June 9, 2017

Acknowledging Difference

So I take my boys to the library near our house like once a week, and there's a playground nearby, so quite often we find ourselves at the playground. And quite often, we run into people who are intoxicated or on drugs or selling them. True story, I witnessed a drug deal at this play area, a true pass over of drugs and cash all while one of the guys watched his two little girls play with my boys.

But I digress, kind of.

The truth is, I know this stuff goes on there. I know the chances are good that we may strike up a conversation with someone who is intoxicated, and yet, we continue to show up.

Is this a good thing? or a bad thing?

The reality is, I struggle with whether I should be shielding my children from these sights, from this world that is so very different from their own, shooing them away from the things I'd rather they didn't see. And I know every single parent is going to have their own opinion on the matter.

But in all honesty, there has only been one time where I questioned my judgement and wondered if I'd made a bad call by allowing my children to engage with an intoxicated man after he become just a little aggressive. I remember thinking, maybe this was a bad idea? Maybe I should have pulled them away from him? Maybe I shouldn't bring them here at all?

But the truth is, I know that I can't shield my children forever, and ultimately that is what wins out. I want my kids to know difference, to be aware of it, to confront it and acknowledge it. I don't want them to shy away from it.

And it starts with us, their parents. 

As parents it is up to us to not let that fear of difference overtake us, if we steer clear of different or if we give into the fear of it how can we expect our kids to be any different?

It is up to us to cultivate the curiosity, to cultivate the eyes to see that every person has a story. May we stress the importance of listening and responding appropriately to that story, and to the systems that create and perpetuate that difference.

It's up to us to open their eyes to their privilege, to open their eyes to see that it's not about equality but rather equity.

It's up to us to teach our kids to not be blind or apathetic to the injustice that happens all around them, every single day.

It's up to us to teach them how to use their voice, how to use their privilege to advocate and speak on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves or whose voices may not be as loud as ours.

It's up to us teach them about Jesus and the values He lived into during his time on earth and to encourage them to live into them.

It's up to us. No pressure right? In all honesty, it makes me excited to raise up little people who have eyes to truly SEE those they share space with in this world. 

Ultimately, my desire for all of those in my family are that our thoughts and our words are pleasing to the Lord

Psalm 19:14 - May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

And all of this reminds me of one of my favorite books from last year or the year before, Wonder by RJ Palacio

June 7, 2017

Making Memories


This last weekend my little family of 4 ventured out to my parent's house on the Hood Canal. And a few days before we left we informed Jack that we were heading to the Hood Canal for the weekend, and that child proceeded to talk about all the things he'd do when he was there and all the toys that were there waiting for him. He started to give me a play by play of our days and how the whole flow of the weekend would go.

And he even packed his bag for the weekend, and yes, he overpacked and stuffed far more things in his bag than were necessary, but he was so cute as he thought about the clothes he'd need for our time. And he was even cuter when we got to the house and he ran up the stairs to his room and unpacked all his clothes in his dresser (it took everything in me not to refold and organize his stuff) and immediately changed into his bathing suit.

And I just sat there in awe of him and how old he is, and I just thought, wow, he's at an age now where he actually remembers alot of stuff. No pressure right? Wonder what he'll remember when he's older haha!

Anyhow, it just got me thinking, we're making memories here. Each and every day is about seeking adventure and making memories with my people.

And I also realized, after Jack declared so many times about how excited he was, that this place on the Hood Canal, this property my parents bought over 25 years ago, and this house they built 7 years ago, is not only a special place for me but also for my son.

The magic I feel there, he feels too. 

We're making memories...lasting memories, even in the mundane, in the most normal of things, my son will remember his time here as a child. He will remember driving around in his little toy car, and throwing rocks in the water, and going for long walks to the river, and paddle boarding and kayaking with dad, and boat rides with guppy and being forced to swim in the water with mom!

He will remember. And I hope and pray those memories are so sweet always.


