Saturday, October 5, 2013

When I'm happy...

  • anytime I'm with my baby girl 
  • anytime I'm with my husband
  • when I'm watching Anne of Green Gables
  • after I've exercised 
  • when I discover a new writer I'm excited about 
  • when I get an unexpected note in the mail from a friend
  • when our apartment is fully clean
  • when I find a new way to save money
  • when I feel God's presence
  • when I feel there's poetry moving through my ordinary moments
  • when my little girl lights up when I walk in the door
  • when she kisses my cheek 
  • when I have time to write 
  • when I give something to someone that truly makes them happy 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Tattler's Branch

It's easy to tell when an author loves her characters. Someone has taken time to ensure they don't say trite things or move in conventional ways. The author has spent time with them, thinking them into full human beings, giving them circumstances in which their humanity raises up or flags under trial. Setting them in a specific time and place. It's wonderful to read a book that has been shaped so lovingly.

Tattler's Branch is a charming and tense read. The laborious opening descriptions of this apparently southern, or simply backwoods, community almost had me moving on, but I stayed in Skip Rock and was glad to meet Lilly. I thought this was an incredibly thoughtful and well rounded character. There was a strength to Lilly that I appreciated, but only because it was coupled with her honest fear in some of the more suspenseful scenarios of the book.

Impressed with her tenderness towards the people in her community I found the revelation regarding Lilly's pregnancies to be particularly touching and well written section of the book. The touching metaphor closing the chapter of this painful loss left me with a lump in my throat. "The breeze teased the petals just out of reach when she bent to pick them up. They danced across the yard and out of sight. Lilly lifted the vase and studied the peonies. They wouldn't last long either, but they were no less lovely, no less significant, for the briefness of their time. She would enjoy them while she could."

The book was more suspenseful than I had expected, but didn't seep into the margins of soap-opera-esque dramatics. I felt the tension of flesh and bone, love and failure, good and evil in every bend of the story. The only course it took towards the end was a little heavy handed in it's hope for Shade's salvation. I didn't think Lilly was out of line when she tells him that "we're all sinners...the ground at the foot of the cross is even", but I wasn't clear that Shade's response was genuinely redemptive. His perspective on things is lost by the end, we don't really know what he's thinking or how he's calculating thing, what's churning inside of him once the story stays with Lilly.

Overall, the story is a charming puzzler and one I would read again. I kept looking for traces of inauthenticity, but the characters feel true and the story is not overblown. The only detraction for me was the cover art. Why in the world would make a period piece and then put a woman on the cover who looks like a model in 2013? The only thing that tells you this might not be a modern-day story is the dress she's wearing. I guess even Christian fiction has to look Vogue.

You can read more from Jan Watson here.

This review has also been posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Blessed Woman (Idea)

I appreciated this book after having to have read a rather obnoxious Christian self-help book for women this summer with my church. I have grown very tired of Christian middle-school topics being pitched to mature Christian women and everyone “loving it”. I was ready for something more grown-up by the end of the summer study and this seemed like a good turn: reading about women of the bible and learning from them. What a refreshing idea!

The concept of the book was appealing to me: finding mentors in the bible when you can’t find them in real life. I don’t think there was anything terribly earth-shattering in terms of biblical study in this book, but it was mostly well written and with some good analysis of the characters. While I found the last chapter a bit trite (and unfair in her categorization and condemnation of Orpah), I did like what Morris had to say about the idea of maturity and leadership, teaching and bringing others along in the journey. In its usefulness I can see this book being more productive as a discussion with other women (utilizing the book study in the back of the book would be a good starting point) where you can ease away from denominational doctrine and boundaries.

Of particular interest were the chapters on Eve for her depiction of a woman without the benefit of a community of women who had gone before her; Mary for her devotion to God while facing an uncertain future; and Hannah for giving her heart’s desire back to God again and again (even when fulfilled).

There were drawbacks to this otherwise benign study: Her criticism of some women appeared to be too harsh. This is only compounded by the last chapter that encourages women not to tear one another down to get ahead. Morris seems fine with tearing down some of the women in scripture to make her points. Also, I don’t know that this book was really written for women who aren’t married with children. Nearly every non-scriptural analogy Morris offered hinged on her husband or children. I am married with a child, but I’d like to think I could offer some teaching from my life that didn’t start off with “So, my husband and I…“ or “when I talk to my daughter…” Further, her constant need to refer to her husband was tolerable in the beginning of the book (frankly, I’d probably write a fair amount about my husband if I were writing about my life), but as the book went on I realized she couldn’t really go that long without mentioning him. It became an annoyance that she didn’t really seem to have much to say that wasn’t about or credited to her husband.

I didn’t know anything about Morris or her husband when I selected this book to read. It had an attractive title, subtitle and inviting cover, so I picked it. Apparently Morris’ husband has a big church in Texas (I’ve never heard of him or his church), but I kind of got the feeling that she assumed everyone knows who her [big shot?] husband is, calling him one of his generations ‘greatest speakers’. I try to avoid biographical information about authors prior to reading their books simply because I believe someone’s work should stand on its own and insecure writers tend to put their pedigree in the pages. I kind of wish Morris’ editor had extracted more of the information plugging their church and her husband’s ministry.

