I've been running, and I resolved to sign up for a race. I was going to register for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon's 5K. Last weekend, I got a text from a friend who was putting together a relay team for the marathon. Sweet. I'm in!

On Monday,  I was just about finished with my three miles on the treadmill at the Midtown Y, and a sharp pain shoots across my arch. No biggie, it shot across, it didn't stay. It hurt a little, and then my foot popped. Ah, relief. It still felt off, but not sharp and searing, phew.

Well, it has been getting worse as the week has progressed, like I need to see someone about it bad. I'm hoping to get into see my chiropractor friend tomorrow. I played phone tag with her office today, but I'm calling at 9 AM sharp. Like I kinda wanna cry if I've been standing for too long. Oh, and it sort of makes me feel like barfing when it's really bad. It pops in random places, too - and that makes it feel better for a second or two, and then it's back to being all angry and whatnot.

Anyway, it's just a major butt munch. I'm hoping for a super easy fix. 9 weeks until the race. It just figures  that just when I was finding my rhythm in running, like actually enjoying it, I bust myself a apart. I'm not going to tell you how old my running shoes are/were. My reward in a week or so was going to be new shoes - a reward for my commitment to the sport with which I've had a love-hate relationship. Instead, they will be my reward for getting my foot better.

Here's a throw back to my running days in High School. My scanner isn't working, but you won't judge me for not getting up to use it even if it was.

(Freshman Cross-country photo - note the scrunchie on my left wrist.)

(Before a cross-country meet junior year. I got first place this race. It was rad because it was the only meet where boys and girls ran together, rather than having separate races - beating so many boys did my little feminist heart proud. To clarify: the girls and boys were scored separately. I came in first for the girls. I didn't beat all of the boys to the finish, but I did come in before a fair share. )

Personhood Act(s) in Oklahoma

Oklahoma's senate recently passed a Personhood Act (SB1433). It was one of two Personhood Acts on the table here. One hasn't been put up for a vote yet (HJR 1067). There has been some confusion with both being referred to as 'Personhood' (there's actually a third, but it doesn't look like it's going anywhere). They both define life beginning at conception, and both give the unborn child (unborn as defined from conception until birth) all of the rights and privileges of citizens. That's where the bill that was passed stops (SB1433). The other keeps going (HJR 1067).

HJR 1067 prohibits the intentional killing of any innocent person, and person(hood) is defined as starting at conception. This would make abortion illegal except in the case of the mothers life being in danger, though it doesn't cover all areas of this, as it states
"Medical treatment for life-threatening physical conditions intended to preserve life" includes but is not limited to treatment for cancer, ectopic and molar pregnancy, twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, and placenta previa.
If a woman is raped, it will be illegal her to take emergency contraception. If pregnancy results from incest, it is illegal for a woman to obtain an abortion. The resolution states, "No innocent child created through rape or incest shall be killed for the crime of his or her father."

In vitro, if any fertilized eggs are lost in the process, could also be punishable.

The bill that was passed (it must pass the house still) is a danger to women's rights because is paves the way for resolutions and later bills like HJR 1067. If I was ever raped, you had better believe I would want legal access to emergency contraception.

The representative who authored HJR 1067, Mike Reynolds, is one of those ultimate crazy faces, who I cannot believe is writing legislation for our state. He also wrote the bill to reinstate Don't Ask Don't Tell in Oklahoma.

With the prevelence of child abuse, poverty, and the completely overrun DHS system in Oklahoma, yes, making it impossible for a woman to receive an abortion or emergency contraception seems to be the ticket, right? I want to bang my head against the wall after writing that.

I would like someone to author a bill that requires sexual education (with a clause allowing parents to opt out if it is their desire). But for real, I taught high school freshman. I was pregnant with Cora at the time, so kids somehow felt comfortable discussing the birds and the bees with me. You know, but they were safe because they practiced the pull out method, and that's fool proof. [Banging my head.]

When I came back from maternity leave, two of my female students were pregnant. Before I went on ML, one of my female students had a 9 month old baby girl, and one of my male students had become a father at the beginning of the school year. Yes, for every young mother, there is almost always a young father.

