Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Second Birthday Pic

This is my mom and I at my baby show for Lucas. She was so excited for Lucas to arrive. It was a beautiful day--so bright and sunny and full of family and friends. And I'm so glad I could share it with her.

Gosh, I miss her smile.

One of my biggest fears is that I'll forget her. That's why I love to look at pictures and retell stories and listen to videos of her voice.

No, I'll never forget. How could I forget a part of me?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Birthday Week

This Friday is my mom's birthday. I spent 34 birthdays with her, and this will mark the 4th without her. I've been thinking about her so much lately. Yesterday, I thought about her and cried off and on all day. Today I've been thinking about her and smiling. Grief is weird. 

In her honor, I thought I'd share one photo of my mom a day leading up to her birthday on the 30th.
The back of this photo reads, "Barb gathering pecans, 1301 Edgewood Dr, Graham, TX, Fall,1975." 

I was about 18 months away from being born when this picture was taken. Mom was at the end of her battle with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. She had recently finished brutal rounds of chemo and radiation. Her hair was starting to grow back. She was thin and weak, but so very happy to be alive. She had been told that because of the radiation she received, having children would be a slim possibility. I know she was struggling with this--the thought that she might never have children. But she trusted God. Sought His will. And found refuge in the shadow of the Almighty. 

The following May of 1976, my mom found out a baby was on the way--me. And I would be her only baby. 

I look at her face in this picture and see the strongest, bravest woman I've ever known. 

Thank you, Lord, for letting me be that miracle baby. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

August 2015

August in Oklahoma is one word: HOT. Usually over 100 degrees. It's delightful (not). Yet, if you can be near a pool or some sort of water source, it's not that bad. I still prefer the ease of summer--throw on shorts, tank, flip flops and you're good to go. Sleeping in, no set schedule, vacations...,I digress.

With school staring August 13th this year, we only had two weeks of summer left to play. 
My dear friend and college roomie, LeAnn, came down from Kansas for a visit with her boys. She surprised me with the news that she is pregnant with her third baby--a girl! LeAnn is amazing--smart (has her PhD in biochemistry and microbiology), beautiful, patient and so genuine and kind. She is a friend to everyone. I just love her and cherished our short, but sweet visit. 
We took in another fun Energy game!
We finally started the project of redoing our girls' room, taking it from toddler girls to young ladies. We started with new paint and carpet, then added bunk beds, new comforters and a desk. We still aren't finished, but we made big strides forward in August.
Getting there! We definitely freed up more floor space! 
My dad took Lucas to a Dodger's game for a special Guy's night out. They had a blast!
The second weekend in August, my friend Nikki and I decided to take a quick Mothers/Daughters' road trip. We decided to make this an annual thing from here out with these simple rules: 1. It will just be a weekend trip 2. It will be to an off the beaten path kind of place--no theme parks or or gimmicky kid traps. These girls' only trips will be focused on the journey, the quality time and a quirky experience so we can bond even more over the unique experience. For our innaugural trip, we chose the exotic town of Graham, TX. Why, you ask? This is the town I was born in and lived until I was ten years old. It's a quaint, small town of 8,000 in north-central Texas Hill Country. And it's only a 3.5 hour drive from OKC. 
We arrived around 1:00 and went straight to the Dairy King of course. That's right, Dairy KING, not Queen. The King is a total greasy dive that has been in Graham forever, and you must get a vanilla cream Coke when you go. It's the law. It might even be the eleventh commandment. Served with crushed ice and a classy super sized styrofoam cup, it's summer perfection. 

Next we checked into our hotel then changed and headed to the city pool where we swam the afternoon away. 
                    Cooling off! 
Later, back at the hotel, we did facial masks, manicures and pedicures. The girls loved it. Then we went next door to Pizza Hut for dinner before our final event for the evening--a drive-in movie! 
I grew up going to this drive-in! The firstv movie I saw here was Flight of the Navigator with my friend Shauna. We sat in the back of her dad's brown and orange pick-up truck and loved every minute of it! 
This night's feature was Pixels. It was meh, but the girls had tons of fun. Especially since we loaded them up with candy too.
The next morning we slept in, ate breakfast at the hotel, swam at the hotel pool, then checked out. On the way out of town, we stopped by Shauna's mom's house which happens to be across the street from the house I lived in. We got to sit and visit with her for a bit before we hit the road back to Oklahoma. But not without another Dairy King drive through!

