Fall Shows and Seasonal Musings

During the spring and winter months, I don’t find myself longing for snow or the holidays. Hearing a Christmas song while the sun shines hot just doesn’t seem appropriate. In fact, fall usually brings out the rare melancholic side of me, as denial sets in and I struggle to adjust to a season of plants dying and the sun hiding the earth from its warmth a little more each day. 

While I am discussing the seasons’ change, I have to mention the invisible switch that inevitably triggers the “fall pumpkin mania.” I don’t like pumpkin. (Or peppermint.) The cynicism inducing cold facts are as follows: those pumpkin spice lattes everyone craves are artificial flavoring, sugar storms with little to no real pumpkin at all. I would consider being less of a scrooge if the pumpkin was at least real. I mean, come on! πŸ™‚ I’m not a total tyrant though; I did make a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving because my husband loves it. See, I can have grace for true love and the fact that at least my pie was low glycemic and contained real pumpkin with health benefits. So there!

Anyways, all that to say, sometine post fall denial and adaption, I find myself embracing cold weather and I hit a festive vein when flurries start flying. I skip the fall decor and go straight to the season that fills my heart with warmth. (Although my sister coerced me into taking a few of her white pumpkins this year. No orange mind you. Such a dreadful color.) My tree went up a few days before thanksgiving, if that’s any indication of my favorite holiday. I’m sure all the fall lovers are horrified, but I offer no apology. Christmas and family time is far too special and jolly a season to only last a few weeks.

With the extra time indoors in the glow of twinkling lights, it feels so right to curl up with a blanket and coffee to a good movie or show with a loved one. Conveniently, this fall has produced  some good tv shows. These are the ones that have fascinated and stimulated my mind. 

Designated Survivor


If you don’t like action, political, or crime thrillers, you might not enjoy it, but the plot of this show is especially intriguing and relevant, coming out of an election season last mont. There is corruption and terrorism, but then there are a few good people trying to do the right thing in a complicated world and imperfect system. Many millenials (myself included) need to brush up on understanding of the way our government is designed to function, and this show is proving to be an incentive for farther research. I also like the close look at the personal, family element of the presidential family in the plot.

Notorious 


Another political drama, except this one shows the inner workings of the media and journalism, specifically the way that correlates with crime and the justice system. I never understood the connections or crossed paths between investigators, attorneys, prosecutors, and journalism before this show. Each have specific functions that can effect the narritive, with the hope that justice is served, regardless of the drama of the journey with all the above factors that play a role. This one isn’t exactly family friendly, when it comes to sexual references and content, but interesting story line non the less.

This Is Us

Heartwarming is the word that comes to mind with this one. Consider it your fall family favorite. The plot follows the story of three “triplets” from childhood to adulthood, and it gives a unique and personal look at the challenges and beauty of adoption, as well as the bond of family. It’s definitely not as high action as the previous shows, but it’s full of twists and surprises. It definitely captured my heart. 

The Crown 



My husband and I started this show on our week long, dreamy Thanksgiving vacation, and we now have a pact only to watch it together. I am captivated seeing the (the current) Queen Elizabeth’s story and her rise to power come to life through this show. The demanding responsibility of royal life, the sacrifice it requires, and the toll it takes on a family unit is difficult to imagine. The World War II era is one of my favorites to study, and seeing iconic history makers like Winston Churchill come to life on screen just makes my inner historian come alive. 

Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love


This last one is worth making the list, plus it is definitely family friendly. It just aired on NBC, and is still available to watch online. I absolutely loved Dolly’s first movie, Coat of Many Colors, and this Christmas special is no exception. They are true stories from Dolly’s childhood in the Smoky Mountains, and are sure to capture your heart and inspire faith and love. Considering the heartbreaking wildfires in Tennessee this week, this story is especially special. 

Happy Holiday season! Stay warm, and enjoy your families.

Β©Brenda Kanagy

Note: I don’t own the photos in this post. 

A Week With Friends

Last month our friends from South Carolina graced us the north with their presence. The guys were working in NYC all week, so it was moms and three kids holding down the fort at home. 

