Monday, January 30, 2017

A Celebration of Life

I got a message that I hated to receive last weekend - one of my oldest and dearest friends father had passed away. This friend was one that I had been friends since Church Camp over 20 years ago and even though we lived over an hour away from eachother, we always kept in touch. We were eachothers bridesmaids, vacationed together and were sure to make the birth of eachothers children. Then our lives got busy and over the years we didn't see eachother as much. We kept up with eachother on Facebook (thank God for Facebook - being able to keep up with friends near and far are why it is so important to me) but had not actually gotten together in a few years. When her husband messaged me with the news about her dad, I just knew I had to be at the service.

Noah had a ballgame so Nathan had to stay and coach so I went alone. When I got to the Church it was crowded but I spotted my friend. To my surprise she seemed to be holding it together well, smiling and hugging people. I made my way to her and came up behind her. I tapped her on the shoulder and she turned around and as soon as she saw me we both started crying and hugging. She said she had held it together fine until she saw me - I was the same way. I guess it was just the reality of why we were back together in that moment hit us both hard.

This was a celebration of life instead of a funeral and it was a first for me. It was actually amazing! Lots of people stood up and told stories of my friends father and we laughed and laughed. His widow and son even stood up to tell stories - I cannot even imagine, but also found it amazing that they were able to do that. I really hope that there are people who will want to and be able to stand up at my service and tell good things on me - Nathan won't be able to, he is a big old softy :) It was so nice to catch up with my friend, even for just a minute. We have already made plans to get together in a few weeks and I am so glad - it has been way too long and life is way too short!

The rest of the Saturday was spent at home. I cleaned, the kids played and we watched another Harry Potter - only 5 more to go :)

Sumo lunch with these two crazy kids
Sunday, after church, we went to Noah's favorite for lunch - Sumo. Funny thing happened there - the waitress refilled everyones sweet teas at the table and everyone started looking around at eachother and one actually spit hers out in a napkin. The waitress had put salt instead of sugar in the tea!! I looked around and saw people taking a drink and reacting the same way at other tables too! I felt bad for her - but it was pretty funny too! After lunch we went to get Nathan a tie for the Father Daughter Dance coming up and Nathan wanted to get Noah himself a video rocker to play games in. The kids LOVE the video rocker and have literally not got out of it since we got it. Ryan threw a fit when I wouldn't let her eat supper in it! They shared it during movie night Sunday night while we watched Storks - it was so cute :)

Now for a fun week of basketball and ballet followed by a Super Bowl weekend! Go Commercials! ;)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Shopping, Bowling & Dinosaurs!

On Saturday, Nathan was golfing in a fundraiser tournament so the kids and I spent the day in Fort Smith. Ryan has a Daddy Daughter Dance coming up so we needed to find her a dress for it - plus we always are looking for a good excuse to eat at a good restaurant. We got lucky and found the dress at the first place we went but it took 4 more stores to find a jacket for the dress, and then there was shoes of course. Plus, we had to get Nathan's dad a birthday present. The kids were so good through all the stores - one of those days I felt I was raising them right ;)

Enjoying a massage while shopping
We had lunch at Texas Roadhouse. It has become one of our favorites to take the kids. Noah loves their steak (a new thing for our picky eater) and Ryan (as gross at this sounds) loves making applesauce cheeseburgers and hot dogs there. The bread is great too - the kids and I may have had 3 baskets of it :) Plus the servers line dance in the isle - and Ryan was so excited she had to stand in the booth and dance too!

We made it home just in time to meet Daddy for dinner and bowling. The kids love bowling and we have not took them in months. I won the bowling game, but Ryan was right behind me! :)

Sunday we decided to surprise the kids with an adventure after Church. We let them guess what it could be the whole hour drive there - even telling them we were going underwear shopping or to the booger museum. They were pleasantly surprised to see the surprise was Jurassic Quest! I have been watching this event for years and was so excited when it was finally going to be close enough to take the kids. My cousin Talen and her family met us there. We had the best day riding dinosaurs, looking at exhibits, petting baby dinosaurs, digging for fossils, making crafts and lots more! We kept going back and forth on whether or not to take the kids to this, but I realized that Noah is almost 7. Seven years old, already. We are almost to the end of when he will enjoy this kind of stuff so I want to take advantage of any opportunity to see the excitement he has when we do something he loves.

