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

What I Did on My Summer Vacation


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.


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.


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.

red zinnia

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.


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!


creative habit · Jewelry · one little word · Thrifts

One Little Word 2015: An Update

red necklace silver chain

I’m reading a book that I’m having a hard time putting down.

Actually I’m reading two books I can’t put down because, a few months ago, I developed a habit of reading a non-fiction book during the day and a fiction book at bedtime. I didn’t create this system – I’ve heard about it lots of places – but I have found it to be a great practice. I use my more awake and alert hours to read books for knowledge, and I use the quieter evening hours for books that help me wind down, relax, escape.

99U Make Your Mark

While my fiction book is by my bed, my non-fiction book is always in my bag. I read it at the gym, I read it during naptime, I read it during spare minutes I find during the day.

I took it to the park over the weekend to read while my kids played. (Moms of young kids, take heart. Your day is coming. I remember taking my kids to the park just a few years ago and seeing a mom sitting on a bench reading US Weekly, and even though I’m more of a House Beautiful girl myself, I was overwhelmed with envy. But here I am, a blink of an eye later, being that mom. There is hope!)

As I was taking turns reading and watching BB and BG play, another parent, noticing my book, struck up a conversation, asking if I was thinking of starting a business. My response? “Uh, yeah, maybe.”


The truth is, I HAVE a business. It’s tiny, it’s not profitable by any stretch of the imagination, and I’ve been treating it very much like a hobby. But making jewelry is a business I have, and it’s one I hope to grow.

I find tremendous joy in making jewelry. I love making new things from old things. I love imagining what these items were before and what they could be with a little attention and creativity.

And at the center of that is my true passion – finding beauty in the possibilities.

I believe that all of us – ALL OF US – have beauty. We all have been created with possibilities – we have skills and talents and passions that have been given to us to share with the world because they are good and they are helpful and they serve a purpose. They serve other people. They somehow weave together to help us love other people, and to love them well.

And while I’m flipping and flopping along on this journey of discovering what exactly I’m made to do and who exactly I am supposed to be, when I dig deep inside, I see that there is a theme.

That I am a glass half-full kind of gal who sees possibility in things that others look beyond. That there is beauty to be found in unexpected places. That there is potential in a discarded necklace, a donated dress, a free chair on the side of the road.

And there is beauty and possibility in us, too. Something greater than the sum of our parts. A spark, a light, a special something that only we – YOU – have that is meant to be shared with the world.

I believe we are all called to do extraordinary things, even in our ordinary lives.

Lately, I’ve been filling my life with lots of ordinary things – some of them necessary, lots of them good, and some, to be honest, a complete waste of time.

So, as I’ve been reading my book this week, a couple of words keep appearing – simplify and refine.

Funny how these things come back to you.

I see that there are many good things to choose from in my life.

I’m trying to dig through all the things I “love” to find what is real and true and abiding.

I am still refining. And I think I will continue to refine for the duration of my days.

And for today, refining looks like doing what I really love to do, so I’m making a necklace.

thrifted necklace

I’m collecting loose pieces from old, broken, discarded things and using them to create new, beautiful objects.

red wooden bead necklace

five things · one little word · Thrifts

Five Things

Hello! Happy Friday!

How’s your week been? It’s been a pretty good week here – a mix of time spent with friends and lazy mornings, puttering around the house. (Don’t you love that word, putter? Just hearing it makes me smile, and I am quite a putterer myself.) BB got a circuit set for his birthday, and he’s spent hours working on it. BG got a “Big Girl Bed”, and she’s spent hours lounging on it. It’s always funny to see what catches their interest week to week.

I guess I’m the same as well. Some weeks, I’m focused on finding new recipes and planning meals. Other weeks, it might be sewing or organizing or reading or obsessing about getting the back porch ready for summer. There are so many things that catch my attention – so many things I want to do – that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do it all. But I guess that’s what makes each day fun – what can I try or learn or do today?

Here are some things that have been on my mind this week:

art dresser

1. “We edit everyday.” Ever since I read this book, I’ve been looking at our home and “stuff” differently. I’m not saying I’ve followed the author’s guidelines and principles perfectly, but it has definitely changed my perspective. I read this post on Cup of Jo about the same time I was finishing the book, and the homeowner’s quote about editing really struck me. Here’s one of Webster’s definitions:

edit (verb) – to alter, adapt, or refine especially to bring about conformity to a standard or to suit a particular purpose

Refine. There’s that word again. It makes giving away so much easier when I think about leaving the things that suit my purpose. This is really inspiring me right now.


2. This book. Someone recommended it to me several weeks ago, and I immediately requested it from the library. I found myself bookmarking so many passages that I ordered a copy for myself. In the weeks since I started the book, there have been conversations I’ve had and posts I’ve come across that support this idea, that the way we think about things – ourselves, our jobs, our relationships – can determine our success in these areas, and that by changing our mindset, we can change the outcome. I can’t stop thinking about it.

3. Summer. I know, it just turned to spring (and in Northern California, it’s been feeling like winter again), but everyone’s talking about summer plans – road trips, day camps, local getaways. I was at a play date with a friend this week, and I asked her about summer plans, and aside from their yearly family trip, she said, “We’re just going to play. Isn’t that was summer was all about when we were little?” Isn’t that so refreshing? Reminded me of this post that I’ve thought about at least once a day since I first read it.

4. Upholstery. Because I thrifted a sofa. You know I’m going to tell you the long version.

About a month ago, I was at the thrift store, and I saw a girl pick up a pair of cowboy boots and try them on. I was a bit jealous. I have always wanted to thrift a pair (because I know I won’t wear them enough to warrant buying new ones). Also, I was recently invited to a Southern-themed birthday party, so I REALLY wanted to find a pair. The girl wore them around the store for a while, and I was sure she was going to buy them. Fast forward two weeks to spring break, and the kids and I are at the thrift store. And there, on the shelf, are the boots. And they FIT! It’s my lucky day. I drop them in my basket and move on to the furniture section, where I find this:

thrifted sofa

(This is my house, not the thrift store. I know it’s hard to tell because of the T-ball mitt, hot pink water bottle, cat tree, and 1960s linoleum.)

Now, I’ve been searching Craigslist for weeks for a settee for the foot of our bed (something like this or this or this). I’m not going to lie, my heart started racing as soon as I saw it. Price? $65! Totally my lucky day! I told the kids to stretch out on it while I grabbed the price tag and the closest worker to claim it as my own. I was so afraid someone else was going to nab it! I put it on hold and called Adopted California Dad to come help me pick it up with his truck. I texted a photo to Husband, who was out of town, mostly to get him used to the idea before he got home. (Also because I had Adopted California Dad deliver it to the living room while I decided if I was going to take it to be reupholstered immediately or live with it in pink for a bit. I decided on the latter but couldn’t actually maneuver it down the hall and had to leave it in the middle of the den, so I didn’t want Husband to trip over it in the dark when he flew in late that night. I’m a good wife like that.)

I’ve got big plans for this sofa, including new upholstery and paint. Husband seems to think I should be able to do it myself. EEK! I’d love to try – and I’m always up for learning a new skill. Tell me, do you have any experience in upholstering furniture? Is it crazy to think I could find a video on YouTube and make it happen myself?


5. This quote.

What are you up to this weekend? We’ve got the party with the cowboy boots, T-ball, and a bunch of other little things scattered on the calendar, but I’m hoping for a little bit of puttering-around time, too. Have a good one!