Friday, November 21, 2008

Rio Grande City, here we come!

I'm so excited to be heading back "home" to Rio Grande City tomorrow! We've been asked the same questions over and over again about this trip, so I'll just address them here ...

1) Where in Texas are you headed?
Basically about as far as you can go without hitting Mexico. When I tell people south Texas, they usually guess Houston (nope, that's about 5-6 hours north of RGC), Austin (nope, about 3-4 hours north), San Antonio (closer, but still 2-3 hours north), or El Paso (way off, but much closer to the border ... they're just really far - maybe 13 hours? - west of RGC). I often describe it as the bottom part of TX that gets chopped off when they show the national weather map! Here's the map from Wikipedia; the little red dot is RGC!

2) Do you have any family there?

Well, yes and no. No, no one there is related to any of us by blood ... but, yes, we have some incredibly close sisters and brothers in Christ there! As you saw in the pictures I posted a few posts ago, I refer to them usually family terms, like "cousin" and "sister."

A picture taken from the front yard of my first house in Texas ... the tree line in the distance is the border between Mexico and Texas, and some of those trees you see are in Mexico.

3) Why Rio Grande City?
During my senior year at UNC, I joined a program called Teach For America. TFA is somewhat like a domestic Peace Corps, focusing on ending educational inequity in this country. (And, off topic a bit, with the kick-off of Teach For All, a new organization launched at the Clinton Global Initiative in fall 2007, they're also supporting entrepreneurs in other countries who are aiming to replicate what TFA and Teach First, a UK program based on TFA that began in 2002.) As a TFA corps member, I committed to teach for two years in a low-income area with a documented achievement gap. TFA teachers are all over the country, from NYC to Phoenix, from Indian reservations in South Dakota and New Mexico to the rural Mississippi Delta, from Chicago to Miami ... and in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where I taught special education at Ringgold Middle School in Rio Grande City. I fell in love with that small town, and while we knew that Lee's job would bring us back to NC (where he was living while I taught in TX), we decided to celebrate our love for RGC by sharing it with all our friends and family and holding our wedding there in June 2005. Much of our love for RGC stems from the wonderful friendship and teaching we found at First Baptist Church of RGC, as well as the rich history of the place (my middle school was on the site of Ft Ringgold, a fort during the Mexican-American War, and many of the buildings on base - used for anything from storage to the elementary school building - were original structures from the military base) and the marvelous intersection of cultures on the border.

A place I liked to sit and read or grade papers. The bank I'm standing on when I took the picture is in Texas, the river is the Rio Grande, and the other side is Mexico.

4) Is there a large concentration of Mexicans there?
While the town is in Texas, about 98% of its citizens are Hispanic, most with ties to Mexico. My school was situated on the Rio Grande River, and one of my students was once caught by Border Patrol skipping school and swimming in the river. Most of my students had been to Mexico more times than they could count but had never been outside of Texas. When you pull up to the drive-through at a fast food restaurant, it is not uncommon to be asked for your order in Spanish instead of English. If anyone is monolingual in town, they're typically Spanish-speaking. When I taught at my middle school, we had about 1500-1600 students at the height of migrant season (in the winter when migrant families return from working in the fields up north); of those students, 3 were Caucasian, 8 were Filipino, and the rest were Hispanic.

Me with a couple of students

5) Are you fluent in Spanish?
I don't know that I was ever fluent, but I could hold my own in conversation when I lived there. I'm sad to say that I've let those skills rust since I moved here, though I've been praying for God to show Lee and I opportunities to rebuild those skills.

There's nothing quite like a small town parade (and we had plenty - almost any occasion calls for a parade!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Poor, persecuted apple

Jocelyn likes to snatch utensils from the drawer occasionally, and we're generally okay with that. It was clearly not okay, though, when she came running around the corner from the kitchen into the family room on Sunday holding five steak knives; it was even less okay when she proceeded to stab the water polo ball with them (thankfully, not hard enough to do any harm). That's when I realized, "Hmm, those knives ought to go in one of the drawers that she can't open." However, I didn't move the butter knives, thinking they couldn't do too much harm.

This is what I found this morning about twenty minutes after I gave Jocelyn her apple. Considering the amount of force it must have taken to stab the apple this deeply ... and then pondering how much bodily harm that could have done if she had stabbed someone instead of something ... I'm thinking that we may want to make butter knives inaccessible as well for now. I really don't want to be posting a picture similar to the one above this spring with the knife sticking out of Robbie instead of an apple.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's a boy ... and other good news!

