Category Archives: Weather

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

With the scent of pumpkin spice floating through the air at my house today along with the current “cold” front that’s sweeping its way across Central Florida, it finally feels a little like fall around here.  So before our temps spike back into the 80’s (like mid-week) I thought I’d share a few of my favorite things about my favorite season of the year…fall!!

The Food.  I can’t talk about fall without discussing a few of my favorite “warm your belly” treats.  Just this morning I made egg sandwiches for the entire family (minus Jude of course).  It, along with a cup of hot cocoa, is my go-to breakfast on chilly fall mornings (it’s one of my dad’s favorites too!).  Although, lately I’ve replaced the hot cocoa with a cup of Santa’s White Christmas coffee…Barnie’s puts it on our supermarket shelves this time of year and I love it so much I might single-handedly keep them in business.  Ask my family, I even travel home for the holidays with at least one bag of it.  Truth be told I also picked up bags of Pumpkin Spice and Vanilla Nut (both by Dunkin’ Donuts) too!  Any temps below 70 and I also feel like I have an excuse to make chili.  And a big pot of it I made just this week.  Topped with a heaping mound of cheddar cheese and a side of saltines…delightful!  I know, I know…now that I’ve made you all hungry, take a minute, grab your favorite “warm your belly” treat and get comfy.

Farmers’ Market.  Just about every town around us has a farmers’ market.  On a Saturday morning a few weeks ago we decided to check one out.  When we pulled up we were delighted to find a small pumpkin patch and some friends from our neighborhood there.  Ben picked up just about every pumpkin and said, “See, this one isn’t heavy.”  He was very proud to show off his muscles.  After strolling through the market and looking at all the booths, we made a selection of barbeque for lunch and found a nice picnic table to eat at before heading home for nap time. 

Fall Festival.  This year’s theme for the fall festival at our church was cowboy!  After donating a couple of pairs of jeans to help out local shelters, we made our way into the festival packed full of activities:  bounce houses, line dancing, face painting, a petting zoo, pony rides, games and food!  After Ben dismounted from the pony he got to ride he looked up at me with a very serious look and said, “I’m a real cowboy, Mommy!”  Another funny highlight from the evening…without our knowledge Ben ordered his own snow cone.  Jake and I were talking with someone when we turned around to find a woman handing him a snow cone.  When Jake asked the woman behind the counter if she just gave him one she told us Ben came up and ordered it all by himself.  Sneaky little thing.  The cotton candy he’d just eaten was supposed to have been his special treat for the night!

“Booing” friends.  It’s become a tradition that a couple of weeks before Halloween we Boo our friends.  So one afternoon while Jude napped, Ben and I secretly delivered our goodie stuffed pumpkins to our two next door neighbors.  As we walked Ben slipped his little hand into mine.  I just love it when he’s in a hand holding kind of mood!  As we walked we talked about how it’s not only fun to get Halloween goodies, but to give them away as well.

Pumpkin Carving.  Another tradition…for the third year in a row we’ve carved pumpkins with friends from our neighborhood.  In a nutshell, the daddies do most of the carving while the mommies talk (and eat) and the kids run around and play.  It’s a lot of fun for everyone!!  Well, maybe not as fun for the daddies…carving pumpkins is hard work after all!  (The second picture is of Brock and Bowen…they are Ben’s good buddies and our former neighbors…thankfully they didn’t move too far away and we still get to see them!)

Halloween.  It’s no secret that we like to dress up as a family and have lots of silly fun on Halloween.  I ordered Ben’s costume at the beginning of October and he wore it a lot.  I’d say we got our money’s worth out of it!  I wasn’t sure how Jude would react to his own costume.  You might recall this from Ben’s first costume experience.  But, in typical Jude fashion, the kid had a cute little smile on his sweet little face almost the entire time he wore the costume…headpiece and all! 

Falling Leaves.  It wouldn’t be fall without a few falling leaves.  And (just) a few we have.  These are from the two crape myrtles in our backyard.  Since everything stays green all year long here in Central Florida, we cherish our little sprinkling of leaves!  


Filed under Ben, Holiday, Jude, Orlando, Weather

Home for the Holidays

We returned to Arkansas to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with friends and family from December 24-January 3.  When we arrived at my Dad and Linda’s house in Greenwood on the evening of the 24th we received a wonderful surprise…SNOW!!  No dreaming about it…we had a white and beautiful Christmas!!  

