Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas 2010

I was in Uganda the first two weeks of December so our family had to cram a lot of Christmas in the last two weeks! Tis the season! It was a whirlwind but we made lots of fun memories!

We decorated the Christmas tree. I accidentally deleted the pics of the girlz decorating the tree! Ugh! :-(

The girlz attended our homeschool Co-Op's Christmas party...

We saw the Nutcracker with the Simon Squirrels...

We went to Utica Square to see Santa and the Nutcracker vignettes. (Correction - I went to Utica Square to see Santa and the Nutcracker vignettes. The girlz went to satisfy their mother and get a free cookie.)

We took the girlz shopping to buy gifts for each other...

We watched Family Time With Santa - a countdown to Christmas and one of our corny traditions. This may have to be our last year to watch this video. Too much torture on mom and dad.

We attended the Christmas PJ Party at Chick-fil-A with the Simon Squirrels...

We read The Nativity by Mark Weimer. We really enjoyed it and it helped remind us about where our focus should be this Christmas season.

We bought a goat on for a family in a third world country. Some of our family members that usually get worthless gifts from us had their $ go towards the goat. Merry Christmas! ;-)

We had fun celebrating Christmas Eve at Steve's parent's house...

And here's pics of Christmas at our house...

Christmas lunch at Steve's aunt and uncle's house...

And Christmas night we donned our Snuggies and took my mom to look at Christmas lights. Oh yes we did. You're jealous, I know ;-)

My sister and her boys came to see us from OKC and we celebrated Christmas with my mom. They gave us Kids Dance for the Wii which was way fun. We opened gifts and have a yummy turkey dinner...

We went to the Aquarium...

And saw the Lights Over Rhema...
Lots of fun memories from Christmas 2010!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"M's" New Do With a Purpose

Our 11 year-old, "M", has been patiently growing her hair out long so she could donate it to Locks of Love. She's wanted to cut it off for a long time now but the thought of her helping out another person who lost their hair to cancer kept her motivated to keep growing it out. Locks of Love requires hair to be at least 10" long and she finally hit that mark so I took her to get it cut one day last week. I think she looks cute although too bad for her - everyone says she looks like me now ;-)

Here's a few before, during & after pics...

Now our 8 year-old, "A" is trying to grow her hair out so she can donate it, too. Only 2 more inches to go! Almost there!

Straight No Chaser - 12 Days of Christmas Mix

Had to post this video for my girlz - they love to watch it over and over again ;-)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hope Within Our Reach

As mentioned a few weeks ago, I was invited to go to Uganda with Project Hope Worldwide. Well, I just returned and had an amazing experience while in Africa. I've started to post my journal entries on my "Uganda blog" here. We saw lots of sadness and poverty but had happy moments, too. I needed to see it with my own eyes. I put together this video with some of the pictures I took while on our trip. I encourage anyone considering going to a 3rd world country to please try to go if you can. It's life changing and you'll see everything with new eyes.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Nutcracker Reflections

One of our favorite Christmas traditions is to see the Nutcracker with my friend, Brandi, and her two girls. Today marks our third year we've watched it together and we always have so much fun. I found a few pics from years past and thought it was neat to compare them and see how much the girls have changed. Our little girls are growing up into young ladies before our eyes...




I've been taking "M" to the Nutcracker ever since she was very little. Here's a pic of us when she was five years old - pre-glasses, even and I have noticeably fewer wrinkles! ;-)

Here's a preview of the ballet at the Tulsa PAC. It was AmAzInG - I highly recommend it to anyone considering going this year! Such great talent and an interestingly different take on the Nutcracker as it is set in the Roaring 20's in France.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Girly Me Missions

My girlz have a website called "Girly Me Missions". It's a little ministry they started with some of their friends. They crochet and make things to sell and all of their profits are donated to Project Hope Worldwide. I'm so proud of them for using their talents to serve God and others. They totally do this on their own and truly have a passion for what they are doing. They have some pretty cute stuff on their site so check them out ;-)

This is what "M" made this weekend and will be adding it to their website soon.

A super cute outfit for dolls...

And a cup cozy with a crocheted flower attached...

One of my favorite things on their website are these adorable sleeping bags that my girlz friend, Emily, makes. They are the perfect size for Webkinz or American Girl dolls...

And "A" made a whole bunch of bracelets for me to give to the kids that I meet in Uganda on my upcoming trip...

Another sweet girl with a big heart is a friend of my girlz, Makenzie. She has a website called "Punky Monkey Missions". She also makes things and donates her profits to charity. Her latest "adventure" is making mats for the homeless from plarn, which is made from recycled plastic bags. Makenzie has been asking for donations of bags and has received a TON! Recycling for a great cause - love it! At Girl's Club last week, all the girls pitched in and actually made 2 HUGE balls of plarn which will make it much easier for Makenzie to crochet into mats. They had a blast making it ...

