31 Days · Being Mama · Color · Fall · five things · good life · Halloween

Five Things

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Hello! Happy Friday! It’s been a little quiet around these parts, but only on the blog. Life has been busy and crazy and FULL and wonderful for the last few weeks.

If you’ve followed along for a while, you know that I usually do 31 Days this time of year. I decided in September that with my schedule, there was no way I could make it happen. This was just not my year, but maybe next year will be. So what have I been doing? Here are a few things that have been on my mind this month:

1. Rummage Sale. The first weekend of October was our preschool’s HUGE Rummage Sale.

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In the week leading up to the sale, we transformed the MPR into collection central, with thousands of items being donated by the school, church, and local community. Over 75 volunteers worked long hours in preparation for this fundraiser, and it was a HUGE success! As in years past (see here and here), it was a CRAZY week of hard work, hilarious moments, exhaustion, and so much fun! I love the Rummage Sale, and I love being able to help raise money for scholarships and for aides for students with special needs. Another great one in the books!

Sunapee, HN

2. New Hampshire.

I just got back from a trip to New Hampshire. Adopted California Mom has invited us for years to join her in the fall when she goes to visit, and this year, Husband said, “Yes, you should do it!” And so I did.

It was my first visit to New England, and I am smitten.

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Now, I happened to be traveling during the fall foliage peak, which was definitely a highlight. I mean, I’m from Tennessee – I’ve done REAL autumn before – but this was unbelievable.

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I’ve never seen colors like this before.

New Hampshire in Autumn

We would be driving along, chatting away, and I would stop mid-sentence, forgetting my words to see another blaze of color before me.

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Aside from the natural beauty, I feel in love with the people (so friendly!) and the houses (such character!) and the pace of our days (calmer, simpler). As BB and BG said every night on the phone, “I can’t WAIT to visit New Hampshire!”

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3. Contrast. This word kept coming to me as we walked and drove among the beautiful color-changing leaves of New England.

This may sound silly, but I’m not a big evergreen fan. I am all about deciduous trees, but I don’t love the conifers. (It might have something to do with the painfully sharp needles that drop into our yard from a particularly unattractive one. Petty, I know. I’m not proud of this.) I realized, however, that the beauty of the changing colors was in part amplified by the contrast of these trees against their evergreen counterparts. A forest full of yellow trees would probably not take my breath away the same way one brilliant one does in a see of dark green needles. It’s the contrast that brings out the beauty. It provides a different perspective.

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The same is true about my time away. I love my kids fiercely and madly, but there was something wonderful about being away from the morning rush and the dishes and the laundry and the bickering. There was space to reflect and dream and plan. And I began to miss them – miss them dearly. Their phone conversations made me laugh harder and smile more easily. And when I returned, there was a level of patience that I haven’t known in several months. I was renewed and refreshed in a way that could only come from stepping back, from having time that wasn’t focused solely on them. Now I know it won’t be like this forever – my patience will grow thin and my nerves will feel a bit frazzled again – but I hope next time I will remember the difference the contrast made, and I will make time to give myself some margin so that I can once again return to them with a new perspective.

New Hampshire

 

4. That which is temporary. In addition to contrast, the changing leaves also stood as a reminder of things that are temporary, and that even those things have been filled with beauty, though fleeting. It reminded me of this mesmerizing video I saw a few weeks ago, and how there are things in our lives – even our lives themselves – that are not meant to last forever, but that have meaning and purpose anyway. It has helped me to remember to focus on the small moments, because they, too, are filled with significance and beauty.

5. Costumes. I haven’t done any sort of project in weeks, but I’ll start working on Halloween next week. This might be our last year with a theme (I said that last year and the year before), but for now, we’re all going to be superheros. We will each have a different superpower, and the kids and I worked together to design the symbols for our costumes. I’m pretty excited about it (you know I love Halloween) and am looking forward to showing you what we came up with. (Check out a couple of other past costumes here and here.)

As I was scouring the web for ideas on masks, I came across these. Aren’t they amazing? They are downloadable – you put them together yourself. I want to hang this one on the wall.

Move over, puzzles – I think I just picked up a new winter hobby.

What are you up to this weekend? We have family photos scheduled, a soccer game, and a fundraiser to attend. It’s western-themed. Which means I get to dress up. You know I’m excited about that. Also hoping to squeeze in a nap and some reading. Hope you have a fun weekend!

 

Being Mama · Fall · five things · Kids

Five Things

Hello! Happy Friday!

