Every Day I'm Hustling

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Oh my, I have missed you! Yes, you! I have been a crazy woman (more so than normal) and I need this space to come hang out it in...to write...to connect. I miss you, my community. 

I have missed three posts and this one is woefully late. I said in my last post that I wasn't given any excuses...life is hard and busy and we have to give ourselves a break. While I won't give you excuses I will give a couple of reasons. I am worried about what you think and I would hate for you to think I abandoned you. 

Camping at Cougar

Camping at Cougar

The last of swim lessons was last week and those classes took up half of our day. It was great, the kids had fun, but I am happy it is over. And we went straight from swimming lessons to camping for the weekend with a bunch of friends. That was seriously the best. I am not notoriously a good camper, but I had a blast and I don't think I complained once. Then we got home and my mom's cat, whom we all adored, died. She was 16 years old, but saying good-bye is never easy. And then it was my mom's birthday and today it is my mother-in-law's birthday. Life is busy. Oh, and then I am worried about nuclear war. See, there is a lot on my plate! 

Celebrating one Grandma

Celebrating one Grandma

The biggest thing that has taken my time, well besides my children, is a freelance project I have been working on. As much as I love you all, a paycheck is nice once in awhile. In fact I am hustling, I am hustling to make money wherever I can. I am trying to do part time work with freelance writing when I can. And I am opening a little booth in a local vintage shop. I am super excited about that. It will be mainly vintage finds AND it will have some handcrafted items by yours truly (fast craft time) and some of my talented husband's woodwork. I am really giddy about this. 

Why vintage? I have problem shopping, I love vintage finds and I really shouldn't keep all of them. It is crazy because I remember my mother taking me to junk shops, thrift stores, flea markets, etc. as a kid and I HATED it. I didn't want people to think I was poor, which we were. At the time I didn't get the thrill of the hunt and I didn't understand how cool it was to have these things that are a part of our collective past. I just thought they smelled weird and that I may literally die if someone saw me there. Flash forward to me racing to pick up something on the side of the road because I saw on Nextdoor or Craigslist that there was a free pile.  Now my husband is hiding his face while he waits in the car. 

Opportunity is in the eye of the beholder.
— Jen Sincero

I didn't go from hating to loving junk just like that. In my 20s I wore a ton of vintage clothes...as you do in your 20s. I remember there was this awesome thrift store and everything was like 99 cents on certain days. I had the most awesome coats and dresses during that time. And my 30s was filled with working at the church and helping the ladies run the Church Bazaar. So that is when I collected old bowls, vases, and various hankies, table clothes, etc. Then my mom moved back to Oregon and we started junking together and now I have become an addict. 

One of my first jobs when I young was working at a flea market for my grandfather, Papaw, who sold old 501s and old uniforms. It was a pretty run down place, but my Papaw liked doing it and he knew everyone there. I don't remember a ton about it besides eating junk food from the food court area and reading Sweet Valley High books. I do remember walking around and looking at the different booths. It was mesmerizing. 

So I am opening a little booth that may grow into a bigger booth. Who knows what is next? Right now I am just about the hustle. I don't know if it is the time of my life or that I am a stay at home mom or that I am reading You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero (which I LOVE...all the quotes today are from her and I will write about her in another post). But right now I feel the need to make some money. My husband does an amazing job supporting us all and we are soooooo grateful for that, but the truth is one income is hard. Anything I can do to help I am going to do. 

Doubts, fears, and other people’s rules are no match for a heart on a mission
— Jen Sincero

So I am hustling. I am doing things that I love...writing and collecting treasures, all while being with the people I love. This is my baby girl's last year of preschool...I don't want to miss a second of that. And as our son get's older I feel like he needs me around more not less. I am not sure about having it all, but I am going to find some ways that I can have what works best for us. 

So I am sorry I have been neglectful. I am telling you, I need the structure of school even though I will miss my babies immensely and I do love summer so. I need some order and routine. 

On Tuesday I move in to my booth and I will take lots of pictures. 

See you next week! Have a wonderful weekend!

 

 

No Excuses

Here we are again. And this past week was pretty medical emergency free, well minus that urgent care trip for Little Miss because she shoved some old homemade playdough up her nose. We thought she may have it stuck in her sinuses so we had to get a professional to give it a looksy-loo. Besides that just a busy weekend and a busy week full of summer fun. 

I, of course, have a litany of excuses why I am failing miserably at my summer blog schedule. Swim lessons, the garden, trips, errands, chores, kids, the works...you get it. Life, man. But you know what? I am done with excuses. It is just what it is. Life is busy and there is always something to take our time. No excuses are necessary.  Why make excuses? Just live your life.

We spent the weekend camping (ish), crabbing, clamming, and just hanging out. While we were at the beach we had so much fun...I mean, we got hella burnt too, but just so relaxing and rewarding to sit and to just be. 

Beach Rules: Soak up the sun. Ride the waves. Breathe the salty air. Feel the breeze. Build sandcastles. Rest, relax, reflect. Collect seashells. Bare-feet required.
— Anonymous

We are lucky to be about an hour to the coast. But you can't always be at the beach. Maybe you don't live near an ocean or perhaps you don't have the time. 

Here are a few ways to bring beach life to you...

  • Find some water. It doesn't HAVE to be the ocean. Get a kiddie pool, go into the bathtub, find a stream...get around some water. Dip your toes in. 
  • Take it slow. Get on beach time. Being around the sea helps you wind down...replicate that. Just  enjoy the moment. 
  • Have a tropical drink. The Pacific Northwest isn't known for its tropical climate, but come on...a fun tropical cocktail or mocktail makes us all feel beachy. 
  • Seashells, sand, and sun. Get some seashells or some sand...put them in your decor. Add some blues and greens to your palette. Bring the beach to you. Sit in the sun (put on some sunscreen of course) and soak it in.
  • Go barefoot. Kick off those shoes and connect with this world. 

Summer, I love you and I am going to enjoy every last drop of you. 

Enjoy your weekend. 

A Very Special Episode of Posing as Parents

If you grew up (or were alive) during the 1980's you may remember there were lots of "very special" episodes on your favorite tv shows. Those "special" episodes were to have commentary on some social issue or heavy topic. 

Well, I haven't posted on my regular schedule this week and I had a litany of excuses...summer...the littles are only little once...etc, etc, etc. And that is true. All of it. Summer is kicking my booty. I love being with the kids all the time, but we need a schedule AND we are kind of getting on each other's nerves. It happens...even to the best of us. The bottom line is I am knee deep in summer mayhem, bad attitudes, and sleep deprivation. 

Looking up in our front yard.

Looking up in our front yard.

Then the other night we got a call from our neighbor a little after 10pm. I won't share her name to protect the innocent (like the do on Law and Order). And if you know me and know the neighbor just keep it to yourself please.

So this neighbor and our family have been through a lot together. My husband was there (and performed CPR) when her husband died and we have experienced many medical related issues together...hers and ours...and we share all sorts of happy times too.  She is family. And she actually was very sick at the first of the year and we were quite worried, but she is better and her health has been amazing so we were surprised to get a phone call from her for help. 

My husband grabbed the first aid kit and ran next door. 

Then husband texted me to bring rubber gloves.

I walked in our neighbor's door and I cannot describe to you what I saw. It was like a scene out of Dexter. I am 100% not exaggerating. As I walked closer to my husband and our neighbor it got worse.  

