Posts in http://www.parscaeli.com/grown-up-goodness/
Grown-up Goodness: Music in the Park

So, here we are at the end of July, friends. Summer is whipping right by us. Time to check in. Have you soaked in enough Grown-up Goodness from your summer list? I've gone back to mine, and I'm really delighted by how many experiences we've been able to have from my original wish/hope list.

This weekend we traveled into Chicago to see my in-laws and take in a great children's concert at Ravinia, an outdoor music festival with pavilion and lawn seating. I bought up the $5 tickets on the lawn for our fam, and we enjoyed our picnic lunch as we awaiting the singing and dancing to come. The number of children and strollers and sippy cups seemed exponential for the very fun, sold-out show by Laurie Berkner.

 

               

Concerts in the park are such a great part of summer for me. In all honesty, I'm not even picky about the genre of music. When it comes to being out in the sunshine or relishing the sweet summer evening, I can be romanced by any artist.

This past Saturday was a high-spirited, youthful hour of sillyness.

We've taken in orchestral performances, operas, contemporary solo artists, acoustic bands, and local starlets. And I've enjoyed everyone MORE because of the setting of the great outdoors. These concerts say to me, "Throw down the blanket, toss off the shoes, and get out the snacks (or wine glasses) because this will feed your soul and make a memory you'll come back to, again and again."

My favorite open-air concert to date? Lillith Fair, hosted by the talented Sarah McLachlan. My hubby and I were just in our early courtship days at the time, and the beauty and power of those amazing female voices lilting through the sunset breeze...

How about you, friends? Are outdoor concerts a part of your summer fun?

XOXO, MJ

PS. Thanks to all who visited Joy's lovely post about me on Frock Files yesterday. If you haven't had a chance, take a journey over and check it out. :)

Funday Fashion Monday: Outdoor concerts

                  

Hi, friends! Happy Monday to you. I'm super excited to be over at Joy's place, Frock Files, as a Bright Light. I have some very fun ideas for you over there and a little bit more about me...Come on, let's go!

Are you all over the Olympics like I am? We managed to pull ourselves away from the set to head into Chicago for some time with family.  We also danced and sang as we watched a great outdoor kids concert. And let me say, I was surrounded by some fashionable mommas.

Here are my picks for a cute number to take you to your next outdoor music show.

That dress: Such fun colors for summer, no? This pattern looks so special, made just for this dress., and I love the turquoise/burnt orange tones to the simple silhouette.

Those shoes: Green shoes. I don't know...I just like 'em.

Those cute earrings: The great pop of color close to the face will do as much for your glow as a nice bronzer.

And a fun hat: Summer is the perfect time to try out a top accessory. This great hat is a terrific topper for a daytime concert in the park.

Hope you'll meet me over at Frock Files, and please do tell me if you think a ring is appropriate as a symbol of marriage and of motherhood.

XOXO, MJ

                                                         

A tri- to try

Hello Friday! You are always such a welcome guest. We're hosting a little BBQ for some coworkers tonight and then heading into Chicago tomorrow for an outdoor concert and time with grandparents. How about you?

Will you be celebrating the opening ceremony of the Olympics tomorrow night (DVR all the way, baby)? Or will Saturday bring a pound of fudge to whoop it up for National Milk Chocolate Day? Don't forget to throw a big gathering for National Lasagna Day on Sunday...what a great meal for a big group of friends.

I've got a Tri- for you to Try this weekend.

                                

1. MAKE SOMETHING WASHI:

The photo above is my shout out to Olympic-ish washi love. This Monday I crafted (for the first time) something washi for Miss Louise. The DIY date challenge was for us to create anything with washi tape...wide open - anything.

I was delighted to see the whole range of possibilities from Paige's cool polka dot bangle to Joy's lovely laptop covering to Whitney's cool tray.

As for me, I wanted a way to show Instagram a little desktop lovin' so I made some mini-corkboards. I purchased some striped mini-washi tape and created a rainbow stripe (similar to that whimsical one you see up there in that header!). I loved how I could pull off and adjust the tape with no issues or re-stick problems. My 7-year old daughter also crafted one with ease. Washi is really forgiving. If you've thought about using it for a project, do it.

I printed my photos to Instagram viewing size...about 2.5" x 2.5".

