Monday, September 30, 2013

It's Fall!!!

So...I realize that our little family has a penchant for celebrating very small things in a very big way. I own that. Even for us, though, this weekend might have been a little over the top.

It's officially fall, and the temperatures have dipped below 50 at night and haven't popped above the mid-70s during the day. We have broken out the jeans and light sweaters. (Our Northern roots have conceded to their Southern branches. We chill easily.) The leaves are changing, and local apples and apple cider have hit the stores and then our table. We are reveling in fall.

Normally, Daddy makes us wait until October 1 to break out the pumpkins and Halloween decorations, but since we have a soccer game and I work late on October 1, we managed to persuade him to let us decorate yesterday. (Clearly, waiting until October 2 would be ridiculous.) The van has been window stickered, and the pumpkins have run amok in the house. Admittedly, that is not too over the top--especially for us. But wait for it...

We put a fire in the fireplace both Saturday and Sunday nights. We also made our first fall meals: sausage gravy and biscuits Saturday and fried chicken Sunday. S'mores were roasted. Pumpkin bars were baked. The children broke out their flannel pajamas. Fall happened.

Now I just have to figure out what on earth we will do in January when it is actually cold...

Friday, September 27, 2013

Super Ballerina

Have I mentioned I love Issa's school? They completed their only fundraiser--a Read-a-thon--last week. The school's theme this year is "Be a Hero," so the Read-a-thon had a Super Hero theme. The school set a goal of 200,000 minutes, and they far exceeded that goal. As a reward, today is Super Hero day at school. Students were encouraged to come dressed as either their favorite super hero or to create their own. Issa, always a fan of being original, decided to be Super Ballerina:
Yes, her super hero pose is the splits. I'm not sure how that helps defeat the bad guy, but some questions are better left alone. She wore yoga pants, her ballerina shirt, a pink cape, and her hair in a bun. Voila! Super Ballerina! Evan wanted to be rescued:

Villains everywhere are quaking in their boots.

(By the way, her principal was dressed as Darth Vader in the Kiss and Go lane. Today is a total loss; bless those sweet teachers.)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

You Know You Have a Daughter When... steam mop your floors and the cloth looks like you might have mopped up Tinkerbell. It happened to me this morning. I found myself whispering, "I believe" and honestly hoping a little fairy would come floating off. Then I realized I need more sleep. That is all.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bad Words

Monday, Issa's bus was a bit late. As it turns out, Mr. Sam, who runs a very tight bus, decided that everyone needed assigned seats. The better behaved you are, the farther back you get to sit. Apparently most of the "big boys" are near the front, and Issa and her friends are in the back. She was quite happy.

Yesterday, though, she got off the bus looking very worried...

"Mom, I have a problem."

"Okay, what's wrong?"

"Well, I sit in front of two fifth grade girls now, and they used a lot of bad words today."

I was ready for this conversation. I knew it would happen eventually, but I still wanted to tread lightly.

"Oh. What words? I want to be sure we can talk about them and that you know what you mean."

"Oh, I know what they mean! The first girl said, 'You f-word.' Then the second girl said, 'S-word. Did not.' Then the first girl said, 'D-word. You would say that.'"

I was at a bit of a loss. "Baby, can you tell me the words? You won't be in trouble because we need to talk about them."

Deep sigh. "They said fart, shut-up, and duh."

I had to work very hard to stifle my laughter. We did talk about how those words are not polite or the best choices, but the bigger words are still somewhere in our future, my friends.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Little Crazy Man

With Issa in Company, we are spending three afternoons a week at the studio. Evan has soccer on Thursdays, but Mondays and Wednesdays he hangs out with me while we watch Issa dance. He has his own little dance bag complete with books, crayons, snacks, and the iPad. He also has all manner of big girls to fuss over him. It's really a rough life. Not once has he complained about going.
For me, it's pretty ideal. I get to watch Issa dance, and I get to hang out with this crazy little man:
Yesterday, he announced he wanted me to take his picture. But, I was not allowed to get up and in every picture he made the above face. The lighting was terrible, and I was way too close. He found the whole thing hysterical. He would be cracking up, and then I would hold up the camera and I got that weirdo face. It was a pretty great game.

