Friday, April 30, 2010

Worth Speaking Up

Are you a go along to get along kind of person? In a lot of ways I know I am. I definitely do not like to argue for arguments sake. If I don't have a pretty strong opinion about something I feel like I try to just let things go. I absolutely value the idea that once words are spoken you cannot take them back. But sometimes... it is worth speaking up.

We love our neighborhood elementary school. It is less than a block away and is a great place to learn. It is an Arts Integration school, which means my son gets specialized instruction in visual arts, music, rhythm and movement, drama, and starts strings in the 3rd grade. Teachers also integrate the arts into all aspects of daily classroom life. What a great way to learn! Our school has been under construction all year- we are getting a new addition. It looks amazing. I promise to post pictures later today if it is not raining.

This year our school's preK program has been held at American Fidelity just a little bit down the road from the real school building. With the construction and the start of all day Kindergarten there just was no place to house preK kiddos this year. It is amazing that American Fidelity stepped up to let this great program go on during this year of transition. I am so grateful that we have community partners like this in Oklahoma City. What a commitment to helping public education!

Next year Zella will attend Wilson PreK. We love the school she goes to now, but it just makes sense to get her started at the school she will attend for the next six years. The problem? There was talk of keeping the preK at American Fidelity again next year. Parents were very unhappy. We will have a beautiful new preK classroom in our new addition ready to go for next year. Why not move the program back where it belongs? The decision was being made at the district level and we were told it was a done deal.

I decided I had to speak up. Even if it was a done deal, I wanted the powers that be to know that I did not think this was in the best interests of Wilson families. So I made some calls and wrote some emails. I encouraged some others to do the same. Friends of mine went and spoke with administrators in person. We were assured a meeting would be held for parents to discuss the issue. We waited.

Yesterday I opened the school newsletter to find a small little article on the third page letting parents know that preK will be back at Wilson for next year. I am thrilled but a little amused that there was no real communication on this issue other than this tiny article. I don't know if speaking up made the difference, but I know that saying nothing would probably mean shuttling two kids to different buildings for the same start time every day for a year. I am glad I spoke up.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Outdoor Living

If you live in Oklahoma you know there are two outdoor living seasons. Spring and Fall. Winter can get brutally cold and summer is generally unbearably hot. But in between is some of the most fantastic weather around. I love to be outside, especially in weather like we have been having. Two of my favorite spots in the whole world are right in my own front and back yards.

Front Porch Sitting:

I have shown pictures of my big old front porch on this blog already, in conjunction with my trash to treasure find. Since sprucing up that table I have also added a couple pillows, an outdoor rug, a lantern, and a big boston fern. This spot is such a retreat for me. I love to come out here, sit and read. Hubby and I spend LOTS of nights sitting, sipping, and catching up with one another. We even recently celebrated our neighbor's birthday out on the front porch complete with cake. This is honestly my favorite "room" in the house. If you are in the neighborhood stop on by to swing on the front porch. I may even make you some lemonade.
This is the view from my favorite chair on the front porch:

A Back Yard Sanctuary:

One of the most interesting questions I get following our move downtown is if it is loud with city sounds here. I laugh a little as our old backyard backed up to Hefner Road and was most nights too loud with traffic noise to have a decent conversation. In fact, our new backyard is really a sanctuary of wonderful plants and a soothing fountain. We have a bird feeder and spend lots of time watching the cardinal pair that seem to live in our yard.

The roses have all started blooming and smell fantastic.

I am waiting for the peonies to open up- they are getting so close. Our backyard table is the perfect spot for morning coffee, with the water sounds and chirping birds. It is also the best place to play together as a family in the evenings.

Do you have an outdoor retreat?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Why I Love Basketball

When my hubby and I were first engaged and he moved me to Oklahoma I was a little bit thrown by the football culture. I believe I even tried to argue with him about why basketball is a better sport than football. Big Mistake. Over time I have adapted to my new home and become a very willing fan of football. In fact, I didn't even realize how much I had missed basketball- until we hosted the New Orleans Hornets when they were displaced after Katrina. Hubby and I split season tickets with some other couples for the two year Hornet stay and had so much fun going to the games. When the Thunder arrived to stay I was very excited, and now just a couple years later I have evolved back into a rabid fan- complete with a whole new wardrobe of blue and white shirts.

Growing up in Illinois I started watching basketball at a young age. While I was in middle school the University of Illinois made it to the Final Four in Seattle and I watched about every game that year. The best part was when we played Iowa and we got to call and taunt my grandmother when we beat them (little did I know I would turncoat and attend Iowa just a few years down the road). Then came the Bulls Dynasty. MJ, Pippin, BJ, enough said. I watched a lot of great basketball in those years.

So, here in no particular order are a few of the reasons I love Basketball:
1. It is fast and furious -it is exciting to watch.
2. You don't have to devote 9 hours of your day to a game when you attend in person.
3. Every game is a display of amazing athleticism. These guys are so strong, agile, and talented.
4. You can enjoy a game no matter what the weather is like outside. I have been to football games in the rain. Enough said.
5. The game is a lot more straightforward than many others. If you had never seen a game before you would figure out pretty quickly how things work. I still need help on a regular basis for football rules.

