Friday, January 13, 2017

I'm Back! - Seventeen In '17

Well, that was a long, unintended hiatus from the blog.  I couldn't believe it when I looked at my blog roll over on the side and saw that I hadn't posted on here since October!  October!!  It has been way too long, and I have missed this space so much.

I had intended to do a whole "17 before '17" list with seventeen things I wanted to accomplish before 2017 started, but wouldn't you know it I didn't get a single one done.  Not a one.  In fact, I didn't even finish the list!  I ended up with twelve things, and then the holidays came and it didn't matter how many things were on my list I was just treading water.

But those things, those twelve things, were things I REALLY wanted to get done.  Things that I felt would enrich my life and the life of my family.  Things that would maybe even make life easier.  Maybe?

So I can't abandon them.  Not going to happen.  Instead, I am turning them into my 17 in '17 list!  To be fair, I don't have seventeen things yet.  I have been working on it, but I want to make sure they are attainable and useful; no use setting myself up for failure for nothing, right?

They have sort of naturally fallen into a few different types of goals, and I think it's important to keep this mix going since they will require different amounts of energy.

First, come the finite goals.  These goals have a specific end to them.  They are tasks that need to be completed.

1.) Finish Amalia's room redo.  (Basically I have to work on the art gallery part of her room by finishing the frames I bought last March.  I want this task to be completed before her birthday.)

2.) Make our quilt.  (Yeah, I "gave" Bryson a new quilt as our anniversary gift in 2015.  Thing is, it wasn't even started.  I am hoping to have that one done soon because it is super cold out and I am tired of having two smallish blankets on our bed that end up sliding onto the floor before morning.  We are adults who should have a proper quilt.)

3.) Make/get the kids Traveler's notebooks.  (I told the kids I would make them some after I made my own last year, and it never happened.  I am sure you are shocked by this given what is already on this list.  Anyhow, I want them to start learning how to budget their time and learn how to accomplish their goals.  Hopefully they'll be better than I am at it by the end of the year.)

4.) Find a new doctor.  (This one is rather personal, so I won't be sharing the details, but suffice it to say, I am in the market for a new specialist of a particular sort and need to do some research.)

Second, I have the goals I call "the daily habits".  These are things that I want to do on a daily basis, things that are mainly for me alone, too, now that I look at them.

5.) Exercise at least five days a week.  (Better health, more energy, etc.  You get it.)

6.) Stop eating by 9:30 p.m.  (Bingeing on food right before bed just makes me have to listen to my stomach digest while I try to sleep.  Not much fun.)

7.) Get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.  (I am already busting this rule tonight if I do my math right.  *sigh*  Will I ever learn?)

8.) Drink more water.  (I want to be more specific with this goal - like a more exact amount - but I haven't figured it out yet.)

Third are the "long term" goals, if you will.  Things that I want to get done but need to be maintained and sustained.  These take the most work, and some of them are things I struggle with the most.

9.)  Clean off my desk and maintain it.  (My desk is a pit.  So much so, that I cannot even use it.  To actually complete a project on my desk, I have to spend a significant amount of time just cleaning the thing off.)

10.)  Get the unfinished side of the basement into a usable state.  (It's like an episode of hoarders down there, complete with a particular path you have to follow through it.  I am done with it.)

11.)  Keep the counter cleaned off.  (I mainly mean our "peninsular" counter, and I focus on that one because it sees the most action and has the most crap on it.)

12.)  Add recipes to my repertoire.  (We have fallen into a rut so ridiculous that the kids know exactly what we will be eating on any given day because of which day of the week it is.  I can't abandon this entirely - it keeps me sane - but I need to use it as a skeleton to build on instead of a crutch to help me limp along.)

13.) Take more pictures.  (This one is just fun.  Plus, my kids are growing up way too fast, and I've been feeling the need to capture as many moments as I can, even the mundane ones.)

14.)  Write five blog posts per month.  (Sad that I think I can only muster up five a month, but that is life right now.  We're almost halfway through January and this is my first one, so I have a feeling five will feel like a stretch at first.)

And that's all I have so far.  I am going to come up with three more, but like I said, I need to make sure I actually have a chance at accomplishing them.

To keep myself accountable, I've decided I'm bringing you all on the ride with me!  You're excited, aren't you?  I am hoping to be able to show off progress, admit when I am struggling, and keep myself going knowing at least someone is watching.  I have pictures to go with future posts, so hopefully they won't be as endlessly wordy as this one has been.

