Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Denver Home Companion: A Letter to My Daughter {Dear Daughter Series}

Share and link up your own Dear Daughter letter HERE. 

 Today's letter is from Emily of A Denver Home Companion. I can't remember how we stumbled onto each other, all I know is that she is a favorite blog AND on my list of people I would want to share a night on the town or a good food gorge-fest with (anyone who also feeds marrow to their kids is my automatic friend.) She writes about motherhood and life with such an authentic voice and it always resonates with me. Check out her blog, Twitter, Instagram, and her Etsy shop selling cute vintage clothes for littles.

Dear Ramona,

I’ve written many letters to you about you, and being your mother, and how much I love you, and how you’ve been growing and learning. I love writing these letters and reflecting on where we’ve gotten and who you’ve become since our family grew to three.

For a long time I will continue to be --as simple and complex as it can be-- your mother. You will know me as “mama” and you will assume, rightly so, that my job is to be there for you, to feed you, to clothe you, to kiss your owies, to read countless books to you, to drag you around on errands, and to tuck you in at night. Being the person most familiar to you, who has just always been there, you will, understandably, take me for granted. I am your most constant -- always have and will be for many more years (at least 16 more if all goes as planned).

My Minka Moo, I accept this position and relationship fiercely, passionately, and enthusiastically. I am yours as much as you are mine. But the day will come when you will realize I am more than just your mother. And if/when you realize this in your pre-teen or teen years, you will most likely think of me as an alien. You will wonder why I laugh so loud or why I eat chips by the fistful or why I say silly things that are best left for inside my head or why I insist on asking your friends a million questions or why I’m pretty darn particular about how the house is kept or why I get grumpy and take it out on you and Papa for what seems like no reason at all.

What you won’t realize, in your growing independence, is that these traits/quirks/obsessions of mine aren’t new to me. They’re just new to you. I’ve always been this way. You’re just slowly realizing I’m not the perfect caregiver and playmate you always thought me to be. This will be hard on both of us. And when you do come to understand this, there are some things you should know to hopefully understand me better...

-- I really really need quiet time each and every day. Perhaps it’s because I’m an introvert. But no matter what it is, if I have too much “other people” in my life (including you) and not enough time to steal away and do my own thing (read a book, blog, clean the living room, nap, watch trashy reality shows, journal, do my nails, whathaveyou) I get very grumpy. And a little rude. And I’m not proud of that and I’m working on that. But it’s hard when I know that all I need is alone time and I cannot get it. So please don’t ever stop napping. And we should both be thankful for your father who loves stealing you away for father/daughter adventures.

-- I am learning how to be a better listener but I’ve still got a ways to go. Your Papa is teaching me some really important things on how to put other people first. A big way I can work on this is by listening to other people and without judgment. This goes along with my stubbornness: I assume I’m always right thus it’s hard for me to be a gracious listener when I disagree. This gets me into trouble. Which makes me grumpy. Which makes me need alone time. It’s a vicious cycle. Like I said, I’m working on it. You and I will undoubtedly butt heads over this. I’m sorry. I love you.

-- I can’t cook. I was never taught, never thought about learning, and your father enables me. Now, I am working really hard to want to learn for you but it’ll never be the best thing you ate. And if it is, bless you. Needless to say, if your Papa continues to work evenings, we’ll have many dates over take-out and at restaurants. And I’m kinda excited about all those dates with you.

-- I laugh really loud. By now you’ve probably figured that one out. I’ve been doing it since I was a baby (ask Pops, he’s got home video to prove it). It’s not ever going to change and if it ever bothers you or embarrasses you this is just something you’re going to have to deal with.

--I react quickly and emotionally to situations I am in. Often this is a very good thing: I have street smarts, I am very good at getting the feel for a situation -- knowing when it’s best to stay or flee. I have a pretty darn good judge of character and I do judge people fairly quickly. Most of the time it serves me well. However, I’m human, I’m flawed, I make mistakes. I have probably missed out on meeting some lovely people because they rubbed me the wrong way and/or I misread their vibe the first time around. I will try and be gentle with the friends and dates you bring home even if I’m not too fond of them. If something bad happens, I usually jump to the worst conclusions (doctor’s calls, if Papa don’t answer his phone, when I hear sirens in the distance and you and Papa aren’t home). You may want to break bad news to your father first. His response is usually a little more measured. I tend to freak out. Again, I’m working on it.

I tell you these things so that perhaps, one day, when you’re frustrated that I’m not always on point or that I don’t seem to know you the way you assumed I always would,  when you realize that I’m human --that I have my own personal struggles, personality quirks, character flaws-- you’ll have some grace. And remember that I still love you fiercely, passionately, and forever. I am, enthusiastically, your biggest fan.

I love you.


Monday, July 29, 2013

A Collection of Passions: A Letter to My Daughters {Dear Daughter Series}

Learn more about the series and link up your own Dear Daughter here! 

