Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snowed In

This is the view out our bathroom window yesterday. The weathermen said that we could get 2-8 inches of snow, and we were very skeptical. They were right! Everything in town shut down for the second time this winter: the malls, the fast food restaurants, the stores, everything. Church this morning was even cancelled.




There's Adam taking Simon out. He came back sooner than expected, saying that Simon quit halfway down the road and turned around to come back home. Haha! Here we thought huskies liked the snow.



I cleaned up around the house, and worked on my mountain of laundry. Charlotte was helping me, and then she got bored and decided to move on to the adventures of the hallway. Everyone says that our lives will change when starts walking, but I feel like she's already so mobile, that when she starts walking, it won't change anything much more than it already is. I could be wrong, but I feel like we've already adjusted to mobility as a family.

Since we were inside all day, Charlotte had a lot of opportunity to play around the house. It was a good thing, because she's getting some top molars and she was a little fussy and tired all day. I took more pictures than this, but I'll save some of those for later. Here she is at one of her favorite spots in the house, Uncle Nicky's coffee table with the stereo on it.


Today was also the first day that Charlotte took any interest in her lion walker, cruising up and down the hallway like it was no big deal. This was right before she went to bed, and I knew that she had turned into a pumpkin when she was crawling and fell over, hitting the rug with her face and bursting into tears. Yup, bedtime.

There will hopefully be a more thoughtful post later, but I needed to post pics for the family. Hope you enjoyed them!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What to Write?

I have been writing ever since I could physically write. I don't know that I would classify myself as a writer; of the many labels I claim and metaphorical hats that I wear, the one of writer is not something I apply to myself. I can write, obviously. I enjoy writing. But I would feel like a fraud calling myself a writer before naming off all of my other, more notable, occupations.

My childhood stories were usually centered around a character with whatever physical shortcoming I had just learned about. I distinctly remember a story of a rabbit in a wheelchair and a story about a man who was albino. I also remember writing a story about spiders because in third grade, we studied spiders across the curriculum for, probably a whole nine weeks. When I was in fourth grade, my favorite animal was a cheetah (who's wasn't, really?), and I wrote a story about cheetahs that year. I remember going into fifth grade and trying to wrap my mind around the idea of a paragraph, only to have it occur to me a few hours later that I had been writing in paragraphs for years without even knowing it. And then, I'm not really sure where my creativity went.

In the past seven years or so, maybe longer, my writing has suffered for the specific reason that I try too hard. This blog is effortless; I don't have to think about it, analyze the big picture, make characters realistic or different than I am. I can just write to write (as long as I don't rant, says Brit). But the second I sit down to construct a "story" or a "novel," I just freeze up. All of the sudden, I have no ideas, and the ideas I do have are terrible. My characters are not flawed enough or way too flawed to be believable. My story is so autobiographical that it's basically a memoir in fiction clothes. I can't figure out what genre to write in or aim for. What message do I want to send? Ridiculous? I absolutely agree. But I still can't shake it. I know that I am perfectly capable of writing a better than average novel; if only I could figure out what to write it about. So, my faithful 7 followers, please let me know if you have any inspiration for me.

If you would rather, you can inspire me for blog posts as well.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pasta Night


Charlotte had some rigatoni tonight. We tried to give it to her on a spoon, and she looked at us like we were crazy. So, we put it on her tray, and this is the rest. We can all agree that Charlotte loves pasta.
Here she is trying to eat her plastic dolphin also.

Also, here are some bonus pictures from Sunday. Enjoy. :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

An Oasis of Grace

Today's sermon (1 Peter 5:5) was about humility, which is probably the slipperiest of all fruits of the spirit. Just when you think you have a grip on humility, you've lost it; there's no resting in the confidence of your humility.

My husband said the remark that affected him during the message was that we lose sight of being humble (and in essence, let our pride begin to control us) when we lose sight of the cross. When we live in sight of the gospel, and the suffering for Christ on our behalf while we were yet sinners is crushing to us, being prideful is revolting to us. Christ did not count equality with God something to be grasped, yet so often, we count equality with God something to be grasped. Why aren't things going the way I think they should be? How often we forget that Christ came to this earth simply to shed His blood for us, when we couldn't care less. How humbling that thought should be, and how I hope it crushes our souls anew today and every day. We must, as Pastor Brett says, preach the gospel to ourselves daily. Let us never forget where we came from.

