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Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Holy Week, more or less

Holy Week came and went, and we are still walking {hobbling, in my broken-footed state} around in a catatonic state, humbled and grateful and all the things good church makes you but also {mostly?} exhausted.  Nathan works at a church and we have young children and I was doing Holy Week things at home and at church on top of regular work and life and a broken foot, so, I think the exhaustion was to be expected.

The Internet In All Its Glory has moved on from Holy Week, because this is 2016 and everything moves fast.  Ten years ago one could write a blog post a week after an event and consider it timely, but not today, no; it is mostly short-form social media and even where it is long-form writing it is the day-of or at worst the day-after.

And then there's me and this sweet little bloggity.

I still haven't blogged about things that happened almost three years ago that I truly meant to record in this little family space of ours.  So you won't be surprised if I'm sitting down to share a few glimpses of our Lent and Holy Week now, will you?

{our Resurrection Garden}

{a Maundy Thursday foot washing}

{the making of the hot cross buns, with little helping hands adding the raisins}

{the coffee beans, earned through small daily sacrifices noticed by Mama, and transformed into jelly beans on Easter}

{the Easter baskets}

{at church on Sunday morning}

{feasting and general festivity with friends}

Easter Sunday was a full day, and we ended up postponing our usual plastic egg hunt for the girls to another day, so a couple of days later, when it was particularly sunny and nice out, we had an egg hunt in the yard.  They wanted to wear their Easter dresses again!

 We hope you are having a joyful Eastertide!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

our Ree girlie these days

We are in the process of attempting to determine whether Ree might be an undiscovered genius or not.  On the one hand, she is nearly two and seems perfectly capable of making the "N" sound - for example, if she wants to nurse - but chooses not to apply this sound to say the name of her dear big sister Nell.  On the other hand, when asked to say "Nell," more often than not her smiling response is, "Dumb!"  As to whether or not this is intentional and a mark of her giftedness, only time will tell.

I'm sharing some photos I took of her this past fall, because I was too busy to even look them over at the time when I took them, much less share them and jot down any notes or memories about Ree at the time.  So here we have photos from November combined with memories from... now.

She walked around the time she was one, and hasn't stopped moving since.  A common exchange between Nathan and myself is, "Oh, look at Ree doing ____.  Can Nell do that?"  Nell loves to have fun, but tends to err on the side of caution, whereas Ree will attempt to climb anything, reach anything, run anywhere, and do anything she can think of.

She started singing recognizable melodies when she was fourteen months old; we noticed it while visiting Grandma and Grandpa in California, and while I was wondering if I was imagining it (typical overly-proud mother, of course), my Dad commented on it first.  "Marie is singing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star!"  And so she was.

Nowadays she uses singing to communicate at least as much as she uses words: singing "Six little ducks" when she sees a picture of a duck, "Rain, rain, go away" accompanied by wild jumping when she wants to go out and jump in puddles, "Five little monkeys jumping on the bed" when she wants to hold my hands and jump up and down, and even "Abide with me" to point out the similar cross shape on her plastic cereal bowl that reminded her of the image on the virtual CD cover that comes up when we listen to that recording on my phone.

A few of her favorite things to do include playing amongst and hiding behind the long curtains in the master bedroom, waiting quietly for me to proclaim, "Where could Marie be?!", and then yelling, still enshrouded in drapes of white, "BOOOO!"

She loves to play outside, particularly when it involves collecting gravel and small pebbles from our street, digging in the dirt, or helping with sundry outdoor chores like leaf-gathering.  (I wish I could say the leaf-gathering was all concluded in the fall when it ought to have been; sadly, the process is still ongoing here in March, since we never quite finished before winter set in!  But she is as eager to help bag up the leaves now as she was in the autumn!)

She loves grapes, clementines, kiwi, strawberries, eggs, potatoes, and rice, and despises cheese.  She hates sitting in her high chair and makes knowns via pointing and gesturing and pitifully crying "Mama!" or "Dada!" that she would really prefer to spend mealtimes in one of our laps.  

Trains, books, the play kitchen, and the car table are lots of fun, but nothing compares to the joy of putting shoes, boots, clothing, underwear, socks, and hats on and off all day long -- whether her own or someone else's.  I have to keep a watchful eye on the dirty laundry hamper, or Ree will often emerge suddenly decked in Nell's previously-worn pair of underwear, my bra, Nathan's dirty socks pulled up to her thighs, my black concert heels, and a winter hat from the hat basket to top it all off, of course.  

