Monday, March 31, 2008

Zero Day in Austin

First of all, these gorgeous flower photographs have absolutely nothing to do with what we did here today in Austin, but I just had to show you these wonderful spring colors ~ can't you just about smell the fragrance?
We had a few errands to run today, and other than that, we really didn't make any big deal plans. Mr. Jones and I had laundry to do and since we've been doing a lot of activities, we found we are rather exhausted and needed a day to rest up before traveling on to Houston tomorrow.
There is a paper store here in Austin that I purchase all of the colored card stock I use to mount my photographs and make cards out of ~ it's a really nice store called The Paper Place. I have looked on line and all over Michigan to find a store that sells the variety of paper they do ~ and the key thing for me is that all of their card stock have matching envelopes ~ but haven't found any other store! So twice a year, I budget a certain amount and stock up for six months worth of card making! Since Sabrina now lives outside of Austin, it's a little bit of a drive to go into town but since we were doing that we did a Target run and an indoor playground for the little kids, along with some lunch.
After nap time here at home, we just played around the house and Sabrina cooked up a really delicious meal of chicken parmesan with home-made rolls and salad ... yummy!
Tomorrow, all of us are meeting Nick and Rachel and children at the Oil Ranch outside of Houston. There are lots of children's activities to do there (including a train!), so we plan to spend 4-5 hours there before going on into Houston to see where Nick and Rachel have moved. Mr. Jones and I are actually going to be staying with Aunt Peg who lives 2-3 miles from Nick and Rachel's new location. So it's time again to say good-by to our little ones here in Austin. I don't think good-by's are very fun at all and I'm not very good at doing it. So my heart is heavy again tonight, but thankful for the good time we had with everyone here. Looking at these flowers cheers me up a little bit ... these pictures were taken at Sea World on Saturday ... we have made a lot of nice memories over the past five days!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

All day long we praised Him!

"Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.
Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
Tell everyone about his miracles.
Exult in his holy name;
O worshipers of the LORD, rejoice!"
PSALM 105:1-4

We started our day with worship over at Hill Country Bible Church (Southwest) and pretty much kept a spirit of worship with us all throughout the day ... there was so much to praise and thank the Lord for!
Sabrina was substitute teaching in the 2's and 3's during first service this morning, so Mr. Jones and I joined her to give her some helping hands. The theme of the morning was that God loves everyone and is preparing a place for those who love Him ... so the children were decorating a doll house with pretty stickers, like if you were decorating for a party, and we talked all about God's love for little children and for the world. After class was over, we went into the worship service. We praised the Lord in song and we listened as Pastor Phil talked about suffering and prayer through the story of Hannah.
Isn't this such a cute picture? This is Olivia and Isabelle! Well, it's at least their feet! They are best friends and even wear the same size shoe!
It was Isabelle's 12th birthday today so we all wished her the best! Olivia and Isabelle have been friends for a very long time, and now that Olivia lives in Dripping Springs, she and Isabelle attend the same middle school. We ate out for lunch after church this morning. Andrew treated us to Red Lobster (my absolute favorite restaurant!). He had earned some reward points through one of his credit cards and graciously shared it with us! I neglected to bring my camera into the restaurant and missed a golden photo opportunity. On our way out of the restaurant, we were looking at the lobsters in the tank and one of the young workers lifted one out for us to touch (gross) ~ but actually, it was kind of neat to touch one of these critters! I didn't realize that their back tails were soft like a feather, did you?
I took some nice pictures of the Rauch homestead for you to see ... what a great-looking house!
This is the outside front porch ... there is an upstairs porch as well ~ how fun! This is part of the dining room ...
Here is Grandpa Jones playing with Jackson and Karis this afternoon in the main room of the house ... And Andrew and Olivia working on geography/history homework ... something about India and Pakistan and all of the conflict in that area of the world.
They have a really pretty house with lots of space. They realize it is a gift from God and are very hospitable folk ~ we have so enjoyed staying here with them!
This is the beautiful picture Sabrina purchased for Andrew for Christmas. The Scripture passage is from Psalm 113:3: "From the rising of the sun to its going down ... the Lord's name is to be praised."
This is their upstairs playroom, and right off from it is a door that leads to a wonderful outside porch that goes all across the front of the house ~ another fun place to play!

After our naps (we all took one!), we drove down the hillside to the playground where the little ones played and played ...

It's a very nice area for children with just the right amount of playground equipment to keep everyone active, yet safe ...
Some cute pictures of Jackson and Karis playing together ... Karis is a faithful shadow to her older brother ...
There is lots of room to run and play ... a full-size basketball court, tennis courts, soccer field, etc.
Even a zip line for those very brave and courageous 2-year-olds ~ Karis really loved doing this over and over again ... Grandpa Jones was at the other end catching her ...
There is also a beautiful pool area with Splash pad for little kids, as well as very shallow pools (like 7 inches deep) with fountains and cool stuff ... and beautiful pools for older children as well!
The water was pretty cold, but it didn't stop Olivia from swimming for quite awhile tonight! And Jackson and Karis enjoyed themselves too!
I love these pictures of Olivia ~ isn't she a beautiful girl? She is so athletic ~ she is a great swimmer and has endless energy and grace in the water!
Actually, the whole complex where they live is laid out beautifully with nice amenities for everyone to enjoy ... Livie and I had talked about going on a walk today, but it was 7:15 before we found the time to sneak it in! It was a wonderfully cool evening and we had a great walk together. Not too far from where their house is built is a bunch of undeveloped land. We walked down a dirt road that leads to this retention pond. You should have heard the frogs tonight! This pond is full of them! Olivia was really really wanting to catch one ... but she didn't have a net with her or anything ...
She tried to sneak up on them, but I remember from long-ago frog hunts with my boys (years and years ago) that the frogs are ALWAYS faster than people!
Olivia and I walked and talked for an hour ... until it was dark ~ the dirt road wound around quite a ways and thankfully brought us back into their complex on the other side of their street (so we were not lost!). It was very refreshing to just be out in the great outdoors listening to the beautiful birds, breathing the fresh air, and enjoying the wonders of God's creation ... and being with Olivia made it even more wonderful. She is growing into quite a mature and special young girl and I enjoy spending time with her very much.
Isn't God awesome to have given us SO much ... we certainly can't praise Him half enough!

