Friday, November 28, 2008

A perfect night out

Last week, Jim and I had a night out. We had been planning for a couple of weeks to attend an event at the Philadelphia Seaport Museum for ORU Alums in the Philly area. The new Chairman of the Board, Mart Green, would be hosting a Q & A session after a buffet dinner at the Museum. Since his family's $70 million donation to the university, ORU has been making many campus and other improvements and this gathering in Philadelphia was an attempt to keep Alumni informed and excited about what is happening back in Tulsa.

We had Jim's parents lined up to babysit and we left the house around 6:00 as soon as his mom arrived. The dinner started at 7:00 and the Q & A forum at 8:00. We knew we didn't leave ourselves much time for unexpected delays, but we figured at the worst we'd arrive about 15 minutes late to the dinner. After only about 25 minutes of driving we hit serious traffic. We kept telling ourselves it would clear up any second, after we got passed this stretch of highway or after we got passed that mall. But it didn't clear up. And we found ourselves arriving in the city just before 8:00.

So we weighed our options. We had wanted to be responsible Alumni, but since the dinner would be over, was it worth it to sit through an hour of questions when we were starving and this was a rare night out of the house without any kids? After our grumbling stomachs convinced us to skip the event altogether, we started putting together a new plan. Jim pulled out his iPhone and in 60 seconds had directions from our current location on the highway to Rittenhouse Square where we knew there was a fantastic steak place we had been to about 4 years ago.

So we changed our course and after arriving at the square, took on the next challenge of finding parking at a meter somewhere within the vicinity. After driving around for 10 minutes and not seeing anything in any direction, we were about to give up and head to another restaurant when miraculously a car pulled away from a meter directly in front of us, only 30 feet from the steak house. I almost cried as I felt this sense that God was somehow orchestrating our evening for us, even down to the parking. We breathed a prayer as we walked toward the restaurant that we wouldn't have to wait to get a table since it is strongly recommended that you have a reservation at this particular place. And as expected the hostess greeted us with "Do you have a reservation?" "No" we replied. She looked at us and asked "Is it just the two of you?" "Yes." And at that simple reply, she lead us to a table at the front of the restaurant overlooking the Christmas lights on the square. It was perfect.

We took full advantage of this surprising change in plans and ordered calamari, the house salad, and the most exquisite fillets you could imagine. And, to end the already amazing meal on a sweet note, we split a piece of carrot cake that turned out to be way more than we could handle. So we left with a doggy bag full of steak and carrot cake and hearts full of a romance rekindled. We didn't realize until we were in the moment how much we needed dinner out together. We talked and flirted and laughed and soaked up every moment. And I know that the whole time we had been looking forward to attending the ORU function, God was looking forward to surprising us with a more perfect night out.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Thankful Prayer

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever." Psalm 136:1

I thank you for my life and that you are alive in me. I thank you for my husband's love and that he is a good father to our children. I thank you for my beautiful Kyra and her spunky personality. I thank you for my sweet Kylie and her joyful spirit. I thank you that Kyra and Kylie and any children yet to come will love you with all their heart all the days of their lives. I thank you for our dog, Chase, and the fun he adds to our family.

I thank you for my parents, who showed me the way to a loving relationship with you. I thank you for my dad who has been a model of Christ for me as long as I can remember. I thank you for my mom and that I am able to call her one of my closest friends. I thank you for my brother Daniel and that you will one day get a grip on his heart and reunite him with you and with our family. I thank you for my sister Krystal and her sensitive spirit toward others. I thank you that you have given her a wonderful husband in Sean and that you've given them the gift of children. I thank you for my sister Lindsay and how you have revealed yourself to her this year. I thank you that you have a perfect plan for her future. I thank you for my brother Ethan and his sense of humor. I thank you that you guide his steps into the unknowns after high school.

