Thursday, October 31, 2013

The End of 31 Days, But Not the End of Awesome.

The challenge was to write on one topic, each and every day, for the entire month.


If you're familiar with Pink Dryer Lint, you know that I've never been skilled at sticking to one topic.  This month I've written about my relationship with running, my thoughts on Chinese food, and my love affair with organized closets.  I've told you how I've rediscovered appreciation for watching my children sleep and how I'm casting my burdens, whether heavy or light, to the Lord.  I've shared about being busy, slowing down, and making things right with my kids during those days when everything goes wrong. 

In a nutshell, this month of blogging has yielded 31 posts about everyday life -- the messy, mundane, and glorious everydayness -- just as I promised.  I'm so grateful that you've joined me.

Today marks the end of the 31 Day Challenge, but it's not the end of awesome. 

To close the month, I'd like to ask something of you, if you're willing.  I'm issuing an invitation to un-lurk.  If you're a regular reader -- hey, even if you're a new reader -- would you leave a comment to introduce yourself?  Granted, this isn't as cool as getting together and chatting over a nice slice of chocolate cake, but I'd sure love to hear from you!

If you've missed a day along the way, feel free to review this archived list of each post from the 2013 Everyday Awesomeness Challenge.  (Three cheers for archival accuracy!)

Day 01: Introduction to 31 Days of Everyday Awesomeness
Day 02: Busy, and not proud of it.
Day 03: They Talk. And Talk. And Talk.
Day 04: Battles They Have to Fight
Day 05: Ships in the Night
Day 06: Getting Ready for Grandparents
Day 07: Even computer wires benefit from some modesty.
Day 08: Think About and Emulate
Day 09: Nature's Most Exquisite Act
Day 10: Time You Enjoy Wasting Is Not Wasted Time
Day 11: My House Normally Doesn't Look Like This
Day 12: Homecoming: On Being a Tourist in Your Own Town
Day 13: The Simple Pleasures of a Fall Afternoon
Day 14: Accountability Works for Me
Day 15: I Had Forgotten
Day 16: Fried Rice is an Invasive Species
Day 17: Premature
Day 18: Whether Your Burden Be Heavy or Light
Day 19: A Winning Combination
Day 20: What I Most Want My Children to Learn
Day 21: The Winner: Hello Kitty Bingo
Day 22: What Could I Accomplish If I Didn't Fritter?
Day 23: Preparing for the Dryness
Day 24: The Injustice of Justice
Day 25: First Lost Tooth
Day 26: Showers of Blessings
Day 27: My Relationship with Running: An Adolescent Romance
Day 28: Casting Cares
Day 29: Cropping Life
Day 30: We Finally Got It Right at 8:05 p.m.
Day 31: You are here.  (And I'm so glad that you are.)

Thank you for reading, my friends!  It's a pleasure to share these pieces of life with you, wherever you may be.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

We Finally Got It Right at 8:05 p.m.

We all have days when we're not the best versions of ourselves.  The same goes for our kids. 

Unfortunately, you're in for rough time if all members of your household cash in their "worst version of themselves free card" on the same day, like some catastrophic alignment of bad moods, surliness, exhaustion, impatience, and hormones.  (As Anne Lamott once wrote, "The more I think about it, the only reason various societies work is because we’re not all depressed at the same time.”)

My daughters and I recently had one of these days -- a lengthy and draining endeavor where everyone was off  from the moment our feet hit the floor.

I couldn't wait for bedtime.

During the evening hustle of giving baths, signing a forgotten permission slip, brushing teeth, and breaking up an argument about whether someone really meant to spit their toothpaste on someone else's hand or whether it was merely an accident, I stopped cold.

It wasn't too late to fix the day.

When each girl finally had climbed under the covers, I moved between the rooms, visiting each bed, stooping down to give hugs, brushing hair away from foreheads, rubbing backs, and offering goodnight prayers.  Individually, I apologized to each girl for my bad attitude and sharpness throughout the day.

