Just jump in with both feet.

I want my words to feel like poetry but sometimes they feel like a prison instead.  Or like carefully stepping on ice, trying not to slip and fall.  I write one blog post in my head and sit down to type it in real life and suddenly this thought bumped into that thought and I'm left over-thinking my words because I still haven't mastered how to share just enough.  I remember someone once feeling like they truly knew me because they faithfully read my blog.  I admit, it made me pull back a lot in how much I was willing to share.  Most of you know that you're getting a sneak peek at my life when you're peering through the computer or phone screen into my rosy days.  

All that to say, it's been hard for this introverted/highly-sensitive/dreamer to write sometimes.  If I only show you my favorite photos and moments captured, will you know I'm also dealing with a handful of real-life things just aren't pretty or beautiful right now?  I hope.  

So how's your summer?  Too fast?  Too slow?
Packed to the brim or alarmingly empty? 
Our past week or two have been quite busy, but by our own doing of course.  That's what I like about the summertime.  We can choose our days!  It's like a giant "Choose your own adventure" book over here and we are loving it before the rhythm of the school year starts back up. 

I got a job by the way! It's tickled me how many people don't realize I have a degree in Early Childhood Education, was a teacher for five years, and dream of teaching again.  Next year I will be an instructional assistant in an elementary school and I am just so excited! 

In the meantime I've been starting and ending my days outside. My journal has seen more of me than it has in a long time too, seeing as it is the perfect companion to my morning cup of coffee. The sun keeps me company in the morning, along with the fuzzy caterpillars, the butterflies, lizards, toads, and crickets.  And oh how the birds love to sing! It's a beautiful feeling to be outside alone but not feel alone at all.  

Every year the garden reminds my perfectionist side to pipe down.  I imagine a garden with minimal weeds, everything mulched and in tip-top shape.  Honestly though, we just don't have the time for it!  We are doing enough to take care of our own yard and garden, the cows and farm, and still have some down time every now and then.  Guess what?  The garden doesn't care it's not perfect and it still keeps on producing.  
There's a lesson there.  Perhaps we should stop waiting until things feel perfect and just jump into life with both feet.
Little moments of baking, creating, painting, and learning have found their way into our days.  The week we moved our Little One into their new home I came across a donut pan at the Goodwill.  It's sad really how much time I put into the purchase of the pan, but it kept my tears at bay at least for that particular morning.  I pulled it out a couple of weeks ago and made these donuts from the Sweet Laurel cookbook.  They were divine!
The girls have really enjoyed the play dough, painting and drawing, and playing outside.  Although their most favorite thing EVER is still Legos. 
We visited Grandma and Papaw one day and I captured this gem.  Next week Papaw turns 85.  
Well, this about sums up the girls.  Betsy with her eyes closed and a smile plastered on anyway, probably somewhere really fun in her mind.  Anna looking quite serious.  These girls are so opposite!  I get asked all the time if they're twins and if they play with each other.  They play together constantly.  I have them do "quiet time" where they have to play in their rooms alone a few times a week.  I keep telling the girls that I want them to learn to be alone and be ok with it.  I don't mean that in a negative way, I just mean I want them to be fully comfortable in their own skin and able to entertain themselves for bits at a time.  
The girls have been super cuddly with me this summer and want to talk to me all the time.  One of our favorite things to do is sit down on the couch together and read through a stack of books.  
Now that Anna can read she often takes a turn reading aloud to us! I am still blown away each time she begins.  Elephant and Piggie have become two favorites in our house.  

A couple of weeks ago Anna Ruth turned seven!  We celebrated by having a Ninja party and family over.  Seven-year old Anna is smart, into history and science, very loving and patient with her sister, very to the point, serious at times, silly, and still a Daddy's girl.
This book is our fave! It has helped us identity so many things on the porch and in the yard this summer.  I highly recommend!

There are a few things in my life that just don't get old.  The beach is obviously one, but so is this morning light.  It just screams hope to me.  The way it moves in around the shadows and its warmth.  I look at it and I'm instantly feeling calmed and hopeful.


