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Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Revision

Not sure if you ever do this, but when I decide I’m going to revise some facet of my life, I have a really hard time staying focused on the predefined responsiblity in the meantime. In today’s terms, I’ve decided that I’m going to update my blog and give it an address all its own.

The I in this scenario would better be stated as we…seeing that without my better half and his ability to master all things technological, this facelift would not be occurring. I have big and small ideas for my new virtual home, but mostly am just ready for a clean slate. There’s something beautiful about revision. In college I rearranged my dorm furniture about every two months. Is it possible to love revising while also loathing change? It must be.

All that to say, I’ve thought about posting countless times. But then, I stop myself – figuring that each of these virtual contemplations would be better suited for the new blog. And time ticks on. 

 

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Plan B

Today we were supposed to head north for the day to take in one of our favorite spots. It’s a magical place for us. There are tide pools filled with sea stars, tall Eucalyptus groves and miles of ocean bluffs to explore.  

Hailey hasn’t been there yet and it seemed as though this holiday was the perfect opportunity. Then, Phil’s throat started feeling funny. Prudence told us to stick to a more basic plan. And so, with a few tears behind us, we loaded up the car with simple snacks and explored a familiar path closer to home.

With kids comes the need to be flexible – to live it ourselves with the hope of modeling it for them. Sometimes this feels incredibly difficult. Other times, the beauty remains in tact. 

 

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The Bookshelf

I put myself on blog restriction a few weeks back; turns out this is a great way to get through paid work efficiently. With a mostly cleared out inbox I’m ready to resurface on the virtual front.  

My nightstand has a fairly neat stack of titles that continue to deplete my Post-It Tabs. It turns out that I’m just not a one-at-a-time book sort of lady. I’m okay with this. At moments I do question my behavior from the standpoint of  personal cohesion. Then I move on (and find something else to read). 

That as the backdrop, here’s some present day favorites.

 

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean my Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun  By, Gretchen Rubin

This one caught my attention right away. Rubin is a professional writer, a wife and a mother of two girls whose age span mirrors the H’s. She has no intention of pulling an Eat, Love, Pray on her family (which I appreciate) but also recognizes the merit in searching one’s soul and taking intentional steps towards a happier existence. Some nights my attention has waned, but generally speaking her ideas have challenged my own and left me with some solid takeaways (like committing to a 10:00 bedtime and pursuing the end of designing a new blog). 

One Thousand Gifts: Dare to Live Fully Where You Are  By, Ann Voskamp

Within the first few pages, I found myself taken by Ann’s craft; her transparency borders on unsettling, yet dares to move through the realm of grief and hope in ways I’ve never encountered before.  

National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of the United States, 6th Edition

Last month I came up with an idea. It was birthed out of my desire to leverage the lifestyle benefits of teaching the girls from home. Like any decision, it can become easy with homeschooling to focus on what makes that commitment challenging. I don’t want to chose that path.

Enter, the National Parks book. With a bit of research I learned that there’s 58 of them. Here’s my thought – how amazing would it be to see all of them as a family before we send Hannah to college! I figure we can circle back to some favorites with the littlest once her sister is gone.

Phil’s on board with only slight hesitation based on his deep appreciation for his goal-oriented, deadline-driven wife. He did make me promise that the Virgin Islands would be our 58th destination. I agreed.  We’re starting this spring with Yosemite and Sequoia. This summer we’re planning to visit Rocky Mountain National Park. I find myself floating somewhere between giddy, sentimental and totally fixated on how we’ll pull this off. 

 

Jayber Crow  By, Wendell Berry

Oh Jayber. This insightful and steady barber feels a bit like an old friend. I’ve found my pace for reading Berry’s novel to match that of his protagonist. Still, its story continues to resonate and challenge me. And so, I keep going. A few weeks back I found a quote that I fully intend to site in my own book someday.

“That grief should come and bring joy with it was not something I felt able, or even called upon, to sort out or understand. I accepted the grief. I accepted the joy. I accepted that they came to me out of the same world.”

 In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed  By, Carl Honore

I haven’t actually started this one. I checked it out from the library on the recommendation of my new friend Ann. Ann and I often find ourselves talking on the patio at church since neither of us have tapped into nursery care. The more I learn about Ann, the more I like her; she’s artistic, deep thinking and incredibly hospitable.  

