Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday in October: Little Bits of Magic

It is Sunday and football is on. We have nothing planned today and I am happy for it. We will take on a few house projects and hang out as a family. I will write and we will cook dinner together. Days like this are not as common as we would like but so nice when they occur.

This fall Emaline is getting into the season, seemingly collecting baby pumpkins, painting them, placing them on the steps, and repeating the process every time it rains and the paint runs off. I love sitting with her on the deck as she focuses on putting just the right amount of blob and swirl on each little pumpkin.


And my addiction to Netflix documentaries continues. My recent favorites are Maidentrip and Hungry for Change. The second, pushed me into a smoothie kick. I really enjoy stuffing handfuls of leafy greens, carrots, and fruit into our Big Boss blender. I know I am doing something good for myself and it really does taste great! 

All of this
Becomes this.

I am most of the way through Big Magic and love it! I knew I would. Elizabeth Gilbert is one of my all time favorites. I have written about her podcast, her TedTalk, and her books. She is wise and honest and her opinions on art and creativity are so refreshing.

This book could not have come at a better time. I have been met with a very special writing opportunity and have appreciated the encouragement as I begin a new adventure. I will be able to share details with the blog very soon!

**And speaking of creative living, my awesome SIL has opened up an etsy shop! You can check out Smudge Guest Books HERE. Babies, engagements, showers, weddings, little kid birthday, personalized art. Elise is offering a special offer for Write to Simplicity readers. If you order before the end of October and mention this post, you will receive 10% off your order!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

This: This

"I must learn to love the fool in me--the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my fool."

-- Theodore Isaac Rubin

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Summer List: Recent Favorites

Emaline's favorite book of the summer.

As I mentioned, the summer has been full. When time begins to not feel like my own, it is important to find a little balance. The easiest outlet has always been to read or write. Recently, a friend of mine was on maternity leave and mentioned what a lifesaver podcasts had been for her. The next day another friend who was transitioning from grad school to work, made a similar comment. And so I started paying more attention. And I have discovered a few that I love. Long drives, mowing the lawn, Emaline's nap time. I am hooked.

And sometimes at the end of the day, all I want to do is turn on a movie. We have been watching Peep Show but sometimes I want something with a little more weight. I have found a number of incredible documentaries on Netflix.

I have been asked to send along a list, so here it is. My absolute favorites right now are:

A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Ted Radio Hour
Slow Your Home
Magic Lessons
The Tim Ferriss Show
And as always, This American Life 

On the Way to School
180 Degrees South
Austin to Boston
20 Feet From Stardom
Bill Cunningham New York

Please share your favorites in the comments section of this post!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Summer: Full House

This shall be known as the summer of hosting!

I typically feel guilt when this much time passes without showing my blog some love but this summer was full (hard to believe it's almost a year since this) and the time that I did have to write, I gave to my novel.

The house is quiet for the moment and we have fallen back into a rhythm. But as I notice the date, it seems to signify the end of summer. So I pause to take stock of my favorite season.

As a family we managed one trip to Minnesota, three trips to Cape Cod, numerous beach days, countless hours of yard work, and five (soon to be six) sets of visitors!

We have had house guests nearly nonstop since the beginning of July. As a result, everything has existed around providing a welcoming home and making the most of time together.

I am so grateful to have friends and family that are willing to take time to travel and stay with us. As I have written before, it is powerful when somebody you love is able to step into your everyday and sample your life.

It is looking at life through another lens. And it affords the opportunity to to be a tourist in my own town. It is an excuse to not waste the summer-  the best restaurants and beaches and outdoor concerts and harbor cruises and painting classes and barbecues. It allows a fall back into comfortable friendships and builds new memories.

The beds have been cleared yet again. The laundry and dishes put away. The house- reset. 

Now I write it down. 

But the heat lingers and we likely have a few more days of salt and sand before the season sneaks away. So I embrace each day and try to remember everything that we did. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Travel: Like Writing

Bruges, Belgium. 
 On a Wednesday evening a few weeks ago, Nick and I left Emaline with my parents and boarded a plane to Amsterdam. As the trip neared, I received one of two questions: "Are you excited?" or "Are you scared to leave Emaline?" I have never been good at answering questions of this type. The honest response is trickier than expected so I just say "yes."

Emaline carried my picture in her pocket the day before I came home.
I thought about not going. I allowed waves of guilt and fear to follow me around. I polled friends and family expecting somebody to tell me what I wanted to hear. I looked at my child and knew that I would not see anything in this world as wonderful as her little face. I could not imagine being away from her for six days because we are always together and I don't want to miss even a minor change. It happens so quick. But as I lifted her from my shoulder and placed her in bed, I thought about how I wanted her to see me.

I paused the fear and the judgement and just focused on her and I. And I realized that I need to give her the best version of myself. And for me, part of that is travel.

I recently read Yes Please  and the words that stick with me are, "good for you, not for me." How I parent is not the same as how you parent. How I live my life is not the same as you live your life. And that's totally cool! I need to stop trying to meet some invisible expectation. When I let go of public perception, decisions are much simpler. The answer: Travel, like writing, makes me better. The same reason that I went, might be the same reason that another parent chooses to stay.

