Monday, July 21, 2014

Meal Planning Mondays: the girls are back in town.

hey HAY.

the big girls returned last week. i am once again a mom in the fullest sense of our crazy little girl world, and it feels good. vacation re-energized us all like a nice re-set button. i wanted them to return to a better mama. one who had a chance to realize just how much she enjoys being surrounded by her children.

and! tyler managed to make my playroom idea come to life just in time to welcome lils and lundy back. that guy is the muscle to my madness. he gets out those power tools and sets to work and i'm like. hubba. hubba.

then i start nit-picking and obsessing over details and telling him that such-and-such looks crooked and maybe we should hang it over there instead and i didn't expect the color to look quite so bright and he's like get. out.

sigh, it's all so sexy really.

i wanted to gut the closet that was packed with junk. it has a nice, deep space that i was hoping to put to better use. i envisioned a little nook where the girls could plop down and read. we utilized old ikea shelves we had in the garage, some chalk paint, and new trim to frame the closet and create a deep bench.  i found two perfectly sized doggy beds to serve as the bottom cushions, and a variety of throw pillows. i gots to admit, i'm really happy with how it turned out.

we also did a little re-arranging.

and these desks?

i got a set on craigslist for $25. i could die. just die. what a steal. the girls now have the perfect place to do homework come the new school year.

the first few weeks of summer are blissful in their freedom. then we all start to go a little nuts. there is only so much sun/water/chlorine one can handle, we can't continue to live on popsicles and television, so i've re-instituted some schedule and activities to keep the anarchy to a minimum. 

for the last leg of summer, i promised to dedicate myself to spending a couple hours every morning consciously attentive and working with the girls. we're talking full, 100% attention. i feel sad when i think of how distracted i can be, even as a stay-at-home mother. i don't want to waste this sacred time with them, you know? these little people won't be here forever. it's going too fast.  

here are a few affordable activities we enjoy:

*art projects 
*card games 
(i get all of the above at the dollar tree)
*library visits (most have good summer reading programs. my girls love to track their progress and return for prizes)
*museum trips 
*music time 
*reading time
*learning-to-bake time
*playing "school" with work-books

tyler and i grabbed these workbooks while out on a date one evening. we often meander through barnes and noble as a cheap date night activity. only it is NOT. at all. it's like crack cocaine, that barnes and noble. all our money? poof!! sayonara! gone! Out we walk with like 7 self-help titles, 2 cookbooks, 9 paperback classic novels, 3 parenting manuals, and an entire home-school curriculum for our kids. BARNES AND NOBLE IS A TERRIBLE CHEAP DATE NIGHT IDEA.

anyways. i like the brain-quest brand best for learning workbooks. they are colorful and well illustrated, packed with a ton of stickers in the back, and generally seem to do good job of tricking my kids into thinking they aren't doing "work". if i can get them to complete a workbook over the summer, i consider all of my super-parenting duties complete.

all in all, our play-school is going well. 

that is, as long as you don't factor in miss emmie girl. who is two.

two year-olds are naughty, naughty students.

the source of many distractions.

well, i think that's about it for today folks. you have a great monday.

signing off!

oh wait! MEAL PLANS!!! i almost forgot.

on the menu this week:

Coconut Curry Noodle Bowls (it's vegan yo.)

Grilled Steak and Veggies  (it's NOT vegan yo.)

and we must not forget:

Friday, July 11, 2014

Taking stock.

Starting with: this rather creepy zombie selfie. whatever. i haven't uploaded my camera or done any editing lately.

Need to: catch up on my life.

Currently missing: my two big girls. Lily and London stayed back in NV for an extra week with grandparents. I've never been in our home so long without them. And it is weird. I'm walking around my house and it feels consistently half full. However, when I call to tell them how much I miss them, they respond by asking to stay an additional week. What's up with that?! Come on!?!! For cryin' out loud, you're not seventeen, ladies! You're not SUPPOSED TO ENJOY BEING AWAY FROM MEEEEEEE. WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO BE AWAY FROM YOUR MOTHER? AM I TOO STRICT? DEMANDING? NEEDY? DO I ANNooOOOY YOU?! IS THAT IT?!! WHY WHY WHY?!
Geez. You always think you are going to be a "normal" parent. Then something like this happens. This whole ordeal has only driven me mildly insane. I have work to do. I must somehow win them back!
I can't imagine what this foreshadows about my future behavior when they eventually leave for college. I'm in no emotional state to consider that now.

Loving: Summer. So far, it's been rather indulgent and lovely.

Planning on: meeting a friend at the pool today.

Trying hard to: consistently wake up early. I think this will always be a struggle in my life. But every day that I wake up early, and squeeze in a little exercise, is a day that I feel I've won an important battle with the overly ninny, wimpy side of myself. For whatever reason, my brain releases such a potent cocktail mixture of "I would rather die and sleep forever" every morning when I wake up and consider getting out of bed. It's been like this my entire life. I am NOT a morning person. Heck, I'm not really even a "wake up" person, because it doesn't matter if it's 6am or noon. In that transition from deep slumber to awakening, I am literally a person who considers staying in bed, forever, The cocktail wears off about an hour after I've pulled myself out of bed, thank goodness. But it doesn't make the battle, in that moment, any easier.
So far, I'll say I'm proud of myself. I'm winning.

