The Thanksgiving Tree has become a farm tradition. We have a branch, old and dry now, that stay’s standing in a crockery pitcher in the corner, waiting to be set at center stage on the table during our Thanksgiving holiday week. Held up by rocks collected from the road, the “tree” started as my effort to sow some seeds of gratitude when my children were young. That first year, we set up our tree at home using a branch we had found on the farm during October. Baby Girl was only a couple of months old — too young to offer her contributions, and the boys were at a stage when it wasn’t hard to get them to look for sticks! The idea was to add paper leaves or shapes to the tree each days with little “Today I’m thankful for…” messages written on them. We never did it every day. We weren’t that disciplined. But, it gave us a chance to talk about gratitude at the dinner table, and make note of our blessings.
Since then, we’ve spent every Thanksgiving at the farm, and the Thanksgiving Tree has become something we do during our week there. The first year we stayed at Busy Bee for the holiday, we found a branch, and we’ve kept it since. Some years, we’ve cut out our own leaf shapes. And, several years, I’ve created a printable for us to use and also share the tradition with others. I was looking back at a few “leaves” from the years, and it was such a blessing to see each of our hearts revealed in those few words. The treasured places, possessions, and people. It was sweet to see my loves’ handwriting change over time as they’ve grown. And, neat to see that some of our gratitude hasn’t changed. Through all the changes in our lives, what a blessing to count our blessings!
I’ve shared some of our memories here, and I’ve included another printable for 2017. You can download here or click the image below if you’re celebrating with your own Thanksgiving Tree. I’m looking forward to pulling that crockery to the forefront again next week, and adding these tags to it.
As I wrote about that very first Thanksgiving Tree…
I’m convinced that gratitude is an antidote to worry and complaint, and it’s the catalyst for kindness and generosity. In times of joy, in times of hardship, I need it. We need it.
November has slipped in under the radar for us. October was filled with projects and kids activities, a few weeks of travel, all topped off by a little Halloween fun with parties and trick or treating with friends. The last week has been crazy with enough activity to make my head spin. I had the opportunity to travel to Asheville, North Carolina last week for a public relations conference, and I’m still processing all the great information presented there. I came home to a sweet birthday celebration orchestrated by my Baby Girl, complete with decorations, a rainbow cake that “Special Agent Rainbow” decorated herself, hand-wrapped presents, and a pretty robust party plan. That celebration shifted right into Halloween class parties and a failed attempt to find a pumpkin to carve into jack-o-lantern guise. Trips around town to all the grocery stores yielded not a single pumpkin, so we had to satisfy ourselves with postponing that tradition until next year and promises for me to plan better! We visited with dear friends on Halloween night for party foods and trick-or-treating, and suddenly, we woke up to a new month! November, the month for “grateful praise,” has arrived, and I’m totally unprepared! So, today (a day late with my printable calendar), I’m reminding myself that gratitude doesn’t really require much preparation. Just a heart decision. And a commitment to looking at each moment in a new way.
On our schedule this November:
- A new branding and strategic planning campaign for one of my long-time clients
- Celebrating a trip to the district Reading Fair for Baby Girl
- Pulling together proposals for a few new clients
- Preparing to chaperone Travis’ trip to Auburn, Alabama with his robotics team
- A few new holiday products I have in the works (hint: pennants and the North Pole)
- Celebrating Elisha’s 11th birthday
- Our annual trip to Busy Bee for Thanksgiving week
- Christmas decorating weekend
- The anticipated arrival of Gabriella, our family elf
- Watching Travis march in the Christmas parade
It’s an exciting month. The cooler temperatures are finally here. There is anticipation in the air for what’s coming up. And, a little fear of the rush of those activities. November’s rich tapestry of celebrations and demands can be intimidating. With the turn of the calendar, I find myself ushering in a renewed desire to draw my blessings closer, to nurture only the thinking that pulls me forward, and to protect the most precious moments from distractions and urgencies that water down my attention. The challenge November is to live each hour by carving out my own priorities. And, as this month’s printable calendar reflects, to fill those hours with rightful and grateful praise. I invite you to download the calendar and enjoy. Happy November.
I’m so excited to be welcoming October into our lives this week! It’s my favorite month during my favorite season of the year… autumn! October usually likes to play with us in Mississippi, with both summer and fall days, but those crisp blue skies and the blooms on my sasanqua camellia don’t lie. Autumn is on the way.
This month, I’m looking forward to a couple of travels that are sure to give me a fresh change of scenery, some great autumn views, and the chance to experience some new things. Later this week, we’ll be traveling back to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park during our school’s fall break, and the children and I are looking forward to seeing the mountains again and getting a glimpse at the beginning of leaf changing season. Then, later in the month, I’m traveling to Asheville, North Carolina, for a public relations conference. I’ve never been to Asheville, and I’m hoping to have a few moments during the trip to explore the downtown area. And, of course, more changing leaves and the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.
Meanwhile, we took a trip up into the attic last weekend to retrieve our boxes of fall decorations, and the house is slowly starting the reflect the harvest season — with a few spooks thrown in. We’re planning to have our annual “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” viewing with popcorn tomorrow night, so it will feel like the season has officially begun.
I pulled together a few autumn images that are inspiring me today, and I hope you enjoy this month’s printable calendar along with its cutaway art. It’s taken from a similar autumn print in my Etsy shop. You can download at the links below. Happy Fall, Y’all!
