Monday, September 30, 2013

Girls' Weekend - Success!

This is a little late, but just wanted to give a shout out to my mom, my sis, my cousin, and my little girl. 

Y'all know I hate to shop (except for groceries and running clothes, go figure...), but I was really in need of some new clothes, and these ladies spent part of our girls' weekend helping me find some.  Four {four!} pairs of jeans, several tees, tops, & tanks, and even a summer dress (on clearance!) later, I'm well ahead of the game.  Most of y'all are thinking, "Isn't girls' weekend all about shopping?"  Maybe, but not of the "I'm desperate, the seasons are changing and I have no pants" variety.  And besides, we like to eat and then check out the clearance racks at Target.  These ladies took me to the mall! 

And my little girl, well, she is not only growing up into a responsible young lady, but she's got a great sense of style, too.  Not to mention her awesome sense of humor!  We had some awesome mom-and-daughter time on the drive down and back.

It would be a shame if I didn't mention that my husband and son enjoyed their weekend, too.  My son asked me last night if we could have kid-and-parent time every weekend!  Or at least more often :)

I think it's a wonderful idea!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Summer is winding down! (Brain Dump Edition)

I cannot believe that Mister J returns to school in two weeks and Miss M in just 9 days!  This is the part of summer that usually has me getting excited, but I can't start the back-to-school countdown just yet.  You see, M is away at her first spend-the-night - and she got to stay for two nights!  She's been having a ball, which makes me so happy!  Also, I've had some one-on-one time with J.  I think we should make time to do this more often, but somehow we manage to let our "free" weekends get away from us.  They are few and far between, and we often spend time enjoying the simple fact that they are unplanned.  But even a few hours one-on-one would be something to celebrate.  Hmmm...  Food for thought.

I've managed to continue running throughout the summer, and even improve my pace!  I cannot wait for cooler weather - I love to run in the fall and winter.  Actually, I just love to run - which is how I've managed to keep up the routine over the summer (though I did take a bit of a break early on).  I am thankful for the cooler-than-normal summer, and think that's a big reason I've been able to continue running.  I have also reached the point that I don't ditch a run just because my running buddy can't make it.  I'm tackling those mental roadblocks and learning to enjoy being out there even if it's just me.  However, I do have a bit of a physical roadblock - so I'll be taking at least a few days off.  I've managed to deal with (and treat) pain from a tight quad and I've conquered plantar fasciitis, but I've been sidelined because I took a spill on (or rather, off of) a bike yesterday.  Ouch.  Most of the impact was to my elbow and shoulder, but I also have a bruised hip.  I'd love to say I'll be back out there Wednesday morning, but that may be a bit too ambitious.  Darn.

And - surprise! - I've taken a part-time job at our church.  It's 4 mornings a week, and when school is in session it will be during the kids' school day - perfect!  I'll do drop-offs and pick-ups just like always, and I'll be home for homework in the afternoons.  I started about 3 weeks ago, so we've had to do a bit of juggling with camps, transportation, and child care - but thankfully Big J has some flexibility with work and the kids are able to entertain themselves if he is working from home.  I think the transition to the school year may be a bit challenging - I'm used to grocery shopping on Monday mornings, going for a run in the late morning, and spending a day doing laundry.  I know that part of my schedule will necessarily change - and I'll still need to fit in volunteer hours at school on my day off - but I'm certain we'll figure it out.  I have to admit, these first few weeks have left me worn out in the afternoon.  It seems odd to me - because it's an administrative position - that I should be so tired in the afternoons.  Again, another adjustment and I know it'll just take a little time. 

For now, I'm looking forward to getting the last of the school supply shopping complete, meeting the kids' new teachers, and getting back into a routine.  Summer is fun, and I love that we can send our kids to camps that feed their interests, but some of us around here seem to operate better with a routine.  (Um, that would be me and Mister J!)  Also, I love fall.  Jeans weather!  Camping weather!  Running capris weather! 

So, how've you been doing?  What do you love about this time of year?  Or do you prefer summer?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

How One Project Becomes Two

Our microwave quit working about a week ago. We took it to an appliance repair shop hoping for an inexpensive fix that would give us a couple more years, but that wasn't the case. So we spent part of Friday evening and Saturday afternoon looking for a new one. 

While we were out on Friday we did a few other things on our to-do list. Target was one of our stops, and  couple of new outdoor pillows found their way into my shopping cart. Today, I moved our small set of porch furniture from the back porch to the front, tossed on the new pillows, and decided the front door needs a new paint color. (We'll probably want some {more} furniture for the back porch eventually, too.

