August 30, 2014

A Peek Inside...Our Schoolroom 2014

One of my very favorite things ever is preparing for a new school year. It has always been something I look forward to with great anticipation...first as a student myself, then as an elementary school teacher, followed by a mother of school students, and now as a homeschool mom and teacher. : ) A few days ago, my little helper Flynn and I gave the schoolroom a good scrubbing and then decorated it for a brand new year. Here is a peek at our little schoolroom this year. : )

Looking in from the foyer...
Each of the kids picked his or her own desk and chair last year.  My Flynn and I work at her little table, and when she is done, you can find me in that comfy glider in the corner over there. : )

The Preschool corner is to the right. Have I told you lately how much I adore Preschool? : )

New this year...a shelf with wicker baskets to hold supplies.
And to keep the puppy from stealing them. : )

A brand new calendar hangs on the wall nearby.

Our little table is all ready with brand new crayons. Don't new crayons just make you happy?

All looks like this. : )

I purchased all the furniture from Pottery Barn Kids. It is so well made, and worth the price.
The books I had from years of mothering, and any extra I purchase from Amazon.
I found the wall calendar on Zulily, and get all my seasonal décor from Carson Dellosa, either online or from Amazon.

And that is a peek inside our little world, my friends.
I hope you all have a happy, blessed, and healthy school year. : )

August 28, 2014

Thursday Thoughts...

Today I'm thinking about...

...Change. And how hard it is for me to embrace it. I find comfort in the predictable. And lately, we have experienced changes in our lives. Major the passing of my dear father just six months ago...that affect us on a deep level and force us to create a new normal while mourning the one we leave behind. And not so major our very favorite doctor relocating, switching parishes from the only one we have belonged to one much closer to our home, and friends and neighbors moving away from our very small neighborhood, leaving only memories of neighbor kids knocking on the door asking if Peyton and Rhett can come out and play...that force us to move out of the comfortable world we have grown used to into a totally foreign place with new people and new ways. This is a challenge for me...a reminder that life is all about changes. And as hard as it is, I must embrace the change and be thankful for the chance to experience it, while holding on to the memories left behind.

...How excited I am about decorating the school room for fall! I have always loved autumn and all it brings...apples, pumpkins, colored leaves, cooler days and longer nights, routine, and cozy dinners around the table. And now, I get to add touches of this to our little schoolroom in preparation for a brand new year. : )

...My ironing pile. I actually enjoy ironing...give me a good movie and an ironing pile and I am as happy as can be. It is just getting started I have trouble with. But today is the day I tackle that pile before it overtakes my house. : )

Here are some pictures of the past week in our simple little lives...

Our summer has been cooler and a bit rainy...but no worries. My girl loves to dance in the puddles. : )

A yummy, quick dinner...sautéed zucchini, peppers and onions with scrambled eggs. Delicious...

but not too filling. It requires a peanut butter milkshake for dessert. : )

August brings this beautiful sight to our backyard...subtle changes to the leaves that are just a hint of the beauty to come.

I read these sweet books to my baby girl this week. And was reminded of doing the exact same thing with my many years ago. Things do change, but stay the same. : )

My girl in her Back to School sundress all ready for Mass. : )

My Peyton made this delicious breakfast cake with our fresh blueberries...If you want to try it, I posted the recipe here. 

Scrabble was our family game this week. And apparently Kirby was not happy with his letters.

Summer continues to treat us to beautiful mornings on the porch. I'm tucking these into my heart for those cold winter days ahead.

We went out for our annual Back to School Lunch at the little café in town...and this was my beautiful meal. And I may or may not have also had a slice of amazing Raspberry Key Lime Cake. : )

Leaving you with this baby. Loving life. A reminder to us  all to slow down and just be.

Happy Labor Day Weekend, my friends!

August 25, 2014

From My Heart

I saw this quote on Pinterest. I could not find an author, nor do I claim to be. I do agree with it. One hundred percent.

 Stop the glorification of busy. These days people wear the word "Busy" as if it were a badge of honor. More often than not, when I ask people how they are,  I hear instead how BUSY they much they run from activity to crazy their lives are... how they are never home. I hear how they have to run their child to soccer practice followed by dance class and flag football before a weekend basketball tournament two hours away. For sixth graders. And yet, I hear it spoke with a sense of pride, as if being busy is a symbol of status in our world today.

