Thursday, July 30, 2009

The big 3-0

Typically this blog is dedicated to Jake, but I decided to take a moment to dedicate a blog to me. Last Sunday, July 26, I turned 30 years old. I got to have lots of celebrations thanks to my wonderful family. Kevin took me to the movies and the Melting Pot on Saturday night. I LOVED the Melting Pot. We also spent the day at Schlitterbahn on Monday and had a great time. Here we are enjoying the dessert fondue. I actually feel perfectly fine entering into a new decade of my life. I'm happy to be able to say that probably because I'm pretty happy with how I've spent the previous decade. Of course, everyone has ups and downs and there have been some downs, but overally the highs win over. I thought I'd share 11 things out of the many I'm proud and/or happy about over the last 10 years of my life. Just to clarify, these are in no particular order.

1. I graduated from Baylor University with a BBA in Management with a minor in Corporate Communicationsin December 2001, and had a great time along the way. I am so glad I chose Baylor; it was the perfect college for me.
2. As a summer job in college in 1999, 2000, and 2001, I worked at Camp Sweeney,, a summer camp for kids with Type 1 Diabetes. Camp Sweeney is a very special place and I feel proud to have been a part of the work they are doing for kids (and as an additional perk, it's where I met #4).

3. I spent my final semester of college studying abroad in Europe. I specifically lived in Maastricht, Netherlands, but I had the opportunity to travel all over. I now realize it must have been really hard for my parents to send me off on my own, but I am forever grateful. I went solo, lived in an international dorm, and made friends and travel partners once there. I feel proud of the maturity, independence and knowledge I gained from that amazing experience.

4. On January 3, 2004, I married an incredible man who is a perfect match for me. We are very different, but those differences complement each other in a way and that forms a bond that I give God credit for. I am daily blessed by the way Kevin loves me, encourages me, and supports me no matter what. I love you Kevin! Thank you for being alongside me for the last decade.

5. For my first full-time job after college, I followed my heart and God's calling and worked for a non-profit organization called CITY House, as the Volunteer Coordinator. The job paid next to nothing, but I loved it. I had the opportunity to work with great people and was exposed to the profession of social work for the first time. Looking back, it really was God who brought me to CITY House because it is there where my interest in social work was sparked, and today I'm proud to call myself a social worker.

6. After two years at CITY House, I knew it was time to move on because I had realized my passion and wanted to work more directly to help people. With that desire in mind, I was accepted, and ultimately completed the MSSW program at the University of Texas at Austin in 2006. At the time, UT's social work program was in the top 10 in the nation, so I feel proud to have a graduate degree from such a reputable school. It may make me a nerd, but I really loved school. I probably loved it so much because it was a perfect fit for who I am. I loved meeting new, amazing people, being filled with new and interesting information, and being challenged to discover who I wanted to become as a professional. I studied full-time, then passed my licensing test, so I currently have my LMSW. Here I am on graduation day with a group of girls from my cohort. What an amazing group of women!

7. In the summers of 2005 and 2006, Kevin, I, Chad, and Cassy spent 6 weeks each in Osaka, Japan with the Let's Start Talking ministry. Let's Start Talking (LST) shares the love of Jesus through building relationships with others by teaching English with the book of Luke. We were working with the Be One Church led by the Huddleston family. Here are the Huddlestons our first summer: Chad, Jennifer, Anika, Josiah, and Caleb. Since that time, they now have two additional children, Katia and Gideon.
It seems impossible to me to find the right words to describe what those summers mean to me. First of all, God showed His love to me like no way I had ever known. The Be One Church and Osaka were a perfect fit for us and I think we all fell in love with the people there. It's really amazing to have the opportunity to devote 6 solid weeks to sharing Jesus with others. I pray I never lose sight of the amazing time we had in Osaka, and that it always serves as a reminder of how I should live my daily life here in Texas. Here are the four of us with one of our closest friends in Japan, Yuki.Here I am with two of our "readers" who I think I can describe as Die Hard LST. Rina and Hitomi were college students who were with us both summers. Through LST, each of us were matched with 12-15 Japanese "readers" who we met with individually for an hour at a time to have an English lesson. We also organized many social events including Bunko, barbeques, ladies craft and potluck lunches. Rina and Hitomi came to pretty much every event and we spent lots of additional social time with these girls.
In the Summer of '06, Carla joined us for three weeks. It was great to share this experience as a family. We definitely grew closer as a result. Here we are with one of the Be One church members, Chiaki.
8. After grad school, I began working at a local middle school running a Communities In Schools program. For almost 3 years I have been working with CIS,, to help support children and families. My job definitely has challenges, but with those challenges come great rewards. I also really stand behind CIS as an organization dedicated to helping students. If you live in the Austin area and are looking to volunteer or for an organization to support, this is definitely a great one doing wonderful work in the community.

