My Baby is 2!

  
I had my last baby two full years ago. I kind of can’t believe this, but she just blew out the candles, so I it has to be true. I never imagined I would have a daughter and I love it. I mean, I straight up love bows and dresses and pink and dollies. Now that my baby girl’s little personality is surfacing, I melt when she says her s’s and kisses her dolly on the forehead before singing it Jesus Loves Me. 

  
Don’t get me wrong, I’m crazy about my son and all things boy, but this gentle, feminine spirit across the hall just melts my heart over and over. That said, she’s tough. This girl doesn’t cry when her older brother knocks her over or hits her. She doesn’t know any different, so she just takes it and shakes it off. She is determined, too. Rough, tough and focused, I can’t wait to see where she goes in this world. But for now, I get to hold her and rock her to sleep each night. Thank you, God, for my little girl.

  

Book review montage

Let me guess, you think I’ve given up on reading altogether. Not true! I have been on a reading binge, too enthralled to stop for these silly little reviews. So, let me just do a quick montage to give you a sense of where my brain has been and the highlights of my hours spent.

Book 1: Tim Keller’s The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness

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All I can say is that this should be required reading for every Christian on earth. Man. Ugh. Just so TK!

2. & 3. Heather King’s books

The women’s director at my church mentioned she was reading these books by this sober Catholic lady. My interest was piqued and I scratched these two off my list:

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I have a new favorite Catholic. Side bar: I actually emailed this famous author (I randomly found her gmail address online) and she emailed me back THREE whole times! I think what I appreciated most about her story is that she has that ache to write. It only took a law degree and 20 years of substance abuse for her to sit down and actually do it, but she’s doing it!

4. Born to Run

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I am officially the girl who reads books 8-10 years after they’ve peaked. We are way beyond the barefoot running craze at this point and I was able to enjoy this book without totally buying it to its methodologies. The anthropology was fascinating and I cannot go running these days without cracking a smile. I’m just so overjoyed to be able to do it again!

5. OLGA!!!!!

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Meet my new favorite old lady. This chick is kicking it as a masters track competitor and it was only by accident that I picked up this little jewel. I was (in all honesty) looking for Born to Run, but alas it was checked out by someone else far behind the times. So, I grabbed this tiny gem from the library and two days later had fallen in love with elderly athletes, particularly this one.

6. A little Jen Hatmaker in the mix

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Homegirl Hatmaker is hilarious. I have not laughed out loud while reading in quite a while, so it was refreshing to breeze through this grace-filled approach to living as a follower of Christ who is also raising up these tiny humans to survive on their own. I’m not “into” Jen Hatmaker. Yes, I have read 7 and it messed me up a little, but I’ve never seen her show or read any of her other books. I was invited to a book club on this title and it’s the only reason I put it in my Amazon cart. But I’m really glad I did. It’s been fun to loan out and I think I will flip through it again at some point. But the real take away here is that this author is funny! I like funny!

7. Oh, Jeffy

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This is my new fella! Good ole Jeff Galloway has come full circle in my life. I read his Book on Running when I was 17 and just getting into longer distances. 15+ years is a long time. I’ve given Jeff some time to mature and fine-tune his coaching and now I’m mining his endurance-minded brain for lifelong running goodies. This book provides those. I have officially graduated: I am a “Run, Walk, Run” – er. Yep, I have a little timer and everything. I will never again care about times. I just want to run. And this book tells me I can until I’m 100!

8. Get it together!

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First of all, I need to preface this by admitting that I was #65 on the Austin Public Library’s waiting list for this one. Yep, I actually read a book when it was popular. And while I think the author has tiny OCD issues, this was a fun read and all of the clothing drawers in my house are now organized. Hopefully for the long haul. The heart of this book asks the question, “Does this ____ bring me joy?” It could be a shirt or a painting in your den, but are you hanging onto stuff for the wrong reasons? I needed to read this. The book isn’t magical, but it does offer some great thinking points.

 

Alright. I think I’ve proved that I’ve been reading by now.

 

The Practice of Little Jobs

God has provided me with little jobs throughout the years; ones that just so happened to bring in money while also expanding my writing abilities. I have learned to write grants (while simultaneously moonlighting as a novice fiction writer), edit copy for a science educational company, conduct interviews and now write copy.

Before diving into each endeavor, I always wonder if I have what it takes. Can I do this thing I’ve never done before? But guess what, I always do it. “Fake it ‘til you make it” is the motto that keeps this world going. Because if I’m not out there trying and even making mistakes for everyone to see (oh, yes, this happened with a piece I wrote that didn’t receive my final edits and went live for all to read) it will be someone else. So why not have my hand (or pen) in the game?

I go to bed having somehow written – at least the tiniest bit – each day. It may have been copy that played out like a quick timed-writing, scribbles in my journal or an actual blog post that has article potential, but the bottom line is that I am doing what I love and I’m actually making money doing it now, which is deeply satisfying. There really is something to be said for getting paid to do what you love.

Ultimately, it’s all practice.

And I’m out there doing my drills every single day.

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Rearranging Perspective

Because sometimes you end up at Target Returns with three lampshades and a cow head mount. Yep, that was me yesterday.