After a quick dinner, we had to hurry back to visit with Meme Donna and Papa Chuck and give Papa his present since that was his actual birthday. Such a fun weekend full of memories. Now to finish Spirit Week at school and see what other adventures we can find this weekend!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Assistant Principal for the Day!

50 AR points!
Noah has not proved to be very competitive by nature in most things in life. So far that is just not how he is as a person. He began taking Accelerated Reader (AR) tests in September. Each test is only worth half a point so I figured it would take every bit of the year to get to the end goal of 100 points. We began reading his library books and a few extra books we had at home. Once he reached a few prize levels he started getting more excited. I was able to check his progress online and started noticing he was failing some of the tests. When I asked him about it he said those tests didn't have recorded voice - meaning the tests were not read to them by the computer. So, he had to read the questions and possible answers and some of the words in the questions and answers were not on the first grade reading level. I remembered seeing on the AR Information form that any parents wanting to come in and help with AR testing in the mornings could do so.  I spoke to his teacher and she said that the tests without recorded voice was a problem with many of the students and I was welcome to come in and help. So, Noah and I started reading stories in the morning before school so they would be fresh on his brain and then go in and test on them. While I was helping Noah I also read some tests to some of the other students too.

Showing his over 100 AR points!

Noah decided after getting about 25 points that he wanted to be the first one in his class to gain the 100 point reward of being Assistant Principal for the day. I was all for supporting this! Once we started the routine of morning reading and me helping with the non recorded voice tests Noah began gaining points like crazy! He was constantly asking me to help him read more books and we would test until the last minute every morning. He received rewards along the way like pencils, two extra recesses, juice party, trip to the park, water bottle, a medal, a kids meal and finally Assistant Principal for the Day!

Not only was Noah the first one in his class to be Assistant Principal for the Day but he was the first in the entire school! Noah was so excited and could not wait to tell his teacher. He had to wait a week for his big day and he asked me every day how many more days until he was Assistant Principal. Friday January 20, 2017, was his big day! The school really went all out to celebrate his accomplishment and make him feel special. His name was on the school sign, announced on the intercom and put on the Facebook page and lots of teachers congratulated him in the hallway.  Some of the students asked if Mr. Ziegler picked him up for school that day since he was his assistant for the day :)

Since Noah's Principal wears a lot of vests Noah had to wear one too on his special day. 

When you are Assistant Principal you don't have to do any school work and you get 100's on all assignments for the day! Noah had such a fun day with the principal. He got to help the principal hand out AR rewards to other kids and help test the Kindergartners on sight words. Noah's big day was also on the day I volunteer at the school so he kept insisting he go check on me and tell me to "get back to work" :) When he wasn't assisting the principal or checking on me he had fun in his class where he got to read or do special activities while the other kids did their work.

Noah's friends Kadience and Lexi wanted a picture with the Assistant Principal for the day :)
I am really trying to stress how important reading is to Noah so that maybe he will find a love for it that me and his father never found. We always just read when we had to, never for pleasure. Maybe this will help us all find a love for it somehow - after all, Ryan will be doing all this in 2 years and Noah will be moving up to other AR challenges in the next school. (I don't even want to talk about leaving this school yet - the fact he is almost done at the Primary is heartbreaking to me - I absolutely love that building and wish we had more time there). I decided to keep coming in before school and helping the other students with testing. I am reading tests to some kids and books to others and watching them get excited when their total scores come up is so rewarding. I would have never thought I would be so involved in a reading program but I am glad I am :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Our Cinematic Holiday Weekend

Friday night Nathan and I got to go on a date night! We finally got to try out The Old Bank restaurant in Russellville. It is so cool inside! We absolutely loved the atmosphere - sports decor, old brick walls, huge tv's everywhere (not only showing sports), and a cool view from the second story window! Our food was good too! We plan to go back as soon as we get the chance to.

