Monday, February 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, Katie!

Today is my cousin Katie's 23rd birthday.
Here are some facts about my wonderful "baby" cousin:
1. She is an avid reader. I can always count on her for a good book recommendation. And she is a very gifted writer, I might add.
2. She is super smart. She was a valedictorian in high school, finished her college education early and with stellar grades, and is currently in law school at Fordham University in New York City.
3. She loves to travel. She spent an entire spring semester studying in France soaking up the culture and the language.
4. Katie was not born on the last day of February of 1988 because it was a leap year. We all wondered if she would end up with a 2/29 birthday!
5. She and I are two of twelve cousins. I am fourth in the line up and she is tenth.
6. Katie used to have sleep overs at our house when she was little. She and I would share a room and I remember that she snored louder than any little kid I had ever heard. Then she had her adnoids taken out and the snoring went away. :)
7. She has always reminded me of Belle from Beauty and the Beast because she shares the same love of books (and she is both smart and pretty!)
8. Katie is adventurous when it comes to food. She will try anything!
9. She has a great sense of style, and always looks so effortlessly put together.
10. She is beautiful, both inside and out!

Happy Birthday, sweet Katie Elizabeth!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Easy Like Sunday Morning

Me, Tanda, Nikki after church this morning
Hannah swinging away
Leah giving Brother a push

"Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
Romans 12:10-12

Saturday, February 26, 2011

You Scream, I Scream

We all scream for

Today started off by sleeping in until 8:30! That's right, all three of my children slept late which was a miraculous event around here. I actually got a full eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. Wahoo! I made some french toast for breakfast and washed it down with some cranberry-apple juice (we were out of orange juice. gasp!) Then I went about the process of getting everyone dressed and ready to head out to a birthday party. Our friends' son Hayden had his third birthday today and celebrated with a moon bounce and a cookout. The kids had a blast jumping on the moon bounce with their friends. Then we headed out to visit some new friends of ours, The Daggs. We only recently met them and their precious son, Kannon. Kannon is the same age as Lucas, but during the birth process, his brain was deprived of oxygen and as a result he is now severely disabled. He requires 24 hour care, and it is hard for his parents to get out of the house. So we came to them instead! I got to hold and snuggle that sweet boy while we chatted with his mom and dad who are amazing people by the way. The last eighteen months have been so very difficult for them, but they have handled it with amazing grace and incredible faith. So glad we had the opportunity to meet them!

On the way home, we stopped at Braum's for some ice cream. Hannah and Lucas went for a classic flavor-- chocolate. Leah usually goes for vanilla, but this afternoon she decided to take a step out of the flavor box and go for Birthday Cake! It is a crazy blue color with bits of real cake mixed in. I'm sure it is off the charts in the sweet category, but she loved it (as you can see by the look on her face!).

Now we are home. Lucas is asleep and the girls are watching Megamind. I love full days like today.

What did you do on this fine Saturday?

Friday, February 25, 2011

For Every Good Photo....

There are about ten or more that look like this.

Or this
Sometimes, I just don't get the perfect smiles that I was hoping for. But I am glad that I end up capturing a slice of "real life" in the process.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Shake, Shake, Shake.....

Shake, Shake, Shake...

Shake your booty
Shake your booty!

We are still doing dance battles a few nights a week around here, and we love it! Lucas likes to jump up and get into the action. Even the cats come out from their hiding places to see what their crazy humans are up to. I love the look on Ellie's face in that last picture of Leah dancing. She looks shocked at what she is seeing. I love having fun family time together!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Special Message

This is why I love working with kids. They know when you need an uplifting word. After my students had left for the day, I turned around to see this lovely note on my dry erase board. My second graders at Sunset Elementary School are the best!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

ABC Book

Monday morning the girls came up with a great idea for a project. They wanted to create their own ABC book to give to Lucas! I thought it was brilliant! They immediately got right to work setting out a big stack of paper in the middle of the kitchen island. Then they grabbed all of their crayons, colored pencils and markers and set right to work. "I'll do A and you can do B," Hannah told her sister. "And then we can switch back and forth," Leah agreed. On each page, they write the upper and lower case letter then draw all sorts of pictures of words that start with that letter. Sometimes they ask me to help them spell the words and sometimes they spell things phonetically. It all works. They have been taking their time and working on their book every spare moment they have.

