Month: October 2012

Happy October: In Conclusion

So today is the last day of October and it is time for my little October series to come to an end.

This little experience has been an overall good one but challenging as well.
I didn’t realize it would be so hard to come up with things to talk about.  I mean, there are a lot of things that make me happy.  But it is really hard for me to not lump things about my child in that mix.  Mostly because that’s what I do.  I’m a SAHM.  And I spend about 90% of my waking time with her.  So I guess it’s a good thing that I am fond of her, right?
But the point is, I wanted to divert away from the norm and try something new.
Even though some of my posts were borderline silly, I tried to balance those out with some artistic, sweet, and serious ones too.  I wanted a range. I did have one Mommy-related post, but that one lept at me and side-line what I had originally planned to talk about that day.  And because of that, I felt that it was meant to be.
To be completely honest, because I am so out of my normal element, I don’t think this was any of my best writing.  Probably not the posts I will want to go back and re-read in the future.
But the overall greatest surprise and joy from this experience was the comments.  When I first began this blog, I promised myself that I would never end posts by asking a question…or at least not a question that is not rhetorical.  Why?  Because I feel like no one ever really answers them.  Or maybe it’s just that I don’t ever really answer them so I was projecting my feelings onto this idea.  But I gave it a shot.  More so out of lack of a good ending (which is another pet-peeve of mine and why I really don’t like ending with questions in the first place because that is what they signal to me).  But then you answered.  Both in person and on the blog.  And I looooooooved reading and hearing your responses.  From the silly to the serious, they made me smile and tear up and laugh.  So thank you.
On Friday I will return with the regular stuff.  Or maybe even tomorrow.  Because I know you are all dying for a Halloween recap.  (MG is a cat, btw.  Again.).  Especially if something this epic happens again:
We are already placing bets on whether or not he will show up at the house again this year.  Apparently a certain family member lives in the neighborhood.  Should I ask for more than a picture this year?  Maybe a  t-shirt?  Already planning ahead.
Thanks for a great October, friends!

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Happy October: Day 12

I’m a fan of all 5 (or is it 6?) senses, but one of my favorites has to be the gift of smell.

(image from here)
I inherited my sensitive nose from my father (who gets headaches just walking by a Bath & Body) but fortunately mine didn’t translate the same way.
For me, smells are a complete and necessary part of my life.
I’m sure N probably gets annoyed by the question, “Do you smell that?”…followed by “It smells like something’s burning”, “I think they must be making Thai food”, “I looove that perfume”, or “Is that our car?”  Usually his response is a no.   That is why I think that God gave me such a sensitive one, to smell things for both of us 🙂
(and related: I sort of think that I have some form/s of synesthesia so that might explain why I find scents so enticing)
For my wedding day, after sniffing multiple counter samples, debating for hours, and asking others for recommendations, I finally picked out a fragrance.  A brand new perfume that I had never worn before and had no association with.  I wanted it to be a permanent and powerful reminder of my wedding day every time  I wore it thereafter.  And it worked.  Just a brief whiff of it brings back a flood of memories.
I tried to do the same for MG’s birth by picking an essential oil.  Unfortunately, the smells were not doing it for me.  So you know smell I attached to?  The smell of the (clean) diapers they put on her in the hospital.  They have a very strong odor that I’d never noticed before, but now to me they scream “the first blissful days in the hospital with our newborn.”  To this day, I exclusively buy Pampers for that very reason.
Coffee; wintergreen tic tacs; pumpkin-anything; hot asphalt (which always reminds me of the roofing mission trips we went on); N’s homemade bread; our laundry soap; fresh pine oak, and cedar for different reasons;  B&BW’s “clean cotton”;  scratch ‘n sniff anything; Atti’s fur; my leather boots; the fragrances that I wore in exclusively in high school and college; oil paint and turpentine: I love and attach to anything that has a strong aroma and pleasant memories.
This time of year is a pure delight to my nose.  From all of the flavors of fall I referenced earlier, to the home-baked smells of Thanksgiving, to the lovely shades of Christmas.  I could almost get high sniffing our pine-scented Christmas candle.  Which is magical itself because it has its own short-lived time on our table that always reminds us of this truly magical time of year.
So, what’s your scent?

