day 1: fallen from the lexicon

On the last day before the link-up, I decided to participate in the Nester's 31 Days series. It's simple: write every day for 31 days on one subject. This is daunting but exciting for me. I wasn't planning on participating until today when a wave of inspiration washed over my mind at 6:00 in the morning. I hope that I really will be able to post every day for 31 days, and I dearly hope that I don't bore you. Like, I really, really hope that you stick with me on this as I try something new this month. As always, thanks for reading.

Gracious. It's a word we don't hear too often, a word whose meaning has been lost in the fray of vulgarity and the doctrine of selfishness. How many people could accurately define gracious if put on the spot? My guess is not many. I had a hard time coming up with the words when I asked myself this question. I always knew the feeling of graciousness, but putting words to this word was elusive. 

marked by kindness and courtesy, tact and delicacy
characterized by charm, good taste, and generosity of spirit
archaic meaning: godly

Just as the lexicon has dropped the word, so has the world dropped the virtue. Do you know gracious people? Is graciousness outdated and unimportant today? Or is there still a place for it? How does graciousness play out in a real life full of jobs, laundry, and spilled yogurt? 

My plan? To cultivate a gracious spirit in myself and in my family, to wield the banner of courtesy and respect in a world that diminishes refinement.

31 Days of Gracious Living
Day 11: My day
Day 16: Halfway there
Day 21: Weighing in
Day 22: Year three
Day 24: A napless day
Day 27: Living grace
Day 30: A reminder
Day 31: Conclusion

hello, Monday

:: Hello, Monday.
:: Hello to clean bathrooms and folded laundry.
:: Hello to blustery rain and timid sun.

:: Hello to taking a risk and writing for 31 days.
:: Probably. Maybe.

:: Hello to Ray Bradbury and spooky carnivals.
:: Hello to reading with a cup a cocoa.
:: Hello to daily cocoa.
:: Obviously.

:: Hello to a grumpy babe.
:: Goodbye to a decent morning nap.
:: Sigh.

:: Hello to some hopeful sewing and hello to too many ideas.
:: Hello to homemade chili and chicken pot pie on the week's menu.
:: Hello to a birthday cake.
:: Hello to General Conference and church in pajamas.

:: Hello to melting down because you thought your husband took your keys.
:: And another hello to realizing you were wrong.


just look at that spaghetti face

So. The morning of the day I took this photo, I mopped the floor. So much for that, right? I guess it comes with the almost-toddler territory. Lots of things come with family territory, like a husband who has to work late.

Josh has had a huge project with a tight deadline this week, and he's run into almost every obstacle possible. It's made for late nights every night. I know it's so hard for him, and it's also hard for me. It's hard to know that you won't have a break from baby responsibilities because your partner won't be there to offer it. It's hard to know that you won't have an emotional respite because you have to keep things together when your sweet baby keeps throwing his food on the floor and crying when you try to feed him peas. 

I hate to complain, though, because so many people have it so much harder than this. First off, hats off to single moms everywhere because it's hard enough for me to make it barely a workweek without regular husband help, and I don't even have to work to support my family financially. All I have to worry about is getting Asher fed and to bed without help--like that's anything to complain about. And then there are the wives of students or of professionals with highly demanding jobs, who deal with evening absences almost daily. I salute you. Most days Josh is home by 6:00 at the latest, so seriously, life is pretty good.

Actually, life is really good. Some days are hard, and some days Josh and I don't get along super great. Some days that spaghetti all over my newly mopped floor is oh so discouraging. And other days are really great. Other days Josh and I are sappy and in love. Other days the spaghetti floor doesn't matter a whit compared with the joy of that spaghetti face. 

The goodness of those other days outweigh the difficulty of those some days every single time.



:: I snagged Christmas tickets to Denver for under $600 total. Usually tickets cost us more than that, so $585? I'll take it. Don't ask me how we'll swing flights when Asher turns two and can't fly for free anymore.

:: I called to debate the price hike in our internet bill, and I actually had a decent and productive customer service call with Comcast. Surprised? Me too.

:: Tonight three of my favorite shows premier. Three.


naptime chatting

I thought I'd kick off my morning by writing a little, a chat if you will. It's technically naptime for the babe, but he's chatting it up in his room too. So.

My motivation is hovering around a three out of ten, and I have some dusting to get to. Chop, chop, Charlotte! I mean, seriously though, I have season premieres to get to this week. And my Ray Bradbury book to start. I have my priorities, and while keeping house tops my responsible priorities, The Mindy Project tops my selfish ones.

