Five Finds Friday (boots (what?), kettles & ice skates)

 

Every week, the feeling never changes.  The week was both slow and fast.  At the same time.  Reminds me of a quote by Oscar Wilde –

Does anyone ever realize life while they are living it?

 

 

FUNNY

 

Amazon Prime is not funny.  It’s fabulous.

And recently our family has met a new friend through Amazon Prime called the Firestick.  It’s not funny either.  No – it’s also fabulous.  It’s probably been out for ages, what do I know about anything having to do with technology?  The iCloud confounds me and I can never even find my charger cables, let alone download anything properly.  How do I even maintain this blog? It’s an actual mystery.

Anyway.  Firestick. It’s just this handy small device (that I’m probably destined to lose) that you “plug” in to the back of your television and it allows your Amazon Prime Video/Television to appear right up on your TV screen.  And – the best part is that you just take it with you so when you are at a hotel or such, then you can control the shows your children watch, as opposed to being inundated with bizarre advertisements and commercials and channel surfing.  You can also access whatever else you use through the Firestick – Netflix or YouTube or whatever.

I’m sure this is old news for most of you.  I’m sorry.  I’m just not trendy in that direction.

What was my point here even?

Oh yes.

Funny.

That’s what I was trying to make happen here.

Because of the Amazon FireStick, we were perusing the options in the “kids” category when we fell upon a show entitled “A Happy Family”.

When Riley was younger she had a dollhouse full of characters called “The Loving Family”.  This show is pretty much Riley playing with her dolls in that dollhouse.

I’m not kidding.

I’ve got this screenshot of an episode, of which we watched about eight minutes, with my jaw unhinged all that time.

 

 

This is literally a show where people are holding the feet of dolls, making the dolls walk and pick up stuff and move around their dollhouse, giving them voices with their own voices.  And.  That is the show.  That is the show on television.  People playing with dolls.

I can’t even.

 

FASHIONABLE

 

Of course I’m going to show you a boot.

I’m in counseling for my boot addiction – alright already?

 

Photo from NorthFace.com

 

Isn’t she so pretty?

I was at a NorthFace outlet this week.  They had this very boot available.  At a greatly reduced outlet price.  I was so excited.  The kids were “patiently” waiting.  Mosely was even helping me.  (More so to get me to move along at a speedier rate, but whatever.)  Alas.  So many sizes of this shoe – at 40% off – and none of those sizes my size.

PS  – There are no Boot Addiction Therapy Counseling Sessions.  

 

FLAVORFUL

 

Okay.  This isn’t exactly flavorful by itself, but it makes things flavorful.

And.  I love it.

It’s just a kettle.

 

 

I forget how I decided that I “needed” a kettle in my life and on my counter.  But I did.  And after asking the world of Facebook for their opinions, I chose this particular kettle based almost exclusively on a review by my friend Taylor who said she chose this one because the inside is completely stainless steel and no plastic at all touches the scalding hot water that boils inside the kettle.

Is this a necessary item?

Nah.  Of course not.  But I don’t own a microwave and my stovetop kettle has often (!) been left on for too long when I forget I am boiling water and well, that is straight up dangerous.  This boils water crazy fast, shuts itself off so I don’t start a fire in our kitchen and I use it multiple times a day – primarily for hot tea and hot cocoa.  The kids use it for their french press.  (What?  Your kids don’t have a french press?)  I’ve used it recently in adding boiling water to recipes, the bath tub and big batches of sweet tea too.  (Maybe you guys know other bonuses to use this little appliance for too?)

It made me a little sad that this is simply black, but the red one cost more and I couldn’t justify it this time.

I even packed this up for our most recent trip and took it along.  I’m just all about my nightly cup of “lemur tea”.  (That’s what the kids and I call the seasonal vanilla and cinnamon tea Trader Joe’s sells this time of year.  Yep, you guessed it.  There’s a lemur featured on the packaging.)

