Thursday, September 18, 2014


I don't know why it's so hard for me to remember this, but a walk, no matter how short or long, clears my head more than anything else can.  By "clears my head" I mean washes away worries, doldrums, ruts, crabbies, just about everything.  No matter what the weather, it's always good to get out and breathe some fresh air, I think our bodies and minds need nature.  Now I sound like my mom! (Thanks mom for the best advice always!)

Janey and I went on a little walk around the block.  I laughed because taking walks with Patrick at this age was easy-he would zip around the block most of the time, a man on the mission, sometimes we could do loops and he'd burn off his puppy energy and I could walk a nice steady pace. With Janey-don't get me wrong I still love it, but it sometimes is a lesson in patience also.  First we have to bring options-like the scooter and the stroller and the baby, and I have learned to also bring the big stroller because sometimes walking really really slow, back tracking a little, testing to see if we have to actually stay on the sidewalk instead of creep towards the street, gets tiring and she wants the option of sitting in the stroller.  It takes us a long long time to make one single loop and I have to distract at every corner as she feels out who is "boss" of this walk-thank the Lord for distractions like squirrels and dogs barking and neighbors that lead us in the right direction.  (The right direction being my way, without a melt down.)

Yesterday I noticed how beautiful some of my favorite houses and their front doors looked and took some photos. I love the beginning of autumn in my little town-it feels old-fashioned and cozy and pretty. (Which has much to do with the weather.)

This house is always always perfect.

I have been inside this house for an open house years and years ago and it has tons of neat nooks and crannies and built-ins.

 You can't tell from this photo but the landscaping around this home is gorgeous.

This house is very simple-I think someone elderly lives here, I never see anyone out and it's not all "fussy", which makes me love it even more.

And how we roll:

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Things I Want To Remember

I absolutely should be trying to take a little nap right now, while Janey is napping-she has been under the weather the last two nights and I feel like a fuzzy headed zombie, and a nap would do me good, but alas.

Abbey turned 18.  Look at my wonderful cake!  The foil I covered it with got stuck.  It all tastes the same anyways.

Here is a funny story about Abbey turning 18 I never will forget. She finally has an Iphone!  She had it all of two days, when she went out to eat with her friends for a birthday dinner at Olive Garden.  And a waitress dropped an entire tray of plates on Abbey and her gifts and her Iphone happened to be sitting on top of her gifts and it got squished.  And I mean squished!  Not just shattered, it looked like a car ran over it.  Bent, dented, squished! After all those years of waiting. We had to laugh, it was just too crazy.  I also laughed because while she was relaying this information to Jeff on the phone I was just hearing one side, and not clearly.  I heard "insurance, not covered, did you get hurt?, how bad is it damaged" and my heart dropped, and then I asked Matt who heard more of the conversation, "What happened to Abbey?" and he said in his mumbly teenage boy way, what I thought was, "She broke her bone at the restaurant because someone dropped a tray on her."  I immediately went to- "She's in the ER, not the right one because insurance isn't covering it, CPR?"  (I also thought I heard something about CPR.  I don't know how but I did. Which made me think for a second she broke her bone and choked!)
So when I found out she broke her PHONE not her BONE, things all seemed a little funnier.
(And Olive Garden is replacing the darn thing, you better believe it!)
And most importantly, it wasn't the end of the world for her, she laughed about it, which is the correct reaction on the "how important is this in life" scale. 
I think maybe inside she was sort of feeling like it wasn't too funny, which I understand, but perspective is the key, and every mom of teenage girls always prays to sees the path to good perspective grow and mature as they progress through the teenage years.  
That's a fancy way of saying that we all panic when we see for example, our teen girls weeping over a hair out of place in 7th grade, that they slowly learn to steady themselves and see the world and it's obstacles with some clarity.  

College drop off day.  (Abbey had to work, Matt had soccer practice.)  If I thought high school goes fast, oh boy, college flies by.  He's a junior already!  He has the same room mate as last year, who happens to be an only child, and we parents think it's funny they get along so well.  They are staying in the dorm Isaac was in freshman year, but it is newly renovated and so nice-much better smelling that's for sure!

Isaac counting up his cash before he leaves.  (He delivered pizzas all summer and made some good tips and loved it.)


