an incomplete list of small pleasures

/ scented markers
/ pudgy baby hand dimples
/ Kohl's cash
/ the first green in the spring
/ cars that start when you turn the key
/ your two year old singing
/ vacuuming
/ Yankee Macintosh candle
/ the first trees changing color in the fall
/ when your daughters nap at the same time
/ supper with your family
/ the sound of a softball popping in a glove
/ writing with pen and paper
/ the first snow fall
/ reminiscing
/ having a solid chunk of time to read a book
/ making cookies with your daughter
/ the smell of a baby's head
/ running water
/ the sound of a keyboard
/ a big backyard
/ laying by the pool on a hot summer day
/ quiet time in the Bible
/ an evening with good friends
/ hanging out with your husband and enjoying it
/ a bookstore
/ drinking coffee with a good friend
/ spending time with your sister
/ creating
/ being covered by a canopy of trees
/ oreos and whole milk
/ good pens
/ your children's laughter
/ road trips with your husband
/ ice cream cake ;)

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I've mentioned loving Donald Miller's "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" book before, and from this book he spawned Storyline: click HERE to see what it fully is. Basically, the idea is to help people realize the stories they are telling with their lives, and how our stories are all subplots to God's bigger Story; learning how to redeem the low points, and to learn to tell great stories with our lives. I've really been wanting to go through this process, or at least attend one of Miller's conferences, and I was super excited to find out our church was going to be doing the curriculum.

We are still in the early stages, and it does require a decent bit of work and reflection, but it's been great. One of my favorite things has always been hearing other people's stories, and watching people realize that they have an important story to tell! [I tried to get Brent to let us name a daughter Story for this very reason, but he declined. Party pooper.] When I was teaching writing to teens, it was interesting that many felt they didn't have anything "worthwhile" to share. I chose the word interesting because as a whole teens tend to be pretty self-centered and think very highly of themselves, and yet it didn't translate to their stories. Especially the broken ones. But when some of them would finally open up, and see how others responded to their stories, it was like dominoes--- they got it! Our lives are important! They do matter! We are powerful!

The first part of this Storyline process has been to write down a timeline of our "life turns." Life turns are basically points in our story/life that have had a significant impact on us, both positively or negatively, after which we are not left the same. After plotting these out, we are asked to come up with a theme for our life.

I am naturally introspective and reflective [I mean, I have a blog]. I've thought through, and even written about, many of these highs and lows before, but to see them all laid out chronologically and see the undulation was interesting: Things that should have been HIGHS felt very low at times [like moving "home", or after I had Blythe]. But figuring out and seeing my life's theme throughout it all did have redemptive power.

And so, as I dive into this process, I wanted to write about here in this space as well.

After creating my timeline and talking through it with Brent and others, the "life theme" I came up with is this:

God is faithful and is calling me to live in community with and lead/teach others. 

As I reflected, I saw that God is faithful even when 
/ I question Him/ don't understand [like when Bob was killed: which I've written about here and here]
/ I doubt his guidance/ placement [like when we moved: which I've written about here here here here]
/ I hurt [like after Blythe: which I've written about here]
/ I sin  [and receive grace like here]
/I am weak [ reflected on here
/ I seek comfort over His will [more here here and here]
/ Bad things happen [various examples that I'm sure you can find in your own life] 

I also noticed that living in community, or as I sometimes refer to it-- living messy with others--, is important especially when
/ I'm going through change [like when we had our "lifers" over for the first time: here]
/ I'm making big decisions
/ I need to lead/teach [ I've written a lot about my journey teaching: here here here here and can scroll through here]
/I'm just living. I need people. [Like I reminisced about here. ]

I don't know how much I'll blog about this process, but I would like to document some more of it here. 

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an open letter to the girl walking down the street doing the macarena

Dear Girl Walking Down the Street Doing the Macarena:

I see you there, in your youth-fresh skin, hearing something others have long ago quit listening to. I'm not talking about the early 90's tune to which you were so clearly doing the motions-- an art long forgotten in itself, might I add-- but rather the music of your soul.

I'm almost thirty, and it's been a long time since my hip bones and knee caps protruded through my skin like I see yours doing now, flesh taut across barely there, gangly limbs, but I do remember dancing once. I remember hearing music where others heard none. I remember not thinking about the people in the cars whizzing by; not thinking about any other people, but just dancing. 

I'm going to be honest: someday someone is going to make fun of your hair bow. Its size. Its loudness. Its pizazz. But hear this-- please keep wearing it.

