August 11, 2015

voice lessons.

There's something liberating about the knowledge that very few people will be reading Hello Hive now that I've allowed the custom domain address expire. I need the added space to process some of the things that God is working in me. It's so much easier to- well, be myself, when I'm truly just writing for myself.
It was true when I said that I felt like blogging again. I still do. What's surprising is how easy it is to slide into a mode where this thing I enjoy so much turns into a burden because I'm doing it to please other people.
(By the way, goodness- all the comments from Disqus are gone, too?! I bet that could be easily remedied. But I'm considering leaving that as it is. It suits the peace and quiet that I'm going for. Why don't I just turn off all comments going forward, while I'm at it? Gee whiz.)

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I'm chewing on some ideas for a totally rebranded site. Back in May, I had hinted that the original idea for Hello Hive wasn't really fitting with my real life. But I don't want to rush into a change, especially if it will keep me from actually writing. Which is the real point, anyway- isn't it?
I'd love to hash out some of my ideas for a new blog direction, and I will a little bit at a time. But for now, I just want to write and process and think about the real reasons why I'm addicted to blogging.
I know it's not because I want to be internet famous. The more I think about it, the more I am really uncomfortable with the idea of being known by so many people. I'm an introvert, through and through. Maybe this aversion to being known is the reason I have a stop-start love-hate relationship with social media anyway!?
Therefore, going forward, I want to just write what's really on my heart. In so doing, maybe I can find my true self and figure out what God wants me to be doing with my time. My identity is in HIM ALONE, and no brand that I can create to hide myself in. This should be a fun practice. Consider this post the first of many voice lessons to come!

July 28, 2015

heads up!

I just wanted to drop in and give ya'll a heads up that Hello Hive will be changing domain names in the near future. More on that here. In the meantime, the best way for you all to stay in touch is by Instagram. That's about all I have the time and energy for these days, anyway! In case you're wondering about the news we've been dealing with, I talked about that here.


Ya'll keep in touch! I truly hope things even out for the best very soon.

July 18, 2015

news.

I've had a feeling for a few months that everything about life as we know it is about to change. This week, we're simmering in the news that will likely deliver that change. The evidence we've been given points to "All The Things Are About To Get Real" and it's not good news.



Nevertheless, my Lord Jesus is above it all. I don't see how anyone makes it through life without the Living Hope! I'm leaning into my Savior's arms now- deeply, abandoned. I need him in every part of me.

Sometimes, circumstances feel desperate. In this life, there is trouble on top of trouble. If you don't grasp the concept that we are only visitors on this earth- given possession of a temporary body containing a permanent, eternal soul- goodness, the pain of life will overwhelm you.

Friends, don't be concerned about me. Rest assured, I am fine and healthy and strong- however, I'm going to need to stay that way. I need to be strong for everyone around me. I'm not ready to share everything, but I'm sure I will in time. Meanwhile, you can find me on Instagram, and perhaps Twitter. I'll be around. (XOXO) 

July 13, 2015

gathering dust.

I've almost stopped using my DSLR camera altogether. Lately, all my pictures have been captured with my iPhone 5, and I don't even take many pictures that way at all! Not in relation to the amount of pictures I was taking two and three years ago, anyway.

In some ways, I'm frightened that I'll later regret not having as many pictures of this era in our lives. On the other hand, I do feel like I am more fully experiencing life right now- I'm more engaged with the moments happening around me, rather than interacting with them as an observer.

On average, I get my DSLR camera out about once a month. It needs to be sent off for repair, actually- something is wonky with the light sensor, and I have to make educated guesses to choose settings for correct exposure (which must be done manually 100% of the time- whatever is wrong has caused the preset/priority modes to malfunction as well). We just don't have money in the budget for camera repairs. So the "big girl camera" is gathering dust on a shelf in our bedroom at the moment!

The boys and I headed outside to play one day recently, and I decided to take to opportunity to get a few pictures of them together. I found these matching t-shirts for them this spring, and they were still hanging in the closet with tags on! Shameful, I know. But, here you go- a picture of them looking like they actually like each other! And then playing in the dirt instead of looking at the camera. And finally, we spent the rest of our time outside playing on the tire swing, because that's just what we do.

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(I promise Hawk doesn't always look so worried, haha!)

I feel like my camera skills are getting rusty but I can't be too upset about this kind of thing. Life is full to the hilt, and I'm trying to soak it all it. I spend far too much time absorbed in trying to control details instead of enjoying the big picture, do you know what I'm saying?! I think maybe I needed my camera to break so I could realize this.

I have so much to say, but the little ones are awake and I'm typing with one hand now. Eric is working double shifts every day this week and Hawk has decided now is a good time to quit napping. My editorial plan for the blog is about two weeks behind now, and I haven't had a moment for checking my social feeds lately. That's making this more of a one-sided conversation than I want it to be, but I can't change it. I'm stretched in every direction, but confident this too shall pass! Happy Monday- here's hoping you all have a fantastic week!

July 10, 2015

july bookshelf.

This week has been fantastically busy, and I'm looking forward to staying at home all day today. I don't even plan on getting out of my pajamas. Bring it on, Friday!

We started the week with Summer Blast, our church's version of Vacation Bible School. Seth had an amazing time! But we lived off Pop Tarts and fast food for three days, and now I'm feeling the effects. Totally worth it.

Yesterday, we spent the afternoon visiting with friends, and then we headed to the library to refresh our summer reading stack. If I told you how much time I spend reading to the kids each day, you probably wouldn't believe me! As much as I want to dive into brand new book for myself this weekend, it's so awesome to see my boys fall in love with reading. The way I see it, I'm sacrificing this time now so I can catch up on all the reading I want to do later, once the boys are reading independently.

The audiobook has become my new best friend. I still have mixed feelings about audiobooks- they will never be the same as sitting down with a book and seeing the written words. But I decided to let go of the pressure to be totally puritanical about the differences between listening and reading a book- I'll never get all the way through the long list of books I long to read, anyway. I love being able to press play and listen to a story while I go about all the other things I need to accomplish each day!

As an added bonus, Seth has decided he really likes audiobooks, too. He'd almost prefer listening to a book over watching television. Score one for the Mommy team! So, we've been listening to a lot of my old childhood favorites together. Thank goodness for our library, because it turns out audiobooks are ridiculously expensive! I've considered an Audible subscription, but I was disappointed to learn there's actually a monthly limit. Boo, hissss.......

