21c Museum Hotel

So my parents gave us the best gift for Christmas: a one-night getaway to one of their favorite hotels in Bentonville, 21c Museum Hotel. It’s called 21c because all the art in the hotel is from the 21st century. The company believes contemporary art should be accessible not only to the wealthy, but should be more prevalent in everyone’s lives. They also believe in the revitalization of urban architecture and conservation of resources.

Outdoor art combining urban with natural.

Outdoor art combining urban with natural.

The location in Bentonville is one of 3 in the nation–other locations are in Louisville and Cincinnati. Durham, North Carolina and Lexington, Kentucky are under construction and rumor has it that Oklahoma City may soon be on the list to get one!

I’m no critic, but in my humble opinion, I rate this hotel 5 stars.

Their restaurant, The Hive, was exceptional for both dinner and breakfast

Deeelish, cozy dinner!

Deeelish, cozy dinner!

Complimentary green apple cotton candy at the end of the meal!

Complimentary green apple cotton candy at the end of the meal!

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farm-to-table breakfast

farm-to-table breakfast

hotel service was fantasticlh copy

a “museum hotel, ” contemporary art is everywherem r h

the fitness room was enviable (want this in my home!). I played solitaire on the treadmill screen while I ran!y

An obese Batman cheered me on from above during my bench press.

An obese Batman cheered me on from above during my bench press.

the location was perfect (situated in the town center, next to food trucks and an outdoor ice skating rink)

I'm still dreaming about the crepe I had from Crepes Paulette...an authentic French crepe truck.

I’m still dreaming about the crepe I had from Crepes Paulette…an authentic French crepe truck.

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The original Walton's Five and Dime is a block away.

The original Walton’s Five and Dime is a block away.

Mmm...shakes at the cafe.

Mmm…shakes at the cafe.

beds were oh-so-comfortablee copy

room amenities were perfectg q f

the staff moved iconic green penguins (made from recycled plastic bottles) around the hotel hourly to remind guests to recycle and conserve energyt

and the entire hotel was squeaky clean. Such a unique experience! Thanks, mom and dad! Hope you’ll visit one of these hotels next time you’re in the area.

Grilled Cheese, Andy Warhol and a Family Meeting

Hope you had the best Christmas with family and friends! Here’s a recap of ours:

Christmas Eve service Tuesday night. One of my favorites all year! Joey did a fantastic job leading worship.

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My charismatic boys can’t take a decent picture…

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cLast year we made the mistake of thinking we could pick up dinner after the service, but McDonald’s was the only place open. And we don’t do McDonald’s. So this year, I packed french onion grilled cheese sandwiches for the 4 hr. car ride to Arkansas.

Recipe: French Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Ingredients:

1 yellow onion or 3-5 shallots, thinly sliced

1 T. butter or olive oil

¼ c. white wine (I used chardonnay)

1-2 loaves French bread (depending on how many sandwiches you want to make); We use wheat.

One block yummy, melty cheese (Gruyere, asiago or white cheddar are my favs for this recipe)

Sea salt, pepper and oregano to taste

Directions:

1. In a skillet over low-medium heat, cook onions in butter or oil until they are translucent. Once the onions get soft, add the white wine and seasonings and allow to caramelize.

2. While onions are cooking, grate about ¼ c. cheese per sandwich. Slice the french bread down the middle and lightly brush with butter.

3. In a separate pan (I use a grill pan), place slices of french bread, butter side down. Add grated cheese on top of one half. Then spoon caramelized onions on top of cheese.

4. Place other half of bread on top of sandwich and press down, flattening sandwich. Flip over carefully to brown both sides evenly. Sandwich is finished once cheese is melty and crispy on the sides. YUM!

It’s Christmas morning! We received way too much. It was so fun to watch Finn unwrap gifts this year. He’d exclaim in his sweetest little boy voice, “Wow!” or “Oh Boy!” to each gift’s reveal.

Nana made Finn a stocking to match the rest of us!

Nana made Finn a stocking to match the rest of us!

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Twins!

Twins!

Chad made Finn a wood burned plaque. Blessing indeed.

Chad made Finn a wood burned plaque. Blessing indeed.

Papa and Finn

Papa and Finn

After opening gifts, we had our traditional San Antonio breakfast: pork tamales, southwestern egg scramble and home fries. We love food in this family.

The boys play “Bomb Squad” using their iPhones as devices. The whole family plays Settlers, Quiddler, Wizard, and Taboo throughout the week.i

A few quiet moments on the dock with Jersey.w x photo 4

Too much food. Need some exercise and fresh air. Beautiful walk around the lake in Bella Vista. Saw schools of fish in the creek, a bald eagle, Canadian geese, and two herons.

Went to Crystal Bridges, Bentonville’s modern American Art Museum. This place is incredible! Free admission to the public sponsored by none other than Wal-Mart. They had a new Andy Warhol and gave out bottles of Coca-Cola in its honor.photo 5

One of my parents’ gifts to Joey and I was a night away at their favorite hotel, 21c Museum Hotel, in Bentonville. (New blog post to come on this trip!…seriously one of the coolest places I’ve stayed).l

Today we had a “family meeting.” This was Chad’s idea. He’s like a wise old 76 year old in a 26 year old body. We discussed what we want our family to be about. What kind of people we want to be…to the world and to each other. Here’s what we came up with:

Intentional time together, Fun–games, cards, puzzles, etc., Service–every holiday, we’re going to do a service project of some sort together, Prayer–spending the time we are apart praying for one another, Fitness–staying active as a family: hikes, long walks, swimming, etc., and Honesty–something my family doesn’t particularly struggle with…sometimes we’re too honest with each other.

