Labor Day 2016 in Atlanta: Family-Friendly and Fun Events!

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer. I have mixed feelings about that idea, but I DO love a 3-day weekend! Here is a list of some fun family events to hit up this weekend in Atlanta and the surrounding areas:

Stone Mountain Labor Day Celebration

Stone Mountain Park honors and appreciates our Everyday Working Heroes in a Labor Day Weekend celebration featuring the Lasershow Spectacular in Mountainvision® followed by epic fireworks display on all three nights (Saturday-Monday)!*

Callaway Gardens Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival

Soar into September at our 18th annual Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival. The weekend kicks off with the extraordinary Friday Night Balloon Glow and continues all weekend long. Watch beautiful balloons in flight or hop in a basket for your own tethered balloon ride. Saturday is filled with family-friendly events, including live music, beach activities, a Kids Zone and much more. There’s something for everyone with a classic car show, disc dog demonstrations, a pyrotechnic skydiving demonstration, as well as a 5K Race and Triathlon event. If you’re a photography buff, you can sign up for our hands-on “Mastering Night Photography” course. Plus, you’ll find drink specials and sports on the televisions at the Beach Bar. Cap off the weekend with a final balloon glow Sunday night on Robin Lake Beach. With this exciting line-up of events, surrounded by the natural beauty of Callaway Gardens, there’s no better way to say “farewell” to Summer 2016.*

AJC Decatur Book Festival

The AJC Decatur Book Festival is the largest independent book festival in the country and one of the five largest overall. Since its launch, more than 1,000 world-class authors and hundreds of thousands of festival-goers have crowded the historic downtown Decatur square to enjoy book signings, author readings, panel discussions, an interactive children’s area, live music, parades, cooking demonstrations, poetry slams, writing workshops, and more*.

Art in the Park, Marietta

Art in the Park will be celebrating its 30th year Anniversary as Marietta Square’s premier event celebrating the arts by featuring both local and national artist displaying their fine arts on Labor Day weekend. Widely acclaimed as one of the best fine art shows in Atlanta, and the only in Cobb County, this FREE Labor Day tradition in and around Glover Park appeals to patrons and budgets of all ages.*

Dragon Con Parade

Atlanta’s largest and most unique parade! Dragon con is a pop culture convention that focuses on sci-fi, fantasy, gaming, comics and related media.This event may not be suitable for some families with young ones.

Smokin’ Up The Mountains

BBQ & Brews is proud to present the first ever Smokin’ Up The Mountains BBQ and Craft Beer Festival in East Ellijay (in the field behind Longhorns) on Saturday, September 3rd – 12 noon to 8 p.m. Free Kid’s Area!*

Atlanta Caribbean Jerk Festival

The 11th Annual Grace Atlanta Caribbean Jerk Festival and Family Fun Day,
An International Food, Culture and Music Festival!*

Celebrate Freedom Concert Tour

Large, outdoor, FREE, day-long, music festival featuring Christian artists.

Avalon Oak + Coletta Labor Day Pig Roast

There’s no better way to spend Labor Day weekend than with a pig roast and cookout! Join Oak Steakhouse and Colletta on Sunday, September 4th from 5 to 8pm for an evening of food and fun for the whole family.

Enjoy a whole roasted pig, oysters, special sides and desserts in Palmer Plaza while listening to live music and sipping on cocktails to celebrate the end of summer. For the kids, there will also be an array of games and face painting to enjoy.*

IPRA World Championship Rodeo, Cumming

Bull Riding, Bare Back Riding, Barrel Racing, Cowgirl Breakaway Roping, Calf Roping, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping and Saddle Bronc Riding.*

Summer Concert Series in Various Cities: 

Norcross

Lawrenceville

Roswell

 

And that’s all folks! I hope you have a beautiful and blessed holiday weekend!

