Tuesday, February 09, 2016

14 ON 8: DAY IN THE WINTER LIFE

Especially since it is likely that my three littles will spend their days elsewhere come fall time, I want to remember what it was like to have a day with them.  Yesterday was a pretty good snapshot of our life.

8ish am: I went in to dress the twins for the day and found they have spread shoes and some clothing throughout the room.  All of the time.

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after 9 am:  For reasons only known to her, Bella decided she didn't want to go to childcare during my workout class.  Instead she sat and "read" her book and also did some laying.

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10:15ish am:  I had to get stamps and didn't have enough time to order them online, so I took everyone in.  They really enjoyed checking out all the shipping supplies.

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11ish am:  Target was also up on the agenda.  This meant a visit to the "potty potty potty" as Violet calls it and the delight of the hand dryer.  Then we had popcorn for everyone to drop on the floor.

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after 12 pm:  We drove through CFA (where else?) and ate lunch on our Lego-laden table.  I had a salad with a side of salad.  I love the new Superfood side!

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1:31 pm:  I worked on picking up the house while finishing up Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  I loved the book - though it is certainly not for everyone.  It's about a girl that writes fan fiction for a Harry Potter-like series and her first year of college.  I really liked the first Rainbow Rowell book I read - Eleanor and Park - I highly recommend it.  (though be warned, there is some language in both of these)

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(I also realized in the last month that you can speed up your audiobook!  I can listen faster - which is awesome.)

2ish pm:  I finished cutting up the kiddos Valentine's that I had printed at Target, and I'm so pleased.  They really were simple, and we're going to tape them to Airheads that I got from Amazon.  I totally copied this tutorial by Rage Against the Minivan.

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3:30ish pm:  I was finishing up my shower, so the girls gathered in the bathroom to look at our newest photo album from Shutterfly.

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5ish pm:  I caught both girls together during their gymnastics class.  I don't think I have serious gymnasts on my hands (no surprise), but they do enjoy Monday afternoons.

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6ish pm:  Dinner was almost done!  I've really gotten into roasting everything.  In the last year, my appreciation for vegetables tossed in EVOO and salt and pepper and then thrown in the oven has grown ten-fold.  They are so good!  And healthy!  And not hard!  All things that I need in my life at dinner time.

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7:15ish pm:  After bath brush through of Violet's hair.  I now know that I can really style Violet's hair, but I also know how hard it is to get her to stay actually still for any length of time.  So for now, I mostly Co-wash (conditioner only wash) her hair once a week, detangle it with leave-in conditioner, and then shingle (group curls together by running my fingers through) it with gel.  She sleeps with a cap on, and it looks cute with a bow in it during the days!  Works for us during this busy busy busy stage in Violet's life.

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almost 8 pm:  We watched a few music videos before bed and somehow landed on the classic "We are the World" from the mid 1980's full of every major music celeb of the time.  It was a trip, and the girls loved taking it with us.

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9ish pm:  Confession time.  I've been watching this season of The Bachelor, which I know perfectly well is a bit trashy, but I like it anyway.  It's mindless and fun and pretty and maybe he really will find love . . . or not.  John has watched a couple of episodes with me, and last night, we thoroughly enjoyed mocking the worst group date ever.  Who wants to swim with pigs in the Bahamas and feed them chicken hot dogs?  That is really what they did, and it turned so awkward, because that was the entirety of activity planned for them, which is not nearly enough for six women and one man to be entertained by for a whole day.  Obvs.

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10ish pm:  I headed downstairs to feed the kitty and had to walk through the Lego minefield that leads to our basement.  Maybe in this magical tidying process, we will get a better system than this.

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And that was my Monday during this February.  I know it will not always look like this, but for now - I'm thankful that it does.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

IF GATHERING 2016

This was my third year to participate in the IF Gathering (2015, 2014), and yet again, it was wonderful.  I attended the IF Local at our church with women from my small group all of which made it even better.

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I loved each of the speakers for different reasons and felt that God spoke to me through their words.  The premise of this year's conference was "What IF we lived like Jesus?"  It's an interesting question, because as I run my own life through that filter, I realize there are many places where it could be adjusted in that light.

As I came home to a wild night with kiddos and a very full Sunday, I still am trying to grasp what all my heart heard.  A few things stand out:

1) Water the grass you are standing on.

