Dolphin Quest Spray Fun  Let me premise this post by saying how grateful I am for those women who I have had the privilage of calling Friend. Seriously, I count myself so blessed to have had, over the years, such wonderful support, encouragement, honesty, love, care, and concern, not only for myself but for my boys as well by some amazing women who have called me in turn friend. When distance has taken us so far from the familiar, from the comfortable, from those who are family by birth and marriage, it has been the relationships nurtured and cherished that have sustained me and made my life ever so sweet.

I see in B and understanding of how rich and meaningful friendships can be to our daily lives. And I see in him a desire to nurture and feed and care for those relationships. We don’t take it for granted, let me say that.

So, with all that said, I am beyond touched by how sweet our friends were prior to our move from Fort Lee. Between my sweet friends, who I was blessed enough to spend a girls weekend with (and oh, how the memories of that time still bring me to loud peals of laughter!) and our neighbors who we love and adore and were so blessed to call family, our last few weeks in VA were bittersweet. I am so thankful for their love and support through my crazy health scare, living temporarily with friends, and all the craziness that PCSing can be.

And then we arrive in Oahu and our sweet friends from our first duty station are here waiting for us with open arms, love never ending, and friendship beyond measure. From the sweet leis that Jessica bought for us and placed over our heads, to taking us to favorite spots around the island, to opening their home without question or expectation…  I am so humbled and blessed and grateful.

Thank you, Jess, for making our move to Oahu so much easier, endlessly sweet, and perfect.

Thank you Robyn and Victoria and Amy and Tovah and Lynda: for loving me and My Boy, for taking us in and making our time in VA completely unforgettable.

Thank you T and Lewis for loving us like family, taking us into your home, and being the bestest friends we could ask for (I know bestest isn’t a word, but I swear it sounds perfectly right 🙂

I am blessed beyond measure!

I’ve been meaning for days and days to update everyone on our move to Oahu via the blog but between one thing or another my good intentions keep getting pushed aside and I find myself reminding myself that tomorrow is another day. And so I sit here, finally, ready to pen my thoughts on this, our most “complicated” move thus far.

First and foremost, our sweet Marley has settled into life with his new family. How blessed we feel that his new mom and dad are freely giving with updates and photos and sentiments of gratitude and love for their new fur baby. Out of all the stuff I had to check off my list for our move to Oahu this one was the most gut wrenching, the one that kept me awake at night, and the one that had me praying the most.

We arrived on the island about 8 hours beyond schedule. Our plane had mechanical issues in Denver and so we arrived in Honolulu in the middle of the night. We were so excited, exhausted but incredibly excited to see peeks of our new home. We didn’t get many as it was dark and our hotel is literally a stone’s throw from the airport.

The next day, however, after picking up our car at the port, we headed out to explore the island. This has been our mantra since arriving here. We feel quite strongly that we need to make the most of our time here and are so excited to discover new places and make meaningful relationships that will quickly make this place feel warm and familiar and comforting.

The island is beautiful. The first few drives we took we exclaimed loudly every time a mountain was viewed in the distance, or rainfall could be seen falling between two peaks, or the shorelines was glimpsed in the distance, the waves crashing and creating wonderful peaks of foam. The oohing and ah-ing are no less after almost a month here but they are more measured as we try hard not to distract whoever is driving.

You just can’t get used to the views.

On the other hand, the island is crowded. I myself grew up for a few years on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. I didn’t know crowding then but I wonder if I’d notice it now. There are lots of people everywhere. I have to get used to that. I didn’t realize this about myself, the need for less crowding, for a bit more space. It’s rather overwhelming at times but I’m grateful for the insight and the ability to live somewhere that is obviously quite different from anywhere we have lives thus far.

When we first arrived I felt as if I were an imposter when I repeated to those who said aloha in return. Now the words come ease; the mahalos not as much for as soon as I say thank you I remember and beseech myself to remember next time. The people of this island whom we met are incredibly friendly and are more than willing and happy to have full on conversations at the drop of a hat. I love this but also quickly learned that I had given in over the years to the schedule, to keeping things short for the sake of the time it would save me for other things. I am reminding myself to slow down and enjoy each moment, to keep my eyes peeled on the scenery, to really experience things. We are slowly learning how to pronounce things correctly and along with that are learning the routes to favorite beaches, amazing places to eat, and enjoying each day to the fullest.

