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Showing posts from June, 2016

Day 181: Music for Lame Adulting

My mom and dad took the kids yesterday and I wasted no time. I ran all the child-free errands you can run and did all the things! I figured if I had to adult, spending most of the day driving my minivan from one errand to another, I'd at least get some great summer music to accompany me. I don't even apologize for all the music posts. In addition to 2016 being The Year of All The House Crap, it's also The Year in Which Ashley Listens to Lots and Lots of Musics.

I started with music that whispers "summer" in my ear, Jimmy Buffett. I'm not the Parrothead I once was, but I can't listen to him without relaxing just a little bit, even if I'm busy doing lameass adult stuff instead of sipping boat drinks. Jimmy Buffett + Alan Jackson = Happy Ashley

I moved on to James Taylor's New Moon Shine, which includes one of my all time favorite songs of all time, "The Water is Wide." I may have been part of a music contest starring ensemble that sang thi…

Day 180: G & G

My parents, also known as Grandma and Grandpa or G & G, arrived yesterday! Cue celebration music! Pop the champagne! Or juice boxes! One of my favorite sites is the kids' faces when they see G & G walk in.

I grew up with one grandma three hours away and the other three blocks away, so I got I experience both setups. I had fantastic relationships with and memories of both of them. I took grandma Helen for granted, I suppose, because she was always available to me. I could stop for cookies on my way home from school, or call her to come over when my babysitting gig got a little out of control. She is one of the many reasons I'm grateful to have been raised in dad's hometown. 
Visiting grandma Bess was a different experience since I didn't see her as often. Spending time with her and at her house was always special, and I envied my cousins who lived in mom's hometown. 
Living away from both sets of grandparents can be challenging at times, especially when it c…

Day 179: A Cool Refreshing Break

I do love summer. Feeling the sun's rays warm my skin refreshes me in a way nothing else can. I enjoy playing in the sun with the kids, and lakefront is most definitely my happy place.

Yesterday, though, we got a little break from Summer's heat (though admittedly, the ND heat hasn't actually amounted to much yet this summer). By oversight, I have only one pair of ill-fitting shorts right now, so I welcomed the chance to wear jeans yesterday. We sat comfortably at tee ball and we even played baseball at the field without me feeling like I needed a shower immediately afterward. 
I hope for hot weather this weekend as we head to the lake, and for favorable growing weather for ye olde crops, but I did welcome a cool, refreshing break for a day.

Day 178: A Random Sampling of Gratitude

It's been a good weekend, and my spirits have been better these last couple of days than they have in a while. A few quick things come to mind before I retire to find out how Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.'s first foray into politics worked out for him.

We had a showing today. Hope hope hope! If nothing else, the house still looks and (mostly) smells great. It's a wonderful feeling to relax on the couch and not see anything that needs to be cleaned or picked up. Today I wore a new, cheap impulse buy dress with some older accessories - shoes a friend gave me (gasp) 13 years ago, and a string of pearls I received as a high school graduation present way back in 2000. The necklace especially made me smile, because I can't even remember the last time I pulled it out. Big boys and I finished Stuart Little, our first real chapter read-aloud book. I think this activity is going to be really good for the three of us. I loved reading aloud with and to my parents as a kid, and it's f…

Day 177: Just Right

I'm really enjoying The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris right now. I'd categorize it at borderline obsessed.

So...gratitude item? Books? Too vague. Books about Theodore Roosevelt? Too narrow. Random Kindle books that go on sale for $2 and I impulse buy them after seeing an ad on Facebook? Just right.

Day 176: Bubbles

Since our bubble machine was laid to rest during cleanup week, we haven't done much in the way if bubbles this summer. Don't get me wrong, we have a million half bottles strewn about the garage; we just don't open them often because a certain someone can't resist dumping them out.

