Hello Fri-Yay: Week 3

Let's play some catch-up, shall we? 
As you probably figured out Brett and I were at the beach last week.  I had grand plans of blogging a Friday post ahead of time, but in all honesty that felt like it kind of defeated the whole "look back at the week" kind of vibe I'm putting out with these weekly posts. 
Plus leaving for days at a time means so many little girl clothes to wash and fold and pack, toothbrushes to be gathered, headphones jammed in nooks and crannies for the plane, and cramming as many books as possible in my suitcase. 
No wiggle room for the laptop, both figuratively and literally speaking. 

We hosted Easter for the third year at our house before our trip. 
I always love having the house full of shouts (from the kids of course), conversation, tasty food, and the people I love the most in my presence.  We missed my older sister and her family very much this year, as they were in the middle of a grand adventure and weren't in Arkansas. 

Still, we crammed a lot of joy into the day and even got to have our egg hunt outside! 
A few pictures down you can see the confetti shower the cousins gave each other!
We have the sweetest group of friends we used to attend home church with and even though we are going to a new church now, the friends have stayed. I'm ever so glad! I'm also glad we're getting out and about with our kids, exploring the sights and sounds that make our slice of Arkansas interesting.  

I'm a huge believer in travel and adventure and new places and roads and experiences, whether near or far.  

That wallpaper! 
It literally made me gasp.  I just couldn't quit smashing my nose against the window, peering in at that blush-colored beauty. I would move into this room in a heartbeat.  
I took this photo, seeing as it's obviously a very beautiful shot.  But it's not just the first glance beauty that has me coming back to it though.  There's a story here that my eyes just can't look away from. 

Something about those two benches, side by side, gets me right in the soul. 
Heart-eyes for days! We love this sweet nephew of ours! Anna has become quite the little mother when it comes to babies lately.  Fingers crossed this instinct stays put until we officially start fostering!

The girls are always up to some sort of theatrics.  This particular evening it was a puppet show for Brett and I, our own version of dinner theater.  

Those feet tell a story.

Have you heard of confetti eggs? My mom brought some for Easter and the kids had so much fun smashing them on heads.  
Grandma and Papaw!
There is so much growing outside, between the garden, the wildflowers, and the new things Brett has planted in the flowerbeds.  You walk outside and there are literally colors and smells and new growth everywhere you look, beckoning you to notice.  
Something about this moment and this photo made me flash forward a few years when she'll be driving. Then my heart promptly said "nope".  Motherhood is so much about helping our children grow and fly and stitch wings together that will hold, but at the same time wrestling with the safety and security of sometimes wanting to leave my girls right next to me in the nest. 

It, like much of the rest of my life, feels contradictory and opposite, two worlds, two trains of thought colliding into one. 
The garden! 
I am working hard this year to keep the pesky weeds picked, to say "hello" to the toads, and to breathe deep and gaze upon the garden more often.

On our beach trip we went to Sarasota, FL and simply fell in love with the place. It's funny, I don't even remember what made me pick Sarasota as our landing place, but for some reason I did.  I then wondered in the days leading up to the trip, would I kind of like the city and beaches, or truly fall head over heels? You never know. The internet can only show so much. 
We arrived and our first morning got coffee and walked along the beach, just us and a few occasional thoughts.  A passerby offered to take our picture (an angel in disguise I'm sure) and so here we are. 

In love.
SO appreciating a small break in time for a getaway before all of life seems to change. 
(Anna starting kindergarten, becoming an official foster care home)

I mean, I can't even handle this image without getting teary. 
If you're wondering if it was REALLY that dreamy there, it was. 

Everyone-all ages, types of people, sizes, shapes, races, was out enjoying the beach. 
Reading, talking, laughing, smiling, drifting along, collecting shells, eating, throwing a ball, just being fully alive. 

I threw caution to the wind, waded out into the water and let Brett teach me how to throw a ball. Something so simple turned out to be great fun and turns out, I don't have a bad throw! 
A favorite memory was hearing Brett laugh a deep laugh as he figured out I could actually throw and catch quite well, I just needed a patient teacher and practice. 

Coming back home felt wonderful, our girls obviously being the biggest reason. 
But this trip did something for me I cannot even put into words. 
It definitely upped my thirst for travel and has me rethinking every tiny, silly purchase at home, instead thinking "that could go towards another trip."

What are you up to in your part of the world? 
Done any adventuring, whether big or small, lately? 
What's making your heart race with excitement these days? 
Any prayer requests? 
Spill it all.

Hello Fri-YAY: Week 2

Welcome to another edition of "Hello Fri-yay!" Another week has flown by.  Last week when I first put this idea "out there", to just check in once a week, I wondered at first if the days would seem empty, the blog vacant.  Now here it is and Friday snuck up on me.  The days are bursting at the seams with gardening, cooking, my girls, travel prep, and more.  I admit, it is such a good feeling when I realize I haven't even touched my fingers to the keyboard all day.  It sure makes this space feel a bit more sacred and special come Friday, just like it's been waiting for me to come sit and have a conversation all week long. 
I'll start by saying the theme of these first few photos and all of life really, is that things aren't always as they seem.  If I only showed you the picturesque coffee shop window, the succulents nestled in by a perfectly painted turquoise frame, you'd get a totally different understanding and view of my life than what is truly honest and real-life.  Last weekend Brett had a work obligation Saturday morning so the girls woke early (so early) and off we went to a favorite bakery in town, followed by a trip to the Farmer's Market afterwards. 

