Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What I'm Into: July

On the Nightstand:
I'm still working through several of last month's books and I've added one new one. This is slow going but this week I really decided to commit and I've read twenty or so pages outside each evening while the kids played. It's hard to find the time, but reading is so important to me and I'm so trying to make it happen. 

Reflections for Ragamuffins: Daily Devotions by Brennan Manning 
This is such a wonderful devotion. Rarely a day goes by that I don't underline something from the day's reading. 

This book is great because it's super fast reading. I can't really finish it up, though, because I'm reading it with a group and we do a chapter a week. The discussion take WAY longer than the reading :) Anyway, I usually read it during naptime the day of our meeting. It's quick and it's perfect because everything is so fresh.

This took me awhile to get into. It's very anecdotal and sometimes that's interesting but sometimes it gets repetitive. I'm glad I'm reading it but I'm still not sure I'd necessarily recommend it. That said, it does have some really excellent points alongside the powerful (though sometimes redundant) testimonies, like how Sunday morning is still the most segregated time in America and how if this is what grows the church then the growing is grieving God. 

I've loved this so much. It's just some really good insights into the way children's minds and hearts work and I think Fred really knew what he was talking about and has some valuable things to share. 

Annie and I finished Hitty, her long read aloud and it was so enjoyable. It's told from the perspective of a little doll who gets handed off in various ways to different owners and as you go through it you learn quite a bit about different cultures and time periods in the United States (mostly- she has a few travels elsewhere). This kind of thing is right up my alley and AP enjoyed it a good bit. 

This was another recent library find that I thought was just magical:

On the Shelf:
I went on an Amazon spree (the best thing you can do if you're going to go on a shopping spree in my opinion) and got a big cart full of books. These two came per the recommendation of my two best readerly/writerly friends. 

At the Theater (or from the couch):
Y'all. Y'ALL. I went to the movies. I actually wen to the movies. Peyton found out about this one day showing and he was home and sick(ish) but recovery and told me to please go and he'd get the kids to bed. What a guy!
I've literally never gone the movies alone in my LIFE but for this? Of course. 

 So I ate popcorn for dinner and watched strangers share their stories about my favorite storyteller. The older I get the more I care about stories- the ones that belong to other people and the ones that belong to the four of us. One question the filmmaker kept asking was "What does Springsteen do for you?". There are so many answers for me, but the most important may be that he inspires me to write (and live) a better story. It was a really good night. 

On the Small Screen:
I've kind of taken a sabbatical from The West Wing. I've just been doing other things. I hope to pick it back up next month, though. 

In My Ears:
I shared a playlist pretty much comprised of my favorites from my monthly playlists over the past almost year the other day. It's really, really good. 
Around the House:
We've made a few changes pretty much for the express purpose of keeping our wild man safe and his momma reasonably unstressed. 

First of all he was climbing out of his bed like the little monkey he is, so we had to make some quick accommodations. Peyton figured out how to set up his crib so it functions as a toddler bed of sorts until we can get the real thing. So this is his makeshift set up until October (and a trip to Ikea):
Honestly, I'm in love with it- Peyton says it looks like a tiny day bed. I've always been a little obsessed with this quilt. The kids have been laying on it in the floor for years, but I decided months ago I'd use it to right before we transitioned him out of his crib- to make him feel more like a big boy. It's a soft gray blue (but not baby blue) with little white geese and sort of terra cotta colored piping. It's just so soft and cool and sweet. One of Minnie's wonderful friends made it years ago and it's super special because it's one of the few things of mine and Cookie's that he's been able to use, being a boy. I think it's the perfect transition between his bunny baby bedding and his ABC big boy bedding.

Also, I took the coffee table out of the living room after he FLIPPED THE EVER LOVIN' THING OVER. At first I thought the room looked a little bare, but after just a few days I had decided I *love* the extra space to play/walk/live in. 

In the Kitchen:
We've done a few fun salads for Summer Salad Challenge. We made this Caesar one that wasn't terrible, but wasn't unbelievable either:

But we also made this one. It's a lemon thyme grilled chicken salad with some awesome Feta dressing. It's very simple and just delicious.

I made my dad's homemade spaghetti sauce and it was wonderfully tasty. 

One of my favorite things about Mick is that, in his sixties, he decided to take up cooking. And he cooks/creates recipes like the engineer he is- adding and altering things by minuscule amounts. He's been tinkering with his chocolate chip cookies for about four years. I can't wait until the day he bakes with Annie and Bud and I get to tell them this man helped design Apollo spacecraft with equal precision.

