Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Family Pictures

Our good friend took some pics of our family...we were way overdue!

Pics tell the story...part 2

Landon as Captain Gree the StormTrooper and Claire as Alice...for Halloween.
Claire in the mini Ranger.
Landon going WAY TOO FAST in the mini Ranger!
Claire's tap group "Bop til ya Drop"
Claire and Landon at the T-Rex Cafe in KC. We ate here the night before Claire's dance competition. This place had neat dinosaur animatronics!

Landon with his baseball player pumpkin. He won 2nd place in the decorating contest at school!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pictures Can Tell A Story

Landon at the pumpkin patch
Claire at the pumpkin patch. We went with Gram, Poppy and Thurston on an inservice day (no school). The kids all had fun doing a zip line, sliding, watching some punkin chunkin, and being outside!

We spent our other inservice day at the zoo with the cousins!

Well...I tried...

Ok, so my last, very ambitious blog didn't help me any. Oh, I thought about it, but just never found the time to prioritize it. So here are a few headlines with pics to follow:

* Landon finished with his first season of flag football. He is hooked and needless to say, our family will be watching him play this sport for a long while.

* Claire had her first dance competition with her new studio. It went remarkably well, and both of her dances did excellent; receiving golds and the extraordinary smile award. The studio also won the backstage sportsmanship award. I think this says a lot about those girls and their teachers.

* Landon started basketball, and has since quit. I'm not one of those parents who takes quitting lightly, and therefore put him (and me) through quite a bit of torture before finally making this decision. He said he'll try again next year, after some practice at home.

* We trick or treated with the cousins, Lucy and Laney, this year. The kids had a blast together, but tired out quick. This was fine for the adults!

* Our family spent a day at my parents house riding the new "mini ranger". We also enjoyed a visit from Doris, Helen, Crazy Tommy and Phyllis (Geoff's relatives from VA).

So with this posted I will move on to pics...and will have more stories to tell as those go up!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

So Far Behind!

I know it! I'm behind! We've been so busy that when I sit down at the computer it's only for a few brief moments to check email or order Christmas presents (yes, I am AHEAD on that part!). So right now I am posting this blog so that I have put my intentions in writing...to have October and all the wonderful things that went with it, blogged by the end of October! We are so blessed to be back here in Kansas with our family. It's almost as if we are making up for all the lost time. And although our life has had some stressful events in the past couple months; I have to say our family is stronger for it. I am loving it, exhaustion, stress and all, and now I need to blog it and save it! It shall be done!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ended Too Soon

I scrolled through the several years of blog posts our family has before writing this one. Posts that make me laugh, cry and just shake my head. Memories that are forever written in words and captured by pictures. Sometimes when I write a post, I'm thinking about the million things I need to get done, and not reliving whatever wonderful, funny or important life event that I feel needs to be stamped in time. But that has changed...I'm making a point to live more in the moment. To not be so concerned about the bills, or the homework or ironed clothes. Ok, well, maybe I'm still a little obsessive about these things, but the memories behind them are what I'm thinking about now. The back-story for all this? Sadly, a tragic ending to a life. A life taken too soon, according to all who loved her on earth. A life that was so closely intermingled with our family, that she was part of blog posts, and memories and the important events that our family has been so lucky to enjoy.

Sara Elizabeth Symons was killed tragically in a car accident on September 1, 2011. She was the daughter of our best friends/neighbors in Bentonville. But she was our daughter too; Claire was her little sister and Geoff was "Uncle Geoff". She did homework projects at our house, babysat our children, went on family vacations with us...we watched her cheer, she watched Claire dance and Landon play tee ball. We celebrated her accomplishments as much as we celebrated our own children's. Like I said...our families were as close as they come.

These are the things I choose to remember; to talk about. Sara taught our family that enjoying even the small moments is what's important. She taught my children that striving to be your best doesn't mean you have to be rude or deceitful. I believe she also taught them loving your parents is cool no matter what your friends might say! Not to speak for him, but Sara taught Geoff what he will need to know when Claire gets older. These are the things I choose to remember. And what I will talk about with my children when they say "I miss Sara". She will always be there in the back our hearts, helping us choose to take time to love each other; because you never know when it might end. And it will always be too soon.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Look at me...I'm a cowboy!
Making leather necklaces.
Pumping some water.
Feeding Daisy the calf.
Riding in the wagon with Mike, being pulled by Tim and Barney.

