Something is happening in my life now that is equally as peaceful as it is disturbing. If you haven’t been reading long, you might not know that I am a mother of two girls. And one of my jobs as the mother of said children, ages 7 and 11, is to chauffer them around town, to school, to church, for food, to dance, etc.
Now in the 11 years that I’ve had this job, there has been little peace. Oh, sometimes they fall asleep or they get really intent in a movie, but for the most part there’s always, always been some drama in the back seat. Being in this small, unescapable place that is my car has not always brought out the best in my girls. Fights over who looks out what window, who is making mouth noises, who chooses the music, who really knows the words to the music, drama over nosebleeds, sickness, and who can see the moon.
It’s not always bad drama, sometimes there’s good drama, like sharing the day’s joy, funny jokes they can’t wait to tell their dad, new people they met, and crazy things that happened that week at school. The bottom line is there’s always background noise.
But lately, after I drop off the 7 year old at school and begin my trek to the middle school, the strangest thing happens. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about silence. She looks out whatever window she wants, with no drama, or studies her school notes, or brings her own music and headphones, or sketches in her journal, and there is zero noise. She isn’t mad, I’m sure of it.
I’ve spent 11 years knowing every thought that came to her mind, and now she’s developed a filter. Peaceful, and disturbing.
My love language is food, and it is easy to see why when you spend time with my family. There is rarely a gathering that doesn’t center around delicious food, especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas.
One of our family’s favorite holiday traditions is Cookie Day. We gather at my aunt’s house and make a ton of cookies that we pass on to neighbors, coworkers, teachers and friends. It is always a fun day filled with laughter, sugar, and reliving fun memories.
What are your favorite holiday traditions?
These colder days bring a renewed energy to get creative in the kitchen for me, but this energy is tempered by my kids -especially because they aren’t always open to new flavors.
Not sure if this resonates, but I need familiar ingredients that are filling- comfort food at its most basic! (eggs, potato, cheese, pork, pie dough), and it needs to be simple enough that it can be made on a weeknight. The kids love to help and I want to encourage it.
I am going to search through these cookbooks that are new at my library for inspiration to try to get some ideas for next month. Tonight, we scrapped the idea on my calendar in favor of breakfast for dinner, which is so comforting on this chilly and damp day!
This month I am trying out something different.
I decided to give each day of the week a theme according to the time and effort I have for cooking dinner.
Then I filled in a month’s worth of dinners so the Saturday grocery list is easy to compile, and a good starting point if I wanted to buy some food items in bulk.
- Sunday: Roast Something
- Monday: Beans-Soup Night
- Tuesday: Salad Night
- Wednesday: Out
- Thursday: Quick Grill
- Friday: Leftovers-Pizza
- Saturday: Pasta
I am sure we will adjust slightly as the month bears on us, but it made my heart happy to have a plan.
How do you meal plan?
September was a light reading month for me. Sometimes my attention drifts and centers around crafting or cooking, rather than reading in all my spare moments, but this month it was more centered around rest. So a little laziness and giving ourselves a little mental break is necessary sometimes too!
Here’s what I did read:
- Code Name Verity Elizabeth Wein, centers around two young women fighting for the Allied cause in WWII. When Verity is captured by the Gestapo, the novel details her imprisonment and rescue as details of the friendship are revealed. It’s one you won’t want to put down, and I would recommend for both teen and adult readers.
- Storm Donna Jo Napoli, gave a different perspective on the Noah’s Ark story that Christians everywhere are so familiar with. I stumbled on it while checking out some Noah’s Ark books for the girls (I like to check out companion books to what the kids are studying in Sunday School and regular school). Originally I thought Sarah might like it, but in my opinion it’s better suited for an older teen reader. A stowaway on the ark who battles the storm, with the loss and seclusion that comes with her situation, looks in on Noah and his family and their purpose.
- All the Bright Places Jennifer Nevin, was a tough read about a teen battling bi-polar disease. I struggled because I recognized early on the problem, and while I know some cases of bi-polar are not so obvious, I just could not believe that any of the adult characters could not have intervened. I hope and pray that my eyes are open for my kids and their friends.
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them JK Rowling, I listened to the audio version, which was really interesting, but I would think the illustrated version would also be truly awesome.
- Rump Liesl Shurtliff, was a school commute audiobook, and it was good but didn’t capture our hearts enough to finish before it was returned. I asked Sarah if she wanted me to check it out again so we could finish and she wasn’t interested.
2 other wonderful read-y things to note:
My sister’s Christmas gift to me arrived and I am blown away. It’s the quarterly book box from The Strand. So many goodies including Sing, Unburied, Sing which I am starting tonight! If you have someone on your Christmas list that loves books, this would be an excellent choice.
Emily St. John Mandel is doing a meet and greet in November due to our Library’s hosting a group read of her novel (and a favorite of mine!) Station Eleven. I am so excited to attend and report back. (And hopefully get my sister’s copy of Station Eleven signed- she loves her as much as I do.
On the drop-off commute with the 11 year old:
Wolf Hollow, Lauren Wolk
Quick car trips with both girls:
Circle Round podcast
Wow in the World podcast (old favorite episodes only, they are taking a break to create new content)
Long walks & “me” time:
The Child, Fiona Barton
(books on loan from my local library, listening through the free Overdrive app)
Do you have any suggestions for me?
This past spring, our family attended a church retreat and the retreat theme was “allowing God to break in.” We came home motivated and strengthened, and Sabbath was one of the biggest things I felt my family was really missing.
Saturday was the fun day, packed full of friend time, ballgames, and travel. Sunday was the “catch up” day. Grocery, laundry, hustle/bustle of leftover things. Leaving church early to tackle the to do list.
So I made myself another list. What does Sabbath mean to me; what is my goal? What are the barriers to my goal and steps I can take to meet my goal?
My answers were spiritual rest, time to meditate on God’s word, and more time to ponder gratitude. The barriers were easy to pinpoint. Obviously leaving church early isn’t helping me to learn more of the Bible. And weekly grocery planning and prep, and house cleaning is necessary so it took the priority when I procrastinated until Sunday. But what could I do differently?
Tidy during the week, a little laundry every day and doing the grocery planning on Saturday was an obvious fix. I could not only attend worship more regularly, I could take sermon notes and truly stay engaged. As a family we talk about the sermon and worship songs, especially since our kids are young but too old for the children’s worship class.
We also decided to be intentional about how we spend our time on Sunday with less electronics. And when we are thankful or the spirit moves us to pray for others, we act on it and send a thank you note or text.
Does it happen every week? No. Does it have to be Sunday? No. Sometimes it’s an hour on Tuesday night, or a Saturday afternoon. Transition times are especially hard (like the start of the school year).
But ultimately, the effort is worth it for my family. Is Sabbath a spiritual practice you enjoy? How do you make it a priority?