Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real {End of June}

PRETTY ~ I found this little yellow fellow crawling on me after cleaning up the deck.  I set him on the wooden railing and spent a beautiful, slow minute watching him find his way over the edge and back to the lawn.  My son said he could be poisonous but anything this fuzzy must be harmless...right?

HAPPY ~ We spent the ideal afternoon at the beach this week.  It was perfectly hot outside and I was even able to sit still and page through a magazine while watching the older boys romp in the surf with my little one digging in the sand by my side.  We returned home sandy, tan and properly exhausted. 

FUNNY ~ Lots of chocolate grins around here this week since we made our own pudding pops. We found the easiest recipe in Family Fun Magazine: Whisk together 1 package instant pudding(we used Devil's Food flavor) with 2 cups milk, 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 cup sugar.  Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.  Makes 10 pops. 
REAL ~ One not-so-ideal part of our day at the beach was that the jellyfish were out.  This little guy washed up in front of my chair and at first I thought some woman was missing her silicone breast implant!   Upon closer inspection we realized it was one of the many varieties of jellies swimming with us that day.  Luckily we weren't stung but two other boys were.  They were brave, though, and went back in the water!

  ~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~
 Every Thursday at
Like Mother, Like Daughter!  


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"Mom I'm Bored!" :: 13 Ways to Respond

My boys have been out of school for a solid month now and some of the fun has already run out of summer.  They only last 20 minutes on the Slip-n-Slide, they've had enough of the heat and even watching a TV show is not enticing.  

While I love seeing what happens when their boredom becomes imagination and creative play, sometimes we all need a little inspiration.

Previously I shared my list of QUIET activities and elaborated here on how to do Quiet Stations.  These lists today are helpful when the kids need to release their energy in a productive way (rather than sword-fighting and pillow-fighting all through the house). Most often it only takes ten minutes of directed play with Mom to spark a whole new set of their own ideas.

1.  Play Simon Says, Charades, Going on a Bear Hunt, or Telephone.  
2.  Play Hide and Seek or Red Light, Green Light in the house.
3.  Play Musical Chairs around the kitchen table.
4.  Play Balloon Volley.  Blow up a balloon and treat it like a slow game of Hot Potato.
5.  Have a car race.  Set up a start and a finish line in a long carpet free area and race small cars.
6.  Interpretive Dance Party.  Play various types of music and have them dance accordingly.  When the music stops everyone must freeze into position.

1. Use sidewalk chalk to make a Hopscotch or Foursquare grid.
2.  Have an old-fashioned Bike "car wash".  Bring out the sponges and soap and give the family bikes a good cleaning.
3.  Create a backyard water park.  Fill up the kiddie pool, slip-n-slide and a sprinkler.  Hold the hose while the kids run around and try not to get hit by the water.  
4.  Play  Sock Toss.  Put a small heavy ball into the toe of a long sock.  Everyone gets turns trying to toss it the farthest.    Make one for each person and play ring toss.
5.  Running Races.  We have our kids run around the house and they love being timed. 
6.  Create a bicycle obstacle course in the driveway.  Place cones or small objects and instruct the kids to try to ride around them.
7.  Paint with mud.  Gather a painter's paintbrush and a bucket of water mixed with soil to form a runny paste.  Paint the sidewalk or driveway and let the rain clean up the mess later! 

Linking with:
Little Wonder Days Summer Bucket List Fun Party
Women Living Well


Monday, June 27, 2011

June Swoon Daybook

A photo thought... 

Outside my window...
 Finally a good, steady, warm rain.  My plants all need the drink.  ZJ looked outside and said, "I just love cozy, rainy days!"  So do I and it feels like we are due for this one.
*Note: As I finish this post the rain has stopped and the sun is coming out again. 

I am wearing... 
Black capri pants and a lavender tee-shirt.  Hair is still wet from the shower and no make-up on yet.  

I am thinking...
I'll leave the make-up off all day!

I am hearing...
Since the rain stopped I am hearing the door alarm beeping every time the boys run in and out of the garage.  (I can see them scootering on the sidewalk from where I sit at the computer.)

I am thankful for...
My wonderful husband.  We had such a fun family weekend with the kids and I am eternally grateful to be sharing this life with him!

