Saturday, May 31, 2014

Introducing the Alcala Casa (dirt)

The Alcala Casa is under construction!!!

Our dirt lot!

Let me back up a little... 2 weeks ago John came home from work with all of these pamphlets, papers, layouts of some of the new homes being built in Frisco, TX. I was completely caught off guard and totally shocked! If you follow me on Instagram (sherialcala) or Facebook then you may have seen that over the last 12 months I have been doing a little updating aka "face lift" on the current Alcala Casa. You see, I asked John last year if we were going to be moving anytime soon (1-2 years) and his exact words were, "Ummm NO!" So I decided that since I had the itch to move and redecorate I would just give my current home an update and fresher look (it has been exactly the same for 5 years).  I began by having the girls upstairs bathroom painted, shower re-tiled (it had blue tile before!) and adding a new light fixture and mirror above the sink. Then I moved on to our bedroom and found new bedding, fur rug & lighter drapes to brighten up our room a bit. And then I turned the downstairs office into more of a sitting room and I got rid of the desk and replaced it with a pull-out sofa for when we have company.  Next, I decided to have the living room, hallway and kitchen re-painted. My old kitchen was red and I wanted to go with a more soft neutral look and then I had all of our light oak kitchen cabinets painted white. Since I was on such a roll and had saved up some money from working I then decided to change the drapes, area rug & all the living room furniture lol. So basically I was pretty set on staying put for a while! So, after my initial shock of moving from the house I just updated I decided to hear out Johns plan...

Left 3 (before) Right 3 (after)

Top 2 (after) Bottom 2 (before)

After doing some research, pulling comps, talking with realtors, business friends and builders John felt that this would be a great time to sell our house in Frisco. Luckily for us Frisco is on an upswing and we have a booming market. I wouldn't dream of moving anywhere else. We LOVE Frisco it is a beautiful community full of families, an excellent school district, and it doesn't feel like a huge city, plus Dallas is just a 20 minute drive. It really does have anything and everything a family could want. Now although it is a sellers market it can be a good time to buy. New developments are also going up like crazy and if you buy in at the right time you instantly gain equity as the the market rises. Plus builders are offering some unbeatable "building incentives" to encourage families to build new. Although it makes me sad to think about leaving this house (I LOVE IT!!!) we really have pretty much outgrown it. We had house guests every weekend this past month and everyone was stuck sleeping in the office and then going upstairs to use the shower in Julianna's room. All of this to say, we both prayed and felt good about the decision to move and so we immediately began the house land hunt.

 I am pretty sure we visited every builder on the west side of the Dallas North tollway that was in at least 5 miles of the toll. I love west Frisco (it is where we live now) and we have to live pretty close to the DNT because John commutes to downtown Dallas every day. Eventually John stumbled upon a growing new development called Phillips Creek Ranch (4 minutes from our current home). The moment we drove into the neighborhood I was sold! It is a beautiful area right by the elementary school my girls will go to and the neighborhood is full of walking trails, bike trails, parks, plus an awesome amenity center and pools. The development is still being built and I can not wait to see what else they are going to offer. When we first met with the builders almost all of the lots were sold (only 4 were left) so we almost immediately put an offer on one of the available spaces. When we went by there today to take a family picture on the lot of our future home they told us only 1 lot remains! I am so happy we did not wait!!!  I have never built a home and to be honest I actually never really thought I would want to. But the more I think about this new adventure the more excited I am becoming. I love the idea of getting to pick my layout, paint, granite, stone, brick, etc. I really am getting to build my little dream home.

I am sure this process is going to be full of ups and downs and waiting and waiting and waiting. As of right now they are saying we could be in our new home by the end of October-November so fingers crossed that doesn't get pushed back. I will be sure to keep you posted on this little adventure. I am meeting at the design center on Wednesday to pick out the colors, etc so if you have any tips send them my way!!! As of right now the only thing that is for sure decided is the structure of the layout, and as of yesterday the color of brick and stone that will be on the outside of the house. Oh and one more perk to this all is that we are going to be neighbors (3 streets down) from some of our very best friends in the whole entire world Lauren, Mitch & baby Eli Stack!!! They too are building a home in Philips Creek Ranch!!! I can just see Lauren and I walking our babies to Elementary school one day :)

