Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Icey "Snow" Days

Well we have had quite the long "weekend".  We were already out of school on Friday (for a teacher work day) and Monday (for president's day), then with the added three days of icey "snow" days we enjoyed lots of togetherness time.  It's had its great moments, of wearing pajamas most of the day and reading stacks of books with the kids.  We have made lots of big breakfasts and pots of homemade hot chocolate topped off with handfuls of marshmallows.  There's been lots of playing together and watching of movies.  There's been moments of observing and listening (from around the door frame) as Ava Jane and Emerson had a tea party and he helped her so lovingly put on her dress-up high heels…that was simply precious!





They played in the icey snow and enjoyed it very much while Ava Jane and I enjoyed the beautiful scene from the warmth of the house!
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But I must say too, that today, when I woke up at 5:30am I was surprised when I got the first text saying that school had been delayed two hours.  Then by 7:20 they'd recanted that announcement and closed schools altogether!  For this Momma who was hoping to go get her nails done and then come home and "reclaim" the house from the past 48 hours of icey-togetherness, I must say, I was slightly bummed that there was no Mother's Day Out in my immediate future.

I do have to say though, since I'm one of those people who likes to be busy, who enjoys going places and getting things accomplished, it is honestly quite nice to have the weather interrupt my plans and simply have to stop altogether.   Just staying home is never on our agenda, just sitting and reading books and watching movies and playing Legos, just doesn't happen all that often.  I realize that, "it won't be like this for long" as Darius Rucker so poignantly sings, so in the midst of chaos and of trying to keep people occupied without some sort of screen to pass the time I decided to break out the teacher in me.  So I sat with Ava Jane and we sorted blocks by color.   She did this really well.  The first time she kept trying to mix colors but after that she was quick to dump all the small piles back into the big bucket only to start all over again and she got them all correctly sorted after that.  This sweet girl is learning and beginning to remember her letters too, how fast the time is flying, how can she be this big?  Emerson truly impressed me too.  As the third child, I must be honest, I've not spent as much time focused on his letter and number recognition like I did with the older boys.  So when I pulled out the magnetic letter game I was thrilled to learn that he can recall the names of more then half the alphabet and can find the capital and lower case letters to match which is a great start!  Lawson sat and did some word puzzles which he easily put together then worked on some addition and subtraction math sheets.  As the PARCC test assessments grow near, I knew it'd be good to work on some reading comprehension with Peyton.  He did pretty well once I went over the instructions with him, it seems like he has really begun to hit a stride this second grade year.


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And as a side note, I know that most of the icey mess is melting today but if you're looking for a "Dreamy Creamy Hot Chocolate" for this next round of winter weather that's in our forecast, here's my go-to recipe.  I guarantee there won't be much leftover after your kids get a taste of this!
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You'll need:
1-14oz can sweetened condensed
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
6 1/2 C hot water
marshmallows

In large saucepan, combine sweetened condensed milk, cocoa, vanilla and salt. Mix well. Over medium heat, slowly stir in water, heat through, stirring occasionally. DO NOT BOIL. Top with marshmallows if desired.

**Chocolate can be stored in fridge for up to 5 days. Mix well and reheat before serving.  Enjoy!

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Weeks Worth Of Catch Up

This past week has been busy, busy, busy:

On Friday, February 6th, my sister became a Mother. It was fun to be able to be with her at the hospital during her labor and to watch her do what God (in His creativity) created women to do. Sweet baby Lachlan was born weighing 8 lbs 12 oz and measuring in at 22 inches long. I was thrilled to finally meet him, he is precious!
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The IF conference, Friday and Saturday, was really a wonderful experience. Getting to hear Jen Hatmaker, Ann Voskamp and others speak truth, was really moving. And getting to worship one God along with hundreds of thousands of women all around the world, all at one time was truly a neat experience.  I'm still processing all that was said that night.

Then Saturday we had a fun evening getting all dressed up, helping to raise money for the American Heart Association. The Heart Ball is always a great event for a wonderful cause!
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Monday was workout class and some errands with the little ones. Then the afternoon held piano lessons for both of the big boys. Piano comes more easily for Peyton while practice is quite challenging for Lawson.  And since we all go into the church for the hour long lesson we naturally take a bag full of distractions: crayons, legos, iPads, leap frogs and my computer. Adam had a meeting at work so we met some friends for dinner at CFA which is always fun.  Then I took the kids home for baths and bedtime routines.
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Tuesday held BLOOM for me.  I love my group and very much appreciate their willingness to share, be transparent and vulnerable with one another.  I'm thankful to have them as iron sharpening iron in my life.  (This picture--that doesn't include everyone--was taken back at Christmas when we had a cookie exchange and I somehow never posted it, sorry ladies.)
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Adam had a board meeting that evening so he wasn't able to make it to our discipleship group at church.  Thanks to my parents for watching our kiddos every other Tuesday night so we can attend.

