Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Morgan's Wonderland

I have to tell you about this amazing place we went to on Sunday. It is called Morgan's Wonderland and it is a brand new theme park in San Antonio that was built primarily for people with special needs. The philanthropist who built the park has a teenage daughter named Morgan who has a special need and he wanted to design a place where kids could go and fully participate regardless of their situation.

Not only is everything very accessible, but you have to make a reservation to go to the park so the operators can best accommodate everyone there. It is free for kids with special needs and just $5 for those who come with them. We had a great time there Sunday. I keep thinking how cool it is that this dad took what life had given him and then used that to make the world a better place for others. Apparently, people from cities all over the US are visiting Morgan's Wonderland to try and replicate it in their home town. Who knows, maybe they will be all over the country in a few years. Wouldn't that be amazing!

Here are a some pictures from our day at Morgan's Wonderland.

The view of Morgan's Wonderland from the train

Playing in the virtual grocery store

Ruthie shooting water cannons

More water features

They have an enormous playground

Sam doing the weather

A little virtual driving.

I am not sure what you call these screens, but they were all over the room and very cool.

My girl on the merry go round

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Fabulous Getaway!



This weekend we took a mini-vacation to San Antonio because Jack had a 4 day weekend. We decided to try out the new JW Marriott Hill Country after I found a great special online. To make a long story short, Trent called and talked to someone who gave him an upgrade because he has mega Marriott points. I was expecting a little larger room with maybe a love seat that folds out into a bed or something. So you can imagine my surprise when they gave us keys to 2 rooms.

I was so excited at the idea of being able to spread out a little and felt really blessed. Well, the next surprise blew me away because I opened the door to this! The bellman must have thought that we won a charity drawing or something because my luggage and clothing did not match the rack rate for this room or shall I say suite! :)





These don't even include the 2 bathrooms and full kitchen!!!

I struggled at first with whether to view this as being lucky or as a blessing. I really try not to get caught up in defining my "being blessed" by my bank account or material possessions because I believe that God is a whole lot more interested in the state of my heart than my comfort.

However, I also know that God has in many ways revealed Himself to me as provider and He is a God who loves to give good gifts to His children.

"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Matt 7:11

Can I tell you something about myself though? I am not a very good gift receiver. But I know this and I did not want to miss giving God credit for blessing us in this way. I had so many opportunities this weekend to look over the view and marvel at His creation. I wonder if He just wanted me to slow down and take a minute to enjoy Him.

So today I am thankful for a God who loves to bless His children. I still believe that He is more interested in my heart than my comfort, but I can also picture him watching with anticipation to see my expression when I opened the door of that room because He loves me that much.


Both boys cried when we left. Here is Sam with his "I don't want to ever leave the Marriott face" and a few more pictures from our fabulous getaway.








Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Meeting of Old and New Friends

Friday night we met 2 very important people for dinner. The first one, Karleigh Mei is the adopted daughter of Jenn who has the blog "Love Like Crazy". The second, Anna Bei, is the adopted daughter of Traci.

I followed Jenn's blog closely while we were waiting on Ruthie and have learned a lot from their family and their blog. Traci, mom of Anna Bei, found me through the Yahoo group for Ruthie's orphanage. Ruthie and Anna Bei shared a room together in China and we even have a picture of them together.

Ruthie was real shy at first, but warmed up after a little dinner. I am not sure she remembered Anna Bei or at least she didn't run to her and hug her like a long lost friend. It was great to see all of these girls together. I hope we will have many more chances to connect as the girls get older.


*This is Anna Bei, Ruthie, Karleigh Mei, and Anna Bei's sister Marin

*Sweet Anna Bei "Bei Bei" playing it safe from her chair

*Anna Bei and Ruthie in China

*Anna Bei and Ruthie in TEXAS
*Anna Bei with my crazy girl

*We discovered that Ruthie is not the only one who likes to pose for the picture. Karleigh Mei can turn it on for a camera too. Her sister, Lexi, takes great pictures of her at "Love Like Crazy". Both girls were very good at striking a pose. See below..



