Happy Birthday, Mark!

My big brother turns  *ahem* 40 today!!    WOW!

I wish I could be there to remind him how old…I mean how GREAT he is!

My sister-in-law, Kathy, did it up right in my absence and decorated Mark’s office as well as stuffed his car full of black balloons.  It’s like she read my mind or something!?!?!

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On a serious note, though….

Mark truly has been a wonderful brother.  There’s never a moment that I can think of not being able to turn to him.  He’s caring, fun, loving, ready to laugh, willing to help, an active member of his community, and a terrific father.

Mark, I am honored to be your baby sister!   Happy birthday, bro!

And now for my favorite part….the throwback pictures!

Here, Mark sports what is beyond a mullet.  It’s really quite long in the back.  So if it is a party in the back, then my brother can rock it!

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Next, we have such a sweet big brother, playing with me as a baby.    And everyone says, “Awwwwe!”

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The next is Mark’s favorite….when he decided I should wear my panties on my head.   Thank, bro.  Cute.  Real cute.

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Happy birthday, Mark!

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Friends and Family and Food, oh my!

This is going to be a long post, so grab a drink and get comfy!

I finished my job with the geologist last week and had a few days off before starting my new job.  (That’s right!  New job!  More to come on that later.)  So I decided to go visit my family in East Texas and get some quality time in with them.  Robby had to stay back because he started his new job this week.  (Yep, he got a new job, too!   We’re busy around here, huh?!)

I started out on my journey, listening to pod-casts and spending time in prayer.  Once I got to Ft. Worth, I stopped for the night to split up the trip.  First on my list was to attend my little cousin Collin’s baptism!  I loved getting to see my college friend and cousin Spencer baptize his own son.  So cool!

Spencer baptizing Collin

Spencer baptizing Collin

My best friend from college, Miranda, attended the baptism with me and then we went to eat before I crashed at her house for the night.  We spent some great time catching up, goodness me I needed that time with her.   She took me to a fantastic restaurant in Ft. Worth called Brewed and then we chatted some more at her house.  Some how I forgot to get a picture with her for this blog post.  But I did snap a picture of her adorable make-up vanity area.  When Robby and I get our own place, I want Miranda to come help decorate.

Miranda's great style!

Miranda’s great style!

AND THEN, I stopped by a coffee shop to see another best friend from college, Jennifer.  She made me a great cup of coffee and I enjoyed visiting her at work.  If you get a chance, go by Origins in Dallas and get her to whip up something for you!  She’s a great barista.

Jennifer!

Jennifer!

I liked the little heart she made for me in the froth.

I liked the little heart she made for me in the froth.

After that, it was home to Mt. Pleasant!

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Though extremely hot and humid (heat index of 108 on most days there.  YIKES!), I enjoyed every moment there.  Just to sit on the deck in the back yard and listen to the cicada.  It truly is the sound of a summer night for me.  Aside from that, I spent time with family doing lots of fun things.

I went with my grandmother and father to visit my great-aunt, Jewel.  She’s 101 years old and just a clever as ever!  I just love listening to her stories.  She’s a fantastic story-teller and can hold an audience captive for hours.

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My mother and I went to Holly Hill Homestead to have lunch with our friend Jolene.  You may remember that a few months back I mentioned Jolene’s wonderful poppy-seed dressing.  Of course, I picked up a few more bottles while there at the B&B.   And lunch….just delish!  Here are a few pictures from Holly Hill, a precious bed and breakfast set back in the piney woods of  East Texas.

The front porch is so inviting!

The front porch is so inviting!

A cozy little bed nestled on the back porch!

A cozy little bed nestled on the back porch!

Look at this kitchen!  I'm in love!

Look at this kitchen! I’m in love!

Jolene's cooking is a taste of Heaven!

Jolene’s cooking is a taste of Heaven!

The newest cabin.  Can't wait to stay there!

The newest cabin. Can’t wait to stay there!