Today's guest letter is from Kacie of A Collection of Passions, a fellow Oregonian and mama to two sweet girls Gigi and Lulu. Her blog lives up to its name: it's a fantastic collection of recipes, fashion, parenting, home DIY and more with beautiful photography. She also has a foodie blog with recipes and local spotlights called Gorge in the Gorge. You should definitely check it out, along with her Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram!

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I'm so happy to be here to help celebrate Afton and Ruthie's birthday! I'm a twin myself and know the joy of a shared birthday. It's hard to believe these two little darlings are TWO already! I have two girls as well, Gigi (2 1/2) and Lulu (2 months) and I'm in love with being the mom of girls. I was so honored when Meg asked me to participate in this series.

Dear Gigi and Lulu,

When I first found out I was having another little girl, I was beyond thrilled. I would have loved to have a son too, but I was so excited that you two girls have the opportunity to experience what it means to have a sister. Your Aunt and I are so close. We talk every single day, sometimes twice a day. We support each other in our photography work. We consult each other over clothing purchases with texted photos from dressing rooms. We don't live close, but we are best friends.

When we were younger, it didn't feel like we had anything in common. Your Aunt was quiet, loved to read, was a straight A student, she was an introvert. I, on the other hand, was loud, colorful, adventurous, social... we were so different from one another. As kids and teenagers, even into our early twenties, we didn't relate to one another. But as the years have passed by we have become more and more alike. Your Aunt slowly became more outgoing, I became more reserved. We both became photographers. We both became wives and mothers.

I am so excited that the two of you will get to experience a complex, unique, loving, lovely, sacred, complicated, silly, perfect, relationship with one another. You will fight, you will steal each others clothes, you will probably wonder how in the world you're related, but you'll be friends because there is nothing that quite compares to having a sister.

I love you both,

Your Mama

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Rain or Shine: A Letter to My Daughter {Dear Daughter Series}

Write your own Dear Daughter letter and link it up HERE!  

Today's letter is from Kira of Rain or Shine, a fellow Portland blogger and a friend in real life! She is a talented designer, has amazing gorgeous hair, and is mama to a daughter named Pearl and a new little guy named Axel. She hosts the hilarious "Portlander Problems" series (this was my contribution) on her blog and also has an Etsy shop full of beautiful handmade baby things. Check out her blog, Etsy shop, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram.

Dear Pearl, 

You are almost two years old.  You love drawing with your crayons. You color on paper (or per-per as you call it), but also on the coffee table, the sliding glass door, and the front of the stove. I probably shouldn't let you do it, but the crayons are washable and I like seeing your creativity at work. It reminds me of myself as a child, and since you look just like your daddy, I'm excited to see a bit of me in you.

I was always into drawing as a kid.  I started drawing out clothing design ideas when I was in elementary school while laying on my grandma Pearl's living room floor in front of the tv. We usually watched Golden Girls and Jeopardy while I drew.  Grandma always had paper and crayons/pencils/markers available for your aunts and I to use.  I remember drawing lots of little people and carefully deciding what their outfits would look like.

I also enjoyed re-dressing the celebrities in your Mimi's tabloids.  I would draw new outfits over the red carpet dresses I didn't like with a black sharpie.  I created beautiful new looks for those celebrities, always in solid matte black.

When I entered high school, I took art classes from a teacher who taught me so much and was instrumental in building my confidence as an artist.  Her students called her Fro, and I pray that you will have teachers in your life as amazing as she was for me.

I attended the Apparel Design program at Oregon State University.  I excelled in the program there.  I loved it and probably worked too hard.  I had good friends, but never dated anyone.  I spent most of my evenings doing school work.  I was constantly sewing, drawing, or writing and didn't make time for much else.

I wanted to move to New York after college, devote my life to my career, and never really thought much about having children.  Then right around graduation, your daddy (one of my best friends) told me he had feelings for me.

I had an internship in New York with the iconic American designer Betsey Johnson.  I wasn't about to give that up, so I went to New York.  I talked to your dad every day on the phone.  I ran around the city like a crazy person trying to live that fast paced life.  I loved the experience, but it perfectly taught me something.  My plans for "what I wanted to be when I grew up" were not exactly right for me.

It turns out the big city and the fashion world were not for me.  Portland was for me.  Your dad was for me.  Working in design was for me, but not in high fashion.  And you were for me too.

It's ok to have dreams and big plans for your future. In fact, dreams are wonderful.  I promise to do what I can to help you form those plans and to achieve them.  But it's also ok to change them.  It is my hope and my prayer that whatever you want to do in your life, you end up happy.  I love who you are right now and am excited to see who you become.

 Love you,


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Brunk & Brunk: A Letter to My Daughters {Dear Daughter Series}

Today's guest is Lorissa from Brunk & Brunk. I met her through Emily of A Denver Home Companion, and as a fellow twin mama we hit it off! Check out her blog for more about her life with twins daughters and baby Avi.

