everything beautiful in its time

cloth diapering one babe was a breeze.  i didn't mind the washing and found hanging them on the line to be a downright zen endeavor.

having two in cloth is not the same.

double rinsing.  double duty.  double mess.  less time and energy for zen-like laundry habits.  green guilt as i toss them into the dryer and disdain as their beautiful white luster wanes.

also, diapering a baby is completely different than diapering a child who can communicate articulately and just seems old enough to know better. 

i know, i'm not being fair here, just honest.  dylan's not even three, you can't rush these things, they'll learn when they're ready, etc etc etc.  none of those truisms makes the drudgery of diapers any more pleasant to bear.

and the line that cloth diapered kids potty train earlier?  that has not been my experience.  dylan has been flirting with potty learning for over a year.  OVER ONE YEAR, PEOPLE!

since two summers ago, we've had daily conversations about using the toilet.  we've read the books and made up songs.  she'd humor us, occasionally.  some weeks more than others.  we've had good days and bad days.  we picked out treats for putting #2 when it belongs:  pink piggies and then gummy bears.  (how horrible is the phrase "potty snacks"?  eek.)

i ate them all.  every single one.

several weeks ago, after cleaning up two puddles that dylan informed me plainly were NOT accidents, i gave it up.  i could not control this.  trying was making me crazy and resentful toward a little girl i love so much.

we put the tiny underwear away, and i tried to handle it all with a bit more grace.


james woke up with croup our last night at the shore.  we came home and canceled a play date and dinner with two families.  the social week i'd been looking forward to suddenly became another week at home--and a rainy one at that.

my kids are both pretty healthy (which i never want to take for granted), but it seems whenever we make plans, one of them gets sick.  or the other party does.  we say we'll reschedule, but weeks can turn to months, and i'll realize an entire season has changed without much community. 

why is making friends such a painfully slow process?

having joined MOPS and le leche league, i know far more women than i did a year or two ago, but sometimes i just want to fast forward to that moment of really connecting and feeling known.  and i want my kids to grow up with buddies, too, and not have to wait until they're in school.


this week i witnessed a miracle:  dylan asked to do her thing on the potty.  and then she did.  she stayed dry in underwear and used the toilet without fail two days in a row.  we had one minor setback today, but she's staying dry here on day three as well.

a lot of potty training "experts" (is there really such a thing?) advise clearing your schedule and staying home to completely focus on the task at hand.  that seemed like a pretty lame way to spend the better part of a week, and i scoffed at the idea, yet here we are, housebound, and dylan finally decided she's ready to do it.

i'm not so naive as to think i've seen the end of two in diapers, but i am encouraged.   

my surrendering control yielded fruit.  a bright spot in a rainy week.

and during one housebound naptime, a new friend called.   

we talked a bit like old friends and the day didn't seem so gray.


last night i fumbled dinner.  the clock was creeping towards bedtime when i finally put it in the oven, so i set out a bowl of apple wedges and carrots sticks, and sat down with jim while it baked.  james and dylan chased each other gleefully around the coffee table, the baby double-fisting crudites.  we crunched and laughed and enjoyed ourselves as a family.

a unforeseen moment of beauty, carved out of frustrating circumstances.

out the window, the sun was setting.  the sun that hadn't shone all day--or much at all since the beach last saturday--glimmered through the clouds, warm with orange and pink.

light persisting through the darkness, casting out shadows in unexpected, beautiful ways.  


He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  
-Ecclesiastes 3:11


linking up with melissa at peanut butter in my hair and emily at in the hush of the moon.


the mouths of babes

dylan loves to watch pbs's super why, and i know it's the reason she can identify most of the letters in the alphabet.  i think it's pretty cute how they glamorize reading for the pre-school set.  after they introduce the cartoon cast (and the super readers' various reading powers), wyatt tells viewers that they have the power to help and instructs them to say their names.  dylan loves this part, and usually calls out the names of everyone in the family:  "mommy!  daddy!  sydney!  james!  dylan!"

i'm not quite sure how much reading assistance the dog or baby can offer, but i like her desire to include everyone.

