List of the Day (LotD): Summer Fun!

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My summer fun list is nothing new or extraordinary. It’s not too adventurous and won’t keep us too busy. We just like to spend a few minutes brainstorming a few things we’d really like to do (trips, a few places to visit) and then scatter those in with some other lazy summer activities!  You’ll notice most of these are pretty low-key, with a few places to visit that are not huge tourist attractions (we don’t like crowds!). 

 

1. Hiking

2. Silverman’s Farm

3. Model rocket

4. Overnight @ Mimi’s

5. Date Night

6. Dinner at the Beach

7. Beach days

8. Pool days

9. Backyard pool

10. BBQs

11. Road trips

12. VBS

13. Unplugged day

14. Random acts of kindness

15. Make popsicles

16. Wash car

17. Zoo

18. Sidewalk chalk

19. Build a fort

20. Fire pit/s’mores

21. Fireworks

22. Bike rides

23. Glow bubbles

24. Fly a kite

25. Grace Farms

26. Farmer’s Market

27. Plant a garden

28. Lemonade stand

29. Catch fireflies

30. Go to a carnival

31. Birthday party for Hugo (our dog) 

32. Botanical gardens

33. Brooklyn Bridge park

 

What’s missing from this list? After viewing this list for the first time, a friend said, “Why isn’t making lists on the list?” I think that’s an excellent point, because as we all know... lists are fun!!

The Weirdness of Motherhood

Last night I had a not-too-unusual experience that perfectly encapsulates what a friend has recently called “the weirdness of motherhood”. I had never thought about how weird motherhood was until I heard that phrase and since then I’ve been recognizing it in everything! 

At around 4am my son came to me crying about a spider in his bed. Agreeing with him that yes, that is indeed terrifying, but reassuring him that it was a dream, I encouraged him to go back to bed. (Actually it was more like “huh? Dream! Bed!”) But instead, he climbed into bed with us, and I was too tired to argue. 

What happened next is a perfect example of the weirdness of motherhood. Let me paint you a picture. 

 

Not shown in this little cartoon is that at one point, I was actually missing my daughter and wishing she would join us in the bed! And literally the next second - almost simultaneously even! - I was wishing my son was back in his bed and I could go to sleep. It’s like wanting to be thin and wanting to eat an entire tray of brownies at the same time! (Another oxymoron in my life.)

Whatever stage of motherhood we are in, we want them gone and we want them back. We want snuggles and we want our own space. We want to hold them forever, but we are training them to leave. So I suppose in the end, we have to concentrate on the good stuff and roll with the bad. I’m thankful that my son kept me up last night and I could capture a beautiful sleeping boy picture. But I’m also thankful he doesn’t do that most nights. I guess that’s the key: being thankful whatever the circumstances. 

1 Thessalonians 5:18

List of the Day (LotD): Playlist

This playlist is not original to me. It is an Apple curated playlist that they made specifically for me based on my preferences. They do a new one every Tuesday and they are hit-or-miss (usually more miss than hit). But I particularly enjoyed this week’s! So if you are also a fan of mostly female pop artists, with some Disney and show tunes mixed in, this list might just be for you. iTunes Spotify

 

List of the Day (LotD): TV Shows

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It’s been a while since I’ve published any fun lists, so today it’s all about TV! I looked for some questions that were more than just “favorite this or that” and it’s was so fun, I may have to do a sequel sometime. And since I love TV so much, I’d love to hear your answers in the comments or in your own blog post!

  1. What was the first TV show you remember loving?
    I Love Lucy. I knew every episode by heart; have Lucy dolls, trading cards, and books. And if you’re curious, my favorite episode was a little known one: the one where Lucy dances with Van Johnson and does it perfectly! 

    2. What was the last TV show you watched every episode of?
    Psych

    3. What was the last TV show you watched entirely online?
    Uhmmm all of them?

    4. What was the last TV show you gave up on before it ended?
    Battlestar Galactica. (I’m gonna get some judgement here...)

    5. What's the one TV show you can always watch reruns of, no matter how many times you've seen them?
    Parks and Recreation, The Office, Frasier

    6. Who is your favorite late-night host, past or present?
    Jimmy Fallon.

    7. What is your all-time favorite cartoon or animated series?
    Curious George, I guess? I don’t really watch adult cartoons so this is my favorite kid cartoon (non-movie).

    8. What is your all-time favorite reality show?
    Dancing with the Stars.

    9. What is your biggest guilty pleasure show?
    I’ve watched every episode of Desperate Housewives. A few times over. I figure this counts as my biggest guilty pleasure, because I’m embarrassed to admit it!

