Monday, May 23, 2016

The Beach, The Mountains, Paris, and My Bed

"When the dog bites,
When the bee stings,
When I'm feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things, 
and then I don't feel so bad."

A familiar verse that Julie Andrews (as Maria) sang in the "Sound of Music."

Sometimes, the things that make me feel better, though, are not things at all. They are places - some of my favorite places. Whether I can go there in person or just by closing my eyes and letting my mind wander, they are places that bring me comfort and peace.

The Beach
The sound of the waves, the breeze blowing, and the sand between my toes. I find the beach to be supremely peaceful and relaxing. All my worries and stress just melt away as I close my eyes and listen to the waves.

The Mountains
I grew up near the mountains of North Carolina, so now, going to the mountains feels like going home. It IS going home and home is comfort. It's family, unconditional love, a slower pace, and my mom's cooking. 

Maybe it's because it was my first time outside the US. Maybe it's because it was a trip my husband and I took without the kids. Maybe it's because it was near Christmas. Maybe it's just because it's PARIS! I loved going there and would go back in a heartbeat. While there, I was overwhelmed and enamored by it's history. It was all-consuming in a wonderful way.

My Bed
Yes, I'm totally stealing this one from Dana, but it's true. Like most moms, I'm usually the first one up in the morning and the last one to go to bed at night. And, let's be honest - the days are long, parenting is hard, and, by 9:00pm, I'm exhausted. Nothings feels as good and putting on comfy pajamas, snuggling under the covers, finally relaxing a little with TV or a book, and falling asleep with hopes that I'll dream of Paris, the beach, or the mountains while I slumber. 

Another reason I like my bed? I always try to remember that, no matter how wonderful or horrible the day may have been, if all go to bed knowing that we are safe and loved, then, it's been a good day. My bed is where every day begins anew and ends victorious. 

What are your favorite places?

This post was written s part of the "Who Am I" Project hosted by Dana of Kiss My List and Bev of Linkouture. This month's prompt was Favorite Places.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

8 Ways I Can Tell it's the End of the School Year

Eleven and a half -as of today, that is how many days we have let tin this school year. 

This has been a good year, but it has had its stresses and frustrations just like any school year does and honestly, I'm completely done with this school year! Here are some of the telltale signs that I have completely run out of energy and patience. 
  1. My calendar is also a total mess. Field trips, end of year celebrations, testing, requests for help with test proctoring and said parties/field trips/etc. Not to mention soccer games and sports team celebrations. Oy! It's like December all over again!
  2. I've stopped asking about homework - I used to ask them every day on the way home, "Do you have homework?" and help them strategize how long it would take and when they should do it. I checked it over and and made sure they put it neatly back in their folders. Now? Who cares??? Why do they even have homework right now? I mean, if they haven't learned it already, there's pretty much no point, right?
  3. Lunchables - They are what's for lunch. At the beginning of the year, I tried to plan out a weekly lunch menu full of variety and healthy options for my kiddos. Now? I throw a lunchable in their lunch boxes and don't even care.
  4. Speaking of lunch boxes. . .  my kids' lunch boxes and book bags are a mess. They have been used and abused for the past 10 months and they look awful (and, probably smell even worse if I got close enough to check.) You know what, though? I could not possibly care less. They can hold on for a couple more weeks! 
  5. Their clothes are stained and too small. They fit back in October, but now they are a little snug way too small and stained. The pants look like they are ready for a flood and the shirts barely even tuck in anymore. But, we are making them last until the end! 
  6. Weeknight Dinners have disintegrated much like the lunches I pack each day. At this point, we eat out or do take out at least three or four times a week. The other nights are either basic spaghetti, tacos from a  kit, or "everyone fend for yourselves" kind of nights. 
  7. Bedtime has become rather lax. This fall I was a stickler about my kids' bedtime. These days, I let them stay up a few minutes later each night because I just don't want to deal with it - and neither do they!  
  8. I've given up on mornings, too. I let them sleep as long as possible. They say they don't want breakfast? Oh well - not worth the argument. Also, we are NEVER even slightly early to school. Most mornings, we scurry out the door at the last second and pull into carpool line just in time. 
These are just some of the symptoms of "end-of-school-year-itis." I'm sure my level of exhaustion and disinterest is quite evident in my overall "I don't give a flip" attitude and "ho-hum" demeanor as well. 

I am SO DONE with this school year! Here are 8 ways you can tell. @TheGoldenSpoons

We'll survive, though. We'll finish out these last couple of weeks and be sleeping in on lazy summer mornings before we know it. Until then, thank goodness for lunchables! 

How do you survive the last few weeks of the school year?

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Little Taste of NOLA!

Last night, while I was sleeping, I dreamt of a vacation. I dreamt of sleeping until 9:00am in a plush, hotel bed. I envisioned myself sitting at a cafe all alone but surrounded by people while nibbling delicious pastries and  sipping coffee. In the dream, I was mingling with other adults who actually wanted to talk about things other than kids, and homework, and calendars. They called me by my name instead of yelling out "Mom!". I imagined spending time with my husband and without my kids. 


