January 31, 2013

{book review} here i go again

here i go again by jen lancaster is a breezy novel about the high school "it" girl, lissy ryder, losing it all and facing the reality of what her "itness" cost others-- and herself. through a glossed-over method, lissy is able to go back in time (again and again) in order to find the the moment that her future (and the futures of her classmates) hinges upon. it's fun. it's full of pop culture references, and it was a quick read.

honestly, this is not the genre of book that generally leaps off the shelf into my hands. given the opportunity to review it, i wanted to give it a fair shot and hopefully open my eyes to a new genre of novel. as fun a read as it was (i definitely had some chuckles), the book fell short to me. it was as fast-paced as an episode of gilmore girls, but without the depth or heart. even lancaster's main character seemed flat to me (she's vain! but she has funky taste in music!); a paper doll instead of a living, breathing woman. i wasn't sure if i was supposed to root for or against lissy. i know how to identify with the losers or outsiders from high school (hello!), but i kept waiting to discover the heart and soul of lissy; that magic moment that would allow me to see her as human. however, the essential question that lancaster explored, i can resonate with: if you could go back and change your past, would you? or has your past (good or bad) made you who you are today? there are some past experiences that i think might want to skip over, but on the whole, i hope that i've used pain or humiliation or boredom or even tons of good to grow and learn and just simply become me. i hope we'll get to explore a little more of that in the blogher book club.

are you going on vacation soon? do you have hours in your future that should be spent curled up reading? (or better yet, stretched out in the sun reading?) here i go again is a perfect choice. fun, funny, and fast.

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own


here are a couple of other books i've read recently:

dark places by gillian flynn. this is the author of gone girl and the title is not a lie. this book is very, very dark. flynn employs the same back-and-forth storytelling device as in gone girl, but less effectively.

under the dome by stephen king. i am obsessed with king's 11.22.63. that book is as thick as a dictionary and i couldn't put it down. i wanted to give another recent king novel a try. i wasn't as into this one, but i can appreciate king's mastery of storytelling.

the school of essential ingredients by erica bauermeister. this is a short, sweet novel of a cooking class told in vignettes. it made me want to approach cooking with more romance and less get-it-on-the-table. i am now girding up my loins to attempt beef bourguignon and homemade pasta sauce.

where'd you go bernadette? by maria semple. semple was a writer for arrested development. enough said, right? this book was hysterical. i think i read it in 24 hours.

January 28, 2013


tovi, cruz, abby and i loaded up our car this weekend to watch our two nephews in the bay area (side note: remember when my entire life could be packed into my small mazda? yeah, that seems like a dream to me too). so that was two adults, two dogs, three toddlers, eight naps to orchestrate over two days, approximately two thousand cuties consumed, a seemingly endless parade of poop, and frankly, a minimal amount of meltdowns! tovi and i high-fived each other all weekend long. we made it our goal to love on our nephews, give them some special one-on-one time with each of us, and start creating some awesome relationships between these three boys. it was priceless to see them laughing with each other, coming up with funny games, and the whole thing just makes me hopeful about this family that we're all building together. can't wait for the new littles to join this crew.

January 21, 2013

what {we} wore last wednesday

oh it's monday, and i think you know how i feel about mondays. i love mondays so much that i can even catch up on all things i was supposed to get done last week. like blog posts. and dishes. 
(pretend i didn't tell you that last part)

 here is what we do in our house from morning until night: we bowl.
we are bowling fiends.
cruz rushes downstairs in the morning, sets up his "track" (two buses, naturally), i set up the pins, and then let the bowling joy (or tears of frustration) begin!
there is an old family story about one of my uncles working at a bowling alley as a kid. his job was to reset the pins after each throw and for his pains he was paid a penny per pin.
let me tell you, from where i'm standing that doesn't sound like a bad deal...
I'm looking for someone to set up my pins...
I pick you!
cruz has been eating so. much. oatmeal. like, so much that we had to upgrade to the costco pack of oatmeal this week. so. much. my son has many fine qualities, but eating oatmeal neatly is not one of them so immediately after breakfast we change (after a little diaper time, of course).

my sister-in-law gave this shirt to cruz for christmas and i couldn't wait for him to wear it! too cute. 
we've been practicing our "faces." cruz calls this one "surprised."oh, i could just eat him. 

and here's how i've been dressing the bump lately.
after 18 weeks i was officially in maternity pants zone. i pulled on a regular pair of jeggings one night before we went out, and tovi very kindly mentioned, "i think those might be a stretch."
but of all our outfits this week... this one is my favorite:
we're having a girl!!! 
wednesdays just got even better. 

