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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Good bye, Agatha

It seems that somehow we've landed well into the season of Lent.  How quickly 2017 is passing!   I'm enjoying two different Lenten reflections each morning.  One is from the Ignatian Solidarity Network and another is from Portico Collective.  Both can easily be subscribed to and I highly recommend them as an simple anchor for each day.  

As a family, we've each chosen a fruit of the spirit to focus on and are hoping to find ourselves with a bit more of that quality showing on Easter morning.   I've chosen to work on self control.   I've given up desserts/sweets which is really allowing me to practice self control around every turn and except for a mishap with a fortune cookie (which I do not even like in the first place!) I've shown great self control in the area of desserts. Never mind that it's not even been a full two weeks yet!  Practicing self control has also helped with not checking in on the news with fevered frequency, which has done wonders for my peace.  

This year we also took the 40 bags in 40 days challenge.  You give/throw away 40 bags of things you don't need over the 40 days of Lent.   I'm pretty sure we've already hit the 40 bag mark.  It's been awesome!  I started planting the idea with my family in January, hinting that we all ought to watch the Minimalism documentary on Netflix while reminding them of how much fun it was when we were in Michigan last summer without much stuff.  So they were primed when I approached everybody about clearing out some things around the house.  We have cleared out bedding, clothing, books, as well as general junk in the basement.   And there's no end in sight!  Ok, there's probably an end in sight but the point is, it's going great.   Kevin and I have said we're not getting rid of stuff in order to make space for new stuff.    We're clearing stuff out because we don't need it, it doesn't bring us joy and it is actually having the opposite effect on us.  When we have too much stuff it owns us and our time.    It's actually pretty simple, we're keeping the stuff we love and use and need and the rest can go.  Which is how after 20 years I was able to give away a huge collection of Agatha Christie books today.  Those books took me many used book sales to collect.   But for years they've sat in boxes waiting for a time when I had the bookshelf space for them.  I don't want them anymore.  There was a time when the collecting and reading brought me joy and that is enough, they've served their purpose.  This afternoon, we donated the entire collection to a used bookstore.  Just the thought of some Agatha Christie fan like me coming upon those titles brings me a new wave of joy.  

Lucy is working on being peaceful.  She is really making an effort at choosing peaceful words and actions! 

Walking to school!
This afternoon Lucy played with our next door neighbor.  She was invited to stay for dinner and begged us to please let her eat with the neighbors because they were having BACON with their dinner!  Lucy is a reluctant vegetarian and has missed bacon so much this winter so we agreed :).  When she came home she told us all about a new toy her friend has.  And then she got out her markers and paper and wrote a note to the Easter Bunny asking him if he'd please bring her the toy for her Easter basket.  Kevin and I laughed and laughed.   The "we aren't getting new stuff to replace the old stuff" seems to be sinking in.  But no matter the talk, a six year old is still a six year old and that's a wonderful thing!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Heart of the Week

Presenting the Captain Elementary Heart of the Week!
Yes, her crown says Happy Birthday.  
No, it is not her birthday. 
Or even her half birthday!
Her half birthday is next week and I will be out of town so her teacher moved Lucy's celebration to today so I could be there.
I love kindergarten teachers!
Being Heart of the Week is a really big deal for the kindergarten set. 
You get to bring in a poster about yourself.
You get to share a special toy with your class.
And you wear a crown.  
It's a lot.

"My teeth are tap dancing."- Lucy Adelaide Baum, on the morning of 1/30/17 as she shivered on the way to school.

Poetry just might save us all.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Praying for our President....

“Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election!  Why didn’t these people vote?  Celbs hurt cause badly.” Donald J. Trump

Dear Mr. Trump,

I am one of those people and I voted.  Though you and I disagree on many things, you are my president and so I place great hope in your care of and love for our nation.  I believe in your power to be an agent of positive change.  I also believe that you are not the only one with that power.   I did not lose my voice when the candidate I voted for lost the presidential election. My personal beliefs did not suddenly wither and become one with yours.  I will not simply shrug and hope for the best. Oh no.  In the words of Fredrick Douglas, “I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs”.   Yesterday, along with my daughters and millions of others, I prayed with my legs.  As our president, I ask you to listen, to reflect and to pray on what it means when millions of people march. You have an opportunity and my hope is that you will use it for good.