And it also reminded me of this video that I watched a few weeks ago, about children finding magic in the most normal, possibly mundane, things.


June 5, 2017

The Job Story

So Peter's been in his job for 2 months now, which just feels wild! Little did we know that something we had prayed so long for would be such an incredible adjustment for our family, probably more for Peter than for the rest of us.

We miss having Peter around the house during the day. And I know it's been strange for Peter being in an office 5 days a week, trying to balance 2 jobs, school, a wife and kids, friends, gym time, and ministry. The week goes fast! And I know it's been hard for him only really seeing the boys on weekends.

But the one thing we keep coming back to is this, God is faithful. And this job is an answer to so much crying out and so much prayer.

And we are so grateful.

And in the moments that feel hard, like when the boys ask where Dada is, and I kindly inform them he's already left for work, or that he woke up early to go to the gym, or that he's not coming home till later as he's working his pizza job tonight, I hold fast to the fact that God is faithful.

His provision of this job was so very clear and it's such a beautiful story. And I can't believe I've waited two months to share it with you.

So here I go before we completely forget all the details.

May we steward this story of God's faithfulness well and may you see Him in all the details.

So as many of you know, Peter was in the job market, and he had been looking for meaningful employment since October 2015. And he started at his new job just two months ago. When I type it out like that, I can't help but think WOW that was a really long time! 

And as I've said before, this season was so incredibly hard. Through it, we experienced so much growth, so much pain, so much grief, and so much joy. And as hard as it was for me, it was so hard to watch Peter go through it. He would continually put himself out there, only to face rejection after rejection. And then he would get back up and do it all over again. The questioning of his worth, of his skills, of his calling, of God's provision was hard for me to watch and witness.

But then something happened as God continued to chip away at all the things that didn't honor Him, He was reminding us of who we are and whose we are, and that our identity is fully in Him. Nothing else matters. And we had to enter into a new level of humility and a new level of laying down of self time and time again.

And even though the journey felt so long, I feel like it took us that long to get to the place where we could fully trust God whatever the path may be and however long the wait may be.

And the Sunday before Peter saw the job posting and applied for it, our Pastor was preaching on Blessed are the Pure in Heart, for they will SEE God. And he ended the sermon with two questions. How do you see God showing up in your life right now? And how do you want to see him? And we were each given little pieces of paper to fill in this blank, I want to see God.... And I turned to Peter and said should we bring them forward, and he said, no I'll bring them forward when I go for prayer after the sermon. I almost started bawling right then and there as I knew he had entered into an even deeper level of humility.

The truth is, we had nothing left in us. We had reached the end of our own ropes and we needed others to carry us, so we stepped forward for prayer. And when the two lovely ladies asked how they could pray for us, Peter got a little choked up as he shared the season we were in, and I started crying as I asked for prayer as to how to support him well in this season. And then they laid hands on us, and we just fully released the tears and the control, and allowed their words to wash over our broken spirits, to heal us, to restore us, to encourage us. And when the Amen arrived, we all looked at each other with tears in our eyes and I thanked them for their words and for that Holy Spirit moment as they spoke truth right to the depths of my soul.

And then just a few days later Peter found a job that he was excited about applying for. It was a position with an organization called Forest Stewardship Council, an organization he had heard about, but most of their jobs are in DC or elsewhere, not here in Washington. So he was intrigued, and figured he had nothing to lose.

So a few days later, when he finally had the time to sit down and apply, he went to look for the job online, but he couldn't find it there. So he called the number he had to see if the position was still open, and he reluctantly turned in his application thinking it was probably too late. And his now boss emailed him back, stating that the position was closed, but she wanted to set up a phone interview with him. And she also asked him how he got her personal phone number as the number he'd called her on was her personal number!!

So a week after our momentous moment at church, the moment where we truly let go and just fully released everything to the Lord, we began to see the FSC logo everywhere! And that Monday, Peter had a phone interview, and it went really well and they asked him to come in that Friday for an in person interview. And Peter left the interview just feeling like if it's not me, then it's someone else who is truly incredible! And then the next Tuesday morning they called him and offered him the job!

