My favorite festival is Rodale's Organic Apple Festival. We went (with a sick baby) and loved it, as expected.
It happened on the first official day of fall and...although I no longer think I have a favorite season (it used to be fall) because living with Nolan is like living out every thing with fresh eyes and so much more is beautiful now...fall is already really, really good over here.
The season just kind of spilled out of that first day.
We did all get sick, one after another, but we went on an impromptu apple-picking trip. It was an off time, so we had the play area all to ourselves, almost the whole place to ourselves (with the exception of employees). We fed goats and chickens and tried apple cider donuts for the very first time.
My husband made apple sauce while Nolan and I slept and it. is. DELICIOUS.
I made this apple pie smoothie (making a few substitutions based on what I had available) which I had to wrestle from Nolan. (Really. Every time I tried to take a sip, he tried to pull it away from me. )
Tim introduced me to the simple but incredible dessert that is thin slices of fresh apple cooked in butter. (I will be eating those every day until I am tired of them.) (Maybe I'll try cooking in coconut oil, too?)
The "baby" (he's not so much baby any more) and I have been getting longer stretches of sleep- usually 4 to 5 hours in a row each night, which translates into a lot more joy for both of us. I have been laughing so much and so hard lately and crying some happy tears. I like that.
Yesterday was my birthday. It was perfect, thanks in part to so many people that I felt I just had to find a way to pay homage to all of them. I hope I didn't miss anyone, but yesterday was just so full of good that I have a feeling I likely did. Still, if you played a part in making the day so refreshing and beautiful and special, thank you. My heart is full, and I am so grateful to have the friends and family I do.
Nolan has changed yet another part of me (in a good way) because most years I have "needed" the day to be perfect (whatever that means) and FULL of celebration. Those are good things, but usually I will put too much pressure on it which kind of takes away from the fun.
This year, I just wanted to go to Rodale's Tulip Festival with my family; I wanted to bask in mass quantities of my favorite flower and show them to Nolan. I wanted to go on a date with my husband. Since those events were already on the books, I took on a much more relaxed approach to the day. I was free to enjoy it.
And enjoy it I did.
Some of my favorite parts:
-Snuggle time with Tim and Nolan in the morning. Oh MY, you should see this baby in the morning. He is chatty and happy and so excited that hey! all 3 of us are together! I love it when we can all lounge in bed together.
-An hour long conversation with my sister. It made it seem like she's not so far away. Also? She's getting MARRIED to a man who is perfect for her, and I'm so excited for them and her and OK, me,too because I just got a new brother-in-law whom I adore.
-Two hilarious phone messages, one each from Katie and Steven. Really. I laughed out loud.
-Tim took care of Nolan while I did Yoga for the Warrior. I'm getting closer to being able to do Bird of Paradise! (See below if you're wondering what I'm talking about.)
-Birthday mail! My favorite piece today was a card from my friend Kristen T. I'm pretty sure Kristen is my long-lost sister. Words from her just kind of seep into my heart and fill in the cracks.
-The Tulip festival! Rodale is a bit of a drive for us, so it meant time for Tim and I to talk. When we got there (after a bit of a panic because oh, no! We were going to be late! I HATE being late and making people wait), I fully sunk into Tim's everything is going to turn out fine and soaked up an hour and a half of wandering through fields, rows of beautiful flowers, and what I think is going to be Rodale's kids' summer camp with Tim, Nolan, Mary Ellen, Bill, Steph, Eric, and my mom.
Can I just tell you how much I love my family? I had a blast just taking in the scenery and exploring the grounds with these people who I feel so lucky to have in my life. And I got to watch them love my son. There's not a lot that can fill my heart like watching people love my baby well. (Also? You should have seen Bill with that little boy. They looked like they were just meant to be together, chilling, and taking in the sights. Ho.ly.Cow.)
-Tim and I went on a date! Just the two of us! I'm not quite sure when the last time that happened. I mean, my parents offer to watch Nolan often, but we usually have to use that time to work on homework or complete a project. But today? No projects, no homework. We wandered into a health food store when we arrived a bit too early for dinner (I got a few new things to play with- dried cherries with no sugar added, coconut oil, and fair trade cocoa nibs.) and then ate quite possibly our best dinner out to date.
