Sunday, April 30, 2017

Last Day of April

It's the last day of April.  Last day.
It's been awhile since I blogged, and I'd planned to do the link-up on Wednesday to catch up a little, but that didn't happen.  This past week was our first week of baseball four nights and dance two nights, and it was a doozy.  We have two weeks of dance left, two weeks of school left . . . so I know this isn't a forever thing, but it sure kicked my booty this week.  We were getting back into the groove of things, too, after a week of spring break so that probably didn't work in our favor either.

It's not Wednesday.  It's Sunday.  But here's what we've been up to (besides school and baseball and dance).

Well, lately we eat either a really quick meal (like tacos) before running out the door to the ballpark, or I pack a picnic (like wraps, fresh fruits, veggies and pretzels) to take with us to the ballpark.  Last night was the first real night I'd spent in my kitchen in several days.  I made a zucchini pie, and it was delicious and all things spring and summer are made of!  A couple of weeks ago, I made Ina Garten's Spring Green Risotto.
Trust me.  It's worth the prep work!  My favorite spring supper is anything on the grill, particularly chicken, veggie and pineapple skewers.  Hopefully we'll soon be enjoying more of that.

This time of year always makes me more sentimental than usual.  There's something about dance recitals and graduations and end-of-the-school-year activities that just makes me a puddle.

Last week was awards week and parent observation at dance.  Hannah Kate is about to take the stage for her 6th dance recital.  I teared up watching her last week.  Miss Courtney and Mrs. Katherine did a phenomenal job choreographing the dances this year.  I know I saw this every year, but I think this year is going to be my favorite.  Here are her last five years of dance pictures.

I don't even know what to say about Ellie.  She might dance on the big stage at the recital this year.  And she just might not.  I really thought the whole "if you want to take gymnastics, you have to dance your heart out at the recital" would do the trick this year.  But after parent observation, I'm not so sure.  Let's just say she wasn't exactly dancing like Student of the Month!  The studio awards certificates for one and two years of dance.  They award trophies beginning in year three.  At year five, they award a trophy and a charm and then charms for each year thereafter.  So Hannah Kate now has three trophies and two charms.  Ellie really wanted a trophy this year so I had to explain the whole thing over again.  And you know what she said?  "Well, then I'm going to do dance again next year so I can get a TROPHY and then I'll do gymnastics."  As I type this, she's doing hand stands and back flips across the family room.

We have two weeks of school left and a few finals, and I'll have a 7th grader, 4th grader and kindergartener.  Not to mention my oldest nephew is graduating.  High school.  Yes.  

There's lots of reminiscing these days.

Oh goodness, I haven't thought about this one.  I'm definitely loving that we have only two weeks of school and dance left!  I'm also loving my new vitamins.  It's the small things, you know?!

Church.  School.  Ball.  Dance.  REPEAT.

We also took a quick, last-minute trip to Georgia during spring break.  More about that later.


Well, this is a loaded question.  We have a lot of projects going on around here.  We have three pretty major home improvements projects we're trying to tackle.  I was giddy when the kids and I drove up in the driveway last weekend after our Georgia trip to see my husband working on one of them.  He finished yesterday.  So two major projects and lots of minor ones left!

I decided to go ahead and plant a spring garden.  Ellie and I put the plants in the ground about a month ago.  We were in Georgia for only a few days, and I was shocked when I got back and saw my garden.  It exploded!  But, to be honest, my squash, zucchini and tomato plants are gorgeous, but there are hardly any blooms on them.  So I don't know if my harvest is going to be as plentiful as my plants.  I was later planting the eggplant and okra so those are just now beginning to take off.  I had a couple of strawberry plants that insisted on coming up and are still baring a strawberry here and there so I haven't yet had the heart to pull them up.  I just planted some sunflower seeds and watermelons around them.  And I just put a couple of cucumber plants in the ground on Friday.  I'd like to plant some peppers, but that may or may not happen.
I'm planning our summer vacation.  We're doing something different this year, and I'm super excited about it.  We might try to fit in a weekend at the beach, but we're going to head north this year on a road trip.

I'll share more about this later, too, but my best friend growing up sent me a very special gift a couple of weeks ago.  Several years ago, she did extensive genealogy research for her family.  After my Grandmother passed away last November, she began the processing of researching MY family.  She compiled an organized all of the information she found into a beautiful binder with pages of explanations regarding how to go about genealogy research and how to organize the material.  I can't even adequately describe here what she did.  But my next major project is continuing the Scott family research (Grandmother's family) and then creating binders for my Connell, Cannafax and Hand family lines.  The amount of time that goes into something like this is tremendous so I've not had time lately to work on it like I want to, but that's going to be my major summer project.

Other than that, we're working really hard to finish this school year with excellence.

So, yep, there's a lot going on right now.

