Thursday, December 30

Christmas Lights on the Fayetteville Square

Every year for Emma's birthday (or close to Emma's birthday) we go to the Fayetteville square for pizza and Christmas lights. The Hannon's always go with us and any other family that might be in town. John's cousin, Laura, and her husband just moved to Springdale, so they were able to join us along with Nana and GDad. The lights are always so pretty and really get you in the Christmas spirit. The square is always hopping this time of year with the lights, pony rides and carriage rides. Not to mention all the yummy options for dinner!

Wednesday, December 29

Happy 7th Birthday Emma!

Emma's actual birthday is on December 5th and we were able to have her party on the actual day this year. Emma wanted to have a swim party, so I did some research and we ended up at The Boys and Girls Club in Fayetteville. We had never been, but we will be going more often now. It was awesome! It has a gradual entry pool, a spray mushroom and a really fun water slide. They have a party room right by the pool which was really nice.

I remember being a kid and thinking how fun it was to swim in the middle of winter. They all had a really great time!
The kids got to swim for about an hour and then we dried off to do cake and presents in the party room. Emma wanted a Littlest Pet Shop cake and with very little guidance from me, Shelby Lynn's pulled off another super cute cake!

John did a great job getting pictures of Emma and each of her friends. She invited a few friends from school and also friends that we have had for life that we don't go to school with now. John got the annual Molly, Emma and Elle picture which I love! He also got a fun picture of me and a few of my besties. We all had our first borns 7 years ago, within 4 months of each other. We live life together and I could not be more grateful for each of them!

At 7 years old, Emma is a blast! She is a really great little girl and a lot of fun to be with. Her mind is still full of creativity, like it was when she was 3. She loves school, LOVES to read, loves to write, loves to draw and loves her friends. She might be a techie, which makes her Dad happy. She enjoys "talking her Dad into" playing Lego Starwars on the Wii when he gets home from work. She doesn't have to twist his arm to hard. :) She is an awesome big sister. She loves Brooklyn and for the most part, loves to play with her and help her any way she can. Em enjoys a job and is becoming quite helpful with things around the house. She asked Jesus into her heart this year and is begging to get baptized. That is top on our list for things to schedule in 2011. She loves going to church and is always eager to learn her verse each week (even if there is a treasure box reward for it). I have loved doing a short devotional with her each morning before school this year. It starts both of our days off on the right foot! Emma, you are loved. You will always be the girl who made me a Mommy. You are beautiful inside and out and I love that God has entrusted your sweet spirit to Daddy and I. You make our jobs really easy!

Emma's Birthday in Little Rock

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, we celebrated Emma's birthday with my family. She chose Purple Cow for dinner and on top of milkshakes, my Mom bought a cookie cake.

Emma has been wanting a Nintendo DS for almost a year now, so my parents, John's parents and John and I went in and bought her one for her birthday. We let her open it a week early while we were in Little Rock. She was SUPER excited as you can see! John and I got her the new Littlest Pet Shop game too. Since her birthday party was able to be on her actual birthday it was nice to spread out the gifts from us and her friends.

2010 Silver Dollar City Christmas

Every year before Christmas, we make a point to use our Silver Dollar City passes to go see the millions of lights at Silver Dollar City in Branson. Sometimes it is miserably cold and sometimes it 70 degrees. This year it was in the low 50's during the day and it got colder as it got darker. We got there early to ride rides and then stayed for the lighting of the tree and to see the millions of lights throughout the park. It is a fun tradition and an event that always marks the beginning of the holiday season for our family!

Tuesday, December 28

Emma's First Piano Recital

Emma started taking piano lessons this year and she is doing a great job. It all started by her wanting to take guitar lessons. When I inquired about guitar with a girl from church, she said she prefers them do piano first. Our problem was that we don't have a piano and we were not wanting to invest in one since we had no idea if Emma would like it. Emma decided she did want to try piano, so we started thinking about options. The next day, I looked out our front window and saw that our neighbors were having a garage sale. And guess what? They were selling a large Yamaha keyboard! I walked over with cash and bought it on the spot.

