Friday

Fair Pay Now Law

I sat in traffic, incredulous and angry, as news of the Court's decision was broadcast. It was 2007, and in the case of Ledbetter vs. Goodyear, the Supreme Court upheld that a person had only 180 days from his or her hire date to allege pay discrimination. I couldn't believe that the Court was essentially protecting employers' right to discriminate in salaries, so long as they kept it under wraps for six months! In what decade and country were we living?

It's not as if salaries are printed under office name plates. It may take years to figure out that pay discrimination happening, but it does happen everyday to women and especially to mothers in the workforce. It's not just because women may take time off to raise kids or are more likely to work part-time or in a lower-wage field; studies reveal a gender pay gap exists between women and men in identical jobs with identical education and experience. The pay gap is visible even among men and women right out of college for whom family is not a factor.

But the times they are a-changin': Congress passed and on Thursday President Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, reversing the Court's 2007 decision. It is victory for women's rights and employment justice.

Find out more about the Act and other political issues affecting women, moms, and families at the advocacy organization, MomsRising.

go steelers!

jim and i were praying together on the way to church the other day. after he finished, jim said, "that was weird."

"what?"

"i just felt the need to say, 'go steelers!'"

that's actually considered an appropriate way to close just about any speech, conversation, announcement, and yes, even prayer around here--especially this time of year.

at church, our priest said he thought perhaps the alter guild had overlooked something in setting up the alter that morning, and he proceeded to drape a terrible towel over the pulpit.

steelers football is serious business.

dylan and i came home yesterday to two surprise steelers goodies, one from my sister tiffany for dylan, and another from my friend leeanne for me. we're gonna suit up in style for the superbowl!

(leeanne's accompanying note read "political slogan + mike tomlin = best. t-shirt. ever." indeed:)

of course both notes were signed "go steelers!"

i wonder if president obama will wear his steelers jersey for the big game?

what are the sports fans like where you live? will you watch the superbowl?

Thursday

ice fest

our town celebrates a little something called "ice fest" every january where they bring in sculptors who carve elaborate things out of ice that are then displayed around all around town. look how teeny tiny dylan was last year:

she looks like one of those little doll babies health classes give teens!
here are dylan and jim from this week sitting on a giant bear ice chair. (please take notice of ice-elvis in the top right corner.) how cute is jim carrying her in that baby sling?

we may not have a coffee shop that is open past five, a thai or indian restaurant (or anything really that doesn't serve either sandwiches or expensive steaks), or much of a local economy for anyone not in business for herself, but we have ice sculpture! and kettle corn. things could be worse.

Wednesday

how to unclog a drain with baking soda and vinegar


Anyone who has ever showered in standing water knows that a clogged drain is a mess and a headache. I wondered, could I ditch the toxic chemicals and still get the job done? I am happy to report that I found one simple, natural, inexpensive and effective solution that will have you dropping Drano, too, in favor of something safer for your home and our earth.

Pour 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar into the drain.

Let it foam and fizz for a few minutes, then pour a kettle of boiling water into your sink or tub.

That's it.

Sometimes you need to repeat the process a few times for a persistent clog, but it works. We've been using baking soda and vinegar on drains with good results for years.
[If your drain is clogged from hair, you're probably going to want another tool in your arsenal: a plastic drain snake, (like the Cobra Zip-It), is available at hardware stores for until three bucks. Magic, I tell you.]
It's a good idea to flush drains periodically as a preventative measure. Septic systems should never be exposed to whatever toxic sludge they put in industrial-strength drain products, but honestly, no one else should either.

We use a lot of baking soda around the house, but it can be tricky to find in bulk sometimes. We get ours at a farm/feed store.  Just don't go calling it baking soda.  It's sold there as sodium bicarbonate, and they look at you like, "Aren't you pretty?" if you ask for baking soda.

We get 50 lbs for $12.99 and use if for myriad tasks around the house--in in the laundry, scouring sinks and stoves, freshening carpets and cushions, deodorizing diaper pails, and in homemade deodorant, too.

How do you use baking soda around the house?