Beyond acclimating to a new time zone and different state, we quickly dived into finding a home church. We really wanted to find a church that we were passionate about and that we felt called to attend and serve in. Our second Sunday in Oahu found us sitting down an hour late to a service in a church down the road from where we will be living. The church had a special service that Sunday along with a different start time and we were a bit sad that we missed half the service, but the preaching left us wanting to come back for more.

The church reminds me in many ways to my experience growing up in Puerto Rico. The church has no AC and many of the congregants held fans in their hands to keep cool. The building itself in many ways took me back to my aunts church in PR that we attended faithfully. I felt immediately like this was the church but of course we wanted to check out a full service and it was important for us that B have a stellar youth group to attend. He excitedly attended his first evening youth group the following Friday and was so excited at how friendly everyone was. They made him feel at home, introduced themselves, included him, and he left with a big smile on his face. But best of all was his exclamations in the car that real preaching had gone on during the time he’d been away. This is big and central to B’s walk and relationship with God and I was pleased as punch that he felt, just as I had, that this was our home church.

Beyond finding a church, B has had the opportunity to meet other homeschoolers and to attend a few meet ups or activities. His heart is still very much missing his friends in VA. I know this won’t pass in entirety. This boy is sensitive and has a big heart, but I pray that as our time here increases he’ll make new and meaningful relationships while nurturing those of his friends on the mainland.

As far as sightseeing: we have visited several beaches, a few repeatedly. The boys have surfed and snorkeled and boogie boarded and wave surfed and swam to their hearts content. I have spent more time reading on the beach and watching their antics from a far. We love how close everything seems to be here on Oahu, though traffic needs to be planned for depending on the day’s plans. We finally went back to the North Shore and walked along the main thoroughfare, sampling locally made ice cream, sampling shave ice at Matsamoto’s, and weaving in and out of shops along the way. We found a little ukelele shop on our way home and stopped in to peruse the beautiful ukeleles, speaking with the owner about lessons for B in the town outside the base we’ll be living at. We even stopped on the way home at the Dole Plantation, more to check it out because it was close by then to experience the property. We’ll be back, I’m sure. Sadly, we haven’t done much more than bum it at the beach, and I mean that truly as I’m impatient to check out museums, and historical sites, and other important sites around Oahu. We did steal away a bit yesterday before B had an activity to check out Chinatown. We stopped for Dim Sum at a restaurant someone had blogged about and the boys and I were happy and full and satisfied.

Lastly, it appears we’ll be picking up keys to our new home next week. We will officially be residents of Oahu come next Tuesday. We are beyond excited and can’t wait to unpack and settle into life on this beautiful island.

Life, as always, remains sweet.

Out of all the newness that is our first PCS move “overseas,” nothing has rocked me to the core and washed over me with sadness more than the thought of losing Marley and not being able to find him a home. It has made everything else pale in comparison: never mind the logistics involved in this move (Y’all should see my spreadsheets for this move, and The Binder! The Binder! It is neatly organized and is only lacking a table of contents).

I had reached out to various Boxer organizations, even reaching out to those in nearby states, determined to find him a loving and permanent home. You see, we had never intended to give Marley up. When we adopted him and saved him from being euthanized in Killeen, TX we intended fully to be with him ’till the end. I’d hoped he turn grey and old and that he’d continue to dote on me as only he knew how.

For some reason, Marley believed himself to be Mine, wholly mine. He’d follow me around the house and hug me and love on me. He’d snuggle with me and act as if I was his, and I won’t lie: I loved his attention.

And boy, was he good! He listened and was teachable and goofy and funny and sweet and just PERFECT. He was the perfect playmate for Little B and old, cantankerous Nya.

Thankfully, my grief has been ebbed by Marley’s new family. They have been wonderful about keeping us updated with his progress, sending texts and photos and keeping us abreast of his progress. They are oh so happy with him and he seems to fit in perfectly with his family.

I am both ecstatic for him and them. And happy, oh so happy, for us and all involved.

