“I’m like Noah!”

picnicHappy 1st day of school!

I. Am. Exhausted.

It’s been an emotional road getting to today. From wondering if I would ever find employment to being hired and feeling overwhelmed with the intricacies of the public school system, I’ve felt unsteady for almost 2 years. But today felt good. Really good. For the first time in a long time, I have something to call mine. A classroom that belongs to me and me alone. I guess I do have to share it with 140 teenagers. And for that I am thankful. I have a space where I get to share my knowledge, my mind, my heart and my passions with high schoolers. I look back to the educational fortunes I’ve had. The traveling I’ve done. The people I’ve met and sat under. What I’ve had the blessed opportunity to learn can never really only belong to me. It must be shared, or I’ve missed the whole point. So for the next 175 days of school, I will do my best, through eagerness or weariness, to remember all those who have shared with me, so that I may share with mine.

I’m excited. Let’s do this.

I’ve felt so loved these past few weeks. From friends and family sending me school supplies and gift cards to the phone calls of support and the multiple texts wishing me a great first day, I’ve been so encouraged. And blown away by the thoughtfulness of the people in my life. So thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

These are some pictures from our ‘last big adventure’ on Saturday. I was told to get dressed and gather supplies for a picnic. Little did I know the picnic was only the beginning of one of our best dates ever. I found myself at a drive-through wildlife reserve where the animals come and eat from your hand. Yeah Yuh! cherokee tracebisonhornscome onzebrazebra zebrazebra teethdeercamel and llamas camel in the carcamel scaredeer in the headlightsemuemu catchGood catch, emu! Good date, Walker!

And  yes, you were exactly like Noah.

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Just the two of us

photoHave you ever seen publicity for an event and thought “I’m going even if I have to go by myself.”? These were my exact words when I saw a billboard for a Prado exhibit in Houston. Luckily, I didn’t have to go alone, and Walker and I used our first totally commitment free weekend of 2013 to go on an overnight getaway to Houston…or as my dad would say, Youston.

Our drive down was filled with a Pandora 90s rock station, prompting me to decide I’m grateful this music era is no more. Walker on the other hand now believes he could have made it as a 90s rocker and belted the whole. drive. down. At one point I actually pleaded with him to stop letting out such high pitched screams even saying, “Look, you have spit in your beard!” To which he quickly corrected me, “No, those are my tears. When I sing that high I cry.” Luckily, Carly Rae Jepsen saved our marriage by intervening with a little Call Me Maybe. Long story short, if you’ve never heard my husband perform ‘The Reason’ by Hoobastank, you’re missing out. So much so I’ll let you ride with him next time.agora cafeWe ate oh so well thanks to this girl. At our first cafe stop I experienced one of my top 5 sandwiches to date. I’ve already had two requests to hear more about my other 4, so with that kind of demand, I guess this sandwich lover will have to write more about that! We soaked up our carefree schedule strolling in and out of fun little shops, often commenting on how nice it was to relax just the two of us.  jar of spoolsvintage pyrexvintage pyrex 1thrift shop old radios true liesUntil Friday night I was naively under the assumption that chocolate chip cookies were a staple in the cookie category. Our hotel offered a cookies and milk bar and to say we were devoted to getting back in time to catch it is an understatement. We grabbed the remaining chocolate chip cookies, filled up with milk and raced back to the room. And by ‘raced’ I mean we rode an elevator in which the guy before us had pushed every single button. But patience is a virtue, and we finally made it back to our room for cookie time! Imagine my horror when I bit into a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie. Fact #423–I hate peanut butter. I’m sure I dramatically overreacted wondering how I could live such a cursed life. milk and cookies mfahLuckily, our free weekend happened to be the last weekend Portrait of Spain was on exhibit at the Houston Museum of Art. Paintings by Goya, El Greco, Velásquez and many others gloriously hung throughout the rooms. I just knew when I left the building we would be walking the streets of Madrid. We loved it! While wandering around the other exhibits our stomachs started eating themselves, meaning we got cranky, so off to lunch we went. portrait of spainhouston museum of art 1 houston museum of art 2 houston museum of artlady in a red hat art museum escalator 1IMG_1806I was pumped about tasting my first macaroon at Revival Market, and Walker decided he will do all of his shopping here should he ever become a Houstonian. After a quick trip to a fun vintage shop followed by Ikea, we made our way home to Opal with our Call Me Maybe Pandora station playing loud and proud. You were good to us, Houston. Thanks for not being too humid yet!revival market macarooms relay on 19When my dad married us, he gave us a piece of advice handed down to him by his father on his wedding day–take a trip once a year. And while we hope our overnight getaway is not our only ‘trip’ of 2013, there is something beautiful in running away together for 24 hours. In this season of our lives the opportunity doesn’t come all that often, and we are grateful for that, because our schedules are blessedly full of youth and showers and family and weddings and church and parties and babies and mission trips and friends. But holding to our marriage-day advice, we plan on taking tiny travels whenever we get the chance!

