Tomorrow is Easter,

and we’ve been listening to “A Very Veggie Christmas” since the beginning of December. I have reached the mind-losing point more than once, only to break down  and listen to Olivia belt out “Go Tell it on the Mountain” with Bob once again, and then recite the scene when the Polish Caterer shows up, finally, with the food. (Does anyones else have this cd?)

“I can’t believe it’s Christmas…” those blasted Veggies have sung as we’ve all felt the death grip winter holds on us. No. It’s not Christmas. It has not been for a while.

But I learned something this week: if you play the Christmas music long enough, push through the pain, get over the hump of middle March, even if it does bring snow, eventually you land in Holy Week. And then, well, the soundtrack should be the same. Only sung a bit louder.

I didn’t make it to  our Good Friday service last night. But I did manage to read this article by Phillip Yancey, that resounded with how my faith walks on, specifically in the months since December. Yancey’s words met and prepared me for tomorrow in ways I didn’t even know I needed.

The child in me will always love Christmas, but this adult, the one I’m still surprised to see in the mirror, longs for Easter more each year.

And that whole, integrated, shame-free person I’m striving for? She thinks it makes total sense to right now, tonight, and especially tomorrow, to sing “Joy to the World.”

Happy Easter.

He has risen indeed.

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Favorite Things: Toys and Games and Coloring (and some things my kids like too)

Did I mention I’m thinking of becoming a minimalist? Thinking of it.

In the meantime, I wanted to share some favorite playthings around here. (It’s a process people.) But  I am learning to be mindful of how my kids play and what they really use. Then I only keep those things around. So the following items are favorites that made the cut – beyond the assorted stuffed animals and dolls and endless amounts of scotch tape and cardboard, they play with these products. 

I also have to mention that our makeshift playroom looks an awful lot like a homeschool classroom. When Sophia had all of her world maps hung, a guest actually asked, “Oh…is this where your Mom teaches you school?” Hardly. It’s where that girl teaches me. 

In that light, up first we have….

1. The Pretend and Play School Kit.

This was a huge hit for Sophia’s birthday this year. It includes miniature worksheets, awards, and hall passes. The carrying case sold me  – it can all be packed up, contained, and will travel.

2. Talking Tubes

Think old fashioned tin-can telephones. These are super fun. They got these for Christmas and sat in the back of the minivan talking to us in the front seat. No batteries, no wires, and they’re virtually unbreakable.

3. Short Stuffs

This kit creates stuffed animals, bringing together Sophia and Olivia’s two great loves. But because they are no sew, and use velcro, they can make and remake all sorts of stuffed animals over and over again. For a Mom who likes the idea of crafts much more than crafting, this concept is a dream come true. LOVE THESE.

4. Color By Dot Pages

We have tons of coloring books, but the color-by-dot system here adds a great angle. Olivia especially, who has been a bit more hesitant to color and write, thoroughly enjoys the challenge of picking out which colors each page needs and filling in the spaces “correctly”. The part of her that tears through puzzles finds these very satisfying.  And the pages progress from one color to nine at the back of the book. (I find these therapeutic. Just follow the directions, and TADA! a great picture.)

5. Go FISH Cards

Every night, before bed, Travis plays Go Fish with the girls using these cards. The first time I heard Olivia ask “Daddy do you have any chartreuse?” I about died. The cards are durable and cute and teach colors such as jade, indigo, warm red, and cafe au lait.

6. Woodkins

Think paper dolls with fabric – making endless combinations of outfits. I really enjoy these. Oh that’s right, it’s supposed to be about the kids. They do too and this will be great for our upcoming spring break trip!

7. Wooden Blocks (very original)

This classic is the real deal and the blocks are heavy, and when a tower falls on the wood floor, they are LOUD. But I do believe that the best toys are the multi-dimensional, mult-functional ones and blocks are still king. To prove it, two nights ago Travis and I sat on Sophia’s bed to watch a Princess Extravaganza lit up by the spotlight of the iphone flashlight, and taking place on a soundstage of blocks. We do our friends Melissa, Doug, and Walt Disney proud over here. 

Those are a few of our favorites that I hope to hold onto, even as I continue to purge, and read essays with titles like “Do you really need a couch?”

Hope your week has been lovely and, like me, you spent the day enjoying some Vitamin D and Girl Scout Cookies, both vital to health and wellness. Happy Spring!

quiet around these parts

I looked at the date of my last post and realized its been awhile. I then realized how long its been since I checked out our DVD’s from the library. UGH.

We’ve been struck by a end of winter plague over here…resulting in multiple doctor’s visits. I asked the receptionist yesterday if our pediatrician offered co-pay gift certificates during the holiday season. I thought I was being brilliant and witty. She just swiped my card and asked why I keep leaving Leila’s social security number blank on the paperwork. Do I look like someone who knows all of her children’s SSN’s? Be impressed that Leila has a SSN, filed away safely…somewhere.

In other news, somehow the stars aligned that I got an Iphone and a dishwasher  – welcoming me to 2005 and 1972 within the same week. The Iphone has proven lovely and helpful. The dishwasher looks beautiful and luxurious but isn’t quite working yet. For six years I have hand-washed dishes with a chipper “at-least-I-have-electricity-attitude”. But something about handwashing dishes and countless dosages cups next to an installed dishwasher feels unbearable. Unbearable in a, you know, my-life-is-really-good-this-is-pathetic-to-complain-about-sort-of-way…

That’s a bit of a an update. Blog hiatus might continue a bit longer, then I hope to be back with a new favorites list (favorite toys!) and three books I’m very excited to share with you.

In the meantime, I’m (finally!) on Instagram at nrsimone

 because who’s not looking for streamlined pictures of babies and well-placed colorful food?

Hey Mom,

Sure, go ahead. Take my picture.

Wait. Why are you always using that to take my picture? Everyone else uses their phones.

That’s right…weren’t you due for an upgrade in March?

Well it’s March,  and I’ve been practicing my Instagram Smile…Let’s make this happen!