01 March 2016


Hey everyone,

I have a new blog: Essays From the Ordinary. I don't plan to post often and won't include many personal details when I do, so if you want to keep up with our family online, Instagram is by far the best place to do so (my handle is @rdaphne.r). And my email address is still rebekahdrandolph@gmail.com.

This has been a fun blog to maintain, but its time is up. See ya!

30 December 2015

bits of December

Goodbye, 2015! You were exhausting and hard but quite educational. Among other valuable things, I learned that my life is better without Facebook. That the second baby is a completely different proposition from the first. That I'm not parenting from a higher moral plane than my children, just a redeemed one. That we should only plant one tomato bush next year. That snuggles trump laundry.

Ellie sitting still, for once.

That it's smart to keep art and music in your life when kids come along. That Amazon Prime is worth all the pennies. That I need to be outdoors, go to bed on time, and take the dang cod liver oil. That my momiform of Jeans and Black T-Shirt simplifies life beautifully.  That I should embrace my introversion.

Zoe is a lovebug... BTW that's my knee, not my stomach.

And that I don't have to feel guilty about eating cheese, forgetting to blog, or letting Ellie watch Netflix every afternoon.

Huzzah, merry holidays, and bottoms up to old lang syne! (Though all we're drinking these days is coffee and Yorkshire Gold; alcohol is too expensive and we need every bit of grocery money for yogurt and clementines because both of our children eat like little monsters.)

Speaking of! Here's what we've et lately:
- chicken and green bean stirfry in peanut butter lime sauce
- shepherd's pie with lots of mushrooms and buttery mashed potatoes
- Laughing Spatula's Italian chicken, definitely one of the best recipe discoveries of this year (I use bone-in thighs but remove the skin first)
- tacos with a crunchy, tangy cabbage slaw (dressed in lime, olive oil, and sour cream . . . and some halved grapes and green onions for good measure)
- loads of soup! (butternut squash, curried pumpkin, cream of broccoli, hamburger soup, zuppa toscana, creamy chicken stew, chili)
- The Pioneer Woman's creamy mustard chicken
- roasted brussels sprouts with bacon
- Greek kale salad
- smoothies with coconut milk (the best brand!), frozen fruit (thanks Costco), and gelatin powder
- BREAD (I started with this seeded multigrain bread, which is perfectly nice, but after making it almost every weekend since October, may I humbly submit that I've far surpassed the original: with the insertion of an autolysation step, by splitting the recipe into two round loaves, and after adding that glorious trinity of garlic, rosemary, and olive oil, it has risen [HA HA] into something truly dreamy)
- the Kitchn's butter-packed sugar cookies, the only Christmas cookie I made this year, and absolutely worth it!
- an incredible deep-dish key lime pie with sour cream topping

Whew! I know I just said that I don't feel guilty about eating cheese, and I don't, but we're doing a Whole30 anyway after the holiday/wedding season is over: some dear friends are getting married on Saturday and there is no way I am passing on appetizers. Or cake. Wedding aside, we have indulged with abandon ever since Thanksgiving and it's time for a reset. (Jared will be lamenting the lack of half-and-half for his coffee. I will be mourning the absence of butter, in general. But we all love potatoes, spinach, and coconut milk, so we'll be just fine.)

Pat Sajak has a funny Twitter feed.

Cockatoo dances to Elvis.

One man, six photographers, wholly different perspectives: the power of expectations to shape our opinion of someone.

Map of Europe, according to its culinary horrors.

"5 Wine Myths That Should Be Put to Rest."

"That's Not Autism, It's Simply a Brainy Introverted Boy."

On the other hand, discovering Aspberger's three years into marriage.

"Motherhood: The Highest Ordinary Calling."

P.S. I don't blog about my husband much, but in case you were wondering, he is still as delightful as ever. God had a real good idea when He established marriage. We'll be celebrating our sixth (!!!!!!!) anniversary this weekend. 

27 November 2015

a November report

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
-Ephesians 1:3-4
November's post count threatens to stay at 1. That would be an all-time low, so here, let's bring it up to a respectable pair with a haphazard dump of thoughts.

