Wednesday, July 31, 2013


May 2013
Dear Leah Rae, 

My sweet girl, do you know how much I love you? I love you more than words could ever express. When I tuck you in at night, sometimes you tell me, "I love you to the moon and back times infinity!" Leah, that's how much I love you too. Some days you just need to be reminded about that!

Have I ever told you where your name comes from? Well, before we knew you were a twin, we had picked out the name Hannah. But when we discovered that two girls were on the way, we got to pick another name! Bonus!! Daddy and I wanted to stick with another Hebrew name and he suggested Leah. I loved it right away. It so feminine and beautiful. And your middle name, "Rae" is from Daddy's sister, Rachel (your Auntie Rae!). Rachel is an amazing woman, strong and faithful. You are named after an amazing person, young lady!

Your favorite Bible story is of Leah and Rachel. As you know, Jacob loved Rachel more, but was tricked into marrying Leah first. Leah was sad. She wanted to be loved. And God heard her cries because he granted her many healthy children. One of them, Judah, grew up and had lots of kids who had kids who had kids.....and one of those kids was King David. And many kids after David, came Jesus-- the King of Kings. That means, God used Leah in an amazing family tree. She was special to Him, just as you are. And God has many wonderful things planned for your life too!

You are such a tenderhearted little girl. You care deeply for others and are so friendly to everyone you meet. You don't flinch just because someone is different from you, you love fully and that makes me very proud of you. Every single one of your teachers has described you as "easy going" or "go with the flow." Your first grade teacher said she could put you in a group with anyone and count on you to get along. You love to draw, read, and and play outside. You also love gymnastics and are excited to be in the "big shots class" this fall! Your favorite thing to do on a rainy day is to get out all of my crafting supplies and get busy making things. If I can't remember a detail about something, you can usually help me out because you have an amazing memory. You will recall things that I had long forgotten about. You are a real big help with Lucas. You are patient with him and are quick to help him. Oh how I appreciate that!

When Grandma was alive, you called her your "best buddy." When she died, you were very, very sad. You had a lot of questions about death and it caused you to worry a lot. I was worried about you too. For awhile you couldn't sleep and were fearful of Daddy or me dying. We worked with you and prayed with you and you have come such a long way since then. I am proud of you. Now we can talk about our favorite memories with Grandma and remember her with smiles on our faces. :)

Baby A, you came into this world a small little 4 pound and 10 ounce tiny girl, but you have grown. You have grow into a beautiful little girl-- inside and out.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Birthday Rundown and A Bunch of Pictures!

I have to start this off by saying something. We know SO MANY people who have July birthdays. What is happening back in October/November that is causing so many people to be born in July? Oh wait, I have a July birthday child. Ahem....let's change the subject, shall we? ;)

So Lucas turned four last week. His actual, official birthday was July 24th, but we had his birthday party on July 27th. We tried to make both days special in their own way. Wednesday was just a family day. The girls drew birthday pictures for him. I went and got donuts for breakfast. We walked to the park, played Memory, Candyland and cars with him in the afternoon. And that evening, we let him choose to go eat dinner anywhere he wanted. His choice? Luby's Cafeteria. My dad takes the kids there often (my dad loves a good cafeteria meal) and so the kids think it is a pretty cool place. I mean, you get to pick your own food. Including jello! And we learned a good tidbit for future use-- kids eat FREE Monday - Thursday after 4pm. Score! Free birthday meal! My dad joined us for dinner and then we came home to open a few presents from us and eat cake and ice cream.
 About to open a gift from his sisters (his first ever lego set)
 Diving into Mom and Dad's gift (a batman cave)
 So excited about his chocolate birthday cake that his sisters decorated

 Make a wish!
"Behold, I have made Legos!" Imagine him saying this like Tom Hanks in Castaway. 
After jammies were on, Lucas and Mike put together his first lego set-- Ironman chasing some villain in a motorcycle. He was tha-rilled!

Saturday's party was a combined birthday party with our good friend, Marlee. She turned four on the 27th and since we all know most of the same people, we went in together for a Cowgirls and Cowboys themed party. We hosted it in Marlee's backyard which has plenty of space and shade. Including our own kids, we had 16 children in attendance and about 20 adults. We thought it might get a bit crazy, but there was enough room to spread out and everyone had a good time!
My little Cowboy. I'm sure all Cowboys carry a neon green gun, right?

