Friday, December 21, 2007

Attempt to make Christmas Cards

Today I attempted to take the kids picture for a Christmas card. I love getting Christmas cards and I love sending them, but this year I waited until the last minute to try and get ours out. Trying to snap a picture of both of my kids smiling proved to be very frustrating and almost impossible. Here are a few of the rejects that I now find funny (although at the time I wanted to scream! ha!) We will see if I can get cards ordered, addressed, and mailed tomorrow, all before going home for the holidays...........Oh, by the way, Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Water Man

I love reading Shelly's posts about the funny things that Kaleigh says and it reminds me that I should be writing down some of the things that my kiddos do also, so that I don't forget. I wish that I had done this more when Tori had just started talking because some of the things she said were hilarious. Now, she has a better grasp on most fundamental things and the things that she gets confused about are a little higher level thinking. For example, today she took a shower with me and as I turned off the water she looked up to the top of the shower and in her most serious, pondering voice she asked, "Mom, how did God make the shower?" I replied that God taught a person how to make it and then that person made it. She was processing my answer and she said, "Oh, Noah?" Well, he is God's Water Man!!
Thanks for indulging me! I'm sure there will be more to come!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

More Pics

1. This picture has no point--I just thought it was hilarious. That little expressive face is what I put up with 24-7. He never fails to entertain. I wish that you could see how crazy his hair looks, because the picture just doesn't do it justice! 2. Happy Halloween! Here is our little chicken and zebra! My kids enjoyed dressing up in their costumes to go to Cubbies at church and then we visited three friends' houses to get candy! We told Tori she had to make chicken noises before they would give her candy, and she only "chickened" out a few times.
3. Tori was old enough this year that she was actually a lot of help decorating the tree. She helped me wrap the lights and get the ornaments out and hang them! I'll have to take a picture of the finished project for you to see! Christmas is so much fun!
****By the way, this is completely off subject, and nobody probably cares, but the NASHVILLE SCRAPPERS (my hometown team) won the 4A State Championship Friday night. This is the 3rd year in a row that we have won!! Robert says to be sure to point out that the last time that we won state before this 3-year winning streak was in 1996 when Robert was the Senior Kicker! I hope that when my kids get involved in school they will have as much school pride as I did growing up. I love those SCRAPPERS!!
Hope you've enjoyed these few pictures of what has been going on with our family lately!

Random Pictures from the Cortez Family

I love this picture because my firstborn child has always been a "scaredy-cat" and I was so surprised that her Papa (Robert's dad) convinced her to ride this mini-roller coaster with him at Magic Springs. I was worried the whole time that she would be scared to death, but when they got off she even wanted to ride it again--which is how I was able to catch this piece of documentation. I could not believe it!

This is a picture of my kiddos hanging out with two of their good friends during a Razorback game!

Finally, a picture from Laura's wedding!

Here's a picture of Tori and me before my friend's wedding. During the rehearsal Tori did great, but started getting a little scared the day of when the church started filling up and she could sense all the excitement. Luckily, my mom saved the day by sitting on the front row and leaning down into the aisle where Tori could see her coaxing her towards her. She had originally practiced coming up on the stage and standing for a minute, but I decided that getting her down the aisle was a huge success in itself! This was a very special day to be able to participate in my good friend's wedding as the matron of honor and then also have Tori be included. We were both very excited!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Jesus in Your Heart

The other day Tori and I were laying in bed reading a book. My stomach growled really loud and she asked, "Was that Jesus?" I thought I was going to die laughing. You see, I have told her that Jesus is in my heart, so it only makes sense that he might be making noises in there.
I have several pictures of different things that our family has been doing lately, so I will try to upload some soon!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Green Eggs and Ham

Victoria likes for me to read her the book, Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. So, the other morning she asked me if we could make green eggs. I thought, "Sure, what a fun memory to have! She was so excited as we stirred the green food coloring in and watched them turn green."