She had a cut on her foot and she is on blood thinners and there was blood everywhere. My husband told me to apply pressure to her foot and he left to get the truck to take her to the hospital. She wasn't in any pain and we just chatted until my husband came back.

When he got back he checked her foot and there was no bleeding. Mind you the house looked like a crime scene, but she was no longer bleeding and was doing well.

The problem was that she was giving herself a pedicure and had knicked her foot...when she got up and walked around she bled...that combined with the blood thinners it brought it to the next level of gruesome. 

I made my husband call my mom who is a nurse and they all agreed that the neighbor didn't need to go to the hospital. She had stopped bleeding, there was nothing to stitch up, and she felt fine. She laid on the couch while my husband and I got to work.

Let me tell you a few things about me...I am not good in an immediate crisis...I cry, I freak out, etc. I am really good after something has happened...I can clean, I can bring food, and take care of you...those are my strengths. My husband is the EXACT opposite. He handled the first of this situation and now it was my turn. 

The blood was EVERYWHERE. In the utility room, the kitchen, the living room, and the foyer. It was all over walls, floors, everything. It was a stream so things were covered in blood splatters. My husband and I are not really suited for this kind of scene. We were both pretty woozy, but we couldn't just be like..."Oh you good? Peace out!" We had to clean up for her.

I went home and loaded up on cleaners. My husband went home and got the shampooer. If you would have seen us going back and forth in the night it would have looked quite suspicious. 

Well, we worked HARD cleaning. It was in every nook and cranny in all of those rooms. We had to use a variety of products trying to remove it all. We cleaned for two hours straight. We looked like the team they call in after a murder to clean up. I was soooooo sweaty. My husband looked at me at one point and said, "I have never seen you so sweaty and I saw you after you did a boxing class." It was serious cleaning.

However, we were all laughing so hard. It was so funny the absurdity of it all. We laughing because at first it looked like a murder scene and no one could figure out was happening so each of us had made up different stories...a crime, a poltergeist, a wild animal...I mean the possibilities were endless. 

At the end of the night, she was fine...her house was mostly clean (we aren't professionals) and we had been through something together. I felt like we had been through a war or at least I felt like we were living a part of Reservoir Dogs. 

So why tell you all of this (other than I have to share this, because I am in shock still)? Well, I have to solid takeaways from this ordeal.

  • Be a good neighbor. Being neighbors with someone can be hard. You don't get to choose who you are spending your property lines and basically your life with. But it can also be awesome. I have amazing neighbors and we have been through a lot together. Don't be a good neighbor because of what people might do for you, BUT it doesn't hurt. You never know when you may need an extra hand or a cleaning crew.
  • Don't kill anyone. Seriously there is no way you are getting away with it. Blood splatters everywhere and you can't possibly clean it all. I mean, for moral and legal reasons, also don't kill. But seriously, you won't get away with it.
  • Blood is hard to clean.  If there is blood on something try to clean it immediately, when it dries...you are in trouble. When you spray (or pour) cleaner on the blood it may turn black and make the scene even grosser. Forget sponges and magic erasers...rags are the way to go. 
  • Laugh when it is hard. Holy hell life is freaking hard and relentless and sometimes ugly. Laughter is the best thing you can do to help find the beauty in the situation and sometimes in humanity. Don't think something is funny? Find the funny. It is there. 
  • Have an emergency plan. We thought we had our kids sorted out if something happened, but turns out not all the way. I left my phone for my son, but my husband brought it back to me...there was a lot of confusion on what to do and what was happening. We are looking into getting an old school land line so we can ensure there is always a way to call and get help. Our kids were ready to go to our across the street neighbors. Also, I realized we haven't told our  neighbors our plans that our kids are to go their house...so they can be prepared if two kiddies show up at their doorstep they know why. Oh, make sure your first aid kit has a lot of rubber gloves...lots of them.
  • Be easy on yourself. Our neighbor was embarrassed about what happened? Why? For being human? We are gross and vulnerable creatures. FYI, my mom had to clean up amniotic fluid from our first kid...gross. I have had to clean up after lots of humans...we will make messes and we need to be okay with that. And don't feel bad if you need help. We all do. Be thankful you have someone to call upon. 

Let's look out for one another. Have a great weekend and I will see you back here on Tuesday. 

 

Okay, I Got Distracted

I didn't have the blog up when I usually do AND I am not going to write about organization when you are traveling with children like I said I would do. I am just not feeling it. I will write about it next week, but not today. Today I am just rolling with the day.

At Home Entertainment

At Home Entertainment

Since we got home I have been cleaning, cleaning, and cleaning and buying a lot of groceries. Yep, that is pretty much the extent of it and keeping two kids, two dogs, a fish, and a hubby alive and relatively happy. There have been friends, some sports, swim lessons, etc. But I am in slomo when I can be. 

I think that after a trip it takes me a bit to get my bearings.  We all crave to be in our place with our stuff.  And with nothing to do. The last part seems to be harder to achieve.

Hanging with Handsome

Hanging with Handsome

This summer I am acutely aware of how fleeting the moments are...the good ones and bad ones. This is the only summer with my boy being 9 and my girl being 4. That is almost double digits and Kindergarten kind of summer. I have spoken about it before, but is a hard balance trying to let them grow and wanting these moments to hold onto forever. Each time my boy grabs my hand my heart smiles and aches at the same time. And my girl is sooooooo wound up I try to remember that this time is also precious and I want to honor that spirit and help it grow while keeping my sanity. This is the Summer of Strength I just didn't anticipate the strength would also be with my mama's heart. 

Eat Yo Veggies

Eat Yo Veggies

Well, besides working on not being an emotional nut job mom, I have more to do. Right now we are having a family "reboot" since the trip. Here is what we are trying to focus on...maybe it would work for you as well. 

  • Sleep- Sleep is magic. Our sleep has been jacked, so we are trying to go to bed early (I mean besides me) and we have been sleeping in (besides dad). 
  • Eat Fresh-Eat yo veggies. Our food choices weren't always ideal on the road so we are trying to eat more veggies, more fruit, and less meat. Our garden is going bonkers so that helps. I will admit that our son has been deep in on the box mac and cheese...that is new, but it is also fine...we will make up for it in other ways. 
  • Move Your Body-The kids have activities that get their body moving and they naturally want to play. BUT for mom, I have to work on it. I have started a new work out program that is very slow, but it is a start! I will have to incorporate more movement to have this really be the Summer of Strength. 
  • Read-We are all reading. Taking time to sit and dive into a book. The kids got a ton of screen time on the road and I think they are craving more than electronics right now. 
  • Play/Art/Etc-Be creative. The kids are playing and doing art. My husband and I have been working in the garden and in the yard...just taking time to be. Use your mind in another way. 

Have a great weekend...slow down and enjoy the moments. See you Tuesday where I WILL tell you about best tips for traveling with kiddos. I mean, I probably will. 

The Sky's the Limit

Montana
The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.
— Saint Augustine

We did it! We went to 11 states in 10 days. We (mostly my husband) drove almost 4000 miles. We stayed in 4 hotels (only one was regrettable), 1 motel, and 1 home of our relatives. We saw 20 family members...over half of them were just a happy coincidence that we were staying in the same town at the same time. And we met up with a couple of dear friends. 

It was a crazy adventure. But so worth it. The kids were great. The country was amazing. It was so good to see this land in a different way, talking to different people, experiencing new adventures. 

We got to see things like this. 

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore was really amazing and I didn't think I would be so impressed by it. People from all over the world were there and the park rangers were seriously the nicest. It was a perfect stop. 