The baby toddled over with a bottle and the cutest little look on his face today so I pushed my hard heart to the side and opened it for him. It happened to be the good kind, the ones that actually make bubbles more than 50% of the time. I effortlessly blew bubbles and the diaper + crock-wearing crowd of one lit up! He joyfully chased bubbles around the yard and I remembered how much fun kids and bubbles are together. Such joy over something so simple! He was delighted and I delighted in him. 
For a few minutes.
Let's not deceive thy reader into thinking it was an idyllic moment by any means. It came to a screeching halt when he grabbed the wand and shoved it in his mouth. The ensuing s**…

Day 175: Evening Stillness

I realized this afternoon while drinking my witching hour beer in the backyard with the boys that, although we spend a ton of time outside, I hadn't enjoyed the backyard much this year. Tonight's evening weather was perfect: warm, still, mosquito-free. After the kids went to bed and the spouse ran off to an errand, I sat outside on the deck and just...sat there. It's almost July and I haven't done that all summer!

For once I didn't read, listen to music, or chat with anyone on the phone. I sat there in the quiet, observing the scenery, zoning out, and praying. I caught myself humming "thy will be done" with the rhythm of the air conditioner. Those few quiet minutes ending in an almost subconscious prayer scratched me where I didn't know I itched. Perfection.

Day 174: Hope

I'm having a hard time maintaining the "for sale" appearance of the house, along with a decent attitude about the process. Over the weekend we really let the house go. I decided it I should clean it up even though there hasn't been a lot of viewing action on it. Not too long later, the realtor texted me about a showing at supper time! There is hope!

It doesn't appear last night's viewer was "the one" since I haven't heard anything. But at least it was enough to give me some hope. And the house looked and smelled amazing. So there's that.

Day 173: Sweet Little Moments

Doh! I've thought several times about posting yesterday's gratitude and I keep getting distracted. Right now I'm getting into The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt on my kindle so I don't want to take a long break.

Yesterday the mood at our house hit a low spot at about 5 pm. We were all tired and cranky and pissing each other off. The last straw was the big boys hitting each other with hockey sticks. They ended up having to sit at the kitchen table coloring and I said they were only allowed to speak if they were talking about how much they love their brothers. With the not-so-babyish baby on my hip, I prepared dinner in silence and sat down while it baked. 
Pretty soon the middle brother joined us on the recliner and we were making animal noises and #3 was practicing words. Then they slid off my lap and started "surfing" in the living room, dancing around and acting silly. The one-year-old put on quite a show and I may have cracked my first smile of the day. 
The o…

Day 172: Thumbprint Radio

Back in my cubicle days I instant messaged my work bestie how Pandora was killing it that day and how I was totally patting myself on the back for my most excellent taste in music. She laughed and possibly made a meme to share with the team.

I don't even know if people listen to Pandora anymore. I haven't quite figured out Spotify and I always forget about Amazon Prime. I'm old. 
Anyway, I heard an ad yesterday on Pandora for thumbprint radio, which is just a station of your "liked" songs. I know some people listen to stations to expose themselves to new music, but sometimes I just need the tried and true favorites. Thumbprint radio nailed it this morning and was just what I needed (along with a ton of coffee) after almost 4 non-cumulative hours of sleep last night.

Day 171: Father's Day Fail

I don't know if it's the long days of summer and the kids staying up late or the stress of current goings on here, but I find I haven't been reflecting on my day's gratitude in the evenings lately. I have been doing it in the morning but often I don't get around to writing it up until much later.

So Sunday. It was Father's Day. My dad and my husband and my father-in-law are all wonderful in countless ways. I'm not going to type that up on ye olde iPhone, and I have a meeting in 4 minutes, so you'll have to stay tuned for that. Rest assured of my unending gratitude for all of them and the difference they've made in my life!

Day 170: Once Upon a Child

Yesterday the big boys and I picked up three pairs of jammies, a church shirt, and a pair of sunglasses for $16 at the used kids clothing store Once Upon a Child.

I am pro used clothing, especially when it comes to kid stuff. We've been blessed with many gifts and hand-me-downs, so I've rarely had to buy anything new but socks and undies. Most of the time when I do have to shop for them, it's at Once Upon a Child. I don't have patience for garage sales at this time in my life, and I can almost always find what I need there.

