Friday, December 25, 2009

A Different Kind of Christmas...

Well, we made it through a Christmas unlike any other we've experienced before. Having had to cancel our plans to travel up north due to my back surgery, we decided to celebrate Christmas early with Shelley (and her roomate, Ashley) since she was still flying home for Christmas. It was the first time I had been up much since my surgery, but I really enjoyed having the girls and was thankful I was well enough to enjoy my time with them. The following day, I had a call from a neighbor who wanted to bring dinner and when I suggested they come for a "Christmas Tea", they decided to bring lunch instead. I've really appreciated every small "taste" of Christmas people have shared with me this year including the beautiful plants and flowers people have brought by.

We started our Christmas morning by watching Max Lucado, our pastor, on "Good Morning America", then went down to have our traditional breakfast and open gifts, which didn't take much time at all. Stacey made us a handmade sign that we plan to hang on the front porch, and Shannon's family gave us a grandparents calendar with pictures of the kids. I'm sure it'll help us get through those long months when we feel so very far away from everybody up north!

The first positive thing I thought about when I was told that I couldn't travel was that Emma wouldn't have to spend Christmas in a kennal. Well, she definately enjoyed her first Christmas with us! She loved opening gifts and really enjoyed her stocking...she had Larry and I in stitches as we watched her! She got a stuffed Christmas bear that she loved...I don't think it'll last more than a couple of days but she won't leave it for a second.

Emma's last gift she opened was a Christmas sweater that I though she would hate. Actually though, once she got used to it she left it on all afternoon. We had company for dinner and again, Emma was the center of attention (fortunately they were dog lovers). We had invited some of our friends from church over for a traditional San Antonio Christmas dinner...tamales! It was a nice chance to get to know people a little better and was an enjoyable afternoon.

It was a very "different" Christmas for us but one that I'm sure we'll talk about for many years to come. Emma LOVED being our "only child" for the day but was definately tuckered out after her first real Christmas!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Unexpected Answer to Prayer...

I actually couldn't wait to get home from our cruise so I could see a doctor and begin "treatment". Many people I had talked to said I would have to have physical therapy along with medication for the pain. Whatever they said, I was definately ready to get started so that I could move forward with Christmas and our trip north to be with family for the holidays.

After visiting the Emergency Room on Sunday, I expected to get in to a neurosurgeon on Monday, so I took the day off. The pain in my neck, right arm and hand continued to intensify along with discouragement when every doctor I called couldn't see me until after the way could I handle this pain that long! I finally decided to go in to see my primary care physician that evening who told me the same thing they had told me at the hospital. Feeling VERY discouraged, I took lots of pain meds and went to work on Tuesday. During my second group of students, my phone rang. I normally wouldn't answer it, but under the circumstances, I did. It was the neurosurgeon's office telling me the doctor could see me in one hour. I called the office to tell them I had to leave and took off right away, stopping to pick up a copy of my MRI on the way.

This doctor is supposedly the best in the area according to people I had talked to, and I felt complete confidence that he would be able to help me. Well, after looking at the MRI he said it was the worst case he had seen and immediately scheduled me for surgery on Friday...only two days away! I spent the rest of that day having all my presurgical tests done, which made for a miserable day. I was upset about the news that I would be alone for Christmas as well as worried about the fact that I hadn't yet finished my shopping. To add to that, I passed out twice that day as they took blood and did some other test called a "bleed-out". After all that, I had to drive home in torrential rains...something that doesn't happen often in San Antonio. I got thoroughly lost and had to call Shelley to get me home. It wasn't one of my best days!

I spent the next two days getting ready for Christmas. The doctor had taken me off all pain meds in preparation for the surgery, but I was so focused on finishing as much as I could, I was able to deal with it. I couldn't lift the crates where I store gifts, so I only had a couple of gifts each to send up north. I wrapped all the gifts one-handed, praying for each person as I wrapped their gift. Thankfully I had ordered things for the grandkids and had them sent to Shannon and Josh's house...Christmas would go on without me!

Friday came and I was actually so anxious to be free from the pain, I couldn't get to the hospital fast enough. When the doctor came in to see me in Pre-op, he had some more news for me...the nerve damage in my right arm was so severe, he didn't expect my arm would ever be completely usable again. With only a few minutes left before the anesthesia, I began praying and trusting in Jeremiah 29:11-13, knowing that God knows all that is ahead and that He has a plan for me. That's the last thing I remember before being put out...well, that and how cold I was!