So, here's what's been hanging out on our shelves lately:

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PAST: Love the Home You Have by Melissa Michaels
PRESENT: Finding Spiritual Whitespace by Bonnie Gray
AUDIO: The Arsonist by Sue Miller
FUTURE: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
LITTLE KID: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.
BIG KID: James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

What have you been reading lately?

July 6, 2015

gratitude | v. 10

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The truth is, new furniture or a better house will never really satisfy- they will just set new, higher standards for what is acceptable to us for our comfort and contentment. When you take care of what you have and find joy right where you are, you set the right tone and expectations for contentment in all circumstances moving forward. (From Love the Home You Have by Melissa Michaels)
  • This song, on repeat. I've been deep in all the feels, and knowing true freedom is the one thing keeping my head over water.
  • Morning coffee on the couch in our library room, watching the sun move over the tree outside the window.
  • Nobody lost a finger playing with bottle rockets over the weekend.
  • Today is the first day of Summer Blast, which is like VBS on steroids! This is the first year Seth is old enough to attend, and he's beyond pumped up. And I'm planning coffee dates with my gal pals for the next few days!
  • I finally found the best homemade biscuit recipe. I've only been searching for years!
  • We're in a brand new sermon series at church called "Dream Again", and I feel like God intended the message just for me.
  • Yummy squash, straight from the garden.
  • This summer has been unseasonably bearable. By this, I mean that I don't feel like I'm swimming in soup every time I go outside. I realize August has yet to arrive, but for now I'm enjoying the nice weather!
  • Kids rolling in the grass.


What has been your favorite thing about summer so far?

July 5, 2015

independence day.

We didn't party too hardy for the Fourth this year: just a little laid back backyard fun with our family. There wasn't much poolside fun because it poured buckets (3+ inches of rainfall before 8:30 a.m., blasting the 120-year-old record rainfall for our area) and the air was unseasonably cool. I won't say we didn't try. It was just too cold! There was watermelon and hamburgers for the having, and some firecrackers and bottle rockets. Hawk hid his face in our shoulders all evening. I don't think he liked all the explosions. Seth had more fun catching frogs than anything else.

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That was our holiday. Nothing elaborate. Just humble, thankful, quiet... and a little muddy. Just the way I like it! How did you celebrate the Fourth?

June 29, 2015

on words + house cleaning.

I really think I talk to much. This has been on my mind a bit the past few days. It's ironic, because there's not really that much to talk about. My life is pretty bland- most days are identical, honestly. Perhaps that's part of the problem. I spend so much time cooped up at home with two kids, and then when you get me out in public with adults, my mouth opens up and I am entirely powerless to shut it again.

I think I do this online, too. For real, who even reads every word of every blog post in their feeds anymore? Not I. There's just too much information out there, too many awesome ideas, too much clatter on the virtual airwaves. It's entirely impossible to soak up everything there is to been seen/read/pinned/tweeted/grammed. But, Lord, don't we try?! I know I do. But still, when I sit down to write a blog post, I feel like I have to get in all the words I can. It's a disease, really.

Eventually, my brain spins out of control and sparks start shooting out of my ears, and I suddenly feel like I have nothing to say at all. Ok, perhaps I only imagine the ear sparks. But you get the idea, I hope! The point is, sometimes I feel really embarrassed about the words that come pouring out of my mouth/fingers. Why can't I just edit myself better than this, already? It's truly not necessary to put all of yourself out there for the world to see.

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This week, my focus is turned a little more inward. I'm going to really put some effort into learning to listen more than I speak. I'm going to attempt to set my physical house in order, too, because I'm sort of embarrassed by how lazy I've been lately and we're going to have out-of-town company later this week. Read: I've got some mega-housecleaning on my plate. I also have a tower of books that need to be read and sent back to the library soon!

Well, on that note, it's Monday again and I'm headed off into the week ahead. So now let me put my listening ears to practice! It's your turn- what are planning for this week? Is there anything that's been on your mind lately? How was your weekend?

June 24, 2015

imagining a boho luxe master bedroom.

Can I let you in on a little secret? I've never actually decorated our master bedroom. We've been living in this house for eight years, and our bedroom has never seen a paintbrush in that time. And it could really use some attention!

I know we're not the only ones in the world living with a less than wonderful master bedroom- I think a lot of people put off fixing their sleeping quarters because it's not a public space. No one's hanging out in here- so why bother making it beautiful?

We so rarely have money in our budget for special things, when we do have a little extra to spend on home improvements, it's easy to rationalize that other spaces are a higher priority. Therefore, our bedroom has become a landing zone for the items that we no longer want displayed in the living area but haven't quite had the heart to part with altogether. It's a crazy mess!

I think it's time to pour some imagination into our master bedroom, don't you think? Eric has been forewarned- the next windfall that comes our way will be allocated to this project. First of all, the walls need a fresh coat of paint- I'm thinking something light and airy. We'll also need to install some new baseboards and trim out the doors. I also want to try a new furniture arrangement.

Our mattress lives on the floor these days (a dear friend generously gave us her king-sized mattress a few months back, after she and her husband decided to upgrade. Our old bed was a queen, so the frame went to go live in storage)- so a proper bed is in order! I've been scouring Craigslist, but I haven't found anything to suit my fancy yet. I think a four-poster bed would be amazing! Our bedroom has higher ceilings, so it would work.

I'm dreaming up a bohemian luxe retreat, with rich color, aged bronze accessories, cozy velvet pillows and layers of global pattern and earthy details. I'm far from committing to a design just yet, but here are some pretty possibilities:

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June 22, 2015

what speech therapy taught me about parenting.

Our toddler has been receiving speech therapy for the past few months. You'd think this might be about language training for our little one, but in truth it's been more of a learning experience for me as his mother! Speech therapy has actually boosted my confidence as a parent and helped me grow closer to both of the kids.

By the time Hawk was 18 months old, I could tell that his ability to use language was not developing normally. Don't get me wrong- this kid is bright. He's been above in beyond in nearly every milestone he's passed in the past 21+ months. He was walking at 8 months, for goodness' sake! And more recently, he's begun expressing interest in sitting on the potty. He's not even two yet!

Hawk has no problem understanding what we're saying to him. The issue is his ability to form the correct sounds with his mouth to imitate words. Sometimes, this can be pretty comical as he talks to us in his own language- quite confidently, even! It's hard not to burst out laughing when a stream of burble comes out of his mouth while he holds his elbows akimbo and cocks his head defiantly to the side as if to say, Come on, mom- you know exactly what I'm trying to say here. 

