Category - Family Life

Life With Teens
Harvest Sacrifice
Pinterest Win: Patriotic Ice Cream Sandwiches
He’s An Eagle
Getting Ready
Pinewood Derby Cars Through the Years
Looking Back at 2013
One More Dream Fulfilled
Worth the Wait


After a few years of drought, May 2015 was the wettest month on record.  Evah. We built an ark, but didn’t use it because as soon as May ended, the rain returned to a far more reasonable schedule.  And with 8″ of rainfall in one month, our creek held and I think maybe we can stop worrying about flooding from the Waldo Canyon burn scar.


Boo is working the whole summer at a local BSA camp, teaching new scouts important New Scout Skillz.  Being under 18, he comes home every weekend for a little less than 24 hours.  He also brings home a friend, a fellow Catholic who goes to mass with us and is seriously the epitome of good manners.  I affectionately call him our summer son.

We also picked up an AF Academy cadet or two to sponsor through their time in the academy.  Their “Doolie Day Out” is coming up and we will be providing them with a soft spot to land, an opportunity to call home and a yelling-free zone.  We may actually have them AND our summer son here all at the same time.  Pumpkin Girl is not amused at this sudden influx of brothers, no matter how temporary.


And I’m painting again!  I found a new online watercolor sketching class, this time by Jane LaFazio.  I’m a little rusty, but it’s coming back.  Honestly, I went from being the one struggling the most in my last class, to being right in the middle of this class. For comparison, here’s an assignment on mixing and using greens from my current class, followed by a quick sketch I did of the same plant, way back before I started taking lessons.  Go me!

oxalisafter oxalisbefore

Life With Teens

We’ve got two teenagers in the house now. It’s a much different experience than I was anticipating and I have to say that, for the most part, I am pleased.

While we seemed to have escaped door slamming,  and “I hate you”s, we do have loud music and constant texting.  Of course, there is the whole issue of dealing with the opposite sex.

Mostly we limit Pumpkin Girl’s contact with boys by keeping her locked up at the ballet studio with mostly girls, for hours at a time.  So any free range boys that come sniffing at our door will turn away in search of greener pastures.  So to speak.

Of course, she went and made friends with the three boys that are her age that dance at her studio.  Two of them are part of her Game Night Group – five friends who take turns going to each other’s houses, emptying the fridge and causing a ruckus, all while the host parents keep a watchful eye to make sure that are no shenanigans.  Though most of them are homeschoolers, so their idea of a wild night is playing both Carcasonne and Settlers of Catan in the same night.

Our turn to host Game Night is this weekend and we are laying in a supply of food that will feed a small army.  Five teens, coming directly from all day dance rehearsals – I just hope we have enough food.  Hmm, might want to get air freshener, too.

Meanwhile Boo is driving.  He’s still got his permit until  he gets enough driving hours to get a license.  We paid a local driving school big money to sit next to his novice self so that we don’t have to.  We drop him off and go home, while he drives around town, going exactly the speed limit for two hours.  Last week they let him on the freeway.  I was at home, softly humming that song from “Jesus Christ, Superstar'”- “Don’t you know everything’s alright, yes, everythings’s fine”.  I almost believed it.

(Actually, Phil tells me that Boo is a good driver.  I’ll just have to take his word for it.)

You know what?  Other than messy rooms and the occasional eye roll, we’re enjoying the ride.  Helping our kids reach important milestones, helping them navigate through life, getting to know their friends  – it’s all good, nothing but love.  We wouldn’t have it any other way.


Harvest Sacrifice

Every year, just a few days after Halloween, we set our jack o’lanterns out on our lawn in a tradition that has come to be known as the Harvest Sacrifice.   If our pumpkins are found to be tasty and pleasing, then the local deer herd will consume them, thus conferring blessings upon us for another year.

This year our offerings have been accepted.

HarvestSacrifice1Harvest Sacrifice 2

And the peasants rejoiced.


Pinterest Win: Patriotic Ice Cream Sandwiches

july 4 ice cream win

I found this idea on Pinterest last June, just in time to try it for July 4th.  It is so simple that you can just look at the picture and figure out what to do.  An easy project with high impact – it’s just full of Pinterest Win.  Just roll ice cream sandwiches in red, white and blue sprinkes, wrap them back in their original wrappers and freeze.

The only thing to watch out for is the ice cream melting faster than you can work.  I would just unwrap each sandwich as you need it, rather than doing them all ahead of time.  I would also recommend making these ahead of time and letting them refreeze.

Wouldn’t these be fun to make with different kinds of sprinkles to match the occasion?

My inspiration for these is from this post at A Thrifty Mom: July 4th Dessert Ideas

He’s An Eagle

It’s a pretty amazing thing when your child sets his sights on a goal and achieves it.  Words really cannot express how proud I am of Boo for deciding to be an Eagle Scout and for reaching his goal.  He was 15 years old, 1 month and 20 days old when he did it.

