Friday, August 11, 2017

August and Feeling Nostalgic

It's August, and, as usual l when this month rolls around, I am feeling rather nostalgic. You see, my husband, my oldest daughter, and my youngest daughter all have birthdays early this month. Top that off with back to school season which means moving up grades, and, well, I get a little sentimental.

It starts with the hubby's birthday. Now, as we get older, at least around here, birthdays get a little less momentous, so there was not a big celebration as his birthday came and went this year. In fact, it was a rather ordinary day. That doesn't mean, though, that it didn't have significance. Celebrating my husband's birthday makes me grateful for two things: 1) That he will always be older than me, so he can never ever tease me about my age, and 2) All that we have been through together. When I first met him, I wasn't even 20 yet and we got married long before either of us was 30! I see people that age now and think, "Gosh! They're such babies!" (And, I mean that in a sweet, affectionate way - not an insulting manner). But, we were babies, too - we jsut didn't realize it then. We thought we knew it all and had everything figured out. Since then, there have been job changes, moves, kids, financial ups and downs, lots of laughter, oodles of joy, and plenty of times we didn't quite see eye to eye. Birthdays and anniversaries are markers to measure the time we've spent together,how we've grown as individuals and as a couple, and to think about what the future might hold. 
Next, just three days later to be exact, comes my oldest daughter's birthday. This year she turned 15!! Kids' birthdays make me cross-eyed as I try to look forward and backward simultaneously. I thought back to the day she was born in 2002 - the labor pains, the joy, the fear. I looked forward to the next birthday when she'll get her driver's license, and a couple more after that when she will be a legal adult at 18. In only 5 years, she'll be 20. TWENTY!!! As the song says, "Don't Blink!" It feels like that day she was born was eons ago and only just yesterday all at the same time. When she was a baby and I was a new mom, there were days when it felt like we would never possibly be where we are today - for better and for worse. I love the amazing, independent, confident, tenacious young lady she has become (and is still becoming), but I would be lying if I said that part of me doesn't sometimes miss the curly haired, ruffle wearing, Elmo loving toddler she used to be. 
After that, I get exactly 24 hours of respite from the wistfulness, and, then, it's my youngest daughter's birthday. This year, her day is extra special because she turns 10! That means everyone in my house will be in double digits. Again, it's milestones like these that send me into a whirlwind of memories from the past and visions of the future. I think about she when she was born, surprising us all by weighing in at just over 10 pounds. I think about the first few weeks with her at home. She was born exactly two weeks before the oldest started kindergarten and their two year old sister was in the middle. Those days are a blur in my rearview because I spent most of them in an exhausted, overwhelmed fog. Fortunately, she was a pretty easy baby who, like most third kids, had no choice but to adjust to the schedules already dictated by her older sisters. To make her birthdays even more heart wrenching, she has always been my most sentimental kid who often daydreams about going back to "being little" or to "when we used to have special Mommy and E days." Sigh . . . . .She often doesn't want to grow up and I often wish that my "baby" was still a baby so I could savor it a little bit more than I did (or could) back then. However, she is growing up into one of the sweetest, most compassionate kids I've ever known that that is something pretty special to experience, too.

OK . . . deep breath here. I need a minute to let all that emotion settle down.

Now, then . . . 

As if all that birthday sentimentality wasn't enough this month, August also brings the back to school season, of course, which is just another arrow taking target practice on my heart. My oldest has already started back to school - 10th grade, which means, by the end of this year, she will be half way finished with high school and about a billion steps closer to leaving for college. My middle daughter starts 7th grade which means this is her last year with no really major milestones - which actually IS kind of a milestone. Next year will be filled with high school choices, "make the most of the moment" moments, and last times. I have to remind myself not to get so caught up in what's coming next year that I miss this one. Finally, the youngest starts 5th grade. At their school, 5th is considered part of the middle school, so I officially no longer have any elementary school kids. No more class holiday parties (Yay! I think) and she won't think it's cool to have her mom chaperone the field trips anymore - maybe. I suppose that, with every school year, there are always firsts and lasts. It's par for the course, but when it comes on the heels of so much birthday reminiscence, it's just a little bit harder to swallow. 

Yep. It's August and another round of flashbacks and forecasts has me reeling. I can't believe my babies are growing up so much and so fast. I suppose all parents feel that way, though - especially when birthdays come around. I just trying to treasure the memories and delight in the future without forgetting to savor the moments that are right in front of me. 

This post is linked up with Finish the Sentence Friday hosted by Kristi at Finding Ninee. This week's sentence was "It's August and I can't believe . . . ."

