Friday, January 30, 2015

Five-Minute Friday: Wait

1. The paint can has been sittting in the laundry room for about a year and a half. We were all enthusiasm when we bought it, totally committed and ready to change the world (or at least the room). I think we're no longer sure the color is the right color, despite the one already boldly optimistic green wall among its vaguely depressed beige neighbors. I'm feeling impatient to get it done- tired of waiting, I guess, although I don't know what exactly I'm waiting for.

2. The clock on top of the piano seems to decide each evening to move at half its normal speed. The kids' play goes into warp fast forward, but Time drags as 6:00 pm approaches...creeping, inching upward, the minute hand imitating a sloth, as if it is playing statue and trying not to be caught in the act of motion. I'd give anything for the sight of headlights turning into the driveway- I jump with anticipation every time I hear a car door, and I keep checking the front window to see if he's here yet.

3. Standing outside the van, shivering, I hunch my shoulders against the bitter wind and wonder why on earth she can't hurry just a tiny bit when she is putting on her seatbelt. I know I could have done it eight times by now, but she wants to do it herself, and any attempt on my part to help her will only result in a mind-blowing, time-stopping tantrum, which just means it will take even longer to be ready to leave.

I was never very good at waiting. I keep singing that old song about the snail to myself, hoping one of these days it will take.

Five-Minute Friday is a chance to write for five minutes in response to a one-word prompt without worrying, over-editing or backtracking. It's finger painting with words, kind of the way we used to color without feeling anxious about staying inside the lines. We share our work over at Kate Motaung's blog- you can go there to check out more and to share your own writing.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real {p,h,f,r}

Sometimes I do this thing where I think, "Oh, I'll link up with Auntie Leila for {p,h,f,r} and get a quick post in."

That is NOT a good way to get in a quick post. I end up scrolling through photos and playing with filters, and before I know it, nap time has evaporated and all the children are clamoring for snacks.

Snacks are important. More important than blogging. So today, I am actually doing a quick post with some hastily taken photos. Then I'm going to lie on the sofa with a book and a cup of tea and probably fall asleep.

It's not the book's fault that I'll fall asleep. We can safely blame my tiredness lately on binge-watching episodes of Once Upon A Time on Netflix. I know- I should know better than to stay up too late- but it is just so good! 

The book I'm buried in now is Alessandro Manzoni's The Betrothed. It is long. I was concerned that it would be too dense. So far, though, it is a surprisingly fascinating page turner. I am glad I decided not to try to keep up with those of you who are reading Les Miserables right now, though...this is enough heavy-tome-with-small-print to last me a while.

The print is small enough, in fact, that I finally had to admit defeat and get reading glasses. They're the cheap-but-not-cheapest ones from Target (because the largeheadedness trait shared by all my children didn't come to them in a vacuum, and I had to spring for the spring hinges to be comfy).


I think they are zebra print. The case is definitely zebra print. Whatever...I made it this far without owning any animal print but a bathrobe. I'll survive. 

That's real, y'all. 

I get dizzy when I look away from the book if I'm wearing them. Eyeglass Wearers- does that go away? (And yes, I know I should get my eyes checked by a professional. We shall call this a stopgap measure.)


I have a thing for bright colors, especially in my kitchen. Lately, our glasses have all been breaking - I guess they have finally realized they are cheap (from Target and IKEA) and that we have had them for almost 14 years. Anyway, they need replacing, and rather than go out and buy a whole set of matchy ones, I've decided to finally just get what I've always wanted: vintage sour cream glasses. I'm piecing together a collection a bit at a time. 

I plan to drink nothing but water (and possibly lemonade) from now on, because they are just so lovely. 


The kids and I spent the morning today on the sofa, reading book after book after book. This is the best way to spend a chilly morning, of course, but it is somewhat rare that all four of them agree to do it together. SuperSam said (when we finally had to get up for lunch), "This is my idea of a perfect day."

That's my boy. 

I recently discovered the blog StrongHaven, where Lizzie is doing a fun challenge to read 365 picture books this year. We are starting out late, but we almost never read just one picture book at a sitting, so we are joining up. I will keep a list on the blog of what we have read (under the "Bookshelf" tab, which isn't there yet, but will be soon). We are also participating in Read-Aloud Revival's Read Aloud Streak (mostly because we already read aloud every day, and I thought it would be fun to see the calendar fill up with marks).

