Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Man and his Dog

They say you can tell a lot about a man by how he treats his dog:
 Buddy. This dog might not have made it in many other houses. Although he has settled now, he has eaten walls, trim work, and shoes. He has pulled his leg muscles multiple times because he's too stupid to learn from his mistakes. He chases reflections. He's a mess.

Although Brad has had to count to ten on a million occassions, he loves this dog, and the feeling is mutual. Buddy crawls over me to get to him. And when I get out of bed in the morning, well:
Just look at that face...

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Finding My Sanity

I'm slowly starting to find my groove and my sanity. The end of August is usually a little bit of a tricky transition--especially the week before school starts!

Unfortunately, my planning week and boot camp always aligns, but that's not too bad. It's the week after. My freshmen arrive, and my classes start, but theses two:
Well...they hang out with me in the office for the week. Fortunately, they love it! They make a blanket fort of my conference table and have a high time under there. And there is a part of me that loves hearing their giggles in the office.

But it's also very hard. I feel pulled in two directions. Trying to be 100% mom and 100% Dr. B. and that math just doesn't work out.

This week, though, I drop them both off at school and come in to a very quiet office. I usually have about an hour before the rest of campus wakes up and wanders in. I get a lot accomplished. I don't feel pulled.

When I leave the office, I've done enough that I can be fully present for my family. I can do the errands and the cooking and the cleaning and the homework without also trying to prep courses or write reports at the same time.

There is always more to do both places, and I'm on my phone answering emails a lot. But we are finding our rhythm, and I'm feeling more sane. I'll take it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


We survived the first day of school! 

The kids had fabulous days. Issa is still a little uncertain about the beginning of the school day and where she goes when, but she loves all of her teachers! The only major disappointment was that she has to sit with her social studies class at lunch, and none of her close friends are in that class. But...Fridays they can sit wherever they want, so there's hope!

Evan loves his teachers, too! He was most excited to take in his Usagi book today. I'm just thrilled he is excited about the idea of silent reading this year!

After school, we made it through our first crazy Monday. The boys have started going to a later class on Mondays, and they are thrilled to find that many of their favorite training partners made the same decision.

Issa had her first dance class of the season:
I think this group of girls is in for a great year!

I managed to make dinner and get it on the table just as planned, which I think is a huge accomplishment for the first day of school!

Brad and I played calendar jenga last night. He has a new full-time client, a conference, and a farewell dinner this week for a former colleague. I teach two nights this week and have a committee meeting, and we are going to visit friends this weekend so all ninja time has to be on the weekdays. That is a lot for the first week of school! Thank goodness Nana came to the rescue and is running some of the carpool duty this week!

Here's to great beginnings...

Monday, August 28, 2017

Happy First Day!

Today is the official first day of school, and these two were truly very excited this morning:
 Their backpacks were packed tight:
 Evan is so ready for third grade:
 His outfit was a negotiation. I asked for no basketball shorts and that he matched. I'll take what I can get.

Issa is ready for middle school and sixth grade:
 She couldn't wait to wear one of her Aunt Shannon outfits and her new boots! She had middle school 101 Friday, and after spending a full day in the building she feels like she knows her way around. She is also thrilled to have some of her very closest friends on her team.

We also continued a little tradition:
On Issa's first day of kindergarten, she and I wore matching pearl bracelets. The idea was that if she got nervous she could look down and touch hers and know I was wearing mine and thinking of her. It was a reminder that we always have her back and that we know she can do anything. We wore them every day until she felt like she didn't need it anymore. As she started middle school, I got us new matching bracelets for the same reminder.

I've been holding mine much of the morning. I did fine dropping Evan off, but I might have cried after Issa got out of the car. There is no walking her in for middle school, and although she looked so grown up at home, she looked so very small walking into that big building. I know with every fiber of my being she is ready for this, though, and I can't wait to hear all about both of their days this afternoon.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Fun Family Weekend

We had such a fun weekend! For the very first time, Grandma Judy and Aunt Carol came down to visit! Aunt Shannon joined the fun, and we truly had a fabulous weekend!

They arrived Friday, but we just stopped in for a glass of wine after Issa's boot camp performace. The real fun started Saturday!

We decided to celebrate Issa's birthday with them this weekend, and for the first time she and Shannon went shopping together for her birthday clothes. Saturday morning, we girls all set off for the mall:
 The youngins headed off their own direction while Carol and I did some shopping of our own!

Judy and Mom joined us mid-morning for a little shopping before all we girls met up for lunch:
 Issa and Shannon shopped well into the afternoon. We returned home just long enough for Issa to give us a birthday fashion show, although those pictures will have to wait as to not ruin the first day of school reveal.

