Simon doesn’t say a whole lot about school unless he is asked specific questions (a kid after his dad’s own heart). When I heard the kindergartners are studying parts of speech (seriously? it seems like that was more like seventh grade grammar waaaaay back in my day), I couldn’t resist asking him a few questions.
Me: Simon, do you know what a pronoun is?
Simon: It takes the place of a noun.
Me: Can you give me an example?
Simon: She. So you could say, “She is . . . ” [he was having trouble coming up with an example, so my mom interjected]
Nana: “She is my best friend.”
Simon: So you take away “she” and say, “She was my best friend.” No, wait, let me give another example. “Simon likes to draw.” Take away “Simon” and say, “He likes to draw.”
Ian: Or! You could say, “Ian likes to count.” Take away “Ian” and say, “The house likes to count.” Hahaha, a talking house!
Simon: That would be a fiction.
Today, I happened across a new-to-me blog, Sometimes Sweet, and was inspired by this series, a writing prompt each week. I tend to get all gung ho at the beginning of a project, and then, well … we’ll see how this goes. Looking back in the archives, a couple of the prompts made me catch my breath to think of sharing on my blog the first story that came to mind, but as for today, I like the idea of some inspiration and, for goodness sake, something to get me writing again.
Everyone has a time in their life they view as a crossroad. Sometimes you can see it as it’s happening, and you’re able to choose one way or another. Other times you may not realize you’re there until you look back, and see what a turning point it really was. This week, write about a time you view as a marker in your life; a distinct place where things changed, for better or worse.
Sometime in the late fall or early winter of our second year living at the Grand (just over ten years ago by now), Charity and I hit upon an idea that we had high hopes for. The impetus for this brilliant scheme was that we were weary of being single, and to put it simply, we wanted to meet our husbands. Now. Yesterday. We had had it with all the bright ideas and usual ways that we had heard might spark love — and in particular, we were cynical enough by then that you wouldn’t have caught us dead at a church (or any other) singles’ group activity. We weren’t meeting anyone in class, at work, at church, on a plane, or in the grocery store. We didn’t want to join an online dating site — just didn’t. And, probably more than anything, we were tired of talking about it. Still, in an uncharacteristic moment of practicality, I realized, and pointed out, that no one was knocking on our door with the intention of asking us out — and we would have noticed because we spent a lot of time at home in those days (it was a good place to be).
So we decided to play pool at Yia Yia’s. To meet boys.
The plan was pretty straightforward: we would go to Yia Yia’s every Thursday night. We would invite people to join us, or we would try to strike up a conversation or game with whomever was already there. Either scenario had a chance of working out. At the time, we didn’t think that our husbands were among any of the guys we already knew. But we thought, you never know, maybe one of the guys we already knew knew a guy that we didn’t already know. Networking was also uncharacteristic of me (though maybe more natural for Charity).
I don’t remember much about how it went week to week, now that it comes to it. I remember a couple of times one or the other of us inviting friends and/or acquaintances — I can’t even remember whom, though — only to have it feel disappointing and then a little awkward when they didn’t bring anyone new to us. Perhaps we were too subtle in our intentions? In fact, the only boys we ever actually met were two friendly eastern European kids there to play pool too — I can’t remember their names or even the country they were from, only that they were too young for us. (Just as a side note, though, the Europeans — we called them by their country name at the time, the Bosnians maybe? — were delightful; they were charming in their own way, and we very much looked forward to running into them, even if they were decidedly not “the ones” we were looking for.)
And it would be weird not to mention that Jason came sometimes too (pretty regularly, I think). I was thrilled because I already had a big crush on him. It kind of feels like that’s a different story, though, because even though he turned out to be The Boy, those nights at Yia Yia’s don’t really feel like part of our story except in a roundabout (if fairly important) kind of way.
What I do remember is laughing and having meaningful conversations and playing a bit of pool; trying but not trying too hard; being out there, having a good time, not overthinking it. I remember being hopeful, being open and, for once, not feeling self-conscious about it.
No, we didn’t meet our husbands playing pool at Yia Yia’s that winter, but it sure was a good idea, nonetheless.
What is your favorite color? Red
Who is your best friend? Owen and River and Josh and Isaac
What do you want to be when you grow up? Website designer
What is your favorite animal? Cheetah
What is your favorite book? Dangerous Cats
What do you like to do with your family? Snuggle
What do you like to do with your friends? Play
What do you like to do outside? Ride my bike
Where do you like to go? To the park
What is your favorite food? Quiche and cantelope
What do you like to drink? Lemonade
What is your favorite TV show? Special Agent Oso
What song to you like to sing the most? “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear”
What is your favorite toy? my new Lego jet
Looking back through these photos, it seems impossible that all this has happened in just one month: We rang in the new year; we enjoyed visits to and from friends and family; we had a flood in our basement (a frozen pipe burst); we welcomed our precious niece/cousin, London Lucille Adams, and visited her a few times in the hospital and at her home; we had one too-cold-for-school day and four sick days (two for Simon, one for Clara, and one for Ian + Simon); and we celebrated Simon’s sixth birthday.
