Thursday, May 19, 2016

Babykins #3: Thirty Seven Weeks

Pregnancy Highlights:
 How far along: 37
Size of Baby: (via BabyCenter) Babykins #3 weighs six and a third pounds and is about nineteen inches long (the length of a stalk of swiss chard). We've finally reached the FULL TERM mark!
Total Weight Gain/Loss: still about twenty eight pounds; the weight gain has finally slowed down but I feel like I'm getting huger by the day. So, with Graves I had only gained about three pounds less at this point and from the pictures it FINALLY, I finally look sort of similar. He doesn't look near as low to me, though, which is crazy because he was so low. I really think she's lower, though (Dr. Shiflett was like "she's super low; like super SUPER low...I mean she's not falling out of your cervix, but...). Haha! 
Maternity Clothes: I'm so glad every Tri Delta shirt Cookie ever owned was a large or extra large (which makes absolutely no sense since she's nearly as petite as I am but sorority girls always be wearing things either four sizes too big or four sizes too small and these days I'm GRATEFUL for it) because I've totally outgrown all Peyton's mediums.
Movement: It's funny because the other day I didn't feel her moving for about half an hour and it worried me SO bad. I say it's funny because apparently I experienced the exact same thing with Graves at thirty seven weeks.
Sleep: On Monday, while the kids and Peyton camped on Granny's land, I slept inside the house. I slept a five hour stretch, which is, I'm not even kidding, the longest consecutive stretch I've gotten in MONTHS. And I also took a two hour nap the next morning. I felt more rested than I have since probably August. Granny lives in the middle of nowhere and the only thing I can "accomplish" are enjoying nature, visiting with Granny, eating good food, reading, and watching a tiny house House Hunters marathon. Maybe it's just being away from my to-do list that had me so relaxed. Also, she makes me laugh harder than just about anyone else.
Cravings: Confession-- cookie dough. I know it's on the list of stuff you're not supposed to eat, but I just don't worry too much over it. Even when my anxiety was really high with Annie, I just didn't. Carrie was teasing me about it because I did/do struggle with anxiety, especially about my children, but what I eat when I'm pregnant has never been an issue. I will say that I've become more and more aware that we all have our "things" and that's OKAY. And honestly, I think it's great if you can evaluate what your things will be based on your own weaknesses (and strengths!). For example, I'm pretty strict about carseat stuff and I sort of wish more people were but at the same time a part of the reason I make it such a hill to die on for our family is because I'm a terrible driver. All that to say, I've been eating lots of raw cookie dough. 
Symptoms: Lots of Braxton Hicks. I'm a little nervous that when real labor hits it'll go super fast and take me a bit to realize. I'm really hoping Peyton's already home when it starts. In some ways, I'm still actually feeling a lot better than did the first seven months of this pregnancy but there are points where I'm really pretty miserable and the smallest tasks seem like climbing a mountain. I'm also finding it hard to be on my feet for really any length of time. We went to a (Episcopalian) funeral and I was on my feet a good bit but it surprised me how exhausted it made me.
What I Miss: I'll be honest, in one sense I'm so excited I can hardly stand it but in another sense I'm just really tightly wound. I feel like I've gotten super compulsive and my anxiety is a little worse than usual (see above under "movement"). I'm just ready for my emotions to stabilize a bit. Which, let's be real, could be months from now.  
Best Moment This Week: Graves loves to try to find the baby's head and put his head right on it. It's my absolute favorite thing and he's reminding me to really savor these last weeks, as hard as that is. Aside: I can see and feel her little parts thorough my skin in a way I NEVER felt the other two. It's sweet and beautiful and honestly a little creepy to me. She's such a wild little creature and I can already tell she's going to fit in perfectly with our weird crew!
What I Am Looking Forward To: When we finally get her named =) I was so chill about it and actually really sort of enjoyed stretching out the process but now that it's so close I'm getting really anxious. Minnie told me that maybe we just needed to see her and then ten minutes later she said "or we (she and I) could just name her right now over the phone". Oh, Minnie. I'm also really looking forward to the extra days Peyton picked up winding down. He still has several more. In retrospect, I'm not sure it was wise to plan them this close to my due date but I guess we just really thought she wouldn't come any earlier than the other two. We'll see! 
Comparison to Graves:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Getting Uncomfortable and Taking Risks

Over the past couple of months I've done several things that were significant in large part because they were so uncomfortable. And also because they felt like big risks.

One of those things was submitting a piece to Mockingbird, something I've longed to do but due to fear and laziness haven't pushed myself to do.

Another one of those things was applying (after being approached about it) for a teaching position. It would have been a part time, but regular JOB. A serious job. A grown up job. Like, the kind of job I've never really had.

I felt like it was time to get out of my comfort zone a bit.

Wouldn't a third kid have been enough for that?

With the births of both my children, I was forced out of my comfort zone in different ways. Annie was a ridiculously easy baby but I had to really look my anxiety in the face a lot of days after she came. I had to stare it down and realize I couldn't let it eat me alive.

And also, I had to grow up. Fussing over a restaurant not having a grilled cheese seemed first of all, like a dumb thing for a mother to do but additionally, I felt like that kind of thing was truly unfair.

With Graves, he transformed my life. I had to get totally outside myself and I chose to readjust a lot of my expectations for him (nursing, potty training, ect.)

 I'm fairly certain that New Girl will significantly upend my life in some sort of way.

Even still, I guess I just wanted to push myself a little harder.

I brainstormed about the MBird piece, wrote it, rewrote it, edited it, finalized it, and submitted it. All without saying a word to anyone. Which is so not typical of me. But I just wanted it to be my thing. I didn't even tell Peyton. I knew I'd tell him about it later, regardless of if it got published or not but for some reason I wanted the answer first. Either way, I wanted to share the risk with the result. He ended up seeing it pulled up on my computer and admitted it to me. He didn't read the whole piece until after it was published but he expressed how incredibly proud he was of me just for giving it a shot. And I was a bit proud, too. Submitting my writing somewhere, anyway, is terrifying to me and was a step it took me a long time to finally take.

Clearly, the essay was published and I was ecstatic.

The teaching job worked out differently.

When the headmaster at a school I'm quite fond of approached me about some openings, I considered several, figured out which one would be the best fit, and tried to determine if it would work with our lifestyle. Since Peyton is off the majority of the week, I knew it could work logistically. So, did I actually want to do it?

I realized pretty quickly that nearly every single reason I had for not doing it was based in fear- fear of committing to something for a full year, fear of missing out on stuff at home (mostly with the baby), the fear of total overwhelm, and of course, the fear of failing (or at least not being very successful).

I decided none of those were good reasons. However, in some ways this school leans a bit more conservative than I do and during the application I realized that there were some things about my beliefs (mostly pertaining to evolution, which I believe to be scientific fact and which I don't find to be mutually exclusive with Christianity, a high view of Scripture, or the foundational things the Biblical creation account teaches us about God's character and ours) and if I wanted to be up front and honest, I needed to disclose those.

In the end I didn't get the job and I'm fairly confident that is the reason why. I have absolutely no bitterness but it was a hard blow and I had to grieve it a bit. I hope that every word in this post is gracious and honors this place I love very much. At the same time, one of the perks of not having a job (any job) outside the home is that I have more freedom to write about my experiences, thoughts, and feelings than I would otherwise and for me, it would be a shame not to take advantage of that.

The head of the school was SO kind and told me that I was smart and plenty qualified and he had really looked forward to seeing me in front of a classroom. He acknowledged that some people on the school board thought these issues weren't as essential as others. And he told me that he was heartbroken and grieved about it. Of course, that all meant a lot to me.

