in the woods

Autumn Splendor: The Gift of No

November 29, 2016

livelovesimple.com // autumn walk

livelovesimple.com // autumn walk

The autumn that is ending has been one of my favorites to date. It’s always been my favorite season, full of magic and warmth, but this one was more illuminating & empowering than any that have come before it.

This past summer was a tumultuous one for me. Through all of that, I prayed hard for a sign from God. Then one day, I looked behind me and I saw this. There it was, loud and clear, exactly what I needed: Slow down. As summer came to a close, the tumult began to fade and peace set in. I had my sign.

And so,

slow down,

I did.

I took the autumn “off” in a lot of ways. I rested. I reflected. I prayed. I walked slowly through nature. I took photographs. I laughed. I cried. I listened. I shared.

In the silence of what came next, in the reflecting, I found wisdom.

I realized that there are two types of people in the world: people who are afraid to say no and people who are not afraid to say no.

I spent my entire life being the former, always afraid to say no; afraid to disappoint; afraid to upset — even when it came at my own expense. And then, one day, I said enough. What a thing it is to feel empowered to say no, any time, any place, to any one. It is a gift, a gift to myself and now I will walk happily through the rest of my life carrying no in my hands, never afraid to use it whenever I need it.

And most importantly, now, when I say no, I never, ever feel guilty. For my no is my gift to myself and I trust myself to know well-enough when it is the right time to say it.

livelovesimple.com // autumn walk

livelovesimple.com // autumn walk

livelovesimple.com // autumn walk

livelovesimple.com // autumn walk

livelovesimple.com // autumn walk

livelovesimple.com // autumn walk

livelovesimple.com // autumn walk

livelovesimple.com // autumn walk

livelovesimple.com // autumn walk

livelovesimple.com // autumn walk

livelovesimple.com // autumn walk

livelovesimple.com // autumn walk

livelovesimple.com // autumn walk

livelovesimple.com // autumn walk

livelovesimple.com // autumn walk

livelovesimple.com // autumn walk

livelovesimple.com // autumn walk

livelovesimple.com // autumn walk

I hope that you are well, friends. Here in northern New Jersey, autumn is quickly turning into winter. The bright, warm colors in these photographs are quickly fading, even in my memory. Winter has never been an easy thing for me, as you well know if you’ve been reading here awhile. Yet, this week all of the autumn decorations have been coming down and in their place Christmas has been popping up and bringing fresh hope with it.

Last night, the children and I were driving home. The sun had set and Christmas lights were glowing brightly in the front yards that we passed. Candles were burning warmly in the windows. I felt a surge of warmth in my heart, a deep, profound gladness for all of the people sitting safely & happily inside of their homes. Most of all, I felt an overwhelming gratitude for my own multitude of blessings. Perhaps this winter will not be as cold as the ones that came before it. Perhaps magic will live on and shine bright. Perhaps peace & love will reign supreme. ♥

In the Woods // thoughts on childhood

September 7, 2016

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

“Fill your children with good thoughts before they go to bed. Ask them about their favorite part of the day, praise them for a good deed, pray with them, and tell them they’re the best gift God ever gave you. They’ll fall asleep feeling ten feet tall.” –David Young, from “A Little Guide to a Big Life”

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

“Be gentle with your children. They’re doing the best that they can.”

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

“If we want our children to stay hungry for knowledge, remain interested in questioning, enjoy the wonder of discovery, then we must leave them some clutter-free hours for friendship, the great out-of-doors, the rich world of imagination and the satisfaction of the skilled use of art supplies, music, dance, wood and clay.” –Elaine Cooper

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” –Peggy O’Mara

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

magic in the woods // livelovesimple.com

Roman’s sweet hat is c/o Blue Corduroy.

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Family Camping // Labor Day Weekend 2015

September 9, 2015

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We spent Labor Day weekend camping with my sister and her family. This is our second year camping at this campground. (You can see last year’s trip here and my tips for camping with toddlers here.) Last year’s trip was amazing — one of our best family getaways to date. This year’s trip was equally amazing, at times. It was also fraught with a lot of stress and some heartache.

Camping with one toddler is a lot different than camping with one toddler and one high-needs baby. We spent three nights there, and I actually ended up taking Marina home for nights two and three. Two hours of sleep just wasn’t going to cut it for this mama with our busy camp life schedule. Gratefully, the campground is just about a 15-minute drive from our house, so ducking out at dusk and returning just after sunrise was no trouble. It allowed me to come home and sleep with my girl without missing out on too much camping fun.

I only took a fraction of the photographs that I would have liked to because most of my time was spent with my girl in my arms or pushing the stroller around the lake. Still, there’s something indescribably magical & wonderful about camping and we all had an amazing time. Campfires, s’mores, camp food — burgers, dogs, pasta salads, miniature golf, boating, fishing, swimming in the lake. All of my favorite things. We made some beautiful memories.

I mentioned it in last year’s post, but the camp that we go to is the Girl Scout camp that my sister and I attended during our childhoods. Returning there with my own babies fills my heart with so much joy. It also reminds me of how excited I am to be Marina’s troop leader one day!

I’m pretty sure that Roman had the best time of his little life playing & exploring all day with his cousins. Seeing the excitement in his eyes during all of their little adventures was just everything to me. Matthew & I stopped, almost hourly, to pause and give thanks for this blessed life that we live.

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family camping // livelovesimple.com
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family camping // livelovesimple.com

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This trip filled & stretched my heart. I learned a lot, but my greatest lessons were about letting go.

