7 Summer Facts About Sweet Love, Sassafras, & Pearl

The following image contains information about outrageous parenting, total lack of self control, and seven ways the Wilson girls are generally rocking this summer.

the chaos

1. We don't place a lot of emphasis on "matching," as demonstrated by Sweet Love's jammies. 

2. Nor do we get bothered about "getting dressed" at all right now because SUMMER.

3. I scored Sassafras this Elsa dress from Varage Sale because it was her size, a great deal, and will be perfect for Halloween and other fall-related activities. I was adamant, absolutely unwavering, on the fact that this was not a dress up dress for now or it will never last until fall. It was to stay on the hanger, no matter what, until further notice. That lasted approximately 35 seconds. I am a weak mama, a sucker for watching my girls as they dress up and pretend and write stories in the air. 

4. Chip bag clips and baby blankets are totally the hottest accessories for 2015.

5. Before you think we left her out, know that Pearl Girl was very much a part of this whole scene. She was playing the essential role of Lead Provoker and Idea Giver. It's just that she wasn't wearing enough to be cropped in. See #2.

6. Sweet Love is THE BEST at the messy bun. She is so stinking cute.

7. And she better be glad, because she got herself in much trouble on this day. Cutting up some extremely important adoption documents, coloring on the wall, shooting darts at her sisters' heads (whether they were looking or not)...and that was all in just an hour's time.

Apps your family (and their brains) will love

Here are a few apps this Apple Family has recently enjoyed, though they aren't iOS specific. Your people and their brains will probably enjoy them as well! Summer boredom busters for all your techno-finery!

1. 3D Heart & Circulatory Premium

This app is an interactive 3-D model of the human heart, allowing the user to explore all of the basic parts of the heart as well as see how its intricacies function. Excellent for satisfying the curious and science-minded among us! Its price has wavered, but I scored it for free using the App Shopper app. Basically you go in and set a watch on certain apps and the AppShopper will let you know when there has been a price drop. Plus, AppShopper also provides reviews of each item outside of iTunes, which is a plus when doing your research. Classroom applications for this are endless!

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2. StarWalk has been on my AppShopper wish list for a WHILE. At times it was been up to $9.99. I scored this one for free, and Sassafras especially has loved it! All she has done so far is explore the planets, but it's intended so that you can go outside, take a picture of the night sky, and the app will orient you to the name of that particular area/constellation. Coolness to the extreme if you're a NASA junkie like me. There is a kids' version but I haven't found anything in this version that my big girl can't work out. *The only glitch on this one is that they link out "for more info" to (ugh) Wikipedia. I...am not a fan.  

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3. The Toca apps are alwas big faves of all three of our girls. We already had a few (I paid .99 for one and got the rest for free using AppShopper) but Toca Doctor is relatively new. I like them as a mom and educator because even though my kids are just playing fun games, what they're actually doing is practicing life/trade/technical skills like veterinary science, human health care, cooking and baking, grooming, and shopping all on an independent level. Sassafras and Pearl tell me they like them because they're easy, fun games that are different every time you play with them.

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Artkive Giveaway

All kiddos are rather attached to their artwork. Even if it's a simple color sheet or scribbles on a sad little bit of paper, children are always proud of their work. I mean, choosing the right shade of blue or cut pattern might be the hardest thing some kids do all day. Our Pearl Girl is by far the most attached to her art/paper scrappage. The Captain and I have to whisper and sneak and use silent signals and hide the things we can't keep at the bottom of the garbage can, and then take the garbage out when she's not looking because she has been known to inspect that trash can. 

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I think it has something to do with missing such a chunk of her early life, and trying to make up for that by holding on tightly to every single piece of paper on which she places her Crayola. And though I try to be sensitive to that as her mama, you guys, we just can't keep it all. We just can't. Especially now with our house on the market again, the Beast of Clutter is a monster we battle every single moment of every single day.

Artkive is a tool I use to keep that Beast of Clutter at bay AND protect my Pearl Girl's tender little heart. It's a free app that helps parents save, manage, and organize pictures of children's artwork and the interface is really pure genius. There are three main features that I think make Artkive distinctive among all other organizational apps out there.

1. Artkive easily organizes and sorts your images of your children's artwork, by each individual child AND by their age/grade levels. I can easily locate Sassafras's K-4 artwork even though that was 4 years ago. I do save my girls' artwork, but in the last year I also started saving copies of notes to teachers, things we signed, class pictures, other paperwork from school, etc. Because of Artkive's brilliant organizational system, you can use it for all sorts of things.

2. Artkive includes descriptor fields, that help you remember what the subject or occasion was for that piece of paper, and you can use their handy dandy selector wheel to enter a specific date or just the general year. All of THAT information is very important if/when you go to print a book of your kids' art.

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3. Artkive has a print option that enables fast design and ordering of simple books that lets your precious one "keep" their artwork, but also saves you from dying a slow death by drowing in scraps of paper. You have lots of options on this... printing a book for a calendar year, school, year, by individual child or all together, etc. The Artkive peeps have thought of it all!

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They also think pretty highly of you guys, because they're offering one of my lucky little readers a...hold on to your hat...a $50 credit toward Artkive printing!

This giveaway will end Monday night, July 13th, at midnight CT. I'll notify and announce the winner Tuesday morning. See the Rafflecopter widget below for all the ways you can enter!

Artkive is absolutely one of the single best family management apps out there.