We had our ultrasound this morning and found out that we'll be welcoming Robert Stone into our lives in April. Yep, it's a boy! We're praising God that all is well with me and Robert, especially:
  • that my iron counts are right where they should be (which is a concern since I was severely anemic throughout my whole pregnancy with Jocelyn).
  • that my blood sugar levels and blood pressure are both right where they should be (which is a concern since being on prednisone during pregnancy can cause high blood pressure and high blood sugar).
  • that Robert's head and facial bones and tissues are all properly developed (which is a concern because the only documented - albeit rare - side effect of prednisone in pregnancy is craniofacial deformities and because my nephew was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate, so we had two strikes against us for that).
  • that I've actually lost a couple pounds since my last check-up a month ago, when they restricted my carb intake since the prednisone was keeping me from metabolizing those good ole carbs. That puts me only slightly above where I should be weight-wise at this point, and the doc isn't concerned about that at all. So, yes, I still have to restrict carbs, but what I've been doing is working so we don't need to change anything else - YAY!
  • that everything else - his heart, his little bones, his size, and so on - is looking perfect!
  • that, as of today, I'm down to 10mg of prednisone for my arthritis, which is exactly where my docs want me, and my joint pain is minimal. When I dropped to 15mg, my joints were not happy, to say the least, so we didn't think I'd be able to get to or stay on 10mg ... so far, so good!

We are so thankful for this little boy! I'll post some of the ultrasound pictures soon, but I was so excited that I wanted to share the news right away!

We're also pleased that we don't need to paint, since the office/nursery is already a dark green color that'll be perfect for a little boy. Almost every large item we got for Jocelyn, like the stroller and car seats, weren't gender-specific, nor was her crib bedding, so we're all set there. Clothes are another story, though, since pretty much everything we had for her screams "GIRL!," either with lots of pink or purple or with embellishments like ruffles or bows. God provided above and beyond our needs for Jocelyn, though, through generous friends and family, so we are trusting that He will meet our needs once again!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Jocelyn's big girl bed

We were blessed to receive several pieces of nice furniture from my grandmother when we visited her a few weeks ago, and among those pieces were a set of twin beds for Jocelyn's room. Since her room is big enough to accommodate her nursery furniture and one twin bed, we decided to go ahead and move one of the beds into her room to a) get it out of the garage and b) get her used to it. She wasn't going to start sleeping in the big bed until sometime in December or January. Well, she had other plans for naptime today...

I was not emotionally ready for this, and I felt like I would have more time to prepare myself for the baby-to-big-girl step of moving from the crib to the bed! Yes, there were tears! (From me, not from her!) She insisted on every stuffed animal joining her in bed before she went to sleep and then told us "buh-bye," which is her way of saying "good night" at naptime and bedtime. She cried for a little while, but no more than she usually cries when we leave the room (about five minutes or so), and she never tried to get out of bed. We were ambivalent about putting a side rail on the bed, mostly because she plays on our bed and is good about understanding the sides of it and getting on and off of it safely; we weren't planning to make the final decision for a few weeks because we didn't think she would be moving quite yet! I guess she made the decision for us!

(As a final note, I do realize that it might not continue to be smooth sailing in the big girl bed from here on, so we're prepared to be flexible. But I never expected it to go this smoothly for the first nap in it!)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Every Halloween our church has a fantastic festival. We used to volunteer at it before we had Jocelyn, and this was the first year that she could really enjoy it! Jocelyn was a bumblebee, I was a crayon (yet again ... I think this makes five years of that costume), and Lee was, well, a daddy (not so original, but he was a great one!).

Here are my two favorite people:

Here are me and my sweet little girl (a little blurry!):

Note that she insisted upon wearing the pink crocs. The girl throws massive fits if I try to dress her in an outfit that has no pink in it!

Shooting some hoops with Daddy's help:

Putting pings on the rhino:

Loving the slide:

Yes, she did climb up and go down all by herself. Lee intended to go with her, but he set her down the first time and before he could climb onto the climbing area, Jocelyn had taken off and a couple kids had passed him. She did just fine on her own! I think some parents were questioning our decision to let her go on her own, but they just don't know our strong-willed, independent little girl! (I have NO idea where she gets it from!)

At the bottom:

Riding the pony (sorry these pics are bad but flash photography spooks the ponies so it wasn't allowed):

This is a bad pic, but I like something about the blurry-ness ...

Crawling through the play area:

Playing in the balls (note the stinger on the back of her costume):

Doing the bean bag toss (or, in Jocelyn style, the bean bag crawl-onto-the-game-and-place-in-the-hole game):

Trying to decide if it's worth trying to throw it or just crawling up to the hole:

Nah, I'll just walk around to the slide and drop it in!

For this game, she was catching butterlies with the nets ... and she actually caught a couple, but she mostly just watched the machine shoot them into the air!

Note the pumpkin in her hand (that Gammie, Shannon's mom, sent her last Halloween). She didn't trust us to hold her candy while she crawled through the tubes.

Time to go (note the stinger again!) ...

And the last shot of the night ... my two favorite people again!

I think one of the funniest things was when Jocelyn realized that all the brown bags at each game were filled with candy. I don't think she even understood what was in the shiny wrapper since she never has candy, but she caught on that it was something worth having. After two games, she determined that she would try to just bypass the game and go straight for the shiny stuff in the bag. Like mother, like daughter, I guess! (I, too, am known for my fondness of shiny things!)