Don’t Forget Thanksgiving!

It’s still fall, y’all.

Doesn’t look much like it outside, what with the white stuff covering the ground (already.  Again.  So soon after it went away.  Sniffle).  But seriously, it’s still fall.  That’s what the calendar says, anyway.

You can’t really tell from the store displays, either, or from the TV commercials and Hallmark movies and the Hallmark Christmas station on my XM radio.  But seriously, we still have four days till Thanksgiving.   Seriously.  Still fall.

Are you ready for Thanksgiving?  I love it.  It’s like a Farewell to Fall event- the opportunity to get together with family and sit around the table and just be thankful, before the full-blown chaos of the Christmas season sets in.

Fall decorations are my favorite.  The colors, the natural elements; you can decorate your home for fall almost exclusively from nature.  The changing leaves, the bare twigs, the pinecones, the assortment of squashes: pumpkins, acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash.. you can make a centerpiece from all of these things for super cheap!

My grandmother had the prettiest Thanksgiving dishes.  We used them every year, and seeing them even today makes me think of our family gatherings when she and my grandfather were still alive:

Blog- friendly villiage dishes

Friendly Village Dishes by Johnson Brothers.  Image via Google Images

 

Since we don’t typically host Thanksgiving, I don’t have holiday-specific dishes.  However, I do have enough versatility in my collection that I was able to round up a few ideas for you, in case you’re looking for simple ideas to set your table beautifully enough to keep your kinfolk gathered round (while the men do the dishes, amiright?)

Disclaimer: my decorating style is a little quirky.  I love mixing up different styles to add elegance to simplicity, a dash of modern to the traditional, or some country to the urban.   I guess that’s just me- a juxtaposition of contradicting ideas and styles.  Obviously, any of the ideas here could be changed around to include what you already have and to suit your own style and the mood of your gathering.  Play with it.  Have fun.  SHOP YOUR HOME! (or, as previously mentioned, your backyard.  Or your pantry.  Or your neighbor’s…with permission, of course).

 

 

I guess I should also add that in our home, almost everything has a story.  The plates in this setting, for example, are locally crafted near our town.  The candle holders are place card holders- leftover favors from our wedding.  And the turkey centerpieces and pumpkin napkin rings are ceramics my mom painted for us.  The glasses with the spiral design are vintage Libby glassware, inherited from the attic of a family friend.

 

This setting makes me think, “urban rustic,” with a more formal place setting (a discontinued pattern from Pier One, my favorite dishes), made modern with my favorite wine glasses- a prekids purchase from Crate & Barrel.   The absence of a tablecloth softens the formality of the dishes and brings a bit more rustic to the table. The tall candlesticks are also from Pier One, and those leaf candles were from the head table at our wedding.  The centerpiece is a collection of random items I collected from around our house- the candles, again, are from our wedding (a decade ago), and the plate was a gift that I’m too afraid to serve food from in a houseful of boys.  Under the candles and ribbon I’ve buried potpourri; this centerpiece is often on my dining room buffet.

 

 

I tend to think of this last setting as being more “traditional,” with the plain, solid color dishes and traditional stemware.  Mixing the styles of the plates- the round with the square- adds just a subtle enough twist to make it fun.  The pumpkin and napkin rings, again, are ones my mom painted for me.

 

There are so many ways to make your table inviting and pretty without purchasing special…everything.  Do any of these speak to you?

 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  May your holiday be full of food and love.

 

xoxo,

~d

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Reason #408 why motherhood just may kill me

Wanna know how I spent the twins’ naptime today?

Putting clean sheets on the boys’ beds.

Seriously, the whole hour was consumed by putting sheets on three beds: twin bunks and a full size bed.  AN HOUR, friends.  Well, 50 minutes.  To put sheets on three beds.  The actual breakdown is probably closer to 45 minutes for the bunk beds, 5 minutes for the other one.  Still, there were a lot of other things I could’ve accomplished in that time.

