Sunday, June 29, 2008

If They Can't Watch TV...

I've been doing three simultaneous Bible studies. Two are within groups at church, one is an ebook that I won in a blog give-away. They are all starting to melt together and it's amazing, how I see God giving me the information and guidance I need, just as I need it.

One is a book about praying for your husband and being a supportive wife. This is a role I never considered being active in. I am slowly learning what the Bible says about being a team player in your marriage and in your family. I am far from perfect in my marriage, but feel like the effort is as important as the outcome.

The second is a devotional study in the Sunday School class I attend. We are talking about renewing the mind to heal the spirit. It is speaking to me so personally. I am learning so much.

The third is a Beth Moore retreat called Loving Well. It is a four part series that I'm studying with the women in my church on Monday nights. It is a Biblical study of loving others, especially those who are hard to love.

It's been interesting, to see how the three studies are coming together and enriching my life. I hope that I can articulate it well enough to post on it later this summer, as my studies come to an end and I move on to new and exciting topics. A goal of mine is to never stop learning and growing. To always be in search of knowledge that will enrich my life.

This week I will be continuing all three studies, as well as celebrating Independence Day with family. I will also be spending the week with my kids and taking B to swim lessons in the mornings. Tomorrow we will spend at the Hubs sister's, helping out with her kids while she goes to the dentist. It is a full week and I am blessed to be able to spend it with friends and family, enjoying the summer days.

I told my B that we could watch a movie today (our kids are turning into movie junkies, just like their mom and dad) but that the rest of the week, the t.v. is staying off. We are going to unplug this week. And tune in to each other. The studies I've mentioned above also mention the noise in our life and how it can be difficult to even think, if the noise gets too loud. There's been plenty of noise in my life recently, more than I had bargained for.

This means for me, a week off from writing or reading online. I'll continue to email, since I even tend to use that as much as the telephone to stay in touch with others. Other than that, I'll be offline for this week.

I hope that your summers are going as great as mine. I will be back next weekend, to read and write again. I will miss it, but feel like it's time to slow down. To calm down. To buckle down.

Until then...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Making Due with the Space We've Got

Orgjunkie does a monthly round-up, collecting posts from people about a specific room in their house that they're organized. This month it's playrooms.

This would be one area in our home that we struggle with a lot. We live in a modest size home, the rooms are not large and we do not have an extra room for a playroom. Couple that with two kids that have too many toys, and you've got a mess! Our t.v. room has become a playroom, because it's where the majority of toys are stored. Both kids have toys in their room and then several big sets of toys in the t.v. room.

The things we have done to up the storage are to have the Hubs' dad build some shelving with storage cupboards and a lego table I recently picked up at a garage sale (score!). It was a drive-by find, we were on our way to the grocery store.

This room gets horribly messy, especially when the kids have had a whole day in there, which has been a lot lately with all of the rain we've been getting. A new goal we've tried (try being the operative word) to maintain is having the kids pick up their messes a few times throughout the day, so that the toys don't go knee-deep! I've also weeded out toys a few times a year so that things they don't really play with or that they've outgrown get passed on to someone who would use them.

My biggest challenge recently has been to instill some good habits into my children. With a 4-year old and a 2-year old, it can be like having two tornadoes in the house 'round the clock. We are trying to teach them that they are responsible for their own messes. If anyone has tips or tricks on how to make this work, let me know!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Fresh Coat of Paint

This post is about three weeks late ~ I intended to post this while it was happening. Ah, well...

Bye-bye yellow house.

Welcome, OM family, to the Brown House Club.

We are going to add black shutters to the two second-floor windows and our front door is red. It feels like a new house when we pull up and I really do like it. Even if I miss my cheery, yellow house. Home is where your heart is, and mine is right here.


Here's how it goes at my house.
"Mommy, I want juice."

No, Son, we don't have any juice. We're going to the store this morning.

"I want juice. I go to fridge. I get it myself."

We don't have juice. Please stay out of the refrigerator, I'll be downstairs in just a minute.

(I am still in bed, still tired, a little out of it.)

Little man heads downstairs, despite my requests that he stay with me for a minute. On the way, he says a few choice phrases. "Stop it!" "I get juice myself!"

I finally make it downstairs (2 long minutes later).

My Little Man meets me around the corner as I come down the stairs, a remorseful look on his face. A demolished stick of butter in his hands.

That is NOT juice! I tell him.
"Here go, Mom."

Giving us his commands.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I can't quite figure it out.

