Monday, May 19, 2014

Top Secret Girls Only Book Club - The Chocolate Touch

Reading is at the top of my Favorite Things to do List.
Over the years my tastes have evolved from chick lit (Kinsella) and Mystery (Patterson) to memoirs (Moehringer) and non-fiction (Hillenbrand).  But, I generally have anywhere from 5-20 books on my bedside table in various states of consumption. My family is used to seeing me retreat from the evening chaos to curl up on my bed to read for "a few minutes" nearly every day. 
Reading is my normal.
And I really want reading to be something that my kids enjoy, too.
That being said, reading hasn't exactly come naturally for either of my girls.
When they were toddlers, they would never sit still long enough for me to read to them.
Ava, especially. 
Ain't nobody got time for dat.
Which is probably why she didn't start *really* reading until First Grade.
But, even then (and now) she sees reading as a destination, rather than a journey.
It's just something else to check off her To Do List or,
most recently, as a way to earn AR points to buy trinkets at school.  
Anna started reading in December of last year.
She can sound out words,
has several sight words memorized
and can make her way through most of the BOB books,
but I wouldn't say she loves it.
Again, it's more of a means to an end.
And, if it's something that Ava can do then, by God, she's gonna do it, too.
I saw the idea of a Kids Book Club on Pinterest and started doing a little research.
And pinning. 
Lots of pinning.
(Sorry followers)
And I decided to give it a whirl.
Most kids, mine included, will read whatever you tell them to read,
 but they aren't just going to pick up a book and start reading...
especially during the summer. 
So, a Summer Book Club made perfect sense.
It will be a way for Ava and her friends to stay in contact,
stay focused and stop the "summer slide"
that occurs during the lazy summer months
when there is very little learning going on.
I invited a few of Ava's peers
that I thought were all on the same reading / interest level,
assigned our first book - The Chocolate Touch -
and we were off!
The first meeting was a hit!
A few of the girls couldn't make it due to graduation /
end of school stuff,
but we had a good group of five (plus little sister)
that made it easy to facilitate discussion and activities.
The girls answered about 25 questions about the book...some fact recall, some prediction and some comprehension / analysis, while they enjoyed a Hershey's chocolate bar. I was pleasantly surprised how well everyone did on the questions. Everyone obviously had done their homework!
Then, they completed a candy word puzzle (unscramble the letters),
while I prepared the chocolate fondue.
Next, we all enjoyed various foods
(strawberries, pineapple, pretzels, graham crackers, marshmallows, etc.)
dipped in chocolate!
Finally, the girls decorated their own book bags
and folders for them to store their Book Club goodies!
We plan to meet every other week during the summer
to encourage regular summer reading and to, hopefully,
spark a lifetime love of reading!

Our next book is Clementine by Sara Pennypacker! Can't wait!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mother's Day

At first I didn't think I liked this picture because it looks like Ava was giving me a fake smile...the kind that didn't make it all the way up to her eyes and like Anna was just following my instruction with no emotion...hug your sister and try not to choke her out.

But the more I look at it, the more it tells the whole story.

Long, lanky limbs, full of scrapes and bruises and sweet awkwardness. Always on guard. Wanting to please but not sure how to go about it. Very protective of her sister but a little jealous too. Teaches Anna everything she knows about life. Growing more mature and more beautiful every day that passes.
Loves her Mom deeply and privately.
Sticky and sweet and a little mysterious, like snowcone that has several flavors blended together that you can't quite identify. A hugger if there ever was one. A quickwitted comic with stories to tell. Eyes that capture you and dimples that deliver the kill shot. A born pleaser. A sponge for Ava's love and attention.
Loves her Mom openly and unrelentlessly.
I've said this before and I'll probably say it until my dying day.
I don't have a clue what I'm doing with this whole mothering thing.
I literally wing it
Most days I make mistakes.
Some days, my mistakes are bigger than others.
But, every day, my love for them is bigger than any mistake I've made.
I don't need a day on the calendar to tell me I should feel special for being a Mom.
I honestly feel special every day that I am able to be with these two.
They make every day Mother's Day.

Monday, March 17, 2014


In two weeks (God willing) I will turn 38 years old. Which means that in one week, it will be six years since my mom passed away. 

I don't know which number shocks me more...I mean, 38 seems so...well, old. And six years?! How is that even possible? 

March 24, 2008 has become a timeline marker by which I measure all significant life events. Getting laid off, having Anna, starting a new job, moving to Oklahoma, becoming a stay at home mom, Brendhan's new practice...All after. 

With each new hash mark that takes me further away from DOD, I find myself grieving her loss all over again because I hate things being so different from how they were when she was alive. Like if she were to somehow come back to earth she wouldn't even know where to find me because I live in a different house, in a different state and I have two little girls, not one. Irrational much? 

That's not to say I haven't felt her presence in the last six years. 

I have. 

I feel her with me when the late afternoon sun shines through the kitchen window and you can see a million microscopic dust particles caught in the light. I feel her when Brendhan tickles Anna under the chin and she erupts into a fit of deep, slobbery belly laughs. I feel her when Ava and I ride bikes down quiet streets past clapboard houses with chippy paint. I feel her when Rusted Root sings "Send me on my Way." I feel her when I am running alone. Confident on strong legs. And I always feel her when I see 11:11 and I know that is her way of saying she sees me too...regardless of how different things look now from six years ago.  Kairos in spite of chronos. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Teen Beach Movie Birthday Party

Today, we celebrated Anna's 5th Birthday with a Teen Beach Movie party. The girls have been *slightly* obsessed with this movie since it came out this summer. We have the movie DVR'd twice (one with dance instruction / song subtitles and one without) and also on DVD, CD and iTunes. Ava dressed up as Lela for Halloween in a custom dress from Etsy and Anna has been asking for a Teen Beach Movie birthday party since August, so yeah, slightly obsessed.