The Pumpkin Patch

On Monday we went to a pumpkin patch with some people from our church. We got to go on a hayride, pick out a pumpkin and play on huge haybales. The kids had a great time!

Playing with Elaina

Victoria and Carson enjoy playing with their new friend, Elaina!

Laura's Pampered Chef Wedding Shower

OK, so I realize it has been weeks since I have blogged. I am very religious in checking everyone else's blogs, but haven't seemed to be able to find the time to upload pictures to my own. Here are a few of what we have been up to lately:

Last Saturday I hosted a Pampered Chef Wedding Shower for my friend, Laura. We have been friends since we were 5 or 6 years old. The Pampered Chef lady had her get up and learn how to use some of the tools. I enjoyed getting to visit with several of our friends from high school and then some of her friends from where she went to college. The other pictures is the girls who grew up together.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Story Time at Church

Yesterday the kids and I went to our first story time at church. It started at 9:30 and I was very proud of myself for successfully getting us all dressed, fed, and there on time. We are not experienced in having to get up early and get going, so it was a good practice for us. I wasn't sure if Carson would sit still during the story and singing or if I would have to chase him around. Luckily, he sat in my lap and never moved. I think that it was really good for him. When I try to read him a book, he pulls at the pages, etc. and it is almost impossible to get through a story. Since he could not reach the book that the teacher was reading, he just sat in my lap and listened. It was only his first time, though. So, when he gets more comfortable with the whole situation, I may have a runner on my hands. Here is a picture of us making our craft.

The Flower Girl

Two of my best friends from growing up are both getting married in the next couple of months and Victoria is going to get to be a flower girl in both weddings. She is very excited and I was also excited that they wanted her to do it. Last week we went up to David Bridal's to try on her dress for one of the weddings. She looked so pretty--not that I'm biast at all!!! She thought she was a princess and danced around the whole time she had it on. She gets shy in front of lots of people sometimes, so I hope that when it's time for her to go down the isle, she doesn't get scared.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Raising Godly Children

Before I had children of my own, I was very confident in my expertise in raising children. I have great parents who I feel did a great job raising me and I have a degree in elementary education. That must qualify me to be an expert in the area of children. I can remember sometimes seeing a mom at the mall or at a restaurant and thinking how she obviously was uneducated, because of a certain way she was reponding to her child. I can recall the phrase, "When I have kids......" coming out of my mouth more times than I care to remember. And then it happened. I had kids of my own. My clear view of the right and wrong way of raising children started to get fuzzy. It is so easy to sit back and look at a someone else's situation and decide objectively what the most educated course of action would be. It is quite another to be tired, frustrated, hungry, hot, "experiencing monthly hormones", or any other distraction and be able to respond in a Godly, wise way in every situation. Dealing with my own children has not been objective. It is extremely subjective. I have often wondered if my intense love for them has sometimes hindered my ability to discipline them with a sound mind. Love makes a person blind. So, I pray that God will allow me to see my children as they truly are. I also pray that he will give me wisdom to teach them the things that will have eternal value. If I fail to teach them how to go to sleep in their own bed, how to eat their vegetables, how to be polite and mannerly in every situation, but succeed in teaching them that God is big enough to create the world, but kind enough to stop and whisper in their ear, then maybe that will be enough.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

While I was visiting with my friends, Robert had the kids. Victoria loves Chuck E. Cheese, so Robert decided to take them to eat pizza and play while I was gone. I think they had a great time. Then Saturday night we cooked at the the Gonzalez's. The kiddos had a blast running through the sprinkler.