I can say that Morris’ idea was one that I will follow, rather than reading this book again, I think I’ll just take my time and do my own study on the women I find inspiring from scripture.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Monday, August 5, 2013


No artificial sweeteners - check!
Walking three times per week - check!
Eating mostly natural foods - check!
Limiting stress - ummm....

Why is it that eliminating stress in my life feels like playing whack-a-mole these days? I think I can categorize my stress into a few levels:

LOW: every-day to-dos: errands, cleaning, shopping, planning, budgeting... I need to do better about this, but I'm pretty good at it already, so I'm not really sure what else I can do to organized my time around my work and family any better than I already am. The juggling can be a lot to manage.

MED: I am participating in a weekly book study on "She's Got Issues" which I can't say I've enjoyed. I did start off the study enjoying the women in my group, but last week I was really irritated with the talkers taking over. Why must women dominate others?

Being the group leader I feel the pressure to bridge the gap for others, to slow down the dominators and pump up the quieter ones... but I am failing miserably at this. I walked away feeling frustrated at the dominators, but mostly mad at myself for not being able to get a handle on these women. I asked our overall group facilitator to join us for this week to see if she can help reign in this group and get us back on track. It's a failure, but it causes some stress for that reason.

MED: managing myself - the new parameters around food & drink, making sure I'm exercising, taking time for myself... not very good at this last part yet.

HIGH: relationships. Hubby - wonderful; baby- lovely; everyone else - eeeehhhhh. I see my sister a lot during the week and sometimes it can be a bit much to be together so often. Friends - I don't have as much time anymore to call on the phone, get together. I think my best friend from Indiana is miffed at me for not wanting to go on a girls weekend with her. I really just want to be with my little one as much as possible. I can sense she's ticked though. Other assorted questioning, insecurities and nonsense that can be distractingly stressful.

So stress wins as the thing I can't really get a handle on now. I know eliminating stress has a lot to do with just slimming down one's life, but it sure is hard. I hope to get some ideas on this soon.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I've been on a new track for walking/moving during the week. I've also cut out all artificial sweeteners and am in progress with making the change to mostly-natural foods. I've been researching a fair amount of low-cholesterol meals (doc is giving me a few months for my LDL to improve before considering medication).

I've discovered it's not really that hard to avoid processed foods - it does mean getting rid of most of the snacks that I consume at work and making an effort to fill that void with fresh fruits or veggie snacks, but that's something I'm willing to do.

So all of this experimenting will continue for as long as needed, but I will do a weigh in in two months to see if dropping processed foods and sweeteners has made any difference.

I'm also considering a yoga class in a few weeks, but haven't fully committed to that since I have a couple of other obligations to wrap up before then, but I do think I'd like to give that a try.

I am resolved not to join a gym unless absolutely necessary and I would like to talk to a nutritionist, but not the one at my endocrinologist's office. She wasn't really all that pleasant last time, so I only want to bring people on board this adventure who are going to be a great support and influence.

I figure if I can slog through the heat of summer with 3 committed walks per week then I can do just about anything. I need to work on strengthening exercises too for more energy and well, strength.

This post is decidedly un-poetic - just a quick update to see my commitment in print.

Friday, July 19, 2013


Looking back over some of my posts I realized I'm guilty of what I accuse other bloggers of doing - being way too serious and kind of a downer.

So after a bible study on Wednesday where I told the other ladies in my group that I was tired and didn't see a way to get organized in my life and to have time to enjoy my family, I've actually been enjoying my family more.

My sweet girl is on the floor right now, having found the diaper basket (with clean diapers) and is happily hugging them and putting them on her head. she's a master crawler now and is quickly moving all over the apartment. I am glad for these few minutes to watch her completely wrapped up in how fun it is to hold a diaper and play with it. Clean ones, folks.

I am grateful for the prayers of the women who are mentioning my name to God this week. There is joy to be had and I'm going to get back to it. If I don't write enough about it, I'll do better.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Time In

I have had terrible jaw pain lately because I'm clenching my teeth, both during the day and while I sleep. I tried a very expensive mold-at-home mouth guard... woke up with worse pain in a couple of my teeth than the jaw pain ever caused. I know it's stress. I am working 40-45 hours a week, taking care of our baby at night, in a book club at my church on Wednesday nights... errand running, cooking, cleaning... I've never felt like time passed more quickly, yet inefficiently as it has in the last few months.

When I recall what it was like to be home with the baby full time it makes my heart ache. I had oodles of time with her, so I felt like it was OK to take breaks and get other stuff done. Now that I'm working I don't feel like I have that "leeway" to spend time doing other things. I want to be with her as much as possible.

Hubby and I mostly talk about what needs to get done during the week - how were your classes - how was your day... not like we used to. The plan was for me to have time to do something for myself once a week, but that falls by the wayside a lot. Sometimes by my hand, sometimes it just doesn't happen for other reasons.

When I do get time to myself it is hard to concentrate and relax. Relaxing isn't familiar to me anymore. The luxury of losing myself in thought, a good book, or writing just doesn't come easy. If I'm writing it turns into a to-do list; if I'm reading, I find myself re-reading just to make sense of what the author is saying... my thoughts usually turn to just imagining having more money, being at home full-time... things that are not part of our reality right now.

