Saturday, June 17, 2017

And, Exhale

Summer has finally started for us. Yesterday was my last day of teaching planning for the year and we now have 9 glorious weeks of not having to go into school!

I'll be frank with you, the last four weeks before summer were ROUGH. In the classroom and out. It felt like everything was on fast forward and that there wasn't enough time to get everything done.

There were some days that my co-teacher and I would look at each other, wide eyed, and wonder how we were going to survive the day. Often we would reach for our secret stash of chocolate and just get through it!

On a side note, if you haven't already, give your child's teacher their favorite treat more than just on Teacher Appreciation Day. Slip them a small pack of chocolates or pick up their favorite Starbucks just because it is a Tuesday. It helps get them through when those days are more manic than sane. And it's not just the sugar that helps, it's the thought!

Then there was regular family and home life. With everything amping up outside of the home it felt like chores got a bit neglected. When our AC died on us in the first real heat wave last week things at the house really went downhill because it was too hot to run the dryer or cook in front of the stove!

Now summer is here and things can be caught up on, including rest. I feel a deep need to just BE with Grace this summer. Play with her, read with her, create with her. Grace just finished kindergarten and I am very aware of how much she will change and grow in the coming months. Sophia will be there too, I'm sure, but since I had Sophia in class this year it doesn't feel as necessary.

We picked a few (random) goals to work on over the summer. I chose two food goals for my picky eaters: 1.) To eat a deli meat sandwich on bread like a normal human being. 2.) To eat a hamburger on a bun like a normal human being.

Not too tough, right?

I decided I was going to learn how to play chess this summer too. I felt like it was something lacking from my education/life experience but it totally overwhelms me. I've bought this book and got an app to help me learn the basics before I start the daunting task of letting Ian teach me/play against me.



Mainly though I'm hoping to get great use out of our neighborhood's swimming pool! I love swimming and being in the water but the kids aren't the most comfortable. Grace finally is out of her floaties and can confidently doggie paddle but she doesn't like putting her face in. Sophia will not get floaties back when her cast is off (she broke her arm!) and Luke just seems terrified in general to leave the stairs, even when we hold him!






Monday, May 1, 2017

Spring!

Spring is here and I am just so so glad.

It reminds me of how much I LOVE HEAT!

Don't get me wrong, it was fun to get to experience actual seasons this year. The Fall was really beautiful and the leaves were still "falling," all the way until Thanksgiving. The leaves were done and it wasn't actually cold until after Christmas.

Then January set in. It was amusing to get to bundle up, experience the (first and only,) snow, and be cold. When February came I was over it! And the cold stayed all the way through March. I was ready to be warm and be outside but, alas, that would not happen until well into April!

Now we are in it and I couldn't be more happy. The kids can play outside, the house smells less stuffy, and we don't have a pile of jackets waiting to be hung up constantly. We can garden, go for walks, and we have great plans for actually getting a grill soon!

The neighborhood pool doesn't open until Memorial Day so that is a bit of an annoyance but we have soccer games, nature walks, and bike rides to get us out in the sunshine until then.

The kids are loving it. They are getting to explore the outdoors (plants! caterpillars! dirt! rocks! pinecones!) and they talk non stop about all of things they want to play outside. The girls love running through the grass, arms thrown open, singing any and all Disney songs. Their current favorite is Moana and Beauty and the Beast.

Meanwhile, Luke can be found picking out his favorite stick, stepping carefully through the grass, talking about "bad guys coming," "volcanoes," and acting out "We're Going on A Bear Hunt."

Summer is still weeks away but I think we are getting a bit of a preview. The locals have told me that this is an unusually warm Spring and that it feels just like an Annapolis Summer! Either way, we will take it! 

Monday, March 27, 2017

New Phases, Snail Mail, and Care Packages

New Phases
Every turn with each of the kids surprises me still. Sometimes I am overjoyed about their new abilities or new interests but sometimes, like this week, I have to grieve a little.

What is it that causes me so much sorrow?

Luke is no longer terrified of the vacuum cleaner or blow dryer.

Why is that such a sad thing, you ask?

