Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Time in Manor!

Hope you've had a great Christmas!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Stewart grandkids have been elfed!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

The fat lady is warming up!

Dave & I went on a date yesterday to Independence Bank in Manor, Texas to sign our closing document - in the presence of their notary. Everything is signed, stamped, initialled, dated, and stapled. We put everything in the overnight mail, so hopefully it should be at the Title Company in Acton by now. There were no big surprizes on any of the documents, so that was a very good thing! By Monday, our mortgage should be paid off and there will be a little left over that will go into our bank account! THEN we will hear the fat lady sing - and we will likely join in!

We did get a call from our realtor yesterday, telling us the buyers were upset that the curtain rod and curtains from the dining room were missing. They wanted money - $200 -to replace them. Earlier in the house selling process, the buyers wanted $600 for caulking and replacement screws that were on the inspection report. We decided to tell them they could find their own curtains. :) We "leased" the house to them for $0 so they could move in and paint before the loan funded. We think that was a pretty nice deal, don't you?!

In hindsight, we should have left the curtains, since they were in the house when they buyers wrote the contract. But come ON - they got a GREAT deal on the house! I spent maybe $80 on the "window treatment". Geesh.

All in all, we are so thankful that God provided a buyer and especially that we were able to close before Christmas! God has been SO faithful to provide for us, in so many ways. He has used so many of our friends and family to encourage us and provide for us during our transition to Austin. It's definitely been challenging, but amazing to see God's hand in everything as we do our best to follow Him.

Looking forward to Christmas - and even to finishing Christmas shopping!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

it's almost official

I'm holding my breath for the next week plus a day. We're set to close on the sale of our beautiful home in Granbury next week. Bittersweet to say the least. I'm thankful for the time God had us there and thankful that He has a plan that is bigger than we can imagine...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Polar Express Time!

We had the cousins over last night to watch Polar Express!! They got to sit on the carpet to eat dinner while wearing pjs! And after they finished all their peas, they each got hot chocolate with marshmallows, just like the kids on the train. I'm still not convinced that they made that connection, but maybe it will sink in someday. Halle (14 months) was obviously not impressed with the movie, but she had a great time walking around the living room & kitchen and cuddling with her Aunt Suzy. :)

Granbury Fun

We made a trip to Granbury for pre-Thanksgiving fun. Dave & I are thankful that we were able to sign an offer on our house there! Hopefully, we will be back to one house payment again!!

We got to spend an evening with our sweet Sprayberry friends. I don't think we ever leave their house without something borrowed - Anna absolutely loves the cheetah/cat girl dress (complete with ear headband) and Daniel plays with the remote control car every day.

Thanks again for a great evening!!

Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast

We had a blast at Daniel's Thanksgiving feast at school. All of the kids in his class dressed up as Pilgrims or Indians (I guess it's still OK to call them that when you're 5), made up a name, and told a little about themselves. Daniel's class (and most of the other ones) were definitely favoring the Indians - the Pilgrims were WAY outnumbered. :) After they did their solo presentations, they recited their memory verse together (Proverbs 3:1-18) and then sang "Albuquerque Turkey", which was hilariously performed with a hick accent. They all did great and we had a wonderful feast together.

One of the facts they learned while studying the Pilgrims was that they feasted for 3 days. Yesterday, as we were getting back into the home school stuff, Daniel made a great comment. "Hey Mom. The Pilgrims only got to take a break for 3 days. We got to take off a whole week!" Maybe you had to be there, but it made me grin.

Daniel and his buddy John

Happy Birthday Grammie!

Daniel, Anna, and I trekked up to Granbury to celebrate Grammie's birthday! We had a blast with a special treat - Sprinkles Cupcakes! As my favorite TV chef would say, YUM-O!

Yes, sports fans, Daniel picked the Longhorn cupcake. We are learning to love our brothers while living in Austin. But his favorite color is still maroon!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Howdy Pilgrim!