My handsome date making a status about how much he loves me I'm sure :)

After the movie we went to see Patriot's Day. I have been looking forward to this movie coming out for a long time. Not only does it have my crush Mark Wahlberg in it and one of my all-time favorites John Goodman, but it is a true story about American history - another one of my favorite kind of movies. Since the Boston Marathon bombings were only a few years ago, I remember all of it unfolding. I did not, however, know all the stuff going on to find the bombers. I am amazed at what all our government can do in such a short time - and honestly it made me feel safer living in America. We live in a time where there are cameras and technology everywhere and that can all be used to prevent attacks and catch those who already have made attacks. Also, I didn't realize how many American heroes were involved in this story! SO many people ran toward the bombs to help people and not to mention the guy who was carjacked and basically stopped the bombers plans to bomb Time Square in New York next. The movie was just great - we laughed more than we cried watching the movie, which I wasn't expecting but loved it.

While we were on our date, the kids went to see Monster Truck with their Meme Donna and cousin Paxton. They were so excited to go and keep telling me how good the movie was. After we all got back from the movies we all stayed up way past bedtime playing with toys and video games. Saturday was the first lazy day we have had in a long time. The kids and I did not go anywhere (besides the front yard) all day long! We played and cleaned house while Daddy golfed. Then the kids and I decided to give Harry Potter a try. None of us have seen any of them. I thought Noah might like the movies based on some other things he likes and what I had heard about the movies so I found a great deal for all 8 movies  for $14 and got them a few months ago. I didn't realize how long the movies were so we only made it through 2 of them that day. Noah said he liked them, but he had trouble sitting and watching movies that were that long. I thought they were cute too and am interested to see what all else happens in the next 6 movies!

A sweet moment of a tickle fight :)

Sunday was full of fun! We went to church and then Nathan golfed while I babysat my niece Emma while my brother and sister-in-law went to the movies. My kids love having their cousin over to play. After that we were invited over to a football watch party. I don't keep up with the NFL but I like to watch the Super Bowl and I knew the playoffs were going on, but until we were on the way to this party I didn't know who was in the playoffs :) The party was a lot of fun - lots of visiting and party food. The kids literally ran around playing with other kids they had never even met before for about 4 hours!

Monday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day so I was off work and the kids were out of school. I love that this holiday is observed for Dr. King. I love his positive spirit and am proud to celebrate him. The kids and I started our day with breakfast at Cracker Barrel followed by rewatching Moana in the fancy VIP recliners. The kids LOVED the recliners! They thought they were so big and kept saying things like "this is the life" and "finally I can watch a movie comfortably" - so full of it! :) They did however have trouble not constantly moving their seats up and down :) Then it was time to get home and get ready for Noah's basketball game. Noah is still having lots of trouble concentrating at games - part of it is just him and part of it is the gym. There are people walking on the track, another game (with buzzers and whistles and loud fans) going on right beside us, loud fans watching our game - just a lot going on. His team looked good and are starting to get a little better each game.

I have had the last 4 Mondays off so next Monday I may be struggling to go to work!  But before that I get another few days off with the kids to get Ryan a new dress for a dance she has coming up and maybe watch another Harry Potter :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Snow Finally!

Noah and Ryan were so excited that we finally got some snow to play in Friday! We didn't get any in our area last year so Ryan has no memory of every playing in the snow and Noah cried when Spring hit last year and he realized we were not going to get any snow. I was expecting a light dusting or maybe an inch, but we got over 2 inches!

Of course the phone started ringing at 6:00 a.m. with people wanting Nathan to come plow snow so he didn't get to take a snow day with us - but we are thankful for the work even when the weather is bad. Noah got up around 7:30 and I told him to look out the window. He came back to my bed and yelled "Ice Man came!" He was so happy! I told him we would go play in it when Ryan woke up. Of course Ryan slept until 10:00 (she likes her sleep like her Daddy). When Ryan woke up I told her to look out her window and she said "Elsa came!" I love how they both had people they blamed the snow on :)

Ryan didn't even want to eat breakfast before going out to play in the snow! It took me about 20 minutes to get us all bundled up. It wasn't snow man snow or snow ball snow but the kids had a blast in it anyway. I was amazed at Ryan - she flopped right down on her back and made snow angels. I asked her how she knew to do that (since this is her first real snow) and she said "everyone knows how to make snow angels" :) The kids favorite part was cleaning the snow off our cars for some reason - which was fine by me so it wouldn't refreeze on them later. After about 10 minutes their hands were cold and they were done - also fine by me :)

