Tag: motherhood

 

~ Guest Post By Emily Allen ~

I stood in the back of a women’s conference session with six-month old baby (my first) on my hip. A content, but increasingly active baby, I swayed with her and nibbled the side of her neck every few minutes so she’d light up and giggle at me, batting me with her chubby hands. A few feet away, an older woman whom I greatly respect, who has always been warm and encouraging whispered to me, “Enjoy her now while she is little and sweet. Before you know it, she’ll be driving you up the wall, and you might not even like her.”

I nearly gasped. How dare she say such a thing?

I smiled awkwardly and offered a courtesy laugh, but I could not fathom such a day would come when I would be anything but smitten with this darling little curly-haired creature and absolutely everything she did. I was in the honeymoon phase of mothering; a new mom just beyond the challenging newborn days (my baby slept mostly through the night by this point), but still quite unaware of how demanding parenting becomes as a child grows.

Five more babies came after her, and as each of them reached new milestones, so arrived new perspective. Read More…

You guys, September is here!

(I like to start out my letters to you by stating something boring and obvious. It just really gets those creative juices flowing, you know?)

But do you know what this means?

It means Fall is here!

Isn’t Fall just the best?

It’s my absolute favorite time of year.

Not because of pumpkin spice (ewe) or the cooler temps (yes please) or even all the football (I’m a little peeved after losing in my fantasy league last year. I was literally The Biggest Loser. I now drive with a license plate of shame).

No, I love fall because it is the biggest re-set of the year.

I loooooove me a fresh start.

All the things get an overhaul. The schedule, the routine, the bedtimes, the… okay I just realized that was three different ways to say basically the same thing. So I guess my favorite part of of Fall is just the fact that I get my structured schedule back. Sue me.

Over here in southern Oregon the kids don’t go back to school until Sept. 5th, which is apparently like, an entire month later than the rest of the world? I don’t get it. Not only are we always behind because of time zones, we’re also behind in just about everything else. Which is why fidget spinners only became a thing for us like, five minutes ago. There’s probably already a new Taylor Swift song out that we don’t even know about yet…

Anyway, I’ll just be honest and admit that normally by the last week of August I am so ready for my kids to go back to school. Like, packing-up-their-backpacks-on-a-Saturday-even-though-school-doesn’t-start-until-Tuesday-ready.

I start off the summer feeling like Leslie Knope on a Monday morning- full of hope and good intentions…

but then I end the summer a lot more like Sunglasses Amy, trying to care that she’s supposed to be hosting the Oscars right now. Read More…

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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I’m not sure where you find yourself reading this, but over here in Oregon, we are still smack dab in the middle of a Snowpocolypse.

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And after 23 days of straight togetherness with my little people there are only two things I have to say about this:

  1. Oregon, you are beautiful to look at. Stunning, even. You are such a show off with your wild mysterious rivers, your wide open prairies, and your jutting snow-capped mountains. I love you. You’re gorgeous.
  2. But if you don’t calm down with the snow and the cancelled school days I am going to move away and never look back. I hear Texas is real nice this time of year. I’ll do it, I swear.

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…

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…

Well I don’t want to jinx anything by saying it out loud, but I do believe things are finally quieting down around here. Our schedules have been so busy for the last two months that I’ve landed in July and I’m not even sure how I got here.

I’m entirely disoriented but I only have 5 days to get my bearings, because the most important week of summer (as far as the kids are concerned) is almost upon us.

It’s here, you guys.

It’s time for The Annual Ambers Road-trip. Read More…

My life is full of imaginary brick walls. Some thick and looming, some crumbled and deteriorating, and still others that are bright red and sturdy, shielding me from outside winds.

But the walls are everywhere. 

I told you recently about the wall I’d been building between my husband and I. I confessed how I had picked up each brick one by one, felt it’s weight, and then foolishly set it down between us. Never looking up, I worked tirelessly at my wall. It wasn’t until I stopped to see it for what it was- a lie, that I had the sense to stop. The wall was a lie because I always thought it kept me safe, but it turns out that it really only kept me separate. You see, some walls need to be brought down.

Other walls are brought down by accident, by sudden impact, or even by neglect.

There’s a wall that I haven’t told you about. I don’t think I’m ready to name it just yet. Maybe it’s not even mine to name, but it shares my landscape. This wall has begun to crumble. At first I was all action- running in every direction trying to catch the bricks as they fell away, trying desperately to stack them back into place. But now…

Now I’m just paralyzed in the moment.

I feel myself standing there at the bottom, frozen in a dust cloud of smoke and rubble, watching it fall. I want this wall to be strong again, but I am helpless because it is not mine to labor over. Some walls represent shared spaces, and at the end of the day that is all they are. Shared spaces. I can help clean up the wreckage but I cannot build the wall. It doesn’t belong to me.

Which got me thinking…

I’ve spent too much time toiling over the wrong walls. There are other, more important walls, after all. My marriage, for instance, is a load-bearing wall. It shelters me, protects me, and holds me up. It not only deserves, but requires my constant care. I must abandon my habit of building walls between us and instead build the wall of us.

Because if a wall is truly strong, it cannot be easily brought down. Read More…

Last month I confessed to Husband that I suspected some secret, dormant part of my heart might possibly want to have another baby.

I know.

What in the actual world.

Any of you who know me at all know that since our last child was born 6 years ago we’ve been decidedly done with the human making business. Not because we don’t make good ones (we do) but because our family felt complete. Also because colic and acid reflux are the devil’s party favors for new parents. Ask me how I know.

In retrospect, I chalk this sudden baby fever up to a perfect storm of hormones, milestones, and a momentary lapse in judgement.

I was nearing my lady-time of the month so needless to say, all the feelings were in abundance. It didn’t help that every time I turned on the television I saw one of those diaper commercials with all the sleeping babies. Suddenly I was having a literal, physical reaction to those sleeping babies. It was a feeling somewhere between craving, longing, and dejavu. I felt it in my chest and in my tear-ducts.

It was also my daughter’s 9th birthday. The last year of single digits. She’s now almost as tall as me. This year she learned the truth about Santa and the Tooth Fairy. All at once everything seems to be accelerating and the nuances of her littleness are slipping away faster than I can mentally document them. Puberty, sex talks, and social pressures loom ahead of us but for now I just want to paint her nails and brush her hair and pretend like this part will last forever.

I’ve entered an unfamiliar new season of motherhood this year, with my youngest joining the ranks of elementary schoolers. For the last 9 years a good portion of my day (read: my identity) has been wrapped up in caring for our small children. Now those small children are strapping on backpacks and going off to their own lives for 6 hours a day. It’s all very grown up and liberating and scary as hell. Read More…