May I add, there are four females serving as senators in the state of Oklahoma. Two of those women were for and two against the bill. Not only are women underrepresented in Oklahoma, half of our representation isn't standing up for our rights (SB1433 passed 34,8).

This quote by Hillary Clinton seems fitting:
I have met thousands and thousands of pro-choice men and women. I have never met anyone who is pro-abortion. Being pro-choice is trusting the individual to make the right decision for herself and her family, and not entrusting that decision to anyone wearing the authority of government in any regard.
What's my take? In a perfect world, abortion would only be legal in the case of rape, incest, or the mother's life being in danger. I suppose in a perfect world, we wouldn't have to worry about any of them. In the world we live in, I don't think abortion should be illegal, but I think free sexual education and contraception should abound.

Dream a Little Dream

In a post a few days ago, I said that I read something written by a friend and I really wanted to share it with you. Ryan is the mother of four children, 2 boys, 2 girls, and both of her daughters (Ellie Kate, 6 and Lucy, working on 5 months) have a disease called Non-Ketotic Hyperglycinemia (NKH). From their blog: "NKH is a rare and terrible disease, and is considered terminal. Most children who suffer from this disorder die within the first few months of life. Most suffer from severe brain damage, developmental delays, and a variety of other physical ailments." 
Her girls continue to beat the odds, though not without a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and vigilance. Ryan's faith amazes me. She deals with whatever comes their way with grace, even on her bad days. I grow from the example that she and her family set, and you will soon read why. You can follow them at: It's worth signing up for. Without further ado, here is Dream a Little Dream:
Valentine's Day: We are still exhausted from the thankfully short hospital stay this past weekend. Ellie has had to stay home from school and yesterday I ended up taking her in for blood work at the hospital. Conner had school. Phone calls were made to therapy, school, nurses, pharmacies, etc, etc, etc. I was a busy bee making sure each child had their Valentine's in order for school and that their box was ready. And of course we were watching Lucy's breathing very closely. All just a typical day. I'm sure many of you can relate.
Facing the typical day, I found something not-so typical: a precious Valentine's card. A beautiful card from the man that I love. He knows I love cards - always have. In fact, I keep them and I'm happy to say that I still have some from my childhood. Yesterday, Mike's card brought me to tears and because of it, I was an emotional mess for the rest of the day.
In this sweet card, Mike wrote, "I've never stopped dreaming big dreams for us". WOW. Big dreams sure do get lost in the daily throws of raising kids, don't they? And when so many of your dreams have been dashed, it's hard to even hope; to even dare to still dream. But, my husband does. He still dreams big for me, for him and for our life together.
The way we celebrate holidays does change as we get older, and so does the way that we dream. Reality sets in. We get jaded because of things we do or because of things others do to us. We live in a very broken world, and broken dreams are bound to happen to all of us - big dreams and small dreams.
Yesterday I was reminded that dreams still exist. I should still dream. There is nothing wrong with that and it is good for me to do. And, God changes our dreams. We may not understand why, but it's a good thing and is another way of us dying to ourselves.
As for me and Mike, our dreams have changed, like many of yours. Here's a list of what we used to dream about/for when we first got married:
1. Having Children 
2. Adopting children
3. Pursuing social justice in our community and throughout the world
4. Traveling to fun places each year
5. Building a house
6. Swimming with sharks (this one is Mike's)
7. Swimming with dolphins (this one is mine)
8. Taking art classes
9. Pursuing more public speaking opportunities(this would be me)
10. Taking mission trips as a couple

Now, this would be a list of our dreams:
1. Keeping our children alive and thriving; helping them enjoy life
2. Helping other families who have children with rare or terminal disorders
3. Taking Make-A-Wish trips with each of our girls
4. Building a house which is handicap-accessible for our girls
5. Making sure our boys feel equally important and seeking opportunities to make them feel special
6. One day taking a trip just as a couple
7. Making sure our entire family is one day buried together (plots next to each other)
8. Lavishly loving the physically and mentally "unlovable"

So, you can see our list is shorter. It has changed. There are things on there that I would NEVER, ever have thought would be; things I NEVER, ever thought we would face. They are dreams, but ones that are sober and important. I want to let myself dream FUN dreams again. HAPPY dreams. Carefree dreams. And I don't want to feel guilty about that.
In all of this babble about Valentine's Day, about the sweet card from my Husband, etc, I hope you are encouraged to still dream. No matter what life has brought your way. No matter what God has allowed or caused. No matter what people have done to you or what you have done to yourself . . . you can still dream and hope.
I'm so thankful for my Helpmate that dreams big for us even when I don't have the energy. I'm thankful for the things that God has brought us through and for the ways He has changed our dreams, because truly, TRULY those changes make us more like Him. We may not understand that, but it is true.
Dreaming Some Dreams Today!
I needed this reminder to keep dreaming, and I will try to make a conscious effort to not only let my dreams resurface, but not let them get bogged down in the monotony of life again. Isn't it amazing how quickly some dreams can be forgotten - and how difficult it is to find a way to revive them.

Getting Mail

A few weeks before Cora's birthday, I posted how much Cora LOVES getting mail on facebook, and mentioned her big day coming up if anyone wanted to send her something. We got a great response, and I just wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to send something special our way. Magnolia didn't miss out on the card receiving either. One day we got 13 cards in the mail. Getting 13 cards in the mail is happiness on steroids. We treasure your thoughtfulness.

Thank you:
Gary and Elwyn
Kerry and Becky
Meemaw and Peepaw
Grandpa and Grandma
Gram and Offey
Darrell and Alissa

On my mind

On the day Cora was born, one of my old friends also delivered a baby girl. She was induced on the 14th, but had Haylee on the 15th. I've called them birthday twins. It's been fun watching her grow via her Mom's blog and Facebook. I think about her every year.

This year another of my friends delivered a baby girl on Cora's 4th birthday. Monika and her husband got married just a few weeks after Jake and I. We got engaged weeks a part as well. We spent a fair number of our teenage years together. I love her family. She and her husband Michael had been trying to have kids for most of their marriage (We've both been married for 8 years now, if any one is counting). He's in the army. They spent two years in Korea. During that time, after already struggling for years with infertility, she took charge and decided to make some changes for her health and body. They moved back to the US about a year ago, and are stationed in Kentucky (we're all from Arizona). A few months after being back, they got pregnant! I can't even describe the elation that everyone who knew them felt. It was such a sweet, positive energy.

I loved watching her grow and to read her excitement and see pictures of her shower and baby preparations. I loved that she was experiencing what she had longed for. Before she went into her 38 week appointment, she wondered out loud what almost every expectant mom wants to know, "Am I dilated?" I spent the next few days getting everything ready for Cora's parties. On Friday, I got on facebook and saw a post from Monika on my feed. There was a baby on her profile picture! I didn't even read what she'd written, I was SOOOO EXCITED for this dear friend.

And then I started reading. "We just went to the funeral home to make arrangements." "The service will be in Alpine, AZ on the 25th." "We're 1 cm, I don't know what to say." "No heartbeat."

Jake was in the middle of our conversation, and all I could say was, "No, no, no, no, no...." over and over again, I don't know how many times. At her appointment, they couldn't find little Mihaela Jane's heartbeat. Monika delivered her the next day. Her umbilical cord was wrapped twice around her neck.

My heart has been so heavy since I read the news. There are so many stages where you feel like you are safe in pregnancy. My first pregnancy destroyed one of those "safe harbors" when I miscarried right when I should have been coming out of the first trimester. A woman I know lost her baby at 16 weeks when his umbilical cord became wrapped around his neck, and then lost another baby boy at full term when she had a placental abruption as she was arriving at the hospital to deliver. It was heartbreaking. And terrifying because I was pregnant with Magnolia when she lost her second baby.