Mt Rushmore

But really one of the highlights of the trip was the landscape (not altered by humans). And one of the biggest surprises was the sky. The clouds across this country were amazing. I was mesmerized. As I sat in the passenger seat zooming by on the highway I would just take picture after picture through the bug smeared window. I just wanted to remember how stunning they were. 

I am going to be real, I believe that we are in a trying place as a country right now. There are a lot of scary things happening and there is a lot of "us" and "them" talk. But exploring where we live and who we live with was reassuring. There are a lot more nice people out there than bad.

We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.
— Anais Nin

People are genuinely trying their best and their best may not make a lot of sense to us, but it is where they are. We will not change the state of the world or of our country by building barriers between us, by separating us, or by pitting us against each other. What will make our country stronger is coming together and finding common ground. 

This country is incredible. It is. Look at it! It is so gorgeous and it is filled with so many good, good things. Yes, there is work to do and some of it may be really hard work and we won't see eye to eye, but maybe we can have open minds and open hearts for each other. 

Wyoming

Today look up in the clouds, talk to a stranger, and explore a place you have never been. It is good to shake things up.

See you Thursday and I will give you a run down on what worked well for traveling with kids and what did not.

Have a great day!

 

Road Trippin'

We are about to embark on an epic road trip. We will be going  through 11 states (that is including our own...Oregon). Embarrassingly, at first I thought we were going through 6 states. I have no idea why. Bad at geography? Bad at math? Maybe both. 

Regardless, we are going to a ton states in whirlwind trip. What a fun way to celebrate the 4th of July, by exploring this country! I told my son that this trip would be the life altering...it will simultaneously be the worst and the best. The worst because 3700 miles in a car is challenging, but the best because of all the things he and his sister are going to see and experience. Trips like these are etched in your mind, your heart, and your spirit and they live on in your memories for a lifetime.

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes

I have been searching through Pinterest and everything else I can get my hands on planning for this trip. My husband and I have done similar trips to this one more than a few times. It was a time before iPhones and I didn't have a DVD player in the car. Plus I can sleep for days if someone will just let me, so in the past on road trips, I would just sleep. But with the kids it is a different ballgame. 

Our kids have all sorts of devices to help numb the boredom. I know for a fact we will be breaking our normal screen time allotments by a lot, but the kids are going to want to do something more than just watch it and movies for days. So here is my plan to get us through at least Stage 1 of the trip...getting to Kansas City. 

Pan or Lap Tray?

Pan or Lap Tray?

Road Trip Tips

There are a ton travel tips online. There are plenty tips that I will be trying out on the trip. The baking sheet above is an example of one such tip and it is being transformed into an activity lap tray for the kids.

Here are some other tips...

So many IKEA bags

So many IKEA bags

Storage-The first thing I have been fretting over and considering is storage space. I have a minivan so there is a lot of room, but I am trying to be mindful of how we pack. One thing I did was purchase a ton-o-bags to make sure everything has a home for this crazy trip. IKEA is my best friend this week...so many bags. 

Homemade Jerky

Homemade Jerky

Snacks-I have been trying to load up on healthier treats for the trip so we won't make as many stops along the way. But there are some foods that  just scream "road trip!" Jerky is one of them, so I made a lot a jerky for the trip. Now if we can make it until we hit the road...the jerky supply seems to be quickly dwindling. 

Clean it up supplies

Clean it up supplies

Supplies- I am a mama and we are about to travel accross the USA with kids. I needed some supplies to keep us clean. Putting this stuff together helps the whole family have easy access in case something needs cleaned up. Praying for a puke free trip.

Games and More

Games and More

Surprises-This is the portion of the trip that is best unleashed in small doses. When the kids start going over the deep end I intend to give the angels a new little something to new to work on or play with...the kids don't know I have all of these goodies. For example, these foam flyers are something they can put together in the car and when we stop for a potty break or for a bit of exercise then the kids can have flyer races. 

Let's get building and flying.

Let's get building and flying.

The best things in life are the people you love, the places you go, and the memories you make.
— Unknown Author
Let's roll!

Let's roll!

So we are finishing packing up and getting ready to roll. See you from the road next week!

The Summer of Strength

Running into summer full force.

Running into summer full force.

I know I have said that I love a good theme...for birthdays, for parties, for interior design, whatever it is it is better with a theme. 

This summer has a theme and it is the Summer of Strength. 

Listen, I am strong...I had a hard knock life like the kind Lifetime movies are about, I also carried and gave birth to a 10 pound 12 ounce 23 inch long baby, and I lived with giant tumors forever and was shoveling snow the week before surgery. I am hella strong. BUT I have room to grow.  We all do. 

Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
— A. A. Milne

I want to be stronger. I want a stronger body. I want a stronger mind. I want stronger relationships/friendships/communities.

I want strength. 

I want strength not just for myself, but because I am a mama...it is imperative for me to model a strong body, a kind heart, and the ability to make healthy choices...these are imperative to demonstrate a strong mama to my kiddos.

And there are things that we are helping identify with our children that we want them to work on being stronger. 

We want to help them be stronger readers, stronger writers, strong swimmers...there are things that we want to improve upon, to strengthen, as a family. 

The trick is when you are building your strength or anything really you have to remember that it is more than just building one dimension of yourself. A more holistic view is needed and you need an alignment of the body, mind, and soul. 

Our intention creates our reality.
— Wayne Dyer

How do you do that? 

  • Set your intention...an intention is a purpose or an aim.
  • Be clear and specific about what you want and put it in the world. 

  • Be good to your body...eat healthy, move your body, and get some sleep.

  • Practice gratitude...look at the good and spread that thankfulness.

  • Let it go. Practice like Elsa and "let it go"...put what you want in the world and release it.

Being yourself is strong and beautiful.

Being yourself is strong and beautiful.

Going to work on setting some intentions and on being strong. What are you going to work on?

See you Thursday!

 

Another Chapter

This Face

This Face

Today is the last day of third grade. My son is so sad to see this school year come to a close because of his teacher. He LOVES his teacher...we all do.

Mr. A has been an amazing force of light, happiness, and learning for The Boy.  He made learning fun for our son and the whole class. His energy is infectious, his dedication to his students is awe-inspiring. He has the best ideas for the classroom and for at home so that the learning never stops. I asked him for some ideas to help prevent the summer slide specifically for our son and he gave me a ton of ideas. 

One of the most important traits for us has been his kindness and his open mindedness about all sorts of learners. Mr. A understands that there is not one type of solution for one type of child.

Our son has a learning difference. He is brilliant AND he thinks differently. It doesn't take away from him, it adds to him. The way my son sees the world blows my mind. He is an inventor, an engineer, an artist, a scientist...he is amazing. I tell my friends that I am confident that our boy will change how we look at the world...he will do great things. 

Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.
— Stephen Covey

In the meantime, it may be hard for him. School doesn't come easy. He has to work extra hard. Our boy is one of the kindest souls I know and one of the most sensitive. School isn't set up for how he learns...it is set up for the many. That can be hard. Luckily we have a great team of people who help him learn the way that works best for him. 

Recently there was a school activity that my husband and I had an issue with because it dealt with equity and accessibility. (Yep, we are those parents...I cannot keep my opinions to myself especially with issues that deal with exclusion of any type.) And the moment I expressed our concerns to Mr. A he was considerate, generous, and apologetic. It was a view he hadn't thought about. He is not afraid to learn along with the students and with us, the parents. He is a true partner. I know why my son is devastated to move on.  