Our friend Leta playing with the horse ring toss

Boys vs. Girls stick horse relay races were a hit!

Lucas bringing it home. He smiled the entire time!

Next up was a game of "Pin the Sheriff Badge on Woody"
Mike drew a picture of Woody from Toy Story and the kids each had a sticker badge with their name on it. Leah purposefully placed her badge on Woody's eye. She goes for a good laugh over a personal victory. She's funny like that.

And what's a party without a pinata? We had a candy stuffed Cowboy boot that the kids had a lot of fun whacking the living daylights out of. This was Marlee walking away after her turn.

Lucas gave it two good hits. The boy loves anything that is similar to baseball, so this was right up his alley.


Hannah waiting for her turn to get at it. We let the littlest party goers try first, followed by the bigger kids, then the dads.

Our friend, Reed, spinning his nine year old, Eli. He made sure to get him good and dizzy. 
Note: our pinata is being held together with tape at this point. Some of the kids managed to open it up before everyone had a turn. Whoopsie! Duct tape to the rescue.

The birthday kids!
And future spouses. 
Can we still arrange marriages these days?

We finished the party with hot dogs, chips, watermelon, and cake. And presents of course. 
After playing a bunch of games, the kids wasted no time chowing down.

And, guess which parents forgot to buy candles? They will remain nameless, but you can probably guess who it was. We just sang "Happy Birthday" and had them pretend to blow them out. 
Life goes on.
PS--Never buy a cookie cake from Sam's. They are way. too. sweet. Blech!

The party was nearing its end, so I had to get at least one shot of the adults.
This is Marlee's mom, Nikki, our good friend (and amazing fitness instructor), Rachel, and Me with my weird, contorted arm. 

It was fun, but I am partied out for now. 
We have two and a half more weeks until school starts to recover before the whirlwind of "back to school" begins. Looking forward to every last day to sleep in, relax, swim and soak up the sun.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Few Shots From this Week

This week has been busy, so naturally it flew by! Here's a look back at my week as seen by the pictures on my phone.

Came home to find someone had run into our trash can cracking it from top to bottom.
Later that evening the kids and I attended a birthday party for a good friend and neighbor. They totally wore themselves out on the many inflatables and rock wall.

Lucas spent his last day as a three year old swimming all day long. He and his sisters played hard. So hard that he fell asleep at the dinner table.

Lucas turned 4!! We had a great day and capped it off by letting him choose where we went for dinner followed by cake, presents and ice cream at home.

Thursday was my good friend Nikki's birthday. We met up with Nikki, her husband, Reed, and two other couples for dinner, then headed home for cake, coffee, and a lot of laughing. 

Our kids had a lemonade stand to raise money for tornado victims from the devastating May 20th storms. The kids had a blast and raised $73! 
Our stand open and ready for business!
It took a lot of lemons to make that lemonade, but it was so good!

Today we had Lucas' official birthday party. We had awesome weather for late July and everyone had a good time. I'll post pics and a full report soon. Hope you have been having a wonderful week too!

Friday, July 26, 2013


Hannah Joy
May 2013
Dear Hannah,

I love you. Today isn't your birthday or anything special. It's an ordinary kind of day, but I wanted to let you know how I feel about you.

We picked your name for several reasons. 1. We think it is beautiful. 2. It is a Hebrew word for "grace." and 3. I love the story of Hannah from 1 Samuel Chapter One. She was faithful, diligent and humble. I love these character traits and hope you display these throughout your life. I chose your middle name because it was not easy to have you. I wasn't sure if I would ever be a mom, and then you and your sister came into my life bringing SO MUCH JOY!