She and her husband invited us over for dinner last weekend. It was one of those balmy January days where you’re tempted to call your friends who live in Colorado and casually bring up the weather.

They served up a grilled cheese bar on their barbecue. Imagine a nice loaf of sourdough with olive oil on hand to spray each slice of bread. There were various cheeses lining a wooden cutting board along with a plate of possibilities to add including but not limited to pesto, spicy mustard, fresh basil, tomato, avocado and prosciutto.

I kept my eyes out for a staff photographer from Sunset to show up.  Okay, not really. But in all seriousness, it was just such a nice evening as families that teetered harmoniously between comfortablity and class.

While this has very little to do with the book’s content, I’ll leave you with this; how could I not enjoy a read that was recommended from a woman who served kale chips right alongside bacon wrapped dates as appetizers for this fresh evening meal?

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Good Memoirs

“Most good memoirs turn out not to be about the memoirist at all. But always, the reader becomes a stand-in for the I, and the life of the I becomes the life of the reader, so no matter who is speaking, the successful true story is always the reader’s story on some level.”

– Bill Roorbach, Writing Life Stories

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Wisdom From the Sea

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“The bearing, rearing, feeding and educating of children; the running of a house with its thousand details; human relationships with their myriad pulls – woman’s normal occupations in general run counter to creative life or contemplative life or saintly life. The problem is not merely one of Woman and Career, Woman and the Home, Woman and Independence. It is more basically; how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel.”

– Anne Morrow Lindbergh from Gift From the Sea

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Advent

Advent. It is a season of anticipation and also exhaustion. In our home, we’ve had sweet moments around the table talking about peace and joy. These same moments have also included the toddler flinging food, baaing like a sheep and raising up out of her high chair declaring herself all done

Responding in part to my hate for clutter, an adventurous toddler and a large dose of personal conviction, our Christmas decor has been dramatically scaled back. It’s felt simple and right for us … until I took the girls on an evening walk and watched the seven-year old’s wide eyes take in the beautiful lights of the neighborhood with wonder … and I wonder … does her heart carry a bit of remorse deep down inside for her only marginally festive abode.

We’ve tried to keep the girl’s gifts to a minimum – treasures we hope they will love and that will take them to the places that only childhood can. We’ve attended a tree lighting, opened doors on our wooden Advent calender, read Scripture, created a Christmas library, decorated our gingerbread house, received Christmas cards, curled up with beautifully illustrated books, listened to Handel’s Messiah (the littlest loves this), celebrated when Grammie came to town, ate cookies, danced to the Nutcracker in our living room, caught colds, rested, recovered, visited a gingerbread house display, baked sweet bread, popped popcorn and warmed apple cider, caught more colds and still we wait.

We have one more week of school. I’m hoping to surprise big H with a trip to Reagan’s library next Thursday. They have trees decorated for each decade, something I know she would love. She’s supposed to sing a special part in church this Sunday. We’ve started the zinc routine once more. Today her throat is sore and I’ve declared it a pajama day.  She’s read, memorized state capitals, stared out the window and later listened to me finish out a book about George Mueller while braiding my hair.        

The rain is falling. The toddler is napping. The husband is working away at the business we both hope will thrive. The essence of this season is alive in our parts – an imperfect and often interrupted version, of course. I know it is. It sometimes feels muffled beneath life’s daily circumstances. Yet I have to believe it is here.

What blessed truths rest within those five small candles – that joy and happiness are not synonymous, that peace is not snuffed out by the craziness of this world and that the hope we’re talking about here moves well beyond the dreams of this world. He is coming. He came and He is coming back. What more could we ever ask for or imagine?

 

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Writers Read

As I continue to acclimate to teaching Hannah from home, I’ve grown increasingly restless to write. While it seems counterintuitive, I can’t seem to shake it. And so, I’ve found my way back to a book that I hope will bring some form to the latter of these equally compelling ends. Here’s what author Bill Roorbach has to say on page 20.

“Sunday night, pick a difficult or important or intriguing book from whatever source and assign it to yourself (sternly, if necessary) for the seven days ahead. And see to it the jobs gets done.”

Writing Life Stories: How to Make Memories into Memoirs, Ideas into Essays, and Life into Literature

Drawing from the most accessible of places (my own bookshelf) here’s my December/January reading list:

Green Hills of Africa – Hemmingway

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Three – Annie Dillard

In the Unlikely Event of a Water Landing -Christopher Noel

Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

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