August 2018

The month of August was jam packed with all sorts of exciting things. Here's a glimpse into all the goings-on at the Casa de Melton.

While celebrating Laura's birthday; we introduced Aylin to the fun, spunky town of Eureka. We enjoyed poking around in shops and I thoroughly embarrassed Aylin by putting on a purple yarn wig. It was so fun, I really think I ought to go back and purchase it. We tried on all sorts of festive headgear... Aylin also enjoyed entertaining her sweet little cousin Eliza at the restaurant.


Aylin started FOURTH GRADE!!! She's Big Girl on Campus this year, and they start getting a taste for Middle School next year with having a Homeroom Teacher and a separate teacher for Literacy. She is loving it so far. 


I bought myself a paper planner for the first time since owning a smart phone. It has helped tremendously in ordering all the things that swirl around in my head. Plus it has lots of fun stickers, one can't go wrong with stickers. 


We decided to head over to Jenks, OK and visit the aquarium. We hadn't been there since Aylin was 3 or 4, so it was fun to go back and see things with our Big Kid. We saw all kinds of incredible things; a giant sea tortious, river otters, a beaver, sting rays, a giant octopus, pregnant sea horses, sharks, glowy coral, there was a super cool exhibit with electric eels where it had a speaker so you could hear the electric charges as well as a meter so you could see the voltage!



Jeff and I have both had scale victories this month; and both of us able to fit into smaller clothes that we hadn't worn in a while. Further proof that sticking to meal planning and healthy eating and exercise is finally working for both of us at the same time. It's not an easy journey, but it is so worth it. 


Little Brother decided to move to Charlotte and say Au Revoir to Bentonville, so Little Sis came to help him with driving. I had a little farewell dinner before they drove out.


Another family fun weekend was a trip over to Blanchard Springs Cavern near Mountain View, AR. I did not take an photos because it would have been hard for me to do so in the low light of the caves and o figured the website had better photos than I could take any way. So do click over and see a bit of what we went through. We went on two cave tours; the Dripstone Trail and the Discovery Trail. Both were truly magnificent. The Dripstone Trail was an easier stroll with decently lit walkways and handicap accessible. The Discovery Trail, however, was a fast paced tour up and down wet stairs with metal handrails slick with bat dung. There were a few places I had a little trouble with my vision, but between a cane* that we purchased in the gift shop, and following behind Jeff and Aylin so I could watch where they were and how they stepped I managed alright. We started out with the more easy Dripstone Trail, then headed into Mountain View for a bite of lunch and found a little BBQ joint, then headed back to Blanchard Springs Caverns to do the harder Discovery Trail. Even though it was a challenging tour I was really glad we did it. It truly is amazing to see the awesome things that happen below the surface of the earth. A few thoughts from Jeff on our trip to the caves. Once we were done with our tours of the caves we matched up with Papa Joe and Grandma Linda in Yellville for more BBQ. One can never have too much BBQ. 

*It seems to be that we've started a tradition of sorts where I intend to bring my cane somewhere and then forget it, or think "Bah, I'll be fine. I don't need it" and then realize that I'd do better with one. So at this point I now have 4 canes. My white tip blind guide cane, a wood hiking stick, and 2 metal adjustable hiking sticks. This now begs the question as to whether or not I should get an umbrella rest to store all my various canes in. Maybe even find a way to creatively label them. "Blanchard Springs Cavern Cane", "Chimney Rock, Colorado Cane", etc. 

And a few random  snippets from the month:



And so ends the exciting journeys of the Melton Clan for August!

July 2018

Here's a quick fly-by of the month of July at Casa de Melton


We had some people over on the 4th, we ate lots of food and had lots of fun catching the fireworks over the trees and lighting a few ourselves. Kids got wet, bellies got filled, and lots of words and laughs were loosed.