Around the house...
Because of said wonderful weekend I have five loads of now-wrinkled clothes to fold!  Oh well. Also, today we will be doing Quiet Stations again with a few alterations: 

Call your grandparents,
Clay molding,
Outdoor sketching.  

I am praying for...
All  the people affected by the flooding in my home state of North Dakota.    

I am reading...
Several books at once.  I plan a future post about this but on the top of the stack is The House By The Sea by May Sarton.  It is her journal of a year of living on the coast of Maine and because she is a poet, her prose is quite beautiful.

I am creating...
Jam, jam and more jam!
This magazine and my best friend started it all.  Having never canned before, I was amazed to hear her tell me how she had canned all day while her two little ones played around the house. Then I found and read this magazine and realized I could make jam with only a few simple ingredients.

So far I have made strawberry and strawberry peach.  It has been so fun I have blueberry and strawberry rhubarb planned for this week.  You can find my detailed recipe for strawberry peach jam here. 

God is leading me...
into the quiet

In the kitchen...
Monday : Leftover Tomato Rice Soup
Tuesday:  Grilled Pork Tenderloin 
Wednesday: Pork Tacos al Pastor 
Thursday: Basil and Butter Grilled Shrimp on garlic rice
Friday:  Grilled Burgers
Saturday: OUT (Happy 4th!!)
Sunday: OUT 

In the garden...

My peach-colored lilies are blooming.  One of the few non-pink flowers in my whole yard.  I plan to add some hostas this week and some yellow and rust mums for fall as soon as they come out.  Yes, I did just say fall.  I can't help it.  I always look forward to fall!

One of my favorite things... 
My new iPhone.  I have never had one before but I was needing a new phone and my husband got one through his work so I got one too!  We love the visual chat and my boys have been on my phone more than I have playing turtle fly and angry birds.  Now I need some good Catholic and Mom apps.  Any suggestions?  Please leave me a comment! 

I am participating with The Simple Woman's Daybook : June Edition. 




Saturday, June 25, 2011

Savoring Summer Saturdays {Tinto de Verano}

Want to take a mini-vacation?  When the summer sun is getting too hot and mama needs a break at the end of the day ~do like the Spaniards do~ make a wine cooler.

Tinto de Verano can be translated loosely as "summer red".  It is a refreshing, fizzy, sweetened red wine drink with only two simple ingredients: red wine and sparkling lemonade.

I first tried this drink as a college student studying in Spain.  I didn't even like red wine back then but this mellower version of sangria was the perfect alternative on sweltering Sevilla evenings.

Here's all you need to do:

Fill a glass halfway with ice.
Add red wine to halfway.
Top with fizzy lemonade (I use Taste of Inspiration Sparkling Sicilian Lemonade.  Spaniards use Kas Limon or Casera if you can find it.  Even real lemonade with a touch of tonic water would work!  You just really need some fizz.)

Sit back and pretend you are sitting on the balcony of your Spanish flat, surrounded by bougainvillea and watching life go by on the streets below.  For the next thirty minutes you haven't a care in the world - the laundry is done and folded, dinner is made and for this moment, you can just. be. still.

Buen provecho!

Want to see more Savoring Summer Saturdays recipes? How about Frozen Chocolate Milk or Iced Coffee?

Joining these parties:

Weekend Bloggy Reading @ Serentity Now

Join us Saturdays at for the weekend wrap up party!


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pretty Happy Funny Real {peaches}

Pretty ~ as a peach!  The peaches are so fragrant and beautiful right now that I had to make strawberry peach jam.  I have never done any preserving before and now I am addicted!   

Happy ~ My oldest son is so kind to his baby brother (KC) and when he wanted to hold hands with RW I couldn't resist capturing the moment.

Funny ~ We have been having fun exploring new parks around town.  We had this place all to ourselves on this beautiful day.

Real ~ As I mentioned, I am loving making jam these days but the reality is that it is a big project and requires a lot of clean up afterward.  Totally worth it!

round button chicken
~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~
Every Thursday, here at Like Mother, Like Daughter! 


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Note To The Duchess

Dear Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York,

I watched your show the other night on Oprah's new network.   Normally, I avoid Oprah's show altogether but the kids were asleep and I was drawn in by your beautiful blue eyes with their deeply lost look.  What a sad hour I spent listening to Dr. Phil and Suze Orman try to give you the reason for your self worth.  They kept telling you that you should love yourself, like what you see in the mirror, and not care what other people think about you.

