Pinterest Therapy

People use Pinterest for a number of reasons, but nothing delights me more than the boards I have created solely for aesthetic appeal. Without further ado, I present to you my three favorite and totally frivolous Pinterest boards. These are the boards I look at when I need a little visual therapy.

1. Color ❤color 2. Light ❤

light3. Beautiful World

beautiful world

Do you have a favorite board? I would love to check it out!

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Writing “100”

sandersI always thought it was a curious fact of life that every teacher I ever had in my entire academic career, elementary through high school wrote “100” in the same exact way. Red pen, connecting zeroes. I’ve practiced writing “100” that way numerous times and could never get it to look convincing. Probably because I spent my middle school years industriously writing new alphabets so that my friends and I could write our letters in the exact same way. That and inventing codes and writing notes about said teachers in code. I was a rebel.

Also probably because I was never in enough of a hurry to lend the number the edge that a speedy swipe would give it. Alas, I was too deliberate. I had too much time on my hands.

There was no unit in my teacher training classes to prepare the aspiring teachers to write “100” like a real teacher. Clearly it would be irresponsible to accept a teacher position until I rectify this shocking void. Luckily I have a carefully preserved specimen written circa 1996 on a handmade 1607 Jamestown cookbook from 7th grade. Behold the lonesome 1 and the delicate curve of the double zeroes. A skinny and a fat. Beautifully executed. The 1 with a toe edged beyond the circle line.

Now that I am a mother and I have to do everything in between investigating curious silences and shrieking, “get down from there!” I might actually be able to work with the urgency necessary to successfully recreate teacher handwriting.

Thoughts on an Unequally Yoked Marriage

ringsOliver: Mass would be better if the priest would talk longer, and they got rid of all the singing and praying.

Me: Um…that’s the liturgy?

I live in an “unequally yoked” marriage. In a certain sense, every marriage is unequally yoked by nature pairing together two flawed human beings. I frequently find myself baffled by singular male habits. After years of study I still haven’t discovered the reason why underwear never lands in the hamper and empty beer bottles adorn the counters like trophies after Friday or Saturday night festivities. I couldn’t tell you the number of times I have grumbled in my head, “why am I the only person who can see this mess?!” He thinks I am equally crazy, but also has enough sense not to tell me in what way.

Drawing inspiration from Scripture, I like to see my husband and I as a couple of oxen pulling the cart that is our life and family together. My husband and I contribute in our different ways to the greater good of our family and pick up the slack when each other fail. What that means in my marriage is that I am the only ox pulling the cart in the “faith” department. He procures the money and multimedia. I take care of the children and prayers.

It’s taken years to come to some kind of peace about this arrangement for both of us since I converted after we were married. I believe that my having faith does both of us good as it challenges me to keep chipping away at my natural selfishness in a way that my former Paganism never would. Imagine converting from, “An’ it harm none, do what you will” to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” My creed as a Pagan was about taking what you could get and putting yourself first. As a Christian it’s about giving all that you have and becoming the least. What this means on a practical level is that when I fail and shrilly nag, “why am I the only one who can see this mess?!” I might actually feel sorry about it.

Our disagreement about faith also presents us with certain challenges that couples who are united on that front don’t face. For instance, I diligently keep my symptothermal charts and he has the freedom to procure contraception if he chooses to do so. I invite him to come with me to mass, and he has the absolute right to decline the invitation. He allows me to baptize our children but I have no intention of teaching them that their dad is in any way “less”.

St. Paul says that in his opinion the unbelieving husband is made holy through his believing wife (1 Cor 7:14). I have to carry on and believe that even in the basest way, my prayers and example (Lord, help me) will benefit my husband and everyone else in my family. I have to live my faith for the both of us and not just personal fulfillment. I have to look to God to tear down barriers of pride and build us both up.

At least that’s the goal. The doing is the hard part.

