Thursday, December 25, 2008

the last of the Christmas pictures!

more pictures of Christmas eve...






And the pictures continue...

Christmas...






Ron and I celebrate Christmas by hosting a family gathering at our home on Christmas. Ron and I have long believed that our adult children need to establish their own Christmas day tradition of having their little ones wake up in their own home and open presents from Santa. We are so lucky to have our married children living close enough that we can do that. Plus, we have the added benefit of having a nice, quite Christmas morning alone. Later in the day, we will drive to our daughter's homes and let the little ones share their loot with us.
Last night the family gathered and we exchanged gifts using a Chinese gift exchange. Each person purchased a $20.00 gift and we took turns selecting and swapping gifts. Here is a list of the final exchanges. Dad - emergency roadside kit, Mom-body pillow and pillow case, Ron - digital photo ornament, Gwen - WTAMU tee shirt and cap, Ryan - Walmart gift card and chocolate covered cherries, Becca - the same, G - complete car care kit, Leslie - label maker, batteries, and extra label tape, Seth - 4 DVD's. We all had a great time and enjoyed the laughter as the favored gifts were snatched up by someone else. Maggie didn't quite know what to think of opening all of those not so fun presents.
Ron and I also give the kids the same gift each year. They get a bath towel set and a pair of flannel PJ pants. Last year we didn't exchange gifts because of the trip to the condo in Colorado so I think they were happy to get the new towels and pants.
The best part of Christmas eve was talking to Scott. He called in the afternoon when everyone was at the house and he was able to talk to all of us, even Grandma and Grandpa. He sounds a little lonely but is otherwise healthy and safe. Great news! The powers that be are thinking he might be home for good by the end of July or early August! I will try very hard to not get my hopes up too high.
All in all a great Christmas eve. I think the last picture I am posting of Maggie's huge yawn says it all. Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Graduation & Birthday Celebrations...





What a busy 2 weeks! It started on the 11th when the family all headed to Canyon TX for Ryan's graduation. Becca took Seth out of school and I took Friday off because it is a 7 1/2 hour drive. We decided to break it into 2 days, which made it much easier on all of us. Ryan graduated from West Texas A&M University on Saturday the 13th. It was a wonderful trip filled with lots of laughter, good food, and great company. Ryan was so excited and so happy to finally be finished! I am posting 2 pictures of the grad; one with his diploma and one at the Big Texan Steak House. If you ever pass through Amarillo, it is a MUST stop!
Then this Saturday was Maggie's 2nd. birthday. All of her cousins were there and she got lots of Dora presents. Everyone whacked the tar out of the Swiper pinata and enjoyed the afternoon at the local inflatable center. It is so hard to believe she is two already!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Quilts and a parade...








Yahoo! I finally got these two quilts finished. The floral one is Maggie's "big girl" quilt. I really started it before she was born, but who cares! This quilt is one that I made using the blocks I taught during the year I was Block of the Month chairman for the local quilt guild. It was a neat job because I got to pick a block each month, teach how to make it, and then at the end of the 12 month period, everyone that participated had enough blocks to make new quilt tops! I think the purple pansy fabric made it perfect for a little girl.
The second quilt is one I made out of the shirts that belonged to the father of my friend, Penny. Penny's father passed away last year and I asked her if he had worn T-shirts or not with the intention of making her a T-shirt quilt. However, he was one of those guys that wore Oxford-style button ups all the time. So, I simply cut a 12 inch square from the back of each shirt, put 2 together and sewed corner to corner to make 2 hourglass blocks, and put them together. In the upper R-hand corner is a picture of him that was copied onto fabric. She hasn't seen it yet, but I am sure she will love it. It isn't the most beautiful quilt in the world, but Penny will cherish it.
On Monday, the girls brought the kids in and we went downtown to watch the Christmas parade for FHE. (G couldn't make it because he was doing payroll.) I took a few pictures of us as we were waiting for the parade to begin. It looks like we were all bundled up for super cold weather but it was only got down to about 50. Perfect weather for watching a parade!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving weekend: food and new cars!





