Friday, June 09, 2017

First Day/Last Day 2017.




Well, here we are. First day of summer, so I'm reflecting for a bit on how nine months changes my wonderful kiddos, who are upstairs with me today instead of at school!

One thing is for sure, that girl of mine is a tall drink of water!

Happy Summer!

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Summer Reading Lists 2017!


Without further ado, let the summer reading begin!

A couple notes:

1. These are very customized to my own kids. Fisher likes non fiction so his list his heavy on that, with a couple of great fiction reads in there to give him something he wouldn't necessarily pick up on his own. Alla prefers fiction, so I've challenged her in that area, as well as sprinkled in a little non-fiction.

2. I keep a list all year long, of new releases, things that I've seen reviewed on Goodreads, etc., that I know my kids will like but might not have time to read during the school year. Some of the titles have summer release dates and therefore won't be available yet. Some of them I have on request at the library as they just came out last month. Others have been out and we can easily get them from the library. We already have a stack from each list for each kids to start on.

3. Reading is not optional in our house, but that said, the enthusiasm we show toward books has made it such that the kids love to read and don't argue about making it part of each day. For sure making these lists is fun for me, but also they ask for them each year, so they are invested.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Ten on Tuesday.



1. Kids' Summer Reading Lists are done! Check back on our last day of school this Thursday. Alla has started on this one, which was previously on a list for Fisher. She is the last in our family to read it, and the second one is coming out this summer.

2. After suffering through yet another very chilly baseball game just one week ago today, the switch was flipped and we are now experiencing joyful summer weather! In fact we had to turn on the A/C for a brief spell this weekend when the thermometer hit 90.

3. Counting today, kids have three days of school left! Joy!

4. Alla played her last concert of sixth grade last week. I cannot believe the growth from third to sixth grade.



5. We finally have a garden planted! Of course I waited until Sunday to do it, and although I got the plants in before the sun hit, by the end of the day they looked terribly wilted. I spent all day worrying about them and watered several times. Fingers crossed for you, spinach.

6. I finally finished Unbroken, and was so happy to move on to Loving v. Virginia, Real Friends, and now Piecing Me Together. All recommended!

7. Fisher hit an IN THE PARK HOMERUN last night.

8. We are thoroughly enjoying the summer show Beat Shazam, but also wondering where is American Ninja Warrior, our familiar summer Friday night fun?

9. Since we are in that busy time of year when we have activities several evenings a week, I hope my family is not going to grow tired of crockpot chicken. If you are not familiar, it is like this: put chicken breasts in crockpot. Sprinkle with some sort of favorite seasoning. Put a spoonful of salsa on each. Turn on crock pot - low 6-7 hours, high 3-4. We eat on brown rice with beans, cheese, veggies.

10. I know for sure they will not grow tired of the three-ingredient cookie: 2 mashed bananas, 1 cup quick oats, 1/4 cup chocolate chips. 350 oven, 15 minutes. The secret is to sprinkle sea salt over the top right when they come out of the oven. Perfect.

Happy Tuesday!


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Alla and the bunny.


This girl can find any creature great or small and get it to love her and she will love it fiercely in an instant. On Friday she rescued a bunny from a neighbor's garage and I've never held a baby bunny this small! It made no attempt to hop out of our hands and hardly hopped even when she found a safe place for it to go. She has a big heart for special little ones - furry and not.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Ten on Tuesday.

1. So, there you have it. Ron is 40. I'm sure that's very old to someone, but as someone who's been 40 for a few months now, it feels just about the same.

2. I am in desperate need of some new running shoes. The most recent pair gives me painful tingles in the feet after about two miles, so I've resorted to the older pair that probably has 700 miles on them. Not good either way.

3. So I'll add "go to running store" to my endless list of things I must get to before school lets out but that there currently doesn't seem to be enough time to do.

4. After Memorial Day the kids will have only 8 school days left! Very hard to believe the unofficial start to summer is upon us.

5. Especially since Sunday night we sat through one of the coldest baseball games in Little League history. Multiple layers were worn and coats were pulled out of storage. The players had fun and won their game.

6. Best way to warm up after said freezing cold baseball game? Hot toddy.

7. I am oh so near the end of Unbroken, and getting so excited to get to start a new book soon! What will it be?!

8. With the improving weather, the kids may yet get a chance to bike to school.

9. My daughter is currently outside crafting a fishing pole so she can go fishing with the loveliest 5 year old boy. One of her greatest qualities is her big kind heart.

10. My newest favorite picture of the kids!


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Ten on Tuesday.

