A House in the Woods

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week's topic is

Here is my 5 minute free-writing.

And, go. This is a pre-scheduled Finish the Sentence Friday post, and I can only hope that they didn’t change the topic out from under me, and that this isn’t posting optimistically early on a Friday morning, only to be completely irrelevant to.. everything. I’m going to assume that didn’t happen because the FTSF team wouldn’t do that. And even if so, hi! Here I am! I’m talking about home today. I fear I’ll waste five whole minutes on the introduction alone, but that’s ok. Once upon a time, well before amazing home renovations and the like, I realized this was our dream home. Or at least it had all the potentials of it. When we moved here, I was six months pregnant and we had an October blizzard. No power for 36 hours.

(This isn’t unlike last week’s April Winter Weather Advisory) We moved here and I was six weeks pregnant. I didn’t like the smells, only because there were any smells at all. It took me a long time to shift and adjust to this house, and I’m sure it felt the same about me. The truth is, it has good bones, and I think I do too. Des was settling inside my bones, and I was settling inside these bones. Since then, we have only made it better. There’s still room for a ton of growth, and I’m ready to take any plunges. My five minutes are up but here’s a piece I wrote when I figured it out. The dream, the dream, the dream:

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week's topic is

“When we were kids, my maternal grandparents were snowbirds. Now that they’re 98 and 100, they’ve been permanently locked in the Fort Lauderdale area for over a decade, but my parents and siblings and I remember our New England summers well. They weren’t as flashy as our annual Myrtle Beach, SC or Ocean City, MD vacations. Those were filled with hot beaches and amusement parks and junk food galore. Our just as annual, but not as riveting, New England summer vacations were more subtle in ways I didn’t fully appreciate until I got older. The houses changed over the years.

Sometimes they’d get the same one in Grantham, NH. Once or twice the house was in Vermont, surrounded by golf courses and moose. Often, the house was in New Hampshire amid quiet highways and what I used to think were very tall mountains, until I moved to the west coast. Though the location changed over the years, some things stayed wonderfully the same.

Creaky hardwood floors. Breezy summer nights with open windows. A breakfast bar to gather around. The constant smell of pine. A loft area we loved to stand up on and yell down to the first floor from. Sometimes we even threw things down.

I always knew we were close when driving through the tall trees, we could see windows of light from the houses deeply nestled in the woods. I always knew we were close because the radio would go down and all we’d hear was the sound of tires on a gravel driveway. Then we had arrived, truly. What would follow were long days of book reading or going to the lake, or for the more adventurous of us, we’d go all the way into town to the one restaurant – a pizzeria, and the one place of entertainment – a lonely arcade. Sometimes we’d drive an hour on the suspiciously empty highways to go to a children’s museum that was somewhere..in the middle of nowhere. I honestly don’t know where we were. I love the air of mystery.

On a somewhat related note, during the summer after my father died we did make our trip up to New England. Instead of five siblings, this was back when it was just me, my sister and my mom. This was a year or two before the Brady Bunch marriage. We stopped somewhere in nowhere, Massachusetts at a diner. I really wanted a waffle but they only had pancakes. I was a grieving but adorable four-year-old and the waiter actually, proudly, somehow, had made me a waffle.

I think he put pancake batter in the grilled cheese press. Years later, we still bring up that memory. After I moved from NJ to California to Massachusetts, my mom, uncle and I pieced together where that diner was. In Florence, Massachusetts. Florence is part of Northampton. I live in Florence now. We went to that same diner, years later, when I was pregnant with Scarlet, and sat in the same booth. We also went after Des’ 20 week ultrasound to celebrate our unborn son’s health.

I don’t know the towns and cities we stayed in or trampled upon in New Hampshire and Vermont all those summers ago. However I’m sure somehow I have retraced some of those steps in my adult life. I’m sure I’ve been drawn to them like mosquitoes to the light. Somehow, I always find myself back in meaningful places, without having any conscious way of knowing how to get back there. I do remember that every year, my grandfather would take us to Dartmouth to browse the bookstore. It was mainly my thing so he sometimes would only take me, and we’d eat at a Dartmouth dining hall.

We were restless and easily bored kids, I think. I don’t think that’s unusual. The pace of life in a remote New England town was something I had to grow into. These weren’t your beach New England vacations with clam chowder or lobster in a pot.

This was life in the deep trees, as I always imagined it.

I can’t find any pictures from there, although I’m sure my parents have millions, but here’s a sampling of what my poor elders were dealing with during those trips. They probably just wanted to read and relax for days. We were quite the haul:

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Years ago, Scarlet spent the day with her grandmother. It couldn’t have come at a better time because I was on day two of complete laryngitis and would not have been able to be with her all day without being able to talk to that cute face.

