So it sounds like some of you want to know my what my favorite books are. Well, that time has come. I shall dedicate this WHOLE post to books (which was kinda the point). Alright, lets get to it.
1. Harry Potter 1-7 By J.K. Rowling
No need to describe it, it's already well known.
2. Jurrasic Park By Michael Crichton
Not for kids because it has some cussing and velociraptors trying to kill everyone throughout.
3.The Inheritance Cycle By Christopher Palolini
Basicaly Eragon book 1,2,3,4.
4. Percy Jackson and the Olympians series/The Hero's of Olympus series By Rick Riordan
If it's Rick Riordan, it has to be good.
5. Seven Wonders Series By Peter Lerangis
These kids have to go to the seven wonders of the world to save themselves from a cancer that is good and bad.
6. The Hobbit By J.R.R. Tolkien
Basically the prologue to The Lord Of The Rings.
7. Septimus Heap Series By Angie Sage
Lots of magic in this, very good.
8. The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
A kid summons a demon to get back at a mean magician (dont worry, theres nothing demonic about it. It's magic type stuff)
9. Robot Wars By Sigmund Brouwer
The title's a mislead. There's one robot and it fights no one.
10. Goosebumps R.L. Stine
There's like a million of these. a good scare sometimes.
So ya thats all my faves! Thanks for reading! I hope to do it again. See ya'll later.
And a note from the critics mom: I honestly can't keep up with Cole when it comes to reading, so I don't even attempt to pre-read his books for content. In general though, anytime Cole wants to make a new book purchase, I look up reviews for it first on Common Sense Media, which has helped us choose some pretty good books so far. Oh, and we buy most of Cole's books books used through Amazon. (He decided awhile back that he wants to collect hard-bound books, and those just get way too spendy unless we can find them used.)
Ross took that photo. (He and his roomate are taking my current online class.)
When I saw it, I just sat there staring at it for a few minutes without a single word or thought in my head.
There were just feelings.
Feelings about that boy who still belongs to me even though he's 21 years old.
Feelings about that boy who not too long ago, decided he wants to learn about photography from his mom.
Feelings about that boy who calls on the phone and makes my whole day better.
Feelings about that boy who made me who I am.
Feelings about that boy who created a mighty-powerful image for his Week 1 Assignment.
And then I sent him an email that may or may not have contained a curse word to help convey my excitement.
And even now, as I'm trying to think of words that might make this blog post somehow worth reading, I just keep finding myself staring at this photo without sufficient words or thoughts coming to mind.
Josh had planned on riding bikes to dinner with the kids on Sunday night so I could have some quiet time in the house to work.
As the day progressed though, I found myself thinking more and more about giving up my afternoon of productivity in lieu of an afternoon with my family.
And in the end, spending the afternoon with my family won out...
Within minutes of hitting the bike trail though, I realized I had grabbed the wrong lens. (I brought my 35mm, but should have brought my 85mm since having a longer lens would allow me to more successfully blur the backgrounds of all those stark, scragly trees on the bike path and because it would also allow me to get close-up shots of my kids, even when they were riding their bikes far ahead of me.)
On the bright side though, sometimes bringing the wrong lens can force you to get creative.
You know...That whole, "necessity breeds ingenuity" thing.
And though it may have bred a bit of ingenuity, it also created a few near-collisions while I tried simultaneously to photograph my kids and ride my bike. (Having such a short lens meant that I had to have my front tire dangerously close to their back tires in order to get the shots I wanted.)
So sometimes I just made them stop for a second so I could get their picture (and they were happy to oblige, because they're cool like that.)
I have no clue why there's so much pinching going on these next few shots.
And then Yans took off her long sleeved-shirt to show me her guns. (I made her wear a long-sleeved shirt and jeans to prevent the skinned-up elbows that have seemed to curse all of the newly-off-of-training-wheels bike riders in our house.)
And then she just kept hamming it up, so I just kept shooting.
Meanwhile, across the parking lot - there was a tragic accident. (I laughed so hard I could barely take this next photo.)
And then we had pizza (Didn't take any photos though.) and made our way home.
