Real Quotes From Real Kids

  1. “I’ve learned how to be patient and now I’m done being patient!”

  2. “Sometimes when I miss you I go into your room and smell your perfume.”

  3. “When I’m a mom we will never use plastic – feel guilty!”

  4. “You didn’t make a snowman with me like you said and I want you to think about what you’ve done and how you’ve taken a bite out of my soul!”

  5. “Our family is so weird! Who listens to this music in the car???”

  6. “I could not be mute! I would negotiate something else with Ursula.”

  7. “I learned a new way to strangle someone today.”

  8. “Can you please not die before my wedding?”

  9. “Thank you for being my mommy!”

  10. “Mother, this is not dinner. This is a wee nibble.”

  11.  “You were meant to have wavy hair, Mama. None of that straight stuff.” *

More Real Quotes From Real Kids HERE

*a husband quote!

I’d like it to be known that I made a snowman with Paige and was not the one responsible for taking a bite out of her soul.

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What is On the Walls of Your Home?

I’m becoming more intentional about what goes on the walls of our home. Of all the sensory receptors in the body, 70% are in the eyes. Fascinating, no? We see a lot of images everyday, and what we see stays with us.

We didn’t have a lot of extra for decorating when I was a kid, but my mother made a real effort to put up interesting art. I remember eating breakfast as a little girl and staring up at a poster of the urinary system 🙂 My mom put up anatomy posters, Monet, ancestors, and framed Minerva Tiechert. I am so appreciative of that now.

What’s on our walls? Here are a few amateur shots from around the house:

 Flowers painted by great grandmother, Alice Fogg Family photos Love is spoken in our home at all times, day and night. there is never any fighting 🙂 This Christ print is by Greg Olson, one of my favorite painters. We received this for our wedding (almost 20 years ago!) We see it every time we enter or leave the house, and every time we enter the living room. Poor Jesus has been through a lot in our house. The glass was shattered after Nelson kicked a soccer ball into it, the frame cracked after a dry winter, it’s been tipped over by careless dusters, and often gets covered in black soot from the fire. Nevertheless, after replacements and loving care, the print is going strong.This hard-workin’ laundry mama reminds me how I adore washing and folding multiple loads of laundry a day. She and I always have a smile on our face while performing this service for our family (just ask the kids! 🙂 )

I like to use inspiring pages from a youth Christian magazine, The New Era (’cause Cosmo hasn’t really led us toward the light). Love, love, love their monthly message. I tape these up onto the bathroom mirror. We ponder goodness while brushing teeth.

But besides this, and my children’s artwork, I’ve been longing for meaningful art  to ponder and get lost in.

This past summer, when my heart was heavy, I gravitated toward paintings of strong women.

When I saw this, I HAD TO HAVE it:

She Will Find What is Lost by Brian Kershisnik now hangs in our living room. What has she lost? A person? Hope? Faith? She’s lost something that has impacted her happiness. But all is not lost. Heavenly angels surround her, strengthening and reminding her that she is not alone. I think the beauty is not that she has lost something, but that “she will find what is lost.” Read more HERE, by artist.

She Became Herself With Tears by Caitlin Connolly. Cope says this is a depressing piece, but oh, I love it so much. The colors, the title, everything. I stalked artist Caitlin Connolly on instagram for a full month, waiting for a holiday sale, snagging print #2 of a limited edition of 30. It really felt like the first significant piece of artwork on our wall.

Mothers Teaching by Caitlin Connolly. I love this one, too, which now hangs in my bedroom. I want so many of her prints, but must exercise restraint. Her paintings of strong women really speak to me.

Artists I’m really loving right now…(I even know some of them!)

Molly and Corbett Leith, David FlemingJen Fleming, Brian Andreas, Ruth Chou Simons, and James Christensen (just to name a few – there are so many!)

Good artwork, especially original, isn’t easy. But is shouldn’t be, right? The time it takes to find the right mat and frame and hanger easily overwhelms me. And if you want someone else to frame it, well that’s time and effort and money, too.

