Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Dear Charlotte:

Today you turned three.  It is cliche, but I can't believe you're only three -- I feel like you've been part of us for so much longer than three years.  You came into our lives in the wake of a tremendously sad time for me, and I suppose God knew what he was doing because you came into the world full of joy and light.  I needed all that you had to give so much.

That thread that runs through you life hasn't changed; you enter a room and light it up.  You are the epitome of joyful.  You live life fully.  You are confident.  You know what you want and when you want it.  "No" doesn't sit well with you.

You are all girl.  You dress up from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to sleep.  You hate pants and will wear a dress even if it's freezing cold outside.  You hate jackets.  Your smile is heavenly and makes my anger and troubles fade quickly.  You know this.  You are strong-willed.  And that will serve you well in life (when you're older).

You love your sisters.  You look up to Caroline so much and imitate her words, actions, expressions, and moves.  Although the past 15 months have been tough on you as you've slowly relinquished your role as the baby in our family, you keep watch over Camille and make sure we know if she needs anything.

You talk a lot.  As in All.  The.  Time.  You love Barbie movies.  You want us to get a cat.  With "tiny wings."  You love mermaids and fairies; they are "your favorite girls."

You are smart.  Your knowledge and wisdom and perceptiveness amaze me daily.  You love for us to read books to you.

You love to play.  Barbies, princesses, Little People, our nativity set -- they are serve as instruments for your incredible imagination.

You love your Papa and me well.  Yesterday morning you climbed into bed with Papa after you woke up and snuggled close and talked about your love for your family.  Your goodnight hugs are legendary.

Charlotte-girl, you bless me daily with your love and the lessons you teach me  You are helping me to be a better parent as I'm stretched to guide and love someone who is so different from me.  I admire so much about you and pray daily that God would give me the grace to help you grow more and more into who He made you to be.

Happy Birthday my sweet girl!


Monday, November 28, 2011


I heard an interview with Francis Ford Coppola on Fresh Air last week.  I'm not a huge fan of his -- and by that I don't mean that I don't like his work, I've just never really known anything about him.  This interview was really riveting though, and really piqued my interest in his work and him as a person.  In the last part of the interview he gave me an enormous surprise when asked about advice to young filmmakers.

His advice to a man?

Get married. 

Perhaps I shouldn't have been so surprised, but his words really took me aback. I suppose my surprise is at least partially due to a Hollywood stereotype that includes disdain for marriage -- or maybe more accurately, disrespect for marriage.  Not that the rest of the country respects it all that much better than Hollywood does, but at least from the outside, there seems to be a pervasive flippant attitude about marriage amongst celebrity-types.

In the interview, Coppola goes on to explain that marriage makes a man a little more responsible and aspire to a more settled life.  At least it did for him.  Whether his experience extrapolates to the rest of society is an open questions, and a good one I think.

His advice to a woman, however?

Don't get married.  Because then you'll have a man wanting you to sacrifice for his career.

So, I suppose for the refreshing-ness of the first bit of advice, he throws in a little status quo too.

Marriage so often gets a bad rap, so his take on it was really refreshing for me to hear.  And marriage is hard, without question.  But marriage is also a blessing, and it was good for me to hear that from an unexpected place.

The interview lasts about thirty minutes and you can find it here.  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Our little singing turkey

Charlotte and Camille had a Thanksgiving performance at school last week and, as always, it was precious.  Here are a few pics of our little Turkey singing her heart out.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

small thanksgivings

"In this counting of thanks, one thousand gifts and more, I discover that slapping a sloppy brush of thanksgiving over everything in my life leaves me deeply thankful for very few things in my life... and I testify:  'life-changing gratitude does not fasten to a life unless nailed through with one very specific nail at a time. Little nails and a steady hammer can rebuild a life...'" - One Thousand Gifts

I read this on Ann Voskamp's facebook feed this morning and it was yet another brick in the wall of true gratefulness that God is building in me.  Earlier in the week, I read the following quotation: "you can't be grateful for something you feel entitled to."  It hit me hard.  

I like to think I'm grateful for all that God has blessed me with, but reading something like that shows me how much I take for granted.  How much my heart and mind quietly smolder in ungratefulness.  The times I think I don't deserve what I'm getting -- and not in the thankful way.  I'm too often entitled.  Ungrateful.  Unthankful.  

Ann's words remind me that in naming the seemingly small gifts that inhabit each moment of my day, I rebuild the life I tear down by taking all of it for granted.  

So today, while I am thankful for the big things in my life, I am keenly aware of the small blessings of life:  
1.  picking up popcorn off of the floor after a night of watching a movie on the couch with two of my girls 
2.  greenbean casserole stained baby shirt
3.  toys scattered all over the floor
4.  a very large pile of laundry waiting for me.  

P.S.  Here are a few of those big things I'm thankful for.  Happy Thanksgiving!  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Handy Tip

I've been meaning to share this incredible life tip for a while now and I haven't gotten around to it.  So, here goes! 

And maybe incredible is too strong, but it has been helpful in the grocery-shopping-meal-planning part of my life. 

My friend Allison introduced me to her weekly meal planning system when I was in Nashville a few months ago.  She writes a week's worth of meals down on large index cards.  So, for one week, she would have a listing of five or six days of the week with the planned meal for that night written next to the day of the week.  She keeps a notebook of recipes that she can reference for each of those cards.  As she's complied a pretty hefty set of weekly meal index cards, she can just re-use that week in a month or two.  That way, once you get a good set of meals down, you can draw from the stack for any given week and grocery shop pretty easily to prepare.

And if I've totally lost you at this point, accept my apologies.  I'm not known for my crystal-clear explanations.  Actually, I'm more known for my wordy, convoluted explanations.

