Friday, March 27, 2009

It Really is NOT Illegal!

Texas children are taught before they can talk that if they pick the bluebonnets that line Texas highways they will be sent to jail. They may even have been told that they could be put to death. It is that serious. You do NOT pick the bluebonnets. Ever.

And, so on the day we got back from Spring Break, Henry learned something he had to share. Something he could NOT believe. He came in and announced, "Did you know that it is not against the law to pick bluebonnets? Really, it isn't! Why would people say that it is?"

I was trying to figure out if I tell him the truth or just continue the lie. Bella answered for me.

"Henry! If you pick bluebonnets you are going straight to juvvy!"

That's right ... she said "juvvy". And, in that moment I was glad to be back in school. Because it really is better than any comedy routine.

And, for the record ... it is not against the law to pick bluebonnets. It is one of the great urban legends. But, just so you know that when I told the story to Bella's preschool teacher she said, "It isn't against the law?" Um, she is over 40. Oh, Texas ... what have you done?

Monday, March 23, 2009


The Friday before Spring Break was not a banner day for me. It was probably the worst day in my teaching career. I left for Spring Break not really caring if I came back. I wasn't really feeling it when I went in to school today.

And, then one of the other teachers poked her head in my door as she walked by and said, "I'm really thankful today." And proceeded to keep going. I (somewhat cynically) asked "Why?!" I pondered her answer for most of the day. She said that she was just thankful as she walked in the door because everyone in her family was healthy, they all had jobs and they all were happy ... and, that was all she needed.

I am quick to be thankful for the big or amazing things. For vacations. For beautiful sunrises. For raises or accolades at work. For a beautiful home. For warm weather. But, why is it I find it difficult to be thankful for the every day things ... why is it hard to just live a life of thankfulness? To say (and mean it), Lord, thank you for this ... even if the this is a trial.

And, so today there are many things I am thankful for ... for Dean and Torrey. That Gram is with us. For two crazy dogs and two moody cats. For the fact that I knew what was for dinner before I pulled in the driveway tonight. For a good day at school. For sweet friends. For family that I adore. For lessons learned. For a path we haven't traveled before knowing that God is ordering our steps. For the fact that I didn't get yelled at today (I told you the day before Spring Break was rough!) Simple things. Not fancy, just plain. But, they are enough.

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Vacation All I Ever Wanted

We left our beautiful beach paradise around 8 this morning and headed to Panama City Beach because we had an appointment to swim with the dolphins at Gulf World. Panama City is beautiful. Gulf World was nice, but not SeaWorld!
Torrey loves penguins ... she was excited to see these four guys. Not sure they were living in the right temperatures ... um, Gulf World, they are arctic animals!
They had several shows. We went to the sea lion show first ... notice I said sea lion and not lions? You got it ... there was only one sea lion in the show. It was very educational, however. And, the "little" guy was cute.
The dolphin show was our favorite. About an hour later, Torrey was in this same pool swimming with these dolphins.
Dean and Torrey enjoyed the show ... or, was it the pretzel? We had just sat through a bird show (those of you who know me know how much I love birds ... not!), so we were all happy to not see birds!
We got back to the condo around 4 and Torrey and I hit the beach. She spent over an hour building and playing on the beach.
As we were walking back to the condo, someone felt the need to jump in the pool! We really had a fun and relaxing day ... tomorrow we hope to hit a go cart track and spend some more time on the beach. We would all like to stay here forever!

Dolphin Girl

We moved to Orlando the week Torrey turned two. The first thing we did when we moved there? Got season passes to Sea World (hey! we knew our priorities!) Torrey immediately fell in love with the dolphins and would proclaim to anyone who would listen that she would one day be a "dophin dirl." Her dream came true today ...Ready to go ... it was chilly out (again, Northern peeps we are from Texas!), but that and the cold water could not dampen her spirits. She was the first one in the water and the first one to get to pet the dolphins.
Torrey started out slowly ... she called the dolphin to her and Sandy gave Torrey a kiss. Unfortunately, the photographer was on the other side of the pool and Torrey had to face him ... I guess unfortunately for us because we had to buy the picture! I will scan it when we get home and post it on a future blog.
Then Torrey put her arms up and Sandy gave Torrey a hug. Somewhere after this, they all had to get out of the pool because one of the dolphins needed a time out. Time out ... a universal discipline!
Torrey also got to pet the dolphin ... Torrey said she felt cold and smooth.
They also had Torrey swim out into the deep water and she got to splash the dolphin ... she should have known the dolphin would splash her back! HA!
Here she is ready to climb on board. Torrey stood there with her arm up and the dolphin slid right up to her and Torrey hung on to her fin and off they went ...

