Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A bad twist of fate

When our family lived in our townhome, I had the most awesome neighbor and friend.  She lived a few houses down and was so. much. fun. 


She was the kind of neighbor that I could knock on the door at 10 PM (cause she was a night owl) and we’d chat and eat chips and dip for an hour.

We shared real life together, complete with messes, houses full of kids and laundry, and everything that life brought.

I treasured our chats and her assurance that I was going to make it through this motherhood “thing” because I was a new mom and her youngest (of 5) was the age of my oldest, so she had a ton of wisdom and experience!

Then I moved to another area, the Village of Kings Contrivance in Columbia, MD, and our lives pulled us apart.  While we did have our IKEA trip and other random hang out times at soccer games, we didn’t see each other as much because we were both busy with our own kiddos and their worlds.

Fast forward to August of 2013…

The EXACT month we left Kings Contrivance and moved to Raleigh….she moved from the old townhouse neighborhood to the Village of Kings Contrivance.

Are you kidding?

And while we wouldn’t have been on the same street, the irony of the move didn’t pass us by.  What horrid timing.

But on my last trip to MD, I was able to visit and check out her new location near my former location! 


Oh, Layla, if only we were neighbors again!  Are you sure you don’t want to join us in Raleigh?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fresh from the farm

WAY back in May, we had the fun opportunity to visit a local Goat Farm, Elodie Farm.

We were greeted by our friendly farmer and tour guide who gave us some quick instructions.


Time to head into the goat pen:


The baby goats were waiting in a whole other pen:


The kids were able to feed the baby goats and boy were they hungry!


Then we fed the ducks…


and collected fresh eggs from the hen.


After a busy morning, it was time for a picnic lunch in front of the beautiful farm house!


We went home with some fresh eggs and plenty of farm fresh goat cheese.  YUM!

And I gotta admit that I am dying to try one of the Dinner on the Porch nights!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Chocolate Chip Miner

My son “mines” his chocolate chip muffies for the chips.


He eats the muffie as he goes along until he is left with a pile of chips, which he turns into a chocolate ball.


Then he happily eats it up!


It’s a muffie version of Minecraft….I guess…

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Fathers Day

My dad used to get a big kick out of embarrassing me.  I think it is because I was his easiest child to embarrass. 

One of his favorite stories is the time that my middle school BFF, Carly, and I went to the mall. 

Together, we were “too cool” for our own good.  Walking around the mall ON. OUR. OWN. 

So there we were, two awesomely cool middle school girls, walking around the mall when we heard a voice…

“Girls!  Hey Girls!”

Carly stopped, “Oh my gosh.  Is that your Dad?”

We frantically began to look around. 

“I’m right here girls!  It’s me!”

There he was on the lower level of the mall.  We were upstairs.  He was frantically waving.  And yelling.

I could not believe he was yelling for us during our “we are too cool to be with our parents” time at the mall! 

Quickly, we walked off, trying to pretend that the screaming father below was not taunting calling us.

Till he began using our names.

“Girls!  Carly.  Mary.  It’s your

Dad!  Girls.  Wait for me.”

We wanted to die.

But we didn’t.  Instead, we dashed into a store and hid.  Hoping that no one from school had seen us.

I think it is one of my father’s favorite memories of embarrassing his children.

Well, that one and Hunk Alert”.   But THAT is a different story.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. 

You are my best Dad ever!



Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Freedoms List

When we began the idea of giving our children “Freedoms” for each birthday, we started brainstorming a master list to choose from.

This is important for 2 main reasons:

1.  You don’t get a certain freedom at a certain age, with few exceptions.  At 10, all of our kids will get the freedom to begin to have their own “nice possessions” that they are in charge of.  At 16, I hope they all get freedom of the car.  At 18, they will all get freedom of themselves.  Beyond that, it is based on the individual child and areas of responsibility that we observe in their lives.

2.  We purposefully hold off on things that we might not care about INTENTIONALLY building the importance of the freedoms.  For example, I could really care less about my kids choosing their hair style or even dying their hair, but I will purposefully hold off on allowing them to dye it or get a “dramatic cut” until they earn the freedom.  This makes it more special when you do earn it!

That being said, the following is my list of freedoms in no particular order:

1. Freedom of a phone.  It would be their very own “dumb phone”.  That’s right.  No one is getting a smart phone without the freedom of the internet and that ain’t happening any time soon in this house.  I do consider this one for 12-14 years old.  My daughter is pretty responsible now and carries a purse quite often, so I have thought about the phone as an option.  Gift idea:  uh….the phone….and maybe paying for the service for a certain amount of time.

2.  Freedom of your bedroom.  Decorate how you want.  Hang what you want.  Clean it when you want. That last one is KEY here.  No more telling them to clean their room.  That means that this particular freedom is going to be a hard earn for some kids.  In fact, the pastor’s wife who shared this with me said one of her children never earned this while living in their home.  Tough with my boys who share a room….hmmmm….  Gift idea:  Loft bed.  Ikea gift card.  Movie poster.

3.  Freedom of your hair.  Chop it.  Shave it.  Dye it.  Whateva’.  I see this one around 13-16 years old.  Depending on the boy, this might be a big deal to them too as they could grow it long, which they won’t be allowed to do under my control.  Gift idea:  trip to the salon or funky hair dye.

4.  Freedom of your music.  Listen to what you want.  UGH.  Since I have a collection of rap music from my high school days, I am sure I am in for it with this one.  Yes, I can still sing some Snoop Dogg.  Gift idea:  iPod.  iTunes gift card.