And now my sweet Monika. I know how heavy my heart is for her, but I can't imagine it as my reality. It goes without saying that a mother's worst fear is losing a child. I haven't been able to stop looking at her perfect little daughter. I haven't been able to stop thinking about her. I can't help but think of words like "unfair" and "why," even though I know there are no answers. Unfair to lose a perfect little baby that she'd waited so long for, to come home to a place full of pink and bows and a rocking chair her husband had redone for her, that her milk will come in, that her tummy will be so after-baby soft.  I've been praying for her and her family often. I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about her. I feel so sorry for her. Sorry is too minuscule a description.

I don't want her to be without hope, but I know hope will be hard to come by. I'm so glad she has her family and her faith. Her entire pregnancy filled me with such hope and excitement, such relentless joy. I am grateful for that. I know this will be the most difficult experience of their lives, and I suppose the most heartbreaking thing is that there isn't anything anyone can do to make it better.

Every year, as I celebrate Cora's birthday, I will think about her birthday twin Haylee, and love seeing the similarities between them, and about what a special thing it is that they and her mom and I share. I will also think about a little baby girl named Mihaela Jane Lowery, whose very existence filled so many with hope and love. I will think about her mother, and my heart will be overflowing for both of them.

Each life is a miracle. God is miraculous. I'm working on stretching my faith to be okay with the incomprehensible.

Cora is 4

My little Lovey Dovey is 4. Wow. It takes my breath away, and more than just the number. She is growing up to be the sweetest of sweets. She's a peacemaker, always assuring people that they can both be right. People can like whatever they want, and pick their own favorite things to do, and it's all okay because we're all different. I'm astounded at the things that she says. I'm in awe of her love for people. And her kindness.

Even though there is a whole heap of bittersweet in seeing how quickly my children grow up, it is immensely rewarding. Seeing the people they are growing into is the most rewarding thing in my life. Cora's favorites:
- Eating at restaurants (she is so my daughter).
- Making things, anything. Give her anything, she'll make something out of it.
- Netflix. For real, this girl could spend all day watching Dora, Diego, Inspector Gadget, and Busytown Mysteries.
- Singing her original songs as she's making them up.
- Dancing
- Playing games she makes up. Role playing.
- Staci Car (see previous post) and Dot Spot.
- School
- Bear
- Pancakes
- Her family

Yesterday was her party at school. We all went to school for her celebration with rainbow fruit skewers as a snack. It was fun. She served all the members of her class. She was so excited to have us there. Magnolia loved seeing school, and everyone loved seeing her. Ashleigh and Andrew came over for a birthday dinner. We had enchiladas and chocolate cake.

Today was her birthday party. I planned it for after school. It turned out really well. We had fruit and vegetables, chips and salsa, pickles, olives, and cupcakes. The kids all picnicked on the dining room floor on our picnic blanket. And in this modern age, I show how out of place I am as I didn't take any pictures! None. I know. I can't believe it either. We have a video from her birthday dinner.

Let me paint a picture: Pink and green paper lanterns are hanging from the ceiling in the living room. Our dining table is against our dining room windows. Atop it are the veggies on a yellow (sunflower) Fiesta platter, and the fruit is on a turquoise platter. In the middle of the table is our tangerine pizza plate with our glass cake stand on top. On top of the cake stand is an inverted turquoise chili bowl with a cupcake with the highest white frosting and topped with four pink candles. Two dozen vanilla cupcakes fill the tiers below. Chips, salsa, pickle and olives make up the right side of the table. Above the table are three quilted paper sphere.

Our picnic blanket it on the floor piled high with friends and friends' siblings. Cora was in the middle in a grey dress with a tulle skirt, black leggings and pig tails. Parents are all around visiting and having fun, too. There are a few spilled drinks, definitely sprinkles on the floor as each guest was able to decorate their own cupcake. Her room was intermittently filled with girls playing dollhouse, spinning in a blue egg chair, reading books, cooking in the kitchen, and enjoying each other. Her guests:


With parents and siblings, we were rocking a total of 21 guests. It was a lovely party. I can't wait for next year. While cleaning up, Jake said, can you imagine doing this twice a year? Magnolia probably won't have a friend party until she's 3. It was so fun to see Cora having so much fun, and it was rewarding knowing that everyone else enjoyed themselves as well. Now we get to look forward to her family party on Sunday. That's always a good time. I love Jake's family. I like birthday weeks.

