I can’t put her down

Sometimes, hands filled with a wiggling, bouncing not-quite-five month old, I find a corner of my mind running lists of  things I need to do, should do. There’s another list for the things I should have done and the deadlines that like to sneak up on me.

I smile and play pat-a-cake and don’t get me wrong: I love ever moment of it. I love the wiggles, and the giggles, and the little grabby hands that try to help me type while I’m working and send emails for me when I get up to grab a glass of water.

I don’t want these days to ever end. I just can’t seem to keep up with it all. So I think about nap time. Those sometimes 30 minutes (if I’m lucky!) of not having to worry if she’s about to roll herself into some disaster or to be distracted by baby talk and books when I “should” be working to keep ahead of a deadline.

But then she falls asleep. Snuggled against me, with a tiny hand holding onto mine. Fuzzy little head, nestled against my shoulder or chest. Perfect little nose.  Little sleeping eyes.

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I’m tired, maybe. I could type and work with two hands for a few minutes, yes.

But I just can’t do it. I can’t put her down.

the bugs were right

We had a record breakingly rainy summer. It was so damp and so cool and I almost feel like Summer never happened at all.  Followed up by a rainy fall, the bugs decided that they had had enough.

By dozens, stink bugs began to invade the house. If there was a crack to be found that they could squeeze through and get in, they found  it. If I opened the door for a few minutes, they would fly in. They were literally everywhere and on everything, looking for somewhere to huddle down for the winter. I can’t tell you how many I vanquished with the vacuum cleaner, or how many times I woke up at night to a disturbing feel of crawly feet and the unmistakable scent of stink bugs. 

We’ve had a problem with sweet ants for years. This rental is more or less an ant farm with sweet ants living in millions (I’m only guessing here) in the walls and sneaking in whenever they can to get into everything. But even though they were annoying, they were always manageable. Not this year.  The ants acted frantic. They got into the fridge even in their attempts to snag food for the winter. It was a loosing battle to keep them out of the pantry—even with the bug spray.

The lady bugs were the least disturbing, but they too tried to find a few nooks and crannies to stuff themselves into.

It was THE year for bugs. And when the invasion was at its peak, Scott and I started to think that they were on to something. The winter ahead was going to be really cold, we decided.

Turns out, the bugs were right.

All last week, all I wanted to do was drink hot chocolate and hide under a pile of blankets. Temperatures dropped down down down. Much lower than “usual”. When my thermometer said 2 * F, and the wind chill made it feel like –5*, I realized I’ve long since lost my Alaskan blood.

All I can say is I hope that Springtime comes sooner than soon. I think the bugs and I are more than ready for it!

My 2014 list

I love New Years. I love it because it is all about fresh, new starts. New chances, new opportunities, new experiences—and all the potential tucked into 365 days of another year.

At the beginning of the year, I like making a few resolutions. I am painfully aware of how easy it is to make resolutions and how un-easy it is to follow through for an entire year. I know how good intentions don’t necessarily equal a flawless performance of all the resolutions all the time.

But I think everyone needs a few goals to reach for every year. It gives a person something to aim for, something to motivate them to keep reaching high. 

So with the new year just a few days old, I came up with a list—my 2014 list of 14 things I’d like to do this year.  It’s a little random and maybe a little less lofty than some I’ve written.  Who knows what 12 months of living is going to do to the goals I think sound good now, but here’s to trying.

My 2014 List

  1. Listen to the Bible through at least twice.
  2. Read at least 12  books and review them.
  3. Read to Charlotte from the Bible every day.
  4. Make a Soufflé.
  5. Grow my business and reach my goal of xhrs/week
  6. Plant a spring garden.
  7. Eat more raw foods.
  8. Blog at least once a week.
  9. Start intentionally counting blessings again.
  10. Go camping again.
  11. Write one real letter a month.
  12. Sell our truck.
  13. Take a trip for our Fifth Anniversary.
  14. Try to find a perfect cinnamon roll recipe.

What’s on your list?