1. It is 80 degrees here, no joke. And in 48 hours I'll be back in my fleece. I love you, Minnesota.

2. Costco has messed with my morning coffee again, and hopefully for the last time. I have once again brought home a half gallon of whipping cream instead of half and half. Who on earth needs an entire half gallon of whipping cream?

3. I am getting closer to having summer book lists ready!

4. On Saturday morning the kids woke up and brought me A Night Divided in bed and we finished it! Really excellent read aloud, and tonight we can start a new book!

5. Yesterday on my run I started listening to Trevor Noah's Born a Crime, which is truly excellent so far, but I can't recommend unless you'll promise to listen to it. His voice, and all of the languages he speaks, absolutely requires listening.

6. We are down to two more days of school this week, and then three, 4-day weeks.

7. Saturday night Ron and I are getting a date night! (Too bad the weather isn't going to be bright and sunny!)

8. Date nights sometimes mean celebrations and this one is in celebration of Ron's 40th! Yay we'll be the same age.

9. At the beginning of the school year I put some money in Alla's school lunch account in case she wants a few extras during the year. She rations it, and the money is usually gone by the end of the year. This was the first year I put any in Fisher's. Since he can't have school lunch anyway, I've never bothered. But this year I thought he might like a carton of milk here and there. The kid hasn't touched that money all year, and I'm beginning to wonder if it'll still be there in 9 years when he graduates from high school.

10. It feels like this today, so I'm going out to enjoy what's left of it!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Mothering.


Guys, we have made it.

It's Mother's Day weekend.

Are you kicking up your feet yet? I'm not gonna lie, I like to take as much of the weekend as I can. Ron always travels the week before Mother's Day, so as a rule I am always earning my stripes this week. Taking both kids to events, finding friends (thank you!) to get one where she needs to go so I can take the other, watching three baseball games in four days, cooking dinner to eat at 5:00 so we can leave at 5:10, then getting another meal in them at 9:00 pm when we're home. Two months ago there was nothing on my calendar. I was eating bonbons. Now? We are sprinting through the week. Thank you, May. (Just kidding there, I don't like bonbons.)

On top of all that, I've been up til 12:30 every night this week checking blood sugars. Thank you, diabetes and baseball. So all of the above, plus less than six hours of sleep each night. Do any of you know me? Less than six hours of sleep is not my favorite. I don't know if I get Mom of the Year this year, but I am doing my best on less than six hours of sleep each night.

I am over the moon about this weekend. It's going to be 80 degrees. There are zero events we have to be at tomorrow. I might get to read my book. I might get to put flowers in the pots in our front yard. I might get to sleep in. I hope my kids come downstairs to snuggle me. I hope they bring our book. Maybe we will finish it!

I am so lucky that my own Mom lives close enough to celebrate the day with me! As my kids get older, I am baffled by the juggling she had to do raising us. My brother and I did completely separate activities, and never attended the same school! But we did all the things. She made sure of it.


I love being a mom, and often write about the little things being the big things, and take pictures of the day to day.

I also really love Mother's Day, because it's beautiful out and I genuinely feel celebrated and appreciated - thank you, Ron.

Get in the picture with your kids this weekend. But also, kick up your feet. Read a whole book. Plant a garden. Or don't. Do what you want, this ONE day of the year.

Happy Mother's Day!




Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Ten on Tuesday.

1. Baseball season is in full swing. It's quite relaxing once we're there. Fun to watch, and really the first two hours I am able to sit all day.


2. Alla got her first pair of glasses!
3. The kids asked about their summer reading lists. Making those lists is one of my favorite things to do before the kids get out of school - I sit down with my Goodreads list, notes I keep on my phone, and reminders about what they read last summer. Luckily they don't get out of school until June 8th, so I have some time.

4. They have their eyes on the American Ninja Warrior gym as a reward for summer reading.

5. I did manage to order summer math books, so I'm on top of something.

6. Alla and I took a wonderfully fun polymer clay class this weekend (Groupon!) at Clay Squared in Minneapolis. We rolled, mixed, and made amazing designs. Highly recommend!

7. May is a crazy month!

8. That said, there is currently NOTHING on my calendar for Saturday. Nothing. I usually fill in weekend calendars with a few house projects, or a few things we can do on the weekend to make the week ahead a little lighter. I am understandably hesitant to mark up by beautifully clear Saturday.

9. I am halfway through Unbroken, and while I'm enjoying it quite a lot and so very wowed by the story, I'm also quite eager to get on with it and read something else.

10. I am itching to plant some dang flowers. The flower marts are open and tempting but I need more than 5 minutes in there to pick out what I need for my front planters at least. Perhaps I'll revisit #8.

Have a good week!

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Ten on Tuesday.

