5.23.2017

A Decision Has Been Reached

After much thought, we've decided to keep the boys separate for fourth grade.  After thinking putting them together would be lovely, we had a few days of fighting, some competition about spelling tests (despite being in separate classes currently) and a few friendship/playdate issues, I decided that even though having them together would be convenient for me (honestly, that was a big part of it!) I now realize that being apart is best for them.

They need their own friends, their own experiences, and their own relationships with each of their teachers.  They feel good about the decision, and so do I.

In other twin news, I received word a few weeks ago that I am one of the Top 80 twin bloggers.  I am #37, which was a pleasant surprise!  If twins fascinate you like they do me, check out the post to find some new twin bloggers you'd like to follow!

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5.22.2017

The Inspired Readers Book Club Summer Reading Checklist

Fellow Book Lovers!!!

I hope you will consider joining The Inspired Reader's Book Club, a book club I run via Facebook with my "friends" (we haven't met in real life, but that's neither here nor there!) Ashley & Tabitha.  We share a love of baby raising, goal-setting & book reading.  


This summer Tabitha set up a stellar challenge for us:



It gives ten categories, so you can slide in whatever books are on your shelves (or in your hearts) to be read this summer.  I spent Friday morning sorting through what books I will enjoy reading this summer and seeing where they fit on the challenge.  I also threw on some books that I just knew I wanted to read, regardless of whether they were part of the list.

I made a post all it's own (link here) that lists all these books (with Amazon links, where I am now an associate & earn a bit back on your purchases.  Thank you for supporting this blog I love so dearly!) There you'll also find little blurb of what each book is about. I would love if any followers read some of these so we can discuss them together, which is my (totally geeky) favorite thing ever!

We'd love to have you join The Inspired Readers. Simply click over to our Facebook page and click join, and one of us will approve you.  I hope to see you there!

Happy Reading!

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Summer Reading List 2017


The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
I wanted to read this even before I found out Kate Winslet was making a movie out of it.  It's about two people who survive a plane crash together.

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
I wanted to read this after seeing it on so many "Must Read" lists.  Then I found out it was coming out as a movie, starring Rue from Hunger Games and I knew I had to read it!  It's about a girl who is allergic to basically everything.  But for a chance at love, she's willing to risk everything.  Hence the name Everything Everything.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
This is one of the books published the year I was born (1982) and is one I've always wanted to read.

Freakonomics by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner
These authors study the oddities of our society and share real statistics about them.  Totally fascinating.

The Magic of Motherhood by Ashlee Gadd
This beautiful book is like a collection of short blog posts, all about different aspects of motherhood.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
I've heard this is similar to The Fault in Our Stars, which I loved. So I can't wait to dive in!

The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve
If you've been around here for any length of time, you know my favorite-favorite author is Anita Shreve.  I love all her books, even the ones that others say "bombed".  So when I got her newest book as a gift (thank you Linda!) I knew I'd be saving it for one of my Summer Reads.  This one is about a fire in Maine and its aftermath.

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
This book is about a place in England where women keep killing themselves.  Only, are they killing themselves?  A fascinating whodunit, which crosses that section off on my Summer Reading List Challenge.

The Tailgate by Elin Hilderbrand
This is a short story by one of my favorite authors, and for sure my favorite summer author.  This is a sweet little one about a couple who attend different colleges.

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
This book is about getting back to basics in your life.  In mothering, homemaking, friendship & marriage.  It's a vulnerable book and one that speaks to my heart.

The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes
This one is about a time after World War II when girls are keeping their promise to marry their beaus after the war.  One particular ship, HMS Victoria, carries 650 of these brides.  The book tells some of their stories.

America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie
This is the story of Thomas Jefferson's oldest daughter, Patsy Jefferson.  It's about how she discovers her father's affairs and has one of her own.  Looks to be a fun and interesting read.

***Links lead to my Amazon Associates Account, 
where I get a little payback on  your purchases.  
Thank you for supporting this blog I love so much!***

5.21.2017

Best Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies




My all-time favorite MILK chocolate chip cookie recipe:
(You can make it with semi-sweet, but it's MUCH better with milk chocolate chips!)