I woke up four hours later and the first thing I noticed was that I could feel my right arm again! There was still lots of tingling, which remains even now, but I do think the nerves will heal in time. I see the neurosurgeon on December 18th and we'll see what he says.

For now, I'm home recovering, unable to be up for long. I spend my time moving from the couch to the recliner to the computer. I've started reading the New Testament again, hoping that I can discover new truths that will help me grow into the person God has planned for me. I have lots of time to pray for all the people I love, and I constantly get reminders that it could be worse...I realize what an honor it is to know Christ and have Him with me at difficult times like this.

My favorite thing to do right now is work on "My Thankful List"'s the one thing that's helping me deal with all the negatives right now. I'm currently up to #28, and I'm discovering more each day. Like it says in James 1:2-4, my goal is to face this trial with "joy"!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My First Cruise...

Our long awaited vacation took place Thanksgiving week, and while it wasn't exactly how we had visualized it, it still is a pleasant memory. I was dealing with a lot of pain when I boarded the ship and ended up visiting the medical clinic the first night we spent on board only to find out I was dealing with a bulging disc. Since I had to be on an IV all week, I wasn't able to do half of the things I would've liked to, however it was still a nice vacation.

Our first stop was in Key West where we wandered the streets for the morning. It was a place I wouldn't mind visiting again when I'm feeling better. We thought it was a bit odd to see chickens wandering the streets, however I guess it's rather commonplace there.
Our next stop was Cozumel which would have been better if they hadn't been experiencing a rare tropical storm while we were there. We spent a good portion of the morning in one shop trying to avoid the flooded streets. The rain did finally let up enough for us to walk the streets a bit, where Shelley met a very friendly parrot!

In Belize, the girls both had their hair braided by the locals and then we wandered around the city. It's a very impoverished area which is sad because they all cater to the tourists who visit their city.
We enjoyed the ship a lot and actually had Thanksgiving dinner on the ship.

This is a picture of our waiter, Ben the last night of the cruise. I missed a couple of meals due to the pain I was having, but the Larry REALLY enjoyed the food. My favorite person on board was definately my Swedish nurse...she made the entire week bearable for me!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Day in the Life of an Art Teacher...

Isn't life funny? I mean if you had told me five years ago that I would be living in Texas and teaching Art, I would have said you were crazy! Yet here I am...and loving it! Even though I still struggle (and always will) with living so far from family, God has truly blessed my life here. I guess we never know what's in store unless we're flexible enough to follow wherever He takes us...even to San Antonio!

I took some pictures this last week of some of my classes...we've done everything from painting with watercolors to sketching outdoor scenes and even painting snowmen that will be made into Christmas presents. Just this week, I had two students who won awards for the "Red Ribbon Week" art contest, and they'll be going on to the district. It's something I never would have planned for myself, yet I know I'm where I should be...for now!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Its Been a LONG LONG Time!

I know it seems like forever since I've posted anything, but we've been so busy that even though I take lots of pictures, I just never seem to find the time to put together a new post. I took this picture of Larry one night when he was working on his laptop and Emma was VERY interested! I had a hard time not laughing as I was taking the picture.

These next few are just pictures from school that I had on my camera...the first is from "Pajama Day" where not only did I get to wear my pj's, but Rascal had some made specially for the day also. (The kids LOVED it as he greeted the students in the entry hall as they arrived that morning!) Next, is one of my students holding a spider we made in art after reading the book "Arrrggghhh Spiders!"...yes, all 500 of my third, fourth and fifth graders made one! Last, is a picture of one of my fourth grade "contestants" as we played "Topsy Turvy Tic Tac Toe" where kids pick a question and have to choose the wrong answer's a favorite "Fun Friday" game I play each fall with the older students.

Larry took this picture of Emma last night when I was on the's her new favorite place to nap while I work on lesson plans!

We woke up today to a beautiful fall day and decided to go explore a pumpkin patch I had heard about though friends at school. My expectations were really low considering most people here have never seen fall up north, but it turned out to be wonderful! It turns out it's run by a Christian family and this time of year it's the main event in the hill country. They had lots of entertainment as well as activities and food for all ages.

Well after all, it is Texas, so they had to have a real longhorn there amongst all the other attractions!
Much to my surprise, I found Santa serving apple dumplings at a little farm stand! Actually he told me he only makes time for this because he enjoys it so much, but on the first of November it's back to Christmas preparations. (He really IS the town's Santa!)