Tim's cousin, Stacey, has been recommending The Farmhouse for quite some time, and I'm so glad she has. Words are my love language, but right after that? Food. Really good, well-thought-out food. The Farmhouse does that kind of food well. They source local and organic ingredients whenever possible (part of why it tastes so good- it's fresh!), aren't afraid to use fat (hello butter, pancetta, cream, and duck fat) and are creative with their menu offerings. Love, love, love. I'll certainly be talking about this meal for quite some time.
Oh, and our server? Amazing. I'll be contacting The Farmhouse to find out her name (we were at Table 3 at 5 o'clock) because she was just that good. Guessed immediately that I love mojitos, works there because she loves the food just that much, had great ideas and tips on what to order, and was so sweet and fun. To our server- I'm so sorry I don't remember your name! But I'll be finding it out and remembering it. You helped make our dinner so wonderful.
-With my love tank full, thanks to all the great conversation, experiences, sweet birthday messages (in email, text, and written, and facebook form) and amazing food, I returned (with Tim) to pick up my son, refreshed. Snuggles happened immediately, of course.
-As a perfect topper to the day, my dad presented me with two cookbooks he personally picked out for me. My dad essentially works two jobs, is training for a marathon,and is in the middle of a construction project at home (plus he tries to spend as much time with his grandson as he can!). He doesn't have a lot of extra time to be picking out presents, but he DID. And he picked out ones that perfectly suit my interests. That made me feel like a million bucks.
-And then my mother handed me giant organic chocolate cupcakes.
Early on in my pregnancy, I decided that the kind of life I want to live as a mother includes feeding myself and my child(ren) lots of really healthy food, but also trips for ice cream, glasses of wine with my husband, picnics, and generally soaking up life. I decided that if living that kind of life- a relaxed, drink-up-the-moments life means I weigh 10 pounds more than I think I "should," I'm okay with that. I'm not saying I'm aiming to end up 10 pounds over that magic number; I'm saying that the number is not equivalent to health.
Health is so much more than food. I've had a very similar adage posted at the top of my blog for more than a year, and I'm still learning it.
In fact, even after making that decision, I was still learning.
Learning to live in and love my ever-changing carrying-a-baby body.
Learning to accept the fact that maybe everything will expand right now, but really...so what? I'm still beautiful. This whole process is still beautiful. I'm becoming some body's mother, and I have to learn to be ok with clothes fitting differently and coming up with strategies for getting out of bed.
I'll tell you what, though- I had some help with that process.
If you're pregnant and still working on a healthy body image (and it can be a process, so maybe you're already there, but need a refresher), here's what I suggest:
1.Choose to believe people-especially those close to you- when they tell you you're beautiful, adorable, glowing... It can be easy for those like you and me- when we're just feeling big- to dismiss compliments with a "oh, they're just trying to make me feel better." Probably not. You might feel huge, but face it, Sister, pregnancy is a miracle, and it is beautiful. Choosing to believe something good that's said about you when you believe the opposite does require some effort and repeated practice- but keep practicing. It'll come.
2. Keep in mind that those who make comments about your size are likely excited and wanting to participate in your pregnancy with you. This one was a difficult one for me to get over. I had the same person make multiple comments nearly every day about my size. I had people do the, "you're showing already? how far along are you? I didn't show until 6 months!" thing...and all sorts of comments along similar lines. It took me quite a while to realize that those people either don't know how to talk to a pregnant lady, are just excited that they can already "see" the pregnancy, just want to connect with you, or a combination. Most people don't mean any harm by the comments that upset you. Even after realizing this, I had some help...and when I've had a long day and get another "you're so big!" comment at the end of the day ,I still need some help some days. (Thanks, Tim!)
3. Wear clothes you feel comfortable and pretty in. It may take some time to find out what that is, and it may change, but the effort is worth it. For me, it's flowy dresses and skirts, cotton tank tops, and a pair of not-too-big-not-too-small maternity pants. I like to dress those things up with scarves or big necklaces.
