Easter 2016

As we drove to mass this morning, Baylor and Auggs each told us what Easter meant. They talked about how Jesus died because He loves us so much. How He opened the gates of Heaven and then how He rose from the dead. It was so sweet to hear them speak about our faith so perfectly.

After yet another amazing brunch at my mom’s, we headed over to her friend and neighbor’s house. Joyce offered up her yard for an egg hunt. It was like being in a secret garden!

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Spring Has Sprung

Ever since we moved last summer, I’ve been dying to have a garden again. Our lettuce table didn’t make the move (I’m still not sure why. And I’m still waiting on my replacement…ahem, PETER) so I have been without home grown veggies for too many months.

Now, finally after many weeks of building, stucco, planning, redoing, planting and fertilizing – the garden is growing! And it looks amazing. Every time I catch a glimpse of this space, it makes me so happy.

While this is not the true true before, it’s enough of a before for this post. Imagine no stucco and very 1970’s ugly brown cement block…

My helper was not excited for the camera. He was ready to work. And by work, I mean move dirt from one side to the other.

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Aaaaannnddd the after!!

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There are four new roses – three gifts from my mom – she hand picked not only the color but the scent. I’m so excited for the blooms. One is a Pope John Paul II white rose and the one at the nursery was amazing.

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See that little pod under the bloom? It’s a Praying Mantis pod. I’m hoping they hatch and keep the aphids away…we’ll see if it works.

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I’m a little obsessed with the obelisk. If you need one, I got these at A Rustic Garden. Good prices and fast shipping. They are making a happy home for two kinds of grape tomatoes including Sweet 100’s – my favorites. There’s also Swiss Chard and mixed greens lettuce coming up. IMG_9207

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I honestly forget how much I love Orange Blossoms. Every year, the first sniff of their scent reminds me – and it’s the most welcome memory. We will have Arizona Sweet and Valencia oranges this Thanksgiving. There’s also a small Meyer Lemon in the raised beds that will provide some shade in the summer.

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One of the lone survivors of our backyard re-landscaping was this Pomegranate tree. It was a bit neglected, but after a good trim and lots of fertilizer, it’s full of blooms. And hopefully lots of fruit too.

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Kindness Kits

Baylor’s school had the privilege of listening to Sr. Adele O’Sullivan speak about our city’s homeless. And where their school is located, they see homelessness everywhere. She spoke about how it is our duty as Catholics to care for the least among us and how we can do that. Sr. Adele is the founder of Circle the City, a respite that delivers healthcare to the homeless. In anticipation of her visit, she asked all the students to bring in hygiene items, snack foods, waters and bags. Then each class created Kindness Kits that the Circle the City volunteers hand out to those that visit the facility.

We decided that this was a great way for us to continue this stewardship at home. With a quick trip the Dollar Store and $15 later, we were able to create 6 bags full of soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, water, EmergenC packets, snacks and a few other small hygiene items. We keep them in the car and when we see a homeless person, we offer it to them. Sometimes I get worried that the person won’t want it, but we’ve yet to be turned down.

Creating the bags opened up A LOT of questions. How do people become homeless? Why are they homeless? Why do they need all this? It was a heavy conversation to have. But it opened up a lot of topics too about how blessed we are to have what we have and how we can share that with others.

 

How to Leave for School in 5 Easy Steps

We all know what a hassle it can be to get out the door in the morning. Just moving people can be tough, let alone remembering all the stuff – lunches, backpacks, water bottles – I’m ready for a cocktail just writing about it! So here are some easy steps to getting out the door in the morning:

Step 1: Wake Up Children

If your house is anything like my house, then your kids sleep like angels until 7am on weekdays and are up at 5:45am on weekends. So how do you get those little sweeties up and at ’em? I like to think of it like waking a hibernating bear. Approach with caution. Open the door a crack. Open the door some more. Gently sweep hair off of faces and whisper “good morning”. Quietly open blinds. Stomp out of the room. Turn on light. Warn in a not-so-quiet tone that we’re going to be late. Commence physically removing rag doll children from beds. Threaten them with naps if they don’t get up right freaking now. Put palm to forehead when they ask why you yell so much. Inform children that they haven’t even seen your best yelling yet.

