Getting Personal

Change by Kate Brightbill

I'm a bit out of sorts. 

It's nearly the end of the summer and I had a meltdown late last week about all of the to-do's on my list left undone. I scrambled to paint the girls' room this weekend with Brian, in a great effort to appease my own critique of my summertime under-achievements. I've been cleaning my heart out to recover from our vacation and my painting efforts. 

I'm fumbling a bit these days. I've been calm, cool, collected and comfortable for awhile, so it's about time that I go a bit out of my comfort zone, yes? I've had my children, learned the ropes of motherhood, and have been on coast for a bit. Now we're about to embark on a whole new era of motherhood- the era of pencils and papers and unfamiliar faces and teachers and friends... and I'm a bottle of self-doubt and nerves. Somehow having a clean home and having the girls' room a fresh white rather than the terrible green we inherited seemed the potion to settle me back into confidence about the pending newness, but it hasn't. 

In truth, when I sit to consider all things, I am confident in my five-year-old. I know she loves people, she is sweet, she is social, she is smart, she is capable. She will thrive in a classroom, being taught by a teacher with the patience I lack, gaining skills and knowledge I wouldn't even remember to share with her. It's time and we all know it. 

I just thought it'd be easier to watch my girls grow up. I thought, hey, I'm not a crazy emotional person. I don't get easily rattled by circumstances. I definitely won't get teary when they go to school. Now we're nearly there, and I'm eating my words. This morning, I was sitting doing research on great lunch boxes and I was struck with a moment where my throat constricted and I swallowed so hard and my eyes were watering. I was alone but embarrassed at my silliness. It's school, for crying out loud! My girls are growing up and it's a beautiful thing!

It's just that- as I've said here a million times- I treasure the lovely preschool stages. The sweet kisses on my cheeks from adoring little girls, and the hands that want to hold mine and the feet that want mine to follow. I know this stage. I love this stage.

I don't know the next. I don't know how the inseparable friendship between my girls will develop when one is gone so much of the day. I don't know very many of the other kids, and I don't know the teacher. I just know that it's not what I have now. And I like what we have now.

I do believe that change is good. Change and growth build character, and character is the formula for building beautiful people with resolved integrity. What sort of story would we have if we just spent our days in the safety and adoring care of our mamas? Our world view would be skewed and revolve directly around ourselves.

To learn from the good and learn from the bad and learn from growing up- and be proven to become a person of deep-rooted conviction, filled with love and compassion for others--- these are the elements for raising strong girls of character.  

So I must let them grow up. I must let them be their own little people, encountering and rising to challenges that come their way. I will savor every bit of our last three weeks beforehand, and perhaps discard my lengthy to-do list entirely, in favor of more quality moments in the sunshine. 

And hopefully I will be able to order #2 pencils and a thermos without any tears. ;)


"So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself..." Matthew 6:34a

Maggie by Kate Brightbill


It's been awhile since I wrote all the lovely things about these girls on their very own days every other month, and I'll try to get back in the habit of highlighting some of their "right nows" as we maneuver through the days and months the best we know how. This is my time capsule for me to share with my girls when they're grown... let's not think too hard about when they're grown though, because they're such dear littles and I am not wishing this away anytime soon.

Maggie is a great napper and terrible at going to bed at night. She would probably sleep until dinnertime every day if I didn't wake her. It's the opposite at night: she wants to chatter in her bed and sing "God is bigger than the boogyman" and "Jesus loves me" and "Little Einsteins" until 10pm every night. She's decided she wants to wear dresses every day, just like her big sister... but a couple of her tanks that are loose-fitting are considered dresses in her world. Her "favorite dress" changes daily so she can keep me guessing. She laughs hysterically if anyone in the room is laughing. She also has a scowl that is not to be messed with... she's conquered the eyebrow furrow, concerned eyes, and pout lip like none I've ever seen. She rarely yells, but is not afraid to repeat herself at loud volumes until she's heard... like a record skipping "May I please have some water," breath, "may I please have some water..." "may I please..." etc. 

She wants everything for her birthday. Her birthday is in August, but if she wants a purple scooter, she will say "mommy I'm getting a purple scooter for my birthday." Same with purple everything else. Her birthday wish list is three pages long by now and we have -mmmm- about four months to go. Cha- ching! {No, we're not actually getting anything yet}.

