Monday, November 20

Bessie B. Moore Award Ceremony

jack was asked to attend the Bessie B. Moore Awards Luncheon in Little Rock on wednesday, the 15th! it was such an honor and an experience that he and i will never forget.
it was held at the impressive Clinton Presidential Library.

jack's 4th grade teachers were receiving this award from the Economics Arkansas organization for their 4th grade project last year, Woods Wondrous Wacky World. economics arkansas gives this award to 10-11 teachers each year in the state and it is quite an honor. beforehand, i really had no idea what a big deal this was for either the teachers or for jack. it was truly, a very special experience.

because jack was the manager of the project, his teacher, Mrs Howald, asked him (along with two other students with big jobs) to come and speak about his experience.
there were about 150 people at this prestigious luncheon, including the president and CEO of Arcbest Judy McReynolds, who was the keynote speaker. she is an impressive lady! there were members of the state school board present, plus the board of Economics Arkansas and many of its private funders. 

when we got there and were being seated, they realized they didn't have a seat for me at the same table as jack. i later put it together that one of the other students had brought his mom and sister and the sister hadn't rsvp'd and had taken my seat at the table. it wasn't a big deal although it would've been more fun to sit with jack instead of at the table next to him. I'm so bad at small talk, then add in the fact that i was about 30 years younger than the next "young" person at my table and it wasn't very pleasant for the folks around me I'm sure. sorry old man seated to my right for my lack of conversation skills!

i so wish chris had been able to be there. not only does he need a day away from work (they have been extremely busy lately because one of his coworkers was in a serious car accident a couple weeks ago so they are all taking on extra work to cover for him) but also because he knows how to work the camera... all of these pictures are so dark because the light was coming from behind and i had no clue what settings to change. chris would've been able to compensate for the back lighting. and he probably would've thought to take a picture of the room as a whole. its gorgeous!

i took these next two photos from google

each seat was $30, but as an invited speaker, jack and i didn't have to pay. the food was so delicious!

jack LOVED the chef's salad and talked about it a couple times on the drive home. we also had very tender rolls, herb roasted chicken breast with roasted garlic and parmesan whipped potatoes, agro dolce green beans, and brandy pan jus. for dessert they had either the salted caramel cheesecake (like in the photo i took) or a raspberry white chocolate cake. both jack and i sat at seats with the cake and thought it was very tasty. after i asked jack which fork he had used to eat his salad. he said "don't worry, i got it right". i pressed him to find out which one again "don't worry mom, i used the smallest fork first. the one above my salad plate". i guess we don't ever have fancy dinners with our kids haha! at least he was smart enough to know it was tea in the glass next to his water!

after a blessing on the food and speakers, we began eating while the speakers started. first up was Mrs Howald and Mrs Rodebush, along with the three kids.
jack and his two classmates were the only students invited to attend, so it was a room of adults. i was so impressed with all three of the kids, they did a phenomenal job with their speeches!!!

jack asked for some input before he wrote his speech, but besides that he wrote it all on his own. he told me afterwards that the other two kids had their parents either write it for them or help a lot. I'm grateful for an independent kid. I've got three others that aren't, so i really appreciate it!

i know its hard to believe, but these pictures are edited and lightened up. eek! they were so dark before you couldn't even see faces. i wish my brain could retain all the tips and info chris gives me about photography!

after the speeches, all the teachers were given their awards along with a brief synopsis of their class projects.

jack and ellie's 2nd grade teacher, Mrs Been, was also receiving the award for her 2nd grade project last year, so that was pretty cool to be there to celebrate with her as well. when we walked in the room she said "my jack is here!! i didn't know you were coming and now I'm so excited to hear you!" then she called her husband over and said "its our jack! he's here!". it was heart warming. Kim and her husband were kind enough to come to jack's baptism back in 2014.

Mrs Howald, Avi,  Lai'el, Jack, Mrs Rodebush

Jack and Mrs Been

Mrs Howald, Jack, Mrs Been

these two teachers have been very important to jack and as parents, chris and i are so thankful for them. they have both pushed jack as a scholar and have tried to challenge him, but have done it with so much love and encouragement. I'm sure he would've loved any teacher he would've had wherever we lived, but i feel like one of the blessings of being in arkansas right now has been the teachers that our children have had. they truly are amazing. out of the 11 teachers receiving this award, 4 of them are teachers at woods elementary! and our elementary won the blue ribbon award from washington dc this year as well. we have been very pleased with our school experience here.

tried to get a pic with bill, and jack snuck in a thumbs down at the last second. sorry bill.

we originally thought chris would have the day off because it was a post call day, but he didn't. it really made both jack and i sad that he didn't get to experience this day with jack. but we are so thankful for a great friend, jenny westcott, who was willing to watch owen for the day until chris got off work, so that i could spend this special time with jack. i was so proud of him as he walked around, shaking hands, saying hello, and speaking in front of 150 professionals. but my favorite part of the day was the 2.5 hour drive there and back. we talked about nothing important and did some silly dancing to some of our favorite songs, all while the rain was pouring down. it was something that i really enjoyed and judging but the smile jack had most of the day, i'd say he enjoyed it too!

