In my pocket this week, VOLUME FOUR

With each new day I become increasingly aware of the delight my children take in the world, and how when I present new things for them to engage with and wonder at, the more their vocabulary surprises me, their focus deepens, and their questions become more profound. So much of parenting is about choosing what our children will meet and engage with on any given day. It’s very easy to fall down the slope of saying, “My children don’t do x,y, or z because it’s not good for them.” What follows is often a sense of superiority, and others feel judged because essentially, you’re saying that your decisions are better than someone else’s decisions. Of course there are quantifiably damaging things that we can allow into our children’s lives, but I’m not talking about those things. I’m talking about all those things we all have opinions about, and get passionate about, but where the research is limited and there is no moral issue at stake. Lately I’ve chosen to look at what my children do each day in an either/or way. Either my children do this, or they will do that. We can’t have our cake and eat it, too. Continue reading

Kindy: The plan

Earlier this summer I decided we would begin our school year at the beginning of July. Having an early start date made sense for several reasons. The primary reason being that we’ll be adding to our number sometime in the first week of September, making me think that starting school at the same time might not be the most practical, or achievable, choice. July and August are blazing hot here in Waco anyway, so why not do some learning while we’re indoors escaping the heat?

I thought it would be fun to share our current plan, and will swing back with updates throughout the year about how things are going. You guys are down with being my accountability partners, right? Oh, good. We have had such great recommendations from friends, and I’m excited to plunge into these great curriculums and books. Continue reading

In my pocket this week, VOLUME THREE

We celebrated Bruno’s birthday on Saturday and of course Father’s Day on Sunday. Before Bruno went to bed on Friday night he said, “Don’t forget my bear!” He has been pining for a Gund Snuffles Bear of his own. I have one from my childhood, and I bought one for our firstborn, who of course turned out to be Seb. Bruno picked up on the theme and has been borrowing my bear until one of his own could be procured. While he slept, we placed his new panda in bed with him. He woke up a full hour earlier than normal on the morning of his birthday, carrying his new bear into our room to enquire about the obvious magic that must have occurred during the night to produce such a treasure in his bed. Continue reading

Pregnancy companions

Typically I have a bare-bones approach to pregnancy. It lasts 9 months, which in the grand scheme of things is not very long, so in the past I have avoided buying specific items suited to that short season of life. When you’re in it, though, it can seem like an eternity! Your body goes through such vast changes in a short period of time, and for those of us who like steadiness and predictability, pregnancy can be not only physically stressful, but emotionally and mentally fatiguing to say the least. Your clothes fit one day, and then don’t the next, sleeping becomes uncomfortable, anxiety may increase, and crazy hormones threaten to unglue your sanity. I try to remember that these things are not only temporary, but a means to an end. My littlest, Bruno, turned 4 on Saturday. I can’t even tell you the number of times I have replayed those first moments with him over and over and over again to bolster my courage through this pregnancy. Of course I have similar sweet memories from when Sebastian was born, but Bruno’s birth was this striking, thunder bolt experience. It was a rush of relief and sudden wonder when in what seemed the same instant he both entered the world and was on my chest, soft and warm and gooey. My birthing experience with him was one for the books. There were no niceties of getting him cleaned off and wrapped up before I held him in my arms. It was as if he never left me for a moment as the midwife moved him with incredible swiftness to my arms. I remember so vividly the way his chubby little biceps felt as I held him. Continue reading

In my pocket this week, VOLUME TWO

This week was full, and pretty difficult honestly, but we’re on the other side, having learned some hard lessons and gained a fresh perspective. On the brighter side, we got to celebrate my 3 birthday boys this weekend, and doesn’t Bruno’s face just say it all? His puppy themed cake was just the most fun to make (shoutout to my mama who taught me her cake decorating ways). Thanks to my dear friend and Waco photographer Citrus Holly for her incredible documentation of our little shindig.

I continue to be immensely thankful for the time I’ve had this summer to be on my own writing, reading, and planning. I simply hadn’t realized how much I had been needing time like this. Things will change when the Fall semester starts, and we have a newborn, all in what will likely be the same week, but until then I am savoring the slowness of these days and the space to think, create, and learn. Thank you for being a part of this writing journey and for all of you who encourage me in this calling. Continue reading

Chapter books and pre-readers

Writing brings me clarity.

I am an external processor, which means that words I don’t always believe in or trust simply spill out of me. Conversations can be stressful at times because I hardly know what I’m saying before I say it. Writing permits me to dump, but also to filter and contemplate what I’ve laid out. I am also a visual learner, so being able to actually see my thoughts adds another important element of understanding. And so I’m writing about something I hardly understand myself. So much of parenting is that way, isn’t it? You get a glimpse of something coming: a new stage, a new skill your child is developing, and then you have to contemplate what steps you might need to take in order to encourage that growth and nurture the expanding mind of your child. Continue reading

A letter, for when home doesn’t feel like home

Dear friend across the world,

This morning I made my summer morning “commute” to Common Grounds, but instead of writing, I peeled away my resistance and opened iPhoto, determined to make the first of our photo albums from Germany as a Father’s Day surprise for Cody. I haven’t been able to look at those pictures for two years, because even just a few minutes of seeing snippets of those memories and that life have every single time made me terribly, truly, sad deep into my core. I was particularly struck today as I spent an hour looking through just the photos from our first month. That month was so so hard, but what I saw looking back at those pictures was only how terribly terribly beautiful it was. I now cherish those blurry pictures on our horrid looking blue couch, how comically bare our shelves were, or how the only toys our children had were a few measly blocks and a couple animal figurines we had brought with us from the states. Our kids outfits were a mishmash of random things, as we tried to accustom ourselves to a different lifestyle, and the photos were evidence of the newness of it all.

Continue reading

In my pocket this week, VOLUME ONE

Some carry loose change in their pockets, chapstick, or a ticket stub from that amazing concert. Maybe there’s a grocery list, a receipt from your morning coffee date, or a pacifier. What about a wilted wildflower your toddler picked for you, some sand from the beach, or a plastic dinosaur? Metaphorically speaking, maybe you’ve got sunshine in your pocket, like Justin Timberlake. No matter, there are little smatterings of our days and the people that were in them peeking out over the edge. Continue reading

Kids clothing: The low down

Own rather than consume (Wildly Co.). 

This statement is subtle, but as I think about it, it nearly perfectly describes our outlook toward the clothing we purchase for our children (and for ourselves, for that matter). We have been moving in this direction for several years, but only early this year did I finally express to Cody my increasingly strong conviction that we simply cannot continue to buy clothing or other items from sources that are not transparent about their production processes. It was a scary thing for to me to admit. I wasn’t sure how we would cover the up front cost of the things we would need this year, especially being pregnant and seemingly having constant clothing needs. Cody, ever conscious of our spending, surprised me a little with his enthusiasm for this decision. I think he understood that my conviction went deeper than my usual desire to buy well-made, beautiful things, and understood it was a very real way in which we could love people whom we’ve never met. I also think it was evidence that it was the right timing for us. We are under no illusion that this decision will change the way child labor and horrific factory conditions are perpetuated all over the world, but we feel morally convicted that when we must purchase something, we should do our best to know where it’s coming from. We will muddle through at times, but keep pressing forward toward our goals. Continue reading