Wednesday, January 21, 2015

How to Help a Sensitive {Read: FREAKING OUT} Child

I'm leaning some very interesting things from the book Quiet:The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain.

One of the most enlightening things I've discovered is that I live with a "highly sensitive child" as Cain labels personality types like Molly's. She poses that there are some in the world who are more affected by outside influences than others, causing them to react a little differently to situations because they feel things more deeply than most.

I knew my youngest reacted differently than the other children after being out in a group for an extended amount of time (she needs a nap afterward) and I've often watched her slip away from a group of kids to spend time on her own, but I didn't quite understand the extent of the "sensitive" part.

As we were in the midst of the cleaning up process in the kitchen I saw proof after proof of Molly's "high sensitivity." The day the crew came to remove the kitchen carpet and detach the cabinets and sink from the floor to allow it to dry off Molly broke down into tears time after time. "What's going to happen to our house? It's all broken!" We reassured her time and again that these folks were helping us and making our home better but she was still a mess. Finally we sent her to her room to sleep which is often a good reset for her. After she'd rested a bit and spent some time in her room on her own, she returned to us in much better shape.

When her Pappa arrived to reset the cabinets and sink, Molly broke down again, first thing in the morning, I was perplexed. Surely she knew Pappa would make things better.

"I just feel like our whole house is going to fall down flat!" she wailed. I was lost for a solution so I reached deep down and turned to the source from which I'm confident every Christian mother and definitely every pastor's wife draws...

"Molly," I said taking her face between my hands, "what kind of house did the three little pigs build when they wanted to be the very safest that they could be?"


"Yes, brick. What is our house made of?"


"Yes, brick. See we are safe and sound!"

{Tears began fresh once more.}

"Molly, go get your Awana book and let's look at some verses."

When she returned we looked at the verse that said, "Give thanks in all circumstances..." and I explained that what was going on in our kitchen was definitely a circumstance and that we were to be thankful.

It helped a little.

Molly turned some more pages in her book saying, "There's another good part back here..." She pointed out Psalm 23 which she'd learned the month before. We watched her calm as she read about her Shepherd and as her Daddy and Pappa continued their work putting things back together.

I was thankful for the bit of reading I'd done which helped me to understand what was going on in my kiddo's heart but I was beyond thankful for the reading she had been able to do that actually calmed that heart and gave her stability in the circumstance that had made her little world feel like it was crumbling.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Kitchen Chaos!

"I hope that when I grow up and get married that I DON'T marry a man who likes kitchen carpet. But probably most men like kitchen carpet so maybe that won't work."

Molly was, in her way trying to process all that has gone on in our little world since we returned home from our vacation and things very much involved our much maligned, much spilled upon, much despised, green kitchen carpet. Later in her life, when it comes time for marrying I hope that the issue kitchen carpet is not still on Molly's list of suitable characteristics but if it is I can assure her that few people in the first world would choose kitchen carpet on purpose.

Ours came with the house.

But it is here no longer and that's a good thing. The event that caused the carpet to be a thing of the past was an alarming thing and it happened while we were on the first part of our two day journey home. Despite the best, most diligent efforts of the kind folks who were house sitting for us and who babysat our touchy pipes in the frigid temps while we were in the sunny south, a piece under our dishwasher cracked and a neighbor drove by and noticed the flood coming from our home into the street...he called the church and the church called us and we called our house sitters and they got in and turned of the water and dried things up the best they could.  The next day, before we arrived home, they left us a warm cozy meal of homemade soup and bread with all of the fixings.

The water did quite a job and therefore...decisions have to be made...specifically about the kitchen carpet. So far...the carpet has been removed and the floor beneath has dried (thanks to the help of another wise friend and his crew).

We spent the last few days eating from a make-shift kitchen we assembled in the basement ...

...and yesterday Pappa arrived to put things back in useable order. 

{Picture taken in 2010 at the completion of the bathroom makeover Pappa accomplished.}

I'm so happy to have the sink and that pesky dishwasher back ready to be used and the thought of some kitchen changes ahead is both daunting and exciting.

So this weekend we work on a plan and celebrate (?!) the demise of the kitchen carpet that has been soaking up sticky KoolAid for more than a decade.

