Countdown to Christmas Giveaway: Creating Wonder and Magic for a Child Through Traditions

Welcome to M2M’s Season of Giving: Count Down to Christmas Giveaway! Come back each week to catch a sneak peak of new, featured products that will be included in the big, blog redesign giveaway package on December 15th to celebrate Made to Mother’s 1st “blog-iversary!” This week’s highlighted products are BOTH ebooks, OhAmanda’s Truth in the Tinsel and 5 copies of Sarah Mae’s More Than Candy. Both are affiliate links, meaning I receive a portion of any sales clicked-through these links. Thanks for supporting Made to Mother!

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When I think back upon my holiday memories as a child, I remember that I loved traditions the most…Christmas Eve service as a family, with the unshakable anticipation of opening gifts after we got home in the back of my mind the entire time. Warm drinks, cozy treats and pjs while we unwrapped gifts as a family of five in our living room; the heat of our wood stove and the radiant tree lights in the backdrop for years of memories. Us kids could barely sleep that night as we waited with baited expectation for the festivities to come the next day…early morning stockings from Santa, delicious, sugary breakfast treats we rarely got any other day like cinnamon rolls, pancakes or waffles! Then, it was off to my aunt’s house for our annual Christmas party with my mom’s family, playing a gift exchange game and eating lunch. My brothers and I dragged all our new gifts and stocking snacks with us to keep us busy and as evening approached, we headed to our next destination, the best yet; grandma’s house on my father’s side. It would be dark by the time we got there and we would be the last to arrive. My uncle, aunt and our only other cousins, all adults, would be waiting for us with eggnog, a deliciously huge holiday dinner, Christmas records blasting music, and festively-wrapped packages trailing out from under the tree and down the hall. It would be late into the night when we finally piled into our family car, stuffed with food and the trunk packed with gifts and leftovers. We always fell asleep on the drive home, sugar plums and toys dancing in our heads and our hearts full of love, family and fun.

Now, many years later, with children and a home of my own, it is these special family traditions and memories that I want to surround my family with, so that one day my kids will also look back in fondness to the sounds, tastes and smells that come with this beautiful season. But there is also something else I want to instill in my children, which it never seems like my parents were able to break through to me; the importance of this season of giving, of charity and of kindness to others, mirrored in the love that came from the birth of a tiny baby so long ago. Of course, I remember my parents trying, but I was too selfish to want to think of anything else other than gifts and food and fun. How can I expect to do any better with my own kids when the television, wish book catalogs from the newspaper and all their friends in school keep shouting at us, “buy buy buy!” “Gimme Gimme Gimme!” “Me me me!!!”

I’m not completely sure if I will ever be able to compete with all of these other voices, but for right now, we are starting with where I have always found the most beauty of this season…in tradition. In addition to the shopping, food and gift customs the holidays bring, we have decided as a family to begin and continue a few other important traditions to help us remember the true “reason for the season.”

One of our favorite ways to do this is by choosing a daily devotion advent activity to do as a family through the month of December. There are some fantastic apps, books and hands-on kits out there to choose from that are more educational and spiritual than the silly little chocolate punch-holes that you find at the dollar store. Last year, we used Truth in the Tinsel (affiliate link), a crafty way to talk about Christ’s birth and the Bible throughout the whole month of December. And with it, we also got to add a whole new bunch of ornaments to our collection! We liked it so much, in fact, that I modified it to use each week of advent in our small church’s Sunday school. And now they offer a church curriculum version, too. This year, we are doing More Than Candy (affiliate link), which I love because it gives us 25 days of activities to do for others, serving in our community and showing the love of Christmas in real, tangible ways, outside of our home during the holiday season.

