Those Summer Nights…

Whoa. Did that just happen? Summer went by and now we’re full blown into fall! Oh, and yes, I did miss a monthly post in September. I’ll just go ahead and play the pregnancy card here…however, I really know what was going on…

Back to school!

Back to school!

School started, the weather changed and our lazy summer days and nights were over. It’s amazing how different 7:00 p.m. feels in the summer time versus when we return to school. At that time in the summer, you may find us just starting to eat dinner, playing at the park or heading out for a walk. Now, when 7:00 hits, I’m running through all the lists in my head that have to be done before bedtime and our day begins tomorrow.

It’s those times when I really miss the laid back nights of summer…when usually the biggest question crossing my mind was, “what should we do tomorrow?”

Enjoying some pool time in the backyard...

Enjoying some pool time in the backyard…

Don’t get my wrong…I love all things fall. Football games, chili, crunchy leaves, the colors. Winter, on the other hand, might be a different story.

Anyways, as I savor my hot potato soup on this Sunday evening, I remember those summer nights and look forward to them again in a few (but busy!) months not too long from now.

Fishing on Lake Lynnwood.

Fishing on Lake Lynnwood.

Christmas in July?

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression…or perhaps…sale slogan, “Christmas in July!” While I have heard this saying many times, this year, I really started to think about how July is really like a “holiday” season around our household. Of course, I know what you’re thinking… that it’s because MY birthday falls in July. However, there are LOTS of other festivities and reasons WHY July captures the magic of summer in my book. The month of December is filled with family, friends, laughter and fun…similarly, so is July in our book.

Celebrating my birthday! Azteca style...

Celebrating my birthday! Azteca style…

July 1 of this year, I celebrated in one of the most magical places on Earth…Disney World! I was wrapping up my time at the ASCA Conference 2014, and was able to spend some time watching fireworks at Epcot and shopping Downtown Disney. If that’s not like a holiday, I’m not sure what is!

Fireworks at Epot.

Fireworks at Epot.

Every July 3, we host our annual Fourth of July extravaganza! This all began when we first  moved into our old house over 7 years ago. We love to share the evening with our closest friends and family celebrating the Fourth. As an entourage, we walk up the street to the lighted parade and watch the fireworks. It’s a simple gathering, yet something Brad and I look forward to each year

Celebrating the Fourth of July with friends...

Celebrating the Fourth of July with friends…

July is really the month where I celebrate the perk of working in the education system…while our summer break officially starts in June, I really feel like I am “on summer break” when July hits. Although I subbed a few days for summer school, I thoroughly enjoyed the moments Phoenix and I spent, walking to the park, picnicking with friends, visiting the zoo and enjoying ice cream on a daily basis.

Fishing on Lake Lynnwood.

Fishing on Lake Lynnwood.

July is a time when we sporadically take day trips or make impromptu gatherings that leave a lasting impression with friends.

Impromptu visit to the Brown's...where the mommies enjoyed a canoe adventure!

Impromptu visit to the Brown’s…where the mommies enjoyed a canoe adventure!

Brad taking the ladies for a cruise...

Brad taking the ladies for a cruise…

July is also a month that I share birthdays with two of my three darling nieces, Irelynn and Sophie!

Spending some QT with my baby niece, Irelynn.

Spending some QT with my baby niece, Irelynn.

Newest July celebration - Sophie Elizabeth!

Newest July celebration – Sophie Elizabeth!

This July, we tried something new for the “holiday season.” Phoenix participated in the Jr. Bix run! Thanks to the encouragement from our dear friend, Karen, we entered Phoenix in his first “race.” It was so fun to be surrounded by the Bix energy and participate in such a great event.

Pictures from our first Jr. Bix event!

Pictures from our first Jr. Bix event!

As July came to an end, I felt the need to try and pack as much as I could into the last days. Whether it was visiting the Family Museum, Niabi Zoo or just running here and there, I wanted to make each spare second count!

