Monday, March 29, 2010

Twinkle Toes, Rainbow Unicorns and Roy Orbison

Maybe these pictures will give a glimpse into the fun we've had around here the past week in Dallas. Even though it was only a week, it seems like a month ago that we drove through sleet and snow from Springdale and arrived at a house filled with more laughter and excitement than we've had in a while. I think Lowery considers her real Spring Break this past week even though she was in school. Anytime her beloved cousins are here, she is happy and in rare form. We had such a great time with the Connor, Calloway, Murphree and Perry crews, here are a few recaps:

The Highs:
- Lowery and Abbi's purchase of matching Skechers Twinkle Toes light up shoes (she counts on her cousins to keep her in style, thanks for the inspiration Isabel and Abbi). And Lowery's inability to walk normally since then because she's trying to light them up. Resembles some horrible form of flamenco dancing. Other inspirations from her cousins? Makeup application (thanks Jansen, see pic above for Lowery's attempt), a Nintendo DS (thanks Abbi) and an I Touch (thanks Chloe). You guys are killing me!
- A ride on a real live rainbow unicorn at her friend Brooke's birthday party. Did you all notice that there was even glitter on the hoofs? (hooves? whatever, I don't know). That poor pony got abused by the girls at the party and the spray paint in its mane. But it was fun to watch!
- A picture perfect day at the Fort Worth zoo with Joshua, Peyton and Chloe. Beautiful weather and the show the lions put on for us (I've never actually heard a lion roar like that) made for an awesome outing.
- The thoughtfulness of our family for Lowery - of Brandi to get her a pink bunny at Target after Lowery had to sadly watch her other cousins pick out prizes with their ticket winnings at Dave and Busters. Lowery didn't even have enough tickets to get a paper umbrella drink. And the thoughtfulness of Sunshine and Chloe to bring Lowery back a flag and princess bracelet from Medieval Times after Lowery had to stay at home and get in bed early for school instead of going with them.
- My Mom and Dad here with me for a few days, my favorite company:)

- 8" of snow here in Texas on the day we were supposed to go to Six Flags and a 2nd year in a row it's ruined Spring Break plans for Lowery's cousins
- Two big fat Fs on a pregnancy tests this past week. Flunked my first sugar test and found out I was anemic (I guess my six month diet of potato soup doesn't do much for the iron levels). At least my Mom was here with me during the dreaded 3-hour long 2nd sugar test. And I passed that one, thank goodness.
- Dad breaking his regular glasses and looking like Roy Orbison the rest of the time he was here because all he had was his prescription sunglasses to see with. Had to wear them inside restaurants. And inside stores. And at night watching TV.
- Ringo's lack of love for all the boys that were here at the house. But he loves the girls!
- I somehow broke my camera at the zoo. Who needs one of those before the birth of a baby anyway? (And I also can't get to the pictures from our time with the Perrys.)
- The quiet here today after having family around for a week.

Anyway, the highs definitely outweighed the lows and we had such a good time with everyone. And for all of you who haven't visited in Dallas you can clearly see that you are missing a good time!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Break Projects

We had such a busy and productive Spring Break in Springdale at the house (right up until we had to leave a day early because of the snow). I use "we" very loosely because it was actually Steve and Jerry and Carla (in-laws) who did much of the work. We couldn't have made it without them, everyone worked so hard. Here's what we got done - sorry I have to make a list, it just makes me feel better to see it all laid out and checked off!

1) Painted artwork on the wall in the nursery. I'm so proud of my husband, it turned out better than I even imagined! I think it totally makes the room and am lucky to have a husband that doubles as an artist!
2) Painted Lowery's new room, walls and ceiling. It took 3 coats because I did bright yellow over brown. Smart, I know.
3) Put up blinds in both Lowery's room and nursery
4) Hung curtains in Lowery's room
5) Painted some wall art for Lowery's room
6) Trimmed back all of the shrubs/plants in beds around the house
7) Laid down new mulch in all beds (30 bags)
8) Had heating system repaired and sprinkler system repaired
9) Cleaned out mud room and pantry
10) Switched closets out between nursery and Lowery's new room

All of that in just five days! It was worth it, the house is ready for Spring and for two little girls later this summer. As I mentioned earlier, Lowery decided at the last minute she wanted to switch rooms and take the room across the hall. We were lucky in that the new crib bedding we chose happened to match Lowery's old pink paint perfectly and even looks like we bought it to go in that room. The snow really put a damper on things - we needed that last day to work! We didn't get to quite finish up things. Lowery's room needs some color and decor, a new light fixture put up, another lamp and her real night stands. Elle's room needs curtains and some more artwork over the dresser and ideally a larger rug. But all in all I'm very happy with how the rooms turned out. All they need are a few giggles from two precious girls and they will change from just empty rooms to the life of the house!

