Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fair Fun

Fun at the South Carolina State Fair - for the Party of Five that means...

Riding around on portable rides that I fear will fall into a million pieces at any given moment are
safe and fun for the kids to enjoy.

 Enjoying a year's worth of fried food in one sitting.

 Yes, the Diet Pepsi is necessary to balance out the enormous amount of calories consumed... no matter how ridiculous it looks standing next to its friends Funnel Cake and Fitz Fries.

And finally, having so much fun, that you fall asleep before the car gets out of the parking lot.
With your hand in your popcorn box.

Thanks for a great time State Fair!  Catch you in 2012!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mommy, How Do .....

  1. you put cars together?
  2. you make squishy seats?
  3. big kids walk to their classes and not drive?
  4. big kids always look at their phones?
  5. you make concrete?
  6. take concrete away?
  7. does a jackhammer work?
  8. have to hold on to a jackhammer instead of just turning it on and waking away?
  9. you make bread?
  10. you make water?
A few snippets of questions James asked.  Yesterday.  During the 15 minute drive from the University to Anna's elementary school.

No wonder I'm exhausted at the end of the day.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Last Saturday, Deonne took the kids to see the Scarecrow exhibit at the Historic Robert Mills House.  Apparently they had a ball - as evidenced from the grins and giggles D captured with his camera phone. 

This was Jack's favorite one "Lego Man"

Sitting on the joggling board...I wonder where Jack got his two pinecones...

St. Francis - my favorite Saint from the old school catchism days.

James' favorite - Harry Potter - if you look closely you can see the golden snitch hovering overhead.

Love this historic home.

Art At The Fair

Remember this picture from earlier this year?  Apparently Anna's art teacher really likes it.  A lot.  Because she sent it to the fair for consideration in their state-wide student art exhibit.  I'm not sure how many pieces Ms. Hansberry submitted, but I do know that only three were selected - Anna's being one of them.

And apparently the people at the South Carolina State Fair (judges, I should say) liked it a lot too. 

When Anna finally told us that her piece was at the fair (in her nonchalant - oh by the way, I was on the News Show this morning because of my fish that's at the fair), we were of course proud, and happy for her, but sorta thought no big deal, right?  Wrong.  I didn't realize that art is submitted by teachers from across the entire state.  (Duh - it IS the STATE fair...)  And out of those that were sent in - only a smattering from each grade level (Anna's being kindergarten from last year) were chosen to be displayed.

Cool, right?

Anna was thrilled.  Can't tell at all from the photos below, can you???

And what made it all the sweeter - Ms. Hansberry sent Anna a note in the mail (REAL MAIL) - a beautiful card telling Anna how proud she was of her, of what a big deal it was to have her piece on display, and how lucky and happy she is to be her art teacher.

I know how she feels.

I'm lucky and happy to be her mama.

Blessed, is a better word.  As we discussed last night at Bible study - it all comes back to sovereignty.

Pumpkin Patch 2011

Trenholm Road United Methodist. 

Pumpkin Patch.

Late afternoon visit.

Enough said.

Forest Lake Elementary STEM-G PTO Night

One of the things I love about Anna's elementary school (among many) is the PTO family nights that happen four times a year.  Simply put, dinner in the cafeteria, activities for kids of all ages, educational opportunities (sometimes they skype with astronauts in Houston), and a program (kids singing.)

I was anchored to the PTO booth trying to churn up membership - so couldn't take the kids around.  This is when Jack was sick with that weird virus - so Deonne was home tending to him.  Thankfully Aunt Mary and Uncle Harry saved the day - and took Anna and James around to enjoy all of the fun things.

I put this last photo in so I can remind myself that this is what life was like at this stage - trying to do too much - but for a good cause.  :)

Halloween Crafting

A few weeks ago, we had a little crafting activity via  Some old spaghetti sauce jars, pickle jars, and jelly jars, painters tape, and a lot of orange paint later - and we had these little guys.

James clearly didn't want to wait for directions....

They do look pretty neat - of course I don't have a picture of the final product with the tape peeled off, sitting on the kitchen table, and the lights out with candles aglow inside - so you'll have to use your imagination.

The kids had fun, I had fun, and dinnertime with kids and candles is always something to be treasured.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fall Fun (from a distance)

Thanks to the brilliant planning skills of the EPA, the brownfield grants I write on an annual cycle are due on November 28.  That would be the Monday after Thanksgiving.


