Thursday, August 28, 2014


My friends Maria and Sarah recently posted a Confessions post and I thought I'd jump on their bandwagon. Personally, I think if the three of us actually had a band and were touring the country in a station wagon, that would be pretty sweet.  But that's another topic.....

1. I love The Carpenters. I really, really do. Karen Carpenter's voice is so rich and velvety. One late night in college, my roomies and I made up a lip synced performance of Top of The World. It was both awful and hilarious.

2. I have a fear of crowded elevators. I just won't ride them if I deem one to be too full. I will gladly take the stairs in most cases. And I confess to secretly pushing the button to close the doors if I hear a big crowd coming and I'm already on the elevator. Does this make me a bad person?

3. I feel sad when there is no dessert in the house. I don't need a full-on decedent three layer chocolate cake (although yum). Just a piece of chocolate or a cookie will do. Currently I'm addicted to chocolate butter cookies from Aldi. They are sooooo good!

4. I do not like the Lord of the Rings movies. There. I said it. I've sat through all of them and wish I had all those hours of my life back. I know Tolkien was a genius writer, and I think the movies are visually pretty, but....I just can't do it. I say no to Frodo.

5. I've never broken a bone. Well, that I know of. I'm pretty sure I've broken (or fractured?) my pinky toes, but that's never been confirmed. My daughter Leah says she hopes she breaks a bone because she really wants to have all of her friends sign her cast. I keep telling her that's not a good goal.

6. I have been personally serenaded by Robert Goulet. He also gave me a rose. I was ten years old, and I was wearing a denim dress with a fancy lace collar.
Robert Goulet
Total Stud

7. I have lived in Oklahoma for almost 28 years and have never been directly hit by a tornado. I'm not trying to tempt fate though.

8. Currently scheduled to record in my DVR: Top Chef Duels, Project Runway, Manhattan, The First 48, and 19 Kids and Counting. It's an eclectic mix, I am well aware. Currently in Mike's DVR list: The Walking Dead, The Strain, The Last Ship, and Falling Skies. Our TV viewing is vastly different!

9. One of my weirdest quirks is that I cannot stand sharp or pointy things aimed at my eye. What this means is if I am sitting in bed reading and the corner of a nearby throw pillow is aimed at my eyeball, I will have to move the pillow or throw it on the ground. Or if one of the kids is trying to explain their recent drawing to me by shoving it in my face and the point of the paper is aimed at my eye, I will have to move the paper so that the point is facing a different direction.

10. When I load groceries from my cart onto the conveyor belt at the store check out, I like to put everything together in a logical, organized way. Sort of like putting a puzzle together. Cold things go together, canned goods go together, produce stays together, boxed items all line up in a row. When my kids come to the store with me and "help" unload the cart, they just throw everything on there all willy-nilly and I have to just bite my tongue and cringe inwardly at the complete disarray.

There.....ten strange or unusual confessions. Feel free to comment with some of your own confessions too! I will leave you with this lovely video of Miss Carpenter to brighten your day. I know you want to sing with her.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Mom and me
Mother's Day

When my mom passed away in May of 2011, Hannah and Leah were 6 years old and about to finish up their year in kindergarten. Lucas was 20 months old, and we were looking forward to celebrating his 2nd birthday that coming July.

But in the blink of an eye, she was gone.

It happened so fast. It was a Tuesday. I had just finished eating lunch at home. The girls were at school, totally unaware, and Lucas was taking his afternoon nap when I got the dreaded call. Mercifully, my friend Nikki came immediately and picked Lucas up for me. A short while later, I was sitting in shock on my parents' couch surrounded by Mike on one side and my dad on the other. They were pretty much propping me up. Within a few hours of her death we were talking to the funeral home directors. I could barely answer their questions and have vague memories of that meeting other than I know it happened. I can still see the two very nice men in their dark suits sitting like shadows across the room. When they left, I remember walking out to the back patio with Mike following close behind. I sat there sobbing into his chest as it was quickly approaching the time to go pick up the girls after school.

What were we going to say?  How were we going to explain this?

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. They are going forget her. My kids are going to forget their grandmother.

