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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Maybe I've grown up

I had the rare pleasure of coffee with a friend sans children this morning. We have ten between us, and you know mamas can't talk when managing littles. Anyway, during our conversation we were talking about unexpected friendships and being intentional about pursuing friendships outside of our stage of life. And it hit us both how we're not the YOUNG people anymore...because there's nearly a decade between Us and the young married couples. Ha. How strange.

Yet, this week -for the very first time- I have bought produce with the express intention of freezing it. 10lbs of peaches: in my freezer! And the corn off a dozen ears of corn!
I grew up around large families with whom it was the norm to put up tons of fruits and veg, and my little batches seem infinitesimally small in comparison. But everyone has to start someplace, and I'll not despise small beginnings. 

The other hand of this matter is that while baking bread is my typical signal of "normalcy returned"* (Who wants to bake bread when it's 100 degrees out?), perhaps this freezing of produce is a similar action - perhaps we've adjusted to life in Mississippi. Perhaps we're trying to thrive.
I know we are.






*In some blog post probably 4+ years ago, I wrote about baking bread for the first time roughly six weeks after Adele was born - and then I KNEW that I was managing life rather than just surviving. I feel so much better when I'm productively managing, but survival mode sometimes comes with the mothering territory.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Inaugural thoughts

With a new home come many inaugural moments. Moments that make you feel like celebrating, from the "Yay we have the Keys!" to the "our first guests."

I love these micro-milestones. The chaos that is moving is fraught with challenges, partly because some of the moments around a move are "This will probably the last time we'll have these people over for dinner" and "Packing up beloved items" and "Where on earth do I begin today"....but there are also the "We hung our pictures on the walls today" and "Our first meal actually cooked in our new home."
{Of course those are in no particular order -- yes, I did cook before hanging pictures on the walls}

In the last week we've been delighted to host our first lunch guests and overnight guests. Company is an excellent motivator for getting your house settled and presentable! :) I so enjoy getting to host friends and family in our home, and it's refreshing to have that shift from "Where do I want to put this item or hang this picture?" to "How can I make my guests more comfortable?" Less of ME is always a good thing, I'm thankful for opportunities that remind me to refocus on being others-centered.
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Life is made more of than of big events. Sure, it's easier to date things in your memory by whether it was after {a move, a wedding, a holiday etc), but our regular everydays --that's where it's most beautiful.
It's where we live out our love for our families and friends, not just on special occasions when everything is picture perfect. Lord knows, life isn't picture perfect. It's being present when things are messy and frazzled and just plain struggling.
Back last winter, I had a cookie decorating party planned. Life happened that week - I learned about the loss of my baby and was waiting to miscarry. I thought about cancelling. Everyone would have understood. I knew I couldn't pull off organizing an 'event' - but I could manage a pajama play-date. I texted the downgraded status around. Someone brought doughnuts. I just made coffee and room to be with people instead of letting my grief take center stage that day. It was beautiful. Full of laughter and kids playing, and what I needed.
Messy and beautiful.
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So I'll raise my glass of chocolate milk (I'm pregnant, yo!) to embracing the beauty of the moments rather than the events. The acts of kindness and love, no matter how small, are too precious to get swept away in the blur of life. Jot them down. Take a picture. File it in your memory. These are the memories that make a childhood golden, let's bedazzle adulthood too with beauty to the brim. 




Monday, July 3, 2017

Where we are

It's raining. It's rained three or four times today, vanquishing my hopes of going to a laundry mat having the joy of clean clothes.

Nothing contributes chaos into my life so much as scrounging around for clothes, and more especially clothes that are here and there in no order whatsoever. Some stashed in a box in my bath tub, some in suitcases, a very few in drawers, some on hangers tied up in trash bags. It's as if they're everywhere and no where at all.



Why on earth is life so chaotic? Moving.
Moving will do it every. single. time.

And for better or worse, this has not been one of those charming "move down the street" moves. This has been a "cross a few states" move. We enjoyed nearly peachy three years in the land of my nativity, but work has carried us away from thence. {as an aside, I had to look up that last phrase to check my grammar, and lo and behold it was "King James" speak. Raise your hand if you're surprised!} 
So, we Sayres find ourselves back in Mississippi. You know, to think about MS and all it's stereotypes, it seems a backwards thing to be moving here. Let me speak some truth into your life though, while Mississippi may not someplace you think of as up and coming - the fact is: its people are as sweet as the tea; many quaint small towns are enjoying a fun renaissance of local businesses. It's lovely. 