Firstly, about letting go of expectations. Having a high-needs baby means that no matter how hard you try or how well you plan, certain things will not go the way that you were hoping — and that’s okay.

Secondly, I had to let go of control in a way that I was completely unprepared for when I made the decision to leave Roman & M. overnight. That was beyond terrifying & heartbreaking for me. I cried, resisted, and basically had a tantrum. But ultimately, I let go and put my faith in Matthew, my sister, and God to take care of my baby boy while I was away. It was hard, but it was good and I am so grateful that I found the strength to let go. Returning in the morning and hearing his stories about the campfire & sleeping in the tent with his Papa made it all worthwhile. ♥

a picnic by the lake & a preschool decision

August 17, 2015

picnic by the lake // livelovesimple.com

picnic by the lake // livelovesimple.com

Over the weekend, we went to a picnic hosted at a local summer camp. Outings are tricky these days, what with a toddler & tantrums & an ever-unsettled little baby girl. Still, we soaked up the day, enjoying the little bits of summer that are left. Sunshine skies, burgers & dogs, beer, corn-on-the-cob, family. I’ll take it.

picnic by the lake // livelovesimple.com

picnic by the lake // livelovesimple.com

picnic by the lake // livelovesimple.com

picnic by the lake // livelovesimple.com

On a separate-but-related note, the picnic was hosted by a local men’s group that my father belongs to. There were many other families there, some with babies & toddlers, too. Roman had a rather unpleasant incident that involved him taking another little boy’s toy & then having an epic meltdown upon having to return it. Actually, he didn’t return it. We took it away from him & let’s just say it did not go over well!

Anyway, all of this sort of cemented something for us that we’ve been thinking a lot about — we want to enroll Roman in preschool, two days a week for a few hours each day. It was a difficult decision to arrive at. Ya’ll know how much I love homeschooling him. On top of that, I’m pretty much the biggest control freak ever and the thought of completely relinquishing control and handing him over to someone else is terrifying to me. I’ve never left him with anyone beside my mom, mom-in-law, and my very trusted aunt — and even then it’s only been a handful of times and mostly because it was absolutely necessary.

Still, with all of that being said, it’s clear to us that while Roman is doing exceptionally well “academically” (does that even make sense for a two-year-old?), he’s a little behind socially. He loves other kids but he’s terrible at sharing and frankly he’s so independent that in social settings he kind of takes toys to the side and does his own thing. It may be that he just prefers solitude — both M. and I are incredibly solitary people — and that’s totally fine, but the not sharing thing has got to change. Moreover, we want to give him the opportunity to be social.

We’ve been spacing out Roman’s vaccines so he’s a little behind on the state requirements. We’ll have to get him caught up which should happen by early autumn, so it will likely be another month or so before he gets started. In the meantime, we’re setting up tours, we’re talking about school & building excitement around the idea for him. Even if, in my own heart, I’m sick with worry and uncertainty.

Enrolling him in preschool doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop homeschooling him or that we’ve decided against homeschooling him come time for kindergarten. We haven’t made that decision yet. It’s just something that we feel is important for where he’s at right now, developmentally. With me being a stay-at-home mom and with the limited amount of exposure that Roman has had to other children (most definitely due to my own solitary nature) we feel like this is the right step for him & for our family at this point. It’s nerve-wracking but it’s also exciting and I can’t wait to see my baby boy blossom even more.

picnic by the lake // livelovesimple.com

Here’s hoping that you had a beautiful weekend & that a great week is on the horizon. xo

in the garden // late july

July 27, 2015

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

Late July brings bounty & beauty to our garden. These are my favorite photographs from the garden yet. I could just sit and stare at them all day. They capture the plant life out there so beautifully. What I didn’t capture is the animal life! It’s constantly buzzing back there. Bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other birds (eating insects) are a constant presence. We deliberately cultivated the garden to be fauna-friendly, including plants that are especially attractive to our beautiful pollinators. Hooray for bees & butterflies!

When we returned from vacation over the weekend, there was so much deliciousness to be harvested. We are thrilled that our hopes for a bountiful season have panned out. It’s truly wonderful to eat these fresh, organic vegetables that we grew ourselves from seed!

At the moment, the flowers that are in bloom are zinnias, bee balm, black-eyed Susans, lavender, anise, hostas, and yarrow. We have some flowers that we hope will bloom soon, including one giant one that is seven-feet-tall!

The vegetables that we are currently harvesting are cherry tomatoes (red & gold), salad tomatoes, yellow zucchini, cucumbers, eggplant, bell peppers, cayenne peppers, and red cabbage. We’re bringing in lots of thyme & basil for cooking and there’s spearmint for garnishing drinks. We just harvested all of our carrots. Our sugar snap peas are finished for the season. We’ve got two big bags of them in the freezer. We have a crop of fall vegetables coming in strong, too; including pumpkins, broccoli, onions, beets, kale, Brussels sprouts, and winter squash. We’ll be seeding spinach shortly, as well.

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

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in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

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in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

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in the garden // livelovesimple.com

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in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

We are very pleased with our garden. It’s been an incredible journey from seed to harvest. It means a lot to us that Roman has had a big role in the process. He helps with all of the watering and harvesting. We love being able to expose him to the labor & miracle of growing food.

Here are the previous phases of our garden this year:

I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has in store for us. Also, you have no idea how excited we are that we are going to have our own little pumpkin patch this autumn. It’s a dream come true for this Halloween-obsessed lady right here! xo

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