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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Photos taken by Janie Jones Photography
This was the 1st year in MANY that I didn't include a letter with our Christmas card. I decided one less thing "to do" wasn't such a bad thing but the truth is that it bothers me. How do you summarize a year in a few short paragraphs? I envy those who do it so effortlessly.

I read a lengthy blog post about writing a Christmas letter that people would read. In it she stated writing a letter is like "an annual missive in which we attempt to captivate readers with tales from our past" to which I chuckled then shook my head in agreement. I digress and present to you the Christmas letter that didn't exist until just now.

Gabrielle is in the 3rd grade and adores her teacher, Mrs. Lindsey, like no other. She continues to excel in academics and was fortunate enough to participate in the school spelling bee earlier this month. She is in her 3rd year of Awana with her 1st year in the Truth & Training program.  Gabrielle participated in Girls on the Run - a 10 week program with a season ending 5K race held at Arrowhead Stadium. Her biggest accomplishment was memorizing chapter 12 of Romans this summer earning a fun day trip to Worlds of Fun through our church!

Dawson turned six in September and attends 1/2 day Kindergarten. I think perhaps he enjoys the social aspect of school as much if not more than the educational component. We signed him up for Sporting Tykes Soccer and Tee Ball this summer through the YMCA. We quickly learned his skill level was exceptional for his 1st experience in playing either sport. We're excited to see how he will do in a more competitive setting in the coming year. Dawson is also in his 3rd year of Awana with his 1st year in the Sparks program. He has just completed memorizing the books of the new testament.

McKenna Jane will turn three in early January.  She displays an exorbitant amount of curiosity and energy at this age. She knows no stranger and has many "best friends." She loves playing independently but thrives on play time with just about anyone including her siblings. She can often be found in mischief but brings us each a smile and such delight! Some of her current favs are earning (or stealing which happens all too frequently) a piece of candy, watching cartoons, playing on the iPad and going to Mema's.

Travis resigned from his position as department manager at Lowes in February accepting a job with SAFC BioSciences in Lenexa as a facility maintenance technician. He has enjoyed his new role and is embracing the learning curve. A setback came in the form of a work related injury in early July. Travis endured a trimalleolar fracture of his right ankle which required surgery, physical therapy and a 9 week absence from work. The x-ray taken at his follow up visit in mid November answered our question as to why he was experiencing persistent discomfort and pain showing a break in the hardware in his inner ankle. He had a 2nd surgery on December 12th to remove the hardware and is now recovering. This injury prevented him from spending much time on the golf course. We are hopeful he can make up for lost time in the Spring/Summer of 2014.

I maintain the role of CEO of our home keeping things running as smoothly as possible all while juggling carpool, diaper changing, endless laundry, homework, Awana, Bible study and part-time childcare provider to the Rigdon children. I was honored to help as an assistant coach to a team of amazing 3rd - 5th grade girls with the Girls on the Run program through Meadow Lane this Fall. I continue to read, blog, blog stalk and work on the never ending task of organizing our home in my spare time.

Our family enjoyed time in Iowa this summer celebrating my (Christine's) 20th class year reunion and my hometown's Quasquicentennial celebration; time fishing and boating at Lake Latowana; swimming; several visits to the Kansas City zoo; a day at Great Wolf Lodge; and travels to Birmingham, AL over Thanksgiving.

2013 brought about changes, obstacles and challenges but also growth and blessings for our family.
We stand firm in knowing 2014 will be even better!
The Hicks

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Holiday Express Train @ Union Station

My friend Monika gifted us reserve tickets to visit the Holiday Express Train at Union Station Friday afternoon the 20th. The train is led by KCS Southern Belle and includes the tank car Rudy, a flatcar carrying Santa's sleigh, reindeer and a miniature village, a gingerbread boxcar, the elves workshop, the reindeer stable and a little red caboose.
Union Station does not disappoint in its splendor at the Christmas season. I wished I had taken my DSLR to take some photos.
Awaiting to board
Aunt Shari took this family picture with her phone after we exited the Holiday Express Train. It was frigid outside so we made a mad dash back indoors as quickly as we could! If I had better prepared I would have had the kids in hats and gloves.
After leaving Union Station we stopped at Mi Ranchito for supper and margaritas (yum!). GG & Aunt Shari babysat while Daddy & I attended the 1st annual ugly sweater party at Mr. Seth's and Ms. Kiersten's house. When we arrived home late that night McKenna was tucked under GG's arm asleep on the couch :)

