Saturday, January 30, 2016

What I Learned in January


It's the end of the month, so Emily's asking what we learned. Here's what I learned in January:

1. I absolutely love the new year.
 {2016 word of the year}

I realized it this year more than I have in the past. I was just really actively looking forward to it. Perhaps because November was really crazy this year and December just always wears me out a bit. And it didn't disappoint. I've really enjoyed thinking about my goals and dreams and ideas for this year, taking stock of the hard emotions, and looking forward to what lies ahead.

2. I absolutely despise is maternity clothes (well, the pants). I feel totally frumpy and just can't even stand to look in the mirror. To be fair, while they fit well around my rapidly expanding tummy they are so baggy still on my twelve year old boy butt and I know in a month or so I'll be glad for them. Still, they aren't my favorite and I'd like to spend as much of this pregnancy as possible in dresses and leggings (and yoga pants and gym shorts).

3. Having (relatively minor in the overall scheme of things) health issues can be frustrating and exhausting but not knowing what is causing the symptoms or when they will flare up is much more of a challenge for me.
I've been dealing with a lot of headaches and some dizziness and a while back I passed out. The symptoms had started to make me a little anxious so I called my OB and I ended up in urgent care on Wednesday and today they called and said they were referring me to a neurologist, which is a little scary in one sense. In another sense, headaches have been part of my life for so long, it's probably something I need to go ahead and do. Honestly, though, the worst thing is not dealing with the symptoms it's the fact that I really can't predict at all when the dizziness will hit and having no idea what's causing it. It just feels like I'm very much not in control. Which of course I'm not. But I like to play like I am.

4. A brisket sandwich is one of my favorite things in the world.
I cooked a brisket recently when we had some friends over and honestly, as much as I love the meal, I prefer the leftovers. Since I was about Annie's age, a brisket sandwich has been one of my favorite things in the whole world. And it's one of maybe three things that I enjoy just as much when I cook it myself as when Minnie cooks it.

5. I should NEVER run with an ostrich (according to Annie).
Because humans run so much slower than ostriches and then I'd be behind the ostrich and he would most likely kick me. It would only be okay if I was in a "motor vehicle".

6. In June, we'll be adding...
While it's been a little hard on Graves and while I have LOVED being a momma to a boy, I'm really so excited about our new girl, as I've been referring to her.

There you go. It's always fun to reflect on the month and any insights it's brought.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Babykins #3: Twenty One Weeks

Pregnancy Highlights:

How far along: 21 weeks
Size of Baby: (via BabyCenter) Babykins #3 is three quarters of a pound and ten and a half inches long. She is about as long as a carrot these days! His eyebrows and eyelids have formed now!
Total Weight Gain/Loss: about twelve pounds, I think. Peyton told me that he asked a pregnant costumer how far along she was because he figured hers was similar to my due date. Um, she was thirty six weeks.
Also, I was getting in the tub and he told me I looked like someone out of National Geographic. No worries. I don't mince words when I point put that he has an eyebrow hair that's approximately three inches long or adult acne from drinking milk.
Maternity Clothes: I'm trying not to because I hate them. Tights, leggings, and comfy pants, pretty much. Oh, and I am wearing maternity tops.
Gender: It's a girl! We're so excited. Oh, and an update on Graves: I figured out that this runs deeper than just wanting a boy because he's a boy. After some discussions, I realized that girls sort of intimidate him. He's wild but he's also VERY sensitive and most of the little boys we know have less dominant personalities than the little girls we know and it's clear he's less threatened. Annie reminded him that "his baby" will be very young and he responded "well, she WILL grow up". Navigating his personality is interesting because it's very different from mine, Peyton's, and Annie's. It's also made me aware that I need to focus on how to validate his feelings while helping him not to feel like a victim or like other children (or adults!) with a different personality are being "mean" to him.
Movement: I've been feeling her more and more. They did another ultrasound at the hospital yesterday and every time I have one, they say how active she is!
Sleep: Not terrible, actually.
Cravings: I have been trying to eat more healthy things. One of my favorites right now is yogurt, apples, and walnuts.

Symptoms:  I guess the last couple of weeks were just a break from getting sick. It's not every day like it was (which is SUCH a blessing) but it's been several times this week and this afternoon was by far the most intense episode of the whole thing (of my whole life, I'm pretty sure). Also, I spent a few hours in urgent care yesterday, trying to figure our my dizzy spells. Lots of tests and all they could find was that I'm still pretty anemic- it hasn't worsened but it hasn't gotten much better. I was a little discouraged. But it was a nice three hour break =)
What I Miss: Um, not having to go to the hospital? Not puking for like a solid fifteen minutes and having it come out my nose as well? Not having much bladder control during the vomit episodes? Sorry was that TMI. These will probably get there anyway when it gets closer, so whatever. 
Best Moment This Week: there wasn't really one moment, but it's been a good week overall. I'm glad it's been so low key since I haven't been feeling my best. 
What I Am Looking Forward To: Carrie and I are going to meet Ashley for a weekend in Nashville and I'm really excited about it (and really, really hopeful I don't get too sick while there).
Comparison to Graves:

Slow Ambitions: 2016 Goals

A few notes before we begin. Instead of starting with a blank canvas, I started with my focus areas from last year. Overall, I felt like they worked really well.

However, I added a couple and tweaked some (for example, I eliminated simplicity because that's sort of in line with the theme of the whole thing and I was able to put goals that would go there in other categories), but most from last year remain. I do have ten areas now, instead of eight, and I realized that had the potential to make my monthly goals lists longer and more overwhelming (I include a goal from each area, plus one or two additional and fun goals each month). I decided that first of all, most months I will draw from all ten areas and limit myself to one fun goal and one additional goal. I feel like twelve goals is still a manageable monthly list. Also, if I feel compelled, I will occasionally allow myself to omit an area for a month or so when it makes sense.

As far as the actual, specific goals, some of those are repeats as well. Some are word for word. But there a quite a few new ones as well. One thing I did a bit differently this year, in keeping with my overall them of SLOW, is that I made most of my goals pretty open-ended. I really didn't want to tie myself to specifics (e.g.
"exercise three times a week"). As we move through the year and I get a feel for how this pregnancy is going and how welcoming a new member shakes things up, I'll probably make the goals more specific in my monthly goals lists.

I wanted to have around fifty goals, spread as evenly as possible over the ten focus areas. I came out with right around that and it's relatively well distributed, I think.

Here it all is....

