Sunday, October 23, 2016

Turning 35...

This has been a week of celebrating.  I've had family dinners, lunch with friends and finally a date night turned surprise party with some of my closest friends and their spouses thanks to my loving husband who worked super hard to keep it a surprise and he was for sure successful at it!

Originally it was supposed to have just been a date night, then it turned into a a night out with Carol and John, which is always super fun.  We made reservations at Chenal in the fine dining room but when we arrived London (who works at the front desk) told us that there had been a water leak in the fine dining room so they were seating people in the Traditions room.   I totally bought her story, though I did think it was super weird, especially since the doors to the Traditions room were closed. Adam pushed through the doorway and as I walked in, I was taken aback by the "SURPRISE--HAPPY BIRTHDAY!"
Adam did a great job of planning, coordinating and delegating for this little soirĂ©e.  He thought of it all, flowers for the centerpieces, delicious hors d'oeuvres, a tasty cake and even an array of wines and beer to choose from.  He had a smattering of country music including our recent favorite, Sam Hunt, playing in the background and had asked many of my closest friends to spend the evening just visiting and enjoying time together.
There was a delectable cheese tray, pork tenderloin, bruschetta, stuffed mushrooms, crab beignets with a roumelade sauce, vegetable kabobs and several other delicious appetizers.  We always enjoy a good Malbec or even a Cab, so there were several wine options available.
Midway through the evening Adam got everyones attention and spoke kind, encouraging words to me, which I truly appreciated.  I love this man who worked so hard to make me feel special.
And this was my birthday cake.  In Adam's words, "it isn't what I requested...I told them I wanted pink icing and a chocolate cake...never did I ask for orange flowers."  Though it's not the most beautiful cake Community Bakery has ever made, it did taste pretty good and certainly made for a great laugh!
We couldn't find the candle that Adam had brought so John took matters into his own hands and grabbed a candle off one of the cocktail tables...and ginormous candle to wish upon.

The cake tasted a lot better then it looked and we clearly housed most of it.
The same evening, down in the grand ballroom, there was a welcome home, black tie event for Miss America, who is our own Miss Arkansas, Savvy Shields!  This summer, Carol and I had gone to see our babysitter and friend, Abby, who was competing in the Miss Arkansas pageant as well and that's where we became acquainted with Savvy (Carol blogged about it here).   Let me just say, Savvy truly sparkles!  I was thrilled that she won Miss America and was hoping to get my picture with her, but this is as close as I could get unfortunately.  Carol, Stephanie and I couldn't resist stepping onto the red carpet and snapping a quick picture even though we weren't black tie appropriate.
My evening really was such fun!  Thanks to all who came out and helped to celebrate with me!  I'm blessed to have such great friends!  Thirty-five is starting out pretty good!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Pumpkin Patch 2016

I love going to the Pumpkin Patch each year and the boys still get excited to go which thrills this momma's heart for sure.  We'd hoped to go one of the days the kids were home for Parent Teacher conferences but it poured down rain so we switched gears.  Over the weekend, we decided to give it a go and it definitely didn't disappoint.  A perk, was that it actually was a cool morning and sort of resembled what fall should feel like, since we live in the south, its always a crap shoot as to whether it will be cool or smokin' hot in October.


Adam knows the owners of Bo Brook Farm so we chose to pick pumpkins there.  My cuties were excited to find their pumpkins, play on the tube slide and run through the hay maze.

We played on the tube slides and saw the animals.
My cute little cowboy, oh how I love him!
Whitney, Lachlan and my parents joined us for the hayride and playing in the corn pit.
The size and shape of all the different pumpkins is always fun for me to see and is a great reminder of how creative our God is.  From pumpkins that are big and smooth and perfectly round, to ones that are small and can be held in the palm of your hand, God uniquely made each of them, just like He uniquely made you and me.
Seeing the pumpkins and preparing for Fall with its crisp air reminds me of Genesis 8:22 when it says, "While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease"... though seasons change (both in nature and in life circumstances) I'm reminded that in every season, God is still God, and I have a reason to sing, I have a reason to worship.  Isaiah 25:1 says, "Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago."  Even when seasons are tough, when life is overwhelming and we feel pressed on all sides, God is in control and there is a confidence we can have in knowing that "He's got this".  In the midst of hard days or difficult seasons that seem to drone on and on, He's creating a beautiful tapestry that we see only from the backside with its gnarled and twisted threads, but He sees it from the front and all the threads are in their proper place and a beautiful masterpiece is created.  Thankfully seasons come and seasons go, blessed be the name of the Lord!