Oh – but that lemur tea is flavorful.  So.  There you have it.  Something flavorful!

 

 

FAITHFUL

 

This year we’ve been challenged and encouraged at church to begin the specific act and discipline of keeping a prayer journal.  (With basic regularity – no hard and fast rules.)

I love the idea and have encouraged the kids to try their hand at it too.  It’s so immensely beneficial to be reminded to see how God is working.  To train our eyes to see.  To record the movement.  To bring purpose to that aspect of our lives and our hearts.

I’m not reading their prayer journals – I want them to have that privately.  (Goodness knows, in a house like ours, privacy is a rare commodity.)  But I like seeing them take time and sit contemplatively for a few minutes each week.

It is with genuine fondness that I recall my own parents sitting quietly in my dad’s office, sharing an early morning cup of coffee and reading God’s word together.

I’m banking on God’s restorative powers in their hearts and lives as we all navigate our lives together.

 

FEELS

 

On the ice skating rink, after Berg’s sixty-eight fall, he was counting, I skated up to him.

My heart was just bursting with pride for this long legged, giant-footed (9!), boy of mine who was tumbling and laughing and always always getting back up.

I told him, with the utmost sincerity, “You aren’t special to me just because you are my son.  You are – for real – one of my absolute favorite human beings in this entire world!  I just love doing things with you.”

I mean it.  He’s a joy of person.  Upbeat and interesting.  Always up to try new things and just as eager to sit silently side by side and relish in the old things we already love too.

Adventuring with my children is pretty much the best part of my life.

 

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_______________________

 

 

 

confessions . . .

 

1.  When the kids run out of soap in the bathroom, I might wait for weeks to refill their dispenser.  I know they are just going to spill it anyway.

2.  I’m not really concerned with whether my children wear matching socks or not.

3.  If I have to pick between enforcing tooth brushing at either morning or night, I always choose night.

4.  Some dinners I don’t include vegetables on the menu.  Yes.  Sometimes giant bowls of macaroni & cheese only are what’s for dinner.

5.  I don’t always remember to purchase cat food.  Even though we own two cats.

6.  Showering daily is not a personal priority for me.

7.  I still think marshmallow fluff tastes good.

8.  I go to bed without making certain the sink is empty of dirty dishes.

9.  The ringer of my phone is constantly set to silent.

10.  I make “to do” lists and never finish them.

11.  I almost always forget to wash my face at night.

12.  Making my bed still feels like a sort of punishment.

13.  I like uneven lists.

Now it’s your turn . . .

 

__________________________

 

 

 

January’s Grove Collaborative Giveaway – it’s a good one

 

I can’t believe I almost forgot about this post!

I’ve been so busy with this and that, when I looked at my calendar for yesterday I noticed that I almost missed a really great Grove Collaborative Giveaway.

This one is legitimately too good to let pass by, so I’ll just start right in with the specifics.

 

 

Grove Collaborative is an online company – a store of sorts – that specifically carries home products, stuff for cleaning and washing and scrubbing and tending, you know.  But also bath and beauty products too.  (I guess the same tending and cleaning and scrubbing – but of your body and your face and your hair.  You get it.)  The products that I personally purchase routinely from Grove are primarily Mrs. Meyers because I already love them so.  (And I often purchase my facial moisturizer through here too.)

With Grove, you place your order and you sign up for a basic pantry type service.  In other words, it works a little like the Dollar Shave Club for example.  Each month you will get an email (or several, actually) and you will be directed to head to the Grove Collaborative website and to review your cart.  At that point you can either send your regular order on through (mine usually features dishwasher detergent, hand soap, dish soap and about every other month, the walnut scrubber sponges) or you can add to your order or subtract from your order or you can postpone your order for another month if you aren’t in need of any products.

It’s very very easy to remember – you get plenty of email alerts.  (You do need to check your email, of course.)  And you can quit the monthly routine at any time if you’d like or just push the deliveries out for as long as you’d like.