In one way, I feel like it's absolutely the best way to not get a job. I mean, I basically didn't get it because I was honest about what I believe (which he also said he appreciated so much, too). I couldn't really take it...personally?
And I tried very hard to do what I said I'd do all along if I didn't get the job and see it as God working things out just like He did when I lost another job right before I found out I was pregnant with Annie. I was so disappointed then but I KNOW now it was for the best. In some ways, it was like total deja vu because not only did I not get the job because of the reason I shared, but the position I was most interested in ended up not actually being available because of a change in the size of enrollment. To me, that felt significant and confirming of God's provision and protection because it was so similar to what had happened almost eight years ago.

I guess I was just looking forward to something different, but maybe the timing would have been terrible? Maybe I can work on some other personal stuff like getting back in shape and maybe even making a goal of submitting my writing more places and that sort of thing. And also just enjoying my last little newborn =) I will say that it felt good to push hard into something and to push even a little against myself and my fears. To challenge myself.

Anyway, at that final meeting I told the headmaster- a man I respect and admire very much- that I was really disappointed, that I love the school and I love the people there. But I told him that I was also grateful that the decision was made for me. That if it was that big of a point of contention and that if it would be a deep discomfort to some of the families, I really didn't want to be in that position. But that even knowing that would be a possibility, it would have been VERY hard for me to turn it down. 

Recently, I was reading a post about disappointment by one of my favorites, Shawn Smucker, and he said this:
"Almost three months ago, my wonderful literary agent Ruth began approaching publishers about my book The Day the Angels Fell, the very same project that you all helped fund on Kickstarter almost a year and a half ago. Ruth read it and loved it and thought she might be able to find a home for it, so we sent out a book proposal to publishers. Initially, the response was strong. One publisher was immediately interested. I thought it was going to get picked up. I thought my longest-held dream, of being a novelist with a publisher, was about to come true. But then the weeks passed. We still haven’t heard back from the first publisher. In the mean time, I received a kind rejection from one of my favorite publishers who said “the writing is absolutely beautiful, but…” Always “but.” Right now there are two houses still considering it. Can I be honest? I’ve felt a lot of disappointment in this process. The waiting has nearly paralyzed my creative ability. The weeks of silence and the few rejections (and even the vast, empty nothingness of no reply) rip at some raw place I didn’t know existed in me. I went into this feeling like a relatively self-confident person, someone who could take or leave whatever might happen, but I’m learning a lot about myself. I’m learning I’m not as confident as I thought I was. I’m not as independent as I thought I was. I crave this “one last” approval more than I thought I did."

But here was the big take away for me..

Why is this disappointing to me? What does this disappointment tell me about what I think is important?And is it possible that the location of my disappointment leads me closer to the location of my true hope?"

Gracious, this resonated. I recently really put myself out there in these two ways I've shared. One worked out and one didn’t. But both did help clarify (and drive me to think about further trying to clarify) what I desire to be doing with my life and what that could look like logistically while still being home a good bit while my children are small.
I did realize that the idea of working (SOME) outside the home appeals to me more than I thought I did. Not full time- that was a definite perk with this. But it's so different to be approached with an opportunity than going out and looking for something. I know that's something I'm not ready to do yet.

I wrote much of this in an email to a friend and I told her that (even though I knew I really didn't need to) I felt like I needed to clarify that I love being home with the children so much and I feel like I need to clarify that here, too.  For some reason, I've had a really hard time articulating exactly what I'm feeling about it all and it's taken me awhile to get this all out.

This year has been a difficult one in many ways, but the Spring brought many good gifts I'm grateful for. Challenge and clarity and a strangely satisfying lack of comfort and desire to take some risks, among them.

 It has me excited about what lies ahead.

Babykins #3: Reflections and Comparisons at Thirty Five Weeks

I can so not believe that this could easily be the last of these every five week reflections/comparison posts I write! Actually, I'll be thirty seven weeks this Thursday, so I knew it was time to write this!

First up, the pictures! 

35 Weeks

35 Weeks with Graves and with Babykins #3
(Graves on the left; Sister Baby on the right)




Another week closer!

1. The past two weeks were milestone weeks and so is this one (only one more five week interval, a month left, and full term!). I'm so thrilled to see each one.

2.  I've knocked out so much "getting ready" stuff in the past week or so. We set up (and made up!) the crib. I got everything rehung on the walls in the kids' room. The kids (and my) closets are all changed over for Summer. All the baby clothes are hung up except some stuff that needs washing. I have her pj drawer ready and I even went through the boxes of bibs and blankets and extra bedding and got that organized.  Really all that's left is a box of "gear" and a few bigger things like the Pack n Play, car seat, and swing. 

3. I'm also getting a little (lot) more anxious about the doula-less birth. Now that I've gotten the majority of things ready for when she gets here, I've got to focus on HOW she'll get here. I've been reading some and it is really helping me get in the frame of mind for it and there's a lot of helpful stuff about relaxation. At the same time, I know I want to spend some time thinking about what will personally help me meet my goal of having another unmedicated birth. I have a few ideas, but I need to think on it more and talk with Peyton more about it.

4. We still don't have a name and it's making me a bit anxious, too. Minnie (and quite a few other people) have said maybe we just need to see her. Ironically, these same people (MAINLY MINNIE) keep asking me if she has a name. AHHH. I told her tonight that I thought I'd just be so stressed out and upset over it that it would frustrate me during labor and she was like "Oh, Darling". Someone on Facebook mentioned we could just name her Sister. It would be very Southern. Maybe we'll just call her Sister and Darling (and Daisy and Avocado) so much and it won't matter what her name even is.

5.  I decided that, because of the car situation, this is going to be our last week at church until after the baby gets here. I just don't want to be back at home and Peyton be half an hour away at his store without the car. It makes so much more sense to take a couple of weeks off where he can just drive to work and be able to leave and get right home if I go into labor. It's a little bittersweet, though, because who knows when we'll be back? Three kids will be a lot to manage by myself. I'm hoping it won't take long to get into the swing of things, but I'm also not going to push myself to the point of breaking.

Before anyone feels too sorry for me, there is a certain genuine sadness about missing it, but it's also nice to have a break from what is by far the hardest day of my week in some ways (don't feel sorry for me about that either- there are two parents at home with our kids most of the week; I mean who has that?). The truth is, it's more that I still have a tendency to want to beat myself up over not going. But I know now that there's grace for that. I certainly believe in the importance of having a strong faith community, moreso than ever, but I also know that I can, and will, find God in our backyard, in my children's smiles, and in those newborn snuggles.

[Sidenote: I really need to write a post- or a couple of posts- about landing at Northside. Further sidenote: I really need to join Northside. Again, my faith looks a lot different than it did a couple of years ago and I know there's grace for that.]

6. I know I've shared more about Graves's reaction to this pregnancy and that's just because he's had more. Partly, Annie just has a more subdued personality (which does not mean she's stoic; I think in this case he's more the exception than the rule and he just has a big personality). But it's also because she's just not a baby person.

I didn't share this at the time but when I was newly pregnant Peyton joked that we could "give the baby to someone else". Annie nonchalantly said "that'd be fine". I reminded her that she said something similar about Graves after he was born and how special he is to her now. She told me "it takes awhile-- they have to grow up a little". I did my best to validate her feelings and not make her think I was upset. We discussed further and she admitted that she thinks they get fun between two and three years. She's also, over the years, told me that "her husband" will stay at home with her babies and that when they're old enough she'll wake them up to bird watch with her. But lately she's been hugging my tummy so often and saying "love that baby". I'm so, so happy about that. That said, to be fair, people like Peyton and Annie don't get enough credit. I myself have, at times, inadvertently shamed them because they aren't super into babies, particularly our own babies. But I know a lot of people who would take a perpetual four month old and significantly less people who would take a perpetual two year old. 

