I Needed to Do This

Last night I drank in more fun than I’ve had in a long time, and this morning my heart is hungover with joy. I can’t explain why last night’s events meant so much to me. I can’t explain the rush of passion I felt when the opportunity presented itself, nor can I explain the tears that burned against the back of my eyes as I lived it. All I know is that I needed this. For whatever reason, I needed to do this for me.

If there’s one characteristic about myself that I’ve always been quick to admit, it’s this: I am NOT artistic. I’ve tried to be, yes. I still have the sketch book from my childhood that tells of my tries to draw horses. I wanted to be good at it, and I practiced; but the natural talent just wasn’t there. And neither was the instruction. The nine-week art class required of all seventh graders is the extent of my “technical training.”

I guess I’ve always been fine with the fact that I don’t do art. Sure, I’d love to be good at it; but I know I’m not and I accept that.

And still, I had to do this. I hadn’t known that – I wasn’t expecting it or seeking it out. But when I was looking into some summer art camps for kids being offered by Pinot’s Palette Des Moines and came across this beautiful painting, even my artistic handicaps couldn’t subdue the urgency I felt. Every ounce of me, without a doubt, wanted – needed – to attend the class.

So I did. I found a friend and my husband’s blessing, and I took a mom’s night out to remember. Today, the experience fills my heart and adorns my wall. It’s the best $35 of blow money I’ve ever spent.

Pinot's Palette - Foret Noir et Jaune

Maybe the reason it means so much is that truth I’ve just told – that I’m not artistic. Maybe I enjoyed it so much because I could never have visualized this scene without the master example nor created it without the step-by-step instruction.

It’s a copycat painting, and an imperfect one at that, but it’s as strongly mine as the passion which drove me to it. I did it, and I’ll be proud to soon display it on the walls of my new home.

Angela Foret Noir et Jaune

Can you think of a time you just needed to do some thing for yourself, even if you couldn’t explain it? Tell me about it!

Homeschool Reflections (and Why I Need Summer)

Homeschool Reflections (and Why I Need Summer)

We are winding down our school year this week. As much as I love homeschooling and know it’s right for our family, I’m relieved. The Homeschool Conference is coming up, and in anticipation of that, I find myself looking forward to next year even before this one is over.

That’s a big part of why I’m ready to be done, I suppose – because before I know it, the time will be here to begin again.

I look forward to enjoying a nice break this summer. I always do. Not only will it be a time to recharge for the next year of homeschooling, but it will also be a relaxed time of memory-making and family-building. (Oh, and house-building, too!)

I expect that this summer will see us frequenting the pool (gotta love that season pass!), firing up the grill (there is no steak in Des Moines like my hubby’s!), and, of course, watching our new house rise. (You can watch, too, by following me on Instagram and Twitter @AngelaRSquires and by subscribing to this blog!)

We probably won’t plan on taking much of a vacation this year; all these other things ought to be fun enough. (Besides, we don’t want to be away from the build for too long!)

But first, the NICHE Conference – which is actually a bit of a vacation for us in itself. We send the kids to Grandma and Grandpa’s for a few days, and we enjoy a time of reconnecting over booths full of books and sessions full of sage advice. Maybe not everyone’s idea of an exhilarating couple’s weekend, but it is for us. :-)

I need the encouragement this year, too. Every year around this time I start freaking out a little bit on the inside, wondering how in the world I’m going to manage next year’s homeschool. Each year seems to add a little more work – a little more time commitment – and I always wonder how I can possibly do more.

Then the time comes and somehow I do it, usually better than I’d hoped.

Still, I worry. This time it’s over the idea of having two in Kindergarten – and not just that, but having two learning to read. I guess teachers handle far more than that in the classroom, but for me it’s definitely going to be a learn-as-I-go kind of thing. Will we make it through? I’m sure. I just don’t know how yet. :-)

Homeschool Reflections (and Why I Need Summer)

Four-year-old Isabel REALLY wants to learn to read!

So, what’s been on your mind as the school year winds down and summer break approaches?

