Kids Books!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I often talk here about books I am reading or that I want to read, but just last night I realized I read a lot of children's books and I never mention those. It's one of my favorite parts of parenting, snuggling in with a new book or a well-loved one that can never be read too many times. So today I rounded-up a very (very) small selection of some of my favorites. I included a couple modern favorites like B.J Novak's The Book With No Pictures (there's a great clip of him reading it here; it's a perfect one to read aloud with toddlers and young kids). A few that became so dear to me from raising my first boy like The Story of Ferdinand, (oh, I used to think that book was written just for him). But truth be told my very favorites are ones that I remember from my childhood and when I read them to my littles I feel like I am introducing old friends - like one of my all-time favorites Tikki Tikki Timbo and Caps for Sale (and the giving tree and, oh no! corduroy isn't on here! (seriously the guilt I feel for not including about 100 more is almost too much!)). Right now we are working through The Secret Garden at bedtimeanother of my favorites. Do you have any favorites that you read with your kids or books that you remember from your childhood? 

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

House Tour | Garden House |

Monday, January 19, 2015

These last months of winter always feel like the longest to me. This is about the time that I start (heavily) dreaming of spring. Coming upon this lovely loft and atelier in Antrewp really kicked off those daydreams for me over the weekend (as the rain and cold winds pounded my windows outside). If this space looks a bit like a livable greenhouse it's because the owner are professional gardeners. You can visit here to steal more peeks of cherry blossoms and wisteria to get your springtime daydreams going too. (That wonderful wall of books is worth mentioning too.) 

Gallery Wall Inspiration

Friday, January 16, 2015

For those of you who have been following on here for a really long time you may remember a project I took on to paint and redecorate my stairwell and upstairs hallway. Well, even if you have been reading here for awhile I don't expect you to remember that minor of a detail, I think it was a couple springs ago. Anyway, I got the painting part done, but I never got around to the gallery wall that I wanted to create. However with all the cold days we've had this winter I've been longing for spring and some spring projects (i don't know about you but it's hard from to take on home projects in the winter). I know some of you have been talking about creating gallery walls as well. 

Which brings me to all of these beautiful prints from minted. I am sure you've heard of minted from their online stationary shop. Did you know they also sell art prints that are made by independent artist? Me either. But I was really happy to find that out. As a designer myself, I love supporting companies that support the makers, artists, and creatives of the world. I spent most of last night looking and pinning and dreaming of maybe actually getting that project done this spring. These are a minor few of my favorites (they have an amazing selection). It probably isn't a shocker that I've gone for black and white's and earthy pastels, but I just love the simplicity and harmony. 

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 

This post was in partnership with minted and TPN though all thoughts and opinions are our own. 

Seeing Stars

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The ghost town that is my blog was not planned. Well, actually, awhile back I had decided that I wanted to take a break from blogging. But I wanted to take a break with intention. But as I geared up for giving myself a break I realized that I actually was feeling a little bit broken. Much to my surprise, I should say. While I am self-admittedly a hater-of-change, I am fairly resilient. I am pretty easily distracted. I have a lot to do in a day anyway. Raising kids, hustling with my business, cleaning my house, paying bills, keeping up with this and that and everything in between. And with my life feeling quite full, mostly in very wonderful ways, when life throws bumps in the road I usually just slow down and take care to drive over them. And then stretch it out afterward on the couch with some bad tv or a good book. This works. Until it doesn't. At some point I realized that wasn't working. Especially in a couple areas of my life. First I realized I felt a sense of sadness and second, at this same time, I realized something I thought was okay in my life was actually breaking down. And I don't love feeling sad. While I believe it's important and I don't completly avoid it, I don't want to hang out there for longer than necessary. Especially when it just feels there. Staring you down, challenging you to deal with something. Some things. And you aren't even a hundred percent sure of which thing/s it might be. 

I think sometimes we need that melancholy though. Those moments where the world falls away and you wander deep into yourself, your past, just in the time it takes to walk around the block, or drive to the store. And there is something that makes those moments so necessary. Sweet even, in their relief. Like a bear in the spring and summer. We eat and eat and eat and eat and eat everyday for our whole lives. But unlike the bear there are no seasons to delineate these things unless we offer them to ourselves. Some things we consume throughout our lives are wonderful. Some things are painful to swallow. Some things leave aching wounds and gaping holes. Some things leave smiles that we can revisit again and again, or send up a spring of laughter from our gut. And of course the sadder things are heavier. Happy is light. I much prefer the lightness of happiness. Or even the slight pressure of everyday life. But my belly was a bit full of the heavier things it seemed. And those were springing up. All around me it seemed this fall. 

