Monday, March 30, 2015

On Lent and Reading

It's a bullet and list-y kind of time of life here . . . and so . . . the long and short of things


I do so love this season - winter into spring, darkness into light, death into resurrection.

The liturgy our children's Pastor put together for families has been a semi-fixture of our days. The child starts by saying "Create in me a clean heart, o God" and everyone else replies, "and renew a right spirit within me".

Lent becomes a time of digging deep for me - of looking inside, at how my actions and attitudes need cleaning up. I've been aware this particular season of God's gentleness and grace as He does this work from the inside out. Random verses and books (not coincidences, mostly passages from Anne Lamott's Small Victories, and Gladys Hunt's Honey for a Woman's Heart) met me over and over, and over and over with things I needed to hear and process. About identity in Christ, about forgiveness and grace and growth and eternity. I'm so grateful. And so very much in process, always. That's life, right? I did also sneak in a viewing of Chocolat, a favorite and so seasonally appropriate.

I also feel this nudging and awareness of what I'm thinking about . . . and trying to refine those thoughts. It's liberating that we can actually choose our thoughts, and how that can change feelings/attitudes/actions. Ironically, I've been learning a lot from my kids - sometimes I can suggest a new thought and send them in better directions, so clearly I can do this for myself too.

To send us into hopefully thoughtful places, we've been doing a lot of Pray as you Go . . . (although I usually only half listen while getting breakfast ready). And plenty of Fernando Ortega and Sarah Reeves. "Sing to Jesus" moved me to tears this morning at the Palm Sunday service, as they changed the banners to red and I couldn't help but remember it really is my sin that put him there. As we enter Holy Week, I pray for the right balance of repentant reflection with hope and victory and the joy of the end of the story. What wondrous love is this, oh my soul.

The happenings: 

- Pope clan gathering in Alex: sweet winter getaway, the first of its kind of just the parents/sibs/spouses. Memorable moments included a time of blessing, water park, lots of hanging, Karis soaking in puzzle and reading time, Judah eating all of Cassie's food while sitting her in lap, walleye dinner,  coffee talks.

- Cousins couples weekend: dear sister cousins and their sig others camped out on our main floor for a quick weekend (what sports!) and we loved doing life with them. They loved on the kids, read books, did puzzles, took Karis out for lunch (and she helped them shop, of course!), broke bread together many times. Snuck in a trip to Glam Dolls too, always fun to share our faves with fam. So grateful to see their couple-selves, strong relationships and honoring and respectful and loving and inspiring.

- 2nd Anniversary of living in our home: why not celebrate? Papa Murphy's and "happy bummer weird" about moving. That moving day was so overwhelming for me, it's a welcome feeling that we're settled and sleeping and just here. SO THANKFUL for this home. And for all the help getting here, and for the moving day (one of the bright spots was whisking the kids away to Mel's, who helped settle me down and get Karis a nap and just keep us company. Life saver). Also memorable, Debbi Jo unpacking my kitchen and short-sheeting our bed (along with her hub). Yes, grateful.

- Flying parties: sometimes to the tune from Peter Pan, "We Can Fly!". Captivating. Hilarious. Get the wiggles out goodness.

- 60th b-day party: what joy to celebrate with family! Kirk E is worthy of a weekend party, we met in Alexandria and he and Nancy planned the time beautifully (not to mention laboriously, so much prep to spoil us all for this occasion): togetherness, table talks, a little sledding adventure, rest, a Tinkerbell movie, a little Sequence playing and some home cooking. Happy Birthday to You, what a gift you are.