Introducing Thomas Barrett, Pilgrim. For his kindergarten project, Daniel is dressing up as a Pilgrim, complete with a name and occupation. See the video below for his first "presentation"!

Anna did not want to be left out of the fun! Thomas, meet Strawberry Shortcake!

Post production note - Mom & I decided the collar was a bit too long. We trimmed off a couple of inches!! email me if you need info on how to make a cheap pilgrim costume!! this one was about $10!!

Strawberry's Video

Little sister did not want to miss the action. Here's her video!

Friday, November 14, 2008

i heart 80s music

I've been such a bad blogger! But, I'm much better with Facebook! If you're on there, be my friend!!! See pictures of Barrett kids.

On a side note, I'm back working at Hockaday again. I've had 80s radio playing on itunes all day. LOVE it. Find myself singing without even knowing it! Glad my doors are closed. :)

Dave's in Virginia hunting with his brother. They are having a blast!!

Must run - back to work!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

for the love of candy...

Sorry we're so late with this! Daniel was a Hot Wheels race car driver and Anna was Alicia, the sister from Go, Diego, Go!

We had a blast trick-or-treating in our neighborhood!! We had a potluck chili party at Leslie's house - so fun!! Then the herd walked up and down a few streets to fill up the candy bags. Mimi and Paw Paw were in town and had fun watching the craziness. Daniel & Anna had a blast handing out candy to the kids who came to our house later that night.

We're still eating all the candy!! Yum!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

We're still here...

I have caved to peer pressure! All my blogging friends have posted super-cute pics of various pumpkin-related activities and their kids. We have not made it to the local pumpkin patch; the closest thing I've seen so far is the huge box of pumpkins at Wal-Mart! But our orange gourds turned out pretty cute (thanks for the plastic inserts, Wal-Mart) so I just felt I had to share!
On another note, I've been spending a fair amount of time with an old friend from Dallas, Dr. Brian Drake. He's a chiropractor here in Austin and is helping me get straightened out and out of pain. Apparently, staring at a laptop, hunched over, is not really good for your posture. So, my laptop spends alot more time in the SHUT position, which means less blogging (among other things). That being said, I'm off to practice good posture and clean up the continual mess of a kitchen. TTFN!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Granbury fun

Last weekend, my sister and I trucked the kids up for a visit to G-town. It was definitely a contest as to who was more excited - the grandparents or the grandkids. We all had a lot of fun and left our hubbies to get some work done in peace and quiet. We had a blast celebrating Papa Ray's birthday!!

My sister put together a fantastic slideshow - take a peek!

I brought the kids back for more fun this weekend. Mom & Dad are playing with kids while I spend a little time at Hockaday, helping my friend while she is on maternity leave. It's so fun to go back there, especially now that it's been more than 5 years since I left full-time employment. I love to catch up with my old friends and meet all the new ones. However, I'm very aware of the fact that I can no longer sit at the computer and "crank" all day like I used to! It feels more like my college study days - work for 20 minutes, break, work for 10, break, then time for lunch! Probably why Dave would never study with me in college! He was a serious study-er!!

So, that's it for my work break, back to the numbers!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

something else I do

Over the past 6 years, I have helped my dear friend Sarah and her mom Judy support the AGAND children's home that Judy started 30 years ago in Guatemala. I only help with the books and online stuff, but I enjoy getting to hear the stories and know what is going on. The two women who run the home are amazing! Recent international adoption law changes are threatening the future of this home, which places children (many with special needs) with loving, adoptive families in the US. I've recently updated our website and just wanted to share. They would appreciate your prayers as they face big decisions.