Over the last 15 years there have been some pretty heavy things for me that I have had to ingest. I lost both of my grandparents and my childhood home within 5 years - they were very young grandparents, they raised me for the most part. I was a new mother and life as I knew it completely ceased to exist. And this time was relentless. The 15 year anniversary of my grandfather's death was this past new years day. His passing seemed to be the quake that let loose the crumbling of so many things that followed. There was no smooth transition, it just felt like some great hand from the sky plucked all the greatest comforts in my life. Over the years our Christmas dinner table of my childhood, went from 30 place settings to seven, and out of that seven, four are me and my three boys. I didn’t handle this well for those first few years, the years with the greatest of rumbles. I had panic attacks and anxiety. A few years before that my favorite aunt was in an accident that left her a quadriplegic. And other things too, I'll leave out save this post doesn't turn into a book or read like a bad script for a lifetime movie, because there's been some of that too. But it seemed one tragedy after the next was befalling in those years. And I found myself always on edge for the next tragedy. And then I came through that. Time probably. Realizing I didn’t want to feel anxious all the time. Life went on. It's all a part of life. I had a beautiful boy. And even though the loss was still there, and there were some yet to come, I felt stronger and proud for coming through that - anxiety free if nothing else. 

The last (untimely) death in my family (I talked about it here), that was a "bump" I tried to drive over, even slowly and cautiously, yet I found myself somewhere down the road sitting on the side of it in a daze. Most of my memories of her were tied to when she was a very little girl and every time I saw her face I saw those big Christmas dinners, my grandfather riding up on his bike on a beautiful spring day, my grandmother clipping her rose bushes. I think while this was tragic, there were other changes that I had been dealing with at this time. And the pile seemed to be growing. I realized I just felt sad and pretty alone. 

Grief is not linear it seems. It gets stored inside of us somewhere. And sometimes it creeps up, or creeps out rather. Life is not linear either and, as always, things can collide. That clap of thunder can leave us shaken. The layers of our lives are infinite it seems. But I knew it was okay. Grieving for the past or the present, wherever it comes from, there it is. I knew it was something I needed to allow myself. I needed to crawl into my cave and digest it all for awhile. 

While in my "cave of sorrows" I alternated between just feeling the feelings that were stirred, dealing with the present, and in that, also realizing that perhaps feeling these deeper feelings were also allowing me to not just feel them for the past, but also the present. There was some overlap there of course. That presented more hard work for me mentally and emotionally. Because that didn't just mean allowing myself to digest the past (again), but to take some action in the present. As I mentioned here. I could feel the earth rumbling again and I knew things were going to change regardless of whether I was ready for them to not. Adding this realization to my already sad state, I felt really exhausted. And then I felt excited (perhaps a slightly manic-y excited but excited nonetheless). Again, not being a lover of change combined with the amazing ability to feel content almost all the time, I can get stuck. And while all of this sounds depressing, and it has been in part, I could also feel myself peeling away from that sticky place I couldn't quite identify at the start. I really believe that these moments that feel the most difficult is when we are presented with real opportunity for growth and change. They crack you open so you can see the things that have become just a part of the scenery, like the pile of mail on your counter, or the cobweb in the corner that somewhere along the way you stopped seeing. 

In short I've been walking through the muck and making some life altering decisions. Dealing with things that I don't want to carry with me into the future and attending to and honoring all of who I am, even the me of the past and who I want to be in the future. Getting it out, tucking it back away. One by one by one. Hopefully, while getting unstuck, some of these ideas and intentions will stick. Life is such a puzzle isn't it? 

With all of that said, one of the decision I made was to go back to school. Because you know when you feel totally overwhelmed throw some more shit on that plate! Actually I feel really good about. It’s a little bit backwards and forwards at the same time. And that’s pretty much how I’ve been feeling in general, so it fits the theme of right now. It’s been a long time since I’ve even used my useless bachelors degree (which doesn't apply to anything I do now). And as much as I enjoyed school the first time around there was always the goal: degree, degree, degree. Now I am going because there are things I really want to learn. I probably shouldn’t have started with 5 classes. I am maybe (probably) going to fail HTML5, but thinking about my choice to go to school immediately makes me feel good (even when my computer dies the day after school starts and then when I get it back from being brought back to life I feel like I am violating myself by trying to learn coding). I think it's one of the things I have been wanting to do for a long time, and had I not allowed myself to go through all of this, I probably wouldn't have. I know there are a lot of changes I need to make, but this one feel like the right kind to add to that mix. A sort of positive jump start of sorts. Stirring it all up.

