Summer Mantel 2012

We love living by the ocean.  We have had this painting hanging in our bedroom and decided to use it as the inspiration for our summer mantel.  We wanted to take the colors of the sand, sea, and sky and bring them to our mantel.

And we wanted to incorporate textures and varying heights.

The picture in the frame is our little sailor, and I loved the canvas matting.  The glass buoy is from Pottery Barn.  It is particularly meaningful to me that a buoy sits beside our little boy.  Cole is an adopted little guy, we walked with his birth mother until all the doors shut. And when the doors shut, I went to the ocean, and it was there I heard the quiet whisper of assurance in my soul, as I watched the buoys.

The textures we wanted to incorporate were rope, glass, wood, and sand.

This mantel came together slowly, each piece going up, some coming back down.

Now combined with the spruced up shelves in the living room, we are feeling and joyfully anticipating summer and all of our summer adventures.

May your adventures be filled with sun, sand, and sky.

Linking up to . . .

Intentional Summer Adventures

I remember summer days in Vermont that lasted endlessly.  I climbed and swam and played and allowed the sun to become my friend while I waited for the beginning of September and all the people I would get to see and interact with.

It was a time of waiting and anticipating and being.

Somehow in the transition to being a grown-up, Summer has transformed.  The days do not languish, they speed.  The moments outside feel like gifts and like I should somehow capture them and hold them . . . but they are fleeting.

Two summers ago we tried to literally capture moments, we slowed July down by each taking a picture a day and finding the little joys in the days of summer.

July 2010 – Picture a Day Project

It worked, the intentionality of stopping and focusing in allowed me to feel as if I experienced summer in a slower, more intentional way.

Another time Andrew and I felt as if we caught summer days and slowed time a bit was when we agreed that during our lunch hours we would bring a lunch and go on a Lighthouse Lunch.  We took our full hour and headed to a local lighthouse for a picnic lunch.  A perfect way to capture summer.

Summer 2009 – Lighthouse Lunches

Last summer was both a challenge and a great joy to me.  I am the kind of mother that loves getting to be with her little guy and loves working.  I work with teens and I have continued to do so since Colton came to us.  In the summer time, he and I have three full days a week together.  And last year I knew I wanted to make sure we held on to those moments.  So we dove in with both feet and decided instead of a bucket list, that we would choose theme weeks . . . ideas to explore with a two year old, and we spent each week of summer adventuring, taking pictures and blogging.

Summer 2011 – 10 Weeks of Summer

This was a lovely way to do summer last year.  We had some weekly events, like The Music Man and a Summer Reading Group that brought consistency, and then each week we would choose a theme and try and get three activities and blogs in.

Summer still flies by, but it is full of moments.

I once heard someone say that we live each event in our lives three times:

      1. In its anticipation.
      2. In the experience.
      3. In our reflection on it.

That is why this summer we are once again going to choose theme weeks.  We are going to anticipate, adventure, and reflect.

We would love to do this in community, so if you live near me – holler, and Cole and I will adventure with you.

And if you are in our blog community . . . comment and link so that we can follow your adventures this summer.

Sprucing Up Shelves for Spring

One year ago, my handy husband built some shelves in our living room, and then I tried my hand at “decorating” them.  They the same for most of the year (and we still have not picked pulls for the drawers or handles).

As the calendar turned to spring again, they were feeling dark to us.  We decided it was time to change out the look just a bit, lighten up the frames and the overall tones, and allow spring and summer into our living room.  Here is what we came up with.

We did keep some of the same elements. I wanted to keep my grandfather’s Shakespeare collection.

You will also find this bowl in both displays, but we wanted this color to come through as a highlight color (we previously had a couch in this color and chose to go more neutral in our big pieces).

By switching out dark frames for light frames, adding some colored pictures instead of black and white and bringing in some summer elements like shells and coral, our living room is feeling much lighter and brighter.

Here is the evolution of our living room shelves . . .

Happy Spring and Summer

Linking Up

Fostering Reflection: Michael

Michael saw things differently.

Each child that has come to us over the years has their own unique story. Each and everyone of them has broken my heart in some way.  Michael was no exception.

Michael is the oldest in a family of siblings.  His father lives in South America.  He and his brothers and sisters were taken away from their mother.  They all went to live with a relative.  With so many children to care for, this relative asked DCF to take Michael, the oldest, so she could care for the others.  His father is gone, his mother is gone, and then he was moved.  What is your sense of family when by the age of nine you are shifted and moved and the one living elsewhere?

Michael has an eager sense of family.

He had been living with our friends for three weeks when they had a scheduled trip to the west, and he came to stay with us.  We first met Michael with his foster father, a man we love and admire, and I was not all that surprised when Michael called him “Dad.”  This man is the kind of guy we would all think of as a dad, strong, kind, funny, rooted.

But when Matthew arrived with us, at first I was shocked when he requested not to have to learn our names, “I’ll just call him ‘dad’ and you ‘mom’ cause that’s easier.”

I felt a desire inside to protest . . .

But then I realized, this is how Michael sees things, if it is easier for him, then it would be ok with us . . .

And it started.

“Dad!” He would yell from the shower when he forgot his towel.

“Mom!”  He would yell across the store if he wanted me to see something.

The terms I had thought of as intimate, really were more utilitarian and useful to Michael.  I could see where he was coming from.

And then there were times when he would slip into emotion, and I could hear the longing in his voice, “Where is Dad? I want to show him this?”

“I really want to hold Mom’s hand.”

And in those moments my heart ached.  We were stand-ins.  And the world is unjust.

Sometimes a kid just wants his mom or dad.  Even with a two year old, I know that those are times parents cherish, the moments when we know that there is a special bonded-ness.

And I ached for Michael.

And I ached for his mom and his dad.

And I ached for a world where hands are not held and where kids go to sleep at night wishing for their Dad.

Toddler Tuesday: Toddler Tea

Colton was invited to a tea party.

I know that may sound strange, my father was particularly dubious of such a venture.  But my dear friend Lisa Steigerwalt is a thoughtful and intentional soul.  And when I recounted to her that he was sad to hear there was a children’s tea party (for older children at our local museum), she took the opportunity to put together a tiny tea for him and her niece.

Lisa is detail oriented, and while everything was absolutely perfect, she was completely relaxed and ready for my two year old’s experimentation.  We arrived early, she had a toy tea set ready for him to play with.

Kathryn arrived and tea was underway . . .

Cole was absolutely fascinated with the ritual of making tea . . .

Lisa made it a creative and hands on experience with chocolate and a craft!

And while I did not take any pictures there was a little tea table all set for these toddlers’ mamas and we got to chat and eat delicious scones.  It was an absolute joyous time.

And I love that my little rough and tumble guy equally experienced and enjoyed a bit of etiquette.

There are so many lessons that I have to learn and I long for him to learn.

Little intentional adventures . . . with open hands . . .