8/1/17

My Thoughts on Casino Gambling (And Other Quick Ways to Earn Money!)



The air was hot and humid that late July night. Loud carnival music drown by the roar of a small-town tractor pull, as dust lifted from the ground, mixing with exhaust to fill the night sky. I was at the county fair with a few friends, tempted to try singing Karoke, though thankfully I thought better of it, and instead got my first taste of fried Oreos... and gambling.

Lest you panic for a minute and think I am about to divulge juicy information about my secret life, let's get one thing straight, I don't gamble.

Though perhaps I could be considered one.

I was born frugal. By the time I was 11 years old and had $1,000 in my bank account, I thought I was probably set out to be a millionaire in the next year or two, given interest rates on my little savings account stayed roughly the same. 

Born frugal? Yes. Born a mathematician? No.

I am still working my way toward that millionaire goal.

That night at the county fair as I walked the outskirts of the gambling tent, someone pressed a quarter into my sticky palm, and whispered, Have a good time!

I had a good time alright, but it wasn't quite what the twenty-something managing the casino games intended.

I pushed that quarter deep down into my pocket and continued on my way. Fifteen minutes later, I walked by the tent again. This time instead of staying near the edge, I boldly walked straight though. That twenty-sometime came up to me, pressed another quarter into my hand and gave a little wink. 

Perhaps he was hitting on me, but at least I was making money off of it! He leaned in a little closer this time, and through the noise of coins clanging and machines blaring, told me that I could get my cash exchanged for quarters. Tonight they were giving $6 in quarters for every five dollar bill!

It was adrenaline and thrill, that rush I got as I handed him my only twenty, wishing I had brought more cash along. I made $4.50 that night, almost covering the cost of my entrance fee. 

As I walked away from the tent, my bag was obviously heavier and jingled with every step. How could it not with 98 quarters floating around in there?

That story was years ago, but honestly not a lot has changed... I am still frugal to a fault, most likely embarrassing my husband on occasion, though I think he also really appreciates that about me.

I don't recommend gambling, I haven't heard a lot of good about it. I do, however, have something I would recommend if you're trying to make a bit of money.

Have you ever heard of Poshmark?

I've known about it for a while but recently made my first purchase. It's an online platform to buy, sell and trade clothes. It's different from ThredUP in that you have complete control over how much you charge for each item, but as a result of that, you are also the one shipping each and every item out. Poshmark makes that simple with a prepaid shipping label that you print out, attach to the package, and drop off in your mailbox.  

The way it works, the buyer pays via PayPal or credit card, but Poshmark doesn't release that money to the seller until after the buyer has received the purchase and verifies that it arrived in the condition it was listed as. I've already used Instagram to sell clothes I no longer wanted, but Poshmark seems like a better alternative, especially since it also reaches a vast amount of potential buyers. 

Yesterday I listed a few things I've been intending to consign. The process was easy, and within a few hours I sold three items, with lots of interest in the rest. 

Perhaps you're wondering how I intend to make money with this?

I love to thrift shop. But I tend to be careful and thoughtful with what I purchase for myself, often leaving behind beautiful pieces that don't quite fit my lifestyle or body. Just last week I left behind a pair of beautiful leather Lucky Brand booties -- the exact pair I've been searching for for almost a year, but in the wrong size. I later checked them out on Poshmark, and that very pair is selling for anywhere between $40-$90. I could have made a killing. I also left behind new Men's Birkenstock sandals that my husband said he would never wear. Those were $5 at the yardsale, but $75 on Poshmark. And that new with tags J. Crew summer dress I saw yesterday... I probably could have made $25 on it. 

I don't really intend to turn this into a business, but would absolutely love if it would begin to fund all my Goodwill trips entirely. :)

So, if you're looking to save when buying something, or would like to make some money through selling things, I would recommend trying Poshmark! 

If you are new to the app (it's very mobile friendly), use the referral code JAKSE to get $5 off your first purchase from my closet (you can view that here) or from any other seller you purchase something from. 

If you have any questions about it, feel free to ask.

And in the mean time, remember: Gambling isn't recommended, but Poshmark certainly is!

