Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Magic Hour

I love the hour or so around dusk. I hear photographers call it the "magic hour..." when almost anything you shoot turns out really well. I love how everything seems to glow in the soft light. I love that if you're out in it, you want to stop, look around, and soak it all in.

While there are those types of "magic hours" every day, I like to think there are similar magical hours in our family's life. Moments that are a predictable but special and able to be enjoyed nonetheless. While they are as common as dirt, you have to be ready and present for them or you'll take them for granted, miss them. Everyday moments I pray that the Lord would give me open eyes, ears, and a heart for.

I had several of the above moments with Nathan this weekend. I attended a women's retreat with my church and he came along with me. I cherished this time alone with my second son... who every day waits for big brother to go first. Nathan, my son- a male, was a highlight of my time on a women's retreat... go figure! I loved having him all to myself and giving him all of my attention. Although there was baby equipment for him, I preferred to keep him on my lap. I must have kissed those smooth, warm, and fluffy cheeks 10,000 times. His responsive giggles and nuzzles convinced me as much. I thrived in that special time between the two of us.

Much less often are those very special moments that surprise me in the life of my family. The moments of sudden deep connection that goes beyond any human comprehension. They happen to me very infrequently. These moments broadside me; whether I am paying attention or not, they melt me, floor me. They again remind me that there is someOne much bigger than I orchestrating such beautiful moments.

Tonight at the end of dinner, Doug was swinging on the porch swing with a tired Nathan and I was waiting for a tired Justin to finish his dinner. And it happened. Justin and I were playing a game where I make a face and he imitates me. We were cracking up at each other's faces... sincerely and fully enjoying each other's company. Between the faces, Justin would gaze into my eyes, waiting for the next face I was to make. But a few of those pauses lingered. I felt like we were staring into each other's souls. I felt like we were both ageless... I was not 31 and he was not almost 2. I wasn't even Mommy and him son. To watch a video of the moment, you would have missed it. It was internal, a moment my gut told me was happening. And it was beautiful.

While very different, both types of moments are special in their own way. And to experience both this weekend with my sons, I am grateful.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Happy Birthday, Missy

Today's post is written in honor of my blogging inspiration, Missy. Tuesday is her birthday and so I want her to wake up and see a post in her honor.

As I clear out the cobwebs in my brain, I remember our first lunch date at Trio on Main Street in Greenville. I had just relocated to Greenville and had no friends. I was anxious for a good buddy... one of those girlfriends you can spontaneously call or talk with for hours, one within whose home you can feel your cares melting away. Through witty conversation, thoughtful questions, and a calm presence, Missy started to be that friend that day.

So many wonderful memories...
long conversations while I procrastinated from work

praying together at your kitchen table

sifting through dates and men, getting your good exhortation and wisdom

watching Fight Club with you and John

holding Joshua at 1 day old

laughing and crying together over various Greenville cultures.... Furman, church, etc.

seeing the beginning of your scrapbooking and your photography, and watching it blossom through now

experiencing your listening ear as my heart began to fall for my Doug

living with you guys for several days just before my wedding... and Joshua having a reaction to meds which kept him (and all of us) up all night :)

having you stand with me as my matron of honor as I married my beloved

receiving your counsel when we've needed it over the years

Missy, thanks for your friendship, your sisterhood. Thanks for sharing your life with me, and for diving into mine. Thanks for your consistent pursuit. Thanks for enlarging my vision for being a wife, a mommy, a disciple, and a responsible citizen.

While reaching another milestone of a birthday is no fun as you consider the years going by with your boys, I hope and pray you'll take comfort knowing you have engaged them in all ways deeply. May all your precious memories fuel an excitement, a joy, and a vision to grow with them in all the years to come! I love you friend! Happy Birthday!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Hip Rider

Doug's parents are in town, so after (we thought) the kids were sound asleep, we went out for a little date. It turned out that both were up for a while. Glad I didn't know until we came home!

We had planned on going somewhere for dessert and coffee, when Doug suggested we go to BedBathBeyond to look for new knives and a few other things on our list. (We lost all our knives in our move... they are probably in some strange box now put in a place unknown to us--- like under Nathan's bed or something.) A goofy grin spread over my face at the suggestion of spending an evening combing its isles.

You see, Doug and I have inordinate amounts of fun when we go to a place like that without kids for a "date." I'm not sure what it is. We've had lots of talking time several evenings this week, so having a shared experience was perfect.

So we gathered up all 31 20%-off BBB coupons my mother mailed us (do you know they don't actually EVER expire?) and engaged in flirtatious bumps of the elbow and inappropriate words spoken loudly as others walked by.