I might miss this reminder of when the Boy was younger and he knocked my iron off the ironing board...then he ran to get me instead of picking it up... sister suggested that I frame it but I don't think I'll miss it that much

Thursday, January 8, 2015

What I Think About When I Fear the Kids are Growing too Quickly

My baby girl is in first grade. She reads and writes notes to me. She makes up jokes and has an encyclopedic memory of every season of her favorite TV shows. She can pray down heaven and can out maneuver me often in sneaky attempts to avoid her school work. My heart aches a little sometimes because she seems to be getting older faster than her siblings did. Some days I just want to hear that little voice again and hold those little pudgy hands...but then I remember what those little hands used to do...often...

{From the archives January 2010}

It's all because I was a Girl Scout.  I know how to build a campfire using two different configurations of wood, how to make and use a sit-upon, how to make a fire-starter out of dryer lint and paraffin, how to fry an egg on a coffee can, how to sell a bunch of fine tasting cookies, how to apply basic first-aid, and of course, how to lend a hand.  Girl Scouts are honor bound to "do my best to serve God, my country, and mankind and to live by the Girl-Scout law."  

I was in the service of mankind or "mother-kind" as it were.  I was setting my sites on preparing dinner for the gang when the phone rang.  It was my Mom looking for a nearby outlet mall.  She'd gotten a little turned around and since my Man and I are shoppin' fools surely I could give her a little help.  Not a problem. I gave vague directions and moved to the computer to get the specifics.  After giving aid, I hung up the phone and returned to thoughts of supper.

"Mooooommmmm!"  the voice called from my bedroom.  "Molly...oh Molly...Mom look at her."  

"What 'cha got there Molly?"

L'orael 892, Raisin Rapture. 
Oh Raisin Rapture, you did the job.  You were my "purse tube", always there for me when I needed a touch up, never too dark, never too deep like my regular stuff.  Oh, Raisin Rapture, I'll miss you so.

Her sibling almost caught her in time to prevent the damage that was sure to come at that hand.  Almost but not quite...

Look at that cute little lipstick hand print on my bedroom carpet.  There was one to match it on the light tan bedspread.  I wasn't that enRaptured by the color and therefore ran to the computer for help after tossing "Mary Kay" into the bathtub under the watch of her brother.

Googling "lipstick stain removal" yielded many results, most of which involved alcohol and dish washing soap.  

Perhaps they meant for me to take a swig of the alcohol before using the dish soap on the lipstick, because the alcohol applied to the stain itself did nothing.  Unfortunately, the dish soap wasn't the solution either.  

"Goo-Gone," said my Sister.
"Goo-Gone," said my Mom, "then use the dish soap to get the Goo-Gone out."  (My Mom was our Girl Scout leader for a year or two, can ya hear it in her voice?)

We keep this orange oily cleaner around for the supreme task of removing "sticker guck" from our books after the price tags have been removed.  Who would have thought to attack Raisin Rapture with it?  Goo-Gone was indeed the ticket.  Goo-Gone for the carpet, Vaseline for the baby.  

Oh Baby!  

I'm blaming this episode on Grandma, who distracted me by calling and asking for directions, 
(even though I'm the one who left my purse in reach)!  
The Girl Scout Pledge says nothing about assuming responsibility for one's own mistakes!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

In Which I Almost Let Down Ups!

{From the archives 11/29/12}

"Oh," said the new-to-us UPS lady, when I answered the door, "I was told that..." her voice fell away, uncertain.

"They told you a child would answer the door?" I guessed.

"YES!" said she sort of leaning to peek over my shoulder into the house.

"The children are eating lunch right now and today, for the first time in months I've gotten to the door ahead of them." I explained with no small bit of pride.

Unimpressed and visibly disappointed, she handed me the electronic clip board and said, "I was hoping to meet Kate."

Baffled that she knew Kate's name and unused to signing for deliveries, I had taken hold of the clipboard in error and was attempting to sign the little window upside-down.

"Here," said the UPS lady, turning the gadget around in my hands, "you've got it wrong...Kate would have known that I bet."

"I'm sure she would have," said I chuckling and a little shocked that Kate seemed to be such a rock star down at the local UPS warehouse. Taking the package from her hands, I thanked the lady and promised to send Kate to the door to accept our next delivery.

