Waiting for spring

Like labrador puppies longing for wide open land, they press against the windowpane, sunlight kissing their noses, beckoning them outside.

Luke & Wyatt

Boys, as everyone knows, need a place to run. A whirlwind of combined energy, they are becoming forces difficult to contain, and I too pine for warmer days, to move in the folds of long, lazy days beneath sun and sky.

Luke & Wyatt

We are all restless here, waiting for a spring slow to bloom.

bird watchers

Freshly Pressed (and a pretty genius writing prompt for you)

Last Wednesday, I was preparing to go out of town. My flight left early Thursday morning and I was running around doing last minute errands, making sure the kids would be taken care of for the next few days, packing, etc. I checked my email on my phone at one point to find that I had 80 new comments on a little post I had written the week before. (It could’ve been more like 10 new comments — you know how email always looks more dense on your phone. No? Just me?) When I checked the stats in WordPress, I had over 500 hits on my little blog. As you probably know by now, especially if you’re new here, that post was freshly pressed.

Not at all obvious hint to where I went

Not at all obvious hint to where I went

When the email came through from a WordPress editor telling me that I had been freshly pressed, I thought, “Well that’s nice. Maybe I’ll get a few new followers.”

I. had. no. idea.

I am so humbled by all of your loving and supportive comments and overwhelmed with gratitude by all of my new followers. What’s funny about being freshly pressed for that post is the fact that I almost didn’t write it. When Kelly of Cobwebs, Cupcakes & Crayons, asked me to participate in the “Lucky” edition of Collectively Creative I thought it was a perfect coincidence that it fell on Mia’s birthday. How easy would it be to write about how lucky I am to have her? It would be a birthday tribute to my daughter. Done.

Only every time I sat down to write it, I ended up deleting everything. It all came out sounding trite and forced. If I was going for funny, it fell flat. If I was going for touching, it reeked of sentimentality. I gave up. I walked away and didn’t think about it. Finally, the night before my post was due to go live, I sat down and wrote a letter to Mia as though no one but her would ever read it. It was one big stream of consciousness letter that wasn’t edited*, save for photo placement, before going live (mainly because it was 3 in the morning and I was just done). I read over the post later that day and found a handful of words I would change or things I meant to include but forgot. I thought it was too personal, that no one would relate to it, that it still felt too sentimental.

All of this is to say thank you. And to propose a writing prompt for you. (I happen to know that some of my new followers are fellow writers so what better way to welcome you than with a writing prompt?)

If you’re so inclined, write a post using the stream of consciousness approach. You have no more than an hour but you can stop at 15 minutes if you want to. You can start with an idea of what you want to write about or you can start with simply the blank page, but once you start writing don’t stop until your allotted time is up. Don’t worry about if it makes sense, or if there are grammatical errors, or if you’re jumping from one subject to another. Just write. The point of this is not to have a cohesive piece of writing when you’re done, but open your mind to ideas, thoughts and possibilities that might otherwise remain buried (you just might uncover an inspiring idea or two for future blog posts). When your time’s up, you can spell check but no heavy editing. Preferably no light editing either. When you post it, link back here or leave your link in the comments so I can check it out (because I’m nosy like that). Ready, set, go!

*I lied. I totally spell checked that sucker.

8 blogs that rock (and why)

Blogs that Rock

*This post was originally published in March of 2013. The original post gets quite a bit of traffic so I decided to update it now, in February, 2015, to reflect some of the blogs that I currently read regularly.

This post is in response to a homework assignment for Holly Becker’s e-course titled Blog Boss. The objective is to feature 8 blogs that rock, two of which need to be fellow classmates’ blogs. I follow so many blogs (and rarely keep up with them on a daily basis), so this task seemed monumental at first. While there are plenty of blogs I check in on from time to time for their eye candy or crafty inspiration or practical purposes (for example, the more technical aspects of photography and writing), I decided, finally, to focus on the ones that speak to me. The ones that pull me in through writing or photography (or both), usually both reflective of kids and family and lifestyle and having it all and balancing it all and what does it all mean…you get the idea. These are the ones that tug at the heartstrings, magnify the little moments, find joy in the mundane and have something to say.

It was still really difficult and time-consuming to narrow the list down to just 8, but I made myself do it so that I could hone in on why these blogs speak to me and hopefully learn a little about myself as a blogger along the way. So, without further ado, I give you my top 8. Enjoy!

1. Girls Gone Child.

GGC was the very first blog I ever started following. I stumbled upon it shortly after Mia was born and I was instantly hooked. Her writing, her photos, her ability to capture the small moments in motherhood that add up to the savory memories of childhood are just beyond. She has a gift, this one. She also lays it all out there for her readers, she engages with them and truly wants to connect with them. Nothing is off limits, which keeps things fresh and interesting. Oh, and she has twins who are just a few months younger than mine, so obviously I stalk her I’ve developed an even greater connection to her.

2. Enjoying the Small Things

I came across this blog not too long ago, and the very first post I read was this one. Read it. Try not to cry. Then delve into this blog and find the joy she captures through words and pictures. This blog is full of so much…grace. I can’t help but be inspired.

3. A Design So Vast

What I love about Lindsey is that she’s completely honed in on that enigmatic thing called voice. If ever her name wasn’t attached to a piece of writing, I’m certain I could identify it as hers nonetheless. She also has the ability to tap into reservoirs of hearts and minds of mothers and women that make one think, “Yes, I hadn’t realized that I was feeling this way…or I could relate to this…or this was on my mind…or I needed to read this today.” She and her writing are such gifts, and I’m so grateful I found her in this wide and surprising ether.

4. Petunia Face

Again, the writing. The writing gets me every time. Susannah has a daughter who’s a year older than Mia and I’ve been reading her blog almost as long as I’ve been reading Girl’s Gone Child. She has the ability to connect through writing in a way that few do — a way that makes you think, “Yes, that. Exactly that.”

*Since I originally posted this, Susannah lost her mother to cancer, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and just recently traveled to Tel Aviv to undergo an aggressive treatment consisting of removing all stem cells and then replacing them and then suffering through chemo to hopefully eradicate said MS. Hop on over and you can read her day-by-day experience with this. In my opinion, I’m not sure anyone could have handled this with as much grace and humor as she. Not long ago, someone stumbled upon this post and remarked that they find Susannah to be narcissistic and then posted the definition of a narcissist. That’s it. Once sentence and a definition. I’m not sure if the included definition was intended for me or Susannah but I would like to thank that person because I’m sure we’re both much clearer now on the meaning of narcissism. And I’m going to add: We are all, just by being human, a little bit narcissistic, don’t you think?

5. Commonplace

Dina is whip smart and a truly gifted writer. She’s someone whose words I look forward to reading whenever her name pops up because I know no matter what topic of motherhood she’s exploring, I will always nod my head along with her words. She’s also just signed on as the blog editor for Literary Mama, and I’m really looking forward to seeing her influence and contributions there.

6. A Cup of Jo

Because everyone’s doing it. No, really, I love this lifestyle blog. Because Joanna was once an editor, her blog is very editorial, which always makes for a fun read, but it’s personal and conversational as well. Since becoming a mom, she also covers some parenting issues and insights. I loved her series that profiled moms who are trying to find the work/life balance. This series featured work-at-home moms (and included some of my other fave blogs that I’m not listing here because ahh! only 8) and this one features moms who work mostly outside the home.

7. Bluebirdsunshine

I found this blog through the Blog Boss course. She’s and Aussie-turned-Brit, and I love her photos of her little ones and her posts that are like little vignettes of daily life as a mom. Just someone I naturally relate to and a space that makes me want to revisit time and again.

8. Raising Humans

Tricia is one of the warmest people/mothers/writers I’ve had the privilege of getting to “know” in this vast WWW. Her posts are full of grace and familiarity, and as effective as sitting down over a cup of coffee with a great friend, even if the topic is something as controversial as vaccines. (I’m scratching my head over that last sentence. Vaccines a controversy? Sadly, it has come to that.) Anyway, her writing is beautiful and always leaves me with something to ponder as I go about my day.

BONUS: Ivy League Insecurities

This list felt incomplete without adding Aidan’s blog. She’s an effortless writer, totally fun, and always gets her readers thinking by posing great questions on life, self-discovery, and just existing (and growing) as humans/mothers/friends/writers/women/creatives. In a word, she is inspiring.

Hello, 6

“Go and wake up your luck”

-Persian Proverb

Dear Mia,

As of 10:32 this morning, you are 6.

Mia portrait collage

This is how it happens, I know, the days of the year circling back to this one when I first held my heart outside my body. I watched you squirm and scream, red-faced and mad, until you were in my arms. Suddenly, you stopped and settled and I thought,

Lucky me,

          Lucky me,

                    Lucky me.

I could go on like this, waxing nostalgic about beating hearts and secret languages and umbilical chords that are never truly cut, but today you are 6 and yesterday was not such a good day.

“I don’t have a switch you can turn on to make me nice.”

Arms crossed, back hunched, tears pooling at the rims of blue eyes.

Hello, 6.

Mia, 6

The thing about mothering is this: I thought I would have all the answers by now. I thought I would be a seasoned pro by the time 6 rolled around. I thought I would be an authority, a veteran. Turns out, I’m still winging it because the moment you were born so too was I. The mother in me turns 6 today too.

For the past few weeks I have felt this day fast approaching, leaving me untethered and wandering, watching you race ahead to 6 while I say my final goodbyes to 5. The very same 5 with which I had just recently made amends.

Mia, 6

I think 5 might be my favorite age, full of intellectual growth and independence – an ability to converse and interact in a way that you couldn’t before. Last week you wrote personal notes to all the girls in your class that said things like, “I love your eyes that are brown,” and “You been a good friend to me,” and “I just love your hare.” I find rainbow colored hearts tucked into your backpack, all labeled Mommy. You bring paperwork home with stories and scribbles doodled on the back. Rather than playing with toys, you invest yourself in writing picture books and illustrating fashion books.

You are lucky to be one of those people who wishes to build sand castles with words, who is willing to create a place where your imagination can wander…I think this is a wonderful kind of person to be.”   ~Anne Lamott

Sometimes when you need a break from the noise and raucous of your brothers I find you curled on your bed reading (reading!) a chapter book (by yourself!). As awe-inspiring as it is to bear witness to this growth, it comes with a bittersweet realization: You will never be 5 again.

Mia, 6

It used to be that I had to lay in bed with you until you fell asleep. Now I choose to stay. It’s in the dark of your room — tucked under the covers, breath and stillness between us — that you tell me scraps and snippets of your day, things you don’t say in the light.

“I like morning better than night.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m afraid of the dark sky.”

You ask me if vampires are real and how do I know and what are vampires anyway. You ask us if we believe in God and how do we know. You ask if I will die and leave you and how do I know.

Mia, 6“Go and wake up your luck.”

I don’t remember the first time I heard this quote, but these are the words that find me when I climb the stairs to wake you up every morning before school. And now as I’m finishing up this post, I look at the clock and realize it’s almost time to wake you up. Once again, these quiet morning hours have flown by and I still have a million items to check off my to-do list. I swat at thoughts and worries that swarm about my head and brush away the general feeling of being overwhelmed. As I climb the stairs to wake you with kisses on your 6th birthday I’m only thinking,

Lucky me,

          Lucky me,

                    Lucky me.

I love you to the moon and back.

xo,

Mommy

This post is part of Collectively Creative, hosted by Kelly of Cobwebs, Cupcakes & Crayons. To read more on this month’s theme, “Lucky”, check out these links:

Jell-O Shamrocks: A Kid’s Lucky Snack – (Cobwebs, Cupcakes & Crayons)

A Lucky Save! – (Pillows A-La-Mode)

DIY Craft: ‘Stained Glass’ Shamrock – (Time With Thea)

The many meanings of “lucky” – (The Thing About Joan)

This Party Calls For A Theme:  It’s All Rainbows and Unicorns – (Green Door Hospitality)

Keep Calm and Pinch On – (A Ponytail Kind Of Day)

Honorary Irish and my favorite Irish Soda Bread – (My Healthy ‘Ohana)

Luck o’the Irish for Easter!  – (Minerva’s Hand)

Lucky Gold Elephant – (Now at Home Mom)

Make your own luck (using a crochet hook) – (Gentle Stitches)

Asian Cucumber Salad – (Inspire and Indulge)

The Lucky Edition Logo March 2013

Twins with straws (and water)

Bendy Straw /ben-dee straw/ noun

A flexible plastic object that, when combined with a small cup of water, will provide at least 10 minutes of free entertainment until water is dumped and highchair tray becomes a water table. Use your time wisely.

See also: “Winter is killing me slowly”

straw + water = entertainment

In other news, I’m taking this fabulous blog course by Holly Becker of decor8. The course runs until the end of the month so posting will probably be lighter until then. I have a lot of ideas about what I want to do with this space, but I need some direction, inspiration and cheering on to get it there. So far, this course has been bananas* in all three areas.

*Bananas /buh-nan-uh z/ adjective

1. slang for crazy good

see also: a tropical fruit that’s bananas in potassium

Oh hello, Monday.