Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It's warm down here....

Baby girl has been cooking for over 38 weeks now. She's kept me at 2 cm dilated for 2 weeks and 75% effaced sitting low in my pelvis, just ready for her big debut but not budging. It's starting to get just a LITTLE uncomfortable... Plus she just LOVES giving me those practice contractions to keep Garrett and I on our toes at all times. Every time I see the doctor she smiles really big and says, "Any day now!" (I'm a little suspicious that baby girl is waiting for her grandma to come back from Italy before she shows up... that'll be Saturday so... c'mon girl!)
So this is apparently the point of view from which Garrett sees the world and me on a daily basis. Needless to say I felt very short after seeing this picture. It was one of those "aha" moments for me... 

We're praying for some of that fall weather our friends are experiencing in Utah and Tennessee to come our way, but we know it'll probably be another month. I love fall! Whew, it's warm, but it is apparently a "cooler summer" than normal for Houston so thank heavens for that.

We did a few more things around the house a couple of weeks ago. I painted our dining room table and chairs and our master bathroom. I reupholstered the cushions on these chairs we got off craigslist and was very happy when the fabric and the spray paint Garrett picked out matched the rug almost perfectly! We put up some curtains and the nursery is pretty much ready to go. I'm leaving the wall above her crib blank until we bring her home and have officially decided on a name... Then the wall will probably continue to stay blank for a long time...

This is a short post since we don't have anything exciting to announce such as, "Baby girl was born!" but hopefully we get to write a post like that soon...

Much love to all!

Bonus picture of the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland that lives in our garden... 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

I'm not saying I told you so, but...

We have a sweet baby girl on the way! We are so excited and she just keeps growing more and more and loves wiggling around in my tummy. Her favorite thing to do is snuggle up in a tight ball on my right side. It makes me feel really tight, slightly uncomfortable, and results in me walking around school with a limp, but I like picturing her all cozy and curled up :) gives me lots of hope that she will be a snuggly baby (My #1 fear is that I will have a child that will not want to cuddle. Forget wayward teenage years, crime, drugs & alcohol abuse, etc. If my baby won't cuddle, I don't think I'll be able to handle that.)

Really big ant hill
(see foot for point of reference)

The house is coming along and I'm realizing how much I cannot do and will not be able to do :( Garrett is stuck with most of the bending over/backbreaking/stinky chemicals work and I'm left to piddle around and do little things here and there. Our yard has officially turned into a jungle complete with the biggest anthill I have seen as we turn our attention to revitalizing the inside. Don't worry poor, neglected backyard, you will have your glory day in the hot sun ;)

Our plan is to have the biggest projects for the interior of our home done within the next month. I'm so excited to see what it'll look like come the end of June.

I took the time the other day to set up some very important countdowns on my phone. The closest one is THE END OF SCHOOL! I cannot tell you how excited I am for 17 days, 21 hours, and 34 minutes from now when I will be done with school. After carefully reflecting upon this past year, I have come to the conclusion that deciding to teach in an inner city school right after getting married and moving to a completely unfamiliar land was probably not the best idea for us and my emotional and mental sanity. Sometimes you bite off more than you can chew. To say it has been rough at times would likely be an understatement. However, to also say that I have not learned MUCH and grown TONS would also be a lie. I have learned some hard lessons about life, education in this country, and myself and on June 6th I will be very glad to put this experience behind me and say I am officially done learning from that particular trial by fire...

The next countdown occurs 38 days from now and that involves our cousin Ben and I driving from Texas to Tennessee whereupon I will cry sweet tears of joy and hug my sweet sisters and my parents for an extended period of time... I'm so excited to have some sister time and see some of those people who are closest to my heart. Just thinking about it makes me smile :) I'm not sure how many times a week (or day, depending on the day) I honestly say out loud, "I miss my family" or "I miss my sisters." Any hope of family maybe moving closer to us just gets me giddy.

The third countdown from now (in 65 days) is Utah! We get to go to Utah for a MacKay family reunion and we are so excited! We get to go visit a beautiful part of Utah and spend a nice weekend with mom and dad and everyone. It will be so nice to get to see even more family before life gets crazy with our new baby girl!

Say goodbye to nasty, stinky,
dog-pee-ridden carpet!
The last one of course is for the arrival of that little girl, set for 126 days from now, but she's the only one on this countdown that gets to move that day around a bit if she so chooses. Then we will be blessed with seeing our family again!!!

This summer is going to be hot and uncomfortable, but filled with so many fun projects and most importantly family time! I can't wait for it to get started.

