Saturday, December 24, 2011

joyeux noel

It's Christmas Eve and I am at peace. At ease. In the comfort & joy of our home. It's quiet. Just the 4 of us.  Kelly's mom will join us this afternoon. We are enjoying fresh baked scones & quiche. A pound cake is baking in the oven.

We didn't make the trek to Colorado or Florida this year, which means that we are without our extended family. I wish we together this year, but we are blessed with Natchitoches friends who we love dearly. The kids are filled with anticipation of what they'll find under the Christmas tree tomorrow morning.

The advent candles are on the dining room table, wax dripping down the lavender candlesticks. We are not a family of ritual, but we have participated in celebrating advent during the month of December. We read scripture, light the candles and listen to worship songs that speak of the coming King.

We dream of fried turkey to be enjoyed tomorrow and gumbo this evening. Not to mention the baking pound cake. We've been enjoying egg nog, Shirley Temples, apple cider, hot chocolate and of course, coffee with good cream.

The youngest Spanns will open one gift this evening - which just happens to be pajamas & slippers - they same gift they've received on every single Christmas Eve of their existence. Either they forget and really don't know what is inside the wrapping paper each year, or they just know happy it makes me when they are thrilled to open them each year.

We will visit with friends tomorrow and throughout the next few days. We will continue to exchange gifts, enjoy treats & good drinks and laugh & play. We will celebrate the greatest gift of all. The one who was sent to save us from our wretchedness. Who does so, without making us feel wretched.

Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 16, 2011

this little blog of mine

This blog was born in August of 2006. Claire was 5 years old and ready to start Kindergarten. Nolan was 3 and obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine. Kelly was teaching & coaching and I stayed at home. We lived in Mayer, Minnesota and were ready to embark on a new journey - a move, new jobs, a new life.

Fast forward 5 years, 1200 miles and 341 blog posts: Claire is 10 and in the thick of 5th grade, Nolan is 8 and his obsession is now Star Wars, Kelly is still teaching & coaching (although in a whole new way) and I am working.

We lived the adventure - an in-state move, a temporary out-of-state move, and a long-distance, all the way down south move. We've embraced a new way of life, and truly love where He's taken us.

I like to go back and read posts from years gone by and re-live our journey. This blog has served as a scrapbook, preserving memories. It's been a place for friends and family to keep up with us. It has been a place to reflect and to vent.

Here are few of my favorite posts (in no particular order):

I am a C, I am a C-H, Nevermind... (where I get all deep & stuff)
Psycho (A recap of a 2 days when Kelly was coaching in Kansas City)
Whatever (I need to read this again - as a reminder!)
Backyard Photo Shoot (just because they make me smile)
The Great Room (Because I am still a blog-lover)
Claire Can Cook (It took her a long time to be able to laugh about this)
$3.06 (the best money I ever spent)
A Conversation (boys are funny, even if they're gross)
It's Gonna Be... (another Nolan story)
Family Love (they were so little and cute!)

I have not posted in a while, because I needed to step back. I am a blog-reader myself, and have a list of favorites that I check into regularly. I started to feel like my blog wasn't good enough, funny enough, spiritual enough, crafty enough. I found myself posting the same things here as I did on Facebook, it became old.

But I missed it. So I'm back. I still don't know what it will look like - I'm still figuring it out. But hope you'll still join me for the ride!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What Is?

Claire & I had a little adventure recently. Let me start at the beginning. Claire's all-time fav TV show is Jeopardy!.

Did you know that the official title is spelled with an exclamation mark at the end? So, while I'm excited that it's her favorite show, and I admit that I over-use the beloved excitement mark (that's what Nolan used to call it waaay back in 1st grade), I am just typing it as I see it, people.

Thanks to the miracle that is DVR, she hasn't missed an episode in a year and a half. She's dedicated. So when they advertised that you could take an online test to star on Jeopardy! Kids Week, she knew she couldn't miss it. We registered online and waited a week or two to log in and take the test. It was on a Wednesday at 7pm in November. There happened to be a dozen or so high school football players at our house that evening, but it didn't deter her.

She logged on, took the test and did well (I watched). She missed a few, mostly the pop culture questions.(Should a 10 year old know who Usher is? I'm glad she missed that one.) We were told that if she passed and was selected, we'd find out some time during the next year. If she wasn't selected, we'd never hear back. Duh.

So, imagine my surprise when a week later I received an email stating that not only had she passed, but that she had been selected for an in-person interview, test and mock Jeopardy! game. We would have to travel to Houston for the in-person process. I confirmed our appointment and we counted down the days. Claire's teachers gave her encouragement, support and all kind of books and games she could use to study.

