Tuesday, July 10, 2018

COW APPRECIATION DAY 2018

Another Cow Appreciation Day is in the books.  These days are usually pretty crazy for us.  Usually, there are television appearances.  There are lots of extra people - basically, hype is everywhere, and sometimes that feels good and other times it feels stressful.  But, we are thankful to be partnered with a great company that is beloved by so many.  And, we do happen to have some of the cutest cows in our herd.

Untitled

We started the morning at the local Fox morning show with such a great crew of people to share chicken and cows with!  The kids did well, which definitely felt like a first.

Untitled
Untitled
Untitled

I'm so glad I made these dresses in 2014 and now just get to watch them get shorter. 🤣 The signs have also come a lot of years with us.

Untitled

The girls went to VBS for the morning, but we managed to make our way back to CFA for dinner with the rest of the cows in Little Rock.

Untitled
Untitled

All in all, it was a success!  Eat more chicken, and don't worry - there will be another chance for this next July if you missed it.

A trip down memory lane!

{Cow Appreciation Day 2017}
{Cow Appreciation Day 2016}
{Cow Appreciation Day 2015}
{Cow Appreciation Day 2014}
{Cow Appreciation Day 2013}
{Cow Appreciation Day 2012}
{Cow Appreciation Day 2011}

Sunday, July 08, 2018

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

Today I'm blogging about something that I wish would be easy - staying healthy.

IMG_0524

It's summer and swimsuit season, and last year, I had just finished Whole 30 feeling great.  This year, I just finished several short trips where I ate a lot and didn't love the number I saw on the scale when I got home.  It's weird that I can't eat anything and everything I want and stay the same weight. 🤦🏻‍♀️😱😑

However, I'm realizing that the real weird thing here is how long this is taking me to figure out and how I have to relearn it every year or so.  In looking into the Enneagram this year, I've learned a lot about the way I'm wired, and how gluttony is something I struggle with.  This is true in all areas of life - experiences, parties, shopping and EATING.  Limiting myself is not part of my natural make up in the ways that it is for some of the population.  I have to do a lot of hard work to make myself make good choices, and even then, my heart is rarely in it.

I know that sounds whiny and absurd, but it is how my brain works.  Figuring out how to work within this context means embracing that and recognizing that I will ALWAYS be fighting against gluttony in most areas of my life.  Of course I like feeling healthy - but I also really like eating chips and desserts.  And since balance is not my go-to, I usually fall off the chip and dessert cliff instead of eating a few here and there.

That said, I NEED THE BALANCE.  Truth be told, I am pretty good at exercising and do it at least 3 times a week - usually 4 or 5.  But, I have to always be watching my eating.  I'm not one of those people who can just not weigh themselves and hope for the best.  The best never happens for me.  I do not accidentally lose weight (unless there is extreme life trauma).  No, instead, I start feeling icky extra rolls on my stomach when I sit down.  That's where I gain the weight: there and my inner thighs.  Fun fact, I ruin more jeans by getting holes right at the top of the inner thighs, because my thighs just love each other.  I will never have a thigh gap, which I am fine with, but still, sometimes I wish mine were a little less fond of each other.

I'm writing to encourage myself and others to look for balance, even when its hard.  Being more disciplined is also a spiritual exercise, and I know that limiting myself is often what the Lord is asking from me.  That said, I also know that I do not need to kill myself in search of the "perfect" body or even "my perfect body."  Living in our society with all of the unnaturally thin images abounding can really be a mind trip.  Mostly, I am happy with my size and shape and thankful for all of the ways my body works well.  Even if I could stand to lose 5 pounds.

This is a snapshot of where I'm at right now.  I'm working to bring my eating back under control and stay mindful of moving and drinking water.  I really do feel immensely better when I do these things, and that is something to work towards.  But it is always going to be work for me, and there will be good days and bad days.  Just like there will be extra rolls on some days more than others.  It's just going to be part of my life, and I'm learning to embrace the journey and the work that it will always take.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

4TH FUN

It's July 5th, and I've been living today in a fog.  I am not sure why our founding fathers didn't write it into the Declaration of Independence that we should only celebrate towards the weekends - not smack dab in the middle of the week.  It feels super weird, and since we also went to something Sunday evening, the twins have not yet made it to school on time this week. 😬🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️

Hard to believe, but last year we were on safari in Rwanda on the 4th of July (which was amazing!), but it was really fun to be home this year to relish the patriotic themed madness.

