Monday, September 29, 2014

Weekend

I have absolutely no pictures of this past weekend. Just none. But I was looking through old photos this morning and found this gem of Hannah and Leah that made my heart explode and my eyes well up.

Sisters 
Summer 2009
I. Am. Dying.

Now with that cuteness overload, here's a weekend recap for ya.

* Mike had the day off on Friday, so he and I ran some errands and then picked the kids up from school. We took them to one of their favorite pizza places for dinner and then home where we watched a movie for our traditional family movie night. Perfect evening except I was coughing myself to death throughout dinner and the movie. 

* Saturday we got up and around and headed to Lucas' soccer game at 9:30. I woke up feeling like my lungs weighed 500 pounds and I could only breathe in shallow breaths. Not good. I made it through the game, then dropped my family off at home and drove myself to a weekend clinic. I was running a fever and after seeing the doctor was diagnosed with bronchitis. He sent me home with antibiotics and prescription cough syrup. I got home and Mike made me some hot tea and sent me to bed to take a nap. Bless him. I woke up fever free and decided we could proceed with the plans to have dinner at our friends' house that night. After a quick trip to the grocery store to gather some ingredients (I was in charge of an appetizer and dessert), I whipped up our food, got the kids ready and we headed over for dinner. 

*Saturday night proved to be beautiful weather and we spent the majority of our time outside with two other lovely couples and our nine kids total. They ran around like wild things and we ate our dinner al fresco with good conversation. I was careful not to laugh too hard or else I would go into a terrible coughing fit, which proved hard to do with this crew. When the sun had set, we lit a fire in the firepit and had some s'mores while the kids played flashlight tag in the dark. We were home and kids all asleep by 10:00.

*Sunday morning Mike and I were scheduled to work in the kids' room at church, and even though I was still not feeling 100%, I felt we should follow through with our committment. I ended up teaching a 4th and 5th grade girls' small group and we had a great discussion and a lot of fun. Sunday afternoon I napped again, and then we gathered up the family once more for our community group meeting. The kids played outside and got incredibly sweaty, and by the time we got home, they had counted about 10 mosquito bites per leg per kid. That's what happens when you spend a lot of time outdoors on a warm fall weekend! We got home last night and after giving the kids baths and tucking them in, we crashed into bed early before starting a new week.

Luckily this new week is not very busy. I gave myself permission to do absolutley nothing today in an attempt to kick this bronchitis crud to the curb. So far, it's noon and I'm still in my pj's, haven't brushed my teeth, managed to watch two hours of tv, read my book, take a nap, and drink another cup of hot tea. It's been sooooo nice, but I am feeling a little greasy and will likely shower and attempt to fold some laundry or do something low key, but productive. I might even get out and buy myself a jamba juice. What a day! 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

My Busy Days

This last week has been a doozy! First off, I've been sick. Like this is day 14 of me feeling less than great. It started last Sunday (not the one we just had, but the week before that--the 14th I think?). Anyway, I came home from church and felt like I was running a fever, and low and behold I was. A low fever coupled with aches and chills. I popped some Advil and took a nap and felt better. But then Monday I felt the same. And Tuesday was probably worse. Plus I had a heavy, tight feeling in my chest like I was about to be hit with a major upper respiratory thing. And that's just what happened. My fevers went away after Tuesday, but since then I've been left with a hacking cough, extreme fatigue and  barely any voice left. I sound like I've been smoking a pack a day for the last 30 years. I'm sure it's a virus and will run its course, but come on already! Be gone, I tell you!

So, with the upper respiratory plague I have going on, I've been going to bed early and dragging through my days. We shall survive. Even if we are digging wrinkled clean clothes out of the laundry baskets lining my bedroom wall.

Life surely marches on. Like soccer for instance. Lucas started his fall soccer team on September 13th. His team name is the Rangers and so far he's scored two goals in both of his first two games. He LOVES soccer and asks every day "how many sleeps until my next game?"
Lucas after his first soccer game
Our retirement plan is based on him going pro someday.
That's a financially sound plan, right?

