Saturday, July 31, 2010

8 Months, 9 Months, and 5 Years!!

We are a bit behind so I thought I would post both 8 and 9 month pictures. Little One started crawling in her 8th month. She is now very busy and getting into everything! The pictures below show how "messy" our lives can be now that Little One is crawling and overflowing with curiosity!

We went to the doctor and she is 75% in height and 15% in weight ... she is long and lean. She loves to dance to music by shaking her head, clapping, and raising her hands in the air. Little One also is eating table food and some pureed food. She is pulling up and cruising. I love how she thinks very hard before she sits down. It takes a lot of concentration and effort! Little One has been busy visiting with her grandmothers, Friday visits with Pappy, and play dates with friends. We also got to visit several newborn babies but of course, Little One did not give any kisses yet.

The dad and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary by going to The Palm (we had a coupon via MS Society Golf Tournament), grabbed a drink at The Patterson House (this was a surprise in the planned date), and saw Inception. The movie kept my attention the whole entire 2 hours which I feel is very rare at this point in my life. I feel as thought my mind is always split between what I am doing and thinking of the Little One! Maybe that is why I forgot to put canola oil in the brownies I was making for friends and why I left the car lights on so had to have Pa Poag jump my car ... ahhhhh! I used to pride myself on being "on top of things" but now have learned to laugh in these moments. The Lord is teaching me a lot!
My sweet husband and I at a Poag wedding earlier in the summer
He did a great job on our anniversary!
8 months and crawling (she loved playing with her Pampers box)
Hanging out with GiGi ... Little One LOVES music and the drums

Trying to take pics for 9 months but Little One is just too busy to pose!

Little One loves her play cabinet that is full of "safe things"

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Truth about Beauty

    Raising a daughter and three sons in a beauty-obsessed culture has certainly posed some significant challenges, but thankfully nearly thirty years ago I met a woman who embodied the very essence of beauty. Long before The Daughter was but a babe in arms, I found myself struggling to process the conflicting messages that bombarded me in this area.  How could a concept that has been so totally corrupted by man be redeemed? What did walking out redemption of an idea like beauty look like (no pun intended)? Could I truly embrace the truth that beauty emanates from the soul of a woman or a man as they mirror the image of the Living God as opposed to the cultural mandate that the reflection in the mirror is the most important representation of beauty? How could I not succumb to the seduction of a culture that cuts, carves, and transforms both men and women, but predominantly women, into objects that bear little resemblance to real human beings and furthermore, serves to sexualize them in abhorrent ways?  And perhaps most importantly, how in the world would I be able to teach my daughter and my sons what I struggle to understand, embrace, and practice myself.?
   And then I met a woman whom the Lord used to help me understand the concept of beauty in a powerfully transcendent way. She became the representation of the plumb-line to which I returned over and over as I struggled to redefine my ideas about beauty. Her name was Sadie Yoder, and she was the undoubtedly the most beautiful woman I have ever known.

Mom and Dad Yoder
She was also the godliest. She had a peace and a serenity that drew others to her like weary travelers to an oasis in the desert. Yet her outward appearance was in many ways quite ordinary, but her inner beauty, well her inner beauty was so extraordinary that it totally consumed her outer being. Raised in an Amish home, she was a woman who never wore make-up a day in her life and she certainly never invested a dime in any miracle creams that promised to mitigate, alter, or alleviate the passage of time. She was totally comfortable in her size 14 dresses. In fact, she was totally comfortable in her skin. Her skin was just that. Her skin. It was not who she was or what she was. It was the covering over the muscles and tissue and bones. It did not define her or empower her. It was simply just the covering for the tent. Each time I left her presence I came away refreshed and challenged anew to reorient my thinking to the truth of the gospel she so loved and embodied. I found her beauty and her faith compelling. She was absolutely gorgeous to me. When my daughter was little, she told me many times that she wanted to grow up to be like Sadie. I understood. I wanted to grow up to be like Sadie, too. I have been thinking about her a lot this week. Her beloved husband passed into the glories of heaven week before last, and the family gathered at the homestead one last time to lay the body of the man she loved with all of her heart into the ground. He was just as remarkable as she. The beauty she emanated is in no small part due to the steadfast love and faith that they shared. She was his beloved and he was hers. They were beautiful together.

