A spring break trip to Texas

March turned out to be a busy month with us spending a week in Texas visiting Mimi & Popaw.  Before we left, however, we managed to get in school and find ways to entertain ourselves when it was too cold to play outside.  This is a “game” they came up with on their own.  (Don’t worry…. Momma hid the “ammo”.)

Keeping it "gangster"

Keeping it “gangster”

We have discovered LOTS of advantages of homeschooling, one of which is that we can do school literally anywhere… like Starbucks!  By March we were starting to find our “groove” with our schoolwork, and it was nice to see Liam’s smile return.  During the first half of first grade, he lost that “spark”.  Learning became about frustration, not about fun.  He lost confidence in himself.

For spring break, we traveled to Texas to see Mimi and Popaw for a much-needed break from housework and homework!

Liam has started to show a lot of interest in who his great-grandparents were and the history of our family.  Time to pull out the old scrapbooks!  Popaw even pulled out pictures and more from his days as a professional race car driver.  (Why, yes!  I came by my driving abilities naturally!  Haha!)

Not too shabby, huh?

Not too shabby, huh?

 

I love visiting some of the local stores in Eastland and Comanche when I get a chance.  As they say, “Junk makes her soul happy“.

Priceless antique?

Priceless antique?

Our trip to Texas gave each of us some much-needed down time to unwind and just do nothing.  For Rocky and Gracie, it meant lots of snuggles and belly rubs.  Turns out they love it when the boys visit!

Someone's tired!

Someone’s tired!

Mimi took us for a little retail therapy, and as usual, she made sure the boys had some new clothes and shoes for spring.  When it was time to pack up the car and head home to Texas, there was no room to spare in the car.  It reminded me of the days when I would return to Texas Tech after a visit home.

With Liam no longer in public school, my days of having some time to clean and organize the house without a helper (distraction) are gone.  It’s not often that I get a chance to reorganize a cabinet, but when I do, it makes me happy to pull out my trusty label-maker and have at least one small little part of my life organized and alphabetized while the rest of it is messy and topsy-turvy.

They found the hidden pacifiers I forgot about.

They found the hidden pacifiers I forgot about.

Cullen has his own system when digging through drawers and cabinets: to find something he’s not supposed to have and make a mess with it.  Such as Desitin!!!  Unfortunately, I did not get a pic of what he looked like when we discovered him covered in Desitin but let’s just say it was VERY MESSY.  He’s watched his brother style his hair with hair gel, so Cullen decided to do it too when no one was looking.  Only he grabbed the Desitin instead of the hair gel.  I didn’t think we would ever get it all out of his hair, and we still have a spot on the wall in the bathroom where it took off some of the paint.  But, boy…. was he sure proud of himself!

We love getting to visit one of the special families from our church.  One of the brothers has a cow that he has leash-trained, and the cow will even let kids ride on him.

Giddy up??

Giddy up??

I got to put on my “artist hat” and make some new signage for our church.  A team of us ladies accessorized the Welcome Center and coffee bar.  We also added some new directional signage to help visitors find their way around.  For me, it was just nice to finally put some of my Pinterest discoveries to good use.  😉

Don’t let Grumpy’s expression fool you.  The Easter Bunny visited our house, and both of the boys loved their Easter baskets full of goodies.  No pictures of an outdoor egg hunt though.  It was a cold, rainy Easter morning in Green Country.  Thankfully, the Easter Bunny was able to hide eggs throughout the house.

 

This is what a happy boy with new sneakers looks like:

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Roll out, Transformers! Liam’s 7th Birthday Party

Time flies when you’re having fun, as they say, and it was fun looking back at images of Liam from those newborn days through his seventh birthday which we celebrated in February!

~ Liam ~

 

At seven, Liam is all about Transformers…. especially Bumblebee (guess he takes after his Popaw with the Camaro attraction)!

We met up with some of his closest buds at a nearby bowling alley for some games and cake!

The birthday boy 🙂

 

Cullen had a blast!

 

Miles & Liam

 

Liam & Corey

 

Liam, Kevin & Xavier

 

Happy birthday, Liam!

 

Yum! Frosting!

 

Grandma & Mimi

 

Thankful for all the grands!

 

 

At the end of the birthday celebrations…. when everyone has gone home, presents have been opened and Mom & Dad are exhausted….. what do you do?!?!  You strip off the kids’ clothes and let ’em at the cake!

To say that Cullen LOVES frosting is a huge understatement.

To say that Cullen LOVES frosting is a huge understatement.

This kiddo had an awesome birthday!  So thankful for our first seven years with him!

This kiddo had an awesome birthday! So thankful for our first seven years with him!

