Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Social Summer

I get a lot of energy from being with people so this summer has been really enjoyable for me.  We have spent most every weekend with friends or family out on the lake.  Several weeks in a row we have had real quality time with families that we love to be with!

The Wood's and Freeman's have become two families that we enjoy hanging around.  All year long, our school age kids rode the bus home from school together and us Mommas would stand around and visit as we waited on our kids to arrive.  (I loved our bus stop conversations and the Route 44 drinks that Jenn would always bring!)  Now we're in supper club together, our kids enjoy playdates so we have gotten to spend even more time together as friends.
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Our kids enjoyed splashing on and jumping off of the Freeman's island and of course riding the Jet Ski was a huge hit!
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Time spent together as families really has been a lot of fun.  Getting to know each others kids in different settings, hearing their conversations and contagious laughter brings a smile to my face.   I have said to Adam several times, that this has been the best summer so far, in terms of having children.  Our kids don't have to have a nap but they still do nap---which gives me a little reprieve throughout the days; but since it's not a real requirement, our summer days, don't have to be quite as rigid to get all my running around done in the morning hours, as it once had been.  So, for our lake days, its been so wonderfully freeing to be able to stay out on the water all day, and be able to mostly enjoy the entire day together.  (There's bound to be a squabble or moments of whining, but for the most part, this season has been a real joy.)
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Memories were made and time spent together was treasured.
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London Kate and Ava Jane are adorable!  I look forward to watching this little friendship blossom.
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And last weekend we truly enjoyed our time with the Ross family.
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Benjamin was able to get up on the knee board while Chris and Sarah both skied and dominated!
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Chris even conquered the wakeboard (way to go!)
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Our kids enjoyed hanging out together.
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These cuties chatted entire time they were out on the tube and squealed and laughed with delight.
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Often Sarah and I make the comment that our boys look so much alike.  So, here's a question -- is this Emerson or Benjamin?  I'm the Momma and even I had to do a double take for this one?
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So, for this social butterfly, my love tank is completely full.  Spending time with those I love, and truly enjoy being around, is both encouraging and satisfying.  We have been on the go a lot this summer, which has been exhausting at times, but really, the work to plan and coordinate with people has been SO worth the effort.  I personally would put this summer, at least this part of my summer, on repeat and keep it there if I could, cause it's been that good!

Monday, July 25, 2016

20+ Years of Friendship

Friendship. It's one of those hard things to define.  I even looked to Webster for help, but he gave me nothing, simply defining it as "the state of being friends".  It's easier to describe what friendship is by how it affects me and makes me feel.  Over twenty-five years ago (how can that be?) I began friendships with several girls with whom I still have the privilege of them being involved in my life on a fairly regular basis.   They are girls who knew me as a young child who grew with me into junior-highers, high-schoolers and eventually going off to college with most of them.  We've been in each others weddings; been there for each other during two of our spouses deployments; and hosted many baby showers (as you will see in the group picture).  We've been through the ups and downs of job changes, moves, parenting trials and just dealing with the struggles of real life stuff.  So, to me, friendship should be defined as any person who knows you well, who has walked with you through difficult days, who encourages you to pursue your dreams, who pushes you to be better even when it might not be what you want to hear and who is willing to lend a helping hand whenever it's needed. Two verses epitomize what friendship is, Proverbs 27:17, "As iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another" and Proverbs 17:17 "A friend loves at all times."  These ladies have been both of these things to me, helping to knock off my sharp edges as they have loved me through thick and thin.  Lindsey coined the phrase "kidney friends" meaning, we are all friends who would donate a kidney if need be and that pretty much sums up "friendship".

So this past weekend we had a little mini reunion with all of our families.   Most of us now live back in Little Rock but Lindsey's family had to make the three hour trek from NWA.  Thanks so much for making the effort!  It was a pleasure to all be back together under one roof even if just for a few hours.  Here is the whole crew, we have sufficiently been fruitful and multiplied!
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The kids kept busy with an all out water balloon fight, I'm pretty sure we went through 400 plus balloons.
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They also enjoyed playing games and just running around outside, thanks Christy for hosting!
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The girls preferred to be inside and playing with the animals.
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These are the women who have been in my life for quite some time now.  I'm thankful for each one of you and grateful to be able to walk together through this journey called life.
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It's also such a blessing when your spouse enjoys being around your friends husbands too! I loved hearing the laughter coming from their direction cause it made my heart smile!   Life-long friendships are a treasure, one I don't take for granted!  I love each of you and am oh so grateful for the time we got to spend together! (Now lets not wait so long to do this next time, or some of us will have teenagers, yikes!!)
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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Changes Are Happening: Kid Snacks

As a mom to four kids who seem to constantly be hungry, even just moments after finishing any one of our three meals a day, I struggle to have healthy, go-to snacks on hand for when those growling bellies start to roar.  For so long I went to the regular, normal processed kid snacks.  We had a loaded up pantry full of Goldfish, Wheat Thins, chips of all varieties and always a Little Debbie dessert to throw in their lunch boxes for school.  This summer however, I've been trying to make changes in the way my kids and I eat and snack, so today I thought I'd share some kid snack ideas that I've found and follow it up with what I've been trying to do lately.

