Okaloosa Island

We spent a few hours at the Eglin AFB beach on Okaloosa Island today and plan to head back to Destin for dinner with the Treats before the day is over, but I thought I'd post some pictures of our family enjoying the beach.

Huntsville, Alabama

We arrived in Huntsville on Wednesday afternoon, just in time to get our stuff in the hotel and settle a little bit before Collin was off to meet with one of the L3 guys to get spun up for the interview on Thursday morning. His meeting went well, and they gave him some good information for the interview the following morning. We did find out that there are 18 people interviewing for 4 positions, so that's about a bit worse than a 1 in 4 chance of getting the job. Collin said the interview went well though, and the interviewers seemed to like him, so that's good. He feels he did his best, and we'll just have to see what happens - the rest is up to God. We're hoping to hear the results of the interview in about 2 weeks, so please continue to pray.

Huntsville turned out to be a really neat city, and we really enjoyed the opportunity to explore a bit. It was nestled in the foothills of the mountains, in the Tennessee valley and had beautiful scenery as well as a lot of neat things to offer. The Marshall Space Center, where Space Camp is located, was quite a spectacle from the road, and even though we didn't get the chance to spend any time there, we definitely hope to if we end up in Huntsville! There was also a really neat outdoor shopping area called Bridge Street Town Centre (kinda like La Cantera, for those of you familiar with San Antonio) and they had beautiful buildings with shopping, a huge movie theatre, a carousel and water fountain play-scape for the kids, and a man-made lake with paddle boat rentals and gondola rides! All in all, Huntsville looks like it would be a good place to live, if that's where the Lord sends us.
We got in to Niceville, FL last night and had a wonderful time catching up with Stephen and Dara! We've got plans to take the kids to the beach today, so I should have some more pictures of the Florida half of our trip soon.


On the road... again

So we're off this morning for our week long trip to Alabama and Florida. Collin has his final interview with L3 Communications in Huntsville, AL on Thursday at 8:30 am - please say a prayer for him - we're leaving in a few minutes and will be staying in Hattiesburg, Mississippi tonight. We plan to arrive in Huntsville on Wednesday afternoon and do a little exploring of the area. Collin will have his interview on Thursday morning, and then we'll be leaving for Niceville, FL to visit our dear friends Stephen & Dara, and Kevin & Erica, who will also be visiting then. We'll be there until Monday morning the 2nd, when we'll head back home and arrive back in San Antonio late that night. (We'll have our cell phones with us, should anyone need to reach us.) Please say a prayer for our travels, and for this job opportunity! I'll try to update here on our trip as we're on the road, but I'll definitely have a post once we're back if I'm just enjoying myself way too much!


In memory of Maria Sue Chapman

Like many of you, I was so saddened by the tragic news of Stephen Curtis Chapman's youngest daughter's death. At the time the accident occurred, the family “was celebrating the engagement of the oldest daughter Emily Chapman, and were just hours away from a graduation party marking Caleb Chapman’s completion of high school. Now, they are preparing to bury a child who blew out 5 candles on a birthday cake less than 10 days ago.” My heart just aches for this wonderful, inspirational and loving family. I don't know why God decided to call her home on Wednesday night, but I know His plan is perfect, and He will care for this family, even through the storm they're now weathering.
Chapman’s latest album, “This Moment,” released last fall, is about the need to slow down, prioritize, and appreciate your God-given blessings in the here and now. Chapman taped a special acoustic performance of “Cinderella,” written for his adopted daughters, for adoption blogs and posted it to YouTube recently:

The lyrics:

She spins and she sways to whatever song plays,
Without a care in the world.
And I’m sittin’ here wearin’ the weight of the world on my shoulders.
It’s been a long day and there’s still work to do,
She’s pulling at me saying “Dad I need you!
There’s a ball at the castle and I’ve been invited and I need to practice my dancin’
“Oh please, daddy, please!”
So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
‘Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh I will dance with Cinderella
I don’t wanna miss even one song,
Cuz all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she’ll be gone

She says he’s a nice guy and I’d be impressed
She wants to know if I’d approve of a dress
She says “Dad, the prom is just one week away,
And I need to practice my dancin’”
“Oh please, daddy, please!”

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
‘Cause I know something the prince never knew
Ohh-oh ohh-oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don’t wanna miss even one song,
‘Cuz all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she’ll be gone
She will be gone.