#SquiresHomeRun: Footings and Friends

Thanks to a couple rainy days it’s been a somewhat uneventful past week at the construction site. Any sign of something happening is exciting though, so when we found this, we were elated.

#SquiresHomeRun

With the footings poured, we can begin to get a glimpse of the house’s form. I like to stand at the edge of the hole and just envision. Here’s where our family room will be. There’s the nook for our home gym. That’s the safe room we almost didn’t add.

It’s all starting to take shape for the kids, too. I imagine that this whole process of walking through houses and sitting through design meetings has been rather obscure for them. But now there is something tangible. Something concrete. (Literally. :-) ) And the reality of it all is beginning to set in for them, too.

#SquiresHomeRun

Of course, playing on the dirt mounds with the new neighbor kids is probably the highlight for them right now. (I don’t even want to know what their new tennis shoes would look like had we not purchased rain boots for site exploration.) It’s a highlight for us, too. Everyone in the neighborhood has been so friendly and welcoming, and I have a feeling that by the time we move in six months from now, we won’t totally feel like the new kids on the block.

Remember, you can follow our #SquiresHomeRun on Instagram and Twitter in between blog updates.

Stitch Fix Review #1

Stitch Fix #1

Last week I received my first Stitch Fix and promised to do a review of it here on my blog.

I enjoy shopping and wearing stylish clothing, but as I’ve confessed, I’m a slow shopper – especially when it comes to clothes – and that doesn’t always mix well with a busy schedule and four kids.

So when my friend Jody posted her Stitch Fix review on Des Moines Moms Blog, I was sold on the idea of trying on five stylish items in front of my own mirror and with several days (instead of several minutes) to make a purchasing decision.

I stayed up late that night completing my style profile (and Googling style descriptions like “casual chic” and “classic” because I didn’t know what they meant), and I was able to schedule my first fix for just over a week later.

To my surprise, my fix shipped early and arrived at my doorstep prior to my scheduled date. I guess that was a good thing since I was heading out of town that weekend and wanted a new outfit to take along.

My First Fix
Denna Dark Wash Skinny Jean with Lillian Printed Flutter Sleeve Blouse

Denna Dark Wash Skinny Jean with Lillian Printed Flutter Sleeve Blouse

The Denna Dark Wash Skinny Jeans were the first thing I tried on. I wasn’t really looking to buy jeans, but I was anxious to see if they got my fit right. (I’m that girl who tries on 10 pairs of jeans before finding one I like.) They did. I’ve got to say, I was impressed. The jeans were plain but practical, and I liked the cut and feel of them. At $78, they weren’t a purchase I could justify in the absence of need, though I would have considered keeping them in a different season.

Still wearing the jeans, I tried on this Lillian Printed Flutter-Sleeve Blouse. I wasn’t thrilled with the color or pattern, and I thought at first that this particular flutter sleeve was weird, but overall the fit was flattering and comfortable. The price? Way too high. I’m not sure I could ever spend $68 on a lightweight shirt.

Geena Tab-Sleeve Belted Tunic

Geena Tab-Sleeve Belted Tunic

Next up was the Geena Tab-Sleeve Belted Tunic. I was pretty sure right out of the box that it wasn’t my style; belted tops just aren’t my thing. My first impression was right. I hated the sleeves, and the material was hot and heavy. It felt more like fall than spring to me. Even if I’d liked it, the size wasn’t right. It was too big through the chest and arms. That was $48 pretty easily NOT spent.

Laney Empire Waist Jersey Maxi Dress

Laney Empire Waist Jersey Maxi Dress

By this time, the kids were dying for me to try on the Laney Empire Waist Jersey Maxi Dress. (Yes, even though I was “shopping” at home, I still felt like I had a dressing room full of kids.) We’d all fallen in love with the color before I’d even unfolded it. After the first three somewhat disappointing selections, this piece put a smile on my face. The dress fit perfectly and looked like something I would have pulled off the rack myself. My only dilemma? The price tag. Excepting jeans, I never spend $74 for a single article of clothing. Was this dress really worth that much? I decided it might be, since it’s an outfit all in one piece. I cut the tag off and wore it – with buyer’s remorse – the next day. All I can say is it better hold up to a lot of wear, because I intend to get the goody out of my $74 this summer.

