Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tomorrow is "Coke Float Day" at our house.

I'll probably make my float with caffeine-free Diet Coke, but it will be special just the same. =)
We invite you to join us in making a memory with your family or a friend or loved one too. Whether it's today or tomorrow or any other day that you find yourself 'living in the moment' and realizing that ordinary can be extraordinary- moments are a gift every day!
We will forever remember this moment and time we had with Teagan. We cherish it and we're glad to make new memories with our family as the days and years go on. One day I know we'll all enjoy being with Teagan again- in a very special place called Heaven!
And now, here is the story behind "Coke Float Day". I hope it touches you in some small way...enjoy!

Today our family affectionately terms this day "Coke Float Day". Coke float day marks one month prior to the day we said our last goodbyes to Teagan and happens to be a day we captured a special moment in her life and ours in this photo above. The day was June 30, 2001; Teagan stayed up late as she often did to say goodnight to Daddy after he'd been away at work all day. This day we made that goodnight extra special by letting her and Chip have Coke floats- served at her little table in the 'special' tall malt glasses. She was so excited to have this time with Chip. She always was a Daddy's girl and I'm so glad I thought to grab the camera and snap a photo of this late-night date they shared that day.
We had already learned that life was precious and we should make the most of the time we have together because of an incident where we found Wyndham unresponsive and purple months earlier that same year. We had already learned to let go of some of the frustrations in life and to take in the fun times together or make a memory out of an ordinary day.
What we couldn't have known was that Teagan's days were coming to an abrupt end and our lives would never be the same in a matter of one month. What we couldn't have known was that this simple late night Coke float date would become one of our cherished memories we would have with her and wish back more times than we could count. What we didn't know is that this picture would look old and dated and capture the way we would remember her for years to come. What we didn't know is our quiet, unassuming lives would be changed in an instant and our faith would be the only thing left to stand on.
We are grateful for this time and the wonderful memories we made with Teagan while we had her and we cherish them for what they were and still are to us. Her life and death have taught us so much and we never want to forget to make the most of the moments we're given here on earth. Today- Coke Float Day- reminds us again to enjoy the here and now, to do something 'special' just because we can, and to celebrate the simple and ordinary moments we have with one another. We invite you to join our family today, or tomorrow, or whenever the opportunity arises in your own life to do the same thing. Be in the moment. Enjoy THIS day. Hug a little tighter; share a smile with someone around you. Give yourself permission to let something else go and make a memory you'll cherish for a lifetime. Even if it means staying up past bedtime and going a little over the top to make the memory extra special.
It shouldn't take a tragedy for us to all see the gift of what we already have. Our family has learned the significance of now. Today we remember it again and share it with you too. May you have a special Coke Float Day- or Pepsi or rootbeer or cupcakes or movie night or however you choose to "celebrate" now!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Another busy week!

I didn't realize I missed blogging all week long. I'm sure most of you are just as busy as I am so you probably didn't notice either!
Brock, Bell and Ava had day camp at our local YMCA Monday through Friday. They loved it and were worn out when they got home every day. I was worn out from packing 15 lunches by Friday and keeping up with washing and drying their swimsuits and towels in time for the next morning. Ava neglected to tell me that she got bubblegum in her hair one day and so the next morning when I went to braid her hair I got quite a surprise. I will say that I was fully expecting her to have to get a major haircut. However, the canola oil in my baking cupboard along with a large dose of shampoo, conditioner and patience was almost enough to get it all out. I think she learned a very important life lesson. And I am hoping we never have to repeat it around here! =)
We also did a bit of re-arranging of beds and now have Bella and Ava sharing a room in order to make way for baby #7. SO far all the kids have had their own space and it's worked out well. But they seem to be adjusting to it and even liking it a lot at certain times. Like from 8 til 10 pm at night! I have high hopes that by the time we welcome this next addition everyone will be very comfortable in their new spots and I will be the only one having a hard time getting enough sleep. But I won't stop and think about that too long... or it will wear me out and we still have some more busy weeks of summer ahead of us to enjoy. I hope you do too!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

It must be more than luck...