Then, remembering all of the times the patient UPS delivery folks let Kate practice writing her four-letter name on their clipboards through the years as they delivered book after book to our home, I yelled for Kate...

"Kate, please lean out the front door and tell the new UPS lady that you are Kate and tell her to have a nice afternoon." With that, my child, who will not be lost in the crowd that is our family, whizzed past me, eager to make a new friend.  I stood watching out the window as the brown-clad lady outside grinned brightly and waved heartily at my famous-at-the-warehouse daughter.

Yep, I thought, that's logistics!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Remembering Our Vows...

This week my Man and I celebrated 20 years of marriage. We married after we'd known one another for two years and so, as my Man loves to say, we have known each other for over half of our lives. It seems that we were celebrating 17 years together not so very long ago when I posted this...

Happy 17th Anniversary to my Man...

If our marriage was a person, it would be a teenager with car keys

If our marriage was a car, it would be a junkyard dweller by now. 

If our union was a house, it would be time for some needed renovations. 

If our marriage was a grandma-crafted quilt, it would just be getting good and soft and maybe a little frayed about the edges. 

If the time marking our togetherness marked instead, the age of a book, that book would not yet be considered a classic. 

If our marriage was a clothes dryer ... well, we'd be on our second one! 
Our marriage is none of these things of course...
our marriage is a marriage...a seventeen year old one. 
A seventeen year old marriage that has, in its lifetime been...
full of faith,
 full of wonder, 
full of trust,
full of expectation,
 full of serious conversations, 
full of growth,
full of belly grabbing laughter, 
tinged at times with...
 worry and 
...but not for too long...
Later we filled it with...
more laughter,
a couple of babies,
lots of diapers,
new adventures,
old struggles,
new challenges,
a few more babies,
a lot more diapers,
and sprinkled in...
 lessons well learned
and some not so well learned
a wrinkle or two
and some aches (just a few!)

Our marriage has been full of all those things we vowed to one another that winter evening when we were so 
very young,
 and unwrinkled,
 and un-grey, 
and unafraid,
 and oh, so na├»ve
...all of those things we vowed and THEN some!
I love who our marriage has become over these seventeen years. 
If our marriage was a motorcycle...
I'd be so tickled to be your sidecar!

~All my love...
...and then some~

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A New Year Past

{From the archives 12/31/2010}
We really only celebrate two "official" eves these days, Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.  My two sisters and my Mom and Dad & I usually opened our Christmas presents on what we affectionately referred to as "Christmas Eve Eve" which left the more official days in December for celebrating with extended family. Perhaps it is that tradition that is responsible for my fondness for the eves.
There is so much more wrapped up in the eve of something than in its just being the literal "day before" another day which is, merely by force of calendar supposed to be more special.  An eve holds both the promise of what the next day will bring yet holds as well the distinct honor of being a meaningful day itself.

Consider Christmas Eve, the lights both of candle and of the eye of a child shine in honor of what Christmas Day will be, yet shine they do on Christmas Eve and not on Christmas day.

 On Christmas Day, there is the sense of joy and celebration, of arrival, of dare I say relief (?), of excitement and gratitude.  On Christmas Day, the flicker of the Christmas Eve candle has grown into the bonfire of Christmas Day.  As Christmas Day grows into Christmas Night there is no anticipation left to carry into the morrow, no expectation of specialness to come just a pleasant placement into the heart of the memories that have been made.
Ah, but as the hours of Christmas Eve grow late, the heart grows softer, beats a bit faster, and becomes more ready to experience that which is to come...

New Year's Eve, whose very title, indicates that it belongs to the celebration of the New Year, holds little to looking back on the old year to which, by the calendar, it belongs.  Like Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve is full of anticipation and expectation of the next day and all that the New Year might be. As the New Year's Eve clock marches toward midnight, acceptance of last year's accomplishments yields to the eagerness to make newer and more purposeful tracks on tomorrow's freshly fallen, unblemished year. On the eve, the accomplishment of living better is looked forward to but is not yet taken to task. The idea of doing better is not yet confused with the reality of a tinge of failure here and there on the eve.  On the eve the possibilities are unspoiled and unconquered.  On New Year's Day the conquering must begin. 

 "... in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." ~Romans 8:37

So, friends and loved ones I wish you a special New Year's Eve and a Happy New Year, filled with living better, loving more, and laughing deeply!   