I know my husband probably feels the same about his studies. Cramming as much work into a couple of hours at a stretch has to be hard. He doesn't seem rested any more than I do. His joy seems sapped.

When your heart stretches one way & your life has to be worked out in another ... this feels like the hard part of parenting, hard part of maturing...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Little Observer

Sometimes when driving with my Little One in the backseat things can be pretty quiet. Then over the hum of traffic I hear "oooh ahhhh" or "doooh"... I look back in the mirror, to her mirror, to see a reverse reflection of a sweet little observer. I catch her looking with her brow furrowed up, at the clouds, the trees... My daughter is lovely and I love what I'm seeing in her.

It may just be a baby thing, but I've been around a fair amount of other children lately and I don't see what's happening with this little girl... she's absorbing, thinking, looking... I hope that she's a thinker, a contemplator, a reflective little soul.

It's really a miraculous thing to watch someone grow into awareness of the world around them. What an amazing thing to be a parent.

When to Step Away

I got to close a door in my life recently that has been a source of stress for me for many months. Since my father died my mother has been slow to get the house cleaned up and organized. It's in quite a bit of disarray, my parents both "hoarding" (for lack of a better term). Over the past few years my mother has gotten to blame my father for her lack of productivity and organization.

Now that he is gone it was his "stuff" that prevented her from doing what she wanted to do with the house. She kept saying she was overwhelmed by all of the boxes so "the kids" came in and did everything for her. Then it was our stuff that was the problem. This weekend we spent hours taking our things out.

What was surprising to her, I think, is that the house is still a wreck. She's got so much stuff, so many rooms filled with years and years of possessions that she's not really paid attention to how much she's accumulated. It prevents her from opening her home to anyone, to hosting holidays, to even having her grandchildren over.

So, now that we're no longer to blame, I've stepped away from trying to fix this and being so worked up about it. We've encouraged her to get help, which she's refused. We've even offered to clean with her. She's refused. So it's up to her. She keeps saying she has to be in the right mindset, but I think that's just more excuses and blaming. I've tried to have compassion. I know that some people must look at me and think "man, I wish she'd just get it together and lose weight!", so I know that change is hard especially when people are looking at you doing it. But I don't think she'll be able to do this on her own, so things won't change. And like my Dad's stuff, this will eventually be our problem to clean up.

So much time has been poured into this home that isn't ours, time away from our own families fixing problems that were years in the making... I just kind of came to the realization that sometimes helping people isn't the help they need. So, I'm not closing the door on my mother, just the nonsense of the tangled web she's woven in her house. My own little family needs me and that is where I want to be. I do hope that when she sees that no one comes over, that it's not a place where her grandchildren can play that it will be a motivating force to get going. Honestly, you live your life with all this stuff... what meaning does it have when it lowers your quality of life and relationships...

PS: I am enjoying my post-work/evening walks with Little One. I am also proud of staying away from the trashy snack cabinet at work... baby steps are steps!!! I am taking my own medicine - looking 10 years down the road - where do I want to be and how do I want to be living ... I don't want to squander the time I have now to fix this.

New Things

I'm starting a new thing tomorrow night. I'll be leading a discussion group on "She's Got Issues". I'm not super into the book yet. As I've mentioned before I'm not impressed with the "Am I right, Ladies?!?!" tone of the book and some surprisingly sweeping generalizations about the issues women deal with, but I'm willing to work with it.

I hope that the barrier of tone and topic won't prevent growth. I'm excited to get to know the women in my group. I realized this weekend that while I'm in a position of facilitation I'm really more excited to listen and learn. I've always longed for a wise-female relationship where I can lean on someone who is older, more experienced and cares to guide, not dictate, but to love and pray for a younger generation. Most people get this with their mothers or grandmothers. I didn't.

My sister mentioned last night how worried she was that she was doing things like our mother. I told her to consider this: how we are is kind of like riding a bike. Whatever we're focused on, where our mind/attention is we are likely to follow. If you look over your left shoulder while you're riding your shoulders, arms, and inevitably the bike are going to follow. By focusing so much on not being our mother, is she in a sense turning in that direction.

How we behave is sometimes not up to us - lots of things influence reaction, but mostly we can decide how we want to change and move towards it. I think fixing your eyes on something you love, want to be, or simply what is good, is a great way to avoid some of the inherited unsavory characteristics she's dealing with. Self-awareness is good, but obsession of avoidance of issues can be inviting too much of that in when you're trying to keep it out.

It'll be nice to hear from women with years more experience than I dealing with things kind of like this. Looking forward to it...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Another Snip About Blogs (and the books that follow)

"Am I right, ladies?!?!"

You might think I was at a comedy club, but no, I am reading blogs by Christian women, books by the same and not enjoying every minute of it.

I don't expect to find the "perfect" anything, but I gotta say the new swoop of women preaching the gospel of "everything you do is OK" is a little disturbing. There are bunches of blogs and books out there with this philosophy and it makes me cringe a little when the tone is asking me to implicate myself in all of this mess...