Leah hard at work on the letter J page
Hannah discussing what to draw for the letter K

They just got home from school a little while ago and they are at the table, eating a snack and working on the letters U through Z. They already have plans to make a number book and a rhyming book next! I love watching them work together on their ideas. I feel like I need to sing a Wonder Pets song at this point (sing it with me if you know it), "What's going to work? Teamwork! What's going to work Teamwork!"

I am still debating how I am going to put this book together in a creative way. But I promise that when it is finished I will post some pictures.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Shopping Etiquette

Today was a busy day. I worked out this morning from 9:15- 10:30. Then I came home, showered, ate lunch, and headed to work. I worked from 12:30 to 3:15 and went from there to the grocery store for my weekly shopping trip. After that I came home, unloaded all the food, loved on my kids a bit, then started dinner. By the time it was all cleaned up and kids were bathed and in bed, it was 9:00! Some days are just crazy!

While at the store today I noticed I tend to do our shopping the same way week in and week out. I guess I get stuck in a routine and then don't veer off the path much. For example, I always plan a menu for the week ahead. Then I make a grocery list based on what food items we need to make those specific meals. After that, I make a list of food "staples" that I know we will need such as bread, milk, etc. Finally, I do a quick scan of a few money saving blogs that I follow to search out any good deals on things that I know I will use. Sometimes this involves cutting coupons or going to a store that I don't normally shop at, but it is worth it for the savings.

Once I have done all my planning, I do the bulk of my shopping at the same store every week. I like being familiar with the layout and knowing where to find just about anything. I start shopping at the same end of the the store every week (the fresh produce section) then weave my way up and down the aisles until I wind up at the opposite end of the store in the dairy aisle. I can get through the routine pretty quickly now, when I don't have any kids with me, of course.
In all my trips to the store, I've also noticed a few rules of etiquette when it comes to grocery shopping.
1. Carts stay on the right side of the aisle, much like driving down the road.
2. When you come up to another shopper who has parked his/her cart on the right side while debating whether to buy Raisin Bran or Cinnamon Toast Crunch, it is polite to wait for about a minute. Then you may pass the parked cart and move on. *In this scenario I am envisioning a crowded aisle. If it is not busy, feel free to pass the parked cart sooner.
3. If you happen to criss-cross paths with the same shopper as you move up and down the aisles, it is appropriate to smile and nod only the first two or three times. After that, you can feel free to go about your business and not feel obligated to continue to acknowledge each other out of feeling a little awkward.
4. If you have a full cart in the check out lane and another shopper gets in line behind you holding only one or two items, absolutely let them go ahead of you. You would want them to do the same for you if the situation were reversed.
5. Always put your cart away in the parking lot. It's really simple.

There you have it. Grocery Store Etiquette 101. Think I should add anything?

*Photo found here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Boy and His Cars

Lucas has just recently been playing with his cars. He drives them around on the floor and makes cute little car noises. Until now, the only thing he was ever interested in playing with were balls. He still likes to kick, catch and throw any kind of ball, but now we can add cars to the list of things he likes to play with too! I love watching him grow and change.

Cars in action. Note the yellow ball in the photo too. The boy is never without a ball nearby.
This one is for your lap, Mom!
So many cars, so little time.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hafer Park

It was 77 degrees today, so we did what everyone else in the Edmond, OK area did.....we went to Hafer Park! It was packed. There were tons of people there doing all the typical outdoor activities you could possibly think of. Kids were running, swinging and climbing on the different playgrounds as well as exploring in the woods around the park. Groups of teenagers and adults were playing soccer or tossing a frisbee. A dad and son were flying a kite. There was a family cooking out on a grill, the smell of charcoal and good things to eat filling the air. Lots of men and women were jogging the trails. There was even a large group of people engrossed in LARP. They had swords and shields and some were decked out in Medieval gear, We stopped to watch for awhile. Even with the crowds we had a great afternoon together.

