Then and now


Welcome to the Field Guide to Everyday Magic Blog Hop! I’m honored to be hosting the very first giveaway of this beautiful publication. It’s a pocketful of inspiring prompts and gorgeous images with plenty of pages for you to fill in, and you can tuck the whole thing right in your purse! I’ve written a special post here to kick off the blog hop in the spirit of Bella Grace. Please read on and be sure to leave your comments below for a chance to win a free copy of the field guide. By the way, I’ll also be including some extra goodness in the package just from me to you! Comments will remain open until 9pm Eastern time on Thursday, August 10, 2017. I’ll choose a random winner and then announce the name in a new post here on August 11th! Good luck and enjoy! This giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only, but if you are overseas, you may be eligible to win a digital copy of Bella Grace magazine.


Do you remember how it felt to be three years old? Or six even? I don’t recall entirely, but I do see flashes of my early years thanks to my two young children. While I am intentionally parenting them and guiding them through their days, my daughter and my son are also unknowingly schooling me in the art of living with a child’s spirit. They see life through such clean lenses, unencumbered by the smudges and stresses of adulthood. They remind me to loosen up and lighten up time and time again.

“Mommy, watch! Look what I can do!” my three-and-a half-year-old son calls out from the bathtub. I’m sitting right there, just inches away from him, but he projects with volume and enthusiasm nonetheless. I put my phone camera down and give him my full attention, ready for whatever stunt he is about to perform. He tips himself backward, throws his legs up in the air, and gets the back of his head wet. Then he pops up again with a huge grin. The proud look on his face clues me in: that was it. That was what he wanted to show me. I smile and raise my eyebrows in surprise. “Oh wow, buddy,” I say. “Nice job! How did you do that?” It’s nothing significant to an adult, perhaps, just tipping back like that, but I can see how pleased he is. “Like this! Watch, I’ll show you!” he says, doing his maneuver all over again. Water splashes on the wall, the floor, and me, but my son doesn’t notice. He’s still smiling, bubbles stuck to the side of his head. “You can do it, too, when you get little again like me,” he says.

That expression has come up on multiple occasions since then, like when he dismantled both of our couches and built a mountain of cushions upon which to climb. Or when he dumped half a jar of colored bath fizzies into the tub and showed me the dark bluish-grey “thunder water” he had created. My son knows I’m grown up, but he firmly believes that I’ll get little again someday. In a way, perhaps I can. My physical body is full-grown and will continue to age in the years to come, but my spirit doesn’t have to. I may have a whopping credit card bill to pay this month and lots of logistics to keep track of when it comes to raising a family, but my vision doesn’t have to be jaded. It can be tinted by whatever colored bath fizzies I want to add to my day.

At six, my daughter is a creative wellspring. She loves to keep busy, but she also seems to understand the need for reflection. Sometimes she asks for permission to go outside on the deck by herself, “just to listen to the sounds.” I oblige, thrilled that she takes the time to slow down and tune in to nature. On occasion, she brings a notebook and paper with her to sketch flowers in the garden. Other times she sits in the tree swing or picks a bouquet of zinnias and Queen Anne’s lace. Her demeanor is always calmer and happier when she comes back in the house, flowers in hand. She then gives me a report of all the sounds she heard, which lately have included the music of cicadas, the chirping of goldfinches, the cawing of crows, and the ringing of our wind chimes. Some days she tells me about seeing her chipmunk friend Chit-Chit or glimpsing something out of the corner of her eye that might have been a hummingbird.


I didn’t have colored bath fizzies when I was little, but I do recall loving bubble baths. I also adored picking Queen Anne’s lace for my mom. I even remember her teaching me how to dye the flowers by putting food coloring in their water. As an homage to then and in honor of now, I decided to teach my children the trick. I thought it would be fun to try it with bath fizzies instead of food coloring, but apparently the fizzies weren’t strong enough. The next day I got out the food coloring and we squirted about 20 drops in each little glass vase. My son made some “thunder water,” my husband opted for a reddish-burgundy, my daughter mixed up a deep violet, and I went for liquid sunshine. Before breakfast, we placed the Queen Anne’s lace in the vases and let the flowers take a long, colorful drink. What we found after lunchtime delighted all four of us. It’s amazing how flowers and food coloring can brighten the atmosphere and lessen the stress of everyday life! If you’d like to see for yourself, gather some white flowers like Queen Anne’s lace, daisies, or mums, some food coloring, a few clear glass bottles or vases, and go for it! I suggest cutting the flower stems on the diagonal and making sure they aren’t too long. The shorter the stem, the quicker the color will travel up to the flower!