Procrastinating: school assignments.

Eating: fresh blueberries and raspberries. Another blessing of summer, cheaper produce!

Relishing: all the good lovin' I regularly get from Emerson these days. Honestly, this girl is just so good to me. Hugs all the day long. She is a such a snuggler. It's pure soul food, the squeezes I get with my Emmieluv.

Reading: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Only one chapter in, but feeling excited about this one.

Contemplating: certain inner life concerns as of late. Which, sorry for the rather random post a couple weeks back discussing John Dehlin and Kate Kelly. I understand that many non-Mormons who read may not have understood where it was coming from. My mother-in-law and I were on the phone shortly thereafter and she was like, "So? Your blog post? What was that all about?"
I knew that it was very insider-Mormon-speak of me to mention it on the blog, but I just felt like I wanted to say something to my fellow Mormon people. Something to the effect of I am hurting and deeply troubled by all of this. It has reopened some old wounds I've tried very hard to keep tightly stitched up. It has led to Tyler and I having important, private conversations about our life and our family and our relationship with our beloved faith. Moving forward, I intend to keep my faith journey a mostly private affair. I'll just finish with my personal conviction that faith and organized religions can be messy, beautiful, complicated things. I am not private in declaring how valuable I think they really are. But navigating both the love and the mess can be tricky sometimes.

Grateful for: Tyler.

Sprucing up: our playroom. Trying to make it more school-work friendly. Excited to post photos!

Thrilled to discover: we have a LEMON TREE already growing in our back yard. I know you don't really care, but I do. We know virtually nothing about trees or plants or foliage and whatever, so imagine my surprise when I noticed this plant/tree thingy in the back yard growing actual LEMONS?!!!! PEOPLE. I AM FROM NEVADA. Produce just doesn't sprout up without consistent blood, sweat, prayers, fasting, rain dances, and tears. I did nothing to deserve this magic. But magic it is.
I took a picture and texted it to Lily and London as a way of trying to coax them in to returning. Look girls! Why continue wanting to stay at your grandparents' houses (complete with unlimited supplies of chocolate milk, candy, dogs, horses, kittens, shopping sprees, no bedtimes, aunts, uncles, water parks, river rides in Pop's canoe) when you could be here, watching a single, hard, small lemon ripen on our little tree in our itty-bitty backyard?!!! I don't understand.

Dying over: Ellie Jane's face expressions. I love to just stare intently at her face as she goes on and on about her day. All I can think is, "How did you get so dang cute?". Lately, she will say, "Aww, thanks Mom. You da best Mom eba {ever}" when I help her with something. She says it with her classic Ellie-Jane smile and twinkly eyes and it ssssslays me. dead. every. time.

Injected with: a Martha Stewart high. It happens every summer. We go on vacation. I splurge on the latest issue of the Martha Stewart mag to take to the beach. Sprawled on my beach towel in the heat of the sun, I decide I want to immediately leave the beach and overhaul my entire existence. I start going on and on and on about repainting our table and making burlap color blocked curtains and baking that plum rhubarb compote oatmeal crumble and building an assortment of coordinated birdhouses which will grow an endless variety of fresh herbs for the brick roasted chicken we will serve with sparkling fennel cucumber water at the summer party we will host for our friends in a barn built in the middle of a wheat field under the paper lanterns made from chinese take-out boxes!!!! It's like I become a walking, talking, pinterest board on steroids. I even made arrangements for craigslist purchases from my phone while on the beach. It's bad. It's really, rrrrrreally bad.

Hoping: you had a great week. And, that I will return to posting more regularly next week. We will see.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Proud to be an American.

Way back yonder in my college days, I had the privilege to travel to a few separate countries. I remember one particular, poverty stricken region we crossed through at one point. As we traveled through in our vehicle, I saw a woman on the side of the road with her children and was so profoundly sobered by her reality. The area was littered with garbage, her children in tattered clothes, and the stench of a stagnant world was thick and real. This is your life, my heart seemed to gasp. This is your reality. And I, another woman, who by some bizarre chance of luck/fate/whateveryouwanttocallit was merely passing through this reality. I was off to a bigger and better life. One filled with wealth, bounteous opportunity, and freedom. I was heading back home to my country, where I regularly participated in luxurious blessings that I too often took for granted. Looking at her, I ached to remain more aware, to work harder to make this world a better place in whatever small ways I can, and especially to give thanks for my homeland. Always. I knew that if given the chance, this sweet woman would have traded places with me in an instant. Gosh, I wanted to pack her and those sweet babies up in my suitcase....them, and every other person on the planet who does not get to regularly partake in the feast of freedom. We must do better.

I am free. Free to go where I please, free to make choices, free to speak, free to practice my religion, free to dissent, free to think. Free to build and grow and progress. Man, it's unbelievable if you think about it.

God Bless America.

Going to see this tonight. SO EXCITED.