Then, a few days started!!!
Hannah and Leah started 5th grade at Deer Creek Intermediate School! A new adventure!!

And Lucas started kindergarten at Deer Creek Elementary School just down the street. My handsome boy!!
Once school started, I could really start devoting a day or two a week working on the House of Healing Gala. This is Nikki, Kathy and I working on securing auction donations downtown in Bricktown one afternoon. 

I blinked and August was over! 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

On Napping

Hi, my name is Emily. I'm 38 years old, and I've been allowing myself a nap time as needed. There. I said it. No guilt about it!

As moms, I find that there is a tendency to find ourselves filling up our time to overflowing most days. Then as if to show our "good mom badge" we list off all the things we do in our day and all the activities we take our kids to justify how tired we feel. 

Is being a mom physically exhausting? Yes. Most days. 

Is it ok to allow ourselves to say "no" to some activities (let's don't jam pack our days, shall we?) and allow ourselves a break during the day? Yes! It's ok! It doesn't show weakness or defeat at all! 

It usually hits me around 2:00 in the afternoon. My eyes feel heavy, my body just wants to be still for a little while. And I realized, that by 2:00 I have been up and working for eight hours already! After working eight hours at any job, you would get a break. And guess what? From the time my girls walk in the door at 3:00 until I crawl into bed around 10:30 or 11:00, I've worked a second eight hour shift! No wonder moms are tired!

So if time allows for it, and if I feel sleepy (some days miraculously I don't!), I give myself permission to lie down on the couch and close my eyes for 20 minutes or so. And that little break for my mind and body does wonders for me. I feel like I can tackle the afternoon with more energy. 

And I'm ok with that! 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tenkiller 2015

This fall break marked the seventh time we have gathered at my aunt and uncle's house at Lake Tenkiller in NE Oklahoma. Our good friends, the Reutlinger's (also from OKC) and the Miller's (from Dallas) meet up with us there every year for a week of togetherness and family fun. It truly feels more like hanging out with family for the week. Our nine kids have grown up together and get along great. And the six of us adults laugh and talk and play games. It's seriously one of my favorite things every year. 
Our days started and ended on this back patio--coffee and pajamas in the morning and a glass of wine or sangria in the evening. We may or may not have still been in our pajamas in the evening. Don't judge. 

Arriving late Wednesday afternoon after a three hour drive from Oklahoma City, we got unpacked and settled in. My aunt Mary and uncle John live in Tulsa and use the lake house all summer. They are not there as often during the school year, so they graciously let us use it! Their home is at the top of Buckhorn Mountain. The front yard gives a view of the lake while the back yard looks out into the woods. It's so very peaceful. 

Looking out into the woods from the back patio. 
Tradition states that we end every day with a sunset walk. 
The Millers brought their sailboat, so Thursday we hung out on the water all afternoon. It was unseasonably warm (90 degrees), so we actually let the kids swim! In October! 
Mike and Reed learning the ropes.

Nikki, Angie and I doing our sailing pose.
Proof that our kids actually swam in the lake in the fall. They said it was cold, but not too bad. This momma didn't jump in though! 
Later, after the kids were all in bed, we opted for Bananagrams and Sangria. We might have been singing, "Your Lips Taste Like Sangria" all evening. 
                Day Three breakfast. 
Four years ago we built this fort in the woods. Every year the kids add to it. They literally play in it all day breaking only to eat and go to the bathroom. The girls really beautified it this year! 
Silly girls: Leah, Hannah, Marlee and Madison
There was corn hole. Lots of corn hole. And jokes about saying "corn hole." 
Brian kissing his new pal, Bob the (fake) Bison. 
        Late night Clue. Mrs. White did it. 
Day Four started with pumpkin carving.
Then somehow transitioned into an adult pyramid and a Whip and Nae-Nae dance off.
        Our traditional soccer game. 
The old faithful playground nearby always gets a fair amount of abuse by our kids each year.
                  Yum s'mores!
                  Yuck, s'mores! 
Chicken Creek woods provided the perfect playground for hide and seek and capture the flag. There was lots of running followed by sore muscles the next day.
The Galloway Pumpkin at night. It's Rumble, the Bison--our NBA mascot. He looks a little more sinister here.
The kids! Ages 11,10,10,8,8,6,6,6,3
The ladies! I'm not going to show our ages, but they are all under 40 for now.....
                 The Galloways!
                 The Reutlingers!
                     The Millers!
Can't wait to do it again next year! Only 11 months away. :) 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Parked Here For Awhile