We had a rather exciting weekend where our landlord had new flooring installed. Of course nothing went according to plan, and so we had to be flexible. Initially it was only supposed to take 5 hours, and the flooring company was going to show up between 10-11. So that gave Jeff and I time to get up and about and have coffee then start moving as much furniture out of carpeted areas as possible. Well the flooring company showed up at 9, so we scurried about to try and get a few more things done before getting out of the way. To pass some time we decided to visit Lake Atalanta and Jeff went for a walk around the lake while I hung out with the Monkey while she played. She had a blast until she encountered a bee, which she managed to swat onto her belly and get stung. From there we got smoothies for lunch and killed some time. Then we had some cats who we were cat sitting for so we decided to head over there and give some attention to the felines. After that we headed back to the house since we were past the 5 hour mark. We came back to a lot of work still needing to be done and we were seriously doubting whether we would be able to sleep in our own beds that night. I messaged with the friend whose cats we were watching and asked if we could be weird and take showers at their house so we could go to church that evening and hope hope hope that when we came home from church they would be done with floors. Thankfully, they were done when we got home, and we were able to sleep in our own beds and the new floors look great.


We decided to check out the new Skylight theater downtown (food served at your seat in the theater!) and we watched The Incredibles 2. Great follow up to the original. And yay for boozy-milkshakes! 

Aylin and I went through my hopechest while it was temporarily not in use as the TV stand, and got out my wedding dress, along with a dress I wore to a friend's wedding, and my prom dress. Aylin had a blast trying on all the pretty dresses!


For the month of July we had both usually hot weather - and then at the end of the month had unusually cool weather. When it was hot, it was melt-yo-face hot. It's not my favorite thing. I loved the unseasonably cool weather we got briefly.


Jeff got brave and let Aylin and I style his beard. Aylin dubbed him Pippy Beard-stalkings. That one'll go down in the history books.


Aylin and I spent the day with a neighbor friend down at The Beyond exhibit at Crystal Bridges (Georgia O'Keeffe, and artists inspired by her works), it was pretty amazing although there were some interesting nudes that I had to steer the Ginger Girl away from. The few that she did catch she was rather incredulous that anyone would want to paint someone naked. It was a bit comical, actually. Aylin was drawn to the skull with antlers and decided that Papa Joe and Grandma Linda needed to see it, so we bought them a postcard of it. We also enjoyed this other one, and abstract by Kim Keever. I dubbed it The Emotional Storm. Because we've had a few of those at our house this month... 


Lastly a quick update on my weightloss journey - I ended the month at 29 pounds lost in total since January, as well as a few other fun stats. The inches lost stats are just since April, because like a goofball I didn't start with measurements like I should have. But I'll take these wins, regardless! It was also pretty fun that when we did go to the museum it was one of those cooler days I'd mentioned so I decided to go with jeans for the day. I put on a pair of skinny jeans I hadn't been able to wear all last year and ended up with skinny jeans that were a bit saggy and falling down on me some. It was a fun problem to have!


And that’s a wrap! 


June 2018

As I sit in the shade on a bench at a park while my monkey swings her little heart out, I’m reminded of how fortunate we are to be living downtown in a newly vibrant community. There are positives and negatives to a growing city, but generally the experience has been really good for our little family. I enjoy being able to be a thriving social introvert and engaging with people when I want to and as I’m able, and then hiding in a hole when I need to as well. I hope that over the next several years as the area continues to grow that we don’t lose the charm and sense of community that we still have.

Having said that - here’s a little recap of what we’ve been up to this last month! 


The Blubie (Blue Subie, like that?), got a few accessories so that we can haul bike(s) & other things™️. While the Bearded Guy assembled & mounted the bike rail and cargo basket, The Ginger Girl used one of the giant shipping boxes to make herself a car. 


The Ginger Girl and I spent the day at the Amazeum, and she looooved the giant tunnel and slide that was made entirely of clear tape!  It was pretty amazing. She also found a Pegasus in the “how gears work” area and may have spazzed a bit. 


Something we've been praying about and chewing on for quite some time now was Jeff attending the Renovaré program. You can read more about it here. But a few fun/interesting points are:

1) it's a direction that our church is also moving towards

2) it's something we started saving for but then the car stuff happened and that whole picture changed

3) Jeff got a preliminary acceptance but was told he may not be in this next cohort due to space. On the last day he was supposed to get a decision one way or another when we were starting to question if this was the next step for us or not - he finally got the acceptance letter and was invited to this years program.

