(don't) eat it

being a mother means saying things i never imagined i'd hear myself say:
you can't sit on the couch with a bare bottom.

get your feet out of your brother's mouth.
don't put things in the toilet.
(i know there are far more ridiculous examples, but it is late and i am drawing a blank.  i hope you'll add other "mom-isms" in the comments.  i can't be the only one shaking my head at things which should go without saying and yet somehow don't.)

some days, much of my parental instruction has to do with policing appropriate food choices.  you gotta set up parameters; kids are like wild dogs and will put absolutely anything in their mouths:
we don't eat dog food.
we don't eat things we find on the floor. 
we don't eat things we find outside.
it all pretty much boils down to:  "don't eat anything mommy or daddy didn't give you recently."  (Lord knows that that last part is clutch--who knows how long those raisins have been collecting dust under the couch?)

i'm learning, however, that some rules were made to be broken--especially the "not eating things we find outside" one.

a perk of living in wide open spaces is the ability to eat some of the things we find, like blackberries, dandelion greens, or morels.  friends of ours are more ambitious gatherers; their family adventurously collected bushels of peaches and wild grapes this week.  their generosity meant sticky, juice-stained baby faces at dinner and hot peach crisp for dessert.

we also ate the most delicious marinated, grilled mushrooms that jim foraged.  (don't worry, he has a manual--they weren't poisonous.)  ohmygoodness, they were so good that we "ate them whole thing!"--even jim and dylan.  (that is one of dylan's holdover baby sayings that we can't bear to correct:)

to recap:
sometimes we eat things we find--just not so much from the bottom of the car.


the waning days of summer: some favorites

it's still august, yet i type this wearing socks and a hoodie, with windows closed tightly against a decidedly autumn chill.

i know everyone loves fall, but i'm not ready!

camp just ended and already leaves are starting to crunch beneath our feet.  it's bonfire weather.  we aren't headed to the beach this year, so i'm not feeling panicked about the fact that our summer vacation is still three weeks away, but a few more warm days would be nice.

over at sortacrunchy, megan posted what she was into this month, and i liked the idea enough to follow suit:

on my nightstand:  after a months-long wait, i finally picked up the girl who kicked the hornet's nest at the library yesterday.  the first two were great and i'm excited to finish the triology.  i'm also reading barbara kingsolver's the poisonwood bible.  i've loved everything i've read of hers, and it is a goodie, too.

on tv:  i haven't been excited about tv in a long time (not that i haven't been watching--i just lowered my standards;)  but now i feel like there is some good stuff on again, especially glee and mad men.

on screen:  the best movie i've seen in a while is crazy heart, with jeff bridges and maggie gyllenhaal.  the music is excellent, too, and was written by t-bone burnette.

in my kitchen:  tomatoes, everywhere!  making this excellent balsamic-roasted sauce (scroll down for recipe) and whatever else we can think of.  i need to learn canning already--i can only make and freeze so much!

after months of camp cuisine, we're rediscovering the rhythms of cooking for ourselves.  we had friends over tonight for chicken curry and quinoa and enjoyed dinner on the deck.  so nice.

although obviously not for eating, i made deodorant and dishwasher detergent in my kitchen recently, which i will probably post about in the near future.

in my earsavett brothers and new arcade fire

new blog reads:
misty took a hiatus from blogging for a while and then created a new one, un vase fragile, so i shall call her "new" even though i've appreciated her voice for a while.  she is a writer--so raw and honest and beautiful.

hyacynth writes the loveliest posts over at undercover mother about faith, mothering, and life.  she is one of the hostesses of the bigger picture moment, which is introducing me to so many wonderful bloggers.
shauna is the thoughtful storyteller who writes so passionately about grace and at sojourner's hope.  she and her family serve as missionaries in kenya.
kara writes rockin granola, with the tagline "a little bit crunchy, a little bit rock'n'roll."  i'm always glad i clicked, and i'm looking forward to gleaning pre-school activity ideas from her.
on the horizon for september:  squeezing every last drop from the farmers' market.  having jim around more regularly, starting today!  taking the kids to idlewild for a few more spins around the carousal.  outside play.  MOPS and routines and seeing people again.  vacation!  and shallowly, the new fall tv schedule:)

what are you reading/watching/eating/looking forward to?


looking for a few good sponsors for Relevant

I have no funny baby stories today.  No meditations, mom confessionspoems, or DIY green tips.  Instead, i  have a bit of bloggy business to propose.

