Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Zoo

Today was the last day my brother Jeff, his wife Liz, and my niece Sophie are in town so we decided to head to the zoo to make the most of it. Sophie had been sick pretty much the whole time she had been here but today she was starting to feel better so it was nice to be outside and walking around. The kids were pumped to see all the animals. Katelyn was super excited about the monkeys. They must have known she was coming because one group of them put on a show for her. They were swinging all around the cage. It was really cute. We did have one misstep though. Katelyn decided it would be fun to fall and give herself a fat upper lip. She was fine and continued on her merry way after a few tears and hugs.

One of the craziest things was right before we got up to Silver back Gorilla, we heard this HUGE bang. We rushed around the corner and low and behold the gorilla had thrown a frozen watermelon at the glass. There was a family there with a boy around Katelyn or Elias' age who was in tears it scared him so bad. We couldn't believe it! The zoo keeper said he was probably just trying to break the melon open. Well whatever he was trying to do scared a bunch of people!

We had a great time riding on the carousel, looking at the animals and playing on the playground. The carousel was really cool because they had all these different animals you could ride. there was the horse of course, an alligator, an eagle, a giraffe, a zebra, and lots more. It was really neat. I think that might have been the highlight of the kid's day. The playground was pretty cool too. They had a fun spider web made of rope to play on and slides and ladders too. The kids could have stayed all day.

Once about noon hit, Dan, Katelyn, and I left and headed to meet up with parents who came into town for the day. They are leaving in the morning to go to CA for the Rose Bowl parade. We had a great time with them just relaxing and spending time them. Katelyn got to show off her new toys and other Christmas presents so she thoroughly enjoyed herself. After dinner, Nana gave her a bath and we watched part of Little Mermaid until it was time for her to go to bed. After she went to bed, Dan got his mom signed up for Facebook. It was so cute watching him explain all the functions to her. Dan's brother saw his mom got one (through his wife's) and decided to sign up too. So I told Donnie, Dan's dad, he was last holdout. Before you know it we'll have him signed up too! : )

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! What a great day it's been! Long, but very good. My brother and sister-law and their little girl came into town yesterday just in time for our annual Cuban sandwich party at the Rodriguez's. Man, what a lunch! Alan Sr. always does such a great job on those sandwiches. I brought salad and fudge which were great accompaniments. Later that evening, we all headed to church for a sweet Christmas Eve service. The music was beautiful and Dr. Brunson read the Christmas story. We also had the opportunity to participate in the Lord's supper. What a special thing. One thing Dr. Brunson said which I thought was great was that whenever you talk about the manger, you have to talk about the cross and vice-versa. It's so true. You can't separate the two events. Thank You, Jesus for humbling Yourself, putting on flesh, and dying to save me. You did it all because You love me and I am so unworthy.

This morning was really sweet. We had stayed up a little late last night watching a Christmas cartoon so I wasn't sure how late Katelyn was going to sleep. Well, a few minutes after 8 we hear, "Mommy, Daddy!" coming from down the hall. Dan jumps out of bed (I think he was more excited than her) and ran and got her out of her crib. I'm moving a little slower due to the extra 25lbs I'm carrying, but we head into the computer room to check out the tree. We had bought Katelyn a Play-doh canister that I couldn't figure out how to wrap so she spotted that first. She was so excited! There is nothing like experiencing Christmas through the eyes of a 2 year old. After a quick brushing of the teeth (a MUST for me) we opened our stockings then our gifts. It took a while because Katelyn wanted to play with each present she unwrapped. It was so cute! She got some new princess books and slippers, a big princess floor puzzle (that has already been put together multiple times), a new gator shirt, some coloring books and stickers. Dan got me a new sterling silver ring, a book, a pedicure gift card, and a few other little things. I got him a new running watch, a pair of his favorite khaki's from Gap, a new shirt, new PJ pants and a few stocking stuffers. We had a wonderful morning that ended with Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. Yummy!

