Tuesday, December 30, 2014

on becoming a streaker.

I am a January girl.  I love new calendars and goals for the year.  I love the freshness of a new year, seeing new joggers on the street and dreaming of what’s next.

I read through a quick and convicting little book today about setting mini-habits.  The premise is that we set too lofty of goals that rely on motivation (which will fail at some point), and that people would be better off with tiny, mini-goals in order to trick our brains into compliance.  It is for that reason that I am sitting down tonight to type out 5o words on my fancypants new macbook.  It is also why I ridiculously ran around our shop 5 times.  Don’t be impressed.  It’s not that big of a shop.  The idea is if your mini-habit is laughably small, you’re on track.  So here are my mini-goals for 2015:

* Run around the shop one time every single day.  Yep, that one is laughably easy and once I hit my goal, I ran 4 additional laps.  Like a rockstar.  Except it would take me 20 times around the shop to make a mile and I don’t even want to think about how many laps to hit a half marathon.  Still, hitting that  teeny tiny goal felt good and I think the author might be on to something.  He referred frequently to his own experience of dramatically changing his fitness level by challenging himself to complete one push up per day.

* Read one sentence of the Bible every morning.  Be thou impressed.  I’m sure it would take me eons to read the whole thing at that rate but my hope is that committing to putting my body in the chair will improve the amount of bible I’m reading lately.

 * Write fifty words per day.  So far I’m at 332.  Easy peasy.

What are your goals for the year?  Have you ever thought of doing mini-goals?  What laughably small thing could you commit to do now?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

grace in a minivan.

She asked for music in the car.  Truth be told, I wanted silence.  But I slipped in her CD.
Kids' songs were the soundtrack to a day full of errands.  Veggie Tales gave way to worship songs and my big girl sang:

You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of dust. 
You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of us.

Our imperfect voices together and I was undone.  

My childhood was not like hers.  He makes beautiful things.

He also makes funny things.  This picture, for example:

Friday, December 19, 2014

that one time we accidentally took our three kids to buy 9 carts full of groceries.

So this week has been rough.  Really really rough.  Swearing under my breath, sitting in a puddle of tears rough.  There was sweetness:  Claire singing "Happy Birthday, Jesus" in our capitol building with the rest of her elementary school.  And hard moments:  showing up to get a grocery list at church and finding out that I was signed up to pick up (among other things) 298 boxes of generic macaroni and cheese.  And yet, we managed.  It was not very graceful.  But we fulfilled our obligations, finished up the final parties and projects, took gifts to our teachers and spent today, this first day of vacation in our jammies.  We might do the same tomorrow.

Last night, I served a meal to our church's Teen MOPS group with my dinner group girls.  Then we ate matching burgers and giggled at Venti's.  Sometimes, relief doesn't come.  You know you're going right back into the thick of it.  But bouda burgers and those girls are good for my soul.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

food olympics 2014

That great summer when Auntie Mel lived with us, she decided that sometimes I participate in my own personal food olympics.  I love to cook, but I especially love to not have to cook, so if I can prep a bunch of stuff early, I am a happy lady.

Today, we made a few things.  We made this tasty ice cream and orange faux-tatoes, gravy my kids won't eat, breadless stuffing and grain free pumpkin bars.  Also, my kids dressed two turkeys.  Pro tip:  maybe don't eat the one Everett was working on.

Because I am insane, after the kids went to bed, I mixed up a batch of chai tea.  This has become my standard Christmas gift for teachers and this year feels like the year to do things early.

This was supposed to be the year we didn't host, but I couldn't do it.  I love Thanksgiving.  I love the meal and the people and the chaos and that its a day that is all about being together and being grateful.  May your imperfect meal with your imperfect people be as wonderful as ours.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

hi, lyna.

I saw an old friend this morning that informed me that I am a good writer who never writes anything anymore.  Um, thank you?  Somewhere between child number 2 and child number 3, I completely lost my ability to write anything more exciting than a grocery list.

This from the girl who was writing (horrible, cringe-worthy) poetry as a child and writing for the student newspaper through high school and college.

