We've been working our way through the museums that San Antonio offers. I think we started a year ago and we finally got to the third one this week. We try to go on the free days, so that's one reason it's taken a while. Tuesday evenings just don't lend themselves to "museum." But we made it, and the kids Loved it! They made sure we got to all of it even though we adults were a little tired.
There was a lot of this kind of interaction.
And then someone sent out free passes for opening day at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. What is homeschooling for if not to scrap an afternoon of books and head to the barn?
Lady working on a sand sculpture.
I think Harrison enjoyed this the most: uncovering dinosaur bones. I thought all the little kids in cowboy hats and boots were cute.
this time out of large grape juice bottles (the kind communion prep people at church saved them for us every week for 20 or so weeks). We took it to Cibolo Creek before it cooled off around here. We've been having foggy, drizzly Seattle weather this past weekend.
Someone in the neighborhood was getting rid of Christmas paper, so several kids got wrapped.
This is a beautiful Liz picture.
She captured this just a step or two from home. Hard to believe that we have that beauty at our fingertips.
And the Kirby family invited Elizabeth to teach a group how to decorate Valentine cookies. She made some money and had fun. You go, girl! And thank you, Kirbys!
We braved the Rolling Oaks Mall today. Since the shooting, I had only gone back once to see about my purse. But it was a rainy day and the kids were wanting to get out of the house, so we went to their play area. There was more security around. I figure this might be one of the safest times to be there because of everyone being on high alert. This guy above was sitting near JC Penney playing the ukulele. You can't beat that.
.... which doesn't happen to one very often. And writing does help me process.
So I took Elizabeth, Phoebe, Harrison and our neighbor Charlize to Rolling Oaks Mall this afternoon. Jonathan was at a church friend's house. We did our shopping and playing and were finishing up our time in the food court. I had a good view from our table as Liz was getting orange chicken and Charlize was buying a smoothie from Pretzel Time. Liz came back with chicken, and I went to meet Charlize as she made her way to our table. We ate a bit; Charlize was thinking of getting sesame chicken and started to head there. People suddenly started running past us. No yelling ~ I heard nothing unusual. Then we heard firecracker sounds. We dove under the table.
Charlize ran back to us. I played mother hen and tried to cover them all with my arms. The three youngers were crying. I couldn't see any commotion; never heard anyone cry out in pain. So I thought maybe the shooter(s) had shot into the air. I started praying out loud to calm the children. They didn't calm. I didn't feel (very) nervous; just highly alert.
The Japanese restaurant guys were signaling for us to follow them. Was that safe? To move? I didn't know, but no one else was around us. We probably should have run already. So, we picked ourselves up and ran low against the wall to the bathroom hall where a small crowd was beckoning for us to run in. I felt safer with the crowd. A security guard with weapon drawn and the Japanese restaurant guys (also with weapons drawn) met us back there and told everyone to head outside.
I realized I had left my purse on the food court table -- no keys, no phone. Phoebe was crying that she had left her newly-purchased bracelets. Liz was helping to calm everyone. We walked fast between the cars in the parking lot. I told the kids to duck under a car if they heard any more shooting. Was it truly safer outside?
We made it to the outermost part of the parking lot. Any further and we'd be in a grassy field. I kept telling the kids we'd made it out, we were okay, but the distraught seemed more intense. I borrowed a phone from a teenage girl and called Phillip. He was about 25 minutes away but immediately headed over. Then I remembered to call Charlize's mom, who was closer, and borrowed another phone. It went to voice mail (found out later that it was charging). A middle-aged couple had called their son (a cop), and he arrived in a truck and carrying a big gun. He offered us a ride in the back (the cab was full). We laid down flat in the bed while he drove away from the mall. He didn't want to drive far with us in the back, so I told him to drop us off at Burger King nearby. The mom let me borrow her phone to let Phillip know. No answer. We went inside. Harrison asked if he could play in the play area. Phoebe was still crying. H said he didn't really feel like playing after all. I told Phoebe she could pray for the people still stuck in the mall. She nodded and, with a job to do, stopped crying. Liz was continually distracting Harrison. I borrowed another phone, tried Charlize's mom again, and got ahold of Phillip to tell him we were at BK. He arrived; we all crammed into the cab of his truck; Phoebe and Harrison broke down again. Phillip and I made some light-hearted talk and got Charlize and Liz to smile.
We made it home ~ I explained things to Charlize's family while Phillip petted on the kids and put on Star Wars. Liz social-media-ed and made magic milk for Phoebe and Harrison.
That was our play-by-play.
As we process this, I've found the kids need to talk about it ~ with friends, with neighbors, with each other. Harrison, who thought the sound came from the ceiling cracking and falling, is currently more afraid of being smothered than of being shot (although he started going over scenarios of gunmen entering our home just before bed ~ we'll see how the night goes). My purse is still stuck at the mall. We did find the other van key and were able to bring the van home.