And, there she is ... our "Dolphin Girl"! She has said about 100 times how much fun today was for her ... guess what little girl? It was fun for your daddy and me too!

And, it wasn't lost on us that she got to swim with the dolphins on Grammy's birthday. Grammy so loved watching Torrey at the dolphin shows at SeaWorld and if she had been with us today would have been out there in the water with her! Happy Birthday Mom ... we miss you so much and can't wait to see you next month!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

We Never Want our Vacaton to End!

Our 1st real day of vacation started out freakishly early. Dean went out at 7:30 to get me a coffee and as soon as he left Torrey got up. Good thing ... because we were up so early, we got to see dolphins swimming along the shore. We were telling Dean about our sighting and he looked out and said "Oh, there they are" ... and there was another group of dolphins. We tried to get pictures, but they weren't the best. But, we thought you would like to see the view that we are enjoying ...paradise ... pure and simple. We enjoyed spending time on the balcony watching the beach and the water. So relaxing!
The sand on the beach is the softest I have ever felt. It was cold, so Torrey said it felt a little like snow. She enjoyed playing and digging in the sand.
Our girl down by the water ... she is definitely a beach girl!
The water was cold ... but, that didn't stop Torrey from making the attempt to go all the way under the water. She got close! We all enjoyed our time at the beach. We especially enjoyed watching the kids using their "skim" boards ... they throw them into the water at the edge and ride them like surf boards. Our favorite part was when a dad gave it a whirl and ended up doing a face plant ... note to self, skim boards are for kids!
We found the neatest restaurant for dinner. Everything tasted like chicken. It had a french name ... Chic-fil-a ... HA!
Torrey and I went down for one more visit to the beach before watching American Idol. Tomorrow we will be going to Panama City so Torrey can swim with the dolphins. Can't wait!

Monday, March 16, 2009


Sook-San-Wan-Gerd Torrey ... which is Happy Birthday, Torrey in Taiwanese! Our girl is 13 today. Dean and I are officially in mourning! We started our day off with presents. She got lots of fun things ... among them were ...
money from Gram ... she is full of good ideas how she is going to spend her loot!
... a beautiful necklace from Grammy & Papoo. It is a heart pendant made from her birthstone.
... a Jon Hart bag from Dean and I. It is in one of her signature colors with her name on it ... she loves it.
We ate breakfast in the hotel and she ordered a smoothie ... I was a little jealous when it came out (although my lemon pancakes with raspberry sauce soon made me forget the smoothie!) The wait staff was amazing to Torrey ... the Taiwanese girl who sat us came and told her Happy Birthday in her native tongue (then wrote it out for her so we wouldn't forget it ... I wonder if she realized what a treasure that became for Torrey!) Our waiter and another random waiter decided against singing "Happy Birthday" to Tor and instead gave her boxes of chocolates. Wise choices! It was a sweet start to her special day.

Right after breakfast we loaded the car and headed to Destin. They let us check in early and we got unpacked and since we hadn't eaten since breakfast, we joined the other "early birders" at, where else ...
Outback! Torrey loves this place ... although, they have changed their recipe for the baked potato ... definitely not as yummy. Why mess with perfection?

We made a stop at Publix (oh how I miss that place!) and then headed back to the condo to call it a night. It is raining ... but, we have reports that tomorrow will be perfect beach weather. Can't wait!

Historic Mobile Home Park ... HUH?!

We made it to Mobile, Alabama in record time. I saw a sign that said "Historic Mobile Home Park" and said "Only in Alabama would there be a historic mobile home park." Um, it's not a short i sound ... evidently it was a park in Mobile, AL. Who's the dummy now? Anyways, we spent the night at the Historic Battlefront Hotel in downtown Mobile. It is a beautifully restored hotel. Torrey wanted to make sure I took a picture of her bed ....
and our bed. HA! Actually, she loved her bed ... we all were very comfortable.
Torrey fell in love with this little couch ... she would like one in her bedroom, please! Um, I don't think so.
We found a scary little park on our walk through town. Torrey immediately noticed the squirrels. There were tons of them. I mean they were EVERYWHERE! At first it was funny ... then it was a little freaky. Little known fact, my sister Laurie talks to squirrels. And, she thinks they talk back to her. She would have loved this park!
We made a trip up to the rooftop deck ... this is the view of the Mobile bay. Lovely if you like containers and barges!
And, the view of downtown Mobile. We all enjoyed our quick visit!