Loooove those girls! Such big hearts ;-)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Craft Night With Friends

I love to read the Keeper's Ministry blog and I especially love to read it at Christmas time because they post FaBuLoUs gift giving ideas that you can make. One day last week, a couple of friends of mine came over and we had a Craft Night. We loooove Craft Night because it's a fun time of hanging out -  gabbing, eating and creating!

My friend, Brandi, got her inspiration from the Keeper's Ministry blog here - it's a "Family Rules" canvas. I looooove it! She did a great job and I can't wait to copy it someday ;-)

My friend, Jessica, actually found a craft in a closet at home that's been tucked away for years that she had never started. It's a cute little Santa frame with kind of a vintage Christmas theme. It turned out so adorable! Love it!!!

And I also got my inspiration from the Keeper's Ministry blog. They are scrapbooked wooden letter blocks. Here's how they turned out...

Such fun - looking forward to the next Craft Night. I think I'm going to try my hand at the Wipe-Off Boards made from picture frames. I think they'd make neat Christmas gifts!

Our Family Photos

Photos by Brandi Simons

Monday, November 22, 2010

If Earth Was a Golf Ball

This video was played at our church yesterday. It's by Louie Giglio and called "How Great Is Our God". It's one of the best messages I've ever heard - especially great if you don't believe in God or if you are questioning your faith. It sure puts things into perspective of how small we are and how great God is.

If you liked that video, you'll like this one sung by Chris August.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Backwards Birthday Party

"M" celebrated her 11th birthday last night at a super fun party place in Collinsville called Soiree. My friends, Misty and Fawn, are the owners and they know how to do a party up right! This is such a busy time of the year and with my trip coming up - it was a HUGE blessing for me to leave the party planning to the professionals! And I'm pretty sure this was one of "M's" favorites of all time!

She wanted to have a "Backwards Party" but it wasn't one of the options Soiree had available. However, they were very flexible and ended up liking the idea so much, they added it to their list of themes! I think I had as much fun as the girls did - I can't even remember the last time I laughed so much.

Their windows were decorated super cute for Christmas. And the inside was decorated with "M's" favorite color scheme - black, pink and white. Since it was a Backwards Party, everyone wore their clothes backwards or inside out - they all looked so hilarious! When the girls arrived at the party, Misty and Fawn yelled, "Goodbye! I hope you had a great time! See you later!" The girls received name tags with their names written backwards and the entire night was spent trying to say things backwards or the opposite of something. I'm pretty sure I drove everyone nuts by the end of the night taking pics and yelling out corny things like, "Look away!", "Spread apart and frown for the picture!", etc. Parents are supposed to be corny, though, right?! 

Shortly after everyone arrived, we sang "You To Birthday Happy!"...

Then it was time to eat. We had pizza - AFTER cake, of course. Steve's mother made some AwEsOmElY cute and yummy backwards cupcakes (frosting on the inside). The chairs were on the tables so the girls had to eat their food underneath - it cracked me up! While the girls were eating, everyone shared what they "didn't" like about "M"...

Backwards Musical Chairs was next...

Followed up with opening gifts, then a fun game of "Sardines" - a.k.a. Backwards Hide and Seek (the next few videos are dark because the lights were out)...

Of course, they did some karaoke-ing...

And we finished the night with a little Cha Cha Slide...

Such a fun party! I highly recommend Soiree to anyone seeking a place to have a birthday party or special occasion! They did a FAB job!!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy 11th Birthday, Sweet Girl!

Our oldest daughter, "M", turned 11 yesterday. I did a slideshow for "A" for her last birthday so I thought I'd do one for "M" this year. It's kinda long and I don't expect anyone to watch it - I just wanted to make it as a keepsake for her. She has brought our family so much joy and even though it's kinda sad to see her grow up, I thank God every day for the sweet, young lady she has become. She's beautiful inside and out and has such a heart for serving others. Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Our Annual Trip to Branson

This time every year, we go to Branson with Steve's parents and his sister and her family. We have a great time being together as a family and celebrating birthdays. This year we celebrated Steve's mom and sister's birthday, along with my nephew, Riley, and "M" is turning 11 in a few days so we celebrated her birthday, too.

We typically stay at the Thousand Hills Condos but this year and the last time we went, we stayed at The Majestic. It's the perfect size for our three families to stay in one condo...

We spent Sunday at Silver Dollar City. This is the best time of the year to go because they have all their Christmas decorations out and we love to watch the Christmas shows and parades...

Our 8 year-old, Abby, is on this ride with her cousin and uncle. I wanted to ride it, but it was too cold outside for me so I wimped out!

And here's another fast ride "A" and her cousin rode. Too swirly for me!

The best part of the night - watching the lighting of their HUGE Christmas tree and singing Christmas carols...