One of the things on our list was a laundry basket. The only one they sold (we thought it humorous they only sold one kind... probably due to all the infomercial stuff crammed in their isles) was titled "Hip Rider." It has an indention on one side sit "comfortably" on your hip. That was just too much for Doug. "Here woman! Try it out, right where it belongs on ya!" One reason why it is so funny is because it is so far from Doug's character to force that role one me, even so literally.

I'm certain these types of exchanges between my beloved and me cannot be retold in a way understood or appreciated by the lot of the world. That is one thing precious between lovers. Love looks so foolish from the outside. What a gift it is to experience foolishness to vividly on the inside.

If you care to share-and its appropriate for our ears!, what are foolish things experienced by you and your lover?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

From Bob to Fish, Ducks, and Feet

Books are littered all over our den and Justin's room. The light is no longer at the end of the tunnel; we are now lit ourselves!

The past several days have been difficult for Justin and thus, for us. The trip out of town and the move have been harder on him than we had anticipated. He has argued "no no!" through tears against much of the direction we gave him. We've been hitting our heads against walls (sometimes literally) and leaning on the Lord for that extra pound of patience, love, wisdom, and compassion. He helped us know when to be consistent and when to be flexible with our rules. He showed up with grace for all of us when we were at the end of our ropes.

Over the last few months, the occasional "relief" video turned into a palpable addiction. Justin always wanted more "Bob!" (the Builder- kinda funny with our lot in life these days!) and started not even wanting to watch it, but always wanting more anyway. We've had many of those moments when your toddler does not make sense and you just gotta tell them you love them and wait for them to move past the season. He had stopped playing with his toys or reading his books. "Bob!" was all he wanted.

So, upon return from Charlotte and into our new pad, we decided to purge our system of "Bob!" (Sometime we'll bring "Bob!" back after it seems a healthy time to do so.) Justin's asking for it less and less. And today while I was nursing Nathan (previously- ample "Bob!" time), Justin sat contentedly on the floor in front of me paging through a pile of books he retrieved from his "wooom!" He's back to loving books and requesting his favorites, currently "The Rainbow Fish" (with the "ish" and the "ah pus pus"-octopus), "Some Ducks", and "The Foot Book."

So we are feeling blessed at the Flaherty household.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Seeking Paint Color Advice

Two posts in one night, a new record.

Do ya'll remember our old master bdrm? Deep lavendar velvet duvet on bed, dark "antiquey" green furniture, light lavendar/grey walls... silver and white accents, grey carpet. Very monochrome.

We still have our lavendar velvet duvet and the same furniture. Probably not liked by all, but hey- we love it. I just bought on sale on sale on sale again- the 20%off coupon from BedBathBeyond... beautiful sparkly lav and silver throw pillows for bed. The floors will be medium dark oak hardwoods.

Help me w/paint colors! I want less lavendar and more grey, but i'm not sure. we're thinking of adding a chair rail... and having a more grey/little lavendar wall... maybe a darker shade on the bottom and lighter of the same color above the chair rail. But that might be kinda busy. What do you think? or should we have same color above and below chair rail? Or should I put lav on bottom and some creamy white/neutral color on the top? I would appreciate ANY and all feedback on this one... particularly from you Missy. My blog spouse. :) Or as Doug just proclaimed, "my blouse."

Oops I Did It Again

I have this problem of saying stupid things.

There was the time I was shopping for bras at the outlet malls in Williamsburg. I knew there were two different Maidenform stores--- for different sized women. I walked into one and asked the clerk if this was the store selling the "normal" sized bras. She, who happened to be bountiful in every way physically, replied, "I prefer to say 'average,' because otherwise that would mean I'M abnormal."

There was the time I spoke at USC's large group meeting about the book of Ruth. I was trying to explain the cultural background of the interaction between Ruth and Boaz... trying to explain how she wasn't asking for sex. All appropriate words describing sex vacated my mind... including intercourse, making love, even the word "sex" itself. Instead what bumbled out of my mouth to these young and previously innocent college students was "She wasn't trying to get him to.... do the nasty." Where I had heard that phrase I had no idea. Probably some movie I saw as a teenager from which I buried the phrase for such a time as this.

And yesterday I did it again. This time in the privacy of my own home. Home alone with the boys, I was eager to get out of the for a few minutes while Justin slumbered during his afternoon nap. I carried Nathan to the back of the house to check out the work being done on our addition. As I admired their work, I noticed our contractor was the only one there today, which was unusual. Without thinking, I asked him, "So are you here alone?" Right after it came out of my mouth, I realized it could sound like a come on. Especially since it was obvious that I was home with only the boys. I quickly gave a few complements of the work and made my way back to the front of the house.

Gives me lots of blog fodder for years to come!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sweet Potato Pie

is currently in my tummy. You might think making homemade pie was my next attempt to feel at home in our new digs. Although the pie describes itself as "fresh," be assured that it was "fresh" out of a Mrs. Smiths box. My latest Grocery Game deal. Yummy and easy.