I think most people worry about Graves's transition (because he's been the baby so long, because he'll be the middle child, because he's the only boy) but I really think that, for a number of reasons, it'll be harder on Annie. For one thing she's just not as go with the flow. She had a HARD time when Graves was born. Of course she was two. But her personality is still largely the same. And the fact that babies aren't her thing. And the fact that she'll be getting less attention (which  Graves just often sort of demands) and more responsibility (which Graves just often sort of refuses). In the end, I know she'll do fine and it'll be so great for all of us and I can't wait to see her with a baby sister!

I think that's all my big reflections. We'll see if I end up writing a forty week post =)

Monday, May 16, 2016

Weekly Smorgasbord

Another list for y'all! Friendship among women, stories as shared language, egos in politics and lots more!

On Faith: 
"This is the crucial part of the Easter story that we often skip over: their acceptance of what was, their faithfulness in mourning. The women didn't spend Saturday knowing that Jesus' resurrection was coming on Sunday. There was this whole day of utter stillness, and unresolved discomfort. Inconsolable grief. This is the embodied faith that most of us must live with in this life: the trauma of injustice, the unbearable silence after loss, the tension between Friday and Sunday."

"Whether it's remorse for sin or our sinful nature—for being very sin of very nature—or a change in direction and a turning to God, surely it's not a fruit to be checked by any modern-day, clipboard-carrying Pharisees out there or self-abusing whack-a-molers like me. Because whichever it is, its first step is turning to God, and the rest is a life-long, grace-filled process. One our gardener-God, Jesus, is willing to lovingly care-take in us, whether we've managed to produce one damn fig yet or not."

one key to walking through suffering | A Holy Experience

 "Lament is prayer that honors the honesty of pain and anger while also honoring the truth that God is the one who reigns and whose love never fails.
Lament holds in tension all the suffering that seems to make no sense with a determination to believe that God is just.
Lament draws us near to God when we are tempted to turn away.
Asking “why” – the core question of lament – is not a betrayal of faith."

On Parenting:

 The Promise I Can't Keep. — Coffee + Crumbs
 "Maybe the best promise I can make my daughter is that if she falls—when she falls—for as long as I live and as long as she lets me, I’ll still be there at the bottom, waiting. Still loving her. Still liking her. Still believing in her. When she’s young, I’ll be there with the Band-Aids and tissues and shoulders she can wet with her tears. When she’s older, I’ll be there with stories of my own falls, so she knows she’s not the only one. At every stage, I’ll be the one cheering loudest when she picks herself up and tries again.
I lean down and whisper a new promise in her ear, “When you fall, you won’t be alone.”"
" I never noticed the clothing and toy stores, play structures, park benches, and diaper changing stations interspersed throughout my neighborhood. It's like living inside an optical illusion. What else am I not seeing because I haven't lived it? And what must I become to be able to notice everything?"
On Friendship 
"It's not uncommon to hear women lamenting about how cliquey other women can be. And while I know this observation is sometimes true, I also think it's often a way we protect ourselves. We show up at an event, overhear jokes we don't understand and stories about the dinner everyone attended last week, and then we feel left out. Fairly quickly it's decided— there is no more room at the table. But here's the thing: there's definitely room. After starting over a few different times in the last ten years, I still believe in the goodness of women. I still believe that most are kind and lovely and ready to welcome another soul into their fold. But it takes boldness. It takes showing up even when it feels awkward, and it also means inviting people you don't know very well over for dinner. It takes throwing out insecurities. It takes throwing out the idea that everyone will love you. It takes believing that people don't always show their best selves on the first try. It takes some unreturned text messages and pushing through a few more times before you decide that maybe a potential friendship just isn’t meant to be. Most of the time, there are beautiful little communities of women everywhere we go, and we want and need each other’s company. More than anything, I believe that loving someone well takes getting to know them—their quirks, coffee preferences and deepest fears—while also being brave enough to share our own stories. Friendship requires trust, and trust takes time."

On Living Well 
"Every day I have the opportunity to choose how I am going to live—this is a great privilege but also a great responsibility. The way of our dreams–the Alpine Path, if you will–is not a leisurely stroll in a shaded wood, or even a pleasant hike up a rolling grade. It is a daily battle. A limiting unto more freedom. A devotion and a discipline, and it will sometimes require a shedding or a pruning or a sundering. It means that I cannot be choice-less in the matter because every day's fruit is only a result of the choices I have made all along the way, from the time I get up till the time I go to bed. Into this equilibrium for many Christians is added the uniquely evangelical bugbear of separating the "sacred" from the "secular": the judging between options and activities based on so-called "spiritual merit"; the low priority of certain desires on the mere basis that they are mine and must therefore somehow be less than God's will. The notion that tiredness is next to godliness. The goading to keep pace with the frenzied music of the world around me rather than the still, soft music that God would sing over my life. Viewing life as a compartmentalized series of duties and earned pleasures instead of the holistic dance of sacramental joy that it is."

What a Concussion Taught Me

 "By the beginning of February, Seth and I decided to see what would happen if we slept 8 hours a night for 30 days. It was as if our time and energy doubled from there. This is a practical thing. We had to give up our evening television-watching. We had to sleep later in the morning, but we came to such healing. Pain left my body. The world wasn’t so dark. I heard the voice of God. We had to consider ourselves and our callings worth the rest. We had to release control.
So I suspect that when our 30 days were up, I needed to see what would happen when I tried to control things again, when I stayed up late thumbing through instagram and when I tried to wake early to knock out my to-do lists. Guess what. The icons of my life, the windows to the holy and my ear to God’s voice, it has all become blurry and muted again. My body hurts again."

 On Place:
"So why, why, do we live here? I tell myself we're here because place matters. Where we live matters. What we see every day, the people we come in contact with, the reality of our communities — they matter. Our place, our community, shapes what is "normal." For every smashed beer bottle, there are dozens of friendly "hellos" and shared toys over the fence with the Somali family next door. For every waft of second-hand smoke, there are kind strangers holding open the door for my double stroller at the Dollar Store. And I want to go down kicking and screaming against the mantras of the American dream, that more stuff and homogenous living is better. I want to rail against the malaise of centering only on me and mine and my kind. I want my kids to know that their whiteness is just one color among many. Because I want to be where God is dwelling, and God is here, or so I've been told."

On Calling:
"When I look at scripture I don't see God pushing people into specific careers, I see Him calling people to a new way of living. He doesn't call people to be doctors or lawyers, He calls them to be a specific kind of doctor or lawyer. He calls them to be one who acts justly, loves mercy, walks humbly with God; is a peacemaker, merciful, righteous, and in all things, loves. Finding your vocation is less about finding the "right" vocation than it is about finding a job that will allow you to speak mercy, healing and love into a hurting world with the loudest voice possible."

On Community:
""It strikes me that pizzerias are sort of like the old malt shops – what I see about malt shops in the movies. People go and hangout and—because I'll see teenagers all come in and they each get a slice—and I think the slices probably weigh more than the girls do. And they sit in the back and they decompress from the day, and uh, it's just a—oh, I don't know… it's sort of a community thing. There aren't that many of those around anymore. You have to set them up for old people, the senior centers, and you set up the day cares and the play dates for children, but for everybody between the ages of five and under the age of 60, you gotta fend for yourselves, or find a pizza place.""

