Four things

Christmas is almost here! I think I might be more excited than my kids. Mostly I’m super excited about a 5 day weekend and seeing people open their gifts from me.

Just for fun today, while we’re all waiting for the holiday to arrive, here is a fun little quiz that I saw a while back at Mommy Run Fast.

Four names that people call me, other than my real name:

  • Mom
  • Sar or Sarey
  • Sis
  • @zarah or @skerner (on twitter and IG!)

Four jobs I have had:

  • Lawyer
  • Front desk at the YMCA
  • Anthropology Museum warehouse worker
  • Law office runner & clerk

Four movies I’ve watched more than once:

  • Legally Blonde
  • The Sound of Music
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding
  • Elf

Four books I’d recommend:

  • The Rosie Project
  • Shotgun Love Songs,
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany
  • Boundaries by Henry McLeod

Four places I have lived:

  • Chillicothe, Mo
  • Springfield, Mo
  • Columbia, Mo
  • Pamplona, Spain

Four places I have been:

  • Spain
  • France
  • Italy
  • England

Four places I’d rather be right now:

  • Sleeping in a very dark quiet room with cozy flannel sheets
  • Eating a great meal on a date with my husband
  • Reading or knitting in front of a fireplace with a mug of hot tea
  • Running on a beautiful fall day

Four things I don’t eat:

  • Fried chicken
  • Soda
  • Pork rinds
  • Gravy

Four of my favorite foods:

  • Chocolate
  • Pizza
  • Cheese
  • Almonds

Four TV shows that I watch:

  • Parenthood
  • Downton Abbey
  • The Mindy Project
  • How to get away with murder

Four things I am looking forward to next year:

  • Running a half-marathon or two with my friend Amanda
  • Finally getting unpacked, even the garage (I hope!!)
  • Baby Sam starting to talk.
  • Traveling to Boston with my husband next spring.

Four things I’m always saying:

  • Don’t hurt your brother!
  • Where is my phone?
  • I need coffee.
  • Tell me your life story.

What’s something you’re always saying? What are you looking forward to most in the new year?>

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An open house, a parade, a case of the 4-year-old gimmes

What a crazy weekend!  We hosted a holiday open house for church members at the parsonage (we had some surprising guests — see if you can spot them in the photos), went to the local Christmas parade, played outside since it was over 50 degrees — rare in December!, went to church, drove to Springfield for a friend’s holiday party, attempted to buy Christmas ornaments for the kids, and had one last choir practice before the Christmas Cantata next weekend.

 

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I didn’t take any photos at our ill-fated trip to the Hallmark store, but it just so perfectly illustrates my 4-year-old’s state of mind about gifts these days that I have to document it.  Last year, we went to a small Hallmark store near our house, and my son rather uneventfully decided he wanted a Batman ornament, we got it, end of story.  I thought, hey, if a 3 year old can do it without a meltdown, it should be a snap this year.  We talked about it in advance, and he decided on a Spiderman ornament this year.  Well… apparently Spidey is a popular guy.  It was sold out.  There were lots of other superheroes, but he wasn’t interested.  He started looking around…

  • Look at all the cars! (No we’re not getting an ornament of the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard)
  • A fire truck, a fire truck!  I want to play with it in the car.  (Okay… but the fire truck doesn’t come out of the fire station. It’s just an ornament, not a little toy.)
  • This one plays music!
  • Lights!
  • I want this one!  (Umm… that’s a Hanukkuh reindeer.  ????)

This is exactly how it goes anytime we’re in the vicinity of a toy aisle.  He fixates on a particular toy, I tell him we’re not buying toys today, then it becomes this generalized “gimme gimme gimme” about everything in sight.  A few weeks ago I was buying toys for a local charity and there may have been a meltdown because I wasn’t buying coloring books and glitter crayons for HIM!  (The child who hates to color.)  Clearly, I am the meanest mom ever, right?

Somehow I managed to get us out of the ornament store without too many tears.  And now… I stalk eBay for Spiderman ornaments, like a good mom.