It's sometimes hard to be a recovering Type A stay at home parent. It's an ongoing challenge for me (anyone else?) - so much of our work is repetitive and so much of what we do is hard to quantify. Rather than ignore my Type A-ness and feel frustrated about it, I'm focusing on relaxing and enjoying my time with my kids while indulging my need for checklists when I can. A reading streak is right up my alley. Think of all those little rows of boxes, each neatly marked with its makes me kind of tingly just thinking about it.


This is an old one. That's what happens when I do a photo post. Anyway, the twins! Look how little they are! And matching sweaters! They're feeding each other mint leaves from our garden. This was at the height of their toddler naughtiness, and it's good to look back now and see that those days were actually short-lived. Hang in there, Rosie, and other twin toddler moms. It gets better. Soonish. And then you get this:

If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that they are Laura and Mary Ingalls celebrating Christmas. Obviously.

Linking up with the folks at Like Mother, Like Daughter today (and if you haven't heard Auntie Leila's interview on the Fountains of Carrots podcast, you should. Really. I consider that interview a help to my ongoing effort to focus on what is pure, lovely, excellent and praiseworthy.)

Happy Thursday!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Five-Minute Friday: Share

There is still a little bit of Christmas left around here...mostly the kind I've hidden away in a drawer because it's too nice for the kids to eat. It has a high cacao content, or it was expensive, or my friend/mother/husband gave it to me (just to me) special because I really, really like chocolate.

I never meant to be that mother who hides in the laundry room with a handful of chocolate chips on a particularly tough afternoon. Some days, like today, the constant bickering and hair-pulling and shoving and tattling can make a mama cry. Sometimes, I do. Sometimes, I yell instead. Today, that bit of Christmas in the kitchen seemed just the thing.

So I got it out. I whacked it to break it apart, I carefully peeled back the foil, and I passed out smooth, fruit-shaped wedges to each of them. "Let's share it," I told them. After we'd licked our fingers (and I'd washed mine) I played all their favorite songs until they were yawning and heavy-eyed. 

The house feels peaceful. No one is yelling or crying. It might have been the Christmas...or it might have been the sharing. Either way, I'll take it.

Five-Minute Friday is a chance to write for five minutes in response to a one-word prompt without worrying, over-editing or backtracking. It's finger painting with words, kind of the way we used to color without feeling anxious about staying inside the lines. We share our work over at Kate Motaung's blog- you can go there to check out more and to share your own writing.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Five-Minute Friday: Welcome.

The first lines of dawn are writing themselves on the sky as we pull in, gravel crunching under tires, rubbing sleep from our eyes and unfolding ourselves from the seats. There are twenty-four hours of music and audiobooks and Waffle House coffee and McDonald's bathrooms behind us. Bed-shaped, we stumble toward the house, carrying pillows but leaving suitcases for later. Before we even reach the door, they are there, pouring out into the barely-light, arms wide open and faces beaming, their eyes scanning every inch of us to see how much we've grown.

They're here! There they are! You made it! Awww...just look at you!

Hands reach out and pull us into warm pajama hugs, taking our pillows and coats, guiding us into the house, into the familiar smells of coffee and old books and family. As one aunt points us toward the room that is always ours at the end of the hall, another is following with luggage, and the third is hurrying ahead to plump pillows and smooth blankets on a bed that is already warm, I realize they are giving up their beds for us at barely four in the morning.

Aren't you going back to bed? I ask, concerned about the early hour in spite of my exhaustion.

I think I'll get a head start on the sausage biscuits, she tells me, eyes crinkling with the pleasure of a good welcome.

Five-Minute Friday is a chance to write for five minutes without over-editing, backtracking, or worrying, just for the love of the process and to see what happens. After we write, we share with the rest of the community of word-lovers over at Kate Motaung's blog. Come visit her to read more Five-Minute Friday writers and to share your own writing, if you want to play along!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

an Epiphany playlist just for you

I made you a little something. Happy tenth day of Christmas! Here's a little playlist of our favorite songs celebrating the wise men, the star of Bethlehem, and the ongoing feast of Christmas. Enjoy.

Is your family doing anything special for Epiphany? You could catch up on your Christmas picture book reading with these booklists from Two Os Plus more and Molly Makes Do or make preparations to bless your house for the new year. We missed doing this last year, but we have everything ready for participating in the tradition on Sunday night.

