6/21/16

moving day

Hey folks-

I'm not sure there are many people still popping in here. If you are, you are truly an optimist, my friend. ;) But I've been dusting off the writing skills and moving my words over to a new blog!

Why? Several reasons, including a more user-friendly server, better photo storage, and the reality that all the cool kids are hanging out on wordpress now (which just means it's better supported and developed).

For awhile now, I've been feeling the desire to move away from the "family blog" and more officially into a writing space. So here it is!

Join me at this & that.

1/10/16

ten days in


The new year is here. Fully here. Like happening for ten days now. I must say that when it comes to keeping resolutions, I am NAILING it, people! Just kidding. I'm actually not. But that's neither here nor there because I didn't put a lot of energy into making a list of resolutions.

And here are my reasons. 

#1. I hate lists (yes, I do see the irony in the fact that I just wrote that on a list.) The older I get, the more I am starting to "get myself" and the more I realize that (for me) lists are not a compilation of things TO DO. For me, lists are clarified expectations that will weigh on me mercilessly and articulate point by point all the things I didn't get done.  Lists condemn me. 

#2. I lose lists. So that's a problem, too. 

#3. It doesn't really work for me (the whole list of resolutions.) I can't focus on that many things at once. I can actually just barely feed and clothe us all. Which leads me to my actual resolution...

In 2016, I'm attempting to be my everyday self, living my everyday life, with more laughter and less stress. I want to joke with my kids. I want to be light-hearted. I want to not attach value or worth to meaningless things. I want to carry my blessings as blessings and not burdens. I want to chill out a little and reflect a lot. 

So far, I've had mixed results. I have taken moments with my kiddos to hang more, to listen with more focus, to ask questions, to let stories ramble on and on until they get to their confusing ending or not-so-funny punchline. I've been less worried about laundry and dishes, but it's also a bit out of hand after ten days. So I'm still in search of that balance of not stressing but still getting 'er done. You know what I'm saying?

Only two things are sure in life: dishes and laundry. 

But I'm trying to find ways to add a dose of light to the every day. One big hit has been the addition of a playlist to the bath time routine. The girls love that the same songs play as they splash around (including Splish-Splash and some tunes from Teen Beach Movie 2), and they're less likely to fuss about getting out when the "get out of the tub" song starts (which is "Stuck Like Glue" by Sugarland. Because seriously, soak a kid, lotion them up, and then try to peel on their tightly-fitted jammies. Stuck like glue pretty much sums it up.) 

So there you have it. Chasing a light heart; or maybe embracing it and letting other things chase themselves. I dunno. 

In other news, this little baby...


...is now 8 months old. In the new year, he is pulling himself up on furniture, added table food to his diet, and now says "da-da."

And he waves like a boss. 


We're straight up nuts about the baby around here. So that's super fun.

In other other news, I entered an essay contest and was selected to be published in an anthology! The book will come out in 2016, and my essay is on the topic of race, specifically about my thoughts on being white. The whole thing kind of came out of nowhere, but in the end it's been interesting on several levels. I enjoyed the process of reflecting and forcing out words. I've had several rich conversations with others about issues of race and discrimination. And I get to experience the publishing process in a very small-scale, low-stress way.  For the win!




Well...that's little bit about life in these parts. I hope your new year is bring new hope into your same old life. 

Thanks for reading. 

-B


12/8/15

maybe this one's for you

I'm on the couch, holding my breath and praying silent prayers that the quiet of this house might be here to stay for the evening. There's dishes and laundry and piles and crumbs; my body is still but my mind is on a treadmill as I assess the damage of the day and the possibilities of the two hours ahead. 

Maybe you're right there with me, trying to recover from another day that took so much out of you. If you are, this post is for you. 

The tree is up- unlighted and unornamented and standing awkwardly in a space that it doesn't really fit because we're trying not to have it in the baby zone. The kids and I couldn't locate the storage bins with the rest of our Christmas treasures, and,quite honestly, I didn't have much in me past getting the tree up. 

