Sunday, May 21, 2017

Bits and Pieces #19

School is out for me on Friday, and next week for my kids, and May has been a race to the finish.  May is chock full of baseball, awards banquets, musicals, concerts, graduations, work commitments, track meets. . . the list is endless.  All good stuff, but why must it all happen in the same month?  Anyway, due to the severe amount of activities over here, we've been limping along, hoping to make it to the last day of school.  Our house, laundry, and meal planning is suffering.  But I'm optimistic, as May is always hairy, and we always make it.  But I'm a bit weary, I'm not gonna lie.    So here are a few snippets of what has been going on over here amidst the crazy.

  • In the preschool pod where I spend lots of my days each week, we have had so. many. babies. born in the last couple of months.  It has been awesome to see all these moms with their tiny little ones.  There are lots of preschool moms still pregnant too, and it truly makes me weepy with delight.  What a blessing a new life is!  How glorious to be carrying new life, and then caring for that precious infant.  Love, love pregnant mammas and new babies! Keep having babies, mammas!
  • Speaking of preschool and work, as I said above, this is my last week of teaching (I'll still be working in my room for a bit after that, though).  And man, as it approaches, I am truly sorry to see these little ones move on from me!  This has been a great class, and I'm going to miss their little faces and personalities.  Thankfully, most of them are simply moving across the hall from me next year so I'll still get lots of hugs and updates.  
  • My teens have received several awards in the last week:  my son won four academic awards for being at the top of several of his classes, and my daughter won a theater award for her dedication to the department.  I was so proud of both of them, and it's possible a few tears escaped (ugh!  you know I can't help myself!!)
  • A few weeks ago, my husband and I took my 17-year-old on a college visit to our alma mater.  It was so surreal to be there again. . .so different, yet so much the same.  At one point, as I shared yet another memory (about when my husband and I first met for goodness sake!), my daughter dramatically rolled her eyes at me and made me laugh.  I put my hand over my mouth and cried, "If you only knew!  I am only sharing about an eighth of what I am remembering!" Seeing the school through her eyes and hearing her take on it was fascinating.  I look forward to more college visits with her and walking with her on this journey.
  • Changing gears completely. . .my eldest daughter told me about a new adaptation of my beloved Anne of Green Gables on Netflix.  I was skeptical, since I am a purist and love only the Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie version from the 80s.  But, since she is also a fan, I thought I would give it a try.  We watched episode one last night and I actually thought it was pretty good - good acting, beautiful scenery, mostly sticking to the book's story line.  My youngest daughter and younger two sons also got pulled in and were enjoying Anne's escapades. . . until episode three, when all came to a screeching halt.  I was incredibly disappointed in Anne's dialogue - delving into euphemisms that were completely inappropriate for younger audiences. Thankfully my younger two didn't catch what she was talking about, and I quickly pulled the plug on the show and looked up some reviews.  Turns out, many people like it, but many are also calling it dark and a turn away from the book's true storyline.  Shame on you, Netflix, for tarnishing a classic!  I told my kids that I would check out from the library the "real" Anne from the 80s and we would enjoy it without worries.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


This month, my eldest nephew will graduate from high school.  It's hard to believe he could possibly be that old!  But he is ready for the next chapter, and it's exciting to see what is in store for him.

And behind him, in rapid succession, two of his sisters and two of his cousins will follow suit.

Rewind 19 years ago:  my husband and I and his brother and wife were still relative newlyweds, both couples beginning to think about starting families.  And my in-laws** were excited at the prospect of both of their sons soon giving them grandchildren.  But I don't think they knew quite what was on the horizon.

Snap - in a period of 2 years and 9 months, my in-laws had 5 grandchildren!  My brother- and sister-in-law were gracious enough to have twins, making that number possible.  Suddenly, we were getting together for births, baptisms and birthday parties.  Holidays were fun, crazy and often exhausting.  My in-laws were thrilled with the almost-instant big family.

And the grandchildren kept coming. . .in 13 years, the grand total was 10 grandkids.  Family get togethers are awesome.  There are kids everywhere, playing games, putting on shows and laughing.  It's the best.

The kids seem to have naturally fallen into two groups.  The older five (currently known as the teens, though this summer two more will join that category) and the younger five.  And for this year only, all five of the teens are in high school.  It's been great to watch them become friends over the years, and as teenagers, stay in touch on their own now.

When the first five kids were 2 and under, it was hard to imagine the day when they'd all be in high school.  Impossible, really, to imagine what our lives would look like.  We had no way of knowing how fun teenagers would be, and what a blessing these cousins would be to each other.  And now, my nephew will be the first to bring on a new change:  college.  I pray that all these cousins (including the cousins on the other sides of their families as well) will stay close -- that they will share their new adventures with their closest family members.  It has been and will continue to be a joy to watch them grow together.  There is only more beauty to come!

