salty and sweet

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life with this little lady has been a mix of salty and sweet.

i love how big and bold she is. she’s bursting with personality. she is smart and capable and determined. such a strong will. and boy, can she argue her point.

one moment, she will be well-mannered, reasoned, reasonable. the next, bossy britches and emotional and a wailing protesting heap of ridiculousness. i suppose that is the frustration of being three going on fourteen…or in her case, three going on forty. she surprises me every day with intelligence beyond her years. kindness and compassion and care. she can be exceedingly responsible. she takes care of things and loves to help. she is highly attuned to her surroundings. she notices the emotions of others. she is empathic like crazy. she can even bring her own emotions under control when reminded that she is spiraling. she is a little old lady trapped in a petite almost-four-year-old frame. and while i love that she wants to help and plan and organize and control and take-charge and have things in proper order, the battle between mature and immature – capable adult tendencies and silly irrational preschooler – tyrant and tiny little lady overwhelms her daily.

she runs herself ragged trying to keep up with her own mind. trying to manage her desires and tendencies and preferences. trying to keep herself controlled in the face of frustration. trying to balance the playfulness of childhood with her constant desire to mimic mama and papa and be the adult. we fight this battle constantly. she is such an old soul and wants to be in charge. she is capable and responsible. she has strong opinions. she has a quick mind. and can even have a tremendously thoughtful spirit. but there are numerous times in any given day when all these elements converge and cause a big mess. she tries to do it all. and sometimes, it doesn’t work out as she planned. OR her will is in direct opposition of the authorities in her life. trouble.

it isn’t always hideous defiance, sometimes she is truly trying to help…it’s just that her helpfulness isn’t exactly helpful in that particular moment. or she gets wound up and tries to control things and fix things and causes a bigger mess for herself. or she is trying to entertain the room and takes it a tad too far. or she cracks a fantastic joke that is beyond her years and while it is hilarious, it isn’t appropriate.

God has given us such a gift in elinor. and He has also given us a tremendous challenge in the stewardship of that gift. every single day, we remind her that the spirit of the flesh is alive and well in her…and that in spite of her great ability, sheer force of will alone cannot save her from her own nature. we point her to Christ. we remind her that her acts of love bring delight to God and that her obedience honors her parents. we remind her that when she is feeling stuck or upset or disappointed or angry, she needs to stop and pray – that it is not just okay to ask for help, it is a necessity. we acknowledge her desire to do what is right and ask for forgiveness when she has offended. we pray sweet prayers together. we remind her of the destructive power of sin. we remind her that she is fearfully and wonderfully made. we remind her that she is loved. always. we talk about all the amazing ways that we see Jesus in her – and all the ways that He will continue His work in her life. we encourage her acts of generosity. we praise her spirit of service. we talk about all the ways that God will use her life in bold ways. we talk about the struggle of the heart and flesh and mind and spirit. we point her to Christ again. we do the tough work of molding and shaping and pruning and refining and disciplining and instructing. she is learning so much and growing so much. and so are we.

God, equip us to do this great work of parenting. may we not be faint of heart. may we show grace and patience and mercy and strength. may we be tender and fierce. may we be soft and bold. help us to persevere and enjoy every sweet moment along the way.

CORAM DEO

 

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elinor goes to preschool

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A  L  L  T  H  E  F  E  E  L  I  N  G  S

elinor officially started preschool this week.

she proudly packed her backpack and got dressed in her matching clothes and requested a sassy topknot for the occasion. she ate her breakfast and excitedly hopped around the house as i collected all her school things (and myself) before we hopped in the car and made our way to her preschool.

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oh my goodness, she has been giddy for weeks. and on wednesday, the illusive thing called preschool became a reality. it seems like we have been talking about it for ages. the research and planning and visiting and talking…the praying. it seems like such a weighty choice. and praise God that He orchestrated everything to perfection. elinor is exactly where she needs to be and wants to be. this is going to be such a good thing for her. a splendid start to her formal education. an ideal mix of play and structure. traditional meets montessori. learning in a warm and loving and christian environment.  it is truly just right. God is good.

