Thursday, December 15, 2011

An interesting conversation...

At our school they encourage at home to do a reading website called Raz-Kids. Molly is REALLY, REALLY into Raz-Kids. There are times where we have to peel her away from the computer. Tonight Molly read a book entitled "Riding with Rosa Parks." Here's the conversation that Cameron and Molly had about the book...

Molly was explaining that back, long ago, there were people with brown faces and people with blond faces. The people with brown faces had to sit in the back of the bus. Rosa Parks sat in the front of the bus but she had a brown face. The bus driver said she had to sit in the back of the bus. Rosa Parks said NO!! (In a very loud, stern voice). She got arrested from the police. At the end of the story the brown faces can sit in the front thanks to Rosa Parks.

Cameron then explained to Molly that the person who got the laws changed about people with brown faces was Martin Luther King, Jr.

This conversation brought a smile to my face. Wow. My kiddos are really learning something.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tis the season...

Holy cow! What happened to November and most of December??!! I have been a bad, bad blogger. Lots has been going on so here's a brief photo recap...

One cute Indian that went to 4 year old preschool, the Lincoln Elementary Christmas program at school, and Molly and Haeleigh as Isabella and Candice from Phineas and Ferb at the TazWood Dance Company performance. Hopefully as we wrap up our Christmas activities (ours seemed to come early this season) we will have time to put into words a few thoughts. Until then, happy holiday celebrating all!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pumpkin Patch Party...

Today was our church's Pumpkin Patch Party. The kids had a fantastic time. We dug deep into the closets to come up with costumes this year. We have so many costumes I thought this might be the year to recycle something. I didn't think I could stomach another trip to one of those scary, creepy Halloween stores that is really a closed Big Lots 10 other months of the year.

Here's a few photos to soccer player (with added stitches for effect), one Unicorn girl (your guess is as good as mine what a unicorn girl is) and one butterfly.

Other big news that has happened is that someone lost their second tooth...

Yes, someone lost their second tooth before their brother lost his second tooth. Those things happen, right?

Also, I got the neatest gift from my Prayer Partner at church. I was tickled to receive it and I think it will be a great decorating piece.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Did you know that only 1% of the population of the world will ever run a marathon? And guess what?...

My guy did and finished!!

26.2, baby!

I am so very proud of Mr. Shook for training, running and completing his first marathon. We drove to Columbus, Ohio last Friday, spent time with some friends, Mr. Shook ran a simple 26.2 miles and then we drove back 6 hours. I can't believe I'm saying this, but it was actually kind of fun. We were able to see Mr. Shook 3 times on the course and cheer him on. I think that it gave him the boost that he needed. (Or at least he better say it did!)

I will be the first to admit that I was very nervous about Mr. Shook's idea to do this. In fact, I cried when we dropped him off at the start. I think the majority of the world knows how hard it is to run a marathon. Many people try it unprepared. Even though I didn't think Mr. Shook was unprepared I was still worried. There were also some tears of joy when we saw him finish. I was very, very glad when he was done and I was so proud of his efforts. Actually, I teared up a few times seeing complete strangers finish. It was one of those emotional kind of experiences. I saw a man finish the Columbus marathon for the 36th straight year! And he was no spring chicken.

The kids did great waiting, the weather was perfect and they were their Daddy's biggest cheerleaders. And, it was my birthday! Isn't that how every loving wife spends her special day...cheering on her husband in his first marathon?

And, we LOVE Columbus! If we had the opportunity to ever move back to Ohio I think that's where I would want to be. Such a great city!

And as always...GO BUCKS!!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Another year of preschool...

Amanda started preschool last Wednesday. She was SUPER excited, never blinked an eye and had a great first day. Day two was just as good, too. Amanda goes three mornings a week to the same preschool she attended last year. It's called Fantasyland Preschool and I can't help but chuckle when I tell out of town friends where she goes to school. Does anyone from Ashland think that Fantasyland was the same name as an "adult" bar outside of Mansfield??!!

