Monday, April 30, 2012

Reading is Fundamental

I used to be a reader.  I used to have several books going on at once.  I used to scoff at people who, under the Favorite Books section of their Facebook profile put something to the effect of "I don't like to read."  I used to be called a bookworm.

I think I took a break from heavy reading late in high school.  Life picked up.  I was busy, I had a lot of school work, and in my downtime I started preferring hanging out with friends to reading.  College came and the problem only got worse.  Who can enjoy reading for fun when you have pages and pages of an Ergonomics textbook waiting on you?

After college, I should have picked it back up, but for some reason I didn't.  I think it was probably because Ryan was gone and the house was too quiet and still while I read.  I preferred the noise and mindlessness of the TV.  But Ryan came home, and the reading still didn't start back up.  Oh sure, I've devoured a few Harry Potter books.  I spent a solid four days hammering out the Twilight series (and then reread them each twice).  I read all of the Sookie Stackhouse books last summer at the urging of my neighbor, and then read Hunger Games because the rest of my family was reading them.  But it still hasn't stuck.  I'm not consistently reading.

I think part of the problem is that I'm just too good at reading.  I'm a very fast reader, and I tend to get so caught up in books that they completely consume me.  I'll stay up all night and not even think about it if I'm into a good book.  I'm really good at it.  But recently I decided that I would give reading another try.  I have several friends who read quite a bit, and my mom is an avid reader as well.  And I have a little personal, internal goal of "getting back to me" - the me I used to be before life got complicated, work got busy, motherhood and wifehood kicked in, and I had more grown-up responsibility than I knew what to do with.  Hence the riding, the running, and now the reading.

I visited the library with Alli last week.  We picked up some new chapter books for her, including a fun series called the Pony Pals.  We're reading a chapter or two a night together, and it's been really great to share it.  While we were there, I picked up some books for myself that I've heard people mention over the past several years but that I've never taken the time to read.  I got The Shack, The Help, Eat Pray Love, and then a little chick lit book called A Desirable Residence.  It's taken me about a week, but I'm almost done with The Shack.  It's a 250 page book, and I read the first 150 pages in the first night.  I had to slow myself down so that I didn't tear through it and so that I got enough sleep each night.  You see, I'm just that good.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Weekend Recap

What a fun and busy weekend we Lowes had!  My mom and dad came up this weekend for my dad's annual Academy of Civil Engineers meeting.  Friday night we had a delicious dinner at Penguin Ed's and then several of us (excluding a very sleepy Ryan) played a game of Yahtzee.

Saturday, I took Landry to the vet to get microchipped and a pedicure.  I also talked to the vet some about his arthritis.  It's hell carrying 60 lbs on those legs.  Did you know that it's the policy of the City of Fayetteville to have your pets microchipped?  Landry was living outside of the law until Saturday morning.

Breakin' the law
After Landry's vet visit, Mom and I hit up some great stores downtown, including the Mustache Store and Riffraff, where we each got these awesome beach bags.  Hers is yellow with a blue sand dollar on it, and mine is this great octopus.

We also ate at a really delicious restaurant off the square in the same building as Bliss Cupcake Cafe - it's called Fresco Cafe.  The prices were really reasonable, and the food was amazing!  So fresh and tasty.  After lunch, we headed uptown to Masons and Chic.  We had the most fun at Chic - it's a cute new boutique right by Panera Bread.  I got some awesome new clothes that are not work-related.  Such a refreshing change!  I'm always buying work clothes, so I never have any fun casual clothes.  Chevron paper bag shorts, anyone?  Mom got some great new clothes herself, including a gorgeous maxi dress that's absolutely perfect for the beach.  Can you tell we have Destin on the brain?

After that, it was time to head home and get ready to head to the AMP for Hank Williams Jr.  This was mine and Ryan's second time seeing him (first at Riverfest several years ago), and he didn't disappoint!

I love these girls, but I hate standing next to them - they are too cute and tiny!
Sunday morning came a little quicker than I would have liked, but Alli got her Bible at church.  I was so happy that my parents and brother were there to see her.  After they got Bibles, they recited the books of the Old and New Testament.  It was so great!