I got a text this evening from a friend saying, “This morning was so good. It blessed my tender, tears-at-the-ready soul.” She was referring to Champagne Breakfast, and though the words are hers, I am shamelessly stealing them because they speak my heart as well. Brunch on New Year’s Day with a handful of friends purposefully reflecting for a moment on the past year and putting words to hopes for the new one is a such a wonderfully lovely way to begin. Yes, there were ready tears for sure, but I’m sure we laughed as much as we cried.
We tried to answer three questions (What can you celebrate from this past year? What can you let go of? What do you hope for in 2014?). I don’t know if it was particular to this year or maybe just true of life in this broken world, but I was struck by how each story of celebration (the question we started with) had with it an element of tears as well. Our stories of celebration are so because of the words that came up so often as well: restoration, redemption, reconciliation, grace. Without those words, those truths in our lives, our stories would simply be ones of sadness and failure and shame.
Snippets of the morning — words of truth and wisdom and parts of these ladies’ stories that I didn’t know before — have played in my head all day, and I am challenged and filled with gratitude and hope. Welcome, 2014!
A sampling of our collective celebrations, lettings go, and hopes:
- To being reconciled to a life of rich blessings
- To owning our stories
- To restoration and to redeeming our stories
- To mysteries unveiled
- To coming full circle
- To remission and God’s grace
- To quietness and contentment
- To gracefully giving up hopes/dreams/goals that don’t fit right now (or anymore)
- To walking with the Lord daily and being content with where he has me
- To rejoicing
- To opening our hearts
- To leaning into what God has for us
- To better health and more restoration
- To letting go of distance
- To the 3 Cs: connectedness, clarity, and confidence
- To reaching out in spite of “not normal”
- To hope and peace and joy
- To letting go of fear and trusting God to carry us
- To letting go of self-consciousness
- To transformation and the renewing of our minds
- To ever-increasing attentiveness to His presence
It occurs to me just now as I write this that today marks ten years since the first Champagne Breakfast, and the first time in a new place. Both of those things seem worth noting. And the snow? Yeah, the New Year’s snow was pretty much just magical.
This year I’m going to try something different and post my dailies just once a month (instead of random intervals of 5, 10, 21 days). Most of these you’ve seen as a part of the DPP, but there are a few new ones at the end. December was such a fun month this year with snow and Christmas and birthdays and lots and lots of celebration.
I think this may be my favorite project ever, partly because it turned out almost exactly as I pictured it, but mostly because it was a true collaboration with the whole family. Ian in particular likes to watch the spinning stars and ask, “Who made this one?” I can sometimes tell, and sometimes not.
The idea was inspired by the golden branch in this Living with Kids house tour. I started with some poster board that we already had and traced a star-shaped cookie cutter. Simon and Ian decorated the stars with silver and gold glitter and metallic Sharpies faster than I could cut them out. I sewed a few strands and hung them up, and I knew we were on the right track, but to achieve the look I wanted, we needed more! more! more! (This is the Anthropologie Theory, coined by the woman whose stars inspired this in the first place: “You know how Anthro can take even the simplest item [like a piece of plastic] that seems super cheap and not that great on its own, but then use it 500 times in a display and suddenly it’s stunning and you just love it?” So true.)
Jason and Clara joined our second round of decorating stars, and I kind of wandered back and forth from my sewing machine for the better part of the day — not that it took that long all told, it’s just I learned a long time ago to take a break from a project (especially sewing) when it stops being fun.
I’ve never been one to decorate for every holiday, but this was so much fun to do with the family that I’m already thinking about what we can do for President’s Day (just kidding, Jason, I’ll wait until at least Valentine’s Day before I make you craft again).
I couldn’t resist asking Clara the birthday questions too. Her responses were actually pretty accurate, I think. This girl. I am so thankful to be her mommy — this opinionated, sweet, sassy, strong, funny, smart, playful, affectionate, adorable little girl.
What is your favorite color? [Unintelligible, sounded like "blue," but she also likes "peen"]
Who is your best friend? Si! Ee! [Simon, Ian]
What do you want to be when you grow up? Go? Me?
What is your favorite animal? Beah [Bear]
What is your favorite book? [Unintelligible] [Hug or I Am a Bunny]
What do you like to do with your family? Pay! [play, prompted by her brothers to say this]
What do you like to do outside? Side? Me? Side?
Where do you like to go? Me? Go?
What is your favorite food: Shoop [soup]
What do you like to drink? Mah! [milk]
What song to you like to sing the most? “Happy You” ["Happy Birthday"]
What is your favorite toy? Beah [Mr. Bear]
I have no words for how great this kid is. Here’s a little interview we do each year on the kids’ birthdays. I realize how inadequate it is in describing what they are really like, but it’s useful as far as it goes in helping remember some of their favorite things. And for all the rest, I say a prayer of thanks for how blessed I am to know this precious, sweet, thoughtful, smart, kind, funny, quirky soul.
What is your favorite color? Brown
Who is your best friend? Mommy, Rowan, Danny, Isaac
What do you want to be when you grow up? A cowboy
What is your favorite animal? Camel
What is your favorite book? Big Book of Big Bugs
What do you like to do with your family? Go camping
What do you like to do with your friends? Play
What do you like to do outside? Play tag
Where do you like to go? The library
What is your favorite food? Cake
What do you like to drink? Milk
What is your favorite TV show? Team Umizoomi
What song to you like to sing the most? “Twinkle, Twinkle”
What is your favorite toy? Monster truck racing car (Legos)