Friday, June 28, 2013

Published 6:08 AM by with 12 comments

This Moment: Yoga with Grandpa

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. ~ Amanda

If you're inspired to do the same, come share your moment with me in the comment section!

Linking up with Soule Mama on this final June Friday!

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Published 9:28 AM by with 0 comment

Thoughtful Thursday

Today I'm over at my other blog, Life is the Teacher, with a rather long quote for Thoughtful Thursday. It's a bit controversial.... but it definitely makes room for us to think deeply. Here's how it starts:

"Infants are not stupid. Children of one, two, or even three throw the whole of themselves into everything they do. They embrace life and devour it, it is why they learn so fast, and are such good company. Listlessness, boredom, apathy- these all come later. Children come to school curious; but within a few years..."

Come join me there, and please share your comments!

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Published 7:01 AM by with 0 comment

Wednesday Wanderings

Do you want to know what a person thinks about a particular subject? Don't ask them "what do you think about ___", then; instead, ask them, "what do you think everyone else thinks about ___". Very interesting method of finding out what someone REALLY believes!

This is one of the most powerful articles on creativity I've seen in a long time. It addresses the question "how does the church discourage artists", but I believe that it also can be applied to culture at large, too.  Here are a few ways to stop artists from being what they are meant to be: embrace bad art, demand that artists give answers in their work, never pay artists for their work, and not allow artists to experience creative freedom. 

All countries have their quirks, but America has some that puzzle me the most. How about cheerleading, where "we dress young girls up in short skirts and get them to dance around and cheer on young men", while all the time pushing feminism and independence as imperative for women's rights? Here are thirteen things that Americans do which seem baffling to the outside world. It doesn't take much to read between the lines.

This is a band I've enjoyed listening to for a few years. Their sound is pretty electro-poppy, but it's easy on the ears, and I like the fantasy-based music videos : ) This song below is a teaser for their new album coming out in a few weeks.

Here is the story of one man who is standing up for the weak and helpless by creating a "Baby Box": a drop box attached to his home where abandoned babies who are physically or mentally handicapped, or simply unwanted, can be dropped off. One mother even left this heartrending note with her baby as she left him in the drop box:

My baby! Mom is so sorry.
I am so sorry to make this decision.
My son! I hope you meet great parents, and I am very, very sorry.
I don't deserve to say a word.
Sorry, sorry, and I love you my son.
Mom loves you more than anything else.
I leave you here because I don't know who your father is.
I used to think about something bad, but I guess this box is safer for you.
That's why I decided to leave you here. My son, please forgive me. 

I cry every time I read this article. This man is a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. "They are loved, they are cherished, and they are worthy just the way they are." 

"For quite some time now, there has been a myth floating around our idealistic individualistic society. A myth that claims that marriage will only work when you find your “smoking-hot, high-class, filthy rich, love-at-first-sight, sexually compatible, accept-me-as-I-am, Titanic-Notebook-Sweet-Home-Alabama-Twilight-esque, soul mate.”  ... Much could be said about where this mindset came from, but let's just leave it at this- Singles today (and most married couples too) are searching for super-spouses that simply don't exist. People expect far too much from their spouse in all the wrong areas." This is a straight-forward, honest, wonderful post called "How I Know My Wife Married the Wrong Man". Totally amazing for everyone, married or single!

Last week, I wrote a series of posts based off the book "The Valley of Vision" on my other blog, Unwrapping Love. Just thought I'd share it here in case anyone would like to read it : ) 

Stranded on a deserted island? Need to get a message out across the ocean? Never fear, today's modern "message in a bottle" is here! 

(source: Firebox)
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Monday, June 24, 2013

Published 7:49 AM by with 4 comments

Ten Things I've Learned in the First Year of Motherhood

All right, ya'll, it's time for the typical blog post of a new parent: ten things I've learned in the first year of being a mother! You can always let me know your thoughts, whether you agree or disagree with what I've written, in the comments, especially if you'd be willing to share the invaluable lessons YOU learned as a first time mother or father!