We then headed to my parents to meet up with the rest of the family and do gifts and things there. The 3 kids were so cute together! They were having so much fun! They wanted to be right in the middle of things and open everyone's presents. Katelyn was being funny because she was all about her Titi Tiff. She wanted to show Tiff each of her presents. She didn't care about what mommy and daddy thought, she just wanted to show Tiff. It was sweet. I love that she enjoys her family!

After gifts we just relaxed and started preparations for lunner (lunch/dinner). I cooked a ham (my first one) that day before and then I also made Sweet Potato casserole (a Paula Dean recipe with coconut-so good!). We also had smoked turkey, green beans, corn on the cob, Maria's yellow rice (it's not a Spurlin/Rodriguez function without yellow rice), and yeast rolls. Man, Caroline and I ate good!

We also had the dad's help the 3 kids make a birthday cake for Jesus. It was so cute! Each kid took turns putting things in the bowl then stirring and pouring. They did a great job! Later in the evening we iced it then sang "Happy Birthday, Jesus." All throughout the day we tried to put the focus on Jesus. We thanked Jesus for our gifts and for our family. We read from Our First Bible about the birth of Jesus. I know Katelyn is learning and it's sweet to hear her talk about baby Jesus and Mary and Joseph and the angels.

I pray you and your family had as special a Christmas as we did. Here's to celebrating Jesus everyday throughout this next year. Merry Christmas and God bless!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Catch Up

I haven't been doing real well in blogland lately. It seems every time I sit down, my mind just goes blank. We've been doing lots of fun things but when it comes to writing about it, I just can't seem to do it. Well, tonight, I'm determined to try. I don't even know if anyone actually reads this, but my goal is to at least somewhat document the life of my family so we can look back on it one day. I know one day I'll be glad I did this.

We took a family trip to Disney last weekend (Dec 12-13). My parents and my brother and sister-in-love and their little boy all went down and had a blast! The weather was nice, the park was crowded, but not too bad, and the company was the best. It was so much fun watching Katelyn and Elias take everything in. Katelyn still didn't like the rides in the dark. The one surprise was Small World. In September, she loved it! This time, she complained the whole time that she wanted off, it was too dark, etc. By the end of the ride she had her blanket over her head. Who knew Small World could be such a frightening thing?

We went to Crystal Palace for lunch with the Pooh characters. The food was very yummy and the kids had a blast! Back in September, Katelyn was interested in the characters, but was scared to go up to them by herself. She wanted Dan or I to hold her. This time, she ran right up to them and hugged them, gave them all kisses and didn't want to say bye-bye when they had to leave. It was so cute! One funny story from lunch: Katelyn was hugging on Piglet, who had stooped down to be on her level. Elias wanted it to be his turn so he rushed at Piglet and knocked him flat on his bum. It was one of the funniest things! Poor Piglet!

We ended the day by playing in Toon Town, riding the train, the people mover, and doing a little Christmas shopping. Tiff and I actually found some great deals! We were very excited! At the end of the day, we all loaded up in the van and headed home. One side note, I don't really recommend going to Disney when you're 8 months pregnant. I had a great time, but by the end of the day, my hip and my sciatic nerve were throbbing. At least I got the back seat of the van to myself so I could stretch out a little and take a short nap. : ) I'm not complaining by the way, just stating a fact.

The next day, Sunday, was a busy day for us. Dan was leaving town for a week up in Louisville, KY to take a J-term seminary class. He took New Testament 2, which is pretty much the second half of the NT. He had a great week and thinks he did really well in the class. It stunk to have him away and I know he missed us, but it was a great opportunity to get a 3 credit class in just 5 days. He had the chance to meet up with some friends some high school and college and learn a lot in the process. Let me tell you what though, that week made me thankful for my husband. My heart goes out to single moms. You are my heros! I stayed at my parents for the week but it was still really hard! Thank you Jesus for a wonderful, involved husband!

