Winter looming

IMG_0339IMG_0340 IMG_0341 IMG_0353 IMG_0355 IMG_0363I am at a weird place with blogging.

I could either type about everything or nothing. I am learning lots about lots and having thoughts and ideas about life tumbling through my head constantly. But to write about all of that feels too personal or too preachy or too something. I can’t put my finger on it, but suffice it to say, it leaves my blog empty.

So I will write today from a simpler place. The dread of winter. I mean, I am freaking out about it. A time for everything, I get it, but winter! Please, no. I literally want to glue the leaves back on the trees, close my eyes, and pretend it’s not happening.

So here is a last look at fall. A perfect, late afternoon park visit. Crunching through yellow leaves and swinging without jackets. Fall, listen to me, please don’t go. I love you so much.

And now a word from EBug:

Ev-“I have a new friend…E-sen.”

Me- “You mean Ethan?”

Ev-“No, Esen.”

Me-“Where did you meet Esen?”

Ev-“He’s my friend from medical school. I went to college, and then I went to medical school. It was French.”

Me-“What was the name of the school?”

Ev-“It was fancy.”

So there you have it, and p.s. please send soup recipes. It’s the only thing getting me through.

Ready to turn 30

For lots of reasons, I have welcomed 30 with open arms. 

It probably has much to do with the fact that most everyone I know here is older than me. It seems totally normal and cool to be in your 30s. In fact, I know some pretty wonderful people in their 70s, so I have no dread of a number. Do I dread my body falling apart and failing me, yes. A few episodes of restless leg were enough to make me loathe the idea of my body going awry. But a simple number signifying my time on this earth is no problem. 

I am more myself now than I have ever felt and hope to continue to grow into myself. That can only come from years with the Lord, so bring it. 

I also felt totally celebrated by my family and friends, and my husband completely outdid himself. 

I am definitely a birthday diva. (I hope I have many birthdays left to mature in this area). But I may have mentioned to Rob that I wanted more than a dinner date to celebrate my 30th. I really wanted to do something out of the ordinary, and he certainly delivered. Beyond beyond beyond. 

He planned an amazing birthday weekend for us in Boston and did not spare a penny! Sometimes the pennies aren’t there, and that’s ok. But sometimes the pennies are there and your husband showers them on you, and it feels extravagant and oozes special and makes for the best 30th I could have ever dreamed up. 

My mom and Frank popped up to keep the kids, who were thrilled with that plan, and Rob and I flew off to enjoy the weekend. 

The things I would like to remember are the food-out of this world, the segway tour-such an adventure, and the last of fall and all its beauty-perfect weather!IMG_0372 IMG_0376 IMG_0389 IMG_0392 IMG_0395 IMG_0415 DSC_0002 DSC_0010 DSC_0015 DSC_0055 DSC_0066 IMG_0435 IMG_0442 IMG_0455 IMG_0458      IMG_0472 IMG_0464IMG_0465IMG_0466IMG_0467IMG_0468IMG_0477 IMG_0488  IMG_0503 IMG_0527IMG_0515 IMG_0497Boston is one of the coolest cities I have ever been to. It is incredibly clean and historic and charming and awesome. I saw only one homeless person. So they are doing something right. 

It was a huge treat to have that time with Rob to dine and relax and sight see. I probably could have read my book the whole time and been happy, but I am so glad he took me to such a fun spot with so much to see and do and eat. 

‘Hood hopping in our ‘stumes

IMG_0204 Halloween is fun. I can take the good and leave the bad, I just can. Kids, candy, and ‘stumes, such a delightful combination.IMG_0207 IMG_0211 My little EBug really wanted to be a cupcake this year. And that seemed fitting, because she loves them. So I pinned some ideas and thought about being crafty, and then life happened, and I found myself with a couple days until Halloween and nothing to show for it.

So we high-tailed it to my favorite consignment store, and I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to convince Ev to choose from whatever the store had left.

