Sunday, May 30, 2010

Capture the Moment

I recently spoke at a preschool graduation ceremony.  I was honored to have the opportunity, but anxious about what I would say.  I wondered if anyone would really be listening, to be honest.  And of course, I always feel like my greatest moments of inspiration hit when I'm driving - and by the time I can stop, those fleeting moments of brilliance are long gone.  I ended up speaking very briefly about "capturing the moment."

One of the things I have tried to do with my blog is to capture both the ordinary and the extra-special moments in our lives. I've got lots of stories and lots of photos.  The majority of the photos feature my kids - after all, they grow like weeds and change so quickly!  But it's been a long time - a LONG time - since we've had family portraits made.  There's an occasional snapshot of all four of us.  Why?  Aside from the fact that I'm usually the one behind the camera, I don't like how I look  in photos.  And why is that?  Well, because the camera tells the truth - and like most women out there, I don't usually like what it tells me.  (Plus, I don't like my smile since I've gotten braces, but that's another story).  Typically, it takes a darn good reason - like Christmas cards or a request from school - to get a photo of all four of us.

Our last family portraits were made over three years ago.  I feel terrible about that, but after reading this post, I'm resolving to get in the photo more often - even if it's just a snapshot.  Besides that, I'm also resolving to be happy about it.  I can't go back and make up for the moments I missed, but going forward I can do better.

PS - As it turns out, my friend Muffy just took some photos of us two days ago.  I absolutely love them!  And I owe her big time, because I like how I look in these!  Thanks, friend, for capturing the moment!

Miss M (almost 4), Big J, me, Mister J (6 1/2)

Friday, May 28, 2010


It was heartbreaking for me.

On the way to school this morning my son asked me, "Why does that man have his head in the trashcan?"
I knew why, but my mom-instinct wanted to protect him from the truth. The truth was that the man was pulling loaves of day-old bread from the garbage can of a local sandwich shop.

I struggle with how to balance the truth - harsh and heartbreaking as it can be - with protecting him from the realities of the world. If he doesn't know that there are people who aren't as fortunate, will he truly learn what is means to give?

Don't get me wrong.  He knows that there are less-fortunate people.  His Sunday school offering goes to a child sponsored through World Vision.  We participate in food drives and Operation Christmas Child.  But seeing it up close, at his age - I struggle. 

But I want to teach him to be a giver.  So later on today, after the excitement of field day is over, I'll talk with him.  We'll sit face-to-face and I'll tell him the truth.  Frankly, I think it's much better to explain it to him that way than while I'm driving the mommy-van down a city street watching traffic signals and pedestrians.  He needs to hear the truth when neither of us is distracted.  So I'll tell him the truth, and then we'll talk about what we can do to help make the world, at least our corner of it, just a little bit better.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Random Thoughts

It's been lovely in our part of the world this week.  A little warm for my taste, but mostly sunny and nice out.  In fact, I started this post while I was sitting out on my back porch.  My kids were outside, too.  My son was sitting next to me, working on his homework.  My daughter was running about using a toy butterfly net to scoop up grass clippings and put them in a pile to carry down to the curb.  She wasn't asked to gather the clippings, she was just having fun with a project. Aaaaaand pretending the loaded-up net was a giraffe - the filled-up net was the head and the handle was the looong neck!  She's really got a great imagination and is very artistic.  So different from me, and very entertaining! 

It's been a good week.  It started last Saturday when a good friend came over to help me get started on what will (hopefully) be a whole-house project to minimize and organize.  My kitchen has been a much more peaceful place, and I'm looking forward to creating this feeling in the rest of our home.  I must say, though, that even my newly-organized kitchen still looked a little, um, messy when someone (me) forgot to put detergent in the dishwasher.  And didn't realize it until the next mealtime rolled around.  So I had to re-wash a load of dishes while the next round waited patiently by the kitchen sink.  Still, it's a pretty quick fix.  I also cleaned out the fridge today, and I'm thinking about tackling the pantry over the long weekend.  The hardest part for me is avoiding the, "ooh, shiny" syndrome - that is, avoiding distraction so I can complete the project at hand.  There's only one (small) downside to these projects.  I have temporarily given up parking in the garage so that we have a space to store everything until we are ready to have a garage sale. 

