Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Decade as Mrs. Stillwell

On Friday, Nathan and I celebrated 10 years of marriage! It really feels like we have been married longer than that, but I guess that is because we have been together almost 18 years. A while back I wanted to plan a trip to celebrate our anniversary. Well, Nathan didn't seem too excited or interested in any of my ideas - so after a while I just gave up on going anywhere and told him to plan something if he wanted and I was fine with doing anything but I wanted to do something since it was our 10 year anniversary this time. So, he planned a day date for us. We went to Conway and started with lunch at one of my favorites T.G.I. Fridays. Then we went shopping at some of my favorite places - Target and TJ Maxx :) After that we went to the movies and watched Neighbors 2 - which was pretty funny :) We then wanted to go to an outdoor store and found a place called Wilkinsons - we fell in love with that store! It had some of the best stuff and the prices were not too bad either. Then it was off to play some glow in the dark putt-putt golf where I beat Nathan by 17 - his putt-putt game is not that strong and I got 2 hole-in-ones! Then we wanted to check out a restaurant called Eat My Catfish. We had heard it was good. It wasn't bad - I wouldn't mind going back to try it again. Then we decided it was time to head home to the kids. It was nice to get home to them already fed and bathed so I just got to read them stories and put them in bed. It was a great way to spend my 10 year anniversary - just getting to spend the entire day having fun with Nathan.

We have changed a lot in the last 10 years, but also stayed the same. We still like doing the same things we used to do, we just enjoy them more when we get to do them because now we need to get a babysitter to do them. I told Nathan that  our first 10 years was so full of change - with a new (to us) house and becoming parents. I figure the next 10 years will be more growth with what we now have than change - but God may be laughing at me on that one :)

On our anniversary I shared 10 things I have learned about our marriage. I will share them again here since they pretty much sum it all up:

1. You can show love with food. Nathan will cook me food to show me he loves me. I don't cook to show Nathan I love him.
2. Being able to hold hands and pray with your spouse is one of the best feelings in the world.
3. Some things you have to chose to give up in order to stay married. For example: canoeing together. We can either canoe together, or stay married, but not both.
4. If I get a voicemail from Nathan, I know that 90% of the time the message is him singing or rapping to me.
5. I am constantly paranoid my butt is about to be slapped when I am standing at the counter. And usually it is.
6. When you are with someone for 18 years they know EXACTLY how to push your buttons. And will. (See #5 for an example)
7. Things like infertility, sick kids, and finances can destroy a marriage, if you let it. We have seasoned a few storms.
8. Things are not always going to be great in a marriage - even if they seem fine on the internet. Beware of those that want to hear about the bad parts.
9. You can share the best memories together but each remember it going down differently. For the record, I have never pooped in the bathtub or brought my own salad dressing to a restaurant - no matter what Nathan says.
10. There is so much more forgiveness and grace in marriage than anyone ever tells you.

These 10 years have been full of so much laughter, smiles, excitement, tears, and most importantly love. Here is to the next 10!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Kindergarten is over!

Kindergarten days seemed a little long at times, but the weeks and months flew by and it is already over! I remember at the parent meeting at the beginning of the year they said Noah would be reading by the end of the year and it was was so hard to imagine. Guess what? He can read and spell and write and so much more! It is crazy how much they learn in kindergarten!

I didn't know much about the kindergarten teachers so I was hoping (and did lots of praying) for a good fit for Noah. I am not saying other teachers would not have been good, but Ms. Damon was a PERFECT fit for Noah - and well for me too! This was a big change for our family. Our first child was going to school. Our kids were not going to be together all day each day. Noah was going to know people we don't know and do things we may never know about. Ms. Damon always answered my messages - even when I am sure she thought they were silly questions. She never made me feel like a bother and always made sure I understood everything going on. Noah was not a bad kid - he is really good 80% of the time but when he would get in trouble Ms. Damon gave him the right amount of discipline to get the point across - she made sure the important things were important to him and didn't dwell on little mistakes. Noah has shed some tears this last week realizing that he would not get to see Ms. Damon every day any more, but really that is a good thing - it shows how much of a good year he has had.

I also prayed that Noah would make friends in school. He is really good to play alone, but I wanted him to also experience friendships. Of course Noah says everyone in his class are his friends but he says his best friends are Aly, Ty, Aiden, Kadience and Connor. He would tell me what all they would play at recess - and that made me smile. I am hoping they get to carry on their friendships in the coming years! Plus - I like all their moms so getting to be around them all is a bonus!

Ty, Noah and Aiden

Noah and Connor in a sack race together

Kadience and Noah

Noah and Aly watching a program together

I am SO glad I was able to help with Noah's class so much this year. I was at every class party and read to the kids every other week. I also made it to the year end field trip. These are things I literally dreamed of when we were trying to have a baby all those years. Dropping my kid off and picking him up. Eating lunch with him. Watching school programs. It has all been so much fun!

