Sweet, sweet summer

Well, summer is in full swing here! I love the laid-back schedule and feeling that we can do anything we want, whenever we want! (Full disclosure-very soon the lack of routine will leave me crying. But for now it’s all good!)

Memorial Day weekend we decided to give away our kids’ fort to our neighbor. I didn’t realize how sad they would be – or how sad I would be about it! Just another reminder that they are growing up too fast! But it was a good way to start out the summer because I now find myself more likely to be enjoying the present- to be in the moment- with the kids. More likely to say, “sure!”, with actual anticipation when they suggest an activity.

Here’s a picture I took of them years ago in the fort. It’s one of my all-time favorite pictures of them!

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And here’s a picture I took of them the day we gave it away.  Oh, my goodness!!

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There are all too many reminders these days that our time is limited with all three kids at home. I want to thrive this summer- not just survive!

Here are a few things I’m trying this summer to keep myself sane and able to fully enjoy the kids:

Get them to help more with cleaning.

Don’t neglect my first-thing in the morning time of prayer.

Get in the pool with the kids, often.

Say yes to time with friends without feeling guilty.

Do something creative every few days (write, practice hand-lettering, scrapbook, work on redecorating our living room).

Do one extra organizing or cleaning task every day. I’m pretty good at doing maintenance chores around the house like cooking, dishes, laundry- but then I tend to let everything else go. I’m challenging myself to do one extra thing each day so I feel like I’m making progress! So far so good, but we’ll see how long it lasts!!

How’s your summer going so far?  How do you thrive during the summer?

what’s been happening around here

I totally feel like I have to rewind here.  I haven’t posted in a while – we have been so busy!

So let’s start with some summer stuff…

We started a fairy garden, just for fun.  It looked pretty pathetic for most of the summer, but by September, the ground cover we added had grown and now I’m thinking it looks pretty cute.  It’s a fun summer activity for little ones – even more fun if you make an event of searching your backyard for things to use in it (pebbles, rocks, wood pieces, bark, moss, ground cover, etc.).  Search fairy garden on pinterest – you’ll be amazed!  Here’s a pic of ours:

Fairy Garden

I also bought this secretary at Goodwill in August… and finally painted it the first week the kids were in school.  I’m loving how it looks in the kitchen.  I had hoped that it would solve the problem of papers piling up on the kitchen table, but apparently you have to actually put things in it for that to work.  ha.

Secretary

Then school started.  So far, so good.  Kids have been doing well, with the slight exception of one phone call home regarding a 10-year-old boy who talked too much.  I guess that’s normal boy stuff – but definitely a first for me.  I hope it’s the last.

Let’s see, what else?

This seems to be the year where I have officially become the mom taxi.  Kids have activities three nights a week.  Then you add in my activities and my husband’s… and we are running around a lot.  But they are all good things – Bible quizzing, irish dance, MOPS, etc.

One of my oldest daughter’s activities are advanced math and science classes (for which she is actually getting college credit!) at the local community college.  I must say it felt weird to drop my 7th grader off at a college campus!  She has started rolling her eyes at me when I remind her not to talk to strangers or go anywhere alone every time I drop her off.  But I still do it – ha ha!  After all, she IS only 12!  But I’m finding a fabulous side effect of all this growing up she’s doing – she no longer has to be woken up!  she gets up on her own!  and showers every day without reminders!  Let’s just say I’m a little happy about that.

Then in October came MOMcon (previously known as the MOPS Convention) in Kansas City.  As always, it was amazing.  I got to see/hear Beth Moore, Jen Hatmaker, Lysa Terkeurst, Ken Davis, and more.  It is always a spiritually refreshing few days away for me.  The challenge is letting what I heard sink in and change me.

Halloween came and went, and my littlest was just the cutest thing ever – Madeline:

Madeline

She thought no one would know who she was – but so many people commented and loved her costume.

Then our computer hard drive crashed and all our files were unrecoverable (is that a word?).  Sad day, people.  Because even though you KNOW you should back stuff up, like all those precious photos of your little ones, do you really do it regularly?  Well, we did not.  Over the years I’ve been pretty good at actually printing our photos, which I am thanking God for.  I hadn’t gotten any 2013 pics printed, though, so I’m pretty bummed about that.  Not to mention all our other files besides photos!

My P.S.A. for today – back up your files, you never know.  

 And so November is here now, with Thanksgiving right around the corner.  I love this holiday and everything about it!!