I’m not sure separation ever gets easier. You adapt, but it doesn’t make it enjoyable. We tried to make the most of it  by doing fun things to keep the kids from going stir-crazy and us from getting too lonely. 
Mom life: milk, coffee, Plexus.

There was a library and coffee shop day, a lake day with my sister and her kids, and a park day to feed the ducks. I got a burst of ambition to try the monkey bars on the playground, and I surprised myself by getting through. For some reason when I went back with my husband, I couldn’t do it twice though. Out of shape much? Too bad I couldn’t impress him. πŸ™‚ Truth be told, I have it on video, and I look like a mangled frog. 

I also went yard-saling with my sister one day. The photo proof looks super cute, but in reality, Alex and I were were sweaty and ravenously hungry.

 To top it off, it was nap time, and she leaked profusely through her diaper and left my shirt wet. But I did get some bargains! There was some clothes for Alex, but I also scored a small window unit for a good price. It was perfect timing for my guests whose room got pretty warm during the day. Funny story: I had to hold the unit in my lap on the way home because our vehicle was full of babies and strollers. The seller was pretty concerned about me lifting and holding it, but I was like, hey, I paid for it so its my call from here on. πŸ˜€ So I just grabbed it and awkwardly got it done. 

I carried it upstairs once we got home, and immediately went about stuffing my hungry belly and taking care of Alex. Later, I realized Stephanie had installed the unit herself. She’s an industrious house guest, that one. I never had to wash my dishes, and she even did some plumbing for me because I was too scared I would mess something up. The garbage disposal got plugged, so she took apart the pipes to clean it out, and managed to get it back together without a leak, which is an accomplishment with that finicky pipe. 

My friend’s pregnancy also went social media public that week, and my front porch was honored to host the announcement, featuring the big siblings. πŸ˜‰


Of course, this is how photos mostly go with two year olds. πŸ˜€


My friend, who has a much greener thumb than I helped me get some flowers planted on the front porch. Our house is so far from what I feel is complete, but little corners like this that are arranged help my head relax.

I pulled the old chair out of our creepy cellar, and I think it has a much nicer home now.


We survived and had fun, but we were so ready to be done with the single parenting thing when the guys got back. 

These people inched their way into our hearts at an unexpected but necessary season of life. There are very few people in my life that I can say are forever friends, but these guys are family. Thanks for making our house full of fun and laughter and a tad more drama than Alex alone can produce. πŸ˜‰ We love you!

Β©Brenda Kanagy

Roadtrip WeekΒ 

We barely lived in our house for a week before hitting the road for a full 6 day road trip, the main reason being my friend’s wedding in SC. We decided to break up our trip and (literally) work our way there and back to pay for our trip, plus some. Perks of my husband’s job! 

It was hectic at times, (just have to roll with it) but my camera role shows lots of good times with friends and just the three of us too. We started in New Jersey, then to Philly, and on to South Carolina. From there it was to Tennessee, then north to D.C area before heading home. 

Long days on the road with a baby are not for the faint of heart though. Let’s just say I did a lot of desperate things to keep sanity in tact- things my pre-parent self would have been horrified at. We all made it out alive though, and my man was home for one day (Super Tuesday!) before heading out again. I am relieved to be staying home, even though I miss adventuring together. 

New countertops were waiting to welcome us home at long last. Mr. Kanagy was able to install the faucet and  plumbing before he left, much to my appreciation. Give me my kitchen to prep food and predictable nap times, and I will recover from “travel lag” ok. I ended up getting ill with a violent stomach virus on Friday, but I’m on the mend now. Enjoy the travel photos!

We had to stop at a New Jersey beach while we were close. I had never been to a beach so far north, and it had a different vibe and charm!

Home sweet home. (Kitchen window view)

Β©Brenda Kanagy

The First Week

Apparently, it’s been 16 days since my last post here. Well, it finally happened: we moved!

It’s not a nice thought to move into a home before it’s 100% finished, but we had already eaten up much more time remodeling than we hoped, and it was time to end the communal living and get back to family life with just the three of us. Alex misses her grandma, but she’s been thriving on “normal” again. She’s been a trooper for months! Its incredible what a more predictable routine has done for her naps. She’s been talking 1-2 hours naps each day, which is a monumental breakthrough miracle. 