I feel sad because none of my truly close friends live in the city that I do and I've been unsuccessful at finding a new close friend. I want someone I can call in a pinch and be at their house in 5 minutes. Someone to go see the new movie with me that doesn't need a two-week advanced notice. I've come to the conclusion that it's really hard to make friends as an adult. How do you get to know someone past the small talk if you've never held their hair while they puke in the ditch?

I am always wishing for a busy social calendar.


When things get super busy...

All I want to do is stay home and hide out!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What The?

What is with all of the UK Lottery winnings? Why am I being spammed with this? And someone emailing that they are leaving all of their riches to a charity that I can be part of? What is this and where have I been that I am getting spammed with this?

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Question for the Masses

If you read an article entitled 'Creative Parenting' (which I have not yet read) on a parenting web site and then implement suggestions from said article...

Is it really creative?

Aw, I'm only kidding, Wondertime. I just get tired of creativity, apparently. I'm just grumpy. Lots.

We Gave Back

Last winter, I felt compelled to join a challenge that involved upping the ante in my personal life. I was going to give back.

Whether true or not, I feel that my profession has been a calling. I have been working with people who have disabilities for about ten years. This has been something that was not planned by me, but something I stumbled into junior year and never left. It is perhaps a gift, it has always fulfilled me. I love my work now, as I'm able to teach young people with disabilities functional skills that will serve to transition them to the next step in their lives, be it our district's transition program (kids with special needs may attend public school until they are 21) or a job after high school.

This past spring semester, my co-teacher and I taught a unit on community service. We taught kids about giving back to the community, what types of community service are available, and why someone would participate in a volunteer job. Students used the internet to look up local agencies where they could possibly volunteer. I also had them present what they learned about service to the rest of the class.

In May, we went to a camp run by Boys & Girls Club. We worked for an hour and a half helping them clean up their camp. Half of the group helped to move a pile of branches off of their volleyball courts to another spot and the other group picked up litter along their fenceline. Every student helped. It was hot and it was hard work. Many complained, but everyone worked.

When we were finished, we went inside for sack lunches and a presentation about Boys & Girls Club and what they are all about. The staff there told our students that they provided about $500 worth of service that day and that it was 50 hours of work that we saved them. It was a great day.

When we got back, I emailed the staff at our school. I presented them with a definition of achievement and stated that it comes in many forms. I told my fellow teachers that on that day, my students demonstrated proficiency in community service. It struck a nerve and I received many emails back from colleagues praising our students. Then my principal asked that the photos I had taken be put on the front page of our school's website. My special education director was so proud, she asked that it be put on our district's web page as a news item, and it was! What a positive message that was shared, not to mention how proud my students were to be local celebrities on the internet!

Not only did my students learn about giving back to the community, but so did I.
As I teach, I always learn.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Like Father, Like Daughter

She has refused to wear pants or shorts for the past year. Then today, "Mommy, I don't want to wear a skirt, I want shorts. I like shorts now!" I cut off a pair of jeans from winter, so she could wear shorts. I bought no shorts this year because last year she wouldn't wear them!

When I was dating her dad, he wrote me a letter outlining a few things I should know about him. He wrote that he is always contradicting himself.

I should've known what I was in for.
I do now.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I need some help getting my dining room put together. It is connected to our living room, which is where the computer desk and our "nice" furniture is. The couches are a pale green. I'm thinking of putting up a curtain rod and some sheer curtains. I also want to put a narrow shelf (I have 18 in.) to house some our our learning materials, since this is where B and I have been doing our summer learning activities.

Here's the dilemma: should I get two shelves to put on each side of the window? Or just get one and find something decorative to put on the other side. I realize this is a taste thing, based on whether you like symmetry or not? Keep in mind it's a tight spot, not an extra inch of space to spare. But I still want to know what people think would look better. Here you will find an example of what kind of shelf I'm looking into getting. I also like this very much. Would it look odd to have two different shelves on each side? Like the metal shelves on one side and the wicker basket shelves on the other? Should it be the same on each side of the window? I just don't know which way to go: classically symmetrical or modern and unsymmetrical, which is obviously why I'm asking for others' opinions.

Here is a [crappy] picture our our dining room. Never mind the full table, I'm in project mode this morning and working there. It "usually" looks pristine [ha].

Okay - thoughts?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Before I Was a Mom...

