Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Unexpected New

We've lived here for a little over a year now, and we are already prepping for the move. Yet somehow, as things here are drawing to a close, I'm still experiencing all kinds of new things. I guess I always thought that one of the perks of a season of life drawing to a close was that you had a handle on things for at least the last few months.

But today I drove to a new library and, consequently, met some new librarians and explored an all new children's section. I also, and this is neither here nor there, discovered that the twins are just not quite ready to do the library without the stroller. I was re-shelving as fast as they were de-shelving, so I finally shoved the de-shelved books in our bag and made a break for the check out counter. Hope the completely illiterate twins picked good library books...

Today, I made two new friends. And tomorrow I go running with a new running buddy because my old running buddy decided to make a trip out of town for a whole week and getting myself out of bed requires a lot of motivation right now.

The family that watches football together...
...stays together.

I've also been mastering driving a new car...a significantly bigger car, which has been a bit terrifying and also a lot humbling as I've just accepted the fact that one does not learn how to park a small bus in one day. Incidentally, my driving is improving the kids' prayer life. So: bonus.

Also, and this is not related, we are debating names for said new car since the Man says I need to stop referring to it as "The Great White Beast". My follow up options were "Old Abominable" (in a loving reference to the Abominable Snowman, of course) and "Moby Dick". Littles then made an across the board decision that Bruiser should get to pick the name, and naturally Bruiser picked "Trash-truck". When I protested, I was cooly informed that the Man and I could name it something else, but from then on the kids would refer to the car as "Trash-truck". Somehow this didn't go the way I had planned. Also, Littles took the opportunity to let me know that Moby Dick was a sperm whale. Not a Suburban. And he knows this how? (Incidentally, I looked it up--and he was right. Know-it-all.)

Back to the point, this semester we started a homeschool co-op thingie which has involved lots of new--and especially lots of new people. May I just say: it's tons of fun meeting new people and telling them you're going to be there for a grand total of four months. Come be my friend so I can leave you!

We're also experiencing some new paperwork hoops that we have to jump through this move. And you should know: I love paperwork almost as much as I love gouging my own eyes out.

And I feel like I could just keep going. I really could. But I'd bore you.

The point is that change is a constant. Sometimes I lure myself into thinking that there are seasons, and I can pick what kind of season I'm in. As in, I'm not moving so I shouldn't have to deal with new stuff right now! But no. Evidently it doesn't work that way.

Instead, I'm trying to remind myself that I like new things. New things are fun and exciting and adventurous! But when I'm honest, I know that I am stodgy and boring and when I go to restaurants, I always order the same thing because I already know what I like and why be disappointed by getting something you don't like.

So let me end on this: thank God that He doesn't let me do that in real life and only tolerates it at restaurants. He keeps sending me new things because He knows that while I may be content to stick with the old and comfortable, He has even more wonderful gifts to give. His mercies are new every morning.

And sometimes those mercies look unfamiliar and occasionally scary. And sometimes they just look like new friends and awkwardly bad parking jobs and library bags full of unexpected book choices.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Stained Glass

Stained glass has always fascinated me. I love the way the light breaks through the colors, stretching different hues across the walls and floor and ceiling. The Man and I visited the Chihuly Gardens while we were in Seattle. It was a fantastic exhibit with the contrast of dark and light, the use of reflections, and the joining of the man-made into the natural world.

About halfway through the tour, we watched a video showing how Dale Chihuly and his team created these masterpieces of art. Some of them, when assembled, are enormous, much bigger than they could've been had they been created from a single piece of blown glass. Hundreds of unique pieces joined together, sometimes hung precariously, to create an awe-inspiring work of art.

To me, this is the Church as it should be. All of us different, blown with God's own breath into unique shapes, tinted with our own colors, and connected into one expression of beauty. 

I don't necessarily think this is a bad analogy for the Church. But in reality, it seems like we are much closer to traditional stained glass than we are these perfectly sculpted Chihuly pieces. We are broken. We are made of shards of glass that would've been litter to a lesser artist. We are pasted together with glue and boiling metal. It is a painful reality, and one that we may not understand fully.

In those moments, we do not see the masterpiece. We cannot even glimpse the finished product. We are wholly overwhelmed by the pain of the breaking and the heat of the joining. The Artist's face seems far away at best, coldly unconcerned at worst. We ask ourself where the beauty is and what happened to the purpose.

And then the light breaks through the window, and we may not see ourselves as we are or as we used to be, but we see the sun beams, split into a thousand colors, filling the room with glory. 

Stained glass may have other meanings to other people, but to me it reminds me that my brokenness (and maybe your brokenness too) will be used for beauty. It may not be my beauty--after all, what am I but a broken shard of colored glass?--but when the sun comes up and the light floods in...

...there is the breath-taking wonder of hope in new life.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

October Kick-off

It's been five weeks since I wrote last, and it's time to get back on the horse. Or wagon. Or camel, depending on what book you've been reading lately.