Well, for six months now, if I desperately needed a moment of peace, I knew it could be acquired by doing one of two tasks- vacuuming or drying my hair. Simply mention the word and it would send him scurrying to find his siblings in other parts of the house. I could use the loud monstrosities and not have my constant shadow attached to me.

And, not that I'd EVER do something like this (eyeroll,) but if it was one of those impossibly long days I could, just maybe, vacuum then leave said vacuum on while I used the bathroom or started on dinner. It's just an idea.

Well, all of that is no more. Luke up and decided he is curious, not afraid, of those things that once provided me with peace.

Time to vacuum? No, time to vacuum with a two year old as an assistant!

Sigh. All good things come to an end, right?

(let it be known that the word vacuum was a fifth grade spelling word. I remember that. I can't seem to remember that it is one C and two U's. Thank goodness for spellcheck.)

Snail Mail

I love snail mail! Sending and receiving. I made it a mini goal of mine to send more of it out this year.

A timely birthday card.
Little notes and cards telling people that I was thinking of them or why I am thankful for them.

I have a big container of stationary readily available and the girls have taken to writing lots of notes to their friends. This is all really good except for the fact that many of their friends live overseas- which means a traditional stamp just won't cut it.

I love writing letters but I do NOT love visiting the post office.
Can I get an Amen?

I have to visit the post office semi regularly to mail packages with prize books from my Usborne parties or care packages for our overseas friends. I try to prep as much as possible but there is always something I've forgotten to do by the time I get up to the desk.

Care Packages

I think I've said it here before, but I'm going to say it again.

Do you have friends who live overseas? Just for work? Missionaries? Military? PLEASE send them a care package. Like right now!

Care packages were part of the reason we were able to make it for so long overseas. As someone whose love language is GIFTS, knowing that family and friends who were so far away took the time to think of us, shop for us, mail something (even when postage is expensive and post office lines long,) was so helpful!

Think of their birthdays, holidays, or a "just because," package! Think of things that they probably can't get (Valentines' Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, are all holidays that we could not get much for, especially in the way of quintessential candies, treats, or decorations!)

Don't forget to ask your friend what is something they want or need. We always asked for Publix Chili packets, Reece's cups, cough drops, and Ian's favorite type of pen. Easy things!

Involve your little ones in the shopping or packing process! Have them make a picture and pray over the box, that it will be a blessing to those who receive it.

What I'm Reading
Still Life by Dani Pettrey! A new release that I have been looking forward to AND it is set in the Chesapeake Bay area (Baltimore.) Even though I knew that when I read book one I'm now living there! So cool! I now know actual areas and restaurants she mentions!

What I'm Eating
Nothing right now. We just returned from the grocery store and I think Luke and Sophia will need earlier naps than normal. I'm looking forward to a turkey sandwich though!

What I'm Drinking
Reheated coffee. It's not great.

What I'm Listening To
The Rend Collective! Love them! And the kids are listening to Little People Sunday School Songs while they play.



What I'm Drinking
Coffee! It's a mix of a grocery store brand and Trader Joe's Cocoa Coffee.It's not my favorite but it is good!

What I'm Watching




Saturday, March 11, 2017

Book Fairs, Beach Vacations, and Buds and Blooms

This past weekend was one of those blurs. You get ready for bed on Sunday and ask "How is it over? What did we do this weekend? Did I get any rest?" Monday morning dawns and you get back to your routine and it makes you a little sad. Busyness and schedules can do that to you. If you are like me you take a big breath, pray for strength, and drink deeply of your coffee. 

The week was redemptive though. The kids and I had time to just BE. We had Tuesday off and I got to clean, which I actually love to do but so rarely get to clean to the level that I'd like. We had time for board games, outside play, play dates, library story time, and even had a family movie night to kick off a new weekend. Thank goodness.

Book Fair
We've had alot of Book Fair talk in our house lately. First, Grace's school had the normal yearly book fair. I had to let go of my practical side and give her a bit of creative freedom to choose something she really wanted. A neighbor was able to come stay with the sleeping littles and I was able to dash up to her school and surprise her right as she was walking in to the book fair. In the end she chose a DIY journal that included a packet of charm decorations and a squeezable puffy paint packet. We did it right away when she got home and let it dry for several days. She's loved writing in it and, honestly, we've loved reading her responses to some of the journal prompts. 