I thank you for my father-in-law and how you have prospered him in business and as a vessel for your work all over the world. I thank you for my mother-in-law and how you've used her life to bless the lives of so many others. I thank you for Susan and that you have shown yourself to her and that she was paying enough attention to notice. I thank you for Declan and Katie and how they have blessed us by helping out with the girls. I thank you that you have blessed them with good jobs and a new home and a cute little puppy. I thank you for Wit and the talents you have blessed him with. I thank you that he has been able to bless others through his gifts.

I thank you for Godly friends. I thank you for women with whom I can study your word. I thank you for health and protection for myself and all those I love. I thank you for joy, peace, patience, hope, and faith. I thank you for your love even when I don't deserve it. I thank you for the cross and what took place upon it. I thank you that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I thank you that you go before me and always prepare the way.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Its Party Time!

We had the pleasure of celebrating Kyra's 2nd birthday both in Oklahoma and in Pennsylvania. And although I don't think Kyra fully grasped the concept of what a birthday is, she did appreciate all the attention and gifts and opportunities to eat lots and lots of sugar.

Party #1: November 15th at GP and Grammy's house in Tulsa, OK
My mom hosted a wonderful party for Kyra that was a nice little family reunion of sorts. My Grandparents were there along with a few of my aunts and one crazy uncle and some of my cousins and 2nd cousins, who are conveniently old enough to play with/entertain Kyra. We ate lunch and then congregated in the family room for Kyra to open presents. We then ran into a minor delay when my Aunt Cindy gave Kyra a lollipop just as I had her ready to dive into her gifts. It quickly became apparent that no presents would be opened until Kyra had devoured the sucker. Fortunately(although the dentist would probably disagree), Kyra likes to bite lollipops rather than suck on them, so after a few minutes we were back in business.

She got some books with accompanying CD's, clothes, markers, glue, play-doh, a Veggie Tales DVD, and a totally awesome, what little girl wouldn't love it, pink play tent complete with detachable butterfly wings that can be worn (as modelled by my nephew in the picture below). Naturally we put Jim to work immediately setting up the fun tent and the kids (and several adults) had a good time playing in it.

Next it was cake time and after singing to Kyra, she actually blew out her candles herself. The cake was quite delicious and I'm typically critical of store bought cakes, but this cake was from Merrit's Bakery, so it was seriously the next best thing to making the cake myself.

Party #2: November 22nd at our house in Pennsylvania
After having an absolutely insane morning prepping the house for the party, our guests arrived and we got the good times under way. Our friends from our Bible Study all came with their kids and Kyra's Uncle Wit joined us as well.

We had lunch and then immediately jumped in to the presents as Kyra is quite the gift opening pro now after her first party only one week prior. She got some Hello Kitty goodies, clothes, PJ's, a ball and glove, another Veggie Tales DVD (we heart Veggie Tales), and more play-doh complete with all the fun accessories (cookie cutters, rolling pin, etc.). Oh, and her very own bouncy castle. Yes, after not buying her any presents for her first birthday or first 2 Christmases (we knew she wouldn't care or remember anyway), we went all out and got her a moon bounce.

We cleared all the furniture from our formal dining room (who needs a formal dining room anyway) and set it up so Kyra and her friends could jump and slide to their little hearts content. And all the adults had a blast watching them and taking pictures and hoping that all the kids would wear themselves out enough to nap for a long time afterward.

As the party neared an end, we sang "Happy Birthday" and cut into the cute little Hello Kitty cake I made to go along with the party's Hello Kitty theme. And as I side note, there are no Hello Kitty cake pans currently in existence so I found myself having to hand cut the shape of the cake, which was a very crumby experience (pun).

All in all, Kyra had a very fun birthday, celebrated with lots of cool people, and got many much appreciated gifts.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Leaving on a jet plane...

and now we're back again!
We left PA on Thursday, the 13th, and flew to Tulsa to celebrate Kyra's 2nd birthday and introduce Kylie to her great grandparents and the rest of my extended family.

