Saturday, October 30, 2010


Have a great weekend of haunting, play, trick-or-treating and fun!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Curling up with a Good Book...

The days are getting shorter...the weather getting colder...the rainy days more frequent...some people turn to comfort foods in the fall and winter.  I look around for a great book to submerge myself in.  There's nothing better than a cold day, a warm quilt and a great book.  Fall is my season for an epic novel. 

I am excited to start reading...
Fall of Giants by Ken Follet
This book is meant to be the first of three historical novels, called the Century Trilogy, and follows five families through World War 1.  Having read his earlier books, Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, I am looking forward to this massive book.

It's loaded up on my Kindle and ready for Saturday morning!

You can read along with me and share your thinking each week when I post the book club.  Or, please share any of the good books you're reading.  Fall is the season for curling up with a good book.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's Not Halloween Without...

...Pumpkin carving!
 Aiden was fairly certain that touching the pumpkin guts would make him "barf!" but he managed to scoop out some of the seeds...
 This was the first year that Aiden was interested and capable enough to carve his own pumpkin...start to finish...on his own...

 It was tough, but he was really proud of the finished product...a four-eyed, Frankenstein pumpkin...

Connar wouldn't let us see his project-in-progress, but wanted us to, "be amazed by the results!"
And I was amazed!

With so much busy, running around lately, it was wonderful to just relax and enjoy our family for an evening.  Just the refreshing moments and memories we all needed.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Working Mommy Wednesday...

It's Wednesday and I get to link up with Julia and all the other moms over at ...

This week's question is...What was your college major and are you working in that field?
The short answer is: education and yes!  There were a couple of detours along the way however.  I started out college as a nursing major.  The school I chose didn't have an on-campus nursing school , so I planned to attend for two years and then transfer.  I discovered that I really loved science...I was taking biology, anatomy, physiology, chemistry...such fun!  Then I spent some time realizing what the daily job of a nurse actually was...which was not for me...not even a little bit.

I found myself saying that I hoped to eventually teach nursing because I enjoyed the classes so much...about a semester after, I realized that I should probably look into teaching more closely.  So...I changed my major to education.  I planned to major in biology and minor in chemistry, and graduate with a 4-12 teaching certificate.

Life stuff happened...yuck!  And I ended up moving home and changing schools.  With my focus still on Biology and Chemistry, I stumbled upon a fantastic Health Education program...which I loved!  All that I loved about nursing and education rolled into one.  I took so many Health Ed classes that my senior year, I was able to choose between student teaching and an internship in Public Health Education.  I chose student teaching, but it wasn't an easy choice.  I graduated with a double major in Health and Biology. 

Shortly after I started teaching, the schools in my area changed curriculum and no longer supported a stand-alone Health class.  So I never actually taught what I thought I was going to.  BUT...I love being a middle school science teacher.  There is nothing like's a fantastic job.

P.S. I also have a Masters in Education and I am Nationally Board all of my education has contributed to the job I have...and love...{ usually :) }

My Boy's in Middle School...

Last week my husband and I attended our middle school son's fall conference.  I was pleased to discover that his middle school hosts "Student-Led Conferences".  Instead of sitting down with just the teacher, to talk about our kid, we sat down with everyone.  Connar shared his portfolio, samples of his work and his most recent academic goals.  He was articulate and thoughtful.

Middle School has been surprising for me.  Connar was not the most organized student in elementary.  He wasn't the most responsible student.  He wasn't the most driven or academic student.  Honestly, I was worried that middle school would eat him alive.  But it didn't!  It's been just the opposite!  Connar hasn't forgotten a single assignment, he hasn't lost anything, he hasn't melted down under the pressure.  My kiddo is thriving in middle school and I am so proud of him.

Here are a few things that I think contributed to Connar's success:
Expect him to be Organized...even when he isn't and even when it's not in his nature to be organized, I have always expected it.  Periodically through elementary school I have helped him sort his binder or folders...keeping what's important and getting rid of what's not.  Now he's doing that on his own and he even asked for plastic notebook dividers because they won't rip out of the binder.

Provide Spaces & Materials to Study...I know you hear that all the time but it's so important to build the habit of homework.  My kids don't like being up in their rooms alone (at least not yet) so they do their homework at the kitchen counter.  I have a small cupboard stocked with markers, crayons, scissors, rulers, calculators, graph paper, index cards and all the other materials they may need.

Love Him through the Sticky Spots...It can be so hard when you see your kiddo struggling.  I often just took a deep breath before diving in and supporting him.  There is often a very gray line between love & support and doing it for them, and I searched for that line.  I frequently sent him away during a homework meltdown to catch his breath (and I caught mine) and I often just poured a cup of coffee, grabbed my book and joined him at the table.

