Being Mama · five things · good life

Five Things

Hello! Happy Friday!

We are super happy because Husband comes home today. He’s had two weeks of travel, and we are so excited to have him back home for a while.

Despite missing him, it’s been a pretty good week. I feel like the kids have grown so much over the summer. They seem like big kids now, figuring more things out on their own, helping out, and learning so much already in school. I am finding a lot of joy in this phase of life.

Here are a few other things on my mind this week:


1. Playing outside. This was the first full week of school. I don’t know if it’s fact that the only homework BB will have this year is 20 minutes of daily reading (praise the Lord!) or that BG is no longer napping regularly and we now have lots more afternoon hours to fill, but we’ve hit the park more this week than any week of this summer. And it’s been amazing. We met up with school friends and made new ones. I sat in the cool shade and talked with other grownups while the kids ran wild for hours. We came home each day with a little sun on our cheeks and a little sweat on our foreheads, and with that good, deep, tired happy you get from being outside. It has been so good for all of us.

(BG – above – as she showed me her sand art on her foot: “Look at my tattoo! It’s a peregrine falcon!”)

2. This vinaigrette. Yes, seriously, I can’t stop thinking about it. I made it a few weeks ago to dress my own version of Chipotle salad, and it turned out really well. But instead of using purchased adobo sauce (the ones at my grocery store all contain gluten), I just pureed the whole can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (LOVE that spicy, smoky flavor), added one tablespoon of puree to the dressing, and spooned the rest into ice cube trays to freeze. Now I have a little bag of chipotle pepper cubes in the freezer, ready to thaw to whip up more dressing any time. (Note: I will probably add a little less honey next time. It was pretty sweet. As in, BB said, “I want to drink this dressing.” And that’s WITH “spicy” peppers in it.)

Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fueled by procrastination.

3. This quote. As a stay-at-home parent, I feel like 50% of my job is Materials Management. Finding things, dropping off things, sorting things, folding things, buying things, putting things away, calling about things, following up on things, emailing about things. It seems I’m always talking about getting rid of things. And it’s not that we’re hoarders or messy or even cluttered at all, really, but there are seasons of life where “stuff” just gets to me. The start of a new school year is one of those times. I need clear surfaces. I need everything in its place. I need a tightly-run ship. This week, when I saw something where it shouldn’t be, I kept thinking of “unmade decisions fueled by procrastination”. (And the Getting Things Done two-minute rule – if it’s something that can be completed in two minutes, DO IT.) It’s been a “Tiny Tweak” that has helped my sanity.

4. On a related note, I enjoyed this piece, too.

5. This made me laugh so hard I cried.

What are you up to this weekend? Husband gave the kids some day-trip ideas for our three-day weekend – Tahoe, the beach, splashing around in some swimming holes. None of these were met with NEARLY the enthusiasm as “panning for gold” so apparently we are headed for the hills to seek our fortune. Wish us luck! Hope you have a wonderful Labor Day. Thanks for reading!


Being Mama · five things · good life · Kids

Five Things

Hello! Happy Friday!


It’s been a hard week around here. We said goodbye to our sweet cat, Molly, last weekend, and we’re all still feeling the sadness. I realize I’ve never told our Molly stories here on the blog, so I’m working on a post to share the good, the bad, and ugly. (Spoiler alert: The bad and the ugly weren’t the cat, bless her heart.) Look for that next week.

In the meantime, here are a few things on my mind this week.

rain fish

1.Children need to be bored in the summer. I fully believe this – it was how I grew up – but every summer, especially that first week when we’re all tripping around, trying to find our rhythm (read: being grumpy), I question if I should have signed them up for more camps. But once again, BB and BG have shown me that they thrive on loose structure and lots of unscheduled time. Our new “routine” consists of them waking up, eating breakfast, and then wandering off to play, making up wacky games, devising fantastic creations (like “Rain Fish” in above photo), dressing in elaborate costumes and acting out crazy scenarios, the latest being something called “Junk Collector” in which every single item in BB’s closet is placed in the middle of the floor and BG comes to shop. I think it might actually involve real money changing hands, but I’m trying to stay out of it. They are both engaged in hours of play and are rarely ready to stop when it’s time to run an errand or head off to swim lessons. It’s been pretty amazing, and their friendship has bloomed. (Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s FAR from the land of milk and honey – there’s some bickering and tattling and crying and all the things that come with having siblings – but mostly it’s been good. So good. For all of us.) Please remind me of this next year during that first week of summer when I feel like we’re all about to lose our minds. (Also, on a related note, read How We Summer (this week…)

2. How to parallel park. I have always prided myself on being REALLY good at parallel parking, but this has been a game changer. I have impressed Husband on more than one occasion with my new speed and precision.

