Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking Back at 2009

January 2009: We took the girls to the Sam Noble Natural History Museum to see the dinosaur bones. They have continued their interest in dinosaurs all year long! February 2009: This picture was taken on Valentine's Day. We had just taken the girls out to breakfast and then stopped by my parents' house to play a little basketball.


March 2009: We found out on March 12th that we were going to have a little BOY! I remember being so surprised and so excited. We just couldn't wait to meet him.

April 2009: Easter Sunday was a cold, rainy day, but we still had fun hunting eggs inside the house.

May 2009: May brought some warmer weather and lots of "end of the year" activities. This picture was taken after the girls' ballet recital. They tap danced to "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" and I cried the whole way through. Oh those pregnancy hormones!

June 2009: We started getting ready for Baby to arrive this month. I had a wonderful baby shower and was truly blessed by a lot of friends and family.

July 2009: Lucas Gabriel Galloway made his debut on July 24, 2009. He is perfect in every way, and has added so much joy to our family. Overnight we became a family of five!

August 2009: This was a month of adjustment and of finding our new "normal". It really went very smoothly. The girls happily embraced having a little brother. They really love him a lot!

September 2009: We saw Lucas' first smiles this month and as any mother can tell you, they absolutely melt your heart. We spent a lot of time just staring at our boy. The girls started Pre-K this month and started learning all kinds of new things.

October 2009: This month Lucas started sleeping through the night which helped us all feel a little better! This is still my favorite family picture of the year.


November 2009: We experienced an Indian Summer as the nice weather continued long into November. We spent many afternoons outside playing at the park, taking walks, and enjoying nature!

December 2009: What a wonderful year it has been. A year full of expectancy, fun, new beginnings, and family. I can't wait to see what 2010 has in store for us.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!

P.S.) This post was inspired by Maria at Little Things Are Big. Check out her blog!



Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Yep, More Snow Pictures

Have I mentioned that we don't get much snow around here? Seriously, this is more snow than we've ever seen. So I went crazy and took about a thousand pictures of it. I slowly narrowed them down and thought I'd share a few more with you. Then I promise I'll stop. Hannah in front of our mailbox which had a small lake of ice in front of it.
Climbing "Snow Mountain" as it was appropriately named

Building "Frosty" at my parents' house

The small drift that I found by our trashcan.


Our lone tree standing tall and proud in our front yard. I sometimes feel sorry for inanimate objects when they are out in the cold. For example, the girls left a basketball in the backyard the day before our blizzard. As the snow was falling on Christmas Eve, I looked outside and actually thought, "I bet that little basketball is cold out there!" Does anyone else do this or am I crazy?
Did you get snow where you are for this holiday season?

Photos of Grandpa

Recently my cousin Philip and his wife Keri drove from Fort Bragg in North Carolina to visit us here in Oklahoma. Phil is a little over six months away from completing his Army Special Forces training. He's been in the Army for seven years and has served our country on four deployments to Iraq. During one of those deployments, he was shot in the chest, but his body armor saved his life. This summer, Phil will become a Green Beret, and we are all so proud of him!

Phil was only three years old when our grandfather passed away. I was eight, which is still very young, but I do have very clear, vivid memories of Grandpa. Phil doesn't remember him at all. You see, our grandfather spent most of his life serving our country in the army as well. He started off as a young, skinny, enlisted man. Served bravely in both World War II and the Korean War. He received both a bronze star and a purple heart. And he retired as a full colonel. He had a very successful career serving our country. And Phil is following in his footsteps.

Because Phil can't really remember our Grandpa, he decided to do some extensive research on our Grandpa's military career in order to "get to know him". He ended up finding a lot of things, including several photos which we had never seen before.

My Grandpa and Grandma before he left to serve in World War II

This is my favorite photo. Part of the writing below the picture reads "Korea 1952".
My mother was four years old at the time. Her older sister was five and her brother was born that same year. What was my Grandpa thinking about?

This was also taken in Korea.


