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Monday, October 31, 2011

Go Forth and Be Silly

Cleopatra, Monarch Butterfly, & Soccer Player
What a fun night!   We walked a few blocks around our house and were very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the trick or treating in our new little neighborhood!  I even saw another Cleopatra!  And Robi met someone dressed up as an equally unknown soccer player!

Flannery wore her sparkly light-up shoes, and it was really cute to see her stomping and skipping around to light our path.  Her favorite part, though, seemed to be passing out candy to the "customers," as she called them.  (I think that was probably because she could eat candy while doing so!)

How have you been silly and had fun lately?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Go the Extra Mile for Family Time

Since we moved closer to family, I often feel like we didn't move close enough.  It takes us about 45 minutes to get to my in-laws' or my sister's house, and although I'm not complaining about that commute compared to the 8 hour drive it used to take before we moved, I do still sometimes get tired of all the driving we have to do to get to hang out with our family.

But even though it can sometimes feel like a hassle, it is always, ALWAYS worth it in the end.

I hope that one day, Flannery and her cousins will look back on fun times they spent together as kids and feel a part of something big and strong and loving.  More than just family--a family that really appreciates one another and realizes the strong effect we have on one another's lives.  On both sides, I tell you, we are so lucky to have just that.

monarch butterfly & little red riding hood are ready!

These were the scariest faces they could muster.  :)

hay ride fun

Stair-step cousins all dressed up for the fall festival

If you could, how close would you choose to live to all your family?  I think men and women might differ on this one.  I think I'd be happiest living 15 to 30 minutes away from family.  Mostly because I'd love to have a weekly dinner all together with the extended family.  And because any commute over 30 minutes long overwhelms me.  

My Life in Pictures

Halloween celebrations were in full swing this weekend.  Flannery had such a fun time!  Here are some of the highlights:

Flannery designed the face on paper first, then drew it on the pumpkin, and I carved her design.
She called her design, "A sad one-tooth-pumpkin."

The original design is in front.  I think it's pretty close.

Old one-tooth lives!

I just had to take a photo of this cute Halloween card Flanna made for our dog, Padme.
She drew a scary house on the left and Padme dressed up as a monster on the right.  She loves the dogs so much!

How do you foster creativity in your kids?

5 Reasons Halloween is the Best Holiday Ever

Halloween is really the best holiday ever.  I remember my friend Nikki telling me when Flanna was a baby, that after her kids got a little older, she loved Halloween even better than Christmas.  I couldn't believe it at the time, but now I'm beginning to see why Halloween really could trump Christmas as the best holiday ever.  Here are five reasons why:

1.   There are tons of fun traditions to share.   At my house, we've participated in the following super-fun traditions (which have all brought me big happiness boosts, by the way!):  decorating our front bushes with "spider-webs," creating ghosts from dum-dum pops and tissues, picking out a pumpkin, carving said pumpkin, baking pumpkin bread, finding the perfect costume, going to fall festivals, and of course, trunk-or-treating!

2.  We have an excuse to buy candy and keep it in the house for a week or two.  Not the healthiest reason, but, hey, candy is fun now and then!  Especially Twizzlers.  Yum.

3.  We get to dress up and be silly.  I love love love that my whole family dresses up to trick or treat together.  This year, we won't have a theme for our costumes.  (We would've never been able to top last year's costume, anyway!)  But we're really excited about our outfits!

4.  There's no pressure to buy gifts or cook anything fancy.  No wondering whether the turkey is really cooked all the way through; no stressing over the perfect gift for anyone; no intricate recipes to follow, no hoping you didn't burn the rolls this year.  Heck, you don't even have to buy candy if you don't want to.  Just turn your porch light off and go trick or treating!  (Although I highly recommend passing out candy if you get the chance--it's probably more fun than trick-or-treating, I think!)

5.  Much of the fun happens outside during a time of wonderful weather.  And you know how experiencing nature makes me happy!  I mean, really--who can be sad when you're tromping through pumpkin fields on a breezy day, or riding on a hay ride bundled up beside friends, or walking down streets lined with gorgeous orange and yellow trees to trick-or-treat?  

So, what do you think?  Is Halloween the new Christmas?  All the magic but none of the headache?  All of the fun and none of the expense?   Or do you think it's too dark and spooky to claim rank among the top holidays?  I have to say, it really is one of my favorite times of year.  So there you go, Nikki, you were right!

What do you love about Halloween?