For not feeling as if we abandoned him.

For new beginnings for all involved.

For love so big and new and powerful that it is humbling.

For sweet Marley, who as the sweet pup that he is, loves his family with no forethought. Who trusts and loves and hopes for the next moment with those who love him.

Life remains sweet, regardless of the circumstances.

With orders in hand, it’s officially official that our family of three will soon be residents of the state of Hawaii.

This move to Hawaii? 

Not the easiest Permanent Change of Station  (PCS) move, ever. 

Not the least complicated neither. 

And for the record, it has me feeling like a new military spouse, which, for the same record, is a totally new experience for me. For those who don’t know, when I married my beau, I already had a dependent ID. In fact, when I walked into the DEERS office at Fort Meade I was already in the system, they just had to switch me over to from child dependent to spouse dependent. 

I don’t care for the not knowing what to expect. I like an adventure as much as the next guy but I don’t care for being unprepared or not knowing where to cross all my t’s and dot all my i’s. 

So in preparation for a PCS to Hawaii (any PCS really), we began The Purge not that long ago. The Purge really means going through every single drawer, folder, cupboard, item in the house and deciding whether or not said item is really necessary or needed or even wanted. When we partook in the first purge at our last duty station, Fort Hood, The Purge was an exhausting, never ending process. We just had way too much, which is saying a lot when we had such a tiny little place. 

The Purge has gone by much smoother the second time around: 

We have less stuff to begin with AND we have learned to only bring into the house things we are really going to utilize. 

And yet with that said (and our weight allowance and smaller housing looming over our heads) we still went through everything in the house. Every bin in the garage, every kitchen gadget, every book on the shelf… you get the picture. 

For me, the hardest stuff to get rid of is homeschooling material. The amount of books we have is pretty staggering and adds up to a whole bunch of weight. Getting rid of books B has outgrown or that no longer are needed in our homeschool was huge. 

Purging will also make it easier (since everything is so well organized) to find and pull all the items we will ship ahead in our express shipment. I have never ever done an express shipment and didn’t even know they existed but with the option there and not knowing when our household goods will arrive, we are considering using this benefit and separating some items before the majority of our things are packed up. 

I have a feeling if we spend too much time in a hotel waiting on / finding housing that the express shipment will be moot but you just never know. Better to be safe than sorry.

Either way, I’m glad the Purge is mostly behind us (I have a stack of goodwill items in the garage mocking me). Although getting rid of household goods isn’t on the list of stuff they brief you on during the Overseas Briefing I’m certain it will come in handy as we move forward with this move and get ready to say hello to our new home for the next few years. 

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One of the things I look forward to most year in and and out is celebrating B’s birthday. I love every step of it, from the planning and shopping to the executing, even the clean up. Little B and I usually sit down together sometime in February or March to pick out his theme so I can begin brainstorming, researching, and compiling all the necessary items before the big day. 

But beyond all that, I love sharing in the celebration of his life with those who love him and cherish him and are just as excited to celebrate with him. Because for me that is what birthdays are all about. It’s about celebrating the life of the person who is around to see another year. It’s about spending time with them, joyfully and excitedly participating in the celebration of what a birthday truly is. 

I am so grateful for another birthday, for another season in B’s life. I am grateful for amazing friends, for the both of us, who sustain us and lift us up and make life that much sweeter. And I’m grateful for family, and the ability for them to travel, and partake in the celebrating as well. 

B’s party this year was too much fun. He wanted a nerf party, which is super simple enough because all we really needed were moving boxes, plenty of crepe paper and butcher paper to hang up, and some easy to find military gear to use as props. Finding games to play that we designated as “missions” was easy too; the internet is replete with them. BIg Brooks made films to show the kids in the Briefing Area of the house with details of the mission and team assignments (makes it so much easier when you have 13 excited boys ready to play). And before the fun even started, the kiddos went to the Assembly Area to pick up homemade nerf dart pouches, eye pro (ie. sunglasses), and official looking identification tags to wear. We even provided face paint for those who might want to look the whole part (only two took us up on that 🙂  ). After dinner, cake, and a sundae bar the kiddos played inside and outside to their hearts content: there may or may not have been cardboard box sumo wrestling, baseball, video game playing, s’more making, ghost story telling, camping, flashlight tag, a movie replete with homemade buttery popcorn, sword fighting, and endless bouts of nerf. The kiddos may or may not have gotten about 2 or 3 hours of sleep (this momma about the same). And there may or may not have been delicious fluffy pancakes and bacon for breakfast. 

