Hipster Bike in OKC

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Another “not taken on this day” confession. For some reason I didn’t take any photos of our time at the Spring Bling, but I’m hoping to snag a few that others took and post them as soon as I can. As it is, this is one of my first attempts at taking pictures on manual instead of auto. I’m thinking about banning myself from auto for a whole month and seeing if that forces me into REALLY learning everything about my camera…

The Sweetery Eatery in Oklahoma City

Sweetery Eatery
In my desperate attempt to figure out something to do for Teacher Appreciation Week on Monday for our North Campus teachers, I suddenly remembered that I’d been meaning to check out The Sweetery Eatery which is all of a mile from my house.

It’s a pretty new local establishment and I’m happy they are close by!

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Happier still that only 6 of the cupcakes got eaten at the school (it’s a small staff) and that Craig brought the rest home for the 6 of us after dinner. *grin*

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Congrats to you, Sweetery Eatery! I wish you great success as you continue to grow your business here in NW OKC.

Contentment in the Critique

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A couple of weeks ago we went out to dinner at the fine establishment you see in the photo above. Fun for the whole family, right? Are you thinking, “What were they thinking?” Because…we were thinking that when we finally found it. Let me back up a bit.

Group discount deals are all the norm anymore and I get so many in my inbox I now I usually ignore them all. But this was one I actually opened, clicked the links, and thought, “Hmm, sounds like it might be a good deal.” I bought the Groupon (or whichever other site it came from). It was to Thunder Alley in central Oklahoma City. On the night in question we had our fourth preview service for City Pres that night and I thought it would be fun to go out for dinner afterwards. I printed this deal out and we made our way…straight to a Hooters restaurant in central Oklahoma City.

Again, say it with me, “What were they thinking?” We drove all around where the GPS said the address led us to and it had led us straight to a Hooters restaurant. I don’t know if you know me well or not, but there’s no way on the planet I will ever intentionally set foot in that place, let alone take my husband and kids into it. Confused and getting more frustrated by the minute, we finally pulled over at the gas station right next to it. Craig went in to see if they knew where Thunder Alley was. They pointed to the building just behind them and said, “It’s on the other side of that fitness place.” Okay. We drove around and we saw what you see in the photo above – a skanky-looking alley with a garage door outlined in trashy blue Christmas lights. We half-expected to have to tap a code on the door and give the secret message before being admitted.

In truth, Craig popped his head in first to see if it was appropriate for us to bring our kids into or not. He came out and said, “Come on in.”

I wish I’d taken a photo of the inside for you, not because it was so so so so much more aesthetically amazing than the outside was, but because it WAS a serious improvement over their first impression. It was almost completely empty the night we went and the guy who was bussing tables was also the host. He was also our waiter. He was also our chef. He was a one-man show that night.

And the food? It was seriously amazing. I’m not sure how he pulled that off, working completely alone the way he was, but he did it and all six of us left that night wondering just what it was that we had experienced there. It was weird, you know? The senses, they did not match up, but the overall experience was a good one.

I’m trying to figure out where I’m going with this story because in some weird way I think I am the story.

I feel like I’m the living embodiment of 38 years’ worth of underdeveloped potential. I think on occasion I have the capacity and ability to pull off something pretty amazing, but I think when it does happen most people are thinking, “What? How?” Because most of the time I give off the outside of Thunder Alley impression. I feel like most of what I do is sit in my car staring at the trashy blue lights outlining the garage door of my future, afraid to walk through it to see if there’s anything worth experiencing on the other side.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s just safer for people to assume I am the trashy blue lights and drive away.

Compare, compare, compare. It’s pretty much what I do best and I’ve been doing it really well ever since middle school. I compare myself to others, I get discouraged by what I see as all my shortcomings, I decide to stop trying. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I think I’ve talked myself into somehow being okay with this warped worldview for living, but I’m now seeing the same pattern in my teen/pre-teen kids and it kills me to know they are heading down that same path.

I can tell them they are beautiful because I think they are. I can tell them they are intelligent because I think they are. I can tell them that their lives have meaning and value because I truly believe they do. But if they don’t believe it for themselves, my words don’t hold much weight.

I know. Because it’s the world I inhabit every single day.

I’m not writing this post for the purpose of hoping a bunch of people come back here to debunk everything I’ve said. I’m not writing it in an attempt to resolve to do better this year. I’m writing it simply because I think I finally need to put words to these feelings that have pressurized inside me for over twenty-eight years.

