On the Look Out

These two littles guys. I’m so glad I have them in my life because they bring me so much joy. Can you guess what they are on the look out for in this picture?

Allen and Dominic look out the window

I’ll give you a hint. It is not the mail. If it was me, it would be the mail. I’m always on the look out for the mail. It’s like a bit of happiness in a box. Unless it’s bills or junk mail. That’s significantly less happiness. But letters from friends, magazines, and packages all put a smile on my face.

But that’s not what they’re looking for.

No, they’re looking for their daddy mowing the lawn. Because they love their daddy and they love watching him (and helping him sometimes) with the yard work. It’s just about the coolest thing ever to their little selves.

I kind of miss those days. The days when everything was much simpler and the simpler things could make you happy. Of course, all emotions are big in childhood – the good and the bad – but maybe that’s why we read. Because books are simple things. I mean, complex simple things, but still, it’s just paper with some ink on it, bound together with glue. But a story makes you feel big emotions. Giddy and sad, amused and angry. And it’s amazing when you think about all that can come from a story. Indeed, even before there were books, there were stories.

Anyways, this is just rambling. I hope they grow up and still always feel that there are simple things to be excited about. That those opportunities for excitement are all around us if we look. That terrible, terrible things happen in the world, but you can’t focus on those things. You just can’t. Like, you can help people in and after the terrible things, but you can’t let them consume you. You have to look for the joy and beauty and love in life.

Because it’s there. I know it’s there. But it’s easy to put on your blinders and only see the terrible things. I don’t want to only see the terrible things. “Look for the helpers,” Mister Rogers said. Well, he was on to something. Look for the helpers. But also look for the joy, the beauty, and the love. They still exist. They do.

What simple things do you hold onto in life? 

My Sorry Problem

Do you have a sorry problem too? How have you fixed this or is it still a struggle for you? 

Gift Wrapping Organization

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We are totally on a mission to declutter and organize our basement. It needs it badly. Since the kids basically never go down there, it is totally a dumping ground for all the things we don’t want our kids to get into. So while you won’t turn on Hoarders and see us anytime soon, it’s still something that needed change. And the easiest way to do that is not in one massive project, but bit by bit at a time. So this meant it was time for some gift wrapping organization.

I can’t take credit for this idea – it’s genius comes from Practically Martha. It worked amazingly well though, so I’m sharing some pictures of what it looks like in our house.

Gift Wrapping Organization

As you can see, the wrapping paper is now hanging in a garment bag. Again, Practically Martha had this wonderful idea. I was fortunate that ours had a number of pockets that I used to hold folded up tissue paper. As for gift bags, I put them together in a box, all going the same way – for the most part except for some oversize ones. That makes it easy to rifle through them and find one that fits the occasion. I am really excited that this has organization to it now. When things have a home, it feels better and they don’t get so out of control in the first place.

Oh and added bonus, I found TONS of gift bags and tissue paper that I didn’t even know we had. Like I had this box, but it was so cluttered I was always grabbing what was on top so that I could be quick about it. But finding that there was so much more there than I thought was well worth organizing it alone. Especially finding so much extra tissue paper, since, in addition to using it to wrap presents, we also use it in many crafts around here.

What does your gift wrapping organization look like? Or is it totally unorganized like mine was? 

Ring, Ring, Ring: Short Fiction

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Phone picture, ringing short story

When I first heard the phone ringing, well – startled would be the accurate word for my reaction. I tripped over my own feet, the smooth pavement coming up – or was I going down – to meet my face.

My glasses skittered off and I fumbled around to find them, my whole face throbbing. I felt several things that I were certain not my glasses, but I was also certain I did not want to know what they were. Something wet, something slimy, and something fuzzy that moved when I touched it – that last one I especially did not want to know.