Reading Challenge 2014

It hit me when I sat down to write about Reading Challenge 2014. I launched the Reading Challenges on a whim. Seven Years ago.

I wrote the first reading challenge introduction with no idea where it was going or what I wanted from it. It was just so much fun that I wanted to keep doing it! So, here we are. Seven years later, it’s still been fun. 

It has been a fairly quiet last couple of years. I know that’s due to my own short comings as the Reading Challenge leader, and the changing face of the blogging community. In spite of spotty posts and a chaotic season of life that hasn’t made it easy to do all the things I wanted to do with this idea, I still get a lot of enjoyment out of reading and sharing about books on my blog.

This year, with an infant and growing a business, I know I’ve got to keep it simple if I want it to succeed. I hope to post monthly updates. I hope to review more books than I did last year.  I hope to read lots and lots of books to Charlotte. And I hope some of you will still want to jump in and join me.

If so,  by now you probably know the drill. Set yourself a personal reading goal. Challenge  yourself a little. Pick good books. Read them. Share about them. Learn from them. And as always, whatever you read, love doing it.

My personal reading goal is going to be 12 books. I’m setting it low and hoping that I’ll get to next December and impress myself by the fact that I’m several books beyond 12. But if not, 12 is a pretty nice little number, right? And this year, I have a book worm to grow, too. So I have no doubt there’ll be plenty of stories about little trains that could and spotted dogs to be read over and over again.charbooks

If you want to read more about the Annual Reading Challenge, you can get all sorts of info and read most of the past years’ worth of reviews and posts by visiting this page.

So what do you think: are you up for the Challenge this year?

Here’s to lots of good books in 2014!

until next year, Christmas

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I took it all down today—the sparkly lights,  the ornaments, the garlands. They were all tucked into their boxes again, wrapped up in bits of paper and with another year of memories reflected in their Christmas shine.

Tomorrow is brand new 2014. I’ve long since stopped trying to chart out my year with too many specifics. But as I tuck away the last Christmas Sparkles I can’t help but look forward to the New Year with hopeful anticipation.

So, until next year, Christmas…

a tradition is born

It’s been a while since it’s looked like Christmas here.

Last year we were in California. I had only just dragged in the Christmas Boxes when we got our tickets and I had to drag them back out to the shed again. The year before that I had worked a super stressful job and was too exhausted to feel much Christmas energy.

But this year…this year was different. It’s Charlotte’s first Christmas. We don’t celebrate in all the same ways that a lot of people do. But there’s something about lights and sparkling things that make winter much less dreary.  Scott loves Christmastime.  I love creating memories and looking forward to our little traditions. That’s what makes it so special.

We hauled in the Christmas boxes last Sunday and decked our little halls with lights and christmas cheer. It takes a long time to unwind the lights and hang the sparkles on the tree, even if it is small.

When the l ast the last candy cane is hung, and the last bit of garland is wrapped around the tree, THE moment of the evening arrives: we light the tree for the first time and put the gold star at the top to remind us of the Angels who sang at Jesus’ birth.

Charlotte gets to do the topper, Scott says. He took her in his arms and helped her tiny (grabby) fingers hold the gold star for a minute and then they put it on the highest little twig right at the top. She likes the sparkle and babbles in approval.

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Our tree is done. It’s beautiful. And just like that, a tradition is born.

three months of charlotte

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Today at 11:29 pm, Charlotte will officially be 3 months old.

Becoming parents is a huge adjustment. It is one of the most amazing adjustments of my life. I’ve alternately thrilled over new accomplishments, and inwardly been amazed that we made it three months without any giant mishaps.

We’ve weathered the first cold, We’ve gotten going to town down a little better. We have found and lost night time routine at least a dozen times.

Charlotte weighs in at 14 lbs, and is officially wearing 3–6 mo clothes. I never get tired of the snuggles, and the smiles.  The 1200 pictures on my iPhone chronincal  the gradual change from squishy infant into wriggling, chubby babyhood. My heart begs for time to slow down. My sleep deprived body looks forward to the first night of more than three hours of sleep at a time.