If you know Claire, she is the Cliff Claven of the Spann Fam. She is very smart, but also has the ability to retain trivial (and important) information in that beautiful little head of hers like nobody's business. So she read and studied, but these were things she does for fun anyway. Yes, we tell her that she a nerd, a title she wears proudly.

On November 18th, Claire & I drove to Houston and stayed with the beloved Mrs. Nowalk, Claire's 3rd grade teacher and now friend, enjoyed a lovely dinner out, a trip to Target and went to bed, filled with excitement. Yes, it is thrilling when I get to go to Target!

The next morning we headed to IHOP and ate a ginormous breakfast. Afterwards we headed to the Westin in downtown Houston. We shopped the Galleria a bit and was early for her appointment. When we arrived, we learned the following:

- Over 8,000 kids took the online test, 200 were selected for an in-person interview
- Interviews were taking place that same day in 5 different cities, across the United States, with 40 kids in each city
- Claire's group has 18 kids, 5 were girls and Claire was the youngest of the group

We filled out paperwork, had their photos taken and the kids were taken next door for the process. They were interviewed in a casual, group setting. They were asked how they would spend the money if they won, what they wanted to be when they grew up, that sort of thing. They took a 30 question, written exam, and had 8 seconds to answer each question. Claire said she knew all but 3. They played a mock Jeopardy! game and Claire won her round! They didn't keep a total score, but she said she answered most of the questions - correctly, I might add.

Before we left I got a bit of advice from a teacher at our school, who's husband was on the show a couple of years ago: Have lots of energy! Be outgoing! Have a big personality!

When Claire was done, she and the other kids rejoined their parents. Immediately Claire said, "I think they're going to pick me, I did well and had lots of personality. The other kids... well, they were kind of dull." I love that girl.

So, we wait. We will find out in February if Claire is one of the 15 10-12 year olds selected out of 200 to be on the show. Don't worry, I'll keep you posted!

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention... the week before we left, Claire had 6 (yes six!) teeth pulled and had braces put on. Yeah, I probably should have rescheduled that appointment.

 waiting to go in

 big breakfast - her braces were hurting

 outside the Houston Galleria Westin

where it all happened!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

heavy, man...

wow, i just realized that it's been nearly a month since i've posted. it's not that i haven't had anything blog-worthy to share, quite the opposite! my days and weeks (and obviously months!) have gotten so jam-packed lately! i have a feeling that it will remain that way... at least until june!

beware - this is a photo heavy post (hence the title!)

cotton candy & games at the NCHS A-Fair during Homecoming Week

taking in some Chiefs football! 

Claire & the UNDEFEATED Natchitoches RoadRunners!

More FOOTBALL! Chiefs are 6-2!

fun at Wal-Mart

fooball is fun, but friends make it even better!

just a cute girl...

gobs of candy acquired at an early Halloween celebration!

We're also hosting dinner for the football seniors every Wednesday evening, hosting the coaches after games, visiting the orthodontist, completing major school projects, earning ALL As on the kids' report cards, volunteering at non-profit events, cheering for the Rangers in the World Series and having a lot of fun in the process.

We have a few more interesting and exciting events happening in our lives, but those deserve posts of their own. I now have to detox from the above-mentioned candy! 

Saturday, September 24, 2011


We don't use the word HATE in our house. Or, as the kids get older and certain words have become allowed, we highly discourage the use of the word. It's rather harsh, and we discuss if we REALLY hate something or not. 

This morning a list of things I love, and a few things I don't, are floating around in my mind. Perhaps I should have titled this post something else, but too late, I'm not going back! 


coffee. good coffee.
cool, fall days (they haven't arrived yet, but I'm waiting!)
claire's soccer games
family movie night (we watched her last night)
nolan's full body hugs
authentic mexican food
beautiful fall photos (since I can't see it in real life)
my backyard


coffee without good cream
grocery shopping at the end of the month
washing my new cell phone
lima beans
rude people

I could type plenty more in my hate list, but in the spirit of positivitiy, I will make sure that my LOVE list is longer! Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Happy Fall, Y'all!

It's almost upon us! Fall... Autumn, whatever. It has been a record-breaking scorcher this summer, and we've had a little bit of a break this month. It was still 94 degrees today, but it was a balmy 94. Oh, who am I kidding?! It's still HOT and I'm ready for HOT chocolate weather. {Why is it I drink coffee when it's 110 degrees, but hot chocolate only when it's cold? Things that make you go hmmmm.}

We're rockin and rollin around the here. Football is in full swing, and we've had fun cheering the Chiefs on to victory the last couple of weeks. Claire & Nolan are knee-deep in homework, projects, soccer, AWANA & Running Club - which is to say that I am waist-deep in all the aforementioned endeavors!