We had a little family time this weekend at Cowtown, in downtown Wichita. Geoff and I hadn't been in years, and the kids had never experienced the rough and tumble ways of the old west. The kids had fun imagining what it was like to live way back then, and also doing a leather craft and watching a gun fight. Yeehaw!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Labor Day

Everyone in the jeep.
Landon trying out the levers.
Cousins doing some heavy work!

Our Labor Day weekend started out like none should, which I will post about another time. The kids spent most of the weekend with Nana and Papa. They got to go to the Wingnuts game, have an Oreo party and be lazy (Claire's favorite part)! On Monday, the kids and I went out to Gram and Poppy's to play with Thurston. Unkie took us for a ride in his jeep and to see some construction equipment being used in the fields. It was a nice "distraction" (Claire's word).

Cheer and Football

Geoff and Landon after the first football game.
Claire and her good friends at the cheer performance. (Yes, these girls are in her class...she's either that short or they are that tall!) I have some better pics of these two events, but don't have them on the computer yet.

Last week was an exciting one for both kiddos! Claire participated in a cheer clinic hosted by the Valley Center High School Cheerleaders. She stayed after school all week to learn cheers, a dance and play games with fellow students. She had a blast! The girls were to perform at the football game that Friday night. However, Mother Nature had different plans. Storms rolled in just as the game was beginning and everyone had to be ushered into the gym to wait it out. The girls finally ended up performing their newly acquired skills in the gyms for the people waiting out the storms. It wasn't exactly how they'd pictured it, but it was fun anyway!

Landon had his first flag football game Saturday morning. I cannot begin to describe to you how excited, and nervous, I was! Landon was prepped and ready, clapping his hands and making determined faces with his mouthguard in, which was darling! (He would be so embarrassed if he knew I just posted that!) He played well, even while playing for the other team since they were short players (good sportsmanship). He enjoyed himself too, which is the main objective! This Mommy is excited to see how he progresses through this season!

Gram and Poppy came to watch these two events, and stayed the night in between. That was fun considering we didn't think we'd have them as house guests now that we live in KS! Lucy participated in the cheer clinic, too, which I think made it even more fun for both of them. We are certainly enjoying having those cousins (and aunts and uncles) close by to play with! Nana and Papa were there to watch the cheer clinic too, but had to leave when the rain started to close windows! "This darn Kansas weather!", in the words of Claire!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


As we were driving to school this morning, I pointed out to the kiddos that it was the first day of September. They were only minimally energetic about this fact, even after I pointed out Hokie football starts, the weather will (hopefully!) start cooling down, and our lives will become more routine. Well, Mommy is excited about all that and more! Landon starts flag football practice tonight, with games following in a couple weeks. Claire starts dance classes with her new competitive company next week. Not to mention all the other things that start to fill up a calendar in the fall! Although I'll miss the spontaneity of summer, I'm ready for the fall schedule!

Other tidbits:

We traveled back to Bentonville last weekend for a good friend's birthday party. We saw lots of other friends and stayed with the Symons' (our old neighbors and good friends) on our whirlwind trip. I didn't realize how much I missed all those Arkansans! It was a fun time, but nice to drive home to Kansas!

A conversation with Landon:
Me: "How was school today?"
Landon: "It was ok. My teacher is mean."
Me: "Mean? How so?"
Landon: "She said it's too hot to go out to recess. I think she just doesn't want to sweat."

Claire has had some issues adjusting to life in Kansas. Geoff and I are at our wit's ends with her more often than not. This morning was no exception. But the girl gave it back to me...
"Mom, I'm trying to work this through, but there is always something else on my mind and I can't ever get past it. We don't get recess the rest of the week because some other kids were being loud. How can I think about being 8 when I am dealing with that?" I guess I'll just have to be patient...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Flight Festival

One of the kids took this picture of the planes.
Watching the truck...

Our family and my parents attended the Wichita Flight Festival Saturday evening. What an amazing show!!!! Landon watched with attentive eyes and an open mouth as planes dipped and circled about him. Some fast, some slow, but all spectacular! Claire enjoyed most of the show, but her lack of attention got the best of her sometimes. The finale was a truck with jet engines that sped across the runway with a wall of fire ignited behind him. It was a great ending!

As a side note, the kids have thoroughly enjoyed having their grandparents within close range. Whether going to The Little Mermaid or driving the golf cart around the neighborhood, the grandparents have been present and accounted for on a regular basis. Both kids have commented about how nice it is to see them without having to travel. Yes, yes it is!

