Snow Days

One of the things that excited me about moving to the Pacific Northwest was the milder climate. Winters aren’t long or harsh like they are in the Midwest. To be honest, I’ve been secretly waiting for the moment I could stick my thumbs in my ears, wiggle my fingers and say Na-na-na-na-boo-boo pbthpbthpbth…to family and friends when they complained about the bitter cold and shoveling lots of snow. Because I’m mature like that.

But the Midwest had a very mild fall and not even any snow on Christmas. Where’s the fun in rubbing it in when they had the same or sometimes better temps in the middle of December? I was bummed. Just a little. But I knew the day of winter-reckoning would come. Because winter always comes to the Midwest. Especially in January.

From what I hear, winter finally hit back East, I love saying that, with seasonably cold temperatures and snow. We had a little snow up here too, in case you hadn’t heard.

But we didn’t even bother to shovel the driveway. That’s right. We stayed home, enjoyed the snow, drank lots of hot chocolate, and even used the driveway as a sledding hill. Well I didn’t. Go sledding that is. No need to injure my dignity. Or my tailbone.

We knew that the snow would all be gone in just a few days. So this is me rubbing it in to you unfortunate souls in winter-Midwest-wonderland.

We enjoyed our week of winter. Are you enjoying yours? 🙂

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Frosty Is Feeling So Fine

In case you haven’t heard, the Pacific Northwest has been hit by a winter storm that has dropped about a foot of snow on our doorstep. Mr. Peppermint has been enjoying all the fluff that’s fallen this week. Yesterday morning, I looked out and saw our snowman standing strong, the grass underneath him now covered in a blanket of fresh white snow with a bootprint pattern made by three little girls.

All that snow gave him a new ‘do which I think I’ve seen somewhere before…

Why does that look so familiar?

HEY!!

First Snow

It’s been quite a week and a half around here. First, our oven broke. And it took a week for the broken part to get ordered and installed. A week of meals mostly consisting of soup and whatever I could make in the brand new crockpot that I got with a Christmas gift card. Thanks Mom & Dad!  It was especially challenging because I have a pretty tight food budget. And I’d already spent it on the meal plan I made before the oven broke.

The same day the oven was fixed, our clothes dryer broke. So we are now in the trying-to-figure-out-if-it’s-worth-fixing-the-old-dryer-or-should-we-replace-it stage. Meanwhile, our house has become “laundry world.” That’s what the girls call it when all of our clothes are drip-drying from the furniture. 

This has made keeping my new year’s goals a little bit more difficult. You know, the one about me getting everything ready for morning the night before? Kinda hard to do when the dining room table has socks and t-shirts drying on it. So there’s been a lot more wobbling than balancing this week. But that’s okay. I will find balance again.

I’m just praying that no other appliances decide to break. Last night the dishwasher made a strange growly-buzzing noise for a minute when we started to run it. I would probably run around the house screaming for a minute if that happened. Or just get over it and start washing the dishes by hand. You know. Whichever is easier.

Isn’t it funny how extra challenges seem to come your way when you make a goal for yourself? Or maybe that’s just me.

This morning I woke up to shrieks and squeals that reminded me of Christmas morning. The girls were just a little bit excited to see this:

Forget about eating breakfast. They bundled up and out they went!

Look, Mom!

There wasn’t much, but it was heavy, wet…

Rollin’, rollin,’rollin…

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’…

perfect for building a snowman!

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’…

Grammy gave them a “snowman kit” in their Christmas package that they had been desperately wanting to use. But one particularly dramatic child that I won’t name was pretty sure we would never get enough snow. But as it turns out, you don’t need much snow.

You just need the right kind of snow.

 What shall we name him?

[shouted simultaneously]

“Frosty the Snowman!”

“Bob!”

“Peppermint!”

Okay. May I introduce Frosty Bob Peppermint. Mr. Peppermint for short.

Our snowman.

I’m curious. What kinds of challenges have you faced when trying to reach a goal? Leave a comment and let me know how you faced your challenge.

Finding My Balance

I remember when I first learned to ride a bike. Those first few times, the wheels wobbled because I was afraid to really try. Afraid I might fall. I didn’t realize that not giving it my whole effort made the wheels wobble more. Not surprisingly, I fell.  But then, I found my courage. And my balance. Trusted the bike to hold me up & pushed those pedals around, steady and strong. Suddenly, I was joy. Free. The wind blew my hair behind me and I knew that nothing in the world could stop me!

That’s how it usually goes whenever I face a new challenge. I try. Sometimes afraid. I wobble, maybe fail. But if I have the courage to keep trying, I will find again that feeling of flying. A goal accomplished. Everything feels right in the world.