    10. Who is your all-time favorite TV character?
    Leslie Knope!

    11. What TV character can you most relate to?
    Katie on American Housewife, although I want to be like Leslie Knope: she can do anything!

    12. What TV apartment/house would you choose to live in if money/location/logic made no difference?
    I can’t think of any because most are apartments in the city. Are there any that are big beach houses or castles in the middle of nowhere?

    13. Who is your all-time biggest TV crush?
    Jim ❤️ 

    14. What is your all-time favorite TV theme song or opening sequence?
    Friends

    15. What is your all-time favorite comedy? (Limit yourself to 3 if you must)
    Arrested Developement, Community, Parks and Recreation

    16. What is your all-time favorite drama? (Limit yourself to 3 if you must)
    Doctor Who, Stranger Things, Broadchurch, oh my goodness the list could go on full of British crime dramas!
     (And since you don’t ask, my favorite “dramedy” was Ugly Betty)

    17. What are your top three "TV blind spots"—the famous/seminal shows you’ve never seen?
    Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones (although I did watch season 1), any of these type shows that are just too intense/dark for me!

    18. What TV show do you insist everyone you know should watch?
    Arrested Development

    19. What show cancellation broke your heart?
    Arrested Development

    20. What TV moment makes you cry every time?
    When Andy says, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” (The Office)

List of the Day (LotD): Musical Appreciation, part 2

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My post from several weeks ago now, “Musical Appreciation, or the qualitative assessment of music appreciation,” promised an addendum with the list of qualities ranked by both my husband and myself. As frequently happens when we take time to rank and then compare, the results are almost exactly opposite! (Remember our Pixar lists?)

So below, you will find our reasons for liking any specific song or music as ranked by high, medium, or low importance. What would you rank the highest? What would you rank the lowest? Are we missing anything from this list?

  

Amy

High:
Evoking emotinos
Ability to sing along
Instrument/vocal quality

Medium:
Lyrics
Catchy
Instruments used

Low:
Context
Innovative
Technical ability of musicians

 

Ryan 

High:
Innovative
Technical ability of usicians

Medium:
Lyrics
Instrument/vocal quality
Ability to sing along
Catchy

Low:
Context
Evoking emotions
Instruments used

List of the Day (LotD): February Favorites

In February, I participated in a Lettering Challenge on Instagram about my favorites in all different categories. Here are the categories and I’ll let you figure out their matches!

Favorite:

Live Action TV Show

Board Game

Day of the Week

Animated TV Show

Hero

Villain

Flower

Video Game

Live Action Movie

Actor

Actress

Animated Movie

Dessert

Anime

Meal

Song

Hobby

Animal

Restaurant

Fruit

Vacation

Season

Holiday

 

Now it’s your turn! Leave your favorites in the comments. 

Being Brave

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“Boys are braver than girls,” my daughter announced one afternoon.

I don’t remember what I was doing, but I know my head snapped up, ready for a fight! Now, I am not a hard-core feminist but I will fight for my gender when necessary, especially when it comes to my daughter.

“Why do you say that?” I asked, coolly, as if I was only slightly interested. (Sometimes I have to reign in my reactions, so I don’t scare her away.)

“They just like to climb high and jump off things and touch bugs and stuff like that,” she said.

“And that makes them braver?” I asked. Again, I was super-cool about it.

“Well, I’m too afraid to do those things and they aren’t!”

I could see her logic, because it seems to me it’s the logic that most people use when describing brave: If I’m too afraid of something, and you do it, then you must be braver than me.

But I’m here to say FALSE.

Being brave is highly subjective. What is brave for one person might not be brave for another! The hard part about being brave is facing our fears. There is no brave without some kind of fear.

Brave is speaking up when you are terrified to speak in public.

Brave is telling your story even when you feel embarrassed by it.

Brave is continuing to love someone who has hurt you in the past and you are worried it will happen again.

Brave is breaking up with someone who is wrong for you, even though you’re afraid of being alone.

Brave is opening your home to strangers, even though you fear the unknown.

I don’t want to take away from people who speak in public and are not terrified, who tell their story and are not embarrassed, who love someone else but have never been hurt by them, who break up with the wrong person for them but don’t fear loneliness, who are hospitable to strangers but are not worried about what they will bring. Those are all good things. They just are not brave.

Brave does not come easy, so let’s not water down its meaning by crediting it to those people who do not have the accompanying fear.