Lo and behold this store has endeared itself to me forever. There, waiting for us, was a pottery barn cupcake costume just her size. I gave thanks for that little provision.

Then, of course, Brother wanted to be a cupcake too. Has to be just like Ev.

It took some convincing, but I was able to talk him into being a puppy, and truly he is obsessed with dogs, so it totally fits.

My friend loaned us this perfect little puppy costume. IMG_0215 IMG_0218 I had to refrain from smothering that little pup with kisses all night long. IMG_0221 We took a few pics and made a few friends in our own neighborhood before heading out to trick our treat in a neighborhood with a bit more action. IMG_0229This little superman wanted our kids to have candy from his bag. Such a sweetie. His mom said that he is always wanting to give away their money. Melt me.  IMG_0234 Next, we met up with our sweet friends to all trick-or-treat together. Look at tiny tin man!IMG_0241 IMG_0263 IMG_0267 IMG_0275 IMG_0276 IMG_0278 This neighborhood did not disappoint. IMG_0284 IMG_0286 Lifestyles of the rich and famous. IMG_0290 Perfect fall night. IMG_0292 Kermit and Cupcake. BFF. IMG_0305My little pup pup. We had to do some serious explaining about filling your bag with candy now to eat later. But he eventually caught on and had a blast.   IMG_0313 IMG_0315 IMG_0318 One house gave out small toys. Such a great idea!IMG_0323Such a fun night! Until next year…

the artist in all of us

I grew up as sporty spice. “Soccer is Life” is definitely a t-shirt that I wore and loved, and I lived into this identity for years. Even convinced my husband, in the dating times, that I was outdoors-y. But I would never have claimed “artsy” as a quality I had. I’ve always loved to write, but creating art was never really a thing I did. And when I did do it, for a required art class, it was certifiably terrible. I wish I had the proof to post here. Alas, to the trash it went.

But as I have aged and changed, I notice my love for art is growing.

I first started to realize my need when EBug was a newborn. My routine was totally devoid of creative expression, and I felt my brain turning to mush. I needed art. I think that we all do.

I think it can take many forms from an interest in fashion to planning lessons for preschoolers. But whatever form it takes, it enriches life, and I think that children may know this better than any of us.

EBug is at a stage where her imagination is exploding. Her cup runneth over with words and ideas and creativity, and it is one of the neatest things I have experienced as a mom to watch this unfold and to foster it in any small way.

So we now spend a little time each day doing something art-y. IMG_9629 IMG_9630IMG_0102These types of activities are always a hit, but I think E’s interest in such things presented big time yesterday, when she begged me to take her to an art museum. Begged. IMG_0113 IMG_0117Of course, a puppet came with us. IMG_0139 IMG_0142 IMG_0146 IMG_0147Abstract art is so kid friendly. We are going to use some of these pieces as inspiration.

But the very very best part-was the sculpture garden. So fun!IMG_0160 IMG_0164 IMG_0171 IMG_0177 IMG_0180 IMG_0188 IMG_0195 IMG_0197I am proud of my little artist and am glad I get a front row seat to watch her bloom.

So show me family

Our life has been full, even though my blog has been empty.

It’s been a rich season around here. Lots of saying, “Yes,” to being in community with others, lots of conversations about priorities and the future, lots of fun filled days with the children, and it’s left little time for any blogging.

I’ve missed it, but haven’t felt compelled, like I usually do, to attend to it. A time for everything I guess.

But I did want to find a moment to dump these photos and talk about my family.

Starting with this man. Our leader. IMG_0008I feel sad for everyone that is not married to him. Rejoicing though that I am the one that gets to be! And maybe you know him but, of course, aren’t married to him, and I just have to say that what you see and experience of his sincerity and service and leadership just give a small glimpse into the depths of his love and heart.

