Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Valentine's Day 2014

So I haven't had a chance yet to update on our Valentine's Day this year.  I don't keep much of a secret of the fact that I love Valentine's Day - candy?  Good.  Hearts?  Good.  Pink and red?  GOOOOD.

We made and decorated some delicious heart-shaped cookies the week before.

We stuffed goodie bags for Alli's class with 3D Ninja Turtle valentines, erasers, candy, and pens.  It wasn't Pinterest-mom worthy, but maybe it was a little above and beyond.  The, Thursday before Valentine's, Ryan surprised me with a new Calphalon sauce pot with a strainer lid.  With all of the baby food and home cooking we've been doing, it was a much-appreciated gesture.

In use making pears for Riley Roo
I got up on Friday morning and made pink heart shaped pancakes for Alli.  She still can't figure out how I got them to be pink.  Mom magic.

The girls each got candy and stuffed bears.  Riley got a Fisher Price doctors kit and Alli got a Rainbow Loom.  Ryan got new Razorback sweats and a running shirt.  And I got a dozen roses, gum and Reese's - lucky me!!

Plus Alli made me this super sweet ring on her Rainbow Loom.

Later that day, we had Alli's class Valentine's party.  We decorated cookies, played bingo, and the kids passed out Valentines.  Much lower key than the Minute to Win It Christmas party, but fun nonetheless.

That night, we had a romantic evening in a low-lit restaurant.  And by that I mean we went to Alli's dance in the cafeteria.  It was a wonderful day filled with pink and hearts and love shared with my favorite people.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Resident President

The weekend before last, something special happened.  First of all, my parents came up.  This girl loves her parents so that in itself was special.  We had a weekend of woo piggin' planned - Hog baseball and basketball followed by a horse show for Alli.  Alli, Ryan, and Dad went to the Razorback game.  Alli saw Ribby, almost caught a foul ball, and continued to improve her seed spitting.  She's going to be quite the softball player this spring.  Ryan worked on getting a wicked tan.

To make a special weekend even more special, my boss let Ryan and Dad use his father-in-law's courtside seats for the basketball game.

And it was Riley's first basketball game and the whole family got to be there.

And oh by the way, my favorite former president was there, sitting just rows behind us.

Can't tell who it is?  Let's get a better shot, shall we?  Here he is with the two greatest coaches in Arkansas basketball history, Eddie Sutton and Nolan Richardson.

Can you tell now?  No?  How about now?

That's right, Bill Clinton came to Riley's first Razorback basketball game, along with Eddie and Nolan.  Oh, and the Razorback final four teams.

I was Alli's age when these two were hooping, and I had posters of them both on my walls.  My parents even took me downtown to see the parade after we won the National Championship in 1994.  So being in Bud Walton with them being honored was a little surreal.  So Riley attended her first basketball game with some of the greatest players, coaches, and presidents to ever grace the University of Arkansas.  And we got a Hog win out of the deal, too.

Sunday we went to Alli's horse show, and on the way home the last special thing happened.  We had been telling the family about the park right off of Garland and how some people use it for LARP'ing on occasion.  What's LARP'ing you ask?  It's Live Action Role Playing, and it means in this case that a group of people don actual armor and have fake sword fights.  Well lucky us, LARP'ing was going on right as we passed.  Ryan turned right and we slowed down to watch someone actually have to get carried off from a sword fight.  Talk about capping off a perfect weekend!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Picture Day

Yesterday was spring picture day at Alli's school.  I knew she'd be doing a class picture and an individual picture, and I braced myself for the bi-annual fight.  You know, the one where I want her to wear a nice shirt and let me style her hair, and she wants to wear a t-shirt with her favorite cartoon character on it.  Just in case everyone couldn't tell by the fact that she draws them on everything she owns (and some things she doesn't own).

Friday morning dawned, and we were running late as usual.  I decided to forego the fight and allow Alli to wear whatever she wanted.  Here's how she left that morning:

And maybe a piece of me died a little, but another piece of me grew stronger when I watched her be exactly who she was that day.  I'm pretty confident that one day she'll look back on these pictures and say "Mooooooom, how could you let me wear that on picture day?"  Besides, it was only the spring picture and one class picture I reasoned.  It couldn't be that bad.

Then she walked in Friday afternoon and proclaimed, "I am the luckiest girl in the world!  I got to be in four pictures today - my regular picture, my class picture, my Green Team picture, and my honor choir picture!"  My mouth went dry and I swallowed hard.  "Good baby!"  Growth opportunity for yours truly.

Besides, you just have to let them be who they are.  Even if it isn't who you are.  Clearly I would be fighting a losing battle anyway.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Organic Experience

With us making Riley's baby food, Ryan and I have started shopping at the local natural food store called Ozark Natural Foods.  It started slow with us purchasing the organic produce only.  Then we added beef because it was grass fed and hormone free.  Then it was chicken and eggs.  So now we do a weekly trip there to get half of our groceries, and then we go to Wal-Mart for the other half.  And we're poorer in wealth, but richer in health.   At least, that's what we tell ourselves.