Her words include:
Uhbuh (other)
Muh (more)
Mah! (mine! a quintessential toddler word!)
Nuh (nurse)
Ashes (indicating she wants to do ring around the rosy... or perhaps she's just very liturgically inclined ever since the beginning of Lent?)
bye bye
dah! (yeah!)
eh-bow (elbow)
ah duh (all done)
uh oh
Aga (Uncle {Andrew})

Not a bad list in all, but the amount of frustrated screaming around here indicates that she wishes she had a considerably larger vocabulary at her disposal!

Lately she is all hugs and kisses and squeezes, and wraps her arms right around my neck, huddling her little body against mine for snuggles.  An adventurer by day and a snuggler by nap time, tired moments, and night -- oh, how we love this girlie.

Monday, March 21, 2016

a broken foot for Holy Week

In our household, I've spent the last nine years growing accustomed to hearing the phrase: “You weren’t being careful enough!” on a regular basis.  I know that this is more a symptom of Nathan's love for me than a criticism; the slightest accident on my part causes his fearful side to rear its head with utterances of cautionary advice.

Anytime anything happens – a twisted ankle, a slip on ice, a dropped bowl in the kitchen, a stubbed toe, a broken glass – this happens when one isn’t being careful. Nathan has made it his mission in life to teach me this underlying life principle, to write it on our doorposts and engrave it on our hearts and all that.

It’s true that I’ve been known to mindlessly wash dishes without focusing every ounce of my attention on the task at hand – now the faucet goes on to just the right level of water flow, now the dish in my right hand; now transfer weight for a moment to my left hand while I get a squirt of soap; back to the right hand, and so forth.

It’s also true that sometimes when I’m walking I’m thinking about other things than which foot is on the ground, which foot is in midair for a moment, and the precise angle at which I expect my metatarsals to graze the floor next.

So perhaps the man has a point.

Over the years he’s learned to decrease the cautionary words of advice, however well-intentioned they may be, and increase the empathy levels.  So, when I texted him on Friday to tell him I had tripped outside, dropped the baby (she's okay, thank goodness!), and injured the top of my foot, which was rapidly turning blue and swelling to the size of a golf ball, I received in response: “Oh baby!  Are you ok?” followed almost immediately by a phone call.  And not once in said phone call did he admonish me to be more careful where, when, and in what fashion I stepped with my right foot when walking out-of-doors. 

On Saturday afternoon, when I still couldn't put any weight on my foot without pain, that empathetic husband of mine drove me to an urgent care clinic where, after an hour of waiting, taking my temperature, asking me a series of inane questions unrelated to the obvious problem at hand, they finally did an x-ray and diagnosed me with a broken fifth metatarsal.  

Going into Holy Week seems like such a dreadful time to break one's foot.  

I can stump around the house slowly and painfully, to be sure, but the going is slow, the stairs are nearly impossible, and worst of all: no driving for the foreseeable future.  

I have things to do!  Holy Week menus to make and groceries to buy!  Easter plans to put into place!  Spring cleaning to be done!  Small children to care for!  Laundry to do, places to go, commitments to keep!  

Compounding the matter at hand, poor Ree was running a temperature today and wanted nothing but Mama snuggles and catnaps all day long.

And I found myself thinking that perhaps Holy Week is exactly the right time to break one's foot, after all.  

It's slowed me down to a childlike pace where I truly have no choice but to stop and let the little children come.

My every step is uncomfortable, to be sure, but can that even compare with the steps we remember this week: the slow and steady uphill steps of a man who carried his own cross?

A small broken bone in my foot?  The whole world is broken, and that is why he came.  Why he entered the world, lived among and loved the broken people, and finally, said, "This is my body, broken for you."

My broken foot will mend in time, but immeasurably greater is the truth that all the brokenness has already been overcome, and it is that celebration of resurrection wholeness that I limp towards at the close of this Holy Week.  

Friday, March 04, 2016

A Rag Rug For Nell

I recently completed a project that I began about a year ago: a rag rug for Nell's bedroom.  

In my own defense, I was not working day and night on this project during that time; in fact, it lay neglected for the better part of the year in question.  Still, it's a strange thing to complete a project you started for your two-year-old's first "big girl room," and then have your daughter who is fast approaching age four curl up on it.  

I won't pretend to contain my pleasure at how the rug turned out.  Is it perfect?  No.  But I love it.  I love how the colors came together, and I love most of all the fact that it actually lies flat (a feat the difficulty of which ought not to be diminished)!

It's made up of old sheets from my favorite nearby thrift store, along with fabric pieces I had also found there in the thrift shop on the same day.  And one floral sheet that had come with the secondhand mattress we were given for Nell's bed was a wonderful way to work in a wide variety of colors - yellows and oranges and greens to go with the overall pink and turquoise scheme, if you look closely enough.

