Sunday, November 11, 2012

Election Day 2012

(This won't be a political post at all, just how the day went for me.)

It's been several years since I've actually voted in person for any type of election. I've had to use an absentee ballot since 2000 so it was slightly strange to drive up to my polling place (at Brenden's school, which made it rather simple, except for parking) and wait in line to cast my vote. I also had to drag poor Lauren along with me and I admit I was not sure how well she would tolerate standing in line, not driving everyone crazy and staying relatively quiet.

My day was full of surprises!

Parking really was insane, which just meant that a lot of people were out voting so complaining about that seems silly. We eventually found a spot, trekked back to the correct building, and started the 45 minute wait. Lauren happily stood next to me, singing some of her favorite songs, chatting with two ladies in front of us, and greeting anyone that made eye contact with her. After about 20 minutes she told me she had to use the bathroom and when I asked her to wait she said, "Okay." I was pretty sure she really didn't need to go and was just bored in line so I wasn't really worried about her.

We finally made it to the front of the line, picked up my ballot and the all important "I Voted" sticker, and headed to a voting booth. Lauren found a little boy next to us and entertained him by counting her fingers  and pointing out where her eyes and forehead were located. His dad started laughing and could barely concentrate. Oops! She was so happy and well behaved that I was completely caught off guard when she started crying after I finished. She wanted to vote, too and was not convinced when I explained she had to be 18. Thankfully, she got over it pretty quickly.

On the way out the door she spotted a bathroom and started running. I had completely forgotten she had mentioned it! My big girl was dry! After months of arguing, tantrums, accidents, pleading, bribing, and banging my head against the wall, this was a HUGE achievement  You better believe that girl got lots of M&Ms when we got home!

That afternoon I picked Brenden up and was happy to see that there was still a line to vote. Brenden asked what was happening and when I started to explain he got upset. "I wanna vote!!!! Wahhhh!!!" Of course, Lauren chimed in. "I wanna vote TOO! WAHH!!" I love that they are so passionate about wanting to be included, but my goodness my ears almost started bleeding! They eventually calmed down when I offered to make them their own special ballots at home.

Power Rangers/Ninjago
They voted!

The votes were split between Romney/Obama and Power Rangers/Ninjago, but pizza and summer won the night! I hope they are always this excited about the privilege of voting...and those simple stickers. :)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tulsa State Fair 2012

This year we were lucky enough to have a chance to go to the fair twice. The first time Connie, my mom and I took the kids and the second time Connie, Mike, Tim and I took the kids. To say we had a good time would be a huge understatement.

She looks unhappy. I promise, she wasn't. :)

(Just a random hint: Use Paid Parking. It's annoying to have to pay to get good parking, but it's worth it!)

I knew the kids would be excited about the rides so we had to do those first. We had to split up for a bit since Brenden was tall enough to go on some of the bigger rides but it worked out well with 2 grandmas helping. We finally convinced them to eat and somehow we found the cheapest corn dogs and snagged a table. We struck up a conversation with the lady sitting at the table and it turned out she was working one of the booths at the fair...a toy booth. So of course we had to go see her and let the kids pick out 2 of the  loudest, brightest laser guns. They went zombie and vampire hunting when we got home. I need to work on my zombie/vampire drawing skills!

Great memories from this trip:

  • Brenden convinced his grandma Ginger to ride the big roller coaster with him. (His first big roller coaster!) He had a BLAST! My mom told his he wasn't allowed to cry or get sick because that would make her cry or get sick, so he ran off yelling, "I didn't cry! I didn't get sick! LETS DO IT AGAIN!"
  • Lauren went on her own, smaller version, of a big roller coaster with grandma Connie. She also had a fantastic time and wanted to go again. I'm raising dare devils!

  • The Humane Society has veterinarians spaying dogs right next to the adorable baby pigs. I would have never stopped to watch this, or expected anyone else in our family to want to, either. Brenden sat down right at the beginning and was mesmerized for almost the entire time. Eventually he got bored (I think it was right about the time they started the sutures) but before we left that building he wanted to check on the dog. After he was sure she was okay he told us, "I want to cut dogs in half when I grow up!" I know a good school for that! (Go Pokes!)
  • While Brenden was keeping watch over the dog, Lauren, Connie and I went to check out the chickens. There are some funny looking birds out there! I don't know how some of them can see. They were actually packing the birds up and one lady offered to let Lauren pet a chicken. This is what happened instead: 

The second trip was just as fun, although it was filled with a lot more tears. I guess the kids saved their frustration for their dad and grandpa. Ha! We rode rides, ate more cheap corn dogs and cheese on a stick, and finally had a chance to walk through the buildings. No Ginsu knives this year! Maybe next year, Connie? :) 

Great memories from this trip:
  • Brenden convinced his grandma Connie to go on the big roller coaster this time. He ran off yelling the same thing, "I didn't cry! I didn't get sick! I WANT TO GO AGAIN!"
I feel a tradition starting. :)
  • Lauren decided that grandpa Mike was the lucky one to go on her roller coaster and again, she had a blast. 

