What I'm Into (June 2013)

30 June 2013

Bloggers like my friend Mary and my pretend friend Sarah have been doing these little monthly round-ups for awhile, so I thought I'd give it a go (and in lieu of actual writing that requires things like effort, tears and focus).



I'm in the process of reading or have very good intentions of reading:

Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott :: I previously swore off Lamott for her crazy liberal heretic-type-ness, but all my besties love her and I'm struggling with writers' block and other types of creative crises, so I'm giving her another go. This is her book on writing and it's just so funny, encouraging, realistic and concise. And because of Bird by Bird, I have many, in her words, "shi**y first drafts" pending, so I guess it's working.

Art & Faith, by Jon Bowles :: Matt read this book almost entirely in one sitting and then demanded I read it. He even wrote notes in the margins. That's as good of an endorsement as you'll ever get from him, so this is next on my to-read list. Also, Bowles is a pastor in the Crossroads District of Kansas City, where we left good chunks of our hearts, friends and family.

Mudhouse Sabbath, by Lauren Winner :: I've been reading this book off and on for over six months now, but it's not for lack of enjoyment. This is a wonderful, short, spiritual book about the practices and sacraments of Judaism that could benefit us non-liturgical Gentile believers. I come back to this book when I'm on the bus, have found a quiet moment in bed, or in need of a little spiritual disciplines boost.


Most of our telly time is taken up with watching Doctor Who. We're finally reaching season 7 and look forward with unfathomable amounts of anticipation for the 50th anniversary in November. Also keeping us up late...

Homeland :: Picked up season one at the library and could. not. stop. watching. It was a very intense laundry marathon for me. Damian Lewis is remarkable and a favourite of ours since Band of Brothers and Life. And I am always in for a good spy drama. But viewer beware: it is dark and gritty and graphic. I fast-forward... a lot.

Graham Norton :: He's kinda like a late-night comedian a la Letterman, I think? Actually, I don't really know, but it's a talk show and he's pretty affable, and this episode of Steve Carell, Kristin Wigg and Chris O'Dowd will have you spitting out water. Literally.

In the queue... Bono's interview with Gay Byrne for RTÉ1 on faith, music and the meaning of life. Everyone on this island is talking about it... come to think of it, America is talking about Bono, too, but for his interview with Focus on the Family (meh). I'll go with RTÉ1 first. I recommend you do, too.


Ruby Sparks :: My lady friends and I watched this last night and it was funny, poignant, totally existential and a bit dark. Highly recommend. Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan are now my favourite in real life celebrity couple, followed closely by Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan (what? they're not a couple in real life? whatever).

What to Expect When You're Expecting :: I watched this in a moment of weakness. The writing and/or dialog was all off and awkward, and apart from Elizabeth Banks and Ben Falcone, the ensemble vascillated between sleep-acting (Cameron Diaz) and over-acting (Dennis Quaid). I still cried when they all did (or didn't) have their babies, but can only recommend if you want to zone out in a field of nothingness for an hour and a half.

In the queue... Looper, Life of Pi and Silver Linings Playbook (already a favourite but one Matt hasn't seen yet).


On repeat these days... Josh Garrels, The Flint Hill Fellowship (have you bought it yet?!?!), Coldplay's Mylo Zyloto Live, and the Lumineers.



Dinner and a movie with friends.
Asher being potty trained. Huzzah!
Ella and Matt woodworking side by side.
How much Jack loves school.
The potted flowers by our front door.
Going through old wedding photos.
Bright mornings by the sea.
Our anniversary.
Friends who prayed for us this week.
Friends who drove us to and fro when we were in need.
Friends who offer to babysit out of the blue.
Instragram for android.


I covered most of these things in my Five Friday Favourites, but I also mostly love this post by Ed Stetzer and gasped audibly when reading this one from Jamie Wright.


A smile = happy (most-read and my personal favourite)
The Lazy Mom's Guide to Summer (most-pinnable)

Brought to you by the link-up with HopefulLeigh...
What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh

Your turn. I would LOVE some recommendations!

