23 November 2015

then she said

"Does the sky have a belly button?"
-working on anatomy facts

 "I close the curtains so we can fall Zoe asleep!"
-helping her sister take a nap

"I want to work with Daddy in the garage. And I want a pink hammer and pink nails and pink screws."
-big plans for her home improvement career

"Can you draw a blue elephant?"
"Can you draw your toothbrush?"
"Can you draw Daddy's swimsuit?"
"Can you draw a sad egg?"
 -commissioning crayon art from her mother

Jared: Do you like your lollipop?
Ellie: No, it's a CANDY.

Me: Ellie, I am in charge because I am the mommy. You are not the mommy.
Ellie: I'm the Ellie?
Me: Yes.
Ellie: You can be the Ellie. I will be the grandma.

Jared: What did you do today?
Ellie: Grocery store!
Jared: And what did you get there?
Ellie: Oh, just some things.

Ellie: I want my cantaloupe!
Me: Your what?
Ellie: My cantaloupe!
[I look around and then realize]
Me: You mean your envelope!
Ellie: Yep. My cantaloupe.

Jared: Ellie, do you want to run an errand with me?
Ellie: Ooh! What we gonna pick out?
Jared: We're going to get some tools.
Ellie: Shoes?! 

[as she assists me in the kitchen]
Me: Good job stirring!
Ellie: Good job tasting!

Jared: Hey, where's my knife?
Ellie: I take it! [displays proudly]
Jared: And where's my fork?
Ellie: Oh, it's all gone! You can use your hand.

Ellie: Can we go to grandma's house?
Me: We don't have a car today, so we can't go anywhere.
Ellie: Yeah, our car blow up.

26 October 2015

Family snippets

To begin, I'll point out that this is only the second post I've written all month. Draw your own conclusions about my busyness level. Sitting down at the computer with the adorable monsters munchkins both awake is a joke: Ellie wants to sit on my lap and type, or share my tea, or watch Little Einsteins, while Zoe makes a beeline for a trash can or a bookcase or a set of electrical outlets. She is a troublesome monkey, as we tell her ten times a day (she responds with a brilliant five-toothed grin and crawls off to find something else to destroy).

Therefore, save for this magical Sunday afternoon, since they're sleeping simultaneously and I don't need to do chores . . . no blogging for me.

I'm fine with that now. I fought it for months, but just this week, reached the blindingly obvious conclusion that I no longer live in the Writing Frequently chapter of my life, and I shan't live there again for years. Forcibly wedging my blog into the current chapter-- which we might title Loving My Babies and Not Doing Much Else-- is a terrible idea. I will not live under that self-imposed burden anymore.

It's remarkably freeing. Without realizing it, I had come to believe that if I wasn't maintaining my wee space on the internet, I was letting myself down. Maybe I was even letting God down. He gave me the gifts and desires that launched this blog, didn't he? So if I didn't keep writing, I would be losing an essential part of myself. And-- I think due partly to my generation's congenital compulsion to Change the World and Make a Difference-- wasn't I supposed to be aiming high? If I contented myself with ordinary life, life without an interesting internet presence and a significant project, I could fail to achieve my full potential (which may be the fate we millennials fear above all else).

All false, and absurdly so. I've got a billion things to do. They're extremely ordinary but God gave them to me, which makes them quite precious. They concern the physical needs of my family, the care of our lovely home, the kindness I can show to friends and neighbors. And it turns out that they are essential things, even when I'm not telling the internet about them. Shock! Amazement!

So I'm going to march along my noisy little road of mothering and home-keeping, without a keyboard hanging round my neck like a millstone, and without trying to measure up to the movers and shakers. Or anyone else, for that matter. I believe that God is calling me to do something significant, but I no longer think that "significant" means "affecting lots of people and accompanied by beautifully composed pictures." He sees. He cares. He blesses. That is sufficient.


On to the girls, because while I'm at it, I may as well describe what they've been up to.

