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Category Archives: Growth

What I Learned This Summer

Reflecting on what one has learned over the course of a season is a great way to see the growth in your life. Sometimes the dealings with the daily, blinds us to how much we are learning as the days pass by. I’ve always loved Emily Freeman‘s encouragement to pause a moment and do just that, so, today, I’m linking up with her and others as we look over what the summer has taught us. Join along!

{I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.}


1) This summer I learned how to knit a sweater, which involved learning how to swatch and also to hold stitches in order to add on sleeves once the body was done. There was a bit of a hurdle involving ensuring my stitch size on the sleeves was consistent with the body. Switching to double pointed, I was somehow making tighter stitches and it really showed. With a bit of intentional loosening, all was well in the end. I also jumped on the cabling bandwagon and knit my brother a hat just in time for his trip to Scotland and Ireland in June. {Only there would you need a wool hat in June! ;)} Knitting had always been a cooler weather hobby for me, but I’ve really taken to it lately. It seems it may become a year-round endeavor.


2) Like most of the nation, so much about solar eclipses! We made an eclipse viewer from a cereal box and punched a tiny hole in a piece of paper to cast shadows on the ground. The crescents made by the sun were so fun to see. I didn’t find out until later that the leaves of trees could create the same effect. It was only about 80% totality here, but it was strange how cool and quiet it became at the time of totality. We might just have to make an effort to go to a place of full totality in 2024.


3) Multiple trips to the cabin have afforded us many opportunities for wildflower gathering. I learned together with my girls how to press the flowers. {Now, we must figure out how to use them — likely, we will display them in frames.} After our adventure learning to identify last year, we did a bit of that again and were pleasantly surprised to find many new ones this year. The abundance of snow and rain ensured a myriad of blooms. {A great book for flower identification in our area is The Law’s Field Guide to the Sierra Nevadas — it breaks them down by color, then by petals, making it really easy to decipher.}


4) I can do a decent job at cutting my own hair. It needed to be done and I couldn’t find time to get to a salon. So chop, chop, I went, and it doesn’t look too bad. It’s about 2 feet shorter.


5) An appreciation for poetry. I was always disinterested in it because the few I knew didn’t connect well with me. I’ve been pushing myself outside my comfort zone, and dabbling in it here and there. One poet I’ve fallen in love with this summer is Mary Oliver. Nearly every time I run across a quote of hers, it cuts me right to the heart. I’m currently enjoying her New and Selected Poems. I think, like most forms of art, different poets strike a chord with us stronger than others. I just needed to explore further to find one that resonated with me.


6) The best sunflowers are the volunteers. Despite several attempts to plant new sunflower seeds along the fence as we do every year, the blue jays had the best of me and kept snatching them up. But, never fear! My sunflowers from last year didn’t let me down, because their dropped seeds turned into the most prolific, gorgeous blooms this year. We had sunflower plants that were a good 15 feet tall!


7) How to not be afraid of honey bees. A fear of bees always had me running the opposite direction whenever I spotted one. But, then, my eldest and I went out to a lavender field to harvest large bunches of lavender. This cannot be done without a very personal encounter with bees. The man who owned the farm told those of us cutting that if you don’t bother the bees (i.e. don’t cut or touch a flower they are busy upon), they are not going to bother you. I took a deep breath and got to cutting alongside them…and was pleasantly surprised to find that he was right. {The only person who got stung that day was someone who had one fly down her shirt. I guess I can’t blame the bee for that one.}


{from Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Instagram}

8) That I’ve misidentified as an INTJ for years; I’m actually an INFP! After reading through an advance copy of Anne Bogel’s Reading People last month, I discovered a tool for determining just which one I was after tests over the past few years suddenly flipped to an INFP identification. I didn’t think it was possible to change, but it is possible to lean towards what you would like to be over which you are.  {More to come on Anne’s book soon!}


9) A LOT about Charlotte Mason’s method of education. After an initial exposure to the Charlotte Mason method {mostly through the Wild + Free community}, I gained an interest in learning more and making it a large influence in our homeschool education. I’ve read through three of the six volume set of Mason’s so far and I’m planning to finish the other three soon. One of my favorite quotes: “The duty of parents is to sustain a child’s inner life with ideas as they sustain his body with food.” {from Parents and Children}  Stay tuned: I’m hoping to share more about our homeschool plans for the coming year soon!


What did you learn this summer? Link up!

