Saturday, March 31, 2012

Soccer Boy

Lucas is obsessed with playing soccer. He begs me everyday to go outside and "kick with me!" He will run and kick the ball as long as we let him. Most of the time he plays until he is sweaty and his cheeks are pink and he is ready for a big cup of water.

Mike is thrilled with the idea of a soccer playing boy. He is a big fan of the English Premier League--especially Chelsea Football Club. They like to watch the games together on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Lucas gets excited when either team scores. And he is kind to tell whoever scores "good job!" What a sweet natured boy he is.

He may only like soccer while he is young, or he may play for years. Whatever his interests end up to be, we are just here to support him and love him along the way.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Last March We Thought We Were Going To Lose Her

Exactly one year ago today, I wrote this post.  It was entitled "Perspective" and I wrote it after the second worst day of my life.  The worst day-- the darkest, most painful day of my life-- was May 3, 2011.  The day my mom died.  The second worst day of my life was March 27, 2011 because it was the day we thought we were going to lose her.  My mom had developed a severe staph infection and my dad had called me that morning saying I needed to come to the hospital quickly.  Her chest wound was reopening, her fever was 105, she was septic, and she had to be put on a ventilator to breathe.  Things were not looking good.

I remember that day.  My stomach was churning as I waited the the family room.  Friends and relatives gathered to talk and pray.  The nurse came in and gave us a grim outlook.  I was panic stricken.  But it was not her day to die yet.  She miraculously recovered, and March 27th did not see the end of her life.  The next day I wrote the post I mentioned above.  I was reflecting on how perspective changes everything.  I could complain about the numerous health problems still facing my mom or I could just be thankful that she was still with us.  I chose to be thankful.  Little did I know, I had just six more weeks with her.

I've often thought that God doesn't allow us to see the future for many reasons.  Mainly, though, I think if we saw the difficult days ahead of us (and we all have them), we would perhaps not be willing to endure them.  It would be too overwhelming to walk down that road. Not knowing that I only had six weeks left with my mom made me appreciate each and every day because I didn't know if it would be her last.  I am so grateful God granted us that extra time.  Do I wish I had more time?  Without a doubt.  Do I wish we had a different outcome all together?  The answer would be a resounding YES!  But I also know none of us are guaranteed tomorrow, and I know God's perspective is so much higher than mine could ever be. So I rest in that.

Last March we thought we were going to lose my mom.
But we didn't.

Mom and me at my baby shower for Lucas
I like to think of her smiling and happy.  No chest wounds.  No tubes. No infection.
This is the way I will always remember her.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dropping Him Off

Lucas goes to Mother's Day Out one day a week. I enrolled him for many reasons-- to learn, to socialize, to play with other kids his age, and to give me one day a week to run errands and pick up the house by myself!

At the beginning of the year, my sweet boy would sob and cling to me for dear life. I second guessed my decision to send him, but pushed ahead anyway. Now, he walks right in, waves to his teachers, smiles and says, "Bye, Mom!" I am glad I decided to keep him in. I love seeing him happy and well adjusted. He does have one requirement though-- he must take green blankie with him for a little security. And I oblige.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Orange You Glad It's Saturday?

One of life's simple pleasures is fresh squeezed orange juice.  When bags of oranges go on sale, I grab a few so we can bring out my electric juicer and enjoy some of heaven's nectar.  It is a perfect way to start a Saturday morning.
Step One:  Purchase a bag of oranges.  These were on sale for $1.29!
Step Two:  Cut them in half and take a moment to enjoy their beauty and breathe in their citrus aroma.  
With both of my pregnancies, I craved citrus of all kinds.  I would buy multiple bags of oranges and drink their juice as if my life depended on it.  
Step Three:  Enlist a helper.  This lovely seven year old girl was a great assistant.  She also helped drink some juice when we were done.  Check out this post here.  I wrote it nearly four years ago when this same lovely girl was a cute three year old helping me make lemonade.  My how time flies!
Step Four:  Drink it up.  Have a second glass if you want to. It's okay.
Step Five: (optional) Have an orange stacking competition when you are finished.  