It was the best way to spend B’s 11th birthday, truly. 

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Life remains sweet. 

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It’s no big secret I graduated Penn State recently. It’s no big secret it was a fourteen year effort, with a few years taken off in the midst of that to be momma to Little B while he was till an itty bitty little thing. Reflecting on the work and effort that it took to get there, though, left me in tears. 

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Not so much terrible awful, snot running down my face kind of tears. But tears of gratefulness that left me overwhelmed with how much those around me loved me and supported me through countless papers, exams, projects, and too many amazing books to list right here, right now.

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School was a glorious thing, in itself. I’m the kind of girl who gets excited about learning, who picks out books at the library at random just to learn something new. The beginning of each semester saw me excitedly sharpening pencils and preparing binders for syllabuses, and calendars, and all the notes that would eventually fill it. 

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But school was also the thing that competed day in and day out with the things that I felt, for the time being, were more important and yet held too much importance and worth to be taken lightly. It was a dance that I had to perfect over the years and which, at times, left me exhausted and burned out. 

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I had to balance school with housework, with errands that needed to be run but which I dreaded because it left me less time for things I considered more important. I had to balance school with my health, which I often neglected, and which I never deemed important enough to put high on my list (and a horrid mistake I wish I’d incorporated into the dance more smoothly, instead of abrasive moments of realizing how poorly I was taking care of myself and how it was affecting the whole dance). 

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I had to balance school with dating my beau, with making time for him, for taking care of his needs, for taking care of our marriage. More often than not it was evenings when I could finally sit down to work on my schoolwork and evenings when he had time to spend with me. Placing the computer within the vicinity of most of the household activity was a huge must so that I could type away or read while still trying to be a part of everything else going on. 

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I had to balance school with being Momma to LB. Motherhood is a beautiful thing, but one which requires infinite amounts of patience, energy, and time. Time to listen to all the little stories and things that make your child’s eyes alight with wonder and joy. Time to watch as they perfect their work on the balance beam during gymnastics or do something glorious on the flag football field. Patience for things that take them so much longer but which are worth the effort expelled for them to practice and reach things on their own. Patience for the moments when they are testing the limits and one must meet those moments with grace and wisdom. Energy for the countless games of Nerf or building forts or art activities, outdoor shenanigans, and everything in between. Energy, especially for good books to round out the day, his little head nestled softly on his head, and momma trying hard to keep from yawning while I knew good and well I just wanted to snuggle with him, go to sleep, and ignore the pages and pages of reading waiting for me downstairs. 

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I had to balance schoolwork with B’s own schooling. Homeschool is a beautiful, wonderful, glorious thing. i will ever be grateful for the ability to stay home with B and partake in his education, to mold the young man he’s becoming, to not allow the socialization agents of society dictate his beliefs, the things he’s exposed to, the things he might have accepted without another thought. I will ever be grateful for the amazing friendships formed, for both us. The crazy amounts of time dedicated to play, to discovery, to field trips, to activities, to new experiences otherwise not seen if he’d been in a schoolroom with same aged peers, so many hours of his day, in and out. 

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Above all, I always knew how important his schoolwork was in comparison to mine. It was never a thing I took lightly but it competed vividly with my own schoolwork. As B and I pored over websites, worked on projects, or read books together, educating him fully in the things deemed necessary and important for his future, for the formation of his identity, my own books sat more often than not neglected in a corner for hours, until the jobs of momma, wife, and teacher were completed. 

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My family always came first and balancing that with the needs of my schoolwork being high up on that list were always present in my mind. Being organized was a must. Being healthy enough to have the energy to meet the demands of the day were infinitely important. Having the grace of God was important above all because without Him none of it would have been possible. The understanding and patience of my own little family saw me through many a long night. 

