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One of the joys of parenting is watching my son discover how he fits into the world. 

I have, in my opinion, a highly articulate 2.5 year old.  He speaks in full sentences most of the time, although his standard answer is very 2-year-old-esque: “Because I can” or “Because I can’t.”  Occasionally we’re able to get better sentences out of him.  He has two new things.  One of them is to tell us about something he wants to do, or something he wants to happen, and then end it with, “That will be a good idea.”  The other new thing is to “match” things.

For example: “I wanna go see Skye and Brian and Papa and Nanny and then play with my race cars and then pet Lucky and that will be a good idea!”

He was laying on his Nanny’s bed, watching Dumbo with her. I brought him Friend-Ent, his favorite stuffed animal, a very tired Dumbo that has been with him almost every night since his birth. He held up his stuffed animal to the TV screen.  “Look Nanny, it matches!”

“I want chocolate milk. That will be a good idea, Mommy!” To really feel the genius of this one, you have to mispronounce chocolate – think “cschok-lit.”  He pronounces other C-words correctly, but Cschok-lit? I’m not correcting that one until he graduates high school.

For Christmas, his cousins Teresa, James and Mandy gifted him 2 really awesome Dr. Seuss puzzles.  When he unwrapped it he got very excited.  We asked him what it was and he said, “It’s Dr. Whouss!”  Hmm. That’s another thing I’m not correcting.  He thinks Dr. Who and Dr. Seuss are the same, and who am I to argue?!

He’s already put both puzzles together and taken them apart multiple times.  One of the puzzles is from his favorite book, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”  The night he put it together for the first time we read that book at bedtime. He paused on the page that the puzzle is inspired by and said, “Look Mommy! It matches my puzzle! Let’s go put it together. That will be a good idea.”

Benjamin at Christmastime

Some days are crazy and insane. But some days end with him snuggled in my arms, and especially on days like those I find myself unable to articulate how lucky I am to be his Mommy.

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These are just some things on my radar, things that I have starred in my google reader, things that make my heart burst and make me cry in the middle of the day when no one is looking (I hope).  Enjoy.

Guest Post at A Deeper Story: On Sending my Husband into Brothels.
A bold reality for some people.  Such bravery, such sacrifice.  Not necessarily easy reading, but the truth that is written here is beautiful.

In which he wouldn’t do anything different (and neither would I)
I love this because of the last few paragraphs, it speaks to me and my life right now.  

Sarah – A Woman of Valor
Tears. 

This picture. 
I don’t know if it’s kosher for me to post it here, or hyperlink, or what, so just click and look.

A Mom’s Back to School Blues
I really like this, even though I don’t have school aged children yet.  It’s a good reminder of what the future holds.

I just had to share this quote because, well, I think it needs to be read.  And reread.  Sarah Bessey is one of the few reasons I haven’t completely given up on reading blogs.  Some days there’s too much anger and misunderstood words on the internet, and she is a peace to me in the storm.  I love her writing, so let me share what she wrote about the Shikh Temple shooting.

Hard conversations are coming, perhaps legislation, around gun control, about hatred, racism, religion, about our culture’s glorification of violence, our nationalism, and the divisions between us, yes, those conversations need to happen, but not just now: now is the time for grieving, now is the time for loving, for burying, for mourning with those who mourn, for gathering humanity together, and for compassion.

I believe that it is precisely because of my Christian faith that I am sitting my heart down, mourning with those that mourn, grieving and honouring, loving and praying. Love casts out fear, and may the mouths of the faithful be filled with words of Love and hope and peace, never fear.

Thank you, Sarah, for your beautiful words.

(Source)

Dear Benjamin,

Last week you turned the big TWO!!  I was reading the letter I wrote you at 21 months and it’s amazing how much you have changed.  Even over just a few months you change and grow. 

You still talk and talk and talk.  You love to run through the house, play with swords, and tickle Mommy and Daddy.  The dogs drive you crazy (especially Frankie), and when you and Frankie are energetic and chasing each other you both drive US crazy.  We’ve been swimming half a dozen times this summer and if I put you in your swim donut you can swim around the pool yelling “Kick! Kick! Kick!” as your legs frantically propel you forward.  It’s a joy to watch.