Thank you Jesus.

And in the week or two of waiting, we saw God's hand in all of it. Time after time, we heard Him say, I see you, I know you're there. From Peter's favorite song, How He loves by David Crowder, coming on Pandora right as he's breaking a fast, to going back back to work at Pagliacci after like a 6 week hiatus from being out of the country and not being scheduled and realizing they had changed their boxes to include a diagram outlining their Paper trail and FSC gets a shoutout, to being able to use examples from his Pagliacci job in his second interview.

God's hand was in all of it, and we felt that hand so profoundly.

And looking back, I'm just blown away by God's provision every single step of the way through the extra income from Peter's pizza job and the random financial gifts that would show up just when we were questioning whether we should dip into our savings or wondering whether it was financially wise to take time off work to travel to Ireland for a very important wedding!! He provided and you guys we didn't spend an ounce of our savings during that entire season of waiting, or maybe I should say, the balance remains the same as it did 18 months ago, which truly blows my mind.

And as I said, we are so grateful for this job, for a different season, and we're now trying to find balance within this new season. Change is hard, but we're adjusting. And I think it's easier to adjust when we truly feel like God has called Peter to this job in this season.

Again, a huge thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement, we are just so grateful!

If you want to read more specifics about this particular interview/job journey, check out this post.



May 15, 2017

This is Motherhood


Just moments ago my home was filled with my mama, my grandmother, my aunt, and my sister, as well as the usual suspects that normally live in my home. And as my grandma was about to walk out the door, she just turned to Peter and I and said, "You two are the ones we really should be celebrating today, you especially Malia. You're in the thick of it. You're living it daily. All of it. And you're both working full time. And you're doing a great job."

And I just looked at her with awe as her words went straight to the depths of my soul. And I just replied, "It's really hard, but it really is so good."

This is motherhood, so hard yet so good.

Lately, I've just been in awe at the women that have gone before me and the women who are walking beside me in this motherhood journey.

It is such an honor to walk amongst you.

And it's so true, one of the most wonderful things about motherhood is the other mothers. Those other mothers keep me sane. They just get me. And I'm so very thankful for them, for that instant connection, for their ability to look into my eyes and see my weary soul, for those who can just sit with me in the chaos or in the silence and be content, for those who extend so much grace and flexibility, for those who just get why I might be late, or what it's like to get 2 kids plus myself dressed for the day or in and out of the car, for what a fete it is to just show up anywhere, for those who get that motherhood is so hard, yet so very good.

And I'm left in awe at the fact that I've been a mom for four years now, and I can't help but reflect on just how much God has used these little people to refine me in ways I never could have dreamed. I am truly a different person today because of them, and it's all incredibly humbling.

No other job has pushed me to the brink of my being. No other job has left me so incredibly weary and yet filled my soul so completely. No other job has forced me to cry out to the Lord more than this one nor brought me to my knees more frequently. No other job has forced me to look in the mirror daily or examine my own actions or my own tone or my own selfishness more than this one. No other job has required so much grace and so many apologies, yet no other job has brought me so much joy.

And I'm just so thankful.

And in all the mess, the chaos, the tears, the laughter, the joy, the transformation, the lessons, I just think this is motherhood. This is what it's all about. So hard, yet so good.

And may I count it all joy as I know this is a hard day for some, whether you find yourself missing your mama today or yearning to be one. Know that I see you, and I sit with you in that grief. May you find peace and comfort in the Lord and may you never forget that His story is so much greater than ours!

And may we count it all joy, every trial and tribulation, every lesson learned, every mistake made, every tear shed. May we see His goodness and His grace amidst it all.

(You can read my other Mother's Day posts here, here and here. I love rereading them as the years go by!)

May 10, 2017

Change is Hard



Last Monday, the boys started at a new school, and at my work staff meeting they asked if anyone had any prayer requests (I work for CRISTA Ministries, so a Christian organization, totally normal thing to ask).

