For Your Weekend | Olympic Fever Edition

For Your Weekend | Olympic Fever Edition

Sign of Olympic fever…snapping Olympic athletes!

When the Rio Olympics began over a week ago, I thought I would be able to resist the call of USA chants, worrying over athletes’ performances I never even knew until the tear jerking stories narrated by Bob Costas, and the over the top spectacles of the opening ceremonies. 

 I failed miserably and darn it, caught myself a full blown case of Olympic fever!

So, for all things Olympic, here’s amazing and funny links to help you through the final weekend of the Rio Olympics!

Usain Bolt is the fastest man on Earth, but these 15 amazing facts about him may surprise you!

For example, Usain Bolt has never run a full mile, ever.

Speaking of Usain Bolt’s amazing times, this gal has figured out how she can beat Bolt’s world record!  

Wonder just how hard those high tech swimsuits are to wear? Click here For the 411!

Forget Michael Phelps, Simone Biles and Usain Bolt, this US athlete is the greatest athlete in the world you never heard of and won his second gold medal in the decathlon.

His name is Ashton Eaton | image via The Washington Post

And, my list would be incomplete without a mention of all the women’s athlete fashion!

First, can we talk about the women’s glorious hairstyles ?

Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce for the win representing her country’s colors!

I’m in love with all the braids, color dips and imaginative styles these fierce women athletes are rocking on the track and field. I marvel that these women can win gold medals and break world, Olympic and personal best records whilst sporting such intricate and seemingly heavy hairdos!  You go girl!!

Even though the track and field women have center stage for the most amazing hairstyles, don’t worry about the women in swim caps or utilitarian ponytails. 

The Olympic nail art game is strong with all the women athletes!!

Italy’s Silvia Di Pietro’s nails are winning!

Finally, Simone Biles’ sparkly patriotic eyeliner is insane!

So much sparkly USA goodness! | image via Cosmopolitan

Simone already sparkles but the extra eyeliner sends her over the top!  Again, my tears just well up thinking about glitter so close to her eyeballs and how she could compete!

What’s been your favorite moment or athlete from the Rio Olympics?  I’d love to hear about it!


Words for Wednesday | What’s Underneath the Surface

My favorite childhood book!

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle sits at the top of the list of my all time favorite books!  
I remember first checking the book out at my elementary school library and staying up waypast my bedtime unable to put it down. 

With school starting back up I decided to reread it again and came upon this quote:

People are more than just the way they look.”  -Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time


A wonderful truth for a middle schooler to read and absorb and yet it remains true for this middle ageish adult as well.  

People are more than the way they look. And as our kids begin their classes and meet new classmates we encourage them to make new friends, to see beyond the way a kid looks.  

Just like our kids, we are meeting new fellow parents at parent information meetings such as sports, PTA, and meet your teacher. Are we also making new friends and looking beyond the exterior?

If I’m honest, I categorize and judge  fellow parents too…the crossfit stay at home mom, the stressed out executive, the car pool mom who’s in charge of everything…and I put up my wall,  my defenses and rest easy in my smug judgment of others.

This quote nudges me to remember that people are more than just  the way they look and extend a warm smile, an offer of grace and or friendship as we weather all the beginning of school year meetings and endless paperwork to sign. 

Have you caught yourself judging other parents?  Do you reread favorite books too?  What about this quote challenges you today?  I’d love to keep the conversation going!  Join me in the comments!

What I Learned After the First Year of Empty Nest 

What I Learned After the First Year of Empty Nest 

Sometimes you still see them as a little baby bird, not ready to leave the nest!

Last August, we experienced our first dose of empty nest as we moved one of our girls   into a college dorm.  I wrote about it here.

This past weekend we repeated the same journey.  With a much less loaded minivan we helped move my stepdaughter into the dorm.  On this trip, Instead of a knot twisting in my stomach, I felt peace and excitement for her upcoming year. 

The unloading was much easier this year!
At the dorm we greeted the now familiar staff, smiled at the other parents and gave imaginary hugs to the moms of  newbie students trying to hold it together and not cry in front of their child. 

This year is different because we now know what to expect. A year’s worth of experiences under our belts helped us to arrive at this confident attitude. 

Some more words of encouragement for parents leaving their student!
So, what words can I offer to this year’s newbie parents after my first year experience of empty nest?

