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

 

instantanés de la vie

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another week has flown by. i don’t want to say “breezed by” because last week wasn’t exactly an easy-breezy walk in the park. it was busy. full. all the thoughts – plans – ideas – decisions. and then there was elinor. elinor was a piece of work last week. she was emotional and tough. disobedient. testing limits. disrespectful. trying my patience at every turn. full of attitude and defiance. i lost track of all the NOs that i spoke. and i lost track of all the prayers i prayed. for patience. for mercy and grace. for discernment. this parenting gig is the most taxing and most rewarding thing. God uses the kids (in good and bad) to teach and refine me. truly, He is disciplining me right alongside my discipline of them. it’s good for me. so good. but man, sometimes it just zaps my brain. last week was a brain-zapper. elinor’s antics on top of the hustle of the week really added up. ben and i were down for the count come friday.

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see that face? so delightful and expressive and sassy. she’s so darn smart. and curious. and determined. and crafty. but goodness gracious, she’s adorable. that button nose and sprightly curls and smirk. praise God for the sweetness and beauty that he created in her to balance out her spice.

and remind me to share a humdinger of a story with you sometime soon. ben happens to think that it was my finest parenting moment yet. and i am sure it will live on in infamy…

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so yeah, the week was kind of nuts at times, but the week was also FILLED with wonderful moments. meals with friends and family. playtime at home. conversation and libations and jazz after the kids were asleep. cooking together. juicing together. sipping tea. morning miles. dance parties with elinor. hearty hugs and slobbery kisses from ridley. READING!!!

you guys, i have two books that i am in the middle of right now and it’s awesome. one fiction thriller and one business/change leadership theory book) it has been far two long since i have been engrossed in my reads like this and actually carved out downtime to read them. i am the worst at that. constantly starting books and then shelving them for months and months. i guess the days just get away from me. and usually by late in the day, if i pick up a book before bed instead of keeping my brain engaged in conversation, i nod off. but not this summer. i am a reading machine! and i am realizing how much i have missed it for the past months/years.

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but praise God for the weekend. for slow saturdays. productive and reenergizing. and for sabbath. around here, sundays are for long runs, couples yoga, simple pleasures, worship, the arts and leisure section of the NYT, frothy coffee, bread baking, jazz on vinyl, and hearty meals with kith and kin. aaaaaahhhhhh… this sunday was perfect. just what we needed to close the week and start anew.

i am excited to have monday. to have a fresh start. i am hoping to make the most of this new week. to be present. and maybe redirect a few of the NOs that i have been speaking toward some of the time-wasters in my life that are cluttering things or not bringing joy or distracting me from the things that truly matter. i love being productive and engaged but being busy and “hustling” is stupid. and gosh to we sensationalize that stuff, don’t we? and i am over it. rest is the new hustle.

this week, i am getting back to basics. i am going to let myself be spoiled by my savior. i am going to be still and know that He is God. i am going to walk by the quiet waters. i am going to find rest and satisfaction in Him, knowing that i am is child and that is enough. that is everything.

here’s to enjoying heavenly pleasures! happy monday!

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.

the little ones, lately.

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we have two VERY BIG little lives on our hands. what a fun and ridiculous phase this is (i know – eye roll – i say that about every phase). we are in the final round of preschool decisions for elinor. we are moving out of the baby phase and into toddlerhood with ridley.

i feel like the last week has been one of rapid growth. elinor had a crazy growth spurt. ridley has new teeth coming in and has experienced a developmental burst. quite literally, there are brand new things, every single day. it is amazing to watch. things change so quickly. their brains take in so much and process at such a speedy rate. they exhibit new talents and skills and points of knowledge all the time. i can’t get over it.

and then there’s the adorable relationship that continues to build between these two. they are such buds. i love watching them interact and figure things out. the rules of play. the personalities. the differences. the similarities. elinor is watchful and helpful and playful. and ridley gives the biggest hugs and makes LOUD sounds to declare his intentions and preferences and make his wishes known. they are good for each other. and the tender kisses and strong hugs keep coming.