All of the first graders

Once church was over, we headed to the barn for riding lessons.  It was the first time my parents have been able to see me ride since I've picked it back up, so I was extremely excited to show them how I was doing.  Freedom and I did several courses, a little galloping, and then finished up with a short trail ride.  Alli had a great lesson as well on Sprinkles.

When we got back to the house, Mom and Dad had to head back to Little Rock.  I wished for the thousandth time that they lived up here with us!  Ryan went to the grocery store, and Alli had been bugging me to have a picnic, so she packed us one and we went to Wilson Park.

Didn't forget a thing

Alli did a great job packing the picnic - she included sandwiches, chips, drinks, some fruit snacks, napkins, and leftover cinnamon rolls.  And she didn't even forget the blanket for us to sit on.  While we dined, she played in the castle.

She said this was her being a princess captured in the tower

The castle has a little moat around it with some koi and this huge alligator snapping turtle.  I'm not sure if you can see him too well, but he was pretty scary looking!

After all of the fun was over, we came home, cooked dinner, did the usual bed time routine - including some reading from her new Bible - and now we're finally resting!  I hope you all had a fun, wonderful weekend!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Spring Fling

Remember last year when I was worried about the azaleas blooming?  Oh happy day - they bloomed this year!!  And the knockout roses look awesome too.  Things are blooming here at Chateau Lowe!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012


In an effort to keep this blog from being completely about spray painting and Alli, I was perusing some post ideas and came across a great one I couldn't wait to try - putting my iPod on Shuffle and telling you the first 10 songs that came up.

  1. "La Traviata" - Roya Philharmonic Orchestra:  This is from the Twilight soundtrack.  Probably all of my seemingly cool music is.
  2. "Innocent Bones" - Iron and Wine:  I first heard Iron and Wine on the Twilight soundtrack (see a trend here?), but I ended up buying his whole album.  I really love it.
  3. "Wanna Be a Baller" - Lil' Troy:  Oh so high school.  How many times did I cruise the mean streets of Little Rock in the Accord bumping this?
  4. "Boyz-N-The-Hood" - Dynamite Hack:  I do actually like this better than the original.
  5. "The Motto" - Drake featuring Lil Wayne:  This is one of my favorite rap songs right now.  I love running to it!
  6. "Purple Rain" - Prince & The Revolution:  Don't act like this isn't on your iPod too and you don't belt it out alone in the car.  I know I'm not alone.
  7. "All I Want for Christmas is You" - Justin Bieber & Mariah Carey:  It would be nice if I took the time to pull Christmas songs off after Christmas.  But skipping them is just so much easier.
  8. "Dixie" - Lee Greenwood:  I really have no idea what to say on this one.
  9. "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems" - Kenny Chesney:  I always bust out the Kenny Chesney when the beach vacation draws near, so I was happy this popped up.  Only 2.5 months and 25 lbs to go!!
  10. "Me and Mrs. Jones" - Billy Paul:  Heard it in a movie, had a weak moment.  Do not judge me.
There you have it - and you can tell I didn't skip any, can't you?  You just cannot make this stuff up.

Hope you're all gearing up for a fun weekend!  We have some exciting things going on around here - can't wait to update you!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wednesday Wisdom

Alli to me this Sunday on a walk:  "Mama, I wish every day was Saturday and Sunday."

Me:  "Me too, baby, but then Saturdays and Sundays wouldn't be so special."

Alli, after some thought: "Well maybe, but I'd sure like to try it."

From the mouths of babes...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Gameday Vote

Hey - you know I love those Hogs, and I know there's a 90% chance you do too - even you, Louisiana family - so hit up this link and vote to get an ESPN College Gameday commercial shot here in Fayetteville:

Vote once a day from each of your 15 email addresses, because we both know you have them, and help those Hogs win!  I promise you can come stay with me during filming.  I'm talking to you, Mom.  The rest of you will need to find a hotel.  I call this place a chateau, but that's just because it helps me sleep at night.  It's really more of a broom closet, and I'm not the nicest roommate.  Your bed will have to be made, your dishes rinsed, and your towel put immediately in the laundry room.  Mama don't play.

