Sunday, April 20, 2014

Bon Voyage, Houston!

I thought I'd add some pics of our families' last few days in Houston. These are very bittersweet to look at. I miss our friends and our church. 
Lydia got to have Bono- the stuffed monkey that her class took turns bringing home.
 I was thankful that Lydia got a turn to have Bono on some of her last days of school.
A show before bed
 I love seeing these sweet sisters lined up.
My last Tuesday Team Meeting
 I really miss my Keller Williams family!
Wednesday Night Small Group Members

Wednesday Night Small Group Members

Wednesday Night Small Group Members

Wednesday Night Small Group Members
 Crying now. I miss all of these people.
Welcome Baby Daniel
 Dave's brother and his brother's wife had a baby in the last few days before we moved. We loved welcoming the baby into the world!
Making a "Welcome to the World" Poster

Baby Daniel Sloan and Saigie

Baby Daniel and LydiaLou

Julia bug, the baby hog

Catching the bus on the last day


Pappasito's after Church. 

CityCentre near our Houston Townhouse
 The building in the middle is actually the hotel we stayed in for our last night in Houston.

Saying Goodbye to friends at school. 
 I was surprisingly teary when picking the girls up that day at school. It is still hard to think about.
Mrs. Vanderhorst and Lydia
 Mrs. Vanderhorst was a little teary too. That didn't help dry my eyes any.

The girls start their new school on Tuesday.
Mrs. Suppatkul and Julia
The Infinity Pool at the Westin in the Houston CityCentre
Dave and the girls swam while I got kolaches for breakfast. We had to make sure to have some before we left. 
Watching Frozen on the way to Dickinson.
 Lydia's concerned look is just because of the movie.

Thanks for the nearly five great years, Houston. We miss all the wonderful people and restaurants we were so blessed to have known. Living in this hotel even makes me miss our townhouse...sometimes.

Blessings, Amber


Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Story of Dickinson...So Far.

2014 started out with great anticipation. God had been whispering to Dave and I that amazing and huge things would be happening for our family this year. We were excited and intrigued, and I even told our small group ladies about what I had been feeling. We started a 2014 gratitude jar with our family. (This is where you add thankful thoughts to scraps of paper throughout the year and slip them in a jar. The scraps aren't to be read again until January 1st of the new year.) And just 17 days in, Dave and I found out what the huge new thing in our lives would be: Dickinson, North Dakota.

January 17th was a Friday afternoon, and Dave was meeting me at my Keller Williams office because he and I needed to take turns watching Saige. He is off on Friday afternoons, and that is when he talks to his life coach/mentor over the phone. I was going to take a break from work, watch the baby while he talked and then he would take her home for us.

After Dave's phone conversation ended with his mentor, he got the first call that he was going to interviewed over the phone for a Conocophillips job in Dickinson, North Dakota. Although I remembered Dave saying to me a few months before, "Hey, there's a cost analyst position in ND should I apply?" He didn't remember applying at all. My answer to him at the time was, "Sure, you never know what God has in store."

So, when Dave came to get Saige and take her home, he cornered me in our office conference room and let me know that he was being considered for this job. We were both surprised and excited at the idea. But we didn't really have time to communicate about everything, so Dave took the baby home, and I worked for a couple more hours.

That evening we had a babysitter coming so Dave and I could go out. We decided to forgo a movie and sit in a parking lot and talk and pray. When I told Dave that I was excited at the idea to go to Dickinson, he was shocked! Our hope, up until then, was to be back in Bartlesville, or to move to Branson because that's where our parents are. But God was stirring in both of us, and we were overjoyed at the opportunity to be moving all the way up North. After talking and praying, we knew then that this job and this move was God's will for our lives, despite the obstacles we might face.

What obstacles, you might ask? Besides the faith aspect, and the not doubting what you believe God is telling you aspect,  I'll have to start with some backstory to share the biggest obstacle we faced:

***

Dave got laid off from Conocophillips in 2009. It was a heartbreaking year for our family, and I can remember every detail of the day he came home and told me all that had happened. I was so overwhelmed, and so afraid that we would have to move away from family. Lydia was just a baby, almost a year old, and Julia wasn't quite 3. I remember that he told me in our laundry room while Lydia was sitting in her car seat, and Julia was at mother's day out. I remember being thankful that Julia wasn't home because my emotional reaction would have definitely scared her.