And I managed to sputter out...well today the boys started at a new school, and we're all adjusting to Peter's new job as we create a new rhythm and new routines. And it feels hard.

And I finished by firmly stating...and I'm realizing I have a hard time with change. 

And the funny thing is, this isn't a new revelation.

Change is hard for me, this I know. 

It always leaves me a bit undone for a short while.

And it reminds me just how fragile I can be, just how much I crave routine, or some form of it at least.

And I'm reminded that this is just how I am.

I truly have to grieve the previous season before I can enter into a new one (read here).

And you could say this past month (and even this last week) has been full of grieving and mourning what was, in order to fully embrace what is.

You guys, I'm so incredibly grateful to the Lord for Peter's new job. I find myself in awe at how He provided in His timing, and I'm holding fast to that. But it doesn't mean I haven't felt a bit off lately...that I haven't missed my husband or that my boys haven't missed their dad. I mean Peter's never worked 5 days a week in an office our entire marriage, and it will be 8 years in August, so it feels like a big change for Peter to be honest, as he tries to find time for everything and everyone that's important to him.

But God has been gracious, and the kids are enjoying their new school I think, even if they cry at drop off and wrap every limb they possibly can around my body, resulting in their teachers peeling them off my body so that I can exit, and even if Ryan runs out of his classroom whenever I put him down, while declaring no mama, no.

But I think it will get easier with time. It has to right? I mean they've only gone 3 days.

Truly though, I think they do enjoy it. Ryan's exhausted by the end of it, as he hasn't quite figured out that he's suppose to not only lay down, but nap in that bright room during nap time. And there are so many new systems and scheduled routines for him to follow that he's not use to. He seems so little in that class, sitting at his table or wandering around the classroom, or looking at his little buddies to see what he's suppose to be doing. Yet, I'm reminded that Jack started at his first school when he was just 17 months old. And Jack's already learned a few new things, like how to put a fitted sheet on his cot! They have video cameras at their new school, so I can login and spy on them, and it's so fun to watch him chatting with his buddies, sitting in the circle, getting his cot ready for rest time, and putting things away, while also looking around the room to figure out what he's supposed to be doing when.

But I'd be lying if I said they weren't really, really excited to see me at pick up and really, really ready to go as soon as I get there.

And I should also mention that Peter's enjoying his job! But like I said, change is hard, learning new things and new systems and a new work culture is hard. And trying to figure out his new daily rhythms and how he fits in time at the gym, time for the boys, time for me, time with friends and time to study, all while working his full time job and one night at the pizza shop! Bless him. Pray for him and for me as I support him in this transition.

And even though Peter's been in his job for over a month, and the boys have been in school for a little over a week now, I still feel like we're transitioning and I'm sure I'll feel that way for at least another month.

Nothing feels sorted or settled yet, but I'm okay living in that space because I know change is hard. And it takes awhile to adjust and find a new rhythm, and I know that with time, we'll settle in to our new rhythm and new routines. And it will be good, it already is good. But it will be easier, and by the grace of God with each passing day it feels easier.


May 8, 2017

What I've Read Lately {April}


This month I read 5 books, and my favorite book hands down was Uninvited. And my second favorite was a Great Reckoning. I'm always looking for book recommendations, so tell me, what are you reading?

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst 

I enjoyed this book so much. It's a book written for all of us, but especially for women who have faced rejection in their life. There were bits I even read outloud to Peter about a time the author wasn't selected for a job position and how that story of rejection played out. I highlighted so much of the text and I loved how it was steeped in scripture and biblical truths. I found myself raising my fist upwards and shouting yes, this, so good! It's all about living loved and remembering that our worth is in the Lord! Whether that's stuff you need to hear right now or someone close to you does..it will be worth the read. "Let the breaking of you be the making of you." You're welcome.

