Showing posts with label monthly reflections. Show all posts
Showing posts with label monthly reflections. Show all posts

october in words

(I am rarely this wordy. You've been warned.)

So I don't quite know what has happened to my blog here, but October 2013 is probably my personal worst for blogging consistency. Days have been full though. I thought I'd take a post to give an honest catch up.

We joined the Y this month and I really like it. I mostly go for the HGTV, but I'm beginning to go to more classes where I actually feel social pressure to break a sweat. I also attended a water aerobics class early one morning at the senior center pool. It's through the Y, but as I found out, attended by mostly 75-year olds. Naturally I loved it. These are my people. Our teachers name is Marilyn and that sort of sums it up. Everyone wears tennis shoes in the pool or aqua socks and I was told I should use the biggest water weights "because I could handle them." That was good for my self esteem.

We have been sort of working in manic-squirrel mode around here preparing for winter. Rory is working hard to get a ceiling in around his chimney for the stove in his office. When that's done his office will be winterized. I am on a never ending mission to organize and clean my garage so we can pull both cars in. My efforts are greatly slowed by the two cats and three chickens who delight in my presence, wrapping themselves around my legs, happily clucking after me everywhere I go.

I have been walking through a sort of revival of the soul this month. We go to a prayer meeting two doors down every Tuesday night. It's an amazing group of earnest seekers of Christ and I love every minute. We've done some book studies but now we're doing a series by Joyce Meyer on taking your own thoughts captive. She's all about taking personal responsibility for your own self, your attitude, the way you react. I'm feeling conviction all over the place. She talks a lot about self-pity and says, "you can't be both pitiful and powerful." Rang like a bell.

I also got to teach for a morning at our church's women's book study. It was really fun to be in that mode again. It has been so, so long since I've done any sort of public speaking and it felt good. A bit rusty, but really good, too.

And Rory has been teaching a class at our church on Sunday mornings before the service begins. He's walking through CS Lewis' Mere Christianity, teaching from the book while weaving in discussion questions. It's so rich. Feels like a feast. Rory has a great pace to his teaching, and the material is so substantial, so articulate, and such a great reminder of the great story of God's Kingdom we are living under.

Rory and I went to the Sara Groves, Andrew Peterson and Bebo Norman concert earlier this month, followed by two nights at the Westin in Edina. The getaway was needed, wonderful, and way. too. short. We've been listening to a whole lot of Andrew Peterson ever since the concert and I can't get enough. Andrew has a way of writing songs that constantly point to the larger story that our story hangs on. Just like Lewis in the paragraph above, Andrew is always singing about the reckoning, wondering how long it will be until this earthly story concludes, singing about the loss of youth but a readiness for the eternal. And he's a poet, so the way he writes and sings makes things feel new again. Every song makes my heart beat a little harder, excited to be a part of God's kingdom work, excited to be hands and feet, excited to be His.

We have had a ton of company this month. I remember this about last October too. Somehow this is the month we seem to book up with dinner guests and visitors. It's awesome and makes our farm feel alive and bustling.

And finally, last night we had our friend Jaime come out to take family pictures. Jaime and I had talked this August while sitting on beach chairs by prior lake and I was debating if a photo shoot with a one and two year old was even worth it. Felt like such a gamble. Late in the game (this month) I decided we should give it a whirl. They're only this age once, right? So Jaime came and we laid out our colorful quilt under an oak tree back in the woods. And we set our children up and watched them wiggle away. And then Vernon, the orange cat came and photobombed for a long while. And eventually Elsie was crying crocodile tears as she shivered in the cold.

I think we got a few shots, but boy was it work.

Fast forward to two hours later when we're just back in the house and Elsie starts screaming. Her thumb is purple again (she had slammed it in the toilet seat earlier this week) and it looks out of joint. She can't pull it together and eventually lost all of the food eaten during the day. We rushed to the ER, unable to figure out why her thumb was so oddly positioned.

We got there, her thumb was "normal" again, but she had a fever of 101.7 and she continued to throw up. She was miserable. And we felt terrible. We had just spent two hours trying to "cheer her up" for family photos, bouncing her around, making silly faces at her and now the doctor was telling us he was pretty certain she had the stomach flu. He thought the thumb was just a coincidence.

They gave her a tiny Zofran, which felt full circle since I lived on Zofran while I was pregnant with her. She slept great all night, and in a sweet miracle the rest of us did too. She still has a fever and is very lethargic so we spent a lot of time today snuggling and reading board books and watching Thomas the Train. She's so active and busy that the days she wants to just lay in my arms are like a sweet gift. I'll take it.