Maybe this is the year I find contentment in the critique.

Nancy Wilson posted a piece today on New Year Contentment. She says, “Contentment doesn’t change our circumstances, but it does change our hearts, which makes all our circumstances more comfortable. Our contentment does not lie in our circumstances, for if it did, we would only be able to be content when everything is going exactly as we like, which isn’t very often. Contentment is found in Christ, who will never leave us or forsake us. Contentment is found in submitting to God’s purposes and plans in our lives, even (or especially) when we don’t understand. Contentment is a way of exercising our faith.”

There’s more and it’s all worth reading, so scoot on over there and be encouraged (or challenged).

Compare or be content. Compare or be content. Compare or be content.

Be content.

I hope.

I Heart the Fair!


I was a freshman at Oklahoma State University before I realized that the official state fair of Oklahoma wasn’t really in Tulsa, but was, in fact, in Oklahoma City. My confusion should be understandable. There is a fair every fall in Tulsa called the Tulsa State Fair. I had no idea there was ANOTHER state fair. I mean, why? Why two state fairs? I still don’t know. I do know this: I hadn’t been to a state fair since college, much less the actual Oklahoma State Fair, and I really wanted to go.

I found out that this coming Monday, kids through grade 12 get free admission to the fair, so I had been telling my girls for several days if they could get all of their work for Tuesday done over the weekend, we would take Monday off and go to the fair. They were pumped.

Last night I got a phone call reminding me of an orthodontist appointment we have scheduled for Monday. In Norman. It’s an appointment I scheduled back in July and it is nearly impossible to reschedule. I knew we had to keep it. Going to the fair on Monday was not going to work.

The girls were disappointed and, honestly, I was too. Then Craig and I conferred and decided we could use one of my writing payments from September and take the girls today. They were pumped. So was I.

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I mean, it’s not every day you get to marvel at the likes of Deep Fried Macaroni and Cheese, Deep Fried Mashed Potatoes on a Stick, or Chocolate Covered Corndogs. You name it, they had strung it on a stick, dipped it in batter, and fried it golden crisp. I love going to fairs just for the sake of marveling at the lows we are collectively willing to sink to all in the name of fall fun. Yes, I just lumped myself in with the entire fair demographic. We got one of these:

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It’s our annual shared funnel cake. Woe to the funnel cake stand in which their funnel cake maker was not working. We had to leave them and go to another stand. My kids began squabbling about who got to hold the plate and who was picking off more than someone else and I looked them all squarely in the eyes and told them if I heard another word about it I would eat the entire thing all by myself while they watched. The squabbling stopped.

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We were all surprised to see the St. Louis Arch right there at the State Fair Park. Who knew? It appeared a bit smaller than usual, but it was looking pretty good. There were a bunch of little arches nearby too. I’m still really curious to know what that was all about, but we didn’t take the time to try to figure it out while we were there. We had things to do, places to go, grease to consume. We were off.

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This funny little western show was one of our first experiences. It was a nice way to begin our time at the fair, if not altogether silly. But this is the fair. Silliness is a virtue here, right?

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We saw all the arts and crafts exhibitions and I was taken back to my youth when I’d see all the local kids’ 4-H entries and wish with all my heart I could be in 4-H too. I wanted to bake cookies and get a prize for it. I wanted to submit my own sewing projects and get affirmation that comes by way of a shiny blue ribbon. I just KNEW I could do it.

My kids had that same twinge today when they saw all the interesting and unique things that kids their age had turned in. They wondered how they, too, could participate next year. It’s been some 27 years since I first asked that question and I still don’t know the answer to it.

In other news, isn’t that Oklahoma cake awesome? There were several great cakes on display as well as other baked yumminess. And irony walked by in the form of a 15-year-old girl who sneared at the cases of cookies and fudge as she said, “THAT looks unhealthy.” She then took a big slug of her 32oz Big Gulp of red stickiness. Indeed, sullen teen, indeed.

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There is just something about the fair that makes it okay to yearn for the 1960s. Nobody expects the fair to change from year to year. Walking in today, in 2011, was really no different than the 1994 version I last experienced. And I liked it that way. The buildings just make me want to set up a Brady Bunch house in the parking lot and stuff it with canned goods. Maybe I need help.

