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

Maybe Christmas, Perhaps, Doesn’t Come From A Store…

but given the number of Amazon boxes kicking around my basement, apparently I tried to ensure its delivery via 2-day Prime shipping???

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I’m always a bit sad at this time of year. I spend 8 months looking forward to it and 3 months planning it, and the 1 measly month left over in which to live it doesn’t seem like it lasts nearly long enough! This is, I’m sure, in sharp contrast to the many others who are finally breathing giant sighs of relief that they can put this all behind them, so I’m a little bit happy for your sake. But mostly sad that magic and belief and twinkly lights will all be coming down in the next few weeks.

Goal-setting and fresh starts are fun, too, but I want to revel in the season a little bit longer. So I’m soaking up some of the pictures I managed to remember to take amidst the chaos.

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I had this grand, Pinterest-inspired idea to get black wrapping paper and doodle the nametags directly on the packages. Loved eliminating the need for bows and tags. I actually like doodling, too. Doodling on that many packages? Um, a ton of work! I don’t see me repeating this as a wrapping scheme anytime soon!  They did make pretty packages, though!

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We did my family’s Christmas on the 23rd so it would mesh well with my sister and brother-in-law’s travel schedule.  My nephew loves babies, and we got him the cutest doll themed for boys. It’s a superhero and comes with superhero accessories for the child, too. Seriously cute!

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Minecraft gear…much coveted by the tween!

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You guys, I kind of want a dog. Specifically, their dog if I can figure out a way to steal it. But I’m thinking that’s probably not going to happen…He’s just so cozy!  This is a bad idea on so many levels…

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I mean, if this isn’t the cutest!!!

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My family loves puzzles! Which seems lame to type out, but it’s one of my favorite things – you can have the best conversations, laughter, and snacks over a good puzzle!

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Gabe had quite a haul of Legos. He does love them! But at 11, I wonder how much longer this will last. I’ll be sad to see it go. On the other hand, he does want to be a Lego engineer, so maybe it’ll never end?

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This might be my favorite picture of the day, and Tahd might kill me for posting it, but he was demonstrating his Chandler Bing engagement photo smile. Spot on!

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Then… ’twas the night before and I obsessively stalked Santa on NORAD’s Santa tracker; probably more obsessively than the kids…

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Want to know a bad plan? Taking a toddler and a talking Woody into a Christmas Eve service…

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Christmas Eve involved sleeping in front of the Christmas tree. We tried with Jude, but he wasn’t ready for the unconstrained life of a sleeping bag. Isla did pretty well, but I’m quite sure Gabe was up most of the night from 1:30 on. Which makes it very hard for Santa to deliver his presents…I think Tahd and I collectively slept 5 hours that night?

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But it was worth it in the morning! 🙂

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The rest of the day was spent with playing and cuddles and tasty food, and I took hardly any pictures and just relaxed. Delightful!

I hope your Christmas was merry and your New Year full of hope and fresh energy!

What I’m Thinking About Right Now

get ready…there is no rhyme nor reason to this…

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|| grown-up coloring books. i don’t get this thing. there’s a whole cottage industry of this stuff. which means there are enough people with enough spare time to support this industry. WHERE ARE THESE PEOPLE WHO HAVE THIS MUCH SPARE TIME? and will you please come help me do my laundry instead?

|| i went to target today in a t-shirt. it’s december. in wisconsin. i love this so hard.

|| do you leave reviews on amazon? sometimes i do, but usually i don’t. but i almost always read them thoroughly before purchasing. maybe i should be doing this.

|| macaroni & cheese at midnight.  yyuuummmmm!

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|| today, one son barked at people and the other son counted to 9. i’ll let you guess which was which…

|| there are TEN DAYS until christmas. so i have to wrap an average of approximately 280 presents each day…

|| side note: maybe i should stop wrapping stocking stuffers…

|| i made almond roca this weekend. i used to try every year, but since each pan takes a stick of butter, a cup of sugar, a bunch of almonds, and–most notably–six chocolate bars, it’s not exactly a cheap recipe to screw up. which i did. multiple times every year. so i quit making it. until this year because tahd wanted it. and it totally turned out! and between the two of us, we ate the whole pan in 24 hours!  do you know how many calories are in that? i don’t think i want to figure it out…

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|| jude has screamed so much the last few days that…well…i don’t know what. but i’m losing my mind. this afternoon, he screamed, “HOLDME!HOLDME!HOLDME!HOLDMEEEEEEEEE!!!!” basically the whole time we were in the car picking up gabe. it was delightful.  sorry, dude. seatbelt laws and such.

|| side note: my mom thinks this “hold me” plea is adorable. i think maybe she should do the school pickup for a while and i’ll work at her dental office and she can reassess later.

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|| “it’s probably a bone bruise,” they said. “those take a long time to heal,” they said.  at the beginning of 2013, i fell down the stairs and basically rode several on my elbow. it hurt like h3!! and looked even worse. i didn’t go to the doctor, but i think i maybe should have. i just tried to rest my elbow on my knee and it totally still hurts. that’s not normal, right? we’re working on 3 years.

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|| i’m in love with my living room christmas decorations this year. like, swooning. i’m still not in love with real trees, though. needles. ugh. someday i’ll even take real pictures!

|| i’m nearly done with my christmas shopping – just a few more things to order. and i’m maybe 1/3 wrapped? probably more like 2/3 if i don’t count those darn stocking stuffers.

|| speaking (again) of stocking stuffers, tahd and i decided to do used books for each other for stocking stuffers. did you know you can get books for a penny on amazon? bless them…i’d rather have a stocking full of books than a stocking full of candy and tiny-and-basically-useless-crap. which is basically what the kids will be getting. which probably won’t help with the screaming thing, will it?

|| i’m so dying to try bullet journaling. but i’m not sure how to get started. starting makes me a little panicky. has anyone done this? do you give tutorials? it looks so perfect and organized and pretty and, maybe most importantly, like the way my brain works.

|| that’s all. to bed with me.

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