Riley & I have been exploring Midland and Odessa these last couple of weeks. We have visited the Midland Library, the Sibley Nature Center, the Petroleum Museum, the Museum of the Southwest: the Children's Museum, the Odessa Meteor Crater, & the Midland County Fair.  
Checking out the pump jacks up close at the Petroleum Museum.
Digging up dinosaurs at the Children's Museum.
The weather in Midland has been in the 60s/70s morning & evening, reaching a high in the 90s during the afternoon.  It is dry, slightly windy, and once in a while...a thunderstorm rolls in, bringing a bit of rain with it.  This makes for great weather to play outside in the mornings and take family walks together in the evenings.
Riley showing me how he can climb up the rope ladder all by himself!
Since most of our belongings are in storage, we've had to get creative playing in the apartment when we stay home.  We found a great sensory activity idea on Pinterest.  Use popcorn kernels, rice, or beans in a flat pan as a substrate for digging with construction vehicles - Riley loved it!   
Click on the photo to find the link for more indoor activities!
Riley's had an increased interest in letters and words lately so we also spend a lot of our time reading alphabet books and making letters out of various things.  Our words have been made out of things including his wooden toy snake, food, colored pencils, & pipe cleaners.  The best part is that he initiates all of the letter-making.  He'll show me an S or a P, then ask me to start spelling things for him.  He is also reading the letters & numbers on signs, cars, trucks, & various other things and asking me what they say.  I found a great app for my phone that Riley can practice tracing letters and numbers.  Check out this app and other ABC/123 games here: Tracing ABC, Kids ABC Letters, Kids Connect the Dots.
Pipe cleaner letters of a few of Riley's favorite people.
Our family has recently relocated to Midland, TX.  We are really excited about the new adventures to come our way!  Riley and I have already explored the Sibley Nature Center, Hogan Park, two different libraries, and we have plans to check out the Petroleum Museum and Wildlife Preserve later this week.  On Saturday, Henry & I will begin our serious house hunting...after we check out the County Fair!  
The weather has been in the 60s-70s in the morning and evening, with highs in the 90s...but it's a DRY heat versus the humid heat of Houston.  I am so in love with this weather!!  
Have you ever been to Midland?  What did you think?  What was your favorite thing to see/do?
Last month, Henry & his brother built this wonderful table & chair set for Riley!  I was soooo excited!  I had come across this tutorial awhile ago and couldn't wait for us to have a chance to finally make Riley his very own special place to work, eat, & play.
After Henry & his brother, Dan, did the woodwork, Dan's girlfriend, Suzie, & I painted everything.  I had already decided to paint everything bright, rainbow colors, but was stumped on the table top.  Suzie & I came up with the drizzled paint effect while shaking off some excess in the grass.  We had so much fun!  Then, as a final touch, Riley had to have a part in the making of his furniture with his hand prints.
Of course, the boys tweaked the directions a bit to suit their own needs, but everything worked out just fine in the end!  Now Riley can enjoy eating his lunch while looking out the window, doing crafts, & creating masterpieces with his playdough!
If you would like to make your own table & chairs, check out the directions here: table & chairs
I have become ever so busy lately and have had little time to sew, knit, or post on my blog.  I accepted a new job as an assistant teacher in a 1-3 grade Montessori classroom.  It is only part-time, but the other half of the day is spent doing everything I used to do in a whole day!

Riley is adjusting to a new daycare, everyday going to play with his new friends.  I am adjusting to the new routine and trying to figure out how to prioritize and balance all of the many things in my schedule.  I am slowly getting things figured out but in the meantime, my goal is to set aside time every week for ME and my FAMILY!  

I leave you with a photo from our family outing to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo last weekend.  
Riley had a fantastic time at the Rodeo! He loved the animals, the tractors, the dragon roller coaster ride, & of course - the sundae!
Oh my goodness, that was a busy holiday season!!  Hosting Thanksgiving, my birthday, hosting a Christmas party for my knitting group, teaching a knitting class, making holiday crafts & foods, knitting up a flurry of Christmas gifts, and flying off to Florida....Whew!!!  I'm tired again just thinking about it all!  I am terribly behind on posting a few of our holiday projects but here is a photo collage to enjoy in the meantime!
Happy Holidays!!
~This repost is from November 19th, 2009 and was first found on my old blog which can be found here

~The next National Wear Red Day will be on February 3rd, 2012.

