Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dia de los Ninos

Last weekend was our Dia de los Ninos celebration at the library. We celebrated with dancing, singing, Brazilian dancers, Latin American dancers, Zumbini, and esteemed author, Carmen Deedy.

I was honored to meet our guest author, Carmen Deedy. She was fantastic!
You might think that all children's authors are sweet and kind and generous and just love people, but you'd be wrong. I won't name any names, but there have been some doozies who've come through. We've had authors who were drunk (yes!), some who were difficult diva-types, and some who were downright mean to the kids. We've also had some who are dynamic, fascinating, personable and relatable. That's who Carmen Deedy is. She was so passionate and inspiring. I am so thankful I got to meet her. She truly was wonderful! If you ever get a chance to meet her, please do. You won't regret it.

Today is the actual day of Dia! So, celebrate your children today!


Xander's been asking a lot about stepfamilies lately. Amelia Jayne got "Sofia the First" for Easter and we watched it for the first time the other day. If you don't know the story, Sofia's mother marries the king which makes Sofia a princess. She gains a stepfather, stepbrother and stepsister. And in turn, she becomes a stepsister and her mother, a stepmother. Anyway, the mother mentions how often stepmothers are portrayed as mean and bad, but that she wants to change that image. Xander asked me about Cinderella and her stepmother and stepsisters and we talked about how they were mean to Cinderella (he's seen the movie a couple of times, so he's familiar with that story).
There were many questions asked after that. I talked to Xander about how I have a stepmom, stepdad, stepbrother and stepsister. We talked about how much we love them and about how special they are. I told him that stepfamilies don't have to be bad. We talked about how Daddy doesn't have any step-parents or step-siblings and that not every family does.
It was an interesting conversation. I know the questions are just going to continue getting more and more complicated. For my black-and-white thinker, some things just don't make sense. I try to show him other perspectives or give him information on things that have gray areas. It's tricky, man.
It's funny to me, though, because even though he's curious he tends to be satisfied with basic information. He doesn't really delve much deeper than the surface. I'm thankful for that because I'm pretty sure his sister is going to want to know every little detail...

So in regards to stepfamilies, I love mine. I'm thankful for such special people that I never would have known if it weren't for hard circumstances. I count them as "extra blessings" in my family, which means more people to love. :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Funnies from the Littlest Littles

Me: Ooh, that's a pretty color. What color is it?
X: Orange
Me: It says "outrageous orange"
X: Yeah, 'rageous orange.

AJ: (very concerned) You have boo boo on you chin?
Me: I do.
AJ: I sorry, Mommy.
Me: It's okay. It doesn't hurt.
AJ: I sorry I hit you an hurt you chin.
Me: You didn't do that!
AJ: Xenon do it?
Me: No, mommy did it by accident.
AJ (very inquisitively, eyebrows furled): Your mommy?

We were in the car taking turns telling stories. Xander told his and AJ said in a most incredulous voice, "That amaaazing."

X: There's a plunch of balls in there.
Me: You mean a bunch?
X: No, there's a lot of balls. That's called a plunch of balls.

Me: Did you know Daddy and I went to kindergarten together?
X (skeptically): You did? Who was your teacher?
Me: His name was Mr. Seabrook.
X: Is he dead or something?
Me: No! I sure hope not!
X: Well, when's he gonna die?
??? I was dumbfounded with this one! Ha!

X: I don't want to watch Netflix. I'd rather watch huloop.
Me: Hulu?
X: Nah, huloop.
Me: Mm...okay.

Books I've Read Jan - Apr 2014

I can't believe I've been blogging about books I've read for 3 years now. My first installment of "Books I've Read" was in April 2011. Mainly I'm impressed that I've stuck with a blog topic for so long! Ha! Me and my distracted self...

I've never really had anyone ask me why I read what I do. I work in a library, so most people aren't curious about why you read what you read; they're more curious about what you read. I have an extremely eclectic taste in books. I'll read just about anything if it sounds interesting OR if I'm challenged to read it. That doesn't mean I get through every book that I pick up, but it does mean that I'll try out almost anything.
My favorite books tend to be young adult novels and biographies.
I do love a good literary fiction or historical fiction here and there.
I also love books on the Christian faith and parenting.
I enjoy fantasy, but don't always like sci-fi.
I do not care for manuals. If I need to learn something, I'd much rather someone show me than ask me to read up on it. But I love to research, so go figure.
Of course I love picture books and juvenile chapter books. I'm getting really excited about reading chapter books with Xander. We've started reading some like, The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark (because we went to see the play) and Magic Treehouse. I'm hoping to start Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little with him soon, some of my favorites from when I was a kid. And then there's the story that my Dad gave me to read to Xander - An Otter's Story  by Emil Liers - a book that my dad got when he was a little boy and then gave to me to read when I was about 8 yrs old or so. He gave it to me last Thanksgiving so that I could hand it down to Xander. Pretty cool to have a first edition of a book go through 3 generations.
(I also have a first edition of Stuart Little - that was one of David's favorites that his Gran read to him when he was young.)