Speaking of garage sales, Miss M was playing in the den this afternoon.  She was setting out several items on our ottoman and informed me that she was having a yard sale.  Too cute!  I wonder if she will be as excited when it's time to start paring down the toys.  We sold quite a bit of toys at a garage sale last summer, and I always put a few toys in our church's clothing exchange each year.  Still, the toys are completely out of control.  The good news - if I can't regain control of the toy chaos, Muffy can!  Now if I can just get my parking space back before the worst heat of summer sets in!

We've got just two weeks of school remaining before summer break, and these last weeks are flying by! So of course, we seemed to have hit on a very good nap schedule for Miss M and a good homework strategy for Mister J.  As far as Miss M's naps, she really does still need to nap most days even though she doesn't want to.  Although her new nap schedule eliminates any alone time for me in the afternoons, it's certainly worth it to have this improvement in our routine.  I've been doing most of my work on my laptop, and Miss M has been snuggling with me while I work.  She's never been a big snuggler, so I'm enjoying every minute!  Now that I think about it, maybe over the summer we should institute nap time for everyone! 

Back to that new homework strategy.  After several weeks of struggling to get homework completed, we seem to have figured it all out.  Two weeks in, this new strategy seems to be working pretty well for everyone.  Not just Mister J, but the whole family.  Yes, those rough homework nights were rough on all of us. Of course, this is the last week of homework before school is out for the summer.  At least we'll know how to have a smooth start in the fall!

I have been anxious about the approach of summer break.  As much as I love the freedom of summertime, I also love the routine of the school year.  However, the fun and freedom is getting pretty tempting!  I'm looking forward to the fun things we will do: swimming, going to the movies, summer camps for the kids, daytrips with friends, and (maybe most of all) being able to sleep in if the kids will let me!  While it's tempting to push back bedtime - after all, it's tough to put kids in bed before the sun goes down - I still hope to keep it relatively early so I can preserve some of the evening to spend with Big J.  Maybe even plan some at-home date nights - my favorite kind! 

itty bitty bento

Today was field day for Miss M, and we had to pack  a completely disposable lunch.  I really dislike packing 'throwaways' but made this one a little more Earth-friendly by reusing a container from a purchase last week.  It was the perfect size for a tiny lunch - I didn't figure she'd eat much after playing around in the heat.  She got her usual 1/2 sandwich, some cheese stars, Annie's Cheddar Bunnies with Craisins, and the last of the Cherrybrook Kitchen Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Along with a small bottle of water, this was lunch.  Packing into this smaller container was an enjoyable challenge.  Next time, I'll work towards a more balanced meal (no veggies here!).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Check out this sale!

Hi Friends!  You all know that I'm crazy about our Laptop Lunch boxes, right?  Of course you do.  Which is you aren't surprised that I'm passing along bento news.  I am excited to let you know that there are some great deals going right now on the discontinued "original" bento systems and bundles from Laptop Lunches.  Yes, discontinued, but don't let that worry you.  Accessories will still be available to replace any pieces that might get misplaced (please note, we haven't lost any [knock wood] and the school year's almost over!).  If you want to know the difference between the original and the 2.0, check out my comparison post.  I think the original is still a great option, especially for preschoolers and elementary-aged kids. 

Don't forget to use my discount code - momsmagic - when you go shopping!

Monday, May 24, 2010

I never pack dessert...

I guess I'm relaxing my rules because it's the end of the school year - only 2 1/2 weeks to go!

Today, the kiddos are getting leftover cheese pizza, a simple spinach and cucumber salad, carrot slices, salad dressing/dip in the small container, and a cookie.

I used a Cherrybrook Kitchen mix to make the cookies - the first time I have ever used an allergy-friendly mix for baking. While I enjoy baking from scratch, this mix was so quick and easy! It also made just the right amount - 20 cookies - so we can enjoy them without overindulging or letting any go stale.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Today at church

Even with the distraction of children with coloring pages and crayons, this stood out to me:

Scripture is given to us so it can get up and walk around within us.

