Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ice cream fix

True confession time: I was into the chocolate ice cream before 11:30 today. Yes, 11:30 am. Why would an otherwise healthy person eat chocolate ice cream before lunch? Because we have no vodka in the house. 

It's that sort of morning.

We just returned from our walk around the neighborhood so that Gwennan could deliver her "I'm sorry" card to the babysitter. Brother is bemoaning the time change, by far the most traumatic thing in his life since circumcision. His whole life's schedule has been a wreck since 2 o'clock Sunday morning. When I declined to fix lunch at 10:30, Afton threw a fit involving peeing on our carpeted stairs and using the basil we potted together as a hammer throw.

I earned that ice cream.

The last spoonful hadn't dissolved on my tongue when I glanced out the window to check on my entirely too happy children only to find the little exhibitionists completely naked on top of the fort, well above the privacy fence, playing "go to the beach," the nudist beach apparently. {Anybody else notice that my sentences tend to run on when I'm frustrated? Tim has, I assure you.}

Why even bring this up? Everyone has these days, these "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day" days. Gwennan, Carrick and Afton would probably tell you that they too deserve ice cream for putting up with their grumpy mother on a 5 day headache streak who insists that the babysitter was right, that daylight savings time is over, and that lunch must wait until closer to noon. Oh, and that you must pretend going to the beach with your clothes on, clearly an impossibility.

I write out this ridiculous day so that on another bad day, yours or mine, we can say, ah yes, we will get through this ludicrous day, might even laugh at it later.

I write it out so that when all you see are cute pictures of my girls playing or catch a gummy smile from my prince charming son or hear me talk about practicing yoga and baking stuff you barely have time to buy, you'll know that this momma is losing her mind plenty.
My momma promises this too shall pass. And I believe her. I even believe the people who tell me I'll miss it. I also think that maybe when my kids are teenagers and still driving me crazy that I might find some courage reading their preschool antics, even the not so cute ones.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Ciao October

Apple week is complete. Golden quarts line shelves.

Halloween is complete. Only one meltdown over costuming.
4 month check up is complete. Brother is long and skinny with a giant noggin. The way an Ellis baby should be.
4(!) year old birthday is complete. Gwenny acted the princess all day, buried in books.
My sister's pregnancy is complete. Baby Margot is anxiosly awaiting the arrival of her Auntie Kate and Uncle Tim.
When I write it out, I see the Fall is all but complete. Just another baby born, Afton's birthday and Thanksgiving to go (all of which should occur within a 3 day window).

With the 70 degree weather and still green trees, part of me believes the calendar is lying. We can't possibly be 4 weeks from Christmas season. But here it is anyway.

While she didn't get an officials milestone this month, Afton has made the biggest growth of all. She's becoming a little girl, no longer a quick toddler running behind Gwennan. Our little girl is becoming the big sister, a role she claims with pride. Sweet Afton.

Friday, October 4, 2013

If I could speak to your little girls...


My heart is burdened to the point of distraction. How great is the loneliness of the teenage girl who is earnestly trying to please the Lord, adorn herself with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. How despairing to realize that every guy you like can have Miley Cyrus or Rihanna naked in the palm of his iPhone, thank you Vevo.

Not that most girls want to suggestively lick strange objects or dance naked for the masses. But we want to be noticed.

What can we Mommas do when our little girls feel broken because no one follows them? Empower prudishness? Help them acquire a subtler sexuality? Encourage them to surround themselves with friends? Promise them attention and belonging once Mr. Right finally appears? Be their best friend?

Here I sit with all I dreamed of... husband, kids, family, friends, church. The connectedness I prayed for as a teenager. Belonging to a group and being comfortable in my own skin.

So why do I still feel lonely? Me, who cannot go to the bathroom by myself. And it's not lonely because the house is quiet or Tim is out of town or because everyone is too busy to call. I'm still washed with bone loneliness in a crowded room just like my teenage self walking around those blue and gold halls.

Loneliness exceeds human relationships. Even my husband, and he's my best friend, who knows me through babies and hard times and long nights, still can't know me like I want to be known.