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And without the support of my loved ones I would have faltered and possibly given up hope of every finishing. But support in excess I had. My mother called me frequently, asking what classes I was taking, asking how an exam had gone, encouraging always, admonishing just as often to finish what I’d started. When I completed my Associates her fear that I would stop was evident, and I was not going to let her down. Or myself. Or my family. They were the pebble in my shoe, not so much much giving discomfort, but constantly reminding me of what I could do. The amount of encouragement was insane, and I’m ever grateful for that. 

The times I called my mother in tears, for a broken computer (which she had supplied to begin with) which funds were lacking to replace. She immediately mailed me her own laptop, telling me over and over to not worry. My statistics class from you-know-where, perhaps I called her everyday in tears, knowing if I didn’t pass I’d have to take the class over and over and over until I passed with a C. Passing with a C was my mantra. Never before in my life had I worked so hard or wanted so keenly a C, a C!, in a class. Brooks was deployed at the time and spared from most of my grief and anguish and stress. 

And my ever present, without being present sister. Has anyone ever loved their sibling the way mine loves me? I doubt it. She loves without limit, without question, with a love that burns with passion and is never ending. How many times did she send us funds when money was so tight and I worried about homeschooling and going to school and not contributing financially to the family? How often did she send things, did food arrive at my door, because she knew, just knew that was needed? Too many times to keep track of. In fact, at one point she even provided us with a bank card so we could use it in an emergency. She blows me away with her generosity, her thoughtfulness, her wisdom, her LOVE, her availability to respond to my crises when present and to calmly provide solutions. She was by far one of my biggest supporters and cheerleaders.

My boys were amazing. Little B was so incredibly good. Never did I have to admonish him to keep busy so momma could work on schoolwork. When he had “free play” in our schedule he knew momma was busy doing school. He would play and keep himself busy so I could get my stuff done. He was always a huge help in the house, keeping his room clean, his bathroom tidy and wiped down, helping as asked. He never complained that I was doing schoolwork, never. He never ever made me feel guilty about balancing my own school with being Momma. Guilt, as a result, was never a part of the equation. I may have been aggravated at times to balance it all but never guilty. I never felt as if I shortchanged him and I’m ever grateful for that.

And my wonderful, beautiful, funny, smart, ever supported best friend: my beau. How could I have done it without him? His patience and love and support was always the salve I needed on the wounds of tiredness, of sleep deprivation, etc. He was the cheerleader who always knew exactly what to say, who was incredibly patient when the stress of school led my OCD into overdrive. When he saw me cleaning in a frenzy he knew I needed the extra patience to see me through whatever it was that was dragging me down. When I was short with him he knew how to bring me down to earth, if y’all know what I mean. Between the deployments and his work schedule when home, and homeschooling B, and my school life sure was interesting, but man oh man, did it not make us closer? Our marriage warmer and stronger?

I know so. 

So, Thanksgraduation was a thanksgiving dinner to celebrate and thank those who supported me the most during my journey to my BA in Psychology. It was a moment to reflect and be grateful. I am ever grateful.

I’ve been asked over the years, why am I so happy, so often? And really when I’m asked I’m always taken aback, because who am I? And I don’t mean that in a negative, self depreciating way. Not at all. I just mean that I’m always stunned that someone would look at me, just another one of God’s children, in a way that merits the looks I am given when asked that question. I am always touched and humbled when asked so. And it’s an attitude of gratefulness that makes me exude joy, who leads me to see the glass as perpetually half full, which leads me to not take anything for granted. I kid you not, when I run that dishwasher or put in a load of laundry, I thank God for those things that make life easier. When I tuck B into bed, it’s with a silent prayer of thanks, for my little boy, for another day, for a good book to share, for the moment. And even when things are bad, there are things to be grateful for, things that add a silver lining to even the bleakest of moments. Hang on to that and before long the sun will be shining and you will be filled with a joy that takes your breath away. 

God is so good.

So, gratefulness is the word and the action that brought me to tears during my graduation celebration. Not just for running the race well, and completing it well, but for all the things that fell in to place to make it so, for all the support and love bestowed on me, for the hands that all saw it through. 

Life remains ever sweet. 

Always. 