Porch furniture ca. 2004.  It's help up pretty well!  I like how the new pillows perk it up a bit!
I think the door will be a happy, peacock blue when A) it stops raining, and B) it's cool enough to leave a door open all day for paint to dry. 

And that is how one project quickly became two. (Never mind the imminent master bedroom makeover - I've got a few (small) new pieces on order of that room. They will be here in August, I hope!)

And the rain...

We had big plans to head to the drive-in movie theatre on July 4th. It had been raining all week, and Thursday looked to be our best chance for a clear evening. After a day of off-and-on showers with sun in between, the sky really started to look dark in the afternoon. The drive-in is an hour away, so we really didn't want to risk getting there and then have the movies (always a double feature!) cancelled due to weather. So, we passed on our plans for the drive-in, hopeful for another family-friendly double feature (maybe in the fall?).

The kids were looking forward to popping a big bowl of popcorn (we recently tried and succeeded at popping it on the stove), so we did that anyway and had an indoor picnic and a movie at home (I got the movies from the Redbox just before our big evening shower began). We made three flavors of popcorn and everyone was happy.

{Hmmm, this sounds a lot like our rained-out plans two years ago!}

It's been rainy for several days now - the same on-and-off showers. It's not so bad, I guess, except there's never enough time for the grass to dry out and time to mow. It's starting to get tall!  And it's humid, but thankfully the temps are not too, too warm. 

Today, it was sunny and dry enough for the kids to go to tennis lessons. Big J and I played on a nearby set of courts. Well, "played" might make it sound like we could volley more than about 4 hits in a row - but we still enjoyed the time outside!

As we settled back in at home this evening following a search for a new microwave, the rain started again.  It's really a nice, gentle rain for the most part, but its completely unpredictable. I'm ready for all-day sun again!

{Aside from books, movies, video games, and complete stir-craziness from being indoors, here's something I did with Miss this week. It was fun, and we've even gotten a couple of compliments! M picked my colors - I'd have never chosen these myself, but I really like them!}

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


How is it already July?  The kids have been out of school for close to a month now, and it seems we've barely had a moment to just ... be. 

Don't get me wrong - we have certainly planned for a lot of our busy-ness.  Camps for the kids, home study visits with our social worker as we make progress with our plans to adopt, and some to-dos around the house (due to slacking off during a very busy May and June) were all in our plans.  (And somebody had a birthday!)  Don't think I'm complaining when I say this, but things are just different when the kids are not in school all day.  The hours seem to be more full and to fly by even faster than the days during the school year.  Busy-ness has a way of speeding up the clock, doesn't it?

But along with the, "Whoa, where's the summer going?" feeling, I realize that we really are taking it a little easy on our days "off."  The kids are playing with friends in the neighborhood, they have quiet/reading time in the afternoons (Mister J is making great progress on a book series), and although there are plenty of free/inexpensive opportunities we could take advantage of, I have not rushed us out to any of them.  Not even to sign up for the free summer reading program at one of my favorite local bookstores.  But I have been taking advantage of the library, and may even let the kiddos try out some e-books that they can read via my kindle app. 

I've been participating in an informal book study on A Lineage of Grace, I've had some fun with Flappy Mail, and I'm trying to make some progress on a master bedroom restyle.  (I'm pretty inspired to do some switcheroos in the kitchen/dining/living room, too, but the MBR is first!)  Oh, and then there's the normal "just being an adult" stuff like getting along without a microwave while you ponder the repair/replace dilemma.  *sigh*

Today, for our 'relaxed' day, we have cooked breakfast, emptied/reloaded/run the dishwasher, I let the kids wash the items that could not go/fit into the dishwasher (I was not prepared for the amount of water that found its way out of the sink...), prepared and cleaned up lunch, had some playtime with the neighbors' kids, reading time, and now they are having a bit of screen time before ... before I figure out what's next. 

There's plenty on my to-do list - always is! - but mostly I need to work on a meal plan for this evening (not to mention the rest of the week) and probably do some grocery shopping to round things out (I wish I could find all of my needs and favorites in one store).  I may get the kids in on the meal planning - especially our snack supply for a drive-in movie we'll see later in the week.  (So excited about that - and hoping the weather cooperates!)

How's your first month of summer?  Have you had a moment to catch your breath?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

First Day of Summer Break - 2013

Technically, it's not M's first day of break - last Thursday was her last day - but today was J's first day of break.  To me, it's the first day of summer because the lunch-packing and taxiing about is over for just a little while. 