Dave started looking for another job immediately. He was offered two jobs about three months later. One was for Siemens in Houston, and the other was in OKC for some company....? Dave and I both knew that we needed to be in Houston, but I was in complete and utter denial of it all. I did not want to go, and threw many tantrums to God about the whole thing. Dave went to Houston just one week after he got the Siemens position, and I stayed in Oklahoma with the girls for an extra five weeks to paint and pack and stage our home. (I even fell through the attic in the garage, but landed on our garage refrigerator. But that's another story for another day.) We had started the process of taking out a wall and adding a bar and a pantry too. So, I was overseer of the completion of that project as well.

After we were reunited in August in Houston, I was very depressed. I didn't understand why we had moved to such a huge city, and I felt very alone. I didn't pray or read my Bible much. But God woke me up in the middle of the night to meet with Him twice. I'm so glad he did.

Dave hated his new Siemens job. He was gone from the girls and I for 12-13 hours a day because of Houston traffic. I was afraid to drive in Houston for quite some time, and so since I was stuck at home (and I was unknowingly depressed) my main goal was to stay in bed as much as possible. The highlight of this time was that we found an amazing church to attend: Houston's First Baptist Church.

Around Christmas time, I decided that I need to get out my funk and start trying to function properly again. I still didn't realize I had been depressed, but I did start walking and jogging when Dave got home...just to get out of the house. I mostly listened to Kelly Clarkson music and stomped around as I exercised, but it was a great relief and a time of release for me. I was very excited when I finished my first 5k run distance. I hadn't done that since high school.

Since Dave hated his new job, he would occasionally apply for different positions. He applied at Conocophillips several times and never got any returns. We moved to our own house out in the suburbs, and I started working part-time for the broker at Keller Williams in Sugar Land. During 2010 and 2011, Dave was told that he would never be able to work at Conocophillips again. He was told that twice, by two different people. Dave called the Conocophillips H.R. department to see what records they had on file for him, and to figure out why he was being told that the company he hoped to retire from would "never hire him again". His H.R. records looked great! So, was there someone spreading negative information about him within the company? We couldn't tell. This was definitely a huge obstacle. And one we thought might affect him from ever getting a job with Conoco again.

***

So, now that you know that story, we can come back to 2014. After Dave's first phone screening phone call on January 17th, he had two phone interviews and a face to face interview here in Dickinson. Dave and I continued to pray about the possible move, and felt overwhelmingly positive that we would be coming here. I started working on real estate a lot less, and started working on decluttering our townhome. After the first phone interview went well, Dave and I spoke with our girls about our possible move. We prayed as a family, and the big girls also felt we would move. They were excited! And, now we know they are actually able to keep a secret.

When Dave and I started telling family members and a few other confidants that there was a possibility we would be moving, we started realizing (not for the first time) how hard it will be to leave Houston and move farther away from family. Dave hated telling his current boss at EMAS about his upcoming departure because he loves his current job and enjoys working with co-workers. But, thankfully, the information was taken well, and his last day there is April 7th.

Dave and I are currently here in Dickinson on a home finding trip. We made an offer on a house yesterday. It's a gorgeous home with a basement. But, because we have been waiting on the go ahead from our relocation department, our townhome isn't even on the market yet! Do you think we are crazy? We do. We believe we are living on faith...and sometimes that is scary, but it is good.

We will be living in Dickinson in less than three weeks. Before we come, we will hopefully have our townhouse sold, have the moving company come to pack us up, I will have to pack up my office at work, and we will be honored to welcome to new nephews to our family. --When we get here, we will probably live in a hotel for 2-3 weeks. We don't know where the girls will go to school for sure because the elementary schools in Dickinson are becoming overpopulated, and we will spend Easter Sunday in an unfamiliar church. (Which will all be fine. We will be looking for a hotel with two rooms, a fun pool and free breakfasts.) After we are settled, I will more seriously look into getting my North Dakota real estate license and hope to start staging some homes when we get here...We can't wait to see what wonderful, small town adventures await!

And, yes, we know. North Dakota is COLD. Thanks for reading! -Amber




Thursday, March 20, 2014

North Dakota

Last month while I was in Mexico, Dave and I were waiting to hear more information about Dave's possible new job in North Dakota. Dave and I had prayed about it at length, and were pretty sure we were headed North. But, we were still waiting to hear for sure, and waiting can be nerve-racking nonetheless.

