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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Let me catch you up!

Hello all!

It has been perhaps the busiest 3 weeks in past memory and I am so excited to be winding down school and heading out on Mexican cruise next Monday! I need some R and R and am looking forward to some fun in the sun!

It's been a while since my trip to New York, but I have to share some highlights with my adoring public, right? Here's the rundown with a few pics...

Joe and I celebrated anniversary #2 in NYC the 18th-23rd of November. That Sunday we did the typical things....walked the city, ate hotdogs in the park, marvelled at the big piano in FAO Shwartz.

Monday was our actual anniversary. We spent the day freezing our butts off at the statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and walked from the pier all the way up through Ground Zero, the Financial District, SoHo and into Grenich Village. It was quite a trek! Finally we jumped on the subway and headed back the hotel. For dinner, my folks sent us to Tavern on the Green and we finished the day at the Empire State Bldg. It was such a fantastic day!

Tuesday was spend at the Natural History Museum (of NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM fame) and then went up to Harlem to eat Soul Food and visit the Apollo. (Joe said even HE was surprised at how many black people there were around. :) The museum was really incredible and there are more things I could say about it than I would ever have room to write. If you ever get to go, you should...it's like the zoo, but all the animals are always out. They also had a great display on the Gola tribe from Liberia, my father-in-law's tribe!
Tuesday night we saw "Young Frankenstein" with Megan Mullally, Roger Bart, Sutton Foster and Andrea Martin. It was great fun! Especially since we were sitting next to a fellow FWISD teacher. (what are the odds?)

Wednesday we went shopping on Canal Street and Soho. We met our family friend for lunch a cuban restaurant and took the NBC studio tour, where we got to see where they film Conan and SNL. We tried to get out the balloon inflations for the parade, but we were too late. No biggie tho...we were eating with one of Joe's clients at Hard Rock Times Square and had our meal comped. (She knows the manager. It was pretty awesome! We had a GREAT time!)
Ah, and Thursday...the big event...the MACYS PARADE!!! It was SO much fun!!!! I can't begin to tell you how awesome it was! It's my single favorite thing I have ever done in my life! No exaggeration! We had to be at MACYs at 545 am to get into costume. We were clothed, made-up, and bused over to Central Park by 7. Then we just wait and watch. We were close enough to touch most of the GIANT balloon. (Doras foot is bigger than my car.) We saw celebrities (Hairspray cast, the new Meneudo, Dolly Parton, Mayor Bloomberg, Ashley Tisdale, Neo, etc.) But the best part was actulally walking down Broadway those 3 miles. When you hear, "Cowboy clowns, JOIN THE PARADE!!!" on the speakers, it was just mayhem the whole way! Laughing, cheering, little faces pressed against windows as high up as you could look. We passed over 3 million viewers. It was incredible! Kids hug you, people beg to take a picture with you...so fun! After the parade, we met another of Joe's friends for lunch and cheesecake and then took a well deserved nap. For Thanksgiving dinner, we ate with our family friend, Reagan, and his friends. We felt very out of place, but very cool at the same time. :) We were with 27 strangers in a Manhattan apartment for about 3 hours. Everyone was very "new york" and we were more impressed with each person we met....the Disney cruise execs, the director of the parade, the founder of Camp Broadway.... It was an amazing experience that I wish I could have EVERY SINGLE THANKSGIVING!

Friday we walked the streets and enjoyed our last moments before flying to Austin to meet my family at my grandparents. It was just the best trip and such a blessing to share with my best friend- Joe. I love having such amazing memories with my sweet husband.
There is so much more to tell and so many more pics, but I'll spare you. This has been a LONG post, so I'll shut up, but look for a post abotu Mel's weddign soon...it was so great to see some of you!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Ho ho ho!

More news to come on New York and Thanksgiving fun. In the meantime...enjoy this holiday cheer!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

News to know...

Monday is my 2nd anniversary with Joe. Can you believe it's been that long? Its hard to believe that I have been with my sweetie for 704 days now... I am so proud to be married to such a godly, wonderful man who loves me so much.
That sweet boy is taking me on yet another wonderful anniversary trip this year. As you remember, last year we went to Santa Fe for the week and enjoyed the mountains, great food and art. This year we are off to the Big Apple for 5 fun filled days! We'll be eating at Serendipity, skating inCentral Park, seeing Young Frankenstein (the new Mel Brooks Musical) and last, but not least...MARCHING IN THE MACY'S PARADE! We got our assignments last week...we will be western clowns! I am so excited! Look for us on TV! I don't know when or where we are in the parade, and may not know until I arrive at the parade site. But it doesn't matter...I'm going to be in the parade! Hooray!!! Look for many pictures and stories in a couple of weeks because this is going to be a trip to remember!

