Something is Better than Nothing

One of my good friends in high school taught me the motto “Go big or go home.”

For many years, this motto encouraged me to be bold. To think outside the box. Not to let my fear of failure keep me from trying big things. “Go big or go home!” nudged me to try out for the Jazz Band. To dance like no one was looking. To sing in the Wieboldt Arch. To say Yes to my husband.

But lately, in these days of simultaneously working on many projects and being pulled in many directions, I need a new motto.

I’m going to go with “Something is Better than Nothing.” It’s not big and brassy. Definitely not bold. But SIBTN is what these days call for.

When Something is Better than Nothing, the ten minutes of yoga I can squeeze in before breakfast gets me through the day.

When Something is Better than Nothing, wiping the sticky spots off of the floor counts as mopping.

When Something is Better than Nothing, I go for a two-mile run instead of no run at all.

When Something is Better than Nothing, fifteen minutes of snuggles with my daughter means a lot.

When Something is Better than Nothing, I can write a short note to a friend, instead of a three-page letter.

When Something is Better than Nothing, a whole bunch of little gestures add up to a full life. And I am so grateful for the many facets of this life.
from a recent trip to the art museum

What’s your motto these days? Are you needing the boldness of “Go Big or Go Home” or the encouragement of “Something is Better than Nothing”?

phfr: Matilda date

Last week we had tickets to see Matilda, the musical.  Jonah was sick and chose to stay home in bed, so we gave his extra ticket to our seven year-old friend, who rushed over from church to make it in time for the matinée.

Pretty: After the play, we had dinner on the 16th Street Mall, where there are chess boards and a charming but out-of-tune piano for anyone to play.  So we did.


Happy:  After dinner, we had Spring Fling Cake at The Market. (The girls had ice cream.)


Funny: Two Matildas, one Supermodel.
Real: the play is hilarious and scary at the same time (just like the book). Unfortunately, the actors were really hard to understand.  We missed at least half of the dialogue.  We purchased the CD so we could listen to it some more and I’m enjoying it, but I’m sad we couldn’t understand it at the time.  And poor Jonah is listening to it with us and is completely lost, even having read the book.  Bummer.

Podcasts: my favorites

I’m very late to the podcast party, but over the past few months I have found a few favorites.

I like to listen to podcasts while I run… sometimes it’s like a friend is running along with me.
I saw this beauty last week on a walk with an actual (as opposed to radio) friend.

I have downloaded some podcasts related to my interests and found them as dull as paint drying, but these are my favorites:

Another Mother Runner.  Sarah and Dimity chat about all things running.  It’s just like going on a run with your girlfriends.

Radiolab.  I found Radiolab driving home from work, but it seemed to move around the NPR schedule quite a lot, and I couldn’t ever be sure of catching it.  Jad and Robert are fantastic storytellers and share my love of science and history.  And, well, anything.  Heavily edited, often so good I play them for the kids.

Happier with  Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth talk about how to make small changes to all aspects of life to make you happier.

What are your favorites?

phfr: beginning of fall

Pretty: the roses are super happy again.  I think I need to make some time today to sit on the porch swing and enjoy them.


Happy: I made it out for three miles today.  It was cool enough to keep my long-sleeved shirt on the whole time.  I love running in the fall.  (No photo of that: roses instead.)


Funny: This came up on my news feed the other night.  I can’t tell if it’s serious or not.  What do you think?


(If it’s real, then it’s not actually so funny…)

Real: I’m off to call Orthopedics. After he limped around the house with me yelling at him to stop acting ridiculous (hashtag don’t be the child of a doctor if you can help it), I took a look at his foot and realized he’d broken it. But the X-ray didn’t look bad, and I’m hoping this recovery will be quick.


SQT: the kitchen laboratory

One: This is a photo of my daughters mummifying a chicken.


It’s the third time I’ve done this.  First, we did it when Jonah was 5 and we’d just begun our study of ancients history.  He has no recollection of it.  My recollection was very hazy until I realized that I’ve made the exact same mistake 3 times now.

What I should have done was mummify a Cornish hen, because the chickens they sell in the grocery store these days are enormous and a) require an incredible quantity of salt and spices to suck all the liquid out and b) don’t fit in standard freezer bags.  Which means I lasted 4 days before I couldn’t take the smell and had to throw the rotting carcass away.

Two: this is Jonah doing AP biology lab #1.

After watching me freak out for several weeks, my kind husband tentatively asked, “You seem really stressed out. Would it help you if I took over the laboratory portion of AP biology?”


He didn’t have to offer twice.  And let’s be clear: of the two of us, he’s much better qualified than I am.

Three: Did I mention I hate having stuff all over my counters?  My fantasy kitchen is spare and bare with empty counters and wide expanses of space.  But alas, we have to eat, so my counters are covered with food.  Right now I’m trying to figure out what to do with the many lovely tomatoes we received from our CSA over the past two weeks.  (I’ve been eating them every day, but I’m the only one in the family who will.)

Four: In the past week, Moriah has done two osmosis experiments with eggs.  The first culminated in egg all over the counter and floor before I could take a photo.  The second, um… culminated in egg all over the counter and floor before I could take a photo.

Five: This is her other experiment: sodium bicarbonate crystals.

She begged and begged and I said no and said no… until I realized I was telling my child she couldn’t do science because I wanted a clean counter.

Maybe I’m not actually cut out for this home school gig after all.

Six: Amongst the bag of tomatoes (what, you don’t keep your tomatoes in Athleta bags?) and Sculpey creations (that’s a giraffe eating from a tree) and rice is a bag of moldy cheese.  On Monday I took all the moldy cheeses (last count: 5 types) out of the fridge so we could look at the different molds under the microscope… but we haven’t gotten to it yet.


Seven: the other experiment is to see how long I leave that bottle of fake “Original  syrup” we inherited from a pancake breakfast on the counter before I can’t take it any more and throw it away.

Wait- I have an idea!  We could do an egg-osmosis experiment to see which direction the fluids run through the permeable membrane if we soak an egg in corn syrup…

We’ll see if I can capture a photo before it explodes.

For more Seven Quick Takes, check out This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Daybook mid-September


Outside my window: the girls are having a water fight with the neighbors.  I have the windows closed, but I can still hear the happy shrieking.
In the kitchen: We’re hosting a group of medical students tonight for dinner, so Sam made peach-blueberry salsa and I just moved the pork chops from the brine to the marinade. The last time I brined them the pork chops were amazing, but I am not sure what the idea time for brining is. Any advice?

Also, my friend passed on a bunch of her wedding flowers, so I have four gorgeous bouquets around the house. I love flowers.

In the school room: We’ve completed three weeks of school. I think we’re settling into a groove with good books and regular work times. Right now we’re reading The Penderwicks at Point Mouette, The Egypt Game, Job, and The Trumpet of the Swan. Jonah already finished the week’s reading, because he didn’t realize he had two weeks to read Antony and Cleopatra. (Of course, I haven’t finished it yet…)


In the garden: Lots of roses in the garden, and a gazillion tomato flowers with hardly any fruit. This is all I got. They were all volunteer tomatoes, though, so I can hardly complain.


Grateful for: a fantastic weekend in the mountains for a friend’s wedding. Not only did we get to celebrate her and her husband, but we were able to spend time with friends who make me feel like we were together just last week, even though it’s been a year and a half. image

Praying for: Mandy. Judy. Deb and her family. Season. Grace to understand my children better. Refugees.  An end to gun violence.  Sam- his plate is very full right now.