This was the view from the lake house the Vestry and Missions Team retreated at in January and the first weekend of February. It was actually nice enough to sit outside for a while until we were all overtaken by the cedar.
The more time I spend with my two teams, the more love and respect I have for them. Personally, I get super excited about going away together. There’s something wonderful about being away from our usual setting and spending a period of time all together where meals, stories, laughter, prayer and brainstorming sessions are shared. I guess you could call it bonding. I appreciate a good bond and the process it takes to have one.
It might sound a little odd, but I come away from the retreats wiped. They’re only 24 hours long, but by the time I get home, I am ready to crash. The boys were still in Virginia for their Superbowl weekend, and Meesie took exceptional care of Kensie-girl. My sweet Momma had a scrumptious chili ready for me when I got home complete with wine, brownies, and a bubble bath for me to relax. I slept so well that night. The next morning Momma headed home and Kensie Jane and I ventured to church where during communion, this precious girl held my hands and instructed me on how to dance.
Chuy’s was our meal of choice after church.
And then thanks to Mees who bought Kensie her first nail polish, I introduced Kensie to the wonderful world of painting our nails. Our 6 year old friend, Haddie, tried to sway Kensie over to the world of sublime color a year ago, but she was set on not wanting her feet touched. The girl has come a long way, and Haddie would be proud. Purple was Kensie’s choice of color.
She obviously doesn’t need help figuring out other beauty routines. For those who are curious, this is exactly what I look like first thing in the morning.
This will send my mother over the edge. It sent me over the edge. This is disgusting, and I question whether this should be revealed. These are what I found at the bottom of our pool bag that had been sitting in our closet since September. UGH!
We are a book-loving family. It’s the one store I am afforded time to wander the nearby aisles by myself knowing the kids are well occupied.
The month of February was peppered with more “ice days” in which there was actually no accumulation, but some paranoid school districts that didn’t want to take any risks. Austin was the laughing stock of the nation. All of the ice days landed on either a Tuesday or Thursday, which meant Brennan missed, unnecessarily so, four days of school. It started to get old. But we managed to have a little typical ice day fun watching either Frozen, Wild Kratts, or Curious George.
She rocked it! The second big milestone in three months (in November she moved to a big girl bed), and she gave up her paci without a hitch!
You’ve seen similar pictures to this a lot. Mighty Fine and Chuy’s are the two restaurants of choice to celebrate with the kids, and she picked MF.
Brrrrrr! We’re not used to the cold.
Momma, why do you make me look funny? At least put it on right.
Crazy as it is, those are tulips sprouting in the background. In February. But because of the deep freezes we had through the end of the month and into March, we only had one bloom.
Here I am being a wonderful mother taking my kids to the new children’s museum allowing them to play in the freezing water on a freezing day in which I forgot their coats. Kensie’s body posture says it all.
Next to the children’s museum is a fun playground and small pond with lots of ducks and unruly geese. I’ve never liked geese. Mac had a traumatic experience with geese during a family photo shoot, and we have a picture of his terrified expression to prove it. We were enjoying the pond for a while until the kids climbed up on the large rock in the picture. For ten minutes, geese circled them, pecked at them, honked incessantly, and came after me if I tried to get near. It was comical to me, but a nightmare for the kids. Screams and tears ensued. And now the youngest generation in our family has yet another traumatic memory about geese.
On Valentine’s Day we drove down to San Antonio to surprise my Momma at her school. The drive down was one of my most traumatic experiences. Not only did we get stuck in horrible traffic on I-35, but I drove our car around for 10 minutes on the one and only stretch of I-35 that didn’t have a gas station that made me take a detour to get back onto the frontage road, all while the gas gauge said 0 miles remaining. Because of my Daddy and a story I’ll tell later, one of my worst fears is running out of gas. This did me in. I was a hot mess, praying like crazy, and didn’t hide my fear well from the kids. Oh, thank the Lord in His sweet mercy we made it to a gas station where I burst into tears.
We finally, after 2.5 hours, made it to San Antonio! And the look on Momma’s face when we surprised her made it well worth the emotional trek. However I think I teared up again when I saw her.
Brennan wasn’t so keen about his pink striped shirt. After some pensiveness, he said, “Momma, I have an idea. I’ll pretend it’s red."
The kids are always treated like royal visitors when we go to Mees’ school. On Valentine’s Day it was even more exciting with treats galore and a teacher who had a movie for them to watch. Mees loves taking them all around to introduce them to her colleagues and students.
This little halfling got into Mees’ purse and found the lipstick.
We weren’t sure whether or not we’d stay the night, so I took some essentials: a set of PJs and diapers. Popsie and Mees have the rest, and we gladly decided to stay the night spontaneously.
I spy with my little eyes...
We had a few things to pick up at the party store, which is probably the kids’ second favorite store after the bookstore. It is never a dull outing.
The last two weeks in February were the fullest, fairly stressful, and also very sweetly memorable. We only had 3 more weeks to go before Cliff (our pastor) and his family left for sabbatical. I wanted to do something special for Christine and some of her friends before she left, so one night we met at Pinot’s Palette where we brought snacks, wine, and each painted our own versions of Van Gogh’s Almond Blossoms. These are some of the most precious women, and we had a blast!
Cliff and I take pictures at times of the white boards we create in our meetings. Usually we meet once a month, but in preparation for his sabbatical, we started meeting weekly. The last three years, particularly the last year as Senior Warden on Vestry, has been such an adventure with Jesus. I’ve loved it! It’s been one of the most challenging and stretching roles I’ve had in my life, but I will look back on this time with gratitude and some thoughts of, “Oh, my word, I got to do what!?” What a thrill to serve in this way. (By the way, I know I have only 1 or 2 readers at the moment. The plus side of that is that I can share some of these fun memories about Vestry with freedom and solely for my own record keeping.)
So this was our white board around the 19th of February. We had several Vestry meetings to go, one last Missions meeting, various letters to write to the congregation; a special send-off blessing and prayer to prep for during the Sunday services on March 9th; the Ash Wednesday service; and a staff/Vestry dinner Matt and I were hosting. This didn’t even cover Cliff and Christine’s personal schedule! And well, this completely explains why I never blog anymore. All hands were on deck to communicate well with the parish and make the transition as healthy and seamless as possible (ideally, sabbaticals should be a normal rhythm in the life of a church anyway); to make sure roles and responsibilities were clearly laid out for staff and Vestry in Cliff’s absence; and to send C & C off with affection and blessing.
We first announced the sabbatical in the Fall. For my own desire to remember, these are most of the communications that were made about the sabbatical: writings that took a lot of thought and time, and that I think would be helpful for any church’s reference.
Cliff’s announcement in October: http://christchurchofaustin.org/blog/sabbatical that was preceded by a letter from Vestry earlier in the week
A link that provides a great article about Sabbath rest; an FAQ; a letter from Cliff and a letter from Vestry in the week prior to his departure: http://christchurchofaustin.org/content/sabbatical-1
And Cliff’s final eNews before leaving: http://christchurchofaustin.org/blog/sabbatical-goodbye
It was a crazy few weeks. I mean crazy. But what a privilege it was to hunker down and labor in love with Cliff and Christine.
I spy with my little eyes two sneaky children who think they couldn’t be found.
It had been a long time since we had an excuse to get this dressed up. The kids said we were going to get married again. Thank you to Michael and Elizabeth, a couple in our small group, we got to enjoy a night in downtown Austin to celebrate their engagement.
I can’t tell you the number of times my parents have come to the rescue when I am in a crunch. We were getting ready to host 18 people from staff and Vestry, and I needed to cook and clean like crazy. My sweet parents offered to come help clean and set up for the party. I so wish I’d taken pictures of our evening together! It looked so festive and beautiful, thanks to my Momma’s creative inspiration. It was a fabulous night to break bread together; go around the room sharing various prayer requests and things we were anticipating over the next four months; and to pray for Cliff and Christine. Encouraging the staff and team building/bonding opportunities are my most favorite things to do on the teams I’m on. We will gather again in August when C & C return, and I can take some pictures then.
These three took a break from cleaning.
Thursday night was our staff/Vestry gathering. The next day, Kensie Jane and I caught an 12:30 p.m. fight for D.C.
I was carried by grace and sheer adrenaline in anticipation of being with Wynn and Maysie to celebrate their first birthdays and baptisms!
This was the night of our arrival. Mac and Julie, bless them, were dealing with a huge plumbing problem and didn’t have any water…and this was all happening while precious Julie was cooking up a storm for their parties. It was not a little stressful for them, but they sure made us feel welcomed and walked it out with amazing calm. KJ and I were supposed to stay with them, but because of the plumbing, at the last minute we were able to get a room at the hotel my parents were at. My little girl felt like she was in heaven with her cousins…partly because she had the babies all to herself and could be their momma, and partly because she was away from her brother and lived it up being the oldest! She was flying high with no restraints of a bossy big brother.
Easy there, girlfriend. I know you’re excited, but don’t squeeze him to death.
The original four of us (and KJ) hit up Chick fil A for dinner while Julie and her parents continued to prepare for the party and consult with the plumber. We can’t remember the last time it was just the four of us. Our family certainly isn’t complete without the rest of our clan, but there is something sweet about these moments, too. We’ve shared a whole lot together!
And you’ll have to wait until I can get March done before you see the AMAZING weekend we had in D.C. celebrating those little babies! You should consider this the biggest blog teaser ever!
And…these are Matt’s pictures I forgot to include:
My precious boy. He saw this spider man ball at the bookstore and said he wanted to buy it to give to Alec, one of his best buddies from school. I told him he could if he used his own money, which he did. He was so excited to wrap it and give it to Alec.
She loves Daddy to put her way up in the tree.
One Saturday I had a number of things to do around the house, so Matt took the kids for a long bike ride. They had quite the adventure on Hairy Man Trail!
She was exhausted!
Sometimes we hit up Chuy’s after Brennan’s swim team. They are not the least bit excited.
The only picture we have from the staff/Vestry dinner.
While Kensie Jane and I were in D.C. and it was snowing, the boys had a campout! You’ll see other fantastic outings they shared in March.