What are your selfish priorities this week?

Before you log off to go be either responsible or lazy (I'm still on the fence on that one), check out Bonnie's blog for a giveaway I'm participating in. I'm giving away a copy of one of my favorite books, and others are giving away boat loads of gift cards. So seriously, check it out, because you could basically win the lottery on this one.

I haven't heard any baby babble in a few minutes, so maybe I can dust with some TV on in the background and then whip up a cup of cocoa. That sounds like a decent responsible-lazy compromise, right?


girl talk and unmentionables

We're going to dive into some girl talk, readers. Boys, you've been warned.

So, bras. I went bra shopping last week, because you know, your whole body changes after birthing a babe. Now that Asher is no longer attached to any part of my body, I find my upper body . . . lacking, perhaps? At least, it's lacking more than it did before. (And maybe even more than before the babe, so, this isn't a laughing matter.) I need a new bra. Obviously.

But here's the thing, I don't even know how to go about that anymore. I don't even know my size. Good hell. I was at Kohl's with Asher a week ago, and I had a handful of bras that I'd picked out ignorantly, trying to make myself feel great about it all. Actually, I was hating the entire experience. So I left them all in the dressing room and looked at baby clothes instead. Because shopping for baby clothes is infinitely more fun than shopping for a bra for a post-breastfeeding body.

So here's the plan: Sometime soon I am going to leave the babe with either his dad or his grandma and go to Nordstrom where they treat you right. I'm going to get officially fitted and try on a dozen hand-picked bras and then pay a bit to buy one. That's just how it has to be. I want to feel pretty, and some days motherhood is not conducive to pretty. Some days my shirt sports applesauce and yogurt, and I really don't think it's too much to ask for my boobs to look decent in my applesauce shirts, right? Right. So we agree. Let's go classy on this.


Spooky Read 2013!

My partner in crime Miranda and I collaborated the other night and finally decided on a book to read in October. This year we decided on Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury. For those new to this blog, every year we pick a spooky book to read during October. Nothing gets me in eerie mode like reading something macabre. 

Previous year's reads are Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders, Dracula, and The Haunting of Hill House. (My favorite of these is by far Dracula.) I spent lots of time digging around Goodreads looking for a good choice for this October, and after an extensive texting discussion with Miranda, we thought that Ray Bradbury would treat us well this Halloween. 

You can find this book pretty much anywhere, because, I mean, this is Ray Bradbury we're talking about. I put mine on hold at the library. This book should be pretty easy to find. I'll be posting my review on October 30--plenty of time to be thoroughly creeped out. I'd love it if you joined us this year--if you do decide to read along, please let me know in the comments!


lunch date

Welcome readers from The Life of Bon! I'm so happy that you're here. For my own small following of readers, I'm glad you're here too. Obviously. And if you haven't read Bonnie's blog, you should check it out. It's one of those blogs that I diligently read. How about we have a low-key lunch to get to know each other better? I can whip up some leftover pesto grilled cheese from last night. Have you ever had pesto with your grilled cheese? If not, come over now.

I'll also heat you up some tomato soup. I found my favorite recipe from these ladies. I thought that pesto grilled cheese and creamy tomato soup were perfect for our overcast Oregon weather yesterday. Is it feeling like fall where you are?

How was your summer? Did you meet any cute boys? If things with that boy didn't work out, then he's stupid for not realizing how rad you are. But it's okay to be sad sometimes. Never think that being sad is lame. It's human, and being human isn't such a bad thing at all.

I'm excited for fall fashions. I will confess, however, that I'm not even sure exactly what those fashions are. What I really mean is that I'm excited for some fall sewing. I'm in the middle of sewing a dress with lots and lots of pleats.

What have you been reading lately? I'm close to finishing The Handmaid's Tale, and I'm finding it fascinating and disturbing and thoughtful. After I finish this book, I'll be 75-percent of the way to my yearly goal. Do you make annual reading goals?

Now that we're officially homeowners, we have a list of some home improvement projects to tackle. Josh and one of our friends mounted the TV a few weeks ago, and now I'm itching to put up some shelves on either side. Have I told you that we have a 60-inch TV? It's obscene.

I can't believe it's taken us this long to talk about TV premiers. Next week is going to be awesome when it comes to Hulu. I'll have new episodes queuing up fast, people. I used to be ashamed of how much I love TV, but I'm not so much anymore. Some people hike to relax. I like to watch television.

