A Farewell to Fall {twenty fifteen}

September, October, and November played out before my eyes like a beautiful ballet set the most magical of symphonies. Fall, it seems, has become my favorite season. It lives so quietly between the raucous racket that is summer and that hush and darkening that is winter.

In September when the days were still blasted by the Central Valley sun, we spent our back to school evenings relearning old routines, forgotten in the lazy days of summer. We bound ourselves to dance schedules and scout schedules and weekends that are rarely carefree. We buckled down and learned our spelling words and new math equations. We spent the last few moments of sunlight playing with friends and trying to hold on to those last few hours of light.

In October we could almost smell autumn in the air. We pulled out our jeans and boots a little too early, cursed rainy days for being too muggy and not cold enough. We changed our minds about what to dress as for Halloween two and three times, sending this mother into anxious territories. We added blankets at night and layers in the morning and found ourselves reaching for our summer shorts less and less. Then one night, after Trick or Treating, we kissed the mild nights goodbye and welcome the chill of fall with our arms open and boots on our feet.

In November we found gratitude in everything we did. We talked of Pilgrims and Indians, turkey and stuffing. We wraped ourselves in blanket scarves and wore boot socks. Our lives were filled with the sweet smells of pumpkin spice and apple pies and when the wind blew a certain way, sometimes we caught a whiff of pine. This November it rained and we rejoiced, even when we had to be out in it without umbrellas. We said yes to hot chocolate at breakfast, yes to green bean casseroles that we had never made in our lives, yes to more hours spent volunteering in classrooms where we are welcomed and loved. Today I noticed the leaves were changing and falling, that everything was becoming aglow, just in time for Winter, just in time for the season of lights.

Fall came and went, beautifully, set to a song, and I did not hold on. I didn't kick and scream as the months began and ended, because I was as present as possible. I didn't spend my days behind the screen like years past. I didn't post every single moment to Instagram. But we had moments. We had days that were wonderful and days that were forgettable, because we are humans. I'm not a perfect person or a perfect mother, but this season was one of perfection in my eyes. In the way we lived it. In the way we enjoyed the good and the ugly. We had our share of terrible mornings, everyone in tears. We also had mornings where we laughed and sang at the top of our lungs. I did live in a small territory of anxiety for two weeks around Halloween because my kids could not decide on their costumes, so I let go, took a breath, and let them be. I let them choose and change their minds and even on Halloween night, they still hadn't decided, but we went out anyway. Life happened and I was lucky that I didn't miss a moment.

There were so many things I loved about the Fall of twenty fifteen. I loved that Mackenzie decided she wanted to dress like a ghost for Halloween after watching It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, even if she changed her mind the day before Halloween. I loved that I got to volunteer in Caitlin's class and join her on her field trip to the fair. I loved experiencing the Pumpkin Patch field trip again with Mackenzie, and watching her among her classmates. I loved the pumpkin donuts that we made last minute. I loved the date night to the Hubbs class reunion, the days going tailgating, the Sundays that I didn't have to work. After a couple of seasons of stress, this was a season of light, a season of happy. And while we had our fare share of colds and fevers, missteps and trials, we made it through another season of life. I made it through another season of life, and I'm so grateful for that.

November for me has always been about gratitude and reflection, and this year was no exception. I made big moves this year career wise, but this season was a solid reminder that I'm right where I need to be. Physically and mentally. I'm lucky that I can scale back to being a part timer at work. I'm blessed that I have a husband that supports that decision. I know that while this has been a happy and joyous season for us as a family and me as a person, it has also been our leanest season yet. We've had to readjust and for that I'm also grateful. I've learned that I don't need much in this life except time. Time is what is most important to me these days. Time to be myself, time to mother, time to be a wife and friend. I need time to focus on what is important and what is not. I know that time doesn't pay the bills. Motherhood doesn't pay the bills. But time, motherhood, love, happiness, they fill up my cup.

Tonight my cup is full. I'll be honest and say the plans for today were foiled by two kids with coughs and some unusually cold weather for this part of California. But instead of being bummed, I'm here, writing, which feels amazing and cathartic. I'm listening to my girls play. Earlier we sang Christmas carols at the top of our lungs while getting fast food on the way home from Daddy's tailgate. We soon will be snuggling in my big bed, slumber party style and tomorrow we will pull out all the Christmas decorations and decorate our tree. The tree the Hubbs pulled out at my request even if he thinks its still too early for a tree in the house.

For me, fall ends when November comes to a close, so I will bid her farewell  as she leaves in the early morning hours on Tuesday. I will thank her for being so kind and so lovely. And I will ask her to return again next September with more love and wonder to fill up our cups and remind us of what really matters in this life. This beautiful, chaotic, perfect to me, life.