We also made it in time to put out some milk and cookies for Santa.  It must seem like torture to an almost two-year old to put out milk and cookies and then not get to eat them.  However, Ben was completely delighted when he woke up the next morning to find an empty cup and plate where the milk and cookies once were.  He exclaimed, “Santa eat cookies!!”

We spent the rest of Christmas morning lounging around the house in our pajamas while opening gifts and playing games.  It was some much-needed rest and relaxation.

Last Christmas we bought a board book for Ben called The Story of Christmas.  I think it explains gift giving at Christmas so sweetly, “We give gifts at Christmas to show our love and to say, “Happy birthday, Baby Jesus.””  So after Ben and Laci woke up from their afternoon naps we decided to do just that…have a party for Jesus.  We sang happy birthday and enjoyed some delicious cupcakes!!

A few days later we made our way back to Fayetteville where we celebrated my sister Jill’s 34th birthday on December 27th.  (I love how all the kids are staring at the cake in this pic!)

The following day we celebrated Christmas again with my step-dad, Bill.  It was so hard to celebrate Christmas without my mom this year.  I kept thinking about how last Christmas we didn’t even know she was sick.  It was a reminder to me just how sweet and precious life really is and that we shouldn’t take a single moment for granted.  My mom just had this way about her, especially during the holidays.  She always had such a bubbly spirit and a way of making everyone feel comfortable…from the yummy smelling candle burning on the table to the delicious food we’d all enjoy together.  Oh, and I certainly can’t forget all the card games we’d play…with my mom winning most hands!!  We just never knew what kind of tricks she had up her sleeve or what funny/crazy things she was going to say next.  We missed her.     

Ben loves his new John Deere tractor and trailer from Grandpa!  It didn’t take him long to learn how to hook up the trailer to the tractor.  Now each time he hooks it up he runs to me and says, “I did it, I did it.  Yea, Ben!”  (All while clapping and grinning from ear to ear!)

On New Year’s Eve we drove down to Mena for my cousin Annie’s baby shower.  Baby Chloe will be here soon…on February 16th or 17th!!  (You can read more about their exciting adoption story here.)  Ben was not exactly thrilled to be in the car traveling again so thankfully we had my nephew, Hunter, along for part of the ride.  He brought lots of his trucks and literally saved the day.  Once he joined us on the drive, Ben was HAPPY to play with all the “cool trucks”.

Later that evening we rang in the New Year with about 25 people at my Uncle Steve and Aunt Kathy’s house.  My cousin, Sarah, summed it up nicely, “We ate yummy food, played Beatles Rockband & Guitar Hero and watched the ball drop. Then we all made a beeline for bed at 12:01.”  Thank you for being such wonderful hosts.  We had a great time!

Ben turned 22 months old the day after Christmas.  While we were in Mena over New Year’s, Sarah took lots of great pictures of him and of “the cousins” kids so I thought I’d share a few of them here in honor of Ben’s 22nd month.  Thank you for the pictures, Sarah!!  I’ve had so much fun looking at them!  It really was wonderful to all be together again!!

Ben enjoying the wide open spaces while playing with leaves and sticks!  What more could a little boy ask for!

Ben and Jackson riding in the wagon!  New Year’s weekend was the first time they met.  They were great pals…they played with trains and trucks, danced, and oh, how they LOVED to wrestle!  They were great entertainment!


Asher, Ben, Audrey, Laci and Jackson.  Trying for a group shot was no easy task.  I wish I had a picture of all the chaos going on behind the scenes here with everyone trying to get the kids to look and smile at the camera.  Sarah managed to snap this one before any child sustained injuries from another!! 

Sarah, Jackson, Ben and me.  This was not only the first time that Ben and Jackson got to meet, but it was also the first time that Sarah got to meet Ben and I got to meet sweet Audrey!  Fun times!

In keeping with the holiday spirit, here are some funny things…

From the mouth of Ben:

All throughout the Christmas season Ben loved to tell anyone he met (at the grocery store, library, etc…), “Santa’s coming, santa’s coming!”

A few days before we left for Arkansas we had a small get together with a group of friends here in the neighborhood.  We ate a delicious meal together and then exchanged gifts among the families.  One of the gifts Ben received was a Mr. Potato Head.  He referred to him as “Mr. Tomato Head!”

