Friday, April 29, 2011

All thy waste I will repair, Thou shalt be rebuilt anew

Yesterday, I spent the whole day with the TV on mute, so I could get the weather updates, but not have to torture myself with daytime television.  There was Big Weather coming, and in the wake of hearing all about the destruction in Alabama and the other states hit by the recent tornadoes, I was a little fearful.

Let's just say I had decided before noon which closet (we don't have an interior room) we would all go into, had double checked that we would all fit, and had pulled out some cheerios, applesauce pouches, extra sippy cups, and a few diapers. 

WHAT?!?!  Tornadoes move FAST and 3 children move SLOW. I wanted to be ready.  Those 4 months I was in the girl scouts weren't for nothing.

But, obviously, we were fine. We never went in a closet. I didn't need the cheerios & diapers. My fear was all for naught. Thankfully.

But for a lot of people this morning, that is not true.  This morning people woke up without a home. Without a family member. Without a job. Without food. Without any idea how to start putting things back together in the wake of a natural disaster. Without hope.

And I am not one of them. I am safe. And they are not.

My temptation is to just be thankful that it wasn't me, and move on. I know that people will go and help, the government will send money and manpower, somehow things will start rebuilding.  

I really struggle with knowing how to connect to these things.  How to empathize with a disaster so large, with loss so profound, with people I don't know, with places that aren't mine.  How to connect my teeny-tiny life, my searching heart, to something so enormous. But I really want to.

I really want to connect. I don't want to numb myself, or turn away, or simply forget. I want to know about the plight of my fellow man. I want to care. I want to pray. I want to know the world as it is, in it's brokenness, in it's horror, as well as in it's beauty.

I don't really have money to send. I can't physically go and rebuild. I can, however, pray.  Except, I don't really know how. It doesn't feel real to me. I want to pray, I try to pray, but I find my prayers empty. Lacking authenticity.

I read a great post a while ago by Molly Piper that discussed connecting to other people in their grief.  She was encouraging people to stop saying "I can't image" to people who were suffering, and instead, to just TRY to imagine. Just really sit for a minute and try. She said "Real love gets into the trenches of grief and suffering. It imagines. It lets it’s mind’s eye linger. Real love will not avert its eyes. It won’t say, “Your disaster is too much for me.”"

I've thought about this idea a lot since then. What it means to really TRY to imagine. So, last night, I really tried. 

I sat and watched the news, and imagined what it might feel like to live in a neighborhood that was gone. I read some articles, and imagined what it would be like to have lost friends, or family members.  I skimmed through some news blogs and imagined what it would be like to have nowhere to sleep tonight, and nowhere to earn money tomorrow. 

And then, I stumbled on these pictures. And I imagined what it would feel like to walk out of a safe room holding my son. I imagined what it would feel like to hold him, and walk through the rubble. I imagined what it would be like to not know where he would sleep that night. What he would eat the next day.

Molly was right. When I let my mind's eye linger, it actually saw something. And it was not comfortable. But it was effective. Because I have been praying all night. All morning. Because now it does feel more real. Now, I feel like I have something and someone to pray for.  I feel like, a teeny tiny bit, I can understand. I can imagine.

These words were printed on our church's Easter bulletin. It's the final verse from a John Newton hymn. The words are beautiful and moving anytime, but they feel especially so now.

Though afflicted, tempest-tossed
Comfortless awhile thou art
Do not think thou canst be lost
Thou are graven on my heart

All thy waste I will repair 
Thou shalt be rebuilt anew
And in Me it shall appear
What the God of love can do.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Now that most of you have come down from your Peep/chocolate bunny/Reese's Peanut Butter Egg/Cadbury Creme Egg sugar high (What? No? Just me? Fine.) I thought it was time to share Henry's Easter photos with everyone.

This post is really for my mom and sisters, who may storm Norfolk with pitchforks and torches unless I turn over the pictures of Henry all dandied up in pastels.  But you know, the rest of you may enjoy as well.