School is in full swing mode, no more "easing into the first few weeks." 4th grade has proven to be the year of homework. The girls have at least an hour or more every night. And I might lose my mind. They are generally good in school, but math (like me) is their nemesis. We were working on equivalent fractions the other night and I wanted to run off the nearest cliff. Which would be hard to do considering there are not many cliffs in Oklahoma. But, we made it through and I think they understand them now. I've also been subbing this year since all three of my kids are in school full time. I figured I should put my teaching degree back into good use. In fact, I've accepted a long term sub position at the kids' school starting the week before Thanksgiving and running through the end of February. I'll be teaching pre-k with a lovely teacher's aide while the main teacher is out on maternity leave with her first baby. I'm not sure I'm ready for full time work again, but here goes nothing! It's only temporary though.

Leah at the school's fall carnival last week.
She chose a black cat for her face painting and thankfully it all washed off just fine that night in the bath.  Last year Lucas had his face painted like a green dinosaur and his face was green for a week!
The kids had a blast at the carnival and I'm glad they enjoy their school and their friends so much.

This year, I am also in charge of planning a charity gala for a local non-profit called House of Healing. I got involved with House of Healing after I heard the two women who started it give their testimonies and share their vision for the ministry. They both have a heart for helping teenage girls in crisis and House of Healing runs a mentoring program that focuses on helping both the teenage girl and her mom/grandma/guardian. Eventually, House of Healing wants to provide a residential living center for the girls. Last year was their first fundraising banquet, and my friend Nikki and I were in charge of the silent auction portion of the event. This year, Nikki and I are in charge of the whole event and we are upping the fancy factor and calling it a "gala" this year. The venue is nicer, the food is a little classier and the whole night will be a lot of fun. We are a month away from our event and it is coming down to LOTS of small details. I am learning so much and have enjoyed doing it, but it is a LOT of work!
Our "Save the Date" card that went out about a month ago!

So, that's a little glimpse of what we've been up to here lately!




Monday, September 8, 2014

A Trip to the Ozarks

This past weekend we took a short, but sweet trip just a few hours northeast of us in the Ozark Mountains. I think this area, which covers northeast Oklahoma, northwest Arkansas, and southeast Missouri, is a beautiful place to vacation. The mountains are similar to the Smokies--soft and rolling, full to the brim of green trees, and topped with a cozy white mist. There are sparkling blue lakes and lots of outdoorsy things to do. We vacationed there last year with my dad and stepmom, and had such a good time that we went back for round two this year. On both trips, we stayed at a place called Big Cedar Lodge which is just south of Branson, Missouri. I'd highly recommend it!

Our original plan was to leave as soon as the kids got out of school last Thursday at 3:30, but Mike got caught up with a project at work that needed to be finished, so we didn't get on the road until 7:00. At the time we thought driving just under 5 hours late at night would be no big deal. I mean, when we were in our twenties we took all night road trips and never batted an eye! Well, these nearly 40 year old bodies of ours start to crave sleep at about 10:00, so the last few hours were brutal. The kids slept, but I would not recommend checking into your hotel at 12:30. Oh well....we did what we could do.

The view from our room as we woke up Friday morning. 
Needless to say, we were all a bit tired from our late night drive, but with only two full days of vacation, we had to get crackin'! Does anyone else say that? My mom used to say "time to get crackin'!" when I was sleeping in on Saturday mornings. It might be a southern thing.
Anyway, after a quick breakfast on the patio, we put on our bathing suits and headed for one of the many pools. 