  • We passed the trampolines where the kids are strapped in and can jump super high. Brenden was desperate to go and squealed so loud when grandma said okay. He tried his hardest to flip over but never quite made it. He sure got up there, though!
  • He also flirted hard core with a little girl behind him in line. He shook her hand, picked up her ticket for her, and told her he liked her shirt. Yep...just like his dad was when I met him! :)
  • As we were leaving the Expo Center we heard some music. Anytime Lauren hears music she wants to dance, and this was definitely music with a drum beat. We walked over to the stage and saw there was a Native American dancing demonstration. Lauren desperately wanted to dance with them and, to our surprise, one of the dances was an audience participation dance. I never expected one of the guys to walk over to us, with all the bells and feathers and fancy clothes, and ask Lauren to dance. She did the entire thing! All the way around the room, down the aisle and back around again. It was so cute!

  • Brenden begged, again, for a toy that "wasn't too expensive." (These kids!) He happened to pass a couple of kids holding an "arrow bow" (or, you know, a bow and arrow) and Connie found out where they were located. They only had one left so we had to find something else for Lauren. At first she picked out a very expensive Horse Jack-in-the-Box, which was a definite no go. We tried to convince her to pick out something cute, like a stuffed animal or a purse. What does my daughter decide she loves? A pink pig with football laces on it's back (pigskin?) that makes one very annoying BOOOIIINNNGGG sound. That pig has gone everywhere with her since! 

Next year we won't be able to get away with just buying tickets. We're already trying to decide if we should do the mega ride pass or just get a wristband. Budgeting for the fair? I guess so!

Worth it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Happy FIFTH Birthday, Brenden!

My wonderful Brenden,

For the past five years I've sat down to write these letters and tried my best to capture the awesomeness of you over the past year. How you've grown, what you've learned, what really makes you special.

This year I'm pretty sure I don't have the words to really do that. You have grown so much, learned so much and there is just so much that makes you special that I'm sure to leave something out.

You completed another year of preschool at Kids Kare and started Pre-K at Jenks West. The first few weeks of all day school were rough (anxiety about dams? Where did that come from?) but you've really gotten into the groove and enjoy your teachers and all of your new best friends.

You've had a blast playing t-ball and showed us that you have a natural swing. (That must have come from your dad.) We also learned that you do NOT like soccer, which is okay since I don't get that "off sides" stuff anyway.

In just a year you've learned how to spell your name and write it with both upper and lower letters. You're also learning to read, which is such a cool thing to watch. The look on your face when you figure something out is priceless. I hope that you always love learning that much.

Instead of Thomas and Diego your into Power Rangers Samurai, Ninjago, Beyblades, Batman, Spiderman and Scooby Doo. Your love of the color blue is just as strong as ever, which makes it pretty easy to pick out things for you.

You're becoming a very good big brother (although of course you have your moments). As I'm typing you're showing Lauren how to use your much wanted web shooter and being very patient when she doesn't understand how to use it. You love your little sister, even if she drives you nuts sometimes, and she adores you. She cries every morning we drop you off at school. "I want Brenden! I want my brudder!" I hope that you are always that close.

Every day you say something to make me laugh. Just yesterday you had a weird look on your face and when I asked what was wrong you told me you had "issues". What do you consider "issues"? Sneezing, coughing and hiccups. It's difficult to keep a straight face sometimes.

It only takes a second (literally) for someone to become your "best friend". You're so outgoing and can't understand when someone else isn't. (We'll work on that.) You're always the first to introduce yourself, with Lauren right behind you. I have never met two more friendly kids.

I didn't think it was possible to love you more than I already did, but I do, everyday. Every night I say my prayers with you and thank God that he let me be your mom, and I am so so thankful to have you in my life.

I love you my crazy boy.

Love Always,


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First Days

It's been a few weeks since Brenden's first day of pre-k, but today was Lauren's very first day at her new preschool. I knew she was excited to go because she cried every time we dropped Brenden off and begged to go see "her school".

