Happy Valentine's Week . . . do you like Valentine's? My mom always made the day special and yummy and fun, so I've always seen it as more of a friends and family holiday. Around here at the moment, it means princess Valentine's for Karis's preschool class, ordering this book for the kids (it's such a winner, adorable rhymes and full of animals for Judah), writing a card and watching an anime movie for Trev, and BOGO Qdoba (a long standing tradition). And jello jigglers in heart shape, the fave tradition of Karis. We also snuck in a donut/coffee delivery to cousins Lee & Caroline and their baby Asher, and an afternoon outing to Barnes and Noble ("choo choo" said Judah, anticipating the trains). And all the way to Qdoba (over and over and over), "Bo-bo!"
But, how is it February, and for journal purposes I've not even recorded Christmas? The memories remain, just yesterday Karis was reminiscing about Christmas: "It's my favorite holiday. I love being in Bismarck, and celebrating baby Jesus, and all the special meals, and presents!" We did have a delightful Christmas season. And then the year started off with many beautiful bangs . . .
- New Year's - on the eve, cousins and their baby came over for apps and the game "Love Letters" (oh, fun). Per tradition, we were snoozing by 10:30. On the day, Grandma & Grandpa Pan arrived for a couple days of random fun and a pizza party, dinner at Freehouse, some errand running and sale grabbing.
- Friend visit - the Schunk family stayed here mid week on their way back to IA, and we loved getting to know Malachi (he is delicious) and catch up with these fab friends. Most delightful was watching Karis school Jacob in all things princesses. He was a captive audience and her joy was complete.
- Mid winter visits - Grandma and Grandpa Pope arrived for a weekend of catching up around meals and mall walks and dress shops and power walking and Judah-in-arms-dancing. And celebrating Grandma Jim's 94 birthday, wow.
- Trev's company party - Uncle Drew graciously came over for the dinner hour and beyond so Trev and I could go to his company holiday party together at Radisson Blu. Super fun to meet his people and enjoy the atmosphere together (and play black jack together in an effort to win more raffle tickets).
- Retreat - the Children's Leadership Team that I'm (so thankfully and humbly as the nursery coordinator) a part of at church had our annual prayer/work retreat in Amery, WI. It was powerful in ways I can't even give words to. The vision for the children at our church, for the calling on their lives - I'm grateful my children can be part of this village. On top of the quiet, the candles, the intention, the togetherness of these 6 inspiring women - our lovely leader cooked every meal and nourished us heart and soul and body.
- Pope sibling Christmas date night - J & C came and we celebrated Christmas as siblings, a dinner out at Red Stag and evening hang here (added bonus, the sitter put the kids to bed successfully, so great). Love those people, the gals had fun ribbing the guys and sharing stories of socks everywhere and also their endearing qualities.
- Disney! - its own post coming soon, but was so epically wonderfully magical and memorable. Deserving of its own page, for sure.
- Christmas gift retreat - I can hardly manage to share this, it was so over the top, undeserved, once in a lifetime, pinch me is this happening. A few husbands got together and planned a weekend for a few wives. They even created a web site, made a puzzle and gave us each a piece to figure it out . . . this was back in December. The web site unfolded a girls' weekend away to downtown Mpls (perfect distance!) and gave us plenty to look forward to. We all eagerly anticipated the time together (half the fun is talking about and planning such things), and the drama the week before involved lots of "My son just threw up/I have pneumonia/my daughter has an ear infection . . ." So, we were thrilled when the plan was indeed carried out. We walked around practically pinching ourselves as we lingered at Glam Dolls, Mpls Institute of Art, French Meadow, lounged in our motel room, walked across the street to the Melting Pot for dinner, to a town car (!!!!!!) to the Guthrie. Thoroughly loved A Midsummer Night's Dream. Thoroughly loved descending the escalator to our waiting towncar (!!!!). Back to the hotel where we were surely the only ones retiring at midnight - the place was hopping. Slept in until 6:30 (that is not sarcastic), lounged and ate leftover donuts and departed for our 90 minute massages (crazy!), to Dagby's for burgers, to the mall for errands, to Caribou to decompress before re-entry. It was amazing and I don't take even a second of it for granted. Nor do I take my fam for granted - it was bliss to be back together, even though Judah was climbing me like a monkey and melted for 2 days every time I left his sight.