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Books of My Year

Last year ended with another defeat in the annual book reading contest with my Boy. Another defeat, the second in a row. This year I determined to be the winner, unfortunately my Boy enjoys the term "Three-peat" and was equally determined.

As the year rolled on we'd check on one another's progress:

"How many have you read?"

"Seventeen, how 'bout you?"

"20 {grin}"

Then we left for our August sabbatical which allowed for lots of reading time while we sat next to each other in doors and out of doors early in the mornings, during long afternoons and into long quiet evenings. Each of us reading for the sheer pleasure of it AND with certain victory in sight.

"How many have you read?"

"Thirty-four, how 'bout you?"

"Thirty {grimace}"

Somewhere around November I decided that I would keep my number private, remembering that last year the Boy, knowing my number read JUST enough to beat me. I figured this year I'd make sure to be ahead by at least five books that the BOY didn't know about to insure my victory. The problem with my plan is that somewhere around November my Boy quit sharing his number with me so I am not certain how many books equal five books more.

This was not the only problem...

...there was Thanksgiving and Christmas and cookies and wrapping and cookies and to the best of my knowledge (according to my many spies) at this date, the Boy and I are ALL TIED UP!

My sister Becky has provided a mystery prize for the winner which makes this year's competition the first one with a prize that is more than bragging rights.

{Thanks Aunt Becky!}

Soooooo I've read a book or two this year and here are the ones (in no particular order) that warmed my heart or rang my bell or made me smile or made my heart beat just a little faster or maybe a little bit of each of those:


The Storied Life of A.J. Fickry (click on title to go to the Amazon link for each book)

Written by Gabrielle Zevin. A CHARMER of a book. If you love books I can't imagine that this book wouldn't make you happy or like me sad...that it ended way too soon. This book earned it's own post here at The Wright Place earlier this spring.

The Rosie Project

Graeme Simsion has written a fun book with a unique central figure in Don Tillman who is searching for a bride using a scientific questionaire and formula. Full of colorful characters and lots of other "colorfulness," Rosie will surely make you grin. 

Station Eleven

Emily St. John Mandel had written three books before Station Eleven but all indications are that this one is her breakout novel. Writing about Amazon's "Best Book of September" Neal Thompson says, 
“No more ballgames played under floodlights,” Emily St. John Mandel writes in this smart and sober homage to life’s smaller pleasures, brutally erased by an apocalypse. “No more trains running under the surface of cities ... No more cities ... No more Internet ... No more avatars.” What’s touching about the world of Station Eleven is its ode to what survived, in particular the music and plays performed for wasteland communities by a roving Shakespeare troupe, the Traveling Symphony, whose members form a wounded family of sorts. The story shifts deftly between the fraught post-apocalyptic world and, twenty years earlier, just before the apocalypse, the death of a famous actor, which has a rippling effect across the decades."
I didn't find the book nearly as dark as I'd feared it would be and the writing was lovely. Give this one a try, you won't be disappointed.


Have we talked about Marilynne Robinson? She's a brain who can write for real readers...except for her essays which may well be understandable to real readers but which are completely above my comprehension but I still like how she writes all of those essays that I don't quite get because the writing!! So good. This year the MUCH awaited Lila was released. Lila is the third book in Robinson's trilogy often referred to as The Gilead Trilogy (Home, Gilead, Lila). You don't necessarily need to have read Gilead first, but I think it will enhance your experience with Lila. I heard recently that you don't read Robinson's work to enter her stories, you read her work so that you can live the stories through her characters. This is one to read slowly and savor.

The Book of the Dun Cow

I've always known of Walter Wangerin Jr. because I read his writing about marriage over 20 years ago. The man can put words on a page in an arresting way for sure but what I am just amazed about is that in The Book of the Dun Cow he managed to write a book that kept me enthralled and the teenagers engaged and Kate enjoying and Molly...Molly was so sad when it ended and has over the last months followed me around with the book begging me to read it again to her. It is written for adults. It is an allegory. It is phenomenal. As I read it aloud to the kids the story helped to heal some tender places in me. I was not surprised to find it on this list of 10 Books That Heal You a few months ago. You can find this as an ebook for Kindle for $2.99 here. It will be the most unique book you've read in some time, but you'll be better off for having read it.