August is here, and it brings our last week of summer vacation. Next Monday, my little ones (who have grown considerably taller almost before my eyes these last few weeks) head into a new school year, and my routine shifts again. It’s hard not to focus on August as an ending… the end of our carefree days together. The end of summer. The end of unplanned trips and soaking up my loves. In fact, sometimes August is a really challenging month for me as I transition from noise and questions and activity and giggles in the house all day, to the quietness of alone time as my children are at school. After finally adjusting to grabbing time for work and creative projects in between the excitement of so much summer fun, I find that nothing zaps creativity and productivity quite like the deafening quiet of an empty house! Still, there is a kind of rest in the order of more scheduled days and the discipline of making new commitments. Last week, I came across a quote by the philosopher and theologian, Meister Eckhart, that really resonated with me… “And suddenly you know: it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”
Trust the magic of beginnings.
I forget sometimes that the magic of new possibilities rests in any beginning. We only need to keep our eyes open to notice it. These last few weeks, we’ve been making decisions about what extra-curricular activities the children want to be involved in this year, and I’ve been narrowing down some new directions for my businesses and new product ideas. I feel the pull in a few key areas for our family, and I’m actually excited to see what God has in store for us as we begin to follow. I’m excited that we’re actually paring down a couple of our evening activities so that we can focus on building faithfulness and continue to strengthen home base. I’m praying that as we say goodbye to all that we love about summer, we will be keenly aware and open to the new things God is bringing our way in this new season and schedule. I’m praying that we will trust the magic to come, and be prepared to wonder at how things settle in just as they’re meant to.
I decided to paint a portion of the Eckhart quote as a cut-away part of this month’s printable calendar. I hope to create a larger piece with the full quote, so watch for that! Meanwhile, I hope you’ll grab this little piece of free art to mark your August days. May it remind you to trust the magic in each one. Enjoy!
July always starts with a bang as bunting and fireworks take center stage! This midway point of summer is a fitting time to celebrate the birth of freedom in America, plus take time to be thankful for the blessings afforded to us living in this great country. I’m trying to get back into the routine of creating more printable artwork to post here, and I decided to update one of my designs from last year for July. I hope you enjoy this way of marking the days! The calendar includes a little extra artwork at the bottom so when the month is gone, you can clip it off and send as a card or display on your desk. Happy July!
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!
August is here, and I really can’t believe it. Every year at this time I wonder where the summer has gone, and today it really hit me… school starts this week! In our neck of the woods, classes begin on Thursday, and just like that, carefree days are behind us. We’ve had a wonderful summer together, traveling, exploring, playing and setting aside some intentional down time! I can’t help but be a little sad because I’ve really enjoyed the privilege of having my little ones at home with me for the last two months or so, but I’m also excited about new things in store. Two of my children are heading to new schools this year. We are trying a few new clubs and after school activities, and we have some new church plans and work endeavors to look forward to. Although it marks the end of summer, it seems August is bringing us new beginnings as well. This week, we’re gearing up, getting our spaces in order, organizing new supplies, and soaking up a few more unscheduled weekday hours. I hope you can relish the new beginnings this month may bring into your life as well!
This morning, I put together an August printable calendar with cut-away artwork I hope you can share when the month is over. You can download the art at the links below. Happy August!
I can’t believe July is already here! It seems like the summer is speeding by, but we are putting a lot of energy into enjoying every day! I hope you’re marking your summer days with a wonderful mix of laziness and fun activities. My babies are returning from camp today, and we’re heading into a long 4th of July weekend. This month for us will include science camp, a trip to the beach, and probably a little preparation for the start of school in early August – but we don’t want to think about that right now. Today, let’s just enjoy the carefree days of summer for another month!
I’ve put together a July printable calendar that includes some cut-away artwork celebrating the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” You can download the art at the links below. Enjoy your July!
Today is our first official day of summer vacation at home in Starkville! We left town the day school let out to spend the week at the farm to celebration the break, and now, we are back home settling into the more relaxed summer routine. I’ve been looking forward to summer vacation for a couple of months, and it feels like I’ve been in a constant state of saying, “we can do that over the summer!” Each year, though, I find myself stunned at just how short the summer is.
In one of my more “mommy’s weird” moments last week, I decided to count how many actual days we have for summer vacation. It’s 71. Seventy-one! Today, that number is 64. They’re already moving fast. As a child, I remember summer being kind of an endless lazy haze. As a parent, I find myself begging time to slow down. I felt like I overcommitted the children last year to camps and activities — all wonderful opportunities, just not the opportunity to be unscheduled. As I began planning for this summer, I determined that we would devote the time this year to togetherness, to captured moments, and to more unscheduled wandering. At the farm last week, I started writing notes in my journal about all the simple, but wonderful fun things we did each day. It was nothing fancy, just things like playing charades, having a picnic, watching our own Scooby Doo marathon, walking to various parts of the pasture, throwing rocks in creeks, and more. I decided I would try to continue writing the memories for each of those 71 summer days.
In that spirit, I put together a little printable calendar for June called “What I Did This June.” Instead of the traditional calendar layout, it has a place to write at least one memorable or ordinary thing for each day. I hope you enjoy the chance to capture your moments!
CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Happy June, friends! We had some very nice down time at the farm last week to begin our summer vacation. Now, I think I’m probably more excited than the kids are that we have a break from school. It gives me the chance to spend more time with my sweet ones, and I’m looking forward to a little bit more of a relaxed work schedule. I’m hoping we can do a little exploring this summer, which I’ll share more about later. I’m also pretty sure, we’ll have our share of lazy, hazy days!
To celebrate the start of summer vacation, I’ve put together a June printable calendar and desktop wallpaper using some watercolor doodles. The printable includes some cut-away artwork to encourage more summer laziness after the month is over. Enjoy!