It may not happen right away. But eventually my mom will be a fuzzy memory floating around in the deep recesses of their brains. I knew Lucas would never remember her. He was simply too young. But my girls saw my mom practically every day. They knew the sound of her voice. The way she squinted her eyes when she laughed. The comforting feel of her hugs. But Hannah and Leah were six--their whole lives were wide open before them ready to fill with new experiences that would push those happy memories of my mom aside.

I was eight when my grandfather passed away. I can definitely remember him today as I type this post at 37 years of age. But the details of my grandfather are definitely blurred. My memories of him spotty at best, and I saw him often and loved him dearly. If that's how I remember him and he died when I was eight, how on earth will my girls remember their grandmother!?

This is a fear that grips me. And an even darker fear is that I will someday forget. I know I won't forget her totally, that is impossible. But sometimes I try to remember the way her voice sounded or the way it felt to hold her hand, and I panic as the memory doesn't form right away.

My mom and Lucas
Robbers Cave State Park
July 2010

So....what do we do? I truly believe that memories need context. Without putting them into a specific time and place, they do start to fade a bit. And that means, we TALK. We talk about her a lot. We tell our kids stories. We look at pictures. I tell about the time we were walking along the beach in Galveston and my mom stepped on a dead jellyfish. How she hopped around because it stung her foot and my dad carried her to a medic station. I explain how Grandma used to take care of me when I was sick--even as an adult. She would scratch my back and cover me with an afghan and make me feel so much better. I tell my kids about how I got lost from my mom when I was five years old and we were shopping at Hobby Lobby. I can remember how relieved I was to see her face when the clerk helped me find her. Or how she and I tried and tried to beat my dad at Boggle, but we just never could. And how she always made blueberry walnut cake with lemon filling for my birthday even though it is a bit labor intense. I tell about the way she read children's books with enthusiasm and how the first thing she did after she woke up from open heart surgery was motion for me to come hold her hand. I explain that her favorite color was pale pink and her favorite book was To Kill a Mockingbird. The kids find me sniffing the Downy bottle, and I tell them that's how my mom smelled to me. I talk about how she always drank hot tea at breakfast and fed the cats bacon pieces under the table. And how the sound of her slippers swishing across the tile kitchen floor woke me up on Saturday mornings.
My mom and Hannah
At Old Germany Restaurant celebrating Grandma's birthday
October 2009

We talk and we talk and we talk. We add details to our conversations to give context to those memories. My kids ask questions about her and I always stop to answer them. We hang photos of her so that her face will never fade from our memories. We do this so that Hannah and Leah and Lucas will never truly forget.
Grandma and Leah

And I know I never will either.

Mom and me
Tuscan countryside
Italy, 2002

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Lucas Turned Five

I realized I left a very important event off my summer highlight reel! On July 24th, Lucas turned five years old! A whole hand! We definitely wanted to celebrate this little guy and all that makes him special.

It started here. 
July 24, 2009
Love at first sight.

Lucas Gabriel Galloway
2 weeks old
I love his big brown eyes, his thick black hair, his round little face and chubby kissable cheeks!
From the start, he was a sweet, easy baby.

His first Easter, 2010
My mom called him her "Beautiful Boy."

And that beautiful boy turned into a fun, outgoing toddler. 
Lucas, you have always charmed everyone with your smile.

That toddler continued to grow into a little boy who plays rough and tumble, but loves big.
Here is my little cowboy on his 4th birthday, July 2013.

My superhero in training
Lucas, November 2013

For my guy's big 5th birthday, he started his day by going to my mom's sister's house (my Aunt Lindell). We went swimming at her neighborhood pool, then she made a special birthday lunch--pizza and a "cookie cake" complete with candles to blow out. Seeing my aunt on my kids' birthdays is important to me because she represents my mom's presence. My Aunt Lindell [pronounced "Lynndull" not "Lynn Dell" by the way] is the closest thing to my mom. She and my mom were so close, best friends they would say.  And of course, she had a present for him to unwrap!
Heading out wearing his new birthday Minecraft Superhero shirt.

Blowing out candles at Lindell's house

After swimming and lunch it was time to go home and make the cupcakes for the evening's big birthday party with friends. He requested chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and "a strawberry on top!" What my boy wants for his birthday, he shall get. Within reason. :)
These look good here, but in the July heat they melted a bit. Wah wah. Still tasted good though and that's what counts!