Want to see your kids smile? Tell them you are taking them to the park. And then they will gladly pose for a photo too.
So excited, I tell you!
Ready to climb and play
My Little Man opted to just dig into the ground with a stick for his entertainment.
Leah laughing
Sliding with Sis

Perfect sunny winter day
Leah Rae
Hannah Joy

Love my crew! It was hard to get them to be happy about standing still for yet another photo at this point in the day. Oh well, I still love them. :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Photo from the Past

Mike and Me
August 1998

Have you ever looked at a photo at a person's house and wondered at all the details surrounding it? I thought I'd find a random picture at our home and attempt to explain the story behind it.

Mike proposed to me on June 16, 1998. It was the summer before my senior year in college and Mike had just recently graduated and started his first professional job. After telling everyone the good news, we quickly called my home church and booked June 4th of the following summer for our wedding. The rest of that summer was a blur of trying on dresses, finding a reception site and taste testing wedding cakes. In the middle of all of the fun wedding activities, Mike's parents called and said they would like to throw us an engagement party at their home in New Jersey at the end of August, just before school started back for me. I was thrilled! The party they threw was amazing. So many of their close friends attended to celebrate with us and many of them were incredibly generous to us. Mike's mom outdid herself decorating the home and had prepared food galore. It was a fantastic night that I will always remember fondly.

A few days later, Mike's parents said they would like to have a "date" with us before we headed back to Oklahoma. The engagement party was wonderful, but it was a busy night, and they wanted to have an evening that was more laid back so we could spend some quality time together. At the time, Mike's parents owned a boat. It was a long speed boat, also called a "cigarette boat." Mike's mom packed a wonderful picnic dinner, and the four of us headed out in the late summer afternoon to take the boat for a ride around Manhattan Island. That night is one of a handful etched perfectly in my mind. I remember the salty smell of the water. The chill of the wind whipping through my hair. I remember the sensation of flying over the water, hitting a few wakes along the way and bobbing up and down. We sped around the island, stopping here and there as Mike's dad pointed out the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building, and many other iconic landmarks. The sun started to fade and reflect off the skyscrapers rising high above us, and the bright lights of New York City started to twinkle in the purple evening light. We "parked" the boat just off of Liberty Island where Lady Liberty herself towered over us. It was there, with the gentle sound of waves lapping the side of the boat, that we sat and ate our picnic dinner and chatted about the upcoming wedding. We stayed until it was dark, then headed back to New Jersey. All the way back I kept turning around to see the lights of The Big Apple getting smaller behind me. I was so excited for the future, about marrying Mike, finishing school, and whatever adventures were still to come. And what a fun adventure it has been! The picture above was taken on this wonderful night. I love that you can see the Twin Towers standing tall in the background.

So now, in the words of Paul Harvey, you know the rest of the story. :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Good-bye Snow!

Today we said good-bye to this little fellow below. The snow is officially gone around here and replaced by two days of 80 degree weather! Seriously! We had a blizzard last week with a foot of snow and wind chills of -31 degrees. This week, we've had to break out the short sleeves and flip flops! I had the air conditioning on in my car today, but refused to turn it on in my house. Crazy Oklahoma weather for sure.

Hannah's little snowman. She created him out of one of the last piles of snow a few days ago. Only his carrot nose was left in the grass today. Though it was short, he lived a good life.

I will say there are plenty of good things about warm weather in February. Mainly that we have had our windows open for two days now and our house smells incredibly fresh and spring-like AND we've been playing outside like crazy. It feels good to fill our lungs and pump our legs after being cooped up for a few weeks. This evening we had played a few rounds of "Mother May I?" and a few games of soccer (which is really just running and screaming and chasing after a ball while following no set of rules in particular). I love these unexpected warm days!

What's it like where you are?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Beauty and the Beast

Yes, that is a blurry picture of me holding two tickets to the traveling Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast! Nikki and I are headed downtown tonight to eat a nice dinner and see a show. It is my way of saying "thank you" for all her hard work yesterday. So excited for a girls' night out without any children to take care of for a few hours. Love these kids of mine, but I am really looking forward to some adult conversation. Maybe I will be able to complete a few sentences!