Peace and Prayers,

In case you have your own thoughts to share you can- Email Mr. Trump here :)!

Saturday, January 21, 2017


When I heard about the Women's March I knew I wanted to go.  
I wanted to march because I needed to do something. 
I wanted to stand up for my girls. 
I wanted to stand up for my brother. 
I wanted to stand up for immigrants.
I wanted to stand up for Muslims.
I wanted to stand up for our planet. 
I wanted to stand up for myself.

Weeks ago, when I asked my older girls if they too wanted to go to the march,  Emma immediately did.  She has such strong feelings about our current situation.  At 13, she's far more informed than many grown Americans.  And so we've looked forward to this day for weeks.  Eleanor was less committed and thought she'd probably not join us.  
 Until last night when she changed her mind. As we drove to Schnucks to get posterboard I asked the girls why they wanted to march.  To the best of my memory here are their answers-

Emma-  There are so many reasons.  But if I choose just one, it has to be that I don't want to worry about being judged on my looks.    I shouldn't have to worry that I'm not pretty enough, that I don't wear makeup, that I don't care about fashion.  I want to be enough by just being who I am.  Boys shouldn't get to tell me how I need to be in order to be successful.  I'm smart and I have a lot of things I want to do.  

Eleanor- Well, that's kind of like mine but kind of not.  Mostly, I just don't want to change for anyone.  If I like fashion, that's ok.  If I like make up, that's ok.  But that's for ME.  I get to be whoever I am and nobody else should tell me that it's not ok.  I'm tired of hearing how girls should be.  How women should be.  We get to choose.  Nobody gets to tell us.  And just be kind.  That's important, too.  Just be really kind.

And so we marched.  
On a beautiful sunny morning.
A morning full of 

We rode to the march with friends.  With Hamilton playing, our excitement filled the minivan!

It was emotional.  So many people.  Babies, grandmas, grandpas, brothers, friends.  All marching in the same direction.

We met Tishaura Jones, who is running for St. Louis City Mayor. 

And then Claire McCaskill.  Which was pretty awesome!

The back of Emma's sign.  It says "Dumbledore wouldn't let this happen". 

I loved the girls signs!  All made and designed by themselves.  We all agreed for our next march (because there will be a next march) we need signs with holders!  

I love you, St. Louis!  

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Hello 2017!

The last day of 2016 found us celebrating our New Year's Eve baby, Eleanor.  
She is quite an amazing kid.  
Let me tell you a story about Eleanor that captures the kind of kid she is.  
In mid December I was sweeping  the living room.  I realized as I bent down to collect all that I'd swept up that I'd not watered the Christmas tree even once since we'd gotten it.  So, since I was already down on the floor I reached into the tree stand hoping I'd find a little water still in there but to my surprise it was totally full!  Irritated I said, "Well shoot,  our tree stand is full of water!  It looks like we have another one of those trees that never drinks.  It won't be long before this tree is bare."  Eleanor rushed into the living room and said, "It's been drinking!  The stand is full because I keep watering the tree".  10 years old and she's watering the Christmas tree.  On her own.  No one asking her to, just thought it up on her own.  That's the kind of person she is.  Always looking around figuring out where she can be the glue.  This girl is a blessing for sure!

We celebrated with a couple of days at the Lake.  Lots of swimming, movies, lounging and time together.  So much fun!
Christmas was wonderful and the break was amazing.  For all I care it could have gone on and on and on....

But instead, today we returned to work and school and  I have to say that I'm pretty impressed with our showing today.  However, it's a good thing we just have two more days left in the week because we don't have a full week in us yet.  

I'm looking forward to 2017.  I have some goals and resolutions and I'm excited by the way I hope they shape the coming year.  Also, we now have a vegetarian (Eleanor) in our house so that will make at least part of 2017 a fun adventure!  

