What I'm Into {September 2013}

30 September 2013

Short, sweet and to the point:


Did you know I'm a secret introvert? My faux-extroverted days are over, so I'm reading Quiet by Susan Cain for pointers, inspiration and commiseration. Also loving my time with the kiddos reading Jesus Calling for Kids. In the queue... Summertime by J.M. Coetzee and The Crimes of Charlotte Bronte by James Tully. Sadly, I had low reading aspirations this month.


Ah! We finished Broadchurch and, just, wow. Fantastic and heartbreaking and haunting. Also? Downton Abbey has returned! Yes, Downton is the last stronghold of the British Empire and the one thing in which America is literally behind. If you're in the US and can't wait till January, Rage Against the Minivan has a way around that for you. :)


I love Netflix. High Fidelity is a long-time favourite, but upon recent viewing, did not anticipate the immense homesickness I felt for Chicago and the late 90s music scene. Also, Prometheus? No, just no. In the queue, 50/50 and State of Play.


Shuffling through the entire Josh Garrels catalog, Arcade Fire's new single Reflektor (and spending too much time watching old videos on youtube... Ready to Start is my current favourite), and - of course - The Fox.


A Saturday afternoon spent climbing a hill and sitting by the sea
Irish museums and Franciscan artifacts
Windowseats in above-mentioned Irish museums, where one can sit undetected, writing in the shadows
Compassion International, blog month, and reading of lives changed and saved through child sponsorship
The free creative writing course at the local library
Related: new friends
Watching my sister try on and then find her wedding dress via skype... (many thanks to Emily for capturing the above images)
Friday morning date with my man
Pumpkin-flavoured anything (especially lattes)
When I successfully make a meal my children will eat willingly
My new smoky-teal bathroom (colour: dragonfly)
Anticipating Eleanor the First coming for Christmas
The reappearance of the piano wall


In which we can only testify by our absence (guest post by Anne Bogel) / Sarah Bessey
It doesn't take much to make me happy / The Bloggess
In Culture Shift, Evangelical College Lifts Alcohol Ban / The New York Times
Forget Twitter. In St. Louis, Bare Your Soul Via Typewriter / NPR
Writing Off-Brand / Caryn Rivadeneira
Romantigrams / The Urban Romantic
Karen's Hard Question about Compassion Bloggers / Shaun Groves
Louis C.K.'s Explanation of Why He Hates Smartphones Is Sad, Brilliant / Gawker

Come visit me at Twitter or Facebook to discuss other things, links and Lip-Sync battles we love.


most-read :: I come home
personal favourite :: The marriage bed


“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I."

Isaiah 58:6-9 [NIV] 


What were YOU into this month?

What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh

Sifting on this lazy Saturday

28 September 2013

We just finished a Doctor Who mini-marathon, all five of us cuddled into our little office/ playroom. The kids ask so many questions, they miss half the answers, but we enjoy ourselves anyway. I am fiercely protective of our Saturdays, and though I always seem to apologize - "Sorry, we're not doing anything... sorry they're watching so much telly... sorry i've spread out ten different piles of ten differently laundry loads..." - no one seems to mind and we never seem to change it.

It's only been a couple of weeks, but I intentionally chose a wee blogging break. I've started and left unfinished a half dozen posts. I've sat and stared at empty notebooks. I'm woefully behind on any and all correspondence. I powered through a migraine to seek inspiration from the Irish decorative arts museum. All this despite the fact I'm three weeks into a creative writing course; sadly, I've not got much to show for it, yet.

Oh, and I'm making buttons like a boss, offering my sad design skills up to the Nester's 31 days crowd in exchange for a bit of advertising (comment below if you want in on the action!). It's a very welcome break from fretting over writing.

But I am still here... sifting through the normal faith, motherhood and culture stuff, planning my 31 days series and enjoying the laziness that letting myself off the hook affords me. I hope you'll meet me back here on October 1st.

But before then, I've got this latte to finish (handmade with love by the man of the house), the 11th load of laundry to start, and a child to find shoes for. The autumn sun is shining and we've got all of Saturday to spare.


Proof I'm still alive, the boots made their seasonal debut yesterday...