Shared with Your Green Resource, hosted by A Delightful HomeSortaCrunchyLive Renewed, and The Greenback Gal

Tuesday

growing up

this video is actually from around dylan's birthday, but as we just found our camera (yay!), i'm posting it now. better late than never:)

video

i was sitting in MOPS last week, and all over the room, moms were holding tiny babies who are younger than dylan was an entire year ago. has it really been that long?

at fourteen months, dylan doesn't takes more than a few walking steps at a time, but she is BUSY and still manages to cover a lot of ground. she's definitely a climber, like her daddy. jim turned his back on her for a second yesterday and she was standing on her little round chair!

jim affectionately refers to dylan as "Destructo!" since she loves pulling down and emptying everything she can find: bookshelves, cupboards, toy bins, our cd rack, the recycling...

almost every day dylan is saying something new. hi, bye, baby, mama and daddy are still her favorites, and she's added milk, all gone, all done, boy, bird, ball, duck, bag, up, down, more, please, yes, yeah, NO!, an occasional "thank you" and recently lots of "uh-oh!" the other day, she pet sydney and told her, "good girl." they are so sweet together:)

this post contains a sponsored link.

Sunday

toward a christian theology of environmental justice

Our family's modest efforts and choices to become more environmentally responsible aren't about do-goodism, tree-hugging, or liberal guilt; I passionately believe that we honor God as Creator by caring for his creation.

Sadly, Christians are not often known for "creation care." There is a rarely-articulated but widely-held belief that if the world is going to end and we're going to heaven, what does it matter how we treat the earth today? Some look at the Genesis creation narrative to justify humankind's right to do as we please to the earth, since God created Adam and Eve to rule over it (Genesis 1:26). While I believe that particular interpretation to be grossly inaccurate, I don't wish to defend that passage here. Instead, I want to examine Genesis' other creation narrative, which makes clear that the earth is not ours to use and use up but rather something entrusted to our care.

The creation story is told twice in the first two chapters in Genesis. According to scholars, the retelling of the story with different emphases and details indicates different authorship. Genesis 1 gives the priestly account, and its concerns include order and authority: God creates Adam and Eve in his image, and the verbs rada (have dominion) and kabas (subdue) are God's instructions to them in relation to the earth.

The second creation narrative, found in Genesis 2, is called the Yahwist account. In it, the man (Adam) is made from the earth (adama), which more specifically translates arable soil, capable of being cultivated. God places Adam "in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it" (Genesis 2:15).
The verb employed by the Yahwist for cultivation is not kabas, "subdue," used by the priestly writer in Genesis 1, but abad, "serve." In the Hebrew scriptures, abad is the customary term to express servitude of slave to master (Genesis 12:6), of one people to another (Exodus 5:9), and of Israel's service to God in its life and worship (Exodus 4:23)...This way of speaking of agriculture views the human as the servant, not the master, of the land. It emphasizes human dependence on, rather than dominion over, the earth. 1
From the adama God creates Adam to be a farmer whose well-being is inextricably linked to the health of his crops and and the fertility of the land. The Yahwist language reveals that the earth is not ours to exploit, but something we must carefully tend and serve in order to be obedient to God. It is fitting that the same word "serve" is used in scripture to describe the people's relationship to God and to the land, for how can we truly serve the God who made the earth if we damage it with our lifestyles and choices?

As a Christian, I believe that taking care of the earth is part of what it means to be faithful. But being green isn't simply about serving the earth: making choices to limit consumption, reduce waste, and use fewer chemicals is intimately related to the biblical mandate to "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31). Land, water, air, and plant and animal life are not the only things that bear the effects of our mistreatment of the planet. In the two-thirds world:
the onset of economic development for corporate profit brings deforestation, soil erosion, and polluted waters, which in turn leads to the disruption of local cycles of nature and the sustenance economies on which poor people depend. Sheer human misery results. 2
The people most adversely effected by environmental degradation are often the poor, women and children, and communities of color--the very "least of these" whose treatment, Jesus said, will demonstrate the authenticity (or inauthenticity) of Christian faith and salvation (Matthew 25).

Living a green life is about so much more than recycling and reusable bags.

To be green is to care where trash transfer stations and medical waste dumps are built ("Not in MY backyard!") and about the children who live nearby who suffer disproportionately from asthma and other illnesses. It is actively choosing not to obey our desire for more or better at the expense of the earth and someone else's quality of life. We honor God and the image of God in one another by acknowledging the ecological and human costs of our lifestyles and consciously choosing another path.

Linguistically speaking, the word "repentance" doesn't mean apologizing so much as turning around and actively heading in a different direction. Could God be calling Christians to repent not only of personal moral failings but the ecological and social sins of our consumerist culture?

Jesus said that the greatest commandments are to Love God and Love People (Mark 12:28-31). When we faithfully care for the earth, we do both.

To discover more about the human face of environmental degradation, look up the phrase "environmental justice" or "environmental racism."