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Happy October: Day 11

One of my favorite things, MOPS, is one bi-weekly activity that I always look forward too.

MOPS (Mothers of Pre-schoolers) is a nation-wide program that meets at churches all over America.  
This is my second year in MOPS and it has been a wonderful experience.
Every week I walk away encouraged, enlightened, and renewed.
Prior to having kids, I knew nothing about it other than the name.
In fact, I signed up with a friend to do it last year, but really had no idea what it entailed.
So, if you are in the dark like I was, let me explain it to you.

MOPS runs September-May and meets on a weekly or bi-weekly basis (I prefer bi-weekly because it doesn’t feel like too much of a commitment and they are spread out enough that I look forward to each one).
Ours is about a 2.5 hours long.  (so basically, MG spends the morning playing, I spend it sitting and talking, then we come home, eat lunch and nap.  Perfect).
During that time we open up with a devotional given by a MOPS mentor mom.  Each table (I  forgot to mention that you are assigned to a table of about 9? other moms for the entire year.  This year they placed us according to where we live so almost all of the moms at my table are practically neighbors.  Except that I have two real neighbors that attend that aren’t at my table.  Hmmm) has a mentor mom.  A mom from another generation that helps gives us advice.  Mine is really good about checking in with prayer requests.  I love her for that.
Next we eat breakfast that is provided by 3 tables each week.  You sign up in advance for what you want to bring and they even provide recipes if you’re not much of a cook.  (Or you can skate by the whole year by bringing doughnuts and juice.)  Either way, there is always tons of delicious eggs, bacon, muffins, fruit, and coffee to go around.
This is followed by the main speaker.  So far we have had a Dads/Husbands panel, a lesson on life transitions (because we are always coming up on, working through or coming out of one), and a veerrry interesting speaker tell us about her journey of surrogacy.  I probably cry at every one.  In my defense, the waterworks haven’t really stopped since I became pregnant about 2.5 years ago, but still, this is moving stuff.  Plus, you are in the company of fellow moms.  So you don’t have to look up at the ceiling and think about something funny your child did and pretend like you are scratching an eyelash like you do in front of your husband so he doesn’t think you are a hormonal wreck.  Not that I’ve done that…:/
Finally we do something crafty and all laugh about how we don’t have a single artistic bone in our body and how we are terrible at crafts.  Unless you are a former art teacher and you spend all of your free naptime catching up on Pinterest.  That’s always when things get awkward.
Afterwards, we pick up our children.  Some who are so bereft that you left her that she runs to you with open arms and will not let you put her down.  It is magical.  Because she really doesn’t normally do that on a given Friday morning.
Because we meet every other week, on our off weeks we are encouraged to have a playdate with our table. The nice thing is since that almost all of the moms at my table have one kid 2 and under, so playdates work really well.  AND since we all live close, it makes getting together very easy.

Can you see why I’m such a big fan?  I’d love for you to join me next year, whether it is in spirit in another church/state, or with your physical presence*. Or are you already a MOPS attendee? 

Photobucket*I want to mention that while at MOPS we read the Bible and pray together, you do not have to have any sort of religious background to join.  There is a wide range of backgrounds/beliefs in attendance.  Also, I am in no way affiliated with the MOPS organization, nor did I receive any compensation to write this.  I’m just an avid fan!