Preheat oven to 350

2/3 cup MELTED butter
2 eggs
2 cups brown sugar
2 tbsp HOT water
Mix ingredients well

Add:
2 & 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Mix well

Stir in a package of milk chocolate chips
(Ghiradelli LARGE milk chocolate chips are my personal favorite)
Bake 8-10 minutes
Enjoy!

5.20.2017

Screen-Free Week Review

Guys, after I came down with the flu my kids passed (slowly, painfully) one to the other to the other, I came down with something else. It's serious.

Fear of missing out. Or FOMO.

That's what they call it. And actually, it's a condition I have had for some time, but I am just now coming around to having an actual diagnosis.

Here's the thing. I don't have an "real" job, right? I have my whole "stay at home mom" thing, which kind of just means I do all the things and it's not real concrete.  Some days it's laundry & cooking, other days it's class parties and scheduling naps.  Some days it's yardwork and mopping, other days it's doctor appointments and wiping bottoms.

So without meaning to, I took on a job. It's important.  It requires constant supervision, and I can't slack for even a couple of hours or I will get behind and never.catch.up.

I've become a checker.

Well, maybe that's not what I should call it. I'm not like a checker at Walmart who scans your things and gives you a receipt.  I'm an internet-checker...  Only I'm not a tech person.

Okay, I'll just tell you. This job I'm doing, it's Instagram/Facebook-checker, and I don't remember signing on the dotted line, but I will tell you, I have been doing this job with fervor for probably four years now.  (I started with Facebook, and Instagram joined the fray later... but I digress.)

My syndrome (FOMO) caused me to take on this ceaseless, thankless job, and I've been working tirelessly at it ever since.

After participating in Screen Free Week two weeks ago, going (mostly) Screen-Free, I discovered that I feel like I can't just "check into" Facebook or Instagram randomly, I must continue to scroll back until I hit the point where I last logged on, lest I miss (!!!) anything vital (!!!) like who had coffee that morning (!!!) or who read a good book (!!!) and this desire for perfection, while good at a real job, is not good at my fake "checker" job because, like I said, I have actual responsibilities (called all.the.children, and.the.house, and.the.cats, and.the.husband) and my checker job is impeding on my ability to that real job well.

For serious.

Each day as I continued to not check Facebook (I deleted it off my phone and stayed off my computer!) and Instagram (also deleted off my phone for the week) I realized that most of the people I wanted to "check in with" were not people who are a) in my life or b) know that I exist. How weird is that?!? I am DYING to know what these people are doing when I don't even have a relationship with them at all.

I want to actually live.  To smell and see and hear and taste and touch the life all around me.  I don't want to be moving too fast to enjoy it (I am so over being "busy") but I also don't want to be so distracted that I don't really notice life as it's passing me by.


***

And so, if you follow me, or I follow you on Facebook or Instagram, please know that my lack of posts, comments or likes is simply because I am busy living.  Raising these kids, setting some goals & reading some books.  You know, the good stuff!

5.19.2017

Around Here: Week 20















Waking... a little earlier than usual most days this week, which helped me keep my temper and not feel so rushed as we prepared for school.  I also got lunches made ahead of time most days, which was lovely.

Deciding... to do all my jobs without complaining (even internally) this week and selflessly giving in ways that would benefit my family.  I wasn't perfect at it, but I felt so much more positive and fulfilled because of it.

Chasing... Carly all over the world.  Any time she is free, she's-a-going!

Sticking... Carly in her stroller for all.the.things because of her roaming ways.  She is in it when we go to the doctor, when we walk the boys to school, when we take Wyatt to practice or attend the twins' baseball game.  Chasing her just wears me out, and I want to be able to watch the games, so there she sits, stuck as stuck can be, and I wonder, wearily, when she'll stop wandering away from me!

