The End of the Beginning and the Beginning of the End

***Originally posted 1/31/15***

Today is the last day of January. The end of the beginning. It has been a great, full, powerful start to the year. If the term “start as you mean to go on” has any weight then this year is going to be great. This month, like every month since having my son, has flown by, as has the rehearsal process for How I Learned To Drive!

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Beginning Again: Shoes, Jesuits, and Motherhood

***Originally posted 1/29/15***

One of the things I love about Jesuit theology is the idea of detachment.  Detachment can sound like a cold word, but it really just means being “less fixated on the stuff that doesn’t truly matter- like money, possessions, or even technology” This does not mean that there is a carelessness or a lack of responsibility about those things. Budgeting and using tools and being a good care taker of what you have are all wonderful things. But this is how I’ve come to think about detachment, and how having a baby has fast tracked my practice of this spiritual discipline.

Obligatory Pope meme… because Jesuits…

In my own experience, the opposite of detachment tends to be anxiety. When I’m too attached to something, I worry about it so much that I stop enjoying it. Sometimes, the anxiety is understandable- like when we just don’t have the income to meet medical emergencies. But the anxiety is NEVER helpful. Here’s a clear example: We were given a gorgeous pair of crystal champagne flutes for our wedding. They are so beautiful and they are from a dear friend and I know the thought behind it was even more beautiful than the flutes themselves. In her card to us, she said that we should use them to celebrate the everyday, not just special occasions. It took me a while before I could fulfill that. I was so obsessed with how beautiful they were that I was afraid to use them. I worried we might break them either while using them or washing them. It took my husband reminding me of the instructions in the card to ever use them.

Here’s to everyday mercies and miracles!

Another example: About five years ago I had a single, clear, favorite pair of shoes. I didn’t want them to wear out… so I never wore them. DO YOU REALIZE HOW CRAZY THAT SOUNDS?! The point of shoes is to be worn!

(Pictured: My wedding shoes were sparkly and perfect. Photos from Katherine Miles Jones. Not pictured, the shoes I’m referencing. Because I couldn’t find a picture because I would not wear them!)

You would think that with the struggle I was already having with detachment, having a baby come along would only magnify that fear. Babies (and toddlers and children in general) are kind of known for getting into things, making messes, breaking things. But amazingly, it’s been the opposite. For the most part, knowing there’s a good chance that even if I put something away or up high and never use it, odds are that someday my child will break something special has allowed me to enjoy them for however long they last! It’s amazing how much we’ve started using special objects to celebrate the everyday since our child was born. I’m talking pizza on china, drinking out of my favorite coffee cup, wearing clothes that make me happy even though they will probably end up drooled on or spit up on, and yes, using those champagne flutes.

But I’ve changed my attitude towards more than just material things: Let’s give a nonmaterial example that was not mentioned above: plans. I definitely lean toward a type A personality. I was also praised a lot growing up for doing ALL THE THINGS. This was kind of the environment of the schools I went to and programs I was involved in.

I was used to scheduling out every day to the minute sometimes. If someone was late my anxiety levels would go through the roof because it meant my whole day might be thrown off. It was crazymaking (Rather, it IS crazymaking). I still struggle with this tendency sometimes, especially of overcommitting. Or making to-do lists for myself and then feeling they HAVE to get done. Completely. Today. When I am the only one expecting that!  It’s important to respect the time of yourself and others. But meeting a friend for coffee should not be a stressful experience., even if they end up 30 minutes late. And sometimes now, with trying to get the baby ready and having unexpected needs to change him last minute or feed him before we go to avoid crying the whole way there etc. etc. I’m the one who ends up late. This used to seem like the end of the world. I would drive like a crazy person to assure I was somewhere on time if not ten minutes early. Now it’s something I do my best to avoid, but in the end… what is all this in light of eternity? I am trying every single day to look at my baby, look how fast he is growing up, and to SLOW MYSELF DOWN.

Trying to make sure that Busy is not one of the words in my year of Bs…

This is not to say that I’ve achieved some zen state of total detachment. NOT EVEN CLOSE. In fact, do you know why I wrote this post? Because we used a really beautiful baby gift for the first time recently, and I found it totally stained with bright orange carrot/squash baby food that I’m wasn’t sure would ever come out. I wanted to cry and tell my husband “this is why we can’t have nice things!” I had a terrible attitude for about 20 minutes as I finished sorting laundry and folding the load that had just come out of the dryer, and then I walked into the next room and found my husband rocking our sleeping baby, just like he did when our son was a newborn.

(Pictured: newborn status. Nothing like sleeping in dad’s arms!)

And I started to laugh at how WONDERFUL our life is and how thankful I was that I didn’t wreck this perfect moment by screaming about a stained baby blanket. God is continually trying to remind us of the things that matter. But sometimes it takes a little practice with detachment to see it.