Unless you still haven't recovered from all the Easter candy.
It might be too soon for you.
I would understand.
Easter candy is the best candy.
It would have been wrong not to indulge.
Two or three or four or a million times.

Confession: Once Easter candy arrives in the stores, I get a Cadbury egg once a week. I CAN'T HELP IT! I look forward to them all year. They are the BEST seasonal candy. With yellow Peeps chicks coming in as a very close second, of course.

Okay, okay, here we go...
Henry's first Easter Basket! With a few treats in it for David & I too!! (Note the coffee and 'Reester Bunny')

Henry's own personal Easter egg hunt in the backyard

David tries to drum up some enthusiasm



We tried to explain/show him that the eggs go in the bucket, and you keep looking for MORE...

But he was unconvinced. He had TWO already. He was perfectly content.

The eggs became a plaything for the rest of the day.

Except he continued to refer to them as 'ball' so really, I think we've just confused him in the shapes area.

Easter Family Photo! Not half bad, eh?

Henry got to spend some quality time with his GreatGreat Nanny before heading home and taking a GIANT nap.

Where he dreamed of Easter deliciousness...
And the best moment of his young life, thus far.

Happy Belated Easter, Friends!

I hope the baskets, bunnies, and blossoms of your Easter were overshadowed by the great love of our Savior, and the promise of eternity.
He is risen, indeed!

(Also, I think there will be Peeps in heaven. At the banquet table. Can't wait!)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Of Aunts & Uncles

After we ABANDONED our son for 24 hours to indulge in some culture & romance, we returned to my parent's house to spend some quality time with everyone.  Two of my siblings are still at home, Frank (17) and Annie (14), and because of their youth and unspeakable trendiness they are an amazingly cool auntie and nuncle. (Nuncle = Uncle in our family. I don't know why, it just is.)  So, on Monday while my mom & dad were respectively working and flying home, Henry got some MORE quality time with his Nuncle Frank & Auntie Anne.

But, the best part was, I WAS THERE TO PHOTOGRAPH IT! 

Indoor Pool... sounded like a good idea, still too cold for Henry. :)

Is that safe?

Henry loves Geography!

Nuncle & Nephew

 Kid seriously loves the slide.

Sisters on Swings! Oh, and a baby.

A helping hand.

Victory!! (Why? I don't know.)

We walked over to the town center, where Henry visited his first ever toy store!

And discovered the joys and sorrows of toys that you cannot keep.

Then to Starbucks...

Decisions, decisions.

A belated birthday present!


General happiness!


I know. I know. I KNOW. Apparently, people around here think its okay to go and grow up when you're not paying attention. 

Henry better not be getting any ideas...

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Because this is a short book, this will be a short book review.  But, let's face it, after the last book review, we could ALL use a short & sweet one, yes?

Book 12: The Little Prince, by Antonie de Saint Exupery  (There's supposed to be a thingie over the 2nd e in Exupery, and I'm sure there's a way for me to do it, but I don't have time to figure out that nonsense.)

Can you believe I hadn't read this already?  Neither could I.

LIKE: It was so whimsical. So charming. Everything you might hope for in a classic, french, children's book.  Also, I read it in one sitting, first half in the bathtub, second half in a robe on the sofa. And THAT, my friends, is how to read a book.

NO LIKE: I have nothing to say to you here.

FAV QUOTES: The whole book is so cute and quoteable.  Here are just a few...
Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.

Perhaps you will ask me, "Why are there no other drawings in the book as magnificent and impressive as this drawing of the baobabs?"
The reply is simple. I have tried. But with the others I have not been successful. When I made the drawing of the baobabs I was carried beyond myself by the inspiring force of urgent necessity.

"Goodbye," said the fox. "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
"What is essential is invisible to the eye," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

PIC(S) OF THE WEEK: (Have I ever been able to pick just one?)

MY Apple.

Butt Bump!

I should stop writing captions, huh?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Our Anniversary.