The presentation table was set up with his scarf, medal, pins, flowers and a candle display.  Each candle has a BSA rank badge beneath it and they were lit during the ceremony by a scout of the same rank.

COHPresentationTableOutside the room was his scouting display table.  Starting at the left were his Pinewood Derby cars and trophy, and his red Cub Scout vest. When we received his Arrow of Light at the end of Cub Scouts, his den from back in DC where he started, sent him the same arrow given to all his former den-mates.  When he crossed over to Boy Scouts, an Eagle Scout shot an arrow at a target as each boy’s name was announced.  Boo’s arrow hit the bull’s eye.  Both those arrows were part of the display.

COHCubScoutDisplay Next was the guest book and a basket to hold any cards that came.  Then was his Eagle display. (I made the decoration in the background from an idea on Pinterest.)  We had a flag flown at the US Capitol and it’s there in a frame.  Another Pinterest idea was for a shadow box with each of his rank cards and badges, with a space waiting at the end.  His Eagle certificate is just out of the picture, as is his Order of the Arrow sash.  The framed certificate is his registration into the National Eagle Society.  We put all his official congratulation letters into a binder for people to flip through.  We call it his Book of Kudos. COHEagleandRankDisplay

Here’s what the whole thing looked like.COHDisplayHere’s my Eagle Scout with his cake.  I think they both turned out nicely.



I managed to hold it together, just like I did for Nutcracker.  I had to keep dabbing at my eyes the whole time, though.  Look at him – He’s an Eagle.


(You can check out my Eagle COH Pinterest Board to see where I got some of my inspiration here: Eagle Court of Honor.)

Getting Ready

Boo Awards1

We’re in the final days before Boo’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor and it’s taking up all my spare time.  I’ll catch up with you all on the other side…

Pinewood Derby Cars Through the Years

Ah, it’s that time again.  The annual Grin-and-Bear-It Fest known as Pinewood Derby.

Why, Cub Scouts, why? Those of us who are woefully lacking in woodworking skills and equipment are already aware of our deficiencies, so we don’t need this reminder. Nor do we need the chance to see how well other parents are able to paint an accurate replica of Lightening McQueen.  (By the way, parents – nobody is fooled.  We know it was you.) And pasting that fake smile on, telling your poor child that yes, his car came in dead last in all heats, but by golly, we had FUN making it!

Can I get an “amen”?

And yet…here we go.

Our cars have been historically slow.  Like, barely finishing the race slow.  But it’s true that they have looked cool.

Our very first year, Boo made a Ghost Car.  He liked the little guy and the fake engine you could buy.
Ghost Car
The next year, Boo made a Humvee.  He painted it all himself.  He used a sponge brush and pounced, pounced, pounced in the direction I told him.

Humvee Pinewood Derby Car

Humvee Car

Pumpkin Girl made this one, complete with glitter.  She called it the Becky Angel Car.

Becky Angel Car

Read about how well this car did here: Showing Her Quality

We had a stroke of good luck the following year with Boo’s Tongue of Flame car that place 3rd in his pack.
Tongue of Flames CarThe American Flag car was Pumpkin Girl’s entry into the Powder Puff Derby that year.  The front of the car is actually the field of stars, so the flag flows back while it goes down the track.  It won first place in her Brownie Troop.

American Flag CarBip entered his own car into the family division that year. He was 3 years old and he did all the green painting himself.  I did the teeth, mouth and nose.

Alligator CarThat ended up being our last Pinewood Derby for a couple of years.  We moved to CO only to find that Web 2s don’t do Pinewood Derby here.  Bip’s next entry into Pinewood Derby was his first time as a Cub Scout.

A little piece of me died when he told me that he wanted an R2D2 car and I realized just how mom-intensive this was going to be.

First, we researched.  Some very over achieving parents have gone to great lengths to make a near-exact R2D2 replica.  I would not be doing that.

First, we found a friend to use magic or a lathe or something to turn the block of wood into a rounded shape for the top of R2.  Then Bip base painted him white.  I tapped off the bottom to be black to show negative space, as well as the flames as R2 burst (in theory) away from the starting block.

R2D2 Pinewood Derby Car

With painstaking work and a ton of masking tape, I had R2 ready for the details.  First silver for his head.  Then tons and tons of blue shapes.  I drew the rest of details for Bip to paint.  What you see is all his work, with some mom assistance.

R2D2 Car

R2D2 was a crowd favorite. Let’s just leave any further commentary at that.

Pumpkin Girl’s entry was a pizza car.  Please note, the wheels look like pepperoni.  Her inspiration was an actual slice of pizza that had a pepperoni stuck to the side.

Pizza Pinewood Derby CarLast year I got off easy, with a Wii remote car.  I also told Phil that it was his turn now to help with the cars.  Ta-da!!

