Family Time

Last week, I was invited out with girlfriends and I desperately wanted to go. It would be space for me to connect with friends, space for me to have fun, space for me away from my home office.

However, the same day I was invited out was the first day my husband didn’t have to work late AND we didn’t have a baseball commitment. We had the opportunity to have family dinner together. Slowly. Together.

I opted not to visit with friends and chose instead to visit with my family. Dinner was slow, almost too slow. We had good conversation however I was frustrated at how unfocused my kids were on finishing their dinner. The promise of dessert after was not enough to give them focus to finish. Finally, painstakingly, everyone was finished with dinner, dishes were cleared, leftovers were put away.

I made the announcement: “we are going on a family walk.” {It was already decided, by me. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.} The girls were thrilled, my youngest {have I told you she’s the household cheerleader?} shrieked with glee and shouted “yeahhhh!” They still didn’t hustle to get out the door, however at least they were excited about the prospect of a family walk. My son on the other hand, was less than thrilled. He had a negative attitude and complained about having to do what everyone else tells him to do. I shook off the negativity and said, “oh well. We are all going.”

The walk started off slowly, finding helmets, scooters, bikes, ambling around; meanwhile I grow more and more impatient as I imagine the daylight slowly slipping away and our walk won’t happen.

Eventually, we made our way down the street. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was happy. The older two were racing their scooters, my husband and I walked slowly behind them pushing the stroller. We chatted about our days, we yelled to the kids to stop at the end of the street {safety first & yelling was most necessary because they were so far ahead}.

Our goal was the airport near our home. Our kids love watching for airplanes {especially my littlest}. We made it to the airport and watching planes take off and land. Our scootering kids raced in the large parking lot and the youngest asked to “get out”. She wanted to walk around herself.

We meandered around the airport looking at small planes, large jets, old planes, and news helicopters. The kids eyes grew large as they found bigger & better or older & cooler airplanes. Our youngest shrieked with joy “airplane! airplane!” She was so thrilled.

It was a delightful end to a full day. It was worth saying not tonight to a night out with friends to spend quality time with my family. That’s not always the case, however it was this time.

Down Time with my Littlest

Yesterday was about Memorial Day Monday. Well, after we got home, my husband had to get to work for an evening shift and the kids scattered to play with the neighborhood kids. Meanwhile, I changed into gardening clothes, boots & gloves to work on my garden. I started a big project two days earlier {Saturday} and wanted to wrap it up.

My littlest came back to join me. She was my shadow while I shoveled mulch, she was my tail while I watered the plants, she was my sidekick as I shoveled compost and dug fresh holes for new plants. She helped me fill the plastic bucket with the mud/clay that graces much of our yard. {To ensure a plant will survive, we have to dig a deep hole, dump the clay/mud elsewhere and use fresh dirt/compost to fill the hole, THEN we can plant something and pray it thrives.}

As I carried on with my tasks, it was so sweet to have my littlest’s company. Occasionally she would clap her hands and say “dood job! dood job!” encouragingly. She is such a positive spirit and one who loves to encourage. She is such a joy to have around, and often we don’t have one on one time with each other. She is often in the shadow of her older siblings. She patiently comes to their various activities, waiting her turn without complaint, often she has a smile on her face and shrieks “yeah! yeah” when asked to join.

As our older kids were playing with the neighborhood kids, the littlest and I had time one on one while she helped me in the garden. My tendency is to have a “to do” list and push to finish it all or push myself until I crash, whichever comes first. Monday afternoon/evening was definitely a “to do list crossing off” kind of day, however midway through my tasks, I realized how lucky I was to have company while I worked. I was struck with the realization that in a few years, she will also be off with the neighborhood kids and I may be tending the garden or working through some other aspect of my “to do list” alone.  In that moment, I paused, I wished I had my phone nearby to capture the moment, however at the same time, I knew it wouldn’t capture the moment the way my mind captured it. And so I write it down, in hopes I remember that Memorial Day I had an encouraging and sweet little sidekick to keep me company as I worked through my “to do” list.

Life is full of things “to do”, and I’ll be the first to admit I get caught up more often than not in the “to do” rather than the “savor the moment”. This pause was a reminder to myself to savor the moment, even if for a moment.

This week, think about the moments you savor. Think about the blessings in your life. And, if you find yourself in a “to do list” moment AND catch a glimpse of a “savor the moment”. Take a second, minute, or more to be thankful for the “savor the moment” you caught. It’s ok to go back to your “to do list”, in fact, that’s probably what I would do. But take time to be grateful & thankful you caught the moment for what it was.