And on our last day in Branson, we went shopping at Tanger Outlet then to what we call the "Christmas Village". They have lots of neat shops, including our favorite, "Kringles Christmas Shop". The girls always pick out an ornament for our tree there every year. Since they started horse back riding lessons this year and are way into horses, they naturally picked out horse ornaments...

Can't wait to go again next year - such fun memories!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Jars of Clay & Brandon Heath Concert

We recently saw Jars of Clay and Brandon Heath in concert with our friends, the Lee's. I'm kind of nutso about concerts and haven't been to one in a while so it was great to see them live. Here's a few pics from our fun night out...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Nice Surprise

My dad was in town yesterday for a CPA Convention at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. After it was over, we met him for dinner then he came to our house for a visit.

He surprised me with a DVD he had made from slides he found of my birth. Yes, I said "slides". I'm that old. And yes, most of them are in black and white. I just thought it was really cool because I have never seen any of these pictures before. I was born in an army hospital in Augsburg, Germany and of course, back then, men weren't allowed to be in the birthing rooms. He did take a lot of pictures, though. He was really into photography at the time and loved taking pictures and developing his own photos. It was neat to see pics of the hospital itself, the doctor who delivered me, my nurse and of course, I love to see the pictures of my parents holding me. Here's some of the photos he took...

Pics at the hospital -

Pics post-hospital -

I'm so glad to have these now and look forward to seeing more as he comes across them!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Girl Time at Purple Glaze

The girlz and I love to paint any time we get a chance and I just happened to have a Groupon for Purple Glaze burnin' a hole in my pocket so we went for a little outing one day last week. We had so much fun and the girlz created some BeAuTiFuL masterpieces...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Knitting Mochimochi

My good friend, Brandi Simons, is a free-lance photographer and has been working on a very fun project within the last year-and-a-half or so. A friend of hers, Anna Hrachovec, is an extremely talented and creative knitter and has made some very fun creations. Anna was actually sought out by Random House and was asked to write a book with her knitting patterns and creations. So Anna asked Brandi to take the photos for her book. It was a perfect collaboration! They worked super hard and came out with an AmAzInG book that was recently published and is now available for sale.

Brandi is known for her artistic and innovative photos and came up with some very imaginative backgrounds, locations and props for the pictures in the book. She and Anna wanted to pay tribute to their Oklahoma roots, so everyone in the book and all of the sites in the photos were actually from Oklahoma. Our family was asked to be in one of the photo shoots so, of course, we couldn't turn that down! It was at Skates Roller Skating Center in Sand Springs. You can see part of the book on Amazon here. Our skating photo is towards the front and we were even thanked on the Acknowledgements page - something's wrong with that! We should be thanking them for letting us take part in their book. It was so fun and my girlz have great memories from taking the photos.

I am so super proud of both Anna and Brandi! They did a great job and even did a book signing last week at Loops at Utica Square. I took the girlz because we wanted to show our support for Brandi - plus, I knew they would love the store! We walked in and their mouths dropped open! Being crocheters, themselves, they were in yarn heaven. Anna spoke about some of the toys she knitted and Brandi shared how she got some of the shots for the book. They sold out of their copies of books and had a great turnout from friends, family & fans!

If you'd like to learn more about Anna and her work, you can read some articles on-line here...

So now you know what you need to do. You need to go buy this book for all of your friends and family for Christmas! And you can do so right here! What are you waiting for?! Go! Shop! Check out Mochimochi Land! It's fun stuff! ;-)

Field Trip: Kid's World International Festival

A Global Odyssey
Tulsa Fairgrounds - Exchange Center
November 4,5,6

Monday, November 1, 2010

My Little Cowgirlz

For about the last year or so, my girlz have fallen in love with horses. They've been wanting to take riding lessons for a while now but with the cost of lessons being so high and being the paranoid mother that I am of an accident waiting to happen, I've put it off. Well, a friend of mine from our homeschool co-op put together a special class for homeschoolers and was able to get a great rate. It was too good to pass up, so I caved.

The girlz had their first riding lesson today. The ranch is Shepherd's Fold and their teacher is Teresa. She does an awesome job with horses and is great with the kids. She a big fan of The Horse Whisperer and taught the kids to befriend the horse, yet show that they are boss, before riding. The kids all had a great time and learned so much on their first day. My girlz loved it so much they didn't want to leave so they are already counting down the days to the next lesson! Here's some pics and videos from their fun day...

Fun Fall Activities

Saturday, October 23, 2010...

Halloween Carnival at Harold Elementary in Collinsville
Tuesday, October 26, 2010...

Halloween Party at Classroom Corner in Owasso...

Trick-or-Treating with Family and Friends...