Here's some photo's of my baby.


She is really growing up...

We also did our annual trip to the local corn maze on Labor Day. The weather couldn't have been more perfect and we brought along some friends this time...

Miss Molly lost her first tooth, too, over Labor Day. This has been a long time coming. This poor tooth held on for dear life until it could hold no more!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Home, Sweet, Home...

We're home, we've had a good night's sleep. Things are well!
And, our sister is more than willing to bring us dolls and toys!

We brought Amanda home yesterday around 4. Her labs, urine output, the ability to have a #2 and her willingness to drink and eat a little allowed us to come home a day early. She is currently still with a catheter, which we will haven taken out on Monday in the urologist's office. Our experience couldn't have been any better. Fortunately/Unfortunately, we were recognized as repeat visitor's to the Children's Hospital and that made things really nice. There were quite a few, "you look familiar" statements and it was nice and reassuring. Our doctor rocks, too! He gave us the VIP treatment which means he treated us like he has for 230 other cases of the same surgery and things appear to be healing well. We had a few friends who work in the hospital check in with us and that helped out so much. It's nice to know that other's are keeping an eye out for you. Even when the patient is 4!

We truly appreciate all the prayers and positive thoughts that were sent our way. Our doctor commented on how calm we seemed before the surgery and I'm so glad that it appeared that way from the outside. My insides were churning!

I also have to give props to our girl.
I don't know if I can put into words how proud I was of her when she walked to the operating room. She never looked back. I think that speaks volumes about several things. I think Mr. Shook and I did a decent job preparing her for what was going to happen, I think the staff at the hospital has an unique way of putting everyone at ease and making them feel safe, and I think that it shows the power of our God and the Holy Spirit that enveloped their arms around our girl. It took my breath away and dried all my tears.
Again, I say Thank You, Thank You, Thank You for praying for Amanda.
I believe in the power of prayer.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Miss Amanda...

I love this face.
I love this little girl.
She is just like her Mother in so many ways.
I really love her.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

For all that's good in sports...

We often hear about all the bad in the world. Places like the evening news dramatize it and make it bigger than it really is. The same thing happens in the sports world. We hear about the abuses of drugs, performance enhancing drugs, alcohol, cheating, scamming, lying. The talk radio, the news, the ESPN's of the world eat this kind of story up.

But, I have to admit. There is nothing like a feel good sports story. I am a sucker for ALL of them. I love a golfer walking down the 18th green with the possibility of winning his first major. I love the Cinderella story of a small division one school winning in the NCAA basketball tournament. I love the stories of the hard work, the blood, sweat and tears that athletes have put in to one moment every four years in the Olympics. I love it all!

Even better is seeing moments like this in person. I still remember seeing Mark McGuire hit one of his 70 home runs in 1998 and the Cleveland fans going crazy in awe. I remember the feeling in 1995 of sitting at Jacobs Field for the start of an American League Championship Series game and Oral Hershiser walking to the pitchers mound from the bullpen. It was so cool. The stadium was electric.

You don't get to experience those feelings very often. They are very rare. It's really neat when something very special happens at a sporting event. Even when it's on a small scale. This past Saturday, my son, Cameron, scored his first soccer goal. Ever. It was very, very special. I tried to be laid back about it, like it happens all the time. But, on the inside I was beaming. And it isn't so much that he scored the goal. Yes, that made me very happy. But it was how proud I am of him really, really trying to score a goal and then succeeding. His drive to improve at soccer has really come a long way and we couldn't be prouder. I don't expect the next Pele here but trying his best is awesome. And, the parents around us were very excited for Cameron, too. It was really nice of them to be supportive for us.

It made the soccer field feel electric if only for a second.
And that is why I love sports.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ready or not, here we are....

First and Second grade!!!

We had a fun summer but now it's time to hit the books!

Happy School Year!!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Things to celebrate, things to remember...

Things I choose today to celebrate...