Focus Areas for 2016:
1. Faith
2. Family
3. Relationships
4. Health
5. Creativity/Passion
6. Education/Edification
7. Organization
8. Travel
9. Finances
10. Joy/Gratitude

I want to be reminded often of the scandal of Grace and I want to live an authentic life that points to the Gospel.
1. Pray daily.
2. Read at least one short devotion daily
3. Find a substantive but not overwhelming Bible study to commit to
4. Begin the process of joining Northside as a member
5. look for ways to serve others

I want to love those closest to me in a fierce and selfless and practical way. 
6. prioritize my relationship with Peyton
7. set specific goals for the children
8. observe my family member's unique personalities, gifts, and weaknesses and use that knowledge to serve them
9. practice patience and flexibility

I want my lifestyle to reflect my priorities- PEOPLE above activities, obligations, and things. 
10. spent time with people in ways that are meaningful and that make sense
11. be intentional about keeping connected with our close friends
12. be intentional about cultivating new-er friendships
13. prioritize people over "accomplishing things"
14. continue to make space to communicate over email
15. prioritize our children's friendships
16. challenge myself to form and cultivate friendships that are outside my comfort zone

I want to train myself in habits that will lead to a (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually) healthier me in a way that is not burdensome and be practiced longterm.
17. take smalls steps toward more healthy food choices
18. exercise more frequently
19. after the baby comes, do some real work on altering my lifestyle to try to significantly decrease my headaches
20. establish patterns of silence and stillness in my day
21. daily practice some form of self-care
22. explore the things that "center" and relax me

I want to lean into and further discover the things that make me feel alive and understood and devote time and energy to those things.
23. search for, and surround myself with, inspiration
24. write more in a creative, imaginative way (rather than just documenting)
25. read more books
26. enjoy our camera more
27. think through my passions and outlets and how I make time for those

I want to be a woman who is always learning and I want to teach my children well.
28. think of ways to make school more fun and engaging for the children
29. read together (with Peyton and the children)
30. read twelve books on varying and diverse topics
31. watch twelve documentaries

I want to work on things that will help me gain mental space and free up energy in the long run.
32. back up everything on the computer and wipe it out
33. get back in the habit of organizing pictures when I upload them
34. continue to purge our house, though to a lesser degree
35. consistantly work to keep things (closets, drawers, cabinets) clean, organized, and minimal 
36. make time each week to plan activities for the coming week, plan school for the coming week, and plan meals for the coming week
37. care for the house (CLEAN) in a way that is sustainable and practical but also thorough and frequent
38. examine ways to better manage my time
39. be very discriminating in the activities we commit to and the purchases we make
These may seem counter-intuitive to the overall theme, but I want to live small and slow near home and I also want to challenge myself to be open to adventure elsewhere.
40. take friend trip to Nashville in February
41. take "babymoon" to NYC in April
42. plan small camping trips and other close, low cost, family focused excursions for the four (and later five!) of us

 I want to continue to work toward a more frugal lifestyle and push back against what the culture says is important.
43. spend the money I make in a careful and thoughtful way
44. make the most of opportunities that are free or low cost
45. appreciate the ways the Lord will use this sort of discipline to sanctify me

I want to focus my mind and heart often on the things I am grateful for and the things that bring me joy.
48. make thankful lists at times other than the month of November
49. find other specific ways to express thankfulness
50. learn how to be content without buying things
51.  be vulnerable in telling others how thankful I am for them
52. surround myself with words, music, and people that bring joy
53. challenge myself to hold things loosely

So there they are. I do plan on trying to update a bit better than I did last year!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Weekly Smorgasbord

Well, this should actually be a much bigger list but somethings up with FeedBurner and my Delicious links aren't being sent to the blog. Frustrating. I need to work on it and in the meantime maybe do a couple of posts where I just put the links in manually so I don't get (more) behind. But for today- a few posts on faith, reading, celebration, and more! I also decided to change up the format a bit and when I have art/photography/humor to share I'm not going to try to awkwardly squeeze it "On..." category. That makes sense for posts and articles on topics, but usually the humor and photography and such is less about a specific topic and more about the art or the humor.
On Faith:
Posted: 23 Dec 2015 02:37 PM PST
"For the desire of your heart is itself your prayer. And if the desire is constant, so is your prayer. The Apostle Paul had a purpose in saying: Pray without ceasing. Are we then ceaselessly to bend our knees, to lie prostrate, or to lift up our hands? Is this what is meant in saying: Pray without ceasing? Even if we admit that we pray in this fashion, I do not believe that we can do so all the time." Yet there is another, interior kind of prayer without ceasing, namely, the desire of the heart. Whatever else you may be doing, if you but fix your desire on God's Sabbath rest, your prayer will be ceaseless. Therefore, if you wish to pray without ceasing, do not cease to desire.
Posted: 23 Dec 2015 02:35 PM PST
"It's bright and warm and it is so, so sad. I fight back the temptation, just like always, to huddle up and pretend the problems banging on my door are not my own. I say I want a simpler way, pretending Jesus came to bring joy and forgetting that he also came to suffer life with us. We get to taste all of it, with him at our table, along with whoever else happens to stop by."
Posted: 23 Dec 2015 02:29 PM PST
"you stopped to ask about my son when you were clearly on the way to something important. You know Jesus did almost all his ministering on the way to something important? He let people interrupt him on the way, which is what you did for me.""
 On Race and Poverty:
Posted: 02 Jan 2016 03:05 PM PST
"Rain beat against the window while the windmill cranked into overdrive. It was the perfect storm of despair and desire, that moment when something crystallizes and you suddenly know a thing you had not known before. I am a white, middle-class woman who might have more proximity to the burn of poverty and racism than many like me, but I haven't gotten mad enough. I haven't stared hard enough at my contribution to this pain. I mean, I've cared. Just not quite as much as I've cared about my life goals of balance, pleasure, style, or success."

On Reading:
Posted: 03 Jan 2016 03:21 PM PST
"4. Quit it. Grown-ups shouldn't finish books they're not enjoying. You don't have to suffer through a book. Read what you love, read what you want to read, read indulgently, read aspirationally, but reading should never be torture. 5. Never leave home without a book. Keep a book in your purse, or your glove compartment, and download the free Kindle app, Fill that waiting time with reading."

On Celebrating:
Posted: 02 Jan 2016 02:21 PM PST
"What does celebration look like? It's as simple as using the good dishes on a Tuesday night. Hanging twinkle lights in a window when there isn't a holiday in sight. Hosting a kitchen dance party—for one—while I'm cooking. Wearing red lipstick to the grocery store. Making a pot of coffee at noon and sitting down to savor it in the perfect mug. photo print 24 2_zpsshz03r1r.jpg Going for a moon walk and stopping to take a picture of the shadows cast by the street light—because it makes me happy. Putting stickers on an envelope before I send it—even if it's just a utility bill. Baking a pie to give to a friend for no particular reason. Lighting candles, hosting friends, gathering my kids together and performing silly rituals in honor of a made-up holiday—Backwards Day and Wear Pink Day and Everybody Talk in an Accent Day."