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.
— Henry Adams

I told my son that there are teachers in your life that change you, that move you, that forever alter who you are as a person...this teacher was one of those teachers. 

Mr. A-The Super Star

Mr. A-The Super Star

He brought food to our family when I had a health scare, he came over and worked in the shop on classroom furniture with my husband, and he adores our dog. My favorite story about Mr. A was that he came to our boy's birthday party (which is pretty awesome in of itself) and all of the children jumped and screamed like they had seen their favorite pop star. It was the best thing ever. 

Needless to say, we end this year with a full and thankful heart.

And "hello" summer! We are coming for you!

 

 

.

 


 

 

Cool it Now

Holy hell it is hot lately and this summer's forecast is set to be filled with record breaking highs. It certainly doesn't help that my internal thermometer is out of whack...that is a story for another day. Regardless it is hot.

It's how hot?

It's how hot?

I have been in Oregon a long time and it use be that it didn't really matter if you had air conditioning or not. It only got hot a few times a year. That is no longer the case.

We don't have air conditioning in our home. We usually put a window unit in our room and we have a downstairs that stays cool, but it is definitely something that is on the "to do" list.  

In the meantime we will take direction from New Edition and "Cool it Now." (I loved this song so much when I was my son's age.)

What are some ways you chill when the weather gets hot?

Here are some ways we cool down...other than black out curtains, ceiling fans, etc. 

  • Eat cool food-Put away that beef stroganoff, mom. Seriously my mom likes to make hot food on hot days...it has become a running joke in the family. But have a salad, cool spring rolls, lettuce tacos, smoothie, etc. Or have a snow cone or ice cream if that is more your style. 
  • Make a splash-Get in that water! Go to the pool, the river, or break out the kiddie pool. Or Super Soakers anyone?  Or you can do what my Mema did, which works so well it is disturbing, she always had a cool, damp washcloth on her neck. That is right, I am turning into my grandma!
  • The entertainer-You may or may not have air conditioning, but other places definitely do and you can go enjoy them...bowling alleys, movie theaters, the mall, restaurants, etc.
  • A change of scenery-Go to the river, the beach, the mountain, go wherever you can in your area. Any caves to explore? Is there a forest to look around? Move around to find a cooler place. 

Okay, trying to cool it now. I also accidentally fell down a rabbit's hole diving deep in on New Edition research...onto Bobby Brown next. 

See you Thursday!

 

 

Making Space

You may/may not have noticed I am not posting on my "typical" schedule...Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Wellllllll, I am making a shift. Little Miss is out of school for summer and The Boy will be done soon so I am trying to make some choices.

Last day of school.

Last day of school.

I am streamlining the blog to come out Tuesday and Thursday for the summer. This helps me focus on the kids when I am with the kids and focus time on the blog in smaller chunks for summer.  Do you ever have the need to make space for things in your life?

We recently started just going through the house and getting rid of STUFF...some times you just have to clear it all out. Literally and metaphorically.  It is the best. It frees you up for so many possibilities when you get rid of the junk.

Make space in your life, space for health and happiness.
— Kris Carr
Our summer.

Our summer.

Our summer is full of all sorts of activities. But some of the activities aren't written out or fit nicely on my CSI style calendars. Some things just happen naturally. 

Habitat study.

Habitat study.

Shhh. Be vewy vewy quiet, I’m hunting wabbits.
— Elmer Fudd

For instance, I don't have "trap rabbits" on my lists, but here we are. My son is studying habitats to try to catch a pet rabbit. Look, I know this may not be a wonderful idea, but I am committed to the process with him.

We have to make space for surprises.

Make space for adventures.

Make space for learning.

Make space for each other.

This summer we are making some space. 

So I will see you here on Tuesdays and Thursdays!

Plans Change

Playing where we can

Playing where we can

Well, I usually post on Monday mornings. It is Monday night and I am just now sitting down to a computer. We had a crazy busy weekend. A dinner party for 21 people, had to buy a new dishwasher (that is right, the dishwasher broke BEFORE the dinner party...that is a lot of hand washing)  a 40th birthday party, a special baseball game, a whirlwind trip to Seattle to say goodbye to a dear friend, and to hug family. Some of those things we planned and some we didn't. That is life, right? 

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
— Robert Burns
Over it

Over it

This weekend may have kicked our booties, but it was the kind of weekend that fills your soul. Laughs with friends, conversations with family, and adventures. 

Summer has begun for most kids across the country...we are soooooo near the end, but alas we aren't there yet. In the Portland Metro area we start planning for summer in April...that is when you can register for the Parks and Recreation camps, swim lessons, etc. It kind of kicks off planning for the summer. By the time summer actually comes you probably have your summer planned (for months). The kids have swim, the boy has some sportsball camps and plans, and we didn't really have a vacation planned this summer since we went to Disneyland recently.

Well, plans changed. My husband has to go to Kansas City for work for 4th of July so we are going too. Since it is too much to fly to Kansas City for the family. You know it is one thing to drop a bit of money to fly to Hawaii...no offense, but it is a different thing to spend a bunch of cash to go to KC. In addition, we have been talking with my dad and my step-mom about meeting somewhere to get some family items that we don't want to ship so it made sense to drive. We will see grandparents and then on the way home aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Bottom line...ROAD TRIP!

I don't know about you, but some of my favorite memories/worse moments are from road trips. I definitely get crazy car sickness...I had to be drugged up on Dramamine most of my childhood. I am no stranger to a road trip. I have gone across country several times in my teen years and throughout adulthood. My husband jokes that I LOVE to sleep across the country. 

What I am most excited about it is giving our kids a road trip. I mean, I didn't have a dvd player or electronics to keep me occupied when I was a kid, but they will be making memories all the same. They will see our country in ways they wouldn't if they just read about the different states.

Because the greatest part of a road trip isn’t arriving at your destination. It’s all the wild stuff that happens along the way.
— Emma Chase

So I will be scouring the internet for road trip hints/hacks/help and I will share my findings. And if you have some road trip ideas I will take them! In the meantime, you don't have to drive across the country to have your own road trip.

Take Mini Road Trip

  • Find places near you to explore and plan your trip accordingly...or don't whatever floats your boat.
  • Plan to go 30 minutes to 2 hours away to make a fun day trip. If you live in Portland, a few places that would be great: McMinnville, Rockaway, Silver Falls State Park, Hagg Lake, Troutdale, or Kelso (Washington)...these aren't necessarily the big tourist places...there is more to Oregon than Multnomah Falls.
  • Pack some food...snacks or meals. You can do it to save some money, but even more importantly, it just helps you eat healthier...and it saves time.
  • Dress the part. I, for one, ALWAYS wear the wrong shoes. I never wear appropriate shoes and it is a problem. In the PNW, you need to always have a hoodie...no matter the time of the year. Other areas have different needs. And make sure you have sunscreen.
  • Have fun! It is about being together and exploring different places. Try to relax and go with the flow. 
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.
— Mark Twain
Onto the Next Adventure

Onto the Next Adventure

Take Me Home Country Roads

I am originally from the South...Arkansas specifically. I was born and raised there until I was a sophomore in high school. Later I went back to attend University of Arkansas for a year. Most of my family still lives there. And even though I love Portland and I have been here most of my life, part of my heart will always be in my home town.

You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right.
— Maya Angelou

When I get homesick, I miss the feelings of home and less an actual place. Also, when I get homesick I really listen to a LOT of country music. 