- 30th b-day party: My lil brudder turns 30 in April and his wife threw an amazing and wildly successful surprise party for him. For me and Trev, it was a true treat to leave at bedtime (went well, even - thanks neighbor Chelsea). We loved hanging with framily, and seeing Drew literally blown over when the big surprise happened. Many came to honor his life, and I know why and am so grateful for his life (and really, M, what a gift and he is a lucky guy)

- 33rd b-day week: Whoa, it was a week, turns out I'm really a seasoned stretch it out celebrator. Some fancy Groupon dinners . . . a delightful one with D & M, then our first fam of four fancy outing to Lord Fletchers. The eve of the day we loved having dear Auntie Amy, her mom Ruth & Aunt Dar here for Jets, what bliss to be with an old and dear friend. Being known by family and friends is the greatest gift always. Icing on the cake are things that make me feel so understood: lip gloss & scarf, words of affirmation and beautiful cards, fancy thank-you notes, macaroons, tea. I feel so grateful. Time with friends, traditional Potbelly dinner with fam. So much sweet, thick icing! And then making pudding and watching American Tale with Karis - throwback. A highlight was facetime with my parents, and having Karis open and claim my gifts . . . magic bullet, lovely purse, new polish pottery plates - more and more I think birthdays are for the parents, who nourished and continue to pour into my life. I'm beyond blessed by their celebratory ways. Tulips and words from Trevor, my treasure. Ever patient and kind, generous and good. You know your getting older when your birthday gifts to yourself are quality fish oil, a parenting book, and re-opening the extra holes in your ears (was so funny to watch Karis be surprised that they existed. I was surprised they still opened). I really do love getting older.

- Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe puppet show: Karis is captivated! The 1st grade class at her next school put on the production (she had some friends in the performance). We listened to the story over lunch time for a couple weeks, and now Trev's reading it out loud at night. Ahhh, love it.

Why Read (and how it affects my writing . . . and why write): 

I've been thinking a lot lately about why I read and write. The reasons are endless, and I believe both things are just a big part of who God has made me. I love words in all ways - spoken, written, sung, sighed, exclaimed. We all have different passions, and I'm thankful to be hopefully living into them more and more, leaving behind the "shoulds" and embracing the inspiration instead. And as often happens, many "not coincidental" readings have put into words some of what I feel/think/believe/live.

"Words name things. Words open up our imaginations. We clothe our experiences in words and save them. I can transcend myself with words and attempt to let you into my personal world, telling you who I am - and you can do the same with me. All of which makes the world more habitable and less lonely"

"When what I read is good prose or good poetry, it affects my own use of words. More than that, it makes my spirit soar. The right use of language is a gift for the heart."

"I read as a way to work through problems in life; celebrate my joys; for enjoyment, entertainment, because I love beauty. I read to savor my memories."

". . . God seems to know just where I am. It's amazing the way just the right book comes into my life at just the right time. These so-called happenstances, which are probably heaven sent, are often life changers. Sometimes the right books stimulate new devotion, new resolve, new ways to think . . ." (the irony is how much HER book is doing that all for me as I read it. I feel that I owe her a heartfelt letter of thanks for articulating so many things in my heart/mind)

And then there's this excellent blog post by a dear woman in our church.

Sometimes I write because, as Elizabeth Goudge says in The Joy of the Snow, "something has to be done to ease the pressure of certain types of joy". This has rarely been more true than in this season of motherhood. Writing is the way my heart speaks and expresses and captures.

Some other recent quotes: 

"The greatest battles battles of life are fought daily in the silent chambers of the soul" (David O. McKay, quotes in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families)

Life gives us disappointment . . . something hurts us, we feel let down. If we nurture our pain, disappointment pushes us down another step. I know of only one remedy, and that is to 'offer the sacrifice of praise,' to discipline ourselves to thankfulness for all that is good in our lives. It takes a decision." (from Honey for a Woman's Heart)

From Anam Cara:
". . . there is a place where our vanished days secretly gather. The name of that place is memory . . . "

From The Joy of the Snow (seemed so apt for the Lenten season):
"Yet in the practice of a strict discipline of penance there is joy. There are few joys so great as the joy of a sense of forgiveness and without a sense of sin one cannot know it."

From Something Beautiful for God (a book about Mother Teresa, this quote is a part of her 'way of love' and really made me think of parenting):
" . . . make me appreciative of the dignity of my highest vocation, and its many responsibilities. Never permit me to disgrace it by giving way to coldness, unkindness, or impatience"

From 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families:
"True humor involves willpower in making the choice to develop a humorous mind-set - to not be reactive, to not be overwhelmed"

similarly, from Joy of the Snow:
"A thread of comedy seems to be twisted into everything which happens to us but the ability to find it requires a corresponding ability not to take oneself too seriously . . ."

