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Sunday, June 14, 2009

In the Summertime

Congrats to John on straight A's all year! Now it's on to 2nd grade! His reading teacher, Ms. Bagley, prepared an end-of-year presentation, a reading restaurant. Each of the children prepared a menu featuring an "appetizer" book, a "main dish" book, and a "desert" book, which was one they wrote and illustrated themselves.

He also got to go to "Camp Invention". He's said for a long time that he wants to be an inventor someday. The camp was one week of creating, exploring, and playing. One of his best buddies, Raymond, also signed up.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

Anniversary Camping Trip

Brazos Bend State Park--We've been wanting to come see the alligators!
We couldn't believe all the wildlife we saw when we got there. When we came in at night, we saw dozens of raccons, several armadillos, a few deer and opossoms. And the fireflies were like Christmas lights. We tried to cook hot dogs while the nearly fearless raccoons raided our camp, trying to scare us away from our food. The next day, we saw turtles, bunnies, tons of squirrels, and twenty or so alligators (before we stopped counting). It was a fun, memorable trip.

Don't get your toes snapped off, John!

Guys, leave the poor turtle alone.

Baby alligators in the nature center. They also had live snakes, a tarantula, turtles, spiders (tarantula, brown recluse, and black widow). There were a lot of things to touch and look at.

Having fun swinging on the vines. Let's get some of these at home!

We'll be back!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Celebrating Eight Years!

I made a cheesy little video slideshow for our anniversary. It's simple, but I love slideshows and I love thinking about all of our memories. I know I couldn't really be happy without my Richard.
(I hope this works:)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Spring Field Trips

Lila went to the county fair and saw pigs, cows, and sheep. Mom got to go, too. I liked the petting zoo at the county fair: they had a tortoise, a zebra, and camel, and a kangaroo, but Lila wouldn't let me put her down. She's getting much braver, but she's had a fear of animals since she was a few months old. Another field trip this year was going to the historic Opera House in Galveston where we saw the play, Puss in Boots (with an 'honesty' twist). The play was a little freaky, but it was great how they had the miller's son tell the truth instead of winning the princess with a bunch of lies. Little Lila gets so excited about things. She is full of smiles and jokes. Preschool is over for her now and she misses her friends and teachers.

John's class went to the aquarium in Galveston at Moody Gardens. It was impressive. John was doing a report on sharks at the time and we saw five or six different kinds of sharks. There were also four kinds of penguins. His friends here are Draven and Ryler. Again, I got to go on this fun field trip. We also saw a 3-D IMAX film on Whales and Dolphins. As a side note, John made an "educational" board game called "Shark Attack" as part of his report on sharks, which was very cool and fun to play.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy Birthday John-boy

Spring break! I forget how demanding these kids are when they're home all day. But we had fun. Rich had most of the days off, since the surgeon he was with took them off. We went with friends to a beach barbecue and bonfire one day. There were sand dunes behind the beach, which the kids loved, and lots of kids to play with. We were there most of the day. Another day, we went to the space center, where they had some shows (Sponge bob and pirates), a new Treasure exhibit, and a diving team show where the divers dove up to 85 feet into a tank set up on the lawn outside.

We spent a lot of spring break getting ready for John's party. John is always so excited when his birthday is coming up. He loves to plan parties. So we planned an Indiana Jones-themed party. I made little journals with brown paper bag covers, in which I put an Egyptian word-find, maze and crossword puzzle. I included a hieroglyphics decoder, which they used to find their adventure bags (brown bags with names in hieroglyphics). Rich created a "new" Indiana Jones adventure theme including pirates, namely Jean Lafitte, who was a real pirate here in Galveston, and who may have undiscovered treasure still. Rich made a very fun and involved treasure hunt, using fun fonts, authentic pirate language, letters in envelopes from pirate to his brother, a letter stuck to a tree with a knife, letters from Indiana Jones with warnings, a golden key, booby traps, and other fun things. At the end of the treasure hunt, they had to take turns putting on the Indiana Jones hat and going through an obstacle course--dodging moving swings, swinging on a rope over a snake pit, stepping on the right stones drawn with sidewalk chalk, move through the playground equipment while trying to avoid the natives with their poison darts (the other kids shooting marshmallows from pvc pipes) and slide down the slide with a boulder (beach ball) following close behind, search in the sand for three jewels of different colors and bring them back. Once everyone completed that, the jewels they recovered opened the last clue, which revealed the treasure, or the pinata. The treasure was hidden deceptively in a "crate" marked with the words "explosives" "do not hit". It took a lot of hard hits to break it, but that seemed ok to that group of boys. Rich couldn't come because of work. But it actually went very smoothly. Eight boys came, which was perfect. Wow, I can't believe my son is getting so grown up! We looked at his baby pictures later that day and laughed about his first birthday where he got to make a big mess out of his cake.