Initially, I had this brilliant plan to get back in the saddle (there's another way to say it) by doing 31 Days again, which would've been rather sink or swim of me. But September left our family and me especially a little fragile, and to be honest, it's not just the writing I'm trying to get back to. It's a lot of things that have been put on pause for the last few weeks, good things, necessary things that need to be added back to our normal.

So I'm reminding myself of a lot of cliches, that slow and steady wins the race and that I don't want to be a flash in the pan and other such fun thoughts, all of which boil down to the fact that 31 Days will not be a part of my October. But if you happen to be sitting around with a ton of time on your hands and nothing to read, you should go by the 31 Days Challenge and browse through the topics.

However, should you hang around here this month, I plan to continue writing about my usual hodgepodge, but I thought I'd give you a few teasers for what the next month might hold at Ink Blot Coffee. Naturally, I will still be providing book posts, which should be interesting considering that my library is closed for renovations this month, and the regular funny kid stories, but I also thought I'd give you an update on my thoughts regarding my word of the year and I've had some ideas about light and stained glass hovering around the corners of my mind that may make it out before November shows. We'll see.

In the meantime, since I've been dwelling in deeply thought provoking proverbs lately and they say (drumroll) a picture is worth a thousand words, I thought I'd share a few from the last few weeks that haven't seen the light of day (by which I mean neither the blog nor Facebook--shocker).

My parents came by for a visit in September.

Good times were quite obviously had by all.

I love these crazy twins.

And this heartbreaker.
And his older brother who doesn't show up for another few pictures.

While Mom and Dad were here, the Man and I offloaded the kids...
And went to Seattle!

All the artsiness made me very happy there.
But we came back soon before this guy decided to
grow up and leave home.
Seriously. Make it stop.

Side note: is he cute or what?

I tried hard to get a picture of my parents and all four kids--
and I promise this was the best one.
The other five shots were epically worse, if that's possible.

Anyway, October is here now, and it rained this morning. Yesterday the kids and I ate pumpkin bread on the front porch. Today I am sitting down to write. Tomorrow we finish out what actually looks like almost a complete week worth of kindergarten. These are small steps. Sometimes the smallness of them frustrates me, but we are walking back towards normal slowly but surely. So I'd like to close by saying simply, both to you who are reading but also to myself, welcome back.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Things I Forgot

I'm sitting on our couch watching the rest of the sunset. It really was a stunner, and I admit I've gotten super spoiled having a front row seat of the sun sinking into the bay every night. But as I was reveling in the view, I realized I've forgotten to tell you a few things.

First off, missing from my reading list was Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane, which was incredibly entertaining, plus...books because bookstore. All the books. Oh the happiness. I confess though that the true draw for me was the rumor floating around the internet that the cover glows in the dark. Sadly, my plastic covered library edition failed the glow-in-the-dark test. I was really hoping to give the Man a good middle of the night shock.

Second, the best way to learn anything is to teach it to someone else, right? So I'm making Littles teach Tiny from his phonics book. This makes sense because Tiny has started asking us to pray that he can learn how to read. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure God is not going to miraculously make that happen without Tiny putting forth some kind of effort, but I don't feel like providing the umph behind the effort when Tiny is still three. This may, however, backfire on me, as Littles is still shaky on some of his phonetic spelling and I have had to work hard to keep a straight face over his versions of "six" and "hill".

Third, twins are fun. The Man found them standing on the coffee table this morning either hugging or wrestling. He wasn't sure which. Although, in a side note, when they do wrestle, Bee always wins. Is this Bruiser being a gentleman or is this Bee asserting dominance?

Fourth--and I feel like this should've been first because it is super important--Littles discovered Calvin and Hobbes. He did not come up to breathe for two hours and there was lots of giggling. It may have been my proudest moment. Possibly ever.

Anyway, now that we're all caught up, I'm done for the night.

Monday, August 24, 2015

What's (Been) On My Bookshelf (Lately)

I thought I'd give all you lovely readers out there an update on my book life--just in case you're looking for some new reading material. However, it's 8pm and I haven't stopped moving since 5.30 this morning, so we will make this fast and furious. Also, the Man is in the kitchen threatening to cut a slice out of the cake I made for Bible study tomorrow, so accept the fact that I am distracted by his impending lack of self control, and just hang in there with me.

So, drum roll, please. What I've been reading...lately...ish.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: best fiction read I've picked up this year. I know it's all over everywhere--and I hate to be a lemming--but sometimes there's a reason behind the popularity, and in this case it was totally worth following the crowd.

Let Your Life Speak by Parker J. Palmer: still powering through this book in my spare time. It's not that long but I got side tracked and needed a break from dissecting what I liked and didn't like. Definitely a thought-provoking read on vocation, but prepare to wade through a lot of humanism, if that's not your thing.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: I do love this classic, random "Magic" references aside. I just finished reading this with the big boys, and Littles was especially entranced. I loved getting to talk with them about Mary's change of character. At the beginning, they disliked her so much they didn't want to read the book at all, but by the end she was one of their favorites.