Noticing... little ways that Wyatt is growing up.  This week at school he wouldn't let me wipe his mouth (he had toothpaste on his lip), blow his nose or hug him goodbye. (Cue all the tears!) I also noticed that during his bedtime prayers instead of "Thank you for mommy and daddy" (like he used to always say) he now says, "Thank you for mom and dad."  Pardon me while I sit on the couch crying, tending to my freshly broken heart.  ;)
I am so proud of how far he has come in his independence (getting dressed, doing chores, making his own lunch) and his knowledge (asking Josh last week "I don't know if you'll know the answer to this dad, but how did God make the first humans?" and asking me, "How do we know the center of the earth is that hot?") and his maturity ("I'll just have to wait," when I am taking care of Carly or "I can help!" when he sees me get frazzled in the mornings), but along with his growing there have been a few growing pains (standing to pee means some pee on the floor; saying "mom" instead of "mommy"; and not wanting any public displays of affection).  Thank goodness God knows to make all kids different so I still have three that will hug me anywhere, any time!

Finishing... the bird puzzle I'd been working on. It was a hand-me-down puzzle and I was sad to find it was missing two pieces, although I still enjoyed it.  Also the twins and I finished The Magic Finger, a very short story by Roald Dahl.  They liked it a lot.  I personally finished Anne of Avonlea and The Inheritance this week.

Does anyone else feel like listening to an audio book is cheating? Josh has started listening on the drive to work (he has a 30 minute commute each way) and he recently "read" (listened to) The Great Gatsby and I said I was jealous he read such a great classic and he said it hardly counts since he didn't actually have to read it, just listen. It made me realize I feel the same way. I feel like listening to someone else read to me as I go about my chores is cheating somehow.  So funny.

Although I will say that listening to audiobooks has upped my "books read" list remarkably, and I will hit my Year-Long "24 Book" goal by the end of May. Amazing!  (I use the Overdrive app to check out books from my local library. You add your library using your library ID # and password-- for most libraries it's the last four digits of your phone number-- and then you can check out books to read on Kindle, or audio books to listen to on the Overdrive app itself.  I love it so much!)

Reading... three new books.  Yesterday I started The Magic of Motherhood, which was a gift from my friend Angie with the idea that when I finish, I'll send it along to another mama, who'll send it to another mama, and on and on, creating a village of mama's, all tied together by a book.  I love the idea so much.

I also started Into the Water by Paula Hawkins, who wrote The Girl on The Train, and The Here and Now by Ann Brashares, who wrote The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.  I also made my SUMMER READING LIST (!!!) which I will be sharing sometime next week, along with my recap post about Screen Free Week and a few other I've had sitting my queue.

Enjoying... Mother's Day gifts from my children, and fresh flowers from our neighbor.  Oh, how I adore the smell of lilacs in a vase in my house, and sweet words from those boys I love so much.

Praising... my husband for his amazing home improvement skills.  He was able to take our sprinkler system, which hasn't worked in a few years according to our neighbors, and give it a second life.  He's been digging and plumbing and troubleshooting, and finally, on Sunday, he got the entire system working-- front, side and backyard.  I am beyond impressed!

Thankful... Josh took Wyatt to practice for me Wednesday so I could keep Carly and the twins home for an early bedtime.  The twins have been doing state testing this week at school, so early bedtime has been a must.  I'm also thankful for some new friends who had the twins over all day last Saturday.  It was so luxurious to only have two kids to chase after!

Eating... our first meal in the backyard on our picnic table! Thursday night Josh grilled up some burgers real quick before we had to divide & conquer (he took the twins to their game; and I took Wyatt and Carly to Wyatt's).  Dinner was delicious, and we were all so happy to be eating in the sunshine.  I look forward to many  more meals like that in our future.

Watching... Anne with an E, which had perfect timing seeing as I just finished reading Anne of Green Gables again.

***

5.18.2017

100 Small Things-- May Update

My friends Ashley & Tabitha have long been doing :100 small things" lists for each school year.  I finally decided to join them this year. I wrote my list at the beginning of August.