It's been an exciting and interesting journey. We are curious to see what God has in store for us in this next phase. But generally what this means is that over the next 2 years Jeff will be going through their Spiritual Formation program that is an online and in person program. Twice a year he'll make the trek to Chicago for their in person sessions, and throughout the year he'll have books to read, papers to write, and group discussions to participate in. 

Aylin got to go to Camp Grandma where they took her to Silver Dollar City and rode coasters and other fun rides, then they went back to Branson for shopping and Go-Carts and Bumper Boats. Plus they went swimming (maybe in the Buffalo). I think they all had a blast and were thoroughly worn out by the end of the week. While Jeff and I got a little Peace and Quiet™️. I even got a momma's night in (hello sappy movies, tissues, and wine!!) while Jeff had a Bachelors Party to attend. It was also very well timed because the day Grandma texted to see if they could wisk the monkey away Aylin had been getting a case of the Bored Summer Blues™️ and was beginning to drive me bonkers. 


We bought a slip-n-slide and had some wet fun!


The Friday before Father’s Day we got a phone call from Linda that Joe (Jeff’s dad) had been in a wreck with the four-wheeler out on the farm and was on his way to the hospital. They were getting ready to move cattle and while driving up hill the toolbox on the front of the four-wheeler came loose and flew back towards Joe's head. In an attempt to avoid the toolbox he lost control of the vehicle and ended up pinned under it. Ultimately he ended up in a lot better shape than he should have under the circumstances. He fractured his pelvis on both sides but no injuries that required surgery. He spent several days in the hospital before being released to a rehab facility since he wasn’t where he could move around on his own just yet. However as of his birthday (July 3rd!) he has made it home! It will be a long, slow recovery but we are all thankful and grateful that he is 1) alive, and 2) not hurt more than he is. 


For Father’s Day I surprised both The Bearded Guy and his Sidekick with an excursion on the Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway! I got us all tickets for the lunch train and it was super fun hanging out with these cheese balls. We also showered our favorite guy with cheesy gifts, and yummy food because that’s how we roll. 


The Ginger Girl has had lots of fun playing in the sun.


Shenanigans 


Year 2 of CWE fun! Due to rain (and soggy parking areas) we weren’t able to stick around and get Aylin set up in her cabin. But she wasn’t phased by it a bit. She was SUPER excited for camp. I had been a little disappointed because I wasn’t seeing pictures of her throughout the week, then on Friday the picture that I did finally get I got worried because I thought she’d been crying. {worried momma} Turns out they had been told to look they were doing the craft even though they didn’t yet have their supplies; so her face was actually confused/blank and not sad. So fake candids don’t really work. All in all she had a blast. She did tons of new things: tennis, archery, candle making, soft ball, fishing, aqua ball. She had 2 friends from last year’s cabin that were in her cabin again this year (yay for friendly faces). She spent a ton of time in the water, I think most of her mish-mash time (free time each afternoon where they get to choose what they want to do) was spent in one of the many pools/cove/river. She raved about the food and how she got to have cherry cokes and dessert at lunch every day. All-in-all it sounds like she had the best year yet at camp. We are so glad that we are fortunate enough to have the opportunity for her to go to such a great camp. It’s been a tremendous opportunity for growth in great ways (both for her and for momma). Aylin growing in confidence and independence, momma growing in letting her baby go and giving her space to blossom. Particularly after my little freak out Friday worrying about my baby all to find that it was NBD and all was well.  


AND while the Monkey was away The Bearded Guy and I got to go on several dates! We had a first for us: in 15 years of being together (that’s right! We had our first date on Mt. Nebo in Russellville June 2003!) we had never been to dinner and a movie! We also experienced our first movie with reclining seats - I don’t get to drag him to a movie very often. Aside from our dinner and a movie we opted for apps and adult beverages at Tusk & Trotter, and Table Mesa. It’s fun to get to do date nights with my guy. 


Last but not least I hit another milestone with my weight loss: 25 pounds (+ a little!) lost since January! It’s been really hard, but I am really glad to finally be seeing results. Finding the right diet & exercise routine has not been easy. But I am hopeful that I can continue making healthy choices and continue to make progress. I’m only about halfway there, though, so here’s hoping I can keep the ball rolling and maybe by January I’ll hit my target! 


May 2018

It's that time again - for my monthly recap!