And the winner of our most favorite summer time activity goes to lightning bug catching! Or at least chasing. At night the whole yard and pasture fills up with the glow of these and there just isn't a single thing like it. 

Other mind/heart thoughts: 
My books, flowers, America's Got Talent, Ben Rector's new album, photography, painting, yard and garden work, Zevia soda, journaling, FRIENDS (so many friends), and time with family are making my world go 'round this summer. 

DREAMS: 
Photograph families in all their true glory, whether that be in their home or on the farm.
Teach a photography class this fall. 
Write and self-publish a book. 

Your turn. 

Cliche' and carefree

Perhaps it's rather cliche' to write a summer blog post about flowers, but how could you not?! I genuinely love flowers.  I want them in vases, as patterns on my clothes, and as paintings created by my hands.  Something about them just delights the deepest part of my soul. I even care for the few flowers that the general public call (gasp) "weeds."  
Thistles, I see you.



We have an array of flowers in our yard that have been carefully selected and planted by Brett, for the most part.  I do have the irises that I get to claim bragging rights to after successfully planting them myself last year and watching them bloom again this one.  

The favorites though?  The wild ones. 
Behind our house we have a pasture full to the brim of wildflowers.  I snuck back there for a walk one afternoon, going a bit cross-eyed trying to look for both snakes and soul-stirring photos and flowers.  I left with a huge bouquet and smile plastered on my face. 

Roaming the wildflowers is just as good to me as walking along the beach.  And that's GOOD.  

These gorgeous beauties were captured at my mom-in-law's.  You know, being a country gal and all, I never have had sunflowers grow in my yard.  Isn't that the worse? 

Good thing I have such a sweet mom-in-law who doesn't mind at all if I take a gazillion photos.
I think that first sunflower photo is a framer and could keep the cold away this winter. 


One of the best parts of really stopping to notice the weeds and wildflowers are the bugs and butterflies.  There's so much life buzzing when you bend your head down close, that you just don't notice from afar. 

That'll preach. 
As cliche' as it may be, the flowers make me feel carefree. 

The swoosh of summer

Summer is in full swing and I already feel like it's swooshing by.  It's almost as if I can hear quiet, little voices saying "faster, faster, faster" each day.  Of course, this is ridiculous and I'm probably only feeling this way because this is our first "real" summer where it will end with both girls going to school.  
 Let's rewind a bit though.  We started the summer off with Betsy graduating from pre-school!  This was a moment we can't skip over.  We are so proud of our girl and she is SO ready for kindergarten!  It helps that she's watched Anna truly love school all year long and so has been patiently waiting her turn to go.  We attended Wee Care Christian Preschool in Fayetteville for the past 4 or 5 years (I can't remember!) and what an immense blessing it has been to our family. 

I've said it before and I'll keep saying it-Teachers are amazing, wonderful people and it takes a village to raise our kids! I am forever grateful to the kind and talented preschool teachers that helped prepare my girls for school! 

 Next up it was time for Anna to finish kindergarten.  We had such an amazing kindergarten year!  She had the nicest teacher ever, the school year was filled with such amazing learning opportunities and after-school clubs, and Anna learned to read!  We certainly do learning time at home and really I consider all of life a teachable moment.  But her teacher is the one that helped her learn to read step-by-step.  Maybe I should have called this blog post "Ode to teachers"! 
 The day after Anna finished up kindergarten we started packing for our beach trip and hit the ground running with summer.  The beach trip was just wonderful because it did feel slow.  We would wake up and our only agenda was to eat, have fun, and maybe do a load of laundry or two.  I mean, we vacationed hard and now that we're back home I'm so grateful we did.  

