Category: Summer Of Fun

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…

“I’m sorry I’m ruining our sunset cruise” I said as I leaned my greenish face against the ropes of the banister.

“It’s okay, honey” he said, patting my back until he remembered that the last thing I want is to be touched when I’m feeling like I’m about to die of nausea.

It was our 15th anniversary so we decided to splurge on a romantic sunset dinner cruise.
I’d managed to sit up and applaud for the couple who’d just gotten engaged on the bow of the boat (or maybe it was the stern?) but then I crawled right back into the coffin sized bathroom below deck to wretch and sway while everyone else slow danced on the deck as the sun went down.

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He waited outside the door, gently asking if I needed anything at 5 minute intervals.
It was maybe the most romantic thing he’d ever done.

One of the newlywed couples with us on the boat mentioned that we struck them as “a couple who seemed to get along really well”.

img_6256We looked at each other and smiled because it’s true, we do, but it feels hard-earned in a way worthy of acknowledging.

Last year I wrote about how sometimes love is like a battlefield, but that’s okay as long as you’re fighting your way TOWARDS each other.

This year our love feels more like a garden, with beauty springing up out of tender places.
And so it goes.

This is real life.

Some years you get sick and ruin your romantic celebration.

Some years you struggle and you wound, but you refuse to quit fighting for the best version of “us”.

Some years you laugh more and kiss more and you make new inside jokes.

Some years you celebrate your anniversary with little fanfare- at home, over takeout on the back porch. But some years feel special so you run away together to celebrate all the good, the hard, the new, and the old.

Because marriage is all of it together. Forever. Amen.

Hey, hi!

How are you, even?

I’ve been thinking about you guys a lot lately- all you moms (and dads!), creatives, and dreamers. I’ve been wondering how it’s going for you. Summer, I mean.

It’s a tricky time, amiright? We want to slow down with our kids, we want to speed up with our work, we want to remember to be present along the way. It can get a little dicey when all the kids-at-home and the work-at-home priorities “cross mojonize” for an entire season. (Bonus points if you can name that☝🏼 movie reference).

Dude, I get it.

I get it “big time.” (Double bonus points if you can name that movie reference. HINT:  Terrible Jamaican accent.)

Anyway, last time I wrote you, we talked a lot about this middle place between motherhood and creative work. I confessed that I worry a lot about whether I’m getting it right. We also talked about rest as an act of resistance.

Ever since I came across those words of Sarah Bessey’s:

– Rest… “as an act of resistance” –

I haven’t been able to shake them. So I’ve embraced them.

I’ve been resting.

I’ve been having a relatively unplugged, undocumented summer… and can I tell you something? It’s been revolutionary. I’ve been off my computer and away from my phone more than I have in a long time. I’ve been living moments with my people and capturing them in memory only. And you know what? The world keeps spinning. In a way, it even feels a little brighter and more spacious.

And besides, does the internet really need to know that I went paddle boarding or rode a horse for the first time? Do they really need to hear about that or see pictures? (Answer: No, because it’s decidedly not pretty.)

Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those conversations about how terrible social media is and how we should all post less in revolt… Because first of all- YAWN. And second of all, I honestly love social media and I think it’s a fun, useful tool.

No, this is one of those conversations where we make room for the possibility that it’s allowed, it’s okay, and it’s even good, to let ourselves off the hook every now and then. To rest and be a real person for a while. It’s okay to get off the carousel ride and go get some cotton candy and lie in the grass looking at the cloud formations with our kids. The ride will still be there. It’ll still be going round and round and you can hop right back on when you’ve gotten your bearings again.

Rest needs a full stop and it’s okay to take it.

I don’t know… Maybe this is bad advice?

I can’t be sure. I mean, deadlines and contracts and appointments are all real things that can’t be ignored just because we want off the ride at the moment. I guess we have to account for that.

All I know is that rest has been absolutely life giving for me at this juncture. For me, this juncture looks like the pause between two notes. It’s a quick refuel halfway through the marathon of my creative project. (Okay fine, if a marathon is 26.22 miles then I’m probably only like 2.8 miles in, which I’m pretty sure is technically less than half. Whatever.  I don’t know. I’m bad at math.) The point is, I just googled how many miles a marathon is, so obviously things are getting serious between us because I fact checked, and I told you the real truth of how far along I am.

No wait- the point is, I’ve been resting hard over here and loving it, but also thinking about you often. I wonder what your summer has been like. Has it been full of rest? Has it been full of work? Has it been full of both? If so, I’d love to hear how you’re balancing it. What’s working for you? What’s not?

If it has been full of rest, then please share! What are you reading? Watching? Listening to? Learning? Feeling? Leave a comment, tell me your things!

Tag, you’re it. 😎

*this post was sent from my computer and my heart*

P.S. Because I hate to leave you hanging, the movie references were:

Austin Powers

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&

I Love You Man

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But you knew that already, right?

In a couple of days I’ll be hitting the road with my best friend (the other Amber) and all of our kids for the long-awaited Road-trip of 2017.