Curious about 31 Days? Sift through my last two Octobers: 2011 and 2012. Some real gems in there, trust me. 

Thoughts on Compassion Blog Month and choosing to make room

17 September 2013

September is the month for Compassion Blogging and I just feel stumped.

I love Compassion, love our Compassion kiddos (this year we both lost and gained one), believe in the necessity, the success and the sustainability of it, but I feel parched for an angle with which to add to the conversation. My brain feels clogged and my heart is just plain distracted.

These days, I’m focused on the three kiddos living in my home. Their hearts are the top priority of my own at the moment, these uprooted and displaced shoots. Oh, they’re doing fine, really. More than fine. They love life, enjoy school, run circles around me and one another. They walk with heads held high into church or school or playground.

They smile, always.

But it’s a delicate dance, this new life. Eight months in, now, and we are all a bit tired. Dinner table conversations are a bit heated. They are a bit short with one another and with us. In truth, I am a bit short in return. Tears fall a little easier than they used to. And they are not sad, no, just… weary, or frustrated.

I am so thankful for the country we now live in, for the teachers and the programs and the youth workers and the lay people who guide them, shape them, teach them and love them. They have no want for people in their lives, and for this I am so grateful. But still, my attentions are those they seek most… and when I could be writing letters to Daphine or our new little guy in Colombia, I am instead slicing apples or my lap is occupied by one little person or another. When I could be writing about poverty in Uganda, I am instead writing about bedtime routines and the way Jack lowers to one knee as he reads a book on the floor.

And when I think of Compassion month and the children around the world marching into their sponsored programs in their own uniforms and with their own school books, I think of the classmates of my children, who themselves are from around the world: North Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe. They’ve all come here, too, just like we have. These wee ones, uprooted and displaced shoots, just the same.

I wonder at it all… how small this world is, how strong the need for love, how children are so much the same, no matter the skin or the country or the language or the heart. I wonder what I could give to them, how much I have to offer them, when I am consumed by the well-being and survival of my own.

Can I make room?

Will I make room?

Our children here have ample support, education, health care and love. But, so many children go without, and as you know, Compassion aims to change that. Child sponsorship IS a necessity, it is successful and it is sustainable… if only people like you and me keep saying, Yes, I’ll give. 

Even when I can’t go, even when I have children here who need me, I’ll keep saying yes.

The goal for Compassion Blogging Month 2013 is 3,160. Last year we superceded our goal! Let's do it again.

The marriage bed

16 September 2013

When Matt first brought me home to the brownstone apartment in Oak Park, we laid down in the marriage bed belonging to his grandparents. It was thick and dark, heavy old wood, storing memories like secrets we would never know. I guess you would call it mid-century, all clean lines and right angles and the start of our prairie life together.

Unfortunately, we broke it less than a year in, the victim of a tickle fight. I swear.

Fate and Jesus would have it that my job at the bookshop provided a hefty Christmas bonus. I'd never had one before - a full time job or a Christmas bonus - and suddenly my rash refusal to put off returning to school seemed fortuitous. We apologized to the parents for accidentally destroying their birthright, took that $500 bonus and bought a mattress set and faux-wrought-iron Ikea bed. Happy Y2K.

That bed moved from Chicagoland to Kansas City with us. It's gone from apartment to house to apartment again, up flights and flights of stairs, been crated and shipped overseas, held our babies as I nursed them to sleep. It's been jumped on, fought on, loved on, peed on, stored for several years and put back together again, always worse for the wear. Still beautiful, still ours, but old and rackety as 14 years, ten moves and three children will do to you.

Today the marriage bed is on its last leg. This bed... this bed is so done. Just sitting on it feels like you're breaking its back. The sounds it makes when I roll over at night keep me awake, not to mention the wee lad sharing the other side of our wall. It literally sounds like it's dying, creaking and groaning loudly with every midnight breath. Between the noise and the no sleeping, it's time to go.