no hitting or hair pulling or pinching as of yet…

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ridley is talking up a storm: ball, papa, mama, doggie, cat, woah, book, wah-iz-it, uh-oh, et cetera. he responds when we talk with some words and some copycat sounds and lots of expressions. he points. he turns pages in books. he makes grrrrr and vroom sounds with his toys. he identifies things. he has such a charming smile and the looooongest lashes. he nods yes when we ask if he’s finished eating or ready for bed. when i correct him, he shakes his head no while looking at the floor. he picks up papers and magazines and books and mock-reads in the cutest tones. he is dextrous and strong. he is also super dramatic and persnickety. he loves to play games and give high-fives. he stands on his own and when not prompted, will try for unassisted steps. he is strong-willed, that’s for sure. but also so kind and sensitive. he loves bopping to music. he is mesmerized by papa’s violin playing. he thrives with routine and is SUCH a homebody. and gosh, i love that about my kids. i love that they feel most comfortable and happy and secure at home. i love that they let out a happy sigh anytime we walk through the door. they like their own space, their familiar surroundings – the sights and smells and sounds – their things, their bed, their haven. and that is as it should be, i think.

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our darling elinor. three-and-a-half. what a strange and fantastic age of limbo and dichotomy. she is baby and grown up, in one body. she has wispy baby curls framing her more slender face that is rapidly losing its baby-like features. she wants to be autonomous and she wants to snuggle up on my lap with her prized blanket. she loves independent play but also wants to help everyone with everything. she tells her brother how to obey even though she hasn’t exactly mastered that for herself. she is often a walking contradiction. but gosh, is it something to watch her navigate life.

she does most things for herself now. and she always tries to help her brother with his needs too. she prayers THE CUTEST prayers. she talks to God about her heart and her hopes and plans…and always asks for “a clean heart and self-on-trol”. lately, she has been excitedly talking to God about her school and all the things she is going to learn and do.

she remembers facts and names and places. she cares for her babies like they are truly her own. she has a vivid and active imagination that i pray she holds onto for life. she knows how to make a mess – and fast. but she also takes such pride when she cleans up and sorts all her things correctly. she is my little helper. laundry, dusting, sweeping, cooking…if there is a domestic task to be done, she is there (with her trusty stepstool in tow). and she is incredibly capable. she pays attention to context and purpose and procedure. she is SO aware and absorbs every darn thing. and remembers the tiniest details from years ago.

she sings jesus loves me in perfect tune and has killer interpretive dance moves. she is joy personified. cheerful and bubbly and silly. with the best comedic timing and such wit. she’s a blast. and she challenges me and teaches me DAILY.

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from mother’s day

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yesterday was such a full and fulfilling day. actually, it mirrored my life as a mother pretty well. a fitting way to celebrate.

i suppose the party started on saturday. we spent the morning at the market so that i could grab some mama’s cold brew and ALL THE FOOD from the uprooted kitchen. the weather was glorious and we wanted to savor it. it truly felt like such a treat. cooler temperatures and clouds and a nice breeze always feel like a treat in may – in arizona.

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as for the real-deal mday, i told ben that i would like to get in a solid run and a yoga sesh to start the day. and definitely, some leisurely coffee sipping time and some tasty food. i didn’t have grand plans and warm-and-fuzzy expectations. truly, i just wanted no frills, no fuss, no pressure. just doing some of my favorite enjoyable things with people i love. so this year, that meant a pre-church breakfast stop for muffins and cookies and the best acai bowl in town. we thought about a fancy-schmany brunch but that is only fully enjoyed while sipping mimosas…sans little ones. brunch really needs to be a long and leisurely thing. with bubbly. and decadent foods. and all the spots we had in mind didn’t exactly scream “yes! bring your young children here! let the baby squish food everywhere!”