 

 

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We were lucky enough to attend a ceremony this weekend for John Tyler. Although we’d visited his final resting place at the Hollywood Cemetery on President’s Day it was  neat to attend a military ceremony in his honor with his family members present. Although it rained steadily throughout the morning it was a beautiful day and we enjoyed every minute of it. 

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And The Boy and I were even able to gleam some new information about our 10th president. We’ve included an extensive study of our presidents this year as I don’t just want B to spit out the presidents in order; I really want him to grasp the historical context of their presidencies, the things that shaped them and their actions, the policies they implemented or supported and why. So we were tickled pink to learn some new information on President Tyler. 

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For those in the Richmond area, the Tyler residence isn’t far from here and Hollywood Cemetery is a treat in itself. If the weather would just turn more spring like it would make for a great afternoon day trip.

Pardon all the less than stellar photos. I was unsure of protocol during various parts of the wreath laying ceremony and was trying hard to take photos without drawing attention.

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My handsome escort. He made sure his momma stayed dry and kept a steady hand on my arm so I wouldn’t slip on the wet stones. My little man is turning into quite the gentleman. 

I cannot remember when the idea of the Fun Jar erupted in my brain, but I can tell you this… the idea came before the heyday of Pinterest and the ease of quickly finding, pinning, and then finding again ideas to utilize at the drop of a hat with one’s littles. Regardless of my use of Pinterest, and all the pinteresting ideas found therein (and I do believe Webster’s Dictionary ought to put that one down this year as a new adjective), I find myself still very much using our Fun Jar.

What is a Fun Jar you ask?

A Fun Jar is simply a large container (glass jar, in our family) filled with large squares of paper that have been folded with ideas written on them for “fun” at a moments notice. Some of the fun comes simply from the idea of not knowing what is going to be drawn (the excitement for B when he was little was seriously palpable), from yelling out suddenly into the house, “Fun Jar!” at the top of  my lungs, or even with coming up with activities to put in the Fun Jar. 

I have a habit of sitting down first thing in the morning and coming up with 2 to 3 activities that I want to complete with B that day. Invariably, one of them is typically art. Reading together at night is a certainty, so that one doesn’t even get etched on my list, unless it’s going to be a crazy hectic day and I want to remember to not be too exhausted to read (or fall asleep while reading). But the other two are sometimes drawn from the Fun Jar or simply written on my list as Fun Jar picks. 

Here is the thing about homeschooling. The Boy and I are alone most of the day. I LOVE it! I don’t begrudge the time we get to spend together and I’m grateful that we have a warm and loving, as well as close relationship. Beyond schooling I find it important for B to manage his time alone (ie. keep himself busy, find things to occupy his time, etc). In fact, I’ve found that B rarely (like once in a blue moon) even mentions that he is what we would call bored. He will typically say that he can’t think of what to do followed by the query, “Can you help me think of something to do?”

But all that time also means that as an only child I am very much sometimes also a “playmate” for B. In this house we never ever use that word or the connotation associated with it. I am very much B’s mother and there is a line there. I don’t aim to be friends with B, though I hope that when he becomes an adult our relationship will allow for that. But we do play quite often together. I will admit, some of the games we play are born of B’s imagination. Some of them I LOVE, love, love. Others I inwardly (silently) groan and muddle through it, a big ol’ smile plastered on my face. Don’t we do that, though? Don’t we love each other deeply enough to share in each other’s joys and interests, even if we don’t care for them? 

But that is neither here nor there, as I’ve digressed. 

The Fun Jar. 

After homeschooling and chores and and free time and independent school work done outside of the confines of the “school day.” ie. the time we sit together and work on his school or I lecture, whatever the case may be, our day is peppered with activities that I’ve previously written down to complete that day. Again, one always being art, and the other two typically being something else. It can be to build a fort and watch a movie, to bake something together, to go for a night walk, to make a new bird feeder, to create balloon rockets, to have an indoor snowball fight (think white rolled up socks), etc etc. A lot of those ideas come from the Fun Jar. Some I find on Pinterest, and others I pull from my days preparing to teach early childhood ed. As B has grown the activities on the Fun Jar have evolved and changed too. “Playing with our parachute” no longer works as The Boy has gotten way too big for such things, or “pull out the water and sand table” is a thing of the past (and how I miss those days!). But you get the idea. I try to keep the things in the Fun Jar simple and easy, things that I know I have the materials on hand for and that, especially on busy days, be an activity that runs for 20 or 30 minutes.