1. Let your child wear clothes they can get dirty, especially when they are outdoors, near food, near other children, or awake. 

It's not worth the fuss to try to keep a baby's clothes pristine for longer than half a church service, so don't get too attached to the cleanliness of their clothes. Or yours, for that matter. I'm convinced that babies are like chipmunks, with little sacks of food stored in their cheeks for later. All it takes is one mouthful of spit-up breakfast to require a complete change of clothes for everyone. Oh yes. 

2. Always be prepared.

This is the Boy Scout motto, but it should be the motto for parents, too. Whenever we go out, we have to pack: two extra outfits for the Bug, extra diapers and wipes, water to drink for everyone, sweaters, a blanket, two snacks, extra pacifiers, a bib, band-aids, hand sanitizer, washcloths, and hats/long sleeves for those with skin too delicate for long sun exposure. If this seems like over-kill for those who may not have kids yet, believe me... we use or have used EVERYTHING at some point, and fervently thanked the heavens for those times when someone had a bloody lip and we actually had water and washcloths to take care of it, or we were out late unexpectedly and needed the extra diapers, blanket, and sweaters. It's waaaaay better to be prepared with a little more than you thought you'd need rather than not have what you need at an inconvenient time.

3. Sometimes you just have to stop worrying about _____ .

Your child is only in the 7th percentile for weight by a year old? Quit worrying; she'll probably be small all her life like you and her father. Your child sometimes almost exclusively wants to nurse at ten months? Quit worrying; she'll pick up on solid foods before you know it. Your child wakes up with a rash all over her body the day after her birthday? Quit worrying; she doesn't act sick, so we'll just take it easy for a few days to make sure she's okay. Your child decides that roly-polies are the latest, greatest protein snack? Quit worrying; at least they appeared to be dead before she ate them. (I was wondering why she was being so quiet in the corner of the room. See point #4.)

I have a tendency to FREAK THE HECK OUT at anything unexpectedly new that comes up, simply because I've never experienced it before. Rational people like Chris calmly take in the facts, consider the options, and make a decision carefully. Crazy, worrywart people like me run shrieking around the room (at least in their imagination), trying not to hyperventilate while they babble incoherently through all the possible scenarios that could arise from the situation. I've gotten better recently at not running around screaming. 

(Just kidding about the screaming. Mostly.)

4. If your child is quiet for longer than one minute, you'd better go see what they're doing.

They could be: eating roly-polies, eating bird seed, eating food scraps from the kitchen floor (I promise that I sweep), eating yarn, eating chapstick, eating paper, texting grandpa on your cell phone, dialing foreign numbers on your cell phone, taking apart your pantry shelves, methodically wiping their pacifier on the underside of all the shoes by the front door, wiping their pacifier on the bathroom floor, tearing all the toilet paper off the roll, attempting to drink dishwashing liquid (thank goodness for childproof lids), unfolding all the folded laundry, tearing all the organized clothes out of a mistakenly left open dresser, climbing onto the bed to look out the window (how did she get up there?!), or using the diaper bag as a stepladder to climb onto the coffee table. Just to name a few. 

5. Sleep is over-rated. 

For the parents, that is. Whenever an infant sleeps, everyone encourages the mother at least to "sleep when the baby does", which is the best advice ever. But by the time the infant turns into a baby, and then into a toddler, when they go down for a nap, all we can think is "TIME TO GET ALL THE THINGZ ACCOMPLISHED!!!!" So instead of napping with the Bug, I (quietly) run to cook food, do laundry, clean, organize, write, chat with Chris, answer emails, etc. 

Same thing happens when she finally goes to bed at night. That's why I never get to bed earlier than 10:30 or 11:00, because the quiet night hours can be so productive. Also, that's why I get up early, between 6:00 and 6:45 on most days, because I need just a little bit of peace to myself before the day is begun. I get enough sleep to get by and stay sane. Usually.