Ever consider where bunk beds came from?  I have.  I’ve also pondered his painful demise.  Yes.  His.  Because it was certainly a man who invented those blasted things, knowing full well it’d be woman who would be changing the sheets the majority of the time.

We’ve had bunk beds in our house for almost a year, but we just stacked them two weeks ago.  I’ve changed the sheets three times now.  Every time I’ve damn near died.  The first time was a near concussion, lifting my head too fast while trying to raise the mattress to tuck the sheets.  The second time was the same day, when I came one step closer to a concussion by bashing my head off the ceiling while repeating the same process on the top bunk.  (Yes, I’m aware of the definition of insanity.)  The third time my socked foot slipped on the ladder while I was trying to smooth the wrinkles from the sheets and blankets and return all of the fuzzy friends to their happy home in the bed.

Repeat every week until the end of time.

To be fair, I totally get the functionality of bunk beds.  I’ve toured a few war ships in my day; I get that sometimes function and practicality has to be a priority.  We have three boys; space in our home needs to be used wisely as well.  Aesthetic be damned, I guess.  And, it’s a fun hideaway for all three; they’ll be entertained for hours, climbing up the ladder and hiding in the top bunk.  So, it’s kind of a no-brainer and a necessary evil.

We kept their beds separate and both close to the floor for as long as we could, until they started asking us weekly how long until we could bunk them.  It made sense to stack their beds; they’re getting bigger and they’re playing in their room more and more, and they need the floor space.  And they’re doing really well with the change.  Clearly, changing sheets has no effect on their perception of the intricacies of making a bed without headroom.  What do they know?  They’re three feet tall.

Just make sure my tombstone reads, “it was those damned bunk beds.”

 

xoxo,

~d

Que Sera, Sera

I love the saying, “Que sera, sera.”

While I’m a very firm believer that we’re all responsible for our own destiny, I believe even more firmly in divine intervention and a higher plan, a deeper meaning, and a purpose beyond the greatest limits of our imagination.  I think we should work hard toward our goals to make our own dreams come true.  I also believe that some circumstances are beyond our control and we have to know when to take a step back to see the bigger picture.

I went to college to learn to be an interior designer.  My family thought I should be a teacher, or possibly a writer, but my heart was set on design.  I finished college right before the recession of 2008 and jobs became hard to find- particularly jobs in a luxury service industry like interior design.  I had put all of my “eggs” in the basket of my internship with the VA hospital, an organization whose mission had solidified my belief that I’d found my highest purpose: using my passion to positively impact the healthcare experience of our nation’s heroes.  It was my dream job; I found my home with my mentors and coworkers within the hospital.  The additional perks were that it was a government position, with decent pay, lots of paid holidays, and a very decent retirement plan.

Alas, it was not meant to be, as a permanent position was not approved for me before the end of my internship, and the intern who came after me took the position.  By that time, I’d moved on to searching for my “place” elsewhere, in the midst of an economic downturn, and ended up leaving my dream behind in favor of any position that offered a paycheck.  I tried my hand in sales, knowing that my confidence needed the bolstering of clients’ rejection in addition to the extra practice of selling my own ideas.  The experience, while not one of my most pleasant, served the purpose I had intended, and one of my sales jobs actually led- completely unexpectedly-  to a management position, which helped my confidence issues even more.  I didn’t stay there long, though, as that job was only part-time.  My next venture was as an administrative assistant for an insurance company, where I sharpened my organizational skills and learned that I’m actually pretty good at keeping other people organized as well.  I learned a lot from this position, and was there until our field office was closed as a result of new corporate leadership.

At that time, a friend of ours recommended me for another- temporary- sales position with our local newspaper, introducing a trial program.  Knowing me outside of work, she knew my passion for writing, and she recommended me for an intense writing assignment as well.  The sales project failed to take off, however, and after a few months, that position was eliminated.