A week earlier I planned a date night for Nathan and I with our friends Eric and Sunny for that night. We wanted to try a new restaurant out (The Old Bank) and watch a movie and try out an Escape Room. I was afraid the winter weather was going to ruin our plans. Luckily, the roads were all clear by the afternoon and we were able to keep our date. Unfortunately we were not able to go to The Old Bank, they closed about 15 minutes before we got there because they were scared the roads were going to get bad again (not sure why, but that is what they said). So, we went to another place we liked, Fat Daddy's BBQ. After dinner and drinks we went to see Why Him and I was so glad it was showing in the VIP recliners - those things are so comfortable! The movie was better than I thought it was going to be - I was afraid they showed all the good parts in the preview - but I laughed until I almost cried on certain parts - it was great! Then it was off to the Hourglass Escape Room. I have heard how fun these are and have really been wanting to give it a try. We chose the Lost escape room. It was a pirate themed room and we had an hour to use clues in the room to find the pirates treasure and unlock it. We had the option to use 3 clues at certain times throughout the hour - none of us wanted to use the clues, but eventually we had to. It was hard but so much fun! The owner (who watches you on a camera while you try to solve it) said we did really well and he couldn't believe how quickly we got some of the numbers. I am ready to go back and do another one!

Saturday we had a birthday party for the daughter of the kids babysitter, Trinity. Her mom is so good at decorating and she had the cutest Descendant's party. After that we decided to have dinner at The Sizzler and have a movie night with the kids at home.

Movie Night
On Sunday, Noah and I went back to the movies to see Sing again with our cousins Talen and Ian. Noah really wanted to see it again so we decided to take them up on their date offer. Ryan didn't want to see it again so she and Daddy had a little lunch date :) Ian and Noah are so much alike and I loved watching them have the same reactions to the different parts of the movie. We spent the rest of our day reading books and playing playstation. 

This was the end of what seemed like a really long Christmas break. We were all ready to get back to our normal routine of basketball practice and games, ballet, school, work, church and whatever else we can squeeze in!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2016 Review and the Start of 2017

Just like that 2016 is gone! 2016 seemed like a crazy year on the national level (celebrity deaths, new president, police shootings, etc.) but here in my world it seemed pretty normal. Not too much crazy, just another year of awesome memories! A few of my favorite memories from 2016 would be Noah learning to read, Ryan looking even more beautiful in glasses, Noah played basketball, Ryan started ballet, our mini-vacations, Noah played t-ball,  Noah was crowned Little Mister Johnson County, lots of time at the movies with my little fellow movie lovers, both kids playing soccer, making new friends I cannot imagine my life without now, and of course Disney World!

We bid goodbye to 2016 in a very low-key way. I cleaned house and put away Christmas decorations while Nathan golfed. That evening we went to our local restaurant and bar and had dinner and taught the kids how to play shuffle board - they were actually pretty good at it and loved playing it. Then we went home and the kids and Nathan played on the Play Station while I cooked food for the party we were having the next day. Nathan fell asleep about 9:30 p.m. and the kids fell asleep around 11:00. Then it was just me at Patrick Swayze ringing in the new year together :)

My brother's birthday is on New Years Day and my grandparents and mom's are in the first week of January so we always have a party for them all on New Years day. This is usually the only party I host at my house. My house is just small and not laid out right to have lots of people in it and I always feels like everyone is on top of eachother at my house when they are there - but they all act like they don't mind (probably because they don't want to host either - ha!). I made my brothers favorite - vegetable squares. We had some sandwiches and black eyed peas of course. Then ice cream cake and banana pudding for the birthday people.

My work observed the new year holiday on Monday the 2nd and it just so happened to rain so I got Nathan to take off work with me and do a little shopping. I used all of our Christmas money on new faucets for all the sinks in the house and cabinet pulls for the kitchen. So, we went and picked out our new faucets and then lunch at our favorite TGI Fridays. Then we went by one of our favorites - Wilkinsons Mall! After that we had to hurry back for basketball practice. We have games starting next week already so we had my dad come over and help teach the kids some plays. I really love that my dad is still around and able to come help with my kids sports - they have no idea what a special coach their grandpa is!