A clean Coopy is a happy Coopy?

Not sure he thinks so. Jumping out of the bathtub is all he can think about, but when it’s all over, he LOVES being swaddled like a little baby. I kinda like it too, little cuddlebug.

Now the next joy is the drying and brushing. May it be over now??? Oh, little Coopy, you’re almost there. He gets extra treats during the whole process. And LOTS of TLC. Why doesn’t it feels as much fun as when I go to the salon to get all coiffed? Hmmmm..

You look mahvelous little Coopy.

We love you to pieces!!!! Now go play.

Cooper’s new outside adventure!

It’s very exciting. Now, Cooper has all of his shots, and he is ready to relieve himself in the wide wide world of grassy areas. Ms. Karen (our dog trainer) came over on Saturday to help us out.

We are all very excited as we listen to her wisdom.

Ok, here we go! Pee pad, we are moving on.
How’s he doing Lovebug?

All these new smells and sights. It’s beyond his comprehension.

Go Coopy!!

Little does he know that a bath is in his future.

Celebrating the end and the beginning

Every weekday of the summer, Tatum worked diligently on Brain Quest. I told her the last day, we’d have a party. She finished on the Friday before first grade, and we all rejoiced.

She wrote a summary of Little Red Riding Hood with the correct punctuation and capital letters. The gingerbread man awarded her a

Brainiac award.

So, now we must celebrate.

I wrote out a few thoughts about PARTY DAY.

First, I wanted to celebrate her big, beautiful heart with a new pair of heart glasses. She had accidentally broken the pair she bought with her own money, so I wanted to reward her patience and great attitude about it.

Then, I wanted to celebrate her growth in writing with a new pencil. Not just any pencil…

(Yes, I was MOOOOOVED by her growth)!
Next, I wanted her to know she is my sunshine and to always remember that.

She can keep smiling now with this bear lip gloss.

I love you, Tatum!

Here’s a little yogurt before we go get a…wait for it…

a new haircut and get her all ready for a new BEGINNING!
Thanks to Brandy for this one.

She sure looks cute and mature.

Her uniform (and all its looks) is now the complete package. Her heart, smile, attitude, and kind words are the foundation from God. The clothing will go perfect now on top of it all.

Dearest Lovebug, I’m so proud of you. You are going to make new friends and grow in your faith and your academics. Your heart continues to grow with the fruits of the spirit. Keep being YOU and allowing the Holy Spirit to shape you.

Go First Grade!

Surprise, Mommy! Welcome home!

When I walked in from my trip from Madison, I was overtaken by streamers and noise makers, my sweet family, and of course little Coopy.

First, let me back up. While I was gone, Tot, Daddy, and Cooper made the best of their time together. Daddy did so much with her to make the time special. He completely outdid himself.

He made nice meals,

and Tatum created her own works of art.

Cooper played of course! Well, he didn’t always play. He did a lot of waiting.

and waiting…. Where’s the mommy?

Meanwhile, the family was plotting a surprise. Tatum even dreamed of what it would be like; this reunion of family. She was at peace and ready for the next day.

And so it was. I flew all day, and when I walked in,

the place was decorated. Balloons, cards, streamers, flowers. They even decorated the table with all of the post-it notes I hid around the house for them to find while I was gone.

More surprises. Daddy took Tatum to Hobby Lobby to find presents.

Tatum really can blow it! In a good way that is.

I felt so completely adored and appreciated. Tatum made me some pictures; she put up a cross for me; and Daddy and Tot gave me love cards.

I don’t like to be away, but this made me want to leave more often. (not really)

The beautiful thing about Doug is that he makes sure I feel completely adored. He’s teaching Tatum the idea of edification and the importance of putting others above ourselves. Also, GRATITUDE> It’s what our family is all about.

I love you, Hays. So good to be home.

Mattering in Madison while Family Matters in Scottsdale

Sometimes I get to leave the nest. It’s not often. But when I do, I sure feel the love. I also learn so much.

This time, I had the honor to attend the Distance Teaching and Learning Conference in Madison, WI to present my paper with my co-author’s Dr. Scott Greenberger and Morgan McNaughton. It was a 2-year endeavor, but we finally got it published in the
Active Learning in Higher Education Journal. So….I got to go; Thanks to my honey taking care of Tot and the Coopster and his loving encouragement.

One of the interesting things that Doug prayed for me is that I would make a difference or meet someone to help. I wasn’t looking to move mountains here or to puff myself up. I merely wanted to just show up, share, and learn. Done. I didn’t know what was in store.

I arrived on Tuesday night late, and what do you know….my view.

I was going to be staying near the capitol?

I would be staying right across the street!

What a blessing. I got to know my driver, a student from the University right next door too. I just listened and asked questions. This is one thing you do: Ask questions and care about the other person. He didn’t need to know about me.