9. I became a mom to an amazing little boy, Jacob Evan. Jake has definitely changed our lives like no way I could have ever imagined. He is an answer to many prayers and I'm thankful God has chosen Kevin and I to raise him. I can't wait to experience a lifetime of watching him learn and grow.

10. We made the decision that I will stay at home full-time to take care of Jake. I just finished with my job at CIS two weeks ago. It was definitely bittersweet because I love what I do, but I'm thankful and excited to be able to take on this new adventure. A good friend of ours, Anthony, described parenthood as a ministry which I feel is an accurate description. I hope that I can fulfill God's calling in the ministry that lays before me.

11. We belong to a church I really love, Westover Hills Church of Christ, I think one of the greatest things about our church is the fact that its name had nothing do to with why we chose to make it our church home. When I think of Westover, I think of a true family who shows love to everyone. Neither Kevin nor I have family living in the Austin area, but Westover has provided a home for us where we're showered with love and support. We have been a part of the Young Married group there for over 4 years and I am so thankful for the friendships we've made in that group. We also became "Huddle leaders" to the class of 2011 at the beginning of last school year and I feel honored to have the chance to help lead and to love these amazing young people. This is a group of our friends who surprised me to celebrate my 28th birthday at Trudy's.

I don't know what the future holds, but I'm excited to see what God has in store for my family and me.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Family Fun

Jake and I just got back from a week of family fun. The first half of the week was spent at the lake with the Lawson family and the second half was spent hanging out with at my parents' house. Here's some of our fun. We got to hang out on the boat thanks to Cassy's aunt and uncle, Sheila and Neal and her cousins Holt and Paige. Here's Jake sporting his lake boating gear. It's always fun when we get to spend time with Chad, Cassy, and Cohen. I enjoy seeing Jake and Cohen together, and seeing some of what we have in store raising a little boy. Here's Cohen's post-tubing, windblown look. It's really cute and funny how his hair is sticking up (this is not his normal look).Brothers tubing together. How cute!We took Jake to his first Rangers game. I was a little hesitant about him going because of the heat, but the weather cooperated and it cooled down. It was a night game, so we were never in the sun and it amazingly never felt hot. Jake did great, even staying up way past his bedtime.

We also spent some time swimming. Jake was kicking his feet and splashing in the water like a natural.

Hanging out with Mom Barr.Grandmomma and Papa bought Jake lots of new toys so he can always have lots of fun when he comes to visit. He's already learning how to strum the piano keys.

Blocks sure do taste good.
Wow! I have so much stuff, I don't know what to play with first. Thanks, Grandmomma and Papa. I had so much fun with you!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

6 months old

Jake turned 6 months old Thursday. This is a really unbelievable time because it truly feels like he's growing daily. It's fun watching all his new "tricks." One of his best new tricks is sitting up on his own. He's still a little wobbly, but he can sit without assistance for several minutes. It won't be long until I can just plop him down sitting.

Here are the pics taken from his 1/2 birthday. I have made signs saying his age, but it's now becoming hard to take a good picture of him and see the sign at the same time....this is what happens. Wow! I'm sitting!