7/14/17

Five Things for Your Weekend









I blinked, and without warning Monday morning turned into Friday night. Can someone please explain to me how a week during the summer can be like a single day in the middle of winter?

Life right now is moving, full and fast, and though the weather is such that if I would sit for a bit, I could probably watch the grass grow, I haven't had much time for sitting still -- we're in the midst of what I would argue is the best season of life, however I haven't had much experience with seasons of life as a mom yet, so please take whatever I'm about to say with a grain of salt. 

Carson and Brooklyn both went through a phase this summer where they started skipping naps, Carson opting for no nap at all, and Brooklyn going down to just one instead of her usual two. I mourned that loss for about five days, then realized it is actually a wonderful thing! Being away from home in the middle of the day isn't cause for a meltdown anymore. We've been taking full advantage of this new-found freedom, spending many an afternoon at the lake or pool, heading out on adventures or meeting friends at the park, just because we can. Summer in this area of the country goes by quickly, and this year we are making the most of it. 

I haven't had time to sit or write, because at the end of the day I feel spent, in the best possible way, falling asleep minutes after my head hits the pillow.

Today I'm checking in though, with a couple of things I'm eager to tell you about. You know, because that's what friends do.

Along with summer comes gardening and canning. Four years in and I still feel like a newbie at this... but I have jars upon sparkling jars of dill pickles and peaches setting on my basement shelves, and a small list of other things I would like to freeze or can. On my list for next week - blueberries and more pickles. I've made a compromise with myself -- I will can things, but only if I am willing to do it in the easiest, most quick way possible. Enter Mrs. Wages Dill Pickle mix. One packet of seasoning will make seven quarts of pickles. It's so easy, and the pickles passed the approval of my taste tester, so that was a win in my book!

If you follow me on Instagram, perhaps you saw my story this week of a beautiful cookbook that showed up at my door. The Amazon package said there was a gift inside, but there was no note or packing list -- I had no idea where it came from. The mystery was eventually solved, it was a thoughtful gift from my dear friend Kaylie. 
Tonight Herm watched the kids so I could have an evening out. I did some much needed shopping for fun things like stain remover and toilet paper and diapers, then I sat by the lake with a bagel and coffee, and I read that cookbook cover to cover. (Who am I, reading a cookbook?!) Kaylie nailed it with this one, The Forest Feast is 100% my style: simple, easy, and healthy. It's going to be a favorite, right along with my ever faithful Against All Grain.

Brooklyn has been wearing this shirt non-stop since the day it arrived in the mail. I ordered it from a shop I found via Instagram called Sew Sweet Clothing. Suz, the owner and seamstress, generously sent me a couple other pieces as well, a blue peplum top and a striped dress. I can't say enough about these. Her work is excellent and the knit fabric is quality. 
We've got some exciting travel plans this summer, and you can bet, these pieces will be packed in our luggage, for sure!

I've been really enjoying the blog Un-fancy lately. She's got me rethinking a few ways I approach my wardrobe. I'm trying to have more fun with it. My husband will agree with this statement -- I over think things way too much. I'm trying hard to loosen up a bit, to throw aside rules I've made for myself and to just relax... This week I thrifted a pair of new PONS Avarcas, which is helping me out with that. They're different and fun and comfortable. And since I discovered that they have them in childrens sizes too, I can't decided between these or Saltwater sandals for Brooklyn.

One more thing: Esther Weaver is amazing. She sketched Brooklyn.

Then end.

7/6/17

Just a Stay-at-Home Mom




Are you still able to stay home with your kids?

I remember the first time she asked me that question. I was a brand new mom, a brand new wife, in fact.

In a whirlwind of two years, seemingly everything in my life had changed. The week I moved back to the States after living abroad for a year, I met Herm. Thirteen months later, at the edge of a vineyard, with friends and family gathered, we exchanged wedding vows. Fifteen months after marriage, Carson was born.

In that span of twenty-eight months I had changed climates and cultures and churches. I found a new job - later leaving that to stay home and raise Carson, moved into a new house that didn't yet feel like home, and had to be intentional about making sure to sign my new name. Weaver, though double in length, came so much more naturally than my husbands surname. I was now a wife, a mother, an Esh.

