Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter dress up

Easter means many things in our family. First, foremost, most importantly, it is a celebration of the resurrection of Christ. But there are other little traditions that make Easter fun. One tradition we share with most other families I know is that Easter means new dresses and white sandals. If you're really feeling fancy, you might also get a new hat or gloves to go with your new dress.

This year, L was extremely easy. She pulled a beautiful, long, fluffy, pink and white concoction out of the hand-me-down bins (from when K could actually be convinced to wear a beautiful, long, fluffy, pink and white concoction) and she declared that she had found her Easter dress. Truth to be told, she really just wanted to wear the same dress she wore last year - it's pink, sparkly, and twirls (a perfect dress trifecta) - but I convinced her that she should wear the one that was "new" to her.

K, on the other hand, has moved to the juniors department and so we spent an evening at a local department store where she found racks of dresses she liked, but we had a heck of a time finding one with an appropriate neckline. I threatened to shorten the straps on almost every one she tried on. Thankfully, the one she liked best was extremely modest, especially after the addition of knee-length capris.

It turned out that finding a dress was the easiest part. K's dress is gray pin-striped and I knew it needed a splash of bold color, so I wanted to get a large flower for her hair. We had a...difference of opinion regarding the perfect kind of flower (not too floppy) and the perfect color (bright). We finally compromised on an orange rose and I heaved a sigh of relief that the worst was over.

Until this morning.

We had to get up and dressed incredibly early and the girls were grumpy. I fixed L's hair with a side ponytail and a large pink rose she had picked out.

Then I moved to K's hair. K has lovely hair - incredibly thick, loose curls, a golden brown that burns a fiery copper in the sunlight. It's the kind of hair most women would kill for, but it simply frustrates K to death. I pulled it into a loose side ponytail and she argued about the curly bangs. She's been growing them out for awhile, but they still curl mercilessly. She wanted them pulled straight and pinned down, but I figure she's got to learn to embrace the curl sometime. So again, we compromised and I pulled the bangs over to one side and carefully arranged the curls. She was still grumpy about it, but she got a ton of compliments. Honestly, it's the absolute perfect look for her hair. Then she left it the way I fixed it even when she changed and we went to some friends' house for a cook out.

It's nice to know that she did decide that I was right.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Getting up in the morning

It's 7:45am. I'm sitting up in bed and checking my email on my cool new iPad when I hear a knock at my bedroom door and a dark head peeked around the corner.

"Isn't it time to go?"

I assured her that we didn't have to leave until 8:45. The head disappeared and I went back to my browsing.

The clock turned to 8 and the head popped back in. "It's 8! Is it time to go?!"

I explained that 8 is a long way from 8:45 and she disappeared. A few minutes later she comes back with pop-tarts and iced tea, an incentive for me to get out of bed and get moving. So I do. All the while, she's hovering just outside my door until I finally shoo her back upstairs.

So what had L so keyed up? It was the last day of Bible Study.

Every Thursday during the school year, we go to Community Bible Study (CBS). Every week we read passages and answer difficult questions and we discuss sometimes difficult topics (Amnon, Absalom, and Tamar, anyone?). We dive deeply into Bible truths that many people will never even read, much less try to understand. It's a lot of work, especially at the tender age of 7. We've been going for 4 years and it's still my girls' favorite weekly activity.

Why? They're in class with friends they've known for 4 years. They sing and they play games. Today they even had a little pizza party. But it's something more. Yesterday, I listened in the car, catching glimpses in the rearview mirror, as K patiently helped L to finish the 2 lessons they had to get done for this week. L hates to not get her work done each week and she was willing to forgo playing in order to get all the questions answered. L even announced that if our schedule was too busy next school year, she'd give up her much beloved dance so we could go to CBS.

Folks, that's devotion.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Why you need to learn how to sew

Some believe sewing to be a dying art. Ha! If you can sew, then you can get whatever you want even if you can't get what you want.

Did that make sense?

Tomorrow is Tenebrae service at our church. Tenebrae is a quiet, dark service observing the 7 final things Jesus said on the cross. I'm reading and singing and needed a dark top. I was checking while we walked through a couple of stores today and I found a really cute decorated t-shirt, but they didn't have it in the right size. Which made me grumpy. Until I looked a little more closely at at the top and made a bold decision. I went and found a plain black t-shirt and after dinner, I went to work.

I pulled bits of fabric from my stash and grabbed my machine and my sewing box.

I cut long strips of some synthetic fabrics - silky, gauzy - then melted all the edges with a candle lighter. I ran a gathering stitch down the center of each strip and gathered them, then I sewed them to the shirt in swirls. Voila! A really cool shirt, exactly like I wanted, even when I couldn't get what I wanted.