I have been thinking a lot about the South. We are having a Southern dinner party. So I have been knee deep in looking at recipes and reminiscing about meals from my childhood.

Also, I MAY have gotten an air fryer. Have you seen these things?

This is the GoWISE 4th Generation Electric Air Fryer. It basically makes food crispy without frying. I am going to try to "fry" okra and make "fried" pickle chips this weekend. I am way too excited about this. I told my husband it seems like the perfect appliance for the modern Southern woman and the little smarty pants responded, "Oh, do you know any?" 

The South is no longer in my mouth...maybe the drawl comes out a bit if I am hopping mad or had one or two too many cocktails. But it is still my roots. It is a culture that I share with my children. They drink tea and say funny sayings. I am trying to raise them right.

What culture do you identify with? What are your traditions? What is important to share with your children? Perhaps this weekend (or this summer if you need a little time)...start considering sharing your culture...your community that you grew up with...share with your family.

Here are some ways to share.

  • Start with the food.- Share your favorite recipes or meals from your childhood.
  • Tell a story.-Tell your children your story...what was your childhood like, what was your community like, and explore how it has changed.
  • Teach your traditions-What are the things you family did and why? Take a moment to do those traditions with your own family.
  • Research-Become an expert on your heritage. Research together so you all learn about what makes you...you!

I feel like a native Oregonian because I have been here since a teenager. However, part of me will be stuck in Arkansas circa 1975-1990 ish. Since I don't have a time machine, I will be enjoying my not-fried-fried food, hanging out with Johnny, Hank, and Willie, and I will be remembering my own country roads. I hope your travel your own roads.

Grow Your Own

Our first haul of 2017. 

Our first haul of 2017. 

When I was a little girl growing up in Fort Smith, Arkansas I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. I was with them every week during the school year, and all of summer, and I even lived with them a couple of times during my childhood. They definitely helped raise me. 

My grandparents had a giant vegetable garden. Once again, in hindsight, it might have not been giant...I was a child...I was 4 feet tall or shorter. Regardless, they had a vegetable garden. I would have to help in the garden and grab vegetables for meals. That was all fine and good until the time I was trapped in there by two large birds.

Now, I know you aren't appropriately picturing these birds. My grandparents had two Emus for a little bit. Yep, the birds that are like ostriches. They look like they may have been around since the age of dinosaurs. 

A National Geographic picture Of a Rhea

A National Geographic picture Of a Rhea

I am not 100% sure why my Nana and Papaw had rheas. I am guessing it is because they wanted to raise them for meat or eggs. They had a boy one and a girl one and they scared me. These birds can be around 5 1/2 feet tall! And the rheas that they had were not that nice.

One day my Nana asked me to get some tomatoes, as she finished making dinner. I ran out to the garden and I was a little irritated because I didn't want miss out on watching Wheel of Fortune (hey, I grew up with my grandparents...of course I watched Wheel of Fortune.) Well, I run out to the garden and I go to pick the tomatoes. The garden had long rows of veggies and I remember everything being so huge...so I must have been short. 

I get the tomatoes and I try to leave the garden to see what was happening on Wheel of Fortune and I can't leave. Why you ask? Those damn birds wouldn't let me leave. They came to the garden and started trying to peck at me. Now here is where things can get a little fuzzy...I am remembering something from a LOT of years ago. But for me, I felt like they were trying to attack me. 

I yelled and screamed and cried to get my grandparents attention to no avail. The garden wasn't super close to the house and there were fences obscuring the view. So I hid, for my life, in the tomato plants. My Papaw finally came looking for me after an amount of time that felt like forever.  And instead of rushing to my aid and scooping me up in love and compassion, he completely had zero ideas why I would be huddled and crying. Luckily my Nana had a lot more empathy for the situation and I was coddled appropriately. I am also pretty sure I was excused from helping in the garden for a long, long time. 

While traumatic at the time, it is one of my favorite memories. The garden was a source of food, of fun, and obviously of a little fear.  I can clearly remember the taste of the tomatoes, the sound of my Nana snapping the beans, and the smells of all the creations she would make. 

Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.
— H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Since my husband and I have been married we have grown herbs, fruit (trees, bushes, and vines), and vegetables. Our children have had a garden most years of their lives. While our garden pales in comparison to my Nana and Papaws. I love how it grows bigger each year and now we have some sort of harvest all over the property...every where you go there is something growing that we will provide for our family.  It is such an amazing thing to plant something, care for it, and watch it grow into something that can nourish your body, all the while nourishing your mind and soul as you tend to the garden. 

And the flowers in our yard are amazing...no filter needed on those blooms. We bought a house that had established landscaping, so we are just reaping the benefits of some else's love and vision (thanks Phyllis). Well, besides a few things like the roses...my husband is a rose fanatic. You would never know it looking at him, but he loves him some roses.

I love seeing what blossoms and when. In the last 7 1/2 years that we have been here some things come back every year, some things bloom once and we never see them again, and every year there are new things that pop up in the yard that I have never seen before. It is always so fun to see what is growing. We do a family tradition called "garden walks" where we walk around the garden to see what is growing and what needs tending to and what changes need to be made. 

You don't need your own piece of land to grow something or to reap the benefits of a garden. Here are some ways you can get your hands dirty...

  • Container garden.
  • Take a gardening class.
  • Walk around your local nurseries.
  • Join a community garden.
  • Help a neighbor with their garden.
  • Go to any of your local gardens...they don't need to provide food...any garden will be great. 
  • Walk your neighborhood to see what is growing.

The point is to be connected to your food, to the beauty of your community, and to get outside. There are probably not any giant birds out there waiting to get you...so what is stopping you?

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.
— Gertrude Jekyll
Our veggie garden.

Our veggie garden.

Pulling it Together

I love getting gifts for people. Well, most people...I am looking at you Dad. He is the hardest to get gifts for...and I don't know if you know, but Father's Day is the weekend after next (THIS IS A CORRECTION FROM THE ORIGINAL POST). So I am still trying to button that gift down. 

But for everyone else I like getting gifts or making gifts. Making gifts is the best because you get to put part of yourself into the gift. You know, you get to put you love and care into the gift.

Unlike the time I was making something for a new baby and I used these crazy sharp fabric scissors I got from my husband (as a gift). Well, I seriously cut the tip of my finger off and bled all over what I made for the baby. That was a little more of myself than I wanted to give to a baby. Just FYI I didn't give the baby the bloody blankie.

Anywho, my daughter is about to be done with preschool (my son has a couple more weeks) and I have been thinking about end of year teacher gifts.  I usually like to make something for teachers...or have someone in our family make something. But I was at the store the other day and saw some adorable beach towels and I had a great idea.

For Making it Monday we are making a beach towel gift. But as I was researching other ideas with beach towels I saw my gift idea all over Pinterest. Turns out I wasn't original. Boo!

There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.
— Mark Twain

First you need your supplies...

  • Beach Towels
  • Ribbon
  • Luggage Tags
  • Optional Other Items-Magazines, Sunglasses, Sunscreen, etc.

!

Step 1

Pick out some towels.  Oh my goodness, I love these towels. You can get some cutie ones on Amazon like the Pineapple towel, or the Hibiscus towel, or the Blue Blocks towels. The last ones are not to be confused with BluBlockers. 

BlueBlockers

Remember BluBlockers? Those things really worked! I used to wear my mom's.  I may try to pull those off again. Well, probably not, but they did make life so much clearer...or it was that I was a teenager. 