Vacationing Broke and Hangry

hangry

Hangry on the St. Charles Street Car

Currently (still) reading Paris in Love by Eloisa James. The book is comprised of a series of short little quirky, funny, beautiful vignettes about family life in Paris. It’s partially making me want to visit Paris, and partially making me remember that my husband and I have absolutely no idea how to vacation in a city.

We visited New Orleans in 2011 for an obligatory American Library Association conference. I had to go to the conference because of my scholarship, but I wanted to visit NOLA because it was my high school Anne Rice fan girl dream vacation. Little did I know, we’d be spending the entirety of our visit broke and hangry. By the end, we hadn’t eaten anything Cajun and hand’t visited any of the historic landmarks on my to-do list. We entered the city totally unprepared and left in much the same fashion.

Our first couple of nights we spent at Queen Anne Hotel, an antebellum mansion turned hotel in the Garden District. It was old and a little creepy at night. Our room had the highest ceiling and and sturdiest build you could ever imagine. We spent a lot of time in the room arguing about what to eat and researching what to eat on my laptop. The best moment there was spent sitting on the creaky front porch splitting a Wal-Mart hoagie with Oliver, eating strawberries and watching the dusk descend on the little street in front of us as we downed some locally crafted Abita beer.

The Wal-Mart hoagie pretty much sums up our NOLA culinary experience. We kept searching for little local places to eat, being too broke to eat there, and then downing something totally unappetizing in sheer desperation. Every vacation of my entire life up to that point had been spent either camping with access to camp stove or renting a condo with a full kitchen. I was unprepared for having to pay for every single meal.

oak alley

Oak Alley Plantation

My favorite thing about New Orleans? Leaving it. We made a whole day out of leaving by the Great River Road which boarders the Mississippi and were able to stop at Oak Alley Plantation and Nottoway Plantation for tours. If I had a do-over I would’ve spent my entire vacation hopping from one plantation to the next, as most of them offer overnight accommodations.

My ideal Louisiana vacation would be to drive the Great River Road and do tours by day, and enjoy craft beers around a campfire by night. That would be the best. Let’s not talk about how I’m still broke, even in my dream vacation fantasies.

nottoway

Nottoway Plantation

This is Your Brain on Microsoft Paint

progress[My heritage is approximately 1/8 Italian. This entitles me to an afternoon espresso break. Obviously. Carry on.]

Yesterday I shook the foundations upon which our world is founded when I mopped the floor before cleaning the countertops.

This is a big deal. I’ve always had a certain preoccupation with efficiency. It’s this quality which made me an excellent runner for the law firm I worked at in college. I would first collect a queue of errands, arrange which stops would be made at which point in my route and the knock them out in sequence, always taking into consideration the projected busyness of the stop and the direction of traffic in relation to my preferred parking spot.

The proper order of operations for cleaning the kitchen is as follows: unload dishwasher, put dirty dishes into dishwasher, clear clutter away from counters, spray and wipe countertops, sweep the floor, mop. Always in the same order. When things are done in this way everything runs smoothly in the world.

Unfortunately I am in a season of life in which I am in charge of a clingy toddler and a 3-month-old baby. The counters have not been cleaned in a timely manner. Christmas crumbs have become more than seasonal residents on our floor. Dust bunnies sashay past me as I chase Lillian away from the cat food for the seventieth time every day. Over the course of two months I observed helplessly as a stain on the floor grew and darkened like a tumor. Conditions were never perfect enough to facilitate a good floor mopping. There was nothing I could do. It’s a sad, imperfect world we live in.

So then yesterday I swept the floor and mopped it while the dirty countertops looked on in jealous horror. Imperfect progress was made. Like I said before, it was a big damn deal.

lifetrajectory

This is your brain on Microsoft Paint

I often find myself frozen with indecision because there is no efficiency plan complete with bullet points to follow when I think about how I am going to live my life. I hate trying and then failing and trying again. I don’t always enjoy the confusing little twists and turns and full stops. Let’s not forget the full stops.

