Monday, October 12, 2015

Fall Fun

This weekend was all about fall fun.

Friday, Issa had a friend over to paint a pumpkin for the school media center. They were invited to create their favorite book characters, and these two were hysterical:
 While they were creating, I got lots of snuggles with a boy who was not tired:
 Meet Frankie from Monster High:
 Saturday, it was chilly but the kids and I were able to actually go to the farm. It has been raining so much we haven't been in forever. They had fun harvesting sweet potatoes while I helped plant fall crops.  We also got to catch a pig, a goat, and a cow since the storms damaged our fences a bit.

We picked Daddy up at the airport that afternoon, and then headed to Ryan and Felicia's for dinner. The kids spent the night, and Brad and I went back Sunday to make brunch. It so fun to have friends that love cooking and food as much as we do!

The rest of yesterday was spent being cozy. Even Nuzzle created a cozy spot:
We did venture out to the River Walk for a bit. We took Neela and just enjoyed the leaves starting to turn and the chill in the air!

Have I mentioned this is my favorite time of year?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Ninja Buddies

Yesterday, Evan had another graduation at the dojo:
He is now officially a camo blue belt. This is his favorite picture:
He loves this picture because he's beside his "ninja buddy" Logan, the kiddo with the glasses. It has taken approximately forever, but Evan finally has a ninja buddy. Evan is not the kid who necessarily needs or wants a friend all the time. He has lots of them, but he isn't an extrovert, which I totally get. He is not going to walk up to someone and just introduce himself, but he does watch and will eventually approach kids he finds interesting. He finally did that a few weeks ago. Now. as soon as we walk into the dojo, he starts looking for Logan, and they are immediately into a conversation about who knows what. It also amuses me to no end that Evan always refers to him by the full title Ninja Buddy Logan. This kid just cracks me up.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Knitting Kindness

For Issa's birthday, she and I took knitting lessons. We had given her a basket with the gift certificate for the lessons in it, and at the end of the first lesson, she asked me to get a matching one:
We finished our lessons, and I love sitting on the couch with her chatting and knitting. I love seeing our baskets sitting side by side.

At the end of our classes, our teacher invited us to join a knitting circle. It meets on Tuesday evenings at a local cafe, and I was a little nervous about going. These women are knitters. However, Marsha assured us we would be welcome--including Issa. So, last night we went. We arrived to see a woman showing off a stunning sweater she just finished. Another lady was working on a beautiful shawl with a lace edge. We are working on scarves. And aside from one woman who was in her late twenties, everyone else was talking about their grandkids.

We were warmly welcomed, though, and we settled in with our scarves. These master knitters oohed and aahed over Issa's scarf. When she hit a snag, all of them dropped what they were doing to help. It was absolutely lovely to just sit and knit, and I love that another little village welcomed us in. Issa can hardly wait to go back next week, and I think I have found another place that feeds a little corner of my soul. I'm trying to learn how to carve time out just to do things that bring me joy, and I think this will definitely help. Who knows, maybe I'll even eventually try a sweater.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


It's cozy season. I stepped out this morning in a sweater I actually needed and saw the leaves were starting to be tinged with gold. And as proof miracles happen the sun was glinting off that gold in a way that made me stop and truly see it. We haven't seen the sun for over a week, and it was just stunning this morning.

The house is studded with pumpkins. I'm making the kids tea every morning, and fall meals are back on the menu. Squash and cinnamon wafts through the kitchen. Slippers reemerged. It's cozy.

Fall has always been my favorite, and this fall is not disappointing. There is something about the chill and the colors that encourages a bit of a slow down, and I'm making it a point to listen to that call.

Monday, October 5, 2015

I'm back...

Well...Read-a-Thon is over--mostly. I still have a final report to write, but no more counting or assembling prizes or distributing things to classrooms. By all accounts, though, it was a tremendous success! I just didn't get much sleep for the past couple of weeks and every morning has been spent at school doing something. To be in my office on time feels like a real luxury.

Aside from Read-a-Thon, it's been a crazy couple of weeks. A list...

1. Just when I think we are full at the end something else moves in. Evan has been taking such good care of his fish that they are reproducing. He now has two baby fish, one of which is now as big as the parents. The second baby is officially out of the getting eaten danger zone. He is one proud little boy. You might also be amused to know he has named all of his fish after condiments: Ketchup, Mustard, Mayo, Soy Sauce, Worcestershire, Ranch, and BBQ.

2. In related news, Issa now has three hermit crabs. Our sitter passed on two, and they are all playing very nicely. Issa is quite thrilled to have so many friends in her room.

3. In sad pet news, for the first time in 13 years we had fleas. Brad and I gave one dog and three cats flea dips this weekend. The good news is the problem has been eradicated before it got to be a pandemic.