Today has been such a fun, cool, special day that I wanted to post a quick rundown. 

Here's my Facebook status from mid-afternoon:

Today's Top 5 (and it's not even 5pm):
1) Getting my run in first thing this morning
2) Getting the boy off to camp (big smile from him and no tears from me!)
3) Making orange-mango creamsicles with the girl
4) Chocolate cayenne protein bites in the fridge (recipe from A Foodie Stays Fit)
5) Fun things in the mail from new friends
That's a pretty good start to summer vacation, I think!

I met my best running friend at 6:15am.  It was already warm then, and I've had a short break from running, so today seemed especially hard.  But I was out there and I got the miles in.  And going for a run just makes me feel good!

(I didn't even include the yummy breakfast I made in the top 5.  I did that as soon as I got home - I was hungry!  Bacon, roasted lemon thyme asparagus, and baked eggs.  A one dish meal, and I put some sliced tomatoes on the side.  My husband ate it, but I don't think he's convinced that meal is really 'breakfast.')

(Nor did I mention the three paintings M worked on this morning.  She was so happy to get paints and canvases out!) 

The end of the school year for J meant saying goodbye to J's teacher of the past two years.  I thought I would be a wreck - she is such a treasure, and she loves not just J, but all of us!  I made it through yesterday okay, but figured sending him off to camp this morning would really be hard on my mama heart.  After breakfast and a shower, I dropped him off for his ride to camp (he rode with a couple other boys and their dads/leaders).

M and I spent some time in the kitchen today.  I haven't been in the kitchen for anything besides just regular meals lately, so making some special treats was wonderful!  We took a basic recipe and made our own variation with what we had on hand - that became the creamsicles.  We had fun tasting as we went, deciding how much vanilla we needed and realizing we didn't need all the honey the recipe called for (glad we only added a little at a time!).

A friend of mine from college organizes a fun little "swap" between her Instagram friends called #flappymail.  I'm trying it for the first time, and my goodies came today.  They are just perfect!  I will send my package off pretty soon, and I'm excited for my 'person' to get her package.

And the rest of the day kept on in the same vein.  M and I went to the local running store.  I picked up my new running shoes, a belated Mother's Day gift, and also found a new pair of shoes for M, too (on sale!).
Mizuno Wave Inspire 9

Maggie had a little bummer of a situation to deal with, the result of a misunderstanding, and she was very calm and mature in working through her disappointment and finding the silver lining.  I was so proud of her, and I'm not sure that I can even express to her just how proud.  But I did take my big girl - whose love language is gifts - out for a sweet treat at her favorite local ice cream shop.  As we were headed in for ice cream, we happened to see J's teacher coming out of another store in the shopping center.  We had a brief visit (Maggie had actually called out to her to day hello) before heading into the ice cream shop.  

After that, we headed home to try out our new shoes with a quick dash up the street and back.  Of course, with those speedy new shoes on, M was the fastest!  Our plan is to really break them in at the Popsicle Fun Run tomorrow evening.  

Shortly afterwards, M's fourth tooth fell out!  We knew it wouldn't make it to the weekend :)

And then - then! - we worked together on dinner.  Spaghetti and meatballs (M helped mix and shape the meatballs), a salad (M helped prepare nearly every item), and popsicles for dessert (ones we made earlier in the day; and yes, she had dessert before and after dinner!).  I adjusted the meatball recipe a bit, but started with the basic recipe from The Mom 100 Cookbook.  This cookbook is fantastic!  It was a gift last Christmas, and it's the one I pull out most often right now. The vinaigrette recipes - yum!  The marinated flank steak - tasty!  The chicken tenders - oh, my!  I have even given this one as a gift - I love it that much!

Big J and I enjoyed every bit of dinnertime conversation with our girl this evening.  She is just a riot - and she really has some time to shine while her brother's at camp.  

Then she watched a bit of a hockey game - to the extent of cheering for a particular team - before declaring hockey "violent"!  So then we switched to a show about building tree houses and snuggled a bit on the sofa.  Love her....

Switching gears to the boy at camp - wow, it's different with him gone.  I had the opportunity to go with him, but I am so glad we decided that he should attend solo if possible (we had to find another parent going who would be J's "adult" for the week, which we were able to do).  But this is a time for him to shine, too.  He really needs this chance to just be himself, be responsible, and make his own choices.  Of course, I spent time with him packing, talking about some of the non-negotiable things (like brushing teeth, sunscreen, etc.), and telling him that I know he can do it.  And I tucked a note into his bag when we wasn't looking.  He should find it tomorrow night :)  And we have seen a picture of him with a smile on his face waiting in line for dinner - so that did a mama heart good.