Jolene and Mom, long time friends

Jolene and Mom, long time friends

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No trip would be complete without spending time with my niece and nephew.  They’re schedules were pretty busy, but I swept them away at 9:00pm for a late night trip to get ice cream!  Aren’t they cute!?!?!  Love these kiddos!

My Munchkin, Zachary.

My Munchkin, Zachary.

Brookers!  She's growing up way too fast.

Brookers! She’s growing up way too fast.

My trip home was over far too soon.  But I was excited to make my way back home because I had friends to see in Dallas/Ft. Worth.  For lunch I called up friends that I taught with while in Richardson ISD.  Though many couldn’t make it, a great group showed up.  It’s so fun to catch up with everyone!  Love them!

Forest Lane Academy Staff!  Love these people!

Forest Lane Academy Staff! Love these people!

And then!!!   I saw friends with babies!!  2 of my dearest friends are new mommies!   I couldn’t wait to catch up with them, hear about their new additions, and hold sweet babies!   Alex and baby Zevin were 1st.  He was 1 month old and a little darling.  Alex looks great, just glowing away.  (or maybe that’s the delirious side of no sleep for a month!  ha!)

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Alex, baby Zevin, and me!

The next new-born to see was Courtni and baby Hayes.  He was 1 week old!!   SO TINY!  I didn’t get a picture of Courtni (You’re welcome, Courtni), but I love these precious pictures with Hayes.  He slept so soundly in my arms and I almost didn’t hand him over when his great-grandmother showed up.  Newborns are so sweet!

Hayes and me

Hayes and me

Look at that little smile.   Melt my heart!

Look at that little smile. Melt my heart!

By the time that I visited with all these wonderful people and held sweet babies (I might have a bit of baby fever, but who wouldn’t after seeing these two little guys?!?!), it was time to keep on driving home.  Reluctantly I started back on I-20 and kept on trucking West.  Rain hit around Abilene, and there was a beautiful sky.

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I made it home safely and couldn’t WAIT to get a hug and kiss from my hubby!  What a enjoyable trip.

Happy Birthday, Scott!

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Today my big brother turns 37!   WOW!

If you have not had the joy of meeting my brother Scott, you’re missing out.  Scott David is joyful, loving, family minded, and always ready to laugh or sing a song.   Always photogenic (lucky) my favorite feature of his are those dark eyes!  He’s just fantastic!

Our mom had a cake made with his favorite music artist, Garth Brooks!  I’m sure he LOVED it!  

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Check out his face when they showed him the cake!   He loved it!!

Total surprise!

Total surprise!

I love his laugh!

I love his laugh!

You may think you have great sibilings, but I’m here to correct you.  Yours are ok.  My brothers are the BEST!   

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Scott has always been loving and playful with me.  

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We have our inside jokes and little things that are just for the 2 of us.  I can usually find my missing sunglasses wherever he is!

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Did I mention he’s happy?  He’s eager to greet people, give ’em his best Fonzy “HEEEEEEY!” with a thumbs up and spread some joy.

HEEEEEY!

Yep, my brother is pretty great!    

Happy Birthday, Scott David!  

I love you THIIIIIIS MUCH!

Scott @ pool

Cousins’ Reunion – 2013

I love this time of year!  It’s when all of our cousins get together and catch up for the weekend.  My mother’s generation of 1st cousins started this way back in the 90’s and it’s just kept on going!   Oh, the fun times we’ve had watching baseball games, going to putt-putt courses, floating the river, shopping, and more.  Most of my generation of cousins can look back at the pictures and watch ourselves grow up!

This year we all gathered outside of New Braunfels, TX in Seguin.  The house was quite unique, with lots of connecting bedrooms and places.  The kiddos loved it because it made this never ending circle of chase and tag for them.  We all enjoyed the deck in the back that overlooked the Guadalupe Rive.  So relaxing!

Our view of the river, calm and peaceful.
Our view of the river, calm and peaceful.
House view from the back deck.
House view from the back deck.

Most of our time was spent catching up and visiting.  On Saturday we ventured into the water, though.