Someday someone is going to say you're odd, or different. Or, if they are trying to hide it in a compliment they will say you are "unique." At school you will see banners that say, "Be yourself!" but you will feel the walls pushing in that whisper, "If you're weird, then don't be yourself." They will taunt, "THIS is what normal looks like. And this? THIS is what YOU look like." Please ignore them. Those voices will be the ones that make you stop dancing on the sidewalk.

I only saw you for about 10 seconds, and then you were a blur in my review mirror. But I wanted to turn around and tell you all these things. I wanted to get out of my mini-van, out of my adulthood, out of my follow-these-rules head, and do the Macarena with you. I wanted to introduce your heart to my little girls who were in the back seat.

It may be a few years before you study Thoreau, but he once wrote: "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears the beat of a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however distant or far away."

Keep listening for that beat, Girl Walking Down the street.
Keep listening.


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better than...

I haven't been writing much.
Like really writing.

I used to have my students write nearly every.single.day and I burned it into their brains that If you write every day you get better at writing every day. And I would write with them. And I would ache to write.

I want that ache to continue because it is something I enjoy. It is a gift I have been given. Brent has been pushing me and encouraging me to write more and see what God might do with it.

And, so I don't just write about ice cream cake every day on this blog, I found a really great site where a teacher has posted some really unique and thought provoking prompts. [www.writingprompts.tumblr] I may use some of these to get me back in the writing game a bit. We will see what time two babies and softball season allow.

For today, a quick one:

Wendell Berry said: 
Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup. 

So I say:

Better than any fear is the grasp of a grandparent's hand, wrinkled with wisdom and time.

Better than any party is the laughter of your child, ringing in your ears.

Better than any food is the taste of springtime bursting through the dead of winter.

Better than any worry is the feel of thunder in your chest.

Better than any distress is the loud quiet of solitude and rest.

Better than any unfulfilled dream is the hope of trusting you are still under construction.

Better than any scent is the embrace, quiet and warm and trusting, of the one you first loved.

Better than any victory is the soft smell of her head as it sinks into your chest, fast asleep.

Better than any memory is the waking to an eager new day.

What would you add ? 

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what makes a day better

You know how somedays are just ordinary and you may eat breakfast, do what you do, slurp down lunch, do what you do, then have some supper, do what you do, then go to bed?

And then you know how other days you get to eat ice cream cake? And you know how those days that you get to eat ice cream cake are SO MUCH better?

There are very few things in life better than Dairy Queen ice cream cake for a celebration. Am I right? The answer is obviously yes.

My first birthday after we were married, Brent surprised me at school with an ice cream cake. At 9 in the morning because that was my planning period. Ice cream cake at 9 in the morning? Best idea he ever had.

We try to think of any reason to have ice cream cake in my family. Birthdays are the obvious go-to times.

But there are lots of other times you can convince others to partake of an ice cream cake if you're creative. Retirement party? Of course. Just completed a tri-athalon? Better get a cake. Had a baby? Definite cake time. Won a state championship? Cake! Cake! Cake!

But keep going. You can do even better than that! Groundhog's Day. Celebrating changing the oil in your car. First day of deer season. ICE CREAM CAKE!!!

Your neighbor's friend's half birthday.
The first day you can wear sandals in the spring.
When your son gets his driver's license.
When your daughter says "Mommy" for the first time.
When you wake up to your alarm without hitting the snooze once!

Also, the more gel-frosting the better.
Also, don't be one of those people that eats it in layers. Just don't.

 Are you seriously asking, "What is the point of this blog post?"
The point is ICE CREAM CAKE.
That is all.

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what has changed

Today when I had to use the restroom,  I had this thought:
Obviously life changes in BIG ways when you have children, but it also changes in a million little ways that you eventually forget were ever not normal for you and they become second nature. 
Yes, I think in run-on-ish sentences. Don't we all?

So here are a few of those millions of little ways my life has changed since March 23, 2012:

- I rarely set an alarm because MOST days my kids will wake me up well-before I need to be anywhere. 
- A "productive day" happens when I get both kids asleep at the same time for naps and bedtime. Bonus if they have both gotten a bath at some point during the day. Triple bonus if I had a chance to vacuum and/or do a load of laundry. 
- I don't shut the bathroom door. Ever. It's always open. And when I'm at someone else's house, I almost forget to close the door every.single.time. 
- Multi-tasking while driving has become even more necessary [and dangerous]. 
- I sing WAY more. 
- I make WAY more animal sounds and hand gestures. Okay. Maybe not the hand gestures. I did that before kids too. 
- Getting myself "ready" for the day, even if I have to get "dressed up" for something, is way less important and I have to stop what I'm doing about ten times. It's amazing I haven't ever left the house with only one set of eyelashes properly masacara-ed [yet]. 
- I worry more about having fruits and vegetables around. 
- I wear functional shoes. 
- I wipe up WAY more bodily fluids. 
- I sometimes go days before I remember I haven't even gotten the mail. 
- Did I mention I never shut the bathroom door? 
- When I'm away from my own children and I hear a baby cry, I automatically think it is my child, and then remember they aren't with me. 
- I light more candles because, you know, the bodily fluids. 
- I write less but document more. 
- I get many, many, many more hugs and smiles and sloppy kisses.
- I color and create more. 
- I laugh more. 
- I cry more. 
- I hurt and fear in ways I never knew possible. 
- I dream in ways I never knew possible. 
- I am so excited to sleep. [Okay, probably hasn't changed much]
- I never knew I could get so happy to see a baby poop [both my kiddos have been constipated as babies]
-I often don't turn the radio on in the car when I'm by myself.
- I eat a lot more animal crackers. 
- I find trips to the grocery store or visits to the doctor by myself cathartic. 

But mostly my life has changed because
I feel like my heart is beating in two different little bodies. 

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four months of Becks

month ONE
month TWO
month THREE

she always clenches her little feet and toes together like this

Weight: This is why I waited a couple days to post; I was waiting for Becks' official appointment so I could report: 12.68 lbs. Let's go ahead and call it 13, shall we? 

Clothes and Diapers: We are all over the place with clothes. Some 0-3 stuff, mostly 3 month, a few small 6 month stuff that fits her loosely. She's still in size 1 diapers, but I think size 2 will happen soon-ish. And might I add here, I have yet to buy a single diaper for her? People were so generous at our showers back in the spring and every time we run out I simply go to the closet and get another package. It's incredible. I have a couple packages left, and this blessing is not lost on me, so thank you for those that have contributed. 

Eating: Still can't complain here. She eats 5 times a day. The late one is already seeming more and more unnecessary for her, which seems crazy. I'm a little hesitant to drop to 4 already, so we will stick at 5 for awhile. She is having to take more bottles now that softball has picked up, and she likes her bottles very warm and if the temperature doesn't suit her she lets you know. If it gets the least bit cool, Brent has to reheat it. I hate the word diva, but… [I wrote this about 4 days ago: so UPDATE: she is fighting the bottle completely now! We are working on some solutions to this, I'll update soon but it's been a bit stressful]

Sleeping: She started to fight the swaddle and would break free and wake herself up, or she would get really mad and wake herself up. So we decided to set her free! About a week ago we started to just swaddle her legs and gave her a "magic" blanket like Blythe's. We went through a rough day and a half. The night was, well, we didn't sleep. But the next night? The next night Becks proved she is amazing yet again and she slept! Partially unswaddled! Her morning nap is usually less than an hour, but her afternoon nap is 2-3 hours. Her evening nap is a half hour to an hour. And then she goes down for the night after 7….before 9. Somewhere in there. Depends on our day. She has started waking up at 4 every morning, but we can usually settle her back in and she sleeps until 7/8. 

Blythe on right at 5.5 months. I don't see much resemblance in this one. 

accomplishments/ Things to note:

\she likes her pacifier again [usually-- unless we have recently tried to give her a bottle, then she refuses it]
\ she smiles much more willingly now, and immediately smiles at Brent 
\ she laughed for the first time at Blythe when Blythe was saying, "Ya-ba-dab-a- dooo!" to her
\ Rolled from back to stomach for first time on August 25th.
\ Rolled from stomach to back on August 28th.
\ I still won't say she's "rolling over". It takes a lot of coaxing.
\ She and her sister are getting along very well with Katie, their babysitter that comes for about an hour everyday during softball season
\ favorite story: at her doctor's appointment: Blythe had to come with us and I was a little concerned about how she would react to Becks getting her shots. I warned her that they would makes Becks cry a little, but that she could help her feel better. As soon as the nurse gave her the shots [I'm always amazed at how quickly they can do it!], Becks started screaming, tiny little tears trying to push out from her squeezed lids. Blythe popped right over, took her hand, and started singing, "Stop your crying, it will be alright. Just take my hand and hold it tight. I will protect you from all around. I will be with you, don't you cry..." The sheer velocity of that moment about knocked me over. I've never been one to cry when my kids get shots, but I about lost all control when those little hands intertwined in my lap. 

It is non-stop affection from Blythe. "No, mama. Don't feed her!  I need to kiss her!"

Joan let me borrow this sweet bonnet and outfit from Brent's sister's old stuff. 

This picture is dark but I still think it is precious

her eyes kill me! 

left to right, top to bottom: one month, two months, three months, four months

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