Later that evening, as I snuggled my littlest and got her ready for bed. I whispered into her ear, “thank you for your help. You are a such a hard worker and it was so wonderful to have you helping me today.” She giggled and smiled and carried on as her normal toddler self, while I continued my normal self of hurrying to get the kids ready for bed.

Memorial Day Monday

Memorial Day Monday. The previous Friday, our son came home from school excited about Memorial Day and excited about honoring those who sacrificed for our freedom. {Thanks to his wonderfully patriotic teacher, we are truly going to miss her next year, she has been such a great teacher for him and it’s been such a joy to watch him thrive & flourish this year, while learning all things patriotic}.

Fast forward to #MemorialDay, our kids were excited about going to our town’s Memorial Day Parade {while I’m being transparent, if our son hadn’t come home excited about Memorial Day, we probably wouldn’t have thought to attend, so for all you teachers out there, you make more of a difference than you may know or realize}. Our son’s enthusiasm rubbed off onto the younger two; everyone was bouncing around the house. Meanwhile, I wavered between being completely annoyed & irritated with the chaos and indifference, trying to ignore what was going on & focus on the fun we would have as a family later in the day.

We {barely} made it out of the house & watched the parade. Our kids waved an American flag they made at home. They listened intently as the speaker recognized & thanked current veterans and honored those who served & sacrificed by giving their lives for their country. After the first speaker, the entire group continued on about 7/10 of a mile to our town’s cemetery where another speaker shared more about Memorial Day. It was our first time attending our town’s Memorial Day festivities and we were pleasantly surprised. The kids paid attention and enjoyed the symbolic shooting of the rifles {shooting blanks, there was a mad rush by all the children after for the shells from the blanks}.

We feel privileged to live in the United States and thankful for our many freedoms. Often, there is more negativity and complaint on what our country lacksrather than focusing on the good and positive of the United States {I’m not saying the US is a perfect country} . Monday was a powerful reminder of what we have gone through as a country {Independence War, War of 1812, American Civil War, World War I, World War II,  Cold War, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, and currently the War on Terrorism} and what others have lost {lives, husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, friends, wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, grandparents, etc}. The US is not perfect, however we fought, we learned, we survived, we still have more to learn, all the while we continue to honor those who gave their lives for the safety of our Nation every Memorial Day.

After the ceremonies, we took to a local playground, had a picnic lunch and ran around on the playground. The kids had a blast enjoying being together, outside, as family with their silly dad chasing after them.  Until, one of the kids had to use the bathroom “real bad” and since there was no good place to use the bathroom at this playground {why can’t all playgrounds be equipped with a bathroom or port-a-potty?} we asked our child to “please hold it”, jumped into the car and headed home.

Picnic lunch
Giggles

The 1-Step Fix for a Cleaner House OR Kids Belong Outside

 Guest Post by Kristine Western

Today, we have a guest post from my good friend Kristine. She is a wife, mom, works full-time & loves to get outside for long runs. Over here at LagomToday, our goal is to inspire & encourage others to get outside. It’s fun to read another person’s perspective. Hope you enjoy Kristine’s voice as much I do.

Sister play

Kids Belong Outside

About three years into this crazy parenting journey, I’ve come to an important realization: kids don’t really belong indoors. Not for extended periods.
Not when they can see the sunshine from the windows.
Not when they can hear other kids outside.
And especially not when you want to maintain any sort of order in your home.
Vitamin D in the baby seat 😉
Whenever they are inside, my kids are constantly trying to unhinge the structure. My toddler is climbing behind couch cushions, throwing food ever-so-casually, touching everything once, and then again with more force. What happens if I drop this? How about if I throw this? My little baby is watching closely, taking notes. And seeing as how my baby is literally days from crawling, I fear she has a lot of excellent ideas, ready to follow her sister.
Kids live as if they are outdoors all the time. The only thing stopping them is us, their caretakers, and the routines we have set for them. Our desire for structure and order, our respect for bad weather, and the expectations we parents put on ourselves to constantly entertain them get in the way of true, natural free-play. Granted, weather should be respected. Routines and demands are a part of life.
As parents, we often spend much time planning for our kids, and not enough time observing them. I’m absolutely guilty of this. I strive for that perfect moment, that post-worthy activity. It takes discipline to stop and have a reality-check.
Do we pay attention to what they actually want, communicated as best they know how? How often have I hauled out bins of toys, only to have my daughter be more interested in collecting sticks. It is in watching her play, instead of directing her to play, that she gains freedom.
Collecting Sticks
Outside, she is able to be wild. She has space to explore and experiment. Neil deGrasse says “kids are born scientists” and adults are the ones holding them back.

