Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Fifth grade boys and nasty beans!

 Last week, I was honored to chaperon 4 fifth grade boys on a field trip to Williamsburg, Virginia. A wonderful place full of valuable artifacts and rich history. When I ask the boys to tell me their favorite part of the trip, their answers varied from "eating dinner at Golden Corral", "running in the hotel", "wrestling in the hotel", "breakfast at the hotel", and "jumping on the chairs in the lobby of the hotel."
Before you start to wonder what kind of chaperon would let her group do all sorts of unruly things in the hotel...let me distract you by telling you about the most wonderful game we discovered at the fabulous candy store in the heart of Williamsburg.
When I say most wonderful, I mean for fifth grade boys!
The game is called Bean Boozled. It is best explained by these boys!
Totally cracks me up.
We have not been able to find this game anywhere in regular stores. Emily found one in a fancy candy store in New York. You can also order them on Amazon. 
The only one I would play was blue! (berry blue or toothpaste)
I would've been okay with toothpaste, but the berry blue was yummy!

Can you believe they actually make jelly beans in flavors like canned dog food and baby wipes!
It really is hilarious!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Best snow day ev-a!

The weather man said it was going to snow. The schools closed early without any sign of even one flake. We kept checking the weather. At four o'clock it was supposed to happen...and at 4:07, we saw the first flutter of what seemed to be maybe...snow!  We were thrilled. We had plenty of bread and milk and other essentials... and hot chocolate, of course. Our friends had chili cooking on the stove. We had dug all of the ski clothes and boots out of the closet. We were ready to play! After a couple of hours, the snow slowed and the air settled. A thin blanket covered the ground and the roads. It was enough to close the schools for another day, but not enough to satisfy the desires and meet the expectations we had held for this winter storm. Then we heard the news. Eleven more inches headed our way by 10 am the next morning. That is when it got really exciting and then, we played!

The snow lasted only a few days. The roads were dangerous so most people were stuck at home. For us, being stuck at home, was actually nice. It was the kind of snow we see about every 10 years. We had a blast playing and sledding with family, neighbors and friends! We took it all in. We knew it would be over soon!
Happy snow days!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Around the dining room table...

One of our goals for this year is to have more people around our dinner table. 

Our formal (not formal to us) living room is currently under construction.We are adding  wainscoting and molding. We have a half painted piano and no light fixtures. We thought we would wait until it was all finished, but we decided that could be months from now.

We also realized that we don't have a non- Christmas time table cloth and we don't have more than 6 matching place mats. I couldn't find our old cloth napkins and napkin rings, and almost none of dinner glasses match...unless you count the mason jars. 

And lets just say, most of the meals I cook are kid friendly, not fancy enough for a dinner party. Spaghetti, Chicken casserole, Tacos, you know?

We knew it would not be Pinterest worthy, but lets face it... That is probably the reason we've not had many people around our dinner table before. And enough is enough. If it is going to have to be perfect, it will never happen around here.  Therefore, we decided to push all the wood piles to the center of the living room, use mismatched place mats and silverware wrapped in paper towels, and serve drinks in mason jars...and just go for it!

On Friday night we invited 2 couples to join us for dinner and games.  At the last minute, one of them had to cancel, but we had a wonderful time sharing a meal and some good conversation with our friends, Wayne and Trina. 

We served grilled chicken, sweet potatoes, green beans and salad. They brought some steamed shrimp and cocktail sauce. It was fabulous. Of course, we had lots of leftovers so we ate grilled chicken salads all weekend.

Before they arrived, my boys asked if they had to sit at the table even after they had finished eating to talk. We tried to convince them that they might enjoy a good conversation if they gave it a chance. It turns out that Zac left the table pretty soon after he finished, but Jonathan and Emily remained seated and contributed to the fun and entertaining conversations....and seemed to enjoy it too.

After dinner, we had coffee and warm chocolate chip cookies. We moved into the family room for more stories and some games. We played one of our favorites, Pit. It involves trading commodities, shouting, reaching, grabbing and more shouting until someone has a full set of matching commodities and rings the bell for the win. We also played Spoons. Cards passed quickly around the table until someone has 4 of the same, they sneak the first spoon....then it gets crazy, reaching, grabbing, and wrestling until everyone has a spoon except one. Good times. 

By then it was late and our guests had to leave. We cleaned the kitchen while we talked about how much fun we had and who we wanted to invite next. 

We are so glad we didn't wait. They had complimented our cozy house, said nothing of the paper dinner napkins, and genuinely thanked us for a great evening. We were blessed by them being here. Pinterest has got nothing on any of that.