Reading to Noah's class

Harold and the Purple Crayon activity!

Another highlight of this year was working in the volunteer room on Fridays. I have Fridays off of work so I decided to sign up to volunteer. I had no idea what that meant exactly, but something was telling me to do it. I quickly realized why I was being told to do it. It was all the friendships I made there this year. There are some really amazing people at that school and I looked forward to being there every Friday! Especially to see Tricia and Amber!  Tricia is the volunteer coordinator and is just one of the nicest people you will meet - she is going to do anything to help anyone and always made me feel appreciated! She even came to Noah's ballgames! She is definitely good people :) Amber is the other mom volunteer on Fridays and her son was also in Ms. Damons class. I loved having another mom to text with classwork questions or even just mom questions. Also, Amber is a therapist and I may have used her a time or ten for that - like I said, this was a year of changes for me and I am SO glad God put her in my path to help me.

Next up is summer break. Noah will be going back with Ryan to visit with Mrs. Laurie some days and with Meme some days (since she is a teacher on summer break too). I am hoping to get to take him on some special trips since this is his first real summer break - maybe Branson a couple of times, camping, and I would love to surprise him with a Legoland trip (maybe) - we shall see what the summer brings. For now, I am still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I have a first grader!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Noah Atlee Stillwell is 6!

On the Friday before Noah's birthday we took his picture with his birthday wishes on the the school sign with his birthday crown :) That night we kicked off his birthday weekend with dinner and a movie! We went to an early showing of The Angry Birds Movie and then dinner at Sumo (aka: The Firing Down Place - as the kids call it) where they brought Noah out a cupcake with a sparkler and sang to him in Japanese! Such a fun night!

The next morning I woke up to Noah staring at me with a big smile on his face at 6:26 a.m.! I said "Happy Birthday!" He then had to ask me if his hands looked bigger, feet looked bigger, if he was taller, etc. He said he sure felt bigger :) Once Ryan got up she gave him her gifts - she got him 2 books - one of which he had checked out at school and loved and asked to get it for his birthday. Once he opened them he read them to her - this made my heart very happy! Then we headed to Fort Smith for a fun day of toy shopping and Chuck E. Cheese. Papa Bobby gave Noah cash and he wanted to shop for his own toys from us. We went to Toys R Us first. Noah is part of the Toys R Us birthday club so when we got there they gave him a crown and balloon and announced his birthday on the intercom and told all the shoppers to wish him a happy birthday if they saw him shopping - and a few did, it was so cute :) After that he wanted to go to Walmart to shop a little. Then it was to Chuck E. Cheeses for lunch!

Ryan giving Noah books for his birthday :)

The next day was party day! I forgot to take Noah's picture with the hotel sign that puts his birthday on it each year, so we had to make a quick run over that morning to take a picture before they changed it to the next birthday! Then we went to church and it was party time! Noah chose a bowling birthday party this year. The kids had a great time and the parents were exhausted from helping them bowl! I was so busy helping 14 kids bowl I barely got any pictures - which, if you know me, is very disappointing to me  - but it is what it is. Noah said he had the best party ever and lots of family and friends were able to make it to celebrate him. It was a great day!

Some words about Noah on his birthday. Noah is literally the sweetest boy. He has such a kind heart and cares so much about peoples feelings. He never wants anyone left out or to feel bad. He loves God so much already and says the best prayers. He is a very picky eater but a lot of what he does like is healthy food (sort of) :) . He loves super heroes and wants to be one when he grows up. He loves to go on walks and four wheeler rides and collecting sticks and rocks. He is very witty and makes us laugh every day. He loves to be on stage and entertain people. I know God has big plans for him and I am so glad I get to be with him to help him grow each day. Here is to hoping the next 6 years do not go by so fast!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Fever, Field Trip and Fun Day!

We went to eat a few weeks ago and Ryan was being very cranky. I kept asking her if she felt ok and she said yes - no tummy ache, no fever, no sore throat. The next morning Noah had a ballgame. In the middle of the game Ryan wanted me to hold her - which is unusual, but especially with a playground right beside us. So I picked her up and she fell asleep on me. I knew something was up for sure. We went straight home after the game and I took her temperature - 102.8! We had 30 minutes to get her to the Saturday clinic in a town 30 minutes away, so she and I took off! We barely made it but they said they would see us. The doctor examined her and when she looked at her belly she asked me about the rash on her belly. It was very light and I told her I hadn't noticed it before, but it was so light it could have been there and I wouldn't have known. Then she looked at her throat and it was very swollen with white patches on it - she had Scarlet Fever! The doctor said it sounds scarier than it is, but basically it means she gets a rash with her strep, but if left untreated it can cause heart damage so she will need to be on her antibiotics and not miss any doses. I was nervous about antibiotics since the last time she had some she was allergic - but luckily we found some that was good for her. My throat hurt a little, but not bad like it has before when I had strep. I had one white dot on my throat so I went ahead and called my doctor and started antibiotics since we had such a busy week coming up. Ryan stayed in her room until she had been on her antibiotics for 24 hours and I disinfected the house. She was feeling so much better after just one dose of her medicine! We all tried to keep our distance from eachother to keep from spreading it - lots of hand washing, no sharing and blowing kisses :)

This was when we got home from the doctor before her 6 HOUR NAP!