In many ways that season was the best of times. But it was hard. Looking back I see so much good that came out of it, though I am certainly glad to move on.

Yes, I'm still a stay-at-home mom, I replied.

How blessed you are to be able to do that! I wish we could make that work for our family.

The first time she asked me that question I felt myself shrivel inside. I was just a stay-at-home mom. I felt lost in the role, without value after so long basing my worth off of obvious accomplishments. I no longer contributed financially to our family, or managed a team, or attended conferences and workplace meetings.

I had traded all of that for late night nursing sessions and endless dirty diapers and days that seemed to last forever, though time was never my own. Though still constantly needed, I no longer received compliments or praise, something that beforehand I didn't realize I so desperately thrived on.

Somehow, in the midst of laundry and cooking and nap times and storybooks, somehow, after adding another child, and realizing that I truly did have free time as a mom of one, now that I certainly didn't as a mom of two, I felt settled and okay, even welcoming this stay-at-home mom gig for a career.

In the three year time span between her questions, so much is still the same - days can feel overwhelming and never ending, diapers are being changed, late nights still occasionally interrupted. I often find myself wishing for peace and quiet and time alone... which, when that does happen, feels awkward and distant, like meeting a friend from my childhood, someone I use to know, but now, not really.

In that three year time span, it's my heart that most has changed. 

It happened slow and gradual. In the rush of life I didn't notice. But it happened.

Her response, hearing the longing in her voice, made me realize all over again that being able to be a stay-at-home mom, if that is what you choose, is truly a privilege. I often still long for more, wanting to earn a paycheck and hear affirmation in a job well done. It's in my being, that longing to create and be known. And for that, there is still time.

I've heard it said, cliche but true: The days are long but the years are short. I don't always act like it, but truly, I am grateful to be here, at home, with my kids. And I'm grateful for a husband who works doubly hard to make that possible, supporting me 110%, never undervaluing my unpaid work. (While still joking about the amount of books I read, because what else would I do at home all day? )

The days are long, and already I've realized that the years are short. I won't be a stay-at-home mom forever, so while I am, I'm going to fully enjoy it.

***

How are you enjoying mothering by now? a friend asked me over coffee, our kids loud voices the background music to our conversation.

I stopped to think for a moment. Sort of chuckling to myself, delighted in my honest response.

Some days it's chaotic routine, where I feel overwhelmingly underwhelmed. Some days it's tears of laughter to mask those of desperation. Some days I want to throw in the towel, but gosh, more laundry! It's all of that, yes, and so much more.

How do I feel about mothering? Honestly... It's never been better!


6/17/17

Happy Father's Day to Our Favorite







Dear Herm,

I'm sure there should be a more eloquent way to start a letter like this, but I know you like things simple and straightforward.

There are many other good men out there, but never in a million years could I have imagined that the man who would father my children would be as good of a man as you.

Why you waited so long to get married; why you noticed me -young, only 19- and took a chance at a relationship, some days still baffles me. Yet I am sure grateful you did!

I recently heard a bit of advice given to someone still single: When looking for a marriage partner, choose someone who you would be thrilled to have your kids grow up to be like.

I can say, without a doubt, I would be proud of Carson and Brooklyn following in your footsteps.

There are so many things I love about the way you Father...

For instance:


  • I love how much attention you pay to what your kids are saying. When you walk into the room their eyes light up because they feel known and heard.
  • I love how you read, endlessly, to Brooklyn. Book after book after boring board book.
  • I love how you are teaching Carson to cherish the future Love of his Life by showing him through example what cherishing means. He's been bringing me field-picked flowers and I love you post-it notes, something he has learned by watching you. 
  • And... how you are cherishing Brooklyn as well, showing her what true love looks like. When working with money, bankers study the real stuff so that they can easily spot a fake. In the same way, because Brooklyn already knows that true love looks like it'll be a whole lot easier to sense someone who is looking out for their own interests and doesn't genuinely care for her. 
  • You are exceedingly generous. The kids and I, daily, feel that. 
  • I love your jokes, even if at times they aren't very laughable. Your sense of humor is something that was passed on to both of our kids. 
  • I love that you are consistent and steady, an extremely hard worker and integrous business owner, yet you always, always make time for us. 
  • And the daily rituals you have, of taking the kids on 4-wheeler rides, of waving to the little faces pressed flat against the window pane before you leave for work, of bedtime snacks and I love you kisses, they melt my heart.
  • You prioritize vacationing, often booking the next one almost as soon as we returned home from the last. My tendency is toward skimping to save money, but you are teaching me that investing time and money into making memories together as a family is always worth it. Always. Years from now, when the kids are grown and on their own, I am believing that we will reap the benefits of this because our kids will have a rich history of time spent intentionally working to deepen relationships and have fun together. They will always be siblings, yes. But because of this, I think they will always be close friends too. 
You, Herm, are a good, good Father. You're modeling to the kids the love our Heavenly Father has toward us, always looking out for our best interests, even when, at times it may not feel like it. 

You balance out my mothering in the best way possible, and remind me of the long-term perspective, which in the day-to-day moments I can so easily miss. You are the yin to my yang, and I am forever grateful to have a man like you be the Super Hero our kids look up to most.

Thank you for being YOU.

Happy Father's Day, Love!

6/6/17

Currently






Reading:

The Magic of Motherhood by Ashlee Gadd.

Written by the contributors of the popular blog, Coffee + Crumbs, this book is a beautiful collection of essays on Motherhood that will have you laughing one minute, then crying the next.

Reading through it, story by story, I felt myself feeling lighter and freer, as I realized I'm not the only one who has [far too many] days she wishes she could redo, who day-dreams of what life might look like if her world wouldn't revolve around toddlers, who can't wait for nap time and the peace and quiet it brings only to find that when they're sleeping she misses the noise.

It was as if I was having coffee with a friend, and during the conversation kept whispering, Really? You too? No longer feeling isolated or alone with the many emotions raising Littles can bring.

I've been a long time reader of the blog, and ever since I found out about the book, I've been eagerly awaiting its release.

It did not disappoint. This is a book I know I'll skim through again, and one that I think I will gift to every new mother I know.

I'm planning to pass my copy on to a few friend to borrow who I think will enjoy it as much as I did.


Loving:

My new mop.
Over the winter we replaced the flooring in our house from carpet to laminate. Before the only sections of floor I needed to wash were the kitchen, entryway and bathroom. It wasn't a big deal to get down on my hands and knees and scrub them until they shined. But going over my entire house weekly on my hands and knees... I did that all of two times and decided it was not worth it.  Ideally I would have loved to purchase a Norwex mop. I use to clean for someone who had one, and the quality of theirs was superb, but the price! I couldn't quite justify that.
Enter e-cloth; it's very similar to Norwex, though without the silver woven through it, which is what makes Norwex stand apart. The price point was more within my range, so I purchased it. And I love it. I think the only thing that would make it more lovely is if it were self-powered instead of Sarah-powered. (Is it ironic that I clean homes for other people but at times wish I could have someone come in and clean my home so I wouldn't have to?)

Carol's Daughter Hair Milk
Over Memorial Day weekend we went to Lancaster, PA, to visit family. My week was fairly busy, and even though I thought I was on top of packing everything, I wasn't. I completely forgot all my hair products save a comb. I figured I could manage without them, I would simply wear my hair in a ponytail all weekend. Herm didn't agree. So off we went to WalMart in search of something to manage my mess of tress. I typically use Deva products for my curls, but since WalMart doesn't carry that, I picked Carol's Daughters Hair Milk out of the very limit selection of curl friendly creams and gels, and hoped for the best. So far I really like it. It detangles my hair, which means I don't feel the need to run a comb through it after washing, and seems to give my hair softer, shinier curls. I do use a gel along with the cream for better hold.
It's been almost a year since I decided to fully embrace the fullness of my curly and often frizzy hair. It was a bit of a learning curve but I think was completely worth it. Seeing products, like Carol's Daughter, become more mainstream is exciting to me.  I plan to try more of this line after I finish off my current supply of Deva things.