If your Christmas preparations are coming slow compared to the days flying off the calendar, if your level of unpreparedness is going from unsettling to near panic, this post is for you.

I'm flying solo...again...because these weeks have been busy ones for my husband. He's meeting the demands with such grace, gone on a moment's notice to walk into situations of high emotion and high mental energy, only to return to us hours later. 

If you're parenting alone, if your family is gone when you thought they'd be here, if your evenings don't always pan out with the ones you expected in attendance...this one's for you. 

Well, now that we're all here and convinced that we should be...what can I say to us? 

Some of you may need to hear that "this too shall pass," that the weight of today is not the weight that todays will always have. Seasons change eventually, and not every season has to be cherished. Just because you don't love every phase of your life, it doesn't mean you don't love the people that are central to that phase. So gather your people in and kiss the tops of their heads and move toward the turning of seasons. 

Maybe you need to hear that Christmas doesn't have to be awesome, that your kids will probably not remember the specifics of this year, that Jesus came no matter what the state of your tree is. If your heart is pounding from the business of Christmas, dim the lights and  light a candle and listen to this. Know that Jesus arrived in a busy time, but He came anyways. He has come, is with us, is near. Our preparations for Christmas can be an offering or a hindrance; I strongly suspect His expectations of you are not so high as your own expectations of yourself. 

And maybe this season finds you alone, either in surprising ways or in ways you've dreaded for months. Loneliness can be hard to pinpoint or explain,  and it can smart so deeply even in joyful moments. If you're feeling a shift in friendships, if you're missing someone who won't celebrate with you this year, if you don't understand how you can be surrounded by people and still feel isolated...I hope the peace of Christ will meet you right where you are.

The stillness is fleeting at times. The quiet moments that I need in order to make sense of all the loud ones, those have to be fought for or cultivated or stolen away from other things. I hope this Tuesday evening finds you resting or laughing or finding hope to push you into tomorrow. 

Good night, friends.

11/24/15

on embracing advent when your arms are already quite full

It's Advent again, that magical time of year when we scour pinterest and make lists and vow that this will be the year when do the season (and our expectations) justice. 

It's Advent again, which means let's declutter the house and pull out decorations and make it meaningful yet simple yet age appropriate yet not obnoxious. And amazing. Don't forget to make it amazing. 

It's Advent again, which means Christmas shopping is sneaking up on you so start your planning but don't spend too much but don't get caught at the last minute but don't obsess. 

It's Advent again, that time of year when something in you wants to slow down and light candles and wait and anticipate the coming of Christ but for some reason there's more parties and gatherings and too many good reasons not to slow down. 

It's Advent. So rest. As you accomplish more. So that it can be more meaningful. Which you can think about as you drive to things.

Maybe some of these realities resound with you as you turn your sights toward the Christmas season. I sat at church on Sunday and was struck by the thought of anticipation, of waiting for God to come to us, and how that waiting seems to be lost in a season of flurry.

Please know- I'm not saying down with decorating, down with parties, down with Christmasy stuff. It's not about any of that. The question I'm wrestling with is what does it really mean to cultivate a quiet pause in our family life for us to truly wait, to listen, to lean towards the coming of Jesus so that we can celebrate from way down deep?

How do I help my kids find meaning in the phrase, "God with us"?

How do I push the "holiday stuff" back, not excluding it from my life, but keeping it in its proper place?

How do I raise kids that love Jesus, that love Him so wholly that the story of His coming is sweet to them?

And how do I add anything, anything at all, to this crazy rhythm of my life when it feels like I'm barely making any of this happen? When I'm like a juggler that watches pins tumble to ground? When I feel that if my arms are so full, where is the room to embrace the meaning of this sacred season? 

I don't need more to do; none of us do. But I think I do need more of a few things: more quiet, more space to think about the bold step of Christ becoming man, more time to tell the old old story to my kids, more silence to contemplate what that coming means to me as a follower. 