Anyway, I read kind of a strange assortment of books to start out 2014. Lots of YA novels. A couple of classics. A historical fiction novel. A drama/thriller. A non-fiction. A Christian/parenting book.

It's been an interesting year so far. :)

Paper Towns
by John Green

Shocking that I started the year with a John Green novel, I know. This came out a few years ago, but I hadn't read it yet. Since I love John Green so much, I decided to try it out. He did not disappoint. Another good one. I would rank this one just under The Fault in Our Stars, my favorite Green novel.
Not my favorite ending, but a very fitting one.

Wuthering Heights
by Emily Bronte

I've decided to adopt some classics into my repertoire of reading. I've had this one on the shelf for a long time, plus it's a free download in iBooks. I can take this with me wherever I go. :) I was probably supposed to read this in English class or something, but I didn't. I'm a little embarrassed at all the classics I haven't read. One of my dear friends used to be a high school English teacher, so I dare not tell her of all the books I should have read, but didn't. Anyway, there's no better time to start than the present, right?

If I Stay
by Gayle Forman

This was certainly an interesting book and an interesting concept. A girl is in a car accident, but doesn't die instantly. She has an out-of-body experience where she sees herself and her loved ones dealing with all that happened. It didn't really end, so I'm going to read the sequel, Where She Went. I really want to know the rest of the story. :)

Where She Went
by Gayle Forman

In this story, told by Mia's boyfriend, we learn what happens after the accident. It's a great ending to the first book, If I Stay. I almost liked it better. Told by the boyfriend, this one had a more relatable feel to it and the overall storyline was more interesting to me.

A Prayer for Owen Meany
by John Irving

My dear Aunt Karen found this in a used bookstore while we were perusing the shelves and insisted that I read it. I really enjoyed it! It was sad and sweet, and mostly, thought-provoking. I'll admit that it took me awhile to read it. I couldn't just blow through it like I've done with some others. I'm glad I read it, though. Not sure if it counts as a classic since it's not that old, but my ex-English teacher friend had read it and taught it in her class...I say that makes it a contemporary classic. :)

by Ron Rash

Great book! The characters are fantastic, the story intriguing, and the language appealing. I would highly recommend this book. I decided to read it after seeing it was going to be made into a movie (with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper) and then realized it was by Ron Rash who wrote The Cove, which I read last year. It's set in the mountains of North Carolina (which I always find fascinating) in the 1920's. I'm interesting to see JL and BC in the roles of Serena and George Pemberton...they're not exactly who I pictured when I was reading the book, but I think it'll be interesting, nonetheless.

 The Dip
by Seth Godin

A great book for helping you overcome obstacles. A quick read, which I liked. I'm a "serial quitter" as Seth calls those who start things and quit in the middle of it. I'm horrible at this! I read this book to give me insight on how to follow through and become the best at what I do. Here's to hoping I can make it through the dip...and quit the right stuff!
 The Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger

Another classic that I never read. David read it in high school and asked why I chose that classic to read. I don't really know except that it's one I hear about frequently. It was a banned book at one point (though I still can't quite figure that out. In 1951, maybe, but it's been banned as recently as 2010...crazy to me!!). There always seem to be references to it and I always felt a little left out for not knowing them. Now I know. And I can't say I loved it (which is why David was curious about my choice). I read it and it's now in my repertoire, but it was not a book I would read again. It seemed a little pointless to me? And maybe that is the point, seeing as this is the first line to the book:
"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth."
Pretty much sums it up. :)

Dark Places
by Gillian Flynn

"Dark places" is right. Man. That was an extremely dark and intense book. Quite the mystery and very well written as to keep you guessing and interested. But,ugh. Certainly doesn't leave you feeling all happy inside.

The Maze Runner
by James Dashner

I seem to be very interested in these types of books lately - they're all the rage. Here is yet another YA series for me to read AND the movie comes out in September.
This novel started off a bit slow to me, but picked up speed after about 100 pages. A lot of confusion while you figure out the characters and learn why they're in the maze. You're learning everything at the same time the main character is figuring it all out. I liked it. It got very interesting toward the end and really flowed right into the second book.  