We feel blessed and grateful to have a wonderful, caring, involved Dad in our lives! He's not perfect, but sure has a lot of great qualities and one that stands out above the others is the way he is able to show his love to each of his kids individually. They love him right back in their own ways, and it just seems to be something so much more than luck. The relationship between this dad and his kids is a gift that goes both ways. I'm sure Chip would say he is luckiest to have these kids as a part of his life, and the kids would all say they wouldn't want any other dad than him.
It was quite a feat to get the kids to take individual photos on the front step this week, but they were all smiles when I pointed the camera at them and said, "Smile for Daddy!". Chip has stolen each of their hearts as only he can. We just want to tell him that he is loved and adored and appreciated each and everyday by our whole family. We're so glad to be the ones to hug and kiss you and laugh and play with you every day. Thanks for being such a devoted Dad!! Happy Father's Day from your angel in Heaven Teagan, Brock, Wyndham, Bella, Ava, Crew and even Baby who-still-needs-a-name. xo xo xo xo xo xo xo {That's a lot of hugs and kisses... and we'll always have more for you!}

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe {and story}~

For those of you who are interested in the cookie recipe I used when I made the ice cream cookie sandwiches, here it is. Along with it comes the urban legend and tale of how it came to be. Whether it's from Neiman Marcus or Mrs. Field's or neither has been subject of debate. But what's not to debate is just how delicious these cookies are! I always make a half batch and it makes plenty for me- like 3 dozen or more, depending on the size. I never overbake them- anywhere from 8-12 minutes in the oven... again, it depends on the size of the cookie you are making. My advice is to just stay close to the oven and keep checking them before they have a chance to bake through and get too crispy. Unless you love crispy cookies. Then bake them as long as you like! =)
For the cookie sandwiches, my kids like any kind of ice cream in the middle, but they especially love chocolate chip cookie dough... because you can never have too much of that when you're a kid!
{Edited to let you know the following story is one that has been told and re-told. I didn't actually live this experience! And if I did, I certainly hope I would be more gracious in my response. =)}
I hope you enjoy both the recipe and story. Here they are:
My daughter and I had just finished a salad at Neiman-Marcus Cafe in Dallas & decided to have a small dessert. Because both of us are such cookie lovers, we decided to try the "Neiman-Marcus Cookie". It was so excellent that I asked if they would give me the recipe and the waitress said with a small frown "I'm afraid not." Well" I said, "would you let me buy the recipe?"
With a cute smile, she said YES". I asked how much and she responded, "Only two fifty, it's a great deal!" I said with approval, "just add it to my tab".. Thirty days later, I received my VISA statement from Neiman-Marcus and it was $285.00. I looked again and remembered I had only spent $9.95 for two salads and about $20.00 for a scarf. As I glanced at the bottom of the statement, it said, "Cookie Recipe - $250.00". That's outrageous!!!
I called Neiman's Accounting Dept. and told them that the waitress said it was "two-fifty," which clearly does not mean "two hundred and fifty dollars" by any POSSIBLE interpretation of the phrase. Neiman-Marcus refused to budge.. They would not refund my money, because according to them, "What the waitress told you is not our problem. You have already seen the recipe - we absolutely will not refund your money at this point." I explained to her the criminal statutes which govern fraud in Texas. I threatened to refer them to the Better Business Bureau and the State's Attorney General for engaging in fraud. I was basically told, "Do what you want, we don't care and we're not refunding your money." I waited a moment, thinking of how I could get even,or even try to get any of my money back. I just said, "Okay, you folks got my $250.00, and now I'm going to have $250.00 worth of fun."
I told her that I was going to see to it that every cookie lover in the United States with an e-mail account has a $250.00 cookie recipe from Neiman-Marcus... for free..She replied, "I wish you wouldn't do this" I said, "Well you should have thought of that before you ripped me off", and slammed down the phone on her.. So, here it is!!! Please, please, please pass it on to everyone you can possibly think of. I paid $250.00 dollars for this... I don't want Neiman-Marcus to ever get another penny off of this recipe....
(Recipe may be halved): 2 cups butter 4 cups flour 2 tsp. baking soda 2 cups granulated sugar 2 cups brown sugar 5 cups blended oatmeal (measure oatmeal and blend in blender to a fine powder) 24 oz. chocolate chips 1 tsp. salt 1 8 oz. Hershey bar (grated) 4 eggs 2 tsp. baking powder 3 cups chopped nuts (your choice) 2 tsp. vanilla
Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey bar and nuts. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet..Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 112 cookies.
Have Fun!!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

What's not to love about summer!

