Monday, January 27, 2014

Molly Joy's Snowy Sabbath

Hi! Molly Joy here! 

It's been a weird Sunday at my house!

It's really really really cold here where I live and can we JUST talk about all that snow? It seems like it's been snowing for days and days and you know why? Because IT HAS! All of our activities have been cancelled for the last FOREVER and it has been great. I'm only 5 years old, but here's what I know about me: I really like being at home which is what Daddy calls being a homebody. 

But today our church services were even canceled and THAT was just too much. I look forward to Sunday School and seeing my teacher, who is NOT the same as my regular school teacher. My Sunday School teacher is THE coolest (and she brings the BEST snacks). I did not get to see her today because of all the snow. 

I was bummed, but then I overheard somebody say something about sled riding and I told the other kids as fast as I could because around our house, sometimes, if I get my facts mixed up, it's good to have company. It's harder for Mom and Dad to disappoint four kids than just one.  (It took me all of my five years to figure that one out but it's a gem!)

Mom hadn't let us out of the house to play for DAYS because of how cold it's been and because "there's hardly enough snow" she says. Well, Kate says if you can see it on the ground, there's enough to try to sled in. 

Mom was unconvinced... until TODAY!! 

Kate bundled me up until it was tough to move. Mom said that if I was having trouble moving then I was almost bundled enough. Kate was putting snow boots on but my right foot's toes were all scrunched up and I almost started crying. 

"Look, Molly," said Kate not very nicely, "these boots are bigger than your shoe size, they should not be too small." 

FINALLY Mom came down and pulled my boot off and found a sock stuck in the toe of that boot...from last year! 

Then we had our sleds and were out in the snow. We played and played and sledded and threw snow (and ate lots of snow too, but don't tell my mom...she doesn't like us to do that.)

Mom says there is a mathematic equation about how long kids stay out on the snow. It works like this:  you take the number of minutes it takes to get all bundled up and get your boots on and then you divide that by 2.8 and that should give you an idea about how long you'll be outside before the fun wears off and you begin to feel the cold. 

Mom says it's pretty chilly. She said it felt like 12 degrees Fahrenheit. I don't know who that Fahrenheit guy is but he must be kind of, well, not strong, because I didn't think it was that cold at all and neither did Kate. Cole even came out to play for a little bit! 

After about an hour and a half (which Cole says is longer than an episode of NCIS) my hands got cold so I knocked on the front door so that Mom and I could have a talk.

"Hi Mom. I've got snow in my glove and now my hand is all wet and cold."

"And this hat, it's all wet and it keeps falling in my eyes."

"And I think I might have frostbite."

(Right when I said that my Mom sorta started to laugh then she got very serious which I thought was more in keeping with the gravity of the situation. We were talking about possible frostbite after all.

She said, "Molly, since you are so cold and wet, do ya want to come in or do you want fresh gloves and another hat so you can keep playing?"

Well OF COURSE I wanted fresh equipment. It's not every day a little kid gets to play in the snow. It's not every day AT ALL!

Mom said that all of this playing in the snow reminded her of a few years ago when I was too little to go out and play. She says to tell you to click HERE to read about that. And then there was that time when I was TOTALLY old enough to go out and hang with the big kids. Click HERE for that one...there's even a video!

I had a great time playing in the snow today. I hope your Mom let you go out and play too!

“I love snow for the same reason I love Christmas: It brings people together while time stands still. Cozy couples lazily meandered the streets and children trudged sleds and chased snowballs. No one seemed to be in a rush to experience anything other than the glory of the day, with each other, whenever and however it happened.” 
~Rachel Cohn~

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Family Way...

They'd just finished a rousing rendition of a song on K-LOVE as we were heading down the interstate one morning. "Just like the VonTrapps," I joked with my Man, driver of our vehicle of mirth and joy. Upon hearing my comment, the girls next lit into a loud and discombobulated version of Doe A Dear. 

"Ok," said the driver, "get out your books and start reading." 

Ahhhh, peace.

"Mommy! Wanna see my new 'best-friends' handshake?”

"Molly, right now Daddy wants you to read a book, get your book out."

"I didn't bring any books."

{Gasps heard through out the van...heads turned...eyes stared...}

"Molly, you are five-years-old now and you need to understand one of our family ways. When you go out of the house, you need to have a book with you. Do you understand? You never know when your brain is going to need something to do, so it's best to have a book..."

{Molly seeking toy approval...}

"EVEN," said Kate, wise from her vast experience testing the bring-a-book rule to its very limits, "if you are never gonna read it, you have to take a book."

{Kate cozying up to the e-readers...wishing) 

I sat in the dentist's waiting room earlier that very morning listening to a grandma read book after book to what was likely her 3-year-old granddaughter keeping them both happily occupied until it was the grandmother’s turn to see the dentist. 

{Even in the bookstore, they are all drawn to the screens...}

All of a sudden the little book-loving child became a monster in front of me and in front of her deeply embarrassed grandfather who had not a clue about what to do with her...and she knew it. She lay on the floor half crying, half whining, stopping only to lift her head and check with one tearless eye to see if anyone in the small-and-growing-smaller waiting room was watching her show. 