I’ve mentioned it before but the main reasons that I like using Grove Collaborative instead of heading to Target are that I never run out of items, they’re waiting for me and delivered regularly.  Also, I don’t waste extra money at Target.  Also, they are often cheaper than the prices at Target.  All reasons good enough for me.  And, also, I don’t have get in my car with five kids and leave my house.  Very good motivation indeed.

This month, if you have not yet ever tried Grove Collaborative yourself, this is the time to do it.  (I’m thinking about you, Sara – this is the deal worth trying this for.  You live too far away from a store to waste your gas money and your time running out of supplies!)

This month, for NEW customers, you receive . . . 

  • Free Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap
  • Free Mrs. Meyer’s Dish Soap
  • Free Mrs. Meyer’s Lotion
  • Free Grove Collaborative Cleaning Caddy
  • Free Grove Collaborative Walnut Scrubber Sponges
  • Free Shipping

 

 

Now, these really are all free.  But, as others have pointed out before, on your first Grove order, you will be asked to purchase a certain amount of other items to add to your cart.  So, again, these items are completely free, but your entire order is not completely free.  (Just like to be up front about these little details.)  You can choose whatever you want to buy of course.  I’m pretty confident there’s something on the website that you buy regularly and could use a restock of.  Or – something that you want to try.  You need to buy $20 worth of products to get your FREE stash listed above.

The cleaning caddy is a new offering and I think it is so cute.  And not at all limited to storing only cleaning supplies.  I’m thinking art supplies myself.  But I guess it could hold remotes or candy or straws or silverware or toothbrushes or you name it.  (I don’t know why I said candy – it just made me laugh.)

The walnut scrubber sponges are now my favorite.  They’ve replaced all of my other dish cleaning tools.  I keep one by the sink (in a cute little enamel container that was my mom’s from ages ago) and it never smells gross like other sponges do.  I don’t feel repulsed when I see it sitting there and I replace it when the brown side starts to get picked-over looking – which takes a surprisingly long time to happen.

You get to pick your scents for the Mrs. Meyers products.  I’m partial to lavender everything but I have tried a bluebell one recently and I love it.  The lotion is new and it’s coming with my next order.  I think that’ll be a great addition to the Mrs. Meyers family.

Now, all of you faithful already committed Grove Collaborative fans, this giveaway is certainly the best for the newcomers this month.  But, you DO get a little something something.  You get a free Mrs. Meyers hand soap added to your next order.

(I know.  I agree.  We want more.  Like that cute metal caddy.  I’m sorry.  I don’t make the rules for these campaigns.  Shoot, I don’t make the rules for much of anything.)

So – there you go.

It’s a great time to sign up for the first time for Grove Collaborative – that’s for sure.

For your FREE kit, click here.

For your FREE Mrs. Meyers hand soap, click here.

 

_____________________________

 

 

 

 

Motherhood – The Club.

 

When you become a mother you’re an instant member of this club.

And you think it will be all inclusive.

I mean – the only requirement is to have a child, right?

 

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It’s kind of like that.

But then, um, not really.

It’s a unique kind of club.

A mixed bag of sorts.

A mess, really.

A club for certain.

One that can make you feel accepted and understood and,

at the same time,

a club that can feel so exclusive and unfriendly that you’d consider revoking your card.

 

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As mothers we sometimes think our decisions are on display – seen through a transparent window, judged and discussed.

And sometimes maybe they are.

But, if I’m honest, my best parenting decisions have never been about anyone else except my children and our family.

Now I’ve made some poor mothering decisions based on fear or pride.  Or frustration or appearances.  Or misplaced hope or a misplaced desire to impress someone else.

I’ll probably make some more for the same ridiculous reasons.

You might too.

But here’s hoping – for you and for me both – that more of our mothering choices will be made from fear of the Lord than from fear of man.  More of our choices will blossom from knowing our children well than from knowing what popular parenting fads are saying currently.