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Time marches on

Wow.  How did the first half of 2016 fly by so quickly?  Between homeschooling, housekeeping and “momming”, I felt like I could hardly catch my breath.  I kept meaning to update the blog with new pictures but it just didn’t happen.  Learning to re-prioritize my priorities has probably been the biggest lesson I’ve learned now that I’m in my forties.  It’s funny how life’s experiences change you without you really realizing it.  I used to be a sympathetic puker.  If anyone around me made the slightest gagging sound, I would throw up.  Being a mom toughens you up, whether you like it or not.  I’ve been puked on twice in the past few months and it doesn’t phase me now (thankfully).  And those days of making a plan and sticking to it come hell or high water?  Well, those days are gone too.  I first had to learn about being more flexible when I left my job to be a full-time mom.  My day was no longer predictable.  By the time I got to drink my coffee, I was lucky if it was still hot.  Now that I’m homeschooling, plans are great but I’ve learned to accept that some days we might only accomplish one or two things on my “plan” and if it’s 5:00 PM and I’m still in PJ’s with no make-up on, well…. that’s okay too.  Unless I have to go to Walmart.  I haven’t reached that point in my life where I can comfortably wear my PJ’s to Walmart, and let’s just say if I ever do, someone please smack some sense into me.

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Homeschooling got off to a good start.  For a few days.  And then we quickly spiraled into the depths of purgatory where it’s a toss up over who cried the most each day – Liam or me.  It was awful.  It was painful.  It was eye-opening.  We know Liam has Sensory Processing Disorder; he was diagnosed with that back in 2014 following a year of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy.  In the first few weeks of homeschooling it became clear to me that there was more going on.  Some kids have layers like an onion.  You peel back the first layer, after identifying it as SPD only to realize there’s another layer there – for us, it was legal blindness in one eye that is “lazy”.  Years later, we’ve corrected the lazy eye to within ten degrees and he’s wearing bifocal contacts seeing much better.  But there was another layer underneath that we had not identified.  Fast-forward eight months, and here we are in September.  Liam started second grade homeschool last month, and it’s so much better for both of us.  We’ve added in counseling and professional tutoring.  We’ve also received the formal diagnosis of ADHD and Oppositional Defiance Disorder.  I don’t believe in letting a label like SPD/ADHD/ODD define a kid, but for our family we had to know what we are dealing with so that we could seek out the best professionals, resources and techniques to get us through the struggles so that we can have more good days than bad.

Before filling you in on what we’re up to this fall, I’ll catch you up on things that happened throughout the first part of 2016!  (This will take several posts – we were super, duper busy!)

 

Getting in some school work!

Getting in some school work!

 

Who doesn't need a Cookie Monster donut every now and then??

Who doesn’t need a Cookie Monster donut every now and then??

At the Tulsa Children's Museum Discovery Lab, the kids get to enjoy a rotating interactive exhibit.

At the Tulsa Children’s Museum Discovery Lab, the kids get to enjoy a rotating interactive exhibit.

Balls + Dinosaurs = Happy Toddlers

The highlight of our visits to the Discovery Lab is the giant slide made out of plastic.  It's HUGE and so much fun!!

The giant plastic slide is AWESOME!!

Liam began taekwondo in February.  Not only is it a lot of fun, but it's good for his muscles and for learning self-control and discipline.  He has an awesome coach.

Guess who started taekwondo in February!

Candy!  Cullen had a happy Valentine's Day.

Candy! Cullen had a happy Valentine’s Day.

Liam and I enjoy celebrating little milestones in his homeschooling.

Celebrating a homeschool achievement.  🙂

The boys love sitting in their camo recliners and watching a special movie.  They really enjoy the original Lone Ranger.

A little down time with the original Lone Ranger.

Liam turned seven in February and was excited to get the Bumblebee Transformer he had been wanting for a long time.

A special Bumblebee Transformer for Liam’s 7th birthday!

We have a special 4-legged friend at our nearby Ace Hardware store.  One of Liam's special birthday treats was to stop by and play with Aspen.

Aspen, our special friend at the nearby Ace Hardware 🙂

A special dinner at his favorite Mexican restaurant was the perfect end to his birthday.

A special dinner at his favorite Mexican restaurant was the perfect end to his birthday.

 

Stay tuned!!!

 

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When life throws you curve balls

Curveballs.  Lemons.  Jeff and I have had a “few” of those since our marriage in 2004.  But that’s life, isn’t it?

During my pregnancy with Cullen in late 2012, Jeff learned that the job he had at Lockheed Martin was in danger of being cut.  It wasn’t imminent, but it was coming so he began putting out feelers around DFW for other job opportunities.  He had such a unique position at Lockheed that we soon discovered would be hard to find elsewhere – at least not in North Texas which would allow us to continue living in Arlington.  In early-2014 a job opportunity out of Tulsa came available.  Everything seemed to click seamlessly, and the wheels were put in motion for our family to leave our Arlington home behind for a new beginning in Oklahoma.  I left behind my job as Director of Interior Design for a healthcare architecture firm, not to mention our family and friends back in Texas.  The first few months were spent at his parents’ while we waited for the house to sell, and we began exploring new cities and towns around the area of Oklahoma called Green Country.  Again, it was like God directing us to our little farmhouse in Skiatook – everything moved along relatively smoothly and here we are well over a year later still building our life in our new home among new friends, our new church and this community.