If you have a business, how would you like to have an enthusiastic representative promoting you at the Relevant Conference for Christian bloggers?  Over 225 bloggers from all over the US and Canada (with a combined readership in the hundred thousands, at least) will be in attendance, and some great writers will be speaking.  I attended in 2010, and the learning, networking, and encouragement were invaluable.

A partnership could be a perfect fit for both of us.

I can promote your brand with ad space here and in social media, on Twitter.  I'd love to host a giveaway, and I can promote your business at the conference in creative ways we can brainstorm together, like distributing product samples, printing your logo on my business card, or my wearing your product or logo.   In turn, I am seeking full or partial sponsorship of my conference ticket, hotel, and travel expenses.

Please check out my author and partner pages and contact me.  I am happy to answer any questions you may have about the conference, my website, and possible promotions available to full or partial conference sponsors.

Your brand will reap definitely benefits from this kind of online and in-person exposure.  I look forward to attending the fabulous Relevant Conference, collaborating with a like-minded company, and helping expand your reach in social media.

2010 Relevant recap post:  the only Word that matters


on the road

i grew up in the philadelphia suburbs, and my grandma lived in pittsburgh.  growing up, my family spent many a long car ride driving across pennsylvania, with my sister, brother and i poking, kicking and generally annoying the smack out of one another.  my parents used to say that if we ever made the six hour trip without fighting, we would all go to disney world.

we never did.

rather, we never took that family trip.  i know for a fact we eventually started ignoring liking  each other and grew out of the cross-state cage match on wheels, but i guess by that time the magic kingdom had lost its luster.

in the past 2+ weeks, i have spent nearly 20 hours in the car with james, criss-crossing pennsylvania twice.  these trips were not without fits of crying (his, not mine), but on the whole, they were markedly pleasant drives.  instead of traveling feeling like a chore or waste of time, it was the opposite.

all that time to myself was a rare gift.  just me, the (sometime sleeping) baby, and the open road.

time to think.  to be quiet.  to pray.

time to breathe in views of rolling hills and farm land.

time to sing loudly to 90s radio rock and much neglected cds (no i don't own an ipod), and who cares what travelers in the other lanes think?

uninterrupted hours of listening to npr (news, this american life, wait wait don't tell me, prairie home companion...my own little nerd heaven!)

i am a mother of two small children.  completing one load of laundry from start to finish can feel like an insurmountable task with all the distractions of an ordinary day.  life is chaotic.  quiet is rare.

who would have thought i'd find my happy place on the pennsylvania turnpike?

i know these moments are numbered.  soon enough our family of four will make the trek, and james and dylan will be the ones poking and kicking.  perhaps jim will be the one threatening to "pull this car over!"

for this brief moment in time, i will remember that 270-odd mile stretch of highway as the improbably lovely place in which God and quiet, public radio, sing-alongs, and time alone with my sweet babe coexist.  and i am grateful.


the country of marriage


Our bond is no little economy based on the exchange
of my love and work for yours, so much for so much
of an expendable fund. We don't know what its limits are--
that puts us in the dark. We are more together
than we know, how else could we keep on discovering
we are more together than we thought?
You are the known way leading always to the unknown,
and you are the known place to which the unknown is always
leading me back. More blessed in you than I know,
I possess nothing worthy to give you, nothing
not belittled by my saying that I possess it.
Even an hour of love is a moral predicament, a blessing
a man may be hard up to be worthy of. He can only
accept it, as a plant accepts from all the bounty of the light
enough to live, and then accepts the dark,
passing unencumbered back to the earth, as I
have fallen tine and again from the great strength
of my desire, helpless, into your arms.     