We have two sad looking magnolia trees in our backyard, but they have managed to give us a couple of beautiful blooms! House is smelling less of dog pee and more of spring :) Thank you magnolias!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Here's what I think...

Here's what I think about...


We closed on our house April 9th! It was quite exciting, but also uneventful, ha. We signed the millions of papers, got a key, and then went back to our apartment and they went back to the house. They are renting it from us for a couple weeks so they could have some more time to move out. Basically we don't really feel like we bought a house, but we're still excited. I have revisted pinterest after leaving it alone since we got married. It is quite the helpful app for looking up decorating ideas and gardening plans. Honestly, I'm mostly excited about the garden and hoping the Houston heat holds off for a while so I can really make it pretty! I LOVE working outside and would much rather mow the lawn than vacuum the house any day of the week. If Garrett vacuums the house for me I will unload the dishwasher and fold the clothes for him :) That's true love people...


Our new couches! (Just the couches, not the ottoman thing)
I love projects! I would get SO SO excited in school when my teacher would announce we had a project coming up. I would try to contain my thrill so I didn't look like too much of a nerd, but it usually showed when I turned in (what I believed to be) my masterpiece before the due date... That desire has never left me and the one thing I have regretted about teaching is that there isn't any time for projects :( I just have to assign them and grade them... That is all about to change! New house=a million projects that may even turn a project lover such as myself off from projects entirely... Hopefully I don't get too ahead of myself. 

The crib, or part of it...
Our current project is.... A CRIB! We bought a (pretty beat up) pottery barn crib from a garage sale that was missing parts and was recalled a few years ago because it has a drop side which apparently is quite dangerous for little ones. SO we are getting creative and... definitely making this crib our own, ha! We had a fun night at Home Depot and invested in some tools that will hopefully be well used this summer.  Garrett's been doing a lot of the drilling and sawing and then we will sand it down a little and repaint so it looks like new for our little one!


Hallelujah the throwing up and nausea has slowed down! I feel almost back to normal again which is wonderous. I am a much nicer teacher and I can tell. I still don't feel "pregnant." Garrett likes to ask me, "How's baby?" I often shrug and say, "I don't know, hopefully she's doing well!" I went to the doctor yesterday and heard the heartbeat again. She kept moving around, but the doctor measured the heartbeat at around 140. it was around 140. (Yes, I know I said she. I feel like it's a girl and I'm not shy to say it. I also won't be embarrassed if I'm totally wrong. I just don't want to be one of those people who says, "I KNEW IT WAS A ____!" and never actually told anyone...) I set up an ultrasound appointment for May 12th - that is when we will find out the gender! No, we don't have a preference. I think we both go back and forth. Yes, we already have a list of names. It is very likely that that list will change and evolve over the next 5 months, so we will all just have to say what our little one will be, look like, and what his/her name will be...

I did feel a little flutter in my baby tummy a couple of days ago while I was Gchatting Garrett at school (during my break of course). Baby must have known daddy was chatting with us and wanted to give a little shout out to papa. That was the first time I had felt anything. 


Yes I'm very VERY excited for this school year to be over, but dang it, some of my students are starting to get so sweet and nice I just may miss a few of them :) For some reason the boys are far more interested in the baby than the girls (maybe just because I have a TON more boys than girls...) One student has been a bit of turd pretty much 85% of the year. Ever since he found out I was pregnant though, he has been so excited about this baby! He asks me about it all the time and I feel like he's always staring at my tummy. The other day he was asking me about my ultrasound and so sweetly asked, "Miss, when you find out will you please tell us? Could you please bring in the picture of the baby and show us?!" 

Two sweet girls got me a baby present :) They got me a purple Carebear and a pretty shirt and sweetly smiled, "We hope it's a girl..." 

They are all so excited to find out the gender and they all want to touch my belly... Which is growing rapidly since two weeks ago. 

They aren't all sweet, I did have a few students get up and walk out of my class the other day. I can't say I was too sad to see them go and I tried to hide my smile as they walked out my door and became an administrator's problem :/ (I do feel guilty feeling that way... but it's been a LONG year with some of these special kiddos) The class noticed my grin and they started laughing after the door shut behind our two friends. Apparently sometime between then, me calling the office, and them coming back 20 minutes later the AP and one of the coaches had found them and made them run laps. I don't think they'll be doing that again anytime soon. (Sweet revenge?) They both worked VERY hard the second half of class.