Here's the thing about Evan. He's too funny. I see many teacher phone calls in my future, and I can only imagine the nut-job things he and his friends will attempt in high school. I'm bracing for it now. Life is always an adventure with him, but at least we're all laughing along the way.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Spa Party

We closed out Issa's birthday celebrations with her friend party yesterday. She chose a Spa Party, and I think it is safe to say it may have been my favorite yet.
The girls arrived to find the Bower Spa:
We spread our old comforter out on the floor, which made a cozy place to become fabulous. Each girl was greeted by a favor purse:
Issa chose candy necklaces, strands of "pearls," lipstick, and a lip gloss ring for each friend:
We also tucked two hair bands in the back pocket.

The bar became the beauty counter:
I done did lost my mind with this nail bowl: do see nail stickers, jewels, and glitter. Much fun was had by all.

Daddy had a special glitter tattoo station:
As far as food, I had a bit too much fun. Issa chose to put the purse on her cake:
And we had a lovely snack bar:
We made cucumber sandwiches, nuts, chocolate covered strawberries, flavored waters, and edible nail polish bottles (candy coated marshmallows with a tootsie roll top--I have no idea why Issa chose orange).

We had ten little girls at our house, and they wasted no time making themselves even more beautiful:
Thank goodness Miss Steph came to help! She is a miracle worker in the manicure department:
And Daddy is the master of glitter tattoos:
After everyone was sufficiently fabulous, the girls enjoyed a snack and lots of laughter:
And I cracked up at the glittery, chalky disaster (because, yes, I bought hair chalk for them to play with):
Evan was not about to let the girls do his nails or make-up, but he did want a dragon tattoo:
I think she was happy:
She was also very excited to have Miss Steph there, too:
After snack, we let Issa open her gifts:
This was truly the sweetest group of girls. Every gift and card came with a rationale, and they all oohed and aahed over each item. This card was a particular favorite:
We of course had cake, and I loved seeing that genuine smile:
The girls ended the afternoon by playing on the swing set, which was lovely. I truly love that these girls are just as comfortable running and climbing as they are with nail polish and lipstick.

When they left, Brad looked at me and said, "These are Issa's people." She had invited the neighbor girls and the whole Tiny Company, and they are truly her people. They are kind and generous and as individual as they come. They are fearless and spunky and full of life. And I am so glad they all came to celebrate our Issa. Happy birthday, sweet girl.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


So...we have entered that stage of family life where we are running hither, thither, and yon. In the midst of the crazy, Brad and I have committed to still having a family dinner.

We now have a rice cooker with a delay and a crockpot, which has made this process infinitely easier, and we now eat at 6:30 or 7 instead of 6, but we are still all sitting down around the table.

Here is why I love that: we laugh. Our kids are hysterical, and there is something about sitting down with nothing to do but talk or eat that helps us all relax and refocus. We all share about our days, and at some point we end up in hysterics. I love it. Last night I thought of a million things the kids said that I wanted to post here, but this morning they are gone. What I do remember is the giggles, and I suppose that is what really counts.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My Village

I have often written here about how it truly does take a village to raise children--both for the kids and the mamas. I love being part of that village, but some days, it's more difficult than others.

I love being the one offering encouragement, support, or help. I love knowing that I have friends to lean on when I need help. But...asking isn't always so easy. I'm working on it, and I'm trying to be more mindful about it. I preach that it is always okay to ask for help--to my kids, to my friends, to my students--but I'm not great about asking. Guilt gets in the way on so many levels. Why can't I manage it? Why can't I find a way to get it all finished and be there for the kids? What if people get annoyed by my asking? These are my hang ups, and I'm learning to let them go.