I’m just so grateful for these people in my life. I believe family is the foundation upon which we build our everyday lives. Whether yours is particularly good or not-so-good, I think we can all be building (or rebuilding, recreating) healthy family relationships…inching us closer to becoming healthy human beings.

Blessings to you.

The Playground

I whimper a little when I drive or run past playgrounds. They aren’t made for kids with wheels and legs that don’t climb stairs or jump on jungle gyms.

J.D. McCarty Center, however, is a playground made for kids like Finn. photo 3 copy

We quit Sooner Start physical therapy…mostly because our therapist quit and we got a new one who wasn’t meeting Finn’s needs. So now Finn will be doing out-patient physical therapy once a week at J.D. McCarty. At least, we hope so. We’re on the waiting list until February.

The waiting room had a huge “toy” on the wall for kids to wheel up to.photo 1 copy

Then the therapist who was performing our initial assessment led us back into a magical “gym” of slides and swings and ball pits made for children with disabilities. photo 4 copy photo 2

Finn had a blast on the platform swing! We are excited to give him new opportunities to become more mobile and we’re hoping to try out all kinds of machines/technology that will help him learn to stand.photo 3

photo 4We also had an occupational therapy assessment…which he passed with flying colors. The therapist was sad he wouldn’t qualify for therapy because she was looking forward to hanging out with him.

When it was time to leave, Finn put the brakes on his wheelchair and pouted his lower lip. He did not want to leave! photo 2 copy

The three of us are looking forward to therapy on the “playground” at J.D. McCarty.

Oh Baby!

Finn’s going to be a big brother! We are pregnant with Armstrong rascal #2.photo 1

Dr. Stanley gave us good news at our 12 week ultrasound on Monday that this little one appears to be healthy thus far. I never once had a “good appointment” while pregnant with Finn. Honestly; just about every appointment I left in tears. I bled continuously from week 6-17, went to the ER twice, found out Finn had Spina Bifida at the gender reveal appointment, was told he had a chest mass shortly after, hydrocephalus in his brain worsened with every ultrasound…the saga continues.

It’s been hard for me to believe everything is just normal and fine this time.photo

I haven’t been physically sick this pregnancy; just hormonal, sensitive, rude and exhausted. Sorry, Joey. Sorry, clients.

Do you know what a miracle it is that we’re walking around, breathing at a steadied pace and functioning efficiently as humans? There are so many miracles that have to take place for a child to be born–much less to be born healthy. And not all parents or children are afforded this miracle. I am so thankful for these everyday wonders this time around. So, so thankful for this gift of life in my tummy.photo 2

I thought I’d be a basket-case with another pregnancy–paranoid and frantic. I admit, it has been challenging not to worry about this child’s health, but the Lord has been so gracious to help me trust His goodness, regardless of the outcome. Finn is disabled…and he’s a rock star. I’ve been tempted to believe I deserve a healthy baby after what happened to Finn. Oh, but this is such deception. I don’t deserve anything. Any good and perfect gift is from God. And I think the “imperfect” gifts are from Him too.

I guess I can choose to fear or to trust. Fear is so much easier, but trusting is so much better.photo-1

Will you pray with us for the health of this child? Due on our 8 year anniversary: June 30th! 🙂 And pray for my personal health to carry it to term? Oh, and for our hearts to be steadfast and not fearful. There is so much risk and uncertainty in having a child–this we are well aware of. Thanks, friends!

King Came Down

Prince

Enthroned in light

Came down to dark

To wail and wiggle in beastly trough.images

 

Dusty sandaled feet

Walk beside men,

Leaving heavenly cloud

For pillow of solid stone.

 

No regal steed,

Mule escorts King

Through palms of praise

Toward dismal fate divine.

 

Royal One

Robed in purple rags;

Abused and bleeding

For our prideful offenses.

 

Criminal cross

Held King of Kings;

My sins now Your own

My heart now Your throne.

Finn’s Chair

We ordered a wheelchair for Finn in July. It rolled across our threshold last week. About three months overdue, but it’s here and we are thankful!

First ride in his jammies

First ride in his jammies

Since August, Finn has been perfecting his wheeling and “moonwalking” and TURNING in the demo wheelchair donated by some ridiculously generous family. photo 2

Daycare tells us that he won’t let his chair out of his sight. If they tuck it away somewhere while he’s filling his pockets with sand on the playground, he’ll yell, “Chair! Chair!” until they bring it back into view. Have you ever seen a child under 2 years of age in a wheelchair? Operating it by himself? It will undoubtedly bring tears to your eyes. Finn is a mighty little man. photo 3

Though the thought of a wheelchair in my home was unfathomable about a year ago, it’s here. Parked in the back corner of our living room. And I don’t hate it. It allows my boy the chance to be independent, naughty and mobile. So I’m thankful for the wheelchair…and for insurance–who though painfully SLOW–has helped provide it for us.

Christmas Giveaway!

As a THANK YOU to my faithful blog followers, I want to offer a giveaway: an autographed hardcover copy of Joey and I’s book, God Loves it When… and Lush Handmade Cosmetics bath bomb and Vanilla Dee-Lite body lotion.

Book Cover

02172Here’s how it works:

1. Click on the conversation bubble at the top right of this post.

2. To post a comment, all you need to provide is your name and email address. It’s easy, and I don’t ever use this info for anything.

3. Tell me one of the favorite gifts you’ve ever received for Christmas. Give as much or as little detail as you want, but I’d love to hear why it was awesome. (One of my favorites was when Joey surprised me with a road bike!)

4. I’ve chosen a number ahead of time. Whomever’s comment lands on that number (second, fifth, twentieth, etc.), wins the giveaway! I’ll ship the gifts to you in time for Christmas!

Feel free to comment as many times as you want to increase your chances. I’ll announce the winner Monday night!

Thanks again for following our family’s journey and joining with us in the joy and the tears.