1.Hiebert, Theodore. "The Human Vocation: Origins and Transformations in Christian Traditions." Christianity and Ecology: Seeking the Well-Being of Earth and Humans. Ed. Dieter T. Hessel and Rosemary Radford Ruether. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000. 140.
2.Johnson, Elizabeth A. "Losing and Finding Creation in the Christian Tradition."
Same book. 15-16.

Friday

walking contradiction

today, i roasted a whole chicken for the first time, and it made me feel like a bona fide grown-up.

i'm 28 years old, i'm a mom, but i still feel like a kid sometimes. i'd rather watch gossip girl than charlie rose, and i probably have more in common with the high school girls in my small group than their moms. (in the small town where i live, there just aren't a lot of women aged in-between.) i'm in a great bible study with women who are mostly in their forties and fifties, and when i showed up in my hoodie, thick-rimmed glasses, and snow booties, i definitely looked like a college kid. truthfully, i don't feel all that different today than i did back then.

what makes a person an adult? is it living on your own? a "big kid" job? marriage or parenthood? buying a house? having your financial bases covered? is it knowing how to roast a chicken and then make soup from the carcass? (my next project...) is it wearing "mom jeans"? Lord, i hope not!

the other night i watched the tv show lie to me. in one scene, the woman is eating a pudding snack, and her partner is incredulous. later, she's drinking a slushie or something, and he asks, "how OLD are you?" i've been asked that before...

it totally put me in the mood for puddin'. yesterday, i went grocery shopping, and i was feeling proud of myself because i only bought whole foods--veggies, eggs, cheese, milk, two whole chickens...and reddi wip. i almost resisted and then thought, who am i kidding, that stuff is delicious. so i came home and made chocolate pudding with marshmallows and reddi wip, and it was pretty much the best thing i've ever eaten.

i'm an adult, but i don't quite feel like a "grown-up." i like to eat healthfully, but there's always room for JELL-O.

what contradictions are you rocking? what do you think makes a person"grown"?

Thursday

the paper trail: eliminating paper towel waste

back in september our family took on a two month challenge proposed by amy over at crunchy domestic goddess to "ditch the disposables." we picked to eliminate paper towels, and four-plus months later, we haven't looked back.

it's much easier than i would have thought. we use kitchen towels, washcloths, and a few chamois for drying hands, wiping spills, and washing baby faces and high chairs. we already had a rag bag in the bathroom where stained shirts and old towels went to experience new life, and we keep those separate for "icky" tasks like cleaning the bathroom.

i toss used cloths in a hamper by the washer, and if a rag was used in the bathroom, i'll often wash it with dylan's diapers. we still have one roll of paper towels leftover from the summer, and i do pull that out occasionally for pet-related cleaning.

we haven't switched completely over to cloth napkins, since we still have a bunch of paper, but that is a goal this new year. honestly, i don't see myself giving up tissues, but i do try to use cloth wipes or burp cloths when wiping dylan's nose.

eliminating paper towels is saving us money and curbing our household waste, and it's not even that difficult a change to make.

for more thrifty green thursday offerings, head over to the green baby guide.

Tuesday

it's a beautiful day

Years ago, when these countdown bumper stickers appeared, today seemed such a long way off. They offered only a faint glimmer of hope to those so disappointed by the reelection and guarantee of another four years of war.

I am blessed to be an American and truly thankful for the freedoms we enjoy, however not often since
the immediate aftermath of 9/11 have I felt proud to be an American. But today is a new day, and we inaugurate a new president. Not just "anybody but Bush," the underwhelming rally cry of 2004's campaign, but Barack Obama, a young progressive and our nation's first African American president.

I am proud of America today. I am hopeful, emotional, and prayerful. It is a new day and a new chapter in our history. May God bless America and our new president. May America bless God by living up to her best ideals, with liberty and justice for all.

Monday

MLK and Divine Dissatisfaction

''...we have a task, and let us go out with a divine dissatisfaction. Let us be dissatisfied until America will no longer have a high blood pressure of creeds and an anemia of deeds.

Let us be dissatisfied until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of wealth and comfort from the inner city of poverty and despair shall be crushed by the battering rams of the forces of justice.

Let us be dissatisfied until those who live on the outskirts of hope are brought into the metropolis of daily security.

Let us be dissatisfied until slums are cast into the junk heaps of history, and every family will live in a decent, sanitary home.

Let us be dissatisfied until the dark yesterdays of segregated schools will be transformed into bright tomorrows of quality integrated education.

Let us be dissatisfied until integration is not seen as a problem but as an opportunity to participate in the beauty of diversity.