In other news...Joe was offered a promotion yesterday at Penson. It is a small step up, but gives him quite a bit more responsibility and people who report directly to him. It's kind of a lower management position over the department he's been in the past 3 years. No, this does not mean we are abandoning the moving plan. This actually will be a good stepping stone to a better job for him. AND...it will make the meantime much better for us too. Better job, better money, happier husband who is finally being rewarded for his hard work.

Happy Thanksgiving all! I'll leave you with my Dad's classic song...THE TURKEY SONG...

A Turkey sat on a backyard fence and this is the song that he sang:
Thanksgiving Day is coming
Gobble gobble gobble gobble
And I know I'll be eaten soon.
Gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble
I would like to run away.
Gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble
I don't like Thanksgiving Day! Hey!!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

movin on up?

So...Joe has begun to apply for new jobs and I am looking at school districts around the state. I think we are really going to do this...pick up and move! It's a crazy thought, but one I am really excited about!
Most of the jobs he is applying for right now are in Houston, so...if you live in the Houston area, give me some pointers. Where do you live? Where do we need to look/steer clear of/etc? Of course, nothing is set in stone, but we're trying to get a jump on things in case something pans out.
Keep us in your prayers. We are really wanting a major change and believe that this is what we need to do for our future family. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

breaking up is hard to do...

Sad news...
My best friend these days, Amy Tindell...is leaving. She's moving away and breaking my poor little heart. When I moved to Joe's church, and even after we were married for a while, I felt like I had given up all my girlfriends. I had no one I saw on a regular basis, no one to be silly with, no one who really knew me anymore. Until Amy came around. She was meant to be in my life from the very beginning, I'm convinced! We think alike, laugh at the same stupid stuff and have the same drive and passions. She is the most like a sister I have ever found. Her dad did my wedding ceremony, we travelled across the world together this summer, and were looking forward to one day raising our children together. Along the way, Amy and Brian became our closest friends. In fact, we spend every Thursday night with them, eating dinner, watching those awesome NBC shows and laughing about any and everything. What a blessing to have people like that in your life!
But her husband has a fantastic opportunity to work in Glenrose and can't turn it down. So Amy will no longer be working, and will be moving to Granbury in March. I'm so sad for myself and so happy for them and their future there. I will miss my friend so much...

But when Amy was over breaking the news to me last night, I discovered I can record 3 different shows on my new DVR AT THE SAME TIME! I told Amy that maybe my TV will be my new best friend. :)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Homecoming fun...

Well, last year it was homecoming that inspired me to begin blogging as so many of my ACU friends do. So here we are a year later and I am still typing away! Things that have changed in the past 365 days? Not much. Same house, same job, same church, same cute husband! :) And luckily...same homecoming fun with 3 of my favorite people...Jamie, Brent and Jeremy!

This year is different though, because BRENT IS ENGAGED! Yep, I had met her already, but Jamie and Jeremy had not, so Brentifer (as they call themselves) came in from Florida so we could all get to know Jenny. She's adorable! She's a nurse, grew up attending church and has a great family (from what I hear). It's fun seeing Brent with someone...I wish the same for all my friends! We gave Jamie a hard time all weekend since Jeremy has a girlfriend, Brent is engaged and I'm married. Now that I think about it...that's really funny! Each one of us is in a different relationship status. Hmmmm....

Anyways, we will all be going to Florida in May for Brent's wedding (yes, Jeremy, you have to go). It's sad to know the 4 of us won't be together again for so long, but weekends like this one made it worthwhile. Here's some pics from the weekend.

"The greatest homecoming on earth"

Jamie, me and Jenny trapped in the animal cages...

Preying Mantises....(check out our new blog mantises.... http://gata1998.blogspot.com/ for our reunion next year!!!

At the game....we lost:(

Three of my favorite wildcats...."who could ask for anything MOWER?"

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My Man
I haven't been tagged for this...but how can I pass up the chance to tell you about my sweet Joey?