Hangin' out with Old Friends and New Friends

This weekend I had the opportunity to spend some time with some old friends. I was lucky to have graduated from high school in a class that had lots of good, quality girls. There was a group of about fifteen girls that went through all the advance classes together. Some have now moved to different states, some still live in Nashville, but a good number have moved to Central Arkansas. We even have a doctor among us, that just started her residency at AR Children's Hospital. So, one friend, who now lives in Conway, decided that it would be fun to try and get us together. Everyone ended up having something to do that weekend except four of us. It was so much fun to catch up and visit! I had never seen Mica's house and she is expecting her first child in two weeks, so we had tons to talk about!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Long White Cars

Have you ever noticed that many elderly people like to drive long white cars that look like police cars? This past weekend we went home to Nashville to visit our families. I was driving the last little leg of the trip which is a normal two-lane highway. I was on a straight-stretch, but way up ahead I could see a car that looked like a police car waiting to pull out of a drive. So, of course, I do what any person instinctively does when you think there's a cop. I slowed down to the speed limit and became very cautious of following every road rule. When I finally past the car, it was an elderly couple waiting to pull out--not sure what they were waiting on, but they were waiting. I laughed at myself for being so cautious of this nice, harmless, elderly man, and then it occurred to me maybe that's why elderly people choose to drive long white cars. When people see those cars, they slow down and drive safely. I know that with my own grandparents, the older they get, the scarier it is for them to get out and fight traffic. I wonder if when a person goes to renew their license at 65, it is recommended to them. I don't know. My papa loves his big black Chevy truck, but maybe I'll suggest a big Cadillac or Lincoln. Just food for thought.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I am so proud of Carson's new diaper bag that I thought it was blog worthy. I kept seeing lots of people at my church with cute diaper bags and I kept asking myself, "Where is everybody getting those cute bags?" Well, during a visit to Nitzia's house, I discovered that she was the famous seamstress. I was so excited to have discovered the origin of those bags, I'm sure she must have thought that I had lost my mind. I'm pretty sure that I jumped up and down. Anyway, I enthusiastically put in my order and waited patiently. Within a week, she had this adorable bag ready for Carson!! It turned out so cute! Thanks a bunch, Nitzia!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

GSFBC Members!

As of Sunday, the Cortez Family is officially members of Geyer Springs First Baptist Church in Little Rock, AR!! The church is a lot bigger than our past church homes, but I feel that if we get plugged in, we can have a positive experience and be used. It's easy to think in such a big church that my small gifts and talents might not be able to be used, but there seems to be room for everyone. I look forward to what God has in store for us with these great people!

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Gonzalez Family

These are our new friends, the Gonzalez family. It has been so much fun getting to know them. We met them at Geyer Springs and we were instant friends. I am so glad that God blessed us with them. Alfonso and Robert have so much in common! It's actually unbelievable how much they have in common. Both of their families are from Mexico, but they both grew up in California and then moved to Arkansas when they were teenagers. Both Robert's and Alfonso's families moved to Arkansas from California to create a safer environment for them to be raised in and both of them came to Arkansas to visit and then never went back. Robert came to Arkansas to visit his aunt and uncle and his parents decided to stay. Robert never went back. His dad went back and brought their stuff, but Robert never got to go back and tell his friends goodbye. Can you imagine being in the 9th grade and getting moved from the life you had always known AND not even getting to tell any of your friends and family goodbye? Also add in there the huge culture shock of growing up in California and then coming to Arkansas. One might think that would be a unique story, but Alfonso's story was almost identical. I think if they had been girls, they would have hugged each other and cried, because it was so obvious that they felt completely understood by the other person. But, being men, they just laughed and shook hands! Their lives are so parallel. They both married an American girl from their Arkansas hometowns. The similarities just go on and on. Plus, Shonda and I have so much in common and love hanging out as much as the guys. They already feel more like family than friends!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Saturdays with Dad

