Thursday, November 12, 2009

A big change

Friends and family-
There are those of you who know some or all of what I'm about to relay, so I apologize for any boring details that you've heard already. We want to bring you up to speed with our family, so you'll know what's next for us and will know how to pray for us. Hopefully, you'll find at least something in this correspondence that is new information to you (maybe it's just this random fact--insects outnumber humans 1,000,000:1).

I (A.J.) retired as a teacher in May 2009 to pursue a future with Chick-fil-A restaurant in hopes of someday owning a CFA store of my own. I know that a fast food chicken restaurant is a strange calling, but have come to realize that such a place is a great blend of the type of work and ministry opportunities that I love. I have filled a management position at the local CFA in Midland since this summer, but I have realized that this particular store wasn't the best fit for my skills and interests. I still firmly believe that my passions and abilities very much line up with the ideals of the company, and have been in pursuit of other leadership opportunities at other CFA restaurants throughout the country. Recently, our family has traveled to some of those restaurants in areas closer to where we have roots (namely, Colorado and Arkansas) to interview in several stores where we think I could thrive. Those interviews went very well indeed. It looks like we have really appealing and exciting options at several places in Arkansas (Bentonville, Little Rock, and Rogers), and the ball is now in our court to choose between those locations. Each of them offers slightly different opportunities/advantages, so we are currently weighing those things and seeking God's direction. Will you pray for clarity in these decisions?

One thing that we do know at this point is that this is all coming together very swiftly. If all goes as planned (when does it ever?), I will start at a new place as soon as November 30th. I am wrapping up my time at the local CFA (finishing next week), and then will have Thanksgiving week to finalize as many details as possible here and line up as much as we can there (wherever there is), and to say our goodbyes to loved ones in Midland. Most likely, I will start in Arkansas by myself, and live with someone in the area, and Megan and our kids will head to Colorado Springs to be with her folks while we try to find a specific place to settle. Not surprisingly, we are experiencing a full range of emotions--fear, anxiety, excitement, doubt, sorrow, worry, relief, etc.--but we're confident that God's hand is in this, and that He'll bless any decision so long as we do what we can to honor Him and be faithful wherever He has us. It is agonizing to think about leaving this community/school/church that we've grown to love over the 6.5 years we've been here, but we also don't want to be Midland/MCA/MBC worshipers; we want to serve and follow the God who presides over all these things, Who so knowingly and lovingly provides such good gifts to His children.

Finally, we covet your prayers in this process, as we sort through all the big decisions ahead. We may call on some of you who are local to help us pack boxes and tie up loose ends when that time comes, but that probably won't be until the end of the month. We'd like to offer a heartfelt thanks for your overwhelming and steady support and love through this process. God is good, all the time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Vote for glasses

Lydia broke her first pair of glasses, and I'm trying to decide between these purple frames and her old pink frames. Votes?

Hopefully there will be a lot more updates coming soon.



Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dress up

Wow! I almost went a whole month without a single post. Better hurry and get something finished tonight!

The Snells handed down some dress up clothes that the girls are thoroughly enjoying! They had the perfect opportunity to wear them last weekend for our precious family friend Julie's 18th birthday party. It was a $5 formal, so Jenna and Lydia fit right in with their new favorite clothes!

Julie and some of her biggest fans

They love to dance with these clothes on!

Nice heels, Lydi!

And here's a few more of our highlights of September.

We've started going to story time at the library once a week, and the girls love it! They read a story, sing songs, and do a fun craft. An added bonus is that their friends Joe and Will come too! Here's Lydia and Joe reading the books they picked out. This was NOT posed! Adorable!

Wow--they're good looking!

AJ's been working some crazy shifts like 3 am to 3 pm lately, so Lydia likes to take advantage of the extra opportunities to snuggle with Daddy. The two of them are the best snugglers in our house!

Love this smile!

My parents came for Labor Day weekend, and we had a great time with them as usual. Drew had lots of smiles for Grandpa.

Such a sweet picture! Lydia and Grammy (her new nickname for Grandma--we'll see if it lasts!)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Jenna's funny face

Jenna recently started copying the look I give her when I don't approve of what just happened but don't know how I want to respond yet...wet panties, taking some decorative flowers from their place to play with, etc., etc. We now call it her funny face, and she likes to stare people down with her look until they laugh. Sometimes she includes a "Mommy" in a gruff voice in an attempt to make me crack--it works every time!