The girls dined on delicious pastries and we sat in the early morning light, enjoying the beauty of the patio. I just knew the day would be magical. 

On we traveled to the farmer's market, where the day wasn't magical but actually quite hard.  Nothing major, just some too tired girls which resulted in emotional, dramatic behavior.  Plus it seemed like every other family we saw had a perfectly loaded basket full of pretty things, smiles from ear-to-ear, practically glowing from the excitement of a spring market day. 

But let's be honest.  Out of the hundreds of people at the market, underneath all those smiles, I know I wasn't the only one having a less than perfect day.  My whole motto of life is to find the rosy in the routine, even when the routine feels a bit "off."  So that's just what we did for a bit.  And then my mama wisdom kicked in and I knew we needed to head home for a re-start!

So for us although we shortened our stay at the market, there were little snippets of beauty to behold, like this lovely, talented lady who showed the girls how she carved spoons.

I watched Anna Ruth purchase her own tiny succulent with confidence.  
Then we did the grocery shopping and went home for a re-start.  As soon as we walked in our home I felt more relaxed and at peace. The girls got some rest while I put the groceries away, then we had the nicest lady over from church. She was bringing us a church directory, a loaf of bread, an Easter basket for girls, and mostly there to say welcome and she was glad we're a part of the church.   The day felt new and recharged.

The next day we woke early for church and then enjoyed family lunch.  Afterwards we spent the day in the yard, flying this awesome kite Brett got the girls! I could hardly contain it when all the string was let loose!  It would go really high and all I could think of was the Mary Poppins song "Let's go Fly a Kite!" The girls named the kite "Sky Light" and spoke to it as if it were real.  Naturally.
Spring,  you are so, so good to me. 
 As we moved on into the week spring reminded me how it feels both like a shuffle and a sprint.  My exercise comes quite naturally this time of year because there is simply so much to do in the yard and garden.  I like that.  Isn't there something just so satisfying about having your hands in the dirt?  I know the girls sure do enjoy it.  Actually, make that hands AND toes in the dirt, that's what they prefer!  This day Anna Ruth joined me for the weeding, little snippets of conversation happening in between the satisfying sound of pulling weeds.  

 Of course with all the yard and garden work, there are also times that feel like a slow-down shuffle.  Moments like when we find a toad! We found two of them in the garden this week and had to stop and say "hello".  We caught the smaller one in our bug-catcher to get a better look and when it was time to let it loose we figured we should put it right back where we found it.  Perhaps the bigger toad was its mama! She'd be wondering where this one went.
 The carrots are continuing to grow well, or the tops are at least!  
Anybody have any knowledge in this area? We're wondering if we should thin them out so that they'll actually grow big.

 We continue to really enjoy salad from the garden for dinner. 
Often times (like tonight!) this will be our whole meal. 
I'll add protein, like a boiled egg, tuna, or salmon, to the top. 
We also like olives, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, peppers, capers, a little bit of everything on top really.  Or it's even good to just drizzle some olive oil and vinegar on top of a plain bed of lettuce.  

 My sweet Betsy with her blankie.  All who know us well know about the blankie. It's literally like a full-sized blanket, brown and fleece.  Betsy used to sleep on this when she was a baby because she was a winter baby.  She's now four and still extremely attached.  At least with it being so big we're not likely to lose it!

I adore her little hair buns here!
 Brett and I are taking a trip together, just the two of us. 
So I stopped in Barnes and Noble to grab a magazine and was delighted to see all the art made by children hung up!
 This week I also finished up a photography project for Jerusalem's new book coming out this summer! I cannot wait for you to see the photos and her book quotes combined! 

These quilts even make an appearance. 
You can purchase the photo prints in my Etsy shop soon!
A random tip for you: 
One HUGE way I have improved my neck/ear/back pain is by putting the computer up high when I type or edit photos.  This is a game-changer for me.  

I recently looked around at the library at everyone hunched down over their computers and just cringed.  Then I thought I should make a mini, foldable desk that is portable. 
 Adding an umbrella to our outside play this week has been fun!
Anna requested this photo and this is the face she wanted to make. 
 We had a few movie gift cards so I took the girls to see Smurfs. 
I thought it was "meh", just ok. 
Anna really liked it. 
It reminded me a lot of Trolls, but without all the wonderful singing and silliness! 

By the way when we want to check out how appropriate a movie is we go to a website called Plugged In.  It breaks any movie down by categories like language, etc.  I highly recommend it!

 Beautiful, early morning light.
 Homemade hot chocolate for the win! 
In a favorite mug of mine from Grandma and Papaw.
 Brett and the girls worked on this puzzle for weeks and finally finished it last week!
 Sweet girls had their Easter egg hunt and party at school last week! 

And I get asked EVERYWHERE, "Are they twins?" !
 And this is our current favorite hairstyle. 

Now we're looking at a busy weekend celebrating Jesus and Easter! 
We are hosting for the third year in a row. 
Then next week Brett and I head off to Florida. 

We celebrate 9 years this summer. 
We're jumping and plunging deep into the waters of foster care, come June. 
But first we're taking a pause for us. 

What are you up to? What are you reading/watching/dreaming about? 
Any travel plans in the works? 

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