Category: family

I haven’t spoken about it a whole lot, but our family has been in somewhat of a stressful season. The details aren’t important (or rather, they are, but it’s just not the time or place to do a deep dive) so my husband and I have made the intentional decision to deem this our Summer Of Fun. Because sometimes the best thing you can do is nothing, except change your perspective about things.

SO, Summer of Fun, here we come!

Sounds amazing, right?

Don’t we sound like such cool, carefree parents? (Don’t answer that. It was rhetorical.)

Well I should tell you that it’s our first official day of Summer break over here, and if I’m being honest we’re already playing it fast and loose with our definition of “fun”. If you count getting woken up by an early-riser (why, God?), putting out a fight over who gets the last bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats, answering 47 questions about the plan for the day in a way that does not dash all hope but also can’t later be misconstrued as “you promised!”, and paying bills all before 9:30 am as “fun”, then YES, we are having so much fun already.

The thing is, we did deem this the Summer of Fun, but we don’t exactly have a mile-long list of riveting activities to keep the children entertained for the next 85 days. (I like to call them “the children” every now and then, because it makes me feel fancy.)

Other than a couple trips to the beach, a camping trip with friends (in a trailer, because air-conditioning and coffee pots), and the annual road trip that Amber and I take with our kids, we don’t have much on the calendar.

And you know what?

THAT is fun.

The lure of freedom and all the possibility it represents is the most thrilling thing in the world to me right now.

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For us, The Summer of Fun is mostly about choosing to consciously find and appreciate the fun in regular-life moments. There will be lots of swimming and Popsicles, outdoor movies and late bedtimes, family game-nights and spontaneous picnics in the park.

I guess what I mean is that we will not be standing on our heads and dancing like monkeys in an effort to keep the kids happy. 

Because everyone knows that ‘keeping the kids happy’ is the biggest booby-trap in the entire world. They would ride that wave until we are fully capsized on the Sea Of Parents-Who-Died-Trying. Read More…

 

GUYS. We are like, THISCLOSE to summer break!
Actually, some of you are already on summer break.

It’s fine.

We Oregonians are not jealous.

Not only are we forced to live life a general 2-3 hours behind the rest of the country, but our school system is also a solid 3-4 weeks behind most others.

It’s okay.

We see you, doing your cannonballs into pools and opening popsicles and sharing photos of your bare feet on Instagram with the hashtag #summerfun.

We are not bitter.

We will dutifully pack those last 11 lunches (and by “pack”, I mean, throw in an assortment of snacks and call it good because whatever, man. We’ve made about eleventy billion turkey sandwiches -one with mustard, one without, mind you) by this point in the school year and I’m just going to be real and tell you that our level of caring over here is at about about a -2.

I was just texting with a friend yesterday who confided that she let her kids sit in the hot tub and counted it as a bath, and I wrote her back to say we did that very thing last week I don’t even feel bad about it.

Have I mentioned that it’s MAY?

May is that one month out of the year that I always forget to remember is going to be totally bananas. (That sentence didn’t feel grammatically correct, but pls refer back to my general level of caring.)

May is like June’s slightly unhinged kid-sister that you never see coming. You want to hang with June, but but you’ve got to get through May first and she is NOT going to go easy on you.

Everything just ramps up to a fever pitch unit Summer finally comes. The school projects, the field trips (we have had FIVE this month), the home projects (more on that in a minute), the piano recitals, the talent show… I could go on, but you get the picture.

All I know is that June comes tomorrow and I AM HERE FOR IT.

I’ll give you the normal end-of-month rundown on what we’ve been watching/reading/loving/hating but first there’s some exciting stuff in the works for this summer that I wanted to tell you about:

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I shared the Mom Wants More podcast episode I was on with my friend and fellow hope*writer, Alana Dawson?

If you haven’t listened yet, click this image👇🏼


and go take a gander if you have time, because our conversation has everything to do with the heartbeat of why I write to you. I’d love for you to listen in.

Anyway, Alana and I had so much fun chatting we decided we don’t wan’t to stop. Not yet.

So I’m actually going to be co-hosting the Mom Wants More Podcast for the summer!

I’ll do my best to keep you guys in the loop whenever new episodes air, but if you’d like to keep it super easy, just head over to iTunes and click subscribe! That way all new episodes will pop up in your queue and you won’t have to wade through any emails to get them.

Alana and I will be chatting about the benefits of pursuing your passions in the middle of motherhood, how to keep doing it even when it’s hard, how to navigate pursuing multiple passions at once, and how to determine if your creative work is something that could or even should make you money (you might be surprised at our perspective!)