It's crazy to see the difference from last year to this year. Brenden was excited about school and really enjoys it, but has had some strange anxieties pop up that we've had to deal with. I'm not sure what triggered it exactly, but he was suddenly terrified of dams and the earth flooding. (i.e. Hoover Dam) He refused to get in the car if the garage door was open and stood next to his teacher during recess because he was so scared. We had a long chat about not living near dams, what he could do to not be so scared (pray, think about rainbows) and read about Noah and the Ark and how God promised never to flood the earth again. It took a few weeks but he's finally past it. I was really worried about him!

Now, he's absolutely thriving. He has friends, loves his teachers (Who he said were "really smart but kind of weird." Huh???) and is enjoying having homework! I even had a mom come up to me at Back to School night and tell me that Brenden helped her son on his first day of school, which was 2 days after the official first day of school. Brenden ran up to him, introduced himself and decided that the new boy was his "best friend!" His mom said she was able to leave much earlier than she expected and it was all because Brenden helped his new friend feel comfortable. *proud mommy moment!*

Lauren's very first day last year began with screaming, as did many of her drop offs for months after that, but I was sure this year would be a little better. Can you say "total opposite"? Not only did she happily pose for me with her new backpack, but she practically skipped into class and promptly forgot that I was there. I had to go up to her to tell her goodbye and she didn't even glance up from playing. I hope the rest of her day went as smoothly!

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with myself on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with both kids in school. Tim's guess was "lots of crafting" and he may be right! I'm hoping I can be a little more productive than that.

I have to find SOMETHING to do to keep myself from worrying about my babies! Any suggestions?

Preschool, Year 2!

What a difference from last year!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Happy Birthday, Bre!!!

Sometimes you meet someone who you just KNOW was meant to be in your life. It's almost as though you've known each other your souls were friends in heaven and finally found each other on earth. That person understands you better than anyone you've ever met and accepts you for all of your faults and loves you anyway.

I was so blessed to meet Bre over 2 years ago. I'm glad our souls found each other.

Happy Birthday, Bre! I LOVE YOU!!!

We ALL love you! :)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Good Neighbors, Super Dance Teacher, and Peach Wine

As anyone that follows me on Facebook knows (because I sure complained about it enough, huh?) Tim was in Missouri for 2 weeks. It was for a class that he has to take to be eligible for promotion to Major next year and he did fantastic. (One of his instructors called him "outstanding" and actually wrote that he was "easily one of the brightest students during this cycle." Great job, Tim!) I knew it would be tough by myself with the kids just getting back from a long vacation in Colorado, which was awesome for everyone, and dealing with all of the back to school madness. I just didn't realize exactly how crazy it would start out.

My friend Shelly was staying with us for a bit and around midnight we said goodnight and I headed to bed. Right after I plugged my phone in to charge it started ringing, which never happens that late at night. The caller i.d. showed that it was the gate, which we have call my phone so we can let people in even if we aren't at home. There was no way I was going to let someone in and I didn't even answer to find out who it was.

I double checked with Shelly to make sure that she wasn't expecting anyone and then decided to go out back and look to see if anyone was at the gate. Standing on the chair I can get a decent view. I never even made it out the door before I realized something was wrong. A wall of smoke smacked me in the face and made my eyes water. I could hear the crackling of the fire so I knew it was close. That was the same time that the horrible fire in Mannford was causing so much damage and I knew how dangerous the conditions were. I looked to my left and realized that it was right outside of our neighborhood in a field. It was already tall enough that I could see it over the houses.

I'm embarrassed to say I froze. I had no idea what to do. Thank goodness Shelly was here. I asked her to come outside to see if I should be concerned. She barely glanced at it and then said, "Call 911" and ran out of the house to start banging on my neighbors' doors to warn them.

For the first time in my life I dialed 911. The responder assured me that they were aware of it and that the fire department was on its way. I ran out to start banging on doors as well.

I'm pretty sure we scared several of my neighbors to death. It's not exactly common to have two crazy chicks in pajamas running around and screaming about a fire. Once they realized what was going on I think they forgave us. The people in the house closest to the fire (it was only about 20 yards from their fence) started packing their kids and pets in the car. Shelly helped them spray their fence and they turned their sprinklers on. The embers were falling everywhere and the ash was smacking us in the face. We even had an ember land in our yard that our neighbor put out. (Thanks, Tim!)

Standing in front of our house. Scary!
Ash the next morning all over our yard.