I really like this idea - that it's not a momentary thing, and that we aren't always changed instantly. Rather, we let it slowly have an effect. We can take some time to think about why it is meaningful and how we can respond.
It helps me find comfort because I know my journey will not be swift. Instead, it is slow and meandering like the scripture walking around within me.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Jury duty, twitter-style

6:30 am - Needs. Coffee. Zzzzzz.
8:04 am - News truck @ courthouse this am. Hmmmm  (ps, I am officially late according to twitter)
8:12 am - group convo abt American Idol in the jury waiting room. Double zzzz.
9:00 am - Chooses to swear rather than affirm the juror oath (and is surprised by how many choose not to swear on the Bible)
9:05 am - lady w hacking cough behind me. Would it be rude to offer cough drops?
10:07 am - The selection of magazines in the jury room is impressive. Instead, I'm reading a Kathy Reichs book. (think they'll want me if they see I'm reading a book about a serial killer?)
10:23 am - wish I had put my iPod in my bag...
11:14 am - Ok girl-sitting-in-front-of-me, undergarments are meant to stay under your clothing. You aren't even trying. ((averting eyes))
1:11 pm - Enjoying the overcast outdoors before heading back to the stuffy jury room.
1:51 pm - Cleaned out the inbox on my BlackBerry....
2:37 pm - still waiting. Hoping they don't seat a jury now, or folks might have to come back tomorrow. Bright side? Pay increased by $8 for 2nd day
3:11 pm - Just found out that we will be excused in about 5 minutes - woohoo! 

Thankfully, I got a nice, long lunch break that I shared with a good friend, my hubby, and my daughter.  And, I finished my book.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

trying new foods

This post is also linked to Food on Fridays hosted by Ann Kroeker.
I sent a small broccoli "tree" in Mr J's lunch on Tuesday.  It was an experiment.  I really didn't expect that he'd eat it.

yogurt with bananas, crackers, cucumber stars, the lone broccoli tree, ham/turkey/cheese roll-ups, dip for veggies in the lidded container (apologies for the poor cell phone photo quality...)

He ate everything, including the broccoli. On the way home from school he seemed very proud of trying it.  He told me that it wasn't spicy like he thought it would be, then added that he really likes it, "hot, with butter melted on top."

You got it, Mr J!  We'll have some for dinner! 

(We did, and he ate it all!)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mother's Day 2010

I spent my Mother's Day doing what any mother wishes for - resting.  Literally.  We came home after church, had an easy lunch, and then I fell asleep watching Superman with Big J and Mister J (Miss M was napping).  Big J even took the kids out of the house for part of the afternoon so I could enjoy some quiet time of my own.  That evening we had dinner, put the kids to bed, watched a little TV, and I went to bed a little earlier than 'on time' - which I rarely see anymore, anyway. I know it may sound crazy, but it really was a wonderful, perfect-for-me day. 

My sweet kids had insisted that I open my gifts from them early.  I opened my gift from Mister J on Saturday - he insisted - a handprint flower he made at school.  I just love it - I am a sucker for handprint art!  I opened my gift from Miss M when she brought it home from school on Wednesday.  Inside the bag was a cute little basket - made from a strawberry basket with ribbons woven into it.  The tissue stuffed into it should have given it away, but when I said, "What a nice basket!" Miss M didn't tell me to keep going.  I should always know there's a little more to the story when Miss M is involved!

When we were at church on Mother's Day, I saw the mother of one of Miss M's classmates wearing a handmade lapel pin.  I thought, "Oh, I bet her little girl made that for her!" - and still didn't put two and two together.  On Monday, Miss M was playing with the basket and brought me the yellow tissue paper that had been stuffed inside.  There was a gift hidden inside the tissue - a handmade lapel pin very similar to the one worn on Sunday by the mother of Miss M's classmate!  At least it'll make for a cute story to share the next time the mom and I have a chance to visit!

My 'big' gift was something I did on Friday - I went to The Pioneer Woman's book signing!  It was fun to take a little road trip and meet up with grad school classmate S and her friend K for dinner, the book signing, and dessert!

My Mother's Day started on Wednesday and ended on Monday - I don't think a girl could ask to be celebrated any more!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Family fun!

Hi Friends! I'm posting over at Triad SmartyPants today. Hop on over to learn about our experience with geocaching, and how it's great family fun where ever you are! 

(text follows)

Smarty Day Trip: Geocaching

A couple of years ago, some friends introduced me to geocaching. I’d read about it before, but hadn’t experienced it until they invited me to join them on a hunt. My oldest child went along, too, and we both had a great time. I was eager to share the experience with my husband, knowing it was an activity we could enjoy as a family. Pretty soon, I was creating an account on and we were purchasing a handheld GPS receiver.

