Thursday, July 31, 2008

John Curtis Week

Earlier in the summer John Curtis went to spend a week with my parents and we had Sophie Week here. This week was Sophie's turn to go to Weatherford and we've had the whole week alone with John Curtis. We really have missed Sophie and her laughter around the house, but it has been nice to be able to focus all of our attention on John Curtis. There has been no arguing, hitting, biting, or trips to time out. During Sophie week we stayed busy and did all of the things that are hard to do when John Curtis is around. John Curtis week has been much less eventful. I decided to use this week to really clean and clean out my house before the fall. For the most part John Curtis has been perfectly content to play along side me or help me clean. We've taken lots of play breaks. We had a play date with our friends Kade and Evan, swam, and went to a baseball game. Mostly we've just played and had a great time. I can't believe how much I love that little boy!
This would have been a great picture if not for the booger in his nose.

Playing with his car at the baseball game.

He thought he wanted to see Casey until he got closer.

He decided to walk down and sit two rows behind Casey. He wouldn't get any closer than that.

Monday, July 28, 2008

My New Green Friend

I consider myself a pretty environmentally friendly person. We recycle newspapers, plastic bottles, and aluminum cans. We use energy saving bulbs. I reuse Ziploc bags whenever I can. I turn off lights when I leave the room and unplug appliances we aren't using. I don't mess with Texas. You see, not all Christians believe Global Warming was made up by "those liberals". I'm getting way too close to discussing politics, a topic which is forbidden on this blog - one of those perks of being a preacher's wife. Anyway, my point is I try to do my part. But for some reason, I have been resisting buying my own shopping bags. I'm not sure why. Maybe I thought it would be too much trouble to remember them. Maybe they're not stylish enough and I am subconsciously concerned about that. Whatever the reason, I didn't want to jump on that bandwagon. I've been seeing people use them more and more though and every time I saw someone walking into the grocery store with their little green bags I would feel a little guilty. So last week I took the plunge. I bought five 99 cent bags. I was pleased not to have those plastic grocery bags in my house that seem to multiply. I felt good about myself. Today when I went grocery shopping, I realized how much I LOVE these bags. Last week's shopping trip was a small one, since I had a nice little stockpile going on thanks to thegrocerygame.com. If you don't know what that is, you should check it out. It is saving us hundreds of dollars every month on groceries. Anyway, this week my list was pretty long. I figured I might need to buy more little green bags. I was pleasantly surprised when I checked out that all of my groceries fit into those 5 bags with plenty of room left over. They have hard bottoms, so they loaded into the van without falling over one each other. My favorite part though was when I got home and began to unload. These bags have these big handles that fit over your shoulder so I was able to unload a week's worth of groceries in TWO trips. That is even with 2 gallons of milk. So, even if you could care less about the environment (maybe YOU don't believe in Global Warming???) you will still love these bags. It sounds like I'm selling them, but I wish someone would have told me how wonderful they were earlier. Take the plunge! Mother Earth will thank you!


Here are some pictures of us fishing with the kids last Friday.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Oh These Long Hot Summer Days

We are in full summer mode. My kids are in their swimsuits more than they are in their clothes. Most of our meals are eaten at the pool. My house is only clean when we are having company. I only do my hair on Sundays. My kids are so dark that I was asked the other day if John Curtis was mixed race. I must admit, however, that the thrill of summertime is starting to wear off. While the kids are amazingly not yet tired of the pool, it doesn't hold the excitement it once did. The only time we can play outside is first thing in the morning which is why we often eat breakfast out there. I try to keep them outside as long as I can, but I was sweating by 9:00 this morning. Just running simple errands is a chore because we are all sweating by the time we pull out of the garage. Our tempers seem to be matching the heat. The kids have really been fighting a lot and I don't seem to have the greatest patience for it. This is why we spend so much time at the pool. Everyone's mood is a little better there. The thing I love about the seasons is that I'm always ready for the next one when it begins. While I'm not quite ready to put up our swimsuits yet, I will be ready for fall, routine, and yes - MOM'S DAY OUT when it gets here. I'll try to soak up as many rays as I can in the few weeks we have left.
Showing off blue Koolaid tongues
Did I mention we aren't fixing hair this summer????