Nick and I are both a little better after an adventure than the version of ourselves who began. We push ourselves to new places, collect experiences, and step out of routine to look at a shiny new world.

And like that, the fear settled. It did not go away, but I was able to package it up and stow it beneath my seat. I still cried on the way to the airport and I still felt a knot in my chest whenever a small child passed us on the streets of Europe. But as our train rolled through the Belgian countryside I felt light. I took in the beauty of the area and thought about telling Emaline all about this when she gets a little older.  


A real Belgian waffle
New Flemish friends in Bruges, Belgium 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Great and The Terrible: Books for Her

Emaline was not feeling well last night so we are taking it easy today. After reading a thousand books, she just fell asleep. She loves books! If she is having a moment I can almost always break her out of it by telling her to pick out any book she wants and that I will read.

A few of her favorites (that we love too) are:

  1. 10 Little Fingers and 10 Little Toes
  2. Dear Zoo
  3. How Do I Love You
  4. Brown Bear
  5. Little Owl's Night
  6. The Day the Crayons Quit
There are so many lovely, creative, thoughtful stories. 

And then there are the ones that make me shake my head. I can't take them out of rotation because she enjoys them and really that's what matters. But after reading them over and over, I have to share!

For example the popular Goodnight (Insert name of state). Terrible! The writing is dry and unimaginative. And in case you thought your state was special, buy a second state and discover the similarities. 
Minnesota on left, New Hampshire on right.

New Hampshire on left, Minnesota on right.

The people who wrote these books are genius in that they are obviously successful- But come on! Try a little! 

And I have to mention nursery rhymes. Emaline loves them! Itsy Bitsy Spider and Wheels on the Bus are her favorites but there are a few in her Real Mother Goose book that don't seem quite so classic.

What are some of your favorites? Any that drive you crazy?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

New Baby: Stuff

This summer we do not have any weddings to attend. Instead, this year is all about (other people) having babies! July and August will be filled with tiny new people! As a result, I have been promising this post for a while- to share our top 10 baby items and a few lessons learned. As I wrote about here, baby registries are tricky!

What made our life easier:

1. Monkey Bouncer: Really light and easy to move around the house.
I forget she used to be this tiny.
2. Kick Piano: I was standing in the baby aisle at Target (BK: before kids) looking for a shower gift when a woman offered her unsolicited advice, "I have three little ones, whoever you're shopping for NEEDS THIS! It saved me!" And I have to say, that woman was right.
This nap is no joke. 
3. Swing: This is where Emaline took all of her naps when she was little (aside from the few times she kicked herself to sleep at her piano). We kept it in the family room so she could be part of the action.

4.Lamby: It is something I would never have thought of on my own. It was a gift when Emaline was maybe a month old and it changed our lives for the better.
5. Nail clipper: So minor yet so important. I would even go so far as to say, pack it for the hospital.

6.Bucket seat and attachable stroller frame: I loved this set. It was so easy, I could put it all together with one hand and often had to. 

7. Bottle warmer: We held out on getting one and when we finally did, we realized how silly it was to not have it. Huge time saver. We used this and my friends liked this

8. Enormous diaper bag: So many people said to me that the diaper bag could not be big enough. And now I agree. I liked that mine wasn't an obvious diaper bag but I would go bigger next time. Skip Hop has some really great options.

9. Swaddle: This kind in fleece or cotton. Sure, yes, learn to swaddle using a regular blanket but then save your exhausted self by using cheat swaddles. 
10 .Hands free pumping bra: If you plan to pump, you need this

And one thing I'd change: We didn't have a Boppy and I wish we did. I got My Breast Friend but because Emaline was not able to breast feed, I never used it. A boppy would have been way more versatile.

DO NOT: register for clothes or blankets! I promise you will get them anyway.
DO: register for lots and lots of wipes and butt cream (tubs, not tubes) and a changing mat. I know these things aren't glamorous but there will come a day when you are grateful for your stockpile. And your baby will not outgrow!

*All of the links take you to the product on because I think their registry is the best.

**This is not a sponsored post. This is just what worked for our family. And I'd love to make this process a little easier for the next person. Every baby is different and you will learn fast and know better than anybody in the world, what works for you and your baby! Good luck!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Hard Words: What I Carry

I have to write a post. If I write one then I am able to write another and then another. I have not forgotten about my blog. I have avoided it.

My last grandparent, Nana Rice passed away in February and I knew that my next post had to address that loss and so I wrote nothing.
My Nana Rice lived her entire life on one street. Her family was very close and many of the cousins and siblings still live only a few houses away. The neighbors who were not relatives, soon became like family. My grandparents were the couple that hosted social events and included everyone. They loved traditions and big gatherings and thought nothing of throwing a last minute party.