- that school starts in one week

- that I have what I feel are really nice kids who are learning so much but also are respectful, kind and nice to their teachers and friends

- that the weather is cooler and that there is an abundance of sunshine toda

- that my friends Brad and Staci have received really positive news regarding Brad's illness. This is a huge joy!!

- that very soon Mr. Shook and I will be celebrating living in Morton for 3 years. I'm still not "from here", but I am here.

- that Mr. Shook had successful outpatient surgery yesterday, was a real trooper, and that I didn't pass out when I looked at the incision last night. It is a decent size for just having local anesthetic.

- that Mr. Shook is a super supportive husband and friend and allowed us to travel to Ohio for the second time in a week. I really needed to do that. Thank you, Mike!!

Things that I am remembering...

- yesterday my Grandfather died one year ago. When we went to the cemetery to visit him when we were home a few weeks ago it made me realize even more that I don't live in Seville anymore.

- my friends Tracy and Pat and their family at the passing of Tracy's father, Jay. Both Tracy and Pat said really beautiful things about Jay under some intense emotions and I am so proud of both of them. I know you will have no regrets sharing with all of us.

- These words:

There's a peace I've come to know

Though my heart and flesh may fail

There's an anchor for my soul

I can say "It is well"

Jesus has overcome

And the grave is overwhelmed

The victory is won

He is risen from the dead

And I will rise when He calls my name

No more sorrow, no more pain

I will rise on eagles' wings

Before my God fall on my knees

And rise

I will rise

There's a day that's drawing near

When this darkness breaks to light

And the shadows disappear

And my faith shall be my eyes

Jesus has overcome

And the grave is overwhelmed

The victory is won

He is risen from the dead

And I will rise when He calls my name

No more sorrow, no more pain

I will rise on eagles' wings

Before my God fall on my knees

And rise

I will rise

And I hear the voice of many angles sing,

"Worthy is the Lamb"

And I hear the cry of every longing heart,

"Worthy is the Lamb"

And I will rise when He calls my name

No more sorrow, no more pain

I will rise on eagles' wings

Before my God fall on my knees

And rise

I will rise

-Chris Tomlin

Monday, August 1, 2011

Who I am today...

I get chills when ironic things happen in life.

We just got back from visiting Mr. Shook's parents in Ohio and I went through our mail last night. I often don't read the church newsletter first thing but I decided to sit down with it for a minute. The opening letter from our pastor really hit home to me. He shares with us his experience returning to the first church he pastored in Kentucky many years ago. He talks about how the people there molded him to be the Pastor he is today. How forgiving they were for his lack of experience (although I guarantee Pastor Paul put his practice to very good use there and the congregation wasn't disappointed). He shared how many of the faces were the same as they were when he first arrived there and how he recognized quite a few of them.

Yesterday we worshipped in our "home" church. I feel the very same way there as our Pastor did in Kentucky. Many of the faces are the same, the people are very familiar to me and these are the people who molded me into the woman I am today. Mr. Shook and I take very seriously the part of a Methodist baptism that says the congregation will help you to raise your child with Christian love. All 3 of our children were baptized in that church in Ohio and even though we don't attend there anymore I know that they pray for us, love us and support us with Christian love. So many of the faces are the same and it makes me sad when I hear of one of those very familiar faces not being around anymore. The people who we have known for over 30 years are like a breath of fresh air to me. Comfort, familiarity and promise.

You see, it's after going back and visiting what I would originally call "home" that I now realize that I am who I am and I am where I am suppose to be in life. I know this with my whole heart. I always need to work on the who I am part but I believe that God brought us to Central Illinois for a reason. I never really felt like Michigan was home to us but I think that I am now, more than ever, in my home.

And, it's scary and exhilarating all in the same breath. And it often gives me chills.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer 2011...

Oh boy, Oh boy, it's summertime...which means I have been a bad blogger. Here's a slice of what we've been up to...