Connar has always been a good and smart kid, but I expected middle school to be a struggle. 
He's thriving and I am so proud!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Football Boy...

My youngest son, Aiden, played football this fall.  Football required a different commitment than I expected or than I have been asked to make for any other kids sport.  Wow!  I complained frequently through the season, there were more than a couple meltdowns, and the season wore me out.  But just when I thought we couldn't give any more to football... I looked at this face...and learned a few things about Aiden #6:

* He loves sports and he loves playing football.  When I took this picture, I joked that I would save it for the Senior Yearbook and it's possible that these two cuties will still be playing football together when they're high school seniors. 
* He's a good football player, he understands the game and he knows where he's supposed to be at any given time.  That's Aiden carrying the ball, just before he was tackled. 
* If you look closely, you'll see a #6 on the far boy on top of a great tackle.  This was a moment I cheered loudly for but let me tell you, it's a little disconcerting to hear the other teams fans go wild and see your boy at the bottom of the pile.
* If you had asked me a year ago, I would have said this sport is too much for 6 year olds.  I probably would have said, "There's no way I would let my kid play."  But,  I have learned a lot about my son watching him play football...he's stronger than I thought he was, he's smart and fast, he's a great team player, he's a good sport, he can take a  hit and return one, he's an athlete.

And, I'm a sporty mom.  I don't exactly what that means, or what will be asked of me, but I do know that I will be there...water bottles and snacks in tow...along for the ride.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Book Club...

 Last week was crazy and I missed the Book Club.  We're back this week, though and ready to share some great reads.

I finished  The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Why did I pick it up?  This one was recommended to me by a friend who hadn't yet finished it when she suggested the book.  She said it was interesting, and was told through the perspective of a young girl.  I was intrigued enough to give it a read.

Why did I keep reading? This book captivated me.  The premise is that the main character, Rose, can taste the prevailing emotions of the cook in the food she eats.  This discovery is made while eating her mother's lemon cake... and she experiences the sadness of her mother.  Through a bit of trial and error, she is able to label her experience and begins a life of avoiding freshly prepared foods.  She finds that she can also identify factories, farms, and cities of origin of the ingredients in her foods.  I was interested in this perspective for telling a story and the authors idea of talents Rose's brother and father may have had.  Through the story, I kept hoping for Rose to find her own happiness and I was curious what form it would take.  I was surprised, but not disappointed.

What stuck with me? Rose learns so much about the people around her through the food they make, and is frequently taken advantage of for this very skill.  I wondered about how she was defined by this experience and how her life may have been different without this perception.  I have also spent some time thinking about her brother and the curious experiments and choices he made.  {I won't say more, you'll have to read for yourself!}

What's coming up...I have been thinking about generating more conversation about the books.  While I love to share what I am reading, it would be great to generate some conversation through the comments too.  This week, please leave a suggestion for books to read.  Next week, I'll post the list and an order for reading.  That way we can read and chat together.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Family Traditions...

One of my favorite things about Fall is the family traditions that accompany the season.

Every year my family gets together to make lefse, a Scandinavian bread made out of potatoes.  It's delicious rolled up with butter and a bit of sugar.  Without lefse we couldn't possibly have Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter dinners.
 For the first time, this year, my nieces and my own boys helped.  (At least a little!)  Chloe actually rolled the whole first batch.  While Connar didn't last nearly as long, I was impressed that he gave it a shot.  My mom, loved teaching them both how to roll out the little balls of mashed potatoes.

 My job is usually to bake the lefse.  Once it's been rolled out, my mom drops it directly onto my glass-top stove.  We used to use cast iron skillets and electric frying pans.  The stove-top method is really easy...there is however a huge flour mess when we're finished.  My Gram usually rolls lefse, but with the kids helping she joined me at the stove to cook.

 My niece, Desi, helped pat excess flour off the finished pieces and move them over to the drying & cooling towels. Once the lefse is cool, we wrap it and freeze it for holiday meals.  There is also a large plate full of "duds"...pieces we deemed good only for that evening's dinner!

Once the lefse was cooked, and the cookies decorated, we had a big family dinner.  I love entertaining and the cozy feeling of a house full of family.  This is the perfect kick-off to all the holidays and family celebrations.

How do you celebrate fall and family?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Vacation Memories...

We love to take family vacations...and I love to take pictures!  Last year I started making posters for my boys with a collage of family photos.  After our summer vacation to Maui, I did the same.