I accidentally put a virus on our computer, and I feel like a total idiot because of it. I guess it was an honest mistake, but who likes to admit to their tech-y husband that, "Um, hon, so I may have downloaded a virus onto the computer. That might have happened. You should probably check that out. You know, just in case." Have you made any silly mistakes recently that you're loathe to admit? Don't worry, I won't tell.

We're about out of time, but let me send you with some pumpkin bread. I whipped some up a couple of weeks ago and put the loaves in the freezer so I don't eat them all for breakfast. So please, take a loaf with you and rid me of the temptation. Thanks. And let's get together soon. I mean it.


the seventh day

This is how Sundays make me feel now.

{Instagram post from a few weeks ago.}

Yesterday was particularly hard. Asher made it okay through the three hours of church (which is a lot of church even for adults, much less for an almost-toddler who isn't yet old enough to attend the nursery), but then he crashed during lunch. His nap was okay, but earlier than usual, meaning that he woke up five hours before bedtime. That's a long time to be awake for a one-year-old. And that's a long time for his mama.

So mid-afternoon when I was ready to implode from physical and emotional exhaustion, I proposed that we all take a sanity walk. We walked around Wilsonville for about an hour, and it was bliss. The sky was overcast and the air was a pleasant 65 degrees. I pushed the stroller while Josh walked beside me, and we talked about the Sunday battles and why they are the way they are and why moving to a different congregation has been hard for me (for Mormons, the congregation you attend is determined geographically, so when we moved, we moved into different boundaries). We talked about fall and ventured to say that Oregon falls are our favorite. We laughed as Asher pointed at all the dogs we saw, and we swooned over our boy's winning smiles.

{Instagram post from yesterday's sanity walk}

That sanity walk was exactly what we all needed. Church is good, and attending is a high priority for me, even when it's hard. On those days when it is hard, I think that God gives me some compensation in the form of sanity walks, in the smiles of my babe, and in the hand of my man.


month 12 (and kind of 11)

I completely skipped posting anything for month 11. July was just too overwhelming and busy. Oh well, right? And while this post is late, these pictures were taken the day before his birthday, so score on timeliness. 

:: First things first, the 12-month doctor stats: 22 lbs 4 oz (64th percentile), 31.5 inches long (95th percentile), and 19.5-inch head circumference (99th percentile). I love it when the nurses print out those charts. (And Asher put up a bigger fight when the doctor checked his ears than when the nurse gave him his vaccinations. Go figure.)
:: This kid is all. over. the. place. He's a speedy crawler and has started cruising around the furniture. His knees are a little roughed up from all his crawling and falling.

:: He had his first official beach day in July, and I think he liked it. At his bath that night I found plenty of sand hiding in that chubby bum.
:: He thinks doors are pretty cool. He opens and closes and opens and closes and opens and then closes for real. So then you open it for him.

:: The refrigerator is a tantalizing pull for the boy. No matter where he is, if he can see you opening the fridge, he crawls as fast as he can but he's never fast enough to catch me before I close it.
:: Like I talked about in this post, Asher is weaned and eating all solid food. Unfortunately he's started exhibiting some picky tastes. I think I've generated some bad karma for myself in this matter.

:: He has this hilarious growl that he'll pull out every once in a while. I love it.
:: Asher has showed some signs of entering the tantrum phase. If something rubs him the wrong way he collapses on the ground and cries. If he's especially mad at you he'll arch and cling and twist. Heavens.
:: He loves to practice standing, though it comes in phases. I think he's too impatient to be persistent in his practice, so he just crawls around most of the time. When he feels like it, though, he stands, and you can tell he thinks it makes him the coolest.

:: He's been teething some molars for going on two months. Two months. We're over it.
:: Asher had his second official haircut, which was frankly an anxious endeavor for all involved. But it has to happen, because that fuzzy, cowlicky hair will get out of control if we're not careful.

:: He loves that quilt that my sister Emily made him. He buries his face into the soft side any chance he gets.
:: My favorite thing from these two months is Mama and Dada. He says them intentionally now. He doesn't say mama as often when it's just us, and usually pulls it out only when he's upset. Dada comes out, though, when he's excited and having fun. I see how this is playing out.
:: He babbles a lot, though. Sometimes I wish I could understand what all those intentional sounds are supposed to mean. It's just the cutest.

