Monday, September 30, 2013

InstaSeptember {Part III}

InstaSeptember {Part III}

I got a new phone and I'm so happy about the quality of photos that it takes.  You can follow my instagram feed here. @redbirdblue

Two of the first photos I took with my new phone.  Of course, they are of my sweet boys.

Will feeding our fish, Mike.

Will and Ben before church.  I can't help but take photos of them in their Sunday best.

On the first day of Fall we went to a birthday party with a water slide.  Gotta love Texas weather!

The architect who is designing our home met with us to discuss any changes before he completes the final plan.  We cleaned like crazy to get the house in shape before he came over.  I had to document the moment because it's so rare.  Seriously, a clean house is a great feeling.

 We made a trip to visit my grandma and great-aunt in the nursing home and had breakfast and McDonald's.  We met some of the nicest old people at McDonald's that morning.  It's so sweet how the elderly love young children.  I'm glad Will and Ben have grown up around the elderly because they are able to be polite and kind when they interact with them.  We didn't end up seeing anyone at the nursing home that day, but it was still a good trip.

On Saturday for the first time ever I went to the Johnson St. Smokehouse for some BBQ.  I've driven past this establishment my entire life and never stopped.  The BBQ was good.  The only regret I have is that I didn't get some peach cobbler too.

These pumpkins and gourds were for sale at Walmart.  I was impressed at how good they looked.  Yay for Fall!  It's my favorite season.  I really wanted to buy the entire bin, but Mark wouldn't have any part of that.

I started getting our front porch ready for fall until this creepy spider scared me away.  My father-in-law came by later in the day and caught it and moved it to a different location.  Gives me the heebie-jeebies just looking at it.  My skin is crawling right now.

My silly boys after church on Sunday.  We had a great day of worship and enjoyed spending time together as a family that afternoon.  I seriously never get tired of hanging out with these guys (and their dad too!).

We even squeezed in a quick bike ride.  Ben is not liking that Will can ride his bike faster than him.  He's asking for a bigger bike with bigger wheels so he can go faster.  Ben might inherit his poor sportsmanship from his mommy.

Me. Ben. Selfie.

It's been a great month.  
As you can tell from InstaSeptember {Part I} and {Part II}.  

Bring on October!

Friday, September 20, 2013

InstaSeptember {Part II}

InstaSeptember {Part II}
{Part I} was last week.

Just a few things we've been up to this week.

I turned 36 on Monday and the sweetest birthday card and Starbucks gift card arrived in the mail this week from my dear friend Kathleen.  Kathleen and I became friends through WIWW and have kept in touch for several years through blogging, instragram and facebook.  I'm thankful for blog friends who have turned into real friends.

I had a special visitor after school this week. 

My sweet boys before we went to church Sunday night.

There's a new Star Wars Angry Birds app.  I know what these two will be doing this weekend.  As a boy mom, I just don't get Star Wars.  My boys do, and they love it.  

Here's a pic from my birthday.  I've already put it on the blog, but I was so proud of this photo.  The boys all posed and cooperated.

I forgot to put this in InstaSeptember {Part I}.  We bought a fish!  His name is Mike (as in Mike Wazowski from Monster Inc. and Monsters U).  The boys named him so I'm going to go with it.  I bought another fish for my classroom at school.  I teach Texas History so I told the kids that at school the name had to have some sort of historical significance.  We had 3 choices--Davy (for David Crockett), Bowie (for Jim Bowie), or Sully (Ok, that was sort of reference to Monster Inc. since the boys chose Mike my students wanted to name him Sully.  I got creative and found a way to make it Texas History relevant.  I attended Texas A&M and there's a statue of Sul Ross by the Academic Building.  He was a Texas Ranger, a governor of Texas, and the President of Texas A&M. So we made a stretch and applied it to him since he was important to Texas history and went with Sully.)

life rearranged

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Yesterday was my 36th birthday. 
Mark, Will, Ben, and my in-laws took me out to eat after school.  I chose McAlister's Deli because we didn't want to stay out late since it was a school night.  Before we went to eat, the boys all posed for a photo without a fuss.  They were extra nice about it since it was my birthday.  Usually no one cooperates when it's time for photos so their good attitudes were definitely a birthday present.  This photo was taken in the backyard at my in-law's.  Doesn't their yard look amazing?  They've been working hard on a backyard makeover and I think they've done an awesome job so far.