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Crying Day

My Mom
Spring, 1979

Some days are just sad days for me.  I wake up and can't shake the feeling.  
I pray.  I talk about it.  I reflect on good memories.  But no matter what I do, some days are just sad days.  

Today was one of those days.  I woke up aching to call my mom and talk to her.  It started off with something as simple as wanting to tell her about The Hunger Games.  I finished reading the first book last week while I was sick, and I really enjoyed it.  She loved young adult literature and sci-fi, so I know she would have really liked the book too.  I could just imagine the conversation we would have about it over lunch at our favorite spot-- Nikkellette's Cafe.  We would talk about our favorite parts, why we identified with the main character, which scenes surprised us, and how we could compare it to today's society.  We could have some seriously good conversations about books.

Today something as silly as a book got me thinking about her.  And missing her.  And something inside me just hurt really, really bad.  

So I cried a lot today.  
That's just the kind of day it was.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Science Museum

On this last day of Spring Break, Dad and I took the kids to the Oklahoma Science Museum. We went to play and explore (of course), but we also went to see the I-Max movie called "Tornado Alley". The film, narrated by Bill Paxton, was really great. The sweeping scenes of clouds moving in over the prairie were breathtaking. It was "scary" enough to hold the girls' attention, but also pretty educational too. After the movie and playtime at the museum, we went out for pizza and then headed home. We headed straight to the backyard where we spread out a quilt in the warm sun and played until dinner time. What a busy, full day we had! I love this season of life right now.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Barbie Family Photo

This photo is begging for a good caption. The girls worked hard to set up this shot. What do you think? Perhaps the cast of the next season of The Bachelor?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Zoo Day

Today was a zoo day.  Or otherwise known as "I have to get out of my house after six days of taking care of sick people" day!  Thankfully, we ALL woke up feeling great today.  No fevers.  No sore throats. The sky was blue, the clouds were puffy white, the sun was shining and the temps were just right to be outside.  The girls have been asking to see the new tiger cubs born not too long ago at the Oklahoma City Zoo, so we headed there this afternoon ready to play and see what we could see.

 I am in love with springtime right now.  Here's a beautiful Redbud tree in the Oklahoma Trails section of the zoo.  I love this area which features animals native to Oklahoma in their natural habitats.  Bear, coyotes, mountain lions, foxes, bison, and prairie dogs are all among the animals we saw today.  And my kids always love going into the big red barn to see the nocturnal animals like bats and owls and skunks.
 Lucas was obsessed with all the waterfalls in this area.  He requested his picture by this one and I happily obliged.  Notice he got his hair cut this morning?  So handsome.
 After we finished at the Trails, we went to see the Tiger mama and her four adorable tiger cubs.  The sky had turned overcast and the air was a bit cooler at this point which the animals love.  The cubs were running and jumping and pouncing on their mom.  It was pretty cool to watch.  Afterwards, we went to the Lion Overlook, but didn't see any real lions out and about.  We settled for the bronze ones instead.

We finished up our visit with a long stretch at the wonderful outdoor playground.  The sky was looking quite ominous at this point, and the zoo was getting ready to close for the day.  The kids got in a few more minutes of outdoor fun before we left.  We were there for nearly two hours and only toured two areas.  There is just so much to see!  

Just as we were a few steps away from our van, big, cold raindrops started beating down on our heads.  We were just in time!  All three kids dozed on the way home, worn out after six days with little strenuous activity. It felt good to be outside, breathing in the fresh air and enjoying our spring break for change!

What did you do today?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Children's Lit

I know I have mentioned my love of children's literature on this blog many times before, but I am going to mention it again! I come by this love naturally. My mom not only read to me often, but was an elementary school librarian for her career. She took over a sad, run-down library and over time turned it into a huge success. I used to volunteer in her library and always loved being amongst all the books. Even today a library is one of my favorite places to be.

I hope to pass on a love of reading to my own kids. They all enjoy being read to, and recently Leah has started picking up books to read on her own. Oh how that thrills this book-loving heart of mine!

