October

I think Anne Shirley might have said it best when she proclaimed, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”  The air is crisp, the leaves are beaming with bright colors, and I get to start wearing cozy sweaters.  All great things!  And don’t get me started on the vast amount of pumpkin products that I’m finding at Trader Joe’s right now.  It’s like some sort of pumpkin madness has taken over the store!  But I’m not complaining.  Believe me, I’m enjoying every minute of it.

Awhile back, we went with some friends to gather a few (and by a few I mean many) branches of fall-colored leaves.  And now those branches are spreading their fall cheer in all kinds of nooks and crannies of our home.  The biggest bunch I put right on the front door.  I want to guests (and me) to walk into the house being welcomed by fall’s warm colors.  The saying usually goes, “Take time to smell the roses,”  but right now I think it would be appropriate to say, “Take some time to enjoy October.”

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my buddy and me

my buddy and me

my beautiful friend, Jo

my beautiful friend, Jo

Conquerers!

Conquerers!

someone is on a brave adventure

someone is on a brave adventure

bookcase before and after

With a new school year coming in a little over a month, all teachers are in planning mode, even we homeschoolers.  We don’t have a dedicated schoolroom in our house, but the upstairs hallway has been delegated as the place where most of our schoolbooks and supplies are stored.  This week I was able to take some time to edit and organize the space.  There will probably be some more minor changes once school starts in September, but I’m pretty happy with it right now.  For now, here are a few before photos and a few after photos too.  It’s not a complete turnaround, but enough of a change to get me motivated for the coming school year.

before #1

before #1

before #2

before #2

ta-da!  After #1

ta-da! After #1

After #2, the organized bookcase

After #2, the organized bookcase

After #3, new art, more color, less clutter

After #3, new art, more color, less clutter

New here comes the fun part.  I joke with Brent all the time about these blog posts.  I know that he sees them and at least looks at the title and maybe some of the pictures.  But I’m pretty sure that he rarely actually reads these things to the end.  Please understand, it doesn’t bother me.  It just gives me something to tease him about.  So now I’m writing this down here at the bottom of the post to see if he actually notices that this paragraph is about him!  Shhh!  Don’t tell!  We’ll all find out if he made it through the whole thing if he leaves a comment.  What do you think?  Will he make it all the way to the end?  How many days before that happens?  We’ll see!

welcome spring

The calendar says it’s spring and the days are getting longer.  But the temperature is still a little chilly and Jack Frost is still making an appearance every once in awhile.  And I know that many people across the country are experiencing severe winter weather.  So in an attempt to encourage spring to come in earnest, we’ve put up some decorations around the house.  I don’t know if it will really help, but it can’t hurt, right?

IMG_0248 IMG_0249 IMG_0250 IMG_0252 IMG_0251We were trying to use lots of bright colors.  And you can make almost anything look cute if you put it in a mason jar with a ribbon around it.  The bird’s nest is not store-bought.  Grandma Robinson and Lauren found it last year and we’ve been saving it for this spring.  Then Lauren added some downy feathers she found in the back yard.  The pussy willow branches were from the neighborhood.  If you look outside in the front yard, you can see that the tulips have got the message and are starting to peek out from their slumber.  Welcome spring!

March craft projects

If you look around the crafting universe, you’ll see a lot of books called Smash Books or Junque Journals.  I think they are basically an informal way of scrapbooking.  Some scrapbookers use this method for projects called December Dailies.  These are daily scrappy journals that you can keep during the month of  December to document your advent season.  This idea really appeals to me, but I didn’t want to have to wait until Christmas to try it.  Fortunately, Easter is March 31 this year, so I made up a little daily journal for the month of March.  Some of it will be about getting ready for Easter.  But I have a feeling some of it will end up being about every day little things, too.  (I predict a few entries about March Madness.)  I made the journal with extra scrap paper, envelopes, and greeting cards.  The pages are blank now, but starting tomorrow, it will get filled in little by little.

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The next journal is actually not a journal at all.  It’s a birthday card for Emma.  She is turning twelve!  I know, I know.  You can’t believe it!  Me neither!  Even though we’re not ready for her to be twelve, she definitely is.  Oh well.  I guess I can’t keep her a little girl forever.  For this project, I added a lot more detail and glitz and glam.  The idea is to fill it with twelve things that we love about Emma and give it to her as a keepsake.  Another post will come soon with what we write inside of it.IMG_0181

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I had a lot of fun making these journals and I think I’ll have just as much fun filling them.  Can you imagine one all about summer vacation?  Or a trip to the beach?  Or an anniversary?  The possibilities are almost endless!

suitcase storage

For a long time now, we have been using a TV tray as a side table in the family room.  It gave us a place to put stuff, but it was a little on the small side and not very sturdy.  But we recently got an upgrade on the side table using suitcases.  It’s not your normal side table solution, but it’s working out really well for us.  I found some old suitcases here and there at flea markets and consignment shops around town.  I didn’t find them all at once.  It took some patience.  They are similar in color and have just the right graduated sizes for stacking, so now we can use them for two purposes: a new side table and new place for some storage.  This is how we packed them:

Fall and Thanksgiving decorations.