** When I hear the phrase "in-laws", I often think of the 1991 version of Father of The Bride, when Steve Martin is on his way to Bel-Air to meet his daughter's future in-laws.  He isn't thrilled and doesn't like the phrase "in-laws".  He says:  "What does it mean anyway?  That we're legally bound to these people?  I don't wanna be in-lawed, especially to people who live in Bel-Air!" This scene is just before he almost gets attacked by the Dobermans and falls into the pool  If you haven't seen this movie, watch it immediately.  You can thank me later.

And let me also take a moment to say that my in-laws are THE BEST.  My husband's parents and his brother and his family are not "in-laws", they are simply family.  I am ever so thankful for the blessing of Cumore family!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Week In Pictures

A few visuals from our place this week:

Yes, the obsession with butt-enhanced foods lives on in our house.  Perhaps you recall reading here about some "almost butt" spread. . .I'm thrilled to report that many more items have shown up in our pantry with this all-hilarious secret ingredient:  cookies made with chunks of butt, crunchy butt, and butt flavored syrup. I have to admit, I crack up every time I take something out and find this child's handiwork.  

We went to Florida over Spring break with my in-laws, and my dad made this bag to send with us in the car.  It had a bag of gummy bears in it for each child.  This gift is just like my dad - thoughtful and creative and goofy! ❤️

I found this in the freezer.  I don't really know what to say about it. . . The master chef who created them called them cake pops.  
That is all.

This is the back of my beautiful 17-year-old daughter's head.  She went to her junior prom over the weekend with a big group of her friends.  She looked amazing and she and her friends had a great time.  I was so proud of her!

And this:  "If I could do something all by myself I would ride my bike around the big circle.  This would make me feel like a grownup".  Oh - the sweet dreams of a 7-year-old!  I love her so!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I'm Not Fancy Part Two

Quite awhile ago, I blogged about not being fancy.  I talked about how I don't wear much makeup, and what I do wear is Cover Girl.  I'd prefer comfort over style if I really had to choose, and a ponytail is my hairstyle of choice.

Well. . .I'm not fancy in lots of other ways as well.

House/Decor:  My house is a modest two story.  We have enough rooms, square footage, furniture and family pictures to make it just right for me. We may not have an enormous en suite in the master bedroom, or a gourmet kitchen.  I'm not an interior decorator, and my house doesn't look like a spread in Better Homes and Gardens.  But it's comfortable, decorated well enough, and full of people I love.  So what if I don't have Joanna Gaines' touch?  It's just right for us.

Meals/Food:  I can't say I don't mind a fancy meal now and then, but I would prefer to cook simply.  Early on in our marriage, I remember having people over for get togethers and thinking I needed to cook some fabulous meal that was completely out of my repertoire (and comfort zone!), because the people we were inviting were foodies (well, that was before the word foodies was coined, but hey. . .).  Nowadays, if you come over, we might order pizza, or I might cook or grill a well-loved meal.  It might not have sixteen ingredients you've never heard of, but it will be cooked with TLC and love.

Cars/Phones/Possessions:  Let me start with this one by saying one of our cars is a 2004 Chevy Astro Van.  I could basically stop there, as that pretty much sums up this category, but I'll continue. A beautiful car in my book is one that holds all seven of us and is paid for.  The Astro passed both questions from the get-go and therefore was a winner.  We may not have the fanciest, flashiest cars on the block, but they get us from point A to Point B without breaking the bank, and that's what a vehicle is for, right?  In the same vein, we have 3-year-old iPhones that are still limping along.  We have to charge them a little more frequently now, but they're still working and they are freeee!

Vacations:  Dear reader, if you know me at all, you know we camp for most of our vacations.  The price is right, we make great family memories, and we see the country!  No, we don't have pristine hotel suites or zero-entry pools, we don't buy top-notch travel packages and we don't eat at all the best restaurants.  But we can still spend a lot of time together as a family without all that stuff, and that's what a vacation is for, right?

As I said in my original "I'm Not Fancy Post" (link above), the older I get, the more comfortable I am with who I am.  If someone else always has the latest iPhone and takes award-winning vacations, awesome!  But that isn't me, and that's okay too.  I'm happy being me: a pop-up-camping, iPhone 5-using, comfort-food-cooking mamma.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

National Sibling Day

Last week for Spring break, we went to Florida and stayed with my in-laws for the tail end of their snow bird season.  It was fabulous - Florida is my place!  We sat on the beach, laughed, shopped, played cards and just had a good time together.

Florida is no quick trip for us, so we spent many hours in the car on the way down and home.  Our kids are certainly no strangers to long road trips (our next adventure will be driving to the Pacific Northwest!), and they understand driving saves lots of money and enables us to see the country (that, coupled with camping!).  But still, being in the car for 12 or more hours a day isn't exactly anyone's idea of a great time.

Well, maybe that's not true.  My daughter's first grade teacher told me what my daughter shared yesterday at school.  The teacher was asking each student what his/her favorite part of Spring break was, and this was my daughter's response:  "The best part of Spring break was being in the car for 13 hours with my family.  We're usually so busy, that it was great to be together with nowhere else to go.  We laughed and sang songs and had a great time!"

