Thursday, August 27, 2015

School Year Resolutions

I made a vow to myself that I would not let going back to work be the death of fun, even if that meant working a little harder during the week.  I call this one of my "School Year Resolutions".  I remember reading a piece by Robert Fulghum (awww, remember him?) when I was in college about how the school year is really like a second new year for many people.  That idea really resonated with me as I'd always felt the same.  So I try to make "School Year Resolutions" each year.  

Working full time sometimes means weekends are fun-filled with laundry, housecleaning, bill paying, and other indoor sports (Did anyone else love the Judy Blume book Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself?  Because I think that's where I got the phrase "And other indoor sports").  I promised myself this year that the weekend could be about other things too.

Well, I really lived up to my promise this weekend. In fact, I may have overlived up, if that's a thing.  Friday night Dan announced that he wanted to take the kids to the State Fair.  They had never been and neither had I.  He doesn't often make announcemnents like this, as he is much more "Go with the flow of whatever plans I have in store", so I try to be obliging when he does.  After grocery shopping and dinner, we didn't get on the road for the hour drive until about 6:30.  But we stayed until almost midnight and had a great time.

The next morning we slept in a bit.  I wanted to hit the Famer's Market.  I like everything about the Farmer's Market except that they open so early in the morning.  We didn't get there until 10:30, but that left us and hour and a half to shop, which was plenty of time.

We came home and everybody pitched in with the house cleaning.  Not fun, but necessary.  I got the laundry started and mostly finished.  The girl is helping out a lot with the laundry these days and it is wonderful!  I can only imagine this was how my mother felt when I started doing the dishes every evening.  It was good we got those things done because the next day....

Our kids had a kick-off event for the new STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts, and math) program at their school.  They were supposed to design a body for the chassis of a muscle cart.  Of course, parent volunteers were needed...

I told my husband this was right up his alley.  He is the race nut of the family.  Of course, it was very humid and rainy when we began building the cars, but by the time they were ready to race, it had cleared off and was beautiful...

...which was a good thing because later that afternoon we went to see my brother play at a nearby winery.  The weather was like fall that afternoon instead of a miserable August day.

We got home at about 9:00 which was plenty of time to get the kids situated and in bed on time.  But I did end up staying up later than I wanted to because of packing lunches and doing a few stray dishes. Unfortunately, one of my other resolutions for the new school year was to get to bed earlier.  Why do my resolutions always have to conflict with each other?  

Overall, I'm glad we had a full weekend because it's been nice to think back on it during this work week.  But maybe next weekend doesn't have to be quite as full as this one was.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What's Up, Wednesday?

I decided to give myself the task of posting every Wednesday in order to get myself on a schedule with the blog.  I've stuck with it and kind of like having a deadline each week.  This makes me think that I need to give myself another regular assignment each week.  Hmmm...

Anyway, here's what's up this Wednesday.

A first time trip to the State Fair -

 -out 'til midnight on a Friday night with our kids.  This was a new experience.  We had a blast.

   This is my favorite fair food...the elusive elephant ear!

Farmer's Market on Saturday and these flowers -  be still my heart.

The first STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts, and math) event at our kids' school - building muscle carts and racing them.  

An afternoon with friends at a local winery that felt like fall - Fall, please come early this year.

And starting a new book


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What's Up, Wednesday?

Getting this post in just under the wire this week...

What's up?  In a word: school.

I've seen all kinds of posts on social media this week about the excitement of school starting.  For me (a teacher of 21 years) I always think "excitement" is the wrong word.  To me, "anxiety" is a more accurate term.  I'm fine once we get going and the routine is in sight, but the build-up to the first day is always rough on me.  It's definitely an energy, but it's not one I thrive on.  It's one I try to survive.  That being said, I'm glad it's over and that "normal" is settling into place.  Just last night I sat down with my district calendar, my kids' school's calendar, and our family calendar to try to make it all come together.  Yikes.

Monday was the first day of school for me and my class.  Then on Tuesday, my kids started school.  It was a double whammy for me.  I'm happy to report all went well.

Every year, I take a picture of their new school shoes.  I'm not sure why I started this, but it's a tradition now.  So it's pretty much like one of those crazy outdated laws that are still on the books in some towns.  But it must be followed.

Over the weekend, I went into freezer storage meal mode, anticipating many busy nights once school is in full swing.  Instead of doing a big pan of lasagna, I divided the batch into three separate pans.  We ate one, one went to a neighbor who had neck surgery, and the other went in the bank for a crazy night when we're trying to juggle homework, dance class, and school meetings.  I also made a huge batch of the Pioneer Woman's spaghetti sauce with meat.  I ended up with five dinners in the freezer with that one.

Pictures of my freezer stocked like this make me so happy...

And last, but not least I finished this book last night.  

I was on a deadline since it was a short term loan from the library, (Note the angry red sticker telling me "Hurry up, loser!  Other people want to read this!") but I'm so glad I read it.   I loved the theme of discovering flaws in those you love and how that affects you as an adult.  Read it.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What's Up, Wednesday?

What's up this Wednesday?  Well, funny you should ask...

There's this:

One last week enjoying the view from my deck with my dogs all morning.  Back to work on Thursday...

Of course, this book shows up from the library today.

Now what am I supposed to do about this?  My name had all summer to come up on the waiting list, but my number comes up one day before I'm supposed to return to work.  Looks like some sleep will have to be sacrificed.

In other news, my kids have graduated from Monopoly Jr. to the real Monopoly.  We tried to explain to them that it takes at least 29 hours to have a winner in the real Monopoly, but they would not be deterred.  So even though the house was a mess, the laundry was piling up, and the lawn had not been mowed in over a week, we sat around in our pajamas Saturday afternoon and played for two hours.  At the end of these two hours we added up everybody's total.  The girl was the big winner.

You know what I've rediscovered?  Listening to a whole album.  iTunes has changed the way I've listened to music over the past 10 years, but after buying whole albums of a couple of new artists, I'm remembering how great it is to listen to a whole album from beginning to end.  I'm remembering how it's a completely different experience.  So Tuesday night, I went ahead and completed a few albums that I had cherry picked a few songs from.  At one time I owned these actual albums and knew every word of every song.  But in the event of the digital music explosion, I didn't buy the whole album for some reason.  Do you ever have that sensation when you're listening to, say, a "Hurts So Good" on your iPod and still expect "Jack and Diane" to come on right after?  But it doesn't.  Well, it will now for me.

What else?  Some choice finds at a Farmer's Market.  These flowers.  Happiness.

And you know what else is cool?  Reading two books at once. Writer Gretchen Rubin mentioned on her blog this week that her husband inspired her to start doing this.  I've never been a fan of this, but I got this book from my library request list and think it is the perfect book to read a little bit at a time while reading a fiction choice as well.  It's the letters of Flannery O'Connor.  What a pistol O'Connor was.  Really enjoying it and I have like, 4 renewals on it.  I think the last time someone checked it out was in the 90's, so I'm think I'm good for a bit.  Or at least for a few more Wednesdays.

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy !


Literature and Libations

Books and Beer?  Wine and Words?  I had what was probably one of my favorite get togethers ever this summer.  And it was also extremely easy to do.  It was a book exchange/wine and beer tasting party I dubbed "Literature and Libations".

You can blame Game of Thrones for the fancy name.  I think the term "libations" has been in my head since the show premiered and I read the books. I even have a Pinterest board entitled "Libations" that you can follow HERE if you would like. When I was trying to think of a catchy title for this party, I was looking for some alliteration.

Several years ago, the girl and I threw a Book Exchange/Swimming Party for her friends when they were in third grade.  We did lots of cutesy things that you can read all about that HERE.  For the adult version, I didn't go to as much trouble although I do have to say that the we had lots of fun planning the kid version.

I sent out a link to a free evite to some Facebook friends and asked them to bring a book they didn't mind trading and a favorite wine or beer on the designated evening.  

I had about six books I didn't mind getting rid of, so I put those in a basket.  These were the "Trade" portion of the evening.

    I found this horse head at a flea market at the beginning of the summer.  It is now my favorite.

We already had a variety of leftover craft beers from places we have visited over the last couple of years and a few bottles of wine we bought when visiting different vineyards.  Those all came out as well as three or four new varieties of beer I picked up at Friar Tuck.  This was the "Try" portion of the evening.

I also used some of my Amazon gift card credit to buy these little beer sample glasses because OH MY GOSH - THE CUTENESS!!! They were only $10.  

The food was really easy as well.  I put out different kinds of grapes, dried fruit, cheese, and crackers.  All of this came from Aldi.  

I ended up with an abundance of varieties of drinks and books.  My one regret is that I didn't take any "during" pictures.

    Just a sample of what everyone brought...

   And more of what my guests brought...

Everyone went home with a new read and lived happily every after. 

Well, that may be an overstatement.  I can't speak to the rest of their lives.  But they went home with a new book anyway.


Monday, August 10, 2015

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Top Ten List

Two years ago when I started this blog, I wrote THIS POST with the ever popularly assigned "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" theme at the end of my summer.   As my break comes to a close, I decided to revisit this idea.  So here it is - my Top Ten List of the Summer of 2015.

10.  The Girl's Ballet Recital

Recital #8 was memorable for her and for us.  It's so cool to see how she's advanced through the years.  We had a special "Ballet Breakfast" the morning after her two performances were over.

9. Our Anniversary Trip to Southern Illinois and a SOLO TRIP Later On

First it was a giant free concert on the street to see the Woodbox Gang perform, a night at The Davie School Inn, and a trip to a couple of vineyards in 24 hours.  What a way to kick our summer off right.  Delightful.  And 13 years of being married to this delightful man.  Then I made a trip of my own in July that I thoroughly enjoyed as well.

8. Movies

Inside Out, Minions, Jurassic World, Ant Man, and Shaun the Sheep just to name a few.  Movie going is always more frequent in the summer. My favorite by far?  Inside Out!

7. Blue (Berries and Hair)

We did our annual blueberry picking and the girl wanted the ends of her hair died blue.  She earned the money to have it done herself and was so happy with the outcome.  It only lasted a couple of weeks, but it reminded me how she's getting more and more independent and opinionated.

6. Literature and Libations

I hosted a book exchange/ spirit tasting.  Everyone had to bring a book to trade and a drink to share.  I snagged one of my favorite reads so far this year at this exchange, The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling).  This was really my kind of party, and I'm hoping to do it again in the near future.

5. A Trip to the Ocean (and An Encounter with a Jellyfish)

Wrote a POST about this trip .  Sure was nice for these Midwesterners to see the ocean again.

4. A Bathroom Renovation

Again, see longer post HERE and again HERE . Loved the way our bathroom turned out and still can't believe it each time I walk in there.

3. Mornings Reading On the Deck with My Dogs 

I read a lot of good ones this summer and spent a lot of good moments with my two canine companions.  They prefer other pastimes over reading, but to each his own.

2. The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite movies.  It's usually the one I name if pressed to give a favorite. I took my kids to see a production of it this summer.  I'm so glad I did.  Hearing the boy laugh at the lion's antics is something I'll always remember.  

1. Date Night

This was something Dan and I rarely did until this summer. We tried to go out once a week on Thursday nights.  We skipped a couple of weeks because of vacations and such, but for the most party we stuck to our schedule.  For our anniversary, I gave him a ten pass gift card to our local movie theater.  Although we didn't go to a movie every time we went out this summer, it was more the idea of the promise that we were going to make date night a priority.  Some nights we tried a new restaurant out of town and others we hit up Krispy Kreme and a book store. 

So there's my summer.  I have no complaints.