Thursday, September 30, 2010

Book Club...

  So this week the book club falls on a Thursday...that's why you need to keep never know which day it will hit!  Read through to the end of the post for a bit on how this book club works.

Last week I let you know that we would be talking about Cheap Cabernet by Cathie Beck.  I am not done with this one yet...
What's it about?  This is a friendship story.  It's told in first person through the eyes of Cathie.  In the first chapter you learn that Cathie got married and had kids when she was really young, her husband left and she raised them on her own.  At the point the story picks up, she's 39 with her children grown and on their own and she doesn't quite know what to do with herself.  Enter Denise...the friend...

Why did I pick it? Actually I was walking through Target and the cover caught my eye.  I knew I was going to need a new book soon, so I jotted down the title and author and ordered it on my Kindle.  I thought it was going to be a little lighter, more like a beach read.  It's actually building up to be more of a story than I expected.

What's stuck with me? I haven't finished reading the book, but I've kept reading because of the authors amazing use of foreshadowing.  There are cryptic little notes scattered through the story line so I feel like I haven't really reached the heart of the story yet.

What am I reading next?  This one...I'll finish it before next week's Book Club!

How the Book Club Works:  This is extremely informal...just a chance to share some great books and hear what others are reading.  You can participate in several the book along with me or read another great book.  When the Book Club is active you can comment on the post or write your own post and link up with the Linky.  Feel free to grab a button from the sidebar, whether you link up or not.   I would love to get some conversation going about the books...please join in!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Working Mommy Wednesday...

It's that time of the week again...time to link up with the working mommies...

This week's prompt...Having a career makes me a better mom because...
I am going for the positive spin on this statement.  Any day that I would say it makes me a worse mom, is more the mommy guilt talking than any real reasoning.  When I am rational and thoughtful, I do believe I am a better mom because of my career.
* Two of the schools I've worked for have invested heavily in Love & Logic training for their teachers.  In fact, several years ago I became a trainer of this program.  This strategy and philosophy around discipline and talking to kids is so powerful in the classroom and amazing at home.  I am thrilled that something I learned for my job so directly applied to my family.
* I have a much more global perspective on the world and the lives of children working in the neighborhood where my school is located.  We chose the neighborhood we live in for the schools and the easy access to friends, parks etc.  I appreciate living and working in different worlds because of this different, more diverse perspective.
* I love being able to share more opportunities and experiences with my kids because of our additional income.  I'm proud that I can send them to camp, encourage them to play sports and take them on vacations.
* My husbands job allows him to volunteer in the classroom.  There aren't many dads who enjoy that role and it's really good for my boys and their classmates.
* Because we don't use a daycare, the kids get to have a closer relationship with their grandparents.  My parents and my husbands parents help us out with childcare, and days when I have meetings or school events.  These are great opportunities for the boys to have an adventure with their grandparents and they share hobbies like geo-caching with the kids that we don't do at home.
* Some days I am tired and out of patience.  Some days the best parts of me are shared with the middle school kids I spend the day with and not with my own children.  Some days all I want is to go to their classrooms and on their field trips.  But most days...I understand that my boys are well cared for,  have good experiences and important relationships and are thriving in their lives.  I am so proud to be their mom.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fall Crafting...

I love fall...once we've gotten ourselves back-to-school an into the routine of school and sports, fall is a season to relax.  Rainy mornings...crisp sunny afternoons...I love them all.  I wanted to share with you my latest craft... a falling leaves welcome wreath.
I started with 12 small wooden leaf cutouts, a wooden pumpkin and several fall-ish papers.  I also had my mod podge on hand and some antiquing gel.
 To cover the leaves, I started by tracing around each leaf onto the back of the decorative paper.

Then, I put the paper onto a scrap of card board and traced inside the line with a stylus.  This almost perforated the paper so that I was able to...
...tear the leaf out of the paper.  You could certainly cut the leaf shape out of the paper, but I really liked the look of the torn paper.
Then it was time to mod podge all the papers onto the leaves.  A little messy!
I traced and tore paper to cover the pumpkin just like I did for the leaves and mod podged it onto the pumpkin.  Once the orange paper was on, the stem and leaf looked too white so I rubbed on a bit of green acrylic paint.

Then it was time for the antiquing gel.  I just rubbed some on with a foam brush and wiped it off with a piece of flannel.  You can keep adding antiquing until you get the look you want. 
I antiqued all the leaves too and took this picture to show you the difference a little antiquing can make.
Finally I laid out all the leaves around the pumpkin to get just the look I wanted...
...and hot glued them all together.  After a couple of letters and a light spray of acrylic covering...
I was pretty happy with the final look!  I think this will look great in my kitchen for the fall season.