P.S. We found this blog helpful for some fun ideas in Houston!

D.C.

On our way home from Africa we had an 8 hour layover in D.C., and we were pumped. Yes, we were exhausted and extremely grungy, but nothing a little love for adventure and Huggies wipes couldn’t cure! ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Home Sweet Bed

We find ourselves writing this post to let our friends and family know that we made it home today safely, but selfishly we are writing in attempt to keep ourselves awake until 9 p.m. Surely that is an acceptable bedtime, because we were ready to lay ourselves down at 6.

We had the most incredible trip that we can’t wait to document on here soon enough! We are both on our computers (with Opal snoring between us) looking at pictures and already wanting to go back. But for now we are relishing in hot showers, chowing down on burgers, brushing our teeth in clean water goodness, celebrating the invention of the mattress and thanking the public bathroom gods for their cleanliness standards.

The remote villages of Ethiopia just might be our new favorite places in the world. The unexpected landscape. The friendliness of the people. We fell in love! And who wouldn’t when you get to wake up to this every morning?

See you soon, Ethiopia!

We’ve finished our typhoid pills and sorted our hygiene supplies. VBS materials have been put together and Pepto Bismal has been bought in bulk. Right now, bags are chaotically being packed with Mumford and Sons pumping us up. That must mean we are heading to Ethiopia this weekend! As excited as we are, I’m not quite sure the reality has set in!

We leave Saturday night out of DFW, spend the night in DC and fly straight to Addis Ababa. We’ll arrive in our home base of Bantu later that evening and get settled in. We will spend the next two days in a rural village doing VBS in the morning and renovating wells in the afternoon. The following two days will be spent in a second village with the same schedule. A final day of tourism and shopping in Addis Ababa, and we head back to DC. Af fun day of sightseeing in DC and back to DFW!

Thank you to every one who so generously collected our hygiene supplies on such short notice. And your prayers, we appreciate them greatly. Continue to pray for: Seeds of the Gospel to be planted in the hearts of the Ethiopians. Traveling mercies. Our health. Continued relationships. The Ethiopian leaders we will be working alongside. Praise for the chance to experience what God is already doing in Ethiopia. Cultural sensitivity. Spiritual rejuvenation for our team members. And finally, that Katelyn doesn’t bring home a child.Walker and I are not only grateful to be venturing to Africa, but we are pumped about spending a week with our team. It’s a hardworking, goofy bunch…and for us that’s perfect. Ps. Contrary to how I may look in the first picture, I am not pregnant!

Independence!

On our way home from San Antonio we decided to take a detour to the the historic town of Independence, TX. It might have taken us a little longer on the backroads, but it was well worth it to tour the humble home of Baylor University!

Twas the rainiest of days, but Walker only saw sunshine. Put that boy on a historic sight tour, and he’ll leave you in his dust. I had fun twirling in my skirt and longing for my rain boots. What a fun and significant place for any Baylor Bear to visit!

San Antonio

We’ve been taking these past few days to recuperate from our weekend getaway to San Antonio! One of us (cough cough, me…no really, i’m coughing with every click of the keyboard) went on our anniversary trip and came down with the flu/bad cold/something gross. Thanks to our beloved friends Dayquil and Nyquil, a sore throat and runny nose couldn’t keep us down! Although it did almost keep someone down. I would like to apologize to the man riding a motorized wheelchair that I almost ran over while riding our rented bikes in a Nyquil-induced coma. Ding, ding! Girl with the flu coming through!

We enjoyed biking through downtown, strolling the Riverwalk, visiting sketchy parks at night trying to sneak a peak at old missions, encountering history and culture, spotting mariachis at every turn, hearing lots of Spanish, eating eating eating, and most importantly visiting the Alamo! Walker may or may not have gotten a little choked up. He also made the decision that if he was a duck, he would want to live on the Riverwalk.

We weren’t sure if we’d be able to go to San Antonio like we’d planned, but thanks to an extra job that came up and the generous gifts of some church members and parents, we thrived on four days of adventure and quality time! We even got to put on some fancy clothes and eat at a fancy schmancy restaurant! To echo this post, what gracious and supportive people we have in our lives! Thank you!

Blueberry Festival

Dear East Texas,

You have really delivered lately. First, the Blue Hole and now the Blueberry Festival!

Walker and I woke up early Saturday morning and headed to the oldest town in TX to celebrate a fruit that neither of us consider a favorite, but I think we both have a newfound fondness. We waited in a 45 min line for blueberry pancakes, which I now believe to be the best I’ve ever had! Street vendors lined the downtown square selling everything from homemade ice cream to homemade wooden guns.

Dogs paraded their way down the street to their costume contest in the nearby park. When you see a bulldog in a tutu, a tiny dog in a tiny sombrero, and a 2-week-old baby goat, you just know you are in the right place.

We left with 4 pints of blueberries, a little less money and a little more appreciation for the deep east.

See you next year, The McWilliams