My mother, who is chronically passive aggressive, left me a printout of this blog-post (written by a man) letting parents know that if they yell at their kids, want to hide in closets from them and who generally gripe about the roles they've been given that they're not terrible parents. I disagree. I'm not sure what my mother intended me to get out of this, but what I got was a headache.

Of course the ideal or perfect is not out there and I'm not striving for it. I'm striving for what my baby needs me to be, not what my neighbor's baby needs her mamma to be. I do have a simple focus on my family. Maybe that's unusual, but it's where I'm coming from.

I do think that yelling at your kids, having tantrums, constantly complaining about parenting is bad parenting and we should admit it as such. The distinction I draw is that not all hope is lost if these things do happen. I believe in forgiveness and reconciliation between parents and children and it's the parents who need to model this. What I find is that most parents who are angry, dissatisfied parents got into it for the wrong reasons and are festering in their bad choices because they can't keep their minds and hearts on their little nucleus. They're too busy comparing themselves and their unwitting families to others. Festering dissatisfaction leads to many an unhappy family.

So, you yell, you stop, you get your sorry butt together (a six year old is not your equal, so being her bully is not going to work out so well for either of you), ask her forgiveness, talk about what happened then take your sorry butt to God and ask for help to find a better way.

And if you can't find a better way than yelling and avoiding you need to go find a good counselor. Patting ourselves on the back for bad parenting is not the answer. Acknowledgement of where we fall short is great. Admitting our faults is good therapy. However, when it starts to become the normal way we talk about our lives and our little ones we have left the path of reason.

Parenting is hard, or hadn't you heard? But it doesn't make it easier to have a bunch of women, especially Christian parents, saying "hey ladies, just let it go; you're not perfect, so what of it? It's all about how you feel, not how you make your family feel." Let's just admit it, it IS being a terrible parent to yell at your child, but it doesn't stop there. There has to be a reasonable in-between. The standard isn't perfection, but it should be kindness, love, gentleness... and when you mess that up, you get up and get your forgiveness on.

Am I right, ladies? Am I right? 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Training for Days and Days

I like that my job has evolved lately. I'm growing into new more fun areas, since I've been pretty static in my role for a few years. With new responsibilities comes training. Training means days and days of sitting in a conference room listening to a speaker present on their professional expertise on any given topic. This can be taxing and tiring.

It also means I'm away from my real job, which doesn't wait, just piles up.

I wish there were a more innovative way to train rather than having someone at the front lecture on how do to 489 things in this new role, none of which you're really able to determine really applies to you or not. It feels like a waterfall of information crashing on my shoulders. I like the idea of walking upstream of a brook... I can take my time, catching the information I need as needed.

So, anyway, the training aside it also means I'm sitting for 8 hours a day... ugh. I did well these last few days getting out on little walks, watching what I eat, trying to get some more sleep, but these three days have really worked against me.

I'm excited to take this information, sieve through it and get on with my job. I'm also glad to get back to moving around more regularly (at will) and keeping those calories burning.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bored with Blogs

I used to be a frequent blog reader, now I'm kind of over them. The ones I've read have been entertaining at best, but most of them have turned into overly-popular blogs (turned way cluttered tacky websites) like the Pioneer Woman, or they've gotten too deep and personal (won't mention). Mostly I'm just bored by the middle road.

Maybe you see this blog that way. Not sure where I'm headed yet though, so thanks for bearing with me.

I don't really post so I can win "faithful readers". I write for myself. I guess that's where I have an issue with some blogs I used to love. Either too preachy or too public in their personas, I don't get a sense of the writer anymore - it's just a character. Christian women I've followed tend to just be cheerleaders about life (much appreciated, but not always necessary), others have been frivolous at best, cooking blogs tend to get pretty image driven... and on and on. I'm picky, what can I say?

I'm not sure what I'm looking for in a good blog. The reason I kept up with some was because I felt like I was catching up with a friend every week, very authentic voices, personal, but not confessional (after all we are strangers). I also don't have a great deal of time to read during the week, so it was nice to spend ten minutes reading someone's opinion, recommendation, or reflection of something in their life.

I don't know if I'm not looking hard enough, but I can't seem to find that anymore.

There are no stores, speaking engagements, great personas to be maintained on this blog, I assure you. But I want it to be more than just my space to note life's challenges and whine. I want to feel like I can stretch out like a lazy cat and open up, to write about things that are personal, nerdy, spiritual, or mundane... I want to feel free to write well, and poorly; talk about exercise and the baby; what I'm reading, how I'm voting, what concerns I have about the world I'm in... but I hestitate... I hesitate for weird reasons: people's opinions of me (even though the comments are off); whether I'm really saying anything of interest; Is this a blog people read and pass by... Am I interested in what I'm saying?

I'll keep writing... I'll keep thinking and becoming whatever it is this is going to be.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer Stride

I don't really like hot weather. Warm I can deal with, but hot, sweaty, muggy weather stinks. I love the crispness of winter that brings on apple cider and comfy sweaters, the bite of winter that gets you reaching for long johns and quilts (and your favorite couch cuddler)... so in many ways summer stinks for me, but I am looking forward to a few things:

1) Summer Study on She's Got Issues - something about this looks good. Don't know if it is yet, but I'm excited to dive in.

