A Quick Question…

I’m trying to find that sweet spot between sharing more than you’re interested in or have time to read and being MIA. Would you help me out by answering the poll below? Thanks, friends! :]

All Is Grace

As we step into this new year and all it holds, I’m reminded to not too quickly forget the year we’ve stepped out of and all the goodness and growth it held as well.

When I think of 2017, one word comes to mind— b a b y.

Honestly, when I was first thinking about writing this post and recounting the blessings and adventures the last year held, I could think of little else beside our daughter being born. It wasn’t until I started looking back through pictures and thinking through what we had done month by month that I realized just how full a year it was even apart from our daughter.


January We stepped into 2017 with a two-year old and a broken arm. It wasn’t until March that Roman would have his last cast removed. I had honestly forgotten this had even happened this year—amazing since it was such a big ordeal at the time.

February We celebrated Valentine’s at a fun restaurant in downtown Springfield and walked the streets remembering the little apartment we shared there once upon a time before we were parents.2851D58F-.jpgLater that month we found out we were having a girl. A girl! I couldn’t stop smiling that day and my heart is still so full. She’s all magic and sunshine and I’m so very thankful.16938858_10154291813166517_5793260963927159684_nMarch My best friend came to visit from Kansas City to celebrate her 30th birthday. We stayed up late laughing until she snorted and I cried and explored all my favorite nooks in Boston together with our husbands. IMG_20180104_144820.jpgNext, Darren and I flew to South Carolina so I could be in a dear friend’s wedding. This was our last trip just the two of us before baby. We walked around the campus where we met and relished a million memories from our college days and falling in love.17493194_10154369610946517_2319655507711607348_oFinally, I spent a girl’s weekend away at the Cape celebrating another 30th birthday. Though it was the end of March, we still nearly froze trying to explore the boardwalk and ocean 🙂 17200940_10154823328411072_1166534279125778372_nMy belly really began to show and I couldn’t wait for warm weather and that sweet girl to be in my arms.img_20170322_103404.jpgApril My parents and grandma came to visit and we had a great time exploring NYC together. My mom and grandma were able to celebrate my baby shower with me which is such a treat with them living across the country. IMG_20170507_105009_127Next, Darren’s best friend came to visit with his family and after his wife and I took off to Ikea, the boys were good enough to put Roman’s new big boy bed together. It felt strange having Roman out of the crib and nursery and in his own “big boy” room. We celebrated Easter together before they headed home to Maine. IMG_20170416_103634_839May Ahh May. We were tired by now as you might imagine. I was 7ish months pregnant and it had been a whirlwind of company and fun for three months straight. I was ready to slow down and focus on my boys and preparing for our girl. We got the nursery ready amid lots of other nesting projects.IMG_20170522_070619_198

IMG_20170625_102309_989June We got our new-to-us SUV on the road and broke it out on a trip to Tennessee. I was right at a month from my due date and nervous both about being so far from home that pregnant plus so many miles on the road with our son but both worked out just fine (meaning no baby was born in the car and minimal tantrums from our toddler lol). We had a reunion with my side of the family and it was such a sweet week together with everyone sharing a big cabin and catching up.19059471_637432103120404_6195418944302178349_nJuly Man oh man, July. It was finally the month we would meet our baby. I was due the 11th and told to expect her early since this was my second time around. I thought for sure we were getting a July 4th baby (not what I wanted) when I had regular contractions all day on the 3rd. I got a hospital bag ready and we stayed up late timing contractions only to have everything peter out.

The days ticked by and on the 7th we celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary.IMG_20170707_211648_100My parents and grandma came into town anticipating our daughter’s arrival. Baby girl’s due date came and went and I grew frustrated by all the extra doctor appointments, poking and prodding, and being over-due in the July heat. IMG_20170716_093307_819Roman turned three and we celebrated his birthday with family and lots of construction vehicles in his honor 😉

The time my family could stay in town waiting for our daughter was fast running out and I spent many an hour pacing the driveway trying to burn off frustration and walk her out.

Finally, ten days over-due, I was induced. It was strange, going to the hospital not yet in labor but knowing I would leave with my daughter none-the-less.IMG_20170720_154958_343Last photo right before we left for the hospital.

received_10154719411036517.jpegI was apprehensive about being induced but the whole labor went far better than Roman’s and just a few hours after we arrived at the hospital our little Aletheia Rae was in our arms at last. IMG_20170808_222639_248

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IMG_20170721_190017_264August We spent a weekend up in Maine to celebrate Darren’s parent’s 50th anniversary. Aletheia was only two weeks old and it was fun showing her off.