The Morell Family
The Morell Family
The Collins'
The Collins’
Mary Anne and Bailey
Mary Anne and Bailey
Brooke and Zachary were tired from their river floating excursion!
Brooke and Zachary were tired from their river floating excursion!

And of course, what family reunion would be complete without some game time?!?!

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Teaching Peyton how to play Gin Rummy.....he's sneaky, so keep those cards close!
Teaching Peyton how to play Gin Rummy…..he’s sneaky, so keep those cards close!

We enjoyed fresh watermelon on the deck!  Perfect for a hot summer’s day in Texas!

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Bailey was excited for watermelon, though she wasn't keen on the idea of spitting out the seeds.
Bailey was excited for watermelon, though she wasn’t keen on the idea of spitting out the seeds.

We love time with our family!  

Looking forward to next years reunion in Dallas!

Rockport with the family

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Family time at the beach was great!  We love spending time with our sweet nephews, Sam and Peter.  I mean, how could we not?  They might possibly be the cutest kids……..EVER.  (We’re not biased, nooooo, not at all!)

Here, Sam was hiding in a riviting game of Hide-n-Seek!

He's quite clever, hiding in cabinets!

He’s quite clever, hiding in cabinets!

We spent lots of time playing in the water and visiting.

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And of course, I had LOTS of time to catch up and visit with Jenny!   I loved our walks at night.

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One of our favorite nights was when we went to Port Aransas for dinner and an evening visit to the beach.  On the way there, we have to take a ferry boat.  FUN!

I loved how Joe and Jenn let the kids sit in their laps while we went on the ferry.

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Sam, being a goober with us.

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Oh, La Playa!  It was pretty great.  The food, the drinks, it was all good!

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Then we got to build sand castles and play in the ocean.  It’s amazing to me how the simplest things become huge adventures through the eyes of children.

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And of course, story time with Uncle Rob-Rob.  Just precious!  Melted my heart!  He’s a fantastic uncle and loves those boys so so much.

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Uncle Rocky told us about a great place for breakfast tacos, so we tried it out on July 4th.

Pretty good!

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Robby gives it a thumbs up!

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Until next time, see ya later Rockport!

Rockport Beach Sign

A Few Pictures

Amazing how time really does just fly on by, huh?!? I blink, and months have passed by!

Here are a few pictures that I forgot to post from trips, family, friends, and many MANY good times!

I started working on sewing (a 30X30 goal!) and made baby blankets for a few of my friends:

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Robby’s brother got married! YAY! Danny and Kayla had a beautiful wedding (more pictures to come soon). I got to watch over the precious ring bearers, aren’t they cute! Sam & Peter:

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The bull dog got a bath, and just looked too sweet to leave out of the blog post. She was quite tired from her adventures at the groomer, tuckered out in the car ride home:

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We’ve been cooking more! The grill has been so useful and we really enjoy all the great things we can make off of it. Also, we tried spaghetti squash recently. Not bad at all!

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Our nephew Sam turned 4! The family went to a baseball game while all in Midland and enjoyed the day.

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And now, we’re in Rockport enjoying a vacation with Robby’s family. It’s very relaxing and chill down here on the coast. I’m enjoying my morning runs by myself and evening walks with my sis-in-law, Jenny! Swimming with the nephews, family dinners, and just visiting. Not many things can beat that!

More updates to come soon!

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Family Time with Peter!

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This past weekend our fantastic sister-in-law and her youngest, Peter, came to visit.  WE LOVED every moment with them!   While Jenny was taking engagement photos for Danny & Kayla, Robby & I took Peter to a baseball game.   We had so much fun with this lil’ guy!

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And then, on Sunday morning, Robby let Peter learn to drive!  (He had to move the car over a few spots, don’t panic.  The 2 year old isn’t driving around town…..yet)   Robby’s such a good uncle!

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Melt my heart….

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April was a BUSY month!

