Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Like Dominoes

If you are a mom, I am sure what I am about to say will resonate with you no matter if you have one child or five children. When you get a busy stretch of days, routine housework gets put on hold, and before you know it you are living in downright chaos. After nine years of parenthood, I am still amazed by this fact. I sometimes look around and think, "wasn't this house clean like two days ago?" 

After a busy birthday/holiday-prep weekend, our house had exploded in mess, disorganization and piles of laundry. Usually if I go even one day without doing at least one load of laundry, it's like setting the falling dominoes in motion. I decided that since all three kids were in school today, I was going to put a whopping on the mess and get things back under control. 

Here's a riviting list of some of my tasks accomplished today:

--Six loads of laundry done. Washed, folded and put away. Bam.
--Two loads of dishes washed and put away. Like a boss.
-- Crusty cat vomit cleaned off of Hannah's comforter (Gross, I know. It skipped by me! Ellie sleeps on her bed every day and night. It's clean now). Got anything else to throw at me?
-- Two bowls of crusted on the top, soggy underneath bowls of cereal dumped and scraped. 
-- Puppy poop cleaned off my scarf. Double, extra gross. I had hastily thrown my scarf on a chair today. It slid to the floor and while my kids were supposed to be keeping am eye on her as I cooked dinner, she decided to relieve her bowels. On my scarf! Officially done with cleaning animal messes!
-- Mooped the kitchen floor. Holla!
-- Vacuumed the whole house. Oh yeah!
--Emptied the trash. High five!
--Managed to play with the kids and cook dinner for the Fam. Super mom (I am not, but sort of felt like it.)

I know there are no mommy awards out there (and many days I do not earn one at all!), but today I kind of wish I had a ribbon or something. It was a long hard day, but I think all my dominoes are upright and ready to go again.

Monday, December 16, 2013

9th Birthday

 Happy 9th Birthday, Hannah and Leah.
May you always hold each other's hand.
And tell each other secrets

And giggle together

And act goofy

And know that you are forever loved.

 What a gift you both are-- yesterday, today and always.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Slumber Party

My girls turn 9 on Monday, the 16th. This is halfway to 18 and I can't even talk about that without tearing up! So for their party this year we told them they could invite three friends over for a slumber party. Oh my. Did I just say slumber party? My own person memories of slumber parties in elementary school are kind of wild. I remember there being a lot of girls, little parent supervision, watching movies that I wasn't allowed to watch like Dirty Dancing, lip synching to Nasty Boys by Janet Jackson, staying up all night and freezing each others' panties (while your friend is asleep steal their undies out of their bag, get them wet and stick them in the freezer. They will be frozen solid in the morning). 

Um....our version tonight is a much more tame, G-rated kind of slumber party. Pizza, charades, cupcakes, and a movie (Despicable Me 2). So far all the girls are getting along great and are having fun giggling and just hanging out together. I'll give a full pictorial update tomorrow, but here's a quick glance from my camera phone!

         "We're here and we're excited!"
            "Happy Birthday to You!"

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cherry Winks

Tomorrow is our annual Christmas party at the gym where I teach.  After class we always have treats, and we usually do some sort of Dirty Santa gift exchange. Unfamiliar with Dirty Santa? I will quickly explain. If you already know, skip to the next paragraph. Dirty Santa involves bringing gifts and writing down numbers on pieces of paper according to however many gifts are up for grabs. For example, 15 people brought 15 gifts, so numbers 1-15 are written down and placed in a bowl or jar. Everyone draws a number. Whoever draws #1 selects any gift he or she wants, opens it and lets everyone see. Starting with number #2 and all the way through #15, people can either select a wrapped gift or "steal" one that is already open. A gift can only be stolen three times before it is "frozen" and no longer up for grabs. At the end, person #1 gets to go one more time since he or she didn't have an opportunity to steal in the beginning. The end.