All it took was a little bit of know how with a sewing machine and the courage to try.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Painting Easter Eggs

I love my family and their creativity! We went to a family painting class today at my favorite Cajun Canvas where everyone was supposed to create little Easter eggs. Small canvases, a decorated egg sitting in the grass, your name written across each, so each person had their own little matching works of art to hang together.


As soon as I announced that I had signed us up for the class, the first question was "Do we have to paint it just like hers?" And then the ideas started flowing. It soon became apparent that the tiny 5x7 canvas wouldn't be enough, so when we arrived for class today, I got us switched to a larger 8x10 size.

But you see...the power was out at the studio, which was such a minor detail that we never considered NOT having class. We just moved everything closer to the front windows and opened the door and dove right into the project. While the rest of the class was dutifully painting traditional eggs on tiny canvases, we were drawing out our own fun ideas.

I LOVE how each canvas reflects each person's personality! K drew a cartoon and L asked for me to draw a basket for her eggs, then she painted it and I added the black outlines at the end. Mr. at Home came up with the idea for an egghead and he did an amazing job of painting. My painting ended up pretty traditional as I spent a lot of time helping the others with mixing paint and explaining how to get their ideas down on their canvas.

All in all, it was a fabulous fun time and I loved sharing something I really enjoy with the rest of my family. Seeing all the different canvases together makes me laugh at my crazy, crafty, talented, creative family!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Posting from my iPad

Did I mention I had ordered a new iPad? An iPad 2, in fact.

Mr. at Home, being the fabulous man he is, ordered us both iPads. Mine is white with an orange cover and his is black with a navy cover. And they are awe.some.

I do so love my iPad. We didn't get the original version as we never could justify the cost vs. usefulness. This time we just went for it and I'm so glad we did.

Reasons I love my iPad

1. Since I left my laptop in Texas, it's been so nice to not have to steal the kids' laptop.
2. It's so tiny, I can tuck it in my purse and carry it to the cupcake bakery and have something to do during dance afternoons.
3. Angry Birds is so much nicer on the bigger screen.
4. Typing on it is so much easier than I ever expected.
5. It's super cute.
6. It keeps my kids occupied while waiting. Glow Paint, anyone?
7. Love the cameras and video chatting. You need to get your own iPad 2 so we can call each other.
8. I can write Sunday School lessons at Panera without dragging in my laptop and bag.
9. Free Nook AND Kindle applications means more free books!
10. Bigger calendar screen than my iPhone so I can see more stuff.
11. Works anywhere there's wi-fi, which is almost everywhere.

I have had trouble figuring out how to post to Blogger from my iPad since it the text entry box didn't work, so this is a test of the HTML entry box and we'll see how it looks when it posts. Next I'll try the email posting functionality and see how that works for pictures.

So thank you, dear, for getting me a cool iPad!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fun stuff

Spring has been crazy CRAZY, but I'm tired of complaining about all the scheduling stuff I do to myself. If I dare to mention one more new thing that I've added to my schedule, just beat me. So today I'm going to talk about the fun parts of out busy schedule so I remember why I'm doing this.

1. Homeschool. One thing I think is a HUGE benefit of homeschooling is that learning isn't confined to a classroom or to a teacher. My kids ask questions about all kinds of things at all times of the day. Just this week, our car conversations have taught us about mummies, the water cycle, and modesty. We've covered personal and household responsibility with "See a mess, clean a mess" because I want my kids to become adults who can look at a situation and figure out what needs to be done. Their future husbands and managers should thank me. We've also fit in plenty of worksheets and phonics and history reading and lessons on mean, median, and mode.

2. Science Olympiad. One new part of our school this spring is getting ready for the NC science olympiad. K is paired with another 5th grader for 3 events - Describe It, Build It (a technical writing thing), Secret Structures (building a structure to meet requirements given at the event), and Newton's Notions (elementary physics). I'm coaching the first two events and the other mom is coaching the last. We get to spend a couple of hours every Friday learning a whole lot of physics and having a blast with all hands-on activities. We're less than 2 months out from the competition and K is really looking forward to it.

3. Band. K is learning the trumpet and loves every minute of it. I don't even have to badger her to practice.

4. Community Bible Study. We're wrapping up our 4th year and have signed up for next year. The girls love their classes and they're getting a whole lot of in-depth Bible knowledge. K thanked me for CBS a couple of weeks ago saying that it helps her tremendously when the kids play Bible Trivia at church. And we have a family with 4 children adopted from China that we often go to lunch with afterwards, which makes it all even more fun.

5. Softball. K's been playing in this league for 5 seasons. We know many of the girls and parents and like them. The league is competitive enough that it's fun to play, but the coaches are still nice and supportive. K gets lots of exercise, she plays well, it helps her set goals for herself, she has friends there, and it's something she enjoys. Even L is starting to play catch with us; she can throw very well and she's started to catch more since she stopped moving out of the way whenever a ball came to her. Don't worry, she still declares that she will never choose any sport over dance.