This month has been good practice. Brad has been traveling more, and the pace of life has picked up. Here's what I know: we are making it. My village is there--when I ask and when I don't.

I had to ask another dance mom to take Issa to class this week. She was happy to help, and when I shared my own fears she literally laughed and me and told me to get over myself. I love her a little more every day.

We needed help with soccer this week, and Mr. Ryan stepped up to the plate. Evan is thrilled, and I am thrilled that he has his own little cheering section.

Last night, Miss Steph surprised Evan to watch his game. Daddy and Issa were there, but I was teaching. When I got home, I saw Steph had stayed to help with homework and hang out for a while. We got to catch up a little bit, and I got to watch my kids have time with someone they adore and who adores them.

As I was driving to work, stuck in traffic with extra time to think, I finally realized that having a village isn't just about me. I might feel fabulous when I get to help someone, and I might need the help on some days more than others. That is the nuts and bolts of it. What I realized was the village is about our family--biological and extended. It's about knowing that we have a gift in the form of people we love and who love us. It's about belonging to each other, and I am so grateful to keep learning from our little village.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Celebration Weekend

We are home after a whirlwind trip to Ohio. We drove up Friday afternoon to Napoleon to drop the kids of with Nana and Papa while Daddy and I headed to a friend's wedding in Cleveland.
Saturday, the kids had a blast just being in Napoleon. We had braced them that Becca and Tyler would be away at school, but Tyler the Huge surprised us and was home! They enjoyed a little soccer time with Vera (thanks Aunt Carol for the pics):
 And loved hanging out with their favorite jungle gym:
 The rest of their day was spent just playing with Nana and Papa. They baked cupcakes, played Legos and dress up, and reorganized the toy cabinet. The kiddos had a blast, which meant we were free to have a blast with friends.

Brad and I drove to Cleveland Saturday morning and met friends for lunch before the wedding. I love that we have known these people since college, see each other maybe once a year, and pick up like we saw each other yesterday. We laughed and caught up and then drove around campus to see what remained and what had changed. We were most sad to learn that our beloved, awful bowling alley was no more. It is in foreclosure, and the boys thought a little too hard about buying it.

The wedding itself was too fun, and we stayed up way too late. Some things never change.

Sunday, we were able to sleep in a little bit and then headed see Granddaddy and Grandma Judy. It was the first time we had seen their new home, and the kids loved seeing the treasures and hearing the stories. Evan declared it, "Even more fun than Nana's," and he's making plans to have his own "zoo" when he grows up.

Sunday night, we had a small birthday party for Issa. She went with an owl theme:
 Nana had the candles spread out, but Issa decided she really wanted them as a hair bow. Nana is very patient. I'd say that owl was a perfect match:
 Look at these goobers:
 Nana and Papa gave Issa some new dance wear, and she needed to demonstrate how well it works with a bird cage:
 Aunt Carol, Mommy,  and Nana were all afraid the crazy candles clumped together would create another Bushka's birthday situation (in which we did, in fact, set a cake on fire), so we asked Issa to pull her hair up, and Nana lit while we sang. Thankfully, the water on standby was not needed:
 Tyler helped Evan get a better look:
Doesn't everyone blow out their candles in tree pose?:
 Happy birthday, Issa Bug, you are getting way too big:
In short, it was a perfect weekend. We had a blast seeing friends and family and celebrating so very many things. I missed so many great pictures, but the memories will last a lifetime.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Well Celebrated

I think Issa felt very well celebrated yesterday. I was very pleased with her Minion cake:
 She came home to this birthday display:
 Please notice the string on the knob:
 I couldn't find a way to wrap her gift from us, so I wrapped a string all over the house to follow.

She had a blast at dance. They sang to her twice, and she was hugged by everyone. I think it may have been the highlight of her day.

When we got home, she received lots of birthday phone calls, and then finally settled in for our little birthday celebration.