You were our second twin, our "Baby B" entering this world one short minute after your sister. Your gifts include drawing (so much detail!) and piano playing (you picked this up quickly). I have always thought you are such a graceful runner. I love to watch you play. And you can swim like no one's business! You like to read chapter books, but still enjoy choosing a picture book for us to read together. You have a wild imagination and enjoy acting out plays that you write and create. Sometimes you and Leah act them out and other times you use your stuffed animals or dolls. You are quiet at school, but can be loud at home. Your voice is very expressive-- always has been. You feel things very strongly, for the good and for the bad. There are many tears when you are injured or upset, but you are also quick to smile and give a hug or say, "I love you, Mom!" You don't hold back! You like to have your sister with you, so I am praying that you will continue to gain more confidence in yourself, more independence. While I hope you and Leah are close your whole lives, I don't want you to depend on her. You are a good friend, with a great sense of humor and a kind heart. Anyone is blessed to know you!

I just wanted to take some time today to tell you just how special you are. You are unique, one-of-a-kind, a masterpiece. I am lucky to be your mom.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Happy Birthday, Lucas!

Someone please explain to me how this boy......
 Turned into this boy........
Oh wait. They grow up? Oh man, this process is so wonderful yet so sad. My heart can't handle looking at all these baby pictures! I vividly remember the day he was born. He came into the world weighing 7 lbs. 13 oz. with a head full of thick black hair. He had the sweetest little face and a chin and eyebrows just like his Daddy. His sisters were only 4.5 years old that day. They seemed so big then, but soon he will be 4.5, and he's still my baby! We all adored him the instant we laid eyes on him. Of course, I loved him the moment I knew he was growing inside me. Before I knew he was a he. Before I knew anything about him. I knew he was wanted and loved and fearfully and wonderfully made.

 Daddy, Mommy Lucas
Mommy, Hannah and Leah

Lucas, 4 weeks old

He continued to grow and change. Smiling all the time with big brown expressive eyes. He loved to snuggle and seemed to be the most easy going baby ever. 
Bath time in the sink
July 2010
Vacation at Robbers Cave State Park
Easter 2010
 Leah in love with her new brother
August 2009
My mom and her "handsome boy"
August 2009
My sweet two year old
July 2011

June 2013

Lucas Gabriel, You are a true joy to us. Your life is so valuable and so important. You have a tender heart and show compassion to others. Just last night before bed, as Daddy and I were tucking you in, you offered to pray for Daddy since he hasn't been feeling very well this week. You give hugs freely, especially in the morning. The first thing you always do when you wake up is find me and throw your arms open wide. It melts my heart. While you are caring and gentle, you are also rough and tumble. You love to be outside. Swimming is on your list of favorite things to do. Along with anything related to kicking, hitting, or throwing a ball. You are a whiz at Memory and Candy Land (your two favorite games) and you are thrilled when we walk to the park in our neighborhood. You love your sisters, but are glad when other boys are around to play. You aspire to be "a Superhero or a Dad" when you grow up. Today you told me that apple slices are your favorite food to eat. You are smart and funny and sometimes stubborn and difficult. There are days you try my patience, but no matter what,  I can't imagine having a more wonderful little boy. Daddy and I love you so very much.

Happy Birthday!!

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Few Amazing Women

A few weekends ago, I had a long overdue visit from two of my college roommates, Heather and LeAnn. Since graduating in 1999, both of them have gone on to careers, marriages, children, and graduate school. And both had the audacity to move out of state away from me! How dare they! Heather lives in Kansas City (but is about to move to Little Rock) and LeAnn's husband is in the Army so they have moved all over the place. But both Heather and LeAnn have family here in Oklahoma, so when their visits home are timed just right, we can all three get together. And no matter how much time has passed since our last visit, we pick right back up where we left off.  I think they are two rather amazing women. Let me introduce you to them.
 Heather, Me, LeAnn
July 2013
Heather and I on our very last day of classes our Freshman year of college
May 1996
Sometimes, you meet friends because your parents know each other. Or you were in the same ballet class when you were five. I met Heather simply because we were randomly assigned to live on the same end of the hall in our freshman dorm. She and I slowly started hanging out here and there, eating together in the cafeteria or walking to the same building for classes. Pretty soon, it was clear that we both really got along. Heather was fun, silly, creative, easy-going and a great listener. She was an Art Education major and I was an Elementary Education major, so we shared a lot of similar classes and interests. She loved music and the two of us went to watch tons of bands play at little dive bars and warehouses. We played flag football on the same team, both started dating our future husbands during our sophomore year (many, many double dates followed). We would go for long walks at our university's track spending countless hours discussing boys and school and our hopes and dreams for the future. We both loved iced mochas and cherry limeades, so many times a week one of us would ask, "Want to walk to Braum's?" It was always a good excuse to stop studying and get out. Either that or we would go to a local park and swing on the swings until we were dizzy. She and I once ditched classes on a Friday and drove ten hours to Illinois to surprise our good friend at her wedding. We had so much fun on our road trips. Today, Heather is married to her college sweetheart, Dustin. They have three beautiful kids (two boys and a girl). She taught art at an inner city elementary school for many years until she started having babies of her own. Now, she has gone back to school and is two years away from graduating as a Physician's Assistant! Amazing! I am so proud of her.