I've seen and heard this phrase before, but it rang especially true yesterday.  My season of life feels stressful and demanding, and it can be very easy for me to entertain thoughts like "in 2 years, things will be better" or "when this thing changes, then I'll be able to do more."  Eugene Cho hammered home the idea that following Jesus is ushering in God's kingdom on a daily basis.  And there is no time like the present and no place like here.  We are not guaranteed anything in the future, and if we don't dig in right where we are, we will be missing it.

Obviously, this is not new info.  But, it hit me in a new way.  I got a vivid visual in my mind depicting my rather strange looking toes surrounded by luscious green grass.  My grass can be green, because I can water it.  I can bring more gratitude to the table.  I can lower my expectations and rejoice in the good of the reality and the gifts that it brings.  Will some days and many moments still be challenging?  Yes and yes and yes again.  But, with the Lord's work in my life, I can change my perspective and attitude.  That is one of the only things I actually have consistent control over.

2) Jesus was straight scandal right out of the gates.

Jen Hatmaker was awesome as always, and I loved hearing her reminder that Jesus flipped things upside down.  As humans and in our flesh, none of us want to be on the opposite side of power, sitting outside the city gates.  But, that is where Jesus spent all of his time.  My mind flashed back to my 2016 words of "living lower", and I realized all over again how against the grain of my heart that really is.  I honestly like to be an insider.  However, if I'm going to align myself with Jesus - I need to cross some lines, starting in my heart.  And with lots of his help.

3)  There is no guarantee of the Ram, there is only the promise of the Lamb.

Angie Smith came on, apparently at the last minute, and her honest humility was such a joy to witness.  She read and spoke from Genesis 22 when Abraham and Isaac are headed up the mountain together, and Isaac asks where the lamb for the sacrifice is.  In verse 8, Abraham replies, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son."  After Isaac had been bound and Abraham's hand had been stopped by God, Abraham looked in a thicket and saw a ram to sacrifice instead of his son.  Abraham called that place, The Lord Will Provide.

I've heard this story more times than I could count, and Angie said she'd read it over and over again, when suddenly she saw something different.  Abraham mentioned that God would provide the lamb, but a ram is what showed up for that particular circumstance.  It's a beautiful foreshadowing of the Lamb of God who was intended to take away the sins of the world - he's the real promise.  And in that case - a ram was provided to save Isaac.

In life - a ram doesn't always show up at the perfect moment.  People that we love end up dying, though we have pleaded with God for their healing.  Unimaginable suffering that God could have prevented with a well-placed ram is part of our world and lives.  We look around in despair and find that things are exactly as bad as we fear, and there is no ram waiting in the thicket to be just what we need.

But though the ram may not come, the Lamb already did.  And he's coming again.  We have hope in the midst of the suffering.  That's the promise, and it has been fulfilled.  Thank you, Lord Jesus.

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Those are my top three take-aways, and I'm so thankful for the time to listen and be still before the Lord.  That is an unfortunate rarity in my world, and I certainly don't take it for granted.  Also - John deserves a gigantic shout-out for running the home front in my absence.  The kiddos had an awesome time at Bass Pro Shop, a friend's basketball game and eating lunch out - I'm quite certain they didn't miss me with a day like that.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

THINGS THAT ARE SAVING MY LIFE RIGHT NOW

You know, it's winter.  Winter winter winter.  Though the girls keep calling it Valentine's Day now that it is February.  Like the whole month is Valentine's Day.  I've mostly quit trying to explain the difference between a day and a season and major and minor holidays.  Whatever - we'll just celebrate all the things.

I regularly read the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog for her book recommendations and other musings on life, and she posed an interesting question - "What things are saving your life right now?"  As she points out, there are often things killing us, and they are easy to articulate.  (here are a few of mine)  But, I figured I'd take this opportunity to exercise some gratitude for the things big and small that are saving my life right here in the middle of winter.

1.  My Friends.  I know it may sound cheesy or cliche, but I get by with a little help from my friends.  I've got great friends near and far, and I'm so privileged to do life with women that I treasure.  This sun-drenched picnic lunch was one example of how life-giving friends are to me.  I would much rather do life and lunch with people I love.