Another tradition I like to make sure we keep is reading the Christmas story on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. However, with children ages 7, 5 and 2 in our home, it’s not always gripping for them when we read it straight from our NIV Bible. So we like to find other creative and fun ways to hear and tell the story over and over again each year. Sometimes we read it from a children’s bible, or listen to an animated re-telling of it on an audio CD, but my favorite way is letting the kids have full creative control in sharing it. The older ones that have heard the story time and time again can often do a great rendition and almost always get all the key facts in the right order. It is also really fun to let them recreate it by putting on a play! Nothing is cheerier than watching three children play out multiple characters and ad-lib the funniest made-up lines. Sometimes there are two Marys because sisters don’t want to take turns and we have even seen vigilante angels storm the castle of Herod in defense of baby Jesus! Of course, the adults often get in on it by the end to play an odd shepherd or a forgotten wise man, too.

Finally, as we buy the food for our holiday menu and wrap our many gifts, I like to remind our children that there are so many others out there that are not as fortunate as we are. We think of ways as a family that we can help those in need and perhaps make the season a little brighter for a few others. Some of the ideas we have come up with include visiting a soup kitchen or holiday pantry and donating food and our time to pass it out. Our kids have their own “Boxing Day,” where we choose at least as many toys or items that we got as gifts and donate them to a charitable second hand store or give to others. Lastly, and one of the most impactful has been participating in Giving Trees or Adopt-A-Family, of which this year, we have chosen The Evans Family.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions? How do you make sure your family keeps the right spirit this time of year?

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Welcome to M2M’s Adoption Month Series & Motherhood Monday

It’s finally here! Happy November and welcome to an exciting month-long series here at M2M on ADOPTION! Each week throughout the National Adoption Month of November, I’ll be sharing real stories from real adoptive mothers, adoptees, birth moms and adoption organizations. I hope you’ll come back each week and read them.

Adoption is super close to my heart, most specifically for the cause of the birth mother. I love to champion for birth moms because I feel their pain. I am one. When I was a twenty year-old college sophomore, I made some really poor decisions that led to an out-of-wedlock pregnancy with no way or will to support a child. But instead of seeking help, I chose to ignore all the signs, not think about my problems and hide my pregnancy from everyone around me except my best friend. She continued to encourage me to do the right thing, but with the stress of school and other family problems swirling around me, I just couldn’t think past my own selfishness. It wasn’t until I was just weeks away from my due date that I forced myself to realize and prepare for the inevitable. I confided in another friend at school who could help me take care of myself, make plans and eventually take me to the hospital in time to deliver a tiny, but precious baby boy. It was only by the grace of God that he was healthy, that I found him a loving family to adopt him and that I was able to keep my secret until years later when I was finally ready to work through it, and find healing. I wrote a memoir about that time in my life, not only to help me though the healing process, but to hopefully help other birth moms through their own healing as well.

Each corner of the adoption triad has it’s bumps and bruises. It’s never how it looks on TV or what the adoption literature and profiles want to make it appear like. It is not even close to being all roses and sunshine. Like life, adoption on all fronts is hard, it’s emotional and it’s messy. From the outside, it may just look like ordinary parenthood, but there are a whole slough of even more things to work through. There is loss, nature vs. nurture, abandonment issues and sometimes a lot of therapy. But there is a beautiful side to adoption as well, an important, necessary  and redeeming side. There are so many babies and children in this world, in this country, that need parents. They need loving, stable homes with safe grown-ups who will love them through the tantrums, through the issues, through the mess. And there are parents without children. Women who want to be mothers, but cannot without help or those amazing families that feel called to take the needy in. Adoption is a beautiful bridge between these two heartbreaking places and it deserves to be celebrated. I hope this month you’ll grab a cup of something warm, a snuggly blanket and some tissues and join me each week in hearing these brave families’ stories of heartache, hope and healing.

Do you have an adoption story to share?  I would love to hear it and possibly even feature it here! Please contact me at wynter@madetomother.com

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And now for the monthly Motherhood Monday Link Up! Please also visit M2M on Twitter @made2mother and like on Facebook.com/madetomother!

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Grab the Link Up button!

