Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Weekend


SCHOOL IS OUT!!

Not just for the kids, but for Jon, as well!  YES!!  The kids have worked hard and been super busy all year.  (By all year, I mean the school year: August - May.)  Jon has been working crazy hard for an entire year!  He has decided to drop a class for the summer and I couldn't be happier. 
We ALL need this break!

Before Jon finished his last class, he said that the first weekend we would be camping out in our back yard.  Not just sleeping out there, but doing everything out there.  Thankfully the weather cooperated and we were able to do just that.

Doesn't he just look like a happy camper?!

We finally got Luke's little pool out and cleaned up.  He's a happy camper too.

We had been keeping an eye on a robin nest right outside our back door.  The babies finally hatched and are now visible without having to go up to the nest and look inside.  We all enjoyed watching the  mama and the babies.  I felt like I was invading their territory, however, when I was using the patio or anytime I would open the door, or move around the yard.  That poor mama probably wish we would just go inside and stay inside!

Almost everyone slept outside.  I tried.  Ben tried.  I was good until the air mattress sprung a leak and was turning Jon and I into taco filling.  Ben was good until he needed to go inside to use the bathroom.  Ugh!  We really tried!  I will say that we made it until almost 2am!

I wasn't kidding when I said that Jon wanted to do everything outside.  I woke up Sunday morning to Jon making breakfast outside.  Is there anything better than waking up to the smell of bacon.  I think not!

I firmly believe that everything tastes better when cooked and eaten outside!  YUM!

Look what my campers found in the back yard!  I have no idea how that turtle ended up in our back yard, but it sure got a lot of attention.  Luke and Abby couldn't get enough of the little guy. 



Seeing as though the sun comes up so early, there was plenty of time to be lazy before getting ready for church.


More outdoor cooking (:

Even dessert was made outside!  Jon's famous Mississippi Mud cake!  Oh my!!

Wouldn't you know it, we had another turtle in out back yard the next day!  CRAZY!!

It is amazing how God created these creatures so intricately.  Look at the beautiful design on this guy.

Beautiful!

I am so thankful for such a fun, relaxing, beautiful weekend in our very own back yard.  I am thankful for a break from school and time to have fun with my family.

Happy summer!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Springtime Weekend Fun!

Spring is my favorite season of the entire year.  The weather was perfect for spending our weekend outside.





Luke got a hold of the hose...

And this is what ensued.  That kid is ALL boy!!

Brrr!!! That couldn't have felt good!

Someone snagged my iPod. (:

What could be better on a gorgeous spring (yes, it's almost summer, but I'm still calling it spring since it's only mid_May!) evening than a fire in the fire pit and s'mores?  Not a  whole lot!





We had so much fun spending Saturday outside, and the weather on Sunday afternoon was gorgeous, so we spend Sunday outside too.  


Ben got out a box of things from when he was younger.  Luke was all over the light sabres!  Ben was too. (:

Once we went inside, Abby decided that we needed some chocolate chip cookies.  OK!  (:  She was sweet and patient enough to let Lukey help.  She is going to be one amazing mama someday!  (Notice that Luke had to have the light sabres to make cookies.)

We had a super, great weekend!  Relaxing and just fun to be together at home.  Only a few more days of school and we can do this everyday!

Friday, May 17, 2013

BLESSED!!

I can't explain how blessed I have felt lately.  There have been some pretty amazing things happening around here.  I just have to share.

*****

Abby found out that school softball tryouts were happening at the end of April.  Jon and I were hesitant to let her do it.  We both had concerns about how she would handle it if she didn't make the team.  I didn't really say anything to her, but she continued to be excited about it.  She reminded me the night before that tryouts were the next day.  I gave Jon "the look" and he asked her, "Abby, it's great that you want to tryout and we want you to tryout, but what if you don't make the team?"  Abby was very quick with her response.  She shrugged her shoulders and with a slight teenager attitude said, "There's always next year!"  Well, alrighty then!  How can you deny that!

