Thursday, June 27, 2013

Big Cedar:: Day 2

We woke up the next day ready to start a full day of vacation. We headed over to Truman's Cafe for a waterside breakfast. The views at Big Cedar are fabulous. And our food was yummy too. Next we found a playground nearby and let the kids run around and work up a good sweat. 
 Hannah and Leah at Truman's
Shortly after their playground run, we found a miniature golf course and decided to play. It wasn't crowded which was good because a family with three kids who have never golfed before moves at a glacial pace. The girls loved it, but Lucas was more frustrated by it all. He gave up after three holes and just ran around acting like his crazy self. 
 Lucas on his first attempt. He was actually focused and happy here.

 Hannah waiting for her turn.
 Mike helping Leah perfect her swing.
 Hannah in the big fish
About halfway through the course, we found this enormous fish. Of course, they all lost interest in golfing and just wanted to play inside of it. I don't blame them. It was cool, in a freaky "Jonah and the Whale" kinda way. 
 Leah golfing and Lucas running around
Lucas paused long enough for me to snap a smiling photo.

After our mini-golf adventure, we went back to our condo and swam in the pool for about an hour. The girls played "Wipeout" at the pool. They even interviewed each other with a pretend microphone before starting each "race." Lucas strapped on his floaties and joined in the fun. They must have gone down the twisty slide about 50 times. Our tummies were rumbling again, so we dried off, changed clothes and ate a quick lunch. Lucas went down for a nap, and my dad and I took the girls horseback riding. The four of us love to ride. I find it really soothing to be out in nature with just the sounds of the wind and the birds. Our ride was an hour and a half long, over rolling hills and through shady woods. My horse was a gentle boy the color of vanilla pudding. His name was Haas. Leah's Appaloosa was named Comanche and Hannah's horse was named King. King kept stopping to have a snack of grass and he looked like he had been dipped in white paint. My dad was at the rear of the pack riding a beautiful copper colored horse with a spiky black mane, appropriately named "Spike." I didn't bring my camera on the ride as I am not an expert rider and wanted to stay alive by holding on with both hands. Therefore, no pictures to show. Bummer. 
When we got back to the condo, Lucas had just woken up with a bright new attitude and lots of energy. What could tame this wild thing? More swimming of course! 
We went to the Lazy River at Big Cedar and floated through the beautiful, winding course at least three or four times. We swam in the indoor pool, then we let the kids swim in the "kiddie pool" (which Lucas called the "kitty cat pool"). We walked back to Truman's in our bathing suits for another dinner outside, gazing out at the lake as the sun started to slip behind the mountains. Our evening concluded with some s'mores over a campfire and a drive through the park in the fading light of the day. 
Our second day was officially a success.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Big Cedar Vacation:: Day 1

Last night we returned from a wonderful family vacation to Big Cedar Lodge, near Branson, Missouri. Located in the green, rolling Ozark Mountains, Big Cedar is a really fun place for the whole family with tons of activities to do. Getting there took about five and a half hours from Oklahoma City. We left home at 10:00 last Thursday with my dad following behind us. My step mom flew in to Springfield later that night (she works in New York during the week) and my dad needed the extra car to go and pick her up. Looking at the map, we decided to take the "scenic route" instead of the interstate. Mike and I have always preferred a pretty view while driving, even if it takes a few extra minutes. In this case, the time difference was only about half an hour, so we went with it. We drove from OKC to Tulsa in no time, stopped for lunch, then headed east into northwest Arkansas. The roads went from straight as an arrow to curvy and winding as we entered the Ozarks. At one point, all three kids were either asleep or in an iPod trance, so Mike and I put on Vampire Weekend and just took it all in. It was rather nice. Eventually we crossed over into Missouri, and soon after that, we were there.