Today is Easter. We spent it with my Mom's family, the people who are feeling her absence the most. My grandparents had four kids, 10 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. And when we are all together, we fill the room with stories, sarcasm, and laughter. It is easy to see that we are existing in a space crafted by my grandparents. And so it was nice. But it is still not easy.

My Nana was kind and generous and hilarious! Every time I was with her, she made me laugh. It was the way she observed the world. She said things in a straight forward manner and ended sentences with laughter. When she laughed, she scrunched her whole face as though she was crying. The harder she laughed, the more it appeared as though she was crying. My Mother does the same thing. It makes them look so sad when they are so joyously happy. And it makes everyone else laugh harder.

I swear she is laughing in this photo!
Her laughter was contagious and made everything feel lighter, more manageable.
The last time I saw her I asked, "How are you feeling?"
She answered, "Terrible!" But then she laughed. A sincere chuckle that made me wonder if she was actually fine or if she just knew how to find a moment for release.

I think of this small interaction often. I take so much from her. She was a woman that had it figured out: enjoy life, gather the people you care about most, raise a family that supports one another, and find laughter when nothing else can be done.

I love my family.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Simplify: Simplify

Have you ever noticed that when something is on your mind that it starts to pop up everywhere? I don't know if that is what I am experiencing or if there has actually been a shift. But it feels like simple is the new buzzword. As though advertisers, marketers, writers, bloggers, etc have a new found focus on less.

And it makes sense. In a culture that is so inundated with... well, everything- a comforting sssshhhhh seems in order. A nod to say that it is okay to slow down, to look up from your phone, to hang out with the people in front of you without responding to that text right now.

I named my blog with the hope that I would pursue simplicity. And for the first time, I am. A few months ago, I stumbled upon minimalism and was inspired. I love reading the blogs, some are too intense for me, but they all have something to offer. (You can see the ones I read if you scroll down to my favorite blogs.)  I am not a minimalist but I'm leaning in and learning more. The ideas are refreshing.

I have been going through my belongings, picking up each item and thinking about the why. We have moved twice in the past year and I am astounded what made it through the transition. Items that have been dragging along behind me, slowing me down. CDs, old books, worn clothes, extra sets, abandoned electronics. It takes time to clear away and to decide. Sometimes I come back to something two or three times, to dig a little deeper- donate, sell, give away

It is nice to shed the weight, the stuff. I watch it fall away and once gone, it is forgotten. I do not regret anything that I let go. It is not easy but it is addicting and liberating! I am clearing space to discover what is useful and beautiful.

This doesn't mean I won't buy things or that our walls will be empty. It does mean that my purchases will be intentional. And Emaline's stuff has mostly been untouched. Her closet, toy boxes, and bookshelves remain full. If she uses it, it has a place.

In doing this, I feel closer to creating the home that is right for my family.

Less to clean, organize, wash, fold. Less looking for misplaced items. Fewer boxes, fewer distractions. More reading to Emaline, more chances to write. More time with the people I love.

Previous entries on Simplicity.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

New Home: First Christmas

December swept by with such force that I have just now caught my breath. I wrote this post on December 8th and never pressed publish. The holidays are always busy but with Nick travelling for work and us travelling for Christmas, we reached new speed. So in an effort to remember, I am posting now without change to my previously written words.

We spent this weekend getting our new house Christmas ready. On Saturday, we bundled Emaline in a tiny sleeping bag and took her on her first wagon ride. We pulled our all-terrain Radio Flyer down the street to a local flower shop and bought a Christmas tree.

On previous years, my choosing method was to find the fattest tree that I could find. It has not always worked out well. This year I picked one that is skinny but full. It is the best tree we have had in years! For the walk home, I carried the baby sack and Nick pulled the tree which had been tied to the wagon. If only Norman Rockwell could have seen us!

That night my parents came to spend the night. I have heard that the Portsmouth tree lighting is the best day of the year and I was so excited to check it out. unfortunately, the lighting and holiday parade were cancelled because of rain. So we went out for a nice dinner and then came home to decorate the tree, listen to Christmas music, and sip Bailey's on ice. It was great. My Mom also gave me a lesson on putting on Christmas lights. Her tips:

1. Start at the top
2. Hang the lights loose and away from the trunk
3. Step back often and fuzz your eyes to check spacing

Now to finish shopping and get some present under the tree. Merry Christmas!

Did you miss these holiday posts?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Year: One Word

A few weeks ago, I told Nick about an author who intentionally lives each year carrying a one word theme. Growth. Change. Fun.

Nick caught me off guard today by asking if I chose my word. It was an interesting idea but I hadn't intended to pick a word. Usually I am able to identify themes only in hindsight, after the surprise twists of time begin to make sense. But as he asked me, the word rolled forward as though called upon and letters bolded in my mind.


A little bit more and a little bit less of all of the parts of my life that matter. I walk a tightrope carrying all of the things that I hold dear. It is easy to forget to look up, to lose my footing, to not stop for a breath. Balance.

Happy 2015. May you find your word, whether you know it or not.  

Also, I keep thinking about this post from a few years ago and this one as well.