When Roman was a baby, his first trip to the ocean was at Old Orchard Beach in Maine so we wanted to take Aletheia to the same place. We stopped on the way home and spent a couple of hours in the sand and sun.IMG_20170916_165423_400.jpg

September Our friends from Maine came down and stayed with us for a few days again. Gretchen and I stayed up watching Poldark while the boys played xbox 😉

October We had a missionary family from the Philippines stay with us for a week. This is the first time I’ve ever had anyone I didn’t know stay in my home and I was nervous about it, especially since I’m not the most outgoing person ever. But I’m so glad we did it. The kids had fun playing together and we were so encouraged by the couple we met. I loved getting to know them and it showed me what a blessing it is to open my heart and home to someone needing a bed, even if we’re strangers when they first walk through the door.

November We flew for the first time with both kids to see my family in Kansas City for Thanksgiving. The flights went fine-ish and it was a fun time away with family.IMG_20171129_142726_787.jpgI got my nose pierced while we were there mostly because I wanted to do something a little spontaneous 😉IMG_20171126_143441_934.jpgDecember Life is beginning to feel normal again. Aletheia is sleeping in her own room and Roman is sleeping through the night again after being disrupted by her arrival.

I had fun decorating a lot more than I normally do for Christmas and opening presents with Roman was super fun this year since he’s old enough to know what he wants—a crane and digger to be exact.IMG_20171215_215659_576.jpgIMG_20171209_184127_350.jpg


And here I thought it had been such a quiet year with nothing but a baby born. This is the beauty of looking back, of writing down and remembering. How sweet it has been to turn this past year over in my heart and mind and to remember all God has down every step of the way.

As I thought over the past twelve months, one thing kept coming to mind: All is grace. The moments so beautiful they catch in your chest and throat and you can’t breathe for a moment taking it all in. The moments so exhausting and hard you struggle to remember any of the beauty that came before it. All is grace. God is unfathomably good to give us any of it and to walk with us through every bit of it. IMG_20171231_141954_568.jpgSo whatever this new year may hold, I remind myself, all is grace. However beautiful. However hard. Every bit is breathed out in His love and mercy.

But this I call to my mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’ The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. Lamentations 3:22-25 (ESV)

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2018, I’m Coming For You

In my last post I shared about gearing up for the new year and said I would be sharing my goals for the new year this week—and I am. But before I do I’d just like to say that I wrote this post a couple weeks ago when I had time to sit and think through my hopes for the new year and since then I’ve been reminded often that while it’s good to have goals and a plan to stay on track, it’s equally important to remember that no matter how successful or unsuccessful I am in the upcoming year, absolutely nothing I do or don’t do will change my standing in Christ. I’m His. He’s mine. The most important work is already done in Him on my behalf.

So yes, I’ll do my best this year. I’ll wake up early. I’ll work hard. I’ll make progress. I’ll make mistakes. I’ll end 2017 with a messy house—dishes in the sink, bags not yet unpacked after arriving home late last night. I’ll roll out of bed tomorrow—the very first day of a new year with all these hopes and goals bound up in my heart. But I’ll also wake up the same person I am tonight. Those dishes will still be in the sink waiting to be washed. My preschooler will need the same correction and love as he does today. My baby will still need diaper changes and middle of the night feedings.

It will be a shiny, brand new year. And I like that. But I’m reminded all over again tonight to start that shiny new year with realistic expectations. Slapping 2018 on everything doesn’t really change anything unless I do. All the same hard work will still need to be done, all the same battles fought.

I hope the New Year is full of hope and growth for each of you. Thank you for being here and reading along as I tap out my heart and share my story here line by line; your support and encouragement mean so much to me ❤

That was a lot of words—sorry about that 😉 For the sake of holding myself accountable and perhaps inspiring you in your own goals for the New Year, here are my plans for 2018:

I thought through my resolutions in the categories that mostly make up my life—myself, my marriage and children, my faith, and our home.

For Myself

I will write my heart out in 2018. While I’ve written off and on for years, I want to write on a regular basis going forward. Darren and I worked out a system where I have some quiet time each week to focus on writing and I’m so thankful for his help and encouragement.

I will manage my finances well. I need to focus on a few heart matters concerning money—contentment, self-control, patience. How I spend or even think about spending says a lot about my heart and it’s an area needing improvement for sure.