We now have a little clearer picture of what happened, and I thank God for several things. First, I'm so grateful we were all together when it went down. Kay Jewelry was being robbed ~ that's what the whole deal started as. At one point in our mall trip, Phoebe and Charlize had been in the photo booth Right Next to Kay's. Elizabeth had been off looking around the mall by herself while the kids played in the play area... which is Right Next to Kay Jewelry. We had all been in Claire's at one point, which is beside Kay Jewelry. Charlize had been at Pretzel Time. While I had my eye on her the whole time, we were still separated. It is Right Across from Kay Jewelers. And it was either being robbed or on its way to it with Charlize over there, separated from us! I almost can't think about it.
But we were all together when the shooting happened. Just a few feet away from it, true. But I just don't know what I would have done if any of us had been separated, and I had to wonder if that person was safe. So I'm grateful to God that we were all together.
Unbeknownst to us, one of the shooters had left the mall. So as we were heading out, he was also heading out, albeit by a different door..... still the same side of the mall. I'm sure he left in a car to get out of there (I'm hearing that he's in custody now), but it's funny how you think one thing is safe (getting out of the mall), but you actually have no idea if it is or not.
I'm thankful for all the people who let us use cell phones, gave us a ride, gave me direction as to what to do. People come together in a crisis. I'm thankful for the abundance of good when there is a show of evil.
And I praise God for our safety. Not everyone was safe. Some were stuck in the mall not knowing what was happening. One person was killed. Three (one of them was a shooter) were injured. I believe two others were hospitalized for labor and chest pains. But, except for some fear and worry, this has been a surreal but safe experience for us. I'm grateful we don't Live in this kind of fear. We live peaceful, safe lives with great law enforcement and good citizenry being the norm. That's not the case for many around the world.
And lastly, this is just one more thing that makes a child of God long for heaven. Grateful that, after this very short earth-span, an eternal sinless, fearless, tearless life awaits. "Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."
We went to Bird Bakery and Hemisfair Park on this gorgeous day.
This is Phoebe's consternation face.
She caught Elizabeth taking her picture and was saying, "Li-iz!!"
So you can probably tell the difference between my pictures and Elizabeth's pictures.
The above are all hers. Jonathan took the one of her with her camera.
We are doing Praise for Habit Training.
The kids each came up with an idea that helped us praise God. Harrison's idea was to go to the Hill, tell the group one way in which God is greater than we are (mom modification), and then play "war" with nerf guns.
Liz and I had a general tour of the Culinary Institute of America today. It was another gorgeous day today, leading into a very cold day tomorrow, or so they're telling us. The Pearl was beautiful, the tour was fun, and we shared some ice cream from Lick on the way back to the van. My flavor was Beet Mint (so good!) and Elizabeth had Orange Chocolate.
We've been alternating holidays with Phillip's parents and brother. This year we had them over for Christmas. I love getting together with family for holidays, so this is a happy, enjoyable time for us.
Mimi and Papa were there for the opening of the presents.
We are all blessed beyond belief with generous family members.
Harrison (Dad?) got lots of Star Wars toys.
What he was most excited about: chicken walkers!
Mimi had a good idea for all of us to share special Christmas memories after we had Christmas dinner. I have great memories of being with family for Christmas, so it was a lot of fun to share those: Grandma's wood stove, playing cards, special Christmas gifts, plays we've been in, traveling in the snow, that time we snuck out at midnight to get ice cream....
We put together a 500 piece puzzle throughout the day.
I really didn't expect we'd finish it, but we did.
Papa took it home to put it together himself sometime. He enjoys that.
Cousin Jay got to come this year. We hadn't seen him in 5 years or so. All grown up now! He made us fresh ground coffee from coffee beans he had roasted himself. And he beat a couple of us at Chess. Kristy was here, really; I just didn't get a good picture. She made Andes Mint cookies with Elizabeth, and we had good conversation as we always do. The kids were especially thrilled with the argument (heated debate?) she and Phillip had over fonts and formatting.
Okay, I found a little picture with Kristy in the background ~ photographic proof of her presence.....
We finally got out the Christmas decorations a week before Christmas. But we got it done!
I found this little guy at HEB.
We decided we want to collect similar-looking ornaments featuring each of the states we've lived in: Missouri, Louisiana, Washington, Iowa, and Florida. So if you come across something, take a picture and let me know!
Each kid decorates their own tree.
Liz and her birthday camera.
The pictures below are from Elizabeth.
Liz was inspired to make these Swedish gingerbread cookies after watching a cooking show.
Oh. my. goodness. Watch those shows more often! So good.
At Bear Moon Bakery in Boerne.
We also visited The Nature Store and Kiss the Cook kitchen store in Boerne. There are so many cute shops there; we should explore more.