Monday, December 30, 2013

Instagram Linky Party: Get to know your Friends

This has been a great year for me to learn new things. 
I'm really late to the Instagram party, but I'm LUVin' it there. Here's my direct Instagram link! I LUV findin' others on the same creative-educational wavelength. Today Elizabeth from "Kicking it in Kinder" is hosting a linky to help everyone 'find' each other. Come join the fun. That's the two of us meeting each other for the first time in VEGAS last summer! Yes. She is that gorgeous, but the best part? She is just as delightful on the inside!

Instagram: IT'S VISUAL!!! I GET IT! It's also 'easy/quick.' Just gotta remember to post, comment, follow. Beware. Once ya get acclimated ya really do enjoy spending those very sparse discretionary moments of your day, on yet one more social network. 

I have had a mini-goal of posting one image per day. I'm probably at about 91% of that goal. I've gathered up over 800 followers in these several months. I work hard to keep it visually interesting and upbeat.... and minimal on the promotional aspect. I also think IG is a perfect format for upbeat/motivational encouraging quotes and sentiments. 

So I have three categories when I think about IG. 

1. Inspirational

2. School visit images.
I've also been sharing images from schools and sites where I make my author/illustrator visits. 

3. Family Fun.

The third category I tend to share:
Things that make me happy......
and random bits of the day. 

***Be sure that you're following my IG observations. 

Be sure that you link up at Elizbeth's linky. 
Be certain to follow 3 new folks from the linky! 

Easy peasy. 


While you have some time and you're linky hopping be sure you get over to Simply Kinder to find lots of other great blogs to follow. The investment of time will simplify your life in the long run! HoNeST! 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Kindergarten Elf Book: Sensory, Science and Poetry!

:"Little Elf" Sensory Poem for Kindergarten via RainbowsWithinReach

You're going to LUV LUV LUV this clever idea that came home in Mr. Eyelashes' kindergarten bookbag right before the break and our trip south. I just discovered the images going back through our ocean pictures. I know that it is toooooooooooo late to make use of this idea, but I just didn't want it to get lost in the shuffle. Pin it now for next year. Sensory science and exploration for Christmas -- all wrapped up into one! Brilliant idea! 

"Little Elf" Sensory Poem for Kindergarten via RainbowsWithinReach

"Little Elf" Sensory Poem for Kindergarten via RainbowsWithinReach

"Little Elf" Sensory Poem for Kindergarten via RainbowsWithinReach

"Little Elf" Sensory Poem for Kindergarten via RainbowsWithinReach

"Little Elf" Sensory Poem for Kindergarten via RainbowsWithinReach

"Little Elf" Sensory Poem for Kindergarten via RainbowsWithinReach

***I have no idea who should get the credit for writing the rhyme. 
If you know, could you leave that info in the comment below. 

While I was digging around in the memory card I also found these goodies from last week's stop in Woodbine, GA. My last school visit of the year! A very 'mixed' audience for the Christmas Party organized for the community by the Mother Goose School. We had kiddos from the age of about 18 months to ten years in attendance and a great time was had by all. Since I had my daughter Sarah with me I have the extra benefit of having dozens and dozens of images to document our time together. THANK YOU, SWEETIE! 

Debbie Clement School Visit as Author-Illustrator

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Parenting (and Grand-Parenting) in the Micro-Moments

True Confessions. Heart-Ache. Puking. Parenting. 

It's all going to be here. Or at least as much as I have time for, that is. 

We are on day #18 of my LIVING with my WonderPeeps (Grand-children) 24/7. All day, every day. That is to say. I. AM. EXHAUSTED. Completely and entirely EXHAUSTED. Worn out to the tips of my toes exhausted. I'm out of practice -- on the 24/7 part of the equation. I LUV these little urchins ~~ and their mamabear, my adult daughter..... which makes the heart-sick exhaustion all the more to the bones. 

Don't get me wrong. Let me repeat. I LUV having this opportunity. I have just 'forgotten.' It's a good thing selective memory. It's a good thing professional editing. This is not the same thing as full blown amnesia. It's just holding onto the best parts of any give day so that you can get out of bed in the morning. Otherwise we might all be hermits living in our own little caves ordering take-out to be delivered by our neighboring hermit.  

Observations. Here are just a few of the observations that I have made. Feel free to insert the word 'grand-parenting' wherever the word parenting currently exists. This is really MY confessional couched in the terms of parenting observations. When you're a blogger -- it really is ALL about you, even when you're talking about someone/something beyond you. We in the blogging world all know that and are willing to lay it all out there for dissection any way.

Here are my observations in no particular order. 

