Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Making room for what's important

At 2:22 AM, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for our immediate area, siting funnel clouds in a nearby town, heading our direction at 45 miles per hour. Shortly thereafter, tornado sirens began wailing throughout our little city. My first thought, as I fought through the sleepy fog, was that some horrible accident must have occurred and the hospital near our house was experiencing a higher than normal volume of ambulance traffic. A couple of moments later, I realized it was the severe weather warning, but I thought it must be a mistake because it wasn't even raining. At almost the same instant that thought entered my mind, the rain started, and I sat bolt upright and grabbed my phone to check the weather. Jeff asked me what was wrong, and, as we both realized we already knew the answer, we jumped out of bed and hit the lights. One flickering of the electricity was all it took for us to start collecting sleepy children from the other bedrooms.

This house lacks a true safe room, so we made the split-second decision to put everyone in the master closet, following the tornado rules we've memorized as long-time Texas residents. I began literally throwing shoes and other clutter out of the relatively small space, in order to make room for my people. It was then that I realized I just have too much stuff.

I have been trying to live a minimalistic lifestyle ever since we got rid of everything and headed off on our RTW trip. But, suddenly, my stuff was getting in the way of my people, and it just seemed like too much. I was wondering how it even all got there and how I hadn't noticed it piling up before. But I hadn't noticed it before because it hadn't interfered with the safety of my family, and I had just been lazily letting it accumulate.

This morning, I woke up bound and determined to make room in my closet--and my life--for what's truly important. I'm not saying I'm happy we all had to gather in the closet in the middle of the night or that I want a repeat performance, though I'm ready for it if it's forced upon me. What I can tell you is that everything that's important to me was in my closet last night, and it darn sure wasn't my shoes!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spring Sports

If you're wondering where I've been lately, your best guess would have been some sort of field where sports are played or enroute between the various fields. The practice schedule has been a little brutal, with two kids practicing in different locations on Monday evenings, one kid practicing on Tuesday evenings, two kids practicing at different locations on Wednesday evenings (plus, my not-to-be-missed yoga class in yet a third location), a practice on Friday afternoon, a practice on Saturday morning, and two practices in different locations on Sunday afternoons. And, this last week, we threw in a couple of make-up riding lessons, a pep rally, and an academic contest, just to keep things interesting.

On Saturday, Weston had his first football game of the new season, which his team won in a big way. Weston played half the game on defense and the other half on offense and was just as happy as he could be the entire time.

Weston is one of the captains for his team this season--
a responsibility he takes very seriously

Blocking like a boss

Shortly after Weston's game was over, Clay played his first baseball game of the season. He hit twice off the pitcher and didn't have to use the tee at all, so he was pretty proud of himself. Weston and I didn't get to attend the game, as we had to go to Denton for the PSIA contest, but Dad made sure we got lots of picture updates.


Headed for home

Getting a little help from coach with the catcher's gear

On Monday evening, Max finally got in his first game as well. He was one of a few boys who got a hit and one of even fewer who put points on the board, both of which he was very proud of, even though his team didn't get the win.

The big hit

Coming home

I'm proud of all the kids, and I love to see them doing what they love--even if it means I spend almost as much time in my car running between various fields all over town as I do at home.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Feel Good Friday: Magic

This story was posted on Facebook in November, but it only came to my attention this week. This kid is full of magic and so much of what the world needs more of.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Crossing a Crunchy Line

First, there was the homeschooling. Then, I jumped into experimenting with essential oils. More recently, I have made drastic changes to my family's diet, instituting a healthy eating plan they lovingly refer to as "The Regime." But now, I've crossed another line in the pursuit of "crunchiness." I've gotten into yoga. And, by that I basically mean yoga has pretty much been saving my life since this new year began.

I've had "try yoga" on my New Year's resolution list for quite a long time, but I just haven't ever gotten around to finding a class or making the time or whatever. Because making excuses is generally easier than making changes, which is why most New Year's resolutions never even have a realistic chance of getting off the ground. But, as I mentioned in a previous post, I've been pretty depressed since our move back to Texas, and, in an effort to combat that, I've tried all sorts of things--a ballroom dance class, an improv class, a Spanish practice app, a painting class, reading lots of books, working on my geography books, experimenting in the kitchen, getting more serious about photography. These activities have all been fun and well worth the time (and I am still enjoying several of them on an ongoing basis), but, when the new year rolled around, I felt like I needed to try something else. And, there was yoga, still on my list, waving its hand around yelling, "Pick me! Pick me!"