LeAnn and I
First day of classes our Freshman year
August 1995

Where can I begin with LeAnn? LeAnn and I met when we were ten. We went to the same church and so we went to Sunday School together and eventually our church youth group as well. She was home schooled, had long brown hair, was very quiet and always so very kind to everyone. She and I were more acquaintances than good friends until our junior year in high school. The summer between our junior and senior years in high school, we found ourselves at church camp talking about where we were going to go to college. It came out that LeAnn and I had both already been accepted to attend Oklahoma Baptist University, so right then and there, we decided to be roommates our Freshman year. Because of that decision, we started hanging out more that summer and I found out that that quiet, home schooled girl I had grown up with was really very fun to be around. She was spontaneous, funny, and so super talented, it's not even funny. She is an amazing pianist, dancer and wicked smart too. We ended up spending a ton of time together our senior year of high school and even went to Europe together (along with our other mutual friend, Kim) for a month after we graduated. We walked the streets of Paris, camped for a week on the beach of Pisa, Italy, found ourselves lost on the autobahn in Germany, and walked where "Maria" walked in Austria (Sound of Music reference if you didn't catch it). She and I had so much fun as roommates our Freshman year. LeAnn and Heather hit it off as well, so the three of us would spend lots of time in each others' dorm rooms talking. Heather, LeAnn and our other friend Jennifer and I shared an apartment our last two years of college which was a ton of fun. We were all in each other's weddings and sent huge congratulations when babies were born. Today, LeAnn is married to her Army hubby, Evan. They have two boys and LeAnn is a full time stay home mom caring for both of them. But just so you know, she has her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Remember, I told you she is wicked smart! 

Left to right: Jennifer (who lives in Milwaukee with her husband and four boys; she's pretty darn awesome too), Me (wearing one of my favorite thrift store finds, a shirt which reads "you can tell when it's summer in Seattle, the rain feels warmer") and sporting my mushroom hair look. Good times. Heather is on my left, followed by LeAnn. This was taken the day we moved into our first apartment.
August 1997

I am so lucky to have known and been surrounded by such amazing women throughout my life. Just thought I would highlight a few of them!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Today I Am Thankful For

My three year old (who turns four a week from today), has been on my last nerve today. I sure love that boy, but oh my. Can we say meltdown? There have been many. He has had more time out and more privileges taken away than just about any other day I can remember. I have talked him off a ledge only for him to run straight back to it again and again. I managed to keep my cool throughout it all, but it has been a challenging morning for sure.

With that in mind, I thought a thankful list would be the exact thing I would need clear my head and remind me that even when temper tantrums and discipline take up my day, I have so much to be thankful for.

* I am thankful that Lucas went down easily for a nap. He fell asleep around 2:30 and here we are at 4:15 and he's still going strong. Let me say, he NEEDED it. And so did I.

* I am thankful that my girls have played nicely today. Since I was dealing with the three year old monster, I at least had my two older children setting a good example. It might all change tomorrow, but I will take it today!

* I am thankful that my friend came over this afternoon and helped me deep clean my entire house. Just because she wanted to. We're talking mopping, cleaning the blinds and wiping the baseboards. Now that is true friendship!

* I am thankful that we have had three days of rain this week. In July. In Oklahoma. Normally we are in a drought about this time. Our yards start turning brown and people look to the sky hopeful for a few drops. We're talking three days of absolute downpour. My grass is bright green and my plants and flowers look happy.