Colonel Wesley F. Gant
As we were reading through some of the official service records that Phil had researched, we stumbled upon the following paragraph written about the efforts that led to my Grandpa receiving the Bronze Star. I think this paragraph alone makes me the most proud.
"For heroic achievement in connection with military operations against the enemy near ***,*** from 13 December to 15 December 1944, Lieutenant GANT, with complete disregard for his own safety, led his platoon heroically against several fierce enemy attacks. During one of these attacks, Lieutenant GANT crawled from a position of safety to a supplementary position in order to bring more effective rifle fire on the enemy and while doing so killed two Japanese. Lieutenant GANT, by his courage, devotion to duty, soldierly conduct, and fine leadership, won the approbation of his entire platoon."

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Presents and Games

Even though he wasn't born on Christmas, 2009 brought this little boy into my life, and that is the BEST gift a mother could ask for. He's happy. He's healthy (ear infection is gone now!). And he's HERE!

In other present news, this ended up being the year for receiving games. The girls received: Candyland, Chutes & Ladders, Pretty Pretty Princess, Pictureka!, Tiddlywinks, Jacks, Gator-Golf, Bop-it, and two Leapster handheld game systems. The girls love them all, and so do I. I love playing games! It's one of my favorite things to do both with my girls and with our friends.

This got me thinking about some of my favorite games to play right now. Here's my current top five game list:

1. Bananagrams

2. Dominoes (I know there are lots of ways to play dominoes, but we like to play "chicken foot")

3. Apples to Apples

4. Taboo

5. Balderdash


I also love card games and board games too, but those are my favorites to play with friends. I guess I'm a "language" person because all of those (except for dominoes) involve words, spelling or definitions. If any of you haven't played Bananagrams before, they sell it now at Target in a little yellow, banana-shaped pouch. It is very addictive!

What are some of your favorite games to play?

Playing Bananagrams with my two sisters-in-law, Rachel and Tracy

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Blizzard

MERRY CHRISTMAS!


We are snowed in again today after our record breaking 11 inches of snow yesterday! Some news channels are reporting up to 14 inches, but either way, we had more snow yesterday than any other time in our state's history. We tried to go resuce a friend of ours who was stuck in the snow, but we ended up stuck in our own driveway. It took Mike an hour of shoveling to finally get the car back into the garage. Because of the current weather conditions, we are quite literally stuck in our home. Thankfully I went to the grocery store on Wednesday, so we're fully stocked. The sad news is that my parents are also stuck in their home, so we had to cancel all of our plans with them. Oh well, at least we'll get to celebrate with them tomorrow or Sunday.


One great thing about this weather is that my girls have never had the opportunity to play in such deep snow. So yesterday, we bundled them up and went out to romp around in it. They both squealed and giggled the whole time. Leah declared, "This snow looks like sugar!" Afterwards, we came inside with rosy cheeks and sat together drinking hot chocolate. I love making memories like that.


The view out our front door around noon yesterday.





Warmest wishes for a very happy holiday!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Five Year Well Check

The girls had their five year well check on Monday. Here are the highlights:

* Hannah weighs 36 lbs. and is 42 inches tall
* Leah weighs 36.5 lbs. and is 42 inches tall
* I am slightly amazed that they are so close in both weight and height. For a long time, Leah was always a little heavier and taller. Now they're even!
* They both have 20/20 vision
* Hannah sat still for her shots. She didn't cry or flinch one bit.
* Leah cried. When the first shot went in, she jerked her arm and so they had to try again, but she jerked once more and the shot just knicked her arm. Finally Mike, another nurse, and I all held her down so the shots could be given. Needless to say, this was traumatizing for all involved.
* We left with stickers and smiles despite all the drama.
* I am so grateful for such wonderfully happy little girls!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Quiet House


Today something amazing happened. It was around 4:00 this afternoon when every single person in my house was still and quiet. It started with Lucas taking a very long afternoon nap. He's currently got his first ear infection/cold and has been feeling miserable lately. He fell asleep shortly after lunch and was out for the next five hours straight. The girls had their five year well check yesterday (more on that tomorrow) and were both running low fevers and feeling slightly under the weather. They were busy playing games on our computer when I decided to stop what I was doing, grab a blanket and curl up on the couch to rest for a few minutes. My eyelids slowly got very heavy and then I heard the little pitter patter of feet coming my way. It was Hannah.