Our young women's president is AWESOME. On Sunday she gave this wonderful lesson about the power of women. It was so uplifting and encouraging and I know it meant a lot to our girls. I had always believed that there was maybe 10-20 women mentioned in the scriptures and that is the mentality of a lot of people. Did you know there are around 500 women mentioned in the scriptures? We only know the name of around 50 (I think she said), but they are there and they are important and powerful. We talked about several of the lesser known examples of women in the scriptures including the daughters of Onitah, the "daughter of Ishmael," Mary Fielding Smith, and the daughter of Jared. We talked about the power and strength of women and how they show it in the scriptures in so many different ways, changing the course of the scriptures for good and sometimes evil.  Strengthening civilizations and sometimes destroying civilizations. 

The influence of women throughout history cannot be ignored. The truth is, women have always had strength, they have always had power. Sometimes it has been very quiet power, but strong and steady, slowly moving the world in the direction that their mothering, teaching, leading, and guiding has prompted and pushed it to go. 

I have always been a bit of a feminist and honestly it was the Church that helped me to see my own strength as a daughter of God. I know a lot of people out there are frustrated with the Church for what they see as a structure that limits women, but I have always ALWAYS felt exactly the opposite about this Church. I did not get my strength, confidence, and pride in being a woman from the world (heaven knows all the world does is bring us all down and confuse us). I did not get it from my teachers at school. I did not get from studying history. I did not get it from my parents (although they did encourage and uplift me). I got it from studying the scriptures and serving in the Church and realizing how truly important, CRITICAL, we women are in the Church and in the world as we serve ALONGSIDE righteous men who hold the priesthood. After serving in various callings in the Church I have felt the strength in that union. Never have I felt limited or less than. Sure, people have said ignorant things and done dumb things, but those are PEOPLE, not the teachings of the Church. 

Well what about the oppressive history of women in the Church? I've studied polygamy in detail (I kind of had to for my major, two of my jobs at BYU, and then again for my profession as a teacher). I've read lots of primary sources from polygamous wives and after doing actual research into the topic I realized something that may be hard for a lot of the world to imagine... Polygamy was actually empowering to a lot of these women as they literally had to become the heads of their households and start businesses to make ends meet. It made them realize they could do hard things, the same things that were usually left to men.  They rose above those challenges. These women became the leaders of the women's rights movement in Utah and women in general were often encouraged by Brigham Young to start businesses, get an education, stretch themselves, and try new things. President Young was very excited to be able to give the women in Utah the right to vote. They did INCREDIBLE things, starting colleges (not merely graduating from college, psh please, that's too easy), getting involved politically, showcasing their awesome stuff at the World's Fare (yeah, they raised silk worms and made beautiful dresses... cool and gross), and doing so much more!

Our Church history is full of powerful women who were powerful in DIFFERENT ways. There is not just one kind of power and I think that is what a lot of the world thinks today: There is only one way to be powerful, there is only one way to have influence. There have been a lot of powerful individuals who have changed the world and they used different kinds of power in many different ways. If it is the power to influence you want, look inside yourself first. Check and see what God has already equipped you with, then go out and start influencing the world for good. Please don't try to limit others understanding of what power is, making others feel like unless they have or can do what others can do they are less than... That simply is not true and there is too much proof to the opposite, if only you will look around. 

As Sojourner Truth said, "If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again!” And another one from Sojourner (that sassy lady), "Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him."  Mary didn't have the Priesthood. Neither did Eve. They served in the gospel, influenced and changed the world using the gifts and power God had given them. 

If someday it is revealed  from the Prophet of God that women can be ordained to the Priesthood, then that will be wonderful (personally I don't want to have to go to more meetings and "risk" being called into more leadership callings, but whatever ;)) However, that will only come through revelation direct from Heavenly Father because the priesthood is His power and this is His Church. He guides it through President Monson. Pressure from the press or individuals will not change that fact. That is not how this Church works. Please, if you are interested in women being ordained to the Priesthood, discuss it in a way that empowers women and doesn't make them feel less because they don't hold the Priesthood. That simply is not true. Don't threaten the Church, heaven knows that won't work (pun intended). Don't drag the leaders through the mud. Don't use dumb comments from individuals and personal experiences where one person offended you to belittle this Church I love. Be a woman and rise above that. (The whole world is offending you right now and has been for quite some time). Look at the facts, listen to the Spirit. And if you still believe that women are less because they don't have the Priesthood, study the scriptures. Study the women in the scriptures. Study women in history. Read their words whenever you can find them. Read blogs if you must, but be a wise consumer and give both sides and equal chance and let the Spirit's voice be the loudest in your head and in your heart. 