Mothering Ellie is hard now. Not because she is a terrible person. She isn't, despite living squarely in the greatly-ballyhooed second year! It's just that . . . she is a person. She has all the frustrations, and complexity, and forceful opinions of a real live human being. Furthermore, she fully believes that the world is her own private kingdom; whenever that turns out not to be true, woe to the bearer of bad tidings (and that's usually me). We have conversations that contain way too much "but why?" and not enough "yes mommy." We both lose our tempers. Ellie flops onto the floor. I flop onto the couch and fume for a while, and then I pray as hard as I can to Jesus. I apologize for my impatience, and she gives me a peck on the cheek and goes to find some salt to dump on the table.

Oh, I love her. I think of the love God has for me, and how tiny my love for Ellie must seem in comparison to His! But I love her up and down and all around. I can delight even on the worst days in her hilarity and intelligence, her sprightly imagination, her ridiculous mood swings and jaw-dropping moxie. (She calls me honey. Jared calls her a sassball.) I can't figure out if she is very much like me, but she is very much herself. And I like herself.

Zoe has fully arrived on the scene and is here to PARTY, ya'll. What's that Mother Goose rhyme? "Upstairs and downstairs and in my lady's chamber?" Add "munching dirt, collecting bruises, and constantly in danger," and you have Zoe. Half the time she wants to be glued to me, and the other half of the time she is an absolute hoyden. She climbs everything and crawls at lightning speed, and these days she has enough strength and wit to satisfy her curiosity: what's in this cupboard? oh goody! I can open it! oh look, a bottle of hairspray and a toothbrush, such fun I will have!

Of course, she then puts on a convincing show of innocence, what with her blonde wisps and round eyes and joyous grin.

can I eat it?

This Thanksgiving, I gave thanks mostly for the "spiritual blessings in the heavenly places." My material blessings are wonderful, and I do pray that I'd have a clearer vision of them each year, so as not to fall into discontentment. But strong family and abundant food and lovely house aside, I'm most struck by the riches of Christ's love. By the fact that he never abandons me, even when I cannot see Him or or muster an authentic hallelujah. By the fact that he understands me, every tightly wrapped rose-petal layer of my heart, even when I cannot begin to understand myself. By the finality of justification, the permanence of my inheritance, and the unstinting abundance of his grace that meets me in my native poverty.

Confession: I always thought it sounded a bit hokey and self-serving to say "Oh, don't congratulate me! I'm so weak! These good things I did were only by the grace of God! " This year, though, I came to that point: I realized that it is all through Him. Really. I failed enough this year that I came to see that failure is my default state, or would be, outside of God's enabling-- left to myself I fall, and fall down with a thud. I just don't have anything good that I ginned up on my own, and I never have. My supposed triumphs are Christ in me, and each gives one more reason to marvel at Him.

In quietness and in trust is still my strength.

23 November 2015

then she said

"Does the sky have a belly button?"
-working on anatomy facts

 "I close the curtains so we can fall Zoe asleep!"
-helping her sister take a nap

"I want to work with Daddy in the garage. And I want a pink hammer and pink nails and pink screws."
-big plans for her home improvement career

"Can you draw a blue elephant?"
"Can you draw your toothbrush?"
"Can you draw Daddy's swimsuit?"
"Can you draw a sad egg?"
 -commissioning crayon art from her mother

Jared: Do you like your lollipop?
Ellie: No, it's a CANDY.

Me: Ellie, I am in charge because I am the mommy. You are not the mommy.
Ellie: I'm the Ellie?
Me: Yes.
Ellie: You can be the Ellie. I will be the grandma.

Jared: What did you do today?
Ellie: Grocery store!
Jared: And what did you get there?
Ellie: Oh, just some things.

Ellie: I want my cantaloupe!
Me: Your what?
Ellie: My cantaloupe!
[I look around and then realize]
Me: You mean your envelope!
Ellie: Yep. My cantaloupe.

Jared: Ellie, do you want to run an errand with me?
Ellie: Ooh! What we gonna pick out?
Jared: We're going to get some tools.
Ellie: Shoes?! 

[as she assists me in the kitchen]
Me: Good job stirring!
Ellie: Good job tasting!

Jared: Hey, where's my knife?
Ellie: I take it! [displays proudly]
Jared: And where's my fork?
Ellie: Oh, it's all gone! You can use your hand.

Ellie: Can we go to grandma's house?
Me: We don't have a car today, so we can't go anywhere.
Ellie: Yeah, our car blow up.

