Friday, June 20, 2008

Sandlin Vacation 2008 Part 2: Memphis

Taylor and I are having a refreshing and relaxing time in Memphis. Taylor's time has mainly been spent attending meetings and catching up with old friends. My time has been spent relaxing, attending an occasional worship service, and catching up with old friends. I even spent a few hours reading by the pool yesterday. I have been some what productive in spurts getting school work done in the hotel. Even this is relaxing to me, knowing I don't have to rush before the kids wake up or I have to pick them up. One of our friends commented to us, "You look like a couple on vacation." It has been very nice.

One of the things I like most about these meetings are all the old friends you see. Some we've kept in touch with over the years and know where they are and what they're doing. Others we catch up with once a year at CBF. These are people you don't think about in your day to day life, but when you see them again you remember that these are the people we lived life with for 3 years in seminary. We've also caught up with former professors and pastors that have had a huge impact in our lives. It is just a very refreshing time to visit with others in the ministry and be encouraged and challenged by what they are doing. Last night we heard Lauran Bethell speak. She is one of my heroes that Taylor and I first became aware of in England a few years ago. Lauran is amazing and works around the world with women and children who are victims of human trafficking and prostitution. She is such a courageous woman and I am always humbled when I hear her speak.

This afternoon Taylor and I are going to go to the Civil Rights Museum which is supposed to be very moving. Other than that, we haven't done much sight seeing in Memphis. Our hotel is right by Beale Street, so we have seen that. I think we will actually leave Memphis without seeing Graceland. I guess we'll survive. The kids have had a GREAT time in Texarkana. Taylor's parents are driving them to Shreveport this morning and my parents and sister are on their way there to pick them up. My family will go on to Vicksburg and spend the night there and visit with my grandparents. Tomorrow morning Taylor and I will get up early and meet them in Jackson. Then we are all traveling done to Gulf Shores, Alabama for a week at the beach. I told you we were covering a lot of states! Our friends the Hamiltons will join us there. Looking forward to it!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sandlin Vacation 2008 Part 1: Texarkana

We're in Texarkana. Our vacation has gotten off to a great start so far. We left San Angelo yesterday afternoon. Taylor needed to conduct a funeral before we left so we didn't get out of town until about 1:00. Sophie was pumped. I hung a map in the van that showed her the route we are taking the next few weeks (since we are covering 6 states!). It looked exciting to her, but I'm not sure the map conveyed how far we would actually travel that day. The little blue line between dots didn't look very far. By the end she wasn't so pumped anymore. We got to Weatherford around 4:0o for a quick bathroom break and stretch. Poor John Curtis thought it was the end of the trip. He shook his head no when we asked if he was ready to go and grabbed Grammy's hand. We cooerced everyone back in the van with the promise of snacks and juice and were off again. When we stopped for a bathroom break about 2 hours later, John Curtis arched his back and screamed when we strapped him back down. Once again, food calmed him down. He decided to take a little nap around 7:30 so that when we got to G-Momma and Poppa's at 8:30 he was ready to go. Both the kids were so hyper - running around the house and pulling out toys. Sophie finally settled down enough to sleep around 10:00. John Curtis was still going strong. Taylor and I fell into bed and left him to his patient G-Momma. She said he finally gave it up around midnight. And guess who was up at 6:45??? Thankfully today was a slow, relaxing day. Taylor and his dad played golf and the girls and John Curtis just played. The kids are having a great time. Taylor and I are leaving in the morning to drive to Memphis to attend the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship meeting for the next few days. I'm looking forward to getting some rest and having some time alone with Taylor.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

18 Months

John Curtis will turn 18 months on the 19th. Since we will be gone on vacation, I wanted to go ahead and write a little about him. Here are 18 things about my wonderful 18 month old.

  1. He has the most adorable smile.
  2. He loves his sister and squeals with delight when she comes in every morning.
  3. He refuses to talk (has even stopped saying words he used to say) but does most of his communicating through pointing and grunting.
  4. Due to his beautiful big eyes, long eyelashes, and curly hair he has often been mistaken for a girl.
  5. He loves to back up in your lap to read a good book. His favorite book is Where’s Spot?
  6. He can't seem to stay clean for 5 minutes.
  7. He is very coordinated and can crawl up or into anything.
  8. He loves to play ball – any kind. He can kick, throw, or roll.
  9. He has no fear in the water. He floats out in his little ring and doesn’t want anyone touching him. He has also gone down both slides at the pool – a feat which Sophie only had the courage to do this summer.
  10. When he gets upset, he bites or hits whatever has offended him – even if it is an inanimate object like a slide, a ball, or the floor.
  11. He makes us laugh all the time.
  12. His favorite place to be is outside.
  13. He is perfectly content sitting in his stroller for a long walk.
  14. He eats dirt.
  15. Any kind of animal delights him.
  16. He is serious about his meal time.
  17. He knows all his body parts.
  18. He is a JOY to everyone who knows him.

Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there (I’m sure a lot of men read my blog:) There are two guys I know read it – Dad and Taylor. These are two guys I am so thankful to have in my life. I think dads have a HUGE responsibility to all their children, but as a girl, I know first hand the impact they can make in their daughters’ lives. I honestly believe that the relationship I had with my dad had a direct impact on the way I related to and interacted with guys. My dad always made me feel loved and accepted. He showed an interest in my life and my activities. Occasionally he had to lay down the law and I’m sure I thought I hated him at the time. But the boundaries and security made me feel liked I mattered and was important. I didn’t need to seek approval elsewhere. Sure, there were always the insecurities of adolescence, but I never felt like I had to be someone else in order to be accepted. Because of the love and acceptance I received at home I had enough self worth to seek out healthy relationships – both in friendships and in my dating life. By the time I met Taylor, I knew exactly what I wanted in a relationship and I was secure enough to let him know my standards – even with the risk of scaring him off. I’m thankful to my dad for instilling the confidence in me to do this, but I’m also thankful to Taylor for being secure enough not to be scared off. I am so thankful he is the father of my children because I could not think of a better man to bring them up. When I was pregnant with Sophie and we found out she was going to be a girl I told Taylor what a huge responsibility he had in her life. I told him no pressure, but much of her future relationships with guys depended on her relationship with him. I’m sure he didn’t need me telling him that because his relationship with Sophie has grown out of love, not obligation. They have a very special bond and I am sure that love and security will carry Sophie through many unsure days ahead. I am thankful for these 2 special men in my life. Happy Father’s Day!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Toothbrush

My kids teach me things all the time. It is amazing how much more I understand God's love for me since having them. One of those ah-hah moments happened this morning. John Curtis is OBSESSED with his toothbrush. He wants it all the time. After I brushed his teeth this morning, it was time to go. He cried when I took it away from him, then I shut the bathroom door so he couldn't get to it. He stood at the door and SCREAMED. I wanted to take him to the pool for a fun morning of swimming with friends, he wanted to chew on his toothbrush. He usually doesn't like it when he thinks I'm leaving him so I loaded up our pool stuff and walked out to the garage thinking he would follow me. Nope. He was still crying at the door wanting that toothbrush. I got everything loaded up (including Sophie) and still he hadn't budged. Finally, I had to pick him up and carry him, still crying, to the van. He pretty much cried to whole way to the pool - until we pulled into the parking lot. Since we go swimming most mornings he knew where he was. As soon as he saw the pool he started pointing (another obsession of his) and his whole face lit up with excitement. When we got to the pool area, the music was playing and John Curtis started dancing and laughing. I said, "Aren't you glad you came to the pool instead of staying home chewing on your toothbrush?" I'm sure he understood me:) Actually, he may not have learned anything new today, but I did. There have been specific times I can remember in my prayer life when I can visually see myself throwing a fit before God. I want something (or don't want something) so bad that I can't see how anything else would be better. What I want may be like chewing on a toothbrush. It's fun for a while. But God wants to take me swimming where it's so much fun that I dance and laugh. Now I'm not saying what God has for us is always more fun than what we want, but sometimes we might miss out on what's great for what is just good. Had I not physically moved John Curtis he might still be standing at the bathroom door screaming. I just wanted to say to him, "Trust me buddy. What I have planned for you today is so much better!" So I too am learning to trust and I'm thankful for the lessons I learn through my children.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

John Curtis Pictures

Mom just sent some pictures of John Curtis from his week in Weatherford.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Sophie Week Part 3 - The Campout

We finished up Sophie Week with a camping trip to Abilene State Park. Sophie loves to camp. We went twice last summer, but John Curtis wasn't mobile then and just sat in his stroller or carrier. She's been asking to go this year, but I wasn't too excited about taking John Curtis. So we decided to pack one more thing into this busy week, and I'm glad we did. She had a great time fishing and hiking and playing in the tent. We chose Abilene because that is a good meeting place between here and Weatherford and Mom brought John Curtis there today. It ended up being a very nice State Park with lots of shade. So now Sophie week is over and we are glad to have John Curtis back with us. Life has returned to it's usual chaos. Only one more week until we begin our crazy 2 week vacation to Texarkana, Memphis, Vicksburg, and the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Lot's to get done before then!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sophie Week Part 2 - The Sleepover