My goofballs. 
Wouldn't trade 'em.
The first pool we went to was really two pools in one. The top pool "fell" into the bottom pool with a waterfall which ended in an infinity edge overlooking beautiful Tablerock Lake. My kids loved it and also loved the hot tub even though it was about 97 degrees outside.
Next, we headed to a different area with had a Lazy River, some slides, and yet another hot tub. My kids swam their little hearts out until they were starving for lunch at about 1:00.
After lunch, Mike took Lucas to play mini-golf and swim some more. My dad and I took Hannah and Leah to nearby Dogwood Canyon Park for an hour long horseback ride. Although it was so hot (I had sweat dripping down my butt crack the entire time it was so hot, sorry for the crude image, but it's true), we rode through beautiful country and enjoyed taking it all in.
When we came back to Big Cedar, we once again dove into the pool and swam until it was nearly dark. For dinner, we drove into a nearby town and upon a recommendation we ate at a little Mexican restaurant that turned out to be fantastic. Who can say no to tableside guacamole? Not this girl.
We awoke Saturday morning to drastically different weather. A cold front had moved in overnight bringing rain and much cooler temps. Try a high of 68 for the day! I know that's not super cold, but it felt like it after the near 100 degree day we had the day before. But, we were not dismayed. Nor would we turn back from our mission--to go to Silver Dollar City and ride as many rides as possible.
Sadly, it was very crowded, but we still managed to have a fun time. We rode roller coasters, spun in the teacups, braved the rapids and plunged into the waters of the log ride. We watched blacksmiths, glass blowers, and candy makers at their craft. We ate our fill of funnel cakes and kettle chips and saltwater taffy. We came. We saw. We conquered.
We ended the day with a trip to the old Cracker Barrel. Not my favorite place, but the kids always look forward to eating there on vacation. 
At the end of the day, we crashed into bed tired, but full of fun and good memories. And mashed potatoes with gravy.

Hannah and Me
Sunday dawned bright and sunny again, but still with cooler temps. It was lovely. 
But in the blink of an eye, we had to think about packing up and heading home. 
Before we left, we fit in one more round of family mini-golf. 

The girls play just for fun, while it turns out Lucas is all business and Mr. Competitive.
Oh boy.

Leah and Mike
We hit the road about 11:00 Sunday morning, and drove straight through to Tulsa, OK. Our plan was to stop and visit our niece River for a while and take her to dinner. River's dad is Mike's brother, Juan. Juan and his wife Tracy and their other three kiddos live up in New Jersey. But sweet River chose to attend college in Tulsa near us! Woo hoo! Tulsa is about an hour and a half away from OKC, so not too far. She is a freshman studying to become a nurse at Oral Roberts University. She's actually there on a full ride scholarship due to her grades and her outstanding leadership skills. The girl is going places, I tell you! We are so proud of her.

River and her cousins
River was so sweet and had created an awesome scavenger hunt for the kids to do as a way to tour the campus. The hunt sent them searching for things like a zebra and a ping pong table and a hall of mirrors. The kids loved it, and it gave Mike and I a great tour of her school. We took her out for an early dinner, and then had to say goodbye as we headed out on the last leg of our trip home. We will look forward to seeing her on her fall break in October!

We arrived home Sunday night at 7:30. The kids went straight to bed and Mike and I crashed on the couch ignoring the suitcases that needed to be unpacked. We talked about how much we love our little family of five. How we could have never imagined how great it would be when we were just starting out dating as young, naive 19 and 20 year old kids. 

I love where life has taken us!



Thursday, August 28, 2014

Confessions


My friends Maria and Sarah recently posted a Confessions post and I thought I'd jump on their bandwagon. Personally, I think if the three of us actually had a band and were touring the country in a station wagon, that would be pretty sweet.  But that's another topic.....

1. I love The Carpenters. I really, really do. Karen Carpenter's voice is so rich and velvety. One late night in college, my roomies and I made up a lip synced performance of Top of The World. It was both awful and hilarious.

2. I have a fear of crowded elevators. I just won't ride them if I deem one to be too full. I will gladly take the stairs in most cases. And I confess to secretly pushing the button to close the doors if I hear a big crowd coming and I'm already on the elevator. Does this make me a bad person?

