Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Family Reunions!

When I was a kid we used to go to my Step-Dads family ranch every Thanksgiving and Easter for what was a twice a year family reunion. I loved our time out at the farm and its where I learned to ride a horse, shoot a gun, and drive a go-cart to a truck to a car! It is a place I have very fond feelings of as I love when homes are FILLED to the rim with family so much so that there is no way everyone could fit in the house so you spill out onto the porch and lawn and where ever else. And you can’t really hear anyone because everyone is talking so loud and is so excited!

They were always filled with amazing food, and the women of the family usually gathered in the house trying to work the maze that was casserole dishes and trying to figure out the jig-saw puzzle of getting all the desserts to fit on one table and the food on another… and where are the drinks going to go! The men in my family usually gathered outside and talked about the latest rifle on the market, the cattle on the ranch, the new truck someone got or something manly you know… The kids we ran around in the open field in front of the house, or we would walk to the creek and shoot cans or sticks as they floated by, or take the dune-buggy to the old gravesite that was on the property and try to scare each other. It was always good times and always we would sleep the whole car ride back because we were zapped from the day!

During Easter the adults would always hide eggs all over the field in front of the house and then the kids would be set loose in waves pending on ages to grab what ever they could. Sadly sometimes the men thought it was funny to hide them in dried cow patties, but usually those had money in them so we sucked it up and lifted them up looking for the “golden eggs”. Gross now, but it was a small price to pay for that dollar bill in those days!

So since I moved to DC I have had to spend every Thanksgiving in DC and almost all my Easters as well. If I was home for Easter I was here for a wedding and could not attend the festivities at the Farm. But this year there is a turn! I am home in Texas and looking forward to Thanksgiving and other holidays with the fam! But this past weekend my Cousin Christina organized a Family Reunion in New Braunfels. I was so excited to be able to attend and the food did not disappoint, neither did the desserts! The funny things was all of the sudden it was my cousins, sisters and I in the kitchen organized to jig-saw puzzle of dishes, and getting everyone to line up. We were now the ones hiding the eggs for the hunt, and making sure the kiddos stagger properly so the littlest ones have a chance. We were not at the farm so we did not put any under “cow-patties”, but we did put a few under the guys hats… It was an awesome day of catching up, eating and playing with the kids, but just another sign that we are growing up… STINK!
Lined up to fill the plates

Missy did not like hers... so she just ate her plate!

Looking for Money in Aunt Graysons jacket for train tickets

Everyone on and Ready to Ride!

The girls showing off their Easter Egg Hunt Loot... Savannah was just glancing at ther loot she is not sad but Sabrina's face was too good not to use this photo!

Friday, March 20, 2009

March Madness! AU Style

Brian going in for a lay-up

It's March Madness people! And unless you live under a rock you are aware of ALL the College Basketball going on! Now playing basketball most of my life makes me a lover of the sport... not "good" but a lover lets clarify... And I love March, I love watching these guys and gals battle it out to be the best! I wish every sport had a Championship run down with as much hype as College Basketball! But lets be honest if they did I would NEVER get any work done... just like I am not now ;)

So as you all know for the last 6 years I lived in Washington, D.C. and for the last bit over 4 years of that I worked with the college ministry at my church on American University's campus. It has been one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had in my Christian walk working with these students and I have been blessed to know many of them since their first year in college. Well one of the best ways we have been able to work to impact this campus is through the student athletes. Many on our leadership are also on leadership within their teams. We have Kira the Captain of the Lacrosse team, Cynammon the outstanding Volleyball player, Irene former captain of the Soccer team, Mike the captain and Olympic hopeful Wrestler (which by the way he is in the NCAA tourney for wrestling and knockin them out... literally! He is still undeafted this whole year!) the guys on the Basketball team have stood out amazingly from the beginning. They started a study with the other guys on the team and have poured into their team like no other. And I am constantly amazed at the heart these guys have for their campus and their sport.

So when they made it to the NCAA Tourney for the second year in a row I was ecstatic for them! I went with friends to a restaurant to watch the games... Our boys were a 14 seed up against a 3 seed... no one thought they could do it... by half time they were up by 10 points!!! And into the start of the second half they had a 14 pt lead!!! By then I had my whole table routing for them and against their brackets... it was funny as everyone else was watching the TU game and my eyes were glued to our boys. So I would yell out and clap when the rest of the place was silent and everyone would look at me like I was crazy. I wish I could say our boys pulled out an upset last night but I can't. What I can say is those guys faught the entire game and never gave up. According to the polls they should have been walked all over... and they weren't. I was sad Brian and Frank could not get a W their senior year, but still so proud of the game they played and the season they had, I only wish I could have been there with them in Philly.

Way to go guys! I am in awe of what you accomplished this year! Not only on the basketball court.