As you know well enough by now, I’m a woman of many words. I like to throw them around like confetti at a parade. It really can’t be helped.

I’ll always love connecting with you through words on a page, but having real life conversations opens up a new level of depth and also brings some extra fun to the table. I’ll still be here writing to you, but I’m also really excited about this new avenue of communicating with you guys.

One of the reasons I’ve fallen in love with podcasts is because they’re so convenient! I listen to them while I drive, while I cook, while I fold laundry. It makes me feel ultra productive and I’m not going to lie, I really like that.

As for the scoop on life here on the farm this month, it’s been an interesting mix..

As I mentioned in last month’s letter we’re in the middle of an unexpected season of life. I won’t go into detail right now, but basically we’re dealing with excess stress, a lot of unknowns, and doing our best to live well in this space between questions and answers.

The long and short of it is that it’s been hard and it’s been good.

We trust in God’s plan for us and we believe in our hearts that nothing is truly random. So we’re learning to sit in this tension instead of struggle against it. We’re waking up each day and choosing to dwell in the now and to focus on all the joys, big and small.

We’re enjoying the longer days and spending most morning and evenings on the back porch. We’re snuggling our kids and watching lots of good movies. We’re refusing to let our concerns get in the way of our passions and dreams and plans. We may slow down on a few fronts but we won’t quit. For some reason, that feels important right now.

In fact, I wrote down this quote from Rachel Hollis (I read her book, Girl, Wash Your Face this month and it’s FABULOUS. Highly recommend):

“And on the days that seem the hardest, I hope you remember that by an inch or a mile, forward momentum is the only requirement”

I also wrote down at least a hundred other quotes from the book because she basically had “152 insights into my SOUL” (name that movie) but this one feels extra relevant to our current life season.

On a lighter note, this month we finally put up the hot tub that we ordered at the beginning of the year and that sat in an enormous box in our driveway for over 2 months.

We had to wait til construction was underway for our outdoor entertaining space, but the minute Nate had finished the patio, we slapped that baby up.

It gives me a ridiculous amount of joy, sitting in that tub of hot water. I can’t even tell you why, but it does, so I’m fully embracing it by using it no less than twice a day.

(Come over!)

Life has otherwise been business-as-usual for us. The kids are ready for summer. Bella is about to graduate the 5th grade and it’s giving me a lot of feelings. I’m totally going to be that lady in the back row at the ceremony silently sobbing into her tissue and falling apart while all the other parents smile and clap emphatically.

It’s not that I’m not happy and proud of her- I am. She’s ready for middle school. It’s me who’s not ready. She’s growing up into this cool, confident, quirky person and I love bearing witness to it. It’s just that it’s all happening so quickly, and it makes my heart expand and contract at the same time.

But that is a letter for another day.

Jax is happy-go-lucky, ready to cruise into 3rd grade without a care in the world. Something about his age is magical in that it’s simple and fun.

I’m very much looking forward to slower mornings, longer days, and taking time to slow down and soak them up.

(See how flowery I’m getting here? Check back with me on Day 9 of summer break. I’ll be like, “Why are they like this? FIX IT JESUS.)

It’s fine.

Enough about me.

How are you, dear reader? What’s been hard this month? What’s been filling your cup right now?

Tell me your things.
*this email was sent from my computer and my heart*

 

Read More…

So there’s something I’ve been dying to share with you, and now I finally can!

WAIT.

Time out.

I just now realized that was a very leading headline, what with all the Book Dream talk we’ve had around here this year. So before we go any further, NO, I don’t have a book contract (*Yet*, she whispered hopefully to herself). My agent and I are working on the finishing touches of my proposal and I hope to ship it out to publishers soon.

But in other news, I’ve dying to tell you about this podcast, and now I finally can because it released on iTunes!

I was recently invited to be on the Mom Wants More podcast to chat with my friend, Alana Dawson.

I met Alana a year and a half ago at the very first Hope*Writers Workshop. I’d traveled all the way across the country to invest in my burgeoning dream of calling myself a real writer. I only knew a couple people there, and at the end of a very long, very extrovert-y day, I found myself by the campfire out at The Nester’s famous White Barn feeling more than a little bit…exhausted.

It was the exhilarating kind of exhaustion- you know, like a kid who’s ready to pass out after a long day at Disneyland- THRILLED to be there, but also ready to collapse from all the excitement. I remember standing by the campfire, thisclose to fully malfunctioning, thinking to myself “That’s it. I’m officially peopled out. No more talky.”

But then Alana and I started chatting and it was like something inside me exhaled. Have you ever just immediately known in your knower that you’ve found a kindred spirit? When conversation with them is just easy and it fills you up instead of drains you? Talking to Alana is like that.

