Monday, August 11, 2014

For the Dogs

Today I wanted to share a quick project I finished a few days ago. A while ago I was perusing good ol' Pinterest, and came across a pin that suggested putting a dog bowl in a planter to dress it up a bit. What a great idea! We don't have a dog, but wouldn't it be fun for neighbors who walk their dogs by our house?

I stopped at my local Home Depot to check out their planters. To be honest, I had a little bit of a hard time picking a planter. I was originally planning to get a plastic urn style planter, but I couldn't find what I had in my mind. After walking up and down the aisle a few times deciding between a few other options, I finally landed on a terracotta planter that seemed short enough for most dogs to get their noses into easily and wide enough to hold a bowl.

I then went to the local Petco with my planter in hand to find a bowl to fit. Plus it was a nice excuse to peek at the adoptable animals in the store. My kids were thrilled to see a quartet of kittens in a little tent, sleeping and playing. I nearly needed to buy leashes for the kids to haul them out of the store! :)

Once I decided to use a terracotta planter, I knew it needed to be painted! I used paints I had on hand, because goodness knows I have plenty of craft paint!

I painted the inside of the planter a lighter sky blue about halfway down the inside of the planter. With the bowl inside, there really isn't a need to paint the entire interior, but you certainly could. I then painted the outside of the planter in a dark blue. Once that was dry I added paw prints in white paint around the planter, just to make it clear to the humans what the intended purpose of the bowl is. :)
When everything was dry again, I used a craft varnish on both the outside and inside of the planter. Since I was using craft acrylic paints and it would be outside, I wanted a little extra protection for it.

One more time to dry, then I popped in the bowl, filled it with water and put it in the front yard along the sidewalk. I put it next to our huge tree and while it isn't the prettiest spot, I put it there because I didn't want walkers or bikers to miss it and accidentally knock it over. My husband and I have plans to redo the area around the tree anyway so it will look nicer once that is done.

We've already had some neighborhood pups stop during their walks and get a little refreshment, which just tickles me! Hopefully they continue to enjoy it! :)

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tiny Dancer

As I say far too often, things here are busy. I don't say that as an excuse or to look for sympathy, but really just as a fact. Life is busy. That's ok though...it makes you appreciate the quiet moments more.

One of things that has kept us busy has been Abby's involvement in dance. At the end of last year, I wasn't sure if she was going to want to dance again this year. When we were leaving her recital she told me, "I don't want to go to dance class anymore. I think I'll just go to the recital". :) I decided not to pester her about dance during the summer. It had been another busy year, and for the first time she had taken a full set of the basic classes, that is, ballet, tap and jazz. I think she was just tired. At the end of the summer the sign up notification came in the mail and I asked her what she wanted to do. Thankfully, she was ready to dive back in. Suddenly she wanted to sign up for everything...ballet, tap, jazz, acro, lyrical, hip hop, etc. Yikes! She was also excited because the studio director had decided to create a competitive jazz team for her age group and had asked her to participate. Then it turned out that two of her dance buddies were also going to be in her class at her new school, so it was dance all the time! :)


In the end, we decided to stick with the basic trio (ballet, tap, jazz) and we let her choose between Hip Hop and Lyrical. She decided on Hip Hop. Her flexibility needed a little work, so her teachers also recommended the Acro class. Since she had been doing gymnastics the year before, we decided to keep going along that line and do Acro too. Is your head spinning yet? Do I sound like a crazy dance mom yet? lol Before you think I have become a cast member of "Dance Moms", read on...


It's not that bad really. She is at the studio 3 nights a week, but two of them are only 45 minute classes. The Acro class has really helped her with her flexibility. Her confidence is way up, and she loves her teacher. The Hip Hop class is ok...I think the shine wore off after a bit but she still enjoys it. I think there is just too broad an age group and skill level and she gets a little lost sometimes. It's pretty fast paced.

Her trio classes are on Thursday, back to back. That works out to just over 2 hours. With her energy, she doesn't blink an eye and it gives me some time to work on some knitting or other portable craft project. Her Jazz team has been a blast; she feels so special being part of the Comp Team and there are only 6 girls in the class so they are all really close now. It's been a bit of an eye opener for me in terms of the competition world, but nothing bad. Really, it's more like, "How do these dancers do this for multiple numbers over the course of a weekend?!?!" I'm exhausted after only one number and I'm not dancing! I give them a lot of credit - these dancers are real athletes. The other parents have been really welcoming and really supportive of each other and the kids - they work really hard at making things as easy as possible for them. They coordinate food tables/potluck, help each other's kids with costumes & makeup, create all kinds of fun things to show team spirit and don't let drama play a part in it. The older dancers are assigned a younger dancer as a "buddy" and the buddies give each other little gifts or make signs to cheer each other on. It's a really great program.

