Monday, October 19, 2015


Well, it's been a week of ups and downs, the ups being our lovely visit from Greg and Jessica and family. I'm hoping to do a post on that soon. We loved having them here in our home, loved visiting with them, and loved sharing our beautiful state with them as well. We're so appreciative that they would come visit us like that, especially with all the sacrifice it entailed - traveling with 3 little kids on a red eye and driving to us from JFK in New York! It was a lot of fun to spend time with them. We love sibling visits! I'm grateful for my brothers-in-law and my sisters-in-law.

While they were here, the fridge and freezer both went on the fritz. That was fun. After moving all the frozen foods to the outside freezer (thank goodness for that!), the fridge started feeling warm/not cool. Eventually Mark looked some stuff up and figured out how to take out the panel at the back of the freezer and see if the fan was frozen - which it was - and he was able to fix it or at least have it hold over a bit longer until we can afford to buy a new one. More on that in a bit.

Kate works weekends mostly, but she also works 4 additional weekdays during the school year around this time of year, so that translates to a couple of work weeks in a row that look like this: Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday. And around that we have our usual school, volunteering, work, appointments, errands, etc. stuff, so it gets kind of crazy.

Yesterday (uhhhh, I started writing this on Friday), between various work schedules and appointments and a generally crazy day, we drove over 100 miles even though we didn't ever go farther than 10-20 miles from home. It was harried to say the least.

The kicker is that we're saying "no" to more this year. We're actively trying to not do as much as we usually do. And somehow, it all feels crazy. Part of that is just how it is as kids get older. Needs/activities/jobs are different as they age. When they were little, we could just stay home and play trains and restaurant and that was a full day! It's different now. And we're not even what many would call an over-programmed family. I can hear snickering from behind my computer here, but it's true. As far as regular weekly activities go, they each have one (Kate has violin and Max has taekwondo). The other things are either something they share (like a volunteering shift) or a twice a month art class or a thing here and there. It's just that those things here and there add up.

And honestly? What a wonderful thing! We have a rich, full life full of amazing opportunities and get togethers and fun. We're so lucky! We're also a bit tired. :) All of us like seeing a stretch of days on the calendar with nothing on them. We love evenings where we can make dinner together and then watch our TV shows as a family. Love those nights!

And, during that day of running around yesterday (Thursday), we had an especially frustrating interaction with the bank that is working on our refi. Yep, the refi hasn't happened yet. But wait, didn't you start this process back in July/August, you ask? Why yes, yes we did. We did our research ahead of time and as soon as we settled on the farmhouse (8/31 - rescheduled from a week before that), we didn't waste time and we got to the bank to get the process started. Based on what they said, it would take a couple of weeks. We were hoping it would be done before our annual trip to the beach. It wasn't. We almost didn't go (because psychologically, we wanted this refi done before going), but I'm glad we did.

Well, here we are almost 2 months later and it's not done yet. I got aggravated and said, "This is absurd." We qualified for our new house while owning our farmhouse and not having our rental occupied. Now, we've sold our farmhouse and we have a 3-year tenant in our rental and we've put the money from our farmhouse into our new house. This shouldn't be this difficult! We called several times and they said it was in process and sometimes takes a while, we're a weird case (self-employed, no W-2s), yadda yadda.

So, our customer service representative liaison person pulled up our credit yet again and walked through everything bit by bit. She sees a big amount of debt and asks what it is. Student loans. "Well, could you just get rid of that?" What PLANET is she on? "Just get rid of that??" Sure! Why didn't I think of that?!? I'll just dig in my couch cushions and pull out tens of thousands of dollars in coins and just knock that right out of there. Silly me.

Once she figured out that, no, we cannot "just get rid of that," she asked about another big debt owed that she saw. Guess what it was! No, guess! Nope. Nope. Nope. (You won't guess this). Our mortgage on the farmhouse! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I'll go ahead and wait for that to sink in . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . you know, the one WE PAID OFF WHEN WE SOLD THE HOUSE SIX WEEKS AGO.