Some Karis & Judah books:

The Wind in the Willows

The Story of Easter (such excellent explanations of old traditions that we practice today)

Chronicles of Narnia

For Judah, anything resembling Cinderella (!!!!), including a Valentine's Day book, Each, Peach Pear Plum, and picture albums. On the opposite side of the spectrum, he loves anything with trucks and carries around Little Blue Truck, Good Night Good Night Construction Site. Also anything with monkeys or gorillas.


- "I'm playing store! This chair is a hundred dollars. Judah is one dollar"
- "I know! How about we have a 'mommy doesn't work' day?!"
- "Judah, you look like Luke Skywalker!"
- "Judah, can you just stay a better forever?!" (she's heard that one once or twice about herself)
- "I have my secret scroll now"
- "Well, this is the only today we have!" (she's heard that once or twice also)
- "Judah, we're not mad at you, we're just trying to help!"
- "Dear Lord, I pray you'd give Grandpa Kirk a really special birthday and that he'd get lots of cards"
- "I think God is really powerful to change the time and make it lighter when we go to bed"
- "Drew you should go boo Melanie and gleek on her to wake her up!"
- "Mom I saw the moon and there was a cross in it.  I think that's a sign that Easter is coming!"
- "I saw flowers coming down the wall when I was waking up, it was like being greeted by a dream!"
- "Well, you don't see that everyday!"
- "But mooooooommmmmm, I'm not ready for him to go to a big boy bed,  he's not that age!" (I AGREE!)
- "Does anyone want to come to my hair salon?"
- "Daddy, it looks kind of nice to be sick. You just get to lay in your bed all day. You should put your headphones in and just watch a movie" (couldn't have said it all better myself)
- "Do all Trevors start with 'T'?"
- "In the middle of the night I peeked out my window at midnight and saw the big dipper!"
- "I thought I was going to sneeze and then I threw up! I don't think this is my weird for the day, I think it's my bummer" (Um, this at 10pm after a Jets pizza party here. Oh Jets we love you and now we also question how much you love us)
- "Ya-hooooo!" (fave exclamation lately)
- "I hit my head on Judah's brain"
- "Mommy, should we drive you crazy?!" (said while in the car cart at Cub - double meaning that she's unaware of)
- Her most recent creation was an elaborate "theater" in the backyard, made out of huge snow balls. It was impressive.
- She loves to rearrange the toy room, usually involves creating cozy corners
- "Adults know more about kids than kids know about adults" (so true, perceptive daughter)
- "It's a lot of work looking out for eggs. You have to take really good care of them" (dyed Easter eggs from preschool)
- A seemingly simple but meaningful trait I notice lately about Karis (that can get lost in the daily-ness) - she is brimming over with love. She loves so purely, and I'm humbled by her heart. She is incredibly perceptive to those around her, concerned and attentive and caring.

Judah updates:

- He melts and runs to me if Trev is firm with him. When I'm firm, he laughs
- "Bow!" (rainbow)
- "Moooo!" (moon)
- "Gum!"
- "Bus!" (I swear he can say this 1000 times in one car ride)
- "Fries!"
- "Lilla!" (translate: Read Goodnight Gorilla RIGHT NOW!"
- "Dah-doh!" (translate: donut)
- "Tuh-tuh" (turtle)
- "Sarah! April!"
- "Joooo" (juice)
- "Fly!"
- "On!"
- "Again!"
- "Bie-buh" (Bible)
- "Salsa!"
- "Bear!" (translate: Read Brown Bear Brown bear RIGHT NOW)
- "Cuh-luh!" (translate: get me crayons and paper)
- signs please and says "peeeee" in the sweetest voice
- Dances like a crazy man to select songs: "We are the Dinosaurs Marching" and "I Know a Chicken" (both by Laurie Berkner)
- Recent "things of the day": his bus, drinking out of an empty spice container, carrying around toy hot dogs and french fries (he loves to gather several small things and carry them around - even does this when we go to friends' homes), putting on an apron, playing with his cars and trucks, chucking hard objects around
- "Co-luh!" (when he wants to color, which he does love)
- "Ahhhm" (arm, which fascinates him since they're being unveiled after a long winter
- "Boaaaat" (for sled)
- "I pad! Hi i pad!" (while at the apple store with Aunt Debbie)
- "Bookie!" (lots of things have "ie" on the end of them now)
- For about a day he called his pootsie blanket his "poopie". Now it sounds like "poooh-thus". He knows when he needs it, that little square thing and a hug is such a calming thing in his life right now.
- "Rocking!" (loves to rock)
- "Hi, Jesus!" (while we listen to "Give me Jesus" in the car)
- He recently found a packet of kleenex and brought it to me saying, "Kleenex!". Then took out all the tissues and started blowing his nose
- "Poopy!" (yes, while he poops or telling me afterward)
- "Knock knock!"
- "Jesus!" (as in, play the "Give me Jesus" song in the car. And he sings along and it about converts my heart to a melty puddle)
- "Bye _________" (the best transition thing for Judah is to say "bye" to things, which he'll now do on his own)
- "I walk!"
- "Num!" (food)
- "Carry you?" (translate: please carry me down the stairs)
- "Fast!" (in the car)
- "Rocking!" (in the rocker)
- "Cook, cook, cook!"
- "Kitty!" (right before bed, wants to say goodnight to the kitties in his Tiny Bear Bible)
- "Fly! Fox! America!" (all songs in the car)
- "Karis's" (said with lispy s's, pointing out and then grabbing her special things)
- Whenever we talk about the church nursery, he exlaims "Edee! Snack!" (Edith is his fave person there, and he does love cheerios)
- His fave dinner routine is the climb into Trevor's lap (or other people if we're with company) and eat his food
- He climbed out of his crib one afternoon . . . ruh roh. And then never again, I think it frightened him! But now he does play what I call "pootsie games" at sleep times. This involves throwing his pootsie out of his crib and calling "Mama!"
- He started finding comfort in Karis's lap, so precious. He went to her during a play center circle time and crawled on her lap while they played a name game. And at home he'll crawl into her lap and ask her to read a book to him, or randomly give her a hug. Their delight is so mutual (and when you add my delight, the good feelings really flow here)
- His emotions and tantrums are even-ing out (well, at least at the time of this writing), but he can still be our owly up and down little guy - he can scream and turn red in a flash
- Judah continues to be our cozy cuddler, who finds comfort with a big hug when he's hurt, burrows his entire being into you as he lays his head on your shoulder. Something I've noticed is how already he tried to be tough, his face while trying not to cry all while curled in my lap just about breaks my heart. He thinks about people all the time and often will say the names of a couple people right before I put him in his crib. Oh melty man.
Forgot to include this in the last post - this was the day after my ladies' weekend
The simple things in life, cookies while riding in the cart, "driving me crazy"

"cook cook cook!"

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Truly Magical Kingdom

Imagine . . . Karis knows Disney is "out there", but not TODAY. We get her up at 4:30 am and the adventure begins! Minnie Mouse socks and a backpack full of Disney stickers, journal, and other random things that likely just weighed her down . . . chatting and fresca and cookies and most importantly, sitting by grandma - plenty to do on the flight to the dream destination.

It was a true treat to all be on the same airplane, everyone did great and even Judah relaxed between Trev and me for a fair amount of the flight. Van retrieval was smooth and soon we were on our way to Bahama Breeze and lunch outside. Ahhhh, glorious outside. Settling into the lodgings, a walk with my mom followed by a chat by the pool, pizza at the on-grounds restaurant . . . a relaxing start to the time. Kids slept well in the same room, memorable was Karis slipping out to tell me, "Mom, I think Judah pooped". After we got that taken care of, sleep was swift.