I've been thinking a lot about blogging lately, wondering if it's obsolete yet. Wondering if people care anymore. But then I just had all of my posts from 2012 printed in a hard cover book and that book is like gold to me. It's the baby book I never finished for Ivar, and this blog is the baby book I've never even started for Elsie (for real.) It serves as the 10-year diary I wish I kept up with like my mother-in-law does so faithfully. And it's the journal I wish I wrote in each night. For now this medium is the only way I have continued any sort of writing life (which has mostly been a picture-describing writing life, but I hope that improves at some point too). But I finally decided that all those reasons are reason enough to keep writing.

Or maybe just for my great granddaughter who may one day crack the printed hardcover blog books open, curious about our day to day life. To her (and to you too) I'd say, "I'm so glad you're here. And I am very grateful you are reading."

May reflections/ toddlers and gardens

Oh man, what a month. Remember the foot of snow we got at the beginning of this month? How bizarre. Followed by one of the rainiest springs ever. The field by our house hasn't even been touched yet. It has been a terrible and sad year for farming.

For us, this rainy weather means that every single sunny minute is reason to get the kids outside. We have been celebrating each lovely day, had a few picnics already and are soaking up all of the green that surrounds us. I said to Ivar recently, "Remember the snow? Now it's all green!" He replied sing song, "Ohhhhh."

A few reflections from the month of May 2013:

Elsie is a toddler.
This is huge. Ivar didn't walk until 18 months, so I wasn't ready for Elsie to become so able so quickly. But a lot has changed in the last week. She now can pull herself up to a standing position on the couch and in her crib. She's done with her exersaucer, johnny jump up, rumble buns, baby gym and everything else that meant we had a baby in the house. At the moment she is playing all by herself in the living room. I can hear her talking and laughing and making loud noises. She is a joy.

The attic crawl space is a bonus storage room.
I have been nervous to use this space because we can hear mice in the ceiling sometimes. But I have reconciled that this is what Rubbermaid's were made for and as long as it is in a sealed tub, we should be good to go. So all of the baby gear and baby clothes and Ivar clothes and maternity clothes have moved into this space which has made a whole lot more room for tools and garden stuff out in the garage.

Our garden is going to be awesome. 
Rory is at it again. This garden is going to amaze and I can't wait. My Aunt Louie told me that she doesn't plan a single thing the whole month of September because that is canning month at her house. I took note of that. As I watch Rory's garden grow I am well aware that the work he is putting in on the front end will be my work on the back end and I'm ready for that. I am currently checking out lots of books from the library with canning recipes. I am especially excited about a recipe for a pickled veggie mix you put on Italian sandwiches. Anyone have a favorite canning recipe?

april reflections: the long winter

This is what it looks like out our window right at this moment and it's likely to continue throughout tomorrow. And guess what? It actually did snuff my May Day joy. I didn't really mean for it to happen, but between my upset tummy and the accumulating white stuff, I just gave up and we watched The Sound of Music all day long. Thankfully this day began with a lovely conversation with my old neighbor Kathryn, who told me she made a may day cake for the staff at the elementary school where she volunteers "since it is just a bit too much work to make each staff person a basket." :)

Well,  it has been a long winter. But when you compare this winter to Laura Ingalls' Long Winter, there are some differences. For example, we're not binding corn husks together because we ran out of coal for our only heat source. And we're not grinding our wheat in a coffee mill in order to make brown bread. And we don't wake up with snow on our quilts because the roof isn't sealed. And we're not starving to death. So that's good.

But it has been a long winter.

Rory and I went to an event a few weekends ago where we spent two entire days outside. It was about forty degrees one day and thirty the next. But we dressed for it, and I felt great. It was so good to be outside for that much time and a good reminder that I really should get cross country skis or snow shoes for next winter. I think that would help me get outside for longer stretches of time.

**So I'm not super reflective this month. But you can click on the following to read my January Reflections, February Reflections and March Reflections all inspired by my 2013 word of the year: Reflect.

March Reflections: the importance of sleep and melting snow

March was a slow month with lots more snow and cold while rejoicing at every single sign of spring!

Above, Elsie is wearing a bonnet that I wore when I was her age. I love it. I think she'll be wearing it a lot this spring. Because guess what? She's a red head. Not sure when I can officially call it, maybe baby hair changes color? But at the moment it seems I will have a fair skinned, red head. (As if she could get any cuter!) I'm already nervous about skin protection.

Alright, without further adieu, here are my March Reflections:

Elsie is sleeping for 10-12 hour stretches now. And we are new creations. I still wake up and obsess over stupid things and am trying really hard to break the middle-of-the-night routine of self critique. Reading lots of books and having helpful conversations. Feels like progress.

