October 30, 2008

Thankful Thursday

I'm very thankful today for a couple of things....

#1) Today we got our Jonathan tree. Our neighbors all pitched in to buy us a tree in memory of Jonathan--how can I express how thankful I am for all of them??? They are all so thoughtful and Justin and I are so honored to have them as neighbors. We chose a very a special tree from a tree farm about 30 minutes north of our house. It is called an Autumn Blaze Maple, and it turns a vivid red color in the fall. It has just begun to change now, and it is already beautiful! I can't wait for it to grow over the next few years--we are going to incorporate it into a whole memorial garden. What a beautiful and daily reminder of our precious boy's life! Thank you Jimmie, Charlie, Don, Kathy, Wendy, and Dennis!!

Aren't the leaves beautiful??
#2) I'm so thankful to live in this country and have the freedom to vote. Today I went with some friends to do early voting, and it just hit me, again, how wonderful it is to live in our country. Even with all of the uncertainty right now, the craziness of the economy, and many political beliefs that I don't agree with, I love that I am a part of it. Our future truly is in our hands right now--so many people around the world do not get this opportunity. Please don't let this election go by without being a part of the future of our country--you have to vote! So many crucial things depend on the results of this election--on the right person getting into office. There is only one choice for our country, even if you aren't too happy with the last 8 years. Our freedoms (financial, moral, social) will be greatly affected by our next president. The Supreme Court has such power in the checks and balances of our government, the interpretation of our laws--the wrong nominees could affect us for generations. As a Christian, I'm convinced that voting for McCain and Palin is the right decision, and the only decision, for our country. There is more to this election that all that we see--there is a spiritual battle going on. The choices we make now will affect our eternity--we can't take that lightly or make hasty decisions based on what is popular. It is up to us to live in a way that honors God--and we can do that through making the right vote! Okay...enough politics! I'm kind of sounding like my husband (which isn't a bad thing)!! =)
#3) I'm thankful for work. I don't think I mentioned earlier that I went back to work (again) this week. I did a 6 week long-term sub at the beginning of the year, but had some weeks off after it was over. My friend, Kamili, who I worked for last year, offered me my job back, and really wouldn't let me say no! =) I am a reading coach for kinder-5th graders, and I'm enjoying it. Honestly, I really wasn't looking forward to going back, because in my head, this isn't where I was supposed to be right now. But now that I've been there for four days, all the hugs I've gotten from students I had last year, have really made me feel happy to be back. I'm thankful that God has provided me this opportunity, with people to work with who really are there for me.
Hope you have a lot of things that you're thankful for this week!

October 25, 2008

A Day of Fun...

So today Justin and I decided to do something completely out of the ordinary for us... I just felt like getting away for the day, and I remembered hearing awhile back about this place called Arbuckle Wilderness up in Oklahoma. I looked it up online, and found that it was only about 2 1/2 hours away, so at about 10am, we were on our way!! We arrived there at 12:30, and were soon enjoying an amazing "safari", only about a mile off the highway in the middle of Oklahoma!!

We weren't exactly sure what to expect, and honestly, I was a bit nervous. According to the website, there are "hundreds of wild, exotic and rare animals – most roaming freely in habitats similar to their own." Hmm...and we drive through there habitats in our car, with no guides or animal experts anywhere nearby. We even saw many signs like this...But on we went, and I'm so glad we did! I can honestly say that I have never been so close to any kind of animal that wasn't a domestic pet or fit for a petting zoo. Thank goodness some of the most dangerous ones were behind glass or chain-link fence! Enjoy these pictures and videos of our drive through 'the wilderness'!!

We drove under this sign, and through the entry gates...
and here was our greeter! Nice haircut, huh?! I haven't yet figured out if this is a natural hair growth pattern, or if they are groomed. (But I honestly can't imagine anyone giving these llamas haircuts, so I guess it's natural!!)
You buy cups of food before you drive in so you can feed the animals. We bought three cups, and could tell pretty quickly that the animals know you are there to feed them. Your car literally gets swarmed with giant animals peeking in your windows, waiting for their food!!

Here is Justin feeding our llama greeter...

He was a bit mad when Justin rolled up his window. So then it was my turn, and the emus came up to my window. No problem...I thought.

Emus peck for their food...and that is really scary when you are holding the cup of food inside of your car...about a foot from your head. They also make quite a mess of the food pellets!