Curious what was in this frozen treat, I was pleasantly surprised to find sweet potatoes as the first ingredient. Who knew? I decided not to read on... I think the ingredient list was a good 25% of the back of the box. At this moment I am okay about eating things like sorbate, artificial colors, and high fructose corn syrup... all at 18 grams of fat per serving- no trans fat though... so it must be healthy. I guess you can tell I decided to go ahead and read the box. Anyway...

More and more, Doug and I are trying to eat more healthy and responsibility. You live in Asheville long enough and its organic/local food thrush will grow on you. We only buy organic milk for us and Justin, after hearing about the hormones fed to (unorganic) cows . Our many vegetarian students are starting to make a lot of sense about their choices. We're not ready to give up our bacon, but ready to consider decreasing the amount of meat we consume for our own health and for the sake of caring better for the earth. Our latest conviction is to buy organic, free-trade, shade-grown coffee.

But I'm on the fence in many ways. I loved my slice of frozen, never-gonna-spoil Mrs. Smith's pie today. And I refuse to let anyone or anything let me feel guilty about it!

Last night, Doug and I enjoyed dinner at (gasp!) Denny's... and really enjoyed that kids eat free on Saturday night... for any amount of kids by the way. After overeating pork scraps(sausage), bad coffee, too much butter, syrup, and eggs, Doug exclaimed, "I think we'll be that family that eats at Denny's every night." I'm kinda so embarrassed that we would even consider such a thing... but kind of intrigued as well.

While I respect and appreciate the organic vision-- for our health and the environment, I'm at this point unwilling to shift more money from other areas in our budget in order to go all organic. But I do feel the tension. Do you?

If you would like to share, what are the areas regarding health that you have developed a conviction for? What are the areas in which you've decided to be lackadaisical?

Friday, March 9, 2007

At Home

We've recently been in the long process of moving into our new home. The process begun in September at the closing and continues to the present. We just moved in last week. We're all here--- all 4 of us and all our stuff, but the addition is incomplete so we won't be completely settled for a bit more.

The second day here, I told Doug that I was surprised at how quickly I felt at home here. I felt such a sigh of relief to be at this point after all of the work we've done. I loved the coziness of the place even then, and loved the view of a street bursting with bungalows from our large front porch.

Since those first couple days, I've been to Charlotte and back to get the boys and me out of dodge while Doug immersed himself in some "nonchild-friendly" projects.

Upon returning, I've realized that the initial feelings of "at home" have largely relocated. They've been replaced by some unwelcommed tenants of stress and restlessness.

I don't have a routine for this place yet. I have no place for my keys. Justin, routine-boy, isn't yet telling me what next thing to do or where things should go.

My stuff hasn't all found a home. Until the addition (master bedroom, bath, and rest of kitchen) is complete, our furniture will be stuffed in some unlikely places... so we can't yet hang pictures and that kind of thing since everything will be shifted.

My days have been filled with much different activities of late. Things like doing laundry (our laundry room isn't quite finished- hopefully tomorrow!) and preparing food (part of the kitchen including my oven is blocked for dry-wall sanding currently) used to fill my day to the brim. Now, I'm shipping my laundry to some friends-saints really- to do for us, eating lots of canned/frozen food, etc. These are chores I definitely didn't googoo over, but they were a part of my daily activities... structures in which I found "homeyness" that I oddly miss. And, obviously, I haven't been able to write on my blog!

I don't know the how this street runs quite yet. We don't have nicknames for all the neighbors yet, don't know the peculiarities of the culture of this street.

Many of my hopeful thoughts about the neighborhood have been replaced with negativity. The Family Dollar down the street, which reflects the socio-economic diversity of the area, used to make me excited about living amidst the cultural variety that Asheville offers. Now, it's ugly and annoying. And I find my flesh hoping the neighborhood would "progress" to a point where it wouldn't need such an establishment in its midst. And I wonder how I can avoid naming it as a landmark upon giving friends directions to our pad.

So where does that leave me? Sharing these thoughts with you, with the Lord, with my husband. I know I love a God who longs that I know Him more deeply. And as I clung to Him today, He gratefully reminded me some truth....

That my reality, my settledness, how I feel at home... isn't dependent upon hung pictures but upon His Reality... His Gospel, His plan for our life here, His love for me, His redemption. With that said, I'm certain he wouldn't be angry or humored by my feelings... I'm sure He'd understand with compassion all that I'm feeling. But I think if I could sit down for a cuppa joe with Him, He'd graciously listen all the while graciously redirecting my thoughts to these Realities. And I think He'd encourage my love for order-- while also reminding me to use it to bless but not to lean on it for strength and hope.

And I think I'd ask Him to tell me all that He loves about my new neighborhood.
And I imagine Him never finishing.