Sadie as a young woman
     I am so thankful that before The Daughter and I had the inevitable teenage arguments about make-up, pierced ears, and the length of her dresses, we decided together that Sadie would be the hallmark and standard by which we would judge beauty. It was a good decision and one that helped to steer our discussions in the right direction. We would talk about Sadie and the fact that although she took care with her appearance, she was not consumed by a need to pursue a notion of beauty that was totally false.
    I am blessed to know many beautiful women, but what I find most beautiful about them is the strength of their spirits, the tenderness of their faith, and the genuine lack of artifice that they possess. It is never the size of the waistline or the lack of wrinkles on their skin. It is the way that they look when they smile or when they laugh with joy. It is the undeniable and beautiful glory of the heavenly Father I see reflected in them.
    Mom Yoder, I am missing you today. I am missing your beauty and how you helped me understand what the world could not. I am so thankful to have known both you and Dad. You made a difference in my life. I am comforted and encouraged by the thought that at long last you are worshipping together at the feet of the Beautiful Savior, Jesus himself.

Friday, July 23, 2010

If You Keep It Around Long Enough....

It was almost like this but in beige and brown tones

     I was lurking around on the internet, checking out a few design oriented blogs ( when I learned definitively that wallpaper is back. I am so glad to know this. It makes me positively shiver with delight. While Summer Thornton makes mention of the dreadful 80's borders (yes, I even put up some of those -- primarily in my children's rooms), she forgets the fact that wallpaper was de rigueur in bathrooms and kitchens pretty much throughout the seventies and eighties. I guess she had not yet been born in the seventies so she didn't know this fact, and her mom probably had a savvy designer who told her these things so Summer didn't have to grow up staring at tacky wallpaper. Twenty-three years ago I did get the country wallpaper out of my kitchen when we moved into our current home. Some of you might remember those teeny tiny Little House on the Prairie inspired calico coordinated wallpapers. I am not sure that country was ever really "in." The previous owner had even bought those curvy wooden light switch plates so that everything coordinated nicely with her predominantly oak wood tones. I pulled the wallpaper down immediately and pitched those switchplate covers  
these went to the trash!
 into the trash. However, thinking back I realize that what I put up in its place was nearly as bad. I sponge painted (this was before we called it faux painting) the walls 
in a nice turquoise with peach, yes you got that, PEACH accents. I actually thought it looked pretty good at the time. The cabinets were white and the entire effect almost had a pseudo beachy feel -- remember that I am originally from Florida. Never mind that I have lived in a land-locked state for thirty-eight years now. But I digress.
   The issue is that I am still looking at bathroom wallpaper in my master bath that I installed twenty-three years ago. I paid what I thought was a fortune for it then, and the wallpaper hanger cursed me because he said that it was THE most difficult paper of his lifetime to hang. But he did a good job. No, he did an awesome job. Despite heat, humidity and a lifetime of wear and tear crammed into twenty-three years, the stuff is still faithfully adhering to the wall. When I soak in my tub I gaze longingly at the wallpaper and dream of transforming my space into something much more "current." I just never dreamed that I might be shopping for wallpaper again. It seems bizarre. I just don't know if I can do it. My Monet Water Lily inspired wallpaper has survived a great deal. I shot my budget then and I don't want to shoot my budget now. I am always thinking about simplifying my life....especially when I read about former students of mine like Karris Hudson down in Haiti. I think Mr. Faux Monet might just have to hang around a bit longer, 
my background is more green than blue and is a different pattern, 
but this is close enough to give you the general idea!

which is okay since Summer tells me herself (see below) that "Wallpaper is back with a vengeance!" Sophisticated and chic. That's so me. Yeah. Right.     