Wii Remote Car Wii Remote Pinewood Derby CarIt was exactly as aerodynamic as you’d think.   When we lose, we look good doing it.

The Wedge O’ Cheese (with mouse) was Pumpkin Girl’s entry.  You know why I like her?  She comes up with her own ideas and executes them independently. It’s hard to see in the picture, but it really is wedge shaped.

Wedge of Cheese CarAnd now Pinewood Derby looms again.  Can someone get me an Exedrin?

Looking Back at 2013

It was a very good year.

But we started on a sad note when we lost my grandfather in January.

In February I admitted I have a yarn stash.  Even though sock yarn doesn’t really count as stash.

After nearly 20 years of beige military housing and 4 years in our very own home,  in March I started welcoming color into our lives in the form of Fiestaware!

fiestaware table

I got a knitting injury in April, because I’m talented like that.

May was a very important month, with Boo being Confirmed and Bip making his First Communion. So very proud of my boys!

June was tough.  Just days before the first anniversary of last year’s devastating fires, our city burst into flames again, and this fire took over as the worst fire in state history.

I created my own personal planner pages in July, and in doing so, unexpectantly launched a business selling them!

planner open

Bip turned 8 in August and Boo became a member of the Order of the Arrow.

I didn’t post much in September.  I don’t know why.

We went on a cruise in October!!

In November Pumpkin Girl danced the role of Clara and I cried.


After a weather delay, Boo passed his Board of Review and became an Eagle Scout! Pumpkin Girl then danced the role of Fritz and rendered me speechless with her acting talent.


Yes, it was a very good year.  I hope 2013 was good one for you, too and that 2014 is even better!  What was the highlight of your year?

One More Dream Fulfilled

Pumpkin Girl has danced in her ballet school’s pre-professional company’s Nutcracker for the last three years. She’s been a tumbler in the Mother Ginger scene, a party girl, a battle soldier, and a ribbon girl. CharlotteSoldierAnd for the first two years, the role of Fritz was actually played by an actor. He did a great job until last year when they decided to use a dancer – a girl- in the role, and that started Pumpkin Girl thinking.

In her company’s Nutcracker, Fritz is a big role. He doesn’t disappear after the party scene, but follows Clara back to the family room and they both fall asleep near the Christmas tree. He helps her fight off the rats in the battle scene and then accompanies her to the Land of the Sweets, staying with her through the entire show. The role requires good acting skills, as Fritz provides the comedy relief for the whole show. And with a dancer in the role, Fritz now dances  in the Winter Scene, as well as the whole Russian variation.

Pumpkin Girl set her sights on being Fritz and thought about it all winter long and through the spring. She couldn’t figure out how to let her artistic director know she wanted the job, because part of being a company dancer (in any company) is that you accept the role you are given and do your best. And yet, this was a role that not every girl would even want. Plus, she knew that the previous girl Fritz had been given the rare chance to turn it down. So maybe, just maybe, it would be OK to ask. Because wouldn’t it be sad for the role to go to someone else because the director didn’t even know Pumpkin wanted it? She asked the advice of her favorite ballet teacher, who also happened to be her Broadway dance teacher. She was the one who’d cast Pumpkin as both Sebastian in “Under the Sea” and as The Artful Dodger in “Consider Yourself.” She understood Pumpkin’s love for acting, knew her ballet skill and worked closely with the artistic director. With her guidance, Pumpkin wrote a letter letting the AD know that if she needed a new Fritz, Pumpkin would love the job.

And then we waited. All summer we talked about it. Was her dancing good enough? What if last year’s Fritz wanted to be Fritz again? What if they brought in an actor again? What if they gave it to another dancer?

It was a long summer.

And finally, early in August, the day came. A dancer/parent company meeting was held, with the casting list to be posted afterwards. I swear that meeting took forever and I was a tense mess the whole time. The meeting ended and I did a great job of not tearing down the hallway with the rest of the dancers.

I’m sure you know where this is going.

Pumpkin Girl was indeed cast as Fritz and I cried, because that’s what moms do. I even made the moms of her friends tear up because I was so happy.


Her company’s Nutcracker was two days before Christmas. They sold out two shows, a total audience of over 3,000 people. And she was amazing, absolutely amazing. Every person who talked to me afterwards told me what a wonderful job she did. She was a lovably naughty Fritz and laugh out loud funny.

Clara and Fritz in the same year! That girl never ceases to surprise me. This was the best Nutcracker season

Five days later, she turned 13 years old.  It was a banner year for her.

(And incidentally, I will have a teenager in the house, without a break, for the next 19 years.)

Worth the Wait

Boo passed his Eagle Scout Board of Review.


He was visibly nervous beforehand and more than one person told him to breathe.  But he did it and he is an Eagle Scout.  His Court of Honor will be early in the New Year.  I have to admit, I teared up a bit on the ride home.  I sure am proud of my boy.

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