Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Night Football

That's my cute mom with Flowering Buttercup and her friend, Bethany.  We thought about making a bunch of food and getting there super early to tailgate with the other fans, but since it was 100+ degrees again today, we ate all that great football food in our air conditioned dining room and got to the stadium five minutes before kick off.  Hooray for season tickets!!
Can you see the players coming down the steps of the Athletic Complex?  With the music playing on the Jumbo Tron and the fans cheering, it was like these guys were rock stars!  Seriously amazing!!
Then they ran through the Eagle...

...and straight into the arms of their adoring fans in the student section. 
Guess who scored first?
They sold sold 24,000 tickets to a game in a stadium that seats 18,000!  Can you see all those poor people who didn't get seats?  Flowering Buttercup and I thought we'd be adventurous and wander over to the other section to find some friends, but it was seriously wall to wall people...mostly students...holy freaking cow!
Halftime!  (My favorite part of the game.)
(that says E A G L E S...)
Post game picture...oh, and that might be the FINAL SCORE in the background...don't worry that you can't see the other team's score because guess what?  they didn't!!  WOOHOO!!  We totally shut out last year's undefeated state champions....the amazing Southlake Carroll Dragons!

We had SO much fun tonight.  We're exhausted and stinky and hoarse from yelling our heads off, but there's no place else I'd rather be on a Friday night than at an amazing high school football game.   And the new stadium Taj MaALLEN is everything we hoped it would be.



Can you feel the excitement coming from Allen, TX today??   It's everywhere!  It's in the grocery stores, in the schools, in the air!  It's even on the street signs...

I'm not sure I've ever had such a surge of excitement over a traffic sign...

except when the anticipated "heavy delays" are caused by the first FOOTBALL game in the new AHS stadium!!

I'm so excited I can hardly stand it!  I might have to post pictures every hour until the game tonight...just kidding...that's a little obnoxious...(maybe every TWO hours)

High Five for Friday

If you're reading this, then it means my kids have gotten through the first five days of school, Flowering Butterfcup has made it to early morning Seminary exactly twice this week, the Scout Master has returned from somewhere in south Texas, and my mom's flight arrived safely last night.  It also means that everyone is currently where they're supposed to be and I'm not curled up in a ball somewhere.  Hopefully, by the time you read this, I'll be out doing some major shopping and then having lunch with my mom.

Here are the highlights of an amazing week...

1.  LOVE this station!!
2.  Girls who love school
3.  A whole week of healthy, cute lunches!
4.  School shopping and date night with Mack 
I could get used to having Wednesday nights free to hang out with my boy!

(and...this one was my favorite...)
5.  Flowering Buttercup has made some new friends this week.  Apparently this one recognized that she's no ordinary white girl!  (I seriously laughed all Monday night when she sent this to me.  Hilarious!!)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Good Enough

I read this today on one of the blogs I follow...
The Happiness Project
...isn't it weird how sometimes the whole universe testifies of whatever thing you most need to work on?  That's been the message of the week apparently.  I've read it in books and magazines.  I've heard it on TV.  I've received emails about slowing down, relaxing, not being in constant motion.

On Sunday, right after the Scout Master finished the kids' school blessings, we were all just sort of hanging around.  Kids had been hugged.  First day advice had been given.  No one was really jumping up to go anywhere.  And the "blessing giver" was still standing there next to that very inviting, very empty chair.  So guess what I did?  I jumped in it!   Well...I'm starting a new school year, too, right?  (sort of...)  I always find it an honor and a privilege to receive a priesthood blessing, so I always jump at the chance to get one.   And I'm almost always startled at how personal and relevant they are to whatever my challenges are at the moment, even the ones I haven't talked about.  In this one, the Scout Master mentioned several things that I've been thinking about...his travel schedule, the kids' school schedule, my lack of one.  But then he said something about not being stressed out this week as I prepare for my mom's visit.  

(OK...inserting here that it is NOT stressful for me to have my mom here.  I'm SO excited about her visit, even though it's way too short.)  

BUT the Scout Master knows me. And I know me.  We both know how I think, and stress, and plan, and clean, and then spontaneously combust when guests of any kind are coming over, especially when they're sleeping here.  The cleaning frenzy that I typically go into has been known to leave a pretty big wake of very stressed out family members behind. 

I'm not sure why I'm such a perfectionist or why it matters to me so much what the house looks like.  But the fact is, I am and it does.  After hearing that on Sunday, though, I had a very clear thought that if my mother walked in the door unexpectedly, right at that moment, two things would be true...

