Category Archives: Favorite Posts

All Kinds of Fantasticness

1. I went to an antique store recently and found my new best friend in an old blue mason jar. It had a rusty lid and begged me to take him home. Fortunately, I had recently seen this and so I made this. Yes, it does make doing dishes a whole lot more fun.

2. Some birthday money brought me to Nordstrom to buy some little girl sandals for ME. Saltwaters for adults can be found in the kids department. They make me happy and when I wear them I feel like I’m eight again. Nothin’ wrong with that!!!!

3. My transmission was going out on my van with 160,000 miles on it. I am not a mechanic and my musician husband sings so well that there is a chance that if he broke it into some musical ballad the transmission might decide to fix itself. However, the Lord chose to spare us that route and my parents texted me on a Wednesday at approximately 3:04 and said, “Would you trust us to gift you with a new car?”. I believe I said something like “what???????????????????????”. At approximately 6:48 that night, they roll up in my driveway with this…. Yeah I’m not kidding. We have been working so hard at our finances for the last 29 months. We cut up all credit and deal on a cash only, debt free system. It’s tough and makes no sense in this world. God answers with unbelievable abundance and blessing. Every time I get in my new ride I feel like I am driving down the street in a big giant wrapped up hug from God Himself. Sometimes words do a poor job of expressing gratitude.

4. Do you remember latch hooks? My girls have recently become latch hook junkies. Rainbows and unicorns. They make me smile.

5. I had been saving Trader Joe’s Salsa jars for quite a while to make into candles for the Fourth. That plan crashed and burned, but thankfully I found these condiment caddies (and really a condiment caddy? Who names this stuff?) at Target on a clearance row. The jars were the perfect addition for our red spinny things, formerly known as condiment caddies, that now adorn our school table.

6. Yummy new paint, a trash can from the dollar tree turned light fixture, and the beginnings of a wall of functional items for our school days are the beginnings of our new and improved classroom, coming soon.

7. ‎“Don’t let fear stop you. You just may be on the very brink of incredible.”

A timely quote that I read late last night. The Lord has been opening all kinds of doors for me lately and choosing which ones to walk through can be at times daunting. My human nature is to pick up my skirt and run my little girl sandals as fast as I can through each and every single one of them. That doesn’t work. Ask me how I know?  So, now I am learning and relearning the art of slowing down and prayerfully considering which way my feet should carry me and trust the God of my life who has the bigger picture and my best interest at heart.

8. I am having the best time being involved over at Hip Homeschool Mom’s. Such a fantastic group of women that are literally spread all over the world. I have the awesome privilege of regular postings and product reviews. It is a great resource if you are homeschooling your little monsters.

9. I was recently interviewed for a book regarding eating unprocessed food in America. The author is a former journalist for the New York Times who is now freelance writer. My littlest Emma has now decided we are famous. In reality, it was just a ton of fun.

10. School is out for the summer, but a teacher’s job is never done. I have been working hard at wrapping my head around the million things that we will be learning this year. Second grade, seventh grade, and eighth grade it is….A friend of mine and I have a standing 7pm on Tuesday date at whatever place with house us with free internet and a comfy chair. We frequently also attend the after party at one of our houses. We plan, and plan, and read, and discuss plans, and plan some more. We discover deep things and not so deep things. Most recently, we have discovered that Better Binders really have their name for a reason. Staples, my friends. In all colors and patterns. Get some.

11. Green Jeans Photography….I recently wrapped up all of the editing my whirlwind five session weekend in San Jose. It was a fabulous weekend! AND NOW, I am working with a designer and will have a logo, business card, and all of that fun stuff within the next 2-3 weeks. I also am the new proud owner of my space on the internet….greenjeansphotography.com. A website will be coming in the future.

I hope your Sunday is fabulous, my friends!!!!

Go hug somebody…life is precious. Don’t forget to live it.

