Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

We're home from what I affectionately call "the Southern loop" - the great, not-quite-circular sweep from our home to the homes of the grandparents and back. We slipped in time with three (three!) sets of friends along the way. Our "sweep" looked more like a poorly-thrown pottery pitcher - but I guess that's not really the point!

We started with a few lazy days, which was just what this mama needed. The boys helped grandpa with some work on Uncle J's vintage ride. My boy was under. a. car.  But he thought it was fantastic, and can't wait to do even more work. My girl gets to change the oil on Grandpa's vintage ride next time we are there. I'm sensing a theme, as there's talk of picking up another vintage ride (the very first car I ever drove) as a restoration project. The family that drives vintage together....

While at our first stop, we were able to share a meal with friends who moved away from our area back in the spring. Thankfully, they are just a few hours away - AND near the grandparents- so we get to see them fairly often. We miss them a LOT (and their nieces, too, who we got to see on occasion), but are so happy for their opportunity to grow their respective careers in their new hometown. 

Our next stop - after an across-the-state drive - was meeting my sister at our mom and (step)dad's place. It was just the five of us, as the 'rents were still on their way home from a trip to NOLA!  And next up - Thanksgiving! A table for fourteen, please - with the 'rents and four of the five daughters (and their kids and significant others), it was a wonderfully full house! We met a sweet poodle, Chloe, who needs a new home. I wanted so badly to bring her home with us, but it's just not the right time to add a new, four-legged family member. (If anyone's looking for a 10yo standard poodle, let me know). 

While at our second stop, we connected with friends from home who were on vacation for the holiday week. Our schedules are so busy that we rarely see them outside of school, so it was a treat! It was a party of 8 for putt putt, and the kids were glad to be with friends their own age (they were the only kids at Thanksgiving).  Our kids also helped clean magnolia leaves out of grandma's flower beds and fed the ducks and turtles living in a nearby pond, so we had plenty of ways to #OptOutside on Black Friday. 

The next day, we were on the road again with a detour to see college friends in their new home. They moved in July, and now live close enough that we can make a day trip or stay for the weekend. We stayed for dinner, and then finished the drive home. 

And now, it's our day to "reset" and get ready for a new week. Coming up in just a few days, our boy turns 12! I simply cannot believe it. For today, laundry, groceries, someone has a school project that needs a little bit of attention, and we have to finalize some birthday plans!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

(Re)start your engines!

Hi friends! I think I've still got a few readers left out there ;)

It's time to fire the blog back up! I've got some exciting news. In the past few days, I have been invited to join two (two!!) book launch teams. 

I'll be reading and posting about Brandon Hatmaker's new book, A Mile Wide. I'll also be reading and posting about Raising Grateful Children in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch (of We are THAT Family). 

The timing is peeeerfect! I'll be wrapping up my current group Bible study very soon. I'd been planning on reading All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas (Quinn G. Caldwell) again this year, which I'll still read, but the opportunity to dig into two new books (because I usually get some reading in over the holiday break) is a gift itself!

Oh, yeah - I do still have that stack of "waiting to be read" books. I don't think they'll mind waiting a little longer - though I am currently moving at a pretty speedy pace through For the Love (J Hatmaker). I've heard parts of it will wreck me (which might have also happened when I read 7), so we shall see. 

So excited to share this news - and to keep sharing through blog and social media! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Snippets of my days...

A few photos from the past week or so. I've been camera-happy, it seems!

Look at that cute fox duct tape! It's giving my retro funky flowers a run for the money. Allllmost bought a roll. The green scroll to the left isn't bad, either!

My favorite fall foliage - burning bush. I love how bright these leaves become, and I'm always a little bummed when the leaves are gone. 

Impromptu visit with a friend. We had some adult beverages and heavy (but needed and good) conversation. I treasure these visits, and I'm so happy we are putting time with each other on our calendars! She's a homeschooling mama to many, so it means the world that she makes time for a visit every other week or so!

I should probably have taken the mommy-van on a Costco-and-groceries run, but I still managed to get everything in the trunk. The front of the car had to have room for people after school pick-up!

My favorite store, REI, has decided to close on Black Friday. Now I love them even more. I do not enjoy the holiday shopping chaos. Give me baking or grocery shopping chaos any day ;) 
(image credit, REI)

We visited the Apple Store in the "big city" and I snapped this shot. I wish I had taken a similar image of sleeping bags hanging up on display at REI (which we also visited on that trip). My other family members love this store about as much as I love REI.