6. Say yes as much as possible, but be firm when you need to say no.

Harmony is just like all toddlers: she wants to explore and experience and experiment as much as possible. So for many situations, we allow her to do so, as long as it is not a) ruining someone else's property, b) dangerous or potentially unsafe, or c) letting her form a terribly bad habit. That way, when we do say no, it means "NO". We are still in the remove-from-temptation-and-distract stage, of course, so the journey is just beginning, but we hope to continue this way.

7. No matter how good of a parent you think/hope you are, there will always be another parent who appears to be waaaaay better than you.

Don't compare yourself to the mother at the park. Or the dad in the grocery store. Or the harmonious couple walking their beaming child and their well-behaved dog down the street just as you are attempting to get your baby to stop throwing a tantrum because they don't want to get into the car seat. The grass always appears greener, ya know. But as long as you are doing your best, stop worrying (see point #3) and just keeping caring for your own child.  

8. Find other parents and families and been-there-done-that mothers who think the same way you do and you can learn from.

Nothing has encouraged Chris and I more than our own family supporting us with the parenting choices we make. But it's also extremely encouraging to be around other folks who have the same kind of ideas we do. When I first decided that I wanted to have a home-birth, it helped immensely to have a group of like-minded couples in our birthing class, which was specifically for people who were having a natural and/or home-birth. I still hang out with some of those ladies and their babies nowadays. 

If your interests are home-schooling, holistic health, nature, music, teaching your child about God, etc. then you and your child will benefit from being around other families who are interested in the same things. 

Also, being around women whose children are already grown, but whose parenting philosophies you can learn from, is invaluable. Everyone should have a mom-mentor or two. The more, the better! And even if another mother or mom-mentor tells you something that doesn't fit your parenting style, or that you disagree with inwardly, it's usually not worth making a fuss over. Just smile and be pleasant. No need to continue the infamous "Mommy Wars" here. 

And now, #9 is a point written directly by Chris, the rarely-heard blogophobe!!!

9. For the guys from the guy: she had the baby, the least you can do is help...

Parenting is most assuredly a hands on experience, but if you make her do all the work, changing diapers, feedings, nap times, and so forth, then all you're really saying is "I don't care about you or the baby". So get your hands dirty and dive right in. Everyone will be much happier. Even if the little one cries more for you than for mom, it's okay, she'll show you plenty of love as the years go on. And the more involved you are in your child's life today, the more involved your child will want to be with you later.

We'll end with point #10 from both Chris and I:

10. Our family is just going to be weird. And that's the way it is.

I teach music lessons in the afternoons and early evenings. By the time I get home, we eat dinner, Harmony nurses, and we get her calmed down enough for bedtime, it's usually between 8:45 and 9:15. She goes to bed much, much later than most children we know. But she also sleeps in pretty late (between 7:30 and 8:30), usually takes two naps during the day (hooray!), and appears to be in good health, so I'm trying not to feel guilty about it. Our schedule just works this way.

Harmony also sleeps with us. *gasp* Yes, we are bed-sharing parents. Without getting into all the controversy that has surrounded bed-sharing, let me just say that it was the only way we were able to get decent sleep from the very beginning after trying every other option for weeks (crying it out was NOT an option), and our whole family has been happy together. 

Harmony and any other kids we have will grow up in a house full of people playing random instruments, making art in random places, reading books at random times of the day or night, trying different creative projects (my sister has been experimenting with wild edible plants lately, Chris is carving a rubber stamp of the United States, and I am participating in the Love Notes Project), inviting random people over for a friendly chat or shared meal, or setting off on random adventures. 

But I would venture a guess that although we're a pretty crazy bunch, we're also loving, strong as a family, and supportive of each other, so hopefully Harmony will look back on her childhood with us and smile : ) 

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Published 6:21 AM by with 8 comments

This Moment: Happy First

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. ~ Amanda

If you're inspired to do the same, come share your moment with me in the comment section!

Linking up with Soule Mama on this summer solstice Friday!