Wednesday I dropped the littles off at MDO and had a full day of shopping for some more household accessories.  Adam and I have been saving up to do a little redecorating and I'm anxiously awaiting all my furniture that is being upholstered that will be on its way here in the next month or so.  (I'll be sure to post some before and after pictures on the blog once it's all in.)
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Thursday was a big day of celebrating Valentine's parties at the school. Peyton's class did a "tea-party" theme while Lawson's class enjoyed some games, crafts and chocolate pizza from Larry's.
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I love these two, are they not the cutest, even with the candy ring pop?
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About five weeks ago our dishwasher bit the dust. It took us a few weeks to finally get to Metro Builders to pick a new one and then had to wait another few weeks for it to come in. We have had a few issues with our tile floor and actually had to replace it twice, so when the plumber had trouble getting the dishwasher out, it wasn't a total surprise since we'd had to replace the sub-floor. And thankfully it wasn't a big, harry deal, but the tile guys had to come out and remove tiles so that the dishwasher could come out.  These are all such 1st world problems (and mainly just inconveniences), but I must say, I am loving having my dishwasher back!
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Then Friday, my parents offered to have the kids spend the night so we took them up on the chance to go have a quiet dinner together, what a treat that always is. I love this "valentine" that God brought into my life almost sixteen years ago.   I'm so thankful for this man and for his commitment to me and our marriage.  This year, I was encouraged by an older, wiser woman to not make V-Day a huge thing for my kids (though they did still get a few little treats).  Her point was that they know how much I love them each and every day with our playdates and Sonic runs and cupcakes and cookies that are all regular occurences.  Rather, her suggestion was to focus on the ways my husband feels most loved (through quality time and touch) so that's what I tried to do this year.  We truly enjoyed our night out together, so thanks Mom and Dad!
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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Go Red For Women Survivor Unveiling

February is Heart Awareness month.  And this morning was the Go Red For Women survivors unveiling at the Capitol. Like I said a few weeks ago, Ava Jane was asked to share her story so we were excited to have this opportunity. (If you read this today, we will be on Channel 4 at 5:00 pm sharing a little bit about what Go Red For Women means to us---and you can see Ava Jane being quite antsy too!)
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The American Heart Association has chosen the color red to draw attention to the fight against heart disease in women. It is a misconception that heart attacks only happen to men. According to the American Heart Association, "one in three women will die of heart disease or stroke this year." With education and lifestyle changes heart related incidence can be prevented 80% of the time.
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So today, as we stood with law makers and influential people within our community to share a portion of her story as well as the stories of seven other women, we were excited to help raise awareness about something that has become quite personal to us over the past two years. Here, First Lady, Susan Hutchinson is speaking to the crowd.
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For us, a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) is what has made this Go Red movement so personal. The Pulse Oximetry law in Arkansas (of taking a newborns pulse ox reading as part of the initial exams after birth) did not come into existence until after Ava Jane was born. Had she had a pulse ox test or a four extremity blood pressure check, her CHD may have been found much sooner. "Babies with undetected Critical Congenital Heart Defects (of which Coarctation of the Aorta is considered a CCHD) have a significant increased risk of disability or death" according to the AHA. About nine of every 1,000 babies are born with a congenital heart defect--which is the leading cause of infant deaths in the United States. It's amazing that out of all the books and magazines I read while pregnant with each of our four children that I had never known or read anything about the prevalence of heart defects!

So today, as we shared a portion of Ava Jane's story, it was neat to stand there with others who have faced similar and some even more difficult situations then us. To be apart of something that has effected so many people young and old, black and white was really a great experience. Heart disease and Congenital Heart Defects do not discriminate so, until there's a cure, until research provides answers to the how and why and what can be done to prevent these types of problems --we must continue to raise awareness.
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Here are the staggering statistics:
-Heart Disease is the No. 1 killer of women, and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined
-Heart disease causes 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every minute
-An estimated 43 million women in the U.S. are affected by heart disease
-Ninety percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease
-Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease
-While 1 in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, 1 in 3 dies of heart disease

So tomorrow, would you join us on National Wear Red Day? You too can wear red to show your support for saving women's lives. (If you do, please take a picture and post it on social media using #GoRed.)
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Saturday, January 31, 2015

And So It's Begun...

