"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

30 January 2015

A Playdate at the Heard

We have had a string of gorgeous days here in north Texas, but it sounds like that's coming to an end this weekend with some rain and a cold front.

This morning, we had a playdate with some buddies at the Heard Museum, which is just such a terrific place for kids to learn and burn off some energy. It's a natural science museum, but it's also a wildlife sanctuary, so there is lots of open space to roam, run, and play. 
Photo Credit: The Dallas News
They have a Pioneer Village featuring eight playhouse-sized buildings that are representative of homes and stores from the late 1800s. There are cabins, a miniature school house, and a grocery store. It's a fun place to play pretend! And B just loves climbing in and out of the windows.
There's a plant garden that is really pretty in the warmer months, and there's a butterfly house that is very fun to walk through. There's a small "zoo" of sorts, lots of reptiles, and even little bitty owls.

And of course, they have their Dinosaur Live! exhibit up right now, and B just loves the giant animatronic T-Rex and the "spitting dinosaur" (not its official name, in case you were wondering).

It is always quite the exercise in phonetics for me whenever B asks, "What is this one's name?"
Little Lady stayed wide awake the entire time we were there and was barely keeping her eyes open for the short ride home. Both kids quickly settled down for their afternoon naps with no resistance.

I hope everyone has a terrific weekend! What do you have planned?

28 January 2015

Soul Feeding

I was recently introduced to some of the best writing I've read in a long time through one of my favorite bloggers. Julia lost her husband several years ago in a freak accidental drowning while he was on tour in Switzerland. My heart just ached reading her beautifully crafted phrases on this particular post. I wiped the steadily flowing tears off my cheeks, from my chin. The thing is, I love flowers, too. But I have always felt that there isn't enough money to splurge on such a luxury. Not when there are bills to pay, tuitions to save for, and unstable/see through backyard fences to be replaced.
In fact, I'm embarrassed to admit that one of the most epic fights my husband and I ever had in our first year of marriage was about flowers. 

(He staunchly brought home potted plants instead, which was more than this ungrateful wife deserved.)

I have never considered the soul-nourishing potential of fresh flowers.

I had a particularly challenging day yesterday.

It was Tuesday.

Tuesdays are difficult for me with a regularity that can't possibly be coincidental, and I'm convinced it is because N and I go to ReEngage on Tuesday nights. I believe there is a heightened degree of spiritual attack on our family on Tuesdays, and yesterday was no exception.
There were a couple rays of sunshine in my day. I had the gift of a long conversation with a college roommate, one of my sweetest and dearest of friends, as I sat in the sunshine outside.

(Which I honestly felt a little guilty about, because she lives in the tippy-top part of Maine, and they're expecting a nor'easter and it seemed a little selfish to be soaking up sunshine in my bare feet while she and her family were cooped up and anticipating a blizzard.)
And then a friend sent a quick text message to tell me she was praying for me.

So bolstering up my soul with the reminder of these two sweet friends, once our sitter arrived, we scooted off to ReEngage, albeit without having dinner, which is never good. By the time we were on our way home, my stomach was grumbly and my heart was cranky.

I expressed to my husband about how, when I was in grad school with lofty dreams of becoming an incredible teacher touching the lives of all my students, I had told myself that I would never allow any of them to "fly under the radar." Because it makes me so sad to think of kids just going through years of school unnoticed because they were neither academically exemplary nor desperately needing intervention. I told him that's how I felt now, that I was under everyone's radar in all the "communities" I am a part of, because I am neither exemplary nor am I in crisis. 

I'm just there.

And N gently said, "Maybe this is just a season of humility. Maybe God is teaching you how most of the world lives. Maybe you only notice it because you HAVE been successful for most of your life and been applauded for it." 

I know that my sense of worth ultimately needs to come from God, but as a person whose primary love language is Words of Affirmation, it is incredibly hurtful when I observe a pattern of regular encouragement and outreach happening ... and I am passed over.

Then we came home to a loaded dishwasher that had been started up for us.

I know it may seem pretty minor, but just the fact that a chore we have to do every day (usually when we're desperately ready for bed with at least five other things we still need to get done) had been graciously done for us meant so much to me. We thanked our sitter as she left. I closed the front door and turned around to realize that the giant pile of laundry that had embarrassingly covered every inch of our large couch (that I hadn't had time to hide away in our bedroom) was gone. In its place was a laundry hamper full of A's neatly folded clothes, and the rest of it had been put away.

You guys.

I can't even begin to describe what that meant to me except to say ... yes ... I cried.

You know how sometimes, you just need to know you plain ol' MATTER to SOMEbody? That someone notices and cares enough to reach out with some help? 

I know full well that God put it on our beautiful sitter's heart to give me the gift of clean dishes and folded laundry, because I know He sees me. And He knew I needed reassurance yesterday that I mattered, but more than that, I needed the reminder that what I most need is Him.

Because this morning, despite a late night, I was able to wake up extra-early without any grumps to do my Bible reading. And in my recently acquired copy of Jesus Calling (free from our church library), I read this: 

To say that today has been a much better day would be a massive understatement. 