Oh and as a side note, my top three favorite Broadway shows are:
1. Les Miserables
2. Phantom of the Opera
3. Wicked

Maybe this will be a close 4th? We shall see.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Good Friend

My good friend, Nikki, came over today and helped me clean my house from top to bottom. I'm talking baseboards, scrubbing shower floors, sweeping, mopping, and getting the dust of of ceiling fans kind of cleaning. "Deep cleaning" as it is known. Nikki and I have cleaned houses together in the past as a part time job. Then one day a few weeks ago it dawned on us that we could help each other clean our own houses and get the job done in half the time. Since neither of us can afford to pay a house cleaner, why not trade off and do it ourselves! Pure genius! We started off at 10:00 this morning and were finished by 2:00, with only a short break for lunch. And we each had our 18 month olds running around! Not bad, if I do say so myself. And later, after Nikki left, I was so inspired by my sparkling clean house that I managed to get our laundry under control too. Now that is an accomplishment!

So now I am getting in bed early to read and relax in my wonderfully clean house. Man, I am so very thankful for good friends!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day 2011

Leah and her Lovebug
Hannah at her Valentine's Day party this afternoon
Sisters playing with a Valentine gift from Daddy

Valentine's Day is a fairly low key event in our house. It's not that we have anything against the holiday, but we don't like to spend lots of money on things that we don't really need in an attempt to say "I love you." Don't get me wrong, I would never begrudge a bouquet of roses or some delicious chocolate. Instead we do things like make homemade Valentine's Day cards, have a meal together, give a small gift to the kids, and make a point to tell each other why we love each other.

Mike and I did have some special Valentine's Day celebrations in the past, however. I remember one year when we were dating, we dressed up in our fancy duds and went to see the Oklahoma City Ballet's performance of Dracula. Another time, in our dating years, Mike took me to a very swank restaurant at the top of a tall building with 360 views of the city. The restaurant slowly spun in a circle as we ate. It was quite romantic. My favorite Valentine's Day, though, was in 2000. It was our first Valentine's Day as a married couple and we waited until the day of to try to make a reservation at a few nice restaurants in the area. Of course, everything was booked, so Mike went to pick up a pizza instead. While he was gone, I spread out a tablecloth on the floor of our small apartment, got our our nice china (that we received as wedding gifts, but had yet to actually use) and lit several candles in the room for ambiance. I remember we sat eating our pizza just as happy and content as if we were in some expensive restaurant.

What are some of your favorite Valentine's Day memories?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sleepy Sunday Boy

Sundays are for falling asleep in Daddy's lap.
Hope you had a restful day today too!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Favorite Time at School

I look back on my elementary school days with a lot of fondness. Junior high years? Now, that's a different story. But elementary school is just so innocent and fun and sweet in my mind's eye. From kindergarten through fourth grade, I attended Woodland Elementary School in Graham, Texas. The summer after fourth grade, I moved to Oklahoma City and attended fifth and sixth grade at James L. Dennis Elementary School. But whether I lived in Texas or Oklahoma, my favorite time of the day in any grade was when my teacher would read out loud to the class. I'd go to lunch, play outside during recess, then come in to find my teacher sitting on a stool at the front of the classroom, book in hand and ready to read.

I remember when my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Brown, read Beauty by Bill Wallace. She cried at the end when Beauty, a young boy's beloved horse, has to be put down. I remember it was the first time I had ever seen a teacher cry. It really touched me because I felt like crying too and it was good not to be alone.

And then there was the time my third grade teacher, Mrs. Mersiovsky, read the book Skinnybones by Barbara Park. What a funny book! During one particularly humorous chapter, she started laughing so hard she couldn't finish the sentence she was reading. In fact, I remember she cackled so loud that she covered her mouth and then dabbed at her eyes. I still think back to that moment. I remember laughing right along with her and several other students in my classroom. It was like we had shared in our own little joke.