Reese wrapped her arms around my neck and squeezed as she said, "I'm sorry, too."  Brooke whispered into the dark, "You're a good mommy, Mommy."  Kerrington reached toward my face, cupping it with both of her hands in a way that removed any traces of the day's lingering sting.

We finally got it right at 8:05 p.m. 

God's mercy isn't just new every morning; it flows through the nooks and crannies of hard afternoons and rough evenings, too.

It's never too late to start a day over.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cropping Life

Recently my children have taken an increased interest in cooking. My oldest daughter, in fact, wants to be a chef. She doesn't get this from me. I simply want meals that everyone in my household will enjoy to miraculously descend upon our kitchen table at dinnertime without much forethought or preparation on my behalf. 

A woman can dream.

For the past the several afternoons, my two younger girls have stationed themselves at the kitchen island to concoct their creations. Being the good mother that I am, I grabbed my camera to document the experience. (And the chef hat. Primarily the chef hat.)

I stretegically positioned myself to capture a close-up of their faces. I didn't want too much of the refrigerator to show.


I changed angles to depict their intense concentration.


When reviewing this particular photo, one of the first details I noticed was the open drawer in the background. Momentarily, I considered returning to the kitchen, closing the drawer, and snapping another picture. The girls were still cooking, after all.

But that would have been cheating.  That would have been altering life to capture it in a way in which it doesn't actually exist, a world in which drawers never are left ajar. 

If we're being entirely authentic, a photo that showcases my kids actively mangling various pieces of fruit ought to have an open drawer or two.

Whether through my subjective angling during photo shoots or my editing afterwards, I wonder if I sometimes crop out the most interesting parts of the pictures: the common objects that I take for granted, the messes that I want to pretend don't exist, the background details that reveal our current life as it actually is. 

Maybe I need more pictures of the refrigerator, not fewer.  Maybe I ought to be remembering the calendar with its crossed-off days and the tempera-painted crocodile that my three-year-old made in preschool.  


Maybe I should be documenting the birthday party invitation, and the Cinderella coloring page, and the soccer snapshot, and the school menu clamped to the side.  Maybe I shouldn't crop out the paltry bag of bread on the counter (even though it only contains the two unwanted heels), or the lantern that Joel took from our shed so he could position it on the stairs for safety while playing a game of hide-and-seek in the dark with the girls.

Years down the road, perhaps the pictures that speak to me the most will be the ones that provide a realistic glimpse into the ordinary stuff, the ones that so easily could have been cropped.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Casting Cares

Cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you.  This is the promise of Psalm 55:22.  I've been meditating on the word cast, which means to throw with force, to drop, or to shed.

My husband and I are friends with a fly fisherman.  His mornings on the stream are repetitive exercises of casting out and reeling in his line.  Out and in, out and in, out and in.  A fisherman never casts just once.


Our God is gracious and patient.  We can approach him and forcefully throw our cares his way, hurling them, shedding their weight.  If we're prone to reel our fears and worries back, we may need re-cast them, perhaps multiple times any given day.  Again and again, we can cast our cares until we finally reel in something good, until the end of our line has caught peace, not emptiness or disappointment.

Today, I choose to cast my cares upon the Lord.  Let 'em go.  Hurl them.  Shed them.  Toss them forcefully.  In return, He sustains me.

What a beautiful exchange.
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Image compliments of Ranch Seeker (flickr.com)

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

My Relationship with Running: An Adolescent Romance

Several weeks ago, I wrote that I've signed up for another half marathon.  Even more than paying the race registration fee, announcing my decision on the blog has clinched the reality that I'm willingly training to run thirteen miles.  In December.  In central Pennsylvania. 

Slap me, would you?

This afternoon I ran ten miles at a respectable pace, not only marking the first training run when the mileage has crossed into double-digits, but also providing me with a confidence boost.  (As warped as this claim used to sound before I began distance running, it's true: if you can run ten miles, then you can run thirteen.)