2) Beach trip: we go to the beach every year, retreated early last year because of a snake outside of the house (eek!!), but this year we're taking the baby for her first trip to the ocean. I'm excited for her to be in the presence of something so great. I only hope it doesn't cause a complete meltdown between the sun, sand and surf... we'll see how it goes!

3) Cleaning Out: we started this task this weekend. We live in a very small apartment and it's easy to have our place taken over by clutter if we let it get away from us. We spent some time cleaning out and organizing closets. At some point you just have to be ready to say "goodbye" to things you don't use or are just using you.

4) Ending Obligation: since my Dad died my siblings and I have had to take care of cleaning out, dividing and donating all of our father's possessions. This is not an easy task, but we are in the home stretch. I hope to, very soon, have this task behind me and have no other need to dig things up again. It can finally be laid to rest.

So summer looks ambitious, but I am looking forward to the challenge of meeting new people and learning in the book study, to enjoying the beach, and finishing the freeing task of clearing out years of baggage.

On Track

I am happy to report that this weekend marked a turning point for me for several things:

Physical activity: I was good about walks, doing stretches and fun little step exercises. It's always good to feel the burn without feeling burned out. Little One enjoyed it too!

Eating: I felt free to not over eat. Does that sound weird? It's not like I have someone standing over me screaming "Eat more!!" after every plate, but sometimes I just am going so fast, I keep going without thinking, stopping and feeling... I felt free to stop before I hit that pain point where my belly says, "you've gone too far".

Health: I have diabetes, and for the first time in 6 months I had a scary high on Friday night, coupled (post-insulin) with a terrible low. I looked at my baby daughter and thought "I will not be this out of control again, for your sake".

I feel incredibly invigorated and excited to give myself the best things that will have me at my best for myself, my husband and daughter. I was listening to a Beth Moore study and the "blue ribbon" commitment to remember your struggle and what you are striving for - I have yet to tie a blue cord on my wrist yet, but it's been on my mind a lot which is just as good when it pushes you in the right direction.

I reflected on my dear Dad, who has been gone for 6 months now... how much would he have liked some years back to repair his health... I have that chance now, as much as I'm able I want to do what I can every day. Only this one day I have to be active, be on track. I don't have to be yesterday or tomorrow. Just today. That's do-able.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Last week our team at work had doughnuts TWICE in a week. I participated. Both times.
My lean, healthy husband had dessert nearly every night. I participated, too.
Our anniversary was Friday. I bought us a cake.

I have the guilty sugary pounds of guilt all over my hands. I have to be hard on myself here. Thinking I have tomorrow to re-start is what got me here in the first place. I am terrible at this. My constant, ever-present, heavy source of failure since I was in fourth grade. I cannot get there like this.

I need to confess simply to put it in front of my own face. Exercise is great, but without shaving off the sugar, I'm stuck.

Mommy's going to go out on a limb and make a promise. Week by week: I will not make excuses that cause me to have something to confess later on. I will make good choices. I will exercise and exercise self-control. I will remember the Mommy I want to be for my little one, the Mommy she needs me to be.

I will do better.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

No Excuses

We just ordered a few items that will make it easier to get out with the baby this summer - no excuses for Mommy to not be willing to take her out in the summer heat on the weekend.

Our little one was a miserable hot box whenever we took her out during the day. We're hoping these things will be helpful:

Meeno Babies "Cool Mee" Universal Bucket Seat Liner:  This will help keep her cool on her back so she doesn't sit in a pool of sweat. 

Cool On The Go - Versatile Hands-Free Personal Cooling Device: This will hopefully work to provide her a little breeze and to keep bugs off of her while we're out and about. 

Clip On Sunshade: Since my husband is obsessed with the UV index and keeping our fair skinned little one protected (she's not old enough for sunblock yet) we decided to try this. It'll provide shade and sun protection. 

We've also gotten some shades for the car, a couple of brimmed hats, and sunglasses which she refuses to wear now. All hoping this adds up to more time outside without a lot of risk and difficulty for Baby. 

It will be nice to move more on the weekends. My weight has been steady, but stagnant - I need to get this off soon. I've started to have pain in my feet and knees, so summer, here we come!!

Might get one of those sunshades for myself! 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Book Recommendations

Been a long time since I've read books that didn't have pictures in them, but here's a quick list of books I've really enjoyed in the last year or so:

Still by Lauren Winner: Beautiful exposition of her life post-mother's death, post-divorce, and in a spiritual lull... thought it was very sensitive and thoughtfully written. I went to a lecture series by her in Charlottesville years and years ago and wasn't super impressed, but I find her writing much more accessible. I'm ready to dive back into her "Girl Meets God" memoir which I got distracted from a long time ago.

A Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet both by Beverly Cleary; Beverly Cleary is one of the most gifted writers of all time. Yes, they are children's books, but beautiful, funny, and heart-warmingly close to home for me. Her real life story is equally well written, very matter-of-fact-ly, but with a lot of heart. A really fantastic woman.