A husband isn't the answer.

Neither is a best friend. Or a Mom. Or a sister. Or a daughter. Or a son.

But the Son.

I am lonely because I need my Father, his Son, the Holy Spirit. My deepest longing to be known is only satisfied in Him.

Loneliness is the human condition passed down with that first errant bite. Our walks with God were over, and the desperate search to be known began.

From the 'innocent' flirt to the brazen wrecking ball swinging wildest child, we are all buying fools gold. Believing attention from one person or the nation will make up for the one broken relationship. But it won't. From one who has every earthly relationship I ever hoped for, it won't.

Why leave adopted children lonely? Unless that loneliness serves us for good. A daily reminder that we're not home. We are strangers and exiles in this land, seeking a better homeland, that is a heavenly one. And we are walking among the dying.

But He hasn't left us wandering around a foreign land. The Lord God is with us wherever we go.

I can't talk to every daughter, young and old, but I can talk to mine, and you can talk to yours. To dispel the lie that loneliness is solved by human relationships. That women who are happily married are never lonely.

To encourage that loneliness might be recurrent, but it is not permanent.

To teach ourselves to be satisfied by the spiritual, not just the physical. As children, we require a face to look at or arms to hug, but part of maturing is training our hearts on the subtlety of God.

For though we might feel alone, we are never alone. God is with us, always. Reminding us that a better home awaits where we will never feel lonely.

I couldn't bring myself to look forward to Heaven or the returning of the Lord when I was a teenager. I too badly wanted the family I now have. Maybe my young ears couldn't hear that what I really wanted was Heaven. But we mommas plant a lot of seeds that must overwinter before they germinate.

So let's plant. Speak the truth to your girls in the face of their need to belong, on the playground or on Friday night. What Miley Cyrus has isn't enough. What the popular kids have isn't enough. What full grown mommas have isn't enough.

Only God is enough. Only He takes away our loneliness. And we must train our hearts to believe. We must train our minds to pray before texting our besty. We must train our bodies to seek God not attention.

For the daughters belong with their Father.

A music video to build you up...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A pattern for busy lives

I can't count how often I'm told to treasure these days with my little ones. Now, I'm pretty sure those parents are misremembering why 'these days' are also known as the 'terrible twos' and 'even more terrible threes.' But I also get that this period is short, and babies grow fast.

Maybe that's why I feel guilty when life runs, well, like Afton. She doesn't walk. She sprints, her slow speed a brisk jog. She doesn't sit. She squats. Even in her high chair, she crouches, all tight coiled muscles. A lot of days, our whole family paces with her, hopping from project to lesson to errand and back.

I feel like I'm supposed to artificially slow time so we can make the most of these young years. The uber-spiritual me begins equating slowly with Godly. As if I'm not really a good Christian momma unless I'm taking slow, deliberate steps. Some homeschooling monk-life figure.

Is it stupid guilt? Yes. Most of my guilt is. Just one more weight to carry while I try to keep up.

During a true slow time, I'm reading Mark. He must understand the whoosh of time. 'Immediately' is his favorite adverb. As in 33 times, his favorite adverb. Makes me think life with Jesus moved pretty quickly too. Rushing through miracles and boat rides and feeding thousands. Then Jesus presses [pause]. He pulls his disciples aside. Warns them of his death. Tells them who he is. Takes a deep breath. Then immediately takes over, they're off to heal a boy.

Pause again. Warn again. Teach again. Back to immediately, ministry frenzy.

Work, pause, teach.

The physical slowness accents the importance of the teaching. Quieting the body to let the mind wrap around something huge.

Slow moments to teach and emphasize.

But not all slow moments.

If we're all quiet moments, the emphasis is gone. A flat symphony no one remembers.

The rush isn't bad. The immediately is part of this earthly ministry where much and more hangs in the balance, and many people hurt, and many need to hear some good news.

If we're only slow, we might not cover all the ground. Jesus walked thousands of miles, touched ten thousands of people during his three year tour. It can't be done if we pause under every tree.

Work, pause, teach.