Ellie: always learning and imagining. If she isn't asleep, she is either talking or singing. (Lacking a song for the occasion, she makes one up.) Her chatter exhausts me but it's also insightful and funny. And she's only two! Who knows what she will be coming up with next.

The child has limitless energy, which, paired with my emotional hunger for sunshine, has led me to make a point of spending time outside every day. Sometimes I just send her into the yard, where she loads rocks into her giant Tonka dump truck and spies on squirrels; I come out to uproot bedraggled hostas and plant tulip bulbs. Sometimes we go for a morning promenade around the block, and if so, we often end up at the playground down the street.

Indoors, she likes to draw and use scissors, build "tall tall towers," crumble playdough all over the floor, look at books, have books read to her, beg for snacks, dance until she falls on her face, make Zoe laugh, steal toys from Zoe, play with her pretend kitchen, and help me in the real kitchen. We went on vacation to the Outer Banks at the beginning of October, and by the end of the week she was leaping into the pool like the waterbug she is. Now that we're back home she must make do with splashing wildly in the bathtub.

Ellie has been successfully potty trained, which feels like a whole new phase in motherhood. A good phase, except for when I'm hunting for a bathroom because someone announced "I NEED TO POOP!" in the middle of the grocery store. Her vocabulary, her skills, and her ideas all make it impossible to think of her as a baby or even a toddler anymore. We have a real Big Girl in the house.

Zoe: always exploring and discovering. Too clever to keep tabs on. We barricaded the staircase with furniture but she finds a way to push it aside. She pokes her nose into every cabinet she can find. She knows when you are eating something, and flaps her arms unhappily until you share. I guess you could say she's making her presence known! At nighttime too, unfortunately. She had been sleeping pretty soundly, but several weeks ago she started a dreadful teething/growth spurt period when she would wake up 4-6 times a night. What a headache. Thankfully, she is settling down and has only gotten up twice for the past several nights. That much, I can handle.

She has learned how to imitate us-- if we click our tongues, smack our lips, or make a silly face, she does it right back. Sometimes she attempts to clap. Though she doesn't babble as much as Ellie did, she has a very loud voice when she does choose to use it. Again, I think she's just making her presence known, which is not an easy feat with her explosive older sister around.

Two children feels like a lot of children, these days. They're gorgeous and smart and loving them is a full time occupation.

03 October 2015

Weekend linkage

I just discovered the blog Coffee + Crumbs, and this essay moved me so deeply that I absolutely must share it: I suspect many of you will relate. "Dream House."
Houses tell a story. Somewhere between no kids then two, I started to believe my house could tell one about me where I am astonishingly pulled together, and everything from the floors to my toe nails is marvelously shiny, and nothing smells funny. I want my house to tell the story of how awesome I am. One problem: I am not awesome. Not by a long shot.
Another great piece, much shorter (this one from Jess Connolly's "No Filter" weekly email): "You're Asking the Wrong Question, Sister."
So if you have any of that in your heart today - if you wonder: Am I doing this right? The answer is: He is.
At The Economist, a fun reflection on Jeeves and Wooster, to celebrate their centennial: "Jeeves and the vital oolong." Many are the J&W volumes I have borrowed from the library, and many are the side-splitting cackles they have caused.

"Motherhood Screened Off."
My husband thinks no amount of narration will change the way our kids feel about the phone. The problem, he says, is that whenever I grab it, they know that I am also holding a portal, as magical as the one in Narnia’s wardrobe and with the same potential to transport me to another world or to infinite worlds. I am always milliseconds away from news of a horrific mass stampede near Mecca or images of great medieval art or a Twitter dissection of the pope’s visit. How far am I going, they might reasonably worry, and how soon will I be back?
"Christianity in Kenya: Faithful in the Midst of Frauds."

Goodness, look at these beautiful bags.

This is funny! The truth behind cool Instagram photos.