1. Parenting is difficult under the best of circumstances. 
2. Parenting is difficult. Parenting as a singleton, with a daddy who is FREQUENTLY deployed, is a challenge. 
3. Parenting is difficult. Parenting a child that resides somewhere on the 'spectrum' makes every day something of a cross between a minefield and an amusement park ride. Even if he is VERY near the highest level of functioning on that spectrum. {Are we ALL 'somewhere' on a 'spectrum'? I seriously want to have a complete melt-down myself periodically and I feel completely ready for a total temper tantrum over something completely inconsequential and as yet to be determined, as I sit here typing. Today is NOT the day to cut me off in traffic, si vous-plais. Just sayin'.}
4. Parenting is difficult. Parenting 'multiples' adds another layer of 'are-you-kidding-me' to the mix. You'll have to believe me on this one. I know you think that having twins (or even more) is so cute, even fascinating, when you see everyone out and about in coordinating outfits, but there's more to it than that. Sarah Jessica Parker likely has hired professional help to orchestrate all of those happy images you see in the current People magazine wrap-up of the year. I'm quite certain that someone could orchestrate a montage of not-so-pleasant images, just as easily. These are children. Actual people. Not dolls. They come with emotions and biology and wiring and needs. Immediate needs. BTW: We don't have professional help. Well. I guess I am the professional in the mix. Oh dear. I am not up to this task. 
5. Reread #1. 
6. Parenting is difficult. Parenting during the holidays with all sorts of 'out of the normal' experiences, situations, meals and settings gives you an automatic additional 7,359 parenting points, without typing another world. I get it. Really difficult. 
7. Parenting is difficult. Driving across country, let's say 21 hours or so, is an additional number of points -- somewhere just a shade past pie-times-infinity, with no square roots, just straight multiplication. Just how many times can you hear someone say, whine, wail, escalatingly scream 'they're touching my space' in a confined moving vehicle and not lose a few points on your collective IQ score? Perhaps this could be a doctoral dissertation for the future? 
8. Parenting is difficult. Having four people encamp in the second bedroom, the size of a postage stamp, for ten days, is truly NOT why they designed affordable patio-homes for the aging in sunny climes. Particularly when there is literally NO backyard. Trust me on this one, too. Cue the yet to be written soundtrack for "We're Doing the Best that We Can" and sigh..... sigh, quickly before you read #9.

9. When three WonderPeeps begin a continuous round of all night, middle of the night, puking within 9.3 hours of arrival to said postage stamp living quarters, you are allowed to question the wisdom of the entire plan of coming to the ocean together in a mini-van. Karma? Plain old ordinary bad luck? Food poisoning? Too much swallowed oceanic salt water for the first time? Divine punishment? Reverse engineer ALL you want, but there is no clear answer that resonates with any rhyme or reason and you are left to shake your head for hours on end about the timing of the Universe and all that. I don't care how many polka-dots you can paint on your world -- this is a crushing development to the winter journal "What I did over the Christmas break." Note-to-self: apparently writing the word 'pucked' holds it's own intrigue if you're seven years old and GeeGee is letting you tell it like it was. I decided NOT to sanitize this particular chapter of the story, lest you think that I live some sort of charmed existence. I will edit out the phase that follows quickly on the heels of all of the puking. Just know that Mr. Clement was sent to get the largest, soft size of toilet paper rolls he could find, on quick dispatch. There has been a LOT of time spent in the bathroom during this adventure. 
10. Reread #1: out loud this time.  

Maybe I can write a redeeming, happy conclusion after the Peeps are in 'bed' (which is to say their sleeping bags on the floor.) Right now it is time for a happy time of family togetherness and solid foods for all! 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Three Generation Cross Country Adventure: Christmas and Siblings

Holiday Joy. Family Togetherness. Siblings.  

To say my heart is full is to say something as insightful as to say that there is gravity on Planet Earth. Obvious. Evident. Abundant and discernible with every breath. This is the season of reflection and my observations and my blessings are as manifest and bright-shining as the lights that twinkle from the palm trees that surround me.

2013 Christmas is the year of the first ever, three generation cross country road-show in the green minivan. Which is to say that I have had hours upon hours to reflect on my many blessings. The five of us. One daughter. Three WonderPeeps. Three consecutive nights in different hotels along the highways and byways. Trekking from the frozen tundra of Midwestern OH where snowmen dotted front yards to our little oasis in the palms. And so we set off together. 

My son-in-law is deployed. "Daddy is in the desert." My regular readers know how very grateful I am to you for your earnest prayers on his behalf. His service during the holidays, makes his daily abscence all the more poignant. We are so grateful for his willingness and training to serve. 

We have an ocean at our beaconing. It all sounds good in theory, right? Every grandma's dream.... surround yourself with your Wonders -- to experience the joy of the season. Arm your GPS, make some lists and set forth. 

This pose happened QUITE serendipitously! Which gave me a GREAT IDEA!!!
This pose happened QUITE serendipitously! Which gave me a GREAT IDEA!!! Stay tuned! Do you see it coming? 

And just like that we're off. Into the unknown. Jammies and hotel elevators are sufficient excitement to generate genuine smiles of delight. Our road trip is designed to morph from three generations to four! Our plan includes a visit to MY parents. The rendez-vous of the year. From as far away as Paraguay our extended family will come together. My nephew and his new wife have also circled this exact moment in time to be part of the festivities. 