On the way out of town, we stopped at their little restaurant where they serve lunch and apple goodies along with lots of other tempting items!

and last...Shelley has a new car! Yep, she was rear ended on her way to church a few weeks ago and insurance totalled her car, so Larry found this 2001 Ford Taurus for's cute!!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Last Few Days of Summer...

Summer is finally coming to an end here and I'm SO glad to see the rain and cooler temperatures! This last week it rained almost every day and we even had days in the 60's...I loved it for a change. All of the yards are quickly turning green and as Emma and I took our walk this morning, it seemed as if everyone was out doing yard work.

A couple of weeks ago, Larry and I took one of our days off to go on the riverboat tour. We've been wanting to do that for a long time but it seems as if there's always something that has to be done. It was a fun day, although I'm not sure I'd do it was rather expensive!

Big changes have taken place in Shelley's life these last few weeks. First, she's no longer working at Culver's as she now has a new job at HEB. She's working full time in their "Cafe on the Run" which is an upscale deli inside the Central Market. Larry loves having her work there and HEB is a real family oriented she's getting all the great benefits and perks that Larry gets!

Another big change for Shelley is her living arrangements...she and a friend from church are moving into a new apartment next weekend. This is an answer to prayer as we've been seeing her get more involved at her church and spending more time with her friends from CBC. She and Ashley (her new roomate) came over for dinner tonight. I really like Ashley and I think this is a great move for Shelley...for one thing she's only going to be a few minutes from our house so maybe we'll get to see her more often. I included some pictures I took the other night when we went to see the's really nice!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

"Bigger than You" with Michael W. Smith...

The main reason Stacey came this weekend was for the special "Bigger than You" service we had at the AT&T Center. Oak Hills, along with all of the smaller satellite churches met for one service and we had Michael W. Smith leading worship. Larry and I were both working, so we had to get there really early and it's a good thing we did because he was there rehearsing and we got to watch him. Stacey took the opportnity to go right up front and take lots of pictures...her dream come true!

It was really fun having both Stacey and Shelley here for the day. Shelley showed up with a bunch of friends from her church and they took up a whole row. Because Larry and I are involved in starting up the new Northeast Satellite Church, we got to sit in the front section, third row, right behind Max, Randy, Michael W. Smith and David Robinson and their families. It was the official introduction of the new church and we're hoping that today's introduction during the service will bring lots of new families from the community.

By the time we left the AT&T Center, we were starving, so we decided on some authentic Texas barbeque. We met Shelley and a group of her friends at Rudy's and shared lots of BBQ chicken, turkey and brisket as well as their wonderful creamed corn...yum!

The weekend went awfully fast and we hated to send Stacey back home, but it's the first week of school for me so I'm sure it'll be a busy one. The next time we get to see her it will be for the cruise in!

Stacey's Visit...Day One!

Stacey arrived late Friday night for a very short visit...just two days! We started the weekend out by meeting Shelley early for breakfast at Magnolia House since she had to work all day. Since this is a really hot time of year here, we went over to La Cantera early so we could beat the heat. It's a gorgeous outdoor mall that's right next to Fiesta Texas and caters to tourists, so when we passed the "Build-A-Bear" store, we went in to show Larry as he said he had never seen one. Well, he got really caught up in it (and I'm always "caught up in it"), so we ended up making our own bears. It was hysterical to watch Larry, but he did great until he had to get his bear dressed...then he let Stacey take over.

We named the finished products Missy and Skippy!

After lunch at Chick-Fill-A, we headed home so Larry could take a much needed nap after all that shopping! Stacey and I decided to go to the pool and the water felt wonderful. We swam and layed out and got a LOT more sun than Stacey is used to. Oh well, at least her sunburn is proof that she was here!

Later that evening Larry barbequed teriyaki chicken breasts to go along with Stacey's favorites...buttered noodles and watermelon. I took Stacey shopping and then we ended the evening with a motorcycle ride...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Art Startz!

Monday is our first day of school here but I started this last week getting the classroom ready. This is the first year that all my classes will meet in my own room. Last year I traveled class to class, dragging all my supplies with me. Only towards the end of the year did I try painting in my own classroom and I really liked being in my own space much better. It was a lot of work accumulating all the supplies I needed to have students everyday all year long, however I really enjoyed decorating my own room in the portables. I still have stuff I want to do, but it's a start!

This is my faithful puppet friend, Rascal, who has traveled with me to all the kinder and first grade classrooms for the last few years. I always tell the students that Rascal lives in my own room, so I figured I better make him a "room"...I think it turned out pretty well. I used velcro so I could change his "decor"...I hope my kids like it ~