We attempted dinner at the Nickel, but even at five we couldn't get in, so barbeque it was:
 We went back to Nana's for birthday cupcakes:
 And discovered Nana doesn't own a lighter. Thank goodness for gas stoves:

 Sometimes I worry she'll never come out of her shell:
 Sunday, everyone came to our house for coffee:
And we finally made it to the Nickel for lunch!

All in all, it was a weekend of great food, laughter, and memories. Judy brought some old letters and one of Granddad's college papers. It truly was lovely to just have the time, and I loved having them see our home--even our crazy. There really is no greater gift.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Mountain Quest

The boys spent last weekend being ninjas on the mountain--literally! They participated in their first Mountain Quest. They spent Friday morning packing a tent, packs, and enough food for the weekend, and then they were off. I was so grateful to see this picture on Facebook Friday night:
 There was no cell service up there, and it was good to see that they were there, training, and basically dry since the forecast was for rain all weekend.

It was a little surreal. I realized Brad and I had never gone 24 hours without communicating--at least via email--since we started dating in 1998. I'm not a fan. But...they had a fabulous time training. The highlight, though, was the hike to and through the waterfall.

Evan was barely big enough:
 His feet couldn't actually touch, and I'm so grateful to know that Mr. Hardee had a death grip on my little guy:
 Evan said it was really cool to go from being held by Mr. Hardee to being passed to Mr. Bryan and then a whole team of ninjas:
 Brad was up next:

 And if I was still teaching symbolism I would totally use this pic for a Christ symbol:
They said it really is something you just have to experience.

They are still adjusting to life off of the mountain, but they are already talking about next year. I'm so very grateful they were able to experience it together, and I'm awfully glad to have them back home, too.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Our Cinderella

Right before Nana Camp, Issa spent two weeks at the studio in Production Camp. In two short weeks, this group of girls and two teachers created sets, sewed costumes, assembled props, and choreographed Cinderella, and our dancer was Cinderella! We all went to see the show, and I was so, so proud of the whole group. 

Issa was most nervous to open the show alone on stage, but she shined (zoom in on the pics):
Two of her very good friends were the step-sisters, and I loved watching the three of them interact on stage:
 This was her proudest moment:
 All of the magic happened on stage, which meant her dress transformed. They worked and worked to get it done before the music ran out, and they did it when it counted most!

I also loved the scene when she entered the ball:
 And her dancing the pas de deux with Mrs. Lauren A., her solo teacher:
 The curtain call:
I was so, so proud of Issa. She has had a block about learning a lot of choreography quickly, and she got over it! She also let go a little bit and had fun on stage--and her face showed it!

Now we are in boot camp and starting a new competition year, and I can't wait to watch her keep growing!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Staycation Miracles

Last week, Brad and I enjoyed every moment of a staycation. The kids went to Nana Camp, and Brad and I spent the week binging House of Cards, eating what and when we wanted, and most importantly redoing the kitchen.

We dropped the kids off Satuday and went to Home Depot for all the supplies we would need. We got this far before we called it a day:
 Yep...we dumped the entire contents of our kitchen into the family room. It was a mess. Making coffee Sunday morning was an adventure.

Sunday, though, Brad started patching walls while I taped:
 And by Monday night we were putting paint on the walls:
 We also spent a couple days without doors so they could be painted:
 Thankfully, I have a very handy husband who installed new outlets, hinges, and lights:
 We finished moving everything back in just a few hours before the kids came home, but their homework station is all ready for school to begin:
 And the new cabinet hardware and clear counters make a huge difference:
 I love the brighter doors and archway:

 And we redid the stove area to make it more functional:
 But this is the best:
We switched tables around at the house, and I reapholstered these chairs to match.

We are loving our new space, which feels a million times bigger.

Most importantly, I'm so very grateful for the week spent just being together. The fall hustle is starting, so I'm clinging to the feels from last week with everything I've got!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

This Guy

I took this picture right after I finished fussing at him for lifting those shelves into place by himself:
The truth is, though, I was awfully glad to see him up on that ladder reorganizing his garage and building a bench for Issa's dance production.

It's been a bumpy summer. In June, Brad started feeling not so hot. It started with fatigue and then anemia, which was enough to send us to the doctor. Long story short: two weeks ago we got the official diagnosis of Celiac's.

We've been learning how to do the whole gluten-free thing. Thank goodness for Pinterest for the recipe wins. I'm learning which brands are safe and where gluten hides--like everywhere. We also got a deep freeze to make meal prepping easier and to hold some gluten-free go-to meals for when we are up against the clock. There have been some hard moments, but we're finding our rhythm.

And this guy...well...I can't believe the difference. And I'm just so very glad he is on the mend...