today, she was watching downstairs as i nursed james upstairs, and i heard her enthusiastically add another helper to the list:  "bunny bear!"

apparently, dylan's beloved stuffed animal friend is a super reader, too.


yesterday at lunch:

dylan:  remember when i spit up on the towel at the beach?

jim:  we remember.  it was sad.

d:  and you washed me off in the ocean?

me:  i remember, baby.

d:  and then i spit up again and the seagulls ate it?

jim and me:  yup.

d:  they liked it.  it was their dinner!


yesterday was a big step forward in potty learning for dylan.  she used the toilet (at her own request) and stayed dry in underwear all day.

could the poo and diapers i deal with on a daily basis really be reducing by half?  she asked herself hopefully.

and then, dylan put something in my hand.

"what's this, mom?"

it was a crusty black holdover from an accident our dog had had on a rainy day before we left for vacation.


"i took it from james.  i didn't want him to eat it."



tune my heart to sing thy grace

an ongoing record of God's goodness, #114-127

late summer fields of golden rod and queen anne's lace

wild grapes
a laughing, clapping boy

soft and chubby baby cheeks to kiss and kiss and kiss

big sister kindness and love of all things outside

impromptu time with friends

line dried napkins and "paper-less" towels

my babywearing babe

cute cloth-diapered bottom

God's bounty abounding

daddy love

wide-open spaces and blue sky days 

holy experience


sea legs

when dylan was almost a year old, i joined a mothers of preschoolers (MOPS) group at an area church.  i loved being mama to my sweet girl, but stay-at-home motherhood was achingly isolating, and i was thankful to have adult contact again.

the strange thing about MOPS, though, was that as nice as everyone was, i didn't feel quite in tune with other moms there.  everyone always talked about how crazy motherhood was, how overwhelmed and stressed they were, and how our meetings twice a month were this sanctuary in the storm.

i had no idea what they were talking about.

i'm not saying that dylan was an easy baby or that i took everything in stride.  although she was a charmer and a sociable little thing, dylan didn't sleep well and was very sick for a time.  nevertheless, life with one babe was pretty quiet.  we read and cuddled and played.  we took naps.  meeting her needs and even breastfeeding around the clock, i still found plenty of time to read, watch movies, or get things done at home.

today, a friend posted this old photo on facebook from way back then:

it was only two years ago, but i look like a baby in this shot.  people keep "liking" it on facebook, and it's cracking me up because i only wish i looked this dewy and fresh-faced today.  (although my hair is better now.  not this minute, mind you, but you get the point;)

and then it hit me:   

this is the face of a mother with only one child.

i don't feel all that in tune with her either, anymore.  back then, i was just dipping my toes in this motherhood thing.

now i'm in deep.

there are days that raising two feels like swimming against the undertow.  not waving but drowning.  a rogue wave that steals my breath and my suit and how the junk am i gonna make it back to my towel when my top is out to sea?

it's no secret that the learning curve for mothering two kids was not easy for me.  it still isn't.  i now understand what those manic mamas were feeling, who mothered more kids and older babes.

but it's not all chaos and crazy:  the plunge into mothering multiple children was icy, but the initial shock is wearing off.  in the unpredictable sea that is motherhood, playful surf-splashing and the giddy thrill of riding waves feature, too.

i'm discovering treasures in sand.  the shoreline may appear ordinary, but beach combing unearths uncommon beauty.  there is delight in what others dismiss as debris.

in the water, with time and practice, i'm learning the strokes.  the breathing rhythms, once awkward, are becoming natural.

it's only in the deep--feet up, head back, trusting and relaxed--that i know the weightless wonder of letting go.

linked up with melissa and emily.


our grief is {not} a cry for war

the morning was bright as i waited on the maryland subway platform.  an announcer's voice punctuated the quiet and matter-of-factly relayed that there had been an attack [threat? plane crash? fire?] at the pentagon, and trains were not running there.

i think he said attack;  i'm not sure anymore.  it was alarming, but it could have been a precautionary closure.  i wasn't concerned as i boarded.

it was the fall semester of my senior year.  i was hours away from my own college and friends, enrolled in a semester called "transforming communities" during the moment that transformed everything in so many ways.

the metro was buzzing.  crowds pressed tighter as federal employees boarded, evacuating.  i still had no idea what had happened.

i arrived late to class.  our speaker was not talking about homelessness, education or whatever else had been on the day's agenda.  he said that like the kennedy assassination, we'd always remember where we were when the world trade center was attacked.

terrorists had hijacked commercial planes and flown them into the twin towers and the pentagon, exploding planes like bombs filled with people.

