February 26, 2015

Week 6 Planning For Growth: 12 Weeks of Seasonal Living

I had a phone conversation with a girlfriend last week where I lamented frustration about how difficult the days have been as February brought snowstorms, stomach bugs, and pink eye. Merritt hasn’t been to preschool in 3 weeks and time for writing has been hard to come by. Another storm brews tonight as I type!

While I'm not working now, my writing pulls at me. The more I try to reach for it the harder our days are because I’m trying to do too much; multitasking, juggling their needs against mine.

Sometimes the most obvious answers come to me while I'm processing out loud with my girlfriends. 

"I guess I just need to let go of trying to do anything I want to do when I’m with them,” I said. A familiar surrender.  My friend—also a homeschooling mama with a brand new baby—said, “YES! Don’t try to do anything! It will be so much better.” Exasperated with knowing I said, "Of course it will. 

The next day I let go of the doing and embraced the being and it WAS so much better.  Their squabbles and requests didn’t feel like a burden or an imposition. The pace was slow and easy.

Was it that simple? After seriously MONTHS of frustration? Yes it was. 

Bottom line: I still need to separate my work form my home time—I thought we were passed it but I think I jumped ahead of myself. Tis' the season. This week I've been working on hiring a few sitters to cover four or five hours during weekdays. Time I can rely on to do my writing thing. 


This week the Homespun Seasonal Living Workbook asks us to reflect on the intentions we set six weeks ago. To take a look at what is working and what more we can do to extend those successes. To consider what is not working and allow ourselves to let go of those intentions that no longer serve us, just as easily as we picked them up—no self judgement. 

Looking back to Week 1 my intentions included:

Source Local Foods, Prepare Meals to Highlight Seasonal Availability, Tend a Year-Round Garden.  This is natural and easy for me and sticking solely to in-season produce has simplified my shopping and meal planning tremendously.  A little meal inspiration from our table:

  • Greek Chicken and Pilaf/whole chicken cut-up, skin on/brown butter, onion, long grain brown rice, pine nuts, currants/ arugula salad with garlic balsamic dressing
  • Pastured pork sausages simmered in chicken bone broth with kale, sea salt and garlic/ whole wheat bread loaf with unsalted butter
  • Chopped potato soup with onion and kale/ chicken stock, large couscous pearls and bay leaf/ soft boiled eggs/ oranges
  • Chicken adobo with soy sauce, garlic, bayleaf, apple cider vinegar/ brown rice/butternut squash and apple mash 

Spend Time in Nature Often, with Appropriate Dress: It has been unusually cold the last couple weeks, many days with lows in the teens. We had a great snow day a couple weeks ago but the boys lasted only 20 minutes and their frolic ended in tears over frozen toes and fingers. Next year I’m going to invest early in real snow boots and full snow bibs for the kids because even though it doesn't snow much here, they need that extra warmth to incentivize their time outdoors. It will be worth it even though they will outgrow them by season's end. They'll get a lot of use out of them and Roscoe's can become Merritt's the following year.

Let the Temperature of Our Home Reflect the Season. Our heater just can't keep up with these recent winter temperatures so we've been surviving and thriving in a cooler house. I received a pair of these weekend socks for Valentine's day and it's cozy to have special pieces to reach for when I want to be warm. 

Merritt turned 4 last week! These kids cannot be bothered with winter clothing.
Plan for Activities and Crafts Inspired by and Reflective of the Season. I'm growing to appreciate the fact I'm more spur of the moment than I am a planner in this realm. I would much rather stock our art shelves with supplies of all kinds and then pair what we have on hand with whatever idea strikes our fancy in the moment. It's not quite as relaxing or as finessed a final product as I imagine it could be if I had a plan to go by, but for now it suits me fine. 

Let the Seasons Renew: Quarterly Cleaning and Organizing. I can't stop won't stop on this one! It's too satisfying to make progress on all the little piles and closets and spots that gather and accumulate the stuff we don't need to keep anymore. Whenever I think I'm done I find more little stashes to unpack, it's why I'm still going 6 weeks later! The trash bins are filling up as is the attic where I store the stuff I don't have a place for. Thank goodness for that extra storage space in an otherwise tiny house.

I'm adding an intention to my list!

Use Light to Cue our Daily Rhythms. Using light to cue our daily rhythm makes sense and is instinctually calming. Early mornings and late afternoons are more peaceful with quiet music and turned down lights. Candle light cues the kids to quiet and wind down as bedtime nears. Friends of ours use light to herd their kids to the rooms in the house they want them to occupy by turning off the lights everywhere else. It's brilliant and it works for us too.

