these are a few of my favorite things

Here are a few things I have been recently enjoying...

1) Tea Tree Oil
This stuff is great! Here are some things I have recently used it on: bug bites, acne, odor in shoes, cold sore (went away the next day), and with the recent rains we had lots of ants trying to move in with us. I sprinkled some tea tree under the door and I haven't seen one since. This past winter we used tea tree to shorten the duration and provide relief of colds and coughs. Tea tree is a powerful antiseptic, antifungal, antiviral, disinfectant, and antibiotic. It is to be used properly though, as all essential oils should be. It is toxic if ingested. I read differing opinions on it's safety to use while breastfeeding, so I am still curious about this one- b/c I breastfeed. Haven't had any problems so far. I don't use it around the baby, and we it sparingly.

2) summer nights
After dinner we leave the dishes on the table and all head outside. The sun is beginning it's descent, the birds are busy, the air cool, and there is a mosquito-less window. We play ball, watch the kids, lay on a blanket in the grass, point at passing birds, dogs and airplanes, and digest our dinner. This ritual is something I look forward to and afterwards I don't mind cleaning up the dishes.

3) finally getting into our summer flow
With the slow days upon us, no actual school work (although we learn something new each day), and so much time together~ it took us awhile to get into a flow.,(especially me) . I have learned how to just "be" with my family. That means sitting on the floor playing, giving eye contact and listening attentively to my family members when they talk, that means not obsessing over the house, chores, or "me" time- realizing that these moments can be "me" time too. In other words just living in the moment. To do this I have established Fridays as our "big cleaning day". This is when CJ does his regular chores. Also on Fridays we do the mopping, vacuuming, dusting and change the sheets. Then we enjoy being together. Monday I tidy up from the weekend, and for the rest of the week the days are spent playing, having adventures, swimming, learning (secretly of course), making things and quiet times. Here and there I might throw a load of laundry in or some tidying... but realizing there's always something that needs done, has helped me to let go. No more stress, just enjoyment! (side note: I was listening to Terry Gross on NPR the other day. It was an old interview with the late George Carlin. At the end he shared his "Secret News", one secret was: your house will never be completely clean...I was like, yeah okay, I got it now!) To read the Secret News look here.

4) my recent painting
This is just a peek. It is almost finished (I know I have been saying that forever.) This painting has been fun to do and even more fun to watch it evolve. This is one panel on wood. There is another panel I am finishing up then they will attach. The finished product will be posted soon.

5) balance
Something I am beginning to achieve in my thirties. In my twenties it was all or nothing. I was so quick to define myself- obsessed really.
For me, I realize that living outside the box has so much to do with balance. Being joyful, and healthy, has so much to do with balance.
Defining oneself "to death" is really putting up more walls to live in-
today I feel free. I am me. Flawed and all. Although I fall under labels, I don't feel attached to them.
I choose balance in my diet. That means although I normally eat whole, nutritious foods from the earth- I don't feel guilty when I pop in a frozen pizza and top it off with a cold beer. I choose to not watch television and let my mind takes its own course- but I love LOST and when we can adjust the antennae just right, the occasional Entertainment Tonight(I know it will rot your brain) I choose to live lightly on the earth, but sometimes I leave lights on and blast the AC (till hubby gets home ;) ) well, you get the gest...Balance...this is good.

6) boundaries
Again, something I am just learning. Setting boundaries in your life, and respecting other's boundaries, is an amazing gift to give to your children. This is a gift that keeps on giving. Hopefully it will be passed on to your future generations. Boundaries are the backbone to a healthy, functioning relationship. Learning this the hard way, well, its hard.

7) reggae

I am an avid reggae lover... Turn it on and I can't stop myself from grooving. Even in the coldest days of winter, reggae can heat up a room. I love Bob Marley, The Congos, Lee Scratch Perry and Burning Spear. I recently found a reggae group from Ethiopia called Lasta Sound, check em out. Jah know ya will...



~ summer reds~

It's Raining, It's Pouring

Last night we fell asleep to the sounds of thunder and rain, this morning we awoke to the same.
So what do you do on a rainy Saturday?

well-you make "rain tea"...

you open all the windows in the house and let the wind blow the rain onto your face...

you bake pre-made chocolate chip cookies...
but first, you taste test...

then you eat the baked cookies...

you play Trivial Pursuit...(and according to these pics, you don't fix your hair)

...well, you try and play Trivial Pursuit when the board isn't being sat upon, or your board markers aren't taken captive...

you snuggle...

you get serious about winning...

Results: the winner was CJ

gotta love rainy, summer days.

