Sunday, May 13, 2012

Weekend Recap

Remember last week when I suggested we get a little weekend recap every week so that I could prove to myself that I did something?  Guess what.  One week in, and I already have nothing to blog about!  This was the laziest weekend we Lowes have had in a long while, and for someone who typically likes to go go go, I enjoyed. every. minute.  I'll try to make the weekend sound interesting, but no promises.

Friday night Alli went to her first away from home sleepover.  She didn't go far - just next door - but she had a wonderful time.  Ryan and I had planned to have a quiet night at home, but we ended up going to dinner and the baseball game with some friends.  I am so glad we didn't stay in!  The Hogs won it in the 9th inning, and I got to have some margaritas at La Hacienda.  What better way to spend a Friday night?!

Yesterday we went to see a house at 10AM.  I don't think I've discussed it on here, but we're looking to make a move to downtown Fayetteville in the historic district.  I'm dying for an old house to work on and to be close to everything Ryan and I love, but it's a really sought after area, and our price point is pretty competitive down there.  The house was definitely in the perfect location, but it needed a lot of work and wasn't exactly what we were looking for.  We've been looking on and off for a year or so, so I don't mind being painfully patient.  Afterwards we drove around downtown some more, and then went to Masons to get a gift for a friend's daughter who is graduating high school.  We got her the cutest neon Hog tanks, which I fell in love with and may or may not have stood by and stared at longingly.  After that, we grabbed lunch at US Pizza, where my sister works, and then we headed home.  

Now begins my marathon napping session.  I am in NO WAY a napper, but I needed to lay in bed yesterday.  I slept for a while, goofed on my phone, read The Help (which I am SO addicted to right now), and just lazed.  In the mean time, Ryan and Alli did a little shopping, and they came in the room with this:

Oh yes, a cheetah box from Masons.  And inside:

Aren't they the best?  The neon Hog tank I was eyeing, some awesome Sam Edelman sandals, and a big floppy hat.  Guess who has the beach on the brain?
This girl.  [Thanks for the photo bomb, Alli.]
Then Ryan grilled steaks (yummm), and we watched War Horse after Alli went to bed.

Today started off with a long phone call with my mom, a little hooky from church (whoops), and a walk down to the basketball court by our house.  Alli rode her bike without training wheels and I walked the boys.  She and Ryan played frisbee, and I let the boys explore the middle school grounds.

After that, we went to the barn where Alli had a great lesson on Tater Tot and I had a good lesson on a little Arab pony named Hanky Panky.  Then we drove around downtown some more (we do this a lot), and came home.  I napped for 2 hours (what is wrong with me?!!?), and then I got up to do a little housework while Ryan and Alli went to grocery shop and pick up dinner.  I chose takeout from Bonefish...nom nom.  I can't wait.

Aren't they the cutest?!?  

I hope all my mommy friends are having a wonderful Mother's Day!  I know I am.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ode to Fayetteville

You'll have to forgive me today, blog readers.  I feel compelled to let my home city know how I feel about it.  It's a little goofy, a little tongue in cheek, but I do mean it.  You'll be wanting to move here after I'm done, but please don't.  I don't want my little town to grow too much more.

Oh, Fayetteville.  How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.

I thought our relationship would be short-lived.  I thought we'd share four magical years together, and then I'd move back to where I belong.  I thought you were merely a college town, a short stop on the road that is life.  A place study, a place to party, and a place to outgrow.

I spent our first several months together overlooking you.  I longed for Little Rock, my family and friends there.  You were fine, Fayetteville, but you were a means to an end.  Sure, your campus was pretty.  Your Hogs were wonderful.  But you were small.  You were old.  You didn't have the stores I liked and you didn't have the restaurants I liked.  You weren't fast-paced enough, you weren't big enough.  You were fine, but you weren't my town.

Then you started to grow on me, Fayetteville.  With your annual Christmas displays on the square.  With your reverence for all things Razorback.  With the show you put on every fall.  With your homey, small town feel.