First full day, Magic Kingdom. Magic! I had goosebumps walking in and strolling down "main street" and watching Karis's eyes pop out of her head. A few rode the carousel and a couple figured out the Fast Pass situation. We strolled around, rode the magic carpets, had lunch "American Tale" old west style, saw Jasmine, walked through the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, had the most magical wait for the Peter Pan ride (huge favorite for many), rode the teacups (a couple queasy riders will remain unnamed), rode Dumbo, sailed through It's a Small World, met Ariel in her grotto, had snacks at Gaston's Tavern, danced with Micky & friends, met Tinkerbell (loved her! She greeted Karis by saying, "Karis, that means Grace! But I bet you already know that"). I will recall one overwhelming moment - walking around crowded Magic Kingdom with plugged ears felt a little out of body and I had a moment where I thought, "There is no where to hide": it was in the bathroom, in a stall, and the flushing of 20 commodes was so incredibly constant that I wondered if there was anywhere to go for quiet? Yes, I have introvert moments to the extreme at times. Irrelevant to this recounting but there it is. Dinner was grab and go yummy vittles on the "dock" outside at the Key West Lodge (our accommodations, perfect place for our crew).

Second full day, Epcot. So super. Love that place. Had a blast with grandma, grandpa and the kids going to see Nemo (where a ride was broken, "Crush the turtle got stung by a jellyfish!"), through Journey of Imagination, lunch in Mexico, meeting Mulan in China, gelato in France, meeting Snow White, catching a glimpse of Mary Poppins, strollering napping Judah, cronuts on the way out. Also on the way out was a memorable moment when Judah peed all over me - because of my ignorance about swim diapers. Hello, they are not supposed to absorb water and they do NOT work in a pinch when you run out of regular diapers. Noted. Dinner at Downtown Disney was fabulous and included Irish dancers that were so captivating. Trev and I rushed melting Judah on a bus back for bed while the others took the boat, fun for all.

Third full day, Hollywood Studios. We were there before they opened and zoomed to the Frozen Sing Along - fun for all, plenty of clean adult jokes to keep every age engaged. Then the girls split off to see a Little Mermaid Show, which ended up being much talked about later by Karis: "She got LEGS! Isn't it magical?!". Sure enough, Ariel got legs right there on stage. Then the girls took a bus to the much anticipated Princess Breakfast at the Grand Floridian. I think it was the most impressive to the adults: the best meal (steak and eggs for breakfast, sure thing!). Karis enjoyed it too, got her pic taken with all the princesses, enjoyed Mickey Mouse waffles and then was quite languishing by the end - coming down with a cold, needed rest. So back to our Key West place for some rest, and a walk to the pool, pizza in the room, SuperBowl viewing and early bed for kids (guys got a spot at ESPN where they stayed until the half, so perfect).

Fourth full day, Animal Kingdom. Arrived when it opened and we found our first ride, A Bug's Life. There was a warning that it could be scary for little children . . . sure enough, Karis wanted to leave shortly after it started, and good thing because the others said it got worse . . . Trev, the kids and I found Mickey & Minnie and had a sweet fam photo op. We went on to enjoy more coffee, the safari, a train ride, and then: THE YETI RIDE. I was so excited for this and it didn't disappoint! With some wise eyes on the weather, we grabbed lunch and started packing up right before a deluge. After some gift shop shelter, we made a go for the bus and ended up having a quiet afternoon in the room before heading to the "Boardwalk" for dinner . . . a relaxing pace for the last night there. Back home for some Grandma book bringing/Aunt Melanie reading of Brave Irene and Ferdinand and kid-bed-timing and chatting together. So many precious moments of connecting, so wonderful to be away all together.

Going home day, a normal morning in the room before packing into the van, where Judah so wisely said: "All done. Home". Crazy! We had a smooth journey back. Memorable to me was Judah finally falling asleep on me, and then the drink cart coming by . . . he slept for about 30 seconds. When we got in our car he zonked out, which was such a treat because there happened to be a snow storm and it took about 90 minutes to get home - part of which Karis watched the Little Mermaid video (thank you, Aunt Melanie!) about 30 times. We enjoyed our traditional Qdoba pick up (complete with duo kid meltdown when we didn't stay to eat it there)and an early bedtime.