I should credit all the action shots I swiped from ESPN's website...

Frank during the Conference Title game against Holy Cross

Brian fighting hard all the way till the end

Brian and Travis working security for me at the Leadership retreat

I searched and searched but all my pics with these boys have them in their "security" pose!
Travis, Brian, Phillipe and I at the last Gathering last year

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Allie's Wedding

This weekend I headed down to Georgia for my friend Allie’s wedding and a mini work reunion. Allie and I worked together when I first moved up to DC, and she was a huge help to me as I adjusted to life in the big city. She showed me how to properly don my scarf or wrap, she bought me dinner when my little government salary would not, she let me crash at her house when ours was invaded with mold, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. All to say Allie was crucial to me in my time in DC and I am not totally over exaggerating but I am pretty sure I would not have been as successful or lasted as long as I did with out her friendship.

The other best thing about Allie, was she did not just do these things for me but so many others. Her house was the center of most of our entertainment, she hosted us for anything and everything under the sun. She was very intentional about hanging out with folks and connecting people. So her wedding brought everyone back together and it was another fun Allie event. I have now officially been gone from DC for a little over a month and a half, but it seems like forever! So it was a complete blast to see so many faces I was used to seeing just about everyday, when we all worked together it was some of the most fun I have ever had in a job and I do not think I could ever replace that experience with another. We were blessed to watch history take place before our eyes and every person I worked with was grateful for the position the Lord had blessed them with. We worked long hours and rarely saw daylight outside of the office, but it never seemed to bother any of us because the work was meaningful and the people were amazing. Allie and her roommate Carrie decided once to go above and beyond and “advance” my surgery for me a couple of summers ago. Basically Allie talked Carrie into letting her wrap her from elbows to shoulders with an ace bandage and made her perform a series of tasks and then sent me a report telling me how I could accomplish these after surgery. My favorite line of the e-mail was “Carrie found it hard to answer the phone, even when I threw it at her”… and the sad thing is that was not a joke people!

Well I could go on and on about each and every person I was able to spend time with this weekend and why I think they are some of the most amazing people I will ever know. But I will sum it up in this, they were my family when mine was far away. The fed me, clothed me and looked after me for many years. They were the people who helped me through some hard times and people I knew and still know I could trust with all and any of my secrets. They are giants in my life and I am so blessed the Lord brought each of them to me. It was a great weekend and I am looking forward to many more in the future.

Allie and I at the after party

Patrick, Morgan, Me, Lauren and Christina

The Whole WH Gang

Morgan, Christal, and Me

Laura, Morgan, Allie, and I at the after party

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Rodeo Time

Well Monday night I left work a bit early and headed down to H-Town! Some friends of mine were playing at the rodeo and I had not seen them in far too long… like a month! ;) But since I was getting in on Monday night I figured I should grab some good friend time! So Amanda and I headed out for dinner at Johnny Carino’s (my first time since I have been home… I figure its okay you know with the diet and all because I was with another girl, and she had actually worked out that afternoon) So I enjoyed some of their awesome pasta and bread! Mmmmmm! Then headed back to Amanda’s to hang out and my plan was to spend the night at Kristi’s. Well I forget that everything in Houston is an hour away and around 10 pm I realized Kristi’s house was way far and I was meeting with some other friends in the morning that were practically next door to Amanda… so luckily I have a patient and good friend who decided to let an evening visitor become an unexpected house guest! On the plus side I got some solid Annabeth time where I was able to explain the importance of the Pink Elephant to her... so I think this cutie is set for a future in politics.

Little Pink Elephant Annabeth!
When I headed over to the rodeo the next day the nice lady when I walked in, pointed me in the wrong direction and then a string of other first time volunteers sent me all over the rodeo grounds looking for her. Mica just had major knee surgery so she could not walk to me and we were on the phone both totally not knowing where we were trying to find each other. Finally Kirby came out with a search party of golf carts because Mica was convinced walking the half mile to me was smart... not so much! So finally I found her we were escorted back to the dressing room where we stayed for almost 10 hours!!! I just have to say I love a friend you can spend over 12 hours with really not doing anything but talking and still not get sick of them! It was just me and her and a good number of random visitors sitting in a room but it was so good to just catch up, or just laugh at stupid stuff like the mascara blog that was on her face, or my ripped shirt! Dang it! I stuck around for sound check and it was pretty cool to watch since the staging is so different with the rodeo. And planned on leaving before the concert, because they did not even start till after 9:30 pm and I knew I would be tired if I stayed, but that rarely works and I was convinced to stay and I am glad I did. I love watching these guys perform and its so cool to watch someone do something they are extraordinary at and they love. So Kirby and I braced ourselves on the rodeo railing and watched a bit of the show. I hung out an hour or so more then headed back to Amanda’s because as I realized if I stayed at my friend’s in the city I would have to fight traffic in the morning, so Amanda won again (should we really call this winning?)… again surprise house guest! But luckily I snuck out by 7 am in the morning and man was I tired! Texas has slowed me down I can not keep up with my old self! On the ride back to Austin Harry and I hit the 100,000 mile mark!!! WHOOP! Its been a good 100,000 miles with this little guy! So tonight I leave for Dallas, more friends and fam and then off to Hot-Lanta for a wedding/ old work reunion that I am OH so looking forward to! So catch y’all next week with some good pics from Atlanta!!!