The first full week of our summer is coming to a close. It's been simple and exhausting and wonderful- all at the same time. I love having the kids on their 'new bedtime schedule'- which is staying up later and sleeping in until around 8am or later too. They all like breakfast at a leisure pace- which is nice for me! But the rest of the day can come with demands, or meltdowns, or humidty and temps that make it hard to decide what to eat for dinner. Much less make it!
I haven't been the perfect mom and they haven't been the perfect kids, but we've managed to enjoy some simple joys of summer nonetheless.
Including homemade fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches... yum! The swingset is getting some use, as is the sprinkler, little pool and squirt guns too. Chip made a quick trip to the local farmer's market today and the strawberries seem to already be at their peak- they are big, red, juicy and delicious!
Wyndham had one more surgical consult for her upcoming double-foot realignment surgery scheduled for Sept. 29th. It went well and her doctor seems very confident in his skills and how we can hope the outcome to be. So, for now we are just going to enjoy the fun, simple things of summer, and not think too much about what lies just ahead. Afterall, what makes for fun is living in it and enjoying it as it happens. It means licking the ice cream around the edge of your cookie sandwich before it melts and drips down your chin. It's about taking in the little details and turning them into great memories.
That's what we love about summer! Hopefully we'll have lots more fun and photos to share as the next couple of months unfold. And for the record... we all highly recommend fresh-baked chocolate chip ice cream cookie sandwiches!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The power of pause-

One of the most powerful and moving moments during our trip to Oklahoma last week happened when everything stopped. The Folds of Honor Foundation headquarters sits just next door to the Patriot Golf Club building/pro shop and it is a beautiful structure complete with a bell tower at its peak.
The meaning of the name Folds of Honor comes from the thirteen folds in the flag- each representing something such as allegiance and honor and other worthy characteristics. The flag is always folded and given to the families of a fallen soldier. It is a powerful symbol and I am sure becomes quite a treasure for those grieving their loss to cling to.
At The Patriot Golf Club, while it is a spectacular golf course and wonderful place to enjoy the company of family and friends or business partners, our friend and club founder, Dan Rooney wanted it to be even more than just a nice place. His real purpose in creating such a place is for those fallen and disabled to be remembered and for the freedoms they fought for to be enjoyed by all. But the remembering part is of utmost importance. So, at precisely 1300 hours (1:00 pm) each day, the bell at the top of the foundation headquarters begins to toll and reaches to all corners of the course and its facilities. Dan asks that wherever you are; whatever you're doing, that at that moment you stop and pause and silently pause to pay respect for the ultimate sacrifice that so many people have made for our great nation. The bell then tolls 13 times- symbolizing the thirteen folds of the flag.
Chip and I were at the course on a couple of occasions when the bell began to toll. It was amazing and powerful for us to witness everyone and everything around us suddenly come to a halt-caps removed, heads bowed and people stood silently- for a long, solemn moment. I can hardly think of a time in my 'regular life' during the day in which everything suddenly comes to a halt and quiet fills the space for a full moment. So for me, to experience such an event with hundreds of people and activity swilring around me made quite an impact.
It seems such a powerful thing- and yet is a simple, quiet pause. Do you know how long a minute seems when there is no sound except the occasional bong of a bell? It feels much longer than a minute. And yet to think that thousands of lives have been given and we rarely take a moment to pause and remember and to be grateful for such sacrifice seems so unfair. The moment that the bell tolls at 1300 hour definitely gave me much to think about and made me so much more aware of what it truly means to be a patriot and give your all.
I was so inspired and moved by the impact I felt from a moment of quiet that I am now seeking to 'work' at least a moment of quiet into my life each day. And not just solely to think about sacrifice and freedom, but also because I realize how my soul is stirred by solace and quiet. As a busy mom of lots of little kids, quiet is hardly available to me and I realized just how much I truly appreciate it. Even for just a moment out of my day.
I write this all as a note to myself- I don't want to forget the power of pause. And if you are so inclined, I invite you to take a moment out of your own day and experience the same thing. I don't know what effect it will have on you, but in the busyness of our lives, it is something that is becoming more and more rare and hard to 'find'. I think it's something we all need a bit more of- quiet, reflective, powerful moments. Our souls were made for at least a small taste of that each day.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Busy baby...