In a word, the Disney experience was magical. There's just something about that place, the vision that Disney must have had and the legacy that lives on. I totally "drank the kool aid", as they say. I think we all did, and found it so very tasty and satisfying. All in. Loved it, every ride and character and meal and night and morning and interaction and the sunshine and the overpriced coffee and sing along and mermaid getting legs and . . . let's go back someday. I see the value in the togetherness of a place like that, the shared memories and experiences and decisions you make together and bus ride and navigating and following and savoring and watching the kids and everything. And really, especially watching the kids, Karis was at the peak perfect age for imagination and also obsession with princesses. Judah just went with the flow and learned all about princesses and Pooh and rides and that you can thrive on french fries and squeeze applesauce. A Magical Kingdom, in so many ways.

- "But mommy, I'm still tired!" (with a smirk on her face, at 4:30. Such a joke-ster)
- "I should be asleep but I'm getting on an airplane!"
- "I see the Pom Pom trees!"
- "This Disney world is so Disney Worldy"
- "She's not as I remembered!"
- "She got legs! It's magic!" (while at a Little Mermaid re-enactment show)
- "Can I have a sword for my little brother" (at a princess breakfast, sweet girl)
- "Maybe we should should just sneak around this place" (at the Grand Floridian)
- "Drewy wasn't sure if the princesses were real. They are real"
- "Can we go to a park that's not a Disney park?"
- "Speaking of Sofia" (pretty sure we weren't speaking of her, she said this totally out of the blue and it was hilarious in the moment)
- "I begged grandma for another bagful of cotton candy but she wouldn't let me"
- "I got to spy Rapunzel's tower first!"
- "We saw Gaston's Tabernacle!" (supposed to be tavern)
- "Belle said waffles are the Beast's favorite!"
- "Snow White called Judah 'prince Judah!'"
- "I can't believe we got to go in Ariel's grotto!"
- "I can't tell you my wish or it won't come true!"
- "My favorite was the Peter Pan ride. How did they do the hat shadows on Grandpa's head?"

Judah jibes:
- He LOVED all the fountains, fans, and buses
- He loved to be carried around and was in a huge "ba ba" phase of pointing to things and saying "ba ba" until the person would name what he was wanting to name
- He pushed through like a champ, remained mostly healthy and happy with a lack of naps and diet of applesauce and french fries
- "I got you!" (a game he and grandma played)
- "Two!" (loved to name things in twos - fans, especially)
- "Cheek!" (while pointing to his cheeks and wanting me to name them)
- "Ride!" (he loved them more than I thought he would)
- "Nemo!"
- "All done. Home" (said in the van on the way to the airport. Scary appropriate timing!)
- Our fam of four slept in one room and Judah conveniently fit in the closet, where he loved banging the doors open and shut as a pre-sleep wind down
- The last couple days were super "mommy don't leave the room". I can tell him about that someday when he doesn't want me to hug him in public

Big people quotes and thoughts: 
- Trev called Drew one night while on a jog where he had discovered a "no close pool". Lost in translation, Drew thought he was excited to report a "no clothes pool"
- Sleep now, giggle later. Inside joke, I guess
- I am in awe of K & N's pure joy and generosity brought us all together in beautiful ways. They lead with grace, set the tone of making the most of the day (even when that meant a relaxing afternoon in the room) and making every moment count
- Oh thank you Grandma Nancy for taking Judah out of the room when he got owly, mother's intuition to help her daughter, I'm grateful
- Dittos to Grandpa Kirk carrying Judah around when he could see my arms sagging
- I'm grateful for Aunt Melanie, who held Karis's sneezed in hand for a couple days straight and jiggled Judah and just adds a delightful dynamic to the family
- And of course for Uncle Drew and his willingness to play hide and seek, set up Sofia for Karis, and talk endlessly about princesses
- Oh Trev, such a sport pushing the stroller, enjoying the ride sidelines when he wasn't up for getting sick on teacups, and keeping track of kids while I avoided getting trampled by the Yeti
- But mostly, just the amazing memories to last forever, irreplaceable, valuable, thankful