I won’t yell at my family. I wrote about this more here.

I will use my phone and social media with discipline and intention. Practically speaking:

  • I’ll stay off my phone on the Sabbath and in the evening when our family is together.
  • I won’t scroll mindlessly, especially if it’s pulling my attention away from things that matter more like my children or a conversation.
  • I won’t carry my phone around with me everywhere and I’ll leave a book within arm’s reach to give me another option.

A few other things— I want to dream and live with a little bit of whimsy again; I kinda lost that after having kids. I also want to read a couple books each month and spend more time outside.

Spiritually

I will practice the Sabbath. Sunday, for me, is a really frustrating day. You want to sleep in but kids wake you up. You’re trying to get yourself and everyone else ready for church. After church, it’ a race against over-tired kids to get back home, eat lunch, and get everyone down for naps before a total meltdown (from the kids or me…depends on the Sunday).

After all that, I often find myself using Sunday as a day to play catch-up around the house, trying to get things cleaned up and ready for another week. So instead of heading into a new week rested and refreshed, I’m usually as tired as ever and frustrated about the weekend.

All that to say I’ve really felt God moving me to take the Sabbath seriously and to use the day for rest and worship as He intended.

I will test the power of prayer. I will start keeping a prayer journal for the first time this year and I also bought some really beautiful prayer journals for my kids to keep record of my prayers for them over the years. I want to see what God will do when I ask Him in faith.

I will dig into God’s Word each day and memorize specific passages of Scripture. 

Marriage & Children

I will invest in our marriage by creating time together and making the man I’m so lucky to love a top priority in my time and attention.

I will build our home on love and truth. Not on yelling and frustration. Not on ever-changing boundaries and expectations. But by daily, consistently living out love towards two of the most precious people I’ve been given to love and lead well.

I will block out time with my kids. It’s easy when you’re a stay-at-home mom to feel like your kids have more than enough time with you since you’re always there. But I’m learning being physically present and being really zeroed in on my kids are two very different things. To make sure I’m giving my children the individual, focused time they need, I’m blocking out a couple hours each morning to spend with just them doing what they love. I’m also blocking out time to take Roman on a special outing just the two of us each month.

I will start the day before my kids. Because momma needs coffee and five minutes alone before all the things. For me, this means getting up stupid e a r l y and I’m not even a morning person 😥 but I know it needs to happen so it’s gonna.

Home 

I will make our home a place we love. This needs its own blog post but I want home to really feel like home.

I will simplify and organize. I have this idea in mind that I always want to be “moveable.” And by that I mean, if we decided to pick and take off one day, I don’t want clutter and material things to slow us down. I want to own what we need and use and pretty much let everything else go. Which means I have some work to do.

I (and by I, I mean Darren) will (finally, officially) finish remodeling this house! Just. All of it. That’s all.

A n y w a y.

I know that’s probably more detail than some of you wanted or needed but it helps me to hash things out here and it also holds me accountable because now you know. So, if ever you catch me on my phone scrolling through Pinterest and yelling at people…well, you probably already knew that was wrong…but ya, nail me for it 😉

I know this word is really overused, but if there’s a single word I think sums up what I hope for 2018, it’s intention. I just want to live with intention, on purpose, thinking through our days and hours and not just showing up and trying to keep my head above water.

That and love. Love is kind of the thing that sums up all the other things and I really want to do a better job loving…loving God, loving people, even loving the life God’s called me to. I want to really live out love in my words and actions and not look back at 2018 wishing I had made more time and loved my people better and more.

So what are you all up to in the new year? Any great expectations? Do share ❤

 

I Am Resolved

IMG_20171213_180459_897.jpgThere are a few things I like that maybe most people don’t—Mondays for instance. While I’m no happier than anyone else to see the weekend over, I always enjoy a fresh start and Monday feels crisp and new at the beginning of another week. I get bogged down after a few false starts and mistakes and by the middle of a week or month, a fresh start and a little grace is certainly something to look forward to.

Soon people will be writing their New Year’s posts and sharing resolutions. Often, when doing this, people say something like, “I don’t normally do this,” or “I’m not a big fan of resolutions but…”. Well, I’ll just be up front and say I love the new year and I love resolutions. I like challenging myself and looking forward to the next step and I especially love a clean slate as we say goodbye to one year and start over with another.

