Everyday

Being Present

December 3, 2014

bepresent

In case you haven’t noticed, I never finished that photo-a-day project.

I found that the more grateful I felt, the less I wanted to spend time online. I wanted to spread that gratitude around in the real world. So, after 15 days of trying to follow through on a project 1 put down the camera and decided to be present.

You know what? It was liberating.

Even now, I really don’t want to be sitting at my computer writing this. I want to be quiet and still. My own form of hibernation.

Our little family is preparing for a simple and quiet holiday season, and a possibly chaotic 2015 with lots of travel. In order to prepare ourselves for that, I’ve decided to put all other projects on hold.

Blogging is on hold.

The photo business is on hold.

Craft projects are on hold.

Planning elaborate ANYTHING is on hold.

Running ourselves ragged is on hold.

We’re going to focus on being together and enjoying the present time.

I may touch back in before the end of December…but I may not.

Enjoy the remainder of your year. Reflect on all that you have accomplished this year, and all the ways you hope to grow in 2015.

Don’t be afraid to hibernate. It’s kind of awesome.

XO

Abbie

 

Everyday

Grateful Project: Days 11-15

November 16, 2014
grateful

Day 11) Healthy Kids

day11

I am grateful to have children who are so robust and healthy. I think JBird has only been sick about 5 times in her little life; which still feels like a lot but is a drop in the bucket compared to so many other children. I just love their little rosy-cheeked, glowing faces.

Day 12) Bond of Sisters


day12

I am grateful for the love that Jbird and Moon Baby share.These past few weeks have been really something in our home. The girls are becoming real playmates and companions. The sisterly bond that these two share is magical and makes my heart sing. Sometimes I’ll catch one of them snuggled up next to the other; gently playing with her sister’s hair or rubbing her back while the other plays quietly or flips through a book. Don’t get me wrong, they still scream at each other plenty.

Day 13) Breastfeeding Journey

day13

I am grateful to have been a successful breastfeeding mama for over 4 years. I nursed JBird until she was 2.5 years old with only minor hiccups along the way (early issues with over production). After 1 full year of nursing, Moon Baby is still going strong and will likely continue nursing until she is 2 as well. Extended (and exclusive) breastfeeding has been more difficult mentally than it has been physically, but I’m so happy that this has been a part of my life for so many years now.

Day 14) Giving Back

day14

I am grateful to be in a position in life where I can give back to others. I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of no strings attached generosity and thoughtful charity, and it feels really good to give back where I can.

Day 15) Food In My Fridge

day15I am grateful to open my fridge to find it full of healthy, real food to feed my family. I take for granted my full fridge and our full bellies everyday.

(And yes, that is a 3lb box of uncured bacon in my fridge. YOLO).

 

Everyday, Rhythm

Mealtime Verses

November 13, 2014
versesfoodie

versesOur day always seems to fall apart right before dinner time. Both girls are usually in serious need of mommy-time, and mommy almost always has to finish cooking.

As soon as my husband walks through the door, I hand off a screaming child, or two, and quickly try to get food on the table; because let’s face it, I’m starving.

Our meals are always so rushed.

As the preparer of the food, it would be nice to actually take a moment to enjoy it; instead of eating as fast as I can because everyone is losing it and I just want bedtime routine to begin ASAP. 

To help carve out a good mealtime rhythm for us (that hopefully will no longer involve screaming children), I’ve decided to put together a “verse basket”. Once the table is set (a new “big helper” activity for JBird), she can select a verse from the basket and we’ll say it aloud as a family. I couldn’t decide on a single verse to use, so I picked a couple. Simple verses and blessings that can be memorized over time and all have a sing-song rhythm to them. After a few months of this new rhythm, I’ll probably retire the verses that don’t seem to stick for her and we’ll just make one our mealtime blessing.

By adding something as simple as a mealtime verse, we are taking the time to all enjoy a collective exhale from the chaos of our days. We are able to come together for a moment, and regroup as a family unit.

We need to breath out.

We need to acknowledge each other.

We need to take a moment and listen to one another, instead of just talking at each other.


Mealtime Verses (taken from or inspired by Seven Times the Sun):

We are humbled in our questing
As we open to receive
We’re a family changed and changing
By the tapestry we weave

For each new morning
With it’s light
For rest and shelter
Of the night
For health and food
At days end
For everything thy
Goodness sends

Dear Earth, Dear Sun
By you we live
Our loving thanks,
To you we give.
Blessings on our meal,
Our family,
Our friends,
And our world 

We thank the earth
Who grew this food
From little bursting seeds
And the Keeper of the earth
Whose gifts fulfill
Our needs

Thank you for the world so sweet
Thank you for the food we eat
Thank you for the birds that sing
Thank you, Lord, for everything

Book Lists, School Room

November Reading List

November 12, 2014

booklist

It’s no surprise that many of our books for November have to do with giving thanks or being grateful. Here is this month’s reading list in our home:

Otters Under Water- Jim Armosky

Raccoons and Ripe Corn- Jim Arnosky

Fox- Kate Banks

Flora’s Very Windy Day -Jeanne Birdsall

Before We Eat (from farm to table)- Pat Brisson

A Turkey for Thanksgiving- Eve Bunting

The Awesome Book of Thanks- Dallas Clayton

Alligator Arrived With Apples: Crescent Dragonwagon

Mermaid Dance- Marjorie Rose Hakala

I’m Thankful Each Day- P.K. Hallinan

Abc’s From The Whippety Wood- Pamela Harden

The Thanksgiving Bowl- Virginia Kroll

Giving Thanks- Jonathan London

Give Thanks for Each Day- Steve Metzger

We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt- Steve Metzger

The Forest- Claire A. Nivola

The Cardboard Box Book- Sarah Powell

In November- Cynthia Rylant

Bear Says Thanks- Karma Wilson

The secret of saying thanks- Douglas wood

 

 

Everyday, Photos

Grateful Project: Days 6-10

November 12, 2014
grateful

Day 6: My Family

family1(my little brother aka Uncle X)

I am grateful to have the supportive family that I do. They have always accepted and loved me no matter what.

Day 7: My Nearby Friends

friends

My support system. My pseudo-family. My soulmate sister wives. I am grateful beyond words to have found these amazing friends.

Day 8: My Faraway Friends

faraway

The few friends I’ve been close to since elementary school. The handful of friends who I’ve known since high school and college.  All the  other great people whose paths crossed mine before we moved to WI. I am beyond grateful to still have them be a part of my life; despite the long distances.

Day 9: My Neighbors

neighbors

We won the lottery when it comes to our neighbors. On our small street, each neighbor helps out our little family anyway they can. From helping out with childcare (and giving me a break when Daddy Bear is away), to delivering all sorts of tasty treats just because. We are surrounded by generous and loving people.

Day 10: Staying home with the girls

beinghome

Even on our not so great days, it’s still the greatest job I’ve ever had. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to stay home with these girls (and Toby Dog). Not only am I enriching their lives, but they are enriching my life as well.

Everyday, Family

Grateful Project: Days 1-5

November 11, 2014
grateful

This has been a pretty hectic year and I find that the more crazy life gets, the easier it is to lose sight of all the things that really matter. To help refocus myself on all the good that I have in life, I’ve decided to use November as a photo-a-day project month; focusing on all the things that I am grateful for.

Since it’s already the 11th of the month, I’ve decided to combine the first 11 days of photos into several posts.


Day One: My Husband

daddybear

I am where I am today because of a dude who used to knit in the corner at Starbucks. I’m grateful to have him as a partner in all things. This awesome life of mine wouldn’t be what it is without him.

Day Two: My Girls

thegirls

My loves. My life. I am a better person because of them. Plus, they’re just so awesome!

Day Three: My Toby Dog

tobyMy boy. My doggie soul mate. I love him as much as I love my girls. I love him like people.
Day Four: My Health

health

This is probably the one thing in life I take for granted the most. I am lucky beyond words to be as healthy as I am.

Day Five: My Home

house

I love this little slice of heaven. The house we bought with the intention to sell in 5 years has quickly become a place I hope to stay for many many years.

 

Everyday, Family

Where did October go?!

November 11, 2014

October is always our busiest month of the year. Both of the girls have their birthdays in October, the first of our end of year guests arrive, and Daddy Bear is usually traveling a good deal for work. It’s a whirlwind of a month and typically leaves me feeling exhausted; just in time for our busy November and holiday season.
Brief updates:
JBird is now 4!

four years

She is officially no longer a toddler and in full on preschooler mode. Her imagination astounds me; as does her never ending interest in all things engineering. Within the past few weeks she’s really started to make an effort to try new foods. This is s HUGE milestone for her. In fact, she’s less and less apprehensive about “new things” every day.

Moon Baby is now 1!

firstbirthday
Her personality is shining though more and more each day. She’s such a happy and silly baby, but she also has a fierce temper. She’s started shaking her head no if she doesn’t want something you offer her. She’s also started to sign a few things (mainly the sign for “more”). She’s still as chunk-a-licious as ever. The most healthy looking baby I have ever seen.

As for me, I’m exhausted.

This year has totally zapped my energy and I’m finding more and more how difficult it is to do things the fulfill me (this blog, other blog work, the photography business, etc) while the girls are still so young. It’s been a year of growth, just not in the ways I thought I’d grow.

I’m currently in the process of trying to change my perspective on it all. Instead of being disappointed or too hard on myself, I’m trying to just accept and find peace at where I am at; to just be happy and present.

We can’t forget Halloween:

Moon Baby was a little bee, because she can be a such a little B sometimes.

As per the sister B’s demands, I was a cat (and she drew my whiskers).

JBird was Anna (from Frozen). Then she wanted to be Elsa (from Frozen). Then it was back to Anna. At the last minute (literally as we were heading to the door for trick-or-treating), she changed her mind again and decided to go as a Renaissance Maiden. The girl is ahead of the curve, because every other little girl was either Elsa or Anna. Always a trendsetter.

Halloween

feelgoodfoodie, Giveaways

Time for a Half Time (plus Giveaway)

October 8, 2014

halftime

*This post was created in partnership with Stonyfield. All opinions are my own.

I grew up in the 90’s. A time in our nation’s culinary history where children were served science experiments instead of food.

A flash back to my Lisa Frank lunch box in 1994 would look something like this:

-A yellow mustard sandwich on white bread (That’s right. Just mustard and white bread.)

-Fruit Snacks. The more plastic in consistency, the better. Plus, not just artificial colors but bioluminescence colors to boot.

-Bag of snack chips; ideally shaped like a face covered in orange powdered cheese. Anyone else remember those?

-Pacakge of cookies with frosting to dip them in

-Juice box contacting 0% juice and 100% magenta colored chemical water. The ones with the twisty tops. You know what I’m talking about.

-An embarrassing and cherished note from my mother written on my sandwich baggie

-Money for ice cream.

Gasp!

Hey, don’t judge. That is what everyone ate in 1994! (minus the mustard sandwich. I was ahead of my time).

On really special days, a pre-packaged lunch with DIY cold pizza would be waiting for me.

The craziest part is that ALL of those foods still exist for children to consume today.

Fast forward to 2014:

I get how impossibly hard it is to pack good lunches for school on a daily basis. Heck, I can’t even get my act together most weeks to make a decent bagged lunch for our field trip adventures.

Just this past week, we went on a field trip and JBird’s lunch consisted of a sleeve of graham crackers, a piece of buttered bread, and one of those applesauce pouches; and that was a home run compared to other lunches I’ve thrown together. Despite being a great cook, and being Mary Poppins on the daily, I cannot pack a lunch to save my life.

halftime2

When I first saw a Half Time box on the shelf of my local Target about a month ago (before being asked to do this review), I nearly flipped my lid! Applegate, Annie’s, and Stonyfield, the trifecta of kid-friendly healthy eats,  have teamed up to deliver a healthy alternative to convenient lunches. Organic cheese, uncured meats (not nitrites!), organic crackers, and organic yogurt all in a handy little lunch box. Now, I can run to Target, grab a couple of Half Times (Turkey is our favorite), and be set for our weekly adventures with our regular field trip crew!

Plus, everything inside is something that JBird will eat! That means I don’t have to worry about wasting any food! Double love!

Now that I have kids of my own, I am beyond grateful for companies like Stonyfield, Applegate, and Annie’s. Their products not only provide us busy parents with convenient lunch choices, but also honest to goodness healthy and safe food for our kids. I buy these brands. I trust these brands.

AND

::drumroll please::

I get to give away a Half Time kit to one lucky fan!

Kit includes:

-3 Half Time lunches (ham, turkey, and bologna)

-Insulated lunch bag (with markers to decorate!)

– Activity Book from Applegate

-Coupons

 

To enter, use the handy prompts below:

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
  *Stonyfield and Applegate provided me with the Half Time kits for review and giveaway. However, all words and opinions are my own. Just sayin’

This Giveaway is not closed. Thank you for participating! 

Book Lists, Homeschooling, StudioLab

Reading List: October

October 7, 2014

october reading list

October is my favorite month of the year.

JBird AND Moon Baby both have birthdays, fall is in full swing, and there seems to be a whole world of picture books dedicated to (nearly) everyone’s favorite season.

Here is a list of what we currently have on our home library shelf:

Just For Fun:

Extra Yarn: Mac Barnett

Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist: Stan and Jan Berenstain

Friends: Eric Carle

If You Give A Dog A Donut: Laura Numeroff

Jelly Beans and the Big Book Bonanza: Laura Numeroff

Ponyella: Laura Numeroff

The Jelly Beans and the Big Camp Kickoff: Laura Numeroff

Curious George Saves His Pennies: Monica Perez

 

Seasonal:

Every Autumn Comes the Bear: Jim Arnosky

The Apple Pie Tree: Zoe Hall

Countdown to Fall: Frank Hawk

The Apple Cake: Nienke van Hichtum

The Biggest Pumpkin Ever: Steven Kroll

Fall Ball: Peter McCarty

Fall Mixed Up: Bob Raczka

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves: Julia Rawlinson

Patty’s Pumpkin Patch: Teri Sloat

Leaves: David Ezra Stein

Mouse’s First Fall: Lauren Thompson

Pumpkin Moonshine: Tasha Tudor

Owl Babies: Martin Waddell

Leaves! Leaves! Leaves!: Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

Science:

Sid the Science Kid: Why Can’t I have Cake for Dinner?: Jodi Huelin

Nature:

About Mammals: Cathryn Sill

Rabbits and Raindrops: Jim Arnosky

About Birds: Cathryn Sill

Book Lists, Homeschooling, StudioLab

Reading List: September

September 15, 2014

Booklist (1 of 1)

At the beginning of every month, I check out upwards to 50 picture books from the library. I start with seasonal books, and then add books on topics that JBird is interested in at the moment. They’re usually all science or math related but sometimes we need books about emotions and experiences to help work through “stuff” that may be going on in her little head.

Then, when we go to pick up our huge haul from the library we pick out about 10 “just for fun” books.

We try to read about 10 books every day, but sometimes if we get a chance to read 1 book a day I call that a win.

Here’s What Is On Our September Reading List:

Seasonal:

The Berenstain Bears’ Four Seasons: Stan & Jan Berenstain

Christopher’s Harvest: Elsa Beskow

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf: Lois Ehlert

Nuts to You!: Lois Ehlert

Leaf Trouble: Jonathan Emmett

Awesome Autumn: Bruce Goldstone

Possum’s Harvest Moon: Anne Hunter

The Apple Doll: Elisa Klevin

Apple Pie ABC: Alison Murphy

The Princess in the Forest: Sibylle von Olfers

Apple Cider Making Days: Ann Purmell

 

Science: (Let’s Read and Find Out series)

The Skeleton Inside you: Philip Balestrino

Air is All Around You: Franklyn M. Branley

What Makes a Shadow: Clyde Robert Bulla

Feel the Wind: Arthur Dorros

Let’s Go Rock Collecting: Roma Gans

From Caterpillar to Butterfly: Deborah Heiligman

From Seed to Pumpkin: Wendy Pfeffer

Clouds: Anne Rockwell

The Listening Walk: Paul Showers

 

Counting/Math:

Hetty’s Hundred Hats: Emma Dodd

Sorting Through Spring: Lizann Flatt

Counting on Fall: Lizann Flatt

Shaping Up Summer: Lizzann Flatt

Sizing Up Winter: Lizann Flatt

 

Just For Fun:

The Mixed Up Chameleon: Eric Carle

Chrysanthemum: Kevin Henkes

A Good Day: Kevin Henkes

Angelina’s Birthday: Katharine Holabird

Angelina and the Rag Doll: Katharine Holabird

Angelina and the Butterfly: Katharine Holabird

Angelina On Stage: Katharine Holabird

If You Give A Pig A Pancake: Laura Numeroff

If You Give A Moose A Muffin: Laura Numeroff

If You Give A Cat a Cupcake: Laura Numeroff

If You Give A Pig A Party: Laura Numeroff

The Jellybeans and the Big Dance: Laura Numeroff and Nate Evans

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? : Bill Martin