Tuesday, October 13, 2015

31 Days of Ordinary Wonder: Soft Quilts and Cold Breezes

I didn't get to my post yesterday. I didn't get to much of anything yesterday. I was fighting day two of a two day weather headache and by six that evening it was winning. The whole day had been a downward spiral and it kept getting worse.

I feed the kids Raman noodles while I laid outside on the chaise lounge with a cold pack on my head and put them bed at 7:30. They were great sports.

I laid on the couch for two hours after that until Peyton got home, willing myself to go to sleep, but it was one of those times where the pain overpowered my tiredness.

Peyton got home and opened ever window in the room. I snuggled further under my favorite quilt and buried my face in the fabric, enjoying its smell and the coolness coming from the windows.

Sleep finally came and it was the best I've had in weeks, maybe months.

The rain came in the night and the front passed through and I woke up feeling the relief I had earnestly prayed for the night before.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

31 Days of Ordinary Wonder: Cool Windows and Warm Pillows

This morning, I woke up and, for the first time since Brooklyn, there was frost on the windows.

There was also a little boy cuddled next to me, his warm breath on my neck, just like when he was a tiny baby.

I'm grateful for the coolness at my window and for the change of seasons, but I'm more grateful for the warmth on my pillow and seasons that linger a bit.

Weekly Smorgasbord

I know I've been sharing a ton lately all at once, but this is the last "catch up" one of these I'm doing and now it should be more consistent, but a smaller handful of links each time.

On Faith:
Posted: 15 Sep 2015 03:06 PM PDT
"One of the most beautiful mysteries of grace is that when we have questions stirring, when we know complaints lie beneath our tidy exterior, when we experience fogged in and rainy days of the soul, we get to experience the glory of God by coming to him when we are most empty, most hungry and most in need. That is the very moment that we are able to be nourished by the Bread of Life. "
Posted: 13 Sep 2015 01:19 PM PDT
"I commit to a lifetime of ongoing conversion and transformation, recognizing that I am always on a journey with both gifts and limitations."

Wow, this is beautiful. I loved all seven!
Posted: 26 Sep 2015 09:41 PM PDT
"'Go out to the highways and byways, go out to tell the good news fearlessly, without prejudice, without superiority, without condescension, to all those who have lost the joy of living. Go out to proclaim the merciful embrace of the Father. Go out to those who are burdened by pain and failure, who feel that their lives are empty, and proclaim the folly of a loving Father who wants to anoint them with the oil of hope, the oil of salvation. Go out to proclaim the good news that error, deceitful illusions and falsehoods do not have the last word in a person's life. Go out with the ointment which soothes wounds and heals hearts.' Pope Francis, from earlier today, from his homily for the Canonization Mass for Blessed Junipero Serra. That paragraph is enough to make you want to become a Christian again (or for the first time), huh?".

 Yes, it does.
Posted: 25 Sep 2015 02:20 PM PDT
"Christians' relationship with the secular world, then, should focus first on having lives that compel others to want to consider Jesus. "As far as it depends on you," Scripture says, "live at peace with all men." Instead of taking a moral stand against secular ethics, then, what if we focused on on embodying Jesus' Spirit-filled, life-giving ethics beautifully and compellingly?"

Wow. This is so well written and is one of those things where I really want to copy and paste the whole thing because this guy articulates my own thoughts so well.
Posted: 25 Sep 2015 02:22 PM PDT
This is sort of adorable, people of DC.
Posted: 25 Sep 2015 02:21 PM PDT
"Unbelieving women either compete for the attention of men through outlandish messages that communicate some variation of "easy lay," or in the grip of resentment they give up the endeavor entirely, which is how we get lumberjack dykes. The former is an avid reader of Cosmopolitan and thinks she knows 15K ways to please a man in bed. The latter is just plain surly about the fact that there even are any men."

Well, Doug Wilson is being crude, overgeneralizing, emphasizing the complete wrong thing, and being awful towards women. This doesn't really shock me anymore. The degree to which he does those things still does.

On Friendship:
Posted: 21 Sep 2015 09:46 PM PDT
"Because at the end of the day, Aaron's professor is exactly right: It doesn't matter how much you love someone. What matters is that they know it."

Posted: 13 Sep 2015 01:10 PM PDT
"Be the first to say "what's going on in your life?" and to share authentically. Sometimes we are fearful of opening up and letting others into the deep, raw, vulnerable places of our hearts and souls." 

Great list!

On Writing:
Posted: 13 Sep 2015 12:34 PM PDT
"Truth is, I too often care more about the appearance of concern than I do the condition of my capacity to give love or otherwise accept it. Too often my reactions to the news of the day are simply that—reactions. Too often I don't approach the pressing social issues of our generation with the sobriety of spirit born only in quiet prayer and mediation. And so, I find myself bouncing from one issue to the next, never making an impact in any of them, notwithstanding the occasional fifty spot I might funnel through a donation website...If I were writing unafraid, I'd ask the church this: are we still enough to notice where the Spirit blows? Are we stopping long enough to examine our motives—especially as it relates to social justice issues—to reflect on the whether we're living from the deep well of love or the shallow well of the cool? I'd ask whether we know our neighbors, whether we care to know our new neighbors." 

Huh. Wow. Yep.

On Guns:
Posted: 04 Oct 2015 01:14 PM PDT
"We as a society have made our decision. Monthly high profile gun massacres are the price we are willing to pay for increasingly unregulated access to guns by virtually everyone - with minor impediments for felons and people who have been adjudicated as mentally ill. If you step back from what I grant is the sincerity of many who advocate this non-naming, the whole thing is really just clearly a joke as a way to somehow take action about the growing scourge of mass gun violence. It is a grand evasion because we need to make ourselves feel better by finding a way to think we are doing 'something' even though we're unwilling to do anything that actually matters."
Posted: 06 Oct 2015 12:44 PM PDT
"Each of those tragedies came with the same breaking-news urgency as Columbine, but none generated the same sense of expected action because fewer and fewer people actually believed things could change. The last 16 years have been a lesson in how "never again" can be cowed into "I need a drink.""

