Sunday, June 29, 2014

What's on Your Mind?

That's what Facebook asks these days, in the space where you are invited to type a status update. Remember when it always said "Jessica is _____________" and then it was a newsworthy thing when they dropped the "is"? Interesting.

Anyway, I rarely have anything to "say" to the Facebook world. More often, I share articles I've found interesting than share a random thing about my day. This evening, though, I seem to be thinking in status updates, because more random thoughts are coming to my mind than I want to flood the "wall" with (is it still called a wall?) And since I feel a twinge of unnecessary guilt over not blogging enough, let me share these random thoughts with you.

I shared this on FB:
"Sometimes I feel self-conscious about mothering in public, afraid people think I can't discipline my children or that I let them run wild. But the flip side of that coin is people complimenting how "relaxed" or "patient" I am being. Somehow that means a lot more to me than praise for running a tight ship."

Yesterday morning, I took the three girls to the Farmer's Market while Matt helped lead worship in a women's prison. The peaches were amazing and the strawberries (as I expected) were pretty much devoured before we even got home. But after filling our wagon with awesome local produce, I felt like the excursion was over far too quickly, so we partook of the free water and coffee and just sat on the curb for a while, enjoying the live music and atmosphere. Between noshing on the berries (both straw- and blue-) the big girls began running circles around me and the wagon in which BGC sat. I was a bit worried about one of them (especially Claire) tripping over the curb and busting something, but otherwise, it was a no-stress situation. A woman commented, "You're such a patient mother!" and my internal response of "What? They're just running circles around me," sounded a little ridiculous, but nonetheless, I do feel proud of my ability to just relax and let my kids be kids. I guess it's because I have a pretty type-A personality in general, so my evolving natural proclivities give me some sense of satisfaction.

Which leads me to the second (and beyond) would-be status updates of the evening...
  • I finally checked out The New Birth Order Book by Kevin Leman from the library. It's been in my Amazon cart forever, but I rarely buy books anymore (a shameful thing to admit for someone in the publishing business). I prefer to get them from the library if possible, though I still do order a Kindle book or even a hardcopy now and again. Anyway, I am a classic only child, a "firstborn on steroids," driven, organized, a list-maker, confident of the "right way" to do everything, older than my years, and more comfortable with older and younger people than with my peers. I'm now analyzing everyone I know. Matt and his brother are so close in age that both have a lot of firstborn qualities. My mom is a "functional only-child" being ten years younger than her brother. 
  • I'm pretty sure the girls are going to wear out the batteries on their new musical Anna and Elsa dolls (a gift from Granna and Opa) within 24 hours.
  • Pool + movie = accidental nap for two girls that otherwise gave up naps ages ago! This summer has brought a lot of damp-haired late-afternoon snoozes on our couch!
  • During one such snooze last weekend, I indulged in a marathon of "19 Kids and Counting." I made sure Matt was asleep too, so he couldn't make fun of me. What can I say? I love big families! 
  • Matt likes to put several kinds of meat on the smoker every so often, and then we eat off those birds and roasts all week. By tonight, I was really tired of the same beef and pork roasts we've had all week (and I was out of town two nights of the week, even) so tonight we had pork-sweet potato-cabbage-corn-couscous. Sounds weird, but it was good. Fortunately, Kate was taking a damp nap on the couch and wasn't there to declare it disgusting, and therefore Claire ate it. 
I could probably continue this brain-dump, but I'd rather go sit on the couch and read more of that birth order book. What's on your mind these days?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Little Anna and Elsa

Today I had the pleasure of seeing a four-year-old boy at the pool play gleefully with Kate's Mermaid Dora the Explorer (huh? I know—that was the same reaction Matt and I had when she opened it at her birthday party a couple years ago. let's just combine random things that girls like...) while he sang, "For the first time in forever...!" He asked Kate, "Have you seen that Frozen movie?" I thought, wow. best pick up line in the kiddie pool. 

Yes, of course my girls love "Frozen." They've been wearing braids (one for Elsa, two for Anna) and blue clothing (yay for anything that combats the "blue is for boys" paradigm) since February, which was when my finally seeing it tipped the scales and brought on full-on Frozen fever to the Kelley household.

Last week, my in-laws took us to an event with the Frozen princesses, which the girls loved, of course. It was held outside by a pool on a 94-degree day, so it felt like anything but an eternal winter, but the heat and sweat didn't bother Kate and Claire.

They had their picture taken with Elsa and Anna.
Don't let Claire's (lack of) expression fool you. She's just got that serious side. The princesses painted faces later, and after Claire stood perfectly stone-faced during her turn, Elsa asked "is she is a heat-induced trance?" Nope, she just feels serious sometimes. 
Kate got Elsa and Claire got Anna. Since that's their birth order (and, I dare say, disposition—the seriousness notwithstanding) Kate has typically been Elsa in their playacting, and Claire Anna, though Claire has been favoring Elsa lately too. Kate only claims Anna when they are singing along to the movie and it's Anna's turn to sing. Typical.