That ended up being longer than I planned... Sorry for the tangent and I really hope I didn't offend anyone. Those are just my personal thoughts (but they're good ones and your should probably all agree with me right now;)

Last picture of us with our house key (because we don't really have the house yet) 

We love you! We miss you! We can't wait to have an actual guest bedroom so you can come visit us and have a bed to sleep in! We can't wait to see family in July! (First stop, Tennessee the first week of July. Second stop, Utah July 23rd-27th) Then baby comes September 22nd and y'all all get to come visit us ;)

Monday, March 3, 2014


If you haven't heard, we are having a baby. Well I am... I still haven't decided the best way to word it. I guess we will both "have" the baby, I'll just be the only one doing the birthing part. "We're pregnant!" doesn't work really well... Either way the big day is September 22nd! Our little one will arrive just days before my 26th birthday and I get kicked off my parent's health insurance. Thank you President Obama.


We found out pretty early we were pregnant. No waiting for missed period here. Some of us aren't patient enough for that. We were surprised, shocked, excited, etc., etc., pretty much every emotion you can imagine. I got an appointment with the doctor the next day and she confirmed. From then on it was slight nausea, fatigue, aches, etc. However, I couldn't have asked for a better husband during this time. Garrett has been so helpful with meals and cleaning while I kind of just sit around... When I throw up, he shouts encouraging words such as, "The night is darkest just before the dawn" and "At least we know you're still pregnant!" Which, I'm not being sarcastic, that actually is comforting to think about when you're hunched over the porcelain throne and need to leave in 15 minutes for work. I tried lots of different foods, hoping for something to keep my tummy happy. I developed into a social eater, only able to consume full meals around those unaware of my pregnancy in an effort to avoid suspicion...  And last week I discovered the wonderful food that is grapefruit!
I bought some plump, juicy grapefruit at the store and it was an instant balm for my upset stomach. It left me wondering what other grapefruit type foods are there? How much grapefruit is TOO much grapefruit? And is there an easier way to eat this food? I also eat a lot of ginger chews which has Garrett wondering if our child will magically come out as a red head... JK, that's just me teasing him. I also get more emotional than normal at really random times... I cry on cue when this song comes on:

But, some wonderful news! After an especially rough nausea day yesterday, today I feel 100%! I'm coming on the end of my first trimester, and today I ate 3 very normal meals free from nausea! I felt GREAT! We get to go see the doctor again next week. I found out today my uterus is the size of grapefruit (coincidence?) and it is causing a tiny bump to show.... to the point that on Friday one of my students asked me if I was pregnant... :/ I asked her why she said that and she looked at my tummy and said, "Well... you kind of look pregnant..." I followed her gaze and to my surprise, AH! There was a bump sticking out of my school spirit shirt! How did that get there... Eating too many grapefruits or something like that. I brushed her question off and pretended to go help another student.


Work is going well for both of us. Since I officially will not be teaching next year, I feel a huge weight off my shoulders as the other teachers stress and pull hair over the big tests coming in one month. Did I mention testing is a big deal in Texas? They don't mess around and my school is essentially in panic mode and all I can think of is 2 more weeks until spring break... 3 more months till summer...

Garrett is working through bugs and problems and work and is enjoying his job more and more. They are keeping him more and more busy, but rewarding him for his efforts. We do like this company a lot and are looking forward to at least a few more years with them. It is nice when your hard work and effort gets noticed by your boss and appreciated.


Yep, we are on the house hunt! Garrett looks at HAR.com and Zillow religiously and last weekend we went on a couple "dates" Friday night and Saturday looking at neighborhoods, going to open houses, and walking through model homes. We have an awesome realtor and are excited to look at a couple homes this week! Our goal is to have decided on a house by the end of this month so all the lovely paperwork and moving and closing and stuff can be done by the end of May when our current lease is up. We shall keep you updated.


We are looking forward to having Garrett's parents and grandparents coming to visit us during my spring break! We love having family come down! We're going to experience this crazy event called the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (which apparently is a big deal down here)
and show them San Antonio. Everyone should probably come visit us, especially after we have a home down here, then you'll have a place to stay!

They do the rodeo in the reliant stadium where the Texans play. It goes on for 3 weeks and almost every night they have a live concert with people like Brad Paisley, Maroon 5, Zac Brown Band, etc.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Life of Late

It has been a few months since I posted, but that just means you get to hear very quickly about some really fun things!


