Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The enjoyment is back!!

I've been in a photography rut lately. I attribute it to the project 365. I didn't even finish it on time, yet I was still sick and tired of my camera once I did finish (5 months late!). I didn't give it much thought, aside from the fact that I've been avoiding my camera at all costs. If an opportunity did come up to take a picture, I would just pull my phone out and snap away. The quality of phone pictures is far less than desirable, but it does work in a pinch. I recently put my pictures in the Dupage County Fair, I enjoyed the experience so much, I've picked my camera up again, for fun! Not for a purpose, but to snap the inspirations I find. I have started a folder for next year's fair, figured that's a little bit of motivation to keep snapping away all year, but I am just so glad my joy is back for photography!

I love revelations!

Acilia has been in private school since preschool. She's been to three different schools over the years, preschool was only two years, and that's all our church offered as far as school goes. Then if you remember, Kindergarten and first grade were spent at a school we loved, until it closed down completely. Now, we are starting year number 3 at a school we LOVE, except for the distance. I know I have mentioned in the past how we travel 20-25 minutes one way to school everyday. That makes for a close to 2 hour commute each school day. I do this because there are not many Lutheran schools in the area and our nearby public school is not an option. As we look forward to starting year number 3 at this school, I've had the revelation this could be the last year we commute to a private school. As you know, our plan is to move next year. My prayerful goal is to move near my parents' house, the school district is phenomenal and the homes are just our style! At one point, I was plagued with "do we keep going to the school Acilia attends now?" or "do we start her at yet another new school?"

I have a list of reasons why either option would be a good option, hence the confusion. It was something weighing on my heart and then Al brought in the perspective that he would feel bad for Miles if he doesn't get to have the same experience Acilia has with a Christ centered education. I had almost gotten myself set up for many more years of driving the kids to school, because that felt like the best option. The revelation came to me last week. I had a glimmer a few weeks ago, I was helping in the nursery at church, a girl both my kids LOVE was in there helping us. She was in 6th grade last year, and she's well known in the school, loved by all the younger kids. She informed me she will be going to public school next year. I am not one for peer pressure or doing what others do, but hearing her tell me she was choosing to go to a public school instead of finishing her last two years and graduating with the kids she has been in class with since Kindergarten, it revealed to me, it's not the end of the world to pull your child out before finishing 8th grade. It was something I needed revealed to me, because my guilt was getting to me. The next part of my revelation came when I was seeing pictures of my Facebook friends' kids and their friends hanging out, enjoying summer. Friends they've met in school. Acilia has made good friends at school, but aside from birthday parties, we don't normally see them outside of school. It's a lot of work to get playdates coordinated when there is a distance factor. We haven't seen Acilia's school friends all summer. Acilia is at an age where she could be making friendships that she will keep well into adult life and I feel it's important to foster those relationships. It dawned on me, it's my duty to get her into middle school close to our home, so she can make friends and they can hang out all the time, like I had and most other kids have. Friendship is so very important and it's up to the parents to facilitate those friendships until the kids are old enough to get around on their own. It dawned on me I feel like I am almost failing her by keeping her at a school that is so far away from home. With this, came the clear direction I had been praying for! Acilia can attend the same school next year for 4th grade, and then for 5th grade, start at the local middle school that goes from 5-8th grade. My prayerful hope is that she will meet some great kids and build friendships with them and build that social circle that is so important for a child. And then of course carry those friendships into high school with her because she will have a lot of the same kids from middle school going into high school together!

I remember fondly, living close to my school friends and when I was old enough, we would walk or ride bikes to each other's houses and spend hours and hours together! My friend's parents were always great, they cared for me like they cared for their own children and my parents were the same with my friends. We had sleepovers and went to parties together, we bonded over life changes. We built true lasting friendships. The kids I was so close with, they are people I still see a few times a year, we always pick up where we left off and we are *still* bonding over life experiences! It's a beautiful thing. I am so glad to have peace in my soul that switching schools *yet again* will actually be a good thing. Acilia was informed of our plans for this to be her last year in private school, she didn't skip a beat when she said "It's OK, I am a pro at new schools!" She is such a doll! I have no doubt she will make new friends and keep in touch with the friends she's already met along the way!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Fair pics

It's a beautiful thing to watch a dog at work!

Miles proud of his "choo choo" painting!

These tortoise's were adorable cuddled up with the llamas!

Me and Acilia, blurry, thanks anyway hubby!

My crazy kids!

Attempt at a picture of myself and hubby, Acilia also has a shaky hand when using my camera!

Miles the "sheep whisperer"

My girl ready to go to the horse show!

Me and my sweet girl!