For the fourth year in a row, we did a combined birthday party with our friends' daughter, Marlee. My friend Nikki and I were pregnant with our third babies together. I had Lucas on July 24th and she had Marlee on July 27th. Lucas and Marlee are the best of friends (and hopefully future spouses!) and most of their small circle of friends is the same. So it makes sense at this point to do their parties together. This year we met up at Hafer Park for dinner, cake, and presents. Then our birthday party drove next door to Pelican Bay Aquatic Center for an evening swim. Yes, he swam twice on his birthday!
All set up at Hafer Park!
Who's having a birthday?
These two, that's who!

Happy Birthday to you......

Make a wish, son. 
I hope all of your wishes come true.

My precious Lucas, 
You are a wonderful gift to your father and me! I am so happy and so thankful that you are a part of our family. You make us laugh every single day. And your sweet smile warms my heart.
I love how you adore your big sisters. I love that you can play soccer with full intensity, then come to the sidelines, hug me, smile and say, "Love you Momma!"
You are smart and giving and loyal. You are a good friend and you make others feel welcome.
God has big plans for you, Son! You are valuable beyond measure.
Please know that wherever life takes you, you will always be deeply and unconditionally loved.

Friday, August 22, 2014

About Our Dog

Since I took a break from blogging during the months of April-July, I feel as if you might be wondering about a missing part of our family--our dog, Roxie. Many people have asked about her after noting her absence from my Facebook posts. The short answer is this: she no longer lives with us (but she is alive and happy). The longer answer is something I will address here today and can henceforth refer people to if they have questions.

For years Mike and I had talked about getting a dog. Growing up Mike's family always had dogs. And at least one of those dogs was always a Boxer. Mike was particularly close to one of those Boxers named Rocket, and he has many good memories with him.  Growing up, I never had a dog. We have always been a cat family, sometimes having up to five house cats. I love cats. But I also love dogs too. Most of my extended family members and friends growing up all have or had dogs which I loved on. So, when the girls were nearing the age of 9, we decided to go forward in our pursuit of having a family canine. 

We decided to get a Boxer based on Mike's lifelong experiences with them as well as their sweet nature. They are extremely loyal to their families and make a great family pet. We brought Roxie home when she was a little puppy. She was cute, she slept a lot during the day, but not much at night, and she was most content in your lap. As she grew, it was apparent that she was displaying some serious separation anxiety. When we left the house, she went crazy tearing things up, losing control of her bladder and bowels, not eating or drinking anything. This made going anywhere very difficult. Whether she was inside or outside, these behaviors occurred. We consulted our vet and followed through with many of his suggestions. No change. We took Roxie to a very well-recommended (and expensive) obedience school. No change. We were getting to the end of our rope. In addition, as she grew into a much bigger dog with lots of energy, her playtime began to get a little too rough for Lucas. He became afraid of her, and we had to keep the two separated much of the time. It was all getting to be very stressful. 

We really loved that crazy dog, but after having her for six months it was clear that she was not the right fit for our family. She needed a big backyard to run off LOTS of energy (our backyard is the size of a postage stamp). She needed to be around other dogs to socialize (we were in no way ready to handle another dog). She needed a family who wasn't on the go so much (our lifestyle is busy and we like to take spontaneous day trips). Thankfully, we were able to get connected to the perfect family to take our Roxie girl. This husband and wife are retired, live in the country on two acres, and have an older Boxer to welcome Roxie into the fold. She will be able to run freely outside with her new "sister" and have lots of down time inside with this older retired couple who ADORE her. 

Although our girls were heartbroken, they understood the situation and are happy with her new living arrangement. We can go visit her anytime. She is a happier dog too.

Will we ever try having a dog again? I'm not sure. Right now we are content with our two cats, our sweet old ladies, Ellie and Tundra. Although we might consider adding a kitten to the mix in the near future. We'll just have to wait and see.

So that, my friends, is the long answer to "Where's Roxie?" or "What happened to your dog?" I think the whole thing was a major learning experience. We still love our Roxie girl. And I'm happy knowing she is happy. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

First Week Of School Interview

Today officially marks the first week of school for my kiddos. One week of getting up earlier than usual. One week of packing lunches and snacks and signing reading logs. One week of new schedules and routines and experiences.

