Tag Archives: family

“Follow the Yellow Trail”

My gal V recently watched parts of the Wizard of Oz with her grandfather, Poppi (don’t worry…not the scary parts).  As a result, she’s been taking her Wizard of Oz figurines, bequeathed by my mother, and making them dance and sing “Follow the Yellow Trail!”

We like exploring trails in our family. This July, we took a wonderful walk on the C&O Canal path.  It was a beautiful day and being in nature together, exploring with the ever-curious V, and wandering down by the river to explore some winding paths made the experience complete.  We took along the cameras and I thought I would share some shots from our journey.

V and Daddy by the river. (photo by PML)

V taking her own pictures!

What we call dwellings for the fairies… (Photo by PML)

One of the two butterflies that fluttered around us near the river. They were lovely!(Photo by PML)

V and Mama!

V showing Daddy “sumpit”. (Photo by PML)

A beautiful view (Photo by PML)

The next few photos are part of what M and I like to call our “Decay” series.  M coined the phrase and had the idea for the series though we both make contributions to our collection. We have taken many different shots from excursions and trips that represent decay in life.   It helps us to find beauty in the things that die, corrode, or deteriorate in life.  Here are some of our “decay” shots from the Canal path.

Abandoned Shoe (Photo by PML)

Carcass (Photo by PML)

Untitled (Photo by PML)

And one last colorful shot of the mystical beauty we found at the water’s edge…

Peace (Photo by PML)

I hope you enjoyed your photo journey with us.

What are some places of beauty you have found in your life lately?

Where can you find peace and loveliness in the decay in your life?


What You Can Find in a Blueberry Patch

Our sweet gal picking her blueberries (Photo by PML)

As a child, I spent my summers on the shores of Lake Huron at our family cabin in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan.  It was an idyllic sort of time in my life, one that I will probably write more about in future posts.  One of my favorite pastimes was roaming the forests with my sister gathering flowers and berries.  I remember seeking out the rustic lanes where the wild blueberries would grow, and filling up buckets alongside my family.  My mother would bake the most delicious muffins and pies from our yield and we had the opportunity to spend an afternoon enjoying nature.

(Photo by MEL)

In an attempt to buy local and fresh seasonal fruit (which benefits the environment and our budget), my husband M and I have been visiting local U-Pick farms for our summer berries.  V and I went on the first strawberry picking yield with some friends, and brought back enough for two batches of strawberry jam, made by M and I.

This past weekend, we decided to visit a small family run blueberry farm near our home.  They follow organic practices and sell berries for only $1.55 a pound, which is fabulous!  Together, V, M and I spent the morning filling our bucket with lovely, plump berries.

Zen Picking (Photo by MEL)

Together we worked, alternating between restful silences and chatting amicably.  Though the morning was quite warm and humid, gentle breezes relieved the heat.  The sunshine dappled the bushes, highlighting the green of the leaves and the blue-purple ripeness of the blueberries.  In the next lane over, two gentlemen talked in deep, soothing twangs about family.  I could have listened to the one man read the phonebook; his Garrison Keillor voice was hypnotic.  Somewhere in the bushes, an older lady with a lovely voice taught a friend a hymn.  V ran about “sploring” the bushes and discovering bugs and birds.  Everyone was in pleasant moods, delighting in the beauty of the morning.  In that patch of garden, everything seemed in harmony and I absorbed the peace.

V ‘splorin’ (Photo by MEL)

We got so much more than a bucket of berries from our trip to the blueberry patch.  We shared a pleasant time together as a family; V had a valuable learning experience about where her food comes from; we spent time enjoying a natural setting and restored some peace to our spirits.

M & V finding some berries for our bucket (Photo by PML)

As an added bonus, on the way to the patch, we stopped at a yard sale to ask for directions and I scored some awesome loot:  a two poster headboard and nightstand for V, a Melissa and Doug money set for educational play, a large basket to house V’s busy bags, a Mercer Mayer story collection, an I Spy book, a large metal standing coat rack for our hallway entrance, and more for $31.00!  I plan to refinish the headboard and nightstand with a white, cream, or matte French black appearance.  And fortunately, we were able to enlist the help of a friend to haul it home.