* I am thankful that Mike works so hard at his job which allows me to stay home with my kids. Even on days like this, I love being their mom.

* I am thankful for hot showers.

* I am thankful for a fridge and pantry full of food.

* I am thankful for clean clothes and a comfortable bed to sleep in.

* I am thankful for this little blog of mine and the friendships I have made through it.

I think I feel better already!

I will add this picture just to remind myself that he really is a very sweet boy.
He wanted me to take his picture with Ellie and send it to Mike yesterday afternoon to "make Daddy happy." 
Kid, even on the challenging days, you make us both so very happy.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Deck of Cards Workout

If you read my post yesterday, you saw I went to Boot Camp. My friend Rachel was teaching and she killed us with her "deck of cards" workout (among other things!). Rachel, if you are reading, I am so sore today! I thought it was an awesome way to mix things up, add an element of surprise, and I think this is definitely something you could do at home. A husband vs. wife challenge, perhaps? Or have a friend(s) over and try this workout on for size.

Ok, here's how it works. There are four suits in a deck of cards: hearts, diamonds, spades and clubs. Next, choose four different exercises to perform. Try to select exercises that work different areas of your body. For our workout yesterday, we did the following (I think I am remembering correctly; I might have blacked out at one point!):
Hearts: jumping jacks
Diamonds: squats
Spades: squat thrusts 
Clubs: high knees

Jumping jacks and squats are pretty self-explanatory. Squat thrusts involve squatting down, placing your hands on the ground in front of you, jumping both feet backward so you are in a plank position, then jumping your feet forward again, standing up, and finishing with a jump with hands in the air. Killer. And high knees are just jogging high knee style, one "high knee" is counted after lifting both right and left knees. 

Next, grab some water, turn on some good music and shuffle the deck. Turn the top card over. If it's a seven of hearts, perform seven jumping jacks. If it's a queen of spades, do twelve squat thrusts. Aces are low, so thankfully those only involve doing one of whatever exercise you have chosen. If you have jokers in the deck, use them to take a water break and a pulse check. And yes, go through the WHOLE deck! You will be sweating and calories will be burned. And you didn't even have to go to a gym!

I've challenged Mike to a workout, but I have to recover first. My muscles are still a little sore!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Busiest of Days

Dear Emily-in-your-late-50's,

I am sure you are reading this blog post as you sit in your quiet house, sipping hot tea in peace. The days of tucking in your kids are long behind you. I imagine you are most certainly not driving your eleven year old Honda Odyssey with 219,000 miles on it anymore. In fact, you probably traded it in for a nice mid-size, fuel efficient sedan. No more car seats and booster seats taking up precious passenger room. You can run errands without lugging three children with you, and a trip to the grocery store might take you thirty minutes max. It is unlikely that you come home from the grocery store with things like Fruity Pebbles and Rainbow Popsicles that you bought in a harried last minute decision to pacify your children. You have time to read books, take spontaneous vacations and see movies in the middle of the afternoon. Gone are the busiest of days. I wonder if you will remember the struggle of being in your mid-thirties, shuffling three growing children around? I wonder if you will reflect on those days with fondness or with gratitude that they are over? Are you enjoying the relationships you now have with your three grown-up children? Oh I hope you are. But in case you want a glimpse of what a "day in the life" looked like all those years ago, I am happy to share because today was one of those non-stop, on the go days that blew past me like a whirlwind.