Suddenly, I was a full-time wife and mom.  In Oklahoma.  What?!?!  While Jeff and I had began having thoughts of me becoming a full-time mom, it seemed to happen pretty quickly.  So, I rolled with it putting my trust and faith in God, and I honestly have never looked back.  My kids need me.  When they’re sick, they need me.  When Liam was in kindergarten, he needed me to drop him off each morning telling him to have a great day, and when he got out of school, he needed me to pick him up and ask all about school.  Cullen has really blossomed into a funny, loving, precocious toddler who is soon to be three.

Most importantly (at least in my mind) are Liam’s needs regarding his Sensory Processing Disorder and what was legal blindness at one point.  He needed a parent who could take him to and from physical therapy, occupational therapy and vision therapy.  And let me tell you, it’s felt like a full-time job being chauffeur!

I have a confession to make though.  Sometimes I wonder how much better Liam could be doing now if I hadn’t been working all of those hours back in Arlington.  Would I have discovered his issues sooner, making it easier for him to correct the vision problems and address the PT/OT issues?  He’s a great kid – please, don’t get me wrong – but we have struggles, and I can’t help but look at Cullen and how he freely hugs me and shows affection, and I wonder if Liam could have been that way too if I had been devoting my time and attention to him rather than my job.  I know what they say about Mommy Guilt Trips, and I try not to let these doubts and thoughts creep up very often.  Still though…. if Liam had spent most of his time with me rather than at a day care, where would he be today socially, physically, mentally and emotionally?

I realize it’s been a while since y’all in blog-land have seen the boys. They’re shaving nowaways.

I’ve had curve balls before in life, but they take on a whole new meaning when your children are involved.  I am forever grateful for the job opportunity Jeff was given that has allowed my focus to become my children, our family and home.   Just when I felt like I was getting the hang of being a “SAHM”, another curve ball was thrown our way.

Liam was blessed to have one of the most incredible kindergarten teachers imaginable.  She was perfect for him and his unique strengths and weaknesses.  She “got” him, and over the course of the school year she nurtured him and worked with him, growing him into a confident kiddo who loved going to school and loved learning.  Our experience in first grade has been very different, and Jeff and I felt helpless watching Liam struggle.  It was like watching him swim against the current.  Every once in a while he would make some headway only to hit a stronger current and get carried backwards even further.  He was so frustrated and so exhausted and so beaten down.  Not only was he losing ground in school, he was losing ground in vision therapy.  We were upset.  He was upset.  In general, our house was very stressed out and emotional much of the time.

Liam reached a milestone at vision therapy in January and earned a special reward.

Liam reached a milestone at vision therapy and earned a special reward.

And then God showed me what I believe is a little glimpse into His plan.

In Arlington, I was working like crazy.  When I was at work, I felt guilty for not being there for my family.  When I was with my family, I felt guilty that I might be perceived as not pulling my weight at work or being devoted enough to the company.  And then came this new job of Jeff’s that gave us a fresh start with me becoming a full-time mom and wife.  Why Skiatook, God?  Why here?  God led us to a great little house with some very sweet neighbors, one of which invited us to her church.  So we went, and we found a wonderful family of believers who welcomed us with open arms and helped provide a family, a base here in Skiatook where we have no relatives and knew no one.  This sweet little church is filled with amazing people including some who homeschool.  We weren’t new to homeschooling but we were pretty ignorant about it.  Since moving here I watched and observed these kids in our church who are homeschooled and saw how intelligent, capable and confident they are.  And then I looked at our son who was struggling every single day in first grade.  He wasn’t learning.  He was becoming more and more discouraged and stressed out.  He was losing confidence in himself because he felt like a failure.  Going forward on the same path was no longer an option, and over the Christmas holiday we withdrew him from public school.  We were going to be homeschoolers!

Our homeschooling started this month, and it’s going pretty well.  We have our ups and downs.  I’ve got so much to learn, but I’m committed to making this work.  The temperament of our house has changed a lot.  Things aren’t nearly as stressful, and we’re starting to see Liam relax and become confident in himself again.  We’re making progress with vision therapy and have one last hurdle to get through (depth perception), but our homeschool schedule allows us to get our therapy done early in the day while he is physically and mentally alert.  We, as a family, are being more intentional about finding educational opportunities in everything while making sure we have plenty of fun while we learn.