All of this moving stuff brought back memories of John and I buying our very 1st home on 2611 Ward St in Midland, TX. At the time we were only 22 years old and to be honest we were one of those couples that should NOT have been approved for a home loan because we were dirt poor haha. However, we some how miraculously always paid our mortgage and were never a day late! I remember when we were going through the process of purchasing that home we both prayed and told the Lord that if He opened the doors for us to buy that house we promised we would use it 100% for His glory...and that we did! Almost every night we had the college ministry at our house until 2am. We had small groups there, church leadership meetings, planned missions trips there, birthday parties, graduation parties, BBQ's and had tons of fun hang out times. When you are young and childless what else is there to do than just hang out and have fun with friends. We prayed with people there, lives were forever changed there & break through happen right in that living room! All I can do is smile at the wonderful 2 years we spent at that home on Ward St.

Our very 1st home

This was a pretty typical evening at 2611 Ward St

Backyard BBQ's were so fun

Our 1st baby girl Candy

When we decided to move to Dallas to help with a church plant. We began the house hunting process in Frisco. I accidentally stumbled upon this house on Ballymena Dr. It was a little out of our price range but it had the most amazing huge living room and I was immediately head over heels in love with this home. Once again we got on our hands and knees and prayed, "God if this house is meant to be open the doors and do a miracle". We submitted an offer we could afford (which was a bit less than asking price). Someone else outbid us yet the current owners (who were strong Christians) prayed and said God told them to accept our lower offer instead of the higher offer, which is absolutely CRAZY!!! We came to find out that they have family on staff at Phoenix First Assembly (the church I did Masters Commission at). They were extremely involved in ministry & board members at their church. Once again we gave this house to the Lord and over the past 5 years countless ministry has been done in this home. We actually had our entire college group (30-40 students) meet in our living room (before our church had a building) for almost a year!!!! Every month for 5 years we have had leadership meetings right in our living room. We have once again had birthday parties, Christmas parties, Thanksgiving meals, baby showers, bridal showers, church staff meetings (with oh 20 adults and 20 kids!!!) and countless prayer meetings in this wonderful home on Ballymena Dr. Before our girls were born we even opened up our home to 2 Bible college (MC students) over the summer. We also have had countless house guests a few of who had extended stays (Brother Ben) lol and anytime a church group is traveling through Dallas they have stayed a night or 2 spread out in this home. I'm pretty sure the neighbors all hate us because there are always cars parked in front of their homes but that's ok with me :)

Our 2nd home!

Just a typical get together at the Alcala Casa

Some how I agreed to host the youth Christmas party! 60 youth in my house

The Invictus Leadership team during Christmas

Well, we once again make a vow to use our new home on Stallion Ranch Rd for God alone. Sure our lives have changed and in this season of life we can't really have 20-30 college students hanging out in our living room until 2am with 2 babies asleep upstairs but there is plenty of other ministry that will take place in our home. Last night, we had an incredible dating couple come talk with us about their relationship and I am so honored that we could pour even a little into their lives. Sure they had to come over for a super late dinner at 8pm once our girls were asleep hahah but hey that's ok! My prayer is that during this new season of raising babies our home would be a place of warmth, love, joy, encouragement and acceptance. I pray that everyone who steps through our doors would feel Gods overwhelming peace. And finally, I pray that a lifetime of precious memories would be made inside our 4 walls.

Joshua 24:15  "... as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Oh to be different...

If only I was _________

My sweet 2 year old Josselyn woke up crying the other day. When I asked her what was wrong her exact words were, "I don't want my short, curly, hair" she was crying crocodile size tears while tugging on her hair. I quickly told her how beautiful her curls were and she cut me off saying, "I want long straight hair like you mama". It was not easy calming her down, she even talked about how Jewel and Dada have straight hair (although John's hair is not really straight!) Eventually she settled down and we went on with the day. The next day Josse was hanging out with YaYa and they went to McDonalds. YaYa handed Josse the happy meal toy which was a long, straight haired, blonde, Barbie doll.  Josse took the doll, wrinkled her forehead, scrunched her nose and said, "YaYa does this doll have straight or curly hair???" YaYa quickly took the doll twirled its hair around her finger to give it a wave and said, "It's curly Josse!" Josselyn thought for a moment and then decided that answer would suffice. Then Josse looked at YaYa and said, "YaYa what about your hair straight or curly?" YaYa knew she couldn't lie so she told Josse that her hair was indeed straight but she wished she had beautiful curls! Josse then took her fingers gave YaYa's hair a flip and said, "YaYa your hair can be a little curly" lol 

