Category Archives: Arkansas

20 on 20

Twenty years ago today, my dad and Linda tied the knot!  I still remember the day.  They were married in my hometown of Mena, Arkansas, at Grace Bible Church, the church I attended from the time I was born until I left for college.  I was a bridesmaid.  I can still picture my dress.  It was a floor length, v-neck dress with a flower print…lots of flowers.  I’ll also never forget a little incident that happened mid-way through the ceremony.  My sister, Jill, who was standing right next to me, almost passed out.  My grandpa (my dad’s dad) was sitting on the front row and thankfully he was fast on his feet because he caught her!  Poor thing had to be taken out of the sanctuary but recouped in time for the reception!  So there you have it, a recap of their wedding day from my perspective…the littliest bridesmaid.  I was almost 13.

Happy 20th Anniversary, Dad and Linda!  Thank you for being a wonderful example to us!  We love you very much and hope you enjoy your special day together!

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Happy 10th Birthday, Hunter!

My nephew, Hunter, turned ten today!  We had the pleasure of spending Christmas with him…he’s one cool kid!  He’s super smart and one of the kindest, most helpful ten-year olds I know.  He was more concerned about making sure everyone else had plenty of presents to open at Christmas than himself…yep…and he’s only ten.  Pretty cool!  Happy Birthday to you, Hunter!  We love you!

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Happy #1, Ashlin!

It seems like you were born just yesterday…Happy #1, Ashlin!  We love you lots!!

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Big Red and Sue E.

The night before we flew home from Arkansas in December, Jake and I took the boys to their first ever Razorback basketball game at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville!  Opi, Hunter, Tim, Candice, and Laci also joined us and we all had a great time!

Walking from “The Pit” to the arena.  Two of my favorite things about this picture…1.)  Laci, Hunter and Ben holding hands and 2.) Laci’s pig tails…they’re absolutely adorable!!  The kids were all so excited about the big game that they didn’t seem to mind the long, cold walk to the arena.

Finding tickets.  So we didn’t exactly have all the tickets we needed when we arrived at the game.  Ben was eager to help out by proudly displaying four little fingers.  I mean, really, who could turn him down?!?  We quickly found tickets, made our way inside and grabbed our seats just in time for the tip-off! 

Snacking on concession food!  Ben loves popcorn and he and Hunter are sharing a box of it in this pic.  He also munched on nachos and a hot dog!  A couple of times I heard Ben holler out “defense” even when we had the ball and he’d clap anytime anyone on our team or the opposing team scored a basket!

Cheering on our team!  I wasn’t sure how Jude would hold up considering game time was his normal bedtime.  But, in typical Jude fashion he was pretty chilled out and quite content to hang out on Opi’s lap.  (This picture really doesn’t show just how excited he was…he was bouncing, clapping and letting out little squeals for most of the game!)  I’m pretty sure he was in Hog heaven and happy to be out and about with all of us!

And the most anticipated event of the evening…

meeting Sue E.

and Big Red!!

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Loving Christmas 2010…A Little Recap



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Ho, Ho, Ho! Happy Birthday!

SPOILER ALERT:  If you have young children that still believe in Santa and can read, stop them from reading any further!!!  🙂

Happy Birthday to my brother-in-law, David!  Can you find him in the picture?  (Hint:  He’s the one with the long white beard!) 

He was quite the good sport over Christmas and agreed to dress up like Santa.  My family (all 18 of us) gathered in a beautiful home in Branson, MO, for the Christmas holiday.  Sometime during the early morning hours on Christmas day while the kids were preoccupied with opening stockings and presents, David slipped away to adorn himself in Santa’s finest.  Not long after that we heard a knock at the door and all of the adults chimed in almost simultaneously, “Who could that be?”  The kids were beyond excited (and some a little star struck) to see Santa standing there in their living room!  There were handshakes and hugs, questions about who was naughty and nice and words of gratitude for all the nice presents Santa delivered the night before.  Finally it was time for Santa to say goodbye.  And then it was asked, by Hunter I think, “Santa, Can I see the reindeer?”  Hmm.  We hadn’t anticipated that question.  And then all the adults began to speak up saying things like… “the reindeer are resting, yes, resting…they are down the road at the 7-11…getting some snacks and…resting before the long journey back to the North Pole.”  And with that the kids seemed satisfied and bid Santa farewell.  It was at that moment that I realized that all of the kids (minus Kayla) really did believe in Santa!  So cute! 

Thanks, David, for making family events so much fun!  We hope you have a wonderful day!!  We love you lots!        