•Kate's Instagram Challenge
My sister is currently in the midst of a 100 Days of Illustrated Journal challenge. Her feed is looking fabulous, and every day I check it multiple times to see if she's posted. You might enjoy following along too...


Dreaming:

Do you remember this post where all I could seem to talk about what that living room makeover I was dreaming up in my head? Guess what?! Instead of just being in my head, it's currently in progress! You might remember that I mentioned wanting a large area rug (check), a leather couch (check), and white walls (to be checked).

Can I tell you a little story about dreaming and persistence followed by prayer?

I love quality things, and often that comes with a high price tag. In addition to that, I am not a spender. Wants quality but hates to spend; that doesn't always works so well. In this case, however, it did.

After spending hours and hours on Craiglist and Facebook Market place, I thought I had finally found a couch. It was leather, and from Article, the company whose couches I was most drawn to. I messaged the Facebook seller, and after conversing for a bit, made an offer. Instead of counter offering, he came back with a few names, calling me cold and heartless. That couch was a sentimental piece he wasn't ready to part with, and I wasn't willing to pay the asking price. No deal.

I was feeling discouraged about the search and prayed. Prayer is always worth a shot, no?

Several days after I prayed, the kids and I went yard sale-ing. Herm dropped us off in a town that was having it's bi-annual community sale, while he went to meet with clients for two hours. One of the very first sales that I went to had a huge area rug. It was rolled up tight, so I couldn't see the entire rug, but I could tell it was very well made. I began asking a few questions about it --it was wool, and in great condition, the owners were ready for a change-- and asked for a price. Hesitantly, a lady working the sale suggested $60, acting as if that was perhaps a bit much. (I later found out from her husband it cost well over $2,000 new... they hadn't communicated well what the selling price would be) I knew I wanted it but couldn't take it at that moment because I was without a vehicle. I told them not to worry about holding it, but if it was still there when I came back I would buy it. Two hours later it was still there, being admired by a growing line of potential buyers... but as soon as I walked up the owner said, "Here she is, I've been holding it for her". As we loaded it into the truck he mentioned that I got a really good deal, I already knew that, it could have been sold for more than triple what I paid. 

A few weeks later I notice the same couch on Craiglist but for almost $500 less that what Mr. Sentimental was selling his couch for. I sent another email, fully expecting it to be an awkward haven't-we-talked-before moment... but it wasn't, and this seller was a bit more professional. 

My brother-in-law drove over an hour, one way, to pick it up for me, since I found it on the Philadelphia Craigslist. (I married into a pretty cool group of people.) And a few weeks later, over Memorial Day weekend, we were able to pick it up and finally bring it home.

The living room now needs a coat or two of white paint (and a fiddle leaf fig tree), to feel almost complete. This winter Herm might build a TV cabinet/bookshelf too... but until then, it, slowly but surely, is feeling more and more like I imagined it would.


Wishing:

I would feel a bit more motivated with my 25 Before 26 list this year. I've got a lot of catch up work to do if I am planning to come even close to accomplishing it. I managed to learn a headstand, but haven't blogged about that. That's about the only thing I've managed in quite a while from that silly list.

Thinking About:

Signing up for a subscription to PrepDish, an online meal planning service, or learning to batch cook.

When we went to Quebec this past winter we took most of our own food. I spent several hours preparing all of the meals we were planning to eat in while we were on vacation. Once we were there the work to finish the meals was so simple. We ate healthy and it felt good to still be able to truly vacation, and not spend hours cooking.

It seems like more often that not I don't have a plan, and that makes cooking no fun. (Not that I exactly love it to begin with.) I have been writing down meals I make each day to come up with a list of ideas to go to when I really don't feel inspired. But the idea of batch prep, that does sound appealing to me. I don't know that I would do it a week at a time though, perhaps every four to five days, to keep the food more fresh tasting.

If this is something you already do, do you have any tips you'd be willing to share?

Listening To:


How I Built This by NPR. Ever since I discovered this podcast I've been binge listening to it. Guy Raz interviews well know business men and women about how their companies were started and became successful. I find it very interesting and inspiring.