                                                         --Wendell Berry 

thanking God tonight for my husband and the picture of grace that is marriage.

lifting up my friend katy and her husband tyler (whose beautiful wedding i attended tonight):  may the unknown always lead you back to one another.

may the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you (1 thessalonians 3:12) 

image source


day of the locust

we took a little off-road detour tonight to check out the trail clearing progress at the pond and the newly-opened vistas.

our sante fe bumped along the grassy field, windows down, until we heard the "THUTTHUTTHUTTHUTTHUTTHUT" of rapidly beating wings.

"pull over," jim said.  "i think there's a grasshopper in james' car seat."

i complied, and jim opened the back passenger door just in time to pull a giant cicada out of the baby's clenched fist.  one second more and james would have had the entire insect, beating wings and all, IN HIS MOUTH.

jim grabbed it away just in time, released it, and it flew away without skipping a beat.

the baby's fine, the cicada is fine, but i'm afraid of what i'll see when i close my eyes tonight!

image source



Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this son of York;
And all the clouds that low'r'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

Richard The Third Act 1, scene 1, 1–4

while life was never exactly dark and twisty, this year opened with a difficult chapter, new baby and all.

people say that having that first baby rocks your world, but i knew our lives would change forever with baby #1 and was as ready as one can be.  i'd read all about childbirth, breastfeeding, and development.  i'd poured over consumer reviews.  dylan was named before we even knew for sure that she was a girl.  all her tiny things were washed and organized and ready for her arrival into the world.  we'd waited five years and were ready.

i'm not going to say that one baby was easy, because i wasn't, but it seems to me that you don't do much parenting that first year: you just love your baby the best way you know and try not to let them break.  (anyone else feel like that?)

motherhood felt pretty natural.  and then i had a second baby, and the transition knocked me flat on my ass.

when james came home, i didn't have the luxury of holding him all day long, snuggling and nursing and napping and watching entire tv seasons on dvd.  this time around i had a needy infant and an extraordinarily busy toddler.  we were snowed in for months, jim traveled, and sometimes days went by without adult interaction.  or showers.

i was lonely and overwhelmed and in over my head.

but seasons change.  babies (and mamas) grow.  snow melts.  there is growth and change and life.

The fear of the LORD leads to life:
Then one rests content, untouched by trouble  (Proverbs 19:23).

trouble persists, present as always, but there is contentment in the chaos.  God is faithful:  my ever-present help in trouble

we have good days and bad days:  ours is not a picture of domestic bliss and i'm no supermom.  life is a beautiful mess.  an awkward, joyful dance.

and we're finding our rhythm.


the sea is His and so are we

we just got back from Two and a Half Days Away From Camp, and it's not even the end of summer:) since the adventure program continues in full swing after the last camper leaves (saturday--the end is nigh!), jim has to wait to take vacation. nevertheless, we were able to steal away for a mini family trip, and it was wonderful.

mostly. it turns out that tiny people don't like to take naps in hot cottages or stay in their beds or nurse without biting. getting out of the house was a little dramatic, too, but once our seat belts clicked, we were good to go.

an ongoing record of God's goodness, #74 - 98

riding my bike and a horse this summer, because i'm not pregnant:)

re-creation and the shalom of God

teeny little superheroine

things that make long car trips better, like james' tiny hand holding mine,


and ben harper

a sister's grace and conquering beauty

celebrating together at home, all six of us

my kids, reveling in unbroken daddy time and attention at the cottage

practicing the pleasure of cooking again, far from the din of the dining hall

balsamic-roasted tomato sauce with tomatoes and basil from our garden (made at midnight before we left and worth every minute. recipe is approximate, and i don't generally measure.)