7:00-- Bleary-eyed, but awake after a six hour night of sleep. Made waffles for breakfast and got the kids dressed, teeth brushed, hair combed, shoes on and ready to go. I even made my bed today! Bonus points!
9:00-- Arrived at my gym, dropped kids at childcare and proceeded to work my booty off at Boot Camp.
10:30-- Dropped Leah off at gymnastics.
10:30-Noon-- With Hannah and Lucas in tow, I made several stops in the pouring rain including: Once Upon a Child Consignment Store (dropped off a pile of kids clothes/toys that have been accumulating for months now), Hobby Lobby (returned unused birthday invitations), the bank, the gas station, and Chick-fil-a to grab lunch for the kids.
12:00-- Pick Leah up from gymnastics, home to pick up the house, make myself lunch and write out a grocery list.
1:00-- Drop kids off with good friends down the street and head to grocery store. But while on the way,  I remembered that today is the deadline for Hannah's piano enrollment fee for next year, so I went back to the bank to withdraw some more money (because we are out of checks), then went to the grocery store, followed by a trip to the pharmacy to pick up Lucas' allergy medicine. From there I headed home, unloaded the groceries, filled out the piano enrollment packet, then drove to the piano teacher's house to drop it off.
3:30-- Picked up kids from neighbor's house and brought all six kids back to my house so their mom could go do her grocery shopping and errands.
3:30-5:30-- entertained/fed/played with six kids!
5:30-- started dinner. Shortly thereafter, Mike texted to say he would be an hour later than usual.
6:30-- served dinner. Two out of three kids ate it and one went hungry.
6:30-- kids played in their rooms while I clean up dinner dishes. Mike arrived home around 7:00.
7:00--8:30-- crazy haze of cleaning up the toys around the house, kids played with dad, baths were given, books were read and hugs and kisses both given and received.
9:00-- all was quiet in the Galloway house. I took a shower to finally wash the sweat that had been stuck to me for the last 12 hours since Boot Camp, and then I sat down to write this post.

Some of these days are so busy, but one thing is for sure. They are all worth it.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Day of the Yellow Jacket

I am sure this Saturday will go down as one of the least busiest Saturdays of the summer--maybe even the year. We didn't even leave the house once time. We have had such a busy week-- both Mike at work and me with the kids that we didn't have the energy to get out. Several times we looked at each other and asked, "You want to get out and do anything today?" But we never did. It was glorious.

Most of it anyway. After a pancake breakfast and a full morning of playing, we drained, cleaned and refilled our pool so the kids could swim. They excitedly put on their bathing suits and headed outside. About ten minutes into their outdoor swim session, Lucas came bursting in the back door saying, "Something's wrong with Leah!!!!!" Two seconds later Leah came in crying the "I'm really hurt, this is not a fake cry." If you're a parent you learn to distinguish the two very quickly. My heart rate picked up expecting to see blood or a broken bone. Instead, she was screaming that something had stung her and her back hurt really, really bad.

I took her in the bathroom and stripped off her bathing suit. She was shaking and crying, so it was hard to get a clear story of what happened, but it was clear that she had been stung not once, but twice. The area around each sting was swelling up and the skin around that was red and hot to the touch. Her whole back was super sensitive to any touch and she was nearing hysterics. Mike brought in some Benadryl, an ice pack and some dry clothes. Slowly Leah started calming down. I brought her to the couch and she put her head in my lap as I lightly scratched her face until the worst of the pain was over. We applied a paste made of baking soda and water which brought the swelling down quickly. Her brother and sister were so concerned about her and hovered nearby until they could tell she was okay.

Eventually her story came out. It went like this: "I was just standing by the tree next to our neighbor's yard when a bunch of black things flew out and started stinging me!" Mike and I went out to investigate and to our dismay we found a decent sized yellow jacket nest in our Bradford Pear tree! If you are not familiar, yellow jackets are in the wasp family and are meaner than a rattlesnake. They are aggressive and territorial and will sting multiple times.  My dad came over, and he and Mike formed a plan to get rid of them. They started by spraying the tree with the water hose which they did not like one bit. I watched from the back porch and saw at least a dozen fly out in a frenzy. Once the nest was cleared, my dad went in with a broom and knocked the nest down. It was full of round, white, gooey, yellow jacket eggs (larvae?). It was disgusting. Needless to say, it went far, far away. We're hoping without their nest, the yellow jackets won't return, but we are keeping an eye on it now.

This is the yellow jacket nest. It still gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Once that situation was taken care of, and Leah was feeling like her normal happy self again, we proceeded on with our afternoon and evening--dinner together at the table, more playing, a little America's Funniest Videos and then baths and bedtime. Minus the yellow jacket stings, today was just about perfect.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Easy Meatless Summer Recipe

Mike recently purchased a cookbook for me entitled Meatless: More than 200 of the Very Best Vegetarian Recipes. We have been talking about incorporating more meatless meals into our diet, and it has been fun trying out some of these delicious recipes. One in particular was a big hit for our whole family, and it is a perfect quick and easy weeknight summer meal. I thought I should share it with you all.