So tomorrow after class we are having a crazy-colored exercise sock Dirty Santa exchange. Neon colors seem to be the thing now (hello 80's!) so I found a pack of bright neon orange, lime green and pink exercise socks to bring to the par-tay. In addition, I am bringing a little something to add to the food table. This year, I'm busting out an oldie, but goodie cookie recipe. My grandmother used to make these and although there is a decent amount of prep work, the outcome is a sweet, rich cookie that is a nice change from your standard chocolate chip or sugar cookie. I love the combination of pecans, cherries and dates, but you could totally play with the fruit/nut combos that you like to eat.

I present to you the Cherry Wink cookie.  Ta-da!

Aren't they pretty? The red color is festive for the Christmas season (or just pretty no matter what season it is or what holiday you are celebrating!).

Here's the recipe!
Sift the following dry ingredients into a bowl:
2 1/2 Cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Using a mixer, cream together:
3/4 Cup butter, softened (which is 12 tablespoons if that's easier)
1 Cup sugar

To the butter and sugar, add:
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix thoroughly. Add the sifted dry ingredients and mix again. Finally add the following and do one final good mix:
1 Cup chopped pecans
1 Cup chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries

Finally, crush 2 1/2 Cups of Corn Flakes cereal in a bowl. Drop the dough by heaping teaspoons into the crushed cereal and roll into balls. Place on a greased cookie sheet and top with a fourth of a maraschino cherry on each. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes.

These are really, really good! If you don't like maraschino cherries, dried cherries would work. Or even dried cranberries. Or be crazy and try dried blueberries! If you don't like dates, try figs or prunes or raisins instead. Walnuts would be a nice substitute for pecans or just omit the nuts altogether if you don't like 'em! Really the fruit and nut combinations are endless. I happen to like the sweet note that the maraschino cherry adds to the cookie which is funny because I don't like maraschino cherries plain. But chopped up in a cookie, they are delicious! I'm weird like that.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Little Family History. And A Story.

My dad
1st Grade
Stecker, Oklahoma

Have you ever heard of Stecker, Oklahoma?


I didn't think so. Stecker is not a town. It's more of a smattering of old houses and abandoned buildings over a few square miles of Oklahoma farmland.

There's no school.  No post office. No bank. No chamber of commerce. No businesses at all.

It's practically a ghost town.

There's no sign for Stecker off the highway. If you find yourself there, you either a. live there b. are completely lost or c. you are visiting my family.

My dad was born in 1947, the oldest of five children to a farming and ranching family near Stecker in southwestern Oklahoma. At the time, Stecker was an actual bonafide town. A small town, but an official town. It had a post office. You could buy and trade at Tripp's Country Store. You could worship at either the Methodist church or the Baptist church. And there was the Stecker School, grades K-8 only. If you went beyond the 8th grade, you had to attend high school in the nearby town of Apache. The families that lived in the area were farming families. Kids worked hard, rode horses everywhere and swam in Hog Creek to cool off in the summer. In Stecker, everyone knew everyone. Either you were related or you went to school together or you had neighboring farmland.

As the oldest, my dad spent a lot of time out in the fields helping his dad work the land and tend to the animals. Because of this, my dad has SO MANY stories to tell. One of my favorite stories is a Christmas story that he has told me and my kids many times. They always think it is funny.

When my dad was in elementary school, the kids in the school put on a Christmas play for the parents and other members of the Stecker community. The play was a scene out of Santa's Workshop. All the kids were elves, busily working and hammering on new toys. The boy picked to play Santa was a big, country boy who had a bit of an accent. You see, people from small towns down here in Oklahoma have a little twang to their talk. If you're not used to it, it's a bit like understanding a foreign language. Santa's big opening line was to walk into the workshop and declare, "What is all this racket for?"

But here's how he would say it, "What is all this racket fer?"

In country speak, "fer" equals "for."

Every day in practice, he would say his line with the word "fer" and every day the teacher would correct him and say, "No, it is FOR not FER!" Dad says the poor guy really did try his best. But when the big night came and the performance was in full swing, he walked on stage and declared, "What is all this racket fer?"

And without missing a beat, all the elves on stage looked up and said in unison, "IT'S FOR!!!!!"