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Published 6:23 AM by with 0 comment

Thoughtful Thursday

"And so the story of the swift, beautiful year is ended, and our wee, soft, helpless baby had become this darling thing, beginning to toddle, beginning to talk, full of a wide-awake baby intelligence, and rejoicing in her mind and body; communicating with us in a vivid and sufficient dialect, and overflowing with the sweet selfishness of baby coaxings and baby gratitude. And at a year old, there is no shadow on the charm from the perception that its end is near. By the second birthday we say, 'Ah, we shall be losing our baby soon!' But on the first, we are eager, as the little one herself is, to push on to new unfoldings; it is the high springtime of babyhood- perfect, satisfying, beautiful."

~ The Biography of a Baby, Millicent Shinn

Please share a quote you've enjoyed or let me know your thoughts about this quote in the comment section! A good quote can be the bridge that leads us farther along the path of understanding ourselves and the world. 

Happy first birthday to my silly Bug

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Published 8:08 AM by with 2 comments

Wednesday Wanderings

Since Mother's Day and Father's Day just occurred, here are a bunch of links related to parenting again! 

"Be with me. Share these fleeting and dreaming days. Because all that I truly need is you. And a simple space in which to grow." Beautiful words from the perspective of the child about what they truly need to BE

Here's some motherly advice from women like Maya Angelou, Clare Boothe Luce, Anne Bradstreet, and Abigail Adams!

Speaking of Abigail... how about comparing the differences between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail Adams' ways of raising their children? "Jefferson pushed his daughter to succeed, while Adams cautioned her son against failure. What's a better incentive?" 

"My mother's feminist principles colored every aspect of my life. As a little girl, I wasn't even allowed to play with dolls or stuffed toys in case they brought out a maternal instinct. It was drummed into me that being a mother, raising children and running a home were a form of slavery. Having a career, traveling the world and being independent were what really mattered according to [my mother]. As the child of divorced parents, I know only too well the painful consequences of being brought up in those circumstances. Feminism has much to answer for denigrating men and encouraging women to seek independence whatever the cost to their families. I love my mother very much, but I haven't seen her or spoken to her since I became pregnant. She has never seen my son  -  her only grandchild. My crime? Daring to question her ideology." Wow. Words that ache with sadness, regret, and pain. The author is Rebecca Walker, the daughter of Alice Walker who wrote "She Wore Purple". Please take a moment to read Rebecca's story and why she believes that motherhood, despite what her own mother believed, is a beautiful blessing

One of the most controversial issues for parents is the rising diagnoses of ADD and ADHD and the decision to medicate or not. I'm sure this article called "Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD" will cause more than enough debate, so I'll just let it stand for itself. Do you agree with the author? Do you think there are any valid points in her argument?

Harmony is just now starting to learn basic commands that we give her, like "don't touch that electric socket/stove/etc." and "please come here". As we begin using more words with her, we obviously want to speak kindly yet firmly! But one author believes that phrases such as "good job", "don't argue with me", "you're doing that wrong", and "you're making me mad" are not effective ways of communicating or helping your child change their behavior in a positive way. What do you think of these 10 Things Not to Say to Your Kids?

Would you send your child to a preschool that literally had NO toys at all? Here's what one study found when all toys were removed for three months!

Harmony's favorite toys lately, I kid you not.

And last but not least, here is a link that cracked me up: an online game for kids based on doing real-life chores. "Recruit a party of adventurers from your household or office, and whenever one of you completes a chore, you can log it and claim XP" shouts the tag line. I have to admit, this is a pretty hilariously clever idea for children who love video/computer games ; ) 

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Published 8:16 AM by with 2 comments

Happy First Birthday

My dear Harmony,

My Bug. My little girl. My Tiny. My Mininsky (your Russian mafia nickname). My Bum Diddly Bum Bum (your silly name). My daughter.

You are so full of personality that even those multiple titles can't contain the energy, moods, quirks, and bubbling life that make up your character. You are like a flower blooming; every day another petal opens as something new is discovered and you continue to grow into a beautiful person.

One year ago I was sitting on the floor of the living room eating breakfast, wondering if you were ever going to come out! I had just decided on plans for the day when suddenly the contractions began. Within a few minutes, I knew that today was THE day: your birth day. Later that afternoon, you joined us earthside in the peace and joy of our own home, helped by the midwife, your ecstatic dad, and your loving grandma.