1.  My house would be neither filthy nor disgusting.
2.  She wouldn't care.

Let's face it, I'm a pretty clean, pretty organized kind of a girl.  I don't love clutter or messy kitchens and I make my kids do weekly jobs to cover all the things I don't actually enjoy doing myself (toilets and microwaves.)  So, it's not like we're going to be appearing on that Hoarders show anytime soon.   And...!  My mother is not coming to inspect my house.  She might notice a stray dust bunny or a few dishes that haven't made it into the dishwasher yet, but she wouldn't say anything.  In fact, she wouldn't even think anything.  She's coming to see my family not my house.

So, I decided Sunday night that I was going to just let it be good enough this time.  I was not going to turn this week into a mad rush of fixing, tidying and straightening.  I'm not cleaning out my closet or re-organizing the pantry.  I'm not pressure washing the blinds or having the carpet cleaned.  I might not even get those darn pictures up on the wall.  Instead, I'm going to breathe.  And I'm going to worry about the things that are the other people in my house.  Like clean sheets on the bed and good food in the kitchen.  Like the part where I'm going be able to introduce her to the people we love this time, and the part where she's coming to the first AHS football game with us on Friday night!  And like how glad I am that she's coming all the way from Hawaii to visit us!!  

The house is already good enough.  It doesn't need to be perfect.  She'll be here in less than 12 hours and I'm not rushing around trying to make it perfect.  I'm just visualizing a happy, relaxing weekend...with my mom!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

the Bay City Rollers

I know I already wrote a post today, but I had one of those "thought trains" that I needed to record.  

This afternoon, on the way to pick up Mack from Cub Scouts, I was listening to the 70s on 7 station on the radio.  (I super love that station and the 92.5 classic rock station on regular radio.)  Usually there's a cycle of songs and artists that they play pretty regularly that I've gotten used to...Wish You Were Here (PF), Crazy on You (Heart), lots of Boston, Gordon Lightfoot, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac...but today there was an obscure song that I hadn't heard before on that station, but was still sort of familiar.  

Rock and Roll Love Letter by the Bay City Rollers

Do you remember the Bay City Rollers???  All of a sudden, listening to that song, I had this crazy flashback of being sprawled out on my parents' orange shag carpeted living room floor,  watching them on TV.

For a minute, I wondered if that was really a show or if I was just remembering something else...but the miracle of Google brought back all the details.  Did you watch this show?  I think I watched every show in the 70s...especially if there was music involved.  Anyway, it was a totally obscure, totally happy memory for about 2 1/2 minutes between carpooling this afternoon.  


I've been working on a project this morning...a BIG MONUMENTAL.  It's something I've needed and wanted to do much ever, but I've never done it.   I don't know why?  Too scary, too time consuming, too hard?  But yesterday someone came over and asked a question that I've answered a million times in the last two years and never really thought about the way I did after she left.  

"Well, now that the kids are all in school, what do you have planned for your days?"  

I gave her a few good answers...organize stuff, exercise, read, clean.  She was satisfied.  But I wasn't.  I thought about that question ALL DAY LONG!  You know that feeling when something pesters you to death and doesn't let you ignore it?  Well, that was this question for  me yesterday.   I thought about what to put in my newly, re-acquired 6 hour space.  I polled the audience and asked  the advice of my husband and some of my friends who wish they had 6 hours to fill.  One of them gave me a list of all the things she would do if she were me.  But I hated that list because she's not me and I'm not her.  So I spent the day cooking things and reading books and listening to music and cleaning corners.  I read scriptures and did family history and even found three generations of people I didn't have before.  I bought school supplies and put brand new sheets on Spell Girl's bed and cleaned out Mack's dresser (again.)  And guess what?  At the end of a very full, very satisfying, very tiring day, I knew that I had once again successfully avoided the REAL answer to that question.  You know, like in college, the way you all of a sudden feel compelled to clean the entire desk and sharpen every pencil when you know you have a massive final to study for?  But guess what else?  Now that all my surfaces are shiny and all my pencils are sharpened, I kinda don't have any choice but to address the ELEPHANT that has been exposed in the center of my very clean room.