Every time we are at Baby Laci’s house in Arkansas, Ben loves to read the book called Jonah and the Big Fish…the Bible story about Jonah and the whale.  Anyway, some neighbors down the street from our house had a large air-filled helicopter complete with Santa Claus pilot in their yard over Christmas.  Each time we passed by it Ben would call out, “Jonah ride the hel-copper!”

We were praying one day and I told Ben that Santa Claus ends his prayers by saying, “Ho, ho, ho, Amen.”  Ben thought that was really cool and began repeating, “Ho, ho, ho, Amen,” after our prayers too! 

One night at dinner Jake and I were telling Ben that Santa lives at the North Pole.  We asked him a little bit later where Santa lived and he exclaimed, “North Hole!”      

Just about every day (or every other day) since we returned home in January Ben tells me, “Ben get on airplane today, fly to Arkansas.”

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Filed under Arkansas, Ben, Birthdays, Family, Food, Friends, Holiday, Weather

Arkansas…Naturally a Good Time









Ben and I traveled to Arkansas to spend time with my mom and other family members at the end of May/early June.  It was such a blessing to have 10 whole days to hang out with my mom.  I referred to her as Ms. Daisy and I was her driver.  We spent time running errands, getting some lab work done and of course…getting pedicures!!  Here’s a recap from our time together.

The day before we left, Ben helped me pack up our stuff.  Here’s a cute clip of us talking about our flight the next morning.  Whenever we talk about planes with Ben he’ll immediately point up to the sky and then blow air out of his mouth making a “whew” sound.  At the end of the clip he notices the neighbor out walking her dog, Mojo.  That’s him “barking” at Mojo.

Finally, after an uneventful flight…we had arrived in the natural state!!  We enjoyed lots of fun times outside at Grandma and Grandpa’s house!


Ben liked to go on walks around the yard with Grandpa.










Here we are enjoying dinner out back…apparently howling is a very normal dinner time ritual in our family!!


He absolutely loved this Razorback flag at Grandma’s house.  When we were inside he peered longingly out the window at it and as soon as the front door opened he’d make a b-line for it.









Grandpa and Grandma bought a special little pool for the grand kids to splash and play in.  Ben spent a lot of time climbing in and out and in and out of the water, then he’d take a break from his busy activities for a nice refreshing drink of…pool water…yummy!









One afternoon mom and I took Ben to the playground down the street from her house.  Ben loved every minute of it!











Khloee and Ben played with sidewalk chalk while Laci (sitting up like a big girl!!) supervised in her adorable white hat.










We took a break from all of our outside activities to stop in at Rick’s Bakery to cool off and grab a delicious treat!!









We also celebrated two super special birthdays while we were there…my dad celebrated his birthday on June 2nd and Khloee celebrated her birthday on June 7th! 









I always LOVE IT when our trip coincides with birthday parties…I hate missing out on family stuff like that.  For my dad’s big day we celebrated at PF Changs.  We had a lovely evening and pigged out on some delectable food!!  (The babies were at home with the babysitter.)









A few days later we celebrated Khloee’s sixth birthday at LokomotionIMG_7706







I’m pretty sure Ben was quite overwhelmed by all of the commotion and loud noises, but he handled it quite well.  He got to ride on some of those motorized vehicle toys for the first time which was quite fun to watch. 









Hunter, Landon and Kayla after bumper boats.  Clearly they were having so much fun and definitely hyped up on lots of sugar!!









And for the record…Kayla and I smoked and I mean SMOKED everyone else on the go-karts!











When we arrived in Arkansas Ben hit the ground running…literally.  He wasn’t really walking that much before we left other than the times we would really encourage him to stand up and walk.  By the end of our trip I felt like “he was run-ning”!!


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Filed under Arkansas, Ben, Birthdays, Family, Food, Health, Travel, Weather

Out Like a Lion

Ahh, springtime in Arkansas…I’d forgotten just how unpredictable it is!  Before I started packing our suitcases for our trip there at the end of March I checked the 10-day forecast.  If I recall correctly, the highs were predicted somewhere between the upper 60’s and low 70’s.  So I packed mostly shorts and t-shirts for Ben, along with just a couple pairs of pants and long sleeve shirts “just in case” and at the last moment I threw in a light weight jacket for him…thank goodness!  (Truth be told, I even packed swimsuits…what was I thinking???)  Maybe my blood is just super thin from having lived in Florida for the past three years, but it sure seemed blizzard-like to me!!  Brr!!!  So despite the rainy, cold and snowy (yes, it even snowed) weather, we had a most excellent trip!!