This was so out of my comfort zone cooking wise, but last week we made these shrimp tacos (we substituted Tilapia) and they were great if you like things pretty zesty (lots of fresh lime). The fresh peaches were my lazy excuse for a side, but they ended up being the perfect compliment. 

In My Closet:
I normally hate strapless stuff (I just find it irritating), but I found this dress at Target last Summer and it was too cute to pass up:
Also I'm showing you my shoes at awkward angles because while I consider myself so not vain and put make-up less pictures on the Internet I just can't show toe pictures. They weird me out in general and it's compounded by my being pretty insecure about my own. 

This is another favorite. I busted it out for the Fourth:

And this is my go-to outfit for the CPC and movie theater and other places I know will be frigid. It's great because it's like a nice soft blanket, but it's lightweight enough I don't fry on the way there.

In Their Closets:
Probably two of my favorite smocked things this Summer:

I'm bought this onsie on a whim at Target because I loved the colors and the crab. I got so sad because I realized he's pretty much at the very tail end of onsie age (and I've never even liked onsies!):

And sweet girl is at the tail end of bubble age for sure. She's really much happier in a dress (because they look like princesses, not because she's more comfortable in them) but we got some Jasmine and Aladdin Little People and to my surprise she decided to wear shorts/bubbles by her own initiave because Jasmine wears pants!

Last one, but how can you not love wearing your sock monkey/moo cow house shoes?:

In My Mailbox:
Well, I told y'all about my Amazon spree already. Here's what arrived in my mailbox for me:

And for the kids (per another friend's rec):

In My Cart:
I just about have everything bought for the kids' NYC room. I explained to AP a few weeks ago that when we move we won't be able to take just a ton of toys. I asked her if, instead of toys, for Christmas she'd like some "decorations" for her new room. Her eyes lit up and she was so excited. I don't want to give too much away, but here's a sneak peak:

On My Heart:
I've been thinking a lot lately about where specifically (neighborhood/borough) we'll wind up in after we move. Peyton and I are taking a trip, just us, to check things out and I really hope it's not as overwhelming as it could potentially be. 

In My Prayers:
- I'm really, really praying over the aforementioned trip. That it will be nice and relaxing and a wonderful time for us (we've never left Graves together for more than a few hours), but more than that the the Holy Spirit will give us clarity in where our family would best call home come January. 
- I'm praying for Annie's little school as the the school year draws near. That He will guide her teachers and guide us in educating her. 
- I'm praying for a good friend who is struggling with a lot right now, that her burden will be lightened and she will be encouraged. 

On the Calendar: 
Whew! These first few weeks of August are INTENSE. We have the big (week long!) trip coming up as well as several meetings, a sewing class, and some other fun activities. I think things should slow down the second half of the month. 

What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Weekly Smorgasbord

Pretty good little link list here this week:

On Faith:
Posted: 18 Jul 2013 07:39 PM PDT
"But I'm also cupping handfuls of happiness in small things. I'm noticing the sparks light up my bones and chasing them down and marking them into my highly scheduled days. I'm letting myself actually enjoy my world and the people in it."

I certainly don't have the history that Emily has, but it took me a long time to get to where I could not feel guilt over finding extreme happiness in things that weren't "spiritual" at all.

On Love:
Posted: 25 Jul 2013 08:29 PM PDT
"I wanted to put somewhere public something of a promise to those who wonder if it can all be, truly, wonderful. I wanted to tell them that it can. You simply have to realise the wonderful comes not in the loudness of a story but in the quietness of it, in the way that you thought you knew so perfectly and so truly exactly what it felt like to be seen, to be kissed, to be loved, until one morning in the midst of the ordinary a woman looks at you from across the room and you realise what poetry must be, what it is to feel the vault of the earth in tilt, what it is to fall in love over and over again until you believe that you could still time if you only hold your breath just long enough."
Posted: 25 Jul 2013 08:28 PM PDT
"That youth-ministry position wasn't home, and we both knew it. Your masters degree in fine arts wasn't home either, and we both knew it. And though early passions have given way to the adult practicalities of life–boy raising and career building–I think we're closer to figuring out what "home" means to us"

On Parenting:
Posted: 25 Jul 2013 08:55 PM PDT
"And while I don't ever want my daughter to feel the pain of real trouble, I wonder just how I can raise a human in this blessed environment, where she is completely inoculated against such petulant, whiny diseases. Pain, of course, is relative. And having financial security doesn't protect against real problems. But how do I teach my children that petty problems aren't worth their time? That failure makes you stronger and that social media-induced ennui means you should probably shut the computer and read a book -- a real book."