Nursery (top 3) and Lowery's Room (bottom pic):

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Take a Trip Back With Me

All you girls and boys of the 80's, prepare for a trip down memory lane to one of your favorite places when you were growing up. Picture it with me - bright lights flashing in the air, the sweet smells of popcorn, hardwood and mildewy carpets, Chipmunk disco tunes jamming through the air, wind blowing through your hair as you speed around. The call from the DJ announces exciting events such as limbo and couple skate (always a big deal and so romantic, with the Chipmunk songs and all). Know where you are yet?

As soon as we stepped into the skating rink two weeks ago with Lowery for a birthday party, memories of The Skating Palace came roaring back. El Dorado peeps, it was the Skating Palace, right (before it became a hot bed for gang activity)? Anyway, we had SO much fun. I have to admit that I was a little nervous about my 5 year old and skates, recall she did break two bones on a simple cartwheel. It was somewhat painful and she may have suffered a slight concussion, but we sure had a blast. It was hilarious and I think I laughed the entire time we were there. Not sure if it was all of the little kids sprawling like Texas tumbleweeds across the floor, the gutsy Moms who laced up and returned to skating glory or the Chipmunk version of The Climb, but it was a sight to behold. It made me want to buy Lowery her own pair of skates - white ones with pink puff balls on the top and pink stoppers (the ones I never got, thanks a lot Santa) and start the weekly Saturday routine with her. We definitely have some work to do before she's truly ready for her first couple skate under the disco ball, but she made such progress in only two hours while we were there.

Here is the progression:
#1: Grasping the rail in the practice area
#2: Learning with the "walker:
#3: Hanging on to Mom for dear life
#4: Now I got it on my own!

She never got quite up to speed with birthday girl Kaleigh (who rocked some pink Barbie skates by the way), but she is anxious to keep trying. I sure had fun. Steve, who was drenched with sweat from helping Lowery learn and about to divorce me because I blamed him every time she fell, didn't seem to enjoy it near as much as I did. Kidding, he had a blast helping her and we both got great laughs out of the kids. Anyway, couldn't resist sharing our first time on skates. Thanks for a great day, Kaleigh!!

Oh, and Spring Break updates are coming next, including pictures of the nursery. It's 4 in the morning and I'm not thinking straight, I guess that's why I did this update first. Pregnancy and sleepless nights will give me a chance to catch up with blogging, but I can't promise that posts will be in order or make sense!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Through the Room Crisis - Maybe

I think I've managed to wade through the room decor crisis over the past two days. I'm not ready yet to reveal the solution because I'm waiting on bedding, but at least I'm not in a nut house or divorced (which is a major accomplishment at this point). I've had to face my worst fear over the past two days - making decisions ALONE. Steve had to travel to Chicago for work for a day and a half and that left me with my in-laws. My precious, hard-working, non-interfering in laws who refused to bail me out and make decisions for me. They left everything up to me. Without Steve or my Mom, who are experts in getting me through my decision slumps, I was forced to think through things on my own. I did break a sweat a couple of times and my heartburn definitely kicked up, but all in all I made solid decisions - in a somewhat reasonable amount of time. And the solo part is something that I'm pretty proud of.

Now that the man who actually brings my creative dreams (or rather the ideas I rip off from web sites and such) is home, we can finish up things. So far things are looking great. I will hint and say that I have one traditional room and another room that pushes me a LOT. It is way beyond my comfort zone on the color scale and I'm attempting to mix traditional with a little more whimsical/contemporary styles and I'm not sure I'll achieve it. But the past few days have been great, I'm proud that I've proven to myself I can get through things on my own and am excited to pull everything together with my artist husband's help. Thanks to my wonderful in-laws who worked themselves to death while I sat away from paint fumes and just directed them on what to do. I think we've officially made 12 trips to Lowe's in three days (an all-time record) and handled a TON of unexpected obstacles- did I mention that we couldn't find some of the hardware for the crib? Or that we didn't have any tools here? As you can tell I planned really well for our house decorating trip - ha! Maybe it will all come together before we have to leave this weekend. I will be anxious to show the results. At least my "nesting" phase will be complete and this house will be ready for us when we move back!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Curse of Indecision

I am SO indecisive!! Which is a sin, by the way, according to the Word. I need to be repenting, big time. Anyone who has ever attempted to go through a decision making process with me knows how painful this truly is. It wears people thin and gets on even my own nerves. Doesn't matter if it's kitchen cleaner or a bigger decision (like how to decorate Elle's nursery), I can debate, analyze and wring hangs with the best of them. Completely and truly OCD. I think it's my fear that it can "always be better". That's there's another, greater option that I won't choose. That I'll miss the mark and have regret.