I love her morning bed head :)

Today Josse had another little melt down. This time she cried and said she wanted her hair to be in a "line" like mine and Jewel's (I guess a line is another word for straight) and she didn't want to have curls any more! This time I tried telling her that everyone loves curly hair and I started to name all our family/friends with curly hair. She calmed down and I was able to quickly divert her attention. My heart has been sad and broken for my little girl the last few days. It was actually a few months ago that she started to recognize that everyone had different types of hair. She would ask YaYa, Mimi, Me, other Aunties what color there hair was and if it was straight or curly. I know Josse is not the only little one to ever feel different. My sister "MiMi" was adopted from China as a baby. She out of anyone knows what is is like to look different then the rest of her family (yet I always wished I had MiMi's gorgeous, thick, dark locks!!!) 

Josse's sweet curls after a little wind and rain

COMPARISON is the most awful thing and it creeps in at even the youngest age. It brings about feelings of insecurity, low self esteem, jealous, envy and the list goes on. Think of how many times we have wanted something else, whether it be something physical: being taller, shorter, thinner, curvier, blonder, darker, etc or maybe it was wishing you had _________ : a better job, nicer car, bigger house, what he or she has, etc. To live out life content and satisfied is a very hard thing and it will only happen when we put our full trust and confidence in God. A few versus to lean on are, (Psalms 139:14) "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." And in (Philippians 4:11) Paul says, "I have learned in whatsoever state I am in therewith to be content."

Josse and her "best friends" aka cousins

I want so badly for Josselyn to see herself through my eyes. I see her so beautiful and perfect and I would not change one single thing about her. But as perfect as I see her God see's her even more perfect because He hand designed her and created her exactly how she is. My prayer is that every girl young and old would see themselves how God sees them. (Psalm 139:13) says, "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb." We live in a society that constantly makes us feel imperfect and not quite good enough. The truth is until we find our identity in Christ, our maker, we will never been content and satisfied. 

So when those feelings of "If only I was _____" creep in, remind yourself that you are were designed individually and uniquely. You are a one of a kind masterpiece and you are priceless.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

For the 1st time in almost 4 years...

I woke up this morning a little emotional....

I started to think and I realized that for the 1st time in 3.5 years I am not pregnant or breast feeding. Now don't get me wrong, I do NOT have baby fever even the smallest bit. I still have 2 babies and I am just trying to survive each day. But it still feels strange to not be pregnant or nursing an infant. In fact this month was the first time since October 2010 that I had a menstrual cycle (sorry if that is TMI I just figure that 99% of my blog readers are females anyways) You many be thinking how is that possible.... Well, I got pregnant in November 2010, gave birth to Josse in August 2011, nursed for 1 year, while I was weaning in August 2012 I found out I was pregnant again (big surprise), then gave birth to Jewel in April 2013 and nursed again for 1 year, which brings us to now May 2014. I have basically been a baby cooker/milk machine for almost 4 years straight. I have been parking in "expectant mom/mothers with newborn parking" for just as long! I believe that if you are a nursing mom you deserve to get front row parking whether or not the rest of society deems your child a "newborn". If you were up at 3am feeding a baby then by golly you get FRONT ROW PARKING! lol

