Friday, July 21, 2017

Summer So Far . . .

Summer's half-way over according to the calendar, but I feel like the end is just around the corner. My oldest daughter attends a special high school program that is housed on a college campus, so they follow a college schedule which means she got out just before Memorial Day. However, my two younger daughters didn't get out until a couple weeks later in June. Now, the two youngest have almost all of August before they go back to school, but the oldest goes back on August 3 - less than two weeks from now. Even though we won't be back up and running at full speed with all the kids in school for another month, once she goes back, our summer vibe is most definitely deflated. 

With a summer that seems viciously short, I find myself thinking about what I've accomplished - and what I haven't.There's plenty still left on my to-do list, but we've accomplished a few things, too! 

What I/We've accomplished:


We spent a week in June in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. It was beautiful and we had a great time! It took us far too long to agree on a place to go and one that would make all five of us happy, but in the end, this was  good choice. We stayed at a resort that had lots of activities for kids and adults. It was our kids' first time out of the US and it was definitely a learning experience with customs, passports, and travel hassles. It was also interesting to see them learning about cultural tidbits (like no ice in drinks) and seeing people from a wide variety of cultures. 

I'm not much of a DIY-er. I have a terrible eye for design and I'm always scared to make big changes in case those changes turn out to be bad choices. But, you never know until you try, right? So, over the July 4th weekend, we finally painted over the 1970s paneling in our den. After much debate and many opinions, we went with a pale blue and . . . . I LOVE it!! It's so much brighter, fresher, and more modern than the dark brown wood. What do you think?

Vacation Bible School

Planning Vacation Bible School is part of my job and it really is a great, fun, energetic week that I love doing. But, it also takes A LOT of planning and the week is thoroughly exhausting! Of course, I have lots of volunteers and help, but I am the staff person in charge. Overall, it was a great week this year with only a couple minor hiccups (that stress me out way more than they should). I'm glad it's over, now, though, and will try not to start thinking about next year for at least a couple months! :-) 
This was one corner of my office about two weeks before VBS. This pile double in size by the first day of VBS and, yes, those are toilet plungers! They were for a science-y demonstration, though, not for the actual toilets! 😆
What I Haven't Accomplished:

I started the summer with a list of all the spaces in our house I want to clean out and organize. It included everything from my walk-in closet to the spice cabinet in the kitchen. I even almost wrote it up in a blog post that was never completed! I did clean out and organize my closet. I also worked on some cabinets and shelves in the den as part of the big painting project. Beyond that, though, I haven't marked much off the list. There is still tupperware falling out of my pantry, spices falling out of the cabinet, and several bags of clothes that need to be taken to Goodwill. But, hey! It's summer, right!?!?

I also started the summer with a list of books I wanted to read and that list actually did make it into a blog post! There were eight books on the list and I've only read two of them. However, I read a third book that was on my list of books to read for 2017 and I'm working on a another one from my summer list with yet another on my nightstand. The best one by far has been The Women In The Castle. If you were a fan of the Nightingale and/or All the Light We Cannot See, you really need to read this one! 

I published three blog posts in June and none, until this one, in July. So, blogging hasn't been great, but also not terrible. I did have this piece published on Grown & Flown in early July. That was the first time I have been featured on another site in a very long time and it felt pretty good, especially since it was a piece I really loved. Did you see it? 

On a scale of 1-10, I would give this summer a 7.5 so far. It's had it's fair share of stress and hard work, but also a good bit of fun, family time, and relaxing. I'm just really, really not ready for it to be semi-over when the the teenager heads back to school in a week and a half. I guess being "stuck" at home for the better part of August will give me plenty of time to get all (or some) of my unaccomplished things completed, though!

What have you been up to so far this summer???

This post is linking up with Finish the Sentence Friday hosted by Kristi at Finding Ninee. This week's sentence was "The summer's half way over and I  . . . . ".

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

There's a Hairbrush on the Kitchen Counter

There's a hairbrush on my kitchen counter and some earrings on top of the washing machine. 

There's a bikini on the bathroom floor and, when I fold laundry, figuring out which underwear belongs to whom is the closest thing to trigonometry I've done since high school.

There are never any socks in my drawer because they keep "borrowing" mine, but if I ever need a pony tail holder, there are about a billion on the floor of my minivan. I sometimes borrow their jewelry, so maybe we're almost even.

My Target shopping list includes deodorant, nail polish, tampons, and conditioner - but, they aren't all for me. 

While I'm at Target, I'll pass the baby/toddler girls' clothing section and contemplate buying some cute, ruffled outfit for my nieces while I reminisce about the time when my girls were once that small. I'll remember that bikini on the floor and the "I'm not entirely comfortable with the length (or lack of length) of those shorts" shorts I recently, hesitantly bought. I'll sigh and head toward the grocery section to replenish the pantry again because they already ate everything I bought yesterday.

One minute, someone will roll her eyes at me, annoyed by my very existence. The next moment I'll get a spontaneous, unrequested but extremely cherished embrace. Sometimes, they ignore me, locked in their bedrooms. Other times, they all need a piece of me RIGHT NOW!

This is being a mom to three tween/teen girls.

Her: Can you braid my hair?
Me: Sure. Can you braid mine? 

Her: Does this shirt match these shorts?
Me: Yes, but those shorts are too short!

Me: Do these shoes look okay with this skirt?
Her: Yes. Hey  - what size are those shoes? Do you think they would fit me?

Me: Have you combed your hair today?
Her: No. I'll just put it up in the car.

Her: Do yo have any new razors?
Me: Yeah. In the bathroom cabinets where the pads are. {Said nonchalantly as if everyone knows where that is - because, mostly, they do.)