The name of the game: All about my MAN

The Game of Tag about your MAN:
1. Who is your man? Joseph Abu Varney
2. How long have you been together? 3 years in December since we started dating, 2 years in November since we were married
3. How long did you date? less than 2 before we knew we'd get married, almost 6 before we were engaged, 11 before we were married
4. How old is your man? 28
5. Who eats more? Joe
6. Who said "I love you" first? he did, I knew I wanted to, but it was such a big thing for us to actually say...I waited for him to first
7. Who is taller? Joe
8. Who sings better? Joe...he leads singing at Sunday night church, sings at weddings and funerals...I've even had people ask why he never tried out for American Idol. Jamie and I tried to get him to try for Sing Song host our senior year. He's an amazing tenor.
9. Who is smarter? I joke that I am, but he's pretty sharp!
10. Whose temper is worse? Both of us are pretty easy going. I tend to get upset when I'm stressed. Joe gets upset when he's pushed too far.
11. Who does the laundry? I wash, he helps fold and put away. He also does his own ironing.
12. Who takes out the garbage? Joe
13. Who sleeps on the right side of the bed? Joe
14. Who pays the bills? he does. I handle the mortgage, he handles the rest
15. Who is better with the computer? depends on why you are using it. Joe's job in on computers so he's pretty savvy
16. Who mows the lawn? Joe. I tell people that's the real reason I got married...so I don't have to mow anymore!
17. Who cooks dinner? Usually me, but Joe is very good at cooking a number of things.
18. Who drives when you are together? usually Joe, but not always in his car. He likes driving mine.
19. Who pays when you go out? We take turns since we still have separate accounts
20. Who is most stubborn? Me. Joe calls it "testing him" when I act that way
21. Who is the first to admit when they are wrong? Usually Joe. I don't like admitting that...
22. Whose parents do you see the most? Joe's since they live in the same city as us and go to church with us too
23. Who kissed who first? He kissed me after the longest 2 weeks EVER. I wanted to kiss him that first day we were "official," but I was scared to death that it would be weird.
24. Who asked who out? That depends on how you look at it. He told me that he wanted us to pursue a dating relationship in May that year. I said no. He took me to his Xmas party at work in December and I decided I wanted to be with him. The next day I told him and we've been together ever since.
25. Who proposed? Joe
26. Who is more sensitive? Me, but Joe is a big teddy bear
27. Who has more friends? Joe...EVERYONE LOVES HIM!
28. Who has more siblings? Joe, he has a twin brother and a little brother
29. Who wears the pants in the family? I'd say me, he'd say him. I think I probably make more decisions for us, but in major stuff it's always a two way street

Friday, October 05, 2007

Updates and Random Thoughts

It's been way too long since I posted! My life is officially crazy, so let me catch you up...

1. School is in full swing and I have found myself facilitating art inservice, writing even more curriculum, mentoring a new art teacher, not to mention teaching little ones all day long. Don't get me wrong...I still love it....just keeps me busy!
2. Joe and I are toying with the idea of leaving the metroplex. I have been unhappy with our church situation for a while now and am ready for a change. Being that it is Joe's childhood home church, it'd be easier to leave if we really LEAVE. It's also exciting to think of starting our life as a family somewhere new where we are the Varneys...not just Joe Varney and his wife.
3. Our church (while we're on the subject) just hired a new preacher. It was a quick turnaround (as we lost our preacher just this past July.) It's a big transition time for the congregation.
4. Everyone I know is getting married! We have showers all the time and are attending weddings non-stop! Joe has been in 2 already this year (one more next weekend) and I am in one in December (YAY MEL!) But we have been in attendance at countless mroe. Whew!
5. Summer is gone and my shows are back! Hooray! Do you watch the Office? It's been great the past 2 weeks! How bout 30 ROCK? Easily the funniest show on TV. Jamie's right on that one....you need to start watching it. Also, we are now hooked on Heroes....I love it!

That's the quick 411. Sorry for the long spurt with no bloggin! I'll try to be better!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

selling a house...

Questions for home owners who have sold a house...
How much cost is there involved from the seller's end?
Is it worthwhile to move to a bigger place, with a VERY low cost simply for resale value?
How do you know what your house is worth?

There's lots more where that came from. There is a house that is MASSIVE at the end of our block. It is well over twice the size of ours and the price the real estate guy said they'd take for it is only $10,000 more than the cost of our house (as listed on our property taxes.) So in theory, if we could sell our house for that price, we could own a much bigger, nicer one in our neighborhood for very little change in our mortgage payment. My concerns are many about this, but....I'm wanting to look simply at numbers right now. The bigger house is worth much more than the asking price, but it has been marked down significantly due to the amount of time it's been on the market. Is it wise to consider this? The real estate man has been bending my ear about it for a few weeks. That they could sell our house for us, enabling us to buy this larger one. (Yes, I know this contradicts the moving somewhere else in Texas, but we are pursuing all options at this point.) What do you think?
Oh, and by the way....this house is AMAZING! Never been lived in, brand new!

