Dpp 2013 :: December 30th :: ER Fun & 2013 Reads

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Our children seem to have a radar getting bad injuries on Sunday nights, after 6pm.

Urgent Care is closed.

Doctor’s offices are  closed.

And thus, the ER is the only option.

Coupled with the highest co-pay.

This time it was Alex that had a weird injury—

I had taken the trash bag out of the can in preparation for Monday’s trash pick up.

He had run toward the bag to put some dinner leftovers inside and a can lid collided with his toe.

Cue:  blood, tears & parental confusion.

After some TLC in the ER, 2 stitches & Cinderella in the exam room, Alex was much better.

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One of his favorite Christmas gifts was a hospital LEGO set from his aunt, uncle and cousin.

And well…..it seems a little prophetic that is was the current centerpiece on our dining room table!

So we have had lots of LEGO building, laying around and trying to force him to take it easy today.

Auntie Elena comes for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day—-so it’s time to rest up and prepare!

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I also decided to document the books I read this year.  I know I’ve missed some for sure, but it was fun to look back and remember the ways I was stretched and grew through the amazing words and ideas of others.

On “Simple Living”:

Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth

Obsessive Consumption by Kate Bingaman-Burt

Living More with Less (not pictured) by Doris Janzen Longacre

Get Yourself Organized Project by Kathi Lipp

Young House Love by John and Sherry Petersik

Kate Spade:  New York Things We Love (“simple living” because it was about looking at expensive things in a library book vs. buying them!) by Kate Spade New York and Deborah Lloyd

Fiction:

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Theology/Spirituality/Faith:

An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor

A Million Little Ways:  Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live  by Emily Freeman

Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott

Carry On, Warrior.  Thoughts on Life Unarmed by Glennon Doyle Melton

A Homemade Year by Jerusalem Greer

Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist

The In Between by Jeff Goins

Jesus, Feminist (not pictured) by Sarah Bessey

Parenting:

Minimalist Parenting by Christine Koh & Asha Dornfest

Some of the “Kid” Read Aloud Favorites:

Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Charlotte’s Web (plus Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan), by E.B. White

The Secret Garden (not pictured) by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Every book by Beverly Cleary

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Biography/Autobiography/Memoir:

Sparkly, Green Earrings:  Catching the Light at Every Turn by Melanie Shankle

Lit by Mary Karr

Art/Craft:

A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book by Elsie Larson & Emma Chapman

Cooking/Memoir:

Bread & Wine:  A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

Dinner:  A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach

and….lots of magazines!

Hoping to read a LOT in 2014.

Looking forward to:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Stitches by Anne Lamott

A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans

Pastrix by Nadia Boltz-Weber

Talking Taboo by Erin Lane (and lots of other amazing ladies!!)

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

The Paris Wife by Paula McClain

And still to come out this year…

Found:  A Story of Questions, Grace & Everyday Prayer by Micha Boyett (!!!!!!!!!!!)

Notes from a Blue Bike:  The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider

Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker

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Dpp 2013 :: December 23rd :: Savor

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These shots are all from yesterday. Today has had some good highs but some really rough lows too. Parenting is never a straight road. Many factors feed into how things unfold. So tonight I am savoring these images from yesterday. It reminds me that equilibrium can come. Tomorrow can be a new day. And rather than lamenting not being given two calm and docile girls, I remember that our boys are instruments to refine and teach me. Frustrations today and boundaries held will hopefully yield fruit when the decisions and arguments get bigger and more serious. Parents of older kids, please tell me this is true! Looking forward to quiet in about an hour with some Syrah and Sunset Magazine!

dpp 2013 :: december 1st :: the rocker & the accountant

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Despite planning and preparing & eyeing the calendar, December crept up so quickly.  Maybe celebrating Thanksgiving on the later side of the month this year threw me off?  Needless to say, here we are.  Our boys, on the other hand, woke up the day they were born, ready for Christmas.  They got the tree up and decorated, tornado-style on Thanksgiving evening and were so excited for Advent to start today.  When my oldest opened up the tub with the Christmas ties on top, he almost had a coronary—two more ties to add to the mix!  (click here for more on his tie obsession)  Luckily, he willingly shared one with his brother this morning so they could be properly attired for church, in his opinion.  Today we got to light the first Advent candle, the light of Hope, as a family during the service.

Watching the boys come into their “own”, to see their personalities emerge, is such a surreal experience.  We see glimpses of who they are becoming and where their natural inclinations and loves lie, but we can’t know their paths for sure.  A friend commented that one looked like the “Rocker Boy” and the other, the “Accountant” in this picture.  Despite similar shirts, ties and even genes (AND jeans!), they indeed, still are individuals.  I saw it in this picture today.  Each is their own person.  I can have hopes and dreams for them, but like Alex read in our Advent “script” at church, “Hope is more than wishful thinking.”  We cling to a bigger Hope.  A Hope that can be lived into now, not just in the future.