I miss telling my stories, but I rarely slow myself enough to write them down.  The kids are growing (like weeds).  Life has just gotten busier.  We run at a pace that I don't love but I don't know how to change.  It is difficult to collect your thoughts when there is flag-football and ballet practice and where's my library book?  and friday folders and important room-mom related emails to send.

Just sitting in the chair is hard.  I am more distracted than ever.  Last night I watched an old episode of "Parenthood" while online shopping and cleaning out my closet.  This is not good.  I think that if I fill my ears up with noise, it is easier to ignore my beating heart.  The heart that beats to produce more than a grocery list, no matter how epic.

Eight years ago, I chose to stay home and nurture my small baby because that was what I wanted to do.  I knew that if I wanted to return to work, I absolutely could, but I didn't want to miss out on her.  Even though I chose to be home, it was still hard.  Part of what kept me sane in those first lonely months, was my body in a chair, my hands on a keyboard, my words on a page.  I find this still true as ever.

Thanks, Lyna.  For reminding me.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

kindergarten v 2.0

Once I knew a boy who insisted on wearing pink cowboy (cowgirl?) boots everywhere he went. On his big sister's first day of kindergarten, he dropped his pants and took care of business all over the parking lot of her new school. Meanwhile, his baby sister blew out a diaper in that parking lot and their mama stood helpless as she tried not to cry.
Today, I picked up that boy in that same parking lot. He wore Nikes. He didn't dream of taking care of any business. He stood quietly in line. The little sister hasn't needed a diaper in well over a year. In our first go-round of kindergarten I had a baby strapped to me everywhere we went. Now, she runs.
 Today, it wasn't leaving him in the classroom or the impossible cuteness of the cubby or his smart backpack that made me cry. It was remembering who they were three years ago that did me in.
We spend a lot of time wondering who they will become. Who they have been is pretty great too.

Monday, September 01, 2014

a summer in review.

Tomorrow I take my sweet three year old to preschool for the first time.  It has been a tremendous summer.  I can't think of one thing on our list that we didn't get to do.  As I type this, my two big kids are nestled into the vanagon for one last sleepover.  Little sister abandoned ship around 9:30 last night for the comforts of her own bed.

This was the summer of kid dates.  Each week I took a different kid on a date.  I plan to continue this tradition through the fall as long as they'll let me.  Even if I have to bribe them with rootbeer floats.

Because I am a girl who loves fall, I have a new calendar, back to school pants (for myself), a giant list of soups I want to make and a whole mess of goals to see me through the next few months.  I'm ready to dive back into old (and new) rhythms.  Here we go!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


We have this ratty crib mattress with Cinderella sheets that we keep around to occasionally use as a raft when the kids play boats or a wrestling mat or a surfboard for launching little sisters down the basement stairs.  It also makes a fantastic sick bed.  When my babies (yes, even the "baby" who is now 8) get sick, I like them close.  Last night, I watched, helpless as Mister had a fever that turned into a seizure that turned into several terrifying moments when I was sure that we had lost him, right there on that crib mattress.

I am familiar with febrile seizures, but because he hadn't had any since he was two, I wasn't prepared for how it would feel to watch him rigid and unresponsive afterward.  A post-seizure baby is very different from a big boy so spent that he can't speak.   In those dark moments I wondered what life would be like for him and for all of us if this thing that happened to him transformed him forever.

Nate remained calm, spoke to him with love when there was no light in his eyes, prayed that he would return.

And he did.  Thank you Jesus for your hand on this one.  For giving us days upon days with him.  For reminding me that life is always fragile.  Thank you for cinderella sheets on an old crib mattress.

Please pray for Everett while we await test results and (I hope) next steps.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

home! gifts & other things.

One of the best parts of last week's roadtrip was hanging out with dear friends that we don't see often.  Angie reminded me of Ann Voskamp's book 1,000 Gifts and challenged me to dust off my list of gifts and just start counting.  Life has felt so fast lately and I feel like I'm missing so much.  It's true that keeping a record of it slows time somehow.  Here are some highlights from the week:

332.  When Reptile Man asked for volunteers to put a boa constrictor back in its box, only one of my kids raised a hand.

320.  He caught a fish!  And when Daniel "caught" Everett's hand, Nate knew exactly what to do.
324.  Fresh berries from right down the street.

