31 July 2015

Family snippets // Weekend linkage

I solemnly swear that she is up to no good
Ellie is a perpetual motion machine. (Some days I think of her as an entropy machine, but that isn't quite fair because she does create and clean up some things.)

Yesterday morning she came downstairs, announced that she was awake, and demanded tea. Then I watched as she went from guzzling her mug of PG Tips to gobbling blueberries to slicing up playdough to crafting lavish masterpieces in marker to decorating her own knees with said marker to scribbling on the chalkboard and whiteboard to "helping" me bake banana muffins to "helping" me wash the dishes to opening a contraband Larabar all by herself to racing up and down the length of the house shouting "I'm an Elliegator!" And then it was time to have lunch and go to the library and watch Curious George. Her life is pretty exciting, mostly because she makes it so.

Zoe makes fewer headlines but we love her just as much. She can get up on all fours now, bah! And she's less of a cuddle bug; she enjoys leaping about in her "jumper swing" as Ellie calls it, or sitting in the high chair with a fun toy, like a carrot or a crinkly package of chips.

Last week we went on vacation, to a spot in South Carolina just south of Myrtle Beach. We've been before, but that was in January (with only one kid, who wasn't even walking yet). So this time we had considerable heat + two children to wrangle, but it was so fun to chase seagulls with Ellie, watch Zoe eat sand, and splash in the water, both ocean and pool, with both of them.

After enjoying tons of pizza, oatmeal, and ice cream on vacation, I climbed back on the Paleoesque wagon . . . and oh goodness, I feel much better! I have mounds of energy, and more stable emotions. I'd been moping about for weeks with a brain fog and zero motivation to do anything, so when we got back from South Carolina I dropped all grains, almost all sugar, and the cream in my coffee; it's good black, I promise, especially when you have a French press. :) This week I've buzzed around accomplishing all sorts of projects, and I feel happy and hopeful again. I think the vitamin D from the beach helped too.

I have gained a little weight back after stopping AIP but I don't mind, really. I was so grumpy while on AIP that I'd rather have the extra pounds. I like looking at my curious, cheerful, chubby girls and remembering how I got to nourish them inside of my body for the better part of a year. I like being able to make myself beautiful, and appreciate what I do have, even when my stomach-- which is, after all, only one part of me-- is bigger and softer than I would prefer. And I like that my husband still chases me around like we are googly-eyed newlyweds. He's swell.

Speaking of getting pretty, I enjoyed the Gemma Burgess installment of "Beauty Uniform" on A Cup of Jo. She's funny! I shall be investigating many of her picks.

And I just took advantage of this deal: a high-end Nume curling wand for only $19, plus shipping.

A lovely print from Gracelaced that fits with so much of what God has been impressing on me about motherhood and homemaking, and fulfillment versus fame, and where I'm finding my value, and identifying-- and prioritizing-- the true passions of my heart. All of which could fill at least three long posts. But anyway, imma buy me one of these.

I enjoy Apartment Therapy's house tours, this one especially.

50,000 images that will change how you see Africa.

16 July 2015

Family snippets // Thursday linkage

Once, when Ellie was still tiny and her personality unknown, I worried that I wouldn't find her interesting. My own family is . . . colorful, shall we say. I was half-afraid that Ellie wouldn't fit in. Would she have a sense of humor? Would she be creative? Would I like having her around?

Not to fear. Yesterday she climbed up on the loveseat with me and announced, "This is firetruck! MEEE MA MEEE MA!!!" That's a siren sound, dontcha know. Soon she scrambled off, only to return with several pieces of play food. "I have a snack. Pear, pineapple, pepper." Then she continued to blare her siren, occasionally interrupting herself to sing "Jesus lub me, this I know. For da Bible tell me so. Little ONESIE him belong!"

This child is so many things but dull is certainly not one of them. Her way of living is whole-hearted, over-the-top, and frequently hilarious, whether jumping ("like frog! ribbit, ribbit, ribbit!" through the flower garden) or singing ("doo da doo! bacon and cheese! I really LOUD!" in the middle of the grocery store) or coloring ("uh oh, purple marker on arm, I wash it off!" as she runs to get a kitchen towel). She greets everyone she sees with a bellow of "Hi! How doin'?" and then proceeds to tell them her name, how old she is (if she can remember), and all about her mommy and daddy and baby Zoe and how we're going to the pool tomorrow and she saw a trash truck this morning and the sky is blue and can I touch your dog?