Summer Nights

Warm, humid sunshine kept us indoors most of the day. We laid around like lazy cats, stretching every now and again or creeping into the kitchen in search for food. There was talk about what we should do today? Should we go to a dollar movie? Walk around the air conditioned mall? Maybe go to the science center?...we chose to stay home. So we flipped through magazines, took naps, ate watermelon and berries, and sipped sun tea.
As the sun began to fall we dipped our toes outside and saw that the temperature was right.
Right for bluegrass at a nearby town's Farmers Market, right for a friend of CJ's to sleepover, right for ice cream on the drive home. Right for catching lightning bugs in a jar, right for running in the yard in the dark and right for playing two square in the driveway.
Summer nights always feel right.

a birthday passed...

What do you do when it's your Father's birthday?
For my dad it was mom's Banana Cream pie with Vanilla Wafers that he would oohh and awe over, while inhaling each creamy bite.
For my dad it meant a bag of whatever his favorite candy happens to be at the moment.
For my dad it meant finding a funny card that I knew he would get a kick out of and having no problem filling it out with all the things I love about him.
For my dad it meant lots of homemade cards from his adoring grandkids and him exclaming "I love this, this is great" or laughing after each opening each one.
For my dad it meant big gestures while opening gifts and at the end of the celebration saying, "this was so nice, I am so thankful for my family"
For my dad it meant his favorite season, summer and baseball.
For my dad it meant the best hugs and kisses and the the kindest smiling eyes.
For my dad it meant, "alright, the Cardinals are playing" which meant, Parties Over!
What do you do when it's your Father's birthday only this time, he isn't here?

Happy Birthday dad! I miss you so much.


Fresh strawberries, blueberries,bananas, Kefir and beets blended into a yummy smoothie
Her new craft table

Sprinkler fun...wet toes and watercolors
Tool time with a box of wood and grandpa's old work bench

Dancing Queen

This girl loves to dance. I have never seen anything like it. It doesn't matter where the music is coming from or even what type of music it is- when she hears it, she starts grooving.
And by grooving I mean, spinning in circles, falling, tapping her feet with her arms behind her back, falling, bopping her body up and down then, yep you guessed it falling.
You think hitting the floor over and over might deter her- but- no, when she hears the beat she has to move her feet.

Vegetarian Recipe #1 : Clayudas

So here is the first meal I made from this month's Vegetarian Times
I plan to try and make several this week.
As soon as I spotted this one, my mouth said, "make me and eat me now".
My mouth, was right.
The chipotle chile in adobo sauce, gave the bean mixture a wonderful smokey, and slightly spicy flavor, that balanced perfectly with the cool and crunchy slaw. Each bite was a perfect ensemble of flavors...
This recipe will definitely be a repeat around here.
Here's what you need and what you do:
1 TBS canola oil
1 small white onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 can black beans, rinsed, drain
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, drained
1/2 tsp brown sugar
4 8inch four tortillas
8 oz. slaw mix
2 TBS lime juice

Preheat oven to 375. Heat oil in saucepan over med-high heat. Add onion, and cook 5 min., or until translucent. Add garlic and cumin and cook 1 min. more. Place onion mixture with beans in blender, chipotle chili, brown sugar and 3 TBS water. Blend till smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake tortillas in oven and spread bean mixture on top baking 5-7 more min. or until edges become golden.
Toss slaw in bowl with cilantro and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper. Top each Clayuda with slaw and cut into triangles.
(We also topped with salsa, sour cream and avocados, so good)

Today went by in a blur. I barely even remember having my coffee today. The day was spent entertaining restless children, vacuuming the house, wiping kitchen counters (I feel like I do this at least 100 times a day), going grocery shopping, eating, watching CJ and his buddy show me tricks on his new bike ramp, watching pollywog dance (she danced all day today...spinning and bowing, too cute), cleaning up pollywog's marker drawings, running around the front yard with the family, giving the little one a bath, assisting CJ with his laundry (new summer chore), reading books, parenting pollywog to bed, playing one song on guitar hero with the boy, to now laying comatose on the floor craving chocolate and blogging...
what will tomorrow bring?
hopefully I will work out and paint, maybe do the laundry that has begun to growl at me when I open the laundry door. These are goals but I don't hold them as expectations. I have been a mom long enough now to know that I will be left frustrated if I do that. It's much better to go with the flow and experience the day with the family.
When I choose the things that are really important over what will always be there, I never end the day with regrets...
reading pollywog's favorite books instead of folding the pile of laundry on the couch (it's my new slip covers) , sitting on the floor coloring with the kids instead of "wiping the counters", listening to CJ's many stories instead of picking up his room while he's talking (sometimes I just can't help myself),   going for a walk with the family instead of immediately cleaning the dishes after dinner.