There is, believe it or not, a point to all of this rambling, and it does relate to the belief that sometimes, “whatever will be, will be.”  My point is, I started college with the goal of becoming an interior designer, then spent ten years after struggling to figure out how I’d make it happen.  After all these years and all the life experiences I’ve tucked into my (expanding) belt, I’ve made it to my 30’s, and just like every other 30-something who’s come before me has promised, I’ve found a confidence in myself to pursue my passion in a way that still allows me to be constantly present for my HIGHEST purpose.  I’m a wife and a mom first, above everything else.  My family depends on my experience in planning  and organization and leading operations to keep track of all of the things that need to be kept track of in a houseful of boys.  That’s my purpose.  And it’s pointed my ambition to create beautiful and functional spaces and to help others like me to do the same.

I’m pursuing interior design again, in a professional capacity.  I’ve been spending the last few weeks and months sharpening my skills in an electronic format.  I’ve learned that there’s a whole new approach to interior design that allows the client to submit their goals and visions for their space to a designer who can envision the space without being face-to-face.  AND, working this way allows me the flexibility to work from my house, while my boys play next to me, with all of us in our PJ’s.  OR, I can work at night when the house is quiet and I’ve fulfilled all of my domestic duties for the day.

One of my first practice projects is my vision for the office where I plan to set up shop, in my home:

My office_Office (1)My office_Office 1

2018-10-04 (2)2018-10-04

 

This “office” is actually a 25 square foot walk-in closet in the room we use as a guest bedroom.  The limited space and the lack of windows for natural light forced colors and shapes that will, I hope, inspire my creativity and help me to be at my greatest problem-solving capacity.

 

I’d love to hear your feedback!  Love it or hate it, tell me!  I’m a seasoned professional at accepting constructive criticism.

 

xoxo,

~d

This Never-Ending Winter and my need for a change of scenery

We here in the northeast are experiencing the winter that won’t end.

It feels like it hasn’t stopped snowing since Halloween.  It feels like we’ve been trapped inside, staring at the same walls day after day, week after week, for half a year.  In a Facebook group I’m a member in, someone from Alaska commented last week that winter here has lasts for too long.  Alaska, people.  Let that sink in for a minute.

We’re trying to stay busy.  We’ve walked and been outside as often as we can, but sick kids and exposure to freezing temps aren’t always the best combo.  We planted seeds for veggie plants a few weeks ago.  The boys have a hockey net in the basement and can use that space to run off some extra energy.  T-ball season has started and we’re beginning to see a day or so a week that is suitable to be outside.  Regardless, we’re all tired of being inside. One day last week, upon returning from our errands, the boys filed out of my car and made a beeline for the driveway where big, fat snowflakes were beautifully, gracefully, tauntingly falling from the sky.  The three of them ran around in circles, arms spread wide, catching the flakes on their tongues.  It was heartwarming and beautiful, and I was so fulfilled to watch them, and yet…I’ll be just as fulfilled when I can sit in the grass and watch them roll up and down the driveway on their bikes, draw pictures on the concrete with sidewalk chalk, build castles and mountains in the sand, and push weeds from my flower beds in their big trucks while I soak up sun and heat.

But that’s just me.

In the meantime, I’ve stayed motivated by changing and reorganizing basically every room in our house in the last month.  I sometimes feel more energized when I rearrange things to change the flow and the way the light hits different aspects of a space.  That, in turn, gives me an idea of what accessory items are working for us and what we could maybe replace.

In our living room, for instance, I  played around with a completely different layout that seems to work really well for us.  What I noticed, though, is that we needed a new, larger area rug to tie the space together.  The rule of thumb for a rug is that it should touch all the pieces of furniture in the space to make it feel cohesive .  The rug we had isn’t big enough to do that; far too much of the floor was bare, which is not only an aesthetic problem, but a traction problem for our 12-year-old golden retriever.  She’s having a hard time getting up from the slippery floors after she’s been lying down.  So last weekend, we trooped into town, the five of us, for a family trip to Dick’s.  And I played the “Oh, but I’m the only girl, and can’t we please, please, PLEASE go to a fun store for me to look for house stuff?” card.  And we left with a rug.