Abby tried out and the waiting game began.  I asked her everyday when she got home from school if she found out about the team.  Everyday she said no.  Finally, the answer came.  Yes, she found out and YES, SHE MADE THE TEAM!!!  WOW!!  She was so excited!  I was so excited!  Yes, I cried. 

*****

Ben and Abby both want to go to band camp at University of Arkansas this summer.  (Ben felt like he missed out last year.)  The problem?  It costs $400 per student!  Ouch!  Jon and I talked about it and decided that, at least, Ben would be able to go.  He was a little bit older and would be able to pay for part of it.  We figured that Abby needed another year of band under her belt and and to be another year older before she should go.  Abby was disappointed.  Even though I was good with the decision that we made, I was disappointed for her. 

We found out that scholarships were being offered for band camp.  Sweet!  After talking to Ben and Abby's band teacher, we decided that both kids would apply for a scholarship.  We would see how much they got and re-think things.

It was very exciting the day Ben and Abby got mail from the Musical Research Society.  Both kids received $100 scholarships!  Praise the Lord!  Great news! 

Ben and Abby (along with all of the other recipients) were recognized by the Music Research Society for their band camp scholarship.


However...there was another $300 per child that we still had to figure out.  Ugh!  Again, we decided that Abby would wait until next year.

I mentioned to another band teacher that only Ben was going to be able to go to band camp.  He asked me how much money would be needed to get both kids there.  I ashamedly told him.  It was a lot.  He didn't cringe (that I could tell via text), he just said that he would see what he could do.

The day before the camp registrations were to be postmarked, I asked if he had any new information and he did not.

The day the registrations were to be postmarked, I finished filling out all of the paperwork.  I held both of them in my hands and prayed over them.  I just asked for the Lord to give me an answer.  Even if the answer was no, it was an answer.  I was ok with that.  I just wanted to know.  A few hours later, I (hesitantly) asked again if the band teacher knew anything new about band camp money.  He  said that he found $100-$200, but that was all so far.  He told me to go ahead and send in the registrations for both kids without the money and by the time they questioned us about it, we should have it taken care of.  That seemed a little awkward, but we decided to do it.  Not even one hour later, he texted me back and said that the entire amount (the amount that I told him was needed for both Ben and Abby to go to camp.) was taken care of!  What?!?!  There was my answer!  Both kids get to go to camp!  

I am so thankful that we have such amazing band staff here, in Bartlesville!  Not only do they do their job, they go above and beyond!  They want to see their students succeed and better themselves as musicians!  I am also thankful that there are gracious people out there that are willing to help kids better themselves!

I truly believe that we experienced a miracle straight from God that day!  It could only be from Him!!

*****

Luke turned 5!  I know, I already blogged about it.  But in the course of all of the amazing things that were happening, this was one of them.

*****

Ben had art displayed in at art show downtown.  (Again, I know, I already blogged about that too.)

*****

Abby had her spring band concert and received an award.  (Here)

*****

I had an amazing birthday and Mother's Day.  (Here)

*****

Abby was invited to the 7th grade awards assembly.  (Here)

*****

Ben had his spring band concert and, also, received an award.  (Here)

*****

Luke graduated from preschool.  (Here)


All of these things happened within about a two week period.  It was just one exciting thing after another.  How could I feel anything but blessed?


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Luke's Preschool Graduation

I am so thankful for the decision Jon and I made to send Luke to East Cross for preschool!  We have loved this whole year!  The staff is amazing!  Luke's teacher was the best!  He only had nine kids in his class, which was just perfect!

On the last day of school, Luke had a little program and graduation.


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Could these kids be any cuter?!



 

Next step:  KINDERGARTEN!!
(Where does the time go?!?!)

Abby's Awards Assembly

For the second year in a row, Abby was invited to the end of the year awards assembly.  No, not all students get to go.  They only get to go if they are receiving an award.  They never know what they are receiving, they have to wait to find out when their name is called.  Abby was excited to get out of class to go.  She figured she was being recognized for the band award that she received at her concert.  I had a hunch that she might be getting one more.

Not only do the kids get to get out of class to attend the assembly, but the parents are given permission to take their child out to lunch afterward.  Win-win!