He's always been such a fun and interested kid. He has two friends now that come over every day to play. They fight like brothers and are so loud! He's finally learning to ride a bike by himself. He picks things up pretty quickly and is getting 100% on spelling tests and most of his work. He still gets to go to "gifted and talented" and that's definitely his favorite part of school. At home, he'll eat most anything, but when it comes to school lunch, he is so particular about what I pack and never will eat the cafeteria food. The only kinds of sandwiches he likes are "just jelly" and tuna fish. At home he won't eat out of the same bowl that someone else ate out of because of the "germs", but he'll still stick his fingers right in the serving bowl, and he'll chew on his toe-nails after he's been running around in the sandbox. Hello, germs! Anyway, he's entertaining. He gets very excited about many things. His teacher is so sweet, she always tells him she loves him. She even tells me she loves me and gives me a hug and sometimes a kiss on the cheek when I come to pick him up.

I love the job I'm doing right now, because I can take the whole week off without asking anyone. I work finding old "ugly" damaged homes for a local investor to buy and he pays me commission. He's very nice and is always so grateful for whatever leads I give him. It's extremely flexible and I get more money than would doing that "stay-at-home" customer service thing that I tried. I mean, that job wasn't so bad, really, but they only pay $9/hr and they remind you that "you are adults now", which means they treat you like teenagers. But really, it didn't end up working because my internet is not very reliable. I'm just glad this investor is giving me the chance to do property scouting. I worked with commercial real estate in San Antonio and liked it. These experiences could come in handy in the future, possibly.

Anyway, here are some few pictures I captured at the party, and also one from Marcus' visit in February (after a Mardi Gras parade) and one from the cruise.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Que Divertido!

We had so much fun! Being in Mexico was the best part! Sorry, I don't have any pictures yet. I can't wait to share them, though. I need to get my camera fixed. Wow, the water was so clear and blue! I miss Mexico!

Our ship pulled in a couple of hours late into Cozumel and then it took over an hour to get off, so we only got about six hours to explore. There was no time to go to the mainland and I'm glad we didn't try. We snorkled and relaxed on a very charming not-so-touristy beach that our taxi driver recommended. Cozumel is very popular for snorkeling because of it's great coral reefs and fish. We saw so many kinds of fish, who would just swim all around us, not afraid. We were loving it.

Then we took a taxi through the city there, which I really enjoyed because parts of it were almost like being back in Honduras. We went through the city to get to some Mayan ruins. These are itty bitty compared to Chichen Itza or Uxmal, but they were still impressive to us. We were also entertained watching the iguanas that were lurking EVERYWHERE! It was fun to talk to the taxi driver as we drove. He was very friendly, and being a native, he gave us a good feel for what the island was like. We spoke in Spanish and Richard would pick things sometimes, and I'd translate. He also taught us some Mayan, which many people still try to keep alive in parts of Mexico.

It was great to hang out on the cruise ship, the two of us, with nowhere we needed to go, no one calling on the phone. Just us, doing whatever we wanted, together, all day. We played a giant game of chess, shuffleboard, mini-golf, sat in the hot tub, went to the "shows", played board games, watched movies, worked out in the gym, lounged on deck, and mostly enjoyed the food. Good food, especially the sit-down dinners! And we did dress up one night.

A few times on that cruise, I almost forgot we had kids. They came and waved us off at the port and it was the sweetest thing. Grandma claims they were very good for her while we were away. We sure missed those kids, but for the most part, I'm glad it was just us.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pinch me, I'm dreaming!

Rich and I get to go on a cruise to Cozumel, Mexico, leaving today! I still can't believe it. We haven't been on a cruise before, nor have I ever been to Mexico, but we've wanted to go for years! Cozumel is an island just off the coast of Cancun. We want to go to the mainland and see the ruins of Tulum and go snorkeling.

We're going on the Carnival Ecstacy leaving from right here in Galveston. We actually got the cruise for listening to a time share presentation. Yes, it really worked! I had to go through all the hoops. We ended up paying about $300 for taxes and stuff. I'm so excited. "Grandma Donaldson" flew here to play with the kids while we're gone. That's fun for the kids. John has school this Saturday as a makeup day.

I'll post pictures when we get back! See you in five days/four nights.

Family on my mind

We are all happy and comfortable. Here's John and Lila in their bunk bed, one of two pieces of furniture we saved. We'll never again take for granted a place of our own where we can stay for more than a few months at a time. These kids are getting to be so big and so smart! John is turning seven next month and Lila will be in Kindergarten next year.

This little guy is a rare specimen from a planet in the AB-76Y Galaxy. We named him Apollo and tried to make him feel at home.

This next specimen, sitting by John, is named Tristan, and he is from the planet called 2nd grade. I think he wants us to adopt him. He comes over to play almost every day and likes his picture taken.

I have more pictures, but I need to get another kind of cord. I think this picture is cute of little Lila. Picture caption, "Mom, am I so so pretty?" In preschool, she really sticks close to all the other little girls and the little boys seem invisible. She makes little cards for her friends and talks about them and what clothes they wear and who is the prettiest girl in class. She has her favorite outfits and wants her hair a certain way.