Note: links include amazon affiliates. if you click over and purchase, i may get a nickel or two. eventually. :)

Five Friday Favourites {CS Lewis, DOMA and Beach Waves Hair}

28 June 2013

And it's Friday again! I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am to see this week end. I'll save the stories of car breakdowns and fingertip slicing for another day...


Here's what I'm loving this week:

1) The Irish Sea (and these photos) :: We spent the morning of our anniversary on a beach in South Dublin. These days are few and far between, so when the sun is shining and there's reason to celebrate, we must take advantage of it. And we did. Iced coffee and pastries and Asher finding rocks and the beautiful sea. Thank you Ireland. You made our anniversary spectacular. You can also look at our wedding pictures here if you are so inclined. Keep in mind we were married before Pinterest. If our wedding were to happen today, I can only assume there would be a distinct increase in the number of homemade feather boutonnieres.

2) I love gay people and I love Christians. I choose all. | Momastery :: I'm not gonna get nitpicky about the whos, whats or whys of gay marriage (yes, this is a cop-out). But I will say this. I struggle, I pray, I'm trying to get to the heart of Jesus, and I want to be so filled with His love that it spills out, a wellspring of Life. I want to live this:
The point is – if you’re hungry – you are all welcome at my table. None of you is less welcome than the other. This place is a banquet table for gays and straights and prudes and hoochies and cheerleaders and tuba players and pharisees and alpha moms and slacker moms and tax collectors and fishermen and choir girls and heathens. It’s a banquet table where people who are different can come together and share a meal and maybe not change each other’s minds, but possibly soften each other’s hearts.

3) Finding a Feminine Theology in C.S. Lewis's Narnia | Her.meneutics :: I love the Her.meneutics page and the variety of issues they tackle, from abortion to stay at home (or breadwinning) moms to missional theology to literature. And I really love it when they talk Lewis. But this guest post was a little wanting, trying to paint Lewis in a corner on feminity and theology using just a part of his work and not the whole. I would love to have seen a broader and more intimate analysis of his feminine theology within the entirety of his work, particularly Till We Have Faces (which I am admittedly prejudiced towards). You just can't say: 
"we're confronted with an aspect of his writing that can make some evangelicals uncomfortable: his portrayal of women," 
and not touch upon Faces, his final novel.What do you think?

4) Picmonkey :: I'm a graphic designer who knows next to nothing about photoshop or some such tomfoolery. So I post-edit almost all of my blog photos with Picmonkey. This is an absolutely free service allowing you to crop, customize, retouch, frame and lay graphics and type on your photos. There are upgraded features for a yearly fee, but I'm not ready to make a long-term commitment (as of yet).


5) The beach waves hairstyle :: I see this all over Pinterest, I've seen tutorials and graphics, I've seen things done with a flat iron and sea salt that should not have to happen in order to achieve a "natural" look. But I'm gonna confess to you. I love this trend. Here's my own, easy, exclusive how-to:

Step 1: Roll out of bed.

The end.

Also, this is your friendly reminder that Google Reader is ending in just a few days. You can still find me here, receive my posts in your inbox (sign up over here in the sidebar ------->), or get your blogs all in one place via Feedly or another online reader.

As always, you can jump into the chaos on Facebook or Twitter. I hope to see you there!

What are your favourites from this week?

No affiliates linked above. These are just things I love and want to share with you. Enjoy!

Wordless wednesday {anniversary edition}

Powdered creamer communion

24 June 2013


I wake up in a bed without children, for the first time in ages. It's so unfamiliar to me I can't even place where I am, which bed I woke up in, what country we live in. The sun is up, but that's meaningless. What feels like 10am could be 5am, as the littlest ones know full well. Today it is 8am and the house is still asleep.

Two years ago this time we awoke to a Carolina beach. The parents asked for liquid coffee creamer, but all I could find in the extremely busy and equally limited town grocer was the powder stuff. I was given a slight disapproving eye, but we all used it anyway. Powder our coffee in the morning, sit on the balcony, and watch the hazy sun rise over the Atlantic. It was beautiful, and tasty, and all we had was time. No phones, no appointments, no clocks. Just time.

