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Fall 2015: What Autumn Looks Like Around Here

Fact: activities with children never go like you think they will. This statement sums up Autumn with my children thus far. My only comfort is this phrase: “I tried.” Here is a foray into our Fall-ish activities.

First, we went apple picking. It was a gorgeous, September day in the Carolinas, which means it was almost 90 degrees. We picked apples in shorts and t-shirts, and it was a glorious experience.

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It’s too bad the actual apple picking only takes about 30 minutes. Here’s how everyone looked on the walk back from the orchard.

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They perked up when they saw the play area. I had to laugh when they spent the majority of their time playing in the massive sand box.

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What can I say? The kids and I are beach people, much to my husband’s chagrin. (We like the mountains, too! But we loooove the beach). We bought our apples, ate delicious apple donuts, and took the wrong road home that added thirty minutes extra to our trip.

On to more fall fun! We live near a zoo, and fall is always a great time to make a visit. It’s awesome that we have such a wonderful zoo. It’s sad that I hate going there. I love the first ten minutes when we look at the actual animals. But after that…oh, after that…all the kids want to do is CLIMB. ON. EVERYTHING. Rocks, fences, statues, everything. For the love of all that is educational, can we please show some interest in these incredible animals? I mean, there is a real live tiger right on the other side of this ditch! But, no. We’re just looking for the next “pay all your money for this awesome ride” carousel or tiny train. This must be simply the way it goes when children go to the zoo twelve times by the time they’re three years old. So. The zoo was delightful in and of itself, and yet no fun at all. Except for our toddler actually enjoyed watching the animals. Therefore, she gets to be in the zoo picture.

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On to the next fall activity! I decided to do this craft because the end result looked pretty cool and I knew Ella would love it because glitter. This one actually turned out be a fairly sweet experience with the children. Maybe because it was only twenty minutes long? We painted some fabric leaves with craft glue, sprinkled it with different colors of glitter, and it was done. Their enthusiasm was catching. Each child became quite industrious and quiet for the duration of this craft. It was miraculous. Also, the fact that nothing picks glitter up off of a hardwood floor is rather miraculous. We had glitter in our dinner that night. It was delicious.

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This week, we’re going to the park with our MOPS group to paint pumpkins. Let’s hope the experience is on the “meets expectations” side of the spectrum instead of “total disaster.” Either way, one thing is sure. Fall with children is always an adventure!

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The “No” Week: Saying No In Order to Say Yes

When I wrote about a need for blank space at the beginning of the year, I wasn’t exactly referring to blanks space here on the blog…but my blank space got misplaced. Chaos is a tough adversary. It wreaks havoc in our minds and our relationships and it hates smooth, clean surfaces and lovely, empty calendars.

At the end of last week I realized just how ‘off’ I had gotten from the course I set for the year. There had been some clues before, like my desk turning into one giant pile, and my e-mail inbox ever lengthening. I hadn’t read a book in over a week. (This is an eternity for me). A more painful clue was the resentment towards me steaming off my five-year-old’s head. I couldn’t understand why until I realized how many times I had said “no” to her when she asked me to make or do something with her. And how many times had I snapped at my son for “being too loud” because the baby had to have nap because she missed her earlier one while we were out doing such and such? Too many times.

IMG_3357So this week I said “no” to everything outside our home so I could say “yes” to the people living inside. And it has been an awesome week. We’ve made bead necklaces and played dolls, raced Matchbox cars, swung high on our swing-set, eaten lunches on the back porch, and just taken time to dwell together. Almost as an unintentional result, I’ve stopped carrying my phone with me all over the house. The kids haven’t watched much TV. My desk is even clean.

I have absolutely loved our “No Week.” It can’t be our norm because we care about people outside our little family circle and we also need them ourselves! But this short time of focusing on just the people in my house has re-centered me in the best possible way. It won’t always be this easy to carve a quiet week out…when the children get older there will be music lessons, soccer practice, meetings, or any number of things like that. Still, I can’t recommend it more. A week to stop worrying about perfectly cooked dinners (or cooked dinners at all–frozen pizza eaten occasionally never killed anyone), a week to stay home from book group, or whatever it is that is stressing your schedule, is the best gift you can give yourself and your family.

Another great side effect of “No Week” is my writing brain is slowly starting to work again. The writing well had run pretty dry in the last few weeks of winter, but the blog will actually have some new content starting in the next few days.

As a side note, here are some quick updates of stuff started and not finished on the blog lately:

31 Days to Clean – This blog follow along didn’t end up working out for me because–and this is kind of hard to admit–it was too slow. It started in January and it is still going. I got the e-book and read through it, which was a good boost, but I abandoned the schedule and just cleaned what I thought needed cleaning. It’s worked out okay. I just felt like I had to let you know I finished but I didn’t finish, you know?

Happier In Winter Project – I went back to this list a lot in January and most of February, but by the end of the winter, I had surrendered to the winter blues. We hit up #22 way too often (movie day). I am ecstatic that warm weather is here, and hopeful that next winter I can add to my Happier in Winter project and make it a bigger success.

Friday Favorites – Still ongoing! I post about our favorite children’s books of the week as often as we find good ones.

Reviews, Uncategorized

What Alice Forgot

If ever there is a time when you need some good books to loose yourself in, it’s early March. Where I live, the month of March is a split personality that looks something like this:

On those days when Grumpy Bear shows up, you need a good book to get you through. That book for me in the last few days was What Alice ForgotIt’s a great winter read. I suspect it could also be an awesome beach read as well, judging by the fact that the library copy I had was all gritty and there was a Damaged Noted sticker on the inside of the book that read “Type of damage: sand in cover.” It was strangely comforting to think I was holding a piece of someone else’s warm, sandy, summer vacation while I was wrapped up in warm pajamas, a bathrobe,  two blankets.

What Alice ForgotWhat Alice Forgot had my from the first page. I read it in 27 hours and sacrificed a good bit of sleep for it. The story goes like this:

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes.

Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.  (from Goodreads.com)

That plot line may not sound like anything special, it’s been done before, but it’s handled really well by Liane Moriarty in this novel. I’m still thinking about it a week later.  Maybe because I could relate so much to Alice. I’m 30, I’ve been married for nearly ten years, I’ve had three kids in the last six years, I keep thinking what would my 20-year-old self think if she woke up in my life?

The character development is great, and the novel manages to deal with some pretty hard stuff like marriage problems and infertility while maintaining a joyful undertone all throughout. I found Moriarty’s writing style to be insightful, humorous, and easy to like.

What books have been getting you through the cabin fever?

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