Sunday, July 14, 2013

Feeling Pinteresty

Ok, I am like the opposite of crafty. I think I used to be semi-crafty...back before I had kids and when I just had one little kid and a bit of patience left. Anyway...this was one of the gifts I gave my sister for her baby shower. It might even be worthy of posting on Pinterest. :)

So, my sis is an AVID reader. She was reading way before kindergarten and has been a big reader ever since. I even recall once in jr. high or high school that I had a test on a book the next day that I hadn't read and Becky stayed up all night to finish it and give me the Cliff's Notes version the next day. I don't recall if she offered or if I coerced her or bribed her. She reads all the time and reads books over and over again and probably her favorite author is J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. The baby's nursery will have a Harry Potter and owl theme.

So, since she is such a reader, I wanted to start her off with a nice library. I had about 40 books for her - some Disney classics and Margaret Wise Brown and Richard Scarry, etc. - a combination of some new ones I'd bought and some I was passing on from my kids that were bedtime favorites. I have a hard time parting with books I remember reading to my kids, but in passing them on for my nephew I was okay with letting go of them.

So, I started with a cardboard box from Aldi that was open in the front giving you a view of what's inside. I needed to cover the product words on the box. So, this was one side:

The silver stars gave it the "wizard" look, I thought, to go with her Harry Potter theme.

Here's the front of the box with the words "Mugglette Inspiration" at the bottom.

And this was the other side. I had fun pulling quotes about reading from well-known authors off the Internet to put here. :)

And then I did my best at coming up with a poem - at 1:15 a.m. the night before the shower, LOL!!!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Having summer second thoughts

The last few summers I've been pleased with how I planned out activities for the kids to keep them occupied. They've done summer enrichment programs, sports camps, a mission trip for youth group, swimming lessons, reading programs. It did put a damper on things when I wanted to schedule a trip and then couldn't because much of the summer was scheduled, but overall I was glad there was some structure and a schedule and things planned to prevent them from becoming couch potatoes.

You see, I don't do structure and scheduling well when left on my own. In my head, I will think, "Maybe tomorrow we'll go to the pool or the park. Then I get busy cleaning a sock drawer or writing an article or surfing the Web and before I know it it's 5:30 in the afternoon. Having a set time to be at a summer school class makes it happen. I go into a lazy mode in the summer and that's what I'm trying to prevent in my kids. Although I want summer to be more relaxed, I don't want it to be a stay-up-til-2 a.m. playing Minecraft-lounge-on-the-sofa-all-day-live-the-life-of-a-vampire kind of summer.

As the school year ended, I was just a bit overwhelmed. My father-in-law's health was declining and he passed away at the end of May. His memorial was a couple weeks later. We were also getting a party together to celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. All of that going on, combined with the regular busy stuff of the end of the school year and work commitments just had me completely drained.   I wasn't in a peppy lets-plan-out-the-summer mode. We were all in a sad, droopy kind of mode at the beginning of summer that we're finally getting out of.

However, my worst fears were realized as soon as school was done. One of my teenagers slept 'til noon every day for the first couple weeks off. I was staying up late since I had no reason to be up early and because nighttime is the easiest time to get work done when the kids aren't in school and are now around 24/7, preventing you from getting into a zone of concentration. I spent about 2 weeks going to bed at 2 or 3 a.m. and sleeping until 10 a.m. It seemed we were all wandering with no direction. So, I'm going to buckle up and map out the rest of our summer as much as I can. I'll leave some lazy days here and there to do nothing. A little bit of nothing is a good thing, a lot of nothing - not so much.

I thought maybe it would be good for us all to just have some unscheduled time and chill. And it was. Well, I think we've had enough of it. Like five weeks of it.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Dear Sons: Don't forget

Dear Sons:

(Letter #20)

As you grow up, some things will stand out more than others. There are so many days in a year, I know not that many will make it into your mental bank. I just hope you'll pick out some of these good times and keep them with you.

Us baking together.

Going to pick berries together.

Saturday nights in front of the TV watching Dracula movies.

