Life Lately

first day of school 2014

This school year will be the first & last time that our kids will be in every public school in our district. On one hand, I think that’s amazing. A TeSelle kid in each school. On the other hand, I think that’s crazy. Our district has two elementary schools but they are right next to each other and the school day begins and ends at the same time so that’s helpful. Carpool has been a little challenging for the older two, but thankfully we have some amazing neighbors that are helping with that.

IMG_3542Side note: On Gunnar’s first day of high school, he sent me a text during his lunch asking if he could stay after school & get some info about the freshman football team. His friends “recruited” him & of course he went & loved it. His first game was last weekend {he plays defense} & I was the one in the stands watching with one eye closed. Sadly, one of the players on the other team took a tough hit & he had to be carted off the field into an ambulance. Justification for watching with one eye closed, right?

gunnar_tackleps – I was also the mom in the stands quietly taking pictures & pretending to be a sports photographer {that’s him making the touchdown saving tackle!}.

IMG_3427Our garden is growing. Slowly & small, but it’s growing.

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I’m ready for the weather to cool off so I can wear layers again. Yes, I know I’ll be regretting those words come January but I’m much more comfortable in clothing that I can layer. This late summer humid 90 degree stuff is great for crops {& I do not mean Crop Tops!} but not for my mental state. And take into consideration my aging body that’s fighting hormone changes, I’m miserable most of the time when the temperature is over 77 degrees. I’m a mess!

And speaking of being a mess. Remember a few months ago when I told you I had a sleep study test? You can decide if you want to go back and look at that picture or not. Sorry, again. After that test, the doctor told me that I have mild sleep apnea when I sleep on my back & recommended that I sleep on my side. Normally I’m all over the place when I sleep {poor Greg!} but for my health & his well-being, I have been determined to make myself a side sleeper. Thus, the hunt for a comfortable pillow for sleeping on my side that doesn’t hurt my neck & give me headaches & is somewhat firm but also soft & doesn’t make my arms fall asleep when I’m sleeping on my side. I sound spoiled rotten, don’t I? In the past 4 months, I’ve rejected 4 pillows. So, I’m on the hunt for the perfect side sleeper pillow. Any side sleepers out there have any recommendations? For my health & the well-being of my husband, we thank you!

poop cakeOur family has decided to ditch the sweets for the month of September. We aren’t being legalistic about it, just choosing to not have desserts every night after dinner. We all realized that we over-indulged on the sweets this summer & it can’t hurt to take a break. And whatever happened to dessert being spontaneous instead of expected? Dessert loses it’s specialness if it’s always expected after a meal, doesn’t it? {at least that’s what I’m telling myself & my kids this month…}

reset

Summer is over – the pool is closed, school is in session & we’re settling in to the rhythm of alarm clocks & bus schedules & carpool & date nights & football games – a new season is here and we need a reset. Stop by Allume today where I’m sharing a few ways that you can take advantage of the new season and reset your blog.

One more thing – October is just around the corner & that means it’s almost time for 31 Days! Greg & I are brainstorming what we want to write about this year but we’d love to hear your thoughts! Is there anything that you’d LOVE {or HATE} to hear us write about this year? Let us know in the comments below or email me: carolineteselle @ gmail dot com.

How We Take Family Photos

say what?

Whenever I grab my Nikon to take pictures when people are involved, Greg knows that I need his help. It’s unspoken now.

He gathers the group to be photographed, directs them where to stand & then he gives the cues. I click & hide behind the camera. We both play the part we know well. {This time, the kids picked where they wanted to stand. They said, let’s take the picture by the “family tree”. Greg & I gave each other a raised eyebrow look that said “We have a family tree??”}.

I’d be lost without Greg & the kids do not dread having their picture taken because they know their dad & uncle {yes, that’s my nephew, Dakota on the far left} will make it fun.

Can you tell where Greg was standing when these pictures were taken? Follow the eyes of his two youngest in a few of the photographs. Who knows what he was saying but it always turns into memorable photos.

Stone loves the family tree…

…not sure how to caption this one…

surprised? confused? what?

silly face? Gunnar must not have heard the cue…

angry? poker face?

you can hear the laughter, right?

 

And somewhere in the midst of the fun & crazy we find the one that brings them all together, gathered around our family tree.

Summer 2014 = Whoa!