This picture is especially for Grandma and Grandpa Alexander who gave her the furniture and dolls for this house. The furniture can light up, talk, change views, etc. It's so cute.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pumkin days at the Loveridges

Fall is a fun time.  Here are some pictures of us picking out pumpkins and making haunted houses.  Also, here is a picture of a dinner with the Loveridges.  We're glad to share these fun times with them.  We are also excited, though, that we get to move back to Galveston at the end of this week.  We'll have to stay with a friend there also, for one or two weeks still, while Rich starts work and before the apartment is habitable.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Two months later...

We are getting ready to head back to Galveston in a week. We will have been staying with the Loveridges for a whole two months. They feel like family now. Thank you, Loveridge family, for making room for us, moving around your beds and clothes and expanding the kitchen table. Thanks for helping us get our stuff from Galveston and clean it. Thanks Alisha for helping me find a new car and new furniture at yard sales, and for helping me scan all my damp pictures and papers, helping me with sewing projects, and many other things. Thanks for making us feel at home and sharing everything with us so easily. It was so fun and memorable to share this time with you. Thanks to so many people in the Loveridges' ward and also people in the 6th ward and many other friends for their help and to the missionaries who came and helped, and also to family members in Utah.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

My Lazy Post

Alisha (our current host) wrote a couple of really good posts recently about our experiences with the hurricane clean-up. She did a good job with it, I thought, so I am going to suggest you go there for photos and stories of going back to Galveston and of the generosity we've received since.
Richard has been doing very well in his Internal Medicine rotation, and it is a very demanding one! Good job, Rich!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I'm not even going to tell you about what we found in the fridge...

We were finally able to go back to Galveston last Wednesday. Our friend Ben came with us and we drove in his truck, "blue", and pulled a U-Haul trailer. We saved as much as we could, but pretty much lost all the furniture. We were blessed that no important papers or pictures were lost. Not to mention that we did not own the place where we were living. The biggest loss for us was the old '90 Toyota Camry that had been flooded.
It was a lot of work to clean everything up that we did save, when we got it back to San Antonio, but it became easy when my friend Alisha worked right by me the whole time and recruited six missionaries to come over. A Sister in Alisha's ward recruited six other Sisters to help wash all the clothes, bedding and towels we recovered. We have been so touched by the outpouring of offers to help and donated clothing and other things, and many by people we don't even know. We are so grateful for our friends that are letting us stay with them for this extended period of time (probably two monts). I know we are soooo fortunate. Many of the residents of Galveston don't have the same kind of support system through family and church that we have. It was saddening to be on the island and realize that the reporters' photos were not exaggerated. Here are some of our own pictures. These are mild compared to the damage many other's had. Our apartment only got six inches of flooding. These are pictures of some of the mold that grew up on the furniture and walls:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Hurricane Ike was the most devastating storm to hit Galveston in 108 years. The hurricane that destroyed Galveston in 1900 was the largest natural disaster in the history of the U.S. It could have been as bad this time, also, if it wasn't for the seawall that was built after the 1900 storm. I thought I would write down a little about our experience so far. 

Last Thursday, we heard that Ike turned toward us and was huge. We wanted to start evacuating and the kids' schools had cancelled all classes for the next day, but both Richard and I were told to be into work the next day as usual. On Friday, I went in and was sent home a half-hour later. Richard's meetings were cancelled. We started getting ready to head out. We packed four days worth of clothes and our toiletries. We packed the most expensive foods from the freezer to bring with us. I moved my guitar, Lila's dollhouse, our boxes of childhood things and pictures, our clarinets, and some other things off the floor and away from windows. We also took water, extra flashlights, cash, our computer, and our file box of important papers. 

It took us eight hours to drive to San Antonio, which would usually be a four-hour drive on a good day. We felt like we were coming home, and were so glad to see our friends. The Loveridges took us in and said we can stay as long as we need to. They have a beautiful, large house, and made us feel comfortable. They have four kids who are tons of fun and John and Lila are in heaven, being with them. We were surprised when we found out what a hit Galveston took. We are anxious to see our apartment and to try to save what we can, but so far, we can't get on the island. The officials tried opening it up to residents during the daytime to "look and leave" today, but it was too chaotic, so they changed their minds and we don't know when our next chance will be. I think the fridge will be a toxic mess (I wish we had cleaned it out more) and I also remembered some family albums that were near the floor that I hadn't moved. I also forgot to grab our 72-hour kit.  I hope all our furniture won't be totally ruined. The more we hear, it sounds like we probably got flooded with a few feet of water, and it will be a couple weeks to a month before the island is "inhabitable". The WIC office I work for is closed indefinitely and Rich's residency doesn't know when to expect the hospital to be up and going again. For now, they set him up with a month-long hospital rotation here in SA, which may start in a week or so. 

It's dizzying, all these unexpected twists and turns we've had. It's been about a year since our life has been thrown up in the air. I guess we're STILL waiting for it to come back down. On the other hand, I am really enjoying the moments and the adventure it all is. I feel I can do this because I know my family and I are anchored in the gospel and supported by awesome family and friends. I know that God has blessed us and has great things in store for us.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Take a Hike Ike

We are safe in San Antonio staying with friends. The hurricane passed over Galveston last night and we're just trying to find out when it will be safe to head back. In the mean time, we're having a good time hanging out with our friends and feeling grateful for what we have.