Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Car Drama

We are having some car drama this week.  Currently we have two vehicles:  A 2007 Nissan Pathfinder and a 2000 Ford Focus.  The Pathfinder is our main vehicle just because we all fit in it!  Our Focus is our "old woman" (yes, the car is a she).  She is ten years old, has over 160,000 miles, and idles so low that you feel like you are riding in a washing machine.  We have known that her days are numbered and few, but since she has been paid off for several years now, we are trying to avoid having another car payment for as long as possible. 

This week our Old Lady decided not to start.  We tried giving her battery a jump, but still, no go.  Plus, we just put a new battery in her last month, so what could we do except call a tow truck to take her away.  I watched the tow truck driver load her up feeling slightly embarrassed that her passenger side window is being held up by clear packing tape.  She is a little ghetto, I'm afraid to say.  So now we are awaiting a call from the shop with the final diagnosis.  Once we know that we will have to weigh the pros and cons of having it fixed vs. buying a "new" used car.  Buying a car is a big decision.  I don't do well dealing with overly-aggressive car salesmen.  I go in thinking that I will be tough, decisive and firm, but somehow I just wither into a spineless jellyfish who doesn't know what she wants. 

Sometimes I wish we could just float everywhere.  Jimmy Fallon said on his show last night that he wished his superpower could be floating to work, or "air skating" as he put it.  How cool would that be?  I guess my kids could just float along with me.  Or maybe we could get around in those big plastic bubbles (although rolling uphill could be tough)?  Teleportation could work as well.  I'm just throwing out some ideas here.  :)

Really, though, I am grateful that we have at least one working vehicle.  Many people struggle to find a way to get to work or around town, so even if it inconveniences us for awhile, we will figure it out.  We always do.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Love Letter to My Son On His First Birthday

Dear Lucas,

I love you.  I will never let a day go by without telling you that.  My love for you is unconditional.  I cannot believe you are one year old today!  I remember the warm July morning that you were born.  I couldn't believe you weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces!  You were so much bigger than your sisters, but you were born with just as much thick, dark hair as they were.  I remember the first time I held you. You were wrapped up like a little burrito and looked so new to the world.  A few happy tears slipped out of my eyes as my heart just overflowed with love for you.  I have thanked God every day for you, my sweet boy.

I remember the first few months after we brought you home from the hospital.  Your sisters were just crazy about you!  They constantly wanted to hold you and snuggle you.  If you cried, they wanted to know what would soothe you.  They liked to help feed you a bottle sometimes.  And first thing in the morning they would ask, "Where's Brother?"  You were such a sweet, even-tempered newborn, so snuggly and adorable and content.

By two months you slept through the night.  And even though I was very grateful for the additional sleep, I missed our middle of the night feedings and snuggle time.  You would look at me with those big brown eyes and smile and my heart would just melt.

When you started to giggle, boy were we in for a treat!  Your laugh springs up from deep in your belly and gushes out like Old Faithful.  You laugh easily and with full abandon.  It is music to our ears.

We watched with sheer joy as your started rolling over, then crawling, then pulling up!  We held you when you were fussy as your cut your first two teeth.  And then there was that day when you let go of the ottoman and took your first few steps.  We shouted and cheered and you just grinned up at us wondering what was so amazing.  It was you, my dear.  You are amazing! 

Now you are walking everywhere.  You are getting faster and more sure of yourself each day.  I love seeing you trying to keep up with your sisters.  I love hearing the sound of your bare feet coming down the hall.  I can't help but scoop you up and kiss your face when you give me one of your dimpled grins.  Lucas, you are a true joy.  I am so honored and privileged to be your mom.  I pray for you everyday to grow up and be a man who loves God and loves others.  I can't wait to get to know you and love you even more. 

Happy First Birthday!

Love Always,

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Random Thought Tuesday

Today my brain is like a ball of yarn that needs to be unwound.  You know those days?  Where it feels like you can't put together a complete sentence?  Where you walk into a room in your house and then wonder why it was you entered that room in the first place?  Yeah, it's one of those days for me.  To help refocus my mushy mind, here are some random thoughts!

1.  I hosted a playgroup at my house this morning.  There were 11 moms and 27 kids here!  Did you hear that?  27 kids!!  But you know what-- it wasn't too bad!  Most of the boys were outside playing on the waterslide while most of the little girls were in Hannah and Leah's room playing with Barbies or stuffed animals.  And all the other kids were babies sitting on their mama's hip.  I have a great group of friends and they stayed to help clean up and put my house back together again.

2.  I am making the last few preparations for Lucas' first birthday party this weekend.  I can't even believe that we have had this little bundle of joy for a year now!  One year is not really that long, but I can't imagine our lives without seeing his sweet smile complete with his charming dimples.  He is our little light.