He is an incredible man of faith and conviction, and I have watched the Lord grow in him a deep desire for righteous living. He leads us well, and I am beyond grateful to be his wife.

He recently had a birthday, and we were able to spend 5, kid-free hours together thanks to a very sweet friend. We had the best date, and I am always reminded of how refreshing and important those times are. Can’t get enough.

Then there’s these guys:IMG_0018 The munchkin-ette. Obsessed with being outdoors, high-energy activities, and currently-puppet shows. The girl wants me to do puppet shows constantly. She would have the puppets go everywhere with us if she could. IMG_0024 Then there’s this munchkin. His current obsession is roll-call. “Where Mommy go? Where Daddy go? Where Sissy go?” He keeps tabs. IMG_0032 IMG_0034 IMG_0036 IMG_0049 Watching the two of them together has been such a joy. When E embraces her role of big sister, the harmony that results is tear-inducing. IMG_0058 IMG_0060Corn maze fun. IMG_0062 IMG_0074IMG_0110The other day Brother was crying from his crib because he was up from his nap. Rob and I were finishing up a conversation, and E said, “Mommy, my baby brother is crying… Mommy, you need to go get him.” And since we were quickly getting in our last few sentences to each other, she took matters into her own hands, “I’m coming, Bud!!!” and ran in to comfort her little sidekick. They make me smile.

Short but sweet

As my family can attest to, I am a freak about time change. And it’s one of those things, where I know I am being neurotic, and I can’t even stop. Whenever I travel, I am always assuming that my children and I are still on our old time.

For example, it can be 10:30am at my mom’s house, and I will be just convinced that we have to eat, because it feels like 11:30 to our bodies. Or I put the kids to bed super early, because surely they are tired since their bodies are telling them it’s 7:30 their time. Then, as is to be expected, they wake up at the crackety crack, dawn of time. This does not result in enjoyable moods, for anyone, mainly me.

But recently I read something about how to deal with jet lag, and I applied it to our travel situation (laughable, I know!). It said, essentially, that your circadian clock will sync with your “food clock.” So this trip, I gave it a try and decided to have the kids eat their meals according to the time zone we were actually in!  (Rob is laughing right now reading this, I’m sure.)

It really changed the travel experience. They slept until their normal times, and everyone had a fighting chance to be the best forms of themselves.

Can you believe all that was to preface that we just took a little trip to see family, and it was the best long weekend ever! I mean, the best. The flights, with Rob with us, were seamless, and the days spent with grandparents were bliss.

As Ev gets older, I can see the way she treasures her relationships with them. She and Brother both were completely comfortable and thrilled to be with all of them, and Ev said several times that she did not want to leave! Talk about pulling at your heartstrings.

We were able to see both sets of grandparents as we hopped from one interview for a hospitalist position over to Rob’s ten year high school reunion. In between all of that we were able to squeeze in a visit to a pumpkin patch, the children’s museum, time at the park, and lots of great food. IMG_9802 IMG_9806 IMG_9812 IMG_9817 IMG_9823 IMG_9826 IMG_9828 IMG_9840 IMG_9842 IMG_9844 IMG_9847 IMG_9853 IMG_9855 IMG_9861 IMG_9866 IMG_9869 IMG_9875 IMG_9877 IMG_9880 IMG_9889 IMG_9892 IMG_9908 IMG_9914 IMG_9921 IMG_9927 IMG_9934 IMG_9961 IMG_9963 IMG_9964 IMG_9969 IMG_9971 IMG_9977 IMG_9981 IMG_9985This last picture is a little exhibit at the museum where you compete to be more relaxed than your opponent. I would certainly lose. To anyone. But I do feel that this trip was the most relaxed I have ever been while away from our nest. We had a really great time and miss our families already!! There’s no place like home.

Preschool Playgroup

Oh my goodness. I have so much I should be doing right now. The lists in this season of my life do not end. They just don’t. But sometimes I just shove them to the far corners of the earth, and I blog. I have to. I love to.