The Finding and Keeping of Habits ~ “Better Than Before” {A Book Review}


I’ve been anxious to pick up a copy of this book since it came out earlier this year. Gretchen Rubin’s books are a great read as they get you to stop and take a look at your life as a whole. They help you consider: Am I living an intentional and purposeful life? Am I striving for things that I want in life…or for what other people want for me? Am I living a life I am proud of?

Her newest — Better Than Before — is no exception. After exploring the concept of happiness and what it meant for her in her own life, she now explores the topic of how to develop habits, which can help lead to a better quality of life and help one grow into a better person.

“For a happy life, it’s important to cultivate an atmosphere of growth–the sense that we’re learning new things, getting stronger, forging new relationships, making better things, helping other people. Habits have a tremendous role to play in creating an atmosphere of growth, because they help us make consistent, reliable progress.”

Rubin’s intention in this book isn’t to instruct us on what habits to take on for ourselves, but rather to give us tools that help us determine which good habits we would like to inculcate in our lives {or which bad ones to quit} and some “Strategies” on how to get there based on our strengths and weaknesses.

Rubin claims that every person falls into one of Four Tendencies: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel. I’m still wavering between Upholder and Questioner–which makes me think I might be a Questioner, although I do tend to stick strictly to the things I’ve set out for myself to do.

After reading through the myriad of suggestions, I’ve found that her Strategy of Scheduling is one I need to incorporate more strongly into my life. I was better at this in college, but since having children, have really fallen away from the habit. It’s obviously more difficult with children, but I think having more of a schedule to our day would help me get more done, plus find more time to play with the girls {and free time with my husband}. Win-win.

“Scheduling is an invaluable tool for habit formation: it helps us eliminate decision making; it helps us make the most of our limited self-command; it helps us fight procrastination. Most important, perhaps, the Strategy of Scheduling helps us make time for the things that are most important to us. How we schedule our days is how we spend our lives.” 

I also realized from her descriptions that I do better with moderating, rather than abstaining. Having just a little of something that I’m craving and doling it out in small doses, helps me to curb that craving. Whereas, if I completely cut it out, I’m more likely to indulge in it in a big way.

“…from what I have seen, Moderators shouldn’t try to abstain; if they try to deny themselves, they can become very preoccupied with indulging.”

I like her suggestion on choosing a reward from sticking to a habit within the habit itself. For instance, some office gyms will offer the reward of a year-long free membership after sticking to a habit of going to the gym for so many days straight.

I’ve been thinking of rewarding myself with a new iPod after keeping a schedule of running three times a week for three months. {I’ll load it up with good pump up songs!}

“By finding my reward within the habit itself, with a reward that takes me deeper into the habit. If I look outside a habit for a reward, I undermine the habit.”


Ultimately, it is not the habits themselves that give meaning to our lives but the small acts committed repeatedly. As Rubin states, “[O]ften, when we consider our actions, it’s clear that any one instance of an action is almost meaningless; yet at the same time, the sum of those actions is very meaningful.” 

I strive to live a life of meaning, one which is infused with goodness, happiness, hard work, and light-heartedness. By better striving to figure out and maintain the habits that help me towards mine and my family’s goals, I can find a way for us to live ‘better than before.’

“The conduct of our lives is the true reflection of our thoughts.” -Michel de Montaigne “Of the Education of Children”

This book has inspired me to try more earnestly with some habits I’ve been trying to take on for a while. Hopefully, I can share some success soon! 🙂

I highly recommend this book to others who are interested in learning more about the habits they form and how better to do so.


I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review.

This post contains affiliate links. 

A Year Full of Light and Life

L at Jamba

Sweet girl. Today you hit your first year milestone. I can’t believe you’ve been with us that long already. It feels like forever and it feels like yesterday you arrived. We are every bit blessed to have you in our lives.

You are a firecracker. Every bit, you fit your name. Those eyes. That smile. Your exuberance for life.

Your sister adores you and has from the moment she met you. Sure, you have your moments where you get on each other’s nerves, but those moments are few and far between. You roll around on the floor together giggling. You squeal in delight at each other, upping the ante each time. You’ve recently started this game where if you have something Evey wants, you run the other way with it, your eyes flashing with mischievousness. But you always give kisses and hugs to each other before bedtime. I hope you will always take care of each other and love each other fiercely.