3.  Lady Gaga is playing here in OKC toinght and I kind of wish I was there.  Maybe if I had won some tickets perhaps.  She is so interesting to me.

4. I love, love, love iced tea.  The perfect tea for me is unsweetened, ice cold, and has a juicy lemon slice on top.  I am not a fan of sweet tea which is basically a sin down here in the south.  Ironically I like my coffee full of sugar and creamer!  I guess I am a walking caffiene-beverage contradiction!

5.  We watched the movie Book of Eli a few weeks ago and I still find myself thinking about it!  What an incredible twist in the end.  Denzel Washington did such a good job with the main character.  It did remind me of the book The Road by Cormac McCarthy (haven't seen that movie yet and not sure if i ever want to). Have any of you seen it? 

6. I finally started working out again. I've been doing a cardio/strength training class twice a week.  It has been kicking my booty!  But in a good way.  I've been going faithfully for nearly a month and have started to notice a few more defined muscles in my arms.  The only down side is that I keep fighting off shin splints.  I got new tennis shoes and that only helped a little.  Any suggestions? 

Ok, my mind feels a little less foggy just from rambling on here.  Thanks for listening!  What are some random thoughts floating around your minds tonight?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Vacation Recap:: Day Four

This is the final day.  I know you are all weeping right now (Out of sadness or joy I don't know!).  Our final day was more like a half day.  We spent half of it doing vacation-y things and the other half driving home and unpacking and settling back in.  It was an overcast day, but still quite muggy, so we felt the need to be near the water once again. This time on paddle boats!  I haven't been on one of those things in a very long time.  It is quite a leg workout.  This time out we even brought Lucas with us.
Lucas wasn't a fan of his life jacket, but he learned to accept it and move on.

Papa and Leah doing all the work!

Grandma and Hannah enjoying the view!

It was a pretty view.

Afterwards we had time for one last frolic on the playground

Then we packed up and headed home.  We made one last stop in a very small town called Krebs.  It is the home of several authentic Italian restaurants and an Italian grocery store.  Perhaps it was a town settled by Italian immigrants?  I will have to do some research on that.  But whatever the reason, we enjoyed a yummy, filling lunch before the last push for home.  We were home by dinner time and after a light snack and a bath, the kids were in their beds asleep and totally worn out.  I always love crawling into my bed after being away for awhile.  It just reminds me how much I love my home. 

Now where to go next year?????

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Vacation Recap:: Day Three

Day Three was an awesome day.  It just might be my favorite day of our trip.  The following is a list of the things we did and the number of pictures we took of each event:

Horseback Riding:  zero
Swimming:  zero
Hiking/Cave Exploring:  approximately 5,329

For some reason, we went nuts taking pictures and videos of our hike, but failed to take any the rest of the day.  I will say, going on a guided cave tour was pretty fun.  #1) It was great exercise.  #2) I love hearing the history of the area.  Did you know that Robbers Cave got its name because it was a legendary hideout for the infamous bank robber, Jesse James as well as female horse thief, Belle Star?  Well, now you do!
#3) We got to explore several of the caves along the way.  Caves are cool.  #4) The area is just beautiful and I always appreciate a good walk through nature. 

Me and my girls at the base of the mountain.  Rested and ready to go!

We climbed that!

On the way up....
The girls did great! 

Our guide pointed out the advantages of camping/hiding out at this spot.  One of which was that you could see smoke signals from across the valley.  Very handy.

Hannah and Leah listening intently.  I just want it stated that I was listening while Mike was pulling off these shenanigans. :)

My dad and I probably discussing how hot we both were.  I love, love, love that my dad wore his sweatband circa 1985.

Giving the thumbs up because we all made it through a very tight squeeze.  Literally.  A rather large gentlemen in front of us couldn't fit and had to turn around and climb down another way.  We all had to do some serious contortions.  Everyone except the girls who glided through like water.

Like I mentioned earlier, we also went horseback riding later in the day.  We took an hour ride through some rocky, but beautiful terrain.  Leah and Hannah rode by themselves and did a great job.  I followed behind them on my horse, Applejack, who we decided must have been a bit tipsy because she kept tripping and nearly giving me a heart attack.  Overall, it was fun. We laughed a lot and the girls, being such big fans of horses, were on cloud nine.

We finished the day with a cool swim in the pool followed by a cookout back at the cabin.  We were all so tired, every single person was in bed by 9:00 and asleep shortly after that.  I love full days like this.  Full of family and adventure and so much LIFE!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Vacation Recap:: Day Two

Day two started off with the calm and hazy morning light pouring through the treetops.  It beckoned us all out of bed early and pulled us outside as soon as the breakfast dishes were cleared away. 