The Made to Mother Project is dedicated to encouraging, supporting and inspiring women by sharing their stories of motherhood. I hope that this link-up will continue to grow our community of mothers. Please read the guidelines below for information on how to join!

LINK UP GUIDELINES

  • Please post family-friendly topics/websites. Bonus points if they have to do with mothering!
  • Be sure to link back to your blog post not your homepage.
  • Share the Linky love – visit a page or two linked up here and leave them a nice comment.
  • Oh, and a link back to Made to Mother using the button above or a sweet shout-out would be awesome, too!

A Changed Life: What I took Home from #Allume

In addition to a large box of books, notepads, keepsakes and trinkets that I had to hike ten blocks in the hot, South Carolina sun and find a UPS office to ship home for $27, I boarded my 6 am flight home to Portland, Oregon with so much more. A head exploding with new information, thoughts and ideas to write about, a heart full of new contacts and friends and their warm stories. And a body weary from the hustle and bustle that only a cross-country trip for five days at a blogging conference with hundreds of other women can produce.

I got the chance to meet some of my favorite bloggers, authors and speakers, listen in on some amazing, life-changing sessions and keynote lectures. Nearly all day long for three days I was able to engage in deep and heart-wrenching conversations with new acquaintances from all over the world and in every sort of walk of life and circumstance. I made business connections and networked with big names in Christian literary agencies and publishing companies and spoke with several remarkable philanthropic organizations that aid and serve people in varying cultures living through a multitude of tragic events and conditions. And I shared a tiny room with three women I had never met before, who, by the end of the conference have become dear and hopefully, life-long friends.

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Of course I had my expectations and preconceived notions of what Allume was going to be like. Some were unrealistic or just wishful thinking that didn’t come true. Others were fears and apprehensions that for the most part were relieved and overcome. I forced myself to get out of my comfort zone and work up the courage to talk with complete strangers about my writing and the Made to Mother Project, exchanged business cards and asked for social media follows. I pushed away the initial feelings of envy and competition to really listen to other writers, authors and “mommy bloggers,” and I ignored the “not good enough” thoughts that nagged at my soul as I listened to the wisdom of those who have gone before me and have twice (or six times) the platform or book deals that I have. I learned to encourage and cheer on others, practice TRUE hospitality in many different forms, and to change my default mindset from one of of categorizing and comparisons to blessing and reassuring others. Finally, I came away from Allume with the new mantra to trust Him with this calling I have received, to write the story that was assigned to me, work my own patch of land that He has allotted and to repeat, repeat, repeat.

Allume seriously changed my life last week. It reconnected and uplifted my faith in Christ and it gave me the motivation and help to adjust my self-talk and trust God more with my tiny little microphone IN HIS TIME. And, on a completely different note, it gave me a front-row, inside look at the SOUTH. And, wow, I fell in love with that part of our country! I drank gallons of sweet tea, consumed plates of grits; I adored the “y’alls” and drawls and simply cherished the downright, sweet southern hospitality of everyone I met there. And I will be back. Soon.

In the meantime, I have resolved to take a little time off from my crazy obsession of blogging, promotion and social media to rethink, reevaluate and refocus myself. Countless Allume speakers convicted me to spend more authentic time with my family and community, and realign my writing priorities and future so they fall UNDER my first priority as a wife, mom and friend. That being said, as November quickly approaches and with it a big month of sharing adoption stories here at M2M, you are going to see fewer personal posts and less participation in linkups and promotions. I want my family to know that they are the most important job I have; I want more of others and less of me, and I want God to receive ALL the glory through the continuing work of the Made to Mother Project. So, thank you, Allume, for an amazing week of self-reflection and transformation to live more intentionally, love bigger and embrace true hospitality!

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5 Things My #Allume Roomies Should Know About Me

This is getting real. I am going to #Allume this week…in 2 days, 6 hours and 23 minutes to be exact. I am leaving my three kids with my husband in the middle of the week to get on a plane and fly across the country to Greenville, SC for the Allume Conference for four whole days. I still can’t believe it. I am excited. I am nervous. I just might throw up.