We arrived around 4:00 in the afternoon and found our delightful three bedroom/ two bath condo that my Dad had reserved. It was very nice! The kids shared a room, Mike and I had a room and Dad and Sally had a room. Plenty of space to spread out, plus a spacious living room, a modern kitchen and a beautiful balcony. We unpacked and settled in, then went across the street to check out the sports complex. The kids played basketball, volleyball and tennis with Mike, my dad and me. It appears Lucas has a new found love for tennis, although he prefers to play it like baseball, using the racket like a bat. Soon after our sports endeavor, we decided dinner would be in order. 
 A view of the rustic master bedroom
Hannah in her room, relaxing with Kit and Molly (her American Girl dolls)

We had heard about Lambert's Cafe from friends of ours. It's basically a good old-fashioned home cooking joint, but their claim to fame is their "throwed rolls." At various times waiters and waitresses come out from the kitchen with a pan yelling, "hot rolls!" To get one, you have to raise your hand or wave and they throw your roll from across the room. The kids thought this was great fun and eagerly waved down anyone with a pan of rolls in their hands. I think we all went into carb overload because they were delicious. 
The kids at Lambert's Cafe
Lucas said, "I want to fight this guy!"

After dinner, Dad headed to the airport to pick up Sally while Mike and I took the kids back to Big Cedar for an evening swim. We got to the pool just as the sun was setting and let them swim until 10 o'clock when the pool closed. Needless to say, all three kids crashed immediately when we put them into bed. 

It was a great start to our vacation!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Beat the Heat

We have officially made it to the point in the summerwhere the main consideration for any activity is staying cool. Two of our favorite ways to beat the heat are: swimming (duh) and bowling. This week we have done each. 
Hannah with her Eye of the Tiger look. She takes her game seriously.
Leah likes to monitor the scores. She was so excited to get two spares this game. 
Hannah and our sweet friend, Parker. They would cheer and hug each time any of the kids knocked over even one pin. Talk about encouragement!
The girls swimming at our friend Beth's house. We are so grateful that she lets us come as often as we like. The kids give her dog, Gunner, a good workout every time we come too.That dog loves to retrieve a ball over and over and over..... Look at the eye lock he has on it! 

Hope you are enjoying your summer and staying cool wherever you are! 

PS- The title of this post could also refer to my desire for San Antonio to beat Miami in the NBA finals. Miami beat us last year, so they deserve to go down. Just thought I would voice my opinion. :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Lucas Update

For the next five weeks, I still have a three year old boy. I can't even believe that he is almost four. Four! That's how old Hannah and Leah were when he was born! What? In spite of this growing up that he insists on doing, he will still be my funny, sweet natured, man-of-many-expressions, book loving, superhero boy. 
 Lucas is quite the dramatic little actor. He loves to make up plays to perform with his sisters. His role usually involves either a superhero or a villan and his lines are mostly exploding noises or karate chopping sounds. Sometimes he is the Knight in Shining Armor and he rescues the twin princesses. Those plays are my favorite.
 This boy loves to read. His favorite books right now include: Where the Wild Things Are, The Little Red Hen, Corduroy, Harry and Horsie, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Toot! Toot! Beep! Beep!
He definitely earns the title "pickiest child" when it comes to eating. He basically lives off of Goldfish crackers, peanut butter sandwiches and apples. Oh and cheese pizza. The boy could eat his weight in cheese pizza. We're working on encouraging him to eat a wider variety of foods. 
Lucas has recently developed a patch of grayish white hair near his forehead. I first noticed it at an outdoor birthday party back in March. The sun was glistening off his hair and I thought it was birthday cake smeared in there. Turns out, he has a patch of white and gray hair. It is the craziest thing! I checked his scalp to see if he had a scar or mole or something that might be causing this strange hair color, but I found nothing. I'm going to ask his pediatrician at our next well visit in August, but until then I've googled it and it appears to be nothing really. Just a quirky little thing, like his chipped front tooth, that makes him even more unique and lovable.
Lucas Gabriel Galloway,
You are a true delight. I love you will all my heart and look forward to watching you grow up.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to the two best dads I know!
My dad and me, summer 1982
Graham, TX

Mike and Lucas, summer 2013
Edmond, OK

Saturday, June 15, 2013

We Are Happy

Today has been a cleaning and organizing day at our house. I have been going through boxes that I brought back from my parents' house last fall for months now--a few here, one more there. I mean, what do you do with a lifetime of photos and mementos? Especially when you are the only child and sole keeper of family memories. Today, however, I unloaded the last box. Inside I found labeled folders containing samples of my drawings and schoolwork starting with preschool and ending with 5th grade. I ended up looking through a lot of it, amazed at my mom's meticulous note taking and organization. This drawing from 3rd grade open house made me smile. 