How was your weekend?  

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December Goals, and November Goals in Review

Monthly Goals // Beauty School Dropout

Photo Credit: caljuggler via Compfight cc

We’re a few days into December but it’s never too late to set goals and try to plan out what I would like to get accomplished for the month.  But first, I am so excited to show you how I did on my November goal of unpacking a box a day!
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Awesome, right?  20 boxes.  I am so proud of myself!  And our basement floors have been refinished so now we can start using that part of our house.  Don’t they look great?
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December’s theme for the Choose Your Own Adventure link-up is Simplify.
I love this theme.  Everything about the Christmas season seems to compel me to do more, more, more.  Thus, I am forever trying to keep it simple.  A few simple gifts for family members, a few simple holiday activities with the kids, and spending time preparing for Jesus’ birthday and spending time with people who are truly important to me.  I could set a million goals related to this theme … isn’t that ironic? … but for me the key is just continually reminding myself that what I am doing is enough.  My kids will have a wonderful Christmas even if I don’t make them that handmade Advent calendar I keep thinking about.  The store-bought gingerbread house kit is fine.  The fact that my house isn’t decorated the way I want it to be really doesn’t matter.
Since this goal is kind of squishy and hard to measure, I’m going to try to stay on track by spending at least 5 minutes a day in meditation/prayer on this subject.  I have a severe case of monkey mind, so this will be quite a challenge for me.
Do you ever spend time meditating? How do you stay focused and not start making lists in your head or humming some annoying pop song?  (Maybe that last part is just me?)
More fun stuff:  I was featured in Kathleen’s “Working Mama Files” series here, and don’t forget to enter my Favorite Things giveaway here.
Life According to Steph

 

 

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Favorite Things Giveaway (blog hop)

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Today I have an amazing giveaway to share with you. Some of my blogger-friends have teamed up to offer great giveaways to nine (!) different winners this holiday season.  Each of us is giving away some of our “favorite things” to make your holiday season a little sweeter.  Find all the other great giveaways (and meet some of my favorite mom/craft/lifestyle bloggers) here:

1. Ellie: Ellie Petrov / 2. That’s me! / 3. Shelly: DIY Mama / 4. Karen: Book Delight / 5. Lisa: Expandng / 6. Dean: Mrs. AOK / 7. Jana: Jana Says / 8. NJ: A Cookie Before Dinner / 9. Kathleen: Kapachino

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You’ve all heard me yammer on about how much I love the simplicity of Project Life scrapbooking.  The gift I’m giving away is a Project Life kit with a teal mini-album and your choice of a Maggie Holmes (pictured) or Amy Tangerine 100-card kit (which is probably enough cards for 2 mini albums!)  The mini-album is great way to try out Project Life without committing to scrapbooking for a whole year – it would make a great vacation album or even a baby book.  The PL cards also make great gift tags or card-making supplies.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Fitness in the Fall

Fitness in the Fall

It’s officially COLD outside here in Missouri and the holidays are right around the corner. For me, that means food! I’m not just talking about the pumpkin pie, stuffing, and Christmas cookies… don’t forget about all those other yummy treats that make an appearance during the holidays: tins of Topsy’s popcorn, homemade Chex mix with bacon, and perhaps a few extra glasses of wine.I don’t mind treating myself to a few extra goodies during the holidays, but I try to balance it out with some extra exercise. During most of the year, I love to get outdoors and walk, hike, and bike in the beautiful Missouri Ozarks where I live. But the temperatures hit 10° this week so I’m having to get creative with some indoor workouts. I don’t belong to a gym so I truly do have to get creative.

Join me at Missouri Women Bloggers where I share how I stay active through the winter months.  I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

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6 ways to wear a patterned top

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Today I’m teaming up with two other bloggers for a fun post about how to get the most out of your clothes.  Patterned tops are fun to buy and very flattering, but for the longest time I didn’t wear them very often because I felt like they were so unique that everyone would notice I was wearing the same shirt over and over again.  I’ve come to two conclusions about this line of thinking:

(1) No one is paying THAT much attention to what I wear, except me.

