Despite my last name I didn’t always love the winter (I married in! Haha!). Once the holiday activities are over the winter in New England can seem too long, dark and boring. Everyone loved the Five Fall Family Favorites! post so I wanted to do a winter edition and share a some local activities and fun things our family does during the colder months to ward off the cabin fever!
I was managing a small chiropractic office and the doctor I worked for was talented and nice but also eccentric and quite a talker! The only two employees in the small home based practice, we chatted all day between patients. With his kids running in and out, family was a common topic of conversation. At the time I was expecting my second daughter, the first child that my husband and I would share biologically.
One day during a lull while discussing my growing brood the doc asked, “So, how does your husband feel about the new baby on the way?” I smiled and responded that naturally, we’re both excited and a little nervous. “Our oldest is in 3rd grade already,” I said. “It’s like we’re starting over!” He laughed in sympathy, then said “This will be a whole new adventure for him though since this is his first child.”
When you’re expecting it’s all about the baby! You’ve spent the last 9 months preparing for and thinking about this huge life change. Now that your little one has made the transition to your arms they are your first priority.
Welcoming a new baby changes everything and the first few months can be brutal. Between sleepless nights and painful nursing its easy to fade into the shuffle of meeting your newborn’s needs. But, if you want to care for them well it helps to care for you, too! Here are a few things that can help you feel more like yourself again as you adjust to your new normal.
My grandmother said to me years ago when I expressed my desire to be a writer that you need to live some life, and have some experiences to be able to write about it! Despite what society may say it’s never too late to go after your dreams, or create new ones.
I recently announced on Instagram my “big news”– I’m being published! I realize that not everyone who reads my blog follows me on Instagram (though you should! 🙂 My IG is like a mini-blog) I am excited to share more about these opportunities soon but in the meantime I wanted to write a post here to share my experience and a few things I have learned along my way.
You’ve Gotta Go For It-
I am not usually one for outlandish resolutions on New Years Eve but I can’t argue against the efficacy of beginning the year with intention. After procrastinating and chickening out of writing publicly for way too long I decided that 2018 would be the year that I would really just go for it. I prayed over my work, made my blog a “.com”, bought a little used Canon, and focused on creating quality content here as well as on social media.
Though it may seem like opportunities abound, writing is a super-competitive field to break into. With no professional accolades attached to my name and teaching myself about blogging along the way it has been a refining and often challenging journey! I still feel like a little guppy fish in an enormous virtual shark pond but, I have learned so much already!
It Takes Time-
Before the year began I searched for opportunities and took note of submission deadlines. Late in January I submitted my first article. I remember feeling surprised at the amount of effort that it took to submit a piece that might not be accepted. It isn’t as if you can simply write one cool story and send it to everyone who will take it.
Publishers usually have a cohesive vision that they want to present and that they want you to be a part of. So you need to familiarize yourself with other content that they have published and write an original piece to suit their needs. Write to the audience but, don’t lose your voice or integrity. Edit your text, not yourself. Even if it costs you a project.
Each outlet has their own parameters such as subject matter, word count, and target audience. I have run into a few places that will use previously published material but, the majority of sites and magazines are looking for original works. Search-engine savvy sites don’t want SEO affected by duplicate content.
Going into this process I tried not to stress it too much. I figured, I have nothing to lose but time and I felt that the time put toward perusing my passion was certainly worth it. When I inevitably faced rejection I didn’t let it discourage me and scare me away like it may have in the past.
There are a billion reasons that a piece of writing may be denied. Maybe something was missed in the editing process, an article isn’t a good fit, or sometimes it really was crappy and I failed to drive the point home! I try not to take it personally. A good piece of advice I read when researching freelance writing was that if someone emails you to notify you that they passed on your piece, that is good! If they reject it thoughtfully at least they read it, right? Its part of the nature of this art.
It Takes Effort-
Writing takes time, concentration and attention to detail. It’s honestly a miracle that I get anything done at all with household and familial obligations taking up most of my time. Whenever I finish a project I raise my fists in the air and loudly exclaim, “I have accomplished it!!!” LOL. With no home office to hide in I am usually typing at my desk in the living room with Paw Patrol in the background or in my bed nursing and plucking keys one handed over a fussy babe. When I do get a few moments to myself during naps or play it is only a matter of time before a little crying alarm alerts me that my time is up! I often say to my husband, “I’m not going to be a writer if I don’t write!”
But, I have learned to walk away when it is too overwhelming and take care of the things demanding my immediate attention. This results is lots of work off of my cell phone and typing at 2 a.m. when the house is quiet enough to hear myself think. Especially when my goal is publication. Editors can tell when something is rushed or sloppy. If you plan to pursue writing seriously its best to love it because, you are going to be writing a lot! You need to be getting something out of it besides praise or else you will be in for quite a humbling experience!