2. SHOW SOME OLYMPIC-SIZED LOVE:

I can't believe how excited I am to be glued to my television for the next two weeks and watch the Olympics. My oldest daughter is the only one who remembers the Winter Olympics, and now all of them have the fever, with special hopes of watching their favorite sports and athletes compete. How are you all going to make the most of the games?

I have two great links for you. Check out these really well done printables for the Olympics. Erica over at Crash Notes created them for Project Life but they also make just awesome cards to post on your desk. (Thanks for Emily Kate for this great pin!)

And if you want to get the whole fam involved, check out all the great ideas from Laurie over on the Fiskars blog. Note: link includes felt laurel wreaths, world flags, and Olympic torches. Ooh la la.

Lastly, the unbelievable bingo cards, medals, mazes, and board games for the Olympics over at Tinyme Games will make you want to hit print over and over again.

3. UNDERSTAND YOUR STATS:

Hmm, that sounded more interesting in my head. Miss Kelly from Centsible Life sent me over to this great info. Dear blogger pals, here are some insights into all the tools at your disposal and a glossary of those terms we throw around to show that our blogs are fabulous. But, really, who needs stats? We're doing this because it's a whole lot of fun and a welcome distraction from so many other less creative ventures!

Here's to a great weekend. Looking forward to the close of a busy work summer and an extra special coffee date with the wonderful Melanie from Inward Facing Girl next week!! Like, in real life. :)

Have a bright weekend, friends. XOXO, MJ

Grown-Up Goodness: Time Together

I met my husband when we were both seniors in college. He's a little younger than I am but wiser. He's more logical, and funnier. He's easy to be with and my forever companion.

He is an amazing husband and an incredible father.

I adore time a part from the rest of the world, just with him. I also adore time with the rest of the world MORE when he's around.

         

As I mentioned yesterday, we had the chance (really we made the chance, since it is us cheapskates/overachievers that had not set aside the time to do so) to enjoy a dinner out. Don't get me wrong, I love taking the whole family out for a meal, but getting to share each other's delectable entrees and have an uninterrupted adult conversation...and actually look my best friend in the eyes for an evening...well, that's just pure goodness.

No matter the duration of our dates, we always fit in a trip to a bookstore for coffee and some dreaming. We both gather our stacks of favorite magazines to peruse and pour over the pages of Coastal Living and Architectural Digest together. Our future ocean/lake home is going to have some amazing views and interior design, I tell 'ya.

Whether it's sitting together on the deck to enjoy the sunset or just holding hands as we walk around lakeshore city streets with our children, summer goodness is truly ampliflied by the warmth of my hubby.

How are you spending the summer with the one you love? Any cheap, easy ideas you want to throw our way?

XOXO, MJ

Funday Fashion Monday: Dinner out

Welcome to Monday, friends! How was your weekend?

We wrapped up some swim lessons, headed out to the blueberry fields for a second harvest, buried our first family pet (RIP Violet the fish), and the hubby and I had a few hours to ourselves for a much-needed date night.

Typically we manage a monthly date night, but with the busy-ness of summer, we had let the time slip by. So, bring in the lovely neighborhood babysitter, Mommy and Daddy are headed out. We tried out a new-er local restaurant which specializes in hyper-local cuisine, and it did not disappoint.

Date nights are always such a joy, and summer date nights are my favorite. The dresses, the heels, and even the touches of floral goodness. I'm a flower-in-your-hair kind of gal, and I can't resist popping a fresh rose in my pulled back locks to add an extra touch of special to a night out together.

That dress: Call me boring, but a little red dress is still a great go-to for flirty fun. I love wrap dresses, and this one is so easy and affordable...I couldn't say no.

Those earrings: Simple, silver sparkle that stand out enough without stealing the show.

That clutch: Snake-embossed. I can't handle too much, but if you make it silver and sleek, it kind of makes any outfit complete.

The perfect red lipstick: I'm a new fan of red on the lips. I've been pretty much scared of it until this summer when I finally felt like now might be the right time to give it a whirl. I'm a fan of orange-reds right now. How about you...is red too much?

Those shoes: When I'm wearing a bold color, I like the shoes to play a lesser role. For summer I'm drawn to tan/flesh tones, and these sandals have the height that I like.

How about you, friends? What are your key pieces for a summer dinner out with the one you love?