Our games

My kids love to get tickled! They each have their own made-up games, which I just felt compelled to share. Anna has a couple of "games" - her favorite being "get me" or "catch me". No explanation needed, really - she just looks at me with that gleam in her eye and says "get me!" I chase for a few seconds, grab her, and tickle. My mom found the perfect shirt for her recently - it has butterflies and says "catch me" on the front. She LOVES it! For her other game, she sits in my lap, smiles, and says "go, the tickler!" and soon after "stop, the tickler!" This could definitely go on and on! Daniel's game is a little more complicated. I think it started with the game my dad used to play with me (and my sister). Dad would get ready to tickle and say, "Stop means go and go means stop." Commence tickling. "Do you want me to stop?" he'd ask. Of course, if I would say "stop", he would repeat the above phrase. If I said "go" he would reply "OK, I'll keep going". Daniel caught onto this quickly and changed the rules on me. His code word for tickling is "apple juice". Stop tickling is "water". We have added many other beverages to the list with various meanings. He always remembers exactly what they are - mom and dad always seem to forget! Orange juice, coffee, hugs, kisses. We have so much fun!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

and a matching pair

What's the saying? When it rains, it pours. I spent most of last weekend sick in bed with strep throat. At some point I stumbled out of bed to try to get some clean sheets from the dryer. Hmmm, still wet. I started it again and went back to bed (I think, it's a fuzzy memory). Checked back later, still wet. Rats. Started it again, let it run for a few minutes, and yep, not hot. Bummer. Dave & I come up with a plan - it's a very busy week for him. Calls to Home Depot were not fruitful. Finally, Dave makes it to Lowe's and comes home with this beauty:

Prior to this new addition, I had new white washer and an old bisque one. I'm so glad to match again. ;)

Update in pictures

I took a couple of minutes to download pictures to my camera. My sister took pics for Anna & Ellie's 1st day of preschool, so that will come later. ;)

We took a few hours one Saturday to explore the western side of Austin. We went for a "hike" up to Mount Bonnell. It was a very easy and fun walk and even had stairs on one end of the hill. It was a UT game day, so there was plenty of people watching! I can not understand the love of burnt orange...

After our hike, we went out to The Oasis restaurant on Lake Travis. This place is an Austin legend and is HUGE. Most of the seating is outdoors on many tiers of decks. We were enjoying lunch when a rainshower popped up. No, wet fries and chicken nuggets don't taste that good, even to a 5 year old. Our waiter graciously brought us another order before we headed back home. :) We didn't bring the camera in the restaurant; this pic is from the spaceship sculpture in the front. Kids loved it! BTW, we feel more "local" because we have the plastic "Oasis" cups in our kitchen now!

Grammie & Papa Ray had a crazy weekend. They hosted all 4 cousins with no mommies or daddies! Needless to say, the big kids in Austin had a fun, relaxing weekend just like the old days before kids. Dave & I even took a quick trip up to the state capitol. :) Nerds, yes we are. Here are the kids buckled in and ready to go meet Grammie in Waco. Daniel got the front seat.

Try not to let the hair distract you too much. For Kindergarten, September's unit is "all about me". One of our homeschool projects was to make a paper version of yourself. Daniel and Daddy worked diligently to make a version of Daniel's favorite shirt that has flames and a guitar on it. :) Anna had to make one too, of course!

Another homeschool project below. Daniel created all of the numbers - they are too fun! We also made bunny ears and played a game with them. We have so much fun doing school!!!

That's it for now! I'll try to keep up. :)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Big picture update

We're still settling into our "new normal" (borrowing from my friend Lisa). Anna started school this week. Despite a bit of a tearful goodbye, she had a wonderful time. She and cousin Ellie are in the same class and there are several kids in our neighborhood who also go there, so it's fun for her to see lots of familiar faces. We're looking forward to a great year!

Daniel is continuing to do well with Kindergarten and so is "Mrs. Mommy". I'm finding out how much Daniel LOVES numbers and math and I get excited as he ventures into the world of reading. I wish I would've taken a picture of the sweet birthday card he made for his cousin Halle (who celebrated her 1st birthday yesterday!). I think the phrase he wrote was "HBEBRTHDAHLLE" - loosely translated is "Happy Birthday Halle" of course.

