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.)

Getting chocked with Miss Lillian’s chalk paint

Whereas most women have a thing for shoes, I have a thing for tables.  End tables with unique details included.  Here in Skiatook we have an awesome place to shop for unique furniture and more: The Antique Depot.  Since moving here a year ago, I have found some great things at great prices including this recent find:

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This was a sweet little table that had great detailing with so much potential.  That said, it was in really rough shape and very rickety.  The employees at Antique Depot showed me how to work some previously-applied glaze out of the screws so that the legs and top could be tightened up.  Thanks to my hubby’s efforts, it worked!  The table’s size is perfect for a corner in our dining room, and that’s where it sat in it’s sad shape waiting for me to do something with it.

Owasso has this great boutique store called Bless UR Heart where I’ve previously done a Pinterest painting party.  When they announced an upcoming chalk painting class for furniture, I jumped at the opportunity.  Marilyn (AKA Miss Lillian) came all the way from Clarksville, Tennessee, to teach two classes.  She and her husband were so funny, and I had such a good time getting to know all about chalk painting using Miss Lillian’s Chock Paint products.  The hardest part (for me) was deciding on which color I would use to paint my little table!

Miss Lillian Chock Paint Storefront

Miss Lillian Chock Paint Product

After much deliberation, I went with Sage Advice.  My dining room has a light-colored wainscoting so I needed a color that would stand out.  That said, I didn’t want this small table to be too noticeable as the accessories in the room are what I really want to have to add color and pattern.  This green color was perfect – not too yellow, not too blue.

Gingham&Grace Miss Lillian Chock Paint Sage Advice

One of the table’s previous owners had applied a “crocodile” glaze over it which I decided to leave intact since it would only add to the overall appearance once the chalk paint and glaze were applied.  These are some pictures of the table with just one coat of Miss Lillian’s No-Wax Chock Paint.  This little table was already shaping up to be a stunner:

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I thought it already looked beautiful but my gut feeling was that I needed to add a glaze to make the carved details and “crocodile” crackling really stand out.  Using Marilyn’s suggestion, I went with the Burnt Umber Antiquing Glaze.  I’ll let you decide for yourself if it was the right call.  For me, and my house, this just added the perfect level of “antiquing” to a unique accent table that blends perfectly with the rest of the furniture in my dining room.

Gingham&Grace Chalk Paint Table Final Gingham&Grace Chalk Paint Table Top Detail Gingham&Grace Chalk Paint Table Leg Detail

If you’re interested in Miss Lillian’s Chock Paint for yourself, you can visit their website or like them on Facebook.  And if you’re anywhere close to Northeast Oklahoma, you’ve got to check out Bless UR Heart in Owasso where they sell Miss Lillian’s products and have quite a few painted furniture pieces in the store so you can see it in person.

Now that I’ve been bitten by the chalk paint bug, I can’t wait to get started on my next piece!

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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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