I love Saturdays when we are at home, without a big agenda for the day. Something about Daddy being here with us makes everything more exciting. Tori, Carson, and I hang out at our house everyday of the week, but when Daddy's here the dynamics are just different. During the week, Tori knows that she can choose from toast, cereal, egg, or oatmeal for breakfast. At some point along the way, Robert started this tradition with her that on Saturdays he makes her pancakes! It is such a fun tradition and she loves it! Today we have plans to clean the house, hang some pictures, and maybe even paint the master bathroom! I'll send pictures if we get the bathroom painted.
Last weekend we went home to Nashville to visit our families. Robert's niece had a birthday party on Friday night and then we hung out with my family on Saturday. Going home to Nashville is something that is very special to me. I have really strong roots to my hometown and when I haven't been there in a while, I start feeling like I'm starting to come unraveled. Part of that is the simple fact, that Robert's family and my family both live there. Tori loves her cousins and misses them when we don't see them for awhile. Robert and I are both close to our families and I want Tori and Carson to feel that strong bond with their families, too, so spending time with them is very important to us. On Saturday my sister-in-law took some pictures of the Talley grandkids and took some of Carson by himself. His room has a sports theme, so I wanted a picture of him dressed up in a baseball outfit that I could frame for his room. We went out on the baseball field and took his picture. I think she did a great job!

I hear Robert starting the pancakes, so I probably should go help!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Familia en Round Rock

Robert told me last week that his mom and dad were going out to Texas this weekend to visit some of his mom's family. It had been at least three years since we went out there, so we decided that we wanted to go, too. Robert took off on Friday and we packed up the car for the eight to nine hour trip with our two small kiddos. The kids both fell asleep before we even got on the interstate and slept for over an hour, so so far, all is well. When they woke up, Carson was starting to get antsy, so I got the DVD player out that we bought for his birthday, because he is such a bad rider that we couldn't even make it to Nashville without him screaming half the way. So, I get the player all ready, but something is missing. I can't find the connector that plugs it into the cigarette lighter. Yes, we are two hours into a nine hour trip and we have NO DVD PLAYER!!! I felt panic creeping in, but tried to stay calm, and act like it was no big deal, because it was me that had packed the DVD player. I remember Robert specifically double checking and I assured him that I had packed it. Well, long story short we read a lot of books and doodled and only had to pull over a few times. They were both really good sports. We finally got to Round Rock, Texas, and enjoyed visiting with Robert's extended family. His mom, dad, aunt, and uncle that all live in Nashville drove out as well and met us there. Robert has three uncles and one aunt that all live in Round Rock with their families, within a mile or two from each other. So, when the family gets together for a fiesta, it is a big party! Plus there was one more aunt and Robert's grandmother, who both still live in Central Mexico, visiting, so that made it even more special. I love to be around his grandmother. She is a tiny little lady who raised ten kids and in her 70's, she is still a spunky lady. I'm so amazed by her. Anyway, we had a fun weekend hanging out with everyone. Here are some pics.

Arkansas Travelors Game

Last Wednesday night we went to an Arkansas Travelors game at Dickey-Stephens Park. Tori loves baseball, so I was excited to be taking her to a game. I was even more excited that a friend from church was able to get us free tickets! We sat on the back grassy slope with a bunch of people from church for the first part of the game, but there was a lot of commotion and we were so far away from the action that Tori wasn't really enjoying the game. So, we moved behind the batter's box and sat in the stadium sits for awhile. Robert and Tori were able to really get into the game and we were cheering and screaming. A good time was had by all, but Carson got tired before the rest of us, so we decided to come home before the game was over. In a year or two, I know he will be able to hold out and probably be more excited than Tori to watch the game!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Playdate Fun!

Today the kids and I went to a playdate at Nitzia's house. Almost once a week all the stay-at-home moms from our Sunday School class at GSFBC are invited over to somebody's house to play and eat lunch. I am so excited to be a part of this group. And the best thing about it is that I really do feel part of the group. After only visiting the church for less than two months, everyone has been so nice and personable. We have met so many nice couples our age who have taken the time to get to know us. I feel like I've known them forever! And going to the playdates are fun, because it gives the kids and me something fun to do out of the house. When I came home, I was tired, but at the same time very entergized from just being able to visit with other moms who have kids at the same stages as mine are. Plus I have a really sweet friend, AKA Amber, who picks me up and takes me with her. Thanks a bunch, Amber! The more I hang out with Amber, the more I am learning to be more laid back and not let the little details of having two kids freak me out. She is teaching me that the existance of chaos in my life (concerning trying to do anything with two children under the age of four) is not the end of the world. If I chill out and enjoy the ride, it's actually kind of fun! Here are some pictures from our playdate.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Weekend Guests