Dad says it was the best, and funniest, play ever put on in the great town of Stecker. And you can take that to the bank. If there was a bank in Stecker.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

In Words and Pictures

There has been a lot of activity at our place over the last ten days or so. I'll have to write in more detail later. For now, here's a list of words and pictures to explain it all:

1. We got a puppy! Meet Roxie Galloway, the Wonder Boxer. She is 7 weeks old, sweet, loves to snuggle and play. And pee and poo. It's what puppies do. Our kids are over the moon bonkers about her!

2. I got a sinus infection. Sick for a week and then started antibiotics. Feeling better now thankfully!
3. Mike's parents and 91 year old grandmother came from New Jersey to visit and have Thanksgiving with us.

4. Our 14 year old dryer bit the dust. Our matching washer had been overflowing and starting to rust, so hallelujah we got a new set! Our old dryer was taking nearly two hours to dry an average sized load. And anyone with kids knows that the amount of laundry they produce is astounding. It was getting old fast.  I think I heard angels singing when I finished my first load with these bad boys.

5. Leah got an award at school for showing a giving spirit to her classmates. Love that girl. She really is a little sunshine. 

6. We had an awesome Thanksgiving at our house. Lots of food, beautiful weather and family. It was really wonderful. 

With all this going on I have been away from the computer. Once things settle back into a normal routine next week, I'll be back. Hope you all have been doing well! :)

Oh and here's a few more Roxie pics for your viewing pleasure. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Family Fun Night

Last night I took Hannah and Lucas up to the church where Lucas attends school for their Family Fun Night. It was a combination of games and bounce houses along with a silent auction to raise money for new playground equipment. Leah couldn't attend because she has gymnastics on Thursday evenings, so Mike went with her and took her out on a dinner date afterwards. 

Lucas was super stoked to go up to his school and show Hannah and I his classroom, introduce us to his friends and show us around his "hood". 

First we hit up the auction tables. I actually bid on three things, but got out bid on all of them. I sort of felt my competitive nature rising up, but I let it go. Mike would have killed me if I become involved in a bidding war and ended up spending $500 on a basket of kitchen gadgets. 
One of the items I bid on: a Family Game Night basket. I am still a little bitter about not getting it. 

After that we ate dinner, played a few games, then got in line for some face painting and balloon animals. The guy making the balloons was a lot of fun to watch. He had obviously been practicing his craft for awhile. We ended up with a dinosaur, a poodle, a horse and two bow & arrow sets. All but one of those things have since popped, but they were fun while they lasted! Next up was the face painting. It was a big decision, but here's what we ended up with. 
Lucas the Dinosaur (note: green make up does not wash off easily. After several scrubbings, he still looked a little like he was jaundiced.)
And my beautiful Hannah the Butterfly. She loved it and did NOT want to wash it off later. 

We ended the night with a long stretch at the bounce house flowed by a thirty minute volunteer slot at one of the games. We got home in time to hang out with Mike and Leah before getting everyone in bed. 

Just another busy, but fun night here in the Galloway House!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gray Hair

In our family, I am not the only one with gray hair. Even though I cover mine up every eight weeks or so, I am not alone. And it's not Mike either. He still has a head full of black hair. 
Instead, it is none other than my four year old! 
Say what?
Back in March of this year, when he was still 3, we were at an outdoor birthday party for a friend of ours. I looked down and thought the sunlight was just reflecting off his head. Or that he had white icing stuck in his hair. But upon further examination, I noticed a small area of scattered gray hairs. 
I pointed this out to Mike and a few other people at the party and no one had a clue what to make of it. Over the next several months, the gray hairs increased in number. I performed numerous scalp checks to see if there was anything on his head that could possibly be causing it-- a mole? birthmark? scar? 
Nope. There was nothing that I could see that could possibly be causing it.
So in July, after he turned 4, I asked our pediatrician about it at his well check appointment. 
She too did a thorough scalp exam. She even got out her lap top and googled "large smattering of gray hair" on some fancy private doctor google site. She said she has seen patches of gray hair before, but they have always been linked to something else like a skin disease or even deafness. Lucas' gray hairs are more scattered, not so much a "patch". However, they are contained to only the front part of his head at this time. In the end, our doctor suggested that if we wanted to have him examined by a pediatric dermatologist, he or she might provide some further information. In the mean time, she would continue to research it and as long as he is healthy (he passed his hearing test, fyi) to just keep an eye on it and go from there.  I know it's not life threatening or anything, but is just more of a bizarre occurrence. I hope in the future no one makes fun of him for it- -especially if the gray hairs continue to increase in number. I suppose when he's older, he could always dye his hair if it bothered him that much. Really, I just think it makes him even more unique, and I hope he learns to embrace that about himself.
Because I like him just the way he is. :)
 Can you see the gray? 
You wouldn't believe how many people ask me if he has something in his hair. 
He's learned to say, "It's just my gray hair!"
Yep. He's a keeper. Gray hair and all,

PS-- In my own googling of the issue, I've come across two articles that suggest a vitamin B12 deficiency has been linked to early graying in children. I've started giving him a daily vitamin with 100% B12, so we'll see if this reverses the graying process. It can't hurt I don't think. I'll keep you updated!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

I Needed To Hear Her Voice

I have approximately 2,574 emails sitting in my inbox. I am terrible about getting rid of them. I have this fear that as soon as I hit "delete" I will need that particular email again. Sometimes I have to scroll through pages and pages of emails to find one that I am looking for. There's probably a better system, but sorting and going through all those emails is pretty low on my priority list right now. Anyway,  a few weeks ago I had to go all the way back to 2010 looking for a certain email.

And there it was.

Sitting there like a little hidden treasure.

Not the email I was looking for, but an email from my mom.

My mom went into the hospital for open heart surgery on November 2, 2010. She stayed there until May 2, 2011 when she was discharged to go home. We knew the end was near, but we had no idea how near. She died suddenly at home the next day, May 3, 2011. During her long hospital stay, she had a tracheotomy for much of the time, which prevented her from talking. She kept a notebook and pencil on her bed at all times so that she could communicate by writing. But when we couldn't be with her at the hospital, there was no way to talk to her directly. As a solution to the problem, my dad and I ended up buying her an iPad so she could email us whenever we weren't there. It ended up being a perfect communication tool for us, and I remember the short period of time where she and I were emailing daily. It made us feel "normal" for a little while, even though we knew she had a long road to recovery.

So back to the email.

It startled me to see my mom's name in my inbox list. It was as if she were sending me a message. My throat instantly started closing up and my eyes stung with tears. I can't tell you how much I have wanted to talk to her or hear her voice again. How many days I have wished the phone would ring and she would be on the other end. It is a deep, painful longing that I thought would never be satisfied this side of heaven.

I opened it up, and here's what it said:

My dear Emily,
      Iread your email and wish so much that we could go to lunch.  I promise we will.  I can really begin to see some light. I am going to work as hard as I can to get well as soon as I can. I found your blog today and am overwhelmed with your love and maturity.  You have no idea how proud of you I am. And I have 3beautiful grandchildren who need me.   I hope you get medicine and get well soon. Sleep well tonight. Know that you are loved.
       I think God is teaching me to rely on Him and not myself. I am learning how weak I am in myself,but He is the creator and sustainer. It is in his strength only that I can face the future.

Much love,
PS  Decide where you want to have lunch.

I sat at my computer and just cried. It had been awhile since I had a good, cleansing sob fest, and I needed it. Here I was thinking I would never hear from her again. But I did. Not in the way I wanted, but in a way I needed. I needed to be reminded that she loved me, that she was proud of me.  One day, I'll hear her voice again. Until then, I think I'll print this off and tuck it away somewhere so that every now and then, I can be reminded of her unconditional love for me. It's not a loud booming voice, but more of a whisper.  

And I'll take it.

My mom and me

Friday, November 8, 2013

My Family, by Lucas

This drawing is Dad, Mom (I'm upside down), Hannah, Leah, Lucas (also upside down), Papa (my dad) and Sally (my stepmom). Done by Lucas, May 2013.

Lucas has finally started drawing. His sisters have always loved drawing, coloring, painting, etc. From the earliest I can remember (maybe age 2?) they have been able to occupy themselves with any creative endeavor. But my boy? He has always just been too busy and active to sit still enough to color a picture. Until recently. Out of the blue, he has been asking for markers and paper. He will draw several pictures in one sitting, concentrating hard on each one. It really all started at the beginning of the summer, but has picked up speed throughout the fall. During this time, I've noticed two things: 1. We for sure have another lefty (Hannah is also left handed) and 2. His favorite subject is our family. Sometimes he draws just the five of us and other times he includes Gram and Doo Dad or Papa and Sally. And even still, our cats, Ellie and Tundra. Sometimes he draws me in blue because I'm the only one in our family with blue eyes. Sometimes he draws daddy super big because he says, "Daddy is the tallest like the Iron Giant." He always draws himself the smallest of the bunch because he says he's the baby of the family. Although if you were to ask him if he is a baby, his answer would be an emphatic no. He is most certainly a big boy with many super powers to boot.

These first drawing are so precious to me. Not just because they all start off looking the same (circle body, dots for eyes, maybe a smile, and arms and legs sticking straight out). But because they show that he is figuring out his place in this family of five. His own, special, loved place. I hope he always knows how much his family loves him too.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Reading to my kids before bed has been a night time ritual since....well....since I had kids almost nine years ago! On those nights when we're out late and the kids have to go straight to bed, they collapse in tears because there's no time to read (and because they are usually over-tired too). As my girls got older and are now independent readers, most nights I put them in bed about 30 minutes before their "lights out" time so they can lose themselves in a good book, settling their bodies and minds for the evening. I think this is such an important habit to form. Lucas, however, still needs me to read to him, which I love to do. He gets two books before nap time and one before bedtime. And of course, when the girls ask for a book, I usually read to them too. 

Then, the other night, I was busy picking up wet towels off the bathroom floor and brushing Hannah's tender head of wet hair and wiping clumps of toothpaste out of the sink when I peered into Lucas' room and saw this.

Be. Still. My. Heart.
Lucas had picked out "The Goblin Story" from one of his Little Bear books and Leah was happily reading to him. Why had I not thought of this before? Mixing it up a little could be good for everyone involved and could go a long way for developing a strong brother/sister bond. Not only do I want these kids of mine to be lifelong readers, but lifelong friends as well. 

That's right. I'm looking at you, kid.
I let Leah read a few more chapters before putting everyone in their own beds for the night.

I am so thankful to be their mom.

P.S Here's a list of some of our current favorite books.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
The BFG also by Roald Dahl
All the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books by Jeff Kinney
Strega Nona  by Tomie de Paola
All the Frances books by Russell Hoban (especially Bedtime for Frances)
Harry and Horsie by Katie Van Camp (cool illustrations, fyi)
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween and a School Musical

This week has been B-U-S to the Y! On top of our normal weekly routines, the girls had their 3rd grade school musical and of course we had Halloween too. Our evenings seemed to be completely full. But they were full of sweet singing kids, celebrating with grandparents, dressing up in costumes and lots and lots of candy, so who can complain really? 
(Leah is the last pirate on the right. Just above and to the left of the gray headed guy in my picture)
The girls' musical was called "Pirates!" It was very cute. They got to use big words like "avast!" and "swashbuckling" and "buccaneer." Leah had a starring role as "Brownbeard" and had several lines to perform. She was also in the "chorus of no-beards" which performed two songs/dances together. Hannah didn't have any lines, but she did an awesome job singing her little heart out and performing all the motions. I loved it! 

Me and my two pirate girls after the show. 
What is a female pirate? A piratess? 

Two days later it was Halloween. So what does this frugal mom do? She says, "You will be wearing your pirate costumes again because I just bought them for your school play!" Hence, the pirate costumes made a reprise. Lucas, however, after 364 days of deliberation decided to be The Flash for Halloween. This kid LOVES superheroes, just like his Daddy did. He really likes The Flash because he can run super fast and Lucas prides himself in his fast running skills. And I thought this costume was just so gosh darn cute on him!

Ready to trick-or-treat in our neighborhood! I can't even tell you how hard it was to get Lucas to stand still for this picture. The kid was super pumped.

Here they are heading up to my good friend and across-the-street neighbor's house. Kristine always puts out fun decorations and the kids love it. And then they promptly complain that we don't have any and that this is a great tragedy in their lives. I promise I'll put out a pumpkin or two next year guys!
After this house, I headed home to take on my duty as candy-passer-outer seriously. Mike and my dad walked the neighborhood with the kids and they came back with quite a haul. This weekend we'll be going through the bags when the kids aren't looking and eating  throwing most of it away.
I just want the Kit Kats. And Twixes. And Mr. Goodbars. And maybe a few Snickers. Or Milk Duds.
If I weigh 400 pounds next week you'll know why.

Hope you had a safe and happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The After School Crazy Hours

When our girls get off the bus at 3:50 in the afternoon and walk down the street to our house, it is safe to say that 4:00 is the average time they arrive home. From 4:00 until 8:30 it is a mad dash of homework, playtime, dinnertime, activities, reading and baths before getting these kiddos to bed for the night. It is the most challenging part of my day, and I have by no means perfected it. In fact, it has become a struggle as of late. Here are the things that need to be done:
Reading: 20 minutes
Spelling/Vocabulary practice
Math Homework: Tuesday and Thursday nights only
Piano Practice: (Hannah) 15 minutes a day
Piano Lessons: Tuesday afternoons
Gymnastics: (Leah) Thursday evenings

In addition, my kids get an afternoon snack and one 30 minute TV show (usually Wild Kratts or Arthur) before starting all the things we have to do. I suppose I could nix this time, but I really think they need it. Or if they would rather play outside for thirty minutes, that's fine too. They always have that option, but I am totally ok with a 30 minute zone out on PBS. I think they need a short mental break when they walk in the door. This also gives me time to go through their backpacks and sign their agendas, look over papers, sort out what needs to be signed and returned, setting aside homework papers, and throwing away uneaten lunch and snack items.  

My two struggles as of late are the following:
1. What to do with Lucas while his sisters are trying to do their homework. He has a hard time playing by himself and I don't want to just plug him in to a movie all the time.
2. Dealing with one daughter's attitude regarding work. She generally drags her feet, whines and complains and declares "it's not fair" that she has things to do and Lucas doesn't. It's getting old.

In addition, there is the need for me to be in the kitchen around 5:00 or 5:30 to start cooking our dinner. So that further complicates our evenings. 
Any of you out there have some tips or suggestions for making this crazy time of day run a little smoother? 
After the hurricane of homework

When it's all done, they get more playtime! Yipee!

* The child not pictured in these photos didn't get to go play because it took her twice as long to get everything done with all the whining and complaining. It was a long night for her.

Monday, October 21, 2013


My kids are really good at asking the question "why?" 

Why do I have to go to bed every night?

Why is math important?

Why do girls wear bras?

Why are wasps so mean?

Tonight I thought I would share a few of my own "why?" questions. 
1. Why does my kitchen sink constantly look like this when we own a dishwasher?

--I started my day early this morning by unloading and reloading the dishwasher. Slowly it filled up again, and I ran it just before dinner. This pic was taken at 10:00 tonight as I walked into the kitchen to have my nightly bowl of cereal. I couldn't take it. I unloaded/reloaded again. It's my life apparently.

2. Why do I sometimes stupidly agree with someone when they clealy make a verbal mistake that I know to be wrong only because I don't want to make them feel like an idiot by pointing it out? It always comes back to bite me. 

Case in point: tonight I was at my ladies' Bible study, and I was talking to a very nice woman I just met this evening for the first time. In our conversation she said, "Oh, so last year you were in Elaine's class over at Heritage Baptist church?" Nope, my Bible Study leader's name last year was Mary, but like a dummy I smiled and nodded because I didn't want to point out her mistake with the name. Our conversation went on and then she said, "Oh wait! I didn't mean Elaine, I meant Mary!" And then I had to correct my own mistake. Like "oh yeah, I forgot too!" Why didn't I just say the right name to begin with?! Now that lady thinks I am crazy. Or maybe that I have a really bad memory. 

These are the pressing "why?" Questions on my brain tonight. You have any you want to share too?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fall Break

This week the kids were out of school for Fall Break. We had two cool, rainy days which kept us inside most of the time, so when the sun broke through on the third day, we took advantage of it and headed to the park. 
Walking the path to the playground.
All the equipment was still a little wet, but that didn't stop my three. What's a little water anyway?
               My Hannah and me
We ended up on the stage where during the summer Shakespeare plays are performed. The kids were doing a little "freeze dancing" to a song on my phone.

A little exercise and fresh air were exactly what we needed. 

Hope you are enjoining your day today too! 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Tenkiller 2013: Days 3 &4

Have you been wondering where Lake Tenkiller got its strange name? Well, I am here to give you the answer today. According to www.laketenkiller.com, "The lake was named after the Tenkillers (a prominent Cherokee family who owned land and worked a ferry service near the site where the dam is now located. The Legend states that during the “Trail of Tears” era, the Cherokee warrior received his name by the soldiers and pioneers at Fort Gibson because of the ten notches in his bow."  

An additional interesting fact about the lake is that when it was being created back in 1947, part of the town of Cookson, OK couldn't be moved, so it ended up getting flooded and still stands on the bottom of the lake. It's a popular place for scuba divers to explore. Crazy, huh?

Anyway, enough history (I'm a sucker for fun historical facts). On to days three and four. Saturday morning followed suit with all the other mornings-- large breakfast, playtime and decktime. Amen. Then we geared up for a big football game. You see, down here college football is huge. The biggest rivalry around is the "Red River Shootout" between the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas. The Red River forms the border between our two states and the feud is quite heated. OU has won the last three years, and Texas is terrible this year, so we were expecting a cakewalk. Uh, didn't happen. Texas won, unfortunately, but we enjoyed the game and the game time snacks of artichoke dip, pumpkin bread and jalapeno poppers-- all homemade. Did I mention we did a lot of eating on this little vacation? I'm not ashamed to admit that. While the game was on, we set up some stations for the kids. They rotated between a mini-pumpkin painting station, a few game stations (Guess Who?, Memory and Spot It) and a "salon station" where Nikki was painting all the kids' fingernails and toenails (Eli opted out of this one, but Lucas wanted his toenails painted clear. Ha!). 

Once the football game was over, and our stations cleaned up, the dads took all of the kids fishing while the three ladies got to relax in a quiet house. It was heavenly. We talked. We painted our own toenails. We sat on the deck and listened to the wind in the trees. We talked some more. Two lovely hours passed before they returned with the report of no catches at all. Not even a bite. Oh well!

Next up was a family pumpkin carving contest. Each family huddled up and planned, sketched and carved their own pumpkin. Hannah and Leah were totally into it and went into top secret mode making sure no other kids in any near vicinity even glanced our way as we were executing our plan. Eventually we had the following.......
Pumpkins #1, 2, and 3 from left to right.

We texted pictures of the pumpkins to various non-biased folks with just their numbers so no one would know who carved which one. And guess which jack-o-lantern won? #2. And guess who carved pumpkin #2? That's right. Mike Galloway. We decided to go with a pumpkin sneezing a great glob of snot. Yes, we're classy. The teeth were all Mike's creation and that's what ended up winning it for us. Nice try, guys. Bring your A game next year. (I'm kidding! Everyone did a great job. The teacher in me can't let a chance for encouragement slide.) 

Day three ended with another delicious dinner, and then game night ensued. The adults battled it out in a rousing game of Farkle followed by a noisy game of Pit. Mike won both games. I'm telling you, he was on a roll this weekend. After that, we were too tired for another movie, so it was off to bed for everyone.

Day four was really just a half day. And in that half day, we just cleaned up and washed all the towels and sheets. The kids were sent outside to play so the adults could get all that cleaning done and eventually we were ready to load up. But not without our annual tradition of family photos. We had to take approximately 1,287 pictures before we got one that was decent. 

Our family
October 2013

  The kiddos this year:
Eli (9), Leah (8), Hannah (8), Emma (7), Parker (6), Lucas (4), and Marlee (4)

 Lucas and his best buddy Eli

Nikki, Tracy, Me

Mike and Reed in a classic awkward pose. This is my favorite picture from the whole trip.

Ok, Tenkiller. We'll see ya again soon!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tenkiller 2013: Day 2

Day two started off with homemade waffles for breakfast, then the outside play/sit-and-drink-coffee time began in full force. There's nothing like staying in your pj's until noon in my opinion. Eventually we all got dressed and brushed our teeth (maybe). We packed a picnic lunch, and we headed to Chicken Creek for some more of our annual traditions-- hide and seek and kickball. Chicken Creek is a beautiful park and camping area about a ten minute's drive from the lake house.  The large trees make for perfect hiding places and the little playground keeps the kids entertained. However, when we arrived, we found the gate shut and locked. It was closed. Thank you, Government Shut-Down. Turns out, the park is run by the Army Core of Engineers and so it was temporarily "out of service." Boo! Thankfully, we called and another park in the area (Tenkiller State Park) was open, so we headed there instead. 

Once inside the park, we found a good place to eat, then walked around and found a really great spot for our games. The kids are all old enough now to really get into the games and they have so much fun. Actually, all the adults do to. I swear every time I am being chased as I run toward home base, I scream like a little girl. A funny moment came when I was "it" and started chasing down the last person hiding, 9 year old, Eli. He is one fast little dude, and we ran at full speed around the park area while everyone else was screaming and cheering. I was closing in but wearing out fast and made a last ditch effort to lean forward and tag him. Bad move. I felt my weight shifting forward and knew right away I couldn't stop the momentum. So I went with it and took my 36 year old body down, did a complete somersault, then came to rest flat on my back. The laughing that was coming from the onlookers (including my husband) made me lose it. I died laughing too because I am quite certain I looked like a complete idiot. 
Next up came a rousing game of kickball. Lucas I believe has a future in the sport if he can only play offense. He likes to kick and run. Playing in the outfield? Not his thang. Plus it was late afternoon and he had skipped a nap, so he was starting to melt down. 

Around 4:00 we went back to the house where I started prepping for dinner. Friday night at the lake house is "adult date night on the deck". The kids get to have popcorn and watch a movie inside while the adults have a nice candlelight dinner on the back deck. As my lasagna was in the oven, we could tell the sun was about to set, so we rounded everyone up for a walk around the "loop" (the small gravel road with a few scattered lake houses). The sunset did not disappoint.

At the beginning of our walk, the sky looked like this. 
Hazy, purple light fading gently into a soft pinkish-yellow.

Then the yellow turned more vibrant along with brilliant orange and gold.

Eventually we got this. Fire over the calm water.

And finally, this beauty broke forth and we all just stood and stared. 
Even the kids were into it. Sunsets are God's masterpieces of nature.

We also managed to take a few photos of us humans as we walked. Here's Eli and Leah at the beginning of our journey. This is about as good as it gets when you ask a nine year old boy and an eight year old girl to pose next to each other. We'll save it for their wedding slide show.

The ladies this year: Tracy, me and Nikki

And of course, a ridiculous shot of us. 

After we finished our walk and had our lovely, quiet dinner on the back deck, the kids went to bed and we settled in for another movie night. The selection-- Oblivion. Let's just say, Tom has a lot better movies in his repertoire. I think at least four out of the six of us fell asleep at one point or another. 

And just like that-- Day two was done.