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my sentiments exactly, miss elinor

she is overjoyed. she is ready. all of us are ready. i am looking forward to seeing her learn and grow and blossom where she is planted. may she be fruitful. may she bring joy and light wherever she goes. may she be sharpened by others and instructed. may her mind swell with new concepts. may she be reminded of God’s creativity and majesty and love. may she expand her vision of the world and soak it all in. may she be pointed to Christ in fresh ways.

is time for the arrow to leave the quiver. may she fly true. Soli Deo Gloria.

sous | smile | sabbath

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my little sous chef. she is all about helping me in the kitchen. and i definitely want to encourage this. she has always been a little foodie and so eager to hang out wherever food is nearby, but her interest in learning more and really getting in there has blossomed in the past month or so. she wants to know exactly what is on the menu for the day. she wants ingredient lists and preparation methods. she asks such interesting and insightful questions. she wants to know ALL ABOUT IT.

so often, i rush through things. especially dinner prep. when dinnertime rolls around, i am usually on a mission. the kids wake from their nap at 4pm which is roughly when ben gets home. i nurse ridley and the kids enjoy le goûter and play while i prep dinner. it is our unwind time. we recap the day. the kids pounce on papa. it is noisy and playful.

i like to get dinner on the table on the earlier side of things since we are early bedtimers and early risers and we are old folks like that. and i admit that my dinner prep time can often be all about my getting things done. i move around quickly and move things along. i can have tunnel vision and distractions tend to annoy me. BUT i am working on engaging with elinor during this time. instead of having her watch from the sidelines, i have been inviting her to pull up a stool and put on her apron and get in there. and while it might add a few minutes and A MILLION MORE QUESTIONS to the process, it is such fun. i love this time with her. she is genuinely interested in what goes into meal preparation and genuinely wants to be a helper. she helps with mise en place and stirring and pouring and measuring. she collects bits of food and adds them to the pan. and she is quickly absorbing all the kitchen etiquette (and safety…she loves to wear the “giant gloves for hot things”). it’s the very best.

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this smily boy. he has such a pleasant and cheerful demeanor. and he is especially happy when his papa gets home. the moment he sees ben enter the house or the room, he bounces and bops and squeals and lets out a joyful puhPAAAAAH sound. and if he isn’t busy eating, he will make a beeline for ben. head down and crawling as fast as he can until he reaches ben’s feet. then he will sit up on his knees and pat ben’s feet and bounce up and down while raising his arms up with an eager uuuuuuhhhh (up) sound.

and when he is with papa, it is smile-city. he messes with his beard and pats his chest and lovingly swats at his nose. and nuzzles. i love watching them together. they goof around and play and babble. they play catch. they horseplay. rough and tumble but also super sweet. this father-son business is all sorts of heart-melting.

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a scene from sabbath. we cuddled up with the book of common prayer for some family reading time. and while ben was reading the psalms, elinor reached out and grabbed both of our hands so we could “hold hands a-gether”. she remained this way for a good five minutes until folding her hands during prayer. what a precious time. this is the stuff. watching as her heart becomes tender toward the things of the faith. listening as she slowly sings “jesus loves me”. hearing her honest prayers – sharing her heart with God. observing her connecting the dots and beginning to understand the eternal meaning of things. learning verses. making choices. praying for self control and a clean heart. asking for forgiveness.

it is…indescribable. parenting these lives, raising them up, pointing them toward christ, sharpening these arrows of mine. what a TREMENDOUS honor and blessing and calling. Soli Deo Gloria.

oh, snap!

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we are having a bunch of “behind the scenes” fun over on snapchat. if you are playing in that sandbox, i would love to be buds. and if you haven’t taken the plunge, you totally should. it’s a little less curated and a whole lot more le quotidien, if you will. you can add me by username (madameswanky) or just screenshot that image up top and add a friend by snapcode. super cool and super easy.

don’t expect anything too inventive or outlandish or consistent. when i do snap, it’s mostly cute captures of the little ones and food and occasional #randomrachel moments. i am no pro (seriously, though…there are some amazing snapchat artists and creative folks using the platform with such panache!) but it is a fun place to play and i am all for some of that. aaaand i would love to hear any recommendations for “must follow” accounts. it’s fun to see the crazy things that people come up with… and you know that anyone who shows a lot of tasty food will make my list.

but for anyone that is like, “um, no thanks…no snap for moi” then i thought i would share just a few of my favorite recent snaps. snapchat 101: the platform lets you take images or quick videos and either share them directly with friends or you can share them with all the people who follow you and build out more of a story. you can add filters (or, funny faces as elinor calls it) and captions and emojis. you can color and create your own wording and art. like i said, it’s pretty much about fun and play.

so, enjoy! and happy friday! xo.