We All Belong

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My husband told me that when he was younger, growing up in Florida, he kinda always felt like he didn’t belong. I guess I felt the same way in Arizona, but I had never named it. Then @bigbeardcreative came out west in his early twenties and realized he had a place in the world.

Have you ever collected beautiful seashells when visiting the ocean, and then brought them home with you only to find that once away from the water they completely lose their luster?

I think people are kinda like that. Once we find where we belong, we shine. Take us out of that setting, and we can sit dull and smelling like stinky ocean on the shelf.

Our family has been working hard to collect seashells these last few days while we visit the coast. Instead of taking them home we’re gonna put them right back in the sea where they sparkle. Friends out there, I hope you’re living into lives and in places that allow you to sparkle too. We all belong. Part of life’s journey is figuring out where. ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨

Climb On

“Stop there little buddy, that’s high enough.”

“Any farther isn’t safe.”

“You could fall.”

“If you go too high, I won’t be able to reach you if you lose your balance.”

Oh man. Sometimes I’m sooooo not okay with how I parent. I mean, is this the kind of adult I want to raise??? Too scared to test the branches? So reliant on other people’s perspective of what’s safe? Over-parented to the point he can’t trust his own instincts? Too cautious to CHANGE THE WORLD? *

“The words you speak become the house you live in.”
I have no idea who said that, but I saw it on a vintage poster as I was scrolling Insta last night. So much wisdom in those sponsored shopping ads, ya know?

Instead of squashing out all that inner, awesome, childish drive, how ’bout using words that are more like…

“How high do you want to climb today?”
“How will you decide when you’ve gone high enough?”
“How will you determine if a branch is strong enough to hold you, before you risk putting all your weight on it?”
“What’s your plan if you go beyond my reach, and then need help getting down?”
“Do you feel balanced?”

Please understand I’m not just talking about climbing trees here.

The ability to make thoughtful decisions might be one of the most important skills we can teach out kids (helllooooo teenage pressures). It’s a skill that doesn’t have to be learned in the classroom, and perhaps cannot be learned in the classroom? It’s a skill that sure can’t be learned on many of today’s school playgrounds, since trees are often eliminated due to their unpredictability. True story. How sad is that?

Dude, life is unpredictable.

In twenty years, when my kid is about to make an important *risky* decision, that will impact that greater good of all the universe forevermore until the end of time (a mom can dream, right?), do I really want my mom voice in the back of his or her (totally adorable and brilliant) head saying, “better stop there kiddo, any further isn’t safe.”

Heeeeccckkk no. Climb on little buddies. Test the branches, trust your instincts, have a plan, and climb. the frick. on.

The end.

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Wild Magic

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Wild Magic ✨

Do your kids like to hike? Ours don’t. But our family does go on a ton of really fun hikes! (Shhhh, don’t tell our kids.) These are known to our children as adventures, grasshopper catching expeditions, treasure hunts, animal track-finding excursions, dinosaur explorations, and troll and fairy quests.

Sometimes our hikes involve stories to up the level of engagement. On our hike last weekend, “Kids, last night, I woke up in the middle of the night and something caught my eye out the window… (pause dramatically). There were sparkles, cascading down, and glowing fairies dancing about…” The story went on and on, and ended with… Ana (7 years old): “Mom. Wait. Seriously. Is this real?” 🧚🏾‍♀️

“Hmmm,” I pondered, “do you have magic in your heart?”

Our hikes with our kids are 97% about the journey, not the destination. The kids are too little to make it about the destination.

But duuuuude, what if we lived life like that, everyday, no matter our age? I’m not saying don’t have goals and dreams to aspire to… I’m just saying, what if we enjoyed the ride a little more?

A few weeks ago we headed out for a family “adventure.” Ana’s hiking attire that day pushed even me out of my comfort zone. (Because, blisters and dirt and burrs and you know, all the things.) She was in the house wearing an Elsa dress. (Ironic?) We were trying to get out the door, so we just went with it.