I often remind myself, especially on hectic days where my to-dos are in competition with my do-wants, that the do-wants are especially important because they involve My Little. Now that doesn’t mean I neglect the to-dos, but that does mean that those do-wants get priority and that I make them happen. Here is another thing I often remind myself… most of the activities on the Fun Jar take 15, 20 minutes. That’s it! And you would be surprised at how those 15 to 20 minutes of something fun, and loved, and shared together energize kiddos and give them renewed spirt and umph! Kiddos will take your ear off because sometimes we are too busy to really listen and that is something I remind myself of often as well.

There’s a fine line there as well. In all this activity and planning and executing there are boundaries. If I’m working on something on the computer or on the phone B understands he must respect that time and he can come and talk to me later and share whatever is on his heart. His understands, as I’ve often told him, that I love him and I love hearing all his ideas and thoughts and opinions and “light bulb” moments. However, we have to respect others and especially adults. We have to wait and be patient. I refuse to drop some things to listen as I understand that that is a valuable lesson as well. And there are times I drop what I’m doing to listen or run and see something he wants me to look at right this second, typically during housework or cooking. 

And yet, I digress again.

So ideas for the Fun Jar. The ability to add and subtract from this list is obviously easy and feel free to add things that will appeal to your littles. I have a boy and so my jar has always been dictated by the fact that he enjoys some things that perhaps girls might not, but you get the picture.

Fun Jar ideas:

Play with bubbles.

Build paper airplanes (and see who can fly theirs the farthest, etc).

Build an indoor fort.

Play with shaving cream on the table (um, this actually helps clean the table 😉  )

Put on silly kids music and dance, dance, dance.

Bake something together.

Create (and eat) no egg cookie dough.

Paint your face (think of like a carnival).

Splash in the kiddie pool.

Pull out the slip-n-slide.

Suminagashi.

Make a bird feeder.

Have an indoor snowball fight.

Make a recipe for a smoothie and make it (kid inspired).

Work on a comic book page together.

Play dress up!

Put on a puppet show!

Build a tall structure with blocks.

Have an indoor scavenger hunt (with or without clues).

Write a letter to someone (and get excited about the response).

Collect and paint or draw on rocks (on hot days you can take crayons outside and draw on the hot rocks, just be careful!)

Go for a dice walk.

Play with something gooey (think Gak!)

Make homemade play dough and whip out kitchen utensils for fun and endless play.

Declare it a Wacky Dress Day and see who is the wackiest.

You Pick the board game (ie. the kiddo does).

Indoor treasure hunt replete with treasure map (this can be done quickly, it’s the idea that seems to be most exciting to kids).

Have breakfast for dinner!

Learn a new but classic card game.

Watch a beloved movie (pop some popcorn, pull our every pillow you own, and get some comfy blankets).

Might I Bite? (Variation of 20 questions with only animals)

Take turns drawing on a half piece of paper to see what your drawing ends up looking like.

Be a Ninja!

Two Truths One Lie

Work on a puzzle together.

Make and fly a Kite, or one or the other.

Switcheroo (Dress up in wacky clothes and then in secret remove one article, like a scarf, and see if they can guess it. Take turns)

Pull our paper and scissors and cut and paste away.

Do a challenge, winner has no bedtime (or later bedtime)

Go on an imagination walk.

Play with homemade mud.

Create an obstacle course.

Put on a talent show (part of the fun can be creating a banner to go with)

Snowblowers (race against others to get your snowball across the finish line)

Build structures with red solo cups

Build structures with mini marshmallows and toothpicks.

Ping Pong Basketball

Go for a bike ride.

Take a hike!

Play video games (yup, I said it!)

Pull out the stuffed animals for hospital, school, or whatever play.

Declare it a Pajama Day!

No Rule Day!

Play bocce.

Play balloon volleyball.

Water balloon fight.

Play with marbles.

Make a marble run.

Make a mini golf course inside.