Visiting "Santa"

As in years past we payed Santa's Wonderland at the local Bass Pro Shop a visit.
GG & Aunt Shari traveled into town for a very short visit the Thursday afternoon - Saturday morning prior to Christmas. Aunt Shari and I got the kiddos showered and dressed early Friday morning and were ahead of schedule to meet with Santa when he made his appearance at 10AM. 
We had a couple of pictures snapped then the kids made the trek around the activities and carousel. We shopped just long enough to lose McKenna in the camping department ('tis true). I picked up a Christmas gift and we returned home in time for lunch.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Round #2

While I was at the school spelling bee with Gabrielle on the morning of the 12th, Travis checked himself into the ambulatory surgical center at Olathe Medical Center for round #2 of surgical repair of his right ankle. His surgery was scheduled for 9:30 but when I arrived at the hospital at 10AM I was told they took him in early and he was already in recovery. I was able to see him shortly after 11. 
He was awake and quite comfortable thanks to both the IV and oral pain medications administered. 
We had seen Trav's surgeon, Dr. Christopher Eckland, in follow up on November 13th. Travis continued to report discomfort/pain on the inside ball area of his ankle however all previous x-rays showed that his ankle was healing properly. The x-ray on the 13th showed that his hardware, aka long screw placed within the bone to hold it in place, had broken in two. The head of the screw was prominent pressing against the ankle also causing a small bone fragment to be dislodged. Dr. Eckland was able to remove both screws from the inside of the ankle and didn't feel it was necessary to replace them (PTL!). 
These photos were taken a week post surgery.
No excessive swelling or discoloration.
Stitches this go around versus staples.
FINGERS CROSSED only 2 weeks of non-weight bearing this time before Travis is allowed to begin progressive weight bearing. We return to see Dr. Eckland on the 26th. We are hoping we will learn more about a prospective return to work date at this appointment.
Our prayer is that this will be the final surgery required and that Travis experiences a complete healing and is able to regain 100% use of his ankle.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

ML Spelling Bee

Gabrielle arrived home from school in late October bursting through the door with excitement.
She couldn't wait to hand me this sweet congratulatory note from her teacher, Mrs. Lindsey.
Each class held in an {in class} spelling bee to determine the participants in the school spelling bee which was held on December 12th. Two students were entered from each 3rd - 5th grade class.
Gabrielle with her fellow classmate, Brynnan Mudd.
We were so proud of Gabi for her efforts! 10 students were eliminated before her. In the 4th round with 8 students remaining Gabrielle was given the word legacy. Gabrielle spelled it incorrect using an "i" instead of an "a." She was crushed and crumpled into tears after exiting the stage at the end of the round. Poor girl was a ball of nerves. I'm so glad my mom attended the spelling bee with me because I may have shed a few tears myself. She comforted Gabs as we watched the remainder of the bee. I regret this now, but we didn't do ANY practicing for the spelling bee. The school provided a large list of words but never once did she/we look at them. The gal who won the spelling bee (I believe she is a 5th grader) was a 2nd year champion.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Devil in Disquise

You my child are a devil in disguise! 
I was so dumbfounded by your naughtiness earlier this week that I thought I should document just how naughty you were/can be at times so in 30 years from now you will believe us.
There is something about the days Micah is here. It brings out your mischievous side. The two of you are quite the dynamic duo of home wreckers. 
Rules are broken. 
Toys and books destroyed. 
The playroom is turned completely upside down. 
Snacks are strewn across the house {and we have a strict rule that no food leaves the kitchen}. 