So after school today, I decided to conduct an interview with each of my three children. I asked them the same ten questions about their take on the first week of school 2014-2015. Here's what they had to say.

1. What grade are you in this year and what school do you go to?
I'm in 4th grade at Deer Creek Elementary

2. What is your teacher's name?
Well, we rotate classes this year, but Mrs. Brown is my main teacher. Mrs. McMullen is math and science and Mrs. Johnson is social studies.

3. What are some of your favorite things about school this year?
I like science. I liked sharing our "about me" superhero masks that we made on the first day. And I like writing.

4. What is your favorite subject?
Hmmm.....hard to pick. Probably both reading and science.

5. Do you prefer bringing a lunch from home or getting a school lunch?
I like both!

6. What is your favorite thing to eat at lunch?
I like the meatball subs and veggie sticks at school.

7, What are you looking forward to this year?
Having Book Buddies!! [4th graders get to read with a kindergarten book buddy on Fridays]

8. What is your favorite specials class? [i.e. art, music, P.E., library]
Music first, then library

9. Name a few of your friends at school.
Hannah, Sophia, Justice, Summer, Georgette, and Gulnessa

10. What advice would you give to a third grader this year about 4th grade so far?
Beware of social studies!

1. What grade are you in and what school do you go to?
I'm in 4th grade at Deer Creek Elementary School

2. What is your teacher's name?
Mrs. Brown

3. What are some of your favorite things about school this year?
Reading, playing outside, and hanging out with my friends.

4. What is your favorite subject?

5. Do you like bringing a lunch from home or getting a school lunch?
Bringing my lunch from home

6. What is your favorite thing to eat at lunch?
My favorite lunch would be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, chips, broccoli with ranch, Babybel cheese, and a chocolate chip cookie.

7. What are you looking forward to this year?
AR parties and Art Club! [AR stands for "Accelerated Reader" and is part of their reading program]

8. What is your favorite specials class?

9. Name a few of your friends at school.
Sophia, Leah, Summer, Georgette

10. What advice would you give to a third grader this year about 4th grade so far?
Listen to your teacher!

1. What grade are you in and what school do you go to?
Pre-K at Hannah and Leah's school [We obviously need to work on the name of his school!]

2. What is your teacher's name?
Mrs. Rashidzada but we call her Mrs. R

3. What are some of your favorite things about school this year?
Playing, going to the library and rest time

4. What is your favorite center?
I like both car center and play doh center

5. Do you like bringing your lunch from home or getting a school lunch?
Bringing lunch from home

6. What is your favorite thing to eat at lunch?
Peanut butter sandwich with apples and grapes. No chips because I think they might be turning my hair grey. 

7. What are you looking forward to this year?
To playing on the big playground!

8. What is your favorite specials class?
Library then music then P.E.

9. Name a few of your friends at school.
Marley, Jackson, Hughie and Ben

10. What advice would you give to a younger kid about Pre-K so far?
You should really play play doh in Pre-K!!

So there you have it. Deep thoughts about 4th grade and Pre-K!  I think I should ask them these questions again at the end of the year and see what if any changes they make in their answers!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Summer Reading

I love summer reading. With free time a little easier to come by (think sitting on airplanes, car rides, and a later bedtime without the pressure of getting up early the next morning) I plowed through two fun book this past June and July.

The day before we left for New Jersey this past June, I ran to the library and picked up this book that was waiting for me on the reserve shelf. I love this author. Her books, The Glass Castle and Half-Broke Horses, are two of my favorites. Both of those books were memoirs which read like great fiction with lovable, kooky characters and intriguing plot lines. So I had been dying to read her newest and first work of fiction. The Silver Star follows the life of two sisters and their crazy single mother in 1970. The book begins in California, but after a sad, yet commonplace disappearance of their mother, the sisters journey out on their own, traveling by bus to Virginia where they hope to be taken in by an uncle they barely remember. Once in Virginia, the cast of characters widens to include a kind, country family, a wicked business man and his beaten down wife, and classmates leery of any newcomers--especially two hippie girls from California. This book explores the strength of the bond of sisterhood as well as the deep-rooted need to have a place to call "home".  I absolutely loved this novel, and would highly recommend it for a fun summer read!