Without a doubt, motherhood is the most time consuming thing I’ve ever attempted. I’ve floundered through days after sleepless nights. I’ve come face to face to to the reality of a true never ending laundry pile and the monster of the perpetually unmade bed.

I’ve gained new awe for work at home moms who keep a whole family fed, clothed and somewhat on track while bringing in an income as I’ve battled my way to deadlines these last three months.
I’ve found first hand that there are few rules in mothering. What works for one, won’t work for another. Instinct, prayer, and precious advice to just do what works for us, regardless of what the books say have helped to keep me sane.

But in spite of the crazy days, the sleepless nights, the never ending laundry and the house that doesn’t get vacuumed as often as I wish there is no doubt in my mind that these last three months have been some of the greatest moments of our life.

Being a parent isn’t easy. We’re learning as we go. But there is nothing we’d trade for these moments.

And today, we’re thanking God for three months with our girl.

great words about gratitude

I collect quotes. I have files of them on my computer, boards of them on pinterest, and I even subscribe to a daily quote by email just because I like them that much. One of my quote collections is titled “Gratitude”. I had a lot of fun creating a few graphics out of some of my favorites and wanted to share them with you.

Feel free to pin, share on FB or retweet your favorites, too!SONY DSCblessings Rose Bush on a Street Corner, pink Petals fallen on Ground

 

what I love about autumn

For most of my life, I didn’t like autumn.

I didn’t like anything about it–not the cooler nights, or the frosty mornings, or the single day in which most of the leaves fell. It was depressing. The abbreviated intro into yet another long, dark, cold Alaskan winter. It felt like I was watching Summer’s dying breath and it always made me sad. Snow quickly followed, and Alaskan winters aren’t always really that much fun.

Well, four years ago, I moved just about as far away from Alaska as I can get and still have autumn. For the first time in my life, I think I’m starting to learn to love it. Here’s a few of the reasons why.

  • The air gets this delicious autumn scent and feel to it. Not too cold, but just cool enough for you to know that it’s not summer anymore.
  • The sky is so blue. I don’t know if it is scientific or just my imagination, but it feels more vividly blue in the autumn. Pair that with a few puffs of white clouds and the hills on fire with color below and you have something so breathtaking it is impossible to capture on camera.
  • The hills are alive…with color. The leaves turn gold. And red. And orange. And yellow. All at once. I sometimes can hardly bear to drive because I just want to look at the hills and try to soak in the beauty of the autumn moment. If you haven’t seen the Appalachians in the Autumn, you need to put it on your bucket list.
  • Apples and pumpkins. Well, mostly the apples. But pumpkins are everywhere this time of year and it really seems to add just the right touch of autumn to the landscape.
  • Thanksgiving is coming! I feel like everything about autumn here makes you feel festive. It’s like it is gearing you up to celebrate the goodness and beauty of the entire year up to that point, and making you feel more aware of how much you have to be grateful for.

What’s your favorite thing about Autumn?

making new friends

I’ve never been really good at making new friends. I love people, but I’m introverted. It’s enough that I often feel like I come off as awkward and distant in real life while I’m trying to get use to new people. I struggle with small talk and sometimes it is hard for me to figure out how to fit in. Sometimes that can end up being a bit lonely in the local friend category.

Well, last year one of Scott’s coworkers invited us over for dinner. They invited another couple over as well who was near our age. You know those times when it just seems like you are meant to be friends? That’s what happened.

We had so much fun together–both of us expecting our first child. Both of us having girls. But the bad thing about living in a university town is that most people don’t come here to stay. They moved to Michigan in July. They’ll be back–but it’ll be 2 more years!

Lately, we’ve been getting to know another couple who recently married. It’s been so fun to have someone to call and say “Wanna go walking this evening?” Or  “Want to hop over for breakfast this morning?”

Making friends might not be my greatest talent, but I am pretty sure it is one of the Great Things about life. I know it’s one thing I’m really grateful for this year.