       2 1/2 lbs tomatoes, cored. i generally quarter or half them. seeding is up to you.
       1/2 c olive oil
       1/3 c balsamic vinegar
       6 large cloves garlic, sliced
       1/2 c onions, sliced
       1 1/2 c basil, chopped
       1 tsp salt
       Combine, toss, and roast at 400 for 1 hour, until tomatoes blacken.  
       Transfer to food processor.  Blend and enjoy.

watching mad men while tomatoes roast

a beautiful drive to the lake

reading barbara kingsolver

and rolling stone

james the water baby, splashing delightedly

dylan, the sandcastle architect

wind-in-hair and how sea breezes blow the heat clear away

every second on the boat: blissed-out babes, happy husband, and the contentment of a full heart

a rare cuddly toddler, napping in my arms

great goodwill finds: cleats, soup crocks, dazed and confused

window shopping and flea market browsing courtesy of comfy baby carriers: dylan on jim's back and james in my sling

coming home a night early to sleep in our own beds and go to our church

lunch at home before back to work for jim

"daddy, i like having you here." so do i, baby. so do i.

(ShoutLaughLove is tuesday. come back tomorrow and link a favorite post.)


quiet confidence forever

her request caught me by surprise.

"i want you to take a picture of me and the baby," tiffany said.  "we have the same hair!"

and she took off her beautiful blue wrap.

we sisters three (plus boy babe) were together this spring for the tears and the clippers and the inaugural head scarves.  her trademark long red locks were not the only thing that cancer took, but in many ways, they were the hardest to lose.

but, dang.  look at tiffany now:

sister, even bald, you look good.  without the thick fringe of bangs, your blues eyes sparkle bigger, your cheekbones look higher, and your smile lights up your whole face.

but more than that, this shot captures some of the joy and strength and confidence that i so admire in you.  you've been through fire and emerged like gold:  refined and more beautiful still.

you've fought so hard, and you look fantastic, but it's your inner beauty, sister, that catches our breath.  i am so thankful for you, sweet sister.

linked up with the bigger picture moment, hosted this week at this heavenly life.


better than christmas

we celebrated my dad's birthday at my parents' house this weekend.  it was the first time all six of us (plus james and bethany's fiancee) were together since christmas.

actually, our time together was so much better than christmas.  the dark cloud of cancer loomed large in december.

but now, the clouds are lifting.

image source

we enjoyed leisurely, elegant meals at home, drank wine, let the baby entertain us, heard sarah groves and the international justice mission at church, watched ridonkulous youtube videos, and laughed til it hurt.

i love my perfectly imperfect family. 
"'For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.  As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.  I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land.  I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel.  I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD.  I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.  (Ezekiel 34:11-16)


you can be my hero, baby

miss dylan, in jim's old cape, listening to the rules of Gold Rush

i love that dylan wants to wear a super hero costume and play with daddy and the big kids in her cousin's old light-up shoes.

i love that dylan never lets me put her hair in pigtails yet demands them to complete the cape and sweatband look she's been rockin' around the house all week.  cuz she's sassy like that.

yesterday, at out of my alleged mind, i discovered a beautiful song that made me ugly-cry right onto my keyboard.  i'm not usually much for pop-country music, and if you are, maybe you've heard it a million times.  apparently, "fight like a girl" was the theme song for this year's race for the cure, which many of you know we did in support of and alongside my sister, tiffany.

sweet dylan, may you always be confident and adventurous, and may you fight like a girl, just like your brave and beautiful aunt tiffany.

tiff is DONE with chemo and surgery and will be back to teaching this fall.  she still recovering and has radiation to get through, so continued prayer is appreciated.  i get to see her and the rest of my family tomorrow!

celebrating the gifts of play and strength and womanhood with tuesdays unwrapped at chatting at the sky.


shabbat shalom

On the seventh day He rested.

Did it take a toll,
the crafting of creation
calling forth Something
out of Nothing?

Did You rest to show us How
Or was it Why?

To pause.

to revel in the work of Your Hands
to delight in the Good and the Very Good.

On the seventh day we rest, as well.