I could go on, but you get the point. As we have entered this playoff season I find myself thinking about my Grandma Gusty. She became a basketball fan late in life after she became a widow. Living in Fort Dodge, Iowa means enduring some seriously long, hard winters. Basketball became a way she and her good friends passed the time on long winter nights. I will never forget going to her house for a weekend while I was in college and meeting up with her two lifelong girlfriends for lunch. They talked NBA basketball the whole time- I had almost no idea what they were talking about! I do know this- she would have loved the Thunder. Their story, the hard work and humble attitudes would have gotten her attention. I think that she would have gotten a kick out of the fact that her great grandkids (especially her namesake, Zella) are loving basketball as much as she did.

Monday, April 26, 2010

What a Weekend!

The Thunder won again, Lance rocked the Half Marathon, Zander's Blue Thunder soccer team won two games, we packed a lot in. It was all fun! Seems like we will be moving at a sprint pace for the rest of the school year. Time to strap in and start running!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Thunder Up for the Playoffs

Last night was the most exciting, crazy, loud, fun sporting event I have ever attended. Lance and I went to Miami for the OU national championship game a couple of years ago and the fanfare at that event didn't even come close to last night. Words fail to describe the crazy excitement of the crowd in the Ford Center for the 1st ever NBA Playoff game in OKC.

There were some really awesome moments last night, especially in the pregame. The Thunder put together a video that was incredible tracing Oklahoma City from boomtown to today. It included moving moments from the bombing, shots of the memorial, I only wish I had started videoing earlier. I picked it up from when OKC got the Thunder on to the end of the video. Here is a link to some videos I shot last night from the Pre-game, Starting Lineups, and the end of the Rise Together video:

Thunder Up!

In all a totally unforgettable night. I am hoarse and tired after all these late night games. BUT- I am absolutely pumped for Saturday night's game... I am resting my voice to cheer the Thunder to another big WIN!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Arts Festival Fish Tacos

Did I just hear your stomach rumble? For most Oklahoma City residents just reading the words Festival of the Arts is enough to get your stomach rumbling and ready for some seriously amazing food. There are so many choices it is really impossible to eat there just once during festival week. Each year brings in new delights and old standby favorites. Although I have spent an embarassing amount of time and money over the years at the festival tomorrow marks my first turn working a booth- and I am excited!
If you are headed down to the Festival on Thursday for lunch come by Craig and Carter's famous fish tacos- I will be there from 10:45- 2:00. The tacos are fabulous and the best part?? A portion of the profits benefit Wilson Arts Inc.
A great cause, great food, fun times. Hope to see you tomorrow!

Monday, April 19, 2010

How do you get inspired?

Hello, my name is Katy and I have a major problem... magazines. I subscribe to a whoooole bunch of them and I totally love them all! I have always been a major bookworm, but with kids it is really hard. I am a read until you finish it, sucked in, zombie like book lover. This does not mix well with mothering small children who cannot be unsupervised and ignored for long periods of time.
Enter the magazine. These wonderful, colorful, fun mini reading escapes will never replace books for me but they sure are good for right now. The side benefit of my magazine addiction is the inspiration that comes with it. I get so many great ideas, recipes, and advice that I had to start a binder to keep all the pages I rip out.

For a while I tried to keep the magazines themselves, but the hoarding show on HGTV cured that impulse. I spent last night going through the April stack of mags and ripping out the stuff I had to have before passing them on to others. So here are a couple of my very favorite things from this round of magazines:

1. This Huge Daybed/Porch Swing from Southern Living. I really want this swing on my front porch. I may never come in the house again. Until July.

2. House Beautiful gives expert advice on Wood Care. I love my wood floors, this has some good advice.

3. This is not from this round of magazines, but is a decorating inspiration example. We did a lot to our house before we moved in. I have not gotten to window treatments yet, but thought my sweet neighbors would appreciate not having to see me stand at the kitchen sink with my glasses and bed head every morning as they left for work. Solution from a magazine- hang napkins as curtains on a cheap-o rod.

So, my question is, where do you find inspiration? If you want to try magazines, just give me a call. I will share!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Marathon Madness- One Week Away!

The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon takes place one week from tomorrow. It is the 10th anniversary of this "Run to Remember" the victims of the OKC Bombing. This race is really something special. Although I have never attempted the whole or half marathons I have been on several relay teams over the years. Of all the races I have ever run in (not like the list is really that long...) this one has such a cool spiritual component. Throughout the race there are banners naming those lost in the bombing and many runners choose to run in memory of someone lost or in honor of a survivor.