A pattern to reach the world and build disciples. Meeting immediate needs for many. Imparting a Godly understanding to a few. Sounds like the parent's job description.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Our month in the sun


I knew it had been a while since I last typed out my thoughts, but I didn't realize how long. Life is zipping along, stuffed with Fall fun.

Maybe you expected this disappearing act from me since I seem to pull it whenever the weather cools. We start cramming in end of season of beach days and beginning of season hikes. The garden needs attention again. School starts up.

I owe a catch up post. Here's a bit of where we've been...

We left off at the beach, a beautiful day to celebrate 30 years spinning on planet Earth.

And we end at the beach. And spend part of the middle at the beach.

Basically, we made up for the lost month after Brother was born. Now that October is near, the Ellises finally have freckled noses and sun-kissed hair, a couple pounds of sand and several empty cans of sunscreen in the trunk of the van.

The camera has been the chronologist. Snap shot of fun times when a pen is too cumbersome. So many pictures, and I'm not sure I narrowed it down enough. Oh well. I'm sharing them anyway.

First, a family photo shoot with my awesome SIL. She mostly shoots in Key West, but she's happy to travel to Virginia and stay with her nieces and nephew. Just saying.
courtesy of Megan Ellis Photography

courtesy of Megan Ellis Photography
 Speaking of my SIL, here she is...
courtesy of Megan Ellis Photography
And my bohemian princess. Ensemble compiled completely by herself...
courtesy of Megan Ellis Photography
In our tiny bit of down time, we nap...

and start school...

Then sis is back, with her husband this time, and we head to yet another beach, Kiptopeke State Park. The boys fish the reef while the girls {and Little Man} enjoy the sand.
 Wave goodbye and we're off to, where else, the beach!

 Afton chases seagulls {or flying rats}...
My sweet mommy and daddy...
 Ponies on the dunes...
 seashells that sing the sea...
Wait! Wait! What have you done with your son all this sunny time?

Big chillin' under the umbrella...
This little family needed a break. Carrick is 100% blessing, but the process around his arrival was a huge disruption. It took two months to feel like we were connecting as a family. The last couple weeks were a respite from the daily grind of wrangling disrupted preschoolers. It wasn't all smooth sailing {I left out the pictures of crying girls; there were many}, but it was an encouragement.

But now we're home. Back into the fray.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Happy day

Ten years ago I shared my 20th birthday with 101,000 of my closest friends at Neyland Stadium, bedecked in orange and singing Rocky Top. That pretty much sums up where I was. Floating in a sea of faces, not quite sure who I was, passionate but unconnected.

Today I welcome 30 with my beautiful family. Friday morning traditional pancake breakfast, "assisting" my little party planners as they "make" my birthday cake, build a sand castle at Buckroe, quiet evening with Tim, and a cookout with friends later in the weekend. Infinitely connected to four people, journeying with so many more.

In a mere ten years.

Well, not so mere...

20 - sophomore year, working as an RA, tons of peeps, no solid friends, no church home
21 - find a church home, find a best friend for college and a best friend for life
22 - tragedy shows how real our church family is
23 - get married! start grad school, start ministry with new church family
24 - buy first house, find new married friends
25 - leave grad school, identity crisis over who I am without "future DVM" behind my name
26 - first baby arrives! move to Virginia and fall in love with a new church family
27 - second baby arrives!
28 - develop our family identity
29 - third baby arrives!
Thirty promises two new nieces, a celebration of a stronger, happier relationships with my original family, too.

How could I not look forward to 30??

The Lord has done so much for me the last ten years. He has taught me about who he is and who I am in Christ. He's given me purpose, my personal ministry from him. I don't only mean my kids, although they are a ministry. I mean that he has taken so many pieces of me that I didn't know what to with at 20 and showed me that he made me "this way" to use me "this way." I don't need to become someone else.

I am a happy girl on this happy day!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

2 months tomorrow

Little Man is two months old tomorrow. All that stuff about time flying, it's true here too.

He's still my fabulous baby, with the goofiest grin, especially for Afton. Those two share some special connection. She starts singing her little made up ditties, and he kicks and coo's and grins like a fool.

