Friday, September 28, 2012

Hallmark: Falling into October

This post is a Hallmark sponsored post. I am being paid by Hallmark to write it, but all writing, ideas and opinions are mine. Thankfully, Hallmark and I share the same idea--that little moments are to be celebrated and that good people, good efforts and good intentions deserve a spotlight. See Hallmark Life is a Special Occasion for more details, like them on Facebook, and/or sign up for their e-mail messages HERE.

Flour covered every inch of my kitchen island last night, and buried in its scattered dust were measuring spoons, spices and little fingerprints. It was our first batch of pumpkin bread--a tradition which launches the season for us, as funny as that may sound coming from a girl in southern Florida.

"Is it really fall, Mom?" Lainey asked as she flung a spoonful of cloves toward the mixing bowl and missed.

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"Yep.  It turned fall this weekend," I answered.  She smiled, shook her flour-covered hands and ran to tell Brett. 

"Daddy, it's fall now!  We can do cozy things."

She returned to the counter with new excitement, and together we rattled off the list of things we were going to enjoy now that it's fall.  Like fires and blankets and movies and cider, nature walks and baking and decorating and friends.  Even though it's ninety degrees outside right now and the closest apple orchard is a plane ride away.

What I love about this entire conversation though, is that my girl's cues for fall came entirely from me.  How quickly she shifted into seasonal celebration, prompted by her mama's confirmation and memories of things we've done in the past. I might not have golden fields or fiery foliage to tell my girls it's fall, but I have my own memories--rituals I want to recreate that rely less on weather and environment and more on family and home.

This, of course, doesn't mean I won't go to the ends of the earth to bring a little bit of fall environment to our otherwise barren landscape (by barren, I'm referring to majestic palms and calming ocean--I'm exaggerating due to my current Michigan withdrawl).  So yesterday after school, Lainey and I set out in efforts to bedazzle our home with fall.  Hay bales. I had to have them.  Brett caught wind of our intent as we were pulling out of the driveway yesterday. 

"Seriously?  Hay bales?  Dude, I'm allergic to that stuff.  For real?  You have to have them?" he asked.

"They're for the kids," I answered.  End of story.  (Note:  "They're for the kids" will get you anything in life).

We returned home two hours later, trunk filled with two hay bales, a pumpkin, a few gourds, two cans of pumpkin and a bundle of wheat.  Also known as, we returned home happy.

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Brett rolled his eyes while he pulled it all out, setting it up at our front entrance as I directed. And even though he had to back the car out, sweep out the back with first one broom and then a stiffer bristled broom and then finally with a vacuum, I think he's cool with it. I mean, it's for the kids.

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My Top Five Fall Memories and Favorites:

1.  Living with my grandparents in college when fall meant drives to the orchard, oatmeal apple crisp after dinner, cider with our lunch trays and telling my grandparents goodnight before I drove up to the college track at night to go running
2.  Warm sugared donuts from Blake's Cider Mill
3.  Receiving a giant box of leaves from my cousin Joann in Michigan, every year since Lainey was born
4.  Wearing tights--even in Florida, even if it's hot
5.  The Elementary School Leaf Project--saving maples and oaks and aspens between sheets of waxed paper, thumbing through leaf identification books, making crayon rubbings from my favorite leaves. 

What are your favorite fall memories and favorites? Hallmark and I would love to hear about how you and your family enjoys this season.

To see other Hallmark posts on this blog, click HERE.To see other Hallmark posts on this blog, click HERE.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Small Things

This time every year, I slump a bit.  I'm bracing myself for October, my busiest month; I'm missing family and fall; and things feel slightly overwhelming--big projects, big schedules, big things on my mind.  Without fail, the antidote for this feeling is to go small.  Focus on the good little things that are continually present in my life.

All or nothing never works for me.  I love the simplistic trend that is seeping back into our generation, but it sometimes overwhelms me too.  I can easily feel guilty for not being "simple enough."  The fact is, I thrive on both simplicity and complexity.  In a perfect world, we'd split our time between a quiet cottage where I watch my girls chase goats and play with homemade toys all day and a New York City apartment where we go and do and see and crash late at night, our brains rich with culture and stories; our bodies tired from good stimulation.  And you know what?  When October and all its craziness and travel and work and e-mail and writing is over, I'm going to look back and think "I loved it.  I freaking loved that high."  And it will come just as we slowly dip our toes into a delicious November, drenched with slow family simple moments that will seem all the sweeter, contrasted against the craziness.  Maybe that's why I love these last three months so much--for the dichotomy present which brings to light both the fulfilling frenzy and quiet calm that we love.

One of the greatest benefits of blogging for me is being able to look back at our own story.  I spend at least one Saturday morning a month sipping my coffee and clicking back at old, old posts.  Reliving exciting trips, remembering quiet family gatherings, feeling really happy that our life is made up both big and small, simple and crazy.  Woven together, it's ours. 

I have a lot of work to finish this week.  But we are still enjoying small things.

Enjoying:

Mumford and Sons New Album.  Every freaking song.  But seriously, "I Will Wait" and "Lover's Eyes"--specifically 1:28 into Lover's Eyes. I want to get a lighter and light the freaking world on fire.  I want to pick up my babies and dance in a field of daisies.  I want to be a unicorn.

Sleepin' Dirty Feet through the Crib

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White Pumpkins in the Window Sill

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Afternoons Alone with Little Sister

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Black and White

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Blanket Throwing. She throws every blanket out of her crib. With force.

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Several readers asked about her owl hanging in the last post.  It's from our sponsor, Darlybird.  It's very well made and fairly priced.

Baby Boy's Growing Stash. I pull it out at least once a week and refold everything, marvel at how tiny it all is, make Brett sit and watch me hold up each outfit while I gush.

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Heidi surprised me with this Moses basket last week.

Lucky Charms. Harvested from our own wheat crop with marshmallows processed from the sugarcane growing in our backyard and dyed with fruit juice.  Not.

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Walkin' with Hands Behind her Back

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Baby Techy. She can slide the unlock button, swipe through screens to find her icons, open and close them out, take pictures with the camera. Steve Jobs lives on.

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Sunflowers and Gnomes.

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That is all. Happy Thursday.

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I'm happy to welcome The Paperhouse in sponsorship this month.  The Paperhouse represents both a family and a business--otherwise referred to as a family business, but The Paperhouse is more than than.  As Devon (the mama behind the business) describes, "(We're) a true mom and pop store trying to keep up in a world of one-click Internet shopping and Kindles. (We offer) our face-to-face service and - in an effort to extend ourselves outside of our small dot on the map - our web site, Reading with Joey." 

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How much do I love Devon's boys about to go fistacuff on this cart?  Um, a lot.


The Paperhouse is an office supply/bookstore but also offers book reviews, mini reviews, recommendations and great educational resources for moms and kids.

I've gotten to personally know Devon a bit through her insightful writing, and I'm thrilled to have her and her family business a part of Enjoying the Small Things sponsors.

Check out The Paperhouse, click around and feel at home.

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Have a great day!

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Florida Fall

We chose home this weekend.  Out of all the balls that begged to be juggled, we made the unanimous decision to make home our priority.  Together we folded laundry, put away clutter, washed windows and mopped floors, leading up to this wonderful crescendo of entertaining friends Saturday evening. 

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That whole home environment mind/reality connection is astonishing. I wasn't overwhelmed in the least bit with busy schedules or never ending to-do lists because things felt so much more balanced, simply with the presence of clean carpets, toys in their places, polished counters, linen closets stocked with fresh folded towels, and candles and music that whispered All is Well.

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We have exclaimed every variation of "Holy Crap, our house is so clean!" numerous times because it's been a while since every room has been spotless at the same time. This weekend we sat and waited, willing neighbors to come knock on our door, requesting an egg or a ladder or a can of chicken broth because we so wanted to invite them in while we fetched what they lacked. We needed to make up for all those times they showed up while we embarrassingly shoved toys aside and watched them stand next to our laundry-covered couch while we simultaneously searched for a can of chicken broth (which we didn't have) and prayed they didn't notice the wrinkled granny panties on top of Laundry's peak.

Neighbors, neighbors. We have chicken broth. Come by and grab a can. Marvel at our clean house.

This weekend...enjoying:

Sophie Love. She is a lovely dog. Calm and loyal and as low-maintenance as a dog can be. The older she gets, the more I cherish these pictures.

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Curly. She sits in the sink while I curl her hair. She is still and patient.

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She looks at herself in the mirror afterwards and says "Pretty."

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Beach Sunset. Being pregnant, I've been especially unappreciative of Florida's weather lately. I miss a true fall. I want to slap my dad when he calls and tells me about fires at night and stocking up the wood pile for the next few months. Some years I'm really good at making the best of what I miss most about the Midwest, but this year it's been tough.

Last night, Florida bitch-slapped me...hard.

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I'm going to both enjoy what we have and create what we don't have. It's my specialty. How silly of me to have forgotten.

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The picture on the right slays me.  It's my kid being a little bit weird.  I freaking love a little bit weird. 


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Walking the sand balance beam. We had to announce them as Gabby Douglas and Jordan Wieber.  They had some serious routines, and Lainey's little friend Aleena?  Dude, Sister doesn't mess around on the sand balance beam.  Holy focus. Sand balance beams are not pretend.

This weekend, we officially welcomed fall. At home with our clean floors and candles and at the beach with our golden sunset and foamy shore line.

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Lainey was so proud of this bun.  She did it all by herself.

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It was a top night.

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If it looks appealing, you can always come on over to our beaches. Several readers have stayed in one of Poppa & Gary's rental houses (with your own pool and hot tub), and they're offering 20% off any rentals before December 15th.

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Friday Photo Dump:

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Friday Phone Dump photos are taken on the Instagram iPhone app (free) and dropped into a 12x12 collage using a photo editing software (Photoshop Elements works). I am @etst (enjoying the small things) on Instagram if you care to follow the feed.

And your #enjoyingthesmallthings photos. (If you use Instagram and have a photo that makes you happy, share it by using the hashtag #enjoyingthesmallthings. Yours may be chosen to be shared in a Friday post.)

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Pip and Bean is back in sponsorship this month, just in time for Halloween.
Pip and Bean hand makes beautiful reversible superhero capes for kids. They can be personalized and customized, and they also offer a range of custumes, from sharks and angler fish to pirates and, get this...unicorns. You heard me. Unicorns.

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Our Pip and Bean capes are the first things visiting friends grab from the dress up trunk, and it is not uncommon to see a caped Lainey at the dinner table, riding bikes in the driveway or heading to the bathroom to brush her teeth at night.
I love these capes because they're versatile. When Halloween's over, the capes surely are not. We love us some Pip and Bean.

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Order now to receive before Halloween!
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It's officially fall, folks. Good things happen in the fall.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

A Little Oily

Well, the "pretty" thing turned out to be no big deal, and I tried not to make it a bigger deal.  I think as parents we have these giant red flags we're searching for with signals our kids give us, especially when it comes to confidence.  Sometimes, hardly a flash of red appears and we take it as a signal fire.  Lainey seemed bewildered by the fact that I wanted to talk about it when all she wanted to do was finish coloring Fancy Nancy's face in her coloring book.  So I took her cues and kept it light-hearted.  Yes, there are lots of things that make us feel pretty but turns out that Lainey thinks "pretty" means blue eyes--even if she likes her brown eyes too.  No signal fire.  Sister's fine.

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I just returned from an essential oil party tonight with my friends.  I pictured candles and spa tunes and all of us passed out on the floor, totally zen from eucalyptus, but it didn't exactly go that way.  I started using a few essential oils for pregnancy nausea and headaches this time around, and now I'm getting into it.  And the "I think I'm a Doctor" I'm married to has a list of oils he's researched for common ailments.  I'm hoping it goes better than the last time I got into essential oils which goes a little something like this:

About six years ago, Girlfriend took one trip into this local health food store that smelled like alfalfa, lavender and healthy people with cool quirks, and it was life-changing--or so I thought. Here I was in my early twenties, identity easily swayed by anything that looked cool (mid-thirties, I still get that way sometimes).  And there, standing in front of bergamot and sandalwood bottles in the middle of the essential oil aisle, I decided I was going to become Essential Oil Girl, a small step toward the grass smoothie drinking, dredlock wearing, Prius driving chick that, on that particular day, I thought was cool (I decided I'd stop at maxi pads made out of sheep's wool).

I bought five oils to start, came home and didn't even think to research their intended uses.  Peppermint oil smelled good, and I was certain it'd make a relaxing bath.  So Essential Oil Girl lit some candles, poured a fourth of the peppermint bottle (not kidding--a fourth of a bottle) into hot water and climbed in.  Brett walked in a minute later and said, "Smells really strong--like a candy cane" which is about the moment when the excrutiating pain part of this story comes in. 

Take my word:  Do not ever, ever, ever pour fourth of a bottle of peppermint oil into a bath intended to soak a human body. 

I imagine being burned with dry ice feels a little bit like taking a peppermint oil bath.  Or putting Ben Gay in places it doesn't go.  Everything--and I mean everything--went frozen.  Burning chills.  My body shook for four hours.  I literally wrapped myself in wool and then climbed under fifteen hundred blankets, hand cupped over burning crotch, crying, and still could not get warm. It was awful.  And I'm sorry to say that's not the dumbest thing I've ever done in life (Dad, no need to comment on this sentence). 

I've come a long way since then, and we've been researching some ways to supplement modern medicine for our family (Brett's highly interested--always has been).  We're going to try some natural things for immunity, stress and allergies for our family and some very basic natural remedies for increased cognitive/memory for Nella--nothing ingested and nothing I would push on anyone else.  There's a lot of information out there re: cognitive supplements for Down syndrome, and I don't have enough substantial research to suggest these for anyone else.  At this point we have not used any nutritional supplements for Nella other than regular children's vitamins, and we're most comfortable keeping it that way for right now, with the addition of some daily essential oils that we're going to try.  I've received numerous e-mails requesting what we do for Nella, if we use any supplements, etc.  It's not that we're trying to be secretive--we're happy to share what we do.  It's just that there are thousands of stories out there, not enough solid case studies for my own safety comfort levels, and I'm not qualified to refer parents regarding these issues.  We do what feels comfortable for our family, we use our trusted resources to ask questions and I expect everyone else does the same. 

With that said, spa night's over and I'm ready to camp out. 

A few pics...

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So ticked at me..

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If you haven't yet, check out our sponsor Dashing Bee's consignment site, updated with new inventory daily.  Dashing Bee is a great way to inexpensively add necessary pieces to your child's wardrobe.  If you have multiple children and you're preparing for the coming cold months, check out their outerwear before you buy new! 

A few of my current favorite basics on their site right now:

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Happy Weekend!