See, over the last few weeks I’ve visited several houses that have stirred within me a desire for change in my home. I want my home to be a sanctuary of rest and renewal as well as a think-tank for creativity. I love lamps and I want to have them on when I’m here, reflecting off the walls in just the right way, but I don’t think I would have realized it if I hadn’t gone to the final house that caused me to take action. My house will never look like Liz’s, but it was by basking in her decorating prowess that I decided I really needed a change. 

I’ve had this sea-ish shade of blue in my living room since we moved in. The previous owners left the drapes and I just followed suit with their colors.  

  
But I’m tired of this blue and would be just fine never seeing it again. So, I swiftly came home and removed all four 54×95 panels and threw them into the hall closet. They are dead to me –may as well have been burned. I will note that 54×95 panels are rarely sold in stores. They are extra-long and usually have to be ordered online.

About a year ago, I did some curtain transitioning around the house and remembered I had a set of Target Classic faux taupe curtains in the closet. 54×95, to be sure, but I only had two panels. I’m not kidding when I say I’ve searched out every corner of the internet for the other two panels to make a complete set of four. Target is “Threshold” now. “Classic” is so 10 years ago. But, on a whim, I glanced on eBay and found one single panel in the right length! All 95 inches of material were there so I immediately bid. On one panel! I reasoned maybe another random panel would surface somewhere in the continental US at some point within the next year, maybe. I bid and then had the wild idea of messaging the seller to ask if she happened to have another. And, holy cow head, she did. As we speak, they are in the hands of USPS, heading to my doorstep.

Hot off this find and the inspiration of my friend’s decorating and home creativity (gifts not bestowed upon me), I perused my home with new vision. Not long after that I returned home from a Target spree with a few new purchases. I was going for outdoorsy, but hip and classic, as if that exists. I hung a huge cow head above our bed and received an immediate nod of disapproval from both my husband and mother, to whom I was live-tweeting every change. The lampshades didn’t work and one was damaged anyway. Almost everything I purchased went straight back to my car to be returned.

  

In the end I moved around rugs and pictures, completely changing the color palate of several rooms and I ended up keeping only a single lampshade, marked 70% off!

That evening, I plopped down on the couch and laughed to myself, realizing I already had everything I needed right here; I just needed new perspective. How Dorothy of me!

I love the way my house looks now. I feel like my favorite pieces are showcased and enjoyed as I roam my halls.

For two curtain panels and a lampshade totaling less than $40 bucks, I have a completely new look. I probably should have taken before and after pictures, but I’m not trying to attract business and I really don’t enjoy decorating as much as, say, editing words.

My life is overflowing with talented friends. Some of them are painters, seamstresses or decorators, all with talent I will never acquire in this life. But I think we have to focus on our talents. Sure, we explore other areas – I have a whole collection of pastels I drew in college and I had a brief affair with crocheting – but God crafts us each with specific gifts. And I confess there is nothing like operating in those. I like to write and clean up other people’s words. Copy editing sounds painful to some people, but I get almost giddy thinking about it. Then again, picking an accent color sounds like torture to me! So while my house is readjusted to my liking, I think I will stick with rearranging words from here on out.

 

 

Sacrilege: Hamburger Helper on a Bed of Arugula

I used to weigh and measure every morsel of food that went into my mouth. I knew every ingredient I ate and completely abstained from sugar, flour and wheat in any and every form for three entire years. And even though I live in Austin, land of the health obsessed, my life became a small as my waistline. Basically, if I didn’t prepare it, I didn’t eat it.

It took a long time to start eating normally, but you need this thing called a period in order to have babies. So, a treatment center, a dietician and a counselor later, I finally got one and we brought up the subject of having children.

Fast forward through two natural childbirths (in a hospital setting) and some other untraditional parental decisions and here we are. Today our fridge is filled with beautiful fruits and veggies, Red Velvet Ben & Jerry’s and leftover Pizza Hut. I had a spinach smoothie with flax milk and chia seeds along with my buttermilk waffles (made with refined white flour) for breakfast and not one vegetable with my chicken nuggets for lunch. Fish tacos are on the menu for dinner. And I love a Snak Pak pudding around 8pm.

My kids are vaccinated (we skipped Hep B and erythromycin at birth and have a delayed schedule) and they eat string cheese. From a cow. That was probably not raised at a 5 Star farm.

I guess what I’m saying is that while we appear to be uninformed, the opposite is actually true. It’s not that I don’t know about The Weston A. Price Foundation (was formerly obsessed); it’s just that we have chosen a different life. I don’t believe kale, French fries or vaccines are redeeming or damning. They just are. And because we have access to all three, I’m choosing to partake in all three in moderation.

So when someone labels my dinner of Hamburger Helper on a bed of arugula as sacrilege, I take comfort knowing it’s as holy a meal as ___________ (insert your definition of a healthy dinner). Vegans will be vegan, raw foodies won’t cook and run of the mill “health nuts” will justify their animal eating however they choose. But, today I get to eat local meat combined with refined noodles and that makes me very happy.

People change. I haven’t looked at an ingredient list in years. I feed my family a variety of delicious foods that come from this earth. I also let them sample the delicious flavors we have cooked up because sugar and chocolate make life sweet!

Also, you can’t fool kids. They will ask what is wrong with a brownie if you try to sneak in beets. In my world, a brownie is as full of life and health as freshly-picked kale.