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Live Big

My boy went to camp today. Hume Lake. Four hours away. I told Facebbok that I was 90% happy for him and 10% jealous. My long time friend suggested that that number probably wasn’t accurate. He was right. It’s probably about 70-30. I was trying not to sound like too big of a dirt bag. Maybe even 60-40, if truth be told.

I stood in the parking lot with a bunch of other mamas. We made jokes about things we could do to embarrass our children. Running down the street after the caravan screaming goodbye like a wild maniac, anyone?. Oh, the mere thought was enough to bring me joy for at least a year.

I saw ukuleles, red sequined cowboy hats, miniature rocking horses, and the cutest black and white polka dot suitcase. It all seemed perfectly normal. After the packing up of luggage, the physicals, the check in, the potty reminder, and the circle of prayer, there was a mad dash for the caravan of vehicles by 40 ish teens. Each car was appropriately labeled with the use of window paint, in numerical order. My favorite was car number two which said DOS. All the other cars had regular numerical numbers. This car was apparently special. It was bilingual.

There was a bit more waiting after the cars were filled up. To say there was energy would be an understatement. I was almost teary, not because my first born would be leaving the nest for the very first time. Not because he would not be sleeping under our roof for six whole nights. No. It was for a very different reason.

While last minute details were being wrapped up, the car in front of me was giving a Carly Rae Jepsen concert. Multiple limbs were flying out of windows while notes that have never been heard by the human ear were being sung, no wait, shouted with no regard for quality control. The car was shaking on its axels and it closely resembled a bobble head. Then is where the tears fought to make their debut.

When do we as adults stop dancing? More importantly, why? Part of me so desperately wanted to be in that car yelling out the window in plastic devices to amplify my already insanely loud voice. Excited because I was going to get Sonic and not even care that it was in Fresno. To spend a week playing, and shouting, and learning, and dancing. Why do we ever stop that? Because the truth is that I think most of us do.

Should it matter if our day to day grows up a bit? The fact is that I can bust out Call Me Maybe like no other and it may not be as cute as those teens but I can promise you that I will have just as much fun.

I turned to my friend and asked, “Why don’t women’s retreats look like this?”

I was met with shrugged shoulders and another chimed in, “I wanna ride in your car.”

Exactly.

“Moments, this is all we have.

How many moments have I been sleeping right through?

Someone wake me up.

You have got to figure out a way to stay fully awake.

Time is blurring by.

How do we stop living like life is an emergency?

How do we start believing that life can only be carried in the hands of the unhurried?”

~Ann Voskamp

Such memories of my own youth enveloped me as I stood there. I can barely grasp that some 20 plus years have passed. I waited in my own caravan one day long ago, while my own youth pastor through his hands to the air and exclaimed as he often did, “makin memories”. He was right. They are memories. Some of the best.

I watched my son go and in very even though it would be fun I don’t really want to permanently scar you through this experience like fashion I subtly waved goodbye as car number eight made its way amongst the cheering and yelling and honking…out onto the road and out of view.

My heart surprisingly was not one bit sad for him leaving. Because I know what opportunity awaits him and the prayer in my heart is that he takes every advantage of this mountain top experience that he has been blessed with. My heart smiles at the circle of life that I watch happen before my eyes. He has zero idea that he is about to make memories that will last him a lifetime, but I know and I cherish them for him before they even are made. I pray that they are abundant.

My head and heart are spinning and I take my one year old baby to leave. As I am backing out, I see the stroller that I absentmindedly left in the parking lot. I throw the car into park and get out to collect my belongings and hopefully my brain.

I am so resolved to live big. Whether my days entail caravans of camp going teens, or mountains full of filthy clothes. May I always remember.

Smile.

Twirl.

Abandon.

Be grateful.

See Jesus.

See good.

Show mercy.

Show grace.

Dance.

Shout.

and love with a healthy dose of Call Me Maybe thrown right in.

This mamas heart does miss my man child, a whole lot. But more than missing him, I am so happy for him. I am not going to spend this week staying busy to hurry his return. No. I am going to spend this week living to the fullest. Just like he will be doing, atop a mountain with hundreds of others.