I put on our preschool's first book fair. It was alot of work and I can't really decide if it was a success or not. I think it earned our school about $100 in books, which doesn't go very far between 5 classrooms! Oh well. I learned alot of lessons about what I will or will not do if I do any more.

Beach Vacations
Ian and I have been talking about family vacation. We realized we have not made this as much of a priority as we should. Our last real vacation was when Grace was four months old and we went to France to visit friends for two weeks. It was an amazing trip and we made so many memories. 

We plan on a beach vacation this year. The kids are at the perfect age to swim and play and last for a longer stretch in the pool and at the beach. it can be a fairly economical trip if you do breakfast in your hotel/rental house and pack your own snacks and lunches for the beach. 

We've begun saving for dinners out and a few activities (putt putt? We haven't tried that with the kids yet, I'm not sure if the girls will get it or not,) by cutting back on our grocery budget a little each week and putting that cash in an envelope. 

I'm hoping it will be a great time and won't feel like a hit to our budget. We love sunshine and the ocean, and, being a Florida girl, I've struggled with the winter season here, even with it being a mild winter!

Buds and Blooms
That being said, we are ready for SPRING! Bring on the sunshine. Bring on the inevitable rain. Bring on gardening and sprouts. Bring on outside playtime!

I am planning out how to fill in our landscaping. When we moved into this house last August we repositioned the pavers in our little front garden and made several different flower bed zones. I planted a few things but mostly left it be since I knew I didn't have a good understanding for how winter effects certain plants.

We have a creek just steps away from our front door and with the unusually warm winter we are expecting a beast of a mosquito season. I've been looking into mosquito repellant plants and am hoping that keeps the swarms of them away.

We have an AC unit that I'd like to mask with a potted garden around it, I'm thinking mainly herbs that I can use in cooking but need to come up with something that has a little more height.

We are also trying to plan how to gate off our front garden. We are in a townhome community which means we only have a small space that is "ours." The rest is public green space which means people can come and go easily. I'd like to have a positionable gate to keep the kids in and others out so that they could play outside more safely. I'm always out there with them but I would like to be able to dash inside to stir dinner or use the bathroom with a better sense of their security.

Favorite Flavors
We found a new stir fry blend that we are enjoying as our vegetable on some nights. I use coconut oil to cook it then put in just a splash of Teriyaki at the end for flavor. Yummy!

What I'm Reading
My loan on Unbroken ran up before I could finish it so I need to check it out again. I was really enjoying it though! Any recommendations for a non fiction that is done through a storytelling method that almost feels like fiction would be appreciated!

What I'm Eating
It's Saturday morning so I am making sausage and eggs for breakfast. We mainly follow the THM eating plan and I love that we can eat yummy things like bacon and sausage!

What I'm Drinking
Coffee! It's a mix of a grocery store brand and Trader Joe's Cocoa Coffee.It's not my favorite but it is good!

What I'm Watching
At this very moment I have Fixer Upper on. We don't usually watch any grown up TV, not even news, when the kids are up, but they are thoroughly distracted upstairs and I am cooking breakfast so it is fine! 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Perfectionism, Errands, and Favorite Flavors

I'm taking a note from Callie (who featured me on her old fashioned blogger link up and then I didn't blog for a month!) and trying to get back into the swing of this regular blogging thing. I'm going to aim for once a week for the rest of the year. Seeing as I didn't make any yearly goals this year (shocking, I know,) this will fill that void!

Perfectionism
It's been a long month of sorting out a work life balance. My perfectionist tendencies mean I want to do things perfectly, executed exactly as I envisioned or not at all. Feeling the stress of working part time as a preschool teacher, part time as an Usborne Books and More consultant, and still having all the responsibilities that I had as a full time stay at home mom, meant that something had to go- my expectations or a job.

Seeing as I didn't want to give up any of my roles, I'm learning to adjust my expectations and, possibly, not dream so big. Is that depressing? Well, it was more freeing for me to say "That goal is too big right now," then to say "I guess I can't do this at all anymore."

