Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Morning

This may have been my favorite Christmas. My favorite one where I was on the other end, getting to see the magic on the child's face. We were able to have Andrew's parents (also known as Showpa and Gigi) over this year for Christmas. Andrew said this made him feel old compared to the young singles at work, all heading home for the holidays. He told them that his parents were coming to his house this year. Because we have all the magic at our house. Well, maybe that's not entirely true, but children bring innocence and life and on Christmas morning it can feel a bit like magic.

Andrew and I wrapped the last of the gifts on Christmas Eve. Andrew decided to open the little train set he had wrapped for Blanche and put it around the tree. Blanche woke up early that morning. I sat on the bed whispering to Andrew who was still sleeping next to Rosemary, "Do you want to get up? I am not opening the door yet because of what you set up under the tree. But it was your idea so you should get up to see her face."

We both let Blanche open the door to the living from our family bedroom, we followed close behind and someone turned on the tree lights. She looked at her little train set with happiness. She said, "Oh a new train and my old train!" Andrew had put them all together. She played for a couple of minutes and then said, "I am so excited!"

Rosemary was quick to wake up and walk out to inspect Blanche's gift. The girls then literally seemed to dance around the tree and kept looking out the window for Showpa and Gigi. Once they finally saw them, Blanche ran to the front door. Rosemary raised her little hand and waved out the window. Showpa said that was probably the cutest moment of the day.

Andrew said that during Christmas shopping and deciding what to give the girls I had an identity crisis. I bought a bunch of dollar items at Target and then returned almost all of them. I probably kept talking about it to Andrew for five days. It isn't that buying dollar items from Target is really wrong, it is just that I could tell I was buying stuff. Just buying stuff to have stuff and to try and get a huge reaction from Blanche. And as I caught myself doing that I realized that wasn't what I really wanted. I wanted a few simple and natural toys. I wanted open ended toys that allowed Blanche to use her imagination and that did not require batteries. I also did not want to spend money we really did not have. I think overall I worried way too much about the entire thing. But I think I was trying to process what I wanted Christmas to really be for our family.

When I look at these pictures I can see that this Christmas was what I wanted for our family. We were together. We had sparkly lights and a few nice gifts. We had a homemade breakfast and lunch made by Andrew. There were fun times playing with Showpa and Gigi. It also means so much to me when they not only come over or have us over, but that they truly play with Blanche and Rosemary. Most people like babies and toddlers, but not a lot of people really know how to play. Gigi and Showpa do. Showpa played all sort of games with Blanche that day under the Christmas tree beside her train track. And to finish a beautiful day we took a walk in the woods behind our apartment. By that afternoon we were all full and warm and happy. I hope that each year some of these things can become traditions. I also pray my girls will see that family, togetherness, and the celebration of the birth of Christ is what matters the most.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Overcoming Perfectionism

A few days ago I woke up in the middle of a rainstorm after a nap. The room was dark and my babies were beside me snuggled under our quilts. I laid there, I had woke before the two of them. I had probably just had a cat nap since I am not use to naps anymore. I breathed the room in slowly. We had the diffuser misting with essential oil and the sound of that mixed with the drizzling rain made me want to snuggle into the bed even more. I thought to myself, "you know, life isn't perfect but it can get pretty close in some moments."

I taste the moments that feel like perfection and I often strive to make that a constant reality. Which it can never be. I am a dreamer and planner and visionary. This can result in a lot of expectations which I don't even realize I have had until my world crumbles when things are not going like I had hoped. I think my need for perfection is rooted in my artist mind. I see beautiful pictures, not even my own but others that capture the beauty of their days and I know that life often can overtake a person with it's beauty. But it is also so hard at times.

Recently I have been posting pictures on my instagram of the bulldozing going on next to our apartment complex. I have been so sad about it. I told Andrew today that I know that in a big city expansion is going to happen. It is just sad to see it happen right next to us, when it was so wild and lovely and filled with life. Even more so they are building a preschool and after school program there, and they didn't leave a tree. After reading more of The Last Child in the Woods, and being outside with my girls, it often makes me sad that so many children have such little access to the wild and nature. And then here is a beautiful plot of land and instead of building creatively to give the children a nice play area, it is flattened to the ground, paved, and plastic slides are put in. Once again I am dreaming of a world that stays forever but also moves forward.

After thinking some about the field and the construction, I have decided to not focus on the negativity beside me and look to the back of our complex, which still has woods and a creek. Perfectionism often results in disappointment, but thankfulness results in not only a happy heart but it helps me to see where the value of my life lies. By seeing the woods completely flattened, I have come to value the creek and woods behind us even more. One day we may have our own land, but for now we live in the suburbs in an apartment complex and we are lucky enough to have this behind us.

Tonight as Andrew was working the girls and I decided to go on a little walk. Rosemary had skipped her morning nap and then took a nice and long afternoon nap. By the time she woke up I wasn't feeling ambitious enough to take the girls out in traffic to a park and hope Blanche didn't fall asleep in the car. Today I knew we should go to the creek in thankfulness. I asked Blanche if she wanted to bring a basket and collect interesting things. Along our way we picked up sticks and acorns and leaves. Blanche road her bike down through our complex until we got to the back part with the woods and creek. I wore Rosemary on my back and we all tried crossing the creek on the tops of the three large rocks that cross it. I was so focused on keeping my own balance and making sure to still have Blanche's hand, that when I looked back at Blanche following me, her first little foot was just standing in the water. We got through to the other side, and Blanche began to cry. I asked her to use her words. I asked her if she was frusterated that her shoes and socks were wet. I told her thats why we have to stay on the rocks and that I would wash them once we were home. She stopped crying and began throwing rocks in and crossing the creek back and forth. I didn't mind that her shoes and socks were getting wet. I figured even though it was cold, it was still about 50 degrees and ten minutes of getting her feet wet might do her more good than harm.

We hurried back to the house, and I made plans in my mind that we would all hop in a warm bath before dinner. With this apartment one of my favorite things has been taking short walks in the woods on cloudy and cold days and coming into a warm home. Actually we took a really dusty and hot walk one summer day as well, and it was equally as refreshing coming back into the house with both girls passed out on us, laying them on the bed, and then Andrew and I guzzling water. I guess my favorite thing about this house is our short little walks that we can take in the woods. I have found that to be one refreshing thing about apartment living, each place has something special. At our old place I came to love and really miss watching the rain storms roll in and pour down from our second floor patio. We had big glass doors that you could see out from the entire kitchen and living room because our place was just that small.

After the girls and I were back inside and had taken our warm bath, I made them dinner while they were in their pjs. I was rushing around, making lots of little and unimportant things. I had chicken nuggets going in the oven for the girls, broccoli on the stove, my leftover stir fry in the microwave. Blanche had pulled out applesauce and wanted juice too. We settled on just the applesauce and a few pieces of cheese with crackers as an appetizer. All this was happening as I tried to keep Rosemary out of the way while flipping their chicken nuggets. Rosemary was doing her usual balancing act of standing upright on two feet and hanging desperately to my legs as if I was the only thing that could bring her balance and life. She cried out, I sighed. Blanche asked what I was doing. I told her I was doing 12,000 things with both of them at my feet. She answered, "Yes but you are doing a very important job." She is becoming the age where she is always talking, and at one point in the day, she hits the nail directly on the head.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Tree Decorating and Early Resolutions

Motherhood is a juggling act, and I don't actually know how to juggle. I tend to throw everything up in the air at once and dive straight out into the air to try and catch everything. This results in me catching about 75% of what I am juggling. The rest of it falls to the ground, sometimes breaking and other times just rolling away.

Andrew knows how to juggle. Actually he really does know how. He can hacky sack and do other sorts of funny things like tap dance. Along with working he cooks for us. And when he is exhausted at the end of the day he doesn't overthink or get emotional he just goes to bed. Is there actually a correct method to juggle? I always thought it was throwing things up and being fast enough to catch them all.

I want to have a clean house that feels welcoming. I want to be the type of mother that really sits down with her children and plays with and teaches them. But I also want to work on my writing and photography. I am frustrated when I look at the pictures I took of the girls decorating the tree. Of course once again the best photos were taken with my phone. When I think back to that day I remember how I was trying to balance the chaos with trying to enjoy the moment. I was making coffee, putting on Christmas music, getting the step ladder for Andrew, removing Rosemary from the top of the step ladder, removing broken ornaments, helping Blanche and telling her to wait for Andrew to finish putting on the lights, oh and trying to take pictures. No wonder when I loaded them onto the computer I was disappointed with their blurry and rushed fashion. Even if I was being still, Rosemary was yanking on the camera strap. 

The actual moments of decorating the tree were fun. I was glad we had the music and the coffee. One year the chaos will be less instead of more. I just don't know what year that will be. I am okay with the chaos most of the time. Chaos is my life. Its not bad chaos. Its just a lot of little things all going on at once. I told my mother in law this week that it is almost as if I can do about three things at once, but usually there are four happening. And that's why I often loose my phone or leave my keys in the front door for a few hours, or forget to sign for my card at the store, or Rosemary literally almost jumps out of the cart. There is a lot going on. And I only have two children. I think they are both at very active stages. Rosemary is at a point where she is very mobile but cannot be trusted at any height other than her own stance. Blanche is getting better, but is still only three. They both need me a lot. 

I write all this because today was a day when I felt like I needed to sit down and type. I read two different blog posts by mothers yesterday, and I was captivated by and jealous of their writing. I know deep down that I can write like them, with time and practice. But I really have very little time. Maybe there is laziness or tiredness mixed in. I can never tell if I am lazy or tired. 

I am excited for Christmas. Even just taking a small drive to Houston to see all of Andrew's family for a couple of days will feel like a get away. I am always so eager to go. I want to travel more. I think with small children traveling just results in moving. We are not settled yet. Our family doesn't know what the next five years will look like. We have goals, and no one really knows what the future holds, but by simply signing eleven or twelve months leases we are saying that we don't really know. I like the unknown in a lot of ways. 

One of the blogs I was reading last night, which I have written about long ago is The Road is Home.
I often envy her free spirited life and many travels. I know that my life and her life are very different though. But one thing she wrote really hit me. And I think she explained to me why I love traveling and moving around so much. She wrote: 

"That’s the beautiful thing about connecting with other people, you’re opening doors that will likely stay open no matter how much time has passed. In this way I kind of see every stranger as a door waiting to be opened. Stories and perspectives just waiting to be unlocked, laughter and love waiting to be shared."

Meeting so many people and seeing not only new place but new perspectives on life is so refreshing and cultivating to me. When I see her posts and photography I just want to go. There are days when I want to walk around the house and get rid of half or more of my possessions. I want to go. But I know deep down that going will not change my life. It will not change the need for me. That is the  heaviest thing to carry in motherhood. It is the need. I often sit to eat a meal and both girls are at my feet. Someone is maybe crying. I can rarely escape the need. And it is not that I do not like or even love being a mother. I do. Motherhood does not have to be something I either love or hate. I feel like this is where I am called to be. But the constant need and lack of personal time is what drains me the most. I use to think I was an extravert and that I got my energy from people. I still want to connect, but mostly with just one person at a time. And I want and need this time to just sit and write.

Blanche just came to me as I was finishing the last paragraph. She asked to sit on my lap so I could help her with her gold shoes. She is playing dress up and needed help. I could feel myself being even more relaxed than just a couple of moments ago. Sometimes just writing that I am tired of being needed is enough. I can then put it out there and remember there will be days when I wish I was more needed. And then Blanche told me she loved me, I kissed her and then she tooted on my lap. She has watched the same signing time dvd now going on the third time as I sit here writing this. I tried to get her to nap with Rosemary but Blanche seemed pretty awake. I also did not want to waste all my free time while Rosemary slept trying to get Blanche down. So I keep telling her to go play. I hear the clink of markers coming out of her glass jar on the wooden desk where she sits and colors. She has stollen most of my granola bar and bartered time alone with me simply just giving her a candy cane. Okay Blanche, here is your candy. Now go away. I will be a better mother once you go away for thirty minutes.

Well, once again I am back to rambles and forgetting what I was going to say next. I will say that typing is so much easier than handwritten journal entries. All of my old journals have posts that say I am going to write more. And I write more for about a week and then stop. But maybe I can start better habits. Better habits of pushing through and instead of zoning to social media I could sit here and type a bit more. Because deep down I was an artist first. The artist in me makes me the good and bad mother that I am. 

Blanche just sang to me, "find a way to play together." I guess that's my cue. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

What Hiking Taught Me

In my last few posts I have talked about my "Project Get Outside" and "Hike it Baby 30." I haven't written as much lately, and I think the hiking challenge was the start of the writing decline. I think I go through seasons of not only needing to write, but even more so needing to be heard. I process by talking out loud and by writing through my feelings. I think often times this blog becomes a place where I can do both of those things. I know I can write through my feelings, and often times the next day I might have a couple of text messages about my posts. Just getting little messages is the support I need from those posts.

But once I started getting outside more, and then trying to hike more, there has been a little less time for writing. The Hike It Baby 30 was more of a challenge than I thought. Thirty miles is not that many miles. But when you are hiking there can be a lot of work put into a mile. Then add the baby, more work. Then add the toddler who wants to walk and also has to be carried at the end even though she still thinks she wants to walk. That's a lot of work. But we did it. I did flat dirt trails and brought my jogger when it was both girls and me alone. Andrew went with us for a few days and we did everything from a brand-new place with harder trails, to getting lost in a place we had been several times, to walking 6.5 miles along our greenbelt, and finishing off downtown along the river. It was a great month. I often felt tired and really did not want to get out on a few cold and rainy days. Andrew pushed us and so did the Facebook group full of other moms. There were many moms hiking miles in the snow. Which made me feel inspired to take my girls out in the beautiful Texas weather.

I think what I realized tonight though, half a month after this contest was over, was that hiking taught me something. It taught me that I can do more than I think I can. Even with stressful life circumstances (well stressful stages of childhood) like Blanche finally being ready to be potty trained (while we were trying to hike in the woods) and Rosemary getting four teeth all at once. We had a few bumps, but that is normal for any time with small children. There were days when I wanted to give up and not go anywhere because I had already dressed Blanche twice, she kept stripping down to use her potty, Rosemary would be crawling toward the potty with pee in it and then unrolling the toilet paper... all while I am trying to pack snacks... and we hadn't even hiked any miles yet.

But I think without knowing it, this contest pushed me into a new comfort level with the girls. I think I am braver at getting out, at meeting new people, at going to events and also have started making more goals for myself. During this hiking I stopped writing so much, but once the contest was over I didn't start back up with my blog. I moved on and started working on Rosemary's baby book that I had thought before that I just did not have enough time to work on. I started sorting and editing more photos, and even when I did feel like writing I have wrote more personally in my journal. One way is not any better than the other really, but I do find it interesting. I think I have less of a need to be heard. Less of a need to know the plan and a little bit more enjoyment with the everyday.

This last week we have had way more good days than bad. I would say even 6.5 out of 7. Which is really good. I'm not meaning bad as in horrible,  just exhausting. But this last week we have been doing so well! We have had a few really nice family days where it feels semi-relaxing and we are even home for most of the day! This is saying a lot with a very mobile baby and very active toddler. But they have played well and there have been almost "slow" mornings. That doesn't mean Andrew and I aren't still crawling out of bed each morning... because it will be awhile before we actually feel rested. But we are having fun. Andrew and I are play board games with my brother and card games alone sometimes. I am crafting and he is reading about wine. We have gotten our evenings back again. Oh the roller coaster life of parenthood.

Yesterday I had just been feeling off and a bit tired though. And Andrew took the girls to the park. Of course I was feeling a bit tired and grumpy and glad to see a few minutes alone. Then of course right as Blanche is leaving she shoots her soft and sweet little spirit right at my heart. She kept waving and waving goodbye to me through the glass door. When I finally cracked it open she said, "Okay, I have to leave now mommy okay?" After I told her bye one more time she asked, "Did you want to come mommy?" "Next time" I answered. She smiled and as she turned she whispered, "Yeah next time." I could have just fallen over right there. She had this little smile of assurance on her face. She happily ran to daddy. But that little whisper was like a thousand I love yous.

Once they were gone I started working on photos and listening to music. It just hit me that my entire world and life is my family. My job is motherhood. My job is wife and homemaker. There is nothing I would rather be doing. It can be a hard and trying job. Motherhood is difficult but it is worth it. I was reading a mom's instagram post just today and she was saying that in the end it really is no sacrifice at all. And I after reading some of her words and thinking through my own I know it is not. At least it is not me sacrificing things for my children that should not be giving up in the first place. All that my children are doing is making me a better person if I let them. They are making me stronger, one step at a time.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Time Management

I took these pictures today. Blanche was in the bath during Rosemary's morning nap. Blanche and I had started out at the kitchen table working on addressing her thank you cards for her birthday. This mostly meant me addressing them and Blanche making "tiger stripes" up and down both arms with marker while I tried to persuade her to stop. I say persuade because I guess I "pick my battles." Actually it is just that I am tired. And then I pray a silent prayer that those markers are in fact nontoxic and then we both decided she should just take a bath.

When Blanche was taking a bath I sat down on her little wooden stool and leaned against the wall. I started reading a book while she was playing. I kept looking up to the sweetest little face in that tub. I went and grabbed my camera. Then Rosemary woke up and made her way to our bathroom. I sat there feeling happy and relaxed. Sometimes when I feel a shift in the normal chaos I stop and try to figure out if a variable has changed. Why are there many moments when I feel like I can't catch my breath and other times I feel so relaxed? There probably isn't really an answer. But I think what I am learning is that I have to let go of a lot of the things that stress me out. Babies and toddlers are going to be babies and toddlers. Which is pretty chaotic a lot of the time.

I like things to feel clean and homey. I do not like to open the shower curtain and see a ring around the tub or feel crumbs on my kitchen floor. But most of the time, there is a ring around the tub, crumbs on the kitchen floor, and several loads of laundry to either be washed or folded. It is just life. And I am learning that if I worry over these things too much, it will steal the joy from all the happiness that is around me. I love to clean and organize. I love time alone. I love time with Andrew alone. But there is only so much time in a day. And most of my hours awake are with the girls. So I guess all that I am trying to process is how to divide my time.

I told Andrew yesterday I just do not understand how people are bored. Not that I am never exhausted. Because there are plenty of nights after the girls are asleep that all I can do is make sure the kitchen is clean and then brush my teeth and crawl back into bed. But there are always two lists in my mind. A list of things that really need to be done, and a list of things that I really want to get done. Mostly cleaning and deeper cleaning is on the need to list. And then I think most of my artistic side is what makes up the other list. I want to crochet, organize and edit photos, work on Rosemary's baby book, read and write... I have written before about Andrew's and my love for hobbies. I also think it's the feeling of needing more time so I start to think of more and more that I could do with an extra hour.

But behind all those lists are two little girls who will not be that little for long. I know there will be a day when this season of raising small children is over. But I think on the other end that we are not that close to the end of having small children. So, I should learn to manage what I can and enjoy the rest. I have given up having the laundry always done or put away. I have decided that sometimes spending time alone or with Andrew is more important. I often feel like a teenager trying to play house. Trying to raise babies and keep my cool and make a house a home. I don't feel very good at it. But I know that the most important thing is to keep moving forward. And to let go of so much of the pressure I put on myself.

Today something as simple as sitting down on a small little stool and being down on the same level as my bathing toddler was what I needed. I know I need to stop and soak in life so much more of the time. I am a dreamer and there are times like today that I am lying in bed dreaming of literally living in Nantucket... but then I put my phone down and dreams aside and I see so much of my dreams are right in front of me. I had two rowdy girls not napping but giggling and rolling around in bed while the rain came down outside. I love the idea of having my camera always near and having that photographer's heart because there truly is beauty all around, waiting to be captured.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Called to Motherhood

I remember when I was in college and sitting in the middle of a charismatic church service. I was raised Southern Baptist, but had been going to this church for a couple of years. I was at a time in my life where God was so real I felt like I could almost reach out and touch him. I was seeking and finding. I was in a season where I was being healed from things in my past, and also where I thought I was being prepared to go overseas and work with the poor. This whole season of my life and why I ended up not going overseas is a story for another day. But during that church service I heard God tell me something. I was use to hearing God a lot. So I accepted it and put it on the back burner. Because to me this request was really far off. He told me to have as many children as he would see it fit. I had a vision of me with a big family. Maybe not your TLC kind of big family, but a large one still. I had always wanted to be a mom and this request felt like a happy one.

This story is a long and rather complicated one, and I am mostly bringing this up as a way to continue to tell more of my own story. Not to present my own family's ideas or theology. I think the real story is not as much about what I believe or what I think I was told by God six years ago, but what I am doing now. 

See, the thing that has been getting me lately, and I have even written a bit about in the last few weeks, is that God wasn't preparing me to serve the poor overseas. At least not right now. He was preparing me for the thing I put on the back burner. Motherhood. 

I met Addew that same year of college. We were engaged less than a year later and then married the next summer. We were pregnant six months after getting married, after letting go once again of my own plans. Two months after our first anniversary we had a newborn. And by our third anniversary we were pregnant with Rosemary. 

I have loved having my babies. I love that they are fairly close in age. I have loved not having any hormones in my body and spacing naturally with breastfeeding. But in the last couple of months I have discovered a lot. I often fear and dismiss what God has for me. Because it is hard. And tiring. And extremely frustrating. And when I think about these things, and my own selfishness and how I want more time to myself and less time serving my children and family... I know this call is from God. 

It was only in the past couple months that I think it really hit me that this is what God has for me right now. Motherhood. I have learned that the easy way out to a problem is to say I'm done, but true growth is to persevere and listen to God. 

My true belief in God and Jesus is because it is a story of sacrifical love. And I have always believed that I am suppose to learn to accept that love, love myself, and turn to those around me and love them the same. I had ideas of myself being Mother Teresa but just being a mother to first one and then two is enough to turn my world upside down. I often react out of anger and tiredness and rarely put myself truly last. As a young college student I thought being great was doing something the whole world could see, but maybe it is being behind closed doors changing diapers and putting babies to sleep. 

I had always heard of people being called out of their every day American lives to being placed as a servant in a third world  country. I didn't imagine I would want to go to a third world country and God would put me in the suburbs. I thought motherhood was far off or could be fun for awhile and then I would get my old life back. I would get the old me back. But the truth is the old me isn't worth going back to. The old me was more selfish. The old me wasn't very humble. The old me didn't really know what working hard even meant. 

I am writing all this to remind myself of my current calling. I am called to motherhood. I have been given the most beautiful and most common job. Everyone has a mother. And there are many mothers out there that know so much more than me. 

Every day I try to figure it out. How to help everyone at once. I have a hard time letting go of my mistakes and remembering my victories. But the truth is that it is hard to live a life of love when I hate myself. If I do not think I am worthy of love, then my own children who look and act so much like myself will receive those lies as well. I am loved. They are loved. God help me to rise to my calling. Let me love and rise to the daily job of motherhood. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Wedding Dress

Andrew's mother has her own mother's wedding dress. We decided to take a few pictures of it because the dress is unwearable and she is thinking of turning it into something else. Today while we were over at her house I took a few pictures. It was fun to work with something that felt a little more fine art over just taking pictures of the girls.  I wanted to try and bring life to the dress a bit but not make it too eery as it is an old wedding dress.

The dress itself is beautiful, and I think the pictures captured it well. I am glad our family will have pictures of the dress and veil as it is becoming more fragile over time. While I was taking pictures of the dress even though I had never met Andrew's grandma, I couldn't help but think about how quickly time moves. The wedding pictures look old but not that old. I kept thinking about this woman who I never met wore this dress and then had my mother in law one day as her baby. And now that baby is a grandma playing with her grandkids outside while I take pictures of the dress. I thought about Blanche as a grandma one day.

I have always loved older and vintage things. I think that time only makes them more special. In the end, things are only things, but to me material possessions are so much more meaningful when they have stories and memories behind them. I was honored to be able to see the dress and photograph it for Andrew's mom today.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Project Get Outside: Hike It Baby 30

I started my "Project Get Outside", or at least took the first picture and did #projectgetoutside,  seven weeks ago. I can't believe we have been in this newer rhythm of getting outside for seven weeks already. In some ways I feel like I have finally been given a secret. A secret weapon really. There is something about nature that is so calming on my children. I am not saying it removes every bump or drama that is happening that day, but it brings peace to all of us. I literally am finding (and have known deep down) that if I am in a sour mood normally a walk outside will bring me out of it. Andrew use to beg me to walk when I felt depressed. But I would often resist. I think I am realizing there's not any power in staying in a bad place, and that I can help heal myself physically and emotionally by being outside.

These pictures were from a couple of days ago when I was feeling that funk of tiredness and mess. It is hard with two small children because there really is never much of a break. I love being a mother but it is hard to not really have that moment where I decide since its Saturday that I will just take it easy and read a good book. I know it is only a season, but there are some days where it's harder to sit down for a breath and watch Blanche throw everything off the couch onto the floor. I am doing a lot better with messes, but there are some days where I want to stop feeling like I am playing a never ending game of who can clean up a mess or make a mess the fastest. One thing I love about nature is that we can make a big mess and then leave. We can throw wood chips and sticks and eat our lunch outside and burn off some of that energy.

The thing about nature too though is that it takes me by surprise. I arrive grumpy and the wind blows across my face and the sun kisses my cheeks. The birds are singing and I begin to feel as though nature is my lover trying to make me laugh. Trying to remind me life isn't so bad. My head starts to clear a bit like I've just been told a good joke. Yeah, why was I so stressed anyways?

Today the girls and I started a second project. This one is a part two to our getting outside. I am involved a bit with a hiking group in Austin. It is called Hike it Baby.  This program is such an awesome one. One of my friends from the baby wearing group actually helped start the Austin chapter. A lot of us baby wearers had been meeting to hike, and now we are an official chapter. It is normally really low key and fun. I usually go when Andrew can help with Blanche, but just the girls and I have went once on a toddler led hike. This month however they are doing a fun contest and challenge called "Hike it Baby 30." It is 30 miles of hiking and walking in the 30 days of November. This is an awesome addition to my Project Get Outside. I have finally gotten comfortable getting out with both girls. I know what to pack and how long certain trails are going to take. Now I can be part of a challenge to track my miles and watch as other mamas across the country do the same.

I am doing as many miles on our regional dirt trail as I can with the girls alone. Then I am hoping Andrew can help us on a few more adventurous hikes around the Austin area as well. The girls and I did 4 miles today. 26 to go. We can do this! I know though in my competitive personality, that it is good that I am still reading The Last Child in the Woods. Because although having a goal and meeting it is important, I still want to make sure the girls are getting their chance to run and play, and not just logging miles.

I am reading in The Last Child in the Woods about how children just need free and unscheduled time. They need the loose and free objects of nature to play and explore and grow. I am so thankful for this book, and how life or God often connects things. I love that my journey is becoming such a beautiful one each day. I am loving that I live in an area with amazing trails and parks. And beautiful weather. I am feeling blessed to be given two beautiful girls that I get to take outside. Right now although things can feel crazy at times, my main job is to just love my little girls. We really have very little worries in this stage. The biggest meltdown of the day can simply be over a granola bar. It is a gift to be given the chance to not only bring life into this world, but to be allowed to cultivate that life with love and the beauty of nature.

My other two posts about Project Get Outside:

First Post

Second Post