On Smart Living:
Posted: 01 Jan 2016 10:54 PM PST
"Decide on one way to streamline your day-to-day life, and then invest in that, or make a conscious effort to improve. Recently, mine was washing every dish as soon as I dirty it."

This was a really awesome list.
Art and Photography Worth Sharing:

100 Comic Characters
Artist Jaakko Seppälä drew 10 of his favorite comic characters in each other's distinctive styles, e.g. Lucy van Pelt in the style of Calvin and Hobbes or Garfield in the style of Donald Duck.

Humor Worth Sharing:
Posted: 03 Jan 2016 02:40 PM PST
"Shred your calendar: November can happen any time of year. It helps if there are no flowers and the sun sets at 3:30; flowers are a challenge for November, and light can banish it. It helps if a few leaves shiver on the branches and the rest are pasted with rainwater to the ground. A needling wind, a sky like the floor of a warehouse: these help too. But in November, it doesn't matter where the actual leaves are, not really. In November, no matter what you look at, dead leaves and concrete sky are all you see. Usage: "I'm sorry I took two days off work. First it was New Year's Day, and then it was November.""
Posted: 03 Jan 2016 02:23 PM PST
"Confirming the women get together at least once a month for an all-out, anything-goes session of nonjudgmental reassurances, 28-year-old Sarah Dotson said the evening quickly turned into "a total rager," with the friends sharing excessive amounts of admiration, empathy, and encouragement for one another."

LOL for days.
Posted: 02 Jan 2016 02:51 PM PST
"The one where you jolt alert to find the golden street you walked down now behind you, the sunset down to an embarrassing smudge like an old lady's lipstick, the lovely town only visible through the window of a fast-receding train, and you have slipped like a paring knife between sense and experience, forgetting to touch it, forgetting to make it real." These are great.
Noteworthy Quotes and Stories:
"I have a counseling appointment this afternoon. Three members of my family are currently in counseling with more to come. May I send a bit of love and encouragement to everyone who steps into counseling or therapeutic space for your own soul, marriage, family, or healing? Ditto to those of you sending your hurt kids? Whether you go for preventative maintenance or because you are hanging on by a thread, I've always said that when Scripture describes "gifts of healing," I believe counselors are a part of that group. They help us heal. They give us tools. They walk us through recovery. They remind us of our hope. There is NOTHING weak about being in the care of a counselor. That is STRONG. That tells me that you are not passively waiting for your strength, your healing. You are DOING THE WORK, poking the bear. You are actively working with God and making good use of the gifts He has given someone else to develop us into stronger, healthier people. Bravo, I say! May we grab onto any tool possible as we pursue healthy marriages, healthy kids, and healthy souls. To abuse and suffering and loss and grief and pain and a horrible enemy: I say, COME AT US, BRO. We're not going to take this stuff lying down". -Jen Hatmaker

Noteworthy Images:

 LOLOL. It guess it shows that Voluntary Simplicity has taken hold because I assumed this was a room for a (very small) PERSON. Babykins #3 isn't even this lucky  He or she will be nomading between a Pack n Play in our room and a crib in the master with his or her siblings. The did it in the old days, right?

Noteworthy Videos:

Preview of the State of the Union in the Style of Wes Anderson (yes, I'm behind).

"The key to a successful resolution is not hard work and dedication. It's managing disappointment and that's it."

Brooklyn city councilwoman not gonna let CNN get away with promoting rape culture. Atta way.

And that's it! Hopefully, I'll get these issues resolved soon! 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Weekly Happenings Post #351 (December 14-20)-- Bike Rides and a Bit of Grown Up Time

This was a fun week that was a good mix of busy, productive, and chill. I was still getting sick alot, but looking back I feel like I managed to do alright!

Monday was a busy, fun day. I got up around nine and had a little breakfast and got ready for an MDO ornament swap. I was all dressed and then I threw up. Ugh. So gross. I was so tired of it. I pulled it together and left a little late but I enjoyed the fun party. I stopped at Hobby Lobby and Kroger on the way home and when I got home, I visited with Peyton and the kids and relaxed a little. I did math with Annie and Peyton hung the outside lights and I folded some laundry. 

Peyton and I got ready and we dropped the kids off at my parents and went to the MPhA Christmas party. 

I was sure looking forward to the next week being mainly focused on being with our families, but this week provided a couple of opportunities for me and Peyton to spend some grown up time together and I'm really grateful for that, too. [Also, I still occasionally wear things that are not "loungewear".]

That said, these two are pretty fabulous.

We had a really fun time and picked up the kids around nine thirty. We got home and got them to bed and I fell asleep really soon after that.

Tuesday was another full day. I got up and took my bath and then worked really hard organizing and going through stuff in the sunroom. I also got most of the Christmas boxes consolidated and ready to go back to the attic. We got stuff together and ran by the bank and dropped the kids off at Peyton's parents and headed up to Pontotoc to get a swing/bed I found on Craigslist. We stopped at Newks and ate lunch. We had a lot fun just getting to visit in the car but it was a pretty long trip (about three hours). I think we only stopped once. We met the guy at Walmart and picked up the swing and got back on the road. We stopped a couple of times for the bathroom and dropped the truck off at our house and took Peyton's brother's car that we'd been using back to Peyton's parents. We picked up the kids and Graves fell asleep on the way home. Annie and Peyton followed shortly after him and I wasn't too far behind.

Peyton worked on Wednesday and he went in early. Graves got up around eight thirty and told me he was cold, hungry, and his head hurt. I could relate on every count. We snuggled, he ate breakfast, and we snuggled some more. He got Annie up around nine something and they watched their shows and she had breakfast while I did some computer stuff and had my breakfast and made up the bed and took a bath. We all got ready and I took them for a bike ride.
 Grandpa Randy had taken them on a walk the day before and they were insistent we go on one and then that quickly turned into a bike ride. It was actually drizzling part of the time, but it was so good for all of us!

When we got home, they ate lunch and I collected and started laundry. They had rest time and for some reason, it was ROUGH. I ate my lunch, read blogs, changed over laundry, started a post, texted a friend and FB messaged another friend. Peyton got home and we ALL worked really hard on sort of reorganizing the kids' toys. We put up some to go to the attic, some in the closet, and some to go back to Minnie's where they came from. It was really good to get that done but it took AWHILE. I read the kids their Advent reading and brushed and flossed them and then Peyton played with them some. I got on the computer and read some more blogs and finished up a post.