Was wonderful! We loved it! From running in between families, spending time with new babies, seeing Katie and Tom's cute new home, Tay and Mandy's really big dog, and eating lot of delicious food ("I haven't eaten a dinner this good in 6 months!" - Garrett while we were at Grammy's and Grandpa's... Don't worry, I still feed him) it was just a wonderful holiday!

Ryker just wishes he could be as cool as his Grandpa :)

Dog pile! Lincoln was really into it. He pretty much gets really excited about everything, it's hard to get him to calm down...

 The first thing we did was celebrate Garrett's 26th birthday!!! He is officially an adult, according to President Obama, and so it was a pretty big deal. We had a mini surprise party and a larger family celebration that night. We had a wonderful Sunday evening dinner with the Lake side of the family complete with a talent show where we preformed the Book of Mormon according to Dr. Suess, the Nativity, and a family gift giving tradition. We had Christmas Eve dinner with the MacKay's complete with a fun book exchange bingo game, crazy photobooth pictures complete with props, and another delicious dinner. We spent Christmas day with the Welsh family watching the little kiddos open up presents from Santa and play on their new play set (there was more delicious food there as well of course).  The rest of our break was spent hopping around and loving every minute of it!


We were smart and did not plan ahead for New Years. New Years Eve was our first day back and unfortunately everyone had already made plans, so while Garrett was at work I blew up 6 balloons, one for each hour, filled with fun things for us to do (and some serious things, too.) After dinner we started popping balloons and had a lot of fun just us two. It was a nice first New Years celebration for our little family.


It wasn't super easy going back to school, but I survived. Most of the kids were really glad to be back. I started a competition between my classes which has helped behavior and work ethic a little in my classes. I've changed a few things around as well and it really is helping. The principal came and evaluated me for my official evaluation and it was a lot better than my last one... Oh! And we had a snow day! Everyone's making fun of the South, but those roads were apparently quite dangerous... freezing rain is something I would want to mess with, so both Garrett and I worked from home that day. (Odds are good we may have another snow day tomorrow! Crazy town...)


Garrett went back to work right away. He's been very busy in this new year. He had his evaluation with his boss as well and it was all pats-on-the-back and we-loves-you and please-don't-leave-us and we-will-pay-for-grad-school and no-you-probably-can't-transfer-to-the-Boise-office but here's-a-raise-we-usually-don't-do-this-in-just-6-months. :) I am very proud of my hard working man and we are very blessed! Here's to the near future complete with late night online classes and surviving life in Houston for a few more years!!!


Aubrey totally surprised me for Martin Luther King weekend! I was so shocked! Garrett did such a great job at keeping the secret! She showed up in my bedroom at around 11 pm Thursday night! I was mostly frightened at first to be honest, and then I was really surprised and excited. Friday night we went to the horse races, Saturday we went to NASA and Galveston, and Sunday we went to church and watched some football and Sherlock. Monday we went on a little shopping trip and got really lost... but we survived! I was sad to see her go, but it was so so fun to have her here in this crazy city with me!
Galveston, O' Galveston!
Inside that building was a very big gas rocket...
I may or may not have lost $2 at the horse races... Aubs may or may not have lost a little more than that....


Since we will not be leaving Houston in the near future to relocate closer to family my new plan of action is to relocate my family here.... Any help from any of y'all in recommending the Houston life to my family and friends would be greatly appreciated. I have officially sworn off hating on Houston. More positive blog posts with absolutely no ulterior motives to come...

Here are some websites to aid in our efforts of persuasion...




Stay tuned for hopefully some more exciting blog posts in the future... 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Two more days then three more weeks!

^ The ever changing song sung by the teachers in my department... but who's counting, really? AHH I'M SO EXCITED TO SEE MY FAMILY!!!


We've both gotten really into reading lately. Garrett is reading a series on his kindle called Psion, I'm reading a book my dad bought me called The Death and Life of the Great American School System. We just started reading the series Divergent together. Garrett is really enjoying his series. The book I'm reading sounds really depressing, but it actually makes me feel really vindicated, ha. AND at least she called it the death and LIFE instead of the other way around. That would have been depressing... I'm going to give you a quick synopsis of the book so far. If you're not interested, skip the next paragraph.