Let us be dissatisfied until men and women, however black they may be, will be judged on the basis of the content of their character, not on the basis of the color of their skin.

Let us be dissatisfied.

Let us be dissatisfied until every state capitol will be housed by a governor who will do justly, who will love mercy, and who will walk humbly with his God.

Let us be dissatisfied until from every city hall, justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Let us be dissatisfied until that day when the lion and the lamb shall lie down together, and every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid.

Let us be dissatisfied, and men will recognize that out of one blood God made all men to dwell upon the face of the earth.

Let us be dissatisfied until that day when nobody will shout, "White Power!" when nobody will shout, "Black Power!" but everybody will talk about God's power and human power...

...When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of now way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.

Let us realize that William Cullen Bryant is right: Truth crushed to earth will rise again. Let us go out realizing that the Bible is right: Be not deceived, God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

This is for hope for the future, and with this faith we will be able to sing in some not too distant tomorrow with a cosmic past tense, We have overcome, we have overcome, deep in my heart, I did believe we would overcome."
--Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., 8/16/67

Sunday

here we go, steelers, here we go...



...pittsburgh's going to the superbowl!

the communion of the saints

i taught sunday school again today. persistent snowfall kept many at home and landed me in the enviable position of making small talk with the lone student, a usually moppy-headed pre-teen who looked surprisingly well-groomed on this snowy day. i asked him what he did this weekend, and he said, "nothing, really...my sister straightened my hair."

of course she did.

then i let him set up the plastic bowling pins that were inexplicably present, and he went to town.

Saturday

prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective


friends, the picture above is a link to the blog of a woman named kelly who delivered her first baby last night. little harper is in critical condition and having surgery today. please pray for their family, and click on the picture if you want to read their story and updates. thank you!

Wednesday

nostalgic



jim and dylan heading home. i miss these long summer days!

find more wordless wednesday here and here.

the book dealer: how to make money on half.com

this morning i opened my email and got this felicitous message: "You've made a sale--Please ship your item."

i'm not auctioning anything on ebay; this is even easier. i posted books for sale at Half.com, and every now and then, (especially at the start of a new college semester), someone orders one and i ship it out. to post a book, all you need to do is type in the ISBN number, and the title, picture, edition, along with what it is selling for all come up automatically, and you can decide what price you will sell yours for. (if the market is flooded and other copies of my book are selling too cheaply, i'll usually elect to either keep my copy or give it away.)

i make the most money on the paperbacks i read as a religion/history major back in college. i graduated almost seven years ago, so textbooks would be obsolete, but these clearly are still being assigned. i've sold non-academic books, too.

i ship the books via Media Mail, and even the postage is reimbursed. (the shipping allowance is $2.64 for paperbacks and $3.07 for hardbacks, and you can also sell cds, dvds and games.) the money gets deposited into my bank account once a month.

making money selling books on Half.com works for me.

Tuesday

guilty pleasure

while i love a good drama (or bad teen soap), i've never been a fan of reality or game shows. survivor, dancing with the stars, american idol, deal or no deal...they just don't interest me, no matter how big the buzz.

but, i have one embarrassing exception: i love the bachelor. i love the drama and the utter ridiculousness of it all. i realize it's a colossal time-suck, but like a bad car wreck, i can't bring myself to look away.

twenty-five women come to compete to "marry" one man. over the series of groups dates, parties, and some fantasy one-on-one dates, the bachelor is supposed to decide which one he wants to marry, proposing the last night immediately after breaking up with his second favorite date. according to the producer's careful formula, the happy couple starts dating exclusively and gets engaged all in one night, only six weeks after meeting.

sounds like a rock solid foundation for marriage, huh?

in the span of what i think has been ten bachelors, not one has ever married the woman he picked! they can't even seem to find a serious girlfriend, let alone wife, and bachelor jason thinks he's gonna find a decent stepmom for his kid on this show? c'mon, buddy!

it's more than a little contrived, but i think it's fascinating from a sociological standpoint. what would make a woman want to participate in this humiliating ritual on national tv? dating a relationships are complicated enough without the cameras and competitors.

how many of them would even be attracted to the bachelor if they met under normal circumstances? but add in limos, cocktail dresses, alcohol, cameras, and a "rose ceremony," and every one is just about declaring her undying devotion mere hours after introduction. it's crazy how unguarded the women are with their hearts and emotions, especially with a man they barely know who is unable to commit anything reciprocally.

the women aren't all idiots. some seem like they'd be professional, capable, even confident women in other settings, but the whole scenario reduces most of them to a bunch of insecure, aggressive, anti-feminist high school girls.

it's too early for me to pick favorites. also, we watched how i met you mother in the middle of last night's episode, so i didn't see everything, but i can tell who "i just don't think is right for jason" or who "isn't here for the right reasons"--the cardinal sins of the bachelor! (i had to look up the girls' names; how does jason keep them straight?)