Well, she came home today
With a ring on her hand
Just glowin’ and tellin’ us all they had planned
She says “Dad, the wedding’s due six months away
And I need to practice my dancin’
“Oh please, daddy please!”

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
‘Cause I know something the prince never knew
Ohh-oh ohh-oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don’t wanna miss even one song, (even one song)
Cuz all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she’ll be gone

Heart-achingly prophetic in a way he never could have imagined. While I've obviously never met the Chapman family, their plight–and Chapman’s message of living in the moment–resonate strongly with me. Please join me in praying for this family as they mourn the loss of this beautiful little girl.


My youngest is THREE?!?

There it is... Ian turned three years old on Saturday, and I can't believe I don't have any babies anymore. We're tossing the paci and starting in on potty-training, and it seems so weird to me to have semi-big kids. God has truly blessed me with beautiful, smart, funny and unique children, and while it's hard to watch them getting older and more independent, it's a joy to see them grow.

Yesterday was spent having a family birthday party at Chuck E Cheese's and bringing the whole gang back to the house for cake, ice cream and presents. It's so fun to see all the cousins play together and to spend good quality time with our extended family! Unfortunately, the pictures aren't the best (I was much to busy hosting a party, you know), but here's a good representation of Ian's 3rd birthday party.

The birthday boy (aka Soda Monster) enjoying his party

Daddy enjoying the Chuck E Cheese gaming action!

Moira & Ian on the roller coaster simulator ride (or roaster coaster, as Ian would say)

The dinosaur cake

Enjoying the company of the May cousins

Opening presents... with a little help from his sister & cousins!

His birthday gift from us was a new big-boy Tonka bike, which I think he'll be enjoying for quite a while. Thank you for remembering our sweet little guy with us, as we celebrate his life. All of the well-wishes and gifts are much appreciated - thank you notes to come!


Looking back...

So, for those of you who wondered what Collin's job as a Missileer was like, I thought I'd post this link. The Today show aired a series called Access Granted recently, and on one of the shows, they actually went to Malmstrom AFB in Montana, where we were stationed. This clip shows Al Roker at a MAF (Missile Alert Facility) where Collin spent days and days during our tour there. He actually pulled alert at this particular capsule a number of times, and we even knew the Commander interviewed in the clip. It's a neat view of what his life was like while he was out in the field, and definitely worth checking out if you're at all interested. It brought back so many memories of our lives in Montana, and the wonderful families we forged life-long friendships with, like Stephen & Dara, Kevin & Erica and Paul & Diane. I can't believe I'm saying this, but looking back on it now, I miss so much of that chapter in our lives. Enjoy!


Mother's Day 2008

Happy Mother's Day to all of you wonderful women out there celebrating this day in some way or another. I was gifted with a beautiful digital photo frame today, so I spent some time looking through my family photos to find my absolute favorites, when I stumbled on this video. I had to post this here today, as this is one of the most significant moments in my life as a Mother to date... my only daughter meeting my only son.

There's my bit of sentimentality for the day, so thank you for obliging me. Much love to you all.


A whirlwind of events

I think we must have finished with one of the busiest two weeks we've ever had! We're back from Dallas after two hiring conferences, a visit with Stephen & Paige, a visit with Neal & Janice, and a short-notice trip to east Texas for a second interview! Whew! It's so nice to be back home, although we're still getting shockwaves from all the job stuff - not that we're complaining! Here's a rather lengthy update, but it's sprinkled with pictures, so hopefully that'll make it bearable.
We left last Wednesday afternoon for Stephen and Paige's house in Howe, which is just north of Dallas. Collin dropped me and the kids off and headed back to his hotel for the first hiring conference. The kids and I got a chance to visit with Paige and Stephen, when he was home, and we really enjoyed our time with them. It's so hard to be hours away from family that you miss so much, be we're so glad that it's not days and that we get to visit together every so often!
Me and Hope getting some time together while Daddy grills some hamburgers for dinner and Mommy makes the most incredible Chocolate Cobbler ever - yum!

Meanwhile Hope's cousins work on their mad bubble skilz!

While we were enjoying some family time, Collin was off in Dallas faced with the hard task of impressing multiple employers in an attempt to get some job leads. He would come back and join us on Friday evening, but not before we got these pictures in the rather unimpressive bluebonnet fields (it's just too late in the season) near Howe.

Ian was just thrilled to be forced to pose in a field of flowers with his girly sister. (Isn't his little face just hilarious? I couldn't help but post it.)