Thursday, November 16


baking is my happy place

tried two recipes from king arthur flour recently and was really pleased with the results!
the crust for their blueberry hand pies was out of this world!

 jack is in the GATE program at school (gifted and talented education) and they recently went to the district quiz bowl and had a great time! they won the first round and then placed second in the finals.

ellie had basketball tryouts on the 7th and did really well. she is super happy with the team she is on because there are a couple girls from her class on the team as well and both their dad's are the coaches. looking forward to a fun season cheering for our favorite girl!

the school held an art contest for the k-2nd graders for veterans day. the theme they had to draw from was What Does America Mean To Me?
charlie won 1st place!!!

he's already used his winnings, a $15 walmart gift card, to buy books. he's really into Dogman right now.

sweet owen. 
still loving his b-day jammies and rocks them day and night. 

owen was playing the handbells the other night. he was ringing them quietly and then out of the corner of his eye he watched me as he gradually got louder and louder and louder. he was ringing his little heart out, and by this time everyone was watching him, when he got a little too pleased and excited and WHACK! he rung his own bell... with a handbell.

his eye lid is green now, but the swelling has gone down finally.

he had some pretty sweet bedhead the other morning. i desperately wanted to nuzzle it, but owen doesn't allow nuzzling.

he does allow hot cocoa on cold mornings when the big kids are at school.

its no secret that owen is stubborn. he recently asked me if he could eat a raw potato. i told him why that wouldn't be a good idea, but he wouldn't listen. after some tears i finally cut a chunk of raw potato for him. after two crisp bites he decided that maybe mom was right about raw potatoes.

there are some nights when we flip through the channels and nothing is on so we resort to... americas funniest videos. i detest that show. but the kids (and chris surprisingly) get a kick out of it. well, while jack was showering we saw this little prank that a guy did to his son where he "tested his son's reflexes". i of course said "chris! do that to jack when he gets out of the shower!"

jack is such a good sport and had a good laugh.
the little boys wanted a turn, so by the end of the night, we had 3 very wet-bottomed boys.

Monday, November 13

Owen is THREE!

owen had a birthday!

we had to celebrate it on the 6th because chris was on call the 7th, but owen didn't know any different. he was so excited because all day he got to help with birthday party preparations! we went and picked out a cake at the bakery, got some balloons, and decorated. he had a great time getting ready for "owen's buh-day" as he kept saying all day! 
it's owen's buh-day! it's owen's buh-day!

he's very into baseball these days, so when chris brought home a special baseball tshirt, he had to put it on for the party.

he got a helmet from grandpa and grandma browne, which he kept on during the rest of his gift opening and basically hasn't taken it off for over a week. its always on his head.

rik and andrew sent some paw patrol jammies and a chase backpack and again, thats pretty much all he has worn the past week, day and night :)

and then, last but not least, grandpa and grandma brower helped us get owen his own bike!

oh, and daddy surprised all 4 kids, not just owen, with their own baseball mitts! owen had been trying to wear chris' mitt every time we would play catch, so now he has one that fits. but, in true owen fashion, he still wants to use the adult glove. 

i just didn't feel like making a cake. and as i'm typing this I'm remembering that i didn't make his cake last year either... maybe next year?
anyways, i took him to a bakery called sweet boutique and they had three flavors of a blank white cake and for whatever decorations we wanted on it, it only cost $25. i thought that was a pretty great deal considering all i had to do was stick a couple toys on top and not have to think about it anymore. owen got to watch as they piped on the decorations and kept saying "for owen's buh-day? pwease? yay! it's owen's buh-day!"

after presents and before cake we had dinner. we let owen decide and he chose: mac n cheese, steaks, tater tots, and corn.
we brought the keyboard into the kitchen so ellie could play "happy birthday" while we sang.

although it has been challenging trying to learn how to pedal, especially because our driveway and the street are sloped, owen has been working hard at it. he even brings it inside the house and rides his trike around the couch and kitchen when its too chilly outside.

the night of his birthday i had to teach chris' webelos class because he was working late. so before we played at the church, we went out to chick fil a for dinner. i think owen felt very special both days celebrating all things, well, owen!