Now, off to try to nab somewhere close to seven hours of sleep!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

School Spirit with my Not-So-Little Ones

Last week was our school's homecoming week, and Wednesday was school spirit day.  I volunteer on Wednesdays, both in Mollie's class and for the weekly folder stuffing, so I got into the spirit as well.  Mollie, seeing how I was dressed that morning, asked to dress just like me.  I know that these days are numbered - someday she'll probably want to be NOTHING like me - so I took advantage of it!  Her hair is a little short to get it into the braid and ponytail I had going, but I think we got pretty close!

Baylor wanted in on the picture then, too, so he jumped in with us.  Can you believe how big they are getting?!

Best kiddos a mom could ask for.

Friday, September 16, 2016

That's What They Said: Presidents, Cheese, Love, Football, and Robot Knowledge

(While looking in the mirror after an afternoon in the sun ...)
Amalia:  Look!  I have rosy cheeks just like the second President of the United States!

(Baylor wants a Nerf gun that has a foam saw on the front of it for fighting off zombies ... *sigh*)
Baylor:  Mom, I won't be able to cut bread with this one, though.
Me:  No?
Baylor:  Nope.  But I will use it to cut cheese!

Me:  Baylor, do you want some breakfast now, or do you want to wait for your sister to wake up?
Baylor:  I want to wait for when SHE wants to have breakfast.
Me:  (smiling)  Okay.
Baylor:  Mom, I really like Mollie.
(Given how I felt way back when, this was music to my ears.  He loves her, that I knew, but I am overjoyed he actually likes her.)

(While watching MSU play football ...)
Amalia:  Why do they have those binkie-like things?

Amalia:  (Boy from her class) tells me a lot of things at recess.  He told me that his dad got a robot arm.
Me:  Ooh, very cool!
Amalia:  I didn't think it was very cool.  I mean, it's not going to work without the rest of the robot!
Me:  Ah.
Amalia:  How is it going to move without being hooked up to the rest of the robot?  I know stuff about robots because my brother has one.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

First Day of School: First and Third Grades!

I can't believe I am typing this, but today is Mollie's first day of FIRST grade and Baylor's first day of THIRD grade!  Seriously?!  Yup, seriously.

Yesterday morning Amalia decided to wear her favorite dress to school, a dress I refer to as her Babe Didrikson dress (it's long on her now and was even longer on her when she first wore it).  We even had enough time to do her hair in pigtails this morning!  She asked me which color of hair ties look the most "adult", and since the blue ones were the only ones that weren't neon that's what we went with.

Baylor didn't really pick out his outfit so much as approve the one I grabbed for him, but he seemed excited for the day and that's all I can ask for.

We headed outside and they started to get into the car when I reminded them that we usually take an outdoor picture, too.  Here's our first attempt:

The second attempt went much better ... or at least the silliness was more positive anyway.

I can't believe how big they're getting!

And, of course, we had the obligatory bunny ears picture; the kids are in that stage of life that makes bunny ears the funniest thing ever!

This was a great morning, so full of smiles and laughter.  And it was so unlike first days of school for me when I was a kid; almost all my first day of school pictures involved eyes puffy from crying and forced smiles.  I didn't like school, so the first day was tough and full of anxiety for me.  I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to know that I haven't passed this on to my wonderful children, that I haven't burdened them with my anxiety.  Yeah, they were nervous this past week or so, but when it came down to it they were brave and happy and ready to go.  Even when they didn't get to walk in together because they are now on different playgrounds, they still bounded off in their separate ways, just happy to be there.  I am amazed by and so proud of my children.  

And for a look at previous first days ...

And I just realized that I never did a blog post about last year's first day of school!  But here is the picture from last year's first day (Baylor in second grade in Mollie in kindergarten):

Yup, they ran in together holding hands last year!  And the thing is, they did that for months!  It warmed my heart like nothing else.

Here's to a great first day of school and a great year to come!

Friday, September 2, 2016

My New Toys!

Okay, this sort of outs me as an office supply geek, but I don't care!  I have a new toy, and I want to share it with the world.  To quote the movie Elf: "I'm in love!  I'm in love!  And I don't care who knows it!"

Meet my new twins: the Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto multi-color pen!  I found it on after seeing it on a few of my favorite planner YouTube videos and immediately put it on a wish list.  My husband got it for me for our anniversary, and I have been smitten ever since.  I got the black pen body, violet pen body, ten-color set of ink, apricot orange ink, and apple green ink.