Get thee to Costco and purchase a bag (or two). They are delicious. I'm putting this on my Christmas list. Really. 

Yum. And a splash in your coffee isn't a bad idea, either. 

Blueberry cobbler - a late-evening baking whim. Maybe I should have a small business on the side - cookies, cakes, quick breads, etc. I love to bake waaaay too much!

You guys. Santa brought me one of these last Christmas. I am such a "saver" when it comes to fancy dark chocolate treats - it took me months to finish these. I can't decide if I want another one this year or not. I was going to spring for the grown-up chocolate advent calendar, but it has glutinous ingredients. Boo. 

One of our favorite local restaurants serves some of the best breakfast and brunch I've ever had. My favorite is the Benedict- you can make your own, or try the weekend specials. This is my own recreation with a biscuit and my first try at Hollandaise - not too bad, and lessons learned for next time. Also, not the prettiest egg ever, but overall it was good!

Pretty apples, nice lighting. Ahhh, fall..

In other news, I'm hoping to shuffle a few rooms in the house. Big J's office has moved from the "den" - which will become the guest room/mom cave. Don't worry, the den has a door. Miss M's room will go to the former guest room, and her "old" room may get Mr. J as the new occupant. Whichever room is then vacant will hopefully get some use as a craft space while I get some scrap booking caught up. So very far behind, I don't want to talk about it - but I have the supplies just sitting there, and I want to get them caught up and get all of the memorabilia either tucked away or tossed. My goal is to keep the most meaningful items and get rid of things that are truly not important or loved and enjoyed. We will see how it goes, as this (the room-moving more than the scrap booking) is not a solo project! But I'm very excited about the "new" guest room. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The price of perfection

"Falling would have been better. I could have gotten up from a physical fall. But being told that failure must be avoided at all costs kept me from ever getting back up on those monkey bars again." 
- from The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst

That's lesson number two I've learned about the value of letting kids have small failures early on. The first - from Love and Logic - is the actual learning curve of making a mistake and having to deal with the results. Let kids begin with "small" mistake and consequences before they become "big" mistakes and the consequences much more serious. Let them learn how to consider the consequences of making a particular decision. However, I don't know that I've ever read anything that addresses (in quite this way) the emotional aspect of not requiring perfection and "allowing" mistakes quite like the book I'm reading now. 

Perhaps it struck a chord with me because I am a perfectionist to some degree. And sometimes it prevents me from doing what needs to be done, when all I really need to do is take action. Just start somewhere. But I want to start perfectly. Not go back and have to redo. When that might actually be faster than doing nothing at all. There's a huge cost in expecting this of myself - or of my children. 

I'm so thankful I had the opportunity to remind my older child - earlier this afternoon, before I picked up this book and read this passage - that his worth is not in how well or quickly he can master a skill. I don't love him less because he's not a quick study on my old flute from middle school. He may never be able to play it perfectly, but I also reminded him that his scientific mind may allow him to understand how and why the flute works the way it does better than I probably ever will. He has worth to me because he is who he is, not for what he can do. And I can show him just how much by allowing him to make mistakes, and to do so without criticism, but with guidance and love and encouragement. 

I can't tell you how much more lovely his music was to me - and how much more patience I had for being in that moment with him when he was frustrated - when I just let go of the desire for perfection. Yes, I wanted to be the "perfect" parent in that moment. I think I did an ok job. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

It's gonna be okay, Mama

I received compliments on my son's behavior three days in a row last week/weekend. Friday - at the end of Lego camp, from the camp director. Saturday - when we picked him up from a friend's bar mitzvah - from the parents, the lady who was running the photo booth, and a "silent" compliment from the DJ, who was letting Jonah run the DJ booth! Sunday - from the lady who was sitting beside him at church, someone whom I did not know. 
I've got admit, my mama heart has had a little bit of worry about sending him off to a week of Scout Camp for the first time. (I'll also admit that this worry really took me by surprise, as I've had such a great time with him lately and have seen so much growth in him!) Yes, I'm a little worried he might be homesick. I'm more worried that he's hot (it is hotter then normal and SO humid here right now) and hopeful that he's staying hydrated and hasn't lost his towel this year! I'm pretty certain he only took one shower at Cub Scout camp one year, as he came home without his towel! Ew! But those compliments said to me, "You're doing a good job, mama. He's going to be just fine!" 
So thankful for small gestures and encouragement that mean so much!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What are you looking forward to this weekend?