Cooling off with some ice cream
Of course John Curtis eats his ice cream with his hands

Can you tell Sophie likes this shirt? The first picture was taken a different day. Uncle Erick brought her this shirt and one that says Little Miss Giggles and she wants to wear them ALL THE TIME. And because it is too hot to argue, I let her. Does anyone remember these books from when we were little?

Friday, July 18, 2008

An Overwhelming Week

This week truly has overwhelmed me. It was one of those weeks that just had too much "stuff" to fit into it. It was VBS week and I was teaching 3rd and 4th graders and my Sunday school class was in charge of the carnival. I had two major papers to get done for my graduate class, both of which involved assessing some actual students. I was trying to organize workers and childcare for the soup kitchen on Saturday. Both my kids had to have shots. To top it all off, Taylor has been out of town for the entire week. Thankfully my mom came to the rescue. She gave up her entire week to come help me out with the kids. She was a life saver. Even with her here I felt overwhelmed. I can't imagine how I would have done it on my own. I don't like chaos. I'm one of those people who likes to organize my life into little compartments. I have my school work time, my house work time, my play time, my church obligations. I don't like it when they all blend together and I don't know what to do next. Having kids has taught me to lighten up a lot, but I still like order. I strive for a simple life and try not to saturate our family with commitments, but sometimes there is just no getting around it and chaos reigns. I won't claim to have had a good attitude through it all. In my mind I know that things really aren't that bad and the madness is temporary. My emotions don't always know that though and usually they win out. So during most of this week I was overwhelmed in a negative way. However, last night as I allowed myself a long candlelit bubble bath to relax, I reflected on my week and I became overwhelmed by God's goodness in my life. All these responsibilities that were weighing down on me come from such deep blessings. I have the privilege of being part of a church that tries to minister to the least of these, even though at times it is a lot of work. I have the resources and support to continue my education. I have two beautiful children that I have the joy of caring for. I have a husband who is such a part of me that I miss his presence deeply. Not many people have a mom like I do, either. I cannot even count the ways my mom helped me this week. She took the kids on outings to the park and the pool so I could work on my papers. She watched the kids as I ran to friends' houses to do reading assessments on their kids. She let me sleep in every morning and got up with John Curtis. She watered my grass and peach trees. She held my screaming kids down as they got shots. She helped Sophie pick out books at the library and spent time reading them to her. She took me out to eat many times this week, which is a big treat for me. Every night when Sophie and I walked through the door at 8:45 from VBS, the house was peaceful and clean and John Curtis was sleeping. She mopped my floors AND my garage. I know! You're jealous! Not many people can spend a full week with their mother and feel sadness when she drives away. I did. Finally, I'm overwhelmed with thankfulness that every week is not this overwhelming! Thanks Mom! I love you! Taylor, come home NOW!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

4th Birthday Party

Sophie had a great weekend with family and friends. Both sets of grandparents, Aunt DeeDee and Uncle Erick (whom John Curtis now thinks is Batman) came in on Friday. We had a nice family dinner and Sophie got to open presents from the family. She loved them all, but her favorite was probably the pink scooter Uncle Erick got her. 4 must be the age for Barbies because on Thursday she had 0 and now she has 5. She has really enjoyed playing with all of them. On Saturday morning we had a swimming party. We did a beach theme with a sand castle cake and cupcakes that were supposed to be sand buckets. You be the judge :) Sophie had a great time swimming with her friends. We celebrated Poppa's birthday last night at Road House. The birthday fun is finally all over and VBS starts tonight. Taylor had to go out of town for the WHOLE week today, so my mom was gracious enough to stay and help out. I love summertime!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sophie is 4!