The boys loved our field trip to the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks earlier this month.

The boys loved our field trip to the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks earlier this month.

Last week we studied Mexico, so Liam baked a cake with red and green sprinkles in honor of the Mexican flag.  (Thankfully, he didn't question the Christmas tree-shaped sprinkles!)

Last week we studied Mexico, so Liam baked a cake with red and green sprinkles in honor of the Mexican flag. (Thankfully, he didn’t question the Christmas tree-shaped sprinkles!)

I hope to update our blog as I’m able.  I once had dreams of having an awesome DIY/design-inspired blog like some of the bloggers I admire, but I’ve come to realize that’s not what God created me for.  At least not during this season of my life.

Yesterday marked our first pinewood derby.  Liam had a blast making this OSU-themed truck with his daddy.

Yesterday marked our first pinewood derby. Liam had a blast making this OSU-themed truck with his daddy.

Instead of creating Pinterest-worthy dishes or DIY projects, I’m teaching phonics and running kids to gymnastics.  Instead of attending blogger conferences, I’m happy to socialize in my circle from church and from my MOPS group.  I’d love to make a quilt, create a sourdough starter and repaint my bedroom furniture.  Someday.  Today, I’m in the throes of being full-time mom and teacher.  I’m making lesson plans and looking up activities for Ground Hog day.  I’m saving pinewood derby designs to a new Pinterest board.  I’m looking at never-ending piles of dirty laundry and a dishwasher that seems to always need unloading.  Those fancy layer cakes covered in fondant icing I pinned last week?  Yeah… I’m dreaming!  Today I’m just excited to try out the new elephant-shaped sandwich cutters on Cullen’s PB&J sandwiches for preschool.  I’ve had to reevaluate my priorities in life, and I’m learning a hard lesson: I can’t control everything and sometimes I have to “go with the flow”.  Oh, and coffee helps.  Lots and lots of coffee.

(Click picture for source.)

Six Years Ago Today

Six years ago today I became a mom.  We had tried for years to get pregnant – months upon months of fertility medicines and treatments including two failed IUI’s.  And just when we were ready to take the next step towards IVF, God intervened and instead of leaving my specialist’s office after a “trigger” shot, I was blubbering to Jeff on the cell phone in a parking garage… WE’RE PREGNANT!  I’d like to say it was an easy pregnancy, but it was everything but that; through it all, however, Liam stayed healthy and refused to budge.  Following a month on bedrest my doctor finally induced me.  Pitocin started around 6AM.  Liam didn’t budge.  My water broke at 1:30PM.  Liam didn’t budge.  We should have known then that he was already showing signs of his stubborness!  Due to some other complications, Liam was quickly evicted – by force – and made his grand debut on February 24, 2009.

This is where I would post pictures of him as a newborn in the hospital – held and cherished by his parents and both sets of grandparents.  I would also throw in some beautiful pictures takenwhen he was just ten days old.  However (like with practically everything else) our external back up drive that has all of those pictures saved digitally is located 1-1/2 hours away in storage.  (Sadly, much of our stuff is still sitting in storage following our move last March.  I will be one happy lady when our shop/storage building gets completed so we can begin bringing our stuff here to Skiatook.)  So without those precious newborn images here on this laptop, I’ve gathered up a smattering of pics I’ll call “The Many Faces of Liam”.  You’ll have to wait though!  First, I’ll tell you about today!!!

Today probably couldn’t have gotten any more perfect in Liam’s opinion.  You see, today was pajama day at school!  Jeff and I joined him at lunch with his favorite meal which he requested: McDonald’s pancakes and sausage.  Pajamas and pancakes… does it get any better than that?!?!  He got to wear a special birthday sticker all day long from his teacher, and at afternoon snack time his class was treated to cupcakes and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle napkins from Liam.  And don’t let me forget to mention that since he brought the snacks to school, he also got to do show-and-tell which, for Liam, is a huge deal because he gets to stand in front of his class and “entertain”!!!  I will say that Jeff and I fared a little better for dinner which was at a restaurant that did not provide toys to its customers nor was there a playground anywhere in sight.  The kids loved their pizza at Lone Star Steakhouse while their parents enjoyed not hearing “would you like fries with that” when the waitress took our order.

First birthday pic of the day - in the drop-off lane at school!

First birthday pic of the day – in the drop-off lane at school!

Daddy doesn't get to attend many events at Liam's school due to his work, so the birthday boy was THRILLED to have his daddy there for lunch.  Of course, he also loved the pancakes!

Daddy doesn’t get to attend many events at Liam’s school due to his work, so the birthday boy was THRILLED to have his daddy there for lunch. Of course, he also loved the pancakes!

Once home tonight, Liam couldn’t wait to open his birthday gifts from Mommy, Daddy and Cullen!

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All the birthday festivity fun was too much for baby brother.