We had your birthday party the day after your actual birthday.  Lots of friends and family came over.  I made you chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with chocolate and vanilla ice cream.  You started crying when I lit the candle on your cupcake and everyone started singing.  I’m not sure why – maybe the attention? Maybe the singing? However, as soon as we were done and you got to eat the cupcake, you were much better!

You got some neat toys for your birthday and love to play with them.  Lots of animals and blocks and cars and trucks.  Puzzles and dinosaurs and oh, my, the vehicles.  Our house has become a speedway and you are the driver of racing machines darting in, out, and over the couch.

We took a trip to California almost two months ago.  We were worried about how you would do in the plane, but we shouldn’t have worried.  You love any kind of vehicle, planes included.  Daddy sat next to you on the plane and talked about how you were going to go really, really fast, and go up, up, up!  You loved it.  We rode in the car for ages and ages, and you rarely fussed about it.  We drove through random subdivisions in Elk Grove, and you asked if we were going to Mae Mae’s house! It was the cutest thing, and you made Mae Mae’s mom giggle about it when I told her.  We went to a wedding for my best friend Amy.  You love Amy, and you loved dancing at Amy and Keith’s wedding.   We went to Monterey Bay Aquarium, and you had such a blast hanging out with your 3 cousins.  We went camping (which you LOVED) at my old camping site in California.  It was heart-wrenchingly beautiful to see you scale the same rocks I had scaled as a child.  To see you in the “rock club” and down at the water’s edge was an incredible experience for me.  Even though the water was freezing cold you stood in it until your feet turned to chubby little icicles, and you loved it.  Watching you eat s’mores with your cousins is a memory I will treasure forever.

A few weeks ago we travelled to Senatobia, Mississippi to visit Papa’s parents.  Mimi and PaPaw loved you, and we loved visiting them, and you had a good time running around their house and showing off.  A mere week after that we went down to Houston for your cousin Austin’s graduation.  Each road trip you demonstrated your willingness to sit still when needed, your love of movement, and your love of music.  I love how you love music.

Son, I’ll be honest, because it’s my letter and I’m allowed to be: I don’t know what the future holds for you.  What I do know is that you capture the attention of people – your joy, your mannerisms, and your movement.  Watching you is like watching life take place – it’s like observing the best the world has to offer.  Maybe you’re just like every other two-year old on the planet, I’m not sure.  I hope that I can teach you to harness that attention-grabbing skill and use it to better the world around you.  I know that living with you teaches me every day the meaning of slow down. Observe. Breathe. Love. Be patient.

Your Daddy and I talk about you, often, after you’ve finally given up and gone to sleep.  We lay in bed, snuggled, and talk about whether or not we’re doing a good job (most days we think we’re doing OK).  Recently we were talking about your exposure to television and video games.  We don’t want to shelter you from the world and its issues, but we don’t want to desensitize you either.  It’s tough to say “No, we won’t play this video game while Benjamin is awake, because it depicts violence too accurately,” but that’s exactly where we are at. 

This world is dangerous and violent and broken, son, and you’ll have your whole life to learn that.  I hope that we can teach you about the beauty of the world first, and it’s dark side later. 

Eventually, Lucky will die, and you will learn grief.  Eventually, you will ask where Mommy’s parents are, and you will see me cry.  Eventually, you will ask why Jesus hangs on the cross, broken and beaten, and you will learn about sacrifice. 

Our hope, though all of that, is to teach you about love.  Love that shines through grief and brokenness, love that taught Mommy how to heal, love that makes Daddy get up even on the days when his depression beats his heart and soul, love that put Christ on the cross and love that triumphs all of the dark things in this world.

However, before you have to learn all of those things, I want you to know joy.  I want to continue to see my baby boy, beautiful and full of grace and energy, running around squealing with laughter.  I want to continue to love you so much it hurts.  I want to see animals for the first time all over again, though your eyes.  I want to continue to chase the dogs in the backyard until we collapse into fits of giggles.  I want to dance with you in the living room until I’m sweaty and exhausted.  I want these good and wonderful things for you so that when darkness seems to sneak in, you can remember the things from the light.