Got my first kiss today, the nearly violent open-mouthed baby kind, not the mistook your face for a boob kind.

Also today, I missed a photo op when he saw his hand for the first time. Gwennan face planted while I was looking for my camera. I'll just have to remember the what new marvel might this be look.

But I didn't miss every picture...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Invited to interrupt

Glance at the clock. 9 o'clock. Breakfast dishes took an hour. A pan and a handful of plates and mugs.

Maybe it's settling hormones, more likely, it's frustration that brings tears to my eyes. 

Not about the dishes.

About the time. About the infant stirring. About the lost moment to workout. About the interruptions. 

The interruptions are the real weight.

My fists ball when I hear the bells clang against the back door. My face tenses anticipating another, mmmmmmoooommmmmm-aaaaaa. Crises. Kisses. Tattles. I need a new pencil. This one's not working. Sister was about to hit me. I found a mushroom in the yard. Come get it. I'm done outside. I need to big poop. waa-waa-WWWAAAAA!

So an hour slipped past before the breakfast dishes were nestled in the sink to dry.

This toddler season is our life. Hard. Good. Beat your head against a wall. Smile until your cheeks hurt. Parenting.

The relentless nature wears on me. DH comes home from a 12 hour work day and asks, what's wrong? Are you just tired? And I think, no. I've just had one year of my life sucked away. I feel like Wesley strapped to the machine in the pit of despair.

No. It's not that bad.

But it is relentless. Ceaseless petitioning.

My humanness, and probably selfishness, begs to finish a task, a thought, start to finish without someone talking to me.

Let the little children come to me. Don't worry that they'll interrupt or annoy me, that they will babble nonsensically. I want to hear and see them.

What I find exhausting, God finds delightful.

He invites us to converse. Pray without ceasing. Not a command, but an invitation. Please, come to me with every little thing. I want to hear it all.

Not like a frustrated mother in front of the sink pulling off her gloves to deal with yet another squabble.

A loving father waiting to hear every detail, never cutting off or glancing at his phone.

I don't treat prayer that way. More like a military exchange. Here are the facts. Lets get down to business. You to yours. Me to mine. Check back in with the results. Amen.

My underlying assumption is that he is too busy to converse. He would rather recieve bullet points during a set meeting time so he can resume his more pressing duties.

After all, he is The Lord God, creator of heaven and earth.

But I'm not told to prayer to 'God Most High, King of Kings.' I'm taught to prayer, 'our father.'

Father who loves me because I am his child. He is invested in me, in my every moment.

Father who has no need to multitask in order to include me. His attention is as infinite as himself. He is fully present when I speak. I don't understand how that works; I simply rejoice that it works.

Knowing who is waiting to hear from me, I can joyfully petition all my cares. Please heal the dog. I need my happy Abby back. Please keep Tim safe as he bikes home. Thank you for a moment of happy imaginative play. 

My grandmother prayed like this. Especially in her last years. Every time she got out of bed, she prayed that The Lord would give her strength to walk to the couch. My sister used to grin and say, I can always carry you there. But Grandmother never stopped asking or thanking. She understood the invitation.

My Lovely child, Pray whenever you want, as much as you want, about whatever you want. I am always listening. I am never too busy. I am never interrupted. I've never heard it all before. Please, pray without ceasing.

Casting our cares because he cares for you.

More than any flawed momma juggling duties and plaintives.

We pray because he cares.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Our breakfast obsession {dutch babies}

Hearing your children cheer to eat 'babies' is a little creepy, especially early in the morning. But it happens almost every day at present. Because the girls discovered the dutch baby.

A dutch baby is essentially your eggs and toast, but in a custardy pie with a flaky top. Doesn't that sound worthy of a two year old's obsession?