That I will take the time and the courage to look into the eyes and the hearts of each of my individual children and meet them right where they are.  That you will do that too.  And that, when you do, if it looks worlds apart from what my own child needs right then, that I can have the grace to give you a low high five and say “job well done, mom”.

Our children don’t look alike.  Our houses don’t alike.  It’s doubtful that what our kids will need will match up precisely either.

So – this is me, patting you on the back for tackling your kids’ issues the way you know you need to.  

Trust me, there isn’t anyone more equipped to be your child’s momma than you are.  (Even when that feels untrue.)

_________________________

 

 

 

snow days. 2017.

 

Even though there is a strictly enforced Wildwood Snow Policy, this weekend’s snow tried to sneak in on a weekend so that we still had a full week of school.

That’s fine Snow, we don’t mind spending our weekends with you too.

It was just beautiful.  The first snow always is.  I hope that’s a feeling I keep forever – the mystery and awe I feel at the first blanketing of snow of the season.  (Sometime the only snow – when you live in the south.)  And I know – it is precisely because we receive so few that we love snow days so deeply down here ya’ll.  I get that.

We set the bowls for fresh snow out overnight and were quite satisfied with our there gigantic bowls full of snow come morning.  We wasted no time and consumed thee batches of snow cream throughout the day.  With one batch being made by the kids while they were outside and consumed whilst outside as well.  Which, is a little too chilly for me, but apparently great fun for the kids.

 

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We were once again reminded that we own zero sleds.  Zero.  A number that seems ludicrous when you count the number of people under fifteen that live in this house.  Zero. Sleds.  That’s just wrong.

Our yard is rather flat, however, and snow is lovely all by its beautiful self so we didn’t feel sorry for ourselves and our lack of hills and our lack of sleds for too long.  The kids built forts and tossed snowballs and made snow angels and basically just stood and stared and walked around and celebrated the fluffy white goodness in any way they chose for the day.  It was more than satisfying.

Everything looks lovely when the snow has covered it.  (Let’s not talk about the unsightly way everything looks a couple of days after the snow has begun to fade.  The soggy revelation of blankets left outside and a box battered and shredded and muddy patches and all around grossness.  No.  Let’s not yet talk of that.)

Instead, this weekend – this glorious vision.

 

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We sure will miss this place when we move.  (But – oh, the hope of ownership and roots.  It is tantalizing indeed.)

Hannah snapped a few lovely photos around the house this weekend too.

The light was just so spectacular.

 

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Also.  Instant Pot to the rescue for a hot lunch of whatever we had turned into a delicious soup.

 

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Let me tell you this easy peasy recipe.

Ingredients:
Use what you have – a mix of these items or whatever.  (That’s a lovely bonus of the Instant Pot soup method here – steaming all the veggies together just tastes good.)
Broccoli.  Potatoes.  Carrots.  Onion.  (You could add cauliflower or peas, corn, whatever.  For real.)  I cut the potatoes in quarters but I left the rest as is.  I put in about 3 or 4 cups total of veggies.
4 cups of water or broth
Salt. Pepper.  (Any spices you like.)
Set to manual high pressure for 7 minutes.
Use Natural Pressure Release for about 5 minutes.  (Or until you remember or you are done playing in the snow.)
Finish with Quick Release if you need to.
Turn on the sauté feature.
Add in one cup of milk and two cups or so of shredded cheese.
I was using the immersion blender here but London suggested we leave it as it was – we compromised and only blended it half way, so it was creamy but still had chunks of potatoes and carrots.
Serve right away.
(But it stays warm for a long time too – for those boys who just don’t want to come in and eat their soup.)

And that’s really a wrap on the weekend you guys.

I hope your snow was pretty and your soup was warm and your snow cream was sugary.