DC was shutting down, and class dismissed somberly after a few minutes.  in the dorm lounge nearby, students huddled around the television silently, eyes wide and mouths agape.  it was impossible to process what we were seeing:  bodies falling from skyscrapers.  people dazed and bleeding, running, covered in soot and debris.  the once imposing trade center tower--that i'd walked beneath on a family trip--sinking into the ground in a sea of smoke and screams.

i'd never seen live, unedited disaster coverage like this.   the surreal images horrified.

i took the metro back to my aunt and uncle's house, and we spent the evening together, transfixed by the coverage.

the rest of the semester was strange.  security tightened.  metal detectors multiplied.  the terror threat level fluctuated in a confusing rainbow of hues.  uniformed soldiers policed the airport with assault rifles.  president bush said that we should...go shopping.

anthrax threats made me terrified to get the mail, especially when my aunt and uncle traveled abroad for weeks, leaving me along in that house.  what good would duct tape, plastic sheeting, and jugs of water be in the face of a biological attack?

 i remember that classmates who served as interns on [white] capitol hill got the rationed anti-anthrax drugs.  [black] postal workers did not--and several died.
i remember anti-islamic sentiment.  not locally, but recounted loudly in media reports.

i worked at an after-school center in columbia heights.  many students were first-generation americans, and i wondered what kind of prejudice a child might expect to face who was growing up poor and black and muslim and american?

i remember walking past an afghan restaurant and praying for its proprietors, that their business wouldn't be vandalized.

in 21st century america, how could we be so xenophobic?  nine years later, has anything changed?  why are we still talking about burning korans and where "they" shouldn't build a cultural center?

shortly after the 9/11 attacks someone affixed this sticker to a street sign near the after-school center.  the ambiguous, partially scratched-out message captures the tension and pulse of the time perfectly:

nine years later, the sadness, anger, and longing remain.  but my grief is still not a cry for war--neither here nor anywhere else.


the gift of time

Every day, this One offers gifts--life, light, and hours in which to work and eat and love and rest--and invites humankind to join in the ongoing work of caring for creation and all who dwell therein.  The same One also continues, each day, the work of new creation:  the work of forgiving and reconciling and restoring wholeness.  This too we are invited to enter, both as ones who stand in need of this divine work and as partners in it.
                                                   --Dorothy C. Bass, Receiving the Day
an ongoing record of God's goodness, #99-113

   fearless dylan and the bumper cars

last day of the season at the park and all four of us together

happy, grateful kids made each minute a joy

childlike excitement

funnel cake with ice cream, fresh strawberries, and whipped cream.  ohmygoodness.


kitchen wizard-in-training

 water baby

playing with poppy

grammy's fresh-picked peach cobbler for dessert.  and also breakfast.

an acceptable picture of the family four-pack.  (yes, dylan and james are essentially the same size.)

dandelion wishes

sharing meals with friends
staying up late to finish an engaging page-turner

grammy and poppy brought an old-school walkman for dylan, and she refers to the headphones as "muff ears."  i can hardly stand it:)

i'm taking a break from ShoutLaughLove for a bit.  i still love the idea, so i'll probably pull it out again later this fall...

holy experience


labor day rest

 1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
       its builders labor in vain.
       Unless the LORD watches over the city,
       the watchmen stand guard in vain.
 2 In vain you rise early
       and stay up late,
       toiling for food to eat—
       for he grants sleep to those he loves.
 3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
       children a reward from him.
 4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
       are sons born in one's youth.
 5 Blessed is the man
       whose quiver is full of them.
       They will not be put to shame
       when they contend with their enemies in the gate.  (Psalm 127)

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