Taking some liberties with Allison's weekly meal-planning method, I decided to use a three subject notebook instead of the cards.  One subject serves as Allison's index cards; in it have several sets of weekly meals set out.  Another subject is where I write my grocery lists.  Yes, I write grocery lists.  Please do not judge.

The last subject is for list for my twice monthly trips to Target.  I will inevitably decide I need something from Target right after I've gone there, so the list there makes sure I don't forget over the course of almost two weeks.

And there you have it!  Though you wouldn't know it by looking at my word count and extended explanation, this system has really simplified and de-stressed my meal planning and preparing process in the evenings.  I just open up my notebook and see what I've scheduled for the week and get cooking.  When time is precious in the evenings, my appreciation for all things simple and anxiety-free goes beyond words.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Rearview Mirror

Smiling faces singing Justin Beiber, Taylor Swift, and Toddler Nursery Rhymes at the top of their lungs.

The oldest picking up a toy for her baby sister without being asked, provoking a big belly laugh from the youngest.

A not-quite-three-year-old rolling her eyes at a red light saying, "This is ridiculous!  Come on cars!" (Hello conviction!  Good to see you there!)

As we're driving home just as it's getting dark, that same girl saying, "We better get out of here!  It's getting spooky out there Mama!  But no one get us in this van, right?  No, no, no, don't say 'You got it!, say 'Yes, Charlotte, no one get us in here.'"

Watching a six year old lean over to whisper in her two year old cousin's ear, and watching both of them erupt with laughter.

Sisters holding hands.

A first grader, just out of school, eyes bright with joy, telling me all about being "super fast" on the playground at recess.

Three unspeakable blessings filling my mornings, afternoons, and evenings with everyday delight.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

And so it begins . . .

On the way to school this morning Caroline formulated a Christmas list to send to Santa, and one on Charlotte's behalf as well. 

Sunday, November 06, 2011

New Kicks

Last week Caroline asked me if she could get a pair of boots, and Caroline rarely asks for clothes or shoes, so I made a point to honor her request this weekend.  She tried on several pairs at one store and didn't really love any of them, so we headed off to try another store.  We found a few pairs that she wasn't overly excited about, but when I showed her "the pair," she lit up.  A huge smile came across her face and she said, "Yes!  Those are the ones I want!"  She tried them on; they fit perfectly; they looked good and we were off to the check out line (where incidentally, we had to add a couple of pink scarves to our loot).

We headed over to the dollar store a couple of stores down before we left so that she could spend of her own money that was obviously burning a hole in her purse.  She picked up a giant coloring book and a box of new crayons for a grand total of $2.18 (bought with mostly nickels and dimes).  As we were holding hands walking to the van, she said, "Mama, I think this is the best day!  And we are going to look just alike with our boots and my new scarf."  Hearing her say that and watching the smile on her face It made me think that it was the best day too.  

Friday, November 04, 2011

Never grow up

We've been listening to A LOT of Taylor Swift in the Beck family lately.  In the van, in the kitchen, in Caroline's room - chances are if you are a fly on the wall of our lives right now you'll hear "Speak Now" at some point in the day.  Taylor (I'm sure she wouldn't mind me calling her that) has a song on that album called "Never Grow Up."  And as a side note, whether you like Taylor Swift as a musician or not, the girl can write a song.  "Never Grow Up" is a really sweet tribute to the inoocence of being young, the burning desire kids have to grow up and take control, with a reminder to take the time to enjoy this moment in life - for both parents and kids. 

One line that gets me every time says "And don't lose the way that you dance around in your pj's getting ready for school."  I immediately picture Caroline and Charlotte with tousled hair, bare feet, and rosy cheeks from a night spent under the warm covers dancing through the kitchen with early morning light peeking through the blinds, Taylor Swift (ironically?), Justin Bieber (or as Charlotte calls him, "The other Taylor Swift", but that's a whole other story!) playing on the CD player. Camille is bobbing up and down, clapping and "singing" to the music, usually with a bottle in hand in her high chair, watching these two girls she looks up to in every sense of the phrase. 

There is so much life that happens in moments like that and it does make me want to tell them to never grow up.At the same time, my response to Taylor's song, is that I long for my girls to grow up, and grow up well, and experience these little moments of their own.  It's a much-needed and wonderful reminder that even though part of me wants to keep them small enough to curl up on my lap in the mornings, the other part of me desires so much for them to find their own beautiful lives to live well.  And for Jeff and me to have done the job God gave to do for them: helping them to become who He made them to be and teaching them first to love Him, love others, and choose joy

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Baby surgery

In two senses, our sweet girl had "baby surgery" last week.  She got tubes put in and her adenoids taken out after a few months of some rough ear and sinus issues.  While I really feel torn about putting a baby under general anesthesia, I have no qualms about the outcome of the surgery. 

Camille had a rough few days after the procedure, running a fever and generally a little under the weather, but since the weekend, she's been fantastic.  I've written before about what a wonderful disposition Camille has.  She's easy-going, loves to laugh, and moves seamlessly from one situation to another.  So while the change in her has not been profound, it has been noticeable.  She seems a little happier and A LOT more verbal.  And that fact hasn't gone unnoticed by her sisters.  Today in the car on the way home from school Charlotte said, "Mama!  Tell Camille to stop singing with this song!  Me not like her saying "La, la, blah, blah!'"

Our little girl is doing great, growing more curls (ah!), and going on her way stealing my heart more and more each day.  

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

And a little more Halloween for you

Last night the girls had a great time Trick or Treating in the neighborhood with friends.  Caroline was Rapunzel once again and Jeff joined her as Flynn Ryder.  After a mishap at school with her purple tu-tu, Charlotte couldn't be the purple fairy again, so she was "wedding girl" in a Barbie wedding gown.  Camille was our precious baby ballerina again.  

I love these girls!