It's fall break here, so yesterday we checked the kids out early and hit the road for our seventh annual trip to my family's cabin at Lake Tenkiller. So, I'll be parked right here for the next four days with some of my favorite people in the entire world--friends you know so well you can fold each other's underwear right out of the dryer or discuss bowel movements one minute and deep spiritual things the next. Lots of laughs, games, stories, walks in the woods, boat rides on the lake, and late night movies. 

No wi-fi. No Walmart or Starbucks. 

It might be my favorite week of the year.

I'll check back in with plenty of stories on Monday! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

July 2015

Catching up again today. So let's look back at July, shall we? It was a big month, so get ready for picture overload.
Fourth of July this year was all about tradition. Doing things we do every year. 
We look forward to them and it's part of the rhythm or our lives. Starting off with the LibertyFest Parade in Edmond. 

Up early and ready for the parade!
 It's 8:30 am here and it's probably already 90 degrees.

Top Left: Lucas and I at the parade. 
Top Right: Leah with a sparkler at our friend Beth's pool. We always spend the afternoon and early evening there with friends. We swim, we eat, we let the kids play with fireworks. It's great! 
Bottom: The day concludes with a fantastic fireworks presentation at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. 

A few days later, on July 9th, we hopped on a plane (a direct flight none the less! woot! woot!) to Newark, New Jersey to spend 11 days celebrating family. And it all started with these two.....
This is Richard and Dixie Galloway, Mike's parents.
They celebrated 50 years of marriage this summer and to celebrate all three of their children, plus spouses and all nine grandchildren, and one great-grandmother, all descended upon the east coast for a fun filled reunion. Mike's brother, Juan and his family live in New Jersey, but we came from Oklahoma (duh) and Mike's sister, Rachel and her family flew in from Alaska!
We all stayed at Mike's parents' house in Elizabeth, NJ for a few days, then we loaded up and headed to Long Beach Island for a week at the shore. It was just so, so fun.
Loaded up in the van and ready to go!
We had to bring enough food to feed 18 people three meals a day for seven days.
Just let that sink was a lot!

We've arrived!
I loved the house we stayed in. It was built in 1890 and had 8 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms and plenty of space for everyone.

But THIS. This was the best feature of the house. It was wrap-around porch heaven.
We spent most of our down time all gathered on the porch, talking, playing games, being silly.
We even hosted a talent show on the porch and celebrated two different family birthdays with cake and ice cream out here. 
One day, I want a house with a porch like this. A girl can dream!

Each and every room in the house had a stained glass window like this. 
I loved the simple color block pattern. 
The window in the bedroom Mike and I stayed in faced east, so we had the morning sunlight streaming in different colors across our bed every morning. 

At this time, it seems like a re-cap of who was staying here is in order. Starting from the top...

Grandma Velda: Mike's 92 year old grandma, mother of Richard (Mike's dad)

Richard and Dixie Galloway: Parents who started it all

Juan and Tracy Galloway: Mike's brother and his awesome wife
River: 19 year old niece
Hailey: 18 year old niece
Corban: 15 year old nephew
Connor: 13 year old nephew

Mike and Emily Galloway: The "Oklahoma Galloways"
Leah: 10 year old daughter
Hannah: 10 year old daughter
Lucas: 5 year old son

Rachel and Juan Martinez: Mike's sister and her Colombian husband
Velda: 7 year old niece
Rose: 7 month old niece

Hannah, Leah and Velda (the three amigas) playing in the Atlantic.
These three are so close and have so much fun together.
Why can't we live closer to each other!?!?!?
I loved that they had an entire week to just play and make memories together.
There was a lot of giggling in the house with these three (and they also shared a room together on the top floor of our beach house).