I realize I won’t perfectly keep and fulfil every resolution I make—but it’s something to strive for and measure myself by when I’m knee-deep in living out what I originally set out to do.

This year I decided to try something different with the hope it will help me be more successful—and that’s to start practicing my New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of December instead of the first of January.

Por que?

Well, I figure a month-long trial run to work out the kinks and settle into habits early can’t hurt anyone, right? This gives me the opportunity to test out my goals and see if there’s anything that’s clearly not going to work with the season I’m in. And if I find that to be the case, I can axe it off my list now rather than feeling like a failure and getting discouraged right out of the gate come January.

This also gives me the opportunity to settle into habits and routines—which are basically how I survive right now with all the noise and chaos around me with littles. I get distracted easily and can’t deal with a lot of different things going on at once so it helps me a lot if I can go on autopilot for certain things and leave my mental energy to really concentrate on a few other things

So here’s how I’m getting myself organized for the new year and learning to live intentionally every single day:

I’m crushing hard on my day plannerlike, I might even name it 🙂

I’ve always liked pretty paper goods and keeping my head space cleared out by writing stuff down. But this coming year I’ve decided to be stupid detailed about it.

I found a planner that gives me a space to note birthdays and anniversaries by month. This way I can just look at the beginning of each month to see what’s happening and not stress about remembering everything in the moment. I have approximately 30,000 nieces and nephews who have a birthday every single year so a little help remembering is appreciated 😉

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In the same section, I made a list of family activities to try for each season. We often get to the weekend and want to get out to do something as a family but waste so much time trying to decide what to do that we don’t even end up going. So this will give us some ideas to look forward to and help get us out of the house and exploring. I included everything from visiting an apple orchard in the fall to spending the day at the ocean in the summer plus simpler things like getting ice cream, running to the lake, or going to the movies together.

Next, in the monthly section, I went through and wrote down absolutely everything I could anticipate happening in the next year from doctor visits to remembering to renew a driver’s license. Then I worked backwards making notes in the month before about what I need to do ahead of time to be ready for the next month. For instance, if there’s a birthday the next month, I note that and give myself time to get a gift before I’m on my way to the party. If there’s a prescription that will expire, I make note to schedule a doctor appointment before I need to head to the pharmacy.

I realize this is tediously detailed. But I realized something else too—this stuff is going to happen whether I’m prepared or not and planning ahead gives me the opportunity to stay on top of things instead of always running two steps behind like I normally do. I know things will not always go as planned and certainly there needs to be room for flexibility. But the goal is to autopilot the tedious things and leave margin and peace for the important stuff. Many of the things we do are really quite routine and predictable so there’s no reason to feel surprised, rushed, and frantic all the time if we think ahead a little.

IMG_20171218_053020_004.jpgStress and frustration do not get to rule in my heart and home this year. I want to create enough margin and a calm enough environment to focus my heart and time on what really matters to me—these three.

One other way I’m using my planner is to write down all of my goals and hopes for the upcoming year. And when possible, to put a due date on specific goals and write those dates down as a way of accountability throughout the year. I’ve set goals for myself personally, for my marriage and family, spiritually, and for our home and I’ll share more specifics about each of these in my next post.

Anyway, I hope this gets you excited thinking about a fresh start and a new year. His mercies are new every morning and how very thankful I am for that ❤

 

Introducing…

Aletheia Rae born July 21st at 1:37am, 7lbs and 20” long.IMG_20170804_180121_330

Her name is pronounced uh-lee-thi-uh and is the Greek word for “truth.”

She came 10 very long days late after I was finally induced—we assume she used the extra time growing all that hair. IMG_20170723_132056_902IMG_20170804_161803_661She and her brother are doing a fabulous job tag teaming someone being awake at all times but I think we’re going to keep her regardless ;]IMG_20170721_190017_264IMG_20170721_215341_888IMG_20170721_215210_339

The Good Stuff: Vol. 3

1496415057741{A weekly collection of the good things filling life with blessings and joy}

Holding On

  • To the things I love and dream about (writing, travel, dressing up) when I’m at a place in life where these could easily slip away and be forgotten about with all the other stuff demanding my attention right now.

Loving

  • Making my bed first thing each day lol. I know it’s silly, but I seriously can’t believe how much more organized and on-top of things I feel when I simply take two minutes to make the bed. For some reason, if the bed is left unmade, our whole room descends into chaos throughout the day with laundry landing everywhere and piles of “stuff” stacking up until I get to it later. But making the bed makes the whole room look more put together and apparently inspires me to keep the space cleaner. I feel like I should be giving a TedTalk on this or something :]

Letting Go

  • Of talking when words aren’t helpful or needed and learning to sit in the silence and listen to others when my own thoughts are better kept to myself for a time.

