It’s been a good summer here. Life is still as crazy as ever and we have good days and bad days and crazy-train days, but even still. Summer has been really good to all of us.
I have a hunch that I’ll look back on the summer of 2014 as the best the kids and I will ever have. We’ve taken it slow. Most days we go on our neighborhood walk/jog with the triple jogging stroller right after breakfast, and then come home, fill up the kiddie pools, and splash around in the backyard until lunchtime. There have been so many giggles and gleeful shouts from my backyard this summer that my heart can hardly stand the joy of it all. It’s been slow and unplugged, but it’s been kid-focused and family-focused, and it’s just what we all needed.
And thus the six week (totally unplanned) blogging sabbatical.
I’ve really missed y’all, but it’s also been a blessing to take a break from my laptop and find a bit more creativity and community through other outlets.
A couple months ago one of my favorite authors/bloggers put it out on social media that her summer goal was to “read more books and less blogs.” The idea really struck a cord with me, since I had found a way to re-connect with my first love (books), and had a stack of library books as tall as me sitting here waiting to be read.
And so I stopped writing, stopped reading my Bloglovin feed as much as usual, and I started reading more books. Lots and lots of books. I realized there’s a big difference between reading blogs and reading books. When my primary reading digest is blogs, I can’t choose the topics and themes I read about. But I can be quite a bit more picky and choosey when I read words bound together, paper and glue.
Reading more books and less blogs has fueled so much inspiration, creativity, encouragement, and joy in my life this summer.
Mcquillyn Smith’s book The Nesting Place was like a shot of home-decorating heroin in my arm. Her blog has always inspired me but her book took the idea of transforming a house into a beautiful home on even the tiniest budget to a whole new level. There’s a reason I named my blog “Little Bit of Paradise,” and it’s because I believe so strongly that the home is one’s first taste of heaven, right here on earth. Home should inspire heaven, and make each member of the family long to be there.
So far this summer I’ve painted/redone three rooms in my house. I’ve been thrifting almost every week. I’ve spray painted everything you can think of…even turning old spaghetti sauce jars into adorable table top vases. You name it, I’ve been painting it this summer. [Next week’s project is chalk painting my bedroom furniture. I’m so excited and nervous and thrilled all at the same time.]
Shauna Niequist’s book Bread and Wine: Love Letters to Life Around the Table, with Recipes, was like reading my own heart. Her vision for life and love grown in a family (and a community) around the kitchen table is precisely what I hope to accomplish in my own kitchen. Along with the fresh herbs and produce coming out of my backyard garden, reading her book has totally inspired my time in the kitchen this summer. Our meals are getting more creative, more adventurous, and more fun. [Borrow Shauna’s book from the library if for no other reason than to copy down her mom’s blueberry crisp recipe. It’s wow food.]
But I have to say it was Tsh Oxenrieder’s Notes from a Blue Bike that made the biggest impact on our home this summer. Tsh and her husband crave simplicity, intentionality, and lots of adventure for their family. Her vision of family and home life resonated so strongly with my Hubs and me.
Thanks to Tsh’s inspiration (via Charlotte Mason) I’ve removed all the “twaddle” from my kids’ bookshelves. I’ve made numerous trips to the Salvation Army donation center, and we’re dreaming/scheming/saving for our next family trip with a little extra ardor. Tsh covers education, entertainment, food, home life, travel, and so much more in her book. It’s truly a road map for living a more simple, intentional life. And all of us could use a little bit more of that, right?
A couple other highlights from our summer thus far:
- My firstborn turned 4 years old in June! I can hardly believe he’s so old and big. What can I say – I think he’s awesome sauce. We had a fun, quiet family celebration for his birthday, complete with a Cars racetrack cake and our first official “family movie night.” We watched Cars, and it was the first full-length film my kids had ever seen. They loved it.
- My sister Sarah got married this past weekend! Big congrats to Sarah and my new brother, Andrew. It was a beautiful, awesome weekend in every way.
- Despite my long-held skepticism about using therapeutic grade essential oils to aid natural health and healing, I finally took the plunge and joined Young Living. I’ve been blown away by the positive effects the oils have had in my family. I’m hoping to give it a few more months to really learn more about the YL oils, and then I’m going to tell you all about it of course. ;o)
- Peter and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary last week! By far the best and hardest five years of my life. As my Dad says, “hardest and best are always companions in life.” I’m so grateful for my guy.
- After months of doing Jillian Michaels videos postpartum (my kids call her “Miss Jilly”… ???), I’ve transitioned back into doing CrossFit at home. I’m even more blown away by the results in strength conditioning than I was the first time I did CrossFit. And I’m absolutely convinced it’s the best workout for stay at home moms who don’t think they have time to work out. It’s so fast!! I think the longest workout I’ve done in a month has been 10 minutes, and it was so intense I felt like throwing up afterwards. I love the quick, because that’s all I have time for. So 10 minutes or less of CF a day plus a daily walk with the kids, and it feels great.
- I’m attending a girls-only cocktail party later this month called “Cocktails and Crazy Shoes” with prizes awarded to the ladies wearing the craziest shoes. I have yet to find a crazy enough pair of shoes for the event. Any suggestions for where I should be shopping for crazy shoes?
- We’ve decided to give homeschooling a try this coming school year. Bear Cub #1 will be in K-4, and even though I’ve been around homeschooling my whole life, I’m equally excited and petrified at the thought of teaching my little one at home. The first homeschooling catalog that’s ever arrived in our mailbox showed up this week. And it was (literally and not joking) bigger than the phone book. I think that’s when my excitement turned to terror, haha. Any of y’all in the preschool homeschooling trenches…send me your wisdom! I’d much rather learn from you than read the homeschooling phone book sitting on my desk. ;0)
So that’s what’s been going down around here this summer! I’m hoping to get back into blogging a bit more, but I want to be more intentional and thoughtful about what and when I write. This unplanned sabbatical has made me realize I need to find time for creative outlets that bless my whole family. There’s a time to write, and a time to paint, and a time to stand over the stove stirring a big pot of Shauna Niequist’s Parmesan risotto or making a batch of homemade dough for make-your-own-pizza night. I’m working to find balance amongst all these good things.
So I’ll be around the blog world, just a bit less this summer. When I write, I hope it’s something that will encourage you, and that you’ll find truly worth reading. “Less blahging and more blogging” is my goal going forward.
Love y’all. And I think of you often! Follow me on Instagram (@stephanieweinert) so I can follow you and we can keep in touch in small ways this summer.
P.S. What is inspiring you this summer? I’d love to hear about it!