Lucky Kids

My kids have no idea how good they have it.

They have a Gigi and Papa less than 5 miles from home who get to see them not just for the big events like birthdays and Christmas but for swim practice and tball games.

My kids have no idea how good they have it.

They get to sit on the porch on a random Sunday eating ice cream with all their cousins.  Just because.

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My kids have no idea how good they have it.

They get to go to the same school/preschool as their cousins.

My kids have no idea how good they have it.

When mom and dad need a babysitter, it’s often not a random high schooler coming by, but it’s their aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents who fill in.

My kids have no idea how good they have it.

They have a Papa who lives so close that he dropped in on Saturday night just to tell them a 15 minute bedtime story.

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My kids have no idea how good they have it.

Their cousins aren’t 10 years older and in a completely different stage of life. Landon has a cousin 3 days older than him. Brooks has a cousin 6 weeks younger and another 5 months younger.  They will be in the same grade and doing the same things with these kids.

It may not last forever, but while they have it, I hope they realize how lucky they are to be so close to an amazing family who get to really be part of their daily life. #hitthejackpot

mango ricehead

Recipe: Coconut Mango Rice

I read a blog a year or two ago about a girl who visited Thailand and while she was there enjoyed tons of Mango Sticky Rice.  I’d never heard of it and it kinda seemed like a weird combo.  Flash forward to a few weeks ago when I picked up some of the most delicious mango (on sale for $.55 each!) during our weekly grocery trip. The boys and I ate it up one night and the next week, I saw they still had some great mango – albeit not the same price – so I grabbed a few more.

I then randomly remembered the girl talking about how much she loved sticky mango rice so I decided to see if there was a recipe.  It turns out it is more of a dessert thing and the recipes I saw had tapioca powder and toasted sesame seeds, etc.  So I decided to make my own recipe by combining some of the same ingredients I saw in those recipes and modifying it for what I had in the house.

It was surprisingly delicious. I tend not to be big on “sweet” dinner foods (like Orange Chicken), but I think I’d make this again.  And all three of my boys seemed to like it.

mango rice

Coconut Mango Rice

Brown Rice – 4 cups
Coconut Milk – one can
Mango – 2 fruit, diced
Sugar – 1/2 c
Vanilla – splash
Salt

In a rice maker, I cooked 4 cups brown rice, with water. (I made a big batch because this was a meal share recipe with my sister. I’d suggest halving if you want to feed a family of 4.)

While rice is cooking, I peeled and diced the mangoes.  Then when my rice was about 10 mins from being done, I put the can of coconut milk in a small pot and heated on medium. I watched it the whole time and only let it slightly start bubbling on the edges (don’t let it boil).  Once it started bubbling, I whisked in sugar, a splash of vanilla and a pinch of salt. I let it cook together for just a minute or two until the sugar dissolved into the coconut milk.

Once the rice was done, I poured the warm coconut milk and mango on top and mixed it together. It was creamy, slightly sweet and delicious.  I served it with BBQ chicken.

(P.S. if you love ChickFila sauce as much as I do, here’s an at home trick:  honey mustard sauce plus BBQ sauce – Sweet Baby Ray’s – mixed together tastes like ChickFila sauce – so good! You can see that’s what is drizzled on our chicken.)

Picasso-esque Birdfeeders

My boys love a good craft.  This definitely is something they get from their momma, not daddy.  He brings the athletics, I bring the domestic fun – crafts, baking, etc.  It’s a good mix!

A couple YEARS ago, we did one of the Sat morning crafts at Lowes or Home Depot where you have your kids build something (i.e. they watch while mom and dad do it all!).  They made little bird feeders that sat in our garage until we did a big clean out last weekend. I found them and now that the boys are a little older, I thought it would be a fun thing to paint them and hang them. Particularly because Landon just had a camp where he made birdseed so the supplies were already in hand.

bird
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They each got to pick two colors (because mom didn’t want to have everything turn into a brown, muddy mess!) and it was off to work.

You may be wondering why my little Chippendale’s are in their skivvies for this painting party – “what kind of house does she run?!” Well, this is non-washable craft paint since we’ll be hanging it outside and I didn’t want them to ruin their clothes. So aprons and undies it goes!

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It was cute because their end products very accurately represented their personalities. Landon had the perfectly distinct, stay in the lines,  colorblocking blue and gray.
Brooks went wild with the teal and yellow, swirling them together in some areas to make green and ending up with a beautifully abstract nesting place for his flying friends.

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They really did great and I loved seeing their rule follower and rule breaker personalities shine through in their final work.

Make new friends but keep the old.