So, as this new month begins and we walk into a period of waiting, the liminality of Advent, I wonder what God might be having us learn in the “in between time”.  This has been a year of much change in our lives (I wrote a bit about this here in a post similarly titled “Hope—On the Threshold“).  I trust that these two boys of ours will continue to surprise us, to live into their truest selves and identity & teach us much along the way.  As we continue to pray for their best, for them to learn what makes them “light up” and feel purpose and meaning, I wish even more for them to experience the sense of Hope in the here and now.  God with us.  Emmanuel.

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(this is the first post for the December Photo Project 2013…

click on the picture below to find out more about the project and to participate if you want!)

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the half years

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I absolutely love the series of books Dr. Louise Bates Ames has written about each year of child development.  I had multiple copies of the age nine and ten in my classroom and often handed them out to weary parents.  Now, I read them myself to get life in perspective.  Each book has a subtitle and it is a reminder of the continuum that children are on, year to year.   For six, it is “Loving & Defiant”.  The description reminds:

“The six-year-old is a complex child, entirely  different from the five-year-old. Though many of the  changes are for the good — Six is growing more  mature, more independent, more daring and  adventurous — this is not necessarily an easy time for the  little girl or boy. Relationships with mothers are  troubled — most of the time Six adores mother,  but whenever things go wrong, it’s her fault. It  used to be, at Five, that she was the center of the  child’s universe; now, the child is the center of  his own universe.”

Dr. Ames always reminds that disequilibrium often strikes on the 1/2 years.  Children begin stretching and reaching toward the next year and feel any equilibrium they once experienced begin to be rocked and upset.  So, I look at the date, November 20th, with a little fear, wondering how I might feel these same emotions as we press towards seven.

Ultimately, though, parenting is about day-to-day life.  In fact, it’s often about the minutes and hours.  I look into his eyes and see glimpses of who he is becoming.  A lover of art, writing, people & BEING IN CHARGE.  Adventurous and daring and independent were always on his list, but seeing what brings him joy means everything to me.  Building, creating, engineering, planning, executing….he is always knee deep in LEGOs or storywriting, typically wearing a tie, glasses skimming the edge of his nose and hair slicked down (minus that persnickety cowlick!).

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Who he will be….what mistakes he’ll make….what characteristics will be his “trademarks” as he ages?  Not fully sure.  But for now, trying to channel him “being the center of his own universe”, as Dr Ames writes, while looking out to others is the goal.  Trying to see his heart, while surrounding him with love, patience and boundaries is a daily challenge, but filled with so many pockets of joy.

Happy 1/2 Birthday, Al-Bug!

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To Tie or Not to Tie?

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Alex has had an obsession with ties for awhile.  Lately, however, it has hit a fever pitch and besides “Casual Friday”, when everyone wears their Wilson Wildcats’ shirts, he dresses in a button up shirt with a corresponding tie.  We’re talking clip-on ties, but slicking the hair over and wearing ties has become the norm of his 1st grade dressing experience.

My dear friend Pete, a teacher in Portland, had a similar approach, but made bow ties the newest trend, even holding lessons on technique.  The phenomenon made the Oregonian (article here and awesome video here).

So my fickle, silly question of the day….to Tie or Not to Tie?!?  Do you think “dressing the part” makes you more successful or on task during your day?  For example, as a stay at home mom, am I more productive and focused on the days I put on attire a step above jeans and a t-shirt or yoga pants and flip flops?  Do you think clothes make the person?  And most importantly, will ties become the “new, must wear item” among 1st graders this year?  Clip on or zip up (or heaven forbid, a REAL, tie it yourself tie??!?)?  And where to shop for the latest tie goodness?

Weigh in, friends.  Weigh in.  

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Nourishment

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Any parent tends to think about nourishment now and again—-or maybe every meal, snack and bite that we prepare for our kids.  Are we cobbling together enough to keep them satisfied?  The right balance to ensure healthy growth?  And even more important, do we manage to eek out a **FEW** meals that provide nourishment  for something deeper—connection with family over the table through conversation, however disjointed it might be.

I love this quote from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea.  In case your reader or blog feed won’t let you read the words in the picture above, here’s the quote again:

A good relationship has a pattern like a dance and is built on some of the same rules. The partners do not need to hold on tightly, because they move confidently in the same pattern, intricate but gay and swift and free, like a country dance of Mozart’s. To touch heavily would be to arrest the pattern and freeze the movement, to check the endlessly changing beauty of its unfolding. There is no place here for the possessive clutch, the clinging arm, the heavy hand; only the barest touch in passing. Now arm in arm, now face to face, now back to back — it does not matter which. Because they know they are partners moving to the same rhythm, creating a pattern together, and being invisibly nourished by it.