 

____________________________

 

 

Five Finds Friday (beautiful notebooks & acts of kindness & beef stew)

 

Well, well, well.  It’s Friday, you guys.  I think I forgot to write this post last week.  I was enjoying myself too much with Sara and didn’t want to spend that time writing down words.  Besides, we were too busy saying all the words.

 

 

FUNNY

 

When we took our family’s annual trip to Grove Park Inn to see all of the gingerbread house competitors we dressed in fancy clothes (I use that term fancy loosely, very loosely) and we ate lunch at the elegant Grove Park Inn overlooking the incredible mountains.

 

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Lunch is a buffet and the kids adore the excessive nature of all of the tables laden with food, so much food, of which you are allowed to take plate after plate.  The dessert options are decadent and a-plenty with cheesecake and trifles and apple pie and and mini mousse and I don’t even know what else – more dessert than one person needs, of course.

The point is, the options were nearly endless.

And yet.

These are the plates my children came back from the line with —

 

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Also, as Mosely tried one of the random candies she had chosen, she made a face and commented, “This tastes just like how Old Navy smells.”

 

FASHIONABLE

 

It’s not just clothing that is fashionable these days, you guys.  Everything has a chance to be designer I think.  Even notebooks.

And I sort of laugh at that trend, but uh – I like pretty paper and handsome notebooks almost as much as I like Frye boots and tall socks.

This website – Cognitive Surplus – sells ridiculously lovely notebooks.  Perfect for nature journals or our daily writing activities in school.  One page is a blank drawing page and the opposite page is lined.  Or – you have options.  You can do all lined, or all blank – or even this cool grid option.

The covers are so unique and save-space-on-the-shelf-worthy.  Instead of those terribly annoying spiral bound notebooks that never look inviting when completed, these notebooks look like you want to add them to your collection.

 

Photo from Cognitive Surplus.com

Photo from Cognitive Surplus.com

 

I am still convinced, and can attest to the truth of the statement as I have seen its veracity proved over and over through many homeschooling years, when you provide a student with beautiful notebooks and quality supplies, their desire to work well is immediately improved.

If it is worth saving in such a charming way, it is worth doing your best work.

 

Photo from Cognitive Surplus.com

Photo from Cognitive Surplus.com

 

FLAVORFUL

 

I am trying to get a little more adventurous with my friend Instant Pot.  (Whom London officially named this evening actually.  He will now by known by his name – Barry Allen.)

At any rate, I’ve been mostly playing it safe and making what I know.

Last week though I tried several meals and a handful of made up things, just to experiment and learn to know Barry better.  There was a pretty good mac & cheese (and a lesson learned so the next batch will be much improved) and a super fast and easy and fresh broccoli and cheese soup for lunch, but the success was really this Beef Stew.

 

 

I pretty much stink at cooking meat.  I’m not attentive enough to it.  I am a distracted cook, almost always, and especially at dinner time.  Which is what I actually love most about the Instant Pot.  I mean, honestly, it’s not always that much faster (although in certain situations it is) but it is almost always easier.  Hands off cooking where you put in your ingredients and you legitimately leave the kitchen.  (And read books or type articles or fold laundry or stare into space.)

I basically followed this Beef Stew recipe.  I didn’t add zucchini or tomato paste.  I used whatever carrots and potatoes and spices I had, but followed the basic guidelines here.

It was SO easy and really, hands down, the best beef stew I have ever cooked.

 

FAITHFUL

 

On one of my sleepless, worry induced evenings Jo sent me an album by Ellie Holcomb.  I think she meant to send a song, but I received an entire album and I have been so grateful.

Her music is so lovely, so full of encouragement and hope.

I’ve listened again and again to this entire album.

But I especially love Night Song.

 

 

Morning feels so far away, questions keeping me awake
Will you sing, sing your night song?
All these lies that are owning me, all this fear makes it hard to breathe
Will you be, be my night song?