 We love it, Nell and I.  Just tonight, at bedtime, she sat down on it and said, "I just love my wag wug so much.  I want to snuggle on it forever."

{The cuteness of that sentence reminds me of the time when I was still working on the rug, and Ree got into the braided strands of the project, tangling them up.  Nell exclaimed, "Mawee, you're wuining my wag wug!  You're wecking it and wuining it!")

It is "complete" now, but at times I find myself thinking that I could use up the last of those sheet strips to give it a few additional inches in diameter.  Maybe one of these days.  For now, I'm glad to have it finally taking up its proper place in Nell's room.

And speaking of Nell's room, it seems like a fitting moment to show you how far that space has come since we bought this house.

That was the bedroom when we first viewed the house as prospective buyers.  The stickers haphazardly stuck all over the walls covered spots of crumbling plaster and other problem areas.  You really can't tell from the photos, but this room (as with the rest of the house) was in desperate need of some careful attention.

And it got it, although not for a couple of years!  Here is Nell's space now.

Nell's antique wrought iron bed, which I've written about before, was a yard sale find I paid just $15 for.  Of course, it was a considerably larger investment to have it sandblasted and painted, but I love it so much I consider it well worth every penny.

With a vintage bed frame and a vintage quilt (also a yard sale find), I set about finding other vintage-themed things for her room.  I printed vintage paper dolls from online and made a little clothesline-type display over framed dolls I laid over lace scraps.

The little silver vanity tray on Nell's dresser was $5 at the thrift store.  The dried hydrangeas are from our front yard.  Her nightlight is a small hand-painted lamp that was given to us as a wedding present nine years ago.

The curtains are from IKEA because you just can't beat the prices.  I looked into so many other options and they were all cost-prohibitive at the time -- even just sewing curtains from lace fabric would have been far more expensive than buying the curtain panels and rods and hardware all together from IKEA!

The shadowbox over Nell's bed has her ultrasound pictures, her little newborn hospital hat, her ankle bracelet from the hospital, and a picture of me holding her the morning after she was born.  Sweet memories, and she so enjoys looking at everything and hearing stories about herself as a newborn baby.  The photographs to the left were taken by the lovely and talented Esther Mathieu when Nell was a newborn.  

 Her closet door displays a vintage pink baby dress, and the wall beside it currently holds one of her baby onesies that had been embroidered with her {nick}name.

My maternal grandmother passed away during the time that I was putting together this bedroom for Nell.  When I came across these little vintage magazine clippings Grandmommy had given me long ago, it seemed quite fitting to incorporate them into Nell's vintage decor.  Just simple pictures of little girls at play -- food for the imagination!

Her tiny wooden bookcase was a roadside find just a few houses down the street from us one Sunday after church.  It's a curious design; the books are held diagonally and the shelves have no bottoms.  It wouldn't have been my first choice for a child's room, because she still has a bit of trouble shelves the books herself, but free is free!

The wooden cart at the foot of Nell's bed was a hand-me-down gift from a violin student who had outgrown its use.  It holds stuffed animals and other such childhood delights, including the quilt I sewed for her.

Tucked into the corner beside the radiator is a vintage little metal baby doll crib, which I'm guessing is from the 50's.  It was a secondhand find I paid $10 for, as I recall, and I later found a coverlet and tiny matching lace pillowcase at my thrift store, so Nell's babies are well cared for at all times.

{The doll on the right, who admittedly looks a little worse for the wear, is of more or less the same vintage as the crib; her name is Betsy and she was my mother's doll, then mine, and is now tenderly cared for by her third little mama, Nell.}

Beside Nell's bed sits a small white table I found at a yard sale, which is home to the old broken iPhone that plays her lullabies each night, and equally importantly, the silver cup her godparents gave her on her baptism day.  Nathan was quite effective in convincing Nell some time ago that holding this "shiny cup" was a great privilege, and she could hold it in bed as she fell asleep if she wasn't fussing at bedtime.

She is quite enamored with it.

So that is Nell's bedroom -- more than anyone ever wanted to know about it, I'm sure.

When I look at it, I still see how badly the floor needs to be repainted, and how the paint is peeling off the radiator, and the windows need a good washing, and the ceiling tiles are ugly and the light fixture should be replaced.  And, as any of our babysitters could tell you, it is usually much messier than in these pictures!  But every once in a while, it's nice to tidy up, step back, and see how much progress we have made on this little space.