Making a home (Thanksgiving)

Homemaking. It's an actual title, a task, a balance that I have come to appreciate. That holidays and homes and meals and memories don't just come about. That my mother worked hard behind the scenes for decades pulling off the cozy, warm memories of my childhood. I've come to understand the balance it takes to cook and clean and organize and pack and travel gracefully while also pausing to kiss cheeks and toss footballs and bake cookies and watch Charlie Brown with patience, knowing that it will mean staying up later and losing some sleep so that it all comes together seamlessly. It's a mother's job. So yesterday we mixed grocery store errands with the children's museum, piles of laundry with a donut date and washing the dog with cookie baking. And at 6:00 the counter was covered in flour, Christmas music was playing and Loulie asked me to stop cooking to dance with her. I'm pretty sure this is why people have children. 
Today began with racing through downtown (Loulie's first with her own race number), trying to pack while Loulie keeps calling me in the room to watch the parade and heading to Augusta in just a few minutes. And I am overwhelmed with thankfulness; for this home, for this girl, for this family.
Here are a few pictures of our pre Thanksgiving with Bert's family in Highlands. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that you too feel overwhelmed today with thankfulness for the blessings of family, friends and the constant grace of our Heavenly Father.


Summer Reads (June/July/August)

I have had this post sitting in my feed waiting to be published for three months now. Can we say lazy?! I pretty much kept up with my new years resolution but have slowed down some this fall with my three books per month goal. This summer gave me some must reads. Behind the Beautiful Forevers will change your life or at least your outlook on your place in the world. And Jeannette Walls second book did not disappoint either!

Bringing Up Girls
by James Dobson
Finished in June

If you have a daughter, this is possibly the scariest book you will ever read. Dobson of "Focus On the Family" obviously writes from a Christian perspective but really everyone could benefit from his research and point of view. It took him twice as long to write as Bringing up Boys with hundreds more pages of research. He discusses everything from Disney's billion dollar princess industry to protecting our daughters on the internet to discussing promiscuity. I found it fascinating as well as applicable. Don't expect to finish overnight. This is one I highlighted and dog eared to death in hope to go back to my notes again and again.
The House I Loved
The House I Loved
by Tatiana de Rosnay
Finished the first week of July

Historical fiction is my absolute favorite genre and I'm drawn to books having to do with French culture so this has been on my reading list for a few months. This was a simple and sweet story. I didn't know much about Napoleon's vision for a new Paris so I liked hearing about a time before the city was the romantic capital we think of today.  I think the reason I am drawn to historical fiction is because it often reveals how the same problems/situations/arguments/norms span across time. They may vary but an underlying similarity is always there. You could easily compare the main character's fear of moving forward, of change, of a new city, of new ideals to the same fears that we are facing in America today, especially during an election year. I related to the character's desire to hold on to the past, her desire to fight big government and her love for what she hoped was her staked out territory in a big and changing city. Not a must read, but definitely worth picking up if you enjoy any of the topics mentioned.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers
by Katherine Boo
Finished at the end of July

I could write about five posts on this book alone! I picked it up at the library because after reading so much fiction set in India or around the Indian culture (Jhumpa Lahiri is one of my favs), I thought it would be interesting to really delve into some non-fiction. It was a long one so I almost returned it after one chapter and reaching my due date. I can tell you that finishing it was well worth the eight dollars in late fees. Written by an American who married an Indian man, moved to India and fell in love with its culture; Boo submerges herself in the slum life of Mumbai's under city. She tells the tale of several real life characters while throwing at you questions of morality, human suffering, economic growth, and how EVERYONE is affected by the global market. It was enlightening, haunting, fascinating and something I still cannot quit thinking about. I think everyone should read this just to have the experience of living beyond their front door. Go out, read it and call me--I would love to do a book club on this one. I loved it!

Half Broke Horses
by Jeannette Walls
Listened to on cd mid August

If you read The Glass Castle, the this should be on top of your reading list. After being constantly stopped in the street, at book readings, and being emailed all the time about her less than normal mother; Walls set out to write a book explaining her mother's life. The more she and her mother talked however, it became clear that her mother's story could not be separated from her grandmother's. After some coaxing from her mother, Walls decided to write a book based on the life of her grandmother.

Where We Belong
by Emily Giffin
Finished the very first of August

I have loved Emily Giffin since she first introduced us to Darcy and Rachel in Something Borrowed (don't see the movie, get the book). She never disappoints and I have been excited about this book since April and just waiting for it to hit the shelf on July 31st.  Called the modern day Jane Austen, she truly writes how a woman wants to read. Though her stories are everyday concerns or issues women may deal with, she has such a fresh point of view and somehow always makes it a page turner. I finished the book in a day. Not thought provoking but a perfect summer read, one I might pick up again. I love it when a book creates a place you might want to go back to. And not to give anything away--it covers one of my favorite topics.