I'm not quite sure how this happened but our little girl turned 4 today. She awoke saying she felt bigger, so we measured her. We hadn't measured her on the wall since January and she has grown a good 2 inches since then. She thought she had grown that much overnight and couldn't wait to see her friends at the pool so they could see how big she was.
I made blueberry muffins for breakfast and she blew out her four candles.
Her friend Quade who swims with us most mornings got Sophie some princess figurines. They were a big hit and all ended up in the pool for the rest of the morning.
Taylor brought pizza to the pool for all our friends for lunch.
After rest time we went to the movies to see WALL E. It was pretty cute. Sophie has on the cute outfit Miss Cindy got her. She even got her matching bows. You can't see it in the picture, but it was really cute. Miss Cindy also gave her some princess books with a C.D. that Sophie has been listening to all day. I hear it going right now as Sophie is going to bed. Great gifts Miss Cindy!
We had shrimp Alfredo for dinner, which is one of Sophie's favorite. Several friends brought gifts over tonight too. Miss Sybil gave her a butterfly book that tells the story of the monarchs that travel through San Angelo every fall on their way to Mexico. Miss Sybil's backyard is a great place to see all the beautiful butterflies. Then Miss Delores and Mr. Gail brought her a Fancy Nancy dress up outfit. You know that was a hit! She had a great birthday and we haven't even had her party yet!

Just a few things about Sophie....It's hard to describe your own children in words because you can never convey how you see them and feel about them to others. I'll try though. Sophie is a joy. She is kind, compassionate, sensitive, dramatic. She enjoys life and often says, "I'm a lucky girl." She loves easily. She has a special place in her heart for her Daddy and is very protective of John Curtis. She adores her grandparents and is always excited to see DeeDee and Uncle Erick. She also loves her church family - the adults and kids that are her extended family here. She loves to learn new things and is just a little sponge right now. She likes to try to figure out how to spell new words and is working on writing her letters. She loves books, music, dancing, and dress up. It's fun to watch her act things out now. If she's watching Beauty and the Beast, she'll grab a book and a basket and become Belle. She loves the seasons and looking forward to all the special days we celebrate. It is hard to watch her become more independent, but I'm thankful for that as well. I can truly say that Sophie has filled mine and Taylor's life with joy each day of these last 4 years. She is the child we prayed desperately for and God gave us immeasurably more than we could have ever hoped for. Happy birthday baby girl!

Bittersweet Thoughts

Today is definitely a very sweet day for our family. 4 years ago today our sweet baby girl was born. Sophie has been a joy to our family since that day. However, July 8 is also a painful day. 3 years ago today I lost my sweet friend Kim. I still remember exactly what I was doing when the call came. I was cleaning my house, getting ready for family to come for Sophie's 1st birthday. It was the kind of news that literally takes your legs out from under you. There are those people in your life that wedge themselves so deeply into your heart that when they are gone there is an empty space that always hurts. Kim was that kind of friend. Anyone who knew her will understand how hard it is to describe her. She was beautiful, confident, full of life, and FUN. If you were going somewhere with Kim, you knew you were going to have fun. She was bold and not afraid to witness to anyone. She was a great mother and wife. She made you feel important no matter what was going on in her life. Kim was about 10 years older than me and worked with our college group. Now that I am a wife and a mother I am amazed at how selfless she was. No matter when I dropped by or called she had time for me. When we moved to Waco and I started teaching I would often come home to a message from Kim on my answering machine. She would say she was out running errands and just wanted me to know she was thinking of me. I loved Kim Evans. Even now, 3 years later, I still can't make sense of her death. Some people will tell you everything happens for a reason. I think some things just happen. I'm not saying God can't work good out of tragedy, but the tragedy itself is still not good and no reason can be found in it. Kim should still be with her beautiful family. When we were in Memphis we were having dinner with some of our friends who had lost one of their twins hours after it was born. They had also had a miscarriage prior to that. They now have 2 children and we were talking about how many children they want. My friend said, "I always thought I wanted 4, and we DID have 4. I should still have 4 and that just ticks me off." What an honest expression of grief. Some things that happen are not for the best and they don't make sense. Kim's death is one of those things. It hits me when I can't sleep in the middle of the night and there is little peace to be found. For some reason, we can't have the joy of loving someone without the possibility of the pain of losing them. This world is such a strange combination of the joy and pain, just like this day for me. I just pray that the joy outweighs the pain until we are truly home where Kim is and there is no more pain and death. I had to get these thoughts out. I'll write about Sophie and her special day tonight when all our birthday activities are over.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Lake Day

