Friday, December 18, 2015

little things.

 + cardboard boxes that make excellent boats. 

+ the twinkle of Christmas lights first thing in the morning when it's still dark outside. 

+ the way Silas hugs his sister. 

+ how Delia points to a headband on her rack, and knows exactly which one she wants to wear that day. 

+ being able to fill the grocery store conveyor belt with fresh food for my family

+ crawling into a bed of freshly washed sheets

+ the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven

+ the sound of a package hitting our front porch

+ the way Chris flirts with me when we're washing dishes

+ Delia's dance moves when she hears music start to play

+being able to pull up Scripture on my phone whenever I want, without fear of persecution or ridicule.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

our boston winter 'bucket list'

As we gear up for our last winter in Boston, I'm starting to get a teensy bit panicky. There's so much to do, and so little time, as they say. We'll be heading up to Canada at the start of summer, and I don't want to spend this entire winter cooped up, pining for summer. So here's a list, just like our summer bucket list. This list will be considerably shorter than our summer one, but Boston still has so much to offer when it's cold. We've crossed a few of these items off our list already, but I'll include them anyway, in case you want to add them to your own Boston list!

Take in all the Christmas lights and decorations throughout the city- Thanks to this gloriously warm weather, we've gone into the city a few times during this Christmas season. Silas and Delia have both been in awe of the colorful lights in the Boston Common, the giant Christmas tree by Fanueil Hall, and all the festive decorations on the home and storefronts in Beacon Hill.

Go on an ice-skating date with Silas at the Frog Pond- I think this is the year he's finally ready to get out on the ice. He's exclaimed to me a few times, "I *might* fall, but I'll be okay!" 

Head up to New Hampshire to see the magical ice castles- I've been wanting to do this for a few years, and since it's less than three hours away from us, we'll probably make a whole day out of it. 

Hit up an improv show at ImprovAsylum - We now have a really awesome babysitter, so we'll be going out on the town as much possible. We'll probably grab something spicy and warm to eat on Hanover Street (the Italian district) before heading over for a show. 

Visit the Institute of Contemporary Art- I've been wanting to visit a few museums, but have been saving our visits for winter days. I'm not a huge museum girl, but Boston has so many to offer, it feels like a waste to not visit any while we live here.

Grab lunch at Boston Public Market- We love this brand new year-round indoor farmer's market, and I think we'll be heading here a lot over the winter for fresh produce, and local eats. Union Square Donuts and Bon Me are two of my favorite restaurants in Boston, and they also have booths here, so I might just camp out for the winter. 

Try out the Blue Hills ski area- It's been years since I've skied, so this terrifies me a bit. But Chris has wanted to do this each winter, and we don't live far from this ski area, so we might have to try it out this year!

Grab a cup of hot cocoa (mint nutella? ginger infused? white chocolate chai?) at one of these spots- I found this list of bakeries and coffee shops offering tasty variations on hot chocolate, and I'm ready to go do a whole tour right now. Yum. 

See the Nutcracker Ballet with Chris- We did this a few weeks ago, and I think it's a must for anyone around Christmas-time. Such a fun excuse to get dolled up, and it's almost worth it just to see the beauty of the Boston Opera House itself. 

Go to a BlueMan Group show- We just can't leave Boston without seeing a BlueMan group show. 

Bake through our Flour cookbook-- Flour Bakery is one of our favorite places to stop for breakfast before church in Cambridge. We bought the Flour cookbook recently, and are pretty excited to try our hand at making our favorite sticky buns, donuts, and pastries right here in our kitchen. I'm afraid to even glance at a scale this winter. 

That's the extent of my list so far, though I'm sure more activities will crop up that beg to be added. What would you add in that I forgot?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

minted giveaway!

My computer is full of pictures of my kiddos. Chubby cheeks, tiny toes, first little gummy smiles, messy watermelon faces. iPhone snaps, "big camera" pics, and photos taken by some incredibly talented professional friends. But they just sit there. And I forget about them, and they fill up my storage space, and collect digital dust. If digital photos took up physical space, you might call me a hoarder. Over the past few months, I've made it a point to get more pictures printed out and on our walls or into our hands. I've made a few photo books, organized my photos a little bit better, and stuck a few of my favorite Instagram snaps on our fridge.

Enter Minted. You might know Minted from their gorgeous art marketplace (where I'm honored to have one of my art prints available!), their beautiful wedding invitations, or even their stunning and unique pillow designs (I'll take one of each). They also have a great collection of customizable photo art!

When Minted contacted me and offered to send me some photo art, I jumped at the chance to hang some of our photos from our family session with my friend Ruth last September. Delia was itty-bitty, and they are some of my favorite photos we have of our family.