Of course, we say it all the time about all kinds of different things, "Why did we wait so long?" 
We already have another dinner party planned for the 28th of February, but we'd like to squeeze one more in before then.

Happy Monday!
There is talk of some snow here in the wee hours...we are praying with expectation!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"Daring" and "Dangerous" Books!

These books are so pretty, but they are more than pretty! They are daring and dangerous and fun and so informative! They have been looking gorgeous on my bookshelf for several years, but just in the last few days, I have found them useful. One of them has instructions on how to make the perfect paper airplane. The other one explains how to play "Jacks" and how to paint with watercolors.
There are lessons in History, Grammar, Science and Latin....a whole curriculum if you will.
You can learn to change a tire, make a snowball, whistle with two fingers, and play poker....and so much more. And did you notice how beautiful they look?
Understanding "Morse Code", reading and writing with "Secret Ink", and a lesson on "Girls" 
These are just some of the fun and interesting lessons in this great book for boys of all ages.
The essentials in "Every Girl's Toolbox", the "Rules of Basketball"...and other games, and "Putting Your Hair Up with a Pencil", are just a few of the lessons girls will learn by spending time with this beautiful book. 
Have you seen these dangerous and daring  books?
Do you have them?
What other books have you seen that are both beautiful and full of knowledge?
It's time to read what's on the bookshelf....

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Winter sports!

It was one of the coldest days of the year. Emily's friends were visiting and 2 of them had never seen snow! We headed to Blowing Rock, NC for a night of adventure.
By the time we were finished, all of Emily's friends had given up...so it was just us. Sweet family time on the slopes!

Earlier that week, we had been ice skating! We got on cushiony clothes and really warm socks. We wore scarves and gloves....and we looked like we knew exactly what we were doing. Haha!
We make the most of winter by enjoying winter sports.We really wish it would snow, just enough to go sledding. We are still hopeful!

If you have snow, send some our way!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Night Lists

 Jobs I've had....

1.  Babysitter extraordinaire.
2.  Grocery store cashier.
3.  Shoe salesman. 
4.  Fast food team member.
5.  Hostess/ Waitress.
6.  Bank teller.
7.  Waitress.
8.  Computer Software Trainer.
9.  Creative Memories Consultant.
10. Mother Baby RN.

To expand a little...

1.) For cuties in my neighborhood starting at age 12.  2.) Harris Teeter. I was amazing with that bar scanner.  3.). Rack Room Shoes, I loved the discount and all of the fun teenagers I worked with.  4.) McDonalds for a summer...Kapahulu Blvd. Honolulu, Hawaii. 5.) The Village Tavern, late night, busy weekends! 6.) Drive through window...Where I learned that the people with the most money drove really old cars.  7.) When I realized waiting tables paid better than bank teller-ing. 8.) My first real big girl job for a girl with a business degree. Traveling everywhere and wearing suits, wondering how I would continue if I wanted to raise a family. 9.) Because of my love of scrapbooking and need for extra money while in Nursing school. 10.) The job I have had for the past 15 years. 

Lists are fun? If you made this list, would we have any jobs in common? I'd really love to know!

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Becoming undone, but not by myself.

Last night, when Zac got home from basketball practice, he announced he had some undone homework. By this time it was already 8:15. I'm sure I grumbled something about asking him earlier about homework and thinking he only had his nightly reading left to do.

That was when he spent too long looking through his binder, sharpening a pencil with the electric sharpener that had to be retrieved from the cabinet, emptied and plugged in before it could be used to sharpen an already sharpened pencil. You hear me...procrastination at its best.

By this time, like the homework, I was becoming undone. He looked at the homework paper and saw 21 math problems...multiplying fractions...and he just fell out. From there, it went from bad to worse...fast. I  demanded that he concentrate. He declared his hatred for math. I yelled. He told me to "chill because Dad says your blood pressure gets too high sometimes!" I went on about how I wouldn't have to yell if he would just do the right thing to begin with. He asked to take a little break. What? He hadn't even started.

He didn't understand the problems. 
I was impatient, and by the time I realized he really need my help, he was so out of sorts that he couldn't even grasp the first concept. We both took a tiny break...then we tried again. We broke it down into 5 problems at a time. By the time we got to the last group, he worked the problems on his own...and got them all right!


While we were in the middle of our ranting, I had said something ridiculous like, "and don't even bother apologizing after all of this is said and done...blah blah..." But later, he just said, "Mom, you know what I wanna say, right?"  I knew, of course, and I said, "I forgive you and I'm sorry too!"