I love our little blonde free-spirited pixie with a shining smile. I love her little heart, her little shenanigans, her exuberance, hugs, and her chatter. They all add up to one beautiful little human. I'm so thankful I get to see her and love her and be her doting mama. 


Slow Living by Kate Brightbill

Lately I've been thinking about what I do and why I do it, and just keeping check on what my motivations and goals are. Yesterday, I "took the day off," and refused to check my technologies whatsoever. I went to church. I took a nap. I enjoyed slower living and perhaps a dose of perspective as well. I spent a good bit being grouchy about the lack of chocolate chip cookies in my life, but otherwise it was a lovely day.

Sometimes life feels like a race against the clock to get things done. Children happy- emails answered- home cleaned- kids taken to lessons- food purchased, meals created, meals cleaned-- 

It's easy to get off track and get the stay-at-home-mom lifestyle a bit backward. The kids will create and I walk behind them with my broom... figuratively or literally. 

It's a funny thing: I tend to get the most accomplished when I'm not doing life in a hurried way. Perhaps it means taking 30 minutes to fold laundry, but little hands are with me, matching socks and folding and refolding together. Perhaps it means everyone "doing work" together at the table: brows furrowed with concentration over their color crayons and workbooks, as I sit beside them, answering emails and paying bills. "Working" together. Perhaps it means starting dinner an hour early and allowing helpers to mix ingredients together themselves. 

It's a better way to live. It's more conducive to striking conversations with my girl Sophie about favorites, about what she thinks of different food {her list of favorite foods is hilarious! broccoli, lollipops, cake, brussel sprouts, and ice cream!}, about where she likes to go the most, about what books she enjoys... It's also more conducive to learning about Maggie's interests {she wants to see every.single.thing I'm preparing in the kitchen, and she can spend 30 minutes coloring!}. These are things I don't learn when I'm trailing behind "just trying to keep up."

Cheers to today! I'm raising my {third} mug of coffee to slower living, and to a Monday enjoyed to the fullest!



Thankful by Kate Brightbill

Sometimes I'm so thankful I could cry. Confession: I actually did cry from thankfulness this weekend...


On Saturday, we found out that Sophie got into our first choice of schools for kindergarten. Maybe you live in a city or town where that isn't a novelty, but for us-- it's been that nagging underlying x-factor since I found out I was pregnant back in 2008. School was the one thing that could pull us to suburbs if it didn't pan out properly. 

This weekend, it panned out properly. I ripped that envelope with so much anticipation, and Brian and I tried to prepare ourselves for it to show us a school across the city. It didn't. It showed us our FIRST CHOICE.

Tears and prayers of thankfulness. 

Last year at this time, it seemed so many friends of ours were in limbo- and for that matter- so were we. There were requests for prayer and plenty of tears of sadness for health issues, job issues, relational issues... it was raining hard last year on a lot of us, figuratively and literally. 

This weekend the blessings were overwhelming. Dear friends celebrated their love in a gorgeous wedding set in the Santa Cruz mountains, surrounded by incredible redwoods and loved ones. Other beloved friends met their little boy for the first time ever, after years of anticipation and planning. Another starts his new job today after years of training, and even now- as I think of these things- I'm overwhelmed with a grateful heart.  

Things are not going to always be blissful. This life does not hand us cupcakes on fancy platters with silver spoons every day, no matter who we are... 

The moments that it does... when prayers are answered with our hearts' desires, when God creates JOY from ashes, when hurdles are overcome... these are the times to pause, to be still, and to be thankful. 

{Maybe even to the point of tears}.

Average Day Post by Kate Brightbill

After Pilates this morning, I vowed off bagels for life if I could never go back to that exercising pain, you know? ... Then I opened the mail and had an ad for some bagels & I'm vowing to go to Pilates again tomorrow so I can have one.

Speaking of eating, Maggie just put a couple of minnie mouse's shoes in her mouth. Why is it that just when you think a 2-year-old is over the whole random dangerous habits bit, they pick it right back up where they left off? They love to keep our heart rates nice and high.

Just another average day around these parts.