This summer has been amazing & exhausting & jam-packed & full of highs & lows – memories that we hope our kids will take with them for a long time.

I have shared a little bit about our beach & lake reunions and the R.O.C. Race but there was so much more. I want to tell you all about the “so much more” and maybe one day my internal processor brain will punch out the words. For now, enjoy the video & see the pictures which speak the words that I cannot today.


 

Now I’m ready for a vacation. Just kidding. Kinda.

If you have a bunch of time on your hands and you’d like to scroll through 350+ pictures from the summer, here’s the whole album on Flickr.

{Reading this in an email? Click HERE or on Vimeo to see the video}.

What I Learned :: R.O.C. Race Edition

hashtag whoaSummer officially started at our house on June 5th.

I have slept in my own bed 28 of the 56 days of summer, half of the summer so far. 4 weeks. Greg has been able to join us for two of those weeks & it has been an amazing summer, full of lifelong memories. The main focus has been two family reunions – one at the beach and one at the lake.

Jammed between those two trips was something ridiculous. The R.O.C. {Ridiculous Obstacle Course} Race on July 12 in Chicago.

ROC courseGreg, Gunnar & I signed up for this race months ago. The obstacles are inspired by the television game show Wipeout and it’s one of our favorite shows to watch as a family. Some of our friends participated in the R.O.C. Race last year when it was in Charlotte & we knew we wanted to sign up for it when it came to Chicago.

The morning of the race came and we were ready! We made t-shirts! #WHOA {our word of the year!}

The most disappointing thing about the day? The weather. The forecast said 30% chance of rain. By the time we arrived to check in, it was RAINING. 100% DOWNPOUR RAIN. I’m using ALL CAPS to emphasize that this was the most rain I have ever had the privilege to stand, run, walk, sit in during my entire 42 years of life on this beautiful earth. RAIN. And later on during the race, THUNDER & LIGHTNING.

We tried to wear ponchos…

roc race ponchoThe poncho lasted 2 minutes once we stepped out of the car.

We threw them away & changed our mental focus to know we were going to be wet. We knew once we ran the obstacle course we were going to be wet but we were not expecting to be wet before the race even started.

Here are a few things That I Learned – R.O.C. Race Edition ::

1. The R.O.C Race is ridiculous. The weather that day made it the most ridiculous thing I have ever done, but it was so much fun!

2. Eyebrows & eyelashes are VERY important when you’re standing, running & doing crazy obstacles in the pouring rain. Did I tell you yet it was pouring rain?

3. It’s fun to do things with your kids even if you think it’s crazy & inconvenient. We made lifelong memories that day.

4. Dollar store ponchos do not work. At all. Don’t buy them. Just let yourself get wet.

5. My husband is and will forever be a kid at heart. He attacked those obstacles like he was 20 years younger even though at any moment he could snap an ankle or a knee or a shoulder or a…well, you get the idea.

6. Even though I suck at exercising on a regular basis, I still have some strength in my arms & legs to do those ridiculous obstacles. {I still suck at running though & had a hard time running from obstacle to obstacle….see #7}

7. I can pee my pants standing up surrounded by strangers in the pouring rain {that’s a sentence I never thought I’d type!}.

Let me back up a bit. Our start time for the race was supposed to be 9am. We arrived around 8am & stood in the pouring rain for 2 hours to get our bib numbers. The race was obviously on a time delay because of the weather. When we finally got our bib numbers, the R.O.C. volunteer asked if we wanted to move up our start time to 7:30 and we said yes! As we were dropping off our stuff at bag check, they announced the race was starting and they called for the 7:30 start time. We raced to the front of the crowd & made it through to the starting gate just in time. One big problem. My bladder was full. It had been on the brink of full for an hour but I thought I would have time to use the porta-potty before our race started. Nope. We started the race & I tried to jog to keep up with Gunnar & Greg but my bladder {that was ruined by giving birth to 4 babies in 7 years} was screaming at me. By the time we got to the 4th obstacle, The Drop, I was standing in line & waiting for my turn, surrounded by strangers in the POURING rain {picture yourself standing in the shower, that’s how hard it was raining}, I took a deep breath & made my 42 year old screaming bladder happy. The downpour-standing-in-the-shower-rain washed it away immediately. {Some of you may be wondering why I didn’t just use the porta-potty, am I right? Two reasons: 1) they are gross & 2) I would still be in the porta-potty today trying to get my twisted & tangled, soaking wet shorts pulled back up!}.