  • I had a table runner on my dining room table that matched the tableclothes on the end tables in the adjoining living room.
  • I had a crystal candle trio.
  • I burned candles.
  • I painted my fingernails.
  • No one had ever pooped in my hand.
  • I thought about myself and who I was and what I wanted...a lot.
  • I knew nothing of love, trust, fear, anger, or pride.
  • I was happy.
  • I was not as happy as I am today.

I embrace it. I own it.

Being a mom is my very favorite thing/role/job/time.

Each season of my life has led me to where I am now, I don't pretend to know how wonderful things may become. I just know that where I am, right now, feels exactly how I thought being 30 would feel.

What a relief.

I've got a formatting question. (Alpha Dogma, I'm counting on your wisdom here...)

If you save a draft, to be published later, how do you publish it with the current date when you finally do publish it?

I've got a post that I quite enjoyed. I had published it accidentally, then went back and saved it as a draft. Then in two days, when I finally published it, it was four posts down the page. (By the way, it's a fun little post about home organization, my latest obsession).

So how do you change the date? Thoughts?

Getting There

Since school's been out (two weeks), I've been on a home organization kick. I have been inspired by orgjunkie, whose posts help get my brain thinking like an organized person, not my default setting! I have also surrendered to flylady, who helps keep me on a semi-routine. I thought I'd share a few of my latest projects.

I have made peace with the fact that our home does not have many of the modern touches that I would like. We are limited on space and the design does not allow for many of the things on my wish list, like a mud room, desk in the kitchen for home management, closet space, etc. I'm making due now and trying to get it to work for us. I made a control center in our kitchen, next to my free standing pantry. On top is a file box (some day to be replaced by a "pretty" one). Next are cookbooks, then place mats, and on the bottom are reusable grocery bags. It's still a work in progress, I tweak it as I find other ways use it.

We now have a family calendar, right by the control center and phone in the kitchen. It is great and has lots of space to mark what everyone has going on. Although the two-year old doesn't need spaces a lot, I have used it for his well-child appointment and for when do things as a family.

I organized the standing pantry that I have in the kitchen (it's next to our control center). I got some baskets to hold breakfast items and snacks. Below that are baking supplies. On the bottom shelf are trash bags, paper cups and plates, a phone book, a lunch box, and a flashlight. The very top shelf looks a little disorganized, but I know everything on the shelf. It holds shopping bags that I reuse, baggies, a first aid kit, my foil and wax paper, and tea bags.

I decided to make a "mud room" in our garage, by the door we use to come in and out of the house. The bench in our living room had become the dumping ground for coats and the floor there was always piled with shoes. I decided maybe this open space by the door out in the garage might work. I hung some hooks, all by myself! Now we have a place for seasonal outdoor needs (swimsuits and umbrellas now, mittens and hats in 6 months). I also have the kids keep their shoes here, so that we always know where they are and it cuts down on dirt in the house. So far it's working great and I love it!

There are enough hooks that I can hang the kids' swimsuits to dry. Next winter there will be snow suits and scarves, hats and coats. It's definitely nothing fancy, but I am making the best of the space we have and trying to use it in a way that helps us in our new routines!
What I have been learning through all of my little projects is that it's important to give a home [in your home] to anything that is important to you. If it matters, you will find a place for it. I tend to "store" things on my kitchen counters or on top of my computer desk. I'm still a long way from done, I'd actually be very embarrassed to show a picture of either spot in my home right now. Every day, I chip away at the chaos, getting a little bit closer to where I want my home to be. When I get frustrated, I remind myself of the small gains I've made.

Each project that I finish brings me a bit closer to the home I've envisioned. The home that is harmony.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I've made a conscious decision that I'm not going to watch crime dramas any more. I'm also not watching scary movies, murder mysteries, or police shows.

I believe that it is not good for those images to be in my mind. When I started to picture bad things happening to me when home alone, I realized I needed to stop putting the ideas in there.

I found myself more fearful than I had been in the past. I worried about really odd things happening, like dark men lurking outside of my window, waiting to see if my husband was home. Creepy people waiting in my hallway, crouching in wait to grab me. For what?

The show I really, really like is CSI. I still do. A mystery, a set of clues, it is an awesome show. The problem being that the stories stuck with me and crept into my daily walk. That is not okay.

Suddenly, I've become a person who thinks that perhaps it is not good that people are playing really violent games and listening to really violent music and watching really violent images on the t.v. and in movie theaters. If you are a person who is a visual learner, like me, those things stick in your mind.

