Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Nudge. . .or 2

Ok, I'll admit it. . .I'm a little bit very stubborn.  I try to do things my way; I struggle with controlling situations.  Over the last 5 months(year really), the Lord has done some incredible things in our lives.

To get to the point, we have to go back to January of this year.  Ricky and I read Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey several years ago.  I LOVED the concept. . .not just the thought of being debt free but the principals and discipline behind it all.  However, we read the book when we had just moved back to Amarillo.  Ricky and I were both working part-time jobs.  Without a source of full-time income, we just kind of pushed the thoughts away. So, January of this year, Ricky is delivering bread and I am teaching part time.  We have a steady income and the realization of how much debt we were in was taking a toll on us.  It was such a burden! (I don't feel the need to disclose the numbers on a public forum! It was A LOT to us!).  After very little discussion, we decided to pay it off.  The Lord was(always is) so good to us and somehow large chunks of money kept coming in(tax return, a car wreck where our vehicle had no damage but we got a $500 check, etc).  We used anything extra that came in to pay off those debts that were weighing us down.  We stretched our budget really thin and started making a HUGE(to us anyway) payment each month on the one credit card that was left.  The Lord blew us away again in July when we were able to pay it off in full 3 months early.  As of July 2012, we are officially credit card free! We still have one loan that we are working towards paying off(we have 6 payments left) to be able to say we are completely debt free.  BUT, we have made HUGE gains in the 10 months since we started.  I look back on this time and I am blown away by the Lord's provision.  (We will call the desire to get out of debt nudge #1.)

All that to say, we were VERY excited for the financial "freedom" that came with having no(less) debt.  We were looking forward to being able to give more, being able to afford the luxuries that we had given up over the last year, etc.  BUT, the Lord had a different and MUCH BETTER plan for our lives!

After 2 years of teaching 1st grade part-time at Ridgecrest, the funding for my position was cut.  I found this out in May. . .the Tuesday before school was out to be exact.  I wasn't really surprised and honestly wasn't all that worried.  After all, I was an AISD employee.  I felt certain that they would help me find a position at another campus.  (We will call the funding cut nudge #2.)

Well, without going into great detail, the position never came.  With all the personnel changes within AISD this year, I kind of slipped through the cracks. It was a long summer of waiting and sadly, stressing.  I found out the week before teachers reported back to school that I had to "resign" my position and re-apply to work for the district.  Needless to say, most positions were filled at that point.  But, I held out hope that a position would become available for me. (We will call falling through the cracks nudge #3.)

As the school year approached, I interviewed with a couple of schools(even a different district) but nothing was a fit(for me or the schools).  So, we enrolled the boys in our "home" campus.  Strangely, that was one of the hardest things for me.  I had NO idea who their teachers would be and knew very little about the school(I always thought they would just go with me so never researched the local school.).  However, the Lord reminded me that they are really His and that He can take WAY better care of them than I can! (We will call enrolling the boys nudge #4)

The school year started and it has been incredible! Elijah has the BEST teacher for him this year(and I had NOTHING to do with it)! AND, Kyle's teacher is phenomenal! Letting go was so hard but they are EXACTLY where they are supposed to be right now.

 As for me, I am staying home with my sweet Annabella(and Kyle in the mornings).  This never would have happened had the Lord not placed it on our hearts nearly a year ago to be disciplined(I use that loosely as we still struggle) with our money and get rid of debt.  We are still paying that one off and still learning to live off of one income.  We were so excited to use my income for luxuries but the Lord's plan is SO much better!  It has been a learning experience but one I would not trade!  The Lord has me exactly where I am supposed to be right now too(even if He had to literally shove me there)!

And what is a post without pictures?!?!

Kyle had orange day at his school this week so we went on an orange scavenger hunt to get pictures.  There was a trip to his favorite store(Home Depot of course) and a pumpkin patch.  This was after dinner one night and ALL 3 of my kiddos have food on their faces! ha!
Kyle, 4

Elijah, 7

Annabella, 17 months(she SCREAMED when we left!)
AND, just because I think this picture is too sweet not to share. . . Annabella after church a  few weeks ago! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

OKC, Haircut, and Day One

 I am behind in blogging again. . imagine that! So, here is an attempt to somewhat "catch up".

OKC Trip
We decided to get out of Amarillo for a few days as a family.  We went to OKC the first weekend in August.  YES, we were the crazy people who vacationed to the city that was having 115 degree days and crazy fires.  But, we had a great weekend!

Bricktown-It was HOT! We ate dinner at Spaghetti Warehouse and walked around Bricktown for  a bit before heading to the hotel.

Elijah with his balloon sword
Annabella's new favorite face. . .and where she hung out a lot, in her stroller
Kyle at the fountain in Bricktown

 Hotel Swimming-The pool in the hotel is what the boys were most excited about! I didn't dare take the camera down there so no pictures to document the fun.

Elijah and Kyle ready to go swim

Like I said. . .new favorite face! I wanted a picture in her cute little speedo but it never happened.
 Zoo-We ate breakfast at the hotel that morning and headed out to the zoo.  We figured the earlier the better.  We had low expectations of how long we would last.  BUT, the kids were all troopers(especially Annabella) and we made it four hours.  We probably only got to half of the zoo but we had a great time!

My boys! There was a husband/wife team doing ice sculptures and giving out free snow cones!! 

My precious girl LOVED the zoo

I'll be honest, this TERRIFIED me!! I held it together for the boys! haha!

Ricky and the lorikeet

Elijah, who is scared of so many things, REALLY wanted to hold one of the lorikeets.  He never could catch one but we were blown away at how brave he was. 