I'm back to leaving the house before 7am, working through lunch, cancelling lunches and meetings and daytime appointments (no comments on the state of my hair and/or monobrow), rushing out to pick up whatever child needs to be at whatever activity in the afternoon, trying to cook somewhat healthy meals, spend a few minutes with my family before herding them up to bath and bed, and then returning to my trusty laptop to write and write and write and write.  Saturdays have become days of leaving the house early - working at the office all day - and trying to leave in the afternoons to spend just a little bit of time with the kids.  And Deonne, of course.

So the already full schedule of dance class, French class, Annie Jr. rehearsals (did I mention that Anna's in her first theatrical performance this year - cast in the superstar role of NYC Central Park Squirrel [read: extra] in the local Childrens Theatre production), church music and rhythm class, Wednesday night church programming, soccer practice + games, women's Bible study, PTO board meetings, karate, and soccer class is even more crazy.  (If that's at all possible.)  Add in the menagerie of fall activities going on across Columbia that I really want to enjoy with the kids and it becomes an out-and-out battle to keep everything straight.

Game on.

So limited time to keep the blog updated - limited time to put much thought or detail into writing ('cause my super-stellar writing skills are too busy telling tales of woe and desperation...)

And I hate that.  Truth be told, it's a weird place to be - I love the writing, I love the work.  I just hate that it falls during one of my favorite seasons.  That it takes time away from doing the things I love with my family, like carving pumpkins and tissue lollipop ghosts, baking pumpkin treats, and taking advantage of things like Boo at the Zoo, the State Museum Halloween party, the scarecrows at the Robert Mills House, and a gazillion others I'm sure I'm forgetting.

So for now, I'll just update with pictures - and say thank you to my spouse for taking on kid duty for the next month, for enjoying the fun things fall offers with our children, and for documenting most of it with your camera phone.

See ya on the flip side for more details....

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Saturday morning.

I'm rushing around trying to get out of the house to the office - making sure Deonne has The List of the day's activities fully understood.

James is in the bathroom - taking care of business - singing songs (which is what he does when he's doing Number Two.)


'Yes love?'

'Wanna see something?'

'Ummmm.... no, not really.'

'But it's really cool.'

'Uh, no, but thanks.  But your Daddy would love to see, I'm sure.'

I'll leave the rest to your imagination.... 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I don't often ask for prayers...for myself or for others.  I tend to keep my needs to myself - close to my heart - asking for wisdom and guidance in a private way - in the quiet of my home (which really does happen... sometimes...) or when I have a moment of solitude. 

Similarly, I don't often ask for prayers for others - I'm not sure why - maybe because I'd rather keep someone in my private thoughts ... maybe because it seems sometimes that it's become all too cliche to say 'I'll pray for you' kind of like 'come see me sometime...'  something that is said in passing and while sincere at that moment in time, quickly forgotten in the hustle and bustle of daily lives.

And I don't like to gossip about the misfortunes of others - I don't like to be a link in the chain of 'did you hear about so-and-so' or 'it's just so awful that such-and-such happened...'  Rather I sit by, quiet, kinda like a mute - and don't participate in the discussion.

But if ever there was a time to request prayers on behalf of others - if ever there was a time to ask that people stop in their tracks, for just a moment, to pray for healing, comfort, and peace - now is it.

I won't elaborate on details - just tell you that a tragic accident happened last Friday.  A beloved member of our church lost her life, after 80-some years of devotion and service.  Her daughter, who is another member of our church (who happens to teach my women's Bible study class - who has been actively helping me learn God's word) was critically injured.  And her son and daughters (of which I really only know one - who is also helping to teach the Bible study class) are faced with the horrible HORRIBLE job of sitting by her side.  Helpless.  Scared.  Confused.

I've been that daughter.  I spent many an hour sitting by my mother's side when she was comatose- holding her limp and swollen hand - watching a machine pump air into and out of her body - wondering if she would live - if she could ever recover from the stroke and brain surgery she suffered.  I spent one very quiet morning with my father (what turned out to be his last) - holding his limp hand - listening to the beeps and hums of the machines keeping him alive - knowing in my heart that he would soon be gone.   

I never asked for prayers during those wretched times.  I don't even remember if I prayed myself - as it was all so surreal and foggy and I could barely form sentences, let alone think of a coherent prayer.

But I felt them. 

And the family intimately affected by this tragedy haven't asked for prayers. 

But they need them.

So if you are inclined, please take a moment to think about a family that is hurting, scared, confused.  Hold them up.  Ask for comfort.  Ask for peace.  Ask for some sort of calm to help ease the confusion of this terrifying time.