Thankfully, I am able to distinguish fantasy from reality and my mind is able to shut off those images when they pop up. Some people are not so lucky, I think this leads to really bad things. I'm not saying that violent media is the sole reason for violence carried out. I do believe it is harmful to watch and listen to violent media to excess. It has to play a part, it has to negatively a person's perception of violence. If nothing else, it desentizes a person to violent images. That isn't good either.

It's something that's been on my mind recently. It's the reason why my t.v. viewing has gone from CSI to Top Chef and American Idol. I've also been watching a lot of Super Why and Word World. I am choosing not to watch violent shows from here on out.

Another Day

Exiling Elmo Update I:

So far, the large pink Care Bear and a small black dog have been freed from their chilly barrel in the basement. My B was so excited and knew exactly why she was getting to go down there to get one.

She missed out on getting one at lunch time today. We went to the zoo and when it was time to leave, she did her standard "NO!" only in a sort-of high-pitched scream. At that point, I told her that there would be no animal because that was not okay. She did not pitch a fit, but instead said, "I understand mom. Next time I will just try to tell you. I'm just a little young for that." (Now where did that come from?). She totally gets it though and it seems to be clicking.

My hope is that the next time we need to leave a place that is fun, she'll remember a different way to show her disappointment. I've told her several times that she can be mad or sad or glad and she can tell me all about it. She just doesn't have to do it while screaming and laying on the floor.

I agree that it is a process and it may just take a little time. I also recognize that I'm not going to let a bad habit that has gotten embarrassing affect her development and relationship with others.

I was a teary and emotional child. One who sometimes was called a 'bawl baby', even by close relatives. Perhaps it is better to try to teach a different way of communicating. Instead of just belittling the way it is now.

I'm certainly doing my best. And so is my B.

Breaking news - 8:00 PM: A bendy-legged giraffe has just been sprung. The prison at casa OM continues to shrink. Her pride beamed. I'm now the best mommy ever. It's all good, for now. The best part is that she's getting positive reinforcement without adding to the piles of toys. And she's loving it!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Exiling Elmo

The Hubs and I grew up in homes where our parents lived month to month. Parents who worked very hard for the money they earned. Parents who didn't have a lot of extra income to splurge. We remember wanting things that we never did get. We remember being told no. Lots.

This is NOT a bad thing.

I do feel though, that it has affected the way we parent now. The whole 'giving our kids what we didn't have' thing. Conscious or not, I think that affects the yes or no dilemma at the check out stand. Oh, what the heck, it's only $3.

I read this brilliant quote which I'm sure to butcher here. Something about my generation (or maybe my parents' generation? or maybe both...) being so busy giving our kids what we didn't have, that we are forgetting to give them what we did.

It is important to me that my kids are not spoiled. That they not become the kids who think they are entitled to getting their way. That they be humble and polite and kind. It is really important to me. So much so, that sometimes it leads me to shout at my four-year old.

I grabbed them each a toy on my way out the door. I saw a doll that my B had been looking for and thought that would be a fun way for them to entertain themselves in the van while I drop off a meal for a fellow church member who just had a baby and then while we drive to the Hubs school to take him lunch. Instead of being thankful, my B started whining that what she really wanted was her Elmo doll (that's who was singing on the radio). I said no. My B struggles with accepting no, it's something we've been working on and talking about.


She's really crying now and I lose it. Right in the van.

Why can't you be grateful for the doll I brought you??? (said very, very loudly)
Why do you have to cry and whine when you don't get things exactly your way???
I don't like it when you act like this!!!

Here I am, trying to teach her to use words and stay calm, but yelling so loud that it's straining my voice.


We talked about it on the way home. I apologized for losing my temper. B promised that next time she would be thankful for the toy. We also talked about what was going to happen next.

Every soft toy she's got, except for one that she can keep out, is going into a blue barrel that I usually use to haul laundry. All of them.

Each day at lunch and each night at bedtime, she will be able to choose one to bring out of the barrel. All she's got to do is stay calm and use words when she's upset. I told her she doesn't have to be a perfect robot, and that she's bound to get upset, but we're not doing the crying/whining/plopping on the floor bit any more. I don't think it's too much to ask. She'll still get a warning. But she's going to have to earn back every soft animal she's got. And there are a few.
Poor little guys, exiled to the basement
This made her very sad, but she understands. It made me sad too. I figure we've gone the punitive route for long enough. It isn't working to decrease the behavior. While this is a punishment right at the start, as I'm hauling her animals out of her room, she will now get two rewards a day. I don't have to buy anything new, but it will seem like a gift for her every day. The best part is, that I hope it also teaches her to be grateful for what she has. Those stuffed animals are her favorite toys and what she plays with the most. Perhaps by the time she's earned them all back, her bad habits (tantrums, whining, crying) will be extinct. There are enough animals in there that this little project could last a couple of weeks, depending how many times she loses it. I'm picturing many teachable moments in the weeks to come.