It’s a tradition we started 5 summers ago, after reading stories from one of our favorite authors (winky face to you, Melanie Shankle) about the adventures and memories that came from doing the same thing with her best friend and their kids every year.

We loved the idea so much that we started our own version of the tradition: No husbands. No plane rides over oceans. No babysitters. No fancy Pinterest-worthy handcrafted car-entertainment. Just 2 Ambers, 5 kids, and the open road. Actually, this year we’ll have 6 kids because one of them has reached teenager status and officially needs a friend to survive a long car ride with “the littles”.

Every year the Road Trip is the best of times:imageimage

And the worst of times:

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But it never fails to be the highlight of our kids’ summer and the thing we all talk about for the rest of the break.

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One year the car broke down.

One year we promised to take the kids to the famous Sea Glass Beach, got lost on an 11 hour tour of the coastline, finally discovered that the beach was too dangerous because of high tides, and settled on getting ice cream as our “fun” for the day.

One year Amber was kept awake all night long for two nights in a row, driven crazy by the faintest sound of a Mariachi band that she assumed was outside her window (because that’s normal…?) but it turned out that the radio next to her bed was set to the Spanish station on the lowest volume.

One year my 6-year-old son lost his ever-loving mind in an Oscar-worthy meltdown at Disneyland because he was terrified of Johnny Depp- a fact we were all unaware of until we were boarding the ride for Pirates of the Caribbean and he literally tried to jump off the boat in a mix of terror and fury.

This year we’ve got Yosemite on the docket, then we’ll head to a random water park in a little town called Gilroy, which is apparently famous for it’s garlic production… So basically Gilroy Gardens will either be really cool or really lame, and I guess we’ll just have to find out when we get there. (Sidenote: “Gilroy Gardens” is actually harder to say than you’d think, so now we just choose from “Gilmore Girls”, “Bilbo Baggins”, “Gilroy Bilbo”, “Guru Gardens” or any other wildly incorrect but fun to say pairing of words.

After GooGoo Gardens we’ll head to Santa Cruz and Capitola for the last couple of days of our trip where we’re guaranteed some beach fun and delicious pastries from our favorite little cafe there, aptly named The Buttery. We’ve made it a point to stop there almost every single year, BECAUSE BUTTER.

When all else fails, we always have The Buttery.

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I guess you could say we’ve learned a few things about road-tripping the hard way over the years, so we thought we’d share a few insider tips, in case you’re hitting the road with your littles this summer too.

  1. Whatever number of water bottles you think you’ll need for a long car ride- double it.  This will also double the number of potty stops, but by God, we can’t let them go thirsty.
  2. Crossing the street with children is the equivalent of crossing the street with 5 drunks. Proceed with caution.
  3. Never underestimate the power of candy. Also never underestimate the power of promising a “surprise” even when you have no idea what that “surprise” is yet.
  4. If you’re wearing flip-flops in the vicinity of little kids, your toes will be stepped on multiple times a day. You will be expected not to mind this.
  5. Anytime after hour 7 in the car, there will be psychotic bursts of hysteria: laughing and gleefully shrieking one minute, crying and wailing the next. The kids may do this also.

Good luck, go with God, and, wish us luck on our next adventure!

I’ll let you know how it goes….


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Once a month here on the blog, we play a fun game called “Let’s Play Oprah” where we share our current top 3 “Favorite Things” with each other and then at the end of the month I give away one of those items to a lucky subscriber.

Because giveaways are fun! And we just so happen to be fun-havers!

Every once in a while I’ll pick a theme for my Favorite Things but this month I didn’t even choose one on purpose- I just looked at my list and realized they all had one thing in common: Coconut.

I prefer clean, light, earthy scents over heavier floral scents any day, and Coconut happens to be one of my favorite scents of all, so I guess it’s no surprise that it appears in so many of my beauty and household products. The smell reminds me of summer vacation and all things beachy, and who doesn’t want to be reminded of that?

Okay, are you ready?

? Lets Play Oprah! ?

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  1. The Copper Coconut 3 wick candle by White Barn. 

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I have a *bit* of an obsession with candles. I have no problem telling people about my book-buying obsession because it makes me sound quirky and brainy, but I’ll never publicly cop to the number of candles I own. It’s a lot. Enough to be ashamed about. My candle cabinet is in the last place in my house that anyone would look because no one needs to be knowing about my dirty little candle hoarding secret. Read More…

By the time you read this, some of you have already enjoyed weeks of your littles being back in school.

It’s okay. It’s fine. I am not jealous of you.

It’s something I’ve learned to deal with, living in our time zone over here in the Pacific Northwest. The views are stunning, the air is crisp and clear, the rivers are wild and mysterious. But living life on some kind of delayed loop from the rest of the world really bites sometimes.