They also got to "build a snowman" with a little craft, and then they closed the party with a brief singalong.

Hearing thirty young girls sing "Let It Go" is something to behold, truly.
When we got home, Kate was troubled by her half-wiped off face paint, and repainted Elsa's skirt with her watercolor set. She also gave Claire an Elsa on her other cheek, so she could have Elsa too. Not bad for a five year old with a watercolor brush!

Lest we worry that too much Disney magic has squashed the girls' own creativity, tonight they regaled us with tales of their own magic powers. Kate, donning the red dress-up cape, told us she was the Fire Fairy, who started fires for people, like when they were cold, or needed to cook something, or were camping . . . I was glad to learn she was a benevolent fire-starter. She later added "the power to help people catch stuff" to her repertoire. I can't remember why. It had something to do with catching a fish.
Dressed in the white cape, Claire was the Snow Fairy. She told me her powers were "like Elsa's," but Kate elaborated that after the Snow Fairy makes the ice, they put it in blocks on the back of the sled and deliver it to people who need ice. (So I guess Elsa and Christoph run the business of Arendelle's Official Icemaster and Deliverer together!)
By the time we got these little fairies to sleep tonight, Claire had dropped her magic wand over the balcony twice and Kate tore the ribbon tie off her cape, but before all that, they enjoyed a little dinner of play vegetables that the Fire Fairy had helped them to catch—I mean, grow.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Scrapbooking before Kids #TBT

I love to look through my scrapbooks—usually, the more recent ones of our family adventures in the last couple years, seeing how much the kids have grown and changed, etc. But recently I picked an older book off the shelf, and I just marveled at all the fun pages I made back before I had kids!

It's not just that most of our ordinary life and fun events involve the kids now (so of course they feature in most scrapbook pages) but I was also forced to get more creative to even find things to scrapbook. See, it's not just about the events getting documented, but the joy of the craft. When I got/get the urge to scrapbook, I'll find things to scrap about. And, of course, I had more free time to spend hours on a page, cutting out tiny embellishments, stamping out the lettering, etc.

2003: I did a whole two-page spread on the church I went to my last two years of college. (This was my stint in the Episcopal church, discovered through the guy I dated my junior year. I kept going and got even more involved after we broke up—and still went out to lunch with his mom sometimes!)

2007: I used a couple pics of Matt and I enjoying cocktails before a friend's wedding to make a page devoted to a "Friends" quote! (Chandler's boss says "There's no I in team," and Chandler quips, "but there are two in martini, so meet me at the bar!)

and like an elderly shut-in with only the weather to talk about, I did a page about the crazy heat that summer! (I tried to fry an egg on the blacktop. It didn't work.)

2008:  The author of the first book I edited was profiled in the paper (with a sidebar about the book) so i scrapped that, of course. The page protector is cut such that you can actually fold out and read the whole article. Opposite that, I did a page devoted to the beloved rabbit I had my senior year of college.

Actually, I did fancy pages about a lot of the special people and creatures in my life. Here's one all about Charlotte, our "first child," so to speak. She was a gift from Matt for Christmas 2004, so she's almost ten years old now. These pics were from around 2006-7, probably, and they were the most recent I could find when I had to make her "Lost Cat" posters in fall 2011. Sad!
I did a lovey-dovey page about Matt in 2007 too. Like the cat, Mommy and Daddy don't get a lot of photo love after kids, either. 

My dad got some scrapbook love in 2007 when I did a spread about his stint as Kentucky State Parks Commissioner. 

 Sometimes, scrapping was a way to preserve and highlight old photos I had sitting around. These on a page I titled "Pretty Mommy" were of my mom from 1970-71. Love it.

And I honored my grandmother, whose name was passed on from her mother (in center photo) and great-grandmother and is part of Kate's name as well.

I did pages all about our homes in our first years of marriage: the duplex where we first lived, complete with paint samples to show the color scheme of each room!

 And the parsonage we lived in from 2007-2011, including not only a sketch of the floor plan, but a flip book of the floor plans of the duplex and Matt's and my apartments in Nashville during our single days.

Finally, the scrapbook page that changed it all. . . yes, I surprised Matt with the news of our first pregnancy via a scrapbook page. The photos and journaling of Matt's reaction were added later, of course, but I actually did have the sticks there on the page when I opened the book and said, "Check out the scrapbook page I did while you were gone!"

Our lives—and my scrapbooks—would never be the same.

This post is linked up with The Mom Creative's "Throwback Thursday Stories" #TBTstories.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Starting School #TBTstories

Linking up with Throwback Thursday Stories on The Mom Creative.
This week: 1987. I was six.