tagged by Jamie

Here's my answers to Jamie's tagged questions:
1. What does your favorite t-shirt say?
Well, I can't really think what my favorite t-shirt is. My most comfortable one is Joe's old softball jersey. I used to sleep in it when we were dating because it smelled like him...it says "Haterade."
2. What's your favorite sport to watch?
I like basketball....Mavericks in particular. (hope they don't let me down again like THE LAST 2 YEARS!!!)
3. What's your favorite season of the year?
Summer...I'm not working then!
4. What was your favorite event as a child?
Either summer camp or fourth of July. The 4th was a big deal in our family. We spent it with our best family friends and it was a early morning to late night party. Water balloons, brisket, homemade ice-cream and fireworks...great fun! And who doesn't love summer camp?
5. Name 3 things you would like to accomplish in your lifetime.
Some of you know that I have a list of things I want to do before I die. I'm well on my way to check them off. I'll give you 3...
a. Set foot in all 50 states (I have been to 37 so far).
b. Meet a current or former president.
c. Write a children's book.
**A couple I'm proud to have accomplished....sing on a broadway stage, skate in Rockerfellar Center, stand at the top of the Eiffel Tower, paint in Europe, watch a sunrise and sunset in the same day, buy a house....

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Click to view my Personality Profile page

Let's say....

#1 Let's say that Joe and I were thinking of leaving the metroplex. Let's say we're looking around for where to go....what would you suggest? What are some good places in Texas that are close to big cities and have good school systems....Let's say we could work out moving out of state. Where should we be? Where would we find a good church, cooler climate, etc? Give me some advice, and I'll clue you in on the Varney future forecast.

#2 Let's say it was hard to lose weight. (cuz it is). Let's say someone invented a REAL chewing gum like Willy Wonka's that is a 3 course meal. Wouldn't that be awesome! I have realized that I love the flavor of food and am more concerned with the taste than if it is filling. If I could have gum that tasted like foods I love with just a fraction of the calories...that would be awesome! So pass that along to some entrepreneur out there. Oh...and tell the to fix the dessert. Wonka screwed that part up and turned Violet into a blueberry! ("Violet! You're turning violet, Violet!")

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Still not ready to blog on the remainder of my trip just yet. I'll get there...just not today.

I was just reading my posts from when I first started blogging and laughing at what was going on last year. I was just beginning to teach art and was so excited to be there at last! This new year is bringing a lot of new challenges my way. We have new curriculum (which of course I've seen and helped write), a whole new administration in my bldg (new principal, ap, instructional specialist AND literacy coach), new bilingual program entering my school, AND around 12 new teachers. In my 6 years at this school we have lost less than 10 in all. So to lose 12 in one year is brutal. It's going to be a different school completely. I'm anxious to see what will happen, nervous a little, but really excited to enter this year as an experienced art teacher.
School starts for me on Monday and the kiddos come back the following Monday. Hopefully the transitions will be easy...

Monday, August 06, 2007

100 things about me

Read Jamie's and Leslie's blogs on themselves and thought it would be fun to attempt. (I promise I'll blog about the rest of my trip soon.)