My thoughts during the sermon were different than that of my husband. Our pastor said that when we are truly humble and poor in spirit, we will strive to follow the "one another" commands in scripture: love one another, bear with one another, rejoice with one another, etc. He went on to say that the way we put this into practice to make our church body an "oasis of grace" begins in our homes. How we put our humility into practice in our homes affects how we act in humility toward the body of believers. What a challenging conviction. I stumble in being humble with my husband all the time. I thought of all the excuses we make, all the things that get in the way of us truly pursuing Christ in our home together, and there are too many to count. I was very convicted that I need to personally spend more time, focus on energy on my home. This is a different conviction than the one that I've been having which is to stay at home, keep it, help my husband and raise our daughter for the glory of God. No, this is a more realistic conviction for where I am right now. I am working; this is a fact and it cannot be changed in the near future. But, I still am called to focus and care for my home, and not just in terms of chores. Everything can become legalistic, and that is the legalistic out for keeping the home: getting it 100% clean. But that's not it. I confessed to my husband today that I expect him to lead because that's his job, but I don't ever pray for him in his leadership. I support him in his endeavors, but I don't take seriously the burden that is on him to lead our family and support him in prayer. That lack of prayer support, ultimately, boils down to pride and a lack of humility. Heaven forbid I would look around and envy the leaders that other women's husbands are. As Paul said, may that never be! My conviction is to tend my home, spiritually and in thought, keeping it a place of, not just physical calm and peace, but of spiritual peace as well. What a pleasant relief of pressure that is, since we do nothing in our own power, but all through Christ, our sovereign King.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pampered Chef, Bumper Stickers and a Birthday



I hosted a Pampered Chef party for my friend Rafe's wife Kristi (this is her with her precious baby boy) today...and I took no pictures. I completely forgot. Between three babies getting into everything (and Charlotte falling and hitting her head), helping Kristi, being hypnotized by the beautiful, amazing and super-functional kitchen gadgets and toys and playing adoring Southern hostess, I just forgot all about my picture-taking promise to you all. Sorry. I can report, though, that we had a blast, and I feel like it went rather well. Hopefully, Kristi feels the same way. I linked her personal Pampered Chef website to her picture, so if you're interested in ordering something between today and Thursday when she closes the show, feel free to click there, put me in as the host and browse away. We would both really appreciate it.


Have you ever (and don't lie because I know that you have) been driving behind someone whose car is completely plastered with bumper stickers? Coexist (that one REALLY irks me), Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History, Obama '08 (suckers, haha), Visualize Whirled Peas (my mom's favorite) and my personal favorite, Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup. I also like the one about, and I paraphrase, schools receiving all of the money they need while the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a new bomber. I digress...I usually wonder about these people who have multiple messages on the back of their vehicle. Here's what I've observed:


  1. They're usually liberal hippies. Let's just be honest, here. There might be a "don't abort babies because it isn't nice" message somewhere, but usually the granola and dirty hair are evident from the vehicle, along with the quasi-Socialist, "everybody just get along, man" philosophy. Educated, conservative people don't feel the need to get their point across as they drive to and fro running errands because there is more to them than their views on a particular subject. I am very passionate about many things; so is my husband. That's why I have a blog - my passions and opinions are more appropriate here than on Adam's little blue Elantra as I drive to school, then to pick Charlotte up at daycare.


  2. These "message cars" are rarely nice cars. Again, I'm just being honest. A vintage Volkswagon bus, yes. A silver 2006 Merecedes, no. Again, I think education and status plays a role here. And, of course, people with nicer cars don't feel very inclined to stick cheap, gaudy, hard-to-remove stickers onto something they selected with care and are still working to pay off. Any car from the 70's or 80's seems at home with those kinds of messages on it, but any vehicle much later than that being used a moving billboard for peace, love and harmony just seems like an anachronism.



Lastly, it's my dad's birthday today. Happy Birthday, Dad!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Reading, Education and Ice



For about four months, Charlotte has been "reading." She holds the book correctly. She turns the pages in the correct order. She makes noises. It's adorable. Someone (I can't remember who now) said to me a while back, "Well, you can tell that she's read to a lot." I felt kind of bad, because we do read to her, but not nearly as much as it seems that we do. Maybe, since I love to read, her hunger for books is inherent.