We are well into the 2015 Basketball season. This year we chose to have Peyton be on a team with some friends from his school and church, after having been on a team for several years with our wonderful neighbors. Though we do miss the Mack boys and time spent with them, we are grateful for the opportunity for him to get to play with boys he see daily at school. With that said, Adam decided to coach both Peyton and Lawson's team, which seemed like no big deal when I was filling out the forms in Scottsdale last year, but now that we're living it out….I'm gonna be honest, it's kind of all consuming.

Take today for instance, Adam and Lawson left the house for team pictures at 7:45 (THAT.IS.EARLY!) His game was from 9-10, we had an hour and a half to get some things done at home and feed them lunch before Adam and Peyton headed back to the gym at 11:45 for his team pictures and then his game was 1-2. So, yes, I spent a lot of time inside Agape's gym today. Even so, it is really fun to watch the boys get super excited just to put on their uniforms but even more excited when the ball that they have dribbled all the way down the court with one arm up (guarding against the other team from stealing it) and then when it does in fact swish through the hoop…that's a great moment watching their reactions! Both arms straight up, pumping the air in excitement….and that makes the early mornings, the crazy moments of keeping the other kiddos at bay for 2 hours on the side lines, all worth it.

So here's few pics from the season so far. On Lawson's team, this is everyone's first year to play, so its pretty comical to watch these little ones. (Having sweet friends on the team makes it all the more fun!)
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There's definite excitement when a teammate scores some points!
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And they're learning sportsmanship, which is very important.
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Since this is Peyton's third year to play, he is gaining confidence dribbling the ball from one end to the other and driving in toward the goal.
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Those of us on the sidelines stay busy with stickers and crayons, iPads and iPhones, popcorn and goldfish. I look like a pack mule carrying in a huge bag of distractions that don't always do what I intended for them to. Like today, it was taking a little longer then usual to load the games and Ava Jane WAS.NOT.HAVING it! So after several rounds of screaming we made a trip to the ladies room…thankfully she chose to stop! We also have spent a little time with the Upwards Mascot (whose name has eluded me at this moment).
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And here's our little cowboy chilling with his snack of skittles…and yet again, we don't go anywhere without these boots…have I mentioned that before?!! And this hair, the yucky nose and the cocked to the side hat all proves that these last few Saturdays have been pretty grueling with early starts, long periods of me giving this and that trying to just make it through the entire two games.
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Hope you've had a good weekend! Ours has been pretty laid back this afternoon which has been nice after the last two weeks of constant illness.



Monday, January 26, 2015

Celebrating 4 Years

This year we decided to do a combined birthday for Emerson and JoJo since they are just four weeks apart. With their birthdays smack dab in the middle of winter its hard to plan a home party for lots of kiddos since the weather is always a gamble, so we chose to do a Jumpzone inflatable party. I think the boys had a great time! Trying to get two excited kiddos to look at the camera just didn't happen, this was the best shot of the two of them that I could get in their kingly birthday chair.
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The boys loved bouncing and running all over that place!
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Some of the slides are quite high but that did not deter them one bit!
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There was some crawling, walking, jumping and of course lots of bouncing--fun was had by all.
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This is what a head full of two year old hair looks like in mid-jump motion! She was Miss Independent the entire party.  Keeping up with this chick was a full time job!
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Once again, I couldn't have pulled it all off without the help of my parents, they always are ready to jump in however I need them and for that I'm so thankful!  Lawson unfortunately started running fever while we were at church so my Dad volunteered to stay home with him while we did the party.  And Mom saved the cupcakes from some little girl (who wasn't a party guest) who thought it'd be fun to run her fingers across the icing, lick her said fingers and then proceed to do it again. Really?!  (Thankfully she only got to three of the cupcakes!)
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The boys enjoyed blowing out their "4" candles but poor JoJo's cupcake did a little acrobatics off the plate so he got to have "Happy Birthday" sung to him twice.  I love how both boys are blowing their candle out with such gusto, that's pretty cute!
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And these sweet boys, oh how I hope that they'll be life long friends! The faces are priceless, there's the goofy face, the no smile and then the fake squinty-eyed smile--I'll just take what I can get!
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We had fun partying with lots of friends and family. The cupcakes and ice cream were a hit with everyone, even a few parents jumped in on the sugary goodness. I don't think Ava Jane enjoyed hers at all!
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Thanks to all who came out and helped us celebrate these two boys. I'm pretty sure our little cowboy had a terrific time! It looks like JoJo did too!  It's hard to believe four years (with Emerson) have come and gone.  Though JoJo still has a few days until he's officially four, we're all so grateful for the time we've been given with these little guys!  We sure love these kiddos and are glad that they get to grow up near one another.
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