This is an all-over-the-place post, so here's the summary:

What an awesome first day of summer break - for all of us!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Shopping without a meal plan

The list:
Peanut butter
Green apples

The reality:

Not too bad, considering that I can use items I already have to go alongside an entree I purchased for later in the week. Also, I purchased some items to keep in the freezer for quick meals. Still, funny that one short list (and notice I only too one bag in with me...) can blossom once I walk into the store. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Honestly, 2nd ed.

After a low-key morning, I spent the afternoon checking a few things off of my to-do list while I let my kids watch a movie and eat jello and popcorn for dinner.  The big kid just finished EOGs today - and honestly, I'm feeling a little "yeah, whatever..." after a couple of rule-filled, potentially stressful days.  I really think schools put too much emphasis on this, and (I am not a fan of standardized testing, especially for ants-in-the-pants, 3rd grade boys.)

I did redeem this less-than-impressive dinner with some fruit and chicken quesadillas a little later.  And there may or may not have been some chocolate-covered pretzels involved, too. 

At bedtime, we read about Laura and Mary and Carrie and Grace and Ma and Pa having Christmas Dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Boast "By the Shores of Silver Lake" - and then they were both "hungry" again.  How can roast duck made on a coal-buring stove 150+ years ago make them hungry when they won't even eat a roast chicken that I cook present-day?  All joking aside, we have been slowly working our way through the Little House series since our camping vacation last summer.  (It's what M picked, while J picked the Harry Potter series.)  The kids are both enjoying the stories, we get in a little conversation about manners or vocabulary words or history here and there, and I'm enjoying the time to sit with them as we slow down at the end of the day (I read to them at bedtime).  We don't get to it every night, but they miss it when we don't get to read.  Honestly, I do too.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Overheard #48

If you want to be crazy, you're in the right house!
Miss M, almost 7 
(Yes, it's been a long, long while since I've posted.  This one was too good to not share.  And maybe - maybe - I can do better on posting....  It's been a busy month.  Or year.  Or some other long period of time....)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

10k - check!

Just popping in with a quick update to say -

Woohoo!  I did it!  The 10k was yesterday, and I can check it off of my list now!

It was a beautiful day, but 10-15 degrees warmer than any day I've gone running in preparation for this race.  That made it a little harder, especially in miles 3 and 4.  I also didn't do the best job pacing myself (running about 25 seconds per mile faster than usual) - I had lots of butterflies beforehand and the closer it got to race time, the more excited I got.

Still.... I finished 5 minutes faster than my estimated time - which was pretty exciting!

The best part - my family coming to see me!  I got to see them at 4 different points during the race, and my sweet husband even ran with me for a bit of the last mile so he could check in on how I was feeling and give me some encouragement to make it to the end.  And there's nothing like having high fives from your kids or having them run alongside for half a block!

Next up, increasing speed!  I'm running a 5k in May, and I need to set my time goal for that race.  I'll have to go back and look at my old 5k times, my current 5k pace, and figure out a good goal to work towards.  Although I'm not excited about hill repeats and track workouts, I know they are good for me!  And when I reach that goal it will all be worth it!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Big catch-up post in photos

And it's in reverse chronological order, because that's how blogger uploaded them :)

March 2013 - Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet - B&G is the celebration of scouting's birthday, so we ask families to bring desserts to our banquet.  Miss M took pictures of some of the other desserts (a couple of the scouting-themed desserts were made to look like campsites!), but this particular one is mine.  Since B&G happens near my birthday, this is *my* birthday cake, too.  Big J baked it, I frosted it and made the decorations.  And thankfully, Big J made sure I got a piece for dessert :)

I really enjoy trying recipes that I find on food blogs - especially if they involve baking!  For this particular recipe, I was experimenting with a new-to-me ingredient: cardamom.  The blogger suggested buying cardamom in the pods and grinding it yourself - it's less expensive and it's fresher this way.  I realized that I think I sold my tiny coffee grinder in one of our garage sales, so I broke out the mortar and pestle.  Only took a few minutes - and talk about feeling super-accomplished!  (I. Have Made. Cardamom!) {Can you name that movie?}

I've picked up running again - see previous post - and I am loving it more than ever!  10k prep is going great, and I've even logged a few decent solo runs.  This was my run on Valentine's Day - check out that "Love to Run" shirt!  Sometimes I'm so stinkin' happy I just have to take a picture - even if I'm sweaty!

