"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

28 February 2012

Scrappy Project

I recently received a bag of scrap yarn from an acquaintance, and it contained a lovely skein of recycled silk yarn from Nepal. I hemmed and hawed over what to make with it.
The many colors of the silk resulted in a bit of busy-ness, so I added cream layers to break it up.
I re-purposed an old sweater of Nich's for the back and used buttons to close it up.
What do you think?


Once in a while, Nich will make dinner.

We used to cook together all the time, but now that I'm home full-time, I make the meals. I'm okay with that.

But it's such a treat when Nich decides to cook, because when he does, he makes fancy stuff.

Like this.
Photo by Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman
Ever since I introduced him to Pioneer Woman and her Tasty Kitchen recipe site, Nich has discovered a newfound love for cooking. It's because PW includes step-by-step pictures with her recipes.

I'm not kidding. He's said as much.

Anyway, we had the chicken parm for dinner last week. It called for red wine, and since we don't generally buy reds (I'm allergic to the tannin), we took a walk to the wine & spirits store to see what they had. Lo and behold, they had these perfectly sized bottles of wine.

The best part (other than the scrumptious dinner)? One of those cute bottles is now holding the healthy remnants of my daisy bouquet from three weeks ago.

27 February 2012


"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a Swiss farm, and live entirely surrounded by cows - and china." ~ Charles Dickens

*I will apologize in advance for the weird formatting of this post. I've been fiddling with the picture placement and double-line-spacing between paragraphs for over fifteen minutes, and I'm just going to leave well enough alone.  :~)

Our stay-cation week culminated in an overnight getaway at Christ the King Spiritual Life Center in Greenwich with some friends from Middle Ground Worship. Saturday started off rather abruptly, as I opened my eyes to see the pillow by my head soaked in bright red blood. It wasn't my own; I had woken up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and in my sleepy state, I had crawled back into bed on Nich's side of the bed. I poked Nich awake to inquire about the blood. It turned out that he'd had a nosebleed during the night, so while he got in the shower to clean up, I stripped the bed, started the laundry, and treated our mattress. 

SO cold, but in such good spirits!
The internet is a wealth of information for how to do useful things, like get nose blood out of your bed. 

There was quite a bit of snow and gusty wind that morning, and although the snow stopped and melted away, the wind kept up all day. Frankly, most of Saturday was difficult for me. I was overly weary from the week. Having Nich home was wonderful, but it required a change of pace. I'm realizing that I've gotten used to having one or two solid blocks of quiet in my days, and I depend on those times to re-center my mind. 

The building in the background is where we were staying
Once we were settled in at the Barry House Library (where we were staying) and had enjoyed a terrific lunch, it was time for the first group session. It became clear very quickly that a spiritual retreat with a curious toddler was going to be not-quite-so-restful. Nich and I took turns chasing Little B around, encouraging exploration and discouraging the consumption of shiny objects. B had napped on the ride to the center, and he was not interested in an afternoon nap. We spent the allotted free time in the afternoon going for a romp around the grounds. Needless to say, by the time dinner was over, all three of us were worn out and a bit cranky -- not what you would prefer to happen on a weekend away.
Little B's bedtime ended up being a bit trying as well, due to a slip in the bathtub resulting in a small scratch on his face. Nich and I were strung out from a series of miscommunications, and we ended up getting quite snippy with one another. I was ready to call it quits and come home. 

But then B went down for the night quite nicely, and we slipped out of our room, monitor in hand, to join the rest of the group by the fireplace for the evening session. The focus for the weekend was about our need for community and for building deep relationships, something that definitely resounded in our hearts. We enjoyed good conversation that evening and went to bed feeling that the day had been redeemed (and marveling that B slept through us re-entering the room and getting ready for bed). 
Little B shared his toys quite nicely with Olivia.
B's first time at a real piano

The next day dawned sunny and beautiful. We had been up for an hour and a half in the middle of the night with B being inconsolable. I think he was just out of sorts from being in a strange place and having us in the same room. After repeatedly telling him to lie back down and go night-night, we had taken turns holding him and trying to get him to go back to sleep. Eventually, I had just brought him into our bed. It was sort of nice to open my eyes to the sleeping faces of both "my boys." 

We hiked up the hill to the welcome center for our meals
B went down easily for his morning nap, so Nich and I were both able to fully participate in the morning session and discussion groups. He slept for two hours, and we eventually had to wake him up at lunchtime so that we could pack up and check out of our room. After lunch, we had one final session.

So windy!
One of the unexpected challenges of co-parenting is that Nich is far more conscious of the effect B has on other people than I am. I tend to be more relaxed, believing that children, particularly babies and young toddlers, need freedom to explore. I believe people need to be understanding of that, and it's unfortunate that our society has become so unfriendly towards children, seeing them as inconveniences. Children need to learn to behave appropriately within situations, rather than being restrained or removed from them. Nich believes that B is distracting everyone, and he does his best to limit that. He holds B in his arms (when he doesn't want to be held) or takes him to a different room. Sometimes, this frustrates me. As everyone was mingling after the last session in the early afternoon, one of the women came up to me and told me that she had been impressed at "what a good boy" B had been the entire time. She said that she admired how Nich and I tag-teamed "so effortlessly" and how she had "not once seen [me] get frustrated at [my] husband." I was incredibly humbled, remembering our previous night's bickering and my inner havoc about having B around other people. 

So although there was no Swiss farm (nor were there any cows), it ended up being a lovely time away from our norm. 

I never really saw eye to eye with Dickens anyway.
The mandatory group photo, of course.