“So count the ways He loves a thousand more and never stop, so that when you wake in the morning you can’t help but raise your hands to the heavens.” ~Ann Voskamp

I have a toddler to chase, a husband to love, some of my best girls to have a patio dinner with, lockers to give a fresh coat of spray paint, chore charts to make, client shoots to wrap up, a closet to organize, mommy daughter dates, soccer camp, night swims, Bible reading, Pinterest drooling, running, dishes, and plenty of upcoming dirty diapers.

“This is how you spend your one life well. Receiving each moment for what it really is. Holy. Ordinary. Amazing Grace. A Gift.” ~Ann Voskamp

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The Apple

What I don’t always see is her watching me.

What I don’t always see is that when I go in to See’s Candy to get some of my homeschool teacher mama friends some end of the year gifts, she’s learning. Learning how to treat people. Learning how to notice.

She asks why we are getting other teacher’s presents. I explained that in other schools, the mommy’s usually get the teachers end of the year thank you gifts. When you are the teacher AND the mommy sometimes you don’t get anything and so I thought it would be nice to get them a little thank you. She says “oh”, seemingly unaffected.

This morning, the first thing I saw told me otherwise.

She’s a good student, that girl. She notices.

I am so very very blessed to be the mommy of this precious seven year old young lady.

I am reminded that I have eight eyeballs watching me ALL DAY LONG and I better live accordingly. The most valuable lessons we teach our children often don’t happen in books.

It’s the last day of school.

Tomorrow we party.

~~~~~~~~~~

44. new beginnings

45. memories

46. legs to run

47. apples

48. forgiveness

~~~~~~~My forever in progress Thousand Gifts list.

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No Where To Go But Forward

A little over two years ago, I experienced my first hike ever. After several hikes in between, yesterday, we repeated the adventure of Mt. Diablo.

The unfriendly cadence of the alarm woke me after only a couple hours of sleep. A night of an unexpected restless seven year old mixed with a fully expected restless me, left little time for zzz’s and plenty for counted sheep. I roll out of bed and into a hot shower to clear my head and get ready for the day.

It hasn’t yet been a year since we went on what has come to be known as the hike of death. It really was just a hike where there were a lot of mosquitos and I hurt my knee. However, because I have an affinity for the flamboyant in any given situation, the hike of death title shall remain. The unsettling nature of feeling helpless on that hike also remained and played tricks on me into the wee hours of the morning.

We arrived at the mountain after a Starbucks stop and an Indy 500 style ride in a minivan through some country backroads. The weather was fantastic. Brisk and yet just enough sun to give you a little hug to warm you up.

We headed out…and up.

The somewhat conflicting thing to me about hiking, is that all too often, I don’t want to keep walking.

Many times I just want to stop and be. To look at the little dots of life below us, the hawks floating in the air above us, the surprise flowers, the crazy clouds, and the stillness that is so profound it can take your breath away.

It was a magnificent day and the six of us all marched to the beat of our own individual drummers and continued on up the mountain laughing, talking, silent, and pausing for breath in repeated intervals along the way.

Hours after our departure from the van, we stood shivering at 3849 feet at the summit, triumphant.

We were surrounded with fabulous views and amazing architecture as we paused a bit to take it all in.

After an amazing dinner on all accounts, I find myself in the van heading home with multiple snoozing passengers. I reflect. I relive the day. I’m at peace. I think of all the many things to be thankful for in my life and wish my baby would still be awake when I arrive home so that I could smother him with kisses. I see a church billboard that reads…If you don’t climb the mountain, you won’t see the view. I silently scream Amen. I remember that the couple of big mountains I am currently climbing in my real life back at home are waiting for me. There is no where to go but forward. Backwards just sucks. What a waste of all the work already done. Staying still won’t get you anywhere and despite the miserable conditions you may or may not find yourself in, you have to push forward. I study every detail of the sunset out my window and wonder if in heaven we will get to jump on those billowy clouds or if God meant them to remain looked at, but untouched.