We also did a lot of fun things over the weekend to celebrate my birthday.  If you follow my instagram feed @redbirdblue then you saw all the good times.

On Saturday we ate breakfast at Cracker Barrel and then visited my grandma at the nursing home.

Mark and I always share the French toast breakfast.  It's so much food.  I can't imagine one person eating all of it.  That's basically the only meal we eat for the day because I'm always stuffed.

The boys wore their A&M jerseys in support of our Ags.  We were hoping for a victory over Bama, but we just ran out of time.  I still love my Aggies!  Gig'em, Ags!

Mama Winnie was having a good day.  I'm always thankful for good days instead of bad ones. 

On Friday after school, we headed to Watters Creek to have pizza and dessert at Grimaldi's.  Y'all know that's our favorite pizza place.

How convenient!  There's an Anthropologie just down the street from Grimaldi's.  

Pic with my guys at Watters Creek

My purchases from Anthro--pretty note cards, Volcano candle in a mercury glass jar, and a beautiful copy of one of my favorite books--Pride & Prejudice.  Happy Birthday to me! 

I redeemed my free Starbucks drink for my birthday.  It was so hot, but I still ordered the Pumpkin Spice Latte.  I just cranked up the a/c and pretended that it was cooler weather.  

Even if it's still over 90 degrees outside, I couldn't resist these cookies.  So delish with hot tea. 

Thankful each year for another birthday and the opportunity to spend it with the ones I love. 
It really is a wonderful life.

Monday, September 16, 2013

36 Random Facts About Me on My Birthday

I'm 36 today! 

In the past, on my 33 and 34 birthdays I've written lists with random information about me.  They included the basic info like I'm left-handed, I went to Texas A&M, Fall is my favorite season, blue is my favorite color, I love to travel, etc.  I'm having to get more and more random the older I get because my lists are getting longer, and I've already used up my go-to trivia, ha! 

Surely I'm not the only one who likes reading these lists.  I don't expect people to be waiting in expectation for my birthday each year so they can read this information about me, but I'm fascinated by these lists.  I love learning more about my blog friends.  Hopefully you don't mind this all-about-me-post and you might even find that we have a lot in common. 

Before I start my list, you must know that Mark, Will and Ben are the center of my world. 
I love them so very much!  I am blessed to have these special guys in my life.

Now, on to my list.
1. Top 5 favorite cities that I've been to:
Seattle, NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, Austin.
Mark and I have been to all of those cities together, with the exception of San Francisco.  I went there several times in my early twenties when I lived on the West Coast.  Seattle is special because I lived there just after I graduated from college.  NYC is where Mark and I took our honeymoon.  Chicago was one of our favorite family vacations with both boys.  Austin is the coolest city in Texas.  As an Aggie, I feel like a traitor admitting that, but Mark and I both love Austin.
I took this photo of San Fran when I was driving back to Texas after leaving Seattle.
San Francisco 2002
Seattle 2004
The view of Seattle from Alki Beach.

Seattle 2004
The guy behind us is sitting where Tom Hanks sat in Sleepless in Seattle.

Seattle 2004
View of the city from the Space Needle
NYC 2002
I have the craziest look in this photo!  I'm obviously super happy about being on my honeymoon!

Chicago 2010

Austin 2008
Hula Hut

Austin 2008
Hula Hut 
Austin 2008

2.  I really like lists. As proven by #1 above where I created a list within a list.  Lists help me mentally organize things.

3.  I didn't become a coffee drinker until this last year.  I was always a hot tea person.  So finally at the age of 35, I found out what I'd been missing.  I'd always enjoyed the occasional coffee drink from Starbucks, but as far as buying my own coffee and having it at home, I was never interested.  I starting drinking coffee at work, and then I bought a Keurig.  I'm usually only a one cup a day kind of girl, but I do enjoy it each morning, especially when it's cold outside.

4. I started teaching junior high social studies and Texas History in the 2001-2002 school year.  This is the start of my 13th year of teaching.  I'm still in the exact same classroom almost 13 years later.  I can't imagine doing anything else in the world.  I know the teaching profession is not perfect, but it's perfect for me.
5.  I'm 5'5", but I have freakishly short legs so that makes me feel shorter.  I usually have to have pants and jeans hemmed so they don't drag the floor.