Allume is this amazing community of Christian women who write, blog or aspire to. They hold a conference each fall to refresh, encourage and spur on women writers through inspirational speakers, fellowship gatherings and skills workshops. And this year, I GET TO GO! I first heard about Allume last winter when I began this crazy blogging journey. I knew it would be good for me to attend a blogging conference and there were three that I was mulling over. I finally settled on Allume mostly because of Sarah Mae, a blogging hero of mine.

I went shopping last week for new clothes, jewelry and a new purse so I can attempt to fit in with all the gorgeous, stylish and professional women that I know are coming. I’m packing my husband’s laptop (mine is being sent away for warranty repair), several notepads and pens, blog and book business cards and (gulp) a M2M book proposal that I have been working tirelessly on for an interview with a literary agent. Please cross your fingers, toes and whatever else you can that I don’t blow this!

So, now for the real question you are wondering about…why am I posting about this??? Well, in addition to gearing up for next week’s adoption month series and preparing for my trip, I have nothing else ready to post, nor do I have the time to promote it this week. Also, a couple weeks ago, one of my conference roommates that I haven’t yet met in person wrote a post on her blog about a few things we should know about her. She then challenged us to do the same and last week, Allume echoed that challenge, so here goes. To Aprille at Beautiful in His Time, Katie from Wonderfully Made and Jennifer from Jennifer’s Life Between:

1. Even though a test I took in high school said I am an extrovert, I can be really shy, awkward and self-depreciating at first. But get me talking and watch out, I might dominate the conversation. I am getting better at asking reciprocating and insightful questions, but if I’m a little hesitant, don’t give up on me. And if I talk too much, please feel free to tell me to shut up or take a breath and then talk about yourself.

2. Sometimes I talk, shout and laugh in my sleep. Sorry. BUT, I’m super nervous and we probably will be going to sleep very late every night anyway, which hopefully will help me sleep so deeply…or restlessly because I am so nervous. Either way, hopefully I won’t have time to sleep-talk.

3. Next to all the scheduled events and my aforementioned interview with a literary agent, I have no plans and know no one there. As such, I’m extremely nervous about striking up conversations with complete strangers and terribly afraid of having no one to talk to and sit with, so please include me on anything that you can!

4. I’m not much of a dress-up, hair and make-up, fancy person like I used to be when I was younger. In fact, since I had children and became a SAHM, I am pretty sad to say that I have gotten frumpy and not super stylish. I am trying to fix this, though, perhaps a little too forcefully as I went shopping last week literally just for this conference. So, any styling tips and shameless compliments would be much appreciated!

5. If I could pick ONE post from M2M that is my all-time, must-read favorite it would have to be: When Good Enough Just Isn’t and Living a Simpler Life. Okay, yes, I know that’s two. I just couldn’t help myself. Enjoy!

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When Life Won’t Slow Down

So, in the summer, life is crazy. Plans are spontaneous and vacations abound. Then the fall comes and I’m like, “Thank GOD! We can finally slow down, get back to a routine and enjoy autumn.” Yeah right. School starts and the season changes and, yes, we do have a routine, but is it really less chaotic than the summer? I don’t think so. I still have an older child to get to school on time, homeschool lesson plans to create, finalize, print off and teach, 4 different lunches to make, dinner to plan and prep, babies to change and get down for naps, and oh yes, A BLOG to write, promote and answer emails for!

And then, because it is fall, I’m crazily sorting, cleaning, tagging and boxing up outgrown clothes, shoes and toys to sell at my favorite children’s and maternity consignment sale, for which I also do the marketing and PR. AND, lucky me, hunting season is about to begin, which means I will not see my husband, and my children will not see their father every weekend for nearly the entire months of October and November. Which also equates to having fewer mommy-sanity breaks during these two months, either. (sigh)

So, suffice to to say that I am run very ragged right now and I apologize if I am not answering emails or posting amazing motherhood stories as frequently as I had hoped. I’m certain it will get better soon. Of course then the HOLIDAYS will be here. Who am I kidding? I seriously think I have this misconceived notion in my head that life will slow down, but honestly it never does! Oh well, it certainly keeps me on my toes and prevents boredom, though, doesn’t it?