 On Simple Pleasures:
"For all the times I've bought a new box of Crayola 64 just so I can open the top and stare down at the perfect rows of rainbow and all their potential, walking through a fair is the closest human experience you'll have to living in a crayon box. Candy Apple Red, Popcorn Yellow, Cotton Candy Pink, Rainbow Ferris Wheel Kissing Swirly Blue Sky. No matter how much grease you have to smear off your face at the end of the night or many dollars disappeared from your wallet, there's always the color trip you get to go on when you buy a ticket to the fair. Worth it, my friends."

On Stories:
"That's the power in a language of shared stories. That's a power we have at our disposal to give our children a place of belonging. And that's really my greatest hope for relating to my children as they grow; that they will feel we shared something good enough to keep them interested, and keep them (even figuratively) coming home."

On Seasons and Being Outside:
"There's something about physically separating ourselves from the dirty dishes in the kitchen, the laptops, our separate places behind separate closed doors, that touches on the many meals of my childhood that were cooked and consumed under the shade of tall trees at campground picnic tables, and the playground picnics we spontaneously put together when our girls were little. Meals outside are meals that say, "This is just about us, here and now. Everything else can wait.""

Posted: 04 Apr 2016 09:08 PM PDT
"I store seasonal visions in my head, collected from scenes I've seen in movies, read in books–many from my childhood. When it comes to spring and summer, I see porches like the little boy in Sixth Sense saw dead people. I see them in my head, I see them in neighborhoods, I see porches everywhere–beautiful front porches where little old ladies sit in rocking chairs, sip lemonade and pencil in crossword puzzles. I see the last of the afternoon sunshine trickling in as the breeze picks up and stirs the wind chimes. I see flag bunting draped from railings and twinkle lights dangling everywhere so that these porches are just as magical at night as they are when the first cup of coffee is sipped from their most comfortable chairs. And there are parties on these porches–cocktails late on Friday afternoon, neighbors clinking glasses, little ones dancing, music, delicious ripe summer fruit piled up on platters. And weekend brunches because really, what's a porch good for if it can't host a Sunday brunch?"
Of course, a porch–unlike a rose–is just as sweet under its other names–veranda, stoop, sun room, lanai. Whatever the case, when the weather gets warmer and the seasons shift into longer days, I dream of life extending into outdoor spaces. - See more at:
Of course, a porch–unlike a rose–is just as sweet under its other names–veranda, stoop, sun room, lanai. Whatever the case, when the weather gets warmer and the seasons shift into longer days, I dream of life extending into outdoor spaces. - See more at:
brunch? Of course, a porch–unlike a rose–is just as sweet under its other names–veranda, stoop, sun room, lanai. Whatever the case, when the weather gets warmer and the seasons shift into longer days, I dream of life extending into outdoor spaces. - See more at:
brunch? Of course, a porch–unlike a rose–is just as sweet under its other names–veranda, stoop, sun room, lanai. Whatever the case, when the weather gets warmer and the seasons shift into longer days, I dream of life extending into outdoor spaces. - See more at:
brunch? Of course, a porch–unlike a rose–is just as sweet under its other names–veranda, stoop, sun room, lanai. Whatever the case, when the weather gets warmer and the seasons shift into longer days, I dream of life extending into outdoor spaces. - See more at:

Of course, a porch–unlike a rose–is just as sweet under its other names–veranda, stoop, sun room, lanai. Whatever the case, when the weather gets warmer and the seasons shift into longer days, I dream of life extending into outdoor spaces. - See more at:

 On Conversation:
"As a society, we practically crave interruption. We're easily distracted—and willingly so—by the shiny and new. But we don't always realize what we're giving up. Just as solitude fuels creativity, and boredom ignites imagination, so it goes with conversation. It's the quiet lulls in conversation that let us gather our thoughts, come up with new ideas, pivot in unexpected directions. Good conversations stumble. We hesitate; we backtrack. But a conversation's awkward moments make the profound ones possible."

On Politics:
"Each, representing their party lines, outlined their arguments in press conferences, saying what they needed to say. But looking back, I noticed something about their public discussion. They didn't say anything nasty or demeaning about one another. Ronnie didn't comment about Tip's bulbous nose, and Tip didn't ridicule Ronnie for dying his hair. Both would have been fair game. At lunch, they met as old friends. When they greeted each other at the door, they hugged one another genuinely and warmly. And then, they sat down and started laughing and talking and telling old stories. "

 Humor Worth Sharing:
"#aupairdontcare For brooding selfies at French parks, or for alerting your absent parents that your nanny isn't doing her job. #bookofcommonprayerdontcare For losing your religion. Or for Episcopalians who want to share their morning devotions in a jaunty way. #laissezfairedontcare For high school seniors failing government, or for being intentionally redundant for laughs."
Noteworthy Quotes:
"I won't tell you to vote Republican or Democrat, but I will encourage you to consider this: if you claim to be a single-issue voter and that issue is being "pro-life," then weigh well your vote with the question of what being "pro-life" means. A lot of people want to congratulate us for not aborting Jack. (I could spend a lot of time unpacking how that makes us feel, but that's for another day.) But those people don't always want to then fund the state and federal programs that help us give Jack what he needs to flourish. I don't want a discussion here and I mean it when I tell you there are Republicans and Democrats who both fail in this and who do it well. What I am asking you to do, if part of your Christian conviction is to stand against aborting kids like Jack, is to also be for getting them the long term support, aid, and care they need. That's a consistent pro-life ethic. Anything less is just anti-abortion. We should be honest about which label we actually mean." -Preston Yancey

Noteworthy Videos:

Um, wow.


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Weekly Happenings Post #365 (March 28-April 3)-- A Sweet Girl Turns Seven

This was a fun week! We went to Granny's, had several soccer games, and celebrated Annie's birthday!

Peyton worked on Monday but it was a nice relaxing morning for the rest of us. Graves got up around eight thirty and I talked to him and snuggled with him and then fixed him breakfast and rested a bit more. I made the bed and  woke Annie up and they had their media time. I ate breakfast, straightened their room and the study a bit, cancelled a doctor's appointment, got on the computer and looked into something for next year, went through my email and reader, did my kitchen quote, bleached a load of Peyton's pharmacy coats, and planned my blog posts for the week. Whew! I took my bath and we had morning school. I ended up just doing critical thinking with Graves and then reading Pippi to the kids after they got dressed and while they ate lunch. I sent an email and Peyton got home and ate a super quick lunch himself and then took the kids to the homeschool group science experiment day. I sent another big email, ate lunch, changed over laundry, talked to Peyton on the phone, read a few blogs, boiled some eggs for egg salad, and hung up Peyton's coats that were dry. I planned the week and planned meals for the week and then Peyton and the kids got home. I did some dishes and our neighbor texted me to see if we wanted to come have ice cream sandwiches since her little girl's birthday was the following day. I got the kids ready and we headed down there while Peyton regrouped before soccer.

We got home and Annie and I did a math lesson and Graves had rest time and then we all got ready and headed to Graves's soccer game. Annie and a bunch of other siblings practiced and Graves had a pretty good game! I texted a couple of friends and watched both of them play. We came home and I unloaded soccer stuff, changed over laundry and started another load, and fixed the kids supper. I got on the computer a bit, talked to Peyton, and changed my last laundry load for the day. Peyton bathed the kids and I texted with Cookie a little, straightened some, and swept the kitchen and took out the trash and recycling. I sent a couple more emails, bought Annie a dress online, and added a few things to Google Calendars. Annie and I did another short math lesson and then I finally got the dishes finished up and made my egg salad and had some for supper. I read some blogs and uploaded, labeled, and edited some pictures from the big camera. I folded laundry and got stuff together for the next day and went to bed.

I had some small goals to "Spring" the house and this was one- I  finally put up the snowman china and change all the flannel sheets. I found these butterflies I had on college and was so excited to use them in the sunroom!  