I had never heard of the blog "Big Mama" before, but when this book appeared in a "must read" list in a magazine, the title and summary intrigued me. Turns out, Melanie Shankle is a popular mom-blogger and this is her first published work--a memoir of motherhood. Let me just say, you know a book is good when you read the first two chapters standing in the aisle at the library. Additionally, when you laugh out loud in the quiet library, you also have a winner in my book (book, library....ya see what I did there?!). I particularly found the chapters describing Melanie's pregnancy and delivery quite amusing. If you are looking for some deep-thinking, soul challenging reads, may I suggest you go find a C.S. Lewis book. If you are looking for a fun, light, hilarious book that will make you reflect on your own motherhood journey, then go check this out. I promise you will smile as you turn the pages. And check out Melanie's blog too!

So what have you been reading this summer? I'd love to know!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

For The Love of Soccer

My dear, sweet husband is not what I would call a sports fan. He watches OU football games with me and attends Thunder basketball games with me, but he is not a die-hard fan in any sense of the word. He doesn't golf (although thinks going to the driving range is fun), and he likes to watch/play/follow tennis. But there is one sport that I would say he is fully into. As in has the gear, doesn't miss a game, reads up on players, etc. And that sport is SOCCER. Or should I say "futball"? Mike is most definitely a soccer guy. He follows British Premiere League and is a fan of Chelsea FC. In the fifteen years we've been married, I've started to become a fan too. Although I still think soccer is not as fast-paced and exciting as football or basketball, I can officially say I like it. I'm beginning to understand it. Believe me, Mike has had to explain "offsides" many, many times, but I think I get it now!

So, with that being said, when it was announced that Oklahoma City was getting a professional soccer team, Mike was super pumped. The OKC Energy FC is about to wind down its first season ever, and our city came out to support them in a big way. The games are usually full of fans, chanting, cheering the team on. And ticket prices are really affordable, especially compared to our NBA team.

This past Saturday, the Energy was playing the Los Angeles Galaxy, and we thought it would be a fun game to take the kids to. It was their first ever professional sporting event, and they were excited. Especially Lucas who has inherited his father's love of the game.

When Mike and I go to games, we always eat at Irma's Burger Shack first. 
So we continued the family tradition with the kids.
Leah, Mike and Hannah were making their "game faces" here.
Although Mike said he looks like he is trying to hold in a fart. Ahem.

Lucas and Mom ready to cheer on our team
He was so excited and slightly overwhelmed when we got there.
But mostly buzzing around excited.

The girls chose a more relaxed approach as they watched the game in the lounge chairs we brought.

When the sun went down, it was actually nice out and in the distance you could see rain falling. Thankfully it stayed dry where we were.
Our guys are in the blue/green jerseys (also known as "kits" as I'm learning).

Lucas bravely joined in a pick-up game of soccer with a bunch of older boys. He was not shy and played his little heart out.

Our view behind the goal.

At the end of the game, fans could go out on the field and meet the players. Mike bought Lucas his own Energy soccer ball and he had it signed which he thought was cool. 
This boy was hot, sweaty, tired, but so happy at the end of the night. And I mean, so happy that he cried when it was time to go home. But that's how five year olds show their happiness, right?
At any rate, we had a fun night as a family.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Summer Highlight Reel

This summer flew by.  I know people say that all the time, but really, I blinked and it was over. Part of the reason it passed so quickly was due to the fact that the kids and I stayed busy, and we took a ten day vacation in June which made that month seem super short. We certainly had a few days here and there where we were just home in our pajamas all day, playing, coloring, cuddling, reading, and generally being lazy. But most days were on the go, up and at 'em!  I'll attempt a highlight reel of the Galloway Summer 2014 to give you a glimpse of what we were up to. Brace yourselves. There are a lot of photos.

 Lucas played T-ball this summer through the YMCA. Every Monday night through June and July we watched him play. It became a fun family outing that we looked forward to each week.
He loved it! Although he still declares soccer to be his favorite sport ever.
Mike's parents, Gram and DooDad, came to visit at the end of May. They purchased an RV and took a month long trip across the country. Thankfully, Oklahoma City was one of their stops and we got to spend some time with them. Here we are at Martin Nature Center enjoying a fairly cool summer day!
On June 4th, we celebrated our15th wedding anniversary. 
We went out to eat at our favorite lakeside restaurant, Red Rock Canyon Grill. Then we got a hotel room downtown and just enjoyed a quiet night away. After sleeping until 10 o'clock (!!) the next morning, we got some coffee and scones from our favorite local coffee joint, then did a little shopping to prepare for our up coming vacation. We picked up the kids from my dad and step mom later that afternoon. It was a nice, relaxing getaway.

