Hooray for Dads!

Celebrating fathers who make their kids laugh.

Happy Father’s Day! I am grateful to be married to a guy who is an awesome dad. Mike’s goofy sense of humor was one of the first things that caught my eye, and our kids love it as well. He understands the importance of hugs, storytelling, and spending time together as a family. Mike loves teaching the kids new things. They often read Wikipedia articles together at bedtime, he dismantles electronics with them, visits their schools to talk about his work, and uses our coin collection to teach them about the world.

Great dads understand the importance of hugs

I was very fortunate to grow up with a wonderful dad – one who told silly stories and spent hours reading out loud to his kids. My dad was always game for adventure. He moved my family from country to country across the globe, and was always looking for opportunities to introduce us to museums or take us on road trips to historical sites and to visit neighboring countries. We camped in the pouring rain and navigated mainly by compass on roads you could barely see in the Bolivian Altiplano. He taught himself several languages, determined not to remain on the fringes of the countries we moved to every few years. I inherited my dad’s love of stories and singing.

Mike was also raised by a wonderful dad! Mike’s dad found ways to incorporate Mike’s interests into the small business he owned, and he took his kids camping every summer. Mike inherited his dad’s outgoing friendliness and love of humor.

I hope you have a wonderful day celebrating the great dads you have in your lives, remembering the fathers we miss, and dreaming of the amazing fathers your sons will grow up to be, some day. Here’s to fathers who care, fathers who dream, fathers who work hard, fathers who laugh, and – most of all – fathers who love their families. Hooray for dads! We love you!!!

Setting Goals for May 2014

Setting Goals for May 2014

April flew by, so I am glad we kept goals simple! Emma and Johnny had a lovely spring break, that new feels as if it were light years away, in spite of the month flying by so quickly. We spent loads of time outdoors – one benefit of having an indoor space that none of us adore! I got some lovely pictures of the kids meeting their newest cousin, captured the lovely flower above, and took a few others that will show up in posts this upcoming month. We took the kids into San Francisco for the first time, and had a wonderful time there! I joined a community choir run by my college voice teacher (they practice once a week, after the kids are in bed – perfect for me) and got to practice my newborn photography skills both on my niece and a friend’s newborn – something I would love to perfect. Johnny got to know the students in his new kindergarten class better. Emma finally mastered the steps of the traditional Mexican dance she is learning at school. Lily and Anna developed a more solid this-is-how-we-play-when-it’s-just-the-two-of-us routine. I have challenges I’m dealing with that I don’t write about much because this blog is my happy place, but there is a lot of beauty in my life.

May 2014 Goals

I’m keeping my May goals simple, because – even though it’s been nearly a year since we put our house in Massachusetts on the market – we still haven’t quite found our feet in California. Moving across the country is complicated – and exhausting!

  • Enjoy the last month of school, and have the kids write thank you notes to their wonderful teachers. Theme: gratitude
  • Keep taking pictures of the kids. Photography makes me happy, and I love capturing memories. Theme: gratitude
  • Start making summer plans. Theme: responsibility and education

I’ll meet my simplicity theme by, once again, stopping with these very basic goals. What are your planning to do in May?

May goals 2014

Cohosted by:

Mama Smiles – Joyful Parenting
3 Dinosaurs
B-Inspired Mama
Happily Ever Mom
Kids Yoga Stories
Lemon Lime Adventures
Smiling Like Sunshine
The Educators’ Spin On
The Life of Jennifer Dawn

Welcoming a New Family Member

welcoming a new family member.

My kids got a new baby cousin in the wee hours of April 13th, and all week long they asked when they would be allowed to meet her. We drove them out on Saturday, and they were so thrilled!


Little V took hold of Emma’s finger, and Emma was so pleased! Johnny thought V was very sweet, but was a little disappointed that she was so sleepy. Newborns do tend to act that way!


Lily has always adored babies, and she held her for ages with this beatific expression on her face. I don’t know that I have ever seen Lily looking quite so contented!


Anna mostly played with her little cousin S (V’s big brother, who my kids also got to meet as a newborn), but she definitely thought V was cute!


