Monthly Archives: January 2010

Carving Pumpkins and Raking Leaves…All in a Fall Day’s Work

We rounded out our visit to Arkansas in October with a fantastic fall day outside at Grandpa and Grandma’s house in Fayetteville.

While Ben napped that afternoon, the rest of us got started on carving our pumpkins.  Mom was even feeling good enough to sit outside with us.  We didn’t know it then, but this day turned out to be the last time we took pictures with her.  It was a special day and I’m so thankful we got to share it with her.  It will be one I’ll never forget.

After Ben woke up from his nap he was ready to play outside with the rest of us.  Grandpa Bill bought him a little rake just his size and he was beyond thrilled to get busy raking leaves!

And what good is raking leaves if you can’t play in them…and play they did!!  Here’s Ben with his cousins, Khloee and Kayla.

Snuggling with Grandma one last time.  Sweet memories.


Filed under Arkansas, Ben, Family, Health, Holiday, Mom

Cowboy Ben & The Fall Festival

During our stay in Arkansas in October we made our way from Fayetteville over the Boston Mountains and through the Bobby Hopper Tunnel to Opi and Omi’s house in Greenwood.  (Just a little side note that makes us laugh…Ben loves going through the tunnel on the way to Greenwood.  Every time we drive through it he says, “Bobby Hopper Tunnel…do it AGAIN!!”)  We had several fun highlights from our visit there including horseback riding (well, really it was a mule…do you call that muleback riding?), the Fall Festival at their church, visiting with a good friend and playing with TRUCKS!! 

One afternoon Dad, Ben and I decided to venture out on the four-wheeler.  We drove down behind their house to scope out the turtles and geese on the lake and eventually made our way over to a pasture with several horses.  We stopped to let Ben pet one of the horses grazing closest to the fence when a man named Bill walked up to say hello.  It turned out that he owned the land and horses and invited us to come back the following day to let Ben go for a ride.  And that’s just what we did. 

 Here’s Cowboy Ben and Cowboy Opi ready to ride!

When we arrived that morning Cowboy Bill told us that he couldn’t corral the horse he wanted Ben to ride so we opted for a friendly mule instead.

Ride ’em Cowboy Ben!!

After a fun morning with the mule and a good afternoon nap we were ready for our next adventure…The Fall Festival!  Thankfully my stepmom had picked up this cute chef’s hat and apron for Ben because it became his costume for the festival.

After a delicious dinner of chili, hotdogs, Frito pies, nachos and caramel apples (no, I didn’t eat all of those things by myself, but I might have sampled all of them!!), we headed outside to check out the bounce houses, jumbo slides and the pony rides!!

Then it was back inside the gymnasium for all kinds of fun and games.

This is one of my favorite pics…Ben all the way down in the basket picking out a prize!  Not a bad way to end the night!!

A trip to Greenwood is never complete without seeing one of my best buddies, Sonya, and her two girls, Laynee and Raegan.  (And that we all sat down together and all the kids were looking at the camera for this picture is nothing short of a miracle!)

Last but not least, I have to mention Ben and the coveted trucks at Opi and Omi’s house.  Literally, from the moment we walk in the door (and sometimes as we are driving up to their house) he’s asking for, “Trucks, Ben play with trucks!”  He literally plays with them every waking hour we are there and often wakes up early in the morning calling out, “Trucks!”, from the pack-n-play.  Since we’ve been back in Florida we’ve even called Opi (at Ben’s request) to see if he could come over and play trucks at our house.


Filed under Arkansas, Ben, Family, Food, Holiday

Ben and Laci Go to the Pumpkin Patch

Ben and I spent October 16-26 with family back in Arkansas enjoying lots of fun festivities and the beautiful fall temperatures (when our temps here in Florida were still reaching into the 90’s)!  A few days before we left we heard “Woo, Pig, Sooie” coming from Ben’s room.  He was calling the Hogs at 6:15 in the morning!  Jake and I laughed out loud as we listened to him on the monitor.  I’d say someone was a little excited about our trip!!  

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon Tim, Candice and I took Ben and Laci to a Pumpkin Patch at McGarrah Farms in Pea Ridge.  When we entered the patch they gave us this fun little wagon to pull the kids and pumpkins in.  Laci really liked to ride, but Ben decided he’d rather walk instead. 