Posted: 29 Jul 2013 09:29 PM PDT
"I heard myself. I remembered the embarrassed apology at Target.  Such words did not belong to the philosophy I preached. Somewhere I had bought into the idea that little girls were better when cute, that coordinated outfits and bows and socks were important. Maybe it's because no one compliments your girl when she wears fleece penguin pants, but a coordinated Gap outfit equals three compliments from strangers. When had I bought into this fashion driven culture? Why was I working against my own desires to teach my girl that the world looks at outside appearances but God look at the heart?"
Posted: 29 Jul 2013 09:26 PM PDT
"Do you know anyone who has never been broken? That's what I thought. The guarantee of brokenness increases with each year of life. Our jobs is to teach them to wade through the shard, bandage the wounds, and keep walking."

Love this.
Posted: 29 Jul 2013 08:59 PM PDT
"But there was also the smell of the top of their baby heads. And the pudgy, little kissable feet, that are now big and stinky. Their bodies that used to be part of me, are now entirely their own. They're not little anymore. That part of my life is over. And I find myself here, with three medium sized kids, in the sweet spot. I'm equal parts grateful and terrified."

On Truth:
Posted: 24 Jul 2013 11:40 PM PDT
"This, to me, speaks to our incredible ability to fill in "truth gaps" with what feels like facts, but simply aren't. The truth is we know very little about what happened, while we feel like we do. The brain, whether we like it or not, categorizes facts into a narrative and once that narrative is subscribed to, which happens very quickly, rejects any facts that don't support the story we've chosen to believe."

On Human Trafficking:
Posted: 29 Jul 2013 09:55 PM PDT
"Now. Everything in me wanted to jump up and scream, "THIS IS TOTALLY A VICTIM OF TRAFFICKING!!! QUICK! LET'S GRAB HER!!!" - But I kept up appearances, as instructed to "just party". Because that's what the beginning of rescue looks like -- it looks like average, every day dudes going to strip clubs and gay bars and brothels looking for a good time, when, in actuality, they're super badass mofo's looking for underage sex workers and victims of trafficking."

On Creating:
Posted: 24 Jul 2013 11:26 PM PDT
"I want to spend my time making things, telling stories, giving everything I have, not sitting back and pointing out what someone else should have done. It's lazy, and it's cheap, and it's cowardly. So I'm circling the wagons, listening to the voices that matter most, and getting back to work."

This was so, so good.

On the Online Version of Self:
Posted: 18 Jul 2013 07:43 PM PDT
"While Lucy was looking for a proper place to tend to her business, I set to wondering whether my avatar-self (the online version of me, see) and my analog-self (the chocolate eating me) would get along rather well, or whether they'd claim friendship only in passing conversation, small talk, or over evening cocktails. I wondered whether the Twitter me would name-drop the real me, whether he'd quote me and with how much frequency. I reckoned my analog-self might find my avatar-self a bit pompous at times, or perhaps myopic. On the flip-side, my avatar-self might rightly question whether my analog-self was on the narrow road, or whether he'd be fit enough to squeeze through a very narrow gate."

I think about this a lot and have read about the dilemma before. But never written so beautifully.

On Moving:
Posted: 24 Jul 2013 10:54 PM PDT
"I am angry that I am stuffing in another scarf and not one more hurried-but-sweet friend-lunch between classes, or folding another damn V-neck T-shirt and not a thousand heart-talks passed over our cups as the sprinkles melt into the ice cream. I'm packing books I should have read this summer, and dates I should have made with people I love along with them. The books I can read later. The rest I am unsure of. Do I make long-distance promises to people I forgot to call when they were down the street? The question itself breaks my heart."

This resonates.

On Summer Camp:
Posted: 24 Jul 2013 01:42 PM PDT
This is a bit (okay, alot) crude, but I loved it for some reason. I guess it just made me nostalgic for my "Summers away" at camp.

On Finding Beauty and Inspiration:
Posted: 29 Jul 2013 09:05 PM PDT


Weekly Happenings Post #226 (July 22-28)-- Still a Little Sickly

I really thought we were over the sickness or at least on the tail end of it last Sunday. But we weren't. Peyton got the bug on Sunday evening and Annie got sick midweek. We had a lot of fun things planned and I was sort of disappointed. We missed a Sunday school part on Sunday and I cancelled my mom's group for Wednesday. There was another family cook out on Thursday for my ladies circle at church and we of course missed that. And then I ended up canceling our lunch with Carrie on Friday just to be safe. 

