Thursday, April 6, 2017

Audio Books for Family Road Trips

I have a road trip coming up with Liza and Jason so I stopped by the library to grab some audio books. As I was browsing the shelves I was remembering some great audio books we have listened to in the past and thought I would share them. If you have kids and a trip coming up... try to get to the library and grab one or two of the following audio books... It's a great way to pass the time and not miss the scenery you pass on the way! And I have to say that I enjoy that it is something that everyone in the car can be a part of and talk about. I can't watch movies while driving... but listening to a good book? No problem!

 Junie B. Jones cracks us all up! Lana Quintal is the perfect reader for this series. The books are short and there are several in a case. We listen to one, and then another. Super cute stories!

Liza and Jason love a mystery and the Boxcar Children always have one to solve. We enjoy listening to the stories and trying to figure out who's guilty.

 Beverly Cleary's rib-tickling tale of Henry Huggins' dog Ribsy is a must for fans of the Klickitat Street gang. Confused, lost, and wet, Ribsy gets into the wrong car – and before he knows it, lots of little girls want to give him a bath. All he wants to do is go home to Henry. "A fabulous listening experience... [Harris] transports the listener effortlessly into the midst of each situation."—AudioFile
Can't go wrong with Neil Patrick Harris! He is definitely an entertaining reader and made this book very enjoyable to listen to.

Fourth-graders Hank, Ashley, and Frankie are excitedly preparing for a magic show at the Rock 'N Bowl when Hank's creative alternative to an English essay lands him in detention and grounded the week of the show.
Another one for the whole family to enjoy!

 With unspeakable phobias, a need to sleep with three night-lights, and a horrible allergy to peanut butter, Joe Sherlock is not your typical neighborhood hero. But fear not, Joe Sherlock always cracks the case... and just in time for dinner.

This was our favorite ever! All three. They were just FUNNY. Fred Berman brought these books to life!! There are three more books in the series but I don't want to read them... I want to listen to them! Unfortunately only the first three are on audio.

These books had us laughing hard. We listened to one when my mom and dad were in the van with us and they enjoyed it as well.

Joe Sherlock contains lots of boy humor and mysteries that need to be solved. I just might have to listen to them again sometime because they were that fun to listen to!

Friday, March 24, 2017


At the beginning of the school year Liza came home from school super excited... She was going to learn to play the violin! My creative, musical girl was going to get to play an instrument that she chose.

I filled out the papers, sent in the money and began renting a violin. Liza was bummed when her lessons at school started because they were just plucking and she really wanted to learn how to use the bow.

One day she ran in the door after school with the biggest smile on her face, threw down her backpack, pulled out her violin and started playing with the bow! The excitement and pride were intense.

Then she had to start learning a song to play for the spring concert with the rest of the orchestra. Over and over she told me that she didn't think she was doing well, that it didn't sound good, that she couldn't do it.

One night at bedtime she came to me and said, "There are a couple things really frustrating me right now." Having to play the violin at the concert in front of people was one of the frustrating things. We talked through it. I emailed with her music teacher. We both encouraged Liza and after a few more weeks she decided she could do it. She was ready. She had started practicing more and was even looking forward to it.

Today was the day of the spring concert.

Liza walked up onto the stage with her violin and lined up with the rest of the orchestra. She set up her music stand and music... and when it was time... she played. Such an intense look of concentration on her face.

And then it happened...

The bridge on her violin broke.

There was still another song to go and she just stood there. Not able to play. Sad. I could see it on her face.

I wanted to run onto the stage, grab her up and run away.
I knew how much that moment meant to her.
I knew how much she practiced.
I knew how hard she worked to overcome her fears and be up there today.

As I watched her hold back her tears, I found that I was sitting in my seat holding back my own.

I met her as she exited the stage and we hugged and cried together... but only for a few moments because another grade was doing one song and then she had to go back on with the choir.

So in those three minutes Liza shared that she was disappointed because she really wanted to do it, we hugged, found some tissues, blew our noses and wiped away our tears. We hugged again and then she lined up with the choir and went out and sang.

And my heart grew.

My Liza is a brave girl in so many ways. I am so incredibly proud of her!

This is Liza during her first song before the violin broke. The beginners plucked for Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Gym Progress

So about three weeks ago I joined the gym. It feels much longer. Already I love my new daily routine... get the kids on the bus and go to the gym. If for some reason I can't get there in the morning I find that I miss it and make time to go later in the day.

I thought I was going to need someone to tell me what to do so I would stay motivated, but it turns out I'm pretty good at telling myself what to do.

I have a few general goals.

