Jul 312016
 
Scene: The Byrd Theater, Richmond, Virginia, midnight.

Scene: The Byrd Theater, Richmond, Virginia, midnight.

After watching her children fill their summer reading logs with Harry Potter, the Briggs Mother scours the closets for Harry Potter-ish clothing, having a bit of luck that last year’s Halloween costumes included 2 Harry Potter characters.

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The Briggs children reluctantly slip into their costumes and are excited by the prospect of being out so late at night. The family loads into the minivan and drives south to Richmond, Virginia during an exciting thunderstorm. Heavy rain falls as thunder and lightning enliven the night sky. Along a country backroad, they encounter a black and white owl (Hedwig perhaps?), frogs are hopping in the puddles and deer hide in the meadows.

They arrive in Richmond just before midnight. The storm has stopped. At the Byrd Theater, a line of people stretches around the block. The crowd is full of Harry Potter fans, some in costume and some wearing more subtle costumes like Quidditch team T-shirts. As the children take their place in line, someone calls out from the crowd, “You are winning at parenting!” People walking by stop to chat with us and admire the costumes.

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A few people have these realistic looking stuffed owls.

A few people have these realistic looking stuffed owls.

If they are nice, they might even let you hold it for a minute.

If they are nice, they might even let you hold it for a minute.

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As midnight approaches, the Chop Suey bookshop owner appears in wizard robe and hat and counts down. 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 .. . . the crowd erupts in cheers and bookstore workers cut open the boxes and start distributing books. Everyone starts reading in line.

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After a while, the Byrd Theater opens its doors and people stream in. The theater is a gorgeous historic gem, complete with velvet seats, curtains, paintings and carvings on the walls, a balcony and a piano and harp in the wings.

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The crowd settles in and after a short wait, a rotation of attendees begin reading from the first act of the book. The Briggs daughters listen to the performance, following along in the book. The youngest Briggs is too excited by the theater and runs through the empty back seats the entire time. The Briggs Mother follows closely behind.

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As the reading ends, people begin streaming out of the theater. The youngest Briggs daughter asks to purchase one of the delicious cupcakes being sold in the lobby. The Briggs Mother agrees to get one to share and as the daughter is selecting her cupcake, the cupcake purveyor inquires, “Would you like to try our sorting hat cupcake?” “Oh yes!” the Briggs daughter replies and is rewarded with a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting.

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The family piles back into the minivan for the drive home with the oldest brother sulking that he wants his own cupcake. Everyone tastes the rich, gooey confection and discovers that the center appears to be peanut butter filled.

“Hufflepuff!” comes a cry from the backseat.

END SCENE

 Posted by on July 31, 2016 General Tagged with: , , , ,
Sep 012015
 
Memory full...an appropriate description!

Memory full…an appropriate description!

When I look back at summer 2015, this is the picture that describes it best. That moment at the swimming pool when I was incapable of capturing even one more shot of my adorable baby smiling, my children progressing in their swimming lessons. It has been a full, fun summer . . . . and I am in absolute shock that it is almost over!

Wasn’t it just yesterday when we were headed out to swimming lessons in the rain?

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And what about those July nights hanging out watching fireworks while eating barbecue.

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Has art camp really come and gone?

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I can just see my children lecturing me.

Mom, that was a long time ago!

Many birthdays ago.

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Several teeth ago.

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Pounds and inches ago.

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Adventures ago.

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Daring adventures ago.

There was a lot about pushing our limits this summer.

There was a lot about pushing our limits this summer.

Mothers always want to slow things down, to savor the time. Children are always eager to see what happens next.

And so it goes in our house.

It is time for change again.

The school year (and homeschool year) is ready to start again.

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The first leaves are changing.

The tulip poplar is the first to show its fall colors.

The tulip poplar is the first to show its fall colors.

I’m not ready yet!

I don’t think I will ever be ready to let this summer go.

More organization posts to come but first I have a story to tell you.

 Posted by on September 1, 2015 General Tagged with: , ,
Jun 062015
 
It's watermelon season!

It’s watermelon season!

On a hot, humid summer day, there is nothing more refreshing than a slice of ice cold watermelon!

The organizational problem with watermelon, however, is that it is so large and takes up a lot of space in the fridge. If you are a watermelon fan, it’s time to make some space. Clear out a spot in your fridge and designate it your “watermelon spot.” Ideally, place it at about eye level so that every time you open the fridge for a snack, it is the first thing you see.

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In addition to being delicious, watermelon is a great source of the antioxidant lycopene that can serve as an internal sunscreen in addition to its other health-giving properties!

Another way to solve your watermelon space problems--mini watermelons!

Another way to solve your watermelon space problems–mini watermelons!

My children loved these "cute" sized watermelons.

My children loved these “cute” sized watermelons.

We are aiming to eat watermelon every day during the summer as part of our healthy eating goals.

Have a watermelon tip or favorite watermelon recipe? Please share in the comments.

 Posted by on June 6, 2015 General Tagged with: , ,
Jul 022014
 
These guys were hanging out in our front yard one evening.  It is unusual to see so many bucks together.

These guys were hanging out in our front yard one evening. It is unusual to see so many bucks together.

In my last post, I mentioned my summer “unscheduling,” but did not realize exactly how unscheduled I was about to become in terms of my blog.

Part of my blogging absence has been having too much to do in my “real” life.

We are making good use of the library.

We are making good use of the library.

The girls had a dance recital.

The girls had a dance recital.