 

*these descriptions have been taken directly from the individual event website

Overnight Oats

I’m sorry I didn’t take a better picture of this for you, or even other pictures while it was in different stages of being made. The truth is that I was asleep while it was making itself and it’s ugly. It is downright tasty and hearty though. I threw all the ingredients into my crock-pot last night and woke up to delicious this morning. Enjoy xo.

overnight oats

Ingredients:

1 cup of steel cut oats

1/2 cup of large rolled oats

2 apples, cored, peeled, chopped

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cups of chopped pecans

1 tblsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tblsp brown sugar

2 tblsp agave nectar

3.5 cups of water

1.5 cups of whole milk

2 tblsp butter

 

1.  Stick all of the above in a greased crock-pot and stir well.

2. Turn on low.

3. Go to sleep.

4. Wake up to deliciousness.

 

I like to eat mine with a bit of brown sugar, splash of cream, and salted butter.

My Top Uses for Essential Oils (Recipes Included!)

I have been using essential oils for a few years now to make my own perfume. There is nothing better than having your own unique, difficult-to-replicate scent. I use them to make my own deodorant that I adore, and they have also been used in my home to treat a couple of minor health issues.

Lately, as I’ve become more of an apothecary and added more and more to my essential oil “pharmacy”, I have come to learn of more uses for them, both household and medicinally. These are a few of my favorite ways to use them, along with recipes.

BEARD OIL

Mr. Right has a beard for several months out of the year. Last year for Christmas I bought him a boutique beard oil that he loved and ran out of quickly. Since then, he has been asking me to make him one myself. This year for Christmas, I made him two. The following recipe is for my favorite one. I chose the carrier oils based on their ability to cleanse, moisturize, be anti-inflammatory, fight acne and get rid of eczema. The essential oils I chose were based on scent and anti-bacterial/microbial properties (eww beards can be germy!). This oil makes his fuzz nice and smooth and smell so fresh and so clean clean. I used a 2 ounce glass amber bottle.

Tall and Woodsy - Copy

Tall & Woodsy Fuzz Face Oil

Tall & Woodsy

1 part sweet almond oil

1 part jojoba oil

1 part apricot kernel oil

12 drops of cedarwood essential oil

5 drops of lavender essential oil

4 drops of tea tree essential oil

2 drops of rosemary essential oil

2 drops of lime essential oil

~ shake for 30 seconds ~

Finish with 2 more drops of cedarwood.

~ shake 30 seconds ~

 

DEODORANT

I love my deodorant. I love it because it works and I love it because it smells better than any commercial-bought deodorant and I love it because I don’t want to get breast cancer. Not that I have any proof that regular deodorants for sure cause breast cancer, but if I can do something that could make a difference, I will. I also breastfeed my babies an insanely long time. Anyway, here you go:

6 tblsp of coconut oil

1/4 cup of baking soda

1/4 cup of tapioca starch or corn starch (I prefer tapioca)

10 drops of essential oil (my fave blend is 8 drops patchouli 2 drops lavender)

Mix it up.

That’s it. So easy. So much better for you. Smells good. The only two cons I can think of are that during the summer you may have to put it in the fridge, because coconut oil has such a low melting point, and that once you put it on you should let it dry before putting clothes on to avoid stains.

DIFFUSER

Ohhhhh I love my diffuser. I haven’t had it long, but I’ve made good use of it every day I’ve had it. I can’t make any health claims, but I will say that when Mr. Right had the flu last week at the same time that my kids both had colds, they all got better once I started using it non-stop with some medicinal blends. I’m not going to give you those though. I’m going to give you my current fave blend. It’s beautiful. Soothing and sexy at the same time. Use it for yoga, meditation or getting frisky. Or just cause it’s amazing.

Essential Oil Diffuser

6 drops of sweet orange essential oil

4 drops of ylang ylang essential oil

4 drops of patchouli essential oil

2 drops of lavender

= Heaven.

CARPET DEODORIZER

I just stumbled upon this idea based on necessity. I’m sure I’m not the first to come up with it, but let me tell you, I was pleased as punch when I thought of it, made it, and it turned out wonderful. My dog was sick a couple of days ago, and as such was letting off the most foul odor you can think of. I have a large area rug in the playroom and my basement is carpeted. They are her favorite spots to lay down. As you can imagine, those places stunk no matter how much I vacuumed. I remembered as a kid, my mom used a scented carpet powder to make ours smell nice. It did smell nice but was far too heavy on artificial scents, and I remember the headache the smell gave me. Mr. Right suggested I use plain baking soda and just sprinkle it everywhere. I took that idea and added some oils, and Voila! Odor-zapping, disinfecting, magic powder!

