Posted in musings


When I was in elementary school, I loved peanuts. Especially the kind roasted still in the shell, papery and crumbly at first, then rich and buttery on the inside.

My grandma used to love peanuts too, and every time she came to town we would buy a bag or two to set out on the kitchen counter. I remember what a treat it was to stand around the counter with her and whoever else was around (my mom working in the kitchen, perhaps, or my dad sharing in the snack), crushing the shells and slipping out the brown nuts, accumulating a pile of dusty debris, the slow process of unshelling the perfect companion to conversation.

She must have held those moments dear as well, because every summer when I would go away for summer camp she would send me a care package with a bag of peanuts. Every summer, every time, without fail. To get a care package to a week-long summer camp on the other side of the country reasonably early in the camp requires much forethought, but she never let me down: I could always count on her peanuts and Maria cookies.

We don’t eat peanuts much together anymore, and haven’t for years. I had forgotten all about it until Rondel discovered roasted peanuts this week, actually. Her diverticulitis makes it much less enjoyable for her! But I’m glad I thought of it again, that I have those simple rituals of our relationship to remember. Because things don’t have to be complicated or extravagant to be important, and love colors even the most mundane things with beauty and value.

Posted in family life

the importance of words

Everyone always says that little kids pick up on everything going on around them, and understand far more of what they hear than you might expect – but it’s still hard to really believe it and act on it until you see evidence of it with your own kids! They just seem so deep into their own world that you don’t expect them to be paying attention to what you’re saying to another adult…

Last night, as we were reading our bedtime books, Rondel said somewhat sadly, “You don’t sleep very well.” (He refers to himself in the second person – I brought it up with the pediatrician and she thought it was hilarious and not something to worry about, which was reassuring.) I’m guessing he had heard my husband talking about how our kids in general aren’t great sleepers, because Limerick has lately been having some sleep struggles reminiscent of Rondel’s younger days, and taken it personally, and become concerned about it.

But the thing is, Rondel has been sleeping amazingly well for the past month or so, ever since we settled into a consistent routine – going to sleep without tears and protests, sleeping through the night, and waking up at a reasonable time (you might call it an ungodly early hour, but it’s when I have to get up for work anyway). He doesn’t like going to bed, but what kid does?

So I told him exactly that: that even though he doesn’t like going to sleep and it can be hard for him to calm down after a busy day, he has been sleeping really well. I told him how proud I was of him for getting into bed with a good attitude every night, and doing something that was hard for him, and sleeping so well all through the night. And he just lit up with this shy little smile, and scrunched up his shoulders, and I gave him a big hug for being my sweet and wonderful boy, just the way he is 🙂

Then I resolved to be more careful about what I say about the boys in front of them!

Posted in family life, phfr

{pretty, happy, funny, real} – a big announcement!

Well, the boys and I managed to finish our teaser project from last week, and while it didn’t turn out quite as nicely as my Pinterest-addled mind envisioned, I’m still pretty happy about it 🙂





The second picture has better smiles, but something about the first picture just seems fitting for two boys expecting a new sibling! Rondel’s somewhat suspicious face says, are you sure this is such a good idea? – while Limerick just looks slightly in shock! So I can never decide which one I like better…


Of course, most of our takes ended up along these lines:

L: Mom! It fell off again!
Me: Stop pulling it off then!

It would have been cute as well to have me holding the number 3, but that would have required another photographer so it wasn’t logistically going to happen this week. Another pair of adult hands would have simplified the process greatly though! No sooner would I position the kids and run back to the camera than they would start scooting around or becoming distracted by everything around them. I just considered myself fortunate that they were mostly happy throughout the proceedings 🙂


They were much happier when I let them run wild on the little walls and hills and explore the number boards in their own way! I have no clue how professional photographers get toddlers to look so good in posed pictures.