(2) Mix it up!  You can wear the same small number of clothes in so many different combinations.  (Hello, capsule wardrobe!)  In fact, I think limiting the number of clothes in my closet actually forces me to be more creative about what I wear.

My two “ways to wear it” were an office look and a more casual date night look.

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For the office look, I paired my patterned blouse with my workhorse Little Black Dress (this thing is at least 10 years old).  I think the trick to making this look work is a thin blouse (mine is polyester) and a fully lined dress, so the crinkles of the shirt underneath don’t show through.

Shirt: Pixley via Stitch Fix

Dress: Liz Claiborne

Shoes: Born (I always get tons of compliments on these)

Jewelry: Banana Republic (always check for jewelry on sale at Banana.  You can find really great deals sometimes.)

 

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For the date-night look, I did a patterned shirt + black skinny jeans combo, and added a bit of color with a red belt and red peep-toe shoes.  A red statement necklace, scarf, or hair accessory would go great with this, too.

Shirt: Pixley via Stitch Fix

Jeans: Ann Taylor LOFT

Shoes: Banana Republic

What’s your favorite way to wear a patterned top?  Do you have something in your wardrobe that’s truly stood the test of time (like my little black dress?) 

Don’t forget to visit Jacquelyn and Carrie for more ways to style a patterned top!  And if you liked this post, I would love it if you pinned it!  You can click the Pinterest button at the bottom of the post or repin from my Style board.  Thank you & have a great Thanksgiving!

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Preschool Journal: Babies, sharks, and crayons on the beach

More entries from the unusual mind of a 4 year old boy (also known as my son’s preschool journal — titles transcribed by the teacher).  Can you tell he has a baby brother at home?

A super funny baby that doesn't even have a mouth.

A super funny baby that doesn’t even have a mouth.

 

A big baby. And it's an unhappy baby.

A big baby. And it’s an unhappy baby.

 

A big fat baby with super long hair.

A big fat baby with super long hair.

 

I was trying to draw a shark.

I was trying to draw a shark.

 

Crayons are flooding into the ocean. Kids are playing with them at the beach.

Crayons are flooding into the ocean. Kids are playing with them at the beach.

There you have it — proof that my son can draw something other than really squirmy snakes.  He may not be an artist, but I love the creativity behind it.

Do you miss art class, say good riddance to it, or do you still get your crafty on?

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Thankful

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Happy early Thanksgiving!  This post is a little bit silly and a little bit serious.  I’m thankful for…

  • Two little boys who are full of energy
  • Antibiotics.
  • Coffee.  (Coffee coffee coffee)
  • A warm, dry place to live.
  • A husband who’s recently rediscovered his love of cooking.
  • Nights that both kids go to sleep on time.
  • Somehow getting used to waking up at 5:20am.
  • Tea time in the afternoon.
  • Boot camp at work (Relax… NEVER!)
  • Hot cocoa on cold days.
  • Handknit wool socks.
  • The Zen of knitting
  • Gas prices dropping.
  • My boss and co-workers.
  • Hugs from my boys
  • Being a government employee so I get days off that no one else in the family does, and I can nerd out at home by reorganizing, knitting, reading, watching girly TV shows, and cooking up a storm.
  • Great friends in real life and online (like you!)

What are you thankful for this year?

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Reading while Driving #bookchat

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Reading while driving is the best!  No, not like that guy!  Listening to audiobooks, of course.  I love to read, but it’s hard to find the time with little kids always demanding your attention, so a wonderful side-effect of my long commute time has been a re-immersion into the world of books.  I’ve been listening to quite a few books on CD to pass the time during my new commute.  Here is a brief description of each one from my library’s website, and my thoughts.

