Copy Cat Tears

I bought the $198 Storksac diaper bag last April. Major splurge. I've carried it faithfully for a solid 18 months. And now Target has ripped off every last stitch and stocked it on their shelves for $49. I guess I'm the fool. Lesson here? Target will always come through? You just have to wait a couple years?

I don't know. I'm all about the underdog. The independent guy. The mom and pop shop and the struggling designer. So I'm glad my huge chunk of change went to the real deal. But still. The knife gets twisted when you see it at Target for ONE QUARTER WHAT YOU PAID. It stings. 

But, hold up. 

The Target version DOESN'T have a long shoulder strap. Yes, then, okay. That strap on the original Storksac IS worth the extra $149 I paid. It's essential to have that across-the-body band whilst holding a child AND carrying groceries AND bending down to pick up after your dog (glorious condo life without a parking spot or a yard, how I love thee). So, yes. Essential, my friends. Essential, dear bank account.

I keep repeating this to myself into the night lest I kick myself...

...the shoulder strap is invaluable...

...the shoulder strap is invaluable...

...the shoulder strap is invaluable...worth $149...

...but, indeed, that shoulder strap is invaluable

I'd buy the original all over again. Take that, Target.


Sixteen Months

What kind of mother subjects her daughter to agonizing photo shoots every four weeks? This kind of mother. Oh Annie, learn to like monthly pictures. They're your friend.  

Annie: "daddy, please pick me up. please don't make me do this. i'll be the most precious baby ever if you just pick me up."

"alright, fine. if you don't pick me up, then get out of my face. i'm not looking at you."

Don't be bashful about that tummy, Bo-dan. They say the camera adds ten pounds, but relative to your body weight, that's like adding ten ounces. Ain't no thang.

And, you aren't fooling anyone, darling. That smile looks painful. Try again, dear.

Screaming and crying will not get you out of this one, girlfriend.

Yep, that's right. Suck your thumb until you can pull it together. All I need is one shot, love. 

What? It's not tickling you? But my makeup brush ALWAYS makes you laugh! Why does everything laid back about you go out the window when a camera gets pulled out!

Ok, we're getting there. Make it a touch more believable, though.

And that's a wrap.

****To see more of these photo shoots click here, here, or here. And to see a compilation of all the final photographs, click here.


Black on Black

A few years ago a make-your-own-bag store on the Plaza went out of business. They held a buy everything sale for all of their fixtures, etc. By the time I caught wind of it, the good stuff was gone. I did manage to buy a crappy staple gun that never worked and three canvases. Not being too artistic, I painted them all black, liking the contrast it offered against our white walls in New Orleans.

But they were mos def boring. They've sat in a stack in our closet for the last year until recently when John implored me to hang or trash all the pictures piled on the floor. But, again, they were boring. 

Three members of the family. Three canvases. The plan was simple. 

So we slapped some black acrylic paint on our hands and stamped our prints. Annie was napping and was to partake a little later. However, after living through the mess it created on our own hands, I shuddered to think of the enormous havoc it would wreak on the fingers of a little 16 month old. I had visions of black paint all over her face, mouth, clothes...my furniture. Yikes. So poor Annie is, as of yet, not a part of this family art project.

Anyway, there was nothing brilliantly artistic about this whole ordeal. It was just a way to make a black canvas more interesting without doing anything bold and distracting. What can I say. I'm a tone on tone girl.

And it took all of 3 minutes. Sometimes you can see the hands. Sometimes you can't. Just depends on the light and where you are standing. And that's just how I like it. A little meaningful art that's only meaningful for our family. 

But, alas. Perhaps the greatest canvas hanging from that wall is a sweet gift a dear friend brought to me last week from good ole New Orleans. It's a devastatingly pertinent song quote. 

Because I know what it means. To miss New Orleans. The moonlight on the Bayou. The creole tune that fills the air. I dream about magnolias in bloom, and I'm wishing I was there. <Louis Armstrong>


on looking up to GOD

Heavy hearts. That's what we seem to have around here. Ryan, for whatever reason has been spiraling downward in recent days. Weeks. Months. It's hard to say. I get another devastating piece of news and I laugh. That's when you know it's bad. 

I've been learning about the fear of God. FEAR. That word. What does it mean anymore? It's putting God in His due place. Acknowledging His majesty. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Well now, wasn't Solomon smart when he said that. Its truth is holding me up.

