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Friday, August 31, 2012

Anticipate Fun

Bookzilla for President
Today at bedtime, Flanna and I were a little bit giddy talking about all the excitement we are anticipating lately!  Here are just a few of the things we're anticipating:

1.  the Decatur Book Festival this weekend!  - I can't tell you how excited Flannery and I are to go meet authors, hear them read their stories, get our books autographed, and just generally celebrate some amazing children's literature this weekend.  I also can't wait for the used book sale hosted by the Decatur Education Foundation--they usually have some wonderful books for great prices!

2.  my trip to California in October!   - I just confirmed my flights for a training I'm going to in San Francisco in October, and I'm really excited about the trip!  First of all because I'm going to learn some strategies I've been dying to learn and become certified in for the past 12 years!  And second of all because I get to go with my wonderful friend and colleague Cori!  And best of all because my West Coast BFF Kelley is going to meet up with me on my last day there, and we get some real live face to face friend time, yay!

my talented friend from elementary school took this photo
3.  the birth of baby Abe! - Every night, Flannery finds a way to work the upcoming birth of her cousin-to-be, Abe, into the conversation!  Robi's brother Chris and his wife Anne are expecting baby Abe in early December, and today, Flanna told me that she wasn't even as excited about her own birthday as she was about Abe's, because it was his first birthday ever, and she's already had a few of her own.  Isn't that so sweet?  She can't wait to hold him and to have a baby cousin on her dad's side of the family!

4.  biking and camping - We have these nebulous plans to fix up Flanna's bike and get me a working bike so that we can ride around with Robi as a family of bikers.  We also are throwing around the idea of going camping in Sept. or October, and Flanna likes to plan all the events of our camping trip by acting them out with her Barbies, who just happen to have a pretty rockin' tent.

5.  our Fall Break! - We decided to go to Florida for a few days of Flanna's Fall Break.  We hope it will be peaceful and beautiful in mid-September!   And we know it will be lovely to see my parents!!

It's funny, but for me, anticipating fun is almost fun as actually enjoying the fun!  Hopefully we won't build up any of those events to be grander than they will be in real life, but planning for them and looking forward to them definitely makes me happy!

What about you?  What events are you anticipating that bring you joy before they even come to fruition? 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Funny Flanna Quotes

Today, Flanna's school had curriculum night, to teach us parents what our kids are up to all day while they're at school.  I have to say, kindergarten is busy and much more academic now than when I was a kindergartener!  My most memorable kindergarten experiences were building with those giant wooden blocks, acting out Goldilocks and the 3 bears with my classmates, and not napping during nap time on my blue Hello Kitty towel.  In Flanna's class, there is no nap time, blocks are only available on "Free Play Friday" mornings, and I think many of the children are already reading Goldilocks independently! It's a different world!

But annnnyway...the point of my story was that at curriculum night, I saw this adorable drawing that Flanna created about her "goals and dreams" for her kindergarten year.  Some of the students' goals and dreams were:  to learn to be a better reader, to be better at math, to learn art, etc.  Flannery's was:  "I hope to be a better hoola-hooper."

Now that, my friends, is a happiness goal.  What if we all vowed to become better hoola-hoopers this year?  Worldwide happiness might ensue!

Here are a few other funny quotes I heard this week:

Walking into her ballet class:
Flanna:   (dances up the stairway)
Me:  "Be careful on the stairs, you'll have plenty of time to dance like that in ballet class."
Flanna:  "Well, actually, mom, ballet class isn't that much time."
Me:  "It's 45 minutes, that's pretty long."
Flanna:  "Well, time flies when I'm doing ballet; it really does."

Driving down the road beside a convertible:
"When your hair is blowing all around in a convertible, it makes you look just like a movie star."

Getting into the car from after-school:
Me:  "Flannery, are you ready to get buckled?"
Flanna:  "I'm ready for anything!"