What Women Fear by Angie Smith: I just picked this up last week for our new Bible Study. I'm only a few chapters in but I'm so enjoying being back with Angie Smith's warm narrative voice. Her writing always challenges me spiritually, and so far this book has been true to form.

Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman: I pre-ordered this book several months ago, and I rarely pre-order. But I found it in the mailbox on my way to a meeting I was more than a little nervous about, halfway through a week that had really thrown me for a loop, and, wow, was I glad I preordered. Sunday, I was walking the twins around the lake during the sermon (they rarely make it more than halfway through the service), and I was reading while I walked and found myself crying as I read and walked and pushed fifty pounds worth of twins up and down a dirt path as her words repeatedly hit home.

Dear Mr Henshaw by Beverly Cleary: I made Littles take a break from Beverly Cleary (he kind of went overboard for a while), but now we're reading Dear Mr Henshaw together and having a great time. Plus, I'm really enjoying not having to bust out a Yorkshire accent every other line.

Daring Greatly by BrenĂ© Brown: seriously, this is now on my "suggest to everyone" list. Vulnerability, shame, courage. These are the things we need to talk about, learn about, think about. Go get this book.

And I know I'm missing a few here and there but for the most part, this is what I've been doing in between the laundry and the homeschooling and the cooking and the diapering. And sometimes during the laundry, the homeschooling, the cooking, and the diapering because not reading? Ain't nobody got time for that.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ode(ish) to My Dead Hard Drive

My hard drive decided that it was too good for this world last week. It crossed the pearly gates of technological heaven with all my data accompanying, so whoever told me "you can't take it with you" was clearly lying. The dumb hard drive really did take everything along on its journey to another world. So I'm reinstalling Pages and iPhoto while I mourn the loss of all my documents and photos--and suddenly I find myself very glad that I've been uploading the best ones to the blog the last few months so at least I didn't lose everything.

In the meantime, here's what's been happening: homeschooling, all the kids with all the happiness, beach breakfasts, for real pull ups by Littles (I'm talking about the exercise, not the diaper--just for clarification sake), lego prodigies, and...oh wait. I think that was really it. Next week we start Classical Conversations, and then I might for real have some fascinating news for you. Oh, wait (again), I'm not a homeschool blogger. Snap.

Pictures for you! From the new phone (yay!) and then I'm out:

Twin baths are the best.

Her helicopter (that she made all by herself) is too beautiful to look at.
I'm not going to lie: I thought the flower as a propeller was pretty genius.

Beach breakfast--no dolphins in the water but we saw seven (count them: seven) trash trucks.
Bruiser declared his day made.
No explanation for Little's face up there. Too much apple bread?

Wasn't this a great blog? Everyone give me a round of applause and next time I might actually write something interesting. It may even be time for a book update!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Those Days

There are days, and there are days.

There are days when you have to throw a load of laundry back into the washer--and the clothes are still warm from the dryer--because in the two seconds it took for you to get them out of the dryer and procrastinate on folding, the cat jumped into the basket and decided it looked like a litter box to her. Those days bring me a little bit closer to a new rug made out of cat fur. Kidding.

Plotting something nefarious.

There are days when you go to make beans and rice only to discover that the can of kidney beans you could've sworn you bought at the commissary last week is no longer in the pantry--so you decide that you must've just forgotten and make sausage and veggies and rice instead--only later to come upon Bruiser systematically emptying the canned foods shelf of your pantry straight into the trash can. Those days you just have to laugh. And fish a few things out of the trash can.

There are days when your daughter refuses to nap until you change her into a different dress and then continues to refuse to nap (LOUDLY) until you fix her hair for her. Because, you know, the house might catch on fire while she's napping and she wouldn't want the hunky firemen to see her at less than her best. Or so I assume. Those days you get a little nervous about the teenage years.

There are days when your husband uses the word "nerd" as a verb. Those days are awesome.

I know, right?

There are days Tiny wakes up the twins halfway through nap time by kicking on the wall because he doesn't want a nap and I miraculously manage to get all three of them back to sleep. Those days are a mix between mind-numbingly mad and mind-blowingly awesome.

There are days your replacement cell phone is supposed to come in...and it doesn't. No comment.

There are days when an emergency mid-week commissary run means a loaf of bread and three bags of coffee. Those days you should also pick up a bottle of super expensive Italian lemon juice because of course.

This picture is indicative of so much about that kid.

There are days when you get back from your run and stumble upon a flock of ten wild turkeys swaggering across your front yard in the pink dawn light and can't decide whether you should just stand there with your jaw dropped or get a better hold on the dog's leash--and those days just feel like a perfect metaphor for life.

There are days, and there are days. Thank goodness for all the crazy and the ability to laugh, even if sometimes the laughing part doesn't show up until after the kids are finally in bed and my feet are propped up and the Man has swept up the carpet of rice that has taken over under the dining room table. The crazy part is pretty much always in effect.