All that being said, while I try to keep my head above the water at home and prepare for the AMAZING upcoming “adoption month” stories I have planned for you in November, I’d like to repost some of my favorite oldie, but goody mama stories. I hope you enjoy!

A Mentor, Teacher-Mother: Lana’s Story
You don’t have to have biological or legal children to be a mother. Sometimes, a woman can take on a mothering role in the lives of others as a mentor and teacher. Lana’s story is a beautiful example of this precious and important job.

A Life of Adventure:  Beth’s Story
Life can throw us all sorts of curve balls; teen pregnancy, single motherhood, blended families. Motherhood is an adventure and Beth’s story paints an exciting picture of how life can be full of adventure as well if we choose to never let circumstances get us down.

Grown to Mother: Kara’s Story
There are working mothers, stay-at-home mothers, part-time mothers and to each her own. But sometimes we get to the middle of our lives and wonder if what we did was right. If the sacrifices were worth it. And then we reach a crossroads; where will we go from there? Kara shares her own personal struggles with this in her powerful, ‘coming into her own’ story.

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Living Intentionally Instead of Longing for the Past: A Little M2M Guest Post Action

If there is a crossroads between young and old, I think I have arrived there. At 34, I feel like I have one foot in my youth and one foot over the threshold of being old. Now, before you laugh and dismiss me on this, take a moment to ponder it for yourself. If you are older than me, think back to a time where you felt like you could still very clearly remember the angst of your teenage years, the rebelliousness of being a young adult, the bliss of your newlywed years, and the tenderness of carrying, birthing and cradling your first newborn. Then, as the years went on and you matured and watched your babies grow, those memories of youth began to fade and the wisdom of adulthood took its place. Life, once simple, became more complicated and although its simplicity is still reflected in the eyes and chattering of your children, it has nearly become lost on you….

Continue reading over at What Joy is Mine, where I have the incredible honor of guest posting this week. Enjoy!

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Like what you see here on M2M? Want to add your voice? Share your own story of motherhood? I would love to feature you! Please contact me and I will be happy to send you the specs for content. I hope to hear from you soon!

*THAT* First Day of School Blog Post

Every year it is the same…”back to school” ads in the paper and on TV, every store window looks like the perfect dorm room, there are fewer school-age children at our favorite daytime play places and, last but not least, my Facebook newsfeed is filled with “first day of (fill-in-the-blank) grade” pictures of happy, new clothes-clad, chalkboard-holding school children.

Years ago, as a mom of babies, I hardly recognized the switch from summer to fall, save for the changing colors of leaves, the crisper air and my abundant garden needing to be preserved. When my oldest was in preschool we decided to homeschool, so the beginning of the fall school year meant 1-3 days of an hour or two at home and some fun “field trips”to the local pumpkin patch. It wasn’t until last year, when we decide to put her into public school kindergarten, that the enormity of back-to-school-ism really hit our family. We bought our school supplies, took our “first day of kindergarten” pictures and posted them on social media, just like the rest of the world. But, still, it was only half-day kindergarten. I still had one preschooler and one baby at home and it never REALLY felt too serious. Flash forward to this year. Our oldest is in all-day 1st grade, our middle child in homeschool prekindergarten and our baby in homeschool pre-preschool. This. Is. Serious. (And for those of you with ALL your children in all-day school, please don’t laugh.)

Our first grader is attending a very cool, very sustainable, very HIPPIE charter school here in our home town. School days are Monday through Thursday 8:50-3:05 and Fridays until 1:05. They have art twice a week…real, actual ART (gasp!), recess every day outside, rain or shine (and hello, this is Portland, Oregon so that means RAIN for much of the next seven months) and they take a walking “out and about” each week. So, for our back-to-school supplies this meant a $90 waterproof jacket from REI, $60 Bogs rain boots that keep footsies cozy and dry in 10 degrees, a reusable water bottle and lunch box filled with gluten, nut and sugar-free, organic items in recyclable or reusable bags and containers. (Insert husband’s gag.)