January 14, 2013

out of the mouths of toddlers

cruz: lion eats meat.
me: that's true. what does cruz eat?
cruz: cruz eats bars.
me: that's definitely true. what does abby eat?
cruz: abby eats food.
me: you're right. we always ask you to get abby her food. what does mommy eat?
cruz: mommy eats vitamins.

i guess it could be worse. if he was still up at 9pm every night, he would have said, "mommy eats ice cream."

January 11, 2013

{january} 10 on 10

thursday was the tenth of the month, and once again i got close to taking ten pictures, but didn't quite make it. as my dad would say when he's being silly, pert'ynere but not plum. but that's just my dad.

so here's what we were up to on one random day in january.

6:30am. i wake up early in the morning and try to get through my devotions and making my daily to-do list before i hear babbles and snatches of song coming from cruz's room. i've been reading through the she read truth: fresh start daily devotional. every day is another story of someone in the Bible that got a fresh start or a second chance (this is basically everyone in the Bible, so it's encouraging). 

7:45am. i am getting cruz out the door for a morning at daycare. he loves daycare, so i don't tell him we are going until about ten seconds before i'm ready to head out the door as i have learned the hard way that if i tell him too early he'll just run out the front door and stand by the car. here i asked him to show me his happy face. enjoy.

8:45am. i am alone in the house and that is miraculous and wonderful. lately i have been loving going back to an old fashioned spiral-bound daily planner. love. it. it makes me feel slightly more organized and i like the visual-ness of it better than i like looking at my schedule on google calendar (although i still use that too).

 10:35am. i am getting ready for a meeting with crushcakes, a local cafe and delicious purveyor of cupcakes.

11:45am. the owner of crushcakes is awesome! as i leave, she boxed up some cupcakes for me to take home. delicious!

3pm. so two year olds are weird? cruz's latest "thing" is "bowling" with all my hairsprays. morning til night. bowling bowling bowling. fortunately for him, i have a lot of hair spray, volumizing mousse, dry shampoo, etc to make the full bowling set. i think he even slept with the hair spray. 

5:30pm. this is the aftermath of a playdate with some new fun friends. why haven't we done more evening playdates? the kiddos played, megan and i ate hummus and chatted. it was awesome. evening playdates are the best. 

7:06pm. brush 'ems! (see also: hair spray)

7:21pm. dear friend, until this very moment pictured, i had believed in my heart of hearts that i had bought food for dinner. i did not. i ended up with a dinner of leftover lemon chicken, mashed potatoes, and crab rangoons. 

after "dinner" we turned on the heat, cuddled up, and watched a few episodes of the office. lovely day. 

January 9, 2013

my great aunt lorraine and biblical womanhood


earlier this week i was asked to write a review of wild by cheryl strayed (and i get to hear her speak on monday!). i was going to also publish it here, but then i started another book, and even though i am only 7% through it (thank you, kindle), i think i'll write about that one instead. (i really enjoyed wild, by the way. could have done without so much backstory, but overall very well written and almost made me want to go camping)

not too far back in my family line on my dad's side you will find the conservative mennonites and the amish. i also grew up in the mennonite church, but it was decidedly not of a conservative bent. when i was younger, i was in an big little-house-on-the-prairie phase, so our conservative mennonite relatives just seemed like modern day pioneers, and i was pretty into that. 

my great aunt lorraine, conservative mennonite, was a godly woman with a wicked sense of humor and who never seemed to mind my questions about her lifestyle and practices. she never cut her hair, and every day she wound it into a bun on the top of her head and covered it. some of my clearest memories of her are from a weekend i spent at her house when i was a young girl. she stood in the kitchen before bedtime, backlit by soft lights and unwound her bun. her back was to me because i wanted to see how long the braid really was. it reached her feet. 

when i was a little older i asked her why she and her sister always covered their hair. she took me into the guest room at my grandparent's house and we sat on the bed while she opened her Bible to 1 corinthians 11: But there is one thing I want you to know: The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. A man dishonors his head if he covers his head while praying or prophesying. But a woman dishonors her head if she prays or prophesies without a covering on her head, for this is the same as shaving her head... And isn’t long hair a woman’s pride and joy? For it has been given to her as a covering.