How about you? What activities delighted you as a child? In honor of then and for the sheer joy of now, I encourage you to do at least one again. Tell me about it in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of the Bella Grace Field Guide to Everyday Magic! Your body may be grown up, but you can still be young at heart and filled with light!


80 thoughts on “Then and now

  1. When I was young, I loved being read to or being told stories. I also liked to tell stories to my baby sister and my dolls. Story has always been an important part of my life and still is.

    1. I am from Texas. One winter, it actually snowed. I have photos of my family in the middle of the University of Texas football stadium making snow angels and sliding down the step banister at the Capital. Those photos are a treasure to me because I really don’t remember much from that particular time of my life, but apparently I had a LOT of fun!

  2. As a young girl, I loved catching fireflies at night and watching them light up as they crawled across my palm. As an adult, I still try to capture that magic by hanging twinkling lights in the branches above a picnic table in my backyard.

  3. I loved to dance alone in my room. To this day I still dance whenever I get the chance to be alone!

  4. When I was young I spent hours on the floor playing Jacks. I’m now 64 and although it’s harder to get down on the floor, I still can play a pretty good game of Jacks!

  5. When I was young, I remember sitting with my cousin, book in lap and reading nursery rhymes. Such a special memory!

  6. When I was young I loved to Draw!! I could it get enough if it! I loved the possiviliti s that a blank Sheet Of Paper Presented and I would often start drawing not really having an idea of how it would end up. I often try and tap
    Into that childhood imagination often.

  7. When I was young I thought I could fly. I notice that when I capture that same feeling I feel my happiest.

  8. I loved to read when I was younger and still do. I always have a book within reach. I am delighted that my 11 year old granddaughter is also a voracious reader. Walking to the car, in bed, on the couch, laying upside down on the chair, always with a book in hand. This summer we both lay on the hammock under the maple tree, reading the summer away.

    1. Reading the summer away sounds fantastic! I am a book lover too…always have been! Thank you for sharing here, and enjoy the rest of your summer, Barbara!


  9. Oh, so many- the fireflies, blowing bubbles, reading under a willow tree, climbing the apple tree and hanging out there. Things I hope my grandchildren are enjoying now!

  10. Lovely post, and I love the idea of coloring Queen Anne’s Lace – I’ll definitely be trying that. When I was young, I delighted in folding origami animals. Paper and folding still fascinates me but it’s been a long time since I’ve made animals. I think I’m inspired to make a butterfly to watch over my Queen Anne’s Lace.

  11. Moon picnics with a menu of buttered noodles and M&Ms on the side were cherished then and cherished now with my grandchildren. Not sure how the menu got started, but it continues to be celebrated.

    1. Moon picnics!!! I love it! And that is quite a menu! How wonderful that you are continuing the tradition with your grandchildren!


  12. I remember laying on a wood floor, in a patch of sunlight near a west facing window…soaking up the warmth of the sun on a cold Montana day & watching dust particles dance and swirl in the streaming light. I thought perhaps the dust particles were really tiny fairy babies…so small but so lively. I was about three or four and so enchanted by my encounter with dust fairies that I layed there until my patch of sun had gone.

    1. This is such a rich and magical description, Teresa. I can picture it just as you described it! Thank you for sharing your enchanted encounter here!


  13. As a child i remember spending summers at my aunt’s house & playing for hours outside with my cousins. We would have mud fights, go searching for treasures and create as many magical adventures as our little hearts could conjure up.

  14. I was always an avid reader as a child, but I always looked forward to the opportunity summer brought to read on a blanket on a newly mown lawn or even hidden away in the crook of one of the pine trees I loved to climb.