"I'm tired," she said. "Can I snuggle with you?"

So she curled up under the blanket, stuck her feet between my legs (something she's always done) and soon I could hear the rhythmic sound of her sleepy breathing. A few minutes after that Leah came shuffling in to the living room.

"I want to snuggle too."

So she crawled up on the couch with us. Soon she was fast asleep as well. And for the next thirty minutes, there was not a sound in my house. No toys, no television, no computer games, no nothing. Just the peaceful silence of a quiet house.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Decorating

I was looking at our tree the other day, and I decided that I love our eclectic mix of ornaments. Some people have themes for their trees like horses, or trains or angels or just a specific color theme. But, I like a mix of everything.

We have some ornaments that we picked out and purchased ourselves.


And some that were handmade like the bells you see above.



Of course we have many that were given to us as gifts. The one above was given to Mike and I on our first Christmas as a married couple. And as a teacher for many years I received quite a stash of ornaments from my kids. Each time I hang one up it reminds me of that particular student and I wonder what he or she is up to today.



My favorite part of our tree is our topper. It is an Ethiopian cross that Mike's brother, Juan, brought back from Ethiopia several years ago.


What are some of your favorite ornaments on your tree?
By the way-- we are in the middle of a blizzard here in Oklahoma. Every interstate from boarder to boarder is shut down. We've had 11 inches here which is a state record. I think because we're not used to this type of weather, we're all under-prepared. People are stranded all over the state-- we know several personally. We're all safe and sound in our home, but we had to cancel our Christmas Eve plans with my parents which was a bummer. Hopefully tomorrow we'll be able to leave our house tomorrow. It's a historic first Christmas for our Lucas and I'm sure he'll hear about it for years to come!



Friday, December 18, 2009

My Little Gangsta

Meet my little "gansta" son: Lukey G. He loves to kick it old school with the sideways hat, Yo. Ok, ok, I sound about as ridiculous as a white, thirty-something, stay-at-home mom could possibly sound just now. Isn't this picture of Lucas pretty darn adorable though? I think so, but I am his mother. I love his round brown eyes and his kissable chubby cheeks. Seriously, I kiss those cheeks about a hundred times a day. He is twenty-one weeks old today!

Today we had a busy, crazy, accident-prone type of day. First, Hannah got a bloody nose after being hit in the face with a basketball. Shortly afterward, I had to remove a large splinter that was sticking out of Leah's big toe (no clue how she managed that one). My friend, Sara, literally had to hold Leah down while I quickly pulled it out. She was fine as soon as it was over, but the screaming that was going on during the procedure was ear piercing. We have the girls' five year well check on Monday which includes three shots a piece. What fun that will be! (do you hear the sarcasm there?)

Thankfully, all of these accidents occurred in the morning. Our afternoon at home was very calm and restful. Mike and I even got to go out on our own tonight. We had dinner at our friends' house. They recently moved back to OKC from Austin, so it was great to reconnect.

What are you all up to this weekend?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

School Christmas Program and By The Way, I'm Not Crazy!


Hannah and Leah posing in front of the tree

Monday night was the girls' school Christmas program. I love things like this. It just feels so sweet and special and very "Christmasy". I really am a sucker for watching kids perform. I think I get teary eyed with every single song. And then when my girls got up on stage, I teared up a bit more. They are growing up so fast, and yet they are still so innocent. Innocent and funny. Just yesterday on the way home from school Leah said (in a very serious tone), "Mom, I've decided that I don't want to be crazy anymore." I replied, "You're not crazy, Leah. You're funny, but not crazy." She then replied, "I just want to be like you, Mom."

I wanted to laugh and also turn around and hug that girl. In her world, I am not crazy. And she wants to be like me. Be still my heart.

Oh and here's a short video of their performance from Monday night.



video

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Birthday Eve

When I think back to December 15th, 2004, many things stand out in my mind.