All the birthday fun was too much for baby brother.

TMNT pajamas.  That glow in the dark.  <--- Mommy rocks!

TMNT pajamas. That glow in the dark.  Mommy rocks!

Sum Swamp!  A game of addition and subtraction!  (Hey, you gotta sneak learning in there somewhere!)

Sum Swamp! A game of addition and subtraction! (Hey, you gotta sneak learning in there somewhere!)

Everything is awesome!!

Everything is awesome!!

He loved the LEGO Star Wars book!

He loved the LEGO Star Wars book!

His best gift today – although he doesn’t realize it – is what we learned at the developmental optometrist’s office for his check-up.  You see he’s been wearing bifocal contacts for a little over a month to address vision problems and a lazy eye.  Before contacts, vision in his weak eye was 20/200.  The kid simply couldn’t see, and we saw the effects in multiple areas of his life from school performance to behavior.  Now he is able to see 20/60.  Our good news today was that his vision has remained the same and has not worsened since January.  The awesome news today was that the crossing of his eye has improved by 50%!!!!  Folks, this is HUGE!!!!  We’ve been seeing specialists, patching, doing drops and more since November 2013 with no improvement.  In fact, things were getting progressively worse.  We are so pleased with this new doctor we’re seeing and his progress.  We still have work to do in the immediate future – three months of patching (a different technique than we previously did) – but his optometrist is very optimistic and so are we.

As promised, here are “The Many Faces of Liam” taken over the past three years:

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Happy 6th birthday, kiddo!!  You may be stubborn, but we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Liam’s LEGO Star Wars Party

Liam will be SIX in just two days!  I can’t believe it.  He has really grown so much in the past year, and not just in height!  His little face has matured so much, especially since he’s started wearing contacts.  (We started seeing a pediatric developmental optometrist who prescribed bifocal contacts in January.  Although we will likely have to go through vision therapy soon, his vision has improved greatly with the contacts!)  On Saturday the 21st we celebrated his upcoming birthday with friends at a local gym where the kids got to run, bounce, zip line and tackle to their hearts’ content.  It was great getting to see them laugh and play together.  The best part?  They were worn out after playing hard!

 

Cake!!  It was delicious with a strawberry jam filling.

Cake!! It was delicious with a strawberry jam filling.

You can't have a LEGO Star Wars party without light sabers.  Only these are cooler.... they make bubbles!

You can’t have a LEGO Star Wars party without light sabers. Only these are cooler…. they make bubbles!

May the force be with you!

May the force be with you!

The birthday boy got to do something special.  He loved flying through the air!

The birthday boy got to do something special. He loved flying through the air!

Baby brother, Cullen, made sure Grandma Imogene got plenty of exercise too.

Baby brother, Cullen, made sure Grandma Imogene got plenty of exercise too.

Our buddy Hunter had a great time!  (We missed his baby brother Aiden though who was sick.)

Our buddy Hunter had a great time! (We missed his baby brother Aiden though who was sick.)

Nic's dad wore out the boys with a game of football.  Liam might have a future in tackling.  Following instructions.... not so much.

Nic’s dad wore out the boys with a game of football. Liam might have a future in tackling. Following instructions…. not so much.

Annie was our youngest party goer and was more content to watch the big kids act crazy.  Here she is with her sweet momma.

Annie was our youngest party goer and was more content to watch the big kids act crazy. Here she is with her sweet momma.

Moms Abby and Hannah helped the kids on the zip line.

Moms Abby and Hannah helped the kids on the zip line.

Corey, Benlee and all the kids had a blast in the inflatable obstacle course.

Corey, Benlee and all the kids had a blast in the inflatable obstacle course.

Colten stood still for approximately 2.5 seconds, long enough for me to snap this picture really quickly.

Colten stood still for approximately 2.5 seconds, long enough for me to snap this picture really quickly.

Chelsea, Colten's twin sister, was sweet enough to pose for me.

Chelsea, Colten’s twin sister, was sweet enough to pose for me.

These sweet kiddos made Liam feel so loved.

These sweet kiddos made Liam feel so loved.

Everyone waited anxiously while Jeff lit the six candles on the cake.

Everyone waited anxiously while Jeff lit the six candles on the cake.

Happy birthday, sweet boy!

Happy birthday, sweet boy!