Last year, on our anniversary Henry was 2 weeks old.  I think at some point during the day, David said 'Happy Anniversary' to me, and I said 'Happy Anniversary' back to him. Then I tumbled back into a sea of spitup, nursing, swaddling blankets, lochia, breastpumps, babygazing, and teenytinyittybittynanobits of sleep.

This year on our anniversary, Henry was absolutely miserable with his first ear infection ever. Poor kiddo. We did, however, manage to exchange cards, so a BIG step up from last year.

But, basically, that kid has ruined our past two anniversaries. RUINED, I TELL YOU! But, we forgive him because he is so beautiful and perfect.

We decided to take drastic measures. A couple months ago, we planned a weekend trip, conned my parents into babysitting, and began to dream about what it would be like to be childless and romantic for 24 ENTIRE HOURS.

Our plan was to stay in a bed and breakfast in Leesburg (you know, so we'd only be like 30 minutes away in case Henry like, couldn't BREATHE without me being RIGHT NEXT TO HIM and we had to rush back) tour a couple of wineries, go to a few tastings, walk around quaint downtown Leesburg, have a nice dinner, and fall in love allllll over agaaaaaaaain. (Can you even take me seriously right now??)

But, the weekend before we were supposed to leave, we realized the weather was supposed to be terrible, and one of the wineries we were planning to visit was closed until May. (Boooo) So, because parenthood has made us so extremely flexible, we just made a new plan. We were going to spend the day in DC, get a hotel, tour a bunch of museums, and then dress up and go to a fancy dinner.


So, on Friday we drove up to my parents house and spent the night. And on Saturday, we did it. 

We left Henry with Someone Else.  

I only panicked and cried a TEENY TINY BIT. Geez.  And it was totally reasonable! Because, you know my mom has successfully raised six children and all, but what if she FORGETS what to do! (Oh, the irrationality of motherhood. Sometimes, I am so impressed with myself.)  I'll just jump to the end here, Henry did great, he loved it, he ate great, slept great, went to Annie's dance recital, clapped at everything, went to the pool, splashed at everything, and probably liked it better than being with me anyway.

So, Henry is left in the capable hands of Mama Earl (my mom,) and we are free, we are childless, and we are ready to soak up the culture of DC!!! We headed into the city armed with a list of four museums we wanted to hit, (with corresponding metro stops, of course,) reservations at a great hotel in Chinatown, and reservations at a posh wine bistro for dinner. 

Here's how the day went:
Get to DC. Find hotel and park.
It is too early to check in, decide to get lunch and go to first museum.
Have lunch at awesome Chinese place, where they make the noodles and dumplings right in front of you. Absolutely delicious. Also, they had this green ginger sauce that was to die for. That is all.
Decide to go to National Museum of Crime and Punishment first because a) it is the closest and b) we are both SO excited about it, because we're... well.... a little weird.
Spend 3 hours at C&P museum. It was fascinating.
Go to check into hotel. Hotel is brand new and beautiful. Bed is so big and soft. Accidentally take a nap. A long nap.
Wake up. Decide we would rather go see a movie than soak up culture. WHAT?! We NEVER get to go to the movies anymore!
Go see Limitless.  Totally love, love, love it. Don't misunderstand me- I liked the movie, I LOVED sitting in the dark for two house TOTALLY uninterrupted. I had really forgotten how much I liked going to see movies in the theater.
Movie is over. Decide we do not want to get dressed up and be fancy. Decide we want to go somewhere with fat booths, big portions, and beer.
Go to Clyde's. Love it. 
In the morning, sleep in UNTIL 8:30!!!!!! OH MY GOSH! THIS IS WHAT HEAVEN MUST BE LIKE!!
David goes down and brings us continental breakfasty things to eat in bed. I don't even care what it is, because I AM EATING BREAKFAST IN BED.  Stay in bed watching TV and eating for an embarrassingly long amount of time.
Decide all good things must come to an end eventually.
Race back to parent's house to reunite with Henry in a way that would make you think that perhaps he had gone away to war for a year, instead of just staying with my mom for a night.
The End.