So it figures that her current favorite word is very. The first thing I hear in the morning is "Hi Mommy! I very awake! Mommy very awake too?" And thus it continues throughout the day. "I very need a drink! I very go outside! I very eating tuna!"

dominoes and a plate = bliss

Meanwhile my peaceful Zoe-bug has learned how to roll over and scoot backwards on her belly, takes regular morning and afternoon naps, likes to lick celery sticks, drinks milk from a bottle if I go out in the evening, and can sit up mostly without falling on her head. She will be six months old on Tuesday, which is unbelievable, but I guess I have to believe it. She weighs almost 18 pounds and still has the appetite of Almanzo Wilder.

Now for interesting things elsewhere.

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Hmm, bacon-wrapped cinnamon apples seem like a good idea.

I would wear this necklace. (I couldn't spring for the "birthstone of each child" idea yet, though, because we are not done adding kids to the collection.)

This post on Apartment Therapy made me smile; I love how the author describes getting married and merging your home cultures, learning from your spouse as you observe how he goes about his everyday routine. I have certainly adopted some of Jared's habits in the past five years. (Setting a separate bowl for salad, drinking coffee instead of tea in the morning, using dishcloths instead of sponges . . .)

Speaking of home, I KNOW some of you will love this: How To Get the Jane-Austen Inspired Room of Your Dreams.

This is truly one of those "oh duh, why didn't I think of that?" kitchen tips.

This week's excellent Instagram account: Desiree De Leon, making clever drawings out of tiny objects.

08 July 2015

according to knowledge

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
-1 Peter 3:7
Obviously there's a lot to say about that. But this post isn't about husbands or wives or vessels of any kind. It's about that idea of living in an understanding way. We had a good sermon on this passage a while back, and our pastor observed that in some translations, that phrase is rendered "according to knowledge."

The "understanding" that Peter has in mind is not a generic niceness: it's specific. It demands personal knowledge. It demands that you know the other person's background, beliefs, weaknesses and strengths. You can't be a good husband (or wife) if you are ignorant about who your spouse is. To overcome ignorance, to get out of our selfish surface-level acquaintance, we need to invest a lot of time, listen patiently, and remember what we have heard.

I think that this is quite applicable to parenting. We all like quick fixes: "If Child does X, Parent does or says Y, and all shall be well." However, people don't often operate well on quick fixes. If your child does X on a particular day because of a particular reason, you might want to do Y. But maybe not. Think about it first. Try to understand what is really going on. The solution might be Z or Q or T, or a combination thereof.

A visitor tossed into the middle of our household would probably draw incorrect conclusions about our kids, simply because she doesn't know them (and how would she be expected to?). She might think Ellie is being mean to Zoe when she's actually being careless. That still requires some correction, but of a different sort. She might assume that a crying Zoe should be fed or held, when the poor cranky thing actually needs a nap and won't settle down till plopped into her crib. She might not realize that Ellie has been told "no" ten times in the past hour, and that it's time for a "yes" and a hug of encouragement.

So don't act like a visitor with your own children. You aren't! You are their mom or dad. You have eyes to observe them, ears to hear them, a mind to process who they are and to inquire of God for wisdom. Don't parent them according to lifeless, inflexible rules; live with them, and parent them according to knowledge.

03 July 2015

Weekend linkage

source
Today we're busy prepping for an Independence Day party (slightly early) at our house: there will be brined pork chops and lemon garlic chicken on the grill, sweet potato fries, pickles I canned last summer, homemade cookies (you know it's special because I never make cookies), and lots of other good food provided by the friends who will shortly descend upon us. I have decorated with paper chains, an adorable free printable from Hope Ink, and dill flowers, which, rather felicitously, resemble fireworks.

I love being an American. I'm not much for group pride or team spirit-- too cynical? too contrary?-- but I genuinely think this country is awesome, and worth fighting to keep it that way.

Here are links.

"When the Wages of Sin Is a Grandbaby."
You read all the blogs, ask all the parents who came before you how they got their kids through. You also know the panic you feel when what you prayed against happens. You feel desperate to reset it all, to find the way back to the place of peace, the longing to wake up and discover it was a dream, a warning so you can be a little more vigilant.

