a life of being, having, and doing enough

see photograph here

I picked up this book at the library recently. The title drew me in because I feel like I am on an endless quest to find the balance between setting and achieving goals in my life and knowing when its ok to stop.

"What has so changed us? What has so radically transformed our world that we so easily surrender our hope of any reliable trustworthy permission to pause, gently put aside our day's work, take our nourishment, or find peace or sufficiency in enough for today? "

This book is kicking my butt in so many ways. Re-introducing me to the idea of contentment in life is foundational on so many fronts. But on the other hand, I do feel content. Where my issues lie is in the amount of pressure I put on myself to make something of my life. Immediately I hear rebuttals to that statement about finding satisfaction in motherhood, being a good wife, raising good children, and reaching out to others. Yes, I agree wholeheartedly with those things. But beyond my duty (using that word a good way) to everyone else I want to chase dreams and set goals that use talents I have been given and feel compelled to pursue. And sometimes I feel like I am defending myself to others. Defending my creativity or the happiness I find in baking a loaf of bread.

"In spite of any compelling physical or spiritual benefits, we fear we have no authentic, trustworthy permission to stop. If we do stop to rest without some very good reason or some verifiable catastrophe, we feel guilty, we worry about getting in trouble, we feel we are just lazy, not carrying our weight, not a team player, or will be left behind. If we just put our nose to the grindstone, give it our all, do our best, give 110 percent, really put our mind to it, never give up, and work more efficiently, then we can, and should, be able to get absolutely everything on our desk, on our to-do list, on our calendars, finished, on deadline, without any mistakes, perfectly, everytime.
Then, we can rest.

Some would say this idea of pursuing, acheiving, and working can be blamed on our culture. I only partially agree with that. Yes, I am inspired by other bloggers to create and I am challenged to take my dreams to the next level when I read 10 Habits of Highly Effective People. But beyond that, I have a deep internal desire to acheive. I am just now beginning to process if I have that "enough" switch inside me or not. I think not....is that a good thing or a bad thing? Still processing that as well.

"Unless we feel some certainty that our work, our gift, our time, our relationships, are, at the end of the day, enough, we may never feel permission to stop."

I am not sure if anyone else resonates with this post. I can say that although I do alot in the span of a week, I have confidence in knowing that I am an engaged parent, a good wife, a loyal friend and a passionate lover of life...and I am known to still plop down at the end of the day with a bit of Food Network or a margarita and a game of Scrabble with the Mr.

Sewing Projects

Thanks everyone for the uplifting and encouraging comments left on my last blog post. Its definitely nice to know that I am not the only mama out there with those days.
Did I ever mention that I hurt my back last year? A gym injury has sidelined me from my usual daily workouts and as of late has kept me from long car drives (one of my favorite past times). Chiropractic care and physical therapy have done nothing so this week I will head in for an MRI to see just what is causing all of this trouble.

Because of this, I had to miss a fun outing with Mike and the boys to see a production of Cinderella at Jenny Wiley Theater. I was really bummed about that. Little Otto and I stayed here and although I wanted to not be here, I actually was able to get caught up on alot of sewing projects and orders that had been piling up.

You may ask, "don't you sit to sew?" Well the answer to that would be, no. After my back injury I started sewing standing up at our butcher block kitchen island. It took some getting used to but actually I quite enjoy it now. I get alot done more quickly when I am able to move between the ironing board, the sewing machine, and the cutting board without getting up and down constantly. (This reminds me of an article I read once stating that Donald Rumsfeld never sits down to work. He always works at his computer standing.)

I finished a couple of aprons that will be sent off and a little clutch made of vintage fabrics for a bride to carry on her wedding day in August.

Onto a couple of baby quilts and hopefully some lounge pants for the boys to wear this fall. What projects are you tackling nowadays?

Its just one of those days. One of those days that creeps up every so often. It starts out days before usually manifesting itself in my frustration with a messy house. I am amazed at how much my life plays out like Bill Murrays life in Groundhog Day. I feel like I clean, straighten up, clean some more just to sit down at the end of the day to a messy house.
I sense the level of frustration rising as I feel unappreciated for all that I do (a small pity party for myself)and I find that it steals just a little joy out of each day.
So those little moments of frustration mount to days like today. These days (hopefully I am not the only one who has them) I feel like I bit off a little more than I can chew with my commitments to projects and I feel like I need to call a Realtor and upgrade from this 1400 square foot house that we currently run 3 businesses out of and raise 3 boys. I feel like I am treading and barely keeping my head above water.
Thankfully I am a big picture kind of person and I know that this too shall pass and soon my house will seem like a perfect fit for us, projects will seem easy and fun again, and I will trade in my water treading days for the lazy back float.
But in the meantime, I find my center in my kitchen. Baking bread, making soup, and knowing that this is just another day in my life as a mom who really truly does love it so.

