Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Golden Delicious Hour

Friday afternoon, in a fit of spontaneity after a long work week, I felt the tug to pack up the kids and hit the road.  The forecast was promising another gorgeous September night and I wanted to explore.  I packed pajamas and blankets, snacks for Cruz and veggies for Mila, filled the tank up with gas, and hit the road while the Avett Brothers sang us right up to apple country.

I had no idea that my unrestful spirit would lead me to one of the most simple, beautiful nights of my recent life.  For just a couple hours, we had driven right into a storybook.  We looked out over one of the most peaceful landscapes I had yet to see in our state, rolling green hills lined with hundreds and hundreds of apple trees.  There was a steel guitar playing in the background, the smell of grilled burgers and freshly baked apple turnovers in the air, young couples walking hand in hand carrying wooden baskets full of plump Jonagolds, and little families plopped in the middle of a pumpkin patch, sharing picnic food and taking pictures.  I felt the fresh fall air fill my lungs and thanked God for giving me a night to dance in a slice of this earthly heaven.


We wasted no time making our way up the scenic hill, walking by pumpkin patches dotted with hundreds of orange treasures, and along a bridge over a little brook lined with wildflowers and weeping willows.  Baskets in hand and a baby smiling and bouncing from her daddy's shoulders, we arrived at the top just in time for the golden hour.  Cruz immediately turned into our little Johnny Appleseed, plucking an apple off the baby trees filled to the brim with perfect apples.  He dove right in, casually walking through the trees, crunching his apple and eating it right down to the seeds.  Mila sat on a quilt and watched him from afar, her white blond wisps of hair glowing in the sunshine.  She reached for an apple herself and after concentrating on her brother awhile, decided to test the strength of her baby teeth.  With both of her pudgy hands clasped around that apple, she gnawed and gnawed until finally she felt her teeth sink in to its juicy flesh. 

We weren't the only ones soaking up the light and soon we all formed a little tribe of sun worshipers up there.  A group of college girls fawned over our kids, making them smile for pictures and posing for pictures with them.  We all just sort of hung out, watched the sunset and soaked up the perfect September night.  After the sun decided to sink beneath the orange sky, we made our way down the hill, apples and babies in hand, and ended the night with apple cider slushies, cheese curds and hot dogs, and the best apple turnover I've ever tasted.  We retreated to our car, strapped tired kids in car seats, and my heart danced the whole way home.  


Monday, September 29, 2014


"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2014"

Cruz: Prefers the skins cut off unless he can eat it whole.  Then, he plucks it off the tree himself and casually eats it to the core, like Johnny Appleseed himself. 
Mila: Soaking up God's golden hour on one of the my favorite nights ever. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

lessons from a little yellow leaf

I am determined to start this blog post with a metaphor, but bear with me as I've just finished three hours of night class and my mind is still swimming somewhere between John Dewey and David Hawkins.  You see, this summer, I was standing in the sunshine, staring at this wonderful, powerful, all consuming river before me.  And though I was comfortable, content, and happy with my feet on the safe, solid ground where I was, I knew that all too soon, it was time to jump in.  I could it see it right in front of me, and could feel the rush of diving in and letting it engulf me.  It was inevitable, and I knew it would take all my strength and determination to keep afloat and not let it completely swallow me up.  I was hesitant to jump in, content where I was and leery of my ability to make it to the other side, but at the same time, I was ready to dive in because I knew what awaited me on the other side.  It was new ground, new territory, and the satisfaction I would feel climbing out of that water, dripping wet and exhausted, would be completely worth every kick and every breath it would take to cross.  I knew I would climb out a better version of myself, tired, refreshed, and full of perspective. 

Well, I'm in that river, folks, and I'm treading water like it's nobody's business.  The other side, aka, December, is there, I can see it, but the distance seems vast.  I'm afraid I bit off a little more than I can chew this semester and every day seems like a marathon in itself.  But you know, every now and then, I'm astounded by these little gifts of perspective, these little reminders that seasons change and people grow.  Like those first yellow leaves you spot on the sidewalk in the middle of all the green ones.  

The other day, I had a bad parenting moment.  Beau laughs that I made a big deal of it at all, but to me it was a big deal.  Cruz's preschool class is studying colors and his teacher had written a reminder note by the door requesting we help our child find something yellow to bring and show their friends.  Doing color weeks myself at home, I loved this idea and looked forward to going on a color scavenger hunt with Cruz, encouraging him to bring something that not only represented the color yellow, but expressed his interests and personality here at home.  I couldn't wait to see what he chose. 