Fiery embers spark. Voices sound different outside in the early morning. Campfire voices. But it's just Wednesday. The coffee is hot but our sandals are on, not our hiking boots. Because we're home. On the porch. Early morning. And we're all hopeless. How we spend our days is how we spend our lives. Here we are. Spending our lives hopeless. There aren't answers for Ryan. Any light seems futile. Our ideas, arbitrary. No sorting of the puzzle pieces for the hundredth time comes up with any links. 

I struggle all week. Where does Ryan fit? What do things look like next Christmas? At Easter? At my fortieth birthday?

And so I'm reading this verse tonight. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. (Proverbs 1:7) But what is the fear of the Lord? It's seeing God as He is. High and Holy. Creator. Father. Provider. And when you know what God is, you know what you are not. When you believe that God is provider, you don't worry about being provided for. Because God is so good. He is not safe. He is good. He's the King, I tell you. (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Lewis) 

Seeing the bigger picture. I don't know if that's the right phrase to capture the idea. What I know is that when my gaze is upon the fire before me and we sit and talk in morning voices about all of the dead ends and all of the bitterness and all of the unknowns, I sink into depression. But when my focus shifts and I fix my eyes on Jesus, our author and perfecter, things change. Where? In my situation? I don't know. Maybe. Maybe not. But things change in my heart. When I focus on the promises God gives me, I can't find a way to be desperate. When I remember the justice of God, I can't be afraid of falling through the cracks. When I receive the new mercies of God every morning, I can't be bitter. 

The beginning of knowledge is the fear of the Lord. How can it be otherwise? It's when we recognize who God is - who He really is - that we are wrapped in a peace that surpasses all understanding. 

Burning questions that I have for my life and for Ryan don't burn when I have the fear of the Lord. It all just becomes bigger. It goes beyond me and my problems. It brings me to the foot of the cross. His absolute sovereignty is our greatest security.

Peace that surpasses all understanding. (Philippians 4:6) You know, Paul didn't describe peace as surpassing all understanding for no reason. It's because it's important to note that it's a kind of peace that doesn't always come through logical resolution. It's not the, ah, I see how things will work out and thus have peace about it kind of peace. No, it's the I'm anxious about something and I bring it before the Lord and He gives me peace despite the circumstances kind of peace. Am I bringing that home? 

Yesterday was an ugly day. Police. Ambulance. Hospital. Devastation. Pain. Desperation. 

And then I heard a joke and laughed. Because I had a peace that surpassed all understanding. Still no answers. When I dwell on the specifics, I'm deflated. When I lock eyes with God, He guards my heart and mind. He tells us to make our requests known to Him through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving. That's what He tells me to do. So by golly, prayers and petitions there will be because this is one absurdly dark season in our lives. 

***I wrote this late Monday night and never published it. Some head way has since been made. Less the kind you feel now, more the kind you wait for. Groundwork is getting laid for Ryan to go to a day service five days a week. But that start date is three weeks out. That's the opportunity for 21 more meltdowns. And your guess is as good as mine as to whether the meltdowns will be had by Ryan or by us, his family. And the jury is still out as to whether or not he'll even thrive (survive) in this new environment. Prayers and petitions, people. That's what I'm lifting up.

********Also, don't hate Annie just because she can rock the polka dot top with the polka dot bottoms and you can't. Just saying.


A Night Out

Saturday night we snuck away to the symphony. And I wore rhinestones. I know. You can't handle how ritzy we are. Symphonies. Fireworks. Live music at dinner. It was high class stuff, y'all. Hoity toity is my middle name. Except that it's not. And that in lieu of appreciating the orchestra, I counted every last chair in the Performing Arts Center. Those are some fine chairs, folks. For real, if you are going to count chairs, those are some spectacular ones to gaze upon.  

No, but truly. Don't offer me symphony tickets if you have an extra pair on hand. Because I'm about as trailer park as it gets when you put me in a room with fancy instruments. (But I'm a sucker for ballet, so I'll be your first call there.) My husband, however, was psyched to go. It was Brahm's 4th - a symphony that he listened to every night as a kid when his mom put him to bed. So while Annie got spoiled with her Nana, we got to spend the night on the town. 

Dinner at Cafe Trio. Symphony at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

And yes, you know it. Fireworks. Huh? It's October. But nonetheless, as we left the Center fireworks burst in the sky. Granted, this picture makes them look like they were going off in Nebraska, but in person, they seemed rather large, and rather close. Promise.

Anyway, it was lovely to spend time with John. And even though my ear for music isn't much improved, I thoroughly enjoyed imagining John as a little baby falling asleep to Brahm's 4th. Thank you, Mary.