It’s okay to be sad.  Acknowledge your sadness.  Cry.  You and your student are going through a huge developmental milestone. It would be weird not  to feel anything.  Also, acknowledge if you begin to feel happiness or excitement for having more time to yourself!   That’s allowed!

Your child will return to you.  As long as dirty laundry exists, you will see your child again!  (Or at least their unwashed clothes!) You might even be surprised how a weekend visit disrupts your plans!  

Your child will now know more than you do.  Be prepared. It will no longer matter that you hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, much less a post doc degree in the school of life…your child has been participating in thought provoking discussions learning new fangled ideas and better ways to live.  Suddenly  you know nothing. That new sophisticated attitude is also a developmental milestone, but bless!  Jesus be near me.

Your child will need you but in different ways.  Even though they are independent, your student still needs your emotional, spiritual as well as financial support. Supporting your student is a little trickier as they want to be independent and not get grilled about classes, lectured or told what to do.  

I have learned to let my stepdaughter lead the conversation, listen with my heart as well as my ears and suggest advice only if I believe that’s what she’s needing…another voice, another perspective concerning the situation. Sometimes your best move is to step back and let your child make their own decision even if it’s one you wouldn’t choose for them. Growing Up 101.

Be your child’s  biggest advocate.   Advocate doesn’t mean cheerleader. Although we certainly cheer on our student, we take on a different role when we advocate for her.  An advocate supports the person as a whole, or as the profs say in college…globally.  Sometimes to be your child’s best advocate, you must tell them No.  Not the easiest conversation to have with your learning to adult child, but maybe the most necessary. That’s when the adult part of you kicks in overriding the best friend part of you. 

Your child is equipped to begin the task of college!  Don’t panic. What you’ve poured into your child since their birth won’t suddenly evaporate. There will be challenges and there will be triumphs but your student is ready!

Let your student soar!

Any seasoned college parents out there?  What advice would you share to first time college parents?  Comment below, I’d love to learn from you as well!

The One Thing I Learned This Summer

The One Thing I Learned This Summer

A lovely formal garden discovered on our summer travels
I’m joining Emily P. Freeman’s linkup sharing what I’ve learned this summer. 

Sometimes it’s okay to take a summer off!  I’m the queen of to-do lists.  Writing lists motivates me to get things done. Nothing’s more satisfying that to put a check mark by a completed task. 

But this summer, I took everything  off my to-do list. You might say I had a minimalist summer.  Instead of ramping up my daily agenda, I slowed down. While others (along with my internal voice) might judge this summer as unproductive, I experienced my best summer yet. 

Just like my Compaq laptop I had in grad school, I learned my brain needs defragmenting periodically for it to run faster and more efficiently.   Summer was the perfect time for me to pause and let my mind rest, reorganize information, refocus priorities and rid my brain of all the junk taking up space. 

I still did my normal summer thing. We travelled to the beach, hung out together, explored museums and historical locales in nearby cities and celebrated some amazing answers to prayers.

This painting really spoke to me!
Honestly, I thought I might never find any motivation again.  The floating, untethered laziness was uncomfortable at times. But then these words seized my soul as I read them late one night:

“A seed knows how to wait. A seed is alive while it waits. Every acorn on the ground is just as alive as the 300 year old tree that towers over it. Neither the seed nor the oak tree is growing; they are both waiting.” –Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Life is still inside me as I wait.  Resting and waiting does not kill the life in me but ignoring my need to rest and wait will. 

What have you learned this summer?  Share in the comments or link up to Emily’s post!

What I’m Into This June

What I’m Into This June

Can’t believe the last day of June is here already!  I’m joining up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into this June.

Shopping at Aldi

We have a local Aldi, but I had always avoided it because how different it was compared to other grocery stores. The biggest deterrent for me was not being able to use a credit card (as we earn travel points on our cards).

So when I heard that Aldi now accepts credit and debit cards, it was time to check it out again.  The oddities about Aldi (25 cent deposit for carts and bringing your own grocery sacks) don’t seem as odd after grocery shopping in Brussels and Berlin, where it is the norm. 

Because of those oddities, Aldi can pass on savings to the customer and some staples are ridiculously cheap!  

so yummy!