The book is by a woman name Diane Ravitch who has had a VERY influential role in school reform at the federal and state level. She grew up in Houston and went through the Houston school system. She worked for the department of education under President George H. W. Bush, President George W. Bush, and has written MANY MANY books on education reform, history of education, etc. She got very caught up in the school choice and school accountability movement that happened with President Bush (#2) and No Child Left Behind (NCLB, you'll hear teachers lovingly refer to this as "NickleBee." If you want to sound cool, and someone brings up No Child Left Behind, you can respond, "O yeah, NickleBee... blah blah blah.") She talks about how supportive she and so many were of accountability (which really means high stakes testing) and choice (allowing students/parents to use vouchers to go to different schools if they would like). It makes sense on the surface, it seems like it should work, but the last 5 years Diane has completely changed her mind. The reason? The evidence shows choice and accountability is NOT working and in the book she explains what she has discovered about WHY it's not working through the mountains of research she has done. The problems she sights are things I have seen in the schools I've worked at. I've only taught for 2 and a half years now, but I have taught at 3 different schools, in three very different school districts, to three very different populations (even the two schools in Utah Valley I taught at were VERY different), in two very different states, under 3 very different principals, and I've taught three different subjects. The threat or fear of a test does NOT make me a better a teacher. It makes me prepare students for a test (go figure...). Good professional development makes me a better teacher (However, you have to give teachers TIME to go to professional development or else they just feel overwhelmed like it is a burden. And please don't pile it all on at the beginning of the year. Man I hate that.). It gets me excited again about teaching, it provides me with valuable skills and resources. Time to implement these ideas and resources also helps :) This is what all the studies show. However, teacher training is expensive. Tests are expensive but you can write ONE test for an ENTIRE state and then have the teachers administer it and VOILA! Automatic school reform and everyone wins. Wait a second... no... that doesn't make sense...

This leads to my next thought. It's a quote from her book, "Opportunity leaves much to individuals." I LOVE this quote. It will not be an easy fix. Supporting teachers is not easy. It is expensive. You have to do it on an individual level. A test, you can make one. You give it to everyone. It is expensive one time, and then you are done.


I'm so excited for Thanksgiving! My parents are coming to visit us, it's going to be so much fun! Also I get a five day weekend which is super awesome. Then when I come back to school I only have three weeks left! After those three weeks then it's time to go back to UTAH and get some serious family time in. I can't wait to see the new little Brinkerhoff babe! Man that little girl Ivy looks like a doll in the pictures on the screen on my phone... (lame - I need real life holding and squeezing and kissing) and then I get to see my three new little nephews again! Baby Ty, Grayson, and Emmett. And of course all those other little cuties - Nora, Emery, Ryker, and Lincoln. The rest of you are pretty cute, too and I can't wait to give you big hugs and kisses. However, I'm not quite sure how I'll survive the cold... the low was 39 today and I just about died... I'm such a pansy! It is nice to finally break out the winter clothes here, though. Of course I haven't gotten out my winter coat yet, just some scarves and sweaters.


We went and saw the Jerusalem IMAX yesterday and it was AWESOME! I loved the beginning when

they entered the city through Damascus gate. It made me feel like I was back there again... I love that city. I love those people. It is seriously such a special place. The experiences I had there, both personal and with the group are so sacred to me. The movie was beautifully done and helped me remember some of those special experiences I had. I think it might be time for me to go back and read my journal. One of the most profound things I learned when I was there was the love God has for me as well as how much faith He has in me and my potential. I glimpsed the power of truly turning our lives over to God and allowing him to mold us into something beyond our wildest dreams. I came to that realization through a combination study of the creation of the world and the condescension of Christ.
"Knowest thou the condescension of God?" If not, study it. Study the universe, the billions of stars, marvel at our beautiful earth, realize how small and insignificant you are, be humbled by the amazing beauty around you AND THEN study atonement and the life of Christ and His mission and realize how priceless you are to Him, how much He loves you, and study WHY. I use to just stop at the "know God loves you" part. If you don't understand the WHY, then it is too easy to forget His love for you. The WHY is the most important. With the WHY you understand the amazing things God has in store for you. We are "less than the dust of the earth" it is true, but God has done some pretty amazing things with dust. But only if the dust lets Him.

Parting thoughts about Thanksgiving... (A short history lesson about the historical incorrectness of this famous painting) 

(Sarcasm) Look at those kindly Pilgrims giving a Thanksgiving feast to the poor desolate Native Americans. It is so kind of them to give of their incredible abundance. 

