Scattered thoughts and the search for new year’s clarity

I told Kristin today that I’m feeling just a tiny bit panicky about my lack of clarity for 2020. I generally give myself until my birthday (which buys me an extra two weeks) to think about any intentions I’d like to set for my year. Last year a friend suggested choosing just a few distinct words to focus on rather than traditional resolutions, and I settled on just one: open. It turned out to be a surprisingly lovely approach. While I didn’t begin each day reminding myself to be more open there were many instances and decision points in which I leaned on that intention to guide my actions. When I think about some of the things I’m proud of from 2019 many of them were driven (or somehow connected to) that intention: presenting at Pecha Kucha, adopting our first-ever pet (Ivy), and starting Karate (which might be the most humbling thing I’ve ever done).

I started 2019 with perhaps more intentionality than I have in any year past, and I think some of that had to do with it being the year I turned 40. This year though, I’m struggling to gain clarity on what my focus or intention ought to be. Kristin wisely pointed out that trying to force clarity is probably the opposite of what’s needed. So instead of insisting that inspiration strike, I thought that I might have more success writing out some things that have been floating around lately. Continue reading

PechaKucha – The power of doing things that scare you

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For 2019 my new year’s resolution was simply the word “open.” I was turning 40, and I wanted to be open to more things, more possibilities, more perspectives. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I wanted to say yes to everything (I’m too picky for that, though I know that exercise has been magical for some), I simply hoped to pause when judgment or old habits crept in and consider a new way of thinking.

Over a year ago I learned about PechaKucha when my friend Kara presented. According to the global website…

PechaKucha (Japanese for “chit chat”) is the world’s fastest-growing storytelling platform, used by millions around the globe.

PechaKucha is what “Show and Tell” always dreamed of becoming.

20 slides. 20 seconds of commentary per slide. That’s it. Simple. Engaging. Spurring authentic connections.

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Creative energy – holiday edition

Kristin often seems bewildered by my desire to be doing something so much of the time. It’s not as if we have oodles of time to spare, but I get fidgety quickly when I have too much time and nothing to fill it. Not only that, but I’ve discovered that time actually seems to slow down a bit when I’m doing something creative. I recently wrapped up a photo editing class and have been excited to dive into some new things.

Last weekend I had all sorts of creative plans but wasn’t sure any of them would pan out the way I’d envisioned. This time of year one of my favorite things is always taking and choosing a photo and designing our Christmas cards. My sister and I always share notes and screenshots and plans because we’re equally bonkers when it comes to early holiday planning, and because we’ve both mailed cards without fail for years and years. Hers is always one I’m most excited to receive, because I know she loves the whole thing as much as I do. A month ago we attempted family photos when they were in town staying with my parents, but we had marginally uncooperative kids and finicky weather that weekend and nothing spectacular came of it. Continue reading

Halloween 2019

I was so on top of Halloween this year. I knew that I was going to have more than usual on my plate this month (I promise to write about Pecha Kucha soon, because it was amazing), so I got an early start and finished a couple of weeks early. The weather forecast for Halloween isn’t looking good but today was gorgeous, so I told the kids that I wanted to take costume photos today just in case it’s pouring on Thursday. Continue reading

September roundup

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School started a couple of weeks ago and it feels like it’s been months since we were up north. I miss that time, so Kristin and I have already been talking about next summer’s vacation. My parents are on an epic cross-country road trip right now and the things they’re seeing and doing make me want to do a lot more camping and outdoor exploring. Continue reading

Northern Michigan Vacation – 2019

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Sleeping Bear Dunes at sunset. My favorite place.

It really hasn’t been that long since we returned from our road trip up north, but it feels like an eternity of juggling work and kids and school year prep has passed, so trying to get back there in my head to write about it is a challenge.

We thought about changing things up this year (without any specific locations in mind) but the kids love our summer tradition so much that they wouldn’t have it. Jude in particular talks about the cabins and Mackinac Island all year long. They love this trip. Continue reading

Big feelings and little moments

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I worked from home today, which technically I suppose I do every weekday, but what I mean is that I worked from my actual house instead of my parents’ house – the place I usually refer to as my summer office. I stayed home because Kristin was speaking on an education panel up in Lansing this morning. Maybe it was because I was getting a glimpse of the kids’ lazy summer days that I normally miss, or maybe it was because it’s August and my fear of not squeezing in enough special moments before school starts is creeping in, or maybe it’s because I have to leave for New York this Sunday, but I felt a huge sense of longing and sentimentality all day.  I just wanted to sweep them onto my lap and give them one more hug and wander outside to watch them lolling on the tree swing. Today I wished that I could be a stay at home mom, at least for a little while. It feels so unfair some days to miss so much of what really matters. Continue reading

Family tie-dye

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It’s nearly August and I’ve been feeling a little anxious lately. Even though I’m wise enough to know that summer isn’t as simple as ten weeks of uninterrupted quality family time, and that in some ways the routine and predictability (and lower expectations) of the school year are almost healthier for a personality like mine, I can never quite shake the urgency and panic that surrounds my need to squeeze the ultimate joy out of this season of long daylight and slow mornings. We’re doing pretty well with the summer bucket list, but I’m still concerned that the next month is going to pass by too quickly and that there’s more I could be doing to make it worthwhile.

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Becoming a camping family

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If you’d asked me a number of years ago if I considered myself to be “outdoorsy” I probably would have said no. For years I told people that I didn’t especially like BBQs or picnics because eating outside with insects on a table that was very likely stained with bird poop held very little appeal. Somehow though, over the past few years I’ve developed a mild obsession with homestead-y outdoorsy things, following strangers on Instagram who share perfect images of spotless yet wild looking children in modern-hippie-prarie garb (I think that’s a thing), in breathtaking homeschool landscapes in the mountains of Montana, reading amidst goats and chickens or tending to succulents in a stunning backyard greenhouse.

I wanted in. Kind of. I have a tiny vegetable garden, we started composting, and now I wanted to become a camping family.

Did you know that Kristin and I fell in love while camping? True story. It was a required part of a class and to be honest we both kind of hated that trip at the time, but that’s beside the point. It feels full-circle somehow. Continue reading

Learning to let go, as the picture of summer evolves

I woke up with a summer cold last Friday and knew that it had the potential to sabotage the weekend. We didn’t have much in the way of plans, which I suppose was good, but I crave that family time and the opportunity to make magic together. It was the solstice, and we’d talked about heading out to Virtue Cider in Fenville and then catching the sunset over Lake Michigan with some family friends. Fortunately my germs didn’t sway their dedication to the plan, and I figured it might be my best chance to make something of the weekend in case I felt worse in the coming days.

The kids ran wild together, discovering trails (full of poison ivy!) we didn’t know were there, chasing chickens, flipping over in hammocks and just enjoying the expansive surroundings.

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We adore these friends, and enjoyed the snippets of conversation that we were able to squeeze in as much as the kids enjoyed their wild freedom Continue reading