Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Date night!

J and I had a rare night out with just Austin, and decided to make it a date night! Dinner and Ride Makerz!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Thirteen!

My 13 favorite highlights from today:

1. Sleeping in!

2. Brunch at our house, us 4 + Chris and Michelle and the girls. Austin stayed with Grammie the night before, which made the whole sleeping in/even number of children/quiet afternoon thing possible. Thanks mom!

3. Ellie only having 2 meltdowns and both before noon!  The rest of the day was good for her, and I am quite thankful for that. :-)

4. Thanksgiving TV: Macy's parade, the dog show, Miracle on 34th street, and Horton Hears a Who!

5. Ellie peeling 10 pounds of potatoes by herself!  

6. Me not freaking out that nothing is decorated for Christmas yet, that the house wasn't perfect, that the turkey took too long, etc...  I was pretty relaxed today! :)   

7. Getting to sit and rest for awhile between gatherings.

8. A calm, quiet house between gatherings today. 

9. Making yummy food: Corn casserole, green bean casserole, Parker house rolls, PW's mashed potatoes, and cream cheese pepper jelly dip.

10. Jason smoking the turkey to perfection.

11. My parents, J's parents, and my Grandma coming over for dinner. We are so blessed to all live so close.  

12. Eating delicious food, all gathered at one big table! 

13. A little Thanksgiving night shopping to work off the big meal, but home by 10!  

It was a good year!  Happy Thanksgiving 2011!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

SDC Christmas!

We love SDC at Christmas!

This year we found the gingerbread people!
 Ellie on the carousel!
 Grammie and the girls watching the big tree.
 Austin watching the big tree, with his new hat. :)
 Talking with Santa, there was no rush, so nice!
 Me and Austin, and Ellie and Annie on the swings!
 Grammie with the kids!
 Grammie and the A's on the carousel.
It was a great night!

Monday, November 21, 2011


10 years ago I painted a room for my first, yet to be born, daughter. I heaved my 7 month pregnant body up and down a ladder, and all around that room. I painted trees, birdhouses, flowers, and butterflies, and clouds on the ceiling. I poured myself into it, imagining the wonderfully precious baby that would soon be sleeping there. I was young, I had never been sleep deprived, and honestly I was quite naive about what parenthood would be like. Obviously there have been a lot of twists and turns over the last 10 years, but somehow we've made it almost a decade. :)

About a year ago I realized Ellie was quickly outgrowing her room, and it's decor, so we started talking and planning, and now we're finally putting some paint on the walls!

It's a beautiful (calming) pool blue color. I love it, and I am a very happy with how things are turning out. Yes it's bittersweet. As I painted over the butterflies and flowers I remembered how excited I was 10 years ago, and how different things have gone than what I expected. What will the next 10 years hold? Only God knows. I pray that her new, calming and beautiful room, will see her grow into a lovely young woman, full of Gods glorious grace.

Stay tuned, I'll be posting pictures soon!


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Love this town

Our town.

It is unique, in that it is a draw for millions of tourists, and yet it's a small town for us "locals". In many ways we have the best of both worlds. My favorite times though, are the small town moments.

Branson loves Veterans, and every year we put on a Veterans Day parade. All of the kids used to go, but now that they're in school they don't get the chance.
This year though, Annie was a little sick, and stayed home from school. By mid-morning she was doing much better and we decided to catch the parade.

Our shop is in the heart of downtown Branson, and the parade goes directly in front of it. For years, starting with Jason's parents, we close the shop for business while the parade is going. It's a respect thing, and we proudly stand out front and honor out veterans.

Annie and Nana watching the parade...

Thank you veterans!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fall Soccer 2011

Another fun fall soccer season under our belts! Annie did a great job!
Handling the ball!

Go girl!

Tough and Beautiful

The Team!
Getting her Trophy!

Soccer Cousins!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Christmas Photo Shoot, 2011!