{Meg...enjoying the magazine section}

I was watching her with one eye too but over the top of my book which, because of the family way, I had with me even though I'd only expected to be in the waiting room for less than 30 minutes. My book was a lovely buffer between me and The Fit that was continuing less than three feet from me. My book helped distract my brain from all of the thoughts that were coming fast and furious about how that poor grandpa ought to handle the situation...believe me, I had some thoughts, but they were helpful to neither me nor the grandpa nor The Fit. My book was my rescue!

{Molly, still bookless, and Kate}

So, on I read and eventually, my kiddo was finished getting his teeth cleaned and we retreated to the quiet bliss of our car which would soon be full of the rest of our crew ready to to indulge in another of our family ways...taking over a bookstore on my Man's day off...

{ up...if you can't beat 'em, join 'em}

...then going to fill up on sugar-saturated slushies at Sonic, lest you think all of our family ways are virtuous and high-minded.  

{Lest you think that there are only books for sale in the bookstore...see Kate's bundle}

“His hands were weak and shaking from carrying far too many 
books from the bookshop.  It was the best feeling.”
 ~Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Upside-Down Sunday

{Written on the last Sunday of 2013 as we completed our Christmas travels...}

My kids won't be the pastor's kids today and I won't be the pastor's wife. The pastor, won't even be acting in his role as pastor if, in fact, the role can be separated from the man or from any of the rest of us for that matter. We are visiting a church in another state while on vacation, large yet welcoming, we will simply be filling a pew and worshiping The Lord as His children, nothing more, nothing less. At home on the front pew, under the weight of expectation, imagined or otherwise, things are sometimes a little different. 

We had not exactly planned on visiting this church while we were vacationing away from home, thinking we might return to our home on Saturday and sneak into our favorite church in the town where we live and worship with our own family of faith. Instead, this morning we travel in the opposite direction wearing the best of the clothes we have in our suitcases. 

Blue jeans and tennis shoes are involved, not our normal for a Sunday morning and some of us feel it keenly though one of us is confident that he could indeed preach a hot-hearted sermon in his current attire. I assure him that I do not share his confidence in the matter at all. I'm not under the impression that our clothes matter terribly much in our worship this morning or any other morning for that matter. And our attire is absolutely not enough to discourage our participation in even the most traditional of environments.

In addition to our non-traditional wardrobe, there is not a Bible made of paper to be found among us. Oh, we are equipped with about 14 digital versions so we won't be empty-handed, but we were definitely out of our wheelhouse. 

We've just come out of the worship service and here's what I know...

  1. It is possible to worship sincerely wearing blue jeans. {I knew this already, really I did, I just didn't grow up that way and honestly, I'm concerned my Grandma is looking down from Heaven shaking her head in disapproval!}
  2. The Bible reads just fine from a screen, though I did miss the sound of the pages turning.  I was able to find my place faster, however.
  3. I loved sitting with my whole family during the whole service this morning in the pew, an occurrence that never happens at home.
  4. Six pairs of blue jeans in a row certainly fill a pew. I like that too.
  5. If the children realize you have candy in your purse (because they caught you sneaking some for yourself) you will be as busy during the offering time as you would be if you were one of the ushers.
  6. Four kids and one mamma can put away a fair amount of candy over the course of a sermon.
  7. If you sit on the back pew (oh YES we did) you can exit the sanctuary quickly...unless you kindly force ask your family to pause for a picture or two...or three.
  8. No matter how wonderful the church service was where you might be visiting…it’s always sweeter when you return home to worship with your own church family who know you so well…and love you anyway.

Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth to us… All who have first given themselves to the Lord, should, as speedily as possible, also give themselves to the Lord’s people. How else is there to be a Church on the earth? If it is right for anyone to refrain from membership in the Church, it is right for everyone, and then the testimony for God would be lost to the world! ~C.H. Spurgeon

Saturday, January 4, 2014

My Favorite Books of 2013

I read 42 books this year, one less than my son who, three minutes before midnight on New Year's Eve, completed the book that would bring him to victory in the 2013 reading contest. Some folks party on New Year's Eve, our new tradition is to pile onto the couch in front of the TV and read as hard and as fast as we can until midnight. {No judging please, we are who we are and it seems we cannot be helped.}

After losing the 2012 reading race (also by ONE book), I was determined not to lose the 2013 event. I made a list of books I planned to read, so did my opponent. I read a few of the books on the list, so did my opponent. I read many books not on my list…and…so did my opponent. 

We were serious about victory. Too serious? Never. Our competitive natures served to spur us on to reading accomplishments that nearly doubled our last year’s efforts.

I read all over the map in 2013, fiction, memoir, essay, non-fiction, books with beautiful writing, books with less-than-beautiful words, others with fast moving plots, some instructed, some entertained, others educated, and one or two of them actually made me hungry but all of them, each and every one, left a mark of one sort or another on my world. 

Books are good for that...