Collin drove up to be with us later that evening and we enjoyed our last night with Stephen and Paige. Unfortunately, Collin didn't get to spend a whole lot of time with them, since he was a the conference, but their hospitality to me and the kids was such a god-send. Without us having a place to stay during that first conference, we just wouldn't have been able to make the trip with him - thank you again, Wilhite family!

Saturday morning we set out for Norman, Oklahoma and the Judisch household. We were so excited to see my brother Neal and his wife Janice! This is the first trip we've all made up to visit them, and our first time meeting the newest member of their family, Lillian Jeanette!

Isn't she adorable?! I just love it when they're this tiny!

Moira was especially taken with her new cousin.

One of my favorite parts of this whole trip was watching my sweet nephew Aidan with his new baby sister. Doesn't this picture say it all? What love.

We were treated to some very yummy BBQ pulled-pork sandwiches, cucumber-tomato-feta salad, Outback recipe mac-n-cheese (working at a restaurant has it's benefits!) and wonderful company. Neal and Collin had a chance to catch up for the first time in quite a while, Janice and I talked baby stuff and the big kids spent the afternoon in their mini-bouncy castle. We all enjoyed it so much - Moira is still asking everyday if she can go back to her cousin's house and play!

Can you see I'm still working on Collin and the whole baby thing?

Later in the evening we all went up to OU to see the University and where Neal works. It's a beautiful school, and it still blows me away that my brother is Dr. Judisch of the OU Philosophy Department!! The kids enjoyed running around the beautiful campus for a bit, and then we went to BJ's, a really cool pizza place up there, for dinner together before pulling out of town. We had to get back to Dallas that night for the start of the next hiring conference early Sunday morning.

You didn't really think I'd forget to post a picture of me and little Lillian? It's hard living so far away from these precious little children, I have to enjoy every minute I have with them all.

I was able to snap this (rather silly - or shall I say joyful) picture of all 6 kids before they wouldn't hold still anymore! This picture really warms my heart - the ties that bind.

Sunday and Monday consisted of Collin spending most of his days at the conference while the kids, and I hung out in the hotel room, spent a little time at the pool, made the cutest little pom-pom animals (I totally recommend this book if you have toddlers of the crafty variety), and checked out the Galleria.

In the end, there were two companies that Collin interviewed with where there was mutual interest from us and the company, which is not too shabby! In fact, about 30 minutes after his initial interview with Covidien (a medical supplies manufacturer) they asked if he could come to their plant for a follow-on tour, get this, TOMORROW! Ugh, poor guy. He just hasn't had a break - again, not that we're complaining. So we loaded up the van and headed East for his 10am meeting in Commerce, TX the next day. After 5 1/2 days of being on the road, I was out of ideas on what to do to entertain the kids during yet another undetermined amount of time that we'd be waiting. Much to my relief, our hotel ended up being located right next to the Northeast Texas Children's Museum, where we spent our afternoon waiting for Collin.

After a 4 hour wait, we got the call to come pick Collin up. I was shocked to hear that he'd had FOUR more interviews with different members of management and a tour of the facility. Needless to say he was beyond exhaustion, but also felt really good about the interviews and the possible job opportunity. We were told there are 4 or 5 people interviewing for 2 positions, and that we wouldn't get any feedback until the others have had their second interviews sometime next week. We'll just have to see what God has in store for us.
The second company of interest is Bell Helicopter located in Hurst, a suburb of Fort Worth. They, too, seemed to really like Collin and he's really interested in seeing what they have to offer as well. During his interview with them, they told him they'd like to have him come out for a tour of the facilities and a second interview, so we're supposed to find out a tentative schedule for that trip today. It looks like he might end up back on the road (this time without the whole family in tow) next week. We're praying over this opportunity as well.

Finally, we were contacted by L-3 Communications, a government contractor, about a BMDS Flight Test Engineer position they're interested in him for. He had a phone interview with them yesterday, which also went very well, and they'd like to present his package to the government on Monday! That all sounds very encouraging, and Collin mentioned that it was a nice change of pace to be pursued by a company instead of trying to sell himself. The only down-side? The position is at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. We're doing some research into the area and position, and should be receiving a contingency offer sometime today. Yet another thing to be in prayer over.

Well, that about sums up the craziness that has been our last couple of weeks. We'll be sure to update everyone if anything big happens. Please pray that God would make His will very clear to us in what path we should take. Thanks for caring in the first place!