Friday, July 29, 2011

I Dont't Own a Taxi

Yesterday morning was challenging to say the least. We had vision appointments, swim lessons, and preschool registration all crammed into a morning. After they got us in to our vision appointment 15 minutes late and then after the initial exam and waiting for the Dr for 20 minutes I quickly realized we wouldn't make thing #2 on our schedule, swim lessons. And then after the Dr finally did come in I also quickly realized that, I'd have to leave husband and the kids at the dr's office so I could make my registration window at preschool (there were limited spots and it was first come first serve). Ugh... Welp, husband finished up with the kids before I was done at registration and so he had to walk them 1/4 mile to a restaurant for lunch. And then he just waited it out with them until I was done and could come get them.

We got through the morning and it was one for the memory books. As the stress of it all, and my resounding thankfulness that husband was with us, settled a bit. I had a couple realizations:

1) We're parents to young children now. With H entering preschool (and now getting glasses, I'm sure that'll be another post) and R starting first grade my kids are school age. We're well out of the baby stage and are definitely at peace, well okay I'll be honest very happy, about that. But now we're entering into what I think many moms and dads call the 'taxi driver' stage. And from what I can tell this season lasts several years. We instituted a family rule last spring, that R and H only do one extra curricular activity at a time. So over the next month they both start their special activity. R is doing soccer and H is doing dance. Also I'm going to get involved one weeknight a week at church just for some mommy time which I'm excited about. But overall I can't help but be a little nostalgic of what stage is now officially passing. The days of mid-morning play dates, library story times, afternoon nap time, spur of the moment park picnics and mom always has a snack and sippy cup in her purse (yes I can finally carry one now) days are fading pretty quickly into the background.

2) I have learned that within what is reasonable and realistic we are, in fact, in control of our schedule. Husband and I had a 're-group' discussion the other day as the schedule was starting to hit us full force and we concluded that we're going to have to consciously fight busy-ness fiercely. We will hopefully still maintain lazy (aka not super busy) summers, breaks, and weekends, but the main thing that we're realizing is that this non-busy lifestyle has to be intentional and BY DESIGN. We've kinda always known it but now with four active bodies in our household we're realizing that is just doesn't happen unless we consciously intend it to.

I'm ready for this stage now, I think it has something to do with how parents sorta grow with their kids and as they outgrow things so do we. We're embracing the transitions that are before us even though there will be some growing pains I'm sure its an exciting time nonetheless. And I'm saying it now, "I don't own a taxi!"

Well I better go, the kids have swim lessons and one of them has misplaced their new goggles.

Til next time, remember to find beauty in your midst!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mexican Chili

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This is a really ease recipe. I grew up eating this and it was known as 'Mexi-Rice' some of you may have had it but because its so family friendly and can be varied pretty easily I thought I'd post it.

1 lb of gr meat, I use turkey
1 packet taco seasoning
tdiced onion
1 can mexi-corn
1 can tomato sauce
1 can black beans (optional)
Orzo pasta
Shredded cheese
sour cream

In a large sauce pan, brown the meat in oil, season with 1/2 of taco seasoning packet. Add onion (or I'll use onion powder too). Add corn, tomato sauce, black beans the rest of the seasoning. Stir and cook until heated through.
Meanwhile, make the orzo pasta, or you can do rice (we're have an allergy so we can't). Once the pasta is finished drain it and add it to the meat mixture. Stir and serve with torillas, tortilla chips and the like. Top with cheese and sour cream, or even avacados.
Leftovers of this dish are super yummy too. So you can easily make a double batch. The 2nd day we've eaten them with tortillas as burritoes, or taken in my lunch to work.

*This is also an awesome recipe to use if you need to bring a meal to someone who is gluten free, you can substitute the pasta for brown rice and its delicious as well!

Til next time, remember to find beauty in your midst!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Breaking the Cardinal Rule

We are t-minus 3 weeks away from school starting.
So today I did what any reasonable person would do and I began to sift through the next 20ish days and make a schedule in order to get EVERY OUNCE OF SUMMER LEFT out of the next 20ish days. I figured out when I had in-services, when R has his back to school night and first day of school, I figured out when H has daycare/preschool registration as well as her first day and I figured out when we'll need a babysitter. Not to mention that I need to make sure I remember to include soccer practice and dance for these little people. In the midst of all that chaos I slid in Mountain Man's work schedule.