As graduation loomed, I wasn't sure I wanted to leave you, Fayetteville.  I felt like we had business to finish.  I felt like we weren't quite done with each other.  I wanted to move back to Little Rock to be with my family.  My husband's departure for his second tour of duty in Iraq was imminent.  I had a three year old to raise alone for 18 months.  I knew that would all go so much easier if I were close to my parents and my in-laws.  But something about you made me stay, Fayetteville.  I didn't appreciate you then like I do now, but I was starting to.

As if to validate that our relationship was to be long term, I bought a house here, Fayetteville.  It's nowhere near where I want to live now, but I didn't know you as well then.  I just knew I wanted to be here.  I wasn't sure why I did it at the time, but now I know.  I couldn't leave.

You haven't always made this easy, Fayetteville.  With your epic ice storms, your 18 inches of snow, your crazy spring weather, and your constant wind.  Oh, the wind.  I don't even notice it now, but it never stops blowing.  You're never still, Fayetteville.  Maybe that's why we get along so well.

And you're weird, Fayetteville.  Funky, the city offices call you.  I agree.  You are home to top level corporate executives, a bike rally, a major university, an annual gay pride parade, a Farmers Market that puts others to shame, a nationally recognized library, numerous trails, and the absolute best fall foliage hands down.

But I love you, Fayetteville.  I love you now more than I ever have.  I love that you're a good place to raise Alli.  I love that your schools are excellent.  I love that you have a young vibe.  I love that while you are a college town, Fayetteville, you are also a family town.  I love that you love the Razorbacks more than I do.  I love that you have artists painting your gutters.  I love that you have this weird hippie mountain town vibe going all the while.

I can't wait to be even closer to the heart of you, Fayetteville.  I can't wait to live in the middle of the action.  I love your old houses, your downtown flavor.  I can't wait to have a piece of that to call my own, a long term place to raise my family.  I cannot predict where my life will take me, Fayetteville, but I know it will never take me far from you.


Pure as the dawn, on the brow of thy beauty.  Watches thy soul from the mountains of God.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pawpaw - An Inspiration

Let me preface this post with saying that I have lost two of my four grandparents in the past five years.  For someone who grew up with all four grandparents living less than 10 miles from her house, whose grandparents picked up her from school regularly, and who spent weekends, lunches, birthday parties, softball games, and every other minor and major event surrounded by her grandparents, the loss of my grandfather a few years ago and my grandmother this spring was incredibly hard for me and my siblings.  I've had the privilege of speaking at both of their funerals, and I was struck when writing for each that I wished so much that I had taken time to tell them these things while they were living.

In an effort to do so moving forward, I'm going to periodically write a piece, when it strikes me, to people who have had an impact on my life.  This time, I'm going to start with my mom's dad, my Pawpaw.

My Pawpaw is the happiest man I've ever met.  He practically has sunbeams coming out of his ears.  His sense of humor is so big it's almost overwhelming, and his happiness is infectious.  This is especially significant when you understand what he's gone through in his life.  As a young boy, Pawpaw was very active.  He played sports, he climbed trees, and he got into trouble like most boys do.  At age twelve, Pawpaw woke up in a hospital with his right leg removed at the hip.  Pawpaw had been diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma, a cancer that at the time had a very high mortality rate.  Amputation seemed to be the only answer.  It would be understandable and expected for a twelve year old boy whose ability to run and play had been stripped from him to hole up and feel sorry for himself.  But whether it was him, his mother, or God - Pawpaw didn't do that.  He learned how to live with one leg, and he developed a personality that was larger than life.

Later in his teen years, Pawpaw was playing baseball, and he caught a ball in the eye.  This led to the removal of that eye.  Did he give up?  Did he think God was out to get him?  Did he run and hide from the world?  Wouldn't you?  I think I would.  But Pawpaw didn't.  He married my grandmother Nini, he raised my aunts and my mother, he got three degrees related to mathematics, and he is the light of my family, the true center of it all.

