Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pyrophobia won't get the best of me!

If you don't know, I have a very healthy fear of fire - one which causes me to dread lighting a match, and to tremble when I get anywhere near flames. I can handle candles, especially if I light them with a lighter instead of a match. But that's about the extent of it. When we went camping in October, I didn't want to be close to the fire at all, even though it was freezing! When I was a child I always put my most prized possessions by my bedroom window each night, so if the house caught fire, I could grab them and jump. When I was in chemistry in high school and college, I REFUSED to use the bunson burner. I'd do anything else, but that was pushing me well beyond my limits.

So... all that to say, when I moved into my new apartment and found out I had a fireplace, I was pretty sure I would never have a fire in it unless I had company to light it for me. Well, last night, Amy, Amanda and Rachel came up for dinner, and since it was below freezing outside, it was the perfect night for a fire. Amy had given me two duralogs when she moved, so we pulled one out and Rachel lit the fire. It was so nice and cozy!
Well, I decided that it looked easy enough - you loosen the wrapper, don't even take the log out of the paper, and light the paper in two spots clearly parked with arrows. I mean, how much easier can you get? So, after running around in the frigid 20 degree windchills today, I pulled out the second duralog and lit a fire in my fireplace, all by myself! I was so proud! I know it's a very simple thing, but it's a big step toward conquering my biggest fear. Not to mention, it was really pretty and cozy.

Beautiful Butterflies!

A butterfly lights beside us, like a sunbeam...
and for a brief moment it's glory
and beauty belong to our world...
but then it flies on again, and although
we wish it could have stayed,
we are so thankful to have seen it at all.
Author Unknown

Is there anything happier than a butterfly? Yesterday I got to see them up-close-and-personal on yet another 6th grade field trip, this time to the Butterfly House at Texas Discovery Gardens. Six 6th graders, four seniors, and two faculty invaded the Butterfly House and were in AWE of the amazing butterflies and flowers in this facility. Wow! The twelve of us were alone in the room for most of our time there (with one volunteer who was very kind in answering the students' questions). It was incredible! Hot and humid (85 degrees), when outside it was right at freezing, and butterflies were flying all around us, lighting on flowers, brightening our spirits and bringing joy on such a cloudy, gloomy day. A couple of the butterflies allowed one student to touch them. One even flew up and landed on the volunteer's beard as he was talking - unfortunately I wasn't fast enough to get a pic of that!

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed hanging out with these students and experiencing the Butterfly House. I highly recommend it. Apparently they have butterfly releases at noon (which we missed), so I'm gonna have to go back to see that. Here are a few pics from the day.
My favorite - a blue morphos
This is one of the few times that orange is pretty.
The whole group

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Very Texan Birthday

I had a very Texan day for my birthday this year. I started the day out by meeting my good friends at Red Hot & Blue (my favorite!) for some delicious barbeque. Yes, it was Memphis-style and most of us had pork, not beef, but it was barbeque and yummy!
After lunch and running to Hobby Lobby and Michaels with Rachel (more of my favorite places!), the Holmes family and I headed to the Will Rogers Coliseum for the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo. It was a beautiful afternoon, though a cold wind made it quite chilly outside. First stop was the petting zoo, which we all really enjoyed last year. This year it wasn't nearly as crowded, so we could get closer to the animals. There was a baby heilan coo (Scottish highland cow), a 5-day old baby goat, and the same llama with the terrible teeth that was there last year. Lots of fun!

Next stop - the ferris wheel. Abigail and Katherine had never ridden on a ferris wheel before (gasp!), so we initiated them on a small one, nothing like the Texas Star at the State Fair. But it was fun, and the views of the city of Fort Worth at sunset were FABULOUS!!! What amazing color!
Of course, no trip to the rodeo with the Holmes family is complete without a stop by the artwork to see Katherine's latest masterpiece. Usually, we can all pick out which painting would win Grand Champion, but this year none of them seemed to compare with Katherine's painting. Not biased, really. Hers was the best. See...
After getting our fill of "fair food," we headed into the coliseum for the rodeo itself. It was just as good as always - better than last year because this year a couple of guys actually lasted the full 8 seconds. Our seats were in a different area than last year, looking down into the chutes where they release the animals for the calf-roping. That meant we had a really good view of the cowboys for those events.
What's the best part of the rodeo? COWBOYS, of course!
Silly Abigail!

What a wonderful birthday - great food, awesome friends, fun entertainment, a beautiful sunset, handsome cowboys, and traditional Texas fun!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sixth Graders and Salt-Water Fish

Today I went on a field trip with Cambridge's 6th graders to a salt-water fish store. The goal was to see live coral and sea anemones. Well, the first store was closed unexpectedly, so we went to PetCo and looked at their fresh-water fish (and other animals) until one of their employees told us about another salt-water fish store.

So we finally ended up in the main room of a salt-water fish store with tons of aquariums full of coral and clams and amazingly colorful and unusual fish (isn't God creative!?) and starfish and ghost shrimp and other cool creatures. The kids loved it - they were so enthralled with the way the coral would suck in its flowers when they passed their hand over the light, and with the star brittle that the employee held up for them, and with the "Nemo" clown fish, and everything else. Okay, what am I saying? I loved it too! It was really cool, and I'm so excited that the 6th graders and the 6th grade teacher keep asking me to go on field trips with them. Not to mention it was fun trying out the aquarium setting on my camera! :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Fun with Zack

Sunday night after church, I spent the night with Amy and Amanda like I usually do when I stay in Ft. Worth. We pulled out the sofa bed for me to sleep on, and then all ended up on it, playing with Amanda's dog, Zack. Here's Amy rough-housing with a very hyper Zack.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Joint Birthday Celebration

My friend Rachel's birthday is exactly two weeks before mine (well, and several years later, hah!), and so we decided to have a joint birthday celebration the weekend between our birthdays. And a fun-filled day it was! We had lunch at the Japanese Steakhouse - yum! Then we headed to Arlington to go ice skating, and we followed it up with dessert at The Cheesecake Factory! What a day!

The Japanese lunch was fabulous - delicious rice, veggies, and meat. But then again, Japanese is my favorite, and it's been a good 5 months since I've had it! We were all stuffed, but it was worth it. And of course, we worked a lot of it off on the ice.

None of us have been ice skating in quite some time, so we were all a little nervous and shaky to start out with. We took it slow, hung to the wall until we got our feet steady, and then started being silly, posing and taking pics. Thankfully, we had no falls, only a few close calls, and we all survived in one piece (though I bet we'll all be quite sore tomorrow!).

Oh, our aching feet!

We had planned to share a slice of cheesecake and a slice of carrot cake between the four of us at The Cheesecake Factory. Unfortunately, they said they were out of carrot cake (what?!), though that seems kind of suspect since there was one on display at the front. Anyway, we ordered a slice of cheesecake and my favorite, an order of fries! Amy and Amanda told the waitress that Rachel and I were celebrating our birthdays, so they brought the cheesecake out all decorated and sang "Happy Birthday" to us. The waitress announced that we were celebrating our 21st birthdays! Hah!

the best dessert :)