It's a minor injustice that I can't find liquid creamer anywhere on our current stretch of island. Yes, it speaks to our coffee addiction that milk just doesn't cut it and making the homemade Pinterest creamer wears one out eventually. I told him to leave and not come back without the powder stuff. I just need something, I said.

I'm done with milk in my coffee, it offers no memories.

Two-heaping teaspoons and I remember North Carolina. The powder on the rim of the mug. The way we woke before the children, how they waddled in all blurry. The smell of the ocean and the silence of happily exhausted humans, sitting side by side. We barely talk, breathing in together. Communion.

I remember you this morning, my family. Asher as a baby. Ella in a nightgown. Jack reading his book on whales. Walking on sand with my dad. Drinks with my sisters. Cousins holding hands.

My mug is filled with memories. My morning free from time.

I remember you.

Five Friday Favourites

21 June 2013

I've gone back to the list-making. My creative juices have run dry and all I've got left is this tiny little attention span and the need to type fast about nothing at all. Which brings me to my newest series:

Every Friday I want to share five favourites of mine. And I want you in on the action, too. Leave a comment and lemme know: what are your favourites this week? And, like everything else, we'll see how long this lasts. You know how great I am at follow-through.

Here we go:

1) Carrie Loves :: I've been following Carrie's blog for awhile and I absolutely love her style, her bloggery DIY's and her quick, creative posts. I got my little social media icons from her, figured out how to center my right hand column from her (can you help with my margin situation?) and stake out her etsy shop like a creeper. Check it out and give her some love.

2) My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter :: Kristen at Rage Against the Minivan gets all the credit for sharing this amazingly wonderful, satirical and acerbic take on kids couture and pinning culture. I don't dress half as nice as these munchkins do, nor could I write the captions for each pin the way Tiffany does. Case in point:

3) This is Our City :: Speaking of Pinterest boards, I repin from This is Our City's board more than any other. Hopeful, urban, redemptive, artistic. All things I love. I wish I could hang everything on my wall, go everywhere, patronise every enterprise.

4) Feedly :: If you view blogs via Google Reader, I'm sure you've seen the literal warning sign that it will cease to exist come July 1. No need to freak, though. You can easily, seemlessly transfer the blogs you read (hopefully mine!) to Feedly. I've been using this reader for awhile now and love its crisp clean layout and use of white space. I've even taken to organizing the blogs I read into different categories. Give Feedly a try and lemme know what you think.

5) Arrested Development on Netflix :: Confession time. I am not super loving the 4th season of Arrested Development, now available for streaming on Netflix. Matt and I were superfans of the show when it first came out, have the boxset, can whistle the theme song by heart. But there's just something, well, heartless about these new episodes. All that being said, I am happy to have the Bluth family back and my favourite ep so far has been the Gob back story with the best show within a show: "And As It Is Such, So Also As Such Is It Unto You."

Ok, so it's your turn. What's got you excited this week?

No affiliates linked above. These are just things I love and want to share with you. Enjoy!

The lazy mom's guide to summer

19 June 2013

Ok, I've got 10 days to prepare myself mentally, emotionally and physically for my kiddos to be home 24/7. I love spending time with my kids, but both they and I need space. Frequent space. So we like to keep summer low-key, low-maintenance, and low-energy. Some people call this lazy. Fair enough. I, for one, will choose to embrace the laziness of summer and lean into my lazy giftings.

1) Reading. Reading isn't exactly lazy, but round these parts it is. We lounge around in our pjs, spreading out all the reading material and colouring books. I also institute a mandatory quiet time wherein each child must stay in his or her own room for one hour. With a book (or audio book). Whether they read it or not is their choice, but it's gotta be screen free and away from me and each other. Check out your local library for kids' reading programs. Our library has one, but the late fees are killer. Which brings me to...

2) Get online and renew, order, check out, shop, whatever. If you've got books and don't want to drag a potty training three-year-old across town to the library, renew your books/movies online and reserve new ones. Your girl needs a new swimsuit? Check amazon or other online shops. The eldest is forgetting his maths? Give him your old slow laptop and introduce him to online kids math games (check your school's website for recommended links). Watch videos on youtube or netflix, have your kids play games and watch short clips on pbskids.org or other some such educationally fun site. Just because you're home-bound doesn't mean you are without options. You just have more, comfy, pajama-friendly options.