And yet, did you hear that? The tiny flutter of a little heart beating means our Father’s hand is at work in our girl to give us all a gift beyond price.
"Pro Life, No Tricks."
If Rick Perry had signed the “Save The Babies From Being Murdered Act of 2013,” I would be cheering him on. That he expects us to believe that he’s honestly concerned about “ambulatory surgical centers” is insulting to us, and insulting to the pro-life movement, which can easily make its case without resorting to such measures . . . Abortion should be illegal. Let’s not waste our time with false and Machiavellian endeavors to make it so.
"Beauty and Darkness."
Dostoyevsky famously wrote that “Beauty will save the world,” and I desperately want to believe him, because it is a deeply nice thing to believe. But it didn’t. It won’t. Standing atop the misty mountains in Berchtesgaden, I was reminded of that. Truth will, Christ will, and sometimes it seems far from beautiful in the moment. But truth always leads to something far more beautiful than anything we could imagine.
"I Made the Pea Guacamole."
First, I made a much smaller batch, because I don't believe in wasting avocados on an abomination. Second, I didn't have time to roast my jalapeno, though I doubt that would have improved things. Finally, I did not sprinkle any sunflower seeds over the top; I don't have those on hand because I'm not some kind of socialist. 
"We Have Reached Peak Problematic."
Because academic progressivism is intellectually exhausted and out of ideas, it had to invest in a kind of catch-all word that would serve as a useful vilification device. “Problematic” was that word. Now, instead of thinking about and discussing mildly complex issues, you can just call things “problematic” and act as if you’ve said something intelligent.
"Stop Trying to Convince Me I'm Beautiful." (EXCEPT IF YOU'RE MY HUSBAND IN WHICH CASE NEVER EVER STOP.)
I don’t have low self esteem, or harbour a pocket of self loathing. I love myself, my life, my body, and my face—but I’m not a beauty. I’m a really nice, smart, kind woman who has a lot of great qualities that I’m recognised for everyday. Because of all those things I’m also unbelievably lucky. But again, I’m not a delicate willow, an amazon, a starlet, or anything in between. I’m not bad looking, but that’s about as far as I’d go. I’m a happy average.
"What I Wish I'd Known" before having kids. This is part III of the series, and my favorite installment, but you really ought to read them all.
People always ask how I do it all with three kids and I always say it's because I have three kids. I am more driven, more productive, more organized and happier as a mom of three kids than I would be if it were just me. I can't imagine having all of my time to myself- I would waste so much!
A super interesting podcast, which both appeals to my Hillsdaler's love of core curriculum and raises the hackles of my homeschooled lone ranger sensibilities: "What Every American Needs to Know" with Milt Rosenberg and E.D. Hirsch. Milt Rosenberg is adorable btw and I want to adopt him as my granddaddy.

This week's delighful Instagram account: Benjamin Hole, a farmer on the Isle of Purbeck. SHEEP.

27 June 2015

Weekend linkage

Scripture, flowers, critter friends
"University of Cambridge to hire Professor of Lego." Indeed.

Oh my goodness, now I want to buy a million terracotta pots.

Because such things are vital to life: the best way to grill sausages.

Why those final five weeks of pregnancy are critical. Clearly, some babies need to be hurried along for their own well-being! But some babies are not most babies. Chances are, your mini-me will arrive exactly when he is ready. Be patient, mamas!

And after he does arrive, here is a truly great thing to keep in mind: "My Number One Parenting Tip." More patience required. . . good parenting means a lot of patience, I'm finding.

I typically enjoy the podcasts put out by Ricochet, as they range from the highest of culture to grubbiest of politics. Here's an interesting and recent one, with guest appearances by Michael Barone, Richard Epstein, and R.R. Reno: Three Headed Hydra.

This made me laugh (and cringe, remembering some of the misguided but incredibly confident advice my writing students used to give one another): "If Jane Austen Got Feedback From Some Guy in a Writing Workshop."
A few other concerns: Mrs. Bennett is annoying, and you don’t have any people of color. Also, there aren’t a lot of men in this book. Only about the same number as there are women. I was thinking that what you could do is have Mrs. Bennett be dying, but give her a black best friend. Like Othello? (Have you read it? It’s also by Shakespeare, fwiw.) The Othello character could be her butler, maybe? There you go: three problems solved. You’re welcome!
"Homeschooling and Christian Duty."
The idea of sending a child daily into a hostile environment—if not actively hostile, as in bullying, then certainly philosophically hostile—expecting him not only to withstand assaults on everything his parents have told him is true but also to transform the entire system by his presence, seems sadly misguided to me. There may be many valid arguments for sending a child to school, but that one doesn’t wash.