Dear Mr. Knightley

A modernization of one of my favorite books of all time Daddy Long Legs (by Jean Webster ). Written in letters to Mr. Knightley the story's protagonist is the beneficiary of a scholarship based on one condition: that she write regular letters to the person anonymously granting the money for her education. The novel is well done and will make your heart pitter patter as you come to a few enlightening conclusions far before the scholarly letter writer.

Small Blessings

This book has the same feel as The Storied Life of A. J. Fickry  but with a much different storyline. The happy reviews for Martha Woodroof's charming work go something like this:
"Woodroof nails the debut novel: This warm, wise tale leaves a smile long after the final page is turned." —People Magazine
“This book is a charmer: quirky, clear-hearted and effervescent.” —
“A warm, caring and thoroughly entertaining debut that reads remarkably well.” —Library Journal (starred review)

"Along with dark humor and a confident command of story, strong characters and absurdist twists add to the fun.” —Publishers Weekly
"A delightful tale about what happens when good intentions go well." —Good Housekeeping
{And these too: All the Light We Cannot See...beautiful, written with light! The Time In Between...loved everything about is huge and it ended too soon.}


Let's Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell 

This is a beautiful book about friendship between two writers who meet at a dog obedience class they've taken with, of course, their dogs which figure largely in the story but in a way that won't at all bother a non-animal sort of reader. If, however, you are an animal lover, you will enjoy this true tale all the more. The friendship displayed on these pages made me want to be a better friend.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Stephen King!?!? Are you kidding me? Am I kidding you? No, neither of us is kidding. This is the only book of King's I've ever read and it was so excellent that I was tempted, though for a short while only, to attempt another of his books...I do not have the stomach for his others though. I loved this book. It helped me, it made me laugh, and it made my family laugh as I read King's very funny description of his not very funny life-threatening experience of being hit by a car while walking down a country road. With warmth and humor King tells the tale of how he tells his tales and also of his rise to writing fame. 

Pursue the Intentional Life by Jean Fleming

The best spiritual growth book of my year. I wrote about it here for the Nourish Series. I am planning on beginning it again in the new year. So so good. I can't think of a soul who wouldn't benefit from the wisdom on these pages.

{And... True Companion: Thoughts on Being A Pastor's Wife; The Nesting Place: It Doesn't have to be Perfect to be Beautiful}

There are ten of the books {and four others} that made my 2014 more special but so many more added to my days. All of my books to date are listed here at

Happy Happy New Year! I wish you many happy reads in 2015!

Now ...I'm off to dive into my current book...there's still time in 2014 for me to attempt an upset!

If you, like me, are crazy for year end booklists head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy's Best Books blog post for list upon list upon list. It's the perfect place to plan your reading for 2015! 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Post-Christmas Post

It's two days after Christmas and there are still leftovers in the fridge, lights on the tree, and fresh toys and games and clothes to be enjoyed. We have been loved on by our families we have visited with friends, we have enjoyed the pleasure of a gift card or two, and we are ever so gently turning our attentions toward the new year...but first I want to sit and ponder this Christmas for just for a few moments more...

There was a sweet Christmas play...

...there were cookies...

...and more cookies...

...and cookie helpers...

...for a Christmas Cookie Reception...

There was Christmas with cousins just a few days before...

 Then Christmas day...

...listening intently as Dad read the last Advent reading before opening gifts... ;-)

Then there were the gifts.

Teenager-y clothes gifts...

Gifts that required driving to other towns to obtain...

Gifts that brought great joy...

Gifts that promise adventure and luxury...

...and gifts WHO are precious...

There were grandparents...

Then there was Christmas dinner.

There is one more Christmas memory I'd like to record...actually, I've already recorded it from around the corner when a little girl thought she was alone and it is easily my favorite thing from this season...

...because if there is no Christmas story and no Christmas Savior...none of the rest of Christmas matters at all...

...but there IS the Christmas story and there IS a Christmas Savior. 

"The Christmas candle burns hot...,giving its brilliant light, because Christmas goes on forever. Because we have Jesus with us--the greatest Gift of unfailing, unbeatable, unstoppable love that we can keep unwrapping all our days." ~Ann Voskamp

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