Monday, April 10, 2017


So about 22 years ago, I moved back to Peoria and met two lovely ladies.  One of those was dating a friend of mine (Chelsea), and the other became my roomie after many fun nights out on the town (Betsy).  Both stood up next to me on my wedding day.  We have been there for each other through all of our moves, job changes, births of our babies, and other family news.  We have cried together, but more than anything....we have laughed together....A LOT!  I have chosen people who have chosen me, and there is nothing better than that.  Friendship is so easy with people who truly love you for who you are....flaws and all, and I am so thankful for these two beauties!

Though it is hard to get together due to our husband's jobs and our families, we try to make it work every couple of years.  Our latest gathering was back in Texas, at Betsy's home.  We flew in on Friday morning, and out on Sunday afternoon.  We ate a lot, drank a little, shopped some, did a little sight-seeing and talked A LOT!  When three friends get together, who don't talk on the phone, there is a lot to catch up on, so we talked over each other and stayed up late filling each other in on everything.

Betsy was a gracious hostess, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with these precious friends.  We traveled to Fort Worth and ate at one of the most popular Mexican places in town.  We waited in line for 30 minutes, were seated outside on their huge patio, and chose from only 2 entrees.  No wonder they are so successful!  We left when they closed, and returned back to Betsy's.

The following morning, Chelsea's birthday, we slept in and had a delicious breakfast at Betsy's.  We then headed back to Fort Worth to watch the cattle drive.  Every day, twice daily, cowhands walk the long-horned cattle through the historic stockyards to holding pens.  You can get your picture taken on one of the cattle, and take in all of the surroundings.

We had to be tourists, and get our pictures taken on these long ears (what I accidentally called them once, and it stuck all weekend).

this guy had an almost 7 foot span!

After taking it all in, we drove over to Dallas.  Chels hadn't been to Texas before, so we had to show her the big D!  We grabbed lunch in the Uptown area.  We then drove north through Highland Park to show her the big beautiful homes and SMU campus.  Then we decided to do some shopping.  After we finally exhausted ourselves, we drove back to Betsy's house to put on our comfy clothes.  Since we had a late lunch, we decided to stay in, eat cheese and crackers, fruit and drink wine by her pool (my kind of evening)!  We celebrated Chelsea's birthday with a yummy cake, and stayed up way too late...finally hitting the hay around 1AM!

On our final day, we had a leisurely morning with breakfast and a walk around Betsy's neighborhood before heading out to lunch and then to DFW to take Chelsea.  Betsy and I did a little more shopping, and finally showered before taking me to the airport.  It was an action-packed weekend, but I wouldn't have changed a thing!  I hated saying good-bye, but I know we will see each other again.... hopefully sooner rather than later.  Of course, I cried at the airport when I had to say good-bye, but that is just a reminder of how much they mean to me.  Love you Bets and Chels!!

Friday, March 3, 2017

3rd Annual Ski Trip

This winter, Bennett, Pres, Steve and I packed up and flew west for our third annual ski trip.  It was a Christmas present to them from us, and even though they asked Santa for it, they didn't seem that excited to receive it from us.  I don't know where we went wrong, as it has always been one of our favorite family trips of the year.  However as the weeks and days approached, their excitement grew and they forgot how rude they were to us at Christmas.

About a month before we left, I signed up to receive text updates on snowfall, and we realized that we were going to a mountain with more snowfall than we had ever seen!  In fact, every day it snowed overnight, and several of the days it snowed throughout the day.  By the time we arrived, there was an incredible base!  It continued to snow during our stay there, which made for a much different experience.  Thankfully we arrived on time, and were able to get groceries, fitted for our skis and take the kids ice skating.  What a great way to kick off our trip.
Day 2, we awoke early so we could eat a good breakfast.  The kids dressed themselves and were chomping at the bit to hit the slopes and get checked into ski school.  We were out there at 9am, and we took off on our own adventure.  It was a great day, but a COLD day!  We have chosen to go later in the season so we don't freeze, but all of us had problems with our fingers and/or toes getting cold.  Let's just say hand warmers were our friends!

Day 3 was much like the previous day, but we were better prepared with warmers.  The biggest difference was the amount of fresh powder we had overnight, making it virtually impossible for them to groom.  Every run that we skied had powder up to our knees, making it very difficult for us to make it down as quickly as usual.  It tuckered Steve and I out, but the kids loved it!  Their instructors taught them how to ski through it, and Preston did mogul runs all day (which he loved).  By the end of the day, we were anxious to hop in that hot tub and relax.  After talking to the kids, Bennett decided to do an additional day of ski school (instead of the 2 days we purchased before we arrived).

Day 4 we got Bennett checked into school, and took Preston out alone to see how much he had truly learned.  I thoroughly enjoy skiing with him because he pushes me!  He never asks where we are going, and never complains.  He prefers the more challenging slopes, and LOVES doing jumps on all of the terrain parks.  Thanks to all of the videos Christian had sent from his ski trip a few weeks earlier, Preston was anxious to show him up (the competition between those two is ridiculous).  We had fun exploring!

Day 5 (our final day on the slopes) was great!  The four of us skied together, and had a great lunch at the top of the mountain over in the Canyons at one of our favorite places, Cloud 9.  We continue to be amazed at how much the children have learned, and their improved confidence.  Bennett is still our conservative skier, but she has never been a risk-taker.  However, she is skiing faster, and consistently a blue run skier.  We divided and met at the bottom a couple of times, but we tried to stay together for the majority of the time, and we logged some serious vertical feet.