We'll see how it goes.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Feeding Time

I realize I let you guys eat all sorts of things for breakfast. I realize that we've had sugar-sweetened cereal, ritz with peanut butter, toast with cinnamon and sugar, any fruit that you want, granola bars, even cookies every now and then. I know that it's a strange place to draw my line in the sand, but do I have to say it every morning? NO POPSICLES FOR BREAKFAST!!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Menu Plan for June

When we got back from Florida, my mind raced and raced. I honestly thought I was losing it, I couldn't slow down the barrage of things going through it. To help, I started to get myself organized. It calmed me down a lot.
One of my tasks as to make a supper menu for June. It was so easy, to think of what to make each night, for the entire month. Last week's meals were super-simple, because we had VBS each night. This weekend, I went all out, with Father's Day to celebrate. I picked three new recipes to try in the month of June from my Casual Cooking Pampered Chef cookbook. It's something I've had for five or so years, and never used. I also picked a recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook, a new entree we've never tried before.

As far as the menu plan goes, the week that we had VBS, I put on my menu plan that we would have mac n' cheese one night. Tortillas w/ cheese and fresh salsa another. Fast and simple. Something that has stopped me from planning during weeks like that in the past is that it seems too easy. That if you're making a menu plan, it all has to be four course meals with new recipes. Not so. I've simplified and it made all the difference.

This weekend, we had a new recipe, Citrus Shrimp Skewers. So good (we had it for supper tonight). That will be simple to make again with no recipe. The juice of two limes and two lemons , 1/2 C orange marmalade, a little garlic, parsley, a dash of ground red pepper. A tablespoon of veggie oil. I marinated the shrimp on the skewers and then grilled them. You reserve a little of the marinade to baste them with on the grill. They were sooooo good.

So we are good to go for June. This week, we are having Broccoli and Chicken w/ noodles stir fry. I'm making Uncle Ben's fried rice from a box to go with it. We are also having pulled pork sandwiches. I'm making the pork for folks from church that I'm making meals for and am going to save some back for us. Super easy and so good!

I also left Fridays for pizza or take-out and left Saturdays blank for us to be flexible. I wanted to keep it easy.

The best part about the plan is that now we've shopped ahead one week at a time and even if I switch the nights around a little (I always do), I've got the plan in place to help me with a jumping off point.

We're eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies now, so that makes great snacks and side dishes. I even cut the fruit up in different ways and call it dessert. The kids love it. Oh and popsicles, they love popsicles!

Some stand-by favorites for meals are BLT sandwiches. Grilled anything. My new shrimp recipe, for us grown ups anyway. For whatever reason, my kids love hot dogs. So we've usually got a pack of those in the fridge. Right now, we're eating 99% fat free ones from Hebrew National. They're actually tasty and my kids like 'em.

My main goal is to keep it all stress free. I've been trying to keep up with the dishes as we go. Some days that works better than others. One thing I have found out is that I like to plan suppers for a whole month. I'm going to try it again for July. It takes the weekly crunch of planning out of the equation. Hopefully it will also work when we're back to school. Hope nice it would be for it to be this easy!

Friday, June 13, 2008

On My Mind

Lately, I'm thinking on and trying to figure out a plan for:
  • fun weekly summer outings (there are almost too many to choose from here)
  • getting back on my healthy eating kick
  • exercise - getting myself to the gym
  • farmer's market
  • behavior modification through positive behavior supports (my almost 5-year old has developed a few bad habits, like hitting me with her shoe, for example)
  • summer bridge activities for my soon-to-be kindergartener, you know, the one with the nasty shoe-hitting habit
  • being a homemaker, especially with regards to getting organized
  • budgeting, especially since we just found out we'll be needing to purchase new windows
  • menu plans
  • daily/weekly/montly routines

Lions, and Tigers, and Bears, Oh MY!!!

Seriously, I've got a lot going on in my brain lately. Too much. So I make lists and lists.

So much for slowing down for the summer!

TO BE FAIR: B has only hit me with her shoe once. It was Monday, when I told her it was time to leave the park. She was trying to get my attention about something, her croc was in her hand, she gave me a "pat" on the shoulder. I guess it stuck with me as an example of what not to do if you are four and want your mom's attention. I shouldn't really call it a habit, to be fair.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

To Do

Why is it easier to read about/write about/make lists about/think about the things I need to do than actually do them? Sigh.