Some exciting things in January....
  • Kevin turns 41 :)  
  • Emma will play clarinet in a prestigious wind ensemble performance at a teaching conference at the Lake. She just made first chair in regular band and we are so proud of her.  She worked very hard for this!
  • Eleanor begins an Acro 4 class.  She is an awesome dancer and was asked by her instructor to move to a class that you ordinarily have to be 13 to take.  Eleanor knows this is really going to stretch her and she's excited which makes me excited!
  • Lucy is a reading machine!  Our whole family is having a great time with her reading and I know January will be a big month for her!
  • I found reading glasses at the dollar store yesterday!  I've needed them for a good three years.  They aren't perfect and they are seriously flawed in the looks department but they really helped me see tonight when Lucy challenged in me in a game of Guess Who.  
Here's hoping it snows so much tonight that we have a snow day tomorrow and we can sleep in as late as we want!  Though I'm setting my alarm fully expecting to be shoveling at 6:20 so I can get Emma to school by 7:10 :)!  No matter, I LOVE WINTER!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving Edition!

Thanksgiving Break was wonderful! 
 There was an abundance of food, family, friends, and fun!  Also, sleeping in.  Which means that tomorrow will be a rude awakening...literally!  But every beautiful moment was worth it. I felt gratitude around every turn.  For fellowship and laughing and listening to each other.  For food fit for a king, for the people who put love and time into these meals and for the hours spent lingering around the dining table.  For chilly weather, Christmas lights and a warm fireplace.  For long nights of sleep under extra blankets and no reason to rush in the morning.  
For knowing that even though tomorrow is Monday, Christmas Break is sure to hold some of the same sweet reminders of the goodness in our lives!

I'm also thankful for a walk to the zoo with this kid on Wednesday while our house became Thanksgiving central under the cooking direction of Grandpa Bill and the older girls.  Such a very good day!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A week of gratitude!

It's no surprise that I'm behind!  Even though I haven't made time to write I've still been thinking about gratitude all of the time. 

 Here are just a few of the things I've given thanks for over the last week-

My mom-  Yesterday was my mom's birthday!  She's the best.  She's strong and kind and loving and honest and I'm so thankful God gave me to her to raise. She filled me with all of the things I needed to be a happy adult.  She told me I was important and showed me this was true by the time she spent listening and encouraging and showing up.  She told me I was loved just for being me.  She never asked me to be someone else or allowed me to believe that I wasn't acceptable the way God made me.  

This photo was taken last night.  We had lunch earlier in the day when the two of us were looking fresh and awake  but alas we didn't think to take a picture until 9:00pm when the two of us are usually in bed.
Celebrating-  I'm thankful for opportunities to celebrate.  Last night we gathered to celebrate my mom's birthday.  Gordon ordered dinner and 10 of us gathered around our dining room table to celebrate and spend time together.  And it was wonderful.  My mom and Gordon have created a family for us that is kind and inviting and a lot of fun!

Hot Water--  Safe, clean water that flows right into my house is something to be grateful for and that I certainly take for granted all of the time.  But not only do we have safe water we have HOT water at our fingertips.  A hot shower, a hot drink , clean hands-- hot water is something I'm really grateful for. 

My job-  I really love the work I do as the Outreach Program Director for The Gathering.  I find the work very meaningful which is important to me.   My co workers are caring and encouraging and pray for me and the work that I'm involved in and I do the same for them.  There is a lot of power in such a community.

Time away from my job- Even though I love my job it's really nice to know that for the next few days I'm just going to be enjoying time with family.  I'll need to get my laptop out this weekend but for the next three days it will be family time!

The Trump Bump- It seems that certain progressive groups are experiencing a bump in their donations.  This makes me grateful for people who are staying engaged.  I am working to pray daily for President elect Trump and our country and to give him a chance.  But, sheesh this give him a chance stuff hard.  So far I am disappointed (though not a bit surprised) by his actions.  But I am happy to see that we are not being silent.  We are watching carefully and choosing to support groups that we know we will rely on in the coming years.  

Running-  I just got back from a run in the park.  It's cloudy and a little dizzy and about 45 degrees.  Doesn't sound that great, does it?  But IT WAS!  It felt wonderful to move and breathe and spend time with a friend catching up.