The silver lining is that we had a pretty relaxing week and we got to sort of operate on our own schedules which is nice when you're sick (or caring for sick little people). The other bonus is that I knocked out, or made progress on, some things I probably wouldn't have if we had been all over town. And we did have a nice fun weekend!

Peyton stayed home on Monday. He was functional but still contagious. I got up with the kids and had a pretty relaxing morning. I took a bath, ate breakfast, and tried to sort out some library fines. I sent a couple of emails, straightened the house and worked on lesson plans. And I played with the kids some, too. I started laundry and got the kids eating lunch and then ran to Target. Peyton had them resting, so I ate my lunch and got on the computer. I took a short nap myself and then helped the kids clean up their room.

Peyton had found this random one day only special event at the movie theater that was a documentary about Bruce Springsteen. I got ready and left to go see the movie by myself. Ha! I actually had a really good time. When I got home, Peyton had everyone in bed. We visited and I got on the computer and then went to bed. 

Peyton went in SUPER early on Tuesday (like left our house before four AM).I got up with the kids around eight and we lazed around a bit and then I had a bath and we ate breakfast. I started laundry and dishes and worked with Annie some on tracing and memory work. 

I cleaned the kids' play kitchen and the microwave and vacuumed in the den and bedrooms. I folded towels and then we cleaned up and had lunch. The kids rested and I got on the computer until Peyton got home. We talked and the kids got up. I helped them straighten up their room and then we headed to my parent's house just for fun. We had a good visit and I bathed them there. When we got home, they were both asleep. I talked to Peyton and wrote a post and laminated some things for AP. We went to bed sort of latish and then Annie woke up at like four in the morning COVERED in throw up. I did get Peyton to help me get her in the tub, but then I sent him back to bed. I really didn't want him to re-expose himself (he gets stomach bugs so easily and so, um, violently) and plus I knew he was exhausted. I ended up staying up a good while starting laundry and cleaning the floor and tub after I got Annie settled back in. I knew I'd be glad for it to all be done in the morning and plus I didn't want the germs around. But I probably went a bit overboard and could have saved some of it. Anyway, it worked out well because Peyton got up with the kids. And AP was fine after that little episode!

After sleeping a little late on Wednesday, I took my bath and visited with Peyton and had breakfast. Peyton was off and we all just had a lazy morning. 
The rule is you have to be in your bed (or better yet, snuggling in Momma's arms) to have your "baa". Lazy mornings mean a few trips back to bed/him laying  on the couch beside me so he can take a hit.

Peyton had a meeting at the church, so he left for that and I got busy. Annie worked on tracing and memory work and then I did my morning chores- laundry and dishes. We picked up and had lunch and then it was naptime. I read AP's Five in a Row book and I had lunch and got on the computer. I took a nap myself and Peyton got home. 
Magically, he woke up and played for a bit without getting in her face and bothering her.

I cooked super (we had these tacos, but I substituted fish for shrimp) and we ate and then got the kids to bed. I cleaned up the kitchen and visited with Peyton while I laminated some things and then we chatted. I got on the computer and cut out fabric for a sewing project. 

I had a TERRIBLY bad headache when I woke up on Thursday. Peyton was off but had an early morning meeting. The kids got up around eight and I spent about half an hour on the couch. I took some medicine and it kicked in and so I folded several loads of laundry. I took a bath and had breakfast and the kids ate a snack and then we picked up toys and did some school stuff (tracing and memory work) and I fixed their lunch. 
I'm not sure the underewear atop your clothes has the same powerful superhero effect when you're wearing a bumble bee jon jon under them. Shhh!!!

I did dishes while they ate and Peyton got home and did Annie's book with her. I ate lunch and spent most of naptime looking at NYC apartments.

When the kids got up, we went for a walk to the pond in our neighborhood. We fed the ducks and came home for supper, baths and bedtime (for the kiddos!). I got on the computer and sewed some and Peyton watched a movie. 

A little Timehop gem:

Story of my life. I adore my husband but he has the kind of personality that can drive a person up the wall. I have a feeling living in a six hundred square foot space with him will be...sanctifying.