Mike's handmade heart he crafted this week at his metal working class.

He's 4

Ezra turned four this weekend. I should seemed suprised at his age~ in awe of how fast time flys (and it does), but he is an old soul. He has always seemed much older than his age so I guess it seems natural that he is indeed a year older.
All of the birthday festivities~ the big morning breakfast, the afternoon bowling with friends, the cake, the gifts, and the time with friends was all put on hold when he woke up on his birthday morning with the flu. Poor Ezra. He is never ever sick. ever. But on this morning he indeed was so ill.
The party was cancelled but the day was still fun. A Charlie and Lola marathon followed up by family Wii bowling seemed to make up for the postponement of the birthday party.

He specifically asked (for months) for a vanilla cake with blueberry frosting and a blueberry happy face on top. The blueberry frosting was completely purple so I added a small drop of blue coloring which seemed to give it just the hue of blue it needed.

He has yet to actually eatthe cake because of his sick belly, but I sliced it, wrapped it, and stuck the slices in the freezer for a later date.


Summer is in full swing here at the Smith Homestead (hence the lack of posts nowadays). Tennis lessons each morning get us up and out the door- not a small task for this mama of 3. Then there is the swimming lessons each afternoon. Throw in once a week lessons for fencing (Canaan) and basketball (Ezra) and I do believe I may have bitten off a bit more than I can chew!

It all started with those family magazines they have scattered around town. Browsing through them, there is an endless array of summer activities to sign up for. Camps, lessons, vacation bible schools, workshops.... We seemed to steer clear of almost all of these until this summer. But this summer, it got us. The thought of 2 rambunctious boys climbing the walls while I try to nurse a 3 month old every couple of hours was more than I could imagine.
I have no clue how families function like this week in and week out though. How do they keep up with it all? Thankfully after this week, life will slow down once more. We'll still have a few things here and there, but I am looking forward to getting our lives back into a steady routine and leaving behind this insane pace we've been keeping for 2 weeks now.

Blackened grouper sandwich on a homemade sesame seed roll with peach salsa and couscous salad.
Summer foods are here to stay for the duration of these warm weather months. Lots of grilled fish, couscous salads, green veggies from the garden, berries and loads of fresh pesto. yum.

My Multi-Tasking Shoes

My birthday was this weekend. Yep~ I am officially a 32 year old. Instead of donning the usual "Ugh...I'm getting one year older" thing, I chose to embrace and celebrate whole heartily another year of life! And what a year 31 was. I spent most of it as sick as a dog incubating little Otto so I have had to make up for those lost months (either puking or wanting to puke) in these past 3 months!
To catch up on it all I multi-task. Have I ever mentioned that I am an amazing multi-tasker? Not only am I an efficient multi tasker but I have the uncanny ability to still enjoy each activity I am multi-tasking at. I am not a frazzled multi-tasker by any means. I move with ease from project to project and back around again.
This mornings multi-tasking involved finishing up some freezer paper stencil

blanching, cutting, and bagging enormous amounts of green beans that I found at the grocery store for $.20 a lb. (and let me just say here that I always get so excited to find such a deal and eagerly load bags of sale produce to take home and freeze. The problem comes when I physically have to prepare them to freeze. It is so time consuming, isn't it? All of the cleaning, chopping, boiling, etc... it kind of makes me kick myself for buying so much.)

Along with crafts and cooking, I had the joy of walking over to sweet Otto every couple of minutes to give him kisses and little words of praise. (Canaan and Ezra did lots of kissing on Otto too as they played board games).

So in celebration of my birthday and of my great multi-tasking skills, I bought myself my first pair of Dansko clogs. I never would have imagined myself as a Dansko kinda gal~ especially a patent cherry mary jane Dansko kinda gal. But they were on super clearance at Nordstrom this weekend and I couldn't pass up such a great deal. We typically never wear shoes in the house, but these Dansko's are the exception. With as much multi-tasking as I do in a day, these little beauties will be on these feet of mine most of the time.

Just To Catch You Up On Things...