1. Strengthen my body.
I do so much sitting around and I've become quite weak over the years. Already though I can tell that I am getting stronger. I am adding weight when using the machines and will continue to push myself.

2. Flexibility.
Every day I make sure to spend a good amount of time stretching. Three weeks ago I could barely touch my toes when my legs were straight out in front of me, and it hurt to even try. Today I can wrap my fingers around my feet. I like stretching! It's become one of my favorite parts of my day!

3. Endurance.
Every spring when I go back to work I feel like I am going to die on my third trip up the big hill in a day. Lack of strength and endurance. I am determined to have this year be different! Endurance isn't the easiest thing for me to work on. I can't run because I get shin splints within weeks and they get so bad that I can't do anything else. I have also been having issues with my feet. So I'm limited to low impact things. The elliptical and bike are my choices.

4. Pushups.
For some reason pushups have always been an indicator of strength to me. If I can do pushups, I am strong. If I can't do them, I am weak. So three times a week I do pushups, and I add one per week. When I started I could barely do one pushup. Today I can barely do three. :) Next week it will be four.

I'm really glad that I joined the gym. It's been a good thing for me and I'm realizing just how much I actually missed being an active person. I am far too good at sitting around and doing nothing, but now I'm locked in to a 12 month commitment at the gym. I'll be paying... so I better be going!

Now to just get on track with my eating! I'm getting there. Better choices every day. The scale is moving in the right direction and I am feeling good... but I know I can completely sabotage all my efforts with food... and I don't want to do that any more.

So that's my progress report. I'm glad I joined and I have become a regular at the gym.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Why I Joined the Gym

I've been in a tough place lately.
Worn out.
Almost depressed.
Emotionally exhausted.

I have learned that it is important for me to put things on my calendar that get me out of the house... especially during the winter.

This winter has been extra tough and I knew I needed to make some real changes and add things to my day... daily... or I might just lose my mind.

So I joined the gym.

It's been working out really well! (Considering it's only been a week and a half!) I am a morning person and I am now able to go as soon as the kids get on the bus for school. I'm at the gym by 8am. I love going at this time because I can get in a good workout and still have the entire day left. It's also pretty empty at this time.

I think it was the perfect thing to add to my life. I was feeling quite lazy and weak and wanted to change that. My gym goal is not to lose weight... but to add strength and flexibility. The weight loss will come with changing what I eat.

So I go to the gym. I feel better already... Emotionally better because I am taking care of myself. Physically better because I am challenging my body. I am starting my days right. Getting up and out. Being social. And from there I usually just keep going... working through my to-do list and being productive instead of spending the entire day on the couch in front of whatever Netflix show I'm binging. (Currently Jericho.)

I look forward to my time at the gym.
I'm proud of myself for taking a positive step instead of letting life completely overwhelm me.

I think this new routine might just stick!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Speech Meet

I just got home from watching Jason during the semifinal round of Speech Meet.

What is Speech Meet?
I'm learning as we go since this is our first experience with it.

Everyone at their school has a "speech" that they have to memorize and perform in front of the class. There are three different categories. Jason chose Bible. I think the others might be poetry and fables... or something like that.

They have a certain amount of days to get their speech memorized and then they perform it in front of their classes. The top two in each category for each class advance to the semifinals.

Today I watched nervously as Jason stood in a crowded room of judges, parents, and peers and recited his 10 verses about Zacchaeus. He looked so sharp with his hair spiked up and his bow tie on. He spoke clearly and looked around the room. He's turning 9 on Monday and he just did what so many adults are really afraid to do. Public speaking is tough!

He finished off his speech and sat back down with his friends. I watched as he held out his hands and said to his buddy, "My hands are shaking!"

What a great experience for Jason! To realize that he CAN stand in front of a crowd and speak. And he can do it well. And to feel the adrenaline feelings that go along with it.

We don't know yet if he advanced to the final round where he will go against students from other schools. His friend that he was up against today also did really well. I'm nervously waiting for the results. But either way... I am SO PROUD of my Jason! He was committed to practicing and doing his best. He overcame nerves. He did it!

To me, no matter what the results are from today's semifinals, he is a winner and he has my heart!


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mom, There's a Bad Word In My Book.

I realized shortly after moving into our house four and a half years ago that we would be having conversations with our kids about words they heard very soon... much sooner than we had hoped we would have to. When your house is ten feet from the sidewalk and people are constantly walking by... and when the playground is just across the street... words float in our windows.

I knew I wouldn't be able to keep my kids from hearing them, so I started asking them daily... "Have you heard or seen anything that you have questions about?"

And they started asking us about the words they heard.