1. It was my last day being pregnant with my twin girls.

2. I went along with Mike to his eye doctor appointment that afternoon. Because Mike's eyelashes are so long, the eye doctor had a hard time looking at Mike's eyes. I hoped our daughters would inherit his eyelashes (and they did).

3. After the doctor appointment, we went to the mall to pick up a few Christmas gifts and to grab a bit to eat. I remember I had a slice of pizza.

4. That evening, we went over to Mike's aunt's house to help her decorate her Christmas tree. Mike's parents had flown into town and were there as well.

5. Back at our home later that night, we all watched I, Robot. And we were all so preoccupied with the upcoming birth of our daughters that we could hardly pay attention. It wasn't that great of a movie anyway, so no big loss there.

6. It was my last day to feel like I was going to scratch my skin off. You see, I developed PUPPP halfway through week 35. PUPPP is an extremely itchy, hive-like rash that occurs mostly in women carrying multiples. I was literally covered in these blotches from my scalp to the skin between my toes. Unfortunately, the only cure is delivery, so women with PUPPP are forced to deal with this horribly itchy condition with no relief. Seriously, google the word PUPPP and see the image results. Scary stuff. I remember I was SO ready to be rid of it!

7. I remember being very excited to meet my babies-- my firstborn children. What I didn't know then is just how much joy these two girls would bring into my life.

Hannah and Leah, I think you are the most amazing, smart, funny, beautiful young girls I've ever known. I am so thankful that I get to be your mom. Happy 5th birthday, my Banana and Bee!

Excited beyond words as they entered Young Chef's Academy (where we had their b-day party this past Saturday).
Making their pizza dough
Two accomplished young chefs!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Adventus

Nikki and I last night

Last night we attended a really cool event here in OKC called Adventus. Adventus was a celebration of art and of advent. Several stores and galleries in The Plaza District were open late displaying paintings and sculptures as well as hosting musicians to play and poets to read. All of the artwork, music, and poetry was centered around the idea of advent, a season of hopeful waiting and expectation. Reed, Nikki and I decided to go together and check it out. Mike couldn't go with us because he is directing a short documentary about a place called Convergence which was one of the galleries open that night.


Before we headed to the event, I must say that we stopped to eat at one of my new favorite places: Big Truck Tacos. What a cool place! I've been there twice now and both times have ordered a Crispy 'Cado Taco which features several huge slices of fried avacado, with homemade tomatillo salsa. So good, my friends. So good.


Ok, back to Adventus....after we finished up our yummy dinner, we headed down to 16th Street to check it all out. Lots of stores and galleries were open, people were everywhere and there wa a definite buzz in the cold night air. We went to Convergence first because that was where Mike and his crew were filming. We checked out the art, then hung around for a good hour or more just taking it all in. Several musicians got up and played one or two songs. I especially liked one young guy who had a ZZ top beard and played the harmonica while also playing the guitar as well as singing. Another girl got up and sang an absolutley beautiful song reflecting on what she would have been thinking if she were in Mary's shoes. One guy read a poem that he had written after staying up all night and watching the sunrise. And there was a spoken word poet who performed a really cool rap-like poem that got a huge round of applause. In addition to all of that going on, two guys were collaborating on a live painting. We watched them work in tandem for awhile. Slowly an image of a newborn lamb appeared-- eyes closed and looking wet as if it had just been born.


All in all it was a fun, inspiring, peaceful night that really encouraged me to think about this season of advent-- to reflect, to be calm and to remember what this season is all about.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Favorite Christmas Songs:: Non-Traditional

Again, there are just so many to pick from. But with a lot of careful thinking, here are my top five:

5. "Last Christmas" by Wham!-- I know, I know, this song is so cheesy, but I absolutley love it and end up singing right along with it. I think the song was permanetly endeared to me when a few years ago on New Year's Eve our friends Reed and Nikki as well as Mike and I ended up choreographing the chorus together. I recall laughing hysterically. "Last Christmas, you gave me your heart, but the very next day you gave it away...."

