Friday, November 24, 2017

So Many Things to be Thankful For

Every year at this time, as Thanksgiving comes and goes quickly, and Christmas ramps up earlier and earlier....we try to remember all that we have, and all that we are thankful for.  This has been a good year for our family, even with Walker's accident this summer.  We are healthy, we are employed, we have each other and God, and a wonderful network of family and friends that we can rely on when needed.

Since Christmas will be here before we know it, and our children are already trying to write their Christmas lists, we decided we needed to slow down for a minute.  This year we literally had NOTHING to do for Thanksgiving.  We weren't celebrating with our family, and it seemed like all of our friends were out of town this year.  Rather than making a big "to do" out of our Thanksgiving meal, Steve cooked a big breakfast, and we had a casual late lunch.  We worked on a 2000 piece puzzle, took a family walk and watched a movie.  It was a very low key, yet pleasant day.

2000 piece puzzle only took us 3 days to complete!

Helping make the breakfast casseroles
However, one thing we did do this year was elect to serve breakfast to First Light Women's Shelter this morning (the day after Thanksgiving).  When we found out they had a full house (75 women and children), we enlisted the help of a couple of friends (to help with the cooking and storing of the food).  We divvied up the responsibilities and all met up at 7am this morning.  We were in charge of the sausage balls, fruit and two breakfast casseroles.

Once we arrived at First Light, everyone found a role, and we served breakfast.  Everyone there was grateful for the warm breakfast (since the shelter was technically observing a holiday, and warm meals are not served on those days).  Our children got to participate, and give back, and we all walked away feeling even more grateful for our blessings (because we all know that can change on a dime).

We served with Brett and Malin Terry and Wade and Kelli Martin and children.
Though this was our first VERY low key holiday, we wouldn't have changed it.  We hung out as a family, talked about family goals and enjoyed each other's company...for most of the day :).

Monday, October 30, 2017

Flag Football Comes to an End

Preston had another great flag football season.  He was on a team with several friends, and had a great coach.  He absolutely loves the sport, and is pretty good.  He has speed, and hustles more than most of the other kids.  It he misses a flag initially, he goes back after them again and again....falling, diving or whatever it takes.

I always enjoy watching him play, and it was awesome to see him score a touchdown in almost every game, pull lots of flags and even get a few interceptions.  Thankfully he had lots of family come to watch him over the season too.  It was a fun couple of months, but they lost their game in the second round of the playoffs tonight.

Isiah, Dennis, James, Travis, Ty (back row)
James, Rivers and Pres

Friday, October 27, 2017

Dream Kitchen

Steve and I bought our house about 10 years ago, and though we were the first to live in it and everything was brand was not completely my taste.  However, it was all "current" for 2007, so we moved in and made it our own.  Things about the house had to grow on me, but eventually it did, but now that 10 years have past I have outgrown things about it.

We are living in a time where it seems like "all of our friends" are building new homes.  Of course this isn't true, but it has fired me up about wanting to update our house, and truly make it our own.  Steve isn't particularly bothered by anything in the house, so it  took some persuasion on my part, but he eventually agreed to let me remodel our kitchen.

Goodbye busy counters, brushed nickel faucet and heavy lights!
Thankfully we liked the layout, and the appliances are all top notch, so there was no reason to change those out.  It was really just a cosmetic upgrade: new counters, back splash, fixtures, hardware, sink, faucets, cabinet colors and bar stools.  So we put together a budget, and I began shopping (the fun part)!

See ya plain hardware and back splash!
Thanks to websites like Pinterest and Houzz, ideas are easy to find.  I had some thoughts of what I liked, but I still needed to see items in person.  So I set an appointment with my decorator and off we went to look at counter and tile ideas.  Then I went to a local hardware store, Brandino Brass, and looked for hardware.  Who knew that would end up being the most difficult choice I made.

Good bye dated splash guards and tiny cabinet pulls
See ya dining chandelier!
After spending a couple of hours shopping, I knew exactly what I wanted...I just had to wait for my fabricator and tile guy to measure and quote the job.  It didn't take long to realize that we missed the boat with our budget....Steve was not happy.  Everything I fell in love with cost more than we thought it would, so I needed to make some adjustments.  We changed our counter from quartz to marble, which helped our price dramatically!  The rest was just non-negotiable so we bit the bullet and ordered it.

Of course the remodel process didn't go exactly as planned....subs took longer than projected, our painter quit our job the day before he was to start, so we had to find a new one and then wait two weeks to get on their schedule, our tile guy was short a little on his tile measurement, so we had to order more from California and wait for that to arrive, our first two slabs of marble got cracked, so I had to choose new ones, one of our lanterns was broken so we needed to return it and wait for the replacement.  However, with all of these hiccups, I am still happy we did it.  I just realized that I could NEVER build a home from the ground up.  We LOVE our new kitchen, and hope to love and enjoy for at least another ten years!
Loving my lanterns, faucet and bar stools
The mirror backsplash and new faucet changed the bar
Large pulls make me smile
Love my marble behind the range with navy tiles!

New rug and recovered seat cushions

New Dining Room Chandelier
Overall, I am most happy with our splurge on hardware!  I love the colors, and how everything just looks fresh and current.  We look forward to years of entertaining in our new space.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Grandpal's Day at All Saints

Today was a special day for the preschoolers at All Saints.... Grandpal's Day!  What made the day even more special for Walker was that BOTH sets of grandparents were present for the very informal day.  Walker was thrilled to show everyone his artwork and classroom.

