Friday, July 6, 2012

Christmas in July

My parents are visiting us in the Arctic this week. We've been looking for things to do, and I figured since one of my favorite childhood memories is decorating Christmas cookies with my mom, why not share the memory with my children. Audrey was the most excited about Christmas in July and kept asking, "We're really making Christmas cookies? When it's not even Christmas??"

She was so excited, she sorted through and played with all of the Christmas cookie cutters last night, discussing the merits of each one with Grandma. She couldn't wait to cut the dough.

I set the mood with some Christmas music:

And even the boys who were busy building a treehouse with Dad took a break to come in to decorate.

Although we were all in the presence of the Master Decorator,

the kids still did things in their own style: a la lots-o-icing.

And that's only because a la lots-o-icing tastes so delicious.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Welcome to Our New Dining Room

I've skipped a lot of details on Treasured Chapters...including the fact that we just built and moved into a new house. We signed the contract back in December and broke ground not long after that. In comparison with the last two houses we built, this one was the easiest.

My family keeps asking for the grand tour. I'm the biggest perfectionist, so I want the house to be perfectly clean and perfectly decorated before posting photos. I'm also the biggest procrastinator, so let's be honest in saying that won't happen anytime soon.

So let me take you on a tour of the dining room to begin with. I love the arches that look into the dining room from the kitchen.

And I love the big slider that leads out to the backyard and also provides lots of natural light for the room.

While this room is the closest to being finished of all of the rooms, there is one thing that still needs to be done:

Paint. It will eventually have a coat of Grasshopper Wing on its walls (that's the third color on this swatch).

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4th with the Family

When holidays roll around, I get a little bit family around. And typically most of our friends travel to visit their families. To make things worse for me on this holiday, we really did not have a plan. I was somewhat comforted when we finally made the decision to spend the day at a local amusement park, a day that would culminate in a fireworks show.

And we did have a good time at Lake Compounce. There was a perfectly patriotic ride the kids had never been on before. It wasn't a huge hit, but it was a great photo venue.

The kids enjoyed riding all of their favorite rides.

And they cooled off at the water park and filled their bellies with unhealthy snacks.

Unfortunately, the amusement park authorities decided to postpone the fireworks show because of a 30% chance of thunderstorms. (Of course, these thunderstorms never happened; I'm sure there will be the same chance of thunderstorms on Friday when they plan to go through with the show.)

We had a pretty good evening anyway. The kids played in our backyard.

First, there was Bocce (or Boules as we called it in Africa).

And there was badminton.

(Jacob consulting with Audrey to give her some pointers about her game.) 

"Real" fireworks are illegal here in CT, but just like in GA, people just drive over to another state to get the good stuff. Unfortunately, we didn't have time this afternoon for a trip to NH, so we picked up a box of the tame poppers that are permitted here.

There was quite an assortment:

We were all so sweaty and filthy, we went ahead and did our show before it got completely dark. The boys took on the task this year of helping run the show.

There was one stubborn one that would not light...until Michael threw a rock at it, and then it sparkled on to the ground.

The rest sparkled very well, however.

All in all, I would rate this 4th of July memorable as far as family time goes. Not so much on the patriotic party atmosphere...I think I'll start planning for next year.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Mark and the boys have been busy planning the last few days, but the boys are more than ready to move on from the planning phase to the doing phase. Ever since we moved into our new house, the boys have been asking for something fun to be added to the trees behind our house...a swing, a treehouse, anything besides boring ol' trees. So they have collaborated with their dad to come up with a plan for a treehouse.

They have the plan on paper, they went to Home Depot to itemize a list of necessary materials, and Mark put the boys to work using their math skills to figure the cost of the project. But Mark hasn't felt well the last couple of days and so the project has stalled a bit. That's why the boys have decided to take matters into their own hands.

They begin to clear a spot surrounding the tree around which the treehouse will wrap:

I think the soccer socks were a smart choice on Michael's part to deal with that scratchy underbrush that likes to bite ankles.

Jacob tries to uproot a small invasive tree:

All of his pushing, pulling, and prodding is not making much of an impact, so he takes a rest to consider his next move.

Perhaps an ax will accomplish the task:

And if not, there are always Dad's golf clubs. Think it'll work?

(And don't worry, Mark, I gave away my secret upstairs photo lair to rescue the golf club and keep it from being bashed into oblivion.)

LOVE these boys!

Sunday, July 1, 2012


I cringe when I hear some mothers talking about the schedules their kids, basketball, music lessons, swimming, karate, homework. And that's all in one day. Plus somewhere in there is a hurried dinner that is picked up and eaten on the go. We have never set a very harried pace for our children. I don't know whether it is out of laziness on our part since we are the chauffeurs or a concern for our children. I would guess it's a little mixture of both. It seems parents these days are so worried about what little Johnny may get into if he has any spare moments in which to think for himself that they fill every second of his day for him. I knew we did not want that for our children.

This different approach does have its downsides, in sports. Most kids our kids' ages have been pushed and pushed to fill their every spare moment participating in and practicing their sport of choice (or of Mom and Dad's choosing). We have been a bit more lax in this area. We have encouraged our kids to try out different sports and focus on those they like, but we didn't start extremely young, and we have not forced them into Olympic training style schedules either. As a result, they don't have as much experience under their belt as their peers might. I know that fact was a little bit disheartening for the boys last year in soccer.

And that is why I jumped at the opportunity to join an informal homeschool soccer group. A homeschool dad in the area has volunteered his time to coach any homeschool children who wish to play. I knew Jacob would be interested, so I signed him up. Alex, upon learning her friend would be playing, decided she too wanted to participate even though her sport is basketball. I still couldn't convince Michael to play, but it was to be a family event yesterday anyway, so we all went. Wouldn't you know, as soon as we drove up, Michael said, "I changed my mind. I want to play." Thankfully, he had had the forethought to wear tennis shoes.

They all had a great time playing, and all three of them did an awesome job. (I don't even think there is any Mama bias in that statement.) Even Alex who claims she does not play soccer and really only joined for social reasons did well. And I loved the dynamics of the play - there were all ages represented, yet everyone still pulled his/her own weight in the scrimmage. It was indeed low pressure, and I think as a result not quite so intimidating as some of these events can be.

And...the soccer players even had their own cheerleader. She wasn't feeling well Saturday, but I think we may be able to convince her to give soccer a try next time.