Monday, August 7, 2017

Happiness is...Back to School

It's almost back to school time! Do those words strike fear in your heart or make you do a little happy dance? I'm mostly feeling the latter. Don't get me wrong; I love summer. It's a bit more laid back and the weather is usually awesome, but there's something about the routine of the school year that calls to me.

I work all summer which means my kids are in different camps. It's a fun schedule and they love it, but it means a lot of running around for us. It also gets expensive! I've finally made the last camp payment and that feels good. Work also gets pretty boring for me in the summer. Since I work with college students, things obviously slow down when the students go home. I've got paperwork things I can do, but I miss the interactions that come from having students around.

However you feel about back to school time, it is a milestone, or a marking period in the life of parents and kids. I've got a project for you that you can adapt to reflect your exact thoughts this time of year.
You will need:
  • a yellow pool noodle
  • red (or pink) and silver duct tape
  • a serrated knife
  • scissors
  • sidewalk chalk
  • brown Sharpie
  • a mini chalkboard
  • yellow ribbon
  • hot glue gun
First cut your noodle into three pieces using a serrated knife. They don't have to be exact. I rarely measure anything. Using the red (or pink) duct tape, cover one end of each noodle piece. I made the "eraser" the same width as one piece of duct tape. Underneath the eraser, use the silver duct tape to make the metal piece that holds the eraser. Now flip your "pencil" over and use the knife to "sharpen it." I started about three inches up and angled down towards a point. The noodles are hollow in the middle, so you won't really get a point, but hopefully you know what I mean.

After you have sharpened your pencils, insert a piece of sidewalk chalk in the hole at the sharpened end. This will be the lead of the pencil. Then color the "sharpened" part of the pencil brown to make it look like you've exposed the wood. I tied my pencils together with a yellow ribbon and then added the chalkboard to the front.

Here's where you can personalize it to express your feelings about back to school time. I'm obviously feeling a bit snarky. The kids thought the project was really cool, until they read the message. I wish I could have captured their faces! Just imagine three sets of eyes all rolling together!

I had a nice video for you, but it's not cooperating with me, so I apologize for the lack of visual help here.

 My Blog With Friends have some more options for Happiness Projects for you. Check them out below!

Karen of Blogging in a Tornado has a delicious lemon raspberry ice cream cake.

Lydia of Cluttered Genius recently remodeled their backyard clubhouse.

Minette of Southern Belle Charm thinks happiness is strawberries and cream! Yum!

Alicia of Taylor Life is spreading positivity with some painted rocks.

Dawn of Spatulas on Parade made these Parmesan chips for her new keto lifestyle.

Tamara has been working on a project called #100HappyDays that you should check out.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Trials and Tribulations of Keeping Your Minivan Clean

A few weeks ago, my best friend stopped by my house for something. I honestly can't remember the exact circumstances right now, but for some reason her son saw the interior of my van, and like many children, was just brutally honest with me: "Miss Rabia, your van is a mess. It's not clean like my mom's van."

I laughed out loud because:
  1. He was right about my van being a mess.
  2. Her van is usually just as "clean" as mine.
I mentioned it to her and she laughed too. He was only pointing it out because she had just made them clean out their van in preparation for a family trip. Her van really was clean when I looked into it.
It's nice to have a best friend who is on the same page as you are. Her kids can be brutally honest with me and vice versa and no one gets their feelings hurt. I can give her kids "the look" and they will usually understand the need to adjust their behavior. Julie once actually drove across town to scold my kids for being jerks because I was so stressed out and had very tearfully vented to her about being about to lose my mind. In fact, she showed up with a fast food burger and fries and sent me out to her van to eat and watch her kids, while she went inside and had a "come to Jesus" talk with mine.

Julie has a way of being able to say things to me that no one else can. She can call me out for being petty, or lazy, or otherwise unkind. She has held to her end of the bargain as an accountability partner, even showing up one night to make sure I was doing the housecleaning I had mentioned I was going to be doing. 

We frequently vent to one another as friends tend to do. My favorite response from her? "Do you want me to listen while you vent, or offer suggestions when you're done?" That really resonated with me because there have definitely been times with other people where I got the opposite reaction than the one I needed and left the venting session feeling worse than before.

