Hello Rosy, Week 18: soul to-do's, swimming holes, and story-telling on blogs.

I've got my warm mug of lemon water and the house is quiet.  I've woken early to treat myself to such silence and to click away on the keyboard for a few slowed down moments before the switch of my day turns on.  This is about the tenth time I've attempted to write this blog post and after hearing that you'd probably quietly wonder why I don't just give it a rest.  Our rural internet is just so poor sometimes, hardly even loading up a website at all.  So you can forget loading gobs of pictures.  Exercise, football on (meaning noise), dishes and laundry calling-well, really there a million little reasons why this space gets harder to find my way back to sometimes. 

But something about actually sitting down with just the black words on the screen and my photos and me is a form of therapy you just can't find anywhere else.  I find my thoughts stop racing from the last to-do to the next and instead really ponder my days.  Blogging is such a lost art y'all. It truly, truly is.  I have a couple blogs I still read that feel like I'm sitting down with a dear friend to chat.  The rest are business oriented or have switched to the cooler, faster, Instagram.  I remember once upon a time blogs were for storytelling. 
This blog still is. At least that is my pure heart behind it and I hope that shows.  One of my favorite ways to change my attitude is to sit in gratitude.  Often life seems to be too still, too quiet, and too full of unknowns.  The vast expanse of the future stares back at me and without knowing what's coming next it feels empty and I don't dare even dip my toe into the pitch black.  I've always been such a planner, always known the next little million steps to take.  As you've heard me say so many times this year, this is the season in life where I'm truly waking up each day with an expectant "What's next Papa?" as the Message bible once put it.  It is SO out of character for me.  It is so nice though to have this blog to show up to and read back through and ultimately see the steady hand of God.  I often scroll through years past on this humble space and I see before my eyes the girls growing and the faithfulness of God showing up in my life.  I see the way He has woven beauty and rosiness in the everyday routine of my life to speak of His great love for me.  I see that He rescued me from my plans so that He could instead open my eyes to what He has in store and ways I can more fully meet the needs of those in my family and community.

All that to say, I'm so glad I've kept on trucking with this blog. 

How about you? Do you blog?  Or do you still read blogs that are written purely for enjoyment? 
Speaking of enjoyment, cooking is high on my happiness list!  It just brings me such joy! This wasn't always the case.  In fact, Brett and I were sharing with a newly married couple recently how horrible my cooking was when we first exchanged our vows.  I remember my first "meal" as a new wife.  I was also a teacher so I'd carefully left a piece of meat in the crockpot before scooting off to school for the day.  One thing I didn't take into consideration was the tiny piece of meat and the GIANT crockpot we'd registered for.  We came home to a black brick, unrecognizable really.  Needless to say, we ate out often in those early days.  Since then, I have truly learned to cook.  Even Brett would happily vouch for me and say I was a good cook.  Of course these days my cooking looks a lot more like dairy-free, gluten-free, and all the "free's" that come with being in your 30's. 

The "to-do" list gets mentioned quite a lot but the truth is there are quite a few things that need to happen on a daily basis for my family to be well taken care of.  Laundry, cooking, cleaning up the clutter are pretty important.  Hugs, kisses, prayers, fun, and eye-contact conversations are VERY important and high on the list.  I'm learning to sometimes let other things go because I've noticed how much better I feel when I place value on soul "to-do's" as well. 

One recent Saturday afternoon the windows in the house were open, the girls were playing in the yard, and Brett was in and out of the house with the football game on.  
I took an old skirt I'd been itching to get my hands on and cut it into strips, making this quick banner. How good it felt to get something crafty accomplished! 
I've also been trying to tuck into the craft room at least once a week to work on a new batch of lunchbox notes.  I keep 'em coming for the girls!  Anna Ruth has started a collection of them in the front pocket of her lunchbox, which I think is sweet. 

Yes mamas of olders, I realize she may "grow out of this" eventually, but for now how I do love and embrace her enthusiasm! 
I do have to admit that the days are generally so full I often forget to slow down and let my eyes take in the art around me.  I've been trying to tell my mind to slow down when things like this cutting board of carrots catch my eye.  I think this must be a creative muscle that needs to be exercised just like anything else.  
We don't typically do a lot of decorating for the seasons.  Not because I don't like it but because it's something I freed myself from a couple of years ago when I realized how much time and energy I was putting into it.  But I will say this year the girls are older and REALLY into the changing of seasons.  So we're having fun with adding little touches of autumn here and there around the house, all the while having visions of Christmas decorations dance in our heads!

Betsy helped sew this banner and did such a great job! 
Fresh-cut bouquets continue to just be my absolute favorite. 
Real-life after school! I'm not sure what trick Betsy is up to, but there is truly never a dull moment around here. 
I'm still brewing my own homemade kombucha, which is a fermented tea.  Basically, it's a tea that is super good for your gut.  I really love fizzy drinks and lately my kombucha has been super, SUPER carbonated!  Switching to these swing-top bottles seems to have helped.  I also read a kombucha book faithfully from the library and adding a bit more knowledge to my mind and putting a few new things into practice also seemed to produce a better tea. 

Do you drink kombucha? Or make it? 

Betsy and I have adjusted just fine to Anna being at school.  Although sometimes it feels extra quiet and Betsy tells me she's thinking about Anna. I suppose we'll never fully recover.  Sounds dramatic, but it's just so true.  And next year Betsy joins Anna at school! 

How will my heart make it? 
I like the time and space when they're at school, don't get me wrong.  And I don't feel called to homeschool.  But boy how I miss them when they're gone.  I think I will always miss the days of them being little and home with me.  It was challenging, but so rich too.  
Autumn is starting to show around here! 

These days we are learning to embrace a new-found richness. 

One way we're holding onto richness is by choosing carefully what to say yes and no too.  I told Brett a year ago I didn't think it was hard at all what to commit too.  Perhaps there were less offers and less to consider.  I now find myself with lots of requests, offers, and invites each week and really having to choose carefully.  I don't want the girls to be run from the start of the day 'till the end every single day.  My INFJ personality really needs a bit of time at home with just the family, or out exploring with just our family.  It hasn't felt necessarily popular to turn things down to keep that in place, but it is doing us good by sticking with it. 

Last weekend we took a day trip to Cotter, Arkansas.  They have the loveliest park located by the huge bridge you see.  This is the swimming hole pictured above! 

Ok, I was really obsessed with the swimming hole as you can tell by how many photos I took of it! There were little fish swimming here but the sign clearly said "No fishing! Swimming hole".  There was also a huge rope swing children and grown-ups alike could swing off of into the water.  
We went into this store and got some fishing lures and the nice folks inside let us use their gravel ramp for our boat.  The water was moving right along and we wanted to be extra careful with the girls. 

The rope swing at the swimming hole! I didn't try it this trip, maybe another time! 

We went for a little boat ride, played on the playground, had the best local barbecue we've ever had, and then ended the day at the swimming hole. 

These are the rich moments of life that help balance the carpool lane and missing my girl. 

In other news, I'm super excited that This is Us returns to tv next week! I ordered Season 1 for around $20 on Amazon, FYI.  Just in case you're wanting to get ahold of Season 1 too! 

I'm reading Walk to Beautiful about Jimmy Wayne, country music artist and former foster kiddo.  You know how I hesitate to share what I read.  Some things, like this book, are just a hard read.  A really hard read.  Yet the book is opening my eyes once again, to the world so many kids live in that I won't ever even come close to.  Yet a world I feel deeply called to do something about and help with. 

We are looking forward to camping soon! We've hardly gone this year and I miss it. 

What about you?  What's making your life rich these days? 

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