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Do Not Eat the Bread of Idleness

"She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." - Proverbs 31:27 (regarding a "virtuous wife")

If you haven't noticed, I've been remarkably absent from the blogging world this past week.  I've so missed it, and hope to have more time to reflect on life soon, but for now, I'm just chugging along getting my work and housework done and trying to spend some quality time with my kiddo.  Tonight, I had lesson plans to check and e-mails to respond to and phone calls to make and dishes to do and birthday invitations to mail and laundry to fold, and then, don't you know, Flanna ended up not feeling well.  So all that went out the window while I snuggled and took her temperature and gave her snacks and medicine.  And then, after she finally fell asleep, I was able to steal away to check lesson plans and e-mail and get to the dishes and the laundry. 

You know, in the middle of the night.  Like a crazy person. 

But I need to be at work super early tomorrow, and Robi is going to be amazingly wonderful and stay at home with her tomorrow, and I just didn't want to leave him with a sick kiddo and dishes and laundry to top it all off. 

So, the verse in my head tonight is, "She does not eat the bread of idleness."  Other verses from Proverbs 31 apply tonight, too, like:

"She experiences work as a good thing, and her lamp is not quenched all night."  (Prov. 31:17)

I do typically experience work as a good thing, but I have to say that this lamp is about to be quenched for a bit.  Goodnight, all!

What little quotes or mottos keep you motivated when you have a lot of tasks on your plate?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Live Your Priorities: Push away the Fog of a Hectic Life

This week has been a good one so far.  I've started volunteering at Flannery's school on Monday mornings, and it's amazing how much happiness that one change has brought me.   It's such a blessing to see her in action in her classroom, and to get to meet all of her sweet little classmates, and to see how affectionate they are with one another.  When Flannery walks into her classroom in the mornings, there are two little girls who run to her and give her hugs, calling out, "Flannery!!"  It's just adorable.

And now, when I drop her off or come by for lunch at her school, the kids all say, "Hi Flannery's mom!"  It's nice to get to know them, and to get a glimpse into the individual life and community she's creating at school.

I've also tried to focus on being more patient with my family and making time to chat together about more than just the necessities.   It's so easy to get busy and just kind of bark information to one another in the rush of the day.  Does your life get that crazy, too?  Sometimes I think that we are so polite to our coworkers and friends, but then we forget our manners when it comes to our family--the very people we care most about!  I would never speak to a client the way I rush my daughter around in the mornings.  "Get in the car!  Close the door!"  And I should give her the most consideration, as she's my darling girl!   I'm trying to work on that.

Yesterday, we had a special "ice cream date" after I picked her up from school, and I made a point to just soak in the moment and really listen to her as she picked out only the chocolate chip cookie dough from her mini blizzard. :)  I also have been trying to ask more about the specifics of my hubby's day, because I just feel more connected and calm, and it's easier to be patient and easy-going, when I know what was hard and what was easy for him that day at work.  Sometimes I feel like the "fog" of hectic life descends on us as a family, and I have to really step back and take strong action to get us back to living our priorities.

I have a long way to go, I know, but a few little steps toward living my priorities make for a pretty big happiness boost for me.  Which keeps me going toward the next set of baby steps.  

Do you feel sometimes that the fog of a hectic life surrounds you?  What baby steps can you take this week toward living your priorities?  

Make Something with Your Hands: Fine Motor Fun

My niece's heart
Last weekend, I was going through my craft supplies, and I came upon these little heart-shaped needlepoint templates I had bought last Christmas.  A perfect fine motor activity for our princess weekend, I thought!  I threaded some plastic jewelry-making needles with colorful thread for the girls (complete with a bead at the end of the thread so they didn't have to tie anything to get started on their hearts), and then set them free to "sew" however they wanted to.  

I was so impressed with their handiwork.  Flannery is almost five now, and her cousin is 8, and they both used such neat and careful stitches.  Flannery loves patterns, so I think the methodical part of this craft was right up her alley.  She kept saying, "and over, and through" as she worked on the border, and she was determined to get it just right, undoing stitches if they didn't look even.  My niece also undid and re-did some of her needlework so that "the pink is splashed all around."  She has a nice flair for design!

The only help they needed was with tying the string at the end.  And they seemed so pleased with themselves.  I've said it before, but I think it's really true for many of us:   making something with our hands is rewarding.

I think we'll do this craft again during the holidays--I'm picturing a tree filled with cute hand-made hearts and stars.  What fun!

Flannery's heart

Did you learn a neat skill as a child?  (sewing, woodworking?)  I learned to weave in 3rd grade, and to crochet, as well, and I remember really enjoying working so hard on a project and having a beautiful finished project at the end.  

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Anticipate Fun

Notice the fun girl pumpkin Flanna
decorated with her Grammie?
Yesterday, we went with my niece's Brownie troop to see Disney on Ice.  Flannery dressed up in her Cinderella dress for the big event, and we had such a nice time. I think part of the fun was just in looking forward to the show--we talked about it for days ahead of time, decided what to wear, tried to guess what the show would be like, and just generally got excited about what was to come.  Anticipating fun can really bring a lot of happiness for me--maybe that's why I like to plan things way in advance!  Anyway, Disney on Ice really lived up to the anticipation.  We all enjoyed it, and I think it was a magical night for Flannery and my niece!  We were so grateful to my sister for inviting us!

