The Emerald Girl

The Emerald Girl

casual. classic. curious.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

About the head and the heart

(I always try to never use all or nothing statements so here we go. Why do I feel the need to always use a disclaimer?)

You know the question: do you usually follow your heart or follow your head. Your heart usually representing your feelings and your head representing logic. Heart is most often implying love but in the case of this blog it encompasses all feelings. When I answer this question, I'm quick to respond head. Really, when I think about all the tiny decisions I make throughout the day, not just decisions to act but decisions to react, decisions to have a certain attitude, decisions to not decide - a lot them are ruled by feelings. Do I feel like it? Do I feel good? Do I feel annoyed? The thing that I'm becoming more aware of lately is that if I'm always waiting to feel good or right whether it be mentally, physically or emotionally then I'm going to be in the wrong a lot. Let's face it, as I'm getting older and working on improving my health I'm usually not feeling great in one or more of those categories (physical, mental, emotional).

Maybe you can relate: when I'm not feeling great then I don't necessarily want to do anything. I don't want to fold the laundry, I don't want to pick-up the house, I don't want to spend time with my kids, I don't want to work, I don't want to be friendly and the list goes on.

It's easier said than done but we shouldn't be basing much on how we feel. Feelings are fickle. They change with the wind. Feelings can lead us away from truth and reality. I force myself to take care of household responsibilities even when I don't feel like it. I'm learning to say 'sorry' even when I don't feel sorry. As I learned in the movie The Irishman, saying sorry from the will is good even if you don't feel sorry. I think it's a practice to put your body into the right motion and sometimes the heart will follow and sometimes it won't but either way you do the right thing. If you mess up and wish you would have acted differently when you weren't feeling good (physically, mentally or emotionally), don't fret, you will surely have another opportunity very soon.

I often think of my body as a vessel for God to use which helps me to push myself in situations where I don't feel like it. Again, I could come back to the household chores example but, also, socially. Do I feel comfortable offering that man I just saw digging in the garbage my leftover food? Nope, definitely not, I don't enjoy walking up to perfect strangers and speaking but sometimes I will and I most definitely rely on a strength greater than myself. Do I enjoy helping friends/family when it's in imposition? It's not something I jump at (don't hate me, guys!) but I'm learning to relish the opportunity to serve others. We don't always get chances to help people in everyday life and I'm glad to be in a place right now where I can say yes more easily. Do I want to say sorry to someone when I feel totally justified in my words and actions? That's a big N-O. Just ask my husband (sorry, babe). Once more, putting your feet in the right direction can bring your feelings into alignment, at least in my experience (immediate or delayed).

Edited to add: This morning I realized that this post could be totally misconstrued so I need to say a few more things. I am mostly referencing bad attitude feelings, laziness, less than desirable physical state (not out right sick), etc. 100% we also need to honor and respect our feelings in many, many situations.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Leaf peeping on the Skagit River

Skagit rvier drone photography
Skagit rvier drone photography
Skagit rvier drone photography
Skagit rvier drone photography
Skagit rvier drone photography
Skagit rvier drone photography

A few weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of driving along the Cascade Loop up to Diablo Lake. The purpose of the drive was to peep some leaves and the trip did not disappoint. It was breathtaking. Being surrounded by that much nature has the most relaxing effect. On the way down the mountain from Diablo Lake we stopped along the Skagit River to play around with the drone and take some shots of the beautiful river. The water in the North Cascades is such a beautiful color compared to the brown, murky colored water in the Seattle area.

A day trip was just what we needed. A total reset after the start of the school year. A day trip is just like a mini vacation. Your mind takes a break and goes somewhere new and exciting and it was a great experience for the four of us. The kids were absolutely perfect and here's my tips for how to make road trips fun: keep excitedly talking about what we're seeing out the windows, bring skittles, bring peanut M&Ms, car toys like Guess Who, crayons and paper, plenty of snacks and make stops along the way to get out and move around.

We recently took another day trip around Mt. Rainer and had great success bringing the kids along again. I'll be sharing more photos from that drive soon!