With them feeling sick this week, we have done a lot of reading together. It seems our favorite books, the tried and true go-to stories we love, keep surfacing to the top of the pile. So I thought I would share a few of our favorite children's authors and books for you to look for on your next trip to the library.

The Corduroy books by Don Freeman
Mouse Soup & Fables by Arnold Lobel
Lyle the Crocodile books by Bernard Waber
Any book by Keven Henkes, especially Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse
Any Shel Silverstein book
Frances the Badger books by Russell Hoban

Let me know some of your favorites as well!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Same View

The view out my windows never changed today. From the moment I shuffled into the kitchen to start breakfast to the last daylight hour I sat in the living room with my family.

It was gray.
It was cloudy.
It was raining.
All day long.

We did not leave the house one time today. Mike went to work, of course, but the kids and I stayed put. It was a nice day. But I have to admit that we are all getting a bit stir-crazy after five days of sick recovery. Hannah fell victim to the flu yesterday, so our last family member has officially succumbed to illness. The only good news is that we have to be near the end. Right?

We are supposed to have another dreary day tomorrow, so I need to dig deep and come up with some more fun indoor things to do. We can always get out on Wednesday. I hope.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Day Spent In Bed

After trip to the doctor's office this morning, there are two more confirmed sick people in my house-- Leah has the flu and Lucas has double ear infections. In addition, Mike started to feel bad as well. So we spent nearly the entire day all chilling out on our bed. Thankfully, we have a king size bed which fits our family of five.

In the process we learned all the things five people can do while recovering from an illness. There were the obvious things like sleeping, watching movies and reading. But there was also UNO playing, rock-paper-scissor tournaments, and a few fierce rounds of 20 questions. There was laughing, storytelling and back scratching. And Lucas made sure we all had some fun playing cars too. My dad came by to pick up Hannah for a few hours. So far she is the only one who has avoided sickness. She was pretty glad to get out of the house for awhile.

I think today's day of rest was exactly what we all needed.

Friday, March 16, 2012

24 Hours Later

What a difference 24 hours can make! Now that the medicine has had time to start working I am feeling a whole lot better. It also helps that after Mike got home I did nothing but stay in my bed. I alternated between sleeping and reading all afternoon into the evening. I finished the first book in the Hunger Games trilogy and started the second. If I hadn't felt so puny it would have been pretty nice! Getting notes like the one below from my sweet girls certainly helps too.

Unfortunately Lucas and Leah are both running fevers now, so it looks like we could be in for a long weekend.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Quick Update

I woke up feeling worse than ever today, so I went to the doctor and ended up testing positive for both the flu and strep throat.  So I was wrong.  It was more than a cold.  Mike is on his way home to take care of me today.  And today is his birthday.  I feel bad, but it reminds me how much I really love him.

So no blog for tonight.  I'm going to quarantine myself in my bedroom, take my antibiotics and tamiflu, and sleep.

See you on the other side....

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Under The Weather

Yesterday morning I was in my Bible study class and thought the church had cranked up the air conditioner because I was freezing.  But then I realized when I got into my warm car afterwards, I was still cold.  I'd woken up with a bit of a cough and some congestion, and when I got home and took my temperature, I had a low fever.  Just enough to make me feel terrible, but not too high so that I couldn't function.  Lucas took his afternoon nap and I took one too, but woke up feeling worse.  By evening, I was a mess....102 fever, chills, body aches, and a throat that felt like it was on fire.  I've had my fair share of strep throat, and I just assumed I'd be making a trip to the doctor's office today.  Mike gave me some ibuprofen, tucked me into bed, and took care of the kids.  I think I slept for 11 hours straight, and thankfully woke up fever free today!  And my throat is not on fire anymore.  So I've just been home resting today, letting Lucas watch more cartoons than usual so I can sip hot tea and try to get better quickly.  I'm still coughing, so I'm thinking it is just a cold and will pass in time.

Anyway, just wanted you to know why I didn't blog last night.  Hopefully I'll be as good as new tomorrow! It's Mike's birthday, and I have some special things planned!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Garden Overload

This morning I met my friend at a local florist/greenhouse to check out the tree selection.  The two of us, along with a few other friends, are going in together to buy two trees for a family that recently experienced a great loss. The trees will be a memorial to the lives that are no longer here.  We knew we wanted to get flowering trees, and here in Oklahoma they are about to burst into full bloom.