Aldi now carries many organic staples such as organic grass fed beef, produce, and baking items. My current favorites right now are the mango chipotle cassava chips, churros and 100 calorie guacamole snack packs!

Listening 

Besides my favorite podcasts:

Anne Bogel’s What Should I Read Next?

The Lazy Genius Podcast

The Simple Show

Happier

I’ve also discovered this amazing app when I don’t want to listen to random conversations poolside whilst reading the latest beach read. 

Yes, the app is h_ _ r


Just like Prince, this free app is in a legal fight over the name Hear and so it’s officially the app formally known as Hear.  You can find it here and even enter a contest to rename it!

Basically this app works when you plug in your headphones and distorts the outside noise into pleasant ambient sounds. I love to use this app when I read because it masks the chatter but allows me to focus on reading!

Reading

I’ve almost worked through my June reading

All so good except Eight Hundred Grapes


Besides the above books, I’m also rereading:

Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving & Thriving with the Self-Absorbed 

and reading:

Walk Two Moons

Morning Walks

We’ve had some scorcher summer days already this month. Usually I walk in the evenings with my husband, but the humidity has been killer.  So, I’ve taken to walking in the early  morning before the mugginess descends.   



I’ve seen so much beauty in the morning hours!

What have you been into this June?  I’d love to hear!


For Your Weekend | First Official Weekend of Summer Edition

For Your Weekend | First Official Weekend of Summer Edition

Unexpected treasure discovered on a recent morning walk


Hello Summer (officially)!

Although we’ve been experiencing weather here in southern Kentucky more like the dog days of summer than the first bloom of summer, I’m still greeting it with a huge grin, because summer!   

I hope y’all are keeping cool and chill in your neck of the woods!  Here are some fab weekend links for you to peruse as you hangout poolside!

LOL for all Christians
 
The Babylon Bee
Oh my. I stumbled upon this website via Twitter this week and I believe it may be another means of grace!  As its tag line states “The Babylon Bee is Your Trusted Source for Christian News Satire”.  I laughed until I cried. I don’t know who’s behind this satirical website on all things Christian, but bravo, bravo #allthepraisehands !!
I heart QEII!!

Queen Elizabeth II Classed Up Twitter

I love all things British.  I love Queen Elizabeth II (QE II).  I love Twitter.  So I especially loved that QE II tweeted her first official tweet this week and as you might expect, her tweet was very proper and adorable!

I mean, digital messages! #slayed

A Mother’s Prayer for Teens

Parenting is hard.  Parenting a teen is not for the weak.  To help you in your teenage parenting journey, I give you Jen Hatmaker’s concise perfect prayer:

We pray in agreement, dear Lord…


Mary DeMuth’s article on Predators
Mary DeMuth’s article on 13 Traits of Predatory People should be required reading. Predators aren’t always child molesters or physical abusers.  Predators can be verbally and psychologically abusive as well. This list is insightful and spot on.  

I’d love to hear what’s making you laugh or think this week!  Join me in the comments to keep the conversation going!

7 Essential Items to Take to the Beach

7 Essential Items to Take to the Beach

Nothing like waking up to a beautiful day at the beach!!
 
School’s out and it’s time for summer vacation!  For many families their vacation includes a trip to the beach. 

While enjoyable, a beach trip requires some extra packing. It sometimes seems like I pack everything into the minivan, including the kitchen sink!

Over the years, we have traded the 13 hour grueling car trip for  a plane trip (thank you Southwest companion passes!) and thus have whittled down my must-haves for a beach vacay. 

So, by all means bring your beach chairs, boogie boards and beach umbrellas, but if you’re traveling light…here’s what gets me through a beach week!

One important reminder…sunscreen is always on my list, and I generously slather that stuff on all day long!

image via Bed, Bath & Beyond

1. Bed, Bath and Beyond Lounge Chair Towel
Let’s  be real.  While the beach is fun, I prefer to lounge poolside while reading a great book!  This towel is life changing!  It’s super long, super comfy and  it has a hemmed “pocket” that slips over the top of most lounge chairs to keep your towel from blowing or sliding around!  

Priced at $19.99 it’s well worth the price, plus use your Bed Bath & Beyond 20% coupon or $5 coupon to get an even better deal!

Big enough to help you take an afternoon siesta!

