Monday, September 30, 2013

September Sunset

The sunset decided to be a drama queen on an evening in September. 
(I love it when it does that!)

It started out on the pastel, dainty side...

And then the colors deepened into a beautiful warm glow as the sun slipped down further behind the trees.

Witnessing beautiful scenes of nature like this always reminds me of the first verse of the lovely little hymn
  For the Beauty of the Earth, which goes like this:
"For the beauty of the earth, 
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise."

Friday, September 20, 2013

Five Things for Friday

1. Sam turns four years old today!
Oh how I love this little sweetheart of a boy! His special day today will be full of train presents and a train cake and train cupcakes to bring to preschool. (Pictures to come in a future post!) For now I'll just say that he is one of my life's greatest blessings, and I love him so much.

2. (Parentheses.)
 I've noticed that I use parentheses a lot in my writing. I'm not sure why, but I use them all the time to add in extra little details. I feel like they don't break up the flow of my writing the way that dashes or separate sentences would. If I could I'd probably change the name of this blog to "Parenthetically Speaking" since I tend to speak/write in parentheses, but that's the title of my friend's blog and I can't steal and plagiarize like that (even though she hardly ever blogs anymore, which I'm sad about, because I love her humor and her posts. See? I just used parentheses. And a little bit of justification for wanting to steal her blog name.) Anyway, I just wanted to acknowledge the fact that I like to use parentheses and that I'd kind of like to change the name of this blog, but it's not going to happen (yet!).  

3. "Kiss From a Rose To a Cat"
Cats and cat videos are trendy right now, and I can appreciate that, because like I've said before, I'm a bit of a crazy cat lady with my cute cat Brody. I don't post videos often on my blog, but this short little video is so funny and it made my week! This guy drunkenly serenades his cat with Seal's "Kiss from a Rose" and the cat keeps trying to get away. This is pretty typical of me and Brody's relationship (minus the drunk part!)
This video totally cracks me up! Watch it; if it doesn't bring a smile to your face then I don't know what will!


4. Downton Abbey
I know I just said I don't post videos very often, but I'm about to post another one, because it's a sneak preview of a scene from the fourth season of Downtown Abbey, which starts this Sunday in England. Those lucky buggers. I really wish PBS would just air it at the same time in the U.S.! Instead we have to wait until January and try to avoid finding out spoilers and plot twists beforehand. Either that or watch a poor-quality version on the Internet, which is not my cup of tea (pun intended). This clip is kind of depressing, but nevertheless it makes me excited for the new season. I still can't believe Matthew is gone, and I still think Dan Stevens was dumb and selfish to leave the show! Sniff sniff.

5. I'm going to start blogging every other week instead of every week. 
It will help me to keep my life on track and better-balanced. So that's the plan going forward!

Have a great weekend! See you the week after next!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Reading Alfresco

My favorite reading spot when the weather is nice (which is about half the year) is this spot in the side of the yard. I set up my reclining chair there between the trees and relax with a book and enjoy the fresh air and the the sweet sound of the chirping birds. I wasn't able to do this for the last month because of seasonal allergies, but they're mostly gone now and so are the super-hot temperatures, so I'm able to read there again. It's one of my life's simple but special pleasures.

One of the best parts is the view of this grassy green field next to our house that's surrounded by trees. Of course, I'm mostly looking at the pages of my book, but it's nice to have this around the edges!

Do you prefer reading inside or outside?
What is one of your favorite reading spots?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Favorite Summer Picture

Who: John and his cousin Rocco, age 4 (my sister's son)
What: A contemplative, peaceful moment in the grass--a rarity for active boys!
When: July 2, 2013
Where: Wickford, Rhode Island in my sister's front yard
Why: Because cousins, summertime, and peaceful moments (however fleeting they may be!) are awesome.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Swingin' by the Seaside

Swings, sand, and sea make a pretty nice combination for summertime. 
Just add some kids into the mix to make the scene complete! 

Location: Wickford, Rhode Island
Date: July 10, 2013

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Top Ten Things of Summer 2013

In chronological order...

1. I got this little guy to warm up to me (a little). 

This is my cute nephew, Shane. He's my sister Elizabeth's second son. One of my summer goals was to get Shane to like me. I wanted to be able to hold him and play with him without him crying or running away or giving me the stink-eye (he was especially good at the stink-eye). But he was having none of it, and he kept rejecting my advances. (Kids who don't want to play with me are one of those "fun" challenges in life that I feel compelled to fix--especially when they're related to me!). I'm happy to report that I experienced a small but very significant victory when after spending some time together one day Shane came over to me all on his own and fed me some food with a little smile on his face. Success!! (And I will mention again here that the hardest thing about living in Iowa is being so far away from family!)