Looking Forward

  • To seeing my family soon and getting away on a family vacation ❤

What are you holding onto, letting go of, loving, or looking forward to this week?

The Good Stuff: Vol. 2

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{A weekly collection of the good things filling life with blessings and joy}

Holding On

  • To spring and all the little things we waited through winter to enjoy again– the sound of birds singing and peepers peeping, the warm breeze wrapping around me while I sit by the lake and watch my son play in the water, and all the lush, brand new green showing off like it’s been waiting all year to open up and let us see what it’s been working on. IMG_20170516_182621_982
  •  To naptime and having a few minutes to myself each day before 1) Roman grows out of napping or 2) I can’t get both Roman and the baby on the same schedule and someone is always awake (have mercy).

Loving

  • Maui Babe Browning Lotion. This stuff is legit. I picked a bottle up in Kauai last year and it’s seriously amazing. You add a little over top of some sun screen and you can have a nice tan quickly without spending tons of time in the sun– love it.
  • Watermelon. I’ve craved fruit, and watermelon in particular, like crazy with both pregnancies. Unfortunately, most of my pregnancy has been through the winter when watermelon is unavailable. Totally ate a whole watermelon by myself last week to make up for lost time; I regret nothing ;]

Letting Go

  • Of expectations. I’m trying to be more flexible and roll with life better instead of having everything planned out in my head and getting frustrated or disappointed when things don’t go as I imagined. There is a lot of joy to be found in taking life as it is rather than stewing over how you think it should have been.
  • Of the “stuff” that no longer serves us. It’s easy when you’ve invested time or money into something to feel guilty or wasteful about letting it go. But if something has become dead weight or clutter, I’m purging and leaving it behind. Stuff is just stuff and I’d rather have simplicity and peace of mind in the space we inhabit over holding onto material things that no longer meet our needs.

What are you holding onto, loving, or letting go of this week?

The Good Stuff: Vol.1

1494589931467I’ve noticed in myself a tendency to see the one thing that went wrong before I see the ten things that went right. In an effort to be more positive, grateful, and conscious of all the good around me, I’ve started jotting down little lists of things I’m thankful for or enjoying.

I thought it would be fun to share a few of these things here each Friday. I hope you enjoy :]

Holding On

  • To Roman being little and the time we have together with just him before his sister arrives.
  • To being pregnant and feeling my daughter move and grow. This final trimester of pregnancy can be hard and I often think, “I just want to be done!” I find myself daydreaming about a post maternity body and clothes and feeling like myself again. But I don’t know if we’ll have more children and I’m trying to savor and enjoy the incredible experience of being pregnant rather than rushing through and just wanting to have the whole thing behind me.

Loving

  • All the green! Though it’s still cool outside here, I’m loving all the flowers, blooming trees, and baby leaves beginning to pop up. And we have grass in our yard this year! This is huge after having the yard torn apart remodeling our house and spending last year with a brown, weedy, muddy mess of a yard. Give me all the green 😀
  • The Freckled Fox. I stumbled across Emily Meyers’ beautiful blog about a month ago and I’ve been so inspired by her words and mindset. Check her out!

Letting Go

  • Of worrying about what other people think of me. While I don’t want to be a jerk who cares nothing about what other people think, I also don’t want to live constantly concerned about how people see me or what they’ll think of me. In the end, most people don’t really know me that well or understand why I say, do, or think the way I do so I’m letting go of trying to please everyone else and learning to do what’s best from a place of sincerity rather than a place of fear and expectation.
  • Of eating out. That probably sounds silly but we spend way too much money eating out and grabbing food in the car between errands. I’ve noticed lately that for how much you spend eating out, the food generally isn’t that great. I can buy better food and cook a better meal at home for less so I’m trying to plan our days where we land at home for meal times rather than in the car scarfing down fast food.

What are you holding onto, letting go of, or loving?

Oh, Hello

So I promised in my last post that I’d come back here today and re-introduce myself as it’s been awhile and I’ve noticed a number of new faces lately.

So yes, uh, huh huh hi, hello, my name is Kari ;]

I’m originally from Missouri.