4. "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" by Brenda Lee-- Bring on the sounds of the 1950's! I love it! Makes me want to hang some tinsel strands on my tree, put on my good pearls (really I have none) and serve cookies to my guests in a starched dress and high heels. I love that decade!

3. "I'll Be Home for Christmas" by Bing Crosby-- Gotta have a song by Bing Crosby on here. Such a classic song sung by a classic voice. To get the full effect, you must listen to this song after all children are in bed while sitting next to a fire with the only other light being the glow of the lights on the Christmas tree. Ahhhhh.....

2. "I Celebrate the Day" by Relient K-- Well, after haning out in the 40's and 50's, jump with me if you will to today! I absolutely love the lyrics to this song. "And the first time, that you opened your eyes, did you realize that you would be my savior?, and the first breath that left your lips, did you know that it would change this world forever?....","And I celebrate the day, that you were born to die, so I might one day pray to you to save my life." Good, good stuff.

1. "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas"by Gayla Peevy-- Surprised? I guess I'm a sucker for songs written in the 1950's cause I love everything about this one! It is funny, sweet and will stick in your head all day after you hear it! It's also cool that the song has an Oklahoma City connection. The ten year old girl who sings this song is from OKC, and in 1953, after the song grew in popularity, she was actually presented with a real baby hippopotamus which she then donated to the Oklahoma City Zoo. The hippo was named Matilda, and she lived a long life here, passing away just a few years ago in 2003. My girls LOVE this song too. I think the three of us danced around to it several times the other day. I would really recommend that.
So for your listening pleasure, here is my favorite non-traditional Christmas song.....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Favorite Christmas Songs:: Traditional

My sweet girls after they finished decorating our tree

First off, I posted a comment with the answers to yesterday's Christmas Carol Brain Teasers. So check back if you just couldn't figure out what song features a "light brown explosive." =)
I figure while I'm on the topic of Christmas Carols, I'm going to milk it for all it's worth. And what better way than to do a "top five" list! I think I'll do one list for my favorite traditional Christmas carols and then tomorrow list my top five non-traditional songs. Then I promise to change the subject!
I've been thinking about my top five traditional Christmas carols all day today. It's been harder than I thought narrowing it down to just five, but it appears that I like songs with the word "O" in it. I also considered which songs I've loved to sing since I was young as well as songs that have only recently become my favorite.


Ok, here we go!

5. O Come All Ye Faithful-- I love this song simply because it is so happy and joyful sounding. It even says so right in the song: O come all ye faithful, JOYFUL and TRIUMPHANT!


4. Angels We Have Heard on High-- My favorite part is trying to sing "Glooooooooria" in a really operatic voice. I've been doing this lately and my girls have been telling me to stop.


3. We Three Kings-- For some reason, I have loved this song since I was a little girl. I remember a conversation I had with my mom while we were riding in the car one time: "Mom, what is an 'orientare'? Mom: "It's not a thing, it's a place-- the Orient." I was still confused at the time, but eventually I figured it out. I've always loved the chorus, "Star of wonder, star of light, star with royal beauty bright! Westward leading, still proceeding...."


2. O Holy Night-- this one is just plain beautiful. Beautiful lyrics with a beautiful melody. I just wish I could get my voice to go high enough to hit some of the high notes.


And my number one favorite Christmas carol is.......


1. O Come, O Come Emmanuel-- I've always liked this one, but it was only in the last five years or so that the idea of just how much the Old Testament and New Testament are connected has really started to sink in for me. I think, like most people, I always saw the Bible as a series of stories, with Jesus being the most important story. But as I've grown in my faith, I can clearly see that the Bible is really one big story. My Bible study leader last year would always say, "The New Testament is concealed in the Old, and the Old Testament is revealed in the New." Last year I studied the life of Moses, and through reading his story, and the story of the birth of the nation of Israel, I can see how much we needed a Savior! I can almost hear the Hebrew slaves in Egypt crying out, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel!!" And even though Moses or any of those Israelites didn't live long enough to see it-- Emmanuel came! Emmanuel literally means "God with us." Oh, I'm so glad he came. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel has come to thee, O Israel!"