I’ve never made New Year’s resolutions because by their very nature, they seem doomed to failure before they start. However, this year our family has decided to make a new year’s goal together that can be summed up in one word: balance.  Between my husband working on finishing his PhD and keeping up with a new job, all of us learning to live in a brand new part of the the country, me keeping the house running while homeschooling our three girls, and trying not to worry about money, we have a lot of things to juggle! And some days, quite honestly, we feel like we’re wobbling all over the place and we’ll never get it right. For us, balance means we make small, but (hopefully) significant changes to our daily routine over the course of the year that will help us keep everything in perspective & focus on what really matters.

Here are a few of my small, practical and totally reasonable personal goals for this year that will help me find my balance.

1. Wake up before the girls. Every morning, not just when we have to go somewhere. This means, of course, that I will have to actually get up when my alarm goes off and not a half hour later. You probably already have this one down, but I’ve always been the stay up late and sleep in kind of gal. But this is the year I change that. I read somewhere that getting to the classroom early allows a teacher to set the tone for the day. But no matter how much preparation is done the night before, if a teacher gets to the classroom at the last minute or heaven forbid after some of the kids, then the children decide how the day will go. Since my house is our classroom, I think the same goes here. When I wake up early, get dressed & ready for the day and if I’m really on top of things have breakfast ready with a smile when they get up, I am setting a positive mood and tone for the day. But if they are up first, pull all the toys out of the toy box, or start a massive art project with glitter, scissors and glue while I’m in the shower, I’ve let them decide for me that I will have a stress-filled day.

2. Get (and keep) the kids involved with the daily kitchen chores. There’s only so much a Mom can do in a day. Especially when Mom is also the school teacher. Have you ever tried to prepare 3 meals a day and clean up after while simultaneously whipping up a science experiment, checking English worksheets and getting ready for history lessons (not to mention keeping track of a busy preschooler)? If you are anything like me, something has to give. And around here it’s usually the housework. Except that you can’t leave the dishes on the table or counter for later when the table and counter are where you do school. Well, you can try, but it isn’t pretty. Or conducive to learning. Don’t ask me how I know this.

Each of my three girls now has a daily kitchen job to be done immediately before or after each meal. I assigned their jobs according to age & ability. Yes, even the almost 4 year old. She gets to run the Eureka Superbroom to suck up the crumbs under the table. She thinks this is awesome and so do I since most of the mess is hers & I don’t have to clean it up anymore 🙂 The eight year old and she would want me to tell you that she’s almost a 7 year old are helping with the table, counter and dishwasher. This means less overall stress for me and teaching life lessons, to boot. I think that’s a win-win.

3. Get ready for morning the night before. I’ve been doing this for a long time when it comes to getting things ready for Sunday mornings. Before going to bed on Saturday night, I have the girls’ clothes laid out, church bags ready by the door, coffee ready to brew, breakfast dishes on the table and all non-refrigerated food items staged for go time. If I’m really on the ball, I’ll even get my shower out of the way the night before. I’m always impressed with how smoothly it all goes on Sunday mornings as we are getting ready for church. I guess I’m a little slow in figuring out I should be doing this every morning. It seems like a small thing, but it makes everything easier and without feeling like the morning is half-gone before everybody is dressed and has eaten breakfast.

I have one more goal that I’m working on this year, but it deserves a post all it’s own. In the meantime, I’ll be wobbling working, slow and steady on keeping these three goals. It should be no worse than learning to ride a bike, right?

Have you set any new goals for yourself this year? I’d love to hear about them!

“I Got What I Wanted For Christmas!”

For those of you familiar with our girls, it will come as no surprise that our middle child was super emotional when she actually got what she wanted for Christmas:  the Melissa & Doug wooden cookie set and felt sandwich set.

Remember, this is the girl who screamed, “Winner! Best! Present! Ever!!!” after receiving a multi-pack of scotch tape with her present for Christmas last year.

But you’ll have to take my word on it because we don’t have a video or picture of the moment. Nobody thought to get a camera ready before she opened that present.

She’s never been one to hide her true feelings. That’s what makes her unique and a special part of our family.

I must admit that I had fun building the suspense and leading her on to believe that she wasn’t going to get what she wanted this year. Because that’s the kind of sneaky Mom I am 😉

But I wasn’t being totally dishonest, because I wasn’t planning on getting these for her until I ended up with a gift certificate AND hit a 50% off sale just in time to get it delivered for the holiday weekend. Gotta love that!

This time we had the camera ready. So you can enjoy the I’ve-just-opened-the-best-present-ever-and-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-myself moment with us.

I'm so excited!

...And I just can't hide it!

...I'm about to lose control!

Merry Christmas!

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