Thursday, July 10, 2014

What's in my bag?

I've had a couple of questions about what I keep in all these little pouches so I thought this was the easiest way to share. 

Turquoise Tool Kit (bottom left): pens/pencils

Black/white/yellow Vera Bradley (top left middle): sunglasses 

Khaki/red geometric (top right): vintage wooden game pieces that I use to keep track of the boys' behavior while we're out and about 

Olive and black small Chilewich (middle): one for each boy's behavior chips

Orange pinked West Elm (bottom middle): Masala Chai tea bags

Black pinked West Elm (bottom middle): bandages and sometimes sunblock 

B&W composition book (top right): wallet

Black/khaki linen tartan (top right): hand sanitizer, lotion, nail clipper, business card holder, face powder, mascara, lip gloss

And THAT, my friends, is why I rarely carry a small bag!

Friday, July 4, 2014

My Month In Numbers

Julie Kirk of Notes on Paper has inspired me to (among other things) document "My Month In Numbers". Check out her June numbers here:

These are my stats for June:

20   rainy days (I'm the only one who's thrilled about this!)

7   industrial-strength shelves we bought & assembled for the bomb-shelter storage room 

18  Sterilite totes (finally the white lids are back!) we bought for said storage room 

102  Instagram posts

9 + 3   items purchased at Elkhorn Flea Market for myself & for others, respectively 

19 + 28   dollars paid for said items

12 + 17   total of so-called "bloody owies" sustained by Ezra and Nehemiah, respectively 

6     nights I survived as a single parent while Harry was in CA

23   episodes of The Good Wife I watched while he was gone

2     Peas in a Bucket, which will cease to exist as of July 10. SO SAD. 

Can't believe I've resisted this project for so long! It's been a fun way of categorizing my memories and I will definitely be doing this regularly. I didn't decide to participate in June's MMiN until the first of July, so I wasn't thinking numbers throughout the month. I can already tell that I'll have a lot more data-laced memories to sift through for July. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Rough Draft No. 3 - Answers Without Answers

"What does that mean, Mommy? 'Yahweh'?"

How to explain the unexplainable?
The One who Was and Is and Is To Come?
How do I explain I Am,
  the One who has scattered stars
  and molded lives,
Who writes each story with infinite grace,
  In all its pulpy rebellious mess?
How do I explain the One who destroys decrepit homes
  and rebuilds them into castles,
  who sees promise in barren wasteland
  and makes of it a prosperous garden?
How do I explain the bark of a tree,
  rough and protective,
  or the roots,
  those invisible providers?
What does it mean, I Am?
  splintering Healer,
  warrior Shepherd,
  the Searcher, the Fortress.

I have known words and I have known songs,
but I could shift letters into their dappled patterns
and never capture Him.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Rough Draft No. 2 - Holy Contradiction

I want to yearn for You. 
I do.
I want to plug my ears with my fingers
  until You are all I hear,
  a whooshing 
I want to pick my way up
  the jagged rock of You,
  certain of every foothold,
  knowing that my gasping self
  will always find
  its next breath
  in You.

I want to burst into parties —"SURPRISE!" —
  and search the faces for You.

You are treasure.
No grimy coin on the sidewalk,
No quarter flecked with gum,
You are the lottery and I win You every time.
Every time I fix my eyes on You,
and not on others' scurrying feet
or the pulsing lights above.

I want to be the lost sheep
relieved You found me,
and I want to be the 99
never doubting You'd return.
I want to sing of You and keep You to myself
  (a jealous hoarder am I)
  but You are infinite
  and I cannot consume You.
I want to rest and I want to flee —
  but You say
  yoke: easy
  burden: light.

I want to wear out my shoes looking for You
  finding You
  following You.
And when You bloom through Your word
I will gladly exhaust myself
gathering more and more of You
into my already-bursting arms.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Rough Draft No. 1 - Mother's Day

A couple of years ago, I'd gotten in the habit of going to Starbucks daily (sometimes even twice - What?!). After awhile, I decided to assuage some of my guilt by doing something productive with the time I spent there, so I challenged myself to write a poem each time I waited for my drink to be made. Sometimes I only ended up with a line or two, sometimes I came away with a nearly-finished piece. Either way, it was fulfilling and (as often happens when I commit to doing something creative daily) it made me increasingly observant and productive. 

After leaving my job in mid-September to become a stay-at-home mom, my Starbucks budget basically evaporated and with it, my prolific poem-generation. So a couple of months ago, as my younger son and I were waiting in the car for older brother to get out of school, it occurred to me that I could make waiting-for-school-to-get-out my new poem creation time. And I've decided to further challenge myself by posting these rough drafts here. I'm hopeful that this process will inspire me to keep writing and thinking and honing, and that it may inspire some of you to do whatever you do for creative expression. 

Just a reminder that these are ROUGH DRAFTS. They are not finished, polished pieces, though I hope that I will eventually post the final versions as I complete them. Also, I am creating all of these posts from my phone, so the formatting will almost certainly be awry. This drives the perfectionist in me CRAZY, but I've decided to stop letting her stand in the way of actually doing things. So without further ado...

Mother's Day

The sudden-sharp growl of thunder
shook the house 
and before it had pealed itself out
I was padding down the hall,
knowing one would cry out
(and he did)
and one would stumble from bed
(and he did).