3/4 cup baking soda

15 drops of lavender essential oil

5 drops of peppermint essential oil

I filled a big red cup with the above ingredients, slapped some Press N’ Seal plastic wrap and shake, shake, shake. Then I punched holes on the top of the plastic wrap with a fork and sprinkled that shit everywhere. It worked like a charm. Left it in an hour and then vacuumed🙂 I used lavender and peppermint because I love the fresh scent of that combo. I often use that combo for my deodorants as well. But you can use any scent you want. Either of those alone would work, any pine would be nice and woodsy, or a combo of 15 drops of orange and 5 drops of lemon or lime would be a lovely citrus scent. You know what else I can use this for that will rock my world? Peed-on mattresses. Huzzah.

Let me know if you try any of these and what you think! I’d love to hear from you! xo

 

The Best Homemade Granola Ever

Gordo has been asking for granola all week. Luckily for him, I have had the last few days off of work for the first time in over a year, so I acquiesced🙂

This recipe is easy; it is, however, time-consuming. It is also the absolute best, makes a shit-ton, and lasts in an airtight container for almost forever. In other words, it’s worth the time.

 

Ingredients:

1st Set:

4 cups of quick oats

2 cups of large old-fashioned flake oats

3/4 cup slivered almonds

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

3/4 cup pecans

3/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes

Granola 1st Set of Ingredients, pre-mixing

2nd Set:

1/4 cup canola oil

1/4 cup coconut oil, liquefied

1/3 cup hot water

3/4 cup honey ( I usually use local, raw)

1/3 cup brown sugar

1.5 tsp vanilla ( I favor Madagascar Bourbon)

1 tsp cinnamon

Granola 2nd Set of Ingredients

3rd Set:

3 cups of dried fruit of your choice (for this one, I wanted a tropical taste and did pineapple, papaya and raisins)

Dried fruit in bowl

 

  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. In large bowl mix 1st set of ingredients.
  3. In medium bowl mix second set of ingredients.
  4. Pour honey mixture over oat mixture and stir well to evenly coat.

Granola after mixing wet and dry

 5. Spread out onto 2 baking sheets (line with silicone mat or parchment paper).

Granola spread evenly on 2 baking sheets

 6. Bake for 20 – 40 minutes stirring every 5 – 10 minutes. Watch carefully at the end. It can get burned quickly. Take it out when it’s a nice golden brown. When I stir, I also rotate the position of the baking sheets.

Granola in the oven

7. Once out of the oven, I stir in the dried fruits immediately and spread  it out again on the same baking sheets to cool into small clumps.

 

Then you can store it in airtight containers for a super long time. But first, eat yourself some warm, fresh granola on top of yogurt – mmmmmm!

 

It’s so easy to make this in different ways by just adding different fruits, nuts, seeds, etc. You just need to keep the measurements the same. I make it a bit differently each time! Enjoy! xo

 

 

 

How Termites (and other things) Changed Everything (for this week, at least)

Our homeschool life goes through stages. Some days everything runs so smoothly and I feel incredibly positive about what we’re doing. Other days getting Gordo to do anything is like pulling teeth and I feel scared about not knowing exactly how to entice him with what we’re learning. Sometimes we have ups and downs in the course of just one week. Other times we go through what feels like ages of everything being hunky dory and then what feels like ages of fighting over everything we’re doing. I suppose it’s just like regular life and relationships of all kinds.

