Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Puzzle.

Our family beach trips have created a few traditions and routines...
 
 Almost every night the kids go to the BP for ice cream (or fat-buckets, if they are lucky enough to get the end of the gigantic containers). We ride on the beach on the way to the Raw Bar, and Carolina has a least a dozen of baked oysters all to herself. There is usually a football game on the beach, something grilled, sometimes a bonfire or fireworks. 

  Puzzles do not make this list.
 

For some reason, while I was cooking for our feast, Tradd said,
 
 "Hey, let's do a puzzle!"
and his younger siblings said,
"yeah! let's do one!"
 like it was the greatest idea EVER. 
(what do we think they would have said if I had suggested a puzzle?)
They quickly found one that hadn't been contaminated opened
and dumped it on the small coffee table.

 My heart was overjoyed!!! All my darling children, playing together so nicely, and without any cell phones!!
 
Then, my control-issues-concerning-puzzles kicked in.  "Why don't you wait until after we eat, so that you can move it to the big table?"
no response.
"Um, kids,??? you aren't going to have much room doing the puzzle there??!!"
no response.
Now I was getting nervous and the situation was getting serious.  Pieces were dropping on the floor.  The dog was sniffing some of them. The sweet potato soufflĂ© needed my attention but FOR THE LOVE OF GOD
 "How will you find all the borders and make the frame first??? Measure the TABLE it is certainly not big enough to fit the entire completed project and THEN WHAT WILL YOU DO????  OH MY GOSH YOU MUST STOP RIGHT NOW YOU AREN'T DOING IT RIGHT!!!!"
 
3 pairs of eyes are now looking at me strangely while 3 brains send telepathic messages back and forth to each other:
 "Mom's losing it again.  Are we gonna have to let her play with us?"
 
 "Mom, it's fine", said the wise college senior. 
 "We'll just work on finding all the borders right now, and then after dinner you can help us move it."
("And that's how it's done, kiddos", said his telepathic message to his younger brother and sister.) 
 I'm pretty sure they were thinking by the time I finished cooking Thanksgiving dinner, drinking, eating, and cleaning up the whole thing I would a) forget or b) forget.  
 
No such luck! After I masterminded the entire process of moving all 1,000 pieces and carefully explained the correct method of puzzle solving the fun began! Soon my kids realized that ignoring my methods was such an easy way to drive me crazy! And after several hours of the four of us working on a really difficult but not attractive puzzle I realized that the ways in which we worked really said a lot about our personalities.
 
Tradd and I (first-borns, rule followers) worked on getting the border completed and turning over all the pieces.  He also worked fast and gave names to all the problem areas. Carolina soon had our music going, but liked her own "private studio" (as she named it) and her own section to work on.  However, she knew what everyone else was looking for and was constantly sharing pieces she'd find to help us out. Middle child peace-keeper all the way.  And then there was Tucker.  Tucker had to be constantly on the move.  He had to check in with Dad and all the scores of the football games.  He would go upstairs for a while to watch another TV.  Then he would look at the pieces for 3.2 seconds, find one that fit somewhere, and declare it "MONUMENTAL", letting us all know that none of us would be able to get anything done without his brilliance.
We worked on that thing for hours.  I sat with my kids for hours. at. the. same. place. at. the. same. time!!!!  Glorious!!!!!
Tradd and I tried to stay up and finish it...(first-born, over-achievers) but he finally had had enough and quit went to sleep.  I made it another hour or so (stubborn) but decided to be an awesome mom again, and allow my darling children to have the reward of finishing the puzzle.

The next day these two did, indeed, finish our ugly-but-interesting puzzle. We thought about leaving a "monumental" piece for Tucker, but the early bird gets the worm, and he was still sleeping.
 
He told me later that my puzzle OCD was ok, and that "you get like that sometimes, mom".
Tradd comes home next week for Christmas.  There may or may not be something interesting but ugly with 1,000 pieces under the tree.

Monday, June 10, 2013

She.

She... is seventeen today.
 

She... isn't here in the house this morning. 
She... is actually not here in this zip code.
or this state.
or this country.
or even continent.

