Category Archives: travel

Summer Can Be Scary (And I’m Not Sorry)

I’ve spent the last few weeks praying about our summer.

I’m so nervous that my kids will think it’s boring, or lame, or both, or whatever. What do kids even think these days? I don’t mind my kids being bored, really. I think it builds character and creativity for them to just figure something out to entertain themselves. I also LOVE to make them get outside. Go ride a bike, pull some weeds in the garden, blow bubbles, or draw with chalk. I don’t care, but don’t tell me you don’t feel like doing it.

There’s a lot of Pinterest and Instagram pressure to make summer an “epic” experience for your kids. But what I really want to do is lowball it as hard as I can, and make them make their own plans. Sure, they’re 2, 4, and 6, but they can tell me what they want to do! We’ve got chore charts intact, complete with a reward system. I have a ready answer to “I’m bored.”

Otherwise, to tell the truth, I enjoy having fun, too! I WANT to go to the pool, and to the park, and the mountains, which blessedly aren’t that far away. I WANT to see our friends and live music and whatever other events are going on. But we just can’t do everything, and I need to take the pressure off of myself NOW or else I’ll drown in it. The pressure is stifling to those of us who just don’t “do” what everyone else seems to do. I’m spontaneous, which is sometimes a great thing with kids, and sometimes not so much. We never sit around the house for too many hours in a row, but there are times that I get an idea in my head, and it’s just too late to make it work.

The other thing that may save my life is the YMCA. We (re)joined a month ago, and so far, beginning my mornings there with my kids in a safe and fun childcare (with lots of their friends!) has been a big stress reliever. Now, my workout doesn’t depend on the weather or on whether the baby takes a nap at the time he’s supposed to. I can get up, make everyone a nice breakfast, and head to the gym to get the endorphins blasting, and then I feel GREAT about whatever else we get – or don’t get – accomplished.

What is saving you this summer? Letting go of your expectations? Making a weekly plan? Lots of vacation or none at all? Tell me all the things that you do to survive and thrive in summer!

Currently – June!

Hello there, June! I can hardly believe it’s already time to go to the pool, for school to be out (well, it’s out for my littles and only a few more days for my kindergartener!) and for front porch sitting with a book and a cocktail in my hand. (Just me? Surely not!) I’m linking up with Anne in Residence and Sarah over at Total Basset Case. Here are a few things we’re planning for the month of June. Comment or link up and tell me what you’re up to currently!img_5993

Traveling || not very much this summer. We will go to Georgia to see my family, and to the lake (only an hour away) to Hubby’s family’s place, but other than that, we may not travel at all. It’s kinda freeing to not have any big plans! Our next big trip is September, and Hubby and I are headed to Colorado WITHOUT the kids! We’re seeing the Punch Brothers at Red Rocks and I’m beside myself with excitement!

Grilling || Hmm. Hubby is the chef, and therefore the griller, but when we had a gas line run to our porch so we could grill without go big through propane tanks, we still haven’t gotten the last piece we need to hook it all up. So, no grilling right now!

Exploring || our local hiking venues! My plan this month is to get the kids to several local (under an hour in the car) places to hike, now that they do okay without naps and eating picnic-style works pretty well. I can’t wait to have them out on the trails – I hope they love it, because it’s exercise that I really enjoy! (If you’re local, I’m thinking Salem Lake, Hanging Rock, and Pilot Mountain for our starters!)

Planting || lots and lots of things! We’re growing so many different things, it’s hard to name them all! Tomatoes, tomatillos, kale, squashes, beans, peas, asparagus, blueberries, strawberries, and more! We are pretty pleased with how everything is going so far, and my plan is to try my hand at canning this summer, one of those weeks where we have so many tomatoes I can’t begin to think how we’ll use them all.

J taking care of his blueberries.

Playing || dominoes, Candy Land, and Snug as a Bug! Those are all games my kids can get their heads around (the older two, at least). They’re also okay at Go Fish! but it’s tough for them to hold all those cards. Even the clothespin trick is a little too much for them at the moment. But Hubby and I LOVE playing games, and so I hope that they’ll continue to love it, too!

Reading || some beachy reads, even without the beach! I just finished The Turquoise Table (Kristin Schell) and Keeper of Lost Things (Ruth Hogan) last month. This month, I’m working on Everybody Always (the newest from Bob Goff), The Nix (Nathan Hill), A Wind in the Door (Madeleine L’Engle’s sequel to A Wrinkle in Time), Saturate (Jeff Vanderstelt), and Glimpses of Grace (Gloria Furman). I’m doing studies of the last two with some friends, so we’re working on it all summer, but the others I should have finished by the end of the month, I hope! Do you have any book suggestions for me?! My “to be read” list is always a mile long, so I never mind adding to it!

A sampling of what my nightstand looks like on any given day!

Well, that’s about it for now. What are you up to currently?

Currently: March!

I can’t believe it’s already March, y’all. Where has this year been flying away to? I didn’t expect 2018 to go so quickly. Anyway, here it is, basically a full week into March, and I suppose I really am ready for spring. I’m linking up for today’s edition of Currently with Anne in Residence and Sarah of Foxy’s Domestic Side. I hope you’ll comment or link up, and join us! Here’s what I’m up to currently…

Planning || a trip to DisneyWorld in April! I’ve been reading up on more tips (I mean, we went two years ago, but now we’ve got another kid and different ages!) and scheduling our character meals and fast passes. This time we’re driving, so I’m also planning how to survive a car trip that long (Google maps say 8.5 hours, so probably more like 10) with the three babes. I’ve got an amazing travel gal I plan with, so if you’re local, drop me a line and I’ll share her contact info! Here’s a photo from our last trip – I can’t believe they’re so much bigger now!img_8239

Seeing || a few little sprouts of basil in our indoor garden! The hubs (and J!) planted a bunch of seeds about two weeks ago, and we’ve been watering away, hoping they’d grow inside – and they did! When they get big enough to transfer (and it’s warm enough for long enough) we’ll move most of them outside into the beds, or into small pots to share with friends. Here are our basil babies!

Making || sausage balls and healthy muffins! Part of the meal planning (I use that term quite loosely) of the month will be those two breakfast and snack staples. Everyone’s happy to eat them at any time of day, and that works for me! I usually try to do healthy things (the muffins always are) but the sausage balls are a comfort food treat for everyone.

Pretending || to be excited about summer. To be totally honest, I’m getting a little nervous that I won’t be able to occupy everyone sufficiently once school is out. They’re all getting big enough that I know I’ll be spending a LOT of time out of the house, which is good, and we’ve got a few camps we’re thinking of doing, but I don’t want to spend too much money just to keep them busy. I want camp to be a special treat type thing. I know I have things I want to do with them that are just for us, too, so I don’t want so many camps that we’re always apart. I just get nervous that they’ll get bored of me after a few weeks!

Wearing || my Chacos. The first hint of sun in NC makes me wear nothing but Chacos till the snow starts again. I mean, almost. I’ve got happy feet when I’m wearing incredibly comfy and cute, supportive and rugged-approved sandals. ALSO I found a pair in J’s size on our local buy, sell, trade Facebook group… and he loves them! I am so happy one more person in my family loves them!

Drop a line and tell us what you’re up to currently!

I finally know my way around.

During the month of November, I’m participating in NaBloPoMo, where I try to write and publish each day. Often, I’ll be writing to a prompt – like today. 

My husband is great at finding his way around. We can be in a neighborhood he’s never been in, winding through stop signs, turns, and houses that all look the same, and he can find his way out without any problem. He’s got a great sense of direction, and often looks at the car’s compass (in his car, it’s just a lit-up letter on the rearview mirror) to decide whether to go left or right. Me? Not so much.

It took me several years of living in my town to start knowing my way around. When I moved here, for college, there weren’t phones with GPS, and so I had to rely on friends’ directions just to get to the nearest grocery store, the movie theatre, or a restaurant. I was using the highway to get around town almost exclusively for years, not knowing other ways, whether they were shorter or easier, or not.

But somewhere amid moving into the house we live in now, and attending work trainings at different schools in the area (back in my teaching days) I finally got to know some new neighborhoods, lots of good shortcuts, and the best way to use our main thoroughfares. I can cut through my neighborhood on any single street and get to where I’m going – and that is quite an accomplishment for me!

You see, this city felt like home even before I knew how to navigate it. I loved my college campus. I had, and still have, great friends, including many who grew up here, and some who, like me, came here for school and decided to stay. It’s a warm and welcoming town, lots of opportunities to meet new people, join local organizations, or find cool events that are happening all the time. It’s not too big, in case you get overwhelmed in huge cities full of skyscrapers. But it’s not too small, either, for those of us that think that tiny towns have a little too much familiarity. It’s a good size, particularly when you need to run an errand on one side of town, and one on the other… you can do it within a reasonable amount of time.

Finally learning my way around – well – seemed like the final piece of the puzzle toward becoming a “local”. Now that I’ve been here for 13 years, I definitely consider myself an expert navigator, directions-giver, or even shortcut creator. And when I go back to the town I grew up in, a smaller town with less big highways, I feel like the newcomer. I’ve forgotten the shortest distance between two points, or I can’t remember street names that I have aways known. It seems I’ve only got memory space enough for one town’s road map.

Relishing the End of Our Summer

I’ve really enjoyed this summer. We’ve been burning the candle at both ends, in some ways, but it’s been a really fun, hectic, exciting, yet still relaxing summer. I definitely feel like we gave the kids a good time, made enough time for some dates, read a lot of books, and got a lot done around the house/yard.

Spending an unexpected week at our favorite beach was a definite highlight – shout out to our friends who let us rent their timeshare from them for a week! Bringing the kids to the beach Hubby grew up visiting was really special for all of us… including their first miniature golf experience! The beach is a good place for that.

We spent a lovely week at the lake with Hubby’s whole family, and had TONS of cousin time. Our kids got to fish, feed turtles, ride the boat (a lot!), swim “across the ocean” (basically between two of the docks), and spend a couple of mornings tubing! It was great to see them all playing together and even relaxing a bit.

We got to visit my parents’ house (the house I grew up in) once more before it sold… and we actually got to be there when it went under contract. We must’ve been a good luck charm!

Now that kindergarten has begun, and preschool will begin for the boys next week, I’m down to visiting the pool for the last few times and hitting up our favorite parks again before our schedules get crazy. We’ve done extra play dates with friends and chased our favorite food truck around town (seriously, my kids love the Bahtmobile!) and now we’re preparing for what will feel like a slow down, but will really just be a settling into routine. I’m thankful to have arrived safely at this point: back to a routine, to learning, to doing new things. It’s going to be a good year.

Currently – May

Hi friends! It’s that time again… that time that seems to come more quickly every month. Time for a new currently! I probably say this every month, but I can’t believe May is here! Already, our garden is flourishing, the kids have only a few weeks of school left, and I am already trying to make sure our summer isn’t boring!

Thanks to Anne in Residence and Nancy of NY Foodie Family, we’ve got another currently link-up. Here’s a little bit about what’s going on currently…

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Baking || some Healthy Oatmeal Muffins. During my fitness challenge, I was looking for ways I could feed everyone healthily and easily. These muffins are a win with me, the hubs, and all three of the kids. I’ve made them three times in the last six weeks! Now I just need to start doubling the recipe so I don’t have to make them as often. I should also add that this same gal, Bren, has a deadly delicious chocolate peanut butter muffin recipe that’s healthy, also! I made them on Monday. Some pics are on my Instagram!

Listening || to First Aid Kit. They’re a couple of Scandinavian gals who sing Americana. It’s actually really cool, with some lush harmonies and some interesting (and also not clean) lyrics. Check them out! I’ve enjoyed several of their albums.

Loving || some of the things we have planned for our days Charleston this week! We have some friends getting married there, and so we will fill our free time with the beach, the aquarium, sweet friends, and good eats!

Planting || all of the things! That torrential rain we got here in NC last week was actually good for us, as far as our garden goes. I can tell things have been growing, despite getting beaten by the rain. We’ve planted seedlings and seeds of all sorts, including several types of lettuce, yellow and green squash, eggplants, carrots, broccoli, radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes, lots of herbs, and a few blueberry bushes. I can’t wait until things start bearing fruit and we get to eat all our hard work!

Lovely lettuces.
My little helpers!
Soon you will be tomatoes!

Remembering || to keep on eating healthy and getting my rest. I transferred my registration from the half-marathon this past weekend to one on May 13th. I had been feeling so poorly for several days before that I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to actually race well. It was really disappointing, to be totally honest. It was a hard couple of days knowing I should have been up to it but I wasn’t. But now I’m back at it to make sure I am healthy, fit, and can race well on the 13th! I even bought a fresh pair of runners to start breaking in since my current pair is beginning to wear out. 

The new girls.

Training in my glasses because eye infections are the WORST.

That’s about it in our world. What have you been up to currently? Feel free to join our link up, or comment and let me know!

10 Things I Miss About Being Single

This post also appeared on the Grit and Grace Project. I’m a contributor there – go check it out!

It seems I should start this off with a disclaimer: I’m a happily married woman. Now that I’ve told you that, I can tell you the rest. There are some things that I miss about my days being single. Most of those don’t have to do with guys or dating or anything… but just about who I was during that time, and how I was able to live. Being in a healthy relationship certainly has MANY perks, but every once in a while, I pine for pure alone time, less responsibility, and a different lifestyle. Here are some of the things I miss about being single.

Only being responsible for myself. I mean that in the best way, but I’m serious. I almost can’t remember the last time that I got ready to go somewhere alone, packed only what I myself needed, and didn’t worry about what would be forgotten if I didn’t make my list and check it twice. Only worrying about yourself is just easiest.

Being on time. I won’t pretend that I was on time anytime I went somewhere, but I was punctual about 50% more when I was single than I am now. Even just being married and adding a man into the mix made me chronically late. They think they don’t take that long to get ready, and so they wait until four minutes before you need to leave to hop in the shower. Come ON!

Saturdays. Once upon a time, a Saturday was entirely my own. Sleep? Okay! Have unlimited and unhurried quiet time with the Lord? Absolutely. Read a book or three? Yes, please! Shower whenever (or take a bubble bath!), leave the house (or don’t), eat what I want, and lay on the couch for a movie marathon? ALL OF THE YES.

Having my own spending money. Don’t get me wrong- I have spending money, and I don’t need permission to use it. But inevitably, I don’t splurge on things as much as I used to, if only because I have a conscience. What I might’ve spent on a new dress usually gets spent on a new dress for my daughter. What I might have saved up for a new handbag gets whittled away by this son’s need for new shoes, that nice dinner out, or my husband’s birthday present.

Living in a small space. I know, a small space isn’t necessarily something that is just for single people. But somehow, only having a few rooms to keep clean, or furnish, or lose things in does actually appeal to me. However, my family of five can’t quite fit into a one-bedroom apartment, no matter how many toilets I don’t feel like cleaning.

More frequent girls’ nights. I know, I could have girls’ nights whenever I want – and I do! But it used to be that most nights of the week were girls’ nights. Grabbing dinner with a friend, getting with the girls to watch The Bachelor, or spending a night out on the town all dressed up, it could be any or every night. Now, it takes planning not just on the part of the girls, but their significant others, their kids, and/or their babysitters. It’s enough trouble to plan and prepare that it definitely doesn’t happen a few times a week.

Having my closet to myself. I took for granted the joy of having a closet to myself. My color-coded closet was a thing to behold, not to mention the way my laundry was the only laundry I did, so I was never behind. There was plenty of room to look through my clothes – and now the closet is so stuffed with suits and ties that I hardly have room to hang my nice dresses.

Eating whatever I want, whenever I want it. Sometimes, it can be frustrating to have to worry about what time someone else can have a meal, or to cater to their dietary needs and your own. That’s one thing I miss about being single- if I wanted cereal for dinner, I ate it. My hubby, on the other hand, would be mortified if we sat down to a dinner of Frosted Mini-Wheats.

Having truly alone time.  There’s something to be said for having some moments of relaxation, quiet time, and introversion that are completely your own. Having a SO can sometimes cut into those times, even if it’s not always in a bad way. But I often find that there isn’t a place in our home where I’m truly alone, without interruption or at least knowledge of someone else close by. I haven’t had more than a few minutes of total by-myself time in years.