Name: Patricia Fuentes Burns
Location: Washington DC area
Website: Good + Happy Day
Kids: Sabrina, 5 and Cassandra "CC", 2
We love the Annie Dillard quote at the bottom of Patricia's blog, "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." And Patricia's blog is a great example of someone who is spending her days well. Whether she's writing about an art project, a book, or just a regular Saturday morning, she inspires us because she takes snapshots of ordinary moments and days and makes them beautiful.
How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
I started blogging about two and a half years ago when my first daughter was three and my second was just an infant. At this point our family started enjoying more projects, activities and outings together, and I began to blog as a way to highlight and share the things we did.
In time the blog has come to fulfill many roles. It's a way to document our lives. It's a place to plan and discover which direction we'll be going in next. It's someplace where my efforts or concerns are validated. It motivates and inspires me to do even more fun and creative things with my kids, to make our home a lovely, cozy place and to really enjoy my time as a parent of young children.
So much beauty and creativity go into days spent with children, but as parents we often don't get that all-important pat on the back for our efforts, not even from ourselves. It's really thanks to this wonderful world of blogging that I have found a way to make my homemaking and parenting work more concrete, to see my activities with the girls the same way I would view a work project. In the blogosphere I've also come across other people who really appreciate the love and effort that go into helping your children make a family of clothespin dolls or into allowing them to turn the dining room into a print studio for the day.
Tell us about the blog and your favorite things to post on?
Good + Happy Day is a journal of my family's days and the things that inspire these days. I try to highlight the happy things in our lives to keep them alive for the future and also to inspire other parents to make the best of the time they have with their kids. I love blogging about small, simple projects that don't take a lot of effort but deliver nice results. I also like to post about little things that make our days special, the things I wish to remember from this time and hope my children will remember too. My husband and I are advocates of living simply and so I like to write about ways we are simplifying our life, streamlining our routines, clearing the unnecessary clutter from our home and schedules. I really enjoy teaching and sharing knowledge, and so this is a great outlet for me because in a short post I can "teach" another mom about something she can do with her child that will create a sweet moment or maybe even a lasting memory.
What are some of your favorite blogs?
There are so many wonderful blogs that have inspired me in my own blog and in my life! I find I am drawn to bloggers that seem to be the epitome of some aspect I long to incorporate into my own life. So while I am not as wholesome or talented in handcrafts or close to the land as Amanda of SouleMama , I adore her blog and find myself endlessly inspired by her life.
Joslyn of Simple Lovely appeals to the side of me that wants to still be cool and sexy even as my hands are covered in blue dye from making homemade play dough. She has fabulous taste and her observations on life, parenting, and the home are always very soulful. I feel we're on the same page striving for a simple and lovely life, just like her blog's title!
I am forever endebted to The Crafty Crow where I always find lots of great inspiration for projects to work on with the girls. That blog is such a gift to parents!
I do love all the fabulous design blogs, especially those that cater to family life. However, I have to be careful with blogs that feature so many lovely products because they steer me towards "wanting" things when I really strive to "do" things. I find that even if all my belongings are handcrafted and beautiful they can still end up being unappreciated if there are too many of them.
Finally, there are blogs that in addition to being great blogs are written by women I consider friends even though we've never met in person. Molly of Molly Irwin , Courtney of two straight linesand Molly of MommyCoddle are three bloggers I have become very attached to. Entering their blogs is like visiting a really inspiring friend who is always one step ahead of you but heading in the same direction.
What have been some of your favorite projects/activities?
Unlike my kids, I do get attached to how cute a project turns out... so I love the clothespin dolls Sabrina and I made to resemble our family some years ago, and the clay bowls the girls covered in beads that work great as votive candle holders. Even though we mostly work on short, simple projects, I also enjoy really diving into a subject, like when this summer after traveling to Sweden we went gaga over Pippi Longstocking and spent a week making Villa Villekulla and characters from the book out of cardboard boxes. One of the greatest ongoing projects in our home is our nature display where the girls place treasures they've found during our outdoor adventures. The nature display is always changing and is endlessly fascinating to our family and to guests. I love it when the girls just paint because they do it without any involvement or direction from me and I get to observe how they mix colors, use brushes, decide when a piece is done. It's like getting to watch your favorite artist at work.
Many moms/parents are just in survival mode- how do you find the energy/time/inspiration to keep things interesting and be creative?
I like to plan and be organized and so came up with what I call our "week of wonders" where I plan one thing for each day of the week--baking, an art project, a visit to the library, a playdate, a nature walk etc. I make sure we have what we need ahead of time. If we're baking I have all the ingredients, the special sprinkles, the recipe printed out, the aprons ready to be slipped on. If it's an art project I go to the craft store and buy what we need. Or for a nature walk I pack snacks, water and a treasure bag. I do the prep work in the early morning or during naps or while everyone's in school so we're ready. It's kind of like menu planning, it makes everything so much easier when you have a plan and are prepared to execute it. Even though some of these activities only take 20 minutes, they often set the tone for the whole day.
Also, I really believe that our environment contributes to my family's well being. We have a small house with a big fabulous backyard and the girls spend lots of their free time outdoors. Some years ago my husband and I began seriously streamlining our belongings, donating and selling many objects and furniture. Now we continuously purge our home of extraneous stuff and what we have we keep well organized. We don't have many decorative items, but what we have we love. We really try to "experience" more than "have." This means I can spend minimal time cleaning, picking up, and organizing our home and so much more time hanging out and being creative in it.
Finally, my children inspire me and make coming up with new activities rewarding. They are very receptive to new experiences and often come up with wonderful variations on activities I propose. I also love how in the moment they are. They enjoy creating, observing, learning and are completely unattached to the final result or potential value of their effort, which is so refreshing.
Of course there are days when for whatever reason we're not our best selves. I find that at those times if I drop everything and do just one little thing that feels special, no matter how simple--playing music and dancing around, pulling out the clay that's been forgotten in the back of the closet, snuggling up in bed with a bunch a holiday books, or just cuddling quietly for a while--then the whole afternoon becomes about that and not about the dirty laundry or the children bickering or the impending deadline. Those things are still there and will eventually have to get taken care of, maybe even while the kids continue to dance or make clay sculptures, but the mood has shifted from grumpy to happy. Suddenly the children feel my love and I feel like a good mom again!
When all else fails, I remind myself that the time I have as a parent to young children is so so short! Really, why would I choose to do anything else but enjoy these years and my children? This thought never fails to energize and inspire me.
And your thoughts have inspired us Patricia! Check out Good + Happy Day and you can also find Patricia's writing over at Momformation where she also has a column.
Since our inception, we have loved hearing from all of our readers as well as reaching out to several in the blog community. You are mothers, fathers, wives, husbands all writing about your families, style and what makes you tick. To continue fostering this great blogging community, we'll be featuring close-ups of our favorite family and design blogs as part of our "Big Blog Family".