Kate will start kindergarten two months from tomorrow. That's right—early August. (Last year, I think public schools here started July 31, so at least this is a little closer to "fall.") In any case, I'm super excited about her starting "real school." Field trips, school projects, getting to know her teacher, all that fun stuff. I feel like the dorkiest mom out there to be so excited about this, but maybe I'm not alone. Matt's the one who's feeling misty-eyed about this milestone.

The pictures above were from my first day of first grade. I did preschool and kindergarten at a church preschool, so first grade was the start of my elementary school experience, as kindergarten will be for Kate. I don't know if Kate will pose so adorably on the step of the school bus (or even if we'll have her ride the bus in the mornings) but you can bet I'll be taking pics in front of our house with Kate and her little backpack. She'll be wearing a uniform (public schools here do "standard attire") but otherwise, I don't think the scene will look too much different. Lots of things change, but the excitement and sentimentality over the first day of school is a constant.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Project Life Monthly: April-May

We took a "vacation/staycation" last week, so in addition to a few days away, we enjoyed lots of fun downtime at home—which meant I got to do a lot of scrapbooking, which was so nice. I did my April and May layouts, though our adventures from last week are still forthcoming, of course. (I just uploaded the pics and will share those soon!)

 I did several "traditional" layouts in addition to the Project Life divided pages, including the one above I titled "Springtime Sweeties," with those cute coordinating polka-dot and umbrella papers I've had in my stash for a while.

Below, a few pictures of our kitchen remodel, as we went from peeling white thermofoil and blistering formica to wood and granite. My mom (who really needs to get a job at Home Depot, or as a quality-control inspector for a home builder) project-managed the thing for me, so I included a couple pics of the fun we had while she was in town helping out—Chuck-e-Cheese and the Muppet movie!
 For Easter, I used a 3-3x3 page between two bigger pages to accommodate all the pictures

After Easter, I had a couple pages of other fun stuff we did in April. (I tilted the camera to crop BGC's face out, but both those pics are so cute, I wish I could share. She's getting more of a personality all the time!)
 And the girls loved getting their faces painted at the Main Street Festival in Franklin.
 Then there was May—the first Saturday in May, to be specific! That is, Derby Day. One divided page for a few pics and other little scraps—a brunch ticket, the card of the restaurant Matt and I ate at on our Oaks night date, and a page from the racing guide. I embellished the month card with a Derby ticket on one side and a bit about what the girls did that day on the other.

Two of the traditional pages I did were for Derby (above) and Kate's pre-k graduation (below). Like Easter, I added a 3-3x3 page to the graduation stuff, to include more pictures and the text of the little poem the kids read during the ceremony.
One of the page protectors I used has a long vertical strip, so I gave Kate a strip of paper and asked her to write whatever she wanted, so I could have a good sample of what her handwriting was like as she finished pre-K. She chose to write her own name and the names of the other girls in her class.

I hope you have a hobby that gives you a stress release and creative fulfillment. I love how scrapbooking gives me a creative outlet and creates something special for our family to treasure for years to come.
For more Project Life posts, check out the link-up on The Mom Creative.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Scars Fade

It was a year ago (Saturday, but I didn't get around to blogging) that Claire busted her forehead open on the edge of a church pew. I was so worried about how such a front-and-center scar would bother her in years to come, whether she would want to hide it under bangs or whatnot.

A year later, I can say I highly doubt that will be a concern. We kept it well-sunscreened last summer and moisturized throughout the first six months (I used vitamin-E lotion and Mederma, but read that it's really more the moisturization that helps rather than any specific concoction). And it's already barely noticeable. By the time she's old enough to be self-conscious about such things, it will be hard to spot at all (and for those that do, it will make a great story; the PK whose church-related scars are more than just emotional ;0)

The stitches didn't dissolve like they should have, so they were in a few days longer than necessary, and then I worried that would add to the severity of the scar (2 months after, above). But, by the time I was taking some pictures in advance of Claire's second birthday, I noticed that it depended on the angle whether you saw the thing at all. I used some of these pics on her party invitation, and it probably looked like I photoshopped out the scar in a couple of them, but I didn't touch up any of them—it just looks different at different angles!

So now, one year out, it's not that noticeable at all, and what is is just Claire! She's beautiful, and I believe scars are just part of who we are (don't let my concern over how she would feel about it as a teenager belie that point!) I have a scar in my hairline that no one ever notices (from busting my head open at age 2) but I wouldn't mind if they did, and my stomach is a proud array of markings, from stretch marks to the scar left by my belly button ring, which I left in way too long into my pregnancy with Kate!

Claire is an awesome two-and-a-half year old, and from her serious, observational side to her silly, crazy side, I know she'll have some stories to tell . . . most of which will have nothing to do with a church pew.


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