On the Road Again

We have been waiting and waiting for our trip to Destin ... and it is here! We left before the sun on Sunday morning. Dean wanted to leave at 7 am ... we were a little off. But I wanted to state for the record that Torrey and I were buckled and ready to go at 7! (To be fair ... Dean went back in to make sure we had enough batteries for the back seat headphones!)
And, look who else was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed? She thoroughly enjoyed her spot in the back seat ... she watched movies and played with her iPod. She was also thrilled to be in charge of the snacks!
Torrey announced she had never been to Mississippi before. Imagine my surprise when Dean said he hadn't either. So, now two more Townsends can say they have been to Mississippi ... they so enjoyed the beautiful rest area!

Next stop ... Mobile, Alabama!

Friday, March 13, 2009

It Is Definitely Friday the 13th!

I am not superstitious. I don't keep careful watch of the calendar to see when the next Friday the 13th is. Um, it was today. All day. Sad thing is, I didn't really realize it until a few minutes ago ... and I sighed and said "that is why!"

I had a hard day at school today ... but, not because of a child or anything I did. Isn't that odd? I have been hurting all day ... not just for me, but for others. Even hurting for the ones who hurt me.

And, in the middle of my hurt, God whispered to me. (He is just like that!) And He used the hurting to remind me of how He wants me to be ... He so wants me to be "becoming" when I interact with people. He wants for me to shine for Him even in my hurt. He wants everyone who comes in contact with me to know that I love Him. That can be hard to do when you are hurting or perceive a wrong. We all have a tendency to rear back and just let loose. Oh Lord, please remind me of today the next time I am there. Let my words be gentle. Let my spirit be sweet. Please.

And, on that note ... Spring Break starts NOW!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

It Really Isn't Fair!

I know I have said these words often this week. But, today's circumstances REALLY weren't fair. First, Spring Break starts at 2:30 on Friday (so thankful I teach Kindergarten and not a higher grade with a 3:15 dismissal!) Secondly, it got freakishly cold last night. And, for my smart alec blog readers from the North, "freakishly" means in the 40's. It was 80 yesterday and today 40 (and raining) ... children do not do well with weird swings in temperature. Thirdly, the moon is full. Full. Fourthly, it was one of the teacher's birthdays and a mom brought cookies for ALL the Kindergartners. It quickly became clear they were not sugar-free. If I could write a letter to God it would go something like this ...

Dear God,
While I know your ways are best, would you please reconsider weird weather changes and full moons on the same day. Kindergarten teachers do not love it. And, when they come the day before Spring Break starts it makes me want to say, "Really? What are you thinking?"

Right now I am at T-22hours and 30 minutes. Let it go quickly. Let it go quickly!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

She Never ...

Torrey and I took a trip to Target (also known as Utopia!) to get Spring Break Trip supplies. While we were in there a photo frame shaped like a record caught her eye. And then she said it ... "You know, I have never held a real record in my hands before." I chuckled, but then I got to thinking about the things that were normal to me growing up that she will never have the opportunity to do ...

-She will never be forced to get up to change the channel on the TV (using a dial) because her dad doesn't want to do it.

-She will never truly understand the joy of watching "The Grinch" at Christmas time ... she can watch it whenever she wants and doesn't have to endure any of the "Peter Paul" commercials.

-She will never miss a call or not know who is calling before she chooses to answer.

-She will never know the importance of seeing a movie in the theatre ... if she waits 3 months she can watch it in the theatre at her own house!

-She will never be lost when driving in her dad's car. And, her seat will always be hot or cold. And, if she is bored on a long-distance trip she can watch a movie ... oh how I remember long-distance trips with a black and white TV hoping for a big city with reception!

-She will never watch TV on a 13 inch black and white set.

-She will never use a typewriter or curse the inventor of carbon paper or bless the inventor of white out!

-She will not wait in line or use the phone to do very many things ... the computer will be her best friend ... from ordering prescriptions to ordering take out.

-She will never tape the latest episode of "The Brady Bunch" using a reel to reel tape player (oh, I was so hip!) ... or even a cassette tape player for that matter.

-She will look at a VHS tape and wonder "What in the world is this?"

-She will never have an 8-track tape break in mid "Sound of Music" song and see her brother break out in glee. She will never even know what an 8-track is (and, remember I told you I was hip?!)