1. I am a twin.
2. I was considerably bigger than my twin brother at birth because I hogged all the food.
3. I'm married to a twin.
4. I have only ever had one pet that belonged to me. A dog named Brunswick.
5. I played the piano for 6 years.
6. My dad gave me the piano he bought for me in 1st grade this summer.
7. I have a minor in art.
8. I went to state for drawing in high school.
9. I played varsity volleyball for 2 years.
10. We won state both of them.
11. I quit for my senior year.
12. I was a manager and we won state again.
13. I was supposed to fly overseas on September 11th.
14. My flight never left.
15. I didn't fly until March of the next year.
16. I have had 2 roommates named Jamie (jaime) and they now live together.
17. I have been to 13 countries outside the US.
18. I have never been to Canada or Mexico.
19. I was on a plane that made an emergency landing in a foreign country when I was 13.
20. I've been to Alaska twice.
21. I have a goal to set foot in all 50 states. I have managed about 37 so far.
22. The week I bought my car, I put 3000 miles on it driving to and from Vegas.
23. I took a road trip with my dad to Montana when I was 23.
24. My mom and I go to Santa Fe every summer.
23. I think Santa Fe has the best food in the world.
24. Joe and I went there for our 1 year anniversary and went to a spa.
25. Since I was 9, I've known that I wanted to be an art teacher.
26. I just completed my first year as an art teacher.
27. I was offered a job as a children's minister this summer.
28. I couldn't walk away from the job I've wanted for 20 years tho.
29. I teach over 600 students a week.
30. I know all of their names.
31. I was punched in the face by a kindergartener the first week of school last year.
32. Another kindergartener threw an easel at me.
33. I have the largest classroom in my school.
34. I will be doing training the year at inservice.
35. I wrote the new 1st grade art curriculum for my district.
36. I co-wrote the new PK curriculum too.
37. I was approved for a house loan to build our house before I was engaged.
38. Joe proposed to me 2 days before school got out for summer so I could show off my ring at work.
39. I had the most fun wedding imaginable!
40. I practiced my karaoke song with the bridesmaids until late the night before.
41. I never once got nervous or thought about how many people were there during the wedding.
42. My dad warned me not to trip and embarrass him right before we went in.
43. He tripped on my dress right after that.
44. We laughed the whole walk down the aisle.
45. Joe and I were supposed to sing AINT NO MOUNTAIN together at the reception, but the words were never on the screen.
46. We hadn't practiced EVER>
47. We were at the reception for just 1 1/2 hours.
48. We never made it past the front of the stairwell to talk to people.
49. My friend Lauren tried to kill people to catch my bouquet.
50. We went to Vermont for our honeymoon.
51. We were the only guests in our hotel/cabin area.
52. It snowed 8 inches while we were there.
53. I cook dinner every night for my husband.
54. My specialty is Shepherd's Pie.
55. I also make good potato rolls.
56. I love Rachel Raye.
57. I cooked out of her cookbooks the first year we were married, almost every day.
58. I like watching Paula Dean on Food Network.
59. I've never made one of her recipes.
60. I think they might kill you from the shear volume of butter and cream.
61. I love dark chocolate.
62. Melanie gave me a hatbox full of differnet dark chocolates for my birthday one year.
63. It took Joe and I 8 months to eat it all.
64. I read the last Harry Potter book as soon as it came out.
65. I think it's the 2nd best of the series.
66. Prisoner of Askaban is my favorite. (book 3)
67. I love musical theater!
68. I've seen Les Miserables 5 times and in 4 different venues- New York, Lubbock, Dallas, London.
69. I've seen productions of well over 40 shows.
70. The Hairspray soundtrack has been playing in my car since before I left for Ukraine.
71. I equate Penny and Seaweed with me and Joe.
72. A lyric from a song they sing is engraved in the watch I gave Joe as a wedding gift.
73. It says, "to my Black White Knight." Penny sings, "Seaweed, you're my black white knight, I've found my blue eyed soul!"
74. Joe and I saw 2 interracial shows the weekend we went to Hairspray in Dallas- (it was the weekend Guess Who with Ashton Kutcher opened.)
75. I watch LOST faithfully.
76. I DID watch ALIAS faithfully until it got stupid.
77. I'm worried LOST is about to get stupid.
78. I watched every episode of FRIENDS when it originally aired except one.
79. I watched the one where Ross marries Emily in Nelson dorm, in the lobby, on the last night of freshman year.
80. Ross is my favorite character, even tho Joe says he's the one he would punch if he saw him.
81. We watch Thursday night TV with our best friends on a huge screen every week.
82. The Office is my new favorite show.
83. I quote 30 Rock on a regular basis.
84. I voice a puppet named Dena (named from Dreamgirls) and an alien puppet named Capt. Carol for Bible Hour.
85. I can't dance.
86. I'm embarrassed to try to learn to dance with Joe because he laughs when I try.
87. I can bike 15 miles pretty easily.
88. I can't swim well because I'm scared of getting water up my nose.
89. I've never attempted a dive.
90. I had an above ground pool when I was a kid.
91. The doll I always played with was named Bambo.
91. I think she is the ugliest doll taht was ever created.
92. My mom used to let me buy real diapers for her.
93. I went to LCU camps but went to ACU, and my brother went to ACU camps, but went to LCU.
94. I was a counselor at ACU camps with Jamie M., who I had met at those same camps 10 years earlier.
95. I was a youth intern in Denton after I graduated.
96. I lived with Melanie longer than anyone else outside of my family.
97. I have 16 mosquito bites on me at this moment.
98. I watch Days of our Lives every day in the summer.
99. I already know the names of my future children.
100. I blog because I like to read my own posts...even if no one else does!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

People in the Mariupol church

There are more people I met than I can possibly go through in one blog. But I'll do my best!

This is Amy and the preacher, Alexander. He goes by Sasha and is unusual for a Ukrainian...he has a great sense of humor! He and Alisha were always cutting up, him in broken English and her in indistinguishable Russian. He was constantly getting on to us for reading Harry Potter since it is a pagan book about sorcery. He was kidding of course, as his wife revealed later that he LOVES the Harry Potter movies. :)

Speaking of her, this is Irina, Sasha's wife. She cooked for us every day and tried so hard to communicate with us. The last Thursday I was there, she had all of us over for dinner and cooked an amazing meal of Ukrainian dishes. She was a real servant to us.

These are my boys...and one girl. We did a VBS the last week I was there and we had 4 children come. Anton, Edic, Slavic and Oksana. Anton came and read with me everyday to work on his English (out of children's books, of course) and Oksana helped us clean, set tables and do work like that around the church almost every day.