The other day I listened to the show about Chesapeake Bay Candles. I bet you can't guess what brand of candle I snatched up today while shopping at TJ Maxx. Yeah, you got me. The founder, Mei Xu, basically feels like an old friend now that I heard her story, and of course I want to support old friends through my purchases (at TJ Maxx).

6/1/17

A Trip to Oak Hill + the World's Best Granola

This post is was made possible thanks to the generosity of Oak Hill Bulk Foods, who supplied me with ingredients needed for the recipe below, as well as photos of our shopping experience.





It didn't take much, just a set of baby teeth and a small girl, one bound and determined to figure out the logistics of reversing what her mom had said was a final no.

When there is a will, there is a way.

My will was to have a bag of Gummi bears, and my way was to chomp a hole right through the packaging. Once the damage was done, I knew my mom would have to buy the bag she had said I couldn't get.

I can still remember the plastic-y taste of the polypropylene that stuck to my teeth but, unfortunately, the Gummi bears, though she was forced to buy them, never made it to my lips. I'm almost certain my siblings benefited from my ingenuous plan much better than I.

This is one of my very first memories of shopping at Oak Hill.

Years later, I am the mom wandering the aisles with her kids. (Silently praying they don't get any silly notions in their heads about ways to take Gummi bears home.)




We shop at Oak Hill almost weekly, often stopping by Oak Leaf Cafe & Bakery first, for a cookie with sprinkles (Carson's favorite), before picking up our groceries. 

Every Saturday morning throughout the winter, when Herm's business isn't as demanding, we go there as a family for breakfast too. Herm always get a raspberry filled donut and I always ask for just one bite. They only make and sell donuts on Saturday, and if you get there early, the donuts are still hot and so fresh tasting.You're going to want more than one bite, so please get your own. Don't be like me and try to share.

During the summer the kids and I regularly meet friends at Skipper's playground, which is right next to the store. While I get to catch up with friends and enjoy a good latte from the cafe (currently loving lavender flavored over ice) the kids run themselves weary playing with their friends. Nap time on those days can last for hours. And if you're a mom, you know the worth of a long nap time. Glory, hallelujah!





There are staples that I pick up at Oak Hill, and only Oak Hill, one being oatmeal. We eat a lot of oatmeal, I use it weekly when I make granola and protein bites, and on occasion for cookies too. (It's a very rare occasion I bake cookies, but none the less...) Oak Hill has the best price I have found, even beating Aldi, whom I've heard is impossible to beat. 



If you stop by, I'd also recommend you try their fresh ground peanut butter, amazing coffee, and delicious hard cheeses. The spice corner is vast, and equally amazing. 

I could go on and on... just know, if you've never been to Oak Hill you might as well visit. And if you have been there before, goodness, go again.

***

Like I said earlier, I make granola weekly. 

Before I married Herm I use to eat granola for breakfast (always), lunch (often), and supper (sometimes). Most of my friends laugh as my obsession, and just last week a friend I hasn't seen in ages came to visit. Her hostess gift: homemade granola bars. Yeah, she knows me well. 

As a new wife, I was eager to start making granola for the two of us, but Herm mentioned he wasn't really fond of it, so, disappointingly,  I thought I would be making it for just myself. Somehow though Herm learned to love it, eating at least one bowl daily, and I learned to limit it to maybe once a week. I feel better not having it daily. All things in moderation. I'm trying to learn that.

Even though I now limit it, my love for a fresh batch of crunchy, homemade granola is still strong.

There are several recipes I use, but this one is my all time favorite. I got the recipe from my mom, and honestly, I have never had a better granola. Bonus, it's tasty and healthy too!





I went a bit extravagant with the parfaits, Usually I make my own yogurt, this time, however, I picked up a container of maple flavored Brown Cow Yogurt. It's rich and flavorful and has a thick, decadent layer of cream on the top that nobody else gets to enjoy because I love it so.

To make the parfaits, simply layer granola, yogurt and your choice of fruits into a cup or bowl.