Hannah and Leah were like two kids in a candy shop with the selection of pine cones, rocks, pine needles and bird feathers found laying around outside.  They were constantly pretending to be explorers finding their "treasure."  One time Hannah found a dead butterfly, so they had a proper funeral to bury it.  And of course they played their fair share of tag and hide-and-seek.  Oh the joys of playing outside and getting your hands dirty!  They loved it.

The first plan for day two was to go canoeing, so we loaded up and headed down to the lake.  The girls had never been in a canoe and it had been years since I was last in one, but we all climbed in and enjoyed the sounds of the paddles dipping in and out of the water as we glided across the water.  I didn't take my camera for this adventure because I knew that if I did I would surely drop it in the lake.  But now, I regret that I didn't take the chance because I could have taken some pretty sweet shots.  I guess the memory will just have to stay in my mind!
Hannah pretending to be Pocahontas during one of the girls' many outdoor playtimes

Lucas and me enjoying the view
After canoeing, we came back to the cabin made some homemade pizza and a big salad for lunch.  We devoured it after working up an appetite rowing!  Later in the afternoon we took a short walk up the hill to where the Belle Star Lodge is situated.  The back of the lodge has a pretty great view of the area, so we soaked it in.  And soaked our clothes in sweat.  Did I mention how hot it was/still is? Oh my.

What else could we do after our walk but go swimming again!?  Since the pool was closed for maintenance, we went to a swimming area in the lake.  Clouds rolled in and even though it mercifully lowered the temperature a few degrees, it was still incredibly humid.  So a dip in the dark lake water felt refreshing.  Even with the rocks poking and scraping the bottoms of our feet. Note to self:  next time pack water shoes!

When we got back to our cabin, we started the process of seven people cleaning up (with one small bathroom it takes awhile!) so we could go out to eat in the nearest small town of Wilburton, OK.  The girls got cleaned up and settled in with a snack, and the next thing I knew they were drifting off to dreamland.

Hannah napping and Leah on her way out.  They were pooped!

Eventually we made our way into Wilburton to eat dinner at a local Mexican restaurant.  We didn't realize the town had an old movie theatre downtown which was showing Despicable Me, so after dinner we treated the kids to a movie.  We swore we would never be that couple who takes a baby into a movie, but we broke our own rules and took Lucas.  He fell asleep so it was no big deal.  Funny story from the movie:  At one point Mike tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to feel the back of his head.  Is it sticky?  He asked. In deed it was, but we didn't realize until the lights came on later that at one point the back of his chair had been taped together.  But the tape had long been ripped off leaving a huge glob of sticky residue behind.  Mike's whole shirt was covered in tape goo. Gross.  Oh well.  On the way home we all were treated to a beautiful sunset.  And all was right with the world.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vacation Recap:: Day One

Sunday morning we woke up early and loaded up the car (Mike is an expert car loader, by the way.  Like putting together a puzzle, he can make just about anything fit.)  By 10:30 we were ready to hit the road for our Summer 2010 Family Vacation to Robbers Cave State Park.  After we stopped by my parents' house to pick them up, we were officially eastward bound and on our way.   Our first stop was only an hour into our trip as we veered off the interstate in Shawnee, OK (our beloved college town) to eat a delicious barbeque lunch at Van's.  Then, we were back on I-40 headed toward Oklahoma Hill Country.  Did you know Oklahoma actually has some beautiful, hilly areas?  It's true!  It's not all dusty and flat.  I think most people imagine Oklahoma to be boring and depressing like it was depicted in The Grapes of Wrath.  Maybe out west in the panhandle things can look a little desolate and desert-like, but head east and it is nothing but green rolling hills and sparkling lakes for miles and miles.  Our sweet Lucas reached a big milestone on this trip as well:  facing forward in the car!  He is nine days away from his first birthday and weighs 21 pounds, so we made the decision to flip him around to enjoy a forward view.  He loved it!

One of my favorite things to do when we travel in any part of the counrty is to drive through and explore small towns.  I am fascinated by them really.  I gaze out the window at the historic buildings, run-down stores, and quirky signs, and I let my mind drift into daydreams and questions:  What would it be like to live here?  What do people do for fun in this place?  I wonder what our house would look like?  What jobs would we have? 
               Driving through McAlister, OK

After a three hour drive both on and off the interstate we finally arrived at our destination.

We checked into our small, but cozy cabin:

And explored our surroundings:

Behind the cabin
View from the front porch

There were plenty of tall trees to wander amongst and play tag around.  My aunt, uncle, three cousins and their spouses and children were all checked into the cabins next door which gave my kids plenty of playmates to run around with.  It was very hot (like 105 degrees!) and humid, so within minutes of playing all the children had pink faces and sweat-drenched hair.  After unpacking and organizing the food that we brought, the best way to end our first day at Robbers Cave was a dip in the pool.
Ahhhh....that feels nice.