Day 169: The Things We Take For Granted

The most detail-oriented of readers would have noticed that I didn't have a post for Thursday. It hurts my brain to miss a day now that I'm 160 in, so I'm retroactively posting. Forgive me. I'm going to blame it on not being able to turn my head for most of the week due to a strange neck injury. I know, the computer and my phone can both be placed directly in front of my face (and often are) but it's my blog and I'll use whatever excuse I deem appropriate.

I have mentioned recently that I'm stressed by the house being for sale (and not having been purchased yet) and the fact that we don't have a place in our "new" town. The kids and I haven't found our summer groove yet, and the mood at this house has been tense to say the least. On Thursday I definitely didn't have the energy to reflect even one minute on gratitude. Cranky had taken over and I just didn't have an ounce of energy left to deal with it.

I realized that I don't ha…

Day 168:

I'm cranky today. Tired and anxious and kind of a jerk. This is what we have going on: swimming (used loosely) and afternoon coffee in my favorite Offer it Up mug. I'll take what I can get. It could definitely be a lot worse.

Day 167: Blue Sky

We are outside for hours most days. But for much of the time I am reading a book or magazine, looking at my phone, pitching or making sure the baby toddler doesn't wander into the street. I rarely sit and notice my surroundings, at least when we are at home. Those surroundings are so familiar that I easily take them for granted.

Yesterday my neck was pretty sore, so when we were outside I was mostly stick staring straight ahead and slightly up. I happened to notice that the sky was a brilliant shade of blue. I tried to capture it but, screens. Anyway, it was beautiful and I enjoyed it!

Day 166: TV Again!

Is it super lame to do two posts about TV in a row? Especially after you have just said you don't watch much TV? Oh well!

Yesterday when the boys were doing their bedtime stalling version of playing well together, I got sucked into an episode of Genealogy Roadshow. My husband left to go vote and returned to find me still staring mindlessly at the television, learning about how someone's three second-great-uncles died in 1872. (Spoiler: it was smallpox.)

I am a sucker for ancestry, even when it is not my ancestry, I guess. I really enjoy Finding Your Roots, too. I find it a bit lame that they always take some small detail and try to spin it dramatically, but it's TV, so I should expect that. Why is everyone so shocked that their ancestors owned slaves? It sounds awful now, but it was an accepted practice at one time and I don't think we should all reasonably assume our ancestors were the ones living counter-culturally. But I digress.

I am always fascinated by the record…

Day 165: ANW

I totally thought I posted this lastnight, but I am perpetually tired lately. I doubt that it is in any way due to my steady diet of dark chocolate chips.

My gratitude yesterday was for the NBC show American Ninja Warrior! We don't have cable or Dish or Netflix or Amazon prime. If you can't watch it on antenna, we don't watch it. We get the major networks (CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX), CW, 4 PBSs, and a couple of old movie/rerun channels. Normally those provide more TV "entertainment" than we need. We mostly watch PBS - lookin' at you PBS Kids and The Roosevelts.

I can barely stand to let my kids watch any TV these days. The commercials are more sexualized and violent than the shows that used to be on when I was younger, I think. One thing we can all agree on, though, is American Ninja Warrior. The kids love it. The spouse loves it. I love it. The boys are always inspired to create ninja warrior courses downstairs using the slide, the trampoline, an extra mattress and…

Day 164: House Hunters

We survived a day of house hunting with three small kids, including a three-hour round trip. I'm grateful we made it, and that's about all I can say.

We looked at 4 houses, cut three from the list of potentials, and drove around town to spot a few more potentials.

When we pulled into the garage, #2 summed up the trip by saying this, "Well. That was not fun." I have to say, I concur. But we're alive and we have a home. For now.

Day 162: Lessons from Home Selling

Our house has been for sale for a couple of weeks, and it's certainly not an ideal living situation, especially with three little kids. We have been enjoying our house more since The Great Purge of 2016. A year of slow decluttering and a couple of weekends of heavy cleaning and yard work and the place has shaped up quite nicely. My husband even commented on how nice it feels in here!

While I am not silly enough to assume I'll keep this up after our house sells or in a new house, we have developed a few habits we hope to continue.