I found them at last and put them back on my face and slowly pushed myself back up. The ringing was still happening, so I felt my hands along the wall, until I ran into what felt like a phone. Instinctively, I answered it, but then, that moment after I picked it up, I paused. I looked around. Surely this phone was ringing for someone else? What was I doing answering a mystery phone call at midnight in the middle of an alley way? Was this some kind of set up whereby robbers jumped out and got me? A mugger, with a partner on the other line to do the ringing?

No, somebody like that would have already gotten me when I fell, right? Right. I think. I realized that faintly there was somebody saying, “Lori? Lori?” on the other end of the phone, so I took a deep breath and held it up to my ear.

“Hello?” I said.

“Oh thank goodness, Lori, I was beginning to worry somebody else had answered the phone and that you weren’t there, Lori. But how silly of me would that be? I know you are always there for me, Lori. Thank goodness, you are the best friend a girl has ever had, for sure, darling. Listen, I know you are always telling me not to, but I got myself in some real deep shit here, Lori, for reals. I need your help. I know you’ve always got my back. So listen, meet me in an hour at St. Vinnie’s and bring a pound of bacon, some rope, and some soap – a lot of soap – oh and while you’re at it, you should get some of that ice cream I like so much too. You know that kind with the little things of cookie dough and the chocolate chips and all that other good stuff. Of course you know, you never let me down, Lori. I’ll see you in an hour.”

“But wait -” I said, shocked into silence by the sheer force of this woman’s rambling. But it was too late, whoever was on the other end had hung up.

I checked my watch, 12:05 am. I should really go home. Leave Lori and this mysterious other woman to their own problems. It didn’t involve me. The woman didn’t even check to see if I was actually Lori first or not. But still . . .

“Siri, where is the closet 24 hour grocery store?”

This has been a work of fiction. Image from Barn Images. As always, this is a rough, rough story for the sake of stretching my story and writing skills, which I try to do regularly. Sometimes I share. Thanks for reading 🙂 

Counting to 1000 Gifts: 141-150

It’s been over a year since I last added to my list of 1000 gifts! So much has happened, but yet, it is the ordinary blessings that I try to seek to chronicle in these. It’s easy to be thankful for the big blessings, it’s the little ones that are more often overlooked.

141. I am having so much fun doing the Read the World book challenge with Dominic!

Our books from Europe week #GiveYourChildtheWorld

Our books from Europe Week

142. Delicious pot roast for dinner.

143. Finding extremely tasty cookies on clearance at the grocery store.

144. Watching Nick build train tracks with the boys

145. Seeing a bunch of my family this weekend

146. Having a clean front hall closet

Psst, that's our curriculum in the silver bin + the stuff on top! Not sure if this is going to work as an organizational system for now, but we're going with it haha.

Psst, that’s our curriculum in the silver bin + the stuff on top! Not sure if this is going to work as an organizational system for now, but we’re going with it haha.

147. Having all our curriculum set for starting in a month! I’m so excited, I love learning with Dominic!

148. Uncluttering our basement a bit more (mad props to Nick on this!)

149. Lots of rain – and that we didn’t lose power or suffer any damage during the storms

150. That both of the boys did well for their hair cuts! (Allen’s was even his first!)

First Haircut- Allen

What are some blessings you are seeing in your life lately? Do you have your own 1000 gifts list?

Giveaway Winner!

We have a winner for our Motivated Moms giveaway! Congrats to Leslie A. our winner! Thanks to everyone who entered!

Motivated Moms Giveaway!

Growing Up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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If you’ve been following along with me over on Twitter, you know that I’ve been doing the Read the World Summer Book Club over at Simple Homeschool and we have been having a total blast. In preparation for the end of the summer, they’re encouraging all the families who are participating to share about what it’s like to grow up where they are growing up. So, I sat down with Dominic to answer these questions about our family and about Milwaukee, the city we live in. Questions in bold, Dominic in orange (his current favorite color, though as I’m halfway through typing this, he tells me all the colors are his favorite colors), me in purple, and Nick in blue.

Tell us about your family.