All of that to say I couldn't really figure out my emotions this morning, I just felt different and a little strange. I had a bit of sadness come over me and it's not that I want to be pregnant (because I don't!) and it's not that I want to still be nursing Jewel because I really had a peace about weaning her at 12 months... I guess I am just realizing that that season in my life has come to an end. I started to question if I cherished the past 3.5 years enough and I am not sure if I totally did. Sometimes it takes leaving a season to realize how precious it really was. In the midst of it all (pregnancy & breastfeeding) it seemed so hard and overwhelming but as I pack away my maternity clothes, nursing tank tops and nursing bra's I am an emotional wreck (typical woman I suppose). I thought about continuing to nurse Jewel a bit longer but she had such an easy, smooth, transition to milk that I don't really think it would benefit her that much more.  I have come to realize and appreciate that every mom & situation is different; some mother's do not nurse/pump (whether that is the decision they chose or because of reasons outside of their control), others do it a few weeks, months, a full year, 18 months, and even until 2+. I did a little research and then talked to my pediatrician and just went with what they recommended because it worked for me, but I have quickly come to realize that every doctor has different opinions and recommendations. If only there was a magic handbook for raising children with all of the best answers.

So one chapter is closing and another is beginning. I suppose the perks to this new chapter is that my body can finally go back to some what normal, maybe I will shed these last 5 lbs, hopefully my hormones will level out and after almost 4 years I can say good bye to maternity & nursing-friendly clothes. I think a little of the sadness I feel comes with acknowledging that my youngest is getting older although she is still a little baby. Throughout this day I am once again reminded to enjoy the season and appreciate the stages my girls are going through. Although being pregnant seemed oh so difficult at the time there are definitely parts of it I miss (I would have never thought those words would come out of my mouth!) and even though breast feeding was a little bit of a struggle at times and getting mastitis was not fun, I will always cherish those moments with my girls. Right now the diaper changing seems like it will never end but I know one day I will miss changing those precious baby bums and even though there are times I wish my girls could feed themselves I know one day I will miss those little miniature baby spoons and forks in my kitchen drawers.

So whether your a mama or not, enjoy every season and stage of your life. One day you'll look back and you may miss even the most difficult of times. 

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven" Ecclesiastes 3:1

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Alcala Vacation Minus 2

Last week John and I said bon voyage & set sail on a 6 night cruise...

One of the goals John and I set when we 1st got married was the goal to take a "vacation/trip" every year together as a couple. In our almost 8 years of marriage we have done really good making that a priority! Even in our 1st year of marriage we managed to save (what little we had) and for our 1 year anniversary we took a weekend trip to Vegas (John had never been!) It is not always easy taking time off of work, saving up extra money, etc to plan a vacation. Some years we opted out of anniversary gifts, birthday gifts or whatever and instead planned a trip (the cruise we just took was my 30th birthday present.) As I look back, those trips are the "gifts" I will forever remember! The past 8 years we have taken vacations to the US Virgin Islands, Las Vegas, New York, Bahamas, Europe (Spain, Italy, France), Los Angeles, Mexico & Honduras. As fun as those places were we still have a BUCKET LIST full of other places we hope we get to one day visit (Greece, Israel, Alaska, Hawaii, etc). 

We have found that one of the easiest & most economical ways to travel is by taking a cruise (the seasoned cruisers call it "cruising" haha) Last week we took our 4th cruise as a couple (my 5th cruise) and I guess we are now official "cruisers". I love that when we take a cruise we get to have a taste of multiple fun destinations, in a short amount of time. There would be no way on earth we could go to 3 or 4 different beautiful destination in 5 or 6 days any other way. I love that the meals are all inclusive and the ships have anything and everything you could think of. I have been super impressed with the night time entertainment (singing, dancing, figure skaters, comedians, contortionists, etc) on Royal Caribbean and so far that has been my FAVORITE cruise line.

The Navigator of the Sea ship  (4th largest cruise ship in the world)

Last week's vacation was an absolute BLAST! We went with 2 of our best friends Lisette & Jeremy and this was actually our 3rd cruise to go on with them. We always have so much fun together and this vacay was no exception1 If you read my Blogs then you know that on our last cruise in Aug 2012 (which I blogged about: First vacation without our baby girl ) was when I found out that I was pregnant with Julianna lol! I can promise you nothing like that happened this time. We were gone from a Saturday - Saturday so almost 8 days and I will admit that it was probably 2 days too long for this mama. I really started to miss my babies those last 2 days but I tried to just soak in the much needed one on one time with my husband! I know that John and I are not always going to be able to get away for a full week just the 2 of us but I truly believe that it is so healthy for a couple with kids to get some one on one time together without the babies every now and then. It really was refreshing for us to spend quality time together because a 1 or 2 hour dinner every month or two really isn't enough time (in my opinion). We came back refreshed and I was ready to jump back in to being a full time mama 24/7. I am so thankful for our family who watched the girls while we were gone...we owe them big time (especially with everything our 2 rascals put them through!!!!)