3. I feel sad when there is no dessert in the house. I don't need a full-on decedent three layer chocolate cake (although yum). Just a piece of chocolate or a cookie will do. Currently I'm addicted to chocolate butter cookies from Aldi. They are sooooo good!

4. I do not like the Lord of the Rings movies. There. I said it. I've sat through all of them and wish I had all those hours of my life back. I know Tolkien was a genius writer, and I think the movies are visually pretty, but....I just can't do it. I say no to Frodo.

5. I've never broken a bone. Well, that I know of. I'm pretty sure I've broken (or fractured?) my pinky toes, but that's never been confirmed. My daughter Leah says she hopes she breaks a bone because she really wants to have all of her friends sign her cast. I keep telling her that's not a good goal.

6. I have been personally serenaded by Robert Goulet. He also gave me a rose. I was ten years old, and I was wearing a denim dress with a fancy lace collar.
Robert Goulet
Total Stud

7. I have lived in Oklahoma for almost 28 years and have never been directly hit by a tornado. I'm not trying to tempt fate though.

8. Currently scheduled to record in my DVR: Top Chef Duels, Project Runway, Manhattan, The First 48, and 19 Kids and Counting. It's an eclectic mix, I am well aware. Currently in Mike's DVR list: The Walking Dead, The Strain, The Last Ship, and Falling Skies. Our TV viewing is vastly different!

9. One of my weirdest quirks is that I cannot stand sharp or pointy things aimed at my eye. What this means is if I am sitting in bed reading and the corner of a nearby throw pillow is aimed at my eyeball, I will have to move the pillow or throw it on the ground. Or if one of the kids is trying to explain their recent drawing to me by shoving it in my face and the point of the paper is aimed at my eye, I will have to move the paper so that the point is facing a different direction.

10. When I load groceries from my cart onto the conveyor belt at the store check out, I like to put everything together in a logical, organized way. Sort of like putting a puzzle together. Cold things go together, canned goods go together, produce stays together, boxed items all line up in a row. When my kids come to the store with me and "help" unload the cart, they just throw everything on there all willy-nilly and I have to just bite my tongue and cringe inwardly at the complete disarray.

There.....ten strange or unusual confessions. Feel free to comment with some of your own confessions too! I will leave you with this lovely video of Miss Carpenter to brighten your day. I know you want to sing with her.





Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Forgetting

Mom and me
Mother's Day
2003

When my mom passed away in May of 2011, Hannah and Leah were 6 years old and about to finish up their year in kindergarten. Lucas was 20 months old, and we were looking forward to celebrating his 2nd birthday that coming July.

But in the blink of an eye, she was gone.

It happened so fast. It was a Tuesday. I had just finished eating lunch at home. The girls were at school, totally unaware, and Lucas was taking his afternoon nap when I got the dreaded call. Mercifully, my friend Nikki came immediately and picked Lucas up for me. A short while later, I was sitting in shock on my parents' couch surrounded by Mike on one side and my dad on the other. They were pretty much propping me up. Within a few hours of her death we were talking to the funeral home directors. I could barely answer their questions and have vague memories of that meeting other than I know it happened. I can still see the two very nice men in their dark suits sitting like shadows across the room. When they left, I remember walking out to the back patio with Mike following close behind. I sat there sobbing into his chest as it was quickly approaching the time to go pick up the girls after school.

What were we going to say?  How were we going to explain this?

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. They are going forget her. My kids are going to forget their grandmother.

It may not happen right away. But eventually my mom will be a fuzzy memory floating around in the deep recesses of their brains. I knew Lucas would never remember her. He was simply too young. But my girls saw my mom practically every day. They knew the sound of her voice. The way she squinted her eyes when she laughed. The comforting feel of her hugs. But Hannah and Leah were six--their whole lives were wide open before them ready to fill with new experiences that would push those happy memories of my mom aside.

I was eight when my grandfather passed away. I can definitely remember him today as I type this post at 37 years of age. But the details of my grandfather are definitely blurred. My memories of him spotty at best, and I saw him often and loved him dearly. If that's how I remember him and he died when I was eight, how on earth will my girls remember their grandmother!?