But I digress.  Go vote for those Hogs.  Last I checked, we were in third behind Nebraska and NC State.  I'm not kidding.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

New Fleece on Life

I really enjoy repurposing and rehabbing old, unwanted objects and making them new again, usually with something as simple as a can or two of spray paint.  There are multiple well-loved objects at my house that have several coats of paint on them as I've changed rooms, changed moods, and changed my style over and over again.  One of the easiest things to do to freshen up an object or an entire room is to go to Home Depot, pick out a color, and get to spraying.

My latest project actually is a new-to-me object that has been in my parents' house since I was in high school.  This urn used to sit on their fireplace, and was a pretty nice piece when they bought it.  But time was not kind to the ram urn, as time can be to any of us, and he got chipped, tired, and fell out of favor.  So few weekends ago, my mom asked me if I would like to take this urn home and see what I could do with it.  I, never one to decline a good rehab project, obliged, and the old urn got loaded up and left in the back of the car for a few weeks while I pondered his fate.

Then today after church, Ryan suggested we swing by Home Depot and grab a can of paint so that we could paint the ram urn (aka unload it from the car).  Always up for shopping for spray paint, I immediately agreed, and then debated the color for the rest of the trip.  Ryan suggested white because "everything like that in our house is white" which is a fair point.  We can't exactly have the white linens and furniture I dream of, so I tend to compensate with white accessories that can easily be dusted, cleaned, and wiped of dog drool.  I was not completely sold on white for this piece, however.  I felt like something as funky and ornate as this ram urn deserved a statement color.

And nothing says statement like a glossy coat of Key Lime, does it?  Lime green is an accent color I love to use in conjunction with the soft blues, breezy white, and punchy corals in our living room.  So after about four coats of paint and an hour or so to cure, Mr. Ram found a new hue and a new spot in our entryway.

Doesn't it look great?  I'm pretty pleased with the results, and I'm always happy when someone's trash turns into my treasure for the mere cost of a can on paint.  Thanks, Mom!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Red and White, Fight Fight Fight!

It's no secret that the Lowe and Holloway family are big Hog fans.  We run a mega tailgate and travel with the Hogs all football season long.  And as you might expect, we love a good opportunity to see our Razorbacks during the spring as well.  This weekend was Razorfest followed by the annual Red White game - the football scrimmage that culminates the spring practice season.

We had planned to have the whole tailgate shindig set up like we did last year, but Mr. and Mrs. Lowe had long hard work weeks, so we decided it would be better to take in the sights and fun of Razorfest.  We got there around 11:30, and Alli promptly made us get in line to slide on a huge inflatable slide.

After her slide, we headed into the stadium, where there were more activities.  In the end zone we found a few famous people to take pictures with:

Then we grabbed jumbo corn dogs and took our seats to cheer for the boys - both Red and White.  It actually ended up being a bit emotional to see the highlights from the previous season, see the seniors get recognized, and know what the players have been through in the past few weeks.

The weather was beautiful and the Hogs won (Ryan wore that joke out and yelled at the refs.).  It made me excited for football, which I needed after the past two weeks.  Now we just need a coach...

Monday, April 16, 2012


This past Sunday, Alli had a horse show at Morning Star stables in Prairie Grove.  This was her second show - in her first show she rode her usual pony Sprinkles against two other girls and got first, second, and third in her classes.

Because it was so rainy and stormy this past Sunday, we waited most of the day to hear about the show.  Finally, at 2PM, we got the call that the show was on, so we headed out to the barn.  There were two other girls there as well, so Alli had a lot of fun running around the barn with them, getting the ponies ready, and watching everyone ride.  This week, she rode Tater Tot, a shetland pony who she loves, but always struggles to ride because he's so feisty and speedy.  I was worried about her riding him in a show, but she was determined to.  She ended up doing pretty well - she got first in one class, second in another, second in a game, and reserve champion overall.  She was pretty upset though - the game was red light, green light, and Tater was being stubborn, and Alli hates to lose.  Overall though, a good experience, another show under her belt, and a perfect way to spend a Sunday.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Interview with Alli

I haven't gotten my storms yet, but maybe I will tonight.  All I've gotten today is wind, which leads me to believe something is moving through.  What I have gotten that I wanted today is the opportunity to do absolutely nothing, which I when I ask for, I always remember that I find it really really boring after I get it.  In my father's speech about my grandmother at her funeral last week, he mentioned that she could best be characterized by the fact that she never used the footrest on a recliner.  Who does that sounds like?