And in order to have more of those things, I need less of others: less distractions, less input from voices and sources that don't matter to me, less time wasted, less worry about what it all looks like, less second guessing if I'll get it right. 

I want to wait, to tap my foot in impatience, to check the clock constantly, to feel the celebration of Christ's birth as if it is happening in real time. I want to acknowledge the bigness of it, to embrace the smallness of my own life, to ponder what the crossroads of those two realities could mean. 

I want to be less like the church girl who's heard the story a million times, "Yep, Christ came." And I want to be more like this...
He came! He's here!




So Advent, the season of holy anticipation, is upon us. Let's wait. Let's savor. Let's ditch the things that cause empty busyness and make space for things that are life-giving and truth telling. Let's renew our hearts to hear, and to wait, and to deeply, deeply celebrate.  


11/18/15

5 books for kids who walk to the beat of their own drum



Oh, books...how I love you so

This is true of me. I do love books. I love books from my childhood and books that speak to me and books that describe what I'm feeling better than I can. I love books that startle me and books that make me laugh and books that keep me up all night even though the littles are soon to rise. I even have a deep affection for my own flawed book. 

But guess what? Even with a love and knowledge of books that both run deep, it's hard for me to find books that my kids will love. Sometimes I nail it. Sometimes I strike out. And sometimes, a book that randomly got tossed into our library bag becomes somebody's favorite book. 

So here's five reads that inspire individuality. May they inspire the little readers in your life!

1. Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems 



Image result for naked mole rat gets dressed

We are big Mo Willems' fans at our place, and, surprisingly, most people that I recommend him to...well...they just don't feel it. But that's alright. Besides the brilliant Elephant and Piggy books and the rascally Pigeon, this particular book about a naked mole rat who bucks the status quo with his snappy dressing is such a fun read. 

And let's face it- your kids will giggle when you say the word 'naked' several times in one story. And just let them. 

2. Hilda Must be Dancing by Karma Wilson

Image result for hilda must be dancing 
You may recognize Karma Wilson from the well-known tales of Bear (Bear Feels Sick, Bear Snores On, etc.) but this book was our introduction to this author. In this picture book, Hilda the hippo expresses herself through a variety of dancing shenanigans, much to the dismay of her jungle friends. In the end, they find a compromise that let's Hilda be herself and her friends celebrate her individuality. Bonus points for the great outfits that Hilda sports. My four year old loves this one. 

3. Heroes Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Heally

Image result for hero's guide to saving your kingdom


I know, I know. You're tired of fairy tale reboots. But what if those fairy tales went wrong, the Prince Charmings all bumped into each other, and then set off on a quest to restore their good names and save the world? Major bonus points for characterizations and great illustrations. We've been reading this book aloud together and oh...the giggles, folks. So. Many. Giggles. And bonus points for the princesses, too. One princess in particular is a REAL PILL (and my girls love her for it...sigh). You'll have to read it to find out who!

4. Twisted Journeys books 



Remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books? Same idea here. Awesome plots? Nope. Startling narrative? Not really. Beautiful prose? Negative. BUT.... my eight year old boy will read them over and over, choosing and re-choosing his path through the book. He loves that his "fate" is in his own hands.  And today I caught him reading one aloud to his younger sister!!!! I'm sold. 

5. Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede



My girls want princess stories. What can I say? So over the last few months they've been listening to the audio books about Cimorene, a smart and practical princess who tires of royal living and leaves her kingdom to offer herself in service to a dragon. This is, after all, a respectable alternative to palace life. Cimorene not only befriends the dragons, she helps solve problems, makes new friends with other captured princesses, continues her Latin studies, and deals with the problem of those pesky wizards. Light-hearted, practical, a tad silly, and full of well-crafted story telling, the Enchanted Forest series is not your everyday fairy tale. It's full of stories your kids will listen to over and over. Trust me....I know!

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So many books, so little time.  Any books out there that your little people are loving?