Babies and garden need tending still
but many hands make such care light.
we revel in the work of our hands
(and Yours)

We pause.

we tarry over breakfast:
eggs fresh, jam sweet, coffee hot.

we load bags and bikes and country-drive
the day is cool, path straight
through bridges high and forest green

rain falls softy, misting skin 'neath canopy of trees

Listen. Baby giggles, silly songs
"faster, daddy, faster!"
wheels spin, pedals push
river rushes, muffling rafters' joyful cheers

Look. Four wide eyes peer out from trailer window
sibling smiles spread to passers-by
mushrooms spiral trees and tiny
frogs play hopscotch in our path

Breathe.  Rhododendron and rain
perfume the air.  inhale the quiet
drink deeply from the fountain of Rest

this recreation {Re-Creation!}
is Good
the very Shalom of God.

    You will go out in joy
       and be led forth in peace;
       the mountains and hills
       will burst into song before you,
       and all the trees of the field
       will clap their hands.  (Isaiah 55:12)

linked up with bigger picture moments hosted this week by hyacynth at undercover mother, as well as imperfect prose by emily at in the hush of the moon.  visit them to read more or join in.

Bigger Picture Moment


teething bites, but giveaways are fun

i have a Boiron homeopathic teething medicine giveaway going on now at {so much reviews}, so if you have a baby (or know a mama who does) click over and enter.  james says it's good stuff.



camp replaced the windows in our old farm house a few weeks ago, so now they all open, which is definitely a good thing.

not so good? the fact that in all this time, we haven't put any of the blinds back up.

it's not complete laziness. the downstairs bathroom window formerly had a giant wooden privacy screen.  it was nailed into a makeshift frame that had to come down for the new window to go in, and i'm reluctant to re-install it due to the fact that it is enormous and hideous. plus, i wanted to paint the screen white to match the trim.  or maybe make a curtain instead.

i was never going to make a curtain. these days i can barely make breakfast.

case in point:  this morning, my eggs tasted faintly soapy. i couldn't figure out what the problem could possibly be, until i realized that i'd chopped veggies on a cutting board i'd previously used when making laundry soap.  soapy eggs, the 19th way to use dr. bronner's.

anyway, for the last four weeks, the giant bathroom window has offered an unobstructed view of our yard, camp's baseball diamond, and the main road in and out of our town--right from the toilet.

awesome, right?

i've spent all month creeping and hiding in the dark to prevent putting on a spectacle. during the day, i tried not to worry about the lack of privacy. there's a pretty big field out there, and drivers shouldn't be able to see inside in the daylight, right?

today i was sitting there, doing my thing, when i heard the roar of a mower just out of eye line.  (during the summer, boys on maintenance cut our grass.)

i was about two seconds away from The Most Awkward Encounter Ever With A Teenage Boy, and i don't think i've ever jumped out of a bathroom so fast.

not that high school didn't have more than its share of awkwardness, but i've at least been spared that particular indignity.

needless to say, jim is re-installing the (unpainted) privacy screen and ugly frame first thing tomorrow.  i should probably have him re-install the blind for the window in our shower, too. somehow i doubt the concealing powers of our white shower curtain alone...


august and everything after

  The LORD will surely comfort Zion
       and will look with compassion on all her ruins;
       he will make her deserts like Eden,
       her wastelands like the garden of the LORD.
       Joy and gladness will be found in her,
       thanksgiving and the sound of singing. 
(Isaiah 51:3)

an ongoing list of God's goodness, #51 - 73

a new-to-us red wagon

the joy of a swing...or two

 the coolness of shade

dylan's mispronouncing "marshmellnoes" gets me every time

simple learning activities that occupy happy little hands 
(1 tray, 2 bowls, 1 spoon, and some millet to transfer)

enjoying time outside

a tiny butterfly

a lovely afternoon visiting with cousins and family

sitting out on the porch together

glimpses of beauty everywhere

"you be the prince.  i'll be the princess.  then we dance!"

the silliness of daddy play

dylan's lightening-quick tree scrambles:  "i'm a monkey!"

baby birds tucked into tree houses

calves at the dairy

a new mama's grace and the beauty of breastfeeding

evenings out with friends (2!)

the smell of rain

the quiet of night

the grace of reconciliation

together TEN YEARS (since jim and i began dating)

Thank you, Lord, for blessings abounding and eyes to see.  


ShoutLaughLove is tuesday.  i hope you'll come back and link a post of life along the way.

holy experience
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