The West Wing and Other Bits

Whirling. That’s what I feel like – whirling with things to do and ideas (and laundry…), but I can’t figure out how to fit it all in. Anyone relate?  It’s not a bad feeling, per se. I like the energy and creativity that come with ideas, but I start feeling a little stuck after a while and start watching copious amounts of Netflix.

In fairness, I have to say that we haven’t had Netflix for years, and they have The West Wing. Before Jude was born, Tahd and I were working on a slow-but-sure WW marathon. We’d made it all the way to season 7 (the final season) when I developed preeclampsia and then went on to have him early. And then there was all his screaming and such…Fun memories…

Anyway, by the time we got back around to watching it (we were watching it on Amazon Prime at the time), THEY HAD REMOVED IT!!! I was beside myself! My friends…Josh! Donna! CJ! The President!!! It was a truly depressing time in my life. I’m sure the fact that my baby screamed nonstop and my husband was traveling excessively had little to do with it. I’m sure it was all West Wing Withdrawal, right?  Which, you know, is totally a thing.

Well, we recently cut the cable cord and then picked up Netflix, and I was almost giddy to find they had it. It’s what I’ve been doing in every spare minute, which is a sight exaggeration because I have accomplished a few other things in my life, but it felt like coming home and made me so happy.  Alas, we tore through the 22 episodes from the last season in short time, and I’m once again going through West Wing Withdrawal, except this time, THERE IS NO HOPE. Last time, at least I could look forward to the day when I could finally finish the series, or I could dream up plans to make the wise, wise investment in West Wing dvds so I could finally see how it ended. But this time?

NO HOPE! They are not coming back! It is over, and I try not to cry every day.

Not really. But I am sad about it, sad like I was when Friends and The Office ended.  Pam! Jim! Ross! Rachel!!! Ack!

Hm…I did not intend this to be a depressingly pitiful account of my unhealthy ability to relate to and personalize television characters…

In other news, I’ve been thinking. This writing-on-two-sites thing? I can’t do it! I can’t keep up, and when I feel behind on one thing I get paralyzed and avoid both things, thereby preventing me from writing at all! It’s a bad plan. I haven’t yet decided how to rectify this situation, but I’m considering options. Because the not-writing thing has been a real bummer.

In the meantime while I try to figure things out, here are a few pictures from our daily-life adventures…

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Me and my love, sans kids, at a wedding.  I love this picture of us. We don’t have many!

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I want to make this! It’s a display of wisteria at our local Anthropologie. The purple flowers are made out of balloons! It’s crazy brilliant and very striking!

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He found a LeapFrog toy phone. I wondered where he was and found him like this, so I snuck a picture.

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Mother’s Day morning (well – Mother’s Day redo morning…we celebrated a week late due to other commitments on the actual weekend) with my boys. They gave me a delicious breakfast feast of fruit, juice and champagne in bed. It was so sweet! Isla was around, too, but I don’t seem to have a picture with her in it.

That’s all for now!

Here and Now

I wrote on my other site about having dug through my blog archives over here a week ago in search of a picture and how nostalgic and happy it made me to fall down the rabbit hole of memories and photos. Especially some of the early stuff with Gabe. I’d forgotten so much of it! Like many mom bloggers, saving those memories is why I started blogging in the first place, and I’m so glad I did it…back then…but not so much lately, and that makes me sad!  I want to remember Isla and Jude’s stories just as much as I want to remember Gabe’s. And the fact that I’m older now…well, let’s just say that my memory’s already poorer, and I hardly remember what I ate for lunch, let alone the cute (or not-so-cute) things they did last week or last month or last year. <sigh>

But I’m here now, and that’s something. So I’ll just write about the here and now and save this much for posterity’s sake.

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reading || this book! I really, really love it! I read Leanna Tankersley’s second book, Breathing Room, last year, and it was quite possibly my favorite read of the year. I was super excited for her newest book, Brazen: The Courage to Find the You That’s Been Hiding, to release because it sounded like the theme would really resonate with me. And it did! Some of my favorite quotes…

…our issues are not the same thing as our identity. (29)

Your soul, your Created Center, is where all of you and all of God dwells.

