What’s saving your life right now?

Each winter, Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy puts together a list of What’s Saving My Life Right Now and encourages others to chime in as we slog our way through the dregs of winter. I joined in last year, and here’s my list for 2017, in no particular order:

  • Confession. I’m still not making it as often as I laid out in my 30 After 30, but as I attend more often, I feel like I gain the grace and energy to carry on.
  • Possum Radio. There’s a student radio station here that has recently been knocked off the air for FCC indecency violations, so instead they just play bluegrass all the time, and it’s great. (I am old.) Seriously, though, the bluegrass reminds me of the beauty of this little pocket of the country, even as I drive through landscapes that feel bleak and barren.
  • Bulbs poking up. This happens at least six weeks sooner here in the Shenandoah Valley than back in Western Massachusetts, and always gives me hope.
  • Vitamin D3 gummies. My midwife said they might help with seasonal affective issues, so I gave them a try. They probably don’t do anything but I get to eat midwife-recommended candy by myself in the bathroom first thing in the morning and that helps by itself.
  • Scout saying “thank you” 1472x a day. It’s the best.
  • Pippin books. It’s like I can’t read to him enough, and as this is one of my very favorite aspects of parenting (vs., saying, washing the hair of protesting children or pretending to drive a firetruck), this is a pretty sustaining development when we are quarantined with our third cold of the month.
  • Man in the High Castle. I am kind of at Lost levels of confusion, but J and I are still so drawn in.
  • Other moms. Ooh, my. If I thought I was the only one limping a bit at the moment, things would be so much harder. And knowing I have that fall back help — a quick meeting at the park when the sun appears, switching childcare when the doctor can no longer be avoided — makes all the difference.
This is when I really need the Mount Holyoke bulb show.

Travel Thoughts

hashtag: drowning (from last Christmas)

Sometime we should pretend we are going on a big trip, load up the car, then immediately go back into the house and get rid of 1/3 of our stuff fueled by hatred and overwhelm.

There’s a melancholy as I walk through the empty house, lights off, rooms hollowed out. I take out the trash, straighten some surfaces, and imagine what it will be like when we return, days or weeks later. Vacation will be over. Anticipation will be over. We will collapse among our bags and parcels and return to this life. It’s a sobering thought.

Relatedly, I could never, ever be the kind of person who rents out my house on AirBnB while I’m on vacation because much as I try, the house is wrecked when we leave. Without fail.


Things that have worked really well for the four-year-old in the car this go round: a magnet board with a bunch of different magnet shapes; a reusable sticker board; downloadable Netflix.

Things that have worked really well for the eighteen-month-old in the car this go round: CocoaPuffs in a claw cup; little toy pieces she can put into and take out of one of those diaper wipe tubs.

Things that have worked really well for the oldsters in the car: Mars Hill audio journal podcasts;  the Voyage of the Dawn Treader audiobook; extensive playlists of Advent and Christmas music from Amazon Music.


Let’s take this app global and give it a better avatar. And name. Changing Times. Cha-Cha-Changes. Help me here. Developers, get on it.

Car travel, man. (From last summer)


2016 Updates and Last Words

Here are things I wanted to add to various posts from the year, but which don’t warrant their own new post. A sampling of PSes for you:

  1. Re these brownies — you can make them with 1/2 tsp of peppermint extract and mint chocolate chips and look, seasonal!
  2. Still running. Still dark, and now cold. Help.
  3. My first semester as a co op art teacher ended well, even though the students are merciless about my inability to draw (also to write on the marker board). I learned a lot from the “real” art teachers I helped in the other classes, and loved connecting church art history projects with books.
  4. More roasted garlic butter for Christmas, but next year, I’m tempted to try slow cooker bacon jam. I’m definitely not settled on a trademark food yet. (As I type this, the mail lady just dropped off J’s grandaddy and grandma’s famous homemade fudge. Man. Is fudge hard to make? That should totally be my thing.)
  5. Starting around Thanksgiving, Pippin finally started going gently into the good night of preschool drop off. It feels like a natural and expected part of our week now, but I’m still not quite ready to say we are doing formal preschool again next year.
  6. This winter, I’m pretty much back to my jeans uniform of auld lang syne, straddling that place where we are starting to wean and I’m about to gain ten pounds. (Eep.) But I’ve got a few beautiful skirts that work their way into rotation, and help on the days everything is too big or too small.
  7. The garden trundles on. This fall I’ve killed three mums, some hanging plant I never IDed but which is apparently susceptible to frost, the mini rose, which J mowed over, and the Solomon’s Seal, which I left out of the ground too long, I think. Still, I’ve started green onions and mint growing in the windowsill, so it’s not just a slaughterhouse around here. My ambition is small, but I have laid down black plastic to kill some grass and start a tiny herb and tomato garden next spring.
  8. I have developed mixed feelings about loveys after Scout lost her Oswald for 48 hours in the local Walmart and refused to accepted Imposter Oswald, who I spent $35 (!!!) to replace on eBay. Proceed with caution, folks.
  9. Naps are still mostly working here, although the other day I found Pippin hiding under the couch instead of in bed. Syncing their naps (or quiet times, eventually) may be the best thing I’ve done for my mama sanity — ever.
  10. We made space in our British costume drama rotation to watch the (mostly despicable) Gilmore Girls reboot, but didn’t you just love The Crown? (Check out Dominika’s thoughts over at her blog.) I’m behind on Poldark and hoping they release it to Amazon Prime soon so I can catch up…
  11. The curls rage on and are still one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. Don’t tell me her hair will straighten out as she grows up. It will ruin our friendship.
  12. Motherhood and the Redemption of the Body is still my most popular post of 2016. Peak early, I guess. (And befriend fellow literary nerds in high school so they can promote your posts a decade or so later.)
  13. I still feel weird about weaning, but I’m starting to move toward closing up shop when we are done with the holidays and travel. I worry a lot about how I’d handle nursing while pregnant, and so I’d like to send Scout out into the world before there is someone else to contend with.


I leave you with the glory of the curlz