-She will never have a remote control hooked to anything attached by a cord.

-She will never know that paying $4 for coffee isn't the best idea (sorry ... she has my Starbucks addiction!)

There are so many other things I could post. So many things that make me giggle. Oh, Torrey, you should be so thankful for technology. And, that you weren't born in the dark ages like your mother!


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Guess What?!

Beth Moore reads my blog. She must because she wrote this on her blog today ... and, we all know she wrote it just for ME!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Refining Fire

So, cheerleading wasn't God's plan for Torrey next year. She was (and still is) devastated. We have had a difficult night/day/night working through this. Dean and I are so sad for her ... she truly worked hard and was ready. In a few days, this will become part of the story of how Torrey became Torrey. Oh, just wait world, she is going to be amazing!

Torrey stayed home from school today. She spent the day with Dean ... there is nothing like a sweet Daddy's love! I, on the other hand, went to school. Boy howdy was it hard. I struggled with knowing that I pour my heart into 19 kiddos and I don't feel like that is being done for Tor. I so want her to not lose her confidence. I want her to believe that she can do anything she sets her mind and heart to. I would love to keep her in a bubble, but, there is an episode of Seinfeld which shows that bubble living isn't all it's cracked up to be!

Oh, and my day was made even more perfect when we discovered that my little buddy has ringworm. Um, he has had it for 2 weeks. And, he just got medicine for it today. Please re-read the above paragraph and pay special attention to the part where I say that I love on my kiddos. Did you become itchy or is it just me?

So, our family went from feeling like we were in the valley last night to feeling like we are in the Refiner's fire today. My prayer is that Torrey will not be a ho-hum Christian. That she won't be a girl who takes God for granted. That she will not just view Him as her best friend, but as her EVERYTHING. I want her to be a girl who is sold out to Jesus. Who seeks Him to guide her in every part of her life. That when strangers see her they will wonder what it is that makes her so amazing ... and, they shouldn't wonder what, they should wonder WHO! To get to that point, you have to go through a refining fire. Difficult? Yes, but at the other end is a life worth its weight in gold. Pure gold.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

At This Moment

It is 2:55 pm Texas time. Our girl is about to hit the floor to try out for 8th grade cheerleading. I am a wreck ... so I am doing the only thing I can. I am praying. Praying. Praying. God has a plan for our girl. Dean and I so hope it involves 8th grade cheerleading ... and, if it doesn't we hope we have the words to comfort her tonight.

Sweet Torrey, you have worked hard. You have flipped, and jumped, and cheered until you were black and blue. You have stayed late to work with a trainer. You have gotten up early to jump and flip a little more. You have shown you have cheerleader spirit in the way you have treated others also trying out. (The word leader is in cheerleader for a reason!) Your daddy and I are so proud of you. You have shown perseverance, dilligence and courage. You asked me last night if I was a cheerleader ... I didn't have the courage to try out. Right now I am praying for you. Praying for a calmness to sweep over you like a cool breeze. Praying that the minute your feet hit the floor they would remember what to do. That your jumps would be higher than ever. Your cartwheel would be perfect. Your smile would be gorgeous. And, above all else, that the judges would see SOMEONE in you shining through! You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you! Your daddy and I love you so.

I will update tonight with the results. We will find out tonight about 6 ... oh the magic of the web!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

New Ways to Pray

In my sister's blog today, she shared how bloggers are using their blogs for more than just sharing their thoughts. They are using them to spread the word about urgent prayer requests ... and, God is answering those prayers! Periodically, I get the go here or there and yesterday was no exception. Yesterday, I got word to pray for Gracyn Denbesten ...

and it took my breath away. Because this sweet one is not a stranger. Gracyn is 9 years old and is currently in Shands Children's Hospital in Gainesville, FL waiting for a new heart. Gracyn is a student at the school we were a part of while we were in Orlando. Go and read her story and know this ... God alone will be glorified.

Sweet Jesus, today we ask for healing of a heart that doctor's say is diseased. If that isn't your plan, we ask for a new heart ... a perfect heart that will come in your perfect timing. We pray for a donor family ... we know what we are asking for when we ask for a new heart. Please be with Gracyn. Overwhelm her with your love for her. Bring comfort and strength and peace. May every nurse and doctor who steps foot in her door know that she is yours ... and that she is strong because of you. Be with her family ... especially her brothers who are still in Orlando. Be for them exactly what they need in the moment they need it. Jesus, may you be glorified in this.