I've mentioned before that I'm a night owl and Annie is my little sidekick and we have such a wonderful time together after the boys go to bed. I dishes and making egg salad at 11:30 (per usual) and Annie told me she wanted to get together books for our day trip to Granny's the next day (she's been helping me get their stuff together for church on Saturday nights). She did that and then collected some stuffed animals to take. Them she said "okay, all that's left is our clothes". And the most precious part was when she picked out outfits for her and Graves and hung them on the bookcase. It's such much fun when they become little teammates and it's happening at just the perfect time with her.

We got up around eight thirty on Tuesday (well, Peyton got up about two hours earlier than the rest of us) and got ready and hit the road for Granny's by nine thirty. We stopped at the bread outlet on the way there and Peyton bought an excessive amount of English muffins and other things. Mary Beth (Peyton's first cousin) was there visiting Granny, too, and we had a great time. It was nice outside and the kids loved exploring the woods and playing by the pond. Peyton dug up a few blueberry bushes to plant in our yard. We left around two and headed back home. We stopped at the meat outlet this time =) 
 Can't wait to roadtrip with New Girl in the Mazda 3. EEEK. 

We got home and I unloaded the car and organized the fridge. I also emptied the candy out of the kids' Easter eggs so it was all in a big bowl and they could just play with the eggs. All that took longer than I meant for it to. Peyton relaxed a bit and then went to the grocery store to buy snacks for AP's soccer game and buns for the BBQ we got. He got home and planted the bushes. I ate a sandwich and read some blogs and the kids and Peyton left for the game. I finished up organizing and editing pictures and then I vacuumed in the den, sunroom, and kitchen and mopped in the sunroom and kitchen. The kids and Peyton got home and I visited with them and they ate supper and then Peyton played with them and got them to bed.
 Annie: "I came up with a new game. It's called "Find and Make". You get a bunch of trash things that would likely be thrown away, such as my gum, and make a picture with it".

Peyton and I talked some and I sent an email, did a few other things on the computer, worked on my finances a bit, and went over a couple of lists.

I woke up on Wednesday with a headache, predictably. Peyton was working but we had an okay, laid back morning. Graves got up around 8:30 and he wanted to watch a movie but then decided he didn't like it after I got it set up. He ate breakfast and I laid back down and then I turned on his show. Annie got up and I got on the computer, took my bath, and made the bed while they had media time. I fixed Annie breakfast and Graves his second bowl of cereal and I made some toast for myself with Nutella and a banana. I collected and sorted laundry and straightened a bit- taking shoes to where they go and putting the cushion slipcover I washed back on the couch and that kind of thing. We started morning school but Annie was in a MOOD so she ended up going to her closet for awhile and Graves and I read a book that I picked just for him and did critical thinking and finger plays. It actually probably worked out really well sense he never gets that individual attention like that. Annie joined us after a bit and we read a Magic School Bus book that she selected (those things are so tedious to me!) and then did her math lesson for the day. While she worked on a worksheet and did critical thinking I folded and put up laundry and straightened a bit. I put up dishes, got their lunch ready and then washed more dishes.The kids had rest time and I made a hair appointment, ate lunch, worked on some blog posts, uploaded pictures from my phone, and read blogs. Annie did a bit more of her math worksheet.

After rest time, the kids and I cleaned up their room and then Annie and I went through her dresser drawer to put up most of her Winter pajamas. They had a snack and got ready for soccer and I heated up something for Peyton. He got home and they left. I worked on another post, dusted and polished the floors in the den, folded a load of laundry, rested a bit, and browning meat and heating up beans for supper. Peyton and the kids got home as I was putting up some dishes and they all worked on putting together some little candy bags for Book Buddies while I finished cooking. I cut my finger really bad on a can and Peyton helped me with that. We all ate and then Peyton left to go visit his brother and I cleaned up the kitchen- put up the leftovers; swept; took out the trash, recycling, and some flowers that had seen better days; finished scrubbing the counters; and packed up a bag for Book Buddies. I sorted through two big piles of junk on the counter and the kitchen table and got everything organized and put up. I helped the kids get ready for bed, read them a couple of books and a Bible story and prayed with them, and then headed back to the kitchen and did the dishes. After I finished that, I sent an email to a friend, read blogs, did my Bible study, and finished a post.

Thursday was kind of a rough day- sort of a continuation of how bad I had felt the night before. I was tired and also had a headache and just felt awful. I got up and got ready for Book Buddies and Minnie got here and we got on our way. I started feeling even worse during my first group and I ended up throwing up between my first and second group. That made me feel some better. Peyton and I got in an argument on the way home and I started sobbing- mostly just because I felt so bad and was so tired, I think. Peyton was really sweet and we made up. I talked to Minnie some, she left, and Peyton fixed himself and the kids lunch. I got on the computer and fixed mine. I took a nap and Peyton did the two things I had on my list for him that day- fixing the computer and cleaning the car. The kids had rest time and helped him and I slept a good bit. I still felt pretty bad when I got up but I was better. I fixed the kids grilled cheeses, put up dishes and straightened the kitchen, and collected laundry.

The kids played a bit and I dusted in the bedrooms and study. I did the windowsills as part of my routine that week and it's always kind of a pain, especially in Annie and Graves's room because AP keeps a "nature collection" on hers and it gets dirty and is annoying to move it all. I swept and scrubbed the floor in the kids' bathroom and then we all cleaned up their room. They had baths and I vacuumed in the bedrooms and study and then did a few things on my phone. The children had a snack and I did a bunch of dishes and then we read, did their Bible story, brushed teeth, and played a bit. Peyton played with them a bit and helped me get them settled and then we brainstormed a bit about our NYC trip. Peyton watched some TV and I sent an email while Annie finished her math worksheet from the day before. She and I went through a bunch of her old art and crafts and chunked some of it and hung up some of it. I sent another email and Annie fell asleep. I wrote a post and read some blogs. I ate supper and paid my Junior League dues and went to bed.

Graves was already in the bed with Peyton when I got there and it was a bit of a restless night for him. He's usually such a great sleeping buddy. I think he was hot!

Anyway, Graves got up around 8:30 on Friday and I put on a movie and got up a good bit later and took my bath, got on the computer, and fixed the kids their breakfast. I made our bed and straightened theirs and collected laundry and started a load. I put up dishes and had my breakfast, texted Cookie and Ellis, and got everything ready for morning school and math. We did morning school (both kids' critical thinking, some read aloud, power cards and finger plays) and then took a break so I could change over laundry. Annie did her math and Graves was pretty disruptive. They went outside and rode bikes a bit and I did a couple of things on the computer and then fixed their lunch and washed dishes. They ate and I worked on my blog design and monthly post. Peyton got home and we all talked and played some. I did the dishes from lunch and that Peyton had used at work and took out the trash and the recycling. We got ready and headed to my parents'. I was really tired while we were there but we had a great time. 
 Having a little party eating granola by flashlight in Mickey's work room. They love Friday nights so much!

We did the recyling on the way home and Graves fell asleep. Peyton, Annie, and I talked about her birthday the next day and she finished up a math sheet and dida little on the iPad. I read a bunch of blogs and FB messaged with a friend. I folded some laundry and got their uniforms ready for the next day and went to bed.

Saturday was such a great day. It was Annie's birthday and it turned out to be so fun. We all got up pretty early for us (before eight) and Peyton cooked waffles and then we dropped him and Graves off at the their soccer fields and Annie and I drove to her game. There was some sort of race going on so there was some traffic but we had plenty of time because her game started forty five minutes after Graves's. We used the bathroom and then unloaded our stuff and found the field she was playing on. Her teammates got there and they warmed up and the game started. Peyton's dad and his brother Andrew had come to Graves's game, so they brought Peyton and Graves to Annie's game(s). They got there around half time of the first game. We all had fun watching her and Graves played with some other little siblings. They had a SHORT break after the game and then played another one. 
 Happy Birthday to our Annie Girl! I'm so grateful for every day with you!