On Reverse Culture Shock:
Posted: 26 Sep 2015 12:47 PM PDT
"The feelings of intensely missing who I used to be, that naive little darling do-gooder. What is new to me is the realization that I can never go back to the girl who used to live here. She is gone, and the one who has replaced her is so fragile." Such a beautiful post on the shock of re-entry. So relatable.

On Seasons:
Posted: 26 Sep 2015 12:01 PM PDT
"And when we say fall, when we say autumn, we're talking about the whole thing: the ducks and the chipmunks and the pumpkin carving and the harvest celebrations. We're talking about dark mornings and cold feet and apple pies. About the beauty of transition…and also the cold, harsh jolt of it. All of it is true, all of it simmered down like cider to one, bare, single word. Autumn."

On Young Humanitarians:
Posted: 24 Sep 2015 02:20 PM PDT
"Today's his tenth birthday. He's a very emotional young man. He likes to solve other people's problems. One time when he was five years old, he came with me to the store and we bought two pounds of fresh apricots. I let him carry the bag home. He walked a little bit behind me the entire way. After awhile, I asked him to hand me an apricot. 'I can't,' he said. 'I've given them all away.' I knew then that I was raising a humanitarian."

On Micro-Aggression and Political Correctness:
Posted: 13 Sep 2015 09:46 PM PDT
"...as progress is made toward a more equal and humane society, it takes a smaller and smaller offense to trigger a high level of outrage. The goalposts shift, allowing participants to maintain a constant level of anger and constant level of perceived victimization.s people compete for status as victims or as defenders of victims."

 Interesting ideas (many of which I'm not sure I agree with), but honestly some fascinating observations.
Posted: 13 Sep 2015 01:52 PM PDT
"Some of us identify as gender-questioning," Jack called back to the officer. "And we reject your Eurocentric imposition of the jungle-rescue narrative."

On Naps:
Posted: 21 Sep 2015 09:23 PM PDT
"My, my. The prophet Elijah was suicidal, and the Lord brought him around with some hearty snacks and a couple of naps. Maybe God knows something we don't. I could talk all day about the rest of faith, about the finished work of Jesus, about how all that needs to be done has been done, and everything is ours in Christ. But I doubt I'll hold your attention for long. It could be that you're staring zombie-like at the Facebook feed, with glazed eyes and spittle pooling in the hollows behind your collarbones, because you're too physically exhausted to care much about spiritual rest. You'd love to remember the good word Jesus spoke to you last month or last week or last night, but you're too worn out to hold it at the front of your mind. Your emotions are running away with you. You're blowing things out of proportion. You're saying things you don't mean, don't believe, because you're too weary to cling to the truth." 

On Living Slowly and Listening Well:
Posted: 13 Sep 2015 10:20 PM PDT
"Maybe you can relate to this distracted, grey, indecisive mindset. Maybe you are feeling it too: the rush to produce, the pull to compete, the thoughts flying fast and furious, the mad sprint toward the finish line. I've got a secret for us both: that kind of race doesn't have a finish line."
Posted: 26 Sep 2015 12:52 PM PDT
"I had learned that it is in quiet that we honor the sacred and painful moments of life. I had learned that presence is more than speaking, and that words can be barriers that separate us from others and from entering the moment we are currently living."

On Memories:
Posted: 21 Sep 2015 10:35 AM PDT
"I have deeply engraved memories of my grandfather discreetly handing me $5 bills (I couldn't comprehend that amount, not in those days), telling me to go buy whatever I wanted. I remember going on the rides and walking through the animal barns. I remember my mom making me a bed under one of the counters while she and my dad worked late into the night. I feel asleep to the smell of fair food, the sound of footsteps scuffling just past my head on the other side of the counter, and I dreamed of the view of the fair from the top of the Ferris wheel."

Just beautiful.

On Poetry:
Posted: 21 Sep 2015 10:06 PM PDT
"And almost everyone gets it wrong. This is the most remarkable thing about "The Road Not Taken"—not its immense popularity (which is remarkable enough), but the fact that it is popular for what seem to be the wrong reasons. It's worth pausing here to underscore a truth so obvious that it is often taken for granted: Most widely celebrated artistic projects are known for being essentially what they purport to be. When we play "White Christmas" in December, we correctly assume that it's a song about memory and longing centered around the image of snow falling at Christmas. When we read Joyce's Ulysses, we correctly assume that it's a complex story about a journey around Dublin as filtered through many voices and styles. A cultural offering may be simple or complex, cooked or raw, but its audience nearly always knows what kind of dish is being served."

On Entertaining:
Posted: 22 Sep 2015 12:41 PM PDT
So pretty! 

On Transportation:
Posted: 15 Sep 2015 02:54 PM PDT
Sorta crazy, sorta fun.

(Hilarious Take) On Contemporary Christian Music of the Past:
Posted: 26 Sep 2015 09:52 PM PDT
"You guys. This feels like airing our dirty laundry in front of the seculars, and I'm embarrassed to do it, because there's a huge part of me that feels very affectionate toward this song. One thing I will say: Michael Tait, Kevin Max, and Toby Mac are genuinely talented vocalists. But this song…I can't defend it. It starts off with "Pardon me, sir, your epidermis is showing" and it just gets worse from there. It's every white person who has ever loudly proclaimed that she "just doesn't SEE color" at a public zoning meeting, in a song."

