I decided that this year I’m going to practice slowing down at the start of each new month and reflect on what I learned over the last 30-ish days. This is now my fourth month of doing this and I am loving the discipline of it. It’s easy to focus in on the big things and forget about all the little ways we’re growing, changing, shifting, experiencing joy. This is my attempt to capture a few of these and put them down on paper (err, computer screen).
See what I learned in January February and March.
And now for what April taught me:
Toddlers Are A Whole Different Thing
One of my favorite people in all the world is my almost three-year-old niece, Ellie. She is happy, smart, says the cutest things and with her olive skin, big brown eyes and pretty dark hair, she looks nothing like my kids (and just like her gorgeous mama, my sister-in-law). I adore her. So much so that on my #40by40 list is a weekend with Ellie.
Last weekend, I got my weekend with Ellie. She came on Thursday and left Sunday and was a delight the entire time. Seriously.
We played and ran errands, went on a coffee date, drove one of those car carts at Home Depot, watched Daniel Tiger, built block towers, bought a new dress-up outfit, chased chickens. It was all wonderful … and reminded me just how out of practice I am at being a toddler mom. It’s only been five years since Audrey was her age, but how quickly I have forgotten how to do it! Potty training, cutting up grapes, buckling a seatbelt, all-day dialog, playing cash register, listening to Wee Sing Silly Songs – I love it all, but these are not the things I do as a parent anymore.
It’s a different game, for sure.
Are you parenting toddlers? Savor it. But also know that as they get older, it gets a bit easier.
And, of course, in some ways – different ways – harder. I’m still figuring that part out.
I don’t like The Red Tent as much as I remembered, but I do like the kitchen house. Maybe even more than the first time I read it.
Another two items on my #40by40 list were checked off in April.
(Do you see a theme here?! I’m moving right along on my list … ).
I read The Red Tent right after college and loved it. I’m pretty sure it was the first book I read just for pleasure and for sure the first time I missed the main character when it was over.
It is a loose historical fiction about Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob (of Bible fame) who is just barely mentioned in Genesis. The author does a beautiful job weaving a story about her life and giving us a picture of what life might have been like in those ancient times.
For a long time I’ve said that it is on my list of top favorite books.
Well, I re-read it and while it is good, I wouldn’t call it one of my favorites anymore. Because I’ve read so many other excellent books since then, I suppose it just didn’t have the same draw as when I read it for the first time.
This was not the case, however, for the second book on my 40 by 40 list to re-read – The Kitchen House.
If you have not yet read this one, stop what you’re doing, order it from Amazon or request it from the library. It’s seriously so good. Excellent writing, characters you feel real emotion toward, a snapshot of life on a plantation in Virginia in the early 1800’s as a slave. It’s heartbreaking and redeeming, eye-opening, entertaining. All of it.
I loved it so much the second time around that the second I finshed it, I started the sequel (if you can call it that). The Glory Over Everything has been keeping me up way too late every night this week.
I miss old blogging, and I think you do, too
When I publish a blog post, I send out an email to my email subscribers telling them about the new post. On the what we did over spring break post, I added a little note. Here’s what I wrote:
“I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the ways blogging has grown and changed and truth be told, I miss the olden days of just sharing the little things that are going on. I could probably write a whole post about my thoughts (anyone interested in hearing those?!) and feel like maybe we’ve lost a part of the magic with all the big reveals and how-tos and top ten tips that fill our inboxes.
When I was writing today’s blog post it felt like the posts I wrote a few years ago. It felt good, but also totally weird. I didn’t put a long list of links for where to visit and what to do like a modern-day travel post would require. Just photos of our family and the pretty sites we saw. Is that boring? Outdated? Interesting? Is there value in sharing? Does anyone even care?!
Anyway, perhaps we can talk more about this. I really would love to know what you think – as a reader of blogs. Do you like short, personal stories? Do you prefer the reveals and how-tos? When someone posts about their family vacation are you interested or do you skip over it :)
I wrote all of that on a whim and sent it out and didn’t really expect a response. I know you all are busy and so the fact that so many of you took the time to chime in blew me away. Also, can I just say that you guys say the nicest things to me?! That feels good, obviously, but also very encouraging. I have been blogging for a long time and have tried to stay as true to myself as possible while also wanting to stay relevant. Sometimes that is exhausting and takes the joy right out of it, and sometimes that is just what you have to do when you call this thing your livelihood.
I do miss the simple posts, the community and connection, the unpolished-ness of it all. And from the response to that email (and in the comments of the spring break post – read those here), it seems you all do, as well. So I’ll keep doing my thing and finding ways to share like we used to in the olden days of blogging (aka 2009).
Walking and Talking is more productive than just talking
Ryan and I talk a lot. Like, a lot. It’s one of my favorite things about working from home together.
Earlier this week, we took our talking outdoors and walked down the street, across the bridge and to the beach. It was a little chilly, but so beautiful and 3 miles later, we had done our talking and moved our tushies. April and her spring weather reminded me that I am so thankful to live in such a pretty place.
Also? Since when did my face get so many wrinkles?!