An Instagram friend posted this question today, and I wanted to save my reply by sharing it here. 

Is it bad that I'm looking forward to sending my boy child off to scout camp? Not excited that he will be gone! 😂😉 but for the great time he's going to have! He always comes back a little "older" - and that's just so cool to see. I've had a couple of good conversations with him this week that give me a peek into the young man he's becoming, and it's been wonderful. So exciting to see my kiddos grow into the next stage!

I've seen a bigger boy this week than the one I saw just a few days ago. I've asked him some bigger questions, talked about some deeper topics, and told him I'm ready to hand over some of the choices to him a little at a time. I can see he's growing up, and it's time to let him practice bigger and bigger decisions  before the really big ones come up! I've told him how I'm trying to be a better, more patient and understanding mom.  Car rides with my boy this week have been so, so special. I've let him ride in the front seat (yes - he's growing up!) and without a sister to pick on in the backseat, I've had his attention and he's had mine. Love, love that one-on-one time!

So, what are you looking forward to this weekend? Doesn't have to be "deep" - lets just chat!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Gallery Wall project - part 1

Miss M has always (always!) loved art. Her love of art is a big reason we chose to enroll her (three years ago) in our local charter school that integrates the arts into other areas of study. She has also participated in an art camps and classes in the past, and will do an art and writing camp this summer. Mister J has been at our charter school for two school years now, and tried out an animation class last summer. They have both created some lovely (and to us, pretty impressive) artwork at school, and one of the projects we are tackling this summer is to get some of their artwork framed and hang it up to create a gallery area in our home. 
We purchased a lot of frames yesterday - size and quantity based on my quick measurements of a few pieces. I didn't have 100% success sizing things, and I need to go back for some additional mounting paper and hanging hardware, but I've gotten a good start. 

Carts - plural! - full of frames

Unloaded at home

Left - Miss M's artwork from an art camp; Center - J's 'splatter painting' from this past school year; Right - J's pencil drawing of a diamondback rattlesnake (done in conjuction with study of the American West)

Left - M's cherry blossoms (done in conjunction with a study of Japan); Right - "Help" by M, based on the story of Icarus

Not all of our goodies are from school - or even by the kids.  Left - print of Seattle's Pike Place Market, a gift from my brother- and sister-in-law, previously framed but now in a more substantial frame; Right - M's work from a summer camp a few years ago.
There are several more items to frame, including some larger-format photos we are picking up later today.  I can't wait to put our gallery together ans see all of these things in one place!  I'll try to post pictures when it's all complete!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Settlers of America

On the fourth day, we finished! So much fun! Look for an update from Mr J in the coming days.

June 23, 2105 - update from Mr. J
Catan Settlers of America is a game where you settle in different places as you move west and as you build tracks to deliver goods to the opponents towns. To win, you need to deliver all your goods to the opponents' towns. You can try to stop them from getting to your town by building tracks so that they pay you when they move on your track. There are special cards called development cards that can give you the ability to move a train up to 5 tracks for free no matter how many opponents' tracks you move over. But there can also be other abilities that the cards give you. The winner for game 1 was my mom and the winner of game number 2 was me, Mister J. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Summer projects & a guest blogger!

It's summer! We've been out of school for nearly a week now, and after a quick weekend trip we are settling into our summer routine. A summer camp here, a home project there, and fun and games, too!

I'm also trying to get things back in gear on the blog, with the help of a guest blogger! Mister J - who is now 11.5 years old and just completed 5th grade - will be helping me write posts, starting with a quick rundown of this morning's fun project. (As a reminder, I don't use the names of our family members on the blog; for those of you who know us, please keep this in mind as you comment!)


Hi I am mister J, and this is going to be about a simple way to clean your jewelry and silverware. you need to take a bowl(it doesn't matter what type of bowl) and put tinfoil in the bowl as shown below.  then you heat some water up to a boil but don't put it in yet. you put your silver items in the bowl with tin foil and pour baking soda on it. after that, you pour the hot water in the bowl, wait a minute and the tarnish should be gone!

my mom knew what to do, she just wasn't sure if it was the right thing to do. so we found a video on this blog post.


Thanks to my guest blogger for pitching in today!  Hopefully this is the start of several posts over the summer documenting our projects and progress.  We have a couple of bigger projects in mind, though we are juggling those with camp schedules and other to-dos (for both the parents and kids!).