As always, I am so very thankful for the holidays and the chance it gives me to spend time with my family. This year we were missing a few loved ones; Scott and Ed are in Iraq and Mom and Dad stayed home to continue recuperating from the horrible colds they have had. Ryan, however, did manage to get down for the weekend. We all went to Becca's house for the day and I had intended to take lots of pictures; however, as often happens with this stupid camera I own the batteries died. So I am attaching the few I managed to snap before it died on me.
Dinner was delicious. Becca cooked the ham, her delicious spinach dip, cheese ball, and a to-die-for pumpkin cheesecake. Leslie cooked a turkey with cornbread stuffing and brought a relish tray. Ryan even helped out by staying up all night to smoke a turkey breast. I cooked all of the veggies and made pumpkin bars. Luckily, we had enough food left over that none of us had to cook for the rest of the weekend!
In addition to great food and wonderful company, Ryan had a super exciting weekend! He graduates in 2 weeks and has already lined up a job working for a petroleum company so he took his letter from the university, his great credit history, and an impressive job offer down to the Toyota dealership and bought his very first brand new car. I don't know what it is called but the thing is like a tank! It is a 4 WD vehicle that he can drive through the desert as he visits the oil rigs. He was sooooo excited! And, Leslie and G traded their Jetta in on my dream car; a VW Touraeg. What a snazzy car that is! Of course, I keep consoling myself with the fact that I get MUCH better gas mileage that either of them can even dream of. So, all in all we had a wonderful holiday and have much to be thankful for.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Buckeye fans...


Yesterday Ron went up to Gatesville for some Poppy time with Seth. They ordered some stuffed crust pizza, buffalo wings, and a pazone to gorge on while they watched the Ohio State ball game. I only have Ron's side of the story, but he said they had a good time. Seth has recently started telling jokes and his favorite one goes like this. "How do you make Michigan cookies? Put them in a bowl and beat them for 3 hours." Not being a football fan, I don't quite get the humor of it but Ron said Seth was cracking up telling it. I am adding our last year's Little Buckeyes photo. They are a little bit bigger and a whole lot cuter now.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Temple trip...


I had today (Veteran's Day) off so Ron and I decided to slip up to the temple in Dallas. We just can't seem to manage to get up there on the weekends as often as we would like because of so many family commitments, so this was a perfect opportunity. Any trip to the temple is a special experience but today's was especially sweet. Ron has just recently started working on family history research using the church's online system. I had mentioned wanting to know how to use it when our home teachers were visiting last month. One of them, Richard Armstrong, came over one day the very next week and walked Ron through process. In just 2 weeks, Ron has managed to get 55 names ready to take to the temple. He is so excited about the work and has decided to present the information in our 5th Sunday combined lesson this month. I know the spirit touched his heart many times as he performed this sacred work. One day when I came home from work, he shared how powerfully the Spirit moved him as he printed the form for his great-grandfather.
We hope to set up a date in the near future to take Leslie and G up for baptisms. They are getting close to the time when they will go to the temple for their own endowments and I think a baptismal trip would be wonderful for G. He is growing in the gospel and spends time with the missionaries when they visit with Spanish-speaking investigators. As a matter of fact, he was asked to give his first talk at a baptism last week. He tries to talk to Leslie whenever he doesn't understand specific points of doctrine, but the language issue causes some problems. That's when he calls Ryan and gets things cleared up. Leslie says it is so funny to hear them on the phone yammering away in Spanish about the gospel. I often marvel at how our Heavenly Father works things out. If Ryan had been sent to serve a mission in any other country, he would have never been able to speak Spanish as fluently has he does and wouldn't be able to help out when G needs someone to talk to.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Grandkids: what fun!