2.  Target One Spot $5 Hat

What trip to Target doesn’t include a drive by the One Spot?  I had spied this hat earlier in the year but hesitated. As you might know, the One Spot’s inventory changes weekly, so I regretted I didn’t snag it. 

Thankfully, right before our trip Target had restocked these fabulous hats perfect for the beach! For five dollars

If you spy this hat at your local Target One Spot…buy it!  It travels well and is sturdy enough to not get blown about on breezy beach days!

happy shady lady wearing $5 hat, reader sunnies & rash guard top
 
3. Reader Sunglasses
Yes, I’m now at an age where I must wear readers.  I absolutely love my Kate Spade reader sunglasses because unlike a lot of reader sunglasses, you can order your specific strength. 
Similar style image via Amazon
 
I’ve had my sunnies for three years and they’re still going strong!  I recently spied fashionable, reasonably priced, different strength reader sunglasses at Sam’s Club!
So cute , so many selections and on sale! image via Land’s End
 

4. Land’s End Rash Guard Swim Shirt

No matter how much sunscreen I slather on, I usually get too pink around my straps and shoulders. A rash guard is your best friend!  I always throw one in my beach bag and when I feel like I’ve gotten too much sun or want to dip in the ocean I slip this on. 

Be sure to look for the American Cancer Society seal and for an SPF rating. The Land’s End rash guards have both and with a  50 SPF rating.  Thankfully cute rash guards are becoming  easier to find.  I’ve even seen them at Old Navy. 

A classic! image via Amazon
 
5. A 24 oz Tervis Tumbler

I know Yeti tumblers are all the rage these days, but I love the 24 oz size of a Tervis Tumbler and the price!  Tervis tumblers are lightweight to pack but heavy enough not to tip over in the sand or poolside!  

Another lifechanging product! image via Baggu
 
6. Baggu Reusable Folding Bag

I love all the cute beach totes. Seriously. All of them!  But they are a pain to fly with and said cute beach totes accumulate copious amounts of sand. 

If you haven’t yet discovered Baggu reusable bags order them today!  Besides having fun graphic designs, they are lightweight but tough nylon, fold down next to nothing and hold a boatload of stuff 

I’ve had my Baggu bags for over 3 years now and they still look brand new. I use mine all the time for grocery shopping. Anyway, this year I brought them with me and used one as a beach bag all week. Life changing!

Besides holding all my stuff, at the end of the week I shook the bag out and all the sand came out! Miraculous!

Lingerie Drying Rack for Wet Swimsuits! image via The Container Store

  
7. The Container Store Lingerie Drying Rack
Confession time… I have forgotten this foldable packable drying rack the last few beach trips!  And every time when its time to hang up dripping wet swim suits I groan!

Yes, I made it through drippy wet swimsuits without this drying rack, but having this is so much easier!   This rack works well with bikini bottoms and tops and can easily hang in the shower.  

Hopefully with this post I will not forget it next time!!!

So there’s my 7 must have items for the beach!  What’s on your essential beach list?  I’d love to hear!  Share in the comments!

For Your Weekend | School’s Out Edition

For Your Weekend | School’s Out Edition

Sweet Summer is upon us!
 
Yes!!! Students shouted all across schools in the US as they finally reach the last day.  

Help!!

Almost simultaneously yelled by parents everywhere upon the reality that school’s out for summer!

Don’t panic…here’s a great linkup to help ease both you and your kids into summertime!

Enjoy the blue skies!
And, most importantly this summer, eat the cake!!! 

There is a scrumptious German chocolate cake underneath the whipped cream!!
      How to Enjoy and Challenge Yourself this June

      How to Enjoy and Challenge Yourself this June

      Hello, June…Hello, Summer!

      June is one of my favorite months!  Besides marking the halfway point of the year, June also just happens to be my birthday month!

      School’s over, Summer starts and the day’s rhythm changes. If I’m not careful, I’ll either tilt too far into inertia or over schedule my summer days. Neither is good. 

      Knowing myself, I’m creating and challenging myself with a June Bucket List to try and balance these two extremes. On this list I’m challenging myself in following categories:

      • Resting
      • Creating
      • Listening
      • Reading
      • Giving

      I like these categories because each provides a space for an area in my life I need pay and give attention to. While bucket lists are fun, I find it sometimes stresses me out to create and check off all the “fun” activities. 