Life is busy. I am selfish.  My own expectations can be my worst enemy.  Having my evening altered by something like having to help with homework, after I thought all my mom chores were finished for the night,  makes me lose my cool....melt down...fall out. Not much different from the way Zac acted when he saw 21 math problems that he did not remember how to solve.

It took me until this morning to work through all of this in my mind. I was driving Zac to school. He was calm, singing along to the song on the radio. I said, "I hope you have a great day buddy" and "I love you", like I always do, as we rounded the last corner of the car pool line. He said "be safe mommy" and he hopped out with one more "love you" as he closed the door. 

Forgiveness is great like that. We can move on. 

I'm learning...slowly...that falling out and melting down are not the best ways to accomplish anything.  I'm afraid to pray for patience, cause we all know what happens then, right?

Still working it out.

Linking up here with alphabe-Thursday! I is for me...'cause I know, I was half the problem!

And linking up here with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Tell His Story!
{My linky image cropped my head off.  I'm glad you came here anyway!}

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

For the moment, it is clean!

For some, it is the kitchen counter, for others, it is the top of  the washer in the mud room. Maybe for you it is the dining room table or the computer desk.  For me, it is here... 
We have a little desk area in our kitchen that seems to be the catch all for everything. Mail, book bags, purses, nerf guns and bullets, shopping bags, library books, clean socks, items that need to be returned...and the list goes on and on. At its worst, it is piled high and completely covered. You get it!
And when I finally make time to clean it up and deliver all of the items to their proper location, I feel as if the whole house is clean. It is powerful like that!
And a clean bulletin board is like the icing on the already great cake! Throwing away expired coupons, depositing checks and getting rid of old receipts...makes me feel so much lighter!  

Believe me, it will not last long. Maybe just through the night. It is a process, but right this moment, it is clean!

Do you have a place like this....doesn't everyone?

Monday, January 13, 2014

What I hope to have seen in 2014.

Is it terrible that I had to look back through my archives to find my word for 2013? 
Is it terrible that I don't want to commit to anything this year...not a goal or a resolution or even a single word?

My new year usually starts with a more organized home....but only because I have to take down  my Christmas decorations and sweep the pine needles and dust the bookshelves. And of course, dresser drawers are cleaned out to make room for new jamies and undies and cozy socks.

My new year usually starts with healthy eating too...but only because I have had too much Christmas Chow and chocolate and I would actually prefer a Gala apple.  I also tend to ramp up the exercise, but only because its cold and dreary and activity keeps me from getting the winter blues.

My new year also usually starts with less spending and more savings, but only because I am tired of shopping and I am busy cleaning and organizing.

So, I won't resolve to be organized or healthy or frugal....not a formal resolution anyway.What I will say, however, is what I'd like to have seen in 2014, when 2015 arrives. Make sense? 

So then,  I hope to have seen...

More people around our dinner table for shared meals and conversations. 
I don't claim to be a great cook, but a big pan of Baked Ziti, a healthy salad and bread sticks shouldn't be too hard.

More reading with my kids....and game playing too. 
There is more than enough TV watching and video game playing. Even just a quick game of UNO or Backgammon would give us a few minutes to connect. 

More consistency in church attendance. 
It is hard when I work every fourth weekend, but to spend time in corporate worship is good for my soul. 
My boys will be entering middle and high school this year...and some of my best childhood memories are from my years in Youth group.

More daily physical activity, as in a lifestyle change. 
I have enjoyed running in the past. I may give that another go. Whatever it is, it needs to be happening for several reasons that I may or may not explain later.

More lunches with girl friends. I have a Citi Pass book. You know those books the kids sell that have hundreds of buy one, get one free meal coupons. It's time I try out some of those restaurants that no one has ever heard of. 

And more dates with my husband.We love to date, but sports activities and jobs and other obligations make it difficult to be consistent. It takes commitment to get away even just for coffee. I'm good with coffee.

I know that to accomplish these things, I need to be intentional. That could be a word I guess, if it was necessary to choose one, but it isn't....so never mind that.

And if I'm being honest, this year I'd love...

A new car.
A lower number on the bathroom scale.
A full gratitude journal.
A zero balance on my credit card.
A landscaped backyard.
A new camera lens.
A monthly gathering of friends and family to do some kind of service project.
A happy daughter, thriving at the college of her dreams.
And,  no matter what is or is not checked off of my list.....a heart that is genuine and content, but knowing that nothing attained here will truly satisfy....and the more that I look for....is found in Christ alone. 

What about you? Do you go through this with yourself at the beginning of the year? Goals, resolutions, wishes? Do you go back through it at the end of the year? Successes, regrets?