With the most eclectic mix of music you have ever heard in this one great life we live playing softly in the back ground, we start to near home and instinctively the others start to wake up. Then Wham. Remember Wham? Everything She wants begins to play and one by one the van becomes a fantastic Wham on wheels concert that would make Simon Cowell shiver. The darling 18 year old who bravely joined her parents and this group of forty somethings for the hike, breaks the display of all of this undiscovered talent by asking if she is the only person in the car who hadn’t heard that song. She’s answered yes and I promptly felt every one of the days that was adding up to the 40 years of life that I have lived. I silently belly laugh remembering when I was her age and hearing any OLD PERSON play John Denver or something else that I did not comprehend. I now understand what it is like to live through an era and remain a sudden, albeit forgotten fan, when the memories come flooding back from the mere notes of a song. Wham was fantastic. The memories of While Wham was playing moments are still fantastic and every 4o something in the car remembered. One day she will be there too….only then I will be 60. I shudder and return to reality just in time to catch the My God, I don’t even think that I love you….sung in high pitched attempts of greatness by one of my distinguished and unnamed pastors.

We arrive home and after a couple bars of more forgotten hits and some serious white boy cabbage patch moves in driveways, we say our goodbyes and go our separate ways.

I am content because after the first hike, I could barely move and now after the same hike, I am walking, just like a regular human. Progress is great. My thighs even agreed to let me bend down to hug my seven year old AND stand back up. I spent today in a little pain. A little soreness. Just enough to remind me that my health is important. That my muscles and my heart scream to be pushed and IT. IS. GOOD. I vow to keep pushing so that I experience this soreness on a regular basis and then…I think back to my mountains. While I wish far to often for the removal of them from my life, I wonder if they are as valuable as my semi nagging sore legs. Painful enough to remind me to be thankful for my life in the very first place. For somehow in a strange twist of irony living with pain reminds me of the fragile gift of the beauty of life. Without that pain, it might just be all too easy to forget.

~~~~~~

30. The view that’s worth the effort

31. Hawks that soar

32. husbands that take your hand

33. billowy clouds

34. steaming hot pizza

35. a change of clothes

36. flowers along the way

37. fudgesicle frozen yogurt that tastes like its name

~~~~~~~~~My ever in progress Thousand Gifts list.

Linking up with….

miscellany monday at lowercase letters

 

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Anything Is Possible.

“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.”

I do not have an official bucket list. If I did, you would find some big, seemingly unattainable items on it. Such as tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain, exploring the hillsides of  Tuscany, and getting new carpet in our rental home…you know, that type of thing. Then you would find the small things that I continue to say and rarely make an effort to do like sew a pillow case dress, make homemade jam, parasail, etc. Finally, you would find the things that have been on there for~EVAH that I am finally doing in the last year or two. Run a 5k, run a 10k, and improve my photography skills.

Feels good to cross things off. I am thinking of making an official bucket list because I am one of those weirdoes who likes to write things down for the sheer purpose of crossing them off. It is like putting the exclamation point on the end of a sentence and a cherry on top of the sundae. Something isn’t complete until that final bit of oh la la makes its appearance, ya know?

So, I have been reading and practicing, reading and practicing, going through tutorials, and having many a photography playdate with my Ashley to suck all the knowledge out of her that I can. I was over the moon when a sweet friend of mine emailed to see if I could take some pics of her beyond beautiful young ladies. These girls are as sweet as they are pretty and it was such a fun time with them.

We have GOT to do what makes us feel alive. As I was prewriting these jumbled thoughts in my head, trying to decide if they would magically turn themselves into a somewhat coherent post, I sat down and opened my computer. I instantly found that the articulate Kelle Hampton quite literally wrote a post entitled ALIVE, just today. For me, more often then not, when reading a Kelle Hampton post, I find myself trying to convince my body that it is not an appropriate time to jump up and burst into the Hallelujah chorus. Although, quite frankly, she seems like the type that probably would, even in the middle of a crowded library. That girl speaks my language. The one that lives in my soul, but struggles at times to get out. She inspires.

