Friday, February 28, 2014

12


Our girl is 12 today.  12.  She continues to amaze me in the way that she is maturing and growing and stretching herself.  It won't be long before she is smarter than me, taller than me and more aware of who she is than I ever was at her age.  Here's my annual list of 10 things we are loving about our Amazing Grace...

1.  Her current idol right now is John Muir.  Also, she loves and respects people who are much older than she is- her Grandparents, her teacher, even fictional characters (see #6).  I love that she has such great role models in them and is aware of their value in her life.

2.  She listens to an eclectic mix of music including 80's rock,  jazz, and has recently asked to download some classical as well.

3.  She loves going on "adventures."  It would not surprise me if she ends up traveling around the country/world in a truck with a teardrop trailer.

4.  She says stuff like, "I've observed that people like you more if you smile a lot and are open."  Also, she appreciates the beauty in the everyday.  She'll stop to notice a sunset or a pretty strip of light coming through a window.

5.  For as much of a "tomboy" as she can be, her sport of choice is ballet.  She quite good at it.

6.  Her favorite characters in Harry Potter are Professor McGonagall, Fred and George.

7.  She loves to garden and takes it as a good sign that gardening class starts back up on her birthday.

8.  Ever since she was teeny tiny, starting with Will, many of her best friends have been boys.  It's not unusual for her to be the only girl at a boys birthday celebration!   This year she's begun to see the value in having a few really good girlfriends.  However, she has no patience for girl drama.

9.  She still has a hard time going to sleep earlier in the evening and she loves to sleep in.  The teenage years are clearly staring us down.

10.  She's very sentimental.  A couple of weeks ago, I found her with tears in her eyes as she went through her "special" box where she keeps old letters, cards and mementoes.  She said, "So many people love me."  How true that is and how wonderful that she gets to carry that with her always.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Our Airstream, Painted



I've started to feel the itch to travel more.  I'm sure it's from being indoors so much due to our snowy and cold winter but I can't wait to de-winterize the Airstream and go on an adventure!  Dreaming of the Airstream reminded me to share my Christmas gift to Bryce- a painting of the Airstream!


I purchased this painting as part of Paul Ferney's The Commission Project.    I sent in a picture, taken at one of our favorite campgrounds during our trip to Acadia National Park, and he painted it from there.   I debated whether or not I should use a picture that highlighted the whole Airstream, but in the end I really loved how this picture captures some of our favorite things- the Airstream, my bike, lots of trees and our string lights.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Pinewood Derby

 


This weekend was the annual Pinewood Derby for the cub scouts.  Harris and Bryce have been working on cars for weeks, it's great time that they get to spend together.  Last year, Harris placed in the finals and was hoping to do the same again, but it was not to be.  Unfortunately, his car was on the slow side and, to add insult to injury, Bryce's car won in the non-scout division!  Harris said he was glad that at least one family member brought home a trophy!




Grace made a car to enter into the Beauty Contest and it turned out really cute.  Her love of Coco-Cola runs deep!








Friday, February 21, 2014

This Week


It's been an interesting week.  I've felt a little down about the farmhouse falling through and I'm starting to feel ready for some hints of spring.  This weekend I'm looking forward to a date with my husband and Pinewood Derby time for the children.  I hope you all have a great weekend!

*My friend, Barbara, gave Grace a bulb to force and she has loved watching it grow and flower!  It has made her happy this week.  It's astounding what a difference having something green and beautiful can make in your emotional health.

*I love this video about Scott Hamilton's faith journey.  I think it's worth the 10 minutes it takes to watch.

*After this post, I realized that many of us are hungry for more support and conversation about raising older children.  I think this article has nailed it as to why we don't read/hear/talk about it more.

*I love it when Olympians are excited to get a silver instead of disappointed they didn't get a gold.  I also love how passionate Noelle Pikus-Pace is about her family (when the reporter tears up it's hard not to join her!).

*I've been pinning a lot of gardens lately.  Years ago, I tore this bow walkway out of a magazine and to this day I still want to recreate it.

Please share anything that has lifted you up this week... maybe more than just me could use it!




Thursday, February 20, 2014

Stairwell Portraits




Remember our family portraits we had done in the fall?  I finally got around to ordering some prints and having one framed for our family portrait wall.  On our stairwell wall we've got all our family portraits that we've had made since the children were born.  It's fun to see how much we've changed in the past 12 years!