Just because it sounds fun to share and for me to remember, I’m adding a few little sections to this monthly post: what I bought and what I read/watched/listened to.
what I bought in April:
Our chickens are doing well and giving us such pretty eggs. I needed a container to keep them in and found this adorable ceramic egg crate. I actually bought mine on Amazon because I wanted free shipping, but when it came, it had a World Market sticker on it. Strange, but I’m happy to have a cute container for those happy eggs.
I popped into Target with Ellie to grab a few things and walked out with Joanna’s New Cookbook. It’s beautiful. Clean, modern, gorgeous photography, mouth-watering recipes, looks pretty on the kitchen shelf. Everything a girl could want in a cookbook :)
These striped outdoor pillows also miraculously jumped into my cart. They look perfect on the front porch rocking chairs.
The only article of clothing I purchased in the month of April (at least for me) was this Ribbed Poncho Sweater. I bought the indigo sky, although the pink is really pretty, too.
what I read/watched/listened to in April:
I already told you about The Red Tent, The Kitchen House and Glory Over Everything.
This podcast conversation between my pretend bestie Annie and Alex Seely was one that spoke right to my heart. I need to listen to it again and this time, take notes.
Also, Emily P. Freeman, you are a fountain of peaceful, down-to-earth wisdom. This quote: “Pick what you like then see if it grows” has been rolling around in my heart since listening to this brilliant episode.
I’ve been listening to Alli Worthington’s Spotify playlist on repeat. It’s called Worship for Fierce Faith.
Ryan and I watched this movie and surprisingly totally enjoyed it. Jessica Chastain is such a talented actress (did you ever see this one of hers? It was really good, too). And anything Aaron Sorkin touches is right up my alley.
The kids saw The Greatest Showman in the theater and somehow I did not. So the night that one came out we watch it. Yes, I love a musical.
When Ryan isn’t around to watch a show with me, I like to pick something a little girl-ier. I started Call The Midwife. Only two episodes in, but I think I could like it.
Okay, that’s my wrap-up for April!
Anything in particular you loved about last month?
LOVE call the midwife!!
I’m chuckling at you all watching Call the Midwife :-) It’s been around a while here in the UK and, I have to admit, when I watched the pilot episode, I thought it was twee and not worth the time. Buuuuuuttttt…. it’s grown on me – and my 20-something daughter is a big fan. It’s up into the 1960s now so times have changed (think fashions, toilets being mainly indoors!) but smoking is still a big thing! Fascinating.
Is that a japense Maple ? I can’t figure out if it’s a tree or a bushes.
Yes, a japanese maple. It is pretty short, so i suppose it could be considered a bush!
I absolutely love hearing about book recommendations from others, especially since I have so little time to read. Awhile ago, I started The Kitchen House, but I just couldn’t get into it at all. Recently, I decided to try it again, but it still didn’t work. I kept thinking to myself, “What am I missing here?” I really value your opinion on good reads, so this book must just take awhile for the storyline to get interesting.
Or it just might not be your thing! I have tried reading books that others have loved and haven’t been able to get it to them either.
such a great list! call the midwives is great! you always inspire me!! I am also super inspired by Emily P. Freeman!
Thank you, Daisy! And, yes, Emily freeman is just the best.
Absolutely LOVE Call the Midwife!! The storyline, acting and emotional connection to pregnancy, birth and motherhood………. all incredible! One of my all time faves for sure!
I loved The Kitchen House, so maybe I should reread it. I have read The red Tent twice and I, like you, liked it better the first time, but I did like the “story” of Dinah and all her brothers and father. I can’t wait to order the Glory Over Everything. I haven’t gotten into podcasts yet…..I’m slow at moving on but I LOVE “Call the Midwife”. I have watched all the episodes and have ordered the books to read. I must admit, I like a lot of the Masterpiece shows on PBS i.e.., ‘Grantchester, Homefires, Downton, and have just started watching the new one Forgotten. It isn’t as good as the others but I still watch anyway.
Blogs have changed but I love yours so please keep blogging on!
Thank you for the PBS recommendations! I watched The Paradise earlier this year and was sad when it was over :)
The Call the Midwife series of books was spellbinding! Loved them all. Totally worth the read. Different. Excellent glimpse into a completely different life!
The Kitchen House and Glory Over Everything are two of my favorite books!! Hoping for another by the author in the future.
Pretty egg container! A few years ago I wanted a way to keep our eggs so we knew to eat the oldest first and we got this: https://www.omlet.us/shop/chicken_keeping/egg_skelter/ but in cornflour blue. A quick search shows they’ve really come down in price since then and there are so many more varieties. I’m sure you know unwashed eggs don’t need to be refrigerated.
Thanks for the link! We go through our eggs so quickly that I forget which ones are newest :)
I do know that I don’t need to wash the eggs – but ours are sometimes so gross that I end up scrubbing and refrigerating.
I love Call the Midwife! I hope you started from the beginning.
So many great recommendations that I took notes :) I loved the Kitchen House too, so I will be ordering Glory Over Everything. And yes I agree, blogging has changed. And in many ways, not for the better.
Keep up the great work Emily.
Call the Midwife is my absolute favoritest show of all time. So, so good.