We are quickly approaching the one year mark since we packed up our house in Arlington, Texas, and moved to Oklahoma.  There have been ups and downs for each of us, as it was a big change for everyone.  I think the move was hardest on Liam, however.  He still talks about how much he misses his friends in Texas.  At his day care, most of the kiddos had been together since they were six weeks old in the nursery.  His Sunday School class at church was the same way as most of us moms were in the same class and pregnant together.  These friends were all he knew, and learning to make new friends has been more challenging for him than we expected.  I know I’ve said it many times, but everything related to our move was a complete God thing.  Jeff and I prayed together about his job situation and when it looked like we would be relocating, we turned everything over to God and his timing.  I know He led us to this wonderful little town in northeast Oklahoma.  Most importantly, I know it was His plan for us to find our sweet neighbors who led us to our new church home where we have made special friendships with some of the sweetest people, many of which are pictured above.  They have welcomed us into their family and for that, I am so grateful.  Liam had a wonderful birthday party thanks to his sweet friends who came to help him celebrate turning six.

Afterwards, we ran a few errands in Owasso and let Liam pick our restaurant for dinner: IHOP.  The kid has always loved pancakes, and nothing makes him happier than having four different kinds of pancake syrup to choose from.  And since it was a special day for him, I kept my mouth shut and let him have as much blueberry and strawberry syrups as he wanted!  Baby brother, Cullen, had his first attempt at sitting in a booster seat.  It was short-lived though as he repeatedly slid down towards the floor!

IHOP-Liam IHOP-Cullen

Bulldog Spirit Walk – Class of 2027

As if Liam starting kindergarten wasn’t enough of a “Where Has The Time Gone?” moment, imagine this morning at the Skiatook High School track when his class was introduced as the Class of 2027!  I know these years will pass so quickly, and today was a very big day for Liam.  His elementary school had their first annual Bulldog Spirit Walk to raise money for their school and he got to ride a real school bus for the very first time!  The school made the event very special for the kids with lots of fun music, “smoke” and plenty of parents on hand to cheer on the classes.  The kids raised over $15,000 for their school!  Here are some shots of Liam – he’s easy to spot in gray shorts with a fluorescent yellow stripe.

Little brother Cullen was happy to be in the stands to cheer on Liam.

Little brother Cullen was happy (?) to be in the stands to cheer on Liam.

The kids were excited to come through the big bulldog.

The kids were excited to come through the big bulldog.

Here they are lining up.  This group is Pre-K and Kindergarten only.

Here they are lining up. This group is Pre-K and Kindergarten only.

The first of the kids made it through the "smoke".

The first of the kids made it through the “smoke”.

Here's a Pre-K class.  We saw Liam's friends Mikey & Hunter from church.

Here’s a Pre-K class. We saw Liam’s friends Mikey & Hunter from church.

There's our big guy!

There’s our big guy!

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It was a pretty morning to do some cheering!

It was a pretty morning to do some cheering!

Way off in the distance you can see Liam running.  They walked the first two laps and ran/jogged the final two.

Way off in the distance you can see Liam running. They walked the first two laps and ran/jogged the final two.

Future track star?

Future track star?

At the end, the classes did a dance and some of the kindergartners got to be out front.... including Liam!

At the end, the classes did a dance and some of the kindergartners got to be out front…. including Liam!

Great time at the Spirit Walk!

Great time at the Spirit Walk!

 

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A parade, carnival and lots of patriotism

When Jeff and I decided last spring that we would be leaving Texas to move our family to Oklahoma for his new job, it was exciting in a lot of ways.  We had a fresh start.  We loved our life in Arlington, but both of us were honestly tired of the big city and life itself within DFW.  The pace was fast.  The traffic jams and construction were constant.  The noise never ceased.  And we both missed the qualities of a small town with all of its benefits and quirks.  We began searching through communities near north Tulsa – getting the lay of the land – and figuring out where we wanted to plant new roots for ourselves and the boys.

I knew early-on that I wanted a place like Mayberry.  I have craved for something simpler, slower paced and wholesome for a long time.  No… we didn’t end up in Mayberry exactly.  Every little town has the good, the bad and the eccentric.  But where we did land is among one of the most beautiful areas of Oklahoma.  And this town!  The people are so friendly as exemplified by our new church where members immediately welcomed us as family.  Patriotism is alive and well here too.  Have you experienced the pride and excitement as you’re driving behind a city services truck with an employee mounting American flags on the light posts downtown.  By downtown, I mean a few blocks here…. with a library, a chamber of commerce and a handful of businesses.

Recently Skiatook held its Pioneer Days festival, and it was bigger and more fun than I could have imagined.  Jeff was still in Florida for work, but the boys and I wouldn’t have missed the fun for anything!!

Here we are lining up for the parade.  The Shriners and town made sure everyone got free popcorn and flags to wave.   How cool is that?!  (And yes, we had a lesson on how to properly hold the flag after this shot.)

Here we are lining up for the parade. The Shriners and town made sure everyone got free popcorn and flags to wave. How cool is that?! (And yes, we had a lesson on how to properly hold the flag after this shot.)

Waiting patiently.  Sort of.  I missed the picture of them hitting each other with their flags.

Waiting patiently. Sort of. I missed the picture of them hitting each other with their flags.