We’ve recently come out of a pulling teeth stage. Gordo was regularly telling me he felt like he was a slave and we were his masters, and he couldn’t understand why he couldn’t decide for himself what he wanted to do with his days (play videogames all day and all night, for anyone who’s interested). I felt terrible about that sentiment of his for a couple of reasons. One is that I don’t believe anyone, even children, should ever feel like they are slaves or don’t have a choice in their own lives. Two is that one of the core reasons I wanted to homeschool was because I wanted to be able to work with his interests to foster a true love of learning, and these feelings he was having were pretty much the opposite of that. I’m lucky that he is able to verbalize so well what he is thinking and feeling. I knew we could turn things around, because we have before, but I wasn’t completely certain how to do it this time.

We started with some new household rules. I know that seems counter-intuitive to implement on someone who is feeling restrained, but previously he was allowed a certain amount of media on a daily basis, and he was fighting doing anything else but media-related things. So that wasn’t working. I knew that I had to make him feel like he was more in control of his daily life. What I did instead of giving him an allotted time for media was to give him a list of things that I expected him to do on a daily basis, and as long as he does the things on his list, he has the freedom to do anything else he wants with the rest of his time, even if it’s playing videogames for hours. It worked. He now does his work, reads, plays, puts away his dishes, tidies his belongings, brushes his teeth and gets dressed without being asked and doesn’t answer back. In return, he has the freedom of choice for the rest of the day. The truth is that he probably plays videogames less now than he did previously, but because he feels more in control, he is enjoying everything else a lot more.

I was also trying to find ways to incorporate a little more fun into some of our lessons. There is a facebook group I belong to called Homeschooling with Netflix. One of the members posted something about the show Wild Kratts and using these worksheets alongside the show for lessons. I hadn’t seen the show but knew lots of people LOVED it, and I like trying new things to see how Gordo responds. So I did, and it was FANTASTIC!

Oak Meadow Termites

We use Oak Meadow for everything but language arts and writing. Our science lesson for the week was on termites, and it just so happened that there is a Wild Kratts episode about the fascinating insects called Termites vs. Tongues. Do you know what I loved most about it, besides the fact that Gordo LOVED it? It’s that this lesson, that required very little planning, incorporated so many different subjects and levels of learning. We did our own version of a couple of the worksheets and also built our own termite nest. It was a 3 day, fun, family affair and it included learning in math and practical skills (making the simple clay), art (drawing, sculpture, painting), science (learning about termite life), vocabulary (prey vs. predator), geography (using a map) AND writing. Phew! That’s a lot of learning incorporated into one super fun project!

We watched the show first and did the worksheets with it. The next day we made the clay and built our structure. The following day we painted and added finishing touches. We are very much looking forward to future science lessons with the Wild Kratts!

Worksheets:

Termite Worksheet 1 IMG_3816

Clay recipe we used:

Clay recipe

Starting our Termite nest sculpture:

Beginnings of a termite nest. Even Bebita got involved! IMG_3793

Painting with Daddy:

Painting with Daddy IMG_3800 IMG_3804

Finished nest complete with a fungus chamber, queen with eggs, and soldiers:

Termite Nest IMG_3808

Not Perfect and Almost Proud

Hi friends. It’s been awhile. Between selling my house, downsizing to an apartment, moving my family to a new city, and then going on a much needed vacation, I completely neglected this blog, and my writing and personal interests in general.

My mind often swims with shoulds. Things that I “should be doing” or things that “should have been done” or things that “still need to be dealt with”. I think about all the ways I’m somehow ruining my kids lives or that I am setting a bad example. And then I start to feel sorry for my husband that he has such an inept woman for a wife and sorry for my kids that they aren’t getting enough of me. No one ever gets enough of me, in my opinion. There isn’t enough of me to give to everyone and still have time for myself.

I sometimes compare myself to every other mother/wife. Moms I know, moms I don’t know, moms I love, moms I’ve made up in my head. P.S. The ones in my head are always far more perfect and put together than me. I have struggled with this kind of thinking/comparing many times, although in all honestly it happens less and less the more life I live.

My house is a wreck. My apartment that is. My apartment feels like a wreck, and my old house felt like a wreck at the end, and it feels like I have been living in the midst of turmoil for weeks. There are toys everywhere. The dishes are piled up. There are garbage bags galore. Boxes and suitcases are still stacked all around. Clothing strewn on the floor. If someone saw this, I would be mortified. I also hate the thought thatt my kids would grow up thinking this kind of mess is normal.

