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Saturday, November 07, 2015

The Quiet of Fall

This is the first time since I started my blog that I have skipped an entire month of writing.  Where was I?  Living life for real, not online.

I love blogs, so I am not shunning online life... I love it, in fact.  I love the inspiration and the companionship that I get from reading other people's experiences.  A few of my favorites are www.soulemama.com,  But I could feel that this is a time to delve in deeply to what is going on in my house.  Snuggle in.  Cozy up.  And I wanted to experience things for what they were,  and not be accountable to reporting it all online.

I'm slightly back, but feeling a bit more introspective.  One of the things I have realized:  I love my job.  (My job, in case you don't know, is being a stay at home mom, a domestic engineer, CEO of Casa de Schwartz, etc etc etc.)

I remember nannying one summer thinking "This job kind of sucks.  I could never stay home.  You never get a break from the kids, and there isn't anyone to talk to!"  But fast forward 20 years later, and I am treasuring this gift.

By the way, this isn't a post about mommy wars, and about work v home baloney... This is just how I feel about my situation, and a deep realization of what I want out of my life.  When you realize internally you have what you want (even if you do complain about it occasionally), there is great peace in that.  It also make decisions about the future easier:)

Thank you to all those who visit my blog.  I am grateful for you as well.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


A few weeks back, a woman contacted me wanting to do a collaboration.  I glanced through the email, thought it was for a good cause, and quickly said yes without fully researching and reading about what she had to say.

I had heard the term Mesothelioma, but I didn't really know what it was.  And when I had a spare moment weeks later, I learned what it was AND what an amazing woman this was, that had contacted me.

So first:  What is it?
Mesothelioma (or, more precisely, malignant mesothelioma) is a rare form of cancer that develops from cells of the mesothelium, the protective lining that covers many of the internal organs of the body. Mesothelioma is most commonly caused by exposure to asbestos.

This is Heather.  She is a bad ass.  (Sorry for the swearing, but there is no other word for it.)

This post was originally to bring awareness to mesothelioma, but instead turned into one about a woman who can inspire us all with her attitude, resilience, and ability to be grateful. 

Friday Kid Happy Hour

When this showed up at my door, it made my day.  

I have been waiting for this since we moved from Bath 4 years ago.  One of the kids yelled "Kid Party!" when I opened the door, Friday after school.  It wasn't scheduled, they just came down to hang out.  The kids played, ran around, laughed, there may have been some nerf guns involved... 
Then they all sat down for dinner/snacks before everyone had to go home.  I love how they all play together, regardless of age or gender.

I love my neighborhood.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Back to School 2015

I always try to make the first morning before school starts special for the kiddos.
I decorate, I leave them a little present, and make them something special to eat.  Tate decided he wanted FOUR eggs.  
He ate them all.  
She was very excited!  It was very hot in the school, so I put the least amount of clothing as possible on her.  Day 2 cooled down, so the kids were much more comfortable.  
On the Friday after the first week, Soleil was exhausted.  She could barely stay awake!
We live on the campus of a Big 10 university.  This means that every Saturday morning in the fall, we are "indoor tailgating".   Football is on all day, and meals are snacks enjoyed throughout the day.  When there is a home game, we usually wander around through the other tailgaters in our neighborhood.  Parking and driving is awful, but if you are on foot, it is really fun.  
Tate with random kids, climbing the statue on campus.
And finally...

Sunday, August 23, 2015

I should.

I recently had a conversation with a good friend of mine about the need to take a break.

Let's back up.
I remember when I used to say I needed a break when I was younger (20s). Back then,  the reality was, that I slept in until late on the weekends, binge watched hours of Real World (and whatever else was on Mtv), and rarely cooked for myself.  I had a lot of time.

Now in my 40s, with a husband and 2 kids, I need a freaking break.
But I don't make an effort to take one when I need one.

Aren't we all better when we have taken care of ourselves?  
Who is the invisible person MAKING us keep going?
Are we creating "busy"?

Ok, yes.  I have to feed my kids and watch them.  And I like a clean house.   However, just like anything that is important, you have to make time for these restorative breaks.  I was practicing piano last week, on the only day I CHOSE to take the time.  And it felt like a gift.  It was a reminder to make that time for me, to remember who I am, to center.

The things that I like to do to feel rejuvenated are these:
-get on pinterest
-make a craft, scrapbook. sew, etc etc etc
-have a cup of joe, declare "Mommy's having her coffee!  Please give me 20 minutes to finish my cup of coffee!"  (And the kids KNOW.)
-update my planner (with stickers and washi and pens)
-play a Bigfish game on my computer
-read a magazine
-listen to music

I'd love to hear what you do.  I want to hear as a reminder to yourself to take that break, and a reminder to myself to do the same.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Vacation Vacation Vacation

We have been gone off and on for the entire month of July.  It has been fun, but oh-so-busy!
I have finally figured out why the whole "Michigan Up North" thing is a thing.  To be honest, I didn't get it when I went to Lake Michigan.  It was cold.  There were a ton of rocks.  I had just moved from Virginia Beach/Norfolk, so "the beach" there was much better.

But a week later, we met up with Paul's brother and went to Houghton Lake in the middle of Michigan at a cabin.  It was gorgeous.  The water was lovely, and we slept in a room on the second with a deck overlooking the lake.  (We left the sliding door open all night and fell asleep to the sound of waves!)  And no sharks to watch out for.   We didn't have time for a bonfire, but I could envision it.  The evening was cool and relaxing, and the sunset was gorgeous.

A week later, we headed up to Mackinac Island.  Again, it was so nice to be near the water, and though I am usually not into history, I loved learning about the past having to do with this place.  I started reading a Teen Fiction book set in the area and back around the war of 1812, and I couldn't put it down.  (There are three books in the series and #2 is set in London!)

Now we are home.  And I cancelled all events.  No camps, no playdates, nothing scheduled.  

The kids and I really needed it, and we are enjoying our last bit of freedom before the school year starts.  Today we went on a long walk, going where the wind took us.  (That turned out to be a convenience store for treats, and then on to their school to check out the new playground equipment, stopping by a neighbors on the way home.)  We collected acorns for a project and picked up sticks along the way, like an old school summer.  By evening here in Mid-Michigan, the winds have turned cool, and we can feel fall right around the corner.  I even had to pull out my very cozy, pink fuzzy bathrobe, which I thought I wouldn't need for at least another month.  Enjoy the end of summer, folks.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Good Soap: The Little Things

When I go to someone else's house, and they have good smelling soap, it is a happy moment for me.  I just love that pause, and the uplifting feel of pleasant soapy scents.  I like a lot of natural stuff, but I also love the Bath & Body Works collections.  I recently treated myself to body scrub (that was different from my functional, yet odorless baby soap) and it was like I had a trip to the spa each time I showered.  Yep.  It's the Little Things.

I'd love to hear:  What are some of your "Little Things" that make your day better?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Road Trip To Iowa 2105

I thought I was super mom... Pinteresting car activities, putting together little bags for the kids, prepacking snacks...  Let's just say, the kids don't end up picking things you think are a hit, and yet they lose their head over something you think is insignificant. (Sticky hand that I bought in 2007 for a long plane trip is a perfect example.)

Soleil did like the binder I put together with pencil zip cases, filled with stickers, tiny smelly markers, post it notes, and a mini watercolor kit that I picked up at Walmart an hour before we got on the road.  I think the smelly markers got the best mileage.  The Kindergarten book was mostly ignored.  Tate, on the other hand, wanted an Archie Comic.  And notebooks.

Sidenote:  Tate has been obsessed with notebooks his entire life.  If you a longtime reader, you know that he was addicted to Blues Clues when little, and from the moment he could hold one, a notebook has been his FAVORITE thing.  He hasn't grown out of that.  He recently went to the store, saw that notebooks were 17 cents a piece, and spent his own money to buy 18 EIGHTEEN of them.  I put them away, so that he doesn't bend them all up by December, only to ask for more for Christmas.  What does he write in his notebooks?  Everything.  Plants v Zombies scenarios, Angry Birds scenarios, diagrams, short stories, journal entries a la Diary of Wimpy Kid (these are my favorite, because they are hilarious.), lists, lists, lists.  
On the way to Iowa, we spent the night in Saugatuck and visited my dear friend, Jean.  It is on Lake Michigan, and we all really wanted to go to the beach.  It is gorgeous, but oh my, is it COLD.

We stopped at Crane's Restaurant on our way out of town.
Finally, we arrived in Iowa.  Paul is from there, and his best friends all live there.  We went for his high school reunion, and for his town's annual festival.  There was a lot of this:

And the younger generation version of the same thing:
Tate played mini golf, which is one of his favorite things to do. 
Soleil and I got out one afternoon to get a pedicure and to shop at the mall.  She wanted to ride like a baby, so I let her!

Tate was very happy to be with his Iowa friends. 

The big boys played video games as well.  They all went to see the movie, Pixels, and then were inspired to fire up the centipede when they got home. 
They didn't want to say goodbye!  Such a good trip. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Planner Addiction

Goodies from Happy Scrappie!

Michael's Loot

How I plan my days.
I thought this was a passing phase.... the planner/scrapbooking/organizing thing.  I have opened up a whole world that I didn't even know existed!  As I posted here, I jazzed up my 3 year old Russell and Hazel planner.  That wasn't good enough.  I wanted the weekly view on a bigger page, and all of the "Plan With Me" videos use a different format.

What is a "Plan with Me" video??  Search in youtube... you will be addicted within the hour.  Usually, it is a very cute and bubbly and creative girl that sits down with a bunch of stickers and washi tape and colorful pens, and plans and organizes her week.  I love them.  I have discovered there are lots of these "Life Planners" out there that make this even more fun.  Erin Condren is the big one, Kikki K, Happy 365, Filofax, and even Mead has a great family planner.  As a result of this, there are wonderful etsy shops that have been created that feature all sorts of unique stickers/tools to use on your planners.  The stickers are color themed, and it makes me want to have a ton of appointments.