Emma is taking from the sweetest, most fun girl at our church. I wanted the lessons to be fun for her or I knew she would stress out and hate it. Shelley really teaches her, but she is fun and relaxed too. It has been great for Em.

Shelley has about 7 students and she organized a little Christmas recital for them at church. 2 of the students were sick on performance day, but 5 of them were there either playing piano, singing or playing guitar. Emma played Jolly Old St. Nick and O Christmas Tree and she did a great job!


We spent Thanksgiving in Little Rock this year and we had a great time with my family. We went down on Wednesday night and stayed until Sunday morning. We usually come back home on Friday or Saturday, but with the Hogs playing LSU in LR this year, we stuck around so John could join my Dad at the game. I am so glad we did because it was wonderful not rushing through the weekend.

My family always serves Thanksgiving Lunch at the Rescue Mission in Little Rock. They have done it for about 10-11 years and we have joined them every year we have been in LR for Thanksgiving. The last time we were there, Emma was 4. It is always a neat time to think beyond yourself and serve some guys who have been through the trenches. My girls did great and really rose to the occasion of serving. Emma was amazing. She might have drove a few of the guys bonkers with how often she asked if they needed anything! :) She loves a job and she was constantly asking what she could do. She passed out dessert, got napkins and drinks. It was awesome and a joy to watch. Brooklyn did a great job too! We were not able to give her as much freedom there, so she stuck with me passing out desserts or with my Dad doing drinks.
We spent the majority of our morning there, so we have never had time to actually cook a meal for ourselves. My parents started the tradition of going to Cracker Barrel a few years back. It often saddens me that we are not at home cooking in the kitchen together, but it really does work out better. 4 of my Dad's 5 kids were at dinner this year, which was really cool.

The rest of the weekend was spent hanging out, doing crafts, playing with Wikki Stix, watching football, playing in leaves, celebrating Em's birthday (another post for that), a little Christmas shopping, lots of snuggling with Andi and just being together. We were able to snap a few pictures of the girls in their matching shirts. As you can see, Brooklyn wasn't wanting to pose when John had his camera out and once she decided to pose, Andi lost it. My phone captured that!


Allyn, my best friend since first grade, and I carpool for school. Carley is in kindergarten and Emma and Davis are in first grade. We don't live in the same neighborhood, but we all like each other a lot and it has worked out great for us to carpool since Emma and Davis started kindergarten. I finally documented my cute little car load!

Pre-Halloween Fun

The four of us carved a pumpkin and did our annual "ghost" foot paintings the weekend before Halloween. I love watching the progression of the ghosts get bigger each year!

The girls always have good intentions of helping John carve our pumpkin, but it is really John who does it all. Brooklyn hung in there for a while, but Emma would not touch the "goo". I think John did a great job. :)

Brooklyn had a party at her school for Halloween. They got to dress up and all the teachers dressed up too. One of her teachers dressed up as a doctor. Her other teacher dressed as Dora, but I didn't get a picture of her.

Emma's school has a party called Birthday Bash for Halloween. The lady who her school is named after birthday is on Halloween, so they have a party for her in their classes and then a big carnival that night. It is always a lot of fun! Brooklyn loves going to Emma's parties! The other two pictures are of Emma's sweet friends Jordan and Elise.

Happy Halloween

Our girls picked their costumes back in early September. Brooklyn was determined to be Fancy Nancy and Emma wanted to be Lucy from the Chronicles of Narnia. I think they both pulled it off really well! We had fun eating Papa Murphy's pumpkin shaped pizza for dinner as a family and then we headed to the Hannon's neighborhood to Trick Or Treat with them!

One the Hannon's neighbors go ALL out for Halloween. This year they dressed as Mickey and Minnie and their house had Disney Halloween decorations. They also handed out full size Hershey bars. :)

Halloween is one of Belle's favorite nights of the year. We get the baby gate out and set it up at the front door so she can watch all the trick or treaters. She loves it!

Capture Arkansas

Our State newspaper does an annual photo competition called Capture Arkansas. Photographers submit pictures taken in Arkansas, place them in various competitive categories, and then the user community votes for their favorites.