Little Readers
I'm all about the books these days- I've always been book and reading crazy but now I get to add the official title of Book Lady to my repertoire. Grace is an above average reader and loves reading to her siblings, especially after a library run. On days that Ian isn't home for bedtime this skill comes in really handy- Grace can start on storytime with Sophia while I put down Luke then return to them to finish up!

Sophia has started All About Reading Level 1, which I can't recommend enough. I LOVE it! If I was ever in a classroom teaching position I would beg the publishing company to make it available for classroom use. It is so easy to use as a parent, just open and go. Grace finished Level 2 a couple of months ago and we have started using All About Spelling Level 1 with her.

Seeing my girls fall in love with books, stories, and reading is a bit of a dream come true and I look forward to the challenge of finding books that inspire them and ignite their imaginations!

Errands with a Toddler 
I'm fairly used to having do my errands and grocery shopping with all three of my children in tow, however, the last couple of weeks has pushed my comfort level to the test. Luke has entered a phase where he despises the car, and he hates even more to leave something he is enjoying. Good times.

Also, disciplining in public is not my favorite thing, though necessary and important! I get about a 60% approval rating from those around me, usually in the form of a head nod or a confirming smile. There are those scathing looks and wrinkled brows that make you not want to keep firm on rules though.

It is entertaining doing errands with Luke as my buddy though. He mostly rides around saying "Hi!" to people. He often tells the cashiers "Thank you!" and before they can respond he follows it up with a "Come!" (You're Welcome!)

He also LOVES Batman right now. He has a little scoot around Batman car that he rides on and several of Ian's old action figures. It entertains me to no end that he loves running around stores singing the theme song "Nuh Nuh Nuh Nuh, Nuh Nuh Nuh Nuh, Batman!" He literally sprints while singing- to make him fly faster, of course.

Favorite Flavors
I am eating alot of Sugar Snap Peas lately. I eat a quarter to half a plate full every day with my lunch. YUM! I'm dreaming about grilling out in the coming months and have been thinking of finding that perfect, go to marinade for chicken. Any suggestions?

New Things
I will start sharing some quick updates of what I'm enjoying or interested in here- when there isn't much to expound on, it can be found here!

What I'm Reading
I just finished reading the entire Harry Potter series. It is so amazing and some excellent storytelling. After getting a recommendation from my co-teacher, I got Unbroken from our library on my Kindle! I have so many fiction pieces I want to read but I am trying to pepper in some non fiction also.

What I'm Drinking
Ian came home from work for lunch today (we love being close to his work!) and poured me a Diet Coke before he left. I'm not a very fast drinker- it's a real problem! So I usually just have a sip or two of his drinks and I'm okay with that. Pregnancies always meant I got better at drinking water, but I've completely derailed and am lucky if I drink 8 oz in a day. I know. It's bad.

What I'm Watching
Nothing, really! I've been reading so much lately that I haven't been watching anything. It's a good thing, too, because I feel like I have run out of good things to watch. We only have Netflix or Amazon Prime (no live TV,) and I think I've gone through just about everything they have to offer over the years. Ian and I did start watching Man in the High Castle on Amazon last month and really enjoy it but it is dark and heavy so alot of days I just want something lighter.




Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Witching Hour

The witching hour doesn't end once they start school, in case you didn't know that.
It just looks different. And sounds different.

There isn't as much crying and gnashing of teeth (though there is some,) but there is an unusually high amount of questions that you just don't have the brain power to answer.

  • Mommy, what would happen if all of the cars just melted onto the road?
  • Mommy, what happens if all of your eyelashes just fell out?
  • Mommy, why would someone tell me that they were good at karate and they weren't? 
  • Mommy, can I say "Oh shucks?" Because I can't say "Oh my God" and you don't really like it if I say "Oh my goodness." So is "Oh, shucks," okay? Like if I said "Oh, shucks, Willamena, (True Story,) but I don't think I can sell you my ice cream today?
I don't know kid. 
I just don't. 

What I do know is that momma wants to watch Fixer Upper and I'm weighing the benefits of watching it over the frustration over not being able to hear over all of the questions!
(The frustration always wins. Only an occasional Pioneer Woman appears on our TV when the kids are awake since they are entranced with Ree and all of her magical abilities.)