The marathon course goes right through our new neighborhood, and I got an email last night letting me know the route for the half marathon will actually go down our street! So, I am gearing up big time to cheer on the runners. If you are running the half marathon we are on the 400 block of 21st street. I am planning to get the kids out, chalk the street, buy some balloons, and possibly set up our own little water stand. To make it even better, my hubby is thinking about running the half too. We will get to cheer on daddy from our own front lawn. So- if you have friends and loved ones running the half and want a place towards the end of the race to stop and cheer- come on over to our house! We will be ready for you and warming up our cheering voices. Go runners Go!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Say Hello to my New Friend...

The IMac! It is here and it is glorious! After not a whole lot of deliberation we decided to be Mac people. Last night we made it official with a full family trip to the Apple store at Penn Square. We came home and set up our new toy. So far I am totally loving it- easy to use and lots of fun stuff to play with.

We are now also wireless for the first time and waiting patiently for my hubby's new toy to arrive in the next couple days- an IPad. Can't wait to report on that as well. So, I am ready for a new adventure in Mac Land and just soaking up the pure upgrade in speed and looks the new Mac has brought to my life. Hooray!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ode to the Farmer's Market

I grew up in Decatur, Illinois. This fine city just so happens to be the soybean capitol of the world, so I was pretty well surrounded by agriculture growing up. When I left for college at the University of Iowa I had to explain to all the Chicago kids what the herbicide commercials on TV were about. I feel like I always had a pretty healthy appreciation for the process of growing food.

Now as an adult I have to make tough practical decisions about my food just like everyone else. In this crazy age of genetic manipulation, hormone and antibiotic overload, and mass pesticide use I have to choose carefully what I feed my family. Although I hit the neighborhood market like most of America I also utilize a secret weapon in my campaign to feed my family good food. This weapon is the OSU OKC Farmer's Market.

For all of you OKC residents, the market is located at about 8th and Portland on the OSU OKC campus and runs year round on Saturday mornings. This market is a great place to stock up on grass fed hormone free meat, delicious cheese, fresh eggs, amazing produce, and hundreds of made in Oklahoma products. I ran over to the market this morning and then got to make myself the most amazing all local, made in Oklahoma lunch when I got home. It is nice to know the people making my food and it tastes out of this world amazing.

Last year Lance and I bough into a CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically we paid Berry Creek Farms in January for a veggie, fruit, and egg share. Each week from May- October we stopped by the farmer's market and picked up a dozen eggs, fruit, and a bag of whatever veggies were in season on the farm. It was a wonderful exerience. This year we have decided to go back to a-la-carte shopping as the one downside to the CSA was that we got more than we could use and some items we didn't really love. (Feeding kids turnips? Not without a pound of butter...) So, here is a list of my Farmer's Market must-haves.

OSU OKC Farmers Market, oh how I love you. Let me count the ways...
1. Harvesthyme Bread: garlic rosemary bread. So fabulous.
2. Christian Cheese: Cowboy Cheddar, Colby Cheddar, Really Any Cheddar.
3. Crow Farms: Great produce all the time, but the tastes like summer greenhouse cherry tomatoes in April are something special.
4. Berry Creek Farm: All types of fruits and veggies as well as wonderful fresh eggs.
5. Wichita Buffalo Company: Buffalo meat is lean, delicious, and good for you. My kids love this meat and cannot tell the difference between it and ground beef.
6. The "General Store": I honestly don't know the name of this operaton, but they are always on the back left of the pavillion and they sell EVERYTHING! We love the honey, peanuts, peanutbutter, jams, pizza crust, and more!

Hope you will take some time to explore what the Farmer's Market has to offer near you. Take your kids along too- it is cool for them to meet the people who grow the food you buy and will make them more adventurous eaters (except maybe turnips...).

Friday, April 9, 2010

Am I a Mac or a PC?

It has been time for a while to upgrade the technology here at the Leffel home. The computer I am using right now was purchased six years ago, an eternity in the life of technology. I have basically reached the end of my rope with the sloooooow way this machine works. So, time for an upgrade.

My question is, am I a Mac or a PC? I totally want to be a Mac. They have that cool, hip factor and I would be a total liar to say I didn't like that. My husband is really interested in the IPad, so that would be another reason to go Mac.

But- the PC seems much cheaper overall. I also don't really do any super heavy computing. Our computer is a picture and video storage unit that keeps our books and does word processing. That and the Internet pretty much do it for my computing time. So, what do you think? Am I a Mac or PC?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Garden is In!

Two years ago my son started showing some interest in growing things. At our old house we planted a few tomato plants and a couple of pepper plants along with some basil and had a ball watching it all grow. Kids love digging in the dirt and watching the magical growth of plants. Last summer we really missed out on doing a garden as we were between houses. So, this year Zander and I started talking about our garden early. He has been asking me for the past month when we can plant our plants. This weekend was so beautiful I couldn't resist getting started. Here we are getting things in the ground:

Zella got in on the action as well, digging for worms and grubs

So far we have planed a couple tomato varieties, red and yellow bell peppers, three strawberry plants, cucumbers, swiss chard, basil, and cilantro. I plan to add a few more tomatoes and some zucchini. Can't wait to eat those tomatoes!