Over 2,000 people submitted/participated. Over 75,000 photos were submitted. And 3.5 million votes were cast. Somewhere near 220 photos were selected for the coffee table book that was recently published. John got one photo chosen to be in the book, and this is it. Pretty amazing, huh? I was very proud of him! John has been doing a daily Photoblog for 2010. Its pretty amazing to see all he has done!

John's Dad also participated in the competition and also got a photograph published. It happens to be a picture of my brother in law fishing. He thinks he's famous now. :)

Monday, December 27

Funny words.....

There are words every day that Brooklyn says that make me smile, but here a few I have written down over the past few months:

"I'm all out of injury (energy)!"

"Can I please have some se'dert (dessert)?"

"I need my gankie (blankie)."

While we were at Disney World, on the Safari in Animal Kingdom, we saw some baboons with very red bottoms. She yelled out as loud as she could, "Mom, look at thems underpants!"

On a not so happy note, she has started to use the word loser. We have no idea where she heard it, but its not good. She has been disciplined quite a few times for using it towards Emma. BUT, on this particular day it was hard to get on to her. The two of us were in the car on the way home from school and she was telling me about her day. She told me she did not call anyone a loser. Then it was quiet for a moment and she said, "Mom, I think Satan is a loser." I agreed, but reminded her not to use the word. :)

I thought I would leave you with a random picture I took of our very own Halloween Princess Bride cooking in the kitchen. The outfits she comes up with are hilarious!

Spelling and Writing

When we named Brooklyn, we knew that it might be first grade before she learned to spell her name, but she surprised us and learned while she was 4! She started spelling her name in October and then out of the blue one day wrote it out along with Emma, Mom and Dad. I thought her teachers had been working with her on it at school and they thought I had been working on it with her. Granted, we have worked a little, but I had never seen her do it that well. Way to go B!

Watch D.O.G. Dad

Watch D.O.G.S. is a National program that actually started here in Springdale. They encourage Dads to take a day or 1/2 day off work to help in the schools and provide extra security. John was signed up to do it last year and a conflict at the school happened and he was unable to do it. Emma was so sad! John promised her that he would do it towards the beginning of the school year this year. She knew the day and she could not wait! She woke up that morning and the first thing out of her mouth was, "Daddy gets to come to school with me today!" John mainly helped out in Emma's classroom and assisted Mrs. Waterman in whatever she needed help with. He also had certain times to patrol the building. Brooklyn and I always help Em's teacher on Fridays, so we were able to snap a picture of the two of them eating lunch together. John was worn out, but he has a great time. It allowed him to see classroom interaction and get to know the kids in Emma's class.

A Terrific Kid

Emma won the Terrific Kid award at school in October. Each month, the 1st and 2nd grade teachers pick two students from their class who have been "terrific" that month. Emma and Henry got chosen from Mrs. Waterman's class. Emma's best boy friend, Davis, got chosen from his class too. It was fun for them to share this special award. They had a small assembly for the parents of the kids chosen and the kids chosen. We have always thought Em was terrific, but its nice to see her get acknowledged for it, especially when her love language is "words of encouragement".

My Dad's 80th Birthday

My sweet Dad turned 80 on October 16th and we headed to LR for the big celebration. Luckily, his birthday fell on a Saturday so were able to celebrate on the actual day. My Mom had planned a dinner party for him at Trio's many months before we knew the time for the Arkansas vs. Auburn football game. Anyone who knows my Dad, knows he doesn't miss games. He has been known to wear an ear piece and a radio in his pocket to events he couldn't get out of during the games. :) The game came down to the very end, but luckily it was over just in time for the party.

He didn't want anything big, so my Mom planned a nice dinner with 4 other couples and all my Dad's kids plus spouses. The meal was great, but the best part was all the nice words that his friends toasted. I know how great he is and what an honor to hear those words from his peers. I can't even tell you the last time that all 5 of his kids were in the same room together. For his 80th birthday, Cathy and I arranged all 5 of us to meet up for a picture. John photographed us all and we were able to give him the picture on his birthday. The last time a picture of all of us had been taken was when I was in 6th grade.