Even though the bank pulled our credit information a full week AFTER we sold the house, it hadn't yet updated that part for some unknown reason and it looked as if we still owed quite a bit of money and that was hurting our debt to income ratio. I was LIVID! What moron didn't spot that?!? Furthermore, what moron didn't think to ASK, "Hey, why do they have an outstanding mortgage here?" LIVID! And even after they figured that out (when we told them what they'd screwed up) and apologized profusely, they continued to sort of nickel and dime us on things to get this thing approved. Are you kidding me?!? They should be bending over backwards and giving us cupcakes while singing us an "I'm sorry" song IN HARMONY, not making us jump through more stupid hoops.

And what really galls me is that we're not in a position to say, "You screwed this up and we're going to another bank" while flouncing on our heels. They have the best rate, hands down. The best deal. And now that they've pulled our credit, going somewhere else and trying again would hurt our credit score. We need and want this to go through. Like 6 weeks ago.

And while we wait and wait and wait some more for this to go through (hopefully this week), we're paying for things in cash and trying not to use our credit cards for much of anything, because even those charges right now - charges that we WILL pay off when the statement comes - affect us. And that is when the fridge decides to break and also when I look out my bedroom window today and see this for the 5th time this summer/fall:

Yep, that's Mark jumping his car. Again. To get it to run so he can get to work. It is so time to upgrade his car. It has been for quite some time. But every time we think about doing it, other stuff comes up. And hey, it runs! We're entering year 18 of owning that Saturn. Go us! This car situation. And the fridge situation. They will get addressed once this refi happens. And I hope it's soon.

So, in summary, Blergh. And roar. And ugh.

But also, Yay! And Huzzah! And Woot! Because even with all this financial stress stuff and the busyness of life, there are those rays of sunshine and goodness. And this past week, it came in the form of a really nice family visit. I am LOVING getting our kids together with their cousins and uncles and aunts like this. We don't have extended family near us like so many do, but when family comes to visit, there are those few special days when you feel less alone, more supported, a little strengthened. And I think we needed that. The reminder that we're part of something bigger than ourselves - a group, a community, a family. And the reminder that we are not alone. It's a little sad and lonesome whenever guests leave, but for those days that they're here, it's something special.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Random Thoughts - Fall 2015 Edition

If "choosing good friends" is so important for teens and adults,
(and I truly believe that it is)
 because their behavior and choices tend to influence us,
 that certainly applies for little kids, too.
I don't think we can easily dismiss the qualities
 and characteristics of those we choose to spend our time with.


Our family went outside yesterday after 10:30pm
and we all laid down on blankets in our driveway
and looked up at the sky to watch the blood moon
and lunar eclipse. We watched in wonder,
ate snacks together, and laughed and joked while we talked.
I love these moments. They are the best.

As a homeschooling family,
we often travel to neighboring counties for various educational,
fun, and social events and opportunities.
We've taken to listening to podcasts together
and we really enjoy that.
Our favorite show to listen to (especially Max)
is NPR's "Wait, Wait. Don't Tell Me."
Our next favorite is probably NPR's "Pop Culture Happy Hour."
(And I would LOVE that job - being a podcaster/writer for that show).
We also listen to the TED Radio Hour, 
Dear Hank&John, Fresh Air, Radiolab, etc.
There are 3 houses for sale around us.
We live on a corner and the houses across both streets are both for sale.
And there is one 3 doors down that is also for sale.
It's kind of exciting to get new neighbors!

We got to meet the buyers of the farmhouse at settlement
and they were GREAT. 
While it was bittersweet to sell the farmhouse,
meeting them helped.
 We're excited for them to make their own memories there now.
They are super excited.