Thanks for all the sweet notes about my skirt project this week – was a nice welcome back to blogging after taking a bit of a break. I appreciate your being here more than you know.

It’s been a kooky week around here. Husband was gone for work for the second week in a row, BG was sick at the beginning of the week, and we are still adjusting to our new schedule. I wake up at the crack of dawn, but for some reason, we CANNOT get out the door on time in the mornings. Hoping next week is a little easier.

But for now, we’re making plans for our glorious 3-day weekend and soaking up these last little bits of summer. Speaking of summer,while I didn’t do very many Five Things posts these last few months, I kept a running list of good stuff on my laptop, so here are a few things I found noteworthy this summer:

photo (52)1. I finished this book this week, and I loved it. Great information and ideas, and it also referenced a bunch of other books I’ve enjoyed this year (like this and this and this and this and this). I feel it is a little more geared toward parents of high schoolers, but there’s plenty of inspiration and ideas for parents of younger kids, too. It didn’t reference this book (which is the parenting book I use most – I took a class on it that was so helpful), but I felt like it could have – lots of similar ideas on how to help our kids be independent and solve their own problems.

2. This was interesting. Are you a wine person? What do you think about this?

The Key Jar3. The Key Jar. I found this last spring from Momastery, but I didn’t print it out and start using it until summer. I’m finding that it’s even better now that school has started and BB is making new friends in a new class. We get much deeper conversations than the “How was your day?” question draws. Both kids beg for more and more questions every day – it’s like a game for them.

4. This makes me SO ready for fall.

5. This cracked me up. I still feel like a newbie on Instagram, but I love it – avocado toast, rosé, fancy designs in lattes, and all.

So, apparently, I have parenting and wine on the brain. Must be back-to-school time! How about you? If you’re in the States, do you have big plans for Labor Day? Husband and BB started a go-kart last weekend, so more of that will be happening, we’ve got plans to BBQ with friends, and then we’re going to escape for a little daytrip (destination TBD). Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

 

Being Mama · Fail · good life · Kids · one little word

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

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So, the first part of summer kind of kicked my tail.

I had big plans – truly – to finish a bunch of projects and to write often because of ALL THE TIME that would magically appear without school or sports or other extra curriculars. BIG. PLANS.

I was also the mom at the beginning of summer rejoicing at the thought of long, unstructured days, singing the praises of getting bored and open-ended play. Who needs summer camps, I said. We have a backyard, I said.

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About the middle of July, dark clouds started forming. I felt that we (I) had accomplished nothing, we were all starting to get on each other’s nerves (even in the backyard), and the prospects of my mom’s visit, week-long church camp, and our family trip to Southern California were still too far in the distance. I started planning camps for Summer 2016. I started organizing play dates with reckless abandon. I gritted my teeth and survived.

And then, after family visits, camp, and vacation, we got back into town, cleaned our clothes and our rooms, swept away the pine needles and the sand, and had a summer restart. And it’s been pretty great.

I started embracing the slow moments and the unscheduled time and, instead of trying to fill them with errands or projects or crossing things off the to-do list (or feeling guilty about not doing them), I just let them be.

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And so, on the last Tuesday before heading back to school, I found myself reading a book on the daybed while the kids played in the backyard. I found myself drawing in my journal while BB and BG drew in theirs. I found myself browsing books at the library, following their whims (books on costume-making and papercrafts and dragons and masks and doll houses).

I found myself writing.

Honestly, these are all the things I aspired for our summer to be. And they are mostly the same things we were doing at the beginning of the summer, but with more joy and peace in these last few weeks. What was different?

We changed our perspective.

Or maybe it was just me. I changed my perspective.

I saw what was most important in my day. I let go of my agenda for what we should be doing and embraced theirs. And, amazingly, I accomplished what I needed and wanted as well – the dishes and the errands, and also the reading and the writing and the creating.

Ideally, all these “One Little Word” lessons would stick with me – purposeful, slow, refine – but in reality, I have to keep learning them over and over and over again.

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But I think that’s what LIFE is about – about seeking a restart daily, about adjusting our perspective to a bigger one, about new mercies every morning and every moment.

And while I’m sure we’ll be doing a couple of organized camps next summer (I’m not crazy), I hope that the unstructured time we do have will be more like these last few weeks of summer instead of the first.

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Sorry for the long, unintended blogging break (see above)! How has your summer been? What are you learning in this season of life right now (big or small, simple or profound, serious or funny)? I’d love to hear. And thanks for reading!

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