Friday, September 24, 2010

It's Friday...Happy Dance...

This week has been busy, crazy, fun and exhausting...all at the same time!  I went to first grade open house, middle school open house, two football practices, one soccer practice, one soccer game, five days of work, three early morning workouts, and tonight my boys and I are going to our local high school football game!  Wow!

Today, I decided to link up with Mama M and ...

If you could speak with a different accent, what would it be?   The funny think is that I often lapse into a North Dakota accent...I've never lived in North Dakota.  Frequently people will ask me where I am from because of the way I say "boat" :) I've always lived in the Northwest but I can easily pass for North Dakota!

Can you fall asleep anywhere? Yup!  When I was a little girl I would get motion sick and my Gram told me that if I fell asleep I wouldn't feel sick.  Now, it's a little Pavlovian whenever I am in a car or a boat...I get sleepy.  Add that to the exhaustion that accompanies babies, the need to sleep when they do and I have pretty much perfected falling asleep quickly and anywhere.

Do you use public restrooms?  Do you sit on the toilet?  TMI people!  Yes, when the need arises, I use public restrooms.  And yes, with the exception of one, I sit on the toilet.

If you were stuck in an elevator for 24 hours, what celebrity would you most want to be stuck with? Honestly, right now, if I got stuck in an elevator I would want to be with my husband.  I haven't seen him for a continuous 24 hours in ages...that would be super fun!

Where did you and your significant other go on your first date? That's such a fun story...Kyle and I were working together all summer at a local amusement park.  We'd gotten to be really good friends and had spent tons of time together.  For our first date, we actually got tattoos together!  I got my first one...a little daisy on the inside of my right ankle.  Kyle got a caricature of himself and his signature...a fun way he used to sign his name.  We've since gotten a couple of others but the first date tattoos are my favorites!  After tattoos we went to dinner and a movie...that continues to be our favorite date to this day.  Dinner and a movie never gets old :)

I hope your weekend is full of family, full of fun and full of Fall!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Working Mommy Wednesday...

I love linking up with all the Working Moms for ...


This week's prompt - You Know You're A Working Mom When...

* Your car, counter, desk & mirror are covered with sticky notes

* You carry your phone with you all day, in case something happens with the kids

* You eat breakfast in the car...and often do your make-up there as well

* Your life is recorded on three different work, family at home, iphone with me

* Lunch is spent chatting with other working moms

* "Water Cooler" conversation is about your kids' soccer games

* The family dinner is Subway sandwiches in the truck on the way to football because you got off work late

* You're nodding in agreement to any of the above!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Big Photo Challenge...

This week's challenge was an interesting one...Doorways.  I spent a while thinking about the way I wanted to convey Doorways.  I thought it would be interesting to look through the doorway into my boys rooms.
This is a peek into Connar's room.

Here is a look into Aiden's room.

It's interesting to consider a person by looking at their space. 
What would someone see by peeking into your room?

An Award...

Wow!  It's exciting to share with you that I have received an award...
This came from my wonderful friend, and fantastic blogger, Tessa at Shopper Gal.  If you haven't seen her blog yet, take a peek.  She's so much fun and always has great tips and ideas.

There are a couple of rules that go along with my award...
* Accept the award and thank the person who gave it to you!  Yay!  Thanks can also find her button in my sidebar!
* Pay it forward to other bloggers who have "One Lovely Blog"!

Here are some blogs that are very deserving of this award:
Blooming on Bainbridge
Confessions of a Wannabe Supermom
Durable Goods
Everything Happens for a Reason
Sew Many Ways
The Activity Mom
Work, Wife, Mom...Life!

Happy Award Everyone!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Book Club...

PhotobucketThere are so many great books out there, that I decided not to limit sharing them to once a month.  The  Chase-ing the Dream Book Club, is going to become a weekly (usually) event.  Want to get involved? You don't have to read the same book, although we'll have more interesting conversations if the books have something in common.  No pressure though, this is about reading and sharing good books.  

What's it about?  The trilogy is set in post-apocolyptic North America.  In this world, reality television is used to keep the Districts subservient to the Capitol through the yearly Hunger Games.  Think of Survivor played to the kids.  The books are really one continuous story and chronicle the heroic journey Katniss EverdeenI won't say much more because I don't want to spoil this for anyone.  

Why did I choose it?  I had heard a lot of buzz around the books, especially with the recent release of Mockingjay - the third in the trilogy.  I also believe that young adult literature is an important genre and I like to read what kids are reading.  After I read the first book I was hooked!  I thought they were very well written...timely, engaging and a bit disturbing.  It would be interesting to talk with younger readers to hear about their perspective of this book.  Though I wouldn't worry about my oldest reading this, I would encourage parents to read these before or with their kids.  There is a lot to talk about in these books.

What stuck with me?  At the end of the day, I love a good hero story.  It's one of my favorite themes and this series didn't disappoint!  The line that resonated with me, days after I finished the books, "You love me.  Real or not real?"   This is a real heroine...grimy, unsure, sometimes selfish, awkward and honest.  Here is a girl we can admire and a powerful story of courage.

What am I reading next?  Next week, I'll be sharing my thoughts on Cheap Cabernet by Cathie Beck.  Read along with me if you're interested. 

You can participate in the Book Club by linking up your blog post, sharing what you've read.  You can also share by leaving a comment.  Happy Reading!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Working Mommy Wednesday...

It's Wednesday again...time to link up with all the working moms for...

 This week's prompt is..."Describe your working life BEFORE kids vs. your working life AFTER kids."

My first teaching job was in a tiny private school.  The director wanted the curriculum to be individualized as much as possible and we didn't have access to any textbooks.  The idea was to match the learning needs and interests of the kids.  Wow!  That was tough for a brand new teacher.  I worked ridiculously long hours and all through every weekend to create personalized tracks of learning for all my students.  My husband was still in school and working for the ambulance so his hours were crazy too.

After my first son was born, I moved to a different school.  This was a public school with the personality of a private one.  The demands of the job were similar though and I was working with a good friend who had made the move from the private school with me.  She didn't have kids yet, and didn't understand my reasons for needing to change my work hours.  The result was lots of tension between her and I, and a sense that I was failing in my job...and as a parent.  No matter how I tried there was no sense of balance. 

For many reasons, I left that school after only two years and moved to a large, public middle school.  One of my personal goals was to find a way to make teaching and parenting coexist in myself.  I was fortunate to find myself on a staff in the midst of a baby-boom (which is still going on 10 years later!)  I was working with other women who were learning to balance teaching and home.  They understood me and they were so helpful.  When my 2nd son was born, it wasn't easy to find balance but I knew that balance (at least sometimes) was possible.

I still search for balance every day.  I have a pretty strict personal rule about the time that I leave work.  I also leave work at work...I do not bring it home with me.  That has forced me to be very efficient at work and sometimes turn down social opportunities.  However it has also enabled me to be much more present at home...which at the end of the day is where I want to be the most!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Little Zen...

Life's nuts...crazy...busy...I love it but some days I run on empty. 

This afternoon, I rushed from work to get my haircut.  I had planned to pick my youngest up at his brother's soccer practice, run an errand and hurry home to make dinner.

My husband sent a text from the soccer field...Aiden wanted to stay and play. 

I  decided the errand could wait...

I had an hour to myself at a magazine, listened to good music, cooked dinner with a glass of wine....  Found a little zen in the midst!


My baby started middle school last week.  It's a big step.  Connar's also playing on a club soccer team, making new friends, joining the band.  These are all things he's supposed to be doing but it's a little hard to watch.  Last weekend he scored a goal within the first five minutes of a game.  Watching him high-five and chest bump his team mates, I saw a big kid...a really big kid...not my baby.  So, I've been thinking a lot about Connar lately and when I saw that Expressions was the theme of the photo challenge, Connar came to mind.

The Big Photo Challenge

This picture was taken about five years ago at Cannon Beach.  We were roasting marshmallows and telling jokes.  The funny thing about this picture is the fact that my six year old, Aiden, looks just like this right now!  Here's Connar's Expressions of fun and mine...the mixed pride, joy and sadness of watching kids grow up.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Happy Friday...

Wow...getting to the end of my second full week of school and the boys first.  It feels like we're settling back into a school routine and the extreme tiredness is lifting.  Just in time for Connar's soccer tournament this weekend!

I have a fantastic book series that I am finishing and a couple of crafts that will be completed this weekend and I can't wait to share them with you next week.  The Book Club will be revamped slightly, so stay tuned and get ready to share the great books you're reading.

I hope everyone enjoys a beautiful, playful and restful weekend!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Working Mommy Wednesday...

It's Wednesday...time to link up with Julie at Work, Wife, Mom...Life and the rest of the Working Mommy Network for...

The prompts this week:  * What is your thing?  That thing or routine you need to get through the day.  * What do you do on your commute to work?

I usually get up early, while the house is still sleeping, and workout.  While it's often hard to get out of bed, I love working out in the morning.  Most mornings I meet my good friend Tessa and other fun girls for a class - weight lifting or spinning.  I get in a good workout and a little social time!  I also try to get in at least one run and one swim each week so I stay in good shape for summer triathlons.