Dear Charlotte & Bellina,

Right now you are two years old. Each day is much like the last, full of playing and singing and laughing and crying and messes. We just moved into our new house on Magnolia street where Daddy and I are making a home for you. A place for your bed and your toys and a yard with green grass. But mostly, a place for us to be a family. A place where you can belong.  Right now, you belong with me and Daddy and your sister and your little brother. And we belong with you. We belong to each other.  Just the way you are, you are a perfect fit in this family.  You make this family great! It is my hope that this belonging will carry you and hold you always, especially as you grow and make your own way in the world.  Looking for belonging will be often confusing and sometimes disappointing, but it can also be fun!

When I was in the second grade, the letters on the chalkboard started looking blurry. I told my Mom (Grammy) about my trouble. A few days later she took me to Crumm and Todd Optometry, the only eye doctor in town, and I was diagnosed with near sightedness. At seven years old, I was getting glasses.

Grammy picked a cute pair with two little red strawberries on each ear piece. Granted, they were enormous, and really quite ugly; but I will have to forgive her for that.

I was the only one in my class to wear glasses and remember feeling self-conscious.  When my teacher, Mrs. Adrian, had everyone make pretend glasses out of tin foil, I felt so important…like I belonged. Not because the other kids were wearing foil on their faces, but because they went out of their way to notice me and think about what I might be feeling, and to do something about it.

I wore glasses until my junior year of high school. Seven years of glasses. When finally after endless begging, Grammy agreed to buy me contact lenses: I. WAS. PUMPED!

I will never forget people's reactions. One of my friends said, "Lorissa Bellina has eyes!" as if I didn't even have them before.  No eyes! Everyone said "you look really great" or "wow, you're just really beautiful".  It was a lot of attention. I was soaring. My heart still soars a little just remembering everyone's approval. It felt so good to be seen.

With my confidence boosted, I ran for student government and was elected class secretary, which was considered "popular". I spent more time with friends and joined activities with people at school.  I started going to school dances and I even went on a few dates with boys.

When Josh Barnaby, a boy in my class, asked me on a date, I said yes. Ironically, Josh had been my big crush in 7th grade. My BFF Rachel Larson had asked his guy friend (on my behalf) if we could "go together" and he had said “yes”, but then “no” with the reason being that he was “moving to Idaho at the end of the school year”. My BFF Rachel and I candidly called him "mister potato head" from that point on. We were always figuring out important codes for talking about boys. You know, so no one overheard us and uncovered our deepest secrets. That would have been mortifying. But talking about Mister Potato Head out loud was totally acceptable. ANYWAY, MisterPotatoHead Josh moved back to my hometown during our senior year of high school and asked (ME) on a date.

Josh and I went mini-golfing at All Star Sports Arena. He wore cowboy boots and played country music radio while we drove together in his Ford pick up truck. We goofed around and laughed hysterically during the putt-putt game. Some might say we acted like 7th graders. On the way home, he made a pit stop at his parent’s house so we could get a fudge-sickle out of the garage deep freezer. I think I even met his Dad. I was still eating the fudge-sickle when we drove up in front of my house. I thanked him and jumped out of the truck before he could kiss me. I guess I didn't like him enough to kiss him. I avoided his calls after that.  I just didn’t know what to say.  Perhaps there is a difference between being noticed and being known. I was eager to be noticed by him, but not really ready to be known.  Connecting can be so confusing sometimes.

I remember being noticed by another boy from my Spanish class, Scott Freidlake. He showed up at my front door out of the blue holding a giant four foot tall stuffed penguin. See, our Spanish teacher, Senora Salmeron encouraged us to practice speaking Spanish during class. Naturally, I talked as much as possible and the entire class often got to hear about my (quite serious) penguin collection. I really loved saying penguin in Spanish..."Penguino". Scott never asked me on an actual date, but I had that giant penguin for a very long time.  Maybe sometimes being noticed is enough, too.

All this attention made me wish I had gotten contacts WAY sooner. High school is already a tough place to belong, but so much harder when people think you don’t have any EYES.  The confidence boosted my personality in other ways too. I was more creative, kind, happy and laid back. I was able to be myself. The magical thing about being myself was that I actually felt connected to people, not just noticed by them. Being myself was a lot of fun. 

For example, one day in Choir, while waiting for the teacher to arrive, I convinced the entire class to pretend they were chewing gum. So when Mr. McCormick started the class and went through his usual order of business, finally announcing “please spit out your gum”, which usually resulted in one persongetting up, the entire class stood up, making a lengthy (and laughing) line all the way to the trash can.  It was funny. We did lots of silly stuff like that and I can’t wait to tell you more about it someday.

Until then, I am doing my best to notice you, to know you, to connect with you and to belong with you. When I see you being yourself, I see that everything is as it should be. And I love you.

- - -

Link up your letter, too! Visit this post for more details, and learn how your letter will help mothers in rural Papua New Guinea! 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Your Dear Daughter Letter + Love A Mama Community {Dear Daughter Series}

I hope you've enjoyed the Dear Daughter letters so far - I have! If you want to catch up or start from the beginning, you can start here. And there's more to come every Monday and Thursday of this month. And now I'm excited to open up the link party for you to join in, too!