What fun time are you anticipating?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

My Life in Pictures: Pumpkin Patch Fun

Today, my mom, my mother-in-law, and I took the girls to the pumpkin patch.  It was a gorgeous day, but really windy!  I guess the up-side is that it was nice and cool, but we were all wishing for pony-tail holders the whole day!  There were so many fun fall activities to do at the farm--I was really surprised with the variety, and we weren't even able to do all they had to offer.  (I admit, I was too nervous to take the girls in the corn maze!  I've been known to get lost for hours in those things!)  We even ran into Flannery's teacher there, which was a wonderful surprise.  The girls' favorite part of the day was getting to pick cotton.  Flannery said, "I didn't know that cotton grew like in cottonballs!"  

I'm looking forward to carving our pumpkins and baking some nice pumpkin bread or pies soon!

On the cow train

Riding bouncing horses

We had some wonderful fresh squeezed lemonade

Isn't this cotton beautiful as it begins to open?

Such gorgeous geometry here

The girls found this huge writing spider in the cotton field.  So pretty!

The grandmothers and grandkids in a field of zinnias.

We made thank you notes for the troops overseas.

Flannery with her sweet teacher

The girls being spooky and scary!

Grammie and Grandma got little pumpkins, too!

How are you enjoying the fall season so far?

Each time I read this, I get a lump in my throat

"Weary of all who come with words, words but no language
I make my way to the snow-covered island.
The untamed has no words.
The unwritten pages spread out on every side!
I come upon the tracks of deer in the snow.
Language but no words."
--Tomas Tranströmer (From March 1979)

Maybe it's because this poet suffered a stroke and now has aphasia--a communication disorder I've treated as an SLP-- maybe that's why this poem is dear to my heart.  Or maybe it's because nature and language are such a huge part of what makes me happy, but each separately--and this poet reminds me that at times, they are one.  Or maybe it's because I too grow weary of words without meaning or depth, and yearn for true communication free from fear.  I'm not sure exactly why it is, but this verse chokes me up when I read it.  

I'm so happy to hear that the author, Tomas Transtromer, won the Nobel Prize in Literature this week.  I've only read snippets of his work here and there, but now I want to curl up with his whole book of poems to see what other wisdom and beauty are within.  

Preferably by a fireplace.  

Which I don't have.  

I may have to settle for on the couch with some hot tea.  And a University of Georgia snuggie.  Doesn't that sound poetic?  I know you envy my luxurious lifestyle. 

But seriously, check out this poet.  You'll be glad you did.  

What's your favorite poem?  Do you have any poems posted in your home that bring you joy or peace?  Please share them!  I'd love to hear.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Strep, Strep, and More Strep

I took Flanna to the doctor today, and she has strep.  Then, I wasn't feeling very well, so I went to my doctor.  And I have strep, too. 


This is a busy work week for me.  I have so much to do at work and a short timeline in which to get it all done. I was thinking I would just push on through and go to work tomorrow.  But then I called my friend from work to chat about the plan for tomorrow, and she talked some sense into me. 

"You have strep, TJ!  You need to stay home and get better!"

And suddenly it seemed crazy to push on through while I'm sick. I mean, really, the world will not fall apart just because I'm out for a day. 

Don't you love it when you have a friend who tells you when you're being crazy? 

What's your favorite way to help yourself feel better when you're sick?  Flanna and I had hot peppermint tea with honey today, and chicken noodle soup, and popsicles.  And my throat really did feel better after all those wonderful liquids.  :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

5 Ways to Enjoy a Lazy Sunday

1.  Sleep late, but not so late that you miss church.  You'll be happy you went.

2.  Braid your daughter's hair when she asks you to.  She'll play with those braids all day, smiling to herself.  

3.  Walk to the pond down the street to feed the ducks.  You'll have to give your daughter a piggy-back ride home, but you'll both feel refreshed.  Plus, you'll see that cool house down the street where they already decorated for Halloween, and you would've missed that from inside a car.

4.  Snuggle up on the couch with your dogs and your daughter to watch "Good Luck Charlie" on the Disney Channel.  You could've hung those curtains you've been meaning to get to, or tried to get your closet in order.  But that snuggly time will mean a lot to the kiddo, and she could care less about your curtains.

5.  Eat dinner at the table as a family.   With something fresh and green thrown in.  It feels good to be around a table together, and even better to eat a homemade meal.  

How did you enjoy your lazy Sunday?