Meet me on the flip side!!

This sadly neglected blog has been abandoned, not for lack of love, or interest, or disinterest in writing.
I’ve begun a new blog: swellwithmysoul.com
I truly hope you’ll meet me there!
See you on the flip side!
Come swell with me…

MIA, sort of…

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I have been missing in action lately, but for good reason…

I have finally made the switch from PC to MAC!!

I am the proud owner of a shiny new MacBook. So…I am in the process of figuring this transition out. I will eventually be migrating to a new format, so stay tuned!

I haven’t even begun editing pictures yet, but I do have many good ones to share…and stories, and even more fun stuff in mind for the future of this little blog baby of mine, all for the sake of my lovely reading audience.

Bear with me & I’ll be back soon!!!

p.s. I am always posting on Instagram, so follow my feed in the meantime!!

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Take a Hike.

lead the way.

Jack in the Pack

HAPPY

nature makes us happy

Fun in the Woods

be green

There are so many reasons why the fall is my favorite time of year, but one of my most loved adventures when the weather gets chilly, and the trees put on their show, is going out into the woods and taking it all in. Maybe it’s because this is the time of year when Mike and I started dating (fourteen years ago, thank you very much!). Maybe it’s because our first date away was to Vermont, where we hiked snow covered trails and walked on huge frozen lakes. Outside makes me feel so refreshed inside. It wakes me up and I feel like I can think more clearly.

I love that we have to bundle and layer. I love that the ground is covered in color. The air is crispy and fresh. And when the sun shines through a particularly bright bit of foliage? Nothing better, friends…Nothing. It’s like natures version of stained glass.

Saturday was stellar. We took the baby-carrying backpack down from the attic and hit the woods in search of “Lost Lake.” This was Jack’s first time and he LOVED it! I even got him to wear that super-adorable hat that I have been trying to get him to keep on for more than five seconds…maybe it was because he couldn’t reach his head to throw it off?
Despite the parked cars at the trail head, we only came across a few people (and two beautifully muddy and excited golden retrievers) along the way.
There were some real treasures to be found, and love was everywhere…as captured in these photos:

Tree of Love

 Love

heart
Finn had a great time scavenging, and running and climbing on the huge rocks. He found a cool “hook” that he carried and had such a good time poking at patches of moss, empty stumps, grabbing tree branches… And I couldn’t stop taking pictures. In all honestly, I could have stayed there, semi-lost, carefree and one with nature, all darn day. But Jack got heavy on Mike’s back, and the boys got tired, and hungry and…as boys do. But the short time inhaling the forest was enough euphoria to last all weekend long…

Get outside.  Take a hike.  And always follow the trails less traveled. 

(linking up with Annapolis & Company and Casey Leigh Wiegand)

xo

love

Paths

Season of Giving

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We have officially entered the season of giving thanks! This weekend, the holiday warm fuzzies started to hit me. My family is already making Thanksgiving Day plans and I have signed up for my menu contribution (roasted root veggies – YUM). We have been enjoying some chilly weather dinners this week (think comfort food!), and the temperature has dropped to a seasonably cold 30 degrees at night!!

I am currently teaching Finn about being thankful for all that he has, as well as trying to help him understand the idea of giving to those who are in need. I have recently had some opportunities to try and explain, but I’m not sure he really understands.

I want my family to be consciously thankful for the small things that happen in our normal, everyday. I am finding that the subject of “need” is hard to communicate to a child without confusion. When I try to explain the donation of food we recently sent to school to be given to our town food pantry, he didn’t understand that there are families in need of something as basic as groceries.

I can tell that he is trying to process this information. He is a very inquisitive kid who asks a lot of questions and he tries to find answers. But how can I teach him to give to children who would feel grateful for half of the toys that he has? It’s hard to not run into contradictions when the holidays come around. It is a time when lists are made, catalogs arrive, and wants are loudly and excitedly voiced. (Hello, Santa Clause? I’m looking at you…) It is a time when parents seemingly blackmail their kids behavior with threats of a call to the North Pole, or remind them that their creepy friendly household elf is watching their every move to report back the Man in Red (guilty as charged). So much of the noise around us is about “getting.” Is it me, or do commercials seem to get louder and more obnoxious? And don’t even get me started on the atrocious trend where retailers think it’s a great idea to open on Thanksgiving; a time that should be dedicated to family, friends and being thankful for all that we have. Instead, people are being persuaded to run to a store to BUY MORE. And for these corporate retailers, it is all a ploy to make MORE money. I just can’t embrace that mentality. And why do we get so caught up in needing/having/buying MORE stuff?

I don’t want to raise kids who don’t understand the meaning of giving. Giving to those without, giving to those we love, giving for no other purpose but to make us feel good.
I have declared November and December as the months where we express our gratitude for all of the things we are fortunate to have, and sometimes take for granted, as well as to find a way to give back in ways that will help others, whether in the form of time, money, donations of goods…whatever it takes. November is the time when at work, all colleagues are given the opportunity to contribute to a cause and have the donation deducted from their pay. My charity of choice is always St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital because I am forever grateful for the blessing of having two perfectly healthy children. I will ask Finn to choose two toys, one from him and one from Jack, to donate to Toys for Tots.

We’ll also be making some Christmas gifts this year, because it’s fun, it encourages imagination, and more thought goes into customizing it for the person who will receive it.
I absolutely love the holidays and can’t wait to celebrate all of the festiveness that we will experience in the coming weeks. I look forward to twinkle lights, candles, delicious scents permeating my kitchen, old and new traditions, relaxing…and yes, shopping. But this year, I am going to keep it simple, because thoughtfulness is not equivalent to dollars spent. I want to support local businesses and artists because they are charming and unique. I want to help my boys understand the real meaning behind this time of year and that it is about the warm feelings and small bits of happy that we will experience as we build up to the BIG day…and keep those feelings close so that we live in each small moment before it passes us by.

I want to show Finn, by my example, that there are plenty of ways to “give” that don’t include “presents” and there are lots of things that will make people smile that even Santa wouldn’t be able to accomplish.

So, tell me…How do you teach your kids about giving?

Buried in Leaves

A Quick Catch Up – In Pictures

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tree hugger

roots

Trail Treasures

me and my bud

Jack in the leaves

Buried in Leaves

Pumpkins

pumpkin patch

Me and Roo

Pumpkin Head Antics

Pumpkin Head Outhouse

Where do I even begin??

It feels like it’s been so long since I’ve posted and we’ve done so many fun things over the past few weeks.

A few Fridays ago, I surprised Finn by picking him up about 10 minutes before school ended. It was a beautiful fall day and the foliage was at its absolute PEAK! We went hiking on some local trails that I haven’t visited in many years. I brought a little bag for him to collect some nature treasures. We came across a babbling brook and it took me a long time to pry him away from throwing rocks and sticks and leaves into the river. He loved watching them float away and wash down the mini waterfall. Boys. We saw some huge roots from fallen trees that shrunk my tall boy to a miniature version of himself. As we got toward the end of the trail, we happened upon a fire truck and some firefighters in the middle of the woods – turns out there was a brush fire they were trying to put out, so that was pretty exciting as well. It was SO great spending time with him by myself, something that doesn’t happen as often as it used to.

Although there are still plenty of leaves left on our trees, our yard is COVERED in fading reds, oranges and yellows – I love crunching through them, and the boys LOVE jumping in them. Mike and I haven’t begun bagging anything yet, and our raking has consisted of one pile that is continuously scattered again and again. Trucks are driven through it. Kids are buried in it. It’s been fun!! There are still many, many leaves to fall, so the piles will only grow…I’m sure we’re not alone.

My sister has officially moved away. Feelings are bittersweet. She previously lived in Manhattan, just a short train ride away. She and her husband have relocated to Denver, Colorado. While I thank her for moving to city that I envision as a really awesome place to visit, we’ll all miss having her so close by. It won’t be forever, (right Kristen??) but a lot of life will be lived in four to five years that we’ll have to share on-line. Thank GOD for social media!!! BUT – new chapters are ALWAYS exciting, and I know she (they) will do great things in the meantime.

We finally made it back to the pumpkin patch and took our annual hayride where “Pumpkin Head” hides throughout the woods, to be delightedly spotted by a bunch of giggling kids. He is one mischievous character. Proof is in the pictures above… (What is he doing in that outhouse you ask? “Pooping” according to Finn). The pumpkins were slim pickins, but we picked a nice, big, lumpy one – which we carved tonight, just in time for Halloween!

So that pretty much brings us up to date! Tomorrow is the BIG day. One of Finn’s favorite holidays. He has been counting down on his calendar for weeks. I told him only 3 pieces of candy tomorrow night… Is that parental cruelty? Wishful thinking? We’ll see how it goes…

And when the boys go to bed, I’m sure I’ll raid his stash for a few pieces myself. What? We can’t possibly have chocolate in the house and have it be ignored… besides, it’s bad for their teeth…Jack is too little…there are flavors they just don’t like. (Is anyone buying this???)

Happy Halloween Eve!!!

Do a deed of simple kindness; though its end you may not see…

Sparrow

Image via crushculdesac.tumblr.com

Do a deed of simple kindness; though its end you may not see, it may reach, like widening ripples, down a long eternity. ~ Joseph Norris

Every so often, there is a story that is heard, or read, or stumbled upon that just won’t leave a heart or mind without leaving a mark. Last night as I browsed my Bloglovin’ feed, a post about a 3 year old girl, Sparrow Song, who is undergoing her third (and final) heart surgery, stayed with me and has prompted me to spread the message of this brave, little soul.

I do not know this family. I do not even know the sweet mama whose post brought this to my attention, though I do follow her blog, boho baby bump, where the original post can be found.  Please take a moment to read it and be inspired by a small baby girl who has more courage than most grown-ups.

What I do know, is that through blogging, there is a community and friendships can exist between strangers, no matter the distance or the differences in each other’s lives.
I try to put myself in the position of this family. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to watch your baby go into surgery. To see her hooked up to monitors, and tubes, and have to sit and wait while putting every ounce of trust and faith in the hands of surgeons who are hopefully working miracles. Put yourself in those shoes. And then imagine if millions of strangers were uplifting your baby with the power of positive thinking and the power of prayers. I am calling attention to this family’s story because it somehow spoke to me, and I want to call attention to Sparrow, and to let her sweet “Song” reach the pages of other strangers, who if nothing else will keep her and her family in their thoughts, and prayers, or send a card, or a care package if so inclined.

It doesn’t take much to send a message of strength, unity, and optimism to those who need to feel some rays of sunshine in their lives…and an army of people doing it together will certainly make a huge difference for those on the receiving end.

“Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.”
~ Sally Koch

Spread kindness, be peaceful and share the love. xo

Smashing Pumpkins

Prepping

What is it about boys and destruction.  Is it just mine?  Finn had been asking, and asking, and asking to smash our sweet little pumpkins we had carved a few weeks ago.  It seems a bit early for pumpkin smashing, but I will admit, the wilting, orange jack’s had seen better days.  Shortly after carving, they filled with fruit flies (while still sitting atop our microwave, mind you).  We immediately moved them outside to the deck railing where we figured the cold air would keep them a bit longer.  We lit them at dusk a fair amount of times and watched them from inside as we ate dinner, their inner glow flickering wildly in the chilly, windy October nights we have had. 

So, when Finn asked for what seemed like the millionth time if he could smash the pumpkins last Sunday afternoon, I finally relented.  You would think I had graced him with some amazing privilege, which, I guess to him it was.  He smiled that crazy, silly, devilish little grin and with a huge heave over his head – he flung the first pumpkin with amazing force!  Then again with the second pumpkin.  Each lost some flesh, but it didn’t end there.  He ran down the deck stairs, gathered the remains, and continued this game over and over until there weren’t enough large pieces to justify any more smashing.

Smashing Pumpkins

So…we are down two little jack-o-lanterns, but I guess the good thing about early pumpkin-chucking, is that we can get ourselves to the pumpkin patch, pronto, and gather some more to carve with new silly faces, that will inevitably collect fruit flies, that will eventually meet their fate at the bottom of our yard.  The squirrels will feast on our recycled “back to the earth” mentality – all because I have a boy who thrives on the thrill of destroying some pumpkins.  I look forward to enjoying this cycle all over again – very soon!!