This will be one of my favorite pics.  They fought like banshees over the car this summer, but they are good friends too, I just have to remind them of that sometimes.  They look out for each other and did when they were little also.

This little girl, I don't know.  She is sweet and temperamental and brave and timid and demanding and easy and keeps me on her toes all day long (and into the evening also.)  But most of all she is a joy!

Matt, in a rare moment of free time.  I hardly see that kid!  Soccer and homework and weekend plans that have to be tampered down.  He is loving high school and loving his classes.

This is Abbey's friend.  Abbey has been stealing my camera.  She took some beautiful senior pics, gorgeous and natural and real and I think she will have many more requests.  There seems to be a trend this year for some seniors to get makeovers and do model-y pics, and I see how that would appeal to teens and be sort of fun, but heck, I like the real ones, because real should be celebrated, and all these girls are beautiful the way they are.  And they will want to see themselves one day, not a photo of someone they hardly recognize!
But what do I know, I'm just the mom.

Just the mom, checking the light.  

Here's a sneak peak of Abbey's senior pic that I took-nothing like September light!  
I realized that my eyes have gotten so bad, that I can't see the screen, which means I need to bring reading glasses, which I refuse to do, so I just shoot away and hope for the best.

Sweet pea with the devilish grin.

We went and bought a fire pit last night and it took too long to put together, and then we were all too scared to look for wood because it was pitch black, so we burned marshmallows and popcorn using twigs and leaves and pine cones, and then I made everyone go to bed. 

And now I'm all caught up.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Things That Make Me Happy

It's September my favorite month of the year.  The air is crisp, the sun is brilliant, the temperature is cooler in the evening and just right during the day.  What's not to love?  (Besides fall allergies, but let's pretend that's not an issue.)

After this busy summer, I feel like I've caught my breath and can rearrange my head somewhat. It's amazing what a little recharge will do.  I feel like I had to take a step back and remember some things-the things that make my life feel full and my soul at peace.   Little and big things.

-The most important is practicing contentment. I crave that feeling and I really do feel like it's the key to happiness-because it goes right along with gratitude.  For the last six months, I have been spending money-picking out light fixtures, cabinet knobs, carpet, BLAH.  Dumb stuff.  It was necessary for me to do those things at the time, but heck, I want off that track, and now that we are finished here, and things are functional and basic, I'm jumping off!  Life is so much more important-so much more full-than STUFF.  And oh, does it feel good.  Function and organization and beautiful living spaces-I love them to the point where real life can shine through, beyond that it's all just feels like it robs me of precious time.  Sounds hokey but it's true to me.

And contentment doesn't just end with material goods.  It also means to me a settling in-finding contentment in small tasks, not large projects, or slow days, not "busy".  Busy never breeds contentment, it makes us miss the important stuff that life is made of.  Being content in just an ordinary day's work-that's the best.

-Staying far away from any/all media.  I haven't watched TV most of spring and all summer.  Or read the paper.  What is the latest news story?  I have no idea!  It's awesome.  I don't know how to explain it but it makes me feel so much better about humankind in general.  The news media operates on negativity, drama, fear and lies.  When around me I can see kindness, generosity, best interest, and love.  Sure evil too, I know it, but if I'm consumed by the negativity, I am not able to operate out of love, and the real story-that's never reported.  Does that make sense?  I'm sure it doesn't, but somehow I feel it's right.  Knowing the latest and greatest doesn't change things, it's action that changes things.  How often do we act on what we hear or do we just 'gossip' about it?  Real change happens with kindness and understanding, not fear and mistrust in human kind.

-Routine.  Getting work down before play, doing the same things every day, even when I don't want to.  Preparing dinner in the morning, staying on top of the laundry, making beds, running a vacuum or sweeping the floor, running as few errands as possible-being orderly-it orders my mind and allows me to be present for the important stuff.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Andrew turned 11!  We bought him a Kindle Paperwhite, after doing an enormous amount of research, and compromise in my head, since I love love love books and hate hate hate screens.  But honestly, this kid is an insatiable reader and I have a hard time keeping up with his trips to the library (and the batteries for his headlamps/flashlights he uses at night!:)  He was thrilled.
It seems like yesterday he was playing with Thomas the Train-one of my favorite photos of him!