Revise, Revise, Revise-
While researching blogging I ran into the term “fast blogging”, as opposed to slow blogging I guess, and I absolutely am not a “fast blogger”. I can’t pump out blog after blog just to have something to post. I enjoy writing fun, quick posts but, when it comes to stories or longer reflections a little perfectionist lives in my clumsy, wordy head. With my fact-checking and sentence shuffling the revisions can be seemingly endless. I have gone over and over pieces and edited them to death. One of my stories saw at least 7 drafts before landing on the final to be published.
I’ve learned to grab my ideas as they come because I am always multitasking with 10 tabs open in my mind at a time. I have scraps of stories here, a handful of novel chapters there, random words or scripture notes that I hold on to. I go back to them when the muses aren’t calling and sometimes it helps me along. Everything has potential!
Do you ever get so excited about something you’re doing you can’t wait to tell the world? A lot of the time sharing goals with others can help keep you accountable and motivated. When it comes to my writing I felt the opposite way. The majority of people that I know aren’t aware of my blog. As it is gaining followers the word is getting out and more people that I know personally are discovering it. I’m comfortable with it now but starting out I really think it helped not to have the pressure of familiar eyes.
Sometimes it is just easier to write to strangers or the general world than to people you know and who you think have preconceived notions of you or whose opinions you would take to heart. Thought the response and support has been largely positive I know that some criticism or judgement exists out there too. I made my mind up in 2017 that I was going to get published. I didn’t need people telling me that I shouldn’t or couldn’t so I kept quiet as I learned and grew. Now that the fruits of my labor are becoming more public I feel confident enough to share in that joy with those close to me.
Just The Beginning-
Writing is my life-long dream and being published is a fulfillment of that dream. A part of me feels like I could die happy now that this has happened. The other part of me is inspired to get out there even more! After the waiting and the working and the personal growth it took to get to this point I would be lying if I said I wasn’t proud! I am going to be on websites that aren’t my own, with my name under a title! I am being asked for head-shots, biographies, interview questions & omigosh- what if they quote me?!
It is flattering and a sharp contrast to the years I spent hiding my writing in my notebooks. I try my best to keep my intentions pure. While getting myself out there is part of reaching people I want to remember to focus on quality of craft. Getting too caught up in numbers and following can become a stumbling block. I want the secondary function of my writing to be inspiring others; the primary function being growing in my relationship with God. After ten months I was notified of both to-be-publications in two days. I know God planned it that way to encourage me to keep going. Though I sowed my dreams in faith I wasn’t sure what the direction or destination of all my hard work would be. The Lord is making more of it than I expected and I can’t wait to see what else he will do!
Thank You to everyone who follows, supports and reads my work. It means more to me than you will ever know.
I Am Rahab: Touched by God, Fully Restored
by Autumn Miles
Two years ago after the birth of my second daughter a big part of my recovery physically and mentally was walking. I wanted to make my walking spiritually beneficial as well so I went to Youtube to find some inspiring content. I searched “Proverbs 31 Sermon” and what popped up was Autumn Miles. The name caught my eye because it is the same name as my oldest daughter but that is not where the parallels end!
I listened to the sermon and loved Miles’ dynamic take on the Proverbs 31 woman as being a strong and powerful leader and savvy woman of great worth. From then on I was hooked, I watched all of her videos on Youtube and started listening to episodes of her Dallas radio show: The Autumn Miles Show through Podcast. Her big personality and “Bold Truth and Raw Faith” really delivered and inspired me so much!
As I said, her story and my own have some significant similarities. Miles was a young divorcee who suffered domestic abuse at the hands of her ex-husband. Being a survivor of domestic violence myself, I identified and felt a solidarity with her. She reminds readers that Christ can break the chains of a difficult past and use it for his glory! Her humble beginnings make you think, “Why not me?”
In Miles’ latest book I Am Rahab: Touched by God, Fully Restored, Miles goes into detail about those and other experiences in a raw and honest way. The book poses the question: “What do you do when you can relate more to Jezebel, Rahab, or Eve than Esther or Mary?” Miles explains how she found a hero in Rahab the Harlot and discovered that most in the Bible were imperfect sinners who God chose for his purposes and transformed for his glory.
If you follow Miles’ radio show then many of the personal anecdotes in the book may be a retelling but, as a fan of hers I liked the familiarity and compilation of her stories. I appreciated how she spliced her life and Rahab’s and jumped between them in the book. It kept things interesting and was an efficient way to compare the two. The sub-headings in the chapters make the ideas being presented easy to follow and very reader friendly. The discussion questions in the back make it a great option for a study group! On Facebook you can find virtual book clubs and you can share your own story on social media under #Iamrahab.
In her personal experiences her storytelling is entertaining. She writes with a tone true to who she is “(insert heart-eye emoji)”. In her Biblical reflections of Rahab she “geeks out” and digs deep into story and text down to Hebrew root words. She gains readers’ respect by being transparent and letting us know when she is going to get real or challenge us with truth. Along with she and Rahab’s stories, she also confronts numerous stumbling blocks to faith and runs a shining thread of purpose through to bring them all together. I absolutely recommend this book for anyone who is looking for direction or inspiration!
For more from Autumn visit her website.