:: When he takes his bath he'll play this game where he dips his face into the water really fast. It's like he's daring himself to do it, and he looks so proud when he follows through. (No worries, we're there watching him 100-percent of the time.)
:: He also loves the pool. We bought an inflatable Batmobile, and it's the cutest. But really, Asher prefers to be in the water so he can dip his face.

:: Asher loves flipping through books. Sometimes I catch him sitting on his bedroom floor flipping pages. I'm sure you know that I love this on so many levels.
:: We're friends. All of us--Josh, Asher, and me. We love having this kid around and can hardly believe how big he is. Sometimes I want to fight it, but mostly I just want to savor it.

:: These are good days.


some PNW blasphemy

PNW stands for Pacific Northwest if you were wondering. And I have something to say that will likely throw its residents for a loop: I'm over summer. Over it. I know. Summer doesn't usually hit Oregon until somewhere around July, so why not just soak up what I can when I can? Because I don't really like summer all that much. I know.

I like fireworks and barbecues as much as the next person, but when it comes down to it I prefer boots to flip flops and sweaters to swimsuits. I don't know if I've ever regretted summer's end. Every year I've welcomed autumn with open arms saying, "Oh, fall! Where have you been all this time? Let's go grab some cocoa and pie and catch up."

Today the high is 97 degrees. 97 degrees. In September. I've been kind of bratty about it, actually. Scorching temperatures have no business lingering past August. I'm not saying that I'm ready for the endless days of rain yet, but I am ready for some crisp breezes and pumpkin bread. Give me some sunny 60-degree days when I can go for a walk and delight in the yellow and red and orange leaves. Let me put on a cardigan and some jeans without sentencing myself to a heat stroke. Is that so much to ask?

This year summer is turning into that house guest who's overstayed her welcome. Would you just get out of here already? I know, I know. This issue is polarizing. I'll have readers who live in hot and humid places who are currently scoffing at this entire post, and readers who think I'm straight up sacrilege for even thinking such things. But there it is. Summer, we need a break. Your turn for 2013 is complete. Make some room for fall. But, really.


when mom comes to visit

Mom and Sarah left yesterday.

{insert deep sigh and hanging shoulders here}

They were here for almost a week, and we packed in most things on our Portland to-do list while still feeling relaxed and on vacation. In addition to shopping at Marshall's, Kohl's, Nordstrom Rack, Gymboree, Mill End, and Powell's, we baked a cake, homemade hamburger buns, and salted pretzel peanut butter M&M cookies; ate Mexican food, Thai food, and crepes; watched October Sky, the first season of Downton Abbey, several episodes of Andy Griffith, and saw Austenland in theaters; ate at Salt and Straw, hit up the zoo, and even canned some peaches. We clamored around Asher and applauded every thing he did and talked and lounged and stayed in vacation mode the whole time. I had such a fun time hanging with Sarah and celebrating her fifteenth birthday all week long.

Oh how I miss them.

I know that not every daughter can say this about her mother, but for me, life is just easier with Mom around. She loves my baby, makes me feel great at everything I do, fixes zippers on my dresses, and even folds my laundry. Some days living 1,280 miles apart is just really hard. Especially when just yesterday she was right in your kitchen.

Sigh, indeed.


what I learned in August

Whoa, that was kind of a heavy post to leave up there for almost a week. So I'll give you another list to lighten things up around here. I present you with some of the things I learned in August (idea from here).

:: This week I've really been into lists. Obviously.

:: I learned how to make and code a blog button. I decided to experiment and take out a small sponsorship on one of my favorite blogs for next month. We'll see how that goes.

:: When your babe has a high fever, sometimes he'll sleep only when you rock him all. night. long. And you know, that's a-okay with you. Also, Mr. Wilson is a rock star for taking an early morning shift on that one. Teamwork, people. It's what babes are all about.

:: Exercise kind of works. Now that Asher isn't breastfeeding anymore, I've kicked my butt into gear to lose those extra pounds. While I hate Jillian Michaels with my whole soul, those workouts work. Even if they threaten to kill you. (Also, exercise makes me dramatic. Obviously.)

:: Chocolate pie can transcend anything--even an abysmal pie crust.

:: Helium balloons don't make it through the night, much to my birthday planning chagrin.'

:: Um, New Girl. Despite the recommendations from so many people, I never watched much, but holy cow, you all were right--it's amazing.
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