Katie and me
In June, we traveled to New York for my cousin Katie's wedding. She's an attorney in New York City, but originally she is an Okie like us. She and her husband (who works on Wall Street) have the life of a young, powerful, professional couple living in the Big Apple. We are pretty proud of her! Her parents, my Uncle John and Aunt Mary, rented a huge house on Long Island for us to all stay in and enjoy the festivities of the wedding weekend. It was awesome!

At the rehearsal dinner, my kids got to see the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. They were so excited!

Lucas looking out at the waves, contemplating the meaning of life.
Or more likely, how far out he can go before he drowns.

Our family before the rehearsal. Leah and Hannah were the flower girls and Lucas was the ring bearer.
Fun facts: I was the flower girl at Katie's parents' wedding back in 1984. And Katie was the Junior Bridesmaid in my wedding in 1999.  Her younger sister, Molly, was my flower girl.

The morning of the wedding was sunny and so we hit the beach again. This time in proper swimming attire. This picture of Leah sums up how my kids felt about the ocean. It was love at first sight.

Fancy Galloways 
The wedding was "semi-formal" which meant Mike had to buy a suit. It was probably time for him to own a suit, and I think he looks rather handsome if I do say so myself!

This picture was taken at about 10:30 pm. We stayed until 11:30 at which point my kids were in complete meltdown mode.
Here we are at the reception.  Awesome dinner, open bar, fantastic band (the lead singer looked and sounded like Bruno Mars), tear-jerking speeches, lots of dancing.....need I say more? Fun times were had by all. Oh, I guess I will say more thing: one of my cousin's bridesmaids is dating an NFL player (plays for the Ravens, not sure of his exact name), but he was out on the dance floor taking selfies with just about everyone. He also loved my kids and most of the night they were on his shoulders or by his side. Thanks Mr. NFL player! Don't remember who you are, but you made my kids night a lot of fun! 
After the wedding weekend, we drove over to New Jersey to spend the next seven days with Mike's family there. To be specific, his mom, dad, brother, sister-in-law, Tracy and their kids: River, Hailey, Corban and Connor. On the drive there, we stopped at Coney Island to spend a fun day riding rides and people watching. There is good people watching there, folks. We ended up spending the entire afternoon at Coney Island before arriving at Mike's parents' house just in time for a Father's Day cookout with all the fam.

Our first full day in Jersey, was spent at the Jersey Shore! More beach time! 
We did all the typical beachy things: sandcastles, digging massive holes (that's a thing, right?), swimming, boogie boarding (the girls were really into it), collecting seashells, jumping over waves, feeling the warm sun on your face and soft sand beneath your feet. 

Mike and the kids in Times Square
Of course we made it into NYC for a few days. On this day, we took the kids and did kid-friendly things like the Central Park Zoo and FAO Schwartz. We walked through Times Square and had a slice of NY style pizza. The kids had to do a LOT of walking, and they were troopers. Mike and I made it in to the city by ourselves on another day. We explored Chelsea Market and walked the High Line and enjoyed our day there just the two of us.

Leah getting ready to serve some soup.
One of the most special things we did while visiting Mike's family is take the kids out on the Relief Bus to serve the homeless in NYC for a day. In 1987, Mike's parents started a ministry called New York City Relief which takes old school busses converted into soup kitchens out to the poorest parts of NYC to serve food, provide clothes, basic health care, counseling, and referrals to a host of programs from shelters to drug rehab facilities. Teams of volunteers are needed to keep the busses running, and we joined up this particular day with a youth group from St. Louis as we went out, served soup, bread, and lemonade in Chelsea Park. The girls did an awesome job serving. They greeted each person with a smile and told them to have a good day. They got to see and be a part of something much bigger than themselves, and I think it made an impact on them. 

Hannah passing out bread.
For more info, you can check out the Relief Bus website!