Fall and Thanksgiving decorations.

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Little friends waiting for their turn in the toy rotation

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gift wrapping

Put them all together and you’ve got a new piece of furniture!  There a quite a few bumps and bruises on these vintage cases, but I think that adds to the character and charm of them.  It also makes them less expensive.  The fall decorations only come out once a year, so it’s a good choice for the bottom case.  I don’t want to have to undo the stack of suitcases too often.  And the gift suitcase has some ready-to-go gifts in it that I have stashed, but I didn’t put them in the picture since some of you who read this blog might be receiving some of those gifts in the future.  No peeking!  We’re happy with the result.  Now we’ll see what other new projects we can do.

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The suitcases get a new home with a new purpose.

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They’re ready for their close up!

closet before and after

There is an extra closet in the back of the girls’ room that has been neglected for far too long.  It has some wonderful shelving installed, but it hasn’t been used well.  It became a “catch all” kind of place for whatever the kids were doing and I think it had been a few months since I had actually even walked into it.  Of course, this could have been because it was so full of stuff that it was impossible to step inside anyway.  This was a sad and neglected space.  To put it simply:  this closet needed a mommy.

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Crazy, right?  So I spent a Friday evening and a Saturday morning deciding what to save, what to give away or sell, and what to throw in the trash.  You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the biggest pile was the trash pile.  Eventually, the closet came back to life with everything in its place.  I must admit that getting this corner of our home organized gave me a great feeling.  Like a breath of fresh air!

IMG_0169Much Better!  You can see the floor!  Do you notice the tiny runaway green lego piece on the carpet?  If not for the redo, that little guy might have been lost forever.  There are two bins on the bottom level.  Now the girls each have their own bin for any big toys or dolls.  I thought about making some cute labels for each of the shoe boxes, but the boxes are clear and you can see what’s in them already.  The boxes are organized into categories or types of supplies:  a science kit  I took out of the packaging and consolidated with a few other science supplies, math (dice, flashcards, rulers), art, crafts, crayons, colored pencils, pencils & erasers, markers, little phonics reader books for Lauren, notepads, and one hiding in the back that has the entire Narnia series in paperback.  There’s one tall bin with a big craft project that Emma hasn’t finished yet.  The purple box in the middle has writing and construction paper.  The rest is pretty self explanatory.  I purposefully left some of the shelves empty.  I know it won’t take long to need them.  I like to call these “shelves-in-waiting”.

I don’t need this closet to stay picture perfect all the time, but I would like to be able to at least walk into it when needed.  Now that this space has been conquered, maybe I’ll be brave enough to tackle a few (or a lot) of the other clutter collecting corners that sometimes develop in a home.

I wanted to include a few pictures that probably don’t need their own blog post, but they make me smile.  The first makes my mommy/teacher heart go all aflutter.  The second is a cute and clever little sign at one of our favorite local eateries, Jackson’s Corner.

IMG_0170IMG_0171And now I’m off to find another place for a before and after makeover.  Happy organizing!

 

valentine’s day

Usually for Valentine’s Day, Brent and I do NOT go out.  It’s just too hard to get childcare and find a table and a restaurant and fight the crowds, etc.  So we just take the 14th of February as a day to relax with family and cherish those we love.  I’ll probably use another post to brag about my gift from Brent, but in the meantime, here are some photos from today.

nothing says love like a heart-shaped pizza

Lauren, Brent, Emma, Blake, and Uncle Will are ready to feast. We had some Cherry 7-Up to drink. The flowers were from Uncle Brad and Aunt Ruchita's wedding.

Emma made homemade valentines for everybody. She loves to give. I think she gets that from her grandmas.

We took a field trip to Powell's Sweet Shoppe. Thanks for the gift cards, Grandma and Grandpa. You can get a sugar high just by walking through the door! There is candy everywhere!

The kids each enjoyed a gelato at Powell's. They got to sit in the back of the store a watch a little bit of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Maybe the red eyes are from the sugar overload! Ha!