So this past week was crunch time, time to finish planning Elle's nursery - a major decision and battle for me. I've been debating between two different bedding options for weeks. Both very cute in their own way. Both a similar theme, the whole "bird" thing that seems to be everywhere right now. Both precious colors - one more traditional and "girly" and one a little more fresh and contemporary. One on SALE, one NOT. Most definitely NOT. What should the nursery be?? (Sidebar - I'm going to quit saying nursery. It's a lovely word but makes one envision this grand, large room, filled with sunlight, organized toys, a beautiful crib with custom made bedding and even Mary Poppins. This will be a plain and simple baby's room. A crib, a couple of pieces of furniture that were mine when I was little - it was the 70's I'll remind you - and a rocker that's an ugly yellow.) The trick was finding bedding that worked with all of these "prerequisites" already inherited for the baby's room. After hours of agony and the trip to Springdale closing in I made my choice on Friday.

Indecisiveness conquered, on with the plan. Crib bedding is in hand, paint chips and samples gathered and we are now here in Springdale ready to go. Then Lowery comes in today and says, "I've decided I want the new room, to move across the hall and give Elle my old room." WHAT?Here I go again; a vicious, vicious cycle. Now I have some crib bedding that was bought to go with yellow/green furniture, Lowery's current room with light pink walls and of course the ugly yellow rocker. Too many options, so many combinations on how to use furniture, what to switch around, what to do. I had a plan. I had won. That's over, my worst nightmare has begun. So how am I going to pull it all together?? I have no EARTHLY idea. But I only have 5 days and a limited budget to figure it out. Stay tuned for pictures and updates....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Transportation Day

One year ago this week, Steve and I were visiting Dallas and contemplating a move. We visited Prestonwood Christian Academy for a tour and to get information and fell in love with the school. We knew immediately it is where God wanted Lowery to be while we were here. One of the reasons we loved the school is because when we visited it was "transportation day" for kindergarten. All of the little kids had these little cardboard cars, cruising around a little town set up at the school complete with a post office, bank, chick-fil-a, car wash and even its very own railroad.

Well today was Lowery's very own transportation day and it was so much fun!! Lowery decided to model her car after an easter egg to remember Easter. Steve and I helped her paint the box pink and put her "straps" on, but all of the other decor was all her and was done at school. All of the kids were so proud and had such a great time taking their "cars" for a spin around the town. After their trip around town they even got Chick-fil-a for lunch. We are so proud of Lowery and are so sad that if we move back to Arkansas we will have to leave PCA. What an amazing time we have had at this school!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What a difference 6 years makes

6 years ago when I was pregnant with Lowery I LOVED every minute of it. That constant reminder throughout my day when she moved that there was life growing inside of me. I missed that feeling after she was born, our secret little times together where she would kick and no one else would know. Everyone around me was going about the normal lives - but I had this precious little baby that was all mine. I had never experienced heartburn, I was blissfully unaware of the dangers of high blood pressure and just loved being pregnant.

Fast forward 6 years and how different things are. Still as thankful and in awe of the miracle of life. Less enthused about the swift kicks to my bladder (sorry if any guys are reading this). The heartburn that I swear will send me to my grave, my hips creaking like my 93 year old grandmother, the fatigue that I can't quite overcome most days, and the medicine I have to take every day now that I am very aware of blood pressure concerns. It's so different, these pregnancies. It's odd - in the first one, my life was literally in danger and I was critically ill and I really didn't even know it. Yet I felt fine. But on this one, my health is great, everything is in check and going beautifully. Yet I feel like I'm on my deathbed.

So, if you want my opinion (most of you don't but I'll give it anyway), having a baby at age 34 is FOR THE BIRDS. All of these women in your 40's, having great pregnancies and loving life, I admire you. I'm simply not cut out for it. I know God's timing is perfect and I wouldn't have things any other way, but I am praying for him to get me through these next 14 weeks. I don't want to complain because I'm so thankful for this girl, but taking torture on a daily basis is something that's hard to keep quiet about. On the positive side, the technology advancements are amazing and we have enjoyed being able to see Elle clearly and more frequently than we were able to with Lowery.