I checked with a local Facebook group for recommendations for beginner classes, and the one suggested more than any other was within walking distance of my house. I didn't really feel like my excuses could hold up to that--or the fact that the time was right and this studio offered one class for free, just to try it out. So, I carved out some space in my Wednesday evening and have been going somewhat regularly for about six weeks. I LOVE it and keep asking myself why I didn't try it sooner and where this has been all my life!

For a person who instinctively and subconsciously holds her breath as a  (poor and ineffective) coping mechanism in the face of stress, an activity where every move is counted in breaths rather than time seems wildly magical and utterly freeing. Every Wednesday evening, for an hour, I have permission to breathe. And, even when I can't get the yoga pose right, I feel like I have truly accomplished something if I was simply able to keep breathing. I am learning that even when I feel like a particular stretch might unhinge one of my joints, I can breathe through it, and it will pass, and I will come out feeling stronger and more confident. Obviously, there are applications beyond the yoga studio.

I come home from class physically relaxed and mentally serene (and smelling like essential oils!) I feel positive and tranquil, and, frankly, thankful for a legit reason to wear yoga pants around. The feeling doesn't always last all week long, but it seems to last longer and longer all the time, and I find myself remembering to breathe more often, which is only a good thing.

So, here's to following through on New Year's resolutions and to crunchy living!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Corn Dogs and Tulips

Because we live in a crazy world where every day is a National Something Day, we found out that today was National Corn Dog Day. To celebrate this most important of holidays, Sonic was selling corndogs for 50¢ apiece. And, since we had an extra 11-year-old boy at our house today, it made sense to take the most economical lunch route possible. So, we celebrate National Corn Dog day like it was a completely normal thing to do.

Happy National Corn Dog Day!

Later, we headed north to Pilot Point, for a visit to Texas Tulips. It wasn't Kuenkenhof, but it was beautiful in its own right and much easier to get to and less expensive than a trip to Holland. We apparently now live in an area of Texas that doesn't have bluebonnets (or at least not yet?), but we were still able to get our fix of lovely spring flowers.

The kids were thrilled to be getting their picture made with the tulips! 

Genuine smiles here!

Pretty in pink

Maroon Out

Frilly purple tulips

A peppermint vibe

More traditional looking tulips

A field of fire

Vibrant Red

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Catching Up

The last several days have been a whirlwind of fun and excitement! On Friday, Jeff took Ruth to Tyler to attend the College Preparatory Invitational (CPI) college fair and horse show. They were able to visit with several college recruiters and learn a little more about riding options post high school. On Saturday, Ruth rode in the show and won first place in both of her classes, high point for her division, and high point for the entire show. In addition to two blue ribbons to add to her collection, she also received a gift card to her favorite riding gear store, a beautiful bridle, and a $500 college scholarship. We are so proud of her! On Sunday, Jeff dropped her off with her veterinarian aunt in Houston, so she can spend the week working in the clinic and getting some hands-on experience.

High Point Rider, 1st Place Winner, and all-around amazing young lady

Meanwhile, I stayed behind with the boys so they could attend their weekend practices. I got a wild hair on Friday afternoon and ripped out our grape arbor, took down all the window screens, and pulled up all the dead shrubs around the house, all of which made me happy in so many ways. But it wasn't a weekend of all work. We also managed to squeeze in quite a lot of fun, with pizza and a viewing of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure on Friday evening, a trip to our favorite movie theater on Saturday to see The Batman Lego Movie, and a full day of fun on Sunday, which started with brunch at The Snooty Pig, followed by some quality time at Barnes and Noble, and ended with the library's monthly game day.  

No more arbor means more light inside my house!
(It also means I don't constantly have to worry about that rickety thing falling down on my kiddos!)