Wishing you a wonderful week! XOXO, MJ

A tri- to try because you're cool

 Happy Friday, friends. It's been a fun, fun week here at Pars Caeli. This photo sums it up for me. My hubby brought home roses and rootbeer to celebrate the blog week (are you following me on Instagram? Come check it out at @parscaeli). He is so supportive and, even after 15+ years of love, finds new ways to insert joy into my day. And do you see those rolls of washi tape wonderful? Yes, those are soon to be transformed into my DIY meet-up with Laid Off Mom. Check her site on Monday to see the really cute desktop lovely I created that I think you might just fancy. Lastly, I'm trying to honor my homework commitment from the photo class with Justin Hackworth that I took through the Alt Channel this week. I am loving my new camera.

We're still moving in and working through some kinks in the new site. A big shout-out to the ah-mazing team of support known as Squarespace. The 24/7 advertised assistance is really accurate, and I love that (and need it) as a hobby blogger. I vow to get Disqus up and running by next week because I just miss talking to you guys!!

This weekend will you be celebrating over the moon by honoring the anniversary of the first lunar landing on Friday? If not, be sure to toast Robin Williams on Saturday, his birthday. The kiddos and I just watched Alladin for the first time together, and he's just so good in that one. And dear, dear parents, this Sunday is Parents' Day (yes, it's an official holiday since 1994). It's a day to honor the hard work and goodness that is the everyday of parenthood. How will we celebrate it? Yes, with a date just to ourselves.

This week's Tri- to Try is a mix of fun and inspiration just for you fabulous people who keep on coming back.

1. TOAST MY FAVORITE DRINK:

Really, my favorite drink is chocolate milk, but that's not as fun when gathered around the table with friends. So, I have for you the best margarita recipe. The bit of extra time it takes to make the perfect blend is worth it. Yes, it is.

My go-to drink is a margarita on the rocks with salt. Lots of salt. And, yes, I have been known (in the nicest way) to send back my margarita for more salt.

Joanna Goddard of Cup of Jo featured a delicious recipe from Kate of Cookie + Kate for the perfect recipe.

Let's toast the goodness that awaits us.

2. ENHANCE YOUR PHOTOS:

A Beautiful Mess always has something interesting popping up, and this post on brightening photos caught my eye. I use Photoshop and Illustrator every day in my professional life, but I haven't used Photoshop for this purpose too often.

It's an easy tip that really makes a big difference.

3. INSPIRE YOURSELF TO WRITE:

My real-life friend and blogger, Colleen (remember she did that great post on loving your neighbor) has put her mind and her life into motion to write her first (of many I'm sure) book. I am so excited for her; now is the time. She's a momma of five who homeschools, blogs, photographs, and makes me laugh and reflect through it all. She's done some great reading on the art of writing, and she has pulled 3 memorable quotes that will make you write richer content with greater purpose.

Wishing you a bright weekend, friends. We have no major plans other than some time together, and right about now that feels pretty major.

XOXO, MJ

 

 

 

The art of creation

 

I've been thinking a lot about creativity lately. First, I had my daughter, M, in art camp last week, and she came home with all sorts of inspiration. Second, I've been following and loving this series by Sandra and Jen on Creativity (go over and get inspired, while you nod your head at all the points that hit home!). Third and fourth, I'm an art major (I wear that badge proudly more than a decade after college), and soon and very soon, I get to talk about art, family, and creativity over at Classic Play!! Oh, sorry, too excited. More about that on Wednesday.

One of my favorite college courses was entitled Art as a Response. Art can be such an amazing way to express all that is good, challenging, confusing, and wrong with the world. Around here, summer is the time to respond. Granted, it's always a busy time, too, with kiddo camps and classes, friend gatherings, and extra professional stuff for me. Nevertheless, the art student in moi still thinks of summer as a time for projects and doing. Did you make a potholder from the loom or the latch-hook run over the summer like I did as a child?

 

As a grown-up, I try to go to the art as a summer treat. As I mentioned yesterday, we visit local museums and take in art fairs wherever possible. Sometimes this warm inspiration has to keep me going through the long, gray months of winter here in the Midwest.

I have big hopes that I can turn inspiration into creation this summer...likely in August when professional life calms down a bit. I have my calligraphy pens ready to work some hand-lettering goodness on a few prints that have been in m brain for way too long. And my once-termed "living room" really wants to just shout out its new title as the ART ROOM but it needs a creative wind to blow through it with some touches of whimsy and organizational structure.