Going into Ozark Natural Foods is intimidating.  First of all, when you pull in the parking lot in your Honda Pilot, you are by far the biggest car in the lot.  The place looks like a Honda Fit convention with some Subarus sprinkled in.  Once you find a spot (which is no small feat) you head inside, careful to grab your reusable shopping bags.  You forgot those one time, and the look the cashier gave you when you had to ask for paper bags still haunts your nightmares.

You grab a shopping cart on the way in.  The shopping carts are teensy.  The size ratio of Ozark Natural Foods shopping carts to Wal-Mart is 3:1.  The store itself is also pretty tiny, so every person's head pops up when you walk in.  On your way to the produce section, you pass by a desk where one employee sits.  Until recently, you weren't entirely sure of his job function except to glare at you with a smug, superior look over his trendy horn-rimmed glasses.  Apparently he can also weigh your jar for the bulk aisle.  Right now, he's just watching and judging.

Now you're in the produce section amongst the shoppers.  It's worth noting here that there are three types of shoppers at ONF:  
  1. Granola.  These people have dreadlocks and/or wear Tevas in December and/or wear clothes that are varying shades of wheat.  They may or may not have gauges in their ears.  They shop here because they actually like kale chips and this is the only place in town they can get them. 
  2. Rich Witches.  These women are dressed in work out clothes but haven't actually sweated yet.  You can tell this because their hair is styled and they have on makeup and jewelry.  They shop here because it's trendy and they don't have to suffer the people of Wal-Mart.
  3. Normal People.  These people are you and me.  If they are new here, they look intimidated - eyes wide, mouths slack.  They have no idea where anything is, and they are overwhelmed with the options.  Who knew there were five different choices of quinoa?  If they aren't new here, they have their heads down and are all business. 
The produce section is eye opening.  The choices in salad greens and sweet potatoes alone are disarming.  And then there are some things that are just unidentifiable.  Like you've never actually seen this veggie in this form before.  Fortunately the staff is there to help you ID which sweet potato is a "normal orange sweet potato," even if they snicker behind your back.

For a while, you avoid every other section of the store.  If you don't know which variety of avocado is normal, how are you going to comprehend the soup aisle, the spice aisle and the dreaded "bulk" aisle? As you're weaving through the meat section, thinking about the poor grass fed cow that was raised just down the road in Greenwood, Arkansas and wondering if you passed him ever in a pasture off the highway, your nine year old asks you, "Mama, what is your favorite store?"  Sort of distracted, you answer "Target!"  That's okay in ONF, right?  Obviously you'd be lying if you said "Ozark Natural Foods" because literal tears are springing to your eyes just because you're so overwhelmed about shopping there.  "Oh, I like Tar-jay too, Mama.  It's my third favorite.  You know what my favorite store is?"

"Um no, Alli, what is it?"  "Toys R Us!"  "Oh, yes, I like Toys R Us."  Which eggs do I get?  Free range?  Cage free?  Certified humane?  ARE THEY SERIOUSLY $20/DOZEN?!  "Do you know what my second favorite store is?"  "No, Alli, what is it?"  Yogurt, yogurt.  Where is the yogurt?  "Wal-Mart!  I just love Wal-Mart!"  SHHHHH, Alli.  Come on.  Everyone is staring.  You said the "W" word!

Embarrassed, you duck your head and keep moving to the checkout.  Rayne, the girl checking you out, asks the question you dread every time.  "Are you an owner?"  No, lady.  I'm not an owner, but I did bring my bags.  Give me my nickel.  You drop the nickel they give to everyone who brings in reusable bags into the charity box and look at the cashier smugly.  

"Mama!  Look, I can see McDonald's from here!"  You turn bright red.  "Mom, no really, there it is.  Can we have it for dinner?  I haven't eaten there this week!  Can we?"  You resist the urge to beeline for the door and abandon your humane eggs and your organic blueberries.  And when you finally make it out of there in one piece, you pat yourself on the back for another week of healthy, if expensive, shopping for your family.  Maybe one day you'll be the pro who is well versed in varieties of quinoa, but today you just celebrate leaving without tears in your eyes.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

All Hail the Queen

You know what I completely forgot to celebrate with you?  I can't believe it - this happened about a month and a half ago.

That's right - The Lowe Down (with a Deion Sanders avatar, no less) won the family Fantasy Football league.

And then I ordered myself a trophy.  It's not as big as the one Ryan was awarded last year, but it'll do pig.