Make the bed. The Internet has really strong feelings about the merits or demerits of daily bed making. For me, it makes me not hate my room, so that's nice. Open the curtains. We had our windows professionally cleaned by Squeegee Squad last fall and it made a world of difference. I also finally bought grown up curtains for our bedroom. The combination of those two adult items have brightened up our bedroom and inspired me to open curtains there, i…

Day 163: It's Brian, Caroline

A friend of mine had tickets to comedian Brian Regan for Friday night and couldn't go, so I got both her tickets and her babysitter! He is one of our favorites, probably stemming from back in the day when we watched Comedy Central. I also listened to quite a bit of his stuff on Pandora back in my cubicle days.

As I mentioned earlier, this year's been difficult in several ways, so we needed some laughs. His brother Dennis opened for him and I found him to be pretty hilarious. Most of Brian's show featured material I hadn't heard and he did not disappoint; we had a great time.

If you're not familiar with Brain, here's one of my favorite bits of his. He didn't do this on Friday, but it's one that never ceases to entertain me. I couldn't get the embed code to work, so click here.

Day 161: Random Stuff and Links

It's been a while since I've shared some links. I've read and listened to lots of great stuff and forgotten most of it. Here are a few links I thought were worth sharing.

I'm enjoying the #TheAsIsHomeTour on Instagram. Check it out. I would try to link to it, but I don't know my Instagram password so I can't log in on the computer. I'm so old!

Ryan Bingham has a new song on Amazon's Songs of Summer Playlist - check out Kindred Mountain High. My heart gets all fluttery over Ryan Bingham music.

Growing Up in the Age of Likes - The Washington Post - terrifying, really. But I'm glad I read it.

The Little Lepers in My Living Room - Dierdre Mundy - "As far as I can tell, Jesus is somewhat hysterical, extremely emotional and has unrealistic expectations for how the world should work. And he’s crying again."

It's Time to Forget the Idea That We Can 'Get Back' Our Pre-Baby Bodies - Verily Magazine - yup. 

Audiobook Recommendations for Kids …

Day 160: Bad Writing

I was sort of bummed out yesterday when I felt behind on gratitude posts, lazy and ungrateful, and just generally schlubby. 
When I started these gratitude posts, I was hoping to use it not only to help me be more grateful through the course of my days, but also to improve my writing. I used to be sort of OK at writing, but definitely better at editing what others have written! I was hoping to have make time to plan at least some of them, perhaps even plot and outline some and really try to write well. I know, I'm a super dork, and I'm OK with it. I like grammar! 
I reflected on what I saw as a failure, but eventually my thoughts circled back to a couple of points that I needed to be reminded of:  No one started reading this because of the most excellent writing. You probably read it because you are my friend or relative, so thanks for cutting me some slack.The point was gratitude, not perfect, clever, and exciting grammar.  Some of my gratitude posts have been deep(ish) and ot…

Day 159: Tuesday

I don't think I've fallen this far behind yet since I started ye olde gratitude blog! Whoops!

On Tuesday, I was reminded to thank God for our health, which is something I don't do often enough. My oldest woke up with something. He was lethargic and tired and his tummy hurt. We cancelled our grocery shopping (yay for online grocery shopping!) and hung out with the TV. He made it to the bathroom to throw up once, snuggled for a while, took a long nap, and then suddenly was good as new! I still don't know what happened, but I was so happy for how quickly it passed.

I remembered that it's been a while since anyone besides me had the throw ups, and gosh I was grateful for it's absence. I am so quick to find something to complain about, but when I pause to think about how rarely the kids have been sick lately, I'm so thankful!

Day 158: Tee Ball

My oldest started tee ball on Monday in the cold drizzle. He seemed pretty nervous when we got there, since we didn't know anyone, but as soon as they started doing "baseball stuff" he wore a smile from ear to ear. It was worth sitting in the rain to see how happy he was playing baseball! 

He's started hitting off a tee on his third birthday, and has preferred being pitched to since 4, so he told me I should have skipped tee ball and just signed him up for "real baseball." He does not lack confidence in his skills! I told him 5-year-olds play tee ball and he seemed ok with it.