Train ride "selfie" at Niabi Zoo!

Train ride “selfie” at Niabi Zoo!

Visiting the Family Museum on $1 Monday Funday night!

Visiting the Family Museum on $1 Monday Funday night!

Enjoying some pool time in the backyard...

Enjoying some pool time in the backyard…

I think this happens when you start to feel the “magic of the season.” Does that ever happen to you? If it’s not in July, I hope it’s another month when you feel the excitement like we do during “Christmas in July.”

Up Up And Away…Our Family’s First Flying Experience.

We did it! Our first family vacation…

And it involved an airplane!

On the plane!

On the plane!

I had read LOTS of blogs, articles, tips and advice regarding “traveling with a toddler” before we took off on our trip to Florida. Some of it, I read and used…some of it…I read and didn’t use.” However, most of the tips and tricks that I read were helpful…and luckily, we were on a quick 2 1/2 hour non-stop flight.

Get me off this plane! (Leaving Florida)

First things first…Going there was a bit easier than returning. Part of that was due to the time of the flights. Our returning flight was very early in the morning, and as you can see…Phoenix struggled a little with that. The “whiney/unhappy” three-year old was unleashed while boarding the plane…and I was having slight anxiety attacks thinking he would be non-stop screaming the entire flight back. As luck may have it, he settled down and even slept a little on the way home as well.

Checking out the plane we flew in on!

Checking out the plane we flew in on!

One of the best part s of vacation (for Phoenix) was getting to ride in an airplane for the very first time! He was very excited about this and talked about it a great deal before leaving, during our vacation and upon returning home. He had his very own seat, and enjoyed buckling (and unbuckling) his seat belt throughout a majority of the flight!

Although it was a short trip, the following things were helpful when making the flight “successful.”

  • Stroller. We brought a stroller for my 11 month old niece to use…however, in the airports it was extremely helpful to have Phoenix ride in the stroller (even though he is 3). Oh and in case you’re wondering, my sister used an Ergo baby carrier to maneuver my niece around in!
Headed to check in!

Headed to check in!

  • Light jacket/Sweatshirt. The plane definitely gets chilly, and I was glad to have packed a small sweatshirt for all of us!
  • Snacks. I packed cereal bars, suckers, goldfish, granola bars, fruit…etc. I also packed a thermos for water.
  • Gum. To help with the pressure and Phoenix’s ears, I packed LOTS of gum…however, he never once said anything about his ears feeling funny or popping…I had worried A LOT about this too! Mainly, he just loves to chew gum, so it was nice to have this available throughout vacation! (Bribery…)
  • Small toys. I packed 1 quart size ziplock bag of toys for Phoenix. Yes. One quart size bag. He played with these “special toys” on the plane as well as when we would go out to dinner. These entertained him…YOU DO NOT have to pack a ton of toys. Trust me. He was just as happy to play with an inner tube from the pool while in the room.
Special bag of toys!

Special bag of toys!

  • Crayons, notebook, coloring book, pens. Phoenix likes to draw, write and color, so I did make sure to pack these items.

    Journaling about his adventures...

    Journaling about his adventures…

  • Stickers. This probably entertained Phoenix the most on the plane. Just before leaving, Brad’s aunt had given Phoenix a Melissa and Doug book full of different scenes and reusable stickers. He loved peeling off the stickers and putting them on the page. Highly recommend this! He plays with it still at home as well!
Enjoying his new sticker book!

Enjoying his new sticker book!

Melissa & Doug Sticker Book.

Melissa & Doug Sticker Book.

  • I pad (with headphones). Just before leaving, Brad downloaded 2 “Jake the Pirate” shows so that Phoenix could watch them during the flight. If you had a longer flight, you could download a movie as well to keep your child (or self!) occupied.
Watching "Jake the Pirate"

Watching “Jake the Pirate”

Brad enjoying the Ipad AND cereal bar packed for Phoenix...