Wow - we did laugh and sing and have fun!  There were also fights and complaining, but those things apparently didn't stick in her memory - just the good times with her family made an impression.

As we were driving home from school yesterday, we were talking about childhood friends.  One of the boys asked me if I was still close with any of my childhood friends, and I replied that I keep in touch with several on Facebook, but that we don't see one another regularly.  "Who is your best friend now?" one of the kids asked.  After I moment, I paused and said that my sister was my best friend.  After a moment I laughed and turned toward the back seat, knowing the kids would say that she didn't count - she's my sister!  And indeed, they were ready to tease me about it, but I took a moment to tell them it was true, and remind them once again, that their siblings are the ones who will stick by them through thick and thin, and that no one will know them longer than their siblings will.  They've heard these lectures before, but I pray they hear them.  Brothers and sisters are life long best friends!

As it turns out, Facebook reminded me yesterday that it was National Sibling Day.  I posted a picture of my kids, with a comment about their lifelong friendships blossoming.  And I also posted a picture of my sister and me, thanking God for giving me a lifelong best friend.

There is no shortage of negative behavior over here between my children.  But I pray that as the years pass, those memories fade and like my youngest daughter's road trip recollection, the sibling bond remains strongly at the forefront.  Best friends for life!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Memes for Me!

If you have any teenagers, you probably know what a meme is.  I first heard the word a few years ago and was stymied with how to pronounce it.  Was it mee-mee?  Or meh-mee?  My teens quickly set me straight:  It is pronounced meem.

I run across memes when I scroll through Facebook and they often make me smile.  Here are a few that came across my feed:

I love this one!  The original "Little Old Woman" rhyme always annoyed me, and I felt like it gave big families a bad name.  But this one is lovely and reminds us that God always provides. ❤️

But in a similar vein, the above meme is also true. . .and I happen to have just the right number of kids to hit rock bottom.  But just because I morph all their siblings' names into their own name (finally, and with frustration!), doesn't mean I have too many kids.  It just means my brain is tired.  Hey - I'm getting old.

Yup.  And I might sometimes call it chaos too. . .but I wouldn't have it any other way.

And finally, this one.  I love this sentiment.  I looked it up to verify its origin, and although it is a slight paraphrase, the meaning holds fast.  Sometimes we as mothers and wives might feel like we are drowning in household affairs, with little meaning to any of it.  But it is here, in our homes, with our families, that God calls us!  In our ordinary lives, full of cleaning and diapers and toddlers and teenagers, God calls us to holiness! So offer your work up to Christ, mammas!  We are right where God calls us to be. ❤️

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Week in Pictures

A few visuals to sum up the week around our house:

Here is one Shadow puppy, freshly shorn.  We think he looks like a wee black lamb after he gets fluffed and buffed.  But no matter how adorable we think he looks, in every picture we take of him, he looks morose and depressed.  Cheer up, Shadow!  It can't be that bad to be a dog!

My littlest gal was student of the week last week and she requested we make snickerdoodles for her class treat.  We started hauling out all the ingredients (snickerdoodle-making is no small undertaking, I quickly remembered!), and my little K zipped to the closet to grab an apron for me.  I rarely wear an apron, but every time I do, I remember how much I love wearing one - they're so convenient!  Anyway, K grabbed this one, which is my favorite.  It was made by my mom for my grandma -- in her favorite color: mauve.  Every time I wear it, I think of her wearing it, bustling around her (mauve) kitchen in her skirt and nylons, heels kicked off by the door.  Fond memories of a beloved woman.

I recently bought this little gem for about $1, and it is the best.  Seriously, I don't know how I ran a grown up kitchen without one for all these years.  My whole adult life, I've been dragging out a colander or using a lid to strain the pasta, or if I was feeling lazy like tempting fate, I would precariously hold the pasta with a fork while draining the liquid.  But this little plastic game changer is the goods.  I simply hold it over the pot and all is good!  No huge colander to hand wash, no risky fork method. . .just pasta sans liquid.  Does everyone already have one of these and I was just out of the loop?  Or am I a trend setter?  I truly have no idea.

I bought this shower curtain the other day for our hideous upstairs bathroom.  This bathroom is in dire need of an overhaul, but we haven't had the money or time to do all that needs to be done, so there it sits, in its late-90s decor, frustrating me every time I pass by.  I had finally had it with the old shower curtain and wanted to buy an inexpensive one to tide us over until we actually redo the room. I found this one at Walmart and it fit the bill.  The tree was pleasant and would work for the time being.  The other day I was putting towels away (these ├╝ber awesome ones from IKEA) in the bathroom and one of my boys wandered in and appeared to suddenly attack the shower curtain.  "What are you doing?", I quickly asked.  Without missing a beat, he replied, "I'm a tree hugger!"