And today I have to type about one of my favorite parts of our week. Preschool Playgroup.

Just to rabbit trail for a second: there are so many things that we do and endeavor to do in life that must be balanced and moderated. Example, food. It is a wonderful gift, but too much of it, and it’s gluttony. Wine, love ya, but too much, and a problem begins. Even discipline, I was thinking about the other day, and too little is foolish, but too much can be really dangerous territory. Asking the Holy Spirit to guide me in balance is a huge prayer of mine.

Which brings me to education, such a passion. And as I seek to educate my children, which I firmly believe begins now and happens in all kinds of ways, I want that balance. I want to create opportunities for my children to learn and gain knowledge without pushing and pressuring. Walking this line well has been a goal for me and my friends as we plan and execute preschool playgroup.

We gathered this summer and really sorted through our ideas, options, and desires for this special time. We wanted a lot of learning to happen in a really playful, engaging way. It’s easy to make letters and numbers fun, and now we are entering the next phase of putting those building blocks together. But we still want the fun!

I am really glad that we have put the time and energy into our format, because I think we have struck gold.IMG_9727Scripture memory is important to us, so we teach the kids a new verse each week. They practice it at home, and then get their sticker the following week for saying it. They have done so great with this. And I can reference the verses throughout the week in real life situations.

Show and Tell has been a really effective way to review letters and sounds. They bring items each week that correspond with the sound they are assigned. This activity has been  awesome, because EBug will go around the house looking for an object and get opportunities to practice tons of other sounds in the process.

BOB books. Now, these are just awesome. After teaching all the letters, I had no idea the next step. There are so many blends and combinations and blah blah blah. The BOB books really do that analyzing for you. We use the books as a springboard for practicing phonics and building words. IMG_9730They start with some simple letter combinations to make easy to read stories that the kids love. Just their speed. You can buy them in a set, and each book is perfectly sized for little hands. Ev loves to showcase her reading abilities, which is great practice. Grandparents, get ready to listen to some BOB books.

Read Aloud. We have started including a read aloud story in our lessons too. Kids love to be read to. I remember reading to my fourth graders when I taught, and it was one of their favorite times of day.IMG_9759Veritas Workbook. We have introduced a little workbook action. They are just too cute doing it. We are starting with some listening pages, where they color the picture that starts with the sound we give. IMG_9761IMG_9750IMG_9755Game Time is a big hit. We do simple games that allow them to move around and play together. Watching their friendships grow and blossom has been one of the sweetest parts of all this.

Math does not come as naturally to me to teach. It seems like there are several different directions to go after teaching numbers 1-20. Right now we are focusing on patterns. This has been a great starting place with lots of options for activities. From there, we will probably work on number sense.

Snack is always part of our morning and is highly anticipated by the preschoolers. The snack no longer coordinates with anything, which is kind of nice. It’s just whatever we guess they will like. Not always as easy as it sounds.

We like to finish the morning with a craft.  This is maybe my favorite part to plan and watch them do. IMG_9766They seem to really enjoy it, and we tie in some phonics practice by glueing down words that label the craft. It’s fun to display Ev’s hard work and for her to have something to show daddy when he gets home to tell him about all we learned. IMG_9774During the week we each work with our kids at home, one on one, to practice the verse, the sounds, and the BOB books. I am always struck by how effective (and fun!) this time with her is. Building words and eating popcorn is an awesome afternoon activity. She loves it.

Little brothers are absent from photos, because the moms who are not teaching for that day take the little boys to another room for some toddler time. This has been the biggest stroke of genius. It allows for the time with the preschoolers to be maximized.

I am so thankful for these friends the Lord has blessed me with. Preschool playgroup is not perfect; it can definitely feel like herding cats sometimes, but it is a treasure to me. It’s exciting to watch these little learners blossom, and I am just thankful for this collaboration with these girls. Such a treat.