Aylin and I moseyed through First Friday and she got her face painted (she loved it...)


We decided to take the Soobie out on some dirt roads and go for a couple of hikes. Turns out going on two back-to-back hikes so soon after being released back to normal duty from my surgery restrictions maybe wasn't such a wise idea. We got not quite out to the lookout on Hawks Bill Crag when I started to crash hard - dizzy, weak, out of breath. Jeff to the rescue - he ran ahead of Aylin and I back to the car to get more water and a granola bar while Aylin and I began slowly working our way back. We all slept good that night.  


Aylin earned one final "Off-The-Charts" for the school year, and got to make cupcakes with our sweet neighbor. They had so much fun and sprinkles were applied generously. Then Aylin and I topped it all off with an ice cream cone reward. 


My Loves generously spoiled me this year for Mother's Day - Aylin made my breakfast, she also made my a bracelet and a painted clay jewelry holder, plus they got me a fabulous Star Wars t-shirt, a Bob Ross figurine, and the most amazing vacuum ever a Shark! We also went out to dinner at Fish City where I thought I'd be adventurous and try clams - I tried them, and my curiosity has been satisfied. They are *not* something I will be trying again. 


We also put new flowers in the window boxes as well as the front triangle garden. 


I (Teena) started back at regular Zumba classes at the DAC. It was hard at first, but it has been fun to get back into it. It's also tremendously satisfying to troll Aylin with all my dance moves and to "ruin" her favorite songs with my moves. So. Much. Fun.


Aylin showed off her skills on her new recorder from school.


We found us a new hiking trail - Smith Creek Preserves - with waterfalls and a creek to play in, it was so beautiful! We found a huge, thick vine hanging over the trail and decided to swing like monkeys. 


We finally got the telescope out and viewed the big beautiful Full Moon. Aylin had a blast! Then later on Jeff and I were able to see Jupiter and 3 of it's moons. It's so incredible to be able to see those things so closely with so much detail. 

 

Last but not least we finally got to have our Last Day of School. 3rd grade is officially in the bag! 

 


And that's a wrap for May!

3rd Grade Spring Concert

Aylin’s School put on a 3rd Grade Spring Concert last night. I didn’t get amazing videos - from where I sat the lighting for my phone ended up washing them out. But you’ll get the general idea. Aylin got tons of complements on her pretty dress, and if you can manage to spot her in the videos she is front and center on the bottom row. I don’t know if you can catch him on my videos or not, but there’s a super fun kiddo on the front right he’s got on a green long sleeved shirt and he was super expressive - he was super fun to watch. 


Old Dan Tucker 
My Favorite Things 
Hand Jive

April 2018

April was an interesting month at the Melton casa. It was the coldest April ever recorded for NWA, we even got a bit of snow. It was often slow (and a bit boring) for me - as I was on physical restrictions post surgery. But we did have a bit of excitement.

We had a pretty low key Easter between cold and wet weather, and me being low energy from surgery recovery. Aylin had a lot of fun and enjoyed coloring eggs, as well as some fun things in her Easter basket.


Aylin got OFF-THE-CHARTS again at school and she got to have a fun ice cream date with our neighbor who has established a reward routine for when Aylin hits the off the chart goal. It's pretty special, and Aylin looks forward to their fun time together.

Nana came for a visit, and Aylin got to have some fun 1:1 time with her. They played games, and Aylin talked her ears off. 

I got to go on a women's retreat with church and had an amazing time. I got to have some productive in-plugged down time, I had some great conversations with lots of ladies, made new friends and got to hug friends I hadn't seen in a while. Soaked in the words that the awesome Sue Addington spoke to us about our Identity in Christ. Learned more about Enneagram, Love Languages, and personality types like Lion/Otter/Beaver/Golden Retriever. Sat by a camp fire, worshipped with tears flowing, made paper flowers, and leather earrings. It was such a great refreshing weekend! 

Aylin's school had a Breakfast for your Wonder Woman that I got to go to, and they also dressed up as Super Hero's for the day. 

We found a really cool luna moth in our front flower bed.