Other news to note is that I've been in bed for a couple of days with a variety of symptoms. I'm feeling much better and am planning to head to the doctor's office tomorrow. Praise God for friends and family who helped take care of my family over the weekend. Anna woke up with fever too, so the two of us stayed home from church today. We took turns watching the Disney Channel and snoozing. She kept waking me up to tell me to stop breathing too loud! Poor girl - couldn't get a Handy Manny fix without mom snoring through the middle of it. :)

Dave's doing great too. Our church launched the fall vision series and it is really awesome. Dave's still learning the ropes and the people but it doing a great job at balancing it all.

I hope to post again soon with Anna's first day picks and (hopefully) pics from the belated birthday party for Dave, who had a sick wife during his Saturday birthday.

Happy Belated, Sweetheart

Happy belated birthday, Dave. I'm so sorry I was sick on your special day. I'm thankful for our friends and family who could make the day special for you. We'll have a do-over soon! Thanks for taking such good care of me and Anna (and Daniel too, even though he wasn't sick). YTB!

Monday, August 25, 2008

First day of HOME school

We did it! Daniel, Anna, and I made it through our first real "school at home" day today! We didn't get off to an early start, but it was a good relaxing morning. Over breakfast, Anna asked if we were going to have "school home" today. When I told her we were, she grinned and asked me if I was going to be "Mrs. Mommy". They both got a big kick out of that!

I walked through the homework plan that was given to us by our teacher. We talked about why you raise your hand to answer questions, good listening skills, and other great things that make Kindergarten such a wonderful time. We moved on to our journal writing - throw on the brakes! I had prepped Daniel on his assignment of thinking about the best thing about his summer earlier in the week. He finally decided that playing with his cousin was the highlight. It was a little bit like pulling teeth to get Daniel to talk about that topic. So Mrs. Mommy asked the questions, got some basic answers from the student , and tried to journal in a way that at least sounded like Daniel was involved in the process. It became more painful when Daniel discovered he had to draw pictures to describe the story. Wow - break time!

We moved on to reading our rhyming books (thanks Sister!) and then our math lesson. He L.O.V.E.D. the math meeting - it was about calendars, talking about days, months, years, filling in the calendar, etc.

Then it was back to the tough stuff. I think I mentioned that the class animal Bob Frog came home with us after the FIRST DAY of school. We had to write about our adventure with Bob AND, you guessed it, draw a picture about it! Again, the writing process was as smooth as crunchy peanut butter. I just kept telling myself to relax and that this was just part of the learning process. That worked pretty well. :) After much encouragement and coaching, Daniel proclaimed his work of art complete.

Actual Art and Inspriation Photo:

In case you need an interpretation, this is a scene from his grandparent's house in Parker (just east of Plano). Paw Paw (in brown) is driving an ATV, Daniel (yellow) is in the back seat holding Bob Frog (green) in his lap.

All in all, I'd give us all an "A" for the day. Daniel and I hung in there with each other. Anna was definitely always in the mix and playing along as much as she could. We will all continue to learn how to do this over time - I'm so glad we're starting in Kindergarten!!

passing this on...

My friend Melody recently posted about blog books. I haven't tried them yet, but it sounds so fun! They take your blog and turn it into a scrapbook. Check it out:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

survive and thrive!

Today was D-day - the first day of Kindergarten for Daniel. I must admit - I felt the tears coming when driving into the parking lot. We just-so-happened to pull up next to the Carters, our dear sweet friends, and there was plenty of distraction to keep me from getting sappy.

We all gathered around the church's outdoor baptism pool for a first-day-of-school prayer. It fired me up to be part of such a wonderful group of kids, parents, faculty, and staff who are dedicated to raising up our children for God's glory!

Daniel did great and went right into his classroom, unpacked his backpack, signed in (to practice writing skills - he is one of 12 in his class!), and found his spot on the carpet. He was excited when Anna and I came to pick him up - he had a wonderful day! He even got to bring home Bob the Frog - who gets to have an adventure over the weekend with us. We take pictures of him and then write in a book about his journey. Daniel gets to be the special student of the week and bring some show-and-tell to school on Tuesday. How's that for kicking off the school year?!