3) One outing a week. Any more than this and you risk endangering yourself and innocent bystanders. Pick something close enough so they won't fall asleep in the car, but far away enough that you can justify driving through McDonald's for milkshakes on your way home. Don't put pressure on yourself to come up with loads of outdoor activities or daytrips. Just try to think up one place a week that won't break you or the bank. Even if it's just across the street to the green (which is where we'll be).

4) Water. Buckets, bowls, cups of water. Doesn't matter. Just send them in the back yard with a container, show them the water and let them go to town. For added fun, give them a few towels to lay down on, dry off with, whip at siblings. If you pay for water, keep track of the time or use a sprinkler or sprayer to keep it under control. My friend Nicole made a great homemade sprinkler last summer using old 2-litre bottles. If you're crafty and non-lazy, you could help your kids create them. If you're like me, make Dad do it.

5) Forts. Never underestimate a good fort. If keeping it indoors (like we had to do last year), set up shop in the living room, bring in loads of chairs, blankets and pillows, turn on a book on cd (we prefer the Chronicles of Narnia radio theatre). If you've got outdoor space (like we do this year, praise God!), use lawn furniture, towels and old sheets. Things will get dirty and fights will eventually break out, but this can help your kiddos work together while you "work on pinterest" or "write" or "inculturate by watching back to back to back episodes of Doctor Who." Whatever.

6) Chore charts. My kids don't make much of an allowance, but in the summer I always try to up the ante. They get more chores, but they also get more rewards. Ranging from big (sweep the floors, which in our house is a major task) to little (brushing teeth), I'm trying to help them become responsible and independent. Also, I have my kids fill out their own chore charts. This can take a handful of minutes to several hours, depending on the child. Mine get a kick out of coming up with their own tasks, and I enjoy seeing what they think is valuable work. Just make sure you save your pocket change. You're gonna need it.


2013-06-15 17.59.14.jpg

7) Don't clean. Just don't. I mean, yes, if there's a major spill on the floor, take care of that. And I'm assuming you like to eat on clean dishes. Do laundry when you run out and hang it to dry (better for the environment and a great excuse for only doing one load a day!). Forego dusting, vaccuum only when necessary and leave the kids' stuff where they left it. Toys and junk and books will inevitably cover your floors and table tops, but stressing about reorganizing everything every night will just make you the Hyperventilating Mom with Crazy Eyes (trademark pending) when the kid-tornado comes back around in the morning.

So there you go: seven tips to making yourself the lazy summer mom you've always dreamed you could be. Results may vary, screen time may increase, tears will be shed. But come September, everyone will be well-rested and ready to get back to school's structure. And most importantly, everyone will have survived. Which, really, is my overarching goal of any parenting adventure...


What are your plans this summer? Are you go-go-go? Are you do you feel kinda lazy? No judgment.

A (discombobulated) Day in the Life

17 June 2013

I had this grand idea to go out for the day "on assignment" (as in, I'd been given some assigned work to do and thought I'd double dip and make this an actual blog assignment), grab images of my day along the way, and share it with you. And it was going pretty well... until a school-pick-up crisis. Then it all went to pot. But no matter. I'm gonna share it with you anyway.

Soundtrack: Illinoise (Sufjan Stevens)
Reading: Jesus Calling (Sarah Young) & Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott)

2013-06-12 11.00.53

The bus is our primary mode of transportation when going into City Centre. When we lived here before, we took the train into town, riding fast along the sea. But now we're bus people, on the upper deck for the better view.

2013-06-12 11.01.18

2013-06-12 11.03.05

Every street sign and most building signs are bilingual. Irish is still the "first language" of Ireland, but English is the primary language for most of the country. I am terrible at pronouncing Irish words, but you do find yourself getting used to seeing them everywhere and using them occasionally.