6. I like clothes.  I always have liked shopping.  That was one of the things that my grandma and I always did to bond.  She liked to shop too.  She was always willing to take me to the store to find a new dress for church.  To this day, I still have clothes that are basically "church clothes" and I have the same mindset when I shop for my boys.  I think, "Oh, this would be nice for them to wear to church.".  Also, I inherited my thriftiness from my grandma.  I hardly ever buy anything that is full-price.  Show me a clearance rack and I'm all over it!

7.  Mark doesn't have a problem with me shopping.  I would never make a purchase that I knew wasn't being responsible with our money.  Also, I never hide purchases I make from him.  With that said, I sometimes complain to him about other ways we spend our money (the utility bill). I'm by nature not bothered by the heat.  Mark is the exact opposite.  He has no tolerance for it so he runs the air conditioner at a much cooler temperature than I would.  I've been known to sneak by the thermostat and turn it up a few degrees.  This just wasn't working for him.  He finally broke it down in terms I could understand.  He said, "You spend money on clothes, and I spend money on air conditioning."  Enough said.  I've never messed with the thermostat again.  It's a compromise that works for both of us.  That's why we have a happy marriage.

8. I have a fear of any creature that scurries--mice and lizards are at the top.
9. If I had to pick 5 restaurants to eat at for the rest of my life, then I'd choose: Chipotle, Grimaldi's Pizza, McAlister's Deli, Chick-fil-A, and TaMolly's (it's Tex-Mex).

10.  Our family has been on a frozen yogurt kick for about 3 years.  We can't get enough of the tart, frozen goodness!  We started out with Pink Berry and then became huge fans of Yumilicious and Sweet Frog.  My favorite frozen yogurt toppings are mochi and fresh fruit.

11.  I really like being a "boy mom".  This summer I embraced America's favorite pastime and learned to love baseball.  Mark's always loved baseball and now Will is a huge fan.  Now I can watch a game and enjoy it. In the past, my experience at baseball games included people watching and trips to the concession stand and gift shop.
This photo is from the last Rangers game we attended on September 1.

This is the first Rangers game Mark and I attended together in the Spring of 2005.

12. I have gray hair now!  I didn't notice it until this year.  When it gets worse, I'll definitely be dyeing my hair.
 13.  In the last couple of years, I've rediscovered my love of reading.  I prefer to read on the iPad using the Nook or Kindle app.  I love a good classic, but I'm not ashamed to admit that chick lit is my favorite genre.  I really like books by Emily Giffin, Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Weiner, Kristin Hannah,  and Elin Hilderbrand.

14.  If I could spend the day doing anything I wanted, I'd float in a swimming pool while reading a book.

15.  I really don't like surprises. I'm not angry if I'm surprised, but a surprise doesn't make something more special.

16.  I don't like suspenseful movies.  I have a bad habit of going online and reading the plot synopsis, including the spoilers, of most movies that I watch.  It's annoying to my husband, but he loves me despite this flaw, and will still watch movies with me.

17.  I have terrible eyesight.  I wear contacts and keep my glasses on my nightstand so I can grab them as soon as I wake up.

18. I cry when others cry.  I cry when I read emotional books and when I watch sad movies.

19.  I'm sentimental.

20. I collect milk glass.

21.  I take a lot of photos.  I'm sure you're shocked!  Since I'm a blogger I know that wasn't a big surprise.  I have a routine that I strictly follow before any photos I've taken are deleted.  First, I add the photos to my computer and organize them in folders by date.  Next, I upload the photos to a website like Shutterfly or Snapfish.  Finally, I back up the photos on my external hard drive.  Once that is done I will format my SD cards and erase all the old photos.  I've been known to get behind almost an entire year because my photo method is so OCD.  It usually takes me several days to get it all organized, but so far I haven't lost any precious photos.  (Knock on wood!!!)

22.  I like to exercise.  I started an exercise group/class in August 2012.  The workout was at 5a.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday.  I love the workouts but the early mornings are rough.  I took the summer off so I could stay up late and enjoy time with my family.  It's been a challenge to get back in the routine of getting up so early.  I'm hoping that I can find the motivation to keep going.