There is almost ALWAYS a board game out somewhere
 (and sometimes in multiple places) in our house.
I always walk by and smile.
It's a game all set up and ready to play!
And we love playing together.
We have incredibly supportive friends
 who I can tell truly value our children.
I'm very grateful.
They take the time to truly get to know them,
and they send us information they find
 that they believe our kids would enjoy.
We've learned of writing camps
 thanks to our good friend Sherri
and Kate has enjoyed all of them.
We've learned of educational camps
 and writing opportunities
 and all kinds of things!
A friend of ours sends us information on
 books and authors that Max enjoys,
and also told us about a local game making contest coming up.
Sherri visited us before our trip
 and had made individual packs for both kids
for our flight to CA - how sweet is that?!?
Another friend recently took the time
 to write her alma mater and tell them all about Kate.
The college then wrote Kate to tell her
 and to send her information about their college
and writing camps.
We are VERY grateful for these people
 and all who take the time and energy
 to get to know and love and support our children.
It takes a village.

I love our new house. 
It is FLOODED with light and beauty all around us.
So very grateful for this openness and environment.
We feel like we're enjoying it even more
 with the farmhouse sold! :P

I was thinking today that
 there is an argument to having a bigger house
 and things like stairs.
Ever since we bought our townhouse in 2003,
 we've always had a home with stairs.
It's natural exercise!
It's a small hike to get places, 
so you naturally walk A LOT all day long.
I don't love exercise so this helps. :P
I even have this unspoken game with Scout,
who follows me everywhere.
She is FAST,
 so whenever we're climbing the stairs together,
I always try to race her to the top
(no easy feat!).

We tend to eat a lot of vegetarian meals.
We're not big meat eaters and more and more,
 our cooking is lending itself naturally
 to a pesco-vegetarian diet.
That being said, we're not opposed to eating meat
 (just not lots of it),
and as I type this,
chicken and dumplings are cooking in the crockpot.
Welcome, fall!

We've wanted to talk with a financial planner for years,
but have always been scared off because they charge you
 either a fee or a percentage of your investments
 or a commission, or they try to sell you products (I hate that!).
Well, we're in the process of refinancing our home mortgage
 (now that the farmhouse has sold),
and we found out our local bank
 has a guy who does financial planning
as his job there and there is no fee or percentage
 nor does he try to sell any products.
It's simply one of the things the bank has to offer. Woot!

It has been a busy past few weeks
as we're into the new registration period
 with our homeschool group.
13 new families joined up this year
and many of them are all plugging in so well!
We're thrilled!
Our kids both won pretty great prizes this year
for the library summer reading program.

We got season passes to the Renaissance Faire
 for Christmas this year from Mark's parents,
as well as tickets to some other fun events.
The dinner was great and fun as always!
And the Ren Faire has been AWESOME.
With Kate working there,
it's handy to have the passes
(first year we've ever done this)
and go here and there for shorter bits of time
or for lunch or dinner or a few of the shows or whatever.
Such a fun place and welcoming environment.

I am really wanting to sit down
 and write posts about
the foreign exchange students,
our trip to CA,
and our annual trip to the beach.
I keep meaning to do it, but we've been swamped
between work, the clinic, Kate's work schedule,
the kids' volunteering,
 different social and educational events,
homeschool group registration, etc.
A busy time of year, but a renewing one as well.
Trying not to have palpitations
 when I think of how NaNoWriMo
 and the holidays and Max's birthday
 are all around the corner.
Why does time fly so fast?!?
Homeschooling older kids
 is a very different kind of adventure.
So different than with younger kids.
It's more involved, but there's also so much
 they can do independently.
There is a ton we do together, too,
 because let's face it,
it's fun!
We can talk about so many topics
 and enjoy things together,
like lectures and articles and museums.
They're involved in more, so there is a lot more
enrichment and coordination.
It's work, but it's also awesome
 and I'm grateful we get to do this!

The other night, we had no food made
 and we were resisting
 the ever-strong siren call to eat out.
As much as we LOVE to eat out,
we try to do a lot of cooking at home
 as it helps us save money.
So, we whipped together a PHENOMENAL meal.
Mark and I ran to the store for ingredients
while the kids started chopping and cooking.
Max made a delicious side of cheesy, Mexican rice
(that he created and made up himself),
and Kate made a big batch of homemade apple crisp.
Mark and I got home and made chorizo and potato tacos
with cilantro, chopped onion, and hot sauce.
Our meal was INCREDIBLE.
I love working together in the kitchen!