Willie, Me and Mica waiting for the stage to be moved out

Kirby (the road manager) and I watching the show

Harry hits 100,000!!!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Team Dickerson Trade

This is a WAY overdue post! But I wanted to get these two pics before I did so. I was blessed to be recruited onto Team Dickerson in October and the months that took place afterwards were a lot of fun! I already told Joe that my future husband was going to have to go through some sort of training with him before we got married as he is one of the biggest servants I know. And having Ashley around was a lot of fun because she is one of the funniest people I know as well. Together they make a great pair and were so generous in opening their home up to me in such a crucial time of their life. They were prepping for a new edition to the Team and their first baby edition. it was a blast living there and they were so patient with the hours I kept and all my traveling. It was very sad to leave but after I had been home I while I received the above picture in the mail, framed and all!

See this was their Christmas card and one morning when I was leaving I saw them there and was shocked and appalled I was not on the card! I left them a post-it telling them no worries I had helped out and inserted my face on all the cards. So after I left Joe took a pic of me from Philly actually and superimposed it onto the Christmas pic. (I promise I am not hiking my leg up on Ash!) And sent this to me! So the whole team was in the pic! It made my night and made me miss them more! I Loved every day living with them and will miss them a lot. But they have a new edition to the team. They traded me out for a newer and cuter model. Little Grayson is in the world and he came at the right time so Kyle never had to bring that boiling water! ;)

Love y'all and congrats!!!

Team Dickerson Today (Minus Hank) Joe, Grayson and Ash

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I'm No Pro

But as I was searching to find a picture to adequately describe what I saw this morning I came upon this...

This is some tennis star showing you can still lead an active lifestyle after having a baby... I think that is a true statement but maybe playing tennis with your newborn strapped to you and balls flying by his little head is not the smartest move or way to advertise this... I mean has this kid ever played with Jenn... she hits me often with a racquetball and I think she would still show no mercy if I had a baby strapped to me... maybe that's my next experiment? Hmmm...

Roses, Racquets and Wrecks

Okay it’s a “W” not an “R” but its close! And “W’s” are always something good! ;) Anyway… so last night I took part in something I can only blame my time with Team Dickerson for. I attended a “The Bachelor” Season Finale viewing party… Yes I have never watched the show before. I mean I had seen a couple of episodes when I was at friends houses but never was intentional about it. But one thing Team Dickerson taught me was the beauty of reality TV… Dancing with the Stars is another Team favorite… So luckily I have some pretty cool friends here and Ashley and Haley organized a great watching party. They reserved a back room at The Daily Grill (one of my DC favorites so glad its here in Austin) And had a beautiful table set up with a rose for each girl. So it was a fun night even if I thought the ending of the show was a little trashy… It was so bad Ashley could barley take it… Seriously Jason, Seriously!

Ash and Haley our Party Planners

Ash SO upset with the ending she decides to eat her rose in protest!

So this morning when my alarm went off at 5:20 am to go meet Jenn for racquetball I was not so chipper as I was the last morning round. So I blame Jason for making me stay out so late last night and not sleep well! I was so upset for both Melissa and Molly… this show is NO GOOD! Any way, so I got up and headed to the gym, not feeling so well and it showed. I had awaken a sleeping giant already from boasting of my win last week. And Jenn let me have it this morning… she won ALL 4 games! I was SHUT OUT! I hate being shut out! I did hold my own though and the last three games were close… first one not so much… So now Jenn is up on me 11 games to my 8… I have a lot of work cut out for me on Thursday morning. Luckily we are playing again at 5 am… so she will get less sleep and I will get her then!

Jenn Showing off her "V" for Victory

Yes we know... 4 games... to my ZERO!~ (Stupid Jason)

Then later in the morning as I was heading into work, I thought I needed to stop for some Starbucks I was still dragging even after my morning beating. So I stopped at this drive up one not far from my house and just off the interstate, the drive up line was packed so I parked and got out to order. This worked supremely into my favor as one of God’s great creatures walked up to order his coffee. Suddenly I was awake and alert and standing up straight, weird. He struck up conversation immediately asking me if I was heading south. I told him I was and he told me it was not a good idea and started to tell me all about the traffic woes on 35, so he walked over and asked where I was going, looked it up on his phone using google and told me a route that should get me around the traffic. (I should admit that there were two other women there and he was not at all concerned with their commute.) We chatted a bit longer and I tried to pretend the guy was not trying to hand me my coffee… STINK! I should note here I am so glad the guy at the counter did not ask for a name as I would have by law been required to give my Starbucks name and not sure telling him my name was Jackson would have allowed me the attention I got. So we bid our good-byes and I thanked the good Samaritan with my phone number… Just Kidding! But I may need to stop there more often now… I am suddenly finding room in my budget for my mocha in the morning.