this is not a passage of scripture i understood well then, or frankly, understand well now. but i will tell you this: aunt lorraine spent her entire life obeying this command and her obedience turned her braided bun into a crown of glory. i cannot wait to see her dancing before Jesus with her hair unbound. can you imagine that beauty?

this post is about a book, i promise. you see, paul's command to women to cover their heads is just one of many, many commands in the Bible regarding women. some of them are great. some of them seem crazy. and everyone thinks they have the monopoly on how those scriptures should be interpreted. 

for myself, i've always felt like i stuck out a little in the "achieving biblical womanhood" department. head covering? no. super awesome homemaker? hahaha. you jest. i'm not even particularly good about being "submissive" (whatever that means). but i also love being a woman. i believe that God created me as a woman for a reason and i embrace that. femininity is definitely a part of my personality. so i've felt stuck. i never felt like there was a model for me to follow. can anyone else relate? 

and then rachel held evans came along and wrote a year of biblical womanhood. 

like i said before, i'm 7% of the way in, and i've wanted to high five her on every page. she gets it. she gets that becoming a woman of God is more about becoming a child of God than a super awesome lady. she gets that homemaking is about service to the people we love and about finding God in the every day rather than about achieving some standard of perfection. rachel has changed how i view the proverbs 31 woman. most of us growing up in evangelical circles have battled with the expectations set by that particular piece of scripture, and i have come away embracing rather than fearing it. and also, for good measure, rachel's hilarious. i can't wait to keep reading and growing and talking about this book over coffee with my girlfriends. i think you should read it too!

at the end of day, i know God is not finished with me yet, as a woman or as His child. and when i dance in heaven it will be with whatever crown of glory He gives me (although it won't be for homemaking). 

January 7, 2013

so what do you do with a two year old?

my friend annemarie and i were at the park one day chatting about what to do with one-to-two year olds. our boys were at a stage where they needed help on the playground, they weren't getting a ton out of going to the zoo, didn't understand playdough... then on twitter the other day, my friend anna said, "I would like to meet the toddlers who can be "entertained for hours" by pinterest activities. At this point I think they're fake." Right?? This age between baby and preschooler can be kind of awkward. here's what we're up to (beyond the usual toys, books, and balls), at least before i say, "fine, go ahead and play cars for three straight hours."
1. stamping. when i tell cruz that it's time for stamping, he gets a crazy look in his eyes and says, "stamping! stamping! staaaaamping!!" stamp with whatever you have! we stamp with peppers, potatoes, apples, and our melissa & doug animal stamps. 

2. visit the free zoo! our local pet shop is next door to trader joes and is one of our favorite places to visit. cruz runs right to the back and then announces to everyone we see, "hamsters drinking water!" it never gets old, i guess.

3. water and paint brushes. we could do this alllll day. we draw shapes, letters, our names. we fling the water from the brushes to make splatters. easiest activity ever.

4. painters tape road.

5. play in boxes of all kinds. i think the boxes were cruz's favorite parts of christmas. i don't decorate the box beforehand to look like an animal or a car. sometimes cruz will put stickers on a box, but this is pinterest-free, folks! no pre-planning needed.

6. we take art prrrettyyyy seriously around here. i mean... look at that concentration! art supplies are the kind of toy that are "always available" to play with at home. cruz draws in a bound sketch book, which keeps all of the paper together. then i label it with the months he used it, and we have a nice keepsake!

7. i've told you this before, and i'll tell you this again: all my best parenting ideas come from my friend ashley. this bulldozing station is no exception. hours, my friends. HOURS of fun spent here. and then hours of sweeping up all the macaronis before we mercilessly crush them with our feet. cruz calls this "pasta pan." 

January 4, 2013

the big loss of something small

i wasn't sure that i would ever write or publish this post, but to tell the story of our pregnancy and our baby and of God moving in our family's life, i also need to tell the story of the pregnancy that came before this one. 
i hope it will be good news to you.