Let me tell ya, something as simple as adding a costume made for one dreamy, imaginative, whimsical experience in the woods together. It was an awesome reminder to let go of rules and shoulds and have-tos and “the normal way” more often and just go with the flow. It was 100% about the journey that day.

✨ Wild Magic. ✨

“Is it real?”

I don’t know. But it sure seems worth believing in. ✨

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Be Careful What You Pray For

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I’ve attended and even assisted with enough parenting workshops to know better than to yell at my kids on the reg. There is a better way!!! I’ve been taught it over and over again.

When those righteous little rugrats push all the wrongeous big buttons ( 👈 totally a word), I know you’re supposed to take a breath, stoop down to their eye level, put a gentle hand on their shoulder, and redirect that blood-boiling annoying behavior right outta the house.

But since we’ve been moving all around town to kingdom come these last few months, co-sleeping on floors while we wait for our house to be remodeled, the stress level has been a little higher than ush and momma hasn’t made time for those eye to eye convos. So I’ve yelled.

At the same time, I’m been prayin’ that God would make me a better momma.

They say be careful what you pray for.

Um, thank you, Jesus, for Laryngitis?

Yup. Can’t talk. Can’t scream. Can’t yell. 😶 Can only walk over to one mini-hellion at a time, stoop down to their eye level, put a hand on their shoulder, and address them as the loving, whispering momma that I am.

Good Lord, you know all the things we need. Your mercies leave me speechless. 🥴 Thank you for making me a better momma. But also God, I feel like I’ve learned my lesson. Can I have my voice back now??

Thanks Big Guy,
❤️ Kara

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Rules to Live By

Headed to the Golden Coast today for a girls trip. I’ve been up since 4am, excited. I feel like a little kid. Just came across this beach pic from February, and thought that as I watch the clock march toward morning I’d might as well share a fun little thing that helps me remember family values / rules to live by.

Maybe you’ll be able to use it too!?
Put your hand up. 🖐

1. Thumb 👍 Thumbs up for a good attitude and a good time.
2. Pointer☝️ Point out the cool stuff. Be bold! Include others in your world. Share what you see and how you see it.
3. Middle (I legit can’t find that emoji. Which is convenient.) Forget about the haters. There will always be negativity. Block it out and rise up.
4. Ring Finger 💍 Commit to the people and goals and things you hold dear. Keep your promises.
5. Pinkie. Chill the heck out. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
6. All five ✋ stick together. The strength of the pack is the wolf. And the strength of the wolf is the pack. *
7. All ten 🙌 Gratitude. Thank you God!

Do you know any fun little tricks to remember / keep you focused on what’s important? Happy almost weekend!!

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Less Stuff. More Life.

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We’re staying in a hotel (basically) for a few months and our kids have one small suitcase of stuff right now. Though when we’re in our “real house,” as they call it, they don’t have much more.

Don’t feel bad for them.

They’ve been pretending to travel and get on trains and head off to college with their suitcases. It was pretty dang cute actually, when our 2 year old rolled that suitcase out the front door last night and slurred her words with a mouthful of pacifier, “off to college.”

But I’m not talking ‘bout college today. (Thank God! We still have more time before that!) I’m talking ‘bout how less stuff can lead to more life.

At least that’s what I’m experiencing.

If you know our story you know @bigbeardcreative and I had approximately 5 hours to prep for parenthood. Becoming parents overnight isn’t even accurate, because we were called at about noon on a Saturday and our precious @solanagilbertadventures was in our arms at 5pm that day. An “over”night heads up would have been nice, but I think then we would have “over”thought it. Best it happened how it did. We lived in a 1 bedroom apartment attached to a church @snowmasschapel and had exactly nothing one needs to take care of a baby. Or so we thought. We soon realized we actually had exactly everything one needs to take care of a baby. We had a tiny home to keep her warm and we had tons and tons of love to give. (I blogged a lot about all of this when Ana first melted our hearts in 2013 / 2014.)