Wait, I need to explain this ...

The top end of these pens flip open, people!  The pen bodies come empty, and you get to fill them with whatever color ink you want!  Let that sink in for a sec, children of the '80s ... a multi-color clicky pen that you can customize.  Perfection, am I right?

I chose the 0.3 mm size ink because, as anyone who has had to grade a paper, read a thank you note, or decipher a recipe written by me will attest, I tend to write very small.  Having a tiny pen tip helps me keep this insanely small writing looking neat and tidy, so I went with the smallest size available.  (The pen tips also come in 0.4 mm and 0.5 mm, in case anyone is interested.)  You can also buy mechanical pencil inserts, eraser inserts, and stylus inserts to go in this pen!  The pen bodies also come in a variety of colors and number of inserts they will hold.  The customization possibilities are endless!

I am excited to use these to help me get even a little more organized, using them to designate task categories (e.g., home, school, self) or to mark which person has something going on on a particular day.  Because of the small pen tip - and because they write very smoothly right out of the packaging - I am able to actually read what I've written and squeeze more in on a page in my notebook.   Plus, it's just pretty, and don't we need more beautiful things in this life?

On the customer side, I was thrilled with my experience with Jet Pens; they originally set the delivery date for my pens and inks (shipping for which I did not pay ... any order over $25 automatically gets free shipping) for Baylor's birthday, September 7th, but the pens arrived MUCH earlier than that ... August 31st!  As someone who has been utterly spoiled by Amazon Prime shipping I was delighted by the early arrival.

Alright, I have waxed rhapsodic about this pen enough.  I'm off to go write a bunch of stuff down and tackle my to-dos like a boss!

Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Summer So Far (This N' That)

This summer has been a great one overall so far.  We have been busy with camps and swim team, not to mention hanging out with family and friends here and there.

One of our more consistent activities has been swimming at Oma's pool.  

It almost always involves popsicles ... and Mollie almost always ends up with it all over her face.

And Baylor, dear Baylor, is almost never out of the water.  I call him my little manatee because he basically just comes up for air every now and then and spends the rest of his time lazily swimming underwater.  Even getting a picture of him has proved to be difficult when we are in the pool, not to mention talking to him.

But, for all his time underwater, he has figured out how to do a handstand!

In addition to the aforementioned camps and swim team, Baylor had a summer adventure camp of sorts at his school for five or six Tuesday mornings in late June and into July.  He actually rode the bus to it, something he's never done before, and Mollie and I enjoyed waiting in the driveway for it to arrive to pick him up.

At one of the later swim meets for the swim team, Baylor came up to me before the races started to inform me that he might not be able to swim because his tooth was excessively loose.  And loose it was!

While he waited for his sister's race, he spent a decent amount of time attempting to wiggle it out.  (It ended up not coming out for a few more days.)

After that swim meet, I got the kids a special treat from the concession stand and learned an important lesson in the process: when getting the kids a frozen treat at a hot swim meet, it is a good idea to give them said treat before they change out of their swimsuits ...

... otherwise your daughter will end up having to eat a melting mess while attempting not to get it all over her outfit.

We've also done some arts and crafts this summer.  Mollie worked on learning more about watercolors one day.

And both kids have learned a little how to type on a typewriter!

 Some of our days and nights are slow, but even then we have learned new things, had so much fun, and even made some discoveries.  For example, the other night at dinner, Baylor was staring out the window, as he sometimes does, when he remarked, "Is that a frog on the window?"

It turns out, it was!  Mollie and I went outside to investigate a little further.

We dubbed him Waldo, and Mollie spent a little time speculating about how great it would be to have him as a pet.  She desperately wanted to hold him and see how soft he was, but she was also terrified that he would get anywhere near her.  Needless to say, Waldo stayed outside.

While over the last few days we have struggled finding a rhythm - it's tough when there isn't a camp or a practice or even an appointment to get you going in the morning - it has been a really great summer.  I love spending time with the kids, teaching them new things and watching them grow.  Yes, my patience has been tested and I have had to reread one of my go-to parenting/mindfulness books (more on that later!) to regain my cool, but overall I think there has been more fun and love and happiness than frustration.  I've never been a fan of summer coming to a close, so I'm going to savor every last bit of it.