Allen is my brother. He is one. What’s something cool about Allen? That he snuggles with me and plays with me. And who are you? Dominic. And how old are you? Four. And what do you like to do? I like to play games! Tell me about dad. What’s cool about dad? That he plays games, that’s what’s cool about him. And now what about me? Who am I? Mommy. And what’s cool about me? That you snuggle with me! 

My family

Photo taken by the amazing Emily Ebeling. If you’re interested in checking out more of her work or hiring her, click on the photo to be taken to her site!

Tell us about where you live and how long you’ve lived there.

We live in Wisconsin and I don’t know how long we lived there. Well mom’s been here all her life and dad’s been here for about six years and you (Dominic) have been here all your life and so has Allen. {He was talking about the US here, I grew up in Wisconsin, but not in Milwaukee.} We currently live in Milwaukee, the largest city in Wisconsin. 


Photograph taken by Dori (dori@merr.info) – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Dori

What do you think is unique and special about living where you do?

The museum. Milwaukee Republic Museum. (He means Milwaukee Public Museum). It’s in downtown. And the Domes! It’s a building with plants and a waterfall and fish. 

Milwaukee Public Museum Butterflies

The butterfly gardens at the Milwaukee Public Museum

Milwaukee Domes

On a scavenger hunt at the Domes. It has three areas – tropical dome, desert dome, and show dome. Unfortunately, only the show dome is open while it undergoes emergency repairs to keep people safe, so we haven’t been a while. This is a staple of Milwaukee though and we hope they are able to save them!

What languages are spoken there?

We speak English here. Some other languages that are common in our area include Spanish and Hmong. 

What are some traditional foods there?

Corn Chex, vegetables, cheeses, fruits, juices, sugary drinks, milk. That’s all the things we eat. What is your favorite meal? Pie! Pie is not a meal. It’s funny! What is your favorite meal, for real? Mac ‘n cheese! 

Zucchini Bread

We also love zucchini bread and make it fairly often using my family’s recipe.

Tell us about the climate where you live.

What’s the weather like during the summer? It’s hot, cause the sun is up. What’s the weather like during the winter? Cold. It snows. A lot. 

What does school look like for the majority of kids where you live?

Most kids here attend school outside the home, either public or private. In Milwaukee, in particular, there are a lot of special public schools. For example, there are German, French, and Spanish immersion schools, and Montessori schools as well. There are so many more that listing them would take a long time haha 😉 

What does school look like for your family?

We do learning stuff – play games. What are we starting in the fall? Preschool. We homeschool and I try to include a lot of reading, games, and field trips into our learning as well as more book work type things. I would describe our style as eclectic. 

Are there any special festivals or traditions you’d like to tell us about related to where you live?

We have so many amazing festivals here in Milwaukee. The biggest one is Summerfest, which is a huge music festival, but we also have many ethnic festivals as well. Irish Fest, Greek Fest, Indian Summer Fest, Festa Italiana, German Fest, Polish Fest – and there are many more, but these are just the ones that leaped to mind. During the middle of the summer, there is almost always some kind of festival every weekend. 


Dominic painting in the kids’ tent at Summerfest

If you ever had to move away from where you live, what do you think you’d miss most?

My house. I would miss our fridge. Then I’ll miss our ceiling and I’ll miss our door. I’ll miss our handles. Milwaukee has such a great wealth of opportunities in terms of culture. We have a zoo, many wonderful museums, and many festivals. I’d really miss those. And we have a wonderful church community here too that I would really miss if we moved away. 

Do you have a favorite book that takes place in your region/country?

I grew up reading Little House in the Big Woods which took place in Wisconsin. The boys and I also really enjoy reading a lot of Lois Ehlert, who is a local author and has written many, many books. In fact, she even helped design the children’s room at the Central Milwaukee Public Library downtown. 

Milwaukee Central Library Kids' Room

Have you ever visited or lived in Milwaukee? What’s your favorite part about Milwaukee? Or, what’s your favorite part about where you live? 

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