And this little girl is two!  We bought her a little scooter (that I just gave her today because in the busyness of the weekend I forget it was hidden up in my closet) and just a few more things, like puzzles, and play food and a coloring book and crayons.  She loved being sung to, and opening her presents.  

Birthdays make me so sentimental (but having three in two weeks also keeps me so busy I don't let that run away from me.)  All I keep thinking about is how lucky I am to be a mom to these kids.  How lucky I am to hold them as infants, and wonder what they will be like as they grow, and then over course of many years, see that personality emerge.  It's wonderfully rewarding, each one of them with such different characteristics, each one learning about life and about themselves and their capabilities and gifts at different paces.  I can't imagine bigger work, a different life, anything close to as fulfilling as what I've done for the last 20 years.  

Happy Birthday Janey and Andrew!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Back To School

Four down, one to go, and the last one is all mine, all day, and we are going to have some fun.  Fun meaning: quiet walks, books, cleaning, laundry, organization, meal making, and routine, routine, routine.  Because Janey and I both need it!

(Isaac graced us with his presence early in the morning.)

I remember when he Isaac looked like this, the year after we moved in to our house, with Abbey and Matt, who are now a freshman and senior:

 And off Andrew and Patrick go:

She'll cry next year, right now she is just confused-"where did those kids go?"

I have four different schools this year, four different start dates.  Highschoolers first.  Abbey has saved up so many electives she told me, "Mom don't ever ask me if I have my homework finished OK?  I don't have any!"  I am happy for her, she has worked hard the last three years.  She is taking a piano class, teaching herself to play.  Matt is playing soccer and loving it and working hard and loves high school.

That's enough for now-I have to make good use of nap time and put this house back together after all the wear and tear of summer days.

P.S. Thank you for all your birthday gift ideas for Janey!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Birthday Gift Ideas Needed!

Janey's second birthday is coming up and I'm in desperate need of a few great toddler girl gift ideas...I'm used to buying Lego and cars and Nerf guns and guys.  She has enough of those to play with.  Right now Janey has a little kitchen and a stroller she loves, and Abbey's old Bitty Baby and crib.  If you have had a little daughter this age, what is her favorite most played with toy? 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Still Alive and Catching Up

Beautiful summer clouds.

Oh, I wish that was me.  A nap sounds good.

Boys fighting summer boredom.

We had a chance to escape the construction and get away with friends to Bethany Beach.  We shared a big house and had so much fun.  The week flew by.  The kids had a great time in the waves, and I ate way way too much ice cream and caramel corn.

Thanks to Abbey I have some photos, because I didn't touch my camera once...and it must have felt neglected because it promptly broke as soon as I unpacked the darn thing-I'm without a camera for a week or two until I find a replacement.

The big boys came also, but I have no photos of either Isaac or Matt. :(

We are almost there addition-wise.  ALMOST there.  (Two months late, and why oh why can't we (meaning they) just finish already???)  I'm frustrated and can't wait for it to be over so I can wash my hands of all the stress (I will never ever do this again, mark my word, I know I said that last time we renovated this kitchen but this time I mean it I really really do) and just enjoy the extra space.  Here's a few pics of the kitchen:
I chose a marble look-a-like quartz for the island, and that's a great big pantry to the right.  A cookie sheet drawer is going above the double oven, not in place yet (which was my idea to save someone else from their measuring mistake, thank you very much.)  The roll of cork is going on side of fridge panel, and I have about 20 back to school papers waiting to stick on it. 

For now, I am trying to balance back to school prep and planning with enjoying these last beautiful days of summer vacation.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Ordinary Days

I know, I know, she looks so old! It's the piggies that do it.

After a swim meet.  We've had a lame swim team season because two meets were 'stormed' out.

Our evening bike rides, my favorite part of summer:

Some good quick blog posts I've read this year and loved:

1. If I Could Only Offer One Piece of Advice To Young Moms by Melanie Jean Juneau.   So simple, so true.

2. A Letter To My Boys by Renee Robinson.  A thousand times, YES.

3. Bucket List by Katrina Kenison  "The question rose up hot and fierce as a reprimand in my chest: “Had I loved my life enough?”