After the game, we came home and regrouped and Annie and Graves watched some of a documentary and then Minnie came over with Annie's present. She opened it and we visited and then she left and we got ready and picked up Newks and headed to a playground Annie had never been to before, per her request. Peyton's partner texted him to see if he just wanted to work two extra hours on Friday instead of coming in from six to eight and he said of course. I was thrilled about that. We stayed at the park for a good while- it was so nice! We went by two different Walgreens to browse the Beanie Boos on the way home.

We came home and the kids played outside, Peyton took a bath, and I folded laundry, straightened, started a load of laundry, and did dishes.

 We had such a great day with our little botanist/zoologist. She had waffles made by Papa, then she had back to back soccer games attended by her grandfather and uncle, she watched some sort of docu Peyton found her, and enjoyed another grandparent visit. She received three books, ten dollars, and a church dress with an animal motif from her grandparents. One of her little friends and her aunt called to tell her Happy Birthday and then we got Newks and went to a park she's never been to before (which had the friendliest ducks I've ever seen). She did a little Beanie Boo shopping at the drug store but ultimately held off on any impulse purchases and had a mint chocolate chip milkshake. And Peyton's partner offered for him to work two extra hours on Friday so he wouldn't have to come in that night. I looked out the window and she had switched her sneakers for boots and was swinging her butterfly net around trying to catch some kind of bug. Childhood is such a beautiful thing.

I changed over the load and Peyton made us all milkshakes and then I took a nice nap while he bathed the kids and fed them supper and got them to bed. I got up and got on the computer and read a few blogs. I ate something and got all our clothes, breakfast, and the kids books and crayons and stuff ready for church the next day. I finished up my new header and almost finished a post and then went to bed.

We all got up on Sunday and got ready and even had time for our family picture. We dropped Peyton off, had breakfast, went in to use the potty, and headed to church.
 Enjoying the weekly Beanie Boo viewing and papa visit at his store. I've gotten to the point where I can't make it the whole hour from when we drop Peyton off until when Sunday school starts without going in to use the bathroom.

I dropped the kids off and went to my Sunday school class. It was a good class and I felt pretty good. After that I picked the kids up and we headed to church. Annie didn't want to stop playing with some dinosaurs and we were meeting in the old (much smaller) sanctuary and I wanted to make sure we could find three seats together. I talked to her and we went to church. They did GREAT in church but started running around afterwards. We headed home and I unloaded, unpacked, and put up all our stuff and changed clothes. I sent a couple of Facebook messages, talked to P on the phone, and read blogs a bit while the kids had media time. I fixed their lunches and mine and we ate and then I worked on a couple of posts while they had rest time. I took a nap and then helped the kids clean up their room and started a load of laundry. I got their supper fixed and sent them outside and then worked on another post, folded a load of laundry, and put up and washed dishes. We brushed teeth and loaded up and went to get Peyton.

We got gas on the way home and put the kids right to bed (Graves was already asleep). Peyton watched a show. I got on the computer and finished a post and read some blogs and then ate supper. Peyton and I chatted and went to sleep.

It was such a nice week! I'm clearly back to being way behind on these things and I'd love to catch up before the baby gets here but we'll see!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Babykins #3: Thirty Six Weeks

Pregnancy Highlights:
 How far along: 36
Size of Baby: (via BabyCenter) Babykins #3 is about six pounds and is gaining around an ounce a day- she's about the size of a crenshaw melon (?) and is about eighteen and a half inches long. She is shedding herlittle downy covering and the waxy vernix that has been protecting her.
Total Weight Gain/Loss: twenty eight pounds as of my last appointment.
Maternity Clothes: Honestly, most of my maternity stuff is too warm (since my other babies were born in April). So I'm getting by with my one pair of maternity shorts, loose dresses, and gym clothes. Ha!
Gender: It's a girl! 
Movement: She's really active. Every time she moves now I get more excited about holding her. Just a few more weeks!
Sleep: Not the best, but it has been worse.
Cravings: I went to Babalu last night with some friends and it was the most amazing thing I've put in my mouth. Too bad it gave me some of the worst indigestion ever.

Symptoms: back pain and heartburn and some pretty strong Braxton Hicks are the worst of it
What I Miss: I can't complain too much because I actually feel a lot better than I did most of the pregnancy, but again, just being completely physically comfortable. 
Best Moment This Week: Well, the funniest moment was when Graves and Peyton got back from being out of the house for a few hours and I told Peyton "I was so productive and got so much done! Come look in the kids' room!" and Graves got so excited and asked "Is she in there???" I wasn't *that* productive, Buddy.
What I Am Looking Forward To: Being full term next week! I'm happy for every day with her on the inside until forty weeks because I know that's the best for her but it will feel really good to hit that marker. 
Comparison to Graves:
[I was on bedrest and apparently I didn't own the gym shorts I'm wearing today because Peyton's boxers- which have been getting a lot of use again this round- were the only shorts that fit me.]

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


My friend Mallory and I occasionally like to send each other discussion "prompts". I totally nerd out on this kind of thing. Recently she send me one she said she read in a book where a person chooses verbs to encourage themselves to LIVE. 

Wake up. Leave your brain off for a minute. Ease into the day. Now go ahead and make that list. Or lists. Let the bath water get too hot. Embrace your loved ones- after you, and they, have bathed. Don't rush breakfast. Eat as many other meals with your people as possible. Enjoy your curated Instagram feed of people and places you find lovely. With zero guilt. Do things you are fearful of. Take risks. Acknowledge it when you do, whether the venture was successful or not. Connect with friends any way you can. Listen to music that stills your soul. Listen to music that awakens your soul. Reject the cult of productivity. Embrace voluntary simplicity. But also- sometimes- Treat Yo Self. Get your husband to do his Aziz Ansari impression. Call your hilarious best friend who's gift is impressions. Have deep conversations. Have shallow conversations. Enjoy your marriage. Enjoy your children. Enjoy their childhood. Practice gratitude. Acknowledge the Creator. Acknowledge the Redeemer. Acknowledge the Spirit within. Rest in not having all (or even many) of the answers. Read Manning or Capon. Sleep as much as (or more than) you need.

Weekly Smorgasbord

 So....I am way behind on these. Some of this is sort of irrelevant even, for example since Cruz and Kasich have suspended their campaigns. But I think that the material is still really humorous and thought-provoking, respectively, so I included it. Also on the list, spiritual awakening by way of Rice Krispies, fear of place, cooking a little something extra each day, and help finding your calling!

On Faith:
Posted: 28 Mar 2016 10:57 PM PDT
"Or, I've let a lukewarm, postmodern, pseudo-Christianity take the place of real belief. I've embraced a loose cut spirituality that lets me stay in control. I've worshiped a "Jesus-lite" who would never actually let me be thrown into a lion's den, or want me to survive several years of a broken marriage, or let me feel lonely, or let me feel abandoned, or let me get sawed in half for the gospel by watching one of my children live in danger. Chasing your bliss has popped on a plastic Jesus mask in certain corners of evangelicalism, and when you're hurting, that's a tempting god to chase. But no matter how I've tried to patch up disappointment, my jimmy-rigged solutions have never worked for very long. After I've run into a concrete wall hard enough, I've finally come to the point of having to just admit the honest truth—that sometimes it's just the Saturday after Good Friday, and my hope is lying in a tomb waiting for Resurrection morning."