There is no shortage of tasks to be done in the garden.

There is no shortage of tasks to be done in the garden.

Inside as well, everything is getting a thorough scrub.  Here: I am setting off an explosion of OxyClean on my stairs.

Inside as well, everything is getting a thorough scrub. Here: I am setting off an explosion of OxyClean on my stairs.

In the middle of all this activity, life happens too, including a sudden blackout for about 7 hours one evening.  We were grateful for the crank-flashlights that never run out of batteries.

In the middle of all this activity, life happens too, including a sudden blackout for about 7 hours one evening. We were grateful for the crank-flashlights that never run out of batteries.

June was also a time of many celebrations.  We celebrated Father's Day. . . .

June was also a time of many celebrations. We celebrated Father’s Day. . .

We celebrated birthdays with our friends.

We celebrated birthdays with our friends.

 . . . and we celebrated our wedding anniversary (complete with fireworks provided by an exceptionally timed early 4th of July celebration in our county).

. . . and we celebrated our wedding anniversary (complete with fireworks provided by an exceptionally timed early 4th of July celebration in our county).

In addition, we finished up the required subjects for our homeschool curriculum and administered standardized tests and are beginning some home improvement planning as well.

What a month! I can’t believe it is July already! This summer “vacation” business is hard work!

Hope you are enjoying your summer so far! Thanks for indulging me in a much-needed break.

 Posted by on July 2, 2014 General Tagged with:
Sep 052013
 

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It’s back to school week and this week we are adjusting to the new demands of our homeschool schedule. This month I will be devoting to educational topics as there are certainly a lot of organizing challenges that go along with school. But first, I wanted to briefly recap summer’s blog posts.

As with last summer, my children and I were busy traveling and participating in various camps and educational opportunities. Last summer, I had a great time with all these activities but simply found it too overwhelming to blog about any of it. This year, while I wasn’t able to keep to any predefined schedule, I did manage to blog about the interesting things we have seen. I am glad to have this as a record for our family and glad that many of you have commented that you were interested to hear about these adventures as well! I also learned on Twitter yesterday that Virginia set tourism records in 2012. It will be interesting to see if this holds for 2013 as well.

This summer was packed with various birthday and other celebrations for our family. While most of these events did not hit the blog, I shared with you the simple Father’s Day cards we sent this year. Having some simple, non-stressful homemade crafts up your sleeve is one of the best skills to develop as a mom and these cards definitely fall in that category. From the many amazing aunts and grandparents I have and have been fortunate to have, I have learned that taking time to remember all these small events–even when you are tremendously busy yourself– means so much more to the recipient than you will ever know. So, if you are one of those people who faithfully sends Facebook birthday greetings or emails or even snail-mailed cards during the holidays, and you aren’t sure if it is worth the bother, allow me on behalf of the universe to say that it has made a world of difference to someone to be remembered so kindly and thank you for your efforts!

I posted about our family room flooring project, replacing carpeting with stained-to-match hardwood flooring. Over the summer, as we did some entertaining in our home, we received several positive comments on how this project turned out. We are still allowing the floor to cure at the moment but are making grand plans for moving back in around Christmastime.

I gave a report of my first time ever visit to the homeschool convention sponsored by HEAV. I continue to benefit from so much of the advice and information I received there. I would highly recommend that any homeschooler ensure they are attending a conference like this once a year.

I also gave a report of my visit to the National Gallery of Art exhibit on Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes. While you may or may not see a connection between the arts and organizing, I find the arts a tremendous source of inspiration. I also hope that my small efforts in blogging may encourage more people to incorporate more art into their own lives. In a prior post, I wrote about our visit to The Washington Ballet’s spring performance at TheARC.

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This post was favorite-d and retweeted by The Washington Ballet on Twitter and I also was enormously thrilled to receive this comment on the post by one of the young male dancers in the show.

Yesss thanks for the compliment on my Technique nd how i was a standout

I reviewed the fantastic book and pattern book companion for The Broken Circle: Yarns of the Knitting Witches by knitter and author Cheryl Potter. Ms. Potter left a kind comment for me:

Thank you for taking the time to read my book and write a review. I love hearing what readers think of The Broken Circle and the patterns that go with.
Cheryl

It is one of the great rewards of a blogger to receive a comment like this. Authors and prospective authors, please take note that you can earn yourself tremendous goodwill by trying to comment, Tweet, etc. with appreciation for each positive review. I continue to be enamored of the Skye’s Traveling Cloak pattern from her book. Over the Labor Day weekend, Ms. Potter had a terrific yarn sale going on in her Potluck Yarn Shop and I picked up some amazing hand-dyed yarn from her Potluck Yarn collection to make it with.

In other comment news, it was fun to get a comment thread going on my old post about topiaries. A reader commented with a question about how to read Mike and Marliss Stribbling. Mike Stribbling himself commented:

We do not have a website but if you need info on Topiary drop us a line and we will give you all the help you need within 24 hours

Behind the scenes, I connected the reader with Mike’s email address. If spam weren’t such an enormous problem, I would post it here for everyone. Mike sent me a nice note that he enjoyed my post as well. It’s always fun to see how people connect with words that you have written.

So, while we still have 16 days until summer officially ends, we, like most families, are transitioning into a fall mode at the moment. This month will give you a little peek into how school works in our house as well as share some clever education ideas from others and discuss how our routines in general are changing with the seasons. Hope you enjoy!

 Posted by on September 5, 2013 Monthly Recap Tagged with: , , , , , ,