We literally threw on some clothes and ran outside for this years Christmas card photo shoot.  My un-planned-ness paid off this year though, because we made it through our quick at home session with no drama. NO DRAMA!

Ok...a little drama.  But not because of a grumpy child or parent, which is our norm. Just a little "mommyforgottochargethecamerabattery" drama. No worries though, while we charged the battery I used my trusty iPhone (have I mentioned my adoration for my iPhone? Miraculous) to snap a few pics. Then once the battery had enough juice, we set up the tripod and got the family shot.


I think we may do this again next year. Easy peasy, happy kids, happy parents. Win Win!

I'll just remember to charge the battery next time. :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's that time again!

Oh Holy Night Religious Christmas Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Our journey with Ellie...

Part of my bloggy silence in the last several months has been due to a journey we've been on with Ellie. I have been silent about it, because I wanted to wait for answers. I wanted to have details to share, maybe even wisdon to impart...Ha! :) In all seriousness though, it's been a very rough road with Ellie since spring, and last June after doing some research, I set out on a path to get some serious answers.

Autism. It's a scary word, but a word that has become increasingly familiar to me in the last several months.

In August we started seeing a family counselor to explore what was going on with Ellie. Yes, she has Sensory Processing Disorder, and we have had our challenges with her in that regard, but for awhile we felt like we had things somewhat under control. Starting in the spring, and continuing over the summer Ellie slid into a bad place. Her sensory problems increased, her meltdowns increased, she became angry, sad, anxious, fearful. As school started, her problems hit an all time high. She cried for an hour before school, and an hour after school. Socially she has had an extremely rough year, not being able to handle other kids, not understanding social rules, not functioning as a typical 4th grade girl. Not even close. The possibility of an Autism Spectrum Disorder was immediately brought up, and so we began walking a new path.

We're still on this path, with all it's twists and turns and looong waits to see doctors and therapists, and have numerous evaluations done, but we finally got the first of our answers yesterday. After weeks of testing, Ellie's school has diagnosed her with Autism.

Now, if you know Ellie at arms length, you may be confused. She appears at first glance to be a very "normal" child. But if you watch her, really watch her, you will see the differences. She does not play, she does not understand social rules, she is extremely detailed, she cannot tolerate changes in routine. She is not Autistic, in the "Rain Man" sense. She is very high functioning, with her major areas of concern and delay being in social areas, sensory areas, and gross motor areas. She now has an IEP in place, that spells out her needs, and what special services she will receive. OT, Language therapy, Social Skills training, etc.

We are still waiting for a more specific diagnosis, which will come from an independent neuro-psych evaluation that is scheduled at the beginning of December. That's the "big one" in my head, the one that will give us more direction. For now though, I feel that we're on the right path. The counselor/therapist that we're seeing specializes in Autism Spectrum Disorders, and he and the school feel that we're heading in the right direction. I have struggled with this, prayed over this, cried and lost so much sleep over this, but I do feel like we're getting there.

Of course I don't want my child to have Autism, but I do want her to get the help she so desperately needs. I am counting her diagnosis as a victory. She is a bright, beautiful girl, and with a little help, I think she will use her special needs and special talents to become a wonderful help to others someday.

To be continued... :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Minivan Mom

My new ride...
After 4 years the poor Suburban just couldn't take it any more. I get it. So now I am officially a minivan mom!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Wienermobile!!!!!

Once we heard the Wienermobile was in town, you know we had to go!

Christian Dean!

Christian Dean Whitlock
Congrats Josh and Laney!!! He is perfect in every way!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Da Babies!

Lauren brought the babies for a visit!!!  They are precious and tiny and OH so cute!!!

Family visit!
Annie HAD to hold them both at the same time!
G-ma and Aunt Diane comparing their feet size.

Jake (looking up) and Tripp (on his side)!

Michelle and I with the babies!

Austin wasn't quite sure about holding them, but he did love them!

Ellie holding Tripp!