But leaving family and friends is challenging. The children and I are all coping with this transition. Of course, children will have a hard time with changes, I'm expecting another two weeks maybe of rough sailing with them. However, as the mother hen -- I haven't the time nor energy to cry a bucketful of tears, and am scurrying to put back together the familiar trappings of what is OUR home (not to mention to be able to cook some meals), and it's just a juggling act, like all of motherhood, I suppose.
Couple all the juggling with pregnancy exhaustion, and it's an even more complex equation. I did manage to get our old house packed, with many naps along the way. I'm 15 weeks today. I'm nervous about sharing this news because of the fear of having to "un-share" it again, should the unthinkable happen. Vulnerability isn't a weakness though, and I desire to be authentic in this space. 
'm due near Christmas. Hattie has been praying for this baby at every meal. She's been very faithful.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

KNOWN

Spring brings quantities of beautiful changes.

In our home, we've been working the last several weeks to finish up our year's school work. It's so liberating to finally close the book, "Ah, it's completed!"
But unlike our public schooling counterparts, we jumped right into the next tier of work the day following our liberation. And what's more, we're excited and jazzed about new school books and new rhythms of course work (we added a few more subjects - that are very interesting, so far).
The only trouble is that my geography and science which I was planning to utilize once or twice a week are too cool for school, and the little scholars have wanted them everyday instead. I guess we'll finish more quickly than anticipated!

Another somewhat interesting change is that I received a new book recently from bloggingforbooks.com. Honestly, I'd been watching their titles for a few months, and hadn't seen anything that I was interested in enough to want to invest my TIME in reading.
KNOWN: Finding Deep Friendships in a Shallow World by Dick and Ruth Foth....this one I figured was right up my ally. {Especially as my friends hear me discuss investing in authentic relationships pretty often these days!}

"Friendship is born when one person says to another: 'What! you too? I thought I was the only one.' "-C.S. Lewis

This quotation is the start of one of that latter chapters in the book, but I feel like in essence it sums it up thoroughly. If you want to build friendships to have invest yourself in both sharing your story and listening to others tell theirs. It takes work. Posting a meme on facebook about something totally "relatable" doesn't build a friendship, nor does give said post a "like" count.

Being present totally trumps perfecting our social media personas.
That said, a number of my friends and I pretty much only text. It's imperfect for sure, but in this phase of #momlife and it's not always feasible to have a real phone conversation (or in person). My sister-in-law can certainly vouch for the fact that sometimes we're on the phone but spend much more time instructing our kids or managing the chaos at our feet than actually talking to each other. But nevertheless, putting forth that effort to call makes a big difference...it's what the author calls "the chase", the pursuit of the relationship - evidence that you really care about a person, which affirms the other.

In terms of Flow - this book seemed like some more editing might be needed. The feeling is kind of foggy/hazy on the whole. Some of the stories included felt like they'd just been pasted there for lack of a better place to put them without connective tissue to strengthen the point they were trying to address. Then again, it could totally be my brain that's foggy. I wouldn't call this a life-changer, but I would say it's an encouraging read to those young adults who are trying to figure out to to develop intentional deep relationships, rather than the status quo "friend" on facebook.

I received this book from bloggingforbooks.com in exchange for this review.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Enjoying the Everyday

The morning sun glistened in rainbows around my house this morning.
{We keep a prism in the window and often have a couple rainbows, but they seemed to be scattered further and wider than usual. }

It was a morning sun that made me throw all the curtains open and bathe the house in fresh, almost-spring rays.

I relish days like today. An unusually warm February day, full to the brim of things worth noticing for their beauty.

The children painted today. I kind of hate the prep & clean up of painting because that usually takes much longer than the children actually paint. But today I let them. Elijah sat in his high chair with his blue paint smeared across his belly (I figured shirtless was the easiest method for him).  His bellybutton is still blue-tinged. And I just love it. He smiled happily all the while. The girls made delightful little pictures that are becoming more intentional and less blotches of muddied colors.

A few cheerful phone calls. A trip to the library. Playing Little House on the Prairie at the park (but we play it most everyday at home too). I'm always "Miss Beagle" and Ma, per Hattie. Adele is either John or SonnyBoy and Elijah is Baby Charles. Baby Charles has had the measles several times recently.

 I enjoy their creative play. I relish this time, this stage of life, where PLAY ranks much higher than academics.

Adele dreams of going on a Grandpa-Date to the hardwork (hardware) store to buy a hammer for her birthday. After which, Emery is supposed to promptly begin building the children a playset for the back yard.