Many people don't know this about me but I have an extra hole in my heart!!  Today is the anniversary of the day I became whole-hearted on November 19th, 2007.  A tiny, umbrella shaped device was placed in my heart to cover the hole and my life was changed immediately.  Last February (Heart Awareness month), I wrote the letter below about my experience so that I could share my story online for national Wear Red Day (2/05/10 next year).

February 3rd, 2009

I grew up thinking I wasn't very good at sports, I was a bit lazy, and I especially hated running. In college, I started having more regular chest pains, especially after exercising. I tried swimming and got out of breath easily. Many different doctors had many different explanations: exercise-induced asthma, old chest injuries, etc. I just learned what I could and couldn't do and got on with life. 

As I got married, moved, bought a house, landed a career, and moved on into the "adult world", I started having more chest pains, usually with stress. With my new adult life came health insurance so I insisted that I find a doctor who could tell me why my chest ached, sometimes so severely it would cause me to gasp in pain. We wanted to start a family but I refused to do so until I knew I was healthy. A simple EKG revealed that something abnormal was going on in my heart. Further testing was required, revealing symptoms that the doctors were very concerned about. I received a phone call that brought my life to a stand-still: the doctors let me know that my heart could have a serious condition that would require surgery very soon but we would do an MRI for more details to narrow down the problem. Upon hearing that something was seriously wrong with my heart, the one organ that seems so vital to our lives and well-being, I became very scared. I was only 26! How could I have a heart defect!? 

Fortunately, the MRI revealed the lesser of the heart defect/disease evils - I had an Atrial Septum Defect - something normally detected at birth (blue babies), but somehow mine was lying hidden until now. This hole in my heart was causing a recirculation of blood, not allowing all of the much needed oxygen to make its way to the rest of my body - hence the many life-long symptoms I had displayed: easily tiring, easily running out of breath, 2 flights of stairs feeling like 4, and oddly -clubbing in my fingernails. My whole life I thought I wasn't very good at sports and that I was lazy - to find out my body had simply had to work around the lack of oxygen was sort of a relief in a weird way.

Ok - now what? We repair my heart as soon as possible. Thanks to modern medicine & a terrific surgeon, my chest was not cracked open (perhaps it was best to wait out those 26 years!) and the almost quarter-sized hole was repaired intravenously, with teeny cameras and tools, in an out-patient procedure and one miserable night in the hospital (I wasn't allowed to turn over and then stand up for HOURS afterwards).

In only a couple of months, my body had quickly responded to being whole-hearted, allowing me to breathe easier (stairs aren't so bad!) and work out harder in the gym - even the fingernail clubbing went away. I came out on the positive end of a heart problem, very lucky indeed!! I am somewhat of a "novelty" as my cardiologist said; my health profile (age, weight, gender, etc) doesn't fit this type of diagnosis very often so he is keen on keeping tabs on how my heart progresses over the years. My husband and I try to be more health-conscious, attempting to eat better and work out more. We are now expecting our first baby and are very happy to know that everything is going well and so far, my heart is still doing great. 

~Franny Zollinger
age 28

11/19/09 - Added note - my heart was GREAT for the pregnancy!  My cardiologist said everything was fine and I shouldn't have anything to worry about. 

11/19/11 - I still have an echo done on my heart and visit the cardiologist once a year.  Everything is still going great!

Learn more:
Well, some of you may be wondering where I have been over the last year.  That is a long story for another day.  Today, I am happy to say that I am looking forward to starting my new blog & website!  I hope to start recording more blogs about the fun adventures that my family does together.  

I am also hoping to start very part-time work selling hand-made goods so keep checking back for updates on my progress!  
Riley helping me check on our butterfly garden.