4. Read things that help you get where you want to go. I'm a big fan of blogs, so when I say "things," for me I mean "blogs," but for you that could mean talking to people with healthy body images, reading a book, finding an appropriate online forum...One blog that's been especially helpful for me in my healthy body/mind/life efforts is Weekly Bite. Estela offers several articles in her "Nutrition Bites" section that have proven beneficial to me in the past, but the article I kept referring to-especially in the beginning of pregnancy- is "Pregnancy and Weight Gain Worries." That woman knows her stuff!
What am I missing? Is there anything you would add?
The shepherd's pie and the soup eventually came to be (by the work of my own hands- although I almost passed the job off to Tim). They turned out well. I played with the ingredients, of course (because even though I have lots to learn about cooking, I still insist on tinkering with recipes). My version of shepherd's pie turned out so well that I plan on posting the recipe (soon!).
After all that delicious and healthy food was done cooking, I went for a run on one of my favorite trails. Not for the purpose of burning calories (it's likely my body would be asking for those calories back in the form of food later on, anyway), but because I am planning to visit my sister soon, and while I am there, I'd like to challenge myself to run 13.1 miles faster than I ever have.
And because it's good to get outside and marvel. It's good to say, "wow," and mean it. It's good forget myself sometimes.
It had snowed the day before, so everything (including the trail) was blanketed in white. Oh, it was beautiful.
I love to be inside. I really do. There are days when I could stay in all day, cleaning, reading, writing, and cooking. But inside, I can always look around and think about how much I like my house or what I have yet to work on. But outside? There's no taking credit. There's no wishing I'd done things were better or sooner. There's just taking it all in. Just, "wow," and sometimes, the soft sounds of footprints on snow-covered paths.
Photo (Because I'm not exactly comfortable sharing with anyone who might stumble across my blog which semi-secluded trail I like to run on.)
Last Friday, I was served a fresh, local, and organic meal in the home of my favorite foodies, Kevin and Stacey. Afterward, we watched the documentary Food Matters (stopping midway for a raw fruit pizza topped with pomegranate, kiwi berries, figs, and homemade whipped topping), and I tried to soak up as much information as I could. One of the things I learned is that eating two handfuls of cashews is a natural, no-side-effects way to treat the body with the same benefits of Prozac. Because I tend to carry a dark cloud around with me during the colder, greyer months (and I haven't exactly been a ray of sunshine lately, either), I decided to start right away with what I had on hand. Yum.
So, maybe it's the cashews talking, but guess what? Today is a new day, there is never going to be another one like it, and I'm going to enjoy it.
When I am asked about a particular situation that I'm not crazy about at the moment, I'm going to get creative with my answers. Of course, there is a place for airing grievances, but too much complaining deepens discontent in the speaker and breeds it in the listener. Even if the words are said in a sweet voice- which I sometimes do and sometimes I'm just a grouch. And for all the talk, the effort, and the thought about loving people, I think I've been pushing them down with my words. With all that complaining.
And that's where I need to get my head on straight. The complaining...and also my focus on the people around me. Of course, they're important, yes, but...I call Jesus my king. I believe that he sees everything- my efforts, my hurts, my intentions, my shortcomings, my heart. I believe he wants to restore all of me- and all of everything- into wholeness, perfection, and beauty. If I call Jesus my king, then my overarching purpose is to serve him.
When I remember that, I'm relieved. Because if my purpose is to serve Jesus, then how much does it matter whether I get to see the fruits of my labor, whether I am commended by my boss or my peers? How much does it matter if someone else gets the credit for what I do, if all the situations in my life are as I want them, or if someone else thinks I'm doing enough? All those worries don't add up to much. There is something for me to do on earth that lasts forever.
When I remember that, I don't want to complain. I want to work better and harder. I want to hug people and help them up. I want to smile and point out the beautiful.
Servants, do what you're told by your earthly masters. And don't just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you'll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you're serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn't cover up bad work. -Colossians 3:22-25
You see that beautiful girl on the left? This morning, over voice mail, I heard her voice bubbling over.Kind of like she was so happy, she'd come right up to the edge of laughing. That sound is one of the most beautiful in this world, and it makes my heart swell. It instantly makes my day better and gives me energy.