26 October 2015

Family snippets

To begin, I'll point out that this is only the second post I've written all month. Draw your own conclusions about my busyness level. Sitting down at the computer with the adorable monsters munchkins both awake is a joke: Ellie wants to sit on my lap and type, or share my tea, or watch Little Einsteins, while Zoe makes a beeline for a trash can or a bookcase or a set of electrical outlets. She is a troublesome monkey, as we tell her ten times a day (she responds with a brilliant five-toothed grin and crawls off to find something else to destroy).

Therefore, save for this magical Sunday afternoon, since they're sleeping simultaneously and I don't need to do chores . . . no blogging for me.

I'm fine with that now. I fought it for months, but just this week, reached the blindingly obvious conclusion that I no longer live in the Writing Frequently chapter of my life, and I shan't live there again for years. Forcibly wedging my blog into the current chapter-- which we might title Loving My Babies and Not Doing Much Else-- is a terrible idea. I will not live under that self-imposed burden anymore.

It's remarkably freeing. Without realizing it, I had come to believe that if I wasn't maintaining my wee space on the internet, I was letting myself down. Maybe I was even letting God down. He gave me the gifts and desires that launched this blog, didn't he? So if I didn't keep writing, I would be losing an essential part of myself. And-- I think due partly to my generation's congenital compulsion to Change the World and Make a Difference-- wasn't I supposed to be aiming high? If I contented myself with ordinary life, life without an interesting internet presence and a significant project, I could fail to achieve my full potential (which may be the fate we millennials fear above all else).

All false, and absurdly so. I've got a billion things to do. They're extremely ordinary but God gave them to me, which makes them quite precious. They concern the physical needs of my family, the care of our lovely home, the kindness I can show to friends and neighbors. And it turns out that they are essential things, even when I'm not telling the internet about them. Shock! Amazement!

So I'm going to march along my noisy little road of mothering and home-keeping, without a keyboard hanging round my neck like a millstone, and without trying to measure up to the movers and shakers. Or anyone else, for that matter. I believe that God is calling me to do something significant, but I no longer think that "significant" means "affecting lots of people and accompanied by beautifully composed pictures." He sees. He cares. He blesses. That is sufficient.


On to the girls, because while I'm at it, I may as well describe what they've been up to.

Ellie: always learning and imagining. If she isn't asleep, she is either talking or singing. (Lacking a song for the occasion, she makes one up.) Her chatter exhausts me but it's also insightful and funny. And she's only two! Who knows what she will be coming up with next.

The child has limitless energy, which, paired with my emotional hunger for sunshine, has led me to make a point of spending time outside every day. Sometimes I just send her into the yard, where she loads rocks into her giant Tonka dump truck and spies on squirrels; I come out to uproot bedraggled hostas and plant tulip bulbs. Sometimes we go for a morning promenade around the block, and if so, we often end up at the playground down the street.

Indoors, she likes to draw and use scissors, build "tall tall towers," crumble playdough all over the floor, look at books, have books read to her, beg for snacks, dance until she falls on her face, make Zoe laugh, steal toys from Zoe, play with her pretend kitchen, and help me in the real kitchen. We went on vacation to the Outer Banks at the beginning of October, and by the end of the week she was leaping into the pool like the waterbug she is. Now that we're back home she must make do with splashing wildly in the bathtub.

Ellie has been successfully potty trained, which feels like a whole new phase in motherhood. A good phase, except for when I'm hunting for a bathroom because someone announced "I NEED TO POOP!" in the middle of the grocery store. Her vocabulary, her skills, and her ideas all make it impossible to think of her as a baby or even a toddler anymore. We have a real Big Girl in the house.

Zoe: always exploring and discovering. Too clever to keep tabs on. We barricaded the staircase with furniture but she finds a way to push it aside. She pokes her nose into every cabinet she can find. She knows when you are eating something, and flaps her arms unhappily until you share. I guess you could say she's making her presence known! At nighttime too, unfortunately. She had been sleeping pretty soundly, but several weeks ago she started a dreadful teething/growth spurt period when she would wake up 4-6 times a night. What a headache. Thankfully, she is settling down and has only gotten up twice for the past several nights. That much, I can handle.

She has learned how to imitate us-- if we click our tongues, smack our lips, or make a silly face, she does it right back. Sometimes she attempts to clap. Though she doesn't babble as much as Ellie did, she has a very loud voice when she does choose to use it. Again, I think she's just making her presence known, which is not an easy feat with her explosive older sister around.

Two children feels like a lot of children, these days. They're gorgeous and smart and loving them is a full time occupation.