Noteworthy Quotes: 
"So many fathers are petrified when their sons show strong sensitivity, or feel things strongly. 
Here are 3 tips for parents who have sons who feel things strongly. 
1. Remind them daily that their feelings are a gift and not a curse. Not to suppress them but express them appropriately. And remind them of moments everyday where they pulled them off like a champ.
Every night I tell Losiah, "Buddy, I'm so impressed at how you handle ALL of your emotions. Today I saw you..."
2. Remove the ridiculous notion that boys don't cry. Encourage their tears and let them know how proud you are that they are strong enough to cry. God created their sensitivity.  3. Teach them a wholistic masculinity.
I made up this Whittaker Man Creed for us.  Strength to care for those they lead.  Compassion to feel for those in need.  Joy to spread around like seed. Celebrate your sons feelings." - Carlos Whitaker

Tonight I sat on the back deck, friends around an unlit fireplace, and we talked music for our Sunday morning service. The boys stayed up a little too late; Titus ran more laps around the deck than the Energizer Bunny. I ate a little too much pie, had a little too much ice cream on top of it. I lost myself in the rhythm of the crickets' chirp a little too quickly, and waived a finger to a good man's mournful violin. My phone buzzed, and I received word that my friend Preston Yancey (my friend--I use that word with great intention as certain wise men have taught me to do) saw his first son miracle himself into the world, as first sons are prone to do. I might have gotten a little teary. Jackson's home. Another little brother has come into this world of little brothers. Tonight I felt very very human. And in that, I felt very very loved by my friend, God. My friend--I use that word with great intention as certain wise men have taught me to do. -Seth Haines
For followers of Jesus, how you engage and regards others when you are doing politics is of higher importance than what your politics are. You can have the "right" political beliefs but when you come across as bitter, arrogant, cynical, accusatory, judgmental, stereotyping, etc., your politics are wrong. If you do not act with grace and love by default to the opponents of your political beliefs instead of defaulting towards contempt, your politics have more in common with the devil than Jesus. -Owen Weddle

Noteworthy Images:

Bartlet move right there. I just find him so endearing sometimes.

Joy is beautiful. [And I'm actually past the point where I feel the need to couch every share in "I'm not Catholic, but..." and "I'm not a liberal, but...]

Noteworthy Videos:

John Boehner Pope-side = SD reading The Giving Tree earlier today. Just kidding, I full out sobbed while Graves patted my arm.

Sometimes you just can't help yourself Check out WHITE RHINO 365
Posted by Adrian Van Oyen on Tuesday, September 22, 2015
My favorite is Ace of Base at 2:01. The cd with "The Sign" on it was literally the first album I EVER owned. And also, just watch the whole thing. So hysterical. 

FYI, no one's gonna drag you up to get into the light where you belong. Also, life is demanding without understanding

A Homemade Clock Got a Muslim Boy Sent to Juvenile Detention
A Muslim boy was arrested at school in Irving, Texas, because his teachers thought his homemade clock was a bomb.
Posted by AJ+ on Wednesday, September 16, 2015
A clock, y'all.


Saturday, October 10, 2015

31 Days of Ordinary Wonder: The Giver of Wonder (Week 2 Quote)

My friend Mallory shared this quote with me and isn't it perfect? I've talked some about looking out for wonder and taking care of ourselves so we can find it, but what about asking for it? 

I know I don't ask the Lord enough and I want to change that. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

31 Days of Ordinary Wonder: Going Home

I've had a hard week, physically and emotionally. It's just been draining. Tonight, I really didn't even want to go to my parents' house for our weekly beans and rice dinner. I always look forward to it, but an hour or so before, I really felt like just staying home. Of course, I don't think I've ever wished I hadn't gone once we got there, Peyton and the kids were going, and I was mainly just being cranky.

Within seconds of getting there, I was so thankful. The house was warm and smelled good. Supper tasted better than ever. My parents and the kids are so in love with each other it's always a good reminder why we're back here anyway. Everyone had fun and laughed so hard.

I relaxed after a particularly frustrating day of school with Annie and felt the tension leave my body.

It's good to go home. And it's good to be close enough to it that it can be a weekly endeavor.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

31 Days of Wonder: Mourning Books and Absorbing Gifts with an Open Hand

A few days ago, Annie told me "Sometimes, I want to save some of my Sea Creatures book for later, but then I just get too excited". I asked her if she'd be very sad when it was over and she said "Nope, I can just read it again and again all over again, because I own this book".

I'm not wishing it on her by any stretch, but I remember the first time I truly cried at a book's completion. I know the gift that reading it again and again would be, but I also knew I'd never experience it exactly the same way and I mourned the loss. I've of course had similar feelings over the years with movies, television shows, even stages of relationships.

In one way, I think when we truly appreciate the wonder in something, this feeling is inevitable. We start to miss it even before it's taken from us.

At the same time, I think there's a way to absorb it with "an open hand".
It's one of the hardest things for me in life, and especially in mothering, but I think I'm learning. It's frightening to me, but it's such a much better way to life and it brings a lot of peace, I think. And this life? Like Jesus, I don't want to count it a thing to be grasped at.

31 Days of Ordinary Wonder: Darkness

I had a terrible headache yesterday and spent most of the afternoon and evening in bed and then went to sleep super early.

I enjoyed the darkness, the way the jersey sheets felt against my skin, and the room I gave myself to breath and let go of a to-do list that I knew would be draining at best, damaging at worst.

I want to learn to capture this quiet stillness more often without having to be ill or take to the bed.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

31 Days of Ordinary Wonder: Taking Care of Our Fragile Selves

In order to notice the wonder, I think we have to examine our pace and our priorities and I think we have to take care of our fragile selves.

This is obviously going to look vastly different for different people.

But I do think if we're honest with ourselves, we are, each and every one of us, fragile. I also think we all have a certain pace where we do well and honor the margins and boundaries we need to. And we all have priorities, whether we like what they currently look like are not.

