Thursday, April 24, 2014

Hunger

The weekly reckoning...
419. Getting to knit in the car
420. Coconut oil - extraordinary useful stuff!
421. Going to bed early and knowing that it wouldn't offend our hosts (aka, my parents)
422. An afternoon movie date with Adam - just us two!
423. Brooklyn obediently leaving the fireplace alone when I told her to...
424. ...and adorably going to play her xylophone, instead
425. Walking around the Farmer's Market with Adam and Brooklyn and my parents, getting coffee and flowers and reveling in a beautiful morning
426. Tulips and all of the gorgeous colors they come in (like orange with pink streaks, like a sunset)
427. Brooklyn smiling and laughing as she walked all over my in-love's house, holding Grandma Sandy's fingers
428. Getting to enjoy a 4-generation Easter lunch
429. Silly sideview mirror selfies with Brooklyn
430. A peaceful trip home with good conversation
431. Grocery shopping with Brooklyn, who spreads joy wherever she goes
432. Napping myself during her extra-long morning nap
433. Successfully getting the kitchen clean - that and the groceries were my to-do list for the day
434. Breakfast and a quiet time, together, two mornings in a row - a good way to start my day
435. Adam coming home at the end of a stressful day and making an amazing meal for us
436. Energy and motivation to get all of the laundry done and put away


It seems like "not being hungry" is a fairly common middle-class American item to add to an over-the-meal blessing. And it's not like that is a bad thing - there are people all over the world (and the city I live in) that haven't eaten in awhile and don't know when they will again, and God's continued, daily provision is definitely a blessing.

But food and I have an interesting relationship. It's just not an area that I struggle with (don't worry, I have plenty of others to make up for it) - I'm not tempted to overeat, nor do I refuse to eat in order to maintain a specific figure. I'd like for it to taste good, but really that's where my interest in eating ends (that may also partially explain my disinterest in cooking). I prefer to focus on who I'm having dinner with than what I'm having for dinner.

However, since having Brooklyn (and awhile before), I've been a food source for two - which has forced me to think about food and eating entirely more than I would prefer. Despite slowly and steadily increasing how much I eat, and thinking carefully about what I eat, we've been having monthly weight checks at the pediatrician and Brooklyn's been holding steady at the lower end of the chart (and it's clearly a production issue, not something wrong on Brooklyn's end). This past week, she had lost 9 ounces... I shouldn't have been surprised, since I didn't eat for a few days because of The Bug and then kind of fell off the eating-every-time-she-does wagon that I'd been on (when you're gluten free and dairy free and you eat every two hours, you end up having the same things over. and over. and over), but when the pediatrician set us an appointment three weeks out to see if she'd gained it back, I kind of panicked. I mentally worked out a diet high in protein, healthy fat, vitamins, water, nursing mama's tea, and lactation cookies (oh, and low stress, but clearly I had already blown that one) and resigned myself to being miserable for the forseeable future (it would really help if she was a little more interested in solid food).

But this morning? I woke up hungry. I haven't actually been hungry in months, and almost didn't recognize the sensation. Breakfast was a delight, and I relished the lunch I had shortly thereafter - it was unbelievably refreshing and encouraging, gave me hope that maybe these monthly weight checks will eventually end, and was definitely an answer to prayer. I don't know why it took this long - maybe God was waiting for me to admit that I was desperate and ask others for prayer, instead of asking Him if He wouldn't just fix everything quietly - after all, He doesn't get glory that way... but I do know that His timing is always perfect, that prayer works, and that this is definitely a gift!
_______________

438. Finding a Good brand of dishwashing liquid completely by happenstance, right before we ran out
439. Time to sit down and write a few posts ahead, without feeling guilty that I'm ignoring Adam or should be doing something else (and that we have friends here for him to go have coffee with)


"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him."
[Lamentations 3:22-24]

Won't you join us in counting (and recounting!) His mercies anew? Just grab a journal or notebook (it doesn't have to be fancy) and a pen and write them down, then join us in a weekly link-up to encourage each other by sharing all of the blessings we've spotted. Catch up on everyone's posts and add your own below (please stay relevant to the topic when linking up!) and if you don't have a blog, feel free to participate by commenting, instead!