So...I'm diving in...head first.  It's time consuming!  It's emotionally exhausting!  It's crazy scary!  But I'm doing it anyway.  Hopefully I'll come to love this big thing.  I'll fill you in on more details later...maybe...but for now, just know that I am happily immersed in that elephant up there.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Flashback Tuesday

Since we're in Back to School mode around here, I thought I'd post a few first day of school pictures from forever ago...
Flowering Buttercup 2nd grade - Mendon 2004
FB (3rd grade), Spell Girl (1st grade) and June (Kindergarten) - Mendon 2005
FB (4th grade), SG (2nd grade) and June (1st grade) - Mendon 2006
Mack (Kindergarten) - Mendon 2008
I remember every one of those days like they happened yesterday.   Eight years ago, I had one child in school and three little ones at home.  And in another 8 years, when Mack is a SENIOR, I'll have only one left in school.  I can't believe how fast the years fly by.

Don't forget to wander over to Jen's cute blog to see other great Flashback posts.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The First Day of School

Day One of my plan to be domestically amazing went pretty smoothly.  I didn't do everything I wanted to do, but there are 179 more school days, so hopefully I can fit a few more things in later.  I had such a restless night of sleep last night worrying that I wouldn't hear my alarm, worrying about whether everyone had everything they needed, worrying about my breakfast and lunch plans...I was exhausted when that alarm finally went off at 6:00am.  But I dragged myself out of bed and made Baked French Toast (from Pioneer Woman.)  This is the second time I've tried a "baked" version of french toast and I don't think I'll try another one.  If you like bread pudding, you will LOVE this.  It's really custard-y and the brown sugar topping makes it really sweet and yummy, but I'm not a fan of the consistency of bread pudding.  And they take kind of a long time to bake.  (Helpful reminder for people trying to be amazing:  Take COOKING TIMES into account when planning recipes.)  The rest of my family liked it, though, so I was happy they had a hot breakfast before they walked out the door.  

Round One...Elementary School
Mack (4th grade) and his two buddies leave at 7:30am.

Round Two...Middle School
Spell Girl (8th grade) and June (7th grade) ride in a carpool with my neighbor...what a HUGE help that is in the morning.  School starts for them at 8:20am.

Round Three...High School
Flowering Buttercup (10th grade) was in such a hurry, I can't even believe she stopped long enough to let me take this picture.  She missed her 6:00 alarm and only had 45 minutes to get ready!  EEK!!
School starts at 8:15 for her.

I made everyone's lunches while the french toast baked, and they were so cute I had to take a picture.

I was feeling pretty great knowing that my kids had healthy lunches that were also pretty darn beautiful...until I got this text at 11:30...

The cookies taste like FISH!!  Really??  UGH... 
(Helpful Reminder for people trying to be amazing: Don't cook salmon on those silpat things and think you can wash the smell out.    Apparently it lingers...and then transfers to the next thing you cook.  And chocolate chip/salmon cookies aren't all that tasty.)

Aside from the salmon flavored cookies, the day was great.  I had time to talk to the Scout Master before he left for his trip.  I went to lunch with Amy.  I found all three of my middle school carpool girls even though they've changed the routes there.  And most importantly, the kids all had a GREAT first day of school.  I'm so happy that they love making new friends and starting a new school year.   

Sunday, August 26, 2012

New Schedules

We have a new Sunday schedule.  Typically, wards change in January, but our stake changes with the new school year, so on the first Sunday every September, we rotate to a different block of meetings.  (We changed a week early this year because there were some ward boundary changes last week and two more wards were added to our stake.)  We've been going to church from 9-12 and now we're going from 1-4.  I know people who hate this schedule, but it's MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE!  I LOVE going to church late in the day.  It's not that I don't like to wake up early.  I'm usually up by 7am anyway.  But I don't like to BE anywhere early.  I'd rather take my time getting ready.  I like to make breakfast and still have time to eat it AND clean the kitchen.  I like to have extra time to finish up a lesson for church.  I like to change my outfit 50 times and make sure every hair is curled or straightened or whatever I decide to do with it.  I like to have time to change my mind if I want to...which I usually do.  Today felt like such a luxury.  I woke up at 7am and read a book.  Then I made Banana Crumb Muffins for breakfast 
The Girl Who Ate Everything
(I know it said something different on the menu I just made yesterday, but the bananas weren't going to wait until whenever I had these muffins planned, so some shifting had to happen.)

At 11:30am, I drove Flowering Buttercup and Spell Girl to the church for BYC (in my sweats and with my hair in curlers...because I still had a whole HOUR and 15 minutes before I had to be ready.)  At 12:40pm, I was totally ready when the Scout Master decided we should leave.  I had a perfectly curled-on-purpose ponytail, matching jewelry, and none of my make up had to be put on in the van!  That never happens with the 9:00 church schedule.  