My hope was that they would become comfortable talking to me about anything, that they would trust me enough to ask, and that since we started talking about those words when they were in kindergarten and first grade that they wouldn't feel the need to use them when they hit middle school and all the kids were trying them out.

I don't know if my plan will work out as I hope... but I do know that we are building a comfort level with the awkward conversations. Liza and Jason ask about words all the time now. There is no shame in saying them when asking. But sometimes they still surprise me.

Like in this recent conversation with Liza....

LIZA: Mom, there's a bad word in the book I'm reading.
ME: What's the word?
LIZA: *shows me the book and points to the word retard*
ME: Do you know what that word means?
LIZA: Yeah. Doesn't it mean like bitch or something?
ME: *laughing so hard inside!* Well, not really.

I explained what it means and why it's not a nice word to use. (She was reading Percy Jackson.) 
And then I felt so content. Liza doesn't run around using the word bitch... but she was comfortable enough to know that she could just say it to me to explain what she was thinking.

I hope conversation is always this easy between us.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Relationships Are Messy

I saw the above quote while scrolling down Facebook the other day and my mind screamed "LIE! It's a lie!"

And it is.

We pass around fluffy quotes. The people that pass them around are usually in a good place in their relationship. They are in a place where it still feels amazing all the time. They are young. They are dreamers.

I was once one of those people.

But... I don't know... I've been married for 14 years now and I have been in a REAL relationship, even the "right relationship" as I've seen this quote say as well, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but not every day is going to be like Valentine's day.

Some days are going to be hard.
Some days will be filled with stress and fighting.
And some days will feel like Valentine's Day... but not every day.

Wouldn't it get boring if every day was like Valentine's Day anyways? Wouldn't it lose it's appeal because it would become the routine and expectation and there is no surprise in routine.

Maybe .0001% of relationships will find this quote to be true through their entire life.

Chances are it won't be yours. And I don't say that to be mean (although I am a bit jaded). I say it to prepare you.

Relationships are messy because life is messy... people are messy.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Monster Trucks Movie... and How It Became Jason's New Favorite

Back in November, on a day we didn't have school, I took the kids to see a movie. It was the first time we had seen a preview for, or even heard of, Monster Trucks. After the preview ran Jason looked at me with his big blue eyes full of excitement and wonder and said, "We have. to see. that movie."

In December we went back to the theater to see another movie. It's what we do on days off. Again, we saw a preview and posters for Monster Trucks and Jason went on and on about how he really had to see that movie and couldn't wait for it to come out.

In January, we had another day off of school... so we went to see Monster Trucks!

Jason woke up excited.
And then he shared that he was nervous. He was afraid that he had let his expectations run too high. What if he didn't like the movie as much as he thought he would? What if it was a let down?

I was hoping for his sake that he would love the movie as much as he had been hoping he would for the past two months.

The theater we go to is about 35 minutes away and I loved looking in the rearview mirror to see Jason hugging his stuffed animal that he brought along for the ride. I loved listening to him talk about his hopes for the movie and his nerves because of his expectation.

And I loved snuggling with him at the theater.

I loved watching him as he sat on the edge of his seat completely involved with the movie.

And when it was over, he once again turned to me with those big blue eyes and said "That was AWESOME!!"

Expectations not only met, but exceeded.

He went on and on about the movie. He loved every second of it and said that it's going to be a really REALLY long time before he has a new favorite movie, IF he ever has a new favorite movie. Monster Trucks is it.

And it was cute! I enjoyed it. It was a silly, unrealistic, feel good movie. It was clean and so appropriate for kids.

Jason's birthday is coming up and I thought I had it easy... get him the movie and some Monster Trucks toys/products. But nope. The movie won't be released on DVD in time and I can't find any Monster Truck stuff anywhere.

I guess he'll be getting a "coupon" saying he'll get the Monster Trucks movie the day it comes out.

If you haven't watched it... you should! Especially if you have an eight year old boy!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Evolution of My Blog

I took a long, unplanned break from blogging.

The truth is that I love to write. I enjoy sharing my life but I also process through sharing. Sometimes I start a post and I have no idea where it is going to go, but by the end I'm writing out things I hadn't even thought of and I land in a good place.

When I first started blogging I titled my blog "Life Happens"... because life happens and how we deal with it determines who we become.

After a while I found myself in a really good place and I changed the name to A Hearty Overflow. I wanted something fresh and "out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks."

And then I found myself in a place where my overflow was anything but hearty and it became hard to write in the space that was titled A Hearty Overflow. So I did another rename and made it Laura Lately... because I can keep that one no matter where I find myself in life. Good times and bad times... it can all fall under Laura Lately.

