Dear Sweet Child of Mine,

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know. “
~Ernest Hemingway

When I was pregnant with my first child, I did what many newly expectant mothers do: I kept a journal. I waxed of every kick and squirm, every decision we made in planning his birth, even about all those tomatoes I was craving. I managed to keep up with the journal for a few weeks following his birth, but then life with a new baby set in and somewhere between the piles of diapers and the sleepless nights, the journal was, well, forgotten.

When my baby was six months old, I woke early one morning and listening to the sweet call of the birds, I realized, as cliché as it sounded, how fleeting these moments with my baby were. How he would never know about this precious time or those chubby little thighs, his coos and gurgles that made me swell with so much love. He would never know, unless I told him. So, with his sweet sleepy sighs nearby, I sat down and wrote him a letter.

Many of us do all the things we can to record our children’s upbringing: photo albums, keepsake boxes, locks of hair, quilts pieced together with bits of first clothes, videos on YouTube for far away friends and family to keep up with their growing, handprints in plaster, scraps of the blankies and first stuffed friends. The ways in which we record (and in most ways hope to preserve) this special time are varied and all special in their own way. But a letter is something different, something altogether and all at once unique, heartwarming, and distinctively extraordinary.

Why write letters?
It is a well-known fact that good old-fashioned letter writing is becoming (or maybe even already has become) a lost art form. Perhaps it is time to have a letter writing revival. The best place to start? With our children. And in today’s world of texting and emails, writing letters to children may have never felt so intimidating or “outdated”. Still, letters from the people we love will always have a special place in all our hearts. Even more, letters in our own handwriting, offer an extra special memento that makes any snapshot in time that much more treasured.

What to put in a letter
The first letter I wrote to my son, was truly a letter, as if written to a far off friend, catching him up on my life, as well as his. It was a baby book and diary all rolled into one. Since then, we’ve penned him similar ones, but also poems, stories about special moments, and songs. We’ve written quick notes telling him we loved him, goofy limericks, and even dramatized stories based on his real life and the antics of his childhood. And for pre-readers, a letter full of hand drawn pictures that portray the moments you want to share is perfectly wonderful! The ways and means of writing letters to our children are as varied as the children who will receive them, and just as special.

When to write a letter
The intervals at which you write letters to your child can range from a daily lunch box note to a yearly narrative. If it can become a ritual, such as on the child’s adoption, birth, or other commemorative day, then you will be more likely to keep doing it year after year. Consider balancing some special, smaller notes with longer more heartfelt letters.

What to do with the letter
When each of our children were born, we purchased a trunk for their special “keepsakes”. In them we place newspapers from the day they were born and other special days in their history, first clothes, special gifts, and of course their yearly letters (and other little ones in between). Sometimes, I place letters within photo albums, pack them in a lunch, stick them on the fridge, or tuck them in whatever book they are reading.

Did you know that April is National Letter Writing Month in the US? Quick, before the month is over, write a few words to your children today and tuck it away for their tomorrows.

laundry lists

According to Urban Dictionary, "Laundry list" refers to a "list of characteristics or items that are generally considered to be mundane or distasteful. Items on the list tend to pile up, just like dirty laundry."

We all have them, the things we don't really want to do. The dishes, the yard work, the taxes, the laundry. To face a past, confront creative blocks, or what we will (need to) do tomorrow. Tomorrow. I've recently felt overwhelmed by some, um, moments of procrastination. Luckily, I had some beauty and new favorite words to pull me out of it and back on track with all the things that are blessing my path.

There are literally hundreds of passages in Karen Maezen Miller's new book Hand Wash Cold that I want to share with you, remember, stamp on my forehead, write onto post-its and stick to my bathroom mirror, but I'll stick with this one from the opening chapter:

So, as my story goes, my "laundry list" feels both full of stuff to do and wonderful potential for holding onto every moment as it comes, for every little lesson it might offer. There's always something going on, and I vow to fully experience every bit of it without putting worth or value or judgement on it.

And if that's not enough, go read some of Karen's words on creativity. They will touch you in the most creative and extraordinarily mundane ways. ;) At least I hope they do.

oh, fresh laundry... it's just so full of beauty!

Have I ever mentioned how very rarely I promote books and products? Have I mentioned how when I do, and even if I link to a book on a for-purchase site, I don't ever receive a kick back nor am part of any affiliate program. I just don't believe in it. I just want to share and don't believe that I one can honestly do so if I am being paid if someone buys it. Just sayin', that's all.

Anyhow, have you heard about my new favorite book?

In the next few days, I will share a few words and moments from my heart, but here's a little teaser just in case you need one:

Read an excerpt here.

savoring the breaks

Mealtime when you have a baby in the house is often thought of as work for mama. I consider it a break, a reason to just sit, admire my baby’s chubby little toes and cheeks, knowing that she is nourished fully and completely in the best way she can be. But I also consider it time to savor simplicity, to not multitask, to remind myself that every moment with my children, with myself, with my husband, with my fears, with my creativity, with cooking, with my laundry is absolutely perfect and absolutely the way it is. It is a time to just be. To savor.

I just finished reading Karen Maezen Miller’s new book Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for An Ordinary Life. I had to read it during breaktimes, little gathered moments when the flurry settled and I found myself in a room full of quiet. I had to do it when everyone else was quiet and in the room with me because they wanted to hear the book too. It was that good. To say I love Hand Wash Cold is an understatement. Because I love what I live and I am living Hand Wash Cold. It really is the best memoir I have read in a long, long time. It’s Eat, Pray, Love without all the whining. It’s The Glass Castle without all the stones being thrown. It’s pure laundry that has been hung out on the line, and the sun shines through it and it is crisp.
But it’s not just a memoir either. Karen’s voice is true and honest, simple and forward, witty and thoughtful... something that is a breath of freshness that offers insight and instruction to the savoring we all seem to be striving for.

In the next week I plan to talk about a few of the words Karen speaks that touched me in that particularly common way, that perfect simpleness that just makes you smile. Please stop in this week for a bit of extra care with the commonplace. And read Karen’s new book, or her blog, or both. You really will be glad you did.

funky nests in funky places

We just love finding bird nests! We find them while hiking, driving, in parking structures, there's even one at the entrance to our favorite grocery store. Once a bird built a nest (and laid her eggs) on top of a spring wreath we had hanging on the door. But the best nest ever was the one built inside Grammy's house, on the fireplace, when the roof was being replaced.

So we're especially excited about about Celebrate Urban Birds Funky Nests in Funky Places program. It begins tomorrow, April 15th, so get out your cameras and your bird nest peepers. It's time to do some detective work!