Anna and I had a great day together. We did lots of leisurely shopping (got a big girl booster seat in bright pink!), explored Austin highways, and had a lunch date at Taco Cabana. We met up with Jen Carter and Sammy before heading back to campus to pick up the kids.

We are all looking forward to a great year! Next stop - Anna's preschool, September 9th!

Here's Daddy giving Daniel a goodbye hug and kiss from home.

My boy did NOT want to take part in the sappy mom first-day picture taking!

Here's Daniel (far left) with friends Annie (1st) and John Daniel (2nd). They are Veritas pros and carpool buddies!! We are gathering for our prayer here.

Daniel signs in on Mrs. Keel's desk while she looks on. She is so great with the kids and actually has 5 of her own!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

we've been busy

It's been awhile since the last post - evidence of our crazy life. Since our Kindergarten Camp, we've been to Sea World San Antonio with Aunt Leslie and the cousins, Dave performed his first wedding, Anna got sick (again), I had a fun girls night out, and lots of other little stuff. Pictures to come soon!!

Currently, the kids are having a blast with Mimi and Paw Paw at their home in Parker while I spend a little time working at Hockaday in Dallas (one of my favorite summer traditions). On Wednesday, the kids got to stay at Hockaday in the Child Development Center (which the kids call "Hockaday Kids"). They had a blast and all of the teachers commented on how well Daniel cared for his little sister during the day. I was such a proud momma!! My good friend JT (who took my place at Hockaday) let me crash at her house and I've had a blast working with her and hanging out with her and her sweet daughter Hannah, who is 2. JT is expecting her second little girl in October - so fun!! We're headed back to Austin tonight to see how Dave has enjoyed some peace and quiet. :) Grammie is coming to visit this weekend, so it sounds like we're in for more fun!!

Daniel starts school in less than a week, so we will be gearing up for that! We're planning a family celebration Wednesday night for this rite of passage - REAL SCHOOL. Unbelievable but so exciting!! I wonder if either of us will shed some tears on Thursday as he goes to his class. Hmmm, my money is on the mommy, not the boy!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

School is just around the corner!

Daniel and I just finished up our Family Education Week at Veritas Academy last week. Daniel enjoyed three days of Kindergarten Camp, which was a great introduction for him on how things work, where things are, who his classmates will be, and expectations of his new Kindergarten world. I can hardly believe that we are entering the "school age" zone, but Daniel is definitely ready to conquer the challenge! He had a great time and feels ready to start school soon. I'm super excited about our school - it is a University Model School (read more here), so Daniel will go to class on Tuesdays and Thursdays with a "professional" teacher (ie licensed) and will have school at home with me on Wednesdays and Mondays. Sundays are workdays for Dave, so having some flexibility on Fridays during Daddy's day off should be fun!

I also got alot of training last week as well! I learned how to setup a home classroom, how to manage a schedule with Anna home during Daniel's school time (we'll see, won't we?!), how the spelling and reading curriculum works, how to build a character notebook, and many other things. I really enjoyed getting to meet other new moms and dads; and lots of the returning parents were there later in the week and were very encouraging. The presenters were all very encouraging, motivating, and interesting but honest about the hard parts of homeschooling as well. This model seems like a great balance between traditional 5-day school and pure homeschooling for our family. I'm sure we will find out soon enough!! School starts August 21st - pray for us!!!

House Guests!

The Barrettworld Resort is now open for business! Last weekend, we hosted my parents (aka Grammie and Papa Ray) AND Belle, the infamous white lab. We had a great time with them, complete with date night with my sister & Kevin and friends Angela & Halim. We managed to cram our big egos into a friend's mini-van so we could all ride in style. I think Kevin just wanted to save money on gas, but it sure was convienent!

