Tuesday, December 31, 2013

52/52

A portrait of my kids every week for 52 weeks.

Dear Audrey and Henry,

Watching you grow over this past year, through both the photos shared in this space and the time I've spent with you, has been a beautiful privilege. So often the days seem to run together, and so easily they slip by, their uniqueness unnoticed for their ordinary camouflage. I know one day I'll lift my head from these days and realize they've changed all together, and the things we all so take for granted today will be things of the past.

The reason why I joined this project (albeit 2 weeks late) was to try just a little bit harder to record these early, fleeting moments of your childhood- for us all. In doing so, I was able to find a smile on days when there was overwhelming struggle, a laugh on days when there were too many tears, a connection when we were feeling pulled and tugged every-which-way, and a way to reach out and save a few extra moments in these Good Old Days.

My wish is that some day you both will look back and remember special things from these photos and find those smiles, laughs, and connections again, and remember how much you were loved then, now, and forever after.

Love,
Mama


Monday, December 30, 2013

Right Now



Right now, I'm loving a weekend that saw...

...kids and grown-ups occupied by new toys and treasures for hours.
...a quick trip down to one last family Christmas celebration, a ride on a tractor for a boy on cloud nine, a night with Grammy and Gramps, and blueberry pancakes for breakfast.
...another cold front, extra layers at bed time, and hot tea every evening.
...the introduction of the kiddos to Robin Hood, with olives and popcorn on the side.
...a growing grocery list with a correspondingly ambitious menu plan, thanks to the inspiration from some new cookbooks.
...my chicken coop working its way into 'future project' conversations.
...fires in fireplaces, fires in fire pits, and candle light all around.

Right now, we are slipping slowly from holiday mode into recovery mode. Some of our decorations will come down today, some grocery shopping will be done (we must!), and for the love of all that's good, some laundry better make it's way through the system, too.

This good ol' year is winding down, and as we also wind down from our festivities and celebrations, may we stay balanced with our feet firmly planted in the present.

Happy Monday.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

51/52


A portrait of my kids every week for 52 weeks.

Audrey in this past years' Easter dress and new short 'do.
Henry completely absorbed in play, not even aware of my camera (or me).

Monday, December 23, 2013

Right Now




Right now, we're soaking up all that is merry and bright. A joyful Solstice, merry Christmas, and happy winter to all. Oh, and have a good, merry, and bright Monday, too.

Friday, December 20, 2013

This Moment

Playing along with Amanda today... in her words: 

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Gettin' It All Done




I could take a moment to complain about all the things that were on my to-do lists this week, but with help like this, how could I? We're gettin' it all done, and having a good time of it, too!

So let me see... errands run? Yep! Gifts all wrapped? Yes! ...well, except for one rebel that's still in transit via UPS, but I have confidence it'll make it. House cleaned? Mostly! Baking all done? I hope not, because this was fun.

AND they say it'll be somewhere around 70 degrees today. I have nothing to complain about! Aren't I a sickening optimist today?

Come up for air this week, folks, and don't let the time get lost in the preparation of it all! Have a good one!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

50/52


A portrait of my kids every week for 52 weeks.

Walking to the mailbox, we find woolies crawling out from underneath thawing leaves.
Audrey is content to hold one for the sake of a photo, then let it go.
Henry will hold his- tightly- until there's nothing left of it to hold.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Right Now



Right now, I'm...

...struggling to maintain a balance between demanding to-do lists and my ultimate desire for simplicity.
...finding myself in a weird moment of, "I can't believe I'm already done with that..." and, "I can't believe I haven't even started that!" Um, and have we really started the last week before Christmas?
...feeling frustrated about a special gift for a special girl that came in the mail, broken. Is there even enough time for it to be returned and a replacement sent? Ugh.
...wondering how many types of cookies I could realistically make- and eat, and give away- in the next few days... 'cause I've been known to go a little overboard... there's just so many good ones!
...enjoying the process of making a few little extra things to top off gifts for friends and family, and the meditative process of putting them together in quiet moments here and there.
...expecting a gradual warm up that's supposed to come this week before the next crazy cold snap (arriving this weekend, just in time for all those travelers!), and planning to spend as much time outside as possible to soak it all in.
...looking around and seeing 10,000 little and big messes, and hoping they can all be managed in one go of it.
...anticipating a few little outings here and there that will serve to pull our heads above the water line of the Yule Tide.
...loving the building excitement in my kiddos who- this year more than any other so far- are actually understanding and anticipating the oncoming holiday festivities.

Right now I am at the grindstone, like so many others, doing what needs to be done to bring on the holidays. I am determined to get it all gathered, made, wrapped, cleaned, packed, and prepped, and at the same time come up for fresh air and keep my eyes open to these fleeting moments.

I can. I will. So can you.

Let's do this!

Happy Monday.

Friday, December 13, 2013

This Moment

Playing along with Amanda today... in her words: 

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday Link Love 2013

Aaaah, are we really half way to Christmas Eve already?

I swear this year the time seems super-charged, speeding by daily even faster than before. There are moments when I feel like the days are zooming away from me and I am sitting in stillness watching them. When I have moments when I look up and become aware of it, I get a feeling of vertigo in my heart.

Is this really the last year I'll celebrate Christmas with my baby before "Christmas break" will become a factor in the process? *sniff*

OK, shake it off, shake it off... the last thing I need is to be sitting in stillness and gloom. So... let's shift the focus, shall we?

How's the holiday decking, prepping, and shopping coming along?

I'm sure everyone who knows me- either in person or through this space- knows how I feel about the commercial focus on the winter holidays that seems to be unavoidable these days. I believe that we are robbing ourselves of something truly meaningful and special when we let the pressures and expectations of the gifting portion of the season rule. Easier said than done, I know, but if we all take just a tiny half-baby-step out of the mainstream every year, we might actually make a shift of focus happen, don't you think?

I mean, honestly, be fair: the logistics, the meals, the family dynamics... they all deserve their turn at burdening you, too! (ha!)

All kidding aside, though, wherever you are in your planning and such, I'd like to offer this quote that I found inspiring, from the editor of taproot and a blogger I much admire:

"Each year, we have the choice to reclaim these yearly celebrations. These long-held rituals and holy days can be what we want for them to be. When the holiday blur stars to appear, when I find myself counting down the days and making another holiday to-do list, I try to remember this. Simple and special. We can create days of celebration to reflect the way we live, and the ways we'd like to be. It's about how we want our precious family days to be spent, how we choose to live, love and share together, without breaking us down with stresses and deadlines and broken budgets, or fretting the days away. The effort we extend to those around us as we celebrate these days can lift our collective spirits, and honor the very hearth and homes that nurture us all year long." ~Amanda Soule

So well said, don't you think? I've carried this sentiment with me every year, and even though I too have to take baby steps in the direction I'd ultimately love to stride in, I feel like every little handmade thing, every moment spent with mind cleared and family encircled, and every decision made consciously and deliberately inches us closer to that ultimate goal: simple and special.





I am not, however, anywhere close to being free of to-do lists and pressures. (Were you picturing me frolicking in a winter wonderland with hair flowing, birds singing, and my children prancing around me in perfect harmony?) I have, however, found a few things that seem like they might make me feel a little closer to it (the free of pressures part, not the frolicking part).

Need a little extra inspiration? Here's what I'm appreciating so far this season:

This fabric has inspired tons of homemade gifts, gift tags, and ornaments. Love it.
These markers have also enabled some cool crafts and projects that will be gifted this year.
A favorite standby for friends and family of all ages is this tutorial, and the possibilities are endless!
I'm also a huge fan of consumable gifts, and in the past we've found hits with both sweet and savory options.

Already wrapping? Try these too-cute free printable labels!
Save a little money and think outside the box for wrapping paper.

And- of course- for some gift ideas with a capital 'G,' many of the ideas in past link love posts are still good ones; for women in your life revisit this post, for men, this one, and of course there's always the tried-and-true still-good stuff here.

However you approach this creature that is the winter holidays, do it with conviction that they will be what you make of them. So ask yourself: What do you want them to be?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Winter Around Here




We're still surrounded by winter around here. 'Sleetocalypse 2013'- as it's been dubbed- did a number on our neighborhood, and we're still dealing with it. Aside from the slippery stint into town this past weekend to get our tree, the kids and I haven't been out of the house since last Wednesday.

Yikes.

It's not that I'm worried that I can't navigate what may remain on the streets in town, it's that I'm worried about others out on the streets in town who may not be able to navigate. Let's face it: Texans (in general) don't drive well in extreme weather conditions. However, I think today is the day for us to attempt it. Besides, we're getting low on milk, and Mama can't have her coffee if we run out of milk. The conditions at home might just get extreme.

Side note: I am realizing I wear the pants in the above photo a lot. Please know they do make it through the laundry, I do get dressed every day, and I do wear other things...

The quiet days at home since we were iced in have provided time for us to finally complete our holiday decorating, wrap a few presents, write up our holiday cards to friends and family (though they still sit on the counter, waiting to be carried to the mailbox), and do some elfie crafting. Aaahhhhhhh.

I do so love our time together here at home... and I also love an opportunity here and there to get out. So today, here's to being out in It, even though It still looks like winter around here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Monday, December 9, 2013

Right Now








Right now, our stockings are hung, our halls are decked, and aside from a few little decor projects and the repair of our beloved tree topper, our evergreen is trimmed and shining.

We braved the 7"+ of sleet crusted over everything to get out this weekend and procure our tree. I regretted the decision as we were fishtailing through town, but once back home it felt good. Good to start a fire, open up our carefully packed bins, and heat up some wassail. Good to watch the kiddos fill with wonder at the sight of each handmade, special ornament. Good to let our first Christmas in our new house expand into all the corners of our living spaces.

Right now, I'm still loving the fresh feeling of the winter holidays, and the special ways we choose to pay tribute to the new and the old.

This week, may we all appreciate the stories, the symbols, and the why behind the because, may the roads finally thaw and clear, and may we all have a happy Monday!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Weekending















I hear a lot of dread-talk about this sleet storm we've had, but folks, truly it is a wonderland out there, if only you look through the right frame of view.

Happy weekending.