2013-06-12 11.10.27

2013-06-12 11.15.13

Most sidewalks/footpaths have a pedestrian side and a cycling side. This is great for me as I'm incapable of walking straight, or figuring out which side of the road or path I'm supposed to walk on.


Fact: I do my best work by the sea. With coffee.


Ok, now here is where my day lost the plot. Imagine it's filled with speed-walking, frantic phone calls to a friend who serves as our school emergency contact, waiting for buses, and an usually quiet afternoon while we all cooled off. Don't worry. No children were permanently scarred in the making of this day.

2013-06-12 20.55.30

At bedtime, Jack had to do some emergency surgery on E's lego ice dragon.

2013-06-13 21.07.55

How I end my day, every day, under those bright curtains with a snoring Asher by my side.

2013-06-13 21.16.19

And there you go. About 2/3 of my day. I skipped all meals as I have a general "no pictures of food" policy (with one french exception) and our kitchen is usually overrun by three small people and a LOT of crumbs under the table. Besides, I usually default to coffee anyway (see above).

If you blog, do you have a day in the life post? Link below, or tell me: what do your days usually consist of?

For the men in my life

16 June 2013

matt and asher in dublin
my kids' dad

my dad

my man's dad

like a dad

The naive optimism of summer "holidays"

14 June 2013

Ok, "summer" break. We've got a bit of a discrepancy.

My calendar says you are blissfully 2 weeks away. I have counted on your fashionably late arrival, chuckling on the inside as my friends welcome their wee children home in the middle of May. I, too, love my children and look with naive optimism to the lazy, long days of summer, wherein bedtime routines are not as frantic, early morning brushing of teeth not as important. 

But this is not the point.

The point is, you are coming between us, my children and I. Because they think - told by their classmates and confirmed by exhausted teachers - you arrive Friday next. As in one week. As in seven days. Nay, four-and-a-half days (not counting the weekend, obvs) as the twelve noon bell rings the summer in. This is not what my calendar says, not what the woefully outdated school website says, not what my mother-heart says. And the eldest and I are at an empasse.

So I say I'll ring in to the school, confirm it with the nice secretary who knows me by name, or at least by sight. The American Mom, belonging to one American Jack(son). I'm sure she'll tell me the truth, so kind as she gently lets me down. But I'm afraid and I'd rather just wait and see. I'm really very good at purposefully living in ignorance.

The thing is, summer, the flipside of the relaxed bedtimes and fluid schedules is one kid asking for food all day long. Or the ice cream truck coming through at 3:56 every afternoon. Or Netflix streaming one terribly awful Power Rangers episode after another. Or the sun coming up at 4am, bringing little children to my bed before the most punctual bird ever nabs that first worm.

The school year gives us such a nice little rhythm, a schedule to abide by. It makes sure we're out the door by 8:40am. It keeps the children reading and gives Asher some independence. For a family that is so haphazard, we need those bits of routine. They make us feel like everyday we accomplish one more thing, keeping us sane and moving forward. 

I do love you, summer, really I do. I do think we may manage a day trip or two, the occasional walk to the park, the forts and the sea. I know we'll survive, like we do every summer. And I know it could be worse, the temps could be hellish and humid like last year, it could be Kansas in July.

But... but... I was counting on that extra week of solitude, of routine, of my own independence... even if heavily involved in the one-on-one game of potty training, with a heavy dose of laundry on the side. With all the children home, all day, every day... I may never do laundry again.

Oh, look at that! I found a silver lining. We'll just make it the Summer of No Laundry and call it even.

CODA: Verdict is two more weeks! That was a close one.

I can't be the only one with a summer holidays aversion. How do you cope with the loooooong days of summer?

Public Service Announcement

10 June 2013

It's here!

Would love it if you'd support our friends with The Flint Hill Fellowship as they release their first record. If you listen closely, you can hear us in Ireland playing it on repeat, stomping our feet, singing loud and thinking of home.

Well done, guys.

The Flint Hill Fellowship: Screen Printing from Dragan Visual Media on Vimeo.