But. I’m upping my game, vowing to do better. Art is an important investment for a family and home. It makes homes more interesting, less stale, more beautiful. It’s a conversation starter, it supports our artists, and makes our hearts pitter patter with happiness over that special, unique, carefully chosen piece.

As the chaos of the world swirls around us, I’ve felt a greater need to make home a refuge – and you certainly don’t need great artwork on the walls to do that – but I do want us to be surrounded by beauty and color and inspired artists who seem to have an eye and heart and paintbrush turned toward heaven. Bring the heaven in.

Read this: 13 Reasons Why Original Art In the Home is As Important As a Bed! 

“Do a visual tour of your home with spiritual eyes. Is there love? Is your family room a place to gather as a family? Regardless of circumstances, home should be where family wants to be.” -nestingwithgrace

What’s on your walls? Any favorite artists?

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Ten Favorite Valentines

Let’s start with the treats, shall we?

1. Dark decadent homemade chocolate. With only three all-natural ingredients!

hearts3

2. The Valentine Fruit Heartfruit-heart

3. A Valentine Breakfastpuffpancakes

4. Oreo Truffles and Chocolate Covered Strawberries DSC_0096

5. My Favorite Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookie  (thick, soft, and delicious!)DSC_0070-1024x680

6. German Chocolate Cake (and a Love Story)unnamed-2

Valentine Projects this year:

7. Ipod Valentines (comes with a free printable!) Yes, ironic given my technology rants 🙂

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8. Window hanging: Iron crayon shavings into between sheets of waxed paper & cut outIMG_0326

9. Wreath: crumble up tissue paper and glue gun them onto a cardboard wreath.IMG_0338

10. My favorite Valentine tradition: the annual heart attack! Valentine’s get stuck all over the house and we laugh for days (unless they’re making fun of the multiple shades of my hair 🙂 )

paige1 mom

Enjoy! And may all your days be filled with light and love…and especially kisses!

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Secret of Happiness: Send a Surprise Gift

Want to be happier? Send a surprise gift.

The last few months I’ve been the recipient of a few surprise gifts. I’m still marveling at their impact on my life.

unnamed-11. The window candles.

I was at church one morning last month and my body language must have indicated I was having a bad day. True. I was really sad. Denise found me and gave me a hug. I started rambling on about window candles. Why could I never seem to get them to work? After my mother-in-law’s death, I had inherited her window candles and was so excited to finally be that quintessential New England home with the December candles in the windows. I drove all the way to the store (here that’s saying something,) bought batteries, plugged them all in, and two days later they were tipped over, and all the batteries were dead. Dark windows. #fail

WHY? What was so hard about window candles?  Frustrated, I threw them all away. And was sad and mad.

Whatever. Unimportant. How are you?

“I might have some you can have,” Denise said. “I’m downsizing.” So nice, but oh dear. This would require something from me. They wouldn’t work and I’d have to find the right size bulb, and blah blah blah adding to more stress and stuff. Thank you, anyway 🙂

A few days later I received a present. Inside were six, brand new Christmas candles. No batteries required. All the lightbulbs worked. They light up automatically when the sun goes down and go to sleep when the sun comes up. They stay upright. And every night, for the past month, when I pull into the driveway, there are candles lighting up my dark windows in the middle of the dark winter in New Hampshire.

It’s a small thing. But Denise made this happen for me. And it makes me so so happy.

unnamed-2 2. A handwritten card from my sister, Andrea.

Even now, weeks later, I read this over and over. She wrote, “Thank you for being such a good friend…you wrote on your blog that optimism is your best trait. I disagree. I think your best trait is helping the people in your life feel loved…thank you, Amy, for loving me.”

It makes me cry every time I read it and I will cherish it forever, (especially when I’m crabby and not making anyone feel loved). A small thing. And makes me so so happy.

unnamed 3. Paintbrushes from a master artist.

I was completely overwhelmed when I received these paint brushes, some sample paper, and a letter in the mail a few weeks ago from Leanne. “You must simply start painting with watercolor because your eye is flawless.” Huh? Me? It’s true that I’ve secretly wanted to become Monet for a long time, but…you know. I pretty much assumed that if I hadn’t started by now it was too late. But Leanne said, “you must simply start!” This EXCEPTIONAL watercolorist was telling me I should paint. And so I obeyed! Brynne and I have been putting paint on paper, and artist Jill has invited me to come to her class, and I’m discovering this great art form and loving it so much.