1. The first day of May didn't treat us well at all. It rained, snowed, didn't get much warmer than 40, and was just generally unpleasant. Today the sun is shining and we hear we're being treated to progressively warmer days all week! This weekend we are officially putting away the snow pants. (So go ahead and blame me if it snows again.)

2. The bad weather did, however, prompt me to make one more vat of vegetarian chili and cornbread, and since the recipe makes enough for about 85 bowls, I haven't had to cook for the past couple nights!

3. But. We are really looking forward to grilling weather, shorts and t-shirts, and reading on the deck.



4. Alla turned twelve, and I didn't die. In fact it was quite a lovely day (well, weather-wise, she'd have liked some sun and warmth), a low-key birthday celebrating her. We went out to dinner, then came home for cake and presents. We surprised her by putting a big gift in her room while she was in the shower that night - a desk! She's crafting up a storm there already.

5. She also got Wicked tickets for she and I for TONIGHT! So, I guess the birthday celebration continues!

6. Over the weekend Fisher played in the district chess tournament and won 5th place overall! This is an improvement of more than 20 places from last year, so he is over the moon. To show just how important chess is, he missed a baseball game on Saturday for this tournament, the culmination of chess club for this school year.

7. Alla won a button design contest at school for New Brighton's Stockyard Days! She came home when the contest was announced, and decided she was going to win. She worked so incredibly hard on her design, doing it over and over until it was just right. I was so happy when she told me!

8. We watched a really good movie for family movie night over the weekend - Greater. Highly recommend.

9.  Something to look forward to at the end of this week - Cinco de Mayo! Homemade, non-mix, non-neon margaritas for sure. After the baseball game. Yes, I think Fisher might actually have baseball weather this week.

10. Taking Alla to a fun polymer clay class this weekend at Clay Squared to Infinity! She doesn't know, but since this is right up her alley, she is going to be over the moon!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Ten on Tuesday.


1. This girl, on her birthday eve. Twelve tomorrow. Sheesh.

2. The weather was amazing over the weekend, and now it's pouring and temperatures are dropping into the 40s (if we're lucky) for the next few days. Really ready for just short sleeves.

3. Tonight was supposed to be Fisher's first baseball game of the season, and he was on the roster as a pitcher! We got an unexpected night off because #2.

4. Ah, well, no baseball meant an early night, which meant several chapters of A Night Divided.

5. Fisher is looking forward to the district chess tournament on Saturday morning.

6. The birds (robins and doves) have been flying around looking to settle in for weeks, but, sadly, we don't see any nests. I wish the bunnies weren't getting cozy. They are eating my hostas, which was not a problem before last year. I have no idea what to do.

7. The nice weather over the weekend caused us to feel like we should be doing something with our yard instead of just sitting there reading books. So Ron thatched and I cleaned out beds and raked up all the dead grass. We are starting to wake up our gardening muscles.

8. I picked up a very cute book yesterday that Alla read in two hours - A Boy Called Bat. I am now reading this one along with Unbroken, though not nearly as quickly.

9. We haven't watched the previous seasons of American Crime, but this season is very good.

10. We also watched CNN's new series, Soundtracks, which is terrific.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Ten on Tuesday.


I am unable to stop with the beautiful Florida floral photographs. We have nothing like this here. The locals probably thought I was nuts going around and photographing their very everyday, expected flowers.
1. Fisher got Unbroken for his birthday (the young adult adaptation), and is now insisting that we all read it. It's been on my list (and my actual bookshelf) for years, so I'm glad for the push to get to it.

2. A book I recommend to absolutely everyone, and the book I read on spring break - The Hate U Give. Don't say I don't read YA, or this subject doesn't interest me. If you are a human living in our world today, this is required reading. It is easily one of the best books I have ever read.

3. Alla has found a new series - The Keeper of the Lost Cities. If you have a voracious reader who also loves Harry Potter and The Land of Stories, this may get you a stack that will last a few days!

4. Fisher has earned the number one spot in his school chess tournament, and is very much looking forward to the district-wide tournament in a couple of weeks.

5. Lately we are having a heck of a time finding kid movies for our Friday nights. The library's movies are picked-over and scratched up, and Netflix's pickings are slim at best.

6. A favorite easy recipe: 2 bananas, 1 cup quick oats, 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Mash it, form it into cookies, bake at 350 for 15 minutes. You can even serve them for breakfast.

7. We have a small living room/entry way by American standards, so you'd think it'd be super easy to find a company who could rip out our mish mash of carpeting and tile and put in something else. But, as I have found with almost every other aspect of home improvement, it is not easy.