Here are our past pumpkin patch visits 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Life in the Fast Lane...the good and the bad

Thursday night we attended the Festival of Wines for the fifth time.  This year was Arkansas Heart Hospital's first time to be presenting sponsor for this particular event and I must say it was a real hit!  It was a great night with lots of wonderful wines, appetizers and cute little bite size desserts to partake of.  This is Adam with Koby, the chef at Arkansas Heart Hospital who was named Chef of the Year last year.  What other hospital can say their chef has claimed that award?!  He and his entire team did a phenomenal job on AHH's three tables of Pad Thai, salmon croquette cones and the delicious scallops topped with caviar; one trip to each table was not enough for me!  His presentation was impeccable and the flavor of each dish was delectable!!  I'd say it was a successful evening for sure!
We enjoyed spending some of the night with our good friends the Moore's; a night out without our eight children is always a great treat!
Saturday morning Adam took the boys and went fishing so Ava Jane and I went and got donuts at Krispy Kreme.  We rarely have just she and I moments so I enjoyed our morning together.  This little   Razorback cheerleader has my whole entire heart!
Later that afternoon, we had this little posse of boys over to play.  I love the friendships that are forming and taking root here! (Jennifer and Jeff, your boys are precious and I am grateful that my boys can call them their friends!)
I got to attend Peyton's fourth grade field trip to the Plantation Agriculture Museum down in Scott, Arkansas where they learned about how cotton is grown, harvested, seeded, and formed into so many everyday household items that we all use.  If was a really interesting tour and I would highly recommend this as a fun learning experience thats not too far from Little Rock, being just about 30 minutes away.
These boys make me smile big!  I enjoyed tagging along on this history lesson.
In almost ten years of parenting, I experienced my first case of bullying this past week and I must say it was gut wrenching to watch and experience.   It didn't happen in a scary place, a secluded restroom or even out on the school playground, which is where I often assume bullying takes place.  No, this happened at what was supposed to have been a fun costume party for a second grader in Lawson's class.   It started out all fun, complete with a popcorn machine, icee maker, fortune teller and bonfire. What could've been such an innocent, cute party turned out to be what Lawson now claims as "the worst party ever".  I was visiting with a group of Momma's when I decided I should go check on him. He and some of the boys had gone to jump on the trampoline which was hidden behind a bunch of trees.  As I rounded the corner I heard crying and immediately several bigger boys ran off toward the house.  Lawson proceeded to tell me that they had been making fun of his little friend and he was standing up for Michael when the big boys pulled his clip-on pirate earring off his earlobe and kicked him so hard in the stomach that he could hardly breath.  Lawson was filled with frustration and anger, he was mad, hurt and mostly shocked at the unkind treatment he had just received.  As his mother, I tried to calm him down and tell him how proud I was that he had stuck up for his little buddy.  We hugged in the tree-line while he composed himself then we rejoined the carnival-style fun.   Not twenty-five minutes later as the field behind the house became pitch black and the kids were playing chase, I saw Lawson come walking up toward the driveway again in tears.  He claimed that this time all the big boys along with several of the second grade boys were chasing him and calling him "Pirate boy" even after he'd told them his name was Lawson.  There was pushing and shoving, more pulling off of the pirate earring and his striped headband.  He said they would not stop picking on him.  With tears streaming down his face we quickly said our goodbye and walked to the car.  He was filled with anger and mad at how the party had gone.  In his emotional state I tried hard to recall every verse and biblical truth that I could think of.   Thankfully God's word just started to flow out of my mouth and I was able to explain that "vengeance is mine says the Lord, I will repay" and that it also tells us "to be kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another."  Before I even started the car I validated Lawson's feelings.  I told him that I completely understood that he wanted to be mean (in return) to those boys and that "getting back at them next week at school" was a natural response to their harsh behavior towards him, but that God calls us to higher standards, to un-natural reactions.  Lawson is only seven years old, his view of the world is still such an ideal place, but that night, he experienced the fallen state in which we live   No matter if our kids are at school, on the playground, on a playdate, are in our own homes or at a party; we as parents must be vigilant to watch our children, to correct wrong behavior (even if it's the behavior of other children) and to teach our kids the proper response even when it hurts.   It is situations like this one that produces character in our kids, so for that I am grateful, but it is certainly not pretty, nor enjoyable to watch or experience.  I am hopeful now that he's experienced first hand, how it feels, that he will be much more sensitive in the way he treats others he comes in contact with in the future.  Is he not the most adorable pirate you have ever seen?

The past few days the kids have been out of school for parent teacher conferences so Adam took some time off work too which was really nice.  We didn't plan a ton of stuff, and honestly, that was such a blessing.  Life has been busy and a bit overwhelming on all fronts for us lately, so to have a little reprieve was a true gift.  All the conferences for our kids went well, each of their teachers had many compliments and encouraging comments to make about our boys, their behavior and their attitudes.  One thing that Adam and I had to get a quick lesson on was the new way in which they are teaching division in fourth grade.  Instead of carrying down with an arrow (like we learned to do years ago) now they add zeros in place of the carry down arrows and work at the problem according to the tens and hundreds place value.  I now understand more of how they are teaching the kids, though I struggle with why they are teaching them this way and if it really does, more easily, help the kids understand what they are doing.  I guess only time will tell!  Here's one example that his teacher showed us...makes total sense huh?!
We took the kids to go see Stork one afternoon, which was a really cute movie.  It has some pretty funny lines that literally had people laughing out loud in the audience.  The kids loved it and so did the adults so that was a winwin!
The other thing we did was take the kids to Bass Pro Shop, Adam describes it like Disney World.  With the way they arrange their store, it makes you want, or feel like you need, one of almost everything!  The boys enjoyed looking at the ATV's, boats and life sized stuffed animals  Handling the 20 gauge shotgun (that Adam was inquiring about for them to hunt with), as well as seeing all the fish swimming around in the aquarium were just a few of the highlights.  From start to finish, Bass Pro Shop gives each patron a fun experience that, for us, ended with candy and carmel corn for all!
Life has for sure been full; it's been fast paced and filled with both good and bad--hard days at home, tough days at work, challenging homework moments and making fun memories with family.  Like I've said before, life is not always bad or always good.  Like a railroad track, with its parallel rails, the pleasant and the ugly things of life seem to coincide and for that I am so grateful.  

