Sunday, November 28, 2010

Little girl in the big city


This week at iheartfaces they are looking for scenic black and white. I love this photo of Bethany at Millennium Park in Chicago. But it is a little surreal to see her so dwarfed, and yet, so at home. Click on the button to see some more great shots, or enter one of your own!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010



This has been another year of blessing in my family, a year where it is hard to give thanks, only because we couldn't possibly list all of the things we have to be thankful for. But each time I feel that way on Thanksgiving, I am aware that so many have to dig very deep to find cause for gratitude. This post is one of the best things I have ever read to help me put it all into perspective. And this scripture reminds me of the blessings that can never be taken away in any circumstance. Wherever you find yourself, may you be filled with the peace of knowing the God who cares so very deeply for you. Happy Thanksgiving!

Praise the Lord, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul
and forget not all his benefits--
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.

He made know his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger , abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children's children--
with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.

The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.

Praise the Lord, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
Praise the Lord , all his works
everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, O my soul.

Psalm 103

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Special Gift

I don't know about you, but during November when I walk into Target to do my grocery shopping and see the Christmas decorations, I feel like hyperventilating. I have to tell myself to breathe deeply, for there is still PLENTY of time to plan and prioritize the ways I will observe the celebration of first Thanksgiving, then Advent, and finally Christmas.
Christmas card 1

Of course, looking for opportunities to get a great family photo is a year-long endeavor. I'm still scheming about that. But here is a great way to use the best of the photos you've been snapping all year long, and for the best price ever...FREE!!! It is never too soon to save money, right?

Christmas card 2
(inside right)

Shutterfly is offering a great deal for bloggers. I have bragged about them before, TWICE, free of charge. (Go ahead, refresh your memory. I'll wait.) But now they are offering to pay me, and YOU!, for blogging about their photo cards and gifts.

See how cute these cards are? Now there is no pressure to get one awesome photo, because you can include several--one great photo of each family member, and a few group shots. They have all kinds of great designs, and you can use one photo, or as many as you want. You are BOUND to find one you love.

Christmas card 3
(inside left)

And all I have to do is press "publish" here, and they are going to send me 50 5x7s of this card. Free! (Did I already mention that?) You can click here to find out how to take advantage of the same deal.


I am in the middle of two photo book projects as well, and have plans for a couple more to use as gifts. The grandparents adore them, and you can make more than one copy of the same book for no extra effort. I know they will have some great specials in the next few weeks, so I am scrambling to be ready to order. My brother and sister-in-law gave all the family members Shutterfly photo calendars last year, and I am hoping for another one (ahem). I keep everything on it, and I love that it is notebook-sized. It's by my computer at all times, except when I am carrying it around.

Thank you, Shutterfly, for my first gift of the Christmas season. Even if it is before Thanksgiving. Merry Christmas to you too!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

So glad I asked!!

One of the big benefits of this blogging business is the collective wisdom available from a very unique and diverse community of individuals. Besides that, we do not have a specified meeting time with children to be farmed out and picked up at a certain time, and a set topic for consideration when we do get together. In what other context would I feel free to take the time to ask a group of wise people to help me figure out how to answer "The Question" (of how my time is spent as a stay at home mom of school aged children) when it arises?

And wise people, you did NOT disappoint! Thank you so very much for helping me process my thoughts about how to speak intelligently to people about my chosen occupation. Your comments make a better post than I could ever write.

Givinya (a.k.a. Kate): "I often think that people's minds would BOGGLE if I were to write a list of the tasks I complete in a day - I am rarely still, I rarely sit down, and I rarely have time for myself."

I know! I often think that, and I don't even have kids at home during school hours like you do. Plus, I don't want to reduce what I do to a list of household chores and task management. It is so much more than that.

Melissa Mae (my dear "Real Life" friend who I truly would talk to face to face about these things if we weren't watching the time and the kids): "I do it so I can spend significantly more time with my children, so I can spend time needed to make healthy meals, so I can proactively engage with their schools, our church, and community, and so I can *try* to keep up with the house and the housework."

I love how this gets to the heart of the matter! I also love that you pointed out the fact that it is a blessing and privilege to "stay at home", and a choice that isn't available to everyone. That's why I think it's so important to answer "The Question" with respect, and also with enough substance to let people know why we would make financial sacrifices to do it. Because yes, our husbands are blessed with great jobs, but we could have a lot more cool stuff and fancier vacations if we chose to continue in paid professions. There maybe people asking the question who don't think they have the option...but who, in reality, might think differently if they understood how the benefits stand up against the cost.