Day 157: The Talent that Wasn't

The James Taylor concert had me wondering as I have a million times before what would have happened if God had given me musical talent. I have loved music for as long as I can remember, and I tagged along for the success of many talented friends in high school. I was a decent alto saxophone player, can muddle through an intermediate piano tune, and I sort of sung alto (and sometimes tenor if I sat by Doug) in choir. But a musician, I am not.

I used to think I should have been given more musical talent, because I think I could have been a decent performer despite my strong tendency toward introversion. It wasn't until I was at a talk recently that I heard a story that helped me understand why I am not a famous, talented musician.

A speaker relayed a story of a legally blind friend of his, and how he'd asked him if they could pray for healing of his vision. The friend actually said no. He said he considered it a gift to have never struggled with the sin of lust, and that with p…

Day 156: Delight

We had the great pleasure last night of seeing a great concert by one of my all time favorites, and also of spending some time with some dear friends.

My amazing nieces came to babysit five kids five and under while we went out to eat with two couples, one we see often but rarely without the kids and one we rarely see because they moved south one state a couple of years ago. That in itself would have provided enough gratitude for one day, but then we raced to the FargoDome to see James Taylor.

James is nothing if not consistent, and he did not disappoint on my third time seeing him. His voice sounded wonderful, his band was so talented, and the concert flowed beautifully. Like I did at Garth Brooks, I opted not to take a bunch of poor quality, fuzzy, zoomed-in iPhone photos and videos, but rather tried to enjoy the show with my own eyes and ears.

I stopped several times to ask myself what I was feeling and I kept coming back to the same word: delight. I felt delighted to be there, to …

Day 155: Time After Time

I mentioned one of my favorite albums, Willie Nelson's The Great Divide in Roadtrip Music. It's still in my car and I've been listening to it often. One of the tracks is the classic Cyndi Lauper tune, "Time After Time." I just love that song! I was reminded that one of my burned CD mixes from the old days has a Rob Thomas version on it, which I loved so much. I mostly love all the covers Rob Thomas does, because I so enjoy listening to him sing. I can't see myself ever not totally loving Tabitha's Secret/Matchbox 20 music. His solo stuff doesn't get me quite like the old band material, but I still like it. I'm nothing if not loyal. 
So I found it on YouTube on my phone and basically listened to it all day on repeat. It was just like when I had mixed tapes back in the day and I would record my favorites twice in a row so I wouldn't have to waste all that time rewinding! I'm a child of the '80s and '90s and I am not ashamed!

This par…

154: Hospitality

I reflected a bit today on hospitality. I just spent almost a week making myself perfectly at home at my parents' house. My sister and brother's houses were not spared either. I know not every family is so comfortable with each other that they can feel quickly make themselves at home with each other or in each other's spaces.

As I thought about that, I have a few close friends who show that same type of hospitality to our family. Relationships can be so shallow these days that time spent together doing nothing is rare, and we can be so wrapped up in appearances that we don't let people "in." 
I can think now of a few friends who would give us anything we need, who welcome us to their homes, feed us, and let our kids trash their family rooms! What a gift that type of friendship is! I only hope I can be that to my friends and family.

Day 153: The Sights, Sounds and Smells of Comfort

I've been at my parents' the last several days. They live on a little lake about 16 miles north and west of my hometown. We've been coming to the lake almost as long as I remember, but it was about five years ago that they moved here permanently. This is definitely home now. I haven't lived in the area in more than a dozen years, but when I come back now I feel a tangible sense of peace.
The only way I can explain it sounds hokey, but I just feel a comfortable feeling that I don't feel elsewhere. The scenery and even the smells just make my soul feel at home. A lot goes on here whenever we visit, so I'm grateful that I took a few moments tonight to stand, walk and sit outside, taking in the sights, sounds and smells up here. I felt like I could finally exhale a bit. I didn't realize how much I needed those few quiet minutes here. 
I've said before that 2016 is going to be a year in which my little family of five reevaluates our priorities, where we'…