Sophie has two very special friends that have shown up in some of my blogs in the past. Sophie hit it off with Gracie and Ellie right after we moved here 2 years ago. Their mother, Leia, who is one of my dearest friends really took me under her wing when I was new to San Angelo. Because of that, our families have become great friends and spend a lot of time together. When Taylor took me to San Antonio for my birthday a few months ago, Sophie had her first friend sleepover at their house. I thought this week would be a great time to return the favor since I was short one kid of my own. The girls had a great time together. We stayed at the pool on Wednesday until about one. After a rest time in front of a movie , the girls played hard all afternoon. They made their own pizzas for dinner and we went outside and made a crab craft (remember Sophie's ocean craft book she is obsessed with???). After bath time, I settled the girls in their sleeping bags on the living room floor in front of (another) movie. Yes - that is 2 movies in one day, but when you're in survival mode all rules go out the window. The idea was that the girls would be so tired from swimming and playing that they would conk out during the movie. Ellie did - Gracie and Sophie didn't. It took about another hour for the two of them to settle down, but by 10:00 (or shortly thereafter) all 3 girls were asleep.

Then the fun began. At about 3:45, I hear a little voice at my ear saying, "Miss Alyson, I'm having trouble sleeping." So Gracie climbed up in bed with us and fell right back to sleep. As she slept, she took over more and more of my side of the bed until I finally asked Taylor to go sleep in Sophie's bed. Problem solved - everyone was sleeping peacefully. Then at 5:00, Sophie started crying. You see, in the craziness of getting 3 little girls ready for bed I had not noticed when the last time Sophie went to the potty was. Who knows how long she had been holding it, but at 5:00 she stopped holding it. EVERYTHING was wet. We got Sophie up and cleaned off and put her in her own bed. Since the pallet the sleeping bags were on was wet we had to get Ellie up, too. Of course this woke her up and we had two giggly little girls. I went back to sleeping Gracie and Taylor laid down in between the other 2 girls. He said they finally fell back asleep after about 30 minutes. At 7:30, Gracie and I were awakened by giggly voices yet again and everyone was up. We went back to the pool at 10:00 and everyone went home to their own houses. I'm glad the girls had fun, but the parents have decided that sleepovers should cease until all 3 girls sleep through the night and don't wet their beds!

Taking a snack break at the pool
Making pizzas
Crab crafts
Picnic breakfast outside
Bathing beauties!!!

Sophie Week Part 1 - Swimming Lessons

We kicked off Sophie Week on Tuesday morning when we headed for the pool for swimming lessons at 10:00. Sophie is doing really well in the pool. She will kick her feet and push off the side, jump in, and go under water. However, for some reason she won't put her face in the water while she is pushing off the side and kicking under water. I've tried to explain to her that it is no scarier than going under and that is really all she needs to do before she is actually swimming. I'm hoping she will sometime before lessons are over. We've been to the pool every morning since Tuesday and stayed for a few hours. It has been fun to play with Sophie in the pool and let her jump in to me without worrying about John Curtis.

I Miss My Baby Boy!

John Curtis is in Weatherford with my parents for the week while we have "Sophie Week". In reality every week at our house is Sophie week, but Mom wanted some time with each grandchild individually so I decided to use the time alone with Sophie to do things we don't get to do when John Curtis is here. I'll blog about Sophie Week separately, but I was putting some pictures on the computer from this past week and I came across these of John Curtis from the hotel in Shreveport. He looks so sweet taking care of Sophie's baby and it just made me miss him so much! Five days didn't seem like a long time when we left him on Monday night, but now I'm counting the days until I get to see him on Saturday.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

8 Years of Marital Bliss!

Today is our eight year anniversary and I can truly say it has been an amazing journey so far. I love being married to Taylor. As I look back on our eight years, I know I am blessed because I can not think of a "bad" year in those eight. We've had some rough patches, but looking back it all seems like a big adventure that has brought us where we are. Our years before kids when Taylor was in seminary were such fun and carefree times. We had so much together time traveling, roller blading, hanging out with friends, and just sitting on the couch watching TV. When Sophie came along, I got to see a whole new wonderful side of Taylor. He is such a great dad and our kids adore him. In Marlin we learned how to balance family, being in the ministry, and some loneliness. Without love, commitment, and a lot of creativity that could have been a rough time in our marriage. I have heard horrible stories about being a preacher's wife, but Taylor really makes it relatively painless (most of the time:). He is home in the evenings to play with the kids and put them to bed and then we still have a few hours together. I'm so thankful for the way he puts us first. Now that we are in San Angelo with two kids and more church responsibilities, life can get pretty crazy. Sometimes I wonder how we'll have enough time for everything, and yet we always find enough - little snippets of each day to be together. I'm so thankful for the memories of the last eight years and cannot wait to see what is ahead. I love you, Taylor!Our Wedding Day - June 3, 2000

Our little garage apartment in Waco
Taylor's graduation from Truett - May 2004
London - Summer '05
D.C. - Summer '07