That being said, if you love running, this post is for you.  If you hate running, this post is for you.  Much like an adolescent romance, my own relationship with running is somewhat complex, marked by on-again, off-again inconsistency and periodic swells of great affection.

That being said, in no particular order, here are my thoughts on running:

1) There are graceful, attractive runners.  I'm not one of them.  I'm steady and consistent and determined, but there's no glamor involved.  I'm definitely not like this guy in the maroon shirt, who defies reality of what people should look like when they run a marathon.


Incidentally, do you think maroon shirt guy and this running back are related?


Seriously, photogenic guys, you put the rest of us to shame.  This more accurately describes me:


2) I appreciate that running isn't graceful or attractive.  The other afternoon, for example, I was caught in an unexpected rain storm during a mid-afternoon run.  Do you know how freeing it was to run outside in the rain, unencumbered?  No umbrella.  No concerns about my frizzing hair.  No expectations to be presentable or pulled together or polished.  I need more of this.

3) Boredom is the chief reason I want to quit running.  During long runs, I often interview myself.

"Are you dying?"  No. 
"Are you in danger of passing out anytime soon?"  No. 
"Are you still capable of drawing breath?  Yes. 
"Then what's your problem?" Well...

And that's when I realize that I get bored with the whole one-foot-in-front-of-the-other routine, which, admittedly, is inanely repetitive.  It also leads me to number four.  (And number five.)

4) Running brings out the best in me.  There's much to be said for overcoming discomfort and boredom in order to reach a goal.  My legs might be sore after a run, but the pleasure of accomplishment wins.  When I run, I think and pray and worship.  I thank God for a heart that beats, for legs that move, for a body that's capable of being pushed.  I notice the beauty of my surroundings -- even the recent extreme chill that's settled over our state, knowing that I wouldn't be seeing or experiencing them unless I was outside running.

5) Running brings out the worst in me.  Long runs -- especially the runs during which I'm struggling -- trigger OCD-related tics.  I begin counting items: mailboxes, trees, street signs, seconds as they tick by, my steps, my breathing, my intelligence.

6) When I see another runner who is moving at a faster pace than I am, I automatically assume that I'm going a farther distance.

7) When I'm moving at a faster pace than another runner, I automatically assume that I'm awesome.
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Images compliments of littlerunningteacher.com, deadspin.com, and weknowawesome.com.

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Showers of Blessings

Earlier this afternoon, I hosted a baby shower for a dear friend of mine. She's expecting her first baby, a girl. It feels like a different life when I sat in her place, opening packages and examining various pieces of baby paraphernalia that I assumed I would probably need, even if I didn't know their purpose at that point in time

An amazing journey lies ahead of her.


What warmed my heart the most, besides the cupcakes with hot pink icing, was the outpouring of diverse support: the friends who traveled from out of town, the college girls who pitched together to buy a gift, the young moms and the older grandmothers in attendance.


We're not alone in motherhood. We've got community to draw upon -- some following behind us cheering us on; some keeping our same pace, and others farther ahead serving as examples.

Thank God for the support and love that surrounds us, regardless of where we are in our journeys.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

First Lost Tooth


Let it be known that a tooth has been lost in this household! 

Let the child celebrate!  Let the mother who gets squeamish at the sight of a severely wiggly tooth rejoice!  And, most importantly, let the tooth fairy remember to show up.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Injustice of Justice

My oldest daughter, now eight, recently came to me with a request.  "I've finally saved up enough money to buy high top sneakers. Can we please go to Justice today so I can buy them?"  (The request may also have involved a great deal of hopeful hand-wringing.)

I still recall the first time I entered Justice.  After gaining my bearings amidst the proliferation of peace signs, glitter, and neon, I had one thought cross my mind: I'm not ready for this stage of parenting.  A second thought came close on its heels: this store makes my teeth hurt.  The animal prints, the conflicting patterns, the music, the slogan-strewn shirts, the overwhelming saturation of pinks and purples -- the entire store, in fact -- seems calculatedly fabricated to incite dizziness, cloud judgment, and dull reasoning until you're deluded into thinking, "Oh, a storewide 40% off sale... that's a novel thing..."

