Tuesday, March 17, 2015


(From an afternoon spent on a much needed mini-retreat at Tower Hill Botanic Gardens. I drove down by myself and spent a few hours walking slowly through the greenhouses, taking photographs and then settling down a little nook to sketch for a while. It was warm, green, airy and perfectly quiet other than the water fountain and some faint classical music...and it was just what the doctor ordered.)

A little old lady saw me taking photographs and insisted on taking a photo of me, "for scale". :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

these days

A little bit of this and a little bit of that..

- life is full right now. When I'm not teaching, I'm most likely with the kids at my parents house, spending time with my Dad who continues to battle cancer and is going through 3 chemotherapy drugs.  There are many ups and downs, but I'm grateful for these days and Levi and Magnolia are good medicine for everyone. For updates: Caring Bridge: Jay McKenna) 

- speaking of being grateful, this is worth a read "What to do if You Know You Need to get your Rhythm Back" (and I need to get back to my weekly thankful posts!)

- I don't know why it took me 5+ years of $4 lattes to google "how to make your own latte"...but I'm ashamed to say it did. Anyways, a few weeks ago I happened upon a simple little espresso maker and handheld milk frother at IKEA. A couple of youtube videos later and I'm now making delicious and CHEAP lattes of my very own. Game changer.

- I'm afraid Levi and I have been pushing each other's buttons like never before.  He's three (#THREENAGER!), he's been cooped up far too much this winter and potty training has been, well.. difficult to say the least. The other day he said in discouragement, "Mama, you only ever talk to me about things that I don't want to do". That hit me hard. Of course it wasn't entirely true, but it made me remember that I need to fill him up with encouraging and life giving words more often to offset the constant (but necessary) potty reminders, redirections and consequences. On a particularly hard day, Brian suggested I go into his bedroom and watch him sleep for a bit. My husband is so wise...my heart immediately softened, seeing Levi so calm, adorable and small - just him, without the drama of the day. I SO needed that.

- On a more positive note, Levi and I have been making it a habit to climb into our hammock chair and read together while Magnolia naps. Sometimes it's hard to stop myself from using that time to clean the house or get some schoolwork done, but these moments have been so tender and sweet and worth every second. 

- We got together with our homeschool co-op group to make our yearly Easter Gardens. As usual, it was great fun spending time in the warm, sunny greenhouse choosing plants and very meaningful talking about Lent and the Easter story as we plant our little garden. Most nights this lent, we've lit candles, read through gospel stories from The Jesus Storybook Bible and talked about ways we can sacrifice for the good of others.

- Brian has had a busy year as he's been working on his thesis for his master's degree in English/Creative Writing. It was a bit up in the air whether or not he'd have to do another semester, but he pushed through and it looks like he'll graduate in May. I'm so proud of him!

- The other day a Chinese friend at church (who adores Maggie) took me aside to let me know that "Magnolia" in Chinese is "Mulan". She went on to say that the Mulan/Magnolia flower is very revered in Chinese culture and is a symbol of virtue and purity. My Dad and sisters have always loved the Disney movie, "Mulan", so they are particularly overjoyed at this news. ;)

- today was almost 60 degrees! Snow is melting and spring may come after all.. praise the Lord

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Daddy/Daughter, Mommy/Son Date Nights

The week before Valentine's day, our church hosted a Daddy-Daughter date night complete with dinner, dancing, crafts, blessings and roses...so pretty much the cutest thing ever. Sure, we realized Magnolia was a little young and most probably won't remember it, but we also knew that being the extrovert that she is, she'd have a ball anyway and she'll enjoy looking back at the pictures in a few years.

Levi and I couldn't let them have all the fun, so we decided to have our own valentine-y date as well. We got all dressed up and went to my favorite childhood make-your-own-sundae ice cream parlor. We brought along some of his favorite card games to play while we ate our ice cream and we told knock knock jokes all the way home. 

It was fun and very meaningful to spend some intentional time with each of our kids, showing and telling them how much we love and treasure them. I'd love to make this a February/Valentine's tradition as long as they'll let us. :)