1. erica is mean girl and a mean drunk. get rid of her!

2. between the ice throwing and myspace stalking, shannon, the dental hygienist, is not an appealing person, let alone girlfriend (or stepmom!) when she talks, jason appears visibly creeped out and overwhelmed, but he keeps picking her. they usually do hold onto the freakshows--i wonder if the producers insist on it?

3. widowed stephanie seems nice enough, but something about her botoxed forehead and overplucked brows remind me of a drag queen.

4. molly is annoying. plus, when jason asked her what she was good at, she say kissing. puh-leaze!

i can't quite decide on jillian the canuck or nikki the pageant queen, but they both seem a little not-in-a-good-way-weird. i guess we'll see...

is anyone else watching abc's romantic mess? who are you rooting for? and is jason even worth it?

Sunday

i'm not supermom

i had one of those "terrible mom" experiences today, like the time i went to unbuckle tiny baby dylan from her car seat after a long trip only to discover that she was already unbuckled. like that, but worse.

jim was teaching a wilderness first aid class today, and i was supposed to teach sunday school for a friend, so i had to get dylan and myself ready extra early by myself. we were just barely going to make it to church on time when i realized that all four doors of my car were frozen shut. awesome.

i wrestled with the doors for a while, holding dylan and trying not to slip on the icy ground. then i took her inside and called the church to let them know i'd be a little late. i closed up the desk, the bathroom door, and the baby gate to the kitchen, sat her down with her toys, and went back out to try again. i was finally able to get a back door open and after climbing over onto the front seat, got that one open, too. i started the car, went back into the house, opened the baby gate, and dylan wasn't there.

that's because she had climbed up the entire flight of stairs by herself and was hanging out alone in the upstairs bathroom. how could i forget to put up that most important stair gate? my morning (my whole life!) could have been so much worse, i can't even think about it.

i am so deeply, indescribably thankful for guardian angels today.

please tell me i'm not the only idiot out there.

Thursday

on green gift wrap, baseball bats, and british exports

while i love the idea of the make-your-own gift bags i saw posted about on the internet over the holidays, my modest crafting abilities do not extend to the sewing realm. the last thing i sewed was a actual-size baseball bat pillow in my eighth grade "teen living" class. i got a "c."

(our home-ec was inexplicably called that. if we learned to cook something there, i don't recall. i do remember that our teacher admitted to not owning an oven and doing all her personal home cooking in a microwave. mmmmm. her version of teen living involved the aforementioned bat pillows and making us watch a british hygiene cartoon entitled "some of your bits ain't nice!" my actual teen life involved a lot more flannel, "alternative" music, and being scolded for too much giggling.)

but about the gift bags...my sister tiffany (who is not only crafty but exceedingly creative) had a great reusable gift bag idea that even a non-seamstress like me can copy. you know how almost every store is selling their own inexpensive reusable shopping bags? she bought this little pretty (at forever 21, i think), and turned in into a lovely gift bag. i've already used it running errands twice. thanks, tiff!

(this post is part of "thrifty green thursday" over at the
green baby guide.)

Wednesday

snow bunny

bundled snugly in the backpack for a hike in the catskills
find more wordless wednesday pics here and here.

Tuesday

shalom, my good friends

over at avtcoach and octamom, i read about choosing a word for the new year, as a way to orient my heart and my focus. i love this idea. i'm not an especially disciplined person, and resolutions don't motivate me. i don't typically make it into february with any intact, but the idea of a theme word is something that resonates with me, because i know how powerful words can be.

i've been wounded and wearied by careless words, and i've hurt too many with mine. i've drunk deeply from the refreshment that an encouraging word can bring. words have tremendous power, which is why gender-inclusive language, abstaining from using "gay," "ghetto," and "retarded" as pejorative slang, and saying "child with autism" instead of "autistic child" are not at all about being politically correct but rather acknowledging the power of words to both communicate and create reality.