She... is in South Africa.
  My little girl is in Johannesburg, South Africa, turning   seventeen while serving God and others. 
She...is being self-less and giving 2 weeks of a new and socially active summer to others less fortunate that most of us.
She...is enduring 35+ hours on a plane and the unknown .
She...is opening herself up to new people, cultures, food, sights and smells.
She...boarded that plane despite some heavy baggage... not the kind with a luggage tag, hoping it will get lost along the way.

She...turned off her beloved iphone.  for twelve days!!!




    "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."      
                                                                                    Galations 6:9,10

Who am I to pout and feel sad that I can't celebrate this glorious day with her?
She...is amazing.
She...is my little girl.
She...makes me proud.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Bullet Points

Wow...February...last post...my how time flies. 



I did attempt to update my blog several times during the last few months...but each time I would sit down to write get near my keyboard, something would change, a real estate agent would call, a contract would need to be revised, a box would need to be packed.  You get the drift. So here's how it all went down, short and sweet:
  • our house of 17 years goes on the market on a Saturday in February. (3rd time in 5 years.)
  • we have our first offer that night.
  • 10 or so offers by Tuesday.
  • bidding war Wednesday night and surprise visit from first potential buyers at our door (see previous blog post)
  • signed contract
  • we go ahead with our spring break plans, even though closing is in 2 weeks
  • first buyer freaks out, terminates contract and fires her agent
  • second buyer steps up
  • signed contract
  • we go ahead with our planned beach trip for Easter even though new closing is in 2 weeks
  • inspection issues

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dear [new owner] and your sweet daddy...


Dear "new owner" (and your sweet Daddy),

We are thrilled that you have chosen to buy our house and will be living in our home.  I know after having met you  last night on our cold doorstep...with your 84 year old daddy in tow...that it will be taken care of and filled with new, loving memories.  That is exactly what we did when we moved in, almost 17 years ago.  At that time it was just my husband, my first little boy, who had just turned 4, and my very, very pregnant self.  We had been looking in Dunwoody for several weeks, and obviously, I had a deadline! I fell in love with this house from the moment I walked in.  The previous owners were being transferred, but were so sad to leave, as they had only been in it for 9 months. They had just had their first child and put in hardwoods upstairs.  Although there was hideous wallpaper covering every bathroom and the kitchen, (metallic and pastels!! Really!!) and was “sponge painting” faux finishes in the sunroom and foyer, (teal was apparently the favorite color of another owner) I saw the potential and was ready to move in-that day!  I can remember getting the message that our offered was accepted at the school where I was teaching…and our life in this house began. (way back in the dark ages, when a message meant the school secretary slipped a hand-written note under your classroom door...back before text messages, emails, and docusign.)

I brought home my 2nd baby, a beautiful daughter, to this house, just 4 weeks after moving in.  This house already had a nursery and the previous owners had a baby girl who just happened to have the same unusual middle name that we had chosen for ours. We began stripping wallpaper and making friends, and a year later, brought  our last baby home to fill up the bedrooms. 

This house has held our family in close.  We’ve celebrated countless birthdays, mothers’ days, fathers’ days, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We’ve had big crowds for the Superbowl, and small spontaneous dinners with friends.  We've had blazing fires in the winter and candlelit dinners when the power went out during summer storms. Kids and pets have run from one end of the house to the other, from the front door through the back door, and all over that backyard.  That backyard was the scene for our son’s 8-year old Food Fight birthday party, his graduation lunch, Easter egg hunts, freeze tag, snowball fights,and late night “dates” with my husband. The little house in the back was my daughter’s birthday present when she turned 2.  My sweet daddy built that for her and was a mini house full of love and laughter. My youngest has had many a game of soccer, football, golf, bow-hunting, baseball, you name it-back there.  And one our favorite family memories will be the arrival of spring and our cherry trees we planted 15 years ago…just wait!  My husband swears if you stand still you can watch them actually bloom.

I’ve tucked in 3 amazing little people into bed under this roof.  I’ve put dollar bills under pillows, hidden Christmas gifts in the basement, and marked heights on the wall.  I’ve high-fived teenage boys, listened to girls giggle and sing with the music turned all the way up, worried as new drivers back out, and hugged little bodies like crazy.  I’ve said prayers and wiped tears, and used up a lot of bandaids and Tylenol.  And I washed 1.2 million loads of clothes in that laundry room.