Wallpaper is back with a vengeance! It's probably the most impactful way to make a statement in a room. We all remember those horrific ceiling borders from the '80s, but wallpapers have really evolved in the last few years. You can get modern prints, vintage prints, metallic prints, graphic prints, and in every color imaginable. You can even get hand painted silk wallpapers if you're so inclined.
One of the best things about wallpapers is that they can introduce a bold color but temper it with other mild colors. With wall paint you're usually forced into just one wall color, with wallpaper you can find unique color patterns that add depth and boldness without being overwhelming. For example, if you're wanting to introduce a bold blue through the walls it might look childish in paint, but with wallpaper it can look sophisticated and chic.
courtesy of

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Just Can't Help Myself

   I fully admit it. I have joined the ranks of besotted grandmotherhood. Am loving the vacation pics my nephew shot of Little One with the Daughter and Pappy right before the Fourth of July. Just had to share a few with you. Little One is the sunshine of my life, but she just might have some serious competition when her first cousin arrives in November.
Isn't she simply delicious!

Pappy is nearly as crazy about her as I am!
He visits with her every Friday during his lunch hour. I seem to recall that he NEVER made lunchtime visits to our house when our children were this age....Little One is certainly a PC (privileged character)!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Three Things I Love

   I am starting something new. Nothing like a resolution. Heaven forbid. More like an idea, an opportunity. An outlet for expression. Each Sunday I plan to give you a glimpse into three things that are near and dear to my heart. It might be a food, a movie, a book, a poem, a place, a person, or an event. I haven't decided. I don't want to box myself in just yet. But I am going to give this a shot. Just thinking about this makes me happy. I do love lots of things. 

1. The Eastern Bluebird!  Over the years I have been fortunate enough to have observed firsthand several generations of bluebirds that have taken up residence in my yard. I delight in watching them come and go. I have seen them cock their heads just so in pursuit of some delectable prospects for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They make my heart oh so glad when I see the flashes of brilliant blue in the early morning light as they swoop and soar. I close my eyes and think of the wings of heaven and wonder why it is that angels have always been depicted with white wings, why not that perfect pure cerulean blue? I am not trying to give God any ideas but it sure sounds good to me!

2. Colorful Sunsets...when I was a little girl my grandmother had me convinced for the longest time that she had the insider's truth about the infinite beauty and endless variety of sunsets. She whispered that each evening God sent forth a different angel to paint the sky in an attempt to create the most beautiful sunset. If just one human being on earth stopped long enough to look up as the sun was making its timely descent and uttered the words, "Thank you, God," then the angel who had painted the sunset would be awarded the distinction of having painted a masterpiece (the Master's piece...get it?!). In turn I told the selfsame story to my own children and many a day one of us would turn to the other when we witnessed a glorious sunset and smile as we whispered aloud the sweet words, "Thank you God." So I am thanking God today for all of the beautiful sunsets I have seen, those I have yet to see, and those I somehow missed. Each was indeed a masterpiece.

3. DeFuniak Springs, hometown. I have lived in a metropolitan area in Tennessee for the past thirty-eight years, but I am still a small-town Florida girl at heart. You know that old saying, "You can take the girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl." I don't ever think about my twangy drawl, but even my supposedly Southern friends tell me that I can lay it on thick. I have DeFuniak to thank for that. I really don't want to get started on my life-long love affair with DeFuniak but let's just say this: I love Circle Drive, the walking, living, and breathing history the town exudes, the Chautauqua, the beautiful Victorian homes, the truly friendly people, and the fact that Ed's Tastee Freeze is still serving the same burger and fries that they did when I was in high school. Without fail, I also trek out 331 to eat Mom and Dad's Spaghetti a la Bruzzi, and I have been known to lug a bottle of their homemade house dressing all the way back to Tennessee; I never eat dinner there that I do not greet or see someone I know from my past. But the best thing by far about DFS is that my mom and my sisters and their families all live there. Oh, and the fact that it doesn't take more than eight minutes to drive from one end of the city limits to the other. You just gotta love life in a small town!