Wednesday was Noah's last field trip! Half the kindergarten went to Merritt Park in Dardanelle. I followed the bus (well sort-of, I lost the bus before we left town :)  Thankfully for my phone GPS I met them at the park). Noah had the best time and played SO hard! I do not know how kids can ride the merry go round so many times in a row without getting sick! After lunch we went on a walk on the nature trail - it was so pretty! Lots of pretty trees and a cool pond that had lots of turtles, fish, ducks and geese in it. I am very lucky to have the opportunity to get to go on field trips with Noah and I love making these memories with him!

Calling the geese :)

Friday was supposed to be Water Day at Noah's school, but it was supposed to be cloudy and cool, so the water was not going to be ideal, so we just decided to leave the water part out and have Fun Day instead. This was also the last day of school before Noah's birthday, so that morning we had a pudding party with his class. I brought lots of different puddings and the kids loved getting to pick out their own flavors and Noah loved handing them out. We all sang to him and he got to blow a candle out :) After lunch it was the kindergartners turn to go through the 13 different stations at Fun Day! After about 8 stations Noah was fading fast - he was tired and over it but he finished without melting down. There were 3 bounce houses, Duck Duck Squirt game, water boat races, hula hooping and ball toss, trampolines, bikes, blocks, giant board games, sidewalk chalk, play-doh, giant frisbees, dancing, parachute games, 2 headed t-shirt races, and sack races! I was in charge of walking his class from station to station and I was tired from just doing that! So much fun was had and so many memories were made!

Pudding Party for Noah's Birthday!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Volunteering, Frozen, Civil War & T-ball

I love to volunteer my time whenever I can, and I have got to do a lot of that lately! It was teacher appreciation week at school so I helped with the popcorn buffet for the teachers one day. I really love helping at Noah's school - they always seem so thankful for the help. The popcorn buffet turned out so cute and it was so good!

The next day, the school celebrated the volunteers. All the classes made cute posters and they were hung in the halls - they were all so cute! The teachers made cookies and there was punch too - it was all so good! We then went to our child's classroom where they had made us a book full of letter saying what they are thankful to me for, a shirt, and a bird feeder with a sweet Bible verse attached. It was all so sweet! The letters from the kids really made my day! They said things like "you are beautiful", "I really like Noah", "I love Mrs. Stillwell" and "you bring good books" :) I absolutely love to volunteer at Noah's school and am so glad I have a job that allows me to do that. I have made some new friends and got to participate in so much with Noah. I love that he will have memories of me being there :) It will be a long summer until I get to go back and see my volunteer friends again!

The next day I volunteered to be a judge for the Mr. FBLA contest at the conference in Van Buren. My mother-in-law is an FBLA sponsor and asked me to do it since I have been doing the mock interviews at the local high school this year. It was a fun experience! These boys were 14-16 years old and really had a lot going on - lots of activities, career goals and dreams already!

On Thursday we surprised the kids with tickets to Frozen on Ice! I bought the tickets back in October and have been waiting patiently to finally get to tell them. Ryan decided to wear her Elsa dress :) Unfortunately I did not get to end up going (details here) but daddy and Meme came to the rescue and the kids had a great time! They loved it and keep telling me how great it is! I am hoping something similar comes around again soon so I can go with them. Daddy did manage to get some pictures for me :)

Since I missed Frozen on Ice with the kids, I decided that even though I only got about 4 hours sleep the night before, I needed to keep our movie date we had planned to see Captain America: Civil War on Friday. As usual - we had a great time! The movies is one of our favorite things to do! I really thought the sleepiness was getting to me when the movie started - instead of Captain America coming on, The Jungle Book started. I was so embarrassed for a minute - I thought "Oh no, I am so out of it I went to the wrong movie!" Luckily, I turned around and the girl behind me said "This is the Captain America theater right?" So, I hadn't messed up - they were just playing the wrong movie! They got it all fixed and the movie was not bad! I get lost in super hero movies (and Ryan's frequent bathroom trips don't help) but Noah fills us in on all the details :)

Noah's t-ball is in full-swing and he has had a few games now. He seems to be a lot more into in than the years past (this is his 3rd year to play) but he still cannot help himself when he sees the dirt - he just has to play in it! He likes having Daddy help with the team and I think Daddy likes helping too :) 
He beat this out at home plate and ran to the fence to tell me "I imagined that kid was a T-rex so I had to run for my life!"