This is the only house my 2 younger kids have ever lived in. My oldest has few memories of his first house, and will come home from college this year to a different address.  We’ve lived an amazing life of a family under this roof…and we will be leaving it empty of furniture, but full of our love.

We wish many wonderful days and nights for you and your family and friends under this roof.  We know life isn’t always a smooth ride, but we hope that when the road gets bumpy, this home offers you a soft place to land, as it has always done that for us.


So yes, it looks like we are moving...and FINALLY
selling our house.  Apparently the 3rd time on the market was the charm.  After a bazillion showings the first 2 times we
were on the market, this time we had an offer in hours.  The events following that day have been bizarre and crazy and unexpected, (including a bidding war and a late night drop-in visit from meaningful yet strangely desperate possible buyers..) and well, have shown me once again, that I am NOT in charge.  So boldly we go.  Without a clue or place to land (yet), but knowing that someone else does.  I can't wait to see what He has in store for us!  (and this picture of Tucker playing tennis last night is random and I just got tired of trying to figure out how to move it out of this post.  Enjoy!)
 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Project Life Love


A few weeks ago I posted a (not even good) photo on Facebook of my finished 2012 Project Life album.  I had no idea so many of my friends would respond or ask questions about it...I simply posted it because I was so stinkin' proud of myself for following through with a goal from the past January...and was excited to start the process all over again this year. 
In my caption I just stated that I was happy to have finished the year...but I didn't go into any details about the Project Life system until I got a few messages asking about it.

Can I tell you how much I LOVE

    Project Life ???

This is a memory keeping system designed by a brilliant mom and scrapbooker Becky Higgins.  Before you close this window and go on to something else because you don't scrapbook...WAIT!  This is the simplest, easiest, funnest (yes, I know that's not a word, but it is the FUNNEST) way to document the events of your life. It is designed to be flexible and fit your life, anyway you want to do it.  Everyone's approach is different, and there is no right or wrong way to complete it. 
I have made scrapbooks all of my life...I can remember taping (not acid-free...gasp!) really bad snapshots of Washington, D.C. that I took on my 7th grade patrol trip...circa 1977...on to pages of grey construction paper in a pitiful scrapbook that I bought in a drug store at Northlake mall. ( This might have been after a trip to Farrell's). I also wrote captions in markers and remembering thinking "these pictures without people are boring."  I wonder where that lovely scrapbook is....

ANYWAY...my point is that I love to document life with my family and friends (an travels, and food, and pets, and so on...).  I have lots of scrapbooking supplies and a nice area to dedicate to my craft.  I have a lot of experience and scrapbooking doesn't overwhelm or intimidate me. I even have an art degree.
 You need NONE of the above to do a Project Life album!!!

Go to http://beckyhiggins.com/blog/  to get started.  She has a video that is short and sweet and is the best way to understand how the system works.  Basically, she has designed plastic sleeve pages that are divided perfectly to fit 4x6 photos and smaller slots for journaling cards.  Don't want to journal?  Cut a picture in half! Or print an instagram photo!! There are also many styles of slotted pages to choose from.  But don't get overwhelmed...you only need to watch the video...
I love how much of our "everyday" gets documented in this book. Naturally, the big events are in there: holidays, birthdays, when we are all together sitting down for a meal...but the everyday things are saved also! Like the favorite song from carpool that week, or a funny fortune from our Chinese cookies, or that text from someone that made my day.
 I chose to do a "page" a week...meaning for me... every Sunday I printed pictures from my camera and my phone, sometimes from my Ipad, and sometimes from my kids' phones...and I stuck them inside their little slot, wrote out a few lines, (or a lot, depending on the story I wanted to remember), stamped out the date of that week...and moved on.
Now we have the whole year to look back on...the good, the bad, and the beautiful.