Yes, Abby was recognized for the band award she had already received.

But, my hunch was right.  She also received an academic award for having a 3.5 or better GPA.  That's my girl!
Abby chose to go to The Rolling Pin for lunch.  YUM!!  As an added bonus, a little local bakery that is only open on Wednesdays, was open!  Sweet!  (Literally!)

I know I say this all the time, but I am so proud of this girl!  She has worked hard and it has paid off!  She had a great year this year!

GREAT JOB, ABBY!  KEEP UP THE HARD WORK!  I AM SO PROUD OF YOU, BABY GIRL!!

Ben's Spring Band Concert

What do I love listening to?  What do I always look forward to?  I feel like I am being redundant, but it is true.  I love listening to them play and look forward to their concerts.  Ben's spring concert was no exception.  As Ben progresses through school, the music just gets better and better.  Now that he is finishing his first year of high school and the concert was to be combined with the 11th and 12th grade band, I knew the concert was going to be amazing.  I was not disappointed!

These two pieces are Ben's band which is just 9th and 10th grade.

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"Abracadabra"

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"Tournament"

 Ben was awarded a "Director's Award" for being an outstanding student that "goes above and beyond".  I am so proud of him!  (He has received an award in band every year so far!)

We have a place in our town called "Jared's Frozen Custard".  The Jared's are well known in the community and everyone loves their custard!  Mr. Jared was a band teacher and an administrator here for many years and was well loved in his job.  Last November, Mr. Jared passed away rather unexpectedly.  For this year's spring concert, Mr. Claussen, the high school band director, had a piece of music written to honor Mr. Jared.  That piece would be premiered at the concert performed by the entire 9th-12 grade band.

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"The Eternal Optimist"
 

 Ms. Benford is and has been an amazing teacher/director this year!

Ben is going to miss Michael SO much!  Michael has been such a great friend to Ben this year!  Unfortunately, he is a senior and will be headed off to college in the fall.  I am so thankful that Ben found such a great friend this year!  Even if it was only for one year, I know that they have what it to takes to keep their friendship going once Michael goes to school.

Another band year has come and gone.  It was a great year for Ben!  He is already looking forward to marching band camp starting at the end of July!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Abby's Spring Band Concert

One of my favorite things is listening to my kids play their instruments.  I always look forward to their band concerts throughout the year.  The spring concert is always great!

I can't tell you how many times Abby has gotten a new piece of music, brought it home to practice and proceeded to tell me that her band teacher must be crazy if he thinks she will ever be able to play it!  But, it never fails, she gets it.  Not only does she get it, but she does an excellent job!  

Earlier this year, Abby moved up to first chair, beating out a girl that Abby says is "so good".  It was a huge day for Abby!  One of these days she will realize that she really is good and that all of her hard work and practice are paying off!


Abby was one of about six students to receive one of the band awards given out.  She received it last year, as well.  I am so proud of her for going above and beyond in her band!

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 "Quiet Rain"

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"Sugar Creek Overture"

The next two pieces are the combined 7th and 8th grade bands.

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"March Concord"

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"The Fortune Tellers Daughter"
This is one of the pieces that Abby didn't think she would ever be able to play!  It had notes all over the place!  It is now one of her favorite pieces!

We owe so much of Abby's success to this awesome lady!  Ms. Benford is not only one of Abby's band teachers, but she is also Abby's private teacher and just an all-around awesome lady!  We love her and appreciate her so much!

This has been a big year for Abby.  She earned first chair in her band.  She auditioned for All-District Honor Band and made first alternate.  She participated in Solo & Ensemble and earned two 2's ("Excellent" ratings)  She has continued to work hard, practice often and not give up!  I couldn't be more proud of her and her accomplishments this year!

My Artist

Ben has always loved drawing.  He loved art in elementary school.  He always chose art as an elective in middle school.  He was pretty excited last year when he went to enroll for his 9th grade classes and found out that he was recommended for AP Honors Art. 

Ben worked hard in art all year long, but it was slightly disappointing that all of his work was kept at school all year long.  We finally got to get a glimpse of some of Ben's work at an art show downtown.