It’s been glorious having my own space, even in too many corners are still full of boxes. The most inconvenient part of our house at this point is a kitchen without a sink and counters. I could go on about the frustration of delays, but I’m practicing joy so I won’t. πŸ˜€ Thankfully, I have a big tub sink in my laundry room/bathroom. 

Its been such a process, so it makes me feel so blessed to finally have a home again, regardless of all that’s left to do. Here is a photo recap of our first week: 

                                      

Happy Rest Day, friends!

Β©Brenda Kanagy

Hello, Pennsylvania

 Well, an incredible amount of things happened in January so far, but the biggest is our big move across states. I could probably write a book of the still unfolding details. I’m trying to write some of it down, but mostly my camera role is doing the majority of documenting.         We rented a Penske truck and pulled our car so all three of us could sit up front together for the 10+ hour drive. The weather was beautiful all day, and thankfully we made north safely before the weekend of a huge snowstorm. 

We got the truck unloaded (in storage) Saturday night, so we were able to have a relaxing rest day on Sunday, complete with coffee shop time and a football game hang at my sister’s house.   Our first week of work was full. We got the whole house painted before the weekend, largely due to my mom and brother’s help. It is really hard to get much done when one spends hours being a “all you can eat buffet” for a baby 24/7. πŸ™‚

This photo is titled, “why women live longer than men.” πŸ˜‰ That weekend, we utilized #jonas (the snowstorm) as the perfect host for our late Christmas sleepover and holiday with my family. I have to say, things are getting progressively crazier with three new humans added to the mix, but it’s a good crazy.        
  
 I just have to mention that I made a Trim Healthy Mama cheesecake that was delicious, if I do say so myself.      It was a little hair raising Friday night with one overtired two year old who was up crying for what felt like hours, another two year old who woke up crying. Add a 6 month old who was wide awake and ready to party at 11:30, and the rest of the adults staying up with zombie eyes wondering “what is life?” πŸ˜€ Thank the good Lord for white noise machines. Or YouTube white noise clips, in my case. The next night was considerably better though!     There was record snowfall Friday night and Saturday,  and I’m pretty sure that’s an official call and not just my opinion coming from the sunny carolinas the past four years. We planned well for being snowed in a warm house together, but unfortunately there were hundreds stranded on the interstate who didn’t. The national guard got involved to rescue people and supply food and water. Buses took loads of people to the local high school for the night. Even on Sunday, the mess of stranded truckers was still an ongoing cleanup situation when we drove through town. There was a bus load of people doing a grocery store run when we stopped as well. The roads are pretty clear now, but the white is still all around.      The progress on our house is slow but sure, at least that’s what I tell myself. πŸ˜€ The only reason I have time to write this post is because I stayed home (home: as in my moms place) to do laundry, cooking, and have a “normal” day with my trooper 6 month old who has been putting up with a ton of running around, postponed feedings, and hours in car seats and bouncers while we work. 

I can’t wait to settle in our own house again and feel a little more stable. 

More on the house project later. We are two weeks in, eyes closed and fingers crossed. πŸ™‚ We make plans, but in the end it all happens in God’s timing, however cliche that may sound.

Happy week-ending! I, for one, am looking forward to rest day.

Hello and Goodbye

Can you believe 2015 has run out? Watching December end one day at a time left me feeling a little desperate, not because of regrets though; I simply didn’t feel prepared to say goodbye because I’m a sentimental goup, and it takes me a bit to adjust. 

I guess you could say my heart always feels one step behind. I loathe the idea of crunchy leaves and pumkin spice rage as summer is ending, but I begin to enjoy the cooler weather halfway through the season. Just when I’m finally ok with fall, hello winter! (Well, technically that doesn’t happen much in the south, but I’m speaking metaphorically. Plus, we’re moving north, so it works.)

2015 was a monumental year for me and my husband. First time pregnancy, a lot of traveling, a prayer event, job opportunities turned down, big decisions, financial risks, buying a house for the second time, preparing to move across states, and a whole lot more in between the lines, all while adjusting to being parents to a wild and beautiful little girl for the first time. 