23.  My two favorite holidays are Halloween and Christmas.  Odd combination.

24.  I can remember turning 16 like it was yesterday.  My grandpa took me to get my drivers license.  I can't believe that was 20 years ago!

25.  I don't keep in touch with very many friends from high school.  Most of my life-long friends were made in college or after college.  Angela at Unexpected Elegance is one of those special people.

26.  Two of my best friends from ETBU are Kelly and Andrea.  We constantly keep a group text message convo going.  Our discussions are always random--sometimes serious and other times silly.  We're all busy, but that little bit of communication is a bright spot in my day.

27.  I didn't have a smart phone until May 2011.  I don't know how we survived without it.  I'm joking!

28.  On one of my previous lists, I told you that Claire Elizabeth was our girl name, but since we had boys we didn't use it.  Other girl names that were runner-ups included Catherine, Caroline, Anna, Lily, and Olivia.

29. I like to camp, but I'm terrified of wild animals.  I once thought I'd want to do backcountry hikes, but the fear of bears, snakes, and other animals has made me realize I'll take the comfort (and safety) of a lodge instead.  We're still interested in going to as many National Parks as we can, but I'll stay on the well traveled paths and take in the beauty of nature from a scenic overlook.

I don't think I've ever blogged about our trip to Big Bend National Park that we took Spring Break 2004.  Here are a couple of photos from that trip.

30.  I've been to 38 states in the United States.

31.  I've seen a falling star.

32.  I like cats.  As a child, I was afraid of dogs.  Now that I'm older, I like dogs, but I still prefer cats.  When I was little I would dress my kittens up in baby clothes and push them around in a baby carriage.  This is true.  Those poor kittens.  (The story about the kittens in baby clothes is about as random as it gets.  Sorry if you've read all this way, and now you think I'm a total weirdo!)

33.  Building our future home is closer to being a reality.  We've approved the floor plan and the architect is currently working on the exterior elevations.  We don't plan to start building for a few more years, but I'm beyond excited to have accomplished this much so far.

34.  The only way I can think of describing our future home is that it's a New-Old-Farmhouse.  It reminds me of my great-grandmother's house in the country.  Just a simple, white farmhouse.

35. If I had to describe where I spend most of my time, it would have to be with family, teaching at school, and activities that involve our church.

36.  My faith is really important to me, and I've struggled with how to share it on this blog.  Two posts that I've been really proud of sharing are here. 
This post is about sharing the Gospel. This post is about Bible study. 

 Thanks for reading and hanging out here!  You guys are the best!

Friday, September 13, 2013

InstaSeptember {Part I}

September is always a big month.  We are getting into the routine of going back to work (my husband and I are both teachers) and adjusting to Will and Ben's school schedules.  Also, my birthday also falls in the middle of the month.  I thought I'd do two InstaFridays with all the things we've been up to in September.  Part I now and Part II will follow.  I'm sure we'll do a lot of fun things this weekend for my birthday so there will probably be an instagram overload, but that's okay!

We started the month of September at a Rangers game.  It was hot!  The Ranges lost, but we still had fun.

School is in full-swing.  
Part of our nightly routine is Will's reading time.  It's a big bonus for Ben because he gets to listen to all of the stories.  Ben even has books we read together so he doesn't feel left out.

Will's teacher is so thoughtful and sends lots of photos of all the fun things they do at school during the day.  I thought this photo of him making a 100 was super sweet.  We're so proud of Will!

Ben's preschool also sends photos to us during the day.  I like to call it my "Happy Email" because it's always a bright spot in my day to see my boys learning,  playing, and having fun.  Ben was having a great time in centers that day.  I can't say enough good things about Will and Ben's teachers.  We are blessed. 

With the start of the school year, my appreciation of weekends has increased.  I am truly grateful for the time I get to relax on the couch with my feet propped up. 

Last weekend we went to a princess birthday party.  One of my BFF's Terri has a daughter who turned 3.  Our kids all love playing together, and my boys wanted to go to the party even if it was a princess theme.  They didn't care as long as there was cake and ice cream. 

I've started working out again.  5a.m. is EARLY.  My new workout shoes are awesome.  

Here's the gym where we workout. 

I know I shouldn't, but sometimes I have a treat from DQ.  It helps me get through the week. 

Who is ready for Fall?  
I am!  I am!  I am!
It's my favorite season, and I'm so ready for cooler weather.

life rearranged


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