Trips to Lego Discovery Center in Schaumberg, American Girl in Chicago and the John Hancock Building. We met family there and the kids enjoyed time with their cousins...

Then a trip to Six Flags...I'm not sure who was the bigger kid there...

It's been a fun summer with trips to the pool, trips to watch Mr. Shook run, Vacation Bible School, bike riding, just having a good time. Have you been having fun, too? With this SUPER hot weather it's been really warm but we won't complain because soon enough is cold, windy and s-n-o-w!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Playing Devil's Advocate...

I hope you had a chance to read my blog yesterday. If not, go back and read it first and then proceed...

Have you ever gotten one of those phone calls that caught you off guard, that took your breath away for a second. You feel like your head is spinning, or like your under water and you haven't surfaced for air yet?

Well, I have.

Monday, June 16, 2008.

Not a day I would really like to relive, but in retrospect, a day that was eye opening and a day that really made us put our trust in the Lord.
You see, Mr. Shook had returned to work after a week long vacation where we did all kinds of fun things in Ohio and threw my parents a 40th wedding anniversary party. It was fun and made all kinds of great memories. Never in our wildest dreams did we think that our world would be turned upside down by 3 pm. His employer starting informing people that effective immediately that they were laid off.


A big don't let the door hit you on the way out feeling.

Oh, and by the way, your benefits end today, too.

Even better.

Mike gave me the call as I had just dropped Cameron and Molly off for Vacation Bible School at a friend's church. I was in the car. I had to pull over.

I am comfortable feeling that you know how things turned out. It was a bit of a stressful summer but it also was a great summer where we spent lots of time together as a family. Mr. Shook received a severance package so we weren't destitute. We just had to make a lot of decisions and I don't know that we really second guess any of them.

There really isn't one person or company to blame for what happened. It was a very rough time for the auto industry. Mr. Shook's company filed for bankruptcy and things started to go sour quickly. They probably weren't getting paid for the parts that they were supplying the Big 3 and therefore the little man suffers.

So, if you read my blog yesterday and then have read what I wrote today you will not be surprised to know that I support jobs. And maybe that's what this indoor water park will provide that is really the end result we all should be caring about. From the planning, the building, the running and maintaining, all this will bring jobs. It will create more jobs to keep the traffic in order, it will create more jobs to keep the community still safe, it will create more jobs to support the other new business that will be a direct result of an indoor water park.

And creating more jobs cannot be considered a bad thing. Especially when our country is suffering economically. Maybe we should be very glad that a company like Bass Pro Shops picked central Illinois to open a new store. And maybe we should be glad for the ripple effect that this new mega business will create. Remember to all my Mom friends...the word Target in East Peoria has been thrown around. I've seen many of you salivate, me included! And that means more JOBS!!!

I don't know how I feel about the prospect of this water park. One friend doesn't think that it will ever happen so we don't need to worry about it. Just some food for thought.

And, I am very happy where I am today, 3 years later. I don't wish that kind of phone call on anyone, but thanks for always being a very hard worker, Mr. Shook, and providing for your family. As Father's Day approaches I hope you know how much we appreciate you. And how much we Love You!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bragging rights...

Wow, have I really slacked a bit on the old blogging. I just feel busy all the time yet there are so many things I want to say. Today I thought I'd share some bragging rights...

Hey we live in a really great town or what??!!

I have moved a couple of times and let me tell you, this town is pretty great!

I loved where we lived in Michigan, but thank the good Lord above we didn't have to send our kids to school there. Mr. Shook and I plead ignorance on our house/neighborhood/location choice when we moved to Michigan and a bad decision like that will affect how you decide future plans for your family. I don't think I know anyone from my Michigan Peeps that sends their children to public school there. It's just not what you do.

Bring it forward to 2011 and I am loving not only the Morton Public Schools but the whole stinking town...