 Not surprising that Ben's artwork included Coke and trombones!  His two loves!


 
 I love this piece of work!  The mosaic is really cool!  Ben was slightly irritated because this was hung upside down.  I flipped it the right way here.

Ben's tomatoes are bright and cheery.  This just might get framed and hung in the kitchen. (:

I am so proud of Ben and his artwork and am looking forward to what he accomplishes in AP Art next year!

Birthday/Mother's Day

It's a double whammy for Jon and the kids.  My birthday and Mother's Day tend to fall within a few days of each other.  Every few years they fall on the same day.  That was the case this year.   If you know me, you know that I love my birthday and I like for my family to make a big deal about it.  (Yes, I set myself up for disappointment every year.)  

Unfortunately, Jon doesn't have much free time on his hands these days and he's not much into planning ahead.  Fortunately, that worked out in my favor this year.  Jon asked me to make myself scarce for the majority of the day the day before my birthday so that he and the kids could get some things done without me around.  Oh darn!  Go spend time out of the house with a girlfriend?  OK!
 
I got to spend the day in Tulsa with my amazing friend, Heather.  We had the best day!  We went shoe shopping, laughed a lot, went to lunch at Qdoba (where we scored free birthday lunch!), did some clothes shopping (where I made her pick out things for me to try on!) did lots more laughing and topped it all of with 1/2 priced frappuccinos at Starbucks.  What could be better?!?!  We had so much fun together!!  I love my Heather!  Thank you, Heather, for spending your day with me!  It made my birthday very special!

My family made me feel very special on Sunday, my birthday and Mother's Day.  My day started out with being banished to my bedroom so that my breakfast could be made.

 Ben made me an amazing omelette!  YUM!

I was finally able to come out!  (It was driving Luke crazy that I couldn't come out and see what was waiting for me!  He was probably about to burst from having to keep secrets!)

 And this is what I found.  A special breakfast with balloons and lots of presents!  (:  They went all out!
 The gifts I received were extremely thoughtful!  The plants and flowers were my Mother's Day gifts.  The framed picture is my birthday gift from Abby.  The picture was taken on Easter and we both love it so much!  I love that she had it printed and framed for me!  The pepper mill is from Ben and Luke.  I have wanted a pepper mill for a long time, so I was very excited to finally get one.  And it is a very nice one!  Jon got me an Otter Box for my iPod that he got me for Christmas.  WOW!  I felt so special!!  The gifts from my family were so perfect!!

Jon planned for us to spend the day in Tulsa.  We would go to lunch at Ted's, our favorite Mexican restaurant, and then go to a Tulsa Drillers baseball game.  I loved the idea, but felt like it was just wrong for us to spend the day in Tulsa and just be sitting at a game when Jon and Abby had a ton of homework to do at home.  
I have no idea why this picture looks like this!  I still think it's adorable!

We still went to Tulsa and had lunch at Ted's, but we skipped the game. 

Instead, we browsed around Target...
 


...took advantage of half-priced frappuccinos at Starbucks...

...and went to the Tulsa Rose Gardens.

 The last time we visited the rose gardens, it was late summer and the roses were all dead and dried up.  I was hoping that going earlier in the season would yield beautiful, live roses.  We definitely weren't disappointed this time!

 Can you spot the frogs on this picture?

 Be still, my heart!  How adorable are they?!  My heart is melting!

 Of course, they can't be serious all the time!

I love this man!!  I am proud of this man!  He has been working so hard for the past year, not only doing the best job he can do at work, but also going to school.  It is hard!  He hates it!  But he is doing it and I am so proud of him!

The day was beautiful and we could have spent all day outside, but there was homework to be done, so we had to head home.

Of course, the day wouldn't be complete without birthday cake!  Abby made this one all by herself!  I am so proud!

My birthday and Mother's Day were fantastic!!  I loved every minute of it!  I am so blessed to have an amazing husband and kiddos that took the time to do all of this for me!
THANK YOU, JON, BEN, ABBY & LUKE!!  YOU GUYS MADE MY DAY THE BEST IT COULD BE!  I LOVE YOU!!!