I've given up two things over the past year: trying to predict what you'll do next, and trying to decide what you'll be like. You said your first word at five months old, "hi", caught on video. Your vocabulary continues steadily along, with "what's this" being your favorite phrase. You took your time crawling, but it wasn't long before you were pulling up onto furniture, standing, and holding our hands to toddle along. By ten months you took your first steps alone. You almost look too small to walk around on your own!

Nature, being outside, is your absolute favorite thing in the world. Trees must be patted, flowers examined, paths explored, dirt dug. You like cars in general, license plates in particular. When we go on walks through the apartment neighborhood, you like to stop at each car to examine the license plate and experimentally tug at each one, just to see if it will budge. Perhaps this is a fad that will fade with time, but who knows! You love music, especially guitars, and enjoy playing the little toy piano, wooden xylophone, and lovely handbells in our ever-growing instrument collection. "Mary Poppins" is your favorite movie, because of all the singing and dancing; the musical "Pirates of Penzance" is a close second. Lately you have begun a kind of sing-song warble, sometimes wordless, rising and falling through different notes, and sometimes with the happy trill "tokka-tokka-tokka-tokka-tokaaaaaaaaa"! Strangers say, "what a little singer!" and you smile. Another fad? Hmmmm. 

You are teaching me how to respect you as an individual, even though you are young. You are teaching me patience, because the consequences of losing my temper are not worth damaging our relationship. We are teaching each other about unconditional love, because when we make mistakes, we can give each other grace to forgive, grow, and change for the better.

Your Daddy and I are learning what it means to set boundaries, to keep you safe, yet giving as much freedom as possible, to say "yes" more than "no", to be firm when it truly matters and let you explore and express when it doesn't. We tell you about the world, we read to you, we take you to concerts, we sing and dance and tell stories, we talk to you about God, we pray, we cook together, we take you outside, we let you go barefoot, we listen to you snore softly as you sleep. We are blessed to be parents, even when we have no idea what to do next. This is a learning process for all of us.

It's been a blessed twelve months together, my dear. I'm so excited to find out more of who you are this next year! 


Your Mama

This is the first Birthday Letter for Harmony, which will be printed and saved for her in a special treasure box. Her birthday is technically on the 19th, but we had her party this weekend with family from out of town, so I wrote her letter early too!

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Published 6:33 AM by with 9 comments

This Moment: Cooking with Grandma

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. ~ Amanda

If you're inspired to do the same, come share your moment with me in the comment section!

Joining with Soule Mama on this food-filled Friday!
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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Published 7:34 AM by with 0 comment

Thoughtful Thursday

“Is it [man's] immortal soul, his rationality, his self-consciousness, his free will, or what, that gives him a claim to this rather startling distinction [of being made in God's image]? A case may be argued for all these elements in the complex nature of man. But had the author of Genesis anything particular in mind when he wrote? It is observable that in the passage leading up to the statement about man, he has given no detailed information about God. Looking at man he sees in him something essentially divine, but when we turn back to see what he says about the original upon which the ‘image’ of God was modeled, we find only the single assertion, ‘God created’. The characteristic common to God and man is apparently that: the desire and the ability to make things.”

~ Dorothy Sayers, The Mind of the Maker

Please share a quote you've enjoyed or let me know your thoughts about this quote in the comment section! A good quote can be the bridge that leads us farther along the path of understanding ourselves and the world. 

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Published 8:10 AM by with 0 comment

Wednesday Wanderings

This article seriously freaked me out. I used to sleep with my cell phone right next to my bed, but that won't be happening anymore. As soon as I can get a regular alarm clock, I won't be using my cell phone as a wake-up alarm, either. Dang.

Couch Surfing is something that I've known about for years, so when it came up again in my local newspaper, I definitely wanted to share it just to make sure others knew about this awesome way to travel too!

Want to see what Bach, Copernicus, and the real Santa Claus look like? Check out these facial reconstructions of famous historical figures!