Pres jumping at terrain park

Nothing impresses me more than this beautiful scenery...God is great!

Overall, another wonderful trip....and probably our last ski trip without wild Walker!  Can't wait to see that little guy up on skis, and trying to keep up with his siblings.  Thank you Park City for the memories!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Eric Church Concert

This weekend, Steve and I snuck away for another wonderful concert.  Eric Church returned to the BJCC and performed a double set (no opening bands, just him).  He played continuously for 3.5 hours, and was totally into it the whole time!  We met up with the Passarellas for drinks and dinner beforehand, and arrived on time for concert. 

Steve and I had terrible seats in the upper bowl, one in front of the other.  Neither of us were excited about walking up to the nosebleed section, so we decided to risk it, and sit in a couple of seats in the lower bowl near the Mike and Courtney.  We got kicked out, so we moved a little further down, only to get kicked out again.  We ended up sitting right behind the equipment table, but high enough to see over it perfectly and have a great view of Eric Church.  There were several rows that were empty, so Mike and Courtney moved over to sit with us, as did Cathy and Brian Browning and their friends.

It was a terrific night of singing and dancing, and it was that much better that we got to do it all in awesome seats with fun people around us.

What a show!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mercedes Marathon

me, Cindy, Candace, Kadie and Lindsey
Back in August, I joined the Service Guild....a volunteer organization that raises money and services The Bell Center.  As a member, you volunteer in a classroom with the same child every week for a semester.  My time didn't begin until January,  and I work with a little girl with Downs Syndrome.  It isn't my favorite thing to do each week (it is tough), but what a gift for these families with these children.  The kids either attend Tues/Thur or Wed/Fri for two hours.  Each child has a volunteer (me), a PT, OT, Speech Pathologist and Special Ed teacher on their team.  The employees put together a specific treatment plan for each child, and we all work together to help the child achieve their goals. 
before I took off

They have one major fundraiser a year, the Service Guild Gala, in March of every year, and several smaller ones.  One of the other ones is running for a child during the Mercedes Marathon.  They ask every runner to raise $100/mile, so if you run a full marathon then you strive to raise $2610.  I formed a team of five women, and we all tried to raise money.  We had a blast getting to know each other better, and fun training for our individual segments.  The race was Sunday, Feb 12th in the morning.  Cindy Bembry started us off with the first 6 miles, then me with 3 miles, then Kadie Fry with the next 6 miles, who passed it off to Lindsey Chitwood who ran another 3 miles, and then Candace Crouch pulled up the rear with the final 8 miles.  It was warm day (which I was fine with), but all of the serious runners were hoping for cooler weather.  I was able to run a little with Kadie, and then we both ran the final mile with Candace.  It was a long morning, but a very fun one.

Steve and kids came to support me
After my segment, but before Sara ran hers (the final 8 for her team)
Kadie and me halfway through!
We made it!!
not too shabby for some older ladies! :)
In fact, we had so much fun doing the race, we decided to enter another one.  Since we weren't all able to run together, we registered for the Birmingham Wine 10K, where they toast us with champagne at the end!  Now that is my kind of race!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Potty Training Our Baby!

multi-tasking....pottying and watching a movie
January 1, 2017, I woke up with a mission, a mission to potty train Walker!  So that morning we woke up and I put him in underpants.  I asked him what he wanted to drink, and gave him anything and everything so he would drink a lot and potty often!  Since I had to be home to care for Bennett and Preston, it was a perfect time to hole up and do it.  Walker set up his "office" at the kitchen island and we pretty much did not leave that area for two days. 

Walker stayed naked or in underpants for the first two days of the year.  He had a permanently stained red upper lip from all of the Gatorade he drank, but he did awesome with the training.  He only wet the front of the underpants a little a couple of times, right before he went potty, and never had a full on accident.  If he ever did leave the kitchen, it was right after he went potty, and only for 20-30 minutes.  He had a couple of problems with pooping, but he finally went on day 2 (he was so proud of himself), and once he did....he kept going!

Day 3, Bennett insisted on taking him to Target for his first outing.  She wanted to buy him a birthday present with her own money.  So we packed him a change of clothes, and went on our way.  As we were about to leave, she took him to the restroom.  Needless to say, he did great and continued to improve with letting us know he needed to go. 

Day 4, Walker returned to school.  I packed several extra pairs of underpants, a change of clothes and a pull-up in case he completely revolted, but he did fabulous!  No accidents!

watching a movie while still sitting on hardwood floors
Proud face after using potty at school!
We are almost a full month into the potty training now, and Walker has done fantastic!  He has had two accidents (both due to getting too busy and waiting until the last minute), but he has this!  If we are diligent to just ask him occasionally, he won't make any errors.  We are so proud of him!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Happy 82th Birthday Mimi!

Due to the snowstorm of 2017, everyone was pretty homebound over Mimi's birthday.  However, we were NOT going to let her birthday pass by and not celebrate the woman who goes out of her way to celebrate everyone else's birthday all year long.  So a week after Myra's birthday, everyone gathered at our house for a fun family dinner.

We catered in Taco Mama, and Michelle and Sara baked the most perfect cake.  We ate, drank, sang happy birthday and watched old family videos.  It was a great night reminiscing!