Here is my two/thirds check in.
I have three months left.
(New accomplishments are crossed off in red)


1. Plant a succulent
2. Make a dirt pit for the kids
3. Clean the windows inside & out
4. Read Brave New World
5. Read Lord of the Flies
6. Blog Weekly Update
7. Register to vote
8. Get WA state license
9. Make pumpkin muffins
10. Make a cobbler
11. Get a vanity for me (I changed my mind!)
12. Buy a desk for the boys (I changed my mind!)
13. Blog twins: separate classrooms
14. Finish reading One and the Same
15. Jamberry my nails
16. Meal plan weekly
17. Buy wool balls for dryer
18. Choose one "grooming" day/week
19. Haircuts every 6 weeks all year 3/4
20. Small group get together
21. Order Home Field. Read it
22. Read When Breath Becomes Air
23. Read What Was Mine
24. Read Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids
25.. Read Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings
26. Read Bird by Bird
27. Read Boys Should be Boys

28. Read The Rocks
29. Read Flight Behavior
30. Read The Shack
31. Read Brain Rules
32. Read Tuesdays with Morrie
33. Read Snow Falling on Cedars
34. Find a doctor
35. Find a pediatrician
36. Find a pediatric dentist
37. Find a chiropractor
38. Follow up with an OB
39. Learn to coupon
40. Meditate everyday for a week
41. Wash kitchen cabinets
42. Read Believing God
43. Read Mindsight
44. Read Don't Let Me Go
45. Read Deception Point
46. Read Iron & Silk
47. Purchase & read Winter Storms
48. Find a dentist for us
49. Read Dave Ramsey's book
50. Find an eye doctor
51. Choose a pharmacy
52. Find a way to display my rock collection
53. Paint the whole house interior 3/5

54. 3 playdates with new friends 3/3
55. Find a Hanford documentary
56. Go over insurance with new insurance lady
57. Workout everyday for a month
58. Walk the boys to/from school
59. Have Paul & Lynn over for dinner
60. Plant a lilac bush
61. Find a used BBQ
62. Sort Holiday decor into totes
63. Don't eat out for 1 month
64. Arrange "Tucker Family" sleepover
65. Establish family move night
66. Establish date night
67. Read Kon Mari. Clean house accordingly.
68. Read aloud chapter books 
69. Make 3 pinterest dinners
70. Plant pansies
71. Make carrot cake from scratch
72. Decorate for Christmas
73. Make a book for Pansy/Jerry's birthdays
74. Write a poem about motherhood
75. Write a poem about twins
76. Write a poem about Logan
77. Write a poem about Jack
78. Write a poem about Wyatt
79. Write a poem about Carly
80. Take a pajama walk after dinner

81. Meal plan monthly
82. Collect Box Tops for school
83. Save toilet paper rolls/paper towel rolls
84. Attend MOPS group
85. Try 3 new parks with the boys 2/3
86. Read old journals
87. Share bits of old journals on social media
88. Decorate master bedroom
89. Deep clean master suite
90. Put contact paper in laundry room (thanks mom!)
91. Spider bomb the house
92. Establish Quiet Time activities
93. Organize kids craft supplies
94. Make blog calendar (monthly) 9/12
95. Have a trampoline sleepover with boys
96. Volunteer in boys' classrooms
97. Buy outdoor chairs (got a picnic table instead!)
98. Read old writing (from jr. high/high school)
99. Make m&m cookies
100. Make a cake from scratch

In the next three months I need to :
Read 15 books
Buy wool balls for the dryer:
(any recommendations? please post links!)
Keep going with haircuts
Plan a small group get together with my girls
Do some couponing
Meditate everyday for a week
Wash kitchen cabinets
 Paint inside the house (kitchen, bathrooms & laundry room)
Have Paul & Lynn over for dinner
Make 3 Pinterest dinners
Make a book for my grandparents
Write a poem for each kid
Take a pajama walk
Keep trying out new parks
Read old journals & stories from my youth
Have a trampoline sleepover with my boys
(37 to go!)

