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.

Rockin’ and Rollin’ 2016

When you live near the Rock and Roll Marathon route, you can either try to get around the marathon, run it, or find away to enjoy it! We chose the last option and joined our friends, the B Family, for their annual water station. They are literally on the route so they are blocked in – which is a great excuse to hand out water and turn it into a party.

We rode our bikes over to their house and realized that this was a well oiled machine. Tables with cups and a system for filling and then refilling the water jugs was in place. Not to mention a great spread of breakfast and bloody marys for the volunteers. It wasn’t long until the first few runners came by, then the big waves came. It was so neat seeing the various kinds of runners – everyone was working hard. The sweetest thing was that so many runners not only slowed down, but some stopped to take the water from the kids and thank them for being there to cheer and hydrate. It was so cute to see the excitement on the kids faces.

Cutest helpers ever

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The waiting

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Someone has to drink the champs and bloodies

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Working hard!

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Towards the end, the kids handed out little candies too. It was a very sought after position

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Congratulations to everyone that ran! And thank you to all the runners who took time to say thank you, you made a lot of little kids very happy!

Hanging Memories

When we were first married, we had the skinniest, fake Christmas tree. It was this sad little thing, but it was in the budget. I added big strands of garland to it to beef it up and disguise the fact that we didn’t have many ornaments.

See what I mean? (And yes, that is snow outside! Kind of miss that. For like a second.)

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Every year since, I have bought an ornament with the year on it and popped our Christmas card picture into it. It’s so fun decorating the tree  and pulling out those sweet memories. The little faces, furry faces and younger faces  – all of them holding a little story of what life was like when they were created.

I’ve got the process down to a science now – as soon as I upload our Christmas card picture, I have one printed on ShutterFly in wallet size. Then I order the yearly ornament from Pottery Barn. I love the simplicity of the frame and how they are just a little different each year.

I think the part I love the most is when Auggie walks around the tree and exclaims “There’s me! There’s you, Baylor! There’s all of us!!”. It’s perfect.

And now that we have legit school pictures, I think we might need to start a new tradition with those…

So the Christmas tree this year is a bit better than that first tree…we had a very Griswold moment picking it out, getting it home and then getting it to stay upright. I still have sap on my hands.

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The one that started it all

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And finally the newest addition

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Shared Office Space

One of the benefits of having an office big enough to share is that Peter works from home so much more. It’s been so nice to cut the commute time and have him be able to be able to pop out for lunch and then back into the office.

But there is a downside…we have totally opposite working styles. I like order. He likes chaos. I do not eat at my desk. He has full blown meals (I’m cringing while I type…). I like my papers stacked up neatly and I have a system of where each project goes. He has the paperwork tornado approach. What’s worse is that his craziness spills (sometimes literally) onto my stuff. Which if someone touching my stuff wasn’t enough, food stains aren’t really my gig.

So for months I have been trying to find a new desk configuration that would work for both of us. Something where we could each have our space and storage and have a cohesive look to the office. That in itself is a challenge. Finding something that meets that criteria AND that we both agree on was damn near impossible.

Every few days I would find myself digging around online looking for ideas. We couldn’t agree on anything. Finally one day I sent off an email with links to a few things I found that I liked (or could tolerate if he liked) and we got a hit. A great, rustic industrial desk from Target. The price wasn’t too bad to buy two of them – plus there was an online sale. Sold!

I love the illusion that there’s just one desk.

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We were also able to reuse my current desk’s sides and reconfigure them into a console table. It made for a cheap solution to my need for drawers. I like storage and organization, but it all has to be out of sight. I am very visual so whatever I am working on, or need to work on, goes on the desk. But if too much is out, the clutter makes me itchy. It’s a delicate balance.

Now I have to get some clever storage bins for the shelves. I need something that looks nice but also is functional that can hold file folders…plus some cute desktop accessories…I see a trip to The Container Store in my future.

Mac approves too.

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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!

Organized Living: The Play Room

I was so excited when we moved to the new house and decided to keep our kiddos in the same room and use the second room as a play room. I liked that they would have a bedroom that was for sleeping, reading and resting – and a play room that could be a total disaster that I could shut the door on.

But alas, I can’t just shut the door. My hatred for all things cluttered, disorganized and messy, drives me to rally the kids into cleaning up the room daily. I can’t stand the clutter, the craziness! I think everyone in our house is all too familiar with my screeching demand for help to clean up.

I do have a rule that if I have to help clean up, I throw things away. The panic that arises when one of the kids sees me put something in my pocket as it’s destined for the trash, usually spurs them into working faster…but not better. So I added some details to the play room that will hopefully help them be able to keep their toys organized and make clean up easier.

I used these hanging storage racks from Target. They make cubes that fit in the drawers too that looked really nice, but I went with transparent bins with lids instead. I could only picture every bin being pulled out to discover what was inside…They work great because lots of different things fit in the spaces.

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Next I took a picture of what was in each bin. I printed them in 3×5 size and wrote the name of the items inside for Baylor. She is amazing at memorizing words when she sees the definition in pictures.

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I also used the labels inside of the fabric bins in the playroom.

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I think there are two ways you can organize the playroom – or any other kid space in your house: with or without your kids. Today’s project was done without them home. It allowed me to clean out some things and save my sanity by being able to quickly sort toys and have them actually stay where I put them. I take a trash bag and a “give away” bag in with me and as I clean, I sort. If you are worried about them noticing that something is missing, hide the bag in the closet for a few days. Or if you’re like me, you blame their disappearance on moving.

If you are feeling brave and want to clean up clean out with your kids, talk about what the goal of the process is before you start. When Baylor was little, we talked a lot about how not all kids have toys like she does. We talked about how it was important to care for those less fortunate and one of the ways we can do that is by donating some of our toys. We never ask them to give away anything they really love, but we do ask them to consider whether or not they think that toy could make a child who has no toys, happy. I’m always surprised by both kid’s willingness to part with dolls, toys and games in the name of helping someone else. I always let them deliver the bag to the donation site too to complete the process.

Good luck and happy organizing!