Often the nourishment we need and seek can not be found through the means we employ—-holding on tightly, possessively clutching, touching heavily.  In fear, left to our own ways, we too often think we can nourish relationships through control.  Lindbergh reminds us that the pattern that can be created, the dance to be experienced is so much richer, moving, beautiful and **nourishing** when we let go and move to the same rhythm, not necessarily the same steps.

I am finding myself in a season that can often feel parched, dry and endless.  Like childbirth, I think I blocked out the emotional and mental stamina needed to parent a 2 year old.  They are relentless.  Today, I savored 2 hours of alone time by deep cleaning our bathrooms with Clorox.  What does that tell you?!?  I’m **nourished** because I can clean in peace without interruption?!?  What is this world coming too??  Night after night, we are suffering through sleep issues with the boys—one is suffering from night terrors and the other from bad dreams.  I often feel like they are tag-teaming, planning out a new and devious scheme to keep me from shut eye and the nourishment of consistent sleep.

I write this here to remember, to remind myself that one day they will sleep through the night.  One day they will both be capable of entertaining themselves so I can get some other chores done.  One day I might have enough stamina to do more that survive each day til I can plop on the couch at 8pm, exhausted.  Maybe, one day….

How do we find nourishment in these moments—-moments when I don’t even register what would BE nourishing.  How do we provide nourishment for our children?  True rest when fears and dreams fill their heads?  Meals that satisfy when their picky likes and dislikes prevail?  Time of connection and conversation and bonding when our own eyelids are heavy and our hearts are tired?

Lately, I have tried to remind myself that all of the “screaming” voices of culture (aka Pinterest & Facebook), are not the end all, be all.  Sometimes, turning on the sprinkler as the temperature soars into the 90s is necessary.  Maybe embracing the school’s spirit week—wearing mustaches, Hawaiian gear, baseball garb or super hero outfits makes all the difference.  Could nourishment surprisingly be found walking in the walk-a-thon in 90 degree heat?!?  Yes, maybe even there.

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I wondered what this stage would look like in my life—parenting two boys, being a “stay-at-home-mom”, keeper of the calendar, diaper changer, dishwasher unloader, dinner maker.  Sometimes those moments, as much as I’d like to hope, don’t feel life giving.  In the midst of the exhaustion, I seek out hope.  Hope in something much stronger and firmer than food, experiences and memories.

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I keep seeing images before me…reminders that even when I want to cry and pitch a temper tantrum….

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….that it really makes more sense to call on friends.  To enjoy some time away from the bunnies.  There is no guilt in that.  Pure nourishment.

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How do the kids find nourishment?  Alex wears his winged shoes.  Drew dances out in the rain. (or wears a Davy Crockett hat….obviously)

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And some moments, under and through and in between the chaos, there are glimpses at these PEOPLE we are raising.  Encouraging our boys to love with abandon.  To shower others with flowers and love.  To write their stories.  To look out into the world and see “outside” themselves.  To be men of adventure.

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At Open House, we got to see Alex’s work from Kindergarten.  It was surreal to attend Open House as a parent, and not a teacher.  To see his self-portraits from August and May and observe the growth that has unfolded.

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These moments, if we pay attention, nourish.  It’s like that “goo energy gel” that you suck down on a long run.  You slurp down some reality and it energizes.  A chance to gain perspective and see we are raising PEOPLE.  No huge surprise, but a truth often lost in the day-to-day survival of parenting.

I’m not sure if mine will end up a politician, a pizza delivery boy, a mattress salesman, a smoothie maker or comedian…..

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….but in the moments where I cling hard in control, desperately seeking nourishment, running on empty—-it’s time to look them in the eye.  See them for who they are and enter the dance and help them create the unique pattern that they are weaving with their lives.

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And then pray to GOD that they sleep through the night just ONCE this week!

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dpp 2012 :: december 9th :: “read all about it!”

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I could NOT resist this tweed hat when looking for a little holiday sweater for my eldest a few weeks back.  Gymboree, sometimes you slay me.  Really.  Even more fun when Matt looked at it with some slight jealousy, having eyed them recently in Nordstrom for himself.  And in these moments, I realize, “I live in a house with boys.”  Three boys.  Luckily I love boy fashion.  Alex isn’t always the master of it (recently donning a rainbow tie dye t-shirt, plaid shorts, Spiderman socks, pirate boots & a conflicting plaid jacket——classy).  But, today?  I melted.  The newsboy hat style is just so cute.