True story: Pilgrims were supposed to land in Virginia. They got blown of course. They ended up landing at Plymouth rock at the beginning of winter with very little supplies. They came across what they thought was an abandoned village. They thanked God for this incredible blessing of shelter and baskets of food, just theirs for the taking! What had really happened was a while before this village (the home of our beloved Squanto who was kidnapped by Europeans, sold into slavery, and used as a conversation piece by a wealthy English lord for several years) anyways, this village had been attacked by a deadly disease called Smallpox, brought over by European explorers. It completely wiped out the village. As far as we know everyone died and they died very quickly. Everyone that is except Squanto (because he was kidnapped by Europeans, sold into slavery, etc.) When the Pilgrims came over they were seeing the remains of a once thriving city. They used the supplies they found (sometimes you'll hear people refer to them as "grave-robbers") and tried to set up a colony, but were not very successful. For the most part they were city-folk. They didn't know how to farm and plant. They were poor planners and frankly in over their heads. In the meantime Squanto escaped from slavery and somehow got himself on board a ship and arrived home. You can imagine how excited he was to see his friends and family after so many years! It is difficult to imagine his shock and sadness when he came across a completely abandoned village and Europeans (who he probably LOVED by this point in his story) taking over his home town and ransacking the homes of the ones he loved. However, he made a choice at this point in his story. A monumental choice in his story and in the story of our country. We don't know why he chose to react the way he did, but he did. Squanto went up to the Pilgrims and in perfect English, offered his assistance. You can imagine how shocked they were. The Pilgrims had very little luck in working with Native Americans in the area. Massasoit and his people weren't exactly friendly and communication was quite difficult... Squanto taught them how to farm the land, fish, and hunt. He taught them how to build decent houses AND he helped create a bond between them and the Native American tribe nearby. The first Thanksgiving was one of Native Americans giving of THEIR abundance (including their knowledge, kindness, and skills) to these poor, ill-prepared, destitute, but well-meaning Pilgrims. In these humble and less-than-desirebale circumstances, all gave thanks and made a choice to make the most of their individual situations. 

It is also interesting to note that Thanksgiving was first made a national holiday during the Civil War by President Abraham Lincoln. During the darkest period in our nation's history, President Lincoln made gratitude an act of national importance. 

I honestly think the true stories of Thanksgiving are far more valuable and worth telling than the myths. The legends and myths are fun, but let's remember really why we have this wonderful holiday. It is a little humbling. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Our adventures of late (expository text features style): Emu attacks, murder accusations, and bike rides.

It's been a fun, busy couple of weeks for the MacKays in Houston. In honor of our current unit on expository texts in school, I will be using headings, subheadings, bolded words, pictures, captions, and a glossary at the end of this post.


We have had a busy and fun last few weeks. We spent a night and day in San Antonio, went a couple of fun Halloween parties, and.... drum roll... we bought Garrett a bike!

Emu Attacks

We found a great deal online for a hotel on the River Walk. It was beautiful! We watched the BYU game Friday night and ate breakfast on the River Walk Saturday morning. Then we toured the Alamo only to find that Comic Con and the Founder's Day festival were both going on. It was a little crowded but a lot of fun. It was my second time visiting the Alamo, makes me feel like I'm going back to my Tennessee root :) For those who don't know, the Alamo is the reason why Tennessee is called the Volunteer state.

I know what you're thinking, how did an emu attack them while they were visiting the Alamo? It didn't.

There is a zebra outside your window...
After getting our fill of history we drove a little out of the city to go to a "drive through zoo." It was called the Natural Wildlife Bridge Reserve. I was super pumped about this, I could tell Garrett was a little hesitant, but he came willingly. This was one of the best decisions of our lives, right behind the decision to get married. You drive through this zoo and get to feed the animals! Right our of your hand! (well technically you're not supposed to, but who really listens to that rule?) It was the closest thing you can get to a safari. All was going well and we were almost to the end. We had just passed through the Kenyan Reserve and seen the Zebras when we came to the emus! I had been warned that they were mean and so we were cautious from the beginning, to no avail... Garrett politely gave the emu some nasty animal pellet food only to have the greedy bird stick his head in our car and snatch the entire bag from Garrett's lap! (please see photo sequence below)

Emu attack!

It was hilarious.

Our overall impression of the drive through zoo: Why isn't every zoo in the world like this? Also the animals were really fat. And the long horns were scary.

Murder Accusations

Halloween was pretty fun this year. It definitely has a very different feel being married. There are "stages" of Halloween in your life that mirror stages in your life. But you could write a whole blog post about this and I'm not going to.

We used these same costumes Thursday and Friday night...
We were invited to two parties. The first was a costume party. It was fun! We played a version of mafia called "werewolves." It was fun, slightly confusing, and by the end of it everyone was a little concerned if the rule about "the-little-boy-who-is-allowed-to-peek-and-can-pretend-to-be-a-werewolf" was actually fair... But we were all good sports.