What are some of your favorite carols?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Christmas Brain Teaser

One of my favorite things about Christmas is singing & listening to Christmas Carols. There's a radio station down here that plays them non-stop from Thanksgiving Day to New Year's Eve, and I look forward to it every year. When I was teaching, the day before Christmas break I always gave my students a Christmas carol word puzzle to work on. They had to come up with the title of the Christmas carol that matched each "clue". In honor of my teaching days, here are some for you to work on (I think my worksheet had about 25 of these!). Leave your guesses, and I'll give the answers tomorrow! =)

1. Buxom maniacs toasting over an uncovered flame
2. Metallic ding-a-lings
3. Crimson proboscis precipitaion darling
4. Listen, the heavenly beings are speaking!
5. Light Brown Explosive
6. Shout the news from a high place

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Relaxation 101

Tundra's tips for a night of relaxation:

1. Eat until you are incredibly full (preferably out of a bowl placed on the ground)
2. Grab a quick drink from the sink (you must locate a human to turn on the faucet first)
3. Find a comfortable spot at the foot of the bed
4. Roll on your back, extending front and back legs as far as they can comfortably be stretched
5. Drift off into dreamland


I tell ya, this girl knows how to relax.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Saturday Night Lights

Gee, I wonder what kind of Christmas Light displays are in the Oklahoma City area this season?
To anyone with this pressing question on the minds today, I will soon dazzle you with an array of Christmas Light pictures that will put that thought to rest. You see, this past Saturday night, Mike and I and our kids and my parents all loaded up in our Pathfinder to partake in an affordable (in other words FREE) Christmas activity-- looking at lights! We decided to make an evening out of it by inviting my parents over for dinner. Afterwards all of us helped decorate our Christmas tree while we listened to some classic carols (and occasionally checked the Florida/Alabama game). The girls had a lot of fun hanging up ornaments this year, especially when they came across one that they had made in years past. When all the ornaments were hung, we put the girls in their pajamas, brushed their teeth, then loaded up and went to hit three Christmas light hot spots. Starting with....

Automobile Alley near downtown Oklahoma City. I had read that on these few city blocks lights were strung literally from top to bottom of the buildings. And it did not dissapoint.
We cruised this strip up and down a few times admiring all the "stripes" of Christmas lights.
Next up was a trip to Chesapeake Energy Corporation on 63rd and Western. Chesapeake has a huge campus there and we had heard that the trees all over that campus were just spectacular. I loved the beautiful, psychodelic, Candyland-type atmosphere these lights created. Pretty cool, huh?

And finally, we drove by a house in a pretty, upscale neighborhood called Nichols Hills. We had actually happened upon this house the night before as we had driven home from grabbing a quick bite out for dinner. The girls and I wanted to show Grandma and Papa our "find."


There really is a house back there behind all of those crazy lights! I wonder what their electric bill is going to be this month? Oh and while we were driving in this area, we passed a pick-up truck with twinkling icicle Christmas lights wrapped around it and a large, decorated Christmas tree standing up in the back!
And you know what? After all the anticipation the girls had had that day, they fell asleep about ten minutes after being in the car! We woke them up to see the lights on Automobile Alley and Chesapeake, but then just let them sleep the rest of the way. Poor things! Have you seen any neat Christmas lights lately?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Picture of the Week


When you have two older sisters, being covered in My Little Ponies is a common thing.
HAVE A WONDERFUL SUNDAY!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hot Chocolate

What to do while waiting for a steaming mug of hot chocolate to cool? Well, grab two willing participants to practice using your camera's self timer, of course! During this time you will be able to perfect the art of expressing different emotions such as.....

HAPPY

SILLY

SAD

SURPRISED

and ANGRY


Oh yes, with time and practice, you too can become a master at expressing emotions as well as a master at using your self-timer. And last but not least, you will have two perfectly not-too-hot mugs of hot chocolate that will taste delicious on a chilly evening. I promise.