Yesterday I painted a bird 🙂 A small thing. It makes me so happy.

DSC_03464. The gift of the rhubarb.

This past summer I was missing people. One day Tamar called and said, “I have a present for you but I have to give it to you in person.” She showed up with a rhubarb plant.

Oh dear. I had to plant something and not kill it.

“You won’t be able to kill it.” She said this stubborn rhubarb was weaving in and under her porch, reaping all sorts of destruction. She went to work on it, but was dismayed to see that she had unintentionally killed the whole thing!

“I was so sad. Every day this summer I came out to see if my rhubarb was growing back and every day there was nothing but dirt. Heather was dead and my rhubarb was dead and I was so so sad. Day after day. Well one day I came out and there was this tiny green shoot poking out of the ground! And I swear I heard Heather behind me. It was like she was right there and you know what she said? She said, ‘See! LIFE GOES ON!'”

And Tamar thought – AMY! She dug up the rhubarb plant, put it in a pot, drove all the way to my house, and told me the rhubarb story. “See! LIFE GOES ON!” And in my head I could see Heather standing behind me, pointing at the rhubarb in her strong, matter-of-fact voice. “SEE! LIFE GOES ON!”

My friends, none of these women had to bring me a gift. But for some reason, they thought of me, and then they ACTED ON THAT THOUGHT. They were busy with long to-do gifts and they stopped a moment to bring or send me a surprise gift.

They made me so so happy.

Funny the way gifts work. Friends and a sister put gifts in my lap and in the mail. They gave to me. But when I said thank you, I could see that they felt that same joy, too.

The best thing about a surprise gift is that it’s so unexpected. We expect gifts on our birthdays, at Christmas, and yankee swaps. But when a gift lands in  your lap and is so out of the blue, oh my goodness, it’s SO FUN! And it’s so entirely delightful to see the look on the recipient’s face. No wonder Ellen loves her talk show so much – she unexpectedly gives gives gives. Her guests cry and jump up and down, and we, her audience – WE LOVE IT!

If you think that making the world a better place is out of your control, you’re mistaken. Our circle of influence is our most powerful weapon for good. Start there and you’ll see – happiness has a ripple effect and continues far and wide.

Secret of Happiness: send a surprise gift. You’ll see it, you’ll feel it…happy.

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Happy Monday {when it seems the world is falling apart}

When I told my friend about “signs” and feeling like God gave me little gifts to keep me going, he shook his head. He thought the signs were always there – we were just too busy to see them.

Hmm, maybe he’s right. Do we make our own reality because of how we want to see the world or are there gifts being sent all the time? I think it’s a little of both. But I think Friend has a point: there is great beauty all around us, if we will only SEE.

I read this quote this weekend (and didn’t think it a coincidence:):

“The more often we see things around us – even the beautiful and wonderful things – the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds – even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less.” – Joseph B. Wirthlin

There is an awful lot of doom and gloom these days. We are upset about politics, taxes, healthcare. There are really sad and horrible things happening that we have no control over. For instance, I’m driving myself mad this evening thinking about how much of teen culture is.so.BAD. Will the kids really be okay?

But I must take deep breaths and think about that another day.

This post is about seeing the sunshine and butterflies.

Anyway, has there ever been a period of time when people on earth felt perfectly content or unafraid?

So. I read this this week, too:

“I am asking that we stop seeing out the storms and enjoy more full the sunlight. I am suggesting that as we go through life we ‘accentuate the positive.’ I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort.

I am not asking that all criticism be silenced. Growth comes of correction. Strength comes of repentance. Wise is the man who can acknowledge mistakes pointed out by others and change his course.