Friday was the premier of Madagascar 2: Escape from Africa. Ron and I took the grandkids to see the "moomie", as Maggie would say. They both enjoyed the film but I think Maggie would have been just as happy watching Monsters, Inc. at home. We went to the 4:00 showing at the theater in Harker Heights. Amazingly enough it was not crowded at all. The added benefit of going to the theater there is running across one or two of my students. They always act so surprised that Mrs. Searls actually has a normal life! Then,
Saturday we went up to Gatesville for the end of the football season celebration. Seth's team was undefeated and won the championship game. Becca hosted the party at her house. Ron and G were the grill masters, the kids played in a bounce house and smashed a couple of pinatas. All in all they had a great time. The pictures I am attaching were taken during the season. Are you surprised that our team had the wildest fans? Seth is number 61. He did fairly well for a gentle giant.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Scott's home!





This morning Leslie called me to say she "wasn't feeling well" and wanted to come over and hang out for the afternoon. I told her that was fine; to let herself in and I would be home right after church. She kinda hemed and hawed and acted like she wanted me to come home early, but I didn't pick up on her hints and stayed for the full 3 hours. When I did get home, G and Maggie were in the driveway and Leslie was laying on the couch. I asked her if she was feeling any better, she said "kinda". I excused myself and went into the bedroom to put on may knock around clothes. When I walked out of my room, Scott came meandering out of the guest room! He got a 4 day pass and flew in to DFW this morning at 6:00, rented a car and drove home! On his way down he had called Leslie to let her know so she was there for the surprise; not really sick at all. What a joy it is to have him home for a few days! We threw together a quick meal, called Becca and Seth, and spent the afternoon together. The Lord is so loving to have given me this precious gift of a few days with my son before he deploys. He is tired and thin, but otherwise seems as glad to be home as I am to have him here. I have already set up a sub for tomorrow and am looking forward to spending the day with him. I am going to try to post some photos. Leslie showed me how to do it yesterday but I have slept since then! The other shots are random shots of the grandbabies and my parents. The crazy one was taken by Seth using PhotoBooth on my laptop.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The end of October....


My favorite season is passing by much too quickly.  I guess because we are so busy at this time of the year.  We have over-celebrated Halloween beginning on Thursday by going to Trunk or Treat and a carnival at Leslie & G's ward. Becca and Seth came down for that.  Seth had so much fun completing the scavenger hunt.  I think he was actually the first person to complete it!  They had a yummy chili cook-off and my favorite was a hominy and chicken chili.  Then, yesterday our ward held our celebration.  We decorated rooms for the kids to rotate through.  Maggie found an automated tombstone outside one door that fascinated her.  Then, today we spent the day at the zoo in Waco.  It was beautiful weather and we had a relaxing day.  Thank goodness tomorrow is Sunday and we can rest.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A horrible day; a wonderful day...

You never know when a perfect day can go so horribly wrong.  During the afternoon, my students were busy working their way through center rotations as I pulled students for writers workshop. The room was filled with the busy movement and sound associated with 22 engaged learners and I sat quietly observing it all.  Unexpectedly, one of my parents entered the room.  I knew immediately from the expression on her face that something was wrong.  I have a secluded area behind my desk where I am able to have private conversations with my students so I left my seat and guided this parent to that area.  I was right; something was terribly wrong. A loved one had lost his life today in Afghanistan.  My heart breaks every time I hear of the death of another brave soldier and see the pain on the faces of those closely effected.  If only our government leaders could spend their days watching the struggles the youngest victims of these wars face, maybe they would manage to find a way to bring our soldiers home with dignity and let them be parents.  
On a brighter, happier note, Leslie called this evening to let me know that she and G are expecting their second child.  They have been trying for a while now and she is super excited.  I know Ryan and Scott will be thrilled when they hear the news.  They suffered through her last pregnancy with her and have a special fondness for Maggie.  This new little one will certainly have 2 doting uncles.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Yet another birthday...

