In Photos: Fourth of July in the Mountains

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Few things are as synonymous with childhood as a swing hanging from the branch of a tree. My two can’t get enough. 

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Arlo is looking like such a little boy these days. It’s bittersweet that there is hardly any “baby” left to be found in my baby.

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My mother’s backyard. I love walking around back here - every corner reveals something whimsical and thoughtfully placed. We spent most of time just soaking it all in.

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Paddle boarding with the kids at Lake Lure.

imageTrying to be like all of my yoga friends doing headstands on paddleboards with ease in my instagram and facebook feeds. My reality: I fell off a lot. Ate it real good a couple times.  I’m going to blame it on the fact that there were so many waves from passing boats that it felt nearly impossible to find my balance. (yeah…sure… that’s the reason)

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Mama and Peg bought some sort of little packets that changed the color of the fire to blue and green. The kids loved this little bit of “magic”.

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Exploring the tipi in the backyard. This simple shelter has opened up a world of curiosity about the First Nations, Native American culture, and our own family history with the kids. (Our favorite book right now is D is for Drum)

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Despite it being July, the cool mountain temps allowed us to enjoy a campfire every day.

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Watching the Gerton, NC fireworks display from the neighbors front yard. Arlo would shout with joy after the big ones!

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We went in search of a local creamy that we have passed signs for many times over the last year. A few back road turns and our search lead us to Looking Glass creamery. All of their cow and goat cheeses are made from milk from local dairies. The coconut chevre was amazing. I took home a jar of their goat’s milk carmelita sauce and mama bought cheese curds that we snacked on all afternoon.

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There’s just something about a long cabin. It’s always so relaxing and retreat-like to visit Mama & Pegs home in the woods.

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We have a little fisher-girl on our hands. Everly has been practicing her cast with Brent in our yard for several weeks and after Mimi put a worm on her hook, Everly cast her own pole into the pond and hooked a fish minutes later. Over the course of thirty minutes, this girl caught six brim on her own!

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My sweet blue eyed boy enjoying a smores by the campfire on our last night. 

Love,

M

Flying Cloud Farm

There are so many wonderful farms and farm-to-table inspired business around the Asheville area. It’s a wonderland for people who want to eat local and know where their food is coming from. This past weekend, we stopped by Flying Cloud Farm in Fairview, NC (About a 12 minute drive outside Asheville) to fill up on fresh produce and abundant wildflowers. 

Flying Cloud has pick-your-own blueberries and wildflower fields right now and their farm stand was packed with several leafy greens, tomatoes, squash and peppers. They rely on an honor system where folks can stop into the often unmanned stand, make their selections and leave cash or check in the designated box. 

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For $10, you can grab a silver bucket and a pair of scissors and choose your own flowers amongst the rows and rows of colorful beauties. Zinnias, sunflowers, and queen anne’s lace were some of my favorites.

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There’s nothing better than a little girl with her arms full of vibrant wildflowers! 

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When I was growing up, my mama planted a patch of wildflower seeds in a sunny area behind our house. She would go out and snip off blooms and put little bouquets all around our home. It’s something I remember so fondly and I make an effort to do the same whenever possible. (If only I could get a bouquet as big as this for $10 in Raleigh!)  I dream of having my own wildflower field one day. 

I also love floral arranging and had far too much fun creating these colorful bouquets.

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For those visiting or living in the Asheville area (lucky you!) Flying Cloud Farm’s pick-your-own wildflower field is open June through October. I look forward to stopping by again as the seasons change to see what fall blooms they have planted. 

Love,

M

Happy Half Birthday Everly Veda!

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With a birthday that falls so close to Christmas, we always make an effort to celebrate Everly’s half birthday - which also fall on a major US holiday - July 4th! Even with all of the events usually surrounding the holiday weekend, we’ve always managed to do something to make the day extra special for our dove. 

You will never meet a kid more obsessed with birthdays than Everly. She asks us regularly how long until her own and talks for days about her friend’s and family members birthdays. She reminisces about birthday parties like they were week long vacations. She has memorized all of our birthday months and likes to announce who has one coming up next. She told every person she encountered on Friday, “Today’s my half birthday!” Even the halfs are important to this girl!

