Wednesday, June 06, 2012

A Night In Town

I love living near enough to Austin that it's no big deal to go into town for events. One of my favorite events is the summer symphony series offered at the Long Center. It is part of the Hartman Foundation "Concerts in the Park". I think I love the casualness of the events and the fact that they happen weekly. They are a great way to end the weekend that can tend to get a little chaotic.
Last Sunday was the first weekend of the summer and the first of the concert series. Nathan and I wanted to go listen to the beautiful strings play various movie songs while just relaxing in the open air. The kids put up quite the struggle about going. It got to the point where I almost caved and didn't go. I just don't like doing things that will be more stressful because of their poor attitudes. I know that the symphony is not the highlight of their summer, but they just need to give a little since I spend my week getting them to and from their events. I finally convinced them to play along by reminding them that they can bring board games to play on the picnic blanket. I kept a little treat for them a secret.
Besides listening to the symphony and the wonderful down time, I love some of our traditions with this event. Our family typically has a picnic dinner while out there. The kids love to picnic. We've done it where we pack our own food, but our favorite thing to do is go to Whole Foods downtown and grab a bunch of finger foods and special drinks that we don't usually splurge on. This time we just got hungry before leaving and had dinner at home. What we did do that was special was stop at Sandy's, an amazing totally Austin restaurant, for shakes. If you have never been, you must! They have excellent burgers as well as shakes! It was a great substitute for the wine we usually have.
This time we make it down there just in time for the concert so we get to sit a bit farther out than usual. It's OK because we are right in the path of the speakers. The conductor is a bit nervous and it's obvious. She almost forgets to welcome the audience and introduce the strings. All of the musicians out there are volunteers who are part of the Austin Symphony Orchestra. She tells us that she is a high school orchestra director and that her co-worker has created these amazing versions of famous movie songs. Only some are recognizable because they did not pick title songs and I love that!
The kids have the picnic blanket out and are playing games. Only a few times do we have to interject that just because my students play this way does not mean that it's the standard rules or that they should play that way. A few mini social skills moments where I have to talk to them about agreeing on the rules before playing the game, but oh well. Then I make the mistake of telling Nathan that I might actually have to learn how to play chess. Darn smart phones! He downloads chess and we play a game, but I'm going with it. No, I do not remember the rules about who goes where and such.
One thing we both are doing is people watching. It was so nice to see groups of people coming together for a pot luck style picnic and just spending time together. That is totally on my to do list! Nathan and I both watch this couple who are apparently on a first date (or at least pretty early in the relationship). This young man is working so hard to make the young lady feel comfortable and relaxed. He's packed a picnic and everything. Its super sweet, and I would have been totally wooed by this. This girl, well, she is not rewarding his efforts with positive social skills at all. It is so bad that I thought she was blind and wasn't aware that she was not giving him any eye contact at all. Then she did it, she looked at him and bated her eyes. She even finally smiled. Unfortunately it was at the end of the concert. There's hope for love yet.
I rarely take pictures of my self, but I decided to on this night. I wanted some pictures of Nathan and I enjoying ourselves. We celebrate 15 years of marriage this summer and I realized we never take pictures together. Both of us take tons of pictures of the kids. When I went to see what was going on on Facebook I noticed that a friend of mine was posting pictures of her children at the symphony. Of course I had to go find her! We hope to all get together for the symphony this week when the brass play.
Both kids have finally admitted to enjoying the evening at the symphony and are asking to go back this week. I knew they would love it! Grab your family, friends, picnic basket, lawn chairs / blanket, and spend an evening just relaxing in Austin. It's worth the time - oh and the concert is free! I leave you with pictures of my little diva at the symphony.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

