Tuesday, June 12, 2018

10 years

Hard to believe that in two days we will be married 10 years! To celebrate, we spent several days in the Ozarks. My parents graciously took the boys back with them for the week and Rob and I drove a million miles (maybe a LITTLE less) to enjoy time together. Our first stop was the Branson/Springfield area where we went to the Bass Pro Headquarters. From there we headed down south a little to Eureka Springs, where we spent the rest of our time at a cute little cottage/treehouse "resort". The place went above and beyond to make our anniversary stay with them a personalized one. A "Happy Anniversary" sign hung in the corner of the room. A snack basket and personal note was waiting for us when we arrived. If you ever find yourself in the Eureka Springs area, we highly recommend staying at the Oak Cottages/Treehouses.
Our trips usually take on a "theme" and this one was no different. But, I can't decide if the theme was "Fire Towers", "Myrtie Mae" or "Dodging Wildlife". In the small town of Eureka Springs, there are three 100 foot fire towers. (Well, one may have been 50 ft.) We climbed all of them. One of them we went on a 4 mile hike to get to. And one of them we went up twice. One of them we paid to go up but the gate wouldn't open for Rob so he had to climb the fence to access the fire tower staircase. All of them provided a beautiful scenic view. Myrtie Mae was another favorite of ours. It was a great little restaurant that we went to every morning, except for this morning (and only because they weren't open when we left town). Our waitress for two of the mornings is a sweet elderly lady that has been working there since 1975! The last theme, "Dodging Wildlife" started on our way up to Branson when a cute little deer tried to write his own death sentence by running in front of our car. Thankfully, Rob was driving and he was able to spare the deer's life...and my car. One of the days we were there we went kayaking. I have always been fearful of snakes but in recent years it has gotten worse. I fear them the most when I'm in the water. So, needless to say, I was scared of tipping over in the kayak and being bit by a snake. Rob assured me- more than once- that the water we were in was too cold for snakes. But, about a mile up the river, right in front of us, we watched as a guy got bit by a water snake. I was in shock and Rob couldn't believe the odds that it had taken place right in front of us. The third time we dodged wildlife wasn't at traumatic. A little red fox ran out in front of my car and once again Rob was able to dodge it, sparing its life.
The main reason that we were in Eureka Springs was because Rob has wanted to take me to see the Great Passion Play since we moved here. I am so glad that we saw it. It's another thing I recommend if you're in the Eureka Springs area. It's not that expensive and it is well put together, a very powerful performance!
I loved everything we did but two of my favorite things were kind of last minute. First I discovered this breath-taking little chapel about a mile from where we were staying. I wish I would've found it earlier so we could've gone to church there Sunday. It was so peaceful and reverent. I could spend a lot of quiet time there. Another thing I loved was a trail ride we went on our last day there. I got this big, sweet, gentle old gelding named Casper. I have never been so comfortable on the back of a horse, even when he was trotting up the hills. I am so glad I put my anxiety behind me so I could enjoy horseback riding through the Ozarks.
Between the hike, the fire towers, the delicious food (other than the buffet at the Great Passion Play, which I do NOT recommend to anyone), the cottage, kayaking and horseback riding it was the perfect way to spend our 10 year anniversary! The hills and wildflowers were endless. The scenery was beyond gorgeous. It was the perfect backdrop for both adventures and relaxation. We created fun memories to last a lifetime!















                                    



Thorncrown Chapel


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Strong

Sometimes being a parent means you have to be strong even when you don't think you can. It means putting on a brave face to calm your children's fears/concerns. Today I had to be that parent. The boys are currently 30k feet up in the sky, flying to Cali with my parents. It's the first time we've been away from them for more than a few days and definitely the furthest we've ever been away from them. So it's natural to feel lost, out of control, even a tad lonely. I am used to the boys being within a few hundred yards of me. We do everything together over the Summer.
But not for the next week. You know what got me through the goodbyes this morning? Knowing they were in good hands....and modern technology.
My mom told me that I flew with my aunt to see my grandparents when I was E's age. But back then there wasn't cell phones, Internet, FaceTime or texting (gasp!!). I don't know how my parents did it. In the two hours I have been away from the boys, I have received several texts and can tell you exactly where they are up in the sky at this very minute thanks to modern technology. But my parents didn't have that way back when I made the same type of trip our boys are currently on. They just had to be strong- and pray- because sometimes that's all a parent can do.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Last Day

I woke up sad.
I woke up sad because it's the last day of school.
I woke up sad because Rob is in TX for the day.
I woke up sad because my parents aren't here.