overall, we are pretty darn good at eating out with elinor and ridley. both of them can spend a decent chunk of time at the table as long as the food keeps coming. and elinor is at a nice age for dining out. but ridley isn’t in a super clean stage of eating. and when he is done, he is ready to be scrubbed off and move on. so, not ideal for a champagne brunch. and if i really give him solid attention and put him on my lap while he eats, i can contain a lot of the schmutz. but, the whole “it’s mother’s day! it’s YOUR day! kick your feet up! don’t lift a finger! yada yada yada” thing seems to fly in the face of that kind of mealtime setup, right? a two hour celebratory brunch is really better as a date with just my man. but that isn’t exactly a festive way to celebrate motherhood. thanks for making me a mother, kids! to show my gratitude for this role and your lives, i am going to drop you off and celebrate myself on my own. toodles!

nope. 

and the whole breakfast in bed thing REALLY doesn’t work around here. firstly, i wake up a solid three hours before the kids. and then there is that whole eating food in bed nonsense. and when i wake ridley, it is feeding time. no shenanigans, mama. logistically, it isn’t ideal.

so, enjoying a laid-back morning around the house and then stopping for a simple breakfast (with all of my very favorite foods) seemed perfect to me. it would let the kids stick to their morning routine and wouldn’t add extra to-do’s to our morning before church. win-win.

after church, we popped by my folks’ place to spend some time with my mum. just simple moments spent in conversation and watching the children crawl and toddle and run and yell and throw and play and pounce and giggle. and then, it was off to my SIL/BIL’s house to get ridley down for his nap and get supper prepared for ben’s side of things. on the menu: ben’s killer huevos rancheros. oh, and a pile of hash browns to go with it, a la rachel schroeder. oh oh, and she made vanilla bean cake for dessert. i wish i could mainline that stuff. it was delish.

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after our bellies were sufficiently full and we had polished off the last sips of coffee, we scooped up the kids and took the party back to our home. elinor and ridley hit the sack and ben and i were able to have a nightcap alongside our quiet moments of conversation. what a sweet day. it was just right.

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i am so honored to mother these two precious lives. it is such a weighty calling. and such a tremendous blessing. motherhood has taught me about the heights and depths of love. about sacrificial living. grace. patience. endurance. kindness. it refines my character daily. hourly. it helps me to focus, to keep my eyes on Christ. to keep me on my knees. it challenges me. it expands my mind. it teaches me and changes me. it stretches me. it empties me and fills me up. praise God for this great gift.

p.s. those pics of me and my little prince just straight up kill me. it’s so strange to think that this time last year, we had yet to meet. and now, i can’t imagine life without him.

to all the mothers. to my mother. to my mother in law. to my grandmothers. to friends and family members who mother so beautifully. to the examples of motherly love, in all its forms. to the stepmothers, foster mothers, adoptive mothers, birth mothers, hopeful mothers, waiting mothers, expectant mothers. to those who carry children in their hearts. to those with children in heaven. to the fierce and strong and tender and caring women who have acted like a mother to me and to my husband and to my children. you are amazing. you are loved. you are appreciated. may you feel celebrated every day. may you know that you are doing great work, even if it feels insignificant. may you be encouraged and restored when things get tough and feel thankless. you are shaping lives. you are raising up leaders and kingdom-workers and game-changers and disciples of Christ. mothering and loving little ones is the most significant work.

so, keep striving. keep your hands open. keep your heart fertile. keep your gaze fixed. keep your thoughts on things above and on your knees in prayer. keep your spirit hopeful. and may you be equipped for every good work.

full arms. full heart.


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don’t spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.

– epicurus

this. this right here. this is so true of my life right now. i am trying to live in the moment and soak it all up. learning to enjoy what i have, right where i am. not spoiling the moment by being somewhere else or thinking about the next thing. not allowing my mind to wander too far into the future or be distracted by the things that could be or should be. not desiring to be doing something else or having something else.

instead, being mindful. being present. and being thankful for the great blessings in my life. so many things that i have hoped for and dreamed about and prayed for – they are right in front of me. i am living in it. living the good life. truly, living the dream.

and not that i can’t hope for the future or make plans and set goals and take action (after all, the life i have now has been built upon such hopes and dreams and plans and actions) but i need to appreciate my life right now. as it is. and link my present blessings to my past prayers. seeing those celestial threads. noting the work of the Providential hand. not overlooking or devaluing His great miracles and sovereign movement in my life.

He is a good, good God.

Coram Deo.