My first inclination was to add this piece to our gallery wall in the living room, but when it arrived, I realized it was almost a gallery on its very own. I was also super impressed with the sturdy frame, ready-to-hang-hardware, and of course, the bright and clear print quality. So, up it went in the dining room. Delia loves pointing to Daddy and Mommy and Silas in the pictures, and is a bit confused as to who that little baby is.

Minted is giving you a chance to get some of your own pictures out of computer storage and on to your walls! One winner will receive their choice of a 5x7 photo art print! We'll make it simple-- visit's photo art section (link here!), and comment below with the design you might choose for your own walls!

Giveaway will be open until Friday, December 18th, one winner will be chosen. Please make sure your email address is either in your comment or available through your Blogger account.

Friday, December 11, 2015

little things.

Silas has been praying out loud with us a lot more often lately, and after we hold hands around the dinner table, he squeezes his green eyes tight, and lists the things he's most thankful for, " Thank you God for my pillow, for our warm house when there is lightning outside, for my baby, for our family...". Hearing him list all the small things he's thankful for is such a sweet reminder to me that God loves hearing about even the tiniest parts of my day. And there's nothing too small to be thankful for.

Years ago, back when we lived in Hawaii, when I blogged regularly, and Chris was gone on deployments or other short trips fairly often, I hosted a Friday link-up I called "The Little Things Link-up".  I wrote about the things that got me through a bad day, that made me smile, that I might have taken for granted on a different day. Those were some of my favorite posts to write-- reminding me to keep a grateful heart, even for the things that seemed silly or unimportant. I think I'd like to resurrect that practice. Even if it doesn't always make it to the blog, I'm going to be chasing after a more grateful heart this winter season.

+ Amazon Prime. What a luxury to order something (anything!) that you need or want and have it show up at your order two days later (or even later that day!) 

+ Freshly brewed coffee with just the right amount of toffee almond creamer.

 + The sweet babbling songs that Delia sings to me upon request. 

+ Neighbors that work from home and are able to rescue us when we're locked out of the house in the middle of the day. 

+ The recommendation of an excellent babysitter, and the prospect of regular dates this winter. 

+ The low rumble of hot air running through our vents, warming up our home. 

+ Silas' giggles when he's really exhausted. They're hilarious, and a tell-tale sign of a tired boy. 

+ Quiet evenings with Chris after the kids have gone to bed. Spending time watching mindless tv, praying together, or scarfing down ice cream after a particularly tiring day. I'm thankful to have him as my partner in crime. 

+ Silly selfies with my kids in the reflection of shiny ornaments

+ Battery-powered candles on a timer that come on just as the sun disappears, and make our home feel a little bit cozier. 

happy weekend, friends! 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

everlane mini is here!

In case you can't tell, this boy has a personality bigger than any room he walks into.  And with his Daddy's green eyes, unruly blonde hair, and stubborn spirit (ok, maybe he gets a tiny of that from me...), he's kind of irresistible. I feel like the luckiest mama to have a mini-Chris running around, though when I hear the mischief that Chris got into when he was younger, I fear for the next few years just a bit.

Since I can't match Si with his bright green eyes, or blonde locks, I've figured out another way. If you have ever heard of Everlane, you know them for their high-quality basics, transparent pricing, and responsible manufacturing practices.  They just released their limited edition #EverlaneMini collection, and it's every bit as quality as the Everlane originals.

What I love about this collection is that even though some of the pieces are a bit pricier than you might find in your average big box store, they are built to last through several rounds of hand-me-downs, and many of the pieces work perfectly for little brothers or sisters alike. I can't wait to see Delia in this sweater in a few years, with some patterned leggings and boots!  If you're looking to create a wardrobe for your littles that is ethically made, designed to be passed on, and loved for a long time-- Everlane Mini is the perfect place to start.

This post was created in collaboration with Everlane. Silas and I were gifted the sweaters in exchange for sharing about their new collection. All opinions are my own, of course. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

seven of my favorite books to read to kids.

To me, there's nothing better in the middle of a hectic day, than when one of my kiddos comes to me with a book in hand, clambers up into my lap, and sinks in. Having their warm little cheeks close for kissing, and their undivided (usually quiet) attention is the best. 

Even better at bedtime when I know I get to tuck them in, and go downstairs for a cold beer and my favorite tv show. 

Anywaaay... today's topic is books. Kids' books. 
Photo by Justine Johnson Photography

I thought I'd share a few of our current favorite kids' books today. We have piles and piles of books in our house, but there are only a select few that I really love reading over and over. I just put a giant stack of books into a cardboard box, and it's destined for Goodwill. There are just some books that you can only read so many times before you want to chuck it across the room. 