PS: I read the most amazing post on a protected blog this evening. It was the insta-tears kind - about dreams. I'm hoping to get the author's permission to share it with you.

All over

It's approximately seven minutes into Lyric Theatre's last performance of Xanadu, which means I'm approximately one hour and fifty-three minutes away from seeing Jake walk through the door for the last time on his way home from this evening performance. Weird. He's been gone until 10 PM each night for the last three weeks.

Thanks to Andrew and Ashleigh, I was able to go see the show last night. It was really fun, with the exception of one grating thing that I will keep to myself. It didn't affect the quality of the show, just awakened an annoyance I wasn't aware I had. Anyway, there was a "pull my finger" scene. Flatulence is still SO funny to me. 30 seconds of fart. Yes, it was that kind of show.

Perhaps in honor of this being his last day, we went out on a limb...

...and bought a new car.


It wasn't much of a limb, I'd been researching cars for a while. I mean, I'm always looking at cars because I love cars, but actually looking with the intent of purchasing something. We went in with confidence. We had numbers in our mind. We got a great deal, and this will now reside in our garage:

Say hello to our new Subaru Outback. 

We're still working on a name, but I'm almost certain it is a he. Cora fell a part not once, but twice at the dealership when she realized we weren't coming home with our beloved Staci car. Staci was a major life saver. We got her two weeks before we moved to Chicago because the transmission went out on Lucy, our car that was paid for, that we kept over our car that wasn't paid for to take to Chicago where we wouldn't be driving much - only to have to buy one anyway. I digress. 

Staci was perfect for us, but she was getting old, and in need of some major repairs. The list was long, but on top of it, I was pretty sure I could feel the transmission slipping every now and again, but definitely growing in frequency. Since we only have one car, we need something dependable. We have every intention of driving our new car until hundreds of thousands of miles have rolled over on the odometer, which was part of the reason why we chose the vehicle we did. I'd seriously been looking for months. I'm basically an expert on the Outback. 

Fabulous surprises: 
- It's so tall! I don't have to bend over to get my girls in and out of their car seats. The back door openings are just a little taller than me, so I don't even have to slouch. Who isn't going to hit their head anymore? ME! 
- Bluetooth. Like, what in the world? They didn't have the base-i-est base model, so we "leveled up" and got some fun features for below MSRP, well below, like what we still owed on Staci after the trade rolled into the price below. Anyway, that means we now roll with Bluetooth, the thing we were like, "Eh? We don't know if we'll use that?" I can't wait to call everyone! Give me your number so I can talk to my car and it will call you.

Last but not least, a note:

Dear Staci Car,

You survived the streets of Chicago almost unscathed. I'm sure you remember being rear ended on Fullerton in Lincoln Park when Jake was one his way to DePaul. You showed that other car what was what when the only marks on you were two screw holes from his front license plate. And then there was the time where we think a cyclist ran into you because there was a big rubber streak down the driver's side, and your side mirror was bent back and had three cracks in it. I don't think it could have been a car because I'm sure your mirror would have been a goner, but we just popped it back into place. Oh, and then when your passenger window was shattered when someone broke into you. But remember how you got to bring Magnolia home from the hospital on Lake Shore Drive after she was born? And carry our girls to and fro? And a little girl loved you more than almost any car has ever been loved. We needed you, and I knew the second I laid eyes on you in that car lot on a warm summer evening in the summer of 2009, that you were going to come home with us. You had my first moonroof, and it, in addition to the rest of you, will be missed. Thank you.



. . . you just need a mountain to climb.


Tonight I started making decorations for Cora's birthday party next week. I think I may have developed carpal tunnel syndrome from my first go around. I made four patchwork ornaments. You can go ahead and call me Martha... ;)

No really, it was a Martha Stewart craft kit. The JoAnn's on NW Expressway was moving and everything was 75% off. I'd seen something similar on pinterest, and when I saw the kit, shoot, I took it.

Number Crunching

I finished our taxes tonight. I also started working on all of the re-enrollment paper work for Cora's school. One of the sections asks about parent finances. A specific question about outstanding debts other than car payments and mortgages made me start crunching numbers. The only debt we have in this category is our student loans. Here's a breakdown.

