Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Project Life (June 21-27)

Monday 6/21: This week is "Spirit Week" at day care. Just like I remember from middle school it featured "Hat Day" and "Pajama Day" and other fun, silly stuff. Monday was "Crazy Hair Day," so I determined to give Kate as many ponytails as she would tolerate. She usually starts screaming with the first one, and I'm chasing her across the floor on my knees to do the second one. I managed to get four on her this day, but one came out before we even walked in her classroom. The best kid I saw was a little boy with hardly any hair, but his scalp had been painted blue!

Tuesday 6/22: This week is Vacation Bible School at church. Since our building burned to the ground last summer, we collaborated with another church nearby and held the activities at their facility. The theme was "High Seas Adventure," thus the sailor caps these kids are modeling! Kate joined in on the fun on her Daddy-Daughter-Days (Tuesdays and Thursdays, when she's not in day care).

 Wednesday 6/23: A sweet woman who had been part of our congregation and recently moved away sent Kate this adorable ballerina outfit! Her sister makes the tutus, and she included a leotard, leggings, and slippers! So precious--thank you, Cindie!

 Thursday 6/24: Kate hung out at VBS with Daddy today, and didn't get jealous when he held baby Annelise at the same time!

Friday 6/25: I only asked for one thing from Matt and both sets of parents for my birthday this year: a "fancy" camera--the Canon Rebel XS. Though my birthday is not until July 4, Matt wanted to give it to me early so I could be practicing before our big family vacation next week. I love it--it is so fun to use, and the images are so sharp, it's like putting on glasses after going without!

Saturday 6/26: We went to Becca Hill's 2nd birthday party today! It had an Elmo theme, and we had so much fun playing with the other kiddos (and all of Becca's toys!) and Matt got to reconnect with several BHS band-mates he hadn't seen in about ten years! (and I got to play with my new camera!)

Sunday 6/27: Inspired by Becca's wide array of Little People toys, I decided to break out this little playset (not Little People, but Clickeroos) that I'd had in the top of our closet since before Christmas. It's for ages 18+ months, and Kate will be 17 months tommorrow. She loved it, squealing and running around with the little animals in each hand. It's a jungle safari playset, so I call the two little people "Stanley" and "Livingstone." Here's Dr. Livingstone, driving a tiger (in Africa?) around in the back of his jeep. And yes, that's a see-saw for jungle animals. Interesting.

What's big in your life this week?

Monday, June 28, 2010

That Jessica

After Jessica Turner (scrapbooker extraordinaire at The Mom Creative) challenged her readers--and my friend Maria challenged me personally--to create a scrapbook page not about kids or family stuff but about MYSELF, I felt motivated to give it a try.

I ordered a few prints of my "head shots"--some pics I had Matt snap of me back in Fall 2007--and figured I would do an "about me" sort of page, with a list of fun facts about myself, my interests, my passions, etc. The pics and papers sat around for a few weeks, as I created other pages about baby showers and Kate's latest milestones.

After a particularly empowering day at work today, however, I found myself reciting something my paternal grandmother (Granny, who died in '02--not Nana, who died this month) often said whenever my dad would tell her about my recent accomplishments in school or on the sports field.
"That Jessica, she can do ANYTHING."

It has become somewhat of a mantra for me, patting myself on the back when something goes well, or revving myself up when facing a challenge. She believed in me--and my father, uncle, and cousins--always thinking the best of us and bursting with pride at our accomplishments.

The journaling is about how I hear Granny's affirmation in my head, sassily repeat it to myself, and feel so proud when I think of certain things I've accomplished, goals I've set and achieved.

It's a mantra and a vote of confidence I hope to pass down to Kate. "That Kate, she can do anything!" Granny would be just beside herself, seeing everything Kate does. I love Kate's tenacity, and hope she knows her daddy and I (and all her grandparents) believe in her the way my Granny believed in me.

I have an "easy button" on my desk that I hit when I get good news in an e-mail or tick something major off my to-do list. . . but Granny's affirmation is way better.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Like Mother, Like Daughter

When my parents saw this photo in this week's Project Life post, of Kate watching Matt mow the lawn out the back door...

They just had to send me this photo...

Like mother, like daughter.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Reading List

I've been reading A LOT lately. Maybe that shouldn't be notable, given that I am a book editor and live in a house with so many books that they have overflowed the bookshelves and are stacked on dressers, chairs, and the floor. But for whatever reason, I feel like my rate of pleasure-reading has increased quite a bit lately. I credit that partially to joining Bookswim about a year ago. It's the "Netflix for books" and I know I try to get through things quickly in order to get my money's worth from the membership! Also, since I'm doing better about reading the things I buy, and not just letting them sit on my nightstand forever and ever, I'm more willing to buy new books (but only if Bookswim doesn't have them--I'd still rather rent than buy). I love to end each day by reading in bed for a while before turning out the light.

This week, five new books have arrived in the mail (three bought through Amazon, and two from Bookswim):

America's Queen: The Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
The Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization of Young Girls and What We Can Do About It
Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions
Parenting, Inc.: How the Billion-Dollar Baby Business Has Changed the Way We Raise Our Children
The Lovely Bones

As you see, my tastes include biography, sociology, religion, parenting, and murder-mystery (I wrote a whole post a while back about the guilty pleasure I find in memoirs of tragedy--at least The Lovely Bones is fiction). Other things I've read recently include:

Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster
Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time
I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy
For Laci: A Mother's Story of Love, Loss, and Justice
Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told By Its Stars, Writers and Guests
Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage
Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope
My Sister's Keeper: A Novel
The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism Is Seducing America
Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated into What America Eats

The books I've read lately for work won't be published for a while, but just to give you a sneak preview:
There's a mother's devotional by Kristen Welch of We Are THAT Family (I LOVE it and hope you will too, come March 2011!)
There is Dan Collison's Church in Translation: Vibrant Christianity in Your Time and Place, about making ten essentials of the faith accessible to today's cultural context.
And, there are some studies based on Mike Slaughter's Change the World--one for small groups, and one for leadership teams, plus a devotional book. Awesome.