The next day, Friday, we went to our first Murder Mystery Dinner! I was little nervous, not quite sure what to expect. We were supposed to dress up like we were from the 1920s - I feel like we did a pretty good job with our costumes! Murder accusations flew as we ate a delicious dinner (our contribution was deviled eggs - Garrett was a little hesitant because I put relish in them, but they were most delicious). In the end we were disappointed to find that neither of us was the murderer, but it was fun night!

Bike Rides

Garret's new bike and gear!
The Saturday after Halloween decided the time had come to buy Garrett a bike! Fate was on our side - we found an AWESOME deal at REI (we almost didn't even check REI!). Everything we bought was marked down. The sales guy working with us kept being shocked at our awesome ability to find deals. I pride myself on that skill.

We immediately took it out that day and went on a ride. It was spectacular weather! Most excellent. We rushed home from work Tuesday for another short ride (curse you daylight savings for cutting into our bike time!) And we went on another beautiful ride yesterday. Our goal is twice a week, but I'm a little nervous about the sun setting earlier and earlier... We love our bikes and they serve as great decoration in our bedroom... super romantic.


Well we both still have jobs which is a good sign. Both working hard and rarely hardly working. We are staying busy with new responsibilities. There are good days and bad days. I have a class that is really a struggle for me this year. One of those gems of class that makes me not want to come aback to teaching... If I am not 110% on my game, then it is a terrible battle of wills with a handful of... dear, sweet students. I've lost my temper more times than I care to admit, but Friday was a good day so hopefully things are steadily improving.

My Children

A few of my students were asking me if I had any kids:

"Do you have kids?" - Student A
"No." - Me
"Dog?" - Student B
"Any cats?" - Student C
"No." - Me
"Do you have kids?" - Student D
(Pause, pretty sure I already answered this question...) "...No." - Me
"Yes you do!" - Student E
"... No, no I don't." - Me
"We are your kids!" - Student E
(Smile) "Yes, that is true." - Me

Accidentally Quoting Princess Bride

My co-teacher reads a book to the students for about 10 mins a day. She came to a part where it mentioned cyanide.

"Does anyone know what cyanide is? It is a type of poison." - Co-teacher
(Student's hand shoots up) "I think I've heard of it. Is it that stuff, it's odorless, tasteless, dissolves in water..." -Student A
"Dissolves instantly in liquid and is among the more deadly poisons known to man?" - Me
(Student A's eyes light up in recognition) "Yeah! Yeah that stuff!" - Student A
"Yeah it's called iocane powder. It's in the movie Princess Bride and I'm not even sure if it's real." - Me
"... Oh." - Student A

Spelling Woes

After asking me how to spell multiple words, the student came to this word:

"Miss, how do you spell play?" - Student A
(without thinking) "P-L-A-Y." - Me
"Ha miss I'm just messin with ya, I know how to spell play! What do you think I am, stupid?" - Student A confidently turns back to his paper only to write PALY. I busted out laughing. Probably shouldn't have. He realized his mistake pretty quickly though and laughed with me.

At Least She was Honest

While taking a quiz I noticed a girl stealthily slide a paper back into her desk. I barely caught her and quietly went over to her:

"(Student name) tell me honestly, were you cheating?" - Me
Garrett and I on the River Walk in San Antonio
"... Yeah miss." - Student
(I'll admit I was very surprised at her answer, I shouldn't have been, but I was. I miss judged this particular student. She quietly handed me her test without making a scene - also unexpected - and sat quietly while everyone else finished - another shock for this student.)


This is our new song at work:


We may be cutting off too much time, but the way we figure it, two FULL weeks until Thanksgiving break and then two weeks and one week of testing before Christmas (really three weeks, but the last week is no lesson prep and the students are really quiet...)

Garrett and I are thinking of fun traditions to start and looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with my parents and Christmas will all of our family! We sure miss our family - I don't think I say that enough, ha.

Oh, yeah - there were also donkeys in the zoo. 

Alamo - Remember it.

Co-teacher - A teacher who comes in for half of one of my classes every day to help me teach and specifically work with special education students in my class.

Dear, sweet students - I was being sarcastic. As of right now they are neither dear, nor sweet.

Drive through Zoo - If you ever get the chance to go through one, do it. Don't hesitate.

Expository Texts - Nonfiction texts, their purpose is to inform.

Murder Mystery Dinner - Everyone invited dresses up and acts like a certain character. Each round they are given information they are supposed to "reveal" and information they are supposed to "conceal." You cannot lie. With the info revealed, you are supposed to make accusations as to who is the murderer.

Testing - The thing that Texas loves to do.