I got my subject for this month's Secret Subject Swap and jokingly sent it to Julie. I asked her what she would write a book about. "The trials and tribulations of keeping your minivan clean." was her reply. I can't possibly hate that book. It's all truth. And the van is only clean once or twice a season. Or for most mortals, anyway.

Your “Secret Subject” is: Your best friend has written a book and wants you to read it. You hate it. What do you say? It was submitted by:

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 11 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado
Cognitive Script
The Blogging 911
The Lieber Family Blog 
The Bergham Chronicles
Simply Shannon
Southern Belle Charm
Bookworm in the Kitchen
Part-time Working Hockey Mom
Not That Sarah Michelle

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Parable of the Airplane

Imagine a guy wants to build an airplane. He's studied airplanes and worked with quite a few in his lifetime. He sets out to make the designs. He talks to other people: people who have flown in airplanes, people who have designed airplanes, people who just like airplanes. He gets his drawings all finished and sits on them for a bit just to make sure. Then he builds his plane.

He puts in some long hours building. He tries to make sure he's got the right kind of materials and they go together just the way he planned. He's still asking the experts for second opinions. He gets the airplane built and he sits back to look at it from all angles. It looks pretty good. He thinks he's done a great job with this airplane. One last thing to do: test it out.

He tows his airplane out to the beach. He drives it to the end of the pier and nudges it off into the water. It sinks.

I told my kids this story last night and they looked at me like I was crazy. Why would this guy take all his hard work and just set the airplane out into the water?

That's a good question kids, I'm glad you asked!!

I spent a good deal of time creating a plan for our evenings. They have been much too chaotic with far too much yelling and crying. I talked to counselors, teachers, college educators, parents, and friends. I designed a plan that I really think will make our evenings more peaceful. It's a plan meant to work for all of us. It's not meant to be hard, or punitive, or skewed in my benefit. It truly is a plan to give all of us a more peaceful evening. But y'all keep driving the plane into the ocean!!

I figured Jesus speaks to us in parables, maybe one would work for me.

Survey says: MAYBE!

I really did put a lot of work into my new plan. Wanna see it? I'm still open to suggestions.

We get home between 5:15 and 5:45 on weeknights. I walk in to cook dinner and the kids each have two chores to do; one quick and easy, one a little more work. I aim to have dinner on the table by 6 so we can eat. After dinner, they help clear up and are allowed screen time until 7. At 7, all screens are off and everyone gets into pajamas. Then we can have family time: puzzles, books, card games, board games, snuggle time, taking a walk (we can put off pajamas for a walk if they want to), etc. At 8 the kids get into bed and have quiet reading time until their designated bedtime: 9 for Frances, 8:45 for Henry, and 8:30 for Ben.

I just want to note that getting into bed at 8 and having time to read is NOT the issue they have with this schedule. They actually like this part. The part where they get mad is that they have to do chores before dinner or do them after and lose screen time. Or that they goof around at the table and take more than an hour to eat. Seriously, dinner is frequently more than an hour!! I don't want them to scarf down their food and run off, but there's no reason for eating to take as long as it does. Ken and I usually eat our meal, have seconds, and chat within a 30 minute time frame!

We're on our third week of the plan, but the first week with all three kids together (because of camps). I still think it will work. They are still trying to float an airplane. Any thoughts? Be honest! I won't get mad!!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Big Baby Bash Giveaway!

Ready for a fun summer giveaway? I'm done with the baby years myself, but I've got lots of friends who are just getting started. If you, or anyone you know has baby fever, I’m teaming up with some of my favorite baby brands to bring you The Baby Bash Giveaway. One lucky winner will win a $100 Target gift card plus products from Boogie Wipes, Baby Bjorn, Dreft, Kandoo and Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus. Giveaway is open to US and Canada residents and ends at 11:59 pm on Friday, August 4, 2017. Complete the form below to enter. Click here if you are not able to see the form. Good luck!


From Baby Showers to Sprinkles, Sip & See Showers and even Gender Reveal Parties, Boogie Wipes is helping you host and attend every baby party you can think of. Use the links below to learn more about how to host each type of party, a unique way to learn the gender of your baby, the perfect gifts for every event, and the one thing you really need at a Sip & See (besides a baby). Gender Reveal Party Baby Shower Sprinkle Sip & See
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