Being in Dickinson today to house hunt is surreal. I keep wondering if the girls will like it or not. I was pretty excited when the clouds spit a few snow flakes on us this afternoon, but other than that, I feel pretty apprehensive about all of it. Even though I've moved to different states a lot of times in my life, there are some things that remain the same....moving is hard. It's hard to leave friends and family behind. It's hard to get to know new people, and it's hard to try and figure out where you are going to live in a town where you know no one and nothing. (Plus, I've been cold all day. And tomorrow is going to be colder. It's also hard to acclimate from Houston weather to Dickinson weather.) So in order to make it, you have to trust. You have to trust a random relocation appointed real estate agent. You have to trust your spouse. And you have to trust God.

Trusting others and trusting God in hard situations is no profound idea. But today this blog is more a reminder for me than for anyone else. God is with us, so who can be against us? And, I am excited to go see houses tomorrow and hope to find one that I love. The Stewart bunch will be living in Dickinson in just 3 short weeks. God is good.

Mexico!!

Well, I can hardly believe it, but Dave and the girls survived while I went to Mexico with my mom, sister, aunts, grandma and girl cousins!! Just kidding. I knew they'd do great.

 We had so much fun that my mom wants me to jot down all of our happy memories to record forever. And, I totally plan on it. For now, here are some pics from our wonderful time!
Landing in Cancun
 I got to fly into Cancun with my Mom. I am so thankful for that.
One of the resort pools
 The weather was perfect! It was nice and warm during the days, and pool was still a bit chilly. Isn't it beautiful?
My Grandma's 80th Birthday 
We got to celebrate my Grandma's Birthday at the Japanese Steak House! It was so fun.
Happy Birthday, Grandma!

Shopping at Playa del Carmen

Eating at a table for 11

What's for dessert?

Conversations and Coffee

Grandma, my Cousin Jamie, Cousin Erin, Aunt Janet and Cousin Kristin

Fun with Sebastian

Almost time to karaoke!

Mom Ellie Mitchell and Grandma Lillian Diaber

Aunt Sandi, Cousin Erin and my Sis, Aubrey

I loved the time I got to spend with family in Mexico. I can't wait to do something similar soon! 

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Monday, February 17, 2014

President's Day

The big girls are out of school today, so my girls and I are hanging out and cleaning up around our little townhouse. We have already gotten a lot accomplished. We did dishes, picked up the girls craft corner, did laundry, cleaned the girls room and wiped down counters in the kitchen and bathrooms. The girls are taking a bubble guppies break, and I decided to hop on here and do a quick update. The girls are growing up and doing so many new things!

Lydia had her 100 days of school celebration two weeks ago today. I have pictures, but I don't have them on my computer right now. Lyd looked so cute with her vest, 100 day hat and her new cute hair do. So I'll have to add the pictures here soon. --I attended the 100 day march around the school even though I needed to be resting because I had strep throat. I wasn't contagious anymore, and I really wanted to be there for Lydia. Thankfully I was able to be for a few minutes.

Saige is talking like crazy these days. She shushes people when they sing songs she doesn't approve of. And, She said her first word combination last week. She said "Funny, Mommy, funny." Then she said the same thing to Daddy. I don't remember what we were doing, but she was very entertained.

Julia has developed a new gift. The other day when she and Lydia were playing, Lyd got hurt, and Julia assisted Lydia. In Julia's mind, she somehow healed Lydia's ouchie. So, Julia now believes that she has healing powers. Dave and I have talked to her about the gift of healing that God gives verses the "magical powers" that she has seen on TV shows or read about in books. So, she has decided that she has the spiritual gift of healing, and has offered to use her powers often when either of her sisters gets a bump.

All three of my girls love to sing with the Frozen songs and Julia, Lydia and Dave have all the words of most of the songs memorized. Saige sings along surprisingly well, and I join in when I can.

Julia and Lydia asked Jesus to live in their hearts on Thanksgiving Day. I am so proud of them. They get to be baptized on March 9th, and they couldn't be happier. It seems like Julia and Lydia have matured even more since Thanksgiving, and it is so sweet to watch them develop and grow. Before bed, Dave and I have been giving them 10 minutes to spend reading their Bibles, writing in their journals or praying. They really love the time they spend with the Lord, and I love that they are developing this habit.