Shutterfly makes collage posters really easy!  I already had all my vacation photos uploaded because I was working on a scrapbook.  With each of my boys, I had them choose the layout and background of the poster.  Then we looked through all of the vacation pictures so they could choose their favorites and decide where to place each picture on the poster.  It was so much fun to see which pictures they choose and hear the stories they remembered from the trip.

With an inexpensive frame, the posters look great in their rooms.
Connar chose a my favorite picture of the boys together as the center of his poster.
Aiden wanted as many pictures as possible and he loved the "old fashioned" corners.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fall Sports...Proud Mom...

I am such a proud mom.  
 My kids started sports practice in August and they've worked really hard at their sports.  
They rarely complain about being tired, or having late dinners, homework and short play times.  
They are great sports when they're winning and when they're losing.  
They have fun playing the game and they have fun cheering each other on.  
I have three more Saturdays full of soccer and football games...three more weeks of 5 practices a week. 
This is something I didn't know to look forward to when they were babies...they make me so proud of them it sometimes hurts.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Working Mommy Wednesday...

It's Wednesday, so you know what that means...time for...

This week's prompt:  Little Things I Love!  This is perfect for me, because right now I'm a little cranky and completely focused on the opposite of Little Things I Love! so it will help to shift my thinking...
* A fresh cup of coffee in the morning
* A really good book to relax into
* An unexpected compliment
* A spontaneous "I love you" from one of my boys
* A peek in the mirror and looking great
* The funny things my kids say
* Reading with my boys
* A mid-week date with my husband
* A glass of wine
* An "I love you" text from my husband
* A chance to chat and giggle with girlfriends
* My Potato Head Pumpkins (I'll share pictures next week)
* Cheering at my kids football & soccer games
* Cheering at my husbands soccer games

Yup!  I have to say, just making the list refreshed my perspective!  If you haven't yet, take a minute to think about Little Things I Love!  What's on your list?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Time to Organize...

I needed a spot for quick phone number reference, kids school schedules and other bits of information.  I already had a calendar hanging in my kitchen so I took advantage of that wall space...
I had a small bulletin board, painted the same color as my wall. On the top two-thirds I added a piece of scrapbook paper. 
I added tabs for "Family", "Friends" and "Business" and created phone lists for each category.  Each of these lists were mounted on solid colored paper and the added to the board. 
I included a current school schedule for the boys and a reminder of PE & Library days for me!
I also added a spot to hang birthday invitations and a couple of extra tacks for other things we need to remember.
With a couple of fun stickers and a Pirates of the Carribbean pin, we were all set!
How do you organize your family?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Book Club Time...

I hope everyone has had the chance to curl up with a good book in the last week.  I love the combination of the crisp weather and a cozy read.  I finished Cheap Cabernet by Cathie Beck and started something new.

Why did I pick it up?  Like I mentioned last week, I picked it up based on the title.  I love read wine and it seemed fun to me to connect it to a friendship.

Why did I keep reading? Last week I talked about the foreshadowing used by the author.  She continuously dropped in little cryptic statements and hints about the outcomes of the friendship.  I don't want to reveal any spoilers, but the ending certainly wasn't in the context I expected.  Ultimately, I kept reading just to finish the book.  I didn't really feel strongly one way or the other.

What stuck with me?  I wasn't compelled by the characters, I really wasn't pulled into their story.  At the end of the story, what stuck with me was that I didn't really enjoy the book.

What am I looking forward to?  I am reading The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
This book was recommended to me by a book-loving friend of mine and it's fantastic.  I've just started, so I'll give you the full assessment next week.

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. Each week, join in the conversation through the comments.   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!
What great books are you reading?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Working Mommy Wednesday...

Here we are...Wednesday again and time for...

The prompt this week is a Top Ten List.   I have two boys, 6 and 11, and in response to some of their obvious boy behavior, I have often teased them about the...

 "List of Reasons You'll Never Be Allowed to Join a Fraternity!"

  • Their desire to turn everything into a contest...particularly burping and farting.
  • Every game turns into tackle football...I do not understand the connection between checkers and tackle football!
  • When Aiden was in pre-school, he flipped through Connar's yearbook and pointed out pretty girls.  Choosing girls from a book is reason #3 he'll never be allowed to join a fraternity.
  • An interest in drinking milk super fast (connected to #1).  Drinking games?  Clearly a reason not to join a fraternity!
  • The basket full of footballs in the living room and the persistent game of catch!
  • Their reference to every friend as, "Dude", and their ability to use the word in nearly every sentence.
  • Aiden and Connar  both believe they'll be driving sports cars, preferably in high school.  "Mommy, let's talk about the car I'm going to drive."
  • Their crazy "Rock Band" skills
  • Their obvious interest in cheerleaders... and rapt attention during half-time shows.
  • A while ago at a football game, Aiden pointed out that if all the men in our group took their shirts off they could paint the letters SHOCK on their chests (in honor of the team we were watching)
Those crazy kids...probably with all the teasing they'll join fraternities just to spite me.  Ha Ha Ha
What running jokes do you have in your house?