What made you laugh this week?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reflect on What's Important to You

I've been thinking a lot lately about what is most important to me, and what I want to focus on in my (nonexistent!) spare time that will bring me the most happiness.  It's funny to me how some things that seem kind of insignificant like packing a lunch for my daughter, actually contribute a lot to whether I feel good about myself as a mom/wife.  Here are some things I've been reflecting on this week:

I feel like a good wife & mom when:
1.     I cook a meal that my family enjoys.
2.     My house is neat and organized.
3.     I get up early and am not hurried or rushed in the morning.
4.     I play with my daughter before bed.
5.     We eat dinner together as a family and have meaningful conversations together.
6.     I walk my daughter to school.
7.     We entertain friends at our home.
8.     My family spends time in nature together.
9.     My family is affectionate with me.
10.  My family prays and worships together. 

Things I do now that are important to me:
1.     Read to my daughter every night before bed.
2.     Follow through on my responsibilities.
3.     Walk my daughter to school in the mornings.
4.     Pack healthy lunches for my daughter.
5.     Act as the memory keeper for my family.
6.     Decorate my home to make it appealing and comfortable.

Things I would feel better about myself if I did regularly:
1.     laundry!
2.     dusting, sweeping, mopping
3.     exercise
4.     sing in the choir at church
5.     entertain friends at our home
6.     get up early and be relaxed and unhurried every morning
7.     cook breakfast during the week
8.     bike and/or hike with my family
9.     play board games or have a special playtime with Flanna each evening

Now to pick a few to act on!  Wish me luck!

What about you?  What makes you feel like you're being the person you want to be?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Life in Pictures: Birthday Fun!

the birthday girl showing off her pinata bounty
My sweet niece turns 9 today!  And I have to say that this is the first year she has seemed more like a preteen and less like a child!  Isn't she beautiful?  And she is beautiful inside and out.

Here are some photos from her birthday party over the weekend.  We had a pinata, and pin the tail on the donkey, and cousins galore in attendance!

cousins galore!

the pinata frenzy!

survival of the fittest :)

I love this picture so much!  Everyone has such neat expressions!

little cousin with a big bag of candy!

Hailey carried this lollipop around for hours.  :)

sequined peace sign shirts?   yes, please!

The little cousins are a bit jealous I think!  

the kiddos in the playroom (my old room as a kid!)

What was your most memorable childhood birthday party?  I remember a party involving big wheel races and a Strawberry Shortcake cake.  I'm not sure if it was my party or my sister's, though!  (Yes, I am old and my memory is going!)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Celebrate Love!

My parents have been married for 38 years today!  Happy happy anniversary to them!  Here is a photo from when they were just teens--isn't that neat?  They are too cool.

They also continue to be really cool, FYI.  And always supportive and kind and helpful and loving and intelligent and wise.  And rather fun, too!

May God grant them many many many more happy years together!

What photo of your parents do you love?  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Learn Something New

One of the things that makes me happiest is learning something new.  And I think that Flanna has inherited this trait from me, because she loves nothing more than mastering a new skill (as long as SHE was the one who thought up the idea, anyway!).  Today, she started her first ballet class at "the mansion" (as she calls it).  And the best part was that my mom was in town and got to go with us to the class!  We sat and had a chai latte while Flanna danced--what a treat!

Flannery seemed to love the class, and afterward showed me how to do first position and a plie.  A good first day!

What new skill are you trying to master?  

Be Grateful

Flanna at the Back to School Bash at my work
I work at the best place possibly imaginable.  I really do.

I love my job, my coworkers, the teachers I coach, the work we are doing, the philosophy behind what we do, the fun material I get to teach, the sweet babies I get to see grow and learn, the wonderfully flexible schedule, the amazing partners we have in our work, the bosses I have that are committed to a beautiful goal, the way family is valued and respected at my work...really, I could probably go on forever.

So even though I was tired and didn't really feel like heading out to a back to school bash on Sunday night last week at work, it only took me about 3 seconds after arriving to be so glad we made it there.  It was so wonderful to see children who love their school, parents who trust their children's teachers, coworkers who enjoy one another, CEOs who make it a point to speak to every child at the party...again, I could go on and on.