Attempted family pic! My hat was fighting to cover my face and Miles wasn't about to be bothered by a picture!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Day 4 at the County Fair

Today is Sunday, the last day of the fair. Acilia and I start this day each year by getting up, getting dressed, getting some coffee and heading to the horse show! It's been our tradition for about the last 5 years. It's our girly fun and I love spending that time with her! Each year is a little different. Last year and this year, she has had a strong interest in getting to compete in the show! I would love that, but don't have any idea where to start, and since we don't own a horse, I think that will make it a bit more difficult! Nonetheless, we go to the show, enjoy watching the horses and then visit the horses in their stalls. We also meander around the fairgrounds a bit and when we are hot and tired, we make our way home. Today was no different. We pulled out the cowgirl boots and cowgirl hats and had a great day!! Once we had had enough, we headed home to relax for a few hours and then I made a quick dinner and we all headed back to the fair for the Demolition Derby! Last year was our first year going to the Demo Derby, it was so fun, we decided to do it again! Once the derby was over, we walked around a little bit, Acilia and I went to collect our exhibits and our checks (both of us made a whole $18 each!! Woo hoo! For me, it's not much, but for her, that's quite a few chores to get money like that!!) Acilia was excited about her ribbons and the check! I let her buy a little dog on a leash, it's a cute little toy, but I told her the dog already needs a bath! They sure get dirty fast when out at a fair! ICK ICK ICK!
So we are home now, another year of the fair gone in a flash! I can't believe how quickly time goes, this is the week that at the beginning of summer, it feels like ages away, then it creeps up on you and leaves before you blink! I made a comment on the way out that it feels like summer is over now! (Thankfully we have a few more weeks, but I know it will go fast too!)

Tomorrow I finish my summer class (Basic Nutrition) and the rest of the week I look to check a few more things off our summer list!!

(I think I mentioned, I will say again, I took load's of pics from the last few days at the fair, rest assured I will be uploading them soon!) Here's just a little sneak peak from my phone: this little goat was so sweet, he was whispering sweet nothings in my ear! ;)

SUYL- Pictures AND catch up

I'm a little behind with Kelly's home tour for show us your life, so this one is "Pictures" and I am adding the few I missed below!

First up, Displaying pictures in your home:
These are on the buffet in the dining room

On the mantle, Al and I when we went to Las Vegas
Pics of me with each of my kids on my night stand

Acilia's new photo display wall. The white picture frame holds a black and white photo of Acilia with a horse named Joey, the collage frame circle frame is a close up of a horse eye, top is Acilia and her cousin Ali, right square is another horse, bottom vertical is Acilia on horseback, and the left bottom is Acilia doing splits in her cheerleading uniform

Next, Foyers:

Looking into the foyer from the family room

foyer hallway looking from the dining room

view from the front door

view from the front door

And, mantles:
We had such a hard time figuring out what to do with the fire place! The mantle was free! So that was put up, then I searched for something to frame, we decided these travertine tiles would work. Al then made the hearth with flag stone, he meticulously worked to fit it all together like a puzzle and now it's done!

Close up of the mantle

Finally, Family room:
Oops, haven't done family rooms yet, so I guess you will have to stay tuned ;)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Day 3 at the County Fair

Yesterday was Friday, the day we planned to visit the fair as a family and have some fun on the rides!
I did sneak in for a while by myself during the day, I had it in mind that I wanted to take pictures of the competition for our exhibits. Wanted a mental note of inspiration. I enjoyed walking through the Home Economics building alone, just me and my camera.

At night Al, me and the kids went to the fair. I took the kids through the vendor building, there was a Lego train set up, Miles really enjoyed watching it, they also had their faces painted. We walked toward the rides, Miles and Al got pineapple whips, Al's absolute favorite kind of ice cream cone and Acilia got a snow cone. We strolled toward the rides and got enough tickets to take a family ride on the ferris wheel and do the bumper cars as a family. The kids each chose rides they wanted to use their tickets on and before we knew it, it was time to call it a night! We left about 10 PM, tired out with another night of fun at the fair under our belts!

(I have been taking pictures each day, will do a mass upload next week!)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Birthdays aren't just for people!

I have a birthday in the house today, it's not a person, it's my poodle. Remo, a standard poodle is 12 today. I can hardly believe it! As I type this, he is licking my leg. He does that every time he takes a drink. I think it's so he can get the drips off his chin. Thanks Remo :)

Remo is my baby. I got him before I got married, before I had kids, before I had the life I have now. He's been there with me through it all, and it's been 12 years, I can say that over and over again and still can't believe it's been that long! Remo was 4 months old when I got him. I was living in an apartment at the time, I was so lonely!! I was used to having my family around and when I moved out, I was all by myself. I brought Remo home and he's been my buddy ever since! He's my protector (fierce watch dog if he doesn't know you!!) and an absolute baby when he's with me!

The 12 year old today on his birthday

My poodle loves to cuddle!

"Let me in mommy, I don't like to be away from you!"

Getting a hug from my poodle :)

I gave him a mohawk once!