(Though I must admit that
 cooking at home is so much more
time and mess intensive,
 and sometimes I wonder about the savings.
You do save money, but the HOURS that go into
 shopping, cooking, cleaning up . . . 
it makes you wonder when you're already busy
 with so many other things!).
Our next-door neighbors have kids
 and Max LOVES to go outside and play with them.
It is fantastic to be in a younger neighborhood
 with kids who play outside.
The neighbors often tell us how much they enjoy Max
 and how much their kids love his made-up games.
Well, the mom's parents are often there
 visiting their grandkids
and they are friendly and jolly and warm.
The grandpa is SO kind to us
 and speaks very highly of Max
(which is so nice to hear).
They're often there on weekends
 and we've seen them there after school daily
 to greet the kids when they get off the bus.
Well, now they drive 20 minutes daily
 to be at their house at 6:30am
and they drive their granddaughter
 to school (another 20 minutes away)
every single morning.
And they're not young
 and they have health issues and move slowly,
but always, always, always
 with big smiles on their faces and lots of love
for those kids.

I really want to see the movie "End of the Tour"
with Jason Segel.
It's on limited release right now,
so it's mostly playing at indie theaters
that aren't near us.
Hopefully it gets to more theaters soon,
because the reviews are fantastic.


Friday, September 11, 2015

What Do You Do?

What a loaded question. Lately, Stacy has been talking to me a lot about that question and all of the implications that come with it. It immediately puts a label on someone, which can serve the purpose of categorizing the people we meet, separating them from one another as we try to remember new acquaintances and piece together details that may be important to fledgling relationships. But labels can be dangerous, too.

Labels can pigeonhole us in one another's minds. We go from being an aggregate of qualities, characteristics, experiences, strengths, and all of the things that make us who we are, to a one or two-word title that may or may not (and probably does not) capture even the smallest portion of who we are. And even if it does, those labels and titles mean different things to different people.

Husband, Father, Son, Brother, Uncle, Physician, Acupuncturist--each of these give a glimpse of what I may be, but none of them tell a complete picture. Each of them gives a person a chance to extract meaning related to his or her individual experiences, which may vary from my own interpretation and significance. These subjective thoughts spawn depth in our conversations and shared experiences, but they can be problematic.

All this is a preamble to the crux of my writing here, though. What I'm getting at is that I am married to one of the most interesting and amazing people I know. This is a time of year that can be stressful for a variety of reasons, and to watch her navigate all the crazy twists and turns that is our daily life as of late is nothing short of impressive. Stacy has many titles, but I don't really think any one of them captures all that she is and does.

One of my recent favorite pictures of Stacy, with Scout, her faithful companion

I've always felt so fortunate to be married to my best friend. I don't know what a wife is "supposed" to be, but I can tell you that over the years she has been, among other things:

party planner
hand holder

Easily the best mother I've ever seen in action. The way she constantly makes sure she is being the best mother she can be to our children is inspiring. And as much as she contemplates what makes a great mother, she is equally able to jump right in and "feel" it, too. What is mother? How about:

homeschool group coordinator
menu planner
taxi driver
fashion consultant
hazardous waste engineer

Business Partner
We've owned and operated our business together for almost 8 years. It's been a great experience for us, one that has guided so many of our decisions over that time. Again, it's hard to quantify all that she does to make sure our business is successful. She is and has been all of these things and more:

interior decorator
marketing director
PR director
project manager
custodial staff

And what of all of the titles that don't fit neatly under some other heading?

community organizer
animal trainer
social planner
book club leader

So, Stacy. In all of this I'm trying to tell you that I don't care if there is one label or title that sums up all that you are. In fact, I'm glad there's no one word, because to limit a description of all of your contributions to a handful of characters arranged into some corporate-style title is to completely discount the wonderful, inspirational, beautifully complex, intelligent, gorgeous person that you are. My life is all the better for having you in it, and I hope you know how much you mean to me. I love you.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Not Settling Today

So today was supposed to be our settlement on the farmhouse. Our first time sitting on the seller's side of the table. Our first time receiving a check at settlement instead of paying through the nose. But it's not happening today.