Each year DeFuniak puts on a Christmas light display that encompasses the entire lakeyard. 
This shot was taken from one side of the lake in the center of town
 looking across to the back of the historic Chautauqua building (it's the one with the rotunda). 
Incidentally, the church where I married my husband is also in the background. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Beach Trip Round 2

We are a bit late on saying Happy Fourth of July but here is our patriotic family:

Our extended family went to the beach for the first week of July. It rained a good bit, but did not diminish our good times. We still managed to have Little One in the pool every day but 1! She loves the water and continues to put her face in it. My brothers and husband were crazy enough to brave the waves and threat of oil.

Little One has been in shock since we have been home as she does not have all of her Unkies and Aunt A around to make her laugh, dance for her, and feed her. She did start crawling right when we came back home and has started getting into all the cabinets. Life is getting crazier around here!

Dinner with the Family (Louis, Louis)

One thing I love about vacation is the food. You are able to eat out and Honey and Pappy usually pay! The dad made an amazing shrimp/pasta dish too. We ate quite well!

The Boys in the Gulf

We were able to see Great Aunts, Great Uncles, Great-Grandmas, and cousins. We love spending time with our huge family. We are so blessed by their generosity. Thank you!!

Yummy Cookies from sweet A
(Little One did not get to enjoy yet!)

Once we hit the road, Little One was ready for her own bed. She loved the beach and cannot wait until she returns next summer!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Gabriel's Oboe and The Falls by YoYo Ma

I have always found the movie, The Mission, for which this piece of music was written to be thoughtful and provocative. It has challenged me on every occasion on which I have watched it to re-examine my faith and the things to which I cling. I am never quite comfortable with what I discover about myself. Furthermore, I find the musical score from the movie to be in ironic juxtaposition to the movie's subtext on the abuse of power within the church. The haunting melody makes my soul leap with joy at its tender beauty. The music is transcendent, and never fails to bring me to tears. Find the time to close your eyes and listen as it is rendered by a great master of the cello, YoYo Ma. Hope you are enjoying the Sabbath as a day of rest.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Empty Nest

    I always dreaded the day when the last child, the baby, would "leave" home. It was an event that was beyond human comprehension in those long ago days when I was pregnant with my fourth and chasing three others around the mulberry bush. Much much later when I would lie in bed sleepless reliving my conversations with my then recalcitrant teenage children, I found myself longing for the day when life would not be so complicated, when there would be no raised voices, no sibling squabbles to mediate, no screaming about the lack of hot water for a shower as my children got ready for school.  Well, the much anticipated day has finally arrived. As of 5:00 p.m. today, the eighth day of July in the year 2010, the family nest will be....officially empty.
   I am not grieving and I am not rejoicing. I am simply reflecting. I am looking at a clean den door that used to be plastered with the smudged fingerprints of children of all sizes. Just earlier this morning I had a flashback as I recalled the color-coded and highly detailed dry-erase calendar board covered with sticky notes that used to take up half my refrigerator door. I had a love-hate relationship with that calendar. In those pre-cell phone days I lived in constant fear that I would forget something important or even worse, forget and leave one of my children at an appointment, a practice, or a game. Since they all played sports, my husband and I were forced continually to divide and conquer. It was the way we survived. I even chuckled when I realized that moms on the go have become a marketer's dream. Pottery Barn has a complete organization system to hang on the wall instead of the refrigerator, and there is now something called a "Mom Agenda"  to make one's life easier. I guess that's progress.
    My house is quiet this morning. I have been praying and talking to my Heavenly Father about the path that I have traversed these past thirty-two years that offspring have lived in my home. I have often stumbled, fallen prey to insecurity and for a time, was captive to a desperate need to control what I could not understand, namely my children. It took me what seems like an eternity to finally learn the graceful art of surrender.  Not to my children and their endless demands but to the Lord. I credit Him with getting me through each and every day then and now. If I had it to do all over again, I would raise my voice less and listen more. I would try to keep from majoring on the minors and not worry at all about whether the beds were made, the clothes were clean, and the laundry was folded. And forget the iron. Who cares. I would definitely not schedule so many activities -- even those that looked important or beneficial or were educational or spiritual in nature. I would take more walks and read more books...not by myself but with them. I would laugh more and probably cry more. It is the irony of life that we seldom appreciate what we have in the moment because we are usually consumed by what comes next. So today, I think I will walk around my house. I will wander upstairs to my son's room and take a look at the mess that is all over his bed and his floor and his desk. I might pick a few things up, but then again I might not. I will stand there in the hallway and think about the way I sang Tender Shepherd each night when I put them all to bed, sometimes until I was hoarse. I will look over the pictures that fill the hallway, and I will grin at the way that one of the boys' ears stuck out under his baseball hat and remember how cute my daughter looked in her yellow tutu. So many days, so many years, so many memories.
    Despite what you may think I am actually excited and hopeful about this next stage of life for me and for them. But right now I am signing off to savor the cereal bowl in the sink, the crumbs on the counter, and the big shoes in the hallway where the last child at home left them when he took them off last night.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A New Venture