Recently, the kids were cleaning their room and I was redirecting and reminding Graves of a specific task for the third time. "Annie distracted me" he said and sighed. And then Annie goes "Gosh momma, it must be SO hard to be Graves and get distracted all the time". Yep. And also so hard to be his momma. And yours, too.  [Photo credit for this one goes to Annie.]     

Thursday was kind of a rough day, to be honest. It started off fine. Peyton got up with the kids and I slept a little late. He cooked breakfast and his parents came over so his dad could help him unload the swing off the truck. I got up and they stayed and visited a bit. I took my bath and got on the computer and then made a phone call and texted with a friend. I had lunch, washed a bunch of dishes, and then did math with AP.
"Hey look I made that space thing we read about last night". We've slowed down a bit these last couple of months, but amazing things are happening at the Schoolhouse in the Suburbs (especially in science, which is the one area that is exclusively Peyton's domain!).

Peyton fixed the kids lunch and I took a pretty long nap. I got up and we talked and then he got ready to go to the new Star Wars movie. I read to the kids for almost an hour and did their Advent readings. I fixed them supper and they ate and I vacuumed the pine needles off the rug in the den and out from under the couch cushions. I changed over the laundry and then played with the kids. They took a bath and I did dishes and then read some blogs and wrote a post.

Graves and bath time baby (who is currently dried out and functioning as a regular baby doll). That day sort of kicked my butt, physically and emotionally. But then I kicked its back. I think I've done a pretty good job griping about how sick I've been, but I can't even articulate the place this pregnancy has put me in emotionally- at one point that week, I walked into my parents' house and I teared up and told my mom "Y'all's food smells so good. I wish I had never had to leave". Um, what??? I took a two hour nap that afternoon and got my priorities in line: feed, bathe, and Advent them while Peyton was at Awakening the Force or whatever. As an unexpected bonus I also got the pine needles vacuumed off the den floor and out of the couch. Setting the bar reasonable helps. Anyway, if I'm super honest sometimes I struggle if this was the right decision- we're so far away from the baby stage and this has been so hard (which is crazy talk because I wanted this baby so desperately). But I know when I hold this sweet Babykins #3 in my arms for the first time, I won't question it at all. In the meantime, I need little reminders and God usually uses this guy to send them to me. He's been a wonderful little brother but it would be a cryin' shame for him not to get to be a big brother at least once.

I slept pretty late on Friday. The kids woke up around nine something and Graves wanted me to help him find a toy and then fix another one that had popped apart. I did that and he played for a good bit and then I got up and fixed the kids breakfast and and got on the computer and did a few things. I ate my breakfast and took a bath and then the kids and I worked on this bouncy door thing for the baby. I wanted to take the fabric part off but it turned out I needed a screwdriver and Peyton's toolbox was in the attic. I got it and finished that "project" and then took the kids on a little bike ride.
A much prettier day for a bike ride. Also, Annie loves to pattern mix- polka dots and stripes on her dress, hearts on her socks, and more polka dots on her leggings.

They had lunch and I started some laundry and put up dishes and then it was rest time.

We needed to go to the grocery store, but Annie was excited.

I ate my lunch, read some blogs, and worked on a post. After rest time, I did math with AP. 
Annie is starting to develop strategies herself that help her get through math and I told her how proud I was of her for calming down (she was in tears) and figuring out ways to help herself be successful. She gets so overwhelmed. Which is so, so me. I gave her this worksheet and it WAS a lot of problems, but when we were practicing it she was doing them super fast. In fact, she had basically moved herself ahead to the next day's lesson and was doing them in her head after just the first couple. I was super proud because the book had them like putting the first addend on the abacus and mentally doing the second and she was just doing the entire thing in her head. Anyway, then we got to the worksheet and she was like "THIS IS TOO LONG". We finally got through it but it took some discussing. [Sidenote: for those of you who compliment me on my patience and thoughtful parenting, I was telling a friend recently that usually being really gentle and hand holding works best with Annie. And I did okay, but I was super close to LOOSING IT. This is different with Graves, especially now that he's really at the point where we can reason with him and I feel like he understands a lot more that his actions have consequences. Although he loves and REALLY benefits from lots of praise and physical affection and that's a big part of parenting him, I'm also really trying to buckle down with him and be KIND but FIRM. Honestly, if I don't, I end up loosing my temper and just being downright mean to him. Which is unfair to him. With Annie, I certainly think she needs boundaries, but I think a more gentle approach works better for her and sometimes what works with Graves really just exacerbates the situation with her.] Back to math-- after discussing and discussing she finally did the first four in less than two minutes. The very next thing she did was divide the rest of the problems into (manageable) sets of fours. I love seeing her and Graves grow and mature, figuring out what works for each of them, and watching them figure things out themselves.

Peyton got home and played with Graves while Annie finished and I did dishes.

We got ready and left and went over to my parents' house for supper. We ate and the kids played a bit and then we came home. Peyton went right to bed and the kids played some and then fell asleep. I finished reading some blogs and writing my post and I emailed a friend.
Sweet Annie Girl. I haven't mentioned it (I don't think) but she's been struggling with some insomnia. Hard for a six year old. She's always taken a LONG time to fall asleep, but lately it's started to bother her. I know the problem is that she's just like me and has trouble "turning off her mind". Minnie used to sit in my room for HOURS talking to me and trying to get me to relax. (I'm so, so thankful it's less anxiety for her and more just trying to slow her little brain down.) Graves and Peyton are the exact opposite. He falls asleep with a toy in his hand mid play, most of the time. And Peyton has literally been known to fall asleep during conversations with friends and at CEASARS PALACE in Las Vegas. That night, she played and read a ton of library books and the I resorted to getting puzzles out and then busted out Where's Waldo. ["Get in the bed and close your eyes and count sheep, think happy thoughts, ect." results in more stress. We've tried it. Trust.] I love how she's perched on her little stool hunting him.