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2.  Awesome new magical sippy cups.  They don't spill - like, ever.  They seem so high-tech and fancy, and the twins love them.  I also feel like this helps them get a little closer to drinking out of regular cups - though I am in no hurry for that day to come, only because of the spills that come with it.  You can get them here on Amazon.  (just thought I should tell you that it's not an affiliate link, because I have never figured that out, so i really get nothing out of the deal if you order, but they really are that cool.)  If you have young kiddos, get the new cups - they are life-saving.  And sticky floor saving.

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3.  Magical Tidying.  I keep talking about it, but it really is saving my life right now.  I'm finally actually putting all of the things in order, slowly, but surely.  And I love an organized rainbow.  Or two.  (Third rainbow of bows is in the littlest girl's room, and she was napping when the pictures were taken, and naps are always saving my life, so I decided not to interrupt that.)

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4.  Hearts.  I unashamedly love Valentine's Day.  For me, it comes at just the right time - smack dab in the middle of winter when I need and want something pretty to celebrate.  The LOVE mantle just makes me happy, and doily hearts are magic.

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5.  The gorgeous weather.  The last several days have truly been glorious, and I've been reveling in our high sixties and sun.  They are manna and salve and all of the good life-saving things.  And the kids can go outside.  Insert all the praise hand emojis.

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6.  Reading books.  In the past year and a half or so, my love for reading has been rekindled at full force, and I'm devouring books that I've never read before.  I think for most of the early years of motherhood, I forgot that authors keep writing new material and that myriad worlds and people await just by turning pages - or more often in my case, by pressing play for the audio.  When much of my time is spent doing jobs that occupy my hands, listening to books keeps my mind so happy.

7.  Podcasts.  I jumped on the Serial bandwagon last year and realized that podcasts were an amazing untouched marketplace for me.  As a double bonus - they are FREE!  I'm still just scratching the surface, and I've lately been binge-listening to The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey.  She's had on so many fun people, and it really does feel like conversations I would want to have.  I find myself almost chiming in, and then I remember that I am not actually talking with them.  That's the only bummer about The Happy Hour.

Those are just a few of the things that are saving my life right now.  Some of them, like the weather, will probably change by next week.  Or tomorrow.  My heart is full of gratitude for these things that help fill me up or make me smile or make my life just a hint easier.

Friday, January 29, 2016

THE END OF ANOTHER ERA: SCHOOL REGISTRATION

Today, I registered Bella for Kindergarten.  She's ready, and since she's as tall as my current first grader, she certainly looks and mostly acts the part.

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Registering Bella was drastically different from registering Lily.  First off, I totally forgot that it was happening this week, so I was scrambling a bit.  Secondly, I waltzed into the office, paperwork mostly filled out and greeted the people there that I have come to know.  I had Bella and Violet with me, so there was no time for tears - nor did any surface.  Instead, we got to have a potty break right there in the office in the middle of getting copies made.

On Monday, I also filled out paperwork for the twins to attend full-time preschool next year, so if things go according to the current plan, I will go from having three kids at home to none.  It will be a wild change of pace from the last seven years, and I'm sure it will feel both incredibly liberating and sentimentally sad all at once.  I'm praying for the Lord to lead me on the best ways to spend the time that will be opened up.  I'm sure I will not suffer from boredom.

People say that the days are long and the years are short, and I'm living this out day by slow day and year by fast year.  I cannot believe I registered Lily two years ago, and I remember standing there with the same woman trying to hold back the tears that were pressing hot in my eyes.  She must have thought I was crazy.  She now knows for certain that I am crazy, because she has seen me try to wrangle the three younger kids in to have lunch with Lily.

I do love our elementary school and have been thrilled with our teachers and experience there so far, which I am so thankful for.  School choice in Little Rock in a complex, tricky ordeal, but for us, so far, its been straight forward.  We feel strongly that public schooling is what God has for us right now, and its nice to feel confident in that.  Our school is amazingly diverse, and because our family is diverse, this is something that is really important to us.

So even though I am often having long days, I can see a change in the distance.  It makes me glad and sad, and in a good way, it helps me to be grateful for the time we have right now.  I won't miss carrying William around everywhere we go, but I will miss having his arms ready to hug me all the time.  It's safe to say that the twins are well attached to us at this point, and my heart sings with joy knowing that God has knit us together.  Change is coming - ready or not.  I think when it gets here, we'll be ready.