If you’ve never heard of geocaching, I’m not surprised. Many folks that I encounter have never heard of it before, or if they have heard of it, they only have a vague idea of what it’s all about. Believe it or not, geocaching began ten years ago! The best description that I’ve found comes straight from

Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment

As a family, we are very casual geocachers. When the weather is nice and we know that we have a few free hours, it’s one of several activities we choose from. There’s a little bit of preparation involved, but the payoff is well worth it! I locate some caches in close proximity to one another, use online maps and driving directions to refine our plan, and then upload the cache coordinates to our GPS receiver. Sometimes I also print out a bit of information about the caches such as the size, the level of difficulty, and other notes that might help us as we search. There are now paperless options for geocaching using smart phones and other high tech devices, as well as a family-friendly GPS receiver with preloaded coordinates. I haven’t tried caching with my BlackBerry yet, but I’m definitely going to give it a shot!

Caches are rated by size, terrain, and difficulty as well as a number of other characteristics. When I know that it’s a family excursion, I make sure that I look for larger caches that will hold trade items or travel bugs. My kids love to trade items, but also enjoy searching for items that they will use in these trades. The dollar store is great for this!

As short trips and staycations are becoming more popular, geocaching is a great way to spend time as a family. You really don’t have to go very far to find cache locations – there are 30 within a three mile radius of my home. A quick search of the 27104 ZIP code with a 5-mile radius yields 175 geocaches! If we are going on a trip, sometimes I’ll upload some cache locations near our destination. Then I just grab our geocaching bag – stocked with the GPS, spare batteries, items for trading, a pen, gloves, and bug spray – and we are ready to hunt!

As for finding the caches, well, they are everywhere! I’ve strolled through parks, searched in parking lots, and hiked through the woods. My hunts have taken me to places that I see every day and to places that I’ve never seen before. It’s not just the hunt that’s fun – there’s often something to learn from each geocache. Many caches are placed in specific locations because there’s something to be seen or enjoyed near the location – rivers, historic buildings, and playgrounds are just a few of the examples from caches I’ve found.

For this not-so-outdoorsy girl, geocaching has become one of my favorite outdoor activities. If you are interested in giving geocaching a try, start your adventure at – the go-to site for new and experienced geocachers. Be sure to check out the FAQs and the page about getting started with geocaching!

Have you tried geocaching? If so, tell us about it along with your favorite places for finding caches!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I Got My Picture Taken With Ree!

I was so excited to find out, a couple of weeks ago, that my grad school classmate S had an extra ticket to a book signing that I was hoping to attend.  She kindly offered it to me, and I gladly accepted!  As you may already know, this little getaway was my Mother's Day gift.  And if you don't already know, I took a little roadtrip and went to Ree Drummond's, aka The Pioneer Woman, book signing.

I met S and her friend, K, for dinner and had a great time visiting with them (it was the first time I'd met K).  After dinner we window-shopped as we got lost on the way to moseyed over to the book signing, knowing we'd have a bit of a wait.  We managed to get a great spot to see Ree during the brief Q&A before the signing, so we stood there and visited a little more.  I was caught by surprise when the crowd got a little excited and S told me that Ree was right behind me - 

 but still managed to snap a photo! 

 It was still a few minutes until the Q&A began.  We had the opportunity to submit questions for Ree, but I can never think of anything good until it's too late.  If I could ask Ree anything, I'd ask her what she did in Charlotte on Thursday (she was in town the day before the book signing).

Through the brief Q&A time, Ree seemed funny and self-deprecating - just like she is on her blog!  Ree took a few pictures of the crowd, answered some questions, and even sang for the crowd.

In a couple of hours, it was time to get my cookbook signed.  I took my own tomato-juice spattered copy of The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl

If we hadn't been asked to "open your books to the title page" before we got them signed, she'd have noticed that I was using the dust jacket to mark the recipe I'd used earlier in the week, Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich.  And she might also have seen some of the yummy sandwich juices splattered on that page, too. 

I got a photo with Ree, but I guess I should have checked a mirror before I sat down with Ree.  I'm glad a got a snapshot, but I'm choosing not to post it here.  If you want to see Ree close up, check out S's post on the signing.  Hers photos turned out great!

I can't forget the rest of the evening, which included a little more window-shopping and dessert!   S and K, thanks for including me!

Sunday, May 2, 2010


I wish all pajama sets came with 2 tops and one bottom. Our kids wear long bottoms year round.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Saturday, May 1, 2010


When we were looking for our current home, I found the neighborhood pond quite charming. I find the pond's warm weather residents less so. I encountered these geese one day last week. They didn't seem too concerned that I was on the way to school....
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry