Thoughts on a Wednesday

Oh Fall, you have finally made your debut. And here we are, burrowing indoors, concocting and doctoring soups and stews, gobbling apples from the backyard (as long as we beat the birds to them!), making every sunset an event, snapping pumpkin portraits with only the most impeccable lighting, chattering incessantly about the weather changing (somebody stop me!) and writing too, everything and anything.

I always find myself inspired to expel all of my thoughts in Fall. Like, I may sit down and discover a novel waiting in the far reaches of my mind—endless ideas at the tip of my pen just because. You know, because there are leaves carefully stashed in different crevices of our van, swishing back and forth between the blades of my windshield wiper. Because the darkness creeps and hangs earlier by the minute, and thus creeps and hangs my brooding, contemplative side. Not so in the hot stretches of summer or through the singing inspiration of springtime. Give me a brisk, eerie Fall, breathing in the far off scent of a few wood burning stoves, and I’ll be ever so inspired.

We spent a day with our church at a retreat spot in the woods nearby a few weeks back. I am the type of person who is constantly surveying how terribly I’d get on in nature without roads and heat sources and general modernity. But mainly roads.. On the way up, I stared at the quiet surrounding forest, towering outside my window. Such a small speck next to so many redwood giants, that would all get on quite nicely with or without this highway, these log cabins and their visitors. Quite nicely! Later, I had a few moments alone in the woods, trying to catch up with Luke who was exploring with another family on the hill a couple minutes ahead of me. There on the hillside, sliding awkwardly in my Vans, trying to catch up with my shockingly quick child, a momentary darkness swept over the woods and the speckled sun’s warm safety net disappeared; it all unassumingly struck me. I found myself extremely aware of my littleness in the face of this grand cathedral of Redwood giants, the unseen creatures and creeping critters, the sliding dirt beneath my shoes. The eerie, beautiful, falling canopy of Mother Nature, and me, a perfectly out of practice explorer, soaking in every autumnal drop of it.

And so it’s been a good Fall so far! We’ve also been glued to our seats watching October baseball, whisking the kiddos away to swim lessons and days at preschool, helping Emma teeter and totter as she works on standing more often (and she is crawling now!). I also spent thirty minutes of one afternoon doing intense research in pursuit of figuring out the baker of a muffin I used to enjoy. Yes this is not normal, I agree. Mission accomplished, a few phone calls and yelp reviews later–of course it’s Kelly’s French bakery! And for some reason I can’t bring myself to sign back on to social media right now, and that’s been REALLY fantastic.

Hope this post finds you well, happy Fall to you!

Emma at 9 months

My little babe is nine months! This is a really sweet phase.. Emma has an absolute sunshine personality, she is a joy for all of us. The kids are figuring out more and more how to make her belly laugh. She is feeling bigger every day, especially in her speech and she is LOUD. I don’t know what she is going to do with these pipes but let’s all hope something! Continue reading “Emma at 9 months”

Bits and pieces

This week we’ve been gearing up for Luke’s fourth birthday. He chose funfetti cupcakes to bring to preschool so I had a late night moment alone with a funfetti mix and frosting. I am NOT an experienced cupcake baker, though I bake plenty. It’s something I’d love to learn! Meanwhile though, I am quite an experienced cupcake eater Continue reading “Bits and pieces”

The end of something sweet

This last week, we had our last meeting with the youth group we’ve been leading for eight years, and helping with for almost ten. Those numbers feel a bit unreal! .. There is so much in my heart when I consider all that occurred over the years.. in us, in our family, in time with the youth. Bible studies, Pizza parties, camps, movie nights, beach days and many many more. Continue reading “The end of something sweet”

Christmas has graced us!

nope! not too early 🙂

one of my favorite traditions is spending our friday after thanksgiving putting up the christmas decorations (you too?)! that’s one way we like to try and work off all the pumpkin pie calories from the day before (and by ‘try’ i mean that in between the decorating, we eat pumpkin pie for breakfast/lunch and mashed potatoes for dinner, mmm). 
it’s fun to see all the things we stored away throughout the year and remember the funny stories, memories, etc! every year, i forget that james has all sorts of little christmas stockings, two little ones with puffed paint ‘jimmy’ on them, a couple ornament stockings and his main one—a larger ninja turtle stocking (which i lovingly placed a ‘jesus is the reason for the season’ on).me on the other hand, in addition to my gorgeous (gorgeous!) eighteen crystal orefors ornaments (one every year til i was eighteen..), i have loads of ornaments with my name from almost every year of life. clearly our families focused on different keepsakes, but it makes me smile every year! it also helps us think about what we’ll collect for our little ones… do you have any fun things you’ve collected over the years?
and i do declare that the most wonderful feeling is after all the lights are lit and garland is swagged, settling in with the latest martha stewart and real simple christmas issues, a nice cup of tea and bing in the background. merry christmas my friends! we can finally say that! ..okay we could have said it before but you know what i mean, no judgement now! woot!

merry christmas!

Happy Thanksgiving!

the best family photo we can manage thus far.
you’re welcome son 🙂
around these parts, we have two thanksgiving dinners. one yesterday and one tomorrow and we started the shopping on sunday to boot, so really it’s like a full week of thanksgiving mindset, which consists of family/friends, laughter and stuffing our faces.. err, our turkeys. thus, my introspection on thanksgiving always comes a little early.

so happy early thanksgiving my friends!

i am thankful for so many things. this year more than ever, i’ve realized the true gift of the things i always take for granted. the clothes on my back, the food on my plate, a job to work at, heat in my home and laundry machines in our bathroom (ok, that one i don’t take for granted too too much..cue to me hugging my washer last week).

in past years, i’ve conceptually thought, sure.. i’m thankful for these everyday things. but this year i feel that so much more than ever. i feel like this year has taught me so far that life is truly a miracle. every single step of it. and things that have seemed to always be there, i treasure more than ever.

i’m grateful for the family we have, both near and far, with all our (and their) misgivings, we are blessed to know them, to be connected with them, to have them to send cards and gifts to, to have family who sends pictures and prayer requests and recipes and terrible chain mail. yes even for that (you know who you are! for a church family so dear, who help us grow and aren’t intimidated by our junk. for a mom who continues to be my advocate, even as i become a mother and carry my own little baby. i guess i always thought that i’d have it together by this point so my mom calls for help would lessen (ha! can i get an amen people.).. so i’m thankful that my mom also that knows it never will.
for a partner and best friend and husband, who makes me laugh more than anyone, who makes me more upset than any other person other will, yet pushes me to the edge of my comfort zone and gives me the opportunity to be a better me, all while in the wonderful grace of his leading and friendship. i love you james. and for you, little baby boy. you are already our treasure.
above all i’m thankful for jesus, who i’m convinced all these things come from. the one who saves me day by day and who gives me grace to live, learn and be more like him. he is truly great.
happy thanksgiving to you my friends!! you sure are wonderful.
and don’t forget to wear your stretchy pants.
ps i’m making these pumpkin pies this week**
pps **pray i’m not shunned from pumpkin pie duty for years to come. seriously though.

Notes on Autumn

a few of my favorite things about autumn.. 
because we all know that “I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.” well, at least Henry David Thoreau knew it 🙂

+gourds in big baskets, cause they’re gourds. in big baskets.

+feeling that crisp breath of air enter my lungs on an evening walk.

+crock pots full of brewing hot cider at work, smelling up the whole office.

+trips to the punkin’ farms with friends. we know allll the ones that negotiate prices if you’re looking 🙂 we’ve purchased up to 35 pumpkins at once.. so yeah.

+having to wear long socks when i’m lounging around the house again. risky business anybody?

+the pop of a baseball bat because it’s playoff time & i’ve been down-right brainwashed by my husband.

+it will [now] always be the season that i felt my first baby kick in my tummy.

every day in may (a vivid memory of a summer with my family)

okay guys, last day of the blog every day in may series!! i missed it by five days now after making it for the other thirty, h-a (cone of shame!). with good reason maybe as we’ve been uber sick and a computer screen is the last place that sounded fun, but i’m here and ready to seal the deal, tissues and a mug full of throat coat tea in hand 🙂 if you also participated, i salute you. it was an absolutely surprisingly fun exercise, and gave me opportunity to think outside the box. i loved it.
so onto the last day’s prompt (last friday) day 31: A vivid memory

my memory can be both impeccable and completely fallible in the same breath. but the things i remember vividly, i usually never forget. since i’ve officially hit the ‘longing for vacation’ mode that always occurs around late may, early june, i thought i’d go with a memory that’s travel oriented. i think it’s just my habit but after the school season begins gets out, i get achey breaky for a trip. one specifically wonderful memory are the summers we spent in lake tahoe with the entire family.

the night before leaving on a trip was always the most excruciating and exciting for me. we’d fill our bags with all the necessities which, if you ask my mom that meant ‘bathing suit and toothbrush’ or something to that effect. i’d bring all my odds and ends down to her bedroom and ask her to help me roll them all up and after we’d place our bags near the front door, with our pillows balanced carefully on top and the only thing postponing summer vacation was a usually restless night’s sleep!
the next morning we set out on our journey and met rest of the family at a rendezvous point to begin our caravan. and because walkie talkie names were a must, we were golden goose, silver bullet and the green mallard. the drive from the bay area to tahoe is a myriad of panoramas: wide open agricultural fields, sprawled out desert-like dryland and eventually, the crawl up the mountain—where staggering mountain highways where towering pines, mighty oaks and maple trees hover over and crowd the roads, with streams of sunshine peeking through. and finally, after hours of patient curves and twists, nearly six hours of land, an opening seemed to suddenly appear and there, stretching across our windshield, was twelve miles of crystal blue. lake tahoe.
as we rounded highway 89, the main road around the lake, we experienced a pristine view of our water wonderland. boats circling the edges trailing skiiers and wakeboarders alike, far off views of gorgeous emerald bay, lakeside mansions that you’d pay to be a fly on the wall (‘much less a cat!’ says my aunt mary). the walkies start to buzz, cousins giving the ‘roger this’ and ‘roger that’ to one another, sarcastic jokes between siblings and parents, people urgently needing to use the bathroom or another alerting someone to catch a glimpse of the stunning views.
at last, we pull up, we are here. beautiful lake tahoe, tahoe pines to be exact. in a big house for the lot of us. bunk beds, shag carpet, an open sunny deck with a birds eye view of big blue, a lakeside rec center, tennis courts and boat docks just waiting to be explored. a summer vacation playground for any age. playing in the pool doing handstands til our ears ached as mom and her sisters looked on. eating too many ears of hot buttered corn. staying up much too late watching movies giggling with uncle bill and cousin matt. wandering the grounds with mom to people watch. going bowling and getting beat by the boys, except cousin penny who’s in a league.
age barriers faded away and each one of us laughed so hard together. that year was the first time i’d ever felt so connected with my entire family. it was also the first trip we’d taken together since grandma had passed. i didn’t realize it til later, but we all needed a reason to laugh that year, and frankly, we didn’t even need it to be a very good reason.
sharing stories as we each ventured about the lake, marveling together at what a very big lake it was—deep, wide, mysterious, with some places cold as ice, uninhabited with rocky shores, other places were full of life with bright warm sunshine with soft rocky sand beneath your feet. in whatever we did, whether eat or rest or read or watch or hike or play, it was much more than a getaway, it was a catching of our breaths, an overflowing, rumbling, belly-aching laugh and an overflowing joy that settled itself nicely some place deep down in my heart.

image source