We ended up buying a new vehicle. It's a long story, and although we were hoping to be car payment free for a while longer than just a few months, it ended up being a good thing in the end. We got a great deal, and the process worked rather smoothly (as smoothly as car deal can go). It was the first pleasant car buying experience we've had in our marriage. Mostly because we communicated better and worked together to listen to each other, but also because Adventure Subaru treated us really well. (I also found out, thanks for the beverages available at Adventure Subaru that Blue Sky has some pretty amazing soda flavors that are no sugar sweetened with stevia, AWESOME!) Most importantly Jeff and I are both happy with the outcome. The vehicle hits the sweet spot for all of our needs; I am comfortable with where our payment landed, and Jeff is finally in a vehicle that he enjoys (rather than being stuck in a vehicle I chose before my vision crisis caused me to not be able to drive). And we are tremendously thankful for neighbors who were willing to be on call if the car deal went long so that someone was around to get Aylin off the bus. 
After the car deal was all settled Jeff got to turn around and head to Norfork for the men's retreat. While he was off having manly man time Aylin and I had a girls weekend. We had breakfast at the Bentonville Baking Company, shopped on the square, watched movies (Cinderella by Rogers and Hammerstein, Inside Out), made fun juice cocktails, ate junk food, and stayed up waaaaay too late. All in all it was a great weekend.
 

So that's a wrap for the month of April!

March 2018

A quick recap of the Melton Casa happenings for the month of March:


Jeff and I celebrated 13 years of married bliss (and by bliss I mean hard work, laughter, tears, highs and lows). We celebrated with an actual date night out and a babysitter. We did lovely things - like had a nice dinner out (we went to Copelands, which we reminisced that once upon a time Copeland's was one of the few nice restaurants in the area), then we went for dessert at Bentonville Baking Company followed by coffee at Onyx. 


We also got to see a bunch of brand new lambs out on Papa Joe's farm. Let me tell you, they are just as precious as you can imagine. They really do jump and hop around, and watching them frolic is just the cutest thing, and they are SO FLUFFY.

There were a couple of Ewes that had actually had triplets, which is problematic because we learned that sheep only have 2 nipples. So this cute little black dude with the white diamond was the smaller of the triplets and he got to come back to Papa's clinic to get bottle fed so that everyone gets a fighting chance to survive. Little Lambs On The Farm Video


I spent a good portion of the first half of the month pre-occupied by my (Teena) upcoming surgery. I poured my nervous energy into deep cleaning the house; getting everything as ready as possible for me to be out of commission for a bit. I had a hard time settling my brain because I didn't know what to expect, and the not knowing had me struggling. Jeff and Aylin were rock stars, though, and helped, and loved me through the chaos in my brain. We were thrown for a bit of a loop when we went in for my pre-op appointments and found out that the nurse who had told me the procedure would be outpatient and I would be home the same day - well she was wrong. Turns out all patients actually have to stay overnight after the procedure, which makes sense, and ultimately was a good thing. But it meant that we had to once again change plans for Aylin. But rock-star Grama Linda came to the rescue and even though it was her anniversary she met up with us to take Aylin for a few nights.


Spring Break: In spite of my surgery taking up a lot of brain space, Aylin got to have some fun. On Monday while I had my pre-op appointments Aylin got to go have a fun day with one of my sweet Taxi Ladies; she took Aylin to Chick-Fil-A, then they went and painted ceramics, and then they went out to lunch at The Crumpet. Topping all that off with a few nights with the grandparents (Shopping with Grama, lunch at Freddy's, and more baby lambs!) and it turned out to be a decent Spring Break after all for The Ginger Girl. 


Jeff and Aylin took (and still are!) such great care of me after surgery. Aylin waited on me hand and foot on Friday after coming back from her time with her grandparents. She stepped up her game big time by helping with laundry and dishes. We have been so proud of her and her willingness to help out around the house. She's a pretty great kiddo; we're lucky to have her. In some of my down time I did a little painting. I will likely do some more over the next few weeks since I'm not allowed to lift much, or do any strenuous exercise. It's been hard to _not do_ things because I've been feeling so good after surgery that it seems like I should be able to just pick up where I left off. But I get easily tired, and that reminds me that my body is still healing. So for now I have to find a happy medium between doing things I do have the energy for, and letting Jeff and Aylin pick up where I can't. They've been pretty amazing. Now I just need to find enough things to keep me occupied over the next few weeks until I'm fully healed. Aside from Netflix (which has gotten a lot of airtime the last couple of weeks) suggestions as to how to fill my time are welcome! And so are visits, and coffee meet-ups! 