I got up with the kids at seven on Friday (Graves woke up at six and Peyton had been up with him). Peyton went back to bed and I fed them breakfast, dressed them and started laundry. Peyton got back up about half an hour later and I went back to bed. We were ridiculous this week! Anyway, he took the kids to the park/splash pad and I slept until about nine. When he got home, he mowed the yard and I took a bath. I ran some errands when he came in (CSpire- my phone is acting crazy, Hobby Lobby for some canvases and Target). I got home and we worked on lunch together- grilled chicken Ceasar salad. Peyton grilled and I made the dressing. We ate and he left for work. I cleaned out our small vacuum and then we did our school stuff.
One thing we discussed at our curriculum meeting recently is that one of AP's weak areas is fine motor skills. We're not worried about it, but we're trying to be more diligent with tracing, cutting, ect. The other day Graves picked up the marker and gripped it like this and starting trying to do the sheet (the line on the left is Annie's). I've NEVER shown him how. She, on the other hand, makes me demonstrate the grip every time before even attempting (we're also working on confidence with her). Hopefully he'll always want to imitate her. It'll make homeschooling a lot easier, that's for sure! It's so much fun seeing their different strengths and weaknesses and trying to help them capitalize on/overcome them.

One area she's NOT lacking in is the imagination part of the brain- this is a worm in a raincoat and he was birthed into being right along with a fabulous story in which he's the central character. I'll take a storyteller over a penmanship prodigy any day, but that's my own passions showing through.

 I read to the kids and put Graves down and then I vacuumed and mopped the kitchen and cleaned his high chair. I started laundry and Annie and I read her book. I got her settled and got on the computer and then started working on my sewing project. The kids woke up but they played so well. They ended up having stayed in their room for over three hours! I finished and we cleaned up and headed to my parents' super late. We ate and visited and came home for bed. I got on the computer and visited with Peyton when he got home. 

Saturday was a fun day. Graves got up at six, but I changed his diaper and sent him back to bed. He got up for the day around seven and Peyton got ready for work. We relaxed and watched cartoons and I texted my friend from church who we were supposed to go to the park with because it was rainy. We decided to just have a little play date at her house. I got ready and got the kids ready and we headed over. We had a really nice time and when we got home the kids took super long naps. I got on the computer for a bit and then took a long nap myself. They got up and I got us all ready to go over to Patrick and Haley's house. 
I kind of hate we haven't worn this more this Summer. It's one of my favorites and I'm pretty sure at five I'll have to throw in the towel on bubbles. Hard to watch my sweet goofy grinned girl grow up.

Peyton got home and we left. I'm glad both the kids took such great naps (a real rarity for AP) because we stayed SO late at the Harkins'. Some other friends and their new baby were there and we had the best time!

We got home and put the kids to bed and it was close to midnight. I went to bed pretty soon after that with a terrible headache. I took some Sudafed and ended up having a pretty restless night. 

Peyton went to early church, but the kids and I went to Sunday school and the late service on Sunday. I took attendance during Sunday school and so I missed our class. When we got home, the kids played and I cleaned up the disaster kitchen. I unloaded and loaded dishes, scrubbed counters, took out the compost, and tidied a bit. 
His eyes were the same grey blue as his outfit for church.

I've never asked AP to put up her clothes (toys yes, clothes no) but she volunteered to put up a huge pile of shoes. She stacked them so neatly! Not sure if it's genetic or if I've trained her to be sort of compulsive. Either way, proud.

I fixed the kids lunch and then put them down for naps. I worked on a post and took another nap. The weather and a weird schedule had totally thrown me for a loop! I got up and folded a bunch of laundry when the kids got up. Peyton got home and we all just had a relaxed night. He helped me feed and bath the kids and we all cleaned up and then it was bedtime for them. We ate supper and chatted and then I got on the computer for a bit. 

This week we have some fun plans with friends on Tuesday and Thursday, my mom's group on Wednesday, a meeting on Friday, something Saturday evening. Plus Cookie will be here for the weekend! I'm excited about all of it!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Tunes for the Month: July

Well, this is different. If you remember, there was no playlist last month because Peyton's computer crashed and that's where all our music is. I think we can get it back by replacing the hard drive, which is happening soon, but I'm slightly terrified.

Anyway, since I haven't found a way to create a playlist (yes, I know there's Spotify- Peyton peddles that like it's the greatest thing since sliced bread), I don't have a real playlist this month yet again.

I decided instead to share what I've largely been listening to. Pretty much I've just been enjoying all the past months' playlists and these are my favorites from each:

The Rising- Bruce Springsteen
This would be a hard choice because it was my first playlist and in some ways the very best. There are a lot of good songs on there. But, this is one of probably my top three favorite songs ever, so...

Some Nights- Fun.
I cannot get enough of this song. CANNOT. It's a favorite of a handful new songs in the past few years.

King's Highway- Tom Petty/The Galaway Girl- Steve Earl
This was just too hard to choose. King's Highway is one that I think will always flash me back to a few Fall mornings I had at home by myself with Graves while AP was at school and Peyton was elsewhere. It's a beautiful song and those were beautiful moments. And, I'm not gonna lie, I danced with him a little bit. Galaway Girl is more of just a feel good song. But damn if it doesn't make you feel good!