Check out these #NewEveryMorning hosts, as well, and don't forget to use the hashtag on Twitter so that we can find each other:
   Kayla [at] Renown and Crowned

All who've been praying, thank you and please keep it up!


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Plotting Plots


Brooklyn's been working on mastering the art of adorable plotting lately. Because, you know, if you're cute enough, you might get away with something (at least, that's the theory. It hasn't really worked yet.)


She knows what "no" means, and is amazingly responsive to it (that being dependent on me catching her before she gets into something, instead of after). Yesterday it occurred to her that if she has to stop what she's doing when I say no, then surely it must work the other way around. So she said, "Nah! Nah!" firmly as I put her down for a nap. I explained why naps are necessary, and she had one anyway. It was worth a shot.


While she still won't wave at people, she will clap - because the world is in need of a little more positive affirmation. Between clapping and smiling and sticking out her tongue, going shopping with her is a slow process - we continually have to stop so that people can talk to her. But they walk away happy, so her mission is accomplished.


These. Best board books ever. Each one is a revision of a classic - for example, Sense and Sensibility is opposites, using examples from the book. Alice in Wonderland is colors. Wuthering Heights is weather. And Jabberwocky is... Jabberwocky. Because that's one that you can't really improve upon, and doesn't need to be altered. They're very sturdy, and along with being a modified version of a longer story that I'll introduce Brooklyn to one day, they also have lovely illustrations. We sat down and read the whole stack through this morning.


I've been trying, with dubious success, to get her interested in solid food as something besides finger paint. We discovered puffs this week, and while she won't feed them to herself (she either feeds them to me, or hands one to me and opens her mouth like a little bird so that I can put it in), I discovered that putting one on the spoon with her food is a Good Thing. It's also getting her used to chewing - she still only has two teeth, but there are soft, squishable things, and at some point she's going to have to start feeding herself (preferably before she's three).


Spreading joy, and spreading anything that's on a reachable shelf all over the floor - Brooklyn's keeping herself (and me!) busy. :)

Any suggestions for solid foods that might tempt a tiny person?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Holiday


This past weekend was a rare treat: Adam took a couple of days off, and we spent 4 days in Fayetteville, visiting family (and the pediatrician - any tips for upping a mama's calorie intake, when she's gluten free and dairy free?)


While I enjoy trips and don't mind driving myself on them, after a point driving becomes a colossal waste of time. You can't do anything - can't read, can't knit, can't remember that you needed to write a thank you note and just go do it... all you can do is sit. And possibly listen to the radio, or an audio book. So after so many trips to Fayetteville with just Brooklyn and I, it was refreshing to get a little knitting done on the drive. I actually got the front half of a little linen tunic that I'm designing for Brooklyn finished (amazing how quickly things go when you have dedicated time to work on them!) and it promises to be darling.


With so many loving grandparents and great-grandparents anxious to play with her and read her books and let her hold their fingers and walk around, Adam and I were also able to go see a movie in a theatre (usually we settle for an interrupted Redbox flick). We enjoyed the movie (the latest installment of Captain America) and really enjoyed the time spent together (Brooklyn is highly paranoid about ISD and intervenes if she catches us hugging in her presence).


We visited the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning (we haven't explored the one here in Little Rock yet) and attempted family photos... Brooklyn thoroughly disapproved (why did we stop walking? where are the cute doggies? Daddy, will you hold my hands so I can walk?), so we only managed to get one that had even one of us looking at the camera. Maybe next year we'll be able to coordinate a cute dressed-up family picture - in the mean time, individual shots will have to do.


In addition to an adorable sun hat from Terra Tots (see above, in attempted family photo), I found a spectacular book on hand lettering at The Mustache. It's exactly the sort of thing that appeals to me - I've already got plenty of ideas, the first of which is going to be birthday invitations (how is she almost a year old already?!) Brace yourself - I will probably get carried away by the craftiness, and there will probably be pictures.


We enjoyed getting to go to church at UBC (Brooklyn started a riot in the nursery and spent the service walking back and forth in the foyer with Adam) and then having lunch afterward with my parents and grandparents (my Dad surpassed himself with grilled chicken - and he's really good at grilling chicken).