And more times than I can count, in-between listening to Annie sing, "Let it Go" while her little legs peddled relentlessly during the 8-mile round-trip and laughing at how Cole's old, rusted bike was making screaching noises that sounded like 1000 baby birds waiting to be fed, I found myself praying and feeling the kind of thankfulness that I never seem to find until I force myself to slow down and actually spend time focusing on each and every thing I have to be thankful for.
I never really gave much thought as to why, but in retrospect, I'm sure it's because the cute, retro-style bike that her mom fell in love with and bought a few years ago, weighs more than she does.
But on the last night I spent visiting my friend, Rachel in Texas (The same night I was starting to feel painfully homesick.) Josh texted a video to me titled, "Our last, first-time bike rider!"
I watched the whole thing, even though it was shot with an iPhone at dusk, making it impossible to really see anything more than the faint silhouette of my youngest kiddo, riding back and forth in the road out in front of our house on what looked like Cole's, old Spiderman bike.
But I could hear Josh saying, "Go Annie, pedal, pedal, pedal....Yaaaaaaa, you're a bike rider!"
It made me cry.
It made me (irrationally) irritated at my husband for encouraging her to ride a bike with no training wheels for the first time when her mom wasn't even home to see it.
It made me (irrationally) mad at myself for being in Texas.
It made me realize (just like Josh) that we'll never have a first-time bike rider in this house again.
The next day after I got home, she and Josh made sure I got to see her ride, but it was late and I was tired so I didn't grab my camera.
And I've heard her riding it a few times since when the weather permitted and when Josh was working outside - but I was always upstairs in my office, with what felt like way too much work on my hands to go and watch.
But I'm right, smack-dab in the middle of reading, Hands Free Mama right now.
I don't have problems with disconnecting from my cell phone (The technology of an iPhone is wasted on me.) or social media, (I never got connected in the first place.) but I do have BIG problems with knowing when to step away from work.
I always have, because I've always based my self-worth on my work ethic.
But the book talks about making a choice to disconnect from the busyness of life and all that busyness costs us, so that we can connect with those things that matter most.
Thankfully, the book doesn't talk about making a one-time, monumental change, but instead, talks about making small, daily, sometimes 60-seconds at a time kinds of choices that accurately reflect who and what you value most.
So on Saturday, just as the stress from my I-shouldn't-be-working-on-weekends-but-I-have-a-deadline-to-meet-mentality was about to send me over the edge, Annie came running inside the house and asked me to come watch how good she had gotten at turning her bike. And just as I found myself starting to fake a smile and say, "How about later Yans, I'm swamped with work right now?", I decided instead to make a 15-minute choice that accurately reflected who and what mattered most to me...
And as I followed her around the neighborhood, all I could think about was how the work and the dishes and the laundry and the appointments and the obligations were always going to be here.
But my seven year-old daugher won't.
Because next month she turns eight, which doesn't sound so little anymore.
And next year she turns nine, which means my time with her will be halfway done.
And though it makes my stomach hurt to think about it, I'm not even guaranteed that much time.
So tonight, I'm going to ride my bike into town for dinner with my family.
That usually means a trip to the book store for a gun or a hot-rod magazine, and then burgers & fries at Jasper's. (Us girls are not allowed at Jasper's because the men in our house have claimed it for their own, but that's quite all right with us because we can think of lots of other dining establishments that we prefer anyhow.)
This particular man-date also included plans to go see a war-movie Josh had been wanting to see.
Not to be outdone, Yans and I started planning our own date. (No Courtney Lee - she was at her mamas.)
That meant a quick trip to the grocery store for snacks. (Didn't take any photos in there.)
A quick photo in the rearview mirror.
Dinner at the Texas Roadhouse. (Annie likes their rolls just as much as the rolls at the other Roadhouse in town, but I decided I like the salads better at the Texas Roadhouse, so that's where we went.)
Some great conversation. (That girl says things that make me forget I'm talking to a seven year-old.)
A brief ballad to her broccoli.
A quick trip to the restroom.