Going on vacations together.

Hanging out in the back yard together.

Going to the drive-in movies.

Going to Cubs games.

Snuggling at bedtime.

There are lots of mundane days where nothing particularly exciting happens. Not every day is Christmas or Halloween. But there are lots of special moments in those routine days. Don't forget them.

Going slow

Summer technically didn't begin until a couple weeks ago, but the kids were out of school by the end of May, so that means that summer break is about half over. It seems like more should be accomplished by now, but things are going slow. Just as the school year was ending, my father-in-law passed away after fighting cancer. Things just kind of seemed like they stopped then and it's been hard to get moving again.

Each child reacted differently to losing Grandpa. He was a big part of our lives. There have been so many times in the past month and a half where he should have been there -- my son's 8th grade graduation, his birthday, his confirmation, our local annual parade, his grandson's soccer tournament, another grandson's little league games, a barbecue with his nephew who visited from Germany, planting seeds in the garden, our first back yard barbecue of the season, father's day, a trip to a UPick farm in Michigan we liked to go to, the Flag Day Parade, the 4th of July, my parent's anniversary party, a trip up to Michigan for lunch at his favorite place. We're really missing him and everything just seems to be moving at a different pace.

It's been hard on my husband losing his dad and now helping with the task of cleaning our his childhood home for his mother's eventual move to a different place. That's going slow, too. But I guess that's how it should be.

Summer is plugging along and there's a sense of urgency to get more things done since so many projects and obligations have been left undone or way behind. At the same time, it's time to slow down. It's time to enjoy those around you and savor their presence and give them your attention.

Monday, July 1, 2013

How did it get to be July already?

Wow. It's July. July! Really? JULY!!!!! That means the kids have been out of school for a full month. That means that in about 6 more weeks they'll be back in the classrooms. That means that this week the store shelves will already be filled with school supplies. Yet, it feels like summer has barely gotten underway.

Why do I always feel each summer like I'm racing to get so many things packed in. I don't enjoy it like I should. I wanted to spend this summer doing just that....not worry about getting so much packed in and relaxing more. Now that I look at my bucket list for the summer, I realize that I have packed a lot in so far.

We've already been to the beach several times, we did the drive in movies, had a picnic in the park, went to UPick farms twice, went to a couple ball games, tried out a new ice cream spot, went to the pool, went to a parade, went to a local fest, took some road trips, watched fireworks, went out to eat alone for our anniversary, flew kites, watched some sunsets and more. And it's not even the 4th of July. My summer bucket list has 42 items. Last year's goal was to get through half of it.

Right now we have accomplished more than half. I'm at 24 right now and some of the items have been repeated. So, now that I look at it that way, if I don't do a single thing the rest of the summer, the goal has already been met. I will definitely plan more, but now I'm not feeling the pressure as much.

My updated summer bucket list is below. Not that you care about what's on it...this is just how I keep track. :)

And here's what I'm putting down for this year (and I'm off to an okay start):

Visit at least one beach  XX
Visit a farm XX
Drive in movie X
Visit a new ice cream spot X
Find a new park to visit X
Go to a MLB baseball game  X
Go to a minor league game  X
Go to a farmer's market
Go to a cruise night
Camp overnight
Go to state or county fair
Visit a pool  X
Visit a carnival  X
Visit a water park
Visit an amusement park
Visit a zoo
Go to a parade  X
Watch fireworks  X
Go kite flying  X
See a new movie X
Berry picking X
Go to a concert
Have some festival food  X
Take a road trip  X
Have lunch at a new restaurant  X
Visit a local festival  X
Go fishing
Visit a nature center
Do a hike
Go to a UPick fruit or veggies/pick something new X
See a movie in the park
Do a family bike ride
Watch the sunset over the beach  X
Watch the sun set over a farm  X
Take a day trip into Chicago with family
Visit another state  XX
Go to a museum
Picnic in a park X
Make smores in the back yard
Backyard campout in a tent
Catch lightning bugs
One adults only outing (casino, nightclub or overnight getaway) X