Magical Days with Elizabeth Rago

Hello friend,

A special treat today, my lovely friend Elizabeth, is joining us for the Magical Days series – sharing how she and her family celebrate life and make magic every day.

Elizabeth is my modern day pen pal.  We met via twitter (of course – how else do modern pen pals meet!?) and eventually started emailing.  Now, although we live half a world away from each other and have never met in person, when we write back and forth I feel as though I’m corresponding with an old and dear friend.  We have so much in common – both eternal optimists, Mamas of three small children and true believers in following your heart and passions – it would have been unfair for location to be the only reason we couldn’t be friends!

Elizabeth is a wonderful story teller and I just know you’re going to enjoy reading more about her magcial days here…

Did your family have any memorable family traditions when you were a child?

My mother always went out of her way to make Christmas special for our family. One memory that stands out is putting my favorite ornaments on our family tree. I came to love certain pieces and looked forward to placing “my” trimmings to the tune of Bing Crosby and amid the smell of freshly baked Christmas cookies.

One of our favourite times of day to connect as a family is story time.  What have been your favourite books to read to your children?

We love story time in our house and read many, many times throughout the day. In fact, if the children ask me to read a book to them, I always drop what I am doing and read with them. Our favorite series lately is the Mr. Putter and Tabby series by Cynthia Rylant. And we seem to be reading many books over and over again like, The Paperbag Princess  by Robert N. Munsch, Skippy Jon Jones by Judy Schachner, Clotilda by Jack Kent and the Little Old Man Who Could Not Read by Irma (Simonton) Black. My mother recently unearthed from her basement my old Richard Scarry books which the kids and I love to page through on rainy afternoons. Reading is big in our house and we spend a lot of time at the library. As long as the librarians have no limit to the number of books we can check out, I say, take as many as you can carry! (and bag the rest…)

Do you have any special ways to celebrate milestones & special occasions in your family?

We love to kick off any event or vacation (holiday) with a celebratory silly cake. Not sure how that tradition started but the kids and I scour bakeries and stores to find a wacky pastry that tickles our fancy. Our favorite to date was a mess of cupcakes in the form of an alligator to celebrate our summer vacation.

Which holiday occasion (or season) does your family enjoy celebrating most?

There is a buzz around our house during autumn. I live in the Midwest of the United States where the fall colors are magnificent! We live among a tree lined river, packed with bike paths and lush forest preserves. The kids always go crazy for pumpkin picking at our local family farm. Peter and I kick back to sip hot apple cider and nibble on candied apples while we watch the kids select their own plump, soon-to-be, Jack o’ Lanterns.

We are a family with a lot of imagination, so dressing up for Halloween is right up our alley. At the moment, I do not embarrass my children with my kooky costumes, but it’s only a matter of time before they forbid me to trick-or-treat with them. (pic of me dressed up)

What is one of your favourite things about being a Mama?

My favorite thing about being a Mama is different for each stage of my children’s lives. I love snuggling on the couch with my 6-year-old as he reads to me. My heart skips a beat when he kisses me in public, knowing all too soon he will be satisfied with a quick hug or wave.

My 4-year-old daughter is obsessed with animals and is always informing me of made up facts about her favorite mammals.

And, as much as I cringe at a 2 AM wake up call, I admit, I love the sound of my 8-month-old as she giggles during her early morning diaper change. The sound of her sweet voice is magic at that hour.

Any words of wisdom for making life both easier and more joyful?

Slow down. I spent the first 3 years of being a parent running around trying to clean and organize and arrange and clean and clean and clean… The days might drag on but the years really do go by quickly. The next thing you know, your 6-year-old doesn’t giggle when you draw pictures on his toes with a Sharpie marker! That innocence of being a young child is still there but a part of the magic is replaced with independence. I am learning to make an effort to slow down and bask in the humdrum silly moments because I know those are the moments I (and my kids) will remember.

Start Over. It is so easy to slip into crabby Mama straight out of bed in the morning. Sometimes, with three kids and a dog and 2 fish and a turtle and a husband, I am susceptible to allowing everyone else’s mood effect me, so I have instituted the mantra, “Start over.”. We encourage each other to breathe, count to 10, shake off our funk and start fresh.

What are some of your favourite ways to spend time together as a family?

Hiking in the woods is one of our favorite ways to hang out together. We all enjoy getting a treat at a local bakery or ice cream shop, making sure we stress that it’s the little things that make us smile. We listen to movie soundtracks on Pandora every Saturday morning while we drink coffee, read and play. Game night has recently become quite the phenomenon around here with classics like Bingo and Go Fish. Again, it’s the little things…

Who inspires you?

My family certainly inspires me as they are almost always material for my writing. I admire artists like my husband, composers, songwriters… Can you imagine hearing a song or seeing a picture in your mind and having that beautiful composition or piece of art ooze from your heart?

I am motivated to create by honest and wise writers like Jana Llewellyn, Crystal Alperin and Anne Lamott and moved by people who are patient and live their lives fueled with love like Mother Teresa did and presently, Carolyn Twietmeyer, founder of Project Hopeful.

Thank you so much Hana, for giving me the opportunity to share my life and my family with your readers! Embrace the chaos! :)

Don’t you just love those Halloween outfits!?  And the funny cake to mark the beginning of a holiday – I’m definitely stealing that one!!  

Once again, I’m hearing from another mindful Mama to slow down and drink in these moments – something that I just have to keep telling myself when I find myself speeding off into plans for ‘the future’!

Elizabeth has several online homes where you can read more of her honest and genuine stories about parenthood, womanhood and life in general.  Her own website is here.  She is also a contributor to Parenting without a Parachute, and a Senior Editor for All Things Girl (her series on Habitation is definitely worth a read)… and I just know you’ll also find her hanging out on twitter @bethrago

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6 Responses to “Magical Days with Elizabeth Rago”

  1. October 03, 2012 at 2:59 pm, Elizabeth Rago said:

    Oh, Hana! Thank you so much for having me on A Happy Adventure!
    XO -elizabeth


    • October 04, 2012 at 7:28 pm, Hana said:

      Thank you for sharing your lovely family with us!! You know I couldn’t have an interview series and not feature you!! xoxo


  2. October 04, 2012 at 2:31 am, Debra Smouse said:

    AWESOME interview of an amazing and inspirational woman!


    • October 04, 2012 at 7:24 pm, Hana said:

      Agreed Debra – she is amazing and inspiring! So glad you enjoyed the interview.

      H xo


  3. October 05, 2012 at 10:10 pm, Lesley Webb said:

    Oh wow, I just had a skim read of this post and one bit jumped out at me and I scrolled back up. The bit about “Start Over”. I think I must have been meant to see this today. I have had a hugely crabby day here, kids haven’t been that bad but every little thing seemed to get to me and I overreacted a lot! I kept thinking about what a bad mood I was in, but not once did I think to just “Start Over” or push reset. Timely advice for me. I think I will make a little sign for my kitchen to remind me.


    • October 07, 2012 at 11:27 pm, Hana said:

      Hi Lesley,

      So glad Elizabeth’s interview resonated with you! I think the whole start over concept is a great one – sometimes it’s so easy to let a crabby start to the day to snowball into a terrible day all round. A sign in the kitchen is a great idea – I think I’m going to do it too!

      H xo>


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