Dave and I are doing pretty well ourselves. We are blessed with new adventures everyday! We appreciate any prayers you might pray for our family, and hope you enjoy our updates.

Love to all, Amber







Sunday, February 2, 2014

Locks of Love

Dave finally convinced me to let the girls do locks of love. I was a little scared their hair would be too short, and it is pretty short, but they LOVE it, and I am very excited that their hair will benefit a good cause.

Julia's long hair - the day before

Lydia's long hair-the day before

Julia getting prepped for a cut

Lydia getting prepped for a cut

Lydia's ultra short, ultra cute hair
 The girl at the salon we went to cut Lydia's hair too short in my opinion. She put the rubber band where the 11 inch mark was and cut above that. She should have put it at the 10 or 9 inch market and cut above that instead. But, all's well that ends well, right? Lydia loves her hair. She feels just like Rapunzel because Rapunzel went from really long to really short hair.
Cutie Bob

Super cute. Love the length. This is Julia's cut.

Julia loves her almost bob cut

Julia's locks of love
 I'm super sad I didn't get a pic of Lyd's lock of love hair before they took it to the back. I almost asked them to bring it out again, but I was feeling a bit emotional during the whole process. I was really worried the girls would have hair cutting remorse.
cutie pies!
 Don't they look about a foot taller now?
Stinker Saige "cheesin" at the hair salon
The girls were super excited to go to church today and show off their hair cuts. They loved explaining that 11 inches of their hair was cut off. Lydia calls it "lots of love" instead of locks of love. Cute, right? ---And, while at church, the big girls had many adoring fans of their new cuts at church, I guess the level of excitement wasn't good enough for them. They wanted people to "freak out", and I guess no one did that exactly. So, they both left church a little sad because they only got tons of compliments, but no one "freaked out". I mean I heard gasps, compliments and sweet endearments, but...

We ended up taking the girls to get their hair cut at a Great Clips in Katy. They cut the girls hair for free, and send the locks in for us. What a win-win, right? We didn't have to do anything but provide the locks. Dave, the girls and I really hope to do locks of love again sometime.

So, how do you like the cuts? I only cried for a second after we got in the car. :) And that was mostly because I didn't feel very good. I think the girls look super cute, and I love all three of them so much!

Thanks for stopping by, Amber

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ferrero Rocher

Today on the way to pick up Saige from mother's day out, I remembered that I had some Forrero Rochers in my purse. The soup I had for lunch hadn't stuck with me like I'd wanted. That's what me think of the Forreros. I don't usually keep them on me because I love them, and because they are a bit deceiving. They're light, hazelnutty texture makes you believe that they aren't really all that bad for you. Although, I don't really see how that can be true. (They are so delicious!)....But, I digress....I have had these delicious treats in my purse for about 2 weeks now because my sweet little one-year-old snatched them from the candy aisle while sitting in one of those little cars that are at the front of the cart in the grocery store. The cashier noticed before I did that she had swiped them, and that she gnawing on the plastic. (I've caught her doing this at home too. She just eats right through the plastic.)

So, since the cashier saw it all go down, I had to buy the little boogers. I didn't want to give them to Saige or she might think that the next time we go to a store, she can start chomping on any candy that suits her fancy. So, I've just been carrying them around as a sweet reminder as I go through out the day of my stinker Saige. However, two out of the three of those ferreros don't live in my purse anymore. They live in my stomach. I laughed as I pulled the aluminum wrapping away from shards of hazelnut and chocolate and nibbled the crumbs up. I felt so sneaky. I guess as a mom, if you are eating sweets, you feel like you should be sharing or else it's some sort of huge secret. And since it's a not a secret, I decide to share with you all on this here good ole' blog.

On a completely different note, I am excited and scared to say that I think my older girlies will be donating some hair to locks of love in the very near future. Here is a picture of their clean, beautiful locks today:

Lydia's locks

Julia's locks
Stay tuned for what it will look like soon....I guess they can both spare 10 inches. (Please don't tell Julia that her hair is a little shorter than her sisters'. She won't believe you anyway.)

Thanks for reading! You are the best. :)

Love to all of you who read my blog,

Amber