Altogether, it was a weekend well spent! Now we've got one week of normal, Walk for the Waiting on Saturday, and then on Sunday Adam will leave for another month (for the last time in awhile, at least - and a month is much better than the year he'd be gone if he were deploying with the rest of his unit).

Any family Easter traditions that you've carried over into marriage (or plan to, if you get married)?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Walk It Out

This week's list...
398. A new book and time to sit in the car while Brooklyn napped and read it
399. Ebooks and audiobooks to check out through the Fayetteville Public Library's website since I don't have a library card here yet
400! Adam having sick days and it being a slow day at work so that he could come home and rest (The Bug lingers on...)
401. Fresh strawberries
402. Playing drums on the bookshelf - one drumstick for Brooklyn, and one for me :)
403. Watching Brooklyn slowly and carefully sit back down after pulling herself up on something
404. French toast and bacon for breakfast - it's been awhile!
405. A whole weekend with Adam off - that also hasn't happened in awhile
406. Naps for all (if not all at the same time)
407. Finally finding a good local coffee shop


I love the concept of running a marathon (or a half) in order to raise funds and awareness about a worthy cause. A couple of years ago, I set out to train for one (anyone who knows me well knows what a task that would be) and found out that no amount of heart-felt support of the cause will overcome an inability to work through the way my chest tightens and my lungs begin to burn once I set a pace above a light jog. The need for air supersedes the need to raise awareness fairly quickly, and I wheeze to a inexorable halt.

But during announcements a few Sunday mornings ago, they mentioned putting together a church team for "Walk for the Waiting." My ears perked at the word walk, and I headed over to the information table after the service. I discovered that funds raised go to three Arkansas orphan care organizations (The Call, Immerse Arkansas, and Project Zero), toward providing "a family and a future for every child," and that it really is a walk (not one of those cleverly disguised "fun run" things, like making it rhyme and calling it fun makes it more possible and less painful, somehow).

Still (if you know me) then you know that I only advocate for things that I really believe in --- and I really believe in this. Why do I want to walk? For gratitude. Too often, I take the fact that I am part of a family (multiple families, actually: a born-to family, a married-into family, and a church family) utterly and completely for granted.
So I'm grateful that there are organizations and individuals who are not only willing but passionate about demonstrating our Father's love by loving the least of these.
I'm grateful that God has provided me with a loving and supportive husband who takes care of both me and Brooklyn.
I'm grateful that we have Brooklyn, and that God sustains us as we try to raise her to His glory.
I'm grateful for my own adoption - the one that every Christian receives, as we're unworthily called the sons and daughters of our heavenly Father.
And I'm grateful for an opportunity to be the sent feet of Christ in a literal sense, going an extra mile on a Saturday morning so that His little ones can experience Him through His followers.

So on Saturday the 26th, we're walking as a family. We've set a collective goal of $500 (Adam's page, and mine) and if this is a cause that tugs at your heart, we (and our team!) would appreciate your support -through prayer, through sharing about the Walk and raising awareness about the need for foster families in Arkansas, or through donating (any amount helps!)
_______________

409. Brooklyn standing up in her crib and giving me a kiss when I went to get her from her nap
410. The calming reassurance of God's presence in the patter of life-giving raindrops
411. Our perfectly, slouchily comfortable couch, bought from a friend and thoroughly enjoyed
412. A chilly day on which to try out a made-over jacket, and the assurance that I'll be back to short sleeves and skirts in a few days
413. Meeting Adam for lunch - a pleasant midweek treat! and Brooklyn enjoyed getting to hold his hat for him
414. Brooklyn's experiments in the appropriate timing of raspberry blowing and sticking out her tongue, in order to achieve the greatest effect, also perfecting the adorable face to go with it
415. A homemade meal, comprised of multiple components, eaten all together and at the proper temperature while Adam played with Brooklyn (usually, I eat progressively, at 20-60 minutes intervals... the eggs first, the bacon reheated and reheated and reheated and finally eaten, the biscuits unenjoyably cold and washed down with a tepid drink)
416. Warm sunshine dappled through the spinning leaves of a birch tree
417. Successfully getting myself and Brooklyn packed for a four-day weekend
418. The unexpected delight of a simple how-to craft video (that used only supplies that I happened to already have!)