I like this about motherhood:
the knowing.
Knowing when to ask about his day 
and expect an answer,
knowing when tantrum
is really just code for lonely,
gauging moods like wind.

I don't know much.
I don't know string theory,
or how to grow a tomato,
and I can't remember 
the quadratic equation,
but I do know
how this one likes his oatmeal
and how that one
likes to be alone only when he's angry.

And I like the knowing of them,
the knowing that,
on days like this —
  skies clouded pewter
  and rain pelting ground —
there is nothing they want more
than to burrow under wool blanket
with their soft jumble of plush friends
while I read 
and they breathe me

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Ode To A Long Winter

As a lover of the cold and inclement, the grey and dreary, I am a happy, happy girl. This winter has had everything I love: big snowstorms, cloudy skies, day after day of must-stay-inside cold. Winters like this feed my soul. Of course, I am surrounded by people who feel very, very differently, people whose favorite greeting tends to be along the lines of, "Ugh! Can you believe how long/cold/endless this winter has been? Aren't you so excited for spring?!" At which point, I must decide between honesty ("Actually, I love cold, grey weather, so I'm a little depressed that spring is coming") or pretense ("Mmm-hmm...", sympathetic-seeming smile). I know that those of you who crave the warmth of the sun and the green of the spring, this plodding winter is near-torture. So I'd like to call your attention to some reasons that I love a good, long winter and maybe - just maybe - you will find yourself a way to enjoy its last freezing throes. 

It's easy to ensconce yourself inside and wait out the cold, but winter is a great opportunity to have some friends over for a cozy get-together. Calendars tend to be emptier than in the warmer months and many folks are desperate to break up their routine after so many months of weather-enforced seclusion. Easy, comforting meals like soups or crock-pot fare are welcome, and you don't have to dust your shelves too carefully, thanks to the forgiving darkness of winter. 

Although this may seem at odds with the community I just encouraged, solitude is its necessary partner. In warmer weather, there are outdoor activities aplenty, most of them involving other people. Calendars fill up and evening get-togethers often seep into the bedtime hours because of the extra light. This leaves all but the staunchest introverts with little to no downtime. Enter the dark of winter. Closing the drapes and settling in for the night at 5:00? Perfectly acceptable. Putting the kids to bed at 7:00? Utterly feasible. Spending an evening by the fire reading, writing, or being creative? Blissfully possible. Take advantage of these waning short days to spend some evenings getting reacquainted with yourself.

Crackling fire 
Growing list of finished books
Tea, tea, and more tea
Wool blankets
Card games, board games, dice games
Reading Harry Potter aloud 
Sweaters and lounge pants 
Cutting paper and doing fun stuff with it
Watching the snow fall & the squirrels scamper
Turning off music/TV and savoring the sounds of the house: heat kicking in, dishwasher churning, wood floors settling 

Here's to enjoying the final 17 days of winter!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Karatasi No. 2

It is January, a.k.a. The Month I Again Return To Journaling. I was an avid journaler from elementary school through early adulthood, filling nearly a hundred journals and notebooks with my thoughts and observations. Every time I completed the last page of a journal, I felt a rush of victory at having filled the book, mingled with regret that I would have to shelve this journal whose cover and pages I had come to know so well. Part of what made this regret so palatable was knowing that I now had an excuse to shop for the next journal. Oh, the happy hours I spent debating the options! Spiral coil or bound? White pages or ivory? 5x7 hardcover or 8.5x11 softcover? After making my selection, I would scurry to my favorite journaling site and crack open the new book, relishing the fresh pages and the possibility that lay ahead.

And then December of 1996 happened. I came home from a week away to find that a pipe in my tiny bungalow had burst and my basement had filled with two feet of water, submerging the wooden trunk that held all of my journals from my entire life. And all of the thoughts and prayers I had poured onto the page over the years were blurred into beautiful, haunting watercolors. 

It was then that I lost my passion for journaling. It suddenly seemed futile, even ridiculous. Why spend all this time and effort rendering thoughts into words if I can't go back and read them, or pass them on to my children? What, really, is the point?

Of course, I knew the point. I knew that all of those words I'd carefully chosen, those thoughts I'd tried to painstakingly articulate, had shaped me merely in the writing of them. Would it have been rewarding to revisit those thoughts, to ponder them anew? Sure. But they had already done their work in me, and no amount of water could wash that away. 

So I slowly, slowly, S L O W L Y have returned to a place where I am again interested in journaling regularly. I've made a few lame attempts the last several Januarys, but have always waned quickly. This year, though, feels different. In many ways, this year feels like my tipping point, and I am eager to process things in writing. 

And what better journal to field my thoughts than this favorite PaperBlanks journal?

It has seen me through several failed attempts at journaling, and I am determined that it will finally get the consistent attention it deserves. Its binding is open, with several tidy folds of paper stitched in such a way that the pages lie perfectly flat without any effort on my part. The paper is creamy, and thick enough that ink does not bleed through. There is even a pocket in back to hold any ephemera I collect throughout the year. 

Yes, this journal and I will spend some quality time together this year. And I am certain that I, my marriage, my kids, and my relationship with God will all be the better for it.