Well Laura lately is an angry, hurting, jaded person.

That is why I stopped writing. I felt my soul had become too dark and nothing I would share would be uplifting. I didn't think anyone would want to read about my angry heart and jaded thoughts. So I didn't write. I didn't process. I didn't share.

I miss writing. I miss the process. I want to blog again. I don't know if it will be often or few and far between. But I want to write. I want to share my angry heart and jaded thoughts... because that is who I am right now. And just maybe... through writing, I'll start to process again and in the end land in a better place.

*fingers crossed*

Monday, February 6, 2017


Adjective meaning pleasant but tinged with sadness.

Today is bittersweet.

My dream has come true.
Our school is a school again!
That's the pleasant part of bittersweet.

The tinged with sadness part is that my kids are miles away.

I kind of cried twice by 8:15 today.

The first time was because the dairy truck came to make a delivery of milk to the school. You know how smells will bring up memories? Well it is sounds for me today. And that truck... we used to hear it every Monday - Friday around the time we would be just waking up to get ready for the school day. I heard it today for the first time in a year and a half and didn't even realize how much I missed that sound. It was something steady. Something we could count on. And now it's back.

The second time I cried was after I dropped my kids off at their school. We missed the bus for the first time ever today. (We have a sub driver who apparently has been coming ridiculously early, but since we were sick most of last week we missed that memo.) We walked back from our bus stop as staff was arriving at the school across the street and then we drove to our school. As I drove, and drove, and drove, I was reminded just how far away my kids are. I'm ok with my kids being far away. But today the reminder wasn't needed. Today was the wrong day to miss the bus and have to make that drive myself. I cried the whole way home.

Buses are now arriving across the street. The building has life once again. (The sweet part.)

But my emotions are all over the place. (And now I'm kind of crying again.)

I joked (seriously) with some moms that have kids coming into the school across the street now that I would host support group this morning for anyone who needed it... but I think I'm the one who needs a support group. There are no handbooks on how to deal with this situation.

I've declared for myself a day of Netflix and crochet. And puzzling. Anything to distract me from what is happening across the street... because it's scratched open wounds, hurt, sadness... and I'm just not sure I'm ready to deal with it all just yet.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Mixed Feelings

I find myself in a conflicted place.

The school across the street is reopening.
But it is not reopening for my kids and my community.

We bought our house across the street from the school so our kids could go there. We loved walking to school. We loved that all of their friends lived in walking distance of us. We loved the staff. We just loved it.

And then we lost it.

I poured my heart and soul into trying to keep that school open. I lost sleep, sat through hours and hours of meetings, cried buckets of tears, and nearly broke. I became angry. I became jaded.

And then it started feeling personal... even though I know it wasn't.

My property line became the great divide. Everyone to my left gets to go to the school three blocks down the road. Me and everyone to my right got bused four miles away... to the school we originally chose not to go to.

For most, when school started back up the following year and everyone was in their new places, it was over for them. They could work on settling and moving forward.

But that wasn't the case for me. I had to continue to pay attention to what was happening because I had to worry about who would move into the empty building across the street. There were more long meetings to sit through. More information to hold on to. More tears and frustration.

And now... now it's a school again... because another one in the district has lead, copper, and e coli in the water. They need a place to finish out the year while the issues at their building get fixed.

I watched all week as they worked non-stop to reopen the building and transfer all the stuff from one school to another. One moment I would find myself near tears. The next excited. Excited for the empty hole in my neighborhood to be filled in the best way possible once again.

And then I found myself near tears again because my kids wouldn't be there. My neighbors wouldn't be there. In fact, I won't know anyone there at all.

Tomorrow morning they come. I'm sure they will be nervous and excited to be in a new place. But my kids will continue to say "No fair!!" They want to be back there. They want the school back that they never wanted to leave. The school that they cried for. The school they will always miss.

I'm not sure what will happen tomorrow. I don't know if I'll cry because it feels so unfair... or if I'll be at peace with it being full of life again. I'll probably be back and forth between those emotions.

I will just have to keep reminding myself of the things I tell my kids... Those kids need it more right now. And we have to remember that it won't be "our school". It won't have the teachers we had. Our friends and neighbors won't be there.

Liza and Jason are really happy where they are, in private school. They love it. But that doesn't make this situation easy. (I wish I had a picture of the look on their faces when I told them the news!)

My silver lining... I don't have to worry about the sale of the building for the next few months. And there will be the sound of children in my neighborhood again.

And in a way... this makes it a little easier to let go.

I'm calling it the encore.

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