Other times, he uses gestures similar to sign language to communicate what he's trying to say. For example, he might point to the cabinet and cup his hands together to indicate he wants a bowl.

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Our pediatrician referred us to Early Intervention for evaluation, and the testing showed exactly what I thought. Hawk is a perfectly normal child with an extraordinary mastery of his body and fine motor movements, but limited ability to communicate verbally. So, for the past three months,we've been welcoming a few different speech therapy professionals into our home for continued evaluation and treatment. It's hard sometimes to describe exactly what we "do" during his speech therapy appointments, but I've learned so much from our therapists that I'm so grateful for the experience.

Often, we're just sitting on the floor playing with various toys and talking with Hawk about them. He gets really into the playing, and then he'll invent ways to entertain us. He's such a little comic! At some point each time, you can almost see the imaginary key in his brain click and the door opens and new words or phrases begin to tumble out.

This day in particular, I was elated when Hawk pointed to a picture of balloons painted on the side of a set of nesting blocks and said, "BOON!" Then he pointed to a picture of a duck and said, "DUCK! QUACK!" We're getting there! I would have danced a jig if I didn't think it would have made me look like a total idiot.

The one thing I've really learned through this experience is that it doesn't take anything elaborate to teach your kids certain skills. Most of the time, all they really want or need is some one-on-one attention to give them a nudge in the right direction. A little bit of patience goes a long way, too!

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I've put away most of our noise-making toys, keeping out only the toys that leave room for the kids' imagination. We keep a basket of books next to the sofa in the den- I always suggest we sit together and read before switching the TV on. We've made an effort to spruce up our outdoor spaces to encourage more outside play.

I try to involve the kids in my daily chores, encouraging them to help with whatever I'm doing (even if the "help" isn't so much making progress toward the goal of finishing the task, it's giving the kids an opportunity to learn important life skills through imitation). These things are simple- nothing elaborate or costly or time-consuming. I hope my kids will get something more valuable from their childhood than any material things could offer!

People often remind me that one day, I'm going to lament the fact I ever wished Hawk would learn how to talk. There's going to come a day that he's going to run off at the mouth and I'll think, Would you just shut up, already?! Or one day he'll sass me with the same mouth that used to nurse at my breast, and I'll have to remind myself that this phase, too, shall pass.

One day I'll barely even remember the frustration of dealing with yet another tantrum resulting from his inability to express his needs in words, and a new annoyance will fill the place of this one. And in that day, like this one, perhaps the best therapy of all will be a little bit of patience and whole lot of compassion.

June 19, 2015

give me jesus.

If I could describe my recent spiritual condition to you in one word, I'd say "parched". Does that surprise you? It's easy to look at other people's lives and think they've got it all together, but let me take any illusions you might have about my life and dispel them right now.

I'm far from together. In fact, broken into pieces is much more like it.

Sometimes, life needs has to be taken apart so it can be put back together right again. Lately, God has been disassembling every bit of me. I look forward tothe moment when He starts to put the pieces back together, and I have confidence He'll use his Spirit-glue to make me stronger than I was before.

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Mornings are my one opportunity to catch a breath and recuperate from this crazy life and the soul weariness that comes along with it. In the quiet before the rest of the family begins to stir, I try to find a few moments to hear the Fixer working away in my heart. I need His Words, His scripture, like oil to lubricate the rusty parts inside me.

Sometimes it's hard to absorb any inspiration at all when feeling this empty. How does one jumpstart a new spiritual season? Even though I'm not sure how to address that question right now, I do know one thing. A few moments in quiet worship each morning always lead to better days. When the first actions of the morning are ordered around your heart's desire, you'll draw nearer to the goal. Even if the movement is imperceptible at first, over time you'll grow by leaps and bounds.

Even if the best I can offer God this morning is a few moments with the praise and worship station on my Pandora app, open Bible in front of me (as if by just holding it in my lap the words might fly up off the page and pour into my soul), coffee in hand and a seeking heart turned toward Him- I trust He is working on me still. He will begin to fill me again soon.

I'm praying for God's living water to come down and saturate me once more, this weekend and beyond. I pray the same for each of you. Happy Friday, my friends!

(♪ Give me Jesus )

June 17, 2015

a nature inspired bedrooms for boys.

When it comes to the topic of redecorating his bedroom, Seth is one tough customer. Bless that boy, he's just not a big fan of change. Were it not for the dingy-looking walls and that hideous "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" Fathead sticker collection his grandparents gave him for Christmas two years ago- I might not feel the need to push the issue.

But I'm pushing the issue.

It's time for a change, and I think I've finally got his (reluctant) attention. My boy is going to be in grade school before we know it. And it won't be too long before it's time to move Hawk in there with him, so "Seth's room" will eventually become "the boys' room". Slow down, time! It's time to makeover the big boy room.

Seth has really taken a shine to fishing with his daddy of late. I think he'd rather be exploring the woods than anything else, with the exception of reading! We need to arrange a better system for storing toys (including a more judicious eye for which toys remain accessible at all times). I've finally seen him get excited about changing his room decor up, as long as he can have some things to remind him of fishing and exploring, and a nifty place to store his favorite reads.

Here's some inspiration rooms I've been sharing with Seth as we discuss the upcoming changes:

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1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

I was surprised to find that he picked some of the vintage details in these pictures as his favorite things- the golden eagle plaque (I think my in-laws may have one just like it in storage!) and the vintage animal poster, a painted animal figure and sports pennants. Two of these rooms feature Spiderman posters- can you spot them? We're loving all things comic books, so that's a detail we'll have to include.

Do a quick search on Pinterest for "boys bedroom ideas"- you'll be surprised how little there is to find. Too many are short on personality and long on narrow themes. Which is great if your kid is a sold-out soccer fan or die-hard skateboarder/surfer/lacrosse player or is dying to live in a room that looks identical the the inside of a pirate ship.

I love the quirkiness of these rooms! I'm drawing inspiration from eclectic, nature-inspired rooms for this project. My boy has a revolving door of interests and colorful taste. He needs a space with room to accommodate a wild, always-roaming imagination.

And no offense, Jake of Neverland- it's time for you to head on the the second star on the right, then straight on 'til morning. #wink

June 15, 2015

don't tell anyone it's (reduced fat) peach cobbler.