8. I am eager for it to warm up quicker, for the temperature to warm to that easy feel where you can sit outside and wear flip flops and not grab a sweatshirt. I think what I'm wanting is, Florida on spring break temperatures. But all the cool is bringing rain, and the rain is bringing green, and that at least gives some hope that warmth might be on the way.

9. Fisher is growing as fast as the grass, and is in dire need of new pants. I took some fleece sweat pants from Alla's closet that were 5 inches too short on her, set them in his closet, and now he has two new pairs. Sometimes, even with a girl and a boy, you can do this. If you don't let on.

10. Today I am enjoying the fact that we have a nothing-night. No activities, meetings, baseball, nothing. Going to make a real dinner. A hot dinner.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Missing Anna Maria.

Have you stepped into the spring chaos yet? I feel like as soon as we stepped off the plane after Spring Break, that chaos greeted us at baggage claim. Spring is fun, the best part of the school year, when there are ALL THE ACTIVITIES to look forward to, and the summer just so close, but also, ALL THE ACTIVITIES. A trade-off, I suppose, for reliable warmth, the ease of shorts and a t-shirt, and even a bike ride or two to school.

We had an incredible spring break on Anna Maria Island, Florida, where there were no trade-offs, one hundred percent reliable weather, a wonderful boy turned 9, and I read a whole book. There were no activities to look forward to, dread, or figure out how to get to.

Just palm trees, ibis, white sand, turquoise water, and a trolley.

So, to warm up this rainy Friday and provide some lush green, the first half of Anna Maria Island.















Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Ten on Tuesday.

1. Let it be known that January 2017 was the month that the Killins family caught the HAMILTON bug. Actually, Alla brought it home with her. They are listening at school.

2. We are now basically only listening to that. Ever. It is amazing.

3. We are also wondering when Fisher will be old enough to go see it.

4. I just finished Homegoing, which was phenomenal.

5. Now Fisher has me reading The Boys Who Challenged Hitler, which is also great.

6. Alla is only reading The Selection series, over and over and over and over.

7.  This white chicken chili is so easy and so good. My only suggestion if you make it, and you should, is to add another chicken breast and maybe decrease the stock by a cup. Otherwise you will have a whole bunch of liquid and not much stuff. It's a winner in our house because it's a "chips and cheese meal."

8. Is it winter where you are? If by winter, we're talking about temperatures in the teens, then tomorrow it will be winter here. But our snow pack is almost non-existent, which is not the best for February.

9. Also not the best for February - freezing rain. That crap nipped my run in the bud this morning.

10. Our family still hasn't seen Hidden Figures! Definitely have to change that soon.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Ten on Tuesday.

1. I woke up on Saturday morning with the cold that Fisher came down with on Friday afternoon. No warning. I am all done with this and ready to have my nose back.

2. It would be great if the sun would make an appearance. I know it's been hiding for at least 5 days.

3. Got a clean bill of health from the dermatologist today. I don't know about anyone else, but if I could change one thing about my childhood it would be my lack of sun protection.

4. It seems our family needs a whole cupboard just for water bottles, as they are multiplying. Unfortunately the cupboards are not.

5. Middle schoolers still have cute mispronunciations. Sadly, I think we're past the days of her saying liblary and callepitter, but just last week I got "persipate" instead of perspire, and I didn't even try to correct that.

6. Yesterday Minnesota Kelly Barnhill won the day by picking up the prestigious Newbery award for The Girl Who Drank the Moon! My very own daughter won the day by not only watching the awards live with me for the umpteenth year in a row, but by suggesting she'd like to miss school so we could be at the presentation in person. I mean, how do I make that happen? Do I have to be a librarian?

7. Currently reading = Homegoing. I am only 50ish pages in, but I can tell you this is one amazing book. Layered, generational, important, well done. I'm not a fast reader, but I don't mind savoring this one. (As long as I can renew it.)

8. Currently wrapped in a blanket while the kids play outside in the mild temperatures and taco meat simmers on the stove.

9. Kids get Thursday and Friday off this week!

10. We have been waiting for a free weekend to take the kids to see Hidden Figures, maybe this is the one.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The big 4-0.

Big birthday, come and gone.

Lunch with my husband.

Dinner with everyone. So very glad I could spend my 40th with my Mom!!

Then, Ron had a 40-balloon bouquet waiting when we all arrived at the Radisson Blu on Saturday afternoon. 40 balloons is a lot, let me tell you. Kids listed the balloons on their favorite list from the weekend.