These are books that my kids love, and that I enjoy reading to them. Maybe you want to add them to your Christmas shopping list, (I've included Amazon links for you!), or put them on your 'find at the library' list! 

(Clock-wise, from top)

1) The One Year Devotions for Preschoolers-- This sweet book has a little devotion for each day of the year, but we usually just pick and choose a page to read at random. It's a simple way to start conversations with Silas about the way we treat others, or the character of God. Each devotional also has a Bible verse reference and prayer prompt. 

2). Owl Moon-- I love the soothing tone of this book. It's perfect for right before bedtime.

3). Little Blue Truck-- A favorite since Silas was tiny, this is our second copy, since our first one was so well-loved. There are sequels, but the original is the best, in my opinion. 

4). Who Will Tuck Me In Tonight?-- I love the catchy rhythm and sweet illustrations in this book. Plus, I'm pretty awesome at doing the voices of the different animal characters. 

5). I Love You Through and Through-- Another favorite since Silas' baby days. It's falling apart, and I read it to Delia probably five times a day now. She's learned several body parts (nose, toes, hair, ears) from me reading it to her, and it's just so sweet. Put this one on your baby shower gift lists-- it's one that we really treasure. 

6). Maps-- We bought this one at Anthropologie last year (but it's actually cheaper on Amazon!). Silas loves looking through it on his own, or having us sit with him as we go through it together. The illustrations are really fun, and I've found myself flipping through the pages on my own. A great one to have on your shelf!

7). Bear Snores On-- This is my absolute favorite right now. The rhythm of this book is so fun. We've borrowed a few "Bear" books from the library and I've loved them all. 

What are the books in your house that are ragged from turning the pages thousands of times?

Photo by Justine Johnson Photography

Thursday, December 3, 2015

stepping out.

I'm gonna try this new thing.

It's called blogging.


More times than I can count lately, I open up my Instagram account and I find myself tapping away for 15 minutes, writing a lengthy caption that should really be a blog post. So, you might find my words here more often. I'm going to try to keep it casual, and quick, because that's what I love most about Instagram.

Advent season began this past weekend, and along with it, the usual inundation of holiday sales, gift guides, perfect holiday outfit ideas, and red cups, is flying in my face. Each year, I find myself getting caught up in it all, shopping until the last minute, swallowed up by the merriment and traditions, but forgetting to slow down and take time for meditation on the real reason we are celebrating. I can feel it this year-- I'm getting distracted by the tracking numbers on my packages arriving soon, and spending far too much time contemplating the various ways my Christmas decor can be more Instagrammable (let's pretend that's a word).

So this year, I'm taking time to inhale deeply, diffuse a little bit of Frankincense (I'm turning into a crazy essential oil lady now-- more about that later.), and focus on the reason we celebrate in the first place. I'm going through the online Advent devotional by She Reads Truth, and oh man, it's so, so good. 

Yesterday was day four of the plan, and we were in Genesis and Galatians, reading about Abraham and how he left his home of 70 years to follow God and venture into the unknown. God had great promises waiting for him, and all he had to do was obey. We read about how Jesus is the better Abraham, how he left his true home (heaven) for a foreign one (our world), and because of his obedience, God's promises for  all of mankind were fulfilled.

 This short sentence from Debbie Eaton (one of the She Reads Truth writers), stuck out to me. 

What I've learned over the years is that God rarely calls us to comfort and convenience but instead to a life of faith and trust.

As we are gearing up for a move up to Canada this summer, I find myself fearing the unknown--nervous about making new friends, finding a good church, yearning to stay in our beloved home, where things are familiar and comfortable. Moving is messy, and stressful and hard. Starting all over again makes me feel vulnerable, uncertain, and anxious. But yesterday's devotional was such a good reminder that God does great and powerful things when we step outside of what's comfortable and known. Another line from yesterday's devotional (you really should go read it for yourself-- you find it for free here!) that caught me in the gut is this: 

"Like Abraham, we are invited to have faith not only in what we cannot see, but also in what has already been secured for us by our good and sovereign Father."
In this strange military world of moving every few years, uprooting our families and traveling to new and often strangely unfamiliar places, I'm so thankful for a God who is steadfast in his faithfulness and provision for us. I'm thankful that I can rest in the fact that He will do good things in me and through me and for me, no matter where I am, and I'm thankful that I have countless examples in the Bible of people who moved their families to strange lands in obedience, only to see more clearly how God cares for them and provides for them.