I love being in a nursery.  The colors, the textures, the smell of fresh growing's almost too much.  I tend to go into garden overload.  I want to buy one of everything just to see what it looks like in my flowerbeds.  And then I get to the vegetable section and start planning out a huge garden.  I really feel like a kid in a candy store, but I have to restrain myself because I don't have the space, time or budget to do all I want to do.  Today as we looked for trees for our friends, I also considered it a scouting mission for my own yard.  I took notes and have some ideas of what I want to do this year.  The last hard freeze here is usually at the end of March, so April is the perfect month to start planting for the spring and summer months ahead.

As we strolled up and down the many rows of trees, we enlisted help from a knowledgeable store employee.  We asked him all kinds of questions about flowering trees that grow well in the hot summer months.  How long they bloom, do they need shade, what kind of colors are available, etc.  He answered all our questions and really helped us narrow down our selection.  Our first choice of tree was the pretty Dogwood with its soft pink blossoms.  However, we learned that those trees are heat sensitive, so we had to consider some other choices. We learned that fruit trees are the heartiest variety and can survive our brutally hot summers (last summer we broke a record with 63 days of 100+ temperatures).  Cherry trees, peach trees, Plum trees and Crabapples are all very pretty and thrive in the full sun.  And Redbuds are always a good choice.  They bloom for at least a month and are so delicate and beautiful.  In fact, they are our official state tree.

In the end, we left with a clear idea of the type of tree we wanted to plant for our friends.  And I left with a long list of gardening ideas.

What are your gardening plans this year?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Mix Tape

Do you remember the glorious days of the mix tape?  I hope you are old enough to have experienced the joy that fills one's heart when someone hands you a mix tape made especially for you.  Making a mix tape is truly a lost art.  I remember the painstaking process of choosing just the right songs.  There had to be a perfect amount of variety-- not too many songs from one band, but a healthy balance of music across the board.  The songs then had to be cued up to just the right spot in one tape deck while the blank tape sat waiting in the other tape deck.  Then came the tricky part-- pushing play with one hand and record with the other. If this was not done simultaneously, you had to start over.  It was a rule.  Of course you couldn't stray too far while the song was playing because you had to press stop as soon as it was over.  Then there was the whole problem of dead space at the end of a tape side.  You didn't want to cut a song short, but you didn't want a bunch of silence either.  You had to find just the right short song to fill the gap, timing was key.  And depending on the songs and who the tape was for, you had to make the decision to fill a 30, 60 or 90 minute tape!  Oh the decisions.  But when the tape was finished and the songs/artists carefully written on the paper cover, it was a glorious thing of beauty.

I remember having a few favorite mix tapes throughout the years.  They either stayed in my car or the stereo in my room until they wore out--literally.  I remember mourning the loss of one tape that got "eaten" by a finicky stereo.  It was a sad day.  Mike gave me a mix tape shortly after we started dating.  Yes, when we started dating I still had a tape player in my car.  I was super cool.  I listened to that tape over and over.  I remember that it had songs from Buffalo Tom, Mephiskapheles, The Cure, and The Breeders.  That tape got a lot of play as I drove back and forth between Oklahoma City and Shawnee.

As tapes were eventually phased out by CD's, the art of making a mix tape died a slow and painful death.  Mix CD's were (are) still great, but there is just something about the hard work that goes into making a mix tape.  Did you listen to mix tapes?  What were some of your favorite songs to listen to?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sleepy Boy

This boy was so tired today that he fell asleep right in the middle of my bed. I thought about moving him to his own bed, but then decided to just leave him there. He slept for a few hours while I went about completing some chores. But I peeked in at him often, staring at his sweet face and listening to his gentle, rhythmic breathing.