I Can Sleep When It's Summer Vacation

My son accused me of not being able to sleep in. I decided to prove him wrong. I even stayed up really late to help the sleeping in. Here it is day 2 of summer vacation and my sleep in situation looks like this.
4:30 am - Eyes open feel refreshed and ready for the day. Look at the clock and think "NO WAY!!! Must go back to sleep! This is even earlier than I wake up for school!"
5:30 am - Eyes open - again. But I've been through this trick before. Look at the clock and think "WOW! I actually got another hour in. Usually I wake up 30 minutes later. Got'ta prove to that boy I can sleep in."
6:30 am - Eyes open - yes again. "I can do better than this, but when I start my walking routine this waking up early thing is definitely going to come n handy."
7:30 am - Eyes open. That's it. I give up! Time to get out of bed and do my usual morning routine.
Check Facebook to see if anyone stayed up later than me. Check Pinterest because I might have to craft something from it today. Read my blogs, and post to Pintrest if needed. Great no one is awake yet! Check email. Try to find other quiet things to do so I don't wake the whole house up.
8:00 am - Dang I wish they would get up so that I can do some stuff. What else can I do on the computer. Maybe I'll just go take a shower and cross my fingers that it doesn't wake anyone up.
8:30 am - I hear the TV. Kids are up. Nate sleeps too much. Lets make some noise. Putz around getting ready.
9:00 am - Nate's awake. Coffee grinder going, kitchen noise. Ahhh... We can finally start our day. Don't forget to tell the kids to shower.

Z may be right. I may not be able to sleep in. Remind me to turn my alarm off.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bridging to Brownies - New Vest New Patches

There have been all sorts of new things with the Amazing Daisy's bridging to Brownies (still haven't found an alliteration I like yet. It will come in time). One of the most pertinent things is the new vest. Of course there are no measurements for this process so I thought I would list the directions as I have done them. This is with knowing that there will be additional patches added to various spots later and that I will need to leave a gap for them.

Start with a blank Brownie vest. Using only the right front panel today (and that would be the right to the wearer). Put it on the ironing board so that the shoulder is supported by the curve of the board.

You will then iron on the Flag patch placing it pretty high on the fabric. It will be the first patch in a string of patches and should be at a place of honor right at the shoulder.

 Directly below the flag patch will be the Council Insignia patches. There should be just enough fabric for them at this point in the vest (the vest widens a bit there). Iron them down.

Here comes the tricky part. There will be another patch later that goes below the Council Insignia that we have to leave room for. Knowing this we need to find a way to leave space but still place our troop numbers. I used the packaging from the Council Insignia as a measuring device. I placed the corner of the package just below the shield in the Council Insignia Patch and the opposite corner at the middle top of our center number - for us that would be a 0. Place your numbers in alignment with that center umber and iron them down.

You should have the right sized gap for that later patch and all your new patches ironed in place for the final step. Sew them all down. After 2 years of the Daisy vest the most important thing to know is to not trust the iron on to stay ironed on. Stitch every patch down. Then you will have all your pretty vests all laid out ready for bridging.

Date Night Without The Fuss

I know, bad photo taken from a car window, but it was needed. See the part of the sign that says "1/2 Price Shakes"? That's the important part of the story. Now, where to start. The meat of the story or actually at the beginning.

I'll start at the beginning. Why not. A friend gave me a $5 gift card to Sonic. My thoughts were not of thanks as they should have been, but of "Really - $5?! Not worth the effort." That gift card sat for a bit because I wasn't thinking of it just right. I guess it needed to come with directions for my slow brain. All I could think of was that I am a family of 4 and that $5 does not go far.

Our household is pretty busy. Evenings are frequently consumed with activities right up until bed time. Most nights Nathan and I go to bed exhausted after driving the kids around to their events and trying to man the household. The idiom, "No rest for the weary" frequently applies. One night we get the kids to bed and Nate says, "Thinking about heading to Sonic. Want something?" We had already eaten dinner so I knew it wasn't for a burger. Why yes, I think I will. Kids are fast asleep when he gets back with my milk shake and his Sonic Blast. There we sit in bed, watching an episode of something we've DVRed and are weeks (possibly a whole season) behind on. And that's how "Date Night" was created.

We love these date nights because they are no fuss. No coordinating for child care, no major expenses, no can we do what we want to before we ave to pick the kids up. Just one sneaks out while the other mans the fort.