Now, let's talk peaches. Mmmmmm, yessssss! Those fuzzy little orbs of heavenly fruit. Peaches are in season again and that can only mean one thing. We shall eat cobbler!

My mother-in-law taught me how to make peach cobbler when Eric and I were dating. Her recipe is something like this: "Take a vat of melted butter and mix it with a heap of white flour. Pour in a tub of white sugar and top with canned peaches. Bake, serve, and watch your muffin top grow like magic! Say hello to your new friend, diabetes!"

I thought maybe this year, I'd try to lighten up the cobbler's reputation a bit. Let me just say, I took this peach cobbler to my in-law's house a few weeks ago and Eric's mom proclaimed- best cobbler, ever! Here's my recipe:

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Ingredients:

4-5 ripe peaches
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup 1 tsp. baking powder
4 tbsp butter, melted
1/3 cup apple sauce
3/4 cup nonfat milk
     + 2 tsp white sugar
     1 tsp cinnamon

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Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Wash, then slice about 4 medium-sized peaches.

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Combine your dry ingredients- white whole wheat flour, sugar and brown sugar, baking powder- in a large mixing bowl.

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Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in your microwave and pour into flour mixture.

Add applesauce and milk, then blend the ingredients together.

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Coat cast iron skillet or baking pan with cooking spray.

Pour the batter into your pan.

Press sliced peaches into the batter.

Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, then sift over the top of your prepared cobbler.

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Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Serve with vanilla bean ice cream, of course!

You could make this cobbler with any fruit- pineapple, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, you name it. I just happen to love peaches best!

What is your favorite summer fruit?

June 12, 2015

hello, summer tunics and tops!

I'm a huge fan of the oversized top trend. Finally, I feel like my little mama paunch has been vindicated! No more sucking it in. No more self-conscious arranging of myself when I sit in the grass at the park to cover my belly. I am free! Free to sit how I feel best! Free to hold my posture any way I choose!

You little skinny-Minnies may not have this problem, but I don't hate. You look cute in your little crop tops and fitted tanks. Good for you! Now I can look cute and on-trend, too. For as long as this trend lasts.... (Oh, God, please let it last forever!)

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June 10, 2015

play-doh smash: kindergarten color theory.

This activity was inspired by this post by Allison over at No Time for Flash Cards. As soon as I saw it, I knew we'd have to try something similar ASAP. Seth loves to paint with me, but he's always squirting out a little of every color and then mixing them a l l l l  t o g e t h e r ..... which is fine. I'm all about free play and experimentation in art. BUT. Try as I might, I haven't been able to get across to him that he's going to get the same poopy-baby-diaper color every single time if he doesn't exercise some moderation in his mixing choices.

The kid desperately needed a lesson in beginning color theory.

At the same time, I've been teaching him about science, and how to properly conduct a science experiment. With that in mind, I came up with this idea as an extension of Allison's color mixing activity.

Isn't is beautiful how art and science can relate?

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I started by cutting three strips of white paper. On each strip, I drew three circles, in the form of a math equation, like this: O + O = O. I colored the first two circles in each equation with two of the primary colors and left the third circle blank. Then, I drew a line under the third circle.

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On another sheet of white paper, I drew six circles in two rows of three each. On the top row, I colored each of the three circles one of the primary colors. On the bottom row, I used the secondary colors. Then I wrote the names of each color under the corresponding circle.

I filled a dish with 1-inch balls of primary colored Play-Doh, grabbed a handful of crayons and a pencil- and we were ready to begin!

We started by discussing the difference between primary colors and secondary colors. Primary colors exist on their own, without mixing two other colors. Secondary colors are created by mixing two of the primary colors together. Seth already knew that red, blue and yellow are called "primary colors", but he couldn't explain why.

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(NOTE: I love that Seth was wearing his Batman cape when we did this activity. Our library's summer reading program has a superhero theme this year, and they are giving away these paper masks with the registration kits. Seth was inspired to wear his reversible superhero cape around the house for several days in a row last week, and he named himself "SuperBat". Love that kid's imagination!)

Since we were treating this activity like a science experiment, I asked Seth to make a hypothesis- a guess about which color pairs would create each of the secondary colors. We recorded each of his guesses on the reverse side of each the equation strips before beginning the experiment.

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Now, the fun part! He began the experiment by squishing two primary colored Play-Doh balls together. He smooshed. He smashed. He twisted and bashed...

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He was excited to see the new, secondary color begin to form! His hypothesis about blue + yellow was purple, so he was surprised when green began to form.

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We saved orange for last, because I knew his hypothesis was correct and it would be a nice reward to see that he'd guessed one of them correctly. By this time, he'd decided smashing the Play-Doh against the window was fun. He squealed with delight when the color orange started forming! "Yay, Mommy! I got one of them right!"

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I asked Seth to record the correct answers on the front side of each of the equation strips.

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For the toddler set, the final product is a fun way to practice color matching. I just realized this week that Hawk is able to identify and match colors now! It never occurred to me that a child under two might be capable of identifying colors, probably because Seth was late to the game in that arena. My littlest is developing slower than average in his ability to verbalize his thoughts (Seth, on the other hand, has never been at a loss for words... #wink), but he blows me away with the ability to understand and follow directions like this!

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For the final part of our color activity, I asked Seth to write the name of each of the secondary colors under the corresponding circle on the equation strips. He copied the spelling of each color off the color key I had made. I added this element to the activity to sneak in a little handwriting practice.

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I adore that he left the second "p" off the word "purple". I try not to point little failures like this out to Seth right now. I think it's developmentally appropriate for a five-year-old to miss a letter or two when copying a word, and I want to be very careful to spend more time praising his successes instead of correcting the things he's done wrong. "It doesn't have to be perfect," is the mantra I repeat every day, both to myself and to him. Believe me, this is hard for both of us to grasp!

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Now that we've done the Plah-Doh color mixing activity, I think that Seth will have more fun with our free painting projects. I can't guarantee that we won't still end up with brown gloopy messes from time to time, but I hope having a foundational understanding of color theory will encourage him to exercise a little more self-control with his color mixing choices!

June 8, 2015

june bookshelf.

A lot of books pass through this home. I'm pretty sure (between me and my oldest son) we read more than the average family. Sometimes, I have to force myself to slow down and enjoy the process rather than rushing though to move on to the next book! I just want to consume as many as I possibly can.