What do you get when you put Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday together? Absolute genius music.

Seventeen important life lessons from one of the greatest movies of all time: The Princess Bride. 'Nuf said.

Even though I don't have internet or email access on my (rather oldschool) cell phone, it still gets checked pretty often. It's rare that I don't have it with me, whether I'm out with family, teaching, shopping, at the park, etc. But maybe I should start leaving the phone home more often. One author writes about how the smartphone killed the three-day weekend: "Many of us have an exaggerated sense of our own importance. I can tell you that come Tuesday morning, the earth will still be revolving whether you have checked your email or not."

Last, but most certainly not least, today is the third anniversary of marriage for Chris and I! We went out for a lovely dinner last night (thank you, gift card!) and have coupons for free frozen custard later today, a tradition from our wedding day. I'll share some of my favorite pictures from the wedding here, for anyone who might be interested (hi grandma!), so... yeah : )

Picture by Jim Larson!

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Published 8:06 AM by with 2 comments

Happy Anniversary

My mom made the cake. Best cake I've EVER had in my life!

The church front.  
We gave wildflower seeds away as gifts for the guests! 

If you can't tell, we like flowers a lot : )  And those are mints that my awesome sister made.

This quilt is gorgeous. It wasn't there for my wedding in particular;
it just always hangs on the wall of the church!



I liked my sweet-pea bouquet!

Yes, I went barefoot the entire time. Who needs shoes anyway!?

The guys HAD to get their Abbey Road picture.

Lookin' sharp!

Some of my guitar friends provided prelude music!

Lighting the unity candle.

Hooray, we're married!

Today is our anniversary. 

Our wedding just happened, right? It seems recent and yet a long time ago. We definitely look a bit younger in those pictures.... hmmm. It was a lovely ceremony, surrounded by friends and family, simple, peaceful, and joyful. Good memories.

Right now, we're on our third year! Woohoo! The addition of Harmony has made this past year pretty interesting. I barely remember our second anniversary, except that I was super, super hot, sweaty, hugely pregnant, and wondering when this baby was going to come out (she was born a week later). This year's anniversary is much more pleasant. 

Our traditions always include discussing the past year, looking forward to the coming year with hopes, dreams, and goals, sharing thoughts about our relationship, and appreciating each other. We also go to our favorite frozen custard stand, since we went there on our wedding day (if the bridal party goes in their fancy clothes, everyone gets free custard!), and who doesn't want to celebrate anything with delicious frozen custard? 

Maybe someday we'll get to go on a vacation together, reminiscent of our honeymoon to the upper peninsula of Michigan and the Great Lakes, but right now we'll just enjoy each other's company and our lovely family : )  

I'd like to share this beautiful poem about the art of a good marriage, which is what we hope to have! The poem was found here.

The Art of  a Good Marriage

by Wilferd A. Peterson 
Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens.
A good marriage must be created.
In marriage the little things are the big things.  
It is never being too old to hold hands.
It is remembering to say "I love you" at least once a day.
It is never going to sleep angry.
It is at no time taking the other for granted;
the courtship should not end with the honeymoon,
it should continue through all the years.
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It is standing together facing the world.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.
It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is not looking for perfection in each other.
It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humour.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal.
It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.

Happy anniversary, my love. Here's to many more!

*All photos by the ever-so-talented Jim Larson
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Monday, June 10, 2013

Published 12:41 PM by with 0 comment

Sister, Sister

Vacation is done. Great weekend to finish it off: Shakespeare in the Park (free! hilarious! talented actors! picnic! did I mention free?), beautiful weather for lots of walks, and a guitar master class (auditing) and banquet dinner for me. The only downside was that Harmony caught a cold; she's been coughing, but seems to be feeling better today.

Now my younger sister is moving in with us! She completed her degree in Kansas City, so she's moving here to be with her family. We're very excited! That's what we'll be up to this week. Back to our original busy summer schedule!

This picture taken at the top of the St. Louis Arch is probably five years old;
we look more like twins now. It's kinda scary. 