Go Tell It on the Mountain- James Taylor
I've been listening to the playlist pretty much all the way through, but I took exception with December. I just can't listen to Christmas music in July. Can't do it. But this one is the exception to the exception. It feels Christmasy at Christmas and throughout the rest of the year, it just sounds like a good hymn. The mark of a good one, yes?

Ho Hey- The Lumineers/Jesus Was an Only Son- Bruce Springsteen
I couldn't decide. I fell in love with Ho Hey at El's wedding and it will be the soundtrack to that memory for life. Aside from that, though, I just love it. Right up there with Some Nights as far as a newly acquired FAVORITE. Jesus Was an Only Son is special and honestly it has a place on this list no other song has because it was pivotal in changing my thinking about some things. For one thing, I just think the song is incredibly beautiful and poignant and truth speaking. But also, I listened to Bruce talk about it on a video and I loved his words.  In it, he says  "The choices we make are given meaning by the things that we give up. By the things we sacrifice for them. That's what gives them weight and meaning." I cried so hard when I heard him say that. The closer we get to New York, the more I feel the significance of this. And I know (I hope!) there will be many other sacrifices in my life to make choices that are right for my family and that are in line with what the Lord is asking of us. Realizing that the significance of my choices are in direct correlation with the sacrifices I make for them has been, in a word, transfomative for me. I will never forget the strong words that one of my heros spoke over me through a screen one night and I will always pray for a life of significance, made so by choices that require much giving up. 

Thunder Road- Bruce Springsteen/You Are the Best Thing- Ray LaMontagne
These are our loves songs and I couldn't decide between them. Thunder Road, if you don't know by now, is the song Peyton and I realized we were falling in love to. It's no small joy to me that a Springsteen song was playing in the background and it's no small joy that I fell in love with one of the few people I know who share, on some level, my incredible love for his music. Thunder Road is just storytelling at its best and I thank the Lord it's part of our story now. You Are the Best Thing is one that I'm plain obsessed with and Peyton humors me and puts it on when he wants to set a mood. And it works like few things do.

Be Thou My Vision- Van Morrison
My favorite hymn, alongside a couple of others. It was played at our wedding and the funeral of a best loved grandmother and it's a very real prayer put to music. It's lyrically the most worshipful song I've ever sung.

Forever Young- Rod Stewart (I love the Dylan version, too)
This is probably not my favorite song on my April list. But it's the most nostalgic. It was just a few months ago, but during this season of our lives with tiny children, things change fast. Anyway this song flashes me back to Ann Peyton and Graves's fourth and second birthdays, respectively. I love the words so much. It's one of those I find the sacred in the secular in because to me it actually feels quite a bit like a prayer, too- that my precious boy and girl will grow up to be righteous, always know the truth, and build stairways alongside princes and vagabonds.

On the Turning Away- Pink Floyd
Okay, third one of my top three recent faves (and I say recent- it's new to me, but it's an old song). It seemed to fit a lot of emotions and became a sort of mantra for me and Peyton. It's beautiful and inspiring and full of good and important words.

So it ended up being twelve songs. My top twelve songs over nine months. If you get a fraction of the enjoyment I do from this, it will be a lovely evening for you.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Broken

There are four little pieces of pink china on my desk right by the computer. They used to form the handle of a teapot that is part of the "breakable tea set" Ann Peyton's great grandmother gave her. It's absolutely one of my favorite gifts anyone has ever given one of my children. It's pink and green and it's pretty and sweet and fancy but not overly ornate. And it's fragile.

So much like its precious tiny owner. She's not fancy. She has a simple beauty- her deep brown eyes, her long straight hair, her soft smile and her sweet voice.

And she's fragile.

Like I am.

So many times, too many times, I've bruised and broken her with my careless words. Or more often, my angry tone. I watch her crumble under the smallest rebuke and I see so much of myself as a little person. Or myself today, really.

I'm as sensitive as they come, but I'm not one to let my four year old's words dictate my feelings. I know she's little and when she says things in anger, she doesn't mean them. But the other day I was the bruised and broken one. She told me, as she does from time to time, when she's particularly upset with me that I was a "mean momma". No harm, no foul. I grinned and told her that I knew that's how she felt, but I was making a decision that was best for her and it that it was a decidedly not mean thing to do. She fumed a bit more and then said "You're not a sweet momma". For some reason that hurt more. A lot more. Maybe I thought in the back of her mind she thought I was a sweet momma who was just doing something mean. I'm not sure? I still can't pinpoint it. Whatever it was, that jab at my character as a momma hurt.