What I am suggesting is that each of us turn from the negativism that so permeates our society and look for the remarkable good among those with whom we associate, that we speak of one another’s virtues more than we speak of one another’s faults, that optimism replace pessimism, that our faith exceed our fears.” –Gordon B. Hinckley #lovethisman

I saw this faith and optimism play out over the weekend as we laid my cousin, Andrew, to rest. Andrew was born with many heart defects and Down Syndrome. But the love his family had for him was a great love story. Andrew was a joy, but also…difficult. I don’t know how his parents and sister could turn every broken toilet into a hilarious story, (he had a fascination with flushing things) but they did!

Even his obituary made me laugh. A small piece: “Ever the prankster, Andrew enjoyed breaking household items, hiding things, and telling jokes about setting people’s hair on fire.”

Before he passed away he hid all of his mother’s pants. They are still looking for them. On several occasions I thought, “bless them, I could never do it.”

But they did. So very well.

His father, Ray, said at his funeral: “Happiness is a choice.”

In a prayer, Andrew’s mother said, “Thank you for the great honor of allowing us to raise Andrew.” She didn’t talk about how hard it was, only the great honor.

I’m thinking about this today, on a cold, grey January day when there are many many worries on my mind. I’m looking out the window {’cause it’s not on my phone} and really trying to see it.

Some seasons of life are better than others. And I just thought I’d share this belief of mine, that our lives have meaning. That there are good things all around us if we want to see them. That happiness is a choice.

And like Olivia Pope says, “ALL PROBLEMS HAVE SOLUTIONS!” 🙂

Okay?

Hold on. If you can’t see the light right now, believe. It’s there.

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Happy Monday, friends.

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Auntie Jill’s Sweet Potato Pie {yum!}

It was voted Thanksgiving’s #1 dish, and that’s saying something in this house where we are surrounded by viable Chopped contestants.

It’s also saying something as I have struggled to like sweet potato since I was a wee lass growing up on the plains of Nebraska. The sweet potato has so many virtues and has long been touted as one of the world’s healthiest foods. Why couldn’t I adore it? But this. Love at first bite. The butter, sugar, and pecans might have something to do with it, but you have to start somewhere, right?

This Sweet Potato Pie comes from Auntie Jill, passed down from her mama Nancy in Iowa. The first two Makechnie boys married girls from the midwest. Aren’t we quaint?

Mama Nancy’s recipe sure was delish, but Jill saw the need to healthify it by cutting the sugars in half, using dates instead of white sugar, and fresh sweet potato instead of canned in syrup. Still, we agree it’s more of a dessert to be eaten after a 5k Turkey Trot (or sleeping in, whatevs,) and goes ever so wonderfully with any meat and potatoes meal, like Thanksgiving. Which is why I’m posting this in January. Makes perfect sense, right? unnamed-1You’ll peel, cut, and boil 4-6 sweet potatoes. Mash them with butter. Add sugar, salt, eggs, milk, vanilla.unnamed-2 Now for the topping! Chop 1 cup pecans.unnamed-3 Add brown sugar, butter, flour and cinnamon to the pecans.unnamed-4 Spread sweet potato in a pretty pie baking dish. Add the nut and sugar topping.unnamed Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Serve and swoon.unnamed-6

Sweet Potato Pie Casserole

Ingredients
4 and 6 sweet potatoes
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar (*or puree 1/2 cup pitted dates with 1/2 – 1 cup hot water until thick paste forms)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk (2% or more is best)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Topping Ingredients
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup pecans, chopped (or pecan/walnut combo)
Directions
  • Boil sweet potatoes until soft and mashable. Mash with butter. Add sugar or pureed dates, salt, eggs, milk, vanilla. Mix well.
  • Pour into ungreased 9″ glass baking dish or a deep dish pie plate.
  • For topping: in a separate bowl mix brown sugar, butter, flour and cinnamon with fingers or pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Stir in nuts.
  • Sprinkle the topping on the sweet potato mixture and bake @ 350 for 40 minutes.
  • Can be made ahead.
Enjoy!
Thanks Auntie Jill and Mama Nancy – we sure do ENJOY!
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Our Technology Contract!

If you’re like our family, Christmas brought presents in the form of technology. (Hallelujah, the boy proclaims – you finally got me a phone!)