The 1 Step for a Cleaner House

They can’t mess up our houses if they are outside; the outdoors welcomes the mess. It is a constantly changing and evolving play space for them to be wild and free. There are risks, and there are unknowns, and the only way kids learn to regulate themselves is if they are given the space to try. Fact: unstructured play is the best way for kids under 5 to learn.
How liberating is that?!

And so, maybe we look for more balance in our parenting. Maybe we spend less time stressing to occupy our kids. Maybe we cut ourselves some slack, and we cut them loose to roam.
Maybe instead of constantly working to entertain them, we let them rise to the occasion and entertain us.
Outdoor adventure on a cold day
Please visit me at www.mywesternnest.com, or on Instagram at @my.western.nest
For more information about the developmental benefits of solo play, check this out: https://www.verywellfamily.com/why-playing-alone-is-important-3129415
For an interesting perspective of kids as scientists, please check out this video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bvFOeysaNAY

Day Off Fail or Day Off Win?

Today, I took the day off…

I had big plans to get outside with my kids. Some large adventure, ski hike somewhere… however it started snowing. Snowing people! In April!

Don’t get me wrong, I love the snow. I love a good snow storm. But when I take a day off from work to play with my kids, in April, during vacation, I want warm, sun, and minimal wind. I want time spent outside without all the gear {hats, mittens, snowpants, etc}.

We desperately needed groceries, so I headed to Trader Joe’s with my youngest {she’s 2}. We had a good time; she snacked on a danish they were handing out and she got one on one time with me, which honestly doesn’t happen often in a family with three children vying for attention. Day off win for the youngest.

After the grocery store, I headed off for a hair appointment and got my hair cut; this was desperately needed. This was a day off win for me!

When I got home, it was time for lunch, a nap for the littlest and…

Rocket ship building

What you see in the picture, my kids, using their imagination.

I gave them each a diaper box and they proceeded to make rocket ships out of the boxes.

While I was busy tidying, ready to put the boxes in recycling, I asked them “do you want this box?” I was met with an emphatic “YES!” So they each got a box and happily used their imagination to make rocket ships.

Sometimes, it takes a rainy day, with your mom not paying attention to you {ahem tidying the living room}, for your imagination to run wild.

Some day in the next week, make space for your own imagination to run wild, whether indoors or outdoors. If you have kids, encourage them to do the same. 😉
You may find you {or them} are entertained for longer than maybe say… an iPad, iPhone or tablet? 🤷🏼‍♀️ try it.

Fort building
Fort building 

Later in the day, we got outside. We rode bikes, scooters, played with a little tikes car…

Then we continued into the back yard and the kids commenced their fort building. {helmet included because construction is dangerous work, you know?}

So, it’s safe to say, it was a #dayoffwin. Creative kids, down time for mom, cleaning/tidying for mom {does this ever end}, and ended with a little vitamin D, a little exercise and some fresh air. That’s a lagom day in my book. 😉

DownTime

Last summer, a friend told me about her early morning walks on the beach with a friend. As she told me, I was reminded of my summer days during my college years. I often went to the beach for an early morning sunrise or walk. I went to the beach EVERY day and some day, twice!

What changed? When did I get away from my regular beach trips? Why did I get away from them? Well, for starters, I moved away from my hometown, and my current town is not a 5-7 minute drive to the beach the way it used to be. I am married. I have kids, three to be exact. All of these factors make it slightly more challenging to make it to the beach.

That conversation, my friend inspired me to get back to the beach. By myself. For myself. Since that conversation last summer, I began regular walks on the beach, sometimes by myself, sometimes with a friend. Many times catching magnificent sunrises and other times waiting for that hopeful sunrise only to find the clouds covering the sun and its rays. Most times returning home energized and ready for a day with my family.

Eight months into beach walks, I can tell you I’ve branched out. I’ve taken walks around a pond, bushwhacked through woods, cross country skied, walked the snowy dunes of a beach, explored a marsh, walked the grounds of a mansion. It’s not always a beach walk, however it’s always an early morning walk by myself or with a friend.

These walks have been so good for me: my body, mind and soul. My body is refreshed from exercise & fresh air. My mind is rejuvenated from good conversation with a friend or my own thoughts. My soul felt renewed, probably from a combination.

Why do I write this? Why am I capturing this for the interweb? It is to serve as a reminder of something I loved to do, and forgot about or didn’t think there was time. As I dug deeper, I realized, if I went to bed a little earlier on a Friday or Saturday night, I could get up earlier and take an hour or ninety minutes to myself on an early Saturday or Sunday morning, at the beach, in the trails, on skis, and more. I would come home feeling relaxed and rejuvenated from time spent remembering who I was, I would come home ready to hang with my husband and children.