Not Perfect bedroom

My floors are full of dirt and dust. My baby sits on my kitchen floor eating bits of garbage and three-week-old crumbs of who knows what. I hope she doesn’t come across one of her allergens :S

I feel terrible for Mr. Right. He is working all day to come home to a disorganized and dirty house. How is he supposed to feel at peace in this mess? Truth be told, that’s all in my head. I’m lucky enough to have a Mr. Right who doesn’t care too much about that sort of thing. I’m the one that cares. I’m the one who wants the house to be perfect for him. And the kids. And me.

For the few weeks during the move, I didn’t cook. My family subsided on sandwiches, Kraft dinner, and fruit, while other families were eating braised tenderloin, roasted fingerling potatoes and baby spinach salads with homemade dressing. That’s what facebook told me.

I have spent most of my life as an anxious person. I probably have higher expectations of myself than ANYONE else does. This sort of thing normally DRIVES ME CRAZY. Up until recently all of the above scenarios would have made me incredibly unhappy, incredibly anxious, incredibly insecure, and an all-around miserable person to be around.

I’m not certain how my perspective changed on all of it, and I definitely can’t pinpoint when it happened. All I know is that for some reason it affects me less right now. It’s not that it doesn’t affect me at all. It does. It’s just that I can still focus on where I want to be and where we are heading and that makes me happy and less bogged down by the current situation. Part of it I think came from wanting to simplify my life in other areas. You know, get rid of things that aren’t important to make room for things that are. That goal is still a work in progress and I get the feeling that it will forever be a work in progress, but I think that that mind set has seeped into other areas of my life. Sure, I’m not going to have a dinner party if my house is a wreck, but I also won’t be losing sleep over it. It’s not that important.

And I’m happier and a bit calmer in my anxious heart.

I’ve realized that it’s more important and beneficial to me and my families well-being if I am just present in the way I want to be present ~ whether that’s reading with the kids or whether that’s wasting away in front of my computer. If I embrace my choice, whatever it might be, I feel more “whole” than when I am striving for my own definition of perfection ( a clean house and a gourmet meal).

My kids freaking adore me. They don’t even know that I’m not perfect. Mr. Right just finished telling me that he is feeling very uxorious and then told me to look it up. He’s amazing. So lately, I have taken my cues from them and given myself the same loving kindness, cut myself some slack, and saved my sanity during this whole transition in the process. I have the best family.

 

What is God?

My beautiful son was born with an innate spirituality. The questions he has always asked and the comments he has made from a young age have always blown me away. I haven’t given him too many explanations on things other than that I believe in God, but not everybody does, and that I believe God is in everything.  I have had to be pragmatic in what I say because Mr. Right feels strongly that we shouldn’t “indoctrinate” him in any way. He wants our children to know our beliefs (which are a bit different), but to know that there are other ways of thinking and basically just give them the tools to make up their own minds about their own truth.

Declan has always maintained that even though others may not believe in God, in his heart he believes in Him. In my quest to try and impart my own values and spiritual beliefs and to try to answer some of his questions without telling him what he has to believe, I found a book that I thought might be a good starting point. It is called “What is God” by Etan Boritzer. We gave it to him for Christmas and I told him we would read it together sometime.

When I ordered it I had thought that I would read it before giving it to him to make sure it was aligned with my beliefs and with what Mr. Right would feel comfortable with, but with all the Christmas mayhem I didn’t have a chance before the big day. Yesterday I had a bit of free time, so I started reading it while eating my lunch. Declan had all but forgotten that he even had the book, but when he saw me reading it he came up curiously and with his newfound reading skills said ”What is God”? I said, “Yes. Remember we got you this book for Christmas. I wanted to read it first before reading it to you. It’s called “What is God.” This was his response:

“Awww I already know what God is! God is everything. He is a big spirit, but it’s not a boy or a girl because it is a spirit, not a body. We can’t see it. Unless we die, of course. When we die, we can see it clearly. And we have souls. Souls are the parts of God. So you see, I don’t need to read it.”

photo copy

Seems to me I wasted my money🙂 I will read it to him anyway. Now that I’ve read it, I know that it is a lovely book that speaks to the connection between all people and things. It talks about many of the world’s religions and their common denominators. But really, who was I to think a book would speak his truth to him better than his own heart would? Once again, blown away.