I also spent a lot of time with the teens of the congregation. They helped us with VBS (since I don't speak Russian) and hung out with us alot. Here are Valja, Vanja and Sasha (along with Americans Rebecca and Elizabeth) in the "Calming the Storm" Bible skit.
Besides these people, there were so many more. The church bldg is connected to "the center"- an orphanage of sorts. We did many things with the people there as well. Here is a group of us at the beach on the 4th of July. We had a blow-out celebration complete with hotdogs, potato salad and fireworks. Everyone kept telling us "congratulations on your country's birthday." Funny stuff. :)

Needless to say, I have many more pictures and people to show, but you get the idea. We had a large group taking care of us and hanging out with us when we weren't reading English or VBSing. Lastly, I wanted you to meet Tim Burow. His family were missionaries in Ukraine for 6 years with our church. They just moved back last fall to Arlington. I never really knew much about him, but am thrilled I got to be with him so much these past weeks. He is so dedicated and diligent, but is the silliest, goofy gus around! He always had us laughing (despite many things going wrong..more on that tomorrow) and would invent games with us (like Lazyball) and cook dinner for us, not to mention going to the store for food twice a day, everyday. He's great and I hope my congregation appreciates what we have in him and his family.

That's it for today! I'll finish up Ukraine tomorrow and then tell you about my trek around Italy with Amy!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ukraine pt 1

My time in Ukraine went by very slowly at first. I was there to teach English, and very few readers were coming. My first day I had one. She never came back. My second day I had one- who returned over and over and I feel was my reason for being in Mariupol those 2 weeks.

Her name is Maria and she is Russian Orthodox. As we read through the book of Luke and discussed in broken English what we found in the text, Maria and I became friends. She was familiar with the stories in the Bible, but did not understand them fully and was full of questions. I found myself being able to share my faith for the first time in a long time with stranger.

On my last day there, Maria wanted to take me somewhere- her church. I thought this was a fantastic idea, as it gave us lots of one on one time to talk AND I would get to hear more about her religion in the process.

We spent the entire morning walking through town to this massive church, unlike anything I'd seen in Mariupol. It was in a giant courtyard overlooking the city. Look at the diffenence from the Church of Christ we worked at.

Maria and I ended our time together by finishing the book of Luke and exchanging gifts. She gave me a pitcher and two small cups made of clay that are used to serve coffee or tea. They are each hand made and a Ukrainian villiage is carved into the sides. I gave her a Bible and a Dave Crowder Band CD.

In all, I ended up with 4 readers. Svitlana only came the one time on the first day. Jayne came once (she was my friend Emily's student who I took for just one lesson.) Juleo, a recent high school graduate, came twice. She was very interested in being in tourism, but knew there was no market for it in Mariupol, so is going to university to be a customs/passport officer at the border. And Maria, of course, was my one constant reader. Our days were spent sitting in the foyer reading, talking with church members, or walking to the market to get drinks. Not what I had expected, but still an enjoyable trip.

More tomorrow on the people of the church in Mariupol, Ukraine.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

News to come...

Hello all! I am back from my 22 day adventure of Europe and am anxious to tell you all about it! However, I have literally over 1000 pics to sift through, not to mention deciding how to consolidate all that's happened into a blog that is short enough you might actually read it! So...I've decided to break it into parts. I will post once a day for this entire week and you can choose what parts you care about...hopefully all of them!

But the short of it is- my trip was amazing and I am so thankful to have been able to go, even though it meant heartbreakingly missing my husband. I will send more tomorrow, but until then, here is a pic from my time in Ukraine.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

postcard anyone?

I am leaving in 4 days and I feel like I am in countdown mode. Nothing going on but waiting at this point. If you would like a postcard from the other side of the world, please send me your address and I will add you to my list! rachelvarney@sbcglobal.net

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

where I'm headed....

Well, faithful and not so faithful readers, I am about to embark on my next grand adventure. A week from Friday I am leaving for Mariupol, Ukraine to teach English with Friend Speak and, yes, some friends as well. I will be travelling with 3 other girls (from the Ukraine Touch This shirt pics) and we will be there for 14 days. Here's where I'm headed:

I am meeting a group that has already departed for Ukraine and, I'm told, took right at 24 hours to make their journey from the states. WHEW! Long weekend next week! I am looking forward to doing some outreach/mission work as it has been quite a while since I was on a Spring Break campaign back at ACU. My friend Tanya is already there and has had some very encouraging news about readers, etc. so far.
At the end of my time in Ukraine, I will be journeying on with Amy to Italy for 6 days. We will be strolling the streets of Rome and Florence and taking a new little excursion out to Sorrento and Pompei. Here's what I have to look forward to there:
I am so excited to be away and across the pond once more, but I am getting sad to leave my Joey for so long. We talk at least 5 times a day when one of us is out of town and that will be out of the question in Europe. I'll miss him greatly....but how can I pass up an opportunity like this one?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Mural Take 2

This is a photograph and my sketch for the second mural at our school. It is considerably more complicated than the first.
I didn't think I would like this one, but it turned out better than the aquarium! Which do you like best?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

More paints...