We celebrated my mom’s birthday!  img_6488







We treated our little piggies to some pampering!









My college roommate, Tonya, just so happened to plan a trip back to Arkansas from Montevideo, Uruguay, to surprise her family for the exact same time period that Ben and I were there (we didn’t even plan our trips together…how cool is that)!  So one afternoon we got to meet up for a couple of hours in Fayetteville for a chat.  It was sooo much fun to see her!  Unfortunately we didn’t get to meet Isabel, but Ton did get to meet Ben and Laci for the very first time!!  Tonya’s sister, Tammy, along with her two adorable girls, Addison and Stella, were there too.  The girls wanted to eat at Chick-fil-a so we were able to find a nice long table at the back of the restaurant.  Ben was quite the trooper considering he didn’t take a morning nap (we had a babysitter watch him and Laci while we got pedicures) and he was incredibly tired.  Thankfully a nice worker there brought Ben a balloon…it seemed to keep him occupied for most of the time.  However, trying to snap a picture proved to be a bit more challenging.

First attempt:









Several attempts later:








And on the sixth attempt…we got it!!  (Notice no balloon…one of the girls is holding it for Ben to look at…as you can see he wasn’t very pleased)!









Ben got to spend a fun afternoon with his cousins Courtney, Leah and Jenna at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  img_6490







Ben LOVES toast and after he finished his piece, he crawled up into Grandma’s lap and ate hers too!









Ben couldn’t wait for Grandpa to get home from work each day so they could play together.










One morning while in Greenwood, Candice, Sonya and I got to go out for brunch sans the babies.  It was so much fun to have an actual conversation with the girls without any interruptions, not to mention we ate at IHOP (I haven’t eaten there in forever).  My breakfast included chocolate chip pancakes…yummy!  I used to always order the chocolate chip pancakes as a kid and loved them!!  I also remember feeling like I was going to yak after polishing off an entire plate of them back then.  Now that I am older and wiser (although I’m not so sure eating a pile of chocolate chip pancakes with whip cream is all that wise), I pair them with an egg and some sausage and the salt helps to tone down the sugar.  Voila!!








We grilled out for Tim’s birthday.  Okay, actually, I guess Tim grilled out for us on his birthday, in the freezing cold, battling a pretty bad cold himself.  Gosh, now that I think about it that doesn’t sound like a “happy” birthday at all.  Sorry about that Tim, I hope you’ll considering “celebrating” another birthday with us again sometime.  Thanks for being such a sport and for cooking some yummy kabobs!






















The day before we left, the weather warmed up a little bit so that we could enjoy the great outdoors at my dad and Linda’s new house.  The house really turned out beautiful!  I wish I had gotten more pictures of it (inside and out) for you all to see, but I forgot my camera battery charger and it died before I had a chance to take any more.  Here’s David, Landon and Dad using the telescope to search for birds.  I think they spotted an eagle perched on a tree in the lake below!! 










Jill and Khloee playing their own unique version of chess!









This was taken on our journey back up the mountain side after taking a walk down to the lake.  You can see part of their AMAZING view in the background.









Ben got to celebrate his birthday again!img_6556







 He got to play with more of his cousins…Kayla, Landon, Khloee…









…and Laci!  How cute is she with this doll…that she LOVES!!









Ben spent a whole lot of time playing in the entryway at their new place.  He absolutely LOVED it and the stairs!!!  It appears that Ben wasn’t the only one having lots of fun in the entryway…click here!  Thanks so much to everyone that made our trip so wonderful!  We love you and look forward to seeing many of you in St. Augustine in just a few short weeks!



Filed under Arkansas, Ben, Birthdays, Family, Food, Friends, Travel, Weather

Ben’s 1st Thanksgiving

Hello, again, blog.  I’m sorry that I have completely neglected you over the past several weeks.  Since we arrived home on the 8th, we have been going non-stop. 

So now I would like to take this time to sit back, relax and reflect on the fun time we had in Arkansas!  Ben had several “firsts”!  For the very first time he:  celebrated Thanksgiving, bounced on a trampoline and played in the snow to name a few!!!  He was very busy!!  What a glorious time!  Here are the highlights from our trip:

My mom made the trek to Springfield to pick us up!  It was certainly a blustery winter’s day when we arrived.  As we made our way across the airport parking lot to the car, Ben made little gasping sounds as the gusts of wind blew in his face.  Here he is all bundled up waiting patiently while Jake installed the car seat.