Phew! It’s only the 2nd week of school and I’m already exhausted! Not to mention, I cried like a baby when she and my husband left on the first day and I stayed home with the younger two (a scheme we devised last year on her first day of kindergarten so I wouldn’t exhibit said crying at the school and embarrass my big girl). Ironically, however, when I assumed the task of dropping her off on the SECOND day of school, the crying fit came anyway. Aaaaand, to make matters worse, I feared all day long on the first day that I had forgotten to get her. 11:40 rolled around and as I’m making the other two lunch, I panicked thinking I should have left to pick her up already, only to remember that I still had over THREE MORE HOURS. Geeeez! My days have never felt so long! How am I going to last another nine months of this! Forget that, how am I going to last the next 12 years?!!

There’s hope for me, right?! I’m ready for this, yes? (No.) YES!

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When ‘Good Enough’ Just…Isn’t

As a writer (and probably every other profession out there), we are always looking for the next, big thing. That next, super-popular post gone viral, our 15 minutes of fame, or a new, original and undiscovered idea. And when we have it, we revel and bask in the glory, for a moment, that we have produced something quality, worthwhile and meaningful. Until the light fades and our public moves on to something newer, better or flashier. And we are left, once again, to frantically search and grasp for that next thrill, that next great idea; something that will be good enough to get the attention of the masses…again.

Every time this happen on this crazy wheel of blogging, I ask myself, what if I’m not good enough? What if I cannot come up with something else? What if eventually those great ideas and posts just run dry? What if I can never achieve that NEXT thing? What if…?

As a blogger, I compete with hundreds of thousands of other writers and websites for my readers’ attention. I’m up against very talented women who blog about family, crafts, homeschooling, marriage, Christian living, recipes, and on and on and on. Even so, I like to consider myself in a smaller niche of writers where I won’t post the healthiest and tastiest crock pot recipe, the best tips and tricks on being an organized, homeschooling SAHM, or the most beautiful, pinterest-ready image featuring my amazingly inspiring words of wisdom about godly parenting and marriage. And unless I think it is absolutely something my readers cannot live without, you won’t find shamelessly promoted affiliate links or randomly advertised products within my content.

I consider Made to Mother a ministry….a nonmoney-making space where woman can feel refreshed or encouraged in their trials and triumphs of motherhood by reading about other’s similar stories or sharing their own. But, despite this resolve, I still have to compete with the many, many, MANY other bloggers out there who want the same readers’ attention. And I admit, I dream of the day when I have thousands of hits a day on my site, so many entries for stories that I have to turn some away and even more comments, likes and followers than I can keep up with. Granted, I am not there yet, but I think that for only having started M2M seven months ago, it is doing fairly well. Still, those “what ifs” are always in the back of my mind and I am consistently forced to lay this blog and its future at the feet of the One who has orchestrated and placed a writing burden on my heart.

So, when I feel that I am not good enough, that Made to Mother is not good enough, I remind myself that He IS and I trust that He will guide both as long as He sees fit.

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Living a Simpler Life

So, last week I found myself without my mobile phone for five whole days. “Somehow” the screen got cracked, rendering it completely useless until a repair shop could get the right part and fix it. Utterly unprepared, I found myself thrust into a world without data packages, instant text messaging and social media at my very whim. A world that I have grown unfamiliar with. For five days, I had no more games, emails, weather reports and calendar appointments to check from bed, in waiting rooms or at stoplights. I couldn’t take an instant picture whenever I wanted, call a friend if I needed or get quick directions on the fly.

