Warning: your storage is almost full

Do you see this warning regularly on your phone?  I do, and I’m starting to take it as a metaphor for my life.

My phone has all sorts of apps on it:

  • my photography apps (a camera and multiple apps to store and share my photos)
  • several e-readers (for books, news feed and blogs, as well as a Bible app, the Book of Common Prayer and another that has daily devotions)
  • apps to keep track of everything (finances, our home security system, our solar power, and our grocery lists)
  • music and exercise apps (and I can’t even use the exercise apps right now, sigh)
  • apps to keep track of my children (Find my Phone, Find my Friends, and several ways I track their online presence)
  • and then the gigabytes of medical information I use on a regular basis at work.

No wonder I’m of out storage.

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I’m out of mental storage as well.  I’m not talking about long-term memory here, but short term.  RAM.  I’ve been making meal plans but don’t make it to the grocery store to have all the ingredients on hand.  I reserve library books and don’t make it to the library in time to pick them up before the clerks reshelve them.  I showed up on day 2 of a two-day CME not realizing I had the dates wrong. (I missed the whole first day.)  I’ve been missing appointments and forgetting to call people back or respond to emails in a timely fashion. Thank goodness Sam pays the bills, or those would be late, too.

The obvious solution would be to quit my job, send my children to boarding school, and play Tetris till my thumbs fall off.

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Since that’s not an option, I’m going to follow my tried-and-true method of letting go of my perfectionism (just look at my kitchen floor for proof I’ve let go), taking a deep breath first, and keeping the calendar to one page.  I have stopped reading and listening to most of the news, and turning instead to prayer.  I’m still reeling from the election and full of fear, honestly.  But I seem to be doing better by taking long (and short) walks.

How do you find more RAM?

London Vacation: the boys’ favorites

While the girls’ favorite things were shopping and Harry Potter at Warner Brother Studios, the boys had very different tastes.

We happened to be traveling during the 50th anniversary of Star Trek (the original TV show), and the BBC was having a Star Trek marathon.  Owen loved this and spent a fair bit of time watching Star Trek, mostly with his grandparents.  While it killed me to think of our traveling to another continent for him to watch TV, it was really the vacation he wanted, plus awesome time with his grandparents.  So I shut up and let them all enjoy it.

Jonah, less interested in Star Trek, loved the British Museum.  We all did, really, but he was the only one who wanted to go twice.  When I came back from my morning alone at Kew Gardens, he and I hopped on the Tube and went back to the museum together.

Here he is being one of the heads in the progression of Curls Through the Ages (not the actual name of the exhibit):

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Another highlight for him was the interactive history at the Tower of London.  He and Owen were both drawn into the action.

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The three of us went on the Cutty Sark, and the whole family enjoyed the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich.

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Jonah is definitely more a museum-guy than Owen, but I think there was enough down time (a.k.a Star Trek) to balance it out for him.

I highly recommend the boat tour from Westminster Bridge to Greenwich, though I’m glad we only went one way.

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Here are the other posts on our London trip, if you missed them:

My tips for planning a London vacation with kids

In which I turn into a crazy fan girl and more.

Election Daybook

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Out my window: still roses and blue skies.  Such a gift. I might not be so grateful when I want to ski and there’s no snow, but today I am immensely grateful.

In the kitchen: We’re having a Taco Tuesday with neighbors tonight in hopes of defeating Lord Business.

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In the schoolroom: We finished Swallows and Amazons yesterday.  Those books are some of my favorites.  Even the older kids, who have been protesting rereading books we read a long time ago, gave no pushback about rereading this one.  We’re looking forward to the movie!  We reached 1500 in The World of Christopher Columbus and Sons, and it’s tense in the Mysterious Benedict Society.  Today we’ll be reading Sobel’s Presidential Elections and Other Cool Facts.

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We’ve also been filling out hypothetical electoral maps.  Just the number of delegates per state generated some heated discussion among my kids.  They are excited to fill in the real numbers tonight, and Jonah is hooked on FiveThirtyEight.

The chess board has been pulled out, which is good and bad.  Good: chess is fruitful brain work.  Bad: the loser is really unhappy.

In my shoes: Still no running happening, though my physical therapist just cleared me to increase my walking “mileage” (not sure we can even call it that at this point) by 10% a week.

On my reading table: The kids listened to much of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows without me, so I’m filling in the bits I missed.  So much good stuff in those last three chapters.  And I’m reading Dick’s The Man in the High Tower, a 1962 counterfactual novel about what 1950 in San Francisco would have looked like if Japan and Germany had won WWII.  Fascinating.

Grateful for:  My friend Lori and I took the kids (minus one) to the Denver Art Museum this weekend.  I prepared a homemade photo scavenger hunt, which occupied most of them enough that she and I were able to have a conversation.  Look at this amazing then and now:

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The top photo was taken so long ago that the two youngest children weren’t even in it.  I am so grateful for both then, and now.

Praying for: Mandy.  Grace and perseverance for all that’s on my plate right now.  I pray for our friends in the Philippines- for their safety and peace during turmoil, and for our friends in Fiji.

And for our country I pray that after this challenging election season with so much divisive language and hateful rhetoric, we may as a nation choose mutual respect, justice, hope and a shared gratitude for the stability of our republic as we move forward into a new administration.

Looking forward to Advent

I hate Halloween.  I’m like a Halloween Grinch.