Did I spend alot of money on ink and photo paper? yes! (can you print at Costco or online cheaper? yes!)
Did I spend alot of money on supplies? no.
Did I spend alot of time on each week?  sometimes...spring break week was a couple of pages because I had a lot of photos I wanted to use. But usually no more that an hour after printing.
Did I ever get behind?  yes.
Was it hard to catch back up?  nope. A few weeks are a little more "minimalistic" than others.  But they are all there!
Do I wish I had this system when my kids were babies and changing every single week??? YESSSS!!!!! (...or my wedding...or my oldest's senior year of high school??? YES!)
Do I wish Lance Armstrong would not have lied so much? YES!! (sorry...TV on in the other room...)
Do I wish everyone would start doing Project Life so we could all talk about it and I wouldn't feel like I might be slightly obsessed? Yes!

I hope that I have intrigued a few of you. Please let me know if have questions, or if you do Project Life as well!  I would love to share my obsession! And if you see me taking a picture of my plate at a restaurant, or of my cute new shoes...it's for my Project Life!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

2013...More and Less

I can't believe it's been so long since I last posted...not for a lack of thoughts, but rather a lack of direction.  I started to post about Christmas childhood memories...but I was feeling a bit melancholy this season. Apparently my gratefulness for not having a pile of "some assembly needed" gifts ran out and was replaced by nostalgia and fuzzy memories of loud,energetic ,young children RUNNING down the stairs to open big, colorful, toys, none of which needed a wifi connection or a charger.


Then the Tragedy in Newtown occurred and I couldn't even begin to put into words what I was feeling or say anything that hadn't already been said.

So enough of 2012 and on to new beginnings. I personally am thrilled to have '12 behind me.  Rather than make traditional resolutions I am starting this brand new year with a more general list.
So here goes 2013:

 More veggies
Less carbs
 More water
Less sweet tea
 More singing
Less cursing
 More joy
Less regret
 More painting
Less sketching
 More music
Less television
 More projects
Less pinning
 More action
Less patience
 More planning
Less grocery store trips
 More tan lines
Less cover-ups
 More intervals
Less long distance
 More champagne
Less light beer
 More time with my brothers
Less time talking about it
 More letting God
Less worrying
 More now
Less tomorrow
More laughing
More light
More love

Bring it on.

Monday, November 26, 2012

the moments in-between...


The moments in-between...

I love big celebrations, the grand gestures, the major holidays, birthdays, and mark-your-calendar-events …the long awaited trips (the kind that come with insurance!) the epic parties, and all things Spanx-worthy…

But lately I’ve been trying to focus more on the moments in between…

The moments that can bring just as much gratification and simple joy to my day if I just pay attention .

The ordinary moments that make up our extraordinary lives…
Moments like:
Listening to the boys bicker and tease each other while playing side-by-side on their own computers, knowing they were enjoying  the familiar routine,

the beauty of a winter sunset over the water…

the less familiar beauty of a sunrise over the water…and the patience of my kids when I pull over to take a picture.

doing yet another load of laundry, finding a note written from my oldest to my youngest son in honor of his first varsity football game.  After bawling like a baby for 3 minutes I hear myself say…"I must be doing something right?!” (or maybe I heard…"see, you haven’t totally screwed them up!"...)

laughing out loud by myself in the car after hearing a song that just an hour ago had my sweet friend and me in tears while kickboxing…(might have been actual tears of pain now that I think of it…)

enjoying the first cup of homemade hot chocolate of the winter season, from my mom’s old recipe, appreciating the sight of her handwriting,

asking my daughter to download a new song for me that I liked, then later hearing her sing it, realizing she knew all words because she must like it, too!

the simple joy of having warm feet at night when my husband is not traveling…(not sure if my cold feet would be on his “special moments list”…)
and of course, the most obvious...

ALL FIVE OF US SITTING DOWN TO EAT TOGETHER…

 
I  will add that my last few days were spent relaxing at our house on the beach.  It is a place without schedules, homework, carpools, and with a killer view. Obviously the environment makes it much easier to notice the small lovelies of the day while reading a book, listening to the waves and feeling the warm sunshine on your face.  The trick, you see, is to find beauty in the everyday of our lives even while we are in carpool, or the grocery store YET AGAIN, while knee-deep in folding clothes,or wiping up another mess the dog left! 

In my effort to see beauty between the moments I channel Ferris Bueller.  (no, I don't play hooky and fake sick all day...but only because I am not that talented with recording my voice and wiring the doorbell...)

In the words of that wise old sage Ferris Bueller:

“Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”

 
What are your  favorite "in-between moments"?