Now that we've started cereal, we're now using the high chair. Here he is trying to eat it.
Lastly, showing his sitting abilities again. He's really a happy boy and is really full of smiles now. I love this look on his face.

Friday, July 3, 2009

California trip part 3

Here is the final edition of California trip pictures. These are all from the San Francisco half of the trip. The flowers were absolutely beautiful. this is Jake and I at Pier 39. It's hardly a trip to San Francisco without riding a cable's our cable car experience.
Kevin and my Dad went to a SF Giants game. It just happened that they were playing against the Rangers, so they had the opportunity to cheer on the Rangers. Unfortunately, their cheering didn't lead to a TX victory, but I think the guys had a lot of fun.
The three of us toured Alcatraz. Here we are on the boat that took us to and from the island.
It was SCARY being in the prison! I told Jake I expected this to be his first and only experience in a jail cell.
One of the great things about the trip was the weather. It was perfect. Cool, breezy, with sunshine....the perfect weather to be out. Near the water and in the mornings it was cool enough to need a jacket, but because it's over 100 in Texas, we didn't really have too many clothing options to keep Jake warm. I brought every long sleeved, long pant clothing I could find that I thought might fit him, but because all his warm clothes are too small sometimes he ended up looking like a little ragamuffin. Oh well, he stayed warm, and I think he looks pretty cute even when he's not matching.
Jake looking at the sea lions off Pier 39.
Kevin and I and the Golden Gate bridge.
Kevin has a cousin who lives outside of San Francisco, so we had the chance to eat dinner with her and her husband. Jake loved cousin Tracy.
Finally, Daddy and Jake in front of the Golden Gate bridge.
We really had a great time. It was an awesome trip, Jake adapted well, the weather was incredible, and we were able to spend some good family time together. Thanks, Mom and Dad for giving us this opportunity.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

California Part 2

Here's some more pics from the first half of our trip. This is a shot of our hotel. The flowers in front of the lobby building were beautiful. This is a view of the sunset from our balcony. Nothing beats being able to look out your window and see the ocean.
My dad loves golf and fulfilled one of his wishes to play at Pebble Beach. I went along for the ride to enjoy the wonderful view, my dad's company, and take pictures.
We stayed busy on the trip, but a big part of it was spending time as a family----with my parents and also the 3 of us. I think Kevin is the best at making Jake laugh. One way he plays with him is to "wrestle" on the bed. Jake loves it and is full of laughs.
This was our one beach visit. It was too cold for much more.
This was Jake's first time seeing the ocean, and of course, we had to get his feet wet. I tried to capture Jake's expression when his feet hit the water and I think I did a better job of capturing Kevin's expression (although Jake looked pretty similar). Needless to say, it was very chilly.
Another scenic view along our Big Sur drive.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

California trip part 1

As I mentioned before, we went on vacation to California with my parents. We've already been back for over a week, but things are crazy around here. Here are a few photos; there are still many more to come. Here's Jake on his first plane ride. He did AMAZING on the way there. It helped to have super nice people sitting next to us. The man in the background is a Grandpa who was super nice to us and Jake.I got a new umbrella stroller just before the trip. It was perfect and I'm so glad we took it instead of bothering with our regular stroller. Here is where Jake spent A LOT of his time on the trip....luckily he really seemed to like it and was able to even fall asleep without a peep while we were out and about.Our first stop on the trip was Carmel, CA. We stayed in an amazing hotel, Highlands Inn. This is a view from our balcony.We rented a car for the first part of the trip, and one day we drove along the coast in an area called Big Sur. Basically, we admired the gorgeous views and stopped frequently at the overlooks. Here's a pic of us from one of the overlooks. Here are the guys in front of Carmel Mission (Jake is sound asleep). We visited the Mission on a Sunday morning, which made for a really beautiful experience. The weather was amazing, the buildings and grounds were beautiful and we could hear the singing from inside the church building: a wonderful morning.
That's all for now, stay posted for more about our trip.