 Minnie had a special present for Annie. This beautiful little bird was damaged at Batte and she brought it home and repaired it and gave it to AP. At first, Annie decided we'd put it in the shadow box in their room with their other breakable treasures (there are two LARGE shadow boxes in our house, one in the den and one in the master; I've always just ignored them but awhile back we decided to use the one in the kids' room for soccer trophies and such- basically important things that Graves might break). But then she decided last night she needed her bird closer. I tried to find a safer spot but she insisted her bathroom drawer (which to be fair, is one of a few areas Graves is not supposed to bother) was the perfect spot. This morning however she has her out and they are both carrying her around. I'm pretty sure she and I have both given Graves clear instructions on being careful but I also told Annie I would not punish him if the bird accidentally got broken. She gushes to me every few days about what "a good papa" he is to Midnight the Owl and honestly we are going to HAVE to start teaching our wild boy some more restraint in just a few months anyway. Hopefully, this will just be the beginning of loving things (and you know, people) GENTLY for him.

Saturday was a pretty good day, but it started off rough. Both the kids slept super late but when we woke up I felt TERRIBLE. I had a lot of sinus drainage and threw up as soon as I could get to the bathroom. I fixed the kids breakfast and laid back down. They watched their shows and I got on the computer and took a bath and ate my breakfast. I still felt so sick and so I took the second half of my nausea pill (they make me so tired so I try to take only half when I can). Well, it made me SO sleepy. I collected laundry and started a new load and the kids played with some instruments. Graves decided to play this little game where I'd tell him a bug and he'd use his fingers to be the bug crawling on me. We did ladybugs and ants and bubble bees and then it became more all encompassing and we were doing animals with hoofs and claws. Ha. Annie read some and they played and then I fixed them lunch. I changed over the laundry and brought a load to our room. I sorted it and got things laid flat so it wouldn't wrinkle and then put up dishes in the kitchen. The kids had rest time and I ate my lunch, read some blogs, and rested too. I fixed them a snack and while they ate I folded a bunch of their clothes. They cleaned up their room and I put up the clothes and hung up some others. We did their Advent reading and I read to them about Florida Panthers and then we played. They ate supper and I did dishes and then I let them watch the Christmas Charlie Brown while I addressed Christmas cards. It took the whole movie but I finished about the time it was over. They went to bed and Peyton got home. We ate supper and talked and I folded a bit more and got on the computer.

This was discouraging. I'm ALWAYS behind but usually not by this much. I had our cards (mostly) addressed but I still had make copies of the letter at Office Depot. Which wouldn't be terrible but I found two typos. Which also wouldn't be terrible but we have no functional printer right now so I had to print it at my parents' house. I was thinking I might just correct it with a sharpie before I make the copies.

We all got up and got ready and dropped Peyton off at work on Sunday. We ate breakfast and Graves needed to use the potty so we ran into Walgreens. We visited some with Peyton and the night pharmacist and got things taken care of and finished our cereal in the car. The kids had such fun in Sunday School and church was really nice. We got home and they watched their shows. I put up our clothes and made a grilled cheese. They had lunch and I worked on a post. During rest time I read some blogs and took a nap. After rest time, I unpacked our church stuff and straightened some and then we did our Advent reading and played pretend. I fixed them supper and did dishes and folded some towels. We picked up Peyton and I had run over something on The Trace. He aired up the tire and we ran my my parents' to copy our Christmas letter a second time. We got home and I put up some groceries Peyton had bought and ate supper. I worked on my finances and planned the next day a bit. Graves had fallen asleep in the car and AP had too but she woke up. Peyton read to her some. I sent an email, caught up on more blogs, and started another post. I folded some more laundry and went to bed.

Next up, Christmas!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Babykins #3: Twenty Weeks

Pregnancy Highlights:

How far along: 20 weeks
Size of Baby: (via BabyCenter)  Babykins #3 weighs ten and a half ounces and measures about six and a half inches long, from head to bottom, which is about the length of a banana! She(!!!) is starting to swallow more and more these days, which is good practice for the digestive system!
Total Weight Gain/Loss: about ten pounds
Maternity Clothes: Ugh. I wore some more maternity jeans this week and by the end of the day they were so saggy. My regular ones don't fit, but I think I need to hold off on the maternity stuff a bit. I guess dresses and comfy pants as much as possible! 
Gender: It's a girl! We're so excited.
Movement: I've been feeling her more and more.
Sleep: Not terrible, actually.
Cravings: Um, I haven't been eating super healthy this week. I got some mini corndogs at the grocery store and they're kinda my favorite.

Symptoms: Much better. I've only thrown up once lately and I feel my energy coming back more and more. I have had some really bad weather headaches this week and they're a good bit worse for me when I'm pregnant.
What I Miss: That's a hard one this week. I keep going back to this, but I guess just not being on such a crazy emotional roller-coaster. I cried four times on Tuesday! 
Best Moment This Week: Finding out this baby is a girl. I would have been really happy either way, but it's so fun knowing! 
What I Am Looking Forward To: Next week. I have a few things I want to accomplish. This week was sort of busy and I think next week will be more low key. 
Comparison to Graves:

I need to make sure to get Peyton to take a picture this week! I think I'm going to try to get a picture with my "real" camera once a month (at 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, and 40 weeks) but I'm not going to fret about it being on a Thursday!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Weekly Happenings Post #350 (December 7-13)-- Time to Decorate (for Christmas!)


Well, we finally got around to decorating for Christmas even if it was the second week of December! It was a nice week and was mostly low key.

Monday was fun! We got up around seven thirty and got ready and packed up some stuff and headed to Granny's.

Peyton was going to help his dad with farm work and the kids and I were just going for the fresh air/change in scenery. We found out that Peyton's mom was going, too, so that was fun. I slept all the way down there and then we stayed for four or five hours. I rested, played with the kids, read, worked on my personal budget, and visited with Peyton's mom. It was such a nice, relaxing day.

A little tractor driving!

Graves stands in the tradition of some great men, who are kind, and generous, and hardworking.  

We headed back and dropped by Andrew's house (he lives down near Granny) on the way out of town. We also stopped to pick up some sausage. Graves fell asleep in the car. We got back and I put up the refrigerator stuff we had taken and then Graves watched a show with Peyton and I did math with AP.
Know how some kids hate word problems (I was one of them)? Our little English lover wants me to turn the regular problems into word problems. Whatever works! Also, math has been better lately.

Peyton took the kids to the park even thought it was late and I read a few blogs and started a post. They ate supper and I read their Advent reading to them and then they took quick baths and we got them to bed.