These are the ones I finished:

Here are some of my favorites:

Best Fiction:

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty ~ This is the chick lit book that was so much more. A story of choices and their consequences of motherhood and of marriage and family.  It was a page turner that I shared with many friends. Alice was so well written that she seemed like a real person. Read more about how much I liked this book here

Gilead by Marilynn Robinson ~ My affection for this book runs deep. A story of an aging pastor nearing the end of his life. Written in the form of letters to his young son who was born to him late in life. Never sad or sentimental, this book is instead a rich and rewarding read. Gilead, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2005, is the book I'm encouraging my Man to read this year. I listened to it while I ran and can attribute many extra miles to the excellence of the narrator's performance. Such a wonderful ,wonderful book. {Audiobook HIGHLY recommended.} 

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett ~ I read two books by Ann Patchett this year. This excellent, original novel, and a memoir, both were great reads. State of Wonder takes you to the South American rainforest and keeps you on the edge adventure for the length of your visit. This book is both rich in character development and full of action, a lovely combination which makes it a fast and thrilling read. 

Something Missing by Matthew Dicks ~ I began this book in 2009 and set it down for a reason I cannot fathom. I enjoyed the writing, I loved Martin, the quirky main character, I cared about what was going to happen to him. I even carried the book in my bag of books for vacations intending to finish it year after year but ended up letting Something Missing gather dust until the clock on 2013 was winding down and I needed a short book to add to my tally. I was over halfway through this book  already and had only to double back about 30 pages to refresh my memory and the pages flew by so enjoyably to a lovely finish. Don't miss this gem of a novel about a burglar who is charming, eccentric, and a little bit OCD.

Best Memoir:

Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Neiquist ~ This part memoir-part cookbook was the third book by this author that I inhaled this year. Bread and Wine is easily my very favorite book of 2013. There is so much to love about Neiquiet's writing and even more to love about the food I've learned to make from her collection of essays and recipes. Read more about why this one is my favorite here in an earlier post. Also very highly recommended are this authors other two books Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet

Jesus, My Father, and the CIA and Me: A Memoir of Sorts by Ian Morgan Cron ~ I finished this book in the spring while my Man was at a conference. This book was perfect company. There were lessons to be gleaned from its pages, events to ponder, and a scene in the family car that made me laugh until the tears rolled. Throughout, the writing was warm and wonderful.

Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle ~ This book about mothering and its glories and challenges is written in such a way that you feel you've been visiting with a pal over coffee, swapping tales of horror and hilarity sometimes even in the same moments. This was a treadmill book for me. And while running and reading (thanks to enlarged font on ebook) I began laughing so hard that I nearly fell off the belt and had to slow down until I regained my composure. I'm sure I was a sight to behold to my fellow gym-goers! Shankle has another book due out in February on marriage called The Antelope in the Living Room and I'm eager to take it to the treadmill.

A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet: Southern Stories of Faith, Family, and Fifteen Pounds of Bacon by Sophie Hudson ~ Written by one of my favorite bloggers { } , this book was one big warm smile-maker after another. Sophie writes about her friends and family with a distinctly Southern voice in such a way that you feel as if she is writing about your friends and family. I took this book with me on a visit to my Mom and Dad's just to read a chapter aloud to my Mom about how folks dress for funerals among other things. After I read it to her, she ordered two more copies for herself and for her sister. This book may well qualify as my favorite book of 2013 too. {Aren't books like kids? You simply can't pick favorites.} Molly wrote a bit about this book HERE. Please, go make Sophie's acquaintance, I'm confident you will find her a delight.

Best Non-Fiction:

Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem, & the Joys of Motherhood by Rachel Jankovic ~ This is the very best book to give to a mother of young children as was Jankovic's last book Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches. Slim enough for a mother of littles to actually finish but weighty enough to make it worth a busy mamma's time. Excellent.

Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes, and Politics by Charles Krauthammer ~ This book made me think and laugh and stand in awe at the author's ability to write about any subject with wisdom and wit. I thoroughly enjoyed this books tone and scope. Krauthammer writes about NASA, chess champions, Israel, his pets, his past, and his political biography. His best, most charming writing he saves for his pages devoted to baseball which were so well written that even though I'm not a fan of the game I enjoyed them most of all. 

Favorite Cookbooks:

How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman ~ The ultimate kitchen reference. I learn something new every time I open it up and usually it's the very simplest thing that makes the very biggest difference in a dish. Bittman has written many books that are all wonderful. This big one is worth the shelf space!

Keepers by Kathy Brennan & Caroline Campion ~ This cookbook is the perfect salute to family dinner. It's becoming my go to when planning menus and hauling ourselves out of familiar ruts. A current favorite is Japanese-Style "Meat & Potatoes" and on the menu for next week is Pork Tenderloin with Double-Apple Sauce. Using normal, everyday, every pantry ingredients Keepers delivers what its title promises! 

I've put together my tentative To Read List for 2014 which you can view on my Goodreads page here. For more about the other books I read but did not highlight in this post, click here. Do you know about It's a free, online site that helps you keep track of what you read, what you want to read, and what others are reading. It's a super place to get recommendations based on what your reading tastes are.

Happy New Year and Happy Reading!

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