There were rows and rows of these maple trees lining the back of the pumpkin patch.  They were amazingly beautiful!

Laci picking out the perfect pumpkin.

Ben contemplating whether he should venture down the hay tunnel.

“That’s a negative, Ghostrider.”  Ben wanted nothing to do with that long dark tunnel.  So we opted to cheer on Laci instead…she loved it!

And finally we were ready for the much-anticipated hayride around the farm. 

Ben making his last pumpkin choice of the day.


Filed under Arkansas, Ben, Family

Oma’s October Visit to Orlando

Since I haven’t blogged in a couple of months I have lots to catch up on.  We’ve had some special times with our families over the last several months and my first recap takes us all the way back to the beginning of October of last year.  

We were so excited to have Oma Leah (that’s Jake’s Mom) come and stay with us for a long weekend at the beginning of the month!!  We packed lots of fun things into the weekend and had a splendid time doing so!

First up…Jake’s birthday!!  He turned 33 on October 4!  We (minus Ben who was at home with the babysitter) headed out to Downtown Disney and enjoyed a delicious dinner in The Dining Room at Wolfgang Puck Cafe.  (That’s a candle not a cigarette hanging out of Jake’s mouth!)  =)


Another part of Jake’s birthday was researching and then making a “soccer torte.”  I guess ever since Jake and I have been married he’s talked about this “soccer torte” that he used to get from a bakery back in North Little Rock.  After researching this torte I discovered that it is actually spelled Sacher Torte, but pronounced like soccer.  The first two bakeries I contacted did not make the torte and finally I was refered to a little bakery right down the street from our house that said they could make it…however, they were so busy they couldn’t have it ready for me until a week later.  Strike three.  Back to the drawing board.  So once Oma Leah arrived we researched a little more and decided to make one…the truth is…Oma Leah decided she was brave enough to make it and Jake and I just assisted with things like trying out the various chocolate layers.  It turned out yummy (although my actual picture of a slice of the cake doesn’t do it justice)!!



We took our first trip to Sea World with Ben that weekend.  And I’m pretty sure he LOVED it!  I spent more time watching him watch everything than I did taking in all the sights myself.  He was mesmorized!!

His first encounter with Shamu.  (He was a little skeptical at first but after watching the show Believe he was in love.  Oma Leah bought him a stuffed animal Shamu and he still sleeps with it and takes it with him on all of our overnight trips.)

Here we are at Believe…The sensational Shamu show.  Sensational it was…and hot…this was the first thing we did that day and as you can see we were already really sweating (or perspiring as my Grandma Schulte used to say)!!


Next up, paddle boats!  This isn’t just any ole paddle boat, it is a pink flamingo paddle boat!  The last time I road one of these boats was with my friend Sonya and her daughter, Laynee.  We got called out over the loud PA system for paddling under the fountain in the middle of the lake.  Apparently, there are amoebas in the water and they don’t want you to get sprayed by the water for fear that you would ingest such amoeba and become sick.  Makes you want to ride the pink flamingo paddle boat even more doesn’t it!?!  Rest assured that we did not repeat that mistake again!  Ben actually thought the ride was quite relaxing and almost fell asleep before the ride was over.



Visiting the Clydesdale horses. 

The not so fun part about any theme park…waiting in line.  (Looking back at this picture with his mouth on that railing makes me kind of cringe…I don’t even want to think about all the germs!!) 

The wait was worth it for this fun ride called Wild Arctic.  We started out on a jet helicopter simulator that Jake referred to as “our mission”.  Ben thought this was so cool…he kept saying, “Ben go on mission…ride the hell-copper.”  We also got to see walruses, whales and polar bears (it was dark and all the animals were behind thick glass so none of the pictures turned out on my camera except for this one of Jake and Ben coming out a cave that Ben referred to as a “tunnel”)!

This is in front of the Pacific Point Preserve (one of my favorite places at Sea World second only to the Penguin Encounter).  I know it isn’t the greatest picture because Ben’s eyes are closed, but it is the only picture I took that day that shows the roller coaster, Kraken, in the background.  Anytime we saw the coaster throughout the day (which is a lot since it is so tall) Ben would say, “Ben ride the rollercoaster.”  Considering he didn’t meet the height requirement for the kiddie rollercoaster we told him he could ride Kraken on another day when he was just a bit bigger.  This kid was not scared!