While I wait to dig into those, I'm succumbing to the best kind of peer pressure with a blog DIY date. I'm totally delighted to be meeting up with Louise and a dozen other great bloggers on a fun DIY date. If we lived anywhere close to one another, we'd have a crafternoon over at Louise's house, like all of her besties get. But, instead, we'll enjoy it via the blogosphere.

And our inspirational material: Washi tape. I'm still craftering away on this, and I can't wait to show you the results!!!

How are you taking in the art this summer? XOXO, MJ

ps. I'm still trying to figure out how to transfer my Disqus comments, and I really want to talk back to you...please know that I'm working to get them up ASAP. In the meantime, I'm having a lovely discussion with you...in my head.

Funday Fashion Monday: Art museum

 

Hello!! Welcome, welcome to our new home. Don't you just love shorter URLs? I have a new crush, and it's on SquareSpace, the wonderful new friend of Pars Caeli. More on this great move later...for now, I'm just so excited that you're here. It's going to be an amazing week, I promise.

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Please and thank you for your patience as we unpack boxes and organize the closets over here in our new home. There are kinks to work out, but it's so exciting to finally be here.

I had a lovely weekend! How about you? We spent Saturday on the shores of Lake Michigan, digging big sand holes and riding on the truck/ship combo known as the Duck. Sunday we celebrated Rembrandt's birthday with a trip to one of our local art museums that was hosting a family day.

Have you visited an art gallery or museum lately? Have you taken your children? I took my two little ladies yesterday, and we came with our sketchbooks and pencils, ready to capture some inspiration. They loved every moment, and we could have easily spent more than our 2.5 hours waltzing through the galleries. If you haven't read it yet, check out Gabby's post on visiting art with your kiddos. Check the comments esp, great ways to get more out of the experience!

Here are some great summer finds for your next trip to the art museum (or anywhere else wonderful this sunny season).

Those shoes: A nice cork wedge to help you go up and down those flights of stairs as you ponder whether the modern art or the kinesthetic sculpture garden or the Renaissance oils were REALLY your fave.

These earrings: These lovelies are just the right amount of dangle mixed with a touch of sparkle.

That flattering tank: The levels of shirred fabric on this one compliment curves and the tone will coordinate with summer's great pops of color.

This sweater to keep you cozy: Not to be granny on you, but museums can get chilly so keep this bright mustard cardie in your purse or on top of the tank, just to show that you know how to mix it up with color.

That leather yumminess: This tote is supple, large, and can hold all the supplies you take into the museum and all the gifties you take home from the shop.

The sketchbooks and pencils: I find spiral-bounds to be child-friendly and ready to go anywhere they're needed. We stretched out on the floor right in front of our favorite paintings to capture the colors. These pencils are lead free, and they come in a CD case. Super handy and great quality for the price.

That, that skirt: My fave piece is the amazing tiered lace skirt. I've seen lace detail a lot lately, and this lace is done well and wearable. It comes in two colors, and you'll have a tough time deciding which is more awesome.

That's all friends. I hope your Monday is bright. What were you up to this weekend?

XOXO, MJ

 

A tri- to try in Photography

 

Terrific! It's Friday. What's going on this weekend? Don't let Friday the 13th get you down. Throw a superstition party and let everyone reveal their most believable superstitions (of course select your favorite Friday the 13th to watch as well). Celebrate with crepes on Saturday in honor of Bastille Day, and don't forget to head to explore some art and to pay homage to Rembrandt on his birthday (we'll be doing it!).

 

Here's a trifecta of awesomeness all wrapped around photography for you to try this weekend. My new camera is going to get broken over the next few days in prep for the Alt Channel class I'm taking on Tuesday with Justin Hackworth. Join me, and we'll both become pros at our DSLRs (I really do want to see all the great shots you capture of your kids! I promise).

1. TAKE STUNNINGLY FLATTERING SELF SHOTS: 

(Not necessarily captured here.) I've got a need for some higher quality headshots/self-portraits. I am so horrible at finding a shot that I like, and I kind of find the whole process a drag. I found three simple reminders from a fellow blogger heading out to a blogging conference (where lots of photos are taken) that I want to pass on.

 

 

Have you tried this?

 

Angle yourself towards the camera, drop your shoulders, and lean into the camera, putting your weight slightly on your front foot.

