Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Book Review: The Magnolia Story


When I stayed in a hotel for a month I had cable (what a treat!) and watched Fixer Upper for the first time.  Oh my word, I love that show!  I never saw a designer whose style I liked more than Joanna Gaines!  And her clothes!  Oh wow… love her look too.  I might have recently bought new sandals with her in mind!  Ya... and posted it on Instagram! #dork

I recently read The Magnolia Story and love them even more!  The book is written by Joanna with add ins by Chip.  It was a fun book to read, so much so that I read it in a few hours one day. 

The way these two interact is fun.  Chip, who has big ideas reminds me of my husband.  Her “go with the flow” attitude is one I admire and envy.  I really want to be more like her when I grow up!

(I realize I am waaaay behind the times since they wrapped up the series and most people are watching reruns, but hey… I’m a little slow sometimes and newly obsessed!)

If you’re looking for a fun read and you are a fan of their work, then definitely check it out.  Thanks Kim for the recommendation!

Thanks for swinging by,
Mary

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Book review: Present over Perfect


I recently finished reading Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist.  

Her story is quite different from my own but I enjoyed the book and got some nuggets from it.  I walked away with some things to think about as I settle in the southwest after moving cross-country… and before getting involved in too much again!

She was a very busy woman with a full schedule and ended up getting physically sick from it.  My situation wasn’t that severe but at some point a few years ago, I recognized that I too had too many commitments outside my home.  It left me with little white space on my calendar so I purposefully stepped back and slowed down to focus on my home and family.  What this book brought to my attention is that while I slowed down, I stayed task-oriented and didn’t shift my attitude.  I let my lengthy to-do list overwhelm me and I didn’t find ways to get alone time to recharge, even though my overall schedule was better. 

Shauna said:
“I felt that in many ways I was making good progress, inching toward a life marked more by presence and connection and less by exhaustion and competition. But this vein of inner darkness remained. If anything, maybe it became more visible once I slowed down a little.” P.68

Yes that sounded familiar!  She wrote about how she used to believe in the power of silliness until she became responsible.  Ahhh!  That made a lot of sense to me!  I am often focused so much on what needs to get done that I forget to have fun in the process.  When my kids were smaller it was easy to be silly.  We’d turn music on and dance but now that they are older, it’s different.  They’re more serious and self-conscious and they’re a tougher audience to perform for! 

My biggest take away is to remember to be goofy and laugh more often!  I miss my silly side and my husband always says, “A happy wife is a happy life.”  Hopefully my kids won’t get eyeball damage rolling their eyes at me.  Haha! 

Moving is great for fresh starts!

Thanks for swinging by,
Mary

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Traveling Cross Country


Heeeey!!!  It’s been 2 months since we left Connecticut and I have my computer set up again and wanted to share about our crazy road trip!  Let me just say that is it so.much.easier to travel with older kids!  I did make travel binders for 2 kids who wanted them, but they entertained themselves with gadgets and movies most of all.  The only issue with this trip was that my husband and I each drove a vehicle.  I wish we were together to talk and point stuff out but thankfully we had radios!  They proved very useful because we drove through many areas that didn’t have cell service!  
We left our home of 8.5 years in CT on May 26.  
Here's our last picture together in front of our house before we left.  


We drove through NY, PA, OH, WI, IN landing in North Dakota 3 days later.  We made a bee line for the state and didn't stop to explore because my husband had to report for training.  We did stay in hotels with pools so the kids got swim time and that was nice.  And it was neat to see the landscape change as we drove east to west.

   
We were in ND for almost month and we enjoyed the town.  The weather was beautiful although we lived through a tornado warning one night.  The sirens went off and the sky looked scary!  Alerts popped up on TVs and cellphones.  Reminded me of our time living in the South!  Eeek!


Overall our time there was good.  We explored playgrounds, met friends in the hotel, swam, joined a fitness center that had an indoor water park complete with water slides, went to the library, shopped, hiked and enjoyed wifi and cable TV in the hotel!  It was a relaxing time for me and the kids although my husband was working!

When we left ND to travel to our new home in Arizona near Tuscon, we took the scenic route and made that our vacation. 

Day 1: We were on the road about 13hrs! We drove from northeast ND to southwest SD. The scenery was flat til SD and it turned to rolling hills with crops and cows. Even saw three gorgeous horses galloping. 

We drove through rain with lightning and that was cool to see off in the distance before we hit it. We drove thru the Badlands and it was beautiful! The lighting was amazing after the storm combined with the glow of pre-dusk. And then the sky at sunset - oh wow so mesmerizing!  We saw a bunny, deer and bison too! It was sooooo awesome and breathtaking!!! 

God’s creation is aaaaaazing!!! We pulled over multiple times to walk around and take pictures.  I’ve never been but it reminded me of a little Grand Canyon.  The rocks were beautiful and so different from anything we’d seen on the East Coast. 

Day 2: We saw Mount Rushmore.  They didn’t allow dogs in the park so we left ours in the van in a shaded parking garage.  (We were there early enough that it was still cool too.)  We didn’t stay long because it was sooooo crowded.  We were there no more than 30 minute just to lay eyes on it and take pictures.  The area was done up well for vacationers though and there was lots to do. I can see why people travel there.  