So anyway, I've spent my relaxing Saturday getting my hair done, playing outside with Alli and her friends, and now they are bowling so I'm sitting at the kitchen table, enjoying the gusts coming through the screen door, and catching up on blogs.  After the 10 days we've had, full of work, travel, and all the emotion that goes with losing a family member, I have lost track.  One of my favorites is Centsational Girl - we got our master bathroom cabinet remodel inspiration from her, and I love her furniture rehab and her delightful white and blue decor.  Recently, though, she posted a great piece interviewing her kids, and I thought it would be fun to do the same with Alli.  She is at such a wonderful age (and such an honest one), and I think this will do a lot to help me preserve the memories of how much fun we're having right now.

When are you or when have you been most afraid?  Riding Thunderation at Branson

What has been the happiest day of your life?  Today - bowling and a sleepover

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?  That Grandmama would come back and never die

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?  I would be able to do a back handspring without someone behind me

What is one thing that you could not live without?  Water and food and sleep

What is your favorite movie?  The Lorax

What cartoon character would you most like to be?  Isabelle from Phineas and Ferb

What is the worst thing about being 7?  Being taller than my friends

What is the best thing about being 7?  Being with my neighbors and having a slumber party

Describe your perfect day.  Going to the park, and then seeing the Lorax again.

What job would you like to have when you grow up?  A doctor because you get lots of money.  Or a veterinarian.

Who are your best friends, and why?  Addison, Sam, Gabrielle, and Emily - because they are very funny and nice

Alli circa 2006 - Remember how cute she was?

And now for the hilarious questions.  I promise, I have used her verbatim answers here.  No airbrushing.

What does Mama always say to you?  Sit down and eat.

What makes Mama happy?  When I hug and kiss her.

What makes Mama sad?  When you eat her whole chocolate bunny.

How does Mama make you laugh?  When I tell her jokes.

What was Mama like as a child?  She was really small.

How old is Mama?  28 (She's wrong, I'm 27).

How tall is Mama?  4' 17"

What is Mama's favorite thing to do?  Cheer for the Hogs

What does Mama do when you're not around?  Get her hair cut

What is Mama's favorite food?  Macaroni

What is Mama's job?  Work at JB Hunt

What is Mama really good at?  Asking questions

What is Mama really bad at?  Singing and saying bad words (oops)

How do you know your Mama loves you?  Hugs me and kisses me and says I love you very much

Where is Mama's favorite place to go?  The beach and Wal-Mart

Aren't those great?  Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I Heart Storms

You guys should know, that after the week I've had, the traveling I've done, and the stress I've been through, I'm praying for torrential downpours all weekend this weekend.  I need a really good reason to nap on the couch.

Don't you just love a good thunderstorm?  I do.  I love them on a Saturday afternoon, I love them on a Sunday morning, but I really love waking up to them at 1AM and rolling over to go back to sleep to beating rain, flashing lightening, and rumbling thunder.  I am not a fan of tornados and super cells and huge hail, but I sure do love a squall line followed by a good 2 hours of rain.  Fingers crossed for a good, non-tornadic, stormy weekend!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Egg-cellent Easter