With all the transition and hurricane of changes the new year is bringing, I find myself constantly having to breathe. When did I become such a old timer? I think it has something to do with waking up to the value of life and the shortness of time on the earth. It is not worth it chasing after things, coming to the end, and wishing to go back to enjoy things of eternal value like love, people, and beauty. 

I’ve been surprised at the level of anxiety that has begged to make home in my mind due to the humanly overwhelming things that need to be done to make this transition work. I am a forgetful person, and although lists are my lifesaver, they aren’t my saving grace. Ok, bear with my meager attempts to explain that cliche pun. The Lord has asking me to relax my lists and trust Him to remind me what I need to do, step by step. There’s nothing wrong with lists, but they often represent high expectations and strict plans for myself with little grace for flexibility. End result: anxiety. (Not God’s best for me.)

I’m not a die hard fan of new year resolutions. However sad it may be, people rarely stick to them, partly because the goals are often unrealistic or not sustainable long term. Weight loss attempts, for example, are often ditched within the first month. Nobody is going to stick with the green smoothie cleanse route for very long, plus that’s a very unbalanced diet.

The short term binge mentality, followed by shame after failure is not healthy, physically emotionally, or spiritually. Most of the time, it’s the simple every day choices turned habits that make the biggest long term changes. I want to embrace and enjoy the journey, including the challenges that will strengthen me.

My husband set a goal to read ten books in 2015. (He is not a reader.) Realistically, he only read five in our crazy year, but that’s not worth being bummed about. It is worth celebrating the milestones we do have and the progress we have made in our journey even if it looks different than what we expect. I want to learn to embrace the journey.

It’s not that God is asking me to expect less or make my dreams and goals smaller. On the contrary, I think my dreams and expectations are actually low on the scale of Gods plans, but that’s the clincher. My plans are not His plans. With my plans, I might be average. I might do average things, and I might feel successful with my accomplishments. With God’s plans, the impossible is possible, and although that ride is crazier, I get to trade anxiety in my weakness for peace in His ability. 
He always shows up.

There are a lot of lists I would love to check off in 2016, but a lot of them are variables. I need grace to hold my plans loosely and stay close to His thoughts about my life.

Let’s do this, 2016!

Β©Brenda Kanagy 

An (“Adulting”) Merry Christmas To You

Merry Christmas to all my readers from my little family! I hope all your days (not just this holiday season) are merry and bright. Most of all, I hope our Savior and Friend, Jesus, is known closer than ever this new year. 

This was my husband and I’s first Christmas alone together, (we usually spend it with my family) and how fitting that it should be the first year we are parents.  To be honest, the first part of our day was a little sucky (or we were sulky) with responsibility and sadness at the changes, but by mid-day, we got over ourselves. We had two last minute invites, but I’m glad we owned the whole adult thing and made a little Christmas dinner feast of our own. (It can be an adjustment going from being carefree kids at Christmas to the parents who have to do all the work. God bless adults. :D)

I have been battling a lot of scoliosis and postpartum related muscle and nerve pain + migraines so that was one reason my days (not just Christmas) have been a challenging lately. That puts a bigger load on us all when I don’t feel well. We made some good memories though, and I am thrilled that I feel 85% improved and still have some leftover energy today, which is a huge victory. Especially at this late hour. (Late for parents, of course.) 

Today, was all about an early-ish flea market run, more packing, taking a family trip to the trash dump, late lunch, dishes, some cleaning, a little guitar playing/laundry folding/Baby loving session in the nursery before bed. All around a good Saturday. 

Here’s a fun Christmas throwback/comparison from last year to this year. One year can sure make a big difference. Christmas 2014, (top) Baby was on the inside making me sick, and this year, (bottom) Baby is on the outside still making herself very known. Parenthood is proving to be a challenging, (dying to self) beautiful adventure.   Alexandra Honor has changed our lives forever and is making us better humans. Here’s to 2016!

P.S. To make today even better, it is our 3 year & 2 month wedding anniversary. Cheers!

Β©Brenda Kanagy