It wasn't a dream. It actually happened and I have pictures to prove it!!

Every other year, my husband attends a business conference in which spouses are invited to tag along. Two years ago it was in Las Vegas and this year it was in New Orleans. My in-laws attend with our daughters so I could travel with David. We left on Saturday afternoon and came back on Wednesday. 

I knew I needed a break. I was tired, stressed, and, honestly, hanging on by a thread. I had been counting down the days until the trip and, as we drove to the airport, I felt the tension melting away. 

We arrived on Saturday night and hung out with some of David's colleagues for a while. After a good night's sleep, we got up Sunday morning and joined our group for an Airboat Swamp adventure! It was a beautiful day and lots of fun.

That afternoon, we walked around the French Quarter before heading back to get ready for the opening conference reception.
Monday and Tuesday I was on my own as David was in meetings during the day. On Monday, I slept in until 9:00am!!! It was heavenly!!!!! After a leisurely morning, I headed out int he afternoon. I walked along the riverfront and did some shopping. I also went to Cafe DuMonde for a second time. I sat at a table by myself, but surrounded by people, and enjoyed the beignets and a delightful cup of coffee before heading back to the hotel for the evening conference activities.

Tuesday, I took a three hour bus tour of the city. It was a very tourist-y thing to do, but I got a great overview of the whole city. The weather was rainy, too, so taking in the sites on a nice, dry bus was a perfect thing to do. The tour guide was very entertaining as well. When the tour was over, I stopped in at a little cafe in the French Quarter and enjoyed some jambalaya and bread pudding while watching the people go by. 

That night was a "fancy" dinner at the conference and packing up to head home. 

Wednesday was back to reality, but I was just beginning to miss my girls and was almost ready to come home anyway. 

We all need an opportunity to get away from time to time (more on that in a future blog post) and I think that maybe, just maybe, that little bit of respite and relaxation was enough to get me through the next three weeks as my girls finish out the school year. 

When is the last time you had a vacation? Where did you go?
If you go go anywhere on vacation tomorrow, what place would you choose?
This post if part of the Finish the Sentence Friday Linkup hosted by Kristi of Finding Ninee. This week the sentence was, "While I was sleeping, I dreamt . . . . "

Friday, May 13, 2016

10 Things People Without Kids Totally Take for Granted

On the day I was born (March 1), Jimmy Carter was President, Laverne and Shirley were #1 on TV, a gallon of gas cost 65 cents, and the average price of a new house was just under $50,000. According to Billboard, the number one song on that day was "Evergreen" by Barbara Streisand, the theme song from a movie called "A Star Is Born." Coincidence? Perhaps. (Especially since one website says there were 374,000 babies born worldwide on my birthdate.) 
In the years since that day, I have learned a lot of things, but nothing has taught me more than motherhood. Parenting has changed my perspective and taught me about an extraordinary level of frustration, fear, joy, and love that, previously, I never knew existed. It has also made me realize that, in the years before I became a mom, there were many things I completely took for granted.  

Alone time - Before kids, being alone is usually negative. We try to avoid being alone by filling our calendars with activities and friends. After kids, we are NEVER alone. If by some miracle it happens, it becomes a guilt-inducing luxury that requires careful planning and/or sheer luck.

Silence - Ah, the blissful sound of silence! Before kids, we fill our atmosphere with sounds of TV, music, people, etc. After kids, we would give just about anything to turn it (and them!) all off and just soak in the quiet for a minute or two.
SILENCE and 9 other things we take for granted before kids. #FTSF #PARENTING @TheGoldenSpoons

Schedule flexibility - A friend calls at the last minute and says, "Hey! Want to meet me for coffee?" Before kids, you say, "Sure!", grab your purse, and head out the door. After kids, you have to consider how the coffee date will disrupt your kids' nap schedule or mealtime; secure a baby-sitter if you don't want to take the kid; pack the diaper bag/snack bag/all-the-things-to-keep-kids-occupied bag; and- oh yeah - take a shower because you haven't had one in a couple of days. Most of the time, it's almost not even worth the effort.

Food- Before kids, food is a secondary thing to consider when you go out. If you eat at home, you just have to please yourself and, maybe, a spouse. You can run to the grocery store just about whenever you need. After kids, you have to deal with picky eaters and kids hanging off your leg while you cook. We all know taking kids to a restaurant or the grocery store can end up being a total disaster and don't even get me started on the grocery bill!

Cleanliness- I am so tired of cleaning. Having kids means more humans in the house which also means more dishes, more laundry, and more dirt. As soon as I clean something, it gets trashed again the minute the kids walk in. Earlier this week, my middle daughter complained because she didn't have any clean clothes. When I went to her room to help her find something, this was the scene in her closet . . . . .
I rest my case. I'm pretty much convinced that my house will never be really clean again until my kids move out.  