Our first stop was grandma and grandpa’s house.  Here’s Ben playing on grandpa’s knee!









The day before Thanksgiving we celebrated Candice’s 29th Birthday at Noodles, a very yummy Italian restaurant in Northwest Arkansas.  Even sweet Baby Laci came out to join us for dinner!  At the end of our meal, we surprised Candice with a tasty chocolate cake and ice cream dessert topped with a rather large firecracker thing on top!  It was de-lish and quite sparkly might I add !  Happy Birthday, Candice, we were so excited to celebrate with you!!  Here are some pics from the night (if Ben could have had it his way, we would have loaded up this Christmas tree and taken it home with us…he loved it!):













































My sister, Jill, and her husband, David, hosted Thanksgiving out at their house this year!  They were wonderful hosts and we had such a great day!  Ben even got to sample the mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes!  He loved them both!!






































On Sunday morning we woke up early and little did we know that a BIG surprise was in store for us…a gift from Mother Nature…SNOW!!  Here’s a clip of Ben and Jake trying to catch snowflakes!!

































One evening Ben and I drove down to Greenwood to visit one of my best friends, Sonya, and her girls, Laynee and Raegan.  We met up and had dinner at a great local diner.  The food was yummy, but the company was even better.  Sonya is one of those friends that even though I don’t get to see her too often, when I do we pick up right where we left off.  We had a great time catching up!  We always talk about how much fun it would be to live in the same neighborhood one day so that our kids can grow up together.  I would love that!!  We tried to get a group shot of the three, but it proved to be a little difficult.  Here’s the best pic I got of the three of them together:








We also spent a few days at Opi and Omi’s house.  As you can see, Ben got to sit on the Harley with his Opi…very cool!  We also toured their new home to check out how things are progressing.  The brick on the exterior is completed and the crown molding was finished the day we stopped by to visit.  As you can see from the pics below, the cabinetry is going in now.  The kitchen is awesome!  I am always stunned by how amazing the view is from the back of the house too!  It is looking good and we can’t wait to see it finished!






































Ben and I also joined Candice and Baby Laci at the mall one afternoon to do some Christmas shopping.  It was Laci’s first visit to the mall, but we know it certainly won’t be the last!  By the time we got to the mall, unpacked the babies, strollers, diaper bags and toys out of the car, ate lunch, fed the babies and changed their diapers we had already spent two hours at the mall and had not stepped a foot inside an actual store.  So we finally ventured off to Gymboree and spent about 30 minutes there before it was time to pack it all back up to leave.  Ahh, how life has changed…but I wouldn’t trade it for the world!  Thanks to our friends and family for making our time in Arkansas so wonderful!  We look forward to seeing you all again IN LESS THAN A WEEK for Christmas!!


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Filed under Arkansas, Ben, Birthdays, Family, Food, Friends, Holiday, Travel, Weather

Batten Down The Hatches

Jake and I feel very blessed that during our time here in Florida we have not had to endure a bad hurricane season.  About two months before we moved here in 2005, Hurricane Wilma ripped through Florida causing a ton of damage.  It’s that busy time of year again for storm season and with all of the news about Tropical Storm Fay we thought we better get prepared.  You know the old adage, better safe than sorry.  Ben and I just returned from running some errands.  Who wants to be caught in a hurricane with no face wash!  Eww, the horror!  My pores would certainly not approve.  Not to worry, we are stocked up on things that were recommended for our disaster supplies kit (i.e. bottled water, batteries, groceries and we made sure to fill the car up with gas)!  At least 5 counties in the area have already canceled school for Tuesday and Wednesday.  Since the storms through central Florida are supposed to be most severe on those days I contacted my doctor’s office this afternoon regarding my surgery scheduled for Wednesday.  I was told that for now they will take it one day at a time and will contact me early Wednesday morning if the procedure will be canceled.  The last thing we want to do is drive down I-4 in hurricane force winds…that’s not a fun drive on a sunny day!  Let the rains begin…it just started pouring outside.  If you would like to track the storm for yourself, click here

It’s been a week since I wrote this post and the torrential rains have finally come to an end…at least for now.  We are happy to see sunshine again in the sunshine state.  Below is a video filmed from our back porch during the height of Tropical Storm Fay…Ben’s first tropical storm!!


Filed under Orlando, Weather