I'm excited about lots of things!  But at the top of the list is that Scott family genealogy binder I just mentioned.  I'm also getting excited about summer.  I say "getting" because I really have to convince myself (you know, self-talk) that the oppressive south Louisiana heat and humidity won't last forever and that fall will eventually come.  I'm excited about our summer reading list and our road trip (I know . . . I'm such a nerd!).  I'm excited about all the little projects going on around here.

I wish!  I haven't had time since the first week of April to read a book!  Well, Mason and I are currently reading Watershed Down, but I haven't read anything else besides magazines lately.  The last book I read was Edenbrooke.  It was a quick, sweet little read.  So, needless to say, I have a huge stack of books just waiting to be read once we're done with dance and baseball and school.

And besides baseball games and dance, I'm not watching much of anything these days!

So someone asked me the other day if my kids were always so quiet.  I mean, I CAN'T EVEN!  That's just not a word that comes to mind when I think about Mason, Hannah Kate and Ellie.  From the time they wake until the time they sleep, they are talking.  All three of them.  Non-stop.  All. the. time.  All the time!

Well, now that the weekend is over . . . our original plans fell through so that meant we stayed home and continued working around the house.  Seth finished our first major project.  I transplanted all of my Grandmother's lilies because we had to pull up our crepe myrtle tree.  Yes.  Seth hooked a chain to it and pulled it out with his truck.  Bye Myrtle!  It was an unfortunate situation created by Asian Ambrosia Boring Beetles.  Google that.  I also did some touch-up painting.  We had dinner-on-the-grounds after church this morning so I spent a good deal of time in the kitchen preparing my dishes for that.  So it wasn't necessarily what I'd call a fun weekend, but it was a necessary weekend, and I think we're all pretty excited at what all we accomplished.

Now this is a loaded question!  I can't even look at my May calendar right now.  It's absolutely crazy!  But we have A LOT to look forward to!  

We have a couple of weekend trips planned . . . the girls' dance recitals (that would be plural because, yet again, they are not in the same recital so we'll be doing two recitals) . . . graduations . . . Spring Celebratio (Mason and Hannah Kate have both worked so hard on their Scripture memory passages this semester) . . . more baseball games . . .

I think, for now, we'll just leave it at that!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra Discovery Concert

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to take one of my best girls to the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra Discovery Concert.
I'd been looking forward to this for quite some time, and I was really excited to attend with Hannah Kate.  If it were up to me, I'd have season tickets to the orchestra AND the local Broadway series.  But my guy doesn't quite (yet) have an appreciation for the fine arts so I'd be going by myself.
My plan all along has been to instill a love of the theater and music in Hannah Kate in the hopes that she and I will one day have season tickets together.  Mason and Ellie are more than welcome, too, but I think my best chance is with Hannah Kate.
Before the concert, all of the children were divided into small groups.  Each group had the opportunity to experience three of the instruments "up close and personal."  Hannah Kate is familiar with some of them, but she learned something new.  She didn't know what the bassoon was or what it sounded like.  She got a kick out of this one.  It really is a funny instrument.
And then we got to experience the harp.  My piano teacher plays the harp and actually played at my wedding reception.  It's such a beautiful instrument.
And here's where I learned something.  The percussionist did an outstanding job talking to the children and demonstrating several of her different instruments.  I typically don't think much beyond the drums, timpani and cymbals, but she was so interesting and so much fun.
And then the concert began.  It really was an outstanding event.  The full orchestra was not in attendance, but all of the instruments were represented.  They told the story of "Peter and the Wolf" in song.
Each instrument represented a different character in the story.  Before the story began, each instrumentalist played a little demonstration so the kids could hear exactly what the instruments would sound like.
One of the opera singers was there as the narrator.  So she would read a bit of the story and then the orchestra would play what she just read.
They also had some beautiful artwork to help the kids visualize each scene they were listening to.
The whole thing was absolutely precious, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
After it was over, I asked Hannah Kate what she thought of it and what her favorite instrument was.  Her answer surprised me a bit.  She said she wanted to learn to play the flute!  I can understand why.  The flute had several really beautiful parts.  

So now I have a child who wants to play the violin and another who wants to play the flute.  You have no idea how excited that makes me!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Spring. And things.

Mason said last week that he can't believe how quickly the month of April is flying by.  And I do believe he's on to something there.  Next week we have a little spring break.  And then there are only three weeks left in this school year.  Three.  I'm not quite sure how that happened.  I feel like it's sort of snuck up on me.  So I'm soon to have a 7th grader, 4th grader and kindergartener.  Let that sink in.  Because I'm not sure how that happened either!  But here they are last Sunday before we went to church.
So can we talk about Mason for just a minute?  That kid could care less about what he wears.  He could care less about what his hair looks like.  He could care less about wearing shoes or not.  Does. not. care.  I had to take him shopping last week because he's grown so much over the past year that it's hard to keep him in clothes that fit for any amount of time.  We were specifically looking for church duds.  I already had in my mind what I wanted for him, but I also wanted him to at least think he had some input.  So I let him browse the shorts and shirts to see what kind of reaction I'd get out of him.  The first thing he told me was that he thought he wanted some colored shorts.  I was totally fine with that so I told him to pick out the color.  They had orange, coral and that green pair he's wearing.  So then the discussion turned into, "Well, that's definitely something Avery would wear.  Yeah, Avery would wear that.  Now that looks just like Avery."  I also must say here that my nephew is a rather snazzy dresser.  He has quite a collection of bow ties.  If only I could get my guys into bow ties . . . but one step at a time, right?  Anyway, Mason made several smart choices that day all based on what he thought Avery would do.  Now if only he could hang out with Avery a little more often . . .

