Old Friends Are Good To Keep

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My friends, The Blues, are back in town from Thailand where they live now and work with the Charis Project. You probably remember them from this post and the Narnia birthday party (that was so cool!) and this post and that post…so many posts over the years! They are those kinds of friends, you know? The ones who were there for you for so many adventures, for so many sleepovers when you needed a place to stay, for that cup of chai and conversation when your heart was heavy…. Those friends. They are very special to Bug and me because they were a big part of our life when it was very tumultuous.

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But we haven’t seen them in years! Everyone has grown up so much! Bug was actually really nervous about seeing her friends again because she’s had a couple of experiences with old childhood friends changing and just not clicking at all. I was a little anxious for her too. But I shouldn’t have been!

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Everybody was exactly the same way they always were. I was so genuinely happy to see my old friends again.  It was like going back in time and feeling home and welcome. BluesAreBack-3

The first thing I saw was this little guy helping himself to pasta. Have you ever seen such a self-assured little person? What is he, like two?!  There are six kids in Carrien’s family and when you get that many kids the little ones get more and more brazen about helping themselves. But what’s wrong with that, right? I only had one kid for a really long time and because I took care of everything ever, she’s now twelve and  still asks me to untie the double knots in her shoes. I’ve sort of created a monster. I should have had five more kids. It would have been a service to her. Just kidding. But having Joon around really helps.

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Then I saw this dog. We bonded right away. Apparently he’s very shy of everyone but since he looked a lot like Whiskey, I made contact and then he followed me around like I was his new friend. That happens to me with animals a lot. It’s like they know I have anxiety and need an extra dose of oxytocin.  I look in their eyes and they look in my eyes and we both feel a little bit better.

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This kid is the most friendly of all the kids. I met him a few years back and he says he remembers me but I’m not so sure since he was only two then. It doesn’t matter because we acted like old friends who knew each other forever. He showed me all his tricks on the swing and I took pictures of his toes. No shy butterfly there.

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There was this monkey…he was so little when we last saw him. He talks now. Which is crazy because I always remember him as the quiet one. Quiet but smiley.

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And of course my friend, Carrien. I love her so much. She’s probably not going to love these pictures of her because I snatched them with very little warning, if any. No “plandids” here. These are real candids. But I love that about her. I love that she doesn’t mind me taking pictures of her and her family “in the golden light.” She knows I love that time of day and it’s like giving an artist a paintbrush to be able to snap away.

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After dinner we had s’mores out by the famous big old rectangle fire pit. I love that fire pit!

And now I know the secret to good s’mores!!! It’s finally been revealed to me!  I was never really a big fan of s’mores before because they never really worked for me. You know how it is, you have a big gooey marshmallow all soft with a chunk of hard chocolate and a crumbly graham cracker. You bite in and it all falls apart. The chocolate doesn’t melt, the cracker is in crumbs and pretty much you have a mess.

Guess what the secret is: CUT UP THE CHOCOLATE INTO LITTLE SHARDS!!!

What? What!! Seriously. This solves everything. The chocolate melts, the marshmallow oozes, the graham cracker holds it all together. How have I not known this all my life?!!  And it totally tastes delicious! Now I get what all the hullabaloo is about. I like s’mores now too! Ding Dong!

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So yeah, that was thoroughly enjoyable. We sat around and enjoyed s’more after s’more after s’more. Some wine was sipped too.

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This is what I love about Carrien and her family: I love the effortless enjoyment of simple things. Just a fire and chocolate and marshmallows and graham crackers and a little glass of wine and my heart was bursting with contentment.  Both Carrien and I have had to make do a time or two with less money than we’d like. Things get hard sometimes but she’s the one who always invited me over no matter what was in her cupboards. She always served me treats made with the simplest of ingredients and they tasted a thousand times better than anything. Isn’t that weird how that happens?

I know sometimes in the past I had neighbors come over and I worried that I wouldn’t have enough food. And then somehow when my table was filled with faces, one chicken breast would magically stretch to feed six people and there was always enough. How does that happen!? Is it a miracle? Five fishes feeding five thousand? I don’t know. I think everyone takes a little less because they know they are really there to feed their heart.  I think that is the most valuable lesson I’ve learned about food and friends. We are really there to feed our hearts. Let our tables be large…

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I miss them already. We were only there for a few hours but the fireside memories will last me for a long time. I love that Bug has memories like this stored up too. It’s so important to keep in touch with old friends. What do they say? The friends you keep for longer than five years last forever?

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Eventually I had to start thinking about the long drive home. It was late and I am not the best person to be driving late at night because I am a morning person to the core. I hate trying to stay awake when I am tired. It’s pure torture.

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We hustled the littles inside and we saw this: The next generation of chai and conversation. No “not clicking” here. We can be oceans apart but we’ll stay friends. Because old friends are the best friends. Miss you guys!

Father’s Day, Pan Party 2 and the Bathroom Redeaux!

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I am all over the place today. First off I need to apologize for missing my Thursdays posting. Who cares, you ask? I care! I am the meanest boss ever and I have failed myself. I set up this complicated blog strategy schedule and set a goal for myself to post every Tuesday and Thursday and I missed my Thursday!  Sigh.  Good thing I’m not going to fire myself. I just told myself that I’m not perfect and I can get back on it again next week and in the meantime here’s a bonus super bonanza Friday post! Woo Hoo!