This guy was just too cute!
I had to give him a bit of food--he was nice and gentle!

Then came the camels....

Sorry for this sideways video, but the camel was practically on Justin's lap to get some food!

And then they surrounded us!

(They did finally move once they realized we weren't rolling our windows back down!)

Then we saw these wolves--they were very beautiful, especially when they are behind 2 layers of chain-link fence, with barbed wire on top! (This is where there were about 5 signs saying don't get out of your car--one even said that they think we taste like chicken! Ha!)

Then came some adorable donkeys. I know they're not considered "wild animals", but they were cute!

This little one couldn't quite figure out what he was supposed to be eating! I'm not sure what this little guy was, but he was a cutie too!
These guys were beautiful too!

This white tiger (also behind two fences with a bunch of signs!) was just enjoying the nice day! Isn't he beautiful?

This is the only time we were even near another car...just had to take a picture--gazelle, buffalo, and ostrich...I don't think I've ever seen those animals together, and this close to a car!!
Then they came to visit us! After my emu feedings, I decided that I would just look at the ostrich with the windows up.

My husband was much braver than I though, when this big guy started towards us...

Justin actually opened his window to feed the buffalo... His head was much bigger than our window, so I figured it would be okay. His tongue was gigantic, and as you watch this video, watch the end very carefully--Justin was left with a slimy little treat----yuck!!


We could not stop laughing, even as Justin was wiping buffalo slobber off his hands and lap!

The next animals were my favorite!! There were about 5 giraffes in a gigantic pen, and I thought we would just have to look at them from afar. But one was smart enough to lower his head under the rail and stretch out to get some food!

One of the others was just content to munch on the fence!

Here was the smart one who actually got some food!
After the drive through part, there was also a walk through part. Thankfully, all of these animals were in cages, or behind fences!
Here are two crazy animals!

Some tortoises...
Adorable pygmy goats--this one was just a baby!

Lots of different kinds of monkeys and lemurs

And my least favorite things in the world (don't ask my why I took pictures of them), snakes. This was a 19 foot python--not quite sure what he was doing--and this was less than half of his body length!!!

What a fun day--Justin and I both decided this was much better than just a normal zoo! I would recommend it to anyone nearby who wants some random fun!
It was only 2 when we were done, so we decided to drive on to Oklahoma City to walk around and find something to eat. We went to Bricktown, and area downtown that they are refurbishing. It is really pretty, and has a river through it, kind of reminiscent of San Antonio's Riverwalk.
Neat looking place to walk around...

They have a big ballfield, with Mickey Mantle Plaza out in front with a statue. My dad loves baseball, so this one is for you, Dad!!
Justin was just thrilled to have this picture taken--can't you tell by his fake smile?

We ate some really great mexican food, and then were on our way home. What a great day--so much fun just to get away and do something completely different! We are now determined to find random things to do/places to explore at least one weekend a month. Any suggestions of other great things to do within a few hours of Dallas?? =)

October 24, 2008

Update on Denise...

**Correction--Denise did not go home until today (Tuesday) and is still on bedrest. I misunderstood Justin and thought she had already gone home. Please keep she and her family in your prayers!**

Thank you all for praying...so far so good. Denise was in the hospital all day today being monitored, practically on her head to relieve the stress on her cervix. Her labor subsided and she was able to go home this evening. However, from now until delivery, she is on very strict bed rest. So she will definitely need your continued prayers as she has a long 4 months ahead of her until her little boy is born healthy! Pray for Bill, Denise, and their kids as they take it day by day. Thank you, Lord, for a miracle today!

Please pray...

I was out and about doing some errands this morning, and Justin called me with an urgent prayer request. Justin's old boss from Countrywide, Bill and his wife Denise are 24 weeks pregnant, and she started going into labor this morning. (This isn't the clearest picture, but the only one I had of them was at Jonathan's funeral)

At the time Justin called, they were on their way to the hospital to get her checked in. She (like me) has an incompetent cervix, and this is her second pregnancy with a cerclage. So with that, she shouldn't be having problems this early. Will you pray with me for them, for the baby, and wisdom for the doctors? Hearing about someone else experiencing this brings back a bunch of emotions for me, but I'm choosing to trust that God will do a miracle in their lives! Pray also for their family--a one year old at home, and three older children as well. I know that most likely this will mean bedrest for Denise, and a whole lot more on Bill's plate. I will keep you posted with any updates--thank you so much! There is nothing like the body of Christ joining together.