I wanted to do something special to celebrate the girls' 2nd birthday, so I wrote a "Dear Daughter" letter. Only this time, instead of writing a letter about my hopes and dreams for my girls, it's a letter about ME. It's a chance to let my daughters glimpse my heart and soul a little bit more, and what makes me who I am, even if they won't read it or understand what it truly means for another decade.

I'd love to read your letter and share it with others. There is something special about coming together under a common theme or idea and letting each other, including our children, see the real "us" just a little bit more. Link to your letter, grab the button to display, and use #deardaughterseries to share and pass the word on to friends!

It's real simple. It can be a special memory, a story or anecdote, but something specific, sharing something of yourself with your daughter. You can go as deep or as un-deep as you want; it can be funny, or serious.

And the best news? 

With your permission, I will be compiling letters into a $5 eBook, with profits going to the Love a Mama Community, coordinated and spearheaded by my dear friend Adriel Booker. 

You may know that the Bloggers 4 Birth Kits drive, the drive for solar light suitcases to aid in births, and the whole reason behind Umi Sling is because of this amazing woman and her work with mothers and children in Papua New Guinea. I'd love to support her further monetarily and allow her to put these funds to practical, lasting use in the small rural villages where the maternal death rate is 1 in 7. Learn more about the Love A Mama Community here!

Love A Mama Community - Women empowering women.

The Linky Party will be open until September 1st, then I'll start the work on the eBook and have it ready to launch by Thanksgiving. At that time, I'll check in with everyone who has contributed to request their final permission to publish their letter and collect bios. You can definitely opt out of participating in the eBook, too.

Will you join me? Are you in? I really hope you are!  

Some ideas for your Dear Daughter letter: 

- What was one of your most meaningful relationships in your childhood - neighbor, pet, cousin, etc., and in what ways did they impact who you are today? What kinds of friendships do you hope your daughter experiences? 

- When did you realize that your own mother was not just "Mom," but a woman with a past, and hopes, and dreams? How did that change your relationship? 

- What is your favorite holiday/vacation memory from your childhood? How does that shape your attitude towards your own family memory-making? 

- Think back to when you were in high school or junior high (I know, right? We're old.) What is one of your fondest/most prominent memories, and why? 

- What did you want to be when you grew up, and who/what put that idea into your head? How does your experience of childhood dreams shape the way you direct and encourage your daughters today? 

- Thoughts on beauty, what you thought of yourself, if you have a funny story about first wearing garish blush or cutting up your legs shaving for the first time, or dying your hair a crazy/awesome/terrible color, and the feelings that went along with the experience. 

- Do you remember your first day of school? How nervous were you? What did you wear, and who do you remember? 

These are just some thoughts. You can use these prompts or come up with your own. The point is, it will be from you to your daughter about you. 

Questions? Leave a comment below WITH your email address, or send me an email (meg.kimmelshueATgmailDOTcom). 

Monday, July 22, 2013

(she always loved) larking: A Letter to My Daughters {Dear Daughter Series}

Today's letter is written by Courtney of (she always loved) larking. She's a wonderful writer, a voracious reader, has a terrifically dry sense of humor, and is a kindred spirit. She makes beautiful jewelry from antique book pages and is expecting her second daughter any second! Read more from her at her blog, check out her Etsy shop, then find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest

I'm so pleased to be sharing a "Dear Daughter" letter as part of Ruthie and Afton's 2nd birthday celebration. I never had a sister, and I'm hoping to learn all about how to parent two sweet girls vicariously through Megan, since my second daughter is due about a month from now and I need all the help I can get!

Dear Lorelei - and baby girl on the way! -

Yes, I've always been this stubborn. I know you've been wondering if being a stick-in-the-mud is just part of the "getting older" process, but I'm here to tell you that I was just born this way. I've always wanted to do things my way - and it's hard for me to compromise even when someone else's way is probably just as good as mine. Sometimes it's been a good thing - it makes me stick to my principles and has gotten me out of some sticky situations - but it can be a tricky personality trait, too. Your dad is pretty good about being patient with me (though he can be stubborn in his own way, can't he?).

  "feeding goats": I was a little nervous to be with all of the hungry goats by myself but was so glad I did :)

One of the areas where I was most stubborn growing up was when it came to trying new things, especially ones where I thought I might look less than perfect. I didn't walk until I was almost 16 months old - even though my mom swears I could have done it long before! - because, well, I just wasn't ready to let go. I had my first two-wheeler in kindergarten or first grade but I didn't ride it until 4th grade because, well, I didn't want to do it until I could do it right. And driving the car? Not until I graduated from high school - despite having my learner's permit for years before that. I even turned down a Valentine's Day date with your dad to go ice skating because I didn't know how to skate very well and I hated the idea of falling or looking stupid. And that mystery novel I really want to write? I can't get past the first chapter because I'm worried it's just...well, not good enough.

"playing dress-up": I always loved being the star of the show - especially one I wrote and directed myself!