And you, Sarah, may I call you Sarah?, you kept pushing back, resisting all that they were telling you.  You kept asking this ultimate question, "How do you get self worth?  How?"
Dr. Phil said you just have to believe that you have every right to be here on Earth, just as you are, and then he paused, a long drawn out pause.  I sat up a little straighter, leaned into the moment, waited with bated breath for Dr. Phil to lay it on you... but he didn't.  He sort of left you hanging.

Here is what I wish the Doctor had said:
You, Sarah, are a child of God, created in his image, loved beyond measure, and worthy of dignity and self-worth simply because He placed you in this time and in this place. No one on this Earth can give you what you seek.  

You have a God-sized-hole and only He can fill it.  

Remember the tough guys you chatted with outside the hotel?  You randomly asked where they were going and they said "To Church."  Surprised, you asked them if they go often.  They did.  Then you asked them if it was helping them.  They said yes.  A lot.  I believe that was a huge hint Sarah.  Did you notice?  That's the amazing way God works in our lives, through other people. Quietly, gently, slowly.  We just need to listen.

While I will not be watching your show anymore, I want you to know that I will be praying for you.  I hope that more people you meet along your path suggest that since you have obviously tried everything else, why not give God a chance to heal your broken heart?  He is healing mine, too, everyday.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Opportunities :: How to do Quiet Stations

Last Tuesday I posted my take on having a Summer Bucket List.  I chose to call my list a Summer Opportunities List so as to relieve any pressure from checking each and every item off the list.  

I suggested seven QUIET activities, one of which was Stations.  My boys worked through eight stations, spending 15 minutes at each one and we all loved it so much it is permanently on our Monday afternoon schedule.

Here's how we did it:

1.  I chose a different location of the house for each activity.
2.  On a colored note card at each station I wrote the task for that station.
3.  Before we began I laid out all materials needed for each task so they were ready to go.
4.  We used a loud timer and set it when everyone was ready to begin.
5.  Each child had a separate note card detailing the order of the stations and what they could look forward to doing at each stop.
6.  Two stations included snacks. :)

The photo shows the note card list of our stations.  Letters of Love means they had to write a letter to a family member far away describing their summer so far.
Overall it took three solid hours to complete these stations due to first-time logistics and mini breaks.  I can't recommend this idea enough!  Thanks again Kara for the suggestion! 

Note:  Today is the official first day of Summer and also the longest day of the year.  Don't forget to let the kids stay up late to watch the sunset tonight!



Monday, June 20, 2011

Mothers as Fathers

Yesterday, I wished my mother a Happy Father's Day.  We laughed about it but, in truth, Mom had to be both a mother and a father.  My own father passed away suddenly when I was two years old.  Mom never remarried and so each year, when Father's Day comes around, I think of how she had to do it all.  Overnight she had to go back to work when all she ever wanted was to stay at home and mother her two little girls.   

Losing my Father was never very sad for me.  I was simply too young to remember anything about him.  Years later, as I look at my own two year old, tromping on the beach with his daddy in tow, the loss is finally tangible.  I had no fishing trips, no camp-outs, no games of basketball in the driveway.  Missing out on these things brings me no regret.  But thinking of my mother, widowed at age 32, never sharing the joys of parenting with the father of her daughters, never having someone hold her hand at night, that is what makes me miss my Dad most of all.  

But being a mother and a father makes a woman strong.  One of the gifts of my childhood was seeing my mother's success in the workplace, her ability to juggle home and work, and to demonstrate for her daughters that a woman can do whatever she must do.  

Happy Father's Day Mom.  You are the best Dad a girl could have!

family walk in the morning
late sunsets
movie popcorn
hydrangeas in the mail
rainy afternoon naps
 tiny one behaving in church
 sharing my Moe's Joey Bag of Donuts with two hungry sons
time to think
Celtic music on Pandora
Rory Mcilroy role model
father's day family fun
my earthly mother
my heavenly fathers 


Stop over and read more gratitude lists:


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Savoring Summer Saturdays {frozen chocolate milk}

Have I confessed my fondness for stopping by the Starbuck's in our local Target store?  

You remember that show with the jingle that went...