Seems someone is just as busy and active inside of me as the rest of the kids are outside of me today! We officially started summer earlier today at our final school assembly. We have quite a few plans on the calendar from now til September, including having a baby at some point in the coming weeks. My due date is 11 weeks from tomorrow, but since I've only made it to my due date once in the previous 6 pregnancies, I am planning ahead for this next one too. Teagan was born on her due date and the others have come at least a week to more than a month early. So, I feel like it's only fair to me, the baby and the rest of us to start getting on top of things sooner- rather than later.
It seems like the weeks are going by all too quickly this time around. It's the nature of things when you have so many other kids keeping your mind and body off the {growing} task at hand. I rarely have time to stop and think about what to expect- which is maybe why the baby keeps kicking and moving so often- to simply remind me that life is going to change for all of us again- soon!
I sure hope we have a fun summer and that this belly doesn't grow too big for me to enjoy a little bit of the fun too! If so, I will blame it on the heat and extra ice cream I eat to stay cool. {wink}

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Whirlwind weekend

Chip and I had an amazing Memorial Day weekend. It was one filled with patriotism, honoring and remembering fallen and disabled heroes and their families, as well as celebration of the game of golf and all the fun that our freedom entitles each of us in this great nation in which we live. We spent the weekend at the brand new Patriot Golf Club- it opened just a week ago just outside of Tulsa, OK. The city skyline makes a beautiful backdrop right off the first tee box. It's a wonderful view!
The event/course and The Folds of Honor Foundation was the vision and dream of Chip's boss and golf club owner, Major Dan Rooney. {He and his wife, Jacy, are pictured with us in the second to last photo.} Dan and his family have become great friends to us over the years and we were thrilled to be able to join them for this special and inspiration inaugural event. Chip was thrilled to golf not just once or twice, but with touring PGA pro, Brad Faxon, for his third round. We met some great people all weekend, including golf superstar, Rickie Fowler. None of the pros asked for a dime in return for their time and appearance. Vince Gill not only golfed {and won the event with his team}, but also ate dinner at the event and then closed it out with a private concert for about 750 of us in attendance at the Hard Rock Hotel in Tulsa. It was a grand and emotionally moving occasion, indeed! My sister, Jacque and her husband Dave joined us all weekend as our guests. They live in Las Vegas and we rarely see one another. So not only were the daily activites fun and exciting, but we also had a small family reunion going on at the same time. I couldn't have asked for a better trip. Except for a few details- like the 95 degree heat making my feet swell so much that I couldn't even wear a couple of my sandals. And then there was the lack of sleep- for so many things going on. One other thing these photos don't reveal is that Chip and I were paged at the Tulsa airport (I've never heard my name over an airport loudspeaker before and hope I never do again!)and had to run from security checkpoint to our gate. Which {always!} happened to be about as far down the concourse as possible. I thought I could land in premature delivery, but finally managed to catch my breath and the flights home went smoothly- so it all ended well. =)
The kids had a wonderful family taking care of them while we were away. Crew gave us the biggest, tightest hugs when he saw us at home again, but the others were actually a bit bummed we came home earlier than they had planned. They wanted to go swimming another afternoon and had had so much fun they didn't really mind that we'd been gone. That's just the way I wanted it to be.
I am glad it all went better than I imagined it would be. I also look forward to the next time Chip and I can get away and hopefully it will be for an equally worthy cause! There's something special about not just vacationing, but knowing you are doing something good at the same time.