Whatever you do, if you're still celebrating Christmas, you're in good company. Just because the world has mostly moved on (with Valentines and Easter candy already out in our local superstore), we can still enjoy what remains of the feast of Christmas.

Want to read more about when Christmas really ends? Try this article from Aleteia.

And for a personal epiphany post from one of my favorite bloggers, try this post from Micaela at California to Korea about the accidental New Year's resolution that changed her life.

Happy Epiphany to you and yours (and Christmas, ongoing)!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Five minutes. Then five more.

It is finally nap time, and I'm leaving the lunch dishes in the sink to write for five minutes.

My trusted confidante says my five-minute writing is some of my best. That's good, because I can grab five minutes here and there. I can't always count on more than that right now.

What's five minutes, out of a whole day? How insignificant is five minutes on the second day of a new year? It's not a lot. On the first day of the year, the extra weight of intention seems to make those five minutes heavier, as if they count double, at least. 

An ordinary five minutes on a regular day, though, is not much time in which to scribble words, sketch thoughts, draw out hopes and dreams to embellish the bare-framed year stretching out ahead.

But maybe this is how we do the things that matter. Maybe this is how we enter in, lay the groundwork. Maybe this is how we claim our lives and steer them in the direction we want them to go. Maybe this is how to follow a calling. Not in large chunks of carefully-planned time, but in little found clumps of minutes.

Do you have hopes to change things this year? I'm not really a resolution person, but I often pause this time of year to evaluate how things are working and see if anything needs tweaking. This year, I'm hoping to be more intentional and less reactive by cultivating several habits:

1. Write daily for five minutes.

2. Speak more gently and sing more often than I yell. 

3. Use social media with intention (instead of mindlessly scrolling through).

How about you? Do you make resolutions or set goals for the new year? What's on your list?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year.

It is the end of the first day of 2015, and I'm still in my pajamas. Almost all of us are. Everyone is still recovering from the ring-around-the-rosey virus that has run through our household this Christmas. (When one of us got it, we all fell down.)

(insert drum and cymbal sound here)

(Sam feels a sad trombone sound would be more appropriate.)

Anyway, I'm normally quite efficient at executing this first day of the year. I totally believe all that stuff about intention and habit and momentum and how we spend our days being how we spend our lives. I'm a planner and an organizer and a recovering Type A stress case.

Today is the least productive New Year's Day I can remember.

There are piles of things everywhere. We had fast food for breakfast because we haven't been to the store. The house needs cleaning and I ought to do laundry again. This afternoon, instead of going for a run, I took a nap with the baby.

Now the sun is setting on the piles of a string of days in a life lived but not cleaned up.

I could get really grumpy about this and fly around the house, setting everything on end and vacuuming the joy right out of here.

What I'm choosing, though, is gentleness. To handle myself gently. To handle my people gently. We are all recovering, and we deserve to be treated carefully. I'm choosing to handle my home gently...the joyful chaos of Christmas (which it still is, after all! Happy eighth day!) takes a while to subside and be absorbed into our routine. I can treat messes and imperfections and frustrations and obstacles gently instead of attacking them with my usual fervor. Gentle is the way to be right now. I'm choosing to embrace it instead of struggling against it.

In every church we have entered this Christmas, my children have asked to visit Baby Jesus. With surprising piety, they have knelt carefully in front of each crèche, folded their hands, and spoken tender words to the baby in the manger. All their exuberant Christmas energy has seemed to direct itself into those several small moments of holy quietness, a small triad gathered together before the manger, sibling squabbles temporarily forgotten. 

Although I'm taken with the beauty of the scene (and the sweetness of my children in front of it), I've been thinking about my own recent-born baby boy (five months old today!)...of the stream of visitors in his first weeks of life, of the joyous challenge of being the one to receive those who are there to see the baby. 

Everyone is there to hold and meet the baby. His mother just points the way. 

And today, on the first day of the new year, I feel her gently pointing me toward him. 

"Here he is. Be gentle."

As I receive Baby Jesus into my arms, I resolve to remember those small ones entrusted to me. Each of them is Christ-in-the-least, a tiny person in need of my love and care. I will remember to treat them gently, with nurturing kindness instead of hurried efficiency, as a gentle mother once cradled her child in a stable.

And while I'm at it, I resolve to extend the same grace to myself.

Happy New Year to each of you and to your dear ones. May we all handle our gifts with care, whoever and whatever they are.