The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma This book has a really simple thesis and it doesn't stray into wild calls to action. Libraries matter, reading with your kids matters. I really enjoyed this daughter-dad reading streak story as my Dad was a fantastic reader in his own right... I will never forget the voice he did for Little Bear from Indian in the Cupboard. I related, and I loved this story.

Baby 411 we've got a lot of baby how-to books and this is the best resource we've got. Hands down.


A crazy week and a full weekend = a need to re-focus. Monday being a holiday we went to a nearby park that has a petting farm. It was fun to see our little baby interact with a baby goat. It didn't last very long though - she was hot and tired and after about an hour was ready for home. We are taking these things for what they are as they come. If family time is 30 minutes, so be it.

Tuesday was a regular day at work, Wednesday we had a team volunteer event all day, Thursday was a team fun event at the river, then Friday I was working from home. Kind of a bonkers week for a girl who really likes predictability and routine. It was fun though.

Physical activity was the name of the game on Wednesday while we worked on painting and working with horses, and a little on Thursday, so I was excited about that. I planned on some this weekend, but it became more of a 'it's too danged hot to go outside' kind of time. I did run errands with the baby Saturday afternoon which was a sweaty mess of a mistake.

So, I begin the week needing to focus again and make time to move. I know that self-control is not a virtue granted or bestowed on people... it's something you practice. Self-control will not happen to me, I have to make it happen.

I've taken meetings today across the company campus, rather than taking meetings over the phone; I'm taking the stairs as much as I can stomach it.

A few days of hauling stuff this week at my parents house (my mom wants all of us to go through my Dad's belongings for her) and I'll be set.

Keeping my head up, moving on.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


In my efforts to start fresh with healthy behaviors and attitudes I've done a couple of key things: committed to more physical activity and started this blog. Doesn't sound like much, but really, it just might be enough to get me over the change curve I need in my life.

I'm excited about this change, figuring it out, writing about it... maybe too excited like looking forward to a vacation a little too much, then it can't possibly meet your expectations... I hope I can keep my expectations for change grounded in reasonably small steps.

One thing I haven't thought a lot about in the midst of all of this planning was making time for grief. My father passed away from an apparent heart attack nearly 6 months ago. It was sudden, unexpected and tore my world apart. I was also eight and a half months pregnant at the time.

I love my father very much. It was never lost on me just what a special person I had raising me. My mother was kind of his antithesis in many ways, so I grew very close to Dad and remained that way for many years. I could talk to him about anything, loved spending time with him, learning from him, even debating with him... he was quick to forgive, quick to laugh and loved those he loved very deeply.

So when my mother called us at 10:30 on the last Friday in November I knew something wasn't right. My husband took the call in another room and while he was on the phone a feeling came over me "He's gone..." I knew it, somehow. I didn't have a premonition or a vision, but I knew. It wasn't until my husband confirmed it "That was your Mom. Your Dad passed away tonight" Those words still tear at my heart when I think of them. It was over. He was gone. I would not hear his voice, hear him laugh, see him smile... Then the sinking feeling washed over me when I thought about my daughter: He won't see her... she won't know him.

I think I was in shock for about three days straight, then was in "mothering" mode for my family around me. We made the arrangements, I wrote the obituary, worked on the order of service, wrote his eulogy, contacted family... there's so much to do when someone dies. I also had to continue to work, make all of my doctor's appointments and prepare for the baby.

There was a little time for mourning, but not much. Especially when Baby came, our lives were so different and she needed us to be fully present, if not fully awake. I couldn't take time off to go have the breakdown I do desperately wanted. The loss of my father was worth tearing my hair out over, sitting in sackcloth and ash, rending of garments would have been completely appropriate. But none of that happened.

This week my grief came due... two weekends of family events, where his absence was so present... how could we all just be moving on? How could my daughter possibly be growing up in a world where he isn't here? To be alive is an amazing thing. There is no substitute for it. There is no angelic third presence between alive and dead that we get to occupy. It is stark and terrible and painful, this loss. He would have loved her sweet face, her blueberry blue eyes, her chubby little legs.

Time heals nothing. I can attest to that. Busy-ness cures nothing. Grief will have it's way. If there was ever true Love it requires mourning when it's gone. I need to wade through this heartache I've avoided for so many months. I unwillingly started that this week. I got out of the shower Tuesday night and cried so hard my eyes were still swollen and dry the next morning. How this ties to my goals for myself is that I don't think moving forward is possible with unresolved issues, un-repented wrongs, un-grieved heartache. I don't think it will ever stop coming completely, but for now I'll be giving in, wading through, and wait for the healing.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Who She Needs Me to Be

I have never in my life been more concerned with who I am than since my little girl was born. I don't know if this is a common feeling among women or not. I don't really feel a "societal" pressure to be a particular type of mom, nor do I have to be the mother of all mothers... I just need to be my Baby's mom and do the best job I'm capable of doing.

I had a conversation with an acquaintance years ago who was "trying to figure out women"... I listened to him talk for a long time about how difficult things were, then I said, "You don't have to figure out women, you have to figure out YOUR woman."  I think it was a real moment of clarity for him to be released from the self-inflicted burden of understanding all of woman-kind in order to make one relationship work. Honestly, are our lives complex, or do we make them that way?