I have really loved this winter and I give a lot of credit to Kathie's workbook for inspiring me to make an effort to be in the moment and to document all there is to love about it. Spring will be here in 4 short weeks but I'm not in a hurry. It feels like Winter now and I am happy.

A simple life is easier and in the end more luxurious. —Terance Conran

Massing Schematics to Floor Plans: Our Modern Nature Home Design, an update

We went from massing schematics to floor plans this month!  

It’s crazy to think we ever considered going it alone to forego the expense of an architect. I'm afraid to wonder how that from-scratch design might have translated into a real life home! Scott and James surprise, impress, and excite us with their practicality, expertise, and seemingly unlimited reservoir of creativity.

After reviewing near 20 different schematics in two separate sittings to refine and combine concepts, we're now waiting on the final.

In the meantime, Andy and I are focused on getting serious about the finishes and details in the rooms we know are going to demand big allowances from our budget: the kitchen and master bedroom. We need a realistic ballpark estimate to begin to allocate the rest of the budget. This is the fun and overwhelming part! 

While we have a general idea for the look we want, there are so many ways to piece together flooring, appliances, and countertops and shelving and storage—I'm feeling a little paralyzed by the possibilities. We're hoping to snag an appointment this weekend with a kitchen and bath design company to solicit a little advice on sourcing and costs.  

We're also ordering another soil study that will inform the structural engineer on how best to design the footings. Bad soil could change the whole architectural design but hopefully everything will look good. Better to find out now than later!

February 24, 2015

Self Care and Keeping Organized: Part III of the Work/Life/Self Series Guest Post

In a three part interview I'm answering questions from Sarah at Next Page, New Chapter on topics ranging from career to homeschool and self care. 

Sarah and I worked for the same company in my pre-baby DC days and I'm so happy we've stayed connected over the years through our writing. She's a mama to one fiery red-head and balances a full-time job (and insane commute) with all her other pursuits. Like the rest of us she's curious how other mothers navigate work and motherhood.

Today in Part III of the Work/Life/Self series guest post I'm talking about self care and home organization. 

You can jump to the full interview HERE. Just Joining Us? Catch up on Part I and Part II
Copyright @ marblesrolling.blogspot.com

S: How do you manage to keep yourself mentally, emotionally and physically healthy? Do you have any daily or weekly rituals?

J: I thought for a long time that self care meant going to the dentist, getting my haircut—stuff I needed to do to take care of myself, right? I have since reframed self care as an opportunity to refuel, it's the stuff in life that brings joy and pleasure: time spent in nature, time alone to read and write and dream and plan and pursue my projects, quality time spent in deep conversations with my husband and girlfriends, good food, comfortable underwear and cozy pajamas!

I have time built into every week that I know is mine to use for these activities. Andy works late on Mondays so those evenings are always very quiet and relaxing after the kids are in bed. I also have six hours on Sundays that I usually devote to an outdoor hike and time spent writing. I workout in the early mornings or late evenings 5 days a week. This all sounds like a lot but I feel calmer and more energized to be the mom that my kids deserve when I prioritize taking care of myself.

As an aside, adequate sleep cannot be underestimated! I know it’s hard to find when the kids are young, and choosing sleep over getting things done can be tough at the end of the day when it seems there aren’t enough hours to attend to all the things that pull our attention but, if there is one simple place to start this is it! The days are exponentially more difficult when I’m tired.

It’s been an iterative process for me to identify what I need, communicate those desires to my husband, and grow increasingly willing to let go when it comes to the kids while I’m away. Self care was not part of my vocabulary for the first three years of motherhood, at least.

As for rituals, we have this little stovetop pressure steamer that froths up a dreamy foam and every morning I make a latte for myself with vanilla extract and a dash of ground cloves. I also really love my makeup brand right now and it has re-inspired my morning routine. Writing on Sundays at different coffee shops that I enjoy starts my week off right and grounds my energy.

Do you have special rituals that keep you sane? Any tips to share for keeping yourself and your home organized?

February 20, 2015

That time I was surprised to choose homeschool, and is it more or less work than I anticipated: Part II of the Work/Life/Self Series Guest Post

In a three part interview I'm answering questions from Sarah at Next Page, New Chapter on topics ranging from career to homeschool and self care.