I hope you understand, one day, how hard it is trying to figure all this stuff out.  I hope you have enough grace to forgive us when we mess up.  I hope I have enough grace to forgive myself!  But either way, we’ll muddle through this crazy adventure together.  Being a Mommy is quite an amazing experience in general, but being Mommy to you – well – I think that’s my favorite job yet.

I love you son, happy 2nd birthday.

Love,
Mama

I haven’t done a “Miscellaneous Monday” in a while, and there’s all sorts of tasty goodness on my blogroll and out in the world today so I am going to share! 

The problem with “Homosexuality” – Justin Lee writes openly and honestly and I really enjoy his thoughts.  He raises some good questions here and I think they merit further consideration.

Counting the cost – Scott discusses the importance of thinking about the “real” cost of self-defense, and the link provided is, in my opinion, essential reading for anyone who thinks they have an opinion on what the media reports on the Martin-Zimmerman case.

Bicycle clutch – You don’t have to read this, you just have to admire the beauty. I am currently using a lunch tote tied up, but this would double as a purse once I’d arrived at my destination! Brilliant!

Old & New Project – A collaborative project for graphic artists to display artwork themed around bible stories.  Some of them are incredible, all of them are interesting.  So far my favorites are Judah&Tamar and Deborah’s Song of Jael. If you want more amazing visual scripture, be sure to check out Jim LePage’s solo project Word.  Don’t ask me to pick a favorite, I can’t, I mean, 2 Corinthians is amazing, Hebrews makes me smile and I can’t forget Titus, 1 Timothy, Habakkuk, Job, ok really, I have to stop, just go. Look. Learn.

Peace like a River – Breathtakingly beautiful honesty. I can relate to this post in a lot of ways and I think a lot us can.

So, did any of these pique your curiosity? Which ones? I’d love to see if anyone else enjoys these as much as I did!

For those of you who don’t follow the news (and these days I don’t blame you) it has been a rough week for those involved in Public Safety. 

  • Senior Police Officer Jaime Padron from Austin Police Department. Shot and killed after responding to a drunk at Walmart. End of watch April 6, 2012.
  • Deputy Sheriff Ryan Tvelia from Norfolk County Sheriff’s Office. Motorcycle accident. End of watch April 10, 2012.
  • Deputy Sheriff Robert Paris from Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department. Shot while serving an eviction. End of watch April 12, 2012.
  • Police Chief Michael Maloney from Greenland Police Department. Shot while serving a drug related search warrant. End of watch April 12, 2012.

I don’t have words to express the heartbreak I feel for the the people in these agencies.  For those in the public safety sector these names – whether or not we know them personally – represent brothers and sisters.  These are people united in a cause of justice and community service.  I have grieved a similar loss.

It’s easy to forget that cops are usually people just like you and I that want to go home to their family at the end of the shift.  They post pictures of their kids on Facebook.  They’re not always crooked or bad or focused on putting people in jail.  They like to go to concerts.  They want a safe place to live and raise their families, they want to see justice done, they want to help society catch bad guys.  They dress up for Halloween.  They like mexican food and sushi and drinking beer.  They love football.  Sometimes they drink.  They go to church.  They have husbands and wives and parents.

They serve, but they still cherish life.  And when someone takes that from them… it’s difficult.  I’m not a police officer, but I work side by side them every single day.  I go to church with them, I talk to their wives, I smile when their kids succeed.  I pray when they struggle.  They’re humans.  Now, granted, they’re humans who carry guns, but generally that’s only 40-50 hours a week.  The other 120ish hours they’re sons and daughters and mothers and fathers.  They’re friends.  They’re usually good people (I say usually: I know some cops are bad, but they’re few and far between and not the focus of this writing). 