Focus on what matters, what impacts your world.

So, I've been looking at myself a little differently these past few months. My lens includes new questions among many others: What does my baby need from me? Who does she need me to be?

I've got some answers:

  • Healthy: obviously I need to drop weight, manage my health better overall to be here with her and so she won't pick up my bad habits that will become burdens in her own life.
  • Smart: My daughter needs to see me thinking things through, praying, listening, deciding what the best option is. If I do this, she'll learn to do the same. 
  • Loving: I want her to know every single day that she is loved and she is welcome. She belongs right where she is and we are grateful for her.
  • Forgiving: Mistakes will be made. Forgiveness is a gift to the whole family. We have this policy in our marriage - once it's forgiven, it's gone. It makes for a much happier present and a more promising, joyful future. Mistakes will happen, amends will be made, then we move on. 
  • Playful/Creative: I can't imagine not having time to just be silly and enjoy each other, to explore and create together. This kind of joy can't be replicated by other means. 
  • Weak: She needs to see me screw up sometimes, to be honest about my struggles, to seek out the right path. Being strong all the time is no attribute, it becomes an impossible standard that breeds insecurity. 
  • Satisfied: Constant complaining, comparisons, and criticisms don't make for happy people or a happy home. Most of us have more than what we need on any given day, we have people who love us and resources to help when we're coming up short. 
It's interesting to think of who I am and how I can grow to meet her needs as a mom. Maybe more later on what I've missed not having a Mom with a Mission... 

Moving and Not So Much Moving

So, I've got a re-committed eye on exercise, but I am struggling to get in a groove. We went out last night with Baby on a walk (first non-rainy day in awhile). I do get out sometimes, but it's the Monday Muscles that remind me that my short weekend of activity is considerably more than I get during the week.

Because it's important I am going to take a walk when I get to work in the morning, then I have to go to silly lengths to make sure I'm moving enough during the day. Sending documents to copiers on the other side of my building, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, checking the weather by literally walking downstairs and going outside... you have to do these things when you have an office job.

I also realized, holding my Baby on our walk last night, that my upper body strength is pathetic. I need to build up and get stronger to keep up with this little one. I'm sure there are a million little things I could do, but the one that makes the most sense is to just lift weights on a regular basis.

Getting it all on the calendar... getting it integrated into my life... I'm getting there.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Weekend Time

Blink.Back at work.

Two full days at home and I have little recollection of where the time went. Sure, yesterday was easy: Church for my niece's baptism, then a three hour nap, in laws coming over for a visit, but what did I do with the rest? I struggle to find time to get all of the little things done like dishes, laundry, grocery shopping that don't infringe on my already limited time with my Little One.

I look at the weekend on Friday afternoon and breathe deeply thinking this time the time will go satisfyingly slow enough for me to catch up on all my errands, spend loads of time with Baby and Hubby, and still get myself together before the week starts again.

Time has become a difficult thing to manage in the last month. I've always been good at coordinating our household efficiently. I could fit 5 hours of work into 2 if I wanted to - I was a marvel at errand running, cleaning, organizing... now falling behind. It doesn't stress me out as much as it just feels disappointing that I can't somehow stand between the brick walls of 8am Saturday morning and 10pm Sunday night and, with my superhero arms, push those barriers out to three or four days.

It's challenging too, how much of our time is pressed upon by others. Sitters that linger once I get home, my mother in law wants to come over a lot since she doesn't have anything to do during the week, family get-togethers in a season of birthdays, christenings, mother's and father's days... I like seeing other people, but then our time alone with Baby gets gobbled up. I have a consistent feeling of "didn't I just see you yesterday?" every time I turn around. Time management isn't rocket science, but it definitely feels like working on a rubik's cube - trying to get all the little parts to line up 'just so'... Starting with this weekend I think it's best to change one element at a time rather than working with all of the little pieces:

So, after two weekends loaded with extended family stuff, I'm putting our little family in quarantine for awhile. I don't yet know how to shoo off the sitters respectfully once I get home, but I'll figure that one out later. I just want quiet - no grandma voices, no other kids around, no big travel plans, just our little nest of three. I'll have to start planning the week and errands to work around that so our weekends can be more relaxed. I think my short term strategy may be to do errands before the Baby wakes up in the morning, if I can.

We'll see how it goes.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Books I'd Like To Get To

I love reading. I do. I just don't do it very much anymore. Honestly, with a job and family, it's all I can do most days to remember to put on deodorant (you're welcome). I was an English major in college and got my MA in English Lit - love writing, reading, listening to books... anything that's good and gets my brain rolling, I'll take it. 

I haven't found the balance yet with getting books back in my life without feeling like a neglectful mother. I'm away from my sweet girl all day and then I go read for a couple of hours? Nope. I think my short term strategy will be my lunch hour at work. 

Here's what I'd like to get off my shelf and into my brain: 

Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

What Women Fear by Angie Smith

Bebe Day by Day by Pamela Druckerman 

She's Got Issues by Nicole Unice

I'm going to start with Quiet at work next week (since it can be applied to the workplace I won't feel quite so weird about it) and see how it goes. 