{Door decor from Hobby Lobby}

{Banner downloaded from Disney Channel website and printed on cardstock}

{Dress from pinkbubblesclothing on Etsy}

{Sodas from Wal-Mart, umbrella straws from Hobby Lobby, Twine from Target}

{Treat cups from Oriental Trading}

{Plastic shot glasses and umbrellas from Oriental Trading}

{Bohemian necklace craft kit from Wal-Mart}

{Cake from Special Days Cake Boutique in Duncan, OK}

{Goodie bags with sunglasses, leis and surfboard key chains from Oriental Trading}

 {Scooby Doo pinyata from Party City}

{Cardboard surfboard from Oriental Trading}

Anna at the end of the party wearing her new PJ's with her new gigantic teddy bear!

Best party ever!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I've been thinking a lot about the concept of "drift" lately.

According to author Gretchen Rubin, drift is the result of decisions you make by not deciding, by falling into things or by taking the path of least resistance.

Like me, Rubin is an attorney who drifted into law school because she didn't know what else to do with her life and law school sounded as good as anything else.

Also, like me, she eventually came to the conclusion that a career in law wasn't making her happy and she went a different direction completely.

By Rubin's definition, drifters tend to be guided by other people's expections or opinions and fail to listen to their own internal voice. They tend to focus more on what they should do, rather than what feels right on the inside.

Drifters spend a lot of time daydreaming about a different life than they currently have; they feel as if they are waiting for their "real" life to start; and they find themselves doing something just because other people are doing it.

Oprah Winfrey may have been talking about having Aha! moments for years, but, this my friends, is my first true Aha! moment:

I am a drifter.

I drifted to college at OU because I was too scared to admit that I really wanted to go out of state.
I drifted into a sorority because that's what girls from Edmond do.
I drifted into a degree in Psychology because it sounded easy.
I drifted into law school because my college roommate was also applying.
I drifted into a career in regulatory compliance because, quite frankly, it was easy and it paid really well.
I drifted into motherhood because that's what young married people do, right?
I drifted into putting my kids in daycare, driving an SUV, living in the suburbs, voting Republican, becoming a Methodist, breastfeeding, starting a photography business, owning an iPhone, using Facebook, and on and on and on.

I look around at choices I've made and continue to make every day and the only ones I know for sure to be my own are marrying Brendhan, having children (actually, Anna was a big fat surprise, but that's another story), drinking Coke, running and loving rap music.

Everything else is up for debate.

Everything else is being evaluated and analyzed.

One of my closest gay friends and I used to joke about taking personal inventory before going out on a date - the process of starting at your feet and working your way up your body to identify any areas that need be addressed, lest anyone discover you are less than perfect, i.e., a stray chin hair to pluck, a zit to be dealt with, toenails that need trimming, etc.

In a way, I am doing that very thing to my life right now:

I am taking personal inventory.

I am plucking out anything that needs to go,
shaving away anything irritating,
cleaning off the dirt and grime,
covering the gray, and
beautifying myself,
both inside and out,
with the end goal being
the revelation of my internal compass,
and the living of a life with purpose.

“Purpose is the great divider that separates those who are simply living,
from those who are truly alive.”
― Alex Rogers, Drifting

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Against the Tide

Isn't this what we all need...

A strong, capable man to put his back to the tide,
wrap his protective arms around you,
and pull you up out of harms way,
as the waves roll in and threaten to pull you apart.

My prayer for today and every day
is that my girls will be safe,
that they will feel loved,
that they will be healthy,
and that they will be happy.

Or at least more happy than not.

Monday, August 26, 2013

This Summer

This summer has been 12 of the best weeks of my life.

Like for real.

I have had so much fun with the girls.

I really don't want it to end.

Don't get me wrong,
I am dying for a little more structure to our days,
and a few hours here and there without the girls around,
so I can actually get some stuff done around the house...
but, I really do love being home with them every day.

I started making a list of the things we did this summer
and here is what I came up with...

A week in Sandestin, Florida
Bungee jumping
Swimming in the ocean
The Destin waterpark
The Lawton waterpark
Pelican Bay
Swimming at the pool more days than I can count
The trampoline park
Build a Bear
The American Girl Store
A week in Midland with the Rudnickis
A girls trip to Las Vegas for Mom
Beyonce at the MGM Grand
Dave and Busters
Golf Camp x 2
Young Doctors Camp
Methodist VBS
Baptist VBS
The Worlds Largest Garage Sale
The Rudnicki's garage sale
Dallas to see Uncle Jimmy
Uncle Jimmy coming to see us
Several haircuts - one selfie by Anna
Bike riding
Ava ran a 1 mile race
Frontier City
Swimming Lessons
Individual sleepovers for the girls with GiGi
Ava learned how to walk on stilts
Anna learned to swim without floaties
Ava learned how to play golf
Anna learned single digit addition and subtraction in her head
Ava became a better reader
Anna learned how to ride her bike without training wheels
Ava learned how to blow a bubble
Anna learned how to cross the monkeybars
Just Dance 2 and 3
Dune buggy and 4-wheeler riding
Face painting
A car show
Movie nights
Several movies at the Carmike and the Palace
Simmons Center swimming and jungle gym playing
Kiddie Land
Leaf rubbing
Library trips
The OKC Zoo
Oh, and I ran over 150 miles in June, July and so far in August.