Long Winters eventually bring Great Joy
Historically, I like winter. I always get excited about snow and on the whole, enjoy the season. But this year it was so cold and the ice made walks outside treacherous. So outdoor play wasn't really an option, walks seemed risky and the winter was/is long (25 degrees today...) Everyone is feeling it. Everyone.

However. When the snow does start to melt and the temperatures do warm up, there is a shared elation that it hard to describe. If it's 40 degrees we ditch our big coats and make fast runs from our cars into buildings. People attack their driveways with gladness, helping the water flow into the street, assisting the snow in melting faster anyway we can. Some shovel their banks out onto the road so the blacktop can melt it quickly. We get desperate. We are ready to see green grass and tulips and daffodils and tree buds. The sound of ripping the plastic off of our windows sounds like many hallelujahs. We are so ready.

Brussels Sprouts
I've been making brussels sprouts for lunch lately. And it was only after emailing someone about this new favorite veggie did I realize that the Brussels is plural. I've always called them Brussel Sprouts.

Now, if you're looking for something yummy, put some olive oil (quite a bit) and onion in a skillet, throw in your halved brussels sprouts, let them brown up nicely, cover with a lid and then add some chopped salami or ham or already cooked bacon. And then sprinkle with a bit of sugar (they are so bitter!) or some chopped apple and walnuts and finally some Parmesan cheese (I like shaved...)  It is so yummy and hearty and Rory likes it too.

Ivar does not.

I am not finished yet.
I hosted the Groves family for Easter yesterday. It was my first time hosting for a holiday since we now have the room to have the family over. The day was nice, but I didn't have the coffee stuff together for the dessert, didn't have the forks or spoons ready and just felt sort of scattered. I told Rory that I want to check out some Emily Post books at the library and maybe take one of those refining classes where you balance books on your head. Rory said, "you mean finishing school?" And I said, "Yes! I am not finished yet!"

And now, be sure to come back tomorrow for a big announcement. We have added to our family. More than doubled it, in fact. These pictures might kill you with cuteness.

february reflections/ postpartum and naming my fears

I actually have felt myself growing this month. I feel wide open, aware of my weaknesses and am able to look right at them. Aware of my fears. Able to name them. It's not often I have this sort of clarity, so I am counting this as a blessing, though it is a vulnerable place to land.

I chose this picture to put with this post because I want my kids to forever see me growing and becoming the woman God made me to be. I want them to see me treat myself kindly, listen for God's leading and not afraid to be vulnerable and tender.

February Reflections:
A Humbling: Without going into all of the details I have been humbled this month like I have never been humbled before. In a task that I felt fully confident and empowered to lead, I think I may have missed the mark. And this has left me with my head bowed, my heart softened and my ego deflated.

God's Will: I have a dear friend who has lost three babies. I heard a story of three sisters in a fatal accident that knocked the wind out of me. I have a friend who just had her ultrasound and was told the very thing a mom and a dad hope never to hear. It has left me in a place where I wonder why some live to 98 and others will never take a breath out of the womb. But I've been reading my Bible and finding comfort. And that feels good. And better than good, it feels loving. I always feel so loved when God continues to teach me. Through Job and Isaiah, Matthew and Paul I am learning much.

Postpartum: I looked up symptoms and signs of Postpartum Depression. I found one very helpful site that listed six surprising symptoms. Anger and Irritability was number one. Trouble falling asleep and going back to sleep was number two. I've had these symptoms in spades and I took some comfort just knowing there really are intense hormones at play in my body. I also think this has been a long winter and that moving to a new home has played into my daily outlook, but I also think postpartum is real and I've been affected.*

Hard on myself: I think this is a result of the above, but I have been terrible to myself. I come home from gatherings and replay every stupid thing I said. I beat myself up for having talked too much. I replay conversations and feel guilty for having missed obvious topics that deserved a quality follow up question. It's ridiculous. I can write about this today because I had a nice day of good conversations. But I have spent far too many evenings laying in bed wishing I had acted differently, reacted differently, said something or not said something. It's exhausting. And it is time to start accepting myself, foot in mouth and all.

And so this is where I begin the month of March. I have a few goals for this new month:
1. Be nicer to myself
2. Keep reading my Bible
3. Pray and Meditate
4. Get outside for walks, take my multivitamin, buy more daffodils and tulips, drink lots of fresh squeezed citrus juice and play more music

March should be good. It's my birthday month, afterall!