***

5.13.2017

Around Here: Week 19
























Shuffling... through the week, a bit tired (Carly's teething four molars at once & she's been CRAAAANKY!) but thankful for another routine week after all the sickness.  The twins are testing, so we've been strict about bedtime and making sure they get loads of play time in the morning before school so they are happy.  I think the stress is getting to them, and I'll be glad for them to get a break this weekend.

Working... on a bird puzzle that is making me very happy.  It's a long rectangle, so my normal puzzle table is too small & squarish for it. Instead I have commandeered the kitchen table.  Sorry kids!

Luckily we're eating... on-the-go because every night this week we have had either practice or a game for the twins or Wyatt's baseball teams.  For the most part, dinner is the only stressful thing.  Getting everyone fed and out the door on time is challenging.  But yesterday Wyatt had a game in the wind and rain, and let me tell you, it was not fun!  Thank goodness Josh was there to keep Carly happy!

Loving... how helpful the twins are at this age.  Every weekend they help me grocery shop, bag the groceries, load them in the van, unload them when we get home, and finally unpack them at the house.  They also alternate cleaning bathrooms & vacuuming the house every Sunday, which lightens my load tremendously, plus gives them a boost of confidence and some ownership in keeping the house clean.
I am also loving how into rocks Wyatt is right now.  We checked out some earth books, and he checked out a rock book from his school library, so he is very interested in what kind of rocks we have around the house and how they were formed.  I always say if I hadn't been a mother, in another life I would have been a geologist, and his inquisitive mind makes it so much fun to read and learn and explore rocks again.

Laughing... at how our cat Ramona sleeps with her face down in the blankets. It cracks me up!

Trying... to catch the bunny in our yard.  The twins (as well as Wyatt) have come up with some pretty elaborate traps & plans to try and catch the sweet, wild bunny that lives under our shed in the backyard, and hangs out in the shrubs out front... but so far nothing has worked.  That little bunny is smart and quick, so I think catching him is just a pipe dream!

Preparing... for Mother's Day with some handmade cards & pictures for the moms and grandma's in our lives.  As for our family, we don't have any plans, which is fine with me.  Hopefully it'll be a sunny day spent outside working in the yard!
As we spent a day this week making cards for Grandma's, I thought of my friend Brittany's Etsy shop & the cute cards she has there.  If I had been on top of my game, I would have ordered some cards ahead of time to send all the moms we love!

Reading... The Inheritance after finishing The Memory of Water.  I also finished I Survived: The Eruption of Mt. St. Helens.  Up next is Into The Water by Paula Hawkins (who wrote The Girl on the Train).  The twins and I started The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl and they did not want me to stop at bedtime yesterday. I think it will be a quick read, then we are moving on to Tales of  a Fourth Grade Nothing.  I also have The Stars are Fire (thank you Linda!) on my shelf to read, but I think I'm going to wait for a little warmer weather so I can sit outside in the sunshine and read it.  I love having that to look forward to.
I am also reading through the giant stack of children's library books we got at the library last week.  Wyatt loves when I read to him and I'm trying to do it more than just every night at bedtime.  We read a couple books when he got special time with me last weekend while Josh was out of town.  We found two new Tacky The Penguin books we have never read before (Tacky Goes To Camp & Tacky and The Haunted Igloo) that have been a huge hit this week. We also read a book about a sloth trying to escape the zoo and he uses all kinds of simple machines to try and get out.  This prompted days of Wyatt carrying around a Jenga piece and a ruler so he could make a lever and launch whatever he wanted into the sky.  Heads up! if you're in the Cunningham household!

Listening... to Anne of Green Gables and And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman.  Up next is Anne of Avonlea, followed by The Here and Now.  I absolutely love listening to audiobooks on Overdrive.  I listen while I do dishes, fold laundry and walk to and from getting the boys at school.  It brings me such joy!

Watching... Gilmore Girls (starting with Season 1) on Netflix during the day as I go about my chores; and Rogue One (finally!) with the twins while Josh was out of town last weekend.  We all loved it and the boys enjoyed their special time with me while Wyatt & Carly slept.  We also saw Monster Trucks last weekend, which was super cute & unexpected.


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