This year, I've tried to be especially careful in these areas- setting my own pace, prioritizing what I think is most important, and caring for myself well.

The other morning I took a walk by myself and I noticed so many ordinary little wonders, but I wouldn't have if I hadn't put myself in that spot (physically, mentally, and emotionally). I would have missed them.

I am determined to keep positioning myself in a place where I can notice God's good gifts.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Weekly Happenings #337 (September 14-20)-- The Big Surprise!

Peyton got up super early on Monday and went for a bike ride. He got home and the kids got up and I slept until nine. I got up and we all had breakfast and then I planned the day and school and took my bath and made beds. Peyton went to the grocery store and the kids watched their shows. I started laundry and put up dishes and uploaded some pictures and Peyton got home. He took the kids swimming and I worked on a sewing project.

They got home and had rest time and I finished up and read blogs and had lunch. When rest time was over, I did some school work with AP and Peyton and Graves worked in the yard. When we finished, I did a sink full of dishes and wiped down the counters because a pharmacy friend of Peyton's was coming over. After I finished, I straightened a bit and got dressed and then started working on dinner. Jay got here and she and Peyton and the kids visited while I fixed a salad, cooked fish, cute up avocados and made salsa for the fish, and cooked corn. Peyton had made some salsa and we snacked on that and then ate supper. After dinner we visited a bit. It was a really nice night! As soon as Jay left, we got the kids to bed. We did a bunch of dishes and cleaned up the kitchen and Peyton ordered some books off Amazon. I got on the computer for a bit and then we chatted and went to bed.

Tuesday was a fun day. I got up and hustled to get ready for my Bible study. I left a bit late, but they ended up starting late (and had food, so wonderful!). It was a great hour and I came home and made the bed and folded some laundry. I got on the computer and ate lunch and Peyton ran an errand on his bike and then we headed out to do a few other errands- we ran to the mall to get a clear retainer for my nose and also did a test drive to find the school I'd be subbing at on Thursday. Peyton got irate because we got turned around so many times but it was a great chance to explain to Annie that he's actually not perfect. We came home and had rest time (Graves ended up having a snack in his room). I read blogs, uploaded phone pictures, and started a post. Peyton and Graves worked outside and I did school with AP. I did some more laundry and got ready to go walk with Mal. I actually walked over to the park (after Peyton convinced me that it was a little silly to drive) and we had the best walk/visit. She dropped me off at home and we immediately loaded up and headed to my parents' house to camp. Peyton got the tent set up and the kids visited with my parents and then I heated up some leftovers for supper. They went down to the tent and I ate and worked on a blog post. I read a few blogs and then joined them. I do wish we had brought some extra padding, but overall I slept really well. It was cool, but not cold at all and the waves sounded so beautiful. I went to sleep so happy.

Peyton and AP woke up at sunrise on Wednesday, Graves slept a little later, and I woke up around eight thirty.

We visited some more with Mickey and Minnie, had breakfast, and I took a quick bath. We came home and relaxed a bit. I got on the computer, planned school, collected and started laundry, and straightened.
Wolf attack! Just a typical day with Papa (and Graves is completely naked in the backpack, FYI). Also, he may be taking his role as preschool teacher at the Schoolhouse in the Suburbs a little too seriously because I overheard him asking "Where's my friend Momma?"

Peyton and Graves went with his mom to Sam's and AP and I knocked out two math lessons and an English one. I did dishes, changed over laundry, and ate my lunch, too.

Once again, Sweetie's been watching too much Doomsday Preppers. DeeDee took him to Sam's and he came home with forty eight bars of soap, approximately nine pounds of cocktail nuts, and various other multiples of bulk items. The real treasure, not pictured, are the two GALLON jars of Vlasic pickles (to add to the one already in the fridge from his last trip). Or maybe he heard that the pool's future is in the air again and he's trying to recreate the concession stand in our house. OMG.

The guys got home and the kids watched their shows and Peyton and I got the groceries put up and worked on organizing the laundry room and sunroom. Graves had rest time and Peyton took Annie with him to Gateway and the library since she hadn't gotten to grocery shop. I got on the computer and read some blogs and started a book. Peyton and AP got home and Peyton gave the kids baths while I put up dishes and straightened the house and then he left for a drug company dinner at Shapley's.

They decided right after their baths they wanted to go outside. Whatever. They played and I got a lot done- I folded a load of clothes and got them mostly put up, texted with a friend, did dishes, sent a Facebook message to another friend, and cleaned out the top two shelves and the cheese drawer in the fridge. The second shelf was a bigger chore than I anticipated- something had spilled and gotten sort of stuck between the glass and the plastic and I ended up needing to take it out and wash it (I had just been taking the stuff out and wiping it down). The kids ate supper during all this and then I played with them outside and we came in and read and I helped them brush teeth and get to bed. I turned on a podcast and started working on my sewing project. I worked on it a long while and was finishing up as Peyton got home. We talked and then I got on the computer for a bit. I put pictures on Facebook and wrote a post. I ate supper and got out my clothes for the next day and went to bed.

I was in another room and I heard him say "Anyone specific or not really?". Sometimes, I can get him to have entire conversations with me in his sleep.

I got up and got ready and Peyton cooked breakfast and fixed my lunch because I was subbing that day.
Mr. Mom packed me this great looking sandwich for lunch. In a lot of ways, he's a much better housewife than I am.

 I left and got to the school early and got to visit with the headmaster a bit. I really liked him. I got there around ten, so it wasn't even a full day. I had one class, lunch, and then two more classes. Two of the classes had a lot of work/tests to do, but it one class I got to do a good bit of instruction and that was fun.

I got home around four and changed clothes, ate something, and got stuff together.
This was the first thing I saw when I got home.