Stitchin' (a.k.a. Marlene): "I do the things others only dream of..."

Your list made me absolutely smile. You are such an encourager. I do a lot of similar things, things that are a blessing to both myself and others. They are precisely the things I would be reluctant to list in response to "The Question", because I LOVE doing them, and I feel as though I am living in the lap of luxury to have time for them. Maybe there is a little part of me that is ashamed to admit how spoiled I am. I probably just need to get over that, huh?

Skeller (a.k.a. Susan): "I'd bet big bucks that you're not a woman to let any dust collect under your feet while you eat bon-bons and watch soap operas."

That makes me laugh! I cannot have sweets in the house because I would TOTALLY sit around eating bon-bons if they were available! We're headed into baking season and I can already hear my jeans stretching. But you're right about the soaps. I don't even know how to operate our TV. You are very kind!

You made a great point about change in acceptance of the stay at home mom since a generation or two ago. Staying home with your kids was the default option back then, so of course it was rarely if ever questioned. Those of us who choose this occupation today may have to go a little farther out of our way than next door to find a support system. I think it's challenging to not sort of band together to fortify a defensive position toward the "outside world". As more of a minority, we have a new position as people who have chosen thoughtfully from a variety of options. While I completely agree that it's precarious to be asked "The Question", it affords me a rare opportunity to influence someone's assumptions about the role of the stay at home mom in family and society, if I am prepared to do so in an engaging manner. Instead of sitting there with my mouth gaping open with nothing coming out like I was the other day. ;-)

Betty: "Me? I could never do it, be a SAHM. I was always at a "job" part time. It was something I needed and brought a balance to my life. I admire women who stay home full time for their family!"

This is a beautiful comment. It acknowledges the fact that we need to know ourselves and our families well and intentionally choose pursuits that bring balance to our lives. That's exactly why I want to be able to articulate my reasons for my choices. The fact that we choose differently doesn't make one any better than the other. I'm SO thankful for the moms who are the teachers at my kids' school. They have blessed us in immeasurable ways through both their educational expertise and their parental wisdom. I'm very glad they have chosen differently from me.

Thanks again, ladies, for giving me such excellent feedback. For the record, I just spent about 90 minutes of my day processing all of this. With only minor interruptions from my telecommuting husband. And a little laundry. In case anyone wants to know. Spoiled, I tell you. Absolutely spoiled. (But I did not watch Oprah.)

UPDATED:  "The Answer" to "The Question" (for me anyway) is now posted here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thank God for Grandparents!

Wow, we have had a busy fall! There has been a lot going on, but the highlight has certainly been welcoming both sets of grandparents to town. Lee's parents came a few weeks ago...


And then last week my Dad and Jeannie came to town. From Florida. Just in time for snow. Sorry guys!


They had made plans for today, but their plans fell through. They called and asked if I could meet them for lunch at what used to be Dad's favorite spot.


I decided to be crazy and go get the kids from school to go with me. Lee joined us.


We had never been to White Castle before, and the kids were most impressed with the computer ordering kiosk.


I was more impressed with the sweet potato fries.


We so appreciate that our parents would go to the effort of coming all the way from Georgia and Florida to visit us, even in the midst of taking care of some health issues. Even as seldom as we see them, our kids absolutely treasure them. So do we.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What do you do all day?

I was sitting at a dinner in a large room full of people, most of whom I didn't know. The woman next to me was in her mid- to late twenties, I suppose, married, no kids yet. We had never met. She was an accountant. She asked me what I do. I told her I used to be a teacher, and retired to be a "stay at home mom". Which I was. When the kids were little and we didn't go much of anywhere. Now the "stay at home" part of being a stay at home mom is totally invalid.

She asked me if I home school. I told her no. But that's not entirely true. We definitely home school our kids. It's just not while they're at public school. Well, except when it is. Because I'm over there quite a bit helping out.

So she dared to ask The Question. She asked it in a very respectful way, because she sincerely wondered...So what DO you do with your time?

It's a fair question. It's one I ask myself all the time. I cannot for the life of me imagine where the time goes. After all, my kids are gone almost seven hours a day. You know what's interesting? I can always tell you what kept me so busy this week. It's rarely what kept me busy last week. Often I forget what kept me busy last week. I think to myself that this is just an unusually busy week in what is normally a very cushy schedule.

I'm too exhausted from my weekend right now to try to think of everything that got me this way, but I'm going to start working on my answer to "The Question". People deserve to know. Because seriously, I have the best job in the world.