Eventually we had woken up everyone we could and watched while the fire department got it under control, which only took about 30 minutes. We also found out that the person who called me from the gate was a neighbor across the street in a different neighborhood who had seen the fire when he put his dog outside and ran over to wake everyone up. We thanked him profusely and he laughed and thanked us back for not being afraid of the "crazy shoe-less man running around like crazy with his shirtless friend with a tattoo sleeve." :)

Once we knew that everything was okay we decided to crack open a bottle of peach wine and rehash the madness of the past hour. What was terrifying in the moment was absolutely hilarious afterwards. Of course it may just have been the adrenaline that was still pounding through our brains. "Super Dance Teacher to the rescue! With her trusty sidekick, Tonto!" Oh Shelly...I'm so glad I didn't have to do this alone. :)

Thank you nice neighbors! Thank you Jenks Fire Department! Thank you Shelly and peach wine! I hope I don't have to go through that ever again.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Where I've Been

As many of my avid readers have mentioned to me (which includes my mom, Tim's mom, maybe Tim...and that's about it. Ha!) I have not posted since Father's Day. Why? Here's a list of reasons, with (several) accompanying pictures, to explain:

1. The Lake

We haven't been able to go to the lake as much as I would have liked, but the times we have gone have been awesome. Lauren and Brenden both love the jet skis and Brenden has become so brave when it comes to jumping off of the boat into the water. He can dive, flip, cannon ball, and otherwise cause lots of splashing. The difference from last summer is amazing.

Cool Dude

2. Baby Gazing

My beautiful friend Bre had her gorgeous daughter Brynja (pronounced Brin-ya) on June 25th and we've all been pretty smitten with her. Hard not to be! She's such a sweet baby and just so dang cute!

Meeting my beautiful Brynja, less than an hour old.
Checking out her fingers and toes. 
"She's so cute! Want to hold her!"

3. Branson

For Father's Day, Karen and her brother and sister took their dad, Ralph, to Branson. He had no idea where they were going or what they would be doing, so we decided to add a few more surprises. The kids didn't know where we were going, either so when they walked in to see their grandma they were overjoyed! They also got to meet their Aunt Brenda and Uncle Phil (he had no idea we were coming, either!) and we spent a super fun 2 days being totally spoiled. 

Grandma's Happy Kiddos
Reading with Aunt Brenda
Checking out the fountain at Branson Landing with Great Grandpa
Head butts with Uncle Phil
4. New Car

On our way to the airport in Branson to drop off Karen, Ralph and Phil, our trusty Expedition decided to stop. Many hours, no naps, a ride in a police car, and a dead cell phone later I was told that the car was done. The engine had seized and there was nothing to do except replace the engine or get another car. Obviously we decided to go with a new (to us) car. It was a stressful 2 days, but it worked out.

I know, I know...a RED car. We made sure to slap an OSU sticker on ASAP. :)

5. Staying Cool

We had the chance to go to a Driller's game and the kids had a great time. Not that we watched much baseball. 

This splash pad is all slick tiles and sharp edges. Tim decided that it is the worst designed splash pad he's ever seen. I completely agree. The kids did not care one bit.

6. Colorado Vacation

Karen and Rick were super excited to have the kids come stay with them for 10 days. I met Karen in the middle (Hays, KS) and bawled as they drove off to have a ridiculously awesome time. Every day was a new adventure, from amusement parks to splash pads to trips to Toys-R-Us. They were happy to see me, but very sad to see their grandma and grandpa go. Luckily we should see them again soon!

7. Cleaning up Lauren's Messes

Not long after Father's Day I started potty training Lauren. If you've ever been through this then you understand why I've been MIA. If you haven't, I'm jealous. Between laundry, cleaning the floors, cleaning the bathroom, cleaning the chairs,'s been mostly a haze. She hasn't been very cooperative and there have been many times I just wanted to give up. If something isn't her idea she refuses to do it, throwing one major fit after another. (can you say "black eye" from headbutting? Sigh...) And if that weren't bad enough, she's also going through some strange anxiety phase and refuses to nap. Instead, she tears apart her room, which has led me to remove EVERYTHING, from her toys to her clothes. Some days are okay, some days are downright awful, but we'll get there.

THIS TOO SHALL PASS. And now I have a ton of embarrassing stories to tell in front of her friends, boyfriends, and at her wedding. Hey...I have to think of the positives, right?

That's every piece of clothing she could reach. As well as some toys and shoes.
They used to be attached. She yanked them off.
And left some marks.
But she'll nap in the car! Grrr...
And now Brenden wants in on the action. As long as they aren't fighting, right?

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