A big THANK YOU to all those who helped out in so many ways last month, either with Aylin or with meals, or your checking in and spending time with me/us. It's all been such a huge blessing, and we have felt very loved on and cared for. 


February 2018

Lots of FUN in the month of February around the Melton Casa! 

We had a cozy Super Bowl viewing just the 3 of us, I made sweet potato waffles and chicken with a honey sriracha aioli sauce. Jeff and I liked it, Aylin wasn't such a huge fan of the sweet potato waffles. We all marveled over JT and his crazy talent and generally PG halftime show. Then cheered on the Eagles as they pulled out a WIN over the Patriots. It was a pretty impressive game over all, and I'm not usually in to football... So there's that.


Aylin worked hard at school, and had set a goal to get OFF THE CHART on her behavior chart. They use a clip up/clip down system in her classroom; for good behavior they clip up, and bad they clip down. Often times her chatty nature causes her problems and she hovers around green (which is neutral). So hitting pink (highest color) or off the chart (highest possible) is a pretty big deal. She made a pact with a neighbor friend that if she got off the chart, our neighbor told her she would take her for a hot chocolate treat. So it was a big deal when she finally did set her mind to it and she reached her goal. In fact by the end of the month she had reached off the chart TWICE. 


IF:Gathering - This isn't something I would typically write about in the family blog, but I decided it was ok as a little blurb because, after all, it was something that happened in February. IF:Gathering is an awesome Women's Conference (of sorts) that takes place in the beginning of Feb, and this was the 5th year. It's hosted down in Texas and was the brain child of Jennie Allen. I have watched it online in the past, and last year watched it with friends. This year though I decided to go watch the simulcast with a friend at her church. It was so so good! If you've never been a part of it, you should definitely look it up. They keep the videos available online on their website for you to go back to and re-watch, or host a gathering in your home at another point in the year if February isn't a good month for you. I think there is a small fee for downloading it, but it is so so worth it. It's great to be able to hit the pause button on all the other things that keep us busy, and connect with other women in such a deep and meaningful way. It's so inspiring, and it fills me up each year. It was so fun to get to do it with a close friend this year. 

Valentines! I had fun spoiling my loves with yummy food and decorations for Valentines. I made toad in a hole for breakfast using a heart shaped cutter for the holes. For dinner we had chili and cornbread but I colored the cornbread pinkish red, and set the table all nice with our red place mats and used real napkins and set the table all fancy like. 

Aylin made an ADORABLE unicorn for her school Valentine box, and made rainbow colored hearts for her valentine cards. I love that she loves to make her cards herself. She had a lot of fun thinking through and then putting together the unicorn box. Yay Pinterest for ideas, and then figuring out how to make it work with what we have and putting her own unique touches to it. I love her spunk and creatiity.

 

Aylin got to enjoy some cousin time with baby Eliza and learn a little bit about babysitting. She had so much fun, and Eliza is just such a doll! In a few short years she'll be doing the babysitting all by herself! Oh my!


Aylin's BIRTHDAY! It's hard to believe that tiny little munchkin has grown into such a sweet, responsible, kind-hearted 9 year old! We started the celebration off with dinner after church Saturday night, we had to go to secondary options though because her first pick was such a long wait it would have been disasterous. So she picked Whole Hog BBQ that we took home to enjoy while watching a movie (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!). Then Sunday we surprised her with a day in Spingfield, MO - we matched up with Papa Joe and Grama Linda at the Mall and did some shopping, part of our gift to Aylin was letting her shop (I'm pretty sure shopping is one of her love languages) and pick out some things. Justice, and Build-A-Bear were the main attractions (shocker). She loved picking out an adorable bunny and going through the whole routine of picking out what sound thing goes inside, putting in a beating heart, she added a bubble gum smell packet to it, and then picked out a cute cheerleader outfit for her. Now Lilie Bunny gets pampered and sleeps beside her with her very own sleeping mask. It's adorable, even if the music inside the bunny drives me bonkers. We also enjoyed the Bass Pro Aquarium and Wild Life museum. Holy Cow! That place is huge, and amazing. It was a lot of fun (and walking!) and there were so many neat things to see! We could have probably easily killed the whole day there. As it was, our feet were getting tired and we still had a long drive home. So instead of a nicer dinner out we made due with a McD's happy meal, and Starbucks for mom & dad before heading back home. 