5.  Freedom of your clothing.  Crop tops.  Short skirt.  Crazy colors.  Oh my.  This one opens so many doors.  I consider this between 14-18.  Gift idea:  favorite clothing store shopping spree.  Maybe a pair of shoes or a coat they are dying to have.

6.  Freedom of make-up.  The freedom to wear as much as you want.  Grab that blue eye shadow and have at it, kid!  Gift idea:  makeover with some lessons on how NOT to overuse that blue!  Make up kit.

7.  Freedom of the internet.  Not sure if and when we will do this.  It is something we debate as we want our kids to learn what is “out there” and to become responsible in this area of internet searching, use and time limits.  We recognize that they will take over this area of their lives at some point, so we want time for mistakes at home.  I can’t imagine we would do this before 17.  Once they earned this, then they could have a “screen” in their bedroom for the first time and we would remove “screen time” restrictions. Gift idea:  tablet or laptop.

8.  Freedom of money.  Spend it how you would like.  Of course, my child wouldn’t be allowed to buy anything that is against our family rules.  But if you typically have a tithing or saving percentage that you enforce, this would be the time to let it go.  Gift idea:  Cash!

9.  Freedom of accessories.  Scarves.  Shoes.  Jewelry.  Time to have some fun and accessorize!  Gift idea:  Jewelry.  Gift card to store with accessories.  New shoes.  (You can see what we did)

10.  Freedom of a nice object that is YOURS.  This is the first time that my kids get the freedom to own an “expensive” personal object and to have the responsibility of caring for it.  Gift idea:  We bought our daughter a digital camera.  A brand new bicycle was the idea of the originator of this list.  Tablet.  Video Camera.  Basically whatever fits your child.

11.  Freedom of the car.  Access to drive the car.  AND to own one.  (not saying mom and dad have to purchase that)  Gift idea:  Car keys on a cute (or manly) keychain.  Maybe a car if you have the funds!

12.  Freedom of the house.  Time to be allowed to stay home alone.  We missed out on this one as MD law allowed 8 year olds to stay home alone, so we started this one ages ago.  But if you held off on this one, it is a great idea from a 10-13 year old!  Gift idea:  Keys to the house.  A night alone with a bag of treats and a rental movie. 

13.  Freedom of your bedtime.  This does not mean you are free to choose when you have to be in your room, but you are free to choose when you would like to turn off your light and go to sleep.  Maybe it includes a later “time to go up to your room” as well.  Gift ideas:  book light.  alarm clock.  a stack of late night books.  (clearly, I am at a loss on this one)

14.  Freedom of food.  This one walks a bit of a tightrope between respect for the home you live in (as in, eating the dinner you were made) and allowing the freedom of food.  Overall, this would mean that you don’t need permission to grab some food.  No one will watch over your shoulder as you pack your lunch.  You could eat what you wanted….maybe even drink soda….that you can buy yourself since Mommy doesn’t.  (*wink)  In our house, I would probably see this as permission to make your own breakfast and lunch choices without comment/input from me.  They could also choose their own snacks when they were hungry.  I see this one for older kids who are pretty responsible about eating fairly healthy.  Maybe ages 14+  Gift idea:  case of soda.  ice cream.  bag of chips.  and of course, a ton of fruit!

15.  Freedom of media (not internet).  Pick your books.  TV shows.  Movies.  Gift idea:  Movie passes.  Kindle gift card. 

16.  Freedom of your purity.  This one was passed on as an idea to me from the pastor and his wife.  They took each of their children away on a Passport to Purity Weekend when they turned 13.  At this time, they were given a symbol (necklace) that represented their purity to be given to their spouse.  They were given the “freedom of their purity” as well – a recognition that it was ultimately up to them to protect it.  I am not sure if we’ll do this one or how we would.  I am not about to give the freedom of that choice to a 13 year old, though it is true that ultimately it is their choice.  So this one is shelved for now in our house.  Gift ideas:  physical representation of your time away and discussion.

17.  Freedom of yourself.  This is the “given” at 18.  You are now your own adult and a “roommate” in our home.  Please respect us as roommates and we will do the same. Gift ideas:  their share of the electric bill?  (wink)

I would love any thoughts or ideas that you have out there.  This is so very adaptable to any family and any child.  If you can think of other potential freedoms, please pass them on!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Freedom of Accessories

After beginning our “Freedom Box” tradition when K turned 10, we were ready to come up with her next freedom at the age of 11.

We decided to allow her the “Freedom to Accessorize”.  This includes choosing her earrings, scarves, shoes (heels!), and other accessories.

Before giving this freedom, we had to ask ourselves a few important questions:  Were we OK with dangling earrings?  double ear piercings?  nose rings?  belly button rings?  heeled shoes?

All of these things fall under accessories and we had to consider the “worst case” scenarios because we couldn’t take back the freedom when she turned 16 or 17 and started considering some of these other things….even at 13 or 14.

We decided to go ahead with it!  We were going to be just fine regardless of what “worst case” might come along.

We gave her a letter explaining how proud we were of her.  We told her how impressed we were with her creative jewelry making all year.  Then we explained the new area of her life that she is allowed to control:  accessories!


Every year, our desire is to purchase a gift that is representative of the freedom.  If she didn’t already have her ears pierced, this would have been the perfect time.  Instead, we purchased her a keepsake necklace with her name and birthstone.



Then I took her to Cameron Village to my favorite jewelry store: Hand Picked.  She was allowed to pick out her own pair of earrings from the store.  Then we grabbed some dinner at “The Flying Biscuit”. 

Here she is in her pretty new dangly earrings.


Since then, she also picked wedge heel sandals as her Easter shoes!  Yep, she is working her new freedom this year!


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