Silk Cord by Jane Hirshfield

In the dream the string had broken
and I was trying to
pick out its beads among all others.

The large coral beads,
the beads of turquoise and ivory—
these were not mine.
Carved and ridged with color, burnished, weighty—
my hands passed over them without regret or pause.

The tiny ones,
of glass,
almost invisible against the white cotton bedspread—
these were mine.

The hole in the center
scarcely discernible as different from the bead itself,
the bead around it
scarcely discernible as different from the bed or floor or air—

with trembling fingers
I lifted them
into the jar my other hand cupped closely to one breast.

Not precious, merely glass, almost invisible.
How terrified I was at the thought of missing even one.

While I live, I thought, they are mine to care for.

Then wakened heavy with what I recognized at once
as an entirely warranted grief,

frantic for something plain and clear
and almost without substance,
that I myself had scattered, that I myself must find.

book notes: end of summer


Never Say No by Mark and Jan Foreman
The Foremans are the parents of Jon and Tim Foreman, the lead singers from the band Switchfoot. I liked that this book was not so much an advice book, but more a “how we went about raising our kids” type book. The first section of the book was my favorite—mostly about being present with your kids, enjoying them, letting them take risks. I also liked the chapter on limiting technology and getting the kids involved with the home in chores, etc. I did have a few disagreements with their strategies, but overall I thought this was good for parents who are trying to raise creative kids and aren’t afraid to go against the mainstream way of doing things.

Design Mom: How to Live With Kids, a Room-by-Room Guide by Gabrielle Stanley Blair
Though my kid are all younger than this authors’ kids, I still enjoyed reading her tips and looking at the lovely pictures. There were some things that she advised that would not work for our family, but some things that would—I’ve been trying this year to give my girls as much independence as I can, so I loved her ideas for hanging clothes where they can reach them (right now we use a stool, which is fine for zu, but I might install hooks at June’s level so she can pick out her clothes too).

Love the Home You Have by Melissa Michaels
I barely finished this book—just skimmed it really. I thought it’d be a book I’d love, but the advice was stuff everyone has heard before and the writing style was much more “bloggy” than it should’ve been. I think this book would’ve been more interesting if it were instead a design book—glossy pages, pictures of examples—rather than an advice book. or maybe some sort of mix of the two, like Nesting Place by Myquillan Smith.

Reading Novalis in Montana by Melissa Kwasny
lovely vocabulary and imagery. The first section of the book was my favorite, since it had such a sense of Place (seems like it should, with the title!). the last section was my least favorite mostly because I sometimes tire of reading poems about greek mythology, and it seemed like an odd fit with the poems that were so much more personal earlier in the book.

Thin Skin by Drew Myron
her press did a beautiful job with the book—it’s a mix of photography and poetry. She tends to use ocean imagery and to write about relationships; my only criticism is that I wished for come more concrete details at times, things that were more specifically and not universally applicable.

For the Girls:
Uncle Wiggly’s Storybook
A Child’s Anthology of Poetry
Charlotte’s Web
Stuart Little
Little House on the Prairie

Freedom – (Galatians 5:1)


bryan and I see eye-to-eye on most things–but one area where we cannot agree? Seeds Family Worship VS. Slugs and Bugs. Bryan likes Seeds better, but, try as I might, I can’t love it as much as I love Slugs and Bugs. Mainly because Slugs and Bugs is much more likely to cause a kitchen floor dance party for me and the girls. Bryan can’t really argue with that point ;). enjoy!

Originally posted on Slugs and Bugs:

This post is the first in a series on our new Slugs & Bugs CD Sing the Bible with Slugs & Bugs. The lyrics to Sing the Bible are word-for-word Scripture. I hope this series helps parents talk and think with their kids about each passage.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, stand firm then, and do not let yourself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1

At first glance, this is a confusing verse for anyone. But remind them that they are smart. They can totally get this.

A good way to begin is to ask them what did Christ set us free from? See if they can remember the Romans 8 song. “…because through Christ the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

Yes! Christ set us…

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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo (a review)

This book was highly recommended, but when I picked it up from the library I didn’t expect to learn much—when we moved a couple months ago, we gave away, sold, or discarded probably half our possessions, easily. So our house of course was decluttered. Oh I was wrong! Kondo’s method of decluttering left me getting rid of 4 bags of trash and 2 bags of donations. That seems like a lot but it is really nothing compared to most of her clients, who get rid of 30 or 40 or more bags of trash.

Through reading her book, I realized that while in most areas I was pretty economical, I had some soft spots where I was holding on to far more than we needed or that “sparked joy” (her criteria for what you keep: whatever brings you joy). I got rid of a lot of my clothes, much of which were hand-me-downs from sisters or friends that I’d been wearing because they fit and were useful, not because I loved them. I got rid of a lot of photographs that meant nothing to me (tossed 3 entire photo albums worth). Paperwork was a big area where I needed to downsize—I kept things way past necessity (do I need paperwork from 2008? No.). I went through the girls toys (yet again) to see what they actually play with and what is just taking up space.