The Mermaid Chair
by Sue Monk Kidd
Finished last week of August

I thought this book was more recent than early millenium and for some reason the the tone seemed older than that. I listened to this on book cd while painting the upstairs for two days so I wasn't able to completely delve into it. Good book, good plot, not a life changer. I would suggest as a beach read but not in a Dorothy Benton Frank kind of way--much better than that. 


All good things..(a list)

1. The election is over. I am moving on. If I see one more post on politics, I think my brain will implode. You do not normally find me saying things like this, but I think it is time for some surface conversation and some good wine. Kind of thankful that some good, thoughtless movies are coming out next week. Thank you Judd Apatow and the overrated cast from Twilight.

2. So I have been sporting a barking cough for a month now. The upside is that my abs feel tight (read feel not are). The downside is that it has taken three rounds of antibiotics and two doctor visits to figure out that I have pneumonia.  My window sill looks like that of an 88 year old woman with the amount of meds I am on. Praying for a speedy recovery and that this last antibiotic kills it all off cause we all know mama can't be sick.

3. I have given up soft drinks!!! This is a major accomplishment here people. When you leave your house, child in tow, just to get a Coke Zero; there is a problem. I got kind of convicted about this addiction when Loulie kept asking for sips of my grown up drink. I would tell her it was so bad for her to which she one day responded "Why you drinking it?" Hmm--exactly! So I gave up all the chemical ridden, splenda infused, carbonated crack beverages and am now chemical free in the beverage department. Coffee you ask?--I will NEVER give up coffee! Loulie Bug--I did this for you and yet it is me benefitting in the long run too.
*Side note--I still majorly jones for just a hit the same time everyday.

4. After debating for five years, we have finally installed windows in our 60 year old house. I say we loosely; meaning Bert has installed them and I have patiently put up with all the tools, dust, and mess that comes with a home improvement project. I'm pretty impressed with his skills. Lowe's quoted us $15,000 to install the windows so Bert watched some online videos, read a few directions and did it himself. I had no idea windows could change my life so much! I can actually open them on a beautiful day, for now there is not a water stain or mark of dust on them and our power bill has already gone down 150%. Not to mention the look of our house has improved immensely!

5. I have about 1,000,000 books I want to share. I haven't even posted on my summer reads yet but I have finished some MUST READS lately that I am dying to have someone to discuss them with. I kept up with my NY resolution to read three books a month through August and now I'm lagging a bit. I did get in the mail the most beautiful coffee table book the other day. I found it in a store in Mt Pleasant for $60, went home and found it on Amazon for $2.75!!! I love it and look through it at night during commercials. 

6. While I have been writing this, Loulie has put her baby to bed and is now saying prayers with her. Melt my heart! Crazy how they can make you want to pull your hair out one minute and then make you want to have 10 the next. Since right before this, she was meowing at me from the time out chair after throwing her breakfast at the dog. Like I said, it all spins on a dime.

That's all for now--back with Halloween, mountain, and festival pictures. Writing all this down somehow aligns me--I need this outlet.


When in doubt, use the words of those wiser than yourself

Tonight half the country will go to bed disappointed and discouraged. Regardless of whether you lean to the right or to the left, I think this election has left people on both sides discouraged over the general behavior of friends, co-workers, family, and the number one offender--Facebook friends. (Doesn't anyone have a filter anymore?!) I haven't posted anything political so far. Do we all agree that social media needs to be as shallow as possible for the next few weeks--let's stick to pictures of kids and narcissistic vacation photos shall we? Your dog in a Halloween costume--that's what I want to see when I'm surfing through my newsfeed in the DMV line. ;)
But after seeing so many opinions and spending the last several months researching candidates and topics, I opened my book before bed and landed on this...

Dear Lord, you have sent me into your world to preach your word. So often the problems of the world seem complex and intricate that your word strikes me as embarrassingly simple. Many times I feel tongue tied in the company of people who are dealing with the world's social and economic problems.
But you, O Lord, said, "Be clever as serpents and innocent as doves."Let me retain innocence and simplicity in the midst of this complex world. I realize that I have to be informed, that I have to study the many aspects of the problems facing the world, and that I have to try to understand as well as possible the dynamics of our contemporary society. But what really counts is that all this information, knowledge, and insight allow me to speak more clearly and unambiguously your truthful word. Do not allow evil powers to seduce me with the complexities of the world's problems, but give me the strength to think clearly, speak freely, and act boldly in your service. Give me the courage to show the dove in a world so full of serpents."---Henri Nouwen

Thank you Mr. Nouwen. You took my thoughts and ordered them much more eloquently. The perfect prayer whispered at the perfect moment. I thought others might need to hear it too. A reminder that we serve a Sovereign, Just and Almighty God. To put all ill thoughts and negativity aside. To wake up tomorrow and act boldly in is service.