And you know how, when you start counting your gifts, practicing eucharisteo, that you remember the other gifts, the ones you missed because circumstances clouded your ability to see? 

Like the warmth of a sleeping child and baby kisses so enthusiastically and wetly given without restraint. Like tippy-toe dancing to music from your childhood and a pile of thank you cards in the mailbox, because thank you cards mean that someone has blessed you. And your baby looking out the front door much like your firstborn used to look out the front door and you have flashbacks of when, JUST YESTERDAY, he was that little. 

And you sit in the sunshine, listening to the wooden wind chimes singing in the breeze, and remember that this counting blessings is also soul feeding.

Just like fresh flowers.

26 January 2015

First Visit to the Dentist!

This morning, after many prayers for "courage like a big, bold lion" for our little boy, I took the kids to their first dental appointments. The pediatric dentist we went to came highly recommended by a dear friend I trust, so even though the office a little bit of a drive from our house, N and I felt like it would be worth it to take the kids there a couple times a year. We both enjoy our trips to the dentist for the most part. N used to tease me whenever I went to our dentist in NY, because it would take me so long. Not because I had any issues with my teeth, but because I would get to chatting with the awesome hygienist there while she was cleaning my teeth and an hour would easily go by! I LOVED that dental office; it's actually one of the things I was most sad to leave behind when we moved.

Anyway, we want visits to the dentist to be a positive experience for our kids, too.

I have to insert here that I feel a little shortchanged in my childhood medical experiences. I mean, we never got to go to special doctors. Heck, I don't even know if we had regular check ups other than when we made our summer trips every few years back to Korea! And I mean, check out this mural in the kids' examination room! And this isn't even including the giant Lightning McQueen in the corner!
All the "prep" part of the visit was great. The forms even included a little section asking about the kids' favorite foods, animals, colors, etc. and the receptionist inquired about our bearded dragon based on that form. Both kids played happily in the children's waiting room until Dr. Sarah was ready to see us.

Little Lady went first and did surprisingly well lying still while the dentist checked her two little bitty teeth and her gums. She's quite the wiggler now and isn't one to stay put for long periods of time, so I was glad that she complied so well. Big brother sat next to us, and I could sense that he was quite concerned, both for his baby sister [remember how he yelled at the nurses for "hurting my baby sister" when he came with us for one of her well-baby visits?] and for himself.

When it came to be his turn, he just burst out crying.

Dr. Sarah was great and finally, she convinced him to show her how he brushed his teeth at home, and in the process, she was able to get a decent look at all his teeth. She didn't talk down to him and I could tell that he was warming up to her. And I was pleasantly surprised to see that the toothbrush they had put in his bag was blue, his favorite color (I'm assuming that was intentional).

All in all, for a first visit to the dentist, I would say this was fairly successful!

We stopped to pick up a few groceries on the way home, and when we pulled into our driveway, B spotted our neighbor, Mr. David. He requested to go for a visit, so he ran next door while I put Little Lady down for her nap, brought in the groceries, and started dinner in the crock pot. I could hear him chattering away through the open kitchen window, and it made me thankful yet again for great neighbors.

He came running in soon enough, and after we all had lunch, I took the kids out to the backyard to play. The baby was content to be pushed in the swing while B and I played "hockey" with his plastic golf clubs, and once she was done, I let her explore in the grass while B "fast-roped" (if you haven't seen "Arthur Christmas," you should) up and down the little playhouse with a bit of rope I let him have. Little Lady crawled around, pulling up handfuls of grass and leaves, having the time of her life, and once we came back inside and I put B down for his nap, she stood at the back patio doors, just staring out into the great outdoors.

I'd better be careful, or she's going to be asking to backpack the Appalachian Trail solo. Just kidding.

Sort of.

15 January 2015

Home from School Early

Little Lady was fast asleep for her morning nap and I had dozed off in the armchair while I was waiting for the next load of laundry to dry. I heard her stirring, and as usual, she was all smiles and "Hiiiiiii!" when I walked in.

But there was All. The. Poop.

Honestly, we had it so easy with Little Man. I can count on one hand the number of bad poop incidents we ever had with him. Little Lady has been so much more prone to tummy troubles in her short life.

I'm hoping she'll grow out of it.

Anyway, with all the cleaning up involved, I somehow missed a phone call from B's preschool until I glanced at my phone forty minutes later and realized I had a voicemail message. The director said B had been sitting in a chair in the reading corner all day long and hadn't wanted to do anything all day, not even play. She said he went to music class with everyone else, but when they returned to the classroom, he sat right back down in that chair.

He wasn't causing trouble; he was just very still and quiet.

Which is SO not our little guy.

They took his temperature, and although he didn't have a fever, they thought I would want to know what was going on.

After calling back and talking to one of his teachers, I decided to go ahead and pick him up an hour early.

When A and I walked into the classroom, he was smiling and chatting with his lunch table buddies. Ms. A said that as soon as he had heard that I was coming, his whole demeanor had changed and he had pepped right up.