In times when I’m tempted to freeze and zone out I’m finding that I have to remind myself to continue on imperfectly and do little things while leaving the bigger picture to God. When I look back at my past it seems like a sad little squiggly line in which very little progress was made due to backtracking and changing direction.

I’m hoping that when you zoom way out, like all the way out, maybe the whole thing is leading straight toward some definite purpose imagined by God from the very moment that I became a thought bubble in his infinite imagination, and that all of the little twists and unexpected bumps actually sent me hurtling forward in his good time.

I am definitely over-thinking this.

Hufflepuff Gets No Respect

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast night I consulted the oracle commonly referred to as Myers Briggs. I filled out quite a detailed quiz about my preferences and the result given was–horror of horrors–ISFJ. Hallmarks include kindness, gentleness, loyalty, dependability, hard worker, organized, blah blah blah, fan of the status quo. Not visionary, artist, or boundary tester. A personality defined mostly by its relationship to other, more interesting personalities. I’ve essentially been sorted into Hufflepuff house. Everyone knows Hufflepuff gets no respect.

Often when my mind is in a wandering mood I prefer to take the lonely, pockmarked backroads into town. My route takes me past pastures brimming with hardy Texas cattle and wildflowers, winding behind the cemetery and past a gravestone emblazoned on its back, simply and beautifully, “kind and loyal.” I have always thought that if ever I leave a mark on this life, I would love to leave that one. These bones were kind, and these bones were loyal.

At my UT undergraduate graduation we heard the dean of the school of information speak to the recipients of Master’s degrees in library science. I don’t remember the particulars of what he said, but the gist was that the librarians will basically serve those from all of the other more prestigious schools, but “they had better say please.” How’s that for ambition?

I would like to live a humble, meaningful, gracious life of service. It sounds poetic, but such a life is built upon the back-breaking labor of continually choosing someone else over yourself. I guess it’s okay to live courageously amid what seems to be unambitious mediocrity. And thankfully there are lots of opportunities to practice, fail and try again.

Hufflepuff crest bears the image of a badger. Badgers are short of stature but tough and persistent as heck. That seems okay to me.

Water Generously & Prune When Necessary

waterRemoving Lillian’s sleeper is a challenge in patience and dexterity. She approaches every interaction as an opportunity to be tickled. Changing her clothes or changing her diaper I’m met with peals of wild laughter, and exclamations of, “tickle, tickle!” She clenches her body, knees and neck to chest and grins like a hyena. Her eyes say, “we’ll see if you can grasp that zipper!” as she wiggles and laughs. Oh, how she laughs!

This high silliness started after I had my c-section and I could not lift Lillian to the changing table. I made her lay on the floor to change her diaper. The moment the little body hit the floor this unquenchable silliness would erupt and I’d find myself frowning and exhausted. I took the whole thing as disobedience, a little girl’s plan to make my life more difficult than it needed to be. A diaper change was war, and I was a general. I was concerned with tactics and results. I spoke harshly to her. I held her body still with my leg as I dressed her. I resorted to bribery. With jelly beans.

To just be still.

But I needed to be still. I needed to look at my daughter and love her fun-loving, silly toddler self and cherish these moments of alone time with my darling. My sweetheart. I don’t want to change her spirit and laughter, I want to nurture those beautiful qualities in her personality.

I’ve started thinking about my relationship with my daughters in gardening terms. They are my little flowers and I want them to grow big, beautiful and thriving. I plan to water my plants generously love and encouragement, and occasionally prune back the branches which are heading in the wrong direction.

So now I approach diaper changes with more gentleness. Sometimes I would still rather get the thing over quickly, but I try to at least smile at her and kiss her little head when I feel impatient. I usually follow the task with an enthusiastic tickle.

I’m also trying to forget that I typically shower the real-life plants in my yard with nothing but parched neglect. Ahem.