Step 2

Pick out some luggage tags. These are adorable and here are some like we got for our teachers.  You can use these as your gift tags as well.

Beach Towels

Step 3

Roll up the beach towels, put a ribbon, and a luggage tag on it. BUT you could add magazines, sunglasses, sunscreen, etc. And bada bing bada boom you are done. Tell your teachers you love them and that you hope they have an AWESOME summer. 

Oh, BTW, I know my daughter is giving one of her teachers a poop emoji tag. It is an inside joke between them. One time Little Miss wanted to send a text to her teacher and she told me to include a poop emoji. I didn't, but I told her teacher and her teacher is quite funny and she said she wanted to send one to me for our daughter, but she didn't know if we would think that was appropriate/funny. Uh, we clearly think it is funny and funny matters...thus, the poop luggage tag. 

See you Wednesday!

For 2 or More Players

Chess Board

Holy hell, this has been a hard week.

Tuesday I participated in a memorial for a dear friend who lost her mom way too soon.

In Portland, we are still reeling from the recent repugnant hate crimes. We have learned that someone on the lightrail stole from one of the heroes who died. And the stabbing survivor has been a model of strength and compassion. Still holding those girls in prayer.

And if you look at the news...world news or local news...it doesn't matter...you just want to cry...hatred, violence, racism, environmental disasters, and pure ignorance at every turn.

It can get more than a little overwhelming.

I don't know about you, but when these things happen I tend to shut down, I want to retreat, but in all honesty these are the times you have to show up and you have to make connections with one another.

Look, I don't want to either, but how are we to raise future generations to love, to have hope, to make this world better, and to fix our damn messes? We have to up the ante and live in radical love to change the course. We cannot just look around at the sad state of affairs and be okay with that. We just can't.  

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

We aren't going to change the world overnight, but we can start today on building bridges. Want to know a fun way to make connections and to get to know others? Play some games. It seems crazy, but it is true.

I am an introvert and a little (or a lot...shut it) lazy...so I don't like to put myself out there. Be there for you during a life crisis? Sure, I am good for that. But just regular interaction...just a little more awkward. I don't want to be embarrassed or not know how to do something. And I get anxious in crowds. I am secretly a hot mess. So believe me when I tell you how powerful playing games can be for building relationships and how important they are for your kiddos (like learning how to take turns, learning new skills, and finding out how to win and lose). 

Think about at work or even school...what do they do to help people bond? Team building exercises (ie games). When we are focused on a task together you get to know others in unique ways.

Today we will cover a few games that you can play with two or more people. Find some people to play games with...ask your friends and family, ask a neighbor, or ask a stranger.

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.
— Anais Nin

The way we make the world a better place is getting to know "the other." Have you ever heard kids play? In the beginning they have zero idea that they are different races, different religions, different anything...they just make friends with everyone they meet...there is no "other." Until they get older and we point out the differences instead of pointing out the similarities. Well, time to get back to basics and play some games.

Here are some of my favorites that are good for playing with smaller crowds  and that are pretty portable. (Most of the games on the list are affiliate links and are available through Amazon-look at the side bar for some information about affiliated links).

GAME LIST

Playing Cards Playing cards are the best...they are super portable and you can always have some with you since they are small. You can play a ton of different games with just one deck of cards.  This particular deck of cards is waterproof...I mean, I do live in the Pacific Northwest. But you can totally grab a deck of cards at any ol' place for like a $1. 

Playing Card Game Book If you don't know what games to play, grab this book and learn some new games to share with others.

Trackball This is such a fun game. Our boy got this game from a friend...he loved playing it at his friend's house, so they gave him one too. My boy was showing the game to his dad and my husband didn't really listen to what our kid was trying to say so my husband straight up threw the hard plastic ball right into our son's nose. That was like a year ago and it still makes us crack up. Trackball is basically like a version of catch. 

Frisbee We found out at our recent camping trip that we have clearly never taught our children how to play Frisbee. I mean, parenting is hard...it is impossible to make sure you are teaching them all the right skills...you are going to miss some stuff along the way. We are getting these because they are supposed to be easier to catch and throw and hurt less when the kids inevitable get hit in the face. Frisbees are a great active way to hang out with someone else.

Scrabble  I LOVE SCRABBLE. However, my husband won't play it with me. He is crazy talented at everything in the world except spelling.  So I will have to have my children play with me...in a few years. This particular version is called "Winning Moves Tile Lock Scrabble." It has plastic letters that "lock" onto the board. The description says "you can play Scrabble in a car, train, plane or boat with no worries." Sounds like awesome summer fun to me!

Handmade Wood Chessboard 

Handmade Wood Chessboard 

Chess or Checkers Want to go old school and use your noggin? Grab a chessboard and play a game with someone. 

Chess helps you to concentrate, improve your logic. It teaches you to play by the rules and take responsibility for your actions, how to problem solve in an uncertain environment.
— Garry Kasparov

 (Also, look up the guy who said that quote, Garry Kasparov. Probably top 5 longest Wikipedia entries I have ever read about a person.)

Okay, back to the chessboard. Chessboards are a big thing in our family. My son and my husband play...our daughter does not...at least not yet. I don't know how to play chess, so if you are like me, you can play checkers. (I can hear my husband rolling his eyes at that last sentence.) 

My husband makes chessboards. The chessboard pics are all him. He does beautiful work. You too can have your own amazing handmade board for $150. Check out The KU Shop on Instagram or email him at marko@kudesigngroup.com?

He also makes picnic tables, bakes amazing pies, does out of control pizzas, refinishes antique tools, restores boats, trains dogs, is the best handyman, and an awesome daddy and husband...but that is all for another day.

One of his most endearing traits is that he accepts all people and he cares about everyone no matter who they are or where they are from or what they believe. I can always count on him to do the right thing. I mean, I am not saying he is perfect, but he is pretty darn great.

Grab a seat. 

Grab a seat. 

When you have more than you need, build a longer table not a higher fence.
— Unknown

Looks like my husband is building the longer table and I will get the games ready. What are you going to do?  Grassroot, radical, unconditional love is the only way. Let's get started.

To Every Thing

Seasons are such power forces...they usher us through each year.  I believe they help guide us through our own seasons of life. There is a time and place for everything. That includes death.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
— Ecclesiastes 3

Or if you aren't into reading scripture, listen to the Byrds. 

 

Being a parent, your job is walking through all the seasons with your children...even the hard ones.

I don't remember many people dying in my world when I was a kid...I mean I have some memories, but it seemed like it was always really old people (in hindsight they may have not been that old...I was just so young). 

My children have been surrounded by death their Grandfather died when they were little bitty, we have had other deaths in our family, both of our next door neighbors have died within the last few years, and then the countless memorials I have attended/officiated since I worked at an older church. Plus we have lost several animals.

In fact, Little Miss might be an animal murderer. She loves so hard...some times to death. (BTW that could totally be a title of a Lifetime movie). Little Miss has been collecting worms, slugs, and snails and making them be her pet. This 100% is a death sentence. Below is a picture of a snail she collected on a recent camping trip. She even made an awesome terrarium for the snail. Then on the way home she crushed the snail...to death. We arrived at my mom's house and she buried the snail. Later that evening she went back to Nana's and unburied the snail. She brought the dead snail home in the terrarium the next day with a dollar bill on it because the dead snail LOVES money. That kid is a trip.  

Big spender snail.

