Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Time Flies

I am finding it really difficult to sit down and make time to post on this blog lately. Some excuses are good ones:
1. Bible School took over my life for a couple of weeks.
2. I went on vacation to celebrate my 10th anniversary to a cabin with no tv or Internet.
3. I have been spending quality time playing with my kids.
4. I have been catching up on all the housework and yardwork I did not do during #1 and #2.

Some are not so good:
1. I would rather read magazines than type on the computer.
2. Someone interrupts me nearly every time I sit down to type on the computer.
3. I have been drinking a lot of the beer we brought back from vacation and watching Season 1 of Entourage on DVD.


Here are some highlights from the past three weeks.

The Kids had a really excellent adventure with my parents. My mom and dad bought a super nice camper and took the kids on a camping trip to Rocky Mountain National Park and Dinosaur National Park. They hiked, swam, fished, learned, became junior rangers at both parks, and conned my mom and dad into purchasing literally EVERY souvenir in all gift shops they went in. We almost needed a trailer to get home. More on this portion of the vacation as my mom sends pictures. They had a blast and I am so very blessed to have a mom and dad who want to do all this cool stuff with their grandkids.

So, after Lance and I kicked the kids to the curb next to the camper and peeled out of the parking lot we had an amazing vacation in honor of our 10th wedding anniversary. Earlier this spring we were watching the show Modern Family one night and the quote of the year for me came out of Claire's mouth:
"I am a mom travelling with my children. This is not a vacation- it is a business trip!"
That pretty much sums it up for me, and though I adore a good business trip with my kiddos... this was a real vacation!
We sat on the deck every morning drinking coffee and looking at the mountains. And it was cold. Those of you that do not live on the surface of the sun in Oklahoma will not get the importance of the cold. Wonderful. Here is a sunset view from the A-Frame deck...

Lance took bike rides and I went for long walks, we hung out and about a year's worth of date nights in a week. Fabulous! Here are a few highlights...
Hiking through the snow to Columbine Lake:

Revisiting spots from the days we were first dating:

Winning at mini golf, front deck sitting and sipping, and scrabble battles:

All in all, a fantastic getaway. Good to be back home, but I still find myself longing for Colorado at least a couple times every day.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Suite Life with Zander and Zella

Usually on our biannual Colorado trip we take two days to get there and grit it out in one on the way home. This time around we got the kids from my parents and did not get away from Fort Collins until after noon. So, we did what any reasonable parent would do and traded heavily on the reward of a hotel with a swimming pool to get the kids to behave on the first six hours of the ride home.
The plan was to stay the night in Hays, Kansas. This is about the halfway point between Denver and OKC if you are taking I 70. We pulled into the Hays Applebee's for some grub and then rolled out to the cluster of hotels we usually stay in. Randomly they were all booked up. Yikes! We continued to the other side of the highway overpass and found one hotel with no pool (totally unacceptable after the day of bribery) and one with a pool but very questionable air conditioning status (also totally unacceptable). So, we hit the highway for the next town down the road and I put my internet accessible phone to work.
Russell, Kansas is not a big town by any stretch, but they do have and AmericInn- generally a clean, nice hotel chain with good pool facilities. I called and made a reservation with the national booking center and we rolled on down the road. When I arrived to check in the sweet lady at the desk asks me, "Do you really need a room with two beds?" Uh-Oh. I reply that yes, I most definitely do not want to sleep all four of us in the same bed. They made a clerical error and have no more two queen rooms. So, we got the upgrade!
In case you are not aware (read- in case you do not travel I70 excessively like our family) Russell is the childhood home of Arlen Specter and Bob Dole. So, we got upgraded to the very prestigious Arlen Specter suite. This wonderful room had 3 sinks! and 2 tubs! one a whirlpool! and 2 tv's! It was sooo Cool! You would have thought my kids had won the lottery they were so excited about this room. So Zander and Zella had one night of the Suite Life. They swam in the pool and came back to take a bath in the huge jacuzzi tub. We put them to bed on the pull out couch, closed the double doors to our king bed room, and watched TV! What a glorious night- for a six and four year old!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sometimes All You Can Do Is Laugh...

What a day!

When the thunder started rumbling around 4 this morning my mind kicked into gear. Vacation Bible School is happening at Church of the Servant this week, and I knew this would mean a little extra shuffling on an already hectic morning. I started planning preschool games in my mind and then decided to try and sleep a little more...

Cut to real wake up time. Get myself and both kiddos dressed in our matching light blue VBS T-shirts (still available for only $10!!!) and start the breakfast rush. I decide to run down to the basement just to make sure the sump pump is going because, man, this is a LOT of rain.

I don't even make it past the landing before I hear the not normal gushing sound of water. Run down the stairs to find that not only is the sump pump unable to keep up with the massive amount of water coming from the sky, but that water is actually gushing in through the entrance to the crawl space under our added on room. Fun times! Yell to Lance and start moving anything I can to high ground. We get things to a passable state, and Lance decides to stay home and work from here for a while to make sure the house does not float away.

Shuttle kids one at a time through the torrential downpour to the car (yes, this is definitely one of the handful of days over the past year that I wish our garage were attached to the house). Get in totally soaked and start out for what I assume will be an extra long drive to church. Little did I know...

Head for the on ramp off 23rd onto Broadway only to find it is blocked off. Turn around and head down 23rd to Hefner Parkway only to find it blocked just past Claussen. Head north on Claussen planning to make a go at getting on I 44. Go a mile and get stuck in traffic. Rain continues to pour and cars are stalled out everywhere. Finally admit defeat as a second fire truck comes through. Turn down a side road to head back south down Western. Make some really scary water crossings while trying to get someone on the cell phone to make a decision to cancel Bible School for the day. I am having flashes of some sweet mama volunteer getting hurt trying to get to VBS.