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This sign? I sigh with content. I just love it. And I don’t really even know much about The Oklahoman other than that I clip coupons from it on Sunday afternoons, but this sign right there makes me want to be a staff writer. Please, Oklahoman, please?

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There was no way I was going to purchase unlimited ride wristbands for the five of us, so I bought enough tickets for all of us to ride one thing. Maddie and Chloe chose the favorite from my own childhood: The Himalaya. I looked at them wistfully as they stepped in line and then I hopped on the Sky Ride with Katie and Millie. I’m not kidding myself. The Himalaya would have made me violently dizzy and possibly incapable of driving home afterwards. The Sky Ride was PERFECT for feeling like you’ve experienced most of the fair even though you really hung out mostly on one side. It was a little disappointing, though, when we were halfway around and they made us get off. Nobody bothered to tell us our tickets were only good for half of the ride. Boo, Sky Ride, boo!

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The set of tickets I had purchased left us with 8 after the five us of made our selections, so I quickly ran and got 4 more, so the three of us could ride the Sky Ride back down to where the other girls were waiting. Did you follow all the numbers there? Never mind. We still enjoyed the ride even if they did rip us off even more than expected.

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Just as the fun threshold was just about to be reached, we walked into one last building. I really wanted to see the piglets that were born this week. We never saw those, but we did happen upon a really awesome hands-on agricultural display and we ended up staying there for about an hour. We saw baby chicks hatching and butterflies emerging from their cocoons.

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We did see these two little guys who had been heartlessly named Bacon and Sausage. Oink, sniff, oink. (Note: We do love both bacon AND sausage around here, but don’t really care to think about what they looked like when they still had legs.) Moving on then.

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This entire section was a highlight of our fair experience for sure.

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In lieu of $8 corndogs for dinner (each, yes, each), I told the girls we’d just go to Chick-Fil-A on our way home. They all agreed that would be a better deal and were happy to wait. While there, the guy taking our order asked us what we liked best about the fair. I said I really liked the kids’ agriculture exhibit the best and laughed when my girls said they all liked the ride they picked the best. I get that. I’m cool with that.

But I have a few more things I really liked too. I’m a sucker for the exhibit buildings. I know it’s like walking past one commercial after another, but I would have kept doing it if they hadn’t been so stinking crowded and my kids weren’t visibly tired. They did not want to see the knives demo or get another sample of sour candy. They wanted out of there. I obliged. But if I could go again all by myself, I’d definitely hang out in the buildings.

I also liked the funnel cake. A lot. And, no, I don’t think I would have REALLY eaten the entire thing by myself had my kids not stopped squabbling. At least I like to think I wouldn’t have. Sheesh.

But I really did like that kids’ agriculture building a lot too.

All in all, it was a super fun day and we were all glad we went. And I’m making a mental note to myself for next year: No orthodontist appointments on kids’ free admission day.

I remember.

The anniversary of 9/11 probably doesn’t knock the wind out of me like it does for many of you. I don’t know a single person who died that day. I don’t even think I know someone who was devastatingly impacted by what happened that day. If I do, they’ve never mentioned it and that’s a sad story too.

I think if I were to go see the site where it happened, it might knock some sense in me even now. I only say this because I also remember what happened right here in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. On the morning of the Oklahoma City bombing I was having breakfast with my dad at a mom-and-pop diner in Owasso. That was a Wednesday and even now I don’t know what I was doing home that day. It was the middle of the week and I’m guessing I was normally in class at OSU, but for some reason I was home and my dad wasn’t at work and we were having biscuits and gravy and watching Oklahoma fall apart on a grungy small screen with foil-wrapped bunny ears.

I remember both of us not talking that much.

In the days after that I absorbed that news like much of the state, only I didn’t know anyone who died, nor did I know anyone who knew anyone. I got several calls from friends wondering about me and people I know. I was thankful for the concern, but almost felt guilty that my personal life was not impacted by the tragedy.

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Earlier this summer I went to the Oklahoma Bombing Memorial for the first time and I remembered with pain in my heart, mind, and eyes. I remembered.

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I taught my children to remember too.

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The morning of September 11, 2001 was like most of the other mornings of my life with a 2yo, 1yo, and pregnant with a third existence. Most of my mornings from that period of life are a complete blur. I don’t remember right now even why I had our own grungy small screen with foil-wrapped bunny ears television set on. Chances are good I was hunting for Sesame Street. Or maybe Craig called and told me to turn it on. I don’t know. But I did turn it on, and I saw what the rest of you saw and was numb like many of you probably were. And irrationally afraid that maybe NORAD would be a target and darn it if we didn’t live really, really close to Cheyenne Mountain.