Remember last fall when I planted 24 strawberry plants, and I was so excited about them?  Until two days later when I came home and all of them were GONE?!  And my broccoli, cauliflower and kale all GONE.  The deer got every last one of them.  My father-in-law told me there might be enough left that they would come up again.  But I didn't even walk back out there for the next five months.  I wasn't even going to plant a spring garden.  But about a month ago I decided to give it a go.  I went out there to pull the weeds up and get the beds ready for planting.  I found three little strawberry plants that had popped up.  Last week I picked and ate this little guy right here.  It was my one and only strawberry, but it was a beauty.
Grandmother's lilies finally realized it's now spring, too.  They're blooming.  Last week it was almost like Grandmother was smiling at me.  Or, at least, her lilies were. 
Speaking of Grandmother . . . last week my sweet sister-in-law sent me this picture she found of MeMama and Grandmother.  
I can honestly say that, right now, not a day goes by that I don't think about these two ladies and miss them dearly.  I told Kristi that, and she reminded me of Hebrews 12:1.  I mean, I know the verse.  But it just took on such a new meaning that day.  And then, two days later, another friend sent me that exact same verse, only she had no idea what I'd been thinking or feeling or that Kristi had sent it to me.  So when the going gets hard, as it often does, I think of these two ladies, and I think of that verse, and I dig my heels in and keep on going.  Because I'm pretty sure they're cheering me on.

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."  ~Hebrews 12:1

So on Saturday we had to take Seth shopping.  I try so hard to not have to take the kids shopping on Saturdays or any other time that isn't absolutely necessary because, as homeschool kids, they always have to go to the grocery store with me and to any other little errand that needs to be taken care of.  I try to do as much online shopping as I possibly can, and I have drastically reduced the number of errands I used to do.  But still. They are so good to not complain (most of the time), but I know it's just not their favorite.  Anyway, we were back at it on Saturday.  They really didn't want to be, but they were troopers.  And they were also a bit silly.
I don't even know why we were in this store, and we certainly bought nothing here.  But these goofballs were going crazy.
This girl right here has so much personality that's mostly reserved for just us.  But she was in rare form on Saturday.
And then . . . I was sitting down on one of the displays (because I was honestly so tired and ready to go home) while Seth was taking forever browsing through clothes when I looked up and saw this:
It took me a minute to realize they were making faces into the mirrored trophy on the display.
Sometimes I feel like I can't take them anywhere!  But, it'd been a long day.
Today we had a baby in the house!  It's such an honor when a friend needs a little help, and we get to babysit.  The kids LOVE it!  This sweet little guy right here was just a talking to us this morning.  It was the usual "baby talk" . . . bah bah bah bah bah bah bah bah bah bah buh buh buh bah bah bah . . . just over and over and over.  Finally I heard Ellie tell him (so seriously!), "Now you need to learn C and D!"

Spoken like homeschool kid who's spent the last six months studying letters and phonics!  Next thing I know, she's pulled her alphabet flash cards out.
There's just something about Mason.  If Ellie was upset as a baby, he could hold her, and she'd be just fine.  He loves holding babies, and babies seem to love being held by him.
And, I mean, Ellie just couldn't keep her hands off of him!  Poor thing, I'm sure he was on sensory overload today, but he was just the sweetest, calmest, best little guy for us all day long!
Did I mention Ellie was constantly up in his face the whole time?!
One last thing.  This guy, y'all.  Almost a 7th grader.  Almost a 12 year old.  That means I've been a Momma for nearly 12 years now.  This kid made me a Momma all those years ago, and he's stuck by my side ever since.  Of course, it's not like he had a choice, I guess!  I know kids are going to grow up.  I know they aren't going to be little forever.  But sometimes, during the little years, it does seem like FOR EV ER!  You Mommas of little ones know what I'm talking about.  The whole "the days are long but the years are short" thing.  So let me tell you.  The years . . . are short.
And this guy isn't so short anymore.  He's growing up.  And fast!  He's counting the days until he's taller than I am.  But I always remind him that I will ALWAYS be his Momma.  I love wearing heels and wedges, mainly because they add a couple of inches or four.  But when the wedges come off, he's just about there.
Really and truly (even though it seems like a LIFETIME ago sometimes), it wasn't so long ago that I had to stoop way down low to be eye-to-eye with him.  The years are short indeed.