Our last stop of the day was to the exhibit called Jewel of the Sea Aquarium.  Here they are standing on part of the aquarium looking down at the fish below.

Checking out the jellyfish.

And the rest of the undersea creatures.

Whew!  And if Sea World wasn’t enough…we also managed to squeeze in two birthday parties that weekend.

Here’s Ben after thoroughly enjoying a cupcake at Kailah’s 2nd birthday party.

We also got to help celebrate Cameron’s 1st birthday in Daytona with long time family friend Nichole and her husband Ryan!

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Filed under Ben, Birthdays, Family, Food, Orlando

Remembering Mom

“The death of a mother is the first sorrow wept without her.” –Unknown

It was sometime after 3:00 am when I heard my brother call out my name waking me up from my sleep.  “Bill just called…Mom went to be with the Lord at 3:20 this morning.”  It was Friday, November 20, 2009.  I had a restless night of sleep.  I, along with many others, had prayed fervently that night that God would take Mom home.  After watching her suffer over the last nine months, knowing that the doctors had done all they could do and especially watching her suffer those last few precious days…I just couldn’t bear the thought of her suffering any longer.  So I prayed that God would work swiftly, that He’d take her home and that when I woke up the next morning I would be told she was with Him in heaven…completely healed.  I know it seems strange to think about praying fervently for your mom to pass on, but at some point I began to look beyond the fact that I’d miss her and realized that it was best to let her go.  So when I heard the news I remember feeling both a sense of relief and great sorrow.  She was no longer suffering and completely healed, but at the same moment my heart ached and I missed her so very much.  That morning we all gathered at my Mom’s house to see her one last time before her body was taken to the funeral home.  It was somewhat comforting to see her lying there so peaceful, her face no longer drawn up in pain and she even had a little smile on her face.  We all thought that it was just like Mom to give us a smile…to let us know that everything was alright and that she was in good hands…our Father’s hands…I can’t imagine a place better.  A few days later we attended the visitation for her followed by her celebration service and burial the next day.

The celebration service was just that…a celebration of my Mom’s life and it was absolutely perfect.  We laughed and we cried.  I know I’ve shared a few of these things with some of you, but to me they are worth writing here and sharing with everyone.  There were two things the pastor talked about that day that have continued to give me peace, comfort and encouragement.  He shared with us about how not long after my Mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer she and my step-dad, Bill, claimed this verse from Psalm 118:24, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  She was not only willing to praise Him in the good times but in the bad times too.  The pastor also shared about the time when someone mentioned that Mom was losing her battle with cancer and she corrected them and said that this was not her battle to fight but that it was God’s and that he had already won the battle over death. 

Earlier this year in May our pastor gave a sermon titled, “If God is Good, Why is There Suffering?”  Here is a quote from our bulletin that day from Oswald Chambers, “The picture of God in the Bible is of One who suffers, and when the mask is torn off life and we see all its profound and vast misery, the suffering, sorrowing God is the only One who does not mock us.  ‘He was desposed, and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.’ ”  So I’ve asked God many times during this journey of suffering with mom, “Why this road, why this way?”  This is the answer I keep hearing, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8) and “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)  So here’s what I think…there is evil in the world because there is an evil one.  I don’t think it was God’s plan to ever have it that way.  I believe that He understood Mom’s suffering and cared for her very much…He never left her side.  There is comfort and healing in that.

So as not to mislead I should say here that things have not been easy since her death.  Sure, I absolutely believe the things that I wrote above and I do take great comfort in them, but it is false to believe that Christians don’t grieve.  I’ve felt great sorrow and most recently a lot of anger.  I’d like to stomp my foot, cross my arms and say, “I want my mom, NOW!”  I remember my college roommate telling me once, “It’s okay to tell God exactly how you feel, He wants you to be honest with him.”  And in those moments of great sorrow and anger I remember another story our pastor told us that Sunday in May.  He talked about three pots of boiling water (the boiling water represented suffering) and each pot had three different things in it (we could be represented by any of the three).  One pot was filled with carrots, the next an egg and the third coffee.  And he said that the choice was ours, that as we suffer and come out on the other side we can choose to be wimpy, hard or have things brought out of us that we didn’t know were there.  My prayer is that we would all choose to be the coffee.


Filed under Arkansas, Family, Health, Mom