Here are a few of our favorites kid snacks so far.  My friend Carol introduced me to the bottomless pit of popsicle ideas that are out on Pinterest.  I took her lead and ordered popsicle molds off Amazon and have really loved it.  At first I was cynical and thought it would be too time consuming but literally it only takes a few minutes.  All you need are popsicle molds, whatever fruit you like best (we've done sliced strawberries, kiwi and blueberries), and some Coconut water.   So just three to five ingredients and you're ready to go.  Here's my kiddos enjoying their healthy popsicle treats while dressed as a pirate and a storm trooper.
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I followed Double The Batch's tips on how to do this.
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One of the snacks that I have really enjoyed eating, which I also got off Double The Batch's website were these delicious sliced apples slathered in peanut butter and sprinkled with granola.   I switched her mini chocolate chips to raisins --I'm sure that the chocolate would be a hit too, but we've not done that so far.  These don't sit out on our counter too long, because they get scarfed up!
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Another great cold snack treat that my kids have enjoyed are these quick and easy yogurt drops.   I found this idea over at A Healthy Slice of Life.  These were truly simple, easy and fast to make.  All you need is some Greek yogurt (any flavor will work).  Other then that all you need is a piping bag (a ziplock with a corner snipped off will work too) a cookie sheet and some sprinkles for fun.  All you do is pipe out little dollops on your cookie sheet, add a dash of sprinkles then pop them in the freezer for an hour or so and they're ready to go.  My kids have eaten the entire container of these in the last day so I'll have to get another round into the freezer and ready for consumption.
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So there's a quick look at some of our favorite kid snacks this summer.  I'm always looking for tasty yet healthy treats so drop me your ideas in the comment section below.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Splash Pad and Trolley Ride

One of the activities on my summertime "bucket list" was to take the kids and do the Farmers Market down in the River Market, do the Peabody splash pad and take the trolley ride across the river over into North Little Rock.  I'd told Carol it was something I was wanting to do, so we decided to give it a go.

We arrived early, parked our cars and unloaded our nine kids.  We got many, many looks and had several people comment that "we had our hands full"...but as she always says, "hands full heart fuller" and I totally concur!  We decided to bring strollers to help carry the food we were looking forward to purchasing in the market, the beach towels, the picnic lunches as well as all the other necessities; we looked a bit like pack mules, but that's ok.
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The River Market wasn't huge but there were several booths to buy from and Ava Jane helped me pick out some squash, zucchini, cucumbers and blueberries.
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We didn't spend a ton of time picking out food, we pretty much got what we wanted and headed to the splash pad which is just a few steps away from the River Market.  The kids had a great time running through the water and climbing on all the rocks.
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A bus load of kids arrived and as they filed in, I quickly started gathering my kids because it would be way too difficult to keep track of them in the midst of that crowd.  Carol caught the chaos of the moment in the below picture.  Before the school arrived we pretty much had the park to ourselves.
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We decided to grab a picnic table and eat a little bit early then head to the trolley stop.  I was sweating so badly that my entire shirt was soaked through as you can see in this oh so lovely picture!  Eek!
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We headed back to the cars to put our strollers and other items away so that we could more easily board the trolley.  We laughed along the way as people watched and commented on us having a lot of children in our care.  I jokingly said to a gentleman we encountered that we were like a small preschool class.  We stood outside Cache restaurant for quite some time waiting and sweating in the sun, unfortunately there's not an exact time listed as to when the trolley will arrive, all we knew was that it ran every 15 to 20 minutes...but that's a long time for nine hot little people and there Momma's to wait with the sun bearing down on us.
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We were all thrilled when the yellow trolley made its way to our stop.
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The view from the street car was pretty, it really was such a lovely day to be outside.   The kids enjoyed seeing the bridge and being up high in the air over the water.  Us Momma's were just thrilled to be sitting in the air-conditioning.
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We did have fun with our kids, but let there be no mistake, it.was.super-de-duper.hot!

Ava Jane's 5th Birthday - A Tea Party

I cannot understand how today, September 14th, 2017, we could possibly be celebrating Ava Jane's fifth birthday.  I still vividly rememb...