DAY OF THE BIRTHDAY: #theGingerGirl requested chocolate chip pancakes for her breakfast in bed, and P.F.Chengs style lettuce wraps for her birthday dinner. Plus I took my baking game for an adventure and made a rainbow-layered unicorn cake. Let me tell you; that was the hardest cake I've done yet, but also the most fun. I had to do the layers of the cake twice (because the first set of layers didn't turn out how I wanted them to - they were uneven and lumpy), so I was glad I had thought ahead and bought an extra cake mix just in case... But it turned out great, and Aylin was blown away. It was totally worth it. I went with the Unicorn/Rainbow theme - and made a homemade birthday banner. She also got a new unicorn beanie boo, and a locket necklace. 

All in all, I think she got everything her sweet little heart desired, and then some. It's been a fun tradition to do a birthday experience of some sort each year. She had been really hoping for a party with friends, but I think(hope) that ultimately the fun memories we make will outweigh the need for a party with friends. Because while I love doing fun things and going over the top for the family - the party with friends idea stresses me out. Our house isnt big enough to host a lot of people, and February is just such a gamble for hoping for nice weather to do something outside.


Finally - a fun little bit of celebration is in order as I (Teena) have been working hard at losing weight. With a little pharmecological assistance and sticking with a low carb - smart eating diet; I've managed to lose 15 pounds so far! My goal is to be down 20 pounds by the time I have surgery in March, which I am on track for. I just need to keep making good choices and stay focused on the long term benefit (being healthy, more energy, better quality of life, etc) rather than feeling sad because I want a sweet treat. Most of the time it's not been a problem. But occasionally I slip up. Generally I have been doing really well with it as long as I stay out in front of it, and have food handy that both appeals to me, and fits my guidelines. Because if I don't have something handy, easy, or already planned all bets are off and the plan goes out the window. So, here's to heatlhy choices!

January 2018

Once again - after a year hiatus - I would like to attempt to do a monthly blog update. Here is a collection of happenings from January:

Aylin attended a painting class during the holiday break (she had a blast) and made some pretty amazing paintings. Painting With Mrs. Guillory is a guided art class for kids; usually she has a pre sketched image to help give the kiddos a vision and then she'll guide them through painting each piece and making it come to life. It's a similar idea of a Painting With A Twist, but it's for kiddos. Mrs. Guillory is a super sweet lady, who Aylin had as her Global Connections teacher while she was at R.E. Baker. She is amazing with kids, and obviously loves what she does. (https://guillorysart.weebly.com/)


Also while on our long holiday break (it was like the "Song that has no end... it just went on and on, my friend!") Aylin had some fun with a hammer (!) and smashed open some geodes that she got in a kit from Aunt Rachel for Christmas. 


We had a couple of wintery weather days. Which got Aylin an additional day off of school following Martin Luther King day.

We didn't get just a whole lot in downtown Bentonville, but surrounding areas (particularly Bella Vista) got just enough more that the district decided to call a snow day. #TheGingerGirl was super excited and enjoyed getting out in the snow and playing a bit. She threw snowballs at the back door and giggled at us through the door. Jeff and I were more like:


An artsy thing Aylin and I did was attempt some 3D art:

Aylin had been learning about OpArt (or Optical Illusion Art) in Art class at school, and I remembered seeing a video on facebook about making a simple 3D hand. So we tried it, and this was our result.


I got brave with my new Instant Pot and tried a batch of Pork Ribs, which turned out AmAzInG! I have tried both beef, and pork ribs a couple of times before, with not so great results. So this felt like a huge win, that not only did they turn out good, but my new kitchen gadget helped me make them great. (Can you tell I'm not excited about that, At All?!)

