Monday, September 27, 2010


"Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else." Judy Garland

Isn't that a cool thought? I might even add one more bit right along with it... Don't expect somebody else should be a first-rate copy of me.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Two hands full

My two hands are always full these days. Carrying my two "little" boys up and down stairs and over and through gates these days is more of a hunch-scrunch-shuffle. Never mind grocery shopping, which I'm still trying to figure out how to do gracefully. Oh, and then occasionally I do something silly like try to take picture of myself while my hands are full. You can see how well that went in these lovely pictures.

Reading this morning, I came across this little statement of gratitude to God - "You give me more than I can hold." Ha - that's me!

Every time I bumble around with hands full to overflowing with two babies, or a zillion bags of groceries, or textbooks, or laundry baskets, I'm going to try and let the awkwardness be a reminder to say, "hey, thanks God for giving me so much I can't even hold it all!"

Thursday, September 16, 2010


As we settle slowly into our newest version of life, I'm being reminded in bits and pieces how long it takes to be at home. For instance, there is no such thing as FIND A GREAT FRIEND NOW! It will take many chats at school, visits to the playground, dinners with church families, conversations over the bushes with the neighbors before we have any great friends. I came across this little story as I was reading last night, and it really helped put things into perspective for me.

It's from Stones for Schools by Greg Mortenson (sequel to Three Cups of Tea), about a man building schools in rural Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"In Chunda, a conservative rural village in Baltistan, it took eight years for us to convince the local mullah, an immensely cautious and pious man, to permit a single girl to attend school. Today, however, more than three hundred girls study in Chunda--and we take great pride in the fact that they do so with the full support of the very same mullah who once stood in their way. His change of heart affirms the notion that good relationships often demand titanic patience... As any wise village elder will tell you, anything truly important is worth doing very, very slowly."

Eight years?! Three hundred girls, with the mullah on board?! Very, very slowly? (I don't do much of anything that slowly.) Wow.

Good relationships are incredibly important to me. Being in a new place reminds me of that. I want them with new friends here, I want them with my old friends, I want them with my extended family, I want them with my husband and kids. Am I willing to wait? This man Greg was, and the outcome for an entire village and its girls is amazing to me.

This story made me realize that I don't really take the "eight year plan" or the "1000 cups of tea" plan when I think about good relationships. I hope for and expect GREAT BIG MOMENTS, deep and meaningful talks, laughs, tears. I feel disappointed and discouraged, like the relationship isn't going anywhere when those big moments (nearly always) fail to happen. But that's a totally warped perspective.

In reality, every bit of conversation, every sip of shared hot chocolate, every step walked together adds a layer to what can be a good relationship. Love is patient, I'm reminded. Patience is a perspective too, I think, often improved with age.

If good relationships are really important to me, then I guess I might as well demonstrate that by going about them very, very slowly. Love in action will simply be a thousand or million small moments shared with those around me.

Time for tea, kids!

I'm curious what you've learned about patience - have you experienced a relationship or event that you are so glad you worked at and waited for? How long have you been investing in time with someone? Will you inspire me?!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Oh, the adventures we'll have!

(The coolest sundial I've ever seen - times around the world!)

Our family loves big adventures. You know, the 7000 miles road trip variety. Moving to Baltimore promised to be Our Next Big Adventure. Wow, look at all there is to do just downtown in our own city! And Washington DC, just a mere hour away. National parks, the Atlantic Ocean, the big cities, the historic monuments, oh my! I devoured maps and tour books in anticipation.

I literally fear that even if we live out the rest of our days here, I will never finish all the Adventures that I'd love to have within a day of Baltimore.

But oh, how babies seem to scale our plans back to reality. Free time between the twins' naps and eating really amounts to about two, two hour chunks of time a day. This summer in California, we did one whopping hike in five weeks that was outside of our city. It was a good reminder to enjoy the things closest to home.

I should have known that lesson would come in handy here in the land-of-so-much-to-do. Sometimes the big adventurer in me needs to be reminded to first soak in all that there is to do and all the people that there are to love all within 5 minutes of me. So my reading has been scaled down from Frommer's "National Parks" books to Frommer's "Delaware and Maryland" to "60 Hikes within 60 miles of Baltimore". And in that last book, the hike that is now on my to-do list is one mile from house. Living in an area so full of natural beauty, history, culture and new people, it's been a little challenging to scale so far down, but two screaming boys have a way of keeping me in check!

Yes, some day, oh the adventures we'll have on our new coast. So far though, I'm pleasantly surprised nearly every day with the adventures we're finding in our own backyard or a few minutes drive away.

Last but not least, in our very own backyard.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Brain dump!

Here are some things that have flitted through my mind as we settle in to our new home, in no particular order and with no particular eloquence!
We're getting the hang of living in a gated community. Indoor gates that is, which are a necessity when you live in what might be the split-level capitol of the world. Some days it feels like the gates are almost more hazardous to the rest of us than the stairs are to the boys. I really enjoy having some extra indoor space, but as expected, I am completely incapable of keeping up with any sort of neatness. So happy that we don't have to "show" our house any more and so thrilled to be renting and ignoring the housing market.
The boys are getting more fun all the time. I declared the other day that they might actually be more fun (51%) than work (49%) for the first time. John begged to differ, and said that instead of 99% work they might now only be 90% work. To all the naysayers that said just wait until they crawl (or walk), I LOVE that they can get where they want, and eat almost all table food, and are starting to sleep through the night together.
It was odd to send John off to work after a long summer together. Just when I was feeling comfortable fending through each day with 4 kids and learning my way around the grocery stores, it was my turn to start work. And then a few more days, and Abby was off to school. Unfortunately there is more to life than mastering grocery shopping! Every week seems to remind me that there is yet another challenge to face. But at least we didn't all start back to work/school at once...
On making new friends... I was remembering the other day that most of my Champaign friendships were formed and deepened out of desperation -I need a substitute sitter for work tonight, I just had a baby, I have to run a twin to the hospital. The thought of encountering emergencies like that when we know no one is daunting. But then I remember, well, that's when I may make my best friends! (Side note: If only for me, be nice to those desperate people you meet!) Less painful friend-finding option for the busy parents - take the twins out. Everyone talks to you.
Hills. I love them, love running up and down them. John, not so much. I guess that's my hilly CA upbringing and his flatland IL upbringing coming out. I hate them for taking the kids on walks though. It's a series of mini-heart attacks as they go coasting down on their scooters. Bikes I won't even allow. So for now, we have to commute for bike rides.
Well, that's it for today... Hello to all our "old" friends and family out there!