I'm pretty bad about keeping more than one book going at one time, and eventually forgetting one for a long period of time. Or, I'll go to the library with the intention of getting one book in particular, but I come home with an armload. I'm trying to get better about that- all in the name of making a more simple life, you know.

I logged on to Goodreads the other day to update my status on a book I'd just returned to the library, and I realized there's a book on my "reading" shelf that I haven't touched in a while. It's an e-book, and I haven't even turned on my Kindle lately. I guess it's out of sight, out of mind! I'd ordered a paperback copy of the Husband's Secret a few weeks ago, and it had been staring at me from the shelf where I'd stashed it, so naturally I'd already dove into it without thinking of the other book I haven't finished. Oh, well...

So, here's what I've been reading lately:

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PAST: Design Mom by Gabrielle Stanley Blair
PRESENT: The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
WITH THE KIDS: Home by Carson Ellis
FUTURE: Keep It Shut by Karen Ehman

Do you prefer e-books over "real" books? Why or why not?

June 5, 2015

gratitude | v. 09

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This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)
  • I feel like blogging again, ya'll! I can't even begin to explain the overwhelm that took over me a few months back. I'd sit in front of the screen and draw a total blank. But God's been nudging me lately, letting me know I'd get my creative bone back one day soon. Last week, I had a day of crazy brainstorming and came up with enough material to cover 3+ months on my editorial calendar! Now, I'm going to try and be disciplined about it so I don't get burned out, but just so you know- I'm not at a loss for ideas over here.
  • Looking up old songs my daddy used to listen to on YouTube just for the nostalgia of it.
  • Our local library system and the inter-library loan. We've been totally abusing the privilege lately! You can request almost any book from 40 libraries in the Birmingham metro area and have them delivered to the branch closest to you.
  • Speaking of books, we started listening to an audiobook here or there, and now Seth is obsessed. He'd rather listen to an audiobook than watch a movie. That's my boy!
  • Hawk doesn't say much- a boy of few words. But when new ones arrive, it's like watching someone see for the first time! Then, it's the same thing on repeat. Recently, all he wants to say is "dada's keys". Give him a bowl full of key rings, and he's occupied for at least thirty minutes.
  • We planted a small garden, and the sunflowers and string beans have started to sprout. Also accounted for? Blueberries and strawberries. Wish my thumbs some luck! Going for the green ones here.
  • A basket of plump, locally grown peaches.
  • A husband that senses my nerves are thin and volunteers to take the kids to the zoo for the afternoon.
  • Just got this cookbook in the mail the other day. I'll certainly be adding some of the recipes to my meal plan!


What Classic song takes you back to your childhood more than any other?

June 3, 2015

baby steps: setting goals for home improvement.

When I'm faced with a big project, I often start by throwing myself into planning overload. I love to have every detail planned meticulously in advance. When we first bought this house, I approached all our home improvement needs the same way.

I bought a notebook and began to list every single project I deemed necessary to make this house a home. Dreams of renovation danced through my head at night. No room stood untouched by my imagination. Replace window trim in the living room. Remove carpet: install hardwood. New windows! Reframe screen porch. New roof over carport. Tile bathroom.

Eight years later, the only one of those projects that's been done is the carport. In a fit of discouragement one day, I threw out that notebook, along with all my material lists and price estimates and dreams of ever fixing up our house. I gave up on the belief I could ever have a home that made me happy.

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I realize now part of my problem was just that- expecting this dusty old cottage to make me happy. I hung my peace of mind on whether or not our house fit "my style" or if the roof was less than fifteen years old (this year, it's now a ripe old seventeen years old...). I didn't think I could be truly happy in an imperfect house.

Over the last year, I've undergone a soul transformation in the area of how I regard my home. I've begun to thank God for every part of it- rotten doors and windows, screens flapping in the wind, crumbling front steps, tacky wallboard in the bathroom, cracked pedestal sink, wonky floors and all. Once I began to accept it for what it is- a shelter, a depository of memories for my children, a comfortable place to welcome friends and family- years of pent up anxiety started to flow out of me, replaced by peace beyond understanding.

I decided to quit worrying about the big picture and focus on little steps I can take right now. I can't make $20,000 appear in our bank account to cover the roof, windows, and new HVAC unit that might seem like immediate needs to anyone else. But I can grab a can of paint and some sandpaper and give our front porch a little facelift. Sure, it might take me a month to do what someone else could finish in one afternoon- you try painting a front porch when your toddler is trying to dash out into the street! But it will get done. Eventually.

Baby steps. Right?

About a year ago, I called in a real estate professional for advice. I had the itch to move then- maybe I thought I could find happiness elsewhere? The advice we received was less than encouraging. We bought in 2007, before the real estate market crash. While we're not underwater on our mortgage- we have very little equity, and so much would need to be done to repair things around here before closing that it'd be like paying someone to buy our house if we actually sold the property.

So our options are either: move elsewhere and use this home as a rental property, or stay. We chose to stay.

I'm starting a new home improvement plan this summer, but it's tempered by a healthy dose of realism. This house won't be "Pinterest-worthy" anytime soon, but it will be just right for us, just the way it is!

  • We might not be able to remodel our kitchen- but maybe I can hang a new light fixture in the adjacent dining room to replace the outdated model I got on clearance at Lowe's seven years ago? 
  • We can't replace all the windows in the house- but what if we committed to save money this year so we can tackle the ones on either side of the fireplace because they are in the worst shape? 
  • We don't have enough money to fix the roof, but thank God it doesn't leak! Let's get an estimate for a new roof and circle the quote we receive with prayer and trust that our Father will provide when we need it.
  • Rebuilding the screen porch is out of the budget and low on the list of priorities. Maybe if we clean it up really good and actually start to use it for al fresco dinners and morning coffee and Bible study time, we can learn to be grateful for it instead of worried about the way it looks.
  • The master bedroom has never been painted, as long as we've lived here. Let's make it happen this year!

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent. (Psalm 91:9-10 NIV)

What are some baby steps you can take this year to make your house more like home?

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p.s. | I stumbled on an article that relates exactly to what I'm thinking after finishing this post and thought it was so, so relevant. Enjoy! XO.

June 1, 2015

simple meal plan | v. 01

Undoubtedly, grocery shopping is the one thing that really tends to complicate my life. I dread the trip to the supermarket more that just about any other chore. For one thing, I'm never guaranteed a day during the week when someone else can watch after the kids. Eric usually works on Saturdays, and Sundays are a day busy with church and family, so weekday grocery runs are the norm for our family. I usually wind up dragging both kids along for the ride, and none of us are very happy about the whole situation!

