a thankful heart prepares the way for you, my God

Though our mouths were full of song as the sea,
and our tongues of exultation as the multitude of its waves,
and our lips of praise as the wide-extended firmament;
though our eyes shone with light like the sun and the moon,
and our hands were spread forth like the eagles of heaven,
and our feet were swift as hinds,
we should still be unable to thank thee and bless thy name,
O Lord our God and God of our fathers,
for one thousandth or one ten thousandth part of the bounties which thou has bestowed upon our fathers and upon us.
{Hebrew Prayer}

Today I am grateful for: truth-tellers, whistleblowers and prophets; bridge-builders, mediators, meditators and artists; the beauty of autumn; good friends with whom to toast marshmallows.
--Sister Baya Clare

Lord, you lavish us with blessing: time with family, warm homes and loving arms, good food and health, and your compassions, new every morning. thank you for your great faithfulness, grace, and love. open our eyes and turn our hearts outward and upward, that we may we cultivate thankfulness and honor you with our lips and our lives. in Jesus' name.


dress casual

we're invited to a christmas party. the invitation says "dress casual," but jim and i know that is a bold-faced lie. ok, maybe not exactly a lie so much as a glaring generational difference. the party is for jim's men's group and their wives, all members of the episcopal church to which we belong. jim is the baby of this group by probably fifteen years.

the first time we went to this party, under the impression that dress was casual, we wore our nice jeans. i wore heels and a cute shirt, and jim wore a polo. everyone else, in their forties, fifties, and beyond, many owning their own businesses, had interpreted "dress casual" to mean sport coat instead of suit. every single man there either wore a jacket or the sweater/tie combo, and the women were largely dressed in cocktail attire. jim didn't even own a sport coat, and we felt like teenagers crashing mom and dad's fancy party. perhaps not our parents' party (they aren't so fancy), but someone else's, surely. once we got over feeling ridiculously underdressed, we relaxed and enjoyed the good company and wine that flowed.

last year, dylan was just three weeks old when it was time again for the christmas party. at that point in my life, looking nice meant showered and out of pajamas, but nevertheless we suited-up. jim had bought a sport coat by then, and i wore an elegant skirt that pre-baby had fit at my hips and post-baby fit properly at my waist. this time we would look nice and appropriate. we're still the babies in a group no longer of strangers but friends. they probably wouldn't care what we wore, but we've learned our lesson: casual dress at twenty-six is a far cry from casual dress at sixty-two.

live, learn, and buy a sport coat.


happy birthday, dylan!

my baby girl is one today! she has been holding up one finger, and so we've been telling her "that's right, dylan, you're ONE!" (her finger is pretty much a modified point, but whatever:)

her grandma, grandpa, and uncle josh are coming tomorrow to celebrate this milestone together. it really is hard to believe that it has been a year. we're so thankful for our little thanksgiving baby. here are some pictures chronicling dylan's first year:

i loved those naps!

best buddies

she looks like such a tiny doll!

getting stronger, learning to play

lovin' her sling

babe in a hat

this is dylan at seven months, the first day she said "mamma"


out for a ride

dylan's second trip to nyc with aunt b

animal ears = awesome

first snow (there is more covering the ground today, but our neighbors were eager to get their sled on;)

at one, dylan says mama, daddy, baby, puppy, hi, bye, no, and "ducky." she can sign "all done" and repeats other words sometimes. she doesn't yet walk but is very active, mobile, and curious! dylan loves people and waves enthusiastically at everyone. (because of this, the grocery store might just be her favorite place) dylan is a happy, friendly baby who so far has no stranger anxiety. even though dylan can be fussy at home and fight us over sleep, it is such a blessing that she is almost always good when we are out. she loves to play games with daddy, knock anything over, and read books about animals. this morning in the car, green day was on the radio, and i looked in my mirrow and dylan was bouncing and waving her arms to the music.

dylan appears to be over her food issues, praise God! she had another vomiting episode a few weeks ago, but it was the only time in two months. i think she associates spoon-fed foods with sickness, so i can't get her to eat applesauce, oatmeal or anything pureed, but she is becoming more adept and adventurous in the self-feeding department. dylan will happily eat most anything as long as she is in charge:) i'm so thankful we made it to a year with nursing, especially since she had so many eating hurdles. we go to her doctor on monday and hopefully we'll learn that she's gained some good weight since last visit.

dylan elizabeth, you are an incredible gift and blessing, and we thank God for you, sweet baby girl.