A fun thing Aylin gets to do once a month is a thing called Lifeline, it's through Camp War Eagle and she gathers one night a month with all the other kiddos in elementary and middle school who attend CWE for a night of games, worship, and generally just a whole bunch of fun. This has also turned into a kid free date night (that we don't have to pay for a sitter!! Whoop Whoop!) for Jeff and I, and that's just awesome. January's theme was Carnival Craze, and as per usual she rang in her Friday evening PUMPED UP. 

It's been fun, and good, for Jeff and I to be able to spend some time together as adults. We've been learning and growing as a couple and it's been nice to reap the benefits of our labor. We've been functioning together as a team in some really great ways lately and I am so thankful for how far God has brought us as a couple these last few years. 


A couple of fun school things for January

Aylin had a week of themed dress days at school. One of the days was to dress crazy. Let me tell you: this kid pulled out all the stops. Mismatched shoes and socks, shirt - skirt - legging of all different prints, and pigtails. This girl ROCKED Crazy day. 

Aylin's class got to lead her school's Rise and Shine (weekly Friday morning, school wide assembly). Their focus was on the word Commitment and they all worked really hard at making their own slides of things they were committed to. It was pretty precious (and funny) to listen to each kiddo speak to their commitments for 2018 (and beyond). I'll imbed a couple videos, which are admittedly a bit long but I just can't help myself. 

Commitment video #1

Commitment video #2

Aylin received the Student of the Week award the same day her class made their Commitment presentation. Jeff and I surprised her at Rise and Shine (she had been asking all week if I would come see her presentation, and I kept being frustratingly non committal to her about whether or not I would come). So when we both showed up she beamed like a star. We're pretty proud of the person she's growing up to be. 


(Attempting to wrap this book of a blog post up...), I spent a morning at my favorite place - Onyx. Got myself some breakfast, and did some journaling, and thinking. I'm learning that as an Enneagram 9 if I don't make space for myself to do those things, they don't ever happen. My head gets cluttered up and my brain gets overwhelmed. So I'm attempting to take some time every so often and do some of those much needed brain space activities so that the clutter doesn't eat me alive. I also had 2 different people, from very different areas in my life tell me in the last month or so that I needed to write out My Story. So I'm trying to wrap my head around that a little. I'm not so great at the story telling thing (ask my husband!), so I'm not sure how that will go and what that will look like. But in the mean time I am trying to actively contemplate it, and see where it goes.


Last but not least #TheGingerGirl and I went roller blading with some friends to the local Skate Place. What a Flash Back that was! We had So. Much. Fun! And holy cow, it was exhausting. Aylin did SO GOOD for her first time out on a big floor. I wouldn't necessarily say I picked right up where I left off, but I did stay upright the whole time, and I did manage a few fun things - like turning in quick circles and skating backwards. We all had so much fun, and agreed it should be a regular thing. The music and disco ball/lights really made it all so much fun. Plus it was a great workout! 


The January Upload

That moment when you work on a new blog post and have it mostly finished and then you press the wrong button and the whole thing is lost... So... Here I go again!

January!

Aylin got to spend 3 Saturdays in January taking Art classes at Crystal Bridges Museum. The first week they learned about developing characters (she painted a Chef), the second week they learned about setting the scene (they colored their drawings using water and colored tissue paper), then finally they wrote a story (she wrote about a bear, it was a little terrifying actually). Then while Aylin was at the art classes mom got to enjoy exploring the museum, enjoy a cup of coffee, and then i discovered one of the museums best kept secrets - the library on the top floor overlooking the water and Eleven restaurant.

A few other things that happened in January:

Jeff & Teena had a weekend excursion with Jeff's company over at the Hard Rock Casino Hotel while the grandparents in Harrison kept Aylin and appropriately wore her out (and spoiled her).

Aylin had TACKY day at school, and may I say that she did that well...

Aylin lost tooth #5

We enjoyed some warmer than usual weather and as such enjoyed our walks home from school, occasionally accompanied by her buddy Stella.


We only had one minor snow (which sadly for Aylin did not produce enjoy snow either for a snow day from school, or enough snow to make a snowman).

Aylin at random decided to entertain me with her mad breakdancing/bridging skillz:

I had another video I wanted to share, but apparently because it is 3 minutes long it doesn't want to upload due to the size. So maybe another day I'll get it figured out and add it in...