Don't get mad Jamie, but I've been painting more things that are not your picture of Venice. Sorry!

My principal has been asking me for about 6 months to paint two murals at my school. During school it sounded like too much work, but she agreed to help me with it if we worked on it this summer. Hooray! Unfortunately, she is no help, other than to point out what she wants different, but I do have another teacher friend to shoulder the workload and we surprisinly had a lot of fun today.

We planned yesterday and I got JoAnn's to give us a 20% discount on paint. We rummaged thru the art closet and found supplies, and even a bucket of blue house paint from a couple of years ago. (still good! being a packrat is paying off finally!)

Today we worked for about 4 hours (an hour of which was paint drying time) and ended up with this:

That's Sharon painting the big fish there. She helps me with Art Club and has become a really close friend at work over the past 3 years. Couldn't have done this without her!
Next week we are doing the other pole on the opposite side of the school with a outdoor/park scene. But how could it compare with this cutie?
See how much it brightens the drab hallway? I hate to admit it, but my principal was right...it's a great addition!

Friday, June 01, 2007

A New Addition to the Fam

After one and a half years of marriage, Joe and I have added something important into our lives...my childhood piano! Mom and Dad had put it in storage when I went to college so it has been stored away for about 10 years now. It still sounds beautiful and looks just like I remember it. Dad bought it for me when I was about 7 and began taking piano lessons. I remember the first flowers anyone ever gave me were my daddy sending me roses for my first recital. It was funny when I got up this morning and came around the corner. Yipes! What's that big thing in my living room? Oh yeah, it's my piano! We still need to get it tuned and find that bench with all my music in it. And I need to brush up on chords and notes, but I'm really excited about having it in MY home now.

The road to getting the piano was a bit sticky (the delivery men came 2 days late and I literally waited all day yesterday for them until almost 8pm). And a kink was thrown into my excitement when our garage door decided to pull apart and trap my poor car inside last night. But, in reality, nothing can take away from the joy of this piano. It's like someone just plucked up a piece of my childhood and laid it at my door.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Jeremy's Big Night

I know it is odd to Blog about someone other than myself, that isn't even related to me, but thought some of my readers might be interested in this.
Those of you who know Jeremy Hailey, check out this link:
Click on JUNGLE BOOK on the homepage and see pics from Jeremy's big night.

If you don't know already, Jeremy is the arts and music man in smalltown Texas now and did a Disney-written musical of THE JUNGLE BOOK this past spring. Jamie and I wanted to go for his big debut, but it was on a Tuesday (how odd is that??) on the last week of school. I rarely hear from Jeremy, but have heard from him several times since the play about the response. His hard work paid off as the superintendent said, "It was the highlight of my educational career." Looks like the kids had fun and from what I hear, some reps from Disney even came to check it out. Wish we could've been there to show our support too!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

painting again

It's been a while since I got in a artistic frenzy. With painting, drawing and coloring all day every day, it has turned my relaxing art-time into work. But the past weekend, I have been in a frenzy! At the Ukraine garage sale I bought 6 chairs for $15. I decided to make a little profit and sell them to teachers at school as reading chairs, painted to order. (Ahh, remember that black and white set Jamie? Christina?)

In college I painted a table and 5 chairs in bright colors with black and white checks around the edges. CUTE! I sold the set to Chris when she got married and kept one chair for myself. (It still sits in my classroom and has been given the name "RAINBOW CHAIR." It has served me well for 6 years now!

When I was student teaching, I made one for my supervising teacher as well. Blue with stars all over it. But since then, haven't done a one. But this weekend, I did 2 and have orders for 3 more! Hooray! What a fun way to make a little extra cash! Let me show you what I did so far:

I think they are pretty cute! I LOVE the bumble bee one! I have orders for a pink leopard print, an aquatic, and a children 'round the world one. I am so excited to do these! What else would make a good kids' chair theme???

Monday, May 14, 2007


For those of you just catching up on the Varney life, let me tell you about my next great adventure....Mission Ukraine!
I am going with a small group from church to Mariupol, Ukraine this June to teach English in the LST model...teach English by way of the gospels. I am erally excited because 3 of my best girlfriends from the young married group are going also, so we are now a little posse of fundraising fiends!
This past Saturday we had a garage sale to raise some money. Joe and one of his pals had passed along a little pun we enjoyed so we turned it into a t-shirt opportunity. See if you can figure out what the back of the shirt says before scrolling on...

