i am not making this up


A few weeks ago our church moved into a new building and when we picked Asher up the teacher was telling us about the cool new stuff they would start the next week, including a video curriculum for the Bible story. I asked them for the name of the curriculum and if there was a way for me to watch it first. She told us and I was going to leave it at that but Jake then informed her that we don’t let Asher watch videos. I realized that we have become one of “those” parents – the weird ones. As we were talking about it on the way home I pointed out that, as Asher is potty-trained and we don’t leave Caroline in the nursery yet, they aren’t even aware that we cloth diaper. They are going to think we are REALLY weird when they find that out. I told Jake that I don’t feel weird, these things feel normal to me. But taken as a whole we are very weird people and I can see why it is a bit difficult for us to make friends.

  • We don’t own a TV. And I am very vigilant about limiting screen time for my kids when they are around smartphones etc.
  • Cloth diapers (which, for the record, I prefer over disposables – even if the cost was the same. Disposables stink and feel so…papery.)
  • No soda, except root beer or cream soda as a special treat. We pretty much drink only water, sometimes juice.
  • We put our kids to bed super early and make sure they have time to take solid naps.
  • We try to avoid licensed characters. When Asher needs a toothbrush or something I go to great lengths to find one that doesn’t have a “character” on it. Aside: I shouldn’t have to go to great lengths but unfortunately most toddler toothbrushes have Mickey or Thomas or Dora on them.
  • We’re debt free and actually have money in the bank. Even during times of unemployment.
  • I try to cook from scratch and avoid prepackaged things.
  • We buy used. Any time we need something, we check craigslist first. We have a stroller, a couch & loveseat set, a glider, and a sewing machine that were all purchased used. We only buy used cars. Our mattress, washer, and dryer are hand-me-downs, and everything else has been built by Jake from re-purposed wood.
  • We both try to stay physically active.
  • I will keep my kids rear-facing in the car until I can no longer find a carseat they will fit in.
  • Per WHO recommendations I hope/plan to nurse my babies around 2 years each.

So, lady, it’s not just that I expect you to actually teach and interact with my child instead of popping in a DVD (seriously. What is so difficult about teaching 2-year-olds? Tell them a short story, they will love it and it is so much better for them than watching a video!). Altogether these things make me, and us, pretty different from most of the people I know. I’m ok with that and I’m ok with the fact that you probably talk about us after we leave for rocking the boat. Looking over that list I totally sound like a hippie-granola but I like all of these things about me and my family. These things are comfortable and normal for me. And I think you’re the weird one for thinking a video curriculum for Bible stories is a good thing.

I’m not very girly. I don’t wear a lot of makeup, and you usually can’t tell when I do. I don’t get the point of fingernail polish and I’m not really sure what Pintrest is. Because of this, and a few other reasons, I never expected to have a girl. I mean, if God gave you children based on your personality, I would be that mom with half a soccer team’s worth of sons in the back of a minivan or maybe a suburban (but probably a minivan. I don’t find myself too cool for a minivan.).

But, God does not give us children according to our personality; He gives us children according to our need. I don’t think I mentioned it on here but for a while – 9 months, give or take – I was pregnant. About 2 months ago I gave birth to a little girl and was sort of in shock to find that there would be another female in our little family. Of course the moment you hold your baby for the first time you find that this was the baby you really wanted all along, the baby you needed, and slowly the changes in my future have been sinking in: joy that there will finally be someone to watch Pride & Prejudice with me; horror and dread that I will have to fix someone’s hair. (I don’t even fix my own hair. A ponytail is a legitimate and respectable hairdo as far as I am concerned.)

For some reason, even though I’m not into crafts (what IS the point of scrapbooking, anyway?) it was really important that I make something for my little girl, and I knew exactly what that something would be:

For the last few weeks I’ve been working on this little quilt in whatever spare time I have. Which isn’t much, what with a new baby and a toddler (not to mention a husband) on my hands. I used this tutorial, except instead of a real charm pack I used fairy tale prints.

Sleeping Beauty

Peter Pan. One of my favorites. I cut all the squares of this one wrong but I’m not showing a closeup of that.

Little Red Riding Hood

Snow White. My other favorite. Unfortunately there’s only one square of it because that’s all the fabric I could find.

Cinderella

Frog Prince

Emperor’s New Clothes

Wizard of Oz

Three Little Pigs

And the back:

is

The Princess and the Pea

So, baby girl, may your life be an amazing adventure and unbelievable story. May you do grand things but, more importantly, be a grand person. May your heart be filled with courage, compassion, and generosity; may you experience real friendship, genuine kindness, and true love. May you see the prince within the frog (and pray your parents see him, too!). Fight against wrong, search for truth, set things right, and push back the darkness. On your quest for justice and beauty may you only experience the smallest amount of hardship and sorrow necessary to keep your heart tender. Build your home with wisdom and let your life be marked by extravagant love and childlike wonder. May you never discover any kind of vegetable in your bed, but especially not peas, and may you always know your mama loves you enough to rip out an entire quilt binding and start over just to make it prettier.

