Sunday, April 13, 2014

Road Trip: Texas, Day 10

Day 10


Ripped from our beds while it was still dark by screaming fire alarms throughout the building. 

I grabbed our room key and my phone (but not our car keys) and went out of our room to find our kids covering their ears and still in their beds. 

I stayed calm and said, "Alright kids, let's go."

J grabbed her flip-flops and headed towards the door, O wondered what was going on, H and Z doubted the validity of the alarm and asked why we had to go outside. 

In response, I asked them, "Where's Daddy?"

Some organization we have! No one had any natural sense of danger while fire alarms are blaring all around us. 

J was obedient to my instructions, but the three boys took the "Question everything," to mean, "Question Mama about everything." And C had gone to the front desk to find out what was going on. 

We used to practice fire drills when kids were little, but it's probably time to reinstitute some kind of plan in these situations. 

We walked outside and waited by our Sequoia, C joined us soon after, with news that it was a prank. 

The air was already warm. We could not hear the alarms outside, so it was quiet and dark. Better to be there than in the room with alarms blaring. So we waited until they were shut down. 

On the bright side, we were up early for the drive home. 


Car loaded. Breakfast had. On the road. I'm driving. (I typed this note before I was actually driving.)

Road Trip: Texas, Day 9

Day 9

I woke early. C and the kids were still sleeping. I used the quiet time to read my Bible and talk to God for a while. I also posted to the blog for the day before. 

By 8:45am, the others were waking for breakfast. The regular routine of breakfast at the hotel has been good for us, but I'm growing tired of the same ol' choices, day after day. All I really want are more Texas-shaped waffles. But I limited myself this vacation. 

After breakfast, we headed to some new-to-us neighborhoods, closer to downtown Houston. Ideally, a shorter commute for C would be great, unfortunately, we are not city-life people. 

We did give it some thought though. We ultimately decided we couldn't do it.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Road Trip: Texas, Day 8

Day 8

C woke me this morning just before 6:00am on his way out of our hotel room. He was heading to the dining room for breakfast and to complete the standard job application for the company with whom he was interviewing today. 

I spent time in the Word and did some house searches on my tablet. Eventually, I rose to get the kids rolling for breakfast. 

The meals here at the hotel aren't spectacular, but they are "good enough."  Additionally, they are free. Or included. For some reason, our kids love hotel food. So they all get out of bed with a good attitude and head over to the dining area each new day. 

C texted me when he could to update me about when he arrived, the check-in process, how each section of interview went, etc. I missed him. 

After breakfast, J and O joined me for a walking adventure. C had the Sequoia, so our only options were to hang out at the hotel or take a walk to see what was right around the hotel. The older boys opted to sit around the hotel and play video games. Not surprising. But I didn't argue because taking just the younger two would make things easier on me, which is the option I choose every time while on vacation. 

So we set out and headed right down the major road our hotel is on. J, naturally wary, stayed by me cautiously. Where there were wide sidewalks, she walked next to me and often reached over to hold my hand as cars and busses went whizzing by. 

O, on the other hand, who is rarely cautious enough and always abounding in energy unless he's ill, ran (or skipped) way ahead, often teetering on the edge of the busy road like a balance beam. I had to keep reminding him to be as far away from the edge as the walkway allowed, as well as reeling him back from being too far ahead that he could not hear my instructions. 

J and O are good for one another. J constantly mothers him and helps him learn to stop and think about things, while O does a good job helping her not to take life too seriously and to occasionally throw some caution to the wind. I have no doubt that left to their own devices, they could probably work themselves out of any situation, as often as they manage to work their way into many situations. These people are going to be outstanding adults someday and I can't wait to know them then. For now, I'm blessed that they call me Mama and that I get to witness their personalities and gifts on a daily basis.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Road Trip: Texas, Days 6 & 7

My note-taking in the past two days has been sketchy (if any at all), so I'm going to compile my thoughts as I put this post together, throw in some low-quality phone photos and call it a day-- or rather, two days.

Day 6


Good morning. I'm claiming this attitude in spite of a restless night of sleep. Jesus, please make it so. 

Today is C's last day of 40. He has some good things planned for tomorrow, so I'm praying that he will have no major interruptions. 

On the high level, he hopes to get up early to spend some time on his own and bring back doughnuts for everyone.  He started last Father's Day this way and discovered it suits him. He is hoping to fit in a visit to Penzey's Spices and the Space Center. Of course, we are all excitedly awaiting his gift opening. 

Tomorrow night also includes a visit to church and youth group and probably sushi at some point. 

2:41 pm

Our goal today is to use two of our CityPass tickets today, as well as visit the American Girl store so J can spend the money she's been saving. 

(And this is where my notes leave off, in hopes my memory is enough.)

At this point, my note plan was to reflect back a month or so to when I posted on Instagram about J's desire for an American Girl Doll and share with you God's blessing of an anonymous gift from one of our Instagram friends who felt called to fulfill J's hope. She received her American Girl Doll soon after and she looks just like her - straight brown hair and blue eyes. Someday back home, I should post the video of her receiving the doll. She was so completely joyful, she had me near tears as I witnessed her receive a gift so special from someone special God put in our lives. Since that day, she's had a new desire: to outfit the doll she calls "Jessica" with the finest clothes and accessories. 