One thing that's definitely the same though - the love I have for this baby. I look at Lowery's little face and I don't know how my heart will hold more love - but it already does. A couple of weeks ago we got to see our new little girl's face pretty clearly. And her precious hands, feet and whole body. Yes, she's still a little skinny, but I think she's adorable. Here's to the sweetheart that's making my life pretty miserable these days, but whom I already love more than words can say. When I hold her it will be worth it all! Take a look at these 3-D pics!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

An Evening with George W.

Steve and I had an amazing opportunity to attend an event last weekend that will probably top my list of Texas memories during our stay here. The event was a benefit for the Prestonwood Pregnancy Center and the key note speaker was George W. Bush. The pregnancy center is a place that has become very close to my heart since I began volunteering there last fall. I have wanted to do a post about it for a while, but I have hesitated and I'm not sure I can even articulate why. I think it's because it's impacted me in such a way that I find it hard to express the experiences I've had there, and it's so close to my heart that it almost feels private - an odd situation where it changes your life but it's not something you shout from the rooftops but rather savor on the inside in a place deep in your heart. I think what I will say is this: why is it that when you begin helping people in need it opens floodgates on your heart and you begin to feel it's never enough? That what you're doing - although it's more than you ever did before when you were doing nothing - can't possibly make a strong enough impact, can't make a dent in the need that is there? When you sit in your comfortable home, in your comfortable life, you don't have to face the groaning needs of those that are right there by you. Sometimes five feet, sometimes five miles away from you. You go on with your life and focus on what you need to do for your family, which is a full time job in itself. But the minute you open your eyes to the need, to the pain, it becomes overwhelmingly clear that they need so much more. More than one person, more than my one 30 minute experience with them, more than my measly one day of volunteering. I've met women courageous in the face of circumstances I can't dream of in my worst nightmares. I've seen women hanging on by a very thin thread, and our help is the only thing keeping them from dropping off. I've FELT the burden of those women who made a decision to end a baby's life and those who have opted to save it. All I can say is that I want to keep feeling this way - that I need to do more, that I'm failing if I don't. And the center is doing that for me - and I encourage everyone to get involved somehow in your community where needs are being met. We don't have to go around the world to share the love of Christ - there are plenty of those who need it and who live in our own backyards. Find a local crisis pregnancy center and get involved - you won't regret it!

Now, all that said - I did mention a former President, didn't I? This event was amazing because of hearing President Bush speak and also because of all of these people that came together for the pregnancy center. It warmed my heart to hear a man of power encourage me and remind me that I am making a difference, that everyone in this country deserves life, and to see community members give freely of their time and money to make the center a success. The former President was very different than what Steve and I expected. In fact, we weren't sure what we were in for - a Will Farrell skit or a formal speech from the more reserved President side of him. What we got was way different, and we now understand why Texans love him so much. He was so candid, so open, so inspiring and VERY funny. I'm not sure why all of America didn't get to see this side of him during the Presidency, the process of our political machine I guess. But he was amazing - from his open assessment of other world leaders (Putin stories were particularly good), his easy admittance of his own faults (drinking problem and his comment that had he known he would run for President he'd behaved better in college), to his clear passion for everyone's right for freedom, he captivated us and I honestly didn't want it to end. I so much enjoyed hearing him tell of his first thoughts after the news of 9/11 and how he felt, his interests now that the Presidency is over and his future plans - and not have to read a skewed report from the media. After the President spoke and answered some questions, Governor Perry also spoke and Steve and I then realized that we were at an old-fashioned Texas political rally - and we loved being Texans more than ever!

It was an amazing night for something I love and a very interesting leader that I am so thankful I got to see in person. One last thing - if you are someone who prays for our government, please do not stop or let up. One of the things he said that impacted me the most is how desperate he became for prayer. Prayer from strangers, from Americans, from others around the world. That, as a man, he couldn't possibly bear the burden placed on his shoulders with all of his imperfections. But that prayer sustained him, kept him alive and kept him sane. No matter our political viewpoints or our thoughts on who is in the White House, there IS a man living there who makes decisions that affect all of us on a daily basis. Our national, state and local governments need our prayers. They are humans who are imperfect. But our God is not, and He is always truly in control.

So don't buy into Will Farrell and the media's portrayal of this man (yes, I myself have made my share of "strategery" comments). He's much more shrewd, charismatic and charming that you'd ever imagine and deserves a lot more credit than most Americans give him at this point. By the way, sorry I don't have any pictures to share, they weren't allowed (something this pregnant lady is thankful for). MANY thanks to our friends the Chambers for an amazing night. And from someone who works in the center and knows firsthand the real needs that are there and that are being met, thanks to all of you who were a part of that night.