This story had always been one of my biggest struggles in Scripture but even more so now that I have my own "son of laughter", who surprisingly to me- just like his sister- is starting to ask hard, serious questions when we read the Old Testament. I've read this many, many times and I have not ONCE been confident I could have acted as Abraham did. I do take comfort in the fact that I think he either knew God would intervene at the last minute (as the text of course says He did) or that he thought God would raise Isaac from the dead (as many commentators believe). I'm sure he didn't think it was the end, which is convicting because I'm often much less trusting in not near as seemingly hopeless situations. I also take comfort in the humility and transparency of a minister who told me that if Christians were being persecuted and his son was about to be killed, he'd very likely bow the knee to the emperor and renounce his faith. This same man helped me to realize so deeply that our standing with God is not conditional upon our obedience and that the ultimate sacrifice has been made. I'm grateful for Abraham's faith but I don't live in fear of the consequences of my imperfection anymore and my anxiety doesn't permeate my reading of the Bible. I'm also grateful for SLJ and how gently she leads us toward and away from such a terrifying altar and also points ultimately to the greater sacrifice. I hope that I am helping Annie and Graves understand the unfolding of the great Rescue Plan in the way these two individuals have helped me.

We did some things around the house and then I got back on the computer and finished my post and read some more blogs. I ate supper and Peyton and I chatted and went to bed.

I got up and got ready on Tuesday morning and headed to a Junior League meeting. In December they have home meetings and that's always fun. I went to one sort of near our house and I saw a friend I hadn't seen in a good while there. She had her little tiny baby, too, and he was adorable. I ran by Target on the way home and then Peyton had to leave for a meeting of his own. I made the bed, straightened, got on the computer, and read a good bit to the kids.

I heard these awful gagging sounds coming from the bathroom and I asked him what was going on. He said "just what happens when a baby's coming". Of all the people to have sympathy symptoms, he should be the one. Guess "his baby" was making sick.

I folded laundry and when Peyton got home we talked and had lunch and then left to get our Christmas tree. We picked up his grandmother's truck from his dad's house and then met Mickey at the tree stand. We dropped his tree off and then came home with ours. Peyton worked on a resume for something and I started more laundry and read a few blogs and then cleaned up the kitchen and fed the kids supper. I did their Advent reading and Peyton got stuff down from the attic. I took a little nap and then we got the kids to bed. We spent several hours going through more boxes and watching TV.

Peyton was wiping down baby gear we uncovered in the attic. Graves came out of his room and said "it smells good in here, but what's going on?". He's certainly Mickey's Bud- I know no one else who loves rubbing alcohol as much as him!

Peyton and AP brought in some wood and I wrote a post and went through my Reader again.

 Since she's almost always up at 11:00 anyway, Peyton had this one helping him pull wood our of his work room to use to floor more of the attic the next day. Of course she loved it. [She told me "Momma I'm wearing this little light on my head because I almost tripped on the bike trailer. Haha.]

I didn't go to sleep that late, but a little later than I meant to.

I meant to get a TON down around the house on Wednesday and we did make some head way, but I was feeling pretty rough all day. I got up late and visited with a neighbor and then had breakfast and took a bath. Annie and I went outside and did a long math lesson and then we all had lunch. I folded a bunch of clothes and Peyton's parents came over to get the truck and we spent a good chunk of time visiting with another neighbor. Peyton took the kids around the neighborhood on their bikes and I got on the computer a bit and then went in the attic. Peyton had brought up the boxes we had been through and I went through that as well as some other miscellaneous stuff up there. The kids had supper and I put up a bunch of mine and their laundry. I did the Advent reading with them and got their teeth brushed and flossed. I finished putting up my last bit of clothes and straightened the house a bit. I ate something and got on the computer and finished a post and read some blogs.

We did get a bunch done on Thursday. I got up late and Peyton took the kids to storytime at the library. I got on the computer, made the bed, ate breakfast, and took a bath. I organized some stuff we were keeping into totes to take to the attic and the kids got home. I worked on that for awhile and Peyton made lunch and I took a break and we all ate together. I got out a Playmobil set my in-laws had given Annie years ago. At that point was really too little to enjoy it completely, so I had just left it in the box. She and Graves really enjoyed it but I did have to help them get started with snapping the pieces together and such. I got back to work and organized some more and took some small, light stuff up to the attic. The kids went outside while Peyton worked in the yard and straightened the carport. He put the infant carseat in the car to see if it'd fit and I did a TON of dishes in the kitchen- it had gotten out of hand. We went over to my parents' house for beans since Peyton was working twelve hours instead of eight the next day.
 So, since Annie always requests her hair cuts based on a princess (we've been Snow White for over a year now), Graves started requesting that Mandy cut his hair like Batman or Superman. However, recently he found a Hercules book at the library and subsequently watch the movie on Netflix. So last time, he walked in and said he either wanted his hair to look like Hercules or Hades. I QUICKLY determined we'd go with Hercules.But that night Peyton decided to style it like Hades.

 One more of Hades and his string cheese.

We had a great visit and came home and the kids went to sleep pretty easily afterwards. Peyton and I got a bunch of boxes to the attic and I organized them some. I got on the computer and we chatted and went to bed.

Peyton worked his long shift on Friday and it started out rough. I got up before nine because we were planning to go to the park to meet up with the homeschool group. My whole body was hurting though (I guess from moving boxes) and Graves was still asleep and then I looked at who was coming and it didn't even look like many people were going to be there for sure. Well, then I threw up a ton. Graves did wake up and he and AP played a bit and I got my bath and then they had breakfast. I started laundry and packed up some regular decorations to have room for Christmas ones. The kids watched their shows and I had my lunch and read some blogs and sent a couple of emails and started a post. The kids had rest time and I spent most of it resting myself. They had a late lunch and I went through some boxes and folded towels. We cleaned up their room and I hung up and put up a bunch of clothes and put Christmas sheets on their bed. Annie and I did math and then they read and played and did their Advent reading and then Annie took a quick bath and they had supper and went to bed. I got on the computer and emailed a friend, read some blogs, and finished a post. Peyton got home and he had picked up Newks so we ate and watched a show. I finished reading blogs and did my SRT study and the daily prayer service I'm doing and went to bed sort of late.

The kids got up around nine but then played for an hour. Then I got them breakfast, fed the cats, and watered the Christmas tree. My friend Catherine dropped by to drop off some baby stuff I had loaned her and then I ate my breakfast, got on the computer and took my bath. We went outside and did a math game and then the kids rode bikes for awhile. They had lunch and I did dishes and then ate my lunch. They had rest time and I worked on a post and rested some. I made them smoothies for a snack and they were so hungry it turned into supper. After they ate, we cleaned up their room and then read and played and did our Advent reading. I got on the computer and Peyton got home and we visited and then I read a few more blogs and finished a post and then got everything ready for church the next day.

We got up and got ready and hustled to drop Peyton off on Sunday

 I'm glad I was able to locate a couple of seasonally appropriate outfits for church this morning that could also be worn when it's in the 70s.