So, the news today?  This addition marks my 300th post and tomorrow is the 2 year anniversary of starting this blog.  I was reflecting this morning on what a gift it has been for myself.  The last two years have mostly been filled with parenting, with a brief stint back in the classroom this past January – June.  Being consumed with motherhood, the kids’ schedules, meal planning and preparing, laundry and dish washer filling & emptying is tough for me.  I wish I was one of those people that was filled by that.  While I’m grateful for this role, even in the midst of hard days, it still can feel mind-numbing.  This blog has been a sweet outlet for me.  I love to write.  I find immense joy in looking and watching for inspiration to unfold with my camera in hand.  I am grateful for the ways God has pushed and challenged me in my faith & for the chance to process some of that here.

And so thank you for reading and encouraging me to be present in this space.  Thank you for indulging me the narcissistic need to share silly stories about my family & my parenting foibles.  Thank you for allowing space to talk about faith.  This place has been life giving for me, even if it has only meant sending my thoughts out into the cyber space world.  So…Happy 2nd Years, These Stones!  Looking forward for the material that is yet to unfold here, the growth to come and the photos to be taken.

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And for these two….the inspiration for much of my thoughts (things I can and CAN’T write about here!!)…I am so very thankful.

{Thankful for my hubby too, but he shys away from letting me post too many pics & stories here!}

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Seeing

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With a little “sounding out” help from me, Alex crafted this note on Tuesday night to go into Drew’s lunchbox on Wednesday. I love the sentiment and the fact that “really” and “so” BOTH had to be included. Much of the time we are monitoring our boys’ interactions, helping with communication trials between the two, frustrations that crop up & antics gone wild. There are times, though, moments like seeing this note, when I’m reminded that deep underneath the day-to-day challenges, there is brother love.

Currently, I’m reading {“plowing through” might be more apt as it’s due at the library today with no chance for parole!} Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin. She wrote and published The Happiness Project a few years back and this new book is an extension of that project. She shared the following quote that hit me as I read last night, “See the child you have, not the child you wish you had.” –Michel de Montaigne

It knocked me out of my head to read that, internalize it and process the richness of those words. SEE the child you have. Seeing the blessings that wake up under the same roof as you everyday. Believing in them. Trusting that their quirks, frustrating behaviors and qualities that might grate one’s nerves are part of their inherent goodness.

Somedays I question my ability to parent well. I feel a gap in my patience reserves. I have lost creativity and vision for teaching & shepherding well. Subconsciously, I think I begin to question the child I have. I wish for some “grass is greener” reality.

So today, my quest for parenting well is a desire to love well. To love unconditionally. To remind my boys that I REALLY love them. In fact, I REALLY love them SO much. No matter what. And while I’m at it, speaking the same message to myself, in the midst of my hap-hazard, best attempts at parenting. That I too am loved. REALLY loved. SO much. A Love not dependent on results. A Love not based on a perfect picture of a perfect family. A Love not relying on expectations being met. A LOVE that surpasses understanding.

You Hold Your Truth So Purely

Everyday life has seemed charged.  Maybe it’s the excitement of the Giants and their World Series dreams.  Perhaps the coming of Halloween in a week, cookies to bake & decorate.  Potentially it’s the first rain of the season & connections to Ramona Quimbey’s frustrations with rainboots.  The newness of the school year has worn off.  The routines are in place, and thus excuses to not abide by the routines are happening—making lunches each night CAN be seen as spiritual practice, but that’s HARD, people!!.

I see my life through the camera lens.  I just can’t help myself.  I feel naked and unprepared if I leave the house without some device to document life.  Having just finished Drew’s One-Two Year scrapbook, it became apparent how much this “addiction” is the case.  Too many pictures to sift through.  It may sound weird or unorthodox, but I think God uses my camera and its effect to help me see God’s gifts and handiwork more clearly.  And most of the time, I just can’t help but share it.  Some, (many, no doubt?!?) call it OVERSHARING.  Be it as it may, here I find myself.

The past few weeks have seen our schedule normalizing a bit without tons of travel or big events and day-to-day life is unfolding.  Garbage trucks loudly doing their thing.  Chances to makes trains come to life with chairs.  The impossible excitement of UPS AND Fed Ex trucks crossing paths, AT THE SAME MOMENT, in front of our house. Learning how to operate light switches, “ON!” and “OFF!”.   Still pictures don’t convey the non-stop movement, volume & loud emotions that overflowed during Halloween cookie making (Drew’s first induction to this world).  After the whole “brew ha ha”, Alex looked at me and reflected, “Mom, I think we learned something today.  Doing cookies with a two year old is a bad idea.”  I’m thinking there’s some wisdom in that 5 year old observation.  As Mumford & Sons professes on the song “Whispers in the Dark”, “You hold your truth so purely….”.  I can’t help but see that truth in my kids.  Maybe you can see it too in children around you or others that just manage to cling to simplicity.  So, here’s a little visual of the truth of life around here—pure and complicated as it may be.  Here’s to hoping we can conquer the pumpkin patch with a little less drama than the cookies!  (these two posts made me worry….here & here)