I remember watching all day and only being able to think about it because I was alone with my 2yo and 1yo. I remember driving around town by myself after dinner in a complete daze because I needed to get out of the house, get away from the TV, get away from my own reality. I ended up at a large church with a full parking lot. I thought maybe I’d hear something that made that day make sense. I ended up walking in as it was pretty much over and so I found a corner, I knelt, I cried, I prayed.

I drove back home and life went on. Ten years’ worth of life, in fact.

Because I didn’t know anyone involved and because I am physically distant from the location of the devastation, I’ve also become emotionally distant. I don’t know that that’s wrong, but once again, I’m feeling just a bit guilty that my personal life was not impacted by the tragedy.

I don’t want to be paralyzed by a grief that on a personal level isn’t mine to own, but I don’t want to be numb to a grief that is America’s to bear together as a nation.

And so I take this moment in time to pause. To pray. To remember. Life will continue to go on, it always does.

But for now, I remember.

Oklahoma City Septemberfest

OKC Governor's Mansion

Earlier today I called out to the girls, “Hey, you want to do something fun? Get dressed! We’re leaving in ten minutes!”

Basically, there’s this annual tradition of being able to tour the Governor’s Mansion that has morphed into a big ginormous party. There were tons of things to do and, in fact, I just realized we didn’t even know about all the stuff INDOORS inside the Oklahoma History Center. Ah, well, there’s always next year.

In truth, we were there almost four hours and I can tell you, we were ready to leave when we left. But it was awesome and I’m glad we went.

There’s no way I can post all the photos I took or even give a list of everything we did (or wanted to do but didn’t), but I can give you a sampling. One important note is that it was all free! Normally those types of events seem to have a section of cool stuff that you have to pay for. All the cool stuff here was also free. But what that meant was…LINES! Not unexpected, I know, but something to be aware of on the front end.

The first booth we stopped at was the OKC Zoo booth. They had a nice display of information, crafts, and hands-on learning.

OKC Zoo Exhibit
Here are some of my kids making bracelets and bookmarks at either the Red Earth  Museum & Gallery or the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art booth (I can’t remember which one this is!):

Museum Fun
And then here we are, standing in line to go inside the Oklahoma Governor’s Mansion. Don’t we all look so thrilled to be standing there?

Governor's Mansion
And then imagine our surprise when the governor herself, Mary Fallin, walked by right in front of us. Imagine even MORE surprise when all of my girls went, “Who? The governor is a woman?” Guess who forgot to tell her children who the governor of Oklahoma is before we toured her house? Yes. Political mom fail. We can talk more about that later. Ahem. Moving on then. A photo:

Governor Mary Fallin
And one of the many line-infested inflatables/bungie jump swing things:

Swinging Fun
It was here where we turned into raging monsters got a tad cranky. The line was long, it was right around lunch time, it was super hot. And then, after waiting in the line for FOREVER, a kid from the back cut the line right in front of us. My girls were not happy about it. I told them that some things you just had to live with. And then the punk boy called over to his sister to join him in his newly buffeted position in line. It was at this moment I calmly said to him, “Hey. You know, we know you were behind us and now you are in front of us. Not much we can do about that at this point. But I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t invite a big group of your friends over here to join you now that you’ve done it.”

Yep. Mama needed a time out too. Moving on then.

So there was a pretty awesome agricultural display. This fella in the picture with E7 gives a literal meaning to the term HOLY COW!

Ginormous Cow
And then we hit the historical section. I was fascinated to learn of this whole group of people who do something referred to seemingly officially as “Rendezvous and Muzzle Loading” (that link was the closest I could find to what I think he was talking about). In short, they do the period-costume and camping thing and they do it regularly, with their whole families. Interesting, for sure.

Here are my girls playing with some replica land-run era toys along with this little cutie who went on her first Rendezvous when she was just two weeks old!

Historical Toys
And on our way out we had to get a picture of K9 in front of her military vehicle namesake:

Military Vehicle
And one more – though I snapped this photo on our way in, it didn’t occur to me how funny it looks until on our way out. I think it’s hilarious that this giant state capitol sign is positioned where it is. I guess it’s for those of us who don’t, in fact, realize that they are standing right in front of said state capitol. Guess you just can’t assume anything here in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma State Capitol
So there you have it. The Half-Pint House experienced Septemberfest today and overall we give it 10 thumbs up! I can see us doing this again next year for sure.