Please, when you get the chance, when you see that patrol car flying code somewhere or driving behind you, please take a second to think about their job. The risk they take putting that vest on every day.  If you see a police officer eating lunch, don’t ask them about the parking ticket you got last week – just thank them for trying to protect you.  Nod and smile.  Don’t break the law.  Don’t shoot them and take their life. Is that so much to ask?

I wanted to write something about how this week is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week – the week that dispatcher’s are recognized for their support of Police, Fire and Ems responders.  But I can’t because my heart is heavy and broken and I wish there was more I could do.

Rest in peace, gentlemen.

I don’t really even know how to start this. 

Ska music is, and always will be, a part of who I am as a person.  Growing up my parents didn’t like any “new” music, but ska music forced its way into my soul.  It was cheerful and bouncy and never fails to make me happy when listening to it.  Ska music was the catalyst that introduced me to my best friend Amy.  I am forever indebted to ska music for the friendship I have with her.  I’ll never forget the apprehension and excitedness and how hard it was for me to reach out to the pretty girl that sat behind me in class (or was it in front of me? I can’t remember now…) and tell her that I liked her backpack, I liked the FIF patch, and OHMYGOODNESSSOMEONEELSEKNOWSWHATSKAMUSICIS!!  And she liked my hair clip and the rest is history.

I guess some people already know this, but I did not: OC Supertones is making a new album! If they can get funded, that is.  They are one of the classic Christian ska bands from the 90s/2000s, and my personal favorite.  I’m going to be donating to their Kickstarter project, and I ask you very nicely to please do the same?  We have 18 days to come up with another $10,061 and if I had that much money I could give it to them in a heartbeat.  For just a glimpse of what this band means to me, read one of my blog posts where I wrote them a letter.  This was the first ska band I heard, and I can’t even describe how excited I am to know I’m going to get new music from them.

Seriously.

Excited. 

So, go to the Kickstarter page, listen to their new song (here’s a link to some lyrics), and give them 100 bucks. Or $50. Or $25. Or $5. Or a dollar. Just help them, please, a tiny bit, for me, and for the world.

800px-Guinness_Storehouse_St._Patrick%27s_Day_sign.jpg

My husband and his brothers are Irish. Every year since I’ve known them we have celebrated St. Patrick’s day in some form or another. It is always a great day filled with much fun. We can usually expect some good Irish music, corned beef and cabbage, drinking, laughing, joking, story telling and a usually a little bit of fighting. They’re the kind of Irish that are proud to be Irish for various different reasons – and it shows. They’re tough, independent, fierce individuals who care deeply and are passionate about the things important to them.

So today’s Miscellaneous Monday is in honor of Brian, who will give you the shirt off your back and work tirelessly alongside you if you need him to. And Cory, who is passionate about integrity and honor and strength of character. And Justin, who is my favorite of them all (after all, he IS my husband) who consistently shows me a dedication to the things that are important to him and integrity when it counts – when (he thinks) no one else notices.

Today is about all things Irish in preparation of March 17th. Enjoy!

Traditions!
Beauty and Bedlam – St. Patricks day tradition ideas – Some cute ideas, LOVE the penny idea. We’ll be doing that as soon as Benjamin is old enough to know not to eat them 😉

Food!
Guinness Corned Beef and Cabbage – A basic idea of dinner in our house on St. Patrick’s day.
Soda Bread – If you know me, you probably know how much I adore a good bread. Here you can learn way more than you ever wanted to about soda bread. And for the record, I lean towards the pure soda bread without any fruits or sweeteners.

Drink!
Tullamore Dew Irish Wiskey – If you’re drinking, this is a good choice.

Music!
– Great Big Sea! A live version, so I apologize in advance, but this is pretty much a classic Irish song. Period.
– by a band called Gaelic Storm. This song makes me giggle every time I hear it.
– This song makes me tear up and I loves it.
– My favorite Dropkick Murphy’s song, period.

I could do this for hours, so let me just name off a few more: Rocky Road to Dublin by Gaelic Storm, Star of the County Down by Mackeel, Fields of Anthenry by Dropkick Murphys, Mountain Dew by The Clancy Brothers… ok. That’s enough to get you started. Enjoy!!