So… the details? Our new little one will be arriving sometime around Christmas, and we are so excited to welcome him or her into our family. I’ve been significantly moodier and queasier with this pregnancy so I have my suspicions that it may be a girl, but we’ll have to just wait and see – it could be that I’m just out of shape so my body is protesting more 🙂

I am beyond excited to be able to walk through this Advent season with Mary, growing heavy with child, pondering the mystery of the Incarnation as the mystery of new life blossoms within me (and probably aching for the pregnancy to be over like she must have been at the end as well!). It just seems like it will be a special way to experience Advent and Christmas, a new way to see the wonder and the gift of the baby Jesus. Hopefully I will be able to hold to that instead of letting stress and busyness run my days.

Head on over to the link-up at Like Mother, Like Daughter to share in each other’s everyday joys and struggles!

Posted in musings

“closed-hand” issues and confusing terms – a quibble with my pastor

In church on Sunday our pastor was distinguishing between what he called “closed-hand” issues (what C.S. Lewis might have termed Mere Christianity, the essential doctrines of the faith) and “open-hand” issues (points that aren’t clearly taught in Scripture and about which Christians are free to disagree, like the details of the end times or evolution). I was nodding along with him, as this is familiar territory for me, expecting him to take it in a truly ecumenical Lewisian fashion, when he suddenly burst out sola scriptura as a core, essential, inarguable tenet of the faith.

Excuse me?

I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt, and suggest that he simply meant to say that Scripture is inerrant and authoritative, the primary guide for our faith, because I don’t think any Christian group through the millennia of the Church would disagree. But what he actually said was that Scripture is the sole authority for the faith and for Christian living – and that is not Biblically taught and was not held by the Church for the majority of her existence. Logically, this makes sense. The Bible can interpreted in a million ways, some of them drastically different and leading towards widely varied ends, so as a sole authority it doesn’t seem to be very well-suited for keeping either orthodoxy or orthopraxy intact. There has to be some way to determine which interpretations are valid and which are heretical, and since Jesus is no longer living on earth to deliver those kind of judgments, it would make sense for the authorities within the Church, led by the Holy Spirit, to have that kind of authority.

If the Church isn’t led by the Holy Spirit, than to trust her authority and direction on the interpretation of Scripture would obviously be a dicey matter, no different than turning to any random person on the street and following their opinion. But we do see in the Bible Jesus promising to send the Holy Spirit to remind the apostles of everything He taught; we see the Spirit coming down with power and transforming the apostles and other believers; we see the early church following the decisions of the apostles as to which laws and traditions to live by. Was that just because they didn’t have a written Bible yet? Did all those councils and traditions and oral decisions become unnecessary once the Bible was assembled? Considering the number of heresies and divisions that have arisen in the 16 centuries since then, I don’t think so. We still need a person, or people, led by God, to clear up arguments and prevent error from creeping in to our understanding of the inerrant Word.

So please be more clear, pastor, about your terms and definitions. Please try not to exclude the vast majority of Christians throughout time and space from your tight definition of the “closed-hand” issues one must believe to be truly Christian by narrowing down the broad historically-accepted truth into your Protestant doctrine, which may or may not be true (I’d love to hear your arguments for it!) but which is most definitely not universally believed by even the great Christians of the past.

Posted in family life

Rondel and role play

Rondel decided a few days ago that we are all different characters from Pixar’s Cars movie, and assigned us specific roles.

He, of course, is Lightning McQueen. Sometimes he will run through the house revving his engine, screeching his brakes, or crashing into things…

Limerick is Red the fire truck, at least in Rondel’s head – he doesn’t really get it.

My husband is Sally, I am Doc Hudson, and Rondel’s grandma, grandpa, and uncle are the Sheriff, The King, and Mater respectively.

It’s kind of funny because he won’t refer to us by any other names, and he’ll correct us rather emphatically if we refer to someone in the family by another name.

I was beginning to worry about this kind of imaginative play, wondering if the influence of the movie made his pretend play more rigid and less his own, when I remembered that I did exactly the same thing with the Cinderella movie when I was his age. My pretend play probably had even less complexity than his, since I didn’t have quite so many roles to assign and since I didn’t really ever deviate from the movie’s plot like Rondel will – and it didn’t hurt my creativity in the least. I was still wildly creating my own stories all through childhood (and indeed into adulthood).

So for now I will just enjoy being Doc Hudson and race with my Lightning all through the house!