So I thought I would share a few pictures of Abby from the past few months to give you a taste of what is happening:
When the competition season started, we had to add a little more "bling" to the costume. After all, it needs to shine on the stage! So the E-6000 tube and I became fast friends. Whew, fumes! :)


And of course their bears needed a little "bling" too! :)
In class and on competition days there is lots of rehearsing! The girls are dancing to "Mr. Sandman" and they start and end the number asleep with their bears. It's such a cute routine and really age appropriate.


Competition done, and smiles all around! The girls have placed 2nd in their age group at each of the three competitions they have attended - not bad for first timers! They have also taken a few special awards - way to go girls! This will also be their Jazz number for the recital in June and I know everyone will love it!


Last but not least, is her studio picture. This is her ballet costume and I just adore it. She loves it too, as she told me there is great "twirlability" with this dress. Her Hip Hop costume, well...it's not what I would have picked, but I'm not a fan of gold lame' as a general rule. :)

As for me, I leave you with this:

We're having shirts like this made - after all, you just can't take things too seriously, right? :)

Next time, we'll talk baseball season!



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Monday, May 19, 2014

She said "Everything's Ok".



Hi everyone - it's been shamefully too long since I've blogged. Things have been busy of course, and at the same time I have felt like there hasn't been anything meaningful to write about. But I need to get back in the saddle, so to speak. I wanted to start by sharing a story.
A few days before Mother's Day I had a dream about my mom. I rarely remember my dreams, and this is the first dream I know of that I've had about my mom since she died in January. It wasn't a very long dream, really just a moment, but it was incredible vivid.

I was in the back of a room, almost as if it was scene that was being set up in front of me. The room ran lengthwise across and toward the front of the room there were a few round tables and chairs. My mother was sitting at one of the tables, with her back mostly to me. She was looking at a friend of hers, who was talking to her very animatedly. My mom wasn't saying anything, she was just listening patiently, which was very normal for her to do.

Suddenly the scene shifted and I was at the end of the room, to the left of where I had been watching before. At that moment, I was a participant in the scene. I looked at her, and could feel myself getting excited that she was there...she was really there! She turned and looked at me. Her friend suddenly didn't seem to be there, though I knew she still was. But I was completely focused on my mom, and she on me. It seemed that my entire field of vision was filled with my mom's face, but I didn't feel like either of us had moved. She looked at me very seriously, not angry or anything like that. Instead, she seemed determined. Determined that I remember this moment, as if she knew I rarely remember my dreams.

Then she slowly and clearly said, "Everything's ok". 

At that moment, I could feel the emotions start to well up. I wanted to say so much to her, to hug her, to cry, to tell her how much I miss her and how hard everyday is without her. Before any of that could happen though, I woke up. I woke with a choked back sob in my throat, and all I wanted to do was cry. But I couldn't, I physically couldn't. I caught my breath, and I remember whispering "Thanks, Mom". I immediately fell back asleep.

In the morning I cried. I told my husband about my dream and I cried. After I took the kids to school I cried on my way to work. I teared up most of the day. I just couldn't get the image out of my head. I shared the story with my brother and he told me that the night before he had been feeling pretty low, thinking about mom. That morning, he had seen my note, and it made him feel better. Like it was a message to us, letting us know that things are ok. Whether things are ok with her, or will be ok with us...I hope that it will be both.

I still think about that dream regularly, but now, it's comforting, rather than upsetting. I miss her so much, but I trust her when she says "Everything's ok".

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Abby turns 7

Let her sleep, for when she wakes, she will move mountains.

Abby, at the moment she turned 7.

It's so hard to believe that this little munchkin is ours. She is such a great person...feisty at times and stubborn as heck, but with a deep passion for the things and people she loves. I can't wait to see her continue to grow and blossom. I know we will butt heads at time (she gets her stubbornness from someone after all!) but I hope that she will never doubt how much I love her.

Her birthday was a few days ago. We celebrated with some classmates on the 21st with a party at the local bounce house, letting a bunch of 6 and 7 year olds bounce off some of that never-ending energy. :) Then on her actual birthday, we had a family dinner at a restaurant of her choice after dance class. She picked Red Lobster, which was absolutely packed! There were the four of us, plus my dad, my mother in law, my brother in law and our niece. We had a great time together.

It was a bit bittersweet though, being the first birthday in the family that we celebrated without my mom. I know were surrounded by her love though. I never doubt that.

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Just a few updates

Hello from the frozen land of Michigan!

Firstly, I wanted to thank everyone who sent a message regarding my mom's passing. I am overwhelmed and humbled by the kindness that has been shown, both by people I may know in real life, but also by those who I have never officially met. This community has been so supportive and wonderful, and I really appreciate all of the kind words that have been shared!