We ate breakfast in the parking lot and surprisingly, I didn't snooze any. Sunday school was nice and Graves did really well in church again. We came home and the kids ate lunch and I put sheets on our bed and swept in the den, and put up our church stuff. We went through the first box of ornaments and decorated the tree and then they watched their shows. I had my lunch and then it was rest time. I read some blogs but mostly took a nap. After rest time, we did our Advent reading and went through two more boxes and finished up most of the tree (and most of the decorating).

They had supper and I vacuumed in the den and did a TON of dishes. We all got ready and headed out in the rain to pick up Peyton. Graves fell asleep on the way home and Peyton helped Annie put the angel on top of the tree.
 We are always so late decorating but was a record. Good thing I've become more liturgical and now have an excuse for keeping it up roughly two weeks into January. With the attic project and having hardly any energy, I just haven't made it happen. HOWEVER, I'm super excited because this was the first year since Graves has been mobile that we've had a full size tree in the living room. In Brooklyn we didn't even get one, the year before we were trying to move and got a tiny one, and the year before that he was one and everyone assured me I could "tell him no" and gently discipline and he'd stay out of it Yeah, no. Guys, THIS year he knocked over two trees in the fifteen minutes we were at the tree stand and there were three adults watching him. We've had a few "look me in the eyes and listen" discussions and he knows the rules. Self-control is still not an area he's super strong in, but he actually did great. I will say that one of the biggest thing he's taught me is about doing things on their time. Wanna nurse past a year? Fine. Want to have a paci until you're three and a half? Sure. Want to potty train when you're almost four? Okay. Need to wait on the full size living room tree until you're four and a half? I'll survive. He's made me a lot more flexible and gentle and kind. Nearly half a decade without a real living room tree? Small price to pay. As far as Annie, holiday decorating is literally one of her favorite things in the world and since we've tried to downplay the consumerist part of Christmas, I love that she takes so much joy from this part of the magic.

I sent an email, finished going through my reader and planned a bit for the next week.

It was a fun week! [More catching up soon.]

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Weekly Smorgasbord

A pretty good list of links, if I say so. You'll notice a couple of Advent themed ones that I somehow missed before Christmas but were way too good not to share.

On Faith:
Posted: 27 Dec 2015 10:53 AM PST
"And I wept for lack of clarity. Because my white, American, 21st century heart was confused. I had nothing like peace. Where I, having been born a Christian- Because history and technology and lots of blood and colonialism and imperialism, (and blatant disregard for the environment) have built for me an empire within which I am fortunate enough to live relatively conflict-free (and through a series of many wars and mandates and conversions by sword live where the culture is "Christian") and thus ride this wave all the way to the pearly gates? So within this bubble, in this tiny speck that is earth in the ocean of an infinite universe, I have been born into privilege and handed an "ancient" text about faith and so my eternity will not be hellfire? Some days, I was stuck there. Thomas, demanding proof. I'm not trying to be cynical. But we're talking about infinity, eternity, and vastness beyond my understanding. And I had religion lessons to teach. Children to raise. Coffee to pour and words to write. And if He is He, God must be bigger than all of that. As such, I struggle with the preciseness of our faith."
Posted: 07 Jan 2016 10:29 AM PST
Another beautiful poem from John Blase.
Posted: 04 Jan 2016 11:07 PM PST
"One of the most important aspects of my Christian faith, for me, is that because of God's grace, I am already enough. I am beloved. I am wanted. There is nothing I could do to become more loved. There is nothing that I could do to become less loved. I don't have to be good. I don't have to be better. And yet, the clock strikes midnight and the calendar page turns, and it's new in some vague way…and there's a part of me that loves that. There's part of me that wants something new for myself here in the first hours of the brand new year."
Posted: 04 Jan 2016 10:01 PM PST
"Certainly others bear much deeper scars, but even the most painful religious experiences cannot simply be discarded. They must be confronted, molded, repurposed. It's a messy, sacred process. This is why, in the wake of my last book release, I so strongly disliked headlines about my "leaving evangelicalism for the Episcopal Church." While I'm happy to acknowledge that I've switched denominational affiliation, there is much about evangelicalism that I joyfully bring with me through the doors of St. Luke's Episcopal Church and which the people there joyfully receive. Very little of my faith has involved leaving and arriving. The vast majority of it has involved wrestling, meandering, stretching, struggling. As the saying goes, it's a work in progress. My spiritual GPS has yet to chirp, " You have arrived.""
Posted: 03 Jan 2016 04:04 PM PST
"The world knows little of Advent and will be, I fear, all worn out by the evening of December 25. The traditional twelve days are too many when the feast began in mid-November. But the earth has one sermon that has never lost its power." When spring returns, even the weary world rejoices.
Posted: 23 Dec 2015 10:30 PM PST
"It never occurs to us that Christ is stronger than the "piss" of our lives. I looked at the men in the study and said, This is the scandal of the Incarnation. This is the scandal of Christmas. That God descended into the piss, shit and darkness of your life. And the piss, shit and darkness did not overcome it. I know, I told the men, that this is so very hard to believe. That Jesus goes into the darkest. most disgusting, most defiling corners of our lives. This, all by itself, is hard to believe. But even harder to believe is that Jesus is stronger than that polluting, shameful, defiling darkness. That is the scandal of Christmas."
Posted: 23 Dec 2015 09:50 PM PST
"Almost all of our theology – and therefore our practical lives – has its roots in what we believe about the nature and character of God. It all tracks back. And really, if we want to know what God looks like, we can look to Jesus. That's what the Bible tells us. Jesus was meant to clarify, to answer the questions, to clean up the dirty window through which we kept trying to behold the holy. Hebrews 1:3 states that Jesus is "the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being." So I didn't learn how to practice joy until I learned to practice grief, and I didn't learn how to do either one of those things well until I learned that God can be trusted."
On Story:
Posted: 26 Dec 2015 07:53 PM PST
"So whatever blend of stories and emotions 2015 is leaving you with, remember that these are but pages in a book that is yet unwritten. Feel hopeful as you cling to the real truth that God is in the business of redemption and restoration and the telling of a good story. The book is a beautiful mess that is moving toward something and we all influence the plot line and play a role in the character development of our friends and neighbors."