With all the convenience breakfast foods available, it can be hard to muster the energy to make a hot breakfast. I get it. I don't like cleaning dishes any more than the next momma who'd rather move on to her yoga routine than pick up a soapy sponge. That might be why I'm so obliging with this meal. It is no messier than scrambled eggs and actually requires less of my attention while it cooks. I stand in a stupor watching espresso drip down while this sits in the oven. Not so when I scramble eggs. Either the eggs come out a little brown and firm while I make coffee, or I don't get coffee. You can guess how I usually serve eggs. {If you come over for breakfast, don't worry. I hand over the reins to Tim for large group scrambled eggs. His are always perfect thanks to the hawk-like vigilance he learned from his dad. I just worry over the coffee.}

Without further procrastination:

Dutch Babies {GF}

1 c milk
4 eggs
1 c flour {can use whole grain like buckwheat, oat, sorghum}
Pinch of salt
Dash of nutmeg
1/2 t lemon zest*

1-2 T butter for pan

Preheat oven to 475. Place an oven safe 9-10" skillet in the oven as it preheats.

While oven preheats, combine milk and eggs in blender. Blend until eggs are incorporated {about 30 seconds}. Add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth {about 1 minutes}. Allow to sit while oven preheats to soften whole grain flour.

When oven is preheated, remove skillet {Use a potholder!} and melt butter in pan, rotating to cover the bottom and sides of skillet. Pulse batter once more to mix in any settled flour, then pour in skillet. Place skillet in middle of oven. Bake for 14-16 minutes.

Makes enough for our family of 4.

Add some fresh fruit {we suggest blueberries}, and you've got a complete breakfast. Enjoy!

For the gluten free peeps: Dutch babies are our replacement for french toast. The flavor is very similar without using a loaf of gf bread on breakfast.

*DH found pure lemon oil, not an essential oil, at a cake decorating shop ~ perfect easy substitute for lemon zest. One of my favorite pantry staples.

Adapted from this recipe

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sneak peak at the 'bunk house'

We're halfway through my first solo flight. Daddy is on a work trip, and we're no longer three lone girls. The little man of the house is holding down the fort with both nap time and late night vigils {I can't fall asleep at 8:30 or sew until midnight. hmph. But I do get to cuddle with my son!}

Brother doesn't seem to mind princess night yet, so the tradition can continue for now. But it might not have to. DH set me up for this trip, working well into dusk before he left to finish his backyard build. Oh yes, it's not quite ready for the big reveal {I think he has a few decorative touches left}, but our landscaping has changed drastically to give the kids a wonderful, imaginative play area.

A sneak peak at the 'bunk house' {not sure where G came up with this moniker}:

 Several blogs suggest making your own odd size/shape blocks instead of buying them. I remember wondering if I was supposed to buy 2x4's and cut up random blocks. These pieces of splintery imagination are a lovely byproduct.

A pinhole peak, to be sure, but I really want to honor T's wishes to keep it hidden from the public until he's satisfied.

And what do the girls think??

They spent at least a couple minutes this morning making 'footprintses' in the sand {anyone else hear Gollum, 'filthy hobbitses'} and building a 'snow family' out of blocks before they found a bucket of water and some foam brushes. They abandoned the brand new, totally awesome fort to paint the patio with water {idea courtesy of Mr. Putter and Tabby}. As usual, they prefer 'the box to the toy.'

For right now.

We have years of play ahead of us. And they really do love their bunk house. We're just ill-tempered and quick to fight this morning. As if to make my point, Gwennan just yelled through many tears and sniffles, "Afton just bited me. She thought I was an apple, but I was really a little girl. Now I really will hit her."

I can't wait to show you the finished project. It's fabulous! I'm so impressed by my sweet hubby's handiwork. He's a keeper.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A gray joy

Dark gray storming morning. Lying in corpse pose after my first dedicated work out since bed rest. The instructor on my iPhone tells me to focus on my worries and embody them. Seems counterproductive, so I pray moving through the fruits of the spirit. Thank The Lord for his love in our hearts. Ask for peace to be sown in our home.

You missed one.

Pause to recite the verse: the fruit of the spirit is love, joy.

Oh yeah, joy. The little one. That was my mental cue when I was learning the list. Joy was the little word tucked in. Three letters easily missed. Especially on a rainy morning stretched out like a corpse.

Isn't it human how joy can be overlooked in what should be our most joyful seasons? We have a brand new baby. I should be dancing around the house, humming to myself like a scene from Lady and the Tramp.