Back to the big kid witching hour:

There is a need to be snuggled RIGHT when you have started chopping the onions. And a cuddle shall not be denied.

There is a realization that you didn't get to the tasks you wanted to and a very real possibility that your husband will walk into your home with crumbs on the floor, dinner uncooked, and laundry piled high. If that was just it and the kids were happy I'd say I still had a good day, but no. There are days when all of that stuff is a mess AND the kids are screaming like banshees with crocodile tears rolling down their faces the moment he steps over the threshold.

There is a very good chance that on child will beg to have "alone time," AKA: let me have all of the toys that I want to herself in the name of recharge time, but the moment that the second child is doing anything interesting in the other room she is suddenly charged up, rested, and ready to be "by herself," in the room where her sister was just hanging out.

*Eye Roll*

I'm not saying big kid witching hour is harder or easier than infant witching hour. Just different. Painstakingly different.

So hear me when I say that our routine after school is simple.
1.) Walk in the door.
2.) Drop all of the jackets and bags in one pile.
3.) Herd many small children to the family room where you spread a blanket on the floor.
4.) Throw snacks at them and turn on one "educational," show.
5.) Get you act together as much as possible in the next 23 minutes. Because that's how much TV they can watch with you feeling guilt free.

It's only 2 hours until bedtime after all!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Merry Christmas to You!

Christmas has finally wrapped up for my family and although our decorations will still be up for another week it feels like we are finally moving on to the New Year! We were able to celebrate Christmas with both sides of our family this year, a real treat.

We started off by going to a  Christmas Eve (eve eve,) service on Thursday night.  The church we have been attending for a couple of weeks is a bigger church and they were having something like eight services and you were advised to reserve a seat online. We originally planned on going to a Christ,as Eve service on Saturday afternoon but it was all booked up. Thursday night worked well. I brought a bag full of our amazing interactive Usborne books and the kids stood to sing with us then entertained themselves semi quietly. The girls felt so special to get to hold their own candle then it was over and off to home and bed we went!

Ian's parents flew up from Florida on Christmas Eve. We had dinner (Christmas Eve enchiladas,) and opened the kids' Christmas pajamas after reading the Christmas story from Luke 2. It was neat to see how much more of the story the girls retained this year! The kids went to bed and we wrapped some last minute things and got the stockings and tree ready.






As a side note, we don't really "do santa," with the kids. We say the same thing we say about the costumed characters at Disney- "It's a fun story people like to make believe and have fun with. Isn't that neat? We can pretend too!" But for some reason this year (hmph, being in school and just being in America in general,) It's like the girls have forgotten completely about the whole pretending part. So, we are a bit at a loss how much we push the whole story. They will say "Such and such is pretend but Santa is real! " I've chimed in that it's a story too but they just ignore me completely. So, when we put out cookies (cinnamon rolls because I didn't get around to baking cookies!) they were over excited to see if Santa would come and eat them.


Christmas Day we woke up when Luke woke up (a little before 7,) got coffee brewing, and opened stockings. We took a brief pause to grab Christmas morning Cinnamon Rolls then went on with presents. Considering we stick to the "Something you want, something you need, something to wear (or love!) and something to read," gift guide it sure seemed like we had too much!









We had a Christmas lunch of ham, green beans, corn casserole, and homemade cranberry sauce before we put the kids down for a nap and Ian and I headed out to watch Rogue One (free babysitting!) The evening was spent hanging out as a family and playing with new toys.

Later in the week Ian's parents flew home and the kids and I drove to Nashville to spend New Years with my parents. Ian had to work, sadly, so he could not join. Though I think he is enjoying a few nights of uninterrupted sleep just fine! The drive was LONG but we survived, thanks to an iPad, copious snacks, and some good listening material.



The morning after we arrived we got to celebrate Christmas again with my parents! It was fun to get to see some of the same traditions play out again but with my kiddos. The girls got more Calico Critters things, which they love, and Luke got some Thomas the train things and a tool bench. We had a ham dinner and drove out to see a really neat light display.





Ian and. Did some small presents for each other but since we did just have to replace both Of our seven year old laptops that sort of counted as our gifts. Yay for working technology, which is part of the reason I can blog again!