Our summer days and weeks are filling up with so many good things.  Pausing to photograph little moments here and there are my way of standing in the midst of the busy and laying my claim on what truly matters.   I sometimes picture all the duties and responsibilities and activities in my day-to-day life as runners, all pushing and shoving to get to the finish line first.  Then I picture myself standing firm, right smack in the middle of them all, big and tall with a rosy life sign.  I think we choose how many of life's blessings go noticed or not.  Sometimes, the blessings are much more difficult to find.  Sometimes the issue isn't in the abundance of blessings, it's in the capacity to see and feel them.  
 That is where I find myself this summer. 
Abundantly blessed and life at full capacity.  Yet, if I'm not very intentional about stopping to smell the roses, missing it all together.  

I didn't mean to go heartfelt in this post, it's just where I'm at this morning. Yesterday I shared with my mom-in-law that I made a list of all the things needing my attention, or at least the things on my mind on a daily basis.  Housecleaning was of course on the list, as was exercising, cooking, gardening, keeping up with my community of friends, helping at church, painting, learning time with the girls, and more.  This list wasn't even factoring in the fun outings the girls and I have.  All it took was a quick glance at the list to see it was a bit crazy to imagine a person being able to do all that on a daily basis.  So I've been trying to pick well.  

Stopping for spiderwebs will always, always make the list. 
"Don't you think the web itself is a miracle?"-Charlotte's Web

 Our garden is producing so much and actually looks HUGE compared to this photo, which was taken some time ago.  I'm a bit behind on my photos, as these were taken a month or so ago.  Give the garden a bit of sunshine and some water and watch it burst! This week we got our tomatoes (not pictured here) staked and I am already anticipating all the delicious things I'll make.  It's like The Night Before Christmas when the children have gum drops and lollipops dancing through their heads at night.  Instead, this farm gal has tomatoes and visions of salsa, fried green tomatoes, spaghetti sauce.........


On the rare foggy mornings when we're actually home, there is nothing I love more than to take my camera outside and have a look around.  These little webs in the grass always stop me in my tracks.  
Especially when I zoom in and see the immense beauty and detail on one single web.  
Life, zoomed in, is much the same isn't it? 
Beautiful. 
Detailed.
We've been having loads of fun filling up our kiddie pool from Wal-Mart and spending time outside.  We are definitely outside people and I must type that very same sentence every single summer.  Put quite simply, the sunshine just sustains us.  There's almost nothing I love more than to have on shorts or a swimsuit, no makeup, and be working or playing outside.  Brett and I keep dreaming up ideas for our yard again.  We have a side yard that stays shaded all day long which is a slice of heaven in Arkansas humidity!  We are wanting a picnic table or something to set in the shade.  I am dreaming of string lights, of course.  You can never have too many!



 A few summer evenings we've gone fishing on our farm pond.  
The most hilarious secret ingredient helped us catch some fish.
Gouda cheese! 
Anna Ruth suggested we use cheese for bait because she had either read about it or seen it on a show. I said we could, mostly to please her.  I was completely shocked when it actually worked! 


Our creek is also in fine form this time of year.  Of course, we take in the beauty with one eye, while watching for snakes with the other.  There is something about the light and water here that is just pure magic to me.  It can hardly even be described. 

I have been filming my summer some here and there and the creek water definitely makes the cut. 


A few other summer thoughts: 
We find all kinds of moths and neat bugs outside and our favorite way to identify them is with this book: Nature Anatomy

I am enjoying-
Watching: America's Got Talent and World of Dance
Listening to: Annie F. Downs "That Sounds Fun" podcast, as well as the Relevant podcast
Drinking: Zevia soda-cream soda for daaaaaaaaays.
Eating: Corn on the cob, zucchini salad, garden potatoes, and Chips Ahoy every now and then
Reading: Everybody Always (already read, a must read for all), My Year with Eleanor (just started), and on my upcoming list, Love Lives Here, and Begin Again
Enjoying: journaling, painting (eventually maybe I'll have a sale again), eating outside, evening walks with Brett, catching fireflies with the girls, the sound of the happy birds, wildflowers, playdates with friends, braids, and a big one-my photography.

What are you up to this summer friends?  
Is your summer slow or fast? 
What are you reading/listening to/enjoying? 




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