     My oldest son has entered the blogging world, and I am finding the thought of exposure a bit daunting. Thus far however, he has gone easy on me and has been incredibly honest about himself. I have always loved him -- even when he was a stinker of the first order, and I am loving him more than ever because he is taking a huge risk, one that I believe will reap good benefits in his life. I am loving the fact that he is willing to be honest about his struggles, his passions, and his life in general.
   I have had some conversations with friends and family about this overload-of-information age in which we find ourselves and how difficult it can be when someone you know and love uses a public forum or venue to unload their "stuff" (insert another word here if you are prone to using more graphic words) and most especially when that "stuff" exposes someone else. And yet....
     And yet, I am more proud than scared for my boy. I believe with my whole heart that the truth will set you free. Truth in and of itself is not supposed to be subjective. It is supposed to be a constant that does not change. What changes is the beholder of If you stand in one place and view a painting it looks one way, but shift your position even the tiniest fraction and your perspective is altered. You might see objects coming into the foreground that appeared in the background before. Life is like that. It is why siblings raised in the same household sometimes have radically different memories of the same event. It all depends on where you are standing. So I am standing beside my son. My arm is around his waist. I am looking up to all 6'4" of him and am loving him every bit as much as the day that the doctor placed him in my arms. He is not perfect, nor am I. But honesty and truth and love go a long way. You may see my underwear hanging out on the clothesline one day, but depending on where you stand, what is flapping in the breeze might not look so bad after all.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Sea Poetry

  Our family, all nine of us, has been at the beach this week. Today (Friday) was the first day since we arrived that the sun chose to grace us with her presence. The result is that almost all of us are suffering from some form of sunburn or windburn but no one is complaining...especially since it rained two inches yesterday and the day before and the day before that. We could not help ourselves. The sun and the sand and the sea called to us like beacons. Forget red flags and the threat of was to the sea we went.
     Night has fallen and this beautiful day is drawing to a close. Tonight we have feasted like kings -- the son-in-law prepared a marvelous shrimp feast courtesy of The Pioneer Woman. We barely seem to fit around the table anymore, and there is always someone straddling a leg or two. Yet I find such closeness both comfortable and comforting. After we broke bread together, at the end of the meal each person told the others what we were thankful for today. Some of the comments were simple, some were poignant, some were hilarious and some were...well, let's just  leave it at that. But tonight I know that I am thankful for laughter, love, family, and good food. I leave you with one of my favorite sea poems and the promise of another beautiful day.

      Sea Fever

        I MUST down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
        And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
        And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
        And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray dawn breaking.
        I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
        Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
        And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
        And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
        I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
        To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
        And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
        And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.
        John Masefield