Saturday, November 4, 2017

Girls Weekend Fun

We had quite a fun weekend recently. Sydney had her very first sleepover. Her friend Sarai came over and enjoyed an evening at our house. We had root beer floats and a fun night!

 That Saturday, Sydney and I took some time out for each other. We spent the day window shopping and chatting it up at Starbucks.

 We finished the day with a trip to the theater! We went to see Seussical the Musical! After the show, Sydney got to meet some of the cast. She enjoyed the Maizy bird so much! She also got to see two of her church friends, Olivia and Owen, in the show, as well. It was a great day for us two girls to just bond and hang out.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween 2017

This year Halloween wanted to be Maleficent. She was the cutest queen of evil I've ever seen!

At work we decided to be Trolls! It was a fun day!

After piano lessons, we went by to see my friend Janet. Sydney and Janet really hit it off!

Sydney loved posing before our Halloween festivities arrived. It was so cute to see her get into character.

Our life group came over for dinner and fun! We loved seeing everyone's families and having a good night of fellowship.

The guys took the kids across the street to the university's fall carnival.

They really cleaned up on the candy!

Shaina and I got goofy toward the end of the night. She wore her high school letter jacket for her costume as her "high school self." So I got mine out too. We laughed like teenage girls and shared our geeky stories of our not-at-all athletic patches.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Holy Smokes 2017

Holy Smokes is one of our favorite events of the entire year. It's our church's annual cook off and kids festival. While we've gone for the past few years, this is the first year we've been part of a team. Sydney helped us come up with our team name - Grillin Like A Villain. She even helped John deliver the borrowed smoker to the church the night before the event.

While John went up to the church at about 5 a.m. that Sunday, Sydney and I made it there about 7:45 that morning. It was COLD, but Sydney wanted to help her dad with the briskets.

Our life group, as well as a few others who joined in, made up our team. Our team worked hard all day! Matthew and Terri spent the entire day rolling and cooking tortillas!

It was a great day of working together and hanging out! We got to eat and chat all afternoon long.

We were BUSY serving food to hundreds of people. We did grab one quick photo of our group.

Sydney spent the afternoon with Aunt Sheila and Uncle Edward. They brought her later in her Halloween costume - Maleficent. She also got to see her friends, including Ava and Tevin. She also got a special Halloween bag from Grandma Sherry!

It was an amazing day, but one special thing was John winning first place for his brisket! His good friend, Paul, won second, which was also nice. John worked so hard all day on those briskets, and he really honored my dad by doing it just as he taught him. I also got second in the Brown Bag Special, which is like a "Chopped" challenge. Sydney was so proud of us, which was great. While being on a team was a lot of work, we absolutely loved doing it. We are already looking forward to next year!

Friday, October 13, 2017

A rockin' time

Sydney is a huge music lover. It's one of her passions. She's been wanting to see a real, live concert for a while. Her and my dad often talked about the concerts he'd gone to in his life. We listen to AiR1, the national Christian radio station, quite often. When we heard that AiR1 was putting on a concert and one the stops was in a city near us, we thought it would be a good event for us. It would be positive, Christian music, yet modern and songs Sydney was familiar with already.

There were five acts in all. Sydney really liked using her light to sway to the music.

Her favorite act of the night was Britt Nicole. She sang a lot about self-worth and self-image. It was a message that truly hit Sydney's heart. She is now a big Britt Nicole fan!

John's favorite was the last act - Skillet. He's been a fan for a long time. They rocked very hard and loud! Sydney was so tired that she fell asleep. I couldn't believe it. Overall, it was an awesome night full of lots of new memories. We just had the best time as a family. We were very glad we got to experience that together!

Look at that smile! This was in our hotel room right before Sydney slept very long and hard all night!
The next morning we went to Krispy Kreme. (I ate a meal replacement bar.) Sydney enjoyed seeing the donuts being made, as she doesn't remember ever seeing that process.

We then drove to another little community to an apple orchard! Sydney missed her field trip to the pumpkin patch because of the concert, so we thought it would be a fun treat. Plus, she loves farms, so it was a great little side trip.

We had a blast picking apples! It was a great morning outside exploring the orchard.

When we came home we decided to utilize all of those fresh apples and make applesauce. It was nothing more than apples, water and cinnamon, but it was the best applesauce we'd ever had! Tasted even better knowing exactly where the apples came from and that we picked them ourselves.

The concert really left a lasting impression on Sydney. She has been putting many concerts on for us since we went to the AiR1 show.

Love watching her strut her stuff and praise God!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Road Home

The road to Adams from my house I grew up in.
A while ago I started really missing the community in which I grew up. I was having dreams about it, and it made me miss my family and how things once were. The tiny community of Adams, Okla. is very near and dear to my heart. I was going to counseling for a while, and was telling my counselor about it. She suggested I take Sydney to Adams for the day. I decided I would go and take lots of photos. It was a time to visit, remember and release. There are a lot of photos on this post. I'll describe some, caption some or just leave them. They all represent where I grew up and memories for me.

Sydney had a fall break, so we used that time to go to Oklahoma. Sydney used the time in the car to read! :)

It rained quite a bit, but the sky was gorgeous! One thing about the Oklahoma Panhandle is the skies are always so pretty. I have a lot of photos of skies.

We went after school and spent the night at the Bohlmann's house, my home away from home growing up. Sydney had the best time hanging out with Debbie. She said it felt nice to have some "grandma time." She enjoyed the cookies and all the little touches Debbie always adds.