What makes me feel alive is to grow and stretch. To learn something new. To share important moments with people. To love on my family. To capture beauty. To find artistry. To live with uninhibited passion.

To… Do what you can

With what you have

Where you are.

 -Theodore Roosevelt

There is a magical place.

That point where living becomes more important then just existing and you’ll do anything you can to get there.

Whatever it takes.

What is it that makes you want to leap out of your chair and sing the Hallelujah chorus?


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School Paper Organization

If you have a child in school, YOU NEED THIS PROJECT. Everyone needs somewhere to store those mounds of adorable projects, papers, and awards.

I found various versions of this project on Pinterest. There is this one and this one.

I love this project and the options out there to make it unbelievable cute are plenty. Here’s the thing, the price tag can get up there quickly. I have four children and needed a super frugal option. I went with price tag and function over cute this time.

Did I JUST type that?

When I took the basics and added these cute labels, it suddenly turned frugal into a vintage chalkboard inspired theme.

The best of both worlds.

THE SUPPLIES

The plastic tubs are AWESOME. Boring perhaps? A little. However, they are just $13 for two at Costco and they are very, very, durable. This project needs to last for like at least eighty years, so I need me some durability. You need one box per child.

The green hanging folders were just $5 for a box of 25 at Staples. You need one for each year of school per child. There is hanging file folders of every color in the rainbow and they are C U T E. However, the price tag reflects that. I went with the cheapest ones I could get my hands on.

 The tab folders are a recycled folder from Staples as well. 100 of them for just about $10. You need one for each year of school per child.

I purchased the labels for the front of the files at Staples as well, for about $10. You need one for each file folder.

I purchased the tab file folder labels on clearance at Target for $5.

The black photo corners I purchased at Target for just $3.

Overall total for this project for my four children is about $65. I bought it piece by piece over the last few months.

THE HOW TO

So, basically the goal of this project is that ALL school memorabilia gets saved in the box. ALL of it.

How do you decide what goes in the box?

1. ALL awards, certificates, and those types of things.

2. Report cards

3. A sample of work from the beginning of the year and from the end.

4. Anything that makes me smile.

Yes, that is my official process. I save up papers for the whole year. Then I sit down and look through them. If it is in category 1-3, it automatically gets saved. If it isn’t, it has to past the smile test. If it makes me smile, it gets saved. If it doesn’t, it goes.

The bottom line is this, YOU CAN’T SAVE EVERYTHING. Too much of anything is never a good thing. So, be ruthless and save the spectacular.

I have tried to do traditional scrapbooking of school projects. I had started a couple of albums for the older kids and let me tell you, it is a hot mess. It just wasn’t easy to look through. I love being able to pick up their crafts and handle them. When trying to shove them all into pocket style photo albums, it became a nightmare. Not too mention there are only so many hours in a day and I have plenty of other stuff I would rather scrapbook. So, I aborted and landed with these. They are MUCH quicker.

Amazing, right? Yay for brilliant ideas. Yay for SUPER EASY. Yay for ORGANIZED. I am dangerously close to breaking out the pom pons, so I will stop now.

One nice little box for each of my lovelies. Even my one year old. In the blink of an eye, he will be in school and well yes, the boxes all need to match, right?

Have a happy weekend!!!

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Homeschool Talent Show

Oh my sweet girl and her daddy. They have stolen my heart.

So proud of them both.

Hip Homeschool Hop Button

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I Love You Through and Through

I Love you through and through.

I love your top side. I love your bottom side.

I love your inside and outside.

I love your happy side, your sad side, your silly side, your mad side.

I love your fingers and toes, your ears and nose.

I love your hair and eyes, your giggles and cries.

I love you running and walking, silent and talking.

I love you through and through…

yesterday, today, and tomorrow, too.

 

I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak

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Twenty Twelve.