Summer is official

Get outside and enjoy this beautiful day you have been given. Splash in the puddles if it's raining, smell the flowers, climb the trees or enjoy their arms of shade. Collect rocks with your little ones, wiggle your toes in the pool. Eat watermelon and strawberries, and watch the sun go down on the first, official, day of summer.


Being a teenager is one of the hardest stages we go through in life.
Watching my son, who is just entering this stage- grow, learn, "find himself"- has reminded me how difficult and exciting it can sometimes be.
I try and make it a point to offer daily encouragement, support and to connect with him. This isn't always easy when the person looking across from you communicates via eye rolling and sighs of annoyance. But today we found common ground. A place where we could laugh together, high five each other and connect...all in the form of a video game. Guitar Hero, whodathunk?
I am addicted, mainly to getting to spend time with my boy who is evolving into a man.

This is a place I often go to hear words of encouragement, get ideas, parenting tips and even life tips. Go to show archive and pick the one that you want to listen to. You'll be glad you did.

This is a magazine he gets monthly that talks about issues he deals with. (they have one for girls too)

Here is a great book that we listened to on audio with CJ.

Everyday I realize more and more how precious and fleeting these moments are with our children. In a culture obsessed with growing up quickly then staying young's nice to just let them grow up on a pace that is right for them.
What a great gift our children are.
Thank you God!

The perfect day...

Do you ever have one of those days when everything runs smoothly and falls into place? You know, the kind of day when you often think, "why doesn't every day work like this?"
Well that was the kind of day I had today.
As I do every morning, I woke up to a smiling, laughing, hugging and kissing pollywog. We had a nice breakfast and she even colored while I drank my coffee. This is a rarity as I am often downing it or drinking it cold... CJ even stuck around the house today, which too, is rare. He is usually off with his friends riding bikes, swimming, getting scrapped knees.
I took the kids to the pool and we had such a nice time. I had time to relax today, I got to work out and noticed that my endurance is building. The house stayed fairly clean today. I had energy all day. I ate healthy and didn't snack, much. Everyone was in a good mood all day. I got to have one on one time with both my children. 
Days like this don't come often. So when they do I treasure them and and gear up for the normal days when life is hectic and adventurously unpredictable. The days that allow me to appreciate the ones like today.
I have to say, today was a good day.

kinda busy...

The Green Smoothie Challenge is going good. I am remaining active and eating healthy.
Even between taking CJ to Jr. Lifeguard training and his (many) social activities and playing with my pollywog, I have stayed up on my challenges... which were
1. organize art/school room and paint, paint, paint
2. work-out and get up early
So far so good. The art/school room is a mess. I have slowly been going through my house and continuing my downsizing project. I love it! As I get rid of stuff we don't need or use, and eliminate clutter- I notice my mind feels clear tool. Each room in the house is simple, clutter free and much easier to clean,(yipee) ... with the exception of the art room. Here is an embarrassing picture.

Everything is on the floor as I look for shelving. I need lots of shelf space to store school and art supplies. This is just one corner. I will spare you the rest of the room. It's been difficult to find the shelves I'm looking for so I am going to create my own. I also went to a local shoe store and they gave me a bunch of empty shoe boxes, (who knew- re-use!) I am going to decorate them and they will be my storage bins. I also purchased an Ikea, kids craft table on ebay. Only 24.00- and I sold pollywog's old pack-n-play and highchair for over that amount so I didn't even really spend a penny- I will keep you updated on the progress in this room.
Quick side note- I mentioned selling the highchair b/c pollywog is officially at the big table. It's so cute and she feels so big. She enjoys getting in on the dinner conversation.

I have also been painting ~I am trying to utilize my time wisely and not make excuses. Even when I don't feel like it I make myself and then I start getting into it. My goal is to finish a series by the end of July and show them locally.

I have still not made it to the sunrise cycling class- but- I have been working out and juicing...
speaking of ensure the kids get enough fruit and veggies I made my "Famous Popsicles." (okay, they aren't really famous but they should be)
In a blender I mixed bananas, blueberries, mango and sweet potato- and made a set of pops

Also in my juicer I juiced carrots, apples and beets. I swear by this juice. It is high in iron, builds immunity, gives you lots of energy and taste good...No really they do. They make the prettiest frozen pops too.

I hope all of you are enjoying your summer, your children, your special someones, and your days. Tomorrow I hope to share some tips with you and a recipe of this'll have to wait and see :)
I'd love to hear about your summer days... I heard yesterday that the sacred is found in the mundane...mmmm

Monday's Moments

We decorated the driveway

Daddy took her to the park to feed the ducks, run in the grass, and look at airplanes in the sky

We played in the pool while big brother and his friends did fancy footwork on the slip-n-slide the slip-n-slide and into the mud

I made a fort that mostly I played in...

aaahh, summer!