Goodreads blurb, "The enemy wants us to feel rejected . . . left out, lonely, and less than. When we allow him to speak lies through our rejection, he pickpockets our purpose. Cripples our courage. Dismantles our dreams. And blinds us to the beauty of Christ’s powerful love. In Uninvited, Lysa shares her own deeply personal experiences with rejection—from the incredibly painful childhood abandonment by her father to the perceived judgment of the perfectly toned woman one elliptical over. With biblical depth, gut-honest vulnerability, and refreshing wit, Lysa helps readers:
Release the desire to fall apart or control the actions of others by embracing God-honoring ways to process their hurt. Know exactly what to pray for the next ten days to steady their soul and restore their confidence. Overcome the two core fears that feed our insecurities by understanding the secret of belonging. Stop feeling left out and start believing that "set apart" does not mean "set aside."
End the cycle of perceived rejection by refusing to turn a small incident into a full blown issue."


A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

I really enjoyed this book, a good read. The first book I've read by Louise Penny and I'm sure it won't be my last. I enjoy mysteries and always appreciate how quickly I can turn the pages!

Goodreads blurb, "The next novel in Louise Penny's #1 New York Times bestselling series featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. When an intricate old map is found stuffed into the walls of the bistro in Three Pines, it at first seems no more than a curiosity. But the closer the villagers look, the stranger it becomes. Given to Armand Gamache as a gift the first day of his new job, the map eventually leads him to shattering secrets. To an old friend and older adversary. It leads the former Chief of Homicide for the Sûreté du Québec to places even he is afraid to go. But must. And there he finds four young cadets in the Sûreté academy, and a dead professor. And, with the body, a copy of the old, odd map. Everywhere Gamache turns, he sees Amelia Choquet, one of the cadets. Tattooed and pierced. Guarded and angry. Amelia is more likely to be found on the other side of a police line-up. And yet she is in the academy. A protégée of the murdered professor. The focus of the investigation soon turns to Gamache himself and his mysterious relationship with Amelia, and his possible involvement in the crime. The frantic search for answers takes the investigators back to Three Pines and a stained glass window with its own horrific secrets. For both Amelia Choquet and Armand Gamache, the time has come for a great reckoning."

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi 

I really enjoy reading books by authors from different cultures, and this was Gyasi's first novel and she's only 26!! I also really enjoy reading books about different cultures, and this was about Ghana. I enjoyed this, but it was hard to follow at times as it spans countless years and many characters.


Goodreads blurb, "The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indeliably drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day. Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation."

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

This was a quick read, and it was interesting, but I don't think I'd recommend it. There are far too many other books that I think you'd enjoy more!

Goodreads blurb, "Running into a long-ago friend sets memories from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything—until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant—a part of a future that belonged to them. But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion."

Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate

256 pages, and I flew through it. Think I might have finished it in a few days as it reads really easily with short prose. And I really enjoyed it, but like I said, I really enjoy reading books about other cultures, and this was a book about a boy from South Sudan I think? They don't really mention the specific country, but he is in a refugee camp, and eventually comes to Minnesota, where he lives with his aunt and his cousin. And the book follows his journey of transitioning to life in the states.  

Goodreads blurb, "Kek comes from Africa. In America he sees snow for the first time, and feels its sting. He's never walked on ice, and he falls. He wonders if the people in this new place will be like the winter – cold and unkind. In Africa, Kek lived with his mother, father, and brother. But only he and his mother have survived, and now she's missing. Kek is on his own. Slowly, he makes friends: a girl who is in foster care; an old woman who owns a rundown farm, and a cow whose name means "family" in Kek's native language. As Kek awaits word of his mother's fate, he weathers the tough Minnesota winter by finding warmth in his new friendships, strength in his memories, and belief in his new country. Bestselling author Katherine Applegate presents a beautifully wrought novel about an immigrant's journey from hardship to hope."

 Books for June // July // August // September // October // November // December // January // February // March


May 4, 2017

Faith Like a Child

Jack,

As I put you to bed tonight, and as I laid with you, I said a prayer.