Here’s a question for those of you that weren’t at this Christmas gathering…What accessory is missing from Santa’s costume?

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“We Weren’t Made for This World”

November 20, 2010 was the one year anniversary of my mom’s homecoming.  As the day approached, I really felt the need and desire to go home and be with my family.  So Jude and I packed our bags and flew out for a long weekend.  Thankfully Jake arranged his work schedule so that he could work from home and stay with Ben.  I was sad to leave them both behind, but I wasn’t up for the challenge of traveling by myself with both kiddos.  Ben was actually thrilled to have Daddy all to himself and they did lots of cool things together…of course the highlight…playing a few holes of golf. 

This was Jude’s first flight and first trip to Arkansas.  The flight was crowded so we didn’t have a ton of room to squirm around.  I think his ears must have hurt because despite my best effort to keep him drinking milk or chewing on his paci, he cried for the first and last 15 minutes of the flight.  In between those crying episodes he was pretty content to hang out on my lap playing with the airplane safety guide or attempting to chew on the barf bag (I know, icky, right!!) placed so neatly in the seatback right in front of us and just perfect for his little hands to grasp.  On one of our flights we sat between a high school kid and a grandma.  They were both wonderful especially since Jude kept trying to grab high school kid’s headphones and he was literally trying to jump into the grandma’s lap.  High school kid told me that I should never make Ben and Jude share a room.  He went on to explain that his mom made him share a room with his little brother when they were younger and he hated it.  I giggled to myself as I listened to this unsolicited advice.  Sweet kid really felt like he needed to be an advocate for all big brothers out there!  When Jude got fussy the grandma sang the “Pat-a-cake” nursery rhyme to him…she even held him for a brief moment trying to help out which only made Jude sob harder.  They were sweet and I was grateful for their kindness.

We had a babysitter watch Jude on the morning of the 2oth while Jill, Tim and I went out for breakfast at a yummy little place called Susan’s in Springdale.  As hard as this particular day was it was so special to spend it with them.  While we ate we talked about Mom…we laughed as we remember some of our fondest memories of her.  She was such a fun person…we never knew what goofy thing she might say (or do), or where we might find her missing coffee cup that she knew was “just right there,” or what surprise we’d find in the microwave after dinner because she forgot to put the dish on the table.  Her smile.  The way she’d say “hello” so full of life and energy when she’d answer the phone.  And, oh, how she loved us!  Sweet sweet memories.  

We cried as we remembered the pain of losing her and how difficult the past year had been without her.  Of course celebrating holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas and special days like her birthday and Mother’s Day  were really tough as expected.  But other things were difficult too often catching me off guard causing a flood of emotions.  For example, on the one year anniversary of the date we received the phone call that Mom was in the emergency room and they suspected she had pancreatic cancer or when we learned that she was coming home from the treatment facility and that there was nothing more they could do…it was almost like reliving the sadness all over again.  Even days when I’d go to the mall and see a mom and daughter shopping and eating lunch together were really tough (okay, that one’s still tough).  I was sad that she didn’t live to see Jude’s birth day, although I know she gets to see him now anytime she wants.  =) 

I’ll admit there were times that I just wanted to wallow in my own sadness and I did.  On many days I was just angry.  Why couldn’t God just heal her here on earth?  Earth is where we are and we miss her.  And then it hit me one day.  I am sure it had been said to me a million times before but I must not have been listening or better yet, I just didn’t want to hear.  I was driving when I heard a DJ on Z88.3 say, “We weren’t made for this world.  God didn’t plan it this way.  He planned for us to live in a garden, a perfect garden” [and we all know what happened there…thanks Adam and Eve].  So there in the car driving to Micheal’s with the boys in the backseat, I lost it.  This time my tears weren’t of sorrow and anger, but more like peace and healing.  So of course I still miss her and of course I still get sad about it, but I heard something else that really resonated with me.  The person said, “The pain we suffer after losing a loved one doesn’t get smaller over time as if to diminish who they were, but that we just grow bigger around the pain…that it makes us stronger.”  Cool, huh!  Not long ago I also heard a person’s interpretation of Matthew 5:4 that says, “Blessed are those who mourn…”  He explained, “We mourn because we were blessed by the person we lost.”  We were blessed to know Mom and call her our mom!

