-Our house is full of books. Books we own, books from the library. They are everywhere. The boys are in constant need of bookmarks. They will use anything they can find. A sock, a marker, another book. I'm trying to teach them about taking good care of books, and using a flat, paper bookmark instead of random objects. That lesson is not sticking. But these boys sure do love to read. I'm so thankful. (Not sure why they insist on frequently taking the couch apart like this. But I don't mind if it means waking up to them quietly reading side by side.)
-We started using MyJobChart.com for the boys. This replaced our marble system. So far we really like it. The boys earn points for doing chores, which they can then turn into money (1 point = 1 cent), give to charity, or spend on pre-determined rewards (video game time, books, toys). We make them save a little, give a little, and they usually choose to spend the rest on rewards. It's a great site. I recommend it for other parents who, like us, haven't known how to implement a chore system. Yay, internets!
-As part of their chores, each boy now helps make dinner one night a week. It's a big weight off my shoulders to have this as part of their scheduled responsibilities. I've long felt guilty for not letting them in the kitchen enough. It's like the only piece of advice that every modern parenting book/guru agrees on: "Get your kids cooking early! Let them help you in the kitchen as much as possible!" The thing is, it's stressful to cook with kids. Or at least with our kids. They don't listen. They have their little fingers in everything. They get silly and pour flour over their heads. Etc. So I have avoided inviting them to cook because I'm trying to keep my blood pressure at a healthy level. But. They are getting to an age where they can listen a little better and be reasonably helpful. And since they each have one night a week, we cook with just one, instead of both at once. Which helps tremendously. Hopefully they will take to it and become modern men who are comfortable in the kitchen.
-In regards to the boys helping with dinner, I have a tip. This is one of the rare instances when one of the thousands of ideas I read on the internet actually made its way into our real lives. Here it is: you know those green plastic knives that are marketed as lettuce knives? I bought two, and those have become the boys' chef knives. This way they can chop veggies while helping us with dinner and we don't have to worry too much about fingers getting in the way. Brilliant, right?
-Babies everywhere! Our friends Brandon and Emily just had baby Lila, followed closely by Paul and Andrea welcoming baby Emmett. My sister in law and at least two more friends have babies on the way. I love babies. However, I think I've FINALLY reached a point where I am happy not to have my own new baby. It only took five years for me to feel at peace with this. But I think I'm finally there. I may write more about this later.
-I've been spending way too much time watching videos by this woman and dreaming of a career as a make-up artist. Am I crazy? I'm not sure how I got this bee in my bonnet. It might be something I could pursue once both boys are safely held in the confines of public school all day. Right now, unfortunately, her videos just make me want to buy a lot of expensive face care products.
-I've also been wanting to step up my fashion game a little bit. Nate has made leaps and bounds in this area over the past year. I'm still stuck in my stay-at-home-mom uniform from Target. I want to thrift more, and add some more interesting pieces to my wardrobe. Susan introduced me to this street fashion blog, which I love. I in turn started a pinterest board specifically to keep track of the looks I like, so that I can review what kinds of things I should be hunting for when I hit the Goodwill. Not much luck so far. It's a long term goal.
-A few things I've stitched this summer:
------------------ This piece for Brian. He wanted me to stitch something to hang in his house. I asked for ideas, anything at all to go on. He said, "Surprise me." So I found this awesome pattern and stitched it up for him. I really love it. I hope he did too.
------------------ This piece for my friend Kelly. She had me make this as a Father's Day gift for her husband. I used one of her favorite pictures of her son and her husband together, and made a simple stitched portrait.
Summer is absolutely flying by. Next week the boys are officially finished with all their park district activities. We will have a few weeks before school starts again.... hopefully we can strike a good balance between relaxation and boredom. Up to this point we have been very busy. I'm looking forward to a good slow-down.
For good measure, here are some pictures of the boys with a popcorn cake we made. Yes, you read that right. Popcorn cake. It was their entry in our latest potluck. It didn't officially place, but it was a hit with the kids.