2. I took the boys to the movies, all by myself. 
I was brave on a super-hot day in July in Massachusetts and took the boys to see Monsters University. The reasons this makes the top ten list are: 1) I'm not usually good about doing things like that on my own, and 2) it was Sam's first time going to a movie in the theater. And he liked it! And it was actually fun! I had to hold him on my lap to prevent him from running down the aisle and playing on the chairs during the slower parts of the movie, but still, he did well, and the three of us had a good time together. 

3. We bought a house on Cape Cod. 
This was the highlight of the summer! Not only was it fun to house-hunt and find "the one," but it was also the achievement of a big goal of ours: to own our own place on the Cape, a place that's become very special to us as we have vacationed there each summer for nine years in a row. I'll be writing more about the house in a few weeks once we close on it and it's officially ours. For now I'll just say that it's adorable and in great condition, it came fully furnished and stocked, it's a half-mile walk to the ocean, it's in a town and area that is one of my favorites, and the price was right. Sold!

4. I had a birthday.
(Shout hooray! Sorry, that Primary song is stuck in my head.)
My birthday was full of good things. I was staying at one of my favorite places (Cape Cod). Peter and I took the boys for a morning canoe ride on the lake near the house we were renting (a lake that we've stayed by for four years and one that we really like). I got to go back to the house we're buying and really explore it because the sellers accepted our offer the night before. We ate dinner at one of my favorite restaurants on the Cape, Yarmouth House, where I got one of my favorite meals, Lazy Man's Lobster. And the next night Peter and I went to a delicious dinner at an historic old inn by ourselves. A birthday full of good things, indeed!

5. I flew a kite with my family at my favorite kite-flying spot, right near the beach on (where else?) Cape Cod. 
We hadn't done this in a few years and it's something I always enjoy. I'll do a separate post about it soon with some cool pictures, but for now, I'll just post this one of me gripping the kite handle (those ocean breezes can be strong!).

6. I joined Instagram. 
And I really like it! I resisted joining for a long time because I didn't want yet another time-sucking, attention-grabbing distraction, this one right on my phone. But it's really fun and it's not that distracting or time-consuming, at least not after the first week or so once the fascination dies down a little. It's fun because it's like a mini-blog, simple and cute, and it's neat to see other people's pictures. Now if only some of my family members would join it! Look at the cute things you're missing, you guys. 

7. The University of Iowa was rated the #1 party school in the country. 
The irony of this is so funny to me. We moved to the conservative, family values-centered Midwest from the liberal, worldly Northeast, and yet the college town we moved to is home to the #1 party school in the U.S.
We just can't seem to escape it! Ha ha.

8. We went to the Iowa State Fair.
It was our second time going in the three years that we've now lived here. We spent almost all of our time there on the rides, because that's what fun-loving boys like to do most! 

9. I ate a deep-fried Milky Way for the first (and hopefully not last) time in my life. 
It was at the Iowa State Fair, and it tasted much better than I expected it to. Sweet, gooey, chocolatey, and yummy without being too much of any of them, except for the yummy! I definitely want to eat one of those again. It's a good thing state fairs are only held once a year.

10. John started third grade. 
I can't believe he's old enough to be in third grade. Third grade is when I had my first real crush on a boy (his name was Robert Zelch and he was the handsomest boy in my class!). My son can't be old enough for all that!

There are better pictures than this where he's holding a "3rd grade" sign but I wrote his school and teacher's name on the sign so I can't post it here because I don't want to give any possible stalkers out there that kind of information. One of the precautions one must take when one's blog is public!

And ever since school started about a month ago, it has let out two hours early seven times due to a high heat index (because a few of the schools in the district don't have air-conditioning). Reason #275 why school should start after Labor Day. (Although, admittedly, two of those early-release days were AFTER Labor Day...crazy hot Iowa weather!)

There was a lot more to summer than these things, but these are the top ten. I'll be blogging more about them and everything else in the weeks to come!

Monday, September 9, 2013

I'm Back!

Summer's over and it's time to dust the old blog off again. (I don't know why I get such pleasure from saying/writing/thinking that every year when I start blogging again. It's not like it's all that clever or funny or anything. It just makes me smile every time I write it.) Ironically, it's over 100 degrees outside today here in Iowa and we're stuck in a horrible, hot and humid drought, and John got out of school two hours early AGAIN because of it, so summer's not really over, but for all intents and purposes, it is.

We had a great summer in Massachusetts, and a good one in Iowa too. More about the events of summer to come in future posts. For now, I just wanted to say that I'm back to the wonderful world of blogging. Several family and friends have commented to me recently that they enjoy reading my blog, including people who I had no idea were reading it, which was nice. I don't aspire to be a popular blogger, but it's nice to know that a lot more people are reading regularly than I thought. It makes it more fun. That reminds me: if you have my blog posts e-mailed to you, you should click on the link and read the post on the actual blog, because I almost always go back and edit and make it better after I publish it. Just so you know. It's better on the blog! It's good to be back and I hope you had a wonderful summer!