1st Day of School

I can't think of many things more heart-wrenching for this Mommy than letting her children go to school. I don't have control of their actions, the activities they complete are not my creations and I don't get to see their faces after they try and conquer something new. Landon started Kindergarten this year. And granted, it's only half-day, but there are still three hours where he is in a big-kid school and I have no control! This is not what this day is about, however, and these complaints only make me a selfish Mommy. Landon was so excited! After meeting his teacher and seeing his school, he hated having to wait two whole days before he could start (the school did assessments on all the KG students on those days). Landon is very proud of his Star Wars backpack and as we packed it full of supplies, he stated "This bag will hold anything I ever need!". Landon completed the assessments mentioned above with flying colors. His teacher emerged with him after only about 10 minutes and proclaimed that Landon was more than prepared for Kindergarten. Didn't have to tell this Mommy that!!! My heart burst and Landon had a look of satisfaction on his face as he replayed the "easy" questions he was asked.

Daddy and Mommy were both there to walk him in after a McDonalds lunch on his first day. He sat down and smiled that big smile and said "I've got this". My big boy did as the teacher told him, and changed into his PE shoes after he found his desk. When we left the room, he just waved and turned around to face the front of the classroom. No tears, no whining, and only minimal anxiety...it was awesome! Mommy was the total opposite as I drove out of the parking lot, but I was also so proud and just plain happy that Landon was confident enough to not be concerned. That afternoon at pick-up, Claire waited for Landon and as they ran toward each other and embraced, I about started crying again. Another milestone complete, for both of them.

Claire started 3rd grade with a smile and a good attitude. Although that smile turned to tears as soon as we got into the school. She was brave and walked into the classroom she had visited the night before without too much drama. I've tried to imagine myself at 8-years-old, walking in to a new school with all new people and how I might feel. This doesn't conjure up such fabulous feelings. But she did it and made her parents proud!

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Ruby Red Slippers Reappear

Our family are officially Kansans again! I say this statement with joy, relief, sadness and a bit of excitement. Joy because this process has been a long and tiring one. One that was prayed for and then prayed over more often than I could imagine. I feel joy because we are closer to our extended family and that somehow makes me feel safer. Relief, because although I've already vowed not to blog about the endless days of house showings, moving details and just plain anxiety, I am absolutely relieved it is over. It was exhausting and stressful. Sadness is felt in bits and pieces by all of us. We carved a niche for ourselves in Bentonville. I feel guilty saying that we extended our family there, but we did. The kids and I regularly reminisce, and this often turns into tears for what is being missed. But this leads to the excitement of what's to come. New friends, new balls teams and dance groups, new schools and church. And although it's scary, even when you're "home", we all have the excitement of starting something fresh and new. And like I told the kids just this morning..."we are starting over together, and you can't ask for anything better than that".

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dallas Bound for Dance Nationals

Claire's dance company went to Dallas again this year for national competition. We left Friday morning with our good friends, Rachel and mom-Diana in tow. The drive up was fun, as the girls were excited and ready to dance! Claire did more dances in much less time this year, so Saturday and Sunday were pretty much all work, no play! Dancing started bright and early Saturday morning. We did get to go to a mall Saturday for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory and a little shopping. More dancing Saturday afternoon and evening led to dinner with another dancer and her parents afterwards. Sunday was another early morning with only a small break for lunch between dances. Our car had 8 costume changes in all, 5 of which were Claire's. The groups all scored Platinum medals and Claire's lyrical dance "Friends" was 2nd overall in the Junior Small Group category. That's saying alot as they had some stiff competition this year...including one of Claire's other dances and her friend Rachel's dance! But neither of those placed in the overalls this time. Two of Claire's other dances placed 2nd overall and 6th overall. It was a successful competition and a whirlwind of a weekend, not to mention an emotional one! Last competition with our ATD (All That Dance) family. Lots of tears were shed by lots of people. I was touched to know that so many people would miss us! They will be missed too!

Rachel, Claire and Jessica at dinner Saturday night. They were all "orphans" together this year and "bugs" last year.
Miss Hannigan and her orphans after their performance.
Claire and her ATD big sis, Catie Beth.
Ready to dance!
Wicked World stretching together for the last time.

We made it to TEXAS!

Summer, Summer, Summertime! Part 3

Playing in the park
In the shovel of Big Brutus, a mining relic in KS.