Zucchini Patties in Pita Bread

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I used one can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed).
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1 medium zucchini, grated
1 small red onion, grated
1 large egg, lightly whisked
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup olive oil
4 whole wheat pitas
1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
Lettuce (we used a spring mix)
1 cup fresh mint leaves (I left this out because I'm not a huge fan of mint if it is not in gum!)

1. Mash chickpeas in a bowl until smooth (I pulsed mine in a food processor a few times which worked much better). Stir in bread crumbs, zucchini, onion, egg and salt. Form into eight 1/2 inch patties.

2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute' patties until golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

3. To serve, halve pitas and stuff with patties. Top with lettuce, yogurt, and mint.

The outcome was sort of like a falafel, which I love. Very Greek-inspired, light and yummy. My kids opted to eat the patties with a fork, dipping each bite into ketchup. Mike and I thought the sandwiches were delicious. I served them up with chips and some sliced fresh cantaloupe. Done. Simple. No turning the oven on. Easy clean up. That's my kind of meal.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Building Your Child's Self-Esteem

Picture taken this morning before I dropped them off for the day.

This past week, Hannah and Leah have been participating in a summer day camp called Kanakuk Kampout. Kanakuk is a Christian sports camp located near Branson, Missouri. I was never able to attend there, but I knew many, many people who did and heard nothing but rave reviews. My cousins Kathryn, Deborah, Katie and Molly all went there every summer. Kathryn even went back as a counselor for several years. My girls are still a little too young for me to ship them to Missouri all by themselves for a few weeks, so when I heard that Kanakuk was doing a few day camps in our area, I was thrilled. Every day this week, I have dropped them off at 8:45 in the morning and picked them up at 4:00 in the afternoon. Their days have been filled with all kinds of typical camp activities like songs, chants, skits, and crafts. They also do small group devotionals and lots of outdoor activities such as zip lines, inflatable slip 'n slides, archery lessons, Euro Bungee jumping, and octoball (still not sure I understand this game, but the girls have described it as some version of softball).

This morning there was a "Mom's Coffee" right after I dropped my girls off, so I decided to attend. There was coffee (duh) and muffins and fruit, and the camp director and his wife talked for about an hour about "Building Your Child's Self-Esteem." I ended up taking notes and thought they made several good points. Some I had heard before, but needed to be reminded of, and others were new and gave me pause to consider how I can implement them. Here's an abbreviated version of the talk given this morning.

Four Gifts We Can Give Our Children to Build Their Self-Esteem:

1. The Gift of Community
--The greatest community your kids will be a part of is your family unit.
--Set and prioritize family traditions (i.e. dinner at the table each night, Friday night family movie night, bedtime routines, birthday/holiday traditions, game night, etc.)
--Set family standards (suggestion: have a night where you make a list as a family writing out what you stand for. Then you can refer to those in moments of discipline. "Remember, you are a Galloway. And us Galloways treat each other with respect, so I expect you to not hit your sister, even if she was bothering you.")
--Encourage strong sibling bonds (your siblings are your best practice for marriage later on--learning compromise, communication, sharing, etc.).

2. The Gift of Our Words
--A parent's words have the strongest influence over our children's lives.
--Praise your children often. But in that, try to look for ways to praise their character, not just their actions. ("I really like the way you showed compassion by playing with that little girl who was feeling left out.")
--Boys tend to communicate best shoulder to shoulder (taking an walk, playing a game, helping with a project) where girls tend to communicate better eye to eye (sitting across from them as you play tea party, listening to them as you tuck them in at night).

3. The Gift of Acceptance
-- Accept how your child is individually wired.
-- Accept their mistakes, but talk with them about what happened and what they could do differently the next time.
--Model humility (don't be afraid to go to them and say, "I'm sorry I lost my temper with you earlier. Will you forgive me?")
--Emphasize your unconditional love for them ("I will always love you even when you disobey." "Nothing you could ever do would make me stop loving you.")
* I thought the director shared a good point when he said he talked to his pre-teen daughter about modest vs. immodest clothes. He and his wife set the standard for clothing, but he said they told her she could experiment with her own choices within those parameters. Daisy Duke cut off jean shorts? No way. Purple sequined t-shirt with red leggings and lime green belt? Sure! Be creative!