I travel with the paint swatches we used on every wall in our house.  This way,  when I’m out and about, I always have the colors on hand to compare.  So, I pulled the swatches out of my purse in the middle of the store to check, and my three super manly boys and my one super manly man each grabbed a spot of the rug and trooped it to the checkout for me.

Another thing that I’ll be addressing in the living room is the blank wall above the sofa.  I’m currently searching for some artwork to frame and hang to make that more of a focal point.  My problem is deciding on what I want.  Because your space should tell your story, I don’t want something to just “put” there; I want it to be personal, have significance, and to tell a story about our family.  I have family portraits on the wall going up the stairs, so I’d like to do something artistic or inspiring in the living room.  My top ideas right now are to frame some photos of our town or from our travels and have them made into canvases, or blown up for large matted frames.  Because the sofa and curtains are neutral colors, I’d like to bring out the colors of the rug with the art…and then possibly repeat those same colors with some new throw pillows on the sofa and love seat.

I’d love to hear from you; does anyone else get suffocated by their surroundings when the weather keeps you confined in the same spaces?  How do you deal with it?  Are you painting?  Tackling a renovation project?  Replacing furniture or accessories?  Leave me a comment!

 

xoxo,

~d

 

 

You Are you being creative?

Once upon a time (a little over a year ago), a family friend asked me a question that repeats itself in my head every now and again:

“Are you being creative?”

This family friend is actually a friend of Ryan’s family. He’s known me for probably fourteen of the fifteen years I’ve been hanging out with Ryan’s family, and because they live a few states away, time together is pretty limited. To be honest, the question took me completely by surprise because of all those who know me well, nobody had ever asked me that before. Yet, that is undoubtedly what makes me tick: creativity. Crafting, writing, designing, cooking, and baking are my favorite outlets. And when life gets hectic, those are the things that take a backseat (well, except for cooking, obviously. I do feed my family.  But there’s a difference between creative cooking, and cooking just to put something on the table). As it turns out, in the absence of creativity, I tend to get crabby.

My husband is usually the one to catch onto the mood first, and is super amazing at offering me time, or space, or an outing, or coffee, to clear my head enough to zero in on whatever creative recess of my brain is itching.  He offers, very frequently, to take charge of our boys on the weekends to offer me the chance to get away and focus on my ideas.  Somehow, however, I haven’t yet figured out how to accept his offers and relinquish control to do it.  I’m pretty sure it’s not an uncommon thing for moms, but I feel guilty if I’m not doing it all: working, being home, keeping up with the messes three boys can make, feeding said boys, being present for bathtime, storytime, bedtime, and any other time I feel like I need to be present for.  It’s unrealistic, but I’m notorious for holding my expectations high.

 

Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to take on a couple of different interior design projects.  The timing has been perfect, since the boys are getting a bit older and don’t require quite as much of my undivided time and attention these days.  They’re at an age where they will all play together, or find their own separate activities, which gives me a good chance to focus on other things.  And I’ve done it all from home, on my own time, without having to put the kids in daycare and be away from them all day (with the exception of a meeting here and there).

Guys, I feel like I’m on fire. I feel like letting out a little bit of creative energy has created brand new stores of creative energy that refuse to be kept in.  I feel like I’m reaching into the long-forgotten recesses of my brain to exercise atrophied muscles.  I’ve been calmer, yet more energized.  I’ve been patient.  I feel confident in a way I haven’t in a very long time.  My house isn’t any more of a disaster than usual.  My kids have been able to entertain themselves and one another in the room where I’m sitting to work. (OK, full disclosure: literally AS I typed that last sentence, half a pitcher of iced tea got spilled all over the refrigerator and the floor underneath.  I did not lose my cool.)