Then I became a teacher. I couldn't wait to read with my students! When I was student teaching my fourth grade class, we read Sarah, Plain and Tall together. I still remember how quiet it was in the room as I read how Sarah came all the way from Maine to hopefully be Anna and Caleb's new mother. And then when I had my own classroom, I had so much fun choosing which books I would read to my kids. I remember reading Holes, Small Steps, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Tuck Everlasting, Walk Two Moons, Where the Red Fern Grows, A Long Way From Chicago, and Freak the Mighty (just to name a few). After reading a chapter or two, I would close the book and instantly someone would ask, "Just one more chapter? Pleeeaaasssee?" Then more students would chime in with, "Please, Mrs. Galloway? Just one more?" Usually, I would give in, reading one more chapter. What good memories I have during those times!

And you know what else? Like my sweet sixth grade teacher, I also read Beauty every year. And every year, I cried too.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Just thought I'd share a piece of my reality today. There are days when my kitchen is one big mess of dirty dishes. And that laundry basket over on the table? Yeah, that would be one of SIX loads that needs to be folded and put away. Then there are the three loads that need to still be washed, and the girls' room that got completely destroyed during a major all day play session.

BUT, we had yummy, homemade food all day with lots of leftovers. We have plenty of warm, clean clothes to wear (even if we have to dig through a basket to find them...ahem). And the girls spent the day engrossed in creative play instead of sitting in front of the television. So, there really is a silver lining to all the "mess" that comes with our day.

Time to go tackle that kitchen now.....

Thursday, February 10, 2011

In Sickness and In Health

Earlier this month my parents celebrated 41 years of marriage. You know that line in the wedding vows where you promise to love each other "in sickness and in health"? Well, I am seeing that vow lived out in their lives right now. My mom came home from the hospital on January 24th. She was home for a week, then went back into the hospital for eight days, and is now home again. She has had open heart surgery, pneumonia, two bacterial infections, a collapsed lung, and a stricture in her esophagus which prevents her from eating or drinking anything. She needs physical, occupational, speech and respiratory therapy. She needs her wound vacuum dressings changed every other day. She needs help with her peg tube feeding and even help getting herself to the restroom. She is tired and she is weak. But in all of this "sickness" I have seen my dad's steadfast love for my mom shine through. He logged countless hours at the hospital when she was admitted back in November. Even when there wasn't much for him to do or when she was just sleeping all day, he wanted to be there. Now that she is home, my dad is playing the role of full time nurse. He is putting his job on hold so he can care for her 24 hours a day. My mom's sister helps out quite a bit too, relieving my dad so he can run a few errands. And of course, I try to stop by when I can. Lately, though, illness and bad weather have prevented me from seeing her. But I know my dad is right there to cover her with a blanket, change out her iv medication, or just keep her company. He is her rock, and she has told me many times that she is so grateful for the wonderful care he provides for her. It's the same kind of loving protection that he gave me, and continues to give me.

I am so blessed.

PS-- The above photo of my parents was taken in 1970 soon after they got married. Actually, it is a painting of a photo that they had taken. My mom says the artist took some liberties with the brightness of Dad's purple shirt and tie. Cause I don't think in my entire life I've ever seen my dad wear a purple shirt/tie combo. :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Another Snow Day

Bundled and ready to play
Daddy and the three amigos
Lucas wasn't too sure of the snow.
Nothing like a warm bath after playing in the cold snow
And some hot chocolate to warm your insides too!

Just another snow day at our house! I hope you are warm and cozy wherever you are!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Snow Ice Cream

We just went through a record-breaking blizzard here OKC, and tonight we are preparing for "Blizzard: The Sequel". Yes, another foot of snow is set to fall during the early morning hours. The girls' school is already closed in preparation. So I thought I'd show one fun thing we did during the last blizzard. The girls and I weren't feeling well at all, so we didn't actually get out and play in the snow or build a snowman (much to their dismay). But we did manage to make some snow ice cream.

First, gather 8 cups of fresh snow.
It's chilly!
Next, add a cup of milk.
Then a cup of sugar.
Finally add some vanilla to make it taste extra sweet. (This recipe called for two 2 tablespoons, but I thought that was way too much.)

When it was all said and done, it looked a little like oatmeal.
But it sure tasted sweet!