Being in that home was a huge blessing. It brought back so many warm memories. I enjoyed talking with Art and Debbie. It felt nice to be "home."

The Bohlmann's house.
Cassie and me.
 Growing up my house was two miles from Adams, but my grandma lived in town. My family was friends with the Grants, whose daughter, Cassie, was my age. We ran around town together all of the time. Her mom Monica drove me to school every day to help out my grandma. 

It was so nice to see John and Monica. We got to chat for a while. They have been and continue to be a very big part of my life.

We then went to Mires Hardware Store. I used to ride my bike down there to get sodas from glass bottles. The outside of it looked exactly the same.

To our surprise, Gilbert, the store owner, was there. The store looked exactly the same as it did 30 years ago. I wanted to walk all around it and just soak up the nostalgia, but I decided to keep our visit brief. Gilbert opens up a few hours a day for coffee and sodas. He now sees many tourists because of the "Leaning Tower of Oklahoma" across the street.

This is the grain elevator, and it’s become quite popular recently. It’s more amazing in person, as I could hear all the creaking and moaning as it kept its balance to stay upright, despite its huge leaning. The way it stands just awed me. It really says a lot about where I grew up and the people who made me. I feel blessed to have called this tiny town and community home. We may go through mighty storms and winds, but God holds us up. With God by our sides, we may lean or sway but we don’t fall. We may endure what we feel are the worst of times, but those times will strengthen us to endure. We may be forever changed, but we still stand. Others may just be watching and waiting for us to fall and crumble. The outside may look damaged, but our core and our faith keep us from completely toppling over. I was surprised how seeing the grain elevator moved me. It was really a surprising and amazing experience.

Sydney had so much fun playing with the grasshoppers. That even reminded me of home because I remember playing with the giant grasshoppers as a kid. It just delighted me to see her playing with those grasshoppers outside of the hardware store. It was truly a blast from the past kind of moment.
Another shot of the grain elevator.
My elementary school, now converted to a barn.
This is the school where my Uncle Mike was president of the school board, my mom first taught and where I went to school through fifth grade. While it's all overgrown and so very much run down, it still meant a lot to me to be there. Those doors hold so much for me. I went through those doors countless times. I remember when I was in the first grade and my mom took me out of school. I sat in the car, starring at those doors, as she told me my Uncle Mike died. I remember being devastated the very last day of school there because it was being closed down. I love that school so much. It was so sad to see it in such disarray, but it still is so special to me.

Trees planted when I was in first or second grade. Mine is still the tallest, like the day we planted them.
The old fire truck for the volunteer firefighters.
Spent many summers at VBS at this church.
Gas station a block from my grandma's house. Rode bikes here often for sodas or snacks.

My grandma and I often went to church here. I remember singing my first solo when I was 5 at the Christmas program.
Old store that my aunt and uncle owned. My dad first met my mom here.

Of course my favorite, most memorable place in Adams was my Grandma's house. I spent countless hours here. So many memories, good and bad. It's as much a part of my childhood as my own home. I looked for photos of the house, and couldn't find many. This photo of Cassie and me on our bikes is in front of the house. If you look closely, you can see my brother Ojay in a play pen on the porch.
 This photo collage shows, clockwise, from top left: My on the front porch, Grandma Rosemary on her porch swing, my cousin Skip and me inside (I always things of that latch hook throw and lamp when I think of her house), and the front yard with the garden buckets (another thing I always remember).

Unfortunately, Grandma's house is torn down. The laundry house is still there, but looks like a garage. This corner will always be my grandma's corner. It will always be the place where I grew up, and had many wonderful, cherished times with my grandma, who was my best friend in many ways for many years.
 We went to the park near my grandma's house.

It was so wet that Sydney couldn't play on much, but she loved climbing on the monkey bars. It was sweet watching her play on the very equipment I did.

This thing is OLD. I rode on it many, many times.

Small community center where many events and parties took place. I even voted for the first time right here.

The playground equipment from the school was moved to the park. It's been painted recently and looks really nice!

We drove down to where I lived. The roads were too wet to drive down the road to my first house in the country. We didn't want to risk getting stuck in the mud.

The house my parents lived in before they moved to Texas is on the highway, so we drove by it. It's changed, but not at its core.

Home sweet home.

The round top shop and one roomed school house.
Adams from the road.

The corner where one would turn from Hooker to Adams. That sign is a sign that you're almost "home."
Hooker, Okla.
We then went to Hooker, Okla., where my mom taught most of her career and I went to junior high and high school.
Wish it was a better angle but Sydney took the photo.
We went to Mrs. Cogburn's house. She was my kindergarten teacher. She's always been part of my life. She was our neighbor, came to our wedding and came to the hospital when Mom was sick. I say that I love her would be an understatement. I've been missing her deeply and was so excited to have a chance to see her.

This is Mrs. Cogburn's signature smiley face. When I saw it on her patio door, I couldn't resist snapping a photo.
Sydney feeling like a queen in Mrs. Cogburn's fancy chair.
Sydney just loved Mrs. Cogburn. She was so excited we got to spent time with her. It was an incredible special time for the three of us.

St. John's Lutheran Church. Many Wednesday nights here for Midweek. Lots of memories with the Bohlmans here.
The Lutheran cemetery where my Gragert grandparents are buried.
This trip was beyond helpful. It gave me so much closure. It brought up so many wonderful and even some hurtful memories, but it was what I needed. It helped me say goodbye to "home" and to my parents. It was a huge blessing for both Sydney and myself.