I gave her a few minutes to calm down and went over and asked her "Do you really think I'm not a sweet momma?" She thought for only half a second and said "No. Just a pretend mean momma." It was an olive branch and it was accepted.

Here in the world, we bruise and break each other. So often the souls we love the most. We speak too tersely, we use adjectives we don't entirely mean, we shatter fragile spirits.

And part of me wants to just board myself up, to try not to feel. Like the tea set I really wanted to save...indefinitely. But that tea set has brought Annie untold hours of joy. And aren't relationships just the same? Just like how some of the most wonderful things reaped in life are sewn in tears, we have to open ourselves up to being bruised and broken to really be able to live joy and live love.

So we bruise each other. Sometimes we even break each other. And then...we piece each other back together and we're all the more beautiful for the tiny glue painted cracks that mean we are real.

Five Minute Friday

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Weekly Smorgasbord

Not a very big list again this week. Not sure what's up with that except that I've busy with other stuff and haven't read as much online. Anyway, here are the links:

On Not Agreeing But Loving:
Posted: 23 Jul 2013 02:04 PM PDT
"More distance is war, not peace! And so our goal should be less distance between us. Because the closer we get to each other, the easier is it to see our common humanity, and the harder it is to be afraid of each other. We fight when we are afraid. When we stop being afraid of each other, we will stop fighting. And so we have to conquer our own fear of each other – we don't have to conquer each other."

On Meaningful Toys:
Posted: 23 Jul 2013 01:59 PM PDT
"Samantha, Kirsten and the headstrong colonial character, Felicity, are no longer sold by American Girl. These characters represent more than just the original characters of an iconic brand—their archiving represents a lost sensibility about teaching girls to understand thorny historical controversies and build political consciousness...With a greater focus on appearance, increasingly mild character development, and innocuous political topics, a former character-building toy has become more like a stylish accessory." This makes me sadder than it should.

On Amazing Ingenuity:
Posted: 22 Jul 2013 12:48 PM PDT
Whoa. This is AMAZING.

On Loosing a Love:
Posted: 23 Jul 2013 08:56 PM PDT
"We dated and broke up, reconnected and flirted and separated. Our relationship was composed of letters, chance IMs, long-distance phone calls (paid for with actual phone cards), breaks from school when I'd go over to his house and watch movies in his basement and, depending on the status of our relationship at the moment, graze knees. It was all incredibly chaste and suggestive, the way relationships at that age in a very Christian town can be. When he died, we hadn't spoken in weeks, hadn't formally dated in years. But I was broken in two." Just beautiful storytelling.

On '90s Fun:
Posted: 23 Jul 2013 09:05 PM PDT


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How Will I Serve Them This Day?

On slow weeks, we end up spending a few evenings outside, the kids and I. Peyton works a lot of evenings these days and it's a perfect way to pass the time between naps and bedtime, the hours that seem so long. It also works out well because it's the only time of day that I'm awake for that's really bearable in the Mississippi heat (I'm just not the kind of gal who rises with the sun and I doubt I ever will be).

Anyway, we have this little routine. I've mentioned before that I love routines. Schedules freak me out. But routines? They are a friend of mine. So this is our Backyard Shoe Routine:
1. Before exiting through the laundry room door, acquire and put on your Crocs (or in AP's case, your knock-off Gymboree San Destin Outlet "crocs" that you've been wearing since the Summer after you turned two).
2. Shed your Crocs within two minutes of entering the backyard
3. On the way back in drop your Crocs off in the laundry room

After we come in, we have another little routine that involves cleaning up. If we're not taking full baths that night, I have them wash their hands and then I basically give them a little spit-bath. As you can imagine, I pay the most attention to their tiny toes.

The other night as I was gently scrubbing the grime of the pads of Annie and Graves's baby feat and removing the sandbox reminents from between their tiny toes, the spiritual metaphor of washing feet, of being a servant, dawned on me. For a minute, I got teary because I was just caught up in seeing the beautiful in the disgusting.

But after I regained my composure, I realized it was the Lord's prompting. I wrote a post awhile back about how I will serve the Lord this day. Well, one of the biggest ways I can serve Him in this season is by serving THEM. I decided to sort of make a little list of ways I want to be intentional about serving my sweet girl and sweet boy...

I serve (and love) Annie well by:

* Validating her emotions
This was huge for me growing up and it still is. When someone who means something to me gives validity to the things I'm feeling, it means everything.