Scarlet was brought back to us near her bedtime, after dusk had passed, and darkness had fallen. We heard the telltale sound of tires on a gravel driveway. I looked out the window to the tall, tall trees. I heard footsteps on the wooden-planked ramp to our front door. And then she was returned to us, sleepy putty in our arms. I was overcome with memories of being that slumped over, half-asleep child being handed from the car to the bed under the watchful New England sky.

The same sights and sounds. The same smell. Just 10-15 years later in a different state, but with the same geography and atmosphere. I could close my eyes and barely tell the difference between the present, and the time that had passed.

It’s funny how we find ourselves back to the places we once found ourselves in, but never imagined we’d settle. Maybe my summers in New England planted the seed in my brain that this was where I wanted to be. Maybe I would have found myself here anyway. It didn’t seem likely in the fast-paced and populated Jersey life I was so accustomed to. It didn’t even seem likely when I was about to move to California and I was pretty sure I’d embrace that lifestyle forever. (I still might)

Yet, here I am in my house in the trees. Gravel driveway and no visible neighbors. Grown up and grown into these bones.”

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “My home..” (5 minute free writing) And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin: HERE.

What would you say?

5 Ways to Celebrate National Laundry Day

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of all®. The opinions and text are all mine.

Did you know that there's a National Laundry Day? Well, there is and it NEEDS to be celebrated. Here are 5 ways to celebrate it, and how all® free clear can help!
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As a matter of fact, celebrating National Laundry Day is an actual cause for celebration in my house!

It has to be, ever since we fell in love with all® Free Clear years ago and never turned back. It’s the PERFECT gentle detergent, whether you have sensitive skin, a newborn, are expecting a baby, or simply don’t like the smell of other laundry detergents! There are a million reasons to love it, including new innovations coming up this year! Intriguing, right? How do you like the sound of all® free clear Odor Relief and POWERCORE TM free clear? So much more to love! I can’t wait to share.

all® is honestly the first name I’ve ever known in laundry, because my parents used it when I was a kid. I remember the blue bottles! The brand covers everything, with compact powder, concentrated liquids, and single dose pacs in all sizes and variants. I love that they change with the times. They make me want to celebrate National Laundry Day! So let’s talk a bit more about why all® free clear is the #1 recommended brand by dermatologists, allergists and pediatricians for skin sensitivity. all® free clear offers a powerful clean, and also fights tough odors with new all® free clear Odor Relief.

all® free clear is safe for the whole family. It combines the power of stainlifters® with a hypoallergenic formula that’s perfect for skin sensitivity. There are no fragrances, no dyes, and no irritating residue. You just get clean, comfortable, worry-free clothes. Personally, I love the mild scent, and the clean clothes I get on laundry day! Also, it’s allergy season, so while these hypoallergenic products rinse clean and are clinically proven to be gentle on skin, they also remove 99% of top every day and seasonal allergens*. all® free clear comes in detergent, sheet and liquid fabric softener. Time to celebrate!

Tip #1 – Get messy! That’s right. Rest assured that all® free clear has your back during this winter to spring mud season. I’ve been doing my own laundry since I was 13, but I was so ill-prepared for just how messy young kids get, day after day. With money stretched tightly – I can’t just throw out their clothes every time they get dirty, like I am sometimes tempted to do when it’s bad! I also can’t stop them from being the wonderful and active kids that they are – mud season and all.

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Tip #2 – Make it a family affair, and with rewards! In our house we’ve learned that laundry day goes swimmingly when we’re all working together. It gets the job done, and correctly. There’s no yelling at Mama because she put Des’ socks in Scarlet’s drawers, when we all take responsibility. This is a wonderful way to connect, to get the job done, and then to offer incentives. For us? That’s going out for ice cream once a week! Especially when our favorite summer stand is now open.

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Tip #3 – Make it more fun. Yes, really. Put on a family movie, OR, watch a TV show during your folding party. We do this, and then during commercials, we take breaks and start mini dance parties, just to loosen up our joints after sitting.

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Tip #4 – Take breaks! Load the washer. Take a break. Load the dryer. Take a break. Spend that downtime doing something really celebratory. After all, it’s National Laundry Day. Maybe a nice snack break, or a quick walk to the park.

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Tip #5 – Keep enjoying your favorite laundry products, and also be open to new innovations! And that’s where all® free clear Odor Relief comes in! It attacks odors while still being gentle on skin. And it has a powerful clean and odor benefit but is also 100% free of dyes and perfumes. When you want to take care of your delicate skin, while also fighting smelly odors, then this is the perfect option! And all® POWERCORETM free clear offers those with sensitive skin a detergent that is gentle for their skin, but will also still deliver a powerful clean in the convenience of a single pac. They combine all® free clear liquid with a powerful whitening core that provides superior whitening and brightening.* 100% free of dyes and perfumes.

Now, do you feel ready to celebrate National Laundry Day? I know we do!

Have you ever celebrated National Laundry Day?

*all® free clear is not intended to prevent or treat allergies.
*vs. #1 liquid single chamber pac