My point here, friends, is that somewhere in the midst of the creative process that’s required to complete a color scheme, floor plan, and idea board, I’ve gotten more creative.  How else do you explain starting a blog post on your phone while you’re waiting to pick your preschooler up from school?

So…

Are YOU being creative?

xoxox,

~d

An Anecdote on Strong Wills

My Aunt Sharon and Uncle Don used to take me for a week every summer. They’d plan wonderful, often also educational activities for us, like visiting Gettysburg National Park: touring Amish Country in Lancaster County, Pa; camping near Hersheypark; touring the state capital; and shopping. Always, always shopping with Aunt Sharon. I was two years old when they took me to New York City. I still remember calling the Statue of Liberty “the fake lady with the thing in her hand,” and wearing my heavy pink fur coat.

It wasn’t just for me; Aunt Sharon and Uncle always plan fun, educational experiences for anyone visiting them. One year, they planned a trip to tour a power plant for our family (there were probably 15 of us) when we stayed with them over Thanksgiving. When I brought Ryan to their house for the first time, they took us to explore the abandoned coal town of Centralia. They always know where to go and what to do that their guests will enjoy the most.

One of my first vacations with them, they took me to Lancaster, Pa, to see Amish country. I don’t remember it very clearly anymore but Aunt Sharon has told the story dozens of times so I know it well:

It was unseasonably cold that morning. I, being all of about four years old, decided I’d wear my pretty summer outfit (a shorts outfit with a sleeveless top, if memory serves). My aunt, with a few years of seasoned adulthood under her belt, advised I go for something more weather-appropriate, but I, already aware of the necessity to sacrifice comfort for beauty, had my mind made up. This led to a meltdown of sorts (ok, total meltdown), but Aunt Sharon wasn’t backing down. We argued a few rounds, and obviously I lost, and we still managed to have a fun day touring a one-room schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop, and sitting in an Amish buggy.

Last night, as I was helping the twins into their pj’s for bed, one of the boys asked for a certain pair of Lightning McQueen pajamas that he’d just worn two nights before. I already had another pair on him, and wouldn’t allow him to change. This led to a meltdown, of sorts (ok, total meltdown,) obviously, but I wasn’t backing down.

This morning I woke up to both twins in my bed. The twin who’d fought so hard over pj’s had had the presence of mind and the sheer determination of, well, his mother, to change into the aforementioned Lightning McQueen pajamas before I was alert enough to stop him.

Apples. They really don’t fall far from the tree, do they?

Busy

It’s a word that gets thrown around often.  Not just with me; we all use it.  Busy.  We’re ALL busy.  Caps, bold, italics.

“Sorry I never got back to you; I’ve been so busy!”

“How’s your summer?” “Busy!”

Me, personally?  It’s never occurred to me to keep track of how many times a day I say it, hear it, think it.

Any time I take my boys (three of them, all under age five) out in public?  At least one casual observer will offer a grin and a sympathetic “I bet you’re busy!”

When my husband reluctantly asks me to do a favor or take care of something household related because he works pretty crazy hours anymore?  “Babe, I know you’re busy enough already, but if you get a minute during naptime or whatever, could you…?”

When I look at the stack of library books on my nightstand or on the end table in the living room? “Ugh, if I wasn’t so busy, I’d be through those already!”

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A lot of my busy-ness is of my own making.  Apparently I took Aesop’s Fables a bit too literally as a child, because every time I ignore work to do something pleasurable, I’m reminded of the Grasshopper and the Ant.  Remember that story?  The ant worked and worked, never taking time off, while the grasshopper, all “Carpe Diem!” played and forgot to prepare for winter.  So when wintertime rolled around, the ant was warm and full, while the grasshopper died a cold, hungry death.

That must be it.  I hate being cold.  And hungry.

So I stay busy.  Not always particularly productive, but definitely busy.  And when I say busy, I pretty much mean in the sense that I start 349587348962 projects and approximately 2 get done.