"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him."
[Lamentations 3:22-24]

Won't you join us in counting (and recounting!) His mercies anew? Just grab a journal or notebook (it doesn't have to be fancy) and a pen and write them down, then join us in a weekly link-up to encourage each other by sharing all of the blessings we've spotted. Catch up on everyone's posts and add your own below (please stay relevant to the topic when linking up!) and if you don't have a blog, feel free to participate by commenting, instead!

Check out these #NewEveryMorning hosts, as well, and don't forget to use the hashtag on Twitter so that we can find each other:
   Kayla [at] Renown and Crowned
   Kelsey [at] Faith Fun and the Fergusons

What gifts have surprised you this past week?


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hello, Spring



Brooklyn's been experimenting with social interactions this week - saying "hi!" to herself in the mirror, giving kisses (complete with "mwah!"), waving a palm branch in (sort of) time with the music during worship on Sunday (to the utter delight of a family sitting behind us), perfecting the crinkled nose to accompany the stuck-out tongue in order to achieve optimal cuteness...


She's also been airing her opinions more - more frequently, and more loudly. "What's in this drawer? I'm going to pull everything out and look at it. Mummy, will you put these shoes on me? What do you mean, They're too small?"


"Daddy, you may touch the shapes, but you cannot stack the shapes or knock them together. If you stack them, I will come from across the room as fast as I can to topple them, and if you knock them together, I'll just have to take them away from you."


She also confirmed that she knows what no means, by dissolving into dramatic tears and sobs when told not to put something in her mouth. Or not to touch the fan. Or to leave the laundry in the laundry basket. And it's not intervention (taking the thing, moving her away from the fan, moving the laundry basket) that causes the melt-down --- it's the word itself. She stops, like she knows she needs to but desperately doesn't want to, and then cries. I can certainly empathize with that!



On the nice days this past week (as opposed to the cold, rainy ones), we walked. She gets excited when I get the stroller out of the car, and she was very pleased to be allowed to carry a pinecone on our last adventure. And she voluntarily did with it as you should do with Nature: observed it carefully for a little while, then returned it to its natural habitat. That was a lesson I never got as a kid - I'd return from walks and hikes having filled everyone's pockets with found treasures.


We're planning a four-day weekend in Fayetteville, and I'm looking forward to reintroducing her to the Farmer's Market (since the last time we went she was a wee little thing and wasn't paying a whole lot of attention), and the chance for the three of us (because Adam managed to get off!) to see family - and to get to knit during the trip instead of having to drive. I'm in the depths of a tiny tunic for Brooklyn that I'm anxious to finish...

In eight more weeks, she'll be a whole year old! It's so amazing how much she's changed and developed in the past ten months, and even in just the past week.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Surprised, Preapproved, and Getting Rid of Fluff


Mommy fashion! Let's talk about baby-commemorating jewelry. There are lots and lots of options - and many of them are expensive and/or impractical (I cannot believe that I am the only person whose child is bent on snapping the chain or putting tooth marks in the pendant of any necklace I try to wear). And if you do something that has a little charm or tag for each child, then what happens if you have another kid later and the matching addition is no longer available? (That's the sort of thing that would bug me.) So, my advice is: don't feel pressured. If it's not something that matters to you, then don't do it. Actually, let's just go ahead and apply that to all baby-related advice. For example, we don't have a "baby book" (I don't have time for that - my concession is a line-a-day journal, because there are admittedly moments that I will later appreciate having preserved) --- but because I love bracelets, I did choose to order one with Brooklyn's initial and birthstone from an Arkansas-local (actually, Little Rock-local) artist (Bella Vita, if you're interested - she's great to work with, and her pieces are lovely).


There's too much fluff in our lives. Between well-intentioned-but-impractical advice and unreasonable expectations, the already somewhat overwhelming quest to raise a Tiny Human in reasonable health and safety while also being concerned for their soul becomes depressingly impossible, and what's really important gets buried under a pile of Other Stuff. I crawled out of a tired haze to read Lisa-Jo Baker's new book Surprised By Motherhood last week, and it was a breath of fresh air. Not a how-to book (there are entirely too many of those, and none of the people writing them have my exact child so they end up being how-not-to books), but a me-too book. It was a refreshing, encouraging, and somewhat validating read - I think I've found my new go-to shower gift (along with a wee knitted hat, because every new babe needs a handknitted something).