Connected and not connected to that, the severity of the situation of education in this country strikes me just about every time I go to work. Teachers are upset, frustrated and hopeless. There's no money for anything. Teachers will be let go and not replaced. Our students have about three electives to choose from next year. Schools may be closed or personnel redistributed at whim. It's overall a pretty miserable situation, and no one sees it changing for the positive any time soon.

Don't get me wrong. I'm having a wonderful year. But being in an environment like that day in and day out makes staying positive difficult. I have to remember every day that God is bigger than all of this. He is bigger than our country, the economy, the government. He is bigger than this moment, this year and this decade. He is above all things and can do all things. The same God that parted the Red Sea for the Isrealites is the same God who triumphed over Satan on the cross, and He is the same God that lives in my life every day. I praise Him for His grace and faithful blessings, even in these times that seem so disappointing and frustrating. We are not defeated people; we are redeemed people.

Lastly, there is ice in the forecast for this evening. What a night to snuggle in at home and spend some time with those you love. Maybe tomorrow will be a snuggle in kind of day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Food for Thought


Since it is Wednesday, I don't have much time to write, but I want you to consider this post on one of my favorite blogs entitled "We're Always Teaching."

I'll write again tomorrow.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why this and not Facebook?


My friend, Rafe, at school, asked me this question when I excitedly told him I had started a blog. I had made a big deal of quitting Facebook back in June; I didn't really even tell anybody, I just quit. My friends told me that there were a few other girls with my name on there, but that it just wasn't the same as being friends with me. :) Haha.
So here's what had happened. Facebook had made me feel too important. WAY more important than I actually am. Let's face it; I am a vapor. Constantly updating my Facebook status, and trying to reduce my feelings, emotions, thoughts, day-to-day routines and events into pithy, clever statements gave me an extremely overinflated sense of self. I thought constantly of ways to let people know what I was doing and how I was feeling. It was an idol big-time, as well as a huge prism for pride. It was bad. Not that it's bad for everyone, or anyone; I'm just saying that this is what I felt and thought about it. Facebook was part of me being someone I didn't want to be, so I quit. My husband, wonderful man that he is, quit with me to support me. I told him over and over again that he didn't need to, but he said that the last thing he wanted to do was cause me to stumble by saying, "Hey did you see the picture's on so-and-so's Facebook...oh...right...
That's the other part of the Facebook equation. It's not just about you; it's about everyone else. All their stuff, all their business. Pictures, their statuses, friends, networks, fans. I started checking Facebook every spare chance I had, no matter what I was doing, on the off chance that someone I went to high school with had posted a random picture without me knowing about it. It literally consumed me. Now, to my credit, I became addicted when I was on maternity leave and needed to feel connected with the outside world. It was just too much for me. I think it was Calvin who said that the heart is an "idol factory," and Facebook for me was a huge source of idolatry.
So, how is a blog different? That's a legitimate question, because at face value, a blog seems even more self-centered than a social networking profile. Well, here are some of my differences. This whole post is probably pretty controversial, and you may agree, disagree or come up with more reasons than I have here.
  • There's more writing involved in a blog. My best friend, when she read my blog, laughed and said I was such an English teacher. I asked her what that meant, and she said it wasn't bad, but that the way I write is just so me. Honestly, I like to write, and having a blog gives me sufficient motivation to do so. And I can actually write, and not feel pressured to boil my whole life into the predicate of a sentence. It also gives me a lens through which to consider my life and God moving and shaping my life. I am more mindful of spare moments that I might be able to harness a thought or two for the blog.
  • It gives me motivation to take pictures. Let's be honest, we haven't taken pictures of Charlotte as frequently as we have in the past week. Going to Staunton and the prosthetics place, I never would have brought the camera. By no means do I consider myself a photographer (see Shannon's blog for that), but I like having a reason to take pictures. Not only that, it's nice for the out-of-town family who miss Charlotte and want to see what she's up to.
  • Christ is more present. He just is. From the name of my blog, to the blogs I follow, I hope to honor and glorify my Lord and Savior through all my actions including this blog. If I can encourage a fellow believer, motivate or spur on a sister in Christ, witness to someone who's lost or help someone in my similar position cope all in the sweet name of Jesus, then Hallelujah! After all, that's the purpose of us vapors: to glorify and magnify Christ. May I do that in all things, but especially in this blog.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Streaming



Going back to work after an extended time off is hard. One of my unspoken blogging rules is not to complain, but it is difficult to leave Charlotte in someone else's care after we've played together, eaten together, laughed together, read together and run errands together. For everything, there is a season....