4 Gifts 2015 {Wear}

I'm hooking up with Alyson M for her "4 Gifts" series. 
If you are visiting from the link up, Welcome.

It's week three, and today is all about "Wear". This subject in the "4 Gift" series can get a little out of hand if you are not careful. Some years our "wear" turned out to be pajamas. Some years it's coats. One year it was tiny velour track suits. This year our "wear" is going to be Vans. The kids have been asking for Vans for months now. We were going to go that route for Back to School, but never got around to visiting the Vans store here in town. I’m always leery of buying shoes online, because as my luck has it, they usually don’t fit. So I skipped out on the Vans then, but not now… 

While I was preparing this post, I spent some time on Polyvore and time got away from me. At one point I had added twenty pair! Crazy right? I love Vans and I love the patterns and colors that can capture just about any one's style. The new Disney collection is amazing, but I will always be a sucker for animal prints and cats. Yes, there is a cat pair in that picture! I'm also a classics kind of girl and think that I'll need to reinvest in the classic checkerboard slip-ons of my youth. My girls would love any of these, but if I had to choose for them, I'm pretty sure Caitlin would get the cats pictured on the bottom, and Mackenzie would choose the princess hi tops. 

4 Gifts 2015: Wear

Today's post is short and sweet because as you are reading this it's Thanksgiving. I'll be shopping for Van's similar to this, eating Paleo Apple Crisp, and being a couch potato for most of the day. Have a Happy Thanksgiving friends and be sure to stop by Alyson's blog for the "4 Gifts" giveaway. Check it out below!

Christmas Giveaway!
$165 Target Gift Card  ||  $25 World Market Gift Card  ||  Lace Arm Warmers - Forgotten Cotton  ||  Personalized Cutting Board (9x12") - Laserworkz  ||  Gypsy Dreamcatcher Necklace - Gypsies Box Jewelry  ||  $30 Credit for Keep Collective with Kassie  ||  Adult Coloring Book - This Girl's Doodles

4 Gifts 2015: Need

This is a 4 Gifts post with Alyson M. This post was not sponsored by Old Navy. I just love their clothes and their prices. They are my go to when it comes to kids clothes. 

The countdown to Christmas is on, and I’m getting nervous. What do you buy for the children that have everything? I’m not even joking. I’ve spent the better part of my Sundays cleaning closets, dressers, and rooms filled to the top with too much stuff. That’s why I love “4 Gifts”, it helps me narrow down the choices, and it also helps me focus on what my kids really need. Now in an effort not to be a super Grinch, the “Need” part of “4 Gifts” seems to be the hardest. What do my kids really need? Socks, underwear, coats, or shoes. Those are usually on the list. But seriously? Who wants just socks and underwear? Coats seems reasonable since they usually only get coats at Christmas. It must be a California thing, because we only need them here in Fresno for such a short time! Plus the coats that I have found at Old Navy are so cute, I think they will actually be well received by two children who are only anticipating toys under our tree.
I haven’t bought winter coats in years, because one, like I said before, it’s California, and two we are usually lucky to be blessed with hand me downs. Maybe it’s time to wrap up a warm coat and put it under the tree. The kids always need a warm coat, and layering sweatshirts gets old after awhile. My girls don't like anything too puffy or too stiff, so I thought my best selection would be at Old Navy since they use soft materials like their micro fleece when making their coats.

For Caitlin I picked out some of the items that are on trend for this season. An Army Green Parka, on sale now for $55. Then I loved the red and black plaid wool blended jacket that is only $38. Finally I choose a plum fleece hoodie that looks so comfy and warm, and it’s only $25! I know I can only pick one, but this is a great start. My heart says Plum Fleece, but I really think she’d adore the parka with the furry hood!

For Mackenzie, I’ve stayed neutral and simple. Mac cannot do ruffles or fluff when it comes to jackets. Recently she asked for a jean jacket, which isn’t the warmest for winter, but we can layer if we have to. Plus at only $21, how can I really resist? Then I picked a fleece Anorak in navy blue, that is get this, only $18! That is crazy! Finally I picked a similar wool blend, but for Mackenzie I choose black and white. She’s conservative like that.

The “Need” prompt of “4 Gifts” is always a tough one for me, because I feel like my kids rarely need anything. They have more than enough on most days, but if I can get some useful gifts for school like warm coats, then it’s like two birds one stone. I try my best to stay within the guidelines of “4 Gifts”, it helps me stay within my budget, it helps me gift items that will actually get used, and it helps cut down on the excess toys that, usually get forgotten by New Year’s.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out Alyson’s blog where more bloggers are linking their "4 Gifts" post. And be sure to check out an awesome giveaway below!

