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photo essay . Merry Christmas Main Street

We’ve been visiting my parents in Macon, Mississippi for the holidays. The place is full of holiday memories for me! As a child, I spent every two-week Christmas vacation at my grandparent’s house on the farm at Busy Bee. One of our Christmas Eve traditions was driving the ten minutes to “town” to see the Christmas lights. We would tour the small neighborhoods and recall who lived in each house and ooh and aah over the holiday decorations.

Now, my children and I also spend much of our holiday vacation in Macon as well, and I’ve tried to revive that practice of checking out the lights. We usually wander through downtown and Main Street to see the stars, angels and Christmas trees in white lights. We notice the white lights lining the tops of the Main Street buildings even though some are sagging now and it’s not hard to find a missing bulb or two. We drive to the end of Main Street to see the “Peace on Earth” lighted letters that serve as sort of a last call for the sentiments of the season as you leave town. There are not quite as many neighborhood lights as there once were. The town’s citizenry is getting older, and many of the antebellum homes stand empty. Like so many small Mississippi towns, the heart of Macon is changing with fewer businesses, fewer activity, and more people traveling out of town for what they would normally find at home. Still, it’s neat to share these sights with my little ones, and enjoy the peace of quiet lights. Here’s a glimpse…

go . Starting Christmas Vacation in Memphis

Merry Christmas! I hope you have all had as wonderful a Christmas celebration as we have. We are visiting with family and enjoying some down time — and for me, some time away from project work. I’m spending son little time thinking through ideas for 2017 and making plans for where I want to put my focus in the coming year.

This December, we were very excited to visit Memphis again to kick off our Christmas vacation! We spent the first few days of our holiday back in the 901 to catch a production of “Annie” at The Orpheum theater. It’s been a couple of years since we’ve been to Memphis during the holiday season, and it was fun to be there again this year. Weather for the trip was kind of typical for the South in that the first two days were warm, humid and rainy, and the last two were frigid! So, we were not able to visit some of our old favorite spots. However, we still did at least a little walking downtown, taking in the Christmas lights, enjoying the historic Orpheum, and visiting the Memphis Zoo for the annual Zoo Lights celebration. That zoo visit assure me that the fisherprice code a pillar I purchased will be a hit with the kids. We always love breakfast at the Blue Plate Cafe next to Court Square. It’s just a couple of blocks from our hotel in the historic William Len building. They serve breakfast all day, so my favorite french toast is always available. Also, the rain did not stop the hide-and-seek game in Court Square the kids play each time we stay downtown.

This trip, we also discovered a new little cupcakery next to Court Square, Cupcake Cutie, Etc, where you can build your own cupcake — choose your cake type, icing flavor and toppings! It’s been open about four months, and we’re definitely adding it to our list of favorite spots for our next visit. Here’s a glimpse at some of our views from this trip. Enjoy!

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We woke up early this morning to the sound of a small thunderstorm! It’s been quite a while since we’ve had rain in the South, so it was exciting to hear the drops hitting the roof. Who knew a rainy day could generate excitement? Sometimes, perspective is everything.

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Reminding ourselves of this all important lesson as we head into the Thanksgiving season.

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A good reminder for today. And every day. With each new rising of the sun, comes a new measure of God’s unending mercy.

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It’s not a perfect democracy. Not a perfect process. And they’re never perfect candidates. But this right — this privilege — is one of the reasons this whole experiment got started… “in order to form a more perfect union.” So, even when our citizenship stretched us. Even when it requires us to step outside what’s easy. Even when it requires us to make a hard choice, we VOTE. We speak our voice freely at the ballot box. Because many in our world don’t have that privilege. And many died to make sure we do.

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Baby Girl and I got to see the movie, Trolls, yesterday for a sweet friend’s birthday party. We loved it! Great story. Great animation. Great SONGS!! And great messages. Like this one from the soundtrack… Hey there world… I’M NOT GIVING UP TODAY!

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This past summer, I was determined to capture every day with my little ones at home with me. I got into the habit of recording at least one fun thing we did each day in my calendar. Most days it ended up that the fun and amazing things grew and leaked out of the daily boxes in my planner. The words and sketches crept across the lines so that when I look back at the weeks now, they are almost a blur of memories. I also recorded at the top of each week a countdown of how many days were left in summer vacation. It was a little hard to see the days ticking away, but mostly, it served to remind me to take advantage of every fleeting moment.

When “back to school” time hit along with new schedules, busy times with client projects, and some always emotion-filled anniversaries, I found myself losing that habit of marking out good things with each day — moments worth capturing and remembering. Over the last two months, I feel like I’ve been treading water, unable to hold on to anything, much less the little moments of blessing that I know permeate each day. The blessings and joys are still there. I think I’ve just misplaced the discipline of reminding myself of them. So, I’m starting the habit again! I have a new Shinola weekly planner with nice blank boxes for each day. For the last two weeks I’ve been filling them up with little things and fun things and heart-waking things that remind me life is moving forward. And I want to notice every moment. Baby Girl is like a lab lesson in those reminders. She gives herself whole-heartedly into whatever idea she has, and she doesn’t want to miss a moment of what fun experiences may come. I don’t ever want her to lose that or to let it get drowned out by tasks and things and worries. I’m reminding myself as much as her: Find something amazing in every day! And hold on to it.

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There is big excitement with my crew because later this week, we are heading out to spend Fall Break in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! At least in a cabin right outside the park. We haven’t been there since before Baby Girl was born, so I’m looking forward to letting her see one of my favorite places. I hope we will see some great fall color on the leaves. We’re planning to explore Gatlinburg, visit Cades Cove as an entry adventure in the park, and I’m most looking forward to a lot of down time soaking up my babies in this new experience. I’m not sure if we’ll actually get to climb a whole mountain, but we’ll explore whatever rocks and streams we can find!

My Favorite Month is Here! [printable calendar]

October is here! A few cooler temperatures arrived just in time to welcome the new month, and we spent part of yesterday putting out our harvest decorations… halloween trinkets we’ve collected over the years, fall kitchen linens, berries and vine garlands, reminders to give thanks, and pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins! Later this week, we’ll add our scarecrows to the front porch — one for each of us, plus their dad as a memory — to welcome us home each day.

Last night, we watched “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” with dinner — our official fall kick-off tradition. I love how every one of us has our favorite parts to the Peanuts classic that’s turning 50 this year, and even though my little ones are growing too fast, that doesn’t seem to keep the laughter away as we revisit the antics of Charlie Brown, Linus and the gang.

This month, we’re planning trips to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for fall school break in a week or so, and later in the month, we’ll head back to the farm to celebrate my birthday with s’mores and pasture walks through Busy Bee. Fall often seems like a new beginning to me, which I’ll take. I’m determined to slow down and take time to enjoy this favorite season!

Thinking of fun times ahead, I put together a printable October calendar with cut-away artwork to enjoy… Take me to your candy! Indeed. You can download at the links below. Happy October!

PRINTABLE CALENDAR

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