The first weekend of February is destined to be a crazy one for our family.  For the past two years, it's been both Cub Scout Pinewood Derby and Girl Scout Cookie day.  And I've been the cookie mom.  I was so thankful to have the help of three other moms and several girls with the pick-up and sorting this year.  Our troop has 30-ish girls, so we had a LOT of cookies!  And, also thanks to their help, I was able to go to the PWD races, as well - including the leader race!

Mister J participated in the Derby for the 3rd year in a row.  Big J and I are on the committee, and for the first time competed in the Leaders and Parents Race.  Miss M was bummed that she didn't get to make a car, but as it turns out she got to race after all.  One of the boys was out of town, but boys in our troop are able to race cars if they can get someone to race the car for them.  M raced for a scout a rank ahead of her brother, and that car made the championships!  So, we got to race a LOT that day!

Back in December we took a trip to see my dad in FL.  It was *so* nice to have warmer temps for a couple of days.  We had a great visit!  The kids loved hanging out on the screen porch (with a swing!) and playing in the rain.  Take a peek at the bottom of the downspout - the rain had stopped but they still found some running water.  And - if you couldn't tell - they totally posed for this photo.  They are so funny!  (And yes, still in pjs!)

Mister J reading the story of the wise men at our church's Children's Christmas Eve service.

Miss M playing the role of Maggie.  Our children's service allows all children to participate - as readers, characters in the stories of Christmas, animals, angels - everyone can have a part.  It's a really sweet service.

And this is how I've spent several mornings during the fall and winter - at my favorite coffee shop (aka "my office") working on Bible studies, meal plans, and much of the other work of being a mom, wife, and volunteer.  Even in the middle of a busy coffee shop, I find a peace that allows me to focus and tackle my to-do list.  The scone and hot tea don't hurt, either.

One other thing that hasn't made it here with a photo - but I don't want to forget - Miss M lost her first tooth yesterday.  There was some - ahem - drama with it.  She was not content to just let it hang and hang and hang there until it fell out (like another little person who lives here).  She pulled it out even though it hurt and bled.  :)  She's had a LOT of questions about how her new tooth will get here - I am impressed with her curiosity.  And - most charming of all - calls the tooth she lost her "gone tooth."

And one more...  Mister J is at his first spend-the-night birthday party.  Mom is handling it ok, seeing as how it's been a crazy busy week and she's just impressed that she was able to stay awake past 9:15 (unlike last night).  And Miss M is handling it ok, too, since she's controlling the remote and watching what she wants to on Netflix. 

No promises that I'll be back here regularly - or any time soon - life is very full!   I haven't given up on Mom's Magic, but it's taking a back seat to several other things right now.  I'll be back when I can.  Thank you for stopping by!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

8 weeks and counting!

My BRF (best running friend) has convinced me to run a 10k.  It's 8 weeks from today. 

She surprised me, back in December, by helping me run 2 miles non-stop.  I thought I was months and months away from that.  I'd been running intervals on my own and had been struggling - pushing myself too hard - and wearing myself out very quickly.  I was lucky if my workout total was two miles.  Earlier this month, I was convinced that the 10k was within my reach. 

Today, we ran 4.14 miles after a roughly 1 mile walk to warm up.  And honestly, today wasn't a great run.  It was at a time of day I don't normally run, I didn't fuel properly, the air was drier than it's been in several days - blah, bah, blah.  For a host of reasons, it wasn't a great run.  But we got out there, and we did it!  And for me, that feeling of accomplishment - that I got out there, whether it was a great run or not - is the reason I keep going. 

Training for the 10k - the official, we're-using-runner-terms-to-describe-our-workouts kind of training - starts on Monday.  I'm so excited, even though I'm still aching from running today (I told you, it wasn't my best).  I think that's when you know you have found something you love! 

10k, here I come!

Monday, January 7, 2013

One for One

one for one

I know, not a lot of news here lately.  I keep thinking I'll post some pictures from our November photo shoot (where mom takes pics of the kids for our Christmas card), or from Thanksgiving, or Christmas.  I just never seem to get "around to it" any more.  Perhaps I should post more from my phone, now that there's an app for that.  However, this post was too important to ignore.

My friend over at Small Town Joy is working very hard to raise money to adopt a sweet girl who has been with their family since she was only days old.  If you can help, she's holding a One for One fundraiser.  She's asking you to donate $1.  More if you can, of course, but just $1.  And then pray.  And then spread the word.  And there's a little something else special going on, too.  But you've got to hop on over to Small Town Joy to learn more.

Thanks, friends!