I started working out in the mornings because I discovered that I was a much more patient mom in the afternoons.  Since then, I have taken up triathlons and enjoy the time in the gym each day.

My morning commute is a long one.  The school I work at is about 30 minutes away.  Most mornings I eat breakfast and enjoy my first cup of coffee while I listen to a great morning radio show.  It's a nice drive.

Once a week, I bring the boys with me to part of the juggling act of working parents.  My Firefighting husband works 24 hour shifts at the fire station around the corner from my school.  Since he gets off work at 7:30, I bring the boys to school with me.  He picks them up, drives them back home and to school.  It's not easy on the kids to wake up an hour earlier once a week so I bribe them with McDonalds breakfast :)  On the mornings the boys are with me we listen to xm20 on the radio and rock out during the drive!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Braided Heabands and Family Dinners...

I found a super cute braided headband tutorial last week on...

Since I friends and family coming over for dinner, I thought it would be fun to organize a craft for all the moms and girls.  This braided headband seemed perfect. 

I had a basket full of fabric strips, scissors, needles and thread...everything we needed...ready to go when the party started.

Once the braiding was done, it was time to assemble the headband.  There aren't a lot of complicated steps, so it was fun to braid, sew and chat. 
The younger girls were having too much fun playing, and preferred to have their headbands made for them :) but Desi did all the work on hers.  This was a great "party craft" and everyone left with a fun headband.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Five Question Friday...

It's been a while since I've joined Mama M at My Little Life for...

1. What do you do when you have time to yourself?
Wow...that's a fun question...I love to work on a scrapbook, do a craft, or read a book.  

2. When you look out your kitchen window, what do you see?
We have a great fort that my husband built for the kids with swings, a climbing wall, a trapdoor's great.  I love the flowers in my garden and the two new trees we planted this spring.  Beyond my yard is a great running path and I often see runners / walkers.  Beyond that is a huge open field...very pretty.

3. Who/What would you want to be reincarnated as?
My cat!  Her primary job in life is to sleep in the sun.  When she's tired of that she comes around and we play with her and snuggle with her.  Her food is always provided for her.  I would love to sleep all day in the sun!

4. What is your biggest pet peeve about other people's kids?
Bullies.  I hate being at a party or a gathering where all the parents are socializing while the kids play and one of the kids is a bully.  I just wish parents would all take responsibility for their children in large groups like that.  Usually it ends up being one or two moms who help facilitate all the kids and it's really challenging to try to discipline someone else's kid.

5. Regular or Diet soda?
Diet Coke all the way...from a fountain not a can or a bottle...with lots of ice...and a straw!  Yum!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Big Photo Challenge...

The Big Photo Challenge
I love taking pictures in black and white...or converting them to black and white.  There is such lovely simplicity to the photo.  In my family room is a wall of black & white photos and I was working on new pictures of the boys when I saw this challenge.

 This photo was taken a couple of weeks ago at a soccer tournament.  Connar was playing right midfield and scored a tying goal!  I used my zoom lens on my Cannon Rebel.  The reason I bought the lens was to take soccer pictures.
 This picture of Aiden...the boy with the ball...was also taken with the zoom lens.  I took it last weekend at a football jamboree.  I love the shots I am able to get with the sports setting and the zoom lens.

Working Mommy Wednesday...

I am linking up with Julia at Work, Wife, Mom...Life! for another...


This week's prompt is, "The hardest part about being a mom is..."

I don't know what the hardest thing about being a mom is, but right now the hard part is going back to work.  I am a full time teacher...which I love...and right now I am in the middle of the transition from summer stay-at-home mom to school year working-mom.  The first two weeks are really hard.

Right now I am getting myself ready for work...making sure my work clothes are clean and ironed, making sure I have stuff for lunch at school, getting my space ready and meeting with the other teachers I work with to prepare for students.  I am also getting my kids ready for for clothes and supplies, and shifting summer bedtimes to school bedtimes.  This year my kids also have different sports commitments that are challenging to our family routines.  On top of all those transitions, I have to reorganize my home routines to find time for little things like laundry and housework while still taking care of myself and spending time with my family & husband.

Even knowing the transition is hard, doesn't really help with how tiring it is to shift.  I'm really exhausted.  When I am this tired I constantly feel like I am forgetting things, letting people down and neglecting what's important.  It's really hard.  

The good thing is that I love my job and I love the advantages my family has because I have a job.  My husband is truly amazing during this transition and does all he can to keep me balanced and functioning.  My extended family helps loads with the kids.  And...I know that once I have made the transition life will be good.  But right now it's really hard!