Fortunately, I've devised a pretty workable system to relieve (not eliminate, mind you!) the stress of the market trip. Maybe one day I'll share all my secrets in one post, but for today I'm just focusing on one aspect of my method: the monthly meal plan! I know you guys must know what a meal plan is, right!? Grocery shopping without a meal plan is insanely stressful. So why live without one?

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I haven't been extraordinarily organized with my meal planning in recent months, but this summer I'd like to get back on track! I've written out a meal plan for the month of June, and since I know it'll really help us out as we plan our grocery shopping, I thought it might be helpful for you as well. How would you like to peek into our pantry and see what's going on?

For the first week of June, our plan looks like this:

Monday

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: Pancakes + Fruit
  • Lunch: Grilled cheese sandwiches + apple slices
  • Dinner: Meatloaf + mashed potatoes + roasted green beans

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs + Toast
  • Lunch: Deli meat sandwiches + side salad
  • Dinner: Turkey Alfredo Pasta + steamed broccoli

Thursday

  • Breakfast: Carrot and Raisin muffins
  • Lunch:  Grilled cheese sandwiches + apple slices
  • Dinner: Fish sticks + roasted sweet potatoes + steamed kale

Friday

  • Breakfast: Carrot and Raisin muffins
  • Lunch: Egg salad sandwiches + steamed greens
  • Dinner: Garlic and Herb Chicken + lima beans + black-eyed peas

Saturday

  • Breakfast: Sausage + Toast + fruit
  • Lunch: Egg salad sandwiches + steamed greens
  • Dinner: "Leftover Potluck" + Perfect Lemon Bars

Sunday

What does your meal plan look like this week?

May 27, 2015

why "hello hive"?

I realized recently that I've never shared the original intent behind the choice of my blog's name. I must admit that somewhere along the way (really, quite shortly after beginning this blog), I lost sight of the purpose I had in mind for Hello Hive from the start. I'm certain that's probably contributed to my long season of quiet!

Hello Hive was originally intended to be a blog about home and hospitality. I draw an easy comparison between my home and a bee's hive- it's always buzzing with the activity of keeping up with these kids. I love to imagine busy bees, making their honey while keeping up with their ordinary to and fro.

I always want my home to be productive and sweet: organized and beautiful: welcoming and cozy. I like to be quick with the hellos and reluctant to say goodbye. Hospitality is important to me, and a welcoming atmosphere is one way to show generosity to guests in your home. As a homemaker, I feel like it's important for my husband to look forward to coming home each evening (not feeling dread for the chaos he might find here- though chaos does arrive on our doorstep pretty regularly!) and it's important when we have company that they feel comfortable in our home.

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Soon after I started blogging here, I began to get really discouraged about the idea I had for Hello Hive, so my posts turned more to lifestyle and journal-style entries. Ugh, I hate to admit my failures! But, there it is. I want to write about something I love and feel passionate about, but I often feel disqualified from that call because I haven't achieved perfection yet.

I want to share simple home improvements, but I can't because improvements aren't happening around here. I want to give you before and after tours of our home, but we're in a constant state of "before". I lament the kitchen remodel that never comes and the bathroom updates we can't afford to do. I want to share gardening tips, but I'm too busy trying to keep my toddler from beheading the petunias prematurely to take pictures. I want to share recipes we love, but my food styling skills are lacking and my geriatric camera is often more trouble than it's worth.

Often, I find myself starting a post about something that fits my vision for the blog, but a few paragraphs in my text begins to spiral down into a tone of whiny complaining, and I have to scrap the whole idea to move on to something else! Geez, that's embarrassing to admit, because I don't want to be that blogger! But I hope that admitting my shortcomings and sharing my vision for Hello Hive will jumpstart a season of more focused and purposeful blogging.

It can be a real challenge to brand a blog and stay true to your "voice". There are so many wonderfully unique and relevant blogs out there that truly stand out above the rest: how can you compete? For starters, I think it's important to quit trying to compete.

If you've been around these parts long, you know I don't shy away from vulnerable, so here it is. I have a jealous spirit and I'm always comparing myself to the people around me. I think about some of you that might be sort of like me in this way, and I don't want to share home inspirations anymore because I don't want to make you feel the shame of "less than" and "not good enough" that plagues me. I want you to come away from my blog inspired and encouraged! Isn't that true hospitality- to leave someone else's space feeling better for the experience?

To that end, I'd like to totally rebrand Hello Hive and start off on a new foot. I've been brainstorming a lot but it's slow going because I don't have much time to really dedicate to it! I just wanted to share this because it's been on my heart and I felt like maybe at least a few of you could relate.

Have you defined your intent for your blog? How well do you "stick to the plan"? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Image source, Creative Commons license.

May 26, 2015

a fifty-year silence.

I am several months late with this book review, but my mind has been so preoccupied with other things it's a wonder I remembered it at all! I noticed the book sitting there on my bookshelf a few days ago and felt the time has arrived to finally share it with you.

I was drawn to A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War, and a Ruined House in France by Miranda Richmond Mouillot instantaneously: I'm such a sucker for memoirs. I can't explain why I love them so! Maybe it's just a fascination with how other people live their lives, a latent obsession with true stories and various expressions of humanity itself. Whatever you call it- memoir is easily my favorite non-fiction genre.

Through the early pages of this book, I had a difficult time getting attached to the characters and the flow of the narrative. Miranda is a young woman haunted by her family's past who expatriates to France in order to find answers about the life her grandparents lived together before their ultimate divorce and estrangement from one another. Anna is her grandmother: a brilliant, colorful woman: a physician with a gypsy soul and adventurous spirit.

Miranda is very close to her grandmother, who had come to the United States to start a new life with her children after the demise of her marriage to Armand. Her relationship with Armand, however, is strained. Armand is the sort of person who's hard to grow close to: embittered by the past (he won't even speak Anna's name out loud), he built a meticulously ordered existence in Geneva, Switzerland to the exclusion of everyone around him like a wall to keep the painful past away.

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As a teenager, Miranda travels to live with her grandfather in Geneva for a time. During her stay with Armand, they take a trip to Alba, France together and Miranda learns that he owns an ancient house there. Armand gives her a perfunctory tour of the place and Miranda is entranced by the history and nostalgic beauty of the place. Immediately, she feels at home in the dusty ruins and begins to dream of returning one day. Years later, as a college student, Miranda returns to live in the antiquated house and try to discover the truth about her family's history.

Through letters written by her grandmother and tedious conversations with her grandfather, time spent pouring through historical records and piecing together the timeline of her grandparent's doomed romance, Miranda begins to slowly unravel the truth of her grandparents' history and their narrow escape of the Nazi invasion and Holocaust. Meanwhile, Miranda meets a young Frenchman in a cafe in the nearby village and they begin to fall in love.

While narrative in this memoir didn't immediately draw me in, I shortly found myself hooked on the poignant details of Miranda's familial history. Like the young author herself, I grew desperate to know more about her grandparents and the forces that drew them together, and ultimately flung them so far apart that Anna chose to put an ocean between them. Although the mystery of Anna and Armand's estrangement is never fully resolved, I think enough details are given to draw conclusions and finally put their shared history to rest.

A Fifty-Year Silence is poignant and beautifully written. The love story of Anna and Armand will continue to haunt me for years to come. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves a great memoir, and especially those who are drawn to tales of Holocaust survival and life in Europe during the World War II era.

I received a review copy of A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War, and a Ruined House in France by Miranda Richmond Mouillot from the kind folks at Blogging for Books. All opinions expressed are my own.

What have you been reading lately, my friends?

May 21, 2015

school rules.

Today is day four of many in our life as a homeschooling family, and I'm pleased as punch! Goodness, no- it's not really easy. But I know we're doing the right thing, so I'm content.

Seth finished preschool last week, and I'm so grateful for his teacher this year and the foundation she poured for me. I'm thrilled with how much he already knows! To my great surprise, he's already about a week ahead in the lessons I had planned for reading, and he's begging me to let him go farther! I had pegged him for a math kid... (so why not both?)

All around us, people are chattering about summer break and the last day of school, so some folks may wonder why we decided to get started so early. I guess my thought about that is, why should learning have to stop and start for particular seasons? I'd love to see my kids grow up seeing learning as a natural function of life.

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This week so far, we:

  • Made a list of "School Rules", including Pray first and Be kind and Take care of each other, our home and our community and The lesson plan is a roadmap. Detours are welcome! Enjoy the journey.
  • Almost finished reading Charlotte's Web.
  • Made watercolored butterflies out of coffee filters and pipe cleaners.
  • Conducted a science experiment to determine if a bird's feathers are waterproof.
  • Went to the library twice and the park one time.
  • Made homemade crackers together and topped them with Italian seasonings. Yum!
  • Used the feathers from our science experiment for painting and collage.
  • Practiced handwriting a LOT. Seth isn't too fond of this activity, but his improvement with a little coaching is remarkable!
  • Discussed communities and our place in the world as a whole.
  • Listened to an audiobook of Judy Blume reading Superfudge
  • Went for several walks together through the neighborhood and chatted with all our neighbors.
And it's only Thursday! What have you been up to lately?


May 4, 2015

out with the old, in with the new

It's crazy how fast things can change. Just a few months ago, I wrote in my journal, "I don't know why I ever thought I could homeschool these kids. My five year old defiantly rejects every fact I ever present him, and he won't let me teach him how to do anything!" But the seed was there in my heart, ready to grow- God was making me ready to realign all my priorities.

I've prayed and prayed for Him to change my heart and make me love the thing He's called me to do. Slowly, surely, I've begun to let go of everything that's all about ME ME ME and focus on my precocious precious children. Why did it take this long? All I can say is that my child's stubborn heart surely reflects my own. That's humbling.

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The past few months have been all about breaking our screen-time habits and bonding with each other. We've finally got to a point where most days, Seth doesn't even ask if he can watch TV. Often, the computer sits on the counter all day without ever being cracked open, and I might go several days without peeking at Instagram.

This morning, Seth and I were talking on the way to school. He said, "I wish I'd never gone to 'real school', Mommy. I wish you'd always been my teacher." Sadly, I thought, Maybe I have been your teacher- just not a very good one. I unintentionally taught you some of the wrong things. That's a sad thing to think. But at the same time, my heart leapt with joy for having another chance!

Five or six weeks ago, when all the curriculum I'd ordered began arriving in the mail, I eagerly sat down to plan a year's worth of lessons. Let me tell you, for my first time, it was thrilling. I was pretty proud when I got done, looking at that perfect spreadsheet!

The more I look at that spreadsheet, though, the more I realize it flies in the face of every reason I ever thought I might want to homeschool in the first place. For all the intentional simplifying and minimizing and saying "no" to things we don't need- there I was trying to micromanage the details of days months into the future, ready to put my kid through the wringer to pound book knowledge into his head.

So, back to square one. "Seth, I want you to make me a promise," I told him the other day. "School should be fun for you. If it's ever NOT FUN, I want to to tell me right away so I can fix it!" He was ecstatic about that idea. And I'm scrapping the schedule so we can take things day-by-day.

I plan to keep a journal of what we've done so there's a record that we're actually "doing school"- in the state of Alabama, I will be required to report our curriculum choices and schedule to an umbrella organization. Aside from that, I suppose that unschoolers we will be!

We counted on our fingers this morning how many days there are until Seth's last day of preschool. Only 8 days! EIGHT.

"When do you want to start homeschooling?" I asked.

"The very next day!" Seth exclaimed.

So, on to the next adventure we go!

April 23, 2015

7 things to do instead of blogging.

Don't get me wrong: obviously I enjoy this blogging thing, or I wouldn't bother coming back to it, right? But we all have to be honest with ourselves and admit that it can sometimes seem like a giant waste of time. Like, did I seriously spend two hours shopping the perfect pair of floral rain boots and matching rain coat for a post about our stinkin' lousy weather?

(Rain boots that I may never actually buy for myself, might I add. Truthfully, I'd spring for a pair of basic black galoshes if I were shopping just for me.)

instead-of-blogging


There have been plenty of free hours over the last couple of months that I could have used to write a blog post here or there, but I consciously chose another activity instead. I thought today I might let you in on a few of the ways I've spent my time lately. Here are some things that are good to do instead of blogging:

1. Read a good (long) book.


I haven't been reading nearly as much in quantity as I did in 2014, but the books I have been reading are much better in quality. For example, I finally read The Goldfinch, a Pulitzer Prize-winning whopper (at nearly 800 pages) that took about eight weeks to read start-to-finish (putting aside everything else). It took dedication, but it was worth the time.

I think I've probably plowed through too many books in recent years. I'm guilty of not taking time to savor the truly great books, and probably finished too many mediocre titles just for the sake of marking them "complete". I've vowed to be more selective about my reading in the future!

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2. Lead a Bible study (...book club, play group, frisbee golf team, etc.)


I was given the opportunity to join with three other ladies in leading a group of women through the LIFE curriculum (that I wrote about previously here), and it has been the most incredible experience. So many people need to receive this message and be freed from the bondages this life can heap on us! Not only that, but I've found how much I really need to spread my roots deeper in our church community. The time I give up to love these women is totally worth more that anything this world has to offer.

We all need community. We need people we can see face-to-face, and hug, and break bread with, and pray with, play with, laugh, cry, experience life with. Find your people. Give them yourself- your time- your effort. The payoff is incredible!

3. Take a walk.


Oh, goodness. I'm ashamed of how many days I've sat my tush at the kitchen table with my computer and given my time to blogging: only moving to get a new cup of coffee or some leftovers from the fridge (three feet away). Oh, the idle time! It's a miracle said tush is not the size of a house now as a result.

My sister recently gifted me a Jawbone UP24 activity tracker, and it's made me so much more aware of how much movement I'm incorporating into my days. I thought I was doing pretty good- but apparently not! My daily average number of steps is only about half what I'd hope it to be, and that's something I'm working to change.

Giving too much attention to social media can feed feelings of discontentment. On the other hand, physical activity tends to do the opposite- lifting our mood, self esteem, and outlook on life! I've programed my activity tracker bracelet to buzz when I've been on my heiny too long- and I've noticed that the days I disregard the reminder, I often feel angry, sad, and overwhelmed. Taking a little walk- even ten minutes- does a ton to lift my spirits!

4. Try a new recipe.


I love to cook, but it's easy to get in a rut. I often default to the tried-and-true meals, especially during busy seasons when it's easier to just tear open a bag and pop open a can and call dinner done. Ack, that hurts to admit!

Taking the time to cook something from scratch (without the pressure to perfectly photograph every step) is perhaps my single most favorite thing in the world! Oh, besides eating the fruit of my labor... but that goes without saying, right?

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5. Invite a friend out for coffee.


I'm going to refer back to my statements on activity #2 here. Here, though, I'd like to emphasize the importance of one-on-one intimacy. It's easy to fill up our calendar with small groups and social events, but taking time to grow an individual friendship is more difficult... and much more rewarding. I'm not a pro at stepping into that awkward area of turning an acquaintance into something much deeper, but I have been working on being more intentional at growing relationships.

6. Clean out your closet.


...or junk drawer, file cabinet, pantry, etc... Find that overlooked clutter magnet and clean it out, once and for all! I'm thrilled about how good it feels to purge things that I don't need. I've minimized so much recently, I'm puzzled how we might ever have thought we could live among so much useless stuff! I'm still painfully aware of several areas in our home that desperately need to be cleaned out, but we've come a long way, baby.

The worst of it now is getting the rest of the family on board. I finally convinced Eric to go through his closet with me- but he still has twice as much stuff as I do, and has lamented the loss of several of the shirts we donated! Trust me, I may never hear the end of it. Haha! He was a willing participant in the purge, however, and my conscience is free.

7. Complete a task you've been putting off for later.


I'm kicking the procrastination habit, ya'll. I might have been the pioneer of avoidance techniques in the past, but the new me is rising. You know what needs to be done, right? So- just do it, already. I filed our taxes as soon as all the documents arrived in the mail. I took the kids shopping for warm-weather clothes as soon as the first spring blooms arrived. I finally hired someone to trim our wayward trees. It feels awesome!

That's just a few things I've been doing lately. It's not much, but I feel good about keeping my to-do list small so I can focus on what's important. I put my blog in the backseat, and it freed me to steer my life any way I please! What have you been up to lately?

April 20, 2015

"rain, rain..."

"...let's go play!"

I found some sunny hues to chase away the rainy day blues. Now, maybe we can all sing a new tune!

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(umbrella | jacket | boots | cream)

In all seriousness, we're coming off one of the wettest weeks in recent memory. I don't know that it's been the rainiest April in history, but maybe a close runner-up. Or perhaps it just seems like it because Seth asked to play soccer this spring, and in two months he's only been able to play in two games.

Our second game was this weekend, and I have to tell you- it was quite the damp, muddy affair. It rained non-stop for nearly 36 hours prior to the game Saturday morning, and the field was a mess! It was the kind of mud that grabs hold of your shoes and sucks them deeper- total ick.

I hope May will bring dryer weather for our first season as a soccer family. Meanwhile, I think some flashy rain boots are in order (and what's not to love about a cheeky bumbershoot?). The classic yellow rain jacket and anti-frizz cream just go without saying.

We have two make-up games scheduled this week. I'm not thrilled- getting home after 8:30 pm and having to administer bath time to tired, cranky children on a school night is not my cup of tea. However, come to think of it, a cup of tea does sound like a nice remedy to the rainy day blues, too...





April 15, 2015

sweet spot.

Hello, world. Remember me? I'm perhaps the world's most inconsistent blogger. But I'm still around!

It's been a couple of quiet months since last time I appeared in your feed, but you haven't been missing much (I promise). Life has had a peaceful sameness about it recently, and I've been enjoying every bit. I wake up before dawn each morning and enjoy a few moments of quiet before getting the boys up and trekking Seth to his school. I play with Hawk and read or watch TV during his naps, then I pick Seth up from school and we spend our afternoons on chores and playing outside until dinner. Then we wind down for bed and prepare to do it all over again.

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I've spent much of my life yearning for this kind of happy, simple life- I'm filled with gratitude for having received it. Too often, when things get complicated, it's my own fault. For that reason, I've been so conscious and protective of the peacefulness. This "sweet spot" that I've found is precious. How ironic that my desire to share this simple life with you is the one thing that tends to complicate life so unnecessarily! That's why I have to step back from time to time.

I'm noticing a rhythm to the creative funk that interrupts my writing- it always seems to come in the same season. Right after the new year, and in the middle of winter- when the shadows inside our house are deeper and the cold air creeps through the drafty windowpanes, I retreat. I'm beginning to believe the creative hibernation is not only natural, but necessary.

I suspected spring would revive my desire to write and photograph and create, and it has! Maybe I'll collect some new things to blog about in the coming weeks. Keep an eye out for me on Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest in the weeks to come. XOXO!
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