Seriously... it was perfect.  I am a little embarrassed that in the end, I wanted to nap and watch a blockbuster movie instead of seeing art. But, you know, thats what I wanted. 

And, if I were to be honest, the best part of the weekend was that NAP! Well, except for hotel sex, but you know, I try to keep it G rated around here.

Okay, PG-13 at least.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Well guys, I finished a book.  Book Ten. It was Tim Kimmel's Grace-Based Parenting.  I read it very sloooooooowly.  I will tell you why in a minute.

First, I think you should know that I am ditching my usual format today.  I'm leaving behind LIKE, NO LIKE, and QUOTES, in favor of what I can only suppose is going to be a chatty, rambling, winding post.  I personally am drinking a lovely glass (or two) of Reisling that we picked up at Trader J's this weekend.  Feel free to go grab your own adult beverage if you'd like. Because, aside from subjecting you to a rambly post, I'm about to get all theological on your ass.

I am so sorry.

I read this book very slowly. It was because it kept making me mad, and I kept putting it down.  And, normally, I just quit reading books that I don't like.  Really, I do it all the time. It drives David crazy. So why not this time? Because of the stupid 52 book challenge! I can't quit reading books willy-nilly! I have a quota, gosh darn it!  So, I finished it. Which means now, I feel honor bound to write a post wading through what I liked and didn't, what I agreed with and what I don't, what I think is theologically sound and what I think is a liiiiitle off.  Sigh.

Kimmel's book is based on a great idea. Grace-based parenting. Parenting that is based on grace. Not legalism. Not image. Not fear or self-protection. On grace. It's a GREAT idea!

But, I had a few problems with his execution.  

Problem One: Kimmel gives a LOT of power to parents. Too much, in my opinion. I'm not sure if it's intentional, but the language he uses sends a clear message of 'do this, get this.'  Be a legalistic parent, get this kind of kid. Be a grace-based parent, get this kind of kid.  Handle a situation this way, produce this quality in your child.  This kind of discourse bothers me, because it elevates parents to a God-like standing.  It sends the message that if you parent a certain way, you can CONTROL who your child becomes.

It just ain't true.  We all know people, or at least stories of people, who grew up in terrible parenting environments, and turned out to be amazing people, or who grew up with wonderful parents, and turned out to be terrible people.  I'm certainly not saying that the way we parent doesn't have any effect on our children, that it doesn't shape them or encourage the growth (or death) of certain character traits. (Clearly, I think how we parent is important, because here I am, reading and posting on parenting books like a nerdy first-time mommy.) But I DO reject the idea that parenting properly is a foolproof way to produce a 'good' kid.  That kind of mindset puts an unrealistic burden on parents and totally strips God of His power in our children's lives.

Problem Two: And, uh, speaking of 'good kids' that's another issue I had with GBP. Kimmel definitely perpetuates the idea that our kids turn out 'good' or 'bad', which is theologically sketchy, at best.  One of my favorite quotes in this vein was (he's talking to his kid here) "I love you too much to let you continue in this pattern and grow up to be bad."  

Okay. Now, Tim. Listen. We're Christians. We believe in original sin. We're all 'bad,' in the sense that we all sin, we are all selfish, and we all desperately need the grace of God.  The idea that we can parent the 'bad' out of our kids is unbiblical, it attributes way more agency to parents than scripture actually gives, and it sets up a dangerous dichotomy to teach our children that they are either 'good' or 'bad' people.