I just realized that I haven’t been able to post and update the blog in a LONG time!  The month of April has gone by so quickly, but has been filled with lots of friends and family.   Here’s a few pictures and updates for you:

My bestie from college came to visit!   (More college friends are coming in June.  I.  CAN’T.   WAIT!!!!)

Jenn and Alison

Jenn and Alison

We went to John and Hilary’s house to hang out and made Lemon Drop Martini’s with fresh raspberries from my friend Rachel’s blog, We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook.   SO GOOD!

Photo bomber, John, in the background

Photo bomber, John, in the background

I helped organize and clean out my mother-in-law’s storage building one Sunday.  Along the way she told me precious stories about the family and showed me their treasures.  My favorite:  finding her wedding dress!

Greta's wedding dress

Greta’s wedding dress

Every spring, my cousins on my mother’s side get together to see a musical.  My great-aunt Betty started this tradition years ago.  This year, on the anniversary of her going to Heaven, we all went to see Wicked at Fair Park in Dallas.  It was nothing less that spectacular.  Honestly, I could go on and on about it, but I’m still slightly speechless at how incredible the cast was.  Just……WOW!

Cousins at Wicked!

Cousins at Wicked!

During tutoring, my student brought out a new book.  I was a little stunned by it at first (was sort of dark on the cover of the book) but quickly I was reading through it with her.   (She’s SUCH a joy to tutor, by the way.  I will miss working with her during the summer months).  Ghostopolis is a creative story about a boy who gets stuck in the Underworld.  It’s written in comic strip form, which really appeals to my student.  Cute story line!  I’d recommend it to any 4th-6th graders, even some in Jr. High!

Ghost 2

Ghostopolis

Did I mention that I know a published author?!?!   Another best friend from college, Miranda Campbell, has been a great joy and influence in my life.  She just published her first of hopefully many books, Missing Dad.  I was excited to get her to sign my copy when I had lunch with her and Crystal (my best college roommate, ever!) in downtown McKinney last weekend.    Go buy it!   It’s great!

Miranda's book

And then….there’s was a 1980’s Engagement Party for our friends Kyle & Jenn.  Of COURSE we had to dress up!  And boy-oh-boy, did we we dress to the 9’s.  Don’t be jealous of my husband’s legs.   I”ll let the picture speak for itself.

1980's were great years for us!

1980’s were great years for us!

So yeah!    April was busy and fun!  Can’t wait to see what May has in store for us!

Easter Day- in pictures

I decided to take pictures of our 1st Easter day as a married couple.  So, here ya go!

What morning would be complete without a cup of coffee and makeup?  Necessities!

What morning would be complete without a cup of coffee and makeup? Necessities!

This past week my mother and grandmother came to visit us!  These are the flowers that I had waiting for them at the airport.  Having the flowers in the house is a sweet reminder of the visitors that were here.

Flowers for my grandmother.

Flowers for my grandmother.

Flowers for my mother

Flowers for my mother

(I know this isn’t a picture from Easter, but here’s a shot of my visitors with me at lunch one day.  Love them!)

Grandmother, Mom, me, and mother-in-law

Grandmother, Mom, me, and mother-in-law

OK, back to Easter Day….

Our church, Stonegate Fellowship.

Our church, Stonegate Fellowship.

Worship on Easter morning!

Worship on Easter morning!

Sermon notes!  Pastor Patrick really had me writing!!

Sermon notes! Pastor Patrick really had me writing!!

Ice Sculpture at the Odessa Country Club!  Happy Easter!

Ice Sculpture at the Odessa Country Club! Happy Easter!

Pretty flowers all over the place!

Pretty flowers all over the place!

Our Easter Lunch Bunch:  Daniel, Kayla, Robby, me, Daddy Jim, Teresa, and Greta.  (We missed having our grandmother, Mynaynie, join us.  She was under the weather.)

Our Easter Lunch Bunch: Daniel, Kayla, Robby, me, Daddy Jim, Teresa, and Greta. (We missed having our grandmother, Mynaynie, join us. She was under the weather.)