This past weekend we had a good time visiting with some of our old friends that now live in a different state. We had never seen their little girl and they had never seen Carson. They were so easy to have for the weekend, because they are very laid back and easygoing. I know that Robert really enjoyed visiting with his buddy and I enjoyed visiting with her. It was cool to be able to talk about "momma stuff," because this was the first time we had hung out that we were both mothers. It was fun to now have that in common, too.
Thought the hometown readers might enjoy a few pics of their kiddo. She is so cute and such a good baby!! I don't think that she fussed more than once or twice. I think that Tori drove my friend crazy, because she followed her around all weekend asking her ten million questions and trying to help with the baby!

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Kids' Bathroom

Yesterday Robert decided to paint the kids' bathroom. He worked so hard when we first moved in painting almost every room in the house. The bathrooms and the hallways are all that we had left. The shower curtain that I picked for their bathroom is really colorful and everything is bright primary colors. Robert thought it would be cool to let Tori help him splatter paint the walls all the different bright colors. So, that is what they did. We have friends from out of town coming tonight to spend the weekend, so I was a little nervous when the bathroom was torn apart yesterday, but it is all put back together now. There are still a few finishing touches that I want to do, but the bathroom is usable. When I have time I'm going to stencil BATHTIME IS FUN!! on the wall above the shower and window. I also want to get a blue towel and get Carson monogrammed on it and either a red or bright pink for Tori and hang them on the towel rack. It also needs a curtain over the window, but I haven't gotten a vision for what it should look like. Check out the picture of Tori helping and then the end result! Let me tell you, it will definitely wake you up in the morning!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I heard a sermon recently in which a man was giving his testimony. He said that he was feeling incredible fear about something and then the Holy Spirit spoke to him through a verse that he had memorized. He explained that very often the Holy Spirit will use verses that he has memorized to speak to him. Then he said something that really stuck with me--"The Holy Spirit has never brought a verse to my mind that I didn't memorize." It made me realize that by memorizing scripture, I was actually equipping the Holy Spirit with tools to communicate with me. I haven't memorized scripture since I was a kid, so I really want to try and start doing that again. These are the ones I am working on right now.

1. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalms 147:3

2. Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive.... Instead of worrying, pray. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. Philipians 4:5-7 (This is the peace one, Mom!)

For me, trusting is learning to breathe during the fall. Sometimes when I am learning to trust God more, it feels like a free fall. I am giving up control. Letting go and trusting feels like falling, because I've been trying so desperately to hang on, navigate my circumstances, anticipate the unknown, and find order in the chaos. Trusting is believing with my while life that God will catch me. He promises to keep His promises. He is able. He is strong. His heart toward me is good. He wants even more for me than I can dream. He is bigger than all of us. So, for me, trusting is learning to breath during the fall. Angela Thomas

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Carson is Teething

My only son, who is my pride and joy, is driving me crazy!!! He is getting his two front teeth and the poor little guy is miserable. I've heard the phrase, "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." Well, Carson has adopted that slogan for himself--"If Carson ain't happy, I'm gonna to make darn sure ain't nobody else happy!" :) He can't sleep, doesn't want to eat, etc. He loves to bite, though, because obviously it makes his teeth feel better. His sweet older sister has been his favorite chew toy lately. He will grab her by the shirt and bite down as hard as he can! She is screaming for help, trying to free herself from his deathly grip. Anyway, I try so hard to be patient and understanding when he is being fussy. I've found it helps to think about sometime when he was being really funny or just incredibly cute, which I think he is a lot! For example, one funny story. This morning I was loading the dishwasher and Carson was watching Dora. I hollered to Tori who was busiedly packing her baby in the stroller to go to church (her favorite pretend activity) if she could see him. She said no, so I went to search. I found him sitting in the computer chair, looking at the monitor with his little right hand resting on the mouse. When I walked in the computer room, he just turned his head around and looked at me. I thought I was going to fall out laughing. If your 14 month old is mimicking you at the computer, it may mean that you are spending way to much time emailing and blogging!!