Um, are we still friends?

8. I scream like a mad woman being chased by a killer when I’m having fun. Too bad we do not have a video…

roc race finished9. We will never forget this day. Yes, it was ridiculous & my hair is plastered to the side of my face & my tu-tu is soaking wet {um, that’s another sentence I never thought I’d type!} & we were a little bummed that we couldn’t finish the rest of the obstacles because of the thunderstorm – but look at those smiles! So much fun! If the R.O.C. Race ever comes to your town, you must do it!

Thanks for stopping by to read the latest edition of What I Learned {and please say we’re still friends!}. Be sure to read more What I Learned posts from Emily & her community over at Chatting at the Sky.

TeSelle Reunion 2014

cousins 2

All the cousins!

cousins

The crazy cousins!

dad & gunnar

Gunnar & Greg

cousins

Tygar & Ana

cynthia&lily

Cynthia & Lily

eden & geese

Eden & a gaggle of geese

family_hike

A TeSelle reunion tradition – the family hike

fun with glow sticks

Glow stick fun!

gunnar_kayak

Gunnar relaxing

joan & cynthia

Joan & Cynthia – mother & daughter beauties

stone splash

Stone “rain”

sunset

Lake Anna sunset

teselle reunion 2014

The TeSelle Family

the boys

Cruisin’

tubing_with_grandpa

Tygar & Stone tubing with grandpa

shellfish allergy

Gunnar discovered an allergy to shellfish…

tygar_paddleboard

Tygar loved the paddleboard

windblown

windblown…

boat relaxing

Lily, Canon & Gunnar enjoying the shade with Grandpa

chef eric

Chef Eric!

ct & eden

My first time to drive a jet ski!

nail party

Nail painting party with Lily & Eden

ct_joan_cynthia

Before the “scream/laugh omg slow down Darrin but we can’t go any slower!” tube ride with Joan & Cynthia. Unfortunately, we do not have an after photograph. ;)

tygar swing

Swingin’ Tygar

shocked sons

“What? Mom just won?”

the "grandma"

“I won!” & from now on we will refer to this move as “The Grandma!”

Greg leading the kayak train doing "The Grandma"

Greg leading the kayak train doing “The Grandma”

alaina&ana

Alaina & Ana

cousins on the wow

Fun on the WOW

eric&cynthia

Cynthia & Eric lakeside chat

lake anna sunrise

Lake Anna sunrise

It was a beautiful week as you can tell from the photographs. We are extremely thankful to Greg’s family for providing the house & the boat & the jet ski & the kayaks & all the lake toys! We showed up with our swim suits & sunscreen & loved every minute.

Thank you Gale, Joan, Darrin, Peggy, Ana, Alaina Canon, Eric, Cynthia & Lily! Looking forward to the next time we can be together!

Confessions of An Affiliate Flop

affiliate flop 4

Have you ever participated in an affiliate program? Or maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about. I’m over at Allume today sharing some lessons I’ve learned from my less than favorable experiences with affiliates.

I’d love for you to hop over & join in on the conversation.

A Picnic on the Beach

beach picnic cousins

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably noticed that our family spent some time together at the beach last week. Once a year, we make the trek to South Carolina to spend time with some family, relax & enjoy the ocean air. My parents generously provide the accommodations and we provide the chaos!

beach picnic cousins_2

beach picnic tygar

beach picnic oldest boys

beach picinic wave watching

During the day we do our own thing. We spend some time at the beach & the pool & sometimes participate in a random activity offered by the resort. But we always meet up together for dinner & the adults take turns making the menu & preparing the meal.

This year I had a grand idea – let’s have a picnic dinner on the beach! Hot dogs & chips & carrot sticks & lemonade & s’mores.  Easy, right? I guess the meal itself wasn’t grand, just the location. It was something we hadn’t done before in all our years of gathering at the beach.

beach picnic hotdogs

Here’s why it seemed like a grand idea at the time, at least in my mind:

1. The grandparents can spend time with the kids without the crazy midday beach crowd & overwhelming heat.

2. For me, the photography nerd, it’s twilight hour – the perfect time for photos.

3. Eden & Stone could fly their kites that they have been saving since they received them as Christmas gifts without the fear of crashing them into someone sunbathing.