*Jack was smitten with miss Karleigh Mei. Can you blame him? What a cutie!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lessons From A Play Date- 5 Best and Worst Things to Say to Your Kids

My kids play with the neighbors, their friends at church, and their friends at school, but we really haven't had many true play dates at our house. This past Wednesday we picked up Jack's friend Kyle and brought him home with us for a real tried and true planned play date. I think Jack and I were both equally nervous and excited. I so wanted this to go well for him because Kyle is a great kid and we really like his family.

Immediately, I found myself snooping into their activities and several times I wanted to step in a correct Jack as he would tell Kyle what he could and could not play with. I felt the need to show him how to be a good host and it was killing me to hear him occasionally say things that I thought might make Kyle feel anything but completely welcomed.

After Kyle left I began questioning if I should have stepped in more or just let them work things out more. It really wasn't anything big at all, but it wasn't perfect. I called my wonderful sister in law to discuss how we as mom's are supposed to handle this new freedom of our children's and she gave me great advice about letting the kids work it out during the moment and then saving my teaching time for before bed. We laughed at how we are so much harder on our first borns and how we hoped that one day they wouldn't hold that against us. That prompted her to share a piece of literature with me that I thought was really interesting and worth sharing with you.

5 Best and Worst Things to Say to Your Kids:

5 WORST:
1. "Act Your Age"- Because you are issuing a blanket criticism instead of acknowledging why they may have been acting that way.

2. "I Was Only Teasing"- You should never disguise insults with humor or teach your child to. If you don't mean it, don't say it.

3. "Why can't you be more like your sister (or brother)"- Feeds sibling rivalry and makes them feel like 2nd class.

4. "Don't run or you will fall"- You don't want to communicate that you expect him to fail. Give more specifics like "your shoe laces are untied". I think this can be viewed in a much bigger picture too.

5. "What did I just tell you?"- Communicates that they are too stupid to remember and then if they do answer, it is viewed as sarcasm. Choose your words better and communicate why you are frustrated.

If you felt convicted by these, trust me, you are not alone!

5 BEST:
1. "Please make a decision"- communicates that they are responsible for their own actions

2. "I love you but I don't like that behavior"- separate the deed from the doer

3. "I want you to help me solve my problem"- he sees that his input is invited and is less likely to see you as his adversary. This was advised too for when you want your child to quit something that is annoying you.

4. "What did you really want to tell her"- A redirection for inappropriate reactions to conflict. Helps them develop an emotional language.

5. "Different people have different needs"- helps you deal with the complaints of lack of fairness.


TODAY'S SIDE NOTE:
Ruthie and I got away today to my aunt and uncle's house on the lake and of course we worked in a little photo shoot. Tomorrow we are going to feed the ducks and then go into town for some shopping.







Monday, March 22, 2010

Thighs

I have never been a fan of thighs. In fact, most of my insecurities growing up had to do with yes- my thighs. I knew from a very young age, standing in front of the mirror in dance class, that I was in the unlucky gene pool when it came to getting thighs. My dad used to tell me that I had "dancer legs" but somehow all those other dancers didn't have the same legs. Hmm. Bad genetics.

Anyway, I share this bit of insight into my insecurities with you because God has completely redeemed my view of thighs. How you might ask? It is through one beautiful little Chinese girl with the most wonderful little thighs I have ever seen. When we got Ruthie 8 months ago she had skinny little bird legs. I even had to go shopping for newborn shorts in China because she was too skinny to hold up the ones I brought with me. But since then, thanks to the bacon and whole milk diet, my little empress has grown her a set of thighs that I could squeeze all day.

I never would have imagined a day that I would have loved a set of thighs, but oh my goodness that is only because I could have never imagined a child with thighs as cute as Ruthie's. Thank you Jesus for chubby little girl thighs.

She would probably never forgive me if I showed you a picture of just her legs, but if you don't tell her I told you, you can scroll down and see those thighs in her little bathing suit picture on Friday March 19th. Shhhhh


Also, I do have this super cute pic to show you in her new Easter PJs with our bunny Baylor.