I'm a much better wife/mother/homemaker in my mind.

Each day I plan to do better than the day before.

Now I'm going to go do the dishes and change out the laundry.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I have to say, our trip to Florida was just what the doctor ordered. My brother, sister, their spouses and kids, and our parents all stayed in a ginormous rental house a block away from the most gorgeous beach I've ever seen. We spent from Saturday to Thursday morning together, all together. We all had lunch by the beach at a place called the Crab Trap and enjoyed a shrimp boil back at the house that very night. One evening my sister and I spent until 4:30 in morning having a very deep talk about nothing at all. Our kids played and played and played (not until 4:30 in the morning, but close). There was a pool out back, so they went straight from beach to pool to meal time and back to the beach every day.

It was awesome!

I'll leave you with a few pics. The really good beach ones are on my sis' camera, since I was too chicken to take mine to the beach. She got some great shots that I'll share when she sends them my way.
Walking along the harbor so the kids could see the boats!

It amuses the locals, how excited we get to see a pelican!

Outside of the The Crab Trap

Goodbye, Florida!

Hello, Nebraska! My two frozen babies, waiting for daddy to pull the car around.

Who Is This Really Punishing?

If you hit me with your shoe on Monday, you get no TV on Tuesday. A painful consequence, to be sure. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I realized I would also miss having those cartoons come morning!

My newest addition to our routine is no TV between 10-4, but upon rising in the morning, we really like Mickey's Clubhouse.

Ah well, maybe next time I won't get hit with a shoe when it's time to go home from the park! Here's hoping.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


As I bite through the turnip that I bought this morning at the farmer's market, I think of my Grandpa Maurice. The flavor floods my mind and heart with memories of my childhood.

He and my grandmother lived in a two-story white house on the highway. They had a huge garden that produced most of the vegetables we ate all summer. My grandfather always got me to try new things, despite my objections. Turnips, radishes, parsnips. He would make parsnip patties and fry them in his electric skillet on the countertop. I remember thinking they were the best thing I'd ever eaten.

My grandfather has been gone for 12 years now, but he is still so vivid in my memory. Today I didn't miss him quite as much, as I remembered how much I like turnips.

I think I'll sign off now and look up a recipe for parsnip patties.

Grandpa, I love you still. Always.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Detox Day

We returned for Florida this morning at about 1:15. The kids ate cheetos outside the airport while we waited for the Hubs to pull around the van. I felt like mom of the year, my two tired bundles, eating junk food past midnight, sitting in the designated smoking area, freezing cold and completely exhausted. I had to bundle them up in my hoodies from the suitcase. We were definitely not in Florida anymore. It was cold and rainy and my kids were wearing tank tops.

We fell into our beds with a weight that I cannot describe. Our vacation was wonderful, but something I can't really articulate right now. I want to write on it later, when the words are not jumbled with the blur of excitement and emotion of the past week. Today I am letting it all sink in. We were there. We made it.

And now we are home.

Today I have summer on the brain and have enjoyed spending the morning reading everyone's posts on what they plan to do. Rocks in My Dryer (sorry, too lazy today to even do links) used Works for Me Wednesday to talk about summer activities. Beck has touched on the topic too.

I had this euphoric feeling this morning, this being my first day "off" of summer, now that our school year is over. Being a teacher, there is this exhausting push at the end of the year. We left for Florida about twelve hours after the end of my school year. Today it's hitting me - we are really off now.

So I have activities on the brain. Answers for the questions of what I want to accomplish this summer. I'll be doing some planning and list making today. Trying to get an outline of a plan. My B starts kindergarten this fall, so I have a goal in mind of helping her retain all of the wonderful learning that she received at her preschool this past year. She won't be taking naps in the afternoons now, so my plan is to do some of those things while her brother sleeps.

I had an aha! moment yesterday, realizing how much better my kids get along, how much more pleasant they are, when I really tune in and give them my full attention and energy. I have some goals of my own this summer on that front. That while we do activities and try to establish some routine, we also spend the summer together. Really together.

We'll spend the summer between the zoo, children's museum, the pool at our gym, the playground, and maybe a few day trips to other local attractions. We will also clock many backyard hours. Spend time with cousins. Unwind.

Today we are detoxing from the trip.
Tomorrow starts the rest of our summer.
At the risk of sounding cheesy, I am so excited about it all - I can hardly breathe.