It seems that %80 of humans get to experience most of life a solid 2-3 hours ahead of us Oregonians. When it comes time for anything really important, like election coverage, the Bachelor finale, or one of the precious few new Game of Thrones episodes, I’ve learned the hard way to STAY OFF THE INTERNET. Otherwise it all gets spoiled.

Also, don’t judge me for putting the election in the same category as junk TV. This is where we are in 2016.

Adding insult to injury, everyone and their Aunt Fay also gets to be on a school schedule that is roughly an entire semester ahead of us. Every single May I see pictures of my internet friends’ kids doing cannonballs into pools with Hasthag-FirstPoolDay while I am counting down the 17 lunches I still have to pack with Hasthag-DoUncrustablesCountAsLunch?

Every single August, when we are finally finding our summer groove, everyone else is posting pictures of their littles holding tiny chalkboards with their new grade written on it, or pictures of their own feet on a charming brick path next to the one maple leaf that has managed to dislocate itself from it’s home and fall to the ground, indicating that Fall has indeed arrived.

What’s the deal with that anyways? Everyone needs to calm down already with all this “Fall in August” talk. August is not Fall! August is definitively a SUMMER month. Can we please sort this out, because it seriously messes with my head and gives me a severe case of FOMO.

Just when I think that I am truly enjoying the days at home with my littles, and patting myself on the back for ‘counting my blessings’ and ‘soaking up the moments’, I see a picture of some first grader with a backpack on and I start sweating and rethinking my whole angle. Read More…

In our 14 years of marriage, Husband and I have belonged to 10 different addresses.

TEN.

We have owned, rented, bought, sold, lost, renovated, and built from the ground up. We’ve lived in apartments, condos, big houses, and small houses. With each move we’ve taken away a surer sense of what’s important to us as a family, a greater understanding of our needs, and an ability to create a sense of “home” no matter the house. We’ve also picked up quite a few new skills along the way: everything from how to lay tile, to how to electrically wire an entire house, to how to take a space that feels small and make it feel “cozy” or a large space and make it feel “warm.”

We also learned how NOT to do these things.

But that’s a story for another day.

One thing that’s become clear over the years is that both Husband and I genuinely love the process of making a home. He loves learning new aspects of carpentry (and all the subsequent new tools they require), and I love the design end of it all. While some find building and renovating to be stressful, we actually kind of love it. Some of our favorite dates have been spent strolling through tile stores, or pouring over floor samples, or commiserating over window trim and molding.

I know.

Try not be jealous of our wild and crazy dating life. Read More…

Well the third annual Road-trip is officially on the books and I can honestly say it’s been the best one so far. Which is saying a lot, because we spent more time in the car than any other year.

32 accumulative hours, to be exact.

Not that I’m counting or anything.

As I told you guys last week, Amber and I decided to go big this year and brave the 12 hour drive to Disneyland. Which was really more like a 16 hour drive because CHILDREN. We spent 4 eight-hour days in the car (round-trip) and I’m happy to report that the kids handled it amazingly well. There was no melting down. There was no fighting. There weren’t even any complaints of hogging air-vents, or “she won’t stop looking at me!” like we’ve experienced in years past

And bonus: we listened to the entire Hamilton musical on the way, because what the heck else are you supposed to do in a car for 8 hours? Now, I should pause here to admit that I have been extremely resistant to all of the hype surrounding Hamilton. I had no intention of getting sucked in. I had no intention of caring at all. I certainly had no intention of becoming one of those people who are always blithering on about a musical and insisting other people listen to it.

But you guys.

It’s so good.

It really is incredible.

I had chills more than once listening to it.

It was kind of like that one time I thought I’d casually watch just the first episode of Scandal, and the next thing I knew it was 3am and I was in too deep to ever turn back. I’m afraid that Hamilton, much like Scandal, is a polarizing trend. You’re either in, or you’re out. There is no gray area. Read More…

Today was the first day of the annual road-trip that Amber and I take with our kids. We got up early, loaded my car to the literal brim with kids, beach bags, snacks, and the like, and after MUCH anticipation we finally hit the road.

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In case you missed it, last week I shared all about this tradition that we’ve started, and a few things we’ve learned over the years (the hard way). You can read about our past triumphs and tribulations here.

This year is a little bit special though, because we’ve decided to pull out all the stops. We’re going big, partly because we just wanted to, and partly because we threw the idea out there only halfway seriously, but then failed to plan anything else before it was time to actually go.

So it’s really happening.

We are going to Disneyland, people.

That means a 12 hour drive across state lines.

In the same car as the children.

It is either the best or the worst idea that we’ve ever had.

We told them this morning, and the kids had no idea, which was nothing short of a miracle because I have a hard time keeping a lid on fun surprises because EXCITEMENT and FEELS! So we waited all the way until today, and we let Teya (Amber’s oldest, who is 12 now, and opted for middle school church camp instead of the road-trip this year) tell them so she still felt involved on some level.

There was an excessive amount of hooting, hollering, and cheering upon hearing the word “Disneyland” so Amber and I were sufficiently pleased with ourselves. Read More…