Yes, it’s the world’s ugliest pie, but it sure tastes good! (Photo by PML)

With our blueberry yield, V and I made homemade muffins and pie and we froze a bunch for the winter months as well.

Yummy, yummy muffins! (Photo by PML)

What are your favorite berry picking/harvesting memories?

A Thank You Letter to My Husband On Father’s Day

Last year, I wrote a post about why I think my husband is a wonderful father.  This Father’s Day, I would again like to remember and appreciate his role in our family by sharing some of the many reasons I am grateful he is V’s daddy.

Husband, I am thankful for the mornings you sacrifice precious extra moments of sleep to help V get her morning drink and go to the potty.  Speaking of potties, I am thankful that you are a dad who is willing to help take her to the potty when we are out in public.  I am thankful for the times you come home, exhausted from your day, and take over making dinner or playing with V, or listen to me vent about some frustrating events of the day.  I am thankful for the moments when we are zoning out in front of the TV at night in that post child-bedtime haze, when you see me setting down to fold an engulfing mound of laundry and though you, too, are so exhausted you really don’t want to move, you get up to help me anyway.  I’m thankful that you help me scurry around the house to pick up before play dates, even though you are more comfortable with a messier house, because you know it is important to me to have things tidy.

I am thankful that you give us the last taste of whatever food we are all sharing even when I know you really like it.  I am thankful that you mow our lawn, even though you hate doing it, because you know it aggravates my asthma and that V loves to play on it.  I’m thankful that you pry out her splinters and in one instance, a tick, while keeping her calm and unafraid. I am thankful that you help her and I not to be scared of things.  I am thankful for your goofy antics that keep us smiling (I won’t embarrass you by sharing here).  I’m thankful that you are always there to comfort me when I cry or to support and uplift me when I feel like a parenting failure, even when you are busy at work and I feel like a dork for bothering you.

I am thankful that you value creating our own family traditions and special times together.  I am ever thankful for the sacrifice you make, giving up precious time with V, so that I can be home with her, especially when we are doing the kinds of projects and going on the sort of outings that you would enjoy.  I know you miss those moments and it’s often hard for you to leave when V tells you she’s sad that you are going to “workadays.”  I’m grateful that even though I know you are missing those precious moments, you don’t begrudge me when I express some gripes as part of the less glamorous aspects of the at-home parent role. I’m thankful when I see you creating your own special moments and experiences with V; reading in her Book Nook, snuggling watching Star Wars shows, dancing in the living room, going shopping for pretty outfits, crafts, and baubles, doing “ahrt projects”, having gigglefests.  I’m really thankful that your efforts have made it possible for us to have the kind of close knit family life we do. 

I am thankful (mostly, and sometimes in spite of myself) for the ways you challenge my parenting perspectives.  I don’t always tell you, but I know that your questions sometimes provide a really good balance to my own parenting style.  I know we do things differently, but I think, ultimately, V will benefit from having both approaches integrated into her upbringing. 

I am thankful that you value learning (ours and V’s) as much as I do and that you create opportunities for V to grow and learn with our family.  I am thankful that you value my needs and interests and create space and time for me to take care of myself, often reminding me that I need my own time to renew my energy and spirit. 

And I’m so thankful for all our precious family moments, none of which would be the same without you.  I’m thankful that you are there to hear all of V’s funny quirks and sayings, that you are aware and involved with all aspects of her growth, and that we are sharing this crazy parenting gig together.  I’m thankful, even though I sometimes miss those 10 couple-centered years we had pre-kid, that we get to experience raising a child together. I’m thankful that one day, when our little V grows up and moves on to do her own things, that we’ll still have each other for the next phase of our lives, whatever adventures and struggles may come our way.  And I’m thankful that I know your heart will be as full as mine when that day arrives. 

