Fall Bucket List

We are a few weeks into fall, and it already feels like it is flying by!  As the calendar fills up, I tend to let the fun things slide.  Here is my autumn bucket list:


1.  Attend the school's fall carnival.

2.  Paint or carve a pumpkin.  Or both!

3.  Buy something with an autumnal scent--a candle, soap, potpourri.

4.  Roast pumpkin seeds (This is a job for my husband Dan.  I have no patience for pumpkin guts!). 

5.  Decorate for fall and Halloween.

6.  Make a Halloween-themed menu for dinner.

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Emily Rowell Brown
One year

This weekend flooded me with memories.  Exactly one year ago, our daughter came to live with us and I started a new job as vicar of a small country church.  Much about the weekend was exactly the same as the previous year: the first fallen leaves crunched beneath my family's feet as we walked the familiar trail in our neighborhood, the church was decorated with pumpkin, hay, and all things autumn for its "Homecoming" Sunday, I inadvertently chose the exact same dress for Sunday morning as I had last year.

It was surreal how much was so familiar.  And yet so different.

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Emily Rowell Brown
Healthy kids' snacks

So many of the snacks suggested for children today are junky or nutritionally empty.  There's nothing wrong with pretzels, but there's nothing great about them either.  Our daughter C of course receives her fair share of treats and less-than-healthy snacks, but we try to take every opportunity to sneak in extra nutrition.  Here are some of our favorites, kid and adult approved!

Note: we're vegan, so all of these snacks are free of dairy, egg, and meat.

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Emily Rowell Brownfood, vegan, kids, healthy
Behind closed doors

We have been introducing our newly five-year-old daughter to the bike, and, to put it mildly, it has been trying.  Never mind that the training wheels are still on the the bike, the terrain is smooth and flat, and the distance we are covering is short--we may as well be asking our child to bike Mount Everest.  Over the past few weeks, we have seen so many tears and screams. 

I know all of the advice: keep the bike rides short and fun.  Do not get into a battle of wills.  Be patient; every kid is different.  Easier said than done.

We live in a very bike-unfriendly area.  Our neighborhood is practically a mini mountain, and we have no sidewalks, which means our rides are limited to our driveway, or we must venture out to parks and empty parking lots for practice.  That means that all of our bike rides are public, and I am keenly aware of how many eyes are scrutinizing our parenting decisions.

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Lazy friendship marriage

Lazy friendship marriage--it's so easy to slip into.  You're extra tired after an especially hard few weeks at work, and you turn out the lights with a quick peck on the lips.  Your dinner conversation becomes all about calendars and kids' schedules and home maintenance.  When you do have a few free moments together, you sink in front of the TV or schedule one of the appointments you have been putting off because it is so hard for you both to find the time.

You're a great team, fantastic roommates, awesome business partners.

But a marriage?  Where did you, the husband and wife, go?

I could talk about all sorts of ways that our daughter's sudden arrival made our marriage stronger, but the quick and easy response is that we started going on dates again.  We put the babysitter on the calendar, and we prioritized our marriage.

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Favorite finds

Every so often, I like to share some of my favorite discoveries that I think others may also enjoy.  Please chime in with your favorites!

1.  Library extension for Amazon

Did you know that you can check if your library has a book every time you find a book on Amazon?  I find it much easier to search for titles on Amazon than on my library's interface, and I love seeing at a glance if a book is available.  I know I read more broadly and save more money because of this genius app!

2.  Switched at Birth and The Fosters

Both of these shows are from the Freeform network and have clear agendas, but I don't care.  I'm enjoying streaming them on Netflix and being entertained while learning a little something new.  Switched at Birth debunks some myths about deafness, and The Fosters examines the foster system (Dan and I of course resonate greatly with the latter).  


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I have noticed a trend lately in my media consumption, and I am not thrilled.  My Kindle has begun filling up so much that I forget which books I am currently reading.  I will overfill my Buffer queue (Buffer is a social media scheduling service that I use so I do not bombard everyone with ten articles in a single half hour span) and run out of time slots in my free account.  The number of unplayed podcasts I have on my phone overwhelms me.  This is too much media, I am realizing.  I cannot possibly absorb and digest it all.

Don't get me wrong: I love how easy it is to learn about nearly any imaginable topic now, thanks to the internet.  Everyone dabbles because we can.  We are all jacks of all trades, but, I would also argue, many of us are masters of none.  We can go broad with the click of a mouse or swipe of our finger but rarely do we go deep.  My book club recently read The Shallows, and although I have some criticisms, I found myself nodding in agreement with the author's central argument: We consume so much so quickly now that our brains are forgetting how to think critically and sustainedly.  I keep pushing myself to take in more, more, more so that I will become "smarter," but is more necessarily better?  

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Funny things that I do now that I have a kid

Certain changes I anticipated when I had a child: I have wipes stashed on every floor and in every car, I always carry several snacks with me, and my daily word count totals at least twice what it was in my pre-kid days.  But other shifts in my behavior I did not expect.  In fact, some of them run completely contrary to the pictures our culture paints of parenthood.  For instance:

1.  I read more now.

While my book count certainly approaches nowhere near what it did during my college and graduate school career, I read more books than I did before having children.  I am stuck waiting much more often now in carpool drop-offs, sporting events, and appointments.  In these awkward pockets of time, I try to read a few pages on my Kindle app rather than clicking through my social media feeds.  While I know that my daughter does not know whether I am reading on my phone or bouncing between click bait articles, I know, and I am more self-conscious about how I am spending my downtime.

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Books that changed the way I see the world

I am an unapologetic book lover.  I remember going to the library as a child and carrying a huge stack of books home.  I knew the checkout limit (It was thirty-two books).  Perhaps it is because I am an introvert, and I love how reading allows me to be alone but still engaged, or perhaps it is because I savor silence, but books hold an important place in my life.  

I try to track books here, but some reads are admittedly better than others.  I am hard pressed to name my favorite books, but I can think of some books that changed how I approach the world.  New worlds open up to me as I take in different voices and perspectives.  These are not necessarily the best books that I have ever read, but they touched me on a very personal level.  Here are eight titles (arranged chronologically, from the book I first read to my most recent find):

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