This is a fear that grips me. And an even darker fear is that I will someday forget. I know I won't forget her totally, that is impossible. But sometimes I try to remember the way her voice sounded or the way it felt to hold her hand, and I panic as the memory doesn't form right away.

My mom and Lucas
Robbers Cave State Park
July 2010

So....what do we do? I truly believe that memories need context. Without putting them into a specific time and place, they do start to fade a bit. And that means, we TALK. We talk about her a lot. We tell our kids stories. We look at pictures. I tell about the time we were walking along the beach in Galveston and my mom stepped on a dead jellyfish. How she hopped around because it stung her foot and my dad carried her to a medic station. I explain how Grandma used to take care of me when I was sick--even as an adult. She would scratch my back and cover me with an afghan and make me feel so much better. I tell my kids about how I got lost from my mom when I was five years old and we were shopping at Hobby Lobby. I can remember how relieved I was to see her face when the clerk helped me find her. Or how she and I tried and tried to beat my dad at Boggle, but we just never could. And how she always made blueberry walnut cake with lemon filling for my birthday even though it is a bit labor intense. I tell about the way she read children's books with enthusiasm and how the first thing she did after she woke up from open heart surgery was motion for me to come hold her hand. I explain that her favorite color was pale pink and her favorite book was To Kill a Mockingbird. The kids find me sniffing the Downy bottle, and I tell them that's how my mom smelled to me. I talk about how she always drank hot tea at breakfast and fed the cats bacon pieces under the table. And how the sound of her slippers swishing across the tile kitchen floor woke me up on Saturday mornings.
My mom and Hannah
At Old Germany Restaurant celebrating Grandma's birthday
October 2009

We talk and we talk and we talk. We add details to our conversations to give context to those memories. My kids ask questions about her and I always stop to answer them. We hang photos of her so that her face will never fade from our memories. We do this so that Hannah and Leah and Lucas will never truly forget.
Grandma and Leah


And I know I never will either.

Mom and me
Tuscan countryside
Italy, 2002

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Lucas Turned Five

I realized I left a very important event off my summer highlight reel! On July 24th, Lucas turned five years old! A whole hand! We definitely wanted to celebrate this little guy and all that makes him special.

It started here. 
July 24, 2009
Love at first sight.

Lucas Gabriel Galloway
2 weeks old
I love his big brown eyes, his thick black hair, his round little face and chubby kissable cheeks!
From the start, he was a sweet, easy baby.

His first Easter, 2010
My mom called him her "Beautiful Boy."

And that beautiful boy turned into a fun, outgoing toddler. 
Lucas, you have always charmed everyone with your smile.

That toddler continued to grow into a little boy who plays rough and tumble, but loves big.
Here is my little cowboy on his 4th birthday, July 2013.

My superhero in training
Lucas, November 2013

For my guy's big 5th birthday, he started his day by going to my mom's sister's house (my Aunt Lindell). We went swimming at her neighborhood pool, then she made a special birthday lunch--pizza and a "cookie cake" complete with candles to blow out. Seeing my aunt on my kids' birthdays is important to me because she represents my mom's presence. My Aunt Lindell [pronounced "Lynndull" not "Lynn Dell" by the way] is the closest thing to my mom. She and my mom were so close, best friends they would say.  And of course, she had a present for him to unwrap!
Heading out wearing his new birthday Minecraft Superhero shirt.


Blowing out candles at Lindell's house

After swimming and lunch it was time to go home and make the cupcakes for the evening's big birthday party with friends. He requested chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and "a strawberry on top!" What my boy wants for his birthday, he shall get. Within reason. :)
These look good here, but in the July heat they melted a bit. Wah wah. Still tasted good though and that's what counts!