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The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

After their daughter Maribel suffers a near-fatal accident, the Riveras leave Mexico and come to America. But upon settling at Redwood Apartments, a two-story cinderblock complex just off a highway in Delaware, they discover that Maribel’s recovery-the piece of the American Dream on which they’ve pinned all their hopes-will not be easy. Every task seems to confront them with language, racial, and cultural obstacles. At Redwood also lives Mayor Toro, a high school sophomore whose family arrived from Panama fifteen years ago. Mayor sees in Maribel something others do not: that beyond her lovely face, and beneath the damage she’s sustained, is a gentle, funny, and wise spirit. But as the two grow closer, violence casts a shadow over all their futures in America. Peopled with deeply sympathetic characters, this poignant yet unsentimental tale of young love tells a riveting story of unflinching honesty and humanity that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be an American.

In one way, this story so mundane, just the everyday lives of people and their normal struggles with school, work, relationships. But if you’ve never thought about what it’s like to be an immigrant in the US, this book will give you a very intimate look into that world. Each chapter is written from a different character’s perspective, and I loved that the recording used an ensemble cast to represent all the different voices of the story.  Read it and expand your world.

 

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The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern, narrated by Jim Dale

Waging a fierce competition for which they have trained since childhood, circus magicians Celia and Marco unexpectedly fall in love with each other and share a fantastical romance that manifests in fateful ways.

My thoughts — All the narrators I’ve heard so far have been excellent, but Jim Dale is in a category all his own.  How can I describe his voice?  I think listening to him say “chocolate” might actually be better than eating chocolate.  Amazing.

This book was so fun to listen to. The author created an amazing magical world that I became totally immersed in while reading. I was disappointed in the ending though — it was as if the author got so focused on writing about the setting that she forgot to come up with a resolution for the main plot line that was as well done as the rest of the book. Worth the read – I think Harry Potter fans would especially enjoy it.

 

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Life after Life by Kate Atkinson

What if you could live again and again, until you got it right? On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways.

My thoughts — I abandoned about halfway through — listening to the main character die over and over again was just too depressing. I also found it really predictable — I correctly guessed twice how she would die next, and I am really not good at that sort of thing. Two thumbs down.

 

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Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier

At the age of twelve, under the Wind moon, Will is given a horse, a key, and a map, and sent alone into the Indian Nation to run a trading post as a bound boy. It is during this time that he grows into a man, learning, as he does, of the raw power it takes to create a life, to find a home. In a card game with a white Indian named Featherstone, Will wins a mysterious girl named Claire. As Will’s destiny intertwines with the fate of the Cherokee Indians, including a Cherokee Chief named Bear, he learns how to fight and survive in the face of both nature and men, and eventually, under the Corn Tassel Moon, Will begins the fight against Washington City to preserve the Cherokee’s homeland and culture. And he will come to know the truth behind his belief that only desire trumps time.

This book is the perfect antidote to too many British novels and narrators in a row! I love historical fiction and Charles Frazier does it very well (remember Cold Mountain?). Highly recommend, especially if you’re interested in Native Americans, the Trail of Tears, or the Civil War time period.

Linking up with Jana, Steph and Anne.

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Preschool Journal: Snakes

At parent-teacher conferences recently, we learned that each of the students at my son’s preschool spends some time each day working on their “journal.” They do a drawing and the teacher writes down whatever the student says about it.

By far the most prevalent subject in my son’s journal was snakes. I’d just like to point out that I don’t think he’s ever seen a snake in real life, except from behind glass, so I guess that free magazine from the Missouri Department of Conservation really made an impression on him.

Snakes.

Snakes.

 

Snakes.

Snakes.

 

They're squirmy snakes.

They’re squirmy snakes.

 

A really big snake.

A really big snake.

 

A snake barn.

A snake barn.

 

Snakes squirming around a farmer.

Snakes squirming around a farmer.

 

Snakes are squirming all over the leaves.

Snakes are squirming all over the leaves.

Stay tuned for more exciting entries from the Preschool Journal.  What do you think — Is he obsessed with snakes or does he just like to scribble?

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