Things that I love:

1.) Morton Public Library

It is fantastic and its summer reading program is so fun for the kids. I love how it encourages even beginning readers to excel. We already have our invites to the summer pool party and I believe when Molly met the goal on Monday she was number 210. And school has only been out a month today. I love the Friday Brown Bag series where you can go and have fun and learn at the same time. Two weeks ago the library sponsored Peoria Area Fencers and it was really neat to see. This week it is Mad Science. Something new all the time.

2.) Morton Park District.

What awesome programs that they offer, especially in the summer. My new favorite thing that they do is update the programs, their availability and the daily status of them in inclement weather on Facebook. Brilliant if you ask me.

3.) Our church

The kids and I are really excited for Vacation Bible School to start on the 26th. It is always a good time and the kids learn so much. I can't wait to hear the new songs that go with the curriculum. We appreciate all the hard work that goes in to its success!

4.) Morton Youth Baseball Association

Cameron is liking his coach-pitch league this year. Who wouldn't when their Dad is the coach! But I have been really impressed with Molly's team. When I signed her up for Boys t-ball I really thought that it was the right move and it totally has been. Although she is the only girl in the whole league (!!) her coaches have not treated her any differently and have played her like they would any boy. We are so thankful for that and it has really made her time playing very fun. I will be sure to post some pictures soon. We have found out that our girl is not afraid of much and we applaud that. Molly has 2 more games this season and I know she will miss it when it's over. I also appreciate how well the Youth Baseball Association is ran and I love how up to date they are with technology. Getting text info is a life saver for me!

5.) I love having familiar faces

It is hard to go anywhere in this area and not see somebody you know. We saw Cameron's teacher at 7 am last Saturday running the Tremont Turkey Festival, I see someone almost every time I go to Wal-Mart or Kroger (even if you don't want to!), you always run into someone you know at Dairy Queen, and I know most of my neighbors. Even if we don't do things socially with neidghbors, they still know about our comings and goings. The library and pool are hot spots for seeing friends, too.

And here's what my whole point is about my loving my town. Yes, there is actually a point...

The Morton Economic Development Council requested the Village Board to approve spending $22,000 to do a study on bringing an indoor water park to our town. It is estimated that 1 million visitors will be attracted to our area with the new Bass Pro Shop being built in neighboring East Peoria. While I am all about the number of jobs that the new Bass store will bring to the area I'm not so sure how I feel about an indoor water park. We can make a pros and cons list until the cows come home, but I am really only seeing the cons right now.

- more crime

- more traffic

- more people

Of a town of 17,000 do we really want more crime, traffic and people?

The proposal says that in addition to a water park there could be bowling alley lanes, a miniature golf course, a movie theatre, go karts, batting cages...the list goes on.

Sometimes bigger isn't always better. Some times less is actually more.

I would love to hear the thoughts (pros and cons) of others. What do you think?

Am I missing a great opportunity for regional growth in our area? Do you think there will be less crime, traffic and people?

Now excuse me while I take a huge plunge from my soap box.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Happy Birthday, Baby...

My Baby is FOUR!!!

How did that happen??

Four years ago we received this special blessing...

and now we have this...

A big grown up FOUR!!
And no matter how much you might frustrate your Daddy and me you give the best hugs we have ever had! You are ours and we wouldn't have it any other way.
We love you, Amanda!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

First grade is over!!!...

Here's a picture from the first day of First Grade for Cameron...

And here's a picture from today, the last day of First Grade!!!

Cameron had an awesome first grade year and he learned SO much. He is looking forward to starting summer reading at the library, building some Lego's on rainy days and playing outside. We are sooooo proud of how well he did in school.

Keep up the good work next year, dude!!

And a growth spurt or two this summer wouldn't hurt either.

A face only his mother could love!!!
I love this boy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Kindergarten is over!!!...

This is a picture from our first day of Kindergarten.

This is a picture from today, our last day of Kindergarten!!!

Dear Molly,

You turned 6 years old last week and we could not be prouder of the young lady that you are becoming. You try so hard to be independent, you try so hard with your school work, you try so hard at all that you do. Please keep up the hard work and your diligence. You look so much like Daddy yet remind me of myself so much. We are so blessed to have you in our family. We will always love you!!!

