A Thankful Heart

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My heart is so full, friends. And not just because it’s almost Thanksgiving, although that helps. What could be better than pie and food and family and laughter and all that good stuff that comes along with the holidays? Thanksgiving has a special place in my heart because it really is all about being together and enjoying each other, without all that greedy gift stuff that can stress me out during the Christmas season. I’m excited to take some time off with my family and spend as much time as possible in my elastic-waisted pants. Ahhh, gluttony, an American tradition.

I’ve alluded to some big changes happening around the Crazybananas headquarters in 2015. While I can’t share every small detail (soon!) I can say starting in January this blog and everything that comes with it, including photography, freelance writing and design, will be my full time profession. I mean, along with nose wiping and lunchbox packing, obviously. I’m so excited/thrilled/terrified to start this journey, which is something I’ve been working toward for the past three years. I know this won’t be an easy road, but the idea of doing what I LOVE for a living is just an incredible thing. I’m so very grateful. I’ve spent most of my career working my butt off at jobs that didn’t make my heart sing (or hum or whistle or anything, actually) in order to provide for my family. I’ve sacrificed for them, and now they are choosing to sacrifice for me. I am so thankful to my husband and kids for being the greatest supporters of me and my crazy notions. This change will affect them in big ways too, and they are on jumping on board this train with little complaint and lots of cheerleading. I am the luckiest.

I’m also thankful for YOU! Yes, you! If you’re here reading this, or if you’ve ever shared, commented, liked, retweeted or posted anything from this site, you’ve helped me to realize my dream. It may seem like a small thing, but to me, it’s huge. I simply would not be here without you.

So, to say THANK YOU, I’m giving away a pair of tickets to Motown the Musical, part of the Broadway Across America series, playing in Kansas City on December 11th!

MOTOWN THE MUSICAL is Broadway’s record-breaking smash hit that tells the true story behind the beat that changed minds, touched lives and took the world by storm. Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations – MOTOWN THE MUSICAL shows how these legendary artists and so many more created the soundtrack that transformed America.

If you haven’t heard of this incredible Broadway show, watch the trailer below. It’s freaking fantastic!

To enter this giveaway, please go to this survey, which will help me determine what you want to read on Crazybananas in 2015. Once you’ve completed the survey, come back here and leave a comment. (Ed note: If you’ve already completed the survey, just leave a comment below saying you’ve already done so…you don’t have to fill it out twice.) Easy peesy! You can get additional entries by doing the following:

– Liking Crazybananas on Facebook
– Following Crazybananas on Twitter
– Following Crazybananas on Instagram

Don’t forget, once you’ve followed any of my social media accounts (or if you’re already following!) to come back to this post and leave a comment so I can be sure your entry is counted! This contest will close on Friday, November 28th at 5 p.m., so get those entries in before you eat too much turkey and fall asleep!

Thank you again for all of your support and love throughout the years. I am so humbled and grateful. I’m not really a hugger, but I’d give you all a huge bear hug if I could! Happy Thanksgiving!

A Few Things to Love Today : Blanket Scarves, T-Pain and Meditation

Anyone else in the midst of a crazy, wild, nutso schedule? I’m assuming it’s not just me, as the mamas of the world start gearing up for the holidays while still trying to maintain their regular responsibilities like work and making sure young children do not color all over their van seats with a sharpie. Just me? Anyway, I wanted to share a few things that are making me smile today, as I’m procrastinating all of my actual work.

Blanket Scarves
I ordered this through my friend Kelly’s website, Redefined Mom. Kelly has a way of finding THE BEST deals on the internet, and her site is one to bookmark, especially for the holidays. She has posted this deal for these amazing blanket scarves a few times, and after I saw hers in person, I had to buy one for myself. Early Christmas present?

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I have pretty much been wearing it non-stop, and while some people (ahem, husband) think I look like I’m headed into the arctic tundra, a really cute hipster girl working at H&M pulled me aside to ask me where I got it because she liked it so much. Which, if you know me, is the best thing that’s happened to me all week. Also, when paired with this beanie from Aerie, make me “look like Christmas,” according to one of my friends. So, basically, it’s a win.

T-Pain Unplugged
I saw this story last week, and when I watched the YouTube video, my whole heart exploded. Read or listen the story first, then watch Faheem Najim (aka T-Pain) just blow your mind.

There is nothing I love more than when someone takes off all the armor they wear to protect themselves and is vulnerable in a way they haven’t been before. Glorious and beautiful and worthy.