The truth that sings into my darkness
The melody of love that leads me on
The voice that comforts all my sadness
Oh, even when the suffering is long, be my night song.

—- Ellie Holcomb

FEELS

 

Some days are harder than others.  Some struggles with some kids are more painful and take longer to work through.  That is just the way parenting (relationships) work.  The entire world knows this.  Every mother and father can testify to the truth of this statement.

Which is why when one of my sweet girls pulled off a genuine act of love and planning and forethought (albeit with the help of several kind and generous and loving grown up friends) I was full up with all the good feelings for that kid.

 

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I’ve decided that I’m not going to write all the details – not to be mysterious or anything like that at all, just mostly because they are somehow extra special to me and I want to hold them closely to my heart for a little longer.

But it was an evening where I was reminded, in ways too tender for words tonight, that I am loved.  I am not alone.  My life matters and my children matter and they are not damaged goods and there is hope for all the pain wadded up in their hearts to be released, to trade the ashes for beauty.

And that hope is enough.  For tonight.

 

__________________________

 

 

 

 

I’ll just leave this here ….

 

I keep half ways writing posts but not quite completing them.

I’ve got a lot of spinning plates this week.  I mean, ALL weeks.  But particularly this week.

It’s far too late to be wide awake in my dining room so I’m going to toss in the towel and not add “complete a new blog post” to my Reasons For Not Getting Enough Sleep list.

But don’t worry friends.

I won’t leave you empty-handed.

I’ll just post this little video here.  (Sent to me at just the right time of night to appeal to my sense of inane comedy.)

It’s just enough nonsense to be funny at the time I am typing this.

Let’s see if the humor lives on with the light of day.

 

 

 

 

____________________________

 

 

 

after I’ve written, I see what I meant to say

 

The words just are not coming tonight.  I mean, the words are, actually.  Sort of.  But they’re kind of All The Wrong Ones.

I really enjoyed being out of school for two weeks and was quite content to not have the evening ritual of making the next day’s lists in the five colored notebooks stacked beside me right now.  I know we need the structure and the routine, it’s good for our home, but I liked the break.

 

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My One Word for 2017 has not been firmly decided but I’m afraid I keep leaning toward a word like “discipline” and that just feels rotten and I’d rather pick a word like “fun” or “spontaneous” or “overeat”.  (Has anyone ever chosen overeat?  They should.)  Of course, I’m not sitting around struggling to be spontaneous over here ya’ll.  I’ve got no spontaneity issues in my life.  That trait is aptly covered.  But that other uglier word?   Yuck.

Also.  I seem to have completely forgotten that regular exercise was once a sort of part of my life.  It’s been almost a year since I ran a half marathon.  You guys.  I finished a half marathon!  For.  The.  Love.  Now, a year later, I’m just sitting here in the semi-darkness finishing chocolate pudding.  Hannah says she has an extra FitBit type apparatus to loan me to see if I think that would help spur me on to action.  I think all it might do is spur me deeper into depression.  “Oh, look – you only walked twenty-two steps all day long today you lazy slob!”  (I think that’s what my FitBit would yell at me.)  I told Hannah I was afraid I might become obsessed with it.  She laughed.  “You don’t really get obsessed with things, Lacey,” she told me.  She’s probably right.  And that lack of obsession is probably why I will never run an entire marathon (nor probably another half marathon) and maybe why I’ll never finish and publish a book and why I can’t keep the times tables consistently memorized in my brain and why I would rather choose words like “spontaneous” over words like “discipline”.

 

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Right now I’m looking at a stack of nearly twenty overdue library books and I’m still driving around on that spare tire from the night of the Prince Caspian play but tomorrow is trash day and my youngest son and my only son-in-law pulled the trash can down the driveway together in the mucky rain and mud of this foggy evening and that was a really good bit of sunlight in a grey week.