Due to the original framing I used being discontinued, I have two different style of frames for the pictures but they are very close in finish and look so I think they still look cohesive.  Also, I love the "museum quality" non glare glass.  I would love to have all the glass replaced on the early years pictures with this glass, especially considering they are next to a window.  I can't believe what a difference the glass makes!


We also have a larger portrait of the children hanging in the stairwell.  Oh, those cheeks!



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A House



Today I'm going to tell a story that doesn't end at all the way that I thought it would.  Nor was I even sure that I wanted to share this story, but in the end I want it written down so that one day near or far when I'm perusing our stories I can say, "Oh, thank goodness that didn't work out because of x, y or z." At least I hope that's what I say...

Over a year ago, January of 2013, my friend Barbara was over and mentioned that she and her husband had looked at a house that she thought Bryce and I should look at it. We were not at all in the market to move but had recently begun talking about how much Bryce would like more land and how nice it would be to have a barn to park the Airstream in. We LOVE our current home and aren't unhappy with it at all; but there are dreams that we've always had - an acreage, outbuildings, a keeping room, a barn, some form of water on the property, mature trees, more room for in-laws or guests, etc. At first glance this property that Barbara told me about fit every one of our "wishes." So we went and looked at it and I sent the above text to my friend Gretchen right away.

The property was 15 acres, had a pond, a barn and corncrib, a forested area and the location was PERFECT for us. However, even though it had everything we wanted, much of it was just a bit off. For instance, the wooded area was all pines, the barn was hidden from view by an outbuilding, the ceilings were all very low with minimal chance of raising them. The house was a total mess and needed renovation in almost every single room...which is actually right up our ally! My dream is to find an old house with great bones that needs renovations but we weren't entirely sure that this farmhouse had great bones!  

So we decided not to pursue the house.  But I couldn't stop thinking about it.  Over the course of the year, we took our parents to see it, we took a contractor to see it and we talked about it A LOT (my thanks to Gretchen who literally listened to me for hours about this house).  I started thinking about the gardens I would plant, the chickens we would raise and the house we would renovate.  Finally, when the price dropped again, we made an offer and they accepted!  I couldn't believe it but it was really exciting and also a bit terrifying and overwhelming (this place needs so much work and love.).

And then, with 2 weeks until closing, our extensive inspections led us to find two structural problems in the foundation and asbestos throughout the house.  The sellers were unwilling to give on these issues at all (have I mentioned that this property has been for sale for 5 years?) and we were unwilling to take on the extra financial burden and uncertainty and the deal fell through. Just like that we were done with the property after a year of thinking, dreaming and considering.

Honestly, it was a win-win situation for us in that we absolutely do not have to move. We live in a great home in a great town with great neighbors. But I find myself disappointed and sad even though I know it was the right thing to do.  I also know without a doubt that it was a God thing and that we went down this path for a reason. I'm just impatient and want to know what the reason was. Also, if we are going to make that sort of lifestyle change I want to do it while the children still have lots of time with us; those 6 years Grace has left at home are starting to press in on me and I'm anxious and impatient. I'm not sure what we do now. Do we settle in and be thankful for all that we already have or do we look for something else? Or do we wait for a house/property to find us like this one did? I only wish I knew...


Monday, February 17, 2014

Valentine's Day

(we sprayed the snow with a Valentine's message to greet the children after school)

We had a very lovely, low key Valentine's Day this year.  Since the children had a delayed opening due to more snow, we had the time to have chocolate chip waffles with strawberries and whipped cream!  I used my trusty heart waffle maker that I've had since I was in high school (I must be getting old- I talk about how long I've had stuff a lot!). 



My Mom joined us for dinner where we had heart shaped pizza and salad.  Also, I made this yummy raspberry cheesecake with an Oreo crust.  It was surprisingly easy and I love how the hearts turned out on the top.


Before pizza, we snacked on heart shaped Camembert and tomato jam.  Yummy.


Even though we were just having pizza, I tried to set the table to be a little extra special.  


Grace made herself a party hat!