My cousin just posted about how he thought when he was a kid that his parents were up late at night watching TV and eating junk food while he had to go to bed. In this house it may be true. When you see that a friend needs a little break, grab one of these gift cards put it in a card with directions for date night and let hem enjoy. It really is fun! BTW - Half price shakes after 8pm.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Coaches Pride

This week I was having a problem catching a cat nap at cheer. I know, 5 teams working hard on learning stunts, tumbles, and routines - how can one sleep?! I was that tired. The problem wasn't the fact that I kept sliding out of the red plastic chair, or the parents screaming, "YOU GO GIRL!!!!" and other words of encouragement that I'm certain the kids don't hear. It wasn't even when a stunt group fell and the whole room sucked in all the air at once anticipating injury (she was spared from injury).
The problem was the coach. We love coach Brad. Since the first time we met him Z has felt a special connection with Coach Brad. We originally went to Cheer Station for the opportunity to train with male coaches. See Z is a boy and he cheers. We hit a phase where he needed to know that it was OK to be a boy cheerleader. Z has definitely gotten that message loud and clear. There are several guy coaches and the number of boys at the gym just keeps increasing. There is a boy in each of the groups that meet during Z's team time. It's a great thing to see. There are several male coaches and they are AWESOME! The girl coaches are equally awesome in their own right, but for my boy the guy coaches are amazing (granted his favorite for training is a girl - Coach Chapa really works him out!). A lot of the coaches there are college students or have cheered in college. Coach Chapa is UT's Assistant Cheer Coach that's how cool Z's coaches are. Z thinks this is awesome because he wants to use cheer to pay for college. That has been his goal since joining cheer at 3yo and he turned 10yo yesterday. Right now he says that he wants to own a cheer gym when he grows up. That is a bit more realistic than being a spy who cheers. Though I loved the creativity of that.
Now i know you are wondering what Coach Brad was up to that kept me from napping this week. It was the pride I saw in his face as he worked with those kids. They were doing some amazing stunts - girls were flying while bases were moving into the next position. I thought tumbling into a stunt was cool, but this took it to a whole 'nother level. The thing that I loved was watch the relationship between Coach Brad and the kids. It was this connection that they would do anything for each other. They were a team and would be there to support each other no matter what. It made my heart feel good to know that my son has a group of peers and adults like that around him.
It got me to thinking about other coaches I spend time with. I have had the joy of spending quite a bit of time in boys PE this school year. Particularly in Coach Parson's class. He has been targeting the team work attitude in PE this year, and it has changed the dynamics of PE. My students are better able to access a class that was once inaccessible and basically at survival level for them. There are just too many social skills involved in sports as well as the motor skills that challenge them. It is so difficult for them. But Coach Parsons worked specifically on social skills through team work. It was an awesome thing to watch through out the year. Never thought one of my students would list a coach as his hero, but he did.
Both of these coaches have a skill in developing the talents of their students and creating a sense of pride for the team. They are people I look up to when I think about how I want to interact with the groups of children I serve in my daily life, my students, my NJHSers, my Girl Scouts. Glad I was so distracted that I didn't miss a moment of this by napping. It totally made my day!

Monday, May 21, 2012

8 1/2 Days, and Counting

It's almost here!!! I can't wait!!! Summer break is almost here and ready for fun! One more Monday duty day! Summer mentality has been creeping in around here lately. We've been forgetting to watch the clock for bed time. (Sorry teachers that the kids are getting tired earlier than usual.) We've been starting projects in the morning only to frantically leave for school because we remembered that it was a school day - still. Oh well - you only have this day once - right?!

I was reading my back log of blogs (something about school getting in my way of blog reading). One of the bloggers posted her 12 must do activities for the summer of '12. Loved her list because there were things that I though, "Oh yeah! That would be AWESOME!!!" So, of course, I posted her list to my Facebook page to see what other people had on their list. Then a friend said, "Blog it! I'd totally read it." (Thanks Paulette!)