Yesterday, we went to the prosthetics place to get her some new braces. Compared to the old shoes, these are gigantic! Her toe joints are actually on the soles. Crazy. This was the only time I've been to the place, and the guy who fitted her was wonderful.


Today, I did something very Dead Poet's Society with my 10th graders (wink, wink, Allison). We started a unit of nonfiction which can be notoriously dry and boring, and because I didn't want to leap into a lengthy piece of nonfiction to begin, we went to Kate DiCamillio's website as a class and read her essay "On Writing." Then, purely on a whim, we took a brief field trip around the school looking at the world around us. I kept repeating that they had seen everything we were seeing before, but they needed to look at it differently and write down what they saw. The more the better. When we got back to the room, I assigned them a 300 word essay about what we had just done. One thing we'd seen, everything we'd seen, something we hadn't seen; it didn't matter to me. It's due next class. Oh captain, my captain.
Do you ever get tired of screens? Lately, I've been getting so tired of all the time we, as a society, spend in front of some sort of screen: computer screen, television screen (playing TV shows, movies or video games). And think of the versatility. We can watch TV on the computer. We can check news, weather and blog updates of any niche interest we have. We can download NetFlix directly to our TV by the PS3 or other box. We can load digital copies of movies and shows onto mp3 players and cell phones. Even in stores like WalMart, you can't escape screens talking to you and showing you pictures of things. Do you ever think about what we did before all of these screens? What would you do with your family tonight if none of the screens were turned on? For an hour? For the evening? Would you know what to do with each other? How did we find out information before we had so much access to everything? How frustrated do we get when we cannot access information at any given time? Were we happier before we could get to it all?
Much of my frustration, admittedly, is from Adam. He overdoses on video games sometimes, and lately has been one of those times. But if we had a totally screen-free evening (aside from tomorrow night which is church and a given screen-free night), I think we'd probably play a game. You know, an old fashioned game with pieces you touch and hold. Maybe Rummy. That was our honeymoon game; we must've played it 3-4 times a day all over the resort. I'd like to listen to music and have candles lit, and just talk, play rummy and drink water at the kitchen table. Sometimes, I feel like we all need just a little bit of that.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Hymn for a Casual Sunday



First, a comparison. For those of you who don't know, the picture on the left is the Sarlacc Pit (Rafe is laughing at me somewhere because I spelled it correctly) from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. It's a huge bottomless pit in the desert of Tatooine that eats whatever falls into it (including Boba Fett) and digests the unlucky food over 1,000 years. How anyone knows that is my best guess.
To the right, you'll see a picture of Charlotte eating from today. Do you see the similiarity? By the way, we've taken to calling her the Charlacc Pit because she will eat anything that comes into her vicinity.

Today was a casual Sunday because the whole family had extended session at church; that means we all wore jeans this morning. I actually got moved from the baby room where I usually am (even though Charlotte, who's not walking, but doing everything else, is now in the toddler room) to the 2-year-old room where I NEVER am, and you know what? I had a BLAST with the 2 year-olds. It was great!

It's also a casual Sunday because I don't have to teach tomorrow. Hooray! Charlotte and I are actually going to pick up her new braces shoes in the morning, and I'm excited because I never get to go with her to the prosthetics place. I'm looking forward to Mommy-Charlotte day.

The reason for the hymn is that since neither one of us were in service today to hear the sermon, I don't have any reflection on the scripture or the message. This is one of my all-time, favorite hymns, even from before I was reformed.

Be thou my vision, oh Lord of my heart,
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art,
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence, my light.

Be Thou my wisdom and Thou my true word,
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord,
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son,
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven's joys, oh bright Heaven's Son!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, oh Ruler of all.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Night Away

Adam and I went to Staunton, VA to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary. I promised you pictures, and I have brought back pictures.

This is the beautiful lobby of the Stonewall Jackson Hotel, where we spent the night. Isn't it just out of the Antebellum South? There was also a lovely breakfast in the morning that was part of our package.



Here's Adam being goofy in the lobby, "reading" a magazine, and me on the second floor looking down into the lobby.






Adam HAD to get a picture of me with Stonewall. We especially liked to the little plush Stonewall on the bottom of the case.