If you are looking for down time and not sure where to find it, think about something that energizes you and look for pockets of time where you can do that something. You may be surprised at where you find the pockets of time and you may surprise yourself with the results…

Sunrise Walk

Airport Sunrise

We’ve been a little quiet over here. Maybe it’s the life full of “to dos”, or maybe it’s because it’s dark when work is over for the day. The past few weeks have been full. Vacation, thanksgiving, tree cutting down and tree decorating, back to work, catch up on work after a 10 day vacation. Either way, I haven’t been outside as much as I would like and as a result I’ve been grumpy. {ever happen to you?}
Yesterday morning, my husband and I woke up earlier than usual. I asked him to take a walk with me and he obliged. We walked for about 20 minutes and then it was time to get back inside and start our day. It was lovely, quality time with him.
I was reminded how important it is to get outside, even for a walk.
I was reminded how important it is to connect with your spouse, even for 20 minutes.
I was reminded how good it feels to start the day with movement.
I was reminded how beautiful the colors are at sunrise. 🌅
As you continue your week, think about some way you can get outside for exercise, even if it’s 20 minutes. You may be pleasantly surprised at how good it makes you feel.
And if you are able, invite someone to join you, a parent, a sibling, a spouse, a child, a friend, a neighbor.

Community Supported Agriculture

Today was our last evening at the farm in a while. Our CSA {Community Supported Agriculture} ended. Collective sigh. While I know it happens every year, the farming season wraps up, the fields are prepared for winter and we go back to the grocery store for more produce, I still feel a twinge of sadness every year on the last week of the CSA. This was my 4th year Appleton Farms and it was a good one. I’ve watched my son learn to eat green beans while picking with kind strangers. I’ve had and brought two babies to this farm. They’ve learned to crawl in the dirt and grass, play in the sandbox, talk to the chickens, observe the cows getting milked and figured out how to climb the tree out front. The past four years have been glorious and hard {have you wrangled three kids in a sunflower field?}, adventurous and educational {observe a cow giving birth in the field} and every time it’s just what I need: a breath of fresh air and a reminder where our food comes from and how hard the farmers work to provide fresh, good, local food.
Today was the perfect end to the CSA season. Today we rambled out to the corn fields and gathered stalks for decorating {or maybe sword fighting}. As it grew dark, we wandered back to the brightly lit barn, so warm and cozy {mysig in Swedish}. As I filled my bag with garlic & carrots, potatoes & spinach, cabbage & lettuce, my kids played quietly with the little barn/farm/horse toy. They played alongside each other and took in the peaceful moments in the warmly lit barn. As it was time to go, we peered into the darkness. The kids were thrilled and frightened to walk the few yards to our car in the pitch black. Needless to say, it was an exciting end to a full day.
Is there a place outside that fills up your soul? Is there a place nearby that leaves you feeling so full of life when you leave? Take time this week to go there. Bring a friend, a neighbor, a child, a spouse. Share in the joy and beauty; allow yourself space and time to refill your soul. For me, one of those places is the farm, and today I left feeling full of life & gratitude

Photography on your terms

Yesterday started out overcast & rainy; then the clouds parted slightly for the sun to peep through. We took family pictures at a playground. It wasn’t a “normal” outdoor hike or adventure, however it made for fun pictures. The backdrop was muted (brown playground), the colors were bright (yellows and blues), and the kids had fun running around the playgroun, and dare I say, fun posing for pictures. My mother-in-law is a photographer; last summer she took family photos {I’m talking all siblings, spouses, kids, parents, grandparents}, however two key people were missing {me & the baby}. We took a trip to Sweden {that’s a story for another day}.
My mother-in-law kindly offered to photoshop us into the picture ❤and take our family photo at a later date.
Fast forward almost a year; she offered to take a family picture at the playground.
This was such a great idea because it represents the kids playing, getting outside, having fun, running around, moving & still capturing the ubiquitous family picture.
Next time you need a family photo, think about what your family loves doing, try to capture family photos in that element – whether it’s running around your yard, wearing costumes, going to a playground, farm, mountain hike or some other outdoor adventure. You may be surprised at how much you love the results.

We Don’t Always Get Our Way

Grocery Shopping with Mom

This little one did my grocery shopping today. She may be for hire soon, although she will need a chauffeur as she can’t quite reach the pedals to drive. She knew her way around our favorite grocery store, Trader Joe’s, stopping to put animal crackers, a bag of pirate booty & some craisins into her mini cart {shout out to all those grocery stores that have the mini carts, kids love them}. She loved pushing her cart around, she smiled and waved as if she was the mayor. Then, she cried and stomped her feet when she didn’t get her way with the pirate booty {she wanted to open it and eat it on the spot}. Probably much like something we all do internally when we don’t get our way…