3. This is mesmerizing.

constant kindness

4. This quote.

5. This cracked me up.

What are you up to this weekend? At this moment, we have zero plans, which sounds completely awesome. I just finished this book and want to find another one right away – any suggestions? Have a good weekend!

Being Mama · Kids

Building Big Birthday

In March, BB turned 7! Two weekends ago, we had his “pretend birthday”, as BG called it. I thought it would be fun to share some of the fun with you.

It took some time to hone in on a “theme”, but based on his love of building and inventing and “architecturing” and creating, we decided on “Building Big”. The main idea was to provide lots and lots of cardboard to build things. (I joked with friends that we were having a birthday party that involved his favorite thing: making stuff out of garbage. If you have a 6-7-8 year old, maybe you know exactly what I’m talking about.)

cardboard city

We started with invitations. We were both inspired by this photo we found on Pinterest.


So BB drew his own version that we used for the evites.

We planned a few activities and set about collecting supplies. I put a call out on Facebook for cardboard boxes, and friends came through, dropping them off on my porch periodically. And fortunately, Husband’s office was getting updated paint and carpet the week before, so we had plenty of boxes leftover from the temporary move.

colorful straws


binder clips

craft sticks

pom poms

I picked up most of the rest of the supplies from the dollar store.

The night before the party, I panicked and thought we might need one more project, so I pulled out an idea from my old teaching days – building a geodesic dome. Big problem – we didn’t have any newspapers. After discovering “packing paper” on Amazon, I called a local storage/U-haul rental place and learned that they sell it in 10 lb. boxes. I sent my father-in-law (in town visiting and helping Husband build a fence in the back yard) out for two packs the morning of the party. Of course, it turned out we didn’t have enough time for dome building, so we are now the proud owners of 20 FULL pounds of packing paper. (They wouldn’t take it back.) So we will have paper for a variety of art and building projects for years to come.

Here are the projects that DID happen:

Blueprints: We set up a huge piece of wood on top of two saw horses to create a “work table” in the den. When guests arrived, they got to work on “blueprints” for projects they might want to design. This lasted about 3 minutes before everyone moved on to BIGGER and BETTER.

Building Big Party: building with marshmallows

Marshmallow Towers: Toothpicks and marshmallows. They built cool structures for a while, but then mostly they just wanted to eat them. Of course. Because, MARSHMALLOWS!

Building Big Party: Making Robots

Robots: We had 6 inch pieces of 1 x 2 wood for each child (thanks to father-in-law who, after buying ridiculous amounts of packing paper, cut these boards just moments before the party began – you’re a champ, Pops!). Using a table of random supplies, the kids could built their own robots. Or helicopters. Or whatever they imagined.

Building Big Party: Pretty Supplies

I loved how pretty and colorful it all looked.

Building Big Party: Making Robots

The kids were hard at work.

Building Big Party: Cardboard Construction

Meanwhile, out back on the porch (it rained, so we had to find cover!), some of the kids got to work on their cardboard creations, using duct tape, painters tape, and any other supplies they could find. Some built cars, some build hideouts.

Building Big Party: Cardboard Construction

Here, my father-in-law is helping build a horse!

We took a break for pizza, but before I could light the candles on the birthday cake, the kids ran back outside to work on their projects. I loved seeing how engaged and creative they all were.

Building Big Party: Treat Bags

And I loved the treat bags, too. (Inspiration found here.) We collected lots of random supplies at Target and the dollar store.

Building Big Party: Treat Bags

I made a list of all the supplies and tasked BB and BG with dividing up.

Building Big Party: Treat Bags

It looked like random bits of junk, but it turned into a “Creative Building Kit” to continue the fun once the kids got home. (BB realized it contained all the supplies to make a napkin parachute, among other things.)

Building Big Party: Treat Bags

I used an architecture font to create labels for the treat bags.

Building Big Party: Treat Bags

Here’s everything ours contained.

All in all, it was a pretty great party. I left the jars of supplies out all week, and BB and BG continued to make all sorts of things with the leftovers. There’s something really cool about piles of pretty supplies that make ME want to create, and they inspire the kids as well.

However, we have yet to use any of the packing paper. So if you’re moving sometime soon or are just in the mood to build, oh, I don’t know…a geodesic dome out of rolled paper tubes, I’m your gal!

Chocolate Cake Strawberry Frosting

P.S. We DID finally serve cake. Husband baked it – chocolate cake with strawberry frosting, made from fresh strawberries. Oh my gosh, it was delicious. Confession: the leftovers didn’t even make it 24 hours. Yum!