Problem Three: My last beef with Tim, is in a slightly different vein.  One thing I liked about his book, was that he really encouraged parents to embrace their freedom to make choices that suit their families and their children.  That parenting was not a one size fits all deal.  That we don't have find one 'type' of parenting and jump on their bandwagon completely. He pointed out that the dynamics of different families, different children's personalities, even different relationships within the family may merit different choices in raising children.  THAT'S A GREAT CONCEPT, TIM!!!  We could ALL use a little of this!  We have been given the grace, wisdom, and authority to prayerfully make our OWN decisions for whats best for our kids. And they can change with the situation! With the child! With the season of life! That's a beautiful freedom. But, then, he puts weird restrictions on it.  He makes it a point to say what HE thinks is the best way to feed babies, or to deal with a picky eater, or to discipline a recalcitrant teenager.  Uh, Tim, I thiiiink you missed your own point there, buddy.  That may have worked for you, but you JUST TOLD US that we get to decide for ourselves. Shhhhhhhhh, you're ruining it!

Okay, now that I've got all that off my chest, I can honestly say that there were several other things that I really enjoyed about the book.  
Here's one: 
"The success of our parenting plan rested far more on our personal and daily relationship with Christ than any other factor."

And another:
"Grace understands that the only real solution for our children's sin is the work of Christ on their behalf"

He also does a good job of pointing out common parenting mistakes, and does it in a clear and non-judgy way, which I did appreciate.  He talks about the idea of 'image parenting,' or parenting in a way that is focused on protecting the image of the family or the parents, instead of on the needs of the child.  He also takes a significant amount of time to encourage parents (and all adults, really) to give appropriate weight and merit to children's problems, concerns and emotions instead of writing them off or trivializing them.  He encourages parents to treat their children like people, with an individual personality, with preferences, and skills, and ideas that matter.  Yay, Tim!

Honestly, I feel a little bad for being so down on his book. I do think he's coming from a really good place, and I appreciate any book that is trying to perpetuate the idea of being a parent that focuses on the well-being of your child, while coming from a biblical perspective.  And honestly, for someone other than me, it could be a great read.  If you grew up in a very legalistic home, and are trying to shed that mentality, this book could be groundbreaking.  It might also be a more helpful read for someone in the midst of raising teenagers and struggling with where to draw boundaries.

But, I didn't grow up in a legalistic home, and I'm not raising teenagers (yet) and, well... I'm a little picky about theology, especially in practical application.

So. There you have it. If you haven't read this book, I don't really recommend it. If you read it and loved it, THAT'S AWESOME! WE CAN STILL BE FRIENDS!  If you hated it, come sit next to me and tell me why.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Oh my gosh, where have I been?!?

I will tell you. (Well, I will at least tell you about a weekend's worth of where I have been)

In pictures.

Last weekend, we went to NC to visit Jason & Susan, David's brother, and sister-in-law, and their four kiddos.  Which really means, HENRY GOT TO PLAY WITH SOME OF HIS COUSINS!!

We drove down on Friday, and went to the kids' school, where Henry was slated to be the Show & Tell item in two classrooms. The honor! He took hours deciding what to wear.
Here he is, on display in Anna's classroom:

 And then, in Patrick's.
Both of them did a fabulous job presenting him to the class.  Henry impressed everyone with his stoic 'I don't know you' face, and his ability to remain expressionless for long stretches of time.

After Show & Tell, we stayed for lunch, where Henry considerately ate all of Anna's pizza for lunch, and I responsibly let him. Whoops! Sorry Anna! (That's Jack next to them)

Then, we headed back to the house, for a weekend filled with playtime. Henry loved playing with his cousins, and they LOVED playing with him.

There was cuddling.

There was wrestling. (That's Lily's blonde head peeking in.)

There was peek-a-boo.

There was MORE peek-a-boo.

There was general exuberance and a never-ending flow of toys.

There was a solitary moment with a tupperware of Cheerios.

 And then there were cousins.

There was a solitary moment with a basketball. (OMG, that expression!!!!!!! Right??)

And then there were cousins.

There was a slide!

A slide!

There was a bike!

A bike!

There was also a trip to the park, a trip to a neighbor's chicken coop, and lots of playtime at the house that I failed to document in photographs. I'm sorry!

To make it up to you, I will leave you with this photo of David and Henry watching Saturday morning cartoons. CLEARLY, they are not morning people.
I know. You're welcome.

And, we totally need to live closer to cousins.