Bianca Heathered Drape Front Cardigan

Bianca Heathered Drape Front Cardigan

The last item in my box was the Bianca Heathered Drape Front Cardigan. I had no clue what I’d wear it with, so I just threw it on over the top of the maxi dress. And then I threw it right back off. I hated the cut and style so much that I didn’t even take time to have my hubby snap a picture. Realizing that I should probably have a photo of it for this review, I put it back on for the camera a couple days later just before packing it into the postage-paid return sack. I think this $58 cardigan brought extra disappointment because it wasn’t the white full-zip layering piece I had specifically requested.

Concluding Thoughts

Overall, I was a little disappointed in my fix. Two of five items I couldn’t even consider keeping because of fit and/or style; and all of them were too expensive for me to be able to keep more than one. I was impressed by the accuracy of the sizing (in four of five items). The color/style/fit of the dress was right on, though the price was pushing my comfort zone; I’m hoping the quality will prove the cost to be justified.

Although my first fix was less than ideal, I think there is a chance I’ll schedule another one at some point – as long as I’m prepared to spend upwards of $50 per item. In the meantime, I think I’d do well to add some inspiring looks to my fashion board on Pinterest, giving my Stitch Fix stylist a better look at what I like.

So, what do you think? Would you ever try Stitch Fix? Or maybe you already have? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Disclaimer: I did not receive anything in exchange for this review. However, fixes scheduled through my referral link will earn me credit toward my next fix.

New Home Construction is Underway!

The time has come to announce that the building of our new house is officially underway!! Our builder informed us yesterday that digging is to start TODAY, so I made the first of what I’m sure will be many daily jaunts over to the lot to capture one last pre-groundbreaking picture.

#SquiresHomeRun

Our timing was perfect! We got to watch the backhoe crawl into our lot!

This picture, too, is the first of many more to come. My plan is to share our journey not only here on the blog, but also in pictures I’ll be posting to Instagram and Twitter throughout the process. These photos will be tagged with #SquiresHomeRun, so any who care to follow along may easily do so by searching for that hashtag.

Why #SquiresHomeRun?

Travis and I put quite a bit of thought into creating a hashtag that would be memorable, unique, not too long, and still representative of us and this project. After tossing around several ideas that just didn’t grab us, Travis suggested #SquiresHomeRun. It made perfect sense, and the sentimental side of me which likes to assign meaning was satisfied.

The most obvious explanation behind the hashtag #SquiresHomeRun is that we are taking a “run” at building a custom home. And, we think we “hit it out of the park” with a floorplan and a design (more to come – stay tuned!) that suits both our needs and our reasonable wants within the constraints of a careful budget.

The less obvious meaning behind the home run motif – besides that we are a baseball-lovin’ family – is inspired by the clever association between baseball and family used by our pastor, Todd Stiles, in his recent book, Home Run: Family, Baseball and Psalm 128. While Home Run is centered around Psalm 128 and the home-based teachings gleaned from it, Travis and I look more to the preceding Psalm as a theme verse for our own “home run.” As we’re wandering around the construction site surveying the progress, walking through stores making selections, and watching our vision materialize from the inside out, it is important to us that we remember this truth:

Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it. (Psalm 127:1a, NASB)

We desire to keep the Lord and His purposes at the center of our energies and at the head of our endeavors, because the Rock upon which we build our “house” is a whole lot more important than the cultured stone we choose for our home’s exterior.

Four-year-old Isabel keeps asking in wonderment, “But how are they going to build an actual house there?” Step by step, she’s about to find out.

And you can, too! Don’t forget to follow along with our #SquiresHomeRun on Instagram and Twitter, and be sure to subscribe to my blog to receive updates on the build and more!

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