A few weeks ago we had some major flooding. This picture was taken from the bridge by our house (our yard is just through those trees). The water finally subsided but we definitely weren't able to enjoy our backyard like we usually do in the spring. Now that it is summer, the mosquitoes are out and boy do they love Canaan and I. Here's hoping for a nice fall to be able to get back to outdoor life.

The boys are growing up. Otto is a little over 3 months old now. He's sleeping like a champ through the night (both other boys didn't sleep through the night till nearly a year old!). Ezra, the unpredictable one, keeps us on our toes. Last night he was riding his bike up and down the side walk popping wheelies all along the way.He has it in him to make people laugh and has discovered that he can make his older brother laugh by saying words like "poopie" and "pee" and things of that nature. We are trying to nip that in the bud before he heads to preschool this fall.
"Good luck with that", I tell myself.

We made handmade paper for the first time last weekend. It was a fun family project and although we definitely haven't perfected the skill, I think we will certainly try it again soon. Any ideas out there on what to do with our new handmade paper?

After our trip to the holler, Nan sent us home with a bag full of peas. I dumped them on the table and asked the boys to help me shell them so we could make pea soup. I was thrilled to see them dive in and shell every last one of them (with a couple of play breaks between). The pea soup, a Barefoot Contessa recipe, was easy to make and full of flavor.

The Love of a Lifetime

Tucked deep in the mountains of eastern Kentucky stands a little white chapel. Perched on a small hill it shares with the small graveyard where Zelphia Halcomb is buried.
Zelphia, who lived a long and full life deep in Little Leatherwood holler died last year. She left behind her lifelong love, Fess.
Fess Halcomb, old and wise, is always dressed in black (the Johnny Cash of the mountains) or in blue jean overalls. He is a family treasure. Always witty, always full of life, and a man who loves his family~ especially his sweet Zelphia.
After Zelphia died last year and was buried on their property, Fess built this little chapel. On it hangs a sign saying "The Church That Love Built". Inside are two small church benches and a stained glass window.

We drove by once while he was building it. I welled up with tears as I watched this old yet strong man carry the lumber from his barn to the top of the hill to build a place to sit and be near the love of his life. This little chapel is true to its name. He walks often to this chapel to pray and to look out along the winding road of the holler that he and Zelphia walked along together for decades. Decades of raising children, planting gardens, celebrating births, mourning deaths, hanging Christmas wreaths, setting the Thanksgiving table, and welcoming family for reunions. What love.

I too have a love that will span decades.

Diners and Old Friends

A bit of a random post but I thought I'd catch you up on our week thus far.
During our Memorial Day weekend travels to eastern Kentucky we ate lunch at this fantastic little diner called France's.

We are avid diner fans and seek them out in every small town we can. France's, which has been around for decades, is one of those rare gems that we gravitate to. Sweet gray haired lady, France, still owns and works at the diner each day.

Everything is homemade. Homemade chili, soup beans, mashed potatoes (with chunks of REAL potatoes~ not those flakes from a box.) An adorable revolving cooler houses tons of homemade pies too.

For lunch, I stuffed myself on 2 amazing salmon patties, green beans, and mashed potatoes served on an old school divided plate. Oh my goodness~ southern food at its finest, people. Unfortunately I was too full to order the peanut butter pie I had been eyeing, but there is always next time.

Although I didn't intend on it happening, I kind of like the way the picture turned out. In the reflection of the diner window shows McDonalds across the street. I love that this little guy can still stand against the industry giant and succeed.

A dear friend of ours from years past came for a visit with his family this week. Mark, his beautiful wife Ayuna and their equally beautiful girls, Lydia and Paulina came through for a visit. Mark is originally from Wisconsin, Ayuna is from Siberia and together they live in China with their girls. Such fun and adventurous lives they have! It, of course, made Mike and I miss traveling even more but its always fun to live vicariously through those who do.

Here, Mark and Ayuna are showing the kids where they live on the globe.

This weekend we'll be "setting up shop" at the summer Artists' Market downtown. We will do this 4 Saturdays this summer. Because of nursing Otto often, Mike is going to be my sales associate for the market~ which he loves and is a natural at. I hope to make it out for a while but for the most part I'll keep an eye on the boys for the better part of the day.

Creatively there is so much going on and I am continually amazed and grateful for the doors that open for me. I'll post more about that in coming weeks.

Here's hoping you each have your own adventures this weekend. Whether it is time spent with old friends or eating a meal at a local diner, there is so much to enjoy!