The bit of knitting I began with the book ended yesterday in a jacket remake (just in time - two days ago, it was sunny and 75, but today it was 45 and raining sideways). I needed an End It Project-approved spring jacket for the cool rainy days (that was not my beloved white pleather moto jacket because Brooklyn tries to chew on it and her little teeth are sharp) so she and I went on a quest to Plato's Closet (see rule #5). I replaced the plastic "tortoise shell" buttons with stashed coconut shell ones (someone's flea marketed button jar would also hold lots of remake possibility), and the belt with simple netted-looking lace. It would have been nice to use actual vintage lace - however, the quickest way for me to achieve the same effect was to knit it myself. The finished piece is much more feminine and flattering than the original - overall, I'm pleased.


In the crafting category, as well, I also turned a printable into a sturdy bookmark. I roughly cut it out (because I have strong feelings about efficiency and it is not efficient to neatly cut something out twice - besides, doing it this way "seals" the edges better) and overlayed both sides, first with Washi tape, then with packaging tape, then cut it out along the actual edges.

Remember how I said that I was giving up staying up late for Lent? This is part of that (I've been sticking with that, by the way - going to bed when Adam goes to bed, and when he's not here going to bed before 11pm without having spent every minute prior frantically Doing Things), reading/journaling through Love Idol. Because we all have a God-sized hole in our hearts, but we industriously try to fill it with fluff - some other something that will give us the approval we crave, but is never quite enough... so as I read through the book, I'm working through my own "love idol" (that is, the specific area or areas in which I strive the most), giving it a name so that I can begin to conquer it. At this point, it's beginning to look like "being a Godly wife and mum" is my Scylla, and then "finding success in something-other-than-that" is my Charybdis, and I sink between the two. There are so many people and books and blogs who jump at the chance to explain (in long, detailed lists) what being a Wife and Mum should look like - except that (like those how-to books I mentioned earlier) none of them actually practically apply to my life but I end up feeling like I must be doing something wrong, then, if it doesn't apply (because if I don't take my list and coupons to the nearest budget grocery store on a scheduled day every week or two to gather supplies to stock our freezer with homemade casseroles, then I am failing at domesticity, stewardship, and, therefore, Christianity - oh, Scylla, your teeth are sharp!) I read through it once quickly, and now I'm going back through again, slowly - I'm just on chapter two this time, but I'll let you know if I make it through the strait once I get to the end.

Where is the fluff in your life, that buries you under unnecessary weight and hides what's really important? How do you battle it?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Paint...

It's Five Minute Friday! Bloggers internet-wide writing for five minutes (no stopping, no editing!) on a prompt provided by the lovely Lisa-Jo, and then sharing some community comment love. For more details, to read more posts and to join in yourself, head here.


Knitting needles are my brush - yarn acts as both paint and canvas - and I look up. For the past three-ish months, I've been knitting the sky. It would be much quicker to paint it with watercolor, acrylic, or oils, but skill with those media eludes me, so I daily rely on the skill of some other handpainter as I hold one or two hues together to best imitate the color I see above me.

It's more than just an exercise in patience (and it is definitely that - taking a year to make a scarf when I could finish it so much faster if I just did it all at once), it's also an exercise in gratitude. On the sunny days, I get to work with lovely woolen handpainted Koigu; on the cloudy ones, an array of raw silk and alpaca blended beauty from Blue Sky Alpacas called "Metalico" - and I spend about 5 minutes every evening pondering it, trying to find the silver lining in not just the sky but also my day.

Because my day is also a canvas, and a brush is always moving across it, splashing color over nothingness - but unless I seize it, it's not my hand that controls its path. My circumstances, environment, and culture all seek to drive the mood of the finished picture. If I don't constantly redirect it - and my thoughts and actions - then I won't like what I see at the end of the day.

So I seek the beauty, practice gratitude, and preach to myself (oh, so much! but still not enough) every hour of every day, until the day is done - and I hope that my own heart will daily reflect the extraordinary wonder of the sunset that is God's nightly reminder to rest in Him.

How do you practice gratitude and seek the silver linings?