Unfortunately, life got in the way the next morning and I completely forgot about Cruz's very first homework assignment.  And the only reason I remembered was because Cruz himself remembered on the way to school and started sobbing when he realized he had nothing to show his teacher.  I was devastated for him, disappointed in myself for forgetting something important to him, and started wracking my brain with ways to fix my mistake.  I made plans in my head to explain to his teacher that we would bring his yellow things the following day and attempted to think of ways to make it up to him.  

I unbuckled Cruz from his car seat, wiped his tears, and began to make our way to his classroom, feeling defeated before even starting the day.  That is, until my little boy swooped in and saved it right from under me.
"Mommy!  I found something yellow!  My teacher is going to love this!"

Cruz squealed as he unlocked his hand from mine and bent down to pick up the perfectly yellow leaf that lay on the sidewalk by the entrance to school.  A little gift, perfectly placed there just for us, yet my three year old was the only one who noticed it.  Here I was, wallowing away in my own self-pity and mistakes, too busy to notice the perspective that lay there right in front of me.  Cruz practically skipped to his classroom, walking in with his head held higher than I've seen all year, so very excited to present Ms. Dana with his little yellow leaf.  She told him this was exactly her intention for the assignment, that students would begin to see the color that exists in the world around them.  

It was the best homework assignment I've had all semester.  

I smiled all day, completely astounded by the wisdom and beautiful perspective of these little people in our lives.  That afternoon when I picked up Cruz, his teacher told me that Cruz's leaf sparked quite the learning experience for his peers, as they were all noticing and all picking up the little yellow leaves around them.   

So, I swim, I tread, I breathe.  And I'm stretching and growing and feeling challenged, in my doc classes, through this buying and selling and building process, and most of all, through the perspective of my best little teacher.  And, of course, that little yellow leaf.           

Monday, September 22, 2014


"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2014"

Cruz: We went on a nature treasure hunt at Hartman last week.  Just me and my boy snuck away for a bit to trudge through the trails and find some hidden treasures.  We found sticks for swords, red berries for pearls, and acorns for gold doubloons.  Afterwards, we went to Old McDonalds for a Happy Meal and a midday talk about superheros.  I love these little dates with my favorite little boy.

Mila: My favorite time with her is bedtime.  I love the ritual of it all - soaking her in a lavender-scented tub, wrapping her up in a towel, stopping by the bathroom mirror on the way to her room, covering her in lotion head to toe, and snapping the buttons on a fresh sleeper.  I love how her eyes drift shut the moment her bedtime bottle hits her lips, and the way she snuggles in close after she's done.  And most of all, I love watching her sleep afterwards and the quiet reassurance that there is nothing more important than feeling close to her in that moment.  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Weekend in Photos

It was a weekend that included wings and hurricanes, books at Barnes and Noble, and a cotton candy sky on a Friday night as we drove around waiting for realtors to finish showing our house.  Afterwards, we made mugs of Cruz's latest bedtime must, warm hot cocoa, lit a few candles, munched on toasted coconut cookies, and played Sneaky Snacky Squirrel before bed.  Saturday, we watched cartoons, threw rocks in our new basement, and bought Mila her first pair of knitted mittens at the Pear Fair on College Hill.  I restocked the freezer with lots of yummy fall purees for Mila - butternut squash and root veggie stew, homemade applesauce with a pinch of cinnamon, and sweet potato casserole with a dash of nutmeg.  Beau and I attended a wedding on Saturday night and snuck out a little early to sip martinis on the parkade.  And Sunday included a sleeping baby in church, a hike through Hartman Reserve, ice cream cones in the car, and warm baths before bed.

We enjoyed our first weekend of house showings and had fun sharing our cozy home with lots of house hunters.  Turns out fall is a beautiful time of year to show a house and I'm having lots of fun staging each room just so.  Friday afternoon, I made a big batch of pumpkin cookies, had Beau pick up some Oktoberfest from the grocery store, and turned on some Mumford and Sons on the iPad.  I vacuumed the floor, lit all the cute little lamps in the kids' rooms, and set out a little station of iced cold drinks and warm, freshly baked cookies with a note that read, "Happy House Hunting" for our guests.  We've actually enjoyed the extra motivation to keep our house nice and tidy and have loved finding fun outside the house while others have spent time in ours.  I told Beau that we should always pretend as if our house is on the market even after it sells!

Life looks pretty amazing from Daddy's shoulders.  I think I've taken a picture like that last one every year since we became parents.  Four years of exploring this pretty time of year with these little babies we adore so much.


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