"Adult" tv/movies - Get your minds out of the gutter - I'm not talking about those kind of movies. I'm talking about the basic stuff. My girls are getting older, so we have moved beyond Dora and Caillou (Thank goodness!), but I still don't want them watching shows full of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. Since our daughters are bound to walk through the room unannounced at some point, my husband and I have to be careful what we watch, too. Even shows that seem innocent, like The Big Bang Theory,  have some very adult concepts/jokes/etc. when you view it through the eyes of an elementary school kid.

Your own parents - My parents must have had it easy because my brother and I were pretty good kids! (OK - stop laughing, mom!) Really, I'm just kidding. It doesn't matter if the kids are "good" or not, parenting is HARD!!! Just the volume of stuff you have to think about and stuff you have to do is overwhelming. Throw in a healthy dose of worry and guilt on top of all that and it's a miracle any of us survive. 

Sleep/sleeping in - This one doesn't require much explanation. However, I will point out one thing. We all know that parents of newborns don't get much sleep - that's a given. As kids get older, though, it doesn't get too much better. My kids are 13, 11, and 8, but we're up at the crack of dawn to get to school and up late doing extracurriculars and homework. Plus - that whole "sleep while the baby sleeps" thing? These days, naps are only a memory somewhere in a very distant past. 

Perky boobs/svelt physique - Have you seen this meme? Yeah. That.

Doing anything without being interrupted - Sleeping. Peeing. Folding Laundry. Watching TV. Eating. Hiding. Doesn't matter what I'm doing, chances are someone is going to need something and/or start shouting "Mooooooom!" when I'm right in the middle of whatever it is. 

How about you? What did you take for granted before you had kids that you would really like to get back now?

This post was written as part of the Finish the Sentence Linkup hosted by Kristi of Finding Ninee. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

#TuesdayTen Photo Stream

It's the first Tuesday in May and that means Tuesday Ten!!! Since May is Photo Month, I decided to have some fun and share some of the photos that are currently on the camera roll of my phone. We've done this before but it's always fun! It's always amazing to see how our camera roll reflects our lives and to think about how we ever survived without a camera at our fingertips anytime, anywhere! 

These aren't exactly the last 10 photos on my phone because some of those 10 are repetitive, boring, or of people I don't have permission to share. So, instead, I just chose 10 fairly recent ones to share.

We had our spring break back at the end of March. The girls and I went to spend some time with my parents. We had beautiful weather, so we went hiking one day with my brother and his three kids. This is a shot of all the cousins on some rocks on the trail.

Have you seen that meme that's been going around the internet that says something about "There's nobody as full of hope as a parent with a new chore chart?" Well, when I first saw it, I had to chuckle because I had just put this on our refrigerator a couple days beforehand. So far, the weekly chore part is going pretty well. The Daily laundry assignments? Not so much. 

The job I have been doing at our church on an interim basis was recently made permanent. (Yay!) A couple weeks ago, all of the Christian Education staff went away for a planning retreat. We went to a cabin in the mountains that had a huge deck with a fabulous view. We were obsessed with watching the sunset off that deck in the evening. It was beautiful.

One evening, some co-workers and I went hiking and saw this beautiful waterfall.

Recently, my youngest daughter, Emily, and I cleaned a lot of stuff in her room. It had really gotten our of hand! Anyway, I took a picture of this Barbie house and "accessories" to send to my sister in law to ask if she wanted to for her two year old daughter. The play house was a hand me down to Emily from another cousin. Emily just doesn't play with it anymore and it takes up a lot of space. The photo is still on my phone and, unfortunately,  the Barbie house is still in Emily's room! 
Speaking of Emily, she is the only child I now who has ever been excited about orthodontia! About a month ago, she got a palette expander that we have to turn periodically and, a couple weeks ago, she went back for this headgear. She actually only has to wear it at night while she sleeps, but she was so excited about it she put it on as soon as we got in the car and texted a picture to my husband. 

Last week, I actually had a morning without much on my to do list. It was a pretty day, so I seized the opportunity to get in a walk. I took our overweight border collie, Sophie, along for some company and to get her a little exercise, too. 

When I said some of the photos on my phone were repetitive, this is what I meant! I mad this pizza pasta last night and took lots of photos thinking I could share it here on the blog. Then, I remembered that I had already shared a very similar casserole version. That one is from 2013, though, and this one was a stovetop version, so maybe I'll share again! 

That #13 there is my middle daughter, Megan. I took this at halftime of their tournament championship game last week. They lost the game, but they played hard. She loves soccer and has learned a lot of life lessons from playing. 

This is the photo I see every time I look at my phone because it's my screen background. I love the happy expressions all my girls have and hope that I can always wrap my heart around that kind of joy. 

What photos are on your phone right now?

Your Tuesday Ten hostesses are:


The Teacher Wife
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