People were lined up as far as you could see!  You could definitely feel the anticipation in the air... anticipation of parade candy!

People were lined up as far as you could see! You could definitely feel the anticipation in the air… anticipation of parade candy!

The old-school hot rods were modified so that the front ends came off the road.

The old-school hot rods were modified so that the front ends came off the road.

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You can't have a parade without the Shriners!

You can’t have a parade without the Shriners!

Halloween may not have anything on Pioneer Day's parade.  Liam was very happy with his haul of candy!

Halloween may not have anything on Pioneer Day’s parade. Liam was very happy with his haul of candy!

This little guy got tired but he never shut his eyes - he didn't miss a thing!

This little guy got tired but he never shut his eyes – he didn’t miss a thing!

One of the local candidates dressed up her dog like a judge.

One of the local candidates dressed up her dog like a judge.

There were some great classic cars!

There were some great classic cars!

In GOD We Trust!  Amen!

In GOD We Trust! Amen!

Skiatook straddles the border between Tulsa County and Osage County.  Our house, which is outside the city limits, is in Osage County and located on Osage Tribe reservation land.  Here is the Osage princess.  The Osage tribe colors are very pretty.

Skiatook straddles the border between Tulsa County and Osage County. Our house, which is outside the city limits, is in Osage County and located on Osage Tribe reservation land. Here is the Osage princess. The Osage tribe colors are very pretty.

Our local pink cement mixer truck.   Liam can't figure out why they painted it pink.

Our local pink cement mixer truck. Liam can’t figure out why they painted it pink.

A monster tractor followed by a monster truck.  Liam was in heaven.

A monster tractor followed by a monster truck. Liam was in heaven.

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We enjoyed seeing the military vehicles too.

We enjoyed seeing the military vehicles too.

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Check out the dog!

Check out the dog!

Here comes the FFA!  Ashley, our friend from church, is in the red shirt.  Liam and Cullen were thrilled when they spotted her.

Here comes the FFA! Ashley, our friend from church, is in the red shirt. Liam and Cullen were thrilled when they spotted her.

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Great float from one of our favorite local restaurants.

Great float from one of our favorite local restaurants.

There were American flags everywhere in the parade.  It was great!

There were American flags everywhere in the parade. It was great!

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Such a cool train!  Liam wanted to ride in it.

Such a cool train! Liam wanted to ride in it.

I'm kicking myself for not getting a picture of the miniature goat in the pink tutu.

I’m kicking myself for not getting a picture of the miniature goat in the pink tutu.

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Another one of our local favorites!  Their gumbo is awesome.

Another one of our local favorites! Their gumbo is awesome.

What a cutie, huh?!

What a cutie, huh?!

This pic is for Popaw!  Next year y'all have to come to the parade!!!

This pic is for Popaw! Next year y’all have to come to the parade!!!

Here's one of our local preachers who also works on John Deere tractors.  We bought our fireworks from him on July 4th.  Little towns have the most interesting, entertaining people!!

Here’s one of our local preachers who also works on John Deere tractors. We bought our fireworks from him on July 4th. Little towns have the most interesting, entertaining people!!

Another old hot rod.  Popaw, are you paying attention???

Another old hot rod. Popaw, are you paying attention???

Pioneer Days also hosts a rodeo.  We missed it this year with Jeff out of town, but hope to make it next time!

Pioneer Days also hosts a rodeo. We missed it this year with Jeff out of town, but hope to make it next time!

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Here are the rodeo queens!

Here are the rodeo queens!

Apparently "Don't Text & Drive" doesn't apply if you're riding a miniature horse!

Apparently “Don’t Text & Drive” doesn’t apply if you’re riding a miniature horse!

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These horses are more Cullen's speed.

These horses are more Cullen’s speed.

The little girl with the pigtails was adorable.

The little girl with the pigtails was adorable.

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Bringing up the rear of the parade are our wonderful police officers.

Bringing up the rear of the parade are our wonderful police officers.

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This is Cullen's first time to ride something special at a carnival.

This is Cullen’s first time to ride something special at a carnival.

By the end, he was very ready to get off!

By the end, he was very ready to get off!

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For a kid with vestibular issues, Liam LOVED the swing.  I couldn't believe he wanted to do it, much less that he would love it!!

For a kid with vestibular issues, Liam LOVED the swing. I couldn’t believe he wanted to do it, much less that he would love it!!

Liam also loved the roller coaster!

Liam also loved the roller coaster!

 

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Go Pokes! (did I just say that?)

As you can imagine, Jeff was thrilled with the idea that we were moving closer to OSU – his alma mater – in Stillwater.  On September 13, he took Liam and me for our first OSU football game.  Our little “Poke” had a great time!

Our first trip to Eskimo Joe's - for shopping and some lunch!