Luckily we made it home in one piece and most people made the decision on their own not to come to church. I have vowed to revamp our volunteer communication system for next year- but seriously? Cancelling VBS for weather in June? All you can do is laugh...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Major Milestones; The Story of US

Lance and I have a major milestone approaching. On the 24th of this month we will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. As that date approaches I have found myself taking some major trips down memory lane. Zander went to camp last week, and that brought back a huge wave of memories, as Lance and I met as camp counselors in 1997.

My first memory of Lance was actually from before we really met. I was preparing to go to Camp Chief Ouray in Granby, Colorado for the summer to work as a camp counselor. A few weeks before it was time to go I got a letter from camp introducing all of the leadership staff for the summer. My mom and I read over it and both commented on the name "Lance Leffel". As a northern girl I had never even heard of anyone named Lance. The information also said he was getting a degree in Letters from University of Oklahoma. Again, a degree I had never heard of from a University I knew nothing about. We were both intrigued.

I flew out to Colorado to start staff training and my Uncle Randy picked me up at the airport to take me into the mountains. Randy and I have always been really close, and he is a gun-totin', no-nonsense, 10 years younger version of my dad. We took the long way to camp going over Trail Ridge Road though Rocky Mountain National Park, so we got to camp a little on the late side. The first person I met as I entered the building to check in? Lance Leffel, of course. We still laugh about that first impression. Lance remembers thinking, "That girl's dad looks like serious business!". I think it was the gun on his belt....

I ended up being assigned to Lance's group for the start of camp and really liked his personality. I wrote in my journal for the summer that I thought he was really cute, too. However, after camp got started we kind of drifted into our own worlds for the summer. That might have been the end of the story if it weren't for Brian Kurz.

Brian was one of Lance's best friends at camp. They had worked together the whole summer before I came to camp. Brian was also an Iowa Hawkeye, just like me. Brian and I stayed in touch at school after my first summer at camp and made a plan to get together in Colorado on New Year's Eve. Brian and Lance would be there together on a ski trip. I was there with my family on a ski trip too. My dad refused to take me to Winter Park like he had promised to meet up with everyone, and before I knew it Lance and Brian were on their way to pick me up for the night. The rest... is history:)

We really hit it off that night and stayed up all night long talking. We emailed all Spring and wound up at Camp the next summer. It took us about five minutes to start dating and we never looked back. Winter Park is basically the scene of the crime for us, with every restaurant, bar, hiking trail, and more holding a great memory of our early time together. So, as we get ready to celebrate our 10 year anniversary there is really no place better for us to pass the day that marks our union. We will head back to Winter Park. I can't wait to take the literal trip down memory lane, just the two of us together for the week.

I am a seriously blessed woman. I get to spend every day with my best friend. My love and respect for him only grow as the years go on. Our good times together have always FAR outweighed our challenges. Happy Anniversary, Lance. I love you so much and look forward to spending the next 60 years together watching our kids grow.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Camp Love

Did you ever go to summer camp?

I did! Church Camp, Lifeguarding Camp, Sports Camps... In fact, camp is where I met my husband! For three summers we worked together as camp counselors in Colorado. So, you know the two of us are sending our kids to camp.

This year we got the first opportunity to expose Zander to camp. It has been fantastic! Camp DaKaNi is a campfire camps day-camp in Oklahoma City, just ten minutes from the house. He has gone each day this week with his best bud Ryan. They have gone fishing, boating, cooked over campfires, done hikes, learned songs, played games, done crafts, and on and on. What a blast!

Today Lance, Zella, and I got to go to the Council Campfire where they give out awards and the kids get to show us around camp and especially the little "home in the woods" they created. It was so fun to see the pride both boys took in what they had done this week. They led us all around to show us the special spots they got to know this week.

I am so proud of my buddy for embracing this week and loving every minute of it. At closing campfire today he got "the highest award camp gives" for being a leader and helper all week. I am such a proud mama. Camp Chief Ouray... watch out, we have a future counselor training for work already here in Oklahoma City!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

VBS Set Design

My only legit job each year is to work as the director for Church of the Servant Methodist's Vacation Bible School. It is a big job that is a ton of fun. We pack the church with well over 400 kids and more than 100 volunteers. VBS starts next Monday June 14th and goes until the 17th from 9:30-12:15 each day. If you live in OKC and have kids, register them and come on over!

COS has a tradition of going all out to decorate the church for VBS. We have tried over the past few years to scale back a little while still maintaining the POW! effect. My BFF and Decorating Goddess Jennifer White has outdone herself once again in planning and executing our decorating plan. She has some serious creative MOJO and a major volunteer heart to get it all made and put together. Here is a preview of the church, hope you will come see it in person!

Tulsa Tough Fun

This past weekend we loaded up the car and headed over to Tulsa. My hubby is a major bike lover and wanted to see the Tulsa Tough bike race. It was a fun way to visit my brother-in-law, sis-in-law, and nephew.
Friday Night at the Races:

After the big boys did a Saturday morning bike ride we headed over to the Oklahoma Aquarium to check things out:

A fun, quick trip down the turnpike!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cheap Summer Fun

Surviving summer around here means finding fun, cheap things to do. Today we hit on two good ones...

#1: The Library's Summer Reading Program. Each summer we sign up for the Summer Reading Program at the public library. This is a great free way to spend a little time each week making your kids smarter. They love picking out new things to read and the library is always nice and cool on a hot day. Bonus- there are so many different ones to check out you can hit a different library each week.

#2: Backyard Exploring. There are a million versions of backyard exploring. Today we used a gift card to buy an Oklahoma Bird Field Guide and a Backyard Bug Guide. We have a heavily trafficked bird feeder and a couple nests so we sat outside for some instant entertainment.