's just perfect.

7. Twisted Root Burger Co. - a Food Network find, delicious burgers, fried pickles, homemade frozen custard. Home of the best root beer float you'll ever find. One night we were there and had already ordered our dinner but held off on getting the milkshakes when the manager announced that the first person to bring him a postage stamp would get a free milkshake. You better believe this girl had one in her wallet. I shared my delicious, free milkshake with Carmen. 

8. The Village Church - who wouldn't want to listen to Pastor Matt Chandler preach every Sunday? I'm usually in the nursing mothers room but it's still great!

9. Downtown Plano - reminds us of Old Town Manassas just actually lively and thriving

10. El Fenix - delicious, cheap Mexican food with $2.95 margaritas at all times. 

11. Frankie's Mexican Cuisine - even better Mexican food. Yum, yum, yum. 

We tried to get to another local winner, but the wait was so long that we went elsewhere. We'll try it out soon enough. For now, we'll keep eating tex-mex. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Good Times in Texas

Backtracking a little to last month in Corpus Christi.... I can't leave out the details of our time with my aunt and uncle! Herb and Cynthia drove all the way down from Oklahoma City for 11 hours straight just to spend a weekend with us and escape the cold weather. Wouldn't you know it was a freezing cold weekend in Corpus, but we still loved their company! They arrived on a Thursday with Disney store gifts galore for little Miss Carmen and Brooks. They are so good to us. 

The next morning we visited Michael's mall and ate lunch at Chick-fil-A. Then we all went out to Joe's Crab Shack on the pier for a seafood dinner. It was a wonderful time and Uncle Herb made me cap it off with a mudslide so I was delighted. 

We tried out our favorite diner for breakfast.

Then we took them to our favorite park by the water and were surprised by an unexpected car show complete with a DJ blasting reggaeton... 

....so we went for a stroll along the pier. It was a chilly, but gorgeous morning. 

Later that evening, Michael came home early and Herb and Cynthia treated us to a date night! We took our first dinner out together in Corpus Christi and went to Waterstreet Seafood Co for our most delicious meal of the entire month! The fish we ordered was caught fresh that day - so, so good. H&C were so kind to us (especially since Brooks had a big diaper blowout not even 15 mins after we left.) and it was such a treat to get to spend a quiet meal out with my love. They drove home with a few of our boxes and luggage bags only to return them to us the following weekend in Dallas to help save space as we made the move up north. We got lucky and got to see them two weekends in a row! I love my family.

My last week in Corpus was delightful. The weather warmed back up and we took full advantage of our favorite spots. The aquarium was a hit for both Carmen and Brooks. I don't know if you can see how cute her profile is in the pic below but she is clapping for the dolphin (in between the two other girls).

The is taken at the aquarium looking back at downtown Corpus

You can see the USS Lexington in the background of the aquarium

This was taken as we waited in line at Starbucks drive-thru, she's just being her normal, excited, expressive self. Maybe a little more thrilled because she's getting a kids' hot chocolate.

 Our last day out on Padre Island beach together

We played "ice cream truck" in the back of the pick-up for quite some time, then decided we needed to go eat real ice cream after all that pretending.