Her: {Hugging me} How tall are you, again?
Me: 5'7" and did you grow three inches overnight?

This is being a mom to three tween/teen girls.
I "call" them to dinner by texting them  - me downstairs and them in their rooms upstairs or down the hall watching tv. 

They arrange outings with friends via text and, then, ask me for permission - and transportation and money.

They discuss Youtube videos and tag me in photos on Instagram. They know all the words to songs that are sung by "Chainsmokers" and Ed Sheeran. They are quick to "google" facts and they keep the weather forecast at their fingertips. Their devices are always at the ready and I struggle to keep it all in check without stifling their social acuity.

This is being a mom to three tween/teen girls.
From a distance, I watch them walk together and wonder when they became young women instead of little girls. I must have blinked. Wasn't it just yesterday that they were toddling around the house?

"Are they twins?" others ask. "No,"I say. "Just sisters." So similar, yet so different. 

Three daughters - so similar, yet so different from one another. Headstrong, determined, self-assured, and independent. Free spirited, silly, unabashed, and inquisitive. Self conscious, compassionate, tender hearted, and faithful. 

This is being a mom to three tween/teen girls. Some parts are fun and some parts are trying. Mostly, I'm just figuring it out as we go along. I'm sure glad these three girls  are along for the ride beside me. They give me grace when I mess up, smiles that brighten my days, and love that is beyond words.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Summer Reads 2017

Things I hate about summer: hot, humid temperatures; wearing bathing suits; bugs; hearing "I'm hungry" six million times a day; hearing "I'm bored" and "What can we DO today?" 8 billion times a day; and arguing with my kids about he need to wear sunscreen.

Things I love about summer: sleeping in; NOT packing lunches; lazy days when we don't have to be anywhere for any particular reason or at any particular time; family time; vacations; letting my husband grill dinner so I don't have to cook it; evening thunderstorms; and lots of time to READ!!! 

Now, I will admit upfront that I haven't yet read all the books on my list of books to read for 2017. So, why would I add an entirely new list of books to read for the summer? Well, because . . SUMMER!!! It's the best time for reading in my opinion! Plus, the last two books I started from my first list, just didn't' live up to my expectations, so I need to re-energize my desire to read. One way to do that is with some new books to try out! So, after reading some other lists, perusing my Goodreads recommendations, and a tiny bit of research, here are some books I look forward to reading over the summer. 

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck is a historical fiction novel about a woman named Marianne von Lingenfels. Marianne's husband, a resistor, died int he failed attempt to assassinate Hitler. After the war, Marianne returns to the castle that belonged to her husband's ancestors where she works to keep the promise she made to him to find and protect the wives of his fellow resistors. The women who come together to form this makeshift family must reconcile their pasts and overcome their challenges. Goodreads compares this one to The Nightingale and The Light Between Oceans which are two of my favorite books, so this one is a must-read for me!

One More Day by Kelly Simmons tells the story of every mother's worst nightmare - becoming the mother of the child who disappeared. But, then her sone returns -for just 24 hours before he disappears again. After that, the rumors and suspicions start to fly. When - IF - the crime is solved, what secrets will be revealed? 

 In My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Beckman, Elsa is an unusual seven year old whose best friend is her 77 year old grandmother - who is crazy. But, Elsa loves her grandmother's fairy tales about make believe lands and faraway kingdoms where everyone is different. When her grandmother dies and leaves behind letters apologizing to all the people she has wronged, Elsa is sent on an all new kind of journey. 

The Last Letter From Your Lover by JoJo Moyes is one I was hesitant to put on the list. I loved Me Before You, but the sequel was a grand disappointment. I'm holding out hope that this one will redeem Moyes. In 1960, Jennifer wakes up in the hospital not remembering anything. Then, she finds a letter asking her to leave her husband. The letter is signed, "B." Forty-three years later, Ellie, a journalist, discovers that same letter in the newspaper's archives sets out on a journey to discover the story behind the letter. 

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain is one I've considered putting on my lists before, but it never quite made the cut. I learned it would be the read for a book club this fall, so I thought I would finally add it to the list. In this novel, Ive Hart loses her parents and is left to care for her aging grandmother, her mentally ill sister, and her nephew while managing her own epilepsy. The county's newest social worker, Jane, is drawn in by the Hart family, but soon discovers dark secrets hidden on the small farm. 

What She Knew by Gilly MacMillan is another book about a missing child. This time, Rachel Jenner loses her eight year old son, Ben, after he runs ahead of her in a park. As the investigation unfurls everyone is a suspect including Rachel's newly married ex-husband, her seemingly perfect sister, and, of course, Rachel herself. As the clues come together, Rachel realizes that, sometimes, the real dangers are not strangers, but the ones we trust the most. 

The Stories We Tell by Patti Callahan Henry is the story of Eve and Cooper Morrison - Savannah's power couple. They have money, success, and what seems like a perfect marriage, but things are not always what they seem. They have challenges including Eve's sister who is staying with them and their own rebellious daughter. Then, after a car accident and different versions of what really happened, Eve has to sort out the truth and figure out what to do about it. 

Hush Little Baby by Suzanne Redfearn proves that appearances are deceiving in this novel about domestic violence and the power of a mother's love. Jillian seems to have it all, but the story is very different when the doors are closed. After nine years she has suffered in silence in an effort to protect her two children, but, eventually, she find herself fleeing - with no money and no plan. I the finds her, her will surely kill her and take the children.

Have you read any of these? What books are on your list for summer reading?

Linking up with Finish the Sentence Friday hosted by Kristi at Finding Ninee. This week's prompt was , "things I love and hate about summer . . . "

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