Sunday, June 18, 2017

Summer Sunday

It's Sunday at 4:45 and I just sent all three kids up to their rooms. That's after I dragged Felix across the yard and scolded Louise for unhooking Bluebelle before she got to the house and telling Ainsley that NO! Right now is NOT a good time to make hair bows with hot glue!  And it's not even Monday.

I'm grappling a lot lately with why this all still feels so hard so often. It's also super not helpful when parents of older kids tell me that it never gets easier, just harder in different ways.  Not what anyone needs to hear even if I know it's true.

It's hitting me like a ton of bricks that a lot of what makes it hard is me.  I'm having a hard time letting them go.  Whenever they are out biking or at a friends house I'm worried.  I'm getting some babysitters for the first time ever this summer and I'm worried about leaving them in someone elses care.  I have a hard time relinquishing control but I feel so out of control anyways.  It's a hard place to be.

This summer I'm trying hard to just let things be.  We got some workbooks that the kids love which helps occupy some of those "what to do now" hours of the afternoon.  We're finding new beaches and parks and I'm utilizing audio books for the first time so we can just cruise around town with the puppy and get her used to the car for the trips up north coming soon.  I spent about 5 minutes on pinterest today and have some fun ideas for new crafts.  I'm desperately trying to figure out how to get the treehouse finished, but I'm able to get about 3 cuts and 4 screws in before I'm needed and that's been a bummer.  Plus Ian leaves for a week for a fishing trip soon and then I'm really in survival mode.  Thankfully the girls are also in camp all week next week so it's just Felix and I.  I know we'll all make it.  I just wish it felt like we were thriving more.

Today I'm excited for our first full week of summer without any camps or activities.  Tomorrow we have a new babysitter coming over so I'm excited to get groceries ALONE!  I'm excited for a beach morning or two, bike rides with the kids and runs with Bluebelle, making salads with all the lettuce that's in the garden, cousins, parks, playdates.  It's blissfully easy to fill a day, that doesn't mean they still don't feel long sometimes!

Hope everyone is having a great start to their summer!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


One way I pay homage to that half of a double major I got in English is to constantly be looking up and reading books.

I find such comfort in turning to books.  Ian and I have been known to read a few parenting books when things get rough.  I so love searching for books for each stages of life for my chidren.  Now that my girls are growing and can both read on their own it's a whole new world of book searching.  I can search all I want but it's what they like that they are drawn to.  I'm still finding some winner, some new personal favorite too.  I thought I'd share because there is SO MUCH out there.

Adult Novels

The Woman in Cabin 10  - this caught my eye at the bookshop so I snagged it.  It's a great page turner, thrilling, an escape.  All the things I like in a good get me back into reading book.

The Baker's Secret - I love historical fiction about WWII and this one didn't disappoint. I like that it was from the perspective of a young incredibly resilient woman. The characters were memorable and the plot was original.

Delicious - I LOVED this book. If I could live another life it would be the main character's of this book.  Living in NYC, working for a food magazine.  BUT! There's a dark secret.  Wonderful characters, touching, picturesque.  Loved it.

The Kitchen House-I'm pretty sure I found this one at the thrift shop.  Another historical fiction that gripped me.  The characters drew me in and the story was so sad and profound.  It's rare I get through a book this long these days! It was worth it!

Cook/Craft Books

Keepers - I got this from the library and ended up buying it because I wanted to make everything in it.  It's geared towards people who cook for their families every night.  Bing! So good.

The Best Homemade Kids Lunches on the Planet- I bought this at the end of the year (of course!) but was so inspired by the simple ideas it has.  The kids were getting so bored of sandwiches (and I of making them).  This has some really fresh great ideas. (the biggest hit at the end of the year were the ham and cheese puff pastry wheels and make your own parfaits)

Knitbot Essentials - I got this book for my birthday and am SO excited to have a book of things to knit for me! I want to make everything!

Martha Stewarts Craft Book for Kids - Ainsley grabbed this from the library and it's fantastic.  Fresh hands on ideas that kids can make on their own.  Great easy things like popsicle stick villages and experiments.

Great Things To Do Outside - I mentioned this one on facebook.  I love that this kids can use it on their own easily and the ideas are so accessible and realistic for tired parents to execute in the summer.

The Who Was/Is Series - Louise is slowly working her way through all of these.  We started with Sacajawea, then Beatrix Potter and Julia Child and Helen Keller and Abraham Lincoln.  Now she has Andy Warhol and Anne Frank (which we may wait on!).  She gets 2 or 3 at the library each time.  Great informative age appropriate biographies.

The Magical Animal Adoption Agency - One of our favorite series.  The girls (and I) hope they write more!

Illustrated Harry Potters - I cheated and read them book 3 two even though they are coming out with the illustrated version this fall.  I LOVE them so much and since I don't have my own copies anymore this has been a nice way to rebuild my collection.

The Saturdays (Melendy Quartet Series) - We are only on book 1 but I know we'll be reading the lot.  An older series about a family of 4 children living in a Brownstone in New York right before WWII.  They realize they never have enough allowance money to do anything they want to do so they decide to combine their money each week and do one big awesome thing all together.  As a direct result of this book Ainsley and Louise did just that to buy a shared Kitty toy that you can feed and walk.  I can't wait to read the rest.

Half Magic - a classic I read to the girls a while ago.  They loved it!

Wellie Wishers Books - Another new favorite of Louise's.  These books are perfect for her age and the pictures and stories are cute.

Irene Haas - one of my FAVORITE authors and illustrators.  Her stories are so sweet and whimsical.  Too bad so many are out of print.  I'm glad our library has some.

10 Little Ninjas - The kids new favorite bedtime book.  A cute twist on 5 little monkey jumping on the bed.

5 Minute Stories - We started with the comic book superheroes and Star Wars and now have the Pixar and the Snuggle stories.  They are great before bed and to take on trips and the kids love them. Win win win.

You Read to Me, I'll Read To You- Ainsley still loves reading these with me.  Such a clever idea by the author to have a book meant to be read with someone else.  The girls have both loved these for reading aloud together.

The Barefoot Book of Faeries - Ainsley is still very much a believer of Fairies and this book is so perfect for her age.  It talks about the history of fairies in literature and gives some great background and sweet stories.

Patricia Polacco - I doubt the girls will every truly grow out of picture books (I never have!) thanks in large part to this author and illustrator.  Her longer beautifully illustrated books are so perfect for this middle elementary age.  Many are about tough topics, written about carefully and accessibly for children.

26 Fairmont Avenue - This is an autobiographical series by Tomie DePaola about his childhood.  It's one of the girls favorites and we've read almost all of them.  We can read one in one sitting if we give ourselves the time and they love anything by Mr. DePaola.

I'll add more or make another post when I have enough new books.  I'm sure I'm missing lots but this feels like a good start.  Yay books!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Not Thinking, Not Planning, Just Doing.

This is the longest break I've ever taken from posting.  Notice how I didn't say writing?!  I still write a lot, in un posted posts, in numerous small adorable notebooks, on the backs of receipts or discarded childrens' art.  I write! But share? not as much.

So much has happened since March.  We went to Florida for two whole weeks.  I planted an epic veggie garden.  Felix learned to swim.  The girls learned two piano recital pieces each.  We adopted a puppy.  I'm building a tree house!

If I think back to life even two years ago, it feels like miles and miles from here.  A new-ish mom to three, wondering if our dreams of settling down in Minnesota weren't to be, deep in a free fall of love with the village we'd found, in so much need of help, not knowing how to ask.

We're here! Where I always wanted, and it's still strange and hard and weird and at the same time so perfect and beautiful.  I'm still not used to our perfect house and plot.  I pinch myself when I take Bluebelle for running walks with Felix on his bike after walking the girls to the bus.  How is this all real?

Then my kids pull me back.  I'm in the final moments of them wanting me all the time and I know that so acutely.  Ainsley would go to college tomorrow if it were an option.  She pushes at every boundary we set, always has.  To think of her going to middle school, getting her drivers license, going away to school, it's closer than I think, but I know it's there, and I'm holding onto now with her with both hands.

We had our 10 year college reunion last weekend and it was nothing short of perfection.  I hope my children all find a place that they love as much as Ian and I love St Olaf.   For people who didn't go to a crazy small rural school, well, I just can't help them see it, but it was unique and special and exactly where we were meant to be.  I'll never forget meeting Ian.  His slightly gangly gait walking down to town for the Jesse James days festival.  My nervous boisterous too much too fast talking.  I just knew.  So early on I knew.  It'll be 10 years married with the man I never knew was in my dreams all along this August.  Almost 14 years together.  It's not always been easy, but it's pretty damn easy to love that man.  He just gets better (though I'm pretty sure I get harder). But he still loves me.  Do you see what I mean??!!!

I started this post with the title which is not typical for me.  It's my new motto.  Remember all that writing I said I do? It's lots of lists too.  Lists of things I want to do and make and ways I want to be.  This summer I just want to DO.  I want to look outside and see what the sky says.  Is it a beach day?  Is it a bike riding to the library morning?  Is it a decorate the inside of the treehouse day? (because there WILL be an inside of the treehouse asap, hence all the doing).  I know myself better than I ever have.  When I get in a doing mode I can do so much.  When I'm paralyzed with the plans I can sink for a bit in the possibilities.  Just do.  Look in your children's eyes and let the day unfold.

I am sad to see the school year end for Louise and Felix, happy for Ainsley.  Happy for all of us that we get to be together and for three months I get to relive the best days of my life; being at home with my kids, being their teacher, caretaker, activities director, always mom.  I feel so lucky to have us 5 that most days are all that each other needs.  In a world that moves so fast and requires so much, it's nice to remember that.  These (more than) four walls, my gardens, my hands, my people, they are all I really need.

To a beautiful, not too planned, DOING summer.  Here here!