A few months ago, I found this pink guitar for $12 in a thrift store in Jacksonville, Florida while I was visiting one of my best friends. I snatched it up and hid it in our basement with the intention of giving it to Everly as a future gift.  Every half birthday, we give our kids a little sweet treat and a small toy to celebrate the occasion. This year we celebrated by making unicorn poop cookies (go ahead and click on that link, you know you want to make them too!) and a BIG gift with a reasonable price tag. 

Everly absolutely loves her new guitar and has been serenading us ever since. Brent plans to make her a guitar strap out of ribbon and hopes to teach her a few chords this summer. 

I look forward to sharing all of the fun of our July fourth holiday on the blog this week, but wanted to write a special post for our big four and a half year old first. 

Love,

M

Work Clothes/Play Clothes June 2014

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Work Clothes. These shoes! I have a couple pairs of shoes in my closet that I consider show stoppers. These are one of them. Red at the toe, black at the heel and that sexy ankle strap. The only challenge with such a shoe is that you can’t wear them too often since they are so flashy or the fun will wear off. 

Top: BB Dakota

Pants: H&M

Shoes: Anne Michelle via Zulily*

Everly Wears:

Dress: Fatima V-Neck Dress c/o Tea Collectoin

Sweater: Down East Basics

Shoes: Anna (found on Zulily)

Arlo Wears:

Shirt: Wipeout Surf tee c/o Tea Collection

Pants: Zulily

Shoes: Vans

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Play Clothes. I realize this pose makes me look at little pregnant, but I don’t like my legs in most of the photos Brent took of me in this dress, so this one will have to do. Isn’t it strange how our insecurities work? I’d rather look pregnant than post a photo where I don’t like my legs. I’ve disliked my calves and ankles since someone told me I had cankles in high school and even though I know it’s silly, I’ve carried around that insecurity ever since. 

Dress: Spire Shift Dress c/o Minx Boutique

Shoes: Charles David (I bought mine at DSW here

Necklace: Zulily*

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Play Clothes. You are now entering the portion of my fashion post where I become utterly obsessed with a pair of Swedish Hasbeens. (I’m wearing them in all the remaining outfit pics) These are basically the perfect shoe. Since they are a bit of an investment, I love that they are versatile enough that I can wear them from the summer right through to winter. I also like they look equally great with a pair of cut-off jean shorts or a dress.  Minx has a great collection of Swedish Hasbeens on their online shop include a great neutral pair with lower heel and some fun red ones!

Dress: Forever21

Scarf: Zulily*

Shoes: T-Strap sky high clogs by Swedish Hasbeens c/o Minx Boutique

Everly Wears:

Top: Vintage dress

Leggings: Target

Sandals: Target

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Work Clothes. I was pushing the limits a little bit on work appropriate wear with these funky pants but then again, I always do that. I rarely ever dress down for work but I do tend to dress kind of loud. It’s just part of my personality and something I really own. I will never show up in a crazy hat or something too tight but I can’t promise you I won’t wear wacky pants or crazy patterns together.  I love to express my personality through clothes.

Blouse: Lucid Pink via Zulily*

Pants: c/o Minx Boutique (Here’s a similar pair

Shoes: Swedish Hasbeens c/o Minx Boutique

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Work Clothes. Well, I’m already eating my words. I just said I rarely dress down, but here I am immediately following it with a work outfit involving jeans. It was a Friday with no meetings, so I took the opportunity to wear something a little more casual. 

Top: Stitch Fix*

Jeans: Kensie

Shoes: Swedish Hasbeens c/o Minx Boutique

Everly Wears:

Top: Roxygirl

Pants: Eddie Bauer kids

Shoes: Zulily*

So now that I’ve shared some of my favorite outfits. I’ve got a couple of sort-of related questions for all of you.

1. Do you think it’s a risky move to dress boldly in a corporate America environment? Or is standing out (within reason!) from a satorial perspective a good thing?

2. Do you have a weird body insecurity that stems from a single incident? I’ve had worse things said to me about my appearance, but for some reason, that cankle comment has been one of the few that really stuck over the years. 

Love,

M

(Full disclosure: Anything with a * next to it is an affiliate link.)

So I will leave them here instead.

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I walked into a typical scenario in my bedroom a few weeks ago. Everly was standing in front of the big mirror, my hat on her head and her arms full of scarves she had collected from a basket in the corner.

She was wearing a top that was once one of her favorite dresses before her legs grew too tall. It now required pants underneath, but somewhere along her path that morning, she had discarded them. 