Thanks for sharing, learning, loving and being part of our lives.  Happy Father’s Day! 

Pouring my heart out at “THINGS I CAN’T SAY”


Suiting Yourself

A Real Family At The Beach (photo by Eric A. Bauer)

I should know better than to read Yahoo Headlines.  But when checking my mailbox, this gem of a post entitled “What Men Think of Your Bathing Suit” stood out for me as I’ve recently been bathing suit shopping and found the experience frustrating and the selection limited.  This article of 100 random men’s opinions on preferred bathing attire is yet another example of the cultural expectation that women are ornamental.

Two and a half years ago, I had a child and my body was forever changed. My hips are broader.  My weight has returned to post baby numbers, but it has shifted to different places.  Add this to the fact that I deal with IBS, a chronic condition that often results in a bloated stomach, and I no longer feel the need to bare my mid rift or my heinie when on the beach.  I’m not ashamed of how I look, but I do like to dress in a way that highlights my assets…and the area just below my “ass-ettes” is not one of them.

Two Girls in Suits (photo by Eric A. Bauer)

Having recently deflated the upper half of my body post pregnancy, my just post pregnancy suit no longer fit this year.  So I went on a bathing suit buying excursion that left me wondering…who the heck designs women’s bathing suits?

I’m sure I’m not the only gal who prefers a modest appearance to mini triangles held up by string.  And I’m surely not the only mom who doesn’t want to worry about what’s falling out while jumping about in water and digging sandcastles with my kid.  I’m in a different phase of my life, one in which I’m not dressing to attract attention but to (literally) suit myself.

What I found at the local stores near me were overpriced, undersized, cheaply designed bathing costumes that tended to assume every woman is a super-model sized, modesty avoidant, uniformly shaped gal.  As someone with relatively little time to shop by myself (anyone been clothes shopping with a two year old lately?) I felt like my time as a consumer was wasted as I left yet another shopping excursion empty handed.

Finally, my ever supportive husband found a sale ad for bathing suits at a local department store.  Feeling hopeful, we drove to the mall together, he departing to the mall playplace with V while I took a moment to think and try on.  After the realization that my new body shape now meant I wore a size bigger suit, and a sinking understanding that the sale was largely a small percentage off of already exorbitantly priced items (why does such a small clothing article cost so much more than normal attire?!), I narrowed my choices down to three items.  Feeling concerned about the cost, I called my husband back for a consultation and practical assessment.  He’s the one that asks the right questions to help me buy practical shoes, sturdy clothing, and he’s dead honest if something looks hideous.  So despite his protests, he’s really a helpful shopping companion.

I left with a choice that I felt comfortable wearing, a long, stomach-covering tankini (hello easy bathroom use) with a ruffled matching bottom.  It is a little retro looking and cute while still covering up the bits I want covered.  I don’t have any self-consciousness wearing it, which is my test of bathing suit success.  I know other women are equally happy with a small-sized suit and feel comfortable being nearly naked, and if that’s the case, I say power to them.  Being comfortable in your own skin is the sign of a healthy, happy person.  What really matters is that every woman can suit herself with her choice and that the choices provided by the market reflect what women want, not what men desire to see.

Though I appreciated having my husband’s perspective, and I always appreciate when he finds me attractive to him, the idea that any woman would select a bathing suit primarily to please men really galls me.  It stems again from the perpetuated cultural expectation that women need to be ornamental and appeal to a male fantasy rather than being comfortable and happy with our own appearances and tastes.  My husband can’t decide what is going to make me feel comfortable or at ease with myself, and certainly a Yahoo article about men’s preferences shouldn’t influence women’s choices in the least.  So why was it written?  Because even the female author of this ridiculous piece has bought into the idea that beach attire is connected to a mating ritual of our species and that women are meant to choose plumage that serves the purpose of attracting male attention.