After a rough week last week for our family, we were anxious to get down to Little Rock and celebrate Easter this past weekend.  Easter is not one of my favorite holidays, and I can list a few of those reasons for you:
  1. Easter is inconsistent.  How many times from January to mid-March do you ask people "When is Easter this year?"  Who ever knows when it's going to occur?  What's it based on?  The first Sunday with a full moon after the first day of spring when the tide is high and the Pope turns around three times?  Pick a day, Easter.  Give us another official holiday.
  2. Easter has bad food and entertainment associated with it.  What is tasty about ham and potato salad?  Absolutely nothing.  There's no gravy, there's no casserole, and there's no football.  And there are no presents for me.  Entertainment on Easter?  Hiding eggs in the same place over and over for a kid.  And then letting them hide for you.  Not cool.
  3. Pastels.  We've all read this blog enough to know how much Mama likes bold colors.
  4. Easter is on a Sunday.  Which makes sense, given the reason for the holiday.  But Sunday?  I'm always going to have to travel on Easter.  I'm always going to have to go back to work the next day.  Give me a day off, Easter.
Let's get this straight, though.  I am eternally grateful for the purpose of Easter - having a Risen Lord who sacrified all for my sins.  I love the church hymns associated with Easter.  And I love the new life that comes with Spring.  I'm just not a huge fan of the details surrounding Easter.  But I digress.  We went down to Little Rock to spend some time with the family, and we had a ball coloring our Easter eggs.  I got a kit for Majestic Eggs, and that was awesome.  You put an egg in a sandwich bag, drop some dye in, roll it around and Presto!  Gorgeous marbleized-looking eggs.  We did several regular eggs as well.  We had a good time, and Alli especially seemed to enjoy it.

That next morning, we got up, hunted eggs, and the Easter Bunny left Alli a basketful of goodies.  Hope you all had a wonderful Easter!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


This past week, our family lost its matriarch.  My grandmother passed away on Good Friday, April 6th.  She was a wonderful lady who lived her life with passion.  She was blessed with 87 years of life, and was mentally present until the very end.  I am so sad for the loss of her for myself and my family, but so happy that she is resting peacefully with my grandfather, her husband of 61 years.  I will miss her strength, her sharp memory, and her boundless, unconditional love for her family.  I hope to live as long and full a life as she did.

Today was her funeral, and my father, sister, brother and I gave personal witnesses to her blessed life.  I want to share the words I spoke with you.

 In reflecting on what I wanted to share with you today, I began thinking about the influence my Grandmama had on my life and the many things she has taught me, so I today I'd like to pass some of her wisdom on to you. Here are 4 life lessons I learned from Grandmama:
1.  Everything is better with chocolate.  Anyone who knew my grandmother knew how much she loved to cook and bake. While I didn't inherit her kitchen skills, I did inherit her sweet tooth, especially when it comes to chocolate.  We never visited when there wasn't a batch of brownies, cookies, or a cake sitting on the counter.  Every Christmas, she and my grandfather spent the entire day baking up a storm, and making sure each person got their favorite cookie that year.  Mine of course, just like my grandmother's, involved some kind of chocolate.
2.  Diamonds are a girl's best friend.  My grandmother loved shiny, sparkly things, and we spent countless hours going through her jewelry boxes when we were little.  Each piece had a special story, from the friendship bracelet with her and her best friends' name on it to the Mother's Ring with each of our birthstones.  My favorite was her gorgeous engagement ring, and she always told me I would have one of my own one day.  And the day I got one, no one was happier that my grandmother.
3.  The devil is in the details.  If you spent any time at my grandparents' house, inevitably you'd be in the kitchen with Grandaddy telling you a story.  And let's just say that Grandaddy never let facts get in the way of a good story.  So he'd tell the story, and then he'd get to a seemingly insignificant detail like the time of day, and he'd say "It was 8:07."  And then from the back or downstairs or wherever she was you'd hear:  "Hammie, it was 8:09!"  He'd roll his eyes and keep going, but Grandmama was a firm believer that the little details counted.
4.  Never, never give up.  My grandmother was a passionate woman and a strong woman.  She fought through her life for the health and well-being of her family and herself.  And I'm proud to say she was a fighter until the last.  I saw her last Wednesday, and she had this huge breathing mask on her face, and she couldn't talk well and it was very uncomfortable. At some point during the day, they decided to take it off, and the minute it came off, we heard that clear, strong voice say, "First of all..." and she read the nurse the riot act, making sure she got everything in she had been wanting to say.  Even tiny, sick, unable to move in a hospital bed, she had her spunk and her sharp mind with her until the very end.  We should all be so lucky.

Obituary for my Grandmama

Alli's First Halloween - hanging with her Grandmama

We've spent the rest of the day surrounded by family, enjoying our time together.  It's been such a blessing.