Big spender snail.

A lot of families with children may not have the experience with talking to their kids about death. 

We had a friend who lost an animal and they asked me how we talked to our children about losing animals (we have had a few cats who didn't make it in our neighborhood). I told her we just tell them what happened...a basic summary, but for the most part we just tell them the truth. She couldn't understand that...she didn't think her children were ready to hear the truth.

I get it, my husband and I shelter our kiddos from so much. They have zero idea about current affairs or even horrible parts of history. It isn't because we want them to be dummies...we want to shelter them and let them keep their innocence as long as they can. We can't do it forever, but we can do it right now. But one thing we don't hide or fudge the truth about is if someone died. 

The Dougy Center has a list on how to help a grieving child. The Dougy Center "provides support in a safe place where children, teens, young adults, and their families grieving a death can share their experiences." The Dougy Center is located in Oregon, but they have a great comprehensive website with several tools about grieving and children. 

Here are some things that we have found that worked for us. 

  • Use the right words. Don't say that people or animals "have gone to sleep," "gone to the farm," etc. You have to say that they died. They need to hear that. There should be no confusion. 
  • Be honest. You don't need to give every crazy detail, but be honest (as much as possible).
  • Talk about the person who died. Keep the person alive with your family by sharing stories and memories. 
  • Be ready to talk about this at any time. Kids are going to ask you questions at different times and for different reasons. When they talk to you...give them a space to share. It is important. 
  • Be kind to yourself. You might not know what to say or do. That is okay...just be genuine and loving. 

Parenting can be rough, but you have got this. Seize the dang day! See you on Friday!

 

A Time for Hope

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.
— Desmond Tutu

We have experienced  hate and darkness in my town this weekend. A deranged extremist killed two men and injured another on the MAX (Metropolitan Area Express-our light rail). There were two teenagers on the MAX, one was wearing a hijab...the girls are 16 and 17 years old. The man focused on the girls and started to spew hatred and threats towards them. They must have been so scared. And three heroes stepped to defend these children...they did what we are taught to do when we see hatred, when we encounter bullies, when we come upon injustice. They stood up and they did the right thing and two of the men Ricky John Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche violently lost their lives. A third man was also wounded during the vicious attack, Micah David-Cole Fletcher. 

I, along with the millions of people following this story, am in shock and heartbroken by this evil act. Portland is a small big city...we are so connected...so we know people who are related to people that were on the light rail that day. It feels so personal. It sickens me that this sort of thing can happen and cannot fathom that this happened in our world...in our country...much less our city. This is NOT who we are. 

These men are heroes. I don't use that term lightly, they are the kind of people we should all strive to be. They could have averted their eyes, they could have shut their mouths, they could have stayed in their seats...they didn't. They looked at the attacker in the eye, they spoke up for these terrified girls, and they got up and defended these children. I am in awe of their actions and their character. My love and prayers and infinite gratitude goes to their families, friends, and communities. 

If you read the news/Facebook/Twitter/whatever you are bombarded by horrifying stories..the Manchester attacks, the stories of Syria and the millions of refugees, and the crushing affects of climate change. Here in the United States hate crimes are up, people are worried about their healthcare/their rights/their lives, and we are torn politically. It can seem bleak. 

But if you sit down and speak to people that you don't know or people that you don't share religious beliefs/political parties/race/gender/etc you will probably find more that you share in common than things you differ on. You have to love your neighbor...even in times where it feels scary.

We are better than this.

This is the time to come together...not apart.

We are citizens of humanity.

During these times we can't retreat to our safe spaces.

We have to look out for one another. 

This is the time to stand up and practice radical love and compassion. 

Love and compassion are not the easiest path, but it is important for all of us to walk this walk.  

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.
— Dalai Lama

Today is Memorial Day. This is the day we honor the men and the women who died while serving in the armed forces. It may be a good time for us to read what those men and women were defending. Here are the links to the United States founding documents:

The Declaration of Independence

The Constitution 

The Bill of Rights

These documents outline who we are and what we stand for as a country. We stand for liberty and justice for ALL.

One of the heroes, Ricky John Best, from Friday's attack in Portland was a veteran. It seems like he served his country his whole life. He, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, and Micah David-Cole Fletcher served our community with courage and justice for all. Bless them. 

Hug your loved ones a little harder. May we all serve one another with love in order to be the light.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

 

 

Smell You Later

Spring was off to a late start here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, but it is here in full force now. The gorgeous flowers, the lush green plants, the pollen every where, and the scents. It smells amazing.

The act of smelling something, anything, is remarkably like the act of thinking. Immediately at the moment of perception, you can feel the mind going to work, sending the odor around from place to place, setting off complex repertories through the brain, polling one center after another for signs of recognition, for old memories and old connection.
— Lewis Thomas

I have a super sensitive nose. It is a blessing and a curse, because there some good smelling things out there in the world and there are some pretty putrid smells out there too...especially if you are a parent, pet owner, or someone else who deals with various bodily fluids and a ton o' garbage.  But today, let's mainly focus on the good smells and the good feels.

The BEST Smelling Blossoms.

The BEST Smelling Blossoms.

Right now we have a grapefruit tree bursting with blossoms. That tree smells heavenly. You know those smells that are so dreamy that they can't be replicated? Yes, the candle aisle at Target is yummy, that Method makes some wonderfully smelling cleaning products, and I love my Anthropologie perfume BUT we have nothing on Mother Nature. The lilacs in the breeze, honeysuckle on a hot afternoon, the smell of a crisp fall day, and the scent of snow in the air...that stuff is freaking amazing. 

Now why even talk about smells? Oh, it is such an important sense! You don't think about your sense of smell until it is accosted by something horrible or your nose is stopped up, but really consider it's super powers. Smells can transport you through time. Certain smells evoke such strong memories. 

The sense of smell can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back pictures as sharp as photographs of scenes that had left the conscious mind.
— Thalassa Cruso

Lots of smells stop me in my tracks...smells that remind me of my childhood, or different parts of my youth, or the smells that remind me of the life I have created with my family.  For me, the smells that bring the memories of people I love that have died...those are the hardest and yet the most meaningful memories. 

  • The smell of lipstick reminds me of my Nana...she was my idol. She was an Avon lady and had a ton of lipstick samples that I would play with...it may have started my love affair with make up. 
  • The smell of hot vinyl reminds me of my Mema's station wagon that my cousins in I would pile into and drive around. We rode in the very back of the wagon in that third road that faced the traffic behind us. That definitely didn't help my tendency for motion sickness. The smell of bacon and strong laundry detergent also reminds me of Mema and the time spent with her.
  • Our guest room that my father-in-law stayed in before he died smelled like him for a long time and once the smell faded it was like we lost something all over again. But the unexpected happened when we went to visit one of my father-in-law's friends just a few weeks ago...when we walked into the condo I could swear my father-in-law was there. It smelled JUST like him. 

 

Collecting her own memories.

Collecting her own memories.

I think about the smells that my children are collecting along the way. What memories will they evoke? What smells will bring them joy? What smells don't they like? What will remind them of home...of growing up?

What about you? What smells conjure up memories for you? Write those memories down..for real...you want to remember these things. Ask your kids about their favorite smells and why. Take a time to enjoy the different scents in your life.

Stop and smell the roses.

Stop and smell the roses.

You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.
— Walter Hagen

If you want to geek out on why smells evoke different emotions? Check out these links...

Smells Ring Bells: How Smell Triggers Memories and Emotions

Why Can Smells Unlock Forgotten Memories?