Monday, October 4, 2010


The media is full of stories of bullies and bullying lately.  I know that when I send my children off into the world, it's my fervent wish that the world will treat them well.  Sadly, that's not always the case.

I have had mixed feelings about some of the public response regarding the responsibilities of schools.  There are bullying situations that need the intervention of adults and, I agree,  schools and teachers do indeed have a responsibility to keep children safe.  However, I strongly believe that the primary responsibility for our children's safety begins at home. 

I need to be the first person to teach my children how to treat others.  I need to recognize that my attitudes and behavior will be a stronger teacher than my words, and treat others the way I expect my children to treat others.  I need to talk to them every day about how their words and behavior affect other people.  By calling attention to times they treat people with kindness and respect, I can reinforce that kind of behavior.  I need to know who my children's friends are and know their parents.  My children need to be supervised.

I can also help my children handle teasing.  I often refer to Love & Logic strategies in parenting and they have several resources that deal with teasing and bullying at different ages.  That link will take you to a great L & L article about teasing.  I talk with my kids about things they can say and responses to bullying or teasing situations. We practice so that when they need the skill, they know what to do.  This also helps them stand up for other kids.  I know there are extreme situations that require adult help and I am not talking about those.  There are so many opportunities for my kids to stand up for themselves with a cool look or a quick comeback...and all of these will lessen the chances of a more extreme situation.

Yes, I want the world to handle my children with kid gloves.  I want them to be super stars where ever they go and I want everyone to recognize their brilliance and wonderfulness!  That's not the world we live in though, and there are so many things I can do at home to prepare my kids for the real world...and then the real world may appreciate them more. 


I love decorating for the seasons!  The other day, Aiden and I put out some of our Halloween decorations and I had to share...
I made this a couple of years ago embroidering wool pieces onto a wool background.  The metal spider candle holders are fun too!
Isn't the count down fun?  That was a great kit put out by the girls over at How Does She?  My kids are having a great time counting down to Halloween!  Aiden put together the owl and cat pumpkin with pieces I got several years ago through Current magazine.
My mom made this great table runner and I loved how it looked with my Ikea candle holders!
My aunt Jo made the pumpkins and ghosts years ago!  Actually when I was in college she sent a monthly care package with new seasonal pieces every month.  It was my starter piece for my own monthly decorations.
I don't go all out...but it's fun to have a little seasonal corner of the house.
How do you decorate for the season?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Things They Say...

My Aiden who is 6, has had me giggling uncontrollably with some of the things he says.  I just had to share a sampling...
  • I told him one morning that he had an appointment at the orthodontist that afternoon.  He asked, "Is Daddy going to break me out of school for that one?"
  • When I shared that I wasn't feeling well and would probably take a day off work, he asked, "Will they give you a bye for the day?"
  • While walking through the grocery store he wondered, "Why would anyone want to be shot with the flu?"  We had a great conversation about immunization following that one!
He cracks me up...What do you kids say that makes you laugh?

Friday, October 1, 2010


I've been reminded this week about some of the things that mean the most...
  • I don't like saying that I am busy...somehow it sends the wrong connotation.  My life is very full and I like that word better because I have chosen the fullness...all of the things I am involved in are things that I have chosen and things that I enjoy.
  • I had the best dinner with my kids last night.  It was an evening my husband was working and I needed to get home from work, pack both boys for sports practice, eat, drop the oldest at soccer and take the youngest to football.  We picked up Subway sandwiches and ate in the truck.  Ok, it's a little unconventional for a family dinner but I heard all about school & friends and we had a couple of real laughs.
  • I had several good work outs this week.  I love meeting my friend Tessa at the gym because we always get a good work out, but I also get a little social mom time too!  Granted that time is at 5:30 in the morning...but it's still my time.
  • I spent time reading with both of my boys this week.  Aiden's reading skills have really skyrocketed and it's fun to listen to him.  Connar is reading a book that I would personally like to read and he's at an age where he likes to talk about what he's reading.  
  • Thanks to my in-laws and some tricky coordinating, I was able to go on a date with my husband this week.  Spending just a couple of hours together with good food and time to talk always grounds me and makes me feel centered.
Life is full and Life is really, really good.  When I remember to take time to enjoy the moments...all the moments...I remember to center and balance and enjoy Life.
What are you doing to enjoy life?  Have a wonderful weekend!