And one last note I just had to add in here, was as I was walking in this morning from my car (we park in a church garage) I saw one of the art of multitasking moms walking in to drop her kids off… I really do hope it was one of the mother’s day out things, she had one strapped to her in some sort of carrying case, and one in each hand, who I think neither were more that three years old (which please take that assessment with a grain of salt as I do not know how to judge kids ages, I was shocked this weekend that Jada was only two, y’all she talks and runs around and everything…), and she was carrying a bag full of stuff! I lifted my mocha in her honor and took a swig and thanked the Good Lord I was single!

And by the way I am loving my new iphone as it allows me to take great pics every where!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Multi-Tasking and Starbuck's

Well this weekend my dear friend from D.C. flew in to interview at the Bush School at A&M. He was going to rent a car and drive but I told him it was ridiculous for him to spend that kind of money when I could just drive him and stay the weekend in College Station… Let’s be honest does anyone ever really need a reason to visit Sweet Home College Station… I think not.

So Friday afternoon we took off around noon and headed for the Promise Land. I dropped Kyle off for the beginning of his weekend long interview conference and I headed out to meet friends of mine. I stayed with my friends Leah and Brad and their little guy Will. They were shocked to see that Will’s crying in the morning did not even stir me… I told them this was yet another reason the Lord had not called me to the motherhood… my child could be screaming bloody murder and I would just be soundly asleep in my bed dreaming of who knows what. I had some great time with them and it was just fun catching up. I also got to see my old roomie Steph and her little lady Jada. Who has to be one of the most adorable ladies I know! We had a lot of fun shopping at Target and getting all the basic necessities of life. But I will say one thing I learned from both of these ladies, was the art of multitasking. Now before this weekend I would tell you that I was one of the best multitaskers out there… I had it down and was seamless in the juggling act of putting on an event or running an office whatever the tasks that day might be… but when you see a Mom (and I have seen it before but I think back to back Mom incidents made me appreciate it more) juggle life and a one or two year old little guy or gal, you see it as a true art form. My favorite was when Steph and I were praying and the entire time she knew exactly where Jada was and how she needed to be corrected, without ever breaking her concentration on the Lord. I had to chuckle to myself as I have never seen it done before… I confessed to both Leah and Steph that part of the adjustment to life back in Texas was babies. THEY ARE EVERY WHERE! It is so different than DC where they are few and far between. Luckily I have 5 nieces and nephews or I would be ALL out of sorts! So I tip my hat to all you Mom’s out there for all the work you do! I could never do it to say the least!

I also got to hang out with some fun college gals too. I have been blessed this year to work with the current Phi Lamb officers and have loved every minute of hanging out with these ladies. They are a sweet group of gals and a lot of fun to goof off with. This weekend of the many things they taught me they taught me about the importance of a Starbuck’s name… as someone who should hold stock in the company and someone who has been successful to cut herself off the daily Venti, Extra-Hot, No Whip, Soy Mocha’s (mainly because my salary can no longer support it) you would think I would know about the Starbuck’s name. But I did not, I think the reason I did not is because my Starbuck’s ladies and gents were always SO good in DC always knowing my drink and having it ready for me as soon as they saw my car pull up every morning. Ah… I miss my ladies… But anyway, here they ask for names as you order your drink, and thus the Starbuck’s Names were created. It started with the idea they should be one syllable and easy to spell but that is no fun so they switched it up to just fun names. When it came time to decide what my name would be Courtney looked deep into my eyes and came up with Jackson. Jackson? I immediately said this would have to be a pending name until we had approval from Jackson’s mama that it was okay to carry as my Starbuck’s Name, a few confusing text messages later with Amanda and I was set to go. I am working on the nick name Jax and will let you know if/ when Courtney allows that to happen but so far she is pretty set that the Lord has shown her Jackson… so Jackson it will be.

So what is your Starbuck’s name… you may need to call Courtney in to help, its one of her spiritual gifts… discerning your Starbuck’s name… that’s biblical right?

Michelle “Jax” Jackson signing off…

Our Names Forever Written on the FreeB!rds Brick

Leah Balancing Will and Getting Ready for Church
(Me just taking pictures...So Helpful!)

Jada all dressed up and ready for Target!

Steph Balancing Lunch, and Catching up!