That's not happening right now.

It's been a very hard year, truth be told. Our assertive bossy one hit the assertive bossy three's. Our emotionally volatile one hit the emotionally volatile two's. We've discovered that personality times developmental stage exponentially exaggerates and elongates the behavior phase. Grr...

Tim and I have been the easiest either. I've been sick and pregnant or recovering and exhausted. Add walking through some difficult, painful issues in our relationship. And saying goodbye to good friends and my grandmother.

I don't mean this to be a gripe list. But in an effort at openness, we're in a long difficult season.

I want to grin and bear it until the next birthdays. Then pray expectantly for an easier year. But the last time I decided I should be done with trials my cousin died and my dad underwent radiation treatment. I don't mention that because I believe God will smite me if I ask for a break. God is not petty.

But 'hanging in there' 1) does not create joy in the present 2) teaches me self-reliance not God-endurance 

And I have no promise that any light at the end of the tunnel is daylight.

But if The Lord is my light, I don't need the sun. Don't need the day. I can walk through the tunnel for the rest of my days and never walk in darkness.

The Christian life is not trial-free but trial-proof. ~~Mark Driscoll

What a depressing, intellectual post on joy. 

Maybe that's why joy is the small one in my estimation.

Why the only "joy" associations I could make during my meditation were a Christmas carol and a verse about suffering.

Maybe this is a huge gap in my everyday that needs some serious prayer and practice. Not a dogmatic self-command, rejoice, damnit, but a new understanding.

Once again I write with no answer.

No answer, yet.

Joy is one of his gifts for all Christians, even the cerebral blogging types.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Cutting paper hearts

We are all harshness, demanding tones, warning looks around here. Ugly mess. The big people keep looking at each other with sympathetic war time faces. This cannot be the new norm for our family.

This momma is exhausted, feet up, dishes stacking because I've tried to pull love up from my toes only to find I have none. Just clanging words squeezing through taut lips. Reflexive hugs after irritated gestures. But I still ask where did this attitude come from when Gwennan commands her sister to action.

Break to pray. Plead for love to come from him because my grace bank is broke.

Broke because I've forgotten the source of the love. We love because he first loved us, right. We are capable of love, servant, godly love because the God who is love have himself. We have that love poured into our hearts. Ahh, I see. Holy Spirit let your love flow through me to them. Where my attempts fail, Your love overpowers to bring peace.

My attempt to teach love ended with girls separated by a baby gate. Conflict avoided. And sometimes that artificial quiet is needed so momma can quiet her heart before her Father.

Beg forgiveness for believing I could fix this mess by trying harder to love

Beg for a feast of the first fruit of the Spirit

Beg for a way to show love for God's glory

{And what seemed like a silly gesture to a God directing the universe,}

Beg for an idea

A simple idea for a tired momma to engage her girls in encouraging them to love through the Spirit. A heart orientation not merely managed behavior.

I settle on Valentine's in August. Break out the glitter glue and stickers, the after-holiday clearance stamps and construction paper. We cut and color and paint a gallery of love reminders. Small one points to the blackboard we our memory verse is kept, Da fruit of da Spirit {holds up her index finger to count off the nineis love,

She stops there, smiling. Injection of encouragement. We carry on making gifts for each other.

When Big one shrills, Mother, I want juice now. Sounds just like Veruca Salt.

I didn't expect paper hearts to change real ones. My day is not shattered. The craft was a segue to family prayer. We bow heads and pray. Say our amens.

I sit back still thinking about where this horrible voice is coming from when the veil is pulled back to reveal a mirror. Foolish me has forgotten what my face looks like when I'm annoyed, forgotten what my voice sounds like when I'm ignored. Until a three year old mimics my tactics right back to me. Raises her voice and commands my attention. And what am I going to say? You may not talk to me like that! Echo her own tone right back? Do as I say, not as I speak.

Do you ever hear the Spirit say, Now you see it. Ugly, huh.

Love is behind this revelation. If I don't have love, I don't care. I settle for behavior modification. Enough correction and control to mask hypocrisy for a long time.