That same day, Travis Cottrell was in concert at our church with our high school choir and orchestra. The HS ensemble I direct had the chance to back him up on one of his songs off his new Christmas album. It was a very difficult song and the kids did a great job! The whole concert went really well and I couldn't be prouder of all the high school kids. The worked really hard and sacrificed a lot to sing in that concert. I think Jesus was glorified in the final outcome.

Dan got home a little after midnight on Friday night and we were so excited to see him (at least I was Katelyn was asleep)! The next day I did some grocery shopping (we were out of toilet paper and I'm sorry, but that's a must have) and finished up my Christmas shopping while Dan took Katelyn to the park for a couple of hours. As you can see, she thought the park needed a little cleaning. Katelyn was the happiest girl alive that day! She had missed her daddy so much! Every time they talked on the phone, the first thing she would say was "You on your way home?" It was so sweet and so sad at the same time. But they had a great time together. That afternoon Dan and I headed to Gainesville to go to one of my college roommate's wedding. It was hard for Dan to leave Katelyn but I really appreciated him going. It was a sacrifice on his part on many levels and I love the fact he didn't complain or try to get out of it. He's the best husband ever! Anyway, the wedding was held in the chapel that Dan proposed to me in so it was very special. It was a fun evening but we scooted out early so we could make it home at a reasonable hour.

So, I guess that catches you up on our life the last couple of weeks. I'm a little tired now so I don't think I'll post pictures tonight, but I'll try to do so tomorrow. So, I'm off now for a date with Mr. Pillow! Good night!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Rhonda Ellis has this neat program at her house one Tuesday a month called Ladies Night Out. It's a time for moms to get together, have dinner, and hear practical, Godly wisdom from a mom of 6 who actually has some things figured out. I know she is not perfect, but she has let the Lord teach her and build her into an amazing mom and I feel blessed to be able to listen to her share some the things she's learned over the years.

Last night's topic was Respect. Respect for adults, respect for our husbands, and respecting our children. I will admit I left in tears. Not bad tears, but good ones. Have you ever been at a place in your life where you are just overwhelmed? I feel like I'm there right now. Last night just confirmed it. I so want Katelyn and Caroline to grow up loving God. I want them to make right choices not out of fear, but out of love for Christ. So much of what I have done right in my life was because of the fear I would let my parents, or my youth pastor or my husband down. I'm tired of feeling that way. I want my love of Christ to be the driving force in all the "whys." Know what I mean?

But here's where the problem comes in. How do you do that? How do you move from fear to love? How do you change a mindset you've had (subconsciously or not) for most of your life? That's where I am. How do I move from doing my quiet time because I know I should, to doing it because I truly love Jesus and want to spend time with Him? How do I share my faith because I am truly concerned about the lost instead of because I know I'm "supposed" to? And then there's the main question...How do I teach my child to do it out of a love when I'm not?

It all comes back to me. There is so much that God is showing me in my own life that I'm just overwhelmed. How can I tell Katelyn and Caroline one thing, and live a different way? The older I get and the further along I get in my christian walk, the more I realize how much farther I have to go.

We also talked how we, as women and moms, set the tone in our homes. Are we always looking at things critically or are we forthcoming with praise for our family? Rhonda talked about the importance of lavishing praise on our family and making our home a safe place, free of bullying, criticism, and sarcasm. That last point got me. How often do I make sarcastic remarks to those I love most? That does nothing to build them up. She challenged us to start a study of the Proverbs and I think I'm going to do it. I've read the book of Proverbs many times, but not often have I stopped to truly examine what the verses are saying. What better wisdom to seek than that of the Lord's?

So as you can see, I'm trying to get real with myself. I am asking the Lord to do a major renovation of my heart. I want to be open with my fears, insecurities, and failures and use those things to remind myself how I NEED Jesus everyday. I would covet and appreciate your prayers.