January Reflection/ rhythm and routine and the tripod of happiness

My one little word for the year is Reflect. And so far it has been the most fruitful little word I could have ever chosen. My hope and goal is to spend time at the end of each month, reflecting on how we spent our time, how I reacted in certain circumstances, how I want to change in the month ahead.

Intentional Reflection is a powerful thing. It means that in the moment I take the time to think. Why am I so frustrated right now? What is making me feel like this? Why is this a part of my life? What could I change to make this improve?

After getting the root of these questions, I found some helpful insight that helped me make some changes. Here are some concrete reflections I jotted down throughout the month.

+Rhythm and routine turn mayhem into order. And I love order.
I discovered this during a huffy moment in the laundry room. I was at my wits end at the perpetual nature of laundry. Never ever done. Never ever all put away. Never ever ending. So I took some time to think through this one and realized that I could pick a day, just like Ma Ingalls, and do the whole shebang. Wash everything. Put all the clothes away, stack up those empty laundry baskets and kindly inform the rest of the family that I would be happy to do their laundry next Monday, a full seven days from now.

Oh my. What a life changer. No kidding. We're going on our third week and it still makes me giddy to think about. My favorite quote was Rory, "you know, since I know these jeans won't be washed until Monday, I'm going to wear them a few more times." And now we can see why I was in such a tizzy about the laundry. And we can see how sincerely life altering Laundry Day has become.

More on Rhythm and Routine another time. Wait until I tell you about Grocery Night. er...maybe I just did.

+I have a Tripod of Happiness.
If one of the three legs isn't being met, I might fall apart (or tip over as the imagery here would suggest.) My Tripod was discovered by my husband, who tends to simplify my frustrations and emotions for me. The 3 legs: Sleep, Connection and Productivity. If I'm not getting good sleep, like say for the last six months, I can be quite temperamental  If I feel disconnected from friends and life giving relationships I feel sorry for myself and isolated. If I "don't have anything to show for my day!" then it is time to get out the modge podge, write a blog post or sort the junk drawer. Which all seem to fulfill that leg.

+Not watching TV actually does mean you read more books. 
I cannot recommend Hannah Coulter enough. If you have anyone dealing with the loss of a loved one, this novel will help heal, I am convinced. The wisdom and truth written in these pages made me remember the power of a great book. I loved The Long Winter, as I have loved all Little House books at age 31. Keep thumbing through Writing Down the Bones, a favorite I return to again and again.

+When I eat good and healthy foods I feel good and healthy. When I eat crappy foods I feel crappy.
This is a great, elementary learning. I still crave the crappy food. But if I remember this little truth, I can usually convince myself that I can eat something better and will feel better after.

my 2013 one little word

This has become a very favorite part of my new year. Inspired by Ali Edwards, I have chosen one little word to be my focus for the year ahead. The first year my word was trust. The next year my word was try. Last year my word was kitchen table (yes, that is two words). And I am really excited about my word for this year.

This word came to me early in December while sitting in a hot bath. The word hit me and I thought, "well that's it. That's my 2013 word."

And the word is: Reflect. I thought of it because as I sat in that tub I was aware that I was taking time to think. It was quiet and I was thinking through how I spend my time. Why I react like I do. And wondering if a few changes might make a big difference in my day to day. I was taking time to reflect. It felt like I was finally taking a big deep from my belly.

I love this. I love what this word invites. 2012 was a busy year with a lot of change. And I think I am just now actually realizing how much transition I am still feeling. There is a lot to reflect on.

Already I have started writing a reflection piece on why we made the move from the city to the country. Look for that later this week.

I want to make monthly goals and take time at the end of each month to see what I accomplished and what didn't get done. And then think about the large projects that didn't get done. Why didn't I do them? Do I really want to do them? Can I let these ideas and dreams go?

I want to reflect on why I react to certain things in certain ways. I want to think about how I spend my time and how I might spend it differently, being sure to eek every bit of life out of my days.

And I want to be a reflection of the one who made me. I can only do that by listening for his voice, reading his word, living by his commands, trusting in his promises.

So Reflect. To look backwards. To live forwards. To be present in the moment at hand and live it fully and with purpose.

It's going to be a good year, little word!


I cannot tell you how powerful this little annual practice is. Can't really explain why it is, but something happens when a year is given this sort of focus. It transforms the mind. Gives some clarity and deep hope for the 365 days ahead. If you'd like to join in, please do! You can go here to see Ali's list of little words to choose from if you're having trouble picking one. And let me know what you choose. I'd like to know!

And soon I will reflect on my 2012 two-little-words: kitchen table. A final report card will be given.