Remo was keeping me company last year when I had foot surgery!

Day 2 at the County Fair

Well, today we met up with my mom and my nieces and nephew (my mom watches them while my brother and sister in law are at work). Acilia, Miles and I got there first, we went into the sheep tent. We enjoyed watching the border collie herd the sheep for a while. One sheep even worked his way over a fence and ran back to his pen! Then after that, a sheep from a pen, jumped over to the pen next to him! I didn't realize sheep were so crazy!! I love watching dogs at work herding. They are so smooth and calculated and they speak with their eyes. I enjoyed watching what the dog did when a sheep tested the authority. Didn't take much for all the sheep to succumb to the alpha.

We visited the goats, rabbits, ducks, chickens, dairy cows etc again. Acilia stated she didn't want to go through the beef cattle tent. I guess my thoughts as we walked through were apparent and she decided she agreed with my disdain for the circumstances. The kids spent a lot of time feeding the animals at the petting zoo. I am glad I brought lots of quarters for the feed!

Acilia was excited to show her cousins the ribbons she won for her artwork, we spent a lot of time looking at the photography too.

My nephew Joey was eager to get into Sheriff trailer. I took Joey and Miles to explore. It's basically an air conditioned trailer that has photos (some historic, some more recent) of all things Sheriff related! There is also a bench with siren lights above it. The boys were bummed that the lights weren't working, last year they were flashing and they loved it!

We were at the fair for a little over 2 hours and we were hot and tired and ready to leave. We made our way to the cars and day #2 was done!

I half thought about going back tonight, was going to get a babysitter so Al and I could go on our own. I decided against it though, instead I spent some time going through the kids' clothes. A whole different topic, but I do "recycle" their clothes at local resale shops and it's that time for Fall drop offs!!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Day 1 at the County Fair

Today's fair highlights:

Wednesday, fair day number 1. Acilia and I have exhibitor passes, so we entered for free! Kids were $1 admission all day, so only a buck to get Miles in! Let the fun begin!

We arrived and minutes later a pig race began. We sat and watched. After that I was eager to go into the Home Economics building to see our artwork on display. We walked into the building and I noticed there were already prize ribbons on the pieces! My heart skipped a beat! I was excited to locate our artwork to see if it had been judged!

We did pretty well :)
Acilia put in two pencil drawings, both got 3rd place ribbons!
Acilia also had two watercolor paintings, one got 3rd place, one got 4th place! There were quite a few pictures in each category, so I am thrilled that she got any ribbons at all!

I entered 14 pictures, I placed 3 times at 2nd place (different categories) and one time in 3rd place!

2nd place for "color print of 2 or more flowers"

2nd place for "color print of shadows"

3rd place for Acilia's Pencil drawing

The proud artist with two of her pieces and their ribbons!

4th place Watercolor

3rd place watercolor

2nd place for "color print of water"

3rd place for "Black and white print 2 or more people"

After the excitement wore off, we moved on to enjoy more of the fair! The kids and I visited the cows and calves. There was a mock cow to milk, both kids always have fun trying that! There were pedal tractors, Miles tried one lap but still doesn't do so well with the pedaling. There was a petting zoo, Acilia spent a lot of time with the animals while Miles played with trucks in a pile of corn. The kids took a pony ride and a camel ride. After that, we headed for some ice cream and water. It was still super hot even though it was 7:30 pm. After the ice cream, we visited more animals. Spent a lot of time with the goats. They are such a sweet animals, walked through the cows and pigs, I got depressed thinking about the fate of the animals that were being auctioned off. Gets me every year to look at the sweet pigs resting so comfortably, no idea what's coming :( 

Afterwhile, it was time to head out. 1st day at the fair a SUCCESS!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It's here!

The big event our family waits all year for is here! Part of me is so excited, other part of me is in shock that it's already the end of July! The County Fair is what I am talking about! We go every year, not just once, I am talking about living it up at the fair the whole FIVE days it's open!! This year, we got a head start, Acilia and I have entered the Home Economics contests by putting in artwork! I had 14 pictures that I entered into the adult photography division, Acilia had 4 pictures, two pencil drawings and two watercolor paintings. I hope I hope I hope she walks away with atleast one ribbon!! This is our first time entering anything in the fair and because of that, we were able to visit the "pre fair" activity to drop off our exhibits. There was hustle and bustle, animals were arriving, rides being put together, they will be ready tomorrow when it opens for sure!! I can't wait to take part in all the fun again! It's our family tradition! In case you didn't catch the post where I shared the pictures I entered, here's the link! Photo Entries

Monday, July 23, 2012

Crisis status in America

There are a few situations in America that I am willing to tag as "crisis" status. I am not sure what could possibly be causing it, but I am pretty sure I have an idea that $$ and greed and instant gratification are to blame.