My Dad is the youngest 80 year old I know! He still works full time and absolutely loves what he does. He loves the Lord and loves his family more than anything in the world. He has 5 children, 11 grandkids, and 7 great grandkids. He is great at showing his love and telling us as often as he can how much we mean to him. I love you Dad!

A New Niece!

I got a phone call around 11:45pm on October 7th from my sister saying they were on their way to the hospital. Her contractions were close and hurting. I don't know the exact time that I got a call back, but I believe it was around 1:30am on October 8th. Andi was here!! (and quickly, I might add!) She was 2 weeks early and a whopping 5 pounds! She was a little peanut. As much as I wanted to be there for her birth, that just wasn't possible. Not even for my parents, who stayed with Claire in the middle of the night.

The girls and I left around 2:00 that afternoon to drive to Little Rock for the weekend. It was so fun to meet Andi and be able to help with Claire back at their house. The girls were fascinated with Andi, especially Emma. Cathy, T and Andi came home on Saturday afternoon and we had a great time oohing and ahhing and taking pictures!

Here is my favorite of the pictures that my sister's friends, Laura, took of Andi. She was about a week old.

Every Monday, Emma's teacher has them write about what they did that weekend. This was the sweet entry that was sent home with Emma later in the week!

Sunday, December 26

Happy 4th Birthday Brooklyn

This picture was taken on the night of October 5th. It was the last day my baby would be 3! Precious, precious cuddle bug. Our little "B"!

On October 6th, Brooklyn turned 4! She has been so excited to turn 4. Apparently, its a big number. B has wanted a "big girl booster seat" like Emma for a long time. We told her she had to be 4, so whenever we asked her what she wanted for her birthday, she would tell us a "big girl seat with butterflies". Seriously, this was all she asked for, so I felt like the least we could do was get her one with butterflies like she asked. I looked hard and finally found one online. We set it all up for her, so when we got her up that morning, she saw it first thing. She was so happy! We got her a couple Fancy Nancy books and a Dora Wii game that has been a big hit for her. Finally a Wii game that she can play easily. John and Emma headed off for the day and Brooklyn and I snuggled up on the couch for a little while before we left for BSF. She picked out her outfit for the day and was so proud. She told everyone she was the Birthday Girl! After BSF, we met John for lunch at Whole Hog (B's choice: I love this girl!). Brooklyn and I headed home and broke open her new Wii game. We had fun playing it until Em got home from school. We spent the rest of the night as a family celebrating B.

Brooklyn is a precious little girl. She knows how to turn on the charm and she knows how to throw a fit. When she is sweet, she is too sweet to even explain. When she is "not so nice", she is really not nice. B still loves to snuggle and I try to take advantage of it as often as possible. I know she will grow out of it at some point. She LOVES Emma and can't wait for her to get home from school to play. They are best friends and I cherish and thank God for it daily. B plays well alone and as much as she loves playing with Emma after school, I think she likes her daytime play with just us. Her best friend is Whitlee Walker and we get to see her at ballet every Tuesday. JB and I trade off taking the girls to play each week. It is so fun and we are going to miss our Tuesdays with Whitlee when she starts kindergarten next year. Brooklyn loves dance class! She takes with 4 of her best friends and she looks forward to Tuesdays. B goes to school two days a week this year and enjoys going. She has 2 great teachers who love on her so well and she has sweet friends too. She has learned to spell and write her name this year. She has mastered her ABC's and 123's and knows almost every sound the letters make. She loves to dress up (just like her sister at this age) and loves to have a good time. She is learning verses and songs in BSF and looks forward to Bible study each Wednesday. Brooklyn loves her family, loves her friends and really just loves life. She is so funny and says the cutest and funniest things imaginable. (that will be another post) She has really become my buddy this year. She is so easy to take places and without having to worry about getting back home for naps every day, we are able to be more relaxed with our schedule. I'm so thankful for Brooklyn and I am so very glad that she misses that school cut off date and gets to stay home with me one more year!