Source for picture: Wikipedia

Dear Supertones,

You were my first love outside of my family (and the cute boy that went to church in the town next to mine, but that’s a different story). I’ll never forget the first time I heard your music.

It was 1997 and life for this then-13-year-old girl was pretty good. I had a good family. Lots of siblings. But music…music was not really my “thing.” I would much rather be reading, sticking my nose into a book and escaping to worlds far away. Worlds where dwarves and hobbits lived among ents, and rings were things whispered about in secret.

My sisters were much more passionate about music. They had their Silverchair and Metallica albums that they listened to in secret. My parents allowed only certain types of music in the house…. anything modern and “rock” was strictly prohibited. It was the devil’s music, you see.

I wasn’t rebellious so I stuck with what was approved and allowed. I listened to some Willie Nelson, George Strait, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash. I listened to Spirit and Bride, which was an amazing Christian band from the early 90’s on an old half-worn cassette tape. I listened to the Statler Brothers.

But see, Supertones, the day my life changed because of you was really a day like any other. We had our chores to do. We had a few fights (and only a little blood was drawn). We probably watched The Adams Family (which was the ONLY movie that 5 Threet children would ever agree on). There was no magical excitement in the air, it was a day like any other. I received your CD as a present – this was when CDs were still kind of a big deal, back when I was nervous about putting a CD in the stereo because heaven forbid I do it wrong and break the expensive machine.

I stared at the cover. Seven men in sunglasses stared back at me. You guys looked great! I had no idea what ska was, by the way. I figured, hey, how bad could these guys be? I used the remote to open the CD tray. Czzh-jjjggg. I wrestled with the cellophane on the CD case. My sisters tried to distract me. I gingerly placed the CD into the tray. Jake ran some GI Joe’s into my foot. I closed the CD tray. I pressed play. The CD player rotated my CD to the back of the stereo. It cycled around a few times to get it’s bearings on the shiny new CD.

I can’t describe the first 7 notes of your first song on that CD in words that are fitting. You know what they are anyways. I can tell you that there are drums and horns and that it’s a smashing way to start an album. You know that. But that doesn’t tell you how my musical world was shattered.

I told you, right, that I listened to country and hokey Christian music for the first 13 years of my life. I didn’t listen to rock, alternative, rap, or anything even remotely close to ska. Your 7 notes absolutely shattered the idea of what music was in my brain. It was this radical new way of looking at music.

I danced around to that CD all day long that day. And the day after that. And the day after that. Your music became a constant theme in my life; something I whistled while at the bus stop and sang in the shower.

Through your first CD I found Five Iron Frenzy and Insyderz and through them I found DC Talk and Jars of Clay and Third Day. But it started with you, Supertones. So I can’t give any other band credit for getting me through a rough spot without first going back to that first day in 1997 when 7 notes rocked my world. I can’t tell Robby Seay Band how much their “Song of Hope” means to me without a nod in your direction because you got me to this point. I can’t tell Jars of Clay how their song “Worlds Apart” is my all time favorite song EVER without a nod to the last song on Supertones Strike Back, “So Great a Salvation.”

You got me here, Supertones. Maybe not by yourself, but those 7 notes that introduce your second album definitely helped pave the way. So thank you. I know you don’t make music anymore – it was 13 years ago, I guess you’ve all moved on to bigger and brighter things. I guess I have too.

But you know what, Supertones? When I was pregnant with my son (who is now 5 months old and super cute) we didn’t bother playing Bach or Beethoven for him. I plugged my ipod into my car and scrolled down to OC Supertones, The. I rolled down to the album “Supertones Strike Back.”

I turned up the volume.

Love,

Jennet

I almost, almost forgot to mention: I’ve been published!

I’ll save you the exciting story of how it happened, but needless to say it was a really awesome moment for me to see my name on their website as the author of an article.  Dan (@takingcharge) and the people over at CreditCards.com are amazing, I’ve loved their website for a while now so to contribute to their cause is pretty amazing.  Go check it out.