IMG_0485

On Sunday night, we joined John's parents at their church's 4th of July celebration, which included lots of fireworks.  Other than Violet getting lost for about 4 minutes in the dark 😱, we had a delightful time.

IMG_3538
IMG_3545
IMG_3550
IMG_3578
IMG_3582
(double fisting treats is the sure sign of a holiday)
IMG_3585
IMG_3640

On the actual 4th, John took Lily to run the Firecracker 5K in the morning - she got 3rd in her age division!

IMG_0023
IMG_0029

He then took the kiddos for donuts to give me a break before he worked a little bit, and I brought the kids up for lunch.

IMG_0427
IMG_0434

We then all got suited up and ready for a pool party at our friends' house.  They finished the new pool in the last couple of weeks, and it was such a treat to be able to party at their house!

IMG_3655
IMG_0451
IMG_3658
IMG_0474
IMG_0488
IMG_0452
IMG_0931

There were so many friends there, new and old.  Our kiddos swam their hearts out.  We ate and watched fireworks from the pool.  All in all, it was about the best we could ask for to celebrate America's birthday!

IMG_0455
IMG_0487
IMG_0459
IMG_3659
IMG_3667
IMG_3668
IMG_3669
IMG_3678
IMG_3680
IMG_3681
IMG_3686
IMG_0483

Our kids were worn out and finally are at the stage where they are more interested in sleeping when they are tired than screaming.  It feels like we have arrived in that way, which I am so thankful for.

Happy Birthday, 'Merica!  Let's do it again next year.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

CHICAGO: BEING TOURISTS IN THE RAIN

We could hardly have had a more marvelous day than our Wednesday in Chicago.  Thursday didn't stand a chance.  And while it certainly didn't enjoy the hype that Wednesday got (the Dodgers at Wrigley! Hamilton!), Thursday was its own charming delight.  Here's the truth: when John and I get to be together and remember all over again why we like each other and play all day, it can only be good!

IMG_9992

That said, the weather was pretty abysmal, which meant sleeping in was delightful but everything else we did was pretty wet.  And given that rain snuck into the forecast at the last minute, I was not prepared with great footwear to be tromping around puddly, slick streets.  I actually squished when I walked.

After a very slow start, which we savored, we headed out to a highly recommended (by Trip Advisor) brunch place.  It took a while to get there, and since it was a random Thursday morning, we thought it wouldn't be that difficult to get in.  We thought wrong.  There were people tucked into alcoves all over the street trying to avoid the rain while we all waited for tables.  And my phone kept issuing flood warnings.

IMG_9975
IMG_9976
IMG_9978

Turns out, it was totally worth the wait.  And, as I noted before - since it was just John and I hanging out, we were able to enjoy waiting.  We could never wait 45+ minutes for anything with our children. The flight of french toast was completely divine, and I wish that Lobster Omelettes were more readily available to me at all times.

IMG_9981
IMG_9982

The rain had slowed considerably, so we decided to be regular Chicago tourists and head straight to Millennium Park and the Bean, which is actually known as Cloudgate.  It really is mesmerizing and so shiny.

IMG_1982
IMG_9998
IMG_0002
IMG_0008

We decided to walk to Navy Pier, because a flight of french toast does not exactly sit lightly and walking seemed to be in order.  Lake Michigan was cloudy and gray, and we could barely see the city skyline through the fog.

IMG_0015
IMG_0017
IMG_0023
IMG_0025
IMG_0028

It was fun to see Navy Pier before heading back to our hotel to pick up our luggage and head back to the airport. 

IMG_0037

Our flight ended up being delayed due to weather, and since the weather had been horrendous much of the day, O'Hare was packed.

IMG_0040

John did spend a little time airdropping inspirational quotes to strangers to entertain us. 🤣

IMG_0051

We made it to Little Rock well after midnight and to our house right at 1 a.m.

IMG_0060

And while we were tired the next day, it seems that we might be reaching a new era.  For many years now, we've been too exhausted to do much tripping together that involves more than laying around (and there is definitely still a place for this kind of trip always).  This time we managed to work in fun activities, make friends with people around us and enjoy the adventure.  It is encouraging to feel that we are gaining ground on the energy front.

All of this was possible because John made magic happen, and because his parents were able to keep our children on short notice - we are so grateful!  And now that I fully understand how wonderful Chicago is, we will definitely be heading back!