We rang in the New Year at home this year with friends. It was mellow. Mellow, that is until 11:59 and 50 seconds. Then the counting, toasting, yelling, hugging, pot banging, and running through the street began. Greyson slept through all of it.

Sometimes you go all out for your party and sometimes the 13 year old boys end up toasting sparking cider in girl print sippy cups because no one gave any thought to which glasses were available to use. It was the kind of night that nobody cared.

The kind of night where the friends were so close that you didn’t need to clean the house for their arrival. No agenda. Just being together. Chillin’, snacking on Christmas abundance leftovers, watching Dick Clark Ryan Seacrest, and trying to figure out what it would take to get to Time Square one year in person.

It was indeed quite perfect. We have two sketchy phone pictures and full hearts to show for it.

We slipped into bed just before 1 am.

New Years Day 2012.

It seems like just yesterday we were preparing and anticipating Y2k.

We got up today around 9.

It’s been a LAZY day around here.

Although I am somewhat whiny about the lack of rain that we are having, you just can’t beat this weather.

We got outside this afternoon and it was almost warm.

My head and heart are on warp speed today. I love new beginnings. The possibilities leave me almost breathless.

While the to do lists are plotting a somewhat hostile takeover of my brain, today I am opting to be still.

Focusing on what is here right in front of me.

…because while the future is pretty exciting, right now is pretty great too.

And I. am. thankful.

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Sitting on the Stairs.

Our Christmas morning goes a little something like this….

We used to be awakened by loudness. I am not a morning person. I am a Christmas person…to the nth degree B U T…apparently this does not over shadow my lack of ability to get yanked away from dreamland as I am being jumped on and become instantly joyful. SO, this one day in the year 2006, I uttered some of the wisest words that have ever left these lips.

“When you wake up in the morning the only option for waking us up early is to come in and stand at the foot of our bed and sing Jingle Bells…in HUSHED TONES.”

Now keep in mind, I have a tree full of presents waiting to be opened and I can pretty much get my children to instantly agree to do ANYTHING I wish at this point. I am pretty sure if I said they had to scrub their toilet before opening presents, they would do so, agreeably.

However, I am not that mean and this little tradition of song, has become one of the highlights of the year. Truly. It is the simplest things in life, most of the time.

The first couple of years, my husband and I would actually be awakened by giggles and whispers as they plot their entrance and grand presentation while just steps outside of our door. We would fake sleep and listen to the pre show with smiles on our “sleeping” faces. It was priceless. Soon, they were on to us and now their goal is to truly wake us up with song. This year they definitely achieved it.

We wake up to the sweetest, softest voices. They are filled with excitement ~ and anticipation ~ and joy. Listening to children try and bottle up the joy of Christmas morning into a whispered version of Jingle Bells is amazing. It is beautiful. Each year I lay there and pretend to be asleep a little longer so that I can bask in the delight for a chorus or two.

After this we ask the kids to go sit on the stairs and wait for us for just a few minutes.

2006 (Emma was just 3 and still asleep)

They huddle and giggle and talk about what they might see. For in our house, upon reaching the bottom of the stairs and turning the corner, they will find their “big gift”. It is in plain sight with no wrapping.

2007

It is not necessarily big in size or price, but big on a child’s Christmas wish list. It usually creates screams, falling on the floor, and jumping for joy. Sometimes a delightful happy dance will spontaneously erupt. It is all so magnificent.

2008

…But those moments of waiting on the stairs, are some of my most treasured memories. The anticipation is at its absolute height of the season. All of the planning, preparing, decorating, and waiting is at the peak of its crescendo and for those few moments everyone in our house is on the same page.

2009

I love it. I LOVE IT. I L O V E I T. I dangerously push the line of inflicting childhood torture as I stall as long as humanly possible.

2010

We take our positions. My husband takes video and I take still. We wait for a moment and yell G O. A year of waiting, gives way to laughter and screams and imprinting more memories, that will hopefully last a lifetime.

2011

Hope your Christmas days are Merry and Bright.

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