Take, for instance, this spring.  I found an ant infestation in my spider plant (here we go with the ant theme again). So I carried the plant to our back deck, where I drowned those suckers out, then gave them a nice, healthy dose of old coffee grounds to show them I meant business.  Apparently, ants hate coffee.  So maybe I’m not as much like an ant as I thought.  Anyway… my spider plant.  I didn’t want to bring the ants back inside, so I let my plant sit on the deck for a couple of days.  It was still spring, and we weren’t finished having frost then, so a few leaves on my plant were sacrificed in the effort.  When I pulled them to make room for new growth, I put the dead leaves on top of last summer’s hanging basked from the deck, my Mother’s Day petunia from Ryan and the boys, which I never emptied last fall.

Fast forward to late July.  This past Saturday morning, Ryan took the boys with him to run an errand while I stayed home.  After they left, I wandered back to the deck to pick up yesterday’s swim suits and towels, and decided maybe it’s time to finally clean out that hanging basket.  What I found when I moved those dead spider plant leaves took me by surprise.

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My point is, yes, I’m busy.  We’re ALL busy.  Caps, bold, italics.  It’s not exclusively a parent thing, or a student thing, or a career thing or a sports thing or a…well, you get it.  Life is hectic, and messy, and crazy, and unpredictable.  And sometimes, under all that busy-ness, there are surprises budding that we aren’t expecting.

And aren’t those the best?

 

xoxox,

~d

 

Summer Reading

Summer is here, friends.

In other words, the good TV shows have all concluded their seasons (sigh.  Grey’s), or have been cancelled (yeah, I’m lookin’ at you, Mistresses), or have been bingewatched in their entirety (that would be OITNB).

It’s too hot to cook.  Or eat, for that matter.

The boys and I are spending the majority of our days outside, walking, playing in the sand, drawing on the driveway, blowing bubbles, having squirt gun battles, and swimming.  My house is a wreck and I don’t care.  Summer comes but once a year.  Incidentally, so does winter, but I have yet to figure out how to bottle and store warm weather.  (Unlike the snowball and icicle we’ve been preserving in our freezer since November.  I told the boys we’ll take them outside during one of those unbearably hot July days and see how fast it melts.)

My days of helping with grass cutting have, once again, come to an end.  Voluntarily, this time, after I encountered two snakes while mowing our backyard this week (I only do the back at our “new” house, inside the fence, so nobody can see how terrible I am at it).

That leaves me to my one true talent in life and my favorite summer hobby: reading.  Usually my summer books of choice are the romance-y, lovey dovey, devour-it-in-a-day sort of literature my mom always referred to as “smut”.  It’s her favorite too, and it’s addicting, albeit totally un-educational.  And as a stay-at-home mom for six years running, I’m starting to think maybe my brain muscles could use a bit more exercise.  I’ve finished four new Danielle Steel novels since mid-May, and I’ve moved on to actual educational material now.

Last week I read one parenting book, and began another, while a third still sits on the end table in the living room.  Let’s face it, even on my very best days, my skills as a mom could still use some improvement.  My boys deserve the best I can give them, and I’m not ashamed to admit I’m still a work in progress.

And tonight I searched our county library’s online catalog for some more nonfiction material I’ve been thinking of reading and just keep forgetting about in lieu of mindless quick reads.  Here’s the list:

*Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, by Piper Kerman     (Yep, only because I love the show.  But I love to see how Hollywood jazzes up true stories.)

*The Girls of the Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan     (Not gonna lie; I borrowed this in the spring and didn’t get through it.  I’ve been kicking myself though and am determined to finish this time)

*Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick (If you don’t follow her on Twitter, do yourself a favor and do it.  She’s hilarious.  I can’t wait to dig into a full book of her punchy wit.)

*Hidden Figures: The American dream and the untold story of the black women mathematicians who helped win the space race  (I don’t feel so bad not knowing about all these untold stories, seeing as how they’re “untold.”  But I’m particularly interested in this one after Ryan and I visited Kennedy Space Center last summer.)

*Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail (True confession: this one is all because of Lorelai Gilmore.  A Year in the Life, anyone?)

 

So that’s it.  Oh, wait, no.  The Shack is on the end table too, hiding under the third parenting book.  I bought it about seven years ago, and still have not taken the time to read.  Now that there’s a movie, though, it must be read before I can see the Hollywood version.

Leave your recommendations in the comments!  I’d love to hear what’s on your summer reading list!

 

xoxo,

~d

You Can Take the Girl Out of the Country… 

I was born and raised a country girl. 

We may have covered this before: my parents were both raised on farms. Farming is in the blood. My parents did not choose to have their own farm but we spent plenty of time farming as I was growing up. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of being perched on the fender of a tractor with my dad or my grandfather (my pappy and I once shared a picnic lunch in a tractor, in the back corner of a field during planting season); or roaming around the farms on a four-wheeler, most often with an end goal of bringing feed to the cows; and that one time my dad thought it would be fun to climb the pile of sawdust (he later made me promise I wouldn’t tell Mom). I’ve bottle-fed calves; drank fresh, raw milk from the cows my great uncle and his family owned- the last surviving dairy farm in the township till just about a decade or so ago; and walked barefoot through freshly plowed fields. I know how to can (even though I don’t do it), make my own homemade jams, and can preserve fresh produce in the freezer.  My dad taught me how to shoot- and respect- rifles and bows, and I have even attended one game dinner, sampling several unexpected types of meat. Venison remains a favorite in our house, and our freezer is stocked with that and beef from the cows my brother raises. And a defining moment in our marriage just may have been that summer we helped my dad and brothers on the hay wagon, with Ryan slinging bales from the bailer as I perched at the top of the wagon trying to secure the load.  

I’m not a farm girl. I was raised to know how to work on the farm AND how to work a farmhouse kitchen, working side-by-side with my granny to feed my pappy and his farmhands: lots and lots of coffee to get them going in the morning; hearty meat-and-potato meals, often featuring a loaf of hot bread and melty butter; and knowing that dinner would sometimes have to be reheated because during planting season and harvest, farmers don’t rest. I’m no stranger to the farm life, even if it’s not the life I’ve chosen. 

Every once in awhile, though, we go home and that country girl resurfaces. With a little coaxing from my mom and my husband , she came out to play for a few minutes a few weekends ago. 

Where we live, we don’t start measuring snow till it measures in feet. Where we come from, four inches is a huge deal, and an opportunity not to be missed if you own a snowmobile. My youngest brother just happens to have one, and my husband just happens to desperately want one, so clearly our weekend plan was a solid one. 

Now, I’m not sure if y’all are familiar with snowmobiling, but let me just say, there’s something very liberating about ripping through a wide open field at 70mph. As I clung to my husband for dear life, I may have briefly questioned my sanity, and simultaneously questioned why I’d  waited so long for this experience. The answer is as follows: I never claimed to be sane…and I hate being cold. 

Nevertheless, it was fun to get out and tour the farm- albeit at a higher rate of speed than I’ve been accustomed to in the past several decades- and of course I can never turn down an opportunity to wrap my arms around Ryan’s waist and let him be in control of whatever machine he’s operating. Of course, he’s the most competent man I know, and I trust him completely. Clearly, so does my mom. 

When Ryan went outside to get on Cory’s snowmobile, he looked at me and said, “you wanna go?”  But…I was warm. And my boys were…well, happy, content, and playing without even acknowledging my existence, so that wasn’t an excuse, but I still said no.  Before I had finished responding, my mom had her coat and her boots on, quickly enough that Ryan might’ve been taken aback. With a glimmer in his eye, he and my mom took off. 