* Putting my heart into educating her
I've realized recently more and more what a great opportunity this is and also what a great undertaking. It gives me such delight to watch Annie learn and I'm so thankful I get to be her primary teacher.

* Engaging her incredible imagination
This is a part of Ann Peyton that I love and adore. I feel like stories are so important and I love hearing the ones she comes up with. They give me insight into her mind and her priorities and the things she holds close that some of our "regular" conversations just don't.

* Joyfully answering her questions
This is HARD. I was the child with a million questions and now AP is. I want to do the good thing and not just dismiss her. To engage her and guide her and help her find knowledge about her little world.

* Praying for her
A new prayer for Annie is that God will help me show her the ways He is at work in our stories. Sometimes, I think it's so easy to show her the way He was at work in Scripture, but it's equally important for her to have a dynamic faith, that she seem Him working in the here and now. I want to point Him out to her in nature, and in beautiful art and literature, and in the ways He is writing our story.

I serve (and love) Graves well by:

* Praising him for small verbal, cognitive, and (this is the most difficult) behavioral accomplishments
Peyton and I recognized recently that positive feedback is HUGE for Graves. Just like validating Annie's emotions helps her become stronger and more self-confident, affirming Graves in the little strides he takes make a big difference in his day.

* Reading to him right up to the difficulty and length that his patience will allow
Whew. There is NO sense in pushing a two year old to sit and listen to more than he can handle and this is doubly true with a wonderful BUSY two year old. But at the same time, sometimes I use his personality and his attention span to justify not doing something that is one of the things I believe is most important in my children's early formation.

* Being a consistent, gentle, graceful, and patient disciplinarian
Two is a hard age and the last few weeks have been pretty difficult for me. It's hard because I'm still at a place where I don't know what does and doesn't work for Graves the way I do for Ann Peyton. But I have to find gentleness, patience, and grace while I figure it out. And I have to be consistent with whatever it is I'm doing. I owe him at least those things.

* Finding the beauty in, and cherishing, the ways he is different from me
I think I'm getting better at this, but it's no easy task. In life in general, we like people who are like us. We gravitate toward them in many ways. Yes, I know opposites attract, but in many ways we get uncomfortable once the initial attraction wears off. But like I said, this little boy is teaching me a new way. He is much responsible for the softening of my rough edges, the loosening of my tight reigns, and the rejoicing of my tired soul on days particularly hard.

* Praying for him
A new prayer for Graves is that the Lord will help me figure his little self out. I realized something very ovbious the other day when I was frustrated with him about something. I was thinking "I know him better than anyone on this Earth, I should be able to figure out how to deal with this". But then, I think God pricked my heart and whispered that there was someone, Himself of course, that knows his little heart and mind still better than I. I took me four years to really, really figure out some things about Annie. And, of course there are still moments where things are messy and ugly and I can't wrap my mind around what she needs. But, by in large, things fit in neat little boxes and when a situation occurs, I know exactly what to do. I don't think this is just because she's her and he's him. I think it's partly four years of experience and partly because the older they get (so far!) the easier it is to figure out how they tick. That said, I wrote one time that seeing her play with her little china tea set makes my heart burst with joy in a natural way, but seeing my sweet boy covered in dirt and filty makes it burst in a supernatural way. If it seems like I'm overspiritualizing it, so be it. But I really feel like that was the Holy Spirit working in me. In a similar way, I wouldn't say Annie was easy to figure out (it took me four years!) but she's a lot like me, so it was kind of natural. With Graves, when I figure him out (and I know I will), it will be because of a supernatural grace and the Spirit's work again.

I truly believe that motherhood is a hard and holy work of the absolute best kind. And part of that is being unafraid to be a servant to them. Whether that means the scrubbing the stubborn grime from between their tiny toes or unearthing the hard places in their tiny hearts. It means becoming a person who loves that hour outside when I used to dread it and it means becoming a person who praises tiny accomplishments and affirms seemingly silly emotions. It means joyfully answering questions of everyone when I'm the tiredest of them all and it means filling our days with beautiful sunsets and beautiful books even when I don't feel like getting outside or reading another word. It means, perhaps most of all, when my head hits the pillow, and I'm just too tired to form a coherent sentence, I still pray for guidance for the teaching of and the learning of the both of them.

Will you let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant too
We are pilgrims on the journey
We are brothers on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load
I will hold the Christ light for you
In the night time of your fear
I will hold my hand out to you
Speak the the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we’ve seen this journey through.
When we sing to God in heaven
We shall find such harmony
Born to all we’ve known together
Of Christ’s love and agony