Posted in family life

rondel the storyteller

In the last few weeks Rondel’s imagination has really taken off, along with his storytelling ability, and all throughout each day I am treated to the most creative and hilarious stories about us, his toys, and characters from his favorite books.

At dinner, his broccoli becomes the apple tree from Harold and the Purple Crayon (by Crockett Johnson, 1955 – a book that deserves to be on our next favorite book list post), complete with a fierce dragon guarding it – but fortunately he eats it without waiting for the “apples” to turn red!

When “reading” one of his books, all the other literary figures he’s familiar with make their way into the current book to join the main character in his adventures, so that this afternoon If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (Laura Numeroff, 1985) became Tom and Pippo Eat Cookies and Chips with a Mouse, borrowing the delightful Tom and Pippo from Helen Oxenbury’s series and telling me on every page what they were doing with that incorrigible mouse.

His race cars crash and blow their tires and race like he’s seen in Pixar’s Cars movie, but they also take time to snuggle and nurse, and some special ones (his description) have extra seats to hold “big boys” and babies, along with the mommies and daddies needed to take care of them. Some of the race cars themselves are baby cars, who need extra help to do various stunts, while the big boy cars can do pretty much everything 😛

And the best part is the way he tells the stories! He typically starts off very serious and thoughtful, creating the scenario and carefully describing it – but as he picks up steam, he gets faster and faster and more and more ridiculous, until at the end we are both laughing hysterically together at the utterly nonsensical conclusion he’s reached. This is the creativity I’ve always assumed young children have, and which I’ve been waiting to see in my own kids, not being exactly sure at which age to expect it, and it is amazingly fun to watch it develop! I hope he is able to cultivate this ability to tell stories as he gets older, because one of my favorite childhood memories was listening to my dad tell stories (real and made-up) at the dinner table each night, and as I very painfully lack said talent myself it would be the next best thing to experience it again in this next generation.

Posted in family life, phfr

{pretty, happy, funny, real} – some crafting with the toddlers

The boys being very excited about painting for various and sundry reasons, I pulled out my previous finger paint recipe and took the boys outdoors with some paper and sponge brushes. (A cornstarch-based edible paint would probably be less messy and sticky, but I didn’t have enough cornstarch to make it work. So condensed milk it had to be.)





I mixed up just the primary colors to avoid ending up with just a brown mess, and I love the way the different colors combined on the paper, brushes, and sidewalk. It was also interesting seeing the different ways the boys painted: Rondel using wide sweeping strokes on the paper, blending the colors together thoroughly and without subtlety; Limerick flinging the brushes in the air above the paper to make fine strings and drips of paint below, far more into the process than the product.


Rondel absolutely loved everything about painting. He loved mixing the different colors, testing the different brushes to see what they produced on the paper, and creating something from the raw materials available. He didn’t complain once about the stickiness of the paint, even when it dripped on his legs or when he decided to paint with his fingers to see how it compared to the brushes – which is a huge deal for this little boy who is (or used to be?) so sensorily sensitive. He also didn’t panic or get upset with Limerick at all, even when they wanted the same brush or color paint. It was good to see him so involved in the process of creation that he was able to tune out or ignore the physical discomforts of a hot sidewalk and sticky paint as well as the emotional distraction of a younger brother sharing the brushes and paints.


Limerick dove into the painting process with his characteristic no-holds-barred exploratory attitude (which is one of the things I enjoy most about his personality!), dripping paint off his brush onto the papers and sidewalk with intense interest in how the paint flew and fell, with the side-effect of becoming very sticky and colorful himself… and then suddenly he realized how sticky he was and fell apart, attempting to cling to me with wriggly snuggles in his upset. Being set in the bathtub cheered him up considerably 😛


In addition to their free play exploration painting, the boys helped me with one of my projects with some acrylic paint on wood. But since I haven’t yet finished the project, all you get are the teaser photos 🙂 I promise you it’ll be a good one when it’s done, and I hope to have pictures of the final product up next week!

Head on over to Like Mother, Like Daughter today for the link-up and share your captured moments of everyday contentment with the rest of us!