Your outgoing-ness pushes me outside of my comfort zone, but I don’t mind too much. With you, it is easy to meet and make friends. When we visited New York earlier this year, you wanted to befriend every person that walked by. You wave, you flash that beautiful grin, and bewitch every passerby. You just want a smile in return.

You began walking a few months ago. Now, I have to run to keep up with you. Although your balance is still a work in progress…sometimes you get going too fast down the hall and crash into the wall, at the park you are overeager to walk on uneven surfaces and eat dirt too often. You can’t keep up with your growing height — under the table is now a dangerous place to play as the edge smacks you right in the head when you stand up. But it is so fun to watch you explore the world around you as you gain your newfound skill. The backyard is your favorite place to adventure.

Your first word was ‘boat’. I pointed them out in the marina while we were down in southern California and you took great delight in the little ones floating the harbor. You also love ‘doors’ — this is anything that goes to the outside, windows included. You point excitedly and shout ‘door’ every time you see one. You were easily taught ‘uh oh’ and now drop things from your high chair just so you can practice. You become very agitated if someone doesn’t pick the object back up after you’ve announced as clearly it doesn’t belong down there. It just needed to be dropped for a minute.

The past few weeks you’ve taken to a small stuffed bunny, which we call ‘bun-bun’. She’s your lovey and you like to carry her around with you. You understand when she has to sit on the couch while you eat your meals at the table. I place her on the arm and you go grab her when you are finished with your meal. The bunny was a gift to Evey when she was sick from Nancy on the train, but she doesn’t seem to mind passing it along to you.

You have incredible rhythm and bop to every beat you hear, be it the dishwasher running or a car driving by with a bass stereo blaring. You feel it in your bones. Your favorite toys tend to be the music makers — the maracas, the xylophone, the egg shaker. I’m eager to see what instruments you pick up as you get older.

You are a daddy’s girl through and through. Always have been. You’ve been happy in his arms from day one. He’s often better able to help you get back to sleep on those restless nights than I am. His arms are your favorite resting place. He loves to play with you and make you laugh those great belly giggles, flashing your toothy grin. {Already at an even dozen!} You are his favorite fan as he walks in the door in the evening. You run as fast as your little legs will carry you straight into his arms, squealing with delight all the while.

The expressions of your face say you have a lot you’re thinking about, a lot you want to express. I can’t wait until I know better what goes on in that active brain of yours. I have a feeling there will be a lot of creativity, tantrums, and inquisitiveness in the future.

It will be bright. Just as you are, my little Lucie {light}.


Love, Mama

Lucie at 8 months ~ Evelyn at 2 years, 4 months


We’ve had a wonderfully, adventurous month with Lucie.

in a basket

She’s in that stage of exploring EVERYTHING. Nothing is safe!

rollin' rollin'

I think I missed a 7 month update, but she’s been crawling for about a month now. Faster every day. She started moving across the floor with a quick roll-over trick, rivaling that of her Uncle Ethan who did the same, moved to a modified army crawl, then up onto the hands and knees over the course of several weeks. She definitely wants to keep up with her older sister.

pulling up

Oh, and did I mention she’s pulling up on things? That didn’t take long.

Her favorite place to get up is on the edge of Evelyn’s bed. It’s the perfect height for her to stand.

gleeLucie joins a family of music-lovers. One of her favorite activities is bobbing her head along to the tune. Up and down, side-to-side…against a wall. Yeah, we’re trying to stop that one.

doorstop music

She’s a music-maker herself, having found the delightful instrument, otherwise known as the doorstop. Evelyn likes to participate in this too. I’m not sure whether I prefer this or loud banging on the same note of the xylophone repeatedly. Too soon for piano lessons?

Lucie is a bit of a thumb-chewer. Although, not to comfort herself to sleep, much to my chagrin. She also likes to pinch those cheerios and get them into our mouth. Peas too. She’s looking to be a lefty like her daddy.

toy in the mouth

We joke that she’s our puppy because she likes to lick toes and legs, chew on furniture and the carpet, grab with both her hands and legs when she’s on her back, carry around toys in her mouth, and likes a good tummy rub. That’s good because I don’t have the stamina to deal with a pet right now too. 😉

She’s inherited the tall genes in the family. Already in 12 months clothes and moving swiftly to the next. I’m never sure what size to get her for the following season!

yummy yogurt

We finally got a hang of eating solids. She was having difficulty swallowing — kept pushing food back out with her tongue. But the night she did, it was like a lightbulb moment, and she wanted to eat ALL OF THE YOGURT in the house. It has made a small change for the good in her sleeping abilities. She’s been easier to get down at night. Although, she is still waking up multiple times throughout the night, but now we’ve got more teeth coming in so that is likely the culprit.