We have a lot in common- we’re both Enneagram 4’s,  we’re both hope*writers, we’ve both moved about a million times, but the biggest thing we have in common is that we share a similar message.

We’re both passionate about encouraging women, moms especially, to uncover the art of their RIGHT-NOW lives. To pursue their passions, to participate in the bigger story that God is writing for them, to take risks, step out of their comfort zones, and to do so boldly and with an unflagging joy, knowing that they already have all the ability and permission they need. 

So when she asked me to be a guest on her podcast I didn’t need to think about it for a second.

I was in. Read More…

While our kids played in the next room, my friend and I stood in her kitchen, sipping coffee and talking about our dreams- in hushed tones peppered with nervous laughter, as if the very topic was somehow taboo.

Frivolous.

Indulgent.

Maybe even selfish?

“I feel like I’ve lost pieces of myself since having kids…” She spoke quietly, almost to herself, but her words echoed loudly inside my own heart.

I knew exactly what she meant.

I think in an honest moment, many of us would admit we do.

Motherhood, especially in those early years, can be an engulfing experience. It’s a deeply beautiful, life-giving (literally), and fulfilling role that some of us have always dreamt of, but there can be moments when it feels as if motherhood and the minutia of the day might swallow our identity whole. Like we’re constantly needed yet rarely seen.

We’re busy doing those million and one little things that we worry don’t matter, even while knowing, deep in our hearts they do. We teach, we train, we pray, we worry, we kiss, we rock, we soothe, we comfort, we’re filled up and emptied clear out 100 times in a day. We lose sleep and gain access to chambers of our hearts we never knew existed. We’re driven to the edge of our sanity and then pulled back again in one suddenly tender moment.

We ride that rollercoaster of fear and worry, pride and dismay, wonder and bafflement, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

We love our life.

And yet…

We wonder about those pieces of ourselves that seem to have disappeared. Our audacity, our playfulness, our ability to dream. They don’t call. They don’t send flowers. They just slipped unceremoniously out the back door.

Will they ever come back? Read More…

When you hear the word “hospitality” does it give you a warm, cheery feeling as you envision your house and your heart full to capacity? Do you think of meals and stories shared with friends, of laughter, drinks being poured, and memories being made?

Or does it conjure slightly less pleasant feelings- like sweaty palms, insecurity, and pressure?

Does your mind instantly dart to your unmade bed, your outdated kitchen, or the glops of toothpaste that you just know are smeared around the entire perimeter of the bathroom sink? Do you shrug and hope that one day when all the planets align with the moon, when you have time to clean and decorate your house, prepare the perfect meal, and figure out how to get your children to be their best selves, then you’ll get around to planning that dinner party?

I often hear peers comment that they wish they had the time or the knack for it, but they’re resigned to the fact that they’ll just never be “the hospitable type”.

But what if hospitality could be as simple as an act of vulnerability? What if it just meant being open enough to invite someone into your real, right now life, however that might look?

We get scared off by the word “hospitality”, not because we don’t actually want anything to do with it, but because it’s intimidating. It’s automatically associated with some formal, stuffy, made up version of the “dinner parties” of yesteryear. (Also yes, I’m sticking with the word yesteryear, because how often do you really get a good opening to say it? Almost never, that’s how often.)

We think fancy cocktail hours, followed by even fancier 8 course dinners, and before we know it we’ve got low-grade anxiety.

How many forks is too many forks? Does the soup course come before or after the salad course? And what if we don’t know which wine pairs with which hors d’oeuvre? And how could we possibly know that if we had to google how to even spell “hors d’oeuvre”? (I love you so much, Google. You help me feel smart.)

The train hasn’t even left the station before we’ve jumped the tracks because let’s all be real here, it’s more trouble than it’s worth, right?

I get it.

Inviting people in, both to your home and your life, feels inherently RISKY.

Your home is personal.

It’s your safe place, your retreat, and your hideaway from the rest of the world. It’s also where your dirty laundry lands, where your bills pile up on the counter, and where all your worst habits are likely to manifest themselves. Read More…

Before you read this you should know two things:

  1. I changed the title of this post no less than 6 times.
  2. I’m writing this in my pajamas and it’s well past noon… I also may or may not be eating jerky for breakfast. Brunch. Whatever.

It’s fine. 

Read More…

You now that feeling you get after a DTR that went better than you could’ve hoped for?WELL.

Not too long ago I asked all of you readers what you want to talk about in this space this year. True, I’m the one writing and posting most of the time, but that doesn’t mean this is the Amber Show. I want the words shared here to matter to you just as much as they matter to me.