This week my fried Jen and her 4 kids joined us! All of the kids really play well together, so it was a blast for all of us! Here are Madison & Anna, who took turns doing each other's hair:

I borrowed my sisters huge inflatable water slide, which the kids loved!

We also spent time at the Shadowglen pool, where big boy Caleb (5) went down one of the big waterslides!!

We also had a great dinner at Phil's Ice House (followed, of course, with Amy's Ice Cream with rainbow sprinkles) and the mandatory superfun lunch at Chick-fil-A. Superdave helped too - here he is reading to the kids:

The first night of trying to settle all the kids down was a little rough (especially for Jen, who ended up with all 4 of her kids in one room). Here are the precious non-sleepers:
The next day we played them hard and didn't give naps, so they passed out much earlier!! Jen & I even got to have one of our famous "planning" sessions! We get some ideas going, but end up having a great time in the process. Here is one of our prize-winning collaborations from our women's retreat:

Can't wait for them to visit again!!

Guest room is taking reservations!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Exploring Day

Recently, Daniel found a present in his closet from Uncle Dan that hadn't been used yet. It was a Explorer Trek Pak belt with tools (bug tweezers, magnifying glass, you get the picture). He paired it with a ranger vest that Mimi and Pawpaw brought back from a trip to Yellowstone a few years back. So cute! We set out today to explore the lake nearest to us, but it was big-time raining when we got to the entrance. Plan B was to visit a park across town near my sister's last house. I managed to get there with only a few turnarounds! It wasn't raining, but it was crazy muggy. We hiked around on the trails there, then sat down to enjoy a quick snack. We found our first victim, um... I mean specimen - a grasshopper! We managed to catch him with the net and put him in the bug jar to examine him. We did release him back into the wild, did a bit more exploring, and then got caught in a pretty good rainshower. We managed to make it back in the car before the downpour started! Daniel thought it was cool that God let us get back in our car before the big rain came - so sweet. Hopefully, he'll want to keep exploring!!

Adventure Day

The kids love all the fun new stuff we get to do here in Austin. Our latest adventure included a trip to Radijazz, which is a huge indoor playscape with this big riverscape, a huge volcano with a foam block pit and a big climbing playground. My sister was the official photographer for the outing, so I'll post photos once I get from her. I think the kids ran, jumped, and rolled for 2 hours straight!

Leslie took Halle home for a nap, and I took the 3 cousins for pink Sprites (cherry Sprite from Sonic) and to get Daniel a haircut (he has Kindergarten Camp next week!). We have a great Toys R Us near us with a Cool Cuts for Kids inside! I managed to get the three preschoolers past ALL the toys and into the studio, where they had tons of kid-friendly video game stations and toys. The girls played with plastic zoo animals while Daniel played a Nemo game during his haircut. We managed to leave the toy store with only 2 balls and a $4.32 pricetag!
We finished up the evening having dinner with my sister's family, complete with boys wrestling match. This game involves Uncle Kevin, Dave, and Daniel as well as all of our couch cushions. Daniel's getting much better at this and really looks forward to it. He's getting pretty tough, even when he gets hurt. I love that he has great men in his life that can teach him how and when to be rough!! Definitely not a good mommy role. In Peck tradition, you have to name your moves, which Daniel LOVES. If you take the two small cushions and use them at the same time on either side of your opponent, you yell "Sandwich Shop!" as you make your move. Fireball, tornado, and Special Delivery are Daniel's favorites. Too nuts!! The little girls played a little; their favorite move is to run into the cushion and fall down while Uncle Kevin holds it up (can't remember the name). Wow, I've got to get the video camera out next time!!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

While the cat's away...

...the mice will play!! While my sister was on her mission trip, my brother-in-law Kevin took on some home improvements! Leslie has no clue that her sweet husband ripped up the carpet in 2 downstairs rooms and replaced them with hardwood floors!! They look awesome and she is going to LOVE it!! He also had a guy come to put up a rock border in the front & back beds.
This superdad even made signs!!

Here's Ellie with painted fingers and toes to show mommy at the airport!