Gathering my thoughts and the images that inspire them

Outside my window:  It's hot. Ridiculously hot. I left for a run early this morning and it was 72. By the time I got home, it was already 85. With the humidity, it felt like 90. Two hours later, it's even hotter. And more humid. I'm not complaining. Nope. There's not a single complaint in there. I'm just stating the facts. It's hot. And every day is a bad hair day. Fact.

Listening to: Quiet. It's a weird week of coming and going and heat. Did I mention heat? Kristin just left. She gathered up everyone under 15 to go to the nearby Air and Space Museum. The idea is for them to stay cool and maybe get a little educated and for me to get a week's worth of work finished in three hours. Because that's truly how we roll around here lately.

Clothing myself in: Shorts. Tank top. Running shoes. New running shoes. When I was in Charlottesville last week, I popped into the only running store I love and asked why they thought my Christmas running shoes were giving me blisters. She looked inside them, looked outside them and broke it to me that they were worn out. Then we looked back at my Fitbit and Runmeter stats. Those shoes have traveled the length of Italy on foot. Okay then, new shoes.

In my own reading: I read a wonderful book last week and I'll tell you all about it on needle and thREAD. Anne listed it on her "Beachy Novel" list. I'm sticky with Beachy Novels this summer. 


Visit Kendra for her thoughts on this perfect pregnant mama psalm. It's her contribution to Kristin's Summer of Psalms project. Click here to see all the psalms so far. Each one has its own free downloadable art

Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: Mary Beth is away this week, at WorkCamp. Stephen and Nick will leave midweek for the regional soccer championships. Mike's gone and will return only long enough to gather the boys. I find myself really missing conversation. To have both Mary Beth and Mike gone at the same time makes me very aware of my usual patterns of casual (and thoughtful) conversing. When Kristin walks through the door in the morning, I barely say "Hello" before the onslaught of whatever new idea hasn't been given voice yet. Today, it was all about sewing projects. 

Creating By Hand:  I need some of these Sorbetto tops. Quickly. Because, you know, it's hot. 

Learning lessons In: Long distance romance;-). I mean, I already know a lot of tips about life with a traveling dad, but every season brings its new challenges. If we are so inclined, we never stop learning. 

Encouraging learning in: I'm trying to come up with a summer reading plan. My challenge is that I've never been big on incentive plans. We don't have a chore chart with rewards. I never gave anyone M&Ms or Teddy Grahams for going potty (though I did once promise a puppy as soon as Katie was potty trained and then left the poor child to six highly motivated siblings who got the job done in less than a week). I'm just not a carrot and stick kind of a mom. So... pondering this one...

Keeping house: There is no air conditioning upstairs this summer. In an effort towards frugality and solidarity with Laudato Si ;-), we're not rushing to fix it. These fans are making nighttime sleeping acceptably comfortable. One thing I've noticed, though, is that when it's hot and humid and one isn't employing central air conditioning, it is critical to wipe down and dry bathroom surfaces and to air out bedding. These are interesting lessons and I'm rather intrigued by them. Housekeeping is no doubt very different than it was just 50 years ago, isn't it?

Crafting in the kitchen: Fresh farmer's market meals. Patrick took a full class in farmer's markets and the slow food movement. For credit. He keeps dropping little whole food tidbits of information into conversations. And I keep sitting mutely, in stunned silence, wondering why in the world he thinks this is new knowledge. It's true; my children do not hear or believe half the things I say to them all their lives until some stranger tells them the same things. Click back on Thursday for some farmer's market tips and recipes. 

To be fit and happy: I'm back to long morning runs/walks. And I'm so grateful for them. I've settle into  a routine of about a half hour running, followed by 45 minutes of a brisk walk. For me, it seems like the perfect rhythm. Looks like there some science behind that. I'm also going to step on the scale once a month and only once a month. But I reserve the right to continue to obsessively try on my favorite pants until they fit again. 

Giving thanks: for cool(er) mornings and good shoes. All the pictures are from walks last week. I can't take pictures while running. I love to challenge myself to really see when I'm walking. This is my neighborhood, the places I drive by every day on my way to and from somewhere else. When I'm walking, I'm not bypassing anything; instead, I'm inhaling everything. Sometimes, I can capture that experience on the camera inside my phone.