+ + +

it was our first day of mops and my first day as the coordinator for our mops group. tovi and i had landed from london about 12 hours before our meeting and i was buzzing with jet lag and excitement and the secret knowledge that someone was starting to grow in my tummy. 

i stood in front of seventy precious women, took a deep breath, and started to introduce myself. 
on that first morning i wanted to talk about the things we carry with us. i pulled up my diaper bag, emptied out it out, talking about all the things we have to carry with us as moms. 
crushers, sippies, diapers, balls, books, change of pants, trucks...
it gets heavy!

what's heavier still, of course, are those things we carry that no one can see. 
i talked about the times in the last year when i had needed friends and family to help me carry the load.
inviting other people into my pain or stress meant letting go of my pride, of my desire to appear as though i have it all together. it's certainly not my natural inclination, but every time i ask for help, i am doubly blessed. 
i talked about the time my niece came to visit for the week and my friends rallied around us with playdates, encouragement, and bottles of wine as i managed two toddlers with two fevers. as hard as it was to swallow my pride and admit that i needed help, i made incredible memories with friends that week and am so glad i enlisted them. 

in my notes, i was planning to stop there, but i could feel God pushing me forward, prompting me to share that which was still raw and healing in my heart.

i took that deep breath, blinked back tears, and tried to still the tremble in my voice.

"it was those same friends," i said, "that came around us when we had a miscarriage a few weeks ago."

 + + +

miscarriages happen to one pregnancy in four, or so they will tell you. and when it happens to you, it will be incredibly lonely, even in the midst of such a large sisterhood. 

my memories from those first few days are just isolated images.

tovi rubbing my back while i cried into our pillows.

taking pregnancy test after test, willing each one to turn positive again. 

remembering my mom's advice during hard times to grieve it all out. and then sitting on the kitchen floor sobbing until i couldn't cry any longer.

pushing my chair back from breakfast and telling tovi that i couldn't be up any more and that i was going back to bed for the rest of the day. 

shoving the big brother shirt we had bought for cruz into the back of his drawers. 

imagining over and over that i had let a bright pearl slip silently through my fingers and i would never find it again. 

+ + +

a few days passed and it was sunday and i needed to go to church. i was alone and i loved sitting in the dark, taking strength from the congregation around me. 

i stood in the communion line, took the bread and wine, His body broken for mine, walked back to my seat, and wrapped my arms around my empty belly. i felt damaged, broken. i felt robbed. bitter, i felt like the pregnancy had been a waste of time. 

the music swelled and the congregation sang:
hallelujah. all i have is Christ.
hallelujah. Jesus is my life.

the tears started flowing hot and fast. my shoulders shook with sobs.

is this true for me? here in this moment, when my body hurts, and i am bleeding and mourning the loss of something so hoped for, can i say that all i have is Christ? can i say hallelujah to that? am i brave enough to ask that God make this true in my life? can there be beauty from the ashes of this moment?

+ + +

it is amazing to sit here, feeling the small kicks of this babe in my belly as i type. this baby is a barely-dared-for balm for our souls. it is the reminder that i am not foolish or damaged; that God is writing my story and His plans and timing are perfect. He has pulled me so close during these months, and i have felt His Spirit powerfully next to me. the miscarriage was hard and painful, but it's another chapter in my story, and one that i trust God will use. i am so grateful for those days and weeks of pregnancy with that child, and am thankful for this new sweet life growing inside of me.
 hallelujah! all i have is Christ!

January 3, 2013

what {we} wore on wednesday

good morning, wednesday, friendsday!
here's my cruz, up from a snooze.
(can you deduce that we've been reading a lot of dr. seuss?)
actually, cruz is perusing his new book "goodnight, goodnight, construction site." it's adorable. get it for the construction lover in your life.
and i think you'll start sensing a theme for our lives...
trucks! tools! sports! boy things!

it was my plan to have some jammie pictures for ya, but pregnancy is unpredictable and i spent the evening in bed, blah blah, etc.

what he wore on thursday morning!
goodness gracious, i love a kid in jammies.

and of course i need to keep myself a little bit accountable for the not-wearing-of-yoga-pants-so-often. here's what i've been wearing over the last week or so. i'm starting to wear some maternity clothes, but most of my outfits are pulled from items i already owned. i know some women that are anti-anti-anti maternity clothes, but i say embrace it! after all, what's the worst part about wearing jeans? the buttons and zippers of course! maternity pants take that totally out of the equation. winner.
apparently the key to my maternity style is wearing the same white t-shirt over and over again (thank you, gap!).
mmm. so many awkward smiles. 
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