Our first trip to Eskimo Joe’s – for shopping and some lunch!

We couldn't visit the student union without some more shopping.  Liam loves his OSU swag!

We couldn’t visit the student union without some more shopping. Liam loves his OSU swag!

Loved hearing the band, watching Pistol Pete and cheering for the football players during the Spirit Walk!

Loved hearing the band, watching Pistol Pete and cheering for the football players during the Spirit Walk!

O-S-U

O-S-U

Go Pokes!

Go Pokes!

It was a beautiful day and we sat underneath the American flag.

It was a beautiful day and we sat underneath the American flag.

Liam watches intently as OSU plays UTSA.

Liam watches intently as OSU plays UTSA.

Liam & I had a great time in Stillwater!  I know it won't be our last!!

Liam & I had a great time in Stillwater! I know it won’t be our last!!

 

As I constantly remind Mr. OSU Grad, he wasn’t the only one in our house to attend a Big 12 school.  Texas Tech is my alma mater, and I couldn’t help but notice quite a few similarities between the two schools:

Our mascots – both are well-armed.

Raider Red

Raider Red

Pistol Pete

Pistol Pete

Both schools know how to make an unforgetable entrance on the football field.

Texas Tech's Masked Rider

Texas Tech’s Masked Rider

OSU's Bullet

OSU’s Bullet

It’s not a football game unless you’re holding up your hands in a gun formation!

Red Raiders get their Guns Up!

Red Raiders get their Guns Up!

Go Pokes!

Go Pokes!

I admit that there is one very delicious tradition unique to OSU:

Eskimo Joe's Cheese Fries with Bacon

Eskimo Joe’s Cheese Fries with Bacon

That said, once a RED RAIDER always a RED RAIDER.

There's no place like Raiderland.

There’s no place like Raiderland.

It was a great Saturday spent with two of my loves.  And seriously… if you’re ever in Stillwater, stop at Eskimo Joe’s and get the cheese fries.  With bacon.

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The arrival of Fall and Liam’s first hunting trip

It’s hard to believe Liam has been in school for almost a month now.  He absolutely loves it – every day when I pick him up from school, he comes bouncing into the car talking a hundred words a minute telling me all about a new friend, a game played at recess or something else amazing that happened in his classroom.

Ellmer the Elephant (Liam's painting)

Ellmer the Elephant (Liam’s painting)

Boys and their cars!

Boys and their cars!

Little brother Cullen also started school in August – he’s going to a private preschool at a local church two days a week.  He’s been such a little trooper!  Each morning that I’ve dropped him off he’s gone straight to his teacher with no tears.  To be perfectly honest, we think he’s just excited to spend the day with all of the girls in his class as he’s the only little boy!

Here’s a look at Cullen on his first day with his new teacher!

Cullen's first day of Pre-K

Cullen’s first day of Pre-K

Mornings can be a little hectic around our house with trying to get everyone dressed, fed and out the door on time.  (If Liam’s not in his classroom at 8:00AM, he’s considered tardy.)  Most mornings are full of chattering and giggles; however, one morning I found this little grump in my bed.  I don’t think he was very excited about waking up.

Where's my coffee??

Where’s my coffee??

The opening of dove season marked a very important time for Liam and his daddy:  Liam’s first hunting trip!  He got to camp out with his dad and seemed to enjoy the trip, although we think he enjoyed playing with the other kids more than sitting out in the field.

Liam's got his bag packed and his sleeping bag ready to go!

Liam’s got his bag packed and his sleeping bag ready to go!

A little air guitar performance!

A little air guitar performance!

Sweet Liam

Sweet Liam

Jeff and his boys!

Dressed and ready to go!

Dressed and ready to go!

Patiently waiting for the dove!

Patiently waiting for the dove!

While the big guys were off doing their thing, the little guy kept me company.  Although his allergies were giving him some trouble, he didn’t miss a beat with playing cars.

Sorting cars!

Sorting cars!

Cullen's love of Hot Wheels started very early!

Cullen’s love of Hot Wheels started very early!

(Don’t tell big brother that his super heroes get played with while he’s gone!)

Cullen & the Hulks

Cullen & the Hulks

Sweet Cullen

Sweet Cullen

Speaking of “beats”, here’s Cullen dancing in the kitchen while I was cleaning up after lunch one day.

http://youtu.be/d27nwHs42HM

And it’s finally official!!!  I’m a licensed interior designer in the state of Oklahoma after getting my paperwork from Texas transferred to Oklahoma City.  Now I need to get my tail in gear and get some projects around this house completed so I can post some pics!!

Official license - complete with the gold seal!

Official license – complete with the gold seal!

We have a busy weekend ahead of us!  Jeff is taking Liam and me to Stillwater for our first OSU football game.  We’re looking forward to some football, Pistol Pete and Eskimo Joe’s!

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