The flights to and from Tulsa went incredibly smooth. They were busy, but smooth. I had packed a backpack for Kyra filled with snacks and distractions to keep her occupied on the plane. Granted, part of my planned activities included an hour and a half long DVD watching session. And had it happened, the ride would've been a lot less busy. However, when you discover at 30,000 feet that you never reinstalled a DVD decoder on your laptop after your hard drive crashed several months back, you're basically screwed. And you have to improvise. So Jim and I made games out of anything and everything around us in order to keep Kyra entertained in 10 minute increments for the better part of 4 hours. You'd be surprised at how fascinating it can be for a 2 year old to decorate her daddy with princess stickers. Kylie on the other hand mostly slept. That is as soon as she gave into the fact that we would have to hold her during her naps. (She generally prefers to be laid down and left to herself while sleeping.)

On Friday morning we hit the ground running and started our jam packed visit with a torturous session at Picture People. All I wanted was to get a generations picture with my mom and my girls and then a couple of pictures of Kyra and Kylie together as I don't have many and Kylie is already 4 months old. We arrived at the studio dressed and optimistic, despite the fact that Kyra had a breakdown only 8 months earlier when we tried to get Easter pictures taken. But Kyra managed to recreate the hysteria of that incredibly tense and torturous session all over again and this time there were many more witnesses to the chaos. Although Jim wasn't going to be in any pictures I brought him along for moral support. And he did a great job taking care of Kyra as she was crying and clawing and turning all sorts of shades of red in the face that even the best photo editing programs couldn't repair. I of course kept trying to get her calm enough to attempt the shots of her with Kylie and ended up pushing everyone too far. We finally waved our white flag and everyone cleared the room so Jim and I could "work things out" (translation: so that I could freak out at him and vice versa until we regained our sanity).

The trip wasn't a total loss since we were able to bribe Kyra with fruit snacks at the beginning of the portrait session long enough to get this shot:
But the pictures I had intended to have done of my two girls turned out like this:
Not that I'm complaining. Seeing this picture of Kylie after all the stress we had gone through made us all smile and forget the intensity of the chaos of the previous moments.

We left the mall and had lunch at Panera Bread Co. where I met up with my high school cheer coach and caught up on the past few years. She is one of the few women I admire and respect so it was refreshing to get to have lunch with her.

On Saturday we had a birthday party for Kyra (which I'll write more about in a later post). And then Jim headed off to the ORU vs. TU basketball game with a long time friend of ours (who also happens to be a TU fan). Jim phoned me after the game and I took the girls to meet him and Ashley and his wife Mindy and their 2 boys for dinner and some play time with the kids. We just love their family and wish so bad that we could see them more often!

Sunday we had a big family lunch with ribs and chicken and bologna from my Aunt's church BBQ. Afterward we headed to the park to try and get a picture of the entire family that would presumably end up in my mom's Christmas cards. After Friday's photo fiasco, we decided we had to be very strategic this go round. We agreed that we would unleash Kyra to play wherever she wanted and as she was playing the rest of us would gather around to try and get a good shot. And it worked. We all ran from one play area to the next chasing after Kyra and quickly snapping pictures before Kyra realized what was happening. We even managed to get a good picture of our little family foursome: What you don't see in this picture is the rest of my family standing behind the camera singing "If you're happy and you know it stomp your feet!" and then jumping up and down and crunching the leaves like crazy people. But it captured Kyra's attention and even made her smile!

Sunday night we farkled it up on the living room floor (it's a dice game... so get your mind out of the gutter!) and finally got to just relax with my family for a little bit.

We were only in Tulsa for a few days and we crammed a lot into that short time frame. We felt like we arrived with a checklist in hand and were constantly ticking boxes the entire trip. We just barely caught our plane leaving Tulsa on Monday morning and touched down in Philly around 2:30 that afternoon. We had no major delays and all our luggage made it to Tulsa and home again safely, so I really have no complaints. Although, I could argue that the economy parking bus was way too crowded on our return to PA, but they always are and we survived, so all is well.

Friday, November 21, 2008

So much to blog about, so little time

I know I've been away from my blog for a while. We've been crazy busy with birthdays and trips and house cleaning and doctors appointments and all kinds of fun (even a date night). I've collected some nice stories and pictures that I can't wait to share, but unfortunately I will have to wait for now. I promise that I will do my best to immortalize these wonderful experiences in my blog as soon as possible.