Anyway, I asked, you answered, and I’ve basically been high-fiving a million angels ever since then because if that was our first DTR (determine the relationship) then I’m pretty sure you and I have never been more on the same page.

I read every single one of your responses and I was so excited because it sounds like we want to talk about all the same things.

SO, on the chance that you’re still not sure what to expect in this space, why you’re here, or if you want to stay, I thought it would be a good idea to discuss where we’re headed in 2018 so you can decide if you want to follow along. (I really hope you do!)

I feel like I say this all the time, but I understand that your time is precious. Any 5 minute window you have to scroll is sacred because it’s where you’re choosing to give your  attention. We have to guard and filter the voices we allow into our lives which is why I want to start with a heartfelt Thank You for allowing me into yours.

It’s also why I want to respectfully avoid any “bait and switch” feelings by clearly explaining what this blog can offer you. Read More…

You did it! You made it through January! Before we say another word, go ahead and give yourself a high-five.

Can we all agree that January is one of the wonkiest months of the year?

Is that just me?

The holidays are over and for some some of us that means we’re still barely processing the feelings and experiences that came with them, the bank account is still smarting, the goals and intentions for the new year have been set but it’s too soon to tell which ones we’re actually being successful at, the weather is cold and gray, and some years it all just leaves me feeling a little weird.

On the bright side, I do love me a fresh start, and January is the basically freshest start of all. It’s Day 1 of 365. Full of promise and possibility.

Whichever way you slice it, one thing is for sure- we made it through.

Go us!

I’m so proud of us.

Before we roll into February I wanted to write you a letter to fill you in on the highs and lows of our month over here.

Not just the highlight reel, the real reel too.

This is the stuff I share with my closest friends over coffee, but since most of you don’t live within a 30 mile radius of me (which is the exact distance I’ve deemed worthy of traveling for food or drink. *see last post regarding chipotle burritos*) I’ll just leave it here for you to read at your leisure.

These letters are a little longer and more personal in nature. I only write them once a month because I value your time and don’t want to waste it, so I choose to keep the blog more focused on encouragement and entertainment the rest of the time. But hey, maybe some of my regular day-to-day experiences will resonate with you, and maybe that will encourage or entertain you too. Who knows?

So let’s lead with the fun stuff, shall we?

For starters, we brought two more little baby goats home to the farm and I am low-key obsessed with them.

They’re Nigerian Dwarfs so they’ll stay small, only growing to be about the size of our dogs.


They were aptly named Todd & Margo by our 8 year old son, after our favorite line in Christmas Vacation…

“And why is the carpet all wet Todd?

I don’t KNOW Margo!” Read More…

~ Guest Post by Amy Steingard ~

Hey you.  I know what you’re thinking today.

Yesterday, you said, “Tomorrow I’m going to start that thing, dream, book, calling, work.”

You know what your thing is.  It’s tap dancing right on your heart, and it’s impossible to ignore.

And then this morning hit in a flurry of cereal with spilled milk, lost homework, dirty diapers, and the middle child home with the stomach flu that you know will run through your entire family. You surrender to your circumstances and say a defeated, “Tomorrow.”

I’m with you, sister.  There’s a dream in my heart, too, that sometimes feels buried under the clutter and weight of motherhood and life.  I feel like I am never going to get there…never going to have the time or the emotional fortitude to make that dream happen. A bad day with my kids can cause me to question EVERYTHING about myself and the work I want to do.

Hi, I’m Amy.  I yelled at my kids today and ate chocolate in the bathroom with a screaming toddler 6 inches on the other side of the door, but my passion in life is to be an encourager of women.

Hypocritical much?

I will blame motherhood and lack of time all the live long day.  I will blame my kids, my husband, my house, my lack of resources. I make excuses why I can’t do the thing right now, and while all those are valid and persuasive reasons to not pursue my dream, deep down it’s all an underhanded cop-out.

Those things that we claim hold us back, that’s just life, and, frankly, life has wisdom of it’s own. Life and, most specifically, our imperfections are what makes us endlessly fascinating.  Kathryn Craft explains this better than I ever can, “[Life] dumps s— on you and stirs you up until your soil is fertile.  Accept the challenge and plant some seeds. This is how artists grow.” Read More…

 

~ Guest Post by Karen Gavreau ~

Thanksgiving is a reflective time filled with gratitude for blessings.

We bullet point the many good things we are grateful for.

Thankful for health. Thankful for children. Thankful for shelter. And on and on. That’s what we’re supposed to do, right?

But in the middle of the night, when my insomnia and inspiration collide, I start thinking about the tough things I am also thankful for as a Mom – the less obvious ones. The things they would never put in a Hallmark card.

Midnight quiet can bring clarity. Read More…