Yesterday our Sunday school class met out at the lake for an afternoon of fun. The kids played on the playground, chased bugs, climbed trees, and went fishing. Sophie also got to ride in a boat. Afterward she said it was fun. Her face in the picture explains how she felt during the ride. We always have so much fun hanging out with our church friends. What a great afternoon!

Friday, July 4, 2008

4th of July

We had a fun day today with our friends the Barkers. We began the day by taking part in a kids' parade in one of the neighborhoods in town. Sophie and the twins rode their bikes and we pulled John Curtis in the wagon. Then we went to the Lily Ponds in town where there are beautiful flowers, ponds full of lilies, and trails where the girls went "exploring". We all went home for lunch and rest and then met at a friend's pool. Our wonderful friend was out of town and said that we could use it, so we took some food to eat over there and swam and had a great time. I'm always amazed at how well the three girls play together. The Barkers are truly a gift to our family. Happy 4th of July!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sandlin Vacation 2008 Part 4: Vicksburg

After a full week at the beach we left Gulf Shores on Saturday and drove to Vicksburg, Mississippi to visit with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins for a few days. The kids had fun swimming in Aunt Carol's pool and riding their golf cart. We also got to see my cousin Kirk baptized while we were there. I didn't get as many pictures as I would have liked. Since by grandparents are still not back in their house, we moved around a lot and it was a little crazy. Half the time I didn't know where my camera was. I wish I had taken a picture of Grandma with the kids. We left Vicksburg on Monday morning and got to Weatherford around 3:30. That was the hardest and longest part of the whole trip. The kids were so ready to get out, but I was ready to get home. I waited until about 7:00 and we got the kids bathed and in their P.J.s. Then we set out once again for the LAST time (for a while). Thankfully the kids fell asleep and we got home around 10:30. I don't think I've ever been so happy to be home. So after 14 days and 6 states, Sandlin Vacation 2008 is over. What a great 2 weeks!

Sandlin Vacation 2008 Part 3: The Beach

It's good to be home! We really did have a great vacation though. I left off in Memphis so I have a lot of updating to do. Taylor and I left Memphis early on Saturday morning and met my family (parents and sister) and the kids. It was so good to see the kids again. We made it to Gulf Shores by late afternoon. The kids were so excited to see the beach. The Hamiltons all pulled in shortly after us. For those of you who don't know the Hamiltons, they have been close family friends since we were kids. Pat and Sharon have 2 girls, Carol and Julie. I can't count how many vacations we went on together growing up. This is the first one we have attempted with kids, but it was so much fun. We stayed in a duplex right on the beach, so each family had their own space, but we could share meals together. Julie is married to David and they have Tate (almost 5) and Grant (15 months). Grant and John Curtis ignore each other, but Tate and Sophie are pretty much in love (most of the time). Carol is married to Jimmy and they are expecting their first baby, little Chloe in October. Most of us stayed the entire week, but Julie, David and their kids, and Taylor flew back home on Wednesday. All the kids loved the beach the first few days. John Curtis would have stayed out there all day and night if we would let him. He loved the waves, the sand, the sea shells, all of it. Sophie loved it the first few days. After Tate left she wasn't as thrilled to be out there all day. She didn't like the sand in her swimsuit. She said she wasn't "comfy". We could usually get her having fun though and she would forget all about that. One day Carol and I took Sophie and Tate on a dolphin cruise. We lucked out because we saw a lot of dolphins. They were right beside the boat and easy for the kids to see. Everyone had a great time. Thanks Mom and Dad for a great week at the beach!