Monday, October 28, 2019

About the best pumpkin patch

Acorn Pumpkins at Gordon Skagit Farms
Pumpkin picking at Gordon Skagit Farms
Pumpkin Patch display in Mt. Vernon
Pumpkin Patch display in Mt. Vernon
Pumpkin Patch display in Mt. Vernon
Fall dahlias
Pumpkin Farm
Growing up my family always purchased pumpkins from the big containers at the grocery stores. There's nothing wrong with that, in fact, I'd say we were all quite happy and didn't think a thing about it. However, my husband spent most of his adolescence in the farm town of Snohomish about 30 miles north of Seattle so his experience involved pumpkins straight from the patch and he shared this tradition with me which I now insist on every year. The patch is where it's at!

Every year, I take pictures of the kids dawned in adorable fall outfits exploring the pumpkin patch and they are some of my favorites. What I loved especially loved about Gordon Skagit Farms is the variety of types and sizes. I had never seen some of these types of pumpkins before in my life! The farm's pumpkin displays were truly one of a kind and really added to the experience. We had to drive quite a bit further north than we normally do but it was well worth it! It's about 60 miles north of the city.

I'm not sure if this is true, I could Bing it, but I'll save that for another day (and perhaps post) but I think seeing things that are pleasant to the eye really add to one's overall experience and leaves that person feeling better just by being prettier.

We extended this trip with some fall leaf peeping along the Cascade Loop. This was an amazing day trip that I will share photos from soon!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

How to Organize Your Kid's Art

File Folder to organize kids art
An alternate title for this post is: How to throw away your kid's art. If you have children then this post is for you because no doubt, if they're school aged, they bring home so much paper that you no longer wonder about who fills the world's recycling plants. Since my first child started school, he's come home with so much paper - art and schoolwork as well. It can feel extremely tempting to keep everything; after all, it's all just so adorable and you can't believe how much your tiny human is learning and growing and expressing himself. However, these moments are best soaked up and remembered in the present. I definitely encourage you to keep a few things throughout the year. At most I've maybe kept 10 items per kid per year. No one will care more about your kid's paperwork than you do in that exact moment that you see it for the very first time. I imagine, I'll look at their paperwork a dozen more times throughout my life and I'll think back fondly. Saving all the schoolwork won't stop the clock from moving forward and won't keep your precious little people little forever. The only thing it will do is take up space in your house and mind. So recycle away, my friends! Look at it, savor it and toss it.

Part of getting organized and staying organized means clearing the clutter so once that step is out of the way, you can begin to get the paperwork in order. I highly recommend a filing folder container where you can hang file folders. As you can see from the photo above, I've labeled each hanging folder with the kid's name and grade (I plan on each child having their own container but for now it's all in one). I then collected the small amount of papers I had saved in various places throughout my home and placed them neatly (had to fold some of them to fit) into this container. It gives me peace of mind knowing the things I want to keep are safe and easy to locate. It's also easier for me to enjoy looking through the container because I know where everything is and I know how old my kid was when he made whatever it is I want to look at. I have a shared folder for little things I've saved that they drew or "made" before they were school aged. There's not much in that category because a lot of toddler "art" from preschool is mostly made by an adult and the kid just adds a couple little things so I don't feel like I need to save that (cute as it may be).

Sunday, October 20, 2019

About Halloween books for kids

I'm a sucker for books and especially holiday children's books. In our house we have a basket in the main room which has a rotating selection of books depending on the holiday or season. At the end of each holiday, I actually pack the books away so that they stay nice and are exciting when they come back out again the next year. Every year it's fun to add a couple new books to the mix. Since my kids are still what I would consider little, I haven't wanted to add any books that could potentially cause bad dreams so we've stuck to the sweet side of this season and strayed away from anything having to do with ghosts or super creepy characters. Celebrating each holiday with kids is made all the more special when you have traditions that can be excitedly anticipated and relied on. One day I hope to be able to read these books to my grandkids!

Are there any really good Halloween or Fall books that I'm missing? Let me know if you have any good recommendations!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

About savoring time with my kids

This is the last school year with my little girl at home. Next year, she'll be off to kindergarten and our life will look completely different. Next year will bring a lot of big changes. Most of which, I feel like I'm waiting for. I see them on the horizon; I want to prepare for them as much as possible; Because I know they're coming, I kind of just want to get there. So how do I thrive in this period that feels like just a lot of waiting? Waiting for things to change, waiting for things to begin.