Life doesn’t demand our present. It asks…Our life is right here waiting for us to notice it. (59)

We hold our current reality in one hand and our longings in the other hand, and we ask God to show us how we can honor both. (61)

When shame is my lens, my eyes are unreliable. (67)

“Your calling isn’t an experiment. It’s not a ‘well, we’ll see how it goes.’ It’s an imprint I put on you, a way I have created you, the channel to your soul, the beauty I want to share with the world through you. Because of all that, it’s also very vulnerable.” (107)

 

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listening || to Jordan Smith’s new album. I am quite likely an old lady when it comes to my taste in music, but I don’t even care. I love this album!

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We’ve also come pretty close to deciding for sure (as much as I decide anything for sure) that we’re going to homeschool our little two. I’d like to get them started with some Montessori-ish and/or Waldorfish experiences, and I’m obsessing over this children’s album.

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eating || I mean, it was just Easter season. Is there any question as to what I’m eating? I am trying to pace myself, though. The first bag I bought went awfully quickly…I’m consuming them at a much more reasonable pace lately!

trying || to figure out a way to streamline my online and offline writing and photograph-taking and other general enjoyable hobbies so I can actually do them rather than just think about doing them.

loving || my bullet journal. I started it at the beginning of this year an wondered if I’d really keep up with it. BUT I LOVE IT. It is just the right blend of structure and creativity for me. I’m still working out some kinks, but it is my favorite approach to life planning I’ve ever tried.

starting || to run again. It is so, so hard, and I always wish I were faster and had more endurance. Maybe someday, I will. But for now, it just feels good, even at under 5mph…for a mere 20 minutes…with me sweating like a hog.

wearing || a braid, almost every day. How did I not know about this before now? I thought braids were totally kiddish. Then I saw this and this and thought, “Self, your hair is pretty long. You could probably do this.” So I tried, and it is so, so lovely! I don’t even really have to straighten my curly hair – just tightly braid it while it’s wet and let it air dry. Once it’s dry, I can mess it up/puff it up/experiment, and I can easily get two or three days out of it between washings.

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watching || we canceled our cable, and I’m sad. It’s honestly not so much the regular tv shows I’m missing, but CNN. I miss CNN so much! I love politics; election returns are like candy to me. I think I’ll miss the live holiday specials around Christmas time as well as the awards shows in award season. But the price was just going up and up and we were just watching more and more, so hopefully this will be a good reset for us. Our equipment was so old the company told us we shouldn’t return it, and it strangely still gets a few stations (QVC for one…) as well as kept all our previously dvr’d shows, so that makes me happy.  And The Great British Bake Off is on Amazon. You should definitely check that one out!

Good grief. Such a first-world problem!

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laughing || at Jude’s sense of humor. He is a truly hilarious child, like a grumpy old man and a cheerful, mischievous elf all mixed together.  It’s as much the voice and intonation as anything, but he’s especially funny because he knows he’s entertaining us and gets quite coy and clever about his lines. For instance, when we got home from school pickup one day and I was getting the little kids out of the car, I told them both I’d need a ticket before I unbuckled them. Then, I promptly puckered up and told them the “ticket” was a kiss. He looked at me with an impish side-eye and said, “Nope! I rip it up!” It’s tomfoolery (or screaming) all the time with that one!

What have you been up to lately?

That Moment When…

That moment when you’re just barely getting over a sickness only to start getting sick again. While brushing your teeth, you wonder why until your sick 11-year-old walks into the bathroom and says, “Hey! Isn’t that my toothbrush?” lol

Yeah, so that’s what’s going on here. Everybody’s sniffling, but I’m the only one with the fever. No fair!

Thankfully I wasn’t really sick over the weekend when we went to visit my sister in Nashville. Here are a few photos from our adventures…

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The dads were all out of town at various events, so it was a fun girls’ weekend!

Can’t Even

I’ve been in such a writing funk lately, and I just can’t even.  Really.

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I’ve been trying to think of more words to say, another way to finish that sentence, but I can’t.

It’s not that I don’t have things to write about. There’s lots on my heart lately. I just don’t even have the words.  The actual words.

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Which might make you think something terrible is going on, like a death or illness or divorce.

But nothing terrible is going on.

Life is regular. Crazy, chaotic, full, but regular.

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And writing? Well, I just can’t even.

I want to write about how Jude screamed the whole way home from Nashville. (Fun…)

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Or about how Gabe played his first trumpet solo and also got a truancy letter. (Ack…in error, but ack!)

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Or about how I turned 38. (Double ack!)