But there was something so genuine about my daughter's request.  She had saved up her own money, after all, ferreting away loose change and the occasional dollar bills that had been tucked into cards from grandparents and relatives.  So, we went.

Originally, she gravitated toward pair of hot pink high tops decked out with plaid and lace.  I gently talked her down from that ledge, and she then turned her attention to these sneakers, which are downright neutral in comparison. 


She carried them to the counter, paid with a combination of coupons, coins, and scrunched up dollar bills from her change purse, and carried her package home proudly.

I thought that this story was finished at this point.  I really did.  But later that day, a loosely-formed question flitted across my consciousness. "Reese, we were just near the mall earlier this week, so why did you wait until yesterday to tell me that you had saved enough money?"

"Because I didn't have enough money until yesterday."

Gears started spinning. I couldn't recall any opportunity for her monetary advancement in the previous 48 hours. "So, how did you get the extra money?"

"Oh, that's simple. I sold Brooke some stuff."

I felt my eyebrow involuntarily rise. "What stuff?"

"You know, that bracelet that I just broke.  She always liked that bracelet."

I'm not sure I want to know, but I'm compelled to ask anyway. "How much did you charge her?"

"Just eight dollars. Maybe nine."

Safe to say, we've now had a brief lesson on the ethics of extorting younger siblings.  You know, it's all part of taking small steps to prevent further injustices at Justice.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Preparing for the Dryness

The past few nights, I've made a conscious effort to pamper my hands with lotion and Burt's Bees Cuticle Cream.  (I love this stuff!)  It's an effort to prevent what happens annually: the onslaught of dry, cracked hands. 

When winter arrives, I'm typically playing defense and trying to repair my damaged skin, but what if I focused instead on proactively maintaining my skin right now?  What if I could stop the problem before it starts with just some foresight and diligence?

I want to practice this in other areas of life, too.  I'm looking for ways to guard my rest, my health, my exercise, my devotional time, and my relationships even before they're damaged or threatened.

Being proactive is better than needing to restore.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What Could I Accomplish If I Didn't Fritter?

I've been thinking about my habits.  It's safe to estimate that I spend an hour each day on maintenance and shuffling -- namely, picking up stuff and putting it back in its place, then picking up more stuff and putting it back in its place, and then noticing even more out-of-place stuff that needs to be picked up and returned to its rightful place.

It's a never-ending cycle, one that fritters away both time and energy.

I've read research suggesting that office workers are significantly less productive when they frequently check their email.  Instead of completing larger tasks, these workers are slaves to their inboxes, fragmenting otherwise open blocks of time with continual interruptions until their day is sucked dry.  The experts suggest a solution: devoting one block of time during the work day to read and respond to messages, and then signing off from email until the next day.

What if I applied this practice at home, too?  What could I accomplish if I didn't fritter away my time on meaningless tasks that, essentially, will need to be redone the next hour?

Well, I probably could accomplish some actual work.  Or, I could kick my feet up and read a magazine without feeling the compulsion to clean and arrange ALL! THE! STUFF! repeatedly.

When I think of frittering, I think of a fidgety squirrel darting to and fro between squirrel-related tasks.  I've never seen a squirrel lounge. I've never seen a squirrel in a state of rest. Squirrels reside in a state of perpetual nervous tension. They're jumpy. They're agitated. They're kind of twitchy.

I don't want to be a squirrel.  I don't want to fritter away my time and strength on stuff that doesn't matter.  I'm advocating neither laziness nor complacency, just the art of learning to rest.