4. The relaxing ocean breeze & cool sand.

beach picnic kite

beach picnic watching

beach picnic family pic

beach picnic crazy family

beach picnic crazy eden

What I didn’t take into consideration when I had my grand idea to have a picnic dinner on the beach:

1. The amount of stuff you need to trek down for a picnic on the beach for all 9 of us – chairs, blankets, beverages, condiments for hot dogs, a hammer {to crack a coconut, of course!} a camera & a tripod {for the family group pictures & twilight hour photos, of course!}

2. The wind – yes, the wind was PERFECT for flying kites! but not so perfect for trying to spread condiments on hot dogs.

3. Even though I’ve done this before & I’ve read about the perfect settings for my camera during twilight hour, I still manage to forget all I’ve learned when I start clicking. I decided to not let it fluster me this time and just take pictures. Some came out with the right exposure, some didn’t. Oh well.

beach picnic G&C
beach picnic tygar laugh

The kids didn’t care that they had to eat their dinner in stages because there was no possible way to eat off of a paper plate in that crazy wind. They grabbed the hot dog bun, slapped on a hot dog & their favorite condiment and walked around in the sand and the wind and enjoyed every bite of that hot dog! Even if it had a few grains of sand in there.

beach picnic full moon

When the week comes to an end, to help ease the pain of driving away from the beach, we talk about our favorite things that happened that week.

Guess what? This year, the hot dog picnic dinner on the beach was one of their favorite things.

Sometimes, as adults, what we perceive as an inconvenience can become a lifelong memory for your kid.

Here’s to more “inconveniences” this summer!

Pass the mustard!

 

inconvenience

TFIOS

forever grateful_2

Have you read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green?

I finished it in a weekend so obviously it is a quick read, but the content is not quick.

Skimming back through the pages, I realized that I had highlighted several sentences & even paragraphs. This is a novel that I will return to & savor the words.

As I read TFIOS, I found myself wishing I could be as articulate with my spoken words {& even how I write sometimes} as the main characters in this book. For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be one who was quick witted. My witty come back comments come to me the next day, way to late to mean anything except maybe to me. Sidebar :: Makes me think of a line from the Pride & Prejudice movie {2005} when Elizabeth {Keira Knightley} says to Mr. Darcy {Matthew MacFadyen}, “Perhaps you should take your aunt’s advice and practice?”. Touché Caroline.

I had to remind myself {several times} that I was reading the words of teenagers thoughtfully brought to life through the written word of John Green {the 36 year old author}. Hazel Grace Lancaster {16} & Augustus Waters {17} are mature beyond their years because of their present circumstances.

A few examples of their thoughtfully eloquent words that I highlighted:

Hazel Grace – “The weird thing about houses is that they almost always look like nothing is happening inside of them, even though they contain most of our lives.”

Hazel Grace – “You gave me a forever within the numbered days and I’m grateful.”

Gus – “My thoughts are stars I can’t fathom into constellations.”

Van Houten – “Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.” {technically, this character is not a teenager, but he acts like a spoiled rotten one!}

Gus – “The real heroes anyway aren’t the people doing things; the real heroes are the people NOTICING things, paying attention.”

Gus – “You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.”

With just a few examples you can see why so many young adult fiction fans have been swooned. Those of us who love fiction {myself included} tend to allow some unrealistic expectations seep into our daily lives looking for the swoon.

As with any fictional writing, allow yourself be drawn into TFIOS story. Be swooned.

Fall in love with Hazel Grace Lancaster & Augustus Waters.

Laugh.

Cry.

Gasp out loud & grab the tissue box for extra tissues or to throw it across the room, depending on how you feel about the way it ended…

Then put the book down & take a walk.

Savor the words & moments that spoke to you.

Leave the unrealistic expectations inside the pages of the book {or inside the movie theater}.

“Okay? Okay.”

If you read the book or will see the movie, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below {let’s try to keep them spoiler-free for those that haven’t read/seen it yet}.

Let’s Talk About Blog Ads

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Today I have the opportunity to share a few things that I have learned about Blog Ads with the Allume community. I’d love for you to stop by!

Have a great Wednesday!

Commend

psalm 145_4

Commend :: praise formally or officially; entrust someone or something to;

What does the next generation hear you saying?