consider this: God spoke the universe into existence. his words called forth life and matter out of nothing! when john's gospel introduces Jesus, he is called the Word: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

first century readers would have recognized that by calling Jesus the Word, john is equating Jesus with God, the Creator. john is clear that Jesus is no mere rabbi; God is doing a radical new thing in Christ: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

back in the garden, adam and eve walked with God, but then sin broke their fellowship with one another and with God. john's gospel announces that, amazingly, God the Word is once again making his home among people. the need for a priestly mediator between a sinful people and a holy God is coming to an end, because the Word will again be about the work of creation--recreating hearts, relationships, and communities so broken and distorted by sin.

potentially creative and redemptive power lives within words, and recognizing this, the word i'd like to shape my year around is "shalom," the hebrew word for peace. not merely peace as in the absence of war or tension, the shalom of God embodies wholeness, restoration, and the making right of all things. [the idea of shalom reminds me much of the line in the musical, RENT: "the opposite of war isn't peace, it's creation!"]

shalom can be found independent of the day's stresses and worries, because it rests in the knowledge that God is sovereign, God is good, and God is at work. all too often, i allow myself to be tossed in the turbulent waves emotion, discontent that life isn't meeting my every selfish desire and expectation. i know that shalom, like joy, is not based on circumstances, and can be found entirely independent of how much sleep i've had or how lonely or loved i am feeling.

because Jesus is the Word, i know that in choosing the word "shalom" to guide my steps in this new year, i am not alone in my striving, thus setting myself up for disappointment. philippians 2:12-13 instructs, "continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." it is my desire to consciously allow God to work in me and through me, transforming me by his grace (not my effort) into the woman he created me to be.

i want to allow God the space to develop shalom in my life by growing in the disciplines of prayer, meditation, and spending time in the Word. (Lord, forgive me for filling my days with words and noise, while neglecting your life-giving Word in scripture and presence in silence.) i know that shalom is not something i can cultivate through willpower; it is gained by obedience to God, service to others, and surrender of my selfish strivings and need for things to center around me.
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)
This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea. (Isaiah 48:17-18).

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)
may God's great shalom guard our hearts, encourage our spirits, and guide our feet as we walk in his ways this year.

Monday

a capital trek

dylan and i spent a fantastic weekend in dc, capping off a long holiday of traveling. i went down to see katie, my best friend from middle school who was in for christmas and to attend a party that liz, my college roommate, was having.

i graduated from william and mary (a virginia state school), and many of my friends remain in the dc area. it's not all that far away, but even before the baby i didn't make the trip much, and it had been almost two years. i missed my girls and was tired of saying no, so after one short night at home, it was back in the car!

unexpectedly, i had company for the ride with two camp friends, lisa and amy, and it was wonderful spending time with them. dylan and i stayed with lisa at her mom's place in georgetown. i met katie for dinner in capitol hill, and dylan entertained us by enthusiastically sharing my panang chicken and trying to get the attention of another one-year-old diner. katie wasn't able to come to our wedding, and we hadn't seen each other since college. in middle school we were completely inseparable, and it was fun to spend a little time together as "grown-ups."

i love that dylan is so willing to try new foods. on saturday we stopped at a mediterranean restaurant i used to love when i attended american university for a semester. i ordered a sampler of variously spiced stews, and again dylan eagerly tried everything...lamb, lentils, israeli couscous. we visited my friend lara from high school and finally met her wonderful husband and spent the night with my aunt and uncle in maryland, where dylan again demonstrated her adventurous palate by eating indian dhal with us. i lived with my aunt and uncle for the semester i studied in dc, and it was great visiting with them.

sunday we went to liz's three kings' celebration. her mom is from spain and made the largest dish of paella i've ever seen. the food and sangria were delicious, and it was fun introducing dylan to so many college friends. i thought we'd have to leave early because dylan would get fussy, but she loved the bustle and activity, and we stayed the whole time. it was only an afternoon, but it was amazing spending even a little time with the people i love best and dearly miss.

we met up with amy again and drove back to ligonier. amy babysat dylan this summer when i worked, and she was a lifesaver on the trip, keeping dylan happy when she refused to sleep.

we are all happy to be home. dylan was such a trooper throughout our travels, but the activity and missed sleep finally caught up with her: dylan woke last night with croup, barking like a sad little seal. she is doing much better today.

it was such a good weekend! i am so thankful for my friends and family. i'm thankful i managed to navigate dc in a car, having only ever previously travelled by metro. i'm so glad that dylan remained happy and healthy while we were there. it was a joy to walk around the city with dylan in the sling and to finally introduce her to some of the people who know me best. we missed jim, but he was able to take some much-needed sabbath at home, so it all worked out perfectly.
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