Pawpaw with baby Alli
As a grandfather, he has been perfect.  He used to pick me up from school and ask me what I was learning about.  And if it was the solar system, dinosaurs, long division, or grammar, he discussed it.  He listened to what I had to say, he asked questions, and he seemed interested.  I'm not sure I would have passed any of my math classes without his over the phone support through college - I almost died when he told me that he sometimes made up differential equations for fun just to see if he could solve them.

He has always loved to play games with us.  As a family, we sit around the kitchen table and play cards, and he is always the leader, the dealer, and the joker.  He always has something funny to say, has that dealer voice on, and has been known to chunk the card deck across the room when we beat him (all in fun of course).   He also knows how to make a mean Coke float.

He is a gifted musician, who can play the piano and has even written his own songs, complete with lyrics.  I developed a love of music from him.  I didn't get his musical chops, by any stretch, but I did gain from him the ability to appreciate music, especially old country like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.  I love that one of his favorite songs is a Waylon Jennings song that's called "I've Always Been Crazy" - here's a snippet of the lyrics:
I've always been crazy, and the trouble that it's put me through.
Been busted for things that I did and I didn't do.
It ain't been so easy, but I guess I shouldn't complain.
I've always been crazy, but it's kept me from going insane.

I've never faced anything on the level that Pawpaw has.  I've never looked at death and overcome it.  I've never soldiered on through what could have been a severe handicap and made it into a blessing.  I've never fought for anything like he has.  And yet, I do not have near the positive outlook that he has.  How can you face all of the things he has face and continue to live a positive, productive, happy life?  That's what makes him a true inspiration to me.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Your Weekly Weekend Recap

Maybe we should start making the weekend recap a weekly event?  I really enjoy it because it gives me a sense of accomplishment to look back at the two days a week I get to spend exclusively on my own time (mostly) and determine that I didn't lay on the couch, watch HGTV, and eat Cheetoes the entire time like I wanted to.

I woke up Saturday to an empty house!  Ryan got up early and took Alli to get birthday presents for the two parties she had that day and he let me sleep in.  Sleeping in around here is 8:30AM, but I was grateful for it.  I got a little backyard workout in (lunges, pushups, squats, etc), and somewhere in that time, they came back and left again for the first birthday party of the day for Fletcher at Gymnastic Joe's.  While they were gone, I got a run in, picked up the house, and showered.  After that, it was my turn for birthday party duty, and I took Alli to Isaiah's party at Lokomotion.  Alli played video games, laser tag, and drove Go Karts while I made small talk with the parents and played on my phone.

Bad Mom Confession Time:  I don't like birthday parties.  I go out of obligation and the worry that if I don't go to theirs they won't come to mine.  But I cannot stand them!  First of all, I barely know any of the  parents or kids in Alli's class other than the kids she talks about all the time.  Second of all, for all I know, the only thing I have in common with any of these parents is where we live and how old our kids are.  And third, I hate the routine of play, cake, presents, play.  I don't really want to watch your kids open ten Barbies.  Take that home.

But this party took a turn for the better when Alli drove a Go Kart for the first time.  I have to tell you, I am quite the Go Kart driver.  I take no prisoners, I spare no souls, and I feel the need for speed.  I was anxious to see how my little protege would do.  I should have known that she would putter along, carefully take all of the corners, be overly cautious about bumping people, and let everyone pass her.  I had to stop myself from shrieking "HIT THE GAS, ALLI!!!!!!" so that I didn't alienate myself from my birthday party parent friends.
Do you see anyone else on the track?  NO!  They all passed her!!!!
Then Alli and I went to the mall to grab her some new kicks.  It's been a while since the poor thing has had a new pair of tennis shoes.  I ignored her pleas for Bella Ballerina shoes and grabbed several pairs of Nikes for her to try.  She picked the ones that made her look the fastest.  But she kept complaining that they felt weird in the toe.  It's called "space", honey.