baby-safe and clutter-free

when dylan started standing and playing at our glass-topped coffee table, visions of accidents and shattered glass made me eager for a "new" piece of furniture. we didn't have the money or desire for something brand-new, so we were thrilled to find a beautiful cedar chest on clearance at an antique store. it makes a perfect coffee table:the magazine baskets that fit under our old table are now hidden inside and out of the reach of little hands. we replaced a potential hazard, saved a bundle, and gave a lovely old piece a new home.

this post is part of "thrifty green thursdays" over at
green baby guide.


social butterfly

typical weekends during this installment of our post-baby, small town life are not, shall we say, thrilling. we've pretty much traded late nights for low-key family time. jim usually works saturdays, and apart from church, our weekends aren't all that different from the rest of the week. we like curling up with a dvd or book, but there is definitely something to be said for going out and time with friends.

this weekend, amazingly, i had actual plans both nights. friday i went to an event with MOPS (mothers of pre-schoolers), and afterward a group of us got a drink together. jim and i have only been out once since dylan was born, and i haven't really had a girls' night in about a million years, so as silly as it sounds, it felt a little momentous! MOPS is at a church in another town, and i've just recently starting going. last night i finally felt like i was starting to connect with people.

then tonight we had dinner again with the two couples we spent halloween with, and it was really fun. among us we had six kids ages four and under, and dylan loved crawling around with the big girls. it was such a great evening.

i feel really thankful for new friends and opportunities to connect. i'm thankful that dylan slept at night for periods longer than three hours twice this week. (little victories!) i'm thankful that today dylan ate carrots, pasta, and cheese like a champ. i'm thankful that jim got off work early, and we were able to just be, without errands or check lists. it was a good day.


gentle on the earth, skin, wallet: jojoba oil as natural facial moisturizer

i started using jojoba oil as a facial moisturizer a few months ago, and i love it. i love that it is a single ingredient, all-natural, plant-derived oil and contains no harsh or toxic chemicals, preservatives, petroleum, or un-pronouncables. i love that it isn't greasy--really! the key is to use a modest amount; just two drops absorb completely and keep my skin soft without shine. i have blemish-prone skin, and while using oil may seem counter-intuitive, it has not caused breakouts at all. if anything, my skin is clearer since making the switch.

jojoba oil is a good buy since a little goes such a long way. i bought mine online for $9.99 but since noticed trader joes carries it for $6.99. these prices are comparable to the drugstore moisturizer i used for years, but since i use a drop at a time, my four ounce bottle will last much longer. jojoba oil is so gentle i use it on my baby's sensitive skin and as an eye makeup remover without worrying about it burning my eyes. it is also supposed to be good for a dry scalp and any dry skin--a bonus during this season of skin-drying indoor heat.

this post is part of thrifty green thursday over at green baby guide. you can find more tips there:)


first halloween

we celebrated halloween last weekend with friends from church, their two little girls, and another family we met there. even though we've lived here for more than three years, we still know few people near our age or with kids, so it was especially nice to have a glass of wine and enjoy the kids playing together.

the older ones went trick-or-treating, and we stayed back with dylan, who waved enthusiastically to the costumed masses. she was a little dragon (dinosaur?), but i forgot my camera and didn't take any pictures until this week. then we had all sorts of computer problems, but i think they are finally resolved, so here is dylan in her costume and jack-o-lantern shirt from grandma:


Let America Be America Again

by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

a new day

dylan in her red, white and blue

see more wordless wednesday offerings here, here, and here


the state of things

life around here has been crazy-like over the past few days with work, halloween, lots of baking for church, making election calls, a trip to pittsburgh to meet an old friend and a stop in at the national youth workers' convention. plus, we've been battling a two-front war with dylan (never a good idea!) involving eating and sleeping. not such a fan of the food, that one. what she is a fan of is waking every 2 1/2 - 3 hours all night long crying and demanding to nurse. also skipping naps. booooo. she used to sleep through the night, in those halcyon days before camp and vomiting broke the good thing we had going.

dylan also used to eat anything, but for the love of all things holy, she now refuses pears, bananas, applesauce, and most whole foods. i did get her to feed herself pasta and potatoes, which i claimed as a little victory until i started worrying about her becoming one of those white bread kids who eat only hot dog buns and buttered noodles. (i know, i get extra-judgey without sleep!)

the bright spot today was a great hike around camp with sydney and dylan in the backpack, and we got a few good shots to boot:

dylan assuaged some of my fears by eating a few bites of wheat toast, and she actually gobbled sharp cheddar, proving that she is definitely our child. please pray that we can get dylan to eat fruit, veggies, and actual meals so we can take this nighttime waking/crying/nursing thing and "cut it in the butt," as our friend is known to say unintentionally;)
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