Today I opened a business bank account and that’s a bit of story I’ll be sharing in the next week or so and I’m being steadily reminded that it really takes so much money sometimes to try to make money and that’s a weird bit of grown up economical truth for us all.  Additionally, health insurance is a beast for the self-employed – or for the human being really I guess.  But the free dryer we acquired this summer (was it this summer?) is still running even though it smells a little like fire on some days and I keep a steady rule of never running it when I’m not at home.

Last week my friend-from-seventh-grade drove down from Virginia and what a delightful gift it was to spend a twenty-four hour stint with a friend so comfortable and true and safe and although we didn’t take a single genuine photo (what was wrong with us?) it was the exact distraction and blessing that I needed right then.  And a bonus to the whole thing was that she was able to meet so many of my dear friends here and they were able to meet her.  All gift, that was.

 

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Yes.  There are those pesky library book fines and my kitchen table is buried under markers and notebooks again.  The closed grocery store Sunday put a kink in my weekly routine and we were forced to make a dessert without flour for a dinner we were invited to and we cranked out some cracker, butter, brown sugar, chocolate chip creation that was surprisingly a big hit.  We had a fun dinner with that sweet family. Last week I had more than thirty kids in the woods beside our house to celebrate Mosely’s birthday with a massive “Town” afternoon and although the kitchen floor was wrecked, we all survived and all thirty of those kids received a decent enough dinner and a reasonably good time – or so they implied.

 

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What I’m saying is what I keep saying – this week, and all the weeks.

There’s good happening here.  In my life.  In yours.

And if you think I’ve been heavy on that topic of forcing my eyes open to see the good in the space in which I live, you’d be right.  It has been – and it promises to continue to be – a season for me personally in which I am in desperate need of Eyes That See.

 

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I have zero desire to blindly ignore the muck and the mire shoveled around my doorstep.  I can’t avoid the knee deep poop I have to walk in these days.  But I am confident that I don’t want to eat and drink the sour parts all day long and all night through.

It has been, and I think it might always be, the writing that plays a part in rescuing me.

So, thank you for bearing with me as you routinely stand witness to the means of personal survival and hope that are sometimes these rambling words and shifting sentences.

At least today I added pictures.

 

_____________________________

 

 

 

Raymie Nightingale: A Book Review

 

Kate DiCamillo.  It’s a name in children’s literature that you can count on.

So many of my favorites have been penned by her hand.  (I read that DiCamillo faithfully writes five pages five days a week.  I feel so undisciplined,  Ive wasted forty three years already.  How many pages would that have been?  Someone do the math for me so I can feel worse about my unproductively.)

Because of Winn-Dixie.  The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.  Flora and Ulysses.  The Tale of Desperaux.  The Magician’s Elephant.  Tiger Rising.  The Mercy Watson series.  (You guys, have you read Edward Tulane?  My word.  It’s beautiful.)

Raymie Nightingale was sitting on the newly acquired books shelf at our local library.

 

 

I didn’t bother reading the book cover.  I just added it to the bag.

The story takes place one summer in 1975 and it gathers together three charming young girls whose lives are each individually full of tragedy and turbulence.  A dad who just ran away with a dental hygienist.  A daughter whose parents are dead and whose quirky grandmother lives in constant fear of social services taking away her granddaughter.  An abusive mother whose husband deserted their family.

These girls. Their lives are a mess and their hearts are a mess and they accidentally find themselves thrown together in a series of events that bonds them and shapes them and holds just the traces of the beginnings of perhaps healing them.

Of course it’s lovely writing.  It would make a great read aloud with its cadence and rhythm and funny one liners.

It feels a little profound and there are whole paragraphs I want to highlight – but I don’t because I have a hard enough time keeping in the good graces of the public library system without defacing their books.

In a life guarding class Raymie, the protagonist, participates in one summer the coach announces —

Land is an afterthought, people! … The world is made of water, and drowning is an ever-present danger.  We must help each other.  Let’s be problem solvers together.