1/5 of our yearly gross income goes towards student loans. 20%

I was like, uh, what? I mean, I know how much we took out, and I know how much our monthly payments are, but seeing the amount we spent yearly. Whew! I don't even feel like calculating what percentage of our net income goes toward the loans. I think I might cry.

I thought it was slightly comical that we only pay $800 more per year for our house than we do for our student loans. That's right. Only $800 more for a year's worth of mortgage payments (PITI), than for a year's worth of student loan payments.

I started listing out other sources and percentages of where our income goes, then I decided to make a pie chart because who doesn't love one of those?

The little 2% sliver includes gas and utilities, and other fun stuff like that. I can't even comprehend what it would be like to not have that big ol' green chunk of the pie going toward student loans. I do know I'll be taking some trip somewhere. I'm feeling the Camino de Santiago.

Queen of Sheeba

Tonight my little family ventured out to a restaurant called Queen of Sheeba to experience our first Ethiopian meal. We ordered the Vegetarian Combination which had a little bit of everything including misser wat, and kik alicha. It was really delicious.

While I knew there were no utensils to eat with going into it, I was completely surprised by the flat bread that is used in its place. It's called injera, and while my taste buds are rarely caught off guard, this threw them for a loop.

It's kind of spongy, a little sticky (perfect for picking up food with), and the flatbread version of sour dough (the shocking part). Our food was served on a full injera, and then we had individual rolls and would tear off just enough to scoop whatever we wanted. We were also given warm clothes before our food to wipe our fingers as we went.

Oh! And we had sambusa as an appetizer. It was so good.

My favorite things about this dining experience (besides the food):

1. Sharing from the same plate with everyone present. 
2. Eating with my hands.

Dreaming up Rooms

I've been working on several projects for my girls' room. I've left it largely untouched since we moved in. It's time. And it's still in transition as Magnolia will not be in her crib forever. Cora is determined that she will have bunk beds. Who can blame her? I wanted bunk beds so bad when I was a kid, and I didn't even share a room. It's made me have to rethink my plan a little.

 (Cora's first room and the turquoise dressers I fell in-love with)

Anyway, I recently did something I never thought I'd do. We sold the French style dressers we got when Cora was born. I was in-love with them. We were at the "Pickin' Place" in Holdenville when I saw an amazing mid-century dresser. Like wow amazing. And I liked the idea of having one dresser instead of two in terms of just having less pieces. It's great. And I won't tell you what we found in it when I was cleaning it out. I do sometimes with we would have saved the long dresser and mirror that were part of our bedroom set because my heart does have an affinity for French Provincial lines.
 (Cora in our room in Chicago in-front of the dresser we sold when we moved into Dot)

When I started thinking about what to do in their room, I wasn't happy with most of the kid room pictures I was finding. Most are pink and green and white all over. And they're cute, but just not what I was looking for. I started looking at nurseries because I was finding so many unique ones. It's easy to use design elements and swap out a crib for a bed. Then thanks to the amazing-ness that we all now know at Pinterest, I came across the best site ever. Lay Baby Lay. I became OBSESSED with Vivi Charles's nursery. She is the baby of the site's creator. It is perfect.

 (Vivi's Nursery)

 I love every single part of it, but I will make modifications, of course. But look at that grey dresser just like our old one! The one thing I haven't been able to find anywhere are wings that look like the ones above her crib. My girls' room need those. Be on the lookout, Everyone! The other incredible thing is that Joni (Vivi's mom) links all of the elements of her style boards so they're easily accessible (except for the wings, of course, which she found at an antique store). I can't wait to put together a photo collage of family above the dresser. Joni captured what I want for my girls perfectly with this, "Joni knew she wanted her baby's room to be bright and imaginative without being juvenile; polished but with a vintage-glamour sort of look."

The following are style boards that I'm also using as inspiration

(I love the pops of color)

(Their room also really needs this whale above the play kitchen, even though I think a flamingo would be awesome, too. Not that a whale doesn't scream vintage glamor.)


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