We tried to move it up to yesterday even, so that we can move on with our refinancing of our new house as well as some other things. But nope. It was going to be today. But it's not happening today.

Typically when you accept an offer, the buyer has 30-45 days to pull their lending together. These buyers have had 52 and counting. They are getting VA financing. And they are apparently on round 4 of the VA asking for "more information," where each round takes about 7 days. So settlement has been delayed and it's not happening today.

They thought it might happen tomorrow, but that's not happening either. Then they said to keep the next 7 days open. "Hopefully." We have no idea what's going on and we're so frustrated.

Every day it sits there, it's costing us money. We've financially and mentally prepared to settle this week and the delay to some unknown time is stressing us out so much, we both have physical manifestations from stress.

Our realtor tells us we should be happy (because at least the deal isn't off), not frustrated. Easy for her to say. She gets the same commission either way. Meanwhile our cost keeps going up and up. We're already selling at a loss PLUS giving them closing costs help. And now it's delayed and costing us more. We asked if we can ask for compensation for every day of delay, especially considering the fact that they've had 52 days to do this in the first place. But she said that will only delay things further.

And today, we drove by, as we do, to make sure everything looks good. Well, someone put graffiti on the barn. Again. AGAIN. We've already painted over it once. And now there's a big, black cross spray painted on it. If we'd settled yesterday, this would no longer be our problem. But no, we didn't settle yesterday or today, nor are we settling tomorrow.

We don't know when we're settling, so everything feels like it's in limbo. Everything is up in the air. We don't know how to commit to anything right now. We were supposed to settle and then go up to New England to take the kids to a Portuguese festival. We'd be there right now. But because of all this limbo and waiting, we're stuck. Lost days at work (and remember, no paid vacation for contract work), no chance to get out of town (due to the possibility of settling tomorrow that we just found out isn't happening), and limbo with everything else.

Our realtor (I could write a post about her alone - oh, the aggravation of dealing with people with poor communication skills!) told us to "keep the next 7 days free." Yeah, because that's how life works. We have WORK. We have schedules. We have our own business. We can't just leave our schedule wide open for a full week waiting on the who-knows-when date that they'll be ready to settle.

In the meantime, we hope the feds don't raise rates. Because that would really suck. We've spent the past few weeks visiting banks and talking to lenders to figure out the best way to refinance our new house once we settle on the farmhouse (whenever that is). We're trying to do it before September, but that's not happening now.

I know these are first world problems and we have A TON to be grateful for, there's no question. Clean water. Good health. Beautiful home. Safe neighborhood. Freedoms. That being said, I was thinking yesterday how utterly unfair things have gotten. Our parents generation were able to graduate college and get into a home in their 20s. You didn't need graduate work. You didn't have tens of thousands in student loans. And you could work and qualify and show responsibility and get into a home without jumping through umpteen hoops to prove yourself. You could start your life together!

My parents were debt free (no student loans, no mortgage, no car payments) and living in a paid off home by 40. We were 30 when we bought our first home and even then we entered that mortgage with the additional mortgage of student loans. We've paid off 42% of that debt, so we're almost halfway there. We thought we'd pay them off before our kids start college, but that's clearly not happening, so pretty soon we'll be helping them with college costs while continuing to pay our own.

It wasn't like this a generation ago. We're past the age my parents were when they were debt free and we're nowhere close, and more debt is coming. I can't even imagine being debt free. Given where we are in our 40s, and with our children starting college soon . . . who can do it (besides the 1%)? We don't want our children to deal with these kinds of stressful burdens. We've spent most of our marriage stressed by this sort of thing. We want to be able to help them. And then there's retirement to think about! Gah.

And we're not extravagant in our lifestyle. We have a beautiful home, that's true. We're able to afford it because we live in a place where the cost of living is low. We don't go on big vacations or drive fancy cars. We do stuff on the cheap, go to the beach off season, and drive 17-year-old cars that sputter blue smoke and don't always start. And I am so NOT a spender. I hate shopping and hate spending money and rarely do. We are savers, no question. I continue to wear clothes I bought myself in high school (true story) and I am a master at making leftovers stretch with innovative and delicious meals and sides. Waste is not something we do.

