Thursday, June 28, 2012

Out and About... with questionable fashion choices

I've fallen behind on blogging our mundane-yet-apparently-photoworthy adventures out and about (I say that they're photoworthy only because I have photos of them so I suppose that's sufficient evidence of worthiness) so now you get a giant recap blog post of our outings and fascinating wardrobe choices.

Adventure 1 - DelMcCoury concert with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.  In a word, fabulous.  Amazing musicians, rollicking music, great friends, simply a wonderful night out.  I am wearing a giant hooded jacket because:
  1. It was really cold after the sun went down (see the lady sitting in front of me is wearing one, too!) 
  2. I had just gotten my new puffy in the mail from Backcountry (oh how I love you, Backcountry!) and was compelled to try it out.  I know that buying ski gear in the summer would generally be considered silly but considering my new gear addiction and unseasonably cold weather, it actually turned out to be an appropriate purchase!
Del in all his puffy-haired glory.  I couldn't get over how much his hair reminded me of my grandfather's :)

Adventure 2 - Strawberry Days Rodeo with the Knapps.  The girls were huge fans and afterwards repeatedly inquired as to whether or not we could go to the rodeo every day (emphasis theirs).  Their favorite event was undoubtedly Wild Cow Milking... watching grown men get pulled around by cows truly never gets old.

WanYing liked the strawberry part of the Strawberry Days Rodeo almost as much as the rodeo itself.

Adventure 3 - bowling. I signed the girls up for "Kids Bowl Free" and we've gone several times. The outfits never cease to amuse. And, yes, the girls always win. I think the bumpers help.
More bowling.  More outfit awesomeness

Adventure 4 - besides bowling, our other weekly habit is going to get shave ice at our favorite stand.  The smiles are a normal part of the ensemble, the Dora slippers aren't.

So now you're all caught up on our outings and high fashion.  Don't you feel better?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How Are You?

Ah, the question I love and hate most, "So, how are you doing?"

If you ask me on most days, you'll get the simple and honest answer that I'm doing pretty well.  I miss the boys, but I'm glad that they have this extended time in Maryland with Steve to hang out and connect.  I'm enjoying the relative simplicity of only caring for two kids (you know that your standards for "simple" have changed when you apply the word to parenting a 3 and 5-year-old).  I miss Steve, quaver at the vast unknown before us, and marvel at the incredible slowness of the legal system, but I'm surviving and putting one foot in front of the other.

I'm really enjoying biking and just hit 750 miles since late April, so that's fun!  Biking has provided me with a great outlet for stress, good exercise, and an hour of quiet, contemplative (albeit sweaty) time each day.  It truly is an answer to prayer.  And I love it that I'm enjoying Steve's birthday gift to me so much and get a daily opportunity to be grateful for him and his love for me.

It's been interesting to reflect on the evolution of my feelings and experience of this unexpected season in my life, marriage, and family.

At first, of course, I was shocked and occasionally overwhelmed with grief but mostly just pushed it all aside because there were so many immediate details to tend to that there was little time for anything else.

But that only lasted a few weeks and then the initial panic and anxiety dulled to a general overwhelmedness at the magnitude of all of the things I had to handle on my own - childcare coordination, figuring out how to pay bills, turning on the swamp cooler for the summer, handling every meal and bedtime every day for every kid - in addition to the normal stresses of work and my ordinary home responsibilities.  And I had nobody to fall back on, nobody to hand things over to or share the load with when it was all too much.

But now those feelings have also given way as the kids and I got into a groove and figured out the patterns of our new normal.  I still get overwhelmed, but it's not my normal state of existance.

Now I realize that my experience has moved from overwhelmed to a dull ache - a longing.  I long for somebody to tell me, daily, that I'm worthy of affection, that I'm beautiful, that I'm strong.  I long to be worthy of pursuit.  I long for my extension of Christ physically beside me every day, every night, confirming the truth of who I am and who I'm becoming.  Our marriage has never been perfect and at times it's been a real struggle, but the truth is that since I was 16 I've had one godly man beside me, growing alongside me, and being Christ to me in word and action.  And God do I miss that.  I used to think that I was somebody who didn't need much external validation... but I think that was because I got so much support at home.  Now when somebody tells me that I'm worthy of affection I break a little inside.  It's good breaking, but it hurts.

So I'm learning to trust Jesus for the truth about who I am and who I'm becoming.  I know that the messages that I've gotten from Jesus + Steve are really Jesus' truths spoken through Steve.  And now I have to figure out how to let Jesus be enough.  I'm pretty sure he can handle it.  It's me I'm worried about.
God's works are so great, worth
A lifetime of study—endless enjoyment!
Splendor and beauty mark his craft;
His generosity never gives out.
His miracles are his memorial—
This God of Grace, this God of Love.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mandy the Tormented

Poor Mandy; I think that he's the recipient of as much "love" as a kitten could possibly survive.  That's kind of how Sasha rolls - she's an all or nothing sort of kid and with Mandy she's decided that she's all in.  Fortunately, Sasha is old enough to hold Mandy securely and (most of the time) leave him alone when he's eating and using the kitty litter.  But other than those times, during waking hours you're most likely to find Sasha either holding or pursuing our very well-loved kitten.
Even meal times are an event for Sasha and Mandy
Sasha and Mandy on one of their many adventures
While taking this picture I was informed that Mandy was tired and needed a nap, so Sasha lugged him up into her bunk bed and was singing lullabies to him
Many all ready for a bike ride
Yeah, he hated it.  We went around the block once and then dropped Mandy off at home before doing our 15 miles to Bridal Veil Falls and back
But lest you think we terrible people, here's Mandy in a moment of peaceful solitude (after the girls were in bed!)