Life has a way of moving so quickly that it changes and yet you don’t quite realize it until you look back.  It’s good to make progress, but it’s also important for me to reflect on what’s changed.  Over the years, the time between when I hang out with friends has grown increasingly longer.  The college friends that I lived with, talked to all day every day and shared every detail of life are still friends, but now when we talk, it can be a hurried 20 mins while I’m prepping dinner or they are on the road for a couples weekend away.  Even though the time and distance has grown a little bit, I love that I have old friends who can pick up right where we left off.  The conversation is always easy.

Recently, my sister invited a group of our college buddies – yes, my sister (and brother) and I went to the same college and had many of the same friends – and we all got to catch up on life, introduce S.O.s that hadn’t been met yet, and pull out the old photo albums to remember our college glory days.  It was hilarious and so much fun.  Remembering some of our old parties, boyfriends and stories made me go back and realize how easy life was and how much was shared with these girls.

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I laugh when I think about how much we shared with each other.  Literally every single detail of our day we weren’t together (which wasn’t too much since we took all the same classes) was recounted.  From seeing the hottest surfer dude on campus to an incident in the UNCW cafeteria, not a detail was spared.  We were typical college kids with about 3 hours of class a day and tons of free time.  (And given how much my husband loves to carry a deep conversation today, I forget how much time I spent just talking each day.)  As a house of girls, we talked about deep things – like the type of person we thought we’d each marry or personality traits that caused conflict in the house – but mostly we just cut up and laughed.  Gosh, we laughed a lot.

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Now we don’t talk on the phone nearly enough to share all those little details but when we talk, it’s about the important things today – our families, our free time, our dreams and goals, frustrations we’re facing, etc.

I’m grateful that while we’ve all made lots of new friends, we’ve also been able to find ways to reconnect and stay in touch.

(And P.S. we were up until 2:30am – wow! That’s a very late night. We we’re practically college kids again!)

First Day: First Grade.

Landon kicked off first grade this week. He told me more than once in the week leading up to it that he was “excited, but a little nervous, too.”

I have no doubt he’s going to love this year. He’s already improved on his reading so much since last spring and I know he’s really excited about learning harder math problems.

We had to fill out a “Get to Know Me” sheet for his teacher. Here were some of his highlights:

Favorite Food: Mac N Cheese
Favorite Class: PE and Computers  (Math, too)
Favorite Thing To Do Outside of School: Play outside, ride my bike, play baseball
Favorite Color: Blue and Pink
Something you want to do this year: Read chapter books

He and his cousin, Harleigh, are at the same school again, but didn’t get put in the same class, so they’ll have to settle for hanging at recess and a quick wave at lunchtime!

Yes, Dean and I look really awake in this family shot!🙂

Landon,
I know that this is going to be a great year for you. You love to learn and work hard to get better at things and school is no different. I can’t wait to see you get better at reading and writing. I know I’ll be shocked by your math and computer skills.

Outside of learning subjects in school, I pray that you continually develop other skills this year, too. Things like compassion, leadership and respect.  While math and science are important, these values are the things that will get you places in life.  They’ll shape who you’ll be as a man.

I’m so proud of the boy you’re becoming, your dad and I are so thankful for you.

Your biggest fan,
Mom

A new use for the chore chart.

The chore chart has been on vacation this summer.  It sat on Landon’s dresser, completely empty for two long months… until I walked in this past week and found:

chore

He saw me notice it and said, “Mom, that’s because I don’t want to forget about Gigi.”

I love that.  There’s such a sweet relationship between that boy and his extended family – especially his Gigi.

And I can’t think of a better use for his chore chart.

Boy moments.

My little Brooksie is becoming such a boy.  Yes, at 4 it’s not surprising that his toddler-isms are nearly gone, but lately I’ve seen new ways he’s turning into a smart, complex thinking, coordinated little boy.

When he talks, he uses these adult-like phrases for being such a little thing. (“Actually, I think Jesus would want me to listen and eat my dinner.” “I like vanilla, mom, but my alternate choice is cookies and cream.”)

He’s started asking about situations and people he can pray for.  Like when we rode down the highway and a car was broken down. Brooks wanted to pray that their car would be fixed and they would stay safe.

This week when we played baseball outside, he started hitting daddy’s overhand pitches (a first!) and looked good out there doing it. It wasn’t his usual whiff at a few balls and then go ride his bike.  Instead, he had this all-boy coordination and focus that I haven’t seen from him yet.

He rattles off these math problems that I don’t think he should know the answer to yet.

He’s losing the few remaining toddler traits he had and is becoming all big kid.

If I’m being honest, I’m just a little sad about it.  As my baby, I notice these last things fading away and it’s a reminder that my role as mom is constantly evolving and he continues to become this bright, fun little man.

He’s needing me less and less as he grows. And I’m conflicted – because I love his little boyisms so much, but I’m also so proud of who he’s becoming.