Movie date with my boys

Brunch at The Snooty Pig

A variety of reading positions at Barnes and Noble

Game Day at the library

On Monday, Clay realized how close he was to finishing the first book (of two) for first grade math, and he started working math problems like a crazy man. He ended up doing 14 lessons in that one day, knowing there would be a celebration held in his honor when he finished. He worked so hard, and we are so proud of him! He chose the revolving sushi restaurant for his reward, and we had a blast selecting items off the conveyor belt and trying them out. 

So proud of this hard worker for accomplishing his goal and finishing the first half of his first grade math curriculum!
(I don't know many 5-year-olds who would chose sushi for a celebration, but this kid loves it!)

As you math nerds were no doubt aware, yesterday was Pi Day, which happens to be one of our family's favorite "holidays." On the recommendation of several people, we decided to try out Mama's Daughters' Diner in Lewisville. The pies were not in the same league with my Granny's or Jeff's mom's, but the party was fun nonetheless!

Pi Day 

Finally, I'm having a big giveaway of all of my books this week, in an effort to beef up my reviews on Amazon. I still have some of the Geography books to give away, and I'd like to give them to you guys! All you have to do is leave a comment here or on Facebook stating the country--China, Hong Kong, Thailand, or Mongolia--you are interested in. Your comment is your promise to leave a review on Amazon. It's just that simple. Feel free to tell your geography loving friends. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Elementary Physics

On a weekday morning, a child at rest will tend to stay at rest indefinitely, unless acted on by an outside parental force multiple times. 

On a weekend morning, a child at rest will tend to spring out of bed with maximum energy and at maximum volume well before an acceptable time of day.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Feel Good Friday: Choose the light

More times than I can count over the course of the last 14 years--my parenting years--I have heard words coming out of my mouth, directed at one kid or another, meant to correct inappropriate behavior and develop deeper character. And, sometimes, I'm quite shocked that the words I'm saying might be better directed inward than outward. Being a parent makes me acutely aware of my own character flaws and shortcomings. I see my hypocrisies and failings as if under a magnifying glass. And, so often, when I am correcting one of the kids, my words ricochet and strike me right in the heart, and I realize something in me needs to change, particularly if I want to see that change in one of them.

This happened today. I was reminding one of my dear offspring that every moment we have a choice about the kind of person we are going to be. Are we going to be rude or kind? Happy or sad? Engaged or disengaged? Respectful or disrespectful? Positive or negative? Helpers or hurters? Workers or slackers? We can't control everything that happens in life, but we can control how we respond. We always have a choice. 

The truth is, I have been pretty depressed since our RTW trip ended. I have been resentful of my stationary situation and have flatly refused (both subconsciously and consciously) to be happy in this place. Of course I've had moments of happiness and things certainly haven't been all bad. But, in my heart, I know I haven't really been trying that hard to make the choice to be happy. 

And, today, as I spoke to my child about choices, some lightbulb suddenly reignited inside my brain, and I realized that I can change my choice. That, in fact, I must change my choice, because I do not want to go through my days unhappy. I can and will choose to change my inner dialogue. I can and will choose happiness, regardless of my situation.

"We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on." --J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

As for me, in this rare and beautiful moment of clarity, I will choose the light.

(For more of my ramblings on choosing happiness, check out this post.)

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Region Finals

Ruth competed in the IEA Region Finals today in Tyler. She drew a wonderful horse which she had ridden at a previous show, and so she went in feeling confident and enthusiastic. She and Gizelle had a beautiful ride, and Ruth came away with the 3rd place ribbon. We are told it is unusual for someone in their first season to advance to regionals at all, much less to do so well. Ruth was very proud of her ride and her season, and she looks forward learning more and continuing to improve in the off-season. We are super proud of her!

(And, I also have to share that Weston voluntarily got up at 6:15 this morning, rode in the car for an hour and a half, spent the day just sitting around in the damp and cold, waiting for a ride that lasted five minutes, and then rode in the car for another hour and a half because it was very important to him to support his sister in the thing that is important to her. It was very touching!)

Ruth and Gizelle

3rd place at Region Finals

Friday, March 03, 2017

Feel Good Friday: More Alike Than Different

I'm sure you've seen these adorable little guys all over social media the last couple of days, but this is, by far, my favorite news story of the week. We're all more alike than you think. Let's all try to spend a bit more time looking for the similarities and forgetting about the differences.