4. The Gift of Prayer
-- Pray that your child realizes God's unconditional love for them
-- Pray that your child realizes his or her immense value
-- Pray for them not to have an easy life, but to have deep roots that can withstand the trials of this world.
-- Pray for wisdom in how you raise them

What do you think? Things you liked? Anything you want to add to the conversation?

Tomorrow is the girls' last day. It's been a great week!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Chickasaw Nation, A Quick Road Trip and A Double iPhone Miracle

Have I ever told you what my husband does? Well, foremost he is an artist. He went to the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan and he went to Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee (where we met). His forte is illustration, but he is a wicked good painter and also loves photography. He graduated with a degree in Studio Art and then bills had to be paid, so he got a job as a graphic designer. There he met a good friend and professional mentor who helped Mike combine his artistic nature with technology and boom-- it took off. Over the years Mike has worked as a graphic designer, owned his own design business, worked as a documentary film maker, and for the last two years he has worked as a creative director for an advertising agency.

Last week, Mike was moved to a different account and his new client is The Chickasaw Nation, one of the largest Native American tribes in the United States. Since he was off of work on Friday, we decided to pack up the family and drive an hour and a half south of us to Sulphur, Oklahoma to the Chickasaw Cultural Center. It was really quite an amazing place housing several buildings including a museum, a Chickasaw village, event center, restaurant, gift shop, movie theater and more. Mike took his camera and we walked around soaking in the culture. We watched a dance performance and listened to a man tell the history of the tribe. We walked through the village and imagined what life would have been like many years ago. The kids really enjoyed it!

Our family by the Cultural Center entrance

Hannah and Leah participating in some native "four corners dancing"

Kids in a canoe
(Lucas keeping a watchful eye on the situation)

Freaky bug 
We found him as we were walking through the garden

A Chickasaw village

Hannah and me standing at the top of the lookout tower

After our trip to the Chickasaw Cultural Center, we ate a picnic lunch then headed over to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area (which used to be called Platt National Park). In my 26 years of living in Oklahoma, I'd never been there, but immediately felt like I had been missing out! The natural springs there are amazing. And because the water that feeds them is from an underground aquifer, the water stays an icy cold 68 degrees year round. When it gets to be 110 degrees in late July, that icy cold water feels pretty dang good. This particular day it was only in the low 90's, but the kids put their suits on and jumped right in. It was a bit crowded because of the holiday weekend, but we had a great time until.....something awful happened. Stay tuned.
Leah jumping off "Little Niagara"

Hannah jumping off as well

This area had 11 ft. deep water, but other places the water was just knee or thigh deep. 

Hannah and her friend Eli making the climb to jump

So here's the awful stupid thing I did. I put my iPhone in my back pocket and waded out to the knee deep water with Lucas and Mike. As we rounded a corner in the creek? river? the water started getting deeper, coming up to my thighs and getting the bottom of my shorts wet. At this point did I turn around and go back? No, I rolled my shorts up and tried to step on a rock to avoid getting even wetter. However, the rock was slippery and I was wearing rubber flip flops, so I went crashing down into the water getting totally wet from the shoulders down. I stood up totally drenched in my clothes, feeling pretty embarrassed and then I remembered my phone in my back pocket. Oops. A sinking feeling came over me as I tried to turn it on. Nothing. Back in November I dropped my phone in a toilet and it never recovered, so I knew this one was a goner. Mike just shook his head. 

In spite of my fall into the water, we still had a good time, and we even stopped for some Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies on the way home.

This story does have a happy ending, however. The next morning, we decided to plug my "river phone" in to see if it would come on. And miracle of miracles, it did! It recovered and works just fine! Since we were on a roll, we pulled out the old "toilet phone" and it started working too! It was a double iPhone miracle! 
Hallelujah and please don't let me near water with my phone ever again. Amen.

PS: Here are a few links to the places we visited if you are interested in checking them out: