Breathe, focus, calm, trust… These are the words I speak to myself almost daily. As if someone actually needs to be reminded to breathe but I do. I gently strum my fingers on the desk, close my eyes, think of my sweet husband and babies looking up at me with pure love, and whisper… breathe, focus, calm, trust… Some days are easier than others and some I’d rather stay in bed with a blanket over my head.
But I don’t. I choose life. I choose to make the most of everyday or at least try to. Is it hard? Absolutely. But I know it’s worth it. Every pain. Every fear. Every time I think that I just can’t. I persist. Keep moving ahead. Keep going. One step at a time.
Breathe, focus, calm, trust.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
My first blog post… I have so much to share that I literally am speechless for probably the first time in my life.
I’ve been thinking about writing this 1st post for the last couple days now. I wanted something that would capture my audience. Something worth saying. Something that people would read and be able to chew on it for days. Turns out, I came up with nada. Zip. Zilch. Not a single thought came to my mind. Other than we are low on popcorn and junior mints, my vice.
However, this morning I posted a sweet picture on Instagram of my son, Rhett, gazing at me and I wanted to put a quote about little boys to go with it. So, like most people I came up with one on my own looked to Pinterest and searched, “Quotes about boys.” Silly me, I thought my results would include sayings of hopes, dreams, mud on boots, hard work, commitment, and love. No, no, no. Instead, the first twenty or so results were mostly about how boys hurt girls. Manipulative, hurtful, and breaking hearts. So, I then searched the same thing again except replaced boys for girls and my results were MUCH different. They were about inner beauty, loving oneself, confidence, and dreams.
As a mother of both genders I found myself feeling just absolutely hurt. How has it come to this? That in order to boost one gender we have to put down another? I want all three of my kids to learn self confidence, inner beauty, how to love and be kind to one another. It would be an injustice to only teach this to my little girl. My boys also need to know the importance of self-worth and believing in oneself. I want my kids to grow up to their full potential with a heart that beats for others and a mind full of wisdom. I want them to reach for the stars and know that I’ll always be there for them. I want my daughter to learn independence but also know how to receive help. I want my boys to learn how to treat a woman like a gentleman but also to know when they are being walked on. I want so much for my kids that I’m probably asking for too much but mostly, I just want them to have the same opportunities without preconceived notions because of their gender.
*Note – I have NOTHING against Pinterest. I’ll be getting my recipe for supper from there. This topic is just something that is heavy on my heart. All opinions are mine.
Sundays are our family days so today I decided to make cookies with Hay and Rhett. Cookies have a way of bringing back memories, usually fond ones. For me, it’s memories of my Great Grandma Edith. She always had two things: WRIGLEYS Spearmint gum and a cookie jar full of snicker doodles.
She made the best snicker doodles. They were perfect in every way. The perfect size, consistency, and irresistible taste. When I was young I thought my great gram was the only one that baked snicker doodle cookies. Turns out that simply wasn’t so… But she did make the best.
I have never been great at making cookies. Anyone in my freshman home economics class can confirm this. Today was no exception. Before I set out to make them I searched for an easy no fail chocolate chip cookie recipe. Once found, I read the directions, read them again, then once more just to be certain that we had it right. Combine the dry ingredients, mix the wet in a separate bowl, add the eggs, then gradually combine the dry with the wet. Easy. Hay and I then scooped out little balls of dough onto sheets and carefully placed them in the oven. Then we waited.
After nine minutes of pure anticipation, I pulled them out and let’s just say… my dreams of the perfect cookie fell… flat. They looked like cow pies. How appetizing. Right? They were anything but perfect. I went over the recipe three times! I meticulously measured each ingredient! How could this happen?
Hailey saw the obvious look of disappointment on my face and did what she always does. My 6 year old taught me a lesson. My sweet girl dunked her cookie in ice cold milk and took a bite. She looked at me and said, “they taste pretty good so it doesn’t matter what they look like. You made them with us. You made them with a lot of love and that’swhat matters, mom.”
I’ve had a lot of snicker doodles in my life. A lot of grams but also other versions. Honestly, great grams are still the best. Maybe not so much because of the taste but because of all the love that went into each and every batch. Can I make cookies like gram? Not a chance… but I can match the love that went into them.
I know, some of you may be thinking I’m nuts for even mentioning that Christmas is in 150 days (who’s counting?) but hear me out. I start planning for Christmas around this time of year for a couple reasons.
1) I like to think I have it altogether all the time and this helps me control that
2) I don’t have to spend a bunch of money all at once
3) I can spend more time thinking about people individually and giving with intention
But the biggest reason why I start working on Christmas in July… my Christmas cards.
I love picking out the perfect Christmas card. I usually use Shutterfly at shutterfly.com and start my search about this time of year. Part of my reason for doing so is because of the time it takes me to write out my envelopes. I don’t know about you but the prettier the envelope, the more excited I am to open it. It takes thought, effort, and a whole lot of love that goes into those things so I want them to be as close to perfect as possible.
Another reason I go with Shutterfly is they send out promotion codes for 10 free cards every now and then and that’s how I ended up with free Christmas cards last year! FREE! I sent out 60 cards which equated to roughly $20 in shipping. That’s a whole ton of savings for a product you and your recipients will enjoy for years to come.
How many of you Mamas had well intentions of writing letters to your children as they grow? How many planned to write to them with each milestone, birthday, or maybe even on a monthly basis? Now, how many of you have stuck with it?
When I became a mother I had every intention to write to my children several times a year, and I did! With the first child… The other two, not so much. I kept a journal for Hailey and wrote in it sometimes daily. It’s full of sweet anecdotes about her first sounds, sniffles, and cries. You’ll read about her first words, first steps, and her very first tooth. When reading it, it’s almost as if you’re right there in the story… That all ended when we had Rhett. Then everything changed. Not only did I have two children to care for but we moved and keeping track of journals and then journaling itself just seemed impossible. Just as I was getting settled into having two children, we had Grady. All hell broke loose after that.
So, instead of trying to keep track of more stuff, I setup email addresses for my kids. Sure, they aren’t going to have a memento of my handwriting and it is a bit less personal but what a great tool! Doesn’t take up any space and it is so easy to type up a quick message. In this day and age, this just makes sense. I created an address specific to each of them and have saved their passwords to give them when they graduate high school. It’s not only letters that I send them but pictures as well! This is really a great option for anyone that wants to remember those precious moments. Little sayings that they come up with or short stories about their day. Sometimes I write to Hailey after we have an argument. Not necessarily to document the disagreement but to remind myself that this too shall pass. Rhett’s vocabulary is ever expanding so I like to quickly type up a list of his new words or phrases. Grady, too, is learning so much and his little world is becoming so much bigger. It’s fun to jot down these memories so we can look back on them years down the road.
What are some things you do that could make documenting the little things easier?
Months ago my husband had decided that we needed to take a little vacation just him and I. We haven’t done that since our honeymoon, nearly seven years ago and we needed a recharge. We didn’t want to be too far away from the kids but wanted to be far enough away that we wouldn’t chicken out and come home early. I scoured the web for the most fair and reasonably priced room rates and also looked into what the area had to offer us. That’s when I came upon Dayton, WA.
We did our booking through booking.com and settled on the Best Western Plus. I chose this place for a couple reasons mainly the price was the driving factor but the amenities were really nice too. We booked the king suite for a two night stay which included a large breakfast, microwave, fridge, keurig, couch, and an array of toiletries. The hotel was built in the last five years and has been kept up quite nicely.
The drive to Dayton took about 2 1/2 hours and once we got there we went straight to the Historic Depot Museum. This place was great because it was free, informative, and totally cool! When you first walk in you’re faced with beautiful architecture that you can’t help but notice. Near the front door they have this little safe that was pretty sophisticated for its time. We also got to try opening the inner part of the safe since they don’t have the combination (turns out we didn’t either, darn!). The upstairs of the Depot was used as living quarters and it was full of period appliances, knick knacks, and furnishings. The thing that stuck out most in my mind was an old washer and with it was instructions on how women would do laundry day. Those women had to be seriously buff in order to just do laundry! Gloves off to them, now I’m going to lift some weights eat more pizza (let’s be honest). 😉
After the Depot, we headed to The Boldman House. This house was restored to its original (1912) condition and all of the furnishings in it were actually found in the house and belonged to the Boldman family. It was like walking through a time capsule. This family literally kept everything… receipts, magazines, letters, newspaper clippings, whole newspapers, clothing, kitchen utensils, furnishings… the list is endless. They had so much stuff that some of it was also on display at the Depot Museum. It was truly remarkable to see and one that I will take my kids to see, eventually. You know, when they won’t be as tempted to touch things.
***It’s important to note that while both the Depot and Boldman House tours were free, they are not free from expenses. They need our donations so please consider a donation if you loved what you saw.
For dinner we decided on Chief Spring’s Fire & Irons Brew Pub located on Main Street. It was fantastic! We had fajita pizza and was hands down the best pizza my husband or I had ever had. To wash down the pizza we had one of their home brews, The Fire Line, which was definitely one of our all time faves. Great place to go out with friends, date night, or even to take your family. Fun atmosphere, good service, and great food! I would definitely recommend this place.
The next day we went to Walla Walla, WA and explored the Fort Walla Walla Museum. The place sits atop a hill and shows off a pioneer village, small vineyard, horse era agriculture, and military exhibits. Sam and I spent at least three hours looking through everything. We’ve gone on a number of tours with entry fees where you felt like you didn’t get anything for your money but this one certainly doesn’t go on that list. The pioneer village was probably my favorite part while the agriculture exhibit was more Sam’s thing. All in all though, there is something for everyone and it truly doesn’t disappoint.
On our way back to Dayton we stopped in Waitsburg and found two little whole in the wall antique shops. Again, there was something for everyone, old and young! We were hoping to get to tour the Bruce House but it wasn’t open so we’ll probably come back for that just on a day trip. We had dinner at the Whiskey Canyon Sports Bar & Grill… seriously delicious! I had a locally brewed IPA with the biggest club sandwich I had ever seen! My eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach but that was okay because, leftovers!
We both had so much fun on this mini vacation and can’t wait to find another little historic town to visit. While we missed our kids, it was definitely nice to just be able to focus on us for a few days. If you’re looking to relax, rejuvenate, and do some exploring, Dayton is a fine place to visit.
Every year we go camping with my husband’s side of the family down in Clarkia, ID. This beautiful property is our oasis away from all the crazy and stress of our everyday lives. No phones and no television. We can connect to one another on a personal level without feeling like we have something else to do… Laundry, dishes, catch up on email… Anything and everything except just relax and truly connect with other humans. This is our happy.
This year, we invited our best friends to go with us! They have four kids ranging in age from 1 to 7. It was nice for each of our kids to have playmates and to also spend time more quality time with our good friends. Needless to say, I think they’ll be our friends for life because they’ve seen our zen and fell in love with it too.
Hailey likes is obsessed with American Ninja Warrior and is constantly scouting out obstacles to climb, run, or jump on in preparation for her turn on the course. Midway up the climb to Freeze Out, we stopped at the perfect spot for a photo, and Hailey thought it was also the perfect rocks to climb on. I didn’t think they were perfect but that’s my sense talking. It was actually quite dangerous as there was a significant drop off the end. Anyway, we made it to the top and Hailey had a blast running and climbing up the hillside. The view was spectacular and it was enjoyed by everyone.
Rhett is a little more timid than his older sister. He seems to be able to scout out a dangerous situation and warn the others ahead of time. (He’s just like his father.) I was surprised and pleased when he sat on the rocks for me but I know he was a little hesitant in doing so. He took a seat and didn’t budge until his Daddy picked him up. Smart boy. He too enjoyed Freeze Out and all it had to offer. He even got brave and climbed the hillside with his sister and friends. I think what he loved the most was that on one side was a field of flowers and on the other, there was SNOW! Sam went down and collected snow balls for all the kids and they had a little snow ball fight. In July. When it was 95 degrees. How cool is that?! Just another one of those perks of this area that we love so much.
Grady would hardly sit still for me to get a picture and there was NO WAY I was going to let him sit on those rocks for a photo op. He’s a go getter and hasn’t quite figured out yet that he’s not invincible. I’m hoping that gets better with age but we’ll see. Grady truly enjoyed all the dirt, snow, and flowers all around him. First thing he did was put his butt in the dirt and covered himself head to toe in it. No shame either. Laughing, smiling, and squealing with delight as the dirt swarmed him and covered every inch of his chubby little self. His eyes twinkled with wonder and amazement, almost as if it was his first time experiencing such joy.
We love this simple life. We don’t have the best of anything but we do surround ourselves with kind, smart, and truly wonderful people. And that makes all the difference. I challenge you, turn off your phone and curl up with a book or run in the sprinkler with your kids. Go a couple days not being connected to electronics to truly recharge your soul. It made a difference in my life, it can in yours too.