Another awesome thing about this trip was that I got to meet my newest niece, Rose, for the first time! She was born in Alaska on December 1st of 2014. She's everything I could have imagined and more: beautiful, chunky, smiley, sweet, cuddly, wonderful, yummy....
I love her.
Top Left: Building sand tunnels
Top Right: Sweet Rose
Bottom: Leah and I taking a walk through Beach Haven, the little town we stayed in.

Uncle Juan using his selfie stick.
We took all the kids to the local amusement park, Fantasy Island, one night and let them ride rides and play games.

Top Left: one of our nightly walks to get ice cream at Barry's. Coffee flavor is the bomb.
Top Right: Me at the beach on a cloudy, dreamy day.
Bottom Left: Lucas taking a contemplative walk on the shore. We saw a school of dolphins swimming by shortly after I took this pic!
Bottom Right: River and Hailey were in charge of our chalkboard menu every day. Mike crushed it will some killer kabobs one night. 

Lucas buried and loving it. 
This child managed to get sand in every crack and crevice of his body on a daily basis.

Kan Jam!
Lucas LOVES to play games, and this one was a big hit.  
Mike and Lucas = killer team
Mike and Emily = comical losers
Mommy's not skilled with a frisbee.

While Lucas was busy building sand castles and playing games, the girls were busy boogie boarding!
It was their favorite thing to do and they spent literally hours working on their skills. They actually got pretty good. Lucas tried it too, but the girls were ALL ABOUT IT.

This is my favorite picture of Lucas from our trip.
My boy and the big Atlantic stretching out before him.

Our whole crew!
I married into an awesome family.
I love these people.

I love him.

The Five Oklahoma Galloways

Mike, Juan and Juan
Yes, Mike's brother is named Juan (Juan Carlos Ricardo Galloway).
No, Mike's brother is not Hispanic.
Yes, Mike's brother-in-law is also named Juan (Juan Pablo Martinez).
Yes, we have a lot of fun with this!

My wonderful sisters-in-law, Rachel and Tracy
After seven days, we came back to Elizabeth for two more nights. 
One of those nights, we were able to jump on the train into New York City (it's a short 15 minute ride) for a double date night with Rachel and Juan. We ate delicious pizza at John's on Bleeker in Greenwich Village, then had coffee and cupcakes at Sweet Revenge. We were in food comas, but had a wonderful time. 
Top Left: pizza place
Bottom Left: Freedom Tower
Right: Rachel and me

We flew home on the 19th and will always cherish the fun memories of that trip.

On July 24th, our Lucas Gabriel turned 6!
From six weeks to six years, this boy has brought so much joy to our family.
He is sweet, smart, athletic, a good friend, and still likes to snuggle with him mom.
He will have my heart forever.

Birthday Boy in his new Energy Hat.

Instead of a big party, he requested that we take him and his two buddies to an Energy Soccer Game.
Done! We had cake and pizza at our house beforehand, then headed to the game.
And the Energy won!

A few days later, he lost his very first tooth.
It was a big month for this boy.

July 25th we celebrated one of my bestie's birthday.
Nikki is truly more like a sister than just a friend.
We've known each other over 15 years and have laughed, cried, prayed, talked (and talked and talked and talked) together, and we never seem to run out of things to talk about!
A group of us met up at The Grand House in the Asian District of OKC and had a yummy dinner out. Later we went back to our house for cake and games.
Summer wouldn't be complete without a trip to a water park.
Our last weekend in July, we took the kids to Andy Alligator's Water Park. It's a smaller park than others in the city, but the kids love it and because of its size, we can keep track of everyone easily.

Having twins is such a blessing.
These two really do love each other.

Phew! I think that about covers July!