DBF Girls Choir

The DBF Girls Choir sang, "Great and Greatly" in church yesterday. They are all such sweet girls with big hearts :-)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

American Girl Club: Josefina

Our curriculum this year is based on the American Girl books and my girlz are in an "American Girl Club" with other girls who are also doing the same curriculum. We meet once a month and do activities focused around the American Girl we are studying that month. This month, we were studying Josefina, a girl from New Mexico and we hosted the club this month, as well. The girls had so much fun making mexican paper dolls, cooking and eating mexican food and playing with their American Girl dolls, too. Here's pics from their fun day together...

Such sweet girls and fun friendships ;-)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fall Break With My Sis

My sister, Angie, and her three boys just came for a quick visit over Fall Break. We had a great time at the Shepherd's Cross Pumpkin Patch in Claremore...

Then my mom joined us for dinner. The kids had fun playing games then they entertained us with some fine dancing...

Love those guys - just wish they lived closer!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fun Local Things to Do Over Fall Break Weekend

Trying to decide what to do this weekend? Check out some of these ideas!


Amish Cheese House (Chouteau - celebrating 10 years this weekend!Come out to enjoy the Amish way of life with free buggy rides and delicious, homemade ice cream. Jupiter Jumps, giveaways, and lots of yummy samples also included! Come anytime Saturday Oct. 23rd, between 9AM & 5PM!)

Carmichael's (Jenks)

Shay's Pumpkin Patch (Bartlesville)

Shepherd's Cross (Claremore)


Owasso Parks

Owasso Scrapbook Store (World Card Making Day - Saturday, 10/23 from 2-5 p.m.)

Owasso Skate Park

The Secretariat (Showing at the Dickinson Movie Theatre)


Little House on the Prairie (Independence, Kansas - Meet our very own living historians as they portray Ma and Mister Edwards on Saturday, October 30th from 10:00 am-5:00 pm!)

Oxley Nature Center

Turkey Mountain

Will Rogers' Museum (Claremore)

Woolaroc (Bartlesville)

Prep for Uganda

Now that I've decided to go to Uganda, I have begun the necessary prep work to go. Last week, I went to the health department to get my first round of shots - including Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid, Polio, Yellow Fever, and MMR. I go back in a few weeks for a second round, then I am supposed to go again in six months to complete my vaccinations.

The girlz went with me and were such great support. Although I was a little concerned about the side effects of receiving the shots, actually receiving them didn't bother me, but it did the girlz. I spoke with the health department nurse for about 30 minutes about the vaccinations I needed while the girlz listened on. When she left to get the shots ready, out of nowhere, my 8 year-old, "A", took a pen out of my purse and started writing on my hand. I asked her what she was doing and she said she wanted to write me notes of encouragement so I wouldn't be worried as I got my shots. Here's my hand by the time she was done - I think she enjoyed that a little too much ;-)

A little hard to read but this one says...

Go Mom

I Heart U

You are Awsum

The other side says...

I Heart U




Skype Me!

Of course, my 10 year-old, "M", had to get in on the action...

Hers reads...

Go Mom!


Follow your heart, gut and God

Trust in God


You're fab!

And the other side says...

Bring these things with you to Uganda: Courage, Hope, Faith, Skype, your phone

I love my sweet little cheerleaders! I couldn't help but smile as I saw the notes all over my hands as I was getting my shots. And so far, from what I can tell, there were no side effects ;-)

I also applied for a passport for the first time. I had to expedite it since the trip is coming up so soon and I need it to get my visa. Thankfully, it only took a little over a week to come in!

A large part of prepping for the trip is learning all I can about Uganda and the area we'll be traveling to. I began a post on my blog here where I'll add interesting information as I find it. My pastor also suggested I read a book called Girl Soldier by Faith J. H. McDonnell and Grace Akallo. The product description reads, "For several decades a brutal army of rebels has been raiding villages in northern Uganda, kidnapping children and turning them into soldiers or wives of commanders. More than 30,000 children have been abducted over the last twenty years and forced to commit unspeakable crimes. Grace Akallo was one of these. Her story, which is the story of many Ugandan children, recounts her terrifying experience. This unforgettable book--with historical background and insights from Faith McDonnell, one of the clearest voices in the church today calling for freedom and justice--will inspire readers around the world to take notice, pray, and work to end this tragedy." It's very difficult to read the horror stories in the book but necessary to understand where the orphans are coming from. I love to hear testimonies of triumph and how God is saving these children from a life of despair - showing them grace, mercy, forgiveness and unconditional love.

The most important thing I think I can do to prepare for the trip is to pray. I would like to ask you to join me in praying for the following things for our small team that is going to Uganda…

• Safe travel and that we will remain safe while in Uganda
• God’s favor, wisdom, and discernment in making business decisions pertinent to Calo Me Lare
• God will equip those He has called
• Good health
• God will provide for our families back home

The countdown is on!