Also, while I was gone Graves booby trapped the house and AP ate an obscene amount of boiled peanuts.

We all took Graves to his first blastball practice. Annie and I did an English lesson while we waited.
Well, he's basically grown.

We got home and fed and bathed the kids and got them to bed. We made a trip to the attic and Peyton ran to the grocery store and I did a TON of dishes. I got on the computer and put some pictures on Facebook and then ate supper and went to bed with a headache.

Peyton was working, but the kids and I slept pretty late on Friday. They had breakfast and I put up groceries from the night before and made our bed. I got on the computer and took my bath and planned the day while the kids watched their shows. While they cleaned up their room, I got almost their whole closet changed over for Fall! I fixed their lunch and while they ate and then I changed over their shoes. They had rest time and I had lunch and got on the computer. Peyton got home and I put laundry in the dryer, swept in the kids' room, and put up and washed dishes.
He's the best little fella.

Then we headed over to my parents' to see Cookie and Conrad. We got there right before they did. We had a great time visiting and stayed really late.
Throwback to five years ago and the two prettiest girls I know.

Cookie and Annie- five years later. They've added a husband and a brother, respectively. They've become a nurse and learned to read, respectively. They've left the security of home for Nashville and Brooklyn, respectively. They both inspire me and make me proud. Two of my favorite people in all the world!

We left around ten forty five (we used to leave almost that late all the time!) and both kids fell asleep in the car. Annie woke back up and took awhile to get settled down. I got on the computer briefly, ate a snack, and went to bed.

Peyton got up early for work on Saturday and we chatted and then I went back to sleep. The kids got up at nine and I fixed them breakfast and laid back down. They watched their shows and I got on the computer, made the bed, and ate my breakfast. I took my bath and Annie had a meltdown. I brought Graves in the laundry room with me to iron my shirt so she could have some time to herself. We all got ready and I talked to Mal a bit and sorted some clothes to consign. Cookie texted me to see what time we'd be ready. I had thought it would be after lunch, but she and Minnie had finished their errands early. I got the kids and myself ready and Minnie and Cookie got here. We had a good time visiting with Cookie and Conrad, watching football, eating lunch. Annie got to show Cookie a WildKratts episode, too! Cookie and Conrad said they were going to meet a friend for drinks and then Peyton was going to bring us back over for supper when he got off at seven. We loaded up and headed back to our house. SURPRISE! Peyton had planned a big party and I was shocked out of my mind.

I had the best time and people stayed until around six or six thirty. Peyton had his parents' truck (with no carseats) so he had to go get his car. The kids played in the yard and I started to clean up the laundry room where Peyton had tossed a bunch of piles, laundry, dishes, and oh, a mattress. He got home and we packed up some food to take to Cookie and left a huge mess. We ate sushi with my parents and the Reynauds and watched Ole Miss play. I bathed the kids and got them ready for bed. Annie cried about something all the way home and something else once we got here. Bud fell asleep in the car. I put some pictures on IG and then worked on the kitchen for over an hour. I still didn't finish but I got a lot of dishes scrubbed. I went to bed late.

Graves threw up in the middle of the night but the kids both slept really late on Sunday. We all ate breakfast and I got on the computer and took my bath while they watched their shows. I put up a lot of the clean, dry dishes and Cookie and Conrad came over and picked up her keys that they had left. The kids had lunch and rest time. I texted with some friends, ate my lunch, got on the computer, and took a short nap myself. We cleaned up their room and then they played outside. I did more dishes and ironed some stuff (some to consign, some stuff of ours that just needed ironing) and then fixed the kids supper. They ate and we played outside and then I got them ready for bed and read to them. Peyton got home and we ate and talked and planned our week. I tagged my clothes for the consignment sale and listened to a podcast. I wrote a post and planned the week a little more and then put sheets on our bed and went to bed.

Whew, what a wonderful week!

31 Days of Ordinary Wonder: Soups that Spoons Will Not Sink In

I'm a big believer of eating with the seasons. There is nothing better than a bowl of chili in the Fall or Winter. There is little grosser, to me, in the Summer. 

I'm not sure why I am this way. I love ritual and routine and I love the way time works- I think the way it repeats itself is such a calming force in my life. I draw such comfort from it. It's why I love the liturgy, why I love having a new quote in the same little frame in the same little spot in the kitchen ever month. 

But I'm not a big chef. Eating with the season this Summer looked like fish tacos, tomato tarts, and veggie dinners. 

And Fall just means soup (and a grilled cheeses, if you're lucky). 

I hardly ever eat lunch when the kids are up and I often sit at the table and eat alone, not distracted by the computer, or television, or even a book. Another solace-creating ritual in my life. 

The other day I talked to El the whole time I was flipping the grilled cheese. We ended our conversation just as my soup finished warming and right before the sandwich scorched. I sat down at the table and felt especially thankful. For the work of my own hands. For the simple, delicious flavors. For the life giving conversation. And for the break from the day and the chance to regain my energy with a little sustenance. 

“O Lord, refresh our sensibilities. Give us this day our daily taste. Restore to us soups that spoons will not sink in, and sauces which are never the same twice. Raise up among us stews with more gravy than we have bread to blot it with, and casseroles that put starch and substance in our limp modernity. Take away our fear of fat and make us glad of the oil which ran upon Aaron's beard. Give us pasta with a hundred fillings, and rice in a thousand variations. Above all, give us grace to live as true men - to fast till we come to a refreshed sense of what we have and then to dine gratefully on all that comes to hand. Drive far from us, O Most Bountiful, all creatures of air and darkness; cast out the demons that possess us; deliver us from the fear of calories and the bondage of nutrition; and set us free once more in our own land, where we shall serve Thee as Thou hast blessed us - with the dew of heaven, the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine. Amen.” -Robert Farrar Capon

Sunday, October 4, 2015

October Goals and Happenings

It's not really my favorite header or background, but it does feel so warm and Fall-ish and perfect. I was originally thinking of doing something more overtly Halloween (not goblins or anything, but orange and black and such). I'm so glad I didn't. This feels much better.