6. Dance team. L is taking 5 classes a week (all grouped on 2 afternoons) plus an extra rehearsal here and there and she LOVES it. She and I went to dinner alone on Monday and it amazed me how knowledgable she is about dance and competition and what the judges like and what they mark off for. She's definitely paying attention to class. She likes the trips for competition and we're both excited about going to the beach this weekend.

That's about all I have time and attention for right now. Next up, church activities!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Unfun tasks

Have you ever woken up and been unexpectedly motivated? That long, boring, unpleasant task that you've put been putting off suddenly looks doable and you hop out of bed ready to go!

This morning in North Carolina is beautiful. It's sunshiny and even though the wind is yet again whipping mercilessly through the treetops, the temperature is supposed to head into the mid-80s for one day of summery glory. It's the perfect day for putting away the girls' winter wardrobe and pulling out all the shorts and sundresses.

A long, boring, unpleasant task that suddenly looks doable.

Well, actually, only parts are boring or unpleasant. First, the girls pull all their winter stuff out of their closet and pile it up while I explain that, no, that need to keep a few pairs of pants and a jacket or two accessible because there will be times they are needed. Next, we pull down all the boxes of summer/hand-me-down clothes and a big fashion show ensues. That's the fun part. All those clothes must be tried on to see what fits after all. But then the unfun stuff must still be done. The girls must be motivated to put their "new" clothes away. The clothes that could possibly be used another year by L and all the winter clothes must be packed into bins and stored. The rejects must be either taken to consignment, stored for winter consignment, or dropped off at Goodwill.

See? It's a full day's work of work and one I tend to put off until the last possible moment. But today the weather and the empty schedule make it the perfect day for it. I got the girls' schoolwork all laid out and planned it so that I did one child's clothes while the other did their worksheets. But then...

But then!

L and I walked into her room to get started and I remembered. Monday is laundry day. It's absolutely useless to try to put away winter clothes when they're dirty. So all that motivation, all this warm sunshine, all my planning and arranging was useless. Today we will wash clothes and maybe, maybe, we'll be able to cram the wardrobe switch in somewhere else this week. If you see L running around the beach this weekend in sweatpants and snowflake sweater, well, you'll know I tried.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Softball and Butterflies

Today we're talking softball. Because it's spring and softball is a huge part of our lives in the spring.

K's softball team has 2 usually good pitchers with experience at 10U and one up-and-coming pitcher who's new to 10U. Experience at this level is important as the pitching rubber moves back 5', it's all girl pitch (no more "modified" where the coach steps in after 3 balls), and the skill and intensity and dedication of the players jumps hugely between 8U and 10U. Unfortunately, only 1 of those 3 pitchers is actually pitching well right now. C is on fire, while her twin, who is historically the better pitcher, gets freaked whenever there's a batter at the plate. Last season, she hit a couple of batters and ever since she's been so worried about hitting someone that she consistently throws outside. The new pitcher is doing okay, but she's got some work to catch up.

So we're training up some new pitchers. There's a couple of girls who've been working on pitching, but only one has pitched in a game. K had pitched a few games last year, but she while she wanted to pitch, she wasn't committed enough that she wanted to actually *practice*. She has finally decided that she does indeed want to pitch enough to practice everyday, especially since our 2 main pitchers will be missing Saturday's game and they need someone else who can get the ball over the plate periodically.

You'll be so excited when I let you know that I told you all of that backstory just to get to the following funny little nugget.

Today we had a mini pitching session here at our little park before the pitching practice with the coaches. L accompanied K and I to the park and she brought along her own hand-me-down glove because she wanted to play, too. We formed a little triangle and began tossing the ball around to warm up.

Now L is a fairly athletic little person. She may not want to play sports, but she has some natural abilities that show up pretty quickly when we're playing around with a softball or soccer ball. She can throw a softball strongly and accurately, but she can't catch it because she's always jumping out of the way so she doesn't get hit. She's also not all that committed to the game.

Case in point:

Today I had thrown her a ball which had bounced past her because she moved *away* just as it got to her. She turned and ran after the ball. As she was running, she suddenly exclaimed, "Butterfly!", and turned to chase a bright yellow butterfly that happened to cross her path.

The softball was completely forgotten.

So we'll leave softball to K and let L revel in her dancing. She and I are off to a dance competition in Myrtle Beach this weekend, so I'm liking the dance thing pretty well myself. I'll be the one sitting on the beach, watching the waves roll in and the little girls splashing and laughing, as bright and carefree as butterflies, as they dance along the sand just for the fun of it.