And it just reminded me how lucky I am.  I'm grateful for such an amazing job.  I'm grateful to my parents and sister who instilled in me a "college-going" culture to get there, to a husband who has always supported me in going for my dreams, to mentors who guided me in my career, to a daughter who loves to come with me to work every now and then to"help the babies learn to talk."  I'm grateful for so much.  And some days, I just have to pinch myself that this sweet little life (this wonderful family, PLUS an amazing career, plus wonderful friends!) is mine.

And the best part is, that just feeling grateful can give us a happiness boost!  Did you know that?  So my cheesiness pays off sometimes, hah.  :)

Flannery at the pony ride at my work

note her rainbow face painting, done by a coworker's daughter!

For what are you grateful today?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Work Hard to Make a Connection

my daughter, mom, and hubby at the yogurt place
Sometimes our lives are so busy that it's hard to squeeze in all the things that are important to us.

Take this past weekend.  On Saturday, I had planned a horse tour almost a month back, which I thought would be a neat way to get to know our neighborhood a bit more, since the horse farm is very close by.

Then, my in-laws wanted to get us together to celebrate my sister-in-law's birthday.  Of course, we wanted to do that, and to get to see the great-grandmothers as well!

mine was coconut yogurt with blueberries and mango jelly
Then, my mom and aunt came into town.  And I really wanted to figure out a way to see them while they were here.  Problem was, I had a back to school bash at work on Sunday afternoon and church Sunday morning, plus the horse farm tour and dinner with all the family on Saturday.  That schedule was not very conducive to adding any more plans into the mix!

But we whittled out a sliver of time to have frozen yogurt with my mama.  Flannery got the most healthy toppings she could think of, as you can see.  :)  It was so nice to sit together with my mom for a bit and just chat.  Even if our life is sometimes a whirlwind, I'm always glad afterward that we worked hard to make a connection happen.

I've been thinking a lot about connection this past week.  My west-coast BFF called me on Friday, and it meant so much to me, that little gesture of connection.  My sister texted me, not about anything groundbreaking, but just to chat about a party she's planning, and that little connection made me feel  more a part of her life.  Sometimes I think it's the calls for no reason, the chats over frozen yogurt about iPhone quirks, the texts about the little things, that build connections most for me.  A wonderful blogger introduced me to this quote by Ann Patchett:
"that's my idea of real intimacy: it's not the person who calls to say, ''I'm having an affair''; it's the friend who calls to say, ''Why do I have four jars of pickles in my refrigerator?''
Too funny, right?  But a little bit true.  

Flannery's was strawberry yogurt with gummy worms and sprinkles!

What about you, do you feel like it's easy to stay connected with your friends and family, or are you like me, in that you have to work at it and try to make it a priority?  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Experience Nature

On Saturday morning, Robi and I took Flanna and a friend of hers to a local horse farm to take a "hands-on tour."  The girls got to brush and feed some horses, tour the grounds, and painted horseshoes to take back home, too.  It was great fun!

There is just something about experiencing horses up close that reminds me how beautiful wild creatures are.  No matter how tame they seem, horses are mysterious and timid, and are so interesting to watch.  I think the experience was good for all of us, not just the kids.

The horses at this conservancy are so lucky to have lots of room to roam.

the girls insisted on wearing cowgirl outfits to the tour--so cute!

How did you get to experience nature this weekend?

Share Family Traditions

When my sister was in college in Macon, my parents used to meet her half way for dinner at a "home cooking" restaurant called Buckner's.  The restaurant is an all-you-can-eat place where everything is served on a giant lazy susan in the middle of the table.  It's pretty fun!  Anyway, Buckner's became a family tradition whenever we wanted to go out for dinner all together as a family.  And even now, we still try to eat there together whenever my parents come to town.   Here is some of the family, with our table heavily laden!  Yum!

What restaurant has become a tradition for you and your friends or family?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

If You Give a Kid an iPad

She's going to want to take some photos with it.  And she's going to be smarter than you are at figuring out how to use Photo Booth.  Without any instructions whatsoever, she'll create interesting artsy photos.  You'll end up posting her photos on your blog, and wondering how your 5 year old became so techno savvy.

