{pretty, happy, funny, real} (Vol. 4)

We went apple picking this week. Our sister-in-law is staying with us right now and she suggested that it might be a nice activity to do with the boys. And of course Lisa was absolutely, 100% right: Apple picking is not only that classic, American, feel-good, crunchy, fall-time activity, it’s also perfect for small children. Lots of walking, fruit that won’t smash all over your person, confined avenues of densely-growing trees that don’t allow for easy toddler escapes… perfect.

So why would it never occur to me to do such a thing?

Laziness probably plays a part. So does that fear of toddler escape. And intimidation at the idea of doing something new. But I think the crux of it has been the “survival mode” mindset of having one small boy right after the other. Just as we started to enter toddlerhood with our first, we introduced a second and got pulled right back into baby mode. So all those fun things like trips to the orchard and library visits and heck, time at the playground, got put off in favor of the safety and convenience of home.

Now that our oldest is three and our youngest is two, we don’t have to live like that any longer. (Did you catch that? We don’t have to live like that any longer!) But I keep forgetting. Walking around the orchard the other day, I gloried in the fact that both of my boys (1) can walk by themselves, (2) can even kind of help to carry/push the load, (3) can stay out for an extended period of time without having to be fed/changed, and (4) will, when-push-comes-to-shove, follow my directions. I can scream “Don’t you run into that field!” and have a reasonable expectation that they will listen to me. Do you have any idea how liberating that is? (I’m sure many of you really, really do.)

Anyway, I need to do a better job of remembering that we’re in a short window of (relative) familial freedom. April will come quickly. Third-trimester fatigue and discomfort will come sooner. We should be taking advantage of this brief and lovely season. Maybe I should make myself a second-trimester-countdown calendar – something to pound home the message: “Enjoy this time while you can, lady! Soon enough it will be all you can do to breathe properly!”

On that lovely image, let’s move on to this week’s {pretty, happy, funny, real}.

(Pssst! Wait! Before I really direct you on to {p,h,f,r} I have to put in a little shameless plug. If you haven’t already done so, please “like” These Walls on Facebook. The page is new and I’d love to see you over there. Okay – done. Continue on!)

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~ 

Every Thursday, at Like Mother, Like Daughter!

 

{pretty}

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Gosh, it was a pretty day. The kind of day that makes you want to stretch your arms wide and take a deep breath and maybe even do a Sound of Music twirl around a field or something. Don’t worry: I didn’t.

{happy}

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The reds were indeed delicious, but not as much as the greens, called Mutsu.

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We really had to hunt for the apples, but we had such fun doing it. So simple, so so happy.

{funny}

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The boys were so funny pushing our wheelbarrow – especially the two-year-old, who had the tenacity to push it almost the entire time we were there, long after big brother had gotten tired of it. He required a little adult help, but he really did a great job.

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This apple was pretty funny too. It had grown in the crook of those branches, so that it was utterly wedged in place. No amount of pushing or pulling could get that beautiful apple to budge. I was interested to see what shape it had grown into, but I suppose it will be rot that finally moves the fruit from its place. It somehow doesn’t seem right to let a knife do the job.

{real}

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Boys always love rocks, don’t they?

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These hives were pretty, but they sure did make me miss our bees. We lost our colony this past winter (they didn’t tolerate our move very well and then an overdose of mite treatment finished the job), so this was the first summer in years that my husband didn’t have a honey harvest. We’re looking forward to the spring, when we can get in an order of new bees.

(And by the way, my beekeeper hubby was puzzled by this picture. Do any of you – maybe a beekeeper yourself – have an idea as to why? I think I’ll go all dorky and explain it in tomorrow’s 7 Quick Takes. If you think you know the answer, leave it this post’s comments section. I’ll give you credit tomorrow and I’ll try to think of a worthy prize to send to you.)

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Twenty pounds of apples! So far we’ve eaten a bunch fresh, Lisa has made a lovely apple cake, and we’ve made kielbasa with cabbage and apples. I think applesauce will be next on the list. I’m sure some will make their way to the dear brother/brother-in-law/husband in Indiana. But what to do with the rest? It’s a great problem to have.

 

Be sure to visit Like Mother, Like Daughter to see what contentment those dear ladies – and all the rest – are sharing this week. Take care!

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{pretty, happy, funny, real} (Vol. 3)

In all honesty, I write this on one of those evenings when “contentment” doesn’t seem like the most natural thing to focus on. Not for any major reason; it’s just been one of those evenings when Daddy was home late and boys were challenging. (“They have been driving! me! crazy!” is how I put it to my husband.)

So. I sit here kind of huffing and grumbling and guiltily remembering how I yelled tonight.

Sigh.

But… contentment: this week’s contentment for {pretty, happy, funny, real}. It is, of course, something I should focus on. Especially at moments like these.

{pretty}

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I’d do best to think of my big boy this way on evenings that frustrate me. Aren’t sleeping children always so pretty? He sure is, with his soft, round cheeks and his long eyelashes. Each time I catch him like this, I fall in love all over again.

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I do the same with his brother, of course. He’s got the prettiest blonde hair and the sweetest little lips. And I just love his chubby, scraped-up, little-boy hands.

{happy}

But, motherly mush and all, do you know what really made me happiest this week? This little scene:

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We have a bedroom on our second floor that you have to walk through to get from one side of the house to the other. So it’s not exactly very private. And since we don’t need all of our bedrooms right now, I’ve made this one into a catch-all room of sorts. It’s for craft supplies and wrapping paper and sewing stuff and laundry sorting and ironing and file organizing – and it’s where everything gets dumped until it finds the right home elsewhere. I can’t tell you how much I love having such a room. It’s a homemaker’s fantasy, that’s what it is.