Monday, June 18, 2012

How does the garden grow?

We have a veggie garden again this year, and although it definitely doesn't get the time or attention it really needs, I think all of the girls (myself included) have been enjoying eating food from our very own little patch of land. 

There's something awfully fulfilling about asking Sash and WanYing to go out and cut some peas for the stir fry while I prep the rest of the ingredients... and clearly they enjoy it, too!

Just wait until tomato season (if, that is, I can remember to water the plants), that'll really be girl heaven!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mandarin Orange Morningstar

Welcome the newest Morningstar to the family - Mandarin Orange the kitten!

Now, before you get all high and mighty telling me that this is not the time to add a kitten to the family, allow me to point out that in these 6 months of craziness the only poor choices I've succumbed to are a ridiculous penchant for bike gear and a little ball of fluffy cuteness.  Not bad!

Mandy was rescued by a coworker and his wife - the wife works at an animal shelter and after Mandy's foster mom died they brought Mandy to their house and bottle fed him back to health.  He's now 11 weeks old and as cute and cuddly as can be and remarkably patient with the special brand of suffocating attention lavished by his 3 and 5-year-old mommies.

Both girls are beyond thrilled to have a kitty and everybody's doing a great job being gentle and giving Mandy (some) space.  Even Chorney is adjusting to the new addition and the two are tolerating each other well.

If you're wondering about the name, here's the story:
When we got Chorney, Sasha had only been home for a couple of months and we thought it would be fun to honor her heritage with Chorney's name, so we chose Chornaya, which is Russian for "Blackie".

When we were thinking about a name for Mandy, I thought maybe we'd do the same so I Googled, "Mandarin for orange" and, of course, Google returned lots of citrus hits.  Realizing my mistake, I laughed and thought, "Well, maybe Mandarin Orange wouldn't be a bad name!" and after consulting with the girls (who had lots of opinions) and the boys (who had none), Mandy stuck.

And just in case you think that Mandy isn't a good boy kitty name, I will immediately direct you over to Mandy Patinkin of Princess Bride fame.  If one of the world's greatest fictional swordsmen can be named Mandy, it's more than masculine enough for our cat.

Mandy's first day as a Morningstar was a resounding success and he's now sleeping soundly on my lap as I type.  After dinner the girls decided he was tired and tucked him in for a nap.  They were so proud of themselves that I didn't have the heart to tell them that the towel was for him to sleep on, not under, and he didn't seem to mind the blanket at all.  Thank goodness for patient and forgiving pets!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Maryland Memories

We had a wonderful week in Maryland enjoying being together and the myriad day trips available from good ol' Carroll County.  It sure does feel good to live like a family, and we all look forward to the time when we'll be able to reunite permanently - but for now we'll gratefully take what we can get!
Trip 1 - Cunningham Falls.  This is what I get when I point the camera at Sasha.  And you ask me why I'm exhausted.
But when you can coax a smile out of her, it sure is cute!!!
WanYing enjoys a bit of a hiking cheat (who can blame her?)
Trip 2 - The Maryland Zoo
Yeah, yeah, the animals were great... but can we go on the carrousel again?
WanYing's biggest cheese smile revealed
Trip 3 - The National Aquarium.  It was great hanging out with Aunt Sarah!
Trip 4 - Bowling.  Sasha got all dolled up for this one! It's so hard to decide which part of this outfit is my favorite, but I think I have to go with the black cat Halloween socks.
The best part about bowling in Maryland is that they have duck pins - bowling balls that even WanYing can lift!
My kids have really interesting bowling techniques...
Such grace... with this bowling style, maybe he should try speed skating?
Watching and waiting...
Sasha keeps score - paper scoring, how retro!
Picking peas with Poppop
Oh, and Ben succeeded in finding not 1 but 2 four-leaf clover! Maryland is luck for this kid!
Date night!
Hanging with the Powells
Fun with the fam (the folks you may not recognize are my Aunt and Uncle, Mom's brother)
Last outing - the circus!  WanYing decided that face painting looked fun and she made a very beautiful butterfly indeed
Sash opted to concentrate on cotton candy
Little circuses are so fun!
And a good time was had by all

Monday, June 11, 2012

New Neighbors!

Guess who's finally moving into the neighborhood?

Yep, after years of looking and considering and weighing options the Reinharts (my parents) are moving to Utah! 

Ok, they're only moving to Utah part time and will maintain their primary residance in Maryland, but we'll take what we can get.

Mom and Dad are under contract for a house about 2 blocks from ours (an easy stroll or bike ride when the kids decide they've had it with whatever flavor of patently unfair treatment they're receiving at home on a given day).  What's more, their house has exactly the same floorplan as ours, which I thoroughly approve of since I love our home's layout.  If all goes according to schedule, they'll be Utah homeowners by the end of June. 

Welcome to the neighborhood, Mom and Dad!


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