Although this line is delivered early in the novel, it might just be the story’s point.

And, as Raymie noted later …

It seemed like a strange reason to be called into the world – to drown, to be saved, to drown again.

To which I want to shout, AMEN!

It seems like a strange reason indeed.

And yet.

So yes, I loved this little novel.  I love Raymie and her desire to call her father’s office each day just to hear the comforting words of her dad’s receptionist in a familiar and stabilizing voice, “Clarke Family Insurance.  How may we protect you?”

And I love Louisiana the orphan and Beverly Tapinski, the girl who has acquired the life preserving skill of a tough outer layer.

It’s a good story.  It’s lovely words in a good order with characters that feel familiar in my own heart and it’s full of worthwhile moments and a little something that tastes kind of like hope.

 

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the end is not like the beginning: A God story

 

I don’t have a new year’s introspective look-back look-ahead kind of post inside me tonight.  Not for this year.  Not for the last year.  Maybe next year?  Who am I kidding?  I can’t emotionally afford to think about New Year’s Day 2018 right now.

I’m literally sitting at my kitchen table with zero plan of how this simple blog entry will even end in a few minutes, I certainly don’t have what it takes right now to envision an entire year looming in front of my face.

To my right, my vanilla tea is hot.  I’m thankful for that.  The fridge is a wasted storage space for nothingness because why didn’t anyone tell me Trader Joe’s closes on New Year’s Day?  The only crunchy food in this house is pita chips and I am eating them plain not because I like pita chips but because I like crunchy.  I’d like to say to someone, “Would you pop some popcorn for me?” but all the someones are asleep and Ryder isn’t too great at managing the knobs on the stove yet.

Also.  I’m mildly hyperventilating about jumping back into the routine of school tomorrow.  Or, more truthfully, about jumping back into the routine of planning school for tomorrow.  Which is what should be happening right now.

I have interview questions to write for an article and there’s this one chapter left in a book I want to finish and I think I’m receiving funny texts from Hannah and Amanda but I’m exercising impressive self-control to not respond currently.  That’s the new year, friends.  Cheers!

I’m not actually complaining.  My eyes are not at all blind to the good and the holy of my ordinary days.  I am, however, battling a tsunami of thoughts that want to send me into the shore face first.  I’ve got blog posts galore that I cannot bring myself to push “publish” on just yet because sometimes thoughts feel too raw and I have found that it’s wiser to sit on those blog posts for a few days or a couple of months.  Then, I find, almost always, that when I refine them and do push “publish”, God seems to use them in a far more lovely way than I would have had I sent them into the world premature and without thought.

It’s a tricky business, this self-revelation of mine.

I don’t know what the new year holds.  And, of course, even those of us who love making resolutions and plans don’t know what the new year holds.  I expect there’ll be some good and some hard and some mountain tops and some shore crashings.

For me, I’m thinking I’m going to need to work extra hard on a skill set that has never, not in forty-three years, not ever ever, been easy for me.  Living in the Right Now & Forever.

Not borrowing trouble from tomorrow (which has enough trouble of its own) and instead, staring straight ahead at what is before me and around me that is admirable and pure, true and noble, praiseworthy, lovely and right.

Like the fact that while I’ve been sitting at this table, slowly eating pita chips I don’t want, a boy who couldn’t sleep sat down beside me, read over my shoulder, laughed heartily at the thought of Ryder turning on the stove and then, with the grin of his that I love, happily announced, “I think I will pop some popcorn for you now.”

And so here I am, ending this blog post in a way I could never have guessed when I sat down.  I’m eating warm buttery salted popcorn that a person who loves me made just for me.

Oh my word, you guys.

I’m not exaggerating when I say this was just this side of an epiphany for me.

A very physical reminder.

God writes better stories than I do.

He just does.

Why, oh why, is that so hard to believe?

Well.  Let’s hope that 2017 can be just like this blog post.

 

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