Monday, October 6, 2014

Art for Kids

I like to get my kids to think creatively.  Thy don't always agree with me, but they will typically entertain my ideas without too much complaint.

A year or so ago, I pinned an idea where you cut an object or part of a picture out of a magazine, glue that little cutout to a piece of paper  and have your kids, yourself or whomever finish the drawing (here is a link to the blog I found it on).

Then, last spring on the blog Under the Sycamore, Ashley posted about how she had her kids take different types of pictures ~ one outside, one up close, and one with a background.  Then, she cut the pictures in half and had her kids finish the other side (link to her project here).

I loved that idea!  I had my kids gather up 3 of their favorite "things".
Sassy brought me a Hershey's chocolate bar, her copy of the book Divergent, and a softball.
Action brought me a lego, a football and a glass Coke bottle.
Smiley gathered up her Elsa doll, favorite stuffed puppy (she's had him since she was a baby) and her stuffed giraffe, named Pinkie Pie ~ but not to be confused with the little pony named Pinkie Pie.....

I took pictures of each of their objects, enlarged them to the sizes I wanted and printed them, using our printer at home.

Here are some of the finished products:


Smiley's frozen scene using a cutout of her Elsa doll:


Action's Coke bottle:


Sassy's Divergent book:


Smiley's puppy:


Action's football


Sassy's softball:


Smiley's Giraffe:

These little masterpieces kept the kids busy using their minds and fostered their creativity and I think they turned out really cute!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Getting Lost in a Familiar Place

My husband and I moved into our neighborhood 9 years ago this week.  We take our dog on a long walk at least once 
and up to three times a day.  But this morning, as I was walking our dog by myself, I looked up and felt lost.

I mean, I knew I was in my neighborhood and once I looked around a little bit, I realized exactly where I was.  
I had been in my own mind, thinking, while my body went through the motions.  Getting me from point A to point B.   But even though I was in a familiar spot,  I was left thinking, how did I get here?


I think life is like that.

Look at the life you are living right now.  For me personally, I love my life, but this is not where I thought I would be.  
When I was growing up, I never thought I'd be 38 years old, with a great husband, 3 kids, a dog and be a stay at home mom.


The age, yes. Husband and kids, for sure.  Dog, ok.  Staying home?  Nope.  Growing up, I wanted to be a physical therapist or maybe a forensic psychologist.  A stay at home mom, well, it never really crossed my mind.  I graduated from college with a BS in psychology.  Got married.  Moved to a new city, in a new state.  There hubby and I began our life together.  He began working in sales, I began working with children with autism.  We had our first daughter, Sassy.  When she was 3, Action was born.  It was at this time we decided that it would be best for our family if I left my position and began staying home with the kids.  It was a great decision.  I loved spending my days with them.  Walks around the lake, and to the nearby falls, simple trips to the library or taking our dog to the dog park by the river.  We moved to a nearby suburb and Smiley was born.  I continued to stay home.

Now, however, all three kids are in school, all day long.


I am no longer driving to preschool a few mornings a week, planning playdates, playing games, coloring, creating with play-doh, playing barbies or house.

I feel like I've lost a piece of my identity.

I don't hear my name on a minute to minute basis...."Mom", "Hey Mom", "Mom can I?" "Mom will you?", "Mom, can we"

The house is quiet Hubby works from home, unless he's traveling.

Before school started, at least a couple times a week different people would ask:  
"What are you going to do with all of your time?"
"Are you going back to work?"

The answer is, I don't know.  
I don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

I have a few ideas.  I've requested my college transcripts.  I've looked for and am looking for jobs. 
Maybe I'll go back to school, maybe not....


I know I'm not the only person who has gone through this, who has felt this way.  This morning my feeling of being lost came in the simple form of a walk.  I've had this happen in the car as well.  I can be paying attention, but going through the motions and the next thing you know I'm at my destination or perhaps, I've missed my turn.  This is what I am afraid of.  Have I missed an opportunity I should have taken?  Or, am I where I am suppose to be, doing what I'm suppose to be doing?


For now I guess, I'll just take it one day at time, volunteering at school, getting the kids to and from their after school activities, cheering them on in their sports and in all that they do, taking care of my husband and our home while keeping all of my options open, looking for the right path to follow.  





Monday, September 22, 2014

Tomato Basil Soup

Today is my big brother's birthday (happy 40th) and with that comes the official start of fall.  I can feel it in the air; the shorter days, crisp breeze, football games and volleyball.  The leaves in our neighborhood are just beginning to change from their vibrant greens to lovely shades of red, orange, yellow and brown.  Fall is one of my favorite seasons! But, so are spring and summer.  Today I have begun the official decor change.  I am switching out shells for pinecones and drift wood for leaves and twigs.  The blues, greens and corals I have throughout my home will be toned down with rusts, deep greens and browns.