I believe in Santa

Kyra turned 2 last Saturday and we're having a little party to celebrate with our friends and family in PA tomorrow. Naturally, that means I had to go to Wal-Mart this morning to get those last minute things you need to have THE perfect party.

It was snowing when I arrived at Wal-Mart, so to cut down on the number of things I had to carry while running (literally) into the store, I left the diaper bag in the car. We hadn't been down 2 aisles yet when Kyra started asking for her drink, which was in the diaper bag in the car. She was getting frustrated that I didn't have anything for her, so I began to give her the various items I was buying to entertain her. She would shake, twist, tug, and finally place each item in the shopping cart behind her. I didn't pay much attention to the fact that one particular item had stayed on her lap for quite a while. I was too busy picking out bread and waiting in line at the deli counter for my number to come up.

As I stood in a stupor of thought about which items I still needed to get, something jolted me back to reality. I heard a little voice say "MMMM!" It was the cutest little sound, accompanied by the cutest little smile a child could give. Which could only mean one thing.... Kyra was eating something.... something delicious. And that's when I noticed that the bag of M & M's never made it into the shopping cart. Kyra had strategically chewed a tiny hole into the bag, just big enough to suck little pieces of chocolate heaven through. I laughed as I stood there impressed by her accomplishment.

When my moment of amusement passed I took the bag of candy from her and placed it into the cart, way out of reach of little arms. She didn't react immediately, but as I left the deli counter to collect a few more items, she started to lose it. Not that I blame her. She was hungry and she had had a taste of one of the finest foods in the world. I'd be mad if someone had taken that away from me too. So I tried to calm her down the best I could while still shopping. After a couple minutes I thought I was going to go crazy. She was twisting and turning underneath the seat belt and whining... oh the whining! It was almost too much.

But mere seconds before I lost it, someone interfered. Kyra and I were both startled by a voice behind us saying, "You better be good 'cause I'm watching!" We turned our heads and found ourselves face to face with a charming older gentleman. He had white hair tucked up beneath a sock hat and a white beard that nearly reached his belly button. He was jolly and round and everything you'd picture a certain Christmas icon to be, only he wore brown work boots with khaki pants and a tan winter coat rather than a velvety red suit. Before Kyra or I could make sense of him, he handed her a candy cane out of his shopping cart, smiled, and moved on to look at the apples. She was baffled and finally quiet.

She immediately snapped the hook off the candy cane and began sucking on it as if she'd had 100 candy canes before (when in reality, that was her first). We finished our shopping on a pleasant note thanks to the candy cane. But what struck me about it was the lack of sticky mess that usually accompanies a treat of that nature. No drool coming down the chin, no sticky fingers or clothes, nothing. I mean, just yesterday Kyra had a sucker at the doctor's office and it was on EVERYTHING, so I'm dumbfounded by the lack of stickiness from the candy cane. Which made me think... maybe that really was you-know-who, since he gave us both a gift.

I know around the holidays a lot of stores advertise that this certain jolly ol' soul shops with them, but its is all a bunch of lies. Take it from me, Santa shops at Wal-Mart.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Crafty Kyra

This week Kyra impressed me with her adept ability to use a glue stick. I didn't even have to show her what to do. I simply put the glue stick in front of her and presto! she began gluing away.

How is it that toddlers have an uncanny innate ability to use glue? As a parent we teach our kids to walk and talk and tie their shoes, but when it comes to glue, no training necessary. Is it because glue falls into the "mess" category? You know, you don't have to teach a kid how to make a mess, they just do. That might explain it.

Regardless, Kyra's incredible skill with a glue stick resulted in some adorable moments and produced pictures that would make her art teacher aunt, Katie, proud. :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


At the ripe old age of 113 days, Kylie is going bald. Yes folks, there is now a spot on the back of her head whence all beautiful redish hair has now left. It has been rubbed away from countless days and nights of frantic head turning to see what is going on in the world around her. (She is, after all, a curious little being.) As I rub my hand over the bare landscape of her cranium, I feel tiny little sprouts of new growth trying to spring forth and replace what has been lost. "And where did all that beautiful hair go to?" you ask. I reply:(click on the image for a closer look)

So long little hairs... I have to do the laundry.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Roughing it

Jim's Bible study is currently going through the book Wild At Heart. The book has opened his eyes to the wild creation God intended man to be and with that in mind, the guys planned a camping trip to help them get back in touch with their rustic nature.