Begin: Healthier Living

***Originally posted 1/22/15***

So, I know I brag about him a lot but… my husband is pretty awesome at giving Christmas gifts. He likes to give me gifts that are all in one theme- it’s his way of giving something intangible in a tangible way. As Tom Stoppard might put it, he has a talent for the “poetry of practical gesture” and it’s one of the things I love about him! Our first year together, we were living in Virginia and, being a Phoenician through and through, I was woefully unprepared for winter. He gave me the gift of Warmth that year. He had already given me an electric heater and he added to that a wonderful winter coat and a pair of cozy and beautiful boots

That’s me… next to a pile of snow TALLER than my 5’2” self….

Sporting my warm winter coat and boots in DC with a classmate (husband not pictured)

(OK, I picked out the boots) and he also got me some of those instant hand warmer packs.

When I was pregnant last Christmas, he gave me the gift of Comfort: Continue reading

Beginnings- How I Learned to Drive

***This was originally posted on 1/3/15***

Today was the first rehearsal for the play I’m directing that opens in February: How I Learned to Drive. It was exciting and exhausting and wonderful to be back in the rehearsal room. Last night I could barely sleep it almost felt like Christmas all over again.

Of course, having rehearsals added to our family schedule requires quite a bit of juggling and sacrifice from Dan and I, and those we have helping with childcare, so we agreed before having the baby that 1. We would wait until our little one was 6 months old before attempting to jump back into the theatre world and 2. We would only work on projects we felt really strongly about. How I Learned to Drive fit perfectly. Our son is now 7 months and …Drive is a dream project. Continue reading

Baking #1: 42 projects in 52 weeks- “Everyday Bread”

***This was originally posted on 1/2/15***

So… yesterday was the first day of 2015. I had planned to start the new year with a hike or a picnic in the park or something outdoorsy and embracing all things beginning again. Then this happened:

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As one of my best friends put it when she texted me this picture: “What the f is this?”

For those of you who aren’t Phoenicians… this is basically ungodly cold for us. Any weather that does not allow the semi-comfortable wearing of flip flops, no matter what month it is, is not OK.

So… instead of trying to bundle my kid up and take him outside (how do you Midwestern families do it?! I mean baby snowsuits are cut and all but I can barely get my son into a single layer of clothes with all the wiggling.) I put him in his high chair, put on our favorite youtube videos to dance to, and decided that the best way to warm up was to turn on the oven and to try my hand at baking bread. This also meant it was time to bust open the giant brick of yeast I had purchased for my 2015 goal:

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It was pretty fun to watch the yeast explode out when I cut the vacuum seal…

I figure now that I’ve invested in this much yeast, I HAVE to bake bread/pretzels/bagels/etc, right?

For my first batch of bread I decided to try the first recipe in this book:

image3It claimed it was easy,  and the 2-3 hours the bread needed to rise was a good opportunity to get some new year’s cleaning done. AHAHAHHAHA just kidding. My baby is teething and getting over an ear infection so he’s still on the fussy side of life which meant most of that time was spent trying to get him to nap, putting him in the baby carrier so I could put away some Christmas stuff (we STILL haven’t put away Christmas gifts. I guess today is the day), and listening to Amy Poehler’s audiobook pretending she and I are best friends.  When I left the bread to rise it did not look very pretty and I thought for sure I had messed it up and straight away I would have my first utter failure to blog about… but I patiently waited. And it seemed to rise just fine.

yup, our oven is a hot mess… literally… but doesn't the bread look good?!

yup, our oven is a hot mess… literally… but doesn’t the bread look good?!

And after it had time to bake,  it came out looking pretty good:

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It tasted alright too! At first I thought it was just ok… then I melted some butter on a slice and it  becaome something I definitely will eat again and my husband said it was the best bread he’d tasted in a long time. There’s a pretty thick crust on it but the inside is really soft, and the crust was actually baby’s favorite part because he could gnaw on it like a teething toy!

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For round one of baking, I am going to call it a win. But hopefully the next loaf will be even better.

Intro to this crazy blog and a very happy new year

***This post was originally published on December 31, 2014***

Hello 2015!

So… this is going to be the year of Bs. My goal is to have 2015 center around the Bs listed in the blog title-

  1. Babies. I havea beautiful 7 mo. old and every day is a new adventure as he grows and changes and needs new things. I can’t imagine going a year without writing about the experiences involving him and the lessons motherhood is teaching me.
  1. Baking– I am hoping to try a lot of new recipes this year and I have always been more of a baker than a cook so that is where I will focus. Some weeks it might be cookies or cakes, others it will really be pushing outside my comfort zone with bread or croissants. Sometimes the recipes may not strictly be baking (i.e. on my ½ planned list there are recipes for tortillas and pasta. Not technically baking but a lot of flour and hoping things go right anyway!) My goal is to bake/cook 42 new things in the 52 weeks of this year.
snickerdoodle

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle I baked this fall… I have a soft spot for carbs, and a few soft spots from carbs…

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