P.S. I sometimes think that you might be the only one to take care of us when we are old. Remember that we liked you best!! (just kidding, Cameron and Amanda!!)

Mom (and Dad)

P.P.S.S. You will be awesome in First Grade!!!

More Kindergarten pictures...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Earning $$...

We had a really fun weekend doing some birthday celebrating...Molly and to come soon as Molly really is having a week long birthday celebration. I'll tell you, she really knows how to do it at 6!!

Wednesday ends our school year here. Both Cameron and Molly have expressed a desire to have a few chores in order to earn some allowance. I think it is a great idea I'm just not sure how to execute it. What have you done for your kids in order for them to earn an allowance? Some of the jobs that I am picturing are things like making their beds, emptying the dishwasher, wiping down their bathroom. Things that are pretty easy but also things that will take more than just 5 minutes. How have you established how much you give your child for an allowance and what do you allow them to spend it on? I struggle with what they should be allowed to buy and what Mike and I should be providing them. They really don't want for much but I don't allow them to get things every time we go to the store. No can do.

Please share with me your ideas and practices...a little hard labor goes a long way, right?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Funny facts...

Is it just me, or do many of us have difficulty sometimes channeling our children's inner interests? Of course, Mr. Shook wants young son to love sports, excel at sports, be a potential major leaguer or NBA super star. Young son has several things against him to achieve in these areas but we won't dwell on that. After all, he is 7.

But, finding one's niche in life can be challenging. It is a well known fact that young son loves, I mean LOVES, his Legos. He can build them into the picture with the directions or he can create a whole new ship/plane/attack fighter, you name it.

But young son seems to have a new interest. I swear it began with the introduction this year to not only money, but coins, who's on them and more importantly who's on the green stuff. So Cameron has taken his interest a bit farther and is fascinated with our United States President's. Lucky us, we found a fun facts book about the US President's at the Book Fair last week. Lucky us, Cameron has a Grandfather who majored in history in college and a Mother who minored in history in college. Score! (Although I can admit that I am a bit rusty on some of the facts. Thank god for Wikipedia. I feel like Michael Scott.)

Soooooo, Oh my.

We have taken the ball and ran with it.

There might be some memorizing going on, too.

After all, it seems very important to know that Charles Fairbanks was Vice President for Theodore Roosevelt.

Or that George Washington's dentures were made out of ivory and animal teeth. But, there is a debate that they were actually wooden. Did you know that??

What ever Cameron's interest lie in we hope to be able to foster them and help him to learn as much as he would like. In the mean time we will probably have all of the President's memorized in order very soon.

And, I was informed by young son that all he needs to complete his money collection is an Andrew Jackson.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A poem for me...

My Mom
by Cameron Shook

My Mom is as pretty as a princess.

My Mom smiles when I am cute.

My Mom takes me to the movies.

My Mom cooks the best chicken sticks.

My Mom is the best at cooking.

Happy Mother's Day Love, Cameron

Dude, this works every time. I love it!
Happy Mother's Day to everyone!!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Prince of the Pond...

Well, it was my Prince's Prince of the Pond week. One might ask, what is that?? You might call it Star of the Week in your neck of the woods but here in our first grade class you are...

Prince of the Pond!

Or Princess if you are a chick.

Here are a few photos from it...

Mr. Tree Frog needed to go some where with you and you needed to take a picture or two of your trip. Cameron was more concerned that everyone see in the one picture that he got to be the CATCHER!! rather than anything about the frog...

Thank you to Baked Blessings for the super cool frog cookies. They were the biggest hit! And tasted delicious as well.

Today was the school picnic and it was fun to get to eat outside on a beautiful (finally!) day. Thank you to our cool Dad for picking up Subway (Mr. Prince's request) and getting there in a timely manner. Impressive, Mr. Shook!