Meditation
Okay, this is a little woo woo for me, but meditation has become a daily part of my routine that is sort of changing my life. I say sort of because I’ve only been doing it a few weeks, and who knows, I may fall out of love with it as quickly as I’ve fallen in love! I’ve always really liked the idea of meditation, but my brain tends to behave like a squirrel on caffeine, so sitting in the quiet was not something at which I excelled. As a recovering perfectionist, I don’t enjoy trying new things, especially when I’m not a gold medalist right away, so when meditation was difficult for me, I decided it wasn’t something I could do. However, a few weeks ago a group of women I love and respect were talking about meditation, and they reminded me the whole point of meditation isn’t to be perfect, but to practice being in the moment. I’ve been trying a 15 to 30 minute meditation every day since then, just to see if it was do-able for me, and it’s enriched my life in ways I couldn’t imagine. I’m calmer with the kids, kinder to my husband, more relaxed in general. I didn’t even notice it until there was one day when life was too busy and I didn’t make the time to meditate…and whoa, the difference was scary! In the past I’ve been so caught up in doing it all perfectly, but this time around I’m just focusing on doing the best I can. I tend to like guided meditation, so I’ve downloaded a bunch of 15 to 30 minute podcasts by Tara Brach, a meditation teacher and phychologist, so I can listen to them whenever I get a chance. I’ve meditated in a quiet spot in my house, lit with candles…and in my car, and in the gym locker room, and waiting for pickup at the kids schools. Each time I feel like I’m probably doing it all wrong, but I do it anyway. Maybe that should be my mantra, “Do it anyway.”

CB Reads : Becoming Ma and Laura

Lulu and I have been reading again. When I talked about our reading habits a few months back, we had just started the process of finding time to read together. At the time, that meant we’d each pick up a chapter book, snuggle in my bed, and read for an hour or so each night. Somewhere along the line, Lucy shyly asked if I’d want to read out loud to her, like when she was little. Well, I’m gonna keep it real here, that didn’t sound awesome to me! BUT, she was so excited about it, and when Lucy is pumped about something, we all had better hang on for the ride. That’s how I found myself dictating chapters of “The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls-Wilder each evening for the past month.

Now, as far as Laura Ingalls-Wilder books go, “The Long Winter” is a bit depressing. Chapter after chapter the Ingalls family hunkers down as blizzards hit their town, the food runs out, the trains get stuck, and they almost starve. Just a light, little bedtime story! But it is a Newbury Award winner for a reason, and we found a lot of joy in the little moments of this tale, like when Pa gets out the fiddle and plays along with the storm or when Ma finds a way to surprise everyone with a pie when there aren’t ingredients for one in the cupboards. When we finished and Spring finally came to the small town, Lucy actually had tears in her eyes.

A week later I found myself making an apple pie from scratch (I used this recipe) with apples we picked at the orchard. I blame Ma Ingalls. And the Ingalls family attitude has rubbed off on Lucy too. The other day, we were all in a bit of a grumpy mood when she said, “I think I’ll just be cheerful, it always helps keep spirits up when you’re cheerful!”

So I just made an apple pie from scratch. With apples we picked. From trees. I am basically Ma Ingalls. #applepie #baking #marthastewart #recipe #fall

Along with “The Long Winter,” I also just finished the Kristen Johnston memoir, “Guts.” It was soooo good. Lu and I are in the middle of “Walk Two Moons,” and we are super embroiled in the story’s mysterious tone. I’m also reading the Hilary Clinton autobiography “Hard Choices.” This look inside the workings of the 2008 campaign and the Obama administration are fascinating. This is a big hunk of a book, so I’m taking my time with it.

Lucy and I just finished two of these and are now moving on to the other two. Smart, female writers make our hearts go pitter, patter! ?????????????????????? #reading #women #love

Read any great books lately? We are looking for recommendations! I got the idea for “Walk Two Moons” from an Instagram follower. You guys are the smartest!

Farewell to Fall

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Newsflash: Tomorrow the high temperature is around the 30 degree mark….and the rest of the week is looking pretty much the same. It might even snow! Now, honestly, I’m kind of okay with winter coming (insert amazing Game of Thrones joke here, NERD ALERT!) this year. All the seasons have been sort of incredible, and even though I’ll be sad to say goodbye to autumn, I’m ready for warm socks, lots of movies on the couch and as much hot cocoa as I can stand. With marshmallows. Natch.

That being said, this weekend my kids were already in hibernation mode, wanting to spend every free moment in their PJs watching reruns of Pokemon. But mean mama was in full on “WE ARE HAVING FAMILY FUN TOGETHER WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT!” mode, so they grumpily put on some real pants and we went for a fantastic hike in Shawnee Mission Park. This park is one of those places I like to point out to people who think Kansas is all fields and flat nothingness. Look, we have trees!

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We ended up spending most of the afternoon in the park, hiking about 5 miles of beautiful trails and having a picnic in a field overlooking the park. The kids pretended they were explorers and adventurers, Tate bringing his light saber along to ward off any danger. They collected acorns and spotted winter lairs for the animals. Every mile or so we all stopped and took deep breaths, smelling the crunched leaves and filling our lungs with the mild air. It was a glorious way to say goodbye. Fall 2014, you weren’t so bad, if I do say so myself.

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2014 Mini Shoots…the Conclusion

I’ve finally wrapped up all the work on this year’s Fall Mini Shoots, and I have to say…it was so awesome! In the past, these small shoots have felt overwhelming and stressful for me, but this year it all went so smoothly. I’m not sure if it was due to an amazing group of easy-going families or myself being a little more go with the flow these days, but either way, it was an experience I am so grateful for! To everyone who participated, THANK YOU! You helped me rekindle my love of photography, and especially of photographing families. Thanks for reminding me how lucky I am to do what I do.

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