Also, it's been a sort of tradition of ours to make Valentines for classmates together.  Usually, we work together to come up with something fun but this year Harris had his heart set on giving out Fun Dip!  I didn't even have the motivation to try to come up with something fun and cute for that, so he just wrote on each one, gave them out and was happy as a clam.  I guess all good things must eventually come to an end?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Heart Thumbprint Cookies




The children always enjoy giving their Grandparents Valentines, but this year we got to it a little late which means that the Grandparents who live in Colorado will be receiving belated Valentines (sorry Al and Marilyn!).  We kept it simple and 100% kid doable by making Thumbprint Cookies.  We added our own twist by using thumbprints on each cookie to form a heart.


I think this is such a sweet Valentine since it doesn't have to be perfect and literally has the children's prints on it!


Thumbprint Heart Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks 
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
strawberry jam (we used maybe 1/2 a cup- if even that)

1.  Cream together the butter and sugar for several minutes, until they look light and fluffy.  Add the egg yolks and beat until combined.
2.  Mix together flour and salt in a separate bowl.  Gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet and beat until smooth.
3.  Form balls from the dough, place onto a parchment lined baking sheet, then use your thumb to make two indentations to form a heart.  These will be very irregular and imprecise but that's part of the charm!
4.  Put strawberry jam into indentations on your cookies.  We popped our jam into the microwave for about 10 seconds before we put it into the heart indentations to make it a little easier to work with. 
5.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes but don't let them brown.  Let cool completely.


This is a recipe from Grace's cookie book, The Cookiepedia by Stacy Adimando (we have not tried a cookie recipe from this book that we don't think is delicious, highly recommend the book).  I love how Grace is writing in her cookbooks too.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Favorite Things #40




Years and years and years ago, I acquired a Le Creuset heart shaped casserole oven.  I think my Mom gave it to me as a gift or perhaps we bought it together, most likely at an outlet store.  Not matter how I came to own it, I have used and loved it every single Valentine's Day that I can remember.  Also, it makes special appearances at our Christmas breakfast due to it's cherry red color!  I've been using it more and more on just plain regular occasions because it makes everything a bit happier and peppier!  I'm sure at the time that I knew nothing about Le Creuset cookware or it's enduring quality, but I sure am happy to own something that has and will continue to stand the test of time and bring a smile to our faces!

Monday, February 10, 2014

An Olympic Gathering


It's been well documented our love for the Olympics.  So when we had a school event to go to on Friday evening, during the opening ceremonies, we were a tad disappointed.  Instead of missing out we just recorded and watched Saturday evening.  Our friends joined us since it wouldn't be a Winter Olympics without them!

(how great is Ron's vintage sweater and Elliot's vintage hat?)

I went with a winter sports theme for the night!  I saw these adorable drink stirrers on Oh, Happy Day and just had to make them.  I went with plastic dowels, that Bryce cut in half, instead of wooden dowels, and I glued the little HO scale figures directly to the top.  They are high on the cute scale!  Everyone enjoyed picking out their sportsperson for the night.



The children drank Sprite with Olympic rings on the bottom (aka: lifesavers).


Gretchen brought an around the world cheese plate with cheese from different countries- complete with appropriate flags!


For dinner, we had Shepherd's Pie because that's all I could think of that had a "snowy" surface.  I think it turned out so cute, my favorite part being that the "snow" is groomed with a fork!   It's the details that make me happy!



We also had a salad with mini mozzarella snowballs.


For dessert, I made a downhill skiing cake that I spotted on You are My Fave.  I followed her instructions to the T and it turned out adorable.


We don't have laurel growing in the back yard but we do have ivy!  Grace made us ivy wreaths for the occasion!





Friday, February 7, 2014

A Gift

This is one of those posts that makes me a little nervous to hit the publish button; I'm worried about sounding judgmental or preachy.  In reality, I just want to share where we are in this part of our parenthood journey.  There are a million different perspectives and this is ours.


(picture has nothing to do with post but I always like to add a picture)

When we moved Grace to the Waldorf School, I anticipated that it would be a great move for her and it has been almost every step of the way.  What I didn't anticipate was the gift that it would give our family by taking the pressure off of us to purchase Grace a phone.  In our town (perhaps it's this way everywhere?) it is a common practice for incoming 6th graders to get a phone, and smartphones at that, and it's for sure trickling down to younger children too.  However, at Waldorf, none of Grace's classmates have a phone and whereas she has asked when she might be getting one, we don't have the pressure to buy her/supply her with one yet because she doesn't feel that she is missing out nor does she need one!