Check out the cool owl shirt Aunt Shannon found (along with lots of other cool clothes):
 Evan was so excited for Issa to open his gift:
 He found an Orbee mood light. I really don't know who was more excited about it. He was so excited to give it to Issa, and I love that he knows the joy of giving.

Finally, she followed the string:
 Meet Fluffle:
 I have no idea what Fluffle is, but she had been saving to buy him from the museum all summer. When we were feeding the bears, we noticed they were on clearance and there was only one left. We did a little covert op to sneak him home, and Issa was thrilled. She thought her dream of owning him was gone. She was so excited that I'm not sure she registered that she comes with a day trip to the beach.

Finally, we blew out the candle on another birthday:
I asked Issa if seven felt different, and she said, "No. Same old life. It's good."

It is good.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Happy Birthday, Issa!

This is what Issa woke up to this morning:
 In case you are wondering, it takes 52 minutes to blow up 71 balloons and cover a bedroom floor. Issa thought this was hysterical! She was expecting streamers in the doorway, but I was getting a bit bored with streamers. This was way fun, although my hands are a bit torn up from all those knots.

And the birthday princess herself:
She posed herself, and I think she looks a bit like 17 here. When did she get so big?

She headed off to school with a few surprises in her backpack: mini blueberry muffins she has been eyeing for snack and a homemade "lunchable" made in a new sandwich Tupperware with zebra muffins liners inside (thank you Pinterest). I think she will be thrilled. This afternoon, I will take cupcakes and juice boxes for her class, and then we will head to dance, where she is way too excited for the Company to sing to her. She's requested we pick up Wendy's on the way home, and then we'll have a little Despicable Me party for our little crew. In short, it's a perfect day for our seven year old. Pictures of the events tomorrow...for now I'm off to put a minion on a cake!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

First Soccer Game!

Last night was a very big night! We had soccer pictures and our very first game. Yes...I wore black and white to support our Zebras:
 Issa was super excited to cheer on her little brother, too:
 Please notice the animal print.
After pictures, we headed over to the field and had a little pregame warm up. They lined the kids up and had them each take two practice shots into the goal that would be the one they should try to score in during the game (Evan nailed both of his), and they don't switch goals at the half. It's brilliant! They also put one of our coaches near our goal so the kids know to run towards her. Right before the game we had a little huddle:
 This was our coach's first game--ever. She brought a friend (the other lady in the white shirt) who was a veteran, though, and after about five minutes our coach found the groove.
**A small aside: I love this league. Please notice the extra moms in the picture above. About two minutes after I snapped this picture, another dad wandered over and politely suggested they sit down and let the coach coach and the kids play. They weren't really happy, but they did, and it was important that they did. It's league policy, and the kids all relaxed a bit more with a few less opinions at the bench. Also, the team we played against had a veteran coach--like this is his 30th year coaching. He coached all of his kids and has kept coaching because he loves it. He coached our coach and our kids, too. One of his players fell apart on the field, so he carried him. You don't leave the field, but you can be loved. It's what U6 soccer should be.**
Look at our man in action:
They rotate kids in and out, but check out this game face from the bench:
A herd of Zebras:
We lost the game 6-4, but the kids didn't care. They had a blast. They even did the high five lines:
It only took us three minutes to get lined up for that, too.

The video is having a little trouble, but here are a few.

Our opening debacle: what do we do?
And my personal favorite, in which Evan loses a shoe, we play the ball up the hill and onto another field, and eventually score:

The night was great, and I was so proud of our little Zebra. He played his heart out. At one point, he went down hard. I grabbed the arm of my chair, but he hopped right back up and ran after the ball. One of his little friends went down hard and landed on his ear, and when he got to the bench Evan patted his back and told him he would be okay. Between plays, Evan would clap his little hands and yell, "Let's go, Zebras!" He may not have scored a single goal, but in my eyes he was MVP.