Meanwhile, I've gotten Little One some of the board books by Baby Lit. So far in the collection: Pride and Prejudice; Sense and Sensibility; A Christmas Carol. Got my eyes on Jane Eyre next. She's reading better than I am these days!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Looking Forward

I find that when I am struggling with being "good" with food, with exercise, with anything really, it's helpful to remember where I'm headed. I'm a visual thinker so it's good for me to peer into the future and see myself healthy with my little one running around, enjoying a Mommy who can play hard and isn't pooped all the time.

So, I'll keep that mental picture in mind as I grocery shop after work today. It's very easy to give into temptation (especially when you're shopping hungry) and if I have to think twice about an item it's likely I shouldn't get it at all.

If the ice cream isn't in my house, I can't eat it. If the picture of where I want to be is in my head I can't deny today matters for tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow.

Mommy's going to get there.

On Walks

I did take Baby out on a walk yesterday and it felt good to get out and move. I realize I hadn't done it in awhile and my knees hurt now, so it's a nice reminder to keep moving and work out the kinks. I think a daily walk after work will be good for both of us.

I didn't think of 35 walks after all. I tried and did think of a few, but my mind drifted instead to the people I walk with. The special or monumental moments of walking side by side with someone in joy, despair, or just ordinary sweetness. My father walking me down the aisle for my wedding, my husband escorting me on the way back; my sister and her baby walking with me and mine when they were just weeks old; my husband walking in the door with me as we brought our baby home from the hospital. Walking in the door to my parents house shortly after my father died...

There are some walks you don't forget. I want our little girl to remember our walks (especially when she's actually doing the walking!) as times where we had good conversations about the world around us, about what she's thinking, about who we are as a family.

Somehow exercise doesn't seem so bad when I think about it like that.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


When I get home tonight I am going to kiss my baby, make sure the chicken is thawed for dinner tonight, then pack up the baby for a walk. I will walk for at least 30 minutes. I won't think about the minutes, I will think about the walks I've been on. I'll try to think of one for each of my 35 years. Well, I don't know that I can recall the first few years, but I'll imagine.

So, that's my commitment for tonight. One walk 35 memories. If none pop up I'll make them up.

Get out, get moving with the one(s) you love.


Since Baby was born I have been determined to be(come) healthy. Of course the first month or so after she arrived I was just determined to take care of her and sleep as much as possible. No real lofty goals beyond that. Now that we're five months in I have felt a renewed sense of purpose when it comes to my health.

Being diabetic I was closely monitored throughout my pregnancy. Delivering a healthy baby meant taking care of myself - something I'm not especially good at. Already being overweight it was a mandate from my OB to not gain more than 20 pounds during my pregnancy. I think gained 21 pounds to be exact. So much for perfection.

Within a few weeks of delivery I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight. Weight of fluid & baby alleviated soon after delivery and then not eating a great deal when we got home (sleep over food) meant that the weight was gone without a great deal of effort on my part. Now the tough part starts. The rest of the weight. I am genetically pre-disposed to diabetes (check); high blood pressure (not yet) and other assorted issues that might be significantly reduced if I were to lose weight.

The tough part for people who have been overweight most of their lives is that losing weight is a losing battle. It's a territory of failure. It's pounds and pounds of wasted effort, guilt, and emotion that not only don't get rid of the pounds for good, but usually a few more are added on for good measure.

But now I can feel the future coming and how this is going to impact my life with Baby. She's getting to be so active. She's rolling over, and will be crawling soon. I need to be able to keep up with her, keep pace and enjoy her. I don't want to be the mom who has to take a break every few minutes and watch her play from a bench. I want to be in everything with her... not really possible in my current state.

Activity is tough since I've been back to work. On leave I could take her on walks everyday, and was active just keeping up with all of the chores and day to day tending that the Baby needed from me. I felt good and felt like a more positive person, too. Now, back at my desk and with tons of snacks around I find the sluggish sloth returning.

So, with longevity as my goal I would like to drop 50 pounds in the next 6 months. I've set goals like this before and failed. But when I think about what kind of Mommy I want to be, it's worth the try.

Wish me luck.


First post - always weird.

Like going to parties where you don't know anyone, introducing yourself over and over to strangers, trying to make yourself sound like-able and impressive... beginnings are difficult.

I don't have a complex thesis for this blog. I like to write, and I don't do it enough. I have things in my life that I'd like to change and I need some anonymity to think openly about those little journeys. I also don't really want to hear a lot of feedback so I've turned off the comments on this blog for now. I just want to clear my throat and talk without interruption, without encouragement or criticism and see where this takes me. I don't want to be distracted by "hits", "likes" and opinions of any sort.

My impulse to write this blog comes mostly from being a new mom. I've just gone back to work, and life is full and good. But my weight is too high, my schedule jam packed, I miss my baby, and my spiritual life frays at the edges. So, I want to get healthy, get it together and go deeper - not just because I have a husband and child, but because I want my life, including my family, to be full bodied. Time passes so quickly and I want my time to be meaningful. It's likely it'll only be meaningful to people in my life, but still, that's something.

So, if you're interested, welcome to this place. It's a beginning.