PS) On a completely different note, go check out my friend Maria Rose's blog Little Things Are Big.  She is hosting great giveaways every day this week!  Woo hoo!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

LIVE On The Plaza

Yesterday evening we ventured out as a family to "LIVE On The Plaza."  This little area off of NW 16th street between Classen and Penn is a quaint section of town with a thriving art community.  There are vintage/antique stores, cafes, galleries, and retail shops selling local artwork and Made-In-Oklahoma products. The second Friday of every month all of these businesses are open late, local musicians play, and the street is full of people strolling along enjoying the evening.  After a rainy day, the sun peeked out just a bit, but the cool breeze and fresh rain scent remained making it a pleasant evening! 
Waiting for our food from Pops!
Smiling Boy (before he dumped an entire bottled water on himself!)
Rain washed sky

Another wonderful OKC Arts District is The Paseo.  Check out the Paseo Gallery Walk the first Friday of every month if you are in the area and support local art!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hannah's Story

Last week it was Hannah's turn to have her sleepover at Grandma and PaPa's house.  Every Thursday night the girls take turns getting some special time with their grandparents and some time apart from each other.  It is something they really look forward to, and I love that my parents always think of ways to make the girls' time there extra special. 

When Hannah came home last Friday morning, she was so excited to show me the book the had made with Grandma.  She thought up a story, drew the illustrations, then dictated the words to my mom who wrote them down for her.  The result was the following story.  I think it is so cute!

Warning:  It is slightly similar to The Little Mermaid.  Sorry Hans Christian Andersen and Disney.  She doesn't understand copyright laws yet. 

I expect in a few years she will be signing her best selling novels at Barnes & Noble. 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Fourth of July (on the fifth!)

I hope you all had a great day celebrating the Fourth of July with friends and family.  Here are a few snapshots of our day.
Grey skies and lots of rain

Festive kids
An All American Hunk (who is now officially walking fyi)
And fireworks, of course!!

Happy Birthday, America!

What did you do to celebrate?  Do you have any special holiday traditions?

Friday, July 2, 2010

We Met At A Cafe In Paris

First off, sorry for the delay in posting!  I had some technical difficulties with my computer, but it's all good now!  Sorry!


In 1995, I spent the month of June traveling around Europe.  I was eighteen years old, and it was my first time to fly across the Atlantic. During that month, I visited six different countries with two of my closest friends, LeAnn and Kim.  Our fist stop:  Paris!  We landed and hit the ground running, trying to stay awake to avoid jet lag.  The plan was to stay in Paris three or four days.  Luckily, Kim had some friends living there at the time, so we crashed on their fold-out couch in their small apartment.  The first few days were spent seeing all the major historic and iconic sights:  The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Musee de Orsay, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees, and Napoleon's tomb.  Our final day was spent taking it easy and doing some shopping.  For dinner that last night, we chose a quaint restaurant with cheerful red awnings covering the many outdoor tables and chairs.  We were quickly seated outside at the table nearest the front door.  From that vantage point we could see the steady stream of patrons both entering and exiting the cafe.  I remember watching a street performer just a few feet away from our table.  The sights and sounds of such a vibrant city were amazing.

A while later, we had eaten our dinner and were getting ready to head out.  It was evening, but it was not dark yet as I happened to glance up at two girls entering the restaurant with an older gentlemen who appeared to be their dad.  What struck me right off the bat was that the younger of the two girls was wearing a t-shirt with the name of an obscure band that I listed to.  Without hesitating I called out to her and asked about the band.  After chatting for a few minutes, it was obvious that we had a lot in common, so I invited the girl and her family to join us at our table.  Her name was Janie.  She was traveling with her sister, Andrea and their dad. 
Sometimes when you meet certain people, you just click right away.  It was like that with Janie and her family-- we just all got along so well!  They were from Illinois, we were from Oklahoma, and our conversation never slowed down.  Instantly we were talking and laughing and sharing stories like we old friends. And so it was that the six of us stayed at the restaurant until midnight! In fact, we all had to run to catch the last metro train, scribbling out our addresses on scraps of paper, promising to write (these were the days before email). 

And write, we did.  Janie was only a year younger than me, so we had a lot in common.  Six months later, Janie flew to Oklahoma to visit.  Six months after that, my friend Heather and I drove to Illinois to visit Janie.  We all attended a week long concert event called Cornerstone together along with Janie's other sister, Laura (who was not on the Paris trip).  The next summer, we flew back to Illinois to visit.  And so it went-- back and forth, even attending each other's weddings!  Today we don't see each other as often because we are all in different states across the country, but we still keep up via email and facebook.  We each have careers and families and lives of our own now.

And it all started when we met at a cafe in Paris.