Annabella LOVES animals but we didn't realize just how much until we went to the zoo.  She enjoyed feeding the giraffes more than her brothers! (And I turned my head right after this picture and panicked at that HUGE tongue being so close to us!)

Kyle tried to feed the giraffes but he wasn't nearly as impressed as his sister.

Daddy loves his baby girl! 

We decided to take a break from the heat and walking with a train ride.  This little transportation lover enjoyed every minute of it! 
Did I mention it was HOT?


That face!!!

Her second favorite was the chimpanzees. . .which we all loved because the room had AC!

After the zoo, we went back to the hotel for an attempt at a nap.  NO ONE napped! So, we went to see my Uncle Jeff and his family.  They have an amazing house with a VERY cool pool! It was SO nice to cool down and swim.  I honestly didn't think Elijah was ever going to get out! They treated us to a pizza dinner and we had a great time visiting after. (And I'm sad :( to say that I took 0 pictures!)

Chesapeake Energy Arena-Sunday morning we got up and headed back to Bricktown to see the arena. Now, if you don't know, we are all HUGE LeBron James and Miami Heat fans! Kyle was CONVINCED that LeBron was going to be there! He loves LeBron just as much, if not more, than Ricky and I do.  He asks me on a DAILY basis if LeBron can come babysit him! ha! So, Ricky wore his "Earned Not Given" shirt for a photo op in front of the arena. :)

OKC Memorial-After the arena, we headed to the memorial.  Our last visit to the memorial, Elijah was 2 1/2.  He really understood what he was seeing this time.  He was very emotional and took it all in.
My sweet, sensitive little guy

My babies with the Survivor Tree
Kyle writing his 'message'.  He drew a building made new. :)

Elijah writing his message.  He drew Jesus weeping. 

 Ricky writing his message.


We ended our weekend by stopping by the Outlet Mall to grab some great deals during Oklahoma's tax free weekend.  We had such a great family weekend.  We are hoping to go back to OKC in the fall to enjoy the zoo and other activities when it is COOLER! :) 

1st Haircut                                       Annabella was in DESPERATE need of a haircut! I am new to this girl thing so I wasn't sure where to take her.  Ricky called our friend Sonia and she said she could get her in! I was so excited! :) 

Before front and back

Annabella did great! I think that all the cool things painted on the walls really helped!

MUCH better! Annabella after front and back

1st Day of School
My sweet boys! 
Elijah Mikal-2nd grade
I can't believe it! 
Kyle Brooks-pre-k
I can't believe my baby boy is in school!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Baby. . .

Kyle, our sweet, adorable, helpful, cuddly, mischievous, wild tempered, funny, 4 1/2 year old, has a lovie/snuggle/comfort/whatever you want to call it.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing but one that I do not know when nor how to address with him of breaking.  Kyle has a blanket. It started out innocently enough when he was a TINY baby.  Someone gave him an ADORABLE Swankie Blankie security blanket.  I thought it was so cute that I gave it to him a lot when he was little.  He was my easiest baby and rarely fussed.  But, when he did, his little blanket would do the trick and calm him down.  As he got older, he wanted a bigger blanket.  We had some "silkies" that Elijah had used as a baby so in true second born form, Kyle got the hand-me-down blankets.  Somehow, this has evolved into something I NEVER imagined! Kyle is rarely without a "baby".  I'm not exactly sure when he started but long ago he started calling his blankets baby.  We started out with a "blue baby" and "yellow baby".  "Blue baby" sadly got lost but was replaced with another "yellow baby"(that is identical to the old "yellow baby" so thankful to have 2!!).  We also added "brown baby" that stays at school.  (Before I go on, I will tell you that he is not allowed to carry his blankets around outside of the house.  IF he takes it with us, it is left in the car.  But, for the most part, "babies" stay at home!) "Babies" have become a way of life around our house.  We know that a baby MUST be present at nap and bedtime.  He, himself, will tell you that "he"(yes, all of his babies are boys) makes him feel better when he is sad.  "Baby" is not only for sleeping but also a  toy and sometimes even a playmate! Most of the pictures I have of "baby" are when Kyle is sleeping but I assure you that a baby is nearby in MOST pictures.  Honestly, I haven't given much thought to this.  But, two nights ago as I was on yet ANOTHER frantic search for the lost baby at bed time, I wondered if/when Kyle would give up his blanket.  All three of our kids weaned themselves both from being nursed and from the bottles.  None of our kids used the pacifier past two months.  But, this blanket, this blanket maybe a little bit trickier.  Now, I'm not saying that I'm ready or wanting him to give up his beloved "baby" just yet.  I just hadn't really thought about it until Tuesday night.  What will this look like? Will it happen on it's own? Will it be a battle? Will he go to college with his blanket? Or worse, will he still have it when he gets married? I'm really not sure! But, I do know that Kyle LOVES his blanket and for now, these blankets make naps/bedtime and sad situations a LOT better!

Just for fun, I went through and found pictures of Kyle with his baby.  I didn't have any with his Swankie Blankie or his "brown baby"(that one is for school) but I did find LOTS of pictures with the other two.  Here are just a few!
Kyle with "blue baby" at 8 months 

Kyle and "yellow baby" at 1 year

Kyle and "blue baby" taking a nap during our family camping trip

Cheesy grin with "Blue Baby" in the car!  

Aunt SeSe, Kyle and "Yellow Baby" 18 months

21 months

Sharing "yellow baby" with Pandy at 

This is how we see baby the most. . .tucked in to bed with him.

"Yellow Baby" was a racetrack on this particular day

Not exactly sure what he was doing here but "yellow baby" was part of the fun!

Sleeping boy and his "yellow baby"