This summer, I want to notice.  While they are small. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

i want to remember, quotes from today.

Ingrid Ru:  I want to be a princess and a fireman when I grow up.

Claire Elisabeth:  If we were kids at the same time, do you think we'd be buddies, Mom?

Yes, sweetgirl, I'm sure of it.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

on giving the right gifts.

If you know me at all you know that I am a gift person.  Of the love languages giving gifts is probably the most shallow, but it happens to be my favorite.

Next week, Nate has a big deadline for work and in an effort to help him, I planned an elaborate outing with the kids for today so that he could get some work done.  I thought I was being helpful. He told me he didn't think this was a good idea.  And I was irritated.   What he wanted?  To take the three of them to the park to play baseball.  I could not relate.  I am never alone, I was offering him the exact gift that I wanted, but it wasn't what he needed.  He needed those three noisy toothlessless ones.  Hitting balls and climbing all over him.

Last night my wise husband sat across from me at dinner and asked me what I really wanted.  In a small voice, I told him I wanted the house to myself.  And by 9 AM the vanagon was loaded up and they were off for an adventure.

Sometimes you have to listen in order to offer the gift that is truly wanted.  And, harder still, sometimes you have to speak in order to receive the gift you need.  Because really, who wants to give the wrong gift?  Not this girl.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

i left my heart in san francisco.

This weekend I did life without my boys.  Nate took Everett with him for a man trip.  They ate burgers, they slept in the truck, they didn't shave.  My boy was bummed because he was going to miss his t-ball game Saturday, all the while, Nater was sitting on tickets to a Giant's game.  Isn't that the way we are?  We long for t-ball and our Father wants to put us between the dugout and homeplate at a professional baseball game.  If we only knew what He had in store for us.

Grateful for the memories they made this weekend.  Grateful for safe travels and my remarkable, ordinary life.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

love notes.

Today is the last day of being 7.
I might miss being the age 7.
Tomorrow is April 24 my birthday.
Tonight I wrote this.  April 23, 2014
2nd grade.  Claire (in beautiful cursive, with a heart over the i)

These are the last few moments of seven for you.  You asked me tonight if 8 is a lucky number.  I think it will be, Claire.  Claire Elisabeth. Bright one.  A gift consecrated to God.  

No one was more surprised than I was at how much I loved and still love being your mom.  I love that you still will hug and kiss me in front of your friends.  I love to watch you care for your brother and sister.  You are fierce.  And hilarious.  You crack me up all the time.  You read 1057 pages for the read-a-thon this year, which just has to be a record.  

Thank you for taking a scared girl who didn't know what she was doing and making her into a Mama.
I love you to the ends of the universe.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

boy oh boy.

We have a very great babysitter named Maggie who was watching the kids the other night.  Everett started to head outside to work in his workshop.  Maggie reminded him to put on a jacket.  This was his response:

Everett:  "Maggie, I am a man.  And men don't wear jackets when we work outside."

Saturday, March 22, 2014

happy happy birthday, baby.

Dear Ingrid Ru,
This week you turned three.  We celebrated you Saturday with a Minnie Mouse party. You requested oatmeal, hardboiled eggs and cauliflower for your special birthday dinner.  Yum?

This week has been a flurry of activity.  I planned colonial day for the second graders at Claire's school.  There were lots of last minute colonial-type things to attend to.  We also were in preparation for spring break and finishing up big projects.  We had another friend's birthday celebration this week and lots of late nights.  I hope in the shuffle you felt really loved.  I think you still did.  We rode the carousel on your birthday and over and over you showed me how you'd been practicing holding up three fingers to indicate your age.

You're the kid who never calls me mama unless she wants something.  You love Minnie Mouse, the movie Frozen, strawberry ice cream and mommy best of all.

I'm glad I still make the cut.  You definitely make mine.

Monday, February 17, 2014

dear claire.