I doubt I'll ever consider LA home but I don't regret moving here. Moving here opened my eyes to a lot of things. I feel like our boys are getting a better education here and are definitely getting more spiritually fed. The only thing I wish was different is that my parents lived closer. I miss them every day but it's days like today that it breaks my heart to have them 2500 miles away. They are the "poster child" of awesome grandparents. They go above and beyond to let our boys know that they are loved. They send packages weekly with little goodies to let them know they are thinking of them. They text, call and email several times a week to let the boys know they are loved.
And it's times like this that I have no doubt that they'd practically live with us just so they didn't miss out on important events.
Both boys have school events today and E has another one Thursday. He also has t-ball games starting up. I know my parents would be here with bells on, cheering on the boys, encouraging them, showering them with love. Despite the miles that separate us, our boys have a special bond with my parents. But it still breaks my heart that I'll be the only one in the audience for both of our boys today. They will not having a cheering squad because my parents can't be here. So I will cheer loudly. I will encourage them with everything I've got. I will shower the boys with more love than they know is possible. And soon my parents will be here to love on them as only grandparents can.

Monday, May 21, 2018

End of Year Blues

P and I love listening to the Friday Dance Party on the way to school each week. It's our thing. This past Friday I pulled up in the carpool line and dared him to "floss" (A new dance craze for all of you unaware of the latest trends. It does not require real dental floss nor teeth.). He did the dance and I was laughing hysterically as one of the teachers joined in on the fun. But, as I was pulling away it hit me that that was the last Friday I would ever pull up to that specific school to drop P off during the Friday Morning Dance Party. The last Friday that Ms. Wendy will say hi to "Peyton" and join the dance party. And I teared up.
Usually I look forward to the end of the school year. I usually count down the days. Not this year. I am actually dreading it. Because it means two things. It means that E will no longer be a "baby". He will be in "big kid" school, where he'll be going full days (something he'll struggle with). And...P will be transferring to a new school.
Usually I am good with change. But this time I'm not. I love his current school. I love the teachers, the staff, the daily bell schedule. I love it all. I know the new school he is going to next year is as good or better (from what people tell me). But I'm still struggling with P going to a new school.
Tomorrow, on his last day at his current school, we will both be fighting back tears. When he is called forward to receive his awards, I won't embarrass him by shedding any tears. But I can't make any guarantees as I pull away from his school for the last time tomorrow. Tomorrow is the start of all new beginnings.....

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mother's Day

Mother's Day and my birthday...the two days out of the entire year that I like to be selfish. I want to feel more loved and appreciated than I do the other 363 days of the year. This year was probably my best Mother's Day to date. Rob told me to take the weekend off and relax and he'd do anything I asked him to do around the house. Now, that's not my MO, so I still did some laundry and fixed a couple meals. But he folded the laundry, washed the dishes, swept the floors. You know....all the stuff I don't like doing. The boys spoiled me as well. They gave me a beautiful card (as did Rob) and some flowers to plant. E, being E, gave me one of his prized baits. To anyone else, that'd be equivalent to giving someone a pot of gold. He also gave me a McDonald's Happy Meal squirt gun. P made me a note with a picture that said, "I love you because you take time out of your day to play with me." It made me feel good. Made me feel like they notice the things I do right more than the mistakes I make as a mom. After church we went to lunch at one of my favorite places, where I was given a rose. Then we lounged by the pool, got snowballs and went to the park to play a family game of t-ball. Throughout the day, Rob would tell me the reasons why he thought I am an amazing mom or the reasons why he loves me. It was a PERFECT day and I felt so loved/appreciated!
I, too, tried to make my mom's Mother's Day as special as I could without physically being with her. The boys chose a card for her that we all signed (other than Rob because I was racing to the post office to make sure I got it mailed in time). I called her and texted her to let her know I was thinking of her. But, our gift to her was a flop. I pre-ordered a book from her favorite author only to find out that she had already done the same thing. It works out, however, because it means I cancelled the order and we get to have a Mother/Daughter date in a couple weeks instead. Those are my favorites. I love spending 1:1 time with my mom because, over the years, she has become more than just my mom. She has become my friend. When we spend time together we talk, share secrets, reminisce, laugh and bond. It's a time I don't take for granted.
Moms are important. Not every child is blessed with a mom like mine. Sadly, we saw that yesterday while waiting to get snowballs. But moms are often not appreciated as much as they deserve. Their job is 24hrs a day some days (newborns/sick kids). Some moms do it alone. (My hat's off to single moms because it's all kinds of hard!) I am thankful that I have Rob. We have formed s strong team. We don't always see eye to eye and we're far from perfect. But I know he cherishes me and the kind of mom I am. That makes all the difference some days. So, please take time out of your day- not just on Mother's Day- to let moms know that you appreciates them: the moms who sacrifice, the moms who listen, the moms who play, the moms who provide, the moms who fill the role of mom and dad, the moms who guide, the moms who love you unconditionally. A little love goes a long way!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Happiest Place on Earth

You probably thought I had forgotten about our blog, didn't you? Well, between teaching, photography, soccer season, church and life in general I kind of did. But now I'm on Spring Break, the boys asked for a day at home to "rest" (ie play with their neighborhood friends) and I have a few minutes in between cleaning and photography stuff to blog.