It's so hard to believe that it has been almost 2 months since my mom died. It's still surreal, and I still almost expect to hear her voice on the line when my phone rings and I see "Mom & Dad" on the caller ID. We talk about her often, remembering her, especially with my children. Tomorrow is Abby's birthday and it will be a bittersweet day...it's the first family birthday since she died and it will be tough not having her at the family dinner. But we will all be together, and I know we will be surrounded by Mom's love.

Our days have continued to be busy, as normal. That never seems to change, right? The kids are just back to school today after a week off for their mid-winter recess. With all of the Snow Days and Cold Days we've had since the beginning of the year, more than once I've heard a parent grumble about the necessity of another week off. :) This morning, Davin fumbled down the stairs, hair sticking up all over and cheeks flushed with sleep, and the first thing he asked was whether there was a Snow Day today! Poor kid, no such luck, though it's turned cold again and there were flakes coming down as we put the kids on the bus this morning. We had a bit of a break in the weather for a couple days last week, turning everything to icy mush, but it's frozen again, with sheets of ice on roads and sidewalks. I normally don't mind winter TOO much, but like everyone else, I am so ready for spring and the sight of anything green!

Abby had been busy with dance classes. She is preparing for her first dance competition in a couple weeks, so I have been spending lots of time with E-6000 glue and rhinestones to add some sparkle to her costume and team jacket. :) Love those fumes!

Davin has joined the newly formed Cub Scout pack at his school. He has been so excited to join. The group is going through some expected growing pains, and I hope it settles soon. He has also signed up for baseball and that may interfere with scouts so that he can't carry both. But we'll cross that bridge when it comes.

School is going well for both of them. Abby loves her teacher and is thriving in the new school. We are working on developing her sight words skills and challenging her reading so she takes on new material rather than going the safe route with stories she is already familiar with. She isn't a child who likes to dive in to something she doesn't fully understand, which can make learning new things frustrating if she feels she isn't going to master it right away. This year Davin has found a few challenges that we are working on with him. His handwriting has never been great, but it's become more evident this year. He also tends to be distracted during class and has a harder time expressing details in his writing. He is definitely a "math" kid...he flies through his math work, doing the equations in his head and puzzling through story problems. We are working on having him slow down his writing so it's more legible and show his work during math. It's coming, though a little slowly.

If anyone has tips or materials that could help us, I am all ears! :)

As for me, it's a lot of the same old, same old. :) But between work, running the mom taxi, and attempting to keep the house somewhat clean (oy!), I am keeping my promise to myself to do a bit of crafting each day. I have reached the point that I can't just sit and watch tv at night...I need to have a bit of knitting or something else with me to keep my hands busy. I have some projects in progress, and I will spend a bit more time going over those in my next post. This time however, I just wanted to post a quick check-in that was family related. Hope you don't mind! :)

I hope all of you are well...that those of you stuck with this cold weather are bearing through alright, and those enjoying warmer temps can encourage Mother Nature to send a bit of it our way! :)


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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A new year, and a new way of life

Long time, no see, right?
I want to apologize for not posting for so long. Somehow the fall and start of winter got away from me, and suddenly we were wrapping up 2013.

I had planned to write about goals for 2014, but unfortunately, the start of 2014 has been, well, devastating. I unexpectedly lost my mother on January 2nd. She went to the hospital for an outpatient angioplasty on the artery in her knee on New Years Eve, and unfortunately there were some major complications. The doctors found additional blockages and although they tried to clear them, there was a blockage to the artery supplying blood to her bowels and intestines, and the systems had become necrotic and were shutting down. We were fortunate to spend her final hours with her, and I am grateful that my last words to her were "I love you".

There are so many more words to say, but frankly, I don't know how to say them. Losing my mother has been the most devastating thing I have ever experienced. It has also been the most humbling. The outpouring of love and support from family and friends has been overwhelming, and coming from what I always thought was a small circle, it has really humbled me. She touched so many lives in ways I couldn't have imagined. Usually it was in what many would feel were small things but when those things are gone, you realize how much of a difference it made to people.

Her memorial service was on Saturday the 11th. I had no idea how many people would come, but the entire afternoon I was met by people who came to express their sympathy and love for her and the rest of us. When we began the service, the entire room was full. It was amazing. My father, brother, husband and I all spoke, as well as a few of her friends. Their words were simple and loving and perfect. We shared tears and laughs together. After the service, many people came to my parents house to be with my dad. We shared more tears and laughs, were fortified by food and love. It was an overwhelming and exhausting day, but it was a perfect tribute to my mom.

I am still processing all of this. It's still very difficult to talk to people about. Today was my first real day back at work, and it was hard. I cry every day and I miss her so much. We're just taking things one day at a time, it's really all we can do, right?

(My mother, about 1977)



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Monday, November 4, 2013

The Best Moments


There are so many moments when we are running like chickens with our heads cut off, to school, work, getting things done around the house, kids activities, etc. But then there are the best moments, when we get to pause all of the busy times, and get to do things like this. I love it and cherish them.