And Elijah - he's a car man. Cars, trucks, tractors are all an important and well-loved part of his life. My boy sleeps with a matchbox car in each hand most nights. He's inherited this love from his father and grandfather. He drives his cars slowly and methodically. There are no wrecks and little speeding at this stage of the game, but their HIS cars and he enjoys them so.

We've done chores too, of course. For this is a normal day. Laundry and dishes and sweeping most of the house have been on the agenda. But finding the smiles, the moments when your heart wants to burst with love, the rays of sunshine and rainbows...they make the mundane magical.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

This book thing

A few months ago I stumbled upon this thing called Blogging for Books, and I was intrigued. You simply choose a book from their list that you're interested in and then they send it to you (for free), and you read it and then post a review to your blog. Mostly, I think it's pretty cool to get newly published books FREE. I enjoy reading, but often feel WAY behind the times of what's current in the book world; I think that has something to do with with motherhood-gig.
Anyway, writing a quick review in return for free books sounded like a winner to me.

Our most recent selection:

I decided to let Hattie pick this time. It also happened that this was the first children's book that had been in the list since I began. This musical edition was a two-disc set. One disc had the story and the other the thoroughly Broadway-sounding musical numbers.
Honestly, I was disappointed. Having a daughter in first grade, I thought perhaps this would be funny and relate-able, and that we could use this audio book for road trips in the future. This was not to be the case.
Some of the word choices (dumb, stupid, etc) fall into the inappropriate category for my children, and the attitudes portrayed were also not ones I wish to cultivate in my family. The story felt very much written by an adult, but dumbed down to sound like a 6 year old. For example, "quick" was used many times, when "quickly" would have been correct. I don't appreciate books reinforcing poor grammar, and I wouldn't want my children listening to this more than once. 
As for the music, it was fine. Very theatrical. But I found the songs told much more of Junie's story than the other disc, which was supposed to be the full story. This was baffling.

In a nutshell: Junie enters first grade, struggles to find a friend, gets glasses. The end. 
{And the musical numbers include some kickball scenarios.}  

I don't intend to listen again, nor do I intend to look further into the Junie B. Jones series. 


*I was provided a free copy of this audio book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my completely honest review.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Christmas Recovery

It's 6:13pm. Usually, we'd be en route to church. But we haven't seen Usual in several weeks - and we haven't made it to Wednesday services in several weeks either.

One of my children has a nose running like a faucet (again), and we're trying to refrain from sharing...except as we all know this runny nose has the serious potential to trickle through our family one by one requiring a full three weeks to recover from; our last go-round (week before last) only two fell to the enemy germs. I don't have such high hopes now, only grim expectations of being thoroughly snot-covered for many days ahead.

I think we're also suffering from post-Christmas depravity. Regular {non-indulgent} life kind of stinks after a few days of nostalgia. Perhaps I'm suffering the most. Perhaps I'm wishing my cup of holiday cheer were overflowing. Perhaps I'm just tired.

Um, that's where the rubber hits the road. I'm tired...my nerves are frayed. Mama wants some silent treatment from the children.

It's a painful irony that when I feel the need for a few moments of quiet and go somewhere and close the door or ask for silence, the children howl all the louder because "We Don't Like Being Quiet!!!!!"

BUT BUT BUT
We did have a lovely little Christmas. I had the pleasure of taking the girls out individually so they could shop for their siblings, and it was delight to watch their little minds work and steer them a little towards a great gift. They really did well in their gift-giving. We made a few batches of cookies. We enjoyed the mess of paper and tissue in the floor as the children explored the gifts. And I especially reveled in watching them play all afternoon Christmas day with the wonder of new toys. I am not a toy buyer largely, so while Christmas is, of course, a special day, new toys make it even more so.
Emery's parents came to spend a couple of days with us, and it's so nice to watch the children forming real relationships with our out-of-town family. The girls and Grandma undertook a sewing project which resulted in stuffed foxes that are thoroughly cute. Hattie named hers Melissa. Adele thought John Wayne to be the best name for hers. I can't stop laughing over her name choice. This same child named a stuffed dog T.J. Maxx - and I thought that was brilliant too.




And, for the curious among you, I'm improving. This miscarriage has taken quite a toll on me physically, and I'm slowly regaining strength and energy. I am getting better, though a heart takes much longer to heal.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The hurt that runs deep


*This post may not be for the faint of heart*



My newsfeed on Facebook today showed me a memory from 7 years ago.
 "thanking the LORD for His sovereignty in all things, even in those where the hurt runs deeper than you can tell."