I'm going to try it. I'll let you know how it goes. :)

 

2. DO NOT SAY CHEESE:

Dave Cooper, talented hubs of Jen Cooper, over at Classic Play has some awesome suggestions on how to take better family photos.  


My fave is #2:

2. Let it happen naturally and capture it. Your family is a living thing that moves. You need to move as well. Capture real moments. These are so much more rewarding to look at a month from now, a year from now, 10 years from now. Have you ever heard someone say “Remember that time we all stood up from the picnic table and stood in a line and you took that picture? That was fun. We should do that again.”?

There's more goodness over at Classic Play. Go and write down all that he has to say!

 

 

3. MAKE THE MUNDANE EXTRAORDINARY:


I'm discovering, with my new large camera, that a strap is essential. And though I don't mind loudly publicizing Canon, I'd like to go for something more special. Bri Emery over at DesignLoveFest posted a wonderful tut on crafting your own camera strap. Have you seen it? Go check it out.

 

Race you to Michael's for all the supplies!!

Do you have any great photography tips you can send my way? How do you make great art and look good doing it?

Thanks for a great week! Don't forget to enter our giveaway held in conjunction with the Playful Learning. Tell your friends, too. Winners chosen on Monday!

Until soon, XOXO, MJ

Instant forgiveness

My blogger buds have been participating in this movement going around the worldwide web that I found here, and then added more here. These posts have been a really refreshing way of letting others know "The Things I'm Afraid to Tell You" and to allow us to break down the literal screens that separate us. I have so enjoyed the honest accounts that we have shared in. Yes, I nod as I read them and I feel that little bit of indigestion when a sentiment strikes a chord.

 

http://static.designformankind.com/images/2012/05/things-im-afraid-to-tell-you.jpg 

True confessions: I am not a rockstar mom. I try, and I (often) fail.

 

The thing is (I think you see right through this, no?)...I'm not a supermom. I don't wish to blog one way and live another. It is weird to type, however, particularly as a person hosting a blog about happy homes, that I do not have it all together.

And, dear, lovely friends who ask how I balance it all - kids and work and this blog and life. Every day I put in the effort and most days I end up exhausted, trying to be the best that I can for my children.

This week has brought home for me my own limits.. where I forgot school lunches and end of the year Daisy meetings, dropped off crying children at school and completely lost my voice from yelling at the kiddos, and even on a number of occasions asked my dear hubby to PLEASE take over with the kids. I had had enough. I had reached my limit.

And here's what I learned.
 
My children have an incomprehensible capacity for forgiveness.

 

Instant forgiveness.

I sat them all down and in my big Mommy voice apologized for my response to their behaviors.

 

M: "No problem, Mom."
C: "I love you, Mommy!"
L: "Dats okay, Mommee."

While I am still recovering from how poorly I handled situations this week (my voice has returned)...And fighting my own immaturity to judge them for their actions...these three little people are already over the emotions, the impatient tones, and the harsh words. In fact, I'm not sure they even remember them happening at all.

I have a clean slate. Instantly.

My children have this Grace, still. I realize it's not likely they'll always have this Gift in this way. I realize too that for their own survival in this changing world, they need to have the walls and defenses to learn from mistakes and broken promises and bumps along the road.

But what if?
What if we could really look at one another as my children did and just let it go...whatever IT might be between us?

Frustration, anger, disappointment gone with the gentle breeze blowing by us.

I'm going to try it today.

To fight off my own self-preservation instinct and follow my children's lead. Wanna try it with me?

Pick someone, anyone with whom you are struggling. It doesn't have to be your greatest struggle - this isn't therapy (or even a great self-help blog).

Perhaps it's the salesman at the door who both knocked and rang the doorbell during naptime (URGH!). Instant forgiveness. Poof. Done.

Maybe it's your coworker who interrupted you again or your friend that has yet to return your phone call. Or that guy in the car in front of you who will not stop looking at his phone to go through the green light. Instant forgiveness. Poof. Done.

Maybe that's how these kiddos make childhood look so blissful.

Perhaps it's yourself that you offer the Grace to. Forgiveness is always out there waiting for us, if we only ask God for it. Perhaps you acknowledge this Gift of instant forgiveness...and let it go. Poof. Done.

C turns 5 today, and we celebrate her with the passion and amazing capacity for joy that she offers to the world. Happy birthday, little lady. I hope I grow up to be just like you.

Happy Thursday, friends.

XOXO, MJ