And most importantly, may your life be a part of The Great Story.

Sometimes fairy stories may say best what’s to be said. – C.S. Lewis

On Monday I went to the fitness center, which is just a small room with a treadmill, elliptical, and bike. And some weights. I really prefer to run outside but since my knees are like 30 years older than the rest of my body I just can’t do that as my sole exercise. Ellipticals are perfect: full body, weight bearing, no impact. And I’m not picky on quality so when the complex said they had a fitness center, and I observed on our tour that there was in fact an elliptical, I was thrilled with the idea of saving a gym fee every month.

The only problem was, I couldn’t get my key in the lock. At all. When the office opened I walked to the office with Asher in the Ergo and met the really nice lady who is the manager and she just fawned all over Asher. (I have noticed that tends to happen with him. He is handy like that if we want/need something done.) Anyway she said that lock has issues sometimes and they would look at it. I tried my key later in the day, still to no avail, and returned to the office. I talked to the same lady – I kept it super nice, by the way, I know there’s no point to getting all huffy about it – just to see if they’d had a chance to look at it, so I would know if it was my key that was the problem. She said they were going to have to re-key it and that would happen either before the maintenance guys went home or very first thing the next morning. Tuesday morning I went, same problem. Same thing again Wednesday morning. On Wednesday afternoon Jake took Asher swimming in the pool just next to the fitness center so I asked him to try the key another time before I went back to the office. Later:

Jake: Your key to the fitness center works just fine.
me: Really? Did they fix the lock?
Jake: I don’t know. Which door were you putting the key in?
me: the fitness center door.
Jake: There’s 2 doors near each other, which one were you trying?
me: (describe door)
Jake: Yeah…that’s the door to the community center. Your key to the fitness center works fine.

Oops. Possibly the worst part of it is, when I went on Thursday (and successfully entered the fitness center) it turns out the A/C is broken. Like someone set the thermostat on 50 but the temperature is reading 85. And I obviously can’t go report that after being such an idiot.

So, we moved. Apparently God cleaned out His inbox or something and Jake got 4 job offers within 24 hours. We promptly found an apartment – we got a GREAT deal – and waited an extra week for the carpet to be replaced. And then, we moved. 90% of our stuff was in a storage unit, and had been for 3 years. We have been living with other people’s stuff for 3 years and really, when it’s been that long since you’ve seen things that technically belong to you, it sorta feels like getting someone else’s stuff again. (Except my stoneware. That was never far from my heart.)

Anyway, we got a lot more help than we anticipated, which made the actual transfer of Stuff much more speedy than we anticipated. (After we got the moving truck. The place we rented the truck from sort of forgot to open that morning so we thought we were basically going to have to move in a pickup and the Yaris but fortunately they remembered about us after the first trip. I believe we will be getting a discount for the inconvenience.) I am so impressed with how nice people can be. Moving totally sucks but for some reason people are willing to help you with it. And, we are friends with a couple who live in this complex and they have been the most awesome neighbors. Michele kept Asher the morning of the move, then she spent the rest of her weekend washing dishes and getting my kitchen set up. She is probably actually an ANGEL because I would be sitting catatonic in the floor if I had to do it myself. AND she keeps taking loads of laundry away and bringing back baskets of clean, neatly folded towels. It’s like magic. Oh, AND they had us over for dinner the night after the move. Oh, AND Brian is also a voracious reader like me but is also the spender of the pair unlike me which means he has an AMAZING book/music/movie collection and he said I can borrow whatever I want. I don’t think it can get much better. I love having people we know nearby to do stuff with. We anticipate many dinners ensemble and game nights and fun stuff like that.

All that to say – we’re not homeless anymore.

Since I’ve been a bit glum around here lately, I thought I’d post something other than a little raincloud over my head:

PostSecret: My friends Chris & Sabrina have a book on their coffee table called PostSecret, and I love looking at it when we’re at their house. It has some thought-provoking things (a Baptist minister’s wife who doesn’t believe in God), some really sad things, and also some that are really funny. Like the person who switched parking tickets with the car next to them, or the babysitter who poked holes in condoms to assure herself future work. There is a website, too. Which led me to…

Passive-Aggressive Notes. Just great. On the right-hand side are links to Most Popular and Greatest Hits; there are some real treasures there.

Me Talk Pretty One Day: I found this in a used (English) bookstore when we were in France and remembered one of my friends had listed it as one of his favorites on Facebook. Having been pleased with previous book recommendations by this friend, I purchased the book and am so, so glad I did. Unbeknownst to me, the second half of the book is about Sedaris’s experiences living in France. The first half of the book was funny but once I made it to the parts about France…I lost it. Like falling-out-of-my-chair-laughing-so-hard-I-couldn’t-breathe lost it. I really want to read it again but it’s in our storage unit…somewhere.