It's so funny how much I want to just get there, to the change, while simultaneously wanting to savor this last year with my baby girl at home. Just me and her. It's even funnier how much I've wished to be through these hard years with babies, just surviving, but now that they're almost all gone I'm missing them and have begun to deeply understand how fleeting childhood is.

All I want to do is gobble up these years where the kids love all the cute, fun little kid things. The sweet holiday decorations, the days of making simple art, the darling clothes, the days when I can still pick out what they wear, the constant demand for cuddles at the end of the day, the hundreds of times they get out of bed to tell me something or give me a hug, just their sweet, sweet nature.

It seems like I could forego the good changes the future holds just to stay in these little years forever. Such is everything in my life. I get so focused on the end result that I forget to savor the moments in between. A trait I've loathed about myself for at least the past decade. Though I've been learning to savor small things: like family vacations to Palm Springs and warm summer days. Perhaps through learning to savor the small things, I can savor this seemingly long school year knowing I'll never have another year like this because we can't turn back time.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Fall Chex Mix

Fall Chex Mix Recipe
Chocolate Chex Cereal
Reese's Puffs
Pretzel Sticks
Brach's Autumn Mix
Nestle Chocolate Chips
Nestle Butterscotch Chips
Yogurt Covered Pretzels

Pour all ingredients into bowl, mix and voila! You can really add or subtract whatever ingredients you desire but I suggest a good mix of sweet, salty and chocolate. I was quite surprised at how addictive this mix was. Snackers beware of this highly addictive chex mix. We enjoyed this over the weekend and then I sent the rest with Matt to share with his work. After all, my mom always said, "share the fat"!

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Am I doing my best?

Thomas Family Farm Sunflower Festival
Denim on denim in the sunflower field

Thomas Family Farm Sunflower Festival
Denim style in sunflower field | The Emerald Girl
Thomas Family Farm - Sunflower Field - The Emerald Girl Blog
Is my best really the best? Can I honestly consider "my best" the best if I'm not always continuing to learn how to do better?

Maya Angelou once said, "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better". I'd like to take that one step further to say that you should always be seeking to know better. We humans don't come equipped with all the knowledge we need - unfortunately. ;)

When a friend in my mom group said she was reading a book about whether or not people in general are doing the best they possibly can do, right off the bat, I thought yes. At least, I thought I was. Not necessarily everyone else. I'm a pusher, a dreamer, a goal maker, someone with aspirations. Of course, I'm trying my absolute best most of the time. However, as this idea has simmered in my mind over the last year, I've realized another key to doing one's best is prioritizing the things that really require your absolute best because we really cannot do it all well. Being intentional takes much energy so I am learning that I need to prioritize what I really, really want to spend my energy on if I want to do my best.

If I could pick one priority it would be my family. Included with family is raising kids among other things but for the sake of keeping this post short, I'll stick to one example. Earlier this year Matt and I attended a Biblical Parenting Principles and Practical Help class and it was then that I realized that if I wanted to raise God loving humans who are well prepared in all situations it was going to require so much more than I was doing. While I often sit and simmer in frustration wondering what my purpose in life is, I can be sure raising my kids is part of it and stepping up to do that well is my calling (at least one of my callings).

What does parenting well look like? Wouldn't we all like to know?!
While I cannot answer this question, I can share some things I know I need to focus on to do my best and to keep doing better.

  1. Take care of my body through proper nutrition, exercise and sleep. These are not my strong points and yet weigh heavily on my ability to do anything at my best, especially parenting.
  2. Learn more, be more informed. For example, I've recently started reading the book, "Tending the Heart of Virtue - How Classic Stories Awaken a Child's Moral Imagination. This is opening my eyes to the lofty task of parents "to be mentors to our children in the moral life". (Guroian 4) Along with that it has made me realize that I need to keep pursuing how to cultivate my kids hearts at home because I don't know all the many things that could enrich this experience for us all.
  3. Spend quality time with my kids. This seems rather obvious but for any parents reading this, then you know, there's a hundred other things that I could be doing that seem more important than sitting down and playing with my kids - a hundred - but if sitting on the couch and reading one book makes my kids feel loved and feel valuable as well as teach them to be generous with their time in relationships, then the laundry can wait. (Granted, I don't think the laundry should wait all week, there is value in teaching kids to be good stewards of our home, but balance).
A person can really only do one thing well at a time so while I'd also love to dive deeper into creating a non-toxic home environment, write more and grow my blog, take photos for a magazine shoot, etc., I'm working on family first and that's the best I can do (for now).