September was really fun, but a lot busier than I realized it would be. I subbed a couple of times, the kids started their Fall sports, and we're just keeping busy with school. In addition, I've done quite a bit of "fun" things lately-- just spending time with friends and such. So that feels good. But I'm not sure I accomplished near what I meant to!

I'm really excited about what October has to offer:
- I hope we'll make a trip to the State Fair, which is coming up soon. It's no Coney Island, but I think the kids will really enjoy it.
- Right now, my schedule is clear as far as subbing, but I hope I can add in a few days.
- The kids' soccer season is short (honestly, I think I prefer it that way) and will be over by mid November, so this is the big month for it!
- We're planning to camp some more- we're probably even going to take a trip down to Granny's this week and camp there one night.
- I feel like November gets a little crazy, so I think I want to plan some Fall activities to do this month.
- Peyton's been working with the kids a bit on a science curriculum he's mostly developing as he goes along and I'm sure that will continue. Annie is about to finish up Level C in her English curriculum and then we'll start the second half of first grade (I haven't decided if we are going to keep on tugging along or if we'll take a nice break and start back after Christmas).

This is such a nice time of year and I'm excited about the crisp days ahead.

Here were September's goals:
1. Make use of the three books on my nightstand, daily if possible:
    - Reflections for Ragamuffins: Daily Devotions by Brennan Manning 
    - The Mockingbird Devotional: Good News for Today (and Every Day)- Ethan Richardson, Sean              Norris
    - The Book of Common Prayer
I did absolutely terrible with this. I think unless I make it into a routine (i.e. do it at a certain time), it's not gong to to happen. This one is going back on the list.

2. Pray for Peyton and the children daily- with boldness, authenticity, and faith. I was somewhat more conscious of it, but not as consistent as I'd like. Back on the list, as well. (Family)

3. Reestablish pattern of emailing with my close friend/mentor. I did this and it reminded me of how thankful I am for this friendship and how much healthier I am when I put energy into it. (Relationships)

4. Exercise three times a week. Well, this did not happen and it's *not* going back on the list. I want to make it a priority, but to be honest, other things are just more important to me right now. Since I'm walking once a week, I'd really only have to add two other days and I actually went for a short walk one morning by myself the other day to try to get rid of a headache. Also, there was an incident with the bike I was using and Peyton's working on fixing up another old one for me, but it's going to be awhile. (Health)

5. Use my sewing machine and make a curtain for the play kitchen in the children's room. I did this! We haven't gotten them hung up yet, but I finished the project and I had SO much fun doing it. (Education/Edification)

6. VERY carefully finish out the children's Fall wardrobes. I did this and I was feeling really good about it until I realized that I inadvertently sent two (thankfully pretty inexpensive things) to Brooklyn that I ordered off eBay. (Finances)

7. Finally finish purging in the sunroom, laundry room, and kitchen (Simplicity). We've done most of the sunroom and laundry room (there's still a bit left to do in both) but not the kitchen cabinets. Ugh.

8. Write post on gratitude/thankfulness. I did this and it felt so good.

9. Finish hanging stuff and decorating in the kids' room, our room, the bathrooms, and the laundry room. Once the play kitchen curtain is hung, this will be done! (Additional Goal)

10. Show up, engaged and not frazzled, at various appointments. I was very happy with how all my appointments and subbing jobs went this month. (Additional Goal)

11. Catch up on the blog. Well, I'm closer than I've been. I wrote several posts I've been meaning to for awhile, I'm only a couple of weeks behind on my Weekly Happenings and Weekly Smorgasbord posts and I do have the kids' letters to write. When I put it that way, it still sounds like a lot. I am proud of myself for keeping up with my normal end of the month/first of the month stuff and starting the 31 Day Challenge. Oh well, my 31 Days topic is easy and low (time) commitment, mostly. (Additional Goal). 

12. Get take out and have a "stay in" date night on the couch with one of our favorite shows. We didn't do this. I actually ate out with several friends, though, so it made sense not to. But then, randomly we decided to get pizza last night, just for us. (Fun Goal)

And now, October's goals:
1. Make use of the three books on my nightstand, daily if possible:
    - Reflections for Ragamuffins: Daily Devotions by Brennan Manning 
    - The Mockingbird Devotional: Good News for Today (and Every Day)- Ethan Richardson, Sean              Norris
    - The Book of Common Prayer

2. Pray for Peyton and the children daily- with boldness, authenticity, and faith. As with the above, I think finding a more consistent time will help with this. (Family)

3. Write a few handwritten notes. One thing Peyton did for my suprise party was have people send letters to me to my parents' house. It was so, so special. And it reminded me that a goal for this year is to write them. (Relationships)

4. Establish patterns of silence and stillness in my day. This seems to go right along with the first two and I think it will be a great time to start working on it. (Health)

5. Work towards incorporating extra, additional things into our curriculum (science, preschool type activities for Graves, more read aloud time, memory work, ect.). I think we're at a good place to add more in. (Education/Edification)

6. Press pause for the month on all unnecessary spending. I'm mostly doing this already, but I have spent some money on the kids' clothes and I have a few things I want for the house (I've been using my subbing money for this kind of thing in addition to our agreed on budget). This month, I want to just pause for a bit. (Finances)

7. Begin going through the attic and purging, as I need to do my closet change-over and decorate for Fall anyway. I hope to get those last few rooms (laundry room, sunroom, and kitchen) finished as well. (Simplicity)

8. Notice Ordinary Wonder all around me. (Joy/Gr attitude)

9. Start and finish a book of poetry. I mentioned this in my What I'm Into post last week. (Additional Goal)

10. Settle myself back into the Junior League. I reinstated and so now it's time to go to meetings, pic a placement and volunteer at Mistletoe. (Additional Goal)

11. Go to the Mississippi State Fair. (Fun Goal)

12. Pick a new show to watch with Peyton. We meant to do this this Summer but we didn't get to it. I'm trying to decide if we want silly or serious. (Fun Goal)

Here's to October, a month of chilly days and smokey nights. May we lean into the autumn colors, smells, and sounds and embrace the wonder all around us, making room for satisfying smallness. 