We drove through the Black Hills and it was like the setting of a fairy tale!  I loved the trees and forest floor! 

We saw the Crazy Horse monument (what a goal – look it up if you don’t know about it!) and although there was a museum we didn’t stay long.  

It was hot by this point and we had the dog.  We took turns as a family going inside.  We were very thankful that as a military family we had a free National Parks pass, otherwise those quick stops would have been costly!

We drove through beautiful landscapes through SD into Wyoming.  We saw snow on the ground and had to stop to take a picture.  

I couldn’t believe it!  Turned out it was hail from a storm that passed though earlier.  

We felt like we were on a different planet at times!  Just so vast and you could see for miles!  It was incredible!

On Day 3 we were on the road from WY to Moab, UT.  I didn’t know anything about this area but my husband researched and planned our whole trip and I learned lots.  We drove through Colorado but didn’t stop… just appreciated the Rockies on our drive through the ever changing landscape!  (This country is huuuuge!)

On this day we checked into our hotel early, leaving the dog there in his crate so we could explore.  We had an awesome supper at a sit down restaurant (which we avoided to this point because of the dog).  And again, dogs were not allowed in the Arches National Park so leaving him in the hotel was a good idea.  We drove on the side of cliffs to get in and out of the park and I was a nervous wreck staring forward the whole time!  I drove so everyone else could look out.  Even so, the rocks were so beautiful.  We were there until after sunset and were amazed by all the scenery.  It was nothing like any of us had seen before!  And it seemed impossible to capture event a fraction of it on camera!

Day 4 was a drive from UT to Northern Arizona.  We stopped to explore more in Moab before leaving.  Again so stunning!  

When we got to Flagstaff, we again left the dog in the hotel so we could eat and explore.  We ended up at a beautiful forest and walked a trail. It was a nice night and we enjoyed our time together.

Day 5: We drove through more of Arizona and arrived in our new town on June 26!   How funny… we left CT on May 26 so that was exactly one month on the road!  We were very happy to not have to load and unload our cars anymore!   And we were excited to see bigger cacti and have a new place to explore.  The landscape is soooo different from the Northeast!

Our POD didn’t come til July 2 so we had pretty much camped in our house til we got our household goods.  It's mid-July now and we have most of the boxes unpacked but are still settling in.  We've done a little exploring but it's the warmest time of year and expect to do more outdoor things when it cools some.  

After driving about 51 hours and 3440 miles in a month, we're ok with relaxing a little too!

Thanks for swinging by and checking in about our trip!
Happy July,
Mary


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Chill out

As mentioned in a previous post, I am in the process of packing for a big cross-country move.  I am packing all but the kitchen myself and purging all that we don't need along the way.  It's been an emotional process for many reasons...

Leaving the east coast and our family & friends.
Parting with decor and "things" that have helped to make our house homey.
Deciding what is financially wise to keep or buy again later (like beds).
Keeping my house clean for showings.
Having buyers back out and needing to show it again.
Packing while deciding what to keep in the cars with us... always thinking many steps ahead.
Still needing to homeschool a child.
Still have 2 kids in Middle School with Spring concerts and projects.  (Unpacking boxes a couple times looking for materials!)
Keeping up with the laundry.
And housework.
And kids' messes AFTER doing housework.
You know, normal life stuff on top of it all!

All this to say that I have been very stressed out.  For weeks.  Well months actually.  You know that feeling when you're holding back tears?  I feel like that a lot.  I've cried more in 2018 than the past decade and if you know me, you know I'm not a huge crier.  To help reduce my stress, I've been learning to meditate.  The "Calm" app is where I started.

I learned that meditation is not emptying your mind but instead focusing on the immediate here and now.  Being present in the moment.  With practice, one can become more resilient to stress and that's what I need!  It actually retrains your mind to respond in a healthier, stable way.  Oh to slow my brain down sounds amazing!

So to add to all that my sister told me about a podcast from The Mindful Mama Mentor that she thought was interesting.  After hearing about what she learned, I asked for the link to listen myself.  My kids have really seen the worst in me the past couple months and I have a lot of regret about that so love a good parenting podcast.  Here's the link:
https://www.mindfulmamamentor.com/blog/love-more-care-less-118/

It was exactly what I needed to hear!  It's excellent for parents on a normal day but for me, now, where I am, it was very timely.  My kids are still going through their normal selfish growth stuff even as I go through a very stressful time.  They aren't going to be magically extra better behaved because Momma is on edge!  So my response should be kinder.  It shouldn't be one laced with venom as they've been.  My big take away from the podcast was so simple that I made a phone screensaver:

Made by me for iPhone screensaver. 
Feel free to use!
And in order to chill out, I need to spend more time being STILL and teach my brain to respond better.  BE STILL & CHILL!  ha!  I think that as a Christian it's easy to pray and read your bible.  Yes that helps but at some point we also have to do work to make the change happen.  Just like reading cook books doesn't make you a great chef.... You have to get in the kitchen, test out flavors.  Some days will be successful and other days a flop, but the end goal is to be a good chef so you keep going.

The bible verse that keeps coming to mind is:
Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

So that's where I am today.
I have to be still.  Meditate.  Breathe.  And be present.

(Oh and pack boxes too! haha!)

Thanks for swinging by,
Mary