Perhaps I simply need a little less of this:


and a little more of this:


Images compliments of Doug88888 and Richie Preiss (flickr.com)
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Monday, October 21, 2013

The Winner: Hello Kitty Bingo

Admittedly, I have short stamina with certain games.  Don't Break the Ice creates suspense, but setting up takes longer than actually playing a round.  A game of Uno Attack is unpredictable.  You think you're almost finished, but then one press of a button tosses a dozen additional cards into circulation and generates another 30 minutes of playtime.  Imaginative play with dolls reduces itself to vapid, arbitrarily constructed, exclamatory dialogues that drain the creative life-force from me.

Doll One: "Hello! My name is Emily. How are you?" 

Doll Two: "Good! My name is Sarah. How are you?" 

Doll One: "Good!"

Twenty minutes of playing with dolls can span a minor eternity.

But Hello Kitty Bingo?  I can handle Hello Kitty Bingo, which is good because my youngest daughter wants to play it ever single day, multiple times per day.


So, this is what I did for nearly an hour this afternoon before my two older daughters returned from school, and it's also the reason that I don't have a more substantive blog post for the day.

Hello Kitty won out. 

Or, more accurately, my daughter won out.  Or, perhaps most accurately, she and I both won out.  After all, thirty-one days of blogging about everyday awesomeness means that more emphasis should be placed on discovering the awesome bits tucked within the daily minutia, than on the blogging itself.

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

What I Most Want My Children to Learn

When I think of all that my children will need to learn in order to understand and navigate this vast world, my vision blurs.  What a long road ahead of them -- learning to read, to ride a bike, to add and subtract fractions, to tell time on an analog clock, to conjugate verbs, to memorize the state capitals, to survive middle school, to parallel park, and one day to leave home voyage out on their own.

So, so, so much to learn.

I want my children to learn the value of hard work and perseverance.  I want them to learn not to fear failure or rejection, not to compare themselves with others, and not to gauge their worth based upon narrow metrics like their popularity, appearance, or performance.

I want them to learn these same lessons I've struggled to learn over the years, understanding that they'll face their own challenges when internalizing them.  (After all, some degree of struggle seems to be an integral part of the learning process.)

But if I could simplify what I most want my children to learn, it all points to one thing -- actually, to one person.  I want them to learn the unparalleled freedom found in a relationship with Christ.  I want them to experience the paradox of how losing your life -- your rights, your say, your wants -- allows you to find your life in the truest sense. 

It's counter-cultural.  It's revolutionary.  It's misunderstood. 

It's also glorious. 

Each day, I relearn this, often because I mess matters up on my end.  I focus on myself, my agenda, my issues, my hurts, and my hang-ups.  This never works.  But on those days when I ask God to make his priorities my priorities, all the other pieces fall into place.  The result is peace -- not striving, not angst, not stress, not confusion.

It's not just my children who have so, so, so much to learn.  It's me, too.  How wonderful to have a patient, faithful teacher who walks with you every step of the way.

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Winning Combination

There are many normal combinations of foods that get eaten in our household: peanut butter and jelly, chips and salsa, cheese and crackers, and on special occasions, Oreos and milk. 

Of course, because one of my children possesses an abnormal palate and little culinary inhibition, we also encounter several abnormal food combinations that make me shudder.  At this point in parenting, I mostly look the other the other way and wash my hands of the situation.  (I mean, I wouldn't choose to dip my grapes in ketchup, but that doesn't mean my three-year-old can't appreciate it, right?  There are bigger battles to fight than choice of condiments.)

That being said, let me pay tribute to a winning combination that I discovered last year, which arguably, was 34 years too late.

Have you ever eaten Honeycrisp apples with caramel dip?


This discovery has ruined me.  I might never be able to go back to eating regular apples again.

Incidentally, my three-year-old daughter doesn't like the pairing.  I'm okay with this for only one reason: more for me.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Whether Your Burden Be Heavy or Light

This is my work bag. When I set it on the passenger seat as I'm driving to campus, it triggers the fasten seatbelt light. It bursts at the seams with my binder, books, and paperwork. Rarely can I zipper it closed.

