Candlemas, Kinship and Firstborn Sons

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I’m not entirely sure when I met my sister-in-law(-in-law).* But I think it was at the Evensong nights that sprung up about ten years ago. I had no idea of her future importance in my life, of course. She was just a college friend to both my new husband and his little brother.

And now she is someone I will see, in all likelihood, every Christmas for the rest of my life. She is aunt to all my children, and godmother to one. And last month, she gave me my very first nephew.Read More »

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What’s Saving Me This Winter

In vain I have struggled. It will not do.

After ten winters spent in either New England or the Mid-Atlantic, I’m ready to call it: I am just not a winter person. I don’t like the way my body gets all hunched up against a cold wind, or the way it gets dark so painfully early, or the mess of tracked-in snow, or the canceled plans and sick-day quarantine, or the ice that makes walking scary and driving scarier.

Here are a few things I do love this winter, though — and I’ll point you to Modern Mrs. Darcy for more winter survival inspiration.

  • Upping my sourdough game with the lamé a friend got me for Christmas.

  • Reading good books. Most recently The Library Book, which my father-in-law got me for Christmas.
  • Becoming an aunt for the first time! Only a few more weeks till we get to meet our sweet nephew.
  • Seeing these girls really become sisters, not just sister-and-baby.

  • Hunting for evidence of the bulbs I laboriously planted around the yard at the last possible moment last Thanksgiving. No sign they’ve made it yet, but I’m hoping for crocus and daffodils and tulips in just a few short weeks.
  • Planning a Lenten mini retreat for our local Blessed Is She group with the help of friends. Semi-embarrassing admission: spending time thinking about how to help others grow spiritually is helping me think about the places where I need to grow, too.

What’s brightening your winter days? Or are you naturally a winter person?

Building a Family Reading Culture, 4: Writing in Books

(A part of a very occasional series, and by occasional, I mean I wrote the rest of it many moons ago here, here and here.)

Most of my college education took place in the margins of novels. J once commented that reading my undergrad copies of Jane Austen is like following a complicated math problem as I work through the relationships in any white space (J+B = E + D in virtue? C + C =/= Bennets???). As an adult, this penchant has continued, despite me often having to restrain myself in library books, loaners, and ebooks (which you can of course digitally mark up, but which remain a sort of barrier to entry in browsing).Read More »

Shopping Secondhand as Spiritual Practice

A few weeks before Christmas, two of my party animal friends* and I met for a hot ladies’ night out: to the local Goodwill.

And let me say, we shut that joint down. (Seriously, though, we weren’t the last ones out: there was definitely a night owl Mennonite family in line behind us.)

The only rule was this: we could shop for clothes for ourselves BUT NOT FOR OUR KIDS. (Because everyone knows I love baby clothes.)Read More »

Three vs One

I remember the moment. I was walking down our New England driveway with my friend Trish, who had five children compared to my one toddler. And she said, quite casually, “Sometimes I think having one kid was hardest. You’re just alone all day and you feel like you’re talking to yourself. Once there’s more, they’re never all going through crises at once. Maybe one is going through a really difficult phase, but another is just learning how to read or asking really interesting questions. One doesn’t nap, but one does. And you have someone to talk to all day.”Read More »

Super Special Girl Time™

Once a week, Pippin has a music class in the evening, to which J takes him because I am a musical dunce. At first, this weekly event devastated Scout. Why can’t she have a music class, too? (Well, because she is three, for starters.)

So we tried to give it a spin. Ah yes, we said. Your brother is going to a music class, but you, my tiny friend, you get Super Special Girl Time.™ You and your sister get special time with Mama. (It has not occurred to her yet that 98% of her week is time with Mama.)Read More »