And then, as I end most of my shopping trips, we stopped by Great American Cookie and split a cookie cake slice.  Thanks for the habit, Mom.

That night we walked down to the basketball court by our house, shot some hoops (don't I sound so natural saying that?), let Alli practice riding her bike without training wheels, and played on the playground.  Ryan's allergies bothered him so much that he rubbed his eyes until they were swollen, and he ended up looking like the cartoon character Droopy for the rest of the night and much of this morning, which Alli happily reminded him on a regular basis.

We went to church this morning, despite having Droopy with us, and then we headed out to Prairie Grove for Alli's third horse show.

Alli won two first places and two seconds, and I can confidently say she should have won three - I think they were just being nice to the four year old she was riding against.  She truly did amazing at this show, and I am so proud of the progress she is making as a young rider.  And don't you just love Sprinkles?  She is seriously the cutest pony.

So now Ryan is taking a nap (I won't call him Droopy again, I promise), and I'm blogging, and Alli's playing a video game.  I'm thinking a grocery store trip is in order tonight, so I'm off to Pinterest to find some new recipes.  I think my family is getting tired of my rotation of brandied pork chops, braised chicken cabernet, and spaghetti.  Then it's an early morning and the start of another work week.  Enjoy your last few hours of the weekend!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Best Lunch Ever

Today was Alli's annual doctor's visit.  We haven't had to go to the doctor a lot lately (knock on wood!), so I scheduled her annual check-up just to make sure everything was going well.  I scheduled it for 10:30AM, knowing that would mean I could take her to get some lunch afterwards, which I try to do any time we have an appointment.  I get to hear all the time from her about how other mommys come eat lunch with their kids, so the few times a year I am in Fayetteville around lunch time, I try to make sure we spend it together.  Darn you, stay at home moms.  Thanks for adding to my guilt.

She's always really worried about time, so when I told her I would pick her up at 10:15 and I showed up at 10:17, I heard about it.  Then she jabbered the whole way to the doctor's office about her day and the upcoming weekend.  Like seriously.  I couldn't hear myself think.  I missed the turn into the entrance of the office because she was yakking in my ear.  Where does this kid get it?!?!

So anyway, in we went.  First they measured her - she's 4'1" - and then they took her weight (48 lbs).  After than was blood pressure, some general questions, and then we waited for her doctor.  I really love her pediatrician.  Several years ago when I was afraid Alli was having trouble talking (ah, those were the days...), he came highly recommended from a friend of my mom's who works at Children's Hospital.

Dr. Ball came in, read her measurements, and told me she was in the 50th percentile on her height.  I couldn't believe it!  She's always been taller than most kids her age, but I guess the world is catching up to her.  I should have known something was up when she went from the back row of her kindergarten picture to the second row of her first grade picture.  I went from the back row of my kindergarten picture to the front row of my first grade picture, but I was really hopeful she would get Ryan's height.  Looks like she's doomed.

She was in the 25th percentile on her weight, and he said she was skinny, but not too skinny.  Trust me, I can tell by how I can't get any clothes to fit her.  I have to tell you, every time we go and I hear she's skinny, it's kind of a relief.  This baby was in the 98th percentile on her weight when she was three months old.  We had a chunk on our hands.

Alli got a great report from the doctor, and then we headed to McDonald's.  Her choice, of course.  She got her usual, I opted for Chicken Selects (which I don't recommend), and we went and sat in the play place.  After she ate her food, opened her toy (the Victorious microphone she's been wanting!! SCORE!!), and played on the play place for ten minutes, she asked if we could grab a cookie on the way out.  Of course we did, and when we got in the car, she proclaimed this "The Best Lunch Ever."

In your face, stay at home mom.

Disclaimer - I have lots of friends who are SAHMs, and I respect what they do.  It's pure jealousy and guilt.  I have a lot of that to go around, and I write all of this in fun.  Mostly.