***All photos taken at the Thomas Family Farm 1st Annual Sunflower Festival. Denim inspired outfit: top (j.crew), jeans (madewell), boots (hunter), bracelet (kiel james Patrick).

Thursday, September 19, 2019

On blogging more

They say that to have a successful blog, one needs to be quite targeted and niched down. I can see how that's true. After all, I don't stick around other people's accounts unless it's clear what I'm getting from that person. I can't be targeted. My brain is not targeted and my blog writing has always been and will always be an outpouring of the hundreds of things floating around in my head all day. I can't promise that you'll always get life tips or humorous personal anecdotes or pretty pictures. According to experts, the only people who will be interested in my type of blog, are people who already know and like me. My own mother doesn't read what I write though so I don't know what that says.

Being as it's my birthday month, I was going to write about what great gifts to the world all of us virgos are, thinking we're a rare treat but, I just looked it up, the reality is that it seems virgo may be one of the most common zodiac types. If that's true, I have many questions on why the world isn't operating in tip-top condition. We are ordered, detailed, methodical, logical, easy going... the list of wonderful attributes goes on. It all comes down to, well, just about every other thing that makes us who we are. I guess what's logical to me may not be what is most logical to someone else however, as  a true virgo, I would question whether or not that person really is logical. :oP

All of this to say, I plan on writing more. Developing my writing voice and technique more. I want to share a lot more organizational tips and tricks. I've always related to Marie Kondo. I was that weird child who would stay up late cleaning and organizing my things because it gave and continues to give me immense satisfaction to create structure and order. Maybe that's just a shy, introverted, virgo thing? I'll also continue to create pretty photos, most of which involve flowers. Lastly, I'll try to break through the fear of sharing. It would be nice, if something I write about makes any of you readers think about something, leave a comment, start a conversation.

Monday, September 9, 2019

About having hard conversations

You know all those things that feel confrontational so you just never address them? Ya, those things. If being an adult means you can handle what feels like hard convos, then I seriously suck. (For another post but this is why I don't feel like an adult, I thought adults had stuff figured out and under control - hint: just an illusion). However, I recently did have a hard conversation and I'll fill you in on the secret to what finally gave me the courage to speak up.

A person, who shall remain anonymous, was unknowingly driving me absolutely insane. I want to emphasize the word "unknowingly". The better side of me knew that this person did not know how they were effecting me although after days that turned into weeks of them continuing in the unbearable behavior, I had fabricated an entire story in my head about how and why this person was trying to ruin my life. I couldn't take it. I wanted to run away.

I either had to run away and never return or I had to face it head on. Instead of letting the false story of how this person wanted to drive me crazy so that I would leave continue on any more, I told myself a new story. A story that sounded more rationale and level headed. The story of me leaving. If I left, that person who was unknowingly driving me insane would ask me one question. That question was: why didn't you just tell me so I could stop? That's when I knew, I had to confront this person. Confront is really too harsh of a word. I mean people annoy other people all the time or do things without thinking all the time and with no ill intentions and we, the human race, should be able to talk to each other about things. Is there a lesser word for confront?

So I did. I was nervous. My eyes looked down. But I did it! The person I was speaking with was so receptive to what I was saying and had no clue and was glad that I told them.

The lesson is to give people the benefit of the doubt. First imagine they are just as reasonable as you and how you would respond if you were them. That can give you the courage you need to proceed because we shouldn't be running away from our problems. We're supposed to learn how to deal with one another with love and grace. Now I have a tiny bit more confidence in myself and can lean back on this experience in the future when I need to.

***Curious minds: this is not about any of my friends or family members***