This picture will not surprise any of you. Our celebratory dinner took place at Shenendoah Pizza in downtown Staunton. Now, neither of us had any intention of going to a pizza place for dinner; we were both ready to branch out and eat at one of the fine local restaurants recommended to us by various Staunton residents. Except...we went to each of those places, looked at the menu and the dining room and really, those places weren't us. Not that they were bad, they weren't. They just were very not us. And Shenendoah Pizza really was. It was comfortable and cozy and the pizza was wonderful. Our waiter, Luke, the quintessential college student who works at a pizza place, took this picture for us. The other one is one Adam took of the actual restaurant.



Most of our time in the late afternoon and evening was spent walking around downtown and going into fun-looking stores. This sign was a particular favorite of mine at the front of a darling children's clothing store. The woman there was very sweet and helpful, even though we didn't end up buying anything. There was also a sign back by the dressing rooms that said, "Shoplifters will be killed and eaten." This lady has my sense of humor.






After dinner at Shenendoah Pizza, with leftover pizza in tow, we went to see the movie The Blind Side at this movie theatre. It's a wonderful little theatre with four screens, two upstairs and two down, and they're raising money to turn it into a performing arts theatre that can still show movies. Very neat.



And the best part about taking a night away was coming home to a Charlotte who was very happy to see us.







Friday, January 15, 2010

Anniversary


Today, much to my amazement (in our glorious God and His grace, not in my husband and our marriage) is our five year wedding anniversary. It is amazing to me how different we are now than we were five years ago, and only God could have crafted our relationship into what it is now. It is even more humbling to think that this gift we have of marriage, this covenant with one another that brought forth our precious daughter, is given to us as a symbol and parallel of Christ's love and covenant with us.

Speaking of covenants, the sermon Wednesday night was about covenants in preparation for our study of the Old Testament. Our pastor pointed out that covenants are always two-sided: I will do this, and you will do this. I will be your God, and you will be my people. Covenants are conditional - there are two sides that must be upheld by two parties. Thinking of marriage this way is sobering, but true. Love is a choice, not a feeling, and a marriage is maintained, grows and is blessed when each spouse wakes up in the morning desiring to love the other spouse. We must choose to love one another, even when others are unlovely and unlovable. And we must never forget that God loved us and Christ died for us when we were supremely unlovely and unlovable. What an awesome God we have; as our pastor said, He upheld our side of the covenant through Christ because we were unable to uphold it on our own. Deep thought for an anniversary, huh?


Our plans today are to go away for the evening, leaving Charlotte with her Auntie Brit. We will return to normal life on Saturday, and I will try to remember to take the camera with us so that there will be pictures of what we did to commemorate our five years together.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pictures

For the out-of-state family newly watching this blog, I'd like to present some of the most recent Charlotte pictures. We've had trouble remembering to take them lately; photography is fun and easy when babies are immobile, but chasing after a toddler with a camera, trying to get her to smile while telling her not to touch things is a bit more difficult. Of course, the timing plays an important part as well, since after about 6:00 pm, the level of cooperation with photography decreases significantly and steadily until bedtime. You can always tell who in the family is behind the camera - that person is never in any pictures. As you can probably guess, that person in our family is me. There are twice as many pictures of my husband on our camera than of me, and of the half I'm in, in about half of those, I look mediocre at best. Oh well.

Playing in Daddy's office.



A bathtime mohawk.




Cruising on the coffee table in pajamas.



And asleep. That green thing is her foot. The closest that we can guess is that she was sitting up in her crib because she didn't want to go to sleep and then she just got so tired, she fell forward and asleep. Haha.

I'll try to be more conscientious about filling your Charlotte quota. In the meantime, let me know what you think of my new blog.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Beginning

My husband can attest that I have been a blog addict for about six months. It all started with Joyfully Home, which led me to A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, and now, after teasing my friends and checking my favorite blogs for daily updates, I am beginning my own. Hello.
My name is Kathleen, and I am a 26 year old English teacher. I have a husband, Adam, and a 13-month-old daughter, Charlotte. We attend a reformed Baptist church in Virginia, and for all intents and purposes, I consider myself to be reformed. The name of my freshly creative blog comes from my favorite Bible verse and a cry of every believer's heart:
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14
In this blog, I hope to reflect Christ, display Him in and through my life and happenings, and hopefully stay more focused on Him as I proceed through my days. Also, I hope to inspire others the way I have been inspired by the blogs I follow.
After all, my utmost desire in Christ. Soli Deo Gloria.