Congratulations to Mom and Roy!

Yesterday was Mom and Roy's very first wedding anniversary. I was so tired after posting our Sea World day that I neglected to do a special post for them ... they don't have a computer, so they weren't offended ... but I wanted to show you this nice picture of them anyway! This picture was taken the day that Ruthanne and Terry, Shelley and their wee Matthew came to Grand Rabbits (remember Matthew's search for rabbits?) to visit all of us. I did talk to mom on the phone tonight and she said their anniversary celebration was a very happy one and their entire Sunday School class (100+ people) sang them a special song this morning before class! HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, MOM AND ROY ~ may you have many more happy years together!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A great day at Sea World, San Antonio

We hadn't made up our minds if we were actually going to drive to San Antonio to go to Sea World until kind of the last minute this morning ~ but Andrew was on the internet, checked the weather, got tickets arranged, and we headed on out at about 10:00 a.m.! I'm so glad we did, because we had the best time! It was a bit misty, windy and cool today, so it was less crowded and crazy at the park ... very good!
Jackson was pretty excited to see the whales, so our first stop was the show, "Believe," over at Shamu Theatre.
Mr. Jones and I and Sabrina were taking pictures today, and I think we shot about 500 between us ~ we got some really nice pictures!
We deliberately were not sitting in the SPLASH ZONE ... mostly because the air was quite cool and we didn't want the little ones to be chilled ... but folk who were sitting in the lower bleechers really got soaked!
The theme of the show was about following your dreams ... one of the trainers there told the story of how as a little girl she really wanted to become an aquatic animal trainer ~ so this job was a dream come true for her. It was a really nice show that started out thanking and saluting all of our servicemen and their families.
Olivia wanted to ride the STEEL EEL, one of the biggest roller coasters in the park. Andrew enthusiastically accompanied her and tried to talk a few of us into going with him ... no deal! Look at them in the picture below ~ can you see them? Olivia is wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt, and Andrew has on a blue t-shirt. Olivia looks terrified!

And then Sabrina got talked into taking the plunge with Andrew. They are in the last car, first seat (below) ~ I couldn't zoom in quite as well on them.
Then we walked over to Beluga Stadium to see the dolphin show that had a bunch of cool acrobatic stunts in it as well ... Mr. Jones got great pictures of the acrobats, but we had too many pictures to upload to show you those ... I mainly wanted to show you the dolphins and other sea creatures.
Karis really enjoyed herself today! Sabrina packed juice along for the kids, and we snacked on popcorn and giant pretzels and all kinds of other stuff that was there at the park. We had a lot of fun.
We had walked by Shamu's Happy Harbor, with a children's-sized roller coaster, and Jackson BEGGED to go on it. This was going to be Jackson's very first roller coaster ride EVER! See his happy face below? He is wearing a red shirt, has a HUGE smile, and Andrew is in the blue shirt with his hands raised high (so we could see them!).
Then we went to see the Rockin' Ski Party with power boats, ski-do's, barefoot stunts, pyramids and ski jumps ... it was a very fun show to see ~ we were sitting in the SPASH ZONE and all of us got soaked by the ski do's as they came by. I moved to higher ground to protect my camera!
This is how everyone looked right before getting soaked ...
Next, we went over to the Sea Lion Stadium to watch "The Cannery Row Caper" a very funny show with Clyde and Seamore (seals) investigating a mystery of some missing fish ...
This was my favorite show of the day. The seals were incredibly cute and the performance was just funny from start to finish.
It turns out that this little weasel ~ actually this is a river otter according to Suz (my personal editor) and Sabrina agrees ~ was stealing and hiding all of the fish and causing a lot of trouble on Cannery Row ...
Look at this HUGE walrus! Don't we have the best pictures of animals?! I've got to get serious about making an alphabet animal book for the grandchildren! Since Olivia wanted to do one of the water rides, she and Andrew split from the rest of us for awhile. We walked over to see the penguins and puffins playing ...
Karis took a comfortable nap in the stroller while we saw a bunch of different animals ...
We stayed for awhile at Alligator Alley to watch the animals there. We saw a bunch of beautiful turtles (not pictured) and a ton of alligators ... look at his teeth!
Look at this beautiful pelican! Don't you wish you were with us today? ME TOO!
Cutie Karis didn't sleep too long ... she was exhausted from all of the excitement and just needed a few winks ...
We spent quite a bit of time at Dolphin Cove where you can watch the dolphin swim around. We were hoping one would come close enough to us so we could touch it, but we didn't get that lucky today.
We also walked through Clydesdale Hamlet and saw the beautiful horses there ... you know, the ones that are in those commercials for Anheuser-Busch.
I like this picture of Sabrina and Jackson :)
We spent the entire day here at Sea World! What a fun day with so much to see and do!
We just had one last place to see before leaving the park ~ The Coral Reef and the Sharks!
Grandpa Jones took these great pictures of the sharks ... whew ... I would not want to meet one of these guys while swimming, would you?
We finally left the park at about 7:00 and drove back to Austin. What a great day! We plan to go to church tomorrow morning and worship the great God who created every living thing ... and then we're going to just rest, take some walks, go to the neighborhood park and do some quiet activities the rest of the day!