At 12:50pm, we were sitting in our regular bench and everyone had everything they needed.  Flowering Buttercup was on the stand ready to give her talk (which was awesome btw) and the rest of us were happy to be at church.  The girls and I sang In the Hollow of Thy Hand with my friend, Jeanette and her daughter, for the missionary who is about to leave for Denver.  And it wasn't painfully high because it was 1:30pm and not 9:30am.  (It still sounded a little breathy to me, but I think it was the song...that thing has been around since the 70s, hasn't it?  I think it's time to write another missionary farewell that you can sing for a boy or a girl!)

By 4:30pm (after our cleaning assignments in the building) we were at home, back in sweats and I was starting dinner.  We ate at 5:30pm (our newly scheduled dinner time.)  And after dinner, the Scout Master gave the kids father's blessings since school starts tomorrow.  At 6:45pm, Flowering Buttercup and I drove to the Seminary Kick-off and met her new/old seminary teacher (he's the same one she had last year...I hope he doesn't mind two years in a row of her 6:00am enthusiasm.)  We got back home at 8:30pm and I finished some last minute details for breakfast and lunches tomorrow, and the kids were all in bed by 9:00pm. 
ok...maybe it was 9:30...

It sounds like it was a crazy Sunday, but it wasn't.  It was relaxing and enjoyable and I loved every minute of it.  I did everything I wanted to do and still managed to read a few chapters of my book, get some spiritual nourishment, and stick to my plan...all with a perfect ponytail!  The only thing I haven't managed to do today is get to bed at a decent hour...maybe tomorrow...  

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Getting Ready

Is it awful that I'm SO excited that school starts on Monday??   I know there are lots of moms who mourn the first day of school, but I'm not really one of them.  I seriously can't wait to have more structure to my days.   I LOVE summer.  I LOVE having my kids home all day everyday for three whole months.  But I also really, really LOVE the schedule that we're forced back into when school rolls around every fall.   By the time November and December come, I'm sure I'll be ready for another break, but until then, I will happily plan to thoroughly enjoy my 6 hours of kid-free time.  I already have a list a mile long of things I want to fill my days with.  It's a good thing the school year is long.  I definitely need to figure out how to pace myself.  

Today, I spent all morning on Pinterest planning menus for the next two weeks.  I planned breakfast 6 days a week (they can fend for themselves on Saturdays since most of them don't even wake up until lunchtime anyway.)  I found tons of easy recipes for dinners for the next two weeks and posted them on the fridge (mostly to remind me what I need to do the night before or the day of, so it's not a surprise at 5pm.)  And in order to make sure we actually eat dinner together AT HOME every night, I've bumped that up to 5:30pm instead of 6:00pm.   Then I made my list and bought groceries for the whole advance...and I only spent $100!!  (I wouldn't suggest doing that on the Saturday before school starts, though.  Next time I'll shop on a weekday morning.)

The best thing I did today, though, was plan school lunches and healthy after school snacks. I found these awesome lunch containers (super inexpensive which made me happy, earth-friendly which makes Spell Girl very happy, and re-useable which means fewer purchases of those little Ziploc bags.)
$3.97 for a set of two at Walmart

I cooked an entire crockpot of chicken breasts this morning and shredded them all up for chicken noodle soup tomorrow night, chicken salad sandwiches for Monday's lunch and enough leftover for  Chicken Lo Mein on Tuesday night.  Thanks, Amanda, for the great idea to cook A LOT of chicken and shred it all at once.  What would I ever do without smart friends??

I've thought for a lot of years that my least favorite part of the school day is when the kids come home after school and just graze until dinner.  I've had a "snack shelf" in the pantry of every house we've ever lived in and they've gotten very casual about their snacking.  In the summer I could barely keep that shelf stocked for three days before they had devoured everything on it it, including any stray stale cracker that might have escaped a previous week.  I really would like to have more control over what they're eating.  They're active, healthy kids, so I'm not worried about their weight, but we could all use a little less processed, boxed stuff in our lives, right?  And if I have 6 WHOLE HOURS everyday to just hang out in my house, why not use a little of that time to have a plan for something better than chips and oreos?  You might have noticed that there wasn't a single snack on that grocery list I made.  I didn't get ANY...not even for lunches.  I'm feeling ambitious and motivated...

I made 4 dozen chocolate chip cookies for lunches this week

and here are some awesome ideas I found for afterschool snacks

I LOVE having a plan and carrying it out.  It makes life so much easier when I have a list I can follow.  I'm looking forward to a great new school year, and much less stress around meal times (and more pedicures in my future with all the $ I save)