It seems hard to believe but I hit 53 this year.  I don't know why I am surprised.  Every time I walk past a plate glass window and catch a glimpse of that old woman that looks really familiar, I get a reminder.  It was an extra special birthday because both of my boys called. (Scott is finished with training in Georgia and is packing his gear to deploy.  He still doesn't know if he will be home on a pass before he leaves or not. I guess we will know when he knows. Ryan is doing well. He is so close to graduation and is learning a lot at his new job.  He makes geological maps or some such thing.)  Leslie and G sent me a yummy chocolate covered strawberry bouquet.  (It arrived at school and I was the envy of the office staff.)  Ron bought me a beautiful watch and chocolate.  Miss Mary, Maggie's babysitter, remembered my birthday and sent me a dozen of her famous cookies.  I taught her son Andrew my first year as a third grade cluster teacher.  She still thinks of me as the teacher that had the most influence on her son.  That is quite a compliment now that he is a Sophomore!   I got email cards from Becca and Ed.  And last but not least, I had a delicious spaghetti dinner with Mom and Dad.  All in all, not a bad day.  Just hope all of my boys are home this time next year and I can have them, my girls, and my parents all over for dinner.  Now THAT would make a perfect birthday.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A day with my girls and a call from my boy!

I had the best day today!  I was home from school because I had oral surgery yesterday.  (Ron is my substitute so I know the class is in good hands.)  Anyway, I woke up feeling pretty good, aside from the swelling in my jaw.  I started to work on some of the unfinished projects that have been laying around here, but in the middle of one I had a moment of inspiration.  I decided it was a perfect day to get with my girls for some shopping and lunch.  The weather was mild and sunny, the company great and lunch was delicious.  The best part was not having even a twinge of guilt about not being at work!  The projects will wait until another day, the papers that need to be graded will wait until tomorrow, and I still have plenty of time to prepare my Relief Society lesson for Sunday.  
As I was typing this my cell phone rang and it was Scott!  He is in Georgia at Ft. Stewart training to deploy to Iraq and had a free minute to call home.  It was the first call we have had in over a month so it was wonderful to hear his voice.  He is standing in line right now waiting to process some paperwork to get his security clearance.  He filled us in on his training, the lack of sleep, and possible deployment date.  I am in no hurry though.  As long as he is stateside his federal clock is ticking and he will have to spend less time overseas. It is always good to hear from him but hard to hang up.  We can only keep him in our prayers and trust in the Lord to watch over him.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Yet another talk...

Last Sunday marked the second talk I have given in Sacrament meeting since we moved into the ward.  I was asked to speak on general conference and listening to the prophets voice.  I chose the story of Deborah and Barak as the basis of my talk.  It is wonderful to read stories from the scriptures that illustrate the power of a mother in Israel.  I have to tell a funny story on myself though.  I had finished my talk and asked Ron to read through it. He asked me if I thought it would last for 15 minutes and I told him I wasn't too worried about it.  I figured whoever was speaking last could make up the time if I ran short.  Well guess what; I was the last speaker.  Lucky for me, our first speaker went over by 5 minutes!
This coming Sunday is my week to teach in Relief Society.  I am teaching the lesson on enduring trials and there are so many examples of how the prophet Joseph Smith was tormented and ridiculed.  It is such an emotional lesson to read.  I hope I do it justice.  Then, the NEXT week I am teaching the gospel doctrine class.  Maybe the next week I won't have anything to do!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Saturday evening...

It was a busy day  Ron and I got up around 6:15 and took Daisy for a walk.  The weather was cool and there was a nice breeze blowing.  When we got back, we cleaned up and headed for Killeen.  I needed to spend some time in my classroom and Ron had to pass out paychecks for the officials at the Boy's Club.  Afterwards, we headed to Gatesville to watch Seth's football game.  They won again and it makes their record for the season 8 wins, 0 losses.  Seth got a few tackles but he also got knocked on his fanny a few times.  Leslie and G were there will Maggie.  She wasn't in the best of moods but looked sooo cute in her cheerleading dress.  
After the game, Leslie and her family came into Temple to spend the afternoon. They also needed to pick up the chainsaw to cut some trees on Monday.  Luckily, Maggie will go Miss Mary's so they should be able to get plenty of work done.  
I spent the rest of the afternoon working on my talk for sacrament meeting.  I was asked to speak on D&C 1:38 which was pretty easy considering conference was this past weekend.  
Anyway, the last thing I did today was set up this blog.  Hopefully, I will be fairly faithful about "blogging".  Wow! I am soo trendy!