How brilliant of my parents to have chosen a home that overlooks a pond. After eleven hours of minivan togetherness there are WonderPeeps READY to throw rocks into water. Our arrival is the final piece of the puzzle of anticipation. This next little glimpse is the bulk of the "next generation." Baby Nathaniel is napping as we pull up, but you get the picture.  

So much has happened since our last all-out holiday extravaganza. Our tribe has expanded. There are new additions of full grown 'cousins' that have to be introduced to each other. Talk about FUN! Here you see our two daughters, one hubby, the WonderPeeps and 'new' cousin Bella pausing long enough for a snap. 

BTW: That's our SIL, Navy-man Zac pictured above. He has newly embraced a VEGAN lifestyle. FWIW: That's about a hundred steps beyond vegetarian. What an amazing transformation his body has undergone in the half-a-year since his commitment to a healthier approach to eating. He is a walking billboard for change. I am totally and officially agog at what he has done. The two of them together are newly trim and invigorated and inspiring. Numerous notes-to-self have been made. 

The afternoon was spent in a field trip to my sister's new place of employment. A SWAMP. I kid you not. A real swamp with alligators and armadillos and hiking and ALLIGATORS! I had to take a raincheck on that experience, but the Peeps were all aclamor over the sites and sounds. 

Next up? A calculated experience on my part. Last month when we visited the National Museum of Art, I purchased a set of 'building materials' at the UBBER gift shop that I knew would be crowd pleasers for generations to come. Sure enough. These plastic pieces of artforms were a sure hit with the discerning crew. Ages 5 through 12 were all mesmerized and this provided a perfect integration for the elder tribesmen of the fourth generation.  I am in adoration of the deeply focused faces as they get underway together. 

It's a challenge to get everyone into one photo frame, especially when using an automatic timer on a camera...... but we are determined. Ramon's cell phone has the most reliable timing mechanism. HIS PHONE! Technology! The majority of faces below have eyes open and smiles shining and at least a peek-a-boo of facial evidence of participation in all of this throng of emotions and exuberance. 

We are fortunate. Oh-so-incredibly fortunate. My parents are well and able to juggle all of the comings and goings of this three ring circus. Awards for organization are deserving for everyone pictured. It is truly a TEAM effort to get everyone assembled from the various corners of the earth. Meals have been assigned to various subdivisions of family teams and it all goes off with amazing efficiency. My sweet hubby gets plenty of credit. He is a marvel. He is a rock. He is a contributor. He did it all! Chauffeur. Banquet creator. My gift-from-heaven. 

Here we are again, all cleaned up after attending church together. We have a waitress willing to act as family photographer on this occasion. The restaurant setting also affords a little more physical space for the set up. My brother-in-law, Dale has been called into work, so our tribe of twenty-one is now only twenty, but we have had communion together and now the feast.  

There are miracles within miracles documented by this photo. I think it has been two years since we had even the five of six of us in one place at the same time. We are all missing our deployed Scott right about now and are able to speak to him on the phone as we await the arrival of our meal. Again with the technology. At every juncture we reach out with technology to be sure to include him and let him know how much he is missed. Sarah is in tears and I am so glad that she is surrounded by the rest of us. Not exactly an equal swap, but thank goodness she is not 'alone' and without him. 

The real marvel is the miracle that is Sarah-in-stripes and the year that she has had. Last Christmas she was only walking with the assistance of a cane and required the periodic support of a wheelchair for traveling any distance. She was assigned to a pain clinic for ongoing assistance beyond her several dozen pain management prescriptions. There were some rather bleak days a year ago. Bleak indeed. {What is the synonym for fifty shades past bleak?} 

Here she is with an entirely new chapter in her life! Extensive surgery, many prayers and much rehabilitation have her kicking up her heels again. Miracle indeed. This is not even one of my Debbie-esque exaggerations. It's a miracle folks. The power of prayer and a dedicated medical team is a mighty combination. 

Noelle asked for some vegetables for a Christmas present, for their kitchen. 
This is what I cam up with! 
Can't wait to see them on the wall. 


So here we are. Safe and sound at the beach! 
This is minute number one of the week that we have ahead. 
What a treasure to be able to give this gift to the WonderPeeps. 
My love knows no bounds for this trio. That would be any grandparent's sentiment. 
Watching them splash into the ocean for the first time?
PRICELESS! I am the one in tears. 

Remember that serendipitous pose of Sarah and the peeps at the beginning of this article? 
Did you notice that I had a brainstorm after it was taken? 

I was able to get ahold of Scott in the desert. 
I was able to explain my brainstorm. 

He was able to get this image captured and transported to me. 

With my growing skills over at Picmonkey I was able to create this composite and get this printed in time for Santa's arrival. 
It is the gifts you give your adult children that they are least expecting, that mean the most. 

Hug those that you hold most dear. 
Thanks for spending some time here with us. 

Please hold tight, the reason for the season. 

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!
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