I have ordered from Happie Scrappie, and I have also been led to do a Swap from Oh, Hello Stationary Company.  If you don't know, a swap is where you are paired up with another person who signs up, you send them a package of items specified in the swap.  This one was great, in the sense that they gave you the email, and you could chat with your person first.  The idea is to find out what kinds of things that they like and tailor the package to that.  You send your swap partner (brand new) things from your stash, as well as items you have purchased--ideally items that they cannot find locally.  I can't wait to get my package, yet making the one to send out was really fun as well!!

Also, I now have a pen pal that I plan to send things to in the future.  I often buy paper craft supplies that say, have 6 sheets of the same sticker.  I get sick of that design, and then am stuck with those items that I am "over".  I plan to send her these as time goes on:)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Summer Midpoint 2015

I can't even stop laughing at this.

Summer has been busy, and I had this plan to do lots of blogging.  You know,  because the kids would be home, quietly playing while I had tons of time to write witty things, and take lots of photos.  HAHAHAHAHA!  I love them home, but I have heard "MOM" about every 11 seconds since summer started.  We have been doing lots of fun things, though.  
Lots of Jumping.  We lucked out and showed up on half price day!
This contraption at the County Fair.  Scared at first, and then THRILLED.
Tate's opinion of the County Fair.
Too much mud, too many animals, loud midway... not his cup of tea. 

Instead of a party, Tate wanted to have a few friends over to play, and then to go out for frozen yogurt.  This turned into a little adventure, when the first fro-yo place was OUT of vanilla yogurt (the only flavor Tate eats.)  It was pretty fun to bring a van full of excited boys to downtown East Lansing,  as we were on the search for vanilla.  AND THEN THE SECOND PLACE WAS OUT, TOO!  The college kid behind the counter felt sorry for me, when she saw the desperation in my eyes, and said, "Hold on a second, let me see what I can do."  She restarted the machine (while I silently prayed), and then it worked!  And she gave me a free yogurt at the end, since again, she felt sorry for me!

Cat sitting and Dog sitting
A lot of this.  

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Summer Treat

Frozen Strong Coffee Ice Cubes+Milk+Ice=Summer Treat!
(You can also add mint and chocolate, just chocolate, vanilla, or whatever else!)

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Blogger and Google and Email Frustration!

I started my blog in 2006.  And then Blogger and Google became one.  And I had 2 accounts, and they WOULD NOT merge together.  I considered starting over, but I was too many years in, so I just waited, and I have been logging into my blog with an old email address that I haven't had since I lived in St. Louis.  (That was 5 moves ago.)

If you wait long enough, sometimes, technology will catch up with you, and you will be able to fix your problem!  (Or at least I hope.)  This post is a test, since I have been trying to permanently change my blogger blog to my primary (and existent!) email....
Anyone else have these problems with google/blogger/disqus?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Frankenmuth, MI

So I thought Frankenmuth was just a big Christmas store and a Famous Chicken Dinner.  Boy was I wrong!! It is the cutest Bavarian looking village in the middle of Michigan.  We didn't even get to the Christmas store, as there were so many places to go in the one short day we were there.  We also happened to show up on a day that had live music outside, which added to the ambiance. The kids and I went with my mom and dad, and had a great time.

Fairy Gardens everywhere!

People are Still Scrapbooking!!

I had a conversation with a lovely woman in the middle of Michael's craft store.   She was buying a ton of scrapbook stickers, (as was I, the stickers being on sale and all...) and I asked where she scrapbooked.  She was wishing for a place to go.  The scrapbook stores have closed, and I haven't met a Creative Memories consultant in ages...I used to meet one per week back in the day.  But we both were yearning for that connection that comes from gluing paper and stickers and glitter and ribbon with our photos, whilst eating yummy snacks and engaging in good conversation.  I used to use scrapbooking as a way to meet people whenever I moved.  (If you read this blog regularly, I move a lot.)

Scrapbooking alone isn't as much fun as with people, and it almost becomes a chore.  I don't pull it out as often as I like, though I know that my family loves the end result when I am done.

However, just this week, I have been sent TWO emails, one from a friend, and one from a email list I am on.

People are scrapbooking again!  They, like me, do not care that scrapbooking is passe, and it so nice to be inspired by other's work.  It makes me want to pull out my stickers right this instant!  (I can't, however, as I am about to head up to Frankenmuth, Michigan for the day. Woo Hoo!)

Tomorrow, the big picture classes are also hosting a "Craft Party", which is just a webcast discussing everything craft.  I am IN.  I will be parking the kids in front of a movie at 1pm Eastern, for sure!

No matter what your hobby/passion/thing is, it is nice to get reinspired by others that share your love of the craft.