And then you prayed.

Jesus,

Thank you for my mama.

Thank you for dada and Ryan and Jack (yes, you thanked Jesus for yourself!)

Thank you for my house and my clothes and my kitchen and the food in it and our cars.

Thank you Jesus.

And I walked out of your room with tears in my eyes.

When was the last time I thanked God for those simple things? For our house, and our clothes and our kitchen and the food in the fridge, for all these things that so many people don't have.

Why do we complicate things?

Faith like a child is so simple and beautiful.

We went to church Sunday and the next day you wanted to bring your bible with you to school. You wanted to put it in your backpack and read it at school. You use to call it your Jesus book, and now you're calling it your bible.

Faith like a child, when was the last time I took my bible with me in my bag? 

And when Easter rolled around, we were diligent to read through the Easter story, and you asked why Jesus was hurt when you saw the picture of him on the cross, and Dada told you, yet again, about Jesus' death on the cross and what that means for us today.

And you simply boiled that message down to, Jesus is a superhero, and he came to save us from the bad guys!

Faith like a child.

This is my prayer for you.

May you come to know Him, may you come to Believe in Him, may you come to Believe Him.

And may we all have faith like a child.

I love you little man!

Love,

Mama

May 2, 2017

What I've Read Lately {March}


This month I read 6 books, and there were actually quite a few of them that I've enjoyed and at least one or two that I've spent time talking about in conversations, so then I know I really did like them! My favorites this month were Hillybilly Elegy, the Last Mile and Underground Railroad.  

Hillbilly Elegy: a Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance 

You guys I loved this book! It was so enlightening, as I really have no idea what poverty looks like in Appalachia or really white working class poverty, and the author shares about the generational impact it has. Read it, definitely worth your time, especially if you are from this area or have family that lives there!

Goodreads blurb, "From a former Marine and Yale Law School Graduate, a poignant account of growing up in a poor Appalachian town, that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class. Part memoir, part historical and social analysis, J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy is a fascinating consideration of class, culture, and the American dream. Vance’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love.” They got married and moved north from Kentucky to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. Their grandchild (the author) graduated from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving upward mobility for their family. But Vance cautions that is only the short version. The slightly longer version is that his grandparents, aunt, uncle, and mother struggled to varying degrees with the demands of their new middle class life and they, and Vance himself, still carry around the demons of their chaotic family history. Delving into his own personal story and drawing on a wide array of sociological studies, Vance takes us deep into working class life in the Appalachian region. This demographic of our country has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, and Vance provides a searching and clear-eyed attempt to understand when and how “hillbillies” lost faith in any hope of upward mobility, and in opportunities to come. At times funny, disturbing, and deeply moving, this is a family history that is also a troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large portion of this country." 

The Last Mile by David Baldacci

I really liked this book, and I always enjoy mixing up the books I read. Think I've read a few books by David Baldacci, and they all have the same themes, but I enjoy them all the same. Quick and easy read, even if it is 432 pages!!

Goodreads blurb, "Convicted murderer Melvin Mars is counting down the last hours before his execution--for the violent killing of his parents twenty years earlier--when he's granted an unexpected reprieve. Another man has confessed to the crime. Amos Decker, newly hired on an FBI special task force, takes an interest in Mars's case after discovering the striking similarities to his own life: Both men were talented football players with promising careers cut short by tragedy. Both men's families were brutally murdered. And in both cases, another suspect came forward, years after the killing, to confess to the crime. A suspect who may or may not have been telling the truth. The confession has the potential to make Melvin Mars--guilty or not--a free man. Who wants Mars out of prison? And why now? But when a member of Decker's team disappears, it becomes clear that something much larger--and more sinister--than just one convicted criminal's life hangs in the balance. Decker will need all of his extraordinary brainpower to stop an innocent man from being executed." 

Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

I LOVE historical fiction! It's one of my favorite genres as I always feel like I'm learning something about the past. And this was a good one. I really enjoyed it - so if you like historical fiction, give it a read!  