Don't get me wrong: there are lots of ways that I have been braver than other people might have been. I've always had the courage to play the violin or give a speech to an audience - did you know that I spoke at my high school graduation ceremony or that I was invited to be the faculty speaker at commencement for my first long-term teaching job? And there's never been a dance floor I haven't tried out - even when your dad was too shy to step onto it with me. But I've never been good at trusting that other people won't hold it against me if I "fail" at something - and it's hard to have fun when you're worried about being perceived as "perfect" all the time.

"totem pole climbing": doing something a little dangerous for once!

And that's my big hope for you two: that I'm raising you to be confident in yourselves and trust that failure is always an option. I want you to climb up the rope ladder at the park all by yourself - and to know that I'll be right there if you fall, but that I trust you to be able to do it on your own. I want you to go bowling and skiing and tubing with your friends instead of staying home because you worry that they'll laugh when you get a gutter ball or fall down or tip over into the water. I want you to paint, draw, sing, write, and dance for the pure joy of it and not be concerned about how it measures up to anyone else's art. I want you to go on new adventures and get excited about new ideas and embrace all the possibilities open to you - and to know that I don't expect you to be perfect, not even a little bit. What you are and what you do is always going to be good enough.

"college": one of my favorite pictures from college - a place where I felt confident and self-assured, especially when wearing those boots.

with lots of stubborn and imperfect love -
your mama

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Nordstrom Rack Kids {Portland}

{This is a sponsored post written by me for Nordstrom Rack. They kindly sent me a giftcard and I went shopping!}

Recently, I was asked by the downtown Nordstrom Rack to come check out their new kids' section, which launched on Saturday.  I already knew the Rack had a great selection of clothes and shoes for me {when I do get out shopping, which is rarely-almost-never these days} and was excited for the opportunity to just go shopping again!

Their small but thoughtful selection of kids' clothes didn't fail to disappoint. There was a nice balance between the affordable everyday wear that I wouldn't feel too guilty about getting dirty - we're doing about two changes a day now that they've discovered the dirt patch in our yard - and the nicer, designer clothing that you'd expect from Nordstrom.

Andy came along to help wrangle the girls as they're into the running down aisles-through-aisles-into people phase that gets exhausting when it's just me. We snapped some pictures of them carrying these little dog purses that they were kind of obsessed with and I'm kicking myself for not swallowing my pride {there were sequins} and buying them.

If you've been around here for a while, you know that I claim to have no baby style. I see cute things and I like them on their own, but then get them home and have nothing to pair them with. Case in point, the dresses with red buttons and the pink sandals. So I tried to shop in "outfits," as my poor mother tries to teach me over and over. I was about 60% successful, that's pretty good! 

We left the store with a new play outfit for each of the girls, two new dresses, two cute little insulated lunchbags, a random adorable mini Boden tee on major clearance, and two pairs of shoes. And I'm going to go back and get those little dog purses.

The best surprises and the biggest splurge were these little Toms. They've been on my wishlist but I hesitate because needing two pairs adds up quickly, but at the Rack I saved $20 total off the retail price. They're a tad big on my girls' freakishly tiny feet, but by then end of the summer I think they'll fit perfectly. And I'm pretty sure these Toms match everything, don't you think?

If you're downtown shopping, it's worth a stop into the Rack for a peek!

{This is a sponsored post written by me for Nordstrom Rack. They kindly sent me a giftcard and I went shopping!} 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Redeeming the Table: A Letter to My Daughters {Dear Daughter Series}

Today's guest writer is Kamille from Redeeming the Table. She's a fellow Pacific Northwesterner and we both share a love and enjoyment of delicious, nourishing meals and the way we use food to minister to the people in our lives. She's also grain free and shares some amazing recipes. With 3 beautiful daughters, she's gone before me and I learn so much from her. Check out her blog, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and IG

- - - 

It’s hard to remember a time when I wasn’t carefree, only called “Kamille,” and could stay up till 2:00 am with no regret come the next morning.  But, I can crane my head and call back growing up in the 80s & 90s, when hypercolor & neon Espirit bags fell in out of fashion as quick as one meltdown to the next.  
As far as I can remember, I always wanted to live on the stage.  As a young three year old girl, I would wrap myself up in old drapes announcing to Nana, “I’m a BabaWaba!”  I would sing, perform and find any chance to draw attention to theatrics.  It wasn’t just a fleeting interest, or a cute thing I did.  I was naturally gifted in these areas.  
When it came time to audition for church plays, I set my eye on the lead role...ALWAYS!  I had flare, a gift.  Nana & Grandpa Soto would encourage it, and others who saw me would tell them the same.  
However, there came a time when I allowed my own insecurities get the best of me.  I believed that if I couldn’t be the best, then I shouldn’t even try.  In sixth grade, I auditioned for the lead solo in choir.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get picked.  It was this other girl, who actually wasn’t as good as me.  But, you know what she had?  Sheer disregard.  A disregard what others truly thought.  
My freshman year of college I was pursuing the Performing Arts as a major.  One of my courses was Voice.  My vocal coach/teacher would have us pick various pieces to perform in front of the class.  Time and time again his critique of me was my restraint.  The funny thing is I wouldn’t consider myself at the time a restrained sort of person.  It wouldn’t be until we were acting emotions to sing that I finally shined.  
Why?  I think it’s because I was given freedom to be someone else, the hidden self.  That self, which is not inhibited or dictated by what others think.  It was after singing with verbose volume my teacher said, “Kamille!  Where has that voice been all semester?  You’ve been hiding it.”