Sarah and I worked for the same company in my pre-baby DC days and I'm so happy we've stayed connected over the years through our writing. She's a mama to one fiery red-head and balances a full-time job (and insane commute) with all her other pursuits. Like the rest of us she's curious how other mothers navigate work and motherhood.

Today in Part II Sarah asks about that time I was surprised to choose homeschool, and the big question: Is it more or less work than I anticipated?

You can jump to the full interview HERE.  Just Joining Us? Catch up on Part I and Part III.

S: From reading your blog posts, you seemed somewhat surprised at yourself by making the decision to homeschool. Can you discuss which factors led to your decision, and do you anticipate a time when one of your children might be homeschooled but another might prefer a different environment?

J: It’s true, I had a little identity crisis when it looked as if we were leaning toward choosing homeschool for Roscoe’s kindergarten year! I just never thought of myself as someone who would choose to homeschool—I imagined elementary school as an opportunity to ramp up my work hours, and I carried some preconceived ideas about who homeschools and why and how, and based on those assumptions I just never envisioned our family as the homeschooling kind. Ah but things changed!

(Read the rest...)

Read the Full Interview at Sarah's blog Next Page New Chapter where I also answer the question Is homeschooling more or less work than you anticipated?

Copyright @marblesrolling.blogspot.com

Join in the discussion, we'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences on mothering and schooling and work/life integration!

February 18, 2015

Work Decisions and the Evolution of my Career: Part I Work/Life/Self Series Guest Post

In a three part interview I'm answering questions from Sarah at Next Page, New Chapter on topics ranging from career to homeschool and self care.

Sarah and I worked for the same company in my pre-baby DC days and I'm so happy we've stayed connected over the years through our writing. She's a mama to one fiery red-head and balances a full-time job (and insane commute) with all her other pursuits. Like the rest of us she's curious how other mothers navigate work and motherhood.

Today in Part I she asks about the evolution of my career and what shapes my professional path.

You can jump straight to the full interview HERE.  Read Part II and Part III

Copyright @ marblesrolling.blogspot.com

Hello readers! I want to say thank you to Sarah for inviting me to interview on these topics. I love this thread of inquiry and have always been fascinated by the challenges of work life integration and how other mother’s make their mothering and their careers work for them.

Your career has evolved from traditional (working in the basic sciences) to relatively non-traditional (doula, childbirth educator.) Can you please walk us through this evolution?

I grew up on the West Coast and moved to Virginia with my family when I was 15. During college admissions my dad and I were on a campus tour in Richmond, he picked up a brochure for the new College of Engineering and said, “Hey, you should do this for your major! You would be great at this.” I had zero intention of staying in Virginia for college so I shrugged and said sure.

As I’ve learned now, more than a few times, even the best laid plans don’t always come to fruition and, likewise, sometimes the best outcomes are fortuitous.

Read the Full Interview at Sarah's blog Next Page New Chapter where I also answer the questions Have these career choices surprised you in any way? Had you considered them prior to the birth of your first child, or did they result from your experiences as a mother?

Come join in the discussion we'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences on mothering and work/life integration!

Week 5 Creating a Seasonal Refuge: 12 Weeks to Seasonal Living

This week's challenge in the Homespun Seasonal Living Workbook is to find and claim a special spot in your home as your seasonal refuge, or a place you can retreat to reflect on your intentions in whatever season you're in.

I knew my refuge needed to live somewhere in the main part of the house so it could be easily enjoyed throughout the day—when I try to hide away or find a place of solitude the kids are distracted to seek me out and it ends up being disruptive. I also want to do the things I love to do in plain view of them.

I couldn't decide between the very cozy arm chair in the living room and staking claim to a little corner of the dining room table. I avoided my office, the most obvious opportunity for a special retreat, because it has been abandoned since I stopped working last year. For a long time it was piled high with all the random things I thought to save "just in case" I might need them at some later time, but probably wouldn't. It had become a collecting ground for miscellaneous things without a home.

After procrastinating for a couple days I decided the desk had to be it and grabbed a trash bag to begin sifting through it all.

I cleared away all the junk, wiped away the dust, unwrapped a desk caddy that I received as a birthday gift last year, and found a new light bulb for the lamp.

Then I went to Michaels for some foam board, fake flowers, and a pennant banner.  Similar to the office revamp from 2011 I used the same tutorial and made another desk blotter with the foam board. (Same fabric as last time too!)

How about you? What space will you declare your seasonal refuge and how will you claim it? 