Friday, July 6, 2007

You're Moving Again?

I heard this question from friends and family many times when we told them we were moving to the Little Rock area. At first I was surprised by the comment, I don't feel like a gypsy, but after some reflection, I realized that it does appear that way. When Robert and I got married 6 six years ago we rented a house in Arkadelphia, AR for a year while I finished college. Then after I graduated, we moved to McCaskill, AR, into a house that was owned by my family. We lived there a little over a year and then bought a house in Nashville, AR. We really liked our home, but with me being a stay-at-home mom we had to be penny-pinchers big-time!!! We were always worried about money. Me staying at home was very important, but it just wasn't looking like we could afford to feed the three mouths in our home. Robert had a good job, but it is expensive to live today. We were very discouraged. We looked around us and saw our friends driving new cars, living in nice, new houses, wearing the best clothes, 300 channels on their dish. We were driving used cars, no satellite, buying an older house, etc. These were all sacrifices that I was gladly willing to make to be able to stay home with my kids, but it wasn't enough. We had cut back to the bare minimum and still were struggling from month to month. It came to a point that we realized I was either going to have to go to work or Robert was going to have to apply for a promotion. We quietly decided that Robert would apply for a position that came open in the Malvern USDA office. He knew the people in that office and knew that it would be a good working environment where he could learn a lot. His work environment in Nashville was less than desirable. Long story short-he got the promotion and we moved to Malvern. The increase in pay was almost wiped out by the increase in the housing market. We could barely afford a house equavilent to our house in Nashville. We knew the position would be a stepping stone, so it was OK. We decided to rent until Robert decided for sure if he wanted to stay in that office or take another promotion. He has always thought it would be cool to work in the state office in Little Rock. After a little over a year in Malvern, he applied and got an administrative position in the state office. We would now be able to afford a suitable house and put down some roots. So, in May we moved our family one more time to Bryant, AR. We found a house that is perfect for us and I hope that we are able to stay here for a long time. Even though my married life thus far has appeared to be full of gypsy jumping, that is not my desire at all. They were all necessary moves to get us where we needed to be. So, we've moved five times in six years!! I hope that six years from now, I am still blogging from my cozy little computer room on Dogwood Place Dr. Even though this is actually Tori's 4th house to live in, I hope that this will be where she considers home. Since she is only 3 years old, I think that she will feel like she has always lived here. With Carson only being 1 years old, I'm sure this will be all he remembers as home. I hope that Robert and I are still sitting out on the back deck when we are older, waiting on the grandkids to come over and see us. I have very fond memories of the two homes that I grew up in and I want my children to be able to have the same experience. So, this is the story of the Cortez family's movings. Having a home that I could be proud of was very important to me. I know my husband got tired of hearing me say, "When we have a house......." Now I am so excited to have a place that is ours. Finding the right house was a very stressful situation, and I am so glad that God lead us to the right one.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Fun with Friends

Saturday night we visited with Bryan, Brandi, and Kaylee Wilson at their home in Hot Springs. The boys watched a movie and the girls swam. Brian grilled steaks and we had a great time! I am so glad that God brought them into our life and that we have been able to stay friends even after we moved. Brandi is definitely my kindred spirit!

Neal called early yesterday morning, wanting us to go to Mills Park with them and check out the 4th of July celebration. We loaded up the kids in the strollers and wagon and hiked through the back of the neighborhood over to the park. Then last night we had a quiet dinner here at home before meeting back up with the Nelson's to watch the fireworks at dark. Tori and I decorated a firework cake and sang, "Happy Birthday to America." It was kind of lonely to not be with a bunch of family and friends, but we felt very lucky to be celebrating in our new house.