Goodreads blurb, "Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood - where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted. In Whitehead's ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor - engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar's first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven - but the city's placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman's ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share."

Before the Fall by Noah Fawley

I really liked this one too, but I liked the first 3 more. However, I enjoyed this far more than I thought I would. A beautiful story about relationships and redemption and second chances. It's incredibly sad due to the nature of the story line, but I really liked it.

Goodreads blurb, "On a foggy summer night, eleven people--ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter--depart Martha's Vineyard headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the passengers disappear into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs--the painter--and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of a wealthy and powerful media mogul's family. With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the tragedy and the backstories of the passengers and crew members -- including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan
born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot--the mystery surrounding the crash heightens. As the passengers' intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy: Was it merely dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations--all while the reader draws closer and closer to uncovering the truth. The fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together."

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

This is the sequel to the Rosie Project, and if I'm honest, I liked the Rosie Project better. But I have this thing about finishing books, so I started it and I finished it. If you read the Rosie Project, you should give this one a read too.

Goodreads blurb, "Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman are back. If you were swept away by Graeme Simsion’s international smash hit The Rosie Project, you will love The Rosie Effect. The Wife Project is complete, and Don and Rosie are happily married and living in New York. But they’re about to face a new challenge. Rosie is pregnant. Don sets about learning the protocols of becoming a father, but his unusual research style gets him into trouble with the law. Fortunately his best friend Gene is on hand to offer advice: he’s left Claudia and moved in with Don and Rosie. As Don tries to schedule time for pregnancy research, getting Gene and Claudia back together, servicing the industrial refrigeration unit that occupies half his apartment, helping Dave the Baseball Fan save his business and staying on the right side of Lydia the social worker, he almost misses the biggest problem of all: he might lose Rosie when she needs him most. Get ready to fall in love all over again."

Pumpkinflowers: a Soldier's story of a Forgotten War by Matti Friedman

I normally like war books, but this one didn't do it for me. It was hard for me to get through. And I actually thought about quitting it halfway through, but alas, it's so hard for me to leave a book unfinished, so I powered through.

Goodreads  blurb, "It was one small hilltop in a small, unnamed war in the late 1990s, but it would send out ripples still felt worldwide today. The hill, in Lebanon, was called the Pumpkin; flowers was the military code word for “casualties.” Award-winning writer Matti Friedman re-creates the harrowing experience of a band of young soldiers--the author among them--charged with holding this remote outpost, a task that changed them forever and foreshadowed the unwinnable conflicts the United States would soon confront in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Part memoir, part reportage, part military history, this powerful narrative captures the birth of today’s chaotic Middle East and the rise of a twenty-first-century type of war in which there is never a clear victor, and media images can be as important as the battle itself. Raw and beautifully rendered, Pumpkinflowers will take its place among classic war narratives by George Orwell, Philip Caputo, and Vasily Grossman. It is an unflinching look at the way we conduct war today."

 Books for June // July // August // September // October // November // December // January // February

April 30, 2017

Transitions



Jack's last day at his school was last Monday.

He's been going there just one day a week for nearly 3 years, and I remember the daunting search to find that place.

And I think I was more emotional about it all than he was.

When Peter dropped him off, he handed off the fruit snack treats and the thank you note we had written for the teachers, and they all couldn't believe it was Jack's last day there.

I couldn't believe it either to be honest.

It's all so very bittersweet.

He has grown up there, become a little boy there, and it was all coming to an end.

If only they had space for Ryan.

If only they had space for Jack for one more day a week.

But alas they don't, so we're on the wait list, and starting at a new school in the meantime.

And I think I'm more emotional about the whole thing than Jack is.

When we went to pick him up last Monday, one of the teachers was telling us how much she enjoyed teaching Jack and how they're going to miss him and how they're so sorry they don't have space for Ryan.