Also in this time my oldest changed schools. It became clear that he wasn't enjoying the high school experience. So we changed his life up too. He's now also in college (awkward. actually i am taking my classes online though so he doesn't have to worry about hanging out with his mom at school. on a side note he thinks it's hilarious that my username for school is christinedinsmores16, get it? i'm 16. true dat). He's now working on completing both his high school diploma and first year of college at the same time. It's an awesome opportunity with a full scholarship and I am so happy about it. But it was big decision. A process. No prom pictures for me, but also a full year of college paid for and a happier child. In the end it was a no-brainer. 

So, with all of that said, I am still planning on taking an intentional blogging break. Probably here very soon. I haven't taken a thoughtful step back from this space or thought about it objectively for a very long time and I felt, still feel, it's time to do that. But, while I thought it would be, this isn't that post. 

P.S. I also have to say thank you so much to those of you who checked in on me and sent me such kind words. And most of all to my dear friend Lauren who literally (okay, maybe not literally, but virtually) held my hand as I walked through the muck. You meet some pretty amazing people here. And I am pretty grateful for that.  

Wide Angle

Monday, January 12, 2015

Hello! I miss being here! I know I've said it a few times in my last sporadic posts but life, oh, it's had me in its grip lately. My lack of posting last week was because one of my littles had a (very) minor surgery and whilst he was in surgery and I was in the waiting room, my trusty macbook pro died. The blue screen of death. Which came at a most inopportune time for more reasons than just being left computer-less in the waiting room. Life has been a little like that lately. But, again, I am going to save most of the details of all the things I've been leaving out for another post. Much to say. 

One of the newer and more awesome things in my life of late is my wide angle lens. I was feeling a little beat down one day and I realized I hadn't been taking any photographs with my camera in weeks, which is not my norm. So in a moment of thinking you should do something nice for yourself, and wanting to get back to something that grounds me, I decided to buy the coveted wide angle lens I've been dreaming about for years now. 

I've been busy, mentally and actually lately, and with that I haven't taken it out much. Only twice in fact. The first time was where these photos came from. It was on a very early and foggy morning walk alone at the golf course across from my house. And as I was looking through my wide angle lens I realized that maybe it meant more to me than just a piece of equipment to add to my camera bag. Maybe it was a tangible form of what I've personally been working on over the last few months. Looking at my life through a (figurative) wide angle lens. I am pretty good at being present and in the moment. So good in fact I think I can be too narrow focused. Too intent on what is right in front of me, not thinking about what may be building up around and behind me. I came to realize that's been happening for awhile now and I've really needed to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Feel the feelings. Take inventory and risks. Make boundaries and changes. Have a little sharper focus and a lot less bokah in the background of my life (to continue the with the photography analogies, but I promise I am done now).  As for the lens itself, I am so happy I finally pulled the trigger and I can't wait to spend a lot more time with it. 


Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy new year! I am so glad that the new year is here. The last few months of this year have felt heavy for me and I feel like I've just been drudging through under the weight of it all.  Every once in awhile I think there comes a time that you need to dump the box that you call your life over and sort through it. And while coming to the realization that it's time for me to do this has been a little overwhelming to say the least (i hate even having to clean out a literal box), I am really excited for the new year and the good things to come. There is a lot to say about all of that but I will save it for another time. 

One of my favorite ways to reflect on the past year and plan out my new year is through the books that I read and have plans to read in the coming year. This last year I participated in the goodreads book challenge. I decided to make a goal of 30 books to read in 2014, though a few of them that I marked as 'read' were comics, a couple of them were mammoths like the fifth book in the Game of Throne series, so I figured it all balanced out with a grand total of 32.   

The books you see here were the ones that stuck with me most after I finished them, and a few of those are ones I still think about today.  

The Enchanted has to be the book I absolutely loved the most and I think will remain an all-time favorite. It was haunting and beautiful. I read it in one sitting and I am so glad I did (I think it's definitely a book best read one-sitting). And I don't say this often, but I know I will read this one again. As soon as I was done I wanted to just go back and read it again immediately. 