When Rhett was younger, I tried to have a birthday party for him. It was next to impossible to get any of his friends to attend on a Sunday afternoon, as they had flag football and soccer practice. They were seven years old! One mother told me she didn't even show her son the invitation, because he had a flag football game that day, and he would want to miss it to come to the party! That broke my heart.

I know I sound judgmental. And perhaps I am. But it is more than that. I have very strong feelings about the importance of family...The importance of allowing children to slow down and be kids. I feel strongly about living in the moment and allowing our children to experience their childhood in a state of peace. I urge young mothers to know they have a choice. It is possible to say no to the chaos, the craziness, the anxiety filled commotion that society portrays as the norm. It doesn't have to be. In our house, it isn't. And we are happy. Very happy.

Society wants us to believe that to be happy, to be successful, to be accepted, families must be busy... Busy running here and there...Busy sending four year olds to soccer camp and basketball tournaments...Busy attending every single party and wedding and get together held...Busy practicing high school sports twelve months out of the year, for a season that lasts six weeks...Busy signing children up for three activities every season, and eating dinner in the car in between events...Busy joining every committee and group we can.

I am here to say that is not true. You do not have to fall into the trap of sacrificing your family life for society. For anything. Because childhood goes by so quickly. And no matter how busy you are, how many sports or activities your children participate in, how many games you attend, how many committees you serve on, your children grow up. And childhood ends. I am speaking from knowledge given to me from friends and family, and have spoken about this to many parents whose children were all part of the glorification of busy. More often than not, they have regrets. They regret the fact that their children's childhoods were spent running from practice to practice, game to game, all in a blur of activity. And in the end...their children grew up. In the blink of an eye. And the thing they missed most? They missed the family time...The too few and far between moments of simply being together with their kids...Sitting around the dinner table, taking a walk after dinner, playing a game of kickball in the yard.

What is so wrong with allowing kids to play outside after school...riding bikes, playing chase...catching bugs...shooting hoops...just for fun? What happened to providing our children a childhood that consisted of playing outside, washing up, and sitting down to dinner at the family table? Unscheduled activities lead to freedom and imagination...and that is as important as schedule and competition. Society is producing a generation of youth who lack the ability to relax and fill time with fun, unscheduled activities...A generation that does not value family and peaceful, introspective time spent with loved ones. That is a scary thought.

I don't expect everyone to agree with me. Some families are naturally active. Asking them to stop activities would be the equivalent of asking me to hike the mountains every weekend. That is not going to happen! What I am suggesting that we make an effort to preserve the sanctity of family. We must allow our families to come first...Before sports and activities and parties and practices and craziness and running around. I am hoping that we can allow our children to find comfort in the quiet, unscheduled, peaceful, routine of family life. How can we do that? Simple. Eat dinner together. Take walks together. Play games together. Watch television together. Bake cookies together. Laugh together. Be moments of peace. These are the moments our children will tuck into their souls and pull out years from now. These are the moments they will recreate with their own children someday.

Stop the glorification of busy. Allow yourself to take a stand. To say no to society. Say yes to your family. And you will find a true peace...peace not only in your home, but also in your heart. How do I know this? We have done it. And we have found it. And it is good.

August 21, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

Today I'm thinking about...

...How parenting really doesn't change all that much as your children grow. When my kiddos were little, I struggled with letting them learn to do things on their own as opposed to me doing it for them. Not out of frustration on my part, but out of my love and desire to nurture and care for them. For instance, learning to tie shoes, or dress themselves, or make their beds...These were things I loved to do for them, and it was hard for me to let go and allow them to learn to do them on their own, even though I knew it was necessary for their growth and independence. Now, as Madison approaches eighteen (WHAT!!!!), I am struggling with the same thing...learning to do laundry, packing lunch for work, cleaning her bathroom...These are all things I know in my mind Madison needs to learn to do for herself. My heart, however, has different ideas! I enjoy doing these things for her. I love having her laundry all clean and folded on her bed when she returns from a long day of work. I find comfort knowing her bathroom is clean and tidy. Does she have to learn these skills herself? Yes. Will she? Yes. I guess balance is the answer. Or not. : )

...About packing away my summer red, white, and blue decorations before giving the house a good cleaning. And still my heart...decorating for autumn! The warm, cozy days of fall are coming!