Personally, I go to the beach to drink in the scent of the water, to feel a cool breeze, to smoosh sand between my toes as I walk in the surf, to read a book or watch my daughter build sand creations.  I go to relax with friends and share conversation or travel games.  I go to enjoy a picnic and breathe deeply with my husband during an uninterrupted moment of peace.  I do not go to fulfill men’s desire for visual stimulation, as this article would lead women to believe is the function of their swimsuit choice.

I sincerely hope there aren’t any women out there that change their choices because of the Yahoo post, and I also place a challenge out there to all the budding fashion designers:  create a suit that allows a woman to suit themselves at an affordable price.  All of us will be richer for it.

Switching out the Burnout for Joy

Kate Fineske from NAMC recently wrote an interesting post about burnout that captured many of the feelings I’ve been having lately about writing.

In her post, Kate talks about how when all our focus is invested in one area of our life, we can start to experience burnout.

For a while now I’ve been putting my energy into two primary baskets:  motherhood/homemaking and writing.  Though I chose both of these paths for a reason, and both are essential to who I am as a person, devoting my energy nearly exclusively to these areas has lead me to recently feel some burnout.

Instead of looking forward to my Thursday nights of writing, I’ve been feeling like I want to do anything else.  Instead of feeling pride and accomplishment in my mothering/housekeeping abilities, I’ve been feeling bored with the endless piles of dishes, diaper/potty duty, repeat cycles of laundry, floors that dirty themselves as soon as they are clean, and even, yes, answering some of the same rounds of questions from my beloved daughter, who has entered into the obsessively questioning phase of toddlerhood.  When the joy in my job starts to diminish, I know it is time to switch something up a bit.

V's comment: "Mommy, THANK YOU for the tablecloth!" So glad it was exciting for her!

So this week, I’ve tried to create some pockets of change in our routines.  I’ve spent some leisurely days outside with my gal, away from the demands of home.  Getting out in nature always refreshes my perspective and we love adventuring together. V and I had a pajama day where we watched Little Mermaid, read Little Mermaid, colored Little Mermaid (sense a theme?) and generally did a whole lot of nothing besides cuddling and enjoying our time together.  And on this past Thursday night, though I took a few minutes (literally a few) to craft this piece, I spent the primary portion of my free evening creating a tablecloth for our kitchen table and undoing the hem in my daughter’s Renaissance dress in preparation for the upcoming season of Renaissance faires we plan to attend.  I’ve resumed working on the hand embroidered wall hanging I started back in high school (way too long ago to have a still incomplete project…) and picked up again during my pregnancy over 2.5 years ago, that I am determined I will actually finish.  I feel the need to get some gardening dirt under my hands, and some sunshine on my SPF protected skin.

I’m taking on a new role as a consultant to my own life, and if a routine or role is not bringing me pleasure, and if it isn’t necessary for our survival and functioning, it is going to find a new position of importance in my life.  There is only so much time, both in a day and in a life, and while the discipline of doing things we aren’t fond of can be important to personal growth, and pushing over a writing block or slump is part of a normal process, there is also a time to axe the things that aren’t contributing joy or sustaining the body, mind, or spirit.

This month will be a busy one for me.  I have two non-blog related writing assignments to complete by the start of May.  My family is coming for a visit followed soon thereafter by a visit from my husband’s family.  We will be connecting with some out of town friends who are coming in for a day visit.  In the flurry of activity, I am trying to remember to eliminate the sense of obligation that often can accompany a busy lifestyle.  By letting go of some of the “shoulds” and phasing in some more of the things that bring us joy into our routine, I hope to shake this feeling of burnout.  In that vein, my posting may drop off a bit for the remainder of the month.   Hopefully, by my one year blogoversary in May, I’ll be feeling a sense of renewed energy and interest in writing again.

Have you ever experienced burnout?  What are some of the ways you renew your spirit?

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