Innocence personified.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Saying Good-bye To Winter

This past Saturday my dad and I took the kids on a walk through a nearby nature reserve.  I've been coming to this park for over two decades, so I feel like I really know it.  I love how it changes each season.  So as we took what is probably our last walk through before it is officially spring, I sort of said my good-byes to winter and nodded my head to the few glimmers of spring I found.  I have to say that I am not a winter person.  I admire those who live up north and brave the snow and ice and longer coat-wearing season.  I try to appreciate winter none the less.
A few early messengers of spring!
Wormholes make interesting patters
Bluff Creek is low, but after some springtime rains, it will be full again.
In the winter, it is a perfect place to jump the rocks over to the shore.
Soon these bare branches will be full of leaves.  Oh how I've missed the sound of wind blowing through the leaves.  

So, good-bye winter.  I'll try to enjoy your last few days.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Snapshot

Me, My Dad and Mom
Owens Family Farm
I stopped by my Dad's house the other day and found myself going through some photos.  I always seem to end up there lately.  Seeing pictures of my mom throughout the years is both painful and comforting.  Going through the pictures, this photo stood out to me, so I took it home.  It is the perfect snapshot of how I remember my childhood.  Safe and secure with my mom and dad.  I love the joyful smile on my mom's face.  I remember that wonderful smile so clearly.  I remember her gentle nature.  I even remember that vegetable shirt she has on!

When I close my eyes and remember my childhood, this is what I see.  Oh I am so very grateful.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Outdoing Each Other In Love

Lucas and his sisters
October 2011
photo by Tanda Maguire

I heard an interesting discussion on the radio the other day.  The radio hosts were discussing the practice of "red-shirting" kids in kindergarten.  The practice has been around for awhile, but it has gained popularity in recent years.  What this means is to purposely wait to start your child in kindergarten until he or she is six, not five.  The idea behind it is to give your child an advantage over other students in both academic and athletic abilities.  The whole practice of red-shirting is based purely on this advantage, not holding a child back based on social immaturity or learning disability.  This is what makes the practice controversial.  One of the radio hosts read a quote from a mother who had recently appeared on a television program to discuss why she red-shirted her son.  While I don't remember the exact quote, she basically said she wanted her son to be the "tallest and smartest kid in the class."  Other parents that appeared on the program stated that they wanted their child to be an "alpha male."  And still others wanted their child to excel at sports, so even if their child was ready for kindergarten at age five, they would hold them back to give them a physical advantage.

This whole thing made me stop and think.  Lucas has a late July birthday which means he will either be a young five year old starting kindergarten or a six year old if we decide to wait.  For us, that decision will be made as we see how he grows and matures.  Some kids are ready at five while others do need to wait.  But holding him back in hopes that he will be bigger and better than everyone else is just silly to me.  Rather than pushing him into being the tallest or smartest or best at soccer, why not encourage him (and my girls too) to be the kindest, friendliest or most compassionate or helpful?  Not every kid is going to be the best at something.  It's okay not to be the smartest as long as you are doing your best.  What is most important is the quality of your character.

That is what I hope for my own kiddos.  There is a verse in Romans chapter twelve that says to "outdo one another in showing honor" (verse 10, ESV).  What would our world look like if we literally tried to outdo each other in how we display love and honored and respected each other?

Just something to think about......

Monday, March 5, 2012

My Dad Is Funny

My dad with Leah, Hannah and Lucas at The Badlands in South Dakota
July 2011
My dad is funny.  Not only does he make me laugh, but funny things happen to him all the time.  Seriously.  He could write a book on all the strange and comical situations he gets himself into.  And sometimes the situations come to him!  Like the time he dropped me off at a friend's house and a drunk man wandered up and punched my dad in the face.  Or the time the city accused him of dumping trash and he had to go to court to prove his case.  Or the time he got pulled over for sneezing while driving.  Or even the time he lost his underwear in Washington D.C.  I kid you not, there is no shortage of funny dad stories!