Christmas Giveaway!
$165 Target Gift Card  ||  $25 World Market Gift Card  ||  Lace Arm Warmers - Forgotten Cotton  ||  Personalized Cutting Board (9x12") - Laserworkz  ||  Gypsy Dreamcatcher Necklace - Gypsies Box Jewelry  ||  $30 Credit for Keep Collective with Kassie  ||  Adult Coloring Book - This Girl's Doodles

Wear To Where {Family Pictures or Tour your City}

I’m participating in the Wear to Where Tour with my friend Katy, who blogs at Wild and Wanderful.
If you are visiting from the link up today, Welcome and thanks for stopping by.

Where does a part time stay at home mama go when she wants a quiet minute to herself? The answer for me is Target, but I’m rarely dressed up when I hit Target by myself. Most times its after morning drop off and I’m in a variation of my pajamas. And why would I bother to blog about that? Well, actually I have been known to do so, but not this time. Today I’m sharing a new outfit of the day that worked for family pictures, will work for date night, and would absolutely work for that time you just want to look like something other than a “mombie” when you go out for coffee and a little quiet time.

These pictures were taken by the fantastic and talented team at Laura Hernandez Photography. Recently Laura was joined by her equally talented daughter Rachel, and their business has taken off. Rightfully so when you see these pictures. I’m lucky that this talented photographer is family! How cute are we, The Hubbs and I? I love that Laura gets The Hubbs to pose like this. We laugh so much during these photo sessions, because this isn’t us at all. We aren't this kind of couple, but when the time comes we have to much fun. Here he was telling me how unnatural it is to walk and hold someone this close at the same time. He’s a champ every year when we do these pictures! He get’s an even bigger laugh when Laura snaps some head shots for this blog! 

A little peek at Laura's magic!

My original prompt for this post was to tour your city, like a restaurant or museum, and I had every intention of doing that. Time got away from me however and with the chance to have some professional pictures taken for this post I jumped at the chance. In a way, I did tour a city. Laura took us on a walking tour of my former hometown. We took pictures right in front of the courthouse, and I walked the downtown streets of what was once home for the first time in probably twenty years! Some things have changed so much, and yet some are still the same. It took everything I had not to walk into Beverly's Fabrics, one of my all time favorites in Downtown Salinas.

Laura Hernandez Photography

On this day, I wasn’t rocking anything super fancy or out of my comfort zone. I’m in some extra comfy jeggings from Kohl’s, they are in the Juniors Department, and are the softest and most comfortable jeggings I have ever owned. The best part is that you can dress them up or down, depending on your mood. Trust me when I tell you they look equally good with a hoodie and Uggs. The top is new from Old Navy and again is both fancy or casual, depending how you wear it. My boots were a great clearance buy last year after Christmas at Target. This outfit was perfect for pictures and the ride home to Fresno. I even wore it to the neighbors house to watch the UFC fight (what an upset!). I’d wear this outfit again for a girls night out, for a date with The Hubbs, or to school for a Holiday Program or awards ceremony. It is officially on my list of outfits to rotate this season, especially if I add in a blazer or heavy sweater coat.

What do you think? Is this something that you could wear out and about, without looking like you tried too hard? Don't be surprised if I show up on the blog in this outfit of the day again!

Don't forget to check out the giveaway HERE!!

Confessions of a Home Gym Addict

I'm participating in Wear to Wear with my friend Katy, who blogs at Wild and Wanderful!
If you are visiting from the link up, welcome and thanks for stopping by!

I'm a person who has a gym membership but never goes to the gym. That doesn't mean that I don't work out... Sometimes. Most mornings you can find me in the comfort of my own home, before the kids get up, in my living room, getting in my morning work out. The best thing about working out at home is that you really can wear your pajamas to work out. I'll be honest, I don't spend a lot of money on workout clothes. For a short time I had a sweet love affair with Fabletics. From time to time I will buy work out clothes on clearance at Target or Old Navy. Not much effort goes into what I wear at my home gym, but some mornings, especially if my neighbor wants to go running, I will put in a bit of effort.

One of my favorite things to wear, now that it's actually Fall in California, are leggings. Usually you'll find me in black or grey, but at Elevate Conference in May, these fantastic leopard print babies (similar pair here) were in my swag bag!

Leggings, Workout tank, pullover, running shoes. This is how you will find me at my Home Gym. Some mornings I'll do a little Jillian (if I have a death wish). If I have it available "On Demand", I'll try out some yoga. My favorite workouts are short and to the point, because I don't like to work out or waste any time! Yeah, I'm that kind of girl. The great part is that this outfit is also acceptable at school drop off in the morning, and at Starbucks! I can't lose.

Are you one of those people who are devoted to your Home Gym? Leave me some comments on what work outs or DVDs you use. I'm always looking for new material. And be sure to check out the giveaway on Katy's blog!

Find more sweet leggings like my leopard print pair at Agnes and Dora!