  15. I loved to climb trees and our back yard was full of apple, pear and cherry trees. Today I want to be close to their grounded resilience – breathe them, be them.

  16. I remember going to the beach as a child (we lived by the Long Island Sound). I wasn’t much of a swimmer, but I remember the sound of the waves, the taste of the salty air and the sun glistening on the water. Every time I am at a body of water, i.e. Lake Eerie, an ocean, it takes me back to my childhood.

  17. I spent a month with my 7 year old grandson, he reminded me how easy it is to play, whether with bubbles, bath time, or going outside. He would announce that it was pajama day and he wore his all day, proudly. Setting aside the busy and just playing, we forget how much we need this as adults. Time to go and play!

    1. Thank you for sharing this, Kathee! Children are so good at reminding us to play, aren’t they?! We have pajama day here at our house sometimes, too!


  18. I loved as a child playing hide and seek during the long summer nights. It would be myself and 5 or 6 other neighborhood kids. It would be so much fun and invigorating. I miss it!

  19. When I was young, we would go camping in the Adirondacks. I remember the earthy, mossy smell of the rotted trees that had fallen down. It is my favorite smell from my childhood.

  20. I spent many days after elementary school donning my mud boots and meandering along the creek in our pasture to watch the trickle of water and every living thing that followed it. I felt so powerful walking in the creek bed where I had previously seen water rushing after a rain. Always finding a big stick to ward off any potential snakes which fortunately don’t remember encountering, I was at a loss for time until I’d hear my mom yelling or honking to bring me home.

    1. Being at a loss for time and meandering along the creek in mud boots…what a wonderful childhood memory. Thank you for sharing, Missy!


  21. I love this post so very much – it is the whole concept around which my blog is centered.

    When I a little girl, I have vivid memories of sitting on our staircase with my mom when the sun would stream in through the front door in the morning. She would position her watch in such a way that it would toss hundreds of light refractions across the the ceiling. To me, a 4-year-old who delighted in the wonder of things, these became fairies who would visit us from a faraway land.

    I recently started doing this with my own daughter, who is now 6, and when I see her face light up at those tiny little “fairies”, I’m transported back to my own childhood, and I’m reminded why creating memories like these are so important: one day, she will do this with her children, and this connection–this legacy–will be passed on.

    1. I’m enchanted by this, Corey! Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful memory. I can identify! It’s wonderful that you are sharing the magic with your daughter now. Such a treasured legacy.


  22. My Mom cooked a simple lunch for me, the youngest of 5, that I still greatly enjoy to this day. All it is is cooked macaroni, butter, a bit of warmed milk, and salt and pepper. My Mom was cleaver to get her picky eater to think how “special” the lunch was and JUST for me! I don’t make it often now…but when I do…I do it when I’m alone. How can something so plain bring a flood of childhood memories whirling around my head whenever I make it, I don’t know. AND…I feel “special” all over again!

  23. When I was young, I used to love to go on walks and pick dandelions. To this day, no one understands that special memory I share with my grandmother, and they argue there’s nothing special about them; they are just weeds. To me, they’re so much more than that. They’re walks when her health was still good; they’re picking up golf balls on the side of the road by the golf course across from their house; they’re jumping on a trampoline, my feet black with the dust; they’re bubble baths with cousins when you’re five, pretending to be a drive-thru making bubble burgers and milkshakes. To them, they may be weeds, but to me, they’re always a flower.

    1. Oh Stephanie, I understand! Picking dandelions sounds like a treasured memory that evokes all kinds of goodness for you. Thank you for writing about all the brightness they symbolize in your life. Keep enjoying them. Dandelions are flowers to me, too.


  24. Your writting always touches my heart Jennifer, Thank you.
    To reach my childhood heart, I find creativity is always the key. So if I do any kind of art I can always reach that place, but I must also say wondering in my garden and picking flowers is always another great way.

    1. Sweet Alisha,

      Finding a note from you always touches *my* heart, so thank *you*! Big hugs and a big yes to creativity…especially when flowers are involved!