22 February 2012

A Special Day in Pictures

Rocket Ship Birthday Cake
Rocket Ship Birthday Presents (all consignment sale finds!)
First birthday cake! He cracked us up, because he kept going, "Nyum, nyum" as he ate his slice of cake.
Digging into presents
A very happy birthday boy

18 February 2012

Little B's First Birthday: Baking the Rocket Ship Cake!

Tonight, while Nich runs out to get Chinese takeout for our dinner, I am making Little B's cake for his first birthday party tomorrow.

I'm more than a little nervous about this.

Not the baking part ... that doesn't worry me at all. It's the decorating part.

Nich says he has full confidence in my artistic abilities. That doesn't make me feel much better, though, because he, bless his heart, has this idea that I am naturally quite gifted artistically.

(I'm not.)

Here's the cake I'm baking, the frosting I'll be making/using, and the general idea for the structure (for lack of a better word) of the rocket.

So cross your fingers with me that it will all turn out beautifully. I'll (hopefully) have pictures to share when it's all done, so come back for a peek! :~)

14 February 2012

In Lieu of a Card...

Dear Hannah,

I woke up this morning feeling the lingering sugar buzz of the heart shaped cookies we had for a midnight snack and I smiled a little. I really enjoy our occasional midnight snacks, because it’s a clear reminder that while our life isn’t always filled with romance, it is always filled with love and friendship. It reminds me of what kids do when they spend the night over with a best friend. When we’re exhausted, or Brennan is having a rough night, and romance isn’t even conceivable, I know I’m sharing the most important years of my life with my best friend.

Loving you means that you’re the only friend with whom I love doing everything. Watching movies with you in bed, walking together on a beach, and dancing at weddings are some of my favorite past times, but I’d never dance if it wasn’t for you. You bring out the best in me.

Even though we have those moments of grumbling that are no fun, there’s nothing that feels better than holding you closely and saying, “I’m sorry.” Nothing bad can linger for very long before just looking at you makes me want to smile again. You are my sunshine.

I’m blessed to be married to my best friend. I’m excited that we have a whole lifetime together to make more romantic memories, and to have fun well into old age. I love you always, my forever friend. Happy Valentine's Day.

Your husband and friend,


Happy Valentine's Day!

13 February 2012

Sunshiny Cheer

Nich and I are mostly into earthy tones for our home decor, but occasionally, something very colorful will catch my eye.

I got this lovely pitcher for free a couple months ago from DaySpring, using a coupon code from a terrific blog I follow.
I absolutely love it. The verse on it (John 10:10 - "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full"), although grammatically bothersome ;~), is a daily, much-needed reminder for me to live life fully, even if that means something as simple as being consciously present with Little B, enjoying the hugs, the open-mouth kisses, the endless climbing up and down the kitchen stool, the teachable moments.

Last week, I did something quite spontaneous and very much unlike me.

I bought flowers.

From a store.

Granted, it was from Walmart and the bouquet was 50% off, so I pretty much only spent $2 on the lot, but still. I never buy flowers because I think it's a waste of money. In fact, one of the more memorable arguments Nich and I have had was four or five years ago (I can't remember if it was our wedding anniversary or my birthday) concerning flowers vs. plants. I had told him early on in our relationship that I thought store-bought flowers were not a sensible way to spend money, especially bouquets. I think it's utterly ridiculous that florists think it's all right to charge $80 for flowers and some decorative fern. I thought I had communicated "No flowers at all." Nich took that to mean, "No bouquets" and he sweetly presented me with a potted begonia and a potted tea rose plant that year.

Anyway, it has been sort of dreary as of late, because Little B and I have been cooped up inside a lot. There's no fun snow to play in, and for the most part, it has been too cold to go for walks. I felt like we needed a bit of color in our lives, so when I saw the cheerful yellow bunches of daisies sitting in a bucket for just $2 a piece, I snatched one up.
They've been holding up quite well for a week now, and along with my colorful pitcher, they're doing their job of bringing a little bit of sunshiny cheer into our home.

09 February 2012

In light of Valentine's Day...

A little over a month ago, I read Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, which is such a marvelous read. It was one of those books that, as I was reading it, I wished I had written it. She's candid, she's funny, and I loved the fact that she is really nothing like me other than being a lover of words.

In one of the chapters, she talks about reading an older book about being a good housewife. She decides to have her husband rate her housewifeliness on a scale from zero to ten, based on thirteen characteristics. Of course, I got curious about how Nich would rate me, so I copied her list into my journal (at the time, I had the thought that I would do this every few years, just to see how my husband perceived me) and presented it to Nich. I explained what I wanted him to do, and after some initial balking, he agreed to humor me.

I have to state here, for those of you who don't know my husband, that Nich is incredibly honest. I knew that he wouldn't "fluff" his numbers just to spare my feelings. However, he is also extremely kind. In fact, his kindness and generosity - to his friends, to complete strangers - were the two things I noticed most about him when we first became friends. He is also quite reflective, so I walked away, leaving him to take his time, spending the time bracing for the 2s and 3s I was sure I was going to get in categories such as "cheerfulness" and "self-control."

I prayed that I would receive the numbers he gave me with grace and humility.

Sorry for the terrible lighting. Being the daughter of a photographer clearly did nothing for my skills.

Y'all, he FLOORED me with his generous numbers. As Little B napped, we talked about each category. He explained why he had given me the numbers he had, complimenting my strengths and gently, sometimes humorously, reminding me of the areas where I need work (some major). I won't go into all the details, but you know how there are those moments when you feel yourself falling in love with your spouse a little bit more?

Well, this was definitely one of them.

Happy Valentine's!