With a fresh year upon us, it’s a perfect time to review the tech rules are in this house. As our kids have gotten older, we’ve all had to evolve, discuss, negotiate.

Our contract for Brynne (7th grade, iPod only) looks different than her high school siblings. She has to ask before she uses her iPod, which is kept in my bedside drawer. It’s more like an after school snack rather than a permanent fixture on her body.

The older, high school kids carry phones and do homework on iPads. Their tech contract:

Dear _________________________________

Congratulations! You are in possession of a powerful piece of technology. With this great privilege comes great responsibility. Your devices have the potential to do great good. They also have the power to cause great harm, not only to yourself but to others.

As a tech user in the Makechnie house, you agree to the following:

  1. Technology is used under the supervision of your parent. Other than homework and seminary, you must ask permission to use your iPad (not your phone.)
  2. Technology must be used in a public place, like the living room or kitchen, not in bedrooms or behind closed doors. If you need a quiet place, we will discuss.
  3. All apps must be approved.
  4. We will always know your passwords and follow you on all social media sites. 
  5. We will be able to read your texts and conversations at any time.
  6. Technology is put away and off your body at meal times.
  7. When you begin driving you will never ever text or talk while driving. 
  8. Never post anything online that could be hurtful or harmful to another human being.
  9. Never search for or post anything that you would be embarrassed for your parents or Heavenly Father to see. While on-line, imagine us standing next to you! If someone shows you pornography, FLEE.
  10. At 8 p.m. phones are to be turned in.
  11. At night, after homework is done, iPads are to be turned in.
  12. On Sunday, we have a technology Sabbath. This is so we remember what one another looks like and that the scriptures are actual books. Even God, who was incredibly busy creating the world and animals and people, rested on the seventh day!
  13. When riding in the car with friends or other adults, use devices appropriately. Have conversations.
  14. When using technology, and another person enters the room, close your device and acknowledge the person (it is also polite to stand up in certain situations).
  15. Download and listen to music that is uplifting. Ask: How does this make me feel?
  16. If you break your device  (it will happen) you are responsible for the replacement.
  17. If you break one of these rules, your devices will be taken away for a period of time.  They will be returned to you when your parents deem it appropriate.
  18. There will be times when we ask you to put your technology away for an extended period of time. Taking breaks are good for your brain! (See HERE and enter @maisymak for 20% off.)

Remember that these rules have been put in place because we love you.

Love, Mom and Dad

Signed:

Signed:

We had quite a negotiation session regarding this contract. Honestly, they think it’s super strict and totally unnecessary (go ahead, submit an eye roll 🙂 ). But we parents take tech really seriously. It is a WONDERFUL tool, but it can also be dangerous and addictive on young, growing brains. So we have rules because we love the darlings. The end.

Make your own contract by cutting and pasting the one above, or using the original tech mama’s TEMPLATE.

Kelle Hampton’s, PDA With Your Device? Get a Room idea is hilarious and adorable. I might get crafty and make one! Check out the Unplugged Motel, where family tech spends the night:featured1-1024x683It was especially hilarious to see the expression on my boy’s face when I suggested making the tech motel for the family. Still laughing.

Also, check out THIS LINK, or better yet, watch it with your kids!

Here’s another cute idea: crate your phone!

crateToday, all of my students put their phone in this cute crate and focus abounded – one girl even thanked me! Which goes to show…they need us on that wall 🙂

Want a cute crate for 20% off? Visit http://www.crateyourphone.com/ and enter the coupon code maisymak.

Enjoy technology, make some rules, stay strong.

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My One-Word Theme For the Year

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Last year my word was “Focus.” I quickly realized I couldn’t focus until I simplified some things. But what? I’m honestly not sure where to start with this. What do I cut out? What do I say No to?

It’s an exciting challenge!

My friend Megan’s word is: Reduce. I like that one. Haunani’s is: Lead. Glennon’s is: Resistance.

What’s your word?

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Favorite Books of 2016

I didn’t read enough this year, but did discover some gems, both old and new.

The year started out with a big high as I binged on all things Liane Moriarty, (as a side note, guess who’s on the February 2017 cover of  Writer’s Digest???)