So....when you picture the perfect family vacation what do you picture? For me it's a stress free time full of laughter and priceless memories. That's what our recent family vacation to Disney was. At the recommendation of friends, we stayed on the Disney property. The hotel room itself was far from fancy but the resort was so much fun- a couple pools, a football field, an arcade, ping pong tables. You name it, it had it. A kid's paradise. In fact, between you and me, I think the boys would've been perfectly happy if we had just stayed at the resort because there was so much stuff to do. But, since it was E's first Disney experience we dragged them to the theme parks. The first day, at Animal Kingdom, E wasn't so brave. He didn't want to go on any rides and I think it's safe to say that "It's a Bug's Life" scarred both boys for life. The second day we ventured to Magic Kingdom, where E became super brave. He rode on all but one ride, his favorite being Gumbo (or for the rest of the world, Dumbo). That was our last ride of the day because we were so tired. But I bet if we would've started the day on that ride we would've ridden it 20 times.
The weather was perfect both days. There was no stress about money because I had budgeted the correct amount. Rob and I compromised and worked as a team. We, as a family, got a lot of laughs...sometimes at the expense of another family member. (Like when I dropped an unopened bottle of Coke and it EXPLODED all over the people in line behind us or when Rob tripped over a curb playing tag with P or when both boys were screaming louder than the "It's a Bug's Life" movie that they didn't want to watch any more of it.)
When I look back on our vacation, that's what I'll remember. Sure, I'll remember the hot air balloon ride that we took or the lunch we had at the T-Rex Café (where E thought he was eating dinosaur fossils when he ordered the baby back ribs) or the safari we did at Animal Kingdom or the teacups ride at Magic Kingdom. But, even more than that I'll remember the belly laughs Rob and I shared on the drive home. I'll remember the look of excitement on E's face as we rode the bus to the theme parks. I'll remember the yelps of excitement that P let out when he saw the resort football field. Because, to me, that's what made the vacation better than great. It made it about as perfect as one vacation could get!










Friday, February 16, 2018

Mental Health vs Gun Control- ALL LIVES MATTER

Awe, you're pretty smart if you read the title and figured out that I'd be stepping onto my soapbox tonight. You know, there are only two things that will cause me to lie awake at night, worrying. Money and my family's safety. Since the title of this blog doesn't say a thing about money, then you know which topic I will be blogging about.
By now you know about the school shooting that took place in Florida this week. Call me callous or better yet, call me naïve, because I have not watched or read one news article about it. I can't. I cannot stomach hearing or reading in detail about another school shooting. I know the basics, all that I really need to know. I know that innocent lives were lost on a day that the students probably felt invincible when they awoke that morning. Social media is blowing up about what could have been done differently to prevent it, how gun control could have stopped it, how the shooter cried out multiple times for help to no avail because no one knows how to truly help those who suffer from mental illness. No matter where you stand on the issue, the sad reality is that school shootings are becoming too common. In fact, shootings in general, are becoming too common.
You want my thoughts on this? (If you don't then just stop reading here.) First and foremost, I believe that violence is becoming common because God is becoming "obsolete". It's easy to remove God from our schools, our government, our lives so to speak. But look at the results! We NEED God more than ever! Secondly, I think people have forgotten how to properly communicate. I do my best to actively (not look at my phone while they are talking) listen to the boys because I know that they need to feel they have a voice. If no one listens to them now, who will they be able to talk to when life gets hard? People send texts instead of discussing and resolving an issue in a logical manner. (I may have been guilty of this a few times in my life.) True communication is a thing of the past. No one makes time to talk...until it's too late. Thirdly, and my most controversial opinion, is that video games attribute to our spike in violence because a) it offers instant gratification and b) it glorifies killing someone who gets in your way. Now do I think all kids who play video games will become murderers? NO!!! But, sadly, for some it's the only life they know. They don't know how to play outside or use their imagination. They don't know how to play with others- working as a team or disagreeing about how to play a game/learning how to resolve the disagreement.
What people don't get is that, in most cases, issues that come out later in life began when the person was a minor. Communication takes daily practice. I am constantly coaching the boys on how they can talk to someone if they have an issue with them, how they can resolve the issue at hand in a positive way. Because I know that they will need that skill throughout life. Hopefully they also learn the skill of how to befriend people, how to be a good listener and hear more than just what the person is saying. Having someone on your side goes a long way! Our young people need that because, right now, I fear for the future of America.
I fear driving down the road because of road rage. I fear my boys going to middle school/high school. I fear that our little city is projected to double in population within the next 10 years (More people usually means more violence). I truly and honestly fear for our boys' lives as they get older. So I hope and PRAY that I am wrong. I PRAY that America does a complete turn around and turns back TOWARD God. Because if that doesn't happen my fears will most likely be justified. And that's something I will really be worried about!