I am no food photographer but it was yummy.
A Few Things We've Et:

Butternut squash soup (two smallish butternuts, roasted + one fat, tart apple + a quart of strong chicken stock + chipotle pepper and salt to taste + a knob of butter to finish)

Sausage potato salad (cubed and roasted russets + spicy sausage + lightly cooked peas and mushrooms + thinly sliced green onions + olive oil and mayo and apple cider vinegar as dressing)

Stuffed sweet potatoes from Against All Grain (very good even though I had no bacon)

Pork and chicken fajitas (with salsa from the last of our tomato crop)

Pictured is creamy potato soup (with broccoli and carrots and cheese . . . a lot like Panera's cream of broccoli soup, but yards better because of the homemade stock and the big squirt of sriracha)

27 September 2015

jealous of grace

I have often been tempted to envy other women's possessions, appearance, or travel opportunities. But not till now have I found myself envying their time.

I can literally spend the whole day attempting to transfer a load of laundry into the dryer, and by evening it's still in the washer. Our flowerbeds are tangled with overgrown marigolds and lavender, because I haven't had a moment to trim them back all summer. I can't find the time to make one simple phone call. It's ridiculous . . . or at least it seems that way to me. I love having two children but am floored by how busy they've made my life! (Should I have been this surprised? No. Yet here I am.)

Meanwhile, I hear of friends accomplishing so much that I would love to do. I see pictures and read stories of all the time they have for crafting and studying, for making music and blogging.

Sure, what we see on the internet does not always correspond to reality, but many times it does, and these women really do have time for their photogenic pursuits. They really are able to get all these lovely things done. I can feel inadequate in contrast, and a bit guilty. They have children too. They're taking care of a house too. They are faithful in their small things just as I am trying to be faithful in mine. So on top of all that how can they possibly run Etsy shops, repaint furniture, and get to Crossfit three times a week, while I twist my dirty hair into a flyaway braid and congratulate myself if I get a single carpet vacuumed?

It's because God is allowing them that grace. How could I be jealous of that? God has looked at each of us and said, here little daughter, this is what I have for you. And here is the grace to get it done.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.
-Ephesians 3:20-21
More abundantly than we could ask or think? Well, I can ask and think quite a lot, so it must be that God intends to accomplish truly amazing things. Someday perhaps I will see them fully. I know, certainly, that He is dishing out grace for me every day. It looks different from my friends' portions. (And often I don't even see my own portion as grace: I take what I do for granted. Of course I'm canning applesauce this fall! Of course I visit the library with my kids! Maybe for other women those things, my everyday things, are their impossible dreams.)

"A bawoon for me!" Simple fun at the fair.

I don't want to be greedy for grace. No God. I don't want this one; give me what she has. I want to trust Him for strength, rather than plotting something different, then trying to force it through in my own power. Come to think of it, I'm tuckered out at the end of every day and don't have much energy for plotting. So I want to cheerfully acknowledge the fact that my life is already filled to the utmost, believing that it's filled with what He has chosen, and that it is very good.

16 September 2015

and then she said

"I got it! I got the sun!"
-jumping into an early morning sunbeam on the floor

"Mommy, are you sick?! Are you taking a nap?"
-because I was still asleep when she got up and clearly that is only attributable to illness

"Bye! See ya! I going to the work! Have fun! I love you! Have a good day!"
-riding away on her tricycle

"I need to put wotion on my crash."
-requesting lotion for a nonexistent rash

"Are you making an order?"
"Are you checking your wist?"
-whenever I look at my phone (which, yes, I do use to place Amazon orders and make grocery lists)

"Mommy!!! You awake???"
-while we were stopped at a red light

"Goodbye water! Sleep tight!"
-bidding farewell to her bedtime bath

"No Zoe, dat is NOT a good idea."
-whenever Zoe does something of which she disapproves

"Mommy, are you pretty?"
-I don't know where that question came from

Me: We're going to the chiropractor later today.
Ellie: Ooh! The pyro-tractor?

Ellie: Where's Kenzie?
Me: At her house.
Ellie: Where's Kyle?
Me: At his house. You'll actually get to see them tomorrow.
Ellie: THEY get to see ME!