Evelyn is both very serious and a complete jokester. She hangs onto bad things that have happened to her and revisits them frequently. We try to reassure her that she’s okay and the event is done, but she still wants to talk about it. She’s convinced that any noise outside is “people on the roof” but she’s quick to be reassured that it is just a car door slamming or someone driving by with loud music. It’s slightly funny.

On the other hand, she loves to play tricks on us when we least expect it! And laughs and laughs! She likes to pretend she’s going to hand you something and as soon as you go to grab it, she pulls it away. And if anyone is changing or lacking a piece of clothing, that bare skin deserves a tickling which she takes care of promptly with a little devilish squeal of glee.

love to laugh!She’s the sweetest girl. She’s constantly telling us that she loves us, which just about melts my mama heart. She wraps her little arms around my neck and gives me squeezes, softly saying it into my ear.

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 7.58.23 AM

Ever by her side: her good friend, Winnie the Pooh.

reading with Meg

She loves to “read” and be read to. She’ll sit for an hour or more, pouring through books.

E painting She’s also really into coloring pictures and painting. We keep her activity table covered with a piece of butcher paper that she can draw on at any time.


I love to see what combo of colors and shapes she comes up with. She’s beginning to pretend that she’s writing ABCs with little squiggles. Too cute! I love to see her creativity.


She’s a big fan of forts. Making them with Daddy is the best! She tries to make them with Lucie by throwing a blanket over their heads, which Lucie puts up with for about 3.4 seconds and then is off again.

choo choo rides

Her obsession with trains is still going strong. Her favorite mornings are ones where we take Daddy to the choo-choo. {Never mind that we have to be up by 5:45 to do so!} Real, live ones are the best! When we pick him up in the evening, she’ll talk about how the train has to put on his jammies, brush his teeth, and get into bed. Anthropomorphism in trains may have come watching a few too many episodes of Chuggington. 😉

with daddy

One of her favorite moments of the day is when Daddy comes home and she gets to sit on his tummy and “talk.” She tells him all about her day. It’s fun to see what she considers highlights of her day. It usually involves trains and treats, and the fact that “Jesus loves me”. <3


She loves to help out at the grocery, loading the cart with me and handing the checker as many items as she can out of it. She also loves to “garden”. She digs and digs, planting “corn” {sometimes with “sparkles”} while I’m outside working. She’s become rather angry with me f0r pulling out weeds at times, as she believes it is her “corn.”


She really loves to jump. That includes off of dangerous, unstable surfaces — upturned baskets, her rocking horse, piles of pillows. Her bed is probably the safest spot for her, but not so for her sister who is usually sitting or standing right at the bottom. #sisterproblems


Ballet classes are still a highlight of the week for her. She’s got most of the basic moves down pat so we might be moving onto more structured lessons soon. It’s been wonderful to see her blossom into more of a leader in the class over the past month or so. We practice all the dances frequently at home. 🙂


photo 5 (7)

I love watching these two grow together. They love each other dearly.

swinging sisters

We caught Lucie feeding Evey Cheerios at breakfast this morning, and it was just about the sweetest thing to witness.


They giggle and wrestle together all the time.

drumming together

Evelyn seems to read her sister’s cries better than I can, and Lucie cheers Evey when she’s having a rough time. I hope they stay best friends for life.

Lucie at 6 Months

going for a walk

This past month Lucie has been both the biggest delight and the meanest ogre. Smiles for day, unless one of those horrible teeth is attempting to pop through. Then, it would be screams for days…and nights.

L and mama

She’s slightly mobile having figured out her uncle, Ethan’s, trick of rolling across the floor to get to things. She’s quite the pro and can go across the living room in about 5 seconds flat! {Watch out for those computer cords!} She’s currently rolled herself over to the bookcase and is attempting to teeth on the side of it since tugging the large coffee table books off the shelf wasn’t working out too well for her.

L roll

She gets up on her hands and knees quite well but nearly always ends up on her face or scooted backwards under some piece of furniture.

under the bed

She’s nearly mastered the side sit from a crawl before the full upright sit. Maybe they’ll come together simultaneously. She is sitting pretty well with the Boppy.

Boppy sit

Her feature move is the tippy-toe plank which rivals those of the greatest gym rats.