Only love opens the heart's eye wide enough to see the ugly.

Only love wipes that ugly clean. Not my love. His. His love changes my heart's beat.

Time for me to beg again.

Beg forgiveness from my children for abandoning the speech I teach

Beg a soft voice and face, the teaching of kindness on my tongue

We've made it to naps.

The girls responded instantly. They cleaned their room without incident, gratefully received their lunch, quietly hopped in bed, and politely requested a story.


Not at all.

The baby wasn't quiet either.

Lots of opportunities for me to practice a new heart beat. With more to come, I have no doubt.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

End of Summer reading

This has been the summer of the novel for me. I couldn't bring myself to rest and heal without a distraction. My book wishlist that I started building before Christmas has been struck through in short order, and several were too good to keep to myself. So if you are facing an end of summer beach trip or a last ditch effort at a tan, may I put forward for your reading pleasure:

The Last Telegram by Liz Trenow - A quick read about a british woman who inherits her family's silk factory during WWII. Along the same vein as The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Schaffer {also a favorite}.

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks - Another historical fiction about a small village as it copes with the plague. Brilliantly written - I plan on hunting down more of her books.

Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison - The story of Rasputin's daughter from her childhood with the infamous healer and the fall of the Russian monarchy to her career as a lion tamer {who could make that up??}. A slightly heavier read than the first two.

The Book Thief by Markus Zuzack - An orphaned girl's journey in Nazi Germany, the point of view is unusual and requires some getting used to, but the characters are deep. It gave me a new appreciation for what it might have been like to live under that regime and balance sympathy and your family's safety.

Moving out of historical fiction:
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson - could be entitled "how to come of age in your 70's," the characters deal in real issues and have honest failures. Her style is tragically humorous.

Little Bee by Chris Cleave - my heaviest read on the list, but a compelling look at the casualties of African civil war.

The two guilty pleasures:
World War Z by Max Brooks - run out to read this one before Brad Pitt messes it up! Zombies are not at all my thing, and I probably won't read another zombie novel, but Brooks' dissection of world cultures and how they would respond to an offensive crisis is brilliant.

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin - so far a 5 book series with the promise of 2 more. These books are hot right now, and they should be. A fantasy world as realistic as Earth itself {dare I say on par with Middle Earth??}. A word of warning: these are grisly books, full of war-time violence.

My pregnancy tradition:
Our Covenant with Kids by Timothy Sisemore - I read this every pregnancy to get my mind and heart back on track, focused on the end game not the daily process. An excellent way to prepare for a new little one or to find new strength with existing kiddos. Others like it: Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp

Finally, sermons by Spurgeon, 5 minutes of worshipful doctrine to right orient my heart. Free as an eBook.

The girls also made some marvelous library discoveries that will have to come another day.

Happy reading, mommas!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Noticing the time

A sweet friend tucked a set of 12 stickers that mark Carrick's age to be used in pictures. A simple way to mark the time. Her kids are now having kids. She appreciates the baby years in a way I can't see in the middle of them.

I looked at those little plaid celebrations, and thought who has the time?? A selfish, ugly heart reaction. As if everything else on my agenda is on par with open heart surgery.

I saw the same friend yesterday. She caught me preparing to stick my foot in my mouth with an I don't have the time - doesn't everyone know I'm in over my head comment.

This morning I broke out the stickers and placed the first one on brother's chest. He was crying. I was stressed about the state of breakfast foods and laundry piles. We snap a few pics with a camera-shy newborn, a crumpled sticker, and a flitting momma. I post them to Facebook to prove that I took them.

Status updated. My breath disappears.

One month is already come and gone. One month of 12 before he's a toddler, shoving chocolate birthday cake at his face and trying to follow his sisters on two feet. I thought Afton's first year was a blur, but Carrick's is lightening, excruciating quickness.

Immediately my schedule clears. Drop the laundry basket on the floor. Scoop my son from his bouncy seat. Cuddle together and reflect on this beautiful month. 

All we share is time. What more can I give my sweet boy but myself?

So thank you to a wise friend who gave me a gift to number our days.
1 short month later...



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