4. In devastating news, we discovered the fleas because we had to call the vet for Nuzzle. She has been losing weight, and my worse fears were confirmed. She is in the very early stages of renal disease. There is really nothing we can do, and she is still very happy and active. Once that stops, though, we will say goodbye. She is my cat--no doubt--so I'm trying to savor every moment of what looks to be about six months left with her. My heart is just broken, though.

5. Issa had to do a Coastal Plains shoe box float this weekend. It's the first school project of the year, and I was shocked by how very, very little help she needed. Even finding all of the pictures online and compiling a document with captions was a breeze for her. It's due Friday, but she just wanted to knock it out this weekend. She presents next week, and I'll get some pictures then.

6. Brad and I went on a fabulous date Saturday night! It's a fabulous old bank that has been converted into a restaurant/art gallery. I had incredible mushroom bolagnaise, and it was so fun to sit in the vault sipping an after dinner cocktail before wandering to see some really fun modern art.

7. And now here we are at a new week! I'm sure more adventures will ensue...

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I Saw God Today

Sunday, Brad and I did the incredibly glamorous work of purging our closet. It was time to reorganize and get rid of things that no longer fit or that we just don't wear. We ended up with six bags of clothes and one black suit coat--a coat that Brad insisted not be put in the bags but be left in the dry cleaning bag and hanger.

Yesterday, I stopped by Goodwill to drop it all off. The first thing I pulled out was the coat, and I was holding it up to grab another bag when a man approached me...

"Excuse me, is that a suit coat."


"Do you know what size it is?"

"I have no idea. Do you need one? Do you want to try it on?"

As he slipped the coat across his shoulders, he started to cry. "I prayed for you today."

He then proceeded to tell me that he had a really hard year. He lost his job, his wife left him, and he had to move back in with his parents. His father passed away on Sunday, and this man didn't have a suit for the funeral. As Brad and I were cleaning the closet, he was arguing with his mom about whether they should bury his father in his suit or if it should be saved for the son to wear to the funeral. They had no money for a new suit, and they agreed that if he could find one at Goodwill they would bury his father in his suit--something that was very important to this man. He had been able to find black pants and white shirt in the store but not a coat. Now he stood in the parking lot wearing one that fit perfectly.

Now we were both crying, and then he said this, "I prayed this morning that if God still loved me he would let me find a suit today. And now I have one."

I'm still in awe of that moment. He offered to pay me for the coat or to see if Goodwill would rush stocking it so he could pay them. I insisted he just take it exchange for a promise--that he would never forget how very much he was loved.

We hugged, and I am still filled with gratitude. I am so grateful to be used in that moment, and I will always be amazed by those moments of divine intervention and Grace.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Not-Slumber Not-Birthday Party

Issa was very clear that she didn't want a big birthday party this year. There was to be no traditional birthday party "stuff." However, she did want to have a couple of friends over to spend the night. It was a bit of an adjustment for me, but I worked with it:
 She made a whole list of things she wanted to do, including making their own pizzas, having a popcorn bar, decorating not-birthday cupcakes, and getting their nails done:
 I loved listening to them giggle at the nail salon, and I loved how they bounced between tween and little girl all night. Mani/Pedis--check. Flowers painted on big toes--check.

When we got back home, the girls wanted Issa to open her gifts, one of which was a pom-pom critter making kit. They rushed upstairs to get started, and it wasn't long before I was being paged. Several trips up and down the stairs for more supplies later, I was invited to join them on Issa's floor. It was honestly one of the highlights of my year. I know it won't be long before I'm invited less, but sitting on the floor making a pom-pom polar bear while chatting with the three girls was priceless.

We made individual pizzas for dinner, and then we got to the real work of decorating cupcakes:
 16 cupcakes, a half a box of graham crackers, and three batches of frosting later, we proclaimed it a wrap. I'm not sure anyone ate a single whole cupcake, but oh we laughed. We discovered edible spray paint must be used lightly or it tastes awful. We discovered there is such a thing as too much frosting on a cupcake, and we learned I shouldn't talk and start the mixer at the same time (I was covered in powdered sugar). We also learned Evan will do anything for a laugh:
They choreographed a beautiful thank you dance, played Barbies, and giggled to no end. They included Evan when they were outside of Issa's room, and they were genuinely fun all night.

At midnight, I turned in the towel thinking they were snuggled in bed and all but asleep--wrongo. Apparently the saw 2:30. They all woke up in great moods, though, and had some pancakes before we said goodbye.

It truly was one of the very most enjoyable weekends I have had in a long time, and I would take these three girls anywhere. In fact, they might have just ruined me for all other slumber parties.