We all looked around, took a couple pictures and then went to reception for cookies and lemonade.  Following the event, we went to lunch with my parents.  What a fun couple of hours.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Karate Chopping

Walker is only 3.5 years old, but it was time to get him involved in something.  The poor child has been dragged to every sporting event of his older siblings for the past three years, so it was HIS turn to have an activity.  I wanted it to be something simple, something that could allow him to get out some energy and I wanted him to learn some discipline.  I had my sights set on karate, and was thrilled to see it was offered as an after school activity at his preschool.

One day after school he attended a trial class.  He broke a thin board, and was hooked!  I enrolled him, and he has been going weekly since then.  There are only three little boys in his class, so he is getting plenty of attention.

The boys are doing frog jumps (to improve flexibility), front kicks, rolls and punches.  Walker is really enjoying his 45 minute class each week.  I look forward to seeing if it starts to click and he chooses to proceed with this as he gets older.

Walker and his buddy, Winston

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Happy 9th Birthday Preston!

We kicked off Preston's birthday celebrations with Steve being a mystery reader and having lunch with him at school.  It was definitely a surprise, and all of the kids love having a parent there to break up the monotony.  Steve read two books, and Pres loved every minute of it.

Then Steve got to dine on a fine cafeteria meal, while all of the kids at the table chatted it up, sneezed on their food and shared items with each other.

Principal Lowry with Preston

The following day, I got a text from the principal at Shades Cahaba.  He loves to make the kids feel special, so he pulls each child out of class on their birthday to snap a selfie and then texts it to their family.  Such a sweet gesture. 

Later that day, I went up to the school to have lunch with my buddy.  I snuck in a McDonald's happy meal (his favorite) in his lunchbox, and he was the king at the lunch table because he shared his french fries with his friends.

I froze my bootie off (do you notice the sweatshirt that Preston wears every time he goes to the cafeteria?). 

I didn't believe Pres that his class sits at the tables under the air conditioning vents, and that it would be cold enough to warrant a sweatshirt, but it is!

Pres with some of class friends
a couple of new jerseys, cash and candy=great birthday!
Of course, the school celebrations just kicked off the REAL celebration the following day, on his actual birthday.  He awoke to presents from my parents and us, and then we went to his flag football game.  The Bantas came to support Preston too.  Though his team lost, he scored a touchdown and still had a good game.  We celebrated with a cookie cake with his teammates.  And after the flag football game, we went out to lunch as a family to Taco Mama (his favorite).  We stuffed our faces, and then he and Steve went to Tuscaloosa.  The pinnacle of the day was going to Tuscaloosa with his Daddy for the Alabama - Colorado State game, and he loved every minute.  When asked what he wanted to do for his birthday, that is what he wanted.
nothing like family support
we love this sport loving boy!

cousins (sans Bennett)
Mimi and Papa surprised Preston with another birthday cake, and bought him a new Alabama jersey...ROLL TIDE!  Steve even scored two tickets to the club level - Preston's favorite because he can eat unlimited ice cream and drink any soft drink he desires.

Of course, Alabama is off to another strong start this season, and rolled all over Colorado State.  Even though it was pretty clear that they were going to win, Preston had NO desire to leave, and wanted to stay for his first entire game. 
4th Quarter!  41-23 final score
Preston passed out on the car ride home, but he will easily say it was one of the best birthdays he has had!  Happy 9th Birthday Buddy, can't wait to see how the next year shapes up!  You are a caring, competitive young man with an analytical brain that never stops will go far in life!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

YMCA Camp Cosby

Since Kindergarten, the kids have gone to spend the night away at camp.  They have always enjoyed themselves, and have never been homesick.  In the past they attended Camp Winnataska, but this summer they tried something new and went to Camp Cosby.  We chose a week that worked well for our family and at the last minute, Bennett had two friends sign up and ask to be in her cabin.  They were both excited for their new adventures!
Arapahoe Cabin

Layton Bradford, Claire Garrett, Ella Serotsky and Bennett
Though Preston didn't have any friends in his cabin, he was ready to meet new ones and experience a new camp.  Camp Cosby is on Logan Martin Lake, and is set up like the camps you see on tv.  The cabins are all lined up, with toilets and showers inside each cabin.  They are also air conditioned, which is a huge benefit over Winnataska.  The pool overlooks the lake, and they have tons of water toys in their careened area of the lake.  There is a huge covered area with basketball hoops, a dining hall and a large horse barn with trails around it for riding.

Everything was set for a great week...regardless of the rain they experienced every day.  Thankfully there were breaks in the day for them to get out and play.  As you can see from the pictures, they had a blast!  Many of the photos are blurry because they wouldn't let you download them off their website without paying for them, so we just cropped them.

B working at the horse barn

P making friends

B did a lot of horseback riding as her main elective

Brave Bennett holding a snake!

Sunset at Camp Cosby
When their six nights concluded, we drove back to pick them up early Saturday morning.  We decided to get Preston first since his cabin was the furthest away.  When we first saw him, he immediately ran to us, and gave us the biggest and best hug!  He was crying tears of joy, which in turn made me cry.  He was genuinely excited to see us.  We then walked to Bennett's cabin.  She had seen us pull into the parking lot, so she had waved to us, but we weren't allowed to grab her without checking in first.

Bennett was the last one to get picked up in her cabin, and she was cheerful and gave me a hug too.  Once we got all of their bags back to the car, we listened for an hour to all of their stories from the week.  They both said they would have stayed another week, and are excited to return next summer.  Thank you Camp Cosby for the great time, and all of the memories!  I absolutely love that our children are getting these opportunities and thoroughly enjoy camp.
But the BEST reunion, was when the three kiddos were all reunited....Walker missed them, and they missed him. Beckham was pretty thrilled too, now his dog walkers are home!