Download it today (it's FREE)! Just think...no more ninja-rolling to the trash can or crushing your kid's spirit when they discover you had to dispose of that sad little pile of sloppy glittered pinecones.

And all the mamas and papas said "Amen." 

Racial Reconciliation

Before I became Pearl's mama, I liked to think that I was colorblind. I liked to think that was a good way to be. My high school was about 155 miles from Podunk, and I remember once that in my junior or senior year (16 years ago) there was a huge KKK rally planned for the outskirts of town. Many of the black, white, and Native American students in my community raged against it. We made red, white, and black braided bracelets. We wrote letters to the editor of the local newspaper. We were activists, doggone it, and we wanted everybody to know that we were all the same, united, and the haters could just canoe on downstream.

pearl and sass cooking

I liked to think that "we are all black in the dark," and that the color of one's skin doesn't have any impact whatsoever on who they are as a person.

What I was thinking was, race doesn't matter.

And that was fine and lovely and made me feel all progressive and such. Because, after all, there are a lot of people who do think race matters in a bad way. They think white people are better than black people or they think black people are better than white people. And that's so terrible in every way, right? So if the choices are that race matters in a bad way or race doesn't matter, then we are supposed to choose race doesn't matter as moral human beings.

That was where my heart and mind had settled on the race issue.

But then I became Pearl's mama. And gradually that point of view, the dismissal of race, felt hollow and empty. Because my baby girl, my daughter, is a black person. She is a person, but God chose to put her soul into a female body with beautiful brown skin and I could no more dismiss the fact that she is brown than I could dismiss the fact that she is a she. I not only want to acknowledge the fact that Pearl Girl is black, I value it. Being Pearl's mama taught me that there is a third choice when it comes to race relations. Race matters in a bad way or race doesn't matter are not our only options. The third, better, option is that race matters in a good way.

Last year I saw this TED Talk about the importance of not being color blind but rather color BRAVE in modern society, and Mellody Hobson nails it.

In teaching me to value rather than dismiss my daughter's race, God has drawn me to the point of yearning for racial reconciliation. There is so much work to be done in America as a whole, but especially the South. The past year has been especially volatile in all the events around the nation involving discrimination and brutality against people of color.

Mostly, the sickness that plagues my race is deafness to what black people have been saying for generations about how they feel and how they are treated and how that impacts every detail of their lives. As white people, we must be willing to listen to our fellow Americans of color and truly attempt to process what they say and feel. It sounds silly to even say out loud, but white people are not the experts on how black people feel they are treated; black people are.

In discussing some of this with friends, African Americans have told me that they are tired of saying these things because it doesn't do any good. They tell me they are afraid to speak out on social media or in their social circles because of the backlash (they'll be labeled as a troublemaker, or angry, and potentially lose their standing or even their employment if they speak up). That makes me so sad, and it reminds me of how John Howard Griffin was a respected member of the civil rights movement because he was a white person. Even though he said the exact same things the black men and women said, the white people would only listen to him because he was also a white person. Doesn't that sound insane? It feels REALLY insane to see that, all these years later, we still struggle with the same problem of listening between races, specifically white people listening to black people when they talk about their hurts and how they feel about the way they are treated today.

I've spent time being part of the problem, but I want so desperately to be part of the solution.

Race does matter, but it matters in a good way. Other than prayer, racial reconciliation begins with listening.

God, help us not only to see one another but also to hear and value one another. Help us to do better. Help us to be better.

Breaking into Spring

If there's one thing every single member of Team Wilson loves, it's travel. We all love to go, fly, do, see, drive, and experience. Typically anytime we have a break in life, we fill it up with a trip to somewhere. This Spring Break, however, we enjoyed a fabulous staycation in the 'Ham. 

Sassafras and Pearl worked on our Spring Break Bucket List for a few days, and by Monday we had written out several things everybody wanted to do. Each item went into the bucket, and the girls took turns drawing out what we were going to do each day. 

Monday we dyed Easter eggs and went to Sonic for lunch. Tuesday we had a picnic at the zoo, visited the library, and got pedicures. Wednesday included chicken wings for lunch (have I ever mentioned that Sass can PUT AWAY some wings???) and a trip to the mall, where they got little outfits for Teddy and Floppy at Buildabear, and some accessories for their Easter dresses at Claire's. Thursday we went to the McWane Center and saw the space IMAX movie as well as spending lots of time in the logic puzzles exhibit. 

Thursday was our biggest day, because that night we also visited a "Portraits of Grace" experience at a local church. It was a really unique setup, where you walked through several different scenes from the life of Christ. Instead of people or actors in each room, there were simple Scriptures and multisensory prompts to meditating more deeply on the details of the life and sacrifice of Jesus. Think real fish by the seashore, a real garden, real incense, a very real scourging post. It was really well done, and like nothing we had seen before.  

After a quick dinner at Firehouse, we finished out Thursday by going to see Cinderella. "Have courage, be kind, and forgive." Great message for kiddos! We LOVED it, although would definitely agree with the observation many others have made that the bosoms are entirely out of control. 

The fairy godmother's transformational scene was the best...that golden pumpkin coach, just gorgeous. It was pretty neat to see the actual coach in real life a few months ago, but more on that another day.

Happy Spring, friends! 

 *Not us. Or anybody we know. But we are sure they're awesome. 

*Not us. Or anybody we know. But we are sure they're awesome.