My mother-in-law, Greta, and her friend/partner in crime, Teresa

My mother-in-law, Greta, and family friend- Teresa

My handsome husband!

My handsome husband!

The adorable engaged couple!  82 days till Kayla and Daniel's wedding!

The adorable engaged couple! 82 days till Kayla and Daniel’s wedding!

Another windy day out west.

Another windy day out west, but it didn’t keep Robby from playing golf!

Our Easter basket!

Our Easter basket!

I spent my afternoon reading and relaxing.

I spent my afternoon reading and relaxing.

The neighbor's yard is FULL of blue bonnets!  It's so pretty!

The neighbor’s yard is FULL of blue bonnets! It’s so pretty!

Flowers in our yard!!

Flowers in our yard!!

Flowers at the front door.

Flowers at the front door.

Ok, disclaimer.  The flowers in our yard aren’t real.  I’ve found the BEST way to keep flowers in Midland/Odessa….is to get the silk ones and stick ’em in the planters and pretend that you worked really hard to make it happen.  The flowers make me smile every time I come home, so I can’t complain that they’re not real.  Just didn’t want to fool you into thinking that I’m some terrific gardener with a green thumb.  yeah, right!

Grocery shopping.

Grocery shopping. Always.  Seems like I do that more than go to the gym!

Dinner - taco soup.  Yum!

Dinner – taco soup. Yum!

Gluten Free brownies.  Not bad, but not like the traditional ones.

Gluten Free brownies. Not bad, but not like the traditional ones.

Pedicure at home while watching the Texas Rangers.

Pedicure at home while watching the Texas Rangers.

Intensely watching the Rangers lose to the Astro's.  Come on, Rangers!!

Intensely watching the Rangers play the Astro’s. Come on, Rangers!!

Disappointed.  Don't worry, babe, it's only the beginning of the season.

Disappointed. Don’t worry, babe, it’s only the beginning of the season.

What a wonderful 1st Easter married.  We’re so blessed to have a family on both sides that knows the Lord, to have a Savior that defeated death and came to save us from our sins, and to be able to worship Him together in our marriage.

Volunteer Local

This past weekend I had the joy of volunteering with family to help raise money for the Permian Basin Rehab Center.  Our grandfather, Jim Reese, has been helping host this telethon on TV for over 30 years!  WOW!   Talk about believing in a program.

Here’s a little bit about the Rehab Center:

“Since 1953, the Permian Basin Rehab Center (PBRC) has served thousands of patients of all ages and abilities who find themselves in need.  PBRC is the Permian Basin’s only comprehensive, non-profit, multidisciplinary rehabilitation facility.  The therapists of PBRC reach a broad cross-section of the community and bring positive change into the lives of countless individuals who require physical, occupational and speech therapies, or hearing/audiology services. Therapies are fully coordinated, and bi-lingual employees enrich these services.

As with any medical treatment, therapy can be costly.  As a non-profit organization, the PBRC offers an Assistance Program and social worker services to help insure that no one is turned away based on ability to pay or limited access to transportation.  Assistance is made possible through private donations and a variety of creative fundraising efforts throughout the year.  Because PBRC is a West Texas institution, all funds raised remain in Odessa for direct services to our families, friends and neighbors. PBRC also is a preferred provider for most insurance companies including Medicare and Medicaid.”

My mother-in-law and I helped to answer phones and take pledges/donations.  We had a great time meeting and visiting with lots of people, and hearing the stories of how the rehab center has been a part of their lives.

A few pictures of the day:

Starting amount on Sunday!  WOW!

Starting amount on Sunday! WOW!

Greta, Daddy Jim, and me!

Greta, Daddy Jim, and me!

answering phones with the Odessa Fire Dept.

Answering phones with the Odessa Fire Dept.

The news anchors were a lot of fun, and so nice!

The news anchors were a lot of fun, and so nice!

The Final Total!

The Final Total!

I am amazed at the final amount raised:  $965, 987.   WOW!   All for such a great cause!   I’m so glad I was able to volunteer for the Rehab Center and look forward to helping out in the future.