Happy October: Day 10

Taylor University

(my alma mater) still makes me happy when I go back to campus or even just think about it.  Especially this time of year…the best time to be in Indiana.
It will always hold a very dear place in my heart.
It is, afterall, the place where we met.
Where we dreamed about what life would look like together.
Where we learned so much more than acadamia.
Where we bonded by living life in a community.  And that community has been extended into much of our lives now as we still connect with TU alumni whether we knew them or not on campus.
Where we were encouraged by daily Bible verses in the bathroom stalls and by all life stopping for weekly chapels.
Where we both grew up.  A lot.
Where I changed my major.  Twice.
But finally figured out what I wanted to do in life.
Where I learned the importance of living closer than 30 minutes to the nearest Wal-mart.
Where I truly learned to appreciate my mom’s cooking.  And so much more than that from both of my parents.
Where I felt myself truly blossoming into an adult.
Where I broke so many responsibility codes and stayed up way too late, went out for midnight snacks from the gas station, and probably didn’t dress warmly enough 90% of the time.  Which is also probably why I got mono sophomore year.
Where we first learned about the depth of immense loss.
Where we met our bridesmaids and groomsmen who became lifelong friends.
Where we hope our MG will one day desire to go (but, shhh…she doesn’t need to know that until she’s already been registered for fall classes)

What do you miss the most about college?

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Happy October: Day 9

Motherhood is the weirdest, wildest, most challenging, but happiest ride I’ve ever been on.

When someone affirms this, or speaks to my heart.  It lifts me up and fills my heart with happiness.
This article spoke to my heart.
Favorite quotes to entice you:
Christian mothers carry their children in hostile territory. When you are in public with them, you are standing with, and defending, the objects of cultural dislike. You are publicly testifying that you value what God values, and that you refuse to value what the world values. You stand with the defenseless and in front of the needy. You represent everything that our culture hates, because you represent laying down your life for another—and laying down your life for another represents the gospel.” 
Children know the difference between a mother who is saving face to a stranger and a mother who defends their life and their worth with her smile, her love, and her absolute loyalty.”

Live the gospel in the things that no one sees. Sacrifice for your children in places that only they will know about. {…} If you tell them the gospel, but live to yourself, they will never believe it. Give your life for theirs every day, joyfully.”

Being a mother IS a mission field, a picture of Love, a deep and sweet calling.

My favorite thing about being a mom is watching MG do things that she has never been taught but has simply observed: talking on her made-up telephones, putting on make-up, dusting with rags, changing her baby’s diaper.  Each one is so little, but brings me so much joy because it reminds me that I am making a difference in her life.

That’s my favorite things about being a mom, what’s yours?

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Happy October: Day 8

Wayne Thiebaud’s artwork

 (image from here)
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(image from here)
Just makes me happy.
He was an American painter during the forefront of pop art in the 50’s and 60’s.  Most of his work is similar to the above: pastries, cakes, desserts and a few shiny objects are what he is best known for.  
I am drawn to his paintings for a few reasons:
1) I’ve been privileged to see a few of his works in person and I love the way he uses thick paint (impasto) so that if you would run your hand over the painting (not that I did that, but I was tempted 🙂 :)), you could feel the texture.
2) I taught art for about 4 years before MG came along and my students always loved his work as much as I did.  They didn’t care that it doesn’t have a message or agenda.  It is basically just a still-life with a particular style—of something that we all know and love: desserts.  There is something to be said for a simple presentation.
3) I love the era of his paintings.  I love learning about the 50’s and 60’s and I do love a lot of the artwork that came out of those decades; along with the bold colors, artistic advertising, and mid-century architecture.  Mr. Thiebaud has actually inspired a lot of my own artwork, which if you’ve ever been in my house, you’ve probably already recognized this 🙂
4) My Mom figured out that he taught a few classes at University of California-Davis, so when we were in the area, we tried really hard to meet him.  Alas, his son was very ill so he was taking a leave of absence that semester.  We did end up writing him a letter to his home address…of which I am sure he is still working on his reply :).  
(image found here)
A lot of his work is on display in the Crocker Art Museum (Sacramento), amongst other museums in California since they are so near to his home.  It was at the SFMOMA that I purchased a board book for MG of his work, entitled, Counting with Wayne Thiebaud. Each page has a different number of his painted desserts from 1-10.
It is no exaggeration that it’s one of her favorite books. Only 2 and already a sense of art appreciation 🙂
So what do you think?  Are you a fan?  Or do you have a different favorite?