This weekend, he added two more to his repertoire.  First let's examine Friday night.  The girls were having their first sleepover at PaPa's house in over sixteen months.  They used to stay over all the time before my mom went into the hospital. But since then, things have been too crazy to do that....until now.  They have really missed the fun times they have there, and they were especially excited to stay over.  I dropped them off at 6:00 and Dad took them to Luby's for dinner.  They love to pick out their own food, and my dad is a big cafeteria fan.  It was a win-win situation.  Afterwards, they headed home to watch the new Winnie-the-Pooh movie.  Around 8:30 my dad calls and I could hear the girls crying in the background.  He tells me that they are locked out of the house, that the girls are freaking out, Leah has fallen and busted her lip open, and he is going to bring them home.  A few minutes later they came walking through the door.  Leah was crying about her lip, which was bloody and swollen.  Hannah was crying because her sleepover was "ruined!".  I immediately go check every key ring in our house looking for a spare key for his house.  Dad was planning to go home and break out a window to get back inside.  At the last minute I found one random key that was not labeled and could not be identified.  So with little hope, Dad took it home to tried a last ditch effort to get inside.  About 9:00 he called again to say that we had in fact located a spare house key and he was safely inside with no broken window.  So I packed the girls up again and took them back to his house for a second time.  This time, they stayed and had a fun sleepover.  It wouldn't have been complete without a little drama.

The second funny story happened on Saturday.  Lucas and I met up with Dad and the girls at a park Saturday morning around 10:00.  We played and took a long walk, and by 11:30 I was heading home with all the kids. Dad, on the other hand, was heading down to Norman to go to an OU men's basketball game with his friend Sally.  After the game, Sally had invited my dad to a fancy dinner party honoring a member of the Norman Rotary Club (of which she is a devoted member).  The dinner was a suit and tie affair, while the basketball game was more casual.  So my dad took his suit with him and planned to change before the dinner.  When he arrived at Sally's house to change, he realized that he had forgotten to pack a dress shirt.  So what does he do?  He wore one of Sally's white shirts!  He said his tie covered the fact that the buttons were on the wrong side, and his coat covered up the feminine french cuffs.  He said thankfully it wasn't the "puffy shirt" from the infamous Seinfeld episode!

As he recounted his feminine shirt episode, I cracked up because it was a typical example of a situation only my dad would get himself into.  He certainly keeps us all laughing!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Coming In The Clouds

This was the sky today, and it reminded me of this verse from Mark 14:62 where Jesus says, "You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."

If this sky is but a tiny fraction of the clouds of heaven, I can't even imagine the glory my mom is beholding now.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Funny Friday

Tonight Lucas found these two stuffed birds in Hannah and Leah's room. He has been carrying them around all night saying, "These are my angry birds."

We have been getting a good laugh out of it! Hope you are having a fun (and maybe funny) Friday too!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Better Weather

We have had one of the mildest winters ever in our state's history.  I know it is not over yet, but once we get to March we are pretty much in the clear for bad weather.  And today, on this first day of March, it was 80 degrees!  This beautiful stretch of weather has been drawing us outside more and more, which is a place I love to be.  This past weekend, on another beautiful day, we took the kids to Pops for a little dinner and outdoor play time.
I've blogged about this place before, but it's worth a second mention.  Pops is located in Arcadia, Oklahoma on an original stretch of Route 66. Even though it sits on a historic stretch of road, Pops features a very modern, almost futuristic look.  And it's claim to fame is its enormous selection of soda pop!  The glass walls are lined with a rainbow of flavors to choose from.  I'm not much for sweet, syrupy soda, but it sure looks pretty.   
Here's a flavor I thought sounded interesting, "Honey Kola".
If that's not your thing, they have everything from strawberry to orange to pineapple to ginger.
Mike got a Chicago-style root beer while I opted for my favorite-- Coca-Cola Classic.  
While we waited for a table, we sat on the back porch, enjoying the mellow weather and watching our kids run around in the very large backyard filled with trees and picnic tables.  Pops has the best roasted peanuts.  Truly the perfect soda sidekick.
After dinner, we went to a nearby elementary school playground to continue our outdoor play.  The girls played on the equipment while Mike and I had a mean game of tether-ball.  Eventually Lucas pulled Mike out to a soccer field to kick a ball around.  I admit I continued to practice my tether-ball skills alone much like Napoleon Dynamite.  Embarrassing, but true.  

It was a wonderful day!