Then, my room….so pretty! I found it funny that they cared about the remote. God knows that I clean it every time I stay somewhere because a study showed it was the dirtiest thing in a hotel. ( I know, I read these things). SO…..there it was. Clean for me. God was looking out for me.

I sent my loves a video hello and I got a cute pic back. My home loves were finding all the hidden notes I left. (Can you even stand this pic???!!!! STOP THE CUTENESS OVERLOAD!!!)

Hee hee. I loved making all these notes. I wanted them to know I love them so much. Tot and Doug. SO GRATEFUL FOR YOU! OH, COOPER TOOOOOO.

Ok, so I had a nice sleep and then the next morning, up and at ’em. Swam a good mile in the indoor pool, walked all over downtown, and I was ready to go.

On the way to my destination, I came upon this little guy. Tried my hand at using the portrait setting on my iPhone. Not bad. He was a reminder of the beauty of the Lord in my day. Be a vessel of hope, Stephanie.

It was funny….I wanted to try cheese curds, but I had no time to go to a shop. What do you know; right there in front of the convention center, God gave me another gift A Farmer’s Market and guess what they had? Cheese curds to sample. Glory be!! I got the full run down from Farmer Bill about how the curds turn into the delicious pepper jack which I had to try as well. Blessings.

When I got to the conference center, another present was present. This view.

I sat and just enjoyed it as I waited for my team.

Here they are!

We have been meeting for two years via ZOOM conference, so to see them face-to-face was a blessing. They invited me to lunch, and I was in. Plus, GCU was paying. Yahoo! Another gift.

Now I know why I came. Scott had gone through a divorce last year, and this answered many questions as to his lack of excitement in our process. He was a different man today. (He also was 1/2 the man as he seem to have lost 100 lbs!) He wanted to know the story of Doug and me. I shared our 4-year affair of friendship and love, and he was hooked. He then shared how he has been in a 7-month relationship. OK….now I get to love on Scott. My turn!

This girl he’s dating…she brought him to the Lord! He is now attending church. WOW! Ok, and what else? I encouraged him to be the MAN and grow HIS relationship with Jesus. That is what she would want. I also gave him some advice and ideas. He soaked it all in, and he thanked me profusely. He’s going to get her a promise ring now and finish out the year with her (date for four seasons). Wow. I felt so grateful I could be there for him. It made me realize why I was there: To be a vessel. I realized my experience with Doug and my relationship with Christ was a WITNESS! OH now I get it! You used me LORD!!!

Then we had our session. It was a roundtable discussion, and afterward, the gang decided to get together for more research. That means I get another opportunity to write with these two. The conversations were so fruitful. I kept thanking the Lord for using me and for humbling me to learn more.

After, I decided to enjoy the weather and sit outside to read.

In Scottsdale, you don’t sit outside to read, right? Unless its November-March.

As I reflect, I feel blessed. I feel honored. I feel so grateful that I can just be smiling, loving, and being. That is God working through me and being a witness; rising above the world’s ways and being a hope. HIS hope. That is what I want my life to be; I will choose to look for the God pokes and the blessings each day.

I’ll be home tomorrow, and as I reflect, I am a newer version of me. More grateful and more focused on the blessings. I love you Lord. I love you, my dear husband. I love you Tatum (My bumby!!!!) ! I love you Coopy!!!!. My cup overfloweth. (Oh, and mom, I love you. Thank you for being my mom and supporting me too).

XO

Final Day of HAA Sedona: Golf and Reunited!

I decided to have a little lap swim, and Tot and Doug went to the gym. They also explored which inspired my honey. I love this about him in that he sees some type of architecture and has a vision of homeyness. This was on the Poco Diablo property.

He also spotted a heron? in their adventures. We long to find more birds as we learn about this together. I can’t wait to get a fancy camera. He’ll be a PRO day 1! Tot will too I’m sure.

Ok, so we hit the golf course for the final HOORAH.

Tot, you look mahhhhhvelous. Stay focused on that ball!

She doesn’t need to stay in the cart! She wants to HIT IT! Go Tot!

My honey is up and he is ready.

Wow! He is looking so good out there. I look forward to our golfing more often. TOGETHER. Now, do you think I want to golf because I love that little ball? NO WAY! It’s because it provides a way for us to enjoy each other in SLO-MO. Golf is NEVER fast, right? You see character out there on the course. Patience. Endurance. Encouragement.

My turn. I do my best, and I know I need MUCH more practice. Well, Honey captures me in action. Good thing you don’t see the result. It goes straight but not too far.

All I know is we will keep on practicing.

We finish up, and we decide to head out.

Cooper is crying out for us to come and get him! So, we decide to head out and pick the little guy up.

We are pretty excited. Cooper has no idea as we spot him.

Reunited!!! I have the feels all over me.