I stood in the door way and watched for a long time as she acted scenarios with her reflection. She told secrets too low for me to hear and made dramatic facial expressions and said things like, “We have to hurry! Pick out you fanciest outfit before they get here.”

I love this age of wonder and imagination. Where every day she switches characters at least a handful of times. Where every hour requires a new costume. Where sometimes, if I’m lucky, she asks me to play along. 

Despite a shelf full of princess dresses and funny hats and masks in our playroom, it is my accessories that she is most drawn to. The distinct sound of my shoes being shuffled across our old hardwood floors as she teeters in them is something I wish I could wrap up and tuck away in the box I keep of her treasured things. 

At every stage, there is a specific, defining memory that comes to mind as I reflect on my children’s growing up. At almost four and a half, for Everly Veda, it is moments like the one above. A little girl, wobbling across my bedroom floor in a pair of my heels. Her imagination accompanied by the blur of colorful scarves and the whispered conversations shared with the friend on the other side of a smudged mirror. 

These moments fit in no box, and so I will leave them here instead. 

Love,

M

Tags: Everly Veda

Everly Says…

(Everly had Vacation Bible School this week. I asked her a few days ago if she knew the names of the teachers in her class. Yesterday she came back with this.)

Everly: Mama, I learned the teacher’s name!

Me: Oh yeah? What is it?

Everly: Jacka…um, Jacka…  Jackolantern?

Me: Jacqueline?

Everly: Yeah that’s it! 

Tags: everly says

The last time I shared some of my favorite tunes, I got SO many amazing recommendations from readers on what they were currently loving. I downloaded a ton of new songs and was introduced to so many great new-to-me artists. I thought with festival and outdoor concert season in full swing, it was the perfect time to talk music loves again. Here’s a little playlist of a few songs that are on consistent rotation in my ears right now. 

Also, I can’t get the song Water Fountain to play for some reason - but the Tune Yards are rocking my world too! (It’s currently my “drop whatever you are doing and shake it” song)

What songs and artists are you loving at the moment?

Love,

M

(Source: Spotify)

Old House Dreaming

When Brent and I bought our home near downtown Raleigh, we had every intention of staying put for years. We envisioned it being the place where our children would grow into their teens. 

It has everything that has been important to us for the last 5-8 years close proximity to the buzz and energy of downtown, easy access to stores, parks, festivals and great restaurants. Excellent schools, hospitals and a short drive to most of our friends, family, and church. 

But as the years have passed, a very persistent voice has grown louder and louder in our souls. Land. Farmhouse. Land. Farmhouse.

I grew up on five wooded acres in the Middle Creek area outside Fuquay/Apex and Brent spent most of his childhood running through the forest and sandhills in his undeveloped neighborhood in Southern Pines. We both experienced the kind of childhood where you could roam free, splash through creeks, climb trees and be gone from lunch to sun down.

We have a fenced in front yard where the kids love to play, but because it is a busy neighborhood and the fence doesn’t offer any privacy, it’s not the kind of yard where they can run out and play without supervision. Everly has taken to climbing the camelia tree in our front yard and I Iong to let her loose on a grove of dogwoods and magnolias with low hanging branches. 

We’ve also had some pretty strong influences that are motivating a change in our thinking. Spending a week in the beautiful Vermont countryside with Kate and Nick each summer has certainly swayed our thoughts. Escaping to the idealic mountain retreat that my mom and Peg share keeps us daydreaming of a quieter space. Even watching our children run around at my grandparent’s home in rural Johnston Country has stirred the desire for wide openness. 

The challenges we see with actually fulfilling this dream are many. In order to afford the kind of home and land we want, we would have to move well outside the Raleigh area.  It’s hard to find great schools in rural parts of our state. My company doesn’t offer a lot of flexibility in work from home scenarios and a long commute into the city each day means an extra few hours away from my family. Brent is exploring going back to school and most of the major universities in our area are in the triangle area. And the biggest thing hindering a move - the idea of being farther away from our friends and family. Our house is constantly full of friends and family and our social calendar is packed. We know moving farther away would have a significant impact on what we’ve grown accustom to.

Even the thought of leaving our house itself… we love it, we truly do. 

But the ache is still there and perhaps it will be for some time. Maybe it always will be there, or maybe we will find a way to fulfill our old farmhouse dreams one day. 