On Monday you managed to:
  • find your Daddy's weekly pill container and emptied the contents of a half a dozen pills across the kitchen floor
  • removed the large tufted buttons from the {new to us} decorative pillow Aunt Linda gifted to me
  • removed all the Huggies® baby wipes from the container and stuffed them along with a tonnage of plastic food, broken crayons and a ripped up piece of paper into the oven of the play kitchen
  • colored all over the top of the Hallmark snowman piano with a marker
  • You (alone) played in my closet as I showered and placed a bunch of travel items in one of my purses and when scolded and told to replace them you got your hands into something (yet to be determined) and your OCD kicked in and you had a mini tantrum wanting to wash the "yuckies off" as you sat out your 2 minutes of time out.
I'm sure there was more mischief that took place this day, but I can't recall everything.
It's a good thing you're SO stinkin' cute!
I chased you and Micah around the kitchen singing songs and laying in front of the back sliding doors reading books with you. I made a valiant effort to capture the two of you turkeys together but alas one of you was a blur in each photo as getting either of you to stay still for .2 seconds would be a miracle in and of itself. 
Your gorgeous blue eyes slay me. It's no wonder we become softies when you ask for the hundredth time if you can have a snack/watch Dinosaur Train/snuggle a little longer at bedtime.
You LOVE to read books! You're a stinker interrupting a million and one times asking questions about the story or the pictures within the book. It can be frustrating but at the same time I love knowing your little mind is working and growing and learning. I hope your love for books is long lived. 

If anyone would like to know some of our families favorite children's books, I'd love to share!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What She Doesn't Know

I stumbled upon this blog post and I couldn't have penned it better myself so instead I share it. 
Word for word. 
Her words, yet MY words. 
"But I wanted you to hold my hand!" she said through streaming tears, close to hysterics.

I had walked down the stairs from our living room to our dining room one morning after waking her up. I can't remember a morning that she didn't insist on walking down each step herself, even though my hand was always offered.

Yet, today, in my haste to start the day by opening the window shade and getting our breakfasts ready, I did not offer it. And today, she wanted my hand.

In a very uncharacteristic gesture by my almost 3 year old, she climbed into my arms. Her face wet with tears. Her voice unable to catch its breath from the emotion of it all. And in a very uncharacteristic gesture by my almost 3 year old, she let me hold her, comfort her.

For what seemed like a blissful eternity, I rocked my little girl back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Her small koala body clung to mine, legs around my torso, arms around my neck. I stroked her fine hair and held her close.

What she doesn't know is that I'd hold her every day just like this. She could ask me anytime, anywhere, and I would drop whatever I was doing to take her up into my arms and feel her warm little heart beating next to mine.

What she doesn't know is that I live for her laugh, her smile. The tinkle of her happy voice in my ears is enough to bring blue skies to a cloudy day. When the corners of her mouth turn up with joy, my heart skitters into a thousand butterflies fluttering though a green meadow. I want to take away anything that makes her sad. I never want her to know pain, if it takes away that smile.

What she doesn't know is that after an atrocious day full of tantrums and harsh words, when I count down the minutes until bedtime, I miss her when she's asleep. If I knew it wouldn't wake her (and it undoubtedly would), I would crawl into her room just to peek at her sleeping. For a child so full of energy and life and passion during the day, she is surprisingly relaxed and at peace when she dreams. And though I may not be fully prepared for what the next day will bring, I am secretly excited for morning so we can meet again.

What she doesn't know is that I hate myself for the ways I fail her. The impatient clucking, the loud snap of my voice, the wrong choice of cleaning my kitchen when I could have been reading her a book. I pray she will not lack anything because of my faults and insecurities. And I hope one day she will see all the ways I worked on myself just to be better for her.

What she doesn't know, what she couldn't possibly know, is how deep my love runs for her. It courses through my veins. There is nothing I would not do, no thing I would not give up, for her. I know now, in a way I could not have known before I knew her, that love like this cannot dry up like a dusty river bed. It can only grow stronger, a raging river, with an endless source. It would be impossible to not love her.