Lately I've been really overwhelmed by several people in our lives who take a really big interest in our family, especially our kids. Here's some recent pictures of a few of them and a couple stories.

Amy talked to me at church last Spring and asked if she could be our nanny for the summer. I told her I'd love having her around my house but hadn't been budgeting for a nanny. First she offered to do it as her ministry (wow!) then her mom said she'd pay her daughter to work for me (wow again!). She came two or three times a week for about three hours and gave me time to clean, run errands, or spend one-on-one time with one of the kids. She showed so much initiative and became great at knowing the little things she could do around the house to really lighten my load. Amy has now started her freshman year of high school, so we don't get to see her nearly as much. We enjoy catching some volleyball games and seeing her at church.

Julie and I have been meeting for mentoring/discipleship since she was in eighth grade. Over the years, she has begun to feel more like a part of our family (like a niece) than a student/babysitter/girl I meet with. Julie's now a senior and super busy but still making time to be with us. She's so mature, thoughtful, generous...a precious friend to me! We're doing Beth Moore's "A Woman's Heart, God's Dwelling Place" together this year, and I'm looking forward to all that I'll learn from her! I think this picture of Julie with our kids may show up in her senior slide show, which shows you what a big part of her life she considers our kids to be!

This is Caleb and Leslie. Caleb's the guy we named Drew after. They were both MCA students that AJ really connected with, and now they're dating! Leslie's parents moved away, but she came back to visit and we got to have her stay with us. It was a big treat to have so much time with them, and they are a definite example of people who think the smallest things our kids do are impressive. Caleb says "That's awesome!" every time Drew stands up, the girls sing their ABCs...don't know if I've ever seen a college guy be so enamored by little kids before.

We're truly loved and feel so grateful and humbled.

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's the first day of school

...and for the first time since AJ and I were 5, it doesn't affect our lives.

It's kinda sad for me, but AJ's just focused on what he's doing at Chick-fil-A. I'm just so thankful for the privilege of being home with my kids instead of heading out the door to a classroom full of kids. I try to thank AJ at least once a day for going to work and providing a way for me to stay home. Of course, it's plenty of work, but it's the work I really want to be spending my time on!

Drew started waving a bit today, so here's a video of his new fun tricks.

Lydia has had her glasses for almost a week now. She's doing a great job of keeping them on, and Jenna has had no problem accepting that she doesn't have glasses like her sister. The doctor says her vision is fine, but this should relax her focusing to help her eyes quit crossing. For now, I just think she's a cutie in her little pink glasses!

We had a super fun weekend. We went to a minor league baseball game with lots of church friends, and a sweet lady at church painted lots of the kids' faces. She's so good!

Jenna the Princess and Lydia the Kitty
Hey--I don't have to label the girls anymore! You can tell them apart!

The kids have been really sweet and loving with each other lately. Drew smiles a lot when the girls give him attention (with some occassional laughing and hair pulling). He's learning to give them kisses, and they just tend to be very sweet and thoughtful with him.

Drew likes to stand and play for a bit but only when we stand him up. No pulling up yet (thankfully!)

One funny story: When the girls aren't sharing or any of the many other issues in a typical day, I sometimes say, "That's not sweet." So the other day Jenna was getting into something and I told her no. She replied with a funny, disapproving look and said, "Mommy, that's not sweet. You no tell me no!"

Hmmm...looks like she has some learning to do about the way life goes. :)

I have some more fun pictures from the last couple weeks. Hopefully I'll post them soon!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Here's some updates from the last couple weeks.

Love my little boy! Lately, he's busy rolling around getting into things and also cut his first two bottom teeth last week. His toothy grin is precious!

He loves zucchini, peas, squash, peaches, avacado...everything but bananas so far. This is a picture after a bite of bananas. "Yuck, Mom!"

Swimming at AJ's new boss's house at a Chick-fil-A staff party.

If you can't tell, Drew's in a high chair and the girls are being the mommies. Obviously. :)

Lydia with Leila and Elena

We had a great time with Grandma Perea here! She stayed busy playing, helping around the house, and doing several projects for us. Oh, and taking could I forget?