Brad enjoying the Ipad AND cereal bar packed for Phoenix…

Following our flight to and from…there is really only one thing that I wish I would have packed and did not:

  • A garbage bag! I wish I would have packed a grocery bag or even a zip lock bag for garbage. This would have came in handy!

So that’s how we traveled on a plane with a three year old. We enjoyed a relaxing and fun vacation at Clearwater Beach and can’t wait to go on our next adventure together!

Enjoying Clearwater Beach!

Enjoying Clearwater Beach!

Dandelion: Flower or Weed?

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When you look at a dandelion, what do you see? Do you see a weed or do you see a bright yellow flower? Our perception is our reality. One of my favorite lessons I teach to fourth grade centers on perspective and point of view. What might appear one way to an individual, may be seen in a completely different light through another’s eyes.

These past weeks, I have been stopped by children and their fascination  for the yellow flowers finally sprinkling our green grass. Phoenix started picking them about a week or so ago and has even went so far as to come knocking at the door to deliver me his prize position! Earlier this week, as I cruised down Locust Street on my way to work, again I paused as I saw one of my students bending over to pick a dandelion while meandering on his way to school. At recess, kindergarten students used much effort to gather as many yellow “flowers” to make a beautiful bouquet for their teacher. One even thought the teacher could have used it for a wedding bouquet!

Picking flowers for Mommy!

Picking flowers for Mommy!

"If there were no dandelions, there would be no flowers." - Kylie

“If there were no dandelions, there would be no flowers.” – Kylie

All of this got me thinking about perception. What if other things in our life were like this scenario…sometimes you think your yard is covered in weeds, but to someone else it may be a bouquet of flowers to share with someone they love. Sometimes when things seem bad, someone else may find a silver lining. And don’t forget…these yellow “weeds” soon turn to white, fluffy blooms that you can make a wish on.

Making wishes...

Making wishes…

Just when I thought dandelions couldn’t get any better to Phoenix, they turned white and fluffy. One day while waiting on Mommy and Gram, Phoenix discovered that if he kicked them, it could be great fun! “Mommy, can we go find some kickers at home?” he asked. When we go for a run now, we have to stop when we find a good spot to go and “kick.”

Exploring a whole field of "kickers!"

Exploring a whole field of “kickers!”

When I think of dandelions, I think of home. A yard full of yellow, is normal for a country girl. It’s hard to keep your yard free of those dandelions when you live out there. I think of sitting on the side of the road, and my Grandma Carol teaching me how to make dandelion chain link bracelets. She also told me you could fry them up for dinner, but I never went that far…and just today I read that in Amana, they make wine from dandelions!

Yes, green looks nice, but if my whole yard was green, how would I receive flowers of love randomly from my son?  How would children stop for nature?  When might someone make a wish?

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Our Favorite Things That Tell Us It’s Spring

While the past few days may not exactly feel like spring, there have been a few tastes of spring  this past month. I’m not sure about everyone else, but I have been or was in a rotten, crabby mood about the weather we have had between winter and now. When we get those little tastes of nice weather though, it really makes you appreciate the beauty around us in spring! Here are the little snip-its of spring we have “tasted” so far and are clinging to these past days!

Enjoying some outdoor time on Easter!

Enjoying some outdoor time on Easter!

Picking flowers (aka weeds) from the front yard. Phoenix is so proud to pick these little flower sprouting in our front yard!

First trip to the zoo for the season!

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Hunting Easter eggs outside (four times!)

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Flying kites in the country.

Phoenix riding his tractor…for hours…literally.

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Swinging in a hammock (twice in one Easter Sunday).

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Walks around town and up to the park.

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Coffee on our back porch.

Lunch bunches at the picnic table with students from school.

Swinging in the tire swing.

Chives sprouting from my herb bin!

Sunday afternoon drinks in the garage at Aunt Julie’s…storm clouds, hail and all!