Less

It always feels like there is so much to do. Where will I find the time? I wake up feeling overwhelmed often with the amount of things that I feel I have to do and the lack of free (read: alone) time to do it. Perhaps what I need is not more time but fewer things to do.

Part of my vision for what I want to achieve with simplifying our lives is fewer things to take care of and fewer things on my to-do list. I mean really, if there are 20 toys to pick up 7 times a day that has to take less time than 80 toys to pick up 7 times a day, no? If I have 1000 square feet of house as opposed to 2000, that has to mean less time cleaning, no? Fewer dishes, less dishwashing? Fewer clothes, less laundry? Fewer random things, less constant organizing? Less debt, less worries? Less meaningless responsibility, more free time? Yup. That sounds promising.

 

Snippets of Love

This post is just a snippet of why I love my husband. Just a tiny glimpse. The snippet is that I am able to be the mother I want to be, and the mother that our kids deserve, because of his support.  Often we look at mothers and all they go through in a single day or single hour sometimes and we want to sing their praises for the little and big they dedicate their lives to. We mothers are deserving of it, but I can’t help to think that we don’t give enough credit to the dads and their contributions that allow us to do it all sanely. Especially in the first year after a new baby is born into a family, whether it’s the first baby or a subsequent baby, support is needed to function. Period.

My 11-month-old still doesn’t sleep through the night. Not even close. Recently, I have felt at the end of my rope with the lack of sleep and constant breastfeeding at night. It has been almost a year since I’ve had a full night of sleep, or even more than 3 hours of sleep at a time. I am the kind of person who before kids would frequently fall asleep at parties because I NEED 9-10 hours a night to function optimally. There was a year that our friends made fun of me because I had fallen asleep at every wedding of the summer. I am walking around in a cloud right now, but I don’t want to do CIO with her and I don’t feel like I can night-wean her until she gains more weight. Mr. Right doesn’t completely agree. But do you know what he has begun to do anyway? At least once a night, he gets up when the baby wakes up, brings her to our room, sticks her on my boob, and then takes her back to her bed when she is done. He does this so that I don’t have to completely wake up and I can get a tiny bit more rest than I would have. He would rather let her cry a bit, but because he knows it’s important to me not to do that, and because he knows I can’t physically handle much more sleeplessness, he does it.

Mr. Right works in Toronto, which is more often than not a 1 ½ – 2 hour commute each way. I am alone with the kids 12 hours a day on the regular. It’s hard. Do you know what he does when he comes home tired every night? He eats dinner with us with a smile on his face. He spends quality time with each of our kids. He bathes them. He works/commutes all day and then comes home to love us to pieces and give me a much needed break.

Mr. Right with Evita at one week old.

Mr. Right with Evita at one week old.

These are just 2 examples. Just two. Without them though, I wouldn’t be able to be the mother I am. When I feel like I will pull out my hair at the end of the day, I look at the clock and know he will be here soon and I regain a bit of sanity and strength. When I can barely keep my eyes open at night but am scared to fall asleep knowing that I will be awakened all too soon, I remember that I can count on him in the middle of the night when I need him and it gives me enough relief to go on another night without the amount of sleep I need. Thank you, my darling husband. Thank you.

This post will probably embarrass Mr. Right to no end. He probably won’t even want to read it. I don’t care. I don’t care because I also know he secretly, in the depths of his soul, loves how much I love and appreciate him. He loves that I love every square inch of him. He loves that I love every breath his lungs release. He loves that I love every beat his heart makes. So he will forgive me for this post, for this unadulterated view of our private affairs and the truths of my heart, because this post will remind him that I have always and will always love and appreciate All of Him.