          June Bucket List

          1. Resting| Unplug at the Beach

            Sea, Salt Water & Sunrises

            We travel a lot, but this trip is special because once we get to the beach, we unplug and chill for the week. No outlet mall shopping, no amusement park or mini golf games, just a stack of books, grilling meals and walks to the pier and back. 

            2. Creating | #LetteritJune Challenge

            So much fun to practice and see other’s work!

            Have you noticed you become better at a skill the more you practice it?  I love calligraphy and Jenny Highsmith  provides a monthly lettering prompt for all to join and practice their skills. 

            I love seeing others’ interpretation of a quote or phrase and I love trying out new styles or techniques. You can follow Jenny here on her InstaGram and you track my #letteritjune progress here on Oak Grove Social’s InstaGram. 

            3.  Listening | 7 Days of Still Moments

            image via emilypfreeman.com

            If you’ve read any of my posts it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan girl of author Emily P. Freeman. 

            Emily recently published on her blog this post and her thoughts and feeling about hearing God’s Word read aloud during worship resonates deeply with me. 

            I miss hearing God’s Word during the more contemporary worship service I attend. Emily is offering a free 7 Day Still Moments audio that comes into your email box. 

            In these 7 still moments Emily invites the listener to intentionally listen and then reflect on the questions. You can sign up to receive the 7 audio files here

            After finishing this 7 day still moments, I plan to continue to read aloud Scripture and then spend time reflecting on the Scripture for the rest of June. 

            4. Reading | June Library Haul

            Recommended by Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy

            Poolside and beach reading are the ultimate indulgence!  I’ve already shared the Summer Reading Guide link here and am challenged to read my way through this stack in June!

            5.  Giving | A Surprise

            Strawberries are the best!
            It’s my birthday month and I’ve been given so much that this year I’d like to give. During June I’ll be giving in small ways to others.  

            I won’t be sharing it here, but it will be a daily focus on giving to others in celebration of my birthday!  It’s so much fun to do random acts of kindness as well as just give someone an unexpected gift of time, food or something handmade. 

            How do you celebrate June and Summer?  Do you have summer bucket list?  I’d love to know what you’re planning on accomplishing this month!  Join me in the comments!


            For Your Weekend | Memorial Day Weekend Edition

            For Your Weekend | Memorial Day Weekend Edition

            Before we celebrate a three day weekend, let’s stop and remember why we have this upcoming Monday  holiday. 

            Many soldiers over our nation’s history have given their lives for our freedom. If you’re ever in Washington, DC, make time to visit Arlington National Cemetery.  There’s a Metro stop right at its entrance. 

            I’ve visited Arlington several times.  I’m never quite fully prepared for the physical sight of acres of white soldiers’ tombstones on gently rolling hills. 

            While often used as a set backdrop, these tombstones are real.  And more likely than not, you’ll come across a funeral in progress, a sobering reminder that soldiers are still dying for our freedom. 

            So pray for those families who have lost their family member. Give thanks for our freedom. 

            The Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery
            So enjoy our freedom and celebrate it.

            Here are your weekend links!

            Summer offically begins with a stack of awesome books!

            I religiously read Anne Bogel’s blog  Modern Mrs. Darcy.  Anne publishes a summer reading guide and I love her recommendations! 

            Grab your own copy of her 2016 Summer Reading Guide here.  

            Help Parenting Teenagers!  Last week I tipped y’all off to a new favorite podcast, The Lazy Genius, and I have to highlight an episode I listened to this week about parenting teens.

            Kendra chatted with Meg Duerksen for almost 90 minutes about dealing with a rebellious teen. I loved this real, encouraging conversation that parents need to hear! I’m so glad Kendra didn’t cut off the conversation at 30 minutes.  Just real honest advice from a mom of five who’s lived it and living through it still. 

            Coldplay’s on Snapchat!

            end of Coldplay’s concert in Barcelona

            I’m a Snapchat junkie, goofing with their silly filters more than a grown woman should be!

            Exhibit 1: My abuse of Snapchat !

            When I found out this week that Coldplay is on Snapchat and documenting their stadium concerts, I flipped out!  If you love Snapchat and Coldplay, you’ll flip too!
            Hope you have a great Memorial Day Weekend!