October 23, 2008

Thankful Thursday and CA trip pictures

Another Thursday to share some things that I'm so thankful for...
1) I'm so thankful that God gives doctors wisdom and ability to help their patients. Today, I had an appointment with my fertility specialist. Everything is looking good, and we are ready to get started on treatments again. Dr. Barnett is such an intelligent man and a great doctor, and he is also so caring. Through this whole process, he has been patient, understanding and encouraging! I'm so thankful that God led me to him, and I hope that God will bless Dr. Barnett for all of the work he does in helping couples to become families. I know that someday, hopefully soon, God will bless us with a baby too!
2) I'm so thankful for my Grandma...
My Gram is such an amazing woman. She loves the Lord with all her heart, and has lived a lifetime of serving God. I got to spend some time with her when I was in California last weekend and I enjoyed and treasured every minute of it. She has this incredible gift of making every single person she comes across feel so special, and like they are the only ones in the world that are important. She is deep source of truths from the Word, and each and every time I see her or talk with her, she prays with me. I love her so much, and treasure each an every moment I have with her. I know she isn't going to be around forever, and that makes me sad. But I know that she is looking forward to the day that she will be in Heaven with Jesus, my Grandpa Harvey, and our baby Jonathan! She told me last week that she was so excited because she would probably be the first one to meet him in heaven! Having her say that makes me sad, but it is kind of comforting knowing that someday, she will be there with Jesus, holding and loving my baby. Love you Grammy!
3) I'm thankful for a friend who understands. Yesterday I spent some time with Elisabeth, my friend who lost her baby Estella, and we had a really good time. All we did was watch a movie and walk around at Garden Ridge, but we were able to talk about our feelings about the upcoming holidays and just share our hearts. I wish there was no one else who could understand, but I'm thankful that there is!

These first three pictures aren't of my trip, but I just had to include them. The day before I left, I went to the park to work on my scrapbook. I thought I would take some food and just enjoy the afternoon. So I get there and find a picnic table that looks out at the lake, and begin to unwrap my sandwich. By the time I'm ready to take my first bite, I hear this coming towards me. I look over and there were about 50 geese/ducks headed my way, honking. I quickly realized that I was going to have to head back to my car and eat there, but I just had to snap a few pictures of these psycho birds!

There really were a lot more geese than what I got in this picture, but with a sandwich in one hand, it was kind of hard to get a picture of all of them!!

Okay...now for my trip to California...

I went to my parent's church with them on Sunday, and it was really good. Their pastor is an amazing teacher and I can see why they love going! My mom also sings in the choir, and I just had to snap a picture!

This is Molly, my parents' dog all dressed up for Halloween!

Can't you tell how much she loved this?!

After church, I went to lunch with my parents and my good friend Diane. Diane and I have been friends for 25 years--since I was 2!! It was so great to see her, even if it was only just for a little bit!

Just about sisters!

Here is Diane and I with our moms at Diane's apartment.

After our time together, my parents and I drove up to Concord, California (near San Francisco) to my cousin's house. My aunt, uncle, and Grandma were already there waiting for us. Lynnea, my cousin, made a delicious dinner, and we had so much fun looking at pictures of my brother's wedding from a few weeks ago.

My Gram, even though she can't see very well, plays the piano so well. She was so cute, I just had to snap a picture!

This is my sweet little cousin Hannah. She is four years old and is such a doll! She loves to give you hugs, and many times will just come up and give you kisses on the cheek. Hannah absolutely loves Molly, my parents' dog, and she just had to try on Molly's halloween hat! What a cutie!

Here I am with Hannah, and her older sister Grace. They are so much fun, and I'm so glad that I got some time with them!

It was a tiring trip for Miss Molly!

Grace showed me all of her schoolwork that she had done. She is such a smart little girl, and Lynnea is homeschooling her. They have an amazing classroom set up, and the curriculum is really great. I truly am impressed by it--homeschooling is definitely not what it used to be!!

Here I am with my cousin Lynnea, my mom, and Grace.

Before leaving on Monday, we had lunch with my Grandma, and then went to my aunt's house to say goodbye! Just a few pictures with those I love so much!!!

with Mom...

having fun with dad...

with my Aunt Sharon...

and with my Gram.

It was a great trip, and I'm so thankful that I was able to go!!

Hope you have had a great week so far!