Anyway, we headed downtown to visit the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston (MFAH). as it was one of our remaining tickets. This museum did not disappoint. It has a lot of large, dramatic empty spaces like most big city art museums seem to have, which make an equally defining statement as the abundance of art displays. The art was not only plentiful, but diverse and high-quality. There were original works from artists I've actually heard about, like Picasso, and large collections of work from artists I know less about, such as Braque.  There was a variety of artistic examples from sculptures to oil paintings and spanning thousands of years and cultures all around the globe.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Road Trip: Texas, Day 5

Day 5


I woke again at 3:30am with excruciating hip AND calf pain. I was up till 4:30am, praying and stretching in the dark. Again, not sure if it's the bed or extra exercise I'm getting on vacation, but either way, it's painful and uninspiring and I don't like it. 

I slept till 7:37am after falling back to sleep. 


We've been out exploring most of the day. So far, our favorite area is League City. There is a certain charm that appeals to us in that town. There's a lot of new development, but we especially like the more historic elements and the community areas. 

Per usual, we always find the best houses are about $100,000 more than we want to spend. But when the timing is right, The Lord will point us to the right house and give us provision for it.

Road Trip: Texas, Day 4

Day 4


Maybe I went to sleep too early! Why am I awake?  My hips are killing me. Not sure if it was the sand-walking or this bed. Either way, I'm up for a bit, trying to pace and stretch the discomfort away. 


I have moved around a lot in my lifetime. Every move presents new challenges, but greater blessings. I think I've learned to rely on The Lord a lot more than if I'd stayed in one comfortable spot for decades.

The thing I've learned best, though, is that I can live just about any place. Whatever the climate, however the environment and whatever the circumstance, my Home is in Heaven, so where I reside on earth is in service to my God. I am willing to go where He calls or sends us because that is one of my contributions to His work in this world. 

It doesn't mean that leaving what's comfortable and good friends or family behind is any easier with each move. It is necessary for my faith and I accept that. But I do struggle with major life change and discomfort. 

This part of Texas is really beautiful and the people are friendly. I have no doubt I will survive and thrive here where the gulf is near and there is an even distribution of trees and open sky (a mix between NH and NM). I love that everywhere we go, there are messages of hope on billboards and signs because the nature of the majority of these people is to know about (and love?) The Lord, to vote conservatively and to treat others with respect. 

But Texas definitely feels a bit like a foreign country to me. I can't really put my finger on it. There is just this weird sense that Texas is not like any place I have lived so far. Texas is also a diverse land. What type of living here will be God's best for our lives and for raising our kids?

I love having access to places and variety, but as I age, a quieter life calls to me as well. There is an appeal to coastal life where services are distant and must be better planned out to accomplish errands in chunks, rather than sporadically throughout each day. However, living in closer proximity to people and business usually offers more opportunities for us to serve others and to find friendships and support. 

I am primarily an introvert. I adapt well to situations and can be more social if need be. But our kids - even our more introverted two - need more social interaction than I require. My husband needs people to talk to, definitely. He is constantly on a mission to learn. He is going nuts as we drive around and his head fills with more questions than we can answer in one visit. 

What are people fishing for? How does all this oil refining machinery work? What will this place be like in different seasons? Where are the places that serve to best local catches?

He not only longs for answers, but for personal understanding. 

So I'm excited to continue exploring the area this week. I pray that my Lord reveals to us where He wants us to settle in. He has work for us here. He has blessings waiting for us here. But where will we find the greatest opportunity for both?  I'm not sure I've seen it just yet. But I am on alert and waiting for His urging. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Road Trip: Texas, Day 3

Day 3


Up by seven and breakfast at the hotel is finished. 

The breakfast today has the usual hotel fare, including a variety of bread choices in a case, yogurt on ice and fruit in a basket, but they also offered scrambled eggs, sausage, oatmeal, etc. and most importantly, Texas-shaped waffles.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Road Trip: Texas, Day 2

Day 2


On a regular day at home, I'm scarcely awake by seven or eight, but here on vacation, I woke naturally at six (5:00am our time) and felt rested and ready for the day. Very strange. 

The older boys shared a queen-sized bed to my left and gosh, was that an ordeal. They've been spoiled to have their own beds too many times on trips (worth it to avoid the controversy), but last night was just a stopover in the drive, so we didn't feel two rooms was necessary. 

This morning, they awoke just as rowdy and competitive as they were last night, so I shooed them from our room to sit and watch the lobby television before they woke the rest of the family. Those boys will behave better with a different audience and I was able to study my Bible in peace. 

C is to my right, still sleeping, and beyond him is J in the pullout couch and O is on the couch cushions in a bed made up on the floor. They seem sufficiently zonked for the time being. 

I find myself to be extra think-y while traveling, so I hope you'll put up with my random connections to regular life. I reread my post from yesterday and realized where my head was most of the time. While we explore the unfamiliar, it gives me time to reflect on everyday things. I'm not sure why or if I'm alone on that, but if you mind too much, then you can just skip this set of posts. 

Anyway, for me, day two has begun. I am sitting in a dark room with the glare of my screen and the flashing lights of the smoke detectors above for company. The bed here was sufficient without being overly firm or soft. I slept alright.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Road Trip: Texas, Day 1

I'm trying something new...blogging on my iPad. So if there is crazy spacing or excessive typos, I hope you'll extend some grace.

Since I'm on leave from Instagram, I thought I'd try sharing our trip to Texas in blog form. Here it goes.

Day 1

On the road by 9:00am (an hour later than planned), but we don't need fuel or breakfast, so no need to stop for quite a bit. Also, it dawns on me now that if we had left on time we would have been completely stuck in commute traffic.