the night before his birthday i went back and read all about the night owen was born and looked at photos and watched videos. so many memories and emotions came to my mind. i remembered a few things about that night that hadn't been written down that i think are funny. 
the night before owen was born was kind of busy. 
the kids had a school skate night at the roller skating rink that thursday night. watching charlie try to skate was very fun and felt exciting when he finally started to get comfortable after many, many falls. ellie and jack were pretty much pro's on their rollerblades. we visited with other parents and i remember saying "we still have two more weeks although i wish this baby would come sooner cause I'm so tired!". ha! then when we got the kids in bed, i stayed up late making jack's birthday cake: a pumpkin cheesecake with a white chocolate topping. i can't remember why we were so behind on a birthday cake for jack, but it probably had something to do with us being super busy with fun stuff because bart and janie were in town and it was so close to halloween and also jack's baptism. so when gma and gpa took a quick couple days to go visit branson, i decided to make the cheesecake so we could have it when they returned. anyways, we were skating and baking late into the night and then i woke up at 1 am with contractions and he was born an hour and a half later. something else i think is funny is that this was the only delivery that the nurses told me to get out of bed within a couple minutes after his birth. they said walk around and hop in the shower, you'll feel great. and surprisingly, the shower was awesome! the nurse helped me bathe, which sounds weird now and I'm sure it still is, but the warm water was so relaxing and invigorating at the same time and made the next few hours so comfortable.
chris ran home after the kids woke up so he could get them ready for school. hearing their accounts of waking up to find katie smith at our house is pretty sweet. they were confused at first but then she of course explained where chris and i were and that we had a new baby. she was very sweet and let chris tell them its a baby brother once he got there. 
chris brought the cheesecake to the hospital that night when grandma and grandpa made it back from branson, so we could celebrate both of the boy's birthdays... and after all that, i didn't even want to try  a bite of the cheesecake haha.
anyways, lots of rambling but i guess when your youngest is growing up so quickly, you have the right to do that :) 

we sure love our owen even though he is feisty and pretty much rules the roost around here. he is determined and persistent and downright stubborn most of the time. hopefully he will use those characteristics for good... if he does, he will be unstoppable! he is very athletic and loves to be outdoors. we are so thankful that he joined our crew that early friday morning 3 years ago... even if it was a whirlwind!

Thursday, November 2

halloween of '17

we carved pumpkins on monday night for FHE. this was the first time in 3 years... mostly because i don't really enjoy it. but the kids do, so it was time to do it again. and we had fun!

owen knew instantly that he wanted a cat. he loves cats... from a distance. if they get too close he gets scared. i suppose thats why he wanted a cat... they are a little spooky!

ellie drew her own silly face. its the second from the right in the top picture. the one below is jack's face and he did a lot of the carving on his own.

and charlie wanted bats

 on halloween, chris was the call guy at work, so we didn't know if he would make it home in time for the festivities. we had our traditional mummy dogs for dinner and then got dressed up and headed out.

we had superman, a mummy, and rhett & link from good mythical morning!

originally, they planned to cut some diamonds in their shirts to show their belly buttons, like in the belly button video rhett and link sing, but it was cold and rainy so mom vetoed the idea. i'll post the video at the bottom. also, charlie had the perfect wig to wear but decided it was too itchy, so he went with a more recent Link 'do.

don't be fooled by the "easy" mummy costume.
this costume was a headache from start to finish!
wrapping her up caused me so much frustration and anguish that i was yelling at all the kids and may have even said a bad word during one of my yelling outbursts. it wasn't pretty. trying to figure out how tight/loose to wrap was tricky. 

by the end of the night, everything from her waist down had gathered around her knees and ankles causing her to walk like a real mummy, not to mention the random pieces that were dragging behind her which others stepped on and tripped her. part way through the night we went to the car and grabbed the scissors and cut it all off. you can see some of her wrappings dragging behind her in this next picture.

it rained from the start and was pretty chilly, but luckily dad got off work and joined us which made us all happy! the rain stopped and we had a great time. 
just like last year, owen was the leader of the pack! he loooooves trick or treating and runs from door to door, refusing any help from anyone. and that lasted almost to the very end of the night, when he finally gave in and let us carry his heavy loot between houses.

we first went out with our friends the westcott's in their neighborhood. they had been out for a little while before we got there (trying to avoid the rain), so once they finished we headed to the tenney's neighborhood to finish the night. taking a picture at night of squirmy kids is no easy feat!

we made it home, bathed kiddos, read scriptures and crawled in bed all by 9. i thought that was pretty amazing!

chris was lucky to get his post call day off of work, so we hit up walmart first thing after dropping off the kids to hit up some halloween sales. I'm really regretting not buying this shark head.

but I'm very glad we snagged iron man for a couple bucks! sure has made owen a happy boy and watching him march up to stores and around the neighborhood in his suit sure has made chris and i smile.

the kids got so much candy its ridiculous. 
owen had a little over 5 lbs, which was the least amount out of everyone and ellie took the winning spot at 7 lbs 9oz. wowzers!

let the trading begin!

we couldn't pass up a couple creepy masks that only cost $2.50 to scare the kids with, haha! we've still got a creepy chimpanzee mask to get them with another time, muwahahahaha!