When you remember today I hope you remember that I put bacon on your salad and that we played at the Gilbert House.  I hope you remember that I brushed your hair for ballet and let you build a fort in the living room.   Please remember how I blindfolded you so you could practice walking without being able to see, because for some inexplicable reason, this was important to you today.

I hope you forget the moments that I so desperately needed a do-over.  When I was sharp and impatient and irritable.

It's easy with the oldest one to expect perfection.  To forget to see that you are small because you're so much bigger than your brother and sister.  Today, I am grateful for grace and do-overs and the power of bacon on a salad.

I love you, Clairegirl.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

forced stop.

We've had a little storm this week and it was just what we needed.

There have been brother/sisters sleepovers and snowball fights and a certain little boy who spent hours outside just rolling in it.

We have sledded with friends and drank hot chocolate and snuggled and enjoyed each other.  I introduced them to the Narnia books and the Frozen soundtrack has been on repeat.

School was cancelled again today, as the last of it melts.  Like a kid, I am excited for another day playing with my most favorite three.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

new and exciting reasons to get out of bed.

"You haven't flossed me yet."

"I think the tag of my pants is in my buns."

"A baby bear just peaked at me through my window and crawled on the roof."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

an extravagant gift.

When I met Nate he was a self-employed bachelor living alone in a tiny house.  He made beams and spindles for lowering vw buses and sold them online.  The website was in its infancy.  He was the funnest boyfriend because he was always willing to skip an afternoon of work to go fishing or for a hike.  He'd frequently nap on the floor of his tiny house in the afternoon.  I think he needed to earn like $500 a month to pay his rent and utilities and his food budget was mostly krusteaz pancakes, top ramen and burittos.

Fast forward twelve years.  Not surprisingly, our house payment is a bit more than $500.  We also rent shop space.  And pay a couple of employees.  He builds a lot more than beams and spindles and I haven't seen him take a nap on the floor in a decade.

Today is my 37th birthday and he gave me the very best gift.  Precious hours alone in my house to think and dream and rest.  In this busy season, there is always someone underfoot and usually that someone is talking at loud volumes.  Nate is busy too and can rarely take time away during a busy work day.  After driving Claire to school, he took those other two kids with him for some fun with dad.

All so that this introvert could get a moment alone.  He loves me well.

Also I got a birthday card from a 2 1/2 year old nasty pink bunny.  What more could a girl hope for?

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

i will sing of your mercies that lead me through valleys.

On this the first week of the new year, while I've read about resolutions and grand plans I have walked around with a pit at the bottom of my stomach.  A pit that I put there myself.  Nate and I carelessly failed to read some important paperwork and the only fault was our own.  Nate graciously took some of the blame, but this landed on me. Nater does the shop bills, I do the home ones.  It's our arrangement and it works for us.  I practically majored in paperwork and red tape (social work), so this burden fell on me and I completely missed the boat.

For three days I sat nervously, sure that this oversight was going to cost us.  Cost our kids.  We each made calls.  Sent emails.  Ate crow.  Slept in fits and felt like boneheads.

Before the sun rose this morning, Nate made one last call.  A funny quirk of our 1930's house is that if it is quiet, I can hear his conversations in the basement office if I'm sitting on the couch upstairs.  I slid to my knees and began to pray,  prepared to pay the price for my carelessness.

I am humbled at the Provision that we continue to receive.  For the grace that we absolutely do not deserve.  For the certainty that even if we had to pay the penalty for this mistake, He is still good and we would be okay.   It has been a very long time since I have felt the full weight of my foolishness and after three days certain that I would indeed feel it, our loving Father rescued us from our own carelessness.  And I am grateful.  I wouldn't have chosen self employment for our family.  I would have chosen security and certainty and a 401(k) for sure.  But the God of the universe reminds me that this family is in His very able hands.

I am so glad.

So so glad.

Friday, January 03, 2014


For the second day of the new year, I got to have a date with this boy*.  It may have involved cheesecake.  And now I'm blogging about it.

Knocking the resolutions out, folks.

*Weird smile courtesy of taking his picture before he took a bite of tasty cheesecake.