...About changing my meal planning routine to fit changes in our lives. I currently plan meals one week at a time, with a specific meal planned for certain days. I mentioned recently that our one and only grocery store is closing...can I just tell you how sad that makes me? I have so many memories of pushing my little ones through the aisles every Friday...But I digress...That leaves us with Walmart. I can't. I just can't. No disrespect to anyone that can, but I just can't buy my groceries in the same place where people get oil changes and buy plumbing supplies. So, we have decided to plan two weeks of meals at a time. I think it will work best if we choose about ten meals or so and shop for those items in the beautiful grocery store in the nearest town. Then Peyton and I will plan meals as we go for the two weeks, allowing for leftover nights too. We don't have as many outside activities anymore as the kids are homeschooling, so we have less activities to plan around. Happiness! So, we will see how this goes...

And here are some pictures of the past week in our little home...

My little lady all ready for Mass for the Feast of the Assumption last week...
The Lavender plant at the end of our driveway is pretty this year. No thanks to me. It just kinda grows. : )
Afternoons around here are wild and crazy...
just the way we like 'em. : )
My girls. So different, but so much alike. I love the love between them.
We had cupcakes last week. It was Cupcake Day! This one was divine.
Do you play ABC Mouse with your kids? Flynn loves it...and I love braiding her hair while she plays. : )
My baby has been waking up early. Really early. And I am glad. We watched this beautiful sunrise together this week. No filter here...none needed. She loved it...She was amazed...and I will remember that morning on the porch forever.
My baby got this flower yesterday when we visited Daddy at work. One of Steve's employees gave it to her, and she hasn't set it down since. : )
And leaving you with my Snapchat face...because I am weird like that...
Happy Weekend!!!!

August 18, 2014

Summer Berry Strudel

So I had some berries to use up. They looked like this...

Pretty, right?

And Madison came home from work with the perfect recipe to use them in. You will want to give this one a try. Promise.

Summer Berry Strudel

  1. 2 cups flour
  2. 2 tsp. baking powder
  3. 1 Tbl. sugar
  4. 1/2 tsp. salt
  5. 5 Tbl. Crisco
  6. 3/4 cup milk
  7. 1 egg
  8. 3 cups berries ( I used blue and blackberries)
  9. 1 cup sugar
  10. 2 Tbl. butter
  11. Powdered sugar and water
  1. Mix by hand flour, baking powder, 1Tbl. sugar, salt, Crisco, milk, and egg.
  2. Spread out on sheet pan.
  3. Mix berries with 1 cup sugar.
  4. Put filling on top of batter.
  5. Dot with butter.
  6. Fold like a calzone. Pinch edges.
  7. Bake 25 minutes at 425 Degrees.
  8. Stir powdered sugar and water together.
  9. Drizzle over top.
  10. Slice and enjoy!

August 14, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

Today I'm thinking about...

...How much difference a year makes. Last year at this time we had finally been given a name for the awful disease that was taking my father further and further away from us. Dementia. And it was heartless and cruel. I remember many days when my dear father would call me several times...confused, anxious, agitated, and sad. I would talk to him for hours, calming him down, reassuring him, and loving him. My children would tell me how wonderful I was with him. And I smiled and replied with the question...Wouldn't he do the same ? Didn't  he do the same my entire life? And won't they do the same for me someday? Because that is life. And that is what loved ones do.

...About the upcoming Feast of the Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary.  It is celebrated on August 15, and is my very favorite feast day. Year after year I bring my intentions before Our Lady on this day...and pray for a blessed and healthy new school year. We will be attending Mass on Friday morning, and perhaps even convince Steve to join us for breakfast after. : )

...How frustrated I am with clothing choices for my Flynn. My heart is breaking as I have to leave those cute Toddler sizes behind, and let me tell you...those little girl clothes are not making me happy! I wish these manufactures would realize that not all mothers want their preschoolers to dress like preteens! And then ...I realize that honestly, Flynn spends most winter days in her jammies. So I am happy.

Here are some pictures of the past week around our country home...

Sunny mornings mean my baby takes spins on her big wheel...

and other days on Peyton's old princess bike. : )

This little guy hops from bed to bed in the morning. He goes wherever anyone is still sleeping. Most days...he ends up with Madison. : )

You may know my love for all things fall. Yet, I wait every year until the day after Labor Day to fill my home with autumn. Except this year. I couldn't resist setting out these amazing fall scented votives in the mudroom.


And more happiness.

Summer is still in full swing around here...steak on the grill with roasted fresh veggies...

tons of fresh picked sweet blueberries...

which we used to make another of our very favorite pies. Ever. Thanks, Patty!

And some summer fun every morning...

and every afternoon.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!