So we drove home, with me praying silently the entire way home for wisdom on how to connect with B's heart regarding whatever was wrong.  As we were pulling into our driveway, I felt prompted to ask B if he wanted to go to the playground.

Best decision of the day.

He laughed and ran and although I hadn't known whether it was the right thing to do at the time, I'm so glad I went to pick him up early today.

It gave us a precious, unexpected hour of playing together.
Digging through Brother's superheroes while he napped
Sometimes, taking an hour out of the day to just play is the best hour of the day.

14 January 2015

Life in Photos

I don't really have anything to write about tonight.

And before those of you who actually know me keel over in shock, let me clarify and say that the things that are at the forefront of my mind aren't blog-appropriate. At least, not in their current state.

So instead of writing, let me share a bit of what we've been up to over the past couple days in photos!
My whole family (except me) sleeps in this strange and uncomfortable looking position on a regular basis.
All bundled up for a brisk walk with a friend. Except the hands. Little Miss wouldn't keep her mittens on.
On the way back home, I noticed this van, with a sign for French classes, tutoring, and conversation. It made me nostalgic for a time when I was fluent enough to talk about history and politics in French, as well as read actual French novels.
Little Man likes to tinker around the house with his tools.
He is also still a terrific helper. This was pizza night!
Little Lady would like to help, too.
Doing some more "work" with his tools before bed

The kids both slept in until 8:30 this morning, so I had time to shower, get dressed, put on make up for BSF AND make/have breakfast with my husband before he left for work! What a rare treat ("rare" = hasn't happened since I don't know when)!
I can't believe she still fits in the infant car seat! B was out of this thing by 7 months, I think!
A trip to the library after BSF: B likes to "write" things down on the scrap paper by the computers in the children's area.
Photo by B

13 January 2015


Ten to fifteen minutes had passed since I had tucked B in for his nap.

Long enough that he should have fallen asleep.

Instead, from my comfortable seat in the living room where I had settled in with my tea and Bible study, I heard exuberant singing coming from his room.

When I walked in to halt the spontaneous music fest (because his sister's sleeping in her room next to his), his head popped up from the pillow with a huge grin and he said, "I just LOVE singing, Mama."

And because of what I had read this morning from Rachel Stafford, I was able to respond with love instead of irritation. I did still remind him that his sister was napping and that he needed to be quiet and go to sleep, but I was also able to tell him that I loved his singing, and that I would love to hear more after he had taken a good nap.

And as I picked up the stray toy airplane that Little Lady had left on the floor where she had been playing while I put away her brother's laundry earlier, I felt a little lump in my throat.

He really won't be this little forever and the days and weeks are flying by.

So I'm extra-thankful for this small interruption in my day, for reminding me to savor this.

12 January 2015

Mondays Are for Home

I don't know about you guys, but our weekends are always so busy and full of activity (even when it's just taking care of chores around the house) that when Monday rolls around, I like for us to just stay put if we can.
She wore that hat all morning long. We sang several repetitions of "Little Bunny Foo Foo" as a result.
This morning, after breakfast, the littles played so nicely together while I started a load of laundry and did a couple other home-loving duties that needed my attention. The two of them happily traipsed around the house in their respective get-ups, roaming from room to room with toys.
We had a fire fighter in our midst in the morning and Iron Man in the afternoon.
Little Lady likes to give hugs and kisses, even to the little plastic animals on the exersaucer.
 Because he had done so well with occupying his sister, I told Little Man that we could make play dough while the baby took her morning nap. A friend had shared a link to a glow-in-the-dark play dough recipe last week, and I thought it would be worth a try. B has always been a terrific helper, and we had fun concocting our batch of bright yellow play dough together.
Stirring up the dry ingredients with his own blue "whisker"
Taking a yogurt break to let the dough cool down
Kneading out the dough to make sure it's all even
"Awww! I have such a pretty little heart!"
Play dough is such fun!
Making bricks for a fort
Did you see my Jams? I keep saying this with almost every new wrap I wear, but out of all the ones I've worn so far, these probably represent me best.
You can wear them, too! Get yours HERE!
I just love words.

And books.

And writing.

Anyway, back to the play dough. We don't own a proper black light, but we DO have an amazing bug zapper! And friends, the dough definitely glows!
The remainder of our day was equally low-key. We had falafel wraps for lunch, B took a terrific, long afternoon nap, and Little Lady entertained herself underneath the dining room table blowing raspberries while I sorted through our mail.
Monday nights are supposed to be beans and rice nights; last year, I heard someone say that they have a weekly family beans and rice night in order to remember how the majority of the world lives (if you stop to think about it, the life we get to live here in America is pretty unreal). But I forgot to get beans yesterday, so I made Pioneer Woman's Spinach, Potato & Kale Soup ('tis the season for soup!), her version of Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana, which is at the complete opposite of the spectrum of beans and rice. It is scrumptious, albeit counterproductive to the goal of dropping some poundage. A friend mentioned that she uses bacon in hers (but compensates by using half-and-half instead of heavy cream). Have any of you tried this recipe? If you haven't, you must! It is a perfect soup for winter!
Beans and rice will have to happen another day.

Hope everyone's Monday was just as lovely!