Everyday bryan came home from work to find a bag of trash waiting by the door and trashcans stuffed full. Yet I know there is still more I could do—two areas where she recommends discarding things but I disagree:

  1. books
    she recommends keeping only what you truly love and what sparks joy and what you’ll read again. I agree with that to some extent, except that I plan to homeschool, and I want my kids to have access to classics that I may not read again (except to read aloud to them) but that they should have easy access to (the Narnia series, Treasure Island, Heidi, Leaves of Grass).
  2. Clothes for other seasons / sizes.
    since I have 3 girls, I do keep tubs of old clothes to hand down from one girl to the next. I try to be picky about what I save—the girls tend to have more than they need—but I think, counting all the many sizes from newborn to 4T, I have about four or five Rubbermaid containers full. I did also have a small tub for maternity clothes, though I think that most of my clothes are so threadbare now (3rd time around!) that I’ll keep very few items.

I also disagree with her idea that things should not necessarily be kept where they are most convenient but should have a place elsewhere in the home, all in one place rather than scattered about (for example, keeping a stack of notebooks in your room and on the porch—she’d say pick one place). with little kids and a newborn on the way, I’ve set up a “newborn station” in our bedroom (a drawer with diapers, clothes, wipes; a rocking chair with burp clothes nearby and a lamp to read by; a pack in play and rock-n-play for her to sleep in), though I do plan to move her to her own room eventually.

Overall I highly recommend this book—I think anyone can benefit from her ideas on decluttering and organization, and her tone and voice is so charming and funny that it’s a pleasure to read.

The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

a luminous green

(originally posted May 2012)

as i sit feeding zuzu this morning, i notice out the sunroom window the shoots of new growth on our tallest magnolia are marked by a brighter green than the old. you can see that everywhere in our yard; the wife who lived here before me was a gardener and planted the right things so that something would always be blooming no matter the season.

i doubt i’ll ever have such natural timing. in our sloping front yard you can see that luminous new green where the flowers have fallen away from the pink and white flowering bushes that i don’t know the name for.

i don’t think such growth is as evident in human beings. as much as life has changed in the past year, i look for the most part the same. not the same the same but similar.

last night was a long night. bryan moved to the guestroom around 2 because his rls was keeping us both up. zu woke up sometime in those murky hours completely soaked through–her jimmy-jams, her diaper, her cribsheets–and crying. i changed her automatically, without turning on the light, then held her. i love the heavy feeling of a sleeping baby against my chest. i kept her with me in our bed for a little while, something i rarely do, since she woke up everytime i tried to set her down. at some point she ended up in her bed, and i went back to sleep.

not so enjoyable in rapid succession, the occasional night up with the baby can be a pleasure, i’ll admit. the weariness in the morning redeemed by the purpose behind it. the satisfying ache of motherhood.

when i couldn’t breastfeed zu, it wasn’t guilt over giving her formula that bothered me. she’s healthy and happy as can be, formula-fed since 2 months old, so i don’t feel like it hurt her in any way. the hard part for me was that i was naturally incapable of caring for my child.

you know those “motherwomen” (as Edna from the Awakening calls them). the women that have always always wanted children, that babysat, that the babies always smile at, that said their career goal was mother,  homemaker. i was never one of them. though i worked at a daycare and enjoyed children, i never thought much about having my own, not even a few years into marriage, before the baby bug bit. i was a little scared of them. i held a newborn baby carefully as a snake at the zoo.

then when i couldn’t breastfeed i felt like it was nature’s way of saying i wasn’t meant to do this. that i have already been proven incapable of mothering. the weight of that failure. the elaborate post-partum hormones wouldn’t let it go, for a long time. incapable, incapable. i held that word close.

even though what i was feeling and thinking wasn’t truth, it felt like truth at the time, it felt inescapably real. the dark confusion after having a child is the one thing i am afraid of about having more.

i think there is an obsession in mothers, an obsession of capability. we measure ourselves with unfair measures, mostly against the yardstick of our friends, families, neighbors. like comparing your very best orange to her most complex math problem.

i’ve worn myself out on such comparisons the past few months and i would like to let them go now. to stop gauging my parenting by how i feed my baby, my beauty on how much i weigh, my motherhood by how much i’m home. by God’s measurements i am utterly lacking but paid in full.

redeemed, how i love to proclaim it.

new growth and inexperience go hand in hand. i would like to take joy in my lack of expertise, the learning how to become a mother, the shaping constant shaping, clay on the wheel.

What’s In The Bible?

Originally posted on Bryan J Emerson:

A simple question that every Christian has asked, and that every Christian needs to know: What’s in the Bible?  The narrative of the Bible is rather simple, but the meta-narrative can be easily overlooked.  People can get bogged down by the minutiae and fail to see the whole picture.

Phil Vischer, creator of Veggie Tales, strives to answer this question as fully as he can while also trying to reach the youngest of audiences in his thirteen-part children’s series called “Buck Denver asks ‘What’s In The Bible?'”.

Each of the thirteen DVDs in the series include two episodes as well as some bonus features, often including new animated shorts or relevant segments from previous episodes.  The twenty-six episodes (just perfect for a one episode a week per school year or one disc a week per semester schedule) cover the entire Bible, explaining not only the content, but how each of…

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