31 Days of Ordinary Wonder: Warmth at a Cold Picnic

Today at Northside there was a picnic to celebrate the church's birthday. So many people celebrating something we're such newcomers to. 

It was chilly outside and overcast, but it was delightful. 

It felt like Fall, but honestly its worst version of itself. I think it felt ten degrees colder because the sun wasn't out. The wind blew and the kids shivered.

But they were mostly all smiles and so was I. We got to know people better and hear a little bit more of their stories. We ate delicious food. Annie played with some kids that were a little older than herself and Graves got to visit with a new baby friend, Eleanor. 

Graves fell asleep on the way home, slept all afternoon (so unlike him) and then kept talking about the "picnic party". 

I think I was as tired as he was. Relationships are work and getting to know people can be draining. But I'm reminding myself about how I feel best when relationships reside very near the top of my priority list. 

It's a good feeling when I look forward to seeing people week after week, to getting to know them better. And it feels especially good when grins and hugs are enough to brighten up a dreary day. 

It's not home yet, but there's a lot to a smile, an embrace, a story slowly beginning to be a shared one. 

Sundays are getting better. I feel tired, but also grateful. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

31 Days of Ordinary Wonder: What Little Things Can Make Up Happiness (Week 1 Quote)

On Saturdays this month, I'm going to share a relevant quote. The two I shared yesterday are really probably my very favorites on the topic and speak to it so well. But there are quite a few more that really capture what I'm talking about here.

This was my monthly quote a couple of months ago and I love it. It's from one of my favorite books, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. One of the most beautiful things about the book, though I've never articulated it this way before, it how well it captures the ordinary. And how simple happiness can be derived from the most seemingly inconsequential things.

I remind myself often that I don't need big things to make me happy and Francie, the protagonist in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, embodies this well. She's surrounded by not only poverty, but truly a lot of heartache and dysfunction, and yet she finds the beauty in a small piece of candy, a stubborn tree that emerges from the concrete, and most of all every book the library has to offer her.

What little things can contribute to our happiness!

What I'm Into: September

On the Nightstand:
A pretty good reading month, relatively.

Law and Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints)- Will McDavid, Ethan Richardson, David Zahl
Finished this treasure. Such a good concise pocketbook of truth. A few favorite passages:
The Gospel as an open hand...

...and as objective comfort

And finally this. Some days more than others, I'm fall in my face thankful that I have a handful of friends who don't correct secular movies, who come off as a little insane, and who often look to others because they are "constantly fumbling for truth, beauty, and goodness, which she (or he) knows herself to possess in *very* limited quantity".

Restless: Because You Were Made for More- Jennie Allen
We've done the first several chapters and it's been sort of a different format than most Bible studies I've done. You read a couple of big passages of Scripture (plus verses interspersed throughout) each week, there are stories and anecdotes, and then a good chunk of your study time is spent really probing into your life- you past, you dreams, you pain, ect. It's been unique and interesting.

Telling God's Story: A Parent's Guide to Teaching the Bible- Peter Enns
I've read about a third of it and I'm really enjoying it. I'm sure I'll have more to share next month. 

As always:
Reflections for Ragamuffins: Daily Devotions by Brennan Manning 
The Mockingbird Devotional: Good News for Today (and Every Day)- Ethan Richardson, Sean Norris

On Their Nightstand: 

Children's Guide to Endangered Animals by Roger Few -it's not the bird book, but she loves the part where it tells what the threats to each species are. 

And this big haul of animal books from the library. My favorite, I think, has been Wild Tracks: A Guide to Nature's Footprints by Jim Arnosky. It's a pretty detailed book about animal tracks and the kids and I both enjoyed reading it over several nights. One unique thing about the book is that it has fold out pages and the tracks are shown in their actual size. 

On the Shelf:
Tender Hooks- Beth Ann Fennelly
I grabbed this off the shelf to start. It's a short book and it's poetry. I've been meaning to read it for years. I thought now would be a good time for several reasons. I'm focusing on Ordinary Wonder this month and this book stuck out to me as something related to that.

At the Theater (or from the couch):
We didn't watch a single movie this month- or I didn't.

On the Small Screen:
We finished the final season and Peyton and I were both SO unimpressed. It sort of made me sad because it really did become one of my favorite shows. It just ended up feeling stale. I Googled a bit because I was curious if others felt the same way and found this article. I think it's over analyzing a bit, but most of it rang true. Overall, it just lost its edge.

Law and Order: SVU
Always a fave. We watched a handful of episodes this month and one really fun thing is than we spotted an actor friend from our old church in NYC in one of them. How cool is that?

In My Ears:
Not a whole lot, actually. I meant to make a playlist this month, but it didn't happen. I have been listening to (and loving) the Sorta Awesome Podcast.

Around the House:
We finally finished AP's side of their room. I think it reflects her well, too- little whimsical prints with quotes that make me feel extra introspective and inspired, lots of storage space for dress up clothes and stuffed animals, magnetic strips for her art, and a non overt animal motif.