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came...
(by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo) 

Well stopping in that tiny kiosk feels a little like that for me.  And, yes, they just might know me by name even if it is "double tall caramel machiatto extra foamy, please."  Now that the boys are out of school and often with me for my Target run, they have also found a favorite drink.  The double chocolaty chip creme.   I felt guilty enough buying my own coffee but two more?  No.  It had to stop.  

I came home inspired to replicate their favorite drink and I must have done it because they ordered one three times yesterday!  That has to stop too!

This is even more fun if you own a Magic Bullet type of blender.  I have this one .  

Here's all you have to do to be a barista at home.

Fill blending cup halfway with ice. (We use the crushed kind from our freezer dispenser.)
Cover ice by an inch or two with chocolate milk.
Add semi-sweet chocolate chips.  (We used mini.)
Blend well until frothy.
Pour into glass and top with more chocolate chips.

Your kids will love you for it.  Maybe I should put out a tip box.


Weekend Bloggy Reading

Friday, June 17, 2011

Home is Where the Heart Is {5 minute friday}

Ghana, Africa

Charleston, SC

Sometimes I wonder how much of our self esteem is wrapped up in the appearance of our home.   When we bought our first house, without a realtor, simply walked into a for sale by owner home that felt like home and said we'll take it, we had never felt prouder.  It wasn't long before those four walls seemed to shrink with the arrival of two baby boys and home wasn't homey anymore.  

When I look at the photo of the shanty home in Ghana above, I feel ashamed to have been ashamed of our tiny first house.  We may have had mismatched appliances, Grandma's old furniture, and painted over wallpaper but we also had a yard and a fence and a safe neighborhood to rest within.  

Home is a place to shelter the ones we love from the chill of the wind and world.  Most Americans have that no matter how small or grand their home may appear.

Home should at the very least mean safe and comforting.   
Beautiful is a luxury many people don't have but who is to say they don't love being home?  Because home is where the heart is and that cannot be captured on film.

Every Friday a five minute, un-edited freewrite on the topic of The Gypsy Mama's choice.  
Stop by and see what others say about HOME this week.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real {outdoors}

PRETTY ~ Flowers are blooming all over the place.  I love the color of this rosebud.

HAPPY~ We got a pass to the local water park and the boys and I love it. 

FUNNY~ After all the fun in the water there comes the "I'm all done" moment.

REAL~ My husband's nightmare =  slip-n-slide aftermath.

round button chicken
~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~
Every Thursday, at Like Mother, Like Daughter


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Marriage Meltdown

Fifteen years ago yesterday, he and I lit the unity candle before our family and friends.  We turned toward one another, away from all others, forever.  Three lights flamed into one, united in Christ.   

For years I had that candle displayed on a golden candlestick in our home.  Occasionally, we lit it on our anniversary, a mini renewal of vows.  Then one year it was next to the fireplace.  Apparently each time we enjoyed the fire, the candle warped a bit more.  When I finally noticed it, the entire back of the candle had melted, dripping down the candlestick, puddling on the floor.  From the front, the outer shell of the candle still held firm, it looked beautiful.  Turned around, the back was missing entirely.  I wondered how it had even stayed standing with its structure so damaged.  

Like that candle, we have melted and warped a bit throughout the past 15 years of marriage.  Three job changes, three cross-country moves and three children puts a little excess heat on a couple at times.  But while we may drip away and puddle sometimes, for a day or even months, we have always been able to turn back toward each other, relight the flame and stay standing.  Precisely because we are three in one and our base is not built by ourselves, but rests firmly on the grace of God.

The other day I heard a radio personality say he believes it is the human condition to have ups and downs in our emotions and our lives.  He thinks it is misguided, even dangerous, for people to expect to feel the same everyday.  I thought of the life of a marriage.  We expect to feel the same everyday, every year, as we did on our honeymoon and when we don't we think things must be over, must end.  But what if we chose to accept that it is normal to have ups and downs in marriage?  Could we make it through the melting moments and remember that when things are allowed to cool, they become firm again?

Back then, I had no idea that the unity candle is most often not allowed in Catholic wedding ceremonies.  How would I have known being a Presbyterian, marrying a Catholic, in my home church?  Though I later converted to Catholicism myself, I am grateful that we have our beautiful, ugly unity candle to represent what we used to be, what we are and what we can always aim to be.  Three.

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