Explore Oklahoma

I’d love to do more exploring of where we live now. As it is, and this sounds like a complaint, but it’s been too dang hot to do much other than just be in the house. And as our latest electric bill can attest, we’ve been in our house an awful lot lately. Ouchie.

My parents came over last week for a couple of days. On their last day we went to Pops Soda Shop. It was fun in an over-priced, touristy Route 66 kind of way.

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Actually, their wall-o-color coded soda bottles was totally awesome and it spurred a fairly detailed, purely speculative conversation between us on what happens when a tornado comes through the area. I don’t think I’d want to be in Pops when that happens.

They have this giant soda bottle out front that apparently is lit up at night, but we saw it at the peak of its 107 degree glory:

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My girls obliged by standing in front of it, but they were happy to get out of the direct sun again immediately after.

Our summers in the past have been marked by chronic pool overdose. I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve been swimming this summer. That makes me sort of sad. The pool in our neighborhood is one step above pathetic. It stayed open for 5 weeks between 1-6 on Monday-Friday only. There isn’t an ounce of shade or a single chair, so you can imagine how hot the concrete is around it. Sometimes they only had one lifeguard show up so they would close half the pool. They didn’t require adults to be present, so it was overloaded with unsupervised kids. Good times, good times.

I’m tempted to find a clearance sale on a decent above ground pool option for next summer. If you hear of any good deals be sure to let me know. I have just the shaded spot for it.

Anyway, all that to say this: I’m sure Oklahoma has a lot of awesome things for us to discover and we will, just as soon as the heat lifts a bit and being outside isn’t the survival chore it is right now.

Maybe sometime in November.

Closet Heaven

Craig just posted pics of the five houses we put on the list of consideration this week in Oklahoma City. My vote really is for the last one because it’s Closet Heaven.

Small and few closets have always been my housing lot in life and, in addition to having a bedroom for every girl, there are closets ALL OVER THE HOUSE. I’m in love.

Anyway, check out our Oklahoma City housing options and cast your own vote.

Oklahoma

Discoveryland USA

We’ve been in Oklahoma since Tuesday and will be returning home tomorrow. It’s been a good week. We’ve done more than our fair share of staying up too late (4 little girls x 3 nights x 12 a.m. bedtimes = really good times around here). As a result, we’ve also done more than our fair share of sleeping in in the morning (Maddie and Chloe have never slept until 9am before, but have now officially done it twice…in a row).

Oklahoma!

We’ve rested a lot, eaten yummy food, seen a fireworks show on Tuesday, went to see Oklahoma! at Discoveryland on Wednesday, gone swimming at the Owasso YMCA on Thursday, and have plans to see Ratatouille today. And that should just about do it for us, I think.
Hope you all are having an enjoyable, yet restful week as well!

OOOOOOOOOO-klahoma

The girls and I are heading to my parents’ tomorrow for a weekend visit and leaving Craig home alone to catch up on stuff and study for a super important test on Monday. He just asked me if I was going to see any blog friends while home and I said, “Yeah, maybe.” He asked, “Who?” and I said, “Chilihead.”

There was a two-second pause before we both busted up laughing because really, now, doesn’t that just sound hysterical?

In other news, 1986 called and wants its hair back, so I have plans to get something totally different done on Friday morning. My parents want to celebrate my birthday on Friday night even though it’ll be 16 days early, so if Chilihead and I are able to get together it will be sometime between the salon and the cake-eating (and really, Chili – if you’ve got too much on your plate that day, I completely understand!).

We may go to the zoo on Saturday with our reciprocal zoo membership discount, but that will be dependent on the weather and whatever other plans we may or may not come up with.
On our way down south tomorrow I have plans to stop off in Mansfield, MO to see the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum. I figured that I’d never specifically drive three hours to get there from here, but I’ll go a total of one hour out of my way to see it. The Half Pints will really enjoy that.

I know I should be sleeping considering I’m the sole driver tomorrow and will not be able to crash in the car as is my usual custom. My problem is that about an hour ago I discovered that Maddie has no clean pants for me to pack for her and so I’m waiting for our stackable washer/dryer unit to act like a professional grade washer/dryer unit and speed through these clothes so I can finish packing and get some sleep.

See y’all later.