With Geoff gone, and a national dance competition in Dallas coming up, Landon needed a plan. So last Wednesday morning we met Gram and Poppy in West Mineral, KS to see Big Brutus and make the hand off so he wouldn't have to watch any more dancing! The kids had fun exploring, even though Landon was recovering from not feeling well the day before. We also had lunch, celebrated Poppy's birthday and played in a beautiful, shady park. I was sad to leave my little man for the first time for more than a day (other than when he was too little to notice) and even Claire was sad the closer we got to Bentonville after leaving him. Landon seemed only concerned once when I talked to him during his stay. I think he was kept busy swimming, fishing and playing with his cousin Thurston. When Daddy arrived in Wichita Friday, him and Landon were reunited and had some more fun with Lucy and Laney and on Papa's lake before coming home.

Landon told me this morning he enjoyed have "alone time" with everyone in KS. "I can share with Claire sometimes, but this time I didn't have to and I liked it. Even my cousins liked it! And nobody had to worry about what Claire was doing."

Summer, Summer, Summertime! Part 2

In front of the inflatable slide at the Naturals baseball game. These faces are just so summer-sweet!

Geoff left for Colorado for a two week work event a few days after school was out, and so I made plans for something everyday to keep us busy and from missing him. The first plans were dance classes, every day, for at least two hours. Although that sounds laborious, Claire was in her element and Landon was able to play with a couple of his "little brother buddies" and therefore both were happy. We also enjoyed some things that we had never done before. The splash park downtown, a nature walk to the new art museum (that is still being built) and a Naturals baseball game. We also had extended playdates with "besties", swimming at the pool with neighbors, a movie, and of course birthday parties and house showings! Now you will understand why I stated I was so tired in the post below (haha)!

Summer, summer, summertime!

So we are finally getting to enjoy some summer! But we've been so busy that by the time I actually have time to blog, sleeping usually takes precedence! But I realized today that as I was synching my iphone (which has become my camera because I always have it with me) that I have some catching up to do! DISCLAIMER: I still REALLY want to be sleeping, as we just got home from TX late last night, but I'm gonna try to get at least some of this done, and hope it makes sense!!!!

This first blog is still from recital. These pics are making me cry, even though I thought I had every last dance-related tear shed after this last weekend. I am amazed at how much a teacher can touch the soul of a child, and, in turn touch a parent's life. These two dance teachers have been amazing to Claire, and both of them cried as much, if not more, than I did this weekend. I hope that they know how much they mean to us, and even though they weren't the first or the last dance teachers Claire will have, I believe will be the most special of her life.

Miss Julie (ballet)

Miss Meghan (company)

These three friends were together from the first year in their yellow rain slickers with their little round faces looking up at the sky singing ah-ah-ah-ah to the song If All The Raindrops.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

And the school year ends...

Landon's "Good Manners" award from preschool.
Landon and his "High Five" award from school. He learned 5 important facts about himself including address and phone number.
Claire looking "Australian". Her entire school has International week and each grade takes on different countries. She also made a diorama of a Dingo's habitat.
Landon enjoying some snocone at Claire's field day.
Claire and her "bestie" Shaelyn.

Claire receiving her academic award. All A's all year! Her class also voted her "best all-around friend"...so sweet!

Finally the school year ends! We had 8 extra days due to snow days, but that didn't stop the fun! On Landon's last day, the kids had a water day and received awards. Along with the two pictured, Landon also received a sight word award. Landon loved preschool and his classmates. He adored his teacher, and in fact, told her he wished she could move with us and be his Kindergarten teacher!

Claire's last days were filled with International Week, Fun and Field Day and Awards. Landon and I helped with field day...all day...in 90+degree heat. It was HOT, but the kids had a blast! And I know I've mentioned it before, but this is no normal field day. We are talking all out games and hair painting, a DJ and water sports. Claire also received awards as mentioned above, and the teacher noted to me afterwards that Claire will be missed at CPE. Everyone knows her and loves her there! That's saying a lot coming from the largest Elementary in Arkansas!

Since school has ended we've been busy with dance, gymnastics, swimming and playing. Geoff is gone for two weeks, and soon Landon will head to Kansas for a few days while Claire and I head to Dallas for national dance competition. I'm trying to keep us busy so we aren't constantly thinking of what looms in the near future. Dreading packing and moving, but the result will be joyful! I truly can't wait to be back in KS closer to my (growing!) family, old friends and to start a new beginning.