I did take the time to do a little DIY on the ol bloggity blog and I hope you catch you up on the more exciting events soon. I am charging my camera batteries as we speak. Lots of memories to capture, so little time.

See you back here soon, but until then - HAPPY FALL, Y'ALL! {There is no escaping it - I am Southern!}

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Picture Day

This past Friday was a special event... Picture Day! School picture day is an annual rite of passage each year. Uniforms are typically required at school, so when they get to wear what they want, it's special! Looking good, guys!

Who's Number #1?

 CHIEFS are #1!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

ready or not...

Today is May 27th. Oh wait, it's not? But today was a school day, and we haven't had summer vacation... What? We did? Oh, I vaguely remember something that resembled summer, but it was awfully short. Hmm.

Today was the first day of school and it was great. All was quiet in my neck of the woods (the office) and Claire & Nolan had a great day. Truly, it's like we never left! I was a little edgy this morning, preparing for the stress of the day, but it was easy peasy rice and cheesy. Just like I like it.

Does anybody know the two big kids pictured below. I think they're in 3rd and 5th grade...

Where has the time gone?

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Last Splash!

Yesterday, we hosted 25 upcoming 3rd and 5th graders for our 2nd Annual LAST SPLASH pool party. We swam, jumped (on the trampoline, and on each other, I'm certain), and snacked to our hearts content. Us moms sat in the shade and tried, unsuccessfully, to stay cool. I was so busy sweating, that I totally forgot to take pictures. Just imagine the scene below, filled with kids, laughter and good times!

Isn't our backyard looking good? We do love it, if we do say so ourselves!

Friday, August 05, 2011


Last weekend, Claire and I ventured south for Girl Scout Camp. It was summer camp at it's finest: we slept in screened cabins with a ceiling fan but no other electricity, we trekked through the mud to our bathrooms, we made traditional Girl Scout crafts like rain sticks and sit-upons, canoed, swam, learned archery, performed in a skit, made up cabin songs and had a great time. It rained during much of our time there, which kept the temperatures down but also kept us wet & covered in mud for most of our stay. Four days was just long enough ("I could not have stayed for a week!" - says Claire) to make new friends and enjoy our camp experience.

 The Cajun Monkeys (their self-coined cabin name)

 Girl Scout Flag Ceremony

 Canoeing with a Daisy (younger girl)

 Mom & Daughter (she still likes having me around!)

 Archery ("I want a bow and arrow for Christmas!")

 Nice Shot!

 Sweet friends, being girls

Until next year!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

tool time!

It's project time at the Spanns! Earlier this summer, we received a beautiful gift...

A 7-foot privacy fence!

The house next door was purchased by the hospital, which is one block behind our house. The building behind the house (you can see it juuuuuust peeking over the fence) is an empty doctor's office. As far as we know, the hospital plans to use the house as housing  - it's currently empty - but may turn it into a billing or admin office eventually. Kelly, being the resourceful gent that he is, called the zoning board to see if the hospital would be responsible for installing a privacy fence, since the property was no longer owned privately.

Turns out, they were already on it! A local construction company installed the fence in a week's time and used the very best materials They even pulled up the old chain-link. The fence runs the length of our property up to the side of our house. The one thing they didn't do however, was gate it off. That is our job.

Kelly purchased the supplies (not quite the top-of-the-line fencing that they had installed, but hey, we're cheap frugal!). They are currently sitting in the backyard, waiting to go up. A table and part of the old chain link fence are keeping Daisy in the backyard. We're nothing if not classy!

We also treated ourselves to a new bed. King size, baby! Memory Foam! Ooooooh yeah...

We made a linen-covered, upholstered headboard, and I am so pleased with the outcome. I scored the linen at 40% off at Jo-Ann's with a coupon and used our noggins and decided on a foam mattress pad and batting for the upholstery.

I am proud of us - especially since we did run into a few minor snags. Just the fact that we didn't threaten to harm each other, well that's success right there! 

I have a few more projects up my sleeve and some other finished ones to share... but I'll save those goodies for another time. After all, I want you to come back! :)

Friday, July 15, 2011


This year, our summer has been spent at home {with the exception of baseball & softball all-star tourneys to thrilling locations like Alexandria and Florien} up until last week. We were able to escape the hustle & bustle (ha!) of Natchitoches and made our way west to League City, Texas. What's in League City you ask? Friends, that's who!

The Spanns invaded upon Holly & Dan's quiet abode where we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. No schedule, beautiful weather, beach day, great restaurants, shopping, swimming, sand volleyball and even a work out or two. 

I didn't take tons of photos... too busy being lazy. But we truly enjoyed ourselves and can't wait to go back! Thanks friends, it was a great summer getaway!