Memorial Box Monday- My little 6 week old


Some blogger friends of mine have started picking Monday's as a time to remember and record the things God has done for them. I love this idea! Can I say though that I have a HORRIBLE memory (which is one reason I blog). My lifetime best bud Rebecca can remember what color shoes I wore on the first day of 2nd grade and I can't even remember who my teacher was. So this Memorial Box Monday thing will be a great way to record these stories for my kids (Trent just may have to write most of them) :)

Memorial Box Monday #1

Sam was a sick baby. He cried all the time and could projectile vomit across the room (almost). We saw his Dr. several times and he would tell me that it was reflux and would give me the normal recommendations. One Saturday morning (he was 6 weeks old), Sam woke up with a dry diaper. I knew this was odd and called the pediatrician and said I was bringing him in. The Dr. acted a little annoyed that I was bringing him again for reflux and decided to order an upper GI just to prove it. He said I would most likely have to wait until Monday, but I could walk over to the hospital and just see. He also wrote a prescription for reflux medicine for us to go ahead and start.

I walked into radiology, told my sob story to the receptionist, and the people said sure if I didn't mind waiting that they would try to work us in. An hour later we had the upper GI done. I started to gather my things to leave (figuring they would call my Dr. with the results) when the Radiologist came around the corner and informed me that I wasn't going anywhere. He said, "this baby is going into surgery today. The valve below his stomach is completely closed". I panicked and called Trent.

Trent called the cell phone of a good friend of ours who is a surgeon. That friend just happened to be in the hospital and right around the corner from me. He came around, looked at Sam, scheduled an operating room, and had Sam in surgery within 2 hours. He said that if we had waited until Monday, Sam would have been severely dehydrated and would have required several more days of fluid before he could have operated. The anesthesiologist told us later that day that he had never seen a kid able to go right into that surgery and usually they were much sicker by the time the stenosis was discovered.

I believe that God took care of my baby that day and orchestrated the events perfectly to allow him to get the care he needed. The other crazy part was that Trent was in the final 2 for a pastor position there in Waco and while he was gathering his things to come to the hospital, the committee knocked on our door to tell him that he did not get the job. God gave us the next 3 days alone in a hospital room to talk about what He had taught us through that process and what that had taught Trent about his desires to be a senior pastor. Those were the stepping stones to where we are now.


That same big boy now almost 5 years later

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Temporary Warmth

Well the warm snap was a temporary tease because a cold front blew through today and it is cold again. I even heard that it is snowing in Dallas. NUTS! Anyway, Trent and the kids did get in a couple good bike rides before the temperatures dropped again. We had to borrow a helmet for Ruthie and I think it must have been a little big.


"Uh dad, I don't think this hat goes like this."

All better and all smiles

And they're off and so is the helmet almost

A pit stop for helmet surgery

And they're off again...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Water Fun!

We are finally experiencing some warmer weather here in Houston so the other day, the neighborhood kids decided to have a water gun fight in my backyard.

"Uh mom, the boys found the water"


"OK I may be changed, but I am not going outside"

The battle was fierce...

and positions were taken...


Then Ruthie finally left the security of the doorway, but she hid out in the fort until Zachary the neighbor surrendered his water gun.


She came back inside and used that right foot to make sure those wet boys stayed outside where they belong.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

YEE HAW YALL!

For this Black and White Wednesday I decided to share a little Texas tradition with you.

Growing up in northeast Texas we had a Fair and Rodeo once a year for about a week. This is a regular for most small Texas towns. Well just like they say "everything is bigger in Texas", I can say everything is also bigger in Houston.

In Houston the fair and rodeo comes to town for several weeks and takes over. They bring in big name concerts every night like The Jonas Brothers, Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, etc. Plus they have tons of rides, food, and rodeo activity. It is a real nightmare for anyone who dislikes crowds.

Have you ever seen a real trail ride? If you live in Houston you have because horses and covered wagons come from all over the state (and maybe country) to the rodeo. They ride down major highways as they make their way to the park. Finally local businesses and schools all participate in the excitement. My work had a rodeo day where we were all expected to dress in our rodeo wear and the kids all had rodeo days too, complete with petting zoos.

Here are a few pictures from Sam and Ruthie's rodeo day at preschool. There are less pictures of Ruthie because she stayed clear of the animals.







This one of Ruthie was taken by Trent holding Ruthie on his hip and trying to get the animals in the background. She was happy because someone finally picked her up.


Ruthie and her friend taking their place outside the fence.