Have you read any good books lately? Leave your recommendations in the comments!
-Print Length: 212 pages
-Publisher: Worthy Publishing (August 21, 2018)
-Publication Date August 21, 2018
The Great Bumpkin Pumpkin! My preteen saw this cute and simple fall craft on Pinterest a while ago and couldn’t stop talking about it! She bugged me for weeks saying we just had to do it with her little brother because it was too cute!
His name is Billy so we spent a few weeks saying “Billy’s Little Bumpkin” and giggling in anticipation of this craft. It is an adorable and humorous way to mark the memory of your baby’s first Fall!
I love the look of simple stamp projects like this! They make heartfelt gifts, cost almost nothing to make and are easy and fun for everyone involved.
I made this cute stamp art on a mini canvas as a gift for my husband this past father’s day and it now hangs on the gallery wall in my living room.
My oldest daughter is a naturally talented artist and sometimes she takes her work too seriously but, as you can see it’s best not to stress about making it perfect. Whenever I feel like a craft turns out differently then what I ideally had in mind I just shrug it off and say “it’s rustic!” 🙂
I made the stamp above just a few weeks after my son was born and wanted to press his hand onto the canvas but he was still all balled up and I wanted to avoid paint on his hand so we went with his foot! It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind but now it is an inside joke, “Hand, hand, Foot!” The point being that what we’re going for here isn’t a perfect finished product but a fun experience and a great memory!
The pin she saw was done on a ceramic plate but I used canvas. I got three 8×10 boards for under $2.00 and grabbed a $0.50 tube of pumpkin orange craft paint (I got everything at the craft section of Walmart).
We had our surfaces covered in newspaper already because we were carving pumpkins too. I definitely suggest draping the area you plan to do it because so this craft is quick and simple it still has the potential to go left and get messy fast.
Fill baby’s tub ahead of time so you can rinse the paint off and get a diaper back on ASAP!
My husband held the baby and I painted his “bum”pkin! Just like a stencil, I found that with this project less is more when it comes to paint. I ended up doing two because my application was a little heavy handed and the second one came out much better. The first canvas “blotted” the bum and left the right amount of paint for the second attempt to come out perfectly!
My kids paint over and reuse canvases in our house so it wasn’t a big deal but maybe have a paper towel or paper plate nearby to blot on instead if you are looking to save materials.
After that we really made it look like a pumpkin by finishing it off with a stem, a leaf and some curly cues.
What kid-friendly Fall crafts have you tried this year? Comment you favorites below!
Autumn is my absolute favorite season! Things here in Massachusetts are just getting good with temperatures dropping and leaves turning colorful. In the spirit of boots and pumpkin spice, I wanted to share a quick list of 5 simple pastimes we enjoy during this time of year.
I know this one is pretty obvious but seriously who doesn’t love a good hayride to pick the perfect pumpkin!
Keith’s Farm located in Acushnet, MA has their hayrides down to a science. Its scenic and just long enough to enjoy the wind in your hair. Silverbrook. Farm also in Acushnet is a classic choice and they have a great farm stand and even a bakery full of freshly baked treats (try the sweet bread!). Sauchuk Farm in Plympton, MA offers a corn maze and other seasonal games and activities.
Hold the gook! Once we’ve carved our pumpkins I put aside the innards in a bowl and employ the kids to pick out the seeds and rinse them.
Melt a little butter or use some olive oil toss the seeds in the bowl. Season them with your choice of spices and toss again. I usually do a sweet batch with cinnamon and sugar and a savory batch with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and arrange the seeds on a lightly greased or parchment covered baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes stirring occasionally until nice and toasty!
It’s healthy compared to candy corn, convenient, and everyone loves them!
Do you like jousting and handmade goods from local artisans? Do you like turkey legs and yards o’ beer? If you want to experience a wooded wonderland full of costumes, games and live entertainment King Richard’s Faire in Carver, MA is the place for you! There is so much going on there that there is bound to be something for everyone in the family.
I brought my oldest kiddo last year and she loved getting lost in the pretend world of whimsy. I bought her some (pricey!) elf ears to complete the experience. Look at her face! Those ears were worth every penny! 🙂
Crock Pot Apple Cider-
This one is so easy I’d barely call it a recipe. I pour a gallon of apple cider in a crock pot and put it on low. Every so often I shake some cinnamon onto the surface and stir. It is so comforting and makes the house smell delicious! If I’m feeling fancy I will stick some cloves into an orange and throw in a cinnamon stick to make more of a mulled cider taste. I make it often for Thanksgiving or my daughter’s birthday which is at the end of October. Super simple and festive!
If you want to be simultaneously awed and shamed about your lack of pumpkin carving skills take a walk through the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger-Williams Park Zoo in Providence, RI. Every year they have 5,000 expertly carved pumpkins on display. The carvings include a wide variety of themes from historical figures to Elmo.
Parking is a little packed since this event is so popular but, it’s an easy walk with little kids in tow since strollers are allowed.
What are some of your favorite Fall activities or traditions? Let me know in the comments!