Step 2: Breakfast

You know what I love? Those amazing Pinterest posts about creative, delicious and nutritious breakfasts for kids. So step 2 is a snap; go to Pinterest, the grocery store and then wake up extra early to create said Pinterest breakfast and then spend 20 minutes force feeding it to your kids.

Step 3: Get Dressed

I have found that giving your kids a sweet printable checklist  or adorably decorated magnets with pictures of the activities they need to complete is an excellent way to throw your money down the toilet AND it gives you another thing to scream about. Now not only can we repeatedly ask if they have their socks and shoes, but we can incorporate the checklist too! “Did you check item #3 off??” “I think there’s still a magnet on the ‘to do’ side of the board!!”. It’s an awesome way of adding a layer of difficulty to the morning.

Step 4: Gather All the Shit

Backpack – check. Lunch – check. Water bottle -check. Different water bottle – check. Uniform sweatshirt – check. Non uniform sweatshirt so we can fight about it – check. Teacher appreciation gift; roses in a vase that are sure to spill all over the front seat and my lap – check. Yet another fundraiser check – check. And after remembering all of this, you know who the freaking hero is?? Daddy. Because he forgot to take out of the car remembered the cheap, plastic bracelet for said fundraiser on the booster seat. Advantage; Daddy.

Well played, sir. Well played.

Step 5: Transport

After all of the stuff is loaded, begin the process of strapping children into the car. Do the willing ones first, that way when they change their minds and decided that they too need to find and obscure toy that might possibly be under the seat in front of their sibling, it’s too late because they’re already hog tied.

Once everyone is secure, put on what you want to listen to. They will fight about what is on the radio – even if it’s the Frozen soundtrack – anyway so might as well have a few minutes of peace.

After the extraction from the car is complete and your little angels are safely in the hands of their unsuspecting teachers, high tail it out of there. I prefer to do an arabesque on my way out the school gate. I find that it gives other parents hope that the misery that is School Morning is close to being over.

Good luck, kitties. It’s a jungle out there. Or rather in here. It’s a jungle in here.

 

Organized Living: Catch It All

Any time I flip through a magazine or catalog, I always sigh when I see neatly organized “catch all” or mud rooms. I love the idea of having a place to house all the stuff needed for activities, school and life.

This is our finished catch all and I love it. It makes clean up easy (ok, slightly easier) because everyone can put their bags, gear and or reminders in one space. Plus there’s not back packs and soccer balls every where. Or at least in theory.

This bench is an antique that has been in our house since I was little. It sort of floats around rooms, but it always works. The mirrors and the baskets are Target. And the shelf is courtesy of Peter and his amazing carpentry skills.

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I love the baskets. They make storage so pretty. And yes, having a crap basket is totally necessary.

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One organized living solution that keeps my sanity is to have a bag for each activity. Swim, dance, soccer, softball – all of them get a bag. Then at the end of each game or practice, all the crap goes back into the bag. That way there’s at least a fighting chance of finding soccer balls and TWO shin guards.

And that orange bag? Is a life saver! It has pockets surrounding the inside and the wide opening means everything is easily accessable. It’s called The Game Day Tote from Simply Steph’s Monograms on Etsy. Tell her I sent you when you order yours.

Need ideas for your mud room? Head on over to Pinterest and get ready to lose a few hours. All you need is a little space and some imagination – now get organized!

Accepting Reality

I had a business meeting yesterday morning that did not go as well as I had hoped. I don’t often write about the water company that we own and operate – it’s not really my happy place. But I realized last night as I was trying to laugh off a bad day with Peter, I’ve been managing this company for 6 year. Whoa. It hadn’t really dawn on me that it had been that long. And while Peter was was making my laugh by comparing the time to a prison sentence, I realized that it might be time to embrace accept it. To stop calling it “the stupid water company” as I usually refer to it. To give it the attention it demands. To recognize that I spend a lot of time running a business and that while I may not love it, I’ve gotten pretty good at it. I’ve learned a lot and together with my mom, we’ve turned a regulated business from solidly in the red to being in the black. It’s time to acknowledge our work and start to find the bright spot in the business.