So as I looked at my daughter that afternoon, I wanted to explain all this to her and somehow show her that sometimes her mom can even be brave! But there’s a problem: in order to reveal the brave, I also have to reveal the fear and insecurity behind the brave. And that’s the hard part. How do I show my daughter that I am afraid but I am doing it anyway, without also passing on that fear to her?

As I think about the brave people that I know and want to emulate, I am struck by the fact that the people who are bravest are also the people who have been the most fearful and have had to overcome it.

But I want to be careful about passing on my fears to my daughter. So as I endeavor to exhibit bravery to her, I want to only show her those fears that I have already faced. (And then someday I can admit that many of my fears, I never could face, so maybe I’m really not that brave at all.)

So we just take each moment as it comes, each little act of bravery. And take advantage of these times when we can just talk - and I can just listen without going on a diatribe.

“Those boys aren’t braver,” I explained. “They just aren’t afraid of the same things you are! You can’t be brave if you’re not a little afraid first.”

And we left it at that. For now.

List of the Day (LotD): Music Appreciation, or the qualitative assessment of music appreciation

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My husband and I both love music, and yet even after over 10 years, we can never agree on what to listen to! Finally, on a recent road trip, we were able to pinpoint why: there are actually a lot of reasons to love or appreciate music (or a specific song), we just don’t agree each reason’s level of importance. After this discovery, we endeavored to make a list of all these reasons (below, in no particular order), and for next week’s LotD, we will rank them and compare, so you have something to look forward to!

Once you’ve seen the list, go and listen to your favorite song. What are the reasons you like it? And are they among those listed below? If not, let us know so we can make sure this is a complete list.

 

 Music Appreciation:

Lyrics

Instrument/vocal quality (tone, timbre, range)

Context

Innovative

Technical ability of musicians

Evoking emotions

Ability to sing along

Catchy

Instruments used

List of the Day (LotD): Pixar Films Ranked

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I’ve decided that Wednesdays will be list days, just for a little bit of mid-week fun (what is more fun than a list?). So today’s LotD is ranking Pixar movies! I don’t know about you, but this is a frequent topic of conversation in our house (cuz, you know, the important things). So below you will find all 18 movies* ranked by my husband and I. As you will see, we don’t seem to have the same taste at all!

Once you’ve seen the lists, leave a comment with your top choice, top three, or if you’re feeling ambitious (or just bored), leave your whole list and we’ll see how they compare! I’m happy to engage in a friendly debate about why my list is correct.

*We haven’t seen Coco yet, so this list could change once we do!

Amy

The Incredibles
Cars
Brave
Inside Out
Monsters, Inc.
Finding Nemo
Finding Dory
Cars 3
Toy Story
Toy Story 2
Cars 2
Ratatouille
Toy Story 3
Monsters University
Up
Wall-E
A Bug’s Life
The Good Dinosaur

 

Ryan:

Wall-E
Ratatouille
Toy Story
Inside Out
Toy Story
Up
Brave
The Incredibles
Finding Nemo
Cars
Toy Story 2
Monsters, Inc.
A Bug’s Life
Cars 3
Finding Dory
Monsters University
The Good Dinosaur
Cars 2

**Bonus** 

Audrey’s Top Three (my 7yo daughter): 

Brave
Ratatouille
The Incredibles

Reading, Watching, Doing, Learning - January Edition

This post begins a series of monthly posts to both fulfill my resolution of posting monthly, as well as serving as a writing exercise. 

What I’m Reading: 

  • Crossroads of Twilight, Wheel of Time, book 10 (Robert Jordan)
    This is an epic fantasy series of 14 books, each about 1000 pages. But this book has been a low point and I’ve been “in the middle of it” for almost a year. I love this series and am totally invested in finishing it at this point, though!
  • Come Rain or Come Shine, Mitford series, book 13 (Jan Karon)
    I’ll be honest, at this point in the series, I am listening on Audible and let myself fall asleep to it every night. I don’t miss much in this slow-moving book, but it’s sweet enough to make me think happy thoughts as I drift off to dreamland!
  • The Songs of Jesus (Tim Keller)
    The devotional I’m currently using. Very brief devotions based on a few verses in the Psalms. I wish each one were more in depth, but conversely, I picked it because they are short enough for me to actually get done every day!

What I’m Watching: 

  • Monk, Amazon Prime
    I’m embarrassed to admit this is not my first time re-watching the series. But it’s like comfort food to me, and I can work/crochet/fold laundry while it’s on in the background. 
  • The Crown, season 2, Netflix
    This is a show that I can watch with Ryan. He likes the history. I like the clothes. Win-win. 
  • Superstore, season 2, Hulu
    Another show to watch with Ryan. Usually he doesn’t like sitcoms (and they are my bread and butter) but at this one, we both literally LOL. 