Loving the moments: I posted the following to Facebook on Sunday, but things have a way of disappearing there and I really want to  preserve these thoughts here. So pardon the repetition if you've read them previously.

I don’t have any pictures of my first daughter’s last recital. Not a one. But it was memorable. Let’s see... Sarah forgot half her solo, but is still super sure that she danced well. “All the parts I remembered went great, Mommy” The four girls secretly choreographed and rehearsed a quad to pay tribute to Mike’s dad. I’m told there were no dry Foss eyes in the audience. Karoline did herself in and cried with them through the last eight beats or so. Katie’s solo to Amy Grant took me back to vintage Amy and a hospital bed in 9 West 25 years ago. Who could have imagined a 7th child spinning in grace? God could, apparently. I found myself sobbing through that one. In the second show, Karoline stepped up and danced a boy’s hip hop part when he left early so that her friend Sophie wouldn’t have to dance “My Boyfriend’s Back” without boys. She decided she loved the understudy role, so when one of the big girls was injured for evening show, Kari took the stage all by herself to fill Grace’s entire solo slot, doing an improvisational dance to a song she’d never heard before. And she totally rocked it. All I could think while she made it up as she went was how grateful I am that my girls are dancing in a community where winging it and creativity and confidence are nurtured and celebrated; that leaves little room for perfectionism and unhealthy self-recrimination. It’s invaluable, really. And then there was Bee. I never promised I wouldn’t cry. And I think I cried a little pretty much every time she took the stage. And I cried when she was in the wings, whispering words of encouragement to little girls. This dance world was her world—she pulled us in. Further, she insisted on this school when the time came for her sisters to dance. Bee knew what healthy was because she’d seen unhealthy, too. She made us dancers. But ballet will always be hers. No matter what her little sisters ever do on stage, she will always be our prima ballerina. Always. Let the record show that the last time she was en pointe at recital, she danced the entire dance with a handful of safety pins in the toe of her pointe shoe. I have no idea how that happened. But somehow, those pins upended in the dance bag and in the hurry backstage to shove feet into shoes and tie ribbons in the dark, she didn’t know until she was on stage. And we would have never known had she not noticed me crying and whispered into the wings, “There are pins in my shoes.” Waterworks turned off. I spent the rest of the dance wondering where the pins were and why she dared to break my “sew everything—no pins allowed” rule and then tell me about it while she was dancing! Mary Beth led the girls in this family to the stage—insisted on it, really— and she nurtured a love that is deep and true. We are grateful, so grateful, for the gift of dance and, way more grateful, for the gift of Bee.

You'll hear a bit more about that improv tomorrow.

Living the Liturgy: I read this post (several times, actually) nodding all the while I was reading. And all I could think was that St. Therese so perfectly captured these thoughts. Further, I think living liturgy keeps self-aggrandizement in check. When the year is framed by the life of Christ, each season brings into our awareness who and where He was when He walked the earth. When each day is punctuated by the Hours that call us back to His Word and into His presence, we are much less likely to fall into the illusion that (a) it's even a little about us or (b) that He needs social media or huge conferences or best-selling books to make Himself known. He doesn't. In every age, He is known. In our age, with wisdom and discretion, those "grand audience" things can be useful tools, but He doesn't "need" them. He doesn't "need" anything. We need. We need to tune our hearts to His voice and to remember: 

Love is well-known and easily identified, it needs no stage and no bestseller status. God is famous in the family dinners and protest marches, in the re-reading of a favourite book to small children and in Wednesday night Bible studies open to the public, in the prayers of the unknown and the faith of the uncelebrated.

I wonder if fame is more a construct of our celebrity-obsession, but God isn’t the new celebrity to brand and make palatable for the masses – there is too much complexity and wildness for God; God won’t obey the spreadsheets.

It’s resurrection, resurrection, resurrection. Bringing the dead things to life, life into dry bones, beauty from ashes, sorrow to joy, day after day, choice after choice, step after step towards glory.

--From Famous

Planning for the week ahead: The week will be spent packing and unpacking children as they set forth on grand adventures. It will be spent welcoming home  weary husband and sending him off again. it will be spent snuggling extra long with a certain six-year-old who loves rhythm in her life and is more than a little rattled when people keep coming and going.