They took off Saturday afternoon around 2:00 with just the provisions they would need to rough it for 24 hours and directions to a campsite near Harrisburg. About 5 hours later, I received a call from one of the other wives who was tickled pink over the boys current camping status. As I had not spoken to Jim since his departure, she filled me in on the major details. She told me that upon arriving at the site, they learned that November 1 is the start of hunting season which meant they would not be permitted to camp at this particular location. They didn't have a backup plan, so they were improvising the best they could and at the moment they were grilling their hot dogs in her Aunt and Uncle's backyard.

Shortly after my conversation with her, Jim sent me a picture from his iPhone of the Messiah vs Elizabethtown soccer game they were watching from Messiah's campus. Then a couple hours later I received a call from Jim stating they had finally made it to a campsite and were setting up camp (at 9:45pm).

The next day Jim arrived home earlier than expected and filled me in on the rest of the details. Apparently after the soccer game they went to a Hampton Inn to get rooms for the night, but the cost was $135 per room. When the employee at the front desk wouldn't accept their counteroffer of $100 per room, they took her recommendation and found another campsite near Hershey Park where they were allowed to stay. As they were getting things set up, Jim went a little ways into the woods to break up wood for the fire. In doing so he unintentionally stirred up a yellow jacket nest and was stung on the back and the leg by some of the startled victims. Never having had a reaction to bee stings before, he assumed he was fine and he and the guys finally began the camping part of their camping trip. After a couple of hours Jim was itching all over and his lips felt swollen, so he and another guy went on a hunt for drugs to help alleviate the discomfort. Since it was already so late, they tried 4 locations before finally finding an open store where Jim could buy some Benadryl. Jim said he felt better an hour later and then finally went to bed around 2:30. On Sunday the guys woke up with the morning light, ate eggs and sausage cooked over their fire, downed a few gallons of coffee, and packed up the truck to head home.

When Jim got home, he showered, ate some pizza, and then crashed on the couch for almost 3 hours. The perfect way to get reacquainted with civilization after getting in touch with your wild side. (Not to mention the perfect way to get over horrendous yellow jacket stings! His skin was so irritated and swollen where he had been stung. Blah.)


I had it all planned out. Now that Kyra is almost 2 years old, I figured she might appreciate a little trick or treating at our local (despite the fact that it takes me 30 minutes to get there) mall. The mall starts the festivities at 4:00 pm on Halloween and I had planned to be there just before then so we could get through the entire mall with enough time left to get home and greet the vast number of trick or treaters that make their way through our neighborhood each year (nevermind that most of them don't live anywhere near here). I planned on Kyra taking an early nap so she would be refreshed and ready to hit the mall running in her adorable pink poodle costume. She would love it. I would love taking pictures of it. You would love seeing the pictures and hearing the adorable story of her first trick or treat experience. But alas there is no love.... because there are no pictures, no stories. It didn't happen.

Instead, Kyra woke up from her nap with a fever of 101.3. Rather than donning the cutest little pink poodle costume ever and collecting candy from all the over priced retailers, Kyra spent Halloween as a little hot potato, sitting on the stairs with Mom-Mom (her Grandma) and watching all the (non)neighborhood kids come to our door in their fabulous get-ups.

I was very sad for her that now she has to wait a whole year before she has the chance to trick or treat. (And sad for the super cute poodle costume that will now have to wait for Kylie to grow into it.) On the plus side however, Kyra did get to discover the deliciousness of Reese's Pieces candy. I mean I had to give them to her. Isn't that what they gave ET to make him feel better? Oh no wait... that's what they used to lure him into the woods. Oops, my bad.