What she doesn't know is that as time goes by, she will grow up. Dolls and blocks will be traded for cars and make up. I will spend the years grasping for her as she runs ahead, finding the delicate balance between holding on without holding her back. I know she will grow up. And she will be beautiful and confidant and wonderful. And I will miss her littleness.

One day I will look back and wonder why I thought it was so hard, oh so long ago, to raise this child. And I will vow to myself that if I had the chance, I would do it all over again. Every minute.

So today, I hold this little babe, rocking her back and forth, back and forth. I do not take for granted this moment of prolonged comfort: I snuggle her into my neck, breathe in her scent, and lock the memory of her deep in my heart.

Because what she doesn't know is that, no matter how many years go by, no matter how old she grows, she will always be my precious little girl. 
Sweet McKenna Jane,
Although these word weren't written by your Mommy, they are exactly what I would want to say to you right now. You also are almost 3 years old. I too fall into bed after an exasperating day and within minutes am saying to your Daddy after you are asleep how I long to scoop you into my arms and hold you a while longer. How I miss you already and can't wait for you to wake in the morning. Never a night goes by that I don't enter into your room long after you are asleep to steal one last kiss. 
I hate myself for how I fail you, how I raise my voice at you at times and how I choose cleaning and other unimportant tasks to take priority over my time with you. 
What you couldn't possibly know is how much delight I take in you! What you don't know is just how much I love your laugh, your beautiful smile, your tight squeezes and chosen kisses. How those very things brighten my days. You will always be my precious "baby" girl! I love you SO Little Miss!
Love YOUR Mommy

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Girls on the Run

I was so fortunate to join an amazing non-profit organization, Girls on the Run of Kansas City this Fall. We had six coaches and ten teammates sign up for the 1st season of GOTR at our elementary school, Meadow Lane. The Fall season ran 09/11 - 11/16.
{Picture taken after our practice 5K race on October 23rd}
The 10 week season ended in a celebratory 5K run at Arrowhead Stadium. Words can not express how proud I was of our team of 10 girls. Each of them ran the race with heart and determination to finish strong. I ran alongside MY girl and her sweet fellow 3rd grade friend, Lanie, and I am happy to report we ran the entire race {not without some tears of fatigue by Gabrielle)!
{A few of our girls pre-race with K.C. Wolf}
What is Girls on the Run you ask?
Girls on the Run is an after school program for 3rd - 5th grade girls that creatively incorporates running into lessons focused on developing essential life skills. Through interactive activities such as running, playing games, and discussing important issues, participants experience the joy of simply being themselves! The girls learn the importance of teamwork and cultivating healthy relationships. By gaining a greater sense of self-awareness and personal achievement, they are empowered to believe in themselves. The lessons inspire the girls to be strong, connected and self-confident young women. The goal of the program is to unleash confidence through accomplishment while establishing a lifetime of appreciation of health and fitness. The program inspires girls to be Joyful, Healthy & Confident!
Excerpt above taken directly from GOTR

One Girl.
One Mile.
One Victory.
Gabi and I are already looking forward to the Spring season which starts in early March!!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Embrace the Camera: November 14, 2013

A much anticipated stop at Schaake's Pumpkin Patch for a cup of hot cider and a pumpkin spiced donut. 
Oh my! My mouth is watering just thinking about that donut. 
My sweet tooth enjoyed every.last.bite!
We love family outing but they are always more special when Mema and/or Papa can join us in the memory making!
They make everything more fun!