And since we still had a few minutes to kill before going to see our own movie, we decided to stop by Old Navy (because all of Annie's pants have recently become high-waters.)
Ultimately, we ended up leaving with two new pairs of jeans, two $3 t-shirts, and a new jean-jacket for Yans and three new items (pajama pants) for my at-home, work-attire.
And then we headed to the cheap movie theater in town and parked next to Josh's truck. (Their movie started 10 minutes before ours.)
And then we got settled close to the screen to watch Frozen in 3-D. (I can't believe what a powerful message this movie packs - especially for us girls.)
And I sat there, eating snacks and listening to Annie belt out each and every song, while she ran her fingers through my hair. (She made her own Playlist on Spotify that includes the entire soundtrack of Frozen.)
Makes me wish that parenting these three little kids collectively was as easy and enjoyable as parenting them individually.
Sounds like there's a few of you who want to know how to play A-Hole.
Well first off, it's a drinking game.
I'd like to say it would be equally fun without alcohol...But it wouldn't.
Also, if your family is anything like my family (Loud & Unrefined, Amen.) then you'll want to turn on a movie in another room for all of the Under-21'ers. (Increase the volume accordingly, based on how loud & unrefined your family is.)
As far as the rules go...I'm sure that different people play it different ways, but here's what my family does:
We deal out a deck of cards so that everyone has an equal number.
Aces are the highest number in the deck.
2's are wild.
3's let you clear all the cards off of the table. (You don't take the cards - they're just out of play for the rest of the game.)
For the first round, you just sit wherever you want and no one is assigned any titles. You just pick one person to go first and then each person after them has to play a card that is equal to or higher than the last card played.
So if the person before you played a 4 for example, then you could play a 4 as well, or something higher than a 4. Also, if you had two, three or four of a certain card, you could play all of them at once, as long as they are equal to or higher than the last card played. So again, if the last person played a 4, you could play three 4's or two 5's or four 6's, etc. If the person before you played two 4's for example though, you do not have to play two cards - you can play a single card if that's all you've got.
The goal being to get rid of all of your cards first.
The first person out is President in the next game.
Second person out is Vice President.
Last person out is A-Hole.
Then, for the second round, you sit in the order that you went out, with President and Vice President at the head of the table.
Anyone that went out ahead of you can tell you what to do.
Anyone that went out after you has to do whatever you tell them to do.
Everyone gets to tell the A-Hole what to do. In our family, that means the A-Hole pours drinks, gets snacks, picks cards up off the floor, and all sorts of other demeaning tasks.)
The President is the only person who can make a rule though (usually with the assistance of the Vice President.)
My family's favorite rules seem to be:
- If you're playing, you have to stay the night.
- A-Hole has to wear an A-Hole hat to indicate his status in the game.
- No one can use the words 'drink,' 'drank,' or 'drunk.' If you do, you have to drink.
- No one can use anyone's first name. If you do, you drink.
- If someone puts their thumb on the table, everyone else has to put their thumb on the table. The last person to put their thumb on the table has to drink.
- If someone puts their hands behind their head to look like moose horns, everyone else has to put their hands behind their head to look like moose horns. The last person to put up their moose horns has to drink.
Basically, if anyone breaks a rule instituted by the President, they have to take a drink. (If you're smart like me and my Aunt Alicia, you start filling your cup or bottle with water by the 3rd or 4th round - and no one else will even notice on account of how much they've already been drinking.)
All rules remain in place for the duration of the game unless the next ruling President bans the rule.
After every round, you change seats based on the order you ran out of cards in the last game.
Seriously, some of my best memories with my family have been made playing this game. (One year, we were on a houseboat and the only way my Aunt Alicia would agree to keep playing past 2:00 a.m. was if every single person went off the slide on top of the boat and into the water, which we all did.)
And some more photos from a few years back....
That's Jesse Ray and Sammy (before he grew his hair out like Jesus.)
The A-Hole hat.
My grandpa (who was not playing) and Ross (who was not old enough to play at the time.)
The new and improved A-Hole hat.
Totally blurry, but I love that shot of my Aunt and Sammy.