But after the summer I went into a reading slump, with just so-so feelings book after book (coinciding with a hard summer, so maybe it was me, not the book 🙂 )

Here are my top picks for the year (and make sure to leave me some recommendations!)

 

The Light Between Oceans
The War that Saved My Life
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
Christmas Day in the Morning
Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives
The Nightingale
When Breath Becomes Air
Waiting for Augusta
Truly Madly Guilty
Hamilton: The Revolution
Writing Irresistible KidLit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Readers
The Hypnotist's Love Story
The Last Anniversary
Three Wishes / The Last Anniversary
Medium Hero
The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own
God Wants A Powerful People
The Five Love Languages of Children
Crossing to Safety
Ramona the Pest
Alexander Hamilton
Today Will Be Different
Love Warrior
Commonwealth
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A 2016 Recap and a Merry Christmas!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

unnamed

Charles Dickens summed up how I feel about this year.

Highlights and lowlights:

Low: Our Hearts BrokeTwice.

High: Love doesn’t die.

Low: My children don’t like the above Christmas card

High: I don’t really care 🙂

Low: We emptied and sold a house, hauling and selling stuff every weekend for four months

Saying goodbye to Grandma's house

Saying goodbye to Grandma’s house

High: We became a multi-generational family. It’s better than I ever thought it could be

Low: Four major appliances broke

High: We have Brendaen img_8339

High: We almost have a finished basement!

High: We didn’t get divorced during this process 🙂

High: I shocked myself and hired a woman to clean our home for two hours during the month of December. And I have all sorts of thoughts about this. It shall be written! #2017post

Low: Grief is not linear. Loss hangs over you and hits hard at the oddest times.

High: Friends and family. You hold me together.

Low: So many well-intentioned blog posts didn’t get written.

because :

Poor time management?

No, the other one.

Higher than a kite: In April, New York ICM literary agent Zoe Sandler called and made all my dreams come true. I have not written about this publicly yet. Hold on to your earrings, ’cause I’m still freaking out.

Low: Publishing houses apparently aren’t worried about my self-esteem #boatloadofrejection

High: Zoe is the best.

High: This is the book deal year. I can feel it . #please?

Low: “Mom, no more hashtags!”

High: #whatevs

Low: “And stop with the emoji’s!”

High:

visage_avec_des_larmes_de_joie_emoji_sticker_rond-r8efa1045719143db81c284357ea6ef17_v9waf_8byvr_512 #can’tstop

 

High: Fantastic books here and here. More coming!

Low: Read some duds, too.

High: There was soccer and basketball and swimming and running and piano and singing and chores and Netflix and cows and driving and did I mention soccer?nelson7

Low: My running suffered.img_8379

High: Running saved me.

Shout out to good health and running buddies!

Low: Faith was tested

High: Staying in the boat

Low or a High? Our country voted Donald Trump as our next president. #what?! If we’re Facebook friends, you know how I feel 🙂

High: I get to teach the best A&P class ever. We dissect pickles.

#Dissectionofadillpickle

#Dissectionofadillpickle

High: Fallimg_9461

Life was good and life was hard. The year felt short and some days felt forever long. I cried a lot. And laughed a lot, too.

If 2016 taught me anything, it’s that tomorrow can change in a second. SEE. FEEL. HEAR. TOUCH. RIGHT NOW, in the present, all that you love most.

Questions swirl in my brain as I look forward to a new year:

Will Cope go to college?

Will my boy like me again?

Are all teens surly while seeking independence from their mothers? Theoretically speaking…

Is Brynne growing up too fast?

Will Paige still hold my hand?

Will I get a book deal?

Am I good enough? #sayyes

Should I let my hair go gray? #chicken

Will I master a consistently clean house?

That was a joke.

Tonight is the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. Tomorrow the earth will begin to spin toward greater light. Literally. This makes me giddy. There is light ahead! As a born and often unrealistic optimist (my best quality 🙂 ) I’m holding out hope.

“… it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period…”– Charles DickensA Tale of Two Cities

Merry Christmas, friends. See you in the new year!

 

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