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And I especially hate that Halloween falls during my birthday month (yes, I’m that annoying person who wants the whole month to be about me), so that all of October as I’m admiring the gorgeous fall colors, giant plastic pumpkins and creepy skeletons keep intruding.  There’s a giant plastic spider in a polyester web over an exam room at work that made one of my young patients scream the other day, and I knew just how he felt.

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This is what I love about October.

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And this, too.

The one thing I like about Halloween is that it tells me Advent is almost here.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Thanksgiving and especially Christ the King Sunday (the last Sunday before Advent, this year on November 20).  But I especially love Advent. It’s a season of contemplation and prayer.

I love that the Giant Retail Machine has not figured out how to turn Advent into a commercial enterprise.

In a fit of pique about a particularly icky lawn ornament I saw the other day, I came home and pulled out our Advent books, just to see if there were any gaps I wanted to fill in.  (There were.  I ordered a few new-to-us books.)

If you don’t have any Advent traditions, or want to know what the Advent fuss is all about, let me recommend a few of my favorite Advent resources.

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For advance planning and ideas for how to meditate and celebrate at home, I recommend Let Us Keep the Feast, edited by Jessica Snell. For each of the church seasons, it provides a collection of resources, including an introduction to the season, an explanation of the calendar, information on seasonal traditions- old, new and international, seasonal recipes, suggestions for how to celebrate with the very young, ways to serve beyond the home, selected readings, music and prayers. (I wrote the section on Ordinary Time, but that isn’t my favorite one.)  The book is available from Doulos Resources, or Amazon, both in electronic, pdf and paperback forms.

Elizabeth Foss has an Advent devotional called Comfort and Joy that looks beautiful (though I haven’t tried it.)  She also has some lovely book lists I’ve used to shape our collection of special books we read during Advent.

In past years we have enjoyed Geraldine McCaughrean’s The Jesse Tree, which we’ve read as an Advent family devotion.  This year, I think we’ll be back to Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas.

Do you have an Advent resource to recommend as we look ahead (past Halloween)? Please share in the comments.

Happy Birthday to Me!

In our house something breaks (or is broken) approximately every 7 seconds.  And it kills me to have to replace a perfectly good thing that was broken because my children someone was careless.  I’ve posted on the minor triumph of doing a repair myself. Sometimes it goes awry, such as when I popped my phone into a bag of rice to dry it out.  But more often than not, I have success at least for a time. I have twice replaced the cracked back glass on an iPhoneI am the queen of finding replacement parts online (think coffee maker carafe, food processor bowl, blender lid) and would a thousand times rather repair what I have than get a new one.

Approximately a year ago, we were on our way home from vacation, and I brought a tall cup of tea in my cup-with-a-lid onto the plane.  It took me about five minutes to pour the entire contents into my backpack.  Miraculously, my computer stayed completely dry, but the camera absorbed about 16 ounces of tea with milk.  I tried the bag of rice, the hairdryer, paper towels, and letting it sit open in the dry Colorado air. I replaced the battery pack.  All to no avail.

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Five seconds before the accident. Can anyone identify this movie?  I can’t. Should my then-7-year-old have been watching it? Probably not.

I almost bought a new camera before our trip last month and then decided I was still mad at myself for ruining the last one.  I finally  gave the broken one  to Phoebe to use as a toy camera and used my phone’s camera in London.

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Not bad for a phone camera.

On my birthday last week, Phoebe came to take a “birthday picture” of me with the broken camera.  We both knew this was all make-believe.  I posed, she pushed the on button, and the camera turned on.  Then she pushed the shutter button, and it took my photo.  Not only that, but the photos taken immediately before the drowning were still on the memory card.  Happy birthday to me!!

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No, this is not my birthday cake.  This is the 15-month old previously unseen photo of a birthday cake from 2015, but it still makes me hungry.

Autumn Rhythms

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We are a month back from our trip, and I feel like our autumn schedule is finally becoming routine. With dance and swim team each four times a week, voice lessons, piano lessons, three weekly online classes, meetings for the library’s teen advisory board, weekly physical therapy and school, it’s taken us a bit to fall into a rhythm.

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The calendar in my phone looks like a crazy quilt, with all sorts of overlapping blue and green and red squares.  What’s helping is a sit-down each weekend to plan the next week on paper.

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There are little pockets of autumn beauty in the week as well.  My porch is exactly the right temperature (and quiet!) for a quiet time between our read-aloud hour and lunch.  The roses are blooming like nobody’s business, and our burning bushes are finally burning.  Sam added two trees to our postage-stamp of a yard: one redbud and one apple.

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I’m learning to make a short walk through the garden part of my autumn rhythm. Smell the roses. Admire the chrysanthemums. Thank the chickens and the peach tree for the bounty they gave us this summer.

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I am learning to make gratitude and marvel parts of my fall rhythm. I just wish it hadn’t taken me so long.

An Evening for Refugees

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A few weeks ago was the annual art show/fundraiser for the refugee organization we work with, Project Worthmore.

A few members of our refugee family came, and were happy to see some of their friends there. We got to introduce them to our friends, and to two of the artists in the art show, which thrilled them.

To me, the best part of the evening was hearing the story of how relationships, which are slow and messy and don’t have any shortcuts, make the differences in people’s lives.  With so much anti-refugee rhetoric being shouted from the political stage right now, it was inspiring to be with so many people who say, “Yes, you are welcome here.”

New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus (on the Statue of Liberty)

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”