What I’m Doing: 

  • Crochet hearts
    It’s that time of year when I’m winding down with the hats and looking for other crochet projects. Tiny crochet hearts take so little time to make and I just love to put them everywhere! 
  • Kids’ birthday gifts
     I usually try to include a handmade item for my children’s birthdays, and since their birthdays are only two weeks apart, this keeps me pretty busy in January. I am finishing a train flannel blanket for my 3yo son, and a My Little Pony pillow for my 6yo daughter.

What I’m Learning: 

  • We are all broken, even if we think we have it all together. Sometimes I am horrified and embarrassed by my brokenness. Sometimes I’m proud of myself because I think I have it all together. But really I should be embarrassed when I think I have it all together, because it’s much better when I remember I’m broken. Being broken is beautiful: it’s when God can really shine through. 
  • I wish I could put what I’m learning into a simple bullet point that completely defines exactly what I’m thinking, but really it’s more of an amorphous blur of thoughts that keep changing. I guess that’s why I’m doing this exercise.

Goals for the month:

  • Finish 3 more books. 
  • Finish editing my next children’s story. 

 Poetry Practice:

So begins, in cold
winter, a year of goals to
blossom and bear fruit.

Telling Your Story

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She worried about telling her story,

She worried it would not inspire.

She worried about sharing so much of herself,

And the honesty that it would require.


Others had gone before her

With stories so moving and fierce.

And though she knew knew better than to compare

Still she worried with eyes full of tears.


Why should I tell my story? She pleaded.

What does it have to add?

A story without a brave heroine;

A story, not moving or sad.


She thought of stories she’d heard all her life

Of characters so brave and true:

Testimonies of God’s faithfulness

And all that He’d brought them through.


All stories have a main character

The One who directs the plot.

Was she the one who guided her story?

And then she realized, she was not.


She was simply an instrument

To play His beautiful song.

He was the one to write her story,

She just had to sing along.


So she told others of her story

And though she still felt small,

She finally learned to embrace her story

Because it wasn’t her story, after all.

Texting is my Love Language

 

I didn’t grow up texting, but I feel like it was invented just for me. I remember sending my first text in college and feeling guilty because I knew I just cost my friend 50 cents. But since then, as the popularity of texting grew, so has my affinity for it. 

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I usually claim that if you call me, I will text you back (which is a problem when someone calls from a landline!). I will pin memes to my “so me” Pinterest board that say, “I’d appreciate if you’d stop calling me, but I’d probably respond if you decide to text instead.” It’s all just funny, and mostly tongue-in-cheek. And yes, occasionally, if I love you and know you love the phone, I will give you a call. But texting just suits me and all my introvert needs!

The text message takes a lot of flack, however. I’ve heard complaints about how kids never look at each other in the eyes, or never enjoy the present, because they are always texting someone else! I’ve heard that it is leading to the destruction of language and proper grammar, because no one cares about those thing when writing a text. I think these arguments have merit, but like most things in life, a balance must be sought. Text messaging is just a tool, and as with any tool, it’s how we use them that matters. 

I’m in a stage of life that is mostly dictated by my children’s schedules. And even for an introvert with some hermit-tendencies, it can get a little lonely! Even though I enjoy the occasional coffee and play dates with friends, I don’t need people around me all the time, or even that often. I don’t need endless phone conversations or a packed-full schedule. But I do need to know that I’m not alone, that I’m not forgotten, even as I putter around the house with only my three-year-old as company. I need to know that I matter to someone in the outside world and that they are thinking of me.

And then I get a text from someone saying hi and checking in or asking for a play date. Or maybe it’s just an informational text or a question about something, but it feels like a lifeline to an outside world that I may not need to be in all the time, but definitely want to know that I am a part of.  

So every once in a while, I take the time to just send out texts. Sometimes it’s just to one person who has come to my mind, and I want them to know I am thinking about them and love them. Sometimes I send out several. Because isn’t that what we all want, whether introvert or extrovert, whether texter or caller: don’t we just want to know that we aren’t alone, that we aren’t forgotten, that we matter to someone, and that they are thinking of us?

So if you get a text from me, whether just a random hi, asking a question, or giving you some sort of information, let it be a reminder to you that you are not alone. You are remembered and matter to me and I’m thinking of you. Because I am sitting alone at home or in my car, and after all, texting is my love language.