Olfactory Memory

Have a great Memorial Day weekend! It isn't just another long weekend, it is a time to remember the men and women who died while serving this country. I am thankful for their service this weekend and always.

And I am thankful for you. Take care and see you Monday!

Searching for Slo-Mo

Over it

Over it

It seems like everyone I talk to is a little (or a lot) overwhelmed right now. We are in the season of busyness. Granted I talk to a LOT of parents of elementary and preschool kids, but this time of year seems to be insanely busy. I think part of it is a combination of end of school events, sports, and just spring-going-into-summer stuff (like that technical explanation?). I mean for the love, we have to have our summer's planned in early spring to register kids in camps and summer programs. 

Summer is around the corner (a little longer for the kids in the Portland metro area. We had so much snow this winter that we had to add school days at the end of the year so we are in school until June 22)! One of my friends said she felt that it's bittersweet because she wants summer, but gets sad that another year has passed in the lives of her kiddos. 

Life in Motion

Life in Motion

It all goes too fast. I feel like I am constantly behind...for the love, I was able to blog while we were in Disneyland, but I was late for a posting on Monday...and I am home! I am just overwhelmed...I need to get kids to where they need to go, I need to get groceries, or run errands, I need to clean my house...the list is never ending and always growing. I am so stinking tired and I get snappy with my family. I think there has to be a better way...we must be doing some thing wrong because I can't do it all. I read the magazines, the blogs, Pinterest...and I am not living my best life...I am barely keeping it together most days. And just when I think I can't take any more and that something has to give...then summer comes and our load lightens, the days lengthen, and the most magical thing happens...the more we connect as a family.

The school year is so busy with school and sports and yes, we are together all the time, but yet we aren't. The time is fragmented and strained and the downtime we have is so precious that we do, in the words of Little Miss, we do what we want to do. She tells us on a daily basis "I do what I want to do"...shocker. And that is what happens during any moment we have right now. But I feel the moments fleeting. 

It happens before you know it, the handprints get higher and higher, then they disappear.
— Unknown

I sent my husband a text in the middle of the night a couple of days ago to inform him that we only have 9 more summers with our boy being our boy. Seriously it makes me cry. And then I obsess about those years...if he will want to be with us or his friends...or some day a significant other. You want them to grow and flourish, but you also want them with you. 

My daughter, who sometimes makes my days feel longer, has been modeling my obsessive mothering style. She told me that I am going to watch her children when she is older, I will live with them, and I am responsible for purchasing a lot for these future grandchildren. She talks about it all the time. I am game, because as I mourn each stage that is over with them. I store that longing away and I look forward to those stages with my grandchildren...and to the stages with my own children that I can't even imagine yet.

Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.
— Earl Nightingale

I secretly hate when people use the phrase "bucket list" for anything besides things you want to do before you die. A bucket list a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime. I especially hate Summer Bucket Lists...I think it is creepy.  So this is my Summer To Do list...whether you are in a part of the country that is already done with school or if you are in the same boat as our family and you have a few more weeks or you don't have either scenario...you still will be a part of the season so make your own list... or you can totally steal mine too if you want. 

Summer To Do List

  1. Work in the garden.
  2. Pick fruit-berries, peaches, apples, and pears.
  3. Swim. Put on the bathing suit and swim. 
  4. Go to the ocean-or a large body of water if you aren't near an ocean.
  5. Read. Read for me and have the kids read. 
  6. Explore as many playgrounds as we can. 
  7. Go to a drive in movie.
  8. Take some road trips. 
  9. Make and keep dinner plans with friends.
  10. Host another National Night Out event.
  11. Go stargazing with the telescope.
  12. Make homemade ice cream.
  13. Get out on the Slip and Slide.
  14. Have Nerf Wars.
  15. Make snow cones.
  16. Sew. 
  17. Make berry pies.
  18. Refinish a chair-this is pretty specific, but I want to make sure I do it.
  19. Go to the fair. 
  20. Bake-pizza, bread, all of it.
  21. Go on some epic bike rides.
  22. Work out.
  23. Visit some relatives. 
  24. Sleep outside.
  25. Take the dogs on an adventure.
  26. Start a new nature collection.
  27. Build a tree house.
  28. Get crafty with the kids. 
  29. Add to the rock collection.
  30. Play baby dolls or Legos most times they ask.

Well, I think that will start us off.

There is no slo-mo button for life even when we desperately want one to hold onto the moments and the people that we hold dear. I cannot capture this time, because to hold it is to suffocate it and life is all about the breathing in and out. So this summer I am going to try to do less and just be more. I don't want to squander a moment. 

Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them. They move on. They move away. The moments that used to define them - a mother’s approval, a father’s nod - are covered by moments of their own accomplishments. It is not until much later, as the skin sags and the heart weakens, that children understand; their stories, and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones, beneath the waters of their lives.
— Mitch Albom

Life is a busy blur at the moment...it ebbs and flows. I am going to try my best to do my best and then be forgiving with myself for the things I will inevitably forget, drop, ruin, etc. And in the meantime, I guess I will be collecting stones as we head into the next season. 

See you Friday!

Play Ball

Little Miss taking selfies with her Little Miss at one of the many games.

Little Miss taking selfies with her Little Miss at one of the many games.

This weekend was filled all sorts of sportsball...baseball games and soccer. And we have had HOT weather...somehow that makes the games/days seem soooooo much longer.  We love sports, but I think we all ready for some unscheduled weekends. 

My favorite lilacs.

My favorite lilacs.

On top of sports, school, and work...like everyone, we still have life happening. We had a dinner date with a family from Libya who treated us by cooking  our first Libyan meal. But I couldn't come to their house empty handed (it is in the Born in the South Handbook...who am I to mess with tradition) so we brought a bouquet of lilacs from our yard and I made a treat.

Since it has been hot I have not wanted to turn on the oven, so I had to search for a recipe that was quick, easy, and cool. So for our Make it Monday (which is a day late) we are making our own sportsballs buy making some chocolate balls (truffles).

First you need your supplies...

  • Cream Cheese-8 oz
  • Sifted Powdered Sugar-3 cups
  • Chocolate Chips-3 cups
  • Toppings

 

Step 1

I used this recipe. Basically...whip the cream cheese, add the powdered sugar (that you sifted), and then add melted chocolate chips. Mix it all together and let chill for a bit. I actually put our in freezer for a bit to speed up the process. You know I hate to wait. Now these aren't gourmet truffles. But they are quite easy and everyone loved them. (I thought they were a little sweet, but my kids didn't share that sentiment). 

Toppings

Step 2

Get your toppings together. I used crushed Lady Fingers, ground almonds, pretzel pieces, and sprinkles. In hindsight, there was a lot of beige happening here. I had a hard time keeping track of the different flavors. 

Rolled Ball

Step 3

Roll it up. Scoop up a bit and roll it in your hands. This is messy...especially on a hot day...that cholocate wants to stick on your hands. 

Sprinkles

Step 4

Roll the chocolate balls in the topping of your choice. The kids all loved the sprinkles. I mean, who doesn't like a good sprinkle. 

Truffles

Step 5

Let them set for a bit in a cool spot...and serve. Look how cute these are!

Can't wait for summer with these knuckleheads.

Can't wait for summer with these knuckleheads.

As we are at the end of the school and baseball season we are looking forward to a whole bunch of nothing and having a ball in a much different way. Counting down the days. 

See you Wednesday!