Seven years ago I was in the throes of our first miscarriage. I was heart broken.
Four months later, another aching loss. This one left me in such poor shape physically, it was months before I felt normal again.

These experiences were life changing. They were my first real taste of grief. And through them, I've been given this opportunity to minister to other women experiencing loss. Because "Weep with those who weep,"- yes, I can do that.

The thing is, here I am again, surrendering another baby to eternity.

Y'all, if you've not walked this road, let me just tell you - it's awful.
It's awful to have labor pains knowing you won't get to hold your baby at the end of it.
It's awful to have to tell every body you lost the baby. And, frankly, sometimes it's awful to be on the receiving end of sympathy (this was hardest with my first when I really struggled with how to respond. "Yeah, I'm sorry too" doesn't have a nice edge to it.)
It's awful to see your protruding tummy and know there's no life there now. For me, it was awful to see my stretch marks - badges of courage from my full term pregnancies - and they mocked me that I couldn't carry this baby to term. {Of course, in reality, there's nothing about a miscarriage that's the mother's fault, but head knowledge doesn't change the feelings necessarily}
And it's awful to have days when you start to feel normal and find yourself smiling, and then you guilt-trip your heart for moving on - how can you possibly just "move on" when your child is gone?

This process is different for me now. I didn't have any children during those early losses and I had plenty of time to mentally and emotionally go through everything. But now I can't. I've got to keep taking care of my people. I can't indulge in as many tears as I want, when I want. But I can cling to the "Rock that is Higher than I" {You can find the lyrics to that old hymn here, if you're not familiar with it}.
I can keep pressing forward through His daily sufficient grace.






Monday, December 12, 2016

A little extra happy....

Y'all, can I just brag on my husband for a hot minute?
'Cause I'm gonna.

This evening, Emery put up Christmas lights outside for me.

!!!!!!

This makes me inordinately happy.

It's rather inexplicable.

He's put them up probably 4 of the last 5 years, and every time these crazy little lights just make me smile. What more, he knew we needed a little extra happy in our lives right, and that thoughtfulness makes me want to smile+cry.



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As a knowledgeable youth, I was certain that WHITE LIGHTS were the only way to go. There was no question in my mind that I could appreciate colored lights, for I found them all garish. But Lo and Behold, things change. Somehow, I have colored lights wrapped around my house. And we have a little tree with colored lights (because the children picked). I love them. I can't imagine going back to white.
Perhaps it's mostly about what you're used to, but I for one, am devoted to our colored lights. So there. I'm glad I'm not a knowledgeable youth any more.




Saturday, December 10, 2016

No Fear

The book on my nightstand right is this one --->

No Fear, from Tony Perkins is a challenging and inspiring collection of stories from young Christians today who are taking a stand for their faith and Fighting against the those that would seek to silence them.

Growing up in the "Bible Belt," Christianity is a social norm. In other parts of the country this is clearly not the case, but regardless of the region Christianity is under attack. These bold young people are following the Spirit's leading: in saying a prayer when told to keep faith out of the picture, in embracing purity when the world mocks it, in doing what's right even when it's ever so hard.

These stories are encouraging, especially when the "Millennial" generation and those even younger are portrayed in such a bad light. There are still courageous Christians rising up.

Tony Perkins pairs each modern hero with a Biblical hero facing a similar situation, ringing true the relevance of the Bible to our current situations.

Before even reading this book, I felt "Aha, here is a good graduation gift for the teens in my life." And indeed, I do plan to give it away. When I graduated high school, my brother gifted me with a book entitled, Don't Waste Your Life. I feel like the themes between that one and this resonate well together. Be bold young people. Do hard things. Jesus is worth it.

One thing that has been on my mind with this young kids facing huge obstacles, well, I don't feel like No Fear is really a thing. I think it's doing what's right in face of the fears that weight heavy on your heart that's the crux of the matter.

But what if your moments of following God's leadings aren't major issues such as those brought forth in this book. What if your Fear moments come in the everyday trials. What if your Fear is to Obey God when he's leading you to befriend the person to whom no one speaks. What if your Fear is to step outside your comfort zone and speak authentically with those around you - to cut the small talk and get to the real heart issues.
Even these examples can feel terrifying, but you Go and Do. Because "God hath not given us a spirit of FEAR, but of Power and Love and of a Sound Mind"

{I was provided a free copy of this book to review from Blogging for Books. All opinions are my own.}