That handsome guy on the right (who, by the way, prefers a t-shirt and a comfy pair of pants but can seriously rock any number of looks- including, but not limited to super-sharp-in-a-suit and the don't-want-to-meet-him-in-a-dark-alley)? Last Friday, after he told me some life-changing news (and I -surprise, surprise- cried, squeezed me close and then we talked about fear, taking risks, and just really deep-in-your-heart stuff. I treasured those moments.
Sometimes I wish we were all little kids again, so we could huddle on my bed and hide from the world when life gets tough, just like we used to do. When I was a kid,though, I was often wondering what my sister and my brother would turn out to be like.
Let me tell you, what I see now is worth not being able to go back, and it is worth the waiting and the wondering. I am constantly amazed at who they are.
And thankful that I get to be their sister.
This post brought to you by Thankful Thursday. And the fact that my sister flew in from Mississippi last weekend. And the fact that my siblings can pretty much turn me into a big pile of mush any day of the week.
What is it about some people that allows them to say whatever they want without concern?
I think sometimes it's discomfort. Discomfort and difficult with being in that discomfort.
I have some beautiful friends who recently gave birth to adorable babies. During their pregnancies, they heard over and over,"you're so big!" One of them said she doesn't think much of it, because she knows people say things like that due to a shortage of anything else to talk about. Rather than find comfort in silence, some people must say something, even if it is a rude something.
Some of my teenage girls have no shame in making comments about my body. "You have a big butt." "You're skinny." "You have child-bearing hips." It is a strange feeling when someone assesses your body like it is a car or a toy..or some other object. But I have since realized that many of my girls are still learning to be comfortable in their own bodies. They're not quite there yet (some days, I'm not quite there, but I'm there a lot more days than I was as a teenager!), so they're looking around, comparing, taking notes, making comments.
I have family members who also make comments about my body. Some of them insist that I have lost weight every time I see them. I can assure you that this is not possible, but those same words continue to come out of their mouths with every reunion. It is possible that they are not quite sure what to say to me after months apart and one big bear hug. Maybe they don't know what to ask. Maybe it is easier to open a conversation with a comment about appearance because it is right on the surface, calling out, "here's something easy to talk about. Pick me!"
I've done it. I compliment my girls on their hair cuts, shoes, and shirts. I try to do it especially when those choices seem to reflect what they really like because I think self-reflection in the form of fabric and buttons and necklaces is the best kind of fashion there is- but I still do it. I know it's easier to start with, "you look great in that tank top!" than dive right into the juicy stuff. And let's face it- everyone could use a compliment or two. Even about appearances.
Years ago, when undergoing an involuntary body assessment, I took comments to heart. (I have received comments about my body from the time I was 10. Anyone else?) I dieted in the name of finding approval and acceptance. Now, I'm not sure I get fewer body-assessing comments than I did even in junior high. In fact, I think I might get more. But unlike then, I feel beautiful. When I was in junior high, I was told I'd be beautiful when I grew up (not then, mind you. When I grew up.) by two different women on two different occasions. And you know? Maybe they were right. Maybe I just needed some time to get comfy in my own skin.
I now know that those comments I receive(d) have very little to do with me. They mostly have to do with the insecurities of the person who is saying them. That knowledge gives me a little more room for understanding, grace, and love...even for those who have no problem analyzing my body right in front of me.
Summer is coming to a close. I know that today's temperature was somewhere around 90 degrees; I felt it as soon as I ventured outside during a break at work, regretful of my work pants and mint ice cream-colored sweater (however cute they may have been). I know that there are technically a few more weeks until the beginning of fall. I know that there are some who are dreading the beginning of this next season.
But y'all (I do think in y'all's sometimes), I am elated about fall. School is beginning, and although I don't have kids of my own, that means a lot for me. I get to see my kids with a whole lot more regularity, partly due to weekly meetings, events, and planned outings, and partly because it is no longer the norm for families to wander off to other parts of the country for days or weeks at a time.It means that I get to see my (younger) girls with more regularity, as well, because their own schedules become more predictable. I'm dreaming of soccer games and cooking classes and games of red light-green light.It means perfect weather for hiking, apple picking, sweaters and jeans, pumpkin everything, and plain old soaking up just how beautiful this world can be when everything turns into rich hues of red, gold, and orange.It means evenings spent outside with a cup of something hot (and maybe sweet) while talking with neighbors, before heading inside to dinners of comfort foods: thick soups, homemade bread, mashed potatoes.