Bubbles.

Sidewalk chalk.

Kickball, baseball, soccerball…all played outside and NOT in our hallway!

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I’m sure there are many more pieces I’ve missed, but this at least ties me over until May…which is just around the corner.

What tells you that spring has sprung?

A Picture Worth A Thousand Words

While I am by no means a professional photographer, if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you know that I have a passion for capturing moments on film. I love pictures. I love taking them. I love posting them. I love looking at them. Period. I suppose I got this from my mother, who also shares this “addiction.” And when I say, “addiction,” I mean “addiction.” I think she’s had more cameras then purses! Well…maybe not that many, but you catch my drift.

Last weekend, my mom and I had the opportunity to go to a FREE photography class at the Figge Art Museum called “Beyond the Snapshot – The Art of Building and Creating Fine Photographs.” There were several presenters including local news photographers and teachers. Here are some tidbits that I took away from our session…

A Good Photo:

Tells. A good photo tells a story. These are my favorite kind of photos, thus, probably ones that I take the most of.

A little boy's first hockey game.

A little boy’s first hockey game.

The story of a boy and a dog.

The story of a boy and a dog.

We know the story unfolding here!

We know the story unfolding here!

Teaches. A good photo teaches us about something when we look at it. Most of the photographs shared at our class taught us about the art of photography and gave me ideas about how to take photography to the next level.

Balloons taking off at the Balloon Festival

Balloons taking off at the Balloon Festival

A monarch butterfly. Makes me think of first grade in Mrs. Duty's class learning all about the transformation from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly!

A monarch butterfly. Makes me think of first grade in Mrs. Duty’s class learning all about the transformation from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly!

Running with daddy...

Running with daddy…

Touches. A good photo reaches out and touches. It touches your emotions, your thoughts…Perhaps this is where the phrase “a picture worth a thousand words comes from?”

One of my all time favorite moments captured by my mom of my Grandma, Phoenix and I.

One of my all time favorite moments captured by my mom of my Grandma, Phoenix and I.

I don't know if I'll ever grow old of this photo.

I don’t know if I’ll ever grow old of this photo.

The Golden Rule of Thirds
This rule suggests that an image should be imagined as being divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines. Important compositional elements (or photo subjects) should be placed along these lines or intersections.

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An example of a picture using the Rule of Thirds the right way.

An example of a picture using the Rule of Thirds the right way.

Angles
Work at taking photographs from different angles. Try taking a picture from down low…from up above…move the lense so it is at an angle to the picture you are taking.

Patience
This is a tough one…you have to be patient to get a great picture. This is especially true when you’re working with the subjects like I normally have – kids and dogs! Oh and the grandparents too! Just kidding, but seriously, why is it when you get the babies looking, the grandparents never are? Oh well…I digress…

Patience.

Patience.

My FAVORITE:

The BEST camera is the one that you have on you.

I thought this was so interesting coming from photographers who use thousands of dollars worth of lenses and cameras daily. However,

“It’s not the camera that makes the photo, it is the photographer.” 

Some examples of me using the camera I have “on me.” My phone! Ready to get an iphone though – just for the camera! lol

My new favorite picture...

My new favorite picture…

Reading under the Christmas tree...Sometimes you can catch a moment just perfectly!

Reading under the Christmas tree…Sometimes you can catch a moment just perfectly!

While I still have lots to explore on my camera to figure out what all those symbols and acronyms stand for, I at least have some background in the artistry of photography which is a start! Many more photographs to come!

Top 10 Reasons Why We Are Currently ‘Okay’ With Co-Sleeping…

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Yes. You read that right. Our son is 3, and we’re okay with the fact that he currently is sleeping with us. After some brief contemplation and decision to write this to make myself feel better and laugh, here are the Top 10 Reasons Brad and I are comfortable and accepting of this fact:

1. Key word = current. Phoenix hasn’t always slept in our bed…nor will he always sleep in our bed in the future. Like all other “trials” we have faced with raising our bouncing baby boy, this too shall pass and won’t last forever.