Rice Krispies: My Spiritual Awakening
 "Perhaps it isn’t any wonder why we struggled. We had been fed a steady diet for years that we were meant to change the world, to be heroes, to be different than the rest of the world, to be radical, to prepare only for the mountaintop! Exclamation points!
And when we found ourselves in adulthood with the truth that there are diapers to change and bills to pay, toilets to clean and laundry to fold, time cards to punch and late nights to work, it felt too humble and too altogether ordinary to possibly be God’s will for us.
As I was picking up those Rice Krispies, I had a sudden thought that came zinging into my self-important rant, so unlooked-for that it must only have been the Spirit of God breaking through.
Do you think God is also too good for the ordinary work?"

How Kasich's Religion is Hurting Him with Conservatives

"“God gives me unconditional love,” Kasich told Kelly, by way of explaining his stance on gay marriage. “I’m going to give it to my family and my friends and the people around me. If you listen closely to what Kasich has said over the years about religion, you start to see a particular theme: He seems less motivated by specific strictures and “values” than by the broader conviction that eternal life changes our perspective on the temporal."

I so thought I linked to this but I can't seem to find it anywhere in a WS post. Anyway, great article. I so strongly wish more people had given/would give him a shot. Besides being shockingly sane, he truly seems like a person of real conviction.
[Most of the time I try not to let myself become too discouraged by the current political climate but it's a bad day in America when we're more alienated by Dallas Willard quoting men than by Mussolini quoting men.]
On Relationships:
Posted: 28 Mar 2016 11:26 PM PDT
"Then, there are those sandwiches I make, more mustard than anything. I heap rounds of salami and cheddar cheese onto a croissant, sliced in half and cover it everything with plain yellow mustard, and then the top half of the croissant. It tastes like Chicago in the summer, and also like living on my own for the first time in the late spring, finally responsible for all of my own grocery shopping. It's messy like those days of learning to feed myself. Messy like the tubs of guacamole I bought for dinner at Trader Joe's because I was tired and didn't have a food processor. Messy like the sticky counter after I've gotten out twelve ingredients to make one cocktail. I'm learning that good relationships are like homemade pasta sauce, overstuffed tacos, and cocktails. They are nourishing and take time and trouble, they don't stay contained in the safe parts of your life, they can delight and intoxicate you. They're a mess."

On Parenting:
Posted: 28 Mar 2016 11:24 PM PDT
"It is 11am, and I have visited every emotion on the map. My culinary degree laughs at the ramen I am boiling as I reflect on the places we have traveled in less than six hours. Just this morning, I was standing on mountaintops, intoxicated with joy as I watched my daughters laugh with each other over nonsense. Heaving with pride when my big girl taught me about the icy rings around Saturn, or my little one rolled around the shag living room rug like she was born to do it. Gravel roads turned into canyons of angst and rage as Ana argued with me over cleaning up or tried to bite the baby. Then there were the deep oceans where waves were washing over me and I was in over my head with all of the things I had to handle between lunch and naptime, all the while the baby is fussing. Sometimes, I feel like I am running through a deep sanded desert, dehydrated and trying to find water, but instead of water, it is energy that I am lacking. Always rushing, ever so slowly, to check all the boxes."

Photo Essay: A Should-less Morning
"A few months back when our days felt like they were bursting at the seams and our lives were seriously lacking down time, I heard about this idea of having "should-less" days. The concept was simple: when life got too busy or too overwhelming, you'd give yourself a day free from to-dos and obligations to rest, to play and to connect. "

On Place:
Posted: 28 Mar 2016 12:25 PM PDT
"So why, why, do we live here? I tell myself we're here because place matters. Where we live matters. What we see every day, the people we come in contact with, the reality of our communities — they matter. Our place, our community, shapes what is "normal." For every smashed beer bottle, there are dozens of friendly "hellos" and shared toys over the fence with the Somali family next door. For every waft of second-hand smoke, there are kind strangers holding open the door for my double stroller at the Dollar Store. And I want to go down kicking and screaming against the mantras of the American dream, that more stuff and homogenous living is better. I want to rail against the malaise of centering only on me and mine and my kind. I want my kids to know that their whiteness is just one color among many. Because I want to be where God is dwelling, and God is here, or so I've been told."

On Race:
Posted: 27 Mar 2016 11:22 AM PDT
" So the white librarian flips through her iPad and then finally, triumphantly, shows you a picture of the only other black boy who has ever been to storytime who looks nothing like your son, who is two years older than your son. And you realize that, to this white educator, all black boys look alike—are to be equally, interchangeably, dismissed in the classroom—and you suddenly understand that the preschool to prison pipeline is very real and just how many black boys in prison are there because they have been falsely accused, misidentified as someone else."

I typically try not to make this about me when I link to this sort of thing, because it's so, SO not. But it's hard not to this time.  Recently, I've shared how grateful I was for our friends at Calvary-St. George's who met us right where we were. Many of you know that when we lived in Brooklyn, we were fortunate enough to find two bodies of believers who welcomed us and loved us well. If we had been there indefinitely, I think we would have had to face some decisions at some point, but as we knew we'd only be there a short amount of time we chose to push ourselves to invest as deeply as we could in both places.
Reading this brought to mind our friends at Trinity Grace: Crown Heights, who also welcomed us as we were- white, very priviledged, often fearful folks from the suburbs of the Deep South who happened to have a small child who was deathly afraid of elderly black women (which ironically seemed to me at first to make up like fifty percent of our neighborhood and about ninety percent of our apartment building).
This all occurred to me because I cringed as I read about the librarian, thinking of our first Sunday at TGC and how I made the exact same mistake with two black men close to my own age. Y'all, these two guys look about as similar as Hulk Hogan and Mr. Rogers. Even their actual skin tones are probably as different as my own and Malibu Barbie's. But our new friend, who I made the mistake in front of, grinned and continued the conversation eloquently as I dug myself further and further into a hole. He ended up becoming one of Peyton's closest friends from our time there and became very dear to all four of us.
I reflect all the time on the way my experience in the city fundamentally changed who I am and my worldview, but too often I forget that it was often the PEOPLE doing the holy work of welcoming us into their communities and lives and giving us grace to grow and learn.

On Calling:
3 Important Lessons to Help You Find Your Calling
"So I propose an alternative, a compromise between doing nothing and picking the wrong dream: Make a seasonal commitment. Choose something that strikes your fancy based on the possibility that it could be your dream. In other words: Experiment. Not in a flaky, noncommittal way. Pick something, and commit to it for a season. Call it a seasonal dream if you want. Iterate on it until you reach a point where you know this is what you should do or not. Then go deeper or move on. This will give you experience, broaden your skill set, and teach you the value of commitment."

On HSPs: 

12 Things a Highly Sensitive Person Needs
"Noisy, busy environments — like a crowded mall during the holidays, a concert, or a big party — can wreak havoc on a sensitive person’s highly reactive nervous system. Likewise, packed schedules and high-pressure situations, like a job interview or the first day in a new school, are overstimulating. If you know you’ll be in situation that will frazzle you, plan some time to decompress in a quiet space afterward. It’s best if you can be alone."

On Old-Fashioned Practices
Old-Fashioned Niceties That Deserve a Comeback
"From kids home with 
the flu to friends in the hospital, life presents 
oh-too-many opportunities to tend to people who are ill. Unfortunately, I think we are kind of 
terrible at it. We’re not sure how to behave, bent over our devices rather than being present. My closest childhood friend died last year, and I 
spent many long days and nights by her hospice bed. Here’s my simple advice: Take off your coat, put your phone away, 
and find something to do—leafing through a magazine, knitting, working on a crossword puzzle—that communicates that you’re available to help or chat but don’t need to be entertained. The same rules apply to someone who has lost a loved one. Just show up...“There’s something so intimate,
 in this day and age, 
about sharing media with 
just one other person, rather than live-tweeting 
whatever is on Netflix.” Joanna Goddard of, says 
that her husband started 
reading aloud to her at bedtime when she was pregnant with their first child: “I was too sleepy 
to keep my eyes open. But we’ve continued it because it’s a lovely 
way to lie close and see what jumps out or resonates with your partner.""