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Happy October: Day 7

This picture:

Original Photo Credit: Andy Wofford

makes me both happy and sad.  Happy because it is the site of many, many happy memories.  It is a picture of my grandparents’ house with a view from the driveway.  A place I have visited at least 2x a year since I was born.  A place that has changed only in scenary and landscape and is so familiar I could navigate it in my sleep.  The decor is the same, the smells–the same, the noises—the same.  After having moved four times in my life, I appreciate even more their house being the constant.  It is and has been the gathering place for many family reunions.  
Sad because it won’t always be a part of my or MG’s future.  
But I don’t want to think about that right now.  Deep down that thought is there, but it is suppressed by all of the good times of the past and the immediate times we look forward to in the near future.
Where is your happy constant?

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Happy October: Day 6

Thank you, Anne of Green Gables, for saying it perfectly:

 (original photo credit goes to: Rainy Barrientos)
What is there to love about October?  
Let me count the ways:
1) the smells: vegetables roasting, pies baking, the smell of the hearth hours after a fire, the decaying pile of leaves, the last crop of tomatoes (I just love the earthy smell of vine-ripening tomatoes…am I the only one?), hay drying, the smell of the heater when you first turn it on. 
2) mums (probably the only “halloween decoration” I will use.  Sorry, neighbs)
3) hayrides, campfires, pumpkin picking: all of the activities we savor each fall
4) candy corn, PSL’s, caramel, and Reese’s pumpkins.  You get an entire month to indulge.
5)boots, scarves, jeans, button-downs, flannel, suede: all of my favorites get to make their way out of my closet and into my everyday.

So what did I forget?  What do you love about October?

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Happy October: Day 5

Don’t you just love your bed?

It is always so comforting to crawl in at the end of the day.
The cool feel of your pillows.
The scent of your laundry soap.
The thought of your sheets, freshly cleaned and smoothed.
The warmth of familiarity.
I am one who always, always, always makes my bed in the morning.  Mostly because I love the thought of pulling off the sheets at bedtime.  To me, an unmade bed screams “messy” and “dirty”, but a made one just feels “clean”. (I can probably thank my mom for that ;)).
A few things I also love about my bed: 
-our down comforter in the fall/winter; our handmade quilt in the spring/summer
-the bedside tables: his-neat and orderly, mine: littered with 2 stacks of books, an alarm clock always set 7 minutes ahead, and a dolly or two (thanks, MG)
-my favorite set of sheets: white, grown softer and thinner with use and age, with a hint of stretch.  I always get a little extra excited to crawl into bed when they are dressing it.
-my pink fur that is out of place in color and fraying and nappy, but I love it.  It has my name on it and a giant white bear and a tag that says “Made with love from Nanow”.

 That’s why I love mine, but what do you love about your bed?

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Happy October: Day 4

Are you a cereal lover like me?

 (Image from here)
The best thing about cereal is that it always sounds appealing, day or night, no matter the hour.
I’ve been a cereal lover for many, many years now (perhaps perpetuated by the unlimited cereal bar at our college cafeteria….It had two sides: one healthy, and one not-so, but you could mix and match to your heart’s delight.  It was a dream come true.  In fact, I still dream about it)
Cereal is a part of my morning ritual that I savor.
I personally love to mix two or more kinds together, for the best variety of crunchiness, sweetness, and flavor.  I prefer chocolate over fruity, oats over krispies, and marshmallows over nuts.
Sometimes an overly ripe banana or strawberries (or the occasional chocolate chip) make their way in.
And it has to have just the right amount of milk.  Every piece has to be wet, but there can’t be too much left over after you’ve eaten.
This is the only cereal we have in our pantry today (Mama needs to make a trip to the grocery store).
Pretty boring, right?  But at least it has room to be spiced up.  Honey? Cinnamon-Sugar? Craisins and Marshmallows? 
The possibilities are what make cereal a true treat.
So what’s your flavor?

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