The Scream. Literally. If this picture only came with sound effects.....
Another day of our vacation was spent visiting Mike's brother and his family in New Jersey. They took us to an amazing sculpture garden in Trenton where we spent an entire afternoon wandering around the beautifully landscaped gardens, looking at all the amazing statures. Then we finished the day off with dinner at their farmhouse, watching the sunset as we roasted marshmallows over the fire pit. 
Here's another sculpture from the gardens. They were HUGE.

Hannah displaying the festive cake she made for the Fourth!
(By the way, it's wacky cake, a yummy vegan recipe we have loved for years now. My friend Maria shared the recipe on her blog back in 2010.)
We came home from our ten day East Coast trip just in time for the Fourth of July. 
The tradition we've had for many years now is to swim and cook out at our friends Beth and Justin's house. They have a great pool where we swim until it's dark enough to light some sparklers. Then we end the evening by driving to the nearby University for a big fireworks display.

My lovely friend Beth and me on the Fourth of July
Leah started taking horseback riding lessons back in April, and those lessons continued throughout the summer months. This is Grit, a 25 year old retired ranch horse who is living out the rest of his days peacefully at my friend Leslie's home. She has three other horses that she cares for. Leah thinks Grit is about the best thing since sliced bread.

At least once a week, we had a swimming date at Beth's pool. Usually my friend Nikki and her three kids were there too. It is our little slice of heaven because all six of our kids are old enough to swim on their own. Like, no assistance needed. So the three of us ladies find ourselves sipping ice water (or sangria!) and chatting while relaxing on the lounge chairs where we do keep a close eye on the young ones and occasionally jump in and play a bit too.

My Uncle Jim, Aunt Anne and Cousin Becky came from California to OKC for a visit a few weeks ago, so we had a lovely family get together at my Aunt Lindell's house. Have I mentioned that I have a large extended family? Let me explain: my mom was one of six, my dad was one of five, and I have 16 first cousins many of whom are now married and have yeah, lots of people.

In July, we went to the CatVid Fest at the amphitheater by the Myriad Botanical Gardens. I had never heard of this festival before, but it was so up my alley. I love cats. I love weird YouTube cat videos. What else do you need to have have a funky, cool festival? Seriously, this is a national touring festival that happened to make a stop in OKC. It celebrates all things feline: cat face painting, cat portrait painting (yes), cat t-shirts for sale, and many local cat rescue groups were there promoting their cause and accepting donations. There were food trucks and live music and the evening ended with a 60 minute video of the best cat videos around. 

Weeks before the event, you could submit your own cat photos which would be displayed in a slide show before the movie began. Here's our Tundra, looking awesome.
This was one of our favorite videos of the evening. Meet Henri, La Chat Noir.
I also continued to work out/teach this summer with Body & Soul Fitness. This is me on stage with our awesome director, Ruth Ann. I am only a sub instructor, so I fill in when our main gal, Jamie, can't be there. I love the accountability and friendships I've made working out here. And I sweat like a pig every. single. time.

We spent lots of time at Martin Nature Center this summer. It's close to our house and it always delivers the peaceful break from busy life that we need. This summer was unusually mild compared to Oklahoma summers of the past. 2011 and 2012 are two that stand out in my memory. Over 60 days of 100+ temps. I might still be slightly bitter. However, we've barely had any 100 degree days this year. In fact, we've had many days with the highs in the 70's and 80's and lots of rain to boot! Alright, Oklahoma. I forgive you. 

On one of those 90 something degree days, we were invited to go ice skating with some friends. The girls had been once before, but Lucas had never gone, and he is always up for an active challenge. Thankfully, the ice rink gave him this walker-thing that helped him maneuver the ice quite well! 
I'd recommend it as a way to beat the summer heat. And get exercise. And wear your kids out so that they fall asleep as soon as their sweet little heads hit their pillows.
Lake Hefner Sunset
August, 2014
Yep, this summer was pretty good to us. We laughed a lot. We spent time with friends and family. We stayed up late and slept in. We watched movies and read books and enjoyed a break from any kind of schedule. 

And then two days ago this happened.....
Hannah and Leah started 4th grade and Lucas started Pre-K
Mike and I with our big boy. He was pumped because he's now at the same elementary school as Hannah and Leah. It offers all day Pre-K, so he's there 8:35 to 3:35 just like his big sisters. Having three kids in school full time is new territory for me!

Ok, school year. Let's do this!