I loved this so much. The phone cord and welcome wagon tips were two other favorites.

On Cooking:
Posted: 25 Mar 2016 02:32 PM PDT
"To keep up with the high food demand in my house, I try to cook a little something every single day. Sometimes, it's as simple as hard boiling some eggs or baking banana bread. Whatever, cooking a little something everyday keeps my momentum going, saves money, and ensures that there is always something homemade in the house. I always do this cooking in the morning or early afternoon and never during the dinner prep hour. Sometimes, the cooking is in preparation for our dinner meal, but more often than not it's for breakfasts or snacks. I add it on to one of those things I have to do like laundry or unloading the dishwasher. It's part of running the household and not subject to my feelings. Cook a little something everyday - sometimes I feel it, and a lot of times not. Regardless, I'm always glad I did it!"

Such a smart idea! 

Can-Opener Cuisine
"But food is never just about taste. It’s also about culture and desire and the ways we want to present ourselves to the world. Poppy Cannon wanted convenience food to be a miracle for working women. So she held her nose and believed. See, Cannon understood working women. At a time when women were expected and encouraged to be financially dependant on their husbands, Cannon was viscerally familiar with the downside of such arrangements. Her father walked out on her family when she was a teenager, leaving her and her siblings alone with their mentally ill mother. She herself was married four times and divorced three, and had three children by three different men. Her food writing work wasn’t just a lark — it was a necessity.""

Satire Worth Sharing:
Posted: 25 Mar 2016 08:14 PM PDT
"Jerusalem — big city! Biggest city. You know, Jerusalem, it used to be great. Now it's just terrible! Terrible! We gotta get great biblical cities again. Gotta get great. So Jesus — really nice guy. Too nice. Way too nice. People are too nice now. That's why we're losing. Losing all the time. So Jesus, he's going into Jerusalem. So he asks a disciple to get a … a donkey. And that's why he's a loser! That's why Jesus Christ is a loser. Why are people trying to act like this loser on a donkey? When Donald Trump goes into a city, he's getting the best. The absolute best. A Trump horse. A Trump stallion. You know they measure horses in hands? Well, they measure Trump horses in Trump hands. The biggest hands."

Posted: 15 Mar 2016 08:08 PM PDT
""It's absolutely revolting, and I can't believe they would run something like that on television," said Dorothy Chalmers, a Dillsboro, NC mother who saw the ad with her three small children. "I immediately turned it off, of course, but I had to talk with my kids about what we had just seen. It was so nasty and unpleasant, my youngest one started to cry. Is this the kind of low-blow campaigning we can expect to endure through November?""

Technology Worth Sharing: 

Library Extention Turns Into a Branch of Your Local Library

Once installed (and configured), simply browse book or ebook listings on, and Library Extension will insert an extra window above the buy button with info on whether your library has the title in its catalog. For some libraries, you can also browse the audiobook, movie, and music catalogs. 

How cool is this?? 

Text Editor Restricted to 1000 Most Common Words
Inspired by Randall Munroe's Thing Explainer, Morten Just built a simple text editor for OS X that restricts your writing to the 1000 most common English words.

Photography Worth Sharing: 
Posted: 03 Apr 2016 12:54 PM PDT
So pretty

Noteworthy Quotes: 
"Perhaps I seem to you rather fanatical. I myself sometimes worry about that. But to be honest, I know that the day when I become more 'reasonable,' I shall have to chuck my entire theology. When I first started in theology, my idea of it was quite different--rather more academic, probably. Now it has turned into something else altogether. But I do believe that at last, for the first time in my life, I am on the right track. And I am often quite happy about that. My only anxiety is that fear of what others may think will bog me down and keep me from moving forward. I think I am right to say that true inner clarity and honesty will come only by starting to take the Sermon on the Mount seriously. In it alone is the force that can blow all this hocus-pocus sky-high... The restoration of the church must surely depend on a new kind of monasticism, which has nothing in common with its former self but proposes a life of uncompromising discipleship, following Christ according to the Sermon on the Mount. I believe the time has come to gather the people together and do this." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"God tells our story by deconstructing the story we have about ourselves. What is left is the story of Calvary. And that is the only story that matters." -David Zahl

"I've read ‪#‎HB1523‬ through a couple of times now. I've read innumerable reactions and commentaries on it. Most of them are ill-informed and inflammatory. The law itself is pretty poorly written, but welcome to legislation. All of this discourse makes me very concerned, again, for our ability as a society to calmly and rationally discuss differing views.My thoughts are that we likely won't know if this protects the bad kinds of discrimination or just allows the reasonable kinds for quite some time. Or, perhaps, does nothing. Reasonable kinds of discrimination? Yes. Each one of us discriminates every day. For good and bad reasons and in private and public ways. Some discrimination should be illegal (discrimination based on race is the most obvious and glaring example). Some other discrimination is part of being a successful business person. I won't hire an English teacher with poor grammar throughout his or her resume. I can remember my wedding photographer telling me she interviews all her potential brides and their mothers before agreeing to photograph their big day. Why? Because she discriminates against people who are mean or crazy or otherwise difficult to work with. Lawyers do the same thing - only taking cases they think they can win and often choosing not to work with someone for personal reasons. Doctors don't usually and shouldn't usually have that luxury. Counsellors are a sticky wicket - I have heard of many folks being referred to a new counselor because of personal conflict, and it seems this is a necessary part of that type of work. Some discrimination is simply the drawing of boundaries. Not liking someone's lifestyle, viewing it as immoral, or not wanting to participate in it is not hate. I can show you some who hate, but disagreement isn't hate. I don't particularly like biker gangs and I think the Ku Klux Klan is immoral and I don't want to participate in abortions. I don't hate any of these people. Promise. At the same time, if I open up a lemonade stand, I will happily (and even be bound to by my own views of the teaching of my savior Jesus) serve that lemonade to the tattooed motorcyclists, the worst white supremacists, and the nurse coming to cool off after assisting in an abortion. Serving these people has not made me a participant. I am supposed to love all my neighbors, regardless of anything in their lives I may view as bad. A lot of this "should I participate in something I view as sinful?" turns on how much are you participating in an act and how much are you serving a person? I don't think people or businesses should be required to participate in an act they view as violating of their conscience, but I do think people and businesses (especially those at issue here - service industry businesses) should be required to serve all kinds if they will serve any. Where the line is between service and participation? It's hard and it takes calm and kind and servant-hearted people to figure it out. Individual liberty should be preserved- both of people and businesses; persecution should be forbidden; consciences should be respected; the image of God in every human should be recognized. Most of all, I'd like to exhort anyone who might stumble across this one tiny person's opinion, to calm down. Give a person on the opposite side of this issue - and any issue - the benefit of the doubt that they're not filled with hate or perversion and might be a person in need of grace. And you yelling at them might not be that grace.Go listen to MLK's I Have a Dream speech. Have a cuppa tea or a cold beer or whatever does it for you. Read the Soggy Sweat whiskey speech. Pick some wisteria. Pray. Kiss someone.We'll make it through. Mississippi is a beautiful place with trees for days and the most hospitable, ready-to-laugh people I've ever known. And the food, oh, the food." -Ann Lowrey Forster