I guess I was supposed to draw my family and write something about them. 
The back of the drawing reads, "My family has 3 people in it. We also have 3 cats: Alley, Lucky and Muffin. We live at 1214 Randy Drive. We are happy."

That last statement made me tear up a bit. I am so thankful that I had a happy family. And I am equally grateful for my current happy crew. 

Friday, June 14, 2013


So this morning I went out to the garage to throw an orange juice container in the recycle bin when I spied something out of the corner of my eye. Something big. Something brown and hairy and spider-like. I turned my head and found myself face to face with a tarantula! Ewwww!

We have had tarantulas in our yard before, but that was six years ago when we had just built our house. Six years of tarantula-free living had caused me to forget about them. Today brought me back to reality. Man, are they creepy!

I then did what any good parent would do and called my kids to come look and then took an obligatory picture so I could post it on Facebook. Then I formulated a plan to rid our garage of his presence.

First, I opened the garage door, grabbed a broom and swept him out to the driveway. Right away, Mr. Tarantula was not happy with me. He reared up and showed me his fangs, and I screamed like a preteen at a Justin Bieber concert. Next, I grabbed a shovel and after three failed attempts, I finally scooped him up. Quickly, I walked him over to the drainage ditch near the side of our house and dumped him in. He immediately skittered up the other side and then sat frozen by our neighbor's fence. 

Many have asked why I didn't kill him, and believe me I thought about it for a second, but I know he wasn't purposefully trying to harm us. Actually, tarantulas are really pretty docile and also helpful by eating pesky mosquitoes and other bugs. I am not saying I want one as a pet, but I don't want his guts all over my garage floor either. 

Just another exciting summer day at the Galloway house!

Thursday, June 13, 2013


When it comes to gardening, my thumb is about as far away from green as possible.  I like the idea of beautiful flowerbeds and overflowing vegetable gardens, but....well....

It gets hot here, people!!

When you experience over thirty days in a row of 100 + heat, you start to not care at all what is living or dying in your yard because your body is on a mission to find water and stay cool. However, that being said, many people around here have beautiful gardens. They either A. pay someone to take care of them or B. they get out there and sweat it out. This is going to be the summer I sweat it out. This is going to be the summer my flowers will survive. I will water them even when I don't feel like it. I will pull weeds early in the morning when it is only a mere 90 degrees. I will have a decent looking yard come August! I'm saying this in my most determined sounding voice. 

This year, we planted a new tree in the front yard, rearranged and trimmed back a few bushes, added splashes of red and yellow flowers to the front, and then mulched it all to make it look finished. In the back yard, we kept it simple. In our small flowerbed we lovingly call "Grandma's Garden", I let each of my kids pick out whatever flower they wanted to plant next to our Japanese Maple (that my friends planted in honor of my mom on the one year anniversary of her passing). Turns out, all my children like petunias-- Hannah chose purple, Leah chose pink and Lucas chose yellow. Then I planted a few flowers in some pots for the back porch and called it done. One day I hope to have some raised beds for a vegetable garden, but that is still down the road a bit. 

Ok blogging are now free to hold me accountable and ask me at any time if I am watering and taking care of my flowers!

So what about you? Do you have a green thumb? 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

This is the Summer

 This is the summer that you play in the water sprinklers in the backyard.
That your bare feet will feel the soft grass as you run through the yard.
That your giggles and squeals of happy playtime echo through the air.
 This is the summer that you make up funny games to play.
That the three of you huddle up and create a skit to perform.
That you see each other as allies and best friends.
 This is the summer that you notice the beauty in the fading light of the day.
That you find frogs and snails and rollie-pollies in the dirt.
That you would rather be outside than in.
This is the summer that you are 8, 8 and 3.
That you are innocent and carefree.
This is the summer that you are fully who God created you to be.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Full Schedule

We came back from our vacation last weekend, and we hit the ground running. Here's a peek into our whirlwind week.
1. An insurance adjuster came to our home and declared that our roof is a total loss. We put our last roof on in 2010, but a big hailstorm at the beginning of May took it our again. Plus it cracked a window and ruined our gutters. So, looks like we'll be doing "New Roof Round 2". Yippee! Part of living in a wild weather state, I suppose.
2. Took the girls to the dentist for a cleaning. Neither one had any cavities, but Leah had two more teeth pulled. And we had to make an appointment with an orthodontist. Looks like we're starting that process this summer.
3. Both Ellie and Tundra, our sweet kitties, saw a new vet. As sweet as they are, they are a nightmare to transfer to the vet, so I decided to call a vet who came to me! She was great and the process was way less stressful than it usually is. Turns out our old ladies are in good health except Tundra who is overweight. No news there since we call her "Ro-Tundra". Trying a new cat food for her and checking the vet visit off my to-do list.
4. Vacation Bible School happened last week. The girls attended at a church down the street where several of their friends go. They had Bible stories, music, crafts, canoeing, games and fishing. They had a blast! 
                       Hannah at VBS
                    Leah ready to craft!
5. Hannah and Leah are now in the phase of having play dates with friends all the time. Since they are in school, they have developed a few close friends and all they want to do is call each other and play at each others' houses. They went to two different friends' houses last week. Both times they went swimming and came home totally wiped out! And I am feeling more and more like a taxi service!

This week is looking a lot less busy and I am welcoming a slower pace! Phew!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Leaping Lizards and Smiling Butterflies

I love weekends that include three days with nothing planned on the calendar. Friday night is traditionally "Family Movie Night" around here, and last night was no exception. Pizza was ordered. Popcorn popped. A pallet on the floor was spread. Chocolate chip cookies were baked. And all of us hung out together watching the movie selection "Escape from Planet Earth." Mike and I thought it was okay as far as kids' movies go, but all three of our munchkins really liked it, so it was fine. 

This morning we woke up and decided that since the weather was simply beautiful (sunny with a high of 75), we needed to do something outside. A trip to the Oklahoma City Zoo was determined to be the best idea, so off we went. Turns out every other family in the near vicinity had the same idea. By the looks of the parking lot as we neared the entry area, we thought we might have to change our plans, but the kids protested so in we went. We even scored a front row parking space! Woo hoo!

In spite of the crowds, it was a gorgeous day outside, and we had a great time together as a family. 

 We let the girls try out the "Leaping Lizard" experience for the first time. They loved it!
 I love Leah's smile here. She was having a blast!
 We walked through the Butterfly Garden and had to pose for a few pictures.
(Leah Butterfly)
(Hannah Butterfly)

Hope you are having a wonderful Saturday wherever you are today!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Chicago:: Days 3 & 4

We woke up on Day Three to find that Chicago was experiencing a severe weather setback. Apparently, the city was confused and decided to bring winter June. It was downright cold! Admittedly, I have lived in the southwest part of the country all of my life, so I am a cold weather wimp. The high for the day was 50 degrees. The sky was overcast and a cold drizzle fell from the clouds all morning. Yuck! I am very glad I decided to throw a jacket in my bag at the last minute because I needed it! Regardless of the cooler temps, we decided to proceed with our plan of taking an architectural boat tour of downtown Chicago. We boarded our boat entitled The First Lady of Chicago and off we sailed down the river. Our tour guide was a docent from the Chicago Architecture Society, and she was fabulous. Best tour guide I've ever had. She gave so much good information peppered with interesting facts and funny stories. She was great. 
 A great view of the city. The building on the right with the curved shape and green glass has been voted "Favorite Downtown Building" by Chicagoans for the last several years as it reflects the city skyline as well as the colors and motion of the Chicago River.
 I had a hot caramel latte in my hands to keep me warm here.
PS-- See the skyline reflected in that building I told you about? Cool, huh?

  This photo is from later on in the tour. The sun had gone away completely, the wind had picked up and the temperature had dropped. Our tour guide was even apologizing for the rude weather.
 The building behind me is interesting because the German architect who designed it had a specific motto, "There are no right angles in nature, therefore no right angles in my buildings."
I like its curvy, space age vibe.

  The tall black building in the middle is the famous Willis Tower (formerly known as The Sears Tower)

 After the boat tour we went to Margie's Candies, a Chicago staple. Opened in 1921, The Beatles ate here as well as The Rolling Stones. They make all their candy in-house, and they are famous for their hot fudge sundaes. They also make their own hot fudge sauce which was to. die. for. 
SOOOO good. And we picked up a box of candies to bring home to my Dad and Sally since they kept our kids part of the time we were gone. We ate this around 4:00 in the afternoon and then went straight to dinner. Yes, we did dessert before dinner with no kids around! Good thing we did a LOT of walking to burn off all the calories we were eating! Sunday night we declared our official "anniversary dinner." We went to a place called The Purple Pig. It had a very funky atmosphere which I liked. It was interesting in that the portion sizes are small, so you are meant to order several things and share with whomever is at the table. It was great!

 Monday morning after we checked out of our hotel, we made one last run into Chicago. The weather decided to be nice again, so we spent a lot of time outside. Here's a picture of The Water Tower, one of the few structures to survive the Great Fire of 1871.
For lunch we grabbed a Chicago hot dog which has relish, peppers, onion, a pickle, a tomato slice and celery salt on a poppy seed bun. It was good! After lunch, we made a beeline to the airport where after an hour delay, we hopped on a plane and made it home to hug our kiddos' necks. 
Although, we had a lot of fun and really enjoyed our time alone, we sure missed our three munchkins. 
There's truly no place like home. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Chicago:: Day 2

Day Two of our Chicago Getaway started off with two words:
Glory, Hallelujah, it was great to sleep in, then leisurely watch the news and take our showers and meander down to the breakfast buffet. I even went to the fitness center and ran on the treadmill before breakfast. Holla!
As we ate breakfast, we mapped out our activities for the day which included going to The Art Institute, Walking through Millennium Park, shopping for gifts to bring home for the kids, and dinner at Portillo's Restaurant. A short walk to the train station and we were on our way!

 Here I am standing in the gardens in front of The Art Institute. Everything was so beautifully landscaped, and not just here, but it seemed to me that all over Chicago businesses had bursting flowerpots full of vibrant colors.
See what I mean about the flowers? 
We really enjoyed The Art Institute. Like most major museums, it was so large that there was no way we could see it all in one day, so we took note of the exhibits we really wanted to see and made sure we got to experience each of them. 

 Mike had to write a paper while in college at SVA about this painting and the woman with the blue face. 
I had to write a paper in 8th grade about Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
Coincidence? I think not!
Another fun fact: My pointillism painting won first place in a state art contest in 6th grade.
(only art award I ever won, FYI)
Thanks for the inspiration, Seurat! I love your work!
We just couldn't get over all the colors of his skin. So much careful thought went into it while his jacket is less meticulous. I am trying to sound all artsy fartsy. I think it is working.
 There were many amazing Monet pieces on display, but I stood by this one to show my girls. Their favorite Baby Einstein video was "Baby Monet" and it was all about the seasons. Monet's haystack series plays a big part in the video so I thought they'd recognize it.
 I don't remember who did this one, but I really like it. I want to go there, please.
 We had to visit the American Modern Art wing since it is Mike's favorite era.
He loved this huge Cy Twombly painting. The picture doesn't quite capture its size and detail.

 Next up, we walked to Millennium Park. When you don't have kids to take pictures of, you end up being in a lot more pictures.
 We had to go see Cloud Gate, a.k.a. "The Bean"
 Question: Why is it so fun to take pictures of a mirror?
Answer: It just is!!!
 Here we are again!!
 Looking up and feeling dizzy.
 The Bean truly does offer a neat reflection of the city skyline as well as the sky itself. As you can see here, clouds were starting to move in. The temperature started dropping during the rest of the afternoon. We managed to hit up a few stores before it started pouring rain. And by pouring, I mean standing-in-a-shower, getting soaked to the bone, rain. We had to duck into a Walgreen's and buy an umbrella. After an early dinner, we decided to call it a night. One of my favorite things about our vacation was coming back to our hotel, flipping through the channels and finding a good movie to watch. Tonight's selection was the 1985 classic Wall Street starting Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen. We capped off the night with a dip in the hotel hot tub. Oh the luxurious life we led for a few days!