In fact, the only times a phone has come up are the times after she has spent time with peers that are not
at Waldorf with her.  She has complained that she has nothing to do during these times because "everyone is on their phone".  This concerns me.  How are our children going to learn to negotiate the social minefields of being a teenager/tween if they don't actually communicate with each other live and in person?  And are our children really prepared for social media (Instagram, Twitter, etc.) and all the potential baggage it can bring along?

Also, I have moments of worry that by not providing Grace a phone she is missing out on a lot. Certainly, she can't keep in touch as easily with old classmates.  She isn't able to know what everyone is up too (but I tend to believe that this is a good thing - who wants to know what and when we are missing out on something?).  She might not be invited on impromptu meet ups.  Will she be uncool socially because she doesn't have a phone?

I realize that if she were at our public schools I would have the choice to get her a phone or not but, honestly, it would be a very difficult decision to not get her one -  even if I thought it was the right thing to do.   Ultimately, I am so thankful that Waldorf has given us this backup and breathing room to wait just a little bit longer.

I'm not naive, I realize that there will come a time where she will need a phone but I'm so thankful for this extra time where she is given a chance to grow and mature a little before being given this little device that is slowly but surely changing the way our children engage with each other for better or for worse.

I would be really interested and curious to hear where others stand on this issue.  Please share your thoughts!



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Snow Ice-cream



The children have another snow day today and as I type Harris is setting up the monopoly board for an "epic" game in front of the fire.  Before I join him I wanted to first share our afternoon snack from yesterday because it was a revelation to all of us, and we couldn't figure out why we've never made snow ice cream before.  It was delicious!


I certainly didn't make up this recipe and, in fact, when I googled the recipe it came up dozens of times so I'm not even sure how to trace it back to an original source.  It's very simple and straight forward and takes five minutes or less to make!

Snow Ice-cream

1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups fresh, clean snow

I mixed the first three ingredients together and then poured it over the snow in a bowl.  Simply stir it altogether and enjoy.  We found that sprinkles really livened it up!




Monday, February 3, 2014

Growing


I know that this is incredibly cliche, but I've been thinking a lot about how time is flying by with the children at an ever faster and faster pace.  I look forward to what's on the horizon but I'm having a hard time letting the past go.  I remember the hours, days, months that we spent on the floor at friends homes, on the floor in our attic, at the parks swinging/running/sliding, crafting and in general just following what the day unfolded for us.  And those times are definitely in the past.  When Bryce and I made our Empty Nest list for the children it felt as if we had all the time in the world to do those things and now when I calculate that we actually only have Grace at home for 6 more years it makes my stomach swoop.  That's less than half what we've had or for and that's flown by!  I don't want to live in the past and am sure that every day we are creating more treasured moments but still could someone please slow time down?  Please?

Grace and Harris are growing in so many ways, physically and emotionally, and I don't feel ready for it.  Once again, I feel totally unprepared and acutely aware that I have no idea what I'm doing most of the time.  Knowing when to step in or step out, fight a battle or let it go, stretch those wings or reel them in can be such a  gray area sometimes!

Also, I find myself at a place where I'm ready to do something more creative now that the children are in school for much of the day (that creative outlet was filled while the children were at home doing all the things mentioned above) and that perhaps it's time for me to grow a little as well but I'm not sure what that looks like either. I have the complete luxury of being able to follow my "dream*" if only I knew what that was.  My first priority, obviously, is my family and for us that looks very much like it's looked for the past 11 years but I feel that I could fit in a little something extra.  

*Truth be told?  I have a lot of dreams- I dream of making a magazine about the middle years with children, learning to garden for real, having chickens, traveling across the country, designing a clothes line of "adventure clothes" for children (I in no way know how to design clothes or sew!), working in a library..... the list goes on..... and on...

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Go Broncos


My in-laws live in Colorado so we are really rooting for the Broncos to win the Super Bowl.  Grace has particularly enjoyed watching them play this year.  We just sent Al and Marilyn this photo of us getting ready to cheer on the team in our Bronco colors (except for Harris' red!).

I love how we are all out of focus except for the dead plant that I haven't bothered to take out of the window box all winter long.  That's awesome.
 
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