When we were a family of three

06 June 2013

The last few posts have had me digging through old photo albums. Given that we've moved ten times in 14 years, old photographs and albums and picture frames are scattered to the nether reaches of family attics and basements. We've only got a smattering here with us, consisting mainly of our wedding albums, the first few years of our marriage, and a few painfully created Easter poses of the elder two wearing coordinating pastels (yes, that happened, and it was adorable).

Today's photo is brought to you from the year 2003, when we first became a family of three.


I love remembering Jack at 9 months, all 30 chunky pounds of him. I particularly like his dazed and confused look here. But today, this photo makes me remember us more. Me and Matt. Young and exhausted and fragile, but content and peaceful and proud.

That's it, not much else to say. I just wanted to share it with you, to remember. And to admit: I'm still this. Content and proud and exhausted and fragile. We never really grow out of it, do we?

I'm sure there's more to come...

A smile = happy {Dear Brother}

02 June 2013


Hey Brother,

Today is your birthday. You are 26 years old and I remember the day you were born.

There was a brief phase where I masqueraded as a ballerina. I'm not sure who's idea it was: Dad's or my Mom's or your Mom's. Either way, it was ill-advised and I was seriously no good at it. On the night of my big recital, as our sister put on my sparkly make-up and worked her magic with the curling iron, Dad was rushing your mom to the hospital. Sometime in the night you were born, happily drowning out whatever clumsy mishap may have occurred at my ballet recital. For months I kept a crinkly hospital photo of you with me, showing it off to my friends and teachers. Proof I had been gifted a brother.

I'm ashamed to say I don't know you better. We've never really lived together, unless you count the summer where Laura and I drank Dr Pepper by the litre, trading babysitting and VBS duties (I got stuck with VBS). I remember more about her Poison poster than I do about about your habits, your toys or the books you liked to read. But I know you loved a good dance party, and at Christmas in that first small house, as they were trying to fit in this new mosaic of four children, I would hold your small arms and dance. You were blonde as could be, beautiful and mostly, I think, happy.

I know you haven't always been. Happy, that is. I know grade school was horrible for you. Teachers were cruel and children didn't understand.  I know you couldn't see well. I know we would sit by your side after your first surgery (I was in college, but came home for you), when you were only beginning to see the world how it should be, and cleaned out your puke bowl.

I know when you were first diagnosed with Asperger's and it was scary and confusing, but a small light in a long, dark tunnel. Who you were until then was like a jigsaw puzzle without straight edges. But the diagnosis gave us all a horizon from which to see you. Your puzzle pieces slowly started to fit together and we would test you with flashcards:

A smile = happy
A frown = sad


It can't have been easy, having three highly emotive, loud, domineering big sisters. I speak as much for me as I speak for us all, and I'm sure they wouldn't argue. Well, they would argue, which I guess is the point. We could easily drown you out with our fighting and our loving, but you were what we all had in common.

You are the permanent link. You share all of our blood and in you we each see a bit of ourselves, blending so well with the mark of each sister.

You were 11 when I got married, walking tall and proud to light candles, which of course didn't light. Your highly logical mind took that as a challenge and you seemed to stand there for ages, waiting for each wick to burn. I love that memory of you. Of not giving up. Of knowing how things should be, and insisting they come around.

But then I moved away. And you grew up. I had kids, and you became an uncle. Three boys would sit at your knee, and though you wouldn't hold them (afraid of the kissing and the drool), you met them at eye level. Showed them how to play a drum. You muss their hair, still, and you love. Greeting them with a smile.

A smile = happy

You taught them that, like we taught you. And the mirror image of your scruffy face in the roundness of my Jack or Laura's Justin would shine. You are a brilliant uncle and a kind brother. And we love you, even when we're not sure how to say it.

I will try not to overpower you with my voice and hand motions and kiddo insanity. I will try to let you just be you, to watch and to learn and to understand your heart and your mind. Your puzzle is not yet finished, though I think a piece is placed every day, every Christmas around the dinner table. We're still figuring you out, you see. And that's OK, I think. You are so much more than we realize.

Thank you for being patient with us, with me.

Happy birthday. I love you. I miss you.

Your Sister