We've made choices that include me not working so that I'm able to be home with our children and homeschool. We walked away from mainstream medicine to start an alternative medicine clinic - a conscious decision to put freedom and flexibility above a big income. We wouldn't change a thing, to be honest. We don't regret a single decision.

I just see how much things have changed in one generation and I worry about our children's generation and how they're going to be able to afford it. The income inequality in this nation is a huge chasm. Breaks for billionaires and struggles for the middle class. Bailouts for the rich and penalties for the poor.

Other countries tax more, it's true, but they also provide healthcare, vacation, and college educations, because those things are valued. It makes sense! Not only is it emotionally and physically healthy, but of course those governments have a vested interest in keeping people healthy - that's their bread and butter! People paying taxes is what keeps their governments running, so it behooves them to keep their citizens healthy and educated. Something has gotten screwed up here where the value is on the almighty dollar and only the very rich are rewarded. This is exactly why Bernie Sanders is speaking to so many people's minds and hearts. We're fed up. Enough is enough.

Okay, that almost took a political turn (Feel the Bern!) and that wasn't my intent. My intent was simply to say it's been a stressful past year plus and though today was going to be a big step in resolving some of that stress, we aren't settling today. We're waiting. Again. And we don't know for how long. And it's so frustrating.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Musical Journey, One Year Later

I was going to write this post a few days ago, before my birthday, but I didn't get it done in time, so here it is, two days later than I had hoped. I'm going to say "better late than never," and you can choose whether or not to believe that.

So, 364 days ago, Stacy gave me one of the best gifts I've ever received. And if you've ever been fortunate to receive one of Stacy's thoughtful gifts, you know what high praise that is. If you've forgotten, here is a recap. She contacted over 40 of my friends and family and encouraged them each to present a gift of music to me as a way to share what they felt was important to them, or would have special meaning to me. I received contributions from my wife and kids, brothers, parents, cousins, grandmother, in-laws, teachers, college and med school friends, and childhood buddies. The variety is amazing. Seriously, you wouldn't believe the eclectic mix that it is. To give you an idea, here is a partial list:

Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros
Richard Marx
Jason Mraz
Patty Griffin
Michael Jackson
Joshua Radin
The Beatles
Weird Al
Civil Wars
Bruce Hornsby
Various American Idol contestants
Flying Colors
Dream Theater
Steve Earle
Bruce Springsteen
Taylor Swift

I had so much fun listening to them all, and I sincerely listened to EVERYTHING. Not only did each of you take the time to pick something personal and specific, but Stacy also put in a tremendous amount of effort to put this together, so I really wanted to finish it all before my next birthday. Thank you again to her and to everyone who contributed. It was a great musical year for me.

I tried to write a personal message to each person who contributed to share my thoughts. I think I actually did, and if I didn't, please forgive me. And then tell me how horrible I am, and I will be sure to share my thoughts.

Now, for some musical discoveries of my own (which sometimes distracted me from the other music I should have been listening to). Consider it a thank you gift.

Dirty Loops

I didn't know what to think of the name, but they were described as having influences from jazz and jazz-fusion, funk, electronica, pop and disco. How's that for genre specific? I discovered them when I was looking up some information about "Forever Young" by Alphaville and saw that this Swedish funk group did a cover. So, naturally, I looked it up. Holy crap! These guys are incredible. They mostly did covers and have a big YouTube following. Then David Foster at Verve picked them up and they're finishing a world tour. Oh, and they have an original album, too.

Listen to this cover and you'll see why I was blown away. The bass player is incredible. The drums are so tight. And the lead singer reminds me of a Swedish Stevie Wonder, in a good way. Seriously, check him out just after his piano solo at the 3 minute mark or so on the first video and then again at the end of the second. He also kind of looks like Harry Connick, Jr. Just sayin'. Enjoy.