Politics. This is in no way a post sharing my beliefs or rooting for "a side" because I have news for you, BOTH sides are not shining too bright at the current moment. Take any topic that everyone has an opinion. Now think about how that topic is discussed. Is it in a respectful manner? Or is it discussed in a way that puts blame on the "disagreeing" party and belittles a perspective that does not agree with your own? Do you expect to change the deep rooted beliefs that disagree with yours by spitting facts and statistics in their face? They could probably find facts and statistics that support their feelings too! I believe in freedom of speech, but I also believe in respecting others and agreeing to disagree. This is not happening in America. Atleast not before my eyes. The "game" of politics is sickening to me. How much money can you raise to run a campaign and how bad can you make your opponent look? Once a person is voted in to office, the opposing "team" cry babies about how America let them down. There is a complete lack of respect for the President each and every term it becomes more apparent and it doesn't matter which side he's on. I saw it with George W. Bush, I see it with Barack Obama. One of those guys I voted in, one of them I did not. BOTH times I made a promise to myself that just because I did or did not vote for said President, the reality is, HE IS THE PRESIDENT. Votes speak. The majority rules and that is why it's so very important to get out and vote. But please don't vote on what you hear, what the candidates feed you through empty promises! Decide what causes are important to you, what your beliefs are, and then look up the voting records of the candidates. See if they vote in a way you can support. They will tell you what you want to hear all day long. These men that run for President are highly intelligent and they have teams that work around the clock to ensure there are no slip ups. They are practically robots in front of us! Look at Sarah Palin. She came out into the public eye, she was confident and well spoken and FIESTY!. UNTIL they got to her. She went from being lively and heartfelt to being guarded. She lost her spark.

Another big crisis I see is the media. I get that people want to hear the news. Why oh why does it have to be a circus? Who can get the story out the fastest, who can cover it in the most depth. These journalists are tripping over themselves just so they have something to say, when they are sharing way more than is necessary! Lord help us when something huge and tragic happens, there is instant and constant coverage. The media makes money off of tragedy and heartbreak. These traumatized victims are on camera when they should be home and embraced by their loved ones! They have shock on their face and the words they speak don't make sense because they just experienced potentially the worst tragedy of their life, and there are cameras in their faces. It's not right.

Where is the line? Where does it stop? Who says what is going to far? Where are the consequences? No one, it keeps getting farther and farther out of hand and America suffers. Emotions lead actions and in my opinion, that's backwards. Americans need to start leading with their heads. The logic, the brain power. Slow down, take a breath for a while before you react. Don't trip over yourselves to get a story out before the competition. Newsflash, it's not a competition. It just makes all the networks look bad, that they had to stoop to such low levels to share the news.

And while I am venting about corruption, how about the rush to get the latest and greatest technology out there!! I recently went into a store for a new phone. The sales rep promptly stated "Don't waste your time, there are new and better phones coming out in a few weeks, we can put you on the waiting list" I laughed and said, the phones you have out now are just fine, thank you. And proceeded to purchase a phone.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Craft with a purpose

I will be the first to admit, I don't "craft" for fun. That doesn't stop me from doing crafts though. I have visions of what I want in products and if I can't find it in the store, I make it work. Here's my latest project :)
I wanted some frames for Acilia's room. I had an idea in mind, couldn't find what I wanted. I visited Hobby Lobby last week and found a collage frame, it wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but I decided with some paint, it could work. It started as a dark brownish color. I picked up some blue and white paint and painted it. Took two coats to make it look "finished" then I distressed it. I haven't distressed anything, so I had a little anxiety over it. I get so bummed if something doesn't turn out the way I want, and the frame was not cheap so there was no room for error. Deep breaths, and the project was completed today! I am thrilled with how it turned out, now I just need to fill the other frames! Sigh of relief!! Project complete!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

SUYL Bathrooms

How weird is it to state "I love my bathrooms!" The one downstairs especially. It has awesome built in shelves that just scream "Character!!"

The upstairs bath didn't need much work, we painted the walls and the cabinet and put the mirrored cabinet in. I believe Al put in extra lights with a heat fan too. 

Doorway shot

This little nook was empty. I had the genius idea of asking Al if a stackable washer/dryer would fit. Lo and behold it did!! No basement laundry for me!!  What a blessing!!

Our downstairs bath was fully renovated like the rest of the house, it started with a full size tub/shower and when I say it was TIGHT, that is an understatement! We didn't use the bathrooms when we started demolition, but I did sit on the toilet once to show my husband how much leg room was left with that tub there, I am not kidding when I say my knees almost touched the tub! I insisted we turn it into a large powder room instead of trying to put a shower in. The shelves lead me to believe this bathroom was originally a walk in pantry. Location of the bathroom is right off the kitchen, so it makes sense that's where the food would be stored "back in the day"

Doorway shot

Corner shot

the built in shelves.