What technology have you been wanting to master?  

Friday, August 3, 2012

Be Silly; Have Fun; Buy Pretend Glasses

pretend glasses are the best
The other weekend, I took Flanna along for my eye doctor appointment, and she begged me for some "glasses."  But since her vision is perfect, I thought she'd have to pine away for a few more years for them.  Until the receptionist told me that my vision benefits covered a free pair of frames in addition to my contacts.  So, I let Flanna choose a free pair of frames, since I didn't need them.  She was in heaven.  She picked out this really cute pair, with their clear little lenses in them.  After the appointment, we went out for sushi, and she wore her "glasses", and kept telling me to "pretend they're real" in a hushed voice over her edamame.

The best thing is how grown up she seemed with them on.  It was like having sushi with a sixth grader.  Her mannerisms got all big-kiddish suddenly, and I got a glimpse of her as a pre-teen.  A very interesting and adorable and creative and just generally neat-o preteen.

Boy, I've got to get some cooler adjectives before she really hits the preteen stage.  I doubt neat-o will fly by then.

Do you have a love or hate relationship with your glasses?  I usually love my glasses, but in the summer, I hate them sliding down my nose when I sweat.  I know, you are dying to know more about this problem, right?  

Create Something

Sweet cousins showing off their hard work!
Whenever Flannery has a moment to herself, she is always creating something.  Necklaces, sculptures, little books, cute outfits, drawings, paintings, block structures--it doesn't really matter what the medium--she just loves to create.  

My sister signed the girls up for an art class last weekend, and they really enjoyed it.  It was a class taught by an art instructor, and everyone in the class was to paint the same general painting.  It was neat to see how some of the kiddos were so careful and cautious with their brushstrokes, and others just painted with bold strokes and brushes thick with paint.  Can you guess which one Flanna was?  Hah, she was impatient to just create the darn thing, and would go through seven steps at a time as the instructor was telling them the first step.   Flannery was also vehemently opposed to painting just the tail end of the dog's body, and insisted that her dog would show his face.  I loved that the instructor didn't force conformity and let Flanna have the freedom to be creative if she wanted to.

In the end, I think everyone was pretty proud of their little masterpieces!

My niece was careful and diligent in her painting--such attention to detail!

Flannery with her (signed!) artwork. 

What did you love to create as a child?  I used to love to write and illustrate my own books, always starring girls named Lori and Megan, which I thought were the coolest names ever back then.  

My Sweet Kindergartener!

Flannery modeling her humongous Lala Loopsy  book bag.  
Flannery loved her first few days of kindergarten, hooray!  Her teacher seems to be really sweet and nurturing, and there are two little girls from her PreK class who are also in her kindergarten class, so I think that has made the transition go more smoothly!

Here are a few pics from the first day--our sweet daughter's first day of elementary school!  It was a foggy day, as you can see, but isn't the school so cute?  They have a great garden, a koi pond, two playgrounds, and there are lots of specials like Spanish and art and music happening all the time, even for kindergarteners--so I think Flannery is going to enjoy all they have to offer.  What a nice start to the school year!

Flanna and me in front of her school -- in the fog!

Flanna with her new kindergarten teacher!

For me, on the other hand, I am feeling like I'm just recovering from a marathon!  My colleagues and I trained about a gazillion birth to 5 teachers this summer, doing summer language and literacy institutes up until yesterday.  We are now all truly exhausted!

Now, I'm excited to hopefully slow down into a normal routine as schools start back.  For the past two days, I've tried not to bring work home at night--which is hard for me because there is always something left to do!  But it's been so nice!  Flanna and I went to the library, played some board games, watched some cute bible story and nature movies, and snuggled for a good long while before she went to bed.  I'm aiming for that to be the norm this school year.  Fingers crossed I can keep a good balance of it all!

What are your tricks for balancing work and real life?  I'd love to hear!