(An original from their album)

The Beatles/Beach Boys

Stacy and I saw "Love and Mercy" (mostly for John Cusack) and were blown away. First of all, the acting and story were incredible. I thought we'd get a healthy dose of beach music era Beach Boys (which may have tried my patience--apologies to my father, but it's the truth), but we were treated to both a complex, poignant portrait of Brian Wilson and the demons he dealt with through the years (both metaphorical and literal), as well as an intimate look at his creative genius and process as he worked on the "Pet Sounds" album. (As an aside, one of the most inspiring aspects of the movie was watching Melinda Ledbetter, who later became Brian's wife, help him start to break free from the psychological prison Dr. Eugene Landy had put him in.)

In the movie it mentions that Wilson was inspired by "Rubber Soul," and in turn, The Beatles were inspired by "Pet Sounds," which spawned "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

So, being shocked at these revelations, I did what any music lover would do. I listened to "Rubber Soul," followed by "Pet Sounds," and then finished with "Sgt. Pepper's." Do it. Song by song. It's an insightful musical journey.

This isn't on any of those albums, but the song stuck with me for weeks after the movie. Another gift to you. You're welcome. ;)

Monday, August 24, 2015


We're definitely noticing that we have teens. In part because they're getting taller. In part because they're outgrowing clothes and shoes left and right. In part because I can't even remember how long it's been since we've asked for a kids' menu. In part because Mark and I are able to go on dates knowing that the kids are old enough and mature enough and skilled enough to handle being home by themselves. In part because in a matter of months, we'll have a 16 year old and a 13 year old. Seriously.

But mostly, I think, it's because of how much more running around we're doing for various activities, opportunities, jobs, internships, and social gatherings. There is a natural uptick that happens in a family's activity level as well as the scribbles on the family calendar when your kids get older and we are feeling it for sure.

Here, in no particular order, is a spattering of various things our teens have been doing these past several months (and I'm trying to save, for their own posts, most pictures from our CA trip and from having foreign exchange students here).

That uptick? These pictures show it. Our calendar shows it. Our odometer shows it. :P My at-times frazzled brain shows it. How quickly we fall asleep when our heads hit our pillows? That shows it, too. It's a full, exciting, wonderful life, that's for sure.

Kate, at her internship at our local indie bookstore - SUPER exciting for her!

Games, games, more games with Max's good friend Aaron
A day around town as a group of fun teens

Dressing up at the Ren Faire! Isn't he handsome?!?

These girls became fast friends at writers' camp! SUCH a great time!
A great week at chess camp with a very nice instructor

These girls had A LOT of fun around town together

My handsome boy - so sweet.

So many games :)

Kate, doing a reading at writers' camp
S'mores with friends!

Friends at writers' camp

Writing, writing, writing

Having a good time laughing and making s'mores
Cute girl and cute dog

Happy teens!

Beta testing a game design

Kate and Peyton - roommates and friends!
Writer friends!

Max, giving a speech after being presented with his 2nd degree black belt

Working at the Ren Faire!
Patrons at the Ren Faire
Camp counselors together!

Another S'mores night with friends
Off to Writers' Camp - sad to leave Scout

Hanging out at the park
Another fun day around town together with a great group of friends
Super excited to adventure with our monthly D&D group!

Besties on the swings

As Max says, "She's such a TEENager!" :P
Yes. More games!
Hanging out with friends at our town street fair - an annual tradition

And, of course, lots of playing with Jack!

Computer games as a group

Watching something (Gilmore Girls? Movies?) as BFFs

Me and my handsome growing boy!
Fun with Scout!

She makes us so happy!

You guessed it . . . more games
A cute picture of adorable Scout for good measure :)

More D&D
Grand adventuring to be had!

Ready to take our crazy group of adventurers on a campaign

Wii - there was some awesome "Just Dance" dancing going on that day, too!

Hanging out and playing games
Always laughing, these two
With Shannel and Shavon

With Kirsten and Avery

Wii Fun!

Me and my girl

The Rat Girls!

And with Mary and Alena at A's baby shower