February 11, 2015

Week 4 Creative Seasonal Grooves: 12 Weeks to Seasonal Living

This week The Homespun Seasonal Workbook discusses ways to “honor our creative tendencies by indulging in what we enjoy and connecting it to the season.” 

My creativity is expressed primarily on the page and in the kitchen, which was addressed in week 2 and week 3.  

In week 4 I honored my creative side by doing the following:
  • Continued to blog this mini journey to seasonal living
  • Expanded my interest in documenting and taking photos with the #BoldHeartMama Instagram Challenge, which feels just right for February.  (Want to join us? Start anytime, post some days or all the days!)
  • Dusted off my bread maker, which I thought was broken, and made two crunchy, chewy loaves of bread to soak up all our soups and stews.
  • Practiced my barista skills every morning to learn how to make a heart in my latte foam. There is still so much room for improvement but this is really fun!
  • Ditched my gym workout one morning to run outside when the sunrise called me to the river and the temps were warmer than usual. No mittens or hats required!
  • Encouraged the kids to join me in writing letters, love notes, thank yous, and Valentine's by setting up a little writing station and inviting them to decorate shoebox mailboxes to give and receive notes.  
  • Made valentine cookies on the fly, by request, even though we had to sub some ingredients and only made a teeny tiny batch of teeny tiny hearts because we only had 1.5 sticks of butter. 

It feels like a simple concept to do the things you already enjoy doing and tie it to the season in whatever way feels right or within reach in that moment, doesn't it? 

This week's prompt gives us permission to indulge or step away from our hobbies and making endeavors however it strikes our fancy, and energizes us to honor our impulse to engage our creativity in different ways throughout the year. 

What about you? What are your creative outlets and how can you tie them to the season? Are there activities you only like to do in the Winter?

February 3, 2015

Inspired by the Season: February 3

I'll be back next week with another post from the 12 Weeks to Seasonal Living series, and in the meantime I want to share with you a few seasonal inspirations.

I'm enjoying this Moon Phase wallpaper on my desktop so much. I love the night sky and the cycles of the moon. Ez Pudewa has a series of 6 different seasonally inspired themes on her blog from the Fall, free for download!

Speaking of the moon, a good friend shared this Infographic on Lunar Abundance with me last night. What a fun framework for setting big and small intentions throughout the year.

I've also been exploring the Sun Calendar App, which is how I know tonight is a full moon!

What season are you?
 (You might like this one too.) I'm a Deep Autumn and I've been on a quest to bring more color into my wardrobe. Today I bought a couple of these spectrum tees in peach and gold to add some warmth to these February days.

Finally, I'm delighting in the writing and the photography that so well captures the season in the Winter 2015 issue of Bella Grace.

February 1, 2015

BoldHeartMama Instagram Photo Challenge

Instagram is my favorite social media channel, a mini-log of time well spent and a great platform for sharing the story of our days through the photos we capture. Instagram offers a more intimate portrait of life and I enjoy the telling as much as I do the opportunity to catch a glimpse of what life looks like every day for the other mamas I follow.  

In honor of all the BoldHeart Mamas out there I thought it would be fun to host a #BoldHeartMama Instagram photo challenge for the month of February.

Are you a BoldHeart Mama? I think so!

The BoldHeartMama seeks to be inspired. She is a relentless learner—curious, inquisitive, and open to the possibilities of her life and of the human condition. She asks questions that dig deeper.  
She pays attention to and nurture's whatever it is she really cares about, and she lets go of the rest knowing that she can't do and be everything all at once.  
She embraces her imperfections—her imperfect self, her imperfect home, her imperfect mothering, her imperfect desires—and yet she doesn't stop evolving. She is authentic and true to herself. She relies on her creativity and her resourcefulness to solve the big and little challenges that she and her family face together as they navigate their relationships and their world. She is willing to take calculated risks to make her biggest dreams come true. 
She is present and engaged and makes things happen. She knows there's only this ONE LIFE and she's all in. Her intuition is her guide. She is a BoldHeart and she's living in the moment, making small moves and taking little steps that add up. She's cultivating a good life for her family and she's living her best life in the process.   

Will you share what BoldHeartMama looks like for you, in the little moments that add up to a life well-lived?

To join in just save the #BoldHeartMama theme list on your desktop, phone, or tablet, grab your camera and start posting! Don't forget to tag your photos with #BoldHeartMama so I can find you.

You can find me at @MarblesRolling

How we spend our days, is how we spend our lives. -Annie Dillard
Related Posts with Thumbnails