I know they'll feel them.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Organized Chaos

Life in the Party household can be quite chaotic.  I feel like I have to be one step ahead of everyone in order to make sure all tasks, assignments, and commitments - parties, recitals, and soccer games happen on schedule.  I felt like I was floundering a lot last year - and had several calendars going to try to keep everything straight... a small dry-erase calendar in the kitchen, my electronic calendar on ipod and computer, the momAgenda - nothing seemed to work.

I think I'm a visual person.  If I don't see everything clearly laid out in front of me - I have a hard time remembering what I'm supposed to be doing or where I'm supposed to be going with what kid.

With Jack moving up to the official Boys Room, we suddenly had an entire room to fill.  A whole space with no designated purpose.  I toyed with the idea of creating a lovely guest room like we had when we originally moved in - but that didn't seem practical seeing as the only people who use that room are our buddies from NC - and that's only once or twice a year.  I considered making a playroom - since it's just down the hall from the kitchen - but the kids are getting old enough to send down to the basement playroom - giving them yet another place to clutter with toys and junk didn't seem like the best choice.

So I claimed it as mine.  MINE.  James lovingly calls it my 'workshop.'  Now a lot of people give me a hard time - saying the whole house is mine - but that's not really the truth.  The reality is every room has been either taken over by children or serves a designated purpose.  I really didn't have one central place to organize our family - a Command Central, if you will - a term I picked up when I took that Busy Moms Guide To Survival Class a few summers ago.

Slowly but surely I've been organizing - relentlessly purging - thinking hard about where things should go - and what you see before you is the fruit of that effort.

Meet the Mama-cave....

Sleeper sofa brought up from the basement and re-covered via the new two-piece slip covers.  Can I tell you how much I love these?  Not only do they fit tightly with elastic bands - but the second piece to contain the seat cushions separate from the remainder of the couch means no sagging fabric collecting in a wad on the floor.  Amen.

The Calendar.  I took the idea from my friend Ashley who has a ginormous wall-sized magnetic dry-erase calendar in her kitchen.  I covet that.  But they are very expensive (from my research via Mr. Google) so I decided to be creative with a big corkboard and some pretty ribbon.

The dresser is what the kids each had in the nursery before graduating to 'big kid' furniture.  It now houses all of my craft supplies (punches, stamps, adhesives, papers, scissors, pens, etc...)  The top three drawers are labeled for each child as a place to store important papers until I can file them in their 'to be saved' files in their rooms.

I simply move the dates around each month - just little circles I created in Photoshop and cut out from cardstock with a 2" circle punch.  The important things/events/places to be are written on other 2" circles I also cut out of cardstock.  I realized though - as I was putting this post together - that I could get creative and make pretty ones that match in Photoshop.  Things like church, dance, soccer that remain the same each month...  I'll have to get on that...

The bookcase was also part of the original nursery set - now it houses my jars of stuff (paper clips, push pins, rubber bands, etc..), non-specialty scissors and markers, the recipe books I use most often when menu planning, and the middle shelf is designated for my Bible study and reference materials.  (That is the topic of another post.)

I totally stole this idea from Kathy when I saw it on her blog.  No matter how organized I was with the re-purposed dresser, it kept feeling cluttered - either I had stacks of paper for each child (from the absurd amount of paper that comes home each day in their respective backpacks) - or I stashed them away in those top drawers - and would forget about what I'd stuffed in there.  This hanging file system works wonders.  I'm able to do what Kathy suggested and dump papers here each night - then when I have time - go through them later and decide what needs to be kept, what needs to be recorded, and what can be tossed.

This area is still a work in progress.  Right now the folding table works - sort of.  My intent was to use it as a sewing/craft space, which seemed like a great idea - until I tried to sew on it.  The movement of the needle made the entire table wobble.  Not so great.  Deonne is looking into building a small table of the same dimensions - so it will fit when the sleeper-sofa is pulled into a bed.  I'd like him to craft it so it looks sort of like a built-in - we'll see how that goes.

 But I'm loving my space...

 I'm loving being organized...

I'm loving being able to see what we have coming in the weeks ahead...

And I'm loving having a quiet space to read, study the Bible, and help Anna do her homework.  And Anna loves having a place she can work independently on her homework without her brothers all up in her business - but is close enough that she's within earshot of me in the kitchen.  I'm thankful she can be to herself and not distracted by the TV or toys or games her brothers are playing.

So this is how we organize our daily lives...