When they returned awhile later, my mom burst through the door, cheeks rosy, and thrust her gloves into my hands. “You get out there right now!” she demanded. Mom spoke, I listened. Knowing my boys were still content, well-tended, and blissfully unaware of my plan, I bundled up and headed outside where my husband was waiting. We took off down toward the barns, cutting though the field where my pappy’s cows used to graze and toward the corn crib, past the machine shed and up through the fields we used to toboggan on with my grandparents. He cut back toward the corner of the property where the millstone sits: a large boulder with a hole in it, once used by Native Americans to grind corn. We followed the property line to the edge, then circled back down past the pond, to the open field behind the house…the same field where I remember being pulled on a sled by my pappy’s four wheeler when I was a little girl. By the time we finished I could barely feel my face, but I was exhilarated by the flash of memories at such a high rate of speed. 

I guess you just can’t take the country out of the girl. 

Can you hear me now?

By now you all know that my life is a series of screw ups and debacles, and that I’m the kind of girl who almost gets confident in her place in this world, only to be shown that I’ve got it all wrong. 

Lately, I’ve been trying really hard to be better organized. Ryan changed jobs this week, our oldest is in preschool and soccer, and they race Radio-controlled cars as a hobby. Add in regular doctor, dentist, hair, appointments, etc for five people, and our calendar fills up rather quickly.  Last year, I decided to turn one wall in our home office into a “command center,” (basically just a place where I have a dry erase board, calendar, and filing system to keep important papers from being returned to school with four days’ worth of stove splatter on them). This fall, I’ve focused on managimg my household chores and responsibilities, and generally decluttering my life. Because, you guys, kids come with ridiculous amounts of stuff (especially when well-meaning and very generous family members shower them with gifts every chance they get.) My boys are pretty loved, and I’m not complaining. I’m embracing the opportunity to reexamine what I really must hold onto. 

Thus, the majority of my life lives on my phone. I note appointments in my phone calendar, then centralize my personal calendar to the one in the office where I’m guaranteed to see it. It’s kind of an extra step, but I figure I can use all the reminders I can get. Plus, if anything ever happens to my phone…you see where I’m going with this, don’t you?

Being married to a “computer guy,” (which is seriously understating his job title) has its perks. He keeps all of my gadgets in tip-top shape, reminds me to back up my data (ahem, 500 pictures of my kids), asks- even when he’s exhausted- how my laptop is running.  He will drop everything if I have the slightest technology conundrum, and he will not rest until I’m back in business. 

Last week, he was home with us before transitioning to his new job. Ironically enough, we woke up on his first morning of vacation to find that my iPhone had attempted to update overnight, but without enough free memory available (ahem, 500 pictures of my kids), it wiped out everything and completely reset my phone to what was basically factory settings. And, guys, he fixed it. Like, recovered the vast majority of my photos, contacts, all of it. The man is a saint. And a genius. A sanitly genius. 

So imagine my chagrin when, while trying to get the boys out the door for a mad dash to Target for the Halloween costumes I’ve been envisioning for a year but because I lost track of dates (despite my two calendar rule)…I dropped my newly-formatted phone in water. Obviously, my pretty hot-pink case was more for show than for protection because the phone is definitely fried. In less than 24 hours, my saintly genius had taken care of that problem, too. 

But you know what I’ve learned from my 48 hours free of technology in the past two weeks? I’ve learned that I can do the day-to-day without my phone. I’m lost in the midst of cooking when in need to google an ingredient substitution or to find the recipe for homemade taco seasoning, but I don’t need to check it every time I walk by it. 

At soccer practice this week, I took my phone inside because Ryan was meeting us after work but he wasn’t sure he’d get there in time. I also wanted to use it to take photos. What I actually found myself doing was taking pictures and posting them on facebook, then surfing facebook, responding to comments, texting photos to family members, and…well, not really watching my boy do this thing he loves so much. 

We all say we’re putting our phones down. I pride myself in trying to keep mine off the dinner table. Mealtime is family time- that’s how I was raised, and I believe in that philosophy. But I’ve been less diligent lately. 

And, clearly, it’s gotten me (and my phone) into hot water. 

Xoxo,

~d