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!