Create a sculpture out of clay.

Paint outside.

Create an obstacle course with chalk.

Sleep in a fort.

Marshmallow War

Create your own island (on paper or in the house)

Have a nerf war.

The list can be endless and as I said you can add stuff, retract stuff, or change things up so they work for you and your family rules, values, etc. 

Writing all this up makes me a bit sad that we won’t utilize our Fun Jar today. We are hoping the weather holds off today so we can go play at Busch Gardens. I suppose we can call today, “Hookey Day ;)”

As always, I find myself every so grateful for another day.

 

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As my friends will attest, I’ve been dying to host a Minute 2 Win It game night. Originally, the idea was to host a couples night, with each couple competing for a cash prize. However, the ladies and gents that make up our game night are ubber competitive and sadly the ladies have been unable to win much when we’ve done Boys against Girls. This is A Very Sad Fact. So, it didn’t surprise me when everyone wanted to/expected there to be a rematch.

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Spoiler alert: The gents won, again.

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But we all had fun and I think that’s the key to a great game night.

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The food was awesome, the company stellar, and the games had us in stitches.

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Game night could  not be any easier to throw together. (A big ol’ thank you to  my mother-in-law that helped with the food prep).

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The only “big” thing I had to do was make up a super easy poster to list the games in order of completion and the team scores. The only “big” thing Big Brooks had to do was open up a word document I sent him with the link to the game “blueprints” listed in the order we were to play them. This way, during the party, all he had to do was click on the link and the official blueprint from the gameshow would begin playing on the big screen in the living room (having an Apple TV to do this made this incredibly easy). The Man even used an iPhone app displayed on the big screen to keep track of the time. I loved the ease of playing the video with all the details on how to play, etc.

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All the items for the games were easily found around the house or super cheap to buy so I’m hoping at some point I can convince everyone to meet again for another Minute 2 Win It game night.

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Here are some more pictures:

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I’ve been hearing about Hollywood Cemetery from local acquaintances but somehow or other we have never made our way to this little gem in Richmond. With D.Brooks at home and a federal holiday calling us to honor our presidents I thought it fitting to head there today. Two of our presidents are buried there: James Monroe and John Tyler. This year, along with our regular history curriculum, we’ve focused on a study devoted entirely to our presidents. I thought this particular outing fitting for both those reasons. And, the history geeks in the house were thrilled as well.

For those in the local area, a visit is a must. The history of the cemetery is rich and diverse with some incredible personalities laid to rest here. Of course, for those who are ardent students of the Civil War this place will not disappoint. Jefferson Davis is buried at Hollywood. There is a whole section devoted to soldiers who served on the Confederate side, with 18,000 soldiers laid to rest there. One of the neatest things we saw was this:

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This 90 foot pyramid was constructed just four years after the Civil War ended. While the former states of the Confederacy were mired in financial burdens due to Reconstruction the citizens of Richmond raised the funds necessary to build this thing. Note the lack of any mortar between the stones. If that wasn’t interesting enough, when it came time to place the capstone atop this behemoth the only one willing to do the job (and risk his life) was a prisoner who was granted his freedom after successfully completing the job.

Don’t you just love history?

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There’s tons more to see at Hollywood. Check out the website for the cemetery here: http://www.hollywoodcemetery.org/

If I were you I would also print out the Girl Scout’s guide on the website as they contain some pretty neat info on not just the cemetery but those buried here. For those not so interested in the personal histories of those buried here the scenery is beautiful and you could also make it a point to find the various symbols found on tombstones throughout. For example, lilies found on many gravestones throughout signify purity or symbolize resurrection and urns that are draped signify death.

The winding paths and scenery also make this the perfect place to take a walk or jog during milder weather. We saw a jogger and several walkers while making our way around. Lastly, if you don’t want to break your noggin trying to figure out the less than stellar map provided in the Girl Scout’s guide just follow the blue painted line on the path. Trust me. I wish we’d figured that out earlier!

It’s hard to be that close to Carey Street and not stop in for a bite and a little shopping. B is always content with checking out the toy store or the video game shop. And Big Brooks had his eyes on acquiring a few new records. And this Little Lady was happy to tag along, always.