When that was done I figured I'd just go for the gusto and plot out the school year on the calendar. I got on the school's website and printed off the calendar for R and the calendar for me. I have a different schedule than R, because my class's partner with homeschool families in a co-op sort of situation they only meet a few days a week, and R goes to school on a traditional daily schedule. In spite of that we both do go/work at the same school. The best way to ultimately describe it is that I work in a different department, the homeschooling one. Okay...anyhoo...
I pulled the wall calendar down and I grabbed my purse planner and then I printed off 10 monthly calendar sheets to place in my 'work' binder. And thus I was breaking one of the cardinal rules of using a planner, having multiple working calendars.

The reasons for this are several. Mountain man functions best with the calendar on the wall in the kitchen something he can reference and/or write his work schedule on, so that's the family calendar. I, like most mommies I know, typically need to reference my calendar when I'm out and about or having a playdate. I also have pages in the back of mine with important phone numbers, like dr's, school numbers, things like that. I have opted out of the glorious leather bound Franklin Covey set up for a simple spiral bound notebook planner b/c its small. I can move from bag to bag with ease and its not heavy either, weighing down my bag. Then not to be ignored my work binder needed a calendar for just work appointments. So In essence I suppose you could say that I have three working calendars with the following names; family, mommy, work.

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And yes that's a round blue pencil with a heart and butterfly design. Can you guess what grade I teach?

I printed a calender off of the internet and stuck it in my teaching binder.I teach with months in mind. I like thinking in terms of units and culminating events. So today I was able to start the teacher planning process by writing the milestones of the year down in my teaching calendar in addition to the breaks, inservices, and conferences, etc. This calendar proves precious to me while I'm at work because if a meeting comes up or a student wants to bring a treat for their birthday I can write it on the calendar as it gives me a longer scope to look at.

Now this entire system works really well for me provided that I do the following:
Keep up the maintenance of writing add-on events to the calendars (like if I have to go to school for an evening work event- it needs to written on all 3 calendars).
Communicate bout 'said' events to the hubby if they impact him.
And make sure hubby and I talk about and thoroughly understand the schedule.

I have suffered from the error of forgetting to not maintain the calendars and the result is two scrambling adults who have to figure out how to make it work in the spur of the moment and its not pretty.

Ultimately its not about what kind of calendar you use or in my freak-of-nature way, how many. I think what really matters is if you have found a way for your family to function at its best. So if your household functions with the ebb and flow of the school year, I wish you the best of luck over the next few weeks. I'm betting you may write a few things on your calendar too.

Til next time, remember to find beauty in your midst!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Living in LIGHT

I love taking pictures!!!
I love composing a photo such that others can see exactly what I see when I see it. I've been working with another photographer has her right hand for about 3 seasons (maybe a smidge more than that). And I'm FINALLY feeling like I'm beginning to understand the extent of what photography can offer my life. I invested in a modest DSLR camera and I've purchased a few different lens for it. It's absolutely one of the many favorite things in my life that allow me to really capture the beauty around me. Photos and their presentation are pretty important to me. So much so that I spent a pretty fair amount of time adjusting the template of this blog in order to present the pictures in a bit larger format, for your viewing pleasure of course. :)

Lately I've been able to confidently embrace light. It started to really click for me a few weeks ago on a trip to the mountains with my husband.

Here are my recent favorites with a description.

We happened on an authentic Nepleze restaurant that had prayer flags hanging outside along the rafters. So I snapped this one, but to me it just didn't do the light justice. And then the 'Ah Hah' moment. I could change the amount of light that entered my shutter by adjusting my ISO. So I upped it to 1600 and then:

Please note: I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER, I am probably a smidge above beginner, so if my photography lingo is not quite right I'm sorry. My goal is to simply offer little tidbits that have helped me become better at taking pictures of my life.

We sat down and waited expectantly for our authentic Tibetan yummy-ness and in my euphoria of light I took this one of my husband. This shot is cropped but I didn't do a thing with it, so its STRAIGHT OUT OF the CAMERA.

