welcome to another look behind the scenes of hello there, friend! beth, here. i live with my husband and three kids (two middle schoolers and a high schooler) in a yellow farmhouse, in the middle of a small college town in southwest virginia. we landed here almost 15 years ago, after living in the shenandoah valley area, where we both went to college, married, and started a family before moving. i teach struggling first grade readers when i'm not acting as taxi-driver, reading a book, writing a blog post, taking pictures or making dinner.
our family spends a lot of time outside - or we try to. we live in a beautiful area of virginia, not too far from both the appalachian trail and the new river. we spend a week or two camping each year in florida, where my husband grew up. the older our kids get the more we find this kind of unplugged time important. we are avid birdwatchers (aka: birdnerds) and nature enthusiasts.
What does a typical day look like?
i wake before 6 and stumble downstairs to consume coffee. i wake my kids up between 6 and 6:20 for school and by 7 they are out the door. then there is an hour of quiet bliss before i need to get myself to work. i often write a hello there friend post or read during this time, but sometimes i walk. i work part-time as a reading specialist at a local elementary school during the morning hours, returning home around 1, unless i have errands or appointments. the kids come home at 3 and then it's driving to and from until the dinner hour. in between i try to either have a book in my lap or earbuds and tennis shoes in my van so i can read or walk during the few minutes here and there. after dinner, which i always make (lindsay is so lucky!!), we gather in the living room to watch an episode of an old survivor season or amazing race. then, it's time to cajole everyone into bed, where i land too, book in hand. i try to turn out the light between 10 and 10:30.
What does gratitude mean to you and how do you incorporate it into your everyday life?
i was first introduced to the idea of gratitude by reading one thousand gifts by anne voskamp, maybe four years ago. since then i have kept a gratitude journal. i find that the physical act of writing a list compels me to look for and notice even more. often when i start a list on paper, i am reminded of so much more than i meant to list, i'm more aware of my senses and what i'm experiencing at that moment, or i'm savoring an experience again. for the years i kept up a 365 on flickr, i often wrote this list to accompany the day's image. now, i'm more likely to make my lists on instagram, but like my gratitude journal the most. we talk about gratitude at the table around dinner and i find myself telling my kids throughout the day what i'm grateful for.
How do you stay connected to those you love?
while i would prefer to see my friends and family in person, both my college friends and my family are hours away. my sister and i are big fans of the talk and walk. we often catch up by phone (and earbud) during the week while we walk. i do the same with my parents more often bi-weekly. my college friends and i gather with each other several times each year - once with our families and a few times without. with both family and friends, i try to connect via email every month or so with a general update on life. and of course, text messages and instagram are ways of connecting, too.
What's inspiring you right now?
sunshine, spring, podcasts (the robcast - with glennon melton and krista tippett, zen parenting radio) thoughts about simplicity and minimalism via joshua becker, the contemplative life via kathleen norris, meal planning and trips to the river.
What's on your bedside table?
a lamp, two journals, dust, an earplug, and a HUGE stack of books. among them: reclaiming conversation by sherri turkle, parenting without power struggles by susan stiffelman, my grandmother asked me to tell you by fredrik backman, the cloister walk by kathleen norris, vitamin n by richard louv, and how to talk so kids will listen and listen to kids will talk by faber and mazlish.