We saw the ship we cruised on 2 years ago when I found out I was pregnant with Jewel

Day #1 Galveston

We drove to Galveston, TX and stayed the night at the Tremont House Hotel. It was a beautiful, historic Galveston hotel. We had dinner at Olympia a yummy Greek restaurant we tried for the 1st time. We then visited our favorite beach shop Murdochs and took a stroll along the beach.

Day #2 Set Sail

We boarded the ship Saturday afternoon. I was so very excited to sail on Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Sea ship! It is actually kinda crazy because John and I sailed on that exact same ship when we went on a European cruise 4 years ago. The cool thing was the ship just had an 85 million dollar face lift and they updated & renovated everything. It really is the most amazing cruise ship I have ever been on.

Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Sea

Our ship was HUGE

all dressed up for dinner on the boat

Day #3 Day at Sea

The day at sea on the cruise is always fun because it is a day of total relaxation. We slept in (which we haven't done in I don't know how long, hung poolside, John tried out the "wave-runner" which was on the ship and then got all dolled up for "formal night".

getting our tan on

John loved the wave runner!

formal night on the ship

we loved watching the sun set every evening on the deck

Day #4 Costa Maya, Mexico

Our 1st stop was Costa Maya, Mexico! I had never been to Costa Maya and I loved it. We took a 10 minute shuttle to a whole strip of beaches. At first it was a bit overwhelming as everyone tried to get you to go to their beach but once we picked a spot at Mahahual beach and got settled it was amazing. We had massages on the beach which were incredible....Well it was incredible for Lisette, Jeremy and I! Poor John had a 14  year old boy give him his massage!!!! He thought the heavy set Hispanic women with strong hands was going to massage him but she came to me and the scrawny teenage boy went to John hahaha!!!! All in all the day was great...well except for the sun burns we left with.

white sandy beaches & warm water in Costa Maya

Day #5 Roatan, Honduras

I absolutely loved Roatan!!! It is now on my bucket list to go and spend a few days in his beautiful city. We spent the day at Tabyana beach and it was truly breathtaking. We laid out, went snorkeling (the sea life was breath taking) and enjoyed the delicious food on the island. This was my favorite stop of the trip!!!

Day #6 Cozumel, Mexico

Our last stop was Cozumel. We stopped in Cozumel on our last cruise almost 2 years ago, so I knew this was the spot to shop! Mexico is known for its beautiful silver & you can get great deals on fresh water pearls, so I knew I wanted to bring back gifts for everyone who watched our girls from Cozumel. I saved all my shopping for this stop and I was not disappointed in my finds ;) We spent most of the day shopping in downtown and then Lisette drug us deep into the city to find the Mercado (I was the only blonde to be found!) haha We ate at a yummy local spot called Machetes and then of course we had to stop at Senior Frogs before getting back on the boat. This was a busy day full of adventure and some walking, walking & walking.


Day #7 Last Day at Sea

By the evening of Day #6 I was pretty ready to go home and see my babies. I almost cried when I thought about another full day of being away from my girls but then I reminded myself that this was going to be my last full day of relaxation for I don't know how long. Although I could have done without this last day it was a wonderful day of relaxing! We ate at the buffets, laid out, ate some more and then got all dressed up for our last dinner in the beautiful Sapphire dining room

Were we ate dinner every night

If I were to sum up this trip in one word, the word would be "refreshing" which I mentioned a bit in the begining of this post. I've said it before, but our life has been beyond crazy this past year. I spend my days with an on the go 1 year old and a non stop 2 year old! I wouldn't trade my beautiful mess of a life for anything but I really did need a small break from it all & some alone time with my hubby. I came back home after these 7 days refreshed & re-charged and ready to dive back in to mommy-hood and everything else! I can not wait until our next get away, although after everything our girls put our family through it may be a little long while....hahaha 

hasta luego paradise