The Best Granola Ever

INGREDIENTS:
5 c. oatmeal
1 1/2 c. coconut
3/4 c. wheat germ
3/4 c. pecans
1/2 c. melted butter
1 c. maple syrup
1/3 c. sesame seeds
1 t. maple flavoring

METHOD:
Mix dry ingredients thoroughly. In a small bowl whisk syrup, butter, and maple flavoring. Pour it over dry ingredients, mixing well. Spread onto a cake sheet and bake at 325* for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. 

Tips:
•Consider doubling or tripling the batch, then freeze the extra granola until you're ready for it.
•Try not to eat the entire batch of granola in one sitting. 
Feel free to send all large, unwanted clumps my way. Clumpy granola is the best snack ever.

***

Oak Hill Bulk Foods is located at 3173 Route 14A, just two miles south of Penn Yan, NY. The store is opened Monday - Saturday from 8 - 6 pm, and the cafe is open Monday - Saturday from 7 - 4 pm

You can follow Oak Hill on Facebook, or visit their website to learn more!

5/1/17

When I Most Needed to Retreat


I started posts and I've erased posts, again and again, trying in vain to make words flow so that I can keep up with my goal of blogging regularly-ish. It's number 25 on my birthday bucket list. I thought I created an easy goal, only needing to check in here every other week. Turns out I was wrong though, because when one doesn't have anything to say, trying to come up with something to say is difficult. And most likely the perfect recipe for a very boring post.

Hang on, this one is going to be a rambler.

I basically forgot about the blog and the list, both of those trampled on by more urgent things calling for my attention: My toddlers (Plural? How is it possible that I already have two toddlers?), the grass that has been growing under my feet (literally), weekend escapades -- one to PA to visit my sister, another to a town 15 minutes from Niagara Falls to spend some time with one of my dearest friends, and everything else that the start of spring brings with it. I am convinced that days in the spring and summer months are only half as long as days in the winter, but with double the amount of tasks to accomplish.



We've been spending hours and hours out-of-doors, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

I'm choosing to cross Number 14. Take a Personal Retreat off the list. I didn't completely get away by myself, but I did manage to spend some time away with just one child, and honestly, it was a piece of cake in comparison to having two trailing me. (Although, it's most times the other way around. I am the one desperately trying to keep up.)

Years ago, in what may very well be the smallest town in southern Indiana, I met a Canadian. She was intimidating to me. She was smart and beautiful and organized and fun to be around and popular and knew how to write good term papers and could read music and spike a volley ball like nobodies business. Way out of my league. 

But seven years later, and here we are, still very good friends. 

Anyhow, not too long ago, she text me a link to a deal she found on Groupon. It was to a hotel and spa in Lewiston, New York, a town about 15 minutes from Niagara Falls, and almost the exact half way point for us to meet. 





We've been meeting in the quaint town, for I think, almost six years, every time dreaming about someday staying there. 

And it finally happened.

We were just there for one night, but it was wonderful! And I came back home feeling so refreshed. It was just what my heart needed it couldn't have been more perfectly timed. 

The rest of the week was a bit of a whirlwind, our dog wasn't feeling well, so I took her in to the vet. Lymes disease is rampant this year, and after explaining how she has been acting, they immediately tested her. It was positive. Thankfully we did catch this early enough, but goodness, I wasn't exactly relieved to hear the diagnosis. (If you've been a longtime reader, you might remember we lost a dog to Lymes several years ago.)  


I also pruned my neighbors vineyard and readying it for spring, mowed the yard maybe twice, planted a few flowers, hosted guests for the weekend, and 25 people for dinner Saturday night. (Don't be too amazed, I married a man who surely can man a grill. He did most of the work.) 



Herm and a team of six other friends, ran the Seneca 7 on Sunday. They were speedy this year, finishing 7th overall... that is 7 out of 380 teams. I was highly impressed. (Also, if you are a longtime reader, you probably recall that I use to run on that team. Last year, however, I was very pregnant, barely able to even manage a waddle... Last year was the year they placed 3rd. Without me. I'm expecting to never be invited to run with them again.)

Today was mountains of laundry, and lots of cleaning, and hours of cuddling a restless child. Today was tornado warnings and heavy rain and beautiful skies.



And before it turns into tomorrow, I'm going to call it a night.

Thanks for listening as I rambled.