NEED A HINT? That's MC Hammer bustin' a move right there!

Come on, think! THINK MC HAMMER SONGS!

Here's a group pic before I get to the punchline...

You ready for this??? Here's the back:

Awesome, right? I know..we are SO FUNNY!

But seriously, we got some much needed money for our flights and Amy (gal in purple) and I are working hard on some other plans that coincide. She and I are going to take a little detour on the way home and tour Italy for a week. I know, Mel...can't be jealous of anyone else getting to travel EVER again, right? I know. But better take advantage before there are little Varneys to contend with. Just making good use of my time!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

ode to a musical

Piggy-backing off of Amy's blog, I have to add my ode to musicals.

Musicals and me...we have quite a history. From the musical I was supposed to sing "ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS MY TWO FRONT TEETH" in first grade in, to my summer ahead, filled with musical theater...SIGH....it's been a good run. :)

I'm proud to say that my parents instilled in me the value of musical theater and took me to my first Broadway play at the age of 13. (It was Crazy For You, incidentally. Mom and Dad were in theater in college and starred as Lucy and Shroder in YOUR A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN.) Ever since I sat eye to eye with Javer in LES MISERABLES 15 years ago, I have been mesmerized with the genre.

Some are just fun to see like HAIRSPRAY and MAMMA MIA. Some give you a gut wrenching heartache like WEST SIDE STORY or LES MIS. But the ones I truly love are the ones with music so over-powering, they make my eyes water. The opening song in THE LION KING, Effie's song in DREAMGIRLS, Defying Gravity in WICKED. There are just some moments that move you beyond words. Amy and I have talked about this many times...it's something inexplicable: how music can move you to emotions that nothing else can.

And I have so many memories tied up in them now. Seeing LION KING on my backpacking trip to Europe. Taking my youth group kids to LES MIS the summer I was an intern. Sitting with Mel in NY watching Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane in THE PRODUCERS. Or even sitting at home (again with Mel) watching CALAMITY JANE or HOLIDAY INN.

Guess that's why I love musicals so much...they connect with something in my heart. So whether it be a musical beating like HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL or OKLAHOMA, or a masterpiece like PHANTOM OF THE OPERA or CHICAGO, buy me a ticket on the front row...I want to be a part!

**Some Favorite Musical Lines...just a few...
  • "I've got a hive full of honey, for the right kind of honeybee."
  • "In my ivory tower I was just a hostess snack ,but now I've tasted chocolate and I"m never going back."
  • "He had it comin'."
  • "Measure your life in love."
  • "The world is full of happiness that I have never known."

What's your favorite?

Monday, April 30, 2007

How bout them Mavericks....Warriors?

Is anyone as bummed as me? Game 3 I couldn't even watch and then game 4 they just blow in the 4th quarter? AND WHAT IS UP WITH DIRK??? I can't believe that he is pulling the same crap as last year! Where is our team!?!?!?

Monday, April 23, 2007

So much to tell, so little time...

I'll try to make this short and sweet, but I have so much to share!!!
1. Joe and I found this amazing trail to go biking in! I went 3 days in a row last week! It's this really long ride through wooded areas, back behind amazing homes and you pop out clear on the other side of Arlington at another park! I cannot even express in words the joy I have found in bike riding. What a great way to exercise, be in nature and have some quiet to pray! We are going with our friends tonight again!
2. On our first bike excursion, one of Joe's pedals fell off! He had to wait at a gas station while I rode back, loaded my bike up, and drove to come get him. Poor guy!
3. I have decided NOT to apply for Children's Minister. There are too many things that are wonderful about my current job and too many questionable issues with ministry at my church. Besides money, there's benefits, retirement, my father-in-law/elder, decline in membership in the past 12 months, etc. It's just too risky and I don't feel I'm being led there right now. So no sad faces...more art to come!
4. And on that note...Here is the real fun from life this past week: THE MAIN STREET FORT WORTH ARTS FESTIVAL! The city of FW paid for students in FWISD to have their own booths to sell art this year : a first in the history of the festival. My kids had 2 booths from 3-6 on Saturday and we had so much fun! I found a printer in our neighborhood who donated $1000 worth of goods and services for this! HOORAY! He made us greeting cards and posters and the results were AMAZING. Here are a couple of my favorite pieces.
We sold the cards 5 to a set with each card being different. Everything was $10, and , here's the great part, the kids get ALL THE MONEY! I had 2 who made over $100 each! It was really funny to watch them evolve into salesmen. They would go up to people and say, "I painted this! Do you like it? You want to buy it?" Those little doe eyes and people forked out the cash. It was great fun! I can't wait for next year!!!