If my bathroom scale is accurate, it weighs 16.7 pounds.


This is my three-year-old's tote bag. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, she carries it to pre-school. It typically contains two or three pieces of paper. (Four on a rigorous coloring day.)


Each time I pick her up, I ask if she'd like me to carry her bag for her. The tote isn't heavy, but she's willing to relinquish it, to hand it over, to become even less encumbered.  She releases control entirely, and because of this, she walks in complete freedom.

I learn so much from her example. I think of how I've held onto heavy burdens, collapsing under their weight. I think of how I've clung to light burdens, certain I can handle them, disregarding the gradual fatigue that festers into exhaustion or discouragement.

Through a mere tote bag, my daughter has reminded me that the burdens we carry through life -- the excess baggage of hang-ups, hurts, and failures; the complex problems that we arrange and rearrange in our minds -- aren't ours for carrying.  As a follower of Christ, I'm reminded that it's not only my privilege, but also my responsibility, to relinquish my cares, my heart, my thoughts, my attitudes, my behaviors -- essentially, my entire life -- to the Lord.

Whether my burdens be heavy or light, may I always be willing to hand them over to stronger arms than my own.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."  
Matthew 11:28

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Premature

Earlier this week, I completed the semi-annual task of rotating the girls' clothes for the upcoming season. I've always loved this chore because, essentially, it deals with closet organization. If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know how I feel about a well-organized closet. (If you're new here, I can sum up this relationship in three simple words: torrid love affair.)

That being said, my five-year-old obviously noticed the new cool-weather additions to her wardrobe.  I know this because yesterday when she stepped off the school bus after spending a full day at kindergarten, she was wearing this:


You know you're seasonally premature when you beat Wal-Mart to the punch with a Christmas display.

Wow, do I ever love this kid.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fried Rice is an Invasive Species (and other thoughts on Chinese food)

Last week our family ordered Chinese take-out, and it struck me that I've never yet written about Chinese food on this blog.  Not once!

That's about to be rectified.


On mess:  Like taco night (another family favorite), Chinese take-out night excels in its mess-making capacity.  How, exactly, does fried rice end up underneath the toaster and scattered on the bathroom floor after a meal?  Does it attach itself to our clothing like burrs, traveling through the house like an invasive species?  Do my children pocket small handfuls of it, anticipating that they might need a stash of edible confetti?  How do cultures who subsist primarily on rice-based diets do this?

On water chestnuts:  You're either going to love or hate water chestnuts.  There's really no middle ground here.

On duck sauce:  If you order egg rolls but forget to request duck sauce, the entire meal will be tinged with disappointment.  Contrary to what your five-year-old will suggest, dipping your egg roll in sweet and sour sauce is just not the same.  (Besides, she's the kid who once combined chicken with grape jelly and declared it to be delicious, so you already know not to trust her.)

On leftover rice:  It's a given that you'll have an uneven entre-to-rice ratio, with the rice winning out.  I often pretend that I'll do something resourceful with that one tightly-packed extra container of white rice during an upcoming meal, but inevitably, it ends up migrating to the back of the refrigerator and getting pitched later in the week.

On fortune cookies:  Even if you're no longer hungry, you'll still eat the fortune cookie.  Even if you don't put credence in it, you'll still read the fortune.  Even if you can't pronounce the "Learn Chinese" phrase on the back of the fortune, you'll still try it out for your husband.

医药 Yīyào.  I just said medicine!  Medicine!

He won't be impressed.

On mess (again):  Despite the fact that you've swept multiple times, a week later a few rogue pieces of dried rice will still be congregating in a corner of your kitchen floor.  It's okay.  The sight of them just might spark a blog post.


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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I Had Forgotten

When my children were infants, I loved to watch them sleep.  The steady breathing, the rise and fall of their chest, the knees tucked underneath themselves so their bottoms point upward toward the ceiling, their scrunched pouts, their little fingers relaxing from a clenched fist into a loose surrender.