As we were walking down Wall Street downtown, we noticed one of our landmark sculptures had a little homemade valentine touch. So cute!

I just wanted to say that the best thing about Valentine’s Day, for me, is Brent.  I’m so grateful for the love of my life.  I often say that I am the most blessed person I know.  Brent is one of the biggest reasons why I think that.

The second best thing about Valentine’s Day is that now the corny jewelry commercials will go away!  Hurray!  Happy Hearts Day!

what’s under the bed?

Right now we’re in the middle of a big clean out of the girls’ room.  Now that the birthday and holiday blitz is over, it’s a good time to edit what we don’t need or don’t use anymore. So all of the nooks and crannies of the girls’ room is getting cleared and organized, including under Emma’s bed.  The space under a bed can be an excellent option for storage, but it can also be like a black hole where things go to disappear forever.  Here is the major stash of what we found under her bed:

There were some stray scraps of paper and a few little toys, but the majority of the under-the-bed stash was all these books!  I’ve heard it said that you can tell a lot about a woman by what she carries in her purse.  But in this case, I think you can tell a lot about a girl by what’s hiding under her bed.  Books, books, books!  A few school books (Audubon field guide), a few classics (Where the Red Fern Grows), a few selections from some of her favorite series (Warriors, Guardians, and Mandie), and a few devotionals.  Emma is a reader!  She may run out of time to clean her room but she’ll never run out of time to read a book.  Because she reads so much, I know she’ll be a lifelong learner.  And I’m looking forward to the not-so-distant future when she’ll be reading Shakespeare and Dickens and Austen.  I wonder what books we’ll find hiding under her bed a few years from now.

family prayer

I know that one of the most important jobs I have as a parent is to teach and train my children about matters of faith.  This can sometimes seem like a daunting task.  There are so many books we could read, songs we could sing, programs we could attend, and even Bible verses we could memorize.  How is a parent supposed to know what to do?

Fortunately, I believe there is one tool available to us that is easy to do and is ready-made to fit right into our schedule.  It is the family prayer, the simplest kind of prayer that can come before meals.  And I don’t just mean the meals that we eat around our dining table.  I mean the meals that we eat at the sit-down restaurant, at the playland at McDonald’s, in the park, in the car after we’ve gone through the drive-thru, and even on those white tables at Costco.  Our children (yours and mine) should see every meal as an opportunity to give thanks and talk with their Creator.

A great memory from by college days was mealtime with my friends in the school cafeteria.  The food wasn’t too bad, but the memories have more to do with hanging out with my friends.  If you were a student there, you weren’t expected to join the conversation at the table until after you had bowed your head and said a quiet prayer before your meal.  It was just the normal routine at our school.  You sat down, you prayed, and then you started in on the food and fellowship.  I really can’t think of a better way to begin a meal.

Now I know very well that there is no Biblical mandate for praying before every meal.  It’s just a tradition that has developed over the centuries.  But this tradition is worth keeping.  And if it isn’t a tradition in your family or in your daily routine, think about starting it.  If it’s a little intimidating or you’re not quite sure what to say, I’ll share what we say sometimes.  This is the mealtime prayer that I grew up with and the one that we often say with our children.  I consider it to be a part of my faith heritage and a big treasure in my life.  It’s also the prayer that I would whisper under my breath as a college student in the cafeteria.  It’s not too complicated, but it still says a lot about gratitude and our desire to live our lives for God.  We call it the Robinson Family Prayer:  “Father we thank you for this food, for friend and loved ones too.  Help us to be kind and good in all we say and do.  Amen.”

At other times before meals, we’ll pick a family member to pray on behalf of everyone else.  This is how Brent’s family has always done it, at least ever since I’ve been a part of it.  I like how it helps each child become comfortable with praying out loud.  Talking with God should be something that happens daily for us and for our children.

I believe that praying before meals (every meal) can help us as parents train up our children in the faith.  It’s easy to do and we don’t even have to make a plan for it.  The opportunities just come along three times a day without any advanced preparation.  And it’s a great habit to instill into our kids.  There are some traditions that come and go, but I hope that this tradition continues.  It’s a keeper!

birthday breakfast

One of our birthday traditions is breakfast in bed.  It’s so nice to start of your special day being reminded that you are loved.  So this morning for my 39th birthday, I woke up to this yummy tray of good food and a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” from Brent and the kids.  And now we’re off to the bookstore to spend some Christmas and birthday money.  I love after-Christmas sales!

apple cider, steel cut oats with toppings, eggs over easy, apple slices, and fresh carrot juice