So this Sunday is Father’s Day in case you didn’t know. (Get on that homemade card if you forgot.) In the theme of Father’s Day Payam and I worked really hard on this cool vintage clock radio planter craft for alphamom. It was so fun, probably my favorite craft ever, next to the tiny toolbox and snow globe soaps.

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I have a new hobby now: collecting vintage clock radios. It’s great for my hoarding problem. But I mean, how could I not?!! They are the coolest ever. That red one had my name on it the minute I walked into an antique store and it was staring at me from a way up high dusty shelf. Vintage clocks can set you back a bit. Some on eBay can run from $20-$80. So keep your eyes out at garage sales and estate sales. These babies are hot.

And speaking of hot…

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Pan Party Two happened last night! It’s a THING now you guys! I’m so happy.

It wasn’t hot, it was actually a bit chilly when the sun went down but we had such a nice time. Picnicking at the park during golden hour is something that I am a huge fan of. I will be preaching about it until the cows come home or it turns into a community of hundreds which honestly is my vision. I think it can happen too. I’m passionate about building friendships and getting outside enjoying the weather and each other’s company. That’s what we have to do to fight our addiction to technology. That’s really the happy part of life, right?

We’re only doing it once a month which is good because it takes some effort. Preparing a pan dish, lugging a tin of drinks and ice to the trunk and then the park, remembering table clothes, cups, silverware, paper plates, napkins… you know the drill. It can steal away half your day if you are not careful. Then add kids who want to swim to the mix and you’ll be busy from 2pm to midnight. BUT IT’S SO GOOD for everyone.

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Look at this photo Bug took? Isn’t it pretty? I’ve been pushing Bug to be more artistic in her photos (She is the product of two photographer parents after all) and she usually rolls her eyes at me and takes a picture of her foot or the leather of the car seat all blown up blurry and then types some words on top. But this photo really stopped me in my tracks. I love the angle. I love the colors, I love the lone dad sitting on the lawn chair waiting for his kid to get out of the pool already. This is exactly what I wanted Pan Party to be. Everyone getting outside, away from their devices to see how pretty this time of day really is.

Of course I’m kind of a hypocrite because I’m all about documenting this beauty and sharing it on social media but what can I say? I’m not a purist. I think we can have it all.

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More photos by Bug.

As you can see the beanie baby collectible fluff ball dog showed up. The kids had boba right before the pan party (big mistake) and couldn’t care less about eating. They ran around wild all over the park while we parents sat around stuffing our faces with enchiladas, lasagna, mashed potatoes… (no diets here) and those crack grocery store cookies with the neon frosting on top of them, you know the ones. It was great.

Then the puppy showed up and the kids squealed like Taylor Swift fan girls and went rushing off to fight over who could carry the puppy around for the rest of the night. That poor dog never gets to walk on it’s own. It doesn’t seem to mind though. It doesn’t even look like a dog. I think it’s a long-legged fluffy mouse. Except at one point it was walking on the table and it totally went after our food like a regular dog. Maybe that’s how you tell it’s a dog.

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I’m gonna say Pan Party Two was a big success and all of you who wimped out and didn’t come for whatever reason (I’m looking at you, Maria and One Little Happy) you guys missed out. You better make it to Pan Party Three which is scheduled for July 19th, 2018 at 7pm. Make a note!

In other news, I thought I’d just smash on my Bathroom Redeux post right here at the end of this post. It totally flows. Heh.

I was thinking it’s not really enough substance to be it’s own post. And the pictures are not that great. It’s kind of impossible to get flattering photos of a bathroom that has no natural light and it’s so small you can’t really get a photo of it all at one time. I haven’t splurged on a wide angle lens that will work in such tight quarters yet.

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I really wanted to share with your this small Ikea shelving unit that we installed over the toilet. It is a little tight and I wish it was just a smidge more narrow so it doesn’t hang over the toilet so much but it has seriously changed our lives when it comes to organization.

This is the girls bathroom so imagine bottles of shampoo everywhere, most of them empty and dripping all over because they have this theory that they need to keep their shampoo upside down with the lids not all the way closed. No matter how much I harped on the fact that the lids need to be popped closed until you hear a click they did not hear me. It was gooey sticky drippy mess everywhere all the time. Then add about a zillion bobby pins and rubber bands to the counter area that you see around the sink, smear some toothpaste here and there, add a few hairs and you pretty much get the idea of the bathroom. I had had ENOUGH. Those drawers? Full of girl crap to the point that they can’t even open and close easily. I don’t even want to know what’s in there.

So I got the girls each a caddy and laid down some RULES. Shampoo and conditioner bottles go in the caddy and they must be dry. I got them individual rubber band and bobby pin jars and told them that from now on NOTHING goes on the sink counter except toothbrushes and soap. They each have a cubby and they have to keep it neat because it’s on full view.

GUESS WHAT? It worked. It’s been weeks and the bathroom is tidy and orderly. I am sooo happy.

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It’s almost like a spa in there! The caddies work really well for the girls too because they often have to take turns showering in our bathroom. This way they can carry everything they need in one trip instead of yelling for one of us to bring them things they forgot mid-shower. It’s just an all around win. If you have tween/teen kids or just someone who struggles with keeping things neat, I can’t recommend it enough.

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The kids? They don’t care one way or another.

And with that I am OUT. See you back here again on Tuesday!