  25. When I was little I loved to play in the dirt under the Mock Orange bushes we had in your yard. Thanks for your lovely post that reminded me of not only my childhood but my grown children’s childhood as well. I miss those days!

  26. I love helping captivate my daughter’s imagination by leaving different colored trails of glitter in her fairy garden to find. Thank you for this beautiful reminder of “growing young.” I too am in the Bella Grace Blog Hop, so please don’t choose me to win! I hope to see your writing again soon friend! Write on!

    Elle Harris @elleharris82

    1. So nice to meet you, Elle! And leaving different colored trails of glitter in your daughter’s fairy garden…how sweet! Thank you for stopping by to share that!


  27. I have a very stressful job working in Medical Field. Some days when I come home all I want to do is collapse and do nothing. But then I think of the one thing that can get me regenerated is to dance. I love dancing around the house when I’m alone. I will dance when I am cleaning. Let the rejuvenation begin.

    Thank you so much for your stories that bring me back to my childhood.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Julie. I’m sorry your job is so stressful, but I;m so glad to hear that you remember to dance it out. Take care!


  28. Hi. Reading all the comments brought back memories. I loved bubbles, and catching fire flies, and watching them twinkle in the darkness, and still do. I loved penny candy. My friend and I would gather a small amount of change, get a huge bag of candy, then sit on top of a small shed, and eat it.

    1. Penny candy enjoyed on top of a small shed…what a perfect image and surely a treasured memory! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Anita.


  29. We lived in a cul-de-sac & in the summer, boys & girls would get together & draw a huge floor plan of a house in the street. We each got a room & could decorate it as we wished, drawing it in with the chalk. I still carry chalk in my car, but use it to draw new parking lines for people who don’t know how to park inside the lines in parking lots. Not exactly the same thrill, but it makes me feel pretty good.

  30. I grew up in a small town in a housing development that had a lot of circles. I lived on one of those circles and there were 12 houses on each circle. My circle, had at least one child in each house but most had 2 or more. My sister and I had our own built in playmates. My favorite memories are playing in the circle, playing kickball, softball, whiffle ball, football and games like Red Rover, with all of our friends and just having a grand time. Most of the time, the party continued in my front yard and sometimes led to the porch where me, my sister, and our little girl friends would play and set up our own Barbie town using Barbie cases and boxes. in the summer and during other school breaks, there wasn’t a day that we weren’t up at dawn and playing until well into the night.

    1. What delightful childhood memories, Audra! I loved reading about them, and you even reminded me of playing Red Rover as a child! Thank you for sharing!


  31. This summer I wanted to buy the same kind of raft I used as a child in the ocean. It is navy blue with yellow ends! A rope around it. I wen tot the hardware store by the beach.. by the way.. I think the hardware store is where we bought them when we stayed at our beach house. I bought it!! In the ocean we went!! i couldn’t fit on it like I did as a child, but I definitely felt my childhood days as we floated together and took some waves in!!

  32. As a child I loved drawing and I still draw, paint, and create as an adult. My grandfather was an artist and I remember the time he was coloring with me in my coloring book. He taught me that the sky didn’t have to be blue and grass didn’t have to be green. Then he showed me how to use every color – all at once – in the sky. I loved it! It totally changed the way I colored in my book and in drawings.

  33. I loved to swing when I was a child! It seemed close to flying. I would pretend to swing high enough to land on the clouds and visit the beautiful castles I was sure were there. I have a lovely wooden framed swing in my yard today, and still love to take it high!

  34. I love this post so much Jennifer. Such a lovely reminder to slow down, put adulthood on hold & enjoy recreating a fun childhood memory. My favorite thing to do as a girl during the summer was to explore the woods behind my house with my older brother. Growing up, we would spend the entire day outside, playing frisbee golf, collecting treasures & splashing in the creek. We even had our own pretend nature show. It’s nice to think back and remember those blissful times. Thanks for that. Looks like I’ll be doing some endless exploring with my kiddos this weekend!

    1. Thank you so much for your sweet words, Erica. Oh, exploring the woods, yes! And a nature show?!?! I love it!! What wonderful childhood memories! Thank you for sharing them here. Enjoy the exploring with your kiddos this weekend!


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