Senior year of high school I was voted Miss Unique.  But, I don’t think I really was all that unique.  Sure, I dressed differently and people thought I “didn’t care what others thought:” but, girls, really, truly...I did care.  I played scenarios of defeat in my head all too often, which led to a cyclical pattern of false confidence.  It led me towards regrets wishing I had truly lived by my English teacher, Mr. Qualls resolve, Carpe Diem.  
Don’t let what others think, or even what you think they think dictate your quest on trying new adventures.  You decide to pursue life with all of your soul & mind.  Like that sixth grade girl who got the solo, it was because she lived without restraint.  She put it all out there.  It’s attractive when we put it all out there.  It’s also risky, because we might fail, or realize we aren’t the best.  But, we can look back with no regret my dear daughters. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Naturally Attached: A Letter to My Daughter {Dear Daughter Series}

Today I'm featuring a sweet letter from a new friend that I've quickly come to admire for her authentic natural parenting style, commitment to simple living, and her proximity to the beach - Brigid from Naturally Attached. The letter she shares today gives me so many hopes for the relationship that Ruthie and Afton will have in the future. Sisters are treasures! Check out Brigid's blog, Naturally Attached, on Facebook, Pinterest, and on IG

Naturally Attached

Thank you so much, Megan for having me over here on Boho Mama for this beautiful series for our daughters! I couldn't be happier to share this letter to my sweet Penelope with your readers. What an awesome tribute to ourselves, as mamas and to them! xoxo, Brigid

 Dear Penelope,

I sat down to write this letter with the intention of helping you understand who I am as a woman - the part of my soul that you don't see everyday. The part that shaped who I am today, who I was 10 years ago, even 20 years ago - my past. The me before your swift entrance into this world. Then I started to realize that I have been so many versions of myself. My past and future was and is ever-changing and so am I. I am not the same person I was yesterday and I will certainly be a different person when you are able to read this. So all I can do is tell you how I've grown and changed into the person I am on this day in July, 2013.

The roads I have traveled have been smooth ones. I have been a lucky girl growing up surrounded by a large, happy family. I ran free around the neighborhood until dinner was ready. My best friend lived 2 houses down. I walked to the library, made lemonade stands and knew every neighbor on our block. I sat down around the dinner table every night to a home cooked meal with my mom, dad and two big sisters. Those people and that life is what shaped me into who I am. They are my roots. The core of who I am. I wouldn't be the person I am today if I didn't have them by my side growing up.

sailing to Martha's Vineyard

My parents surrounded me with the reality of the world around us. They did not cater to me. They did not give me everything I asked for. Instead, they played with me. They talked with me. They loved me. I am appreciative, frugal, secure and content because of them. They taught me to reconsider what was really needed in life in order to be happy. I was encouraged to do what I enjoyed, pushed just enough to try new things but never too much that I felt pressured. I am the mother, wife and friend I am today largely because of them.

 Your aunt Allie, Erin and me as a baby

Growing up with 2 older sisters comes with a lot of adjectives that I can not all list in this letter. ;) Some days you love them, some days you never want to speak to them again. Growing up does that to siblings and I'm positive you will look back feeling the same of Connor. The positive far outweighs the negative though - My sisters taught me to grow into an understanding, compassionate woman. Without them, I wouldn't know how to develop strong bonds, how to let go, how to forgive, how to move on, how to endure and grow into my own woman and stop comparing myself to others. They have taught me how to be the unwavering support system that you will need growing up, Penelope.

As we grew older they became my protectors. My safe spot and my voice when I was feeling too shy, too scared, too embarrassed. These four people - your grandparents and aunts have built me into the secure, accountable woman I am today and to always do what's right for me in the end. I always try to live by these words - "You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone else's cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution." ― Maya Angelou

sweet notes // "oh, i love your storys - and YOU." love that one from Erin. always checking my work. ;)

Penelope, I hope that you grow up feeling the same sense of security and support as I did and grow into the person that you want to be. That is most important.

xoxo, Mama

Thursday, July 11, 2013

That Mama Gretchen: a letter to my daughter {Dear Daughter Series}

My first guest writer for the Dear Daughter Series is Gretchen from That Mama Gretchen. I started reading her blog 3 years ago, when her daughter Jemma was just born. It was from her honest and thoughtful posts that I really saw "Attachment Parenting" in action in realistic ways. I admire her and call her an IRL friend, and I'm sad she's moved out of my neck of the woods (although happy for her family!). She's a dear. Check out more sweet posts on her blog, or visit her Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Bloglovin'!

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Hi There! I'm poppin' over from my regular space in blog land, That Mama Gretchen, to wish sweet Ruthie and Afton a very happy birthday this month! I can't even imagine having two sweet girls to love and celebrate. Megan and her girls are blessed to have one another for sure - I just love seeing their trio of girly adventures and learning from Megan's wisdom as a mother.

When Megan asked me to share a letter to my own daughter - who somehow is almost already 3, what? - I couldn't decide what to write. Serious? Funny? Heartfelt, of course, but what to focus on? I thought about sharing my transition from high-heel wearing career woman to at-home yoga pant person. Then about the 18 billion red flags to watch for when dating. Then some tid bits of wisdom on how I learned to cook. And then I landed on the saga of bangs. Yes, bangs - as in the kind that cover your forehead and frame your face. The bangs that can make or break your look. Because if anything, bangs have taught be a lesson or two over the years. So, here it goes, everything I want my dear girl to know about bangs ...

Oh Jemma,

Early on my bangs earned their own zip code. I'll let you see for yourself in Exhibit A:

The zip code bangs had a long life ... preschool through most of elementary school!

See what I mean? You can thank Mimi for the extra poof, swoop and spritz of hairspray. She knew how to do bangs the 80s way and obviously wanted me to follow in her footsteps. The good news is, I wasn't the only one. This hair do was "in" in every sense of the word. Folks were jealous of my zip code bangs. I mean, you can't dream up this kind of volume. You've either got or you don't. And there in lies lesson one ... Own what you got, girl. Own it big! Whatever it is, make it your signature statement and don't turn back. It's you! And you is awesome.

Next we've got the experimentation phase of the bang saga. Yep, permed bangs. You heard me right. Permed bangs.

 This was after my perm relaxed a bit - still pretty wonderfully wacky!

I begged my mama for a perm in 1st grade and she blessed me with my heart's desire as a birthday gift. See, I wasn't following lesson one of owning what I had, which was natural waves. I wanted more. I wanted curls and many many of them. So, off I went for a perm. My first and last perm seeing that perms smell awful and if I remember correctly kind of burned my scalp. There are two lessons here ... the obvious, stay away from perms. But also, the more important, lesson two which is don't be afraid to experiment with your hair, because hair grows back, fresh and ready for a new experiment. Hair is one of those fabulous things that self-corrects with time. And therefore teaches patience which is a lovely virtue to gain along the journey. So go for it - dye it, cut it and get those crazy beaded braids on vacation. Embrace the trends and don't look back. Then, like me, you'll have fabulous pictures to share with your daughter someday.

And now, a lesson I recently learned. When you find your hair person - don't leave them, ever. Give them a Christmas gift, become their friend, wait for an appointment. Because let me tell you, honey, risking a bang trim at the walk-in mall salon isn't worth it.

After a bang trim gone wrong, I decided to help speed up my bang growth by wearing a headband as often as I could press them down and encourage their growth :) Creative, huh?

So, lesson three - find a hair expert and love them for life. And, in the sad circumstance that you forget lesson three, revert to lesson two - embrace your unintentional experiment and know that your hair will grow back. And grow back fast. Especially if you pray that it will grow speedily.

And Sissy, when your hair goes wrong and you want to cry, I'll be there to hold you and fund an expensive fix. When it looks fabulous, I'll tell you so. And when you want me to learn a fancy braid or prom do - I'll watch a bunch of YouTube videos to make it happen. In the end though, remember that it's just hair. You are so much more than your gorgeous locks - your beauty comes from inside of you. So as much as you tend your hair over the years, make sure to tend your heart more. Be kind and cheerful. Cultivate a joyful spirit. Watch out for those who need a smile and a helping hand. Share your effervescent laugh and embrace each day the Lord blesses you with. Be the change you wish to see around you. And rock those bangs, girl - no matter how long or short, poofy or permed. I did :)

Much love you my sweet Jemma!
Although an older photo, this is one of my favorite pictures of you and I ... that smile on my face, it's because of you, girlie! Also, note the braided bangs thanks to a "I'm growing my bangs out" phase.

Monday, July 8, 2013

A letter to my daughters on their 2nd birthday {Dear Daughter Series}

This is the first letter in my series to celebrate the girls' 2nd birthday. I'll be featuring some wonderful and talented mother-writers that you won't want to miss. There will be two each week, every Monday and Thursday throughout the month of July. And at the middle-end of this month, link up to your own Dear Daughter letter! Details are here.

Dear Ruthie & Afton,

Happy second birthday! How cute you were today eating your very first ice cream cones, without having to share with mama or dada or each other. You both inhaled the creamy sweet goodness.

Oh, I'm so glad you're summer babies. But enough about you dear cuties.

I'm a summer baby, too. When you're very little, most everyone is around to celebrate, but you're too little to remember. When you get older and hit elementary school, it's a blast to have pool parties, picnics in the park, or a day at the lake. But then, families tend to plan trips in August and so your guest list will be hit or miss. But even still, summer birthdays are the best and I have so many wonderful memories.

One year around 5th or 6th grade, we had a garden party planned out of an American Girl magazine. My later elementary years were shaped by that magazine. We couldn't afford to buy a Kirsten doll, but we could afford a yearly subscription for $10! Don't worry - I still have these magazines stored in a box somewhere, ready to show you as soon as you can read.

This particular issue was full of creative party ideas, and being that my room was decorated in sunflowers (bedding, wallpaper, decor...ALL sunflowers), the garden party was a perfect fit. We decorated the backyard of our East Main house, with its small doughboy pool and cement patio, and if I remember right, that year most of my friends were in town and were able to come celebrate with me.

I don't remember it all, but I do remember mom (your grammy) making me a chocolate cake with crushed oreo ice cream and gummy worms strewn throughout. It was my very first "dirt" cake and it was so delicious. I think that was also the birthday I got my very first phone, which I promptly decorated with glittery Lisa Frank stickers. That phone lasted me for years, and I still remember calling my best friends on that phone and feeling like such a grown up. Now, of course, cell phones have ruined the magic of the first phone. It's just not the same, and I'm a little sad that you won't experience it the way I did.

Later on in high school, I spent a few of my birthdays out at Lake of the Woods at summer camp. I went right through the ranks over the course of my later teenage years, first camp attendee, then camp counselor, then lifeguard. Some of my favorite memories of summer are out at that lake, getting up at the crack of dawn to go water skiing or wakeboarding while the water was at its glassiest, then jumping out of the boat in time to run in for morning devotions and breakfast with the other campers in the big lodge dining room. The whole family drove up one year to surprise me with a little floral-frosted birthday cake and a purple sweater from American Eagle that I wore until it was stretched and threadbare. The smells of the dining hall, pine trees and mossy lake water clung to my skin and hair all summer and in my mind, those memories will always exist in a golden light. If I close my eyes, I can smell it now. 

A few years later, I spent my 21st birthday in Santa Cruz on the boardwalk. I had just returned from living in England with Aunt Susan, Uncle Gary, and Allie, where I had an unforgettable experience. But back in the States, I was directionless. I didn't know where to turn next. I had dropped out of college (some call it "taking a break"), didn't have a job, and had broken up with my high school boyfriend of almost five years. It was a heartrending time, but your Grammy's sisters and my cousins made the best of it by all taking a trip to the beach together.

One of the funniest memories I have about that trip was being crammed in the back of a rental car looking for a place to eat, and aunt Janice read a sign and said, 'What's a Fall-ah-Fall?'" Outside the open-windowed car was a cycler, and he looked into our car with disgust and said, "It's Falafel," then road away. We died laughing. Aunt Janice also tried to procure some shots of liquor for me, but she could only come up with some Mike's Hard Lemonade, which we drank in the hotel, and which I learned the sugar content alone will buzz you, not the alcohol. So the balm of family turned a hard birthday into hilarious memories that I'll remember forever and got me through that summer. A month later, I met your Daddy.

So for you, little daughters, I'll always have a special place in my heart for your summer birthday and do my best to make it memorable. I may not be a very good party planner, but I am a good adventure planner, and with the sun on our faces, we'll celebrate the miracle of your lives and make some memories that will carry you through the hard years, when work and school and loss and the responsibilities of adult life and can diminish the importance of celebrating together - if you let it.

All my love,

Your Mama

The Dear Daughter Series

I don't know about you, but growing up I didn't know much about my mom other than she was "Mom" and she made us homemade donuts on rainy days and I thought she was beautiful. As I grew up, I became curious about who she was as a person before me, and what made her tick. And now as a mom, and thinking back to how young my own mother was when she had us, I realize that I want my girls to know me as ME, too. You know?

Sometimes we get wrapped up in our identity as mothers and lose a hold of the person we are - or at least, she gets buried somewhere among the laundry, spit up, heavenly baby smell and those big eyes and rosebud lips that we would give anything to protect, even our lives. Yes, we are mothers, and that is our highest calling during these little years...but we are also women, wives, daughters, friends, dreamers, and so much more.

I wanted to do something special to celebrate the girls' 2nd birthday, so I invited some blog (& IRL) friends to contribute a "dear daughter" letter. Only this time, instead of writing a letter about their girls, it's a letter about themselves. It's a chance to let our daughters glimpse our hearts and souls a little bit more, even if they won't read it for a decade.

Please come back and see the wonderful guests I have lined up to make you smile, cry, affirm and maybe even convict you (in a good way). I can't wait to share their letters - these women are something extraordinary, and I admire them each in special ways.

And the other fun part...

Would you like to participate, too? I'd love to read your letter and share it with others! There is something special about coming together under a common theme or idea and letting each other see our souls just a little bit more, including our children. Use #deardaughterseries to share and pass the word on to friends!

Link Up Below! Find the prompt ideas and learn more about the ultimate goal of the series HERE. 

Now, for my letter...

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