And she mentioned how another teacher was sharing earlier today about how much she's enjoyed watching Jack grow from a little 17 month old to a 4 year old boy as she was one of his first ever teachers.

And you guys, I was at a loss for words. I truly didn't know what to say. I found myself packing up Jack's things, while trying not to make eye contact as I was on the verge of an emotional breakdown.

And as Jack showed Ryan all his favorite things, like he always does, I held back the tears.

And as we put Jack's coat on and his bag on his back, and as he hugged his teachers goodbye, I held back the tears.

And as we climbed the stairs, the Director told us we were still on the waiting list, and I held back the tears, while also forcing both Jack and Peter to take a picture to document this moment!

And as we drove away, Peter informed me that there was a note in Jack's bag, and the tears came as I read this note.



Don't mind me, I'm just over here wiping the makeup off my face. 

We're so very thankful for Peter's new job, but it just means more transition and more change for all of us. 

And it's all so very bittersweet to be honest.

And as Peter adjusts to his new job, we're all adjusting to new routines and now a new school, with new friends, and new teachers, and new parents.

And the boys start at their new school Monday.

I'm excited for them, to begin something new, together.

But I know this week won't be an easy one for us.

I'm sure Jack will be just fine, but Ryan has never been in the care of someone we didn't know for more than 9 hours, and I'm anticipating the drop off will be a bit of a nightmare, but that's to be expected I suppose.

So if you think of us Monday, will you please pray for us? 

April 7, 2017

A Tale of a Target Outing

I ventured to Target last Friday afternoon with both boys. And I must say, my capacity for taking both boys anywhere that involves riding in a shopping cart rather than running around a playground has definitely decreased in this season of underemployment for Peter. I find myself scheming and planning my errands around Peter's schedule so that I can leave at least one child home with him.

But this last Friday, I felt like such a warrior mama as I strapped both boys into their carseats and pulled out of our driveway as I knew what awaited me. But let me tell you, I was so unprepared. I left the house without snacks or anything in hand and it was right around naptime. I had basically set myself up for failure.

I parked, and got them out of the car and grabbed a shopping cart and somehow managed to get them both in the tiny cart with Ryan in the seat and Jack in the main shopping cart area. But that didn't last long! Before I knew it Jack was literally climbing out of the cart and Ryan was hanging a leg over the side. And the shopping trip had just begun.

And rather than watch them fall to the ground, I helped them out of the cart, which was a crazy idea. I still don't know what I was thinking. Before I knew it, they were pulling all the boxes of cards off the shelves and running around the store. I quickly grabbed what I was looking for and started running after my kids. And I led them to the Easter candy section, where they literally started taking candy off the shelves and putting said items into the shopping cart.

You guys, I was THAT mom! The mom that was trying to beat her kids at the game of taking things out of the shopping cart faster than they could put them in there.

And it was a disaster! I literally had like 4 things to pick up and at this stage of the game I'd only found 1 item. The shopping trip should have taken me like 30 minutes right? But instead it took me over an hour.

And I finally realized that I had to get them back in the shopping cart, but how was I going to do this without them having a fit? Well I'd offer them food of course, but remember, I hadn't brought any food with me, so I just pulled a bag of goldfish off the shelves and tore it open. And I bribed them, and it worked. But I hadn't brought snack cups or anything to put said goldfish in, so Jack kept putting his whole hand in the bag and coming out with gigantic handfuls of goldfish that he then shoved in his mouth. He did pass a few handfuls on to Ryan, but quite a few of them landed between the cracks of the shopping cart, which then meant I stepped on them once they landed on the ground.

And you guys, we were a hot mess, leaving a trail of goldfish in our wake, and I found myself laughing out loud at the chaos of it all. I had expected this chaos, but I still wasn't fully prepared for it!

And once we got to the checkout, I felt like such a warrior having conquered Target with my two crazies. And I felt so relieved to be checking out, to have survived, all thanks to a bag of goldfish, which they somehow managed to consume in its entirety in just under an hour! What can I say, they love their goldfish.