And scarves! And Thanksgiving! Oh, Fall...
"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting
and autumn a mosaic of them all."
- Stanley Horowitz
I love the written word. Love, love, love. I love to read and write stories, talk online, write out my frustrations and triumphs...(There's more, of course, but I think I am one of the few people who would want to read such a list.) My husband fell in love with me because of my written words. Writing, to me, is cathartic, energizing, and beautiful. (Oh, and it got me the attention of a great man.)
It also allows stories to be passed along. Connections to be made. Relationships to be developed. Because of written words (and the internet!), I have identified with stories and offered and received encouragement. I have been challenged. I have made positive changes. I have had the privilege of getting to know some amazing people.
She just passed on a Beautiful Blogger award to me. Well, thank you,Mish, but if I can, I'd like to say right back at you, Gorgeous. Here's the deal with the award. I am supposed to tell you seven things about me that you probably don't know, and then pass the award to seven more beautiful bloggers. Ready?
- I have eaten horse, ostrich, snails, squid, lamb, chicken, fish, turkey, and pig, but I no longer eat meat. It's not because I'm trying to save the animals.
- I started drinking black coffee because my father does, and doing so makes me feel tough. Also because I feel like I have to be "hungry" if I'm going to add cream and sugar. Now, I just like it that way and will choose to drink my coffee black even if I am hungry.
- I miss my brother. (He's still alive; don't start feeling bad for me!) He's bigger and looks older than me, but sometimes, he's my baby brother. When he was a baby, I used to just look at him and wonder what he would be like when he grew up. Now, I know, and I'm intensely proud.
- My favorite foods are coconut butter, avocado, and peanut butter- all healthy fats. This fact brings me incredible pleasure, partly because there was a time in my life (hello, high school!) when I was extremely fat phobic. I love that I've identified and embraced foods I truly enjoy, not foods I think I should favor.
- I have two birth marks (one on my foot and one on my butt), and my freckles come out full-force in the summer. I enjoy all of those things. I take them as a personalized stamp from God that says, "see, I handmade you."
- I love to celebrate. I will celebrate pretty much anything, if it means people I love will be in one place enjoying life together. The best kind of celebrations include (in this order): people, great food, and dancing.
- Traditions are valuable to me. A few of the ones I treasure from my own growing-up years are: making oodles of Christmas cookies and then giving them out, cutting down our own Christmas tree at a local farm, and painting Easter eggs. I'm already writing down memory-making activities that I want to do with my own (not-yet-in-existence) children.
There you have it!
And my own Beautiful Blogger awards go to...
Jaimie at Sanity Amid Insanity
Stephanie at Stephanie Inspired
Meredith at Balance for MEre
Beth at Favorite Things
Sarah at DiamaHippopatamus
Emily at Habits of a Healthy Woman
Jeane at The Coffee Cottage
I'm looking forward to reading your responses, Ladies! I hope every one is squeezing every drop of life out of the weekend; I'm making an attempt!
Most of my jewelry has either been given to me or purchased from Target. This is a true story.
That necklace? It's mostly an old Roman coin. It's worth less than a penny. But it's invaluable to me because of the story it carries. It's the story of a woman whose name I do not even know.
It's the story of a woman who gave away her last two coins, worth less than a penny. She gave away all she had,even though doing so most likely meant going hungry and an uncertain future. So this guy, this Jesus, said that she gave away more than anyone else that day. She knew sacrifice, she knew generosity.
I want to be like that poor, humble woman. The one who no one would have looked twice at, if Jesus had not called attention to her great sacrifice. She knew what was important. She knew generosity.
She had a beautiful heart.
When I'm not wearing that necklace, it sits on my dresser, unadorned, unannounced. Right next to my hot pink hair band. That's how the story of a beautiful heart is. It sits right in the middle of ordinary, often unnoticed.But it changes everything. Whether we notice it or not.