Ok, Tot…. you can have him too.

She is so happy to see him.

Doug was pretty excited too but he is taking the pics.

All I can say is that it was wonderful being all together. I know we might get on each others’ nerves here and there, sure. But, that is FAMILY. We love each other so very much that we can let it out and be ourselves.

I can’t wait until the 3rd HAA. What I do know is that I adore my daughter, I love my husband to pieces, and my little puppy? He’s the bees knees! My little cuddle bag.

HAY FAMILY, I LOVE YOU!

Day 2 HAA Sedona: The Beauty and the Beating

We decided to hit the Broken Arrow trail and head to Chicken Point. It was going to be a bit hot, so we got started around 9:30. (Yes, we were hoping Sedona would be cooler, but it was in the 90’s…oye!)

Tot had the BEST attitude yesterday. Would it be the same? As we began, she found many reasons to notsee the beauty. A bug bugging on her here; a twitch there; a scratch up on her here, a flying something on her there, etc etc etc. I told her to focus on the majesty of our environment gosh doodle! Sheesh! Good lesson in life. If you focus on the obstacles along the path, you’ll never see the destination and you won’t embrace the journey. You’ll see the problems. Ok, I’ll stop waxing eloquent. Let’s get on with this view!


I gave her a job: Look for the rock monuments which are along the path. It means we are going the right way. 

Pressing on, we kept hearing, are we there yet??The consistent answer: ALMOST!!!

Almost is such a great term. It can mean almost in an hour or almost in a second. Covers our bases.

We see the sign for heading to Chicken Point, and we hear the 4-Wheel Jeeps trudging on the rocks. They better know what they are doing!

As we were walking past the jeep, a few passerbys mentioned that we were very close to that panoramic view. Oh, Glory be!

Now as we approach, I’m awestruck with the thought of who could possibly not believe in a Creator? I mean, you see this amazing beautiful red terrain and the glorious mountains surrounding you. What draws people here? Why go through this arduous climb to just go back down? It’s HIM inside of us which we FEEL when we are in the presence of these mountains. Can you explain this to a 6-year old? NOPE. Not until you reach the top.

Very similar to us trusting HIM and our kids trusting us. IT’S ALL WORTH THE HARD WORK of PRESSING ON THROUGH THE PAIN AND SWEAT. 

We arrive and I lose my breath. I gain goosebumps all over my tired and hot body. Well, Tot? What do you think?

We get the full panorama and then decide we better head back. Tatum is in awe.

We definitely were ready to get back to the car when we see a little lizard sunning himself. He sure was doing some major pushups; I’m sure he was paralyzed with the beauty of the view.

Upon arriving to our car for a long water break, we decided to head to the Chapel of the Holy Cross which is such a treat to see. It was built into the rocks about 75 years ago.

We got some great pics along with the rest of the tourists. I love this one because we are all together; a rarity with us since my love is always snapping away.

We got pics from all the views. This one was from the front of the Chapel, and here is Tot and me behind it.

Inside, we lit a candle and prayed. Tatum wanted to know why Jesus was hanging there and I mentioned that as believers we don’t focus on his death, but we focus on his resurrection (the cross that is bare) and the empty tomb. I know Catholics like to have the image of Christ on the cross. It is a good reminder of his sacrifice however.

Ok, now we are hungry, but we figured we’d walk around the downtown area and search out free samples. Haha. Buffalo jerky was first.

For $17, we figured we’d eat a whole buffalo. We tried fudge, olive oils, vinegars, and more chocolates. We also happened upon some musical interludes by Tot.

Time to eat our arms we are so hungry. So we finally hit Chipotle for a nice change, and then we’d head back to our hotel for a round of golf. Did I mention we’d hit McDonald’s AGAIN for some ice cream? Yes, it was a must. Delicioso and not too huge. I think Doug probably could have opted for a larger one. Anyway…back to the hotel!

So, the clouds did look ominous, but we powered through. Yesterday, the few sprinkles didn’t phase us much, so today wouldn’t be so bad.

And then…… Holy cow, it started to not just rain but HAIL! Yes, this is not our golf ball, but a piece of the stuff coming down on our heads.

We started to move a bit faster, and then we booked it back to our room to get under cover. Honey had to carry the clubs. Tot got %$#%& because she fell in the mud. We took a moment outside our room and just watched in awe the beauty of the storm!

We never did make it to the pool because it didn’t ease up, so we had Plan B of game and Shark Tank. It was an amazing day. Absolutely breathtakingly amazingly wonderful.

We found more and more critters to appreciate in the day.

At one point, I squirreled, and it was for not. My randomness was for real.

This little guy welcomed us outside our room.

Another wonderful dinner outside. I love this part! Why? Because we get to evaluate the day, talk about nothing in particular, and be ourselves. T.O.G.E.T.H.E.R.

Amen.