Lydia enjoys one of Poppie's famous foot rubs.

Poppie time. He also had very few moments when he was laying around. He helped AJ with some wiring projects, refinished a dresser, helped me with cleaning, and enjoyed the kids--especially his buddy Drew.

And here's our little Lydia whose eyes seem to be crossing more and more as the days go on. We have an appointment to see the eye doctor in a couple weeks. Yesterday she left them crossed for several hours in a row, but today they've only crossed for a few short moments. Maybe the difficulties in telling the girls apart will be over if Lydia needs glasses!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Summer fun

We're enjoying our summer days here in Midland! AJ started on July 1 at Chick-fil-A, so we're adjusting to all that means for our entire family. We've also had a great time with some visitors and are looking forward to AJ's parents coming in a few days.

Drew plays with Grandpa. Don't mind all the laundry in the background.

Drew's loving solids so far!

My mom made these adorable dresses for the girls. It's a great bonus to have a mom that's such a great seamstress!

Twin group--so fun!

Drew tries on Uncle Ben's Arkansas Baseball hat

Uncle Ben is so much fun!

Our kids love time with Uncle Ben and Aunt Maggie, and we're so glad to have a brother and sister who are such precious friends of ours.

Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A--AJ was such a good sport to wear this costume all day!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The cute conversations have begun

Just as I was closing the door to the girls' room for the night one time last week, we had this interchange:

Jenna: "Mom"
Mommy: "Yes?"
Jenna: " to stall so I wouldn't close the door) You're the bomb."
Mommy: "Oh, you're so sweet!" (I go give her a hug and kiss) "I love you."
Lydia: (watching) "Mom, you're the bomb dot com."

Precious! This was the first time they'd said it without prompting from AJ, and it was definitely the highlight of my week.

We also recently overheard this between the girls:
L: "Look, Jenna, purple. Your favorite color!" (bringing J something purple)
J: "Thank you Lydia!"
L: "You're welcome."

Wow--manners and thoughtfulness without a reminder--progress!

One more. AJ had this conversation with Jenna recently:

AJ: "Jenna, Daddy's getting ready for work."
J: "Daddy loves Jenna and Lydia!" (This is a common phrase at our house. The girls ask where Daddy is, and I say, "Daddy's at work. Why does Daddy go to work?" They answer, "He loves us.")
AJ: "Yeah, of course. That's why I go to work--because I love you."
J: Pause...thinking..."Daddy die on cross?"
AJ: "Nope, only Jesus died on the cross. He did it because he loves you very much."
J: "Jesus get owies on the cross?"
AJ: "Yes, he got big owies on the cross."
J: "I kiss Jesus owies."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day

We had a great time celebrating Father's Day all weekend. Here's a few pictures and videos of our fun family times together.

Love, love, love this picture and these people!

Breakfast in bed--check out all those crazy curls for all three of them!

And a sweet one of Drew just because I like it!

Here's a video of the girls singing "Happy Daddy's Day!"

Friday, June 19, 2009

Oregon and California

From Colorado, we set off on our wild trip to the west coast. Knowing this was our last long stretch of vacation time for a while, AJ dreamed up a big vacation for us. Overall, we had a great time together and have lots of neat memories and pictures. AJ was super Dad the whole trip...serving us all so tirelessly. It was fun to have so much time together as a family. Here's some of my favorite pictures from the trip.

Taking a break from the car. The kids and I drove just under 6000 miles during these four weeks, and they all were amazing travelers! This was one of the first times Drew laughed at the girls.

Crater Lake National Park in Oregon

Redwoods National Park in California
Notice that AJ has Drew in the front pack and Jenna in the backpack.

Lydia does the traditional "hug the huge tree" pose

Sister love on the beautiful northern California coast

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Lydia's tired enough to sleep in the back pack

AJ hiked up a pretty steep mountain with Jenna on his back and pushing Drew in the stroller. He says it was worth it for lunch at a beautiful waterfall.

I love this one! Drew's all bundled up for the night.

Yosemite Falls at Yosemite National Park (California)

This was on our way out of Yosemite. The coldest it got on the nights we were camping was the high 40s, but they were predicting 29 for the night that we left. I couldn't stop mentioning how glad I was to not be camping another night.