Of course, when the cat's away, the mice will play - the kids and Trev had a great time going to Edinborough indoor park with friends, the library, Little Caesars in front of Cinderella. Trev is an amazing father and I know he enjoyed having the children to himself for a bit.
I've been reading over and over in every form possible (board books, Karis's books, my Book) about Jesus calming the storm. And I know, I know - there are no storms here to be seen. BUT, at times there are waves. The recent one was another round of being sick here right before our vacation. Judah was out of his gourd miserable, Trev was working most evenings, and the night before we flew I ended up with plugged ears and an earache (which might seem silly - but my eardrum popped on a flight in college and it was the worst pain ever and I now live in fear it will happen again. So this random plug/pain was incredibly stormy in my little lake here). I just felt this call to trust, trust, trust. In the little things. In the big things. To be calm, to ride the wave, to know God cares. That's the feeling that remains (because even as I write this I can hardly recall the waves). Indeed, my waves are small. God cares.
I just not-coincidentally read from Bittersweet (Shauna Niequist):
"The most important thing I learned (about waves) is this: if you try to stand and face the wave, it will smash you to bits, but if you trust the water and let it carry you, there's nothing sweeter. . . I know that to another person my difficult season would have been a walk in the park, and that all over teh world, people suffer in unimaginable ways and manage far worse than my own little list. I was miserable because I lost touch with the heart of the story, the part where life always comes from death. I love the life part . . . I failed to live with hope and courage and lived instead a season whining, self indulgence, and fear . . .I began to live a much smaller story, and that story was only about me. I wanted an answer, a timeline, and a map."
This happened to me . . . thankfully caught it, but wow my reaction was very similar to the author's. Not a lot makes me angry, but this, this makes me livid. Enough said.
Loving this blog that focuses on reading aloud (some dear, book club friends were recently featured on a podcast here).
And need to state again, it's not all roses. The moods of a 2 year old and trying to keep the waters calm inside and outside (of me), to set the tone of our home in the midst of busy seasons, to create an atmosphere of creativity yet instilling boundaries. I find parenting to be fully engaging of every part of my being - I often get the urgent sense of "this is the only today we have!". Trying to be our best without striving for perfection, all the fruits of the spirit, giving time and attention to marriage. Well, Lord help me, always.
Something I'm trying to do daily is "love with my eyes". Give my attention, be intentional in the words I say and how I say them, to get down to Karis's level, to enter her world. It's a choice, every day. Because so often, inside I am yearning for: quiet. to get something done. to do nothing at all. to control anything. The moments are rich, the highs are high, the dips feel low at the time but in retrospect not a big deal . . . the growth is significant.
Recent reads (me):
- They Came Like Swallows
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families
- Hands Free Mamma
- Beyond the Bedroom Wall
- Far from the Madding Crowd
- Understanding Betsy (a children's book that Karis wasn't interested in but is drawing me in)
- Joy in the Snow
Recent reads and "stuff" (Trev):
- I'm Ok, You're Ok
- (listening) to Bob Dylan's latest album with some music-y friends
- going by a friend's invitation to a T-wolves game and enjoying the view from a suite
- visiting Buster's, an old fave, in honor of a good friend's birthday
- re-igniting P90x3
Redent reads for Karis. Who no, doesn't read, so I am continuing to savor our cuddles together while perusing beautiful children's literature together:
- The Josefina Story Quilt
- My Island Grandma
- The Smartest Bear and his Brother, Oliver
- Nate the Great (audiobook)
- Charlotte's Web
- Jack (we love Tomie DePaola books and this new one is a winner)
- Peter Pan
A couple book quotes:
From Beyond the Bedroom Wall (a meaningful read for me - I had the author as a teacher for a few classes in college and he truly poured into my life and writing with encouragement and critique)
"There was such a rush and array of detail to daily life (to say nothing of the eternity of detail inside your mind), when your life was divided among husband and children and housework and keeping peace and social obligations and relatives and friends and the community, that there seemed no time of room left for the form there was (in a past age of time). The particular mind."