In college, I met a boy and he turned out to be not only stinking cute but also the love of my life. We celebrate nine years of marriage this summer and I’m so thankful I get to go through life with someone so fun and amazing by my side.

Seriously, this picture was taken Easter Sunday and I can’t stop staring at him and how handsome he looked. Here I am seven months pregnant and all chubby-ish and he’s just standing there smiling like he’s Magic Mike—I can’t get enough but I’ll stop ogling him via the internet now and move on ❤

IMG_20170416_103634_839Also, I have a two-year-old son who I completely adore 98% of the time. He’s hell-bent on destruction and completely insane but I realize where all of that came from and am rather partial to him.

IMG_20151023_095240And as before mentioned, I’m pregnant—baby #2 is coming this summer and I’ve spent the last 7 months warning her about her brother. I’m guessing she’ll be able to take him though because I have five brothers and I can take all of them at once…so she got dis ;]

I’ve lived in Massachusetts for the last nine years (thanks to Mr. Handsome up there).

Before I became a baby momma, I worked with my husband in aerospace. I say that because it makes me sound smart but really it was just a boring office job most of the time :]

I’m a Christian and write quite often about my faith.

I absolutely love bare feet, warm weather, and being outside. So I moved to New England (???). I cry like a baby from December through April because I have to stay inside or wear shoes. Everyone who lives anywhere near me is 1000% over hearing about it. I always swear I’ll have a better attitude at the start of each winter but I’m usually crying and complaining by the time the first flurries fly.

dsc_1356My husband and I love traveling and make trips a big priority in the way we budget and save money. If you think I cry about winter you should hear my husband cry about having to take a year off of traveling to have this baby ;] We’re both very restless, adventurous people and are always planning our next trip. Right now I’m dreaming of Ireland and Honolulu :]

img_20160917_174155.jpgIn 2013, we bought a dilapidated 1860s farmhouse thinking it was a good idea to remodel it ourselves. Ah hah hah hah…. we should have burnt it down. I’m just kidding… Four years and almost two kids later and we’re still working away (although we really are almost done and have enjoyed living here for the last 18 months).

DSC_0375I am mildly obsessed with leather bags, paper goods, capturing the perfect photograph, pasta, and like three people outside of my husband and son ;] No, I’m just kidding I seriously have at least five friends :]

So I hope that helps us get better acquainted for the moment. I would love to find out who’s reading this and what you’re like as well so go ahead and leave a comment introducing yourself if you like. I look forward to hearing from you ❤

—Kari

Memory

The summer air is tangible, thick,  heavy on my skin. Humidity hangs visibly in the hazy air.

The wind is blowing; it never stops blowing here. There is a restlessness in this place–a constant motion and sound cutting through the trees, bowing the prairie grass gently from side to side.

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Everything seems bigger than me–the grass to my waist, the scruffy trees I climb barefoot and brown, the sky stretching out in ocean spans above the endless rolling farmland. I disappear into the cornfield, feeling smaller still with prickly stalks over my head pressing in around me.

I find a dusty bare spot in the field–a circle of dirt where the tractor turned and no seed was planted. I can smell the corn, sweet and tangy. Everything smells green here–did you know green is a smell? I can remember it–the green–the smell of green grass, green crops, green trees. Everything was green and brown and blue— the sky, the dirt, the oceans of prairie grass swaying in that humid Midwest wind.

My bare feet are brown and dusty, callused as leather and as good on gravel as any pair of shoes. You don’t need shoes here–you can climb the trees better without them–toes moving confidently against scratchy bark and branch.

I was a tomboy then. A little bit wild. Scrappy. A girl… not a wife, not a mother. A wildflower and a dreamer making plans to leave and go somewhere bigger. I did not know then how hard it might be to find a place bigger than a Midwest summer–bigger than that sky or those swaying fields of crop.

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I left. I married. I became a mother. I saw the worlds I dreamt of under apple trees and night sky.

It’s good. I’m happy. I’m proud.

But I’d give almost anything for one more day under the Missouri sun–barefoot, brown, laying in a cornfield watching the clouds roll by. I’d lay there til the stars came out. I’d watch the fireflies dance in diamond bands across the still-hot night air. I’d listen to the peepers and crickets sing their song in chorus with that ever-moving breeze. I’d hold on to the smell of green–breathing a little deeper and tucking away that Midwest magic in the pockets of my heart and soul. I’d whisper to my tomboy heart, “You’ll need these someday so hold on.”