Are you a "stay at home" mom? If you are, how would you answer "The Question"? If you aren't, what do you wonder about those of us who are?

UPDATE:  "The Answer" has now been posted!  Also, great discussion in the comments to this post, with follow-up here.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

It seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea.

Staying in bed all day, that is.

Because when you look out your bedroom window and see this:




none of your plans for the day are going to go as expected. They just aren't.

And they didn't.

But I got out of bed anyway.

Because of this.



and this


and this




and this



I'm so glad I did!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


This week over at iheartfaces, the theme is ORANGE.

There was no question which photo I would choose for orange. It was originally posted in THIS, one of my all-time favorite posts, where I tell the story behind the smile.


If you're looking for some photographic inspiration, iheartfaces is the place!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Photo Hunt Kids' Entries

A couple of weeks ago I posted my photos from our photo hunt at the lake. The kids finally picked out their favorites from each category. Here they are in no particular order. They would love any feedback you have for them!


Cool Rock


Beautiful Leaf

Tall Building









Thursday, November 4, 2010


The kids were out of school for parent teacher conferences today. Bethany wanted to make her traditional "Day Off of School Pancakes". By herself. I was happy to let her.


She forgot one thing, however. The batter bowl is too heavy for her to hold with one hand over the griddle while she scoops batter with the other. So she drips batter everywhere, and can't work fast enough to start flipping before the pancakes are too dark. After scooping the first round, she got very flustered and upset and yelled, "I'm not up to it!"

I asked Bethany how many pancakes she thought I made before they started turning out round and golden (almost) every time. She asked, "HOW many?" I told her I had no idea, but a lot. And they're still not all perfect. It reminded me of when I was living overseas and went to a seminar for language learners. The presenter concluded the seminar by saying that research indicates a person has to make a million mistakes to learn to speak a language fluently. "So get out there and make those mistakes!" Bethany laughed at that.

Then I got to thinking of a conversation I had with my 22 year old nephew a few months ago. I asked him if he considered himself a perfectionist. Without hesitation he answered, "Oh yeah! It's the (my maiden name) genes." I laughed at that and told him I've always denied perfectionism in myself based on the condition of my household at any given moment. He said, "People whose houses are always clean aren't perfectionists, they're OCD." I laughed at that, but at the same time felt like I had been "busted" once and for all.

I've been thinking about that for quite some time. I don't want to pass on my perfectionist tendencies to my kids, so I've decided to face them and ask God to help me let them go. I am learning.

The apostle Paul wrote about asking God three times to take away his "thorn in the flesh", something that apparently presented itself as a weakness. But God said to him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Paul continued, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. " (2 Corinthians 12:9)

These verses have never been among my favorites. In fact, I have wished on more than one occasion that they weren't there at all. I want to give God glory by being a shining example of his strength--not by letting him be strong in my weakness. I've been daring to pray that God would allow me to boast gladly about my weaknesses. I know that's about as smart as praying for patience or humility. But it's what I know I need, and I can finally say it's what I want. It's part of passing along a legacy of grace to my kids. They need to know that the God who will always be with them wherever they go is big enough to handle their mistakes. And their mom's mistakes. We can all rest securely in him regardless of our performance.

What hope.

What peace.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Perfect Candidate

Lee and I did our homework for today's election. There were a lot of races to cover, some with quite a few candidates. My husband is particularly diligent about being a well-informed voter, and it is honestly a pleasure to study with him and discuss our impressions of the candidates.

Unfortunately, there are some races in which there seems to be no candidate worthy of the office. This was the case for us today in one of the major races. It is always a disappointment to vote with a sense that there is no really hopeful outcome. In moments like that I always wish that a perfect candidate would arrive on the scene, ready to save the day.


Not that I would be a worthy candidate for any of the offices.


Not that I am even a worthy judge of a candidate's qualifications and character for the office.


There IS One who is worthy of his office. No election is needed to establish his authority. Though he has opposition, none can remove him from power. He has no term of office and no special interests to please, no need to concern himself with public opinion. His favor and influence cannot be purchased. Although many (myself included) are irresistibly drawn to him, it's not because he uses charisma to his advantage. He is the real deal. He is perfectly qualified, and perfectly carries out his role. With justice. Righteousness. Holiness. Mercy. Grace. Love. He is the King of Creation, Ruler of the Universe. He is GOD.

"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."
Revelation 4:11

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Romans 15:13