From Hands Free Mama
"Let joyful imperfection be the chorus of our lives"
I've been amazed and loving lately how the random books I'm reading are hitting the spot - in heart ways, but also in Holiday ways. One took place at Christmas during Christmas (Goudge), New Year's when it was New Year's (Woiwode), one mentioned Epiphany at Epiphany (I forget which book), and just today Hands Free Mama shared a story about Valentine's Day. It's the little joys for me (obviously).
Also this week I read from The Joy of the Snow, and this quote was so refreshing and reminded me or Judah: "Then (when the author was young) in company with all children and most dogs, I thought snow the wonder of the world. The snow-light filling the house with magic as the white flakes drifted down in windless silence . . . how could snow not be one of the wonders of the world?" And indeed, one of the memories from this winter I want to savor is him watching/seeing snow and in his sweet exuberance, saying "snooooow!"
- "I kinda like boys. I don't know why? Maybe it's for their looks or just how they are" (AHHHHH????!!!)
- "I know you just can't marry a man you just met. You have to have lots of dates before you get married" (while talking about Frozen)
- "I wish me and Judah were triplets! Then we could wear the same things every day" (after reading Flicka, Ricka, & Dicka)
- "Daddy, come here at once!"
- Latest imaginary play is house and library
- "Momma, I have an idea. Someday we should stay up all night and sleep all day"
- "Okay momma, Judah and I went to the market upstairs to buy a fat pig, but it wasn't there so I got a barbie and Judah got crayons"
- "And the internet just brought us Cinderella like a flash!"
- "We're going to the GYM!" she was elated to go to open gym at a local place, ran for two hours straight and I look forward to her (hopefully) trying out lessons next season
- "Let's pull up the Grandma Carole chairs!" (love those chairs)
- "Well, I'm just kind of nervous for Valentine's Day. You know, all that pink . . . "
- She continues to set up picnics, play library, work on letters, talk endlessly about princesses and their palaces, and adores Judah completely
- Says "cookie" as "CAH-coo"
- "Ahhhh-nie!" (Annie, the sweet woman who watched the children during a meeting I have once a month)
- "Da-da!" (said while pulling into the garage and seeing Trev's picture as "Tobias" up on the wall)
- New-ish words are "Elmo! Noah! Home. Hat. Hot. Puffball. Cheerio. Slide. Hot dog. Cinderella. Duck. Happy. Got you."
- Points to his diaper and tries to say "di-pa" when he needs it changed
- He can point to, recognize, say: "Anna, Elsa, Cinderella (Yella!)"
- Knows what he wants in such an intense way. We call him our "Owly baby" (he loves the book Owl Babies and can say it clearly)
- He's started engaging with/playing along with other kids at play places/play groups. Especially boys just older than him, he cracks up and chases them endlessly
- Signs and says "please" in a sweet way (but of course always always needs to be reminded)
- "Two!" He loves things in twos and names them quite accurately
- "Nose! Toe!" he loves to name toes, especially on the little dog he's taken to carrying around
- "Down!" again, quite accurately
- "Bo-bo!" (his way of saying Qdoba)
- Had his 2 year well check and is almost 3 feet tall and 28 pounds. While taking blood, the nurses said, "Wow, haven't had one like him in a while". The guy is strong.
- "Tea!" he discovered the tasty beverage and loves it
- "Cah-ee" while pointing to my coffee mug
- "Eee-deee!" for Edith, his favorite friend at church
- He loves his crib and wants to lay there endlessly. I'm pretty sure he wakes up earlier than we think and just enjoys some quiet time there. When we do go get him, he wants us to just be in there with him and wails when I try to pluck him out of his haven
- "No, no, Noah!" easy to say and one of his fave books
- "Puh-bah!" for puff ball, a great love of his
- Dinner time is colorful, lately he wants out of his high chair and climbs into Trev's lap to see what tasty offerings he might have