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!


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.






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!

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

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!



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!


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.


Big lunch

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.)

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.)

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.


I love these two, are they not the cutest, even with the candy ring pop?

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!

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!

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!)




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.

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.

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.

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.)

Lake Day With Friends

Back in March, Adam and I began setting aside weekends on our calendar to go to the lake this summer with friends and family.  It felt a lit...