I'm not particularly torn up about it, as beds (even beautiful mid-century oak beds; even especially Ikea beds) don't last forever. The mattresses are wearing thin, too, and at this point in life and marriage, it's time to trade up. And while we know it's time - probably way past time if we were to be honest - I'm dreading it. It's not just the money (of which we have none) or the memories (of which we have so much), but it's the time and the effort and the discernment. It's the future we must take into account now, making the wisest, cheapest, best decision for our family. It's the stress of getting it wrong, spending too much, wincing over every knick or scrape or squeak. I'm all a ball of nerves just thinking about it, the anxiety rising with every move in the night.

And, you know, it's our marriage bed. At 35 I love it as much as I did at 21, in all its fake wrought iron and brushed metal finials glory. It makes every house a home, holds every secret.

But, you know, I kinda hate it, too. Secrets will only allow you so much sleep. Secrets, and lumbar support.


I have this habit of writing odes to inanimate objects; the marriage bed is just the latest. What do you love/hate in your own home?

Random thoughts on procrastination (while I procrastinate finishing a project)

14 September 2013


I am the living worst procrastinator, which is a darn shame because I am always looking for something Super Important to do and then, predictably, dropping the ball (Asher was kind enough to reenact this). Here is my cycle of shame:

  • I am constantly bemoaning my lack of purpose, 
  • so I start volunteering for things, 
  • then freaking out.
  • Then I start drinking all the coffee
  • and not sleeping.
  • Then crying.
  • Eventually buckling down,
  • locking myself in my room till the wee hours,
  • and finishing whatever big project
  • I insanely volunteered for in the first place
  • and will do so again
  • because I never learn.

Today I'm nearing the end of the latest Super Important project and I'm so excited. And anxious (I cannot confirm or deny I am, in fact, procrastinating at this very moment). In the putting-off and dragging of feet, I am becoming more aware of my limitations. And in an effort to accept them and learn from them, I am trying to say "no" more. I am praying for discernment more. I am waiting it out more. And I'm aiming to embrace the title jack of all trades, but master of none, with a dash of laziness added to the mix.

OK, maybe I'll leave that last bit off the business cards.

Can you relate at all? Is this a fake-extroverted-introvert thing? People pleasing paranoia? Is this a symptom of my lack confidence or, perhaps, over-confidence? I need answers!

I come home

10 September 2013

My house is very quiet. With the wee three gone and Matt at work, it's just me and the washing machine. And I love it. I don't want to do anything with this time. I don't want to go anywhere. I don't want to clean, I don't want to read. I don't even want to write.

I just want to sit and listen to it. The quiet.

I'm taking long, deep breaths. My heart rate is resting. I hear the voice(s) in my head. I wait.

At some point the actual writing here will start up again. My fuzzy brain will empty out and new ideas and questions and words will flow again. But for right now, for today or this week or however long it takes, I sit in the silence of the reprieve. I come home.

On being done, the sequel

06 September 2013

On Sunday night I laid down next to him and cried. It was such a small thing, really, but to me it was the world shifting. Life as I know it, my life, mother-of-babies life, is over. Tomorrow, I thought, tomorrow will be a new one, and I never even mastered the old one.

He was on his side and I was on mine, and I tried whispering I love you one last time before the baby left and boy began, but I got no reply. And I cried saying goodbye to this era, to the babies, to the rocking chairs and the nursing hours.

It was easy to make the decision we were done when there were still baby years left, when he still toddled and babbled, carrying a sippy-cup everywhere and falling asleep to my songs. Today he runs, speaking words faster than I can understand them, lunching in his barn and telling me as I unbuckle him at the school gate, "No, Mom, I walk in by myself." Now, we are done done.

Two days later, I carry his sorry self across village lanes and over the canal, up a tall narrow staircase and into the waiting room. His brief illness has returned the baby to me, for a couple of days, at least. I feel silly thinking of crying in his bed on Sunday night when yesterday he is curled in my lap for hours. 

I try not be a Helicopter Mom, but I am his. And he is our baby. And the school days won't change that. And at four, we've still got time. And today, and tomorrow, and the next day I have three hours alone in the house with all the babies gone. It's a brave new world and I, mercifully, start over again.


I can't promise this will be the last baby-being-done-and-growing-up post. I'm clearly still processing. And he is wearing his Jayhawk blues to represent Kansas, embodying so much of our old life while we live this new one. Does yours look different today, this month, this year, too?