L planks

She knows who “mamamama” and “dadadada” are and uses those words to turn on the charm at 3 o’clock in the morning when she is ready to party.

L and dada

Her favorite time is bath time where she would like me to leave her all day, despite the fact her skin may dry out and shrivel up like a prune. We’ve started to, cautiously, place the two girls in the tub together which results in double the splashes and giggles. Lucie doesn’t mind having her face completely soaked.

bathtime with E and L

She’s sprouted 4 teeth — two lower, two upper. They made her inconsolable each day/night they came through, but the raging fire of a temper died down with their emergence.

monster baby

She goes from zero to 60 at the drop of a hat, but will just as swiftly calm down. But watch out(!!) when that temper flares.

so mad

We’ve tried a few solids — bananas {not a fan}, avocado {yum!}, applesauce {mama’s gotta warm it up!} — but she’s still having trouble swallowing without choking on it.

skeptical of solids

spoon tricks

Her favorite toy is the wooden box with spiral beads. She’ll sit for a good half hour playing with it. Everything else tends to get pushed so far away that she ends up frustrated.

L and toysBut, then, there is always “the baby in the mirror.”

baby in the mirror

The only other thing that really captures her attention is a soccer ball. She likes to sit in Boppy while I toss a small, soft one into her lap. She’s not too bad at catching and tossing herself. The interest is no surprise as she has a daddy and uncles who are thoroughly obsessed. And she was born in the midst of the World Cup. It was all we watched the first ten days of her life.

L soccer game

The girls are becoming fast friends and it is so fun to watch them interact. I’m so happy they have each other.


Our late visit to the doctor yesterday revealed a healthy 17 lbs, 12 oz girl of 27.5 inches.

Stanford baby

We’re almost at the 7 month mark so I better hit publish quick!

out for a walk

Lucie at 4 Months

holding my Lucie

Hanging out at the park with Lucie’s godbrother.

And just like that, she’s another month older.

upside down

We went in for Lucie’s 4-month check-up yesterday that included those nasty immunizations. To be honest, I was more worried about Evelyn freaking out than Lucie. Evey cares deeply about her sister and gets very concerned when she is upset. The nurse and I did our best to distract Evey, telling her that Lucie was receiving medicine {which was easy to buy as the first was a liquid she had to swallow}. There was a little toddler chair in the corner, perfect for Evey to hang out, and she did well sitting there. When the pokes came, Lucie got upset, but only momentarily. She’s one tough cookie!! When she gets hurt, she typically is more angry about the situation than anything. She makes this little angry yell, letting you know she is displeased. It’s actually rather cute. 😉 The nurse quickly whipped out a sticker for Evey and she hardly noticed her sister being upset. Good deal for her: a visit to the doctor without having to be seen and getting a sticker without suffering any injury herself.

L immunizations

Lucie is now a healthy 15 lbs 6 oz. I forgot to ask what her height was, although the nurse noted that she was in the 88 percentile. She’s already moving out of the 6 month clothes with that long torso!


She’s improving her grasp each day. She especially loves her Sophie giraffe and crinkly butterfly toys. The bouncy chair with the hanging animals is also a huge hit with her. I can usually distract her long enough to cook dinner with that arrangement.

L bouncer


The girls are becoming fast friends. Evelyn loves to get Lucie to giggle at her and it isn’t hard to do. Lucie loves the attention from her older sister.

pumpkin heads

playing together

Lucie’s biggest grins she still reserves for Daddy. When she spots him after walking in from work in the evening, she always grins from ear to ear. I know it makes his day after a long workday. 🙂


{I know this is with me, but this is normally what is reserved for daddy. I just happened to capture it on film here. :)}

Currently, we are working on our roll-overs, tummy time push-ups and sitting up. {Lots to do!} She’s much more laid back about these things than Evey was. {For Evey, it was more like a race to the finish line!}

L sitting

Lucie is very affectionate. She gives hugs when you pull her up to your shoulder and loves to burying her face into your neck. And to hug her little Bunny. <3

sleepy head

I think she might be a thumb-sucker. She likes to gnaw on it when it finds its way into her mouth. She’ll often comfort herself, too, by inserting as many fingers as she can get into her mouth. {Which sometimes becomes hazardous, as she chokes herself, pushing them too far in!}

with Pooh

We’re looking forward to celebrating Lucie’s first holidays these next few months. First Christmases are especially memorable!

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