Sweet Annie hasn't been feeling well these past few days. So there's been lots of cuddling. Lots of napping. Lots of lullaby singing. And lots of stories. Oh, and of course, there's been lots of thumb sucking. 

I think we often believe that the devil's greatest work is done through the suffering in our lives. It makes the most sense that Satan seems to be winning most dramatically when things are falling apart. Maybe I'm off base, but I think his most effective work can actually be in the sweetest moments in our life. Because it's in those sweet, baby-rocking, family gathering times when the weather is perfect, the food is good, and the music's always on, that I forget about Jesus. 

Man, life tastes sweet. My baby is more beautiful this morning than she was when she went to sleep last night. I love my husband more completely than I knew how a year ago. My home feels cozy to me. My sweaters are warm in this sudden cold front. My dog doesn't bark as often these days. The tenderloin I made in the oven actually didn't dry out. It tasted perfect. Ah, and now I'm heading back to bed. The day is done. Wait, I didn't spend time with the Lord today. But, you see, I didn't need to. Because life was that sweet even without my surrendering to Him. Even without my praying to him.

That is Satan's great deceit. 

I'm so weak in the easy months. I'm so selfish when I can be. I almost shy away from asking for things to be too good, because I know that I will forget about God when things go too well. It is because I am so weak and so selfish that I need the hiccups. I need the brokenness to remember that I'm broken. Lest I fool myself. 

I want to get to a place where I seek the Lord even while the lovin' is good at home. 

But lately, I've decided that days go by just fine without my living in the Spirit. I know the bottom will drop. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe in a month. If Satan had his way, it would never drop out. Because then I would keep believing the lie that I don't need Jesus. 

I think what I need is accountability. Someone to shake me out of my self-centered life. Hear me - what I need is Jesus. But what I also need is accountability. 

What I want is for Jesus to be my daily bread. My daily eggs over easy on toast. My daily lunch. My daily dinner. I want to feel the need for Him as much as I feel the need for food. I want my spirit to groan the way my stomach does. 

I need discipline. I've never had enough of it in my life. I've always gotten away with way too much.

I need grace. Thank God that His mercies are new every morning. 

I need God. And if you think you don't because your life looks so lovely, you are being fooled. Thankfully, while we were still sinners - not after we stopped - he died for us. 

So here's to some future discipline in my life. Future as in starting now. Because like Annie Dillard says, "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." I would like to spend mine yoked with Christ. But that doesn't happen a ways down in the lifetime that lay before me. It happens in the todays. 

I've got to stop putting off God until tomorrow. 


The Other Thirds

Last week, I catalogued the whole process of turning below-the-TV-drawers into an entry way chest. And maybe you wondered, what happened to its brothers? They were camping out in Annie's new (not old) bedroom waiting for some love. And a little love they did get. 

To refresh your memory, we started out with this entertainment center in our living room (not pictured in its glory days):

We yanked it off the wall and separated the heck out of it until we were left with four pieces. One found it's new home in our entry. One in the basement storage (poor soul won't get finished til we someday move and have the space. Unless of course, it gets stolen first) and two now sandwich Annie's crib. 

Just for fun, here are the two images floating in my head as I went about all this:

on pinterest

see this nursery here

Obviously, the bookshelves all started out black, but as you recall, I got high and painted everything "Fame Orange." No, fo reals, I don't do drugs. But you would have thought that based on the color I chose. I thought/hoped crossed my fingers that it would look nicer in Annie's gray nursery than it did in the living room. But instead I felt like I was swimming in blueberry and peach yogurt. Again, these kinds of descriptors may lead you to believe that I was on mushrooms at the time, but I assure you that I wasn't. The only thing I'm high on is Jesus. BOOM.

Anyway, here is where we began once the bookshelves relocated to her bedroom:

We did to these ends what we did to the middle third - nail boards to finish the sides.

I slapped some primer and high gloss paint on it (same color as the walls - Restoration Hardware's Slate):

I decided that they are way too short for her room (they were built to live beneath a rather large soffit in our living room so the height ain't too high). I also decided that I didn't like the upper doors (or really the glass IN the doors) anymore. I decided that I'd like more shelves than three and that I wished the piece was deeper, wider AND taller. I decided that none of that was going to ever happen except that I could remove the doors. So I did. And then I threw Annie's books and baskets of diapers up there and let the kid run wild.

I am thoroughly unsatisfied. Changes will be made. Wheels will hopefully start turning in my head soon and I'll get inspired. Until that day though, this is where we stand and it's going to have to be good enough. 

Oh yeah, here's his brother on the other end of the crib. Holla.

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