Weekend fun:

Mani with Alla
Pool for the kids
Hanging up my coat for a full 24 hours
Fisher beating us at mini golf in the Mall of AmericaBurger Burger
Breakfast at the hotel
Not cooking for two days
Finishing a book, starting another
Sleeping in the hotel with all of my loves and my 40 38 balloons (pop)
Coming home to sunshine and thirty degrees




I would love to impart some wisdom upon turning 40, but all I can say is that it feels like New Year's Day, very fresh and at the beginning and appreciative and full. There is something that happens from the day you're 39 and 364 days to the day you turn 40, and maybe it's perspective. Maybe gratitude. Maybe understanding. Probably it's simpler than that. In our family we practice gratitude everyday, but this feels a little bigger, a bigger thank you. 40 years is a lot. 40 might be the new 30 or whatever garbage they are spewing in Hollywood, but it is a lot of years. A lot of earned years.

I am so thankful for so much, for my family and for health and for love and for these awesome balloons.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Ten on Tuesday.



Trying to get back to making a habit of this, so...

1. My big 4-0 is now 3 days away!

2. It's Tuesday, which means Fisher and I started our day at Chess Club.

3. Looking forward to leftovers of last night's Lentil Soup. This is an absolute family favorite.

4. Just finished The Sun is Also a Star - very enjoyable. Alla seems to be in a lull when it comes to handing off books to me, so that means I get to get back to my wonderful friend Katherine's book, Very Married! Katherine is a gifted writer; you'll want to savor these words.

5.The two novels I didn't get to from my 2016 list are Christodora and Homegoing. I will be getting to those very soon, as I'm sure Alla will start thrusting books at me if I don't. And also she truly wants me to read The Land of Stories. And also if the final Penderwicks book comes out this year, I pledge to purchase the set and devote the time to all five in a row.

6. I am getting near the end of Amy Poehler's (audio)book, and admit I am eager to be done with it. I'm too far in to quit now, but the problem is I kinda don't care. If you love SNL or Parks and Rec or AP herself, this is the book for you and there are definitely some hilarious parts. But. I don't care that much, and I'm going to have to remember that before the next audio book I pick out.

7. We got a tiny bit of snow yesterday and it's still snowing today, which is lovely, because prior to this we just had the deep freeze and a dwindling snow pack. The snow is so so pretty.

8. This may be the first winter on record that I haven't complained that my face is so dry. Success! Now if only I could figure out my poor cracking hands.

9. We were treated to Alla playing in the orchestra concert last night. I love to see her growth, am so impressed that she has learned to play the violin, and cannot believe how wonderful the high school orchestra sounds. I am hoping and hoping that she plays all through high school.

10. My awesome daughter also helped me greatly this weekend by sitting here at the computer and creating a 2017 calendar for our family so I could finally order it. She can't wait for it to come so she can show the family.

Friday, January 06, 2017

So glad it's the weekend.


I woke up this morning already looking forward to going back to bed. Not because the day was going to be too depressing and I couldn't bear it, just because sleep is so great.

And our bed is so great.

And on weekend mornings, one or both kids will often come down and join us for a reading-snuggle party until we're hungry enough to get up.

And, it's been bitterly cold, so tucking in with good books is what you do this time of year.

I'm reading The Sun is Also a Star, and listening to Amy Poehler.

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Ten on Tuesday.

1. Happy New Year!

2. It's 2017. That's a big year. We are officially ten days away from 4-0. I am not sure why the use of we. Perhaps it's going to take me these ten days to get a grip.

3. In the meantime, this is the state of my living room. Just keepin it real, yo.


4. Kids went back to school today after a swell winter break. No one was very excited, but Alla seemed great when I picked her up, and Fisher said it was such a fun day. Perhaps they missed their routines more than they thought.

5. I wanted to go for a run today, outside, but was thwarted by a treacherous glaze on every running surface available to me. I hate the treadmill, but today was grateful for it.

6. Ron and I have both recently finished our read-alouds with the kids. He finished the Percy Jackson series, and I just finished The Land Without Color, which Alla and I picked up at the Twin Cities book festival in the fall. Local author!

7. I read Adam Gidwitz' wonderful The Inquisitor's Tale, and would not be mad if this wins the Newbery. It's that good.

8. Strangely enough, I did not set a reading goal for the year. I am deeming this the catch-up year, moving to the top of the list all those books that I've been pushing aside for newer ones. I'm intrigued by re-reading Harry Potter. I know Alla wants me to read The Land of Stories. We shall see. I have yet to take all of the books off of my library list, so not sure how successful I'll be "catching up."

9. We are looking forward to seeing Hidden Figures, maybe this weekend.

10. For Christmas I got a Vitamix from my very lovely husband, so I am back on a smoothie kick (kids still call them moo-moos), drinking lots of green smoothies.

linkwithin

linkwithin