Monday, August 7, 2017

Thoughts I Have While Shopping with my Daughters

I have three daughters who are currently ages 10, 12, and 15. With back to school right around the corner (or already happening for my oldest), the task of back to school shopping has become unavoidable. But, gone are the days of strolling through seas of pink and ruffles; gone are the days when I alone decided what my children would wear; and, gone are the days when the clothes I purchased qualified as "adorable" or "precious." Nowadays, I'm just trying to find clothes that cover the essential body parts, that my daughters actually like, and that will not make me want to eject my own eyeballs as I watch my girls walk out the door each day. 
I am well aware that there have been plenty of articles and blog posts about the discrepancies between boys' and girls' clothing and the lamentations of frustrated parents. (Like this one or this one or this one.) Well, I'm jumping on that bandwagon in order to get a few things off my chest about it. This blog post, however, will not be filled with research statistics or photographs comparing clothes. Instead, I am simply sharing a few of the things that run through my mind (and, occasionally spill out of my mouth) while I am walking through stores with my daughters. Ultimately, I just hope that, someday, designers and retailers will get a clue, understand how frustrating it is for parents and kids, and maybe start providing more appropriate clothing options.
  • You could just go swimming in your underwear. It would cover up more than that bathing suit does and probably be a lot less expensive.
  • Cute shirt. Where is the rest of it? 
  • Cute shorts - if you were 4 years old.
  • Won't those give you a perpetual wedgie??
  • Why would you even make a size 00?? Just go back to the girl's department if you're that small.
  • Aw, I miss the little girls' department with all those cute little dresses and bloomers! 
  • I know you wore a size 3 in those other shorts, but these are a different brand so you have to try them on. (Because, obviously, it would be way too much trouble for manufacturers to come up with some standardized sizing system so that you could wear the same size in all brands!!!!!😡)
  • OMG!! Why would they put THAT saying on a shirt for KIDS!?!?!
  • Does {Insert store/brand} not realize how much money they could make if they just made clothes that were not so ridiculous?? Seriously! They could make a freakin' fortune on shorts that were a couple inches longer. 
  • What is that color called -"puke?"
  • I wonder if the the people who make these clothes actually have any daughters? Would they let their kids wear this crap!?!?!?
  • If one of your teachers calls me to school because these shorts are not "fingertip length," I swear I'm going to make them take you shopping! 
  • If your grandmother was here she would tell you that they wore jeans with holes in them because they couldn't always afford to buy new ones when the old ones got torn and she would roll over in her grave if I paid good money for pre-ripped ones!! 😱
  • Good grief! When did I turn into my mother?!?! and grandmother?!?! 
  • What kind of nut job thought it was a good idea to make shorts so short that the pockets hang out the bottom???
  • I know I'm old and totally not cool, but I was always taught that your clothes were supposed to COVER your underwear, not make it a feature.
  • You actually LIKE that?!? Are you kidding??
  • God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change . . . . .
  • And, of course . . . .

What do you think about today's fashions for young girls??

Monday, July 31, 2017

Five Things I'm Savoring on Our Last Day of Summer Vacation

Wait - what?? Your LAST day of summer vacation?? 

Well, yes - kind of. As I explained previously, my oldest daughter attends a special high school program that runs on a college schedule. So, while the other two don't go back until late August, she goes back to school on Thursday this week. However, for the next two mornings, she will be heading out early to get in her student driving so that she can get her permit when she turns 15 in less than two weeks. 😳

So . . . .

This is our my last lazy morning of the summer. As I sat here, trying to think of all the things I need to do - clean, work, write, shower -I decided that I was NOT going to spend my last relaxed morning of summer stressed out, running through my to-do list. Instead, I am going to spend it savoring a few things that I probably won't get to enjoy very often after today - at least until next summer! 

Sleep - My husband kissed me good-bye at some unholy, before dawn hour this morning as he headed out to catch a plane for another business trip. Then, I promptly rolled over and went back to sleep. I finally got out of bed at 8:30, which is about three hours later than my typical school morning schedule once everyone goes back. Honestly, those early mornings are one of the things I hate most about school days. I am not a morning person at all and I like my sleep! I'll miss it immensely. 

Silence - You thought me getting out of bed at 8:30 was late?? Well, as I sit here typing this at 10:00am, all my kids are still sleeping. The only noise in this house is the sound of my keyboard clicking and the music I have playing on Pandora in the background. It is absolute bliss! 

Coffee  - I didn't always enjoy coffee, but, now, I do. On school mornings, though, I barely even get to actually taste my coffee. I make it in a rush, sip it in a rush, and, sometimes, forget it in the Keurig or the microwave. I often end up pouring half of it down the drain or guzzling the cold remnants just before we scurry out the door. But, not today! I'm on my second cup and it's still warm!! 

No schedule - We aren't even fully "back in it" yet, and I'm already stressed out about schedules. Just figuring out how to juggle this week's events took lists, scheduling, and enlisting help from my in-laws to make it all work. I sometimes scroll through Facebook during the summer and feel envious of everyone who is on some kind of adventure, attending yet another concert, or sharing all their pictures of completed DIY projects. I've done some of that this summer, too, but today - we're intentionally being lazy and doing a whole lot of absolutely nothing! 

Hugs - Fortunately, my three daughters buck many of the cliches about teens and tweens. One way they do this is by showing affection and they do that by what I like to call "random hugging." I can walk by them in the hall or be standing over the kitchen sink and they will extend their lanky arms and, for no particular reason, wrap around me in a hug, head on my shoulder. Of course, these won't stop altogether (I hope!) once they are back in school, but the opportunities for them will be much less frequent will all of us apart for 8+ hours a day. So, today, I'm going to warp my arms around them, too, and soak it all in. 

There are things to be thankful about when back to school time comes around - reuniting with friends we haven't seen, routines and consistency, and the smell of newly sharpened pencils. There is also plenty to lament, though. My friend, Dana, once pointed out that we only get eighteen summers with our precious kiddos. After this one, I've only got two more with my oldest. So, for the last complete day of this one, I'm going to lean into it and enjoy every last, lazy second. 

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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