Exactly half of my home is seriously clean. Like tidied, vacuumed, wiped, clean-clean. The dining table is included in the clean mix, so my children were treated to sitting on the kitchen counter for breakfast this morning. Everyone was happy. I'm not generally crazy-mom about these things, but sometimes I just want that half of the house to stay clean just one more half-day, so I do crazy things.

We're heading to a playground soon. The weather is strange today. It was so windy in the early morning that the old windows in our home were rattling. It sounded like a storm outside, but it was actually a bit warm... someone called it earthquake weather- gosh, I hope not. The sun shine is becoming such a standard here. It may be time to invest in succulent stock because we're basically becoming desert-like around these parts. Whenever it rains this year, it makes the news headlines. 

I like to regularly put up a post without pictures and talking about everything and nothing all at once, just to be rebellious. Do you know bloggers are never supposed to do that? It's true. The thing is: sometimes I just don't think anyone reading needs a picture of my freshly vacuumed rug, or my Pilates sweats {ps. I didn't do laundry in time, so I actually DID wear sweats this morning to Pilates, which is NOT what you do... yoga pants or bust! I figure my dignity is gone the moment I try my first move in class anyway, so how much additional dignity is gone by wearing sweats? At least I'm there.

Now it's time to get going... green veggie smoothie for lunch, bagel smothered with cream cheese, or something in between?

I'll never tell.

Friday Ramblings by Kate Brightbill


Rain is falling. Puddles are being splashed, s'mores are being eaten by fireplaces, and the rain boots that have been begging us for some use this year are having their moment. 

It's a good Friday. Our schedule this week has been all over the map, which I think was a welcome change-of-pace for all of us. Maggie looked at me one day when Sophie was getting ready for ballet, and she said "Mommy? Maggie ballet school?" pointing at herself. How can I refuse those big blue eyes and sweetness in a neon pink tutu? We decided to try it for two weeks, and Maggie is in her element, so it seems we'll be at it full time for awhile. We have the girly out in full force around here, and I'm embracing it, tea parties and tutus and all. Thankfully (or not?), they know how to climb and be dangerous at any and every park... I appreciate the adventurous streaks in them too.

I've been thinking a lot about next year at this time and how different it will feel. We've chosen not to put Sophie in pre-school, but she'll be going to school every day starting in the fall, and gone will be our "take it as it comes" lifestyle. We'll have to be out of the house, dressed and ready by a certain time daily. We'll be learning, doing homework (hopefully not too much, but I've heard stories...), we'll be having to enforce strict bedtimes, and not able to just go here, there, & everywhere we want. Last fall, I felt such relief about the fact that I had another full year of nomadic day-to-days and small living. There's so much sweetness to simplicity of an un-rushed schedule.

... lately, though, I've been noticing an increasing desire for structure and education in my Sophie. She wants me to spell everything for her to write, she tries sounding her letters, she talks about school with excitement, as opposed to her apprehension of it back in September. It's a good change I'm seeing in her, but as a mother, it's pulling at my heart strings a bit. Our slow walks with her smelling- literally- every flower have become walks with her on bikes making laps around Maggie and me because we're not going quickly enough for her. Our early fears of her being slow-to-talk and perhaps far behind all the other toddlers have been squelched, and we're left with daily thoughtful and long conversations about any and everything. She imagines, she thinks, she considers others, and she is affectionate. School for my baby is appealing to me more daily, as I realize I'm ill-equipped to teach everything she wants to learn and provide the social settings she craves.

Tonight, we put the kids to bed... then the Olympic ceremony came on, and Brian took them out of bed with my full support. He made decaf and we all got a cup (yes, my children love coffee, but we stick them with decaf only for obvious reasons). I took out the kettle corn from Trader Joes (that is kind of my weakness, but also kind of leaves something to be desired in the substantial food department. I mean, it's fluffy nothingness, so it never quite "gets" the food craving). The girls were wearing their coziest sweatpants, socks, and cozy tees with their hair everywhere. It was so perfectly right. Tiny girls, excited at life handing them an opportunity to stay up later and have treats, so messy and exactly how it should be. 

Even though these stages seem so quick, I know they're also exactly how they should be. The right balance of challenges and beautiful moments, and the growth comes in its proper time and we continue to move and learn and change. Doesn't always make it easy, but it does make an extra hour or two with the kids late night after a long week an incredibly appealing option... they're only this little once.

Happy Weekend!