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Anyway, up until this point its primary purpose has been the last one I mentioned. It’s where stuff gets dumped. So you can imagine what it’s been looking like, can’t you? It’s been pretty bad. Boxes, piles of papers, bags of forgotten things, random items scattered around the surfaces… and everything seems to be overflowing.

But! This past weekend I got a few hours to myself and I started to tackle the mess. I got this whole lovely corner clear, I set out a few pretties, and I (gasp!) even organized the closet:

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I’m far from done, but I cannot describe to you how happy this progress makes me. Now all of my *wrapping materials, at least, are organized and in reach. So are our lightbulbs. And paper. And baby books. So now if I want any of these things, all I have to do is reach in and get them! I don’t have to fish them out from underneath a pile! What a concept. Now every time I walk through this room, it’s as if I’m taking in a breath of fresh air. It feels so good to have accomplished something, even if the something is very little in the scheme of things.

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* What do you think of the cabinet I’m keeping my wrapping paper in? Isn’t it silly/wonderful? I’d been looking for something, anything to suit the purpose, when the people we bought our house from offered to sell us this cabinet for – get this – $20. (They’d felt bad selling it for more, as they’d drilled it full of holes, to fish Christmas lights through it.) I jumped at the offer. I couldn’t have found something ugly and poorly-made for that price, let-alone a hand-made, glass-fronted cabinet. Score!

{funny}

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Yes, they’re scrubbing the floor. Yes, they’re only 2 and 3 years old. Isn’t it funny? They have this pair of black-soled “fireman” rain boots that make terrible scuffs on the floor. Yesterday they ran loops around the kitchen while wearing the boots and I needed something to occupy them for a few minutes anyway. So I handed each a wet paper towel, asked them to clean up their mess, and they happily got to work scrubbing the scuff marks. Their work didn’t accomplish much, but they seemed to enjoy it and I sure did!

{real}

We have a lovely yard, but it’s not the easiest to take small children out into. Mostly because our house is set into a hill, so most of our property is either sloped or terraced. And also because we have a lot of brick patio, surrounded by brick walls. Here’s an example:

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Beautiful, yes. But also dangerous. So when I take the boys out, I like to move them away from all the hazards and give them an open space in which to play.

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They’re completely uninterested in this. The boys like the hazards very much and try to escape back to them whenever possible. Of course when I’m keeping tight enough control to prevent them from accessing the big hazards, they seek out little ones wherever they can find them.

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It’s a constant struggle and to be honest, I really dislike taking them outside because of it. The other evening when I attempted some outside time, I sat in the grass and tried to soak it all in. It was a lovely evening. The boys were so happy to be out. I tried really, really hard to enjoy it too. But one boy or another kept running away. They kept not listening. They kept pouring dirt over each other’s heads. They kept throwing rocks. They kept fighting with sticks. They kept trying to love (i.e. squish) poor, defenseless caterpillars.

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The evening was yet another reminder that I’m mothering boys here. Sometimes they seem like foreign creatures to me, with their drives to escape and tackle and tear down. I love them deeply; I love watching their faces light up with wonder and joy. And I know it’s good for them to be out here. But – as good as I know it to be – sometimes it’s hard for me to enjoy this outdoor time with them. Sometimes the real gets ahead of the contentment.

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Sometimes.

 

Be sure to stop by Like Mother, Like Daughter to see everybody else’s {pretty, happy, funny, real}!

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{pretty, happy, funny, real}

I’ve been thinking about jumping on-board with Like Mother, Like Daughter’s {pretty, happy, funny, real} for some time, but I’ve had this notion that I needed to fully clean my house before I could do so. And then wait for a morning with abundant sunlight so I could take some really pretty, really perfect, really staged photos. Foolish, I know. Where’s the real in that mentality?

But LMLD’s photos are always so beautiful, and even though I’ve got a nice background to work with here, I feel like I’m always snapping pictures of clutter and wrestling boys. Oh, and boys asleep in places other than their beds.

I did, technically, participate in {phfr} that one time, right after I attended the “Crazy DC Meet-Up” with Auntie Leila, Suki, and Deirdre of LMLD. I wrote a post about the event and Auntie Leila kindly requested that I link it to PHFR. But anyway, here’s my first official {phfr}, and it’s rather more on the clutter/wrestling boys side of things than the pretty house side. It’s made up entirely of photos already on my camera, as I decided to do this post approximately 20 minutes ago. Here we go!

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~ 

Every Thursday, at Like Mother, Like Daughter!

 {pretty}

I stepped outside for a few minutes yesterday morning to try to get some cloudless-blue-sky pictures for this post. I was relieved to fail: there were just enough clouds to dispel my dread. And there were a few pretty sights to cheer me:

I loved the way the sun was shining on the upper part of the house. So pretty.

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I loved looking up at our big, old white oak, which my husband recently estimated is 262 years old. I’m in love with it already.

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And I don’t think I will ever tire of taking pictures of fields. (Though you, I’m aware, may tire of seeing my photographs of this same view again and again…)

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{happy}

These boys are always so happy when their daddy comes home from work. So am I.

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{funny}

There aren’t many things better than a box, are there?

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And what’s funnier than pretending to scream-wake-up your daddy, who’s pretending to be asleep?

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Oh, and pudgy hands contorting pudgy cheeks? Always funny.

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{real}

My boys – even the little one – have mostly been going without naps lately. (They are some stubborn, stubborn little guys.) It’s not exactly a contentment-inducing scenario. Except for this inevitable side-effect:

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Well, there are some glimpses at my contentment this week. Feel like sharing any of yours? Head on over to Like Mother, Like Daughter to check out the links or post your own.