In the meantime, I entertain myself by looking at properties all over the state and daydreaming of nigerian dwarf goats and ducks and planting fields of wild flowers and pumpkins and strawberries.

With that vision ever growing, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite farmhouse dreams, just in case any of you out there are in a better situation that we are to make it happen or maybe you just love daydreaming about this sort of thing too.

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(No acreage on this one, but a great little house and right in the middle of charming Pittsboro)

(This house in Merry Hill needs some updates inside and comes with just a few acres, but what a gorgeous home and property!)

(I’m kind of obsessed with this old farmhouse in Siler City! It’s on 9.6 acres and has a separate, one bedroom log cabin for guests) 

(This old house in downtown Smithfield doesn’t have any land, but it’s close to some of our family and the woodwork on the inside is the stuff of dreams!)

(This house in Stanfield has a little over 5 and a half acres and so much charm! I love the double porch!)

(This home in downtown Weaverville only boasts half an acre, but it’s proximity to Asheville (and my mama!) and the dream kitchen make it a favorite)

Are you an old house dreamer too? 

Love,

M

Father’s Day

I just wanted to post a little something in honor of Father’s Day for Brent.

When I met him at 23, there were a lot of things I was attracted to - how he was always barefoot, his kind heart, the way he lived with a quiet confidence and never needed to prove himself to anyone, his beautiful voice and strong hands and how much fun I had with him. 

Even when I married him at 26, I thought I had a pretty good idea of who he was -  three years can tell you a lot about a person, but it can’t begin to predict how the lessons ahead will mold and shape them. 

Nearly ten years have passed and while all those traits that drew me to him remain, it’s the man he has become that I most admire. 

Brent loves not only me, his children, and family with abandon - but our neighbors, community, the world. He never has a bad word to speak of anyone. He jumps at the chance to be of assistance to others. He holds doors and says hello and waves to strangers so often that now I just smile when they sometimes eye him suspiciously. 

And every day, he is the person who is showing our children how to interact with the world around them. A care giver and a teacher. 

We are so grateful for him. For his dedication to us and to goodness in general. 

On Father’s Day. and the Tuesday after. and every day we have with him.

Love,

M

 

 

A New Look: Brave in Love

Hello and welcome to a new name and look for my blog. I’ve changed the name of Dear Baby to Brave in Love. This change has been a year in the making and took a good kick in the pants to finally make it happen. 

Dear Baby was the perfect name for this blog when I was starting out. I had so much to say to my unborn child and it evolved into a love story to two children and my husband. But my babies aren’t babies anymore and in the past year I started to really feel it was time to let this blog grow up alongside my children.  I bought Braveinlove.com over a year ago but just sat on it. I wanted a blog name that could stand the test of time. Something meaningful that reflected the over-arching theme of this whole journey. 

Brave in love.

Two years ago, this month, I wrote in this post:

"To me, the most shocking part of love has always been the vulnerability it brings. It cracks open your ribs and leaves your heart beating, exposed. The fear that lies in that kind of nakedness could use me up, if I let it.

But my love forges ahead instead of retreating, and I’m learning to embrace the riches of my defenseless heart. I look at Brent. At Everly. At Arlo and it consumes me in the most frighteningly beautiful way.  I am in over my head. Laid bare. Brave in love.”

The vulnerability of parenthood is the thing I come back to again and again. No one or no thing can prepare you for the way it changes everything. I have written about it a thousand different ways on the pages of this blog. 

But I’ve also been comforted that this is a universal experience. That others nod in agreement when I talk about it with friends. That readers here tell me they know exactly what I mean. 

 I love this quote by C.S. Lewis: 

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” 

― C.S. LewisThe Four Loves

Be brave in love!

It feels like the perfect war cry for parenting. In all we give and do and experience with our children, be brave. We have second guessed ourselves a thousand times. We have been asked to do things we didn’t think we were strong enough to do. We have been overwhelmed and over the moon. Climbed mountains and nearly drowned in this experience. But we keep going. 

Bravery is relative. Some of us on this journey have had to be braver than others. But parenthood asks us all to take up the challenge. It takes from us more than we expect and rewards us beyond our wildest expectations. 

I look forward to sharing more of us here, in this same space with a new name. 

With love,

M

(Special thanks to Bobbi at Ready to Blog for taking on the challenges of coding in tumblr and for having patience with this indecisive blogger!)

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