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Friday, June 07, 2013

Published 7:02 AM by with 4 comments

This Moment: Playing Mandolin Among Guitars

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, come share your moment with me in the comment section!

Joining Soule Mama on this Friday after an amazing mandolin workshop at our local music store last weekend!

P.S. Also, for those who were wondering, I really was the only woman there. Turns out that not a lot of girls choose to play mandolin OR classical guitar either! Here's to change : )

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Thursday, June 06, 2013

Published 9:31 AM by with 0 comment

Thoughtful Thursday

Tallis says that the greatest music ever written is the silence between the Crucifixus and the Resurrexus est in Bach's Mass in B minor. Yes; and I would add that some of the greatest writing mankind has ever produced comes in the caesura; the pause between words.

Why are we so afraid of silence? Teenagers cannot study without their records; they walk along the street with their transistors. Grownups are as bad if not worse; we turn on the TV or the radio the minute we come into the house or start the car. The pollution of noise in our cities is as destructive as the pollution of air. We show our fear of silence in our conversation: I wonder if the orally-minded Elizabethans used "um" and "er" the way we do? And increasingly prevalent is what my husband calls an articulated pause: "You know." We interject "you know" meaninglessly into every sentence, in order that the flow of our speech should not be interrupted by such a terrifying thing as silence.

If I look to myself I find, as usual, contradiction. Ever since I've had a record player I've written to music- not all music, mostly Bach and Mozart and Scarlatti and people like that- but music: sound.

Yet when I went on my first retreat I slipped into silence as though into the cool waters of the sea. I felt totally, completely, easily at home in silence.

With the people I love most I can sit in silence indefinitely.

We need both for our full development; the joy of the sense of sound; and the equally great joy of its absence.

~ Madeleine L'Engle, The Crosswick's Journal Book 1, A Circle of Quiet

This picture was taken in the exact same place as my original "Path" photo, almost five years ago! How times have changed.

Please share a quote you've enjoyed or let me know your thoughts about this quote in the comment section! A good quote can be the bridge that leads us farther along the path of understanding ourselves and the world. 

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Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Published 8:30 PM by with 0 comment

Catching Up

It's been a lovely week so far, folks. So lovely, in fact, that I've done no writing.

Navy-friend Nick just left (sad face), but we had a great time with him! I re-learned how to play the card game Munchkin, we visited a local national landmark called Cahokia Mounds, watched the mini-series Tin Man (based on the Wizard of Oz) and Neverland (based on Peter Pan), listened to music, hung out with other friends, stayed up way too late, and enjoyed the beautiful weather.

We were also treated to a SUPER dinner at the Melting Pot by Nick. The food was so amazing that I only thought to take a picture to remember it by at the very end, when the dessert came. All the rest of the food was devoured/savored/enjoyed before any camera could make an appearance. By far one of the best meals I've ever had!

I also had the opportunity to attend a mandolin workshop given by Roland White at a local music store. Ever since I began playing the mandolin almost two summers ago, I've been wishing for lessons, but it just couldn't happen. Youtube videos and a book have been my teachers so far. When I heard about the workshop, I excitedly checked out the information.... and knew that the cost was too expensive.

And then I miraculously found a gift certificate for the music store in a forgotten bag, given by a student's family for Christmas almost four years ago. The gift certificate covered almost the ENTIRE COST of the workshop! I was elated. Happy early birthday to me!

The four hours of mandolin instruction, stories, tips, and music were invaluable for me as a beginner. It was so inspiring to hear the other incredibly talented mandolinists playing, too. Most of the time I just stayed quiet, hoping that my stumbling pick wouldn't be heard ; )


I'm also planning a benefit concert! I haven't done any performing for quite a while, so it feels strange to be preparing my fingers again. We are raising funds for Compassion International, a group which helps release children from poverty by providing food and clean water, educational opportunities, medical care, and important life skills through sponsorship programs. I'll be playing with several other musicians. It'll be great!

Still continuing this week of vacation with my love and our daughter. It's so rare that Chris and I both have a day off work together, let alone several days in a row!

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