Catching some zzz's within the first few weeks after arrival!

Catching some zzz’s within the first few weeks of being a new mommy.

2. We go to sleep every night and wake up every morning next to the people (and animal) who mean most to us in our lives.

Brad and his boys...resting while they could.

Brad and his boys…resting while they could.

3. We appreciate each other more. I was always that sleeper that fell asleep or ended up wrapping myself around Brad during my sleep. Phoenix has clearly inherited this trait from me. I appreciate Brad for putting up with this for so long over the past years! Additionally, when I leave in the morning, and Phoenix then wraps himself on top of Brad’s sleeping head, Brad can then appreciate everything I have been through for the past hours.

4. More Sleep. Believe it or not, I go to bed earlier now than when Phoenix slept in his own crib/bed. By the time I would finally get him to sleep, showered and packed up for the next day, I always felt frustrated because I had no “me” time. Now, we still have a routine for bed, but as I have my “me time” reading or catching up on the ipad, it’s just happening lying next to my son.

Reading with my boys before bed!

Reading with my boys before bed!

5. Less Fighting. Sometimes, it seemed our time before bed was always a fight. We’d fight to get a bath, fight to put on jammies, fight to go to bed. I would be exhausted and before long, it seemed Brad and I would be fighting about fighting putting our son to bed. SO NOT WORTH IT! There have only been a couple times when voices were raised in the evening hours since switching to our current circumstances.

Daddy and mini me catching some zzz's...

Daddy and mini me catching some zzz’s…

6. Phoenix is a night owl. Brad is a night owl. I. AM. NOT. Need I say more?

Enjoying a Friday night in with my crazy night owl!

Enjoying a Friday night in with my crazy night owl!

7. There’s going to be a day when Phoenix isn’t going to want to snuggle with mommy, play with my hair and tell me he loves me. Today,however, is not that day.

Sleeping on mommy...favorite weekend nap spot.

Sleeping on mommy…favorite weekend nap spot.

8. Less Stress. Brad continually said to me, “I don’t know why you keep stressing about him sleeping in here!?” He didn’t care what everyone else did, and couldn’t understand why I kept obsessing over it. He only cared about what worked for us. Our son was happy. He seems like a pretty “normal, adjusted and fairly independent child” during the day. We were happy to get sleep. So why stress? 

Someone who clearly never stresses about the whole sleeping situation!

One person never stresses about sleep in our house. I’ll let you guess who…

9. We’re like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!” And who doesn’t LOVE “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?” I mean, Charlie’s GRANDPARENTS shared a bed for goodness sake, surely us sharing our bed with our young son isn’t worse than that, right?

Again - no one has to ask Kyson to go to bed more than once!

What? You mean you actually have to tell kids to go to sleep? Sounds ridiculous!

10. More of the Same…While endlessly obsessing, researching and ranting about this night time struggle in our lives, I grew to realize there seemed to be more people in our boat or that had BEEN in our boat than those who were not. WE ARE NOT ALONE!

Just like little boys like super heroes...some like to sleep with their mommy and daddy too.

Just like some little boys like super heroes…some like to sleep with their mommy and daddy too.

So, did I EVER think I would let our child sleep in our bed? NO. Funny thing is, when you actually have a child of your own, you realize how much of a survivalist you are. You start doing WHATEVER you can to get by. Everyone has their limits, but they can decide what they are.

There comes a time when  man realizes sleep must come anyway it can...

There comes a time when man realizes sleep must come any way it can…

Phoenix will not be our baby forever, just like he didn’t breastfeed forever, have a pacifier forever or wear a diaper forever. He will also NOT BE IN OUR BED FOREVER. However, whether he decides tonight, next week or next month if he’s going to sleep in his own bed or ours, we’ve decided to be “OKAY” with that for now…