Friday, October 30, 2009

Bubble Tea & the Friday Rat Race

I swore I wasn't going to do this, again. Fridays from January-May were nuts for us: I had to leave MOPS early at 11:20, Annelise had tap at 11:40, I left her there with friends to pick up Will at school at 11:55, and raced back by the end of dance at 12:10. It was only an hour of craziness, but it stressed me out and made me feel like I was already chauffeuring middle schoolers! I promised myself I wouldn't do that, again...

But we are. It's not *as* bad: I can leave MOPS just a few minutes early at 11:30, get both kids from school a few minutes early at 11:40, and get to tap for the new class at 12, but I am going to try very hard not to let myself get worked up by the ticking clock. Having punctuality as a virtue can also be a bit of a curse when it turns you into a hysterical banshee if you're 5 minutes late.

So today was:

* MOPS - I love those women! It is so relaxing to hang out, eat a hot breakfast, & commiserate with other moms, kid-free.

* The kids' Montessori fall music program - it was sweet, but Will & Annelise are each in different classrooms; both programs started at the same time, and since JB is still on the way home from his business trip, I had to run back and forth b/t the classes. I messed up and went to Annelise's first. I thought since she was younger, she'd "need" me there more. Nope. Will is our super-sensitive soft heart, and when I got to his class 5 minutes into their songs, he was almost in tears, b/c I wasn't there. Rip my heart out. Annelise was happy to see me, but really couldn't have cared less. Duely noted for future reference.

* Annelise's first day back at tap this fall - it was fantastic to have our old dance class from last year back together! It's almost all of the same girls from her last class & recital, which rocks b/c all of us mommies have become friends, too. It almost functions as a standing playdate afterwards, which is nice.

Everyone had plans today, though, so the kids asked if we could go to bubble tea for lunch. I'm never that hungry on Friday at lunch after my giant MOPS breakfasts, but I can never turn down bubble tea. We get our bubble tea here at Joy Yee Noodles - the best pan-Asian food I may have ever had in my life. AMAZING! They have the most delicious chicken pad thai, and then we get a GIANT mango tapioca freeze for all 3 of us to share at the table. (It's like 3 servings for the price of 2. You know the mongo margarita glasses at Mexican restaurants? It's served in those! :-P)

Will and our waiter buddy:

Daddy's girl:


People are always asking me, "What IS bubble tea?" Here are a few links that explain it more completely than I can: this one and that one

People usually either love the tapioca balls or hate them. I love them! They taste like honey-flavored gummi bears. They're just fun! At Joy Yee, (and most places,) you can get the drink part as tea or a fruit smoothie. Joy Yee just blends fresh fruit, ice, and a splash of simple syrup in theirs - it's way healthier than ice cream or coffee drinks! Of course, I prefer the "worse for you" tea versions: black tea, milk/creamer, simple syrup, and usually another flavoring. My faves are almond & taro. Taro tastes like a cookie! Creamy sweet cookie-flavored ice tea is what I'm drinking right now!

If the tapioca balls freak you out, you can get all of the smoothies & teas w/o, but PLEASE try it just once! Be adventurous!!! (And call me to go with you ANYTIME!)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Van Dancing & Focusing on *Me*

So, up front: my journal entries are often REALLY long, esp. when I haven't written in a while. I'm hoping that I'll pop in here more frequently than my last journal, though. I talk a lot about what God is doing in my life, b/c He is ALWAYS doing something & helping me grow, but I hope I never come across as preachy. That is certainly not my intent. I just want to share the good stuff & commiserate over the bad.

I just took the kids to school, and they cracked me up singing & dancing. Will's BFF has really gotten into music, and for his 5th bday, his mom asked me to make him a dance mix CD. (We're good friends & have always enjoyed sharing music ourselves, so I ended up really making a mix CD *for her* that just didn't have any bad words on it. ;-)) My current favorite song that makes me want to dance is Robert Randolph & The Family Band's "Ain't Nothing Wrong With That". My rear cannot sit still when I hear that beat! And the kids think it's fantastic! Will said he thinks it sounds like a football team stomping at the beginning. *love* The next song after that one is Quad City DJ's "C'mon Ride It (The Train)" - yes, the lyrics are a bit suggestive, but come on: it's a dance song with TRAIN NOISES!!! (Will is the most train-obsessed boy on the planet!) Again, the kids are in love. And I am hurdled instantly back to my freshman year at Davidson! So. Much. Fun. They were clapping, singing, and dancing as much as they could in their carseats. School van dance party - holla! ;-) (For what it's worth, our usual car radio fare is KLOVE.)

JB will be home from his latest business trip tonight or tomorrow, and it truly makes me realize how far I've come. I used to think part of a good marriage was this feeling of *needing* to spend as much time with your spouse as possible. I thought it was romantic when my friends said they couldn't sleep well when their husbands were gone. (For the record, I've never had that problem. :-P) I felt like being together was our reward for so much long distance our first 2+ years together. (We started dating the end of his senior year of undergrad. That August, he moved to grad school in Wisconsin, and I moved to Germany! After I came back the next July, I was still in NC while he was in WI until the following May. We both felt if we could make it through all that time long distance w/o finding anyone else "better" that we'd be set for life! :-)) After we were married, I used to flip at the thought of him doing any business travel. When we lived in Georgia, I went home to Charlotte the few times he was away. (Oh, being less than 4 hours from home was BLISS!!! I long for those 2-or-3-day trips!) Our nightmarish time in Michigan was the true test. 11 hours from home in the frigid north with a toddler, a newborn, and a husband who began working insane hours. Bitter & resentful don't even begin to scratch the surface... But I know that God put us there to work on me, and He finally coaxed two of the biggest lessons into my heart:

"God is more interested in changing you than your circumstances," and

"God wants you to depend on Him for your happiness - not people, places, or things."