What have you been reading lately?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Project Life (June 14-20)

After last week's "Chill Edition" of Project Life, I was back in the swing of things this week.

Monday 6/14: I've been extremely busy at work lately, so I've been bringing stuff home to work on in the evenings. I try not to do that too much, but it worked out well since Matt was at Annual Conference Sunday through Tuesday and I was all alone after Kate went to bed anyway. . . well, Charlotte kept me company.

Tuesday 6/15: After work, Kate and I went to the mall and then met Daddy for dinner when he finished up with the conference. (I like how Kate and I both have ruffled shirts on here.) A moment after this pic was taken, Kate swung that knife backwards toward my face, and I jerked out of the way, just as Matt snapped the next pic. It was pretty funny, but I have a crazy look on my face, so I'm withholding that as an outtake :0)

Wednesday 6/16: Matt mowed the lawn while I made dinner, and Kate was glued to the back door, watching him! It was adorable (and kept her away from the oven while I cooked!)
Thursday 6/17: After work, we headed up to Louisville for Nana's funeral. We let Kate have her paci since we were in the car, and now she's kind of backsliding on the whole naptime/bedtime-only thing. Oh well. We all needed some comfort this weekend.

Friday 6/18: My mom and I spent the day going through things at Nana and Grandpa's house, and awaiting the arrival of my cousins and their families. We all went to dinner at Mark's Feed Store--my parents' favorite BBQ joint, and the kids got to sit on the metal pigs outside. As you see, they weren't really digging it.

Saturday 6/19: We buried Nana today. She died last Sunday at 91 1/2, just three months after Grandpa, her husband of 73 years. She was so beautiful. The larger photo at left was taken in her early teens, and the one on the right soon after her marriage. After my grandfather met and married her in California, he took her back to Ohio, where his younger siblings thought she was a movie star!

Sunday 6/20: Father's Day! We drove home Saturday night (such is the clergy-family life!) and woke Daddy up Sunday morning with muffins and coffee in bed. His present was The New Interpreter's Handbook of Preaching. We're so lucky to have the best daddy ever!

It was a sad week, mourning Nana and the good times we had still hoped to have with her. But, we also had great family times, seeing aunts, uncles, and cousins we rarely see. This is her legacy--the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren she so loved, and doted on so well, through letters, calls, and cookies. Nana and Grandpa had a crosstitch plaque in their sitting room that read "Children are the rewards of a loving life." So they are.

More Project Life at The Mom Creative!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Burning the Book

A few weeks after Matt and I got married, I bought a book called Don't You Dare Get Married Until You Read This! The Book of Questions for Couples. Okay, so I was a little late, but I love get-to-know-you type questions, so I thought it would be a great book of conversation starters. I took it along on our next camping trip, thinking it would be great for late-night, mosquito-ridden chats around the campfire.

After hiking down into the valley, lugging our backpacks and a bundle of firewood, we set up the tent and got to work building the fire before dark fell. The store-bought firewood was a must, since it had rained recently and things were pretty damp. Matt arranged the wood and tried to light it. And tried. And tried. And tried. Even with the theoretically-dry bundle, the fire pit and kindling were so damp that nothing would light. Darkness indeed fell, and Matt was growing frustrated.

I was standing by with my new book, waiting for the fire to light so we could enjoy our romantic relationship-growth exercises. I reluctantly offered him the title page and end sheets as dry kindling. That seemed to work... for a moment. Inspired by the flicker of hope those pages offered, I tore out the contents page and preface too. Hmm... Maybe just a little more would do the trick.

I ripped out the pages we'd already talked about in the car... and then a few more. The logs seemed to catch for a moment and then extinguished. More... more... Signature by signature, I ripped out every page in that book.

But still, no fire... and no fireside chats.

Over three years later, here we are. We haven't been camping in ages. (That one may have been our last, actually.) Even without the help of a "book of questions," we have plenty of wonderful, deep conversations. We are partners, lovers, parents... doing marriage and parenthood not quite by the book.

I put on my dressy clothes and go off to the office every morning. Matt sees me off with a kiss and a travel mug. I sit at a desk for eight hours. He runs errands, visits the sick and elderly, and does research for his sermon. I drop Kate off at day care three days a week. He cares for her all day at home the other two. I drag my briefcase through the door after an hour-long commute. Some days, he has dinner almost ready.

I really didn't plan to be a career-woman with my husband a work-at-home-dad. We've just grown into our roles naturally because they are what works for our family. We've burned the book of the 9-to-5 Man and the stay-at-home Woman and are charting our own course.  I'm far from being "The Breadwinner" and he's far from being "A Househusband" (we don't play by that book, either) but we are writing our own book, chapter by chapter.

On Father's Day yesterday, I celebrated my husband for the awesome father that he is. I am blown away by what a wonderful daddy he is to Kate. He is head-over-heels in love with her, and it shows in every silly face made, every sippy cup filled, every diaper changed, every eye-gouge and hair-pull pleasantly tolerated. I also celebrated him for the amazing husband he is to me, loving me even when I'm difficult, and supporting me as I pursue a career I enjoy.

Matt jokes about putting on a fedora and heading off to the office, and I get a huge kick out of "playing housewife" on Saturdays, going grocery shopping and doing laundry. Our roles may not always be traditional, but we have a great life together, and I am so thankful for my sweet, funny, dinner-making, ever-loving, book-burning hubby.

Happy Father's Day, Sweetie!


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