It made me realize just how dependent I am on such a fragile technology. That in an instant, I could lose all access to my “cloud,” my daily planner and countless pictures and videos that I had saved in that little 3×5 black hole. For five days, I used my husband’s phone to make calls, I hand-wrote all my appointments for the day, complete with addresses and directions, I used only my laptop for checking Facebook, emails and the weather. And for five days, I was transported back in time, to where things were just a little less plugged-in and a little more simple.

I’m always inspired by reading blogs on living unwired and hands-free or the wistful historical fiction and Amish fiction novels which describe living a little slower, without power and all the technology that make our lives today so fast-paced. It reminds me of a simpler time just 20 years ago, being raised in the country without the internet, cable television or a million hand-held devices. Sure, we watched a lot of TV (all six channels that we had!) But we also played outdoors on my parents’ vast eighteen acres of hills and old-growth fir trees, using our imaginations and reading books.

Even seven years ago when I began having my own babies, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest an (gasp!) blogging didn’t consume hours upon hours of my day. I didn’t even have a data package on my “smart phone” blackberry. I “blogged” by writing each day in the stained, yellowed pages and fading ink volumes that I’d been keeping since the 5th grade.

But, here we are today in a world where everything is fast-paced, automatic and viral and I find myself longing to slow down a bit, go back to my roots and do things a little old fashioned, sometimes. I love the music genre of country (cringe, I know!) and one of my favorite country singers is the beautiful and spunky Miranda Lambert, whom I’ve been a fan of since her first album came off the heels of winning Nashville Star, the American Idol for country music. Her recently released song, “Automatic” rings so clear and true for me along these lines of desiring a simpler life:

“What ever happened to waiting your turn, doing it all by hand? Because when everything is handed to you, it’s only worth as much as the time put in. It all just seemed so good the way we had it; back before everything became automatic”

Her lyrics discuss exactly how I feel torn between worlds and memories from the past…putting a quarter in a pay phone, drying laundry on the line, recording the top songs from the radio on a cassette tape, letter writing with stamps and three-day delivery times, car windows with the hand cranks and Polaroid pictures that you “shake.”

I feel like I have made feats to bring myself back to a simpler life in some ways. I am a full-time SAHM; we’ve used cloth diapers on all three of our babies and I homeschool our preschoolers. I have a huge garden where I spend most of my springs, summers and early falls and then preserve much of its produce by canning, freezing and drying for the winter months. We don’t have AC in the house, so on warm, summer days, I despise the hot clothes dryer heating up our home and hang much of our laundry on a line in the backyard. I also enjoy making most of our meals from scratch, with fewer ingredients like bread, cakes and casseroles, rather than from a can or box.

So, five days after the “black-out” I had my phone back in all it’s glory…along with three missed calls, two voicemail messages and ten unanswered texts, but I had a new resolve not to allow myself to get too attached or dependent on this fragile devise. Because even though we have in-home Wi-Fi for our laptops, smart phones and iPad and own nearly every Disney movie  ever made on dvd, it is still important to me to have a healthy balance of an unplugged life, full of the richness, innocence and beauty that sometimes only the “old-fashioned” things can offer…and that a shattered screen cannot take away. And I hope to instill in my children that despite the modern conveniences of this world, we can still live in moderation and keep some things in life a little simpler.

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Land that I Love

Well, I’m about 749 miles away from home in sunny California, just enjoying some family time, celebrating my husband’s birthday, and soaking up A LOT of warm rays!

I had hoped to have a new story of motherhood to post this week, but in true blogging fashion, especially when the majority of my content consists of other people’s stories, things got switched around and M2M was left with a big, huge gaping hole. Hmm…what to fill it with? How about some beautiful pictures of our amazing country, in celebration of our nation’s birthday this week? Okay, twist my arm!

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So, happy 238th birthday, USA, you don’t look a day over 237! And may God continue to bless!

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Oh, beautiful, for spacious skies

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For amber waves of grain

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For purple mountain majesties

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Above the fruited plain

America! God shed His grace on thee!

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And crown thy good with brotherhood

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From sea to shining sea!