{Parched} Pumpkin Patch

We picked a beautiful Saturday afternoon in late October and made the short drive to Schaake's  in Lawrence for our annual visit to the pumpkin patch. 
I snapped the obligatory photo 1st thing
How much fun would it be to carve that pumpkin above? OK, maybe not gutting it but carving it - shoot yeah!
Little Miss loved! this lion spring toy which occupied her while the bigs waited in line for the pumpkin launch nearby.
 Both kids gave it a valiant effort to hit a target.
 This child cracks me up! It's as if she is preparing to hike a pumpkin through her legs.
 Followed by her stance after commanding her sissy and her boy to "Come on!"
These photos speak volumes as to why I titled this post parched pumpkin patch. The kids were sports and walked rows and rows of patches in search of the perfect pumpkin to no avail. There were a handful of small green or yellow pumpkins and an assortment of flat white pumpkins which we all liked but not a one "acceptable" "pretty" orange carving pumpkin was to be found.
We did leave with a small assortment of pumpkins including a rather nice, large orange pumpkin (not pictured) that we selected from the pre-picked sale area. 
Travis & Papa were working this particular weekend so Mema accompanied us. More pictures to come in an ETC post. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Embrace the Camera: November 11, 2013

Our #1 with her main squeeze, Daddy-O, on the Courtyards at Apple Butter Makin' Days in Mt. Vernon, MO
Photo taken October 11, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ruthledge-Wilson Family Farm Fall Fest

Day 2 of our mini vacation took us to the Ruthledge-Wilson Family Farm Community Park in Springfield. What a wonderful gift to the community this free 207 acre farm is! We were so glad to get to spend the day with Aunt Pam, Aunt Shari, Christy, Mandy and their gang joining us for the fun.
 Daddy and his family - Aunt Pam, GG & Aunt Shari
Dawson, Gabrielle, McKenna, Hayes (Bud's son), Addison (Christy's daughter) & Cash (Mandy's son
It was rather hysterical trying to get six kids all looking at the camera, much less smile! 
This picture shows their personalities best anyway :)
Smiles for the win!!
Had this picture been just a few weeks later Christy's new baby would have made 7 kids. 
Our dynamic trio 
We took a hayride and attempted a loooong corn maze with only half the gang successfully completing it. We found an escape for the tiring GG & preggo Christy. 
The kids LOVED playing on the fantastic play equipment and climbing walls; enjoyed seeing all the animals; walking the barn and experiencing milking the simulated cow but their favorite attraction and one they displayed MUCH patience in waiting for was the human sling (I have no idea the actual name for this contraption) but it was a hit! The kids laughed and giggled and cheered each other on, but when their turn was over their demeanor quickly turned to outward disappointment in not being successful in doing a front or back flip like they had so hoped to do. 
McKenna spent thee entire time (an hour or more) sliding down the jumbo slide face first and jumping until her heart was content in the bounce house while the "big" kids waited in line for the sling. She would sneak away momentarily to share a hug or rock on someones lap on the porch swing. 
We were so thankful for perfect weather and for a fantastic time with family!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Apple Butter Makin' Days

Several weeks ago (3 to be exact) the kids had Friday off of school so Travis took a personal day and we made a mini vacation of sorts out of our three day weekend. We traveled South to GG's house in Springfield. Thursday morning we drove to Mt. Vernon, Mo to experience Apple Butter Makin' Days.
What is Apple Butter Makin' Days about? 
Well ...
If you mustache {must ask - ha!} - hat purchased from the sweetest couple who made beautiful monogrammed pillow cases, hats, et al. 
It is one of Missouri's most popular festivals filled with cooking apple butter on the courtyard lawn 
Don't mind the complete stranger who swooped up Little Miss as if she was his own grandchild, talking to her and explaining the whole apple butter making process.
Rows and rows of craft and trade booths with amazing artistry, textile goods, home decor and SO much more. I'm still kicking myself for not purchasing a fun, original Halloween painted plank and an amazing coffee sack cross body purse. The above "craft" is one we all got a chuckle from. 
Face painting done affordably!
 Live entertainment AND the fOOd!!
We gorged on foot long hot dogs, pizza, corn on the cob, lemonade and of course funnel cake!
What is a festival or fair without funnel cake?
And more so, what is Apple Butter Makin' Days without leaving with a jar of fresh, sweet made Apple Butter? Yummmm!!
Aunt Shari bought the girls these cute halos made from pipe cleaners, tinsel & ribbon. Ms. G looks pretty stinkin' cute wearing it if I do say so myself. 

Stay tuned for day 2 of our fun :)