My Prayers for Las Vegas

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This is my view as I sit cross-legged and arms outstretched in prayer for a city that has been host to such a terrible atrocity. And I am struck that two days ago, in a hotel less than a mile away, another looked down on this city, and, so filled with evil was he, that he took the lives of so many, including his own. And here I am, little old me, looking down on this city and trying to combat the darkness in my own way.

We planned this trip months ago when we learned that my husband’s promotion required him to attend a series of conferences in Las Vegas, and spouses were encouraged to attend as well. When we heard about the shooting, I thought possibly the conference would be cancelled (and secretly hoped), but no, it was still on, with increased security. So here we came to Las Vegas.

At the airport was the juxtaposition of the blaring signs and colorful advertisements, promoting anything you could possibly desire, with large black screens saying “We’ve been there for you in the good times. Thank you for standing with us in the bad. #VegasStrong” And that is the hashtag I almost used in my photo above, but something in me balked at the idea. Vegas Strong? No, the only help for Vegas, for any city, for our country, and for our world, can be found through prayer.

I do not believe it was a coincidence that brought me here, with a burning desire in my heart to pray. And not just pray, but to sit at the window and stretch out my arms, not out of the hate and evil of the man two days ago, but out of sadness and love.

Tears pour down my face as I pray for the people of this city, both visitors and residents, who have been broken by this act of evil. I pray that they will seek Jesus, the Savior and Ultimate Comforter, for healing and renewal. I pray for the people who are here that have not been broken, because they have built up such walls of hate and fear or even indifference, that God will break down those walls so that His love and transforming power can seep into their souls. I pray for the families of those who died, that they will seek and find comfort in Jesus; I pray for the wounded that they will be healed and give God the glory! I pray that the churches would rise up in love and be welcoming of every single sinner (and by that, I mean EVERYONE, including and especially myself) and say, “Come and gather with us, because we love you. Here you will find redemption and renewal through our Savior, Jesus Christ.” And finally, I have been praying for this city, that it will be transformed by this heinous act, and not by responding evil with evil, but by becoming a city that LOVES, as Christ loves his people. That people would feel the love of God like a broken dam, that floods through every seedy ally and small corners of every heart, and the city would be renewed and transformed by this love, by His power, and by His Grace.

Because I am dealing with my own insecurities while I am here, I feel an inadequate vessel to be pouring out such enormous prayers for this city. But for some reason I am here and feel this burden that I can’t seem to ignore, so I continue to pray things that I may never see answered, or may never see the impact of until I get to heaven. But for some reason, God chooses inadequate vessels, so maybe he did indeed choose me to be here for such a time as this.

AirBnb: Our Own Mission Field

This is a guest post by the very talented Lois Barker, who also happens to be my mother and who I wrote this post about in 2007.

Two weeks ago, my husband and I traveled from our home in Fairfield, Connecticut to Williamsburg, Virginia in order to attend the wedding of a lovely young woman who stayed with us through Airbnb. She stayed with us all last summer, and every day after work, we would spend time together as she told us about her day. As we took our seats at her wedding, we both had tears in our eyes thinking of the blessings God has given us in getting to know this lovely woman and now, her husband. As I told her, she will always be remembered in our prayers. 

Who would have thought when we started AirBnb that we would form such precious relationships with our guests? And that we would be invited to share in their families' momentous occasions? And that we would be able to share our faith with people from all over the world, without ever leaving our home? But that's just a small part of the joys of hosting through Airbnb. 

And what an amazing time we had this past weekend! Again, through Airbnb, we have been honored to host two separate Chinese families over the past several years. They now consider our home their home-away-from-home. These two families had never met in China, but became friends when they were staying in our house at the same time. Both of these families had children in private schools in Connecticut. Both of these young people were the valedictorians of the respective classes and now will be attending the same university in the United States. Imagine our joy when they proudly invited us to the two separate graduations and then two graduation parties afterwards. We felt so honored and privileged to be included in such an intimate gathering. And again, as we said good-bye, we told them they would always be in our hearts and prayers. 

For many years we have been giving to missions but never felt led to go ourselves. At times, we even felt guilty as family members and friends left their homes to be missionaries around the world. Then the Lord brought us to a period of financial instability, so we decided to open our home to Airbnb. What a surprise to find that God used a time of uncertainty in our lives to bring the mission field right to us!

We put Bibles in different languages in all the rooms. We pray for opportunities to share Christ with our guests. We simply become friends and join in their lives, and through this, we have our own little mission field. We pray that we can be a blessing to our guests. And we find great joy in the blessing that they have been to us.