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Or about my newfound love of bullet journaling. (Not about guns…)

Or about how Tahd and I have been married for 16 years. (Swoon!)

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Or about how we’re thinking of making some big changes for our family in the upcoming year. (Deep breaths)

But I just can’t even right now.

So I guess this is just a hi.

And I’d love any vibes to get me out of this non-writing funk, because the inside of my spirit is a much more settled place when I do!

Good Reads

With 40 looming large, a few years ago I created a list of 40 things I wanted to do before I turned 40. I can’t say the rest of the list is going great, but I have been ticking down one of the items – #36, which is to read 75 books. Seventy five seemed like such a reasonable goal when I had one child who was starting public school. Now…with 2 more children not yet going anywhere independently during the day, and ask me how much time there is to read??? lol

The first year of keeping track, I read a paltry 8, and the second year wasn’t much better, ringing it at only 9. Last year, however, I made a great dent in that goal, reading 23 books, and I feel pretty good about the progress I made.  I’m not entirely sure how I read so much more this past year; I made good use of times when I nursed/rocked, and several of these books were books I’d started in previous years and only had to finish. So I guess that helped. But I think mostly I’m getting better at reading a little bit here and there and letting it add up rather than waiting for extended chunks of time (which never appear) in which to lose myself in the books.

I won’t bore you with a review of all 23, but here are the cliff notes for my 6 favorites:

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Breathing Room by Leanna Tankersley || This was my favorite book of all, a total breath of fresh air for my soul. In fact, it’s on my list to read again this year. I highlighted passage after passage, read chunks to my husband, and recommended the book to several friends.  Love!

All Is Grace by Brennan Manning || This is a more intimate memoir of Brennan Manning’s life, and I’m not entirely sure why I picked up this book in the bookstore. I’ve not read anything else by him and didn’t know anything about him other than recognizing his name from somewhere. It probably was the photograph on the cover; I find it very compelling–black and white and grandfatherly and wise. I bought it because I started reading it while I was there and simply couldn’t put it down; the story was just as compelling as the cover image. It is honest and raw and a deeply interesting look at the ups and downs of a follower of Jesus. His life story reminded me of David–a man with many struggles and sins who was still called a man after God’s own heart. Highly recommend!

Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist || I just loved Shauna’s first two books, Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet. I read Cold Tangerines in 2014, so I didn’t put it in this image, but both books are worth the read. I love her writing style; I love that these books are individual essays I can pick up and put down as life allows. Her writing and imagery are rich, and I love her zest for life.  I have her third and fourth books, Bread and Wine and Savor, and am eager to get to them this year.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling || On a completely different note than the others, but o, so fun! Mindy played Kelly on one of my favorite shows, The Office, and while her character there wasn’t one of my favorites, her real life storytelling is so much fun and very down-to-earth. It was a light and happy read. I’m super eager to read her next book.

Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett || This book…I almost don’t know what to say about it. It was truly fascinating and beautifully written, but also not my favorite read because it made me angry and irritated and heartbroken all at the same time. I think the best word for this book is journey–this book takes me on a journey on which I’m glad I went.  Gritty, raw, frustrating, compelling.

The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande || I’d heard about this book from several places, all highly recommending it (and, actually, anything by this author). The author is a surgeon who writes about surgical errors and how simple checklists, broadly accepted in the airline/flight industry, could revolutionize both surgery and our lives if we apply them consistently. The book was thought-provoking and made me want to implement some changes in my life and our household.

Here’s the full list of what I read last year, but what have you read that you loved? I’d love any suggestions or recommendations for this year’s list in the comments!

  1. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  2. Breathing Room by Leanna Tankersley
  3. The Nesting Place by Myquillin Smith
  4. Scary Close by Donald Miller
  5. All Is Grace by Brennan Manning
  6. Practical Homeschooling for Real World Families by Mary Ostyn
  7. Disease Proof by David Katz
  8. The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner
  9. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  10. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
  11. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
  12. Dressing Your Truth by Carol Tuttle
  13. Make It Happen by Lara Casey
  14. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
  15. Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist
  16. Love Idol by Jennifer Lee Dukes
  17. Anchored by Kayla Aimee
  18. For The Love by Jen Hatmaker
  19. Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans
  20. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
  21. Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett
  22. Nice Girls Don’t Change the World by Lynne Hybels
  23. Fight Back With Joy by Margaret Feinberg
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