And the master bedroom transformation is almost done! Peyton still needs to fix a dresser that busted in the move, we need to hang a curtain I made for the play kitchen (which Annie has transformed into another home for toy animals/dinosaurs, just like her nightstand), and we have one more thing to hang in their bathroom. I'm really happy with it and they do so well with their shared space.

Quote quilt in the laundry room finished and hung. About two and a half years of monthly quotes. I love the idea of a commonplace book for quotes, but I think I like the idea of a commonplace wall even better.

Each season, their stashes get smaller and smaller. I changed over their closet for Fall and I did both of their sides and all their shoes. It only took about an hour and they were in there playing/bugging me. I remember the days when it took ALOT longer (Peyton, sweetly, asked last night if I didn't want to wait for a day he was home and could keep them out of the way). Sometimes I do miss those days, but it's less and less often and the reality is that this is MORE than enough.

In the Kitchen:

I shared this in a recent post and on IG but, the key to a good bowl of tuna salad is about 3/4 of a whole kosher dill pickle. The key to a good kosher dill is that it needs to be one of the Claussen ones from the refrigerated section. I've been obsessed with these pickles since I discovered them which was probably circa 1996. I recently started making myself turkey sandwiches with good bread, cheese, Duke's mayo, and these pickles sliced really thin after Peyton made an excellent one for me. Well, then I remembered having tuna salad at a friend's house and how she had dill pickles in it. I usually don't like pickles in my tuna salad (actually, I usually just like tuna, mayo, and a little salt) but I think that's because people typically use sweet pickles and I HATE sweet pickles about as much as I love dill pickles. Well, I tried dicing up the Claussens and y'all-- whole new level of tuna.

In My Closet:

Now that these children basically have two stay at home parents during the week, I had an interview today for something very part time. Peyton had to help me dig through my closet to find ONE thing "professional" enough. This was as close as we got. Right after we got married, I was interviewing for teaching jobs and I wore a bright coral dress and he's never let me forget it. (The dress was tailored, conservative, and classic...but it was the color of a flamingo.) Also, Peyton finally hung my mirror. Behind the door because I'm out of space and Voluntary Simplicity means prioritizing what can be seen (and not on the door because then there's not enough space to actually see yourself).

Teaching something besides first grade and wearing something besides gym shorts. Also, clear retainer in my nose because: professional.

In Their Closets:
These were Bud's first little pair of gingham shorts. He wore them a bit towards the end of the Summer he was two (rolled once at the waist)- he had one other pair and otherwise wore jon jons. He wore them again last Summer when his closet was about half and half. And they were a staple again this Summer, in a closet mostly full of separates. Shockingly, they don't look crazy short and we may get another Summer in them. But we may not. So, when I found them during the changeover, I insisted he wear them one last time. The weirdest things make me sentimental. (Also: I love that they look cute with Saltwaters, Crocs, "mountain climbing shoes" (knock of Keens), Converse, New Balances, and now these three sizes too big light up Star Wars shoes we discovered in the attic).

In My Mailbox:

$.01 used books for the the win! Annie has been devouring Sea Creatures and Graves is loving Insects and Spiders. We hid Birds for a surprise present for later. Annie acted really silly when we told her they didn't have to be returned to the library and were theirs to keep. I love how grateful they are for little things.

In My Cart:

I found this fabric for the curtain for the play kitchen. I was so excited and my tiny crazy bird lady could not be happier. 

Around the Town (and At Home):
Peyton and I have been making a habit of going to Fondren First Thursday each month and it's been a lot of fun. Annie told me "y'all go on too many dates". Girlfriend, this ain't Brookyn, you have grandparents who adore you, and to be honest, I know very few six year olds who get as many hours a day with both their parents as you do. Plus, we are able to love you (and each other!) better when we get a few hours away from you once in awhile.

I've mentioned this quite a few times, but Peyton threw an amazing surprise birthday for me (four months late)

We went camping at my parents' one night and it was so beautiful and so much fun- perfect time of year for it!

We had a meeting with the attendance officer and now Annie is first grade official! 

Graves had his first blastball practice (he maybe mostly wandered aimlessly and laid in the grass and ate a little bit of it)...

...and this one started soccer and is possibly a little too focused.

And our whole family had fun campaigning with our buddy Haydn, who is running for Chancery Court Judge, in Laurelwood last week. We even brought Green Snap (the mantis) along in the wagon.

On the Blog:
Sabbath Grace- I view a lot of things differently after our time in Brooklyn and one of those is Sundays. BUT, I still struggle.
Coach- A recent conversation with my dad got me thinking about how he parented and how I want to parent.
Ordinary Graces: Summer is For- A lot of tiny things really meant the world to me this Summer so I wrote about them.

On My Heart:
- For some reason, I get super stressed out this time of year. I think I remember a friend noticing last year and saying "um, this happens every year". I'm not sure why it is exactly. We don't do anything super big for the holidays and not that much in our daily lives change. Maybe it's just a sense of unease as my spirit prepares for Winter (which is decidedly not my favorite season, but should be much more manageable this year than the last two that were spent in the Northeast).
- I'm really excited about writing for 31 days again this month, but also (per usual) a little stressed about the commitment. Really more so than usual, though, because I'm not caught up on my blog like I wanted to be. Fortunately, I think I chose something very manageable.

In My Prayers:
- I'm praying for a couple of friends and family members who are making decisions for their families right now.
- I get closer and closer to a decision regarding church, but I'm trying to remain prayerful over it because I'm not one hundred percent there.
- I'm praying that we continue to flourish here as a family. Peyton and I both have really hard moments of missing New York from time to time and I'm not sure that will ever go away. There is so much I miss, but I know this is where we're supposed to bloom right now.
On the Calendar: 

We're planning some camping, I'm hoping to make a huge dent in cleaning out the attic, and we're going to enjoy a bit more chilly weather! 

What I'm Into