However, the change of seasons at my house are not only in the decor, but in the food I prepare as well.  I find myself in the kitchen creating soups, casseroles and warmer, heartier meals.  And this weekend, soup found its way to our table.  Even better, 4 of the 5 of us enjoyed it.  I call that success.

I made Tomato Basil Soup (recipe below).

I first saut├ęd some onion, celery, carrot and garlic in a little bit of butter until soft.


Added in some different layers of tomato and chicken stock.

 Some basil and a bay leaf along with a little pepper to give the soup a punch of homestyle flavor.

I simmered it on the stove for about 5 hours,  I'm sure you could throw it all into a crockpot and let the flavors meld together in there as well.

Right before you are going to serve it, stir in a 1/2 a cup of cream cheese and a pint of half and half.  Once it is melted and combined, serve it up.  I love pairing this soup with cheesy, garlic bread.  I am a dipper and this is a perfect compliment to the soup.

And like I said before, all but one of us (that would be Smiley) liked the soup.  Action even decided to express his feelings in the soup itself:


Tomato Basil Soup

2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 of an onion, chopped
1/2 cup shredded carrot
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons butter

28 oz diced tomatoes
3 cups (24 oz) vegetable juice (like V-8)
6 oz tomato paste
28 oz crushed tomatoes
14.5 oz can chicken broth
Pepper, to taste
1 bay leaf
2-3 tablespoons of snipped basil (more or less to taste)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 pint 1/2 and 1/2
4 oz cream cheese

1.  Saute the veggies in 2 tablespoons of butter until softened.
2.  Add all ingredients except the 1/2 and 1/2 and cream cheese.
3.  Simmer for 3-6 hours.
4.  About 10 minutes before serving, stir in the 1/2 and 1/2 and cream cheese.
5.  Serve

Notes:
* I think crushed red peppers would be good in this soup if you like a little kick.  My kids are not always so keen on spice, so I did not add any.

* If you like your soup a bit thinner, add more chicken broth or vegetable juice

*  Have fresh tomatoes on hand?  Chop them up and toss them in!

Enjoy!

a Bowl full of Lemons

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

8th, 5th and Kindergarten

It was one week ago this evening that I was tucking my kiddos into bed,  listening to them tell me a few more of the things that had happened that day.  That day was the first day back to school for Sassy and Action and the very first day of elementary school for Smiley.

The morning started early.  My alarm went off at 4:45 ~ up early enough to make rolls (a yearly tradition)  before Sassy had to head off to school. Sassy's alarm sounded at 5:45.  Her bus came to pick her up at 6:50.  Action and Smiley rolled out of bed around 7:15.  Rolls were eaten, the perfect clothes put on and hair was fixed (for the 5 year old anyway!)  Their bus pulled up to get them at 8:20.  I admit, a tear or two did sneak out of my eyes.  After all, my baby is going to kindergarten.  But my feelings regarding this will be an entire post of its own......

And, of course, the morning did not go by without a handful of pictures taken.  And don't let their smiles fool you, Smiley was really the only one of the three who was excited to go to school!

My lovely 8th grader:




My not excited, yet smiley 5th grader:




And my super excited and a little bit nervous, cute, little kindergartner:





Summer Vacation

I think I would be rich if I could invent some sort of contraption that would slow time down in the summer.  How can three months go by so quickly?  Three whole months of sports, friends, sun, fun and relaxation.  I'm not sure, but they did.   And in those three months, I only managed to put together two blog posts.  Only two?  My kids started back to school last tuesday, Sept 2nd  (which is, and will be, a blog post of it's own) and I have finally sat myself down in front of the computer to catch up.

Although I didn't blog much, we indeed did have a fun summer, let me show you:

Warning: Here comes the photo overload




Action had a fun baseball season.  



A short break during a 13 mile bike ride with the family


Sassy's softball team played in a Nationals Tournament.  They placed 4th out of 72 teams.  
They played 10 games and Sassy pitched in every one of them.
Hanging out between games 
Sassy even got Smiley to pitch a little

video


A very relaxing day on the lake



When we were on a weekend camping trip with friends, this stray cat decided it wanted to be part of our group.


I celebrated my birthday with my family ~ and mmmm..... an ice-cream cake!


A fun morning doing a little painting at our local Color Me Mine


Some state fair fun which included seeing a not quite 1 day old baby pig, rides and treats to name a few things:










 And even when the summer softball season ends, the pitching never does.  Lets just say she is very happy her fall softball season has started up.  She didn't like having to take two whole weeks off :)


And it has been our tradition the last few years to make gak the week before school starts, 
this year was no different.


This is simply a snapshot!  There was so much more we did, more softball, more baseball, more lake time, more crafts, more playing, and great times with friends, bonfires, crafts, water fun and just time relaxing.  It was a great summer!