Watching Emma and Lily play with V was so sweet! This little girl has a band of very devoted little cousins!

afterschool linky

2014 After School Party HOSTS

The Educators’ Spin On It
Planet Smarty Pants
Boy Mama Teacher Mama
Coffee Cups and Crayons
Little Wonders’ Days
Mama Smiles
Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational
The Measured Mom
This Reading Mama
What Do We Do All Day

How was your afterschooling week? Are there any new babies in your family or circle of friends? Please share you elementary school aged activities in the linky below (by doing so you are giving the linky hosts permission to feature your post and to pin it to our After School Activities board on Pinterest). I loved this crayon batik project from sparkling buds and this roll a pizza game from Mess for Less from last week’s link-ups!

Children Need Free Time

Giving children free time allows them to explore their world.

As parents, it is easy to worry about providing children with resources, but free time is the best possible resource you can provide for your child – and it is free! Children need free time to explore their world, develop ideas, and understand things that they observe.

Giving children free time allows them to develop hobbies.

Giving kids free time is a wonderful way to help them discover hobbies. Emma spends a lot of time taking pictures with our little digital camera, and she has learned to pay attention to light, shadows, and how she frames her pictures.

Giving children free time allows them to explore possibilities, among other benefits!

Free time also provides the space children need to explore boundaries. Emma and Johnny recently got together and devised this alternative menu for our family. We didn’t end up eating their menu, but it was fun to see them come up with candy alternatives to foods we really do eat!

whimsical menu thought up by children during unstructured free time

Unstructured free time sets imagination free! Four-year-old Lily recently discovered that fingers make excellent pretend people – and I remember doing the same as a child. What a wonderful thing, to discover that you don’t need special toys or props to enter a make believe world!

Free time provides the space for imaginative play that children need to explore and understand their world.

Free time is important for adults, as well! We need unstructured time to decompress, think about things that have happened, contemplate ideas, and mindfully plan how we want to make the most of our life. I find that free time is something I have to consciously schedule into our lives, and that it works best when we have large blocks of time when we are either at home or in nature. We also create free time by limiting electronic distractions – television, email, phones, internet and even my camera! Technology is wonderful, but it can easily take over our lives!

What benefits do you see in making unstructured free time a part of daily life? How do make time for this precious resource in our busy modern world?

Setting Goals for December 2013!

getting ready for Christmas - December goals for 2013

The kids and I have been busier than ever with Christmas preparations as we prepare for their first-ever Christmas with no snow! I think we’re compensating for being in a new place and missing snow (but not the cold that goes with snow!) We set up our tree early, and it’s been fun to see one-year-old Anna play with it! We just have IKEA’s little budget artificial tree, which makes for a great play tree (and looks nicer than you might expect it to, although clearly artificial).


I did okay with my November goals. We didn’t do as many structured gratitude activities as I might have liked in November, but our gratitude tree was very popular, and I noticed that seven-year-old Emma had a nice gratitude focus. I got rid of some stuff, but need to do a thorough purging at the beginning of November! Luckily I have a donation commitment, which I find always helps! Having a fantastic way to bike with Anna is definitely helping me get outside more – now I just need to get my three bigger kids riding bikes confidently! I am thrilled to have all of our Christmas shopping done; there are a few gifts I need to get made by hand.

Anna started up Early Intervention here (following up from services she had in Massachusetts, but it takes a while to transfer over). Her physical therapist here is excellent, but there are a lot of questions over why she doesn’t like to use one leg, why she holds her weight strangely on both legs, and why she has poor muscle tone overall. She is making progress, she continues to be a super cheerful kid, and we have a great medical team to work with, so I’m happy about that.

monthly goals linky at mama smiles

Here are my December Goals:

  • Make sure we have plenty of down time as a family. I love moments like this hug from Anna! Focus area: gratitude
  • Continue to simplify, especially belongings. Focus area: gratitude and simplicity
  • Keep the kids focused on giving and gratitude. Focus area: gratitude
  • Get our Christmas card made and sent out. We have the family picture done, at least! Focus area: gratitude (for friends and family)

What are your goals for December 2013? Are you interested in joining in setting monthly goals as a blog hop or linky for 2014?