On Waiting:
Posted: 27 Dec 2015 10:32 PM PST
I hate the powerlessness of hope. Waiting to find out what comes next is uncomfortable, unsettling, hard. And yet as I listen again to the long cherished story of Advent, I remember that those who wait are always in good company. Elizabeth had longed to become a mother for most of her lifetime. Anna had prayed for years for God's kingdom to come to Jerusalem. Even Mary, with her angel visits and promises from God, had to watch and wait, year after year, as her miracle baby grew into the dying Messiah. The stories we tend to tell are the ones with action, climax, conclusions. But life—real, faith-building, character-shaping, soul-growing life—happens in the waiting, where it's hard and lonely and unclear. Advent reminds us that our waiting is not in vain. God is working behind the scenes to make the world right. He's answering prayers and fulfilling promises in strange and surprising ways. Because only God could bring kings and shepherds to the same stable. Only God could grow new life in a virgin's womb.

On Writing:
Posted: 27 Dec 2015 11:36 AM PST
"Sometimes, I still catch myself wanting to write whimsical bits of details. I catch myself spinning poetic lines about the crystal-glazed windows on all the cars that have yet to move this early autumn morning. And the way the fog settles in the Skagit basin covering everything but the jagged North Cascades that refuse to tuck under that heavy, misty quilt. I want to write about the man in the burgundy sedan with the shaggy hair who seems to be singing along to his favorite band for the entire hour we travel parallel to each other and the woman who I caught putting on her mascara while driving 70 miles per hour. I want to write about these tiny moments—about people I've never met and about the way that makes me feel. And I really believe in that. I really believe in the power of poetry and movement and those teeny tiny split seconds that can be spun into whole pages, because that is what writers do. But on the other side of things, I still need to communicate and punctuate. So I am learning the art of doing both and all the while I am trying to write my way into healing."

On Social Media:
Posted: 27 Dec 2015 10:31 PM PST
"If anything, this is where social media has become so destructive. It gives us the forum to share our beliefs and opinions without apology, and then it offers us the option of erasing those we disagree with. Before we know it, our online world is nothing more than a group of people affirming our deeply held beliefs and opinions, something that only serves to more deeply entrench us in our positions and alienate us from those who think differently."

On Neighborhoods of the Past:
Posted: 07 Jan 2016 10:17 PM PST
"There was once a vibrant neighbourhood in Manhattan known for its stores signs and newspapers written in Arabic, the smell of fresh Baklava wafting from cafés, mothers wearing veils watching their children from the stoop playing in the street. Little Syria existed just south of the current location of the World Trade Center, roughly in present-day Tribeca; the cultural hub of America's first middle eastern immigrant community."

Super interesting.

On Years of Uniforms:
Posted: 03 Jan 2016 10:36 PM PST
Really cool photography. The soldiers' inventory is the most interesting to me.

On Music and Movies (for laughs):
Posted: 03 Jan 2016 03:21 PM PST
"Let's look at that hair. Let's look at Taylor Hanson banging on the keyboards in a way that bears zero relationship to the backing track of the song and Zac in a Playskool commercial on the drums. They're all hailing a cab now: Zac appears not to be riding in the booster seat that is required for him by law? "
Posted: 04 Jan 2016 10:29 PM PST
"…gorgeous, lush setting" = insanely violent and about a small Asian country "Highly anticipated" = based on a YA novel "A classic all-American story" = Tom Hanks' eyes twinkle a whole bunch Hysterical.
Noteworthy Quotes and Thoughts:
"Is there any difference between friendship and human love or charity? 'On the contrary; there is a vast difference; for divine authority approves that more are to be received into the bosom of charity than into the embrace of friendship. For we are compelled by the law of charity to receive in the embrace of love not only our friends but also our enemies. But only those do we call friends to whom we can fearlessly entrust our heart and all its secrets; those, too, who, in turn, are bound to us by the same law of faith and security.'" -Aelred of Rievaulx

"I sincerely worry that our current school culture will one day be considered on the wrong side of history. That eventually enough research will emerge that people commonly accept that an 8-hour school day followed by hours of homework is detrimental to young minds, and that standardized testing will be widely viewed as responsible for some of the worst educational practices in history. But what do we do in the meantime? That is the question." -Kristen Howerton [I mean, there are things I worry more about us being on the "wrong side of history" on, but this is one of the (many) reasons we chose to homeschool. Especially when our children are very young, I don't feel comfortable with them spending so much of their days in a traditional classroom with work on top of that to complete when they arrived home.]

"My 2016 wish for the internet: A revival of common sense, basic human respect, reason, and an ability to handle nuance. These four disciplines would reduce FB drama by 99%. We can do it. We don't have to poke holes in every sentence, derail every post, argue every straw man, and find offense where there is none. Some thoughts can stay in our heads. We can give people the benefit of the doubt. We can acknowledge that not every facet of every idea can be covered in one status update. We can use discernment to extrapolate someone's basic idea without chasing silly rabbit trails ("If we only say yes to things that inspire and excite us, who will clean the toilets?" ...sigh). We can write to people the way we would speak to their faces. We can disagree without launching shame grenades. We can even disagree silently (!!!!!).
We can use our words for good! We can say lovely, kind, encouraging things online to each other. We can give out atta boys and atta girls. We can act like nice people we would want to be around. We can rally together for great good. We can dive into complicated justice issues together with respect and commitment.
I promise to work really hard on these things on this page. I will treat you respectfully, and I will do a better job of blocking people who cannot treat me (or you) with respect. I will be a better host for conversations and try to make this a safer space for us to wrestle and talk through hard things and disagree like adults.
Common sense. Basic human respect. Reason. Ability to handle nuance." -Jen Hatmaker

"There is a whole wonderful realm of relational intimacy that our culture misses out on by loading all of its human-closeness eggs in the basket of specifically sexual intimacy. We tend to refer to these latter relationships as “romantic,” and yet perhaps our sense of romance here is a bit impoverished. Perhaps there is room for a kind of romance with our beloved friends: doing for one another the little deeds of affection that we often associate with a lover wooing his or her espoused, things like writing letters that affirm the beloved’s virtues and beauty, attending carefully to the things that delight their soul and spontaneously and gratuitously fulfilling them, forbearing with their irritating eccentricities while dwelling on their excellences, overcoming their occasional coldness with a deeper kindness." -The Rev. Mac Stewart [Such a good word. We do ourselves and others a disservice when we elevate romantic relationships too much and don't recognize the merit in the platonic, yet intimate relationships life (and God) has to offer.]

Noteworthy Images: 

Noteworthy Videos:
"We're putting the peninsula in your mouth without any strain on the environment". LOLOL.

Such a kind gesture. And I love how he actually put his shirt and hat on the man (whom he said "his body looked sick") instead of just handing it to him. Sweet Samaritans in our beloved city (and probably also Babykins #3) made me teary.