Dominion: I had never heard of this game until my brother and sister gave it to Jake for his birthday. We pretty much instantly fell in love with it; we have been playing it quite frequently with Jeremy and Sarah (our gracious hosts during Our Time of Need). It’s really fun! (Seth – when y’all are back in the States you should pick one up to take to game night!)

Brown Mountain Cake – my favorite cake. My birthday may have been over 2 months ago but my birthday cake didn’t put in an appearance until very recently. I THINK this is the recipe my mom uses but I’m not sure.It is SO GOOD.

The other thing brightening my days is a little boy with whom I have an awful lot of fun. He has a brilliant smile and is learning to do so many cool things. Sometimes I look at him and my heart does that thing like the Grinch.

I am always intrigued by the search terms used to find my blog. Recently someone wandered over here by googling “naked in the albergue on the camino,” which has now joined “fat guy in swimsuit” in my all-time favorite searches. (I googled the albergue one and sure enough, my blog pops up on page 6. Someone was very dedicated to unearthing all there is to be known about this condition.) (By the way, don’t try googling “fat guy in swimsuit,” my post doesn’t come up, at least not that I had the patience to find, and especially don’t do an image search because a lot of those images have nothing whatsoever to do with a swimsuit.)

Camino has been on my mind a lot lately, though. A mere few months ago I could not imagine ever wanting to do it again but something – my transient lifestyle, I suppose, or perhaps packing my Camino pack once again with the intention of living out of it – has made me think wistfully of the simple life of just walking. All your belongings fit into a backpack and your life’s worries consist of finding a place to sleep and acquiring food. I mean, I guess that is all you ever really need to worry about but on the Camino that is literally what you are doing. Your time is spent walking and talking and thinking and just being. (This is a romanticized version, of course. I just read back over my Camino posts, which I actually never finished, and was forcibly reminded of the interpersonal difficulties and PAIN ALL THE TIME and my recent musings have neglected those very important items.) Everything just seems so hard and directionless right now (no one told me coming home was the hard part!), the idea of walking and thinking and eating tortilla and following the yellow arrows seems so simple and appealing. There are no yellow arrows in real life.

A while back, Jake and I decided we should have periodic family field trips or adventures to nearby sites of interest. Apparently being poor and jobless can cause strain so we thought it would be good for all of us to get out and have fun together. In highly uncharacteristic fashion, I asked to be in charge of the first one.

A few weeks earlier, I had embarked on a sleuthing mission. There used to be a pizza place in Bedford called That Chicago Place (side note: it is nigh impossible to Google a name like that without quotation marks. You will get nowhere) where we used to go when we were dating. The guy who owned it was actually from Chicago and made a truly wonderful deep dish, the kind of deep dish that makes you feel stuffed (ha! no pun intended) after a slice or two. Shortly before we got married, he closed and then reopened in Grapevine. At first we thought it would be a good move for business as the new location was in Grapevine Mills, but deep dish takes about 30 minutes to cook so it’s not a good fit for a concession stand at a hockey rink (or even just a regular food court). Anyway he closed again and that’s the last we heard of it. Occasionally in France one of us would get a hankering for deep dish pizza and bemoan the demise of our pizza place, although I will not lie – it was slightly easier to bear knowing we couldn’t have it even if we were back in Texas.

So, the sleuthing. It took a bit of work but I tracked it from Grapevine to a new location in Addison, which also closed, and finally to a location in Mesquite (practically down the street from my grandparents!) under the name Chicago’s Original. They still had a website so chances were good they were still in business. I told Jake I had a surprise for him, knowing that he wouldn’t tolerate the suspense and eager to share my find with him, but in highly uncharacteristic fashion he said he didn’t want to know, he would wait for the surprise. ARRRR!! The nearest excuse for eating out was Father’s Day, which at the time was well over a month away. Then Jake announced a different place he would like to eat for Father’s Day, so when he came up with the idea of Family Adventure Day I jumped on it and claimed the first.

I called to make sure they were still open and we headed out. When we were a little over halfway there, Jake joked about us going to my grandparents’…I just shrugged and kept driving. As we approached he said, “Hey! There’s a Chicago pizza place” and I informed him that was where we were going. He asked how I found it and I FINALLY had the very great joy of informing him that I found That Chicago Place! And the villagers rejoiced.

we're starting the little guy off young.

Look how thick the crust is!!

So, we splurged and each got a pizza, which kept us very happily fed for 4 days. (And yes, we did visit my grandparents afterward.) This marks the second time in a year – and actually maybe just the second time overall – that I have managed to surprise Jake which, in addition to the actual pizza, means Family Adventure Day was a raging success.

Next Page »