The kiddos and I will be doing this week-long “giving thanks” activity from Ann Voskamp.  I think this is great for older children who can write – it stretches out the thanksgiving for all week!

http://www.aholyexperience.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/7Gifts.pdf

And a nice little video how-to for folding it into a little booklet are here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQGf3y6nFww

So now your turn – what’s been happening in your neck of the woods?

crying is good sometimes

I saw this video floating around facebook but I have this weird thing – I rarely click on video links because I have media trust issues. Seriously, I feel like you never know what you’re gonna get.

Anyhow, a real-life friend suggested that I watch it. So I did. And I cried.

There is this crazy mom-pressure to get this parenting thing right. I feel it every.single.day. This video is just beautiful and reminds me that although parenting is a precious, sacred, and important responsibility, sometimes I just need to breathe deep and know that God’s grace is sufficient.

So if you haven’t watched it yet, please do. Watch, cry, and breathe deep…

Back-to-school Teacher Gift

I’ve got a quick, cute back-to-school teacher gift for you!

back-to-school teacher gift

Get yourself some school-themed scrapbooking paper, some white cardstock, ribbon, and a frame.

Go to this awesome blog to print out the art for FREE!  (Thank you, bitsycreations!)

Put it in the frame and dress it up however you like, and there you have it – another quick & easy gift!

*Last Day of School Tradition*

Yippeeeee!

Summer vacation is here!

Yesterday we ended the school year with what has become a bit of a tradition for us:

Apple Cider Doughnuts

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

Well, the tradition is the homemade doughnuts, although the kind has varied every year.  I bake the doughnuts and use the excuse that they are healthier (the truth is that frying things in a couple inches of hot oil scares me).  🙂

This year’s recipe I think was the best – they were light and fluffy with good flavor.  Even though it seems like the wrong time of year to have apple cider doughnuts, YES, you can still buy cider in June!!  The recipe came from Family Circle March 2012 issue (link here).  I did make a couple of changes – used light brown sugar instead of dark brown, and used 1/3 T ground ginger instead of fresh.  They turned out just fine.

In case you’re interested in the other recipes we’ve tried:  Funfetti and Baked Chocolate Peanut Butter Donuts with Vanilla Peanut Butter Glaze.

 

I am thrilled that the school year is over.  I love the break from what should be an olympic event called “getting your kids to school on time”.  

Last night was the last award ceremony of the year… and I’ve got to tell you I’m so proud of my kiddos.  They enjoy school, they work hard, and their teachers have a lot of great things to say about their little characters.  They are all smart cookies – my oldest had the highest GPA in the whole 6th grade!  My son got awards for spelling and bible study!  And my little one got an award for best overall achievement in all the subjects!  I love them all to pieces and am excited to see God’s plans for them emerge as they get older.

How are YOU doing?  Has summer vacation started for your family yet?

Quick and Easy Teacher Appreciation Gift

It’s National Teacher Appreciation Week!

And because I am never on-the-ball enough to have things ready beforehand, here I am again with a post you probably won’t be able to use until next year!

{be sure to Pin it!}

OR, this is so quick – if you have the materials and a free half-hour before school pickup this afternoon… you can get these done!

 

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What you need:

Cardstock (white, blue, yellow or lime green would be good!)

Scissors

Glue Stick

Printer

brads (optional)

circle cutter (optional)

drink mix singles

water bottles

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Instructions:

Download this word document, edit if you like (you might want to add your child’s or your family name?), and print the labels.  File is here:  water labels

Cut out labels – circles look great.

Cut a 3″ by 8 1/2″ wide strip of cardstock – this will be your tag.

Cut out a circle near the top to fit over the neck of the water  bottle.

Fold the bottom up about 2 1/2 inches and glue sides in order to form the pocket.

Add brads if desired.

Glue circle labels onto the front of the pocket.

Stick the drink mix single into the pocket, hang it on the water bottle, and voila!  Your gift is done – enjoy your handiwork!

 

P.S. – I am so thankful for my children’s teachers.  Please don’t think that because this gift is prepared quickly that I overlook their importance in my children’s lives!  God Bless them – I know I have a hard time spending all day with my children – and they have my kids plus a classroom full of other kids, too!  And they do this job because they love the kids and love to see them learn.  We are blessed, and have been blessed, by fabulous teachers for my kids.  So, thank you teachers! 🙂