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Things We've Been Up To

Since returning from our trip two weeks ago, life has been in full swing of re-entry, sick kids, tears over homework, Mom's in Prayer group, party planning, etc.  Here's a brief recap of what we've been up to.

Ava Jane has been enjoying the new Kroger carts for kids.  When I can't find a ClickList time slot available to pick up my grocery orders, this is how we've started pun intended.  She loves putting the groceries in her basket and getting to put all the items up on the conveyor belt which is super helpful to me.  She's getting a daily dose of Home Ec as she's been wanting to help cook dinner, make grocery lists (i.e. scribble on paper) and help me pickup and clean the house, all of which are very welcomed helps for sure!
The kids school has been in the middle of Warrior Blitz, which is a fundraiser the school does that helps to fund 100% of the educational experiences at LRCA.   Last Friday I went and helped with the Warrior Blitz Celebration by manning the inflatable area; these cuties had a great time climbing and bouncing the afternoon away!
And when I'm cooking dinner or folding laundry (really, whenever I'm doing anything mindless), I have started listening to books on Audible these days.  This little nugget, Sparkly Green Earrings has been a really fun read as I've gotten to listen to Big Mama, Melanie Shankle, as she shares the everyday humors of being a mother including both the funny and sad moments as well as the heart wrenching and belly laugh moments as a Mom.  It's had me in full out tears and out right laughter as I can fully relate to all the ups and downs of Motherhood that she speaks of.  I have now finished the book and was teary eyed as the last words were read.
There's been lots of Saturday morning soccer games for Emerson and his little buddies.  The good thing is that he has honestly enjoyed playing this season and actually engaged, since last Spring was his first attempt at organized athletics and he's definitely more engaged then last season when clouds and dandelions were way more interesting then following which way the ball was headed.  We have been proud to cheer him on as he has scored goals and helped his team mates each week.
As I'm typing this up, it's starting to feel like this blog post is all about Emerson but I think it's just how the events have fallen the last few days.  On Monday, I got to attend his very first field trip with his Kindergarten class which he was tied between which was more exciting to him, riding the big yellow school bus to the pumpkin patch or getting to ride the trailer around the pumpkin patch...either way, both were a hit and he had fun enjoying time with his buddies outside the walls of his classroom.  And to top it off, it was a beautiful day to be picking pumpkins!
Out of these first four weeks of Bible study I have only made it to one.  264813351_68f2b9552d_o
The first week we were in the Dominican Republic, the second week Peyton was diagnosed with a Staph infection, which was extremely contagious and that kept him home from school that Thursday and Friday.  Then last week I did make it to Bible study but this week two of the kids were hit with the stomach bug.  It never seems to pass over our home, we always, always end up with that icky, horrible virus...each and every semester, without fail!  I'm learning to just enjoy the down moments with the kids, staying in our pjs almost all day never happens so we gave it a go this week and honestly, I kind of liked it...not the six loads of sheets and towels or the vomit that I got to pick out of Ava Jane's hair, but the down time that it afforded me was  nice I must admit.   Here's Adam helping clean up Emerson's room while I bathed him and picked the puke out of his hair.  Life as we well know, is not all roses or pretty pictures, so I'm keeping it real on this here blog!  (Adam is determined to try and stave off this ugly virus from taking him down too, so he entered Emerson's room fully armed and was a pretty comical moment in the midst of the disgusting smell and the dry heaves I experienced!)
Another downer has been the struggle to get all the homework completed each and EVERY afternoon without an enormous amount of tears from all my peeps.  If it's not the 10-20 minutes of reading that must be done, its the "confusion" that comes from trying to break apart 596 into how many hundreds, tens and ones it has according to Singapore Math.  Between fourth and second grade math and the gnashing of teeth through having to spell out all 20 spelling words, combined with the fact that I keep being asked after he's written each word down, "how many more do I have to spell?"...I may just go crazy!!  When you add Ava Jane's constant asking for snacks in the afternoon along with Lachlan's fairly consistent whining on top of all the homework drama, by the time Adam gets home in the evenings, to say I'm a frazzled nerve is putting it lightly.  I would break down and cry a bucket full of tears if it weren't for the frustration thats built up inside of me which holds said tears from spilling out.  So that's a little bit of what's been going on recently.  Here's hoping for less sickness next week and for homework to get progressively easier!

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...