Then a few days ago. The kids and I picked some flowers out of our yard with the intension to set them on the newly placed kitchen table. We're gearing up for school to start soon and mommy going back to work...and a table in the kitchen is currently part of the master plan.
We set it all up and I took a few steps back to make sure everything was just right and then I was overwhelmed with the light. So I grabbed the camera and started playing with the ISO again. I just messed around with it until I was pleased with the product of just the picture itself. So these next ones are straight from the camera too, no touches. I love how sweetly the light trickles through the window and the curtains to silhouette the vase and flowers.

Back to the trip to the mountains. We happened upon mile and miles of wildflower meadows and so without even realizing it I wasn't just looking for shots to take I was looking for shots to take that had the right kind of lighting to do the subject justice. These photos ARE touched, I played up the shadows and colors of each to offer the best photo possible.


The millionth patch of wildflowers under the shadows of Aspens trees.

I know that these photos won't be any awards any time soon. But my goal was to capture what I saw at that moment. And finally starting to consciously think about light I was able to take a better photo that displayed the image that much more successfully. So if you enjoy taking pictures like me give yourself some opportunities to experiment with light. And I think you'll be amazed at what you come up with.

Til next time, remember to find beauty in your midst!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

This is Where We Are.

Are we there yet? How much longer? Where are we?
How often do I hear that when I'm on a road trip, or simply driving across town for that matter? A lot. But honestly, I can't blame my kids who don't really have a great concept of 'time'. It's coming slowly but surely to my, now, 7 year old son R but my 3 year old, H, doesn't get it. They just know where we started and where we are going and don't always understand the amount of time it will take us to get to the destination. When my response to their questions is, “We’re almost there”, or “It’s going to be a while,” they sit back and enjoy the ride, they look out the window and watch things pass us by. Then five to ten minutes later we have the exact conversation again.
Where are we right now? Well,
We live in Colorado. I'm married to a mid-western turned mountain man who can be found spending his free time on a mountain bike, road bike, using a climbing rope, an ice ax, or backpacking up a mountain with an elevation over 14,000 feet.

We have two kids. Our son is a vibrant seven year old boy. He is full of fun, curiosity, compassion, kindness, and a love of learning. There was a time when I thought he was going to be non-stop energy but the older he gets the more he mellows out and the more I'm convinced that he has enough energy for all the right things. Our daughter is almost four. I really can't believe it. She's coming into her own personality as I write and is full of questions, negotiations, opinions and an overall loveliness that is altogether hard to ever say no to. The kids are in full swing of a summer filled with play dates, sprinkler running, swim lessons, sleeping in (yes, the day has come when they sleep past 7 on a regular basis), reading, and getting bored.

I guess you can say that I am a mid-western turned mountain gal who loves a good view, a great cocktail, a beautifully taken picture, a day in the mountains, and I'm at my best when I'm living comfortable in my own skin . When given the option of doing whatever I want; I will opt for a night out with my mountain man enjoying a great cocktail, a good view, a gentle breeze and quality live music. I spend my weekdays as a teacher, and enjoy the perks of the best schedule a mom can ever ask for when it comes to working. I am currently enjoying the summer with my kids and all the cooking, reading, cleaning, and relaxing that it entails. It. Is. Glorious.

This is where we are. In Colorado. Living a busy life. Growing a couple kids. Falling in love with many things each day. Challenging ourselves to be better every day. We have many goals, dreams and hopes. But like so many things I can't define the road ahead. I know the constancy of my every day surroundings thats where I find peace. I’m like my children, all I can do is tell you where we are and where we are supposed to end up. I can tell you the lessons I learned along the way and I can tell you the things I remember. I can also tell you my goals, hopes and dreams. But to tell you how exactly those goals, hopes and dreams will happen is impossible for me. I can boast of my plans and my strategies, oh yes! But if I’ve learned anything in the ragtag bunch of years under my belt it’s that today has enough worry of its own. I won’t waste my energy on tomorrow’s worries. Tomorrow is coming whether I want it to or not so I’ll prepare as best as I can and for the rest I’ll have to lay it at His feet and walk behind Him as He leads the way.
Because, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life.” Matthew 7:12
And like my children’s simple faith, I’m content with sitting back and enjoying the ride.

Til next time, remember to find beauty in your midst!