The Scorch Trials
by James Dashner
Whew! This was intense! It was a great book and I couldn't wait to go right into the third book. I liked it even better than the first one. It was riveting and scary and intriguing and a very enjoyable book overall.

The Death Cure
by James Dashner

I was ready to start this book as soon as I'd finished the second one. I was so into it that I just couldn't wait! It did not disappoint. It went in a slightly different direction than I anticipated, a much more political one, but it was definitely worth the read. The ending wasn't my favorite, but it was fitting for the story. Oh! And I found out there's a prequel. I suppose that means it's not really the end, right? Guess what's next on my reading list? ;)

by Veronica Roth

I read a summary and some reviews about this story after I found out it was going to be made into a movie. It was in my queue, but I didn't read it until March. I mentioned it at the beginning of the year to my SIL, Becky. She started reading it and loved it, so I decided to pick it up. It DEFINITELY has undertones of some other YA novels I've read, but I certainly liked all those other YA novels, so it's no surprise that I like this book, too. I had a hard time not comparing it to others (Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and even Harry Potter) while I was reading it, but it was enough of it's own story that I quickly got involved. If you like Young Adult novels, I say pick this one up.

by Veronica Roth

Technically I haven't finished this one yet, but I've started it. I'll let you know what I think when I'm finished. :)

Hands Free Mama
by Rachel Macy Stafford

I'm not exactly sure what to say about this book. It had some wonderful information. It was spot on about many things we need to let go of, and place more of our focus on what truly matters. I agree so much with many of these things. I was encouraged and felt a camaraderie with the author.
On the other hand, it was so annoying! I couldn't tell if I was feeling a wee bit judged (which would be my own personal problem) or if her Pollyanna attitude was getting on my nerves (which is saying something because I've been compared to Pollyanna on several occasions). Many of her anecdotes and stories got a tad redundant. Anyway, I will take many ideas and lessons from this book, but next time I may just read the bullet points.

Looking at this list of books, I now understand why I haven't been blogging much lately...I've been reading!!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

This time last year.

I was perusing what I was writing about this time last year. If you have a minute to look back, check out these pictures from this time last year...those sweet kiddos have grown so much!

One of the things I love about this blog is being able to look back and remember. I re-read this post from April 2013 and it made me smile and cry and smile some more. There are so many similarities between what happened last year and what's going on at the same time this year. I've handled some things better and some things worse. I'm learning to let go of some not-so-important things. I'm learning to hang on to what really matters. I'm learning to be more flexible.

At the end of May my parents and in-laws are going on a cruise together to celebrate Ame and Harry's 60th birthdays. I'll have to figure something out with childcare again, but because I have more options and plenty of heads-up, I'm feeling much more prepared to deal with the situation. Way better than I did last year. It still gets me flustered and discombobulated having to break our routine and figure out something different, but I hope I'm doing it with a little more maturity and grace this year.

Through looking back, I'm reminded just how amazing my husband really is. I love that he is so dedicated to his family and to his work. I am so incredibly thankful for him. He doesn't have deadlines this year, but he's making the transition to a brand new job. That's a pretty big deal! And although there is stress involved, he's handling it with ease and grace. I'm so thankful for his example and his attitude.

My kids are growing up. We have a different set of challenges and trials than we did last year, but the ones we had last year are gone. It's not easy, but I feel like it's easier. The kids are growing, getting more independent each week. They don't require quite as much from me. We know each other better. Each day we spend together we're learning each other. That makes it easier for me. Some days are harder than others, but I'm learning to accept those bad days as just that - bad days. And we move on to the next day which is hopefully better than the last.

And the thing that hasn't changed? God's grace is sufficient. It is sufficient now, it was sufficient then and it will forever be sufficient. And His Love endures forever.

David's news

David has a new job!
His last day at Neighboring Concepts was yesterday. He starts at Shook Kelley next Tuesday. We are excited for this transition. David worked at Shook Kelley from 2005-2009. He knows a lot of the folks that are still there and really enjoyed working there a few years ago. It'll be an interesting transition - since working there 5 years ago he is now a registered architect, has worked contract and permanently at multiple firms, gaining much more experience in a variety of areas. He was flattered when Terry Shook called him and asked him to come back and he's thankful for an opportunity to influence and make a difference in the community through this firm.

I am so proud of my husband and the work he does. I am thankful for this change and hopeful for the future!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Discovery Place Kids

For Xander's birthday, he got a year membership (and his family did, too!) to Discovery Place Kids. We've already been twice in the past month. The kids absolutely love it!
There is so much to do. Themed areas like an airport, doctor's office, vet, construction site, café, grocery store, bank, and farm. There's a huge water table, train table, fire truck, fitness area, and  underwater world. They have story times, puppet shows, craft areas, and dance parties. We spent 5 and a half hours there the first time (we had gone with friends who wanted to get their money's worth) and then 3 and a half hours the second time. My kids could go for many hours each week and still love it. There's that much to do!
AND it's only 20 minutes from our house. Awesome!
Water Table

Music Area

Fitness Area

Puppet Show

Doctor's Office

Band-aid on the boo boo

Fire Station
(with real fire truck!)
Underwater World

And that girl was still playing even on our walk to the car. :)
Balance beam?


We met up with Mimi and Grandma one day to eat lunch and go shopping.

This craft is so cool! If you have preschoolers, I recommend it. I keep it in my purse at all times and pull it out when we have to wait anywhere. It's great! Thanks, pinterest. :)
My sister's family got a new dog in March. He's a little confused since they can't seem to stick with a name. :)
He's mini-Cooper.
He's Wicket.
He's dog.
He's absolutely adorable.
He reminds me of the dog I had growing up, Brandy, so I call him L'il Brandy.
I think he'll be a rapper when he grows up.

Kindergarten registration

Yes, you read the title correctly. It's already that time! Can you believe it? I know, me neither. I can't believe my boy will be going to kindergarten in the fall.

I registered him last week, which basically meant I got a lot of papers together to take to the school to verify that he is who we say he is, he's the right age, and he lives in the correct area for that school. I filled out a bunch of forms when I got there and got a tour of the school. I opted to go on a day that the kids were with their grandparents because I knew I wouldn't be able to absorb all the information if I was distracted by little ones and all their questions. :)

I am so excited for Xander. I just know he's going to love school and I am pumped for him! I may be crying over bouquets of sharpened pencils when the fall comes, but for now I am overjoyed for this next step in our lives.

Kindergarten, here we come. :)

American Girl

If you don't know anything about American Girl, I suggest you check it out here.
The only thing I really knew until recently is that you can buy dolls, books and accessories from the company, but I really didn't know much about it.
There are historical dolls, the girl of the year, My American Girl dolls, and bitty babies.

My mom called me a few weeks ago and asked if I'd be interested in going to an American Girl fashion show with her and Kaitlyn. My sister's not really into that kind of thing, so she didn't want to go. When mom asked me I was so excited, even though I really didn't know what it would entail. Kaitlyn has the "My American Girl Doll" which looks like her. My sister even French braided their hair to match. So cute!

We had a great time! It was at the Embassy Suites in Winston-Salem, which Kaitlyn kept exclaiming was "so fancy!" We got to walk around and see vendors/exhibitors before the show started. The show was very interesting and informative - I loved hearing about and seeing all the outfits from the different time periods for the historical dolls. The little girl models were so cute!

Amelia Jayne will love it when she's older, but she was too young this time. I can't wait to take her! I would love to get her into something like this. She already loves dolls and there are so many things we could do to extend her enjoyment. I've mentioned it before, but I am so excited for the opening of an American Girl doll store in Charlotte this fall.

Checking in
Our table

Waiting to go into the fashion show
Getting her nails done

the final product (matched her doll's dress perfectly!)

Petting a horse

A horrible attempt at a selfie, by me

Kaitlyn and Mimi

Ame's 60th birthday

Happy 60th birthday to the one we call Grandma! She turned 60 on April 9th.
Here's a video of a few of us singing a song that we wrote in her honor.
She's always written songs for each of us on our milestone birthdays, so we decided to do the same for her - to one of her favorite songs, "All for the Best" from the musical Godspell.

We love you, Grandma!!

Krispy Kreme

One Friday morning I called up my friend Crystal and asked if she and her daughter, Keira, wanted to join us at Krispy Kreme. Xander had a coupon that was expiring and I'd promised him we would go. We ended up spending over an hour there, the kids playing while Crystal and I visited. We were interrupted multiple times by potty breaks (both our girls had on big girl panties that day) and questions, but it was so relaxing and refreshing for my soul. :)

Park Days

Although it is unusually cold today, we've had some beautiful spring days lately. We've taken advantage of a few of them and gone to the park. I'm excited that we have two parks in our neighborhood that we can play on. I plan to frequent them a lot this summer!