It’s so easy for me to go down the rabbit hole of thinking we need this next thing or that. At the ❤️ of it, there’s only one thing most of us really need more of… It starts with an “L”. Oh yeah, and, if you wanna have a lot of fun, a cardboard box.

Copy the Moves

Last week I went to a training on positive development. One of the activities they had us do was dance with a stranger. Can you say AWKWARD??

Before they told us the activity they had us grab a partner we didn’t know and pick a person A and a person B. They then told us that they were going to play music for 30 seconds and that person A would have to dance, and person B would have to mimic. I was slightly horrified.

Then they made us switch, and we had to endure the embarrassment for another full 30 seconds!

Part 3 of the activity was the most telling. We weren’t to mimic anyone. We were just supposed to dance. Our own moves. For 30 seconds.

Keep in mind this was a day time, professional people training. The lights were bright, the refreshment table was serving just water, and we were among strangers.

While we all got through rounds 1 and 2 and people were getting a little funky with it, the room was oddly more calm and still when we had to go it alone. Nobody had anybody to follow! And the intent of purposefully leading someone else was gone too.

You guys! Dancing… and life… are so much easier to pull off when you have someone’s moves to copy.

The friend in this pic right here is a total answer to prayer. Like for real, an answer to prayer. She’s my pastor, mentor, boss, parenting coach, leadership role model and friend. And travel companion this weekend. I am so grateful I have her to watch and that I don’t have to come up with all my own dance moves. Girl has got it going on.

Do you have someone in your life who’s got great moves? If so, share this post with them to say thank you! 🙂

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Perspective

Last night our baby hardly slept at all. She lost her fav paci this weekend and we didn’t realize what a catastrophe this was until 11 pm became 2am became 4am. Needless to say, I’m TIRED.

I woke up this morning after an hour of sleep and I kid you not my very first thought was, “shit, today is going to suck.” Um. Of course it would with that attitude!

I was riding the chair lift up the mountain with another solo momma last week. We got to talking. She was visiting from San Fransisco. It had been snowing here for a solid 24 hours. She had already been skiing all morning and it was my first run of the day. “Yeah, I went over to the other side of the mountain for my last few laps,” she said, “but it’s much better over here.”

“Oh,” I replied, contemplating what she had said. “What do you mean, ‘better’?” I asked.

“Well the powder is really deep over there,” she said, “much easier skiing over here.”

Um. Glad I asked. …………

It was nearing the end of autumn and I was chatting with a friend on the phone. “It is dumping snow over here,” she said. “We are going to be in for a looonnnng winter.”

Um. Or the best winter in a really really really long time.

There are two sides to every coin and there’s a bright side to most dark days. Just a little reminder when you’re super tired, like me, or super snowed in, like my friends. Sometimes we just need to adjust our googles and view life through a different lens.

And on a side note, how handsome is the view in mine? (husband) ;P

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Shame and Shushing

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A few months ago our family hung out with a new family for the day. About an hour into our time together, Ana called out to get my attention… “Mom!” The eight-year-old-ish son of the people we were with was startled and confused. “Wait,” he said, perplexed, “You’re her mom?” He paused. “Why is she… Indian?” His mother’s mouth dropped wide open. She looked HORRIFIED. She tried to shush him but not be obvious with her shushing.
Aside from him being oceans off on our daughter’s ethnicity, I was unfazed. “She was adopted,” I told him. His mother remained uncomfortable and continued her not-so-covert attempts at getting him to shut his cake-hole.

Our daughter just kinda watched it unfold. …… Last month we took our family to the homeless shelter to help serve dinner. Please note that I said HOMELESS shelter. More than the actual serving I was hoping our kids’ eyes would be open to different people, different ways of life, options for how to love well, etc.. Well our little chatter box @solanagilbertadventures made herself right at home there. She plopped down with a bowl of stew at a table with the men and started asking easy questions. “Why don’t you have a house?” was her intro.