I kept seeing Me Before You everywhere, and one day I picked it up on a whim. When I got home and saw her vast collection of 'romance-type' novels I was pretty certain I'd made a mistake. But, as far as simply being a book, which tells a story, it was a good one. It is a love-story, though not typical at all. One of the characters is a quadriplegic, and having an aunt that I cared for for a few years who had also suffered a terrible accident and was left a quadriplegic, it turned out to be a pretty emotional read for me. I was entirely impressed by her research. The truth of the complex issues, both emotional and physical, that such an injury has on, not only the injured, but those who love them. 

One of my favorite things in the world is when someone gives you a book that you might not pick up on your own, but they know you'd appreciate. When I met Ruth this summer, she brought me the book Galveston, and it was such a good read. I've since loaned it to two other people who both really liked it as well. 

A Tale For The Being is another book I wouldn't mind putting on my to-reread list, though I probably won't because it's so rare that I ever do (so many books to read!). It was heartbreaking and magical, a sort of modern-day fable that deals with many very difficult and complex issues, but in a most honest, pure, and beautiful way. 

While I didn't give Life After Life five stars, the fact that I read 500 plus pages in less than 24 hours, I have to say it obviously pulled me in. The storyline was unique in a way that didn't feel forced or pretentious, and her descriptions of WW II era England were most disturbing in their quiet accounts and descriptions, and some of the best I have ever read. 

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena  was one where my heart felt like it was being picked apart page by page. But by the end my chest was fuller than it was before. There were so many sentences that I read over and over again, just to make sure I fully absorbed their beauty. And as soon as I finished the book I went back to my dog eared pages to re-read them one more time.

I already have a big stack from Christmas (on top of the other big stacks I've collected over the years) to read in this coming year. I started with Wild (which much to my happy surprise isn't nearly as pretentious as, eat, pray, love, which i was afraid of and have thus had avoided it up till now). Next in line are a few of the other books I got for christmas like: Everything I Never Told YouThe Martian, and All The Light We Cannot See. Did you have any favorites in 2014? Any good ones you are reading now?

Christmas In Black And White (Mostly)

Monday, December 29, 2014

We made to the other side of the Holidays! How were yours? Christmas for me was a sort of strange mix of a most wonderful and a most emotionally exhausting time. Nothing like the holidays to bring out the family dysfunction. It has to happen every so often right? We need material for all those holiday movies. Speaking of which I kept thinking of the quote from Christmas Vacation: I don't know what to say, except it's Christmas and we're all in misery. The crux of most of it was there was a lot of drama around me having Christmas dinner at my house. Though in the end, somewhere halfway through Christmas day, with my fridge filled with food and my house filled with a weeks worth of tension, we headed out for Chinese food for our Christmas dinner. I think in the end this holiday is one that is going to go down in the books as one I am just glad to have survived. Someday I am sure I'll sit around and laugh about all it all. And to be fair I did my fair share laughing (privately) at the time too. And if anyone in Portland want to have Chinese food for Christmas dinner next year, I have a recommendation now.

But, as I said, there were a lot of wonderful moment as well. Even though it was a bit stressful "getting to have" Christmas at my house, I loved it. It's the first time in my life I didn't go to and fro multiple places in that 48 hour period that is Christmas. My kids were really happy too, and that's where the true joy in Christmas is at for me. They happy. Me happy. There were lots of cozy moments in front of the faux fireplace with warm cocktails, we also played games, baked cookies, made pies, listened to christmas music, ate a lovely christmas eve dinner, and tracked Santa. My sister, my oldest, Fisher, M+L and I stole away for a bit on Christmas eve (fisher's 17th birthday!) after dinner to walk around sipping hot chocolate on Peacock lane, looking at all the Christmas lights, listening to the carolers, and being merry.

These days following Christmas have been nothing short of relaxing. My children, of course, made out like bandits, and I have a giant pile of books that have replaced any worries I had with which book to start with first (i also got an ipad so that's been keeping me nice and grounded to my couch as well).  Now, though, I am ready to start the new year! I have this feeling it's going to be a good one and I am excited to start it off on the right foot.

photos: 1. i headed to my old neck of the woods to visit my grandma on a perfectly foggy 23rd of december | 2-4. impromptu christmas dinner | 5. fisher's b-day cake | 6. christmas lights | 7. grandma's house | 6. peacock lane peacock | 7. fisher got a gas mask for his birthday (?). we all had to try it on. | 8. after christmas morning house playing with my new olio lens | 9.  christmas morning with grumpy cat and the mip robots
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