For the fourth year in a row, we did a combined birthday party with our friends' daughter, Marlee. My friend Nikki and I were pregnant with our third babies together. I had Lucas on July 24th and she had Marlee on July 27th. Lucas and Marlee are the best of friends (and hopefully future spouses!) and most of their small circle of friends is the same. So it makes sense at this point to do their parties together. This year we met up at Hafer Park for dinner, cake, and presents. Then our birthday party drove next door to Pelican Bay Aquatic Center for an evening swim. Yes, he swam twice on his birthday!
All set up at Hafer Park!
Who's having a birthday?
These two, that's who!


Happy Birthday to you......

Make a wish, son. 
I hope all of your wishes come true.


My precious Lucas, 
You are a wonderful gift to your father and me! I am so happy and so thankful that you are a part of our family. You make us laugh every single day. And your sweet smile warms my heart.
I love how you adore your big sisters. I love that you can play soccer with full intensity, then come to the sidelines, hug me, smile and say, "Love you Momma!"
You are smart and giving and loyal. You are a good friend and you make others feel welcome.
God has big plans for you, Son! You are valuable beyond measure.
Please know that wherever life takes you, you will always be deeply and unconditionally loved.








Friday, August 22, 2014

About Our Dog

Since I took a break from blogging during the months of April-July, I feel as if you might be wondering about a missing part of our family--our dog, Roxie. Many people have asked about her after noting her absence from my Facebook posts. The short answer is this: she no longer lives with us (but she is alive and happy). The longer answer is something I will address here today and can henceforth refer people to if they have questions.

For years Mike and I had talked about getting a dog. Growing up Mike's family always had dogs. And at least one of those dogs was always a Boxer. Mike was particularly close to one of those Boxers named Rocket, and he has many good memories with him.  Growing up, I never had a dog. We have always been a cat family, sometimes having up to five house cats. I love cats. But I also love dogs too. Most of my extended family members and friends growing up all have or had dogs which I loved on. So, when the girls were nearing the age of 9, we decided to go forward in our pursuit of having a family canine. 

We decided to get a Boxer based on Mike's lifelong experiences with them as well as their sweet nature. They are extremely loyal to their families and make a great family pet. We brought Roxie home when she was a little puppy. She was cute, she slept a lot during the day, but not much at night, and she was most content in your lap. As she grew, it was apparent that she was displaying some serious separation anxiety. When we left the house, she went crazy tearing things up, losing control of her bladder and bowels, not eating or drinking anything. This made going anywhere very difficult. Whether she was inside or outside, these behaviors occurred. We consulted our vet and followed through with many of his suggestions. No change. We took Roxie to a very well-recommended (and expensive) obedience school. No change. We were getting to the end of our rope. In addition, as she grew into a much bigger dog with lots of energy, her playtime began to get a little too rough for Lucas. He became afraid of her, and we had to keep the two separated much of the time. It was all getting to be very stressful. 

We really loved that crazy dog, but after having her for six months it was clear that she was not the right fit for our family. She needed a big backyard to run off LOTS of energy (our backyard is the size of a postage stamp). She needed to be around other dogs to socialize (we were in no way ready to handle another dog). She needed a family who wasn't on the go so much (our lifestyle is busy and we like to take spontaneous day trips). Thankfully, we were able to get connected to the perfect family to take our Roxie girl. This husband and wife are retired, live in the country on two acres, and have an older Boxer to welcome Roxie into the fold. She will be able to run freely outside with her new "sister" and have lots of down time inside with this older retired couple who ADORE her. 

Although our girls were heartbroken, they understood the situation and are happy with her new living arrangement. We can go visit her anytime. She is a happier dog too.

Will we ever try having a dog again? I'm not sure. Right now we are content with our two cats, our sweet old ladies, Ellie and Tundra. Although we might consider adding a kitten to the mix in the near future. We'll just have to wait and see.

So that, my friends, is the long answer to "Where's Roxie?" or "What happened to your dog?" I think the whole thing was a major learning experience. We still love our Roxie girl. And I'm happy knowing she is happy.