I felt an unstoppable urge to shush her or chime in. “Well they might have houses,” I said to her. (Um, what?) I looked at the guys. They ignored me and carried on, telling our daughter how they hunker down in sleeping bags and then roll themselves up in tarps to stay warm during freezing nights. …….. I’ve seen situations like this unfold, and also been the shushing mom, anytime kids get near anyone with a disability. “Mom, why is that boy in a wheelchair?” “Mom, why is that man missing an arm?” “Shhhh.” As if the person with one arm is unaware of their situation. ………. I think it’s so curious how we assign shame to other people where shame does not, and need not, exist……….

Thoughts for the day. I love the girl in this picture something so fierce. There’s no shame in her game. Can we all stop the shushing?

Baby Boys and Silent Night

It’s Ziggy’s birthday!!! I wrote this earlier today when Zig’s was at school, but I didn’t have pictures to post so I waited. I just put the little… sweetheart…. to bed, wayyyy too late on a birthday school night, and the mini-gremlin’s kicks and flails and begs for “daddy” had me second guessing everything nice I’m about to say.
And then I watched him sound asleep for five minutes, and now I feel honest again. 🙂

This kid turned four today, and he is seriously, THE BEST.
Five years ago, when I found out we were having a boy, I had all these visions in my head of what he would be. He would be wild, rambunctious, impulsive, thrill-seeking… an adrenaline junkie. He would be a tad thoughtless, oblivious, and in general he would have dirty fingernails (after-all, @campsmashbox ). Ziggy is none of these things. He is everything I didn’t dream up. I could not have, in my wildest imagination, envisioned a little human boy with a heart as pure, as thoughtful, as other-focused, and as aware of all that is good and beautiful, as this kid.

It is not uncommon for Ziggy to wake up as the sun is rising (while he has many strengths, sleep is not one), pause at the window, and say in his yet toddleresque and awestruck voice, “Mommmmmmaaa. Isn’t the world beaut-i-ful?” He says this about the stars when the moon’s not out, and the moon when the stars aren’t out. He says this when the sun is shining and when the snow is falling. He notices his sister’s new dress, my painted nails, and the new lights when they go up on the Woodbridge. . “Awe,” he’ll say to Ana often, without any prompting whatsoever, “you look soooo fancesome.” It’s a Ziggy word… fancy + handsome… and I will love it forever.

For his birthday, Ziggy asked for “the present Ana wants, because she’s been asking and asking for it.” I kid you not. He wanted nothing for his birthday, just “the present for Ana.” Ziggy. You. are. GOLD.

I have a horrific memory. I don’t remember bringing Ziggy home from the hospital. What I do remember, is Christmas Eve, one week later. At that time we lived in our other #tinyhouse – the one that also happened to be a church.
I didn’t go to Christmas Eve service that year because, one-week-old. I was home alone with Ziggy and I remember looking down at our sleeping baby boy, the only light in the room from the choir of Christmas trees just outside our frosty window. I remember soaking in the peacefulness of Ziggy’s soft breath.

As the Christmas Eve church service (which I could vaguely distinguish through our wall) neared an end, the amplified crescendo of hundreds of peace-filled voices poured into our blessed home. They sang together. Silent Night. It was an offering to the heavens. It was like Zig and I were all alone, and yet surrounded by a thousand angels.
I remember thinking of Mary… how she must have felt cradling her Prince of Peace in that stable so many years ago.

That Christmas Eve was one of the more profound experiences of my life. Miscarriage after miscarriage had left me feeling hopeless time and time again. And here I was, with the ultimate Christmas gift of a newborn son on a Silent and Holy Night. This memory will forever shape who and what Ziggy means to me.

Little Zig-man, happy birthday. You are a true and precious light. You have the soul of a poet. You are a treasure beyond treasures. Keep shining, little buddy. The world needs more hearts like yours.

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