I was already starting this post when she said it, but then I actually had to think about what my 12 would be. Here they are in no particular order.

1.  Oatmeal Whoopie Pies - Why you ask? Why not! I have a pinning problem. I LOVE to pin! I pin so much that I could never complete everything I pin. I can see A and friends baking with me, mixing the ingredients in their bowls, sticky hands molding the cookies, and marshmallow fluff covered smiles as we build the towers of sweetness. I LOVE cooking with kids! If we don't get to this sweet treat I'm sure there will be another.

2. Talking about cooking with kids, working on a cook book for my kids. My friend Tammy (some times lovingly referred to as my dealer - my SU dealer) brought back some great ideas from her leadership conference. One of them was a digi book where the lady took pictures of the food, paired with recipes, and the stories that go with them. I saw it and instantly thought that I had to do this for my kids! I want to collect foods and stories through out our journey together and give it to them when they leave my home. 

3. Antiquing with friends. I love to thrift, junk, antique - what ever term you want to call it. I like to get a few ladies together who are a bit on the adventurous side. We hop in the car and set caution to the wind. Pick a road (preferably one less traveled) and stop where we want to. Anything that looks interesting, junky, or just plain fun. Stop at any road side stand to see what they have. Eat at the local greasy spoon and cross our fingers that our tummies are tough enough for the lack of sanitation. My favorite burger joint has a history of being closed down for many issues. I've taught my kids that if they see a police officer, fire fighter, or EMT eating at the restaurant the place is perfect. They seem o know the best places to eat.

4. Drive in movies. I hear there's one in Austin, Blue Light Theater. I must try it. Some friends of mine have done it before and said it was just too much fun. I see a double date in our future ;)

5. Package Pal's. I'm already signed up for June, but am thinking I need something off the beaten path. I love swapping packages in the mail with strangers. You never know what will arrive. Thinking I may want to do a color swap. Where everything in the package follows a specific color theme.

6. Symphony and picnic. One summer we spent Sunday dinner out. We would go to Whole Foods for food, and pack it in the wagon for a night of music. Austin Symphony Orchestra would serenade us as we enjoyed savory brisket, fresh fruit, exotic cheese, and cool beverages. Some times we would bring board games to play as we listened. The kids would run around, dancing to the music. It was a wonderful end to an amazing weekend.

7. Zilker Hill Side Theater - I have to admit that I enjoy this activity more as a girls night out. A friend of mine provides baked gods for concessions, so we go and sprawl out on a blanket to watch the performance of the season. This year is Sound of Music and I cannot wait! BTW - if you want some of the best baked goods in town you must call Angel's Bakery.

8. Creek Walk - I want to explore some new creeks. Last summer we took the Daisy's (soon to be Brownies) on a hike through Brushy Creek. It was so much fun to watch them explore the creek from a new perspective. I loved taking our under water viewers. The water was cloudy so we didn't see much under water, but they made excellent boat races! Creek suggestions anyone?

9. Clothing - Sewing - I have a little stash of fabric for some great summer clothing for A and I. Light weight and flirtatious comes to mind. I can see my new skirt flowing in the breeze as I drink cocktails at Iguana Grill or some other lakeside eatery. Plus I LOVE sewing!

10. Cards - I have actually used some of the cards I make. I can't wait to make more! I actually have one on my desk right now that I've been working on.

11. Crafting Madness - well, it is me. Of course I LOVE to craft!! I also love sharing crafting with kids. Have a few ideas brewing for this summer.

12. Reading - Last summer I read books written for adults. I had forgotten how fun reading could be. See I teach middle school and I had been reading nothing but books for teens. It was AMAZING to read something that was written for me! Some of the characters were just as scattered as me and loved the same things I loved. It was AWESOME! Right now I am gearing up for the Daisy's annual book drive for Leander Public Library. Wonder what books will end up in their stash! Did you know that Leander Library is 80% donated books?

Ok... you know I can't stop at 12. You'll just have to read this blog all summer long to know what we are up to. Happy day dreaming of summer!