As I dropped the kiddos off at their schools yesterday, Baylor knew something was up because I was wearing heels. When I told her that I had an important meeting, she responded with “I’ll say a prayer for you today”. The second word out of her mouth when I picked her up was “how was your meeting??”. When I told her that it wasn’t great, she told me that not only had she said a prayer for me, she asked her whole class to pray too and then the other class during religion to do the same.

I realized that no matter how unsatisfied I am with this business, there aren’t many things as amazing as being able to send our kiddo to a fantastic school and to have 35 six year olds saying prayers for you. And if I had to choose between an always amazing business or a six year old with a heart of gold, I’ll take that little lady every time.

Life is good.

Firehouse Fun

Our family was treated to a personal tour of a Mesa Fire Department Firehouse this weekend – and it was amazing! Mike, a friend and college of Peter’s, invited us over when he heard that Auggie was having a firefighter themed birthday. I think Auggie was equal parts excited and nervous.

Mike rolled out the red carpet showing us all around the firehouse, introducing us to the other firefighters and giving us the inside scoop on how it all functions. We then got to go check out the truck, including a quick ride around to the back of the station (headsets and all!) where the kids took turns with the fire hose.

Mike also showed us how much gear he has to put on – and in under 2 minutes. Holy moly, it’s a lot. I can’t imagine walking around with 45 pounds of hot, heavy gear on…let alone fight a fire!

Look at those smiles

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Here’s the thing, we were only one of two tours going on. If you think your kiddo would love to visit the fire house, give your local station a call. They will let you know the best days and times – they seem to really enjoy educating people – and kids- on how the fire station works and fire safety. In fact, when Mike was in his full gear, mask and all, he made a point of talking to each person in each of the tours. It was a good lesson for all the kids that that is what firefighters look like in an emergency and not to be afraid of them. It was a fun an educational way to spend a Sunday morning!

Spooktackular Crafts

While looking for ideas for Auggie’s birthday party on Pinterest, I randomly came across the cutest Halloween craft. I’m a sucker for hand and footprint art. But I tend to leave those to the kid’s schools because paint on feet and hands gives me anxiety.

Despite my apprehension,  I was feeling ambitious so I took the picture of the craft and the kids to Michael’s to get our supplies. The kids were surprisingly good and happy to help gather up what we needed. They (generally) cooperated when it came to putting their hands and feet in the right place and they (sort of) listened when I told them not to touch the wet canvases. Overall? A win! And the end product came out pretty cute!

When we were getting ready to paint their feet, I asked Baylor how they do it at school – did they dip their hands into the paint or did the teachers brush it on? She concluded that most of the teachers would brush it on. Auggie then chimed in with “Mommy? Mommy? At mine school, when we are painting….they no let me put my hands in the paint.” I couldn’t stop laughing. He wanted so badly to contribute to the conversation.

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So their high arches and “sleepy” toes made for some funny prints, but I think they’re pretty cute! Want to give it a go? Here’s what you’ll need:

1 8oz bottle of multi-surface acrylic paint in Black and Orange

1 2oz bottle of multi-surface acrylic paint in Green and White

1 Spool of festive ribbon

Paint pens in Black and Orange. (I couldn’t find orange so I just used paint. It’s doable, but it takes a lot longer)

3 8×10 canvases

Glitter paint for decorating

Sponge brushes

Small paint brushes

Paper plates and news paper

Towels and small tub of soapy water

Start by painting the background on the three canvases. This is a great place to let the kids help. Ours took two coats with about 20 minutes of drying in between. Let dry overnight.

When you’re ready to do the hand and foot prints, on clean feet / hands, use a sponge brush to coat the whole bottom of the foot. You will need to use more paint than you think – really coat it. Then standing, have your kiddo put their foot on the canvas and hold still while you push down on each toe and the edges of the foot. Be careful not to let the foot slide around. When each foot or hand is done, dunk it in the soapy water (Baylor told me this little detail of school crafting AFTER we were done…). Let all hand and foot prints dry over night.

Start decorating! Add in wording, spider webs, glitter – whatever you want!  Hot glue the ribbon to the back, tie it in a bow and voila! Instant holiday memories. Have fun!

October Babies

Just like June in our house, October is crazy! Not only is our social calendar packed, we get to celebrate Peter and Auggie’s birthdays. And because they are back to back (literally) it’s a little nutty trying to get it all in.

We celebrated Peter being older than me (we’re the same age for about 4 months a year) again with his favorite Funfetti cake and dinner out. We sat at Steak 44, studied the menu and strategized on who would order what so that we would get the full spectrum of the steak house’s offerings. Shrimp cocktail, ribeye steak, onion strings, creamed spinach, crab legs and chocolate chip bread pudding were all absolutely delicious! A birthday celebration to remember.

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We planned a Fireman themed party for Auggie the following day to celebrate this guy – the big 3!

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The kiddos got to cover their fire helmets with stickers. Then they raced outside to an emergency – chalk flames that they got to put out with squirt guns. It was a huge hit! The remnants of the chalk flames are going to require a little more elbow grease to get off though. Peter pointed out AFTER I had drawn all over the wall –  “maybe you should have tested it to make sure it will come off”. Yes, that would have been smart. Now we’ll just pick a paint color faster…IMG_8961

And what good party doesn’t have a fire truck pinata?? And when the little guys can’t get it open, you bring in the softball team.

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The struggle to blow out the candles is real, my friends.

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I love this picture. He was absolutely perfect for the party. Honestly, a parent couldn’t ask for more – he was happy, excited, friendly – he was having an amazing time! But hold him back from his ice cream cake? Sh*t gets real, real quick.

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Happy birthday my October men. I can’t wait to celebrate 100 more with each of you!

The Old Switcheroo

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned as a mom is to listen to your gut. Then evaluate what you’re feeling, think through it, re-evaluate, ask opinions, but at the end of the day, go with what your mom intuition says to do.

Despite feeling like we had found a great school for Baylor 6 months ago, when it came to actually going to school there, it wasn’t a good fit. As a family, we crave a community. We need to have those people that we run into a drop off and pick up, the parents who we see at school events, church and sports. While there was community at the first school, it wasn’t our kind of community. On top of that, the very strict on campus policies were adding to already difficult drop offs. The morning that I found myself in tears in the front office over an issue with the front desk, I knew something had to change.

So we pulled the plug.

It seems nuts on paper to switch schools just a month into the year. But my gut was screaming “hallelujah!” at just the thought of something different. I sent an email to a friend asking how her experience was as a new student at their school and gave a brief description of what we were working with. She immediately called me and said “you need to get over here, you’re going to love it”.

And she was so right. After a tour, we got an email the same day saying that B’s application was accepted and there were expecting her at the beginning of the next week. When I broke the news to B, she replied “that sounds fine – I have no problem going to a new school” – which seemed very telling to me.

Now going into our second week, I know we made the right choice. Baylor has gone from being dragged out of bed in the morning, begging to know how many days were left in the week and if she really had to go to school all before melting down at drop off, to bouncing out of bed with a smile on her face. She’s excited, happy and loving her fresh-out-of-college and full of ambition teacher. Peter and I are loving the families who have gone out of their way to seek us out, introduce themselves and then quickly include us in school and social activities. Parents have asked their kids to find “the new girl – she’s the really tall blonde girl” and make sure she had someone to eat lunch with and play with on the playground. We are so lucky-blessed-fortunate to have found the right place.

I think the smile says it all.

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And yes, that is a new uniform. I am now the proud owner of several hundred dollars worth of uniforms for a school we no longer attend…oh well. The cost of getting it right!