I finally let go of feeling like I *needed* JB home to be happy; instead, now I just *WANT* him home. ;-) But I while I've missed our snuggle TV time for an hour or so after he gets home from work this week, I haven't been all mopey, and that's refreshing! [Disclaimer: it's WAY easier to not be mopey when I don't have any Girls' Nights or meetings that I'm missing when he's gone! :-P]

I've focused on *me*. I caught up with my digiscrapping, I made Annelise another hair bow - my first korker, I actually started this blog, and - hold onto your socks, people! - I started reading ANOTHER BOOK!!! :-O This is earth-shaking news, b/c everyone knows I do NOT read for fun. I've read 2 books in the last 4 years, and it's not b/c I don't have a pile on my bedside table; I'm just a slow reader who needs complete silence and who really enjoys TV & Facebook a zillion times more. ;-) But, after reading a hysterical book on vacay earlier this month, I softened a bit to the idea of another. Please don't start sending me lists of book suggestions, b/c they'll just stress me out & I will ignore them...but my current read is "special".

Rebecca Wells' Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood was the first book I'd read for pleasure in years. My mom sent it to me while I was in Germany, and it WAS divine. I actually read most of it on a train! I paid a ridiculous sum at a German bookstore (crazy: I remeber exactly which corner of the store that book was in & I can see it in one of these pics!) for the English version of the other Ya-Ya book, Little Altars Everywhere, b/c I just couldn't wait to know more about the characters. (Some things I found out in that one, I wished I didn't know, but...) I had no idea that a few years ago Wells had written a 3RD book in the series: Ya-Yas in Bloom. The reviews are blah, but I'm reading it, anyway. I love the first 50 pages!

Today: making food for my MOPS meeting tomorrow (pumpkin bread & prepping a hashbrown casserole to bake in the morning) and hopefully watching "Good Bye, Lenin!" from Netflix. Ever since we joined last year, I've been getting German language movies, b/c I feel so much of my German is slipping away. It makes me feel good that I can still understand the movies, and I get all proud of myself when I realize parts they've left out in the subtitles. ;-)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Who am I, and why am I here?

Who am I?
I am an open book, a serial oversharer, a loud talker, and ready to spill my life story at the drop of a hat. Eating out is my biggest vice and punctuality one of my biggest virtues. I am addicted to TV, Facebook, and sugar. I am obsessive about taking pictures, maintaining our family website and digital scrapbooking. I am a Carolina native, I live for the beach and daily dream of Charleston, SC. I love to sing & dance; I'm on our church Praise Team, and I have started teaching dance, again, on Monday mornings, (while my kids are at preschool.) I am a super fan of the Washington Redskins and Joyce Meyer. Bubble tea is my favorite beverage. I lived in Würzburg, Germany for a year, and I adore European travel! I graduated from Davidson College in NC with a BA in German & International Studies with the intent of pursuing international law...until I interned at a law firm and realized that God meant for me to be a stay-at-home mom! I believe being a mother is the greatest and hardest job on earth, and I am passionate about helping other young mothers feel connected, which is why I am the coordinator of my MOPS group. We've had 5 moves in last 9 years with JB's job. I am *not* OK with winter in any form, but I'm still loving life in a posh Chicago suburb for now, until one day when we can move home to the South forever!!!

Why am I starting this?
I have always been a journaler. I got my first diary in elementary school and haven't stopped since, (except for several blurry years in college. ;-)) Writing always helps me to work things out; venting in type helps me to realize things really aren't that bad. I am also a Nostalgia Queen, and being a mother of two, I want to remember *everything*. I have kept a journal on a private site for over seven years, but for whatever reason, I felt as if I was being weaned away this year into a new season. I enjoyed the freedom of not feeling self-pressured to post...but I do miss going a little more in depth than just my FB status updates sometimes. The #1 reason is that I also want a place, again, where I can save all my thoughts and stories. I saved all of my old private journals, but there's no concise way to save all of your FB statuses, you know?

I make no promises or even guesses as to how frequently or coherently I'll update, but I'm excited to see if this fills the journaling void I've been feeling lately. Welcome!!!

What does CastleBlake mean?
JB & I named our wedding website CastleBlake almost 8 years ago, alluding to us going to be the Blakes and this being our "castle" - our domain. We've used CastleBlake ever since to allude to our family. :-)

Who else makes up the CastleBlake clan?
JB - husband, daddy, corporate revolutionary
Will - 5, Kindergartener, plays tough, super sensitive heart
Annelise - (aka "Sissy" & every derivation of "Princess Pumpkin Peach") 3, Montessori preschooler, dancer & cheerleader-in-training
Bonnie Blue - 7, beagle, sleeps all day & in our bed at night