Utterly mesmerizing.

I remember one evening over eight years ago when a friend visited.  She hadn't yet met my daughter, still only a few months old, so together we tiptoed into the darkened nursery.  We stood by the side of the crib, silent, soaking in the sight of Reese's sleeping form. 

Despite our quietness, a moment later Reese stirred and lifted her head.  You've never seen two adults drop to the floor that quickly and army-crawl out of a room.  Busted.

Over the years, I've gotten out of the habit of checking on my children as they sleep.  They're older now.  Once they're tucked in, they're down for the night.  Plus, once I've tucked them in, I'm done for the night.

The other evening, though, I discovered Spunky, my three-year-old's beloved stuffed puppy, downstairs after she had gone to sleep.  I carried him up to her room, opened the door, and gingerly approached to return the puppy to her side.

When children are asleep, the chaos and antics of the day fall away.  I alternated between Kerrington's and Brooke's bedsides, absorbing the sight of their faces as if I hadn't seen them all day even though we just had spent hours together.  I felt the inexplicable sensation of missing them even though they were right there.  I was reminded that motherhood is less of a job and more of a high calling.


I had forgotten how amazing it was to watch a child sleep.   All these years later, it's still mesmerizing.

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Accountability Works for Me

I'm in recovery mode as I write, but in a good way.  This weekend was packed with activity: Friday's preparation for our house rental, Saturday's Homecoming celebration that culminated when my husband took me on a date (a date!) without kids (without kids!) to the PSU game (victory in quadruple overtime!), and then Sunday's family outing to a local farm.

Ultimately, as all weekends must do, this weekend's compounded awesomeness had to come to an end, and it did so last night at 8:00 p.m. when I surveyed the house and realized that a new week was almost upon us.  We still had to unpack our weekend bags, re-situate our belongings, and launder a mountain of towels and sheets from the rental.  I also still had a small pile of essays to grade.

Ah, those essays.

You see, last week I told my students that my goal was to return their papers on Monday.  I made this announcement because I knew it would force me to stick to my guns and deliver.  The same premise explains why I've blogged each day of October (because I told you that I would) and why I'm currently, even if slowly, building up my running stamina (because I promised a friend that I'd join her in her half-marathon pursuits.)

Without these measures, I'd probably be a non-grading, non-daily-blogging, non-running person with a procrastination and laundry problem, versus what I am today: a grading, blogging, running person with just a laundry problem.

Apparently, accountability works for me.  As does caffeine, which kept me going until the last essay was finished and I turned into bed at 1:15 a.m.  (A special shout-out to acknowledge the obnoxiously large sweet tea from McDonalds that I downed mid-afternoon.  Truly, I couldn't have done it without you.)

Accountability is sweet in so many ways.

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Simple Pleasure of a Fall Afternoon

Have I ever mentioned that I love fall?  I love fall.  I love the way the earth smells, how trees change, and how leaves eddy and crunch.  I love breathing in the scent of wood stoves.  I love wearing sweaters, jeans, and boots when the weather turns mildly crisp.  (For the record, I'll take less pleasure in these same clothes during the long winter months, and even less pleasure when the calendar tells me that it's spring but the thermostat still languishes in the 30's.  For now, though, this foray into cool-weather clothing is still new and inviting.)

This afternoon after church we visited the harvest celebration at a local farm, an outing that pretty much exemplified all of fall's goodness in one fell swoop.

The hay ride took us along gravel roads and muddy paths, giving us a small glimpse of the farm's 800 acres in the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside. 


We found three perfect pumpkins,


and dropped only one of them. (Repeatedly.)


We milked a wooden cow,


enjoyed the simple bounty of a truck bed filled with gourds,


and pretended to drive a John Deere tractor.


Best of all, we shared the entire day together -- just the five of us.


It's remarkable how such simple pleasures can fill up your heart and renew your spirit.  Oh, yes, I love the fall.

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