After breakfast the three of us went to visit mom’s gravesite at the national cemetery.  Each of us added our own bouquet of roses to the two that were already there.  While we were there we spent a lot of time just being quiet and it was nice.  I wish I could go there more often to visit.  When we first got to the cemetery there was a woman visiting another gravesite not far from Mom’s.  She was lying next to the grave.  We could hear her talking, but couldn’t make out what she was saying.  Every now and then we’d see her gently stroke the grass with her hand and by the look of the gravesite I could tell it was fairly new.  Before she left she asked us whose gravesite we were visiting.  We  shared with her about Mom’s story…that she had passed away a year ago from pancreatic cancer at the age of 62.  She said that her husband had recently passed away from cancer too and that he had lived with it for quite sometime.  I think he was in his 70’s when he passed away.  You could see the pain in her eyes as she talked about how much she missed him and about how she wished she could go now to be with him but knew she’d have to wait her turn to see him again in heaven.  We shared a hug there in the cemetery that day, two complete strangers both grieving for loved ones.  I was really touched by her.  The way she laid next to her husbands grave was so moving.  It was such a beautiful and refreshing expression of love.  

And on a much much lighter note, when we returned home the following day Ben asked, “Mommy are you and Jude going to leave again so that just me and Daddy can hang out?”  The little stinker makes me smile even if he was trying to get rid of me.  It was good to be home again with all of my boys!

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Laci is Two!!

Happy 2nd Birthday, Sweet Laci!  We love you lots!  XOXO

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Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is a very special day.  My mom would have turned 62!  It is hard for me to believe that this time last year she was here.  Yes, we were all grappling with the recent news of her diagnosis at the time (she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on February 13, 2009), but she was with us.  We celebrated her birthday last year with dinner at her house followed by her choice of angel food cake and strawberries.  What a sweet sweet memory to hold on to!  I’m thankful for it!

While thinking about my mom’s birthday this week, it brought back a very fond memory from when we were growing up as kids.  For our birthday dinners she would make us feel extra special by letting us use her beautiful china dishes!  I always felt so fancy on these special occasions!  Every now and then you’ll even catch me drinking something as simple as water from my own china glasses just for fun!  (You should try it sometime…turn your ordinary day into a fancy one!  ha ha)  I can’t wait to pass this tradition along to my kids…I think I’ll just wait a few more years until the whole throwing things from the high chair has passed! 

Last night I went back through several old photos my mom gave me and found this one!  I wish she was in it with me, but I thought it would be fun to share anyway.  I’m not sure how old I was but you can see how pretty the table looked with her china!  Oh, and it reminded me of a couple more things.  She always had a candle burning on the table.  And she would also break out a bottle of the finest sparkling grape juice!  This was like over the top fancy to me!  What a great mama!  (This is a picture of a very old picture (well, not VERY old…I’m not THAT old after all)…hope you can see it okay.)

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Welcome Baby Ashlin!!

My step-sister, Lindsey, and her husband, Dustin, welcomed their daughter (and first child), Ashlin Davea, into the world on Sunday, March 14th at 1:28 pm!  She weighs 5 pounds, 10 ounces and is 18 inches long.  

After dealing with severe swelling and extremely high blood pressure, also called toxemia, last Tuesday, March 9th, Lindsey’s physician sent her to the local medical center for additional evaluation.  They determined at that time to take her by ambulance to the university medical center a few hours away.  The medical staff, trained to handle high risk pregnancies, was able to bring her blood pressure down to a less serious level with blood pressure medication.  She also received several rounds of steroid shots to help the baby’s lungs develop in the event that they’d have to deliver her early.  The staff continued to monitor Lindsey and the baby for the next several days and after her condition seem to improve somewhat even considered discharging her with strict instructions to go home and stay on complete bed rest.  However, after her blood pressure began to spike again, it left them with no choice but to take the baby by caesarean on Sunday, March 14th. 

I am happy to report that both mama and baby are doing well considering the complications.  Lindsey was discharged yesterday morning.  Baby Ashlin was born six weeks premature and will remain in the NICU for now.  They are running some tests today and depending on those results she could be discharged as early as this Saturday.  We’ve seen God move in big ways over the past week by protecting Lindsey and the baby from serious harm and by providing them with outstanding medical care.  God is good and we are so thankful!

Congratulations, Mama Lindsey and Dada Dustin!  We’re so excited for you!  We can’t wait to meet baby Ashlin one day soon!!     

(A special side note, Ashlin was born on Granny Knighten’s birthday…that’s Lindsey’s granny.  She passed away several years ago from complications from diabetes.  She was a beautiful and lovely lady.  What a special gift to Lindsey to have her daughter born on the same day!)

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