Hope your summer is going swimmingly!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

That's What They Said: Open to Interpretation and Trouble

Amalia:  Shhhh!  I don't want the toaster oven to see me!
Me:  You don't want the toaster oven to see you?
Amalia:  No!  It's a bad guy camera!
(sneaks away)

(After being asked not to say "crap" anymore ...)
Baylor:  Mom, when can I get in the pool?
Me:  Wait until the big hand splits the two in half.  (about 2 - 3 more minutes)  That should give your sunscreen enough time to soak in.
Baylor:  That long?!  Ugh!  It's freakin' hot out here!
Me:  (laughter)
Baylor:  Uh oh, did I say "crap"?

(When tending to her dahlias, some of which were giving her fits ...)
Oma:  Baylor, could you ask Aunt Christine if the problem child needs any water?
Baylor:  (after thinking for a moment)  Aunt Christine, does Mollie need any water?

Baylor:  Mom, your thoughts have inspirated me.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Two Little Divers!!

Well, it's official!  We have two divers!  Baylor finally got the hang of it.  This isn't his best dive - he had a couple really good ones - but you get the idea.


Amalia was having a little trouble diving too deeply, so I tried to teach her to dive like Olympian swimmers do when they go off the blocks.  She thought that was just the best idea!


They are still learning, obviously, but it is a great start!  I'm so proud of my little divers.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Little Diver!

Yesterday while we were swimming at my parents' house, I asked Amalia if she wanted to learn how to dive.  She took me up on it, and after a little more instruction today this happened:


Aside from the dive in this video, she has a tendency to dive rather deep, but she's certainly getting the hang of it.

Baylor also is interested in learning to dive and said he would keep trying until he got it!  I can't wait to post his video on here soon.

I'm so proud of them both!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Adventures of a Knight Museum Camp

The week of the Fourth the kids went to a museum camp titled, "Adventures of a Knight".   Back when they were picking camps for the summer, they decided to do this museum camp together because they had never done a museum camp before and were a little nervous about it; they figured they would be less nervous about it if they were together.  They were right.

On the first day, upon arriving at the museum, we were greeted by a knight and a queen in full costume.  Ordinarily this would be a huge problem; Baylor does not like it when people are wearing costumes and often resists interacting when he encounters this.  After a little reassuring, though, he was okay enough to go off with the knight and queen ... and his sister, of course.

The first day they made shields with their own crests and learned about life during medieval times.  The second day they made castles out of tissue boxes, tried out a trebuchet, and watched the knights use real medieval weapons to bash and slash some melons.  The third day - the last day - was special. First, they made helmets.

(That's the queen; she did a ton of arts and crafts in that huge dress, complete with a hoop skirt and corset.  Amazing, if you ask me.  Plus, she was incredibly kind to the kids.)

The main knight was also very kind and patient with the kids.

They then had a little tournament, complete with a ring toss, Nerf bow and arrow shooting, and a pool noodle sword fight with a real knight in armor.  Amalia was the only girl in the class, but she held her own.

I was so proud of Baylor for actually participating in the events!

He and Mollie both tried out each event, even the pool noodle sword fight.

After the tournament, they helped the two knights who hadn't done the sword fight get back into their armor.

After Baylor's knight was redressed, Baylor headed over to the book area to read a bit.

Then the kids got their helmets (except for Baylor who informed us that he made his helmet for decorative purposes) and their shields and practiced their defensive maneuvers.

Mollie put on her game face for the jousting.

That's right, the jousting.  The kids all got on the carousel and prepared for a joust with the knights.  Baylor preferred to sit in one of the stationary seats, but he rode the carousel, something he hasn't done in years.

Mollie, on the other hand, chose a bejeweled galloping horse.

And then they jousted!



They got to joust with two knights, the one you could see on the video and one at the back of the carousel.

After the joust, the kids came out into the vestibule under the giant whale skeleton, demonstrated their skills with their shields, and then sat down and prepared for the fight.

That's right!  The three knights took turns fighting each other, full-clad in armor, with real medieval weapons.  They started with swords, then moved on to a mace, a war hammer, and a flail.  It was, to say the least, intense.


After the fighting, each child was made a knight, dubbed so with a real (though rather dull) sword.  As the only girl, Amalia was dubbed, "Dame Amalia the Fierce"; she later informed me that she didn't like the "dame" part and would prefer to be called a "lady".  Baylor did not want to have anything added to his name, nor did he want the sword anywhere near him, so they accommodated him and simply called him "Sir Baylor".  I tell you, these people were amazing, so kind and compassionate.

All in all, the kids had a fantastic time and had a bunch of wonderful new experiences.  Two very enthusiastic thumbs up for the Adventures of a Knight museum camp!