You'll be pleased to know that I had almost no Cowboys on my team, and I attribute my win to that.  Chris Smith put up a heck of a fight at the end - I started sweating it - but The Lowe Down pulled through.  Here's hoping the Lowe dynasty stands strong next year.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Dog Days of Winter

I had the camera out this week, and you've seen the pictures on the blog - Ryan and Alli playing video games in Ryan's birthday post, Alli outside working on Olaf, Riley in her eight month update.

But here are a few I snapped of our boys during the early evening.  The light was shining through our front door, and I think they call this "the golden light" because it's the perfect light for snapping pictures.

Aren't my fur babies beautiful?  Being able to take pictures like this on the auto setting in good light makes me really want to bust out the photography book and use my camera to its full potential!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Snow Much Snow

Well, you'll be astounded to know that after eight snow days this school year already, Mother Nature decided to make it nine (as of this posting)!  Sunday morning we got up to snow flurries.  My mom and dad were in town visiting, and they hurried home, passing over ten cars in the ditch on their way!  Within a few short hours, the snow was really coming down.  We ended up with around five inches by the time it was over, and Ryan had a very cancelled birthday party on his hands.

However, using his keen foresight, Ryan went early in the day to pick up the Slim Chickens order, and we still have enough Slims to feed an army in the event of a zombie apocalypse.  We did have the neighbors over for the Super Bowl, so all was not lost.  All just did not go quite as planned.

It warmed up to 40 degrees on Monday, which means we got a lot of melting.  But it also means that Alli was able to enjoy going out to play in the snow (I asked her to go play with me Sunday when it was coming down and 20 degrees, and she said "Can't you see it's cold out there?!?").  She went over to our neighbors' house for half of the day, and when she came home we decided to make a snowman.

She rolled the snowballs across the yard until they were big enough to stack.  Then we added eyes and a nose.  We worked on the mouth for a little while, but decided we could use a scarf and a hat instead.  Please meet Olaf.

I am sure there were quite a few Olafs built this weekend thanks to Disney's latest movie Frozen.  I highly recommend that one - thanks for jumping on the empowering females train, Disney!!  Alli decided that Olaf could use some arms, so off we went to an undeveloped lot in our subdivision to find some branches.

We found the perfect ones and added them to Olaf.  Alli decided he needed gloves too.

Isn't he great?  She checked outside for him several times later that night.  We're supposed to get more snow this week and weekend (insert ugly cry here).  Is it summer yet?  Not that it matters to Alli - she'll still be in school!!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Happy Birthday, Ryan!

Happy 31st birthday to my wonderful husband Ryan!

Here's hoping your birthday is full of everything you love - video games, family time, chicken wings, college basketball, beer, and bacon!!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Riley {Eight Month Update}

Have nearly three quarters of a year really gone by since Riley was born?  Shouldn't I be used to this now?  Well, guess what - I'm not.  I don't think I'll ever get over how fast time goes by!

Key words to describe Riley this month:

  • Playful.  Riley loves to play on the floor with her toys.  One of her favorite things to do is to play with blocks.  I build towers, and Riley knocks them down.  I put a block on her head, Riley vigorously shakes it off.  I perch a block outside of her elephant, which has circle, square, and triangle cutouts, and Riley pushes it in.  I give her toys while she's in her high chair, Riley throws them onto the floor.  You can tell she's starting to do things for a reaction and she loves to make us laugh!
  • Transparent.  When Riley decided no more reclining in her sling in the bath, she made it known.  When Riley wants to be picked up, she makes it known.  Her cues are so clear these days, you're never left wondering if she's hungry, sleepy, or bored.  Riley lets you know, and she lets you know quickly.
  • Mobile.  Again this month, no crawling.  But Riley can go from a sitting position to laying on the floor in the blink of an eye.  And once she's done that, it's a few quick flips from back to front before she's gotten herself close to whatever she wanted in the first place.  Who needs crawling?  

Riley had her six month checkup a month ago (a little late due to weather and the doctor's scheduling), and it was glowing.  She's a healthy little chub who's progressing just like she should.  The doctor wasn't worried at all about her lack of teeth and slowness to crawl.  And he reassured us that the dry, red skin she's had on her back for a few weeks is eczema.  We're trying some cream by California Baby and have had great results.

Riley has added peas, plums and peaches to her solid food repertoire, and I really owe you a post on baby food making.  We've homemade 100% of the food she's eaten, and I'm planning on starting meats next week!  It makes us feel wonderful to be able to have control over what she's consuming, and it's motivated Ryan and I to make sure we and Alli are eating better too.

I love that she's starting to do things just to get reactions.  She knocks things over when we're playing just so I will laugh or build it again.  I have a hilarious video of her shaking her head every time I put a block on her head, and you can tell she's doing it just to make me laugh.  This kid has personality for days, and I'm in love with her giggle.  It's turned into a belly laugh!!

Happy eight months to my little love bug!!