13. Scouts
14. Camping
15. Back Yard fix-up
16. Dallas Arboretum
17. Pink Rose Tea Room
18. Cameron Park Zoo
19. Farmers Market - a big one.
20. Paint the house
21. Wine tours 
22. Texas History Tour
Well, I didn't want to forget one :)

Tuesday, April 03, 2012


Why is it that when things get tough I get literary? I mean really? Who goes through a major life change and thinks of a Coleridge poem? How many references to Yeats can I make in class?

I still haven't figured out what I was doing penance for, but I know that after a bit of purging (in more areas than stuff) I can feel a considerable difference. This school year I had foot surgery and was pretty much on my butt. For those that know me, you know that I am not a sitting type of person. I even built my craft table at standing height because I am not a sitter. I think the lengthy period of discomfort and immobilization certainly played a part in my emotional well being this year. On top of that there were major life struggles defining who I am and what direction we wanted for our family. The last little bit happened last week where the decision was finally made to leave the church we have attended for 10 years, and to change the children's daycare arrangements (also at our church). It was the saddest thing to say good-bye, but it was necessary. Things just fell into place for these changes to happen. I immediately felt better. Our family has felt better.
Now, before you start offering to have us visit your church I need to explain a few things. This divorce was traumatic for our family. It was not a hasty decision but it was a unanimous decision. I wasn't sure how we would explain things to  6 and 9yo, but God made it possible. It came down to the fact that if our beliefs are not in alignment with those we are worshiping with, no one is growing in their faith. So, for our family, now comes healing. It will take time for us to find a new church home. It will take time for us to be comfortable enough to visit churches. It will take time for us to grieve our loss. We have learned to respond to the many offers about visiting a church in a way that is not hurtful, but we just aren't there yet. We know as a family what we are looking for, and are certain that in His time we will find it.
During this transition we have learned some important things. We learned that we only lost the material aspect of our church. We lost the building. Our church family has remained in contact with us and we all find opportunities to visit outside of church settings. It's been a blessing in that way. Most of our church family has fled the building as well and found a place to worship for the reasons appropriate for them, but we all talk about our prayers that one day we will be able to return home as a family. Reality is that it may take waiting until we are all home with Jesus before that happens. The comfort is that we continue to share in our lives and our faith with one another.
Another blessing is that as I worry about the Christian education of my children, God gives me little signs that they have a firm foundation and that He is there with them and growing their faith no matter what atrocities are going on in the human world. I know that it's not the building that gave them their faith, but the communion of saints that brought them into a committed relationship with Jesus. Those saints continue to be in their lives and it is beautiful. There is certainly a rainbow at the end of this storm, and it is beautiful.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Package Pals with C.R.A.F.T.

As some of you know I love reading blogs! One of the ones I read regularly is C.R.A.F.T. and is written by a fellow teacher Jamie. Jamie was local, but moved to be with her new hubby :) Every other month she coordinates this really cool thing called Package Pals. People sign up and she pairs them up. Then the people share a little bit about themselves, maybe chat by email. Then they send each other little care packages in the mail. Of course these are all crafty people because that's the blog we are reading so they do get a little bit crafty. I had intended to post sooner, bu time escaped me. I wanted to share what I sent to my partner. I do have to laugh because my package went on a small journey. I sent it to the address on the e-mail which was in